What would you do?

I’ve written a couple times about how Monito has had a hard time eating. When he turned 9 months old (earlier this month) I emailed his pediatrician and told her that he still was only eating about an ounce (usually less) of purees at a sitting and would put a few foods (mostly just buttered toast) into his mouth and gum it around for a long time, but couldn’t seem to swallow it. Either he’d accidentally spit it out, or eventually I’d have to go in and get it.

She wrote back immediately, declaring it was “time to get some help,” and referred me to an OT. I now have an appointment on August 6th.

Except in the past week Monito seems to have turned a corner because suddenly, he can eat. He will take 2, sometimes even 3 ounces of purees at a sitting (only a few different purees, only fresh purees if I mix them with the store-bought stuff and only stuff with the smoothest textures). He can put cooked carrots, or beans, in his mouth, gum them around and eventually swallow them. He’s still pretty picky but he’s willing to put more than just two or three things in his mouth and he doesn’t automatically spit new stuff out the minute he tastes them. He went from a baby who seemed to have real eating difficulties to a baby who is just picky and a few months behind. I’m even phasing out two bottles he has been only somewhat interested in and “replacing them” with solids. (I quote “replacing them” because he was only taking 2 ounces for those bottles most of the time.)

So the question is, do I keep that appointment on August 6th, just to make sure he’s where he needs to be and I shouldn’t be doing any special work with him? Or do I just cancel it and assume he’ll be fine moving forward? What would you do?

To thank you in advance for your advice, here is a picture of Monito, gnawing at his first burrito. He actually got some rice and beans in his mouth! And swallowed them! (I had to fish out a ton of tortilla though, and he was NOT happy about that.)

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Smaller, More Reachable Goals

Thank you all for your kind words of encouragement on my last post. I realized as I was reading them that my post made it seemed like, at 155lbs, I was where I wanted to be. That isn’t actually the case, I want to be at 145 so I can wear all my old clothes, especially my size 8 pants. I was going to write a post about how I haven’t really reached my goal, and that I still have a ways to go, but then I stopped.

Because you know what? Fuck that. I did reach a goal. There was a reason I was focusing on 155 first–I knew that when I reached it I’d feel a lot better about myself, my clothes would fit better, and I wouldn’t feel so desperate to see the scale move. And I was right. I feel so much better in my skin. When I see myself in the mirror I don’t cringe. Sometimes I actually think, Damn, I look pretty good! I got myself some capris and tops for the St. Louis trip so I don’t have to wear my worn out, stained maternity clothes anymore. The bras I bought at the beginning of my pregnancy fit pretty well. I don’t feel the need to starve myself to see drastic weight loss. I’m not where I want to be, but I’m in a MUCH better place than I was when I started. Those 15 lbs made a HUGE difference and I worked hard to get them off, so I’m going to celebrate where I am, instead of just thinking about where I want to be. I’m glad I set that initial goal of 155lbs. I’m glad I was working toward that first, so when I got there I could take a moment to reflect on what I had done. If I were only focused on 145 and fitting into my size 8s, I’d probably feel pretty battered down right now, like I’d never cross the finish line. Instead, I feel proud of myself–and I should!–for making a real, measurable change to my body.

I’m glad I had this experience now, before I start really working toward bettering myself as a writer. If I set smaller, more reachable goals on that journey, I will set myself up for more celebration and less disappointment. Especially in the beginning, I want to make sure my goals are achievable, things that I KNOW I can do because only I stand in the way of not doing them. Signing up for a writing class was my first goal, and I already achieved that. Completing that class will be my second goal, along with a few other things that I’m working on now (and will talk more about soon). These are all things that I am in complete control of achieving. They don’t require anything outside of myself, like a certain number of page views or having submitted work accepted. I hope I can remember this lesson for at least the first two years; my goals should be about what I can control, otherwise I might start feeling hopeless or depressed. Otherwise I might give up.

I need to do this with some other things too, like paying down my credit card debt. I think I’ll make my first goal to get down to $4000, and then down to $2000. It’s hard to pay that thing off, and every time I reach a goal I should take a moment to appreciate what I’ve done. Maybe then it won’t seem so daunting.

I’m sure some other goals of mine could be restructured in this way. I’ll have to start doing this more.

Are you more successful when you create smaller, more reachable goals? Is there a goal you’re working toward now that might benefit from some restructuring?

155

155It finally happened.

At nine months postpartum (last week), I finally saw 155 on the scale. Actually, I saw exactly 155 on the scale, which I thought was pretty cool.

It took me almost three weeks longer than I had hoped to get there, but it bears mentioning that 10 days of that three weeks I was in St. Louis–during which time I gained no weight despite not walking as much and not being able to exercise–so all in all, I’m pretty happy.

I continue to not watch my intake as closely as I’d like, but I am making myself stick to three reasonable meals a day with no snacking in between, so it could be worse.

I’m working out three times a week, doing 30 minutes on the elliptical followed by Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred (which is not almost a 30 minute workout, despite what the DVD cover says). I’m on level 2 now, and it’s finally starting to feel manageable without breaks (those workouts are no joke!). I’m walking to pick up Osita at least three times a week–my daily steps are usually between 10,000 and 13,000.

I go back to work in three weeks, and during one week of that Osita will be home (so no working out, or greatly reduced working out). I’d love to lose another three pounds in those three weeks but honestly, at this point, I’m pretty happy where I am. Of course I’d be thrilled to get back down to 145 or (god forbid) 140 like I was before Osita, but I have some clothes to wear now and I my body no longer feels cumbersome and unfamiliar. In fact, for the first time in a long time, I feel strong, and I like that.

I guess the plan moving forward is to just keep working out when I can (and I’ll have to figure out what is doable once I’m back at work again, I highly doubt what I’m doing now will be sustainable when I’m working full time) and keep watching what I eat. I doubt I’ll be on the scale much now that I hit my big goal of 155. I guess I’d like to be down to 145 before the holidays in a few months, so that gives me plenty of time to lose 10 pounds. I hope I eventually get there.

How are you feeling about your body these days? 

BlogHer ’14

I finally got my post up about BlogHer, though really it’s more about how I feel after BlogHer.

I’ve tried to capture my own experience at BlogHer a few different ways. None of them worked out very well. I couldn’t seem to capture it when I was there with my camera, and now I can’t seem to pin it down with my words. It slips from my grasp like a small something in the bathwater that you can’t catch with your hands. No matter how many times I cup my palms around it, the rush of the water carries it away from me. The sheer volume of my experience at BlogHer can’t be contained in my head, my heart, or my words.

To read more, go here.

Again, comments are turned off here because this post will be deleted shortly.

#reentrysucks

I was only away for 48 hours but I swear it feels like I was gone for a week. I don’t know if it was because each day was a 14 hour marathon of constant engagement or if something else more complicated is at play, but Sunday was rough in ways I didn’t expect. I was tired and overwhelmed and uneasy all day. Mi.Vida must have thought I was nuts and I really appreciate all the understanding and support he provided.

(I was clearly not alone in feeling this way; the hashtag #reentry sucks was all over the BlogHer FB group page today, which actually made me feel way less crazy.)

I want to write A LOT about BlogHer–most of it will probably happen on my other blog–but now is not the time. I need to process more before I can get it all out there. I will say that it was amazing to spend 2.5 days with Elizabeth and if you want a real post about the BlogHer experience hers is absolutely worth a read (I wouldn’t be surprised if when I finally write about it I just link to her post again, it’s that good). Overall I would say the experience was overwhelming but positive and I’m definitely glad I went. I walked away having made two rather big decisions, and while they both kind of terrify me, I know it’s what I need to do.

I spent the first day at writing workshops and by the end of the second day it was clear to me that I need to start investing in myself as a writer, otherwise I’ll never know what I might be capable of. I feel like I’ve really grown as a writer over the past five years but it’s clear that I personally need something more focused and specific than just more reading and writing to take my craft to the next level. I do really hope to be able to do something with my writing someday, but I also recognize that right now I don’t have the skills to do what I want to do. I also recognize that it’s not the right time in my life to take those financial and professional risks. If I take the time now to really improve my skills as a writer I may just be where I need to be when the time is right. For me that means intentionally working to better myself on the page, and my first step in that direction will happen through an online Berkeley Extension Course that is being offered this fall. It’s expensive and I’m sure you’d all counsel me to save that money until I’ve paid off my credit card, but we just found out our family trip to San Diego can’t happen and I’ve decided that I’m worth this investment here and now, so that I can get the ball rolling and hopefully make real strides in the coming years.

I’m not ready to share the other big decision I made at BlogHer but I promise that as soon as I am, you all will be the first to know.

Finally I wanted to thank everyone who wrote such supportive comments on my last two posts. They were appreciated in ways I can’t quite articulate. I don’t intend to play the victim here because that post was far from innocent and I understand that people were upset. I think I was honestly most surprised by who was upset and their ultimate point of view. I guess I wouldn’t have thought that women who were so enthusiastic about creating PAIL (and the community that I thought was intended through its creation), felt that way about the relationship between a blogger and her readers (and I won’t try to articulate those feelings because I’d hate to misinterpret them–they are available on in the comment section of that post). This year seems to be all about one lesson, DON’T ASSUME and I won’t be doing that when I can help it. Assumptions only seem to get me in trouble, which I suppose shouldn’t surprise me. I’m clearly shit at assuming, so I need to stop that now.

So that is where I am. Reeling from BlogHer, making some big decisions and taking some definitive action. I’m also getting ready to go back to work. I have to pack up my room and then unpack my new room, baby proof my house (Monito is not crawling yet but it will happen before I’m back at work, to be sure) and plan for the first trimester, all in the next three weeks. It stresses me out just to think about it, but I know I’ll get it all done, somehow.

In the meantime I need to get some sleep, and that means I need to stop writing. Now. So TTFN.

How was your weekend? Anything to share?

In the Aftermath

I used to think that when I wrote a post that pissed people off that it was automatically my fault. That I fucked up in some way. Either my whole point of view was flawed, or my delivery was botched, or my supporting arguments were weak or SOMETHING was messed up, and it was my fault that people got angry. I guess I assumed that if I wrote well, no one would get hurt or upset. (Interestingly I felt the same toward other bloggers, that if *I* got upset reading a post then they had done something wrong. At least I was consistent.) Anyway, it took a lot of evolving for me as a person to understand that I was as much responsible for my own interpretation of what someone said as they were for writing it. Sometimes even more so. Eventually I was able to take that and realize that other people were as responsible for their interpretations of what I wrote, as I was for reading it.

The short version? It’s not always my fault when what I write pisses people off. (Just like it’s not always someone else’s fault when what they write pisses me off.)

I know, crazy right? I can’t tell you how long it took me to get to that place.

Of course sometimes it is my fault. There have been a few posts in particular that I know I fucked up on. The “When I am being a SAHM in the summer it doesn’t feel like a job” post (jeez, I still can’t believe I wrote that) comes immediately to mind, and there are others. I don’t think yesterday’s post was one of them (though in hindsight, I do wish I presented a few things differently–more kindly). I also don’t think some other posts that I’ve read that have inspired heated (and sometimes very hurtful) comments were wrong either. How can I tell the difference between when I got it wrong and when someone is bringing their own issues to the table (or just doesn’t agree with me and never will)? Well, there are a few ways.

One is the other comments. If there are a considerable amount of comments that agree with me, then I probably didn’t totally miss the boat. If other people understood my intent then I probably made it clear, or at least clear enough (I’m sure I could always make it more clear) and I’m probably not totally misguided in feeling that way. The second is how I feel about the piece as I read comments. If comments make me change my mind about what I believed or how I wrote about it, then I recognize I messed up something fundamentally. If clarifying comments help other people to better understand what I was trying to say–and we can come to an understanding of some kind in the comments section–then I know I faltered in my delivery. But if the comment section is just an endless back and forth, I know that someone either straight out disagrees or that their reaction to my words is about them, and not me.

I used to do that. All the time. I used to read a post about one thing and then my own pain and guilt and issues would twist the words into something else. Natural parenting stuff was a big trigger. I was so insecure in my own parenting that I felt other people writing with passion about their style of parenting (when it conflicted greatly with how I parent) was an attack (explicit or implicit) on my own way of doing things. I wrote a lot of comments coming from that place of insecurity and hurt. It sucks to look back at those responses, but I understand that I had to go through that to get where I am today. I’ve tried to offer reparation for my actions in those instances but some people couldn’t forgive me, and I get that. You can’t take back what you say and some people can’t forget.

I still notice that posts about blissful breastfeeding relationships chafe me in certain ways. When someone boasts that they could never have the bonding experience they had with their child without their wonderful breastfeeding relationship it makes me feel shitty, like I’m somehow less of a mom. But I’ve grown enough to know that they aren’t saying that to hurt me. They are saying that because it is their experience. In fact, there is every reason to believe I would have felt the same way if I had had a great breastfeeding experience. That is why it was so hard to let it go, because I believe I missed out on something that has no equivalent. I suffered a real loss, and it sucks, but that doesn’t mean other women shouldn’t be able to talk about it. That expectation is absurd, and frankly, unfair.

It took me a lot of years to get to that place. It’s still hard with some issues, to just let it go, but every encounter with words that my guilt and insecurity twist into something else I handle better. Recently a cousin posted an article to FB about how a new study shows that CIO damages infants, with some diatribe about how she hoped all parents would see it an know the error of their ways. In the past I would have felt an uncontrollable urge to defend my parenting, but I didn’t even click to read the article, or browse the comments or anything. I just walked away, because I knew the people supporting her there were not interested in hearing about my very positive experiences with CIO and because I knew I didn’t need to defend myself to her or anyone else. It made absolutely no sense to engage.

I am proud that I have gotten to that place. I don’t always stop, I don’t always resist the temptation to engage, but more times than not I do.

After a lot of long, hard, exhausting contemplation, I think I know why yesterday’s post inciting such a shit storm. It was a couple of things. #1 the tone. Obviously, I could have been nicer. A LOT nicer (I was not imply anything in that post, it was all VERY explicit). I could explain why I wrote it like I did but that doesn’t change the fact that I could have presented it in a much kinder way. #2 In my vitriolic introductory statement I didn’t make it clear that I not only meant bloggers who left without any explanation, but also bloggers who left abruptly and especially on the cusp of some major transition. I thought I made that clear later in the post but some people didn’t register that, so obviously I wasn’t clear enough. #3 I shouldn’t have included the final part about being bummed out that some bloggers I really love are gradually fading away, because some people thought I felt the same way about those bloggers as I felt about people who just abruptly fell off the earth right before some major change, with no explanation or warning.

Still, I realize that even if I had done those things, the angry people still would have come to comment (I’m still flabbergasted as to how they ended up there, as I have no reason to believe any of them still, or ever did, read me). It is clear now that there are some people that just absolutely do not agree with me on this issue. We couldn’t find a common ground. I thought a simple, “Hey I’m out,” final post is a reasonable expectation, but it was clear that for some people, even expecting that is absolutely too much.

I learned something really valuable in the comment section of that post, which is that some people have VERY different reasons for writing a blog and very different expectations of the relationship that are participating in with their readers and commenters. For some people, their blog is not a ongoing dialogue and their readers have no relationship to or with them whatsoever. That is NOT how I feel about my space, and I don’t think that is how most of the people that I follow feel about their spaces, but it’s valuable for me to know that some do. I think now, when someone stops blogging abruptly, I can better understand how they walked away–the whole blog experience means something fundamentally different to them than it does for me.

Finally, I’m left with some stinging words rattling around in my brain, about whether or not I take my blogging relationships too seriously or depend on them too much. I’ve always known that my IRL relationships are lacking. It’s not that I don’t have some great ones, but circumstances make it hard to connect. I’ve tried to make IRL friends that are more accessible but it’s so hard to find people I click with. I don’t know how to find more meaningful friendships, but maybe I need to step away from this community more, so things like a blogger leaving abruptly or another one slowly fading away don’t hurt so much. I may not have appreciated the way those ideas were expressed to me, but that doesn’t mean they are inherently wrong.

To sum up this novel-length post I will say this, thank you for those who came and voiced your thoughts, despite–or maybe because of–what was happening in the comment section. I really appreciated it.

And now, back to what the beginning of this post was about…

How do you explain when someone seems read something in your words that you didn’t intend? Do you ever feel like a writer’s words imply something they are not explicitly saying? How do you feel and what do you do when your words incite angry responses?

Breaking the Unspoken Agreement

So I’m just going to say this. I know it might be an unpopular opinion, and that’s fine, but I feel really strongly about this so I’m going to put it out there. (I’m also going to assume that the people I’m referring to aren’t reading this blog (you understand why in a minute), so that makes it a little easier to just say it).

I think it’s REALLY FUCKED UP when people just walk away from their blog with absolutely no explanation. I think that is a shitty thing to do. I think it’s inconsiderate and thoughtless and selfish and RUDE. I think it’s just plain WRONG.

I dare you to try to convince me otherwise.

You see, what happened is this. I’m getting ready for BlogHer in two days. I’m now part of a group of Bay Area bloggers on Facebook and I asked them all to introduce themselves and say where they live and link to where they are writing. I want to add them all to my reader for a bit so I can see who interests me. But the idea of adding all these random blogs to my list, which is still about 90% ALI blogs, felt wrong. So I decided to create a folder for them (and, while I was at it, a folder for all the other blogs of women I meet at BlogHer) so I could still read just the people I’m used to most of the time, and then delve into the new people when I feel like it.

That was a fine plan except 95% of my blogs were not categorized in Feedly (because they weren’t in Google Reader), so I had to go through them all and put them into an ALI folder. As I was going through them, I realized that I hadn’t gotten a post from some of them for ages. So I started yet another folder. This one was titled Ghost Blogs?.

By the time I was done sorting everything I had about 80 blogs in the ALI folder, 30 in a Miscellany folder (yes, I was also surprised by this) and 50, you read that right, FIFTY in the Ghost Blogs? folder.

One by one I went through the blogs in the Ghost folder. Most of them hadn’t been updated in over a year. Some hadn’t been updated in THREE YEARS! I couldn’t believe it. For almost all of them I clicked on the final post and read it over. One post was about concerning NTU results. One was about a slow rising BETA. One was about a baby who was due in the next few days, but was expected to take his time. One was about a third rising BETA and first hopeful pregnancy. One was a, hey I haven’t written in five months but SURPRISE! I’m 20 weeks pregnant and all is going well! ALL OF THESE WERE FINAL POSTS. The blogs were NEVER UPDATED AGAIN! Who does that? Who doesn’t let their readers know what happened? How they are? If their babies were okay?

Reading some of them I was reminded of wondering what had happened, of thinking about that blogger for weeks and months afterward, going back to the url to make sure I hadn’t missed anything, commenting on the last post to check in. Sometimes I even emailed. I remember wondering for so long, WHAT HAPPENED?! ARE YOU OKAY? I was worried something went wrong. I assumed the worst, because WHY ELSE WOULD SOMEONE JUST NEVER COME BACK TO THEIR BLOG?!

Looking back through those blogs and reading those last posts made me mad. Remembering all the emotional energy I wasted on these people who never cared enough to return to their own space and give their readers a little closure. I think that is so incredibly rude. If you write a blog, you are asking people to read it. If people comment in your space, you know they are there, reading. IF YOU KNOW PEOPLE ARE READING A BLOG YOU OWE THEM A LITTLE RESPECT.

Yes, I believe that bloggers do owe their readership something. I believe they owe their readership an quick, simple update to let them know that they are done. I don’t think they have to explain why they are stepping away (though I would very much appreciate some understanding), but I do believe they deserve a simple, “Hey, I won’t be back here. You can stop waiting and wondering and returning to this space.” Even a, “Hey, I don’t think I’ll be back here, other shit came up and I might be back, but I might not,” that’s fine too. A blogger doesn’t owe her readers explanations or certainties, but she owes them some basic information, even if that information is, “I just realized I haven’t written in three months, it might be another three months before I write again or it might be never. Just a head’s up.”

So there, I’ve said it. I feel personally slighted by the bloggers who just walked away and never told us they were going to go. I think that was a fucked up move, especially when something big was about to happen. I think never coming back broke an unspoken agreement between the blogger and her readers, and I think everyone who read them deserves an apology.

There were a lot of other blogs I sorted through that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with. Many of the 80+ blogs I had in my ALI folder haven’t been updated in months. Some have been updated only once or twice all year, or haven’t yet been updated in 2014 at all. It made me incredibly sad to be reminded that so many people who used to be a staple in my days are just gone now. It’s not that I don’t think of them, because I do, but seeing their blogs and not being sure if they too would end up in the Ghost Blogs folder was kind of excruciating.

It’s not like I don’t know anything about all of them. I see some of them on FB, but I don’t really know what is happening in their lives and I wonder if others are on Twitter, happily tweeting away, but I still can’t bring myself to participate there. I still feel like the middle school loser sitting alone at lunch, while the popular kids bustle around the tables I haven’t been invited to sit at (or have been purposefully excluded from). Even if I could get over that feeling, the pace is so fast and the connection so fleeting. I feel like it’s just another thing compelling me to open my phone a million times a day, and I already have enough of those.

I know this is what happens, people drift apart, they stopping seeing each other and eventually realize they aren’t friends anymore. I know it’s an inevitability, but it still sucks. I wonder if part of what feels different, and almost hurtful, about it is that I’m still here, writing. I’m still doing my part to keep the lines of communication open, but so many people aren’t anymore. Maybe it kind of makes me feel left behind, like they have moved on to something else and I’m still here, plugging away, even though these people who were so important to me don’t seem to care anymore.

I’m sure that sounds supremely self-centered. Maybe it is. Honestly, I don’t even care if they don’t read me. I just want to read them. I’m sad they don’t write anymore. I’m sad I can’t comment. I want to know how they are, what their kids are up to, if they are happy.

But I suppose we all have to learn to let go. We have to let go of the people we read who abruptly abandon their space with no explanation, and we have to let go of the people who disappear slowly, over months and years. We have to let go of the people who tell us they just can’t write anymore. I’m pretty bad at letting go. I’m a sentimental person and if I can keep someone positive in my life, I will do it. But sometimes you just can’t, and that is part of life too. It seems that is a defining part of motherhood.

So if you’re still reading, and still writing, I thank you from the bottom of my heart, because I love you and DON’T WANT TO LET ANY OF YOU GO.

And you if you decide to stop writing, or realize it just kind of happened, please consider providing some closure for your readers. I promise you, they will appreciate it.

What do you think of bloggers who abruptly leave their space with no warning? Are there bloggers who are disappearing slowly that you’re sad to see go?