Mary, Did you Know?

The thing I remember most about Henrik’s first Christmas is that he was still screaming.  I don’t know if he was colicky, or if it was just his personality (I’d bet all my presents under the tree that it’s the latter).  Three months into my life as a mother, I all of a sudden was thrown into a new understanding of the story of Christmas.

For me, this sacred holiday became focused on Mary. Not her virginity, or her holiness – but her motherhood.   Mary was a new mom.  She gave birth (Labor!  Delivery!) to her beautiful baby in a barn full of stinky animals and hay and dirt.  And now she had this new baby that wanted to nurse throughout the day and night, that needed constant rocking, and probably some swaying or bouncing to calm his new worldly nerves.  That cradle wasn’t just designed for the pretty church nativities – she Needed that cradle to get him to fall asleep –  To soothe her screaming baby. And after the angels had gone, and everyone had brought their pretty gifts, the crying probably got worse.  And the everyday of motherhood became a stark reality.

Believe in Mary as Jesus’ mother, as the Virgin Mary, as the mother of the Savior, as a vital part of the Christmas story, as holy – or just another woman in the history of womankind –  there is something about her story that every mother can understand.  

Who of you has gotten your face so close to your babe’s that you could feel his breath, and hear her small movements?  Who has held him, swaddled, shhing her till you can see her little eyelashes come to complete stillness and feel your own heart slowed?  Who of you has stared into his eyes, and saw the Hope that she could bring to this world?  The love, the grace, the kindness, the care. Angels or just a starry sky, gifts of Myrrh or just an empty bag, Mary was a momma who knew her job was great.  Who knew her job was a gift, who knew that it would take sacrifice, sleepless nights, and worry beyond compare.  She shed tears, she loved deeper than she ever understood or would ever comprehend.  We all know how Mary must have felt that night, and those months, and years and year and years to come.

Oh, holy night.

You and me  – and Mary – we’re raising hope for the world, the feet on this earth, the ones that will bring in human form, in my understanding, God’s love to all.  They will make the decisions that help, strengthen, Give.

Moms all around the world, Peace, Love and Strength to you all this Christmas.  Shalom.

– EC

Daddios

A while ago, oh, say many months ago, I did a quick round up of some blogarellas that I enjoy following. I promised the same for some dude bloggers and oh, hey! Look over there!

The official uniform?

Did I distract you yet?

Here’s my promise. Check out these dudes, tell them what you like and visit often.

Dadcentric: It’s a movement! With ten dads behind the words, you’ve got relationships, guides, rants, raves and more. Twitter @dadcentric.

Dadwagon: Journo-dads living in NYC. They post poignant and spit-your-coffee-out musings on life with child(ren). I have read every single thing they post. And I don’t want that time back. Twitter @dadwagon.

Packing the Panic Room: How do some people, who have two eyes, just like I do, see things in a completely different way? That’s the wonder of humans, and Ryan Marshall invites us into his work and life on this amazing photo and video and story blog. I promise that you’ll go back. Twitter @thepanicroom.

Sweet Juniper: What’s it like to raise your kid in Detroit? Check out what the two Jims have to say.

What are some of your favorites?

–        MD

p.s. Hey, are you on Twitter? Well, consider it, since 6 percent of the adult U.S. population is. Your call, but if you want to see my thought patterns throughout the day, follow me: @InMadison. You can also find fellow contributor ALW: @luckeywinters.

The Shape of Things to Come

I’ve written here and here about the changes to my body from pregnancy. While I can poke fun here and there about the extra poking that can happen, what it doesn’t erase is that there has always been more of me to poke.

What amazes me is that I have been every shape and size. I have expanded and contracted more than any other 5’3” woman I know. I have done so on purpose, as protection during my college years, and then fought for the removal of that armor. All to be left with some nice padding.

Like most women, I suffered with body image while growing up. People were concerned about my weight and appearance, and what might have been concern for only a few years, has been something that I constantly walk around with: “You’re heavy. You don’t want to be fat.” I’ve done a lot of work to overcome these tapes in my head (thank you Women’s Studies Master’s Degree!), and mostly walk around in my adult life as someone confident in the weight I carry. My husband loves me, loves how I look, and I mostly feel attractive. But obese is a word that I’ve been carrying around lately. It’s a word that registers when I go in for my check-ups, a word that haunts me as someone who wants to be a strong mother and role model for her daughter. I am often the largest woman in our circle of friends.

Scale

I’m not as brave as Not Super, Just Mom to post my weekly weight, but I commend her for harnessing the internet for support. It does take support to work through serious changes. I tried something new when I started training for a 5K this summer. I’ve since completed two, but with the insane Wisconsin weather outside, have fallen off of the running wagon. For seven years I taught Nia and my body loved it. While it doesn’t work for my schedule now, I do plan on returning to it in the future. I remain committed to yoga (it’s indoors!), and my daughter understands what it means when my husband and I leave the house to exercise.

But I’ve been thinking about this more as my beautiful, perfect daughter grows. How do I communicate to her that it’s okay to be whatever shape and size you want to be, but that it will change how people relate to you? How do we share this delicate piece of information with her without it becoming more than it is? How do we show her that you can have control over your body, be strong, be determined, but not be nutso about it? When and where does the scale tip?

–        MD

Oh look, there’s Santa

Last week I wrote about my First World Conundrum of whether or not we would introduce Santa in our toddler’s life. Fifteen of you took the poll.

So sayeth the poll: have Santa. And helpful readers wrote in the comments section supporting Santa’s presence.

I’m still not sold.

Believe it or not, this took up a lot of mental space last week. As RBVH pointed out, when all of our needs are met, us lucky enough to not have to worry about where our next meal comes from tend to worry about stuff. While parents are worrying how they’ll find money for gifts to put under the tree, I sit and mentally wring my hands about this.

But maybe the answer came easier than I thought. On Friday night we three headed to kid-friendly Monty’s Blue Plate Diner as part of our neighborhood’s Winter Festival. Afterwards we popped down to Absolutely Art for their monthly gallery opening, which always features drool-worthy Bunky’s Café food. We spent some time looking around and seeing our daughter do the toddler-knee-dance to the band they had playing. It was a nice Friday night.

As we left, passing friendly acquaintances, we saw two red-clad figures walking down the street, part of the festivities. They waved, one with a fake beard and pillow under his outfit, both wearing white wigs. “Oh, look,” I said. “There’s Santa.”

–  MD

p.s. If you have a few extra dollars to share, help a family that needs help by meeting their wishlist needs. Middleton Outreach Ministry or the Goodman Community Center has families with simple lists that would love your help. Please share other links in the Comments section of places where people can help.

Santacon

I don’t know if I want Santa in my toddler’s life.

Should we let him in?

Hold on. Wait a minute. Take a deep breath. “What?!” you may ask. Hear me out.

I was raised, at times, in a Jew-“ish” household. I’d have gifts under the tree that said they were from Santa, but I knew it was fake, along with the Tooth Fairy, who I’d scrawl accusatory notes to: “I know you’re not real.” My stepdad took to driving to his mother’s house to use her typewriter to type back a response. Still, I didn’t believe.

Wait, what?. I had a tree?

Yes. My mother is a lapsed Catholic (a Chicana one from Texas, no less), and my father is per above, Jew-“ish,” more culturally so, from New York (Long Island, no less). But there remains a question as to if I’m “automatically” Jewish since my mom isn’t. But I look Jewish. Way more than I look Mexican.

As a child I lived with both of them, together, for about five years, then with one at a time until I was 18. I spent three years on the east coast with my dad and his Jewish parents. There, we participated in the occasional High Holiday, but to be honest, I don’t know much about being Jewish except for a love of whitefish, some crazy hair, a big nose, and the build of a woman meant to windmill potatoes on a Kibbutz. There wasn’t Christmas. In fact, on the east coast, Jews have a timeworn tradition of either working for their Shiksa friends on December 25 or going to the movies and eating Chinese takeout.

Then I lived with my mother and stepfather, whose family celebrated Christmas and had Santa. Then my sister-from-another-mister was born and BOOM – Christmas entered our house full force. All of a sudden I’m wrapping gifts with secret and separate paper for my sister on Christmas Eve. My closest friend’s mother would even pass along small St. Nick’s gifts.

When I lived with my mom, I’d light a menorah and mumble through the prayers. She’d give me gifts each night. My sister still makes me Star of David-shaped cookies.

Thus, my relationship to Christmas, and Santa, is one of amusement. I mean, being fat in my dad’s family is anathema, genes be damned, and now you want to let a fat white guy into the house? Are you kidding me? What if he’s a Republican anti-Semite?

Marriage didn’t make this any easier. I married a Quaker. Yes, Quaker. Not the people who make furniture – those are Shakers. He had Santa in that “well, there were always gifts under the tree that said they were from Santa” vein.

Now we have a toddler who’s conscious enough to understand that something is kind of happening. Last Friday we put up our three-foot, fake, pre-lighted tree from Target and placed some ornaments on it. “Happy Thanksgiving!” she hollered.

But does this mean that a gift under our tree should say it’s from Santa? Do we lie, tiptoe around for a few years, hoping she doesn’t find out and perpetuate the myth? Or do we jump on the bandwagon? The fine folks at Dadwagon have started a tantrum about this.

What say you? Take the poll:

–        MD

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