Amaya Rain

Wife. Mother. Crazy woman.

Helping single moms

I was a single mom for several years before I met my husband. I was one of the very, very lucky ones. I had a family that let me live rent free, cooking every now and then. My mom took care of my daughter while I went on to finish my university degree. After graduation, she was nearby for those times that my girl was too sick to go to daycare and such – which is great, because I was in a toxic workplace that had zero understanding for a single mother with a sick child.

Abortion was never a consideration for me. Even before I knew I’d have my parents’ backing, I refused to consider it. I’m very definitely prolife, and always have been. It seems incomprehensible to me how someone could have an abortion.

That is, until I think about what my life really would have been like without the support of my parents, and if I didn’t already have an anti-abortion personal outlook.

What would my life have been like? Would I still be working some minimum wage job, moving to a more urban city to find late evening daycare? Would I have even been involved in raising my daughter at all when it came down to it, other than tucking her in after carrying her home while she was half-asleep? Would she be as successful in school as she is now, or would my lack of time and energy affected her ability to learn, since I’d be less inclined to read and play and write with her?

And mommy skills. Oh man. I so didn’t have them. I like to pretend that I’m a natural-born mother, but I’m not. And even though my own mother and I disagree on some basic things with childrearing, it would have been a huge struggle to develop routines to maximize my time, energy, money, and make sure my daughter grows up happy and healthy.

I have the deepest respect for single moms, especially the ones that really make it on their own. But they’re in the minority, aren’t they? A huge number of single moms are out there barely surviving, without the education or skills to better their own and their children’s lives. They live paycheck to paycheck, and not even really that, getting deeper and deeper in debt with every passing emergency.

It makes me sad, and I want to do something about it. I have some ideas bouncing around in my head – things that I probably won’t be able to follow through with for quite some time, but they are in there. In the meantime, my thoughts and prayers are with those women who defied the statistics, chose life, and struggle every day to make their children’s lives, and their own, a little better and a little stronger every day.

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July 21, 2006 Posted by | Parenting, Single parenting | Leave a comment

Honey, I’m home!

I took a little mini-vacation from being online for a few days. I’ve been a little off, a little busy, and a little sick, and that all combines to make Amaya a very cranky girl who was too lethargic to even bother getting online except to check email she didn’t want to see.

That said, I started taking happy pills. Thus far, all they’ve done is made me a little sleepy. I suppose they’ve levelled me off a bit, but that’s not saying much. Postpartum depression sucks, folks.

I was on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety pills in my early twenties. They helped me through a rough time, gave me all the tools I needed to do things to bring myself out of the hole or the high when it was necessary. It was really, really hard for me to admit that I needed something again. It’s been a long time. But they say that postpartum depression is a real thing, and after so many months, I’m inclined to agree.

Here’s to hoping that I’m medicated for a few months, can wean myself off, and live a normal life, medication-free. I’m not a big fan of pumping brain-altering chemicals (other than alcohol and the occaisional necessary painkiller) into my system. We’ll see, I suppose.

July 18, 2006 Posted by | Medication, Postpartum Depression | Leave a comment

I like the night life.

It’s nearly 2am, and I’m still awake. This is really not a good thing, as my husband is out of town for the week, and I really need sleep to deal with the little ones.

So, of course, I step outside to grab a cig (oh yes, I’m one of those). First, I hear what has to be a couple of cats getting it on a couple of blocks away. Then I see a possum trying to get from my neighbor’s yard to mine through what he thinks is a hole, but really isn’t, in the fence (possums don’t have good eyesight, and I think they’re a bit on the dull side). Then there’s this huge owl sweeping about 10 feet away from me, and then someone’s rooster – who knows where – will absolutely not shut up.

It’s times like this I wish we had a nanny and that I could drink a lot or take sleeping pills or something. I hate nights like this. Add to that the lovely array of freakish animals just outside my door, and… hey, at least it isn’t an emu running around my yard. I’ll have to relay that story one day.

I think I should try again to get some sleep.

July 10, 2006 Posted by | Insomnia, Musings | Leave a comment

Mistakes People Play.

Oops. I made a boo-boo.

See, I have this theory. You can be having a wonderful, amazing, earth-shatteringly beautiful day – and then you take a shower, or change your clothes. Suddenly the world turns to crap. You can’t figure it out. Later, when you go to change your clothes again, you realize… you cute little lower undergarments are inside-out. It’ll throw the whole universe off. [Note: this isn’t the same as putting your bra on inside-out; that’s the world being against you, not your actions changing the world.]

So, I had this little blog that I was starting that was aptly named for this phenomenon. Unfortunately, I ran into a little problem – Net Pervs. I write about being a mom, being a woman, and I was getting websearch hits about these particular undergarments. I figured maybe I should change it up.

I find it amusing. I’ve written in blogs and journals for years. In fact, I think I started my first LiveJournal in something like 1998 or 1999, whatever the first year or so was, when they made folks already supporting the site permanent members. I’ve had private journals and public blogs and every manner in between. This new journal name? It was from a journal I kept a long time ago, which although it was for public consumption, probably shouldn’t have been. Very sexy, it was. Really. And here’s my mommy blog, all getting stalked by pervies.

Just goes to show, you can never be too prudish in naming your blog. Let this be a lesson.

July 8, 2006 Posted by | Introductions | Leave a comment

Talkin’ ’bout my Generation.

I come from a line of strong-willed women on my mother’s side (my father’s side as well, but I’m not going there, because, well, I don’t like them as much as the women on my father’s side. There. I said it. Neener neener ppphtt). And while I know that my personality, and my actions as a mother come from them, I think I need to put in all down in writing to get some perspective. I think I’ll start at the very beginning (a very good place to start).

My great-grandmother was a firecracker. When I was young, I thought she was just your typical Grannie-type: old. She lived out of state, so my time with her was limited, but oh, the things we did in that time. She would bring me outside to her vegetable and flower gardens and let me run around while she would weed and pick and pluck and would make sure to leave some yummies for the birds. She’d let me watch all manner of crazy kid things (like Sonny and Cher) on her tv and wait to catch her beloved 700 Club after I was done. She’d just sit and hold me, or sit on the other side of her television parlor and let me spin in this really great green spinning chair. To me, she was everything that was wonderful and good in the world. She was selfless and beautiful and a wonderful old fashioned woman.

As I got older, I noticed some of her “faults”. As it turns out, she was actually rather vain and hung up on “appearances” – she’d never go anywhere without being well-groomed, wearing her pink lipstick and lavender water. She picked only the best fruit or vegetable from the vine, and would leave the less beautiful specimens for the birds. I caught her cringing out of the corner of my eye, and realized that she’d change the channel the split-second that my show was over. She had lots to say about politics and society that I wasn’t sure agreed with (her favorite line whenever “mixed marriages” were brought up was “girls marry boys, whites marry whites”.) And although everyone in my family had a great laugh about it (and still do), I really didn’t appreciate that as I played with a loose tooth, she’d knocked the hell out of my arm to get me to yank it out rather than watch me play with it.

Then I got even older. And I saw a woman who had bucked the system as a younger woman – she’d been married four times to three men, and had beat the crap out of the woman who was the mistress of Husband #2&3 (the court didn’t prosecute her because she was “protecting her family”). She was strong, having taken care of not only her own siblings but in later years, the aging siblings of herself and her ex-husbands. She was an elderly woman with strong values of family and spirituality, no matter how outdated or misguided I thought they may be. She’d been through the Roaring 20’s, the Depression, two world wars, survived miscarriages and stillbirths of children. She was a perfectionist in so many things, and she’d learned that after so many years, she deserved the best, and she gave her best to others as well.

She certainly wasn’t perfect – no one ever is. But she strived to be as good as she could in everything she did. She didn’t have the vanity of the rich, well, barring that facelift she had in the 70’s. She drove an old, but well-kept, car. She had an old, but well-kept home. A lot of her clothing was probably decades old, but it was really all of classic design and quality construction and some of it I’d love to have my hands on today. She may have always chosen the prettiest produce, but she never sacrificed taste for beauty.

I think I could say she was a perfectionist who knew when to quit.

I can’t say that about myself. I call myself a disillusioned perfectionist. I quit when I can’t take the pressure anymore, that enormous amount of self-induced pressure. In building my wardrobe, I look for comfort or trend, never finding a middle ground, never finding that classic feel that I loved so much on her and admire so much in others. I may choose pretty produce, but it tastes like crap, or I may pick ugly produce and not care how it tastes. I go without makeup for weeks on end (and did before the babies, so I can’t blame them) with my hair in a wild bun on the top of my head, or else I am in full regalia. And let’s please, please not talk about when I go out for the rare night out on the town. I can stress for a week about how perfect I feel I need to look. If I can’t find that perfection, then I usually put on a little lipstick and pull my hair up and apologize about how traffic made me late or the washer broke or something. I’m finally married, and plan to be that way forever, but I almost married two other men before him, and dated a whole bunch more, so I suppose I gave my nod to my great-grandmother’s man-choosing (in)abilities (I also took one back, numerous times).

It has taken a while, but I think I can finally look at the woman as a person, and not the shining light on the pedestal or the rug beneath it. And I can look at bits and pieces of her, and see parts of myself. Unfortunately, I don’t see the parts of her that I really admired.

Maybe I need to work on that.

July 8, 2006 Posted by | Ancestors, Heredity, Perfectionism, Reminiscing | Leave a comment

HPV and all that jazz.

A post on BlogHer has forced me to write about something I meant to write about when I first opened this blog: the new HPV vaccine, and vaccines in general.

My oldest is vaccinated, all up to date, all that jazz. However, because of let’s just say issues with their administration when she was on schedule, we ended up delaying most of them until she was nearly school age. The only thing I’d have done differently with her, when it comes down to it, would be to have not started them initially when she was so young, and to work on finding out if we could have gotten them separately, instead of 5 diseases in one whabang.

The babies are not vaccinated at all. One of them was rather ill after birth, and then there have been some developmental difficulties. Actually, all of that just gave me a reason to have everyone else get off of my ass about getting them vaccinated. My daughter handled the shots so much better as an older child than she did as a younger one, and since the twins aren’t exposed to other kids or even the general public that often, I was comfortable taking “the risk.”

Then there’s my own history. I’ve had all the major childhood diseases (except chicken pox, which I wasn’t vaccinated for. Go figure); I’ve had severe medical reactions to the tetnus booster; I have no immunity toward diseases I’ve received vaccinations for (to the point where I really should have stayed home and twiddled by thumbs and not gone anywhere near the general public when I was pregnant because I don’t have rubella immunity).

There’s just so much misinformation on both sides of the issue – and that’s with “proven” vaccines with track records. A 3 month old baby died of SIDS in our neighborhood recently… just a few days after her vaccinations. One of the neighborhood kids is autistic, with his mother maintaining that he had no symptoms prior to a vaccination, and then was a completely different child within a week. A friend’s kid got shingles after getting the chickenpox vaccine. All of that is second-hand experience, yes. But I’ve known many people, myself included, to get measles, mumps, chickenpox, whooping cough, pneumonia, flu, meningitis – and have no long term effects from any of them. I’m not saying these things don’t cause long term effects in some people, I’m just saying that in my personal experience, I’ve seen long-term, and even fatal, effects from vaccinations whereas I’ve seen none from the diseases they are supposed to prevent (notice, there wasn’t much prevention, was there?)

So now there is this wonder drug, something that prevents – at a 100% rate, no less – the 2 types of HPV that cause up to 70% of cervical cancers, and the 90% of the 2 types of HPV that cause genital warts. Wow. I mean, really, wow. That’s a much better success rate than most other vaccines. And it’s for women!!! (I felt the need to yell that because the medical research community isn’t always too keen on working on women’s issues). I wanted to jump for joy when I heard that!

Then reality kinda settled in.

I’d wondered why we’d suddenly been bombarded with television ads with incredulous-faced women saying “did you know that this cancer is caused by a virus? A virus! Who knew! Pass it on! Everyone needs to know!!” I thought it was great that there were finally PSA’s about something that my OB had told me years ago. It’s one of those strange things – they always told us “STD’s can cause this, that, death and cancer.” But the never told us how prevalent HPV was. Tons of ads every day for herpes and HIV, but never any for the number one cause of cervical cancer in women – which if I’m not mistaken, is the number one cause of hysterectomies in the country.

I should have known. Maybe I should have read the fine print on the bottom of the screen that probably says “paid for by Merck”.

Because the only time we focus on womens’ health issues is when there is money involved. And that really pisses me off. Where was all the screaming and crying out for women to be educated when it was a health threat, and not a money-maker? Why haven’t we been telling women to “tell someone you love” for years now?

Because back then, we couldn’t make $360 off of you.

And if the government makes the shots mandatory for girls, then the government will be paying that $360. Of course, one day we’ll get nice and let overseas companies make generics for it, bringing the cost for third-world countries down to like $3 a pop while still gouging our own government, but that’s okay, because we’re saving lives.

I’m not knocking the efficacy of the drug. I’m not knocking its possible necessity. I’m knocking the money-making theories. I’m knocking the lack of long-term studies on effects on fertility and overall health (including cancer). I’m knocking the marketing strategies. I’m knocking the lack of ability of both the government and private health officials to emphasize to young women the serious necessity of safer sex and abstinence (ooooh! I said the “A” word!) despite the possiblity of a vaccine.

I realize according to the current laws, the drug cannot be offered at public-funded health clinics for reduced cost unless it’s made mandatory. And think, ultimately, this is a huge problem. Parents, and young women of health-determining age, should be able to have access to the vaccine no matter what the cost, without it being made mandatory. Yes, most states have exemptions available, but most only have religious exemptions – not everyone has religious issues with this vaccine. Some states have philisophical exemptions, which is great. But not all.

Ultimately, parents have the right to determine what is best for their children. For my children, it’s for me to wait and see what longer-term effects this vaccine will have. I could never forgive myself for giving a vaccine – or a government for making it mandatory – if that vaccine caused a long-term health issue for my child. Along with that right comes my responsiblity to inform my children about sex, about safer sex, and about the importance of abstinence (and the fact that some diseases, such as herpes and HPV, can be transmitted without actual intercourse or oral sex). It is my responsbility to tell my children that sex is a beautiful thing, a wonderful thing, a glorious thing (I guess I’ll leave out the hot and sweaty and sometimes beautifully violent and mind-bending and… oh, I digress), but that along with that, these days, comes the possiblity of it getting you killed.

I hate issues like this. They leave me so torn, so battered as a parent. Do I do what’s right for my children, or do I do what’s right for my children? Do I take a calculated risk with their health, or do I take a calculated risk with their health? Because those are the questions, pro and con, for both sides of the issue.

For me, it’s too late. I’m over the age cutoff… don’t even get me started about that, since the drug companies are implying that women over the cutoff age are more likely to already have HPV… and it only takes ONE exposure, ONE time… ugh. Not going there.

So yeah, that’s my take. I’m a confused mommy, and a confused mommy makes a wait-and-see mommy.

July 8, 2006 Posted by | Parenting, Politics, Vaccinations | Leave a comment

Kids in the ‘hood.

 Somewhere between myself and my daughter, the world stopped teaching children common sense.

Not that I’m claiming to have a lot of it, nor am I claiming to have had a huge chunk of it when I was her age. But she and her friends threaten to force me to ram my head through brick. Truly.

We live in this little dead-end, cul-de-sac type of neighborhood. There about 6 houses on our street, almost all with kids or grandkids. There’s a big tree about three-quarters of the way to the main street, which is the cutoff point for all kids to be running, riding bikes, etc.

So the most intelligent thing in the world to do is to put up a bike ramp, put concrete blocks under where you should be catching some air, and have it past the big tree so that you can get some good speed up so you don’t kill yourself. Really, it makes sense in their heads.

As far as the man who turned accidently on our block today? To him, not so much. I’d dare say that the look on his face with a nine-year-old not-small boy on a bike at full speed flying through the air at him was probably a little more than he could handle.

Kids have so much more to deal with today than we did back then. There was a kidnapper-murderer on the loose when I was their age, and our parents just said “don’t go near any vans”. They have so many safety rules and safety words and code names and organic produce and “stay away from peanuts” filling their little heads that somehow there isn’t any room for good old fashioned common sense.

Hey kids! When you decide to do the Jump of Doom, let us always assume that hitting the fence at the end of the street, or even a house, is better than what you will hit if you go the other direction. Let’s assume that putting something in, oh, fabric to jump over may save your tires if you don’t make the jump (shhhhh, don’t mention their heads. You’ll lose them). Let’s assume that when we play with water balloons, throwing them into the faces of the other kids trying to make the Jump of Doom isn’t too polite.

And can someone remind the kid that already broke my daughter’s arm before that it’s still not cool to push folks off of the trampoline. The surgery for the pins hurts just as much at 9 as it did at 7.

[Of course, let’s not discuss when I made “salad” with poison ivy for the boy next door, or threw rocks at his head, or used to try to throw sticks into the spokes of his tires to see how high he could fly. Because, of course, I knew better back then…]

July 8, 2006 Posted by | Common Sense, Other People's Children, Reminiscing | Leave a comment

Spit.

 When I was taking some time off between high school and college, I lived with some friends in a college town. You couldn’t beat it with a lint brush – my rent was $87.50 a month with utilities divided four ways. And we even had a pool. Ahhh, bliss.

We lived on the third floor overlooking the pool. I had a bad habit of forgetting my keys, which normally wasn’t a huge problem, with three other roommates, and a party that was pretty constant for the six months I lived there. But on one bleak winter night, the party had moved to a bar, and none of my roommates were yet home, so we – we being a group of about 10 of us – tried to pass the time. We played Rock, Paper, Scissors. We tried to figure out who among us had the ugliest feet. Eventually, the guys started spitting into the pool. Now, this wasn’t environmentally hazardous, as the pool was shut down for the winter and, really, how many toxins can be in college guys’ mouths that can’t be killed with chlorine once the summer comes around? Don’t answer that.

It was my turn. Being a bit tipsy, my mouth was dry, so I had to think of things that would make it wet. Strawberries. Hot fudge sundaes. That guy coming home with us who I hadn’t met before but who had the sexiest pair of at-least-20-eyelets leather boots.

Yeah, my mouth watered, and I was ready.

I swished it around my mouth, placed it at just the right point on my tongue, leaned over the railing, and let loose.

Of course, it fell straight down. No air. No flight. No arching of the bodily fluids. Let me tell you, I was pissed.

And tonight, I think about that night, so very long ago. And I look at my sleeping son, under a year old, remembering vividly an episode earlier today…

where he’s already showing up his mommy. He got at least a foot and a half out.

Damn.

July 8, 2006 Posted by | Reminiscing, Spit | 1 Comment