Sunday, 1 June 2014

What I learned in May

At the end of every month, a collection of lovely writers link up with Emily from Chatting at the Sky to share what they learned over the past thirty-odd days, be it frivolous or profound, and invite their readers to do the same. After stopping myself twice from writing a treatise in the comment section on a couple of such posts, I figured I ought to share what I've learned from my own space. We'll see if June proves equally educational.

Here's what I learned this May:

Fuzzibunz are amazing (not that they're paying me to say so).  May marked our first billing cycle without a diaper service, and thus the first trial of the second-hand cloth diapers generously passed on from a friend. I have been pleasantly surprised by how easy they are to clean - and how little odour they retain. I keep the soiled ones stacked on top of the diaper pail, rather than sealing them in, and haven't noticed any smell between daily washings. We'll see if that system remains tenable once summer and solids set in, but I sure haven't missed trying to empty our 3-foot high diaper-pail into our front loader.

I am officially addicted to knitting. I catch myself saying "just one more row, and then I'll go to bed," much as my younger self used to say "just one more chapter." I can handle being between projects, but only if I have the yarn on hand for when I do begin. Like a smoker finding peace in a spare pack of cigarettes, but without the cancer risk.

Post-partum elation is a thing, and it's wearing off now. This was the first pregnancy that I really worried about developing post-partum depression. Both my husband and I experience mild SAD symptoms, so having a baby just after the solstice - when there are twice as many hours of darkness than daylight in our part of the world - on top of Christmas, work deadlines, and the unfinished business of our basement flood, sounded like a recipe for bringing the number of functional adults in our house from two down to zero. Blessedly, none of that came to pass. Thanks to an abundance of help from friends and family alike, a new dishwasher, and an extended work holiday, my husband soldiered on; he was more than somewhat bleary-eyed, but a far cry from the catatonic fate I had feared awaited him. I was tired too, but emotionally buoyant. For months after the birth, the foibles of life with small children and an aging home didn't faze me as much as usual; my highs were very high, but my lows barely dipped below neutral and were fewer and farther between. It was like clinical depression in reverse. It seems ironic that the one birth that went the least according to plan, with the only labour in which "I can't do this" actually crossed my lips, was followed by the calmest fourth trimester, where I truly felt I could this newborn thing - even with two older children underfoot - each and every day. Part of it was certainly thanks to our amazing support, but hormones smoothed the way of learning to mother all three. Now that everyday stumbles have regained their power of irritation, I'm coming to grips with how good my mood had been. I'm back to the normal work of trying to be a decent human being, but thankful for the stint where my hormones acted as a muffler on my negative emotions, rather than a megaphone.

Full sun will burn my skin in less than an hour. Actually, I've re-learned this one every year I've been responsible for my own sunscreen. And yet that first dose of warm sunshine proved irresistible once again. Maybe I should get that full-shade symbol from my seed packets tattooed on my arm.

I am more of an extrovert than I think I am. Due to a combination of factors, I ended up doing about four times more my usual rate of socialization this past month, mostly over the course of the last week and a half. Over that same period, I had a terrible cold and heavy overcast skies (re: SAD trigger), yet my energy never lagged. Actually, most nights I was still so buzzed from gatherings of two or three that I had trouble falling asleep. Usually that only happens if I've spent the entire evening reading, or have had too much caffeine. I'm still blissfully refreshed by going out for coffee alone and am drained by bigger crowds, but visits with small groups recharge my batteries in a way nothing else does. I'm going to have to make more of an effort to get together with friends in the future. It's not as scary as I think.

If you add ice-cold banana mash to coconut oil creamed with sugar, the resulting muffin batter will clump up alarmingly. And if you go ahead and bake it anyways, those last little lumps that wouldn't smooth out will create little pockets of coconut caramel throughout the finished muffins. I love it when mistakes are delicious. Next time I make banana orange cardamom muffins, I'll do it on purpose. I should also mention that I added a tablespoon of vanilla, pulled twice the required bananas from my freezer, used half whole-wheat flour, half white, and coconut palm sugar instead of brown. Results may vary.

2 comments:

  1. I loved reading about your month! Now, four and a half years after my youngest was born, I kind of suspect I had mild PPD. I did not handle the transition from one kid to two kids very well. Elation and confidence would be a much more welcome side effect! Now I really want to add another...There's probably a very good reason my husband is reluctant ;-) I've had my "addicted to knitting" phases off and on over the past couple of years, but right now it's crochet that has me staying up later than I'd planned ;-)

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the post :) I also suspect I might have had mild PPD after my eldest was born - going from university student to stay-at-home Mom/housewife was a harder transition for me than adding babies later. The gap from two to three looked pretty huge to my husband and I too; if #3 hadn't snuck in on us, I don't think we would have consciously taken the plunge. Now that we're outnumbered, however, parenting three isn't nearly as hard as we feared. It helps that the other two are old enough to fend for themselves a little (and understand that baby's needs are going to have to come first some times). If they were all under three, it'd be a whole other ball game ;)

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