Wednesday, December 19, 2007

We Cannot Make Our Sun Stand Still

Yet we will make him run." That's the last line of a favorite poem of mine by English poet Andrew Marvell. It's not generally regarded as a great poem compared to the giants of poetry like Frost or Milton or Dante, but it still gets included in many anthologies and poetry textbooks. It's called To His Coy Mistress, and though it's spoken from an amorously-intended suitor to a young maiden, a few of the lines are well apt to express the sentiments of a mother toward her baby: "Had we but world enough, and time....My vegetable love should grow/Vaster than empires, and more slow./An hundred years should go to praise/Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze....But at my back I always hear/Time's winged chariot hurrying near;/And yonder all before us lie/Deserts of vast eternity."

Another, more vernacular poem by an unknown author also sums it up well:

"Babies Don't Keep"

Mother, of Mother, come shake out your cloth
empty the dustpan, poison the moth,
hang out the washing and butter the bread,

sew on a button and make up a bed.
Where is the mother whose house is so shocking?

She's up in the nursery, blissfully rocking.

Oh, I've grown shiftless as Little Boy Blue
(lullaby, rockabye, lullaby loo).
Dishes are waiting and bills are past due
(pat-a-cake, darling, and peek, peekaboo).

The shopping's not done and there's nothing for stew
and out in the yard there's a hullabaloo
but I'm playing Kanga and this is my Roo.
Look! Aren't her eyes the most wonderful hue?
(lullaby, rockaby, lullaby loo).

The cleaning and scrubbing will wait till tomorrow,
for children grow up, as I've learned to my sorrow.
So quiet down, cobwebs. Dust go to sleep.
I'm rocking my baby and babies don't keep.

Maybe it's hormones or something that makes me cry EVERY time I read that low-brow, Hallmark-ish card poem the English major in my despises. I cried when I put away LuLu's newborn clothes after she outgrew them. I swear it's not postpartum depression. There is something so ephemeral and fleeting about the time you have with a baby, that even though you know your kiddo will grow up big and strong and you have all kinds of memories waiting to be made, and that you're just at the beginning of a long road filled with wonderful times, blah blah blah.....There is something so bittersweet about watching this little person grow basically every time you take a breath. She's four months old now, and the day before her 4-month birthday she rolled over for the first time. She can grasp objects and examine them, and loves playing with her Haba clutching toys and wooden rattles. She can push up and lift her head pretty far when she's on her tummy, and is starting to make those swimmy movements that will turn into crawling before I can even blink. She can hold her head up no problem now, and anticipates me lifting her up by raising her head up off the bed. She's already got such a personality at four months, that of a happy and secure baby, very intelligent and curious and super-strong. So, enjoy these pictures taken on her 4mo b-day. Along with her baby clothes and mommy's memories, these will be the only remnants of her ever being so little.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Me On My Soapbox Again

I had to cut this out from an e-mail to a dear friend of mine because I wanted to save him from opening up a manifesto while he was at work. I started talking about wooden toys, and then got all discombobulated and went on my usual rant about the environment. Erik just thinks I'm getting weirder in my old age! I bring my own cloth napkins and tupperware for leftovers when we go out to eat now, and I have banned all plastic shopping bags and paper towels from the house, instead using reusable bags and cloth towels. All of our cleaning products and body care stuff I'm transitioning over to all natural and biodegradeable. The bigger car we bought with the baby in mind is a Hybrid. I hear stories about floating islands of garbage in the Pacific that are bigger than Texas, and while I'm sure some of the things I hear are grossly exaggerated, it worries me what kind of a world my child will know. Will she know what a tiger is the way I do, as a living creature that can be seen? Or will she know one as I know a dinosaur, some mythical creature that exists only in archaeology textbooks and museums?

While I love my country I look at the government and this administration in particular's lack of concern for the environment, and penchant for band-aid solutions rather than fixing problems at the source, and I worry. I heard on the news the other day that there is a proposal with the USDA right now to pasteurize all green vegetables before we are able to buy them for consumption, coming out of the e. coli and salmonella contaminations of lettuce and spinach crops. Instead of truly fixing the problem by making sure runoff from nearby cattle ranches cannot contaminate groundwater and irrigation systems of agricultural crops, "they" propose a solution that may have inherent catastrophic consequences to human health, especially when most people as it is don't have access to good organic food that have vital nutrients and minerals intact.

I know I'm on my little soapbox now, but really it is something that I have become passionate about, and I believe that everyone can and should do their part for mother earth. I know that in just three months of cloth diapering I have saved about 700 diapers from going into a landfill. I have saved pounds of trash from infant formula packaging from the landfills just by breastfeeding my child and feeding her what she's meant to be eating. Those two choices alone make a difference. I can only imagine how much more of a difference if more mothers made those choices, but the lack of concern bothers me. I don't know if it's ignorance or irreverance, or both. I get into a foul mood every time I set foot into Babies R Us (I have no need to even go there except to return things people give us that I am opposed to using) and see people with carts full of infant formula and disposable diapers.

I had someone the other day give me the argument that "the earth will adapt to whatever happens to it", and honestly that truly floored me. Every other species on earth has to adapt to their environment, so why should humans have so much hubris as to think in our case it's the other way around? Why should our piddly little species think that the earth gives one whit about what happens to us? Just because we have opposeable thumbs and the brains big enough to have dominion over the animals and fishes, as the saying goes, do we have to use our powers for evil? It is folly to think we are so important that we have dominion over the earth as well. We can rape it and use all the resources up, but in the end it is impossible to "own" something that we need for our very survival. Remember this, that it is the earth that ultimately owns us. That fact becomes immediately apparent when one thinks about death. What is death except the relinquishing of control that we seem to exert, the giving up of the pretense that we have any power at all, and sinking back into the earth which reclaims us as her own. Just as people avoid thinking about their own death we avoid thinking about the end result that our doings have on the environment. Despite our big brains and opposeable thumbs we are no better than any other animal; not looking ahead to consequences, to what happens after renders us simply the most powerful and destructive animal on the planet, but an animal nonetheless.