Monday, June 26, 2006

Immediate Interests

The subtitle of this blog, "one mother's global interests" was an impulsive choice; one that I am still not sure of. It sounds a bit pretentious but it does try to capture something about how living in the developing world spurred me to become a mother, and then how motherhood deepened my interest in global issues such as poverty, development, war and peace.

Today, however, I want to write about one of my immediate interests, my baby Butter. (Much could be written on how people chose pseudonyms for themselves and their children in the blogosphere!). Butter is a 15 month-old baby boy. Sometimes we call him, "Mr. Intensity." He was our most difficult infant. A big crier who responded best not to more nursing (my default solution) but to tight swaddling and long walks outdoors. Many people who know me in real life have commented on how skinny I am. I tell them that Butter is a baby who came with his own built-in exercise program.

Butter prefers to nap in my arms which is how I came to blogging. Since daytime TV is a complete wasteland, I soon swapped my computer chair with the rocker. Checking emails and message boards, however, can only fill up so much time. As Butter's naps got longer, I started to read blogs to fill the time. First just my friends' blogs, Heather and Kim, then as a member of the Middle Eastern Studies Association, I thought I should read the blog of our president, Juan Cole. One blog led to another and soon I had my own personal blogroll to read each morning, starting with the political blogs, then the academic ones, then the mommy blogs. So, its only appropriate that Butter is the first of my three children to earn a post of his own.

Butter was an early walker and is now a tremendous climber. Its a miracle that he hasn't had a trip to the ER yet. He's fearless. He loves water. My husband starting taking him in the shower when Butter was just six weeks old. He never cried in the shower, so we knew he must like it. (Butter is not a baby who hesitates to show his displeasure). Now, he will stand or sit in the bottom of the shower and play happily while an adult showers. Its not unheard of for him to have two showers and a bath a day. He is amazing in the pool. He jumps right in and instinctively blows bubbles when his head goes under water. He does not get his love of water from me. I'm more catlike. Its all I can do to take a shower every two or three days!

Although Butter cried more, he also laughs more than any baby we have had. He has a beautiful smile complete with dimples! And he has learned how to use them to his best advantage.

He loves anything electronic. He has already mastered the TV, answering machine, and both my printers. If I sit down to nurse him in the rocker in front of the computer and the screen is dark, he reaches out to hit the keyboard and bring the computer to life before settling down to nurse. (Yes, we are still nursing at 15 months. I can't imagine how to mother a toddler without nursing! Don't worry sometime before he heads off to college we'll stop.)

Butter is a much wanted third child. I have been stunned by the number of people who have asked me, "so, what's it like having three?" And when I respond with "oh, its wonderful, lots of fun, much easier than just having one." They have come back with jaw-dropping statements like "oh, I just wondered, I was the third child and always thought that might have led to my parents' divorce." Or, "I was the third child and only girl and my brothers always told me that I ruined their lives." Then the "Lives" column of the New York Times Magazine this week is all about a woman's two unwanted pregnancies, one that ended in abortion, one in an unexpected third child. The author describes a secret society of women who approach her with their own stories of unwanted third children. Again, my jaw drops.

In Syria, Jordan, and Egypt, and from immigrants in the US from Thailand, Mexico, Turkey, and Bangladesh, and thankfully, from my own mother, I have heard again and again that all babies are blessings, a sign of joy in the universe, and a gift not to be refused. Baby Butter didn't disrupt my "perfect family" of one boy and one girl, as some people have implied. We consider him the exclamation point in our lives, the spicy jalapeno on the family sandwich, the cherry on top!

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