How Not To Annoy New Moms in Five Easy Steps

STEP 1: Don’t ask “How is the baby sleeping?” or any variation thereof.

They say there are no stupid questions, only stupid people. Guess what, my friend? This question (and any of its sub-varients, like “is he a good sleeper?” “is she sleeping through the night?” or the thinly-veiled-you-are-a-terrible-parents remarks like, “oh, my baby sleeps great!” “she woke up once last night, woe is me” “he is probably just having a short-term regression,” etc.) is very stupid, and asking it (or stating any variation of the sentiment) makes you a huge jerkface.

Babies don’t sleep. “Sleeping like a baby” means that you are getting bounced on a yoga ball while patted on the back and shushed and fed, usually all by the same individual, while a toddler lights the house on fire and / or runs into the street naked. Newborns eat every 1-4 hours. Someone is feeding them. If it’s not you, guess what, you don’t get to have opinions or inquiries about it. If the baby DOES sleep, you’ll hear about it in celebratory Facebook posts.

Don’t be a jerkface.

STEP 2: Make her a damn sandwich.

When my mom was visiting immediately postpartum, do you know what she did? She went to the store and bought a loaf of bread, some hummus, my favorite lunch meat (HAM), sliced cheese, and lettuce. Then she came to my house, put it all together, and handed me the sandwich on a plate with a side of apple slices and a glass of black cherry bubble water.

After she left, the one time I asked my Dear Husband to make me a sandwich, he put a piece of cheese between two pieces of hard-ass-crusty French bread, wrapped it in wax paper, and sent it to me via toddler. So, not only did I get it delivered with a bite taken out of the cheese, I had to unwrap it from crinkly wax paper (which woke up the baby), I could barely eat it because the crust was so hard, and I got crumbs all over the bed and floor.

Later, when he was going to the store, he said “Can I get you anything?” (You know, since I basically live my life pinned under a newborn while wearing pajamas for the third day in a row and covered in various forms of bodily fluids, all of which makes it challenging to leave the house for groceries.) I said, “Can you please get some sandwich fixings?” (Thinking maybe just a loaf of bread and ham – I didn’t need to get all greedy about the lettuce.) Then he said, like I didn’t just push our second kid out of my body after carrying it around for 9 months and puking my guts out sometimes and still managing to keep a toddler alive during that time, “I don’t like sandwiches.”

When they said “Never stop dating your wife,” I’m pretty sure they were talking about sandwiches.

Don’t be a jerkface. Make the damn sandwich.

STEP 3: Bring her a damn beverage.

If she is feeding or otherwise pinned under a sleeping / crying / whatevering baby, bring her a drink. Pour a glass of water, add some ice cubes (or not), smack a lid on it and straw in it and put it in her hand OR on a VERY nearby surface that she can access while pinned. Or bring her an iced coffee, prepared how she likes it, or iced tea, or an open can of something, or an open bottle of wine. Airplane serving size is easiest to balance with a baby.

Every time you take a leisurely, unimpeded visit to cabinet for a glass and then to the sink or fridge for a beverage for yourself, you had better be getting a second one for the stuck mom.

Don’t be a jerkface. Keep her hydrated.

STEP 4: Don’t ask “What do you want me to do?” or any variation thereof.

I already told you what to do. See Step 2 and Step 3 above. Did you already ply her with food and drink? Well then, change the baby’s diaper and hold the baby while she goes to the bathroom or sleeeeeeeeps. And I do mean HOLD THE BABY, don’t just plop the WIDE AWAKE baby in the bassinet WITH A POOPY DIAPER while you go take a nap. This means that she has to get the baby, change the baby, cheer the baby up after the traumatic experience of getting a diaper change, and now she’s forced to hold the baby in her lap while nursing and angrily writing blog posts with one hand about being a newborn’s mom. True story, real time facts, this is happening right now.

Perhaps the great KatyKatiKate put it best:

I’m not trying to be a hater, but you need to understand that she is one person doing literally everything, not just in her life, but in the kids’ lives, and probably much of what’s in your life, too.

And when you tap her on the shoulder and ask, “Hey, what can I do to help?”

This is what happens in Mom Brain: She suddenly sees another person who is her responsibility. Another board lights up. Another thing beeps.

Don’t be a jerkface. Take the initiative.

STEP 5: Complain out.

I’ll add more about the cis-hetero-priviledge in this post in a minute, after I finish burping a baby.

LATER:

I know, I know, I used a lot of gendered terminology in this post, but it is pretty autobiographical, which is why. I think all these things apply no matter what your family configuration is, as long as there is someone around who can help / support you and wants to know how to do so better.

That being said, I also know that having hummus-laced sandwiches is a delight not shared by everyone. I was briefly in a parenting group on Facebook, and a lady in a situation that sounded similar to my own at first glance posted about being pregnant with a breastfeeding two year old who refuses to sleep. The responses were more illuminating:

  • Put her in the car to get her to go to sleep. – Poster does not have a car or access to one.
  • Wean her. – Poster has to ride a bike an hour each way to the grocery store while pregnant with a two year old in winter and can only carry back limited groceries in a backpack. Weaning is actually the least parsimonious option available to her.
  • Have Daddy take a turn at night. – Poster is parenting solo.
  • Read [whatever specific book title about sleep training]. – Poster is a two hour bike ride from the library and doesn’t have money for books.
  • Have a neighbor / friend / family member help out. – Poster is living in isolated rural community that she recently moved to with no help available.
  • Get the two year old tired out with more outside time than TV time. – Poster can’t afford suitable winter clothing for the two year old.

So, obviously, “give her a damn sandwich” relies on there being someone available to pay for an acquire groceries, make the sandwich, and give it to me. I realize that this is a fantastic privilege, even if I am complaining about the quality of the sandwich. It’s meant as a tongue-in-cheek list of ideas to keep your spouse / partner / co-parent from wanting to scream at you in the early days of parenthood. Later days, you’re on your own.

Advertisements
Posted in Category Awesome | Leave a comment

Baby & Kid & Person Gifts – Part 4

Since quite a few people have asked me about baby / kid toys, I’m sharing some of the gifts that I like to give. This is Part 4 in a series.

* SPOILERS – DON’T KEEP READING IF YOU HAVE A KID BECAUSE THIS IS WHAT THEY ARE GETTING THIS YEAR AS A GIFT*

For second December-fests, I am giving out the book The Rainbow Fish, which has an AMAZING Goodreads review calling it a “communist allegory” (great for kids!), along with an adorable fish soap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are DIY instructions for said fish-in-a-bag soap all over Pinter-whatever, but I don’t hate myself, so I am just buying them pre-made from Etsy. (All of the instructions include the phrase “be patient,” and I know that I cannot, so I am just going to avoid the entire glycerin-soaked mess and save myself a world of trouble by paying someone else for it.)

 

Posted in Category Awesome | Tagged | 2 Comments

Baby & Kid & Person Gifts – Part 3

Since quite a few people have asked me about baby / kid toys, I’m sharing some of the gifts that I like to give. This is Part 3 in a series.

For second birthdays, I assembled some craft boxes with the following contents:

  • toilet paper rolls (optional, but I feel like you never have one when you need one for a craft)
  • pipe cleaners in assorted colors
  • a paint dish (not paint, though. At first, I thought I would buy small bottles to pour tempera paint into, and then I asked myself, “Self, what are you doing with your life?!” and did not do that)
  • two paint brushes (I got a colorful bulk pack of the big grippy kind that you see in childcare facilities)
  • a personalized apron (I bought these in a pack of a dozen and then used puff paint to put names on the aprons. I take back what I said before on the buckets… But really could have done this with paint pens, too, and it probably would have taken up less real estate while drying.)
  • kid scissors (they allegedly only cut paper – we’ll see. Apparently Crayola stopped making them, but there are similar types of products available. The ones I got came in a pack of three for different cuts, but I just separated them out because I don’t feel like 2-year-olds necessarily need multiples of scissors.)
  • two packs of Play-Dough (this came in a party pack, which I separated out, in anticipation of this maybe being a travel pack or something for emergency use by other parents)
  • crayons (the larger jumbo ones for younger kids and the regular size ones for older kids) (I got these in a 200-pack for classroom use and then just separated them out)
  • washable! markers (also in a classroom pack of 200, except my box had 201, or else I can’t count and someone didn’t get a yellow marker in their box)
  • a glue stick (when one 2-year-old opened the box and immediately pulled the cap off to use this as lip gloss, I realized that maybe it wasn’t the best choice, but since I already wrapped all of these for the year of birthdays, I’ll just have to live with regrets and they’ll just have to deal with sticky lips)
  • I put everything in a really nice small Sterilite flip-top container (you can personalize this using letter stickers – which might be particularly helpful if you give this gift to siblings simultaneously)

One advantage of this gift is that it’s light and it fits into a box (which is also part of the gift), so it’s great for shipping if you know people far away. It was a big hit as a December-fest gift, too. For some slightly older kids, I included a bunch of holiday stickers, googly eyes, and blank greeting cards (aka envelopes and folded card stock) so they could write thank-you cards (or just make art) after dinner and other festivities had concluded.

It also seems like it would be highly portable for longer trips, although I haven’t attempted to bring scissors on an airplane. Glue might also pose a problem. And Play-Dough would likely be messy… Well, anyhow, you do you.

 

Posted in Category Awesome | Tagged | 1 Comment

Baby & Kid & Person Gifts – Part 2

Since quite a few people have asked me about baby / kid toys, I’m sharing some of the gifts that I like to give. This is Part 2 in a series.

For Baby’s First December-fests, I like to give out the book My Heart Fills With Happiness, which is a great board book that HH brought to my attention. (I’m pretty sure that First Nations authors and illustrators are severely under-gifted in my circle of young gift-getters, so this is very unlikely to be a repeat for anyone’s library.)

You can also include a recipe for bannock, or bake some to give as part of the gift. (That’s one of the words I get the most questions about from the book.) There’s an Aboriginal People’s Television Network Fish Out of Water episode on the topic, too!

Shipping advantage: Books send at the Media Mail rate from USPS, and this is a board book, so it’s pretty easy to wrap and send without fear of damage. I wound up ordering multiple copies from our local bookstore and got a “bulk order” discount (and didn’t have to pay the incredibly high shipping-from-Canada-fee from the publisher), so that’s an option if you have a good local shop.

If you are in a sibling-situation and don’t want to repeat a book, another great option brought to my attention by RM is The Snowy Day, which you can also get as a board book (or not!).

A cute pairing for this book might be melted snowman soap, but I’m having a hard time finding any off-season…

You could also go with the cookie or candle version of this, because kids love cookies. And parents love fire.

Posted in Category Awesome | Tagged | Leave a comment

Baby & Kid & Person Gifts – Part 1

Once upon a time, when I was an impressionable young undergraduate student at McGill University, our philosophy of feminism professor told us a story about buying gifts for two young relatives, a sister and brother.

She said that at first she thought she ought to give the girl a blue truck and the boy a pink doll in the interest of challenging gender stereotypes in children’s toys, but in the end, she decided to give them both musical instruments. Flutes of some kind, if I recall correctly, because I guess she hated their parents.

(Image links to Jezebel – I couldn’t find the original original.)

Because a few people have asked me about baby / kid toys (although really, I feel like all people need more books and craft supplies), I’m going to share some of the gifts I like to give. Also, because I am Pinterest-incompetent, I am sharing my gift ideas in blog form in a multi-part series.

Before I decided to blog about this, I gave away all of my one-year-old gifts, so I don’t have a picture, but they included:

  • a mini personalized sand bucket (which was originally meant to be the main gift, but I don’t understand measurements in inches, so I wound up buying larger buckets from the $1 section at Target to serve as a gift bag / bucket)
  • a larger personalized sand bucket from Target (I did the personalizing with a paint pen because I don’t have time in my life to wait for puff paint to dry)
  • small sunglasses (I got a dozen from the oh-so-PC-ly-named Oriental Trading, and tried to give the girls green and yellow, while the boys got pink and purple. I also mixed up the bucket colors. You do you – I just feel like colorful fish glasses and one-year-olds more generally are decidedly gender neutral.)
  • small fishy bubbles (they have a fish on top – I was going for a nautical theme)
  • a small squirty fish for the bathtub (because I hate other parents and want them to get soaked, too)
  • a large squirty fish for the bathtub (see previous addendum)
  • two sand shovels (these came with the buckets – I wrote a birthday message on the larger one. By “message” I mean “Happy Birthday [INSERT NAME HERE.]”)

It turns out that you can apparently just buy these gift kits as a set. Ah well.

One disadvantage of the large buckets is that they’re sort of a hassle to mail. (I wound up dismantling a box in order to reassemble it in a more bucket-sized container for mailing.)

One advantage is that you can stack a few buckets together to send multiples to siblings, and they are really light so they ship fairly inexpensively other than the bulkiness factor. (Apparently many of the children / parent parings that I love to hassle live very far away.)

These seem to be the kind of thing that constantly get lost / broken / left at the park sandbox or the beach, so I think it’s a reasonably decent thing to get (as opposed to something large or unwieldily or less useable, like I don’t know what exactly, but there are a lot of dumb kid’s products in the world).

PS The age guideline is really just to help me avoid repeating gifts. (Oh, you’re turning 2? I guess I won’t give you a bucket again!) I think a sand bucket assemblage is a good gift for any age person’s pool party (but maybe replace the kiddie sunglasses with Corona for mature audiences).

Posted in Category Awesome | Tagged | Leave a comment

California Map Society & Stanford Lecture Series Notes

After a series of hilarious incidents during which I ate half of someone else’s grilled cheese and ice cream sundae, then couldn’t find the campus shuttle due to a failure to read maps correctly… I wound up at the California Map Society & Stanford Lecture Series only a little bit later than I had originally planned.*

California Map Society & Stanford Lecture Series

I attended the student paper presentation at the David Rumsey Map Center in the Cecil H. Green Library at Stanford University on 4 May 2017. It. Was. AWESOME. There were giant monitors around the room for viewing maps, and neat spinning globes atop every shelf. The David Rumsey Historical Map Collection has been an invaluable on-line tool for my research and teaching, so it was really cool to go to a room dedicated to preserving and displaying the collection.

The student talk was based on materials from the collection and the speaker had won an award for her essay. (I’m definitely planning to include her name and institutional affiliation as soon as those become available on the California Map Society page. As I was late due to terrible map-reading skillz, I missed those important details.)

She was speaking about two maps by Guillaume de L’Isle and [???] (I’m waiting for the paper to become available to get the spelling of the second mapmaker’s name). She noted the emphasis in each map on the abundance of commodities and commercial potential for the Louisiana Territory. Both mention “The Heart of the River” in their titles (any one have ideas as to why? Theories accepted in the comments). The focus on the river routes and fur trade was particularly relevant to my area of interest, of course (CANADA).

The rivers were crucial to the expansion of French fur trading, transportation, communication, and missionary efforts, a point reflected by their prominent role in each map. She mentioned Native American / First Nation birch bark canoe and sled use, which were both copied by the French. However, overland trails such as buffalo routes were generally avoided by the French, who preferred the ease of access afforded by the rivers. By 1685, there were French trading posts around the Great Lakes, with missions established nearby.

She mentioned the travels of Louis Joliet and Jacques Marquette (a Jesuit who’s rather infamous in the Chicagoland area) along the Mississippi River through to Spanish territory in 1673. The Governor of New France, Frontenac, footed Joliet’s expedition bill. In 1682, de La Salle travelled with Louis Hennepin (a Franciscan whom she classified as “a bit of a scoundrel”) along a similar route. The maps celebrate 19,000 miles of navigable waterways — but, she asked, “what are they hiding?”

She noted that the maps have a celebratory tone about the French voyages along the Mississippi, and the missionaries even baptized the territory in the name of France, but their tone belies chronic uncertainty about the Louisiana Territory. The area was a burden for the French crown, which was concurrently engaged in various European wars. Even map inscriptions like “La Floride” on Delisle’s map betray the dominance of Spanish claims.

The frantic “race to the Gulf of Mexico” by D’Iberville (who named Mobile and Beloxy in 1700) was tempered by British colonization, religious strife, and poor agricultural opportunities. (I’m not sure if this was a joke or a quote, but she noted that there were no pearl or buffalo exports possible from the region.)

John Law revived French interest in the region, but John Law’s Company of the West ultimately proved too good to be true. In the “Mississippi Bubble,” his self-made currency collapsed, and he was ultimately dismissed in 1720.

In 1729, there was a bloody fight at Natchez, which had formerly been considered the gem of the region. Overall, Louisiana was plagued with geopolitical instability.

There were many intertribal conflicts, but also exchanges, collaborations, and unstable British and French alliances with Indigenous communities. Overall, the maps tend to conceal any conflict. She argued that despite the violent imagery in a cartouche of a Native American figure carrying a scalp, this was merely stock iconography.

Furthermore, maps conceal the asymmetrical distances. While one may reach New Orleans downstream two weeks after leaving Kaskaskia, the return journey might be a four month upstream slog. (Fun facts about New Orleans from the Q&A: Among other factors… it was too hard to travel much further upstream, especially when larger ships were involved, so New Orleans was founded in a floodplain in 1718.)

Some discrepancies between the maps that she noted were in the illustration of tributaries and the naming conventions. For example, de L’Isle’s 1703 map includes Mexique et Floride as opposed to drawings of turkeys. There was plenty of copying and referencing of earlier maps; she called mapmaking “a cumulative textual process.”

I noticed that the Carte du Canada cartouche included a beaver (*nod to some NEH participants…*) as well as a “much more edifying bunch of cattle.”

De L’Isle was the preeminent geographe du bois of his era, and the ‘accuracy’ of his maps served as a definitive reference point for decades.

Other topics she mentions:

  • John Senex map – copied with name changes
  • Native American contributions to mapmaking
  • Jesuit navigation
  • Imperial optimism about North America
  • Processes of mapmaking
  • Seven Years War
  • Lake Erie’s alternative names (Lac Chat?)
  • Quebec’s Jesuit hydrography and navigation school
  • Apparently North and South Carolina (the Carolinas) were named after either a French or English king. Mapmakers carried on the dispute.
  • Joliet made elaborate but sloppy maps, whereas Jesuits like Marquette made comparatively sophisticated, nuanced pieces of cartography.

 

The next talk was about Revolution: Mapping the Road to American Independence, but my childcare ran out!

Her paper should be available on the California Map Society website soon. I’ll update when I see it!

Abbreviated List of Further Sources

California Map Society Conference posts from May 2015:


* And I had planned for this. It was an OUTING. I wore my cartographic skirt from DM, my cartographic scarf from JKZ, and my cartographic necklace from SS. I drew an apparently terrible map of the bus lines I needed to use. Plus I was carrying my Chicago Map Tote bag. What a cartographically-themed life I lead! Also I had gotten childcare.

Posted in Category Awesome | Tagged | Leave a comment

It’s 2017…

Here is a letter that I sent to Current Catalog about diversity in capitalism. (No word back yet, despite an alleged 48-hour reply time… But I can wait!)

To: Current Order Processing Center, Colorado Springs, CO 80941-0001

Sent: 3 April 2017

Dear Current Catalog,

I am a longtime fan of Current items. My mom got stickers from your catalog when I was a kid, and I’ve been doing the same for my little one. (They are great entertainment for airplane rides!) However, I would like to bring an item to your attention that I think would help you sell stickers and holiday ornaments to a broader consumer base.

I recently purchased the “Happy Family Shipping Labels” because I thought that the images were of a very cute black-and-white cartoon family. When the stickers arrived, I realized that the family is lightly colored, a fact that I hadn’t noticed while looking at the computer screen while ordering the labels. Since my family is not actually the color of the family on the stickers, my husband was quite put out and set our son to re-coloring the faces with crayons. [Addendum: The Happy Family Shipping Labels do not appear to be available on the website anymore as of 17 April 2017.]

Current Catalog, “Happy Family” face (zoom).

This reminded me of last Christmas, when I was trying to order a personalized family ornament from Current Catalog but was unable to find an option for non-white family members. For example, the Snuggle Up Hand-Lettered Resin Ornament, Blended Family Ornament, Shovel Family Ornament, Christmas Tree House Ornament, Caroler Family Hand-Lettered Resin Ornament, Snowball Fight Ornament, and Personalized Lamp Post Ornament are only available with white faces. This leaves us with the option of moose, owls, gingerbread, snowmen, or stockings, but it would be great to see more inclusivity and diversity of options in the colors of the figures on your ornaments and labels.

Current Catalog, personalized family ornaments (samples)

We ran into the same problem years ago when trying to order a mixed couple topper for our wedding cake, so we chose to go without one, but it’s 2017 and we would really be happy to see more representation of the variety of family forms (and colors!) in your items available for purchase.

That’s what a Google image search for “wedding cake topper” gets you — cis, hetero, etc. wypipo.

Endnote: I know that Current Catalog falls definitively into the category of “stuff white people like,” but I still thought it was worth a shot.

Posted in Category Awesome | Leave a comment

Nunavut!

I’m working on a publication about Nunavut derived from the Nunavut case study in my dissertation and thought I’d share this mash-up of invented Nunavut names…

001-MT-Trudeau-vision-web.jpg

Merle Tingley (Ting), London Free Press

hudson10

Montreal Daily Star, 1928

Posted in Category Awesome | Tagged | Leave a comment

Finding the way…

010-pr-gps

Peter Radacina. Vancouver Sun.

gps-2

Northwest Territories to Be Divided in Two - Aislin - 1987.jpg

Aislin. “Northwest Territories to Be Divided in Two.” Montreal Gazette. 1987.

009-AI-Broken-Ski-Doo-web.jpg

Alootook Ipellie.

~

Happy Birthday, Nunavut.

Posted in Category Awesome | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Cartoon of Quebec’s Little Boy

p 68 Behind the Jester’s Mask - Macpherson, Toronto Star.png

Duncan Macpherson for the Toronto Star, in Behind the Jester’s Mask: Canadian editorial cartoons about dominant and minority groups 1960-1979 by Raymond N. Morris (page 68)

madame-qc-wild-boy-2-grip-aug-12-1882madame-qc-grip-aug-12-1882-blog-anne

“Madame Quebec’s Wild Boy,” Grip, 12 August 1882, in A Caricature History of Canadian Politics, Volume 2 by John Wilson Bengough (page 318 and 319)

hudon-m997-63-2-blogged

“Trudeau: Care to purchase a little Québécois for next to nothing?” by Normand Hudon, 1969, via the McCord Museum

Posted in Category Awesome | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment