Today is Harley’s original due date. It’s also a special kind of anniversary, the anniversary of when she finally started latching and stopped needing to be bottle fed expressed milk. So, while I was like a cow before this date, today marks a year with Harley on the boob, a year of breastfeeding. It’s been such a journey so far, and I have so many feelings about it all. While most of them are good, there is some negative stuff mixed in, too.
All the research says that breast is best. Before even talking about the emotional stuff, simply said breast milk is the best for a baby. It’s got all the nutrients she needs, lets her try all sorts of new flavors depending on what I eat, and helps with immunity and allergies. Plus, it’s free. I had no doubt that I wanted to nurse Harley, no doubt that she would be on the boob for a while. But how long did I think I would nurse? Probably about a year. Now that she’s a year on the boob and almost 14 months old, I’m reassessing the age, but not as much as I would have thought a few months ago.
Dean’s application is officially lodged with the consulate. It’s just the first step in the process (and I’ll write about it soon), but barring any unforeseen issues, it pretty much means that we are going this year. Green cards are strange that way – the application could take us anywhere from three to six months, but once it’s approved, we have six months to get to the States. It felt so final after we handed in that application, like we were really doing this. Maybe it was the ridiculous fee we had to pay (over $500 which isn’t a nice number converted into Rands), or maybe it was the guy explaining the timeline to us, or maybe it was simply doing the calendar math, but I realized just how short our time in South Africa is now, and I’m filling with so many feelings.
I think that hardest part is that our life here is good. It’s not like we’re in a terrible situation, struggling to get by or seeking to escape a war or conflict. We aren’t being persecuted, we aren’t even unhappy here. We have a home, a car, jobs we love, friends we adore… but it’s the other stuff, too. I know where to go for all the things we might want or need. I’m oriented in my city, I’m comfortable with the places I frequent, and everything feels incredibly familiar by now.
Citizenship has been on my mind a lot lately. I’ve been worrying about Harley’s South African citizenship, her American citizenship, wondering about emigrating despite Trump becoming president, and a whole host of other things. On the one hand, I’ve thought of citizenship as a privilege – I’m privileged to have an American passport that allows me to travel easily, something I notice more with a South African husband. However, with today being inauguration day, I want to talk a little bit about citizenship as a responsibility, and how each of us can be an active citizen.
Whenever election day rolls around, either here in South Africa or in the States, I make a pretty big deal of it. I make sure Dean votes (not that he needs me to do so, but still), and I’m sure to vote as well. Voting is important. It’s the most obvious statement of your opinion in the democratic system, and it’s vital to a state being legitimate and focused on the needs of the people. I actually really like countries that make voting easy for citizens, whether with a public holiday or plenty of advanced voting, along with some sort of mandatory voting system. If you are a citizen, you should be required to take part in the governance of your country. But there is so much more that goes into being an active citizen.
I wrote recently about wishing that I’d been more confident when Harley came home. Not about how to do things, that comes with time, but more that I wish I’d had the confidence to know that I’m the best mommy for Harley, that I’m doing the right things for her and that I really do know what’s best for her (at least for now). While part of that comes with time and experience, it’s also aided or hampered by the people around me – just having people I know and trust tell me how they see I’m a good mom makes me feel more confident. Contrarily, when people question my decisions or outright undermine them, it can make me wonder if I’m a good mom or if they’re right. I’ve heard many people talk about signs that you’re a good or a bad mom, and I thought I’d throw my two cents in (or maybe a bit more).
It’s hard to know if you’re a good mom, mostly because everything we do as parents is so long term. Sure, your kid might thrive developmentally, or might show signs of being well adjusted, but you just won’t know how you did as a parent until months, years or decades down the line. There are some things you can pick up on along the way, and hopefully these help you when you have those moments of doubt. Or, at least I’ll have a post to come back and read when something makes me wonder it for myself. You know you’re a good mom if…
At the time of writing this, I have done 15 consecutive days of yoga. That is more than I’ve ever done before; I usually got bored and abandoned the daily yoga idea after a few days or a week. I find it so helpful to have great emails sent to me each day – a new routine, a new focus every day. It’s about more than the physical; the emotional and cognitive journey has already been profound. Even so, I was wondering if I’d stick with it once the month was over. Would I continue to find videos? Would I keep enjoying it without the daily changing routine? Parts of it are still so daunting. I struggle with many of the regular poses (like downward f-ing dog) and finish the 30 minute videos dripping with sweat. With some poses that I can only do while heavily modified, I sometimes feel like I’m not strong enough, not flexible enough.
I recently caught up with my friend Sadaf, and she commented that she saw that I was doing yoga now (she has for years). A part of me didn’t feel like I was good enough to be considered in the same league as I imagined she was in. I replied, “yeah, but I sorta suck at it”. She laughed and made the best possible comment. You can’t suck at yoga. It’s only once it came to the West that we started making it a competitive thing somehow, trying to be able to push ourselves into ever more complicated poses, outdoing the person on the next mat. It’s not about getting into the “perfect” tree, chair or crow pose, something that is mirrored in what the woman running the #YogaRevolution often says.