M is seven weeks old today. She was almost twelve pounds at six weeks - a cute little chunkette with a fine double chin, which is fun and cute to joke about now, but I am also already worried about how not to give my daughter a body image complex. But fuck it, for now it’s fun to joke about her trying to eat her toy panda.
It’s crazy how much things have changed between two weeks and now. In a lot of ways, they’ve gotten a lot harder. Once she started regularly opening her eyes, she also started crying a lot more. All the time. We recently went to the doctor, and we’re pretty sure she has acid reflux, so hopefully the medicine works and she’s less cranky all the time.
It’s weird, I still feel like she doesn’t look much like me. Maybe because she doesn’t have my hair, but she really doesn’t seem to have much of me except for my chubby cheeks. I guess mostly what I’m saying is she doesn’t look super Asian, and it’s throwing me, as I was so focused on having to prepare to deal with issues of representation, raising an Asian girl. Not that that thinking will go to waste, just, it’s different.
Also, I’m already starting to feel guilty about a billion things. Not doing a better job documenting this time (I meant to write this post at four weeks, not seven). Getting ready to go back to work. Putting her in daycare so early. Co-sleeping. Not co-sleeping. Keeping a dirty house. Letting the dog get fat. Being late with my thank you notes. blah blah blah. I feel much more prepared to deal with these guilty feelings now since being in therapy, but it’s especially hard when I’m really tired. It’s not all the time, but still quite often.
One thing that’s really weird for me is not knowing all the best resources for being a parent. Like, I’ve spent practically my whole life on the Internet and I’ve built years of knowledge on where to go for what information, how to stay on top of the latest. This world of parenting on the Internet seems so awful to me, like it’s been developed by middle-aged moms who only know Pinterest and Facebook - like it’s either Yahoo answers or it’s commercial glossy parenting magazines. Where’s The Awl equivalent?
But overall, things are going really well. She’s getting bigger by the day. By the minute, almost. She’s so strong - she holds her head up really well and she stands up on our lap and props herself up. She’s starting to coo, and starting to really respond to us. She’s starting to grab on a lot more, almost give us hugs. Hopefully with the medicine, she also spends more time awake not nursing and not crying (it’s getting better already).
I miss her new new baby smell. She still smells good, but it’s not the same.
But overall, things get better and better. And I can’t lie, I’m pretty happy to have the pregnancy weight off. Although it was fun wearing pants with elastic waistbands for ten months, it’s nice to have some of my wardrobe back (I still have to go shopping for new shirts). My body feels mostly like my own again, aside from constantly covering me and everything I own with milk. gross.
NYT: What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?
TEJU COLE: I have not read most of the big 19th — century novels that people consider “essential,” nor most of the 20th-century ones for that matter. But this does not embarrass me. There are many films to see, many friends to visit, many walks to take, many playlists to assemble and many favorite books to reread. Life’s too short for anxious score-keeping. Also, my grandmother is illiterate, and she’s one of the best people I know. Reading is a deep personal consolation for me, but other things console, too.”—Teju Cole, "Teju Cole: By The Book" A New York Times Q&A, March 6, 2014 (via jalylah)
“That said, stereotypes aren’t so much about people totally projecting things that completely aren’t there but about people having a framework with which they interpret things that actually are there. It’s not that racism causes people to see (for example) belligerent teenage boys where there are none, but that a white belligerent teenage boy is just seen as himself while a black belligerent teenage boy is part of a pattern, a script, and when people blindly follow the scripts in their head that leads to discrimination and prejudice. So yeah, it is a fact, I think, that I was a bit off-putting in my Jeopardy! appearance—hyper-focused on the game, had an intense stare, clicked madly on the buzzer, spat out answers super-fast, wasn’t too charming in the interviews, etc. But this may have taken root in people’s heads because I’m an Asian and the “Asian mastermind” is a meme in people’s heads that it wouldn’t have otherwise.Look, we all know that there’s a trope in the movies where someone of a minority race is flattened out into just being “good at X” and that the white protagonist is the one we root for because unlike the guy who’s just “good at X” the protagonist has human depth, human relationships, a human point of view—and this somehow makes him more worthy of success than the antagonist who seems to exist just to be good at X. So we root for Rocky against black guys who, by all appearances, really are better boxers than he is, because unlike them Rocky isn’t JUST a boxer, he has a girlfriend, he has hopes, he has dreams, etc. This comes up over and over again in movies where the athletic black competitor is set up as the “heel”—look at the black chick in Million Dollar Baby and how much we’re pushed to hate her. Look at all this “Great White Hope” stuff, historically, with Joe Louis. So is it any surprise that this trope comes into play with Asians? That the Asian character in the movie is the robotic, heartless, genius mastermind who is only pure intellect and whom we’re crying out to be defeated by some white guy who may not be as brainy but has more pluck, more heart, more humanity? It’s not just Flash Gordon vs. Ming the Merciless, it’s stuff like how in the pilot episode of Girls Hannah gets fired in favor of an overachieving Asian girl who’s genuinely better at her job than she is (the Asian girl knows Photoshop and she doesn’t) and we’re supposed to sympathize with Hannah. Okay, here’s one more comment from the Internet that kind of encapsulates it. The kind of un-self-awareness of what someone is saying when they say they’d prefer I not win because I try too hard at the game, work too hard at it, care too much about it, and that they’d prefer that a “likable average Joe” win. This is disturbing because it amounts to basically an attack on competence, a desire to bust people who work very hard and have very strong natural gifts down in favor of “likable average Joes”—and it’s disturbing because the subtext is frequently that to be “likable” and “average” you have to have other traits that are comforting and appealing to an “average Joe” audience, like white skin and an American accent.”—
This is a lovely post. :-) Enjoy motherhood! As for television, I recommend The Good Wife. ;-)
Thank you! I am enjoying it. Oh, I marathoned the hell out of The Good Wife not too long ago. Like, caught up from the beginning in less than a month. It is a great show! And I think Alicia is the best mom.