|The River Shannon on the way to Glin, the town where my Irish ancestors are from.|
I have so many more pictures of Ireland to share with you (stop that groaning right now!). But the drama is pretty much over, so what I'm going to do is write about some other things that are on my mind and illustrate with pictures of Bridget in ruins (I mean posing in the stone ruins of some ancient castle, not suffering from any decay herself, quite the contrary), cows, pastures, hedgerows, and moody skies.
|The castle in Glin.|
That way we'll kill two birds with one stone.
I'm acutely aware of some threads I haven't tied up in some series I may or may not have started.
Literally several readers are on tenterhooks waiting to find out what my deep conclusions on cleaning the rest of the house may be, if only because they like that assurance that my ineptitude gives them.
I'm not being falsely modest here -- right now my house feels, apart from the windows Suzanne and Bridget cleaned, like a cross between a dorm and a honey processing plant, with all that conjures up in the way of sticky clutter.
|Phil was determined that we see the burial ground near the town we stayed in. But not by the proper road, by a footpath going over a train track and then sort of dying. It was an adventure, especially with the train coming!|
|This burial ground was in the ruins of what we think might be the abbey we were looking for early on. It's truly this cock-eyed.|
And while there is almost certainly no one who cares about my truly profound ideas on what it means to be a woman, for my own amusement I was going to work on my magnum opus (hey, for some kitchen philosophers a blog post counts as a magnum opus) during my halcyon days in my fairy-tale cottage, but that did not pan out.
I'm not giving up...I have lots to say...but for now, seeing as I am going to be a grandmother, I'd like to offer up a few thoughts here on expecting a baby. Don't get me wrong. I think Rosie is handling things very well, as far as I can tell from 3000 miles away...I only wish I could be with her to talk about all the little plans and help her spray paint baby stuff. I'm so excited...I can't believe this new phase of life is here!
But I am a little afraid of what I've noticed: That some girls succumb to what I call "the culture of freaking out."
This is where girls today freak out when life happens. Normal life isn't the norm anymore.
I think that there's a funny combination of a lack of stability in people's personal lives and extreme consumerism that makes some women quite anxious.
If you grew up with some fundamental uncertainties (and here I'm talking about the decades-old entrenched habits of divorce, self-medication, lack of babies in everyday life, and some other stuff that you might be familiar with), and if on top of that you were exposed to the relentless practice, from a young age, of using shopping as a drug or control mechanism, you are going to be seriously off balance when you are faced with something as elementally challenging as bringing forth new life from your body.
Even if you are a person who is basically in an emotionally and physically healthy place, but are surrounded by (i.e. went to college, are friends, or roomed with) such people, you are going to feel the freakage creeping in. You are not immune to freakage.
It's depressing to see someone actually worrying, to the point of making herself sick, about what she will buy for the baby. I'm wondering at the energy used to identify the hippest stroller, which, naturally, is shockingly expensive. I'm all for getting a good stroller, but let's keep some perspective (and start honing some thrifting skills).
But I'm more concerned about two other freak-outs. First, today's girl is frantic that she won't be thin after the baby is born.
She's probably right.
That's okay. You do know what a warped body image is, right? Give yourself some mental room, because you have a new mission: nurturing your baby and your new family -- narcissism will just slow you down!
You will be a different shape and full of various fluids. It takes time to process all that. Give yourself time.
Know that despite the occasional naturally skinny person, most ladies wear maternity clothes directly after giving birth.
For six weeks, assume that your body has to work back to equilibrium after being asked to provide life support for two persons in one mode, and then launch right into providing life support for two persons in a different mode.
|At the holy-water fonts at Knock. Bridget was so happy to have her friend along with us for a few days.|
Fortunately, that second mode (nursing the baby) uses a vast amount of calories. Your only task will be to make sure that you are eating enough high-quality food, by which I mean simple wholesome meats, grains, vegetables, and fruits, with enough fats to supply all the nutrients you need.
Please eat some real butter. Eat real meals, three times a day. Drink a lot of water, iced tea, and cranberry juice (but no high-fructose corn syrup, please!). And you may be pleasantly surprised at how quickly the weight drops off and you are ready to get back to life as usual.
|The foot of Patrick's mountain.|
|Clew Bay, with Croagh Patrick behind us.|
Instead of dieting and worrying about weight gain, which is perfectly normal and probably simply controlled by heredity, you should start thinking about what the right way to feed a family is, because soon you won't be the baby, you'll have a baby.
Another body-related freak-out centers on labor and delivery. One reason C-section rates are so high is what I've called the medicalization of obstetrics.
Yes, labor and delivery can be hard (and most of mine were very hard). They can also be not that bad or even ridiculously easy, particularly if you are reasonably fit, and I don't mean obsessing about going to the gym, which, frankly, is just a warped way of looking at life. I just mean limber and strong.
The college-girl's panacea -- working out at the gym to offset binge eating or exhaustion -- stinks. It's no way to live. It buys into a dualistic and mechanistic view of the body. And it will lead to poor health.
|The intense mountains of Connemara. Bridget left her heart here!|
Put things in their proper balance.
Believe that your body was made by God to do this, it's not a disease to be pregnant and give birth, and chances are things will be fine. If there is a problem, we are very blessed to have modern science to step in, but we have to keep it within the bounds of common sense.
Be the person with common sense. Become a mother.