The End of an Era

It was February 2001 when I became pregnant for the first time.

That baby is now 17 years old, and probably leaving home in less than a year.

Since that day in February when I first conceived I have been either breastfeeding, or pregnant, without any pauses, for 18 years.

I was always pregnant with another by the time I weaned the child who was nursing.

It's not like I planned it that way. It just sort of happened.

I was committed to extended breastfeeding, and I just kept getting pregnant before I'd had time to wean the previous child. So the new baby became the catalyst to wean the older sibling.

All that to say, I'm done!

A month ago my youngest, just before turning 3, stopped nursing to sleep, and I am no longer lactating.

My body is no longer nourishing an extra person, for the first time in 18 years! Yes, I'm repeating myself. I'm not sure you get the significance of it.

My breasts are my own again. They don't have any milk in them. I will need to buy new…

To my sixth child

Dear Pax,

You are perfect! You are everything a little boy should be.

You are strong and agile. You climb and jump and ride your little push bike all over the place. You use swords and guns and make little explosion sounds with with your mouth while dramatically dropping into a fighting stance. "Pshshsh!" It's the best thing ever.

You are big enough to play with your older brothers, and have a lot of fun. But sometimes you do that thing that toddlers do, where you try to claim everything as your own, shouting, "Mieeene!"
When you do this the fun is killed for everyone as you cry and scream and your older siblings, frustrated with trying to distract you, or trade you another toy, or get you to play together, start to yell and scream too.

But you are far more social than your oldest siblings were at your age. You love to have playmates. You want people to run around, and play cars with. You also love babies. You run up to babies in public making sweet chirruping…

Here's How You Can Invest in a Woman's Future.

They come to my door sometimes, always unannounced, and always with some inexpensive sugary drink or snack to give to me, the hostess, as is proper Asian custom.

We sit down, usually on the floor. They're more comfortable there. I pour the sickeningly sweet orange liquid into glasses, comment on how much bigger their babies have grown, and they tell me they need a job. Can I give them a job?

These women have babies, children to feed, elderly parents to care for, and they are asking to work, not a for a handout, but for work.
They are hoping I will say I need a house helper, someone to come and clean and wash laundry for me, for pay.

"I already have 3 house helpers," I tell them. "I don't need anyone else."

"What skills do you have?"

Most of them say, "I don't have any."

One answered, "I can clean house, take care of children, and cook Burmese food."

I was impressed with her self assessment, that she categorized the things s…

Lost in the Woods

The past 3 years have been witness to a slow forgetting of who I am. Or maybe more accurately, who I wanted to be, and what I knew about how to get there.

I used to write, here, about the stories we tell ourselves. How our narrative shapes our experience of events. How we act out of the idea we have of ourselves in relation to the events unfolding around ourselves.

I used to think of my life as an adventure. I used to think of challenges as things that taught me strength. I used to actually embrace difficulty as a growth opportunity.

I don't know how to describe what happened next, what made me forget, in terms other than, I got tired. No, not just tired, bone crushingly weary, and I had no hope that it would end. That was what undid me. I somehow stopped believing that my difficulties would ever end and that I would find my way to the other side of them. There were things happening to me that I didn't choose and I felt out of control and helpless because of it…

What Christmas Songs Tell Us About Hate

It’s all around us this time of year, if we listen. Subversive, revolutionary ideas about how the world ought to be fill the air. Our ears ring with the promise of hope, life, light in the darkness, the broken made whole, those who are oppressed finding justice, those who are enslaved finding freedom, those who are fleeing from conflict finding peace. It’s in there, right beside the Santa Baby’s and that one song by Mariah Carey that everyone still knows that they play every where, even in Thailand.
I hum the songs. I love the words, and as I hum them, so familiar, they catch at my awareness and bring tears to my eyes, steal my breath away. These words, they turn everything upside down.
Truly he taught us to love one and other, His law is love, and his gospel is peace. Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother, and in his name, all oppression shall cease…”

“Come thou rod of Jesse bind, all peoples in one heart and mind. Bid envy strife and discord cease, fill the whole w…

On Not Taking Things For Granted

We play a little thought game sometimes, my husband and I.

It's simple really.

We take what we know about the people we meet, and we speculate on what their life would have been like if they had been able to access the same resources we had when we were young.

There's a woman we know who takes every thing that comes her way and turns it into a business opportunity. She ran a grocery delivery service to families living outside of town. Every time she cooks dinner she sells a few extra plates to the men in her village who would rather not cook for themselves. She buys clothing at a discount and sells it at a profit. She's always taking care of people too

Her parents both died when she was in 4th grade. That's the highest level of education she ever completed. After that there was no money for school.

We think she'd be the CEO of a major corporation by now if she had been able to finish public school and go to college like we did.

Another woman turned around and taug…

Trying Hard to Focus On the Beauty

My dad's family had a big reunion this past July. Eighty eight of the one hundred thirty two people descended from my grandparents met at my aunt and uncles ranch in southern Alberta for the first time in 20 years. It made the local papers because, giant family and all.

I was not sad. I was prepared for it. They sent us family reunion T shirts, and we sent them a photo of ourselves wearing them to put up for all attending to see the missing parts of the family. It was kind and thoughtful.

We have a facebook group for all of the photos from large family events, so I saw the photos. I saw pictures of everyone having a good time rafting on the river, cooking together, camping together. I was fine.

Then I started clicking through about 50 photos of the location, posted by my aunt. I immediately commented, "Where is all the trash? [She says in amazement, after 4 years of working in a culture that believes the entire outdoors is to be used as a trash can.]."

Trash is somethi…


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