Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wool over my eyes

Have you ever heard that using cloth diapers saves money?  I'm sure it's often true.  Certainly, buying a small selection of cloth diapers, which you can wash and reuse a seemingly infinite number of times, should cost significantly less than constantly buying disposables.  Even though most cloth is size specific, and must be replaced with a larger size as the child grows, the savings should still be con considerable.  In most cases I'm sure it is considerable.  Unless you start using longies.

Longies are knitted or crocheted woolen pants that are used in place of a diaper cover.  That is, you put the child in an absorbant (usually cotton) diaper, then put the longies over top of this.  Because longies are treated with lanolin, they keep moisture in while still allowing air to flow in and heat to flow out.  Brilliant, right?  And though they tend to be a bit expensive ($60-80 is the average price, in my experience), you really only need two or three of them, as they can go weeks between washings due to the amazing properties of wool.

But as you descend deeper into the world of longies, you begin to see that you have entered a clever trap.  A cute, colorful, time and money consuming trap.  Longies are just the start, the gateway drug, if you will.  Next come shorties (for summer), soakers (for nights), skirties (for the girly-girls), interlock pants (for the track suit look), and even frilly little knitted capri pants.  You realize that each of these items (for the sake of brevity I will continue to use "longies" for all) comes in an endless variety of sizes, colors, shapes, and patterns.  There are recycled longies, made out of old adult sweaters.  There are longies with stripes, landscapes, symbols, animals, flowers, and even faces on their behinds.  You can even get longies that look like tights.  Longies can cost anywhere from $5 for a recycled pair, to close to $300 for a very popular and intricate design.  Even buying used, as I always do, it would not be difficult to drop $400 or more in single day on just a few pairs of longies.

So, as you might have guessed, I've been doing a little shopping.  N is growing out of his current stock of covers, and I'm making the switch almost entirely to wool.  Even buying used and mostly recycled, I have already spent $140 on longies and shorties.  For a frugal (to be charitable) soul like me, that's quite a hit, but I have two shorties, three longies, and a night cover coming my way.  Hooray for fluffy mail!  As addictions go, I suppose this one isn't a bad one to have.  Now if only I could stop window shopping for baby carriers...

I don't mean to discourage anyone from trying cloth diapers, of from using wool covers.  Cloth truly is an expensive or as inexpensive as you want it to be.  I only want to warn those of you who might be contemplating cloth, that this is an addiction you might never cure yourself of!  In any case, I highly recommend that every mama (or daddy) thinking of starting up with cloth register over at Diaper Swappers.  Cloth diapering mamas treat their cloth like gold, so it's easy to buy used, but nearly pristine, cloth and accessories of all sorts there.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A new year, a fresh start

This will be a year of many changes, almost as many as last year.  In 2008, we moved to a new home, had N, T started a career change, and I finished my A.A. degree.  This year N turns 1, I start substitute teaching, and finally begin my doula training.  I have my workshop with DONA on the consecutive weekends this month.  I'm barely a week away from my first day, and very excited.  I have been interested in the process of normal birth since long before my pregnancy, so I'm very pleased to be taking steps towards helping other women achieve it.  I also hope, of course, that having a mother who is a doula will help teach N that birth is not an illness, and that it is a natural and beautiful part of life.

But the news isn't all good.  My DONA workshops are just the start of my time away from N.  While completing my A.A., I was able to either bring him to class, or take evening classes so that T could be in charge while I was away.  Now that I'm leaving community college and heading to a university, and to a double major plus honors minor, I'm beginning to see that child care is going to be an issue.  I have always felt strongly that I want to be a stay-at-home mom to my children, at least until they are old enough to attend school.  My heavy schedule at the college, however, is not going to allow this.  I'm scrambling for a solution to our child care problem, and at the same time I'm mourning the loss of my time with N, and of my dream of being a stay-at-home parent.  I have to weigh N's needs now - a young baby who still primarily nurses, and who is very attached to his mama, and in need of her attention - with my need to finish school soon, and our future familial and financial needs.  There are no easy answers, and my heart hurts at the thought of the changes that are about to take place in N's life, and in mine.

Every night, after N falls asleep, I spend a little extra time cuddling him, stroking his hair, and enjoying a few precious moments to gaze in wonder at what I have made.  Already so big and strong, he changes rapidly each and every day, and I know soon I will not be around to see all of those changes.  Will I miss his first steps?  His first word?  How many of his smiles will I never see?  How much of his delightful laughter will warm the heart of a day care worker, instead of his mama, who so desperately needs that warmth?  I find myself mourning for the missed moments before they have even occurred.

Tomorrow, I think I will leave my laptop closed.  The books and magazines I read in bits and snatches throughout the day will stay in their stack.  Tomorrow I think I'll take N for a drive, find a nice park, and introduce him to all of the bushes and trees and birds and squirrels who live there.  I will roll in the snow with him, laugh with him, and leave with as many photos and wonderful memories as I can.  The time really does go by like a blur, they really do grow faster than I ever imagined, and each moment should be treated like the precious gem that it is.  By the time he's grown, I want to have a fortune in these gems, so I'd better start saving for now for the rainy days ahead.