Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dear Fat Pants,

Thank you for serving me so well. You have been reliable, trustworthy, comfortable, and--depending on what I paired you with--almost fashionable. We have been through a lot together: You were there for me during two first-trimesters, when the nausea and early bloating threatened to take over my life and general opinion on pregnancy. Even when I didn't button you, and hid you beneath too-long shirts, and pinned you with rubber bands and belts and maternity bands, you never complained. You waited patiently while I upgraded (or downgraded?) to full-blown maternity pants, and when I came back to you postpartum (both times)--ecstatically, joyously, thrillingly--I even started thinking of you for a short time as my Someday-to-Be-Skinny-Again Pants. But it was inevitable...a few weeks later, the dew was off the rose. You were back to being my Fat Pants. No matter how hard you try, you can't change what you are. You're just too much for me.

And this past weekend, I knew it was time. Some of your chic-er and more upscale cousins started to call to me...beckon to me...seduce me. "Give us a try," they said, alluringly. At first, I was afraid. Afraid of rejection. Afraid that, in spite of the hours spent at the gym and calculating Weight Watcher points, I would still not be worthy of the single digits. But I was. Oh, I was. And I'm sorry, Fat Pants, but now that I have gone back, remembered what it feels like to be accepted by The Elite, I just can't be with you anymore. You understand...I can't settle. And that is what I'd be doing with you. I mean, sure, I look fine when I'm with you. But that's not enough for me. I want more. So it is time to say good-bye. I know you will find someone else, someone who will appreciate you, be thankful for you, wear you with pride. I will never forget you.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I think I have lost my mind...and 20 bucks

I am craving chocolate all day. I want it. Bad. I spend the morning debating: Is it worth the 6 Weight Watcher points I will use up on a 3 Musketeers bar? What if I chew some gum? What if I have some more water? In the end, the craving wins. I go to the grocery store on my lunch break, buy my chocolate bar along with a couple of other things, request 20 bucks cash back, take my bags, receipt, and...leave my $20 sitting in the dispenser of the self check-out register. After thoroughly savoring every point of my 3 Musketeers, I happily walk into my office, look for the twenty I was going to use to pay a colleague for something, and realize I forgot to take the cash. I break into a sprint (as if this is going to help) back to the parking lot, and break my shoe. Literally. The whole strap comes off. Now I am hobbling into the grocery store, asking for a manager, flailing my receipt around, swearing off chocolate forever (or at least 3 Musketeers bars). The very patient manager, who takes me into the camera room, plays back all 18 minutes worth of the security video, during which I watch a little old lady use the same self check-out register, insert her cash, and retrieve her change from the dispenser...along with a $20 bonus. I wanted to break into tears.

I call my husband and rant like a lunatic about my chocolate weakness, broken shoe, and forgotten $20, and his response? "Ok. So? It's $20. It happens to everyone. Forget it. Don't turn this into a Thing, Liz. Don't make it more than it is."


That never occurred to me.

Don't make it a thing? But isn't it a thing? I mean, I forgot to take my $20. And last week at work, I scanned an entire section of library books without actually putting them into the database. And let us not forget the forgotten Mother's Day Luncheon...

Ok, so I forgot $20. No big deal. But it kinda is. For me. Lately, I am constantly not paying attention. I am forgetting things. I am dropping the ball. I am living up to my hair color's reputation. I realize that maybe hubby's right: maybe I shouldn't make everything A Thing. Maybe if I could learn to live like that, in a constant state of alert relaxation, then I wouldn't be so forgetful in the first place. But...the point is, I'm not living like that. I don't know how. And even if I did, these patterns I'm "developing" are just not working for me. Although it may not be a big deal to forget things here and there, and although it's so common that people assign it cute little labels like "Mommy Brain," I can't just shrug it off. I have to find a way to Be In The Present. To actually pay attention to how it feels to exist in one singular moment. And I'm not even talking yogic New Age existential stuff (although that would be lovely). I'm talking, quite simply, of being aware enough of the moment I'm living in so that I'm actually just paying frickin' attention. Because a) I don't like forgetting stuff, especially cash and my children's events; and b) what if the Universe is trying to tell me something? What if the next time the thing I'm supposed to be paying attention to really is a big thing?

Years ago, I went to a seminar given by Oprah Winfrey (yes, the real one), and one of the things she talked about was just that: signs from the Universe. Of course she was incredibly more poetic and profound than I, but basically she said that the Universe sends you messages. These messages start out as little whispers. You really have to be paying attention. If you're not, they get louder and louder and eventually the Universe will peg you on the forehead with a big ol' metaphorical rock. So I'm gonna start trying. I'm gonna focus. I'm gonna try and shut my mind off for a little bit here and there (or at least turn the volume down). I am going to pay attention. Because I'm thinking a broken shoe and a lost 20 dollar bill is better than a concussion.

Friday, May 22, 2009


Friday nights used to mean happy hour...or napping and then going out clubbing...or on a quiet night: take-out pizza, beers, and a rental movie.


It is exactly 8:34 p.m. and I am too tired to watch either of the movies we rented. After this post, and my hot vanilla milk (yes, I swear, it's's from Starbucks...does that make me any less nerdy and geriatric-like?), I am going to bed.

And instead of happy hour there was a 15-minute trip to the public library so Ben could check out some new books. And instead of take-out pizza and beer, there was frozen Kashi pizza, ice water, and Tylenol.

Oh...yes. And after I ran out to the liquor store (more on that later), I returned to find my ever-optimistic husband changing crib sheets, Lysol-ing, and chuckling while a re-bathed (and quite giggly) Aidan Kai crawled around on the floor of his room.
He had been sleeping when I left, but apparently he was also coughing...and those of you who have been following this blog and/or my family, know that he's a vomiter and yes, he struck again. That's our baby: cough, cough, gag, vomit. Everywhere. I just stood there, slightly horrified, glad I was the one who had volunteered to go buy the Bacardi, while hubby? He just laughed...and commented on how happy HE was that I had been the one to go buy the Bacardi, because I would've had a nervous breakdown (his words, not mine).

I have to laugh at our lives. We're not even sure how we got here. How did we go from people who were pretty cool, fun-loving, spontaneous, always on the move, to people who are too tired to sit on a couch and watch a movie (not even a deep one, mind's not like we rented "Schindler's List" here, people) and sip warm milk on Friday nights? Oh yes. We had kids. Right.

So...the rum run? Thankfully, I have a mother who still fully believes that we should try and hold on to that part of us we used to be...a mother who, at 68 years old, excitedly buys herself new earrings and shoes to wear to go out dancing--yes, DANCING--with my soon-to-be-70-year-old dad who she's been married to for over 45 years. And so tomorrow, gloriously, blessedly, thankfully, joyously we will have A Babysitting Day thanks to my dear mom...our first time alone in a couple of months...and we will sit on the beach and drink rum. And I'd like to think that at least for a few hours tomorrow, we can feel like our Old Selves again...just Liz and Pablo, The Couple...instead of Mama and Dada.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

When I'm awake, I fantasize about sleeping

Saturday evening/Sunday morning
10:45 p.m. Check on Ben's fever
1:30 a.m. Check on Ben's fever, 103.9, administer Motrin
2:15 a.m. "Maaaaaamaaaa!" Check on Ben, provide water, check temperature, take to potty
2:45 a.m. "Maaaaaamaaaa!" Check on Ben, adjust sheets, provide additional water
5:25 a.m. "Waaaahhhhh!" Prepare a bottle, feed Aidan, check on Ben
6:15 a.m. "Maaaaaamaaaa!" Check on Ben, give up, go make coffee

I am not a morning person. Remember? But when I have nights like the one described above (and Sunday night was not much better), I am not a Morning/Noon/Night Person either. I like to sleep. A lot. Always have. And soooo many of my helpful friends would tell me, "Oh, get your sleep now, because once you have kids you'll never sleep again." (That is always such an encouraging thing to say to a pregnant woman, by the way.) If it actually worked that way, if we could rack up sleeping hours the way we do frequent flyer miles, I'd be set. 'Cause I used to sleep. A lot. But then I had kids. And it seems I suffer way more than hubby does. (It seems I suffer more than hubby about a lot of things, damn it. Where does one buy one of these eternally optimistic dispositions and endless Box-O-Energy anyway?) He keeps insisting that I just have to find some way to come to terms with the fact that I am, for a while anyway, going to be chronically sleep-deprived. Because even when your kids sleep through the night, they never sleep through the night every night and no matter how many black-out curtains you buy or how late you make their bedtimes, they are always up at the crack of frickin' dawn.

Oh, how I miss my Saturday mornings and how they would turn into Saturday afternoons while I would lay in bed, only half awake, running through the list of neighborhood restaurants that still served breakfast passed noon...
The nights of staying up till all hours, watching a movie or dancing or doing something even better, and not caring how late it was, because after all, I did not have a "morning curfew"...

When you have children, you gain so much, but you lose a lot too...sleep being at the top of my official Things I Miss Most From My Pre-Parenting Days list. It has gotten to the point where I actually fantasize about sleeping...the kinds of fantasies usually reserved for topics like Hawaiian vacations, calorie-laden desserts, the shoe department of Nordstrom, and encounters of the passionate, heavy-breathing kind. You know that sleepy trance-like feeling you get when you're watching TV or reading a book and you start to doze in and out and your eyes are shutting of their own accord and you try to fight that urge and shake yourself awake? Well, lately, when that happens, (and I am not driving or feeding/bathing/holding a small child) I succumb. I do. No matter what I'm watching or what time it is or how badly I want to finish the movie or read the next chapter or whatever, I just give in. Usually this occurs around 9:00 p.m. on a weeknight, when I'm supposedly beginning the portion of the evening that is labeled as "Grown Up Time." And that moment right before I put my book down or give up on the TV and close my eyes...sadly, pathetically...has become my greatest indulgence these days. Yup. Knowing that I am about to fall asleep has become my favorite thing to do. I know. I'm a wild and crazy girl. Woo Hoo. Now please turn off the light.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I got an award? For real? Cool.

I am pretty happy when someone who knows me and loves me comments on my blog. I am ecstatic when someone who doesn't know me and doesn't love me (yet) finds me out there in the blogosphere and comments on my blog. So you can only imagine what I was like when I found out that one of those fellow bloggers actually granted me an award! Apparently, I rock. At least just a little teeny bit.

Thank you so much, Sarah at for granting me with One Lovely Blog Award! I'm pretty new around here, and I'm learning as I go...but apparently part of the deal is I pass this award on to other bloggers I deem worthy (ooooooh, the power...!). So go on and check out the following mommy blogs...
Chicky Chicky Baby

Keep reading and I'll keep writing!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Mother Of The Year...Not

See my crown? It was made out of pipe cleaners, green tulle, and plastic beads. Ben made it in school for Mother's Day. Not so sure I deserved it.... In fact, at one point last week, I was sure all of my Mother's Day gifts were going to be returned.

In a single 24-hour period I managed to miss Ben's Mother's Day luncheon at school AND drop Aidan Kai on his head. Yup. Mother of the Year. Let me explain...

I dropped Ben off at school on Thursday morning and read a sign on the classroom door that said that the kids would be making lunch for their moms, and any moms who could not attend at 11:30 were to pick up their packed lunches from the school frig at the end of the day. Obviously, I read this and understood it. I am repeating it here. I also repeated it to my husband at work later that day. So why...can someone please tell me...did I not actually, apparently, process this information enough to actually attend the luncheon?!? I did not miss the luncheon because I could not get out of work. I did not miss the luncheon because I did not know about it. I missed the luncheon because my head is always so damn filled up with to-do's, responsibilities, stuff, dreams, fantasies about sleeping, Weight Watcher points, and general miscellaneous noise, that I knew the information and yet did not know the information.

My husband just stared at me blankly, a puzzled look on his face, and asked, "If it was today, why didn't you go?" I could have gone. In fact, it was one of those days at work that would've been perfect for me to have taken my lunch at that time. I just stared at him, and as the realization set in, the tears immediately started. I missed my son's first school Mother's Day luncheon! I missed it! For no reason! What if I was the only mother not there? What if my little boy was the only one sitting at the table without his mommy? What the hell is wrong with me? You have to understand; this is so not like me. I am one of those people who writes everything down: I have a planner and I actually carry it around and use it; I keep post-its around to remind me of upcoming events and errands. I am organized! Reliable! Responsible! I am anally retentive, damn it! Anally retentive mothers do not miss Mother's Day events!

But I did.

And I was absolutely devastated. It did not matter that, when he got home from school and handed me my packed lunch (a sandwich with mustard, cheese, turkey, carrots, lettuce, and peanut butter) and my crown, he did not mention any special school activity. It did not matter that, apparently, most of the other moms did not attend either. It did not matter that he did not even notice I was missing. Because I missed it. I missed an opportunity--the first opportunity--to sit with my son at his itty-bitty little pre-k table and make lunch together and share pretzels and juice and see him in his school setting with his friends and his teacher. I was heartbroken. Even, if he did not notice a thing. So heartbroken, in fact, that I spent half of my day crying (not teary...we're talking bawling) and the other half trying to make up for it by eating the aforementioned sandwich, roughhousing and wrestling with him all afternoon (not usually my choice of play), and letting him watch TV during dinner. I think the hardest part for me is that it was solely and completely my fault, and I missed it for absolutely no good reason other than I was not paying attention.

I dropped the ball.

And a mere 12 hours later, I dropped the baby. Yep. Again, because I was not paying attention.

I was trying to take Aidan Kai's "Today-I'm-9-months-old" picture, but he kept throwing himself forward on the sofa in an attempt to crawl. So, brilliant mother that I am these days...I think: "I know! I'll give him a toy so he is entertained and sits still for my very important picture!" Except I totally miss the obvious: if I need to give him a toy so he stops trying to lunge himself off the sofa, why would I think that he would stop doing exactly that while I get him a toy? The second I turn away, I hear a loud "Thump" and turn to see an empty sofa. In that millisecond, I actually think to myself "Please, oh please, tell me he did not fall off the sofa." But where the hell did I think he could have gone?!? Poor thing had tossed himself headfirst between the coffee table and sofa and was lying there, face up, with a look of complete shock and terror. I don't know who started crying first: him or me.

"That's it!" I yelled to my husband, as I rocked and swayed and shushed and checked for broken bones, concussions, and blood. "That's it! Return my gifts! Revoke my Mommy Card! I am not worthy!" (I'd like to be able to say that this is just for humor's sake, but no, I really did say all of that. And, I believed it.)

The thing is, I never thought I'd be Soft. I never thought motherhood would turn me into one of those ridiculous, sniveling, pansy saps who is oh-so-heartbroken about "trivial" parenting stuff. Yeah, apparently, when you're a mom, some of it doesn't feel trivial at all, and even those of us who think we're one of the Tough Ones turn into mush when we feel like we've let them down...when we feel like we dropped our guard (and the baby) and didn't quite meet our own self-imposed standards. Fortunately, no one gave my sons (or my husband) a copy of this list of standards, so they all still deem me worthy of being the Queen. And thus, I shall keep my crown.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Even his arrival was dramatic...

It's amazing how you can block something out of your memory.

Earlier this week, while I was at work, a friend was showing me pictures of her sister's new baby. While clicking quickly through the pictures, one face stopped me short. It was a picture of my friend's sister holding her baby, with the hospital nurse standing next to her bed. It was the same nurse who tended to me when I delivered Aidan Kai almost exactly 9 months ago. She practically saved my baby's life and I never even sent her a thank you note.

When Aidan Kai was born, I had a cord prolapse, which is so rare that when doctors and nurses would come see me in the hospital room later they'd greet me excitedly with "Hey! You're the prolapsed cord girl!" Yeah, apparently, if there is less than a 1% chance of it happening, it's gonna be me. I'm the freak of nature. Fabulous. In really simple terms, a cord prolapse is when the umbilical cord manages to get ahead of the baby's head. It is extremely dangerous to the baby, and can result in brain damage or even stillbirth. There was absolutely no way of predicting that this was going to happen. One moment I am lying in my hospital bed, epidural in place, dilating happily, chatting with my hubby and my moment the nurse is literally ON TOP of my bed, her hand holding my baby's head up and away from the cord (yeah, it was as graphic as it sounds), yelling and screaming for doctors and more nurses. It was just like one of the scenes on a medical drama on TV: beeps and alarms and people rushing in from no where, yelling and screaming medical jargon you don't understand. It was, by far, The Scariest Moment Of My Life. I was wheeled to the O.R. for an emergency c-section with the nurse still on my bed, and Aidan was out in less than 7 minutes. I found out later that the nurse did not remove her hand from Aidan's head until the doctor had cut me open, had him safely in her own hands, and told the nurse it was okay to take her hand out. I will never forget the sound of his cry when he was first taken out or the look on my husband's face when we both heard it. "Relief" does not even begin to explain it.

Over the next 24 hours, I told the story a few times, with the few details I understood at that point, and some family members were amazed by how calm I was after such an ordeal. As days went by, however, I learned more about exactly what had happened. I asked the doctors questions, I read a little online, and spoke to some people. By the time Aidan Kai was a week old, I never wanted to think about it again. I had to completely block out the memories of his birth, because once I had had time to settle down, take a breath, and think about what had actually happened--how close we had come to losing him--I literally could not deal with it.

Looking back, I think the experience definitely clouded my first weeks postpartum. I was not only recovering physically from the experience (it was not, in the continuum of c-section experiences on the "easy" side), but emotionally, I was also a wreck. I kept having flashbacks of the sights and sounds of the operating room, the shouts of the doctors, my parents' faces as I was wheeled passed them, and that nurse's face.

When I saw that face in the picture the other day, it brought it all back. And last night, while holding a sleepy Aidan Kai in my arms, tears came. Not so much tears of pain or fear, but of gratitude that this little creature managed to make it into this world, into our lives, not only alive, but KICKIN'...and I can not imagine what our little family would have been without him. And now, that I'm done with this post... that I've allowed myself to think about this and relive this in my head for the first time in 9 months? I'm going to write that nurse a very long thank you note.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Another parental rite of passage

It happened this week for the first time. I knew it would, eventually.

The first School Phone Call.

My heart dropped.

'Cause when you're at work, and your cell phone rings, and it's your kid's school you know they're not calling to tell you how great he is and boy doesn't he add so much sparkle to the program and congratulations on doing such an excellent job raising him. When you see that name on your caller i.d., you know it can only be one of two things: He's either hurt or he's in trouble. Either way, all I immediately wanted to know was: "How bad is it?" Fortunately, it wasn't too bad. He sprained a finger in a fall. A little ice and he recovered. Me, on the other hand...I'm still healing.

There is just something very jarring about the first "your child got hurt" phone call. It is yet another reminder of the fact that we can not protect our children. Oh, we try. Some of us try more than others. But the bottom line is, we can't. I never wanted to be one of those overprotective moms. I grew up in a wonderful but traditional Cuban household, where I was not allowed to ride bike around the neighborhood, attend slumber parties, or play in the front yard. To this day, when my kids are running around, my parents will yell out "Don't run! You'll fall!" To an old Cuban grandparent, a scraped knee is a near tragedy.

No matter how much you resist repeating the patterns of your childhood, you find out that sometimes they are there, underneath it all, hidden in your psyche, and you have to consciously catch yourself if you want to do some things differently. So I work at it. I force myself to be nonchalant as often as humanly possible for me. And when I start to behave even slightly neurotically, my husband--who gives a whole new definition to the term 'laid-back'--will call me on it...and I am reminded of how difficult it was (and sometimes still is) to be independent and self-confident and daring when you were brought up in a bubble. I so don't want that for my boys.

But when the phone rang and I heard he was hurt...panic threatened. And as relieved as I was that it was really nothing, I know that that was probably the first of many calls. And really, I wonder, would that be a bad thing? Because I kinda figure that the fact that my sister and I never once broke a bone or required a single stitch must mean that we missed out on some "stuff" out there while growing up. And so, everyday, I am torn. I want to keep my boys safe, but I don't want them to grow up sheltered. I want them to run, to fall, to learn, to explore, to be adventurous...all the things I started to do only after I became an adult.

But I still don't want to see "Ben's School" on my caller ID...unless they're gonna tell me how great he is.