Saturday, November 28, 2009

The Plague of '09

It all started back in October with an ear infection.

One ear. One child.

From there it has morphed into a full-blown epidemic in our household. You may remember when I first complained (vented?) about the state of our immune system. It had only been going on, then, for about 2 weeks. Two weeks and it seemed like an endless bout with snot, coughs, puke, fevers, antibiotics. There's a reason we are unable to see the future...'cause if I'd known then what was in store for us over the next 8 weeks...well, can you say "defeat"? Bronchitis, stomach viruses, foot-hand-mouth disease, 2 ear infections, a couple of sinus infections, one completely lost voice, and several run-of-the-mill colds...and not just the kids, either. In our household, we share, people. Over the last 8 weeks, we have had no more than 5 days straight during which all of us have been somewhat healthy.

We thought we were done after the last bout.

Apparently, not.

We woke up today to a 104.3 fever on Ben and a little brother who is currently using his nose as a bubble wand for boogers.

We've done it all: throw open the windows, Lysol the entire joint, replace toothbrushes, wash sheets and towels. And don't even get me started on the supplements and home remedies. I've gone from scoffing at every non-doctor piece of advice to trying them all: Overly priced probiotics? Check. Vitamin C powders and pills? Check. Plug-ins with menthol? Baby Vick's rubbed on the soles of their feet? Smelly alcamphor tablets thrown in glasses of water? Check, check, and yes, even that one: check!

I feel like I can't really complain, since it's all been pretty minor in the grand scale of things, but...oh, how frustrating it is to constantly be wiping noses, checking fevers overnight, and cancelling plans (today was THE perfect day for the zoo, dammit!). I mean, seriously...we eat right, exercise, wash our hands, all that good stuff. And I know it's "the season", but 8 weeks? Really? Really?!?!

I've run out of patience, tissues, and ideas. If anyone knows of a good witch doctor, let me know...

Thursday, November 26, 2009

I am thankful for...

1. My yummy, yummy boys (check out the Indian & the Turkey).

2. My hot, hot Hubby.

3. Parents who love and tend to my children so I can not only work, but play.

4. A job that may come with a long list of complaints, but is as secure as it can get...even in these times.

5. My shoe collection.

6. This blog, because it has allowed me to finally WRITE (read: be Me) again.

7. The friends I've found because of this blog (you know who you are, ladies) and the friends I've had all along (you, too, know who you are).

8. The fact that I fit into (almost) all of my "skinny clothes" again.

9. A totally healthy family sitting down for Thanksgiving dinner tonight...because without that, none of the above would matter (not even the Jimmy Choos).

Monday, November 23, 2009

I think I know that couple...

I'm a little obsessed with Hubby. It's true. I am head over heels crazy in love with the guy I married. It could almost be labeled as unhealthy, if it weren't for the fact that it's mutual.

There was a point, a long time ago, when we were dating, that we both knew very clearly that this was It. But because of timing, family issues, and a whole lot of other drama, it wasn't yet the right time for us to get married.
Back in those days, I remember there were Moments...moments when everything would be just right. Moments when we'd be completely connected, completely immersed in those feelings, in each other, in Us, and I'd feel this urge...this need...this desire to run away with him. To say to hell with the world, with the rules, with everyone else. Moments when I knew nothing else mattered but each other, and all I wanted was to be with him.

"Let's get married," I'd always say in those moments. I'd throw my arms around his neck and whisper it in his ear. "Let's get married." This never scared him. He wanted to get married, too. It just wasn't time yet.
It was complicated, then.
On Saturday night, while we were dancing, all huddled up in the dark crowded room, the music thumping in my chest, his body against mine, I felt that again. Except instead of "Let's get married" I said: "Let's run away."

"Let's run away."

Together. Just you and me. Away from the responsibilities, the mortgage, the bills, the kids.
It's complicated, now.

Needless to say, we had a fabulous time on Saturday night. And no, to my friends who assumed I was too hung over to blog yesterday (Who can blame ya? I do have a history...), I was not. I was, however, sleeping. Yes, sleeping...'til 2:00 in the afternoon. That's right, ladies...I did not fall asleep before leaving the house. I did not give up and go home early due to motherly exhaustion. I danced 'til all hours and went to sleep at the time I usually get up. And then...oh, thank God for my mother...I slept in...practically all day. Glory.

It was wonderful to feel that way again...just me and him. Date night. Dressed up. Cocktails. A dark, smoky room. Loud music. Just me and him.

I recognized us.

I remembered who we used to be. It was a relief, almost, to feel that way again. It didn't feel odd to be out that late, dancing, drinking, really living it up...just us. It felt, actually, normal. Familiar.

At one point during the night, I scanned the room and really looked at all the people there. Everyone looked so relaxed, so unfettered. I wondered if anyone else in that room had children at home. Because no one looked like a parent to me. And then I wondered: Did I look like a mom? Did we look like parents? Because right then, I didn't feel like a parent. I just felt like me. Just me, all glammed up, dancing and laughing and drinking, and fantasizing for a bit about leaving it all behind...and running away together. Just like the olden' days.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Partyyyyyyyy! (Or go to sleep early?)

It is 8:27 pm on Saturday night and I just finished a cup of espresso coffee. Not a cup. A mug, really. Yes, a mug of espresso on a Saturday night. I love my caffeine, but I can't have it after 4:00 o'clock max, because I won't sleep. Today, I've had so much caffeine that my heart is literally pounding in my chest right now. For real. I am so hyped up, I can't catch my breath. Why, you might ask?

'Cause I'm going dancing, dammit.

Yes, dancing. 'Til all hours of the a fabulous, swanky club on South Beach owned by Lenny Kravitz. I will be wearing my fabulous new sequined mini and my fabulous platform stilettos and my smoky eyeliner, and I will not, I repeat, not be too tired or too sleepy to go. I will not give up on the whole idea after I shower and just opt to stay home and go to sleep early. I haven't gotten glammed up and gone dancing at a nice place in a loooooong time, so no matter how tired, sleepy, or lazy I feel, I will go dancing tonight. Dammit.

Back in the days (read: no children) we used to go dancing often. We'd throw something on and just hit the town. Now? It's An Evening. So it'd better be good. And honestly, getting ready is half the fun, so what's it take these days? Let me share...

P.S. In case you're wondering why the hell I'm blogging instead of getting ready...Well, you see, if I just sit around and pass the time until "Appropriate Going Out Time In Miami" (no earlier than 11:00, and that's just to ensure you get's not until midnight that it actually gets crowded), then I will surely give up and want to stay in!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I am mother. Hear me growl.

I have a friend who has always referred to Hubby and me as her "Cubs." She says she is like the Mama Tiger and when someone messes with us, they mess with her.

"The claws come out," she says.

Now, if you knew this person, you would never even think she had claws, much less be willing to use them on anyone. She is the kindest, most generous and decent human being to walk this earth. In fact, many refer to her as an angel...and Hubby and I often joke that we will be riding her coattails into heaven, because if anyone is gonna get in, it's gonna be her.

When she used to talk about these claws, when she'd get really riled up because someone was threatening Hubby's or my happiness, I'd almost laugh. I mean, I loved the loyalty. I was honored that The Most Amazing Human Being On The Planet cared that much for us. And admittedly, I felt a teeny bit safer that this powerhouse of a woman was willing to go to war in defense of either one of us. But "claws"? "My cubs"? I'd laugh. A little bit.

Fast forward to now. I'm a Mommy. And as those of us who are mothers know, there are things in life you just can not fully understand until you become a mother. That metaphor of the tigress and her cubs...oh, how I get it now. There's a violence that can erupt within me when someone endangers my family...or, just makes one of them a little bit sad.

Lately, I have really noticed this instinctive anger kick in. Like this morning, for example...

I was driving to work, both of my little ones safely in the back seat. Ben and I were discussing our Character Breakfast plans for our upcoming trip to Disney. Aidan Kai was playing with his now-empty container of Cheerios (Have you ever noticed how those O's shrivel up and turn into dehydrated lower-case versions of themselves after being tossed all over and therefore left in your car for a few days?!?), and attempting to participate in the conversation with his gurgles and babbles. Out of nowhere, the red car in the next lane decides to change lanes...into mine....and proceeds to do so....right into me.

He barely missed.

I saw him and swerved into the other lane, avoiding what, at 70 miles per hour, would have been a pretty bad accident. After thanking every God out there that there had not been any cars in the lane I had swerved into (this was rush hour Miami morning traffic on the expressway: Someone was looking out for us) recovering from the fright, and answering all of Ben's indignant questions ("Hey, Mama, why'd you turn so fast like that? I almost dropped my milk!"), I looked over at the driver of the red car. He was driving happily along in his (MY) lane, chewing gum. No cell phone. No texting. No eating while driving. There was absolutely no excuse for him completely overlooking the fact that there was a car RIGHT THERE. And no apologetic shrug or hand wave, either. He never even realized he had nearly crashed into us.

I wanted to yell. I wanted to pull him over and bang on his window and scream in his face: "You idiot! You gum-chewing, stupid, clueless idiot! You didn't even see us! You didn't even see us! You didn't even see that there was a car right there that you nearly crashed into that had a backseat filled with two little boys dreaming about Disney World and eating their Cheerios!"

I've had plenty of close encounters with careless drivers. But this was different. It had been close. And we were going fast. And my boys. My boys were there.

And I felt it. The tigress. The claws. The violence.

This friend I had mentioned earlier, my Angel/Tigress Friend, had told me a long time ago, before I had had children, that one of the toughest parts of being a mother is that "your heart is just out there." You want to protect them, to keep them, to guard them. But you can only do so much. And even when they grow up (her daughter is my age now), she said, "Your children continue to be your heart, out there." Helpless. Vulnerable. It doesn't matter how old your children are. The instinct to protect and fight for them is still the same. The pain and helplessness is still the same.

It's a little scary, I think. The moment you realize you can not keep them completely safe...from car accidents, from illnesses, from broken bones and broken hearts.

But there's a certain amount of honor involved in being able to love someone that much.

It is almost sacred.

And so now I truly understand my friend and her tiger claws. I understand how a woman so gentle could get so angry when someone messed with someone she loved. And I realize yet again how blessed I am...not only to be able to have that kind of sacred love for my children, but also to have her in my life, loving and protecting my family almost as much as I do.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Connecting With My True Self...and Others

I used to think blogging was for dorks...narcissistic techies who had way too much time on their hands.

I decided to start a blog because I was desperate to write. I used to write. All the time. But then I had kids. And like so many other parts of my personality, my writing desire was shoved down into the Diaper Genie.

Originally, my only purpose was to write. I needed to have somewhere to document my thoughts, frustrations, musings...mostly on motherhood but also on all things Me. I never thought my blog would start feeling like a little part of me. I never thought I'd be as proud of it as I am. And I absolutely, most definitely, never thought I'd make actual connections with others out there in the blogging world.

I'm not sure what it is. Maybe it's the pseudo-anonymity of the Internet. Maybe it's luck that I've stumbled onto other bloggers with whom I can relate. Maybe it's that the timing is just right: I have "grown up," gotten married, bought a "real" house, had my 2 children, and now I'm back to Me. Re-finding me. Re-evaluating me. Re-creating me. And somehow, through writing this blog and reading others', I've peeled off some of the layers...gotten rid of some of the pretenses. And "met" some really incredible women.

I think this is one of the side-effects of blogging that really amazes some of us. We start interacting through this world and somehow, become friends, confidants, cheerleaders. We make connections with other people in a way that is very different from real life. Here, we decide if we "like" each other based on our experiences, our commonalities, our shared lives and the written word. It is amazingly helpful...a relief, know that you are not the only one thinking some of the same thoughts, going through the same experiences, battling the same demons, revelling in the same joys. I think that's why Sarah and Jen at Momalom decided to start Five for Ten...because really, all we want is to be heard and understood, and in order for that to happen, we must be open to others and connect.

Recently, I was "talking" to Sarah, whose honesty is so raw that it can either frighten or inspire you. We were discussing, via our comments and emails, why it is that we can be so honest and bare on our blogs, but in real the playground, at our kids' schools, at work, even with actual friends...we feel the need to put up facades.

I'm someone who has always prided myself on just putting myself out there: you either like me, or you don't. I usually say what I'm thinking, and I don't like to blend in too much. But...

I've realized over the last year or so, as I've looked around at the people who I've chosen to surround myself with, that I have censored myself with most of them. I feel misunderstood, a lot. I feel alone, a lot. I feel, very often, that I'm a little bit insane in a world that looks down on the the crazy people. And you know what? I've decided I kinda like being a little nuts.

It seems that a lot of people are quick to judge. Quick to criticize. Quick to decide how life should be lived.

I don't want to live like that. I don't want to be with people like that. I want to be out there. I want to make connections with other people. I don't care if they're "like me." I just want them to be whoever and whatever they are and not be afraid of that...and be willing to present themselves to me in that way and then return the favor.

It's not that I've pretended to be something I'm not. It's not that I haven't been Who I Am. It's that I've chosen only select parts of Me to be on display with certain people. My uptight friends? They get Type A Liz. My wild friends? They get Loud Liz. My stuffy friends? They only get Serious Liz. I hold back the sides of me that don't really match with the other person...just in case.

It was during one of those email chats with Sarah, when we were discussing our abilities to be so honest in our blogs that I mentioned: "We put ourselves out there and who ever wants in, joins us, and those who don't, simply don't return."

The more I thought about that, the more I reread that line, the more I realized: I want to live my life like that, too. Unapologetic. So, really, it's up to you. Join me, or just don't return. Either way, it's totally okay.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

You mean it gets worse?!?

It was one of those moments...I had the 25-pounder on my hip, a full blown wrestling match necessary to keep him from sliding down my side again and onto the floor, where he desperately wanted to reach the elevator alarm button.

Errands with a 15-month-old are not easy. No, let me correct that: errands with this 15-month-old are not easy. My first kid? I could go to the mall on Black Friday for 10 hours and he'd sit happily in the stroller the whole time.

Today was the second day in a row when I'd had to spend hours on my own with Aidan Kai while trying to accomplish something. Simple tasks such as buying a loaf of bread or dropping off a pair of glasses for repair become full blown tests of physical endurance and mental strength with this kid.

Yes, he's cute. Reeeeeeal cute. And funny. Reeeeeeal funny. But that baby who wailed the entire first four and a half months of his life? Still there.

So as I was standing there in the elevator, wondering how in the world women who don't work out can physically handle their toddlers when I thought surely I'd end the afternoon with either a broken back or a broken baby, a woman steps into the elevator with her teenage son. She looked serene. Her hair was brushed. She smiled at me. She made cooing sounds at Aidan Kai. That's when she points to her son and says wistfully: "Awwww, it's hard to believe he used to be that little." Another woman who had been standing behind me immediately piped in: "Yeah, they really do grow up so fast."

My response?

"Yeah, I hope so!"

It was my attempt at a bit of humor and a bit of honesty.

These two women with grown children did not think it was so funny. Or true, apparently.

"Oh, no, no, noooooo. Enjoy it. Trust us." They both nodded emphatically, nearly in unison.

At this point, the elevator door opens and as we all step out, the woman with the teenage son slows down enough to let him walk ahead. She turns back to me and conspiratorially whispers (complete with the hand over the mouth for dramatic emphasis): "You know how they say this is the best time?" She pauses and motions to Aidan. "It really is true." With that, she shuffles along to catch up with her son.

And I am left standing there, blinking. Discouraged.

You mean this is IT? This is where it peaks? Then I'm screwed, because most days, I'm not digging this part so much.

Look, I get it. I know I will look back and ooooh and ahhhh and nostalgically remember the days when my boys were babies. I already do that sometimes with Ben. I get that these days really will fly by in the grand scheme of things. I understand that they are only little for a very short time. I do know that. You realize it all the more when you've had one already grow up into a small boy, all scruffy and rough-and-tumble and occasionally stinky. So I do take time to inhale all that baby/Cheerios/milk/drool smell Aidan Kai manages to harbor in his neck and, amazingly, the very tippy top of his head. I do still make sure to take tons of pictures, so I never miss out on any lasting memories with the second child. I do try to keep in mind that this will be The Last Time In My Whole Life that I will see my child learn how to walk and say a new word and discover Mickey Mouse.

But I also think: it's gotta get easier. It's got to. Because, quite frankly, I can't do this much longer.

I often find myself fantasizing--we're talking full out theatrical production complete with narration going on in my head here--about when the boys will be old enough to be self-sufficient. No, I don't mean get jobs and move out. I don't want to fast forward that much. But an independent bath and butt wipe would be lovely. To be able to go to the beach, come home, and call out "Okay, everybody to the shower and then we're getting a pizza and a movie!" To be able to run an errand without lugging a wriggling, borderline-tantrumy sack of potatoes back and forth. To be able to unload a dishwasher without having to use one foot as a mid-air gate to keep the baby from climbing into it.

So, really, how bad do things get after this? Did that woman in the elevator know something I don't? Is this like when parents don't tell people who are thinking about having kids how tough it really is because a) they don't want to frighten them and b) misery loves company?

I've spoken to many women who tell me that they absolutely loooooved the baby stage. Sometimes I wonder if they really did, in fact, love it while they were in it, or, if maybe after the years have passed, they love the memories of it. Maybe once it's all over and you have grown kids running around, with their own set of issues and challenges, you just remember that fat wriggly cooing baby and wish for that simplicity. You block out the sleepless nights, the ear-splitting tantrums in the grocery store, the mashed peas thrown across the room. I read somewhere once that scientists have discovered that the brain tends to forget unpleasant memories. It's like a defense mechanism. I suppose if you couple that scientific logic with the everyday aches and pains of babyhood, it makes sense that we'd remember only the good.

The next time Aidan Kai is screeching, stiff-legged, refusing to sit down in the shopping cart, I will try and remember that woman with the teenager. I will try. And maybe, just maybe, one day I will walk into an elevator and see a struggling mom with her struggling baby and smile knowingly, maybe even long for the smell of Cheerios and drool. But I don't think I will tell her to "enjoy it." Because really, that's kind of unnecessary.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Just Me

I had a mini girls' getaway this weekend. A friend and I drove a few hours out of town to stay over at another friend's house. This is the first time I've done this in...well, I don't know if I've ever done this.

It was startlingly relaxing.

The moment I got in my car on Friday after work and started the drive, I felt liberated. I hadn't expected to. In fact, I thought I would be stressed...both kids were still kinda sick and it had been a busy, hectic week. I was struck immediately with the realization: I had no responsibilities. None. The only thing required of me for the next 24 hours was to sit and chat and drink wine with two of the most amazing women I know.

A few hours into the trip, I felt incredibly disconnected, but in a good way. Disconnected from the roles I play every single day, by choice. Disconnected from what defines me...from who defines me. I realized I was standing there, just Me. Not Mama. Not Wife. Just Me.

Don't get me wrong: I spend a lot of time away from the kids, but it's usually with Hubby for my Babysitting Nights or, if I'm completely alone, it's for short periods of time with a very specific purpose: running, gym time, errands. This was different. This was more of a hyper-awareness of the lack of their presence. Almost like that panicked feeling you get sometimes when you realize you're missing something: "Where's my purse? My keys? What did I forget?"

I love being alone with Hubby. It is my Most Favorite. It's when I feel most complete, content. I know that's not politically correct in today's Independent Woman World, but it's true. I am comfortable enough within our relationship to be able to say that I am better with him. We are better together. It's not about co-dependence. It's simpler. It's about happiness. I am happiest when we are together, alone, uninterrupted--like the olden' days. But being away this weekend made me realize I almost have never been. It's not that I don't like being alone. It's just that over the last several years, my life has just worked out that way. Time is scarce, so it has to be rationed: Family Time, Hubby Time, Everything Else.

I've been restless lately...going through a new phase, revisiting old dreams, attempting to reinvent myself yet again. All the while, looking for new connections, trying to relate to the people around me, searching for others who might be able to relate to my journey, my wanderings. And I realized this weekend that maybe the Universe has set up my life right now so that I am wandering a bit on my own. Maybe I'm finally supposed to ration out some time Just For Me...not just to go shopping for a while or go on a long run, but to simply exist. To be. Separate from those three men who are most important in my life, the ones who define me. Just Me. Alone. Quiet. Noisy. In my own head.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Cutest One-Year-Old on the Block

Remember recently when I said I often obsessed over ways to "cheat" and get in more posts that did not require too much thought? Well...I couldn't help this one.

I happen to be friends with one of the coolest girls around, and she happens to be a professional photographer. Oh, and she happened to bring her camera to my Aidan Kai's 1st birthday. Considering how many of you guys I now consider "friends," I had to share. Check out my little one. The last shot is my fave.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hangovers and Parenting Don't Mix

Being hungover is bad.

Being hungover while tending to two small children is really, really bad. But as my friend (who is a bit of a smart-ass) likes to say: "You play, you pay."

And oh, did we play...

We played so much, in fact, that this morning while everyone was enjoying a greasy diner breakfast on South Beach, I was lying down in the booth, asleep.

Now, I know it sounds like I overdid it last night. But I didn't. Really. It's true. Ask around. Even my friends and husband (who are always brutally honest) said they were surprised by how bad I felt today. In fact, my drink of choice (white wine as opposed to the oh-so-much-more-appropriate-at-a-club Grey Goose) was selected simply based on its non-hangover effects.

But after I had to run to the bathroom to puke my life away the moment I got home today instead of greeting my children (who, by the way, did not seem in the least bit slighted as they continued to run around with their visiting cousins), I had to admit I was hungover...bad.

After much pondering, I came to the realization: it is not just hangovers and parenting that don't mix. It's partying and parenting.

You go into the party situation with a low immune system. You're tired. You're sleep-deprived. You're chronically stressed. The sad, sad truth is I just can't hang like I used to.

It is rare that I am able to stay up past 9:30 most nights. Last night? We left the house at 9:30, and then we still had to check into a hotel, get dressed up, and go to the club. (I admit, when we walked into the hotel room, a part of me wished we were just sleeping all night.) This was all after a day of activities: soccer game at 8:30 sharp, breakfast out with the whole family, jack-o-lantern carving, and a round of trick-or-treating...

Not to mention that this was also after a week of 2 more pediatrician visits and 2 sleepless nights filled with fever checks, coughing fits, and nebulizer treatments. (Yes people, my recent laundry list of household ailments has grown longer.) Add to this one nearly empty stomach, and it explains how a few glasses of wine and a few hours of dancing did me in.

So you see, it wasn't the alcohol that gave me the hangover.
It was the parenting.