Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My Life, In Lists: Please Pardon My Dust

Currently under construction:


1. My body (again): It seems as if my body has been under some sort of renovation project so many times in its lifetime, that it's no wonder parts of me are starting to sag and complain and wither. I mean, really, how many times is one's tummy skin supposed to be expected to actually suck back in to its original smoothness and tautness, between all the preteen-chubby-years, adolescent crash diets, vacation-dieting, holiday weight gain, post-holiday weight loss, pregnancy 1 and 2, and now the official "Approaching-My-Last-Birthday-In-My-30's-And-I'm-Going-To-Paris-Soon-So-I-Wanna-Be-Ultra-Skinny-So-I-Can-Wear-Chic-Black-Cigarette-Pants" era...?


2. My backyard: My parents, who are the most amazing human beings in the world and cutest little old couple EVER, are celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this weekend, complete with a renewal of vows ceremony. Yep. After 50 years, my dad says (and I quote) "if I were to be born all over again and start my life over, I would still pick your mom and marry her and do things just as I did." And my mom, who is still known to giggle and squeal when she gets excited about something, and still matches her lipstick to her outfits, will "walk down the aisle" in what I am sure is her first-ever designer dress, bouquet and all. And so where does my backyard come in? It is the place where all of this is going to happen. After 14 months of planning, Hubby and I are hosting this event on Saturday, and Hubby has literally done minor construction in order to hold up the 1000+ twinkling white lights he strung over the pool and throughout the backyard in honor of the "bride and groom."


3. My family room: Because of #2 (see above), my family room which usually houses 8 large bins filled with toys, a Little Einstein's Art Table, two computer desks and chairs, indoor soccer goals, an art easel, and whatever else happens to end up there, is now being transformed into a party room of sorts: plants, white drapes, a collage of black and white photos of my parents' original wedding, and a cake table. Seems minor, but when you've got that much crap belonging to 2 little boys, it's not.

4. My health: I've had this little stint over the last few months with some random and minor (but highly annoying and disruptive) medical issues. Doctors, unfortunately, sometimes pose as many questions as patients do: "Is it asthma? Is it bronchitis? Is it migraines? Is it GERD?" All of this has--much to many of my friends' and family members' politely restrained amusement--led to a persistent eye twitch. Yes. An eye twitch. For over two months now. So if you see me and think I'm winking at you or doing my best Elvis snarl, just ignore me. Or, point and laugh.

5. My personality: Yes, I have come to the conclusion that for my very own benefit, I am currently desirous of a slight personality makeover. A little therapy perhaps? Some meditation? Pondering dramatically by the seashore? Cocktails with friends? High quality conversation with Hubby over average-quality wine? Yes, please. All of the above. I need to get a better handle on how I handle everyday stress, everyday life, and live more in the moment. (This item on the list, interestingly enough, is kinda like #1...When it comes to my ass or my attitude, I think there is always room for improvement.)


6. This blog: Well, I don't know if I can honestly drape this place with the "Caution: Construction Zone" tape, since I'm not here enough to actually justify wearing a hard hat. But this little blog, my little blog, is still here...and I'm still here...rebuilding, remodeling, reinventing.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Musings of a Writer: The Chicken or the Egg?

Are writers prone to angst?
Or are angst-ridden people prone to writing?

I wonder, if all those years when I was a little kid, clicking away at my sister's typewriter, scribbling in my pink and purple lock-and-key diaries, filling up pages of notebook paper, it was because, even then, I was driven by the need to vent?

Even at that young age, I thought about Stuff. I worried. I pondered Life.

Much like my oldest, who recently asked if he were to touch his daddy's and my hands when we went to heaven, if maybe, just maybe, we could take him with us, and how he had decided, right then and there, that he would, in fact, touch us, "just in case." All of this...from a 5 year old. The one who Hubby says is the emotional and psychological spitting image of me.

It seems his brain never shuts down.

I can relate.

My mind is never quiet.

And it is usually when I am in A Place...some weird place I can get in...either surrounded by plans or dreams or worries or fears or all of these, that I feel the urgency to write most. Even when I don't write (as has been the case on this blog lately), I am constantly composing in my head. The sentences are formed, the words swirl around, all in an attempt to make sense of it all: whatever is in there, currently, in my head.

Perhaps it is like a defense mechanism: the words are my safety net that catch the thoughts that threaten to drown me. They give me the very false feeling that I am in control. Of something. Of anything. At the very least (or the very most?) of myself.

And so I wonder: is it the writer in me that over thinks everything? Or is the thinker in me that has to write?

Friday, October 7, 2011

To Do: My Life, in Lists

I haven't been around much lately.

Maybe you've noticed.

Or, then again, maybe you haven't since...really, let's be honest...there just isn't much to see around here these days.

It's just that I have all these lists jumbling around in my head lately...all To-Do Lists of some sort: things I have To Do for work, things I have To Do at home, things I have To Do for the kids...and mixed somewhere in there, dizzy amongst all the other demands, is my list of things I want To Do.

Despite how manic I can be, I'm usually pretty good about putting that list at the top. Take right now, for instance: I'm sitting in a kitchen strewn with week-old mail (we get a lot of catalogs...trust me, it's A LOT), the Disney hotel key cards from last week's trip, a month's worth of kindergarten and preschool projects, letters, worksheets, drawings, and notices (which we have surely ignored for way longer than is proper), and countertops crusted with week-old bits and pieces (last night I scraped some honey drops off with my nail...who knew honey got that hard?). But here I am: blogging instead of doing what I "should" be doing. I could rationalize it by saying that every once in a while, you gotta throw out the to-do's and just say "Fuck it" and have a night to yourself, but if I'm gonna be really honest, then I have to admit that I've done that pretty much every night for a week. Monday, it was "Fuck it, I have a fever, I don't care if the kitchen is a mess." Tuesday it was "Fuck it, I feel like shit but at least I don't have a fever anymore, so I don't care if the kitchen is still a mess." Wednesday it was "Fuck it, I finally feel like myself, so I am going to spend time with the kids, and I don't care if the kitchen is a mess." Thursday it was "Fuck it, I meant to get to it today, but I'll deal with the kitchen tomorrow." And today, well, today it's "Fuck it, I'm drinking wine and it's Friday, so just fuck it in general."

But in spite of the fact that I usually do carve time out of life's chaos To Do the stuff I really want to, sometimes blogging falls by the wayside. And I find that, for some reason, lately I have been thinking in "list-form" a lot. So after toying with the idea for a couple of months, I've decided that every once in a while (or whenever I damn well please), I will have a List Post. 'Cause truth be told, my brain never shuts down and I very often have something I want to say, but usually I just don't have the time (or energy, mainly) to sit down and put together a cohesive, poignant, perhaps funny, usually sarcastic post on the matter. So, I present you with the first of my new series: "My Life, in Lists."

List of things I can never say NO to:

1. A rockin' stiletto on sale (even though I have more than my social life will really ever require)
2. My kids asking for "one more chapter" or "one more book" or anything reading-related
3. An offer from my mother to watch the kids overnight
4. A gorgeous day at the beach
5. A night out with The Girls (or day out, or lunch, or any gathering, really, in which I may feel like I will miss out)
6. The snooze button
7. Red velvet anything
8. A foot rub
9. Good salsa
10. A really good book
11. Date night (even if it's just at home after the kids are asleep) with Hubby
12. Trashy celebrity magazines
13. Cadbury Mini Eggs (unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on the current number on the scale, they only sell them at Easter time)
14. Watching anything with Drew Barrymore or Sarah Jessica Parker in it
15. Another glass of wine

Cheers!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Cutting off the negative energy

They say that when it comes to hair, there are two kinds of women: the ones who see their hair as an accessory and change it on a whim, knowing it's "just hair," and the ones who see their hair as part of their persona, their signature, their "thing."

I am definitely the latter.

I have worn my hair pretty much the exact same way for about 10 years (well, there was that crazy experimental phase in which I threw in some longish bangs, but I was hormonal and pregnant so really, I wasn't myself). I can recite an endless list of things I would gladly change about my physical appearance, but my hair has been my ever-loyal sidekick. Other than an unhealthy obsession with Elnett Hairspray (trust me: it will change your life), my hair was pretty much wash and go. It was like if God said: "Okay, I'll make you a deal. I'll give you hips that will drive you mad your whole life, thighs that will never be slim no matter how many squats you do, and your mother's lack of skin elasticity, but I'm gonna give you This Hair." With little to no effort, I could wear it up in a sleek ponytail or knotted in a messy bun. I could wear it tame and soft with Kate Hudson-like beach waves, or big and intimidating with Shakira-like attitude.

But, like any other kind of relationship, if you don't tend to it, if you are careless and negligent, if you abuse it, even the most loyal of partners will begin to show wear and tear.

It was time.

My once golden locks had turned brassy and cheap-looking, like I'd been using Sun-in rather than a spectacular colorist who flies to New York on occasion to work Fashion Week. And the last several inches had dried out into a brittle handful of straw. My look had become more singe than signature.

Once I had committed to the idea (and printed several pics of a tousled Alexa Chung), I became completely and utterly excited by the idea. A new look. Chopping it all off. Going from an all one length mane of hair to a messy uneven short cut. I realized that I was desperately in need of a change. Over the last few months, I'd had a string of bad luck; nothing serious but enough little issues to have made me stressed and frustrated and a little depressed: sinus infections, bronchitis, adult-onset asthma, a minor neck injury, some "female" drama....the list went on, and had gotten chronic enough that some people were asking me if I'd consider seeing some kind of witch doctor or mojo-cleanser to un-jinx myself. (It's amazing how, regardless of the culture and religion, every group has some sort of voodoo/luck/energist/superstition type of thing.) And, I admit, I did start pondering....after all, what could it hurt to wear a special little black bead to ward off the evil eye, or bathe in a little milk and honey cleansing bath....?

Many of these little roadblocks had kept me from working out, and so, between the doctor's orders and summer being summer (hello, wine and beer!), I had also put on some weight. When you mix all of this stuff with a person who already has a propensity for mood swings, and throw in some hay for hair, you get a very unhappy and unpleasant Liz (and Liz's Hubby, I'm sure).

So when my friend suggested that I envision my hair cut as an exorcism of sorts, I was more than game. As I felt the cold steel of the scissors brushing against the back of my neck when she made the first snips, I envisioned all The Bad Stuff going with it. There, on her linoleum floor, mixed with the mounds of my hair, sat all my bad luck, all my days of feeling less than stellar, my chronic cough, my supposed asthma, my fourth (yes, fourth!) corneal abrasion. "Fuck you bitches...I got me a new hair cut!"

All three of my men loved it, too. Ben had initially wailed that morning when I told him I was cutting my hair: "But Maaaammmmmaaaa, whyyyyyy? I loooove your hair looonnnnngg!" But when I got home, he did a double take and smiled: "Wow, Mama, you look so pretty." Even little Aidan had something to say: "Mama, I like your hair like dat!" And Hubby, absolutely loves it. "I love that you look different, and I love how you feel with this new look."

Hair.
It's "just hair."
Funny thing, though...for some of us, it's not. It's a piece of our Selves.
I can't hide beneath my mane anymore. I feel purged. I feel lighter and excited, and the weirdest thing is that although I look totally different, I am feeling a little more like Myself than I have in a long time.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Exchange: Six Word Fridays




we had always had a plan



so sure of what we wanted

to live life, together, out loud

be as free as commitment allowed

untethered to the things Everyone Else

used to measure their grand arrival

at the finish line of life



keep it small and live simply

so we could live Life large

travel, dance, laugh, sleep at night

without the stresses Everyone Else chose:

a lawn man, the corner lot



we planned life with bare feet

spontaneity, experiences, whimsy, free of cares

we were so sure back then


until something shifted, wishes got swapped

and we suddenly found ourselves dreaming

of a grown up life, settled

a home that was spacious enough

to welcome Just One More baby

(and a lawn man to cut

the grass on the corner lot)



we swapped one dream for another

found ourselves with a new life

new joys, different desires, wishes granted

but with it all sometimes comes

the subtle, quiet unease of wonder:

was this the life we intended

one we will look back on

with satisfaction of a life fulfilled

or a life exchanged for one

that is just like Everyone Else's?


Join Six Word Fridays at Melissa Camara's Wilkin's blog!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The First Day

I was not prepared.

I bought all of the supplies.

Attended the meet-and-greet.

Packed their backpacks.

Reviewed shoe-tying.

Charged the camera battery.

Woke up extra early.


But I was not prepared.


On that first day

when I had done it all

checked it all off the lists

made sure we were all ready

I was not prepared.



I was not prepared for the pain

of the realization

that I was leaving my littlest one

alone

for the first time

ever

in a school

without his brother.



I was not prepared for the onslaught

of memories brought upon

by a moment captured on film:

a big brother helping a little brother

find his cubby

tuck his lunchbox

begin his day

exactly as he, himself, had done once

on his first day at the same little school.



With it came the sudden awareness

of the passing of time

the acknowledgement, for the first time,

that it is true

what they say:

they grow up too fast.



I was not prepared for the look of panic

fleeting and barely noticeable

but definitely there

in that second

just as we left.



I was not prepared for the sobs that choked me

shocked me

the whole way from one school to the next

where it started all over:

more shock, more tears

all my own.



I was not prepared for the swell of pride

unexplainable, almost.



After all, I had never been one of Those Mothers

and really, it was "just kindergarten"

and certainly, yes, a day of note, but of pride?


Pride.



Absolute.

Overwhelming.

Smothering.


I was not prepared for this feeling

that I was a mother

more than ever before

in that insignificant moment:


a nametag found and pinned

a bookbag draped over a chair

a boy

my boy

sitting

finding his seat

in kindergarten.





Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer makes me lazy...and happy

Summer days have made me too lazy to think...much less write. So...here's more of our summer in pictures (notice the definite improvement over frig cleaning...).

Nothing better than...

...waking up at 8 or 9 in the morning and lazily watching Le Tour de France, coffee mug in hand.





...spending the whoooooole day on the beach, paddleboarding on the quiet clear water, and watching my kids be brave enough to ride with me for the first time.





...making childhood memories and lifelong friends.



...having the only two-year-old who can ride his bike with no training wheels but can't poop in the potty!




...watching my kids walk around the house stuffing their new backpacks and lunchboxes with "school supplies" and random items and being sooooooo excited (especially about kindergarten!).



...my little kindergartner proudly knowing 20 sight words and learning how to tie his shoes!




...at the end of day, walking into the room to find The Love Of My Life reading Max and Ruby to two little boys with sunkissed highlights who are so immersed in the story that they don't even notice I walked in.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

My Summer (so far) In Pictures

So it's been two full weeks of summer vacation so far, and here's what we have to show for it...



A weekend getaway to the west coast with the entire family:



Ben described it as "the most awesome vacation ever," so definitely a success.










It amazes me that with a house full of toys (most of which seem to have ended up on our living room floor), the boys are always wandering aimlessly about, trailing us like shadows, insisting they have nothing to do. I have nearly given up on cleaning up, since inevitably, everything ends up out the next day anyways.


Last summer, we spent most of our days at the beach and at the water park, but this summer we've had to deal with Potty Training Boot Camp (which has taken way longer than we had expected), so I've had to find ways to make me feel better about being trapped in the house:



I am embarrassed to admit that I almost enjoyed scrubbing and organizing my frig and freezer for the first time ever. (I'm also a little embarrassed to admit it was my first time ever). Who knew the drawers were supposed to be totally see-through?!?



And when I was done with the frig, I started to tackle The Major Summer Project: photo organizing. I finally finished Aidan Kai's first year album, so now I'm only 2 years behind...




And of course, what would a photo recap be of the last two weeks without...





When Aidan didn't quite make it to the bathroom, and the stickers didn't quite make it onto the chart, we had to turn to:



And as a result, at the end of each day, I've had to turn to...



We have managed to squeeze in some late afternoons of pool play and the occasional barbecue...


And even on the bad days, when I've wanted to go out all day long and instead have spent it scrubbing the carpets, running the washing machine, all while still trying to be uber-positive and cheerful with our pee-boy-in-training, I still remind myself that a summer day at home is still better than a good day at work!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Potty Training Boot Camp (or: And So I Turn To The Merlot...)



Potty training stinks.

There is no faster way to suck the joy of summer right out of you like dirty superhero underwear.


Hubby, the boys, and I were all officially "off" for summer as of Friday morning. By Sunday afternoon, we were officially "on" for Boot Camp. We had done it with Ben when he was this age, and after only a few days, he had caught on. We figured, after months of plateauing on the potty, it was time for Aidan too. We know the boot camp method is a controversial one. We know it doesn't support the whole "the child needs to be ready" philosophy. But I sorta know my kids, and sometimes you have to push them a little (shove, really) or they might end up in college with Depends. They are both just the kinds of kids who would rather be playing with Hot Wheels or watching another episode of "Sponge Bob" rather than be receiving stickers and accolades for their bowel movements. My boys, it seems, can not always be bothered.

So, we figured we would jump in head (butt?) first, and do the intense potty training immediately. We had a window of time before the grandparents would be babysitting, and we knew it was now or never. After a visit to Target for Thomas and Marvel underoos in a 3T, we literally waved goodbye to all the diapers and Aidan proudly dumped them into the garbage (and then we promptly pulled them right back out and hid them...just in case...and mainly to be renamed as "nighttime big boy pull-ups"). Before the first 10-minute timer had beeped, in the midst of, apparently, a very intense game of Hot Wheels Monster Truck, I noticed a smell. "Aidan, do you have to go potty?" I asked, my voice pitched a bit too high already. Sure enough, I was initiated into the first hour of Boot Camp 2.0 with poop smushed right into Spiderman's face, and then, thanks to much wiggling, rolling out onto the bathroom tile, rug, and, just for good measure, smeared onto the Elmo Potty Seat.


The last 4 days have been filled with urine puddles and droplets, endless loads of laundry, cheers and stickers, timed potty runs (he's like Pavlov's dog when he hears the bell), and powdered laxative. Oh yes, our little champ decided he was not going to poop. At all.


Combine all of this with the stress of packing for a vacation and the number of children in the house doubling to 4 because of cousin sleepovers and two adults who need to get out of the house every day or else...well, summer ain't fun yet.


P.S. About an hour after posting my above entry, the following occurred:

~Aidan had a stomach ache and a fit and refused to go potty.

~While said stomach ache and fit were occurring, I tried to happily and cheerily encourage (read: force while still smiling) him to sit on the potty. This resulted in no bowel movement, but a sudden and unexpected stream of pee shooting out of him and onto me, my pink fuzzy slippers, the newly-washed bathroom rug, my newly-bathed, shaved, and moisturized leg, and the Eric Carle board book I was attempting to use as entertainment while he supposedly sat.

~Ben became The Obnoxious Version of Himself which sometimes makes an appearance and has been spending way too much time around here since school ended, and messed up any joy possible while preparing Father's Day gifts and cards (surely, a blog post to follow on this one).

~I drank waaaaaaay too much Merlot on an empty stomach, making me waaaaaay happier than when I started this post and making the title waaaaaaay more appropriate than I even thought possible when I wrote it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To my preschool graduate



Dear Ben,

Tonight you graduated from your little school. The first school you ever attended. The first place I ever "left you" to be with others, to be on your own, to start your own little life. You were 3 then, just turned, when you learned what a "cubby" was and which one would be yours. I remember being so worried, on that first day, and then you walked right over and, without hesitation, pushed your little soccer-themed lunch box into that little square, right where the teacher had shown you just a couple of days before when you had met her.

After the first couple of days you had a little setback. The teachers said it was normal. They said most kids reacted like that after the novelty of the first day wore off. But when I left you, each morning, for a handful of mornings, and you cried...no, you sobbed...and clung to me, your little fingers clenched into my shoulders, I cried too--probably more than you did.

Your first year, you took to napping on the little cot faster than I ever believed you would. The teacher said she loved watching you, because you slept like a baby: your arms and hands tucked neatly beneath your body, your knees scrunched up into your belly, your little tush in the air. When she told me, I had to laugh...that was how you always slept as a baby. And even now, on rare mornings when you are really sound asleep, I enter your room to find you still sleeping like that, in your infant position. You were "a leader," your first teacher said. She said all the kids liked you. You were bright and funny and loud.

And then your next year, you got a little too bright and too funny and too loud. It was a tough year for us, because we started to see glimpses: maybe you were not going to be the perfect student Mommy and Daddy had envisioned. Maybe, instead, you were going to be like Mommy and Daddy: questioning, opinionated, easily excited, and loving the attention. That was the year you forged your first tight friendship with another boy, your buddy who became infamous around these parts, your nearly-literal partner in crime. You will probably graduate from college, and we will still remember the name "CJ." Just in case, we took video of him tonight, at the graduation ceremony, and oddly enough, I looked at CJ with tenderness: this was the my son's first best friend.

This year, you went on to the "Big Kid Class." You had homework. You had strict teachers. You had yellow cards. Oh, yes, your VPK year nearly turned into "The Year of the Yellow Card." I am embarrassed to admit that the mood of our home became nearly completely dependent upon the color card you received in school each day. Somewhere along the line, after many conversations between your daddy and myself, great advice from your teacher, and many lost nights of sleep (mine, primarily...you know your dad never stresses), we sorta figured you out and learned how to encourage you while still disciplining you. And either it all worked, or you just matured a little, because green cards became the norm and yellow ones rarely appeared anymore. You went on to learn all of your letters and numbers and how to spell your whole name. You learned 24 of the 26 phonetic sounds. You came home talking about constellations. You taught us songs. You proudly displayed your 10 new sight words on your bedroom door.

Tonight, we watched you and all your classmates walk in wearing little red caps and gowns. Your 2011 tassel dangled in your face as you turned around to look back at us and wave one more time before going up on stage. When they called your name and you walked up to your teachers to receive your diploma (a blank rolled up piece of paper that most of you chose to use as telescopes for the remainder of the ceremony), they announced "When Ben grows up, he wants to be a pilot, but he doesn't want to work in the summers." A big, proud grin stretched across your face. You are, it appears, going to be like your mom and dad: you want to have your cake and eat it too.

I cried tonight. I couldn't believe that you were the same little boy we had welcomed into this world only five and a half years ago. I couldn't believe that I hadn't noticed how you had caught up to the rest of the kids, and you were no longer the shortest. I couldn't believe you were going to be a kindergartner. I couldn't believe it was You: the little baby we had wanted so badly, for whom we had waited so long.

Congratulations, Ben. We know it's "just preschool," but we couldn't be prouder. We love you.

Mama and Daddy

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The JOYS of summer: six word friday (saturday?)




Knowing there's only four days left


Until the summer is ours


to play and sleep and lounge
sip from icy cold beer bottles
linger together over fresh morning coffee

to have "babysitting nights" each week
quality time together, just us two
dreaming, conspiring, dancing, laughing, kissing, loving

and family days whenever we wish
quality time together, all of us
playing, growing, dancing, laughing, learning, loving

to wake up and spontaneously pack
a beach bag full of toys
spend a day in the sun
come home without bedtimes and routines

to spend time with my girls
and their babies at the pool
watching our kids becoming real friends

stay up with my favorite person
watching movie rentals or mindless TV
falling asleep, inevitably, on the couch

even getting things done: laundry, errands
without the rush and daily pressures

life's just easier and more joyous
when you can spend your days
doing as you wish without demands
without work hours and lunch boxes
alarm clocks, homework, and gym bags

Joy, right now, means having time
Looking forward to an entire summer

To spend with my (serene) Self
my girlfriends and my loved ones
my two wild, loud, little boys
my favorite person in the universe

Knowing every day I wake up
really, truly belongs solely to me






What does the word "JOY" mean to you? Join Six Word Fridays (although, I know, I am technically doing Six Word SATURDAY this time) at Making Things Up.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mrs. Mama

Today I drove the same exact route I've been driving every weekday for the last 8 years. I parked in the same exact parking lot. I walked into the same exact building. I entered the same exact cafeteria. But today, I wasn't a Teacher. Today, I was there as Mama.

My oldest will be starting kindergarten next year at "Mama and Daddy's school," and I needed to attend an informational meeting. It felt odd to arrive as a mom. It felt decidedly and shockingly different.

Even before we'd had kids, Hubby and I had made the absolute decision that our children would definitely not, under any circumstances, be attending the same school in which one (much less both) of us worked. We wanted our kids to have "their own lives." We wanted them to be their own people...not "Mr. and Mrs. So & So's kids." We wanted them to be independent. We wanted to keep our professional and personal lives distinctly separate. We wanted their teachers to be "just" their teachers, not their pseudo-aunts or "Mommy's friends." We wanted our kid to be "just another kid"...not one of The Teacher Kids.

Then, suddenly, as so often happens in this journey called Parenthood, we realized that maybe it was quite possible that perhaps we were not so sure about all of this after all.

"You want to be a drive-by parent?!?" my amazing-single-mother friend/hairdresser extraordinaire gasped. "Let me get this straight: you're telling me that you could put your kid in your school, you could handpick his teacher from year to year, you could monitor everything everyday, you could be right there in case of an emergency, and you are choosing to send him to his neighborhood school instead, in a school district where you know absolutely no one, where you would have to drop him off to morning daycare and pick him up from after school supervision, where you would be just another parent who, in order to be heard, would have to make an appointment just to get clarification on a homework assignment, and you're gonna choose that? You're just gonna roll the dice? What you're telling me is that you basically have won the lottery and you don't want the money. No thanks, I don't actually want to give my kid any sort of advantage or opportunity. No thanks, I don't want to be involved in the first most important years of his education."

Well.

That wasn't exactly what Hubby and I meant all those years, but when you put it that way...

Fast forward to tonight, when I drove for the first time ever to my job to be Ben's Mama.

One of my worries had always been that I wouldn't feel like a mom taking her kid to school; that, instead, I'd feel like a teacher taking her kid to work. But I didn't. When I looked up at those teachers, I didn't see co-workers. I saw Ben's Teachers. When I walked in, we weren't greeted with cordial stranger hello's. We were greeted with hugs and love and genuine warmth. I felt welcomed. I felt that I would be turning my kid over to people who knew me, who knew us, and who would eventually know him...the good and the bad.

Both Ben and Aidan behaved beautifully throughout the one-hour meeting. They colored and drew and whispered. When Ben asked if he could run around the cafeteria with a buddy after the meeting ended, and I said no and reminded him that "this is going to be your big kid school soon; you have to do the right thing." He nodded emphatically, almost immediately, and smiled: "I know." When I told Hubby how proud I was of their behavior, Ben told Daddy about "the lady who even turned around during the meeting" (another teacher disguised as a mommy for the night) to say that "Wow, they must be really good kids." He, too, seemed to notice something was a little different here...this was no longer the VPK playground where he jumped off chairs and played with grasshoppers: this would be the Real Thing. "Aidan," he explained dramatically to his little brother, "this is Mommy and Daddy's school, but this is where I'm going to be for kindergarten next year."

I don't know if, at some point, we will second-guess our decision. I don't know if, at some point, we will wonder if perhaps rolling the dice would have been a better gamble. But tonight, I know for sure that I was Mama, and not Mrs. So-and So. And I know that my little boy is going to go to Real School really soon.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The cosmetic surgeons hoard all the good magazines

I used to have a very strong opinion on cosmetic surgery (which doesn't really mean anything, I suppose, since I have a very strong opinion on just about everything). This very strong opinion included lots of judgments and assumptions.

Fast forward a few years, two babies, and lots of life experiences.

Let's just say that my opinion is no longer that strong.

Okay, let me come clean: today I had an appointment with a cosmetic surgeon. A "free consultation." Yeah. One of those. Me. Ha. Ain't it funny how life has a way of slappin' you around just for kicks?

No, it wasn't the boobs (we have a very good relationship still).
It wasn't the tummy.
It wasn't for lipo.

It was...ya' ready for this?...the neck. Yep. 38 frickin' years old, always having had body and weight issues, two kids later, and I'm seeking out a free consultation about my frickin' neck. All those years I spent obsessing about all the parts of me that were messed up from the neck down, and it turned out that was the part that's really betrayed me.

The infamous thighs that were pointed out as "fat" in kindergarten by the dirty-blond-haired freckled boy who sat next to me? Nope, those are holdin' out pretty good after a decade of running and weight training. The postpartum belly pooch that was literally torn open in an emergency c-section and sewed back together lopsided? Healed, flattened, and barely noticeable. The hips that were, quite literally, my cross to bear during my teen years and the subject of much discussion in the dressing room during shopping trips with my mother? So over those. It ended up being the skin on my neck that finally broke me.

There I was: sitting in the waiting room of a cosmetic surgeon. Me. The girl who swore she'd never...(insert peals of raucous "I-told-you-so" laughter from all the friends and family who'd heard my soapbox dissertation on plastic surgery many years ago and warned me)! The discomfort was probably palpable. I pretended to be totally okay with this...I filled out the information forms like I visited plastic surgeons all the time. I noticed that every time I opened my mouth to respond to one of the incredibly wrinkle-free and expression-less receptionists, my Thank you's and Yes's all came out high pitched and overly cheerful.

In addition to the senior citizen receptionists with the non-existent crows' feet, I also noticed that the waiting room was unlike any "regular" doctor's waiting room I've ever visited. The lighting was dim. The music was sultry and slow and made me want to have a cocktail on a yacht. The furniture was plush and actually matched. And the magazines...oh the magazines! No wrinkled Parenting, tattered Cosmo, and outdated National Geographic. No, here you could sit back on the high-priced couch and peruse the high fashion pages of the latest issues of W or Elle or the recently launched local Bal Harbour. As I sat there, glad I had opted for a summery dress and heels rather than my at least-once-a-week uniform of teacher polo and jeans, I wasn't sure if the surroundings made me feel more at ease with the idea of cutting myself open for vanity or more pressured that the whole idea was vain and unnecessary.

I was called in to "consult" with the doctor almost immediately (apparently, when you are willing to shell out thousands of dollars for reconstructive anything, they are very timely with your appointments...hello?...non-cosmetic medical world?...you can stand to learn a thing or two here!). After a 10-minute conversation, I was basically told the following:
1. Flappy thing under my neck? Everyone has at least a small version of one "in order to allow your head to turn".... Well, if you refer to my last post, I am not able to turn my head these days anyways, so can we just chop that sucker right off?
2. I am "way too young" for "any kind" of surgical lift/tuck/cut in that area.
3. For a mere $2000-$3000 I can have a laser thing-a-majig that will improve the "texture" of my skin.
4. For a measly $600 I can buy lots of prescription products that will improve the "texture" of my skin.
5. Neither of these two incredibly affordable options will give me "dramatic results" of any kind.

Well, then. Thanks, doc. Really glad about the whole free-consult-thing.

I left not knowing if I was relieved that I really had no options, or discouraged. On one hand, it was pretty evident the doctor did not think my case was any sort of a big deal. He validated ("I mean, I do see what you are saying, Elizabeth. I do see the slight loose-ness."), but almost made me question whether I really had been making a bigger deal of this than I should have. I suppose feeling slightly sheepish is a good thing at a cosmetic surgeon's office? I mean, who wants to go in there and have the doctor gasp and nod with immediate understanding: "Oh yes, yes! I see that turkey neck! Unfortunately, there isn't much we can do for you. Have you considered a scarf?"

But still, maybe a little non-surgical magic cream? A laser that would've zapped some tightness in there? A little placebo pill to trick me into thinking I was doing something about it?

"I'm too perfect for surgery." That's what I jokingly told Hubby and my friend when they asked how it went. Ha.

It's just amazing how you go through life thinking you've got all the answers. You know exactly what you would do in a given situation. You sit and pass judgment on others who pull and tuck and cut. And then...well, then...you wake up one morning and realize you have no frickin' clue and you're just gonna figure it out as you go along and do the best you can and you learn that if you stand with your chin jutted out just a teeny bit, everything stretches out on its own.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

The curse continues (or: WTF?!?)

After my last post, I figured, surely, we were done: the string of bad luck had run its course. I mean, we had gone for Hubby's staph infection follow-up and it was all good. Aidan was no longer needing the splint on his finger. We'd had two full nights of uninterrupted sleep. I had tangerine-colored nails, for God's sake! But you know where this is going...

Saturday morning, sometime before dawn, I was in the half-awake/half-asleep stage, stretching and tossing and turning under the covers, my brain trying to figure out if it was a weekday, trying to register why the alarm hadn't gone off yet. I stretched...my head pushing up against my palm, my palm against my head, twisting and opening my body into one of those deep intense morning stretches...when I felt a searing and sudden pain on the right side of my neck and shoulder, and I became fully awake. I knew I had pulled something. After trying to shrug it off (no pun intended) and trying to fall back asleep, the pain was unbearable, and I got out of bed. The rest of my day included an emergency visit to the chiropractor (if you're keeping count from the last post, that would be the 9th emergency doctor visit for the family in 2 weeks), 9 ibuprofen pills, 2 Tylenol PMs, and lots of ice.

Hubby and I chuckled (okay, not really...Hubby, in his ever-optimistic-never-bothered-by-anything-attitude chuckled and I pouted) about it. Really, who messes up her neck that badly on the first day of no-drama in 2 weeks? And how was I going to manage a full day at the beach for Mother's Day with both sides of the family and all the kids for our annual Mother's Day celebration when I could barely move?

Ah. So that is where the irony perhaps kicks in: I didn't have to figure out how I was going to manage my Mother's Day Beach Day Extravaganza with an injured neck because....

...Ben got a stomach virus!

Yep.

It continues.

Now poor Ben, who has had his string of bad luck too, has spent the last 24 hours next to a bucket. Poor thing..for a kid who has such a strong personality, he sure is a passive patient. Yesterday while he and his little brother were eating dinner at the table (and by dinner, I mean Ben was attempting to have crackers and juice) and I was in the kitchen, I hear Aidan say: "Hey! Where's Ben? What is Ben doing under the table?" I figured he was playing around, but before I could yell at him to get back in his chair, he sputtered: "I need water!" and proceeded to heave into the bucket he'd brought with him to the table. He spent the rest of the day with ashy lips and a pale face.

Today, in an effort to make Mother's Day better for all of us, Hubby brought home a special breakfast and put down the "nice tablecloth." He has joked that my Mother's Day at home today is even better than one at the beach because he's "doing laundry, folding and putting away clothes, installing my new car radio (the Mother's Day gift I requested), and cleaning up the house." But the truth is, I'm one of the lucky ones who has a husband who does that all the time...not on special occasions. And we do go to the beach all the time. So I suppose every day can be Mother's Day for me, and I will keep a smile on my face all day (except when I turn my neck in the wrong direction and see stars).

But I have to tell you...I am seriously wondering if there is really such a thing as being "jinxed" or needing a "cleansing" (not the type the celebrities do to lose weight, although I admit I wouldn't admit dropping a few pounds). Rabbit's foot, anyone?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Wanted: Rabbit's foot, horseshoe, four leaf clover, magic crystal, and any other hocus-pocus, superstitious, good luck crap

I tend to get anxious.

I'm not one of those crazy neurotic people, but I get a little tense when stuff goes awry...especially medical stuff.

Over the last 2 weeks, we've had 3 emergency visits to the pediatrician with Ben, 1 follow-up to the pediatric ENT, 2 emergency visits to the pediatrician with Aidan, one emergency visit to my eye doctor, and one trip to the emergency room for Hubby (this does not include one routine visit to the dermatologist in the mix).

Each visit was minor, as far as emergencies goes, and they all ended well (actually, I'm waiting on Hubby's return as I type this), but it's enough to put a person a little on edge.

Put this all together with two weeks of nightly interrupted sleep to check on: high fevers, chronic coughs, sore throats, fractured fingers, and general discomfort (sometimes theirs, sometimes mine)...well, I'm not in the best of places this week.

I literally feel like I've been jinxed...like maybe that slightly sociopathic student in my class who wrote an essay about how much he hated me and threatened to kill a classmate over the weekend just might have gotten himself a blond voodoo doll and found himself something to do over his 10 day suspension for throwing a punch at a teacher who was visiting in my class (that teacher happened to be Hubby).

Perhaps I should be looking at the bright side: nothing serious in any case....could be worse...just bad colds...small fracture...infected bug bites...all that stuff. But really, I just feel like I've been walking around with a black cloud of bad luck literally hanging over my family's heads and if we cross the street a grand piano or an Acme safe is gonna come crashing down on us.

My chest feels tight, I have a pit in my stomach, and every time I think: "Ok, that was it...certainly that was the last doctor's visit/middle-of-the-night scare/hammered finger/scratched cornea/possibly toxic insect bite," something else pops up. And right now, until Hubby comes home and gives me a full report on the bite on his leg that looked like something straight out of one those scary, disgusting chain emails they send around, I will not be at ease.

*Morning-after update:
~So after lots of antibiotics, minor cutting-open, and a wound that made me (literally) woozy, Hubby should be fine.
~Aidan yanked off his own splint so it wouldn't get wet in the bath, and then again before bed, proclaiming he "wouldn't sleep with it today."
~Ben is sick of his white-out-consistency antibiotic, but keeps taking it like a trooper and doesn't show anymore symptoms.
~I woke up this morning to discover that we had actually all slept straight through the night--a whopping 7 hours.
~I gave myself a pretty tangerine-colored mani/pedi late last night and woke up to find that I didn't get any those bedsheets lines and smudges on them.
So...hopefully the tide has turned (for a while anyway). But just in case, I'm gonna avoid ladders and black cats (and pianos) for a couple of days.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

AGAIN: Six Word Friday


Sometimes you plan life just so.


You have it all figured out:

Follow the women along the path

That was carved out for you.


So you find yourself settled in.

You have attained, accomplished, and arrived.


Then you look around and realize

You really are only settled, instead.


Not, at all, what you wanted.

Not, at all, who you are.


So you call out: Do over!

And you start all over again.

Terrified and doubtful, second guessing yourself...

Wondering every moment of every day

If you did the right thing:


This second draft of your life.


Then later, much later, you realize

The outcome was obvious all along,

Because it was the only option.


Your life: a reset was required.



What does "AGAIN" mean to you?

Join the conversation with Six Word Fridays.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Closure

It is inevitable that, at some point in life, someone will disappoint you.

I understand that.
I expect that.
But what I have a really hard time with is letting it go, especially when it happens repeatedly and intentionally.

I realize, as I begin this post, that there is a strong possibility that it will not make sense. That when people read this, they will be left only with questions, and possibly wondering why I would write something in a way that doesn’t really give a clear picture. But sometimes, you just have to write stuff for yourself. You just have to get it out.

Consider this an exorcism of anger.

Everyone has issues. No one is perfect. And certainly, no one can behave perfectly every time with every one. But really, that whole little excuse people toss around: “Oh, that’s just how they are”…? That’s bullshit. People treating people poorly isn’t okay. Especially when you actually know each other. Especially when you actually shared a lifetime’s worth of secrets and stories together.

When you just become too wrapped up in your own life, your own world, your own head, that you can’t take a moment to step out of it long enough to ask someone else about her life, her kids, her stuff…that’s not just being flaky, or ditsy, or busy. That’s not “That’s just how she is.” That’s selfish. That’s inconsiderate. That’s rude. And that, in my book, is unforgivable.

When your own issues and personality “quirks” make you a burden in my life, when you can not bring yourself to reach out and return a gesture, an interest, a thought, then I’m done with you. And I don’t really care if that’s just the way you are. I don’t care if you don’t mean anything by it. Because it’s pretty damn obvious that you don’t care, either, about me or my world.

I understand that, in relationships, there’s an ebb and flow. There are times when one person will have to give more, one person will have to be more available, one person will have to be more patient. That’s what relationships are for: not just to enjoy the good times, but to carry the other one’s load when it gets a bit too heavy for a while. But when that becomes all there is…when it’s all about one of you, for a long, long time…when the other one is forgotten…when it becomes completely one-sided…then you walk away (I do, anyhow) because it’s unacceptable, and life is too short. And my life, right now, is filled with wonderful people and amazing things. And when someone becomes toxic, when your presence literally pains me instead of elevates me, then I’m done.

And what drives me the craziest…what bites at my subconscious constantly and makes me desperately want to try to understand...what makes me consider actually having yet another conversation about this behavior...is that it’s just not normal. It’s just not socially acceptable responses. It’s unexplainable.

And, I suppose, this is why so many are suggesting that there must be a reason for this person’s behavior. “It just doesn’t make sense,” is what I hear over and over again. “Maybe there’s something going on.”

Maybe.

But I doubt it. Because this is just this person’s method of operation, historically.

Maybe.

But I don’t care. Because after you’ve been figuratively beat up for a couple of years and you’ve been chronically bewildered and disappointed by behavior for even longer, you get tired of making excuses…you get tired of defending and explaining… You realize that you were the first person to shrug and say "But that’s just how she is.”

Monday, March 7, 2011

Two Years and a Second Wind

So it seems that this little blogging experiment has gone on a little longer than I had expected: I am now celebrating my two year anniversary. I’ve had my highs and lows: times when I posted frequently and the blog was constantly on my mind, times I barely got on here at all and even resented the blog’s existence…but overall, I can no longer imagine my life, my Self, without this little outlet. Not only has this blog given me a place to vent, but it’s given me a place to connect with others, make friends, and chronicle my life.

I took a few minutes to look back and read some of my first entries. There was definitely a pattern then: it was almost all about The Boys and my frustrations with parenting. My friend once called my blog, during its early stages, “the greatest form of birth control.” Yep. I complained about everything: sick kids (one of my most frequent labels then was actually “vomit”!), canceled vacations, lack of sleep, spilled milk (literally), messy rooms. I did have my occasional posts of joyous celebrations in parenting, too, but mainly, I had tunnel vision: my kids demanded so much of my time and energy, and I was having so much trouble adjusting to my new role in life, that all I saw was motherhood. Every little thing seemed worthy of a post, because every little thing was so new. Every little thing was a Thing. And I was constantly trying to figure every Thing out.

Now, I’ve been at this “job” for 5 ½ years. Hubby and I have finally fallen into a flow. We’ve all sort of figured each other out and settled in to being a part of this Foursome. The kids are no longer a part of us that we try to fight against or live our lives in spite of…they’ve become a seamless part of who we are, as a couple and as individuals. Life with two little kids is now just that: Our Life.

I am not seeing the world so much through Mommy-colored glasses anymore. I am no longer in a perpetual battle to find my sense of self, to lose the baby weight, to adjust to the requirements of parenting, to figure out what the hell I had gotten myself into. Parenting, now, just is. And as a result, I, too, can just Be.

My blog title suited my life perfectly two years ago. It felt, then, that everything in my life had changed, that everything had become a struggle and a challenge within this attempt to balance life and motherhood. Now, I don’t always feel the need to write about my kids or my struggles and successes with them. I know that the person I am has been forever changed by the births of my sons. I know that the way I look at life, the way I behave, my priorities, my beliefs, and my values…they’ve all been irrevocably altered by parenthood. And I know that when I need a place to shout and scream in frustration about my kid’s behavior in school or my feeling of helplessness when one of them gets hurt or how much I hate the everyday chore of bath time, I can come here, to this place, and get it all out.

But lately, I find that my topics are less about them and more about me, more about life, more about nothing and everything…from cooking (or should I say, not cooking) to running to just random me-ness. I think, somewhere along the line, I’ve finally become a Woman Who Happens To Have Kids. And fortunately, I’ve come to love my new place, my new role, my new me…the one that can be Mama without always worrying about sacrificing the rest of her.

So now, here I am…two years later. I have carved out this little space in the world for myself to be Me, to yell and scream and cheer and ponder and wonder and celebrate and question and muse: This little blog, where the only rules are those which I choose to impose upon myself.... This little blog, which, after 172 entries and a period during which I even considered closing up shop, I’m now more excited about then ever…because it’s taken a life of its own: my life, and not just as a mom, but as Me.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Disney Princess Half Marathon-Check!


When I go back to reread the post I wrote back in November about my decision to run the Disney Princess Half Marathon, I am surprised. Surprised not only by the fact that it still makes me tear up, but also by the realization that that was actually my experience: the pain of that miscarriage and our struggles to get pregnant seem like they belong to someone else's life memories, so far and faded is that pain now.

Last weekend I went back to run my third (and quite possibly last) half marathon in Disney, this one in celebration of Just Me and My Boys. As poignant and important as the event was, it did not feel at all heavy. The few times I got emotional, it was a giddy sort of joy--tears of relief mostly--that I got all I had wanted Then. I got my kids. I got to be a mom.

And it was fun. The weekend was filled with silliness (how could it not be when 90% of the runners--even men--were wearing everything from tiaras to tutus?!?) and fun and light. So rather than write another post about my emotional full circle and the meaning of this whole experience for me, I found it best to capture it with some photo ops...

We started out the Race Weekend with the kids' races. Ben ran the
200 meter and took off so fast that Daddy almost couldn't keep up alongside him. Aidan Kai earned his first-ever medal in the 100 meter dash. He was pretty darn proud of himself. (I did not miss the irony that this time around my half marathon weekend started out with me on the sidelines watching my children race...)


After the kids' races, we were off to the Expo which, in the past, had been quite an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours among vendors and other racers, but this time...good God!...standing in line for packet pick-up or to purchase one single "I Did It! 2011" t-shirt was surely more grueling than the race itself! However, the Big Moment of the expo came when my boys made their "Go Mama" signs to hold up on race day for me:


Back at the hotel room, Hubby and the boys gave me gifts: a pink sparkly cuff picked out by the boys, a pink flask picked out by Hubby (because, after all, what better way to celebrate the culmination of 3 months worth of hard physical training than with a little girly flask?), an amazingly inspiring card, and a picture drawn by Ben during his art center time in school depicting me running throughout the race all in pink and purple crayon (does my kid know me, or what?).



After getting everything ready, we tried to get in a good night's sleep, but I, at least, only managed one solid hour.

By 3:45 a.m., I was ready to run:


And by 4:45 a.m., the boys were ready to roll:


When Cinderella's fairy godmother counted down and the fireworks went off, I was more than eager to go. I was surprised to find that my first couple of miles didn't hurt as much as they usually do, and I settled into a steady pace right away. I was so excited about the whole thing, that I barely listened to any of my music (which is kind of ironic after all the drama about whether or not my personality allowed for me to just run with a random playlist on my shuffle). Every mile or so, Disney provided entertainment of some type: characters, djs, performers, and I was glad I had decided not to carry my camera after all, because I would not have been able to resist waiting in the really long lines to take pictures with some of them (particularly the Captain Jack Sparrow scene and Ben's favorite: Lilo and Stitch). By the time the course started winding towards the Magic Kingdom, I knew my boys would be along the sidelines cheering me on, and the running felt effortless. As we entered Mainstreet, I scanned the hundreds (and I do mean hundreds) of spectators lined up cheering the racers, anxiously looking for the reason I was running. The minute I spotted them, I broke every runners' courtesy rule and weaved across the racers, practically tripping a few of them, to get to my family.

Seeing them there made every step worth it. I don't think I have ever been so elated in the middle of an event. I took several minutes to chat with my boys, give everyone kisses, and take a couple of pictures.



The next 4 miles were a piece of cake, since the route continued around and through the Magic Kingdom and I was still riding the high of seeing the kids and Hubby. It wasn't until mile 9 or so that my infamous knee issues started to kick in and I started to really look forward to finishing. Miles 10 and 11 were pretty exhausting, and my music playlist finally played a role in distracting me, but once I saw the sign for the final mile, I turned it off and just ran. This was it. I had done it all on my own and for all the right reasons, and had actually enjoyed myself. As I approached the finish line, I heard the air horn that signaled Hubby and the boys were nearby and did a little dancing-wave thing for them as I ran on, shouting "I love you guys!"


I got a tad choked up when the volunteer put the medal around my neck after crossing the finish, but didn't have time to dwell on the emotions since I had to walk for what seemed like another 13 miles just to get around the barricades separating the spectators and the racers.



As proud of myself as I am, I do have to say that the person who really deserved the medal this weekend was Hubby, who dealt with two little boys all weekend long, sprinting from viewpoint to viewpoint to ensure they'd be there for me, probably covering even more mileage than I did, and then tending to them for the next couple of days while I recovered, and the rest of the week, since I came home with a raging virus and have been in bed for almost the whole week. P...when I ran the first half, you were there, running by my side and believing in me when no one else did. When I ran the second one to try to get out of my depression, you were once again my rock, and you never let me hit bottom. And now, you were there to celebrate with me and our boys. You never doubt me. You never doubt us. Thank you (and I don't mean just for the flask).


Thursday, February 24, 2011

My scariest parenting moment...finally, in print

Sometimes, things happen in parenthood that are just perfect for a blog.

Sometimes, things happen in parenthood that one can not really write about in a blog.

And I'm not talking about "private" stuff. I'm talking about stuff that is just too painful to rehash. Stuff that, when it happens, you're strong and capable and do what you gotta do, but once it's over, you just don't ever want to go There again.

This past summer, something like that happened, and when it was over, my friend immediately said: "Well, there's a perfect blog post!" But it never made it on the blog, because I know Me...I know what my head does...I know the potential for Crazy Shit that can happen up in there. So when it was over, it was done.

But today, this incident was revisited, and it came back, rushing at me, forcing me to finally get it out, write it down, and (hopefully) let it go.

So...the Incident was really, no big deal. Surely, many of you reading this will have similar stories. But this happened to My Kid. And it changed me, just a little bit, forever.

*****

It had been my idea to go ice skating. Ben had shown some interest, and it was the one thing on my Summer To Do List of activities that we had not yet tried. So on the week before the end of summer, we spent the afternoon--Daddy, Mama, and 4-year-old Ben ice skating (or should I say hobbling?).

Ben was pretty good. For a kid who can barely roller blade, he took to the ice rather quickly. At first, he'd just dare a few slides from here to there. By the end of the hour, when we had about 5 minutes left, he decided to go off a little further. I had skated away from him at this point, wanting to see him from afar, wanting to take it in: this little little boy, big grin on his face, brows furrowed in concentration, slip sliding around, almost gracefully.

That's precisely when it happened. I watched the skates slip out suddenly from under him. His body flew up in the air and he landed backwards, head first. As Hubby and I skated over to him, bystanders and skaters and employees rushed over. One mom, I remember, gasped audibly and held her hand over her open, shocked mouth, and uttered a horrified "It was such a loud thump!" when I came over. I remember thinking she was probably one of those moms... But Ben was standing up. He was crying, but he seemed okay. There was no blood. No bump. No evidence.

Within a few minutes, the crying had stopped, and as he sat with his makeshift ice pack on his head, we jokingly took a picture with our cellphone to send to the grandparents. We thought it might be funny to "freak them out a little bit." We came home and Ben asked to watch TV and have some milk and cookies. He seemed fine.

Long story short: about 40 minutes after the hit, he started to cry, almost inconsolably. His tummy hurt. No, his head hurt. No, he thought he was going to throw up. He felt weird. While I called the pediatrician, he started to yawn, rub his eyes, continue to whine. By the time we arrived at the pediatrician's office, less than 10 minutes later, he was throwing up into a Ziploc bag and turning white. By the time we arrived at the ER, less than 8 minutes later, his lips were grey, his eyes were glazed over, and he couldn't tell us his name.

Over the next couple of hours, I watched as my son was strapped onto a table for a brain scan. I watched as he bravely looked away when they put in the IV. I watched as he started to "come back" and begin to question the nurse's skills. By the time the doctor came back with the results that he was okay and that it was "just a concussion," he had started to look and sound like himself again.

So.

Nothing really happened.
Lots of kids have to go to the ER.
Lots of kids bump their heads.
Lots of parents have scary moments with their kids.

But watching my son go from perfectly normal to looking like he was completely drugged and didn't know who he was...this boy who always has something to say, always has an answer to everything, this boy with the full pink pout that suddenly was not even the color of his skin...that will remain with me forever.

And that thought...the one of how it could have, very easily, gone the other way...that's the thought I simply did not want to entertain ever again.

Today, I got a call from his school. He was okay, but he had fallen backward and hit his head on the concrete. When I arrived at the school, I scanned the playground area and recognized his navy blue shirt and royal blue athletic shorts. He was hanging from the monkey bars. I could not have been more relieved. But still, in the car, on the way home, I watched him closely in the rear view mirror. At the first yawn, I panicked: Did he always seem this tired after school? When he said his tummy hurt, I wondered: Does he usually go potty at this time? The memories came rushing back. The fear, the anxiety, the incredible amount of gratitude (at Life, at God, at Luck?) that he was okay.

Again.

My son was okay.

**After I was done with this post and was proofing it, I heard Hubby (who was bathing the boys) ask Ben to let him see his eyes. Immediately, I went to the bathroom: What? What is it? Hubby said he thought Ben's eyes looked shadowy, but in the light, it seemed so did Aidan's. "You know it's when you're looking for stuff to find," Hubby explained. Meanwhile, my heart started pumping, the anxiety, the fear...that fear that Something Is Wrong. Here's the worst part of parenting: you just can't protect them.**

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Welcome to the inside of my head

So, after nearly two years, this blog finally looks like Me.

When I started out on this little writing/techie journey, I barely knew what a blog was, much less how to design one. And here I am, li'l ol' technologically disabled me...changing background colors, rearranging fonts, and finally using the header photo I had dreamed up so long ago (thanks Gil, photographer/friend extraordinaire!). And although, thank God, we no longer use baby bottles or pacifiers in this house, and a couple of those shoes have since been handed down,that photo really does capture what this blog started out like for me: the needs and demands of my boys scattered about my "real" life...the one I fought so hard not to lose, the one which, eventually, has adjusted itself to my "other reality"...Glamour Girl and Mama can co-exist after all.

Nothing like a bloggie make-over to perk a girl up...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nothing to prove

It’s pretty exhausting, walking around with a chip on your shoulder, trying to prove people wrong. It can even be pretty tiresome when you’re walking around, trying to prove something to yourself.

But it can also be extremely motivating…like a swift kick in the ass to get you in gear…as in “Oh yeah? Watch this.”

That’s what the last 15 years have been for me, athletically speaking.

Short version: I was the chubby sister, usually the chubby friend, and always the one begging the coach to sit out in phys ed.

Fast forward to my early 20s and a desperate need to get out of my house: I started running. (Well, I started walking and dabbling in a slow painful jog here and there).

When I first started toying with the idea of a 5k, the response was overwhelmingly “3 miles? You sure you can do that?” When I mentioned the possibility of a half-marathon, it turned into laughter and outright mockery.

Well.

Short version: I did several 5ks and went on to run two half-marathons (not to mention a couple of sprint-distance adventure races, complete with obstacle courses, mud pits, and mountain biking).

During all of those training runs, when it started to hurt…when I started to wonder if I could keep going…I thought about all of those people, the ones who thought I just couldn’t do it, the ones who said I was not athletic, the ones who--instead of supporting me from the sidelines--placed even more doubt into my already terrified heart.

And I thought about me. I, too, wondered if I could do it. I wondered every race, every mile, every step. More importantly than proving it to all those people, I needed to prove it to myself. Because the truth was that when those people doubted me and I fought back with anger and more mileage, I never admitted that I wasn’t really sure I could do it, either.

There was nothing like crossing the finish line and that feeling of: “Hell yeah.”

*****

I will be running my third half-marathon next week. I am not running this one to prove anything to anyone. This one will be a celebration of the three boys waiting for me at the finish line, and a celebration of Me.

And I gotta tell you: as I logged in my last long training run yesterday, I realized: it’s way harder to put in the work when you’ve got nothing to prove.

When I hit the pavement for mile 1, I was slammed by the pain in my ankles and calves, caused by my insistence (and stupidity) on wearing heels to work for two straight days. I didn't know how I was going to run another eleven. By the time my watch hit the first hour, I was just forcing myself to move forward, to take one step and then another, to just complete the training session. As I struggled, I reached for something to get me through, to motivate me...an inspirational song on my iPod, a vision of myself crossing the finish line next week, some inkling of that desire, that anger, that need to show the world, to show myself that I could do more than I had ever thought possible.

But it didn't come. Instead, the realization hit me: I was no longer That Girl...the one who set out at the start line of her first 5k, more terrified than she'd ever been. After over a decade, I had finally let that insecure, uncoordinated, scared little kid behind. All the people who had doubted me so long ago had either been forcefully removed from my life or had seen me succeed enough times to finally realize that maybe they'd been wrong all along and they should just shut up and cheer goddammit.

As happy as this epiphany made me (I no longer had to do anything I sorta didn't want to just to see if I actually could...I no longer had to log painful hours on the road or the bike just to see if I had the stamina--mentally and physically--to do so...I no longer had to "prove them wrong"), I also felt slightly deflated.

Damn.

Now I had to finish this damn two and half hour training run out of sheer will.

So now that I've "arrived" in this place in my life, I'm no longer exhausted from walking around with that chip on my shoulder.

Now I'm just exhausted from the damned running.