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."


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? 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, 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 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!


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 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.