Monday, July 8, 2019

Letting go

My kid is 13 now. E is 8. We've long since passed the point of babyhood. We've also somehow passed the point of intentional decision making as to whether or not we would try to adopt for a 3rd time. There's never been a conversation that resulted in us saying, "ok, no more kids". It was more of occasional, random, comments about missing babies, or how challenging it would be to be outnumbered by children. Comments that never really turned into conversations, deciding anything one way or the other.

But, now, it doesn't seem possible that we could go back to that place. The kid will be in 8th grade this year. E in 3rd. I cannot imagine having a baby and a teenager in high school at the same time. And, truthfully, I cannot imagine the emotional (and physical!) labor involved in parenting another child, when I already feel like I'm doing the vast majority of the parenting of these two on my own.

Last week, a student I previously worked with posted on fb that she and her fiancee were about to be approved to be foster parents. She was asking for baby items. We have closets full (literally) of baby items. Clothes (newborn - 3t), cloth diapers, infant bath tub, crib, pack-n-play, toys, bed rails, books, crib sheets, burp cloths, bottles. All. The. Things. Why have I held on so tightly to these things, y'all?

Earlier this week, she came and got them. I kept a few things. The outfits they wore home from the hospital. Some of the books they each loved, or I loved reading to them. A few toys that I can see using for play therapy at some point. The cloth diapers, because those were expensive and I need to just sell those. A few blankets that were made by family members. But the rest - an entire SUV full (seriously, trunk, backseat, and front seat) - she took all of it.

I wish I could say there was relief as she drive away with it all. But that would be a lie. Mostly, I was anxious. I worried that I hadn't looked through the clothes thoroughly enough and might have missed keeping something important. Or that I gave away a book that I didn't have fond memories of, but the boys might. WHAT IF. "What if" what, I have no idea. Just, what if...

I realize this is grief parading as anxiety. Sadness about a more definitive "no" to more babies. I'm a much more confident - likely, competent - parent of babies than teenagers. I am refilled by rocking babies night after night, and exhausted by driving children to endless sporting events. Even though I assuredly get more sleep now than when my children were small, I am more emotionally exhausted on a daily basis. I love them, and I love parenting them. But parenting older children is just more challenging for me. Babies were easy. Yes, even when E was waking every 1-2 hours day and night for almost 2yrs.

This grief is reminiscent of the grief I felt when we decided to stop fertility treatments and pursue adoption. It was - is - the decision that I knew was - is - the right decision. But that doesn't mean there aren't feelings of sadness. It's taken me a long time to get to this point. And I know, in order to get through this grief, I need to sit with it, let it be, honor it, all before I can let it go.

Today's Lesson: Not making a decision, well, it's still making a decision. Sometimes that decision is just a stopgap until you're ready to make a more permanent one. And that's okay. Sit with the decision. Make the decision. Sit with the grief. Let it be. And then move through it. You don't have to do all of it all at once. Grief is a process. Not a finite thing.

Monday, July 1, 2019


The last funeral I went to was my MIL's. It was almost exactly 8 years ago. E was just an infant. The kid was a very busy 5yo. Overall, it was awful in the way funerals of people who were generally healthy and died unexpectedly often are. Mostly from that day, I remember my exhaustion, trying to care for two children (one of whom didn't sleep for more than an hour at a time), and being overwhelmed by the intensity of everyone's feelings of sadness.

Funerals are hard for everyone, more so for those of us who feel every one else's feelings. Empathy is often a double edged sword. People joke about how I exude a bubble around me in public. I don't pay attention to what's going on, who's there, etc..., and seem to be able to repel others from infringing on me and those with me. I think I developed this skill as a protective factor. Because, seriously, have you been in public lately? There are a lot of people there and they all have their feelings with them. Letting down my defenses and feeling that, well, it's absolutely exhausting.

Funerals, tho. Shew. People's feelings are just too strong to be able to block them out. Even my bubble can't repel all that. I find myself crying whether *I* feel sad or not, simply because I feel everyone else's sadness (or grief, or anger, or whatever). Adding in people I love, experiencing their intense emotions, and I'm a hot mess of feelings, just sobbing. To others, it's probably confusing why I'm having such a strong reaction. And whether anyone judges me for that or not, I don't know. But I at least imagine they do, which makes me feel embarrassed, and doesn't help me feel any calmer.

You can see why I'd generally avoid funerals. Thankfully, there I've had to attend any in the last several years. Until tomorrow.

Tomorrow I have to take my child to his brother's funeral. A brother he hasn't seen in years. A brother he has only small snippets of memories about. And be surrounded by family which is his, and yet not his. Most of them don't even know he exists. The church is small. It will be obvious to many that we don't really belong, or at least are "other". But, his parents want us to come. My child wants to go. To grieve this brother who he he doesn't know, and yet knows. So of course I will take him.

And while this is not about me, I am already exhausted by it. Mostly because I do not know what to do. How to make this easier on him. How to protect him. I'm worried about unintentionally upsetting his parents even more, just by being there. I'm worried about what to say should/when anyone asks how we knew this child. I'm worried about how my child will be affected by it all.

And I *know* all I can do is go and be his person (sobbing mess that I will be). He feels things as strongly as I do. I wish he didn't because I know how hard that is. And I know how confusing this is for me, as a fairly functional adult. I can only imagine what's going on inside him; he isn't great at articulating such things so he can't really even tell me.

I know he's thinking about his brother, "Momma, are they going to cremate him or will we be able to see him?" (at dinner last night), "Poppa, my brother died. Me and mama are going to go to his funeral" (immediately upon Poppa walking into the house after being gone all weekend), "Momma, do I look like him?". I'm glad he can ask me these questions. I wish he didn't have to. I wish I could protect him in my bubble tomorrow. Always.

Today's Lesson: People joke all the time about how parenting doesn't come with an instruction manual. And, of course, it doesn't. But adoption even less so does. I've yet to find a book, or even a chapter titled "How to support your child at a sibling's funeral when no one knows that sibling is your child's sibling". I mean, if you know of that book, by all means, please help a mama out. I could certainly use it for tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Wandering and Wondering

Sometimes I miss this space and wander back over. That seems to happen during the summer, mostly. Things are generally slower at work, with no grad students (literally) staring over my shoulder. And evenings at home are generally less stressful, with no management of homework to be done by overtired children.

If I'm being honest, part of the reason I walked (mostly) away from here is because too many people I know irl were reading. There were (are) Things I wanted to talk about that I couldn't, because it felt (feels) too uncomfortable to do so with people I know face-to-face. I've always been real here. What you read is what you get. But, to not be able to talk about these Things, well, I don't know what to say. Some of me wonders, though, whether it might just be safe to process here again. Whether, the people I know irl have long since given up reading. I'm assuming everyone has, truly, as most of time even I don't remember this space exists.

Also, I wonder if I just don't need this space like I used to. The infertility is forgotten most days. No baby waiting happening, nor will it again. I'm finally able to start getting rid of some of the baby things I've been holding onto for so long. Someone I knew when she was an undergrad student is becoming a foster parent. She posted on fb asking for baby things. It finally feels right to let go of some of the things. It makes me sad. But it feels right, too.

The kids are older, and though I find parenting at this age much more difficult than I did when they were small, I don't know how to share and process that without infringing on their privacy. (Which, I admit, I definitely did when they were younger. But it doesn't feel as sensitive what I would share at this age, just simply because of normal development.) They're both overall doing well. They're smart, and sassy, and funny, and drive me batty, and give me morning goodbye kisses (well, except at school drop off, then they prefer I not even look at them). They both love to read. The kid is way into adult dot-to-dots right now. I don't get it, but isn't that often the case with parenting? E is obsessed with some little toy that I can't even remember the name of right now. I get it even less than the dot-to-dots. They're kind, loving humans. I couldn't ask for any more.

I've also unexpectedly found a group of girlfriends with whom I converse about many of the things I used to process here. These women are such an unexpected and amazing presence in my life. I've never had a group of friends quite like them. I am incredibly grateful for the light they bring to my life. We're going on a week long girls' trip this summer. I've never done this. I've never been away from my boys for more than 3 nights. That part makes me nervous, particularly as supervision when I'm not home is less than optimal. But. BUT, I need this. And I am so looking forward to this time with my friends.

Today's Lesson: It's funny how even when we change, we hold on to certain things. Things that we know we don't necessarily need right now. But we might need them later. Maybe. Baby things. Relationships. Blogs. As long as the holding of these things isn't harmful to us or others, then go for it. Grieve it until you're ready to move on. Because, really, holding on to things is often about grief.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018


Christmas (my friend's daughter, also present). You can see how tall the kid is. Tho as this was almost 6 months ago, he's grown another several inches. He's in the weird phase where he still believes in Santa, but also hides LL Bean catalogs under his bed (well, yeah, I know that's weird, but they are the dirtiest pics coming into the house).

E with Luna during one of the kid's soccer games. She is quite confident in her role of "lap dog".

See lap dog reference above.

And more cute dog pictures because, well, she's cute. E put his baby blankets on her "because she's a baby and she's taking a nap and she needs to be snuggly warm." He even folded one up and made her a pillow. Gah, I love him.

The day we got her from the shelter. Which was an overcast December day, so I've no idea why the kid has on shorts and sunglasses. Middle school boys, man...

Today's Lesson: One shouldn't try to make sense of middle schoolers. It's an exercise in futility.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Here, where ever that may be

E is 7. He'll be in 2nd grade in the fall. He does so well in school. We held him back for an extra year of preschool because he'd of been 4 for the first month or so of kindergarten (and 17 starting college) and that just didn't seem like the best idea. It's given him the opportunity to be a leader. It makes me proud to see the confidence this has given him. He's spunky. And funny. So funny. And still cuddly, though I do see an end of these days. He loves to read. Loves it. He has tantrums sometimes. Mostly when he's hungry. This child is the definition of "hangry". He talks and talks and talks, especially when he's tired. It's funny that I once worried about a language delay. He gives the best side eye.

The kid is 12. He just finished his first year in middle school. It was a growing experience for us all. Honestly, it was mostly hard. I gave in and had him diagnosed with ADHD, then started medicine. I was wrong to wait to so long. I should have agreed years ago. It's allowed him to shine through again. It's allowed him to read books, or do legos, or watch a movie, or do homework without getting up to do who knows what. It's allowed him to feel somewhat more successful at school. The 504 plan that came with the diagnosis (well, that I fought for with the diagnosis) has also helped. The meds also confirmed for me that there's more than just ADHD going on, nothing "serious" per say, but things that also make attention and school more challenging for him that it is for his peers. He joined the chorus and has loved it. After being "one and done" in orchestra and band, I'm thrilled he's found a musical outlet he loves. He grew 8in in a year and is now officially taller than me. By an inch and counting. He points it out often enough to remind me, but not so often as to be irritating as hell. I adore the person he is. We still have our days.

We got a dog. Her name is Luna. She was from the shelter. And she's adorable. Somehow she conned me into letting her onto the furniture. "My" chair has now become hers and she gets irritated with me when I sit in it. Or sometimes she just lays her head on my shoulder and agrees to happily share with me. She's recognized that I'm the responsible, reliable one the in the house. I'm mostly the only one who remembers to feed her. She follows me around the house nudging  the back of my knees with her nose when she needs food or water. The boys adore her. E a little more than she'd like sometimes. We're all learning from her.

In the fall, my father was found unresponsive in his apartment a few states away, where he's lived for more than 20 years. No one's certain how long he'd been there when he was found by a concerned internet friend and the police. Somehow, he wasn't dead. The alcohol, I suppose, has preserved him over the years. My aunt/his sister moved him back here and has yet to talk with me about this. She's had many conversations with my mother and my husband. My mother told her, thankfully, that she would not pressure me to reach out to him. If he wants a relationship, he can make the effort. He hasn't. It's okay. And it isn't.

I'm in grad school again for yet another post-graduate certificate. Apparently I'm a glutton for punishment. This time in play therapy. I'm working on becoming an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker/therapist). I'm not certain that's what I actually want to do with my life, but it feels like moving forward. And I need some forward moving in my life. So, it's progress.

Today's Lesson: Sometimes, there are things that want to be said, but we've nowhere to say them. Sometimes, the saying of things out loud is too scary, too real. Sometimes, the writing of the things is safer. Sometimes, we have to find out where the safe places are. Sometimes, that is easier said than done.

Friday, December 4, 2015


E's birthmom, R, moved back to her home state a couple of years ago. We got sporadic text messages from her, from a different #, every couple of months. And then, late this summer, we got a message from her that she was in town. But not just to visit. She's moved back.

Since then we've had several scheduled get togethers, only one has been successful. It was good. And painful. And beautiful. And hard. She said hardly anything. Just watched him. I can only imagine what was going through her mind. I tried to just sit there, hold space for her, and not get in the way of her loving him.

I offered random tidbits about E. What he likes. What he doesn't like. How he's really funny, in a little old man kind of way. How he loves music and dancing, but will only engage in either when he's in the mood; there's no cajoling him into it when he doesn't want to. How expressive he is when he talks, especially once those hands get going. How much he still loves to cuddle. How he can have quite the temper when he doesn't get what he wants. How much he adores and looks up to his brother. How he's rather introverted, particularly in big groups, or unknown situations. How hilarious he is when he gets going about something random, even when he isn't trying to be. And how mad he gets when we laugh at the times when he isn't being funny on purpose.

She smiled and responded a bit, but mostly just watched him play with his brother, with his (birth) sister.

I wondered which was more painful for her, seeing him then, or not having seen him for so long. I imagine both were horribly hard.

This weekend we're planning to have family pictures. And R and her daughter are coming, too. These pics are our Christmas gift to R. I had thought to set some up, but hadn't figured out who would do them, or when, or even asked R if she wanted to. And then she texted me asking, well, more saying she'd love some. I'm so glad she mentioned it.

This is a first for us. I'm hoping the photographer can do some family pics of me, hubby, and the boys before R arrives (she nearly always runs really late). Then some pics of us all, and some of her, her daughter, and E.

Confession? I want to be the adoptive mom who is all "oh, yeah, I'm 100% comfortable with this". But, I'm not. I think in my head I am. But, I can't really articulate why the rest of me is having all kinds of feels about it. And I can't even really identify the feels, just some kind of discomfort.

I'm pretty sure it's rooted in R's pain. For a long time, it was easy for me to essentially dismiss my boys' birthparents' pain, for a myriad of reasons, but mostly because adoption was a choice they all made. And while that's true, it doesn't mean it was an easy decision to make, and certainly not an easy one to live with. I, of course, didn't take these boys away from their biological families. However, that still doesn't negate their pain, or make it feel any better to me.  And it doesn't make it any easier, really, for any of us.

I really do hope the pictures this weekend go well. I hope R shows up (like I said, there have been some canceled at the last minute visits). I suppose if she doesn't it's just more time for pics of the 4 of us. I hope I can work through some of this discomfort before the pics, so I don't ruin it/them for everyone else. And, of course, I hope the pics turn out well.

Today's Lesson: Sometimes we think we've done the work to know what we're getting ourselves into. And perhaps we have, to some extent. But often, what we neglect to do, is the work to know what we're getting others into with our decisions. Particularly as it relates to children, who have no say so in any of it.

Friday, October 23, 2015

My Boy

I hate to even type this out, for serious fear that I'll jinx us and things will go back to "before", but here it is anyway.

About 6 months ago I realized the kid had gained a lot of weight. Like 30lbs in a year. And his behavior was off the charts. It had been cyclical before (for example, take a look at the last several years this time and you'll see me complaining) but over the previous 6-12months, it had been near constant. He was having a horrible school year and the thing I'd dreaded since he started at public school in kindergarten had finally happened - the school thought he needed to be diagnosed with ADHD and put on medication. I eventually relented and agreed to do testing, but it showed, like I knew it would, that he did not meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD. I talked with our behavioral health social workers, the MDs who run the ADHD clinic, and the child psychiatrist at work and they agreed with me that he didn't meet the criteria.

Cue the appt with the pedi. She did the whole "he needs to eat better foods and get more exercise" talk. I did the whole "we rarely eat junk food - heck even processed food - and this is about the most active kid I know" response. She talked about sending him to a "program" (for overweight kids). I told her where to stick that idea and that I'd follow up with the High BMI MDs and Peds Endocrine MDs at work and let her know what they had to say.

I had a sneaking suspicion that this all (the behavior and the weight gain) all stemmed from some allergy medicine prescribed about 11 months prior by the allergist (who is an awful B, but that's a story for another day). Pedi disagreed. BMI MD and nurse practitioner disagreed. Endo MD at first disagreed. But then she took a really good look at his growth chart (shot up from a consistent 75th% over the last many years to >99th% in weight and BMI in just a year!!), ordered some labs and a hand xray, looked at some pics of him from a year prior, then stopped into my office a few days later. She thought, just maybe, I might be right. She couldn't tell me what to do allergy medicine-wise, but suggested I call the allergy MD to see what else they could put him on.

I refused to have anything else to do with that allergy MD, so just stopped the med on my own and did some research. (Actually, I had had already stopped it a few weeks prior, because I was that convinced it was at least part of the problem.) After talking with another of the BMI MDs, who actually agreed that something was seriously amiss with my boy - and not something that had to do with diet or activity - I asked the pedi to order a different, non-steroid medicine.

And, don't you know, that since then (about 6 months and counting), my boy hasn't gained an ounce. Nothing. And the whole year before then, he was averaging a gain of about 2.5lbs a month.

My kid, who had been displaying some concerning symptoms of anxiety, in addition to the impulsivity and distractability, well, he's a different kid. Gone are all symptoms of anxiety. Gone is the distractability. Gone are the angst-y, middle school girl-esque throw-myself-on-the-floor-and-sob-over-who-the-eff-knows-what fits.

Now, my kid is still there. He's still not perfect. But it seems like the essence of who *he* is, well, it's finally back in the forefront. My fairly easygoing boy who smiles and laughs all the time, who is so damn smart and loves to learn. That kid is back. And I realized he's been buried beneath a mist of steroids for years. It may be the allergy med that awful MD prescribed a year ago (well, a year and half now) that pushed him over the edge, but I realized this all started when he started on Qvar for his asthma when he was about 3yo. And, man, do I feel shitty about that.

All this time I've known something wasn't right with my kid. I've blamed the fall behavior issues on the allergies. And, yes, the allergies which lead to the asthma, which lead to him not sleeping as well, that is part of the issues. But, really, it was the allergies, that lead to the asthma, that led to us giving him the Qvar and nasal allergy medicine that caused the problems. They're what caused the problems.

Now, the MDs all tried to say that those steroids are inhaled, thus won't cause issues. Well, they were wrong. Every damn one of them. So, so very wrong. At least with my kid. And a couple of the MDs wanted to "write this up" and publish it "because that's how pediatricians learn". But, well, my kid, so I get to write it up my way. Especially since I'm the one who made this medical "discovery". Me. Not the 4-5 MDs I consulted who are "experts". Me. Just the mom. Just the lowly social worker with limited medical knowledge. And while I'm proud that I figured this out, I'm also pissed that no one else did earlier. And I'm pissed that no one - including me - figured this out years ago. I'm pissed about the difficulties my kid has had, the difficulties in our relationship we could have avoided.

But, it is what it is. We know now and we'll never allow him to be given steroids again.

And, for the record, his allergies and asthma are now so much better controlled anyway than they were with those other meds. So go figure.

Today's Lesson: For the mamas, listen to your gut. Don't let the "professionals" blow you off. For everyone else (MDs, dads, grandmas, etc...), just effing listen to the mama. Research even shows she's probably right.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Orchestra

I was never a team sports kind of  girl. Well, to be honest, I was never a sports of any kind kind of girl (other than occasionally the swim team). But orchestra. That was my thing. It was the place I truly felt like I belonged.

I played the violin from 4th grade through Sophomore year in college, even - somehow - getting a small scholarship my first two years in college. I'm pretty sure it was thanks to my orchestra director who loved me (the feeling, btw, was mutual). I was never really any good, mind you. I never felt the need to practice at home. I mean, who wanted to lug that thing back and forth home to school every day. And practicing just my part of the music didn't sound all that great. And not just because I sucked, mind you, but because, when you're not in the first section, you rarely get the melody.

Regardless, I loved it.

I loved the music. I loved to be a part of creating the music. Even though I was somewhere far back in the 2nd violin section, hence only got a supporting role, it didn't matter to me. When all the parts played together, it was magical. Yes, even as a bunch of 4th graders. Though, I'll tell you, once we got to high school, it really was transformative for me, especially on those occasions when we got it *just right*. The feeling of creating something beautiful with a group of people, it just has profound meaning for me.

Probably as much as the music itself, the people were what made orchestra so important for me. These were my people. Yes, some of us were rather dorky. Some of us were quite popular. Many of us didn't know a football from a golf ball. But some of us were gifted athletically. Some of us sucked at our instruments. Others were truly talented (many of my orchestra friends have gone on to full-time careers in music). But, for the most part, we were who we were and - in that place, if no where else - we were accepted as we were, for who we were.

Now that doesn't mean I was great friends with everyone. There were people who I didn't particularly like, and I'm certain others would say that about me. However, there was a solidarity, a common purpose, a respect between us that  allowed for us to mostly peacefully co-exist. And that wasn't a feeling I necessarily experienced outside of that orchestra room (or cafeteria, as the case was in elementary school). But, just knowing that that kind of acceptance was a possibility, that feeling part of something bigger than me was possible, that changed my life. It had an enormous impact on who I have become.

So, you can imagine my big feelings when my kiddo agreed to participate in orchestra this year. 4th grade is when it starts. It's when it started for me. The feeling of fitting, of being where I belonged.

My kid has been struggling to find the "thing" that is his. We'd hoped he'd get into an arts school for visual arts and that he'd find his "thing" there, but it didn't happen. We haven't been able to find a sport, or any other activity that is his "thing". It's not that he doesn't like doing things. Really, he's fairly content to do about anything. But he doesn't love anything. There's just nothing that he really seems passionate about.

Also, he hasn't yet found that group of kids who are his people. And, as much as anything, I want that for him. To have a  group of peers where he feels comfortable, confident, and just able to be himself. That's what orchestra was for me.

It's totally fine with me if orchestra isn't his thing. I think there's a possibility it might be. In truth, it would thrill me if it was. But it's fine if it's not. Mostly I'll be happy, thrilled for him, when he finds whatever that thing is. Because that feeling of belonging, it makes life so much easier, so much happier, so much more full.

So, the first time I see him with his very own viola perched under his chin, the bow all rosin-ed up and poised over the strings, surrounded by other string players, I'm going to cry. And, yes it'll probably be as much for the little Becky who had finally found her place as it will be for my boy. But that's okay.

And, when he does finally find his "thing", I'll cry then, too. Because I'll remember what a gift it is, to know you are where you are supposed to be. And so grateful that he has found that for himself.

Today's Lesson: As much as I love parenting the littles, there is much joy in being able to share different parts of myself with them as they grow and can understand and accept those things. Those moments make the smart mouth a little easier to take. Usually.

Friday, March 20, 2015

From his Perspective

Momma, this morning I just wanted to show you what I made out of Legos. But you stopped me before I could and told me to take them back downstairs because I know I'm not supposed to play with them in the mornings. But I usually forget that. Because they're awesome and I love them. And, besides, I really wanted to finish this cool creation. But, I did what you wanted and took them back downstairs. Without mouthing back at you, I might add. But I got distracted when I was down there and next thing I knew, you were yelling at me to come back up to your room. And you didn't sound very happy with me.

On my way back to your room, E ran by, waving one of my drawings at me, laughing manically, taunting me. I had to get it back - right.then - because he sometimes cuts up my art stuff that I've worked so hard on. But he didn't listen when I told him to stop so I had to yell at him. He was waving it in my face on purpose and I tried to grab it. He was running down the hall when I got ahold of him and he fell down. I was so relieved to get my drawing back that I didn't even notice that he was upset. Until you stuck your head out it the hallway and demanded to know what happened.

Right away you picked up E and hugged him. But you wouldn't listen to me. I just wanted to tell you what happened. I mean, couldn't you see, he did this to himself! I just wanted my drawing back. That's it! But now I'm in trouble! It doesn't make any sense. And you're using so many words and I just want you to hear me that he was going to destroy my stuff!! Again. Because he does it all. the. time. Why won't you listen to me?! And you wonder why I don't want to tell you things sometimes. It's because you only want me to talk, well, when you want me to talk. Not when I want - or need - to talk.

You wonder why I'm sometimes sullen. Well, it's because I don't feel like I'm heard. My Legos, my drawings, you may not feel like they're all that important, but they are to me. When I yell at you, I'm trying to explain my side of it, before you start in on me. I just want to be heard. It's really not too much to ask.

Today's Lesson: There are times, as a parent, when I don't have time to listen. Or at least my perception is that I don't have time. There are times, as a parent, when I don't think the things my child is upset about are important. But my child certainly thinks they are important. There are times, as a parent, that I need to stop, slow down, shut up, and let him have his say. Because the 2-3 extra minutes this takes, will save us time later. Because my child will feel heard... listened to... important... he will know, by my actions, that he is important to me... that he is loved... that he is my priority. There are some mornings when I just need this reminder. Before the chaos starts.

Friday, January 9, 2015

Early Memories

One of my earliest memories is a snippet of a moment. A single snapshot of random life. Held in my memory as just still frame. But seen from my perspective, and real enough that I know it wasn't a picture I later saw somewhere, but something seen with my own eyes.

I couldn't have been more than 3. I was standing, in the kitchen. I can almost feel the red and brown squares of the linoleum beneath my bare feet. The yellow-greenish color of the oven in front of me. Staring up at the brown cabinets. The skinny cabinet, just to the left of the oven was open. I remember, clearly, the jars of baby food lined up neatly on the bottom two shelves of the cabinet, so high above me. They were green and yellow, tiny jars. The round glass ones, with metal lids.

And that's it.

There's no sound or smell associated with it. No feelings at all, other than curiosity about the jars. I was just there, looking.

I wonder, though... what was it about that moment that embedded itself so strongly in my memory? Why is it 30-something years later I remember it so clearly? Why has my mind held on to that, when it's forgotten so many other (much more useful!) things?

And that leads me to wonder... what are the first memories my kids will have? Will it be something big and exciting? Will it be something frightening? Will it be a quiet, loving moment with me (oh, how I wish it to be this!)? Or will it be a random moment of the mundane?

Right now, E says he remembers when he was in heaven before he was born (a conclusion he came to all on his own; we've never told him that's where babies are before they're born). He says he remembers "just a'waitin'". It's an interesting thing. But I wonder if he will hold on to this, or something else will replace it.

The kid, well, he just starts to make up fanciful stories about his first memories when asked (i.e. after he heard what E said, he just expanded on that). So I'm not really sure what it truly is. Likely, neither is he.

But, seeing as how I never talked about this particular memory until a few years ago (and not for any particular reason, other than it never came up), it seems plausible that they may not even realize right now what their earliest memories are.

So I'm curious... what are your earliest memories? Also, do you think there's a reason why those particular things have stuck with you?

Today's Lesson: The mind, and memories, are tricky things. We never know exactly what they'll hold on to, or why. Sometimes the things we most want to remember (a particular look of a loved one... a fact for an important test... our babies' first words) seem to be lost. While the seemingly unimportant (where baby food was stored when we were toddlers) remains.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

My favorite part of Christmas

So Christmas wasn't as awful as I'd been afraid it would be. It wasn't magical (for me at least), but it was fine. I think my favorite part overall was just not having to deal with school and work (for hubby; I still went to work many days). I still feel like I need a week or two to recover and get all the things done that didn't get done (lord how I hate laundry). But, well, you know how that goes.

However, there is one moment that stands out as my absolute favorite memory. You might think it has to do with decorating cookies (God, no. That was stressful and I lost my shit over the most ridiculous thing while we were doing that. So much so that I need to decide whether we need to do those ever again. And, that's solely contingent on whether I can behave myself, mind you). Or how grateful the kids were for all of their gifts (and they were, but, well, that's not exactly memorable). Or how enthralled E was with the Christmas concert (he was, totally. And I did enjoy that, but the kid was in BIG TROUBLE  and that stress overshadowed the concert and many other things). Or how the boys seemed to "get" why we were taking so many presents to another family (they did, and then sat glued to the tv at the family's house because holycrapthetvisON!!!!). 

But no. It was none of those things.

So let me tell you what it was.

It was Christmas  Day. We were at hubby's paternal grandmother's house. Now, FIL is one of 12 (yes, 12) children. And hubby has like 50 something (maybe more?) first cousins. And many of those cousins now have children, too. And hubby's grandmother's house is about, I don't know, 1500sq ft. So, family gatherings are, um, chaotic, busy, loud, chaotic, shoulder-to-shoulder-packed-in-there, chaotic... you get the picture. Everyone brings a dish and lunch is potluck style down in the basement. It's chaotic. (Have I mentioned that yet?) For some reason, there's never any alcohol there. Now, this is a huge Catholic family so I really don't know why there's no alcohol. But there just never is. Perhaps with that many people in that small of a space it wouldn't be a good idea. Tho I tend to think it would. For me at least.

Everyone was settling down to eat. The boys and I were sitting at a card table with hubby on the couch right next to us. FIL's fiance (topic for a different post. Or 3.) and my SIL were also sitting with us. E was clearly hungry and was shoveling food into his mouth. The kid was super distracted by everything going on and hardly could finish a sentence before something else grabbed his attention, much less actually finish a bite of food.

One of hubby's aunts popped her head down the stairs and asked if anyone would like a glass of wine. Before anyone else had time to even process her question (because, what? Wine? Here? What the what?), I looked over and noticed that my sweet, quiet, innocent 4yo's hand had SHOT up into the air. He was sitting as tall as he could in his seat, holding his arm completely straight, waving that little hand like his life depended on it. His eyes were huge and his mouth slightly open in a little "o". He wasn't taking his eyes of hubby's aunt. He didn't make a peep. He wanted that wine, y'all.

And I died (DIED!!!!!) laughing. Like, tears streaming down my face, about to fall out of my seat, my face hurts, laughing.

Hubby's aunt, also died laughing. And then she said, "does anyone besides E want some wine?". And everyone caught on to what had just happened and the room erupted in laughter.

E slowly caught on that he wasn't going to get the wine. And, since he doesn't at all enjoy being the center of attention, he slowly put his hand down and resumed eating, not making eye contact with anyone.

Before you start to think that he just thought it was juice, or just something special in general. Let me clarify. This child really does like wine. He'll steal sips of it whenever he can. He is a wine thief.

After we'd been sitting there a few minutes, and everyone had moved on and was eating happily, I heard my sweet baby E mutter under his breath, "but I do want the wine. I do. I DO!".

And I died laughing again.

I love this child, y'all. Love. Him.

Today's Lesson: Some of us are planners. And some of us planners think we can plan fun. Plan joy. Plan magic. But the best of those things, well, they just happen. And usually when we least expect them.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Secret

A secret? I don't love Christmas. In fact, I dread it. I find it ridiculously stressful. I certainly don't find it magical.

Christmas seems like a compilation of many things I don't like and/or am not good at - buying presents for other people; shopping at all; getting up early; spending lots of time at the houses of people I don't really know, but call family; being completely off schedule ; dealing with the affects of my kids eating red dye 40.

I don't want to get up early at the crack of dawn with my kids and watch them open their presents. I'd be perfectly content to just come in about 9a and let them show me everything they've already opened. I sure as hell don't want to shop for presents. Really, I suck at buying other people gifts, well, adults at least. I don't want to spend all day in a tiny house with too many people whose names I don't know, trying desperately to keep my kids from eating all the Red Dye 40 crap. I don't want to fight with them to sit appropriately (like they're old enough to do) at mass and just freaking behave. I don't want to deal with DAYS of awful behavior due to sleep getting all messed up, and naps missed. I just don't want to.

I know. I KNOW.

You may call me Ms Grinch. I completely admit that it's appropriate.

I get it. I'm supposed to love it. I know.

But I find it stressful. Exhausting. Expensive. Not joyful. Not fun. Not magical. At all.

I just want to curl up in my bed and sleep through it. Truly I do.

I suspect part of the reason I don't love it is because I remember feeling like my mom didn't love it. As a single mom, I'm sure Christmas was hard for her in many ways. We usually spent the day with my dad/his family, so she was home by herself. I remember feeling guilty about that even as a little kid. Not that she moped or anything when we'd leave. She always had a smile when we left, and a smile when we returned; she's great like that. Come to think of it, maybe she was glad to have a quiet day to herself!

I really do want  my kids to love Christmastime.

So I TRY. Hard. We do the Christmas-y things. We see a Christmas play every year. We go to the Philharmonic Children's concert. We bake and decorate cookies. We take cookies to the firemen and talk about caring for others. We "adopt" a family for Christmas and the boys help shop for presents and deliver them. We drive around and look at the pretty lights. We even went to a live nativity this year, which really was magical. Until the kid started acting up and I wanted to kill him.

(And, side note, I orchestrate all these things, which probably doesn't help my feelings of stress around this holiday.)

But I still definitely can not muster up that Christmas magic attitude to go with any of it.

I hope my kids will say they had magical Christmases. I hope they don't turn out all Grinch-y like me. But often Christmas seems like just another parenting fail for me.

Today's Lesson: Take off your rings before you bake Christmas cookies. Otherwise you will be cleaning dried up dough out of them for days. This will also not help with the Christmas spirit.

Monday, December 22, 2014

All I Want for Christmas...

I am of the the Cabbage patch doll era. As in, mass hysteria!! Must get my child that toy!!! I will steal it from another parent to get it for my child!!!! I will pay 50x what it's worth!!!!!

The year I got my first Cabbage Patch doll, I remember sneaking out of my bed in the middle of the night to see what Santa had brought. I tiptoed quietly down the hall, carefully avoiding the spots that creaked in the floor. I could see the glow of the tree around the corner, illuminating the room. And there it was. It was beautiful. I did little happy dance -very quietly - when I saw it sitting under the tree.  The glow of the lights reflecting off her perfect, plastic face. I wanted to grab her and take her to bed with me right then. I was overjoyed. I doubt I got back to sleep that Christmas Eve. 

It. was. magical.

My kids don't watch much tv. As in, rarely at all during the week, and, when they do, it's a 30min PBS Kids show. On the weekends, it's not much more than that, though there's often a cartoon that hubby has DVR'ed for himself and wants to watch, so the boys get to watch, too. But, since it's DVR'ed, they don't see the commercials.

Now, I'm sure I knew about Cabbage Patch dolls from commercials. And I'm sure I bugged the heck out of my mom because of it. But, my boys don't really ever see commercials (which has been intentional on our part). And they really rarely ask for specific toys (or foods, or anything for that matter). When they do ask for toys, it's not name-brand things (other than Legos, but, really, what else would you call those? It's not really like there's a market for generic ones, either, not that I've seen at least. Then again, I also don't watch commercials). 

When we ask they boys what they want for Christmas we don't get much response. A plane. A tractor. Some Legos. Art stuff. All of which they already have. So it makes me wonder, have we stolen some of the magic of Christmas from them? 

Now, I know Christmas isn't about presents and commercialism. I mean, we focus a lot on others (not just at Christmas, mind you) and make a daily concerted effort to avoid all manner of commercialism. But, the joy I felt, seeing that doll surrounded by glowing lights, that doll that I'd begged for forever (I mean, really, since the preceding summer at least), that doll that I actually still have because I've never been able to get rid of it, that doll that my children now play with. I feel a little twinge of sadness, of regret, that they don't have that.

Of course they're excited Christmas morning. And they're always thankful for whatever they get. But the experience doesn't seem as magical as it once did to me. Maybe that's because I'm a Grinch-y old adult now. I'm sure that's part of it. I just hope we've haven't inadvertently stolen one of the joys of childhood.

Today's Lesson: Unintended Consequences - (according to Wikipedia, because that's a totally legit source when blogging about random shit) outcomes that are not the ones intended by a purposeful action. So often the outcomes of our parenting are affected by these. For better or worse.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

A silly, frivolous post...

...because we all need that sometimes.

If money were no object, and, well, it weren't tacky to ask for, this is what I'd ask for for Christmas:

  • a weekly house cleaner to do the things I particularly hate (dusting! windows! floors!)
  • a 3 day vacation by myself. doesn't matter to where
  • monthly flowers delivered
  • to only have to work half-time
  • wood floors for the whole house
  • a Kitchen-aid stand mixer
  • a brand-spanking new Sienna minivan
  • a fancy camera
  • lessons on how to use said fancy camera
  • lots of Stitchfix gift certificates
  • to go to the Opera (I've never been and this seems like a tragedy to me!!)
  • a new washing machine (I have a new-ish one. I hate it. I want a new one that works)
  • a king-sized bed
  • a window in my office that opens
  • a vacation home in the mountains, near a river
If you could ask for anything (and I mean not like "world peace" or "racism to be abolished" because, well, of course, but selfish, dreaming kinds of things), what would you ask for??

Today's Lesson: Sometimes we all need a little frivolous dreaming in our lives.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Asheville, NC

I'm doing a pictures post because who the hell has time for scrapbooking anymore? Though, really, who the hell even prints pictures out even more?! So, yeah, this is that kind of a post.

We went to Asheville, NC for Thanksgiving. Just the 4 of us. It was fun. And relaxing. And there was no yelling. And we loved it.

We found a cool trail at Chimney Rock State Park (you know, where they filmed Last of the Mohicans). It was specifically for kids, not too long, because E still isn't a fan of hiking, with fun animal sculptures and facts along the way.

And the boys and hubby relaxed in the hot tub at the beautiful house we rented, which was, conveniently just a 5min drive from Chimney Rock. 

And we found a beautiful park in Lake Lure, which is a really cute town and I bet even cuter in the summer.

And we found another set of trails right across from the gas station in Lake Lure that were perfect for a Thanksgiving Day hike. E, of course, preferred to ride.

And we went to the top of Chimney Rock. E actually did this whole hike on his own. Which is amazing because there are hundreds of stairs.

Our only entire family selfie. 

It was absolutely gorgeous. And damn cold. But I'm so, so glad we did it! Also, I totally made the boys listen to the Last of the Mohicans soundtrack while we were driving through the park. And into town. And on the way home. Don't judge. It's beautiful music.

And we, of course, went into Asheville. We walked around and ate dinner at a local burger place. It was delish. And we explored the courthouse square/park, which is beautifully surrounded by mountains on 3 sides and has a cool amphitheater in the middle.

It was a fantastic trip  and I think we'll be back soon.

Today's Lesson: I need more time for crafting.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

A Missed Opportunity for Kindness

I was walking across the hilly campus. It was finals week of spring semester. One of my last days at that particular university, as I'd chosen to transfer to a new school for the following year. It was a sunny day. Windy. I was smiling to myself. Grateful that my finals thus far had gone well and that I was almost done with that place. In a hurry to get back to my dorm room while my socially awkward roommate was still in class so I could pack without avoiding painful conversation.

As I came up one of the hills, I noticed a girl, just sitting on a bench. She had her head in her hands. Her backpack and books sitting next to her on the bench. I watched her as I continued up the hill. As I came closer, I realized she was crying. Like heart-wrenching, whole body sobs.

I wondered why she was so upset. A bombed final? A death? Boyfriend troubles? Who knows.

She didn't seem to notice me, or anyone else who was walking by. But certainly no one could miss her.

My gut was to stop and offer her comfort. Even if it was just a body to sit near her while she cried.

But I didn't. I kept walking. I hope someone else stopped. But it wasn't me.

I'm not sure what stopped me. I had things to do. There were other people around. She was a stranger. Social norms. Fear of her not wanting me to bother her. I don't know.

17.5 years later and I still remember that girl. 17.5 years later and I still regret not stopping and checking on her.

I know it's not my job to save the world (though, really, social worker over here, I mean, it's kind of one of our things). But I've carried this regret around for nearly half my life. Because that little moment of kindness, could have made a difference to her. And, maybe it wouldn't have. But I'll never know.

I do know it's part of why I so want my boys, above all, to be kind and care for others.

So, we are as last year, focusing on kindness and caring for others this Christmas season. We have a family from the Christmas Tree (a single mom of 5 with another on the way!) who we'll get gifts and Christmas dinner for, we'll go through the kids' toys and donate ones they no longer need (and are, of course, in good condition), we'll make cookies for neighbors and the firefighters (that was a huge hit last year!), and I don't know what else.

I especially hope we'll all take advantage of the day-to-day moments we're presented with to let others know we care. Not just at Christmas time, but all the time.

What is your family doing to care for others this holiday season? I'd love to get some new ideas!

Today's Lesson: We should always listen to our inner voices. Often the things we most regret could have been prevented if only we had.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Science Fair

Oh, the school is doing a science fair this year and you can participate starting in 3rd grade! The kid loves science! My mom is a microbiologist! This will be a great thing for them to do together!

So I call my mom and see if she'd like to do this with him. She would. Fabulous! I ask the kid if he'd like to do a project. He has no idea what a science fair is, or what a science fair project is, but sure. We're all set. 

We decide on a project. And promptly make absolutely no progress on it. For like 2 months.

And then I start to freak the eff out. Because there's a book project due the week before (and those = serious ugliness in my house). And his audition for the arts school we're hoping to get him into is 3 days after the fair. And it, of course, involves a portfolio and all kinds of crap. And we're going out of town the weekend before it's due so no work will get done on it. And my mom is going out of town the week before that so can't work on it with him then either. And. it's. too. much.

My mom to the rescue. She spent an entire Sunday with him after we got back from our weekend trip and (it took all of us but) that sucker got done. thankyoubabyjesus

The fair wasn't until Thursday, but the project had to be at school Wednesday. Wednesday morning was one of those mornings at my house. Now, neither baby E nor I are morning people. And it's also when the kid is fairly unsupervised so tends to get a bit sneaky. All of these things were in play. 

I almost left the kid's project on the kitchen counter, necessitating a last minute dash back upstairs to get it. E had some horrific tantrum about idk what (oh, actually, i know what it was about - he didn't want to wear his new thin fleece coat in the car "because it's too puffy" <-- this is what I get for being a carseat tech and lecturing them that we don't wear puffy coats in the car because it's unsafe). While I'm trying to wrangle E into his carseat - without the perfectly safe coat on because arguing with 4yo's is about as effective as arguing with 1yo's - the kid is just wandering all around the garage like we're not already running late.

Finally, everyone is in and properly buckled. I whip out of the garage, back up into the street, and zoom forward. Only to see something flying behind me in the rear view mirror.

fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck <-- to my credit, that was my internal monologue. What I actually said was, "Oh, kid, oh kid, I am so, so, so, so sorry!!!". Because, yes, I'd left the science fair project sitting on the roof of the car. And it was raining. 

I slammed the brakes on. Just in time to watch 3 cars go over the area where whatever it was had landed. I pulled back into the driveway and saw, with the most relief I've possibly ever experienced, that the project poster (the biggest part of the project/display) was somehow and miraculously still on top of the car! 

By this point, E is freaking out, screaming to know what's wrong. The kid is screaming, "there it is!!! It's in the road!!!". And he's not wrong, because the notebook with all the IRB forms (didn't I mention the part where we had to get freaking IRB approval for the  science fair project of a freaking 8yo?!!!!) and human informed consent forms (yeah, we had to do that, too, with all the participants) is laying in the middle of the road. I watched one more car barrel through there and prayed the forms hadn't just been made illegible, because, you know, I never made a copy of them.

Thankfully, the thing wasn't even wet. Somehow. And all those cars had managed to avoid making contact with it. Thankfully, none of the project was any worse for wear.  

But I have to tell you, not the best morning in my house, y'all. Not the best morning at all.

Though, really, not the worst either. So I suppose I have that going for me.

The kid with his project, pre-momma leaving it on the roof of the car and almost causing serious awfulness and parental guilt for the rest of my life. 

Today's Lesson: There are certain things, as parents, we should share with each other, you know, to allow for the whole "learning from others' mistakes" thing. The sound advice to not participate in the voluntary science fair is one of them.  So, I'm sharing it with you. And, I wholly expect that next year, when I'm all, "oh, the kid learned so much from his science fair project last year. We should totally do that again!", you'll all remind me of this and expressly forbid me to sign him up. Because that's what friends are for.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Protest

The kid was maybe 4 when he attended his first protest/rally with me (Take Back the Night/TBTN, to shine light on sexual assaults). Since then he's been to another TBTN, MLK Day rally, and another protest/rally that I can't remember. (I am a social worker, it's kind of one of our things.) So, me taking him downtown last Tuesday night wasn't a completely new phenomenon, for either of us.  But, this protest, this was about the Ferguson/Darren Wilson decision. There's so much to say about that. But much of it's been said by people more knowledgeable and articulate than me. So, instead, I'll tell you about that evening and what it was like for us.

We hurriedly ate dinner and rushed to get downtown. I'd wanted hubby and E to come, too, but E hadn't had a nap (DISASTER!!) and hubby was, well, yeah. So, it was just me and the kid. I wasn't sure how to approach this with him, what to say, because it really was different than the protests and rallies we'd been to before. 

So I asked him if he knew was racism is. Now, we've absolutely discussed it before, but it's been from more of a historical perspective (i.e. Rosa Parks, MLK, etc...), and not really personal. I told him about Mike Brown and others. I told him about how some police and legal systems treat people with brown and black skin differently than they treat people with white and "peach" (as he says) skin.

I cried.

He said, "Momma, are you sad? Are you crying?"

I told him I was.

He said, "Momma, I've seen you angry lots of time, and I've heard you yell. I've even seen you sad sometimes. But I don't think I've ever seen you cry".

Now, I'm quite certain he has, but, yes, this was different. I told him that it was different because I'm scared. I'm scared for him and E as they start to get older. 

He said, "But, Momma, all I have to do is just make good choices and stay away from the police, right?". 

And my heart broke. Because as any person of color will tell you, that's not nearly enough. 

As my boys get bigger, as they reach an age and size that I know will no longer make them "cute", but will make them the targets of unreasonable fear and suspicion, I am absolutely terrified for them. And I can feel in my momma-heart that that time will be soon for my kid.

I feel helpless to guide them through this. How in the hell do I explain that people will treat them differently because of their skin? Because I've done all I can up til now to teach them that we love and respect people because of their differences and their uniqueness; those things are to be celebrated. They are not to be feared, not to be judged.

And I have to tell you, all the comments from well-meaning friends and family about how we don't have to worry about racism with OUR kids, because, you know, WE raised them (you know, as white people who teach our kids how to act right, blah, blah, blah) . Well, those comments infuriate me and I just call bullshit. 

Because this isn't about how black and brown children are raised; it's about how society views and devalues them. It's about how "driving while black" is a real thing. It's about how my brown-skinned children are infinitely more likely to be followed through a store than my brother's white-skinned children. It's about how my black child was identified as needing "special services" at school and his white classmate who got the same score on the almighty test didn't (because, you know, some parents feel the need to post that kind of shit on fb). It's about my brown-skinned children having to hear an ignorant SOB say things like "oh, is it nigger day at the pool?". It's about how brown-skinned boys who are headed to college get quickly labeled as thugs for stealing a box of cigarettes. Or shot dead in the street for having a toy gun. Or for walking down the street with candy bars in their pockets.

Racism is real. My children have experienced it already. And I feel ill-equipped to help them. To support them. And to protect them. And it fucking scares me to the point where at moments I am completely incapacitated. 

My boy chanted his heart out. In fact, his voice, which was often even louder than my own, was a bit hoarse the next day. Hands Up Don't Shoot; 2-4-6-8- Stop The Violence, Stop The Hate; Whose Streets? Our Streets!; and my personal favorite -  Show Me What Democracy Looks Like! This is What Democracy Looks Like! 

"Momma, is this what democracy looks like?" 

"Yes, kid. This is what democracy looks like. We are here. We are making our voices heard. We are standing up for what's right. And we have the right to do all those things even though some people don't like what we have to say." 

"Momma, I'm proud of us because some people are too scared to do this, aren't they? And it's not okay for people with skin like mine to be treated different than people with skin like yours, is it?"

"No, baby it's not. And I'm proud of us, too. Probably more than you realize."

"It was cool doing this, momma... Now, can I have some hot chocolate already? It's cold out here!"

Today's Lesson: One of these days, hot chocolate will no longer be a cure-all. I do not look forward to that day.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Interns Grow Up. Hopefully.

I realized that I never told you about baby E's birth. Well, that's a long story, but I do want to tell you about the MD who delivered baby E. Because yesterday I went to a new MD to establish care and that visit reminded me of his delivery.

For the majority of the time R was in labor, we only saw the nurses. I'm fairly certain this is common. Fortunately, the main nurse was also a CNM (certified nurse midwife). She was lovely. Very compassionate, not weird-acting at all. Our situation was (still is) uncommon and was, apparently, quite uncomfortable for many people, because lots of people acted super awkward throughout our stay. Not unkind, mind you, just awkward. They didn't know who to talk to, so often spoke only to one of us, ignoring the other. I certainly preferred that if they were only going to talk to one of us, that it be R, since, you know, she was the one having the baby and all. But it didn't always work that way.

Also, E was born, you may remember Sept 25th. August is when teaching hospitals get new batches of brand-spanking new residents. Typically, they're called interns their first year of residency. I don't know why. And, generally speaking, August and September have the highest mortality rates in teaching hospitals. I'll leave it to you to put two and two together on that one.

So, it was time for R to deliver this baby. She asked me to remain in the delivery room. Her mom was also there (on the phone with a friend of hers, who she put on speaker phone; this was super annoying to all of us in attendance). Hubby and the agency case worker are in the waiting room. In come a group of people. At the time, I had no idea who they were. I now, after working in this same hospital, realize they were the team of residents, sans their attending (as is typical).

The resident who apparently drew straws to delivery baby E looked like she was about 16 (she was probably about 26), and about to vomit. She stood in the middle of the room looking around like a little kid in a crowd who has just realized she's lost her mommy. The nurse said, "it's time". The resident then took on the look of a deer in the headlights. She was just that still, too. This was about the moment I started to get a little concerned. But I was then distracted by the yelling on the speaker phone of R's mom's friend ("push, baby girl, push"; never mind it wasn't time to push).

The nurse finally had to grab the resident by the arm and tell her to focus and get dressed (gown, gloves, etc...). I think the nurse had had enough of the resident's stupidity, because she then just about put the shoe cover things on the resident because she was (still) standing there about-to-pee-herself scared.

Essentially, the resident did nothing but stand at the end of the bed and catch E. (Though I suppose that's kind of the MD's job in an uncomplicated delivery) R did all the work, with a lot of direction from the nurse and a bit of support from me. I swear, I saw the resident shaking she was so freaked out.

I didn't see her again until 2 days later.

A girl I worked with at the time was in labor the room next to the one E was born in. I went over to see her. And in the room was the resident. She looked at me in shock. I smiled and explained that the mama-to-be, in this case, was my friend and I had no intentions of parenting her baby. I don't think she believed me. I think she thought I was soliciting for all the babies.

Cue yesterday, at my MD appointment. It was a new MD, because, well, the last one wasn't a pleasant experience. Now, I went to this particular practice when I was a kid, really, until about 8yrs ago, when I had bad experiences with the residents two visits in a row that completely turned me off of ever going back. But, this practice is now a 60sec walk from my office (one floor up and just down the hall), and I'd heard great things about Dr V. And I was definitely in the market for a new MD.

First, a medical student walks in. Now, I'd told them when I scheduled the appointment that I would not be seeing any residents or students. They said that wasn't a problem. So I wasn't thrilled to see him in the first place. Then he acted like I'd just kicked his puppy or his grandmother when I told him that I wouldn't be seeing him. He was all, "but normally I don't even tell people I'm a student because I don't want them to be able to refuse to see me". And I was all, "uh, I think you have to tell people you're a student in case they want to refuse to see you. And the fact that you're about 11yo makes it obvious, dude". And he was all, "look how charming I am? You know you want to talk to me". And I was all, "you're not charming. I don't want to see you". And he was all, "I'll make a pouty face and then you'll see me". And I was all, "Get the eff out".

So, finally, Dr V comes in. And we briefly talk about why I'm there ("What? Periods every 21 days? that sucks. Do you want a flu shot?" "Uh, yeah it sucks. I don't want your flu shot"). She asks how old the boys are. I tell her. She asks whether either of them were born at this hospital. I tell her E was. She asks when. I tell her. She tells me she remembers in her very first month on OB there was an adoptive mom who was going to breastfeed and that I look familiar and she's pretty sure she delivered E. facepalm She is the nervous resident who had absolutely no idea what she was doing.
1. This makes me fell very old.
2. This does not make me fell much better about my visit with her as she's only been done with residency for a year.
3. I remembered that shortly after E was born, I happened to overhear the nurses talking about what a clueless incompetent idiot they thought she was.
4. I have to remind myself that it would probably not endear me to her were I to tell her what a bumbling idiot I - and the nurses - thought she was. Also, it just wouldn't be nice.
5. Damn, it's a small world.

Today's Lesson: I don't have great luck with doctors. I just don't.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Sweet baby E

Well, E just turned 4. He had an art birthday that turned out really well. He and his friends had a great time and it wasn't nearly as stressful to plan and decorate as the Lorax birthday last year. 
E on a recent camping trip. He still doesn't sleep great, but it's gotten so much better. We upgraded to a popup camper this summer and that seems to have helped.

This time last year I was afraid E wasn't talking as much as he should so we had a Speech eval done (he was borderline low/average). This is amusing to me now because he - like his brother - never.stops.talking. Ever. And he is funny. I mean, funny. He delivers the funny so seriously, which makes it even funnier. He's still an introvert, but he is much more out of his shell than he used to be. Just don't (as a stranger) come bopping up to him and expect him to talk to you. He won't. And he may scowl.

I love this kid. 

E's in preschool full time this year and loves it.  (Last year was 3 days/week.) We love it, too, as long as he takes a nap there. The days he doesn't, it seems to throw him into a several day tailspin and it takes some serious doing to get him back to normal. We occasionally still have to use melatonin. We're undecided about whether he'll start kindergarten next year. Technically, he could as his birthday is just before the cutoff. But I'm just not sure whether it's the best thing for him. Fortunately, we have loads of time to decide.

What else... he's still doing gymnastics and (most days) liking it. He is really strong and has some guns that hubby is jealous of. He hasn't shown any particular interest in doing any other sport or activity, so I suppose we'll keep with gymnastics for now.

The cuteness. I just can't handle the cuteness. This kid, I mean, he is just really my heart. I am blessed beyond reason by him.

Today's Lesson: Sometimes we get what we ask for. Sometimes we get what we need. Sometimes we get both. This child is my both. How could I ask for more?

Friday, October 10, 2014

My kiddo

Oh my kid. Where to start...

Well, it's fall. And that means behavior issues. Go ahead, look back over the posts from last few falls and you'll see a pattern. Allergy and asthma season is upon us. The pediatrician laughed because we've been to see her every year for the last 3 years within 5 days of the same day for the same reason. We actually went to the allergist several months ago and apparently he's just allergic to the whole state. Which is awesome. She recommended allergy shots, twice a week for at least a year. It took all I had not to belly laugh at her. Anyone else remember how he lost his mind with his flu shot last year? No? Just me? Well, suffice to say allergy shots will not be happening. Neither will the flu shot. So, yeah, we're giving mass amounts of medicines (allergy and asthma), which I KNOW isn't good for him either. But we're at a loss as to what else to do.

School, the teacher this year (3rd grade), well, she just seems lovely. And I'm so grateful. So (SO!!!!!) grateful. I met with her earlier this week and she had noticed (because, well, anyone would) that he's a bit distractable. I assured her it will get better once allergy season is over (s'rsly, someone, please, KILL ALL THE RAGWEED!!!). Until then, she suggested we try a behavior modification plan with rewards - and appropriate ones at that! - for staying focused. So, far that seems to be helping. 

We've also hired a tutor to help. He started with her over the summer and will continue for the foreseeable future. She actually a former 3rd grade teacher with a master's in social work who's staying home with her littles right now. She's kind of awesome. 

Look how huge he's gotten. I mean, I'm totally slumped down some here, but still. He's probably 5ft now and 80lbs. He's probably the chubbiest he's ever been. Not that it's due to lack of movement. Because, right now he's doing gymnastics, soccer, and tennis (each once/week, and two of those are at school, so don't involve us driving him all over, 'cause that's just not going to happen). He's still awfully muscular. I'm anticipating another growth spurt sometime soon.

Also, I love that he can read to me now. Of course, he'd still rather have me read to him, but we're striking a balance pretty well most days.

I struggle in my relationship with my kid. I love him. I mean, in the tips of my toes, in my brain, in my heart, in the core of my being love him. But I struggle. I'm not sure whether it's because we're so alike (quit talking to other kids all day and do your school work!!), or because we're so different (what, you don't like to read? How can you not like to read??!!). I want to be the positive-reinforcing, calming, infinitely patient mother he needs. I'm not. I'm just not. But I struggle. Sometimes it feels like every moment with him is a struggle. Not a struggle with him, mind you, a struggle within myself, to be with him how he needs and deserves so he can be the awesome kid I know he is. Struggle. 

I was reading over some old posts and came across several mentions of sneakiness. And I realized that thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou this phase has passed. I can't express my gratitude enough that 1. we're done with that, and 2. to have realized that we're done with that. I needed that reminder today. 

My kid, he really is amazing. He's so helpful and empathetic and positive. I don't know where this happy-go-lucky-good attitude came from. But I'm so grateful for it. And, truth be told, I'm terrified that we'll screw up this parenting thing so magnificently that he'll lose it along the way. 

He's artistic and we're desperately hoping that he'll get into the creative and performing arts school for next year. It's a once you're in, you're in until you decide to leave or graduate high school kind of thing. We think it'll be a wonderful fit for him. I know he's not the most artistically gifted kid they've ever seen, but I'm desperately hoping they'll see the potential in him.

What else... gah, I don't know. This is already kind of a lot, isn't it? And now you see why I had to do separate posts on my boys. 

Today's Lesson: While it does none of us any good to live in the past, looking back can sometimes remind us of how far we've come. And, as parents, can remind us on the bad days of how far our children have come. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Oh, hey there.

I still haven't found my voice, or even found what it is I *want* to say. But I've been feeling called by this blog, called to this blog, the last few weeks. So, perhaps I'll give you an update of sorts. In bullets, because, well, I want to. And certainly nothing brilliant. I'm a bit rusty after all.

  • When I came here today to, well, idk what, I realized that the template had disappeared. Perhaps that happened a long time ago and I hadn't noticed. No idea. So, here's a new one. I feel like I lost stuff in the transition, but, to be honest, I haven't the interest in locating it at the moment. But this is at least better, right?
  • I've noticed that many (many!) of the blogs that were my favorites have disappeared as well. Where have you all gone? And why? It's interesting that so many of us seemed to stop all around the same time. I had been following along intermittently but every time I check, it seems more and more spaces are quiet.
  • My "new" job (been here about 10 months) has certainly afforded me a more regular schedule. It's also boring most days. I'm trying to be grateful that I'm no longer daily inundated with horrible abused kids and mentally ill homeless adults. And perhaps it means there's something wrong with me, but I miss that. Perhaps it's that I feel like I was actually making a difference with those populations. Perhaps I'm actually an adrenaline junkie. Either which way, I'm trying to be grateful for the good parts (regular schedule! office with door! seeing children every day!). Some days that's easier than others.
  • I hear some interesting comments and conversations outside my office doors. Occasionally one will be Cubicle Chronicles worthy. I should start jotting them down til I have enough for an actual post. You know, if I start posting again regularly. Which I don't know if I will.
  • Hubby... honestly, I think he's depressed. And this is the first time I've said it "out loud". I thought so as well after his mom died and convinced him to see a therapist. He went 2-3 times and stopped. Things got somewhat better for awhile. But for the last year or so, he's not been... well. I feel irritated and angry with him much of the time. Mostly because he is irritated and angry with the boys much of the time. And he doesn't see that and gets super defensive. And it's a big nasty cycle. So it's great. It is what it is right now. Until one of us decides to do something about it. And I wish I knew which of us it would be, or even what "it" is. Probably it should be me, because, you know, depression and all. But, yeah, that hasn't happened. I suppose this is one of the "things" I didn't really want the people in my actual life to read. But, fuck, I supposed I needed to say it somewhere.
  • The boys... well, I started writing updates on them and then ended up with too much. So, apparently, I've decided to do a post one each of them. Yes. That surprises me as well. Perhaps those posts will even be published.
  • Doesn't this sound bright and shiny and happy? Aren't you glad I haven't been writing this kind of crap all the time? We should just consider my absence as a gift to you. You're welcome. There's lots more fun like this, but I'll spare you now. Really, you're welcome.

Today's Lesson: Sometimes we all just fumble around in the dark not knowing what the damn lesson is supposed to be. Surely, at some point, a light will appear somewhere and offer some clarity. Surely.

Friday, June 6, 2014


I wish I could give you a reason why I've been absent here, but there really isn't one. Oh, well, I suppose maybe there are many, but none I feel inclined to share. Sometimes I wish this space was completely anonymous. But it's not.

There are no big bad things going on. Just things. Things I don't want to put out there. Or, more accurately, things I don't want to put out there where people who know me in the real world may see them.

I suppose I could start a new blog, an anonymous one. But I won't. Mostly because I don't feel strongly enough about the unsaid things to do that. Maybe one day I will.


Or maybe one day I'll feel comfortable enough to leave those things here.


Or maybe I'll find other things I need to process and talk about and I'll put those things here.


Or perhaps some new inspiration will have me scurrying back here.


I guess what I'm saying is I think we should all continue to expect this to be a mostly abandoned space.


I feel a little sad about stepping back from this space. But, only a little really. Because, in reality, I stepped back a long time ago. It has been a long, slow weaning process. And, just like when E finally weaned, I have many mixed emotions about it. But the slowness, the gentleness of it, well, it made it easier to be done. For now. Who knows what the future will hold.

So, maybe.

Today's Lesson: Sometimes we lose our voices. It is up to us to find them once more.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Being 8

The kid's birthday was, um, yeah, like almost 2 months ago. But, considering we didn't actually have his actual party til a month ago, I'm not that far behind. Right? Sure, anyway. I'm mostly documenting this for my own benefit. And his, of course.

We decided to make some homemade chocolate candy for him to take to school for his big day. They were super simple and really quite cute. We made robots and dinosaurs in a variety of colors.

This was the first year I've made a birthday cake in several years. Usually, my friend JE makes the boys adorable cakes. But, since we weren't doing the party for another month, we went ahead and had one at home on his actual birthday.

Speaking of cakes, here's the super cute one JE made. I mean, adorable.

The kid loved it, too, which is, of course, the important part.

The kids also had a blast at the party, which was not a surprise since they had free reign at the gymnastic place for an hour. Not that that's enough to actually wear my kids out, mind you. And after the sugar high from the cake and ice cream, they needed another hour to run around.

Today's Lesson: My handsome birthday boy had this lesson to offer in regards to being 8. "Being 8 is incredibly awesome. Even though as an 8 year older you still have to take naps." Anyone who corrects him on that point, has to deal with me and his Poppa.