Monday, November 05, 2012

Toddlers Are Not for the Faint-hearted

3 days of keeping the 7 year old at home because of a scratched cornea, resulting in 3 days of non-stop arguing and screaming between her and the toddler --- and you just want to run away and join the circus.

So you take the afternoon off - invite their BFF for a play date, ask the nanny to watch over them for a few hours, and retreat to your room for some "me" time and old episodes of No Reservations.

An hour in and there's screaming again. You tune it out, immune to the sounds of children playing/arguing and the slaughter of innocents. A couple of 7 year-olds burst into your sanctuary and start screaming and talking at decibels that have been know to render certain species deaf - and you listen with half an ear (with the other half still tuned to your show). The toddler walks in wailing. You look in her direction, ready to dismiss the crying as the result of another failed attempt at world domination,  when you notice the blood dripping out of her mouth.

There's blood. And there's a lot.

Your heart jumps to your throat and decides to stop beating.

But you calmly walk over, pick her up, and try to get her to stop crying long enough to assess the damage.

You see it's a big cut on her inner lip, from where her teeth cut into the flesh when she had fallen off the bed while playing with the other kids.

You wipe off the blood. You tell the nanny to go get some ice (any excuse to get her out of the room before you decide to throw your laptop at her for taking her eyes off your kid long enough for this accident to happen). You tell the other kids to go back to the other room (crazy rubberneckers). And you rock the still wailing toddler, while whispering the inane nothings that mothers say to soothe their young.

She stops crying. You get some antiseptic mouth wash, put some on a q-tip, and approach with caution. You know it's going to hurt. She knows it's going to hurt. But you clean the cut any way. And she let's you.

Without a fuss or complaint, eyes scrunched shut - you meet the bravest person in the world. And you know that part of that bravery is because she trust you. Implicitly. Even with the pain, she knows that what you're doing is something that's good for her. She just knows.

And you try not to cry, in the face of such bravery, and trust, and unconditional love.

Crazy thoughts run in your head:

Cancel plane tickets.

Stay home.
Fire nanny.

Buy plastic bubble.

The ice comes. You tell the nanny to watch the other kids ( anything to get her out of the room before you decide to take the kiddie scissors on your bedside table and stick it in her eye). You put the ice on her lip, and apologize for the discomfort that's about to come.

And she looks at you and says (with the lisp that you secretly hope will take a while to go away) - "ith okay Mama. You chis and make feel better."

And the tears you said you wouldn't shed, because you don't want to scare her, they come. 

The crazy thoughts become a hamster on a wheel inside your head: Cancel plane tickets.Stay home.Fire nanny.Buy plastic bubble.Cancel plane tickets.Stay home.Fire nanny.Buy plastic bubble.Cancel plane tickets.Stay home.Fire nanny.Buy plastic bubble.Cancel plane tickets.Stay home.Fire nanny.Buy plastic bubble.

And two minutes later the toddler shoves the ice aside, yells: "I'm ok! Guys! Guys! Get out of my woooooooom!" and runs away to go terrorize the 7 year-olds yet again.

Your heart start beating again. It's still in your throat, but at least it's beating again.

The hamster inside your head gets off the wheel, but it's still thinking crazy thoughts.

And you wonder if it's possible to stuff a small 2 year old into your carry on luggage.

2 Years

I woke up this morning and lying in bed - watching you sleep - it only really hit me then. You really are 2 years old already.

And my heart broke a little.

Every day you're a little more independent. Every day you need me a little less. And one day, you won't need at me at all.

So my heart breaks.

With every new word you learn. With every new skill you acquire. With every inch you grow. You grow away from me, and into yourself.

So I hug you tight, bury my face in your neck (that still holds so much of your sweet baby smell), ask time to move a little slower. Be mine for a little longer.

Happy Birthday Olivia. 


I've got a few posts on my Facebook blog that have never made it here. So interest of keeping this blog "current", I'll be reposting them over the next few days.

Hopefully this will encourage me to blog a little more, and watch TV a little less.

Here we go.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

You Know You're A Mother When....

In timely fashion, I'm dedicating my first post (after a 2 month hiatus) to all moms for Mothers' Day.

Yes, yes - I can spend the first couple of paragraphs explaining my sudden drought of posts (not that I was that prolific in the first place) but can I just sum it up in a few succinct words? Moving houses. No maid. No nanny. 2 small children. Just me.

Get the picture?

Moving on....

Earlier this evening I woke Olivia from a deep sleep, knowing full well a) that she didn't get a good nap this afternoon, b) she was extremely tired and cranky, c) that she might not go back to sleep after. I woke her up because I wanted her to drink some milk. Because I was worried that she'd only had 16 ounces today and didn't meet her usual 24-32 ounce quota. And that she didn't have a good lunch. And only a so-so dinner (even though she did eat a big bowl of sautéed squash and rice. And 2 glasses of chocolate milk. And ice cream.)

I was worried that she might be hungry. Or worse, that she might become malnourished.

Of course anyone who has ever met my hoover-vaccum-cleaner of a two-year old knows that's impossible. But I woke her up anyway. Because I'm a mother and that's what we do - worry excessively and create impossible situations for ourselves. (Thankfully she quickly downed the 8 ounces I was force-feeding her and went right back to sleep. God, I love this kid!)

It got me thinking of the things we do as mothers (or at the very least, the things I do as a mother) that only mothers can, or are willing to, do.

So here's my list of things I know I can do that I'm pretty sure my husband can't. I know I'm a mother because:

1) I can pick up someone else's poop or wipe off someone else's pee/vomit without getting grossed out/fainting/puking/calling the CDC.

2) I can read Goodnight Moon and Hooray for Fish out loud, 8 times in a row, in one night without killing myself or someone else.

3) I can see myself picking up an 8 year old kid by the scruff of his shirt and beating the living crap out of him for hitting my daughter. (I wouldn't do it of course.... but I can certainly see myself doing it)

4) I can sweep the floor with a baby attached to my hip.

5) I can maneuver a stroller, a diaper bag, a hand bag, 2 large bags of groceries and a baby (who refuses to sit in the damn stroller) through the mall all by myself.

6) I can multi-task to the point where I would put CEOs to shame (run laundry, feed kids, check homework, cook dinner and watch Bloomberg all AT THE SAME TIME).

7) I can carry an informed and stimulating conversation about the merits of Adventure Time vis a vis your standard cartoon shows and why Barbie is the best friend a girl can have. Ever.

8) I can sing the theme songs to at least 8 different children shows.

9) I can imagine (easily) giving up my life for someone else's. Literally and figuratively.

10) I can put someone else's needs before my own.

Who knew I had it in me?

That P&G ad had it right: The hardest job in the world, is the best job in the world.

Now if only I could find a way to get paid.....

Thursday, March 08, 2012

A Woman of Power

In celebrating Women's Day today, a lot of people have been asking what the definition of an "empowered" woman is. The hell if I know. If someone does manage to nail the definition down, please let me know.

Growing up I always thought I knew what an empowered woman was not. That was my mom.

Yes I love my mom. I love her deeply, with all the Elektra complex/teenage angst/conflicted relationship feelings that come with a mother-daughter relationship.

When I was really young I loved her unconditionally. I followed her around all the time. Picked flowers for her. Drove myself crazy trying to do what would please her. I loved her as much as any 6-year old child could love a parent.

But as I grew older my feelings for my mother became more complicated.

I questioned why she should have so much authority over me, considering it was obvious that it was my father who ran the show - both in and outside of our home.

It bothered me that her career - was taking care of me and my brother and sisters. I felt that outside of our family she had no life. Her life revolved around taking care of our house, taking care of us kids, and taking care of my dad. And I always asked myself - how could that be enough for her? Didn't she want more out of her life? Didn't she think she deserved better?

When I was in my late teens to early twenties it got to the point, and to this day I cringe at myself whenever I remember, where I looked down on my mother. On days when I would be angry with her (and those days were very frequent back then) I felt that she was just a few notches above the household help. I was a tremendously pompous asshole, and to this day I feel bad for every time I made her feel that way.

In those days I thought I was just, to paraphrase an old co-worker, the shiznit. Whatever that means - I sure felt that way. And I would constantly tell my dad that I would rather die than grow up and be like my mother. I was going to grow up just like him - a master of the universe. I would be "the man". I promised him that I would never get married. And even if I did I would never have kids. Because kids would drag me down, hold me back.

I would look at my mother and tell myself: "there's no way in hell I am going to spend my life taking care of other people, and putting their needs before mine. I am more important than that. People are going to have build their lives around me, and not the other way around."

I would watch as my mother kept our house spotless, prepared home-cooked meals, made curtains and table cloths (yes, my mother sewed our curtains and table cloths. She even sewed our pj's as kids. She could've given Martha Stewart a run for her money.) --- and I would think --- what a waste. She went to college for this?

I was such a jerk.

As I got older I learned to be kinder, if not more tolerant of my mother. It helped that I had gotten married and lived away from home.

Then she got sick.

And everything changed.

12 years ago she got diagnosed with Progressive Supra-Nuclear Palsy. It's a rare neurological disease that slowly robbed her of the ability to move, the ability to eat, and the ability to speak. It has even robbed her of the ability to blink.

It is a thief that stole a little bit of my mom each year, until there's barely any of her left.

And it has taken me 12 years to realize, and appreciate, what a wonderful woman my mother is. And how much I have wronged her, and failed her as a daughter.

The start of her disease marked the start of my own journey towards motherhood. I met John the year she was diagnosed. And in the course of these 12 years I have built my own family. Had the children I swore I would never want. And discovered how much of my mother is in me. And how much more of her character I wish I had in myself.

More and more I wish I could be the woman my mother was. Be the mother she was to me to my own kids.

I will never be half the home-maker she was. I will never be as great a cook. I will never have the patience, strength and energy she had that got her through raising 4 kids --- hell, I struggle daily with the 2 I already have.

And I don't think I will ever have the grace and love that she showed me whenever I said or did something bad to her. All the times I made her feel little -- to make myself feel bigger.

Would that God bless me with even a measure of that grace, love and forgiveness that my mom constantly showed me.


Every couple of months my mom has a nasty bout with pneumonia brought about by her condition. May be once year the doctors will ask us to sign a document that says we authroize them not to revive my mom in case she codes. And they ask us to say goodbye.

And every time they do, I tell my mom how much I love her. How sorry I am for every time I hurt her. That I appreciate, now more than ever, every little thing she ever did for me. And that she is the best mom anyone could ever ask for.

But the words, they ring hollow to me. They ring hollow to her, because we don't even know if she can still hear us. And even if she did, I don't know if she still understands. But I say them anyway. Because I'm hoping that she does. I'm hoping that her spirit is free from the cage that is her body now --- and that wherever that spirit roams --- it hears my words.


As of today my mom's been in the hospital for almost a month. She came in with pneumonia, suffered a heart attack, was put on ventilator and we were told she wasn't going to last the week. They told us to say goodbye.

5 days later she was off the ventilator, she was kicking the pneumonia on its ass and was out of the ICU.

3 days later her pneumonia came back (with friends), she was taken back to the ICU and put back on the ventilator. She presented with a 40 degree fever that wouldn't go away despite the fact that her body was wrapped in a thermal blanket that was set at 4 degrees. It was hinted that she might not last the weekend. And that may be we should say goodbye. Again.

4 days later she's out of the ICU, her lungs are clear, the pneumonia is gone, and she breathing room air. She's not even on assisted oxygen! Just room air.

I'm not sure it that qualifies her as an empowered woman, but it certainly proves that my mom is a woman of power.

So I celebrate her today.