for sarah



You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.

Teach your children well,
Their father's hell did slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

And you, of tender years,
Can't know the fears that your elders grew by,
And so please help them with your youth,
They seek the truth before they can die.

(counter melody to above verse):
Can you hear and do you care and
Cant you see we must be free to
Teach your children what you believe in.
Make a world that we can live in.

Teach your parents well,
Their children's hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you'll know by.

Don't you ever ask them why, if they told you, you would cry,
So just look at them and sigh and know they love you.

birthday eve

It must have been a particularly hard night. Or maybe a day filled with teething and tantrum-ing. Maybe it was one of those long winter days after the snow has turned from fluffy-white to drudgey grey. Whatever. The exact setting isn't so important. There is no need of a scene to help frame the memory.


"If we make it to five," we whispered to each other over a nodding head, eyes finally drooping in hard-fought sleep. "If we make it to five, all three of us? We can call it a success."

And, suddenly, here we are.

Five.

Almost.

Last week I went clothes shopping for him. Again. We're finally seeing enough cool days to put the short-sleeves at the back of the closet and shift the jeans to the drawer previously occupied by shorts. Josh had gone out one evening and come back with a few long-sleeved shirts and a couple pairs of pants that didn't hit Aaron mid-calf, but we were moving through that rotation faster than I could switch the laundry. So I went out shopping.

I wound up sniffling in the boys department.

Sure, I'm still looking at the XS-S's, but there was something about crossing over that aisle from toddler-to-tyke that felt like I was leaving something very special behind.

And now, here we sit, on the eve of "success".

Please understand. I don't believe for one minute that our job is done yet. I know that we've got many years ahead of us. Negotiations. Frustrations. Realizations, expectations, no-you-can't-stay-out-past-midnightizations. But in many ways, we've come to an end. Reached one of those proverbial forks in the road. It's exciting, sure, but I can't help flipping through the sepia-toned images in my mind and feeling a bit melancholy.

My baby boy,
all growed up.

so... i guess we're off the hook for that puppy?

Boog, what do you want from Daddy and me for your birthday?


Um. Oh, I know! How about a motorcycle?!

Well, that would be a lot of fun, but you have to wait until you're old enough to drive one. We can add that to your list of things you want to do, though. What else do you want?

How about a big water pail that's up on the roof and only I have the password to it and not you and Daddy and there's a big ladder from the sidewalk and then I can go up and when I push all the buttons *chink chink chink* then I can pour the water out and everybody on the sidewalk gets all wet! *wicked laugh*

Hmmm. I was thinking more along the lines of something we can keep in the house. Maybe a toy or a game or some new books? (Daddy chimes in with a helpful "Or new socks or underwear!")

How about a game?

Sure! What kind of game do you think you want?

*big sigh* Oh, never mind. How about some milk?


.

stop. candy time.

Hope you were all properly tricked and/or treated!

a love letter

Oh, Boog.


Where do I start? We measured you the night before last. I was helping you get ready for bed when I glanced up at the door post between your bedroom and your bathroom and saw the mark from last year. 44 inches. When you stepped away from the door, I made you go back so that I could make sure that I hadn't messed it up. Three inches in a little over a year might not seem like much, but all the sudden you were standing there, the tip of your ear just covering the previous year's growth. It hit me hard.

You are getting so big in so many different ways. You no longer need to tip-toe to open the latch on the back gate. You help yourself to water and yogurt and cookies and bananas. You know what you want when the ice cream truck comes around and count out your own allowance to pay for your treats. You insist on privacy in the bathroom and oh! the pride in your face when you wash your own hair at bathtime. You call Daddy at work and leave voice and text messages for him when he's not there to hear about whatever it is that you are just dying to share with him. Most mornings you refuse to get dressed all by yourself -- you prefer to have some company so that we can talk about what you want to do today or what you dreamed about or how your switches need to be flipped so that your systems can start up before you can do anything because your muscles are connected to the teeny-tiny wires inside that are connected to your brain which is apparently connected to a switch that sometimes makes a "blip" sound (sometimes more of a "flick") and is usually located somewhere near your belly button. You are convinced that you are made out of parts and pieces, wires and switches, bolts and screws. You're so convincing that sometimes I make the mistake of calling you "Robot Boy". You're always quick to set me straight. You are just "Aaron".

Oh, but you are anything but "just". You are happiness, you are frustration. You are anger. You are hilarity. You are the purest embodiment of life. Everything you feel, everything you do, it becomes you. Sucked into the great vortex of your intensity, impossible to separate once it creeps too close to your gravity. There is no half measure for you. All or nothing. On or off. You are exhilarating. You are exhausting.

You crept into our room last night, woken by a bad dream. I was on my way to change out the laundry at the time, but you wanted to sleep in our bed so I tucked you in and promised to be right back. It couldn't have taken me more than 5 minutes. I had to stop to catch my breath when I walked back in. Daddy stretched out on his side of the bed, you on mine -- it was almost more than my heart could take in. Everything I love most in the whole wide world in the space of a queen-sized bed. You've got my hair, my eyes, but you are your Daddy's boy through and through. You have his determination, his tenacity. You are always, always, always thinking and when you come up with an answer, you think about it a little bit more, just to be sure. Not to suggest that you are cautious. Oh, no. You jump in with both feet, landing on both feet, thinking on the way down. I worry you with admonitions to be careful, to watch out. You told me yesterday that "the same all the time is boring. And Mommy? Boring isn't how I learn."

You have the most amazing capacity for learning. Sometimes it shocks me just how much you really do know. How do you take it all in? You are moving a million miles a minute and yet you still see-smell-feel-hear-taste everything around you! We can't keep up with your thirst for knowledge. I am convinced that the sole reason you are reading is because you were tired of waiting for me to finish whatever I was doing to read that or that or this to you. Somehow you figured out that all those little squiggles contained the information you were searching for, so by golly you were going to make sense of them. And now we can't stop you. Cereal boxes, street signs, TiVo descriptions, you read it all. Books from my teaching days, intended for my struggling 2nd graders. Last week you counted by 2's all the way to 50, only stumbling on 37 and 39. I got you back on track at 40 and would have helped you the rest of the way, but you held up your hand and said "I can do it all by myself." You've figured out that NE in the car must mean north-east because "N means North and E means East so you just put them together like a compound word." I think I mentioned compound words once a couple of weeks ago when we were trying to figure out why a rainbow is called that. You "administer" medicine to Cookie Monster and Bunny for their allergies. You waited for me "approximately 2 minutes" before you put on your own shoes and "tied" them. We haven't quite conquered the loop-knot-double knot yet, but I have no doubts that had I left them alone, your shoes would have remained firmly on your feet for the entire day.

I crawled into bed beside you last night and you rolled over towards me. I lay there in the darkness, feeling your heart beat next to mine, thinking about the hundreds thousands countless beats we've shared. I pulled you close, aching to capture the fullness that I felt when my body encompassed your entire life. You pushed away and I was blinded with a flash of pain and pride. I am not your everything anymore. You are becoming your own everything at an alarming pace. And yet? I revel in your independence. Your confidence, your passion, your determination, those traits that make it impossible to convince you to just wear your sandals when you've decided that you need your running shoes? Infuriating, yes. If I had a penny for the number of times we've been late because you wouldn't just do what I wanted you to...! Sometimes life would be so much easier if you were more compliant, more empathetic, more concerned with what people around you might think. If only things could be more routine, more expected. More the same. But that would be boring, wouldn't it? And what would I learn from that?

Sometimes it takes physical distance from you for me to be able to step back and really see you. Your life force is too strong for me to pull back when I am with you and I am too easily caught up in power struggles with you. I sometimes think that had I grown up in different circumstances, I would have been very much like you -- head strong, passionate. I understand the rage that you feel when things don't go your way far better than you might believe. Just ask Aunt Sarah. But I learned at an early age that what I wanted and what was going to happen were often two very different things and that protesting was likely to bring me attention of a very different kind than I was looking for. I learned to suppress my passions, to be "nice". I fell victim to the idea that if I could just do what everyone else wanted me to do, that I would be liked and that would make me happy. I learned to be content. And now I am learning that sometimes "content" isn't enough. I never want you to be simply content. I want you to know moments of peace, certainly. But I never want you to mistake complacency for happiness. Routine is comfortable, but routine. The same. Boring.

I carried you back to bed last night, scooping you up in an awkward pile of arms and legs, blankie and stuffed animals. As I pushed open your door, your fingertips brushed against the top of my knee. I put you back in your own bed, wondering how much longer it will be before you are uncomfortable in your own skin, unsure what to do with the length of your arms and legs. I was the tallest girl in my family, always envious of the petite stature of my sisters. Maybe it's different with boys. Maybe you'll escape the awkwardness of not quite fitting into the mold that has been cast for you. I hope so. I pray so. With all my heart and soul and breath and blood I want for yours to be a life of self-assurance. Of self-trust built on a myriad of experiences brought about by trusting your inner instincts to lead you in the direction that you need-want-must go. I hope that your instincts lead you astray every now and again, so that your life will never be boring. I hope that you will look for challenges. I hope that you will challenge yourself, your beliefs. I hope that you will continue to challenge us.

I pulled the covers up to your chin and whispered, "Love you, baby." You stretched out your legs and half-way rolled over towards me. "I'm not a baby, Mommy," you insisted before stuffing blankie back in your mouth and hugging Cookie Monster tighter.

No, no you're not. But I love you just the same.

Can't sleep tonight. Not sure what that's all about, but after lying in bed, fighting it for nearly an hour, I gave up. I had a sudden yearning for a cup of hot milk laced with vanilla and cardamom. Not sure where that came from, but I had all the stuff, so make it I did. A pinch of splenda and two minutes in the microwave later and I have to say it's quite tasty. Kind of rice puddingy without the ricey bits to chew. Cozy. You should try it.

My fingers have been aching to get on here. So much pent up in the lines between my brain and the keyboard that I'm a little afraid to start for fear of not being able to withstand the deluge. Or having the deluge make any sense. Scratch that. That doesn't scare me. If I could type it exactly as it spins by, it would be a mad sort of relief. So much of it gets trapped behind the editing, though. Stuck in there behind the extra words that I spill out here in an effort to clean it up so that it makes sense. It's a throw back to something, I'm sure. 7th grade English? Ms. Messinger would die a thousand deaths need a thousand red pens to make it through just one paragraph these days. Sentences started with no subject, thoughts divided by commas or randomly placed dashes. It's frustrating to read it back -- clunky and incoherent, despite my efforts at clarity. Even more frustrating that in the end my efforts don't come close to clearly conveying what I'm really trying to say. Bah.

Seems like everyone everywhere on the great WWW is closing out the summer. Another throwback to 7th grade. Probably before that, too. What I Did on My Summer Vacation. Time to start sorting through the tank tops and tucking the flip-flops away. Khaki pants and eggplant blouses and semi-sensible shoes in preparation for kicking through the leaves that might start falling at any moment. Of course, we had a rather mild summer and are just now experiencing flip-flop weather with any sort of regularity. But kids are back in school and there's something about seeing brand new shiny backpacks on brand new shiny school kids that makes me want to pull out the spices and flip on the fireplace, 90* outside be dammed. (That's Fahrenheit, just in case you're reading this from anywhere in the rest of the world.) So maybe that's the explanation for the frothy mug of goodness at my side. At this time of night it's cool enough to enjoy the comfort of wrapping your fingers around a warm mug.

Actually, it was quite cool today. By NoCal standards, anyways. I'm pretty much cold all the time anymore. Yes, I've had my thyroid checked. Normalish. There's talk of getting more testing done, but not until I go back to report on the anti-depressant that I finally broke down and asked couldn't find the strength to say no to anymore am trying. Hard to say how/if that's making any difference. There are too many other variables that changed at/around the same time to know for sure. Everything seems to be double-edged:

- Josh finally got finished with the turn-around, so my days of semi-single parenting are done. Having someone to turn to at the end of the day to unload the dishwasher/get the boy ready for bed is a luxury I hope not to take for granted anytime soon. The downside is that I had developed a routine that didn't revolve around him and now he's in my space all the time. We're adjusting. No doubt we'll be fully adjusted when he goes back into turn-around the end of the year.

-I quit coffee. I was down to two cups of half-caf a day, so giving it up really wasn't a huge deal. But maybe it's making a difference in my sleep? Hard to say when I'm only on week 1. It's definitely making a difference in my mornings. I'm lost with out my stumble-out-of-bed-and-down-the-stairs-to-the-coffee-grinder routine. Too much spare time makes me jumpy, makes me worry about what I'm forgetting to do. Mornings aren't supposed to have time for breathing.

-The pain in my hip is at the lowest it's been in at least 5 years. It's been two, maybe three weeks since I woke myself up by trying to turn over. I have mad respect for people who go through physical therapy to recover from major injuries. That shit is hard. True, I'm learning to walk all over again, but for me, it's just a matter of unlearning bad habits. I can't imagine the pain/frustration of starting from square 1 because of something out of your control. On the flip side, the pain and frustration of knowing that I did this to myself because I couldn't see myself as worth taking care of is seriously debilitating. I have no one but myself to blame, no one to "show". The soreness in my muscles echoes the frailty of my self-trust. Both are a work in progress.

-I've been writing and writing and writing and writing through things. Not here, obviously, and not there, but over on my "secret" blog. It's probably not so hard to find if you were really interested in finding it. There's something very tantalizing about writing over there. Sort of like having sex in a public place but only after you've walked as far into the trees as you possibly can go and brought along a big, dark blanket to cover your nekkedness. Oooh, I'm such a risk taker. I've worked through a lifetme worth of anger and frustration and guilt over there. Not that it's gone, but at least it isn't still just rattling around in my head, drowning out every other emotion.

-I've been sleeping better. Okay, so tonight doesn't count, but in general, I'm getting more sleep. Deeper sleep. Probably as a result of all of the above. With the possible exception of the meds. We're on a new track of diagnosis now, working through the possibility that I might be more broken than originally thought. In which case the citalopram is not at all what I need to be taking and could very well be responsible for my sudden lack of focus on even the most mundane of tasks. I'm journaling my moods carefully, since mania doesn't necessarily present itself in loss of inhibitions and exorbitant spending sprees. Could be the irrational bouts of anxiety are what I'm supposed to be looking for. Could be that the irrational bouts of anxiety are because I could potentially be looking for irrational bouts of anxiety. Any way you look at it, it's all in my head. Hah! That's my new favorite joke!

Mmmm. Last sip. Grainy. Bitter. Too sweet. Sort of poetic. A jarring end to a comforting drink; a sudden end to a post that didn't go where I thought it might. Just enough of a jolt to push me up the stairs instead of snuggling down further in the couch cushions. So I guess it all works out in the end.

top ten things I wish I had said

to the biddy at the public pool who decided to take offense at my four-year-old in the women's locker room this afternoon:

10. My child's comfort and safety trump your body image issues and repressed sexuality.

9. He's way more interested in how the automatic shower head works than anything you could ever expose him to.

8. If he's even looking, it's just because he's used to everything he's seeing being a lot younger and tighter. Just sayin'.

7. You're welcome to shower in your bathing suit. Lots of the moms/grandmoms who come in here choose to do that.

6. Really? That's the biggest thing you have to worry about today? Perhaps you need to invest your time and effort into a hobby.

5. I'm sorry you can't shower in the privacy of your own home.

4. You think you're uncomfortable? How do you think I feel having to stand here while your mouth and everything south is flapping?

3. No problem. I'm sure the guys won't mind if I go into their locker room with my 4-year old.

2. You're wasting water and my time.

1. Fuck off, please and thank you. See, son, it's always important to be polite.


Josh says it might be a tad childish to coach Aaron to run through the locker room pointing to and naming all the nekkid body parts tomorrow afternoon...

dear man with the yellow hat,


If we all get food poisoning tonight, it's your fault.


xoxo,
Susan

today was a good day



July 5, 2010
Today I found a message in a bottle. I was so surprised! I am sending my message out so that you will be surprised, too. If you find my message, I hope that you will let me know. You can email my mommy at s.sandn@gmail.com and she will read it to me. I hope your day is very good!

From,
Aaron, age 4
Benicia, CA (USA)


"Hey lady. I'm always thinking of you. I love you and miss you and wish you weren't so damned far away."

It took me a minute to figure out what the buzzing noise was -- too much intermittently buzzing technology 'round here. This time my cell phone left on vibrate was the culprit.

As I read her text, the miles just slipped away and there I was, sipping a cool glass of water from the sink in her laundry room, watching our boys scurry around her living room doing whatever it is that boys do when they get together and find out that although they are a lot alike, they are so, so very different but who cares, let's be friends and look at what I can do! Swathed in the aroma of just enough garlic and butter and easy conversation and comfortable silence. Visceral and heady and overwhelming and heartbreaking and healing all at the same time.

"...How'd ya know I was feeling all alone and lonely tonight?" I replied.

I had spent that morning at the local ER. A scheduled visit to Imaging Services to start the long overdue process of taking care of my chronic hip pain brought me to the waiting room and as I looked around, I couldn't help but feel like I just didn't belong. A young man, couldn't have been a day over 20, came in holding his thumb in place with a blood soaked towel; an older couple mumbled to each other in a language that I couldn't quite make out in the corner. He, in a wheelchair, doted on by the tiny speck of a woman at his side. No obvious signs of trauma. I wondered what brought them in today. Stomach pain? Gout? No insurance? A family of four rushed through the doors, little girl screaming her lungs out. Looked like she had walked into something eye-level and solid. Like a countertop or a fist. My name was called before I could get a good enough look to pass judgement on anyone else.

We all wore the same expression of uneasiness, though. Banded together by dissimilar circumstances that took control of our collective present out of our own hands and placed it squarely in the hands of unfamiliar faces in vaguely comforting white jackets. According to the blue embroidery above his pocket, "Kai" was responsible for exchanging my paperwork for a three armhole gown, leading me to the changing room, and then through the x-ray procedure. In half an hour I was back in my own clothes, images of parts of me sent electronically to be interpreted by the orthopedic surgeon I had yet to meet. Down the hall, out the door, across the parking lot, into my car, and driving away, all with minimal interaction.

I paused at the crosswalk to let the family of four pass. Little girl now sedately holding onto mama's hand, gingerly poking at her eye with an icepack. Bee-sting? I could afford to be more generous now that the adrenaline of the unknown was no longer pumping through my veins. Grandma waved a "thank you" for my patience as they all crossed, never raising her eyes to mine. My own eyes darted quickly away when the boy-man with them glanced unexpectedly in my direction. As if direct eye-contact would somehow oblige us into further association. As if further association would somehow breakdown the semblance of control I was working on projecting.

Alone. Of my own choosing, mostly. Josh is in full turn-around mode, leaving the house before 6:30 most mornings and slipping in just as we sit down for dinner. Aaron is at "school" on Mondays and Wednesdays, has swimming lessons in the evenings MTWTh. By bedtime he is exhausted. His social needs are met, requiring little-to-no interaction on my part. Just the way I hoped it would be. His days with me are days of quiet. Just the two of us, running an errand or two, hanging out in the backyard, making this or that out of bits and pieces of stuff and things. Public school is out for the summer, so no "forced" weekly involvement from my volunteering gig. I do have a contact list of people that I could call if the mood strikes. I'm anxious when the phone rings lately, though, preferring the edit-ability of a text message or email. Preferring, in fact, the brevity of 160 characters to the unlimited conversation of email. My words fail me more often than not and it is comforting to have the option to go back and rework them if I get them wrong the first time.

"I miss you too and daydream regularly of being home so we could bump into each other. Someday soon, I keep telling myself! How are you?"

Home. I've lived in a lot of places during my 34 years on the planet. Some of them longer than others. I was barely pregnant when we moved there, farther away from my (biological) family and its culture than I had ever been before. By all expectations, I should have been scared and lonely. I was neither. I was excited. Invigorated. Delighted by the new. New sounds, new sights, new smells, new faces, new ideas. I couldn't take it in fast enough. Thirsty, aching for more. Filled. Fulfilled. Comforted. Contented. Home.

"I'm psycho. Er... psychic. I pray that [josh's work] closes everywhere but here so that you are forced to come home. (That's not a joke.)

I'm okay. Overrun these days, but I'd be bored if I wasn't, I guess. How are you?"


"Trying to slow down a bit. It's harder than I thought it would be, though. I kinda miss having 14 things spinning out of control all at once. The weather is perfect for taking it easy, though. Why don't you pack a toothbrush and the boy(s) and come and hang out in my backyard for a month or so?"

Slowing down. Trying to be more specific, more mindful. More engaged in the present. Quieter. Less caught up in all the peripheral stuff that seems to attach itself to the present. I wonder if it wouldn't be more fulfilling to return to the days of waiting for responses by mail. To force a pause in the conversation, diluting the emotion of the moment. To have that time of silence to reflect and build anticipation. Even in texts and emails, I crave the silence that comes between responses. Silence = not having to worry about what I said or how I said it or what was heard and how it's going to be interpreted and relayed to the next person. Not having to worry about how or who or what or when even if it's all there in black and white, each word carefully considered, shaved, and straightened to convey exactly what I want it to. Silence = stillness.

But sometimes stillness = voices. Voices of condemnation, of "you should be...", "why aren't you...", "why didn't you...", "are you ever going to...". Harsh and relentless. Voices from my past that have grown in number and strength in my unsuccessful efforts to please everyone else and do/be/say/think what was most comforting to them. At those times, the silence is overwhelming and I miss the misdirection of engagement in anything, everything else. I miss the quest for cleaner, leaner, faster, wittier, [ ]-er, [ ]-est, most, better, best.

"I know that feeling. Like 14 spinning things was the factor that made me special and different from the masses..."

Oh! How I've yearned to be unique! To be separate and unequal and remarkable! To be necessary and irreplaceable! It is in those moments that the silence is most deafening, that my failures are most vivid.

I wanted to respond "Yes, exactly! Once again, you've taken what's been floating around in my brain and put it into words! There is no way to describe the comfort that it give me to know that you've felt that way too. That I'm not alone." But I'm still a bit timid in this friendship. I fear coming across as a chameleon, spouting back whatever words I heard last. Or, even worse, as pandering. Instead of reaching for a deeper connection, I stepped back into the realm of banter. Inquired about her job. Remarked on the time. Surface conversation. And in that moment of cowardice, the connection was broken. Focus blurred and we were suddenly an entire continent apart again.

A slightly smaller continent apart.


.

holy. wow.

Grab a box of tissues, click on the post title, then hold on to your seat.


If reading through message threads isn't your thing, MotherJones pulls the story together quite neatly. (Hard to believe that it's) hard to believe this kind of thing still happens. Amazing what a few concerned individuals can do when they take the initiative.

Once again I am slapped upside the head with the realization that I need to pull my head out of the "it's not my place" sand more often and get involved. Somehow, somewhere. With something. Anything.

Simply inspiring.


elaboration -or- more about something i've already talked to death

Dear Sister,

(In my blog post) I hastily tossed out words, trying to capture a snapshot of what I was feeling at that instant. I wish now that I had been more deliberate, had taken the time to elaborate more fully. That’s what I’ll try to do here. Bear with me, please. The original post is indented, my explanation of each part below.


I try to figure out when it all started. Maybe the key to the end lies in its birth. Birth. Heh.
I am often guilty of following rabbit trails: The word “start” leads me to the word “end” which makes me think of “death” which somehow leads me to the word “birth” which I associate with the birth of my son. I usually recognize that the connections I make aren’t necessarily obvious but all too often I fall into the trap of assuming that everyone else thinks the way I do and that I don’t need to explain what the fuck I’m talking about for others to get the full picture. It certainly sounds like I am blaming you for my depression. I am not.

Four and a half years later, I'm still resentful.
I am resentful that my memories don’t live up to the Madonna and Child image that I had envisioned. I wanted so much to be that “natural mother”. To be bathed in an ethereal glow with a choir of heavenly angels singing “hallelujah” as I gazed tenderly down at the babe at my breast. I am resentful that no one bothered to share with me that it just isn’t that way all the time. That I’ve had to spend so much time wondering what was wrong with me, why I was such a failure when in fact that isn’t the case. The horrible truth is this: Motherhood sucks. Literally. It sucks away at your very soul. It leaves you grasping. Gasping. It keeps you up all night and makes you want to bury your head under the pillows in the morning. No matter how detached you try to keep your own baggage, it keeps spilling all over your best intentions and all those things that your brain and heart and gut tell you not to do, you find your very innermost primal instincts urging you to do. It's not about me or my pride, you tell yourself. But it is, oh, it is. It's not deliberate, you remind yourself. But it feels so calculated, so determined.

Spoil or stunt. Hover or disengage. Coddle or break.

You bounce from one extreme to the next, hoping, praying that it all averages out to some sort of balance. You hear the voices, that nonstop chorus made up of well meaning sisterneighborfriends cutting you down, shaking your already pitifully unbalanced house of cards. Maybe she's right, you think. Or she could be right. She could be onto something , you think, but that totally negates what she saiddoesthinks. You’ll never be the best at this rate. Although, really? It's not the best that you’re even shooting for. You’d be more than happy with good enough if the line of good enough would stop drifting. Sometimes you wonder if you've ever seen it at all or if you're so far away that you've really just been chasing a shadow. Maybe you're headed in the wrong direction altogether. When do you know for sure? And when is it too late to turn around and start over? No one ever mentioned that side of it. No one ever hinted that while there are blessed moments, motherhood is too complex to be simply defined as a blessing. I'm resentful that such a big piece of the picture was glossed over so easily.

Angry. Furious.
I am angry that I was so caught up in how it was “supposed to be” that I tried to force it into something that it could never be. Ours is not the close family of sisters sharing shopping trips and cruises. Even if proximity would allow for that kind of involvement, I don’t know that we would have that kind of relationship. There are no Rockwell paintings depicting the American Dream that include a family that is really three different families bound together by common genetics. Of siblings spanning close to two decades with god only knows how many foster children thrown in to fill in the gaps.

I am angry that others encouraged my delusions of there being A Way. I am angry that I was not respected enough to be given the benefit of the doubt that I might know a little something about what was best for me. Hopes and dreams are not one-size fits all -- how short-sighted of me to think that there might be a single path to reach them. That what you/she/he wants/needs/sees would be the right fit for me and that I was somehow faulty because it wasn’t. I am angry at myself for not being a better advocate for myself.

Of all the times to choose to voice your "concerns".
In the middle of an already emotionally tense time, you said some things that were thoughtless. “Thoughtless” meaning not fully thought out. I believe you when you say that your intention was not to hurt me. I believe that your motivation was to be genuinely helpful -- to encourage me to consider things I might not have considered, to play the “what-if” game because you believe(d) that I could have a happier, fuller life if I were to make different choices. Your timing sucked.

Seven (whoops, eight) plus years we'd been married and in all that time, you never said a word. You never once acted like there was anything about him or me or the two of us together that bothered you until the three of us sat down to order Chinese the week before our son was born.
And I was naive enough to believe that just because you hadn’t said anything to my face, you didn’t have a problem with some aspect of us. Nevermind that you and I had spent countless conversations discussing the shortfalls of the relationship of others. Yet another thing I wish I could undo -- all that time wasted on putting others down to pull myself up. It’s beautifully karmic, I suppose, that it turns out that you were engaging in the same kinds of conversations about me.

I don't even remember who didn't get what. I just remember the grilling in the days following. Having to explain, to defend our relationship. Doing everything in my power to prove to you that my decision to marry him was acceptable on the eve of giving birth to his son.
Why, oh why, was your approval so important? I hate that I was so insecure in my own choices that I felt compelled to find a way to change your perspective. I guess the good that came out of it was that in the long run I rediscovered what it was about my marriage made it work so very well for us. I’ve played those conversations over and over in my head, recognizing more clearly each time what it is about Josh that first drew me to him. And? I’ve come to the conclusion that if I had it to do all over again? If something were to happen to him and me, and I were in the position of looking for someone else? I’d be looking for someone just like him. We’re not perfect, but together? We’re pretty damn good.

Those seeds of doubt that you so carefully sowed? They took root fast and quickly began to choke out every remaining blade of self-confidence. Pestilence. Soul-sucking. You were supposed to be there to support me. You cut me down at the knees and I've been questioning my every move since.
You did not cause my depression. Some toxic combination of personality, circumstances, and perspective put me where I am today. Possibly some genetic predisposition. Your poor timing simply served as the catalyst to get the ball rolling. Postpartum hormones, the exhaustion that goes hand in hand with raising a small child, a limited support network, not recognizing in time that these things were not normal and that I wasn’t, in fact, somehow broken because I couldn’t manage them all on my own -- too much everything and nothing at the same time, that’s what pushed me over the edge, headfirst into a spiral of hesitancy, guilt, and self-doubt.

You ended your phone call to me by saying that you would always be available if I needed you. But the thing is, I don’t. I don’t need you. It would be comfortable, enjoyable to have a great give-n-take kind of relationship with you. But it is not necessary. Our lives are not intertwined in such a way as to make it necessary. This is not yours to fix and you can’t help me with it. This is a journey of self. Self-discovery leading to self-assurance and, hopefully, culminating in self-reliance.

I am sorry that I angered and embarrassed you with my post. It was thoughtless, immature, and cowardly for me to call you out in a public forum without first approaching you privately. I recognize and accept that our relationship has been irrevocably changed as a result of my actions. If there is something that I can do to repair your feelings, I will do so happily and willingly. I will be more respectful of your feelings in the future, bringing any grievances to you before sharing them with others.

Because my offense to you was public, I feel that you are due a public apology. I will send this to you first, privately, then publish it to my blog. It is yours, of course, to share it as you see fit.


.

did i tell you about wednesday yet?

One of Dr. R's favorite ways to pass the time while I am snuffling incoherently on his couch is to ask me questions intended to get me to be more reflective and less reactive. At least I think that's the purpose. Maybe he's just trying to distract me so that I will STOP. WHINING. ALREADY. Last session he kept asking me "But who is nurturing you?" I rattled off the poor souls who are currently being sucked dry because they haven't yet had the sense to run away or pretend they aren't home when I call this person and that person and her and her and him and threw in her for good measure. Don't want it to seem like I'm over burdening any single person, now do I. He nodded, as he does when I've given him an answer but not quite answered the question, but didn't push it. Which was odd because he's nothing if not pushy. But we were nearing the end of our session, so maybe he just didn't want to get me started again. The tissue box was getting dangerously low. "Allergy season" and "therapy" must ring beautifully in the ears of KCWW, Inc shareholders. But I digress.

On my way home I was struck with the realization that I didn't, couldn't, count myself in that list. Blah blah blah, epiphany, blah blah, resolution, blah blah blah, squared my shoulders and decided that needed to change. If I'm going to have a chance at beating this monster, I probably better start taking better care of myself. Better sleep, better food choices, more sun and exercise, etc. And topping the list, being a little less rigid with myself. Yes, the kitchen floor probably does need to be swept daily, but it's probably not going to catch on fire if I wait until after I've had my coffee. I am not a horrible lazy slob because I choose to eat breakfast before cleaning out the litter box. That sort of thing.

I did pretty good with it through the end of the week and then through the weekend. By Monday morning I was almost reflexive as I shooed away the muttering gnat that wanted to remind me that it was 10:30 and all I'd done was put together a (rough) blog post that I didn't even take time to re-read and edit before publishing. Sloven. Shoo, shoo. Go away.

Tuesday = more of the same.

I'm pretty anal careful about the amount of screen-time that I get when Aaron is home, though, so Wednesday morning looked decidedly different. Balancing what needs to get done with what won't make me pull my hair out because he's along is sometimes tricky. But the service bell in the Jeep had been dinging for almost a week and mygod the buildup of bug-guts on the front of the poor thing! So off we went for a day of car maintenance.


It was bright and sunny, the perfect day for plunking in coins and pressure washing things off things, so our first stop was the car wash. An hour or so later and we were on our sparkling, spot-free, debugged, vacuumed, and freshly squeegeed way. Next stop? The local auto shop, aka Aaron's very most favorite place in the whole! wide! world! The guys at the shop love Aaron because he's cute and precocious and uses words like "transmission" and "axle" and "ignition" (mostly) appropriately and has told them every time we go in there that when he grows up he wants to be a m'canic because it's the coolest. He loves it there because they like to show him the POWER TOOLS! and POWER CORDS! and LIGHTS! and SWITCHES! The cars are UP IN THE AIR! There's GREASE! and DIRT! on the floor and no one is chasing around after them making them sweep up their messes and sighing big sighs because OMIGOD AARON I JUST WASHED THAT WINDOW PLEASE STOP LICKING IT.

All of that and an oil change for the low, low price of $39.99. Wednesday was shaping up to be a pretty easy-going day.

As I was paying for the babysitting oil change, one of the guys came in to the front office and asked me "Is that red Jeep yours?" Certain that he meant "shiny, pristine, what a great job you've done of maintaining it, I've never seen one in better shape" red Jeep, I replied with an enthusiastic "Sure is!" To which he responded "Yah. Well, you've got a a pretty big rats nest up under the hood. Might wanna get some rat poison. Those things like ta eat through wires", calmly shifted his toothpick to the other side of his mouth, patted Aaron on the head and headed back out into the shop.

I briefly contemplated whether or not it might be just as appropriate to light the whole fucking thing on fire and start over with something, oh, I don't know, WITHOUT A RATS NEST IN THE ENGINE? Sadly, we'd never make it home in time for lunch on foot, so I signed the receipt for services rendered and headed for home.

We parked the Jeep at the curb. A short 3-block walk away.

Nap time was spent typing in one variation of "how to get rid of rats in your engine" after another into Google. Nap time was cut short because OH MY HOLY FUCK THERE IS A RAT'S NEST UNDER THE HOOD OF MY CAR, THE VERY CAR THAT WE HAVE BEEN PARKING IN THE GARAGE THAT IS ATTACHED TO MY HOUSE BY A DOOR THAT SEEMS ALTOGETHER VERY INSUFFICIENT CONSIDERING THERE IS A RAT'S NEST UNDER THE HOOD OF MY FUCKING CAR!!! A trip to the car dealership Home Depot suddenly seemed far more pressing than encouraging the boy to have some quiet time.

We perused sprays and powders, baits and traps, and finally came home with a bottle of granules guaranteed to encourage the little critters to rebuild somewhere else. Josh disposed of the nesting material when he got home and then I burnt the gloves he used and made him bathe in bleach before letting him back in the house. We sandbagged liberally sprinkled the perimeter of the house with the granules and sprayed the engine down with gasoline and put a for sale sign on it sprinkled it as well. After a night at the curb to dissuade any little critters from returning to the garage if they insisted upon returning to their former digs, the Jeep was reinstalled on the far side of the garage, as far away from the door to the house as I can possible park it with out taking out the wall in it's rightful place beside Josh's car.

I'm totally okay with having to climb over the console to get out. Sometimes a girl has to be flexible like that.


.

For me, the hardest part of writing has always been coming up with a way to start. I generally know where I want to go -- which witty little anecdotes I'll throw in along the way to keep the journey lively and what my big close will look like. I've always been proud of my writing; invigorated by the way the words just seem to wrap themselves around each other, painting a picture. Whether or not the reader sees the same picture remains blurry and vague and somewhat inconsequential. It's been a long time since I had a paper returned to me, marked up with suggestions for improved clarity and punctuation. My (appropriate) use of punctuation is abysmal. I tend to write the way I speak and I'm never quite sure if I just said a comma or if that was just a breath so I could keep going.


I write, in general, for me.

And yet? I still struggle with where to start. Which is what I'm doing right now. Waiting for some bright epiphany to pop free from this (edited) stream of consciousness. I envy (?) admire those writers who can sit down and let their thought flow unedited from brain to keyboard. I've tried that a time or seven. Instead of lyrical, breathing rhythms, I stutter and stop. My flow is too viscous. Thick with extraneous bits and pieces that don't really belong but got stuck in the mix. Gloppy.

In one of my eleventy billion drafts I wrote:

I wish I could take you on a tour through the inner workings of my mind. I wish I could take a tour through the inner workings of my mind. I'm not really sure what exactly goes on in there, but we would all need ear protection and there would be absolutely no way anyone could board the tram without signing a waiver re: injuries due to not keeping hands and feet safely inside the tram at all times. There would also need to be something about "participating at your own risk. Management does not assume responsibility for any lingering emotional or psychological trauma blah blah blah".

I like the way that feels. I like the way it starts, hesitantly, then starts again, a fun-town train pulling into the station and heading off again, pointing out the main attractions as it chugs along. Chug-chug-chug-chug-chug. Chug-chug-chug-chug-chug. Chug-chug-chug-chug, chug-chug-chug-chug, chug-chug-chug-chug, WOOO-WOOOO. I feel strong, proud, exhilarated when I read it. I can taste the salty popcorn air. I can hear the whir of the Ferris wheel just getting ready to start up. Draped in bold, albeit, frighteningly dark colors, it comes alive to me. I created it. I just don't know what to do with it.

So it sits in my draft folder, waiting for something to come along and make it whole.

That's where I sit today. Waiting for something to come along and make me whole. Waiting for a good way to start.

I'll go back to therapy a week from Wednesday. Maybe we'll talk again about medication, though that scares the living bejeebus out of me. Too many horror stories about what can go wrong if you get hooked up with the wrong chemical combo and quite frankly, I'm not sure I have the time or energy to be patient enough to look for the right one. Then again, maybe I'm so completely average that anything will do up to and including a better multi-vitamin. Right now I'm going to grab my iPod and go for a walk. Vitamin D is good for the psyche, right? Turn the music up just loud enough that I'm forced to sing along. Wear my sunglasses so that I can pretend not to notice the sideways glances that are probably all in my head anyways.


.

I thought I had neglected this space long enough that I would be posting essentially anonymously again, so I was somewhat shocked by the handful of emails I got in response to my last post. The free version of Sitemeter that I've been running must only list certain types of visitors, keeping full disclosure for paying members. Whatever. The bottom line is that I thank each and every one of you for taking the time to reach out to me.


Amy and Lora - your (public) comments mean more to me than I can find words to express. It frightens me to think how dark and bleak this journey into motherhood and self would have been without the two of you quietly shining as beacons of support and strength through time and distance.

Those of you who emailed me privately, I'll respect your choice of keeping our conversation between us. This is not a comfortable subject. I'm only beginning to come to terms with it and I can only begin to guess at how awkward it must feel to have to brush shoulders with something so undefinable, unfixable by conventional methods.

My (current) theory is that this depression breeds and flourishes best in hidden places. In the dark it feeds on itself and grows uncontrollably. I'm going to do my best to keep pulling it out from the dark recesses where it curls itself. I understand if it makes you uncomfortable. I understand if you stop coming around here. I don't know that I would have been able to post if I had known you were still hanging around in the first place.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm not afraid to talk about this and I don't need to do so in hushed whispers. I'm not looking for pats on the head or to be treated with kid gloves. Anything I write here is merely an attempt to figure it out for myself. Stay, go, ask, advise, whatever. Wrestling this leviathan has me a bit preoccupied.

Sorry. I'm putting this all badly. I don't mean to sound so dismissive. I'm just trying to get a handle on this thing that I can't quite define. Where it begins, where it ends, how many heads it has. It's like stabbing in the dark at jello -- was that resistance? Did I land a blow or glance off the edge or just miss it altogether? By the time I can wriggle around to cast a light on it, I'm not sure if I'm even looking in the right place.

I didn't know. I don't think I did, either. Depression is kinda of quiet like that. You always seem so happy. I'm not UNhappy. I'm not drowning in pools of my own tears. I don't break down and sob uncontrollably at the side of the road. I smile. I laugh. I just don't seem to be able to hang onto joy for longer than a few seconds at a time. So in control. Sticking to a schedule and DOing things is much easier than FEELing things. Lists can be made, boxes checked off and the results are tangible. Justifying time spent in my head is much harder. Why didn't you tell me? It's hard to admit to being broken. If you push the sharp edges back together really tightly, you hardly notice the cracks, anyways. I'm still not certain that I can stand up to the scrutiny of your love and concern. I there something I can do? No. Yes. I have no idea. I will try really, really hard to ask for help if/when I figure out what "help" is. Let me know if you need a break. I need a break. Can you turn off the endless loop in my head? I can take Aaron for an hour or two if you need me to. I can't decide if it's better or worse to be on my own. There's still too much to sort out for me to even know where to begin. Sometimes it's easier to just shut the door on it and focus my attention elsewhere. 4 year-old boys are awfully good at creating distractions. Don't take him for me. Take him for him. Are you going to be okay? Yes. I don't know what "okay" means right now, but I am most definitely going to be whatever it is. Someday. Soon. For longer and longer stretches at a time.

Maybe it would help to have a picture of my depression. My depression is unsure. Ambiguous, ambivalent, conjectural, dubious, erratic, fitful, hazy, hesitant, iffy, incalculable, inconstant, indeterminate, indistinct, insecure, irregular, irresolute, precarious, questionable, risky, unclear, unconfirmed, undecided, unfixed, unpredictable, unreliable, unresolved, vacillating, vague, variable, wavering. My depression is phobic. Afraid, anxious, apprehensive, discomposed, disquieted, disturbed, frightened, irrational, jittery, jumpy, nervous, neurotic, panicky, scared, shy, skittish, tense, worried. My depression is intolerant. My depression is angry. My depression is relentless. My depression is overwhelming. Looming. Bewildering. My depression is exhausting.

I am so, so, so very tired.

.

[deep breath] here goes

Um.


Hi.

Sorry, I'm kind of nervous. I'm not sure how this is supposed to go.

My name? Oh. Sorry. My name is Susan. Do I wait for you all to echo that back? [nervous laugh]

Sorry. I know, I'm not supposed to keep apologizing. Sorr... um, yeah.

Anyways. My name is Susan and I am depressed.

It's been just a little over 72 hours since the good doctor actually said the "d" word. I don't know exactly how long which is a little odd for me since I'm usually so quick to start up a chart or plan or list to deal with "new". Collect data, analyze, fix. Nice, neat, tidy, and ever so efficient.

"Functionally depressed." I don't even know if that's a thing, but there it is. Does that mean I'm functioning okay, then? I'm up in the mornings, dressed, the boy gets 3 squares + 2 and plenty of face time. He giggles and plays and explores and pushes the boundaries. The laundry is done; there are no science projects growing in the back of the fridge. The bottles of wine we moved from PA are still collecting dust, minus the 2 we shared when the playdate crew came over. The bills are paid. I'm carefully online for no more than 2 hours each day.

It kinda threw me when he started talking about actual medication by name. Lexapro, I think. I wasn't really listening. Something about minimal side effects and talk it over with your PCP, whatever that is. I meant to look it up when I got home but I guess I got distracted.

That happens a lot, lately. The simplest of tasks loom over my mornings afternoons days because I simply can't remember if I ever started them and, if so, what part did I already do? Should I just start over? Focus, Susan, focus! How many dirty dishes do you have to pull out of the dishwater before you figure out that you forgot to run it last night? Run it again already.

It's the voices, I think. All those angry, disappointed voices. It's hard to stay focused in the face of all that annoyance. They're right, you know. I have nothing to not smile about. My life? As good as it gets. It's wasteful, this aching sadness, this longing, this utter lack of fulfillment. Greedy, greedy makes hungry puppy, they chide. Chin up! Tsk, tsk, tsk. What more could you possibly want?

I have no answer. It's not more that I want. It's not less, either. It's not that or those or red or shiny or or or. I can't define it. And since I can't define it, I do my best to square my shoulders, dust off the grimness of yesterday and face the new day head on. But it burbles up, this malaise, rising unbidden as I stare, unseeing at the contents of the refrigerator. Now what was it we were going to have for lunch? It's a relief, really, those days when I remember that he's at school and I only have to fend for myself. Bowl of something leftover, nuke it for 1 minute 45, grab a fork and down it goes. It all tastes the same, anyways.

I try to figure out when it all started. Maybe the key to the end lies in its birth. Birth. Heh. Four and a half years later, I'm still resentful. Angry. Furious. Of all the times to choose to voice your "concerns". Seven plus years we'd been married and in all that time, you never said a word. You never once acted like there was anything about him or me or the two of us together that bothered you until the three of us sat down to order Chinese the week before our son was born. I don't even remember who didn't get what. I just remember the grilling in the days following. Having to explain, to defend our relationship. Doing everything in my power to prove to you that my decision to marry him was acceptable on the eve of giving birth to his son. Those seeds of doubt that you so carefully sowed? They took root fast and quickly began to choke out every remaining blade of self-confidence. Pestilence. Soul-sucking. You were supposed to be there to support me. You cut me down at the knees and I've been questioning my every move since.

Sorry. I got a little wrapped up in that. I know I'm not supposed to blame. That's a long ways from acceptance, isn't it? Looking to put someone else in the hot-seat to take the focus off me? An old habit. Always wanting to be recognized, but terrified of being noticed. This is mine. My disease. Wherever it started, it's mine now. Mine to come to terms with. Mine to understand and define. Mine to work through. That's healthy, right? Own it before it can own me. If I'm not already too late.

What's that? My time is up? Oh. Okay. Thank you. Thank you all for listening. Thank you for not asking me how I'm feeling.

Numb, if you must know.


.

iWent.





iTapped.





iTilted.





iTyped.





iQueried.





iPondered.




iWandered.



andThen?





iStumbled headlong into a table filled with MacBook Pros and fell instantly in love and brought one home with me.


iPad?




i'mSorry.

.

test

Looks like I'm just an iTouch post away from jumping on the Pad-wagon. Crossing iFingers and iPublishing now...

it figures

Guess who decided to be proactive re: the whole dropping of the nap thingy?

Guess who decided to get up extra early to get a head start on all those things that are usually taken care of during naptime?

Guess who planned FUN! ACTIVITIES! for the time formerly known as "naptime"?

Guess who had it all worked out so that we would have that done and be on our way to this place and subsequently arrive at that place on time, except we need to be at the first place in 10 minutes for any of that to happen?

Guess who is napping today?


Is it wrong to want to poke your sleeping child the eyeballs?

.

waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!

Translation: The Nap is dead. Long live the Afternoon Rest*.

Alternately: What the f*ck is Mommy supposed to do when her head starts to feel like it's going to explode and there is no grand, glorious, sparkly, shimmery blessed beacon of peace and quiet in the not too distant future?

Or, In Other Words: How much longer until Kindergarten?

Also: Don't tell me to enjoy this time, it's going to go by so fast and then I will miss it or I will be forced to POKE OUT YOUR EYES WITH A RED-HOT FORK.

And: No, I am not excited that I will have my afternoons free from having to get back home in time for nap. Quite simply: If he's not sleeping, neither can I.

*Hahahahaha a ha ha ha. Let's just not even pretend that there will be uninterrupted moments of quietly reading books in bed as we "rest". Unless the current definition of rest is "jumping madly on the bed until that gets boring and then moving onto jumping from the dresser to the bed and then from the bed back to the dresser ending only with the total loss of parental sh*t and/or a trip to the emergency room".

legacy

I took Aaron to the pediatrician this morning -- a follow up to the follow up to his annual appointment back in early December. At that time I had brought up my (slight) concern that he sounds stuffy all the time ("Mommy" sounds more like "Bobby") and frequently snores. It probably doesn't help that he keeps that damned blankie shoved in his mouth at night, but that doesn't explain why he doesn't seem to hear the subtle differences between "m" and "n". So I brought it up. I also brought up his "itchies".

He was diagnosed at his very first well-baby checkup with a mild case of eczema and at the time, that pediatrician explained to us the close connection between allergies, asthma, and eczema. With that diagnosis, our sensitivity trifecta was complete. If you've spent more than 5 minutes around me and we've come within 200 feet of a flower, you know which one I have. I remember 60% of summertime as a child through a Benadryl induced fog. The other 40% I don't remember at all because that sh*t knocks me out cold. Josh has asthma.

We were actually pleased, all things considered, that Aaron's predisposition leaned toward something we could deal with topically*. And his case was so very mild that we were pretty lax (read: I think we bought the lotion) about the whole treatment thing. He did get a bath every night for the first two years of his life (suggested so that we would remember to apply the lotion every day. As I said, he got a bath every night...) and we were always careful about lotioning up when his skin seemed dry and we remembered where we had put the lotion. So, yeah. Definitely easier to manage than inhalers/pills/shots.

Anyways. Back to December. As the doctor got out her little flicky light to look in his various orifices (orifi?), I mentioned the itchy/snory/nasaly talking stuff. So she took a look. Might be allergies, she thought, but didn't feel confident with making that the official diagnosis since she couldn't see past the earwax in his right ear. Do you know how bad of a mother you have to be to allow your child's earwax to build up to the point that the pediatrician is visibly disgusted? But, damn it, q-tips are evil! She sent us home with instructions to use drops to clear the ear (the only one ear thing still puzzles me, but I can't argue -- I saw the crap that drained out of my poor baby's ear after using those drops for a week) and the recommendation to start him on a half teaspoon of cetirizine hydrochloride (Zyrtec, OTC) once a day, then come back in a month to see how things were going.

Fast forward to a week and a half shy of a month later. Aaron's getting dressed one morning (taking longer than usual, if that is even possible) and he keeps stopping and holding his head in a funny position. "Shhh, Mommy. I'm trying to hear but there's a bubble in my ear." To my credit, I immediately though "ear infection". I was plagued with them as a child (or at least that's how I remember my childhood winters. Is it any wonder that fall is my favorite season?), so I asked what I thought were the sensible questions (Does it hurt? no Is it a ringy sound? no Does your throat hurt? no) and took his temperature. No fever. As we were tying up his shoes, he exclaimed "There! It popped! Now I can hear EVERYTHING!" Ah. Problem solved. Probably just a drop of water. Why it didn't occur to me that water from his bath the night before shouldn't still be in his ear, well, see above where I discuss being this close to having my mommy card confiscated re: earwax buildup. Instead, I just smiled at not having to deal with something else on a morning that we were already late for school and hurried him downstairs for a healthy breakfast (Carnation instant + a banana, no doubt).

A week and a half later, the Dr. pulls out her little flicky light to check his various face holes. Throat and nose peeks still lean her in the direction of allergies, but let's check the ears and hey! Looks like this child is just getting over an ear infection! In both ears! Has he complained of any pain? no No fever? no Wellllll, looks like his body was strong enough to fight the infection off without antibiotics which is what we'd prefer to see, but there is still fluid in there so we can't really get a good picture from which to assess whether or not the allergy meds are making any sort of a difference. But we're still leaning that direction, so come back in two weeks. In the meanwhile, let's add in a dose of fluticasone propionate (Flonase) to see if we can give his system a boost with whatever else it is trying to clear.

Fast forward to last Thursday (8 days before today's follow-up). Guess who wakes up with sniffly and congested? Who comes home from school all pissy and complainy (well, okay that's fair. Who besides me?) and has started intermittently hacking into his elbow? Who's cough has become so bad by the weekend that he's waking himself up in the middle of the night? And who's mommy decides to "give it a day or so to work itself out"? (In all fairness, by Sunday night the cough is much better and he is back to sleeping through the night, lumberjack-snores notwithstanding.) On Tuesday I'm in "he's already got an appointment on Friday, so no need to panic, his snot isn't that green" mode. On Thursday afternoon it (finally) occurred to me that this "cold" might interfere, yet again, with our as yet unassessed allergy trial. Too late to call in and move the appointment, of course.

So. I took Aaron to the pediatrician this morning. Little flicky light confirms that the nose and throat are dealing with something non-allergy related and possibly some underlying allergy related stuff. Ear still has fluid. This time she described it as "thick orangey fluid". Is it wrong that my mind immediately went to "Orange Julius"? And then she asked him to take a few deep breaths while she listened to his lungs. And then she asked him to pretend to cough. Which he did, except he didn't pretend. And then she asked him to stand on the ground while she listened to his lungs because "it helps them take deeper breaths because it opens up the lungs". And then she asked him to sit back down on the table and wait for Joanne to bring in the nebulizer machine. And then he had to hold that tubey thingy up to his mouth and breathe in all that fine misty medicine for 6 minutes which at first he thought was "cool because it's just like the medicine that W has to do at school and Miss K won't let me watch because that might make W embarrassed to have me watching him take his medicine" but after about 2 minutes it was more like "how much longer do I have to hold this thing and keep breathing and why is 4 more minutes such a LOOOOOOOOONG time". And then she still couldn't hear what she was listening for or maybe she heard exactly what she was listening for but was going to give us a chance to get clear out of his lungs before she sent us home with $100 worth of prescriptions for inhalers with scary sounding names like ALBUTEROL and FLOVENT and also for a spacer chamber and a mask to make sure that he is breathing in every chemical particulate because MY GOD WOMAN, YOUR CHILD IS WHEEZING. Also, a prescription for a 10-day course of penicillin which, by the way, he could likely have an adverse reaction to because his mother is extremely allergic to penicillin but because he's never been prescribed antibiotics before and therefore hasn't had an allergic reaction to any antibiotics, this is where we will start him but please keep a careful watch and call us immediately if you notice a rash or any other reactionary indications such as difficulty breathing but we hardly expect you to notice that one given the state that you let your child get to this time. Also, please bring him back on Monday for a follow-up visit.

It's early to draw the conclusion that he has asthma. Not that my mind hasn't already jumped there and set up camp. There's the possibility that it's "asthma-like symptoms" brought on by seasonal allergies/respiratory stress and we'll only have to deal with it on a once-or-twice a year basis. God knows, asthma has done little to slow his father down. So it's not a life sentence even if it turns out that he has to start "managing" his respiratory health before he starts kindergarten. But it sucks and I hate it and all the guilt-driven "what could/should I have done differently" paths that my mind insists on exploring. I keep flashing to images of my little baby lying there in the NICU, so strong, so big, so healthy, so mysteriously unable catch a full enough breath minutes after he was born to clear him to go home with us that very first night. All these other little babies around him so much worse off that I couldn't very well ask "why me". Couldn't very well whine to the mother who had spent the last 3 months driving back and forth every single day to spend time with her new baby girl during "visiting hours". Couldn't very well cry on the shoulder of the parents of the little one so fragile that you had to use those special gloves built into the sides of her "crib" to touch her. Everywhere I look, someone's got it worse. And yet there it is -- the anger and frustration of not being able to shield him from pain and discomfort crushing my own chest, constricting my own breathing.

I'm going to be a basket case when he goes to pick out his first pair of glasses. He is totally f*cked when it comes to the vision genes.


*Yes, yes, I know that eczema can be as frustrating to deal with/treat as either of the other two, but in his case we were looking at having to buy and remember to slather on unscented lotion after each bath. Totally doable.


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well, the hoodie was scratchy. plus, i couldn't find a frame that fit my face


I've spent the majority of my free time this week frantically typing out some of the pea-soup that, in my head, passes for thought. Trying desperately to make sense of my feelings re: political correctness. 2000+ words later and still only about halfway through, it occurred to me that I was writing more of a manifesto than a post. So I'll sum it up this way:

Be respectful.

Think first, then talk/act.

Treat others the way you would want to be treated.

Does it really take that much more energy to use the phrase/label/title that someone else has chosen as least offensive when referring to him/her? We each face our own limitations. Wouldn't you like for others to see you (or at least refer to you) the way you see yourself? And so what if it does take a little more time, a little more effort? Aren't we always complaining about the pace life seems to be moving at? Maybe if we'd all pause for long enough to really get to know the person we are talking to/about, we could dispense with the labels altogether. Seems like this world could really be a better place if we'd all try harder to just get along.


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pov*, I suppose

Checking through my email just now, I found this gem:

I know some of you have seen this on my facebook status, but I wanted to share it with those who haven’t. I only wish I could take credit for it, but I “borrowed” it from a friend. I simply can’t get over the truth it holds while at the same time causing me to chuckle out loud each time I read it!!

Hope it makes you chuckle/think too!!

Love y’all!! EE

The attached quote:
"Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rabidly promoted by an unscrupulous mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a turd by the clean end." - Unknown

My response:
Certainly made me think and what I came up with was this: Somewhere, someone had to be the first person to look at that thing that had just fallen out of a chicken's butt and think "Hmmm, I wonder how this tastes fried?". Perhaps it is impossible to pick up a turd by the clean end. I'd rather get my hands dirty, focusing on the possibilities that I might uncover than hide behind the relative safety of the status quo.


It's really all in how you look at it, isn't it?


*point of view



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good morning, indeed

If you've spent more than 3 seconds with me, you know I'm a creature of habit and it should come as no surprise to learn that we have a specific routine that we go through most mornings. I say most because although Mama likes her routine, there is nothing quite as unpredictable as a 4 year-old with his mind made up to do things his own way, whichever way the winds of preschool rationality might be blowing at that very instant. Mostly we deal. Boundaries and structure and expectations, oh my! keep us more or less within the box of normal-to-us (aka that comfortable zone wherein Mama doesn't freak out too much).

Most mornings look like this:

Josh gets up and the countdown begins. Sometimes I'll get another 3 minutes, sometimes another 15 before I hear the unmistakable smwoosh-smwoosh-smwoosh of footy pajamas scuffling across the carpet. On a good (dry) morning, I can pull up the covers just enough that Aaron can scoot in and then we have a 5-15 minute snuggle before he can't stand it anymore and then we're off and running. Other mornings involve a jammy -n- pullup change first and then all bets are off re: snuggle time. Josh leaves, we get dressed, breakfast, blah, blah, blah, morning routine, Mommy why does (this) and where does (that) and how do (those), and then it's lunchtime. Unless it's a school day and then there's a whole 'nother set of possibilities. But for the most part, there's comfortable regularity. And regularity, much like my morning cup of coffee, is critical for setting the tone for a day of general happiness and unburned dinner.
There are, however occasional exceptions. This morning looked like this:
Josh got up and left for work early. 45 minutes later, smwoosh-smwoosh-smwoosh, butt pat to check for dryness, covers lifted and snuggling denied with a sweet little whisper: "Mommy, I don't want to go to sleep again." Whaa? "Mommy, I want to make breakfast." Ugh. Well, he did go to bed early last night and didn't eat much dinner. He probably is hungry. "Okay, Bug, what do you want for breakfast?" "No, Mommy, I want to make breakfast. For me and you to eat in your bed. Are you hungry for breakfast?" Awww! "Sure, Bug. You know what sounds really good? How about a banana?" "And, and a cookie?" "Ooh, that sounds delicious! Go grab a banana and a cookie and we'll have breakfast in bed." Shweew! If I find PBS or Nick Jr. before he gets back up here, I can snooze for at least another 15 minutes before he runs out of banana and cookie. Glad Josh made oatmeal cookies this weekend. That's practically the same as cereal, right? Now where is that remote... Meanwhile, downstairs, I can clearly identify the sound of the cookie jar lid being set on the counter top. Seconds go by, then hmmm. Was that the sound of refrigerator door opening and shutting? Metal crashes against metal. Crap. I better get down there. Silence. A little too silent. Door/drawer slams. Cookie jar lid again... this is taking far longer than grabbing a banana off the cabinet and one cookie should. Where are my socks? Brr! It's cold out here. Better grab a sweatshirt, too. Joiiiing! What is he doing down there? Oh wait, here he comes. Stomp, stomp, stomp, smwoosh-smwoosh-smwoosh "Here's your breakfast, Mommy!"
Banana and cookie, as discussed. No, it's not a fancy oatmeal cookie.
Probably no nutritional value to it whatsoever.


And inside?

That's one carefully cut apple (incisions courtesy of his butter knife),
and four blueberries (that's two for you and two for me, Mommy),
generously drizzled with honey.

"But it needs to be cooked, Mommy. Remember? I'm the chef. I'm the one who makes things. But you are the cook. So let's go cook it. Come on, Mommy."

So we did. And let me tell you, it was delicious.


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resolutions: less

  • Less "never" and more "better late than". Just because I didn't get the thankyou's out for Aaron's birthday doesn't mean you don't deserve one. Is there a tactful yet endearing way to grovel?

  • Less "yes" to everybody else so that I have more time available to say "yes" to my Most Important People. **MIP status subject to random and arbitrary change at a moment's notice, highly dependent on what I'm being asked to do and whether or not I like your tone.

  • Less reading between the lines. I'm horrible at guessing games and even worse at drawing. Drawing conclusions is a guaranteed disaster and even if I get it right, I don't usually know what to do with it. If it's that important, you'll eventually come out and say it.

  • Less gossip. If I wouldn't say it with the person present, it's not worth saying.

  • Less time spent asking questions that I already know the answers too. Especially when I know those answers are just going to get me riled up. I'm not going to change your mind and I'm fairly comfortable with the way mine is fitting right now.

  • Less MeTime = Me+TechnologyTime. More often than not I'm on here to escape my status by checking on yours. Messy things tend to happen when I'm focused on what you're doing instead of watching where I'm going. Messy, messy things.

  • Less in my mouth. Less on my hips. More (time) on my feet.

  • Less talking. More listening. Even if no one else is talking. Especially when no one else is talking

  • Less stuff to sort. Physically and mentally. Use it or dump it.

  • Less watching. More doing. Even if I do it badly.

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blips

Mommy, I am going to make you my famous peanut butter and jelly water now.

Mmm, that sounds delicious.
Yes, it is. And it is very hard to make.
It is?
Yes, it is. It is very hard to make because it is water. So it doesn't have very many 'gredients. So you have to get it just right.
Thinking: Hmmm. Seems like someone else had a similar problem once. Except that wasn't about making something else into water, that was about making water into something else. So this is kind of the opposite. Hey wait, does that make my kid is the Anti-Christ?
Aloud
: That does sound difficult.
Thinking:
I just mentally compared my kid to the Anti-Christ. And it didn't really phase me. What, exactly, does that mean?
@@@

Yesterday I received that horoscope email that's been making the rounds. It begins:
AN ACCURATE 2010 HOROSCOPE
This is the real deal. Try ignoring it, and the first thing you'll notice is having a horrible day starting tomorrow morning . . . and it only gets worse from there.
Then
(blah blah blah a bunch of stuff about everyone else blah blah blah)
AQUARIUS - Does It In The Water (Once. Didn't like it.)
Trustworthy. (Sure!)
Attractive. (Thanks!)
Great kisser. (Well, I wouldn't be the one to judge.)
One of a kind, loves being in long-term relationships. (I guess 14 years counts as "long-term.)
Tries hard. (Too hard, some would say.)
Will take on any project. (Yup.)
Proud of themselves in whatever they do. (Say what now?)
Messy and unorganized. (Wait, I think I might have skipped a line... Is this still Aquarius?)
Procrastinators. (Got me there.)
Great lovers, when they're not sleeping. (...)
Extreme thinkers. (And hence the therapist.)
Loves their pets usually more than their family. (Mmmm, no. Or, poor family if that's the case because the poor cat has been on a steady diet of "just enough attention so that she won't poop on the carpet" since the kid was born.)
Can be VERY irritating to others when they try to explain or tell a story. (Dear god,yes. I annoy myself when telling a story. Tangent, anyone?)
Unpredictable. (Probably not as much as I like to think I am.)
Will exceed your expectations. (Depends on where the bar is set.)
Not a Fighter but will Knock your lights out... (More than likely because I was trying to be cool and toss something nonchalantly across the room to you.)
2 years of bad luck if you do not forward. (Come on now, who believes this crap?)
And so I casually hit the delete button. But not before I read the "bottom line"
1-3 people= 1 minute of luck
4-7 people= 1 hour of luck
8-12 people = 1 day of luck
13-17 people = 1 week of luck
18-22 people = 1 month of luck
23-27 people = 3 months of luck
28- 32 people = 7 months of luck
33-37 people = 1 year of luck
38 and more = a very lucky life!
...and forwarded it to three of my alternate email addresses because somewhere in my brain it made sense that although I don't for a second believe that I might have bad luck for breaking an email chain,maybe I do believe it a teeny tiny bit and just in case I should probably send it along to the minimum number of people necessary (although now that I look at it I could have gotten away with just one of those email addresses since the actual bare minimum is 1). You know, because the internet won't know that those addresses are all mine and then I've technically followed the instructions even though I didn't really. And now, guess what? I'm stuck in an endless loop of my own illogical making because when I checked my email this morning? I've now received that email THREE. MORE. TIMES. So now I either have to really ignore it or go on and do something about it and this could very well be what it meant when it said "it only gets worse from there".

You aren't laughing at me, are you?

@@@

My siblings and I draw names at Christmas time.

Each year a different sibling has the responsibility of drawing and notifying the givers/recipients of their respective names.

I drew the names for 2009.

I posted the necessary information on our family blog. In March.

In October, I began my normal Christmas shopping routine. That is, I began thinking that I should probably start thinking about what I was going to give the sibling I had drawn for myself to give to.

In November I began bugging my little brother about what he would like for Christmas. He emailed me back with a fabulous little list of his top wants.

In December I pulled out his list, crossed my fingers that I still had time to get a package to Afghanistan before Christmas, and crossed him off my list.

Everyone had a very merry Christmas. Including my younger sister in Indiana. The one who I was supposed to be sending a Christmas gift to this year. Hey, sis, how does Christmas in late January/February sound to you?


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