Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
This post is in response to the theme of the week, over at Mama Says Om, a collective blog I enjoy reading and hope to participate in occasionally. Each week they pick a theme and ask Mamas who "blog" to explore that theme in writing, art, photography, or whatever medium moves them. This week's theme is "grace".
There, but for the grace of God, go I.
I wrote a little while ago about a blog I ran across called sweet/salty. It’s the writings of a woman like me, who has a wonderful husband, and a sweet young son. When she tried for a second child (hoping for a girl), she was shocked, like me, to find herself pregnant with twin sons.
She wrote posts about cravings, and the excitement of the pregnancy, coming to terms with more boys. Things I could relate to. Things I went through.
Then our lives diverged. I could no longer relate, or even imagine what she must be going through. Her sons came too early. My sons, too, came early. Her sons came on the cusp of the ability to survive outside of their mother.
My sons spent three weeks in the hospital, in an isolette. Her sons will spend months. My sons were tiny at four pounds. Her sons are half that. My sons needed oxygen for a few hours and a feeding tube for a few weeks. Her sons have had brain hemorrhages and heart surgery.
She writes that she is swamped in darkness and guilt, yet has moments of humor that make me laugh out loud. Her strength in the face of this is astounding, and her stumbles are heartbreaking. She gets angry, she feels responsible at times, she still sees the humor in things around her, she takes joy in watching her healthy son be himself, she breaks down, she gets back up and she just goes on. And she is able to express it all, in writing, with such grace.
Grace I do not think I could muster. And it could so easily have been me.
My sons. My life.
I look at my life and get angry at some of the things I have lost. Freedom to have a long talk with my husband, to spend time alone, to give each child all the cuddles and touching they need. Because there are two, we can’t afford the babysitting costs, and are constantly stressed and tired. Because there are two my husband and I have lost some kind of connection… not lost it completely, but its buried under the toys, and the dirty clothes and the diapers and the food on the floor. Because there are two, my oldest often gets pushed aside, told to wait, told no, told I can’t right now. Because there are two, there is always desperation and noise.
But there are no crutches. No wheelchairs, no monitors, no tubes, no shots, no guilt, no wondering “what if”, no mourning for what could have been.
I want to write to her sometimes, to give support, to say I am like you. To say I understand. But I could never understand. I am not like her.
I am lucky. I am blessed with health for myself and my family. I can only lurk, and read her words. And admonish myself when I begin to think that it’s all too hard. Too much.
I read her words, and turn from the computer and see my life differently. She gives me strength. She has gifted me with grace.
Sunday, May 27, 2007
I told a few people that my cat, Hailey, who was nearly 19 years old, died recently, just before we moved into this, our new house. She didn’t die exactly, I chose not to have her revived. This was an awful, awful choice to make.
I discovered one day that her toenails were curling under into the pads of her feet. Upon taking her to the vet, I was told that she needed to be sedated and have them pulled out of the pads and clipped back, and bandaged, and also that she had severe periodontal disease. She would need at least three teeth removed at hundreds of dollars each. Also, because she was no longer grooming and shouldn’t be forced to, being suddenly toothless, she needed to be shaved to have her mats removed from her undercoat.
She was my trooper. Two days after moving into my first apartment, I got her as a paranoid little kitten who was scared of everything, even me. She lived under the bed for the first three weeks I owned her and only came out at night. She did that at every home I moved into for the next 18 years. But other than that, she was my buddy, my partner, through boyfriends, apartments, college majors, 6 or 7 cross country moves, a marriage and children.
She was prissy, and pretty, she was afraid to walk on soft things like couches for about 10 years and then changed her mind. She loved cheese and could smell tuna through three closed doors. She once caught a black mouse and looked like Adolf Hitler when she held it in her white mouth. She battled a snake that found its way into my bathroom, but was afraid of her own shadow. She wasn’t a cuddler but loved me dearly. She bumped her head into you when she wanted something. Her fur was white and she had a raccoon tail, the map of North and South America on one side, and a broken heart on the other.
On her last trip across America, we almost lost each other in Las Vegas. At 18, she bolted out of my room unseen, as I came in the door, talking on the cell phone, bragging about how lucky I was (at the slots). Within 10 minutes I could tell she was gone, and after looking in every nook and cranny I went outside to meet a man who told me he had seen a white long haired cat slinking against the wall past an industrial warehouse next door. I walked the streets of industrial backroads Las Vegas until midnight and was up the next morning begging to look through people’s garages. The next day I was supposed to head on to my family in California, but I couldn’t leave her there, in the heat of Las Vegas summer at 18.
After hearing my story, a nearby innkeeper offered me a free room so I could keep looking and I did. In nearly constant tears. After I packed up from the first motel, she had turned around and actually headed back to the room. I think she got back in because the maids had the doors open all afternoon while cleaning. I begged them, in sign language and broken Spanish to let me look in all the open rooms, and there she was, under the bed, back in my first room!
She never had the greatest quality of life after Noah was born as she was very leery of him. He was rough with her as a toddler. Just as she started getting used to him, the twins came along and she became nocturnal. She slept under the bed all day, and came out after they were all put to bed. But because our days started so early, I only saw her for 10-30 minutes a day as she was emerging and I was going to bed. A quick pet and then goodbye. She was back in hiding by morning.
And then the vet was on the phone telling me that no, she needed to pull about 6 teeth, the molars would be about 200 dollars or something more than the little ones. And at least one of the toenails had grown into her bone and she would have to have the toenail completely removed, and it would cost more, and be more painful and it would involve forcing her to take medicine drops. While shaved naked. And I would have to force these drops ito her during those few minutes we still spent together, when she was out from under the bed before I went to sleep, before she spent the evening alone in the dark.
It was the money and the cruelty factor. They were all standing around her, ready to move on if I so wished. Or we could just stop. But I had to decide right now, on the phone. While they waited in their masks and scrubs, scalpels and dental wrenches in hand.
I said no. Let her go.
The last time she was awake, I was across town. I didn’t get to hold her while they put her down, like I imagined it because she was required to spend the night to get the antibiotics and fluid before surgery. And I couldn’t come to be with her because I was home with the twins, and Michael had the car with the car seats that one time. The last time she was awake, she had spent the night in a cage with strangers around, in a sterile scary place. After all she gave me, this is how I had her leave the world.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
My old friend Karin knew just the place to take her. I didn’t want to cremate her or put her in one of those creepy pet cemeteries. I wanted to put her back in the earth. Karin took me, with the box that held Hailey, and a shovel, some flowers and some incense, to a winding road that led down to the Pacific Ocean. We ducked into a little forest cove, just past where she had buried her long time buddy, Ziffle.
I dug until I got a good deal of my anger and guilt out, and then she dug when I was too tired. And I took her out of that box that once stored cat food, and I placed her down in the earth. We covered her. No, I was the one who covered her. I placed a big rock on top because Karin had lost track of where exactly Ziffle was after a few years. She had brought a book of poetry and read some after lighting some incense. We put some flowers there, and I told Hailey I was sorry a few hundred more times.
Karin and I walked down to the beach. Unlike most area beaches, this one was secluded and surrounded by immense cliffs. A great V-shaped canyon view of the mountains and ocean just beyond for Hailey to look out over. What we thought might actually be a bald eagle flew over. One had been spotted in the area a few days prior. We watched the waves and talked about our old friends, our pets. And then we walked back up the hill.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
This Memorial Day weekend, Karin invited me on a walk, back to that same beach. I checked in on Hailey. Her grave is undisturbed and natural looking on the side of a creekbed. But I am thinking about her constantly again.
I haven’t written here in four days, and this might be too long for many people to read, but this isn’t for you. This is for Hailey. This is my Memorial to my "fallen comrade".
I loved you Hailey. Thanks for the years. I am sorry the end was not what we had imagined for you. The last couple days, the last couple years. Thanks for sticking it out with me, though.
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
1) Look at clock and wonder if I can make it to the grocery store by naptime.
2) Decide to go for it.
3) Change two diapers.
4) Find two jackets to disguise two snotty, drooly baby shirts.
5) Load one kid into the car.
6) Discover second kid has pooped again, change third diaper.
7) Load second kid into car.
8) Make a quicky sandwich to eat on the road because the three cups of coffee I had for breakfast are not being agreeable.
9) Drive down the block.
10) Go back for the overdue library videos.
11) Drop off videos at Library.
12) Follow directions to Henry’s, a cool whole foods market that might have the special ingredients I want for dinner.
13) Find that the directions lead me to a closed Henry’s store.
14) Drive further away to one that I know is alive and open.
15) A mile away from the store, look back and see one baby has already dozed off.
16) A block away from the store, look back and see the other baby has dozed off.
17) Decide if I want to go to the store with two sleeping babies for 45 minutes, and then have them be awake and cranky all day, or just go home and put them to bed and have good long naps, and time to get OTHER things done. (Yes, it works that way.)
18) Turn around and go home with no groceries.
19) Wonder if I can go get groceries with the babies, after nap, before dinner time.
20) Decide to go for it.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Monday, May 21, 2007
After breakfast, we packed up and went to the parade. Where our home is situated, we could just walk over to the parade route with the stroller. The local band played, the Shriner’s drove their silly tiny cars around, and every scout troup and sports team marched and threw candy to the kids. Noah came home with a bag big enough to rival his Halloween stash.
After lunch and naps, we headed over to the community park, where there was a Barbecue, and a band playing good old rock and roll. Noah loved the games set up for the kids as well as the jumping room and huge playground.
To top off the day, there was a fireworks show. Today was the babies’ first parade as well as I can recall and definitely their first fireworks show. Luka thought they were pretty cool. Ethan watched but kept his head firmly on my chest and white-knuckled my jacket. He whimpered quite a bit but did not cry.
We all had a really good time, and for the first time, I think, with the whole family out and about, it actually seemed manageable! I think the babies are finally getting to an age where they have fewer meltdowns, and more fun. I am hoping this means we can do more things as a family rather than our old method, which was basically, “you go do something fun with Noah, I will stay home with the babies”.
Its time to let the babies have a little fun.
Sunday, May 20, 2007
The other night I took Noah to see his very first play. It was Peter Pan, at the library, presented by a touring troup of TWO GUYS who performed almost all the parts themselves. They pulled some kids out of the audience to play some of the smaller parts. Noah had a blast.
A couple nights before, I got Noah to sit down and watch the Disney Cartoon version of Peter Pan with me so that I could explain everything in the story, to make sure he followed what would happen in the play.
I hadn’t watched the movie in quite sometime. And I realized a couple things… one, it is not that great of a story… (Cliff’s Notes version is that Wendy, Michael and John go off to Never-Never Land with Peter. Hook kidnaps Tigerlily, the Indian princess, to find out where Peter’s lair is. He rescues her. Hook kidnaps the lost boys and the three kids. Peter rescues them, and the three kids go home. The end)
The other thing I realized is that the real subtext of Peter Pan is about Wendy, really, not about Peter or the boys. In the beginning, her father thinks its time she stop living in the nursery with the children, and that she move into her own room. When she goes to Never-Never Land, it’s the boys who never grow up there, and they take Wendy along JUST to be their mother, and to remind them what a mother is.
During her stay there, she mothers the boys, keeps them safe, and when they start to forget about home she teaches them about mothers and caring, and family and comfort. When she gets back home to her father, she tells him that she is ready to grow up and move out of the nursery.
In a way, I could really relate. I spent most of my adult life (21-36) doing whatever I wanted to do. Playing, traveling, having adventures. Not the pirate life, but a fun life that could turn on a dime if I so chose. I think my last adventure was going to Thailand with Michael on our Honeymoon.
But after becoming a mother in the land of little boys, just like Wendy in Never-Never Land did, I had to really put my priorities right and step out of the nursery. Mothering became the number one role in my life. Wife was second. Adventure girl came third.
I miss Adventure Girl and hope one day I can take my boys (all four of them) with me on some good trips that we can all enjoy together. Until then, I am Wendy, trying to keep them all safe on their little adventures. In their own little Never-Never Land.
Second star to the right. Straight on till morning!
Friday, May 18, 2007
I feel like their moon,
Guarding o’er their cribs at night.
They are my bright sons.
This is Mama Love:
Cupped hands, running to the sink
Caught all your vomit.
Sleep, Sleep, Come on Sleep
They finally let me sleep
Stomping through the swamp
In the land of little boys
Toys to trip me up.
Well-behaved twin boys.
It’s much too quiet in there.
Wait, this can’t be good…
Reaching for the sky…
Found you both on table top
Chandelier like stars!
Last weekend, Michael had to work Saturday and so was given Friday off work, and he and I went shopping with the babies, looking for things for the house. Noah was in preschool. I found this great sale on colorful flowers and got way too many to fit in my window box, in red, purple and yellow. They, too, have been sitting around waiting to be planted.
The other day, while Luka slept and Ethan toddled around the courtyard, I finally planted that window box, and its just SO PRETTY!
Ethan, who is a born Zen master of gardening, realized right off that there were just too many purple blossoms to be perfect, so he picked ten or twelve of them right off, handing me each one in succession until he felt that there was perfect balance and symmetry.
We were very pleased with our results.
Thursday, May 17, 2007
I just wanted to say that some of you have been commenting in the wrong places. I mean, its a free country and all, but the way my template is set up, it looks like there are lines separating each blog entry.
In truth, there are lines separating each entry from comment button. I understand the confusion completely but I am unable to move your comments to the appropriate places. I think you can delete your own comments. Or ask me to, and I can delete them. And then you can re-comment elsewhere.
But its been happening a number of times.
To Comment: Push the Comment Button at the bottom of each post, below the line. I changed the phrasing to say, "comment to above post"... or should it be "comment to post above"?
Sometimes I am just completely at my wits end. Its just too much to handle and I get so jealous of those Mamas with one or two kids, who can easily find a babysitter, go get a gallon of milk, find time to clean the kitchen... I feel so sorry for myself.
And then I stumble on a story like this and I just want to get down on my knees and thank God, the universe and everything for every little tantrum, for every late night vomit clean up, every "poop-out" and broken dish. Thank you thank you thank you for the health of my children.
I am so blessed. So very, very blessed.
Wednesday, May 16, 2007
The Blower's Daughter:
Monday, May 14, 2007
Sunday, May 13, 2007
You know what's odd....
I have only had this blog for a couple-few days and when I am just browsing the Internet, looking at my usual pages, I click on my own blog to see if there is anything new on it....
...then I realize, that's MY job.
Michael asks me what I would like for Mother's Day this year. He says he hasn't gotten me anything and would like to do something for me. I finally break down and say that what I really want is time away... sit in a coffeehouse alone, wander through little boutiques, walk along the beach, not have to worry about being anywhere at any time. No responsibility.
I would like to do this for one day, for the length of time he usually goes to work. Be home by six.
Yes, for Mother's Day, I want NOT to be a mother. To get away from my kids. Worst Mom Ever.
Now, I would RATHER spend the day sitting in a coffeehouse with Michael. Wandering along the beach with Michael. Sitting in the back corner of a little restaurant for as long as we feel like... with Michael. But SOMEONE has to watch the kids. And there is no one who will take my brood for 8 hours. No one I would not keep thinking about all day.
HE was thinking of HIS mother, and thought he could kill two birds with one stone. Give me my time away, AND go spend time with his Mom. So on a moments notice, at the drop of a hat, he whisked them off to Encino tonight to see Mima!!
And I am alone in the house. Writing my blog. At 1:15 in the morning because I don't want to waste any free time sleeping.... and yet wanting to sleep for 11 hours straight. But even I know I won't get woken up in the middle of the night on this night. Or by Noah at 5:45am telling us its morning.
Ahhhhh..... worst mom ever is gonna have a BLAST tomorrow.
(or later today I guess it is.)
Saturday, May 12, 2007
I have been a mom for four and a half years, but I really have been a bit isolated in the "mom community". I had Pam, my friend with a boy Noah's age, and we hung out a lot when we lived in Ohio, and a Meetup Group, but once the babies were born, that became too hard to get out to. So, I haven' been mingling with Moms much.
But I got initiated this friday. Noah came home with a rolled up scroll, inviting me to breakfast at his preschool with the other Moms. Michael actually had that day off (so he could work today, Saturday) and so I was free to go. Which was good because almost every single kid had a mom there, and no siblings dragged along for good measure!
It was SO CUTE! They all stood in a rows at one end of the room, and sang this song that sounded like some old world Jewish song (read: minor chords and sentimentality) about Mother ("Mother... sweet Mother.... of Miiiiiiine!"). It came complete with hand signs and goof ups. Just darling. Then each kid picked up a flower from a vase and brought it to his mom, saying... "Happy Mother's Day, Mommy... would you please have breakfast with me?"
Then, Miss Kip comes around with a box of tissues, one for each mom.
We had a lovely spread, with waffles, bagles, fruit, sausage, coffee.... coffee..... coffee.... ahhh....
We each got a backpack decorated by the kids, and a beautiful card. Mine had a picture of Noah and me throwing rocks in the river at the Riverhouse (our house on the Cuyahoga River back in Akron).
My second post and I am wondering what to write already! I should be putting my oldest son to bed for his nap, but he is dozing off while watching Powerpuff Girls on the tv. So... why not sit here beside his cute little face and "blog". What a wacky verb.
Last night, Michael went to go see Jason's play, Enchanted April and I stayed home with the kids which is a bit of a challenge when you have to get all three to bed at the same time. We (still having much unpacking to do) came across a box with our old family videos in it, and I pulled out the one where Noah was the same age the twins are today.
He was the same size, but looked SO DIFFERENT than they do. He had the same hair he has today, all mop-top. He was a linguistic GENIUS I swear! He still loves to learn big words. But in the video we are showing him flashcards and he is telling us the letters on some of them.
OK to be fair, he was 19 months old in that video and the babies are now nearly 18 months, and they were born 6 weeks early so they are really even younger, and I didnt have all the one-on-one time with them.... but MAN! That boy knew a lot of words!!
I did eventually get them all toothbrushed and in bed. A bit later than usual but what the hey. I did it alone! Woooooot!!!
On sunday (Mother's Day) I get to go see the play, and Michael will stay home. These are our dates. Take turn dates.
I'm not even really sure how blogs work...
I have looked at a few, and thought, "hey! this might be a good way to let my parents know what is going on with my life" since I seem to be so inept at calling them. And since the only time I have in the world to call them is when it is 3am where they are.
I keep thinking I don't even have time for a shower or a meal half the time, how could I possibly "blog"?? And am I enough of a geek to figure it all out on my own? But I figured I would give it a try after looking at a few other Mama's blogs and getting so inspired.
So, here it is...
I do not promise to amuse you or to entertain. I am not the witty one. That is Michael. I am the one who steals his funny lines and uses them as my own. He is the one who allows it, without letting others know he is the one who made up the joke.
I do not promise to be consistent. I may write everyday for a week and then once a month and then once a year. Who knows. I get interested in little projects many times, and then peter out on them. But I am hoping to let you all in on a bit of the family minutia that you all miss out on by not being IN our house every day. And to relieve the guilt of having moved far away from you all to this beautiful wonderland (San Diego) where we can live in sunshine and happiness.
I WILL try to share some pictures since it takes me so long to send them out via email. I WILL try to let you know some of the things the kids say or do that you would not know about otherwise, because I always forget those by the time I call any of you on the phone. I HOPE this is a good way to keep in touch with you all on a more regular basis... my friends, my family, my friends who are like family...
I WILL probably write a few posts before I let anyone know this blog exists, just to get the hang of it, make sure I will write occasionally before I get all your hopes up and see if I can figure out the photo thing.
I hear there is a way to subscribe to this blog. Since I am such a newbie, I don't know if that means you will get emails when I update, or if you have to go and check it. Figure it out for yourself! (then let me know!)
So, as Lou Reed once said... It' the beginning of a great adventure!
Lou Reed - Beginning Of A Great Adventure (snipped a bit...)
It might be great to have a kid that I could kick around
a little me to fill up with my thought
A little me or he or she to fill up with my dreams
a way of saying life is not a loss
I'd keep the tyke away from school and tutor him myself
keep him from the poison of crowd
But then again pristine isolation might not be the best idea
It's not good trying to immortalize yourself
Beginning Of A Great Adventure
Beginning Of A Great Adventure
I hope it's true what my wife said to me
I hope it's true what my wife said to me
Hey I hope it's true what my wife said to me
She says, baby, it's the Beginning of a Great Adventure
Baby, it's the Beginning of a Great Adventure
It might be fun to have a kid that I could kick around
create in my own image like a god
I'd raise my own pallbearers to carry me to my grave
and keep me company when I'm a wizened toothless clod
I hope it's true what my wife said to me
She says Lou,
it's the Beginning of a Great Adventure