April 17, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Nothing can prepare you for motherhood. I thought I was ready and presumably, I was. I waited a long time. I traveled, I drank too much, remembered too little, worked hard, carved out a career for myself and spent many weekends doing nothing except sleeping in and watching TV. So, all the things “they” say you should and shouldn’t do before having children, for the most part, I did. I felt ready to be a mom.
What I wasn’t prepared for was living with my heart outside my body. The moment my sweet little Logan came into the world I felt desperate to protect him yet helpless to do an adequate job. I worried I would fail to keep him safe. Worried he would stop breathing at night. Worried that we would get into a car crash on the way to the grocery. Worried that the world was too far gone and that he would grown up in a place that moved too quick, loved too little and hurt too much.
The world is a scary place, filled with scary things. When events happen like the shooting at Sandy Hook or the bombing at the Boston Marathon, it takes every ounce of strength and rationalization not to run to my car, drive to my son’s daycare, scoop him up, get him home and hide. Hide from the world that sometimes seems as if it is getting darker, bleaker and scarier by the second. Sometimes I worry that if we live too big a life, that life will find us.
Truth be told, I have always been a worrier. What if the lump in my cheek is Cancer? What if the phone call is a bad news? What if I really run out of money this time? I live comfortably in the “what if’s” of life. I find a familiarity in the discomfort of always being prepared for something terrible to happen. But, when the gift of motherhood tears you wide open, the salt of the world makes it too painful to live in the “what if’s” any longer. Life is magnified. The good times make me bubble inside and I find myself singing through the day or smiling at the mere thought of my son. The air I breathe is from his atmosphere. I am no longer safe in the world as I once knew it. Being a mom requires finding a new way to live.
Today, I found myself staring at the sweet face of the 8 year old boy killed in the Boston explosion. I can’t help my mind from spinning to 7 years from now, placing Logan at the same age as this boy. Wondering how I would find the will to go on if my child were taken from me. The pain that family feels, I cannot comprehend. Life without my child, well it seems unlivable. I would give anything to live all the pains that life has to offer if it means allowing my son to escape them.
My legs are firmly steadied to bear even the worst storms. I have seen death, lost people I loved dearly, I’ve been lied to, disrespected, cheated on, taken advantage of and none of those offenses ever shook my spirit or made me fearful of living a big life. I lived with my heart protected safely in my chest. I built defenses to keep it from feeling the true depth of pain. I wrapped it in the armor of experience. And then I gave birth to my heart and it is now a living a breathing being. Now every news story is unescapable, every child is my child. Every pain in the world is my pain. I am raw. I cry easily. I scare even easier. My feelings are at the surface and vulnerable for every bump that life throws my way. I feel stronger than I have ever felt. More capable to protect, more prepared to feel pain and tolerate it. But, at the same time I feel more vulnerable and emotional than ever. Nothing could have prepared me for the true meaning of motherhood.
I live in the spaces of my childs smiles and laughter. I struggle to find the balance between helping him to be strong enough to find independence in a world and protecting him from a world that seems much too scary to set him free in. I can only hope the legs that steadied me into adulthood, will find their bearings and grow strong enough to shoulder the burden of motherhood. That they will find strength to carry me through the fear of inadequacy and the unknown. That I can be strong enough to carry the weight of the unknown with a heart wise enough to feel overwhelming love without having to numb my self from the fear of what loving someone so completely means.
March 7, 2013 § Leave a Comment
This first birthday party couldn’t have been themed better for the sweetest little 1 year old girl I have ever laid my eyes upon. I love her so much so that I have already sworn that Logan will marry her. So, when her mom asked if I would plan her first birthday party, I jumped at the chance. To boot, her mom’s favorite holiday is Valentine’s Day so the hearts and love theme fit perfectly. Guests participated in sugar cookie decorating and Valentine making. A sunny afternoon surrounded by heart, babies and sugar…I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
March 5, 2013 § Leave a Comment
March 3, 2013 is a special day. It’s the first birthday of my favorite little person on the entire planet.
12 months ago, I was in the throes of a labor that seemed never-ending. Even with a healthy dose of Pitocin (a.k.a. the devil) my little baby boy refused to join the world and after 9 hours of unmedicated labor, he still resided in my throat. So, as luck would have it, my labor plan of having a pain med free, epidural free natural labor shifted quickly after 1 a.m. to an emergency c-section. Another requirement of my labor plan, and probably the most important, was to ensure that at no time would my butt be exposed and flapping in the wind. I was heartbroken when they prepped me for surgery. Even though I couldn’t feel anything below my neck, I knew that I was naked from the waist down and splayed out on a table under harsh flourescent lighting. Needless to say the best laid labor plans never work out. Crying, exhausted and humiliated, I did my best to remind myself that at the end of this tunnel was a little baby that I waited 40 weeks and 6 days to meet. Minutes later I heard the cries of my sweet boy.
I had no idea what the journey of being a new mom had in store for me. This year has been a triathlon of emotion, worry, elation, exhaustion, and above all else, complete utter all-consuming love.
When I planned Logan’s first birthday, I knew that i wanted it to be special. Even though he would grow to never even remember the day, I hoped that in pictures he could see just how much his world is oozing love. The numbers of guests quickly climbed to over 60 and I hoped that he wouldn’t be overwhelmed by the masses. Luckily, we have a very social child and he spent the day working the crowd, enjoying the attention and smiling for every moment.
Each night, before bedtime I tell Logan how much I love him. It usually starts with, “I love you more than there are hairs on your head…I love you more than there are fish in the sea, I love you more than stars in the sky…” Which is how the theme of his birthday, “I love you to the moon and back” came to be.
Each month, we would take a photo of Logan on the glider in his room. It’s been fun to see how much he has changed over these past 12 months. From a little peanut with an intense stare, to an exuberant little guy with an enormous smile. Seeing his change from one month to eleven is amazing.
The weekend before his birthday was stormy so we picked the cutest little sweater from Baby Gap that was perfect for the theme of his party. I’m not going to lie, I was a little bummed that it was 80 degrees and he could only bare the sweater for 30 minutes.
I love you more than all the colors in the rainbow inspired these paint color utensil holders. Yes, we got all of these from Home Depot….even in mass quantity, they are still free!
At first I wanted to make play dough as the party favors, until one of my friends, who happens to be a mom, threatened to beat me up if I gave her children play dough. I guess my little one isn’t old enough for me to have a deep ingrained opposition to play dough. Though I am sure that day is right around the corner. Instead, I decided to make alien babies out of felt and put them up for adoption.
Since Logan’s bedtime stories have become telling him what I love him more than, I thought it would be fun for the party guests to write, I love you more than, messages to Logan. After the party I bound all of the papers together and now Logan has an offical book.
Photos courtesy of: Fresh Frame Foto
February 13, 2013 § 1 Comment
I have been a mom for 11 months now. 3 of those I spent in a hormone induced stupor fledging somewhere between complete neurosis and total exhaustion. These past 11months have been a marathon. One which at times I wondered if I had the endurance to maintain. Here are the 11 things I’ve learned in 11 months:
1. I am not into forced “momlationships”. Just because I am a mom and YOU are a mom doesn’t mean we will overlook all the other things we don’t have in common and meet for coffee and Gymboree every Sunday. And don’t even get me started on Stroller Strides. There are few things I find more horrifying than doing jumping jacks on the corner of Main Street and Eff My Life Way in a sea of strollers and doughy women. Had someone sat me down and said, “Look, once you birth your child, there will be a concerning flap of excess skin that folds down so as to appear as if you are A. melting or B. the after picture of pretty much every contestant on the Biggest Loser, I may have thought twice before taking my friend at her word that, “You can totally eat whatever you want when you are pregnant because you have an excuse to be fat.” Because guess what, it takes forever to get rid of the deflated ballon look. Couple that with lack of sleep and unstable hormones you have just as much luck of quickly losing the baby weight as you do getting attacked by a shark during a Stroller Strides outing. If you aren’t a freak of nature, like Meghan Fox or Gisele Brady (because who can spell her actual last name) chances are you will look pregnant for months after having your child. The general population is more like the celebrity flavor ala Jessica Simpson and most of us don’t have the luxury of getting pregnant right after having our first child so we can once again justify why we still look like we ate a baby.
2. Even though I am a mom, I still find it difficult to talk to my son on the phone. No one likes talking to babies on the phone because they are terrible at making conversation and most of the time talk with the entire phone in their mouth anyway. Babies don’t belong on the other end of the phone. When people call, chances are they are calling to talk to you, about things…not to talk to your non talking baby in an uncomfortable baby friendly voice. Turns out, this isn’t fun to do with your own child either.
Husband, “Is that mommy? Mommy is on the phone.”
Me, reluctantly: “Hi Monkey…….” silence. Wondering if I should continue this charade or just tell my husband to get back on the phone because I had important things to cover and, let’s be real, my child doesn’t understand how phones work and really doesn’t recognize my voice, even though you swear he “smiled when he heard you!”
I am not in Iraq, fighting for our nation. I am down the street at Ralph’s grabbing dinner and just need to know if we have A1, so please get back on the damn phone!
3. If you have a baby and a dog, chances are when you discover a streak of poop on your pant leg, you won’t know who put it there. I admit it, there was one morning where I noticed poop on my sleeve but was already in the car and was already late to work so instead of changing, like any respectable person would do, I spent the day with poop on my sleeve. Once you have changed months worth of diapers, your fear of poop fades and it becomes just as offensive as dirt.
4. Telling people you let your baby sleep with you elicits the same response as telling them you ride a motorcycle at top speed without a helmet on. I did not birth a sleeper. Logan inherited Paul’s cheeks and caveman feet and my need to always GO GO GO. He shares my feeling that sleep means you are missing out on something and should only be done in short spurts. I have read books upon books about sleep. Ferber Method, No Cry Method, this method that method. I’ve read board after board on the internet, what worked for this person, what didn’t for that person and none of it works for our child. He hates his crib, sleeps for two hour stretches at a time and can scream like a banshee for hours on end. So now he sleeps with me. All night long he and I snuggle in bed and every so often he kicks me in my face or jabs my C section scar with his caveman feet, but all in all it is way more relaxing than fighting him all night long. So far, not one person thinks this is a good idea. Although most people look at me in disdain for allowing a baby into the bed, I have to remind myself that it works for us…for now. There will come a day when my sweet boy no longer lets me kiss him, hug him tightly or call him “my little bug”. A day will come when he is embarrassed of me, wants me to leave him alone and needs his space. For now, for this moment I am enjoying snuggling with him at night and listening to his rhythmic little baby poofs.
5. There is a lot of good in having two very different parents. When something stands in my way, I tend to bulldoze over it. When faced with something painful, I steady myself, breath deep and then throw myself into it. My husband on the other hand is slow. He moves with patience and doesn’t mind if it comes at the cost of being a little late…or a lot late. Many times I find this frustrating because really, “Why are you always 20 minutes late to everything!” When Logan was given an inhaler I was the first to give it to him, so I put two puffs in the canister and then placed the mask on Logan. I expected he would cry, so I steadied myself for it, breathed a few deep breaths and then leaned into the fear of my baby being uncomfortable. He proceeded to scream as if I was trying to gas him and I held it firmly on his mouth because the medicine was good for him. Three times I did this and every time he screamed a blood curdling scream. By the fourth time, Paul asked if he could try. Logan sat on the bed wide eyed as his dad held the offensive inhaler. Paul danced around with it and patted it on and off his mouth while making indian sounds. He said Logan’s name in a sing songy voice and then bounced the inhaler close to Logan’s face, still singing his name and bouncing around. Paul squeezed the inhaler twice and the gas filled the plastic compartment. Again he brought the mask to his face with a smile and made indian sounds. Then he brought it to Logan’s mouth and held it there, Logan smiled and inhaled deeply filling his lungs with the inhaler air. And then he laughed, because his dad is silly. And wonderful.
6. You will never be able to afford kids, yet somehow you do. If we were told that we had to find an extra $1,500 a month a year ago, we would have crumbled into a million pieces and packed up our home. We are barely hundred-aires and that is on a good month. Babies cost money, lots of money. Daycare, baby gear, diapers, wipes. It all becomes so expensive and yet somehow we manage to pay for it month after month. If we waited until we could afford kids, Logan would not exist. Thank God we are the financially careless people we are, because he is amazing…and worth every thousands of pennies.
7. Babies are WAY more hardy than they portray them to be on TV. When we first brought Logan home from the hospital I spent days agonizing over his sleeping conditions. His pack and play was too big, he could roll over and smother himself. His swing was too angled, he could accidentally kink his windpipe. Our bed was too dangerous, we could roll over onto him. Babies are scary because they seem so fragile and precious. Little by little bumps happen and you begin to realize that babies are hardier than you once believed. In my scariest of moments, when I was convinced that the stumble Logan experienced when crawling causing him to bump his head into the carpet surely resulted in a brain bleed, I reminded myself of the newborn who was picked up by a tornado and swirled around and dropped in a field miles from his home. Surely if a baby could survive a tornado, mine would survive a forehead bump on thick pile carpet. Logan has fallen onto the asphalt from the floorboard of our car (which was TRAUMATIC for me…less so for him), he has bumped his forehead on the hardwood floor after taking a spill from the one step up landing and he has gotten a fat lip from tripping while walking behind his toy train…babies are built to take tumbles and little spills. After the first few the desire to call 911 and have them airlifted to the closest trauma center fades.
8. You will take millions of photos because everything is cute. There are only a few things more annoying on Facebook than pictures of food and photos of you shirtless in your bathroom mirror. Hundreds of baby photos may be one of them. I am guilty of posting hundreds of photos of Logan on Facebook because come on, he is adorable. Being a mom makes you mushy and gushy and we require an outlet to share it with the world because if we keep it stuffed inside we will implode. I have to post photos of my child, just like I have to take photos of him doing all the baby things he does because it is all too adorable not to.
9. My car will never look the same, nor will my clothing, makeup, toenails…etc. Once upon a time I use to put makeup on before going to the store. Even if it was crack o’ dawn thirty I would still dress up and look in an actual mirror to make sure I was presentable. Fast forward to today where I will go to the store with no bra on and barefoot if it means that I can get there and back before I am called for a feeding or a changing or just to be clung onto. I try to look like I once did, but I find my new look teeters somewhere between, “I have completely let myself go and I am trying desperately to hang on.” For work I will dress in maternity pants one day because I am having a fat day, only to overcompensate the next day and wear something way too formal. I know this because people in the hall exclaim, “WOW, you look really nice today.” Which in new mom terms means I look like a normal person. My toenail polish is chipped and my toes are haggard because let’s be honest, a trip to the nail salon has been moved to my Bucket List. Recently I tried to paint them at home only to have Logan crawl into the bathroom and grab my big toe leaving my toe and him looking like we had just bled out.
10. There is nothing more important than finding a loving place for your child to go during the day…even if it’s painful. When I went to pick Logan up from daycare yesterday he clung to the lady who watches him. Clearly he was like that little baby fawn I saw on the internet who, during a wildfire sought refuge in a cabin and met a mountain lion and they formed a bond snuggled in the corner of the cabin and, in a matter of days the fawn was nursing off the mountain lion, calling her mama and they lived happily ever after in adorableness.
I am away from my baby for 8 hours a day…babies don’t wear watches. I did the math, a week has 168 hours. 45 of those are spent in daycare…he rarely naps so 43 of those are likely spent awake. He is at home 128 hours and sleeps for roughly 70 of them making the hours he spends with me a hair more than what he spends at daycare. For all I know in his baby brain he thinks I am the babysitter. I’m not going to lie, this has made me cry many times. To put salt in the wound, sometimes he cries ALL THE WAY HOME, which to me, means he is screaming for me to turn the car around and take him back home. As painful as this may be, I find comfort in the fact that I have yet to read about a child who leaves their own family for their daycare not to mention that he had a daycare in the early days that did not love him, did not hold him and care for him. Sure they kept him safe, but my day was spent obsessing over the love he wasn’t receiving in my absence. Today he is loved completely. His daycare knows him and his little traits that makes him special and unique. I have however requested that every so often they pinch his leg or flick him in the ear just so he doesn’t fall in love with them too deeply.
11. Though I am a shadow of my former self there is nothing more rewarding that being Logan’s mom. I know, I know, as cliche as that sounds it’s the simple truth. Even at 4:30 am when he sometime wakes and wants to crawl over me, pull my hair and do baby things, my frustration fades when I open my eyes and am greeted with his excited smile. My little guy melts my heart, has made me a gentler person and has shown me that above all else, including fitting in my old clothes, wearing flawless makeup and having energy, nothing is better than watching this little light that I made shine.
December 15, 2012 § Leave a Comment
My heart is heavy.
On Friday, there was a shooting in Connecticut. One that took the lives of 20 children. Small, defenseless children. This incident has left the nation reeling. I know this because the media tells me, and so does Facebook.
As fate would have it, I took Friday off work. So when I learned of the shooting, I was able to hold my sweet little boy in my arms. I was able to smell his head, cup his round chubby cheeks in my hands and kiss his sweet face. I was able to lie with him next to me in bed and be part of the stillness that I was blessed in that very moment to have.
I felt thankful for that stillness, but that didn’t quiet my mind from thinking of the parents. Those poor parents who will ache every day and every moment of their lives to hold their child one more time. The parents who would forever walk around in life with a hole in their heart.
The moment I had a child, it was as if my heart went from safely inside my chest, guarded by the defenses I learned in life, tucked neatly behind sarcasm, life lessons and maturity, to it living and breathing outside of me. The moment I gave birth to my son, I gave birth to all the fears that go along with living a life with your heart outside of your body. Defenseless; with no armor to shield it from the harsh sunlight of life.
Being a parent is like walking a fine line between protection and empowerment. I clearly see that my role in my child’s life is to help him become the person he is destined to be. To instill in him values and principles, to guide him and to give him a safe place to be himself. I can only imagine the difficulty this will bring as Logan gets older and builds a life of his own. The worry that must come with him making decisions I don’t agree with. The anxiety that must follow the day he leaves home. I pray that I always appreciate what a gift my sweet boy is. I hope that I never have to experience tragedy to always see that clearly.
The harm that was brought to that elementary school in Connecticut is unexplainable. In the days that follow the news will likely report on the motive. Maybe he was insane, maybe he was distraught, maybe he snapped. Regardless of what they find, it won’t change the outcome. It won’t make sense of something that is so senseless.
I once worked for a man who told me that he has been to every impoverished, crime riddled community in the nation, and has never been assaulted or wronged. He attributed that to the fact that every person he came into contact with, he looked in the eye and treated them with dignity. While I think it may also have been equal parts luck, I also think there is something to his wisdom. Amidst the even quickening frenzy in life, we have forgotten to see one another. As life gets faster, we become more and more invisible. Phone conversations are fielded by computers, coffee shops are now drive-thrus, we work remotely, conference call, text instead of converse. We are fading away from one another…we are disconnected.
Our society is a busy one. I am guilty myself of coming home and closing the garage behind me before I even get out of the car. I have probably missed saying hello to a handful of strangers because I was texting or on the phone, or just too closed off in my own world to even bother becoming part of someone else’s. Maybe if we valued each other more, life would be harder to take.
I am a mother now. Tragedy no longer seems like a scary possibility that can be ignored rather it shakes me to my core. It makes me want to do something to change the world we live in. It makes me want to become a better me so in turn, I may inspire someone to become a better “them”. I want my son to grow up in a world that sees him. A world that values his sweet little life. I want him to grow in a world where he can walk tall, live big and walk among giants.
October 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
When I was 12 years old, I asked my Grandmother for a Body Scan for Christmas. I knew it was an extravagant request, at $500 for one scan, but I wanted the peace of mind knowing that I was free from all forms of Cancer and disease. The constant worry weighed heavily on my teenage mind and a Body Scan would ease my concern and help me to achieve my New Year’s Resolution of not worrying so much. I knew my Christmas list would remain unfulfilled when my grandmother laughed at my request, clearly thinking I was joking instead of what I was actually doing, justifiably worrying. Come Christmas morning, I was knee deep in sweaters and socks digging through the trash bag full of crinkled tissue paper and cardboard shirt boxes, because surely, one gift had gone amiss.
Worry, particularly around diseases and various incurable afflictions has been a long-standing hobby of mine. When I was eight and stepped on a wad of gum while walking barefoot on the sidewalk, I was convinced that somewhere in that warm, sticky, saliva filled wad of goop, resided a strain of HIV that immediately penetrated my skin and found its way into my bloodstream. By six o’ clock that evening, I was in full panic that I wouldn’t live to see my ninth birthday. It wasn’t until a few weeks later when I found a suspicious lump in my cheek that I forgot all about having AIDS and focused my energy on my fight against Cancer.
My hypochondria, along with my Cancer, my HIV and my Diabetes has for years, lay dormant. With age comes wisdom, and I now know that AIDS isn’t caught by sidewalk gum and Cancer is likely not the culprit for the pea sized lump that still lives in my cheek, but every so often, it rears its ugly head.
When I was getting ready for bed last night I stood in the bathroom and stared at myself in the mirror, like I always do when brushing my teeth. Normally I pass the time by hating the deep wrinkle etched into the middle of my forehead from years of squinting as a result of dry contact lenses. But, my eye was distracted by the shiny red raised mole that had magically appeared on my chest. Immediately my mind went back to two weeks ago, when I sat on the beach early on a Sunday morning with no sunscreen and came home with a deep red v-neck sunburn. Surely my carelessness would be my demise. How stupid I have been to use tanning beds in my early twenties and for the three months leading up to my wedding day. I knew better, I had heard horror stories, yet I still stripped down and baked on plexi-glass, time and time again because I was sure that tan fat looked better than white fat. Surely I am riddled with skin cancer in unmentionable places. My only hope is that it wouldn’t get out that my official cause of death was skin cancer of the butt crack crease. Afterall, it would serve me right that after all these years of worrying about exotic diseases I would ultimately succumb to a much less sexy one.
The next hour was spent in my bathroom as I feverishly clicked on the iPad and Googled, “Skin Cancer”, “Raised Red Mole”, “Skin Cancer Warning Signs”, and then, when I realized I still have a nagging cough from a cold that had passed weeks ago I added, “Chronic Cough Skin and Lung Cancer”, because worrying about just skin cancer was for amateurs. After comparing and contrasting the litany of available photographs on the web, I’m now convinced that death is imminent. In the past 13 hours, since finding this mole, I have chosen a guardian for Logan, decided to videotape messages to him that he will watch on each passing birthday ala “My Life” starring Michael Keaton, mentally written the agenda for my funeral procession and have resided to be a person of hope and strength as I face this scary battle against hypothetical skin cancer.