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.
October 9, 2012 § 1 Comment
Any good mother will tell you that, “Being a mom is the greatest job I’ve ever had.” They tell you this because that is what they are supposed to say. Motherhood is supposed to be “amazing”, “so great”, “indescribable”. Mothers tell the childless these things because they can. They can lie and speak their hyperbolic statements because it is east to mislead those who have no prior work experience. Mothers say this to one another because they are too scared to admit the truth. Motherhood is difficult, draining and sometimes even excruciating. But no one says this as often as they feel it, because that would hurt the company brand.
I always knew I wanted to be a mom. As a teenager I was quite masterful in babysitting. I could rock them to sleep , change diapers with ease and I was a very competent authoritarian, even at a young age. I knew that one day I too wanted that starry gaze that mothers got when talking about their new baby. I wanted to ooze unconditional love for a child of my own. Now that I have a child, I realize the starry gaze is from hours of sustained sleep deprivation.
Most mothers fail to mention that somedays, even the greatest jobs in the world have their challenges. There are moments when your co-workers hate you, when your boss yells at you belligerently and spits warm milky goo all over your work clothes and times when you wish you could call in sick but you know if you do, everything will fall apart. Some nights you work the graveyard shift, for free, and most days you will have to work right through lunchtime. There are no paid vacations, no sick pay and the ability to move up in the company, well lets just say it’s a glass ceiling.
Yes, being a mother is a wonderful job but every so often, I want to update my resume.
Logan is in the midst of teething and he is pissed about it. During the day, my sweet boy is sunshine and rainbows, but at night he transforms into a howling bleary eyed monster. That, coupled with the fact that he has learned to bring himself up to a sitting position, means that nights are filled with him crying in the upright position so as to be able to project the wails from deep within his diaphragm.
Tonight it took him two hours to finally go to sleep. I would nurse him, rock him and get him to a nice sleepy state and then I would so very carefully place him in his crib where he would immediately rub his eyes as if to shake the sleepiness out of them, push himself up like a drunk hobo and then, in his cute little baby way, he would scream his little baby head off. We did this for TWO.ENTIRE.HOURS. I am not a fan of the cry it out method. I will let him cry for a few minutes and then my brain fast forwards to fifteen years from now when he is dressed in black wearing eyeliner and ear lobe stretchers telling the family therapist how he, “feels so alone”.
Eventually, he was so tired that when he would bring himself to the sitting position he would wobble and tip over making a loud thud as his sleepy head hit the mattress. It was amusing to watch over the baby monitor, but after 45 minutes I wanted to watch a different channel, at least one with more of a plot. Over and over we did this dance of endurance and then finally, after the hundredth time of trying to get him to lie down it stuck, that is at least until 3 a.m. and then we danced some more.
This leads me to my final conclusion, teeth are dumb, babies are difficult and sometimes motherhood is right above that part-time job I once had at Footaction, where my 40 something year old supervisor kissed me on the mouth while handing me my weekly paycheck. At least that job I was able to quit the next day on the basis that I wasn’t into minimum wage paying jobs where middle-aged men wanted to ninja kiss me. This job I am in for the long haul and hoping for at least a good retirement plan.
October 7, 2012 § 1 Comment
When I was twelve I went away to camp for the summer. This caused a great deal of angst because I had a very specific beauty ritual that I had to adhere to. While most kids struggled with homesickness or pooping in an unfamiliar bathroom, my primary concern was focused around whether or not the camp had electricity. I grew up when the Aqua Net era was thriving and my bangs weren’t going to curl and rat themselves. The height and form of my of my bangs was critical and could not be achieved without a piping hot large barreled curling iron. I was just coming out of my awkward years and couldn’t afford a backslide into them. Looks to a pre-teen are everything and I was well aware that my looks required a very specific and thorough beauty regime.
The weekend before we left for camp my dad took me to CVS where I filled a shopping basket with the essentials. Pan cake foundation, application sponges, eyeshadow in subtle hues of browns, and the not so subtle hues of turquoise and pinks for the more daring occasions. Eyeliner in both pencil and liquid forms, and a variety of mascaras. $300 and one Caboodle later, I was ready for camp. I will spare you all the gory details, but fast forward to the end of camp, even with a camp full of perfectly good electricity, mirrors in the bathrooms and ample time to do ones makeup, I still didn’t have a date to the dance.
As years passed I became more reasonable in my need to be “pretty”. I no longer spent hundreds of dollars on makeup (in one sitting at least) and the ratted bangs luckily became something I found inappropriate and horriblly unfashionable along with the rest of mankind. But I still maintained my need to be put together and properly coiffed when leaving the house. I reasoned that it was deeply engrained in my DNA. My grandmother always looked her best. Even when she slept, it was in matching silk pajamas and with perfect hair that was styled every Friday at the beauty salon. Her gardening clothes were a nice pair of slacks and a button down dress shirt with the last two buttons undone and tied in a fashionable knot for casual measure. So, it was no surprise that I felt it necessary to never leave the house, even if it was to run a quick errand to the store, without showering, doing my hair, makeup and putting on a pair of heels, comfortable heels of course because I am no fool.
My need to look my best when going out into the world knew no boundaries. Sick with the flu? Wear more rouge. Have a fever? Skip the blush. Crying for hours straight because the boyfriend and you broke up? Nothing cool cucumbers cannot fix.
And then I had a baby.
The first time leaving the house after having a baby, is like trying to disarm a bomb. Every step is perfectly choreographed to the minute, but if one step is missed…BAM! Explosion. Logan was a baby who constantly needed to be moving. I had a 20 minute window between feeding him and putting him in a swing before he would want to be held again. When you’re given a 20 minute window to shower, shave, dry your hair and put your makeup and clothes on, you prioritize. In the end, what became important to me was, “Did I brush my teeth at least once today?” and “Is any part of my body that showing that shouldn’t be?” That is only half the battle because after you have a baby, none of your clothes fit right and you are stuck in this horrible parallel universe where your maternity clothes are too big and your pre-pregnancy clothes are too small, so instead of dressing cute or fashionable, you become the woman who lives in stretch pants and flowy tops that don’t show the dozen of muffin tops spilling over your yoga pants.
Many of my mom friends, told me that once I had a baby I would lose all my modesty. I was sure this was an over-exaggeration, because from what I knew, none of my friends who had babies were perusing the streets naked on a regular basis and shaking their tata’s at oncoming traffic. Now that I’ve had a baby, I can say that I still have not lost my modesty. I am still painfully aware of how I look naked and I’m not comfortable with others seeing me in such a state. I still cringe at photos taken of me from behind, I wear a hooter hider religiously when nursing, and I still have to be reminded at the OB’s office to, “please drop your knees apart” when getting my check ups. Any loss of modesty is because I am too tired to keep up appearances. Like the time I was in the parking lot of Whole Foods and just finished nursing Logan in the back seat of the car. When I got out to make my way to the drivers seat, I noticed a couple looking at me oddly and realized it was because I had forgotten to pull my top back over my nursing bra. Now, the “old” me would have decided the only mature way to deal with such a mis-step would be to relocate to a new community or never shop at any store again within a 30 mile radius until I either dyed my hair or done something else drastic to render myself unrecognizable.
But I am no longer that girl who went to summer camp with a Caboodle filled with Wet N’ Wild lip gloss. I am a mom. I wear flats and when I want to feel sexy, I wear practical wedges with ample surface area so as to avoid falls. I wear sensible fabrics and avoid all forms of silk so that when spit ups happen I am a towel and a water bottle away from appropriateness. I wear my hair in a ponytail and every fourth day, when I actually have time to wash my hair, I wear it down. I only sometimes wear earrings because when I do, I am quickly reminded that a baby’s hand is going to possibly rip them right out of my lobe. I am a mom. Someone who realizes that low rise jeans may not be my friend again until my child enters kindergarten. I am a mom, a woman who knows that a sensible outfit is one where I can stretch the neckline enough to get a boob free and pants that I can button.
Being a new mom, I have resided to the fact that I don’t have the time I used to, to dedicate to my beauty rituals. I cannot take too long to find the perfect outfit in the morning because by the third attempt, my child is screaming or clawing at my leg wanting me to pick him up. I haven’t been able to work out as much as I’d like because I am either too tired or too needed by this tiny little being I created. I can’t take more than a 5 minute shower because Logan will only play in his room for 3 minutes before crawling into the bathroom to see what I am up to.
One day I will get back to that place, the place where I can give myself the time I want and need to feel pretty. But for now I am stuck at summer camp….the kind without electricity.
August 13, 2012 § Leave a comment
Nothing could have prepared me to be a mom. Even after spending countless pregnant hours, imagining what my baby would look like, what having him would be like, I couldn’t have pictured the depth of anything that awaited me. And I have some imagination.
All the unsolicited advice, all the books I read, all the scary things I Googled have faded away and what replaces them is actual real life, mommy experience. Logan is almost 6 months old. In that time he has grown inches, doubled his weight and has learned a whole list of baby tricks that, according to the milestone chart are all within the normal spectrum, but I find them all to be nothing short of amazing.
I’m the mom of a baby who can roll from his back to front, from his front to back. He makes sounds to get my attention, he laughs and expects things. He smiles at strangers and wiggles when he is excited. He grabs things and wants things and fusses when I leave the room. There may be a million other babies in the world, but as far as I am concerned, none of them are as exceptional as mine.
In the very early days of being a new mom, my sole focus was making sure that Logan and I made it out alive. Somedays, sanity suffered for the sake of survival. My new mommy mind would think terrible scenarios and I would mentally ninja my way through them. My brain ran through natural disasters, home invasions, and abductions, at all hours of the day. This survival tactic triathlon was exhausting, and luckily, once my hormones began to stabilize, the need to mentally run through all horrific potential (and some completely improbable situations) subsided. The baby blues would rain down on me every day for two hours. From 5-7pm, like clockwork I would sit on my bed and cry. It was as if all the pains in the world would seep in through the walls with the setting sun. ”What if Logan grows up and has a rough life?” “What if Logan doesn’t love me?” “What if I fail as a mom?” “What if he texts while he drives and kills himself?” “WHAT IF HE DRINKS AT PROM AND DRIVES DRUNK?” Every day, for two hours, I would live Logan’s life out in it’s entirety and picture the worst scenario possible and fester in it. Needless to say, I began to dread the evenings. It is amazing to me that anyone makes it out of those early days alive.
There is something crazy making about early motherhood. Waking every two hours for feeding, learning this new baby language, the self doubt, the healing from a major surgery or birth, all contribute to the insane mess that you become, no matter how together you once were. In a way, you lose a sense of yourself. Turns out, I defined myself as a size 6, driven, professional, career focused, 30 something year old. With Logan’s birth, all of those classifications were stripped away. The days bled into one another as my sole task was to feed, change and maintain this little being I created. The clock no longer mattered, the day of the week no longer relevant and I began to wonder who I was. I certainly wasn’t a size 6. My milk stained pajamas certainly didn’t scream “professional” and my 4 months of maternity leave were definitely not career focused. When I gave birth to Logan, I gave birth to a whole new me, and in those early days, the new me was someone I wasn’t sure I wanted to be.
The new me felt fat, tired and hormonal. The new me cried easily, felt incapable of dealing with any problem that needed solving and was irritated at the slightest annoyance. The new me couldn’t fit into anything cute, wore her husbands gym shorts to bed and woke up looking like I was run over by a stampede of horses. The new me snapped at my husband when he was being nice, or mean or breathing. The new me was convinced the white noise maker was subliminally saying scary things so I banned it from the house, even though it was the only thing that would keep Logan asleep. The new me hated the clutter but was too tired to clean. The new me hated feeling fat but couldn’t stop eating garbage. The new me wanted to be the old me so badly but wouldn’t do it at the cost of losing my precious little boy. And then, much like Logan was growing every day, so was I. You couldn’t see it at first but little by little I began crying less at night. I felt capable capable of handling problems as they arose and my pajamas slowly became more fashionable, though still milk stained.
Sure my once flat stomach is now a deflated mess of skin and marked with raised scar tissue where Logan made his entrance into this world. Such a huge life entered through such a small door. None of my clothes fit right. Maternity clothes are saggy and my normal person clothes won’t fit past my thighs. I am, on all accounts a shadow of what I once was. Sure, I long for the days where I can fit into a pencil skirt and walk in high heels without cutting the circulation off from important body parts. I look forward to the days where I can wear a shirt where my first thought isn’t, “how easily can I maneuver a boob to the outside world?”, or wear a bra without escape hatches.
My life as I once knew it is gone.
These past months I fell less in love with my weight, sleep and sanity so I could make room to fall deeper in love with this little light of mine. With every inch of me, with ever ounce of my soul I love this child. I have stared at him for countless hours. I know that he has a small birthmark on his chunky right thigh. I know that he has a strand of hair on the top of his head that is unusually longer than the rest. I know that his toenails on his big toes seem to grow faster at the corners. I know he has a little notch on his ear, that his lip curls slightly to the left when he smiles and I could trace the bow of his top lip with my eyes closed.
Growth is painful. And these past few months I have experienced pain like I have never known. I have been challenged, I have felt defeated, I have been euphoric and I have felt hopeless. All of this has been for the sole purpose of growing into the person I am destined to be. With each day, I am growing to love the new me. The new me cries during bedtime stories, smiles wider than ever before. The new me loves early morning snuggles in bed with Logan, the new me cries when a friend tells me she is pregnant. The new me lives for the end of a work day so I can go home to what matters most. The new me is career focused but not career driven. The new me buys a toy before I buy something for me. The new me steams vegetables and gets excited when I pump an extra ounce of milk for the next day. The new me may not fit into a size 6, someday I am determined to get there, but for now I am happy just being who I am at this very moment.
July 2, 2012 § Leave a comment
Straight from all our childhoods, the Muppets are near and dear to the hearts of many. So, when I had the chance to coordinate a wedding on the grounds of the amazing Jim Henson Studios, I was excited to be part of what I anticipated would be a very fun wedding.
Maurissa and Matt both work in the animation field so they wanted a carnival style wedding that was fun with a sophisticated feel. Using ric rac, torn fabric and muppets that were hand drawn by the groom, this wedding delivered a bright poppy wedding.
June 21, 2012 § Leave a comment
When I ran summer camps, I was always struck how food prepared in large quantities, never looked appetizing. Even the most delicious of spaghetti, when stirred with sauce in a large plastic tupperware bin, doesn’t look quite so delicious.
I’m trying to hold onto this notion, when I am plagued by anxiety in the pit of my stomach each time I drop Logan off at daycare. Sure, this is only the third day I have done it, and surely even a great day care warrants tears and separation anxiety for a first time mom. But every time I drop him off, and I see a slew of babies littered around the room crying, fussing, and dripping with boogers, I can’t help but wonder if, much like spaghetti, lots of babies don’t look as attractive as one baby. Maybe if the room had two babies, and each of them were crying, I wouldn’t be as inclined as I am now to snatch Logan up and drive far far away from day care.
I never dreamed I would want to be a stay at home mom. I prefer fast paces, multi-tasking and accomplishment. I enjoy interacting with colleagues and taking on professional challenges. However all I can focus on during my first week back at work is, how can I sway the financial pendulum in our favor and stay home with my baby? I never anticipated the worry that comes every minute of every day. Wondering if he is being loved enough, held enough or feels safe enough without me there. Sure, socialization is good for him, and of course it is important for him to learn how to self soothe, but he is a teeny tiny three month old, I don’t expect or want him to learn such things in a matter of moments. I was hoping for a more easy transition.
The first day was torture. I clung onto Logan as my husband, and I walked into the room, and were greeted by the lead teacher who seemed less concerned about the crying infant at her feet. All I could do was stare at him, his cheeks stained with tears as he huffed, and puffed with every wail. I held Logan tighter, stared at this little crying boy and promptly began to cry. The thought that in a matter of moments, when I walked out the door, this could be the face of my own child broke my heart. I hadn’t spent as much time in the trenches as this woman, so an infant crying for any length of time, without being cuddled or comforted made my heart sink.
Maybe I was making the wrong decision.
Maybe I could learn to love the sodium taste of ramen.
Maybe I could sell my blood, or even better, my eggs! Surely some rich barren woman would want them, especially after she saw Logan, a clear testament to how adorable they are once they hatch!
We could move to a small one bedroom apartment in a questionable part of town. At that moment, I would have done anything to avoid having to leave his side. In one instant, I transformed from a career driven, focused woman to a frantic mom, willing to give up everything I have worked hard for these past fifteen years to avoid having to leave my baby in the hands of anyone else.
The second day was a bit better, and today was ok. My expectations have dropped from a loving caring environment, to “please just keep my baby safe until I can rescue him.” As I frantically look for alternative care, I cling to the notion that when I see my sweet boy’s face at the end of the day, he smiles, giggles, and coo’s as if to tell me that he had a wonderful day, and he looks just like delicious spaghetti.
June 2, 2012 § 1 Comment
Disneyland plays this one commercial at Christmas time, where a small child is being held by his dad on Main Street at night. Holiday bells start to chime and the child looks up to the sky and for the first time in his young little life, he sees snow fall. Every time the first snowflake hits his little chubby finger and his eyes fill with wonder, I get choked up. That commercial is what having children is about. I like to think of myself in that commercial, and if you watch it again, you can probably see me in the background. I’m the mom behind that small child and young dad, the one wearing the expression of horror as my little baby screams bloody murder as I try to navigate the thick crowd steering my stroller with one hand and my flailing baby with another.
Last night I took Logan to Disneyland for the first time. The hundred buses jamming the parking lot were an omen. I should have turned back just like the skeleton head warns you to do at the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean, but I, like all the other passengers do in that fateful boat, chose to forge ahead. I walked up to the ticket gate and was greeted by Carol from Orange, California. She cheerily welcomed me back as I went through the paces of renewing my annual pass while Logan began to percolate in his stroller. The longer she exchanged pleasantries, the more he stirred, and so, by the time she gave me her most cheerfuly canned, “Have a magical day”, she was delivering it to a mom with a child in the middle of full meltdown. But, I forged ahead figuring that nursing him would calm him long enough to get us past the front entrance and into Tomorrowland, where surely the magic of Disney would infuse his tiny little heart and provide us a soft place to land. So, I found a bench tucked far away from the front entrance where I could nurse him discreetly. As I wrestled with a faulty hooter hider and an increasingly fussy infant that scratched at my top trying to rip away what stood between him and satisfaction, a group of rowdy teenagers plopped down next to me. Half inclined to move so as not to traumatize the “futures of tomorrow”, I stood my ground thinking if I was going to go through this traumatic exercise, some good should come of it. I figured these children were graduating eighth grade, and have likely cared for an egg for a week as a part of a very archaic sex education curriculum, so they were ready to graduate to seeing what a real life baby looked and acted like. I like to think I intercepted a handful of babies that were likely to be conceived that grad night.
Luckily, at the end of nursing, he was calm enough for me to go ahead into the park. My expectations of taking him on one ride was replaced with hoping for just one photo of him. Something to put in his baby book so he would know that his parents must have loved him so much because surely the true sentiment of love was to take your child to Disneyland. For parents to do that with a three-month old must mean he was loved beyond measure.
We walked down a very crowded Main Street, a street I had walked down many times before. Where I once saw magic and lights and fantasy all I could see now was a sea of Meningitis coming to engulf me and my tiny little man. Tourists from who knows where in the world with who knows what kind of medical care and vaccinations. Foreign germs, local germs, sneezing, coughing, open mouth laughing….oh the horror! Logan was tucked deeply in the safety of his stroller but I put the shade up for good measure. My eyes crossed as I tried to figure out where to look while steering, the ground, look up? People’s faces? Do I say excuse me or just ram into them? No one seemed to care that I had a tiny infant in my stroller, I now understand why they say at war it is easier to kill a village of people, than it is to kill one person. My child was inconsequential in a sea of other children. After some deep breathing and focus I found myself in front of a Small World. This was my moment, my time to get our commemorative photo in front of a Disney classic. My baby seemed content and the swarm of people was thinning. It was time! And then he erupted. A full forced, I want to get out of here kind of scream which prompted tourists, with their horrible untanned legs and horribly short shorts with lanyards and Disney pins weighing down their neck, looked at me in judgement. Here I am at Disneyland, the happiest place on earth, saddled with a screaming child. I failed to meet Disney halfway. Surely I was a terrible mom.
The last time I ran at Disneyland, I was a child. Excited for the day that awaited me. Last night I ran away from Disneyland, I ran my little heart out trying hopelessly to make it back to Daisy D6, where my car awaited us. With every step we transformed, the wheels came off the stroller and turned back into pumpkins, his pram turned back into a field donkey and, if I didn’t hurry, I am sure I would turn into a broke down princess in tattered clothing surrounded by three chubby homeless mice. We made it safely to the car, I out of breath and my sweet little boy screaming his heart out. Half way home, the car quieted, Logan passed out from exhaustion, the windows fogged and I trying to catch my breath from the sprint back to the car.
We may not have got what we went for, but at least we got our picture