Monthly Archives: May 2008

Working out my demons about working.

Its no shocker and hardly news to report that having children changes you. The topic of life after children could be tackled from a thousand different angles – the changes we experience emotionally, or physically, the extreme limits we are pushed to and the kind of immeasureable joy they bring us. That stuff alters us – permanently. But I need to talk about another type of change I am expereincing since becoming a mother and it has left me at quite a loss. Staying home with my children over the past five years has morphed me from a fairly confident capable working woman into a quivering girly-mom completely clueless as to how I would ever make it in the big, bad, working world again. Yeah, not good at all. This is a 35 year old identity crisis of epic proportions.

I’ve mentioned it before. I am a proud graduate of a very cool women’s institution called Mount Holyoke College. It is undeniably unique – it loads up college aged women with confidence, strength, smarts, and ability and then pushes them out into the world scrappy, ready and willing to take anything on. That was me in 1997. For the following 8 years, I worked in undergraduate college admissions.  And I was pretty good at what I did. I think.

But then I had T. I pushed my suits to the back of my closet and adopted breast feeding t-shirts and draw string pants. I think my backbone got tucked at the back of that closet too.

So my job title became: Mother. My office was my home. No co-workers chatting about their weekends (Weekend? Monday, Saturday, whatever… it’s really just groundhog day again). No boss telling me they are lucky to have me. A three month old baby awake all night was hardly a positive indicator that I was succeeding at my job. Now 5 years later, my boys and I are in a routine, I am the captain of this ship and I think I have it under control.

By the way, please note: this is not a bitch-fest post about being a stay at home mother either. I love being with my kids. I feel like I pulled some sort of golden ticket that has baaaarely allowed us to finagle a way so that I can stay home with my boys. Thousands of women would give anything to do the same. This is not about that. This about LEAVING that.

So back to my point. As T. starts kindergarten in the fall, the economy goes further into the crapper, and the shoe-string budget that we depend on has unraveled to more of a thread, I can’t help but start to plan on going back to work at some point soon.

Ugh though. I mean, do I HONESTLY think I have a clue as to how to function in the work force again? I feel completely out of touch with that sort of environment. Sure, I am the master at putting my child in the “cobra clutch” while changing a poopie diaper. I can smoothly talk through a time out and have the boys back to playing nicely in 5 minutes flat. I know what gets crayons off the walls (magic eraser), pencil off my frig (magic eraser) and marker off my table (magic eraser). I think I am doing ok as a mom.

But a job? That I commute to? With ONLY grown ups and in grown up clothes? Smart people who expect you to think fast and use a big girl, I mean, ADULT vocabulary? They would expect me to be witty, up to date and relevant when I might still have a sippy cup of rotting milk in my purse? They would expect me NOT to have brains for mush… I mean, mush for brains? For real, my friends, I am in big poopies. (Oh, that’s right. Grown-up words…) I mean I am in big bowel movements.

It has been a looooong time since I have felt like a confident, smart, able contributor to a working environment. 5 years! And hardly a whipper snapper any longer, I am on the verge of 35! My resume is sound asleep at the back of my computer in some dusty old file last used in 2004. I don’t know what I am doing. Ooooh and just you watch. I know office politics would take fast advantage of naive little me, they would chew me up and spit me out only to be cackled about over the water cooler. “Did you see that Caroline woman? What is SHE about? She doesn’t even own a blackberry! Yeah, she used a pen and paper to take notes at the meeting. Ew. And if she thinks she’s better than me because she’s ten years older than me, she can go back to mommy-land. Did you see what she was wearing? I SWEAR there were shoulder pads in that dress. Is that a purse or a diaper bag, by the way”. I am in way waaaaay big trouble.

And you know what’s even worse than not knowing how to work in the real world? I don’t even know WHAT it is that I want to do in the real world. A position in undergraduate college admissions is usually three jobs rolled into one: traveling saleswoman, around the clock resume reader and events planner. This sort of job doesn’t fly for any mom needing to work regular-ish hours so that she can pick up her kids from school or daycare. Plus they like fresh faced, smart looking, recent college grad types to represent an undergraduate college. Go get me my Geritol, I don’t fit that category any longer.

And what, pray tell me, is parent-friendly out there these days and actually pays well. WHAT? Because if I start over with a new career, does that mean I begin at the bottom? Will my starting salary match what I made in 1997 (which, at 23 years old, seemed like a million dollars at the time – snort – when gas was 99c a gallon). And during my first week of shuffling papers in my office cubicle, will some condescendingly brilliant corporate type tell me I have to work late because he is meeting his buddies to celebrate a friend’s 21st birthday? I’ll take a Diaper Genie full of poopie diapers ANY day over that sort of back to work crap. 

But, really, what has motherhood reduced me to? Where is that cool, confident Mount Holyoke grad? She seems far far gone. Parenting has morphed me into something quite different. My confidence seems at an all time low. I adore being a mother but – I admit it  – I am afraid of the working world. On top of my daily mommy tasks, how could I possibly handle deadlines and pressure and asking myself “is it good for the company”? You might as well move me to Bali because the working world seems just about as foreign a concept to me.

Actually, do you know what it is? Do you know what I am really truly afraid of?

How will I even care?

How will I not pine away my work day, counting down the hours, wishing I was with my kids again? How will I bring the same sort of work ethic I prided myself in – before I was a mother – to my current job when I know this silly work stuff means nothing – NOTHING – compared to playing Candyland with my child and watching him grow right before my eyes. Deadlines can bite it, get me home to my children.

So thats it. I just don’t think I will care. I just don’t think I can live with doing anything half-assed. I don’t want to try to look the part for some corporate gig when I am really a MOTHER, proudly toting her big, practical diaper bag, just doing what she loves best.

But there may not be a choice here. I need to buck up and figure out how to be both. Women do this alllll the time. They jump back in there, apply the multi-tasking skills they have since adopted as moms, get it done and get back home. Working moms probably DON’T care about “whats good for the company” as much as they care about whats good for their kids. As they should. Balance happens – somehow. Maybe not perfectly. Maybe not easily. But it does because it has to.

So where does this leave me? My always sought after “bottom-line” is needed right about now. Well. I think this simply boils down to a petulant identity crisis. I think I should hush up and give myself more credit. I think I will be good at whatever I do and still have the skillz to dodge office politics like a trained Olympiad. I think when it is time to start back to work, it’s simply a matter of jumping in and doing it. Wish me luck. Tell me I’m right and that I can do it. Tell me how you did it. Tell me you know the lyrics to “Let the River Run” from the movie Working Girl because that song is absolutely stuck in my head right now. ….”Come! The new Jerusalem!!!”



Filed under Economy, Identity crisis, Money, Parenting, Self-analysis, Working moms

Busched Gardens

To distract myself from the fact that T. turned 5 yesterday – and ultimately to remain in complete denial that my baby is actually growing up (insert “shuddering sob” here) – we took the family to Busch Gardens for Memorial day. We left our home at 8am, made a quick stop at IHOP for breakfast (T. had always wanted to go) and then arrived at the park, ready to rumble. We returned back home, zombie-like, at 7pm. What a day.

And you know what? I am still exhausted. Of course, my children awoke bright eyed at 6:15am as if yesterday never happened. However, I am sitting here, sore, tired, sunburned and overwhelmed by the entire experience.

In an effort to debrief all that we did, I thought I would share our day with you.

Excited, singing, anticipating, strapped into the Saturn, almost there. Sunny, beautiful day, but – oh crap – its gonna be hot, lined up with cars, cars, cars, pay at the gate, more cars, guys waving flags, park in a row, efficient, lets get out, lets just finally GET there already. Unloading our circus: kids, sit n stand stroller, backpack fat with goldfish, pretzels, clothes, diapers, wipes, medicine, water bottles full, sippy cups sloshing. We skip the bus and speed walk to the gates. People everywhere, every shape, every color, every variety of hat, flip flop, sunglasses, stroller, tank top, tattoo, t-shirt, bathing suit. Smells like sunscreen, popcorn, animals, fun. Shuffling through the gates – moo; shiny, smiling, colorful characters dressed in gold walking on stilts meet guests, pose for pictures. T. hides. C. waves frantically. We’re in! Maps out. T. reads it carefully in stroller, C. gapes at the buildings, the fountains, the flowers, the people people people, roller coasters roaring everywhere, the birds, the loud music, the sun, the trees, the color, the movement. We take off to the new section. Shaded areas, plexiglass, OH TIGERS! Cool. T. runs to the rope playground, C. wants OUT of stroller. Climbing, splashing, wondering, yelling, screaming, LOOK AT ME MOMMY!!!, laughing, climbing and climbing and climbing. He’s so high. Diaper change time. Where is T.??? WHERE IS T.!!!! Hi mommy! Oh. Wrangling. I’m hungry. I’m firsty. Pretzels. Water. More sunscreen. Off we go. Next, the congo river rapids, I take T. He jumps and fidgets while we wait. For. a. half. hour. People. Too close. Staring at odd back tattoos. Annoying wet people. Eavesdropping. We’re almost there T. So close now. Almost there. Do you think we’ll get wet? Our turn, we jump on. 5 minutes later, we step out. We’re really really reeeeeally wet. Meet Daddy. Walking, dripping, why didn’t I wear my bathing suit? I’m hungry. I’m firsty. Lunch time. I want to go on the Merry go round!!! Where is a table. WHERE IS YOUR BROTHER?? How much for chicken fingers??? We’ll split one. Is that “God Bless America” in Carousel music? Lets go see the pirate while we wait! I WANT TO GO ON THE MERRY GO ROUND! French fries, mommy wants french fries, everyone is eating french fries, must have must have… OK, Daddy, will you take them on the merry go round? I sneak french fries. Kids back, a few bites of $6 chicken, off they run. Pack it up, throw it out. Off we go. Yelling, roller coasters, people, kids, babies, stroller traffic, teenaged couples, more tattoos, lets go on the train. Where do we park the stroller? Do you have T.? Look at the big turtles. Wow, honey, yeah, cool…. where is my camera? Mommy, here comes the train! Please keep your hands and feet inside the train at all times. C. doesn’t like that idea. Wrestle wrestle wrestle – look there’s a Giraffe! Wrestle wrestle wrestle – look there’s a rhino! Wrestle, HUG, don’t be scared of the tunnel, its ok C.! Train stops. Off we go, C. on shoulders, backpack on, T. holding hands with Daddy, on to the skyride. Another line. Waiting. More people. Weird T-shirts. Teenagers rolling their eyes. C. trying to climb over the wall. Singing “do your ears hang low” to keep kids happy. More teenagers roll their eyes. I fight urge to trip them. Onto skyride. C. clings to me but peeks out, T. in heaven. Peaceful. Quiet. I smell elephant poop. Off we go, back onto stroller, the show starts in 10 minutes! Race through more people, more tattoos, more families of 5 stretched across the walkways just not getTING OUT OF THE WAY!!!!! Excuse me! Thanks! Daddy takes C. off to the quiet monkey section with shade, waterfalls, where napping potential is high. I grab T. and run for the theater. Inside, dark, FREEZING! Clothes still wet. Sit down. MUSIC!!! LIGHTS!!! COLOR!!! Fun, beautiful, singing, puppets, animals, stories, escape. T. is enthralled. Out we walk with the crowds, moo, back into the heat, bright light, wheres Daddy? Text him. “W. R. U?” Text back. “C. slpng. w/ mnkees.” Off we go. There they are. Daddy giving loud kids playing near sleeping C. dirty looks. C. wakes up, groggy, grumpy. Off we go. More animals. More smells. More discoveries. More children elbowing their way in to see. Giraffe, meerkats, lions, hyenas, hippos, fish, turtles, alligators, elephants, snakes. Daddy takes T. onto another ride. I keep C. occupied by walking walking walking. Stopping to watch a lemur. Walking walking walking. Stop to look at an alligator. Walking. Walking. Out runs T. Happy!! The water almost got us! I’m hungry. I’m firsty. Off to find pizza. Stroller is so very heavy now. Must. Push. It. Uphill. Where IS pizza? Are you kidding me? More tattoos. More people in the way. Stroller traffic. Roller coasters zooming by. C. and T. stunned, fascinated. Over-stimmed out of their minds. Still trying to push through. More strollers. People stopped reading maps in FRONT of us. Groan. EXCUSE ME! Thank you. Find pizza. Oh. And beer! Mmmmm. Sense of humor returns. Off to kid section. Oh, you’ve got to be kidding me with this really bad princess and dragon show. Kids laughing. Keep sipping that beer. C. runs for the stage, hold by shirt until show over, then C. charges Dragon. Hugs. Hi! Hugs. Patting dragons belly. C. in love. Off to play in kid section. Ferris wheels, carousels, flying dragons, boats, more rope playgrounds, yelling, laughing, climbing, jumping, rolling, discovering, wandering, for crying out loud – where is T.?? Look at watch. Late. Tired. Lets get out of here. All accounted for. I don’t wanna go! I want more fun! Uh-huh. Push through the crowds. Push through the gates. Push past crowds for bus and walk back to parking lot. Push the stroller up hill and give bus going by dirty looks. Can’t find car. Can’t find the energy. Oh. There it is. Pop trunk, stroller in. Kids buckled in, glassy-eyed. Daddy drives. I look through pics on camera. Get home. Done. T. is 5 and I am too tired to think about it anymore.

And this morning at 6:30am, as I lay on the couch watching CNN, feeling sorry for myself since I am sore and still absolutely WIPED OUT from yesterday, T. says to me “I want to do something fun today”. Great googlie mooglie.


Filed under Birthdays, Busch Gardens, Family, Parenting

Hil, I’m officially out…

While scrubbing loop after loop of crazy pencil markings off my kitchen walls this morning (thanks for that, C…. #$%@!), I finally came to the conclusion that I am no longer at all on the fence between our two potential democratic nominees. Last night, I sat stunned watching pundits rehash Hillary’s comments about the viability of her candidacy and then mentioning RFK’s assasination happening to occur in June also. Seriously, Hil, WTF?

Honestly, being the eternal optimist, I really reeeeaally want to believe she didn’t mean it the way it came out. Tell me she was just tired, right? Tell me she meant that her husband didn’t wrap it up until June and RFK was still wrapping his race up in June also and that mentioning him had NOTHING to do with his assisination, not really. Right? Even though discussions and concerns about the potential threat of assisnation have surrounded the Obama camp for some time. Its just GOTTA be a bad coincedence… right? She’s not THAT calculating, she can’t possibly be that on top of whats she saying at every moment to have planned that to come out the way it did. Right?

I dunno. And because I really DON’T know, I’m out.

Blogger Queen of Spain has it right. She’s honestly jumped the shark. I think that was all a lot of us needed to finally push away from her table and say “no thanks”. Can you imagine if she said something like that as the democratic nominee? I would be freaking out.

But (as all our politicians like to say), let me be clear. I am pretty sad about pulling out on Hillary. I know Obama has been my front runner for a few months now but, I’m sad. There is a lot of good in her campaign. There is a lot of great change she COULD make. But right now, I simply just don’t trust her. I am questioning her intentions. And as soon as I start doing something like that, it means I really can’t back her with a full heart.

Good luck, Hillary. I know your ride isn’t over. I’m just hopping off right now. If my opinion counts for anything, I don’t think you’re our answer for President. Thanks anyway, though.



Filed under Hillary Clinton, Obama, Politics

Really thinking about STUFF.

With my new washer all hooked up, I have settled back into washing daily loads upon loads of dirty laundry again. While sorting socks and thanking my lucky stars for that sweet Kenmore yet again (sigh), I was reminded of my first year and a half with my oldest boy T. We lived in a small one bedroom apartment outside of Boston. The one bedroom was big and we were able to divide it off between us and the baby. However, the apartment itself was a lesson in humility to be sure. Our kitchen was tiny with a small frig, a small oven and no dishwasher. We also did not have a washer or dryer. And with a newborn producing mass quantities of every sort of bodily fluid, it was a struggle. But in the moment, I thought to myself: remember this. Why? Because we got by. We did it. We didn’t have a ton of space, a ton of stuff, we didn’t have every cool appliance or endless cool new baby gadgets. And we were fine.

So now we live in a house, but it’s certainly not the biggest house around. My boys share a room and their toys compete with our living space (the toys are winning by a long shot). Again, I think back to our Boston apartment days. We had a lot less, and we were fine.

Maybe its partly to save money or be more “green” or to save space, but I find myself coming back to the same realization: there is way way WAY too much excess expected in our lives.

Its impossible to avoid. We live in such a world of stuff. Catalogs, websites, malls, magazines, commercials, talk shows… they beckon and lure us in. Friends, moms, neighbors all around fall in love with stuff and try to convince us we need it too. Its cool, its fun, its efficient, its absolutely necessary to get by.

And what is it that we all seem to need? 

How about household stuff: Two cars, and after 4 or 5 years, turn them in for new ones. Stainless steel appliances, even though those regular white ones still work fine. Two computers – a laptop and a regular sized PC with a nice flat screen monitor. Scanners, printers, cable boxes, wireless routers, DVD players, surround sound systems, and a million power strips to try and support it all. A grill, a big one with a big gas canister attached. Ipods, iphones and all the iattachments. Digital cameras, video cameras, phone cameras. Chargers for everything. Digital picture frames, security systems, a TV mounted on the porch, halogen track lighting. Blue tooth stuff. Flat screen TVs – for every room. Video gaming equipment and games upon games upon games. Cool chairs to sit in while you play those games. Garage door openers, garbage compactors, lawn mowers, edgers, whipper snippers, sprinkler systems to maintain unnaturally green grass.

What about babies? Well they need: bassinettes, cribs, excersaucers, bumbos, bouncers, swings, jumparoos, slings, backpacks, play mats, pack n plays, video and/or audio monitors, high chairs, 3 strollers minimally, car seats for each car, and every latest Baby Einstien developmental toy out there. You don’t have those? You’re a horrible mom. And then the diapers. Do I even need to explain the diapers? The excess which diapers represent? And how many of us know cloth diapered babies? I think I can count on one hand moms who use cloth diapers. And I am not one of them. Of course, kids do get potty trained (with potty seats and stickers and treats and endless loads of washing to clean up mistakes). 

Then comes the kid stuff: train tables, all the $15 Thomas the train trains, princess gear, swing sets, board games with pieces spread all over the house, dress up clothes, books upon books upon books, heaps of forgotten stuffed animals (where do they all come from?), bikes of every size, wagons, slip n slides, pools, sandboxes, kiddie kitchen sets, plastic this, plastic that, bright, buzzing, falling apart. New clothes, always new. Old clothes hardly worn because they grew.

Our clothes: Piles of ancient fraying t-shirts, old jeans you swear you’ll fit into, shoulder padded dresses you’ve forgotten you used to like, jackets of every sort even though you live in Florida. Clothes with tags still on them because the sale was too good in the store, but they are sort’ve ugly out of the store. Clothes you bought trying to feel better, clothes you bought that made you feel worse. And shoes that seem to reproduce at the bottom of the closet, old ones falling stiff and flat and forgotten.

Food: Meat, every night, with packaging. Veggies bought, never eaten, rotting at the bottom of the crisper. Bags of potatoes bought in bulk that grow spuds faster than they’re eaten. Leftovers you swear you were going to eat, but seemed to have crawled off to the back of the frig. Seperate overly packaged containers of yogurt, applesauce, cookies, crackers, cheese, granola bars, easy mac, formula, juice. Bottles and bottles of water. Cans and cans of soda. (What DOES soda do exactly?)

And then cleaning it all up: Water left on while you rinse a plate. Handfuls of paper towels to clean up any water spilt while washing that plate. Antibacterial wipes – which we all love – pulled out and used for everything, then tossed. Cleaners of every variety, in big colorful containers. Water is still left on this time to brush teeth, to wash the kids hair in the tub, to water the plants, to play in, to wash the car… oh the water is still on? And some of us recycle, some stuff, some of the time.

Getting anywhere with your stuff: Cool mommy minivan started up and air conditioner on. Gotta get to that other mall across town for that sale. Gunning the accelerator to get through the yellow light. Waiting with the car on, music blaring, a/c blasting in the oh so long drive-thru line …GASGASGASGASGAS…

All of this is just stuff. And a lot of this stuff I have. Or want. We’ve all got it, we all compare it, we all enjoy it, we all toss it out without another thought. I guess what I am trying to do is simply THINK about it. What do I have? What do I really need? What can I live with or without? I want to be aware of why I buy yogurt in individual containers as opposed to the one big quart sized container. Or why I toss things into my cart in the dollar section of Target. Do we really need a new TV? Nope. Did we need that new washer? Yup. But I have made do without one before. So, excuse me as I go gather my garbage for our twice weekly and oh-so-easy curbside pick up tomorrow. I need to go and really think.


Filed under Getting green, Materialism, Self-analysis, Stuff I have, Unnecessary stuff

Coming clean: the music I shamelessly love.

I am absolutely 100% guilty of loving cheesy stuff. After watching George Michael last night on America Idol (I thought he was amazing, by the way), his performance reminded me about my closeted taste in cheesy music. And I can assure you, much to my husband’s horror, I am shameless about it. I would bet that we are ALL in the closet about some artist or another. And you’re probably somewhat concerned that if the outside world really knew what you listened to, you would be tarred, feathered, and heckled ruthlessly. To inspire all of you to stand up for the cheese you believe in, I am coming out of the closet. While I listen to plenty of “regular” fairly cool (I think) stuff, here are my favorite categorically cheesy music artists. Maybe some aren’t that cheesy to a few of you. If that’s the case, then cool. That makes me feel better. Maybe I have some hope of fairly decent music taste? (snort) …NAH.

  1. George Michael – From Wham! to his days in bathroom stalls, I have been by his side. The man is talented!
  2. Hall and Oats – My fist tape was Rock and Soul, part 1 and I played it into the ground. I think I went through 3 copies of that tape before CDs were available. While I was pregnant with my second child, I saw them in concert. Absolutely amazing; Daryl still knows how to move those long flowing locks (sigh).
  3. Prince – Have you heard his version of “Nothing Compares to You”? Please. Nothing compares to him. And his Sign of the Times album was amazing.
  4. Justin Timberlake – NSync and today… what? He’s GOOD!
  5. Def LeppardHysteria was the BEST. Pour some sugar on me? You bet!
  6. The Carpenters – Karen Carpenter had the voice of angel. If you dare to disagree, let’s take it outside. No one disrespects my Karen. (So intimidating, ain’t I?)
  7. The Bee Gees – Basically the whole Saturday Night Fever Soundtrack means good, clean, dance crazy fun.
  8. Heart – Oh you bet. And yes, their old stuff was good, but I met them in the 80s when their hair taller than my husband. “Never”, “Alone”, “All I wanna do is make love to you”. I LOVE those girls.
  9. The Culture Club – You laugh, but if I play my Best of Boy George, I guarantee you’ll turn it up when you hear those intro words “Give me tiiiiiime. To, realize, my criiiime…” 
  10. Michael Jackson– I know I know… I guess I am referring mostly to Thriller, Off the Wall and other songs when he was sane. Or sane-ish. Obviously, the man was (is??) talented. At 10, I used to dream his limo would break down in front of my house and he’d need to come in and use the phone. Yeah, that’s so likely in suburbia Washington D.C., I know. And yup, I even had a glove and Michael Jackson pins on my jean jacket. …Seriously, none of you all are going to respect me in the morning, are you?
  11. Phil Collins– From Genesis to But Seriously, I had a hankering for that little bald man’s music. (What DOES Susudio mean??) But when he started doing Disney soundtracks, he kind of lost me.
  12. Rod Stewart– This is actually my husbands secret cheesy music favorite. But that old school “Do you think I’m sexy” song might just take the cake! Have you seen the video? Hysterical.
  13. Lionel Richie– During his years head to foot in sequins with The Commodores and then as a solo artist in the 80s, his hits were endless…. “Endless Love”, really.

I could go on, but lets stop here. Much to my horror, most of these artists were popular – yet still just as cheesy – in the 80s. If my youngest sister in law read this list, she would hassle me to no end. Not only has this list outed me as a tacky, cheese loving, top 40s listening dork… it’s nailed me as an OLD dork. But I will leave you with it, none the less. What are your favorite closested but oh-so-cheesy musical artists? While you ponder, watch this – can your cheese honestly compete with mine?


Filed under Cheesy stuff I like, Music

Kids dodge bullets. Parents deal with it.

Yesterday, my son T. had a small shard of metal removed from his eye. That’s right, I said metal. And, yup, I just about fainted to the floor when I found out what it was. But here’s the thing. He had this shard in his eye for a couple days and it didn’t bother him at all. In fact, I saw it there and couldn’t figure out what could be on his eye and not bother him. So he went into the pediatrician yesterday and we were immediately sent across town to a pediatric opthamologist. After some tests and finally a good old fashioned q-tip, out came this teeny tiny but oh so pointy shard of metal. METAL. And it never hurt him. The doctor said it was “smooth side down” and he was very lucky. Another shocking part of this story was that my wonderful boy never even cried, ever! But once I had my boys strapped into the car and was driving back across town, I finally did.

For those of you who are parents, don’t you feel our children are constantly dodging bullets? I know I talk about fear and parenting a lot. Obviously I have issues. But, for real, it seems children are so often on the verge of possible traumatic injury. Everyday. They seem one step away from walking into traffic. One monkey bar away from falling and cracking their skull. One wrestle away from stitches or missing teeth. And apart from the everyday habitual fussing and panicking we are all guilty of, there is honestly not much more we can do to protect them. When I decided to have kids, I really had NO idea what I was signing on for, you know?

We are 6 days shy of celebrating T’s 5th birthday. It is also the anniversary of his most impressive bullet dodging feat ever. After having been born by emergency c-section, T. was not breathing. They were able to resuscitate him but, after being transferred to Boston’s Children’s Hospital, he started having seizures. There was clear evidence of brain injury. There was a shadow on his MRI. There were discussions about possible cerebral palsy and other developmental issues. We were signed up for early intervention and attended an infant CPR class while he was watched over in the NICU, hooked up to every tube possible, and deeply sedated by the anti-seizure medication.

In a matrix style, slow-mo, impossible-even-in-the-movies type of bullet dodging, T. fought back. And 11 days after he was born, his MRI came back clean. The stern, bow-tied neurologist admittedly said “We don’t use the word ‘extraordinary’ around here very often…” and he was released from the NICU, unplugged from everything and all ours.

T. has grown into something unexplainable but absolutely extraordinary. He knew his ABCs entirely by 18 months. At 2 years he knew his phonics and he was reading by his third birthday. He reads maps for fun, watches the classical music cable station (when he isn’t begging me to put on a Star Wars movie), and is fascinated with human anatomy (“Was the metal stuck in my cornea, mom? Cool.”) He is far too wise for his years, cautious as if he knows better, and truly my right hand man.

Not surprisingly, in my mind, he has a super hero quality. Able to stop speeding bullets with his bare hands. He has walked over a pgymy rattle snake that happened to cross his path. He only reacted with hives to a potentially deadly peanut allergy. And even yesterday, they tested his vision – its perfect. That seems an impossibility when he comes from generations of legal blindness, coke bottle lensed glasses and macular degeneration on both sides of his family.

Now of course, he is not a superhero. He is a boy and comes from a long line of insane boys. Did you know his father once dug a hole in his yard, set up a jump next to it, poured gasoline into the hole, threw a lit match in, and proceeded to jump his bike over that fiery pit until he was caught? Did you know his uncle (my brother) used to steal chemicals out of the school chem lab to make home-made pipe bombs to throw in ponds to catch fish? Complete and total insanity. And I’m not saying girls don’t do insane things too, but I expect regular trips to the emergency room in my future to claim either of my stitched up or freshly casted sons.

So, I really need a bottom line here. And, while seemingly in a perpetual state panic, I think I just keep coming back to the same conclusion. Danger happens. And -ok, parents, grasp this crazy possibility- maybe our children are better off for it.

Shit. I need a drink.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing.” – Helen Keller

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Filed under parental fear, Parenting

Washer Love

A few weeks ago, I ended a very important relationship. Actually, he ended it, he just gave up on me. After almost three years together, he finally stopped putting any effort into what we had. Sure, when we met, he had been around the block a few times and had been a little used and abused. The rust, the flimsy parts, he really just wasn’t well put together. I SHOULD have known. All the signs were there. And then, without warning, he stopped doing his best move… his spin cycle. Whirlpool packed it in on me and left me and my piles, heaps, MOUNTAINS of stinky boy clothes to sit alone in rejected misery.

Well, come on now. You can’t leave a woman like me, with the laundry needs I have, high and dry like that. No sir. So, I’ll admit it. Over the past couple weeks, I have played the field with a cute washer down the road. It was fun. We had wild, overloaded, nonstop Sunday afternoons together. Honestly, my friend Veronica was the instigator. She told me not to feel guilty about it, I NEEDED to do this, I would feel better the rest of the week if I just got it done. But, ultimately, he wasn’t there for me either. Not really. He just wasn’t ready for a long term commitment. I needed a man willing to go the long haul, to be there night and day – everyday. Call me pushy but my washer had to move in with me, no questions asked – and as soon as possible. I guess I came on a little strong. And it was over between us.

So, realizing that playing the field was not the answer, I knew it was time to find someone new. Brand spanking new, in fact. And, I am a tricky woman to match up with. I have high expectations and endless demands. I don’t want some golddigger machine whose going to show up pimped out with flashy buttons and chrome detailing, and then expect me to support that kind of lifestyle. And I don’t want a 3.0 cu small tub man either. Hell no. I need a big capcity – tough, able to stand up to the mess I’m in and fully prepared for a lot of agitation. C’mon, lets just face it. I have a lot of dirty laundry and my new washer needs to be ready to bring it.

So, what do women in their thirties do these days when they are looking for the right partner? They get online, of course. I used all the comparing tools and read up on all of the fancy washers out there. I even sought out my family for advice and support. There were so many possibilities. How would I ever find a future partner to agitate, soak and spin my days with?

But suddenly, I knew I had found my man. His name is Kenmore Elite Oasis. This morning, he was dropped off at my house: unboxed, shiny, and standing taller than his new wingman, my old dryer. He has a huge capacity, he is very water efficient, he’s straight forward and easy to understand. Within in the first couple hours here, he had already finished two loads of laundry, spun cleanly out in his shiny new basin. This guy isn’t afraid to work hard for me. He’s quiet too, HE never complains loudly so the whole house knows when he’s been asked to do a load of laundry. I know that Kenmore (I like to call him Kenny) is here for the long haul. Do you know what else? He just looks good, you know? Yeah, yeah, so I said I didn’t want a lot of fuss and fancy bling complicating the works… but he’s got some really cool light up buttons and sweet extra functions. I didn’t ask for them, but he has them anyway. And I likey.

So thats our story so far. Everything is still very new and exciting. I suppose we have yet to get through the honeymoon phase. But for now, I am so happy and grateful to have this huge, stacked, gorgeous washer in my life. Check in with us in a couple years. Who knows, maybe there will be kids in our future. I have always wanted a bouncing baby dishwasher with a hard water filter. And then maybe a little brother refrigerator to keep her company. It could happen. With Kenny and his slick new light up dials, it seems anything is possible.


Filed under Shopping, Stuff I have

After winter, must come spring.

After a long day yesterday, I sat down in front of the TV to put on my running shoes. I was certainly NOT running (eww), but I have been trying to escape every evening for a walk with my ipod in hand and my thoughts for company. As I was tying up my shoes, my man, Keith Olbermann was just getting warmed up on MSNBC. And right before I grabbed my ipod, he announced he would be making a “special comment” tonight about, my scumbag, George Bush. As a teaser, he mentioned the fact that Bush had decided he had quit playing golf out of “respect” for those that have died in Iraq. Ohhhh, this was gonna be good. I had to be back in time to watch.

So off I went, into the evening. Sun already set, the Florida air was finally cool, sprinklers on, people walking their dogs before it was finally dark, cars coming home from work and pulling into driveways.

It feels so good to move, GET OUT and be child free in that moment. But my mind wandered back to our president’s sacraficed golf game. His enormous ego, complete lack of responsibility and general stupidity makes me want to spit. And then the news in general right now. Iraq is as bad as its ever been. And I haven’t even touched on the topic of Myanmar or the earthquake in China because it is so horrifying, I can’t even do the topic justice. I have no idea how to even wrap my brain around the kind of loss they have suffered. I have no idea how to understand it, process it or make any kind of peace with it. And now Clinton is still holding on, tenacious however still suported. I respect her for this, but I’m so discouraged that we still don’t have a nominee. And the talk that her votes wouldn’t go to Obama anyway, and then recent discussions that race might play more of a role for voters than I ever expected. We are unsettled, we aren’t working forward towards resolution. We are spinning our wheels. So, yeah, I was a little bummed out.

And then my ipod shuffled and up popped a song by Lauryn Hill called “Everything is Everything”. I have mentioned before how music can change me. Well, this song did some magic.

Sometimes it seems
We’ll touch that dream
But things come slow or not at all
And the ones on top, wont make it stop
So convinced that they might fall
Let’s love ourselves then we can’t fail
To make a better situation
Tomorrow, our seeds will grow
All we need is dedication

Let me tell ya that,
Everything is everything
Everything is everything
After winter, must come spring
Everything is everything

Everything is everything
What is meant to be, will be
After winter, must come spring
Change, it comes eventually

Ok, I feel some hope. This change can happen. We can do this. Just push forward. My walking pace was at full speed by this point. I still refused to run (eww), but I felt fast and able and suddenly a little hopeful.

When I got home, I pulled off my shoes, grabbed some water and saddled up to watch Olbermann give his special comment. After winter, must come spring. 

I give you, my man, Keith Olbermann and his Special Comment.

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Filed under Bush, Florida, Inspiring people, Music, Obama, Politics, TV

Sweet sixteen and never been exiled.

Last night, snuggled into bed, I watched part of MTV’s “The Hills”finale. What? So it’s the most vapid, horrifyingly shallow, “un”reality show ever. Of course, I am well aware that I am almost 35 and this admission may have pushed me a couple notches lower on the “grounded, has a clue, feminist” scale. But, whatever, I’m coming out of my MTV closet. I was watching it. And while hurling insults at that horrid human, Spencer, I saw a commercial for a new “reality” show. My Super Sweet Sixteen – EXILED.

Oh, mother of pearl. My prayers have been answered.

I may have mentioned before my visceral distaste for the show My Super Sweet Sixteen.It stands for everything that is wrong with parenting today. The expectations it sets for tweens everywhere absolutely fill me with horror. For real. It’s televised p*rn for the self centered, materialistic teenaged masses. Hell yeah, I’m getting a Escalade for my birthday. Hell yeah, I’ll fly to Paris to buy four dresses for one party. Hell yeah!! And you suck if you don’t!

Ugh, I am just not sure what to say. Except… gag me with a spoon. I’m 35, ok? As I often do while watching MTV, I am connecting with the permed out 80s teenager still living inside of me.

So anyway, MTV has now decided to take the stars of these shows (I can hardly stomach the fact that there have been 61 episodes to date of this trash) and plop them in the middle of a third world country. And as I watched this trailer, I found myself sitting up in bed, madly snickering and clapping with glee. Oooooh, they’re gonna GET theirs now…

But I have to add in a sidebar here. These parents need some exiling themselves. How could they have EVER gone along with “My Super Sweet Sixteen” in the first place? What part of showering their teen aged children with money, cars, and live performers – and then taping it all for a national television show – was ever a good idea? While their kids are getting schooled in Peru, India and Kenya, I hope someone, anyone (Super Nanny, where are you?) is setting them straight while shredding every credit card in sight.

And I also feel for the families who are hosting these girls. UGH. I suppose our status as the “Ugly Americans” can’t get much worse these days (thanks, Dubya) but I know I will cringe seeing these families react to their horrid, self serving behavior. Please, wonderful people of our earth, ALL AMERICANS DON’T SUCK THIS BAD!

But here is the irony. Back in 1987, I went through my own little teenaged exile. I wasn’t 16, I was 14. And it wasn’t Kenya, it was Swaziland. I may have had my reasons back then, but there can be no denying it – I was a very unreasonable 14 year old. And in the summer of ’87, kicking, “UH-MUH-GAWD”ing and screaming, my parents dropped me in Africa. So there.  And was I schooled? Oh, you bet.

So why do I take such glee watching these privileged brats get such a drastic slap in the face? Is it my own issues of wanting to see other kids go through what I did? No, I don’t think so. Or is it the fact that at 35, I am painfully aware of how much excess we American have – and EXPECT to have? Do I shudder at how little we Americans understand about humanity on a global scale? Do I feel heaps of shame when my fellow Americans don’t even WANT to learn more about cultures other than their own? HELL YEAH. And guess what sweet sixteeners… you suck if you don’t.

My brother and myself. Still new to Africa. Getting a clue.


Filed under Africa, Materialism, MTV, Parenting

A mother’s mind at 4:00am

When you decide you want to have children, there is a whole list of things no one tells you. Its like some underground parental code and, if it were leaked to those hopeful married couples on the verge of family life, we may never actually procreate. And I think there is a whole section in that code devoted to sleep, or lack there of. Of course, newbie parents would assume an infant won’t sleep through the night and you will be up at all hours feeding him or her. But no one actually tells us that once we have children, parents pretty much never sleep through the night again. Usually, my sons are to blame, even all these years since the newborn stage: T. wants to be in our bed, C. is up whining he wants his blanket over him again, someone wants water, someone is sick, T. saw something in his closet, the list goes on. And that stuff is 100% part of parenting, even if you weren’t completely clued in when you signed up for this gig. But, I think I missed the fine print of that code where it explains that even when your kids sleep through the night, you don’t.

Around 3:00 or 4:00am, my body wakes me up. Whats going on. Its too quiet. No one is awake. Is everyone breathing ok? My husband certainly is. Hmmmm. Oh wait, I have to pee. Now I’m thirsty. Now I hear rustling in their room. I better go check to be sure they’re fine so they (now don’t laugh) wake me up. And on my way back to my room, I turn off the fan and the power button on the stereo (I hate wasting electricity) and make sure windows are shut. I may as well fill up on water too.

Once I have finally determined that all is well, I settle into bed ready to really sleep. Well, of course, I don’t sleep. Instead, I must solve the worlds problems. This is a little running list of what thoughts went through my head in bed from about 3:30am until 4:15am last night.

  • I’m a little hot. The air conditioning is on though. Is this the early onset of menopause? I am going to be 35 in a couple months. God, I’m old.
  • Do I need to pee again? At this age I better take care of my bladder. Isn’t it inevitable that moms are incontinent eventually? I don’t want to smell like pee. Honestly, IS my bladder really totally empty? Its kind of hard to tell. Maybe they botched up my last c-section and put my bladder back in wrong.
  • C. drank a lot before bed, his diaper is going to be MASSIVE.
  • T. didn’t drink enough after soccer tonight, is he going to be dehydrated? I better check the potty after he goes in the morning.
  • Soccer. UUGGGGHHH. WHY did I agree to host an ice cream party after our last game next week? My husband won’t even be in town! Maybe I can get my friend to take T. to the game and stay home to really get this place in order…. how many people are coming? I don’t have that space! Maybe I can put the ice cream table on the grass to the left of the door. Or to the right? Do I buy beer or expect people to bring that? Will just hot dogs and ice cream be enough? The grill is near the door, that seems dangerous. The grill needs cleaning. And so does my entire house…. ACK! (heartbeat is racing by this point.)
  • Calm down. Relax body. Count backwards to fall asleep. No that never works. Play the name game. A… Aidan. B… Brady. C… Connor. D… David. E…. Ethan. I feel bad I didn’t go to Ethan’s mommy’s baby shower. Do you think she still likes me?
  • I need a shower. At least its the weekend and my husband can keep them out of the bathroom.
  • Tomorrow is a boat ride. Fun! Oh wait. Grooooaaan. I have to put myself in a bathing suit. Publicly. Maybe my “Bush refund check” can help me buy a new suit? Yes! First thing, I am going to get up and go buy something that makes me look spectacular. (Because the swim suit rack at Target is really that promising.)
  • What time is it? My glasses are in the way of my clock. Does T. need glasses? Does C.? Both sides of our family have horrid vision. C. seems to squat down and get close to other kids. Is he having trouble seeing them? Oh no, will he need glasses as early as I did? I need to get them checked. Will they look dorky in glasses? Hmmm… I used to do hearing and vision testing for community service in high school. If I could just find a website to print off a vision chart and put it the correct length away, I could check T. at least. Oh but our printer is out of ink. I can get that at Target too. Yes, I am up early to get a printer cartridge and a CUTE bathing suit.
  • Is the front door locked?

I just want to know what it was that finally allowed me to fall asleep. And it seems to me that I often get a better nights sleep when they wake up. Because I go deal with them and then fall right back to sleep. But when its quiet, too quiet, my brain races.

And, often enough, husbands seem programmed NOT to wake up at night. Pretty much ever. There are nights where I run back and forth from their bedroom 3 or 4 times and he will have no idea. Oh, I can feel bitter and swear little sounds like “%$#@!” in the bubble over my head. But, let’s face it. Who is bright eyed and bushy tailed at 6:00am ready to deal when they wake up chanting “cheer-ree-ohs! cheer-ree-ohs!” over and over? Not I. I am exhausted. My husband takes over, usually with no idea of the previous night’s adventures. Or the major world issues I have concerned myself with and have probably brilliantly solved. What would my family do without me?

Nevertheless, in the light of the day, I am less worried about my son’s vision. I feel rational and much less inspired to go bathing suit shopping in Target, on a Saturday, just to hate my body more in the harsh florecent lights. Yeah, spectacular ain’t gonna happen there. The soccer thing? Ugh. I’ll worry about that later. Maybe tonight, around 3:00am.


Filed under parental fear, Parenting