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Hear That?

I lay in bed last night greedy in utter darkness. Since having Sun, we keep a nightlight on in her room and sleep with our bedroom doors open. It’s never dark enough for me at night anymore. Or quiet enough. Every time I stir in the middle of the night, I automatically look for that light and listen for the quiet to know Sun is soundly sleeping.

Sun spent the last two nights at my sister’s house, and I’ve had the luxury of darkness. And quiet. A quiet that is different from the quiet that comes from a soundly sleeping child. This quiet was of the knowledge that your child was soundly sleeping and that someone else with whom you have complete confidence is charged with the duty of listening for that break in sound sleeping. I didn’t have to keep my ears cued, my arms ready to welcome a Sun awoken by a bad dream (maybe of an evil witch in her fairy tales?), my eyes adjusted to having a light in them all night.

I lay in quiet thinking, “This used to be the quiet I heard every night.” And although at first blush it may sound the same as the quiet of a soundly sleeping child, any parent can tell you (while holding back a chuckle) that it is NOWHERE near the same.

I miss my Sun. And am delighted to be seeing her in a couple of hours. But, oh, how I miss my nights of darkness and quiet.

Falling

We love people for who they are on the inside: how they treat us and others and how they make us feel. We want so much to have that love in a tangible way—so we can touch it, feel it, know it is real—that we fall in love with the person’s very humanness: You love the gentleness of the soul and find that gentleness in the shape of their fingernails. You love the person’s capacity to forgive and see that in their deep, beautiful eyes. You love their voice, the words they say and find that beauty in the curl of their lips. You love how well they listen to you and find your fingers outlining the curves of their perfectly shaped ears.

When I fell in love with Captain Sarcastic over a decade ago and hitched my wagon to his star, the only regret I had was the knowledge that if this was IT, I’d never fall in love again. Sure, you re-connect and re-fall in love, but it isn’t the same as finding someone new and falling in love with their humanness for the first time.

No one ever told me that the romantic notion we have about falling in love is every bit applicable to the love you feel for your child. I smell Sun’s hair or milky breath, I hear her say “Nite, nite, Mommy,” I feel her holding my fingers and plucking my fingernails, and every aspect of her humanness, and my discovery of it, has my earth shaking beneath me. I want to squeeze her and never let go. And when her thin little arms snake around my neck and return my hug, I melt. There is nothing less in the skipping of my heartbeat now than when I first fell in love with my husband.

And THAT is the truest gift of motherhood.

I returned again this year to the Open House of the grammar school we want Sun ultimately to attend.  I walked away confident in our decision to send her there for grammar school but prefer where she is now for preschool.  However, I have since learned that her current school does not offer a 3-day-per-week program like it does for toddlers. Soooo, either school, we’ll be paying for her to attend five days a week.  And since her current school would then cost TWICE as much as her new school, the decision has been made to make the switch in the Fall.

Every time I even think about that last sentence, the air surrounding me evaporates.  I am not ready.  I fear she isn’t ready.  Ok, I think she’ll do fine. Me? Not so much.

I’ve been living these past couple of days wrapping my head around returning to work five days a week; of losing my two weekdays not in the office; of not being with my daughter two full weekdays every week.  Alas.

Since Sun will be going to school five days a week and all of three years old, we feel strongly that she not attend after-care and turn her days into 10-hour ones.  And since her class will start at 8am, 3pm seems a long enough day.  With no after-care as the goal, CS and I plan to rotate picking her up from school, leaving our jobs early on alternating days to get her and do what work we can from home once we get her.  I expect I’ll be picking her up three days a week.

I am currently in the office about 24 hours a week.  Give or take.  This new regime will have me arriving earlier, but every day, and leaving early three times a week.  I expect it’ll get me in the office about 30 hours a week.

Going from 24 to 30 hours in the office, I know, seems like nothing.  And I KNOW many moms work 40 hour weeks away from home and I should be grateful. And I AM.  I AM.  But I still will miss those two golden days I have now that are mine spent at home.  I do laundry, play with Sun, garden, cook, clean, work, nap with Sun; I do whatever Sun and I are up to, and that’s usually just puzzles and dolls and tv and housework.

I fear going into the office every weekday will stifle the decadent golden time I’ve had these two-plus years spent in my garden, in my kitchen, with my young daughter, with time to burn.  I fear it will be a struggle to get into the office an hour or more earlier each day (I HATE mornings) and to get out of the office around 3pm (my afternoons are so productive!).  Can I shift things around and really make the hours mean that more time in the office will equate to more hours being billed?

I have voluntarily worked a reduced load since Sun was born, and it has worked on all levels (well, that reduced income wasn’t wonderful, but, oh, so worth it).  I know I am not good with change, even with change that is good. But I’d expected this three-day a week routine to continue with Sun until kindergarten, and then maybe even beyond for me.  And this sudden about-face has shaken me up.

Our choices, though far more than many families, are not unlimited, and this isn’t the ideal choice for me.  But really?  I KNOW it’s the right choice:  For Sun, our family, my career, and me.  But oh is it gonna be a hard adjustment!

Looking back, the signs were there.  But when you aren’t looking, how can you see them?

So today when my period turned angry and stopped me in my tracks, I assumed it was what I’m told about ALL my new ailments: It’s yet another sign of aging.

Then the flow got really heavy.  No worries, just a desire for good meds.  Then clots appeared.  Doubt crept in. Could I have been…?  Am I now…?

My mother-in-law is staying with us, and we canceled our afternoon plans so I could wear sweat pants and suffer at home.  She also got me to call my doctor.  He asked if I was sure I wasn’t pregnant.  And then the math hit me.  I mean, it was possible, albeit improbable.  So he asked that I take a pregnancy test and if positive go to his office tomorrow to be sure “nothing’s left behind.”

I called CS at work and explained things and asked him to bring me home a pregnancy test.  And that damn thing showed “Pregnant” faster than I had time to even come close to bracing for such a result.  Stunned, I walked out of the bathroom.  My mother-in-law was walking past the door.  I tossed the stick to her.  She read it and said, “NO WAY.”  Then she brought it to CS, who was running Sun’s bath.

I then went into the bathroom where CS was (and Sun wasn’t yet).  We stared at each other.  Stunned.  Then we talked a bit.  And I realized that CS was under the mistaken impression that I was carrying a viable pregnancy.  I clarified there was NO WAY I wasn’t losing it — hadn’t already lost it.

Then I went to the den and sat down.

Stunned.

Dazed.

Relieved.

I know I’ve posted about our decision to have no more children.  To do no more fertility treatment.  We were coasting along on a “if it happens” mentality.  But when you KNOW it won’t, can’t, happen, you accept it.  And although we felt that we DID have the ability to have another child, and it WAS our decision not to, there was a nagging hint of doubt.  What if we could easily get pregnant?   Have we just decided we don’t want another because of the stress/cost/etc. of fertility treatment?  Were we just “deciding” what was already a foregone conclusion without intervention?

And before I took that pregnancy test I thought, it doesn’t matter what it reads.  Either way, I am NOT having a baby now.  It won’t MEAN anything.  We have no attachment, no expectation.

And then I saw the one word. “Pregnant.”  And my hand shook a bit.  And my nerves shook a lot.

And I sat on the sofa.  Marveling at my own girly parts.  Our fertility doctor had said that if we’d wanted another baby, we’d maybe not even have to do fertility again because my hormonal dysfunction could sort of “re-set” itself after a healthy pregnancy and delivery.

And then I realized that for the past 3 or so years that I thought, no matter what that fertility doctor may have said to me, that I’ve ALWAYS been infertile and could NOT have another child without intervention, that I’d been wrong.  That yet again I’d underestimated myself, my body, and assumed the worst.  That I was just temporarily infertile!  That we really DO have a choice to have another child.  That our decision NOT to have another child is real.  And that decision is mutual.  And right for us.  So instead of tears, there was a small smile.

Tonight, I was liberated.

I CAN, DID, get pregnant without a doctor in the room!  And we really, truly, choose for me not to get pregnant, for us not to have a baby, again.  That nagging doubt?  It too flowed out of me today.  Once and for all.

The Way We Live Now

I drop Sun off at daycare once a week. Last week, there was an, er, incident. I thought I’d blog about it and then decided to let it pass. And it stayed with me and came up again today in conversation. Considering it is STILL bugging me, I thought I’d throw it out here.

After walking Sun to her classroom, I left the building to return to my car. The personnel at the front door let me out and locked the door behind me. Just as she does for every person coming or going into and out of the school.

As I am approaching the corner, I see a man standing on the grass between the sidewalk and the street. I need to pass him. He’s alone, and his neck is bent such that he cannot hold his head up fully erect. And he’s looking down the street back towards the school.

My Mommy Radar went up. But so did my You-Are-Making-Something-Out-of-Nothing Radar. I sized him up and kept walking. I got in my car and debated. Do I DO something? Why is he standing on the corner? Alone, with NO CHILD? Looking back at the school?

“Dammit,” I thought. I decided to at least call the school to let them know of him. They reassured me the doors stayed locked and they’d keep an eye out for him. I didn’t feel better having called. Actually, I felt worse. What was I assuming? Based on what facts?

As I turned my car around to leave and approached that corner, I gave the scene another hard look. May as well be able to describe this guy, eh? And then I noticed he was standing next to a pole. A pole with a sign on it. A pole with a bus stop sign on it.

This innocent man was waiting for a bus, watching the street in the direction the bus would come.

I was mortified.

I don’t need to be told I did the right thing and that it’s better to be safe than sorry. I get that on some basic level, I was being a Mama Bear.

But seriously, folks, what kind of world do we now live in where a mother ASSUMES the worst about a neatly dressed man, alone, waiting for a bus, who happens to have some minor physical ailment? Would I have been less judgmental if his head did not droop? If he’d have made eye contact with me and smiled?

Did I mention this is at 9am on a bright Wednesday morning, and the school was totally following its safety protocol?

I am not happy with myself, with my behavior, with my quick-to-negative judgment. What happened to being neighborly and taking the first step to give someone the benefit of the doubt? Why didn’t I smile and say “good morning” to him? Why didn’t I look for a legitimate reason for him to be standing on a corner?

I think a lot has to do with what American news is about these days. We are told that there are 800,000 missing children reported each year. Well, damn! No wonder I am on the hyper-alert, right?

But according to a Slate article, this number is misleading:

It’s true that 797,500 people under 18 were reported missing in a one-year period, according to a 2002 study. But of those cases, 203,900 were family abductions, 58,200 were nonfamily abductions, and only 115 were “stereotypical kidnappings,” defined in one study as “a nonfamily abduction perpetrated by a slight acquaintance or stranger in which a child is detained overnight, transported at least 50 miles, held for ransom or abducted with the intent to keep the child permanently, or killed.” Even these categories can be misleading: Overstaying a visit with a noncustodial parent, for example, could qualify as a family abduction. Some individuals get entered into the database multiple times after disappearing on different occasions, resulting in potentially misleading numbers.

So, 115 per year of the type of abduction that is a parent’s worst nightmare? That’s too many, to be sure. But is it reason enough to cast a judgmental eye on a guy at a bus stop?

For me, after having giving this MUCH thought, it is not. No more than it is to fear your home will be broken into because a lone black man is walking down your street on a random weekday afternoon.

Our fellow man deserves better than that.  I owe more than I gave.  And it’s time I admitted it and began to do better to judge less.  Being a mother is NOT an excuse to such behavior.

Are you with me?

Hip Hop to the Hospital

UPDATE:  Curly made it through the 5+ hour surgery just fine.  She did need a blood transfusion, but the docs did all they had hoped to do in the surgery.  So much so, there may not need to be any other surgeries!!  She’s doing fine, and should be going home in a couple of days.  She half-opened her eyes post-op and said, “Mama, booboo.”  It broke our hearts.  The spica cast is HUGE and purple.  Thanks for all the thoughts and prayers.

My great niece was born six months before Sun.  I’ll call her Curly.  Curly, like Sun, was a breech baby.  In the hospital with Sun’s birth, they did an ultrasound of her hips due to her having been breech.  I knew this was a concern because Curly went through it also and she had an issue.  Sun’s hips were fine.

Curly was treated for developmental dysplasia of the hip.  She was given a brace to wear when she was days old.  As the months passed, things were not improving.  They gave her a more aggressive brace.  It didn’t help.

Time passed and Curly started to walk.  With a limp.  Her condition is the result of a hip ligament being too flexible thus allowing her hip bone to have popped out of her hip socket.  So even though her legs are the same size, one leg is resting higher than it should.  By not being in the socket, the hip bone is impinging on nerves, blood vessels, etc.

Curly’s parents were told earlier this year that her condition is worsening.  If they do nothing, Curly could lose her leg. Lose. Her. Leg.

Curly’s mother lost her own mother at a young age.  The mere thought of putting her daughter under anesthesia for major surgery stops my niece-in-law in her tracks.  I don’t blame her.  If this were Sun, I’d be freaked out too.

So tomorrow they are doing the first of potentially three (3) surgeries to fix things.  This round is rough.  They’ll make an incision in her hip area, clear out the fatty tissue that has grown in the hip socket and place the hip back into place.  That seems easy enough.  But that’s just the first part.  The second step is the doozy.

They’ll make another incision into her thigh.  Then they will cut about a half inch out of her thigh bone.  Then screw the two ends together.  They need to shorten her leg so that the hip, once replaced, isn’t too tight in the socket such that it will pop right back out.

And to top it off, Curly will be in a body cast for six weeks.  And she’s not allowed to move.  For six weeks.

I love Curly so very much.  She’s sweet and gentle and has the cutest heart-shaped face framed with amber curls.

This is breaking my heart.  I can’t stop thinking about her and the ordeal this will be for her, her mother (her father, my nephew, is in the Navy and the surgery cannot wait until he’s home in August to do), my sister.

Even if all goes as best as it can, I KNOW there’s no pain like bone pain.  She has no idea that tomorrow she’ll go to the hospital, be poked and put to sleep only to wake up in a body cast and in pain. Then she’ll be released to her home in three days where she’ll have to stay still for six weeks.  In pain.

Then there will be physical therapy.  And future surgeries.  And early onset arthritis in that hip.  IF the surgery goes through (the first attempt did not happen as Curly had a runny nose and diaper rash) is a success.

Please take a moment to send up a prayer or well wishes for Curly and her family.  It’s going to be a difficult day for us all.

Releasing Tension

I am a “tight” knitter: my stitches are tight.  I have to remind myself to ease up on the tension of the yarn; relax my fingers and my mind.  I knit a cap for CS years ago, and it was a big hit.  It was a straight knit 4, purl 4 pattern, your typical skull cap.  Several friends wanted me to knit one for them.  I was happy to oblige.

The day I was given the (erroneous) news that I had a severe infertility problem, I boarded a plane for a weekend in New York.  That flight was delayed and we sat on the tarmac for what seemed like hours.  I was working on one of those skull caps for a friend.  My gauge was off.  Way off.  I knit several inches worth then ripped back to nothing at least four times sitting on that miserable tarmac.  All the while, my ears were plugged into my iPod listening to Bob Dylan.  And tears ran down my cheeks.  I couldn’t bother with what the 50-something business man thought sitting next to me of the mess I was.  What could I say to him to excuse my bizarre behavior?  No eye contact was the best bet.

After a few days, months, I would try that cap again and again.  My gauge was never right.  I’d check my gauge before starting, a task I loathe, and still seemed off.  I ripped out this cap another four or so times.

The yarn I had selected for my friend began to show signs of my struggle.  It was fraying, cracking, and in time, breaking.  After a year, I threw the yarn away and decided CS could knit the cap for our friend.  (He’d learned to knit Sun a blanket).

More years have passed and CS still has not knit that cap.  I am now picking that project up again.  I have a new ball of yarn.  Different colors even.

And yet.

My gauge is off again.  The size 8 needles I used so easily the first time are way too big.  Even 7s won’t do the trick.  I will be testing 6s this evening.  And as I knit 4, purl 4, I am reminded of that damn day in the plane.  And the sting of disappointment I’ve endured with this cap.

I am realizing I should have knit this cap years ago.  So now I am determined.  I will knit this cap.  I will exorcise this demon.  I will release that tension.  Once and for all.

Mystic Krewe of Barkus 2009

First off, a PSA.  Zatarain’s (whose NOLA seasonings are totally awesome) is sponsoring a petition to declare Mardi Gras a national holiday.  I know, right–how is this not yet a national holiday?  Zatarain’s knows that no one knows Mardi Gras quite like New Orleans!  That’s why they want to help shine the spotlight on the Crescent City – and spread the spirit of authentic Mardi Gras celebrations from coast to coast.  Wanna be a part of it??  You know you do!  Then click this link and sign the petition:  http://www.motionformardigras.com.

Now, on to today.  CS, Sun and I got down to the Quarter again for our second parade.  Today was Barkus, the dog parade.  This parade is so fun!  This year’s theme was The Bark Knight.  There are so many good pics that I’ll just direct you to my Flickr account and CS’s.  Click here and here.  Take your time.  I’ll wait.

Back? Kay.

Did you notice this clever balcony sign:

or the way I captured this band just so?

And did you see those really close-up doggie shots CS got?

The dogs kept walking up and sniffing his camera.

And I SWEAR we saw Tim Robbins:

And to top it all, Bonerama played in the parade!

It was close to perfect.  Even Katie at Overflowing Brain and her birthdaying hubby met up with us.

Truly and Completely Done

CS and I have talked several times about having another child. We talked again last night. And we both feel for a multitude of reasons that we are done.   Just for fun, here’s the highlights of our list:

Cons:

  1. Sun.  We have a daughter that we give a good amount of attention to.  CS and I have arranged it such that we work from home a bit during the week and with the help of SoMo, Sun does not need to attend daycare.  If we have another, the time we have for Sun will be cut short.  In fact, if we have another, we will HAVE to put both in daycare or have one of us quit our job (and neither of us wants to do that).  And if we have two in daycare, then school, at the same time, we fold into…
  2. Money.  The cost is not to be overlooked.  CS and I are comfortable with what we make.  We aren’t rich by any stretch.  But we make enough that we can continue to be comfortable and give to Sun the things we feel are important (like a respectable, though certainly incomplete, college fund).
  3. Time.  The other option to money not being an issue is CS and I working our butts off.  Right now, I LOVE working a lighter load.  And CS loves the freedom his job offers.  If we have another child and need more money, it will come from one place only: our efforts.  And if we need to work more to have more money, then we will have less time to spend with the children.
  4. Happiness is.  CS and I are happy with our family just as it is.  We LOVE it being the three of us.  We feel it is a perfect fit.  We aren’t stretched too tight and balance each other out with Sun when one is down for the count.  We can travel easily with one child and do countless other things we love with one child that with two would be too burdensome or unpleasant.

Pros:

  1. Sun needs a sibling.  CS and I both have siblings.  My siblings kept me sane as I went from a child to an adult.  They will also assist with my parents as they age and need care.  I hate denying Sun the relationship of a sibling.  (But who is to say the siblings will even get along?  So this is a sticky wicket pro).
  2. What if Sun is a dud?  This may sound harsh but hear me out.  What if Sun turns out to be a complete flake and disappoints me to the point where I want to wring her neck?  Then I will wish I had another child.  You still doubt me?  Just yesterday I met with a couple seeking advise about their estate planning.  These are good people with good values.  They have two children.  Turns out the daughter is a dud.  I cannot go into detail, but the daughter did unthinkably selfish things with respect to her parents.  So unthinkable they are considering cutting her out of their wills.  And in my opinion, rightly so.  What do CS and I do if this is Sun? Give my estate (hahaha) to charity?  To her cousins?  Wouldn’t we wish we’d had another child to then leave a legacy to (and I really don’t mean money as much as the sense of the continuation of our family).
  3. Regret.  This is the real kicker.  The first two “pros” are really hypothetical.  We cannot have another child so that Sun can have a sibling (it isn’t a puppy, for crying out loud) nor because Sun may be a dud (what if Sun is a rockstar and the second child is a dud? Oy.)  But what if in a decade or two CS and I regret not having another child?  This is the one that stumped me.  I really needed to dig deep to see what it is I’d regret.  After much soul searching, I fully realize that my life is, happily, full.  Will it be more full with another baby?  Maybe.  But why go back to the buffet when I have a full plate to begin with?

This isn’t quite the complete list, but it is enough to see that I am happy with things the way they are.  And it is enough to see that the reasons I have for wanting another child are not good enough to have a baby.  When we wanted Sun, there was a complete other list.  A list that had the right reasons for wanting a baby and legitimate concerns about having one.  But now?  Things are different.  Happily different.  And so I am putting to rest this issue of another child.  I have my family.  We are truly and completely whole.  And done.

Today was not a good day.  The list of things that went wrong for me is long, and irrelevant.  By tomorrow, most of what went so wrong today will be put into perspective and not matter (so much).  But I can’t shake the weight of the day off.  I even passed on dinner out with CS and Sun.  So I am sitting alone in the house.  Being left alone is a gift I am rarely given.  And I am wasting it by being sad.

I feel like putting on a Cowboy Junkies CD, mixing a martini and going into full-on mope.  But in about 30 minutes, my family will be home.  And my bad mood would only be made worse if I were to hunker into a good mope and have it be interrupted.

And there it is.  What I want right now is an evening to myself.  Alone with no TV, no family, no responsibilities nor expectations.  I want silence.  I want a night out of my life when I was single: Come home to an empty space, turn on relaxing, thoughtful music (or not), curl up with a good book (or movie), and say nothing to no one for hours on end.  And not have to ask for the quiet or feel it is a gift to have it.

On second thought, I AM going to dig up a Cowboy Junkies CD and mix a martini.  Mope? Maybe a little.  I will turn the lights down and stay in a room with no TV once Sun goes to bed in less than an hour.  And I will relax and allow myself to have this bad day.  And this evening that will be mine.

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