Friday, August 27, 2010

Dear Hailey...

Hailey is 11 and she doesn't understand why her grandmother is so sick. She doesn't understand why she may die when the rest of us are just not ready to lose her. Her grandmother is in her 50s and no one is ready to say goodbye. But, her grandmother is sick and while we pray that it is still far away, one day her grandmother will die. Hailey's mom said, "if we don't understand it as adults, how the hell am I supposed to make her understand it." Well, the answer is that you can't. Death sucks and no matter how many people tell you that it's God's plan and that at least she won't hurt anymore... it still sucks. So, here is my answer to Hailey. I don't know why people leave us before we are ready, but it feels like this:

When someone you love dies, you feel like your heart is ripped out of you. There is a gaping hole left behind and it feels empty and numb but excruciatingly painful at the same time. You will wrap yourself in memories that will bring some comfort, but that hole will be there forever. And people will tell you that the pain will go away with time, but it doesn't. Instead, you find comfort in places you never would have noticed before.

One day you will be out somewhere and you will see a flower in the perfect shade of yellow that your grandmother would have loved. You'll see that flower and you'll think of her and at first it will hurt, but then you'll get a feeling like maybe that flower doesn't just remind you of her. Maybe she sent it to you, and suddenly you realize that maybe she isn't as far away as you thought.

Then another day you'll sit outside and the sky will be clear and blue, and there won't be a cloud anywhere. The weather will be so warm that your whole body relaxes and a gentle breeze will rustle through the trees. At that moment, you will think of her and you won't even really know why. And again you will realize it's because in that perfect and peaceful moment, she is there.

Some day you will have a really bad day. School will be hard or you'll fight with a friend and you'll just feel miserable. And maybe on this day when you are feeling so low you will wish that she was there to talk to or hug. But in that moment, you'll hear a song that she used to love or a stranger will say something to you that sounds exactly like something she used to say and you'll hear her in their words. She'll speak to you in ways you wouldn't expect to hear and you'll know that she is with you.

When you are much older, you will have your own babies. And it will hurt that she isn't there to meet them. You will wish that your babies would have known this woman who meant so much to you. But when your baby first looks at you, you will see your grandmother in the twinkle of your newborn's eye. You will see her in your baby's first crooked smile and you will see that she is a part of your baby, even though they didn't meet.

And later, much later you will have your own struggles. You will have to battle something you don't think you can face. You will want to give up and quit, and you will look yourself in the mirror thinking that life shouldn't have to be this hard. And when you look into your eyes staring back..... you will see her. You will see her face, strength, heart and love in yours and you will know that she never really left you at all, because she is inside of you. The very best parts of you came from her and you'll have that forever.

None of that will make losing her any easier. It isn't meant to. Losing someone you love is hard and no explanation of life and death is going to make you feel any better when it happens. All you can do is see that having her in your life has turned you into an extraordinary person and you'll feel her still when you least expect it. The hole that is left when she is gone will remain there forever, but day by day you'll take a little more comfort in the little things that are working to fill it.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Rice Krispie Treats Don't Fix Everything

There is a commercial on TV right now where a worried mother is taking her son to his first day of school. She wants to walk him in and coddle him, but he declines. Then he gets to his locker and realizes that he has forgotten his combination and worriedly sticks his hands in his pocket to reveal that his mother slipped a Rice Krispie Treat in there complete with his locker combination. Insert "awwww" and single tear here. But, the thing is... you can't predict what is going to happen to your kids at school and you sure can't fit the entire solution on a Rice Krispie Treat wrapper.

SuperMom of TV and most commercials just doesn't exist. Real Mom would have sent her son in, and ran out to Starbucks for some R&R while he wondered how in the world to get into his locker. Real Mom would have listened to the son moan when he got home and would say, "I asked you if you wanted me to walk you in and you said no. Sorry you were embarrassed when the green-toothed janitor had to open your locker, but what would you like me to do about it?" But, Real Mom doesn't sell Rice Krispie Treats. And, Rice Krispie Treats can't sell what's real. (Just, look at the ingredients!!!)

Tabbi's first day of school didn't result in locker issues. Instead, she was faced with 6th grade girls in all their glory. She walked into a classroom run by a popular "Mean Girl" and none of her friends were in the class with her. So, she was confronted not with the green-toothed janitor, but with the well coiffed, make upped priss who didn't want to let Tabbi into her inner sanctum. Does Tabbi suck up to be accepted by her? Does she ignore her and risk permanent ostracizing by Miss Mean and all of her minions? Does Rice Krispie make a king size bar so that I can fit my advice on it and stick it in her pocket?

The reality is that Tabbi had to find her own way through that dilemma and most of the other dilemmas to follow. My ESP is on the fritz and I don't know what conundrums are coming up on a day to day (or hour to hour) basis, and I can't hide an answer in her pocket even if I did. And, I am not really sure I want to. I liked hearing about how she handled herself and I liked her decisions even more. I see her becoming a stronger kid because of it (not to mention having better dental health because we don't solve our problems with puffed rice and high fructose corn syrup). So, marketers out there take note... I think I'll buy the product where the mom-mercial doesn't involve flowing capes and saving the day, but instead creating little independent individuals that work it out alone. Put that on your Rice Krispie Treats and I'll go buy a box.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Amen, Mr. President

At long last, President Obama has finally come out in support of building the mosque/community center near ground zero in New York. The President said, "As a citizen, and as a president, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as everyone else in this country." And I say to that... Amen, Mr. President!

The entire religion of Islam did not attack our country, nor does this building have anything to do with the faction that did. It should not be seen as a slap in the faces of the victims of 9-11, but instead a huge outpouring of American pride. Freedom is what we are founded on, and terror cannot make us take that away. We can stand up and show the world that while we will never forget what happened that day, we will never be so insecure and afraid that we will fear an entire group for what a portion did. We will stand up for all the victims of September 11th, including the Muslim ones, and we will say that this beacon of hope, spirituality and community will be welcomed, not feared. We will be Americans. And no one can take that away.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mute Button

My house is loud. Crazy loud. I have three kids and a husband who sounds like he has a megaphone permanently glued to his lips. So I spend most of my evenings yelling "MUTE" or "VOLUME DOWN" as if they had voice triggered remote controls attached to their butts. And they don't. For the record, it never works. My voice just adds to the din until I finally just give up and pray for bedtime to come quickly. But, today, instead of wishing for a mute button... I wish I could have a talk button and aim it right at Jack.

My world is a blur, so I don't know if I have written about this or not, but Jack isn't talking yet. Well, that isn't true. He is great with repeating words right now and will scream them at you whenever he thinks it will get him what he wants. "ILCHK" (which means milk in Jackanese) and "NANDY" (candy) are yelled at me constantly. But, by this age he should be putting whole sentences together. Instead, we throw a ticker tape parade when he says "Jack ouchie." Two words and suddenly he's a MENSA candidate.

The good news is that there is nothing wrong with Jack cognitively. He is actually advanced, says our Speech Therapist who comes once a week. He just has an expressive delay. This delay never even bothered me until we had his 6 month meeting this week and suddenly there was talk of meeting with the special education department of our school district when he turns three and the special preschool that they offer. Granted, he just turned two so we have a long time, but still. God forgive me, but I don't want my baby in a special ed program.

I mean no disrespect to that profession or those classes, and I am grateful they exist. A good friend has twins who benefit immensely from the special education programs inside and outside of schools and I am so so glad that they do. But I, like every other parent, just want life to come easily to my child. I don't want him labeled, I don't want him to struggle and I want him to just be fine. I know that makes me sound selfish, but it's true. What seemed like just a minor hurdle in his communication is now looming over me like a permanent disability and I guess I never thought of it that way. Granted, he may still catch up and I am not gonna lie... I pray that he does before he turns three. But, until then I feel like I have a pit in my stomach and what I used to be excited for (both kids in school), I am now terrified of.

So, if you happen upon a magic speech inducing remote somewhere... let me know. And seriously, I'd take that mute button too!!!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Eat Pray Puke

Ok, so I just heard Julia Roberts confess in an interview that the book Eat Pray Love moved her so much that it changed her life. Duh, Jules.... it gave you a job. And, what person pimping their new movie based on a book would say "actually I think the book was boring, predictable and a bit lame." No one but Shia Lebeouf would be so stupid as to bite the hand that feeds them (caviar), so Julia blinked her doe-eyed blink and professed her undying love for this book. But, since I don't get no money from the eating praying loving group, I am just going to say... I don't get it.

I have known a lot people who have claimed that this book is a life changer, but I disagree. I get about as much inspiration from this book (which I admittedly haven't read and will not go see the movie based on it) as I do from Oprah Winfrey's weight loss success. Give me a personal chef and personal trainer and I'll show you a size 8 Lynn, too. And, from what I have heard and the excerpts I have read, this book is the same way.

First of all... if I am going to be inspired by some person, it isn't going to be a person who is so financially yippee-ki-yay that they can afford to abscond to lovely countries around the world to "find themselves." Show me a stay home mom that can't get out for three hours without juggling guilt that they've left their kids versus the strong desire to run away forever... and I will find that person inspiring. Show me the wife that struggles with the lifestyle she wants, but lives within the means she has... and if she somehow manages to eek out a wardrobe that isn't from WalMart, then I will be moved. If I want to watch a rich person travel, I will just check in on Paris Hilton and her spiritual journey. I am quite sure she has stumbled upon a Buddha or two and found the monks to be really "hot."

And while I am bitching about a book I can't read for fear of changing the title to Eat Pray Puke, why is the person so gorgeous she has a man in every port? I mean really? Can us mere mortals really relate to Julia Roberts's struggle with men? Put a size 18 in that part and maybe I can sympathize with her love life plight. Don't put some skinny bitch on screen and expect us to feel bad that young Italian hotties are throwing themselves at her. Ahhh poor thing... she is forced to settle for true love with Javier Bardem. Damn the suffering!!! If you had Kirstie Alley starring and a love interest of John Goodman, then give me a call. Maybe that will seem a little more noteworthy. Julia Roberts and her love affair with Javier relates about as much to my world as Jersey Shore and I am not lining up for a Snooky inspired bump it any time soon.

So, next time I want to watch a portrayal of one woman finding joy and true love, I may as well turn on Pretty Woman. That Julia epic about a clean and healthly non-crackhead hooker winding up with the attractive version of Donald Trump is about as realistic as ditching your life to eat pray and love yourself across the world. For inspiration, I will just turn to The Bad Girls Club instead. At least they don't pretend to be deep, yo.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lost a Baby, Gained a Bathroom....

My little boy is growing up.... you know how I know? Not because I can follow a calendar which said his second birthday was yesterday, but because of the little changes taking place in my house. I didn't notice it while it was happening, but today as I got ready in my bathroom, it hit me.

Get this.... my trashcan is actually on the floor! I know that may sound like a given, but for the last almost 4 years that pupper has lived on top of the hideous square cabinet over my toilet. You know the kind... those huge boxes that hold all your important stuff, like medicines that expired with VHS tapes.... that cabinet. But, luckily it was there to hold my trashcan so that my little ones weren't emptying it across the bathroom floor. But, I realized today as I threw my Q-Tip away that it was on the floor. Sometime in the past few weeks, someone put it on the floor and it stayed there! That means no little hands got in it! Knock on wood (or wood-looking plastic desktop.)

Another thing I realized this morning is that our toilet paper is reachable. I would say it is on the roll where it is supposed to be, but that isn't true because sometime during the last few years when the toilet paper had to be hidden from my children, we lost the little center holder oner bit. So, it will never be on the roll again. But, it can now sit on the sink. No more days of going to the bathroom only to realize post wee that the toilet paper was on top of that same nefarious cabinet as the trash can. Or worse, hidden under Mark's sink. One then had to look for alternatives like drip drying (which usually allowed me to read another chapter of my book) or grab Kleenex, or worse... waddle over to the TP in a crunched, half seated position. But alas, those days are no more. My son hasn't unrolled fresh toilet paper in a long enough time that we can actually set the roll somewhere near the potty and feel confident that it will remain in tact.

I realize some parents out there are probably shaking their head (and not just from the image of me crab scuttling across the bathroom looking for toilet paper) but because they don't hide their trashcans or toilet paper rolls. They taught their kid "no." Well lah-dee-dah for you. I tried to teach my kids no, and it somehow got lost in translation. My version of "no" was heard as "not right now, but as soon as I get in the shower and get shampoo on my hair so that I can't possibly jump out right away and it will buy you time to spread the contents of my trash and the entire roll of toilet paper all over the second floor of our house." So, we hid things... and now I have this great reminder of the fact that my baby boy is growing up, and in some respect so are we. If only I could find my toilet paper holder oner thingy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Breastapo

Guess what everybody.... it's World Breastfeeding Week! Woo hoo!!! Drink it if you've got it!!! Ok, are we done yet? I am sorry for the sarcasm (no I'm not), but after having two children I am about done with the "breast is best" pressure. How about something along the lines of World "It's ok if you can't breastfeed and we appreciate your effort, but the reality is that you aren't the world's worst parent if you choose formula" Week!

For the record, I am not anti-breastfeeding and actually tried to do it with both my boys. But, because I have deforma-nipples (Hello, TMI), it didn't work. So, with Will I pumped for 5 and half months and bottle fed him breast milk, but for Jack... even that didn't work. You cannot be attached to a milking machine and run after Will at the same time. So, after tears, blood, blisters and agony... I gave up after about a month and let Similac take care of my son's nourishment. And you know what? It's ok. But, if you asked any of the Breastapo members (aka Lactation Consultants) that infiltrated my hospital room the second Jack met the world, I am the worst mother in history. I can still hear them chanting "If it ain't the tit, then you're unfit!" Ok, that may be a slight exaggeration. SLIGHT!

From the first baby book you read, it is clear that breast milk is the best for your baby. But, what they don't tell you is that it may not be the best for you. And here's a hint... what is best for mommy is 100% best for baby. I have had friends who suffered through breastfeeding at it's worst, but they never wavered in their need to do it, and why? So that they could be on edge, depressed, freaked out and feed their kids virtually constantly because they aren't producing enough milk to sustain the baby for any period of time. All that in the name of "bonding." Anyone who knows me and my boys know that there is no greater bond than ours. Our relationship isn't lacking because there was a plastic beverage holder in my hand as opposed to my own milk jugs. And, despite what my friend Lori says, my little dudes are healthy. They have ear infections, sure, but that's it. Even Jack, the one I clearly don't love at all because he only got pumped boob juice for a month, is healthy as a horse. He's had a cold here or there but that's it. No H1N1, no flu, no strep throat. Nuthin.

So, while I applaud all the mommies who can just roll up their shirts and let their babes tie one on, I feel the need to defend those that go with the shaken, not stirred approach. We love our babies. Our babies are healthy. And, we deserve a World Week, too. Then again, we got to have margaritas and infants at the same time. Maybe that is celebration enough!