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Today Is The Day August 21 2013

Today is the day. Since it is late August, I knew this day would one day inevitably be upon me, yet I didn’t know how I would greet her. Would I awake to a glorious day of second chances or to a desire to wiggle so deep to the bottom of the bed that no one would find me? Today I declare I will live this day as a new beginning.

I am a lover. A lover of my children. All mothers are, or at least should be. But, judging by the comments I often get, I sense that sometimes I am more extreme in my love for them and my parenting of them. There is a cemetery just a few miles from here that bares my last name and the first names of my first born daughters. They were born still on this day 13 years ago. Really? My mommy brain is generally mush and often I don’t remember what book we read last night, but I remember clearly every second of that day. The monitors, the shots, the people, the chaos, the fear, the nausea, the noise, and most notable, the silence. I don’t allow myself to go to that place often as it is still very raw and pure. Dreams died on that day too. Beautiful little girls that would never grow old together and share the most sweet of sisterly secrets, never to marry, share a dance with their daddy or have babies of their own.

But because of them and their story, I am a more soulful (read as watchful) mother to the children that came after them….their brother and twin brother and sister. My oldest will tell you that I am hovering at best, suffocating at worst. I don’t know if that is because he is a pre-teen and that is what all prepubescent boys think of their mothers, or if it is because it is true. I admit it. I hold them all literally and figuratively close to me, as I don’t ever want to feel that kind of loss again. As I said, “extreme” and I know it. I have worn it as a badge of honor that against all odds, I went on to birth more babies and sustain them into young, productive”ish” lives. Should I be like that? Probably not, but it is how I do it all the same. I don’t want to, but I can’t undo what I have lived, felt, and seen. This type of over the top, fearful of every turn, hold tight and not let go parenting is hard and tiring. Very tiring! I want to lessen the reigns for me, and more specifically, for them. They deserve a life of chances and spontaneity and not closed door “what if’s”. The older they get, the harder letting go becomes but the more necessary it is for them.

So, today is the day. Not only do I celebrate and remember the kicks in my belly and beautiful life plans for those little girls, but on this day, I also lessen the hold on my other sweet cherubs. School starts today, so my little ones will quietly let go of my hand and walk away from me and enter into a world I can’t go into with them. I know they will manage just fine, but I am not sure how I will do.

As my oldest begins his first day of middle school (again, really?), I know he is full of angst and fear of the uncertainties of his new world. He, too, will conquer the halls and be okay. I, on the other hand, am having a harder time with this. He is my golden child. The one that brought the spark of life back to me and provided a purpose when I no longer thought that there was one. He was the first to call me mommy, and as a lover of my children, that means the world to me.

Because of the complications and outcome of the first pregnancy, I had been told that another pregnancy could be just as complicated. I laid flat on my back in bed for 7 months with that little nugget to make sure he safely made it into this world. Now I am tossing him into the halls of middle school and giving him some of that independence he craves and deserves yet sets me up to the vulnerabilities of another loss. He will lose more of his innocence in those halls and lose more of his need for me. Yet, he will gain worldly knowledge of friendships and life that will sustain him when I am no longer around. He needs that umbilical cord to be cut after all of these years, but I am just not sure I am ready for this day.

So here we are, August 21, 2013. The previous 13 years, this has been my goodbye day to two of my children. On this day, in this year, it is my goodbye day to all of my children. For the first time in the 13 years that my life changed so quickly and dramatically, today is the first time juxtaposition has reached up and grabbed me by the throat and made it difficult to breathe. They are 2 different goodbyes, but nonetheless, a parting of ways no longer connected to me.

Today, I will steal a moment of time from this day and make it my own, like I do every year on this date. I will open memory boxes and hold tight to baby blankets that still have tiny spots of blood on them, I will breathe in so deeply, longing for a smell that I know is no longer there. I will look at a picture with my happy, naïve face on it as I rubbed my very pregnant twin belly in anticipation of my bundles of joy. I will surround myself with pictures of their beautiful faces and oh so tiny features and give them each their own special time and reflect on the memories that were and could have been. I will do this alone, as others that are in my life will overlook the importance of this day.

Today, I will let go of my own insecurities and fears and let my other cherubs begin to experience life in a new way. A way that they deserve, not to be hovered over obsessively by a mother that loves them more than they can ever imagine.   I will be there to pick them up from school and celebrate the glorious first day stories and victories they achieved. I will sit back and let it unwind with less fear that bad things happen to good people.

Today is going to be our new beginning and today is going to be a great day!


Mr. Golden Sun June 22 2013

There is something about the sun. I gravitate to it. It centers me when I need to be aligned. Aside from the natural warmth it provides my body, it also warms my soul. As a child of the 70’s I grew up spending summer days riding bikes, playing in the park, picking wild mushrooms and berries, splashing in creeks, boating at the lake, surfing in the ocean, and doing anything else that kept me outside.  As a teenager of the 80’s I lathered myself in Crisco or baby oil and made it my summer mission to find every dark surface and attract as much violent sun exposure as possible. As a bride of the 90’s, I paid many dollars to multiple salons to bake myself in tanning beds for hours leading up to my wedding.  What bride wouldn’t want to look “radiant” with a radioactive glow in a beautiful white wedding gown? I now know that was wrong and have a certain crinkle to my skin that I shouldn’t have at this age. When my kids hold my hands, they sometimes trace the lines with their little fingers.  I use it as a teaching moment to let them know what they can do differently to protect their skin.

 As a mother of the new millennium, my thoughts on tanned skin changed.  The creamy smoothness of chubby baby thighs and pudgy little feet could never look as good if they were darkened by the rays. I love the newness and subtleness of baby skin and wanted all of my babies to remain soft, cuddly and pale.  Besides, those cute body dimples show better on an unsunkissed baby.  Funny, really.  The very reason I wanted to immerse myself in Panama Jack Dark Tanning Oil with Orange Gel was to erase the look of body dimples on my own skin. 

As with everything in life, looking at the matter through mommy eyes adjusts the perspective.  All of my kids were aqua babies and grew accustomed to swimming in the outdoors at very early ages.  I read up on sunscreens, UVA’s, UVB’s and SPF’s and modeled the correct behavior in their presence.  Our outside exposure consisted of wide brimmed baby hats, swim shirts, sunglasses and SPF that was higher than the IQ of the general population.  Pools and spray pads with big shade trees were our usual destinations. Night swimming beneath the moonbeams was (and still is) a summer favorite.

Still, my kiddos love being outdoors on a hot summer day.  Popsicles and lemonade just don’t taste the same when savored inside 4 walls. ‘Mr. Sun’ is our summer anthem. Their generation has a much greater understanding and respect for the sun and the damaging effects it has on skin. We, as parents, are more environmentally savvy and do a much better job of communicating preventative measures that little ones can understand. Even as my kids have grown older and become more independent, I am still rigid about their sun protection when they are outdoors.

In the interest of full disclosure, Mr. Golden Sun is still my personal weakness.  On the rare occasion that I find myself at a watering hole without my personal cherub circus, I lay claim to the nearest reclining chair, lather on a little protection and wrap myself in his welcoming rays. His heat pulls me in and takes my mind to a less complicated life where my toes are in the sand and the worries are far away.  A pink umbrella jeweled glass is usually there too.

I know that as my little ones grow, they will most likely fall prey to the powers of the sun.  I can only hope that when they hear that chorus in their head “Mr. Sun. Sun. Mr. Golden Sun, please shine down on me!”, they know that the blistering and peeling left by Mr. Golden Sun is not pretty and continue to reach for the SPF 50.

I, on the other, wrinkly hand, am thankful that I made it through my earlier years without anything more than unflattering hands, and that my love for the Sol isn’t equivalent to that of the ‘Tanning Mom’. I now know when to cover up and walk inside….and take my pink umbrella drink with me.

For more information on skin cancer and prevention, visit the Skin Cancer Foundation’s website at www.skincancer.org.

 


The Bed April 25 2013

 

Throughout my life there has always been one constant…the solace and comfort of the bed.  The posturepedic mattress adorned temple to all things good.  I’d never really given that much thought to the importance and comfort of it until last night.

Thinking back on it through the years, the haven to sweet dreams has provided me some of life’s best moments.  One naturally pulls to mind the marriage bed and all the activities and comforts it provides.  After all, that is generally where babies come from.  But in my ‘bed’ recollections I have found so many more.  

When I was a small child, our house was burglarized and those bastards tore up every room.  I vividly remember walking in and seeing my bed destroyed and my mattress flipped.  Even at that young age, I remember having a sense of loss over my sacred space.   The private hiding spot under the bed had been destroyed and made accessible to all. 

I had high risk pregnancies with all of my babies.  Because of that, I spent months on strict bed rest.  Perhaps that is when my love affair with a good bed really set in.  I discovered the value of memory foam toppers and high thread count sheets.  When a bed becomes your home, you get creative in its use.  Imagine the crumbly mess of sleeping where you eat.  To keep my mind sane, I volunteered to assist teachers at the local elementary school and prepared craft projects for them. Let’s just say that a hot glue gun was not made to be experienced in the bed.  Let’s also say that a bedpan is a cold, cruel joke but a much needed invention in my 54” x 75” world.

Once my babies came to be, the bed took on a whole new persona.  Often my nights consisted of a traveling bed, as I would pick up and move to the nursery floor to lessen the distance of night time travel.  Eventually, I put mattresses in the baby rooms and pulled those sweet cherubs into bed with me and found much more relaxing slivers of sleep for all involved.  Baby bonding is the best.  The curvature of a new mother’s body is perfectly made to accommodate the scrumptious, wrinkled folds of a new baby.

One can’t ponder the virtues of a bed, without lamenting on sleep.  I am not a sleeper.  Although it has been something that I would love to add to my repertoire, I have never found myself able to sleep for hours on end and not awake through the night.  Some of my best thinking gets done in the middle of the night.  Something about the peaceful stillness and joy of knowing all other occupants are safely tucked in, allows my mind to fully relax and process the day.  When I hear friends talk about how fresh and rejuvenated they feel, I get sleep envy and wish I could know that experience just once in my life.

And then there was last night.  My boy is away at camp.  I have no way of communicating with him for 4 days.  That distance has never separated us before now.  I know he is doing campy things and enjoying his 11 year old independence, but that knowledge doesn’t take away the pit in my stomach of not having him near and safe with me.  After putting my other sweet cherubs safely in their beds, I went into his room and lay on his bed.  The same bed that I laid in for 7 months when I was pregnant with him.  I thought about his journey, my journey, our journey.  It started in that bed.  In that bed, I watched 9/11 unfold on T.V., had pedicure parties with my husband as he painted my piggies to pass the time and fought off months of contractions and pre-term labor to finally bring a joyful noise into the world.  Last night in that bed, I hugged tight a pillow that had a little boy smell to it.  I pulled on a thread bare and tattered blankie that had many miles of little boy wrangling to it.  The comfort of that bed was like that of a hug from an old friend.  Enough to make blissful sleep come over me if only for a few hours. 

And then I awoke… and begin searching for mattress ratings online, as 11 years is a long time for a mattress and we need to get a new one. 


The Spring Cleaning of Me April 11 2013

 

There’s just something about this time of year.  Maybe it is has to do with spring and the way that everything in nature is tearing away the old and growing anew.  Maybe it’s all of the new baby calves and foals that I see each day as I make my winding way down those beautiful country roads. Maybe it’s the story of Easter and the resurrection of Jesus and the hope that death is just a word.  But most probably it’s from the chaos that beats in the heart of my house on any given day that children are home and bored.  Like the changes I see around me, I too want to be reborn and transformed into something new and fresh.  While some may use spring as a time to whip their body into shape for cute little jeweled tanks and swimsuits, I am old and have lived through enough collapsed attempts at body transformations that I am moving on to something with more purpose…a life less anxious and stressed. The realist in me knows I will never be carefree and stress deprived, but by taking baby steps to tweak some inner makings of me, perhaps those little cherubs inside the house would take note and recognize their own need to simmer down a tad.

I’ve heard it said that it takes roughly 30 days for the brain to process a change in routine and formulate a new habit.  Considering all of my 30 day increments for the rest of my life are already overscheduled, I might as well use the next 30 days to dive right in and give it a whirl.  I’ve formulated a plan. I want to be more calm and joy filled.  I want to snap less and cheer more.  I want to remember the important stuff.  I want to remember that the important stuff is people and not stuff.  Just thinking about this plan is causing me great stress and anxiety.  Taking time for me and making this change will inevitably take time away from someone else in my family.  I will make myself a priority.  This journey of transformation will be hard, simply because I am not wired for it.  I see it as though I have had my time in the sun (and a good time indeed) and now it is my time to grow my cherubs into the true angels that they should be. 

The plan is to start small.  Certainly I can accomplish something if it is easy to begin with.  I will carve out 15 minutes of each day for me.  I envision lingering on a park bench under the sun as I listen to the kind of music that once made me happy and didn’t have off key voices singing in attempted harmony.  The reality is that this time will most likely be spend hiding behind a closed door (probably the bathroom) with cotton balls in my ears to muffle the sounds that remind me I am 15 minutes away from returning to my referee duties.  Nonetheless, those 15 minutes will be mine. 

I will be honest with myself.  Each week I will find 15 more minutes to write down what really sent me flying that week.  The good, the bad and the ugly…it will be addressed on paper and honestly evaluated for my eyes only.  I will give myself permission to have negative thoughts on the things that didn’t work during the week.  At the end of my time, I will march to the shredder and destroy any evidence of that negativity and have a mental take away of what will work better the following week.

I will live in the moment and let unimportant things fall and fail.  I am a mom, so the fruits of my self will never be in that category. Others can keep their judgements of me as I simply don’t have time to shoulder their negative thoughts too. 

Adding my kids to the mix of my plan will help me add amusement and levity to my day.  Surely I can find 3 occasions within my day to lighten the load and be silly with the 3 most valuable players on my team.  At their age, finding humor in the day is easy.  Talk about body parts or body products and it is on!

I want to harvest their ability to see life as simple, fun and fresh.  As the new me emerges from my enlightenment, I want to be a new source of positive influence on my kiddos.  Instead of peering into the room and seeing a short fused image of me, I want to look in and see laughter and love and feel the presence of peace.   Yes, the transformation of me will be difficult and I may be easily swayed to walk away.  But throw the lives of my cherubs into the mix and the game changes.  I must do the transformation for them, as they are my greatest blessings and so deserving of a new me.

So begins the spring cleaning of me.


Toilet Trap...momma's wet tushy April 06 2013

 

Consider yourself forewarned.  It will happen and sooner than you think.  You bring that beautiful baby boy (sorry moms, this only works with boys) home from the hospital and you never imagine that so soon in his sweet, short life as he begins to reach his milestones, he will begin to go over to the dark side and start chartering the course of your demise…trapping you in the toilet.  In the best of circumstances, it will happen during the course of your day, but many butt soaked moms will tell you differently.  You will be dead asleep because you have finally got your young lad convinced that getting up in the middle of the night on multiple occasions makes mommy look like the trainer for the Wicked Witch of the West.  You will be slumbering through that dream about that Magic Mike guy and your insides will get giddy and remind you that you have to go to the bathroom.  Then it happens…..your sweet, warm cheeks are no longer hovering above the water, but IN the water of the same toilet your little sailor used right before bed.  You are left to be sucked in and dangling over a hole that you didn’t think would accommodate your cute little mommy tush.  Your knees will be scrapping your earlobes as you try and move back and forth to attempt a dismount worthy of making world class gymnasts jealous.

After cleaning up and making our way back to bed, you will certainly be forever on the lookout for toilets left in the “open for business” stance.   No amount of training will convince them that courtesy and respect dictate that when girls (and moms) are in the house, the toilet seat should remain down. Your middle of the night strategy shifts.  You may move houses to afford you the luxury of a “master bath” or you may cease all beverages past the dinner meal in an effort to conform the bladder into having new hours.  It won’t work.  Those little sailors have a hankerin for using mommy’s facilities, whether she knows it or not.  Mommy eventually learns too.  She learns that it is a big hole and nobody hears her screams of help and she tends to remain in a room by herself with no offers of retrieval.  Huh?  Mom may soon come to enjoy this time of escape and continue to shot out a “help me” on occasion, as not to throw them off their game and think that she has discovered the best hiding place in the house….several inches down in a porcelain commode, with no one around to offer assistance.  This, that at first was hideous and wet, is now a wonderful and quite place to escape.  So laminate your magazines, as they will be easier to read down in that big hole, but hey…at least you get to read them.


Oooohhh, my aching gums! March 22 2013

Oooohhh, my aching gums! Your baby may not be using words to communicate to you at such a young age, but he or she will certainly change the tone of their holler when those teeth start to erupt and cause an uncomfortable pressure on the underside of those swollen, aching gums. Any experienced parent will know this shift in tone can begin at any time and not necessarily within the textbook timeframe of 6-9 months. We always want our kids to be on track and hit the milestones when, or before (if you are an overachiever), the experts say it should happen. Teething is as individualized as your sweet cherub and you need not stress about the timing of it. As a parent to a new life, you have many other things to occupy your sleepless nights with, so check “when will my baby begin teething” off the list. It WILL happen and when it does, make no mistake, you will know it!

Many a year ago, when I was a little girl, I would play mommy to my menagerie of stuffed animals and dolls. I would feed and wash them, wrap them and rock them, cuddle them and burp them, play with them and sing to them but I never offered them comfort for their teething challenges. I didn’t know how to help them through it, so in my make believe four year old world, it wasn’t a parenting problem. Too bad real life doesn’t work off that philosophy…if I can’t fix it, then it doesn’t exist. Your reality as a parent to a new baby is that teething is hard, and very uncomfortable to a wee soul that only knows the pleasure of a suckle and a warm cuddle and soft kiss from someone that loves them. Sucking is how our littlest ones find comfort and make sense of this new thing called life. That very action can also increase the pressure below the gum line and subsequently increase the pain.

Many a parenting book exists to get you through the trials of babyhood. If you can’t find it there, ask a mom friend that considers herself fully practiced and capable in that arena. You’re sure to find way more advice then you need or want. While weeding through it all, hold your sweet cherub close, put on your favorite Gumigem necklace and let the magic begin! Baby will gravitate to the comfort of the soft, flexible silicone and naturally explore it with his/her mouth. Silence may follow. Entertainment may begin. Much needed relief will come as biting down on the Gumigem will balance the pressure felt below the gums from those pesky pearls trying to make their way to the surface. And you may find a moment of calm to look down and take in the pleasure of your newest gift, your bundle of love!