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Wednesday, April 9, 2014

My plan to get my girls to talk to me when they are teenagers

Oh you’re already laughing. I can tell. Shut up! I’m serious. I’m going to make this happen. Hear me out, ‘kay?

Growing up I was about as open as Cersi in Game of Thrones. I look back and wish things were different with my parents. Particularly my mom. I was not easy to say the least. I was an enigma as only a teenage daughter can be. Why did I shut down? I don’t know. I felt when they asked me how my day was, it was prying. When they said, “Let’s talk.” The walls went up hard core. I always felt like it was scheduled. Now is the time you tell us all the intimate details of your life and we will judge you and tell you your choices are wrong.  Now of course I know that's not true. My parents are the nicest, most loving people. But from a teenager’s perspective the parents are the enemy. They are the people hindering you from growing up. You are their kid. Forever their kid.

So now.… what can I do so this doesn’t happen with my girls? And I have two of me. Oy. Is it too much to ask for the Lorelai/Rory relationship?? Probably. I already see the signs. I ask them what they did at school, they say they don’t want to talk about it. They go to their room and don’t want me to come in. In fact Love Monster was mad at me the other day because I asked her to practice her spelling words. (I really am such a tyrant.)  She ran to her room and slammed the door. I didn't follow her so she re-slammed the door to make sure I got the message. Geez.

What can I do?

I will listen to them. When they talk, I listen.

I will not judge them. Be open.

I will tell them every day that they are important. And I will show them everyday that they are important by putting them before my to do lists.

I will sing them the goodnight song every night. “Good night good night again I say good night. I love the Love  Monster/Smirker I love her face. I want to kiss her all over the place.” Then kiss them like crazy.

I will never shame them.

I will compliment them on their smarts and strength not just their beauty.

I will not yell. I will not yell. I will not yell.

I will let them be themselves. Every bit themselves.

I will not make talking intimidating or scheduled. It will be over dinner, folding laundry, walks to the park, everywhere and anywhere.

And I will hope that when their clock strikes thirteen the walls will stay down. That they will trust in the foundation we’ve built. And talk to me. And if they don't, know that they will come back to me. And be open and ready when that moment comes.

I really enjoy having a plan by the way. I blame my mom. But you know what happens with best laid plans…. I don’t want them to be like I was. I had an iron wall around me and no one got in. Especially her. My mom. And it didn't feel good. Now to put on some Gilmore Girls and fantasize a bit….

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Every Mom has a Breaking Point: Part Two

I saw a mom in Target the other day. She was down the aisle from me trying to pick out some body wash. She had two kids with her and she was hanging on by a thread. Her toddler was crying. The (maybe) seven year old was touching everything in sight. “Stop it!” she snapped.

Another woman in the aisle with us shook her head disapprovingly.

Me? I wanted to hug that frazzled mom. I wanted to hug her and tell her, “We’re not perfect. You’re having a bad day. It’s okay. Let’s go get an Icee.” I should have, but I didn’t. She hurried away clearly having lost it, feeling the daggers from the other woman in the aisle.

A couple years ago I would have been that other woman in the aisle. Easily.

But then I was judged and was called a bad mom and that reeled me in hardcore.

Try not to judge
I’m tired of that judgmental reaction so perfectly displayed by the woman in Target. I’m tired of the lack of compassion I see. I used to make many judgments of moms. Before I became a mom. After I became a mom.

I saw parents with their kids on leashes and thought that was horrible. Now I know better.

“Oh their parents need to just teach them that’s not okay!” I’ve heard other moms say.

Oh it’s as simple as that is it? That kid on a leash might be a “runner.” They might be autistic or have impulse control issues. That leash might save them from running into the street and getting hit by a car. It might save them from getting lost in the crowd. Do not judge. Don’t rush to blame parents for their kid’s behavior. It may not necessarily be their fault.

Be kind
There are quotes flying around facebook: “You can be right or be kind. If you choose to be kind, you will always be right.” and “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I don’t care who thinks it’s cheesy. It is gospel. We tear each other down. Let’s stop. Be kind.

Think: What if it was me?
I hear a lot of, “That would NEVER happen to me.” “I would NEVER do that.” I call bullshit. You don’t KNOW. I saw a horrific story about parents who had left their kids in the backseat accidentally and their children died from the heat. And you know how many comments were, “I would NEVER do that!” ?  Most of them and that broke my heart. You don’t KNOW. But these parents who thought their children were somewhere safe are now raising awareness to the fact that things like this can happen to anyone.

Please just take a second to think when you feel that rush to judgment: What if it was me?

We make mistakes. Sometimes huge ones. We have to forgive each other and ourselves.

Have tolerance.
We parents, for the most part, are doing the best we can. Things aren’t going to go right all the time. The parents shoveling down their dinner while their newborn baby is crying hysterically in the restaurant? Be tolerant. Remember when that was you? This might be the only time they get out of the house this week.

It takes a village.
Yes. More cheesy-ness! Bring it on. We’re all in this together. Why do you think there are so many mom blogs? We want to feel less alone. All this judgment isolates us. That is not what we need. As mothers. As people. In this world of billions we can’t try to claim our own little corner and want to be better then everyone else. We’re in this together and that’s nice isn’t it? And if you are judgmental, I hope you’re don’t think I’m judging you. We all have reasons why we do the things we do. Anyone can change. Maybe next time you see that mom or dad struggling with their kids in the grocery store, offer up a little compassion (even if it’s silently). It makes all the difference. It can turn it all around. Not to mention, you’re kids soak up everything you do. If you are kind, they will be. It’s win-win, when you’re nice it feels good. Try it, lady-in-the-aisle-at-Target.

Here is a link to part of one this blog first published on Mamiverse:

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Early Bird gets the Ice Cream: Love Monster's Birth Story

Oh my dear Love Monster. I remember when you were more dream then real. My first born growing in my belly. We didn't know if you were a boy or girl. But I knew you. The connection felt so strong even before I held you in my arms.

The pregnancy was more eventful then I would have liked. I had gestational diabetes and was put on a diet for the first time in my life. I had never been a dessert person before but suddenly I craved cakes and pies and cookies and ice cream, pounds and pounds of ice cream, which I could not have. I gained about 50 pounds which on my small (110 lb pre baby) frame was a bit shocking. Secretly I liked the weight. I've always been very insecure with my thin body and the fleshy curves made me feel more womanly then I did before.

At the six month mark I got in a bad car accident. Driving home from the theatre about half way home, the breaks went out in my car. I swerved to the left so I wouldn't hit the person in front of me and prayed no one was in my path. Thankfully no one was. But the median came hurdling toward me. I still remember the calm panic I felt in those seconds before I hit the wall. It was a strange combo of deep fear and easy surrender. I have no doubt the fact that the Volvo I was in saved my life. My car was crushed all around the "cage" that protects people in the car. I remember getting out and standing in the car pool lane. The woman behind me was hysterical and on the phone. She was calling my then husband screaming she thought my arm was broken. The police woman talking to me was not compassionate at all. A man who had gotten out of the car was telling another police officer I was driving crazy. (MY F'ing BREAKS WENT OUT DUMB ASS!!!!!! Eyewitnesses suck.) Finally the paramedics took me to the hospital. All I had was bumps and bruises. I was very obviously pregnant but no one asked me about the baby. I remember thinking that was so weird. Finally I asked them to check. They said, "Have you felt the baby move?" I said "I think so. But please don't take my word for it!" Finally I got them to check. Love Monster's heartbeat was the sweetest sound. I drive past my accident spot everyday and it still scares me a bit.

Anyway I digress, basically the pregnancy had it's moments.

February 7, 2007- I had five weeks to go. Plenty of time to rest, organize, mentally prepare and take the birthing class. I had just started my maternity leave from teaching. I was eating a turkey sandwich at Corner Bakery with Love Monster's dad when I peed my pants. At least I thought I had. I didn't think much of it.  LM's dad went to work. I mean peeing yourself happens to preggo chicks, but something didn't seem right. I listened to that voice in my head and called the doc.

She asked "Did you have to change your panties?"


She told me to come in. She looked at the fluid under a microscope.

"Hey check this out!" She said. I looked at all the cellular type nonsense through the lens. "That's your amniotic fluid. Your water broke."

"So what does that mean?" I said. Denial was in full swing.

"That's means your going over the hospital right now and having a baby."

Well shit.

I called LM's dad who had just pulled into work and he turned right around and came to the hospital. It did not feel real at all. I had had no contractions. My bag was packed but only because I'm a Virgo and I am the queen of being prepared, but was I prepared mentally? No way.

"Is this okay?" I asked the doctor.

"It's early. But it will be fine," she said smiling. "Your baby just wants to get here."

Now looking back I don't know if this was her not trying to freak me out and maybe this could be bad, but I'm grateful for her, because I didn't worry. And knowing LM like I know her now, her coming early makes total sense. She waits for no one.

3:00 pm- At the hospital it took an intern about 7 tries to get the IV in so that was awesome.

The day went by uneventfully. No contractions were happening. Finally at Midnight they gave me Pitocin to get things going. Boy did that kick things into gear. I got my epidural a couple hours later and waited. Waited for you, my Love Monster.

The epidural only worked on half my body. I could feel the contractions, but I could handle it. Sleep eluded me. The night was quiet except for the occasional scream from preggos becoming mamas down the hall. Laughter from the nurses station which annoyed me.  And the beep of the machines around me.

"I think it's time," I whispered to LM's dad around 6:55am.

He ran out to get the nurses. She checked me and boy was I right. LM's head was right there. I had not seen my doctor since my visit to her office. They called her and said she was on her way.

"Wait to push okay?" The nurse said.

Yeah okay right!!

I couldn't wait. Two more nurses came in. One held my hand.

"I didn't take the birthing class," I told her a little panicked.

"Aww girl you don't need those classes. I gotcha," she said and she totally did.

An intern was on the side of the bed watching nervously. Another nurse was ready to catch.

PUSH! I did. And I was way too efficient.

"Wait! The doctor isn't here yet."

Have you every tried to keep a baby in? Yeah that doesn't really work. LM wanted out.

The doc came in on my last push. I pushed a total of 5 minutes. 7:16 am February 8th. Love Monster was here.

Suddenly there was a million people in the room. The NICU team took LM right away to the bassinet and was making sure she was okay.

The intern was very emotional. "This was my first birth!" She said.

"What is it?" I yelled to the doctor getting up on my elbows.

They looked at me puzzled.

"Boy or girl??"

"Girl!!!" They said smiling.

"Are you sure?" I said partially to myself.

I was sure I'd have a boy. I sunk back into the bed absorbing it all. A girl. I really had wanted a girl.

Even though I know she'll hate me in high school.

Finally they let me hold her. She looked like a little eskimo.

She was tiny. I didn't get to hold her long. They were concerned about her breathing and vitals since she was a preemie and they whisked her away to the NICU. I remembered the words of my doctor, "It's early but it will be fine." It will be fine, I told myself.

 And I knew it would be. Even though I couldn't be with her right away.

In the recovery room, I wrapped myself in the robe my mother had given me. The same robe she had worn in the hospital when she had me 30 years earlier. The nurses gave me the pictures below to keep by my bed until I could see my Love Monster. I knew it would be okay even though she was hooked up to all sorts of monitors and tubes. I waited patiently until I could hold her again. And tried to figure out how to use the breast pump which was oh so fun.

I could stare at that face all day.

Her NICU nurses were amazing and loving. The toughest part was having to leave the hospital before she could. I hated leaving her. We were there morning until night the six days that followed and finally we got the call we could bring her home. It was Valentines day.

We named LM a name that was a blend of beautiful and rough and tumble cool, which she embodies  perfectly. I love you so intensely Love Monster. Being born early you caught up quickly physically, but emotionally and behavior-wise you were a bit behind. But babe that's okay. Love is the medicine I use to nurture you through some struggles you've had. You have come so far, my girl. You are smart and full of love, sensitive and creative, confident and fun and free. And I'm positive your obsession with ice cream has to do with my pregnancy cravings. We were one. You've changed me forever. I see so much of me in you (which is why I think we clash sometimes). I feel such a deep connection to you. We had already been through so much together. And today you turn seven! I cannot believe it.

Happy Birthday, Love Monster.

 My dad was sick when he first met her so my mom and had made him take precautions. :)

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I want to be just like you

I have imaginary conversations with my daughters sometimes. Late at night. Reflecting on something they said. In these conversations the girls are sort of like zen versions of themselves, the wise part of them that’s so obviously there minus most of the “trying-to-figure-out-life” kid craziness that muddles that wisdom.

Here is a real conversation I had with Love Monster recently.

Love Monster- I want to be just like you Mama!

Me- Oh that’s so sweet, love.

Then we went back to playing My Little Ponies.

Here is the imaginary conversation I had in my head later that night.

Love Monster- I want to be just like you Mama!

Me- No fucking way.

I can say the F word and stuff because this is all imaginary remember.

Love Monster- No really I do mama.

Me- I am a pain in the ass.

Love Monster- (Giggling) You said ass.

Me- But I get angry at the stupidest things.

Love Monster- You laugh at the silliest things.

Me- No. I snap. I don’t have any patience. I make too many damn lists. My priorities feel mixed up sometimes. I’ve thrown stuff when I’m mad.

Love Monster- You do crazy story time. You make yummy ice cream sundaes. We made a spork-i-corn! We wrote comic books. You sing the goodnight song every night.

Me- Have you heard how I talk to the direct TV guy when AMC is messed up?  Have you heard?? Me and customer service do not mix. You don’t want to be like me.

Love Monster- Do too.

Me- (Quietly) No. No. No. No you don’t.

Love Monster- I do.

Me- I have to eat every meal on time. If I don’t I’m a nightmare. And don’t even get me started on my teen years. And I’ve yelled at you and Smirker before for the stupidest stuff….

Love Monster- Mama, I forgive you for yelling.

I choke back a few tears.

Love Monster- We all make mistakes. That’s not the part I’m talking about. We’re your daughters. We see you. We really see you. That’s the part we love.

Me- Oh. (Silence for a bit. Love Monster holds my hand.) I really don’t want you to talk to the Direct TV guy like I did though.

Love Monster- I won’t.

Me- Okay. Cool.

Love Monster- The eating thing might be hereditary though. I need my snacks.

Me- That I can handle.

Why imaginary? I’m scared of them seeing me doubt myself.  I don’t want them to feel the burden of that. They are sponges. I am their mirror. And I do NOT want them to doubt their amazing selves. So I hold up and have the conversations in my imagination. These imaginary conversations seem to illuminate something. Give me some perspective. And the next day when we are playing ponies, I can think how lucky I am to have to little girls that love me so much.

And by the way, Love Monster? I want to be just like you.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Love Monster and Smirker's Fantasy Christmas

These aren’t their actual lists, but I know what they really want.

Love Monster’s Christmas List

- Smirker’s Pinky Pie train set
- The neighbors recycling bin (they drink lots of beer and use lots of toilet paper and    I have crafts to make!!!)
- The door to Narnia
- A puppy
- A penguin
- A train ticket to Ponyville (one for Smirker too)
- Smirker to listen to me (Doesn’t she know I’m in charge?) OR a robot version of Smirker. That will work too.
- An endless supply of ice cream
- An endless supply of boxes. All kinds. All sizes.
- A portal to get to Nama and Napa’s house in Chicago
- A megaphone
- For Smirker to not leave me to go into mama’s bed at night
- Scotch tape
- A classroom of my own.
- Fossils
- Snow
- All the nutcrackers
- For my clown show to go on tour
- For Girl X at school to smile at me
- Paper to write stories and comics

Smirker’s Christmas List

- Pinky Pie train set
- Candy
- To sleep in Mama’s bed every night gripped to her like a little baby koala
- A crayon that doesn’t scribble
- The God puppet from school to do shows at my house
- Candy
- Bubble bath
- For Love Monster to not drink my drinks “all gone”
- Toothpaste
- All the sparkle dresses
- For Mama to carry me around upside down
- A portal to Nama and Napa’s house in Chicago
- Candy
- To be able to sing without anyone hearing
- A car. Not a kid fake plastic car. Not a hot wheel. A real car. 
- Make up (Again not that fake stuff. The real deal.)
- Deodorant
- To Sleep in Love Monster's bed until I transfer to Mama's 
- Candy
- Every color nail polish
- For everyone to understand everything I say
- Candy

If they got everything on this list, their life would be complete. I watch them. I know them. It’s funny to know these little people almost as much as I know myself. And yet I know they have secret sides that only they know. I treasure this transparency I feel now, because I know there’s a good chance with half my genes that they will put a wall up in a few years. And a year will come I won’t know their imaginary Christmas lists. But for now… I know them pretty well. I treasure now. 

Merry Christmas, my lovelies.