Entries Tagged 'Guilt and motherhood' ↓

Smiley Faces and No Excuses

I started running in January. No, really, I did. And I’ve actually managed to consistently squeak in about two or three runs a week, too.

But, so what.

Sure, I’ve never, EVER been an athlete. And it has taken a lot of something deep down inside to set my alarm before anyone gets up, to stumble out the door and get a couple miles in before the day begins. I mean, if you know me, you’d know that’s entirely unexpected and… kind of weird.

But, still. So what.

Maybe it’s some sort of mid-life crisis but I think this running business is simply about me getting off my ass and doing what I probably should have half my lifetime ago. I have one life and one body. My children have one childhood each and these years, and the years to come, and years with their children (maybe, if they have them) are a gift.

How could I, with a clear conscience, keep myself from doing everything I can to maintain my health and TRY to ensure that I am allowed this gift?

I’ve known all of it for a long time — eat your veggies, get off your ass and you’ll beat back all kinds of bad mojo. There are no miracle diets or magic products that will half my muffin top and slow time. Just be healthy and stop with the excuses.

But I do have one little, ahem, excuse. I think part of NOT doing it was also making time for myself. Parents GIVE. Parents make the most efficient use of their time. Parents push self-indulgent crap like, oh, a thirty minute run by myself aside if the kids are vomiting half-digested hot dog, have a baseball game to get to or are coming unhinged over their homework.

So, I guess I’m getting a little better about taking. Oh, and setting my alarm extra early when no one is awake anyway.

I can’t wait for short-term reasons to do this, either. Putting one foot in front of the other can’t only be happening because of some upcoming race or because I am trying to keep up with anyone else. This has to be long-term.

And I can’t put it off because I don’t feel like it. Life is uncomfortable sometimes. It’s a half hour of push. Only a half hour.

But can we talk about endurance? Because sometimes I don’t want to keep going. I get really tired and seriously consider walking. But then I think about that stupid chart they give you in the hospital for pain. Smiley face for no pain, crying face for crazy pain. When I was in labor, they showed me that chart. And I couldn’t make sense of it. I mean, what IS the worst kind of pain? I couldn’t possibly know. Did I deserve a crying face… or was there more to come still? Was there worse than this? Of course there was.

(By the way, I am secretly correcting the grammar on this chart. WTH is that about?)

So, when I’m running, I think about the chart. And I think about my discomfort. And I think about what other discomfort and awful pain and strain and heartbreak there is. (No kidding, I really think this.) And I think that my discomfort must only be at about a semi-smiley face. In the grand scheme of all that we endure (as I jog past palm trees on a sunny afternoon towards my happy home of boys and normal and nice), my pain is actually just peachy. So… SHUT UP.

And I keep going.

I should add that while I promise Nike isn’t paying me to say this, the Nike + Running app is fracking amazing. I’m addicted and in constant competition with myself. Breaking my 5K record pretty much makes my life when it happens.

But, so what.

I can get jazzed about my little accomplishments but no one else should. Because I am only doing what I should be doing. What I should have been doing for years. And it’s simply my choice to do it. Bed or run? Excuses or no excuses? If I choose wrong, that’s on me. If I shut-up and get out there, then I’m just doing what is good for me. That’s all.

It’s giving back to ME. It’s upping my chances of hanging around a little longer. It’s giving my kids the best odds for decades more of my rockstar singing in the car (“Stop Mommy, you’re tooo loooud!”) and lecture-giving (“You be the person YOU want to be, blaze your own trails!”) and shameless question-asking about their body issues. (“Did you wipe… DID YOU? …No, really, DID you? I can TELL you didn’t.”)

But all this smack talk doesn’t amount to much, really. It’s just talk. And all that running has happened, but it’s no guarantee that I will run tomorrow. Or next week. It could end as fast as I started. Because it’s all about choice and whether or not that drive is there.

Is it?

It is right now. So there we go. No awards. No guarantees. No crying faces. No excuses.

How I Abandoned My Child and Killed a Hamster in One Day

Most of the time I think I have this parenting thing figured out well enough that we can get by. And by get by, I mean that my kids are wearing clothes, can speak in sentences and know how to give pretty decent hugs. (What else do you need, right?)

But when I do screw-up at parenting, I do a fairly decent job at it.

I know. It’s not like I’m the only one who screws-up with their kids. It’s just a whole lot easier when you are comforting someone ELSE about their screw-up rather than reconciling your own.

Also. I’m probably over-reacting a little bit about just how bad I screwed up. But it was bad enough that I needed some time to pass because I was… embarrassed. And now I am posting about it as some sort of strange blogger’s version of repentance. Maybe if I share it with EVERYONE, I will pay my dues and be forgiven.

This past Monday morning, I had only one of my sons in my car, the older one. My five year old was off to the doctor with my husband for a re-check on a recent ear infection. So my eight year old was in the back, lunch in his backpack, ready to go, staring out the window. We were earlier than usual, I had a busy day ahead. Funny that the crossing guards weren’t there yet because I wasn’t THAT early. Oh well. And look, no one is really here yet. Odd. Well, I wanted to get him dropped off earlier than usual so I could get a quick jump start on the work week ahead. I felt badly that none of his friends were there yet so I thought I would be nice and told him he could go get a second breakfast in the cafeteria if he wanted. I’m a nice mom like that.

And then he jumped out of the car. I waved, and drove off.

Something felt weird. Well. I had to call the office and tell them my other one would be late.

“Hi, could you transfer me to the sick line?”

Pause.

“Um. You know there is no school today, right?”

……!

Cue mad, heart-in-my-throat U-turn, holy shit.

“But I just dropped my oldest son off!”

“Where is he?”

“Sitting out front!”

“I’ll go let him know you’re on your way back.”

“…How could I have forgotten??”

“Um. I don’t know, actually.”

And as I pulled up, there was a woman from the school office talking to my son whose eyes were filled with tears. Confusion, embarrassment, fear, all of the above.

I rolled the window down.

“Thank you!!! I can’t believe I did this!!!”

Small smile and a wave. And, as she walked away, a huge bubble over her head that read something like this: “Some mom, dropping her kid off like that on a teacher planning day, unbelievable.”

When he got in the car, I asked him if he knew it was a planning day. And he said yes.

He said yes.

But he assumed that I, his parent, the responsible adult KNEW what she was doing when she dropped her child off. He trusts me, you see. When I say a shot won’t hurt, he believes me. When I drop him off on a teacher planning day, well, there must be a good reason.

He said he thought he would just read his Harry Potter book.

Mind-blown. Utterly mind-blown.

I know parents do this stuff. In fact, I am quite sure it is some sort of parenting requirement to either forget to pick your child up, drop them off at the wrong time, leave them in the wrong place or never even get their kid to the place they were supposed to be at all. I know my mom did and every mom I have shared this story with has had some story to comfort me with.

But what bothers me is where my 8 year old son is right now. I remember 8. I remember how scary the world could be, and how confusing. I remember being scared of venturing into it without my parents because they needed to be by my side to interpret how all of it works.

Sometimes I really hated being a kid.

And to be left, and knowing my parents screwed up, and not knowing exactly what to do or how to fix it… well, that is a very lonely, very scary thing. The stuff of nightmares, honestly.

He’s fine of course. But I haven’t come close to quite forgiving myself. I ignored my spidey senses. Scratch that. It shouldn’t have taken spidey senses to figure out there was no school WHEN NO ONE WAS THERE. I ignored that enormous detail. And thought, “Well, people will get here eventually…I gotta get to work.”

Not OK.

So here I am. Admitting my super screw-up to who ever is reading this. Because I want to make it very clear that I am no where NEAR close to having a real clue about this whole parenting thing. NO WHERE CLOSE. I don’t care what soapbox I tend to climb up on now and again when a rare streak of confidence sneaks in. *I* was willing to leave my child in front of an empty school… without looking back.

I do good, but I do bad. And then I do some good again. I just have to hope that this lesson will prevent so many more screw-ups in my future. And then prepare me when I mess up again. And I can tell myself that if I forgave myself this time, I can do it again the next time.

A little postscript to this story.

That very same day, I came home for lunch only to find that my children’s beloved pet hamster, Scabbers (yes, named after the rat from Harry Potter) had died out of the blue.

And that, my friends, is exactly how parenting goes.

My Turn

I’m writing a post that thousands and thousands of women could probably write at some point in their lives. It’s nothing new and certainly nothing particularly unique. But I know that this very emotional, fairly overwhelming however extraordinarily exciting phase in my life is one I can share with so many mothers everywhere.

I am going back to work full time.

It all happened rather quickly. I wasn’t planning to go back to work until both kids were in school full time next fall. But when I saw the job posting I knew I had to give it a shot. While I won’t go into too many details (I have this thing about keeping work stuff separate from blog stuff), I will say that it involves writing, blogs and social media.

Yeah, exactly.

So while my son battled the flu in the hospital last week, I was dipping out to interview for this position. And then I got it.

*blink*

I got it!

OK then.

So back to work I go. And here’s the part that I think any working mother could write. We could all step into this roller coaster together, strap ourselves in, look at each other nervously and retell the same dips, highs and overwhelming loops our emotions take while making a decision such as this one.

Gratitude.

I have managed to stay home with my children for 8 years. EIGHT. YEARS. While we haven’t had any much of a financial reserve, I have felt like the richest woman in the world for having had this time with them. For the hours and days and weeks and years of constant and connected little boy time, I am grateful beyond words. And rather weepy.

Exhiliaration.

I get to use my brain all day without any interruption? I get to talk to grown-ups and feel like an active, productive, useful member of society? I get to find real success doing something I like to do? *Cheering!* And weepy.

Guilt.

Not counting weekends and evenings, my time off with my children will now be limited to a certain number of hours per year. I am going to have to rely on school, aftercare, summer camps, various babysitters and my husband to pick up where I am leaving off. After eight years of putting them first and foremost in my day every day, I will have to step back. This is hard. This is life-changing. This is an enormous battle in my heart, in every mother’s heart. And this, of course, makes me very very weepy.

Hope.

Parents everywhere struggle to make the balance happen. They hope they know when to put work first and then family first. I hope I can do it right. I hope I have a steady inner scale regulating my gut to push more one way or another. I hope I know when to say no and when to say it will be fine if I’m not there. Neither will be done perfectly. I hope I can come to terms with this. And do right by everyone involved. Less weepy, more resolute.

My Turn.

Eight years of making two little boys the be all and end all of everyday can, well, kind of wear you down. It can make you forget who you are. It can erode your own self-esteem and make you wonder if you can do anything else other than skillfully hide carrots in meat sauce and do fun voices when you read stories. It’s easy to forget that you should sometimes come first. It’s hard to fathom that if you feel good about yourself, you can actually be a better mother. So I am heeding the advice of so many working mothers I know. I am prioritizing “me time”, because allowing myself a place to put my interests first WILL make me a better person and mother. (…right? RIGHT??)

Not weepy. Not at all. In fact I’m kind of relieved. And, yep, happy about that. Plus my kids are far from weepy too. They actually cheered when they found out they are going to aftercare now – you know, with all the cool kids.

“Mommy is going to work just like Daddy! JUST like a grown-up!”

Exactly. It’s time to be a grown-up.

And many thanks to my children who, as I tried to compose my “I accept” email yesterday, decided to have an all out toy-throwing, kicking and screaming, “he started it!” brawl that took two paragraphs a half hour to write. It made my decision that much easier to make. Thanks for that, boys. What would I do without you? We’ll have to see I guess.

So here we go. In a little over a week I will change my title from “Stay At Home Mom” to “Working Mom”. It will be OK though, right? (Tell me I’m right, tell me I’m right, tell me I’m right…)

Because it’s my turn.

No More Kings: A Preschooler’s Perspective

I let the television babysit my kid today. Yep, in order to defend my well-earned “Mother of the Year” title and not deal with the recent mega tantrums my four year old has been regularly dishing out, I turned on the tube. But I told my son that we had to put on something EDUCATIONAL. You know, so that Mommy feels better about letting your brain rot.

Because we have been having a little battle in our home. If the brainrotbox television has to be turned on by me, I would prefer that they watch something that teaches them important lessons. But alas my boys have discovered the joys of “Cartoon Network” and “Disney XM”.

Not good.

If my television is going to replace me it better EDUCATE them, dammit. Dora’s over-emphasized hollering might drive me screaming from my home but at least they’re learning something. All Scooby Doo has taught my boys is how to wear an ascot, crave Scooby snacks and scream “ZOINKS!” at the tops of their lungs.

Awesome.

But my kid was actually fine with educational television today, however, so he picked out “Schoolhouse Rock”. With a clear I should totally be reading with my kid right now conscious, I scrolled through the menu and clicked on “America Rock”.

As I did this, I wondered what my parents thought when they put on “Schoolhouse Rock” or “Sesame Street” decades before. Did their conscious feel about like mine did? Well, if I’m going to turn to television, it may as well kind of try to teach them something? And did they kind of know, like I did, that I was totally kidding myself? Which is a favorite parent thing to do, of course, like self-defense – so that we all aren’t wracked with guilt.

I watched for a bit. Smiled and enjoyed it for a moment (I fluffy heart LOVE “Schoolhouse Rock”) and went back to my room to take my toe nail polish off do something much less parental and far more self-involved.

When I left he was watching this. Catchy tune and a fun way to tell the story, right?

Later in the day, it was time to get dressed (if I was going to toss in the Mommy towel that morning, I may as well wait to dress my kid until I absolutely HAD to). And as I picked out a T-shirt, my kid started muttering to me about the Red Coats.

“They’re bad Mommy. REALLY bad.”

“Um hmmm.” Oh good. This Star Wars t-shirt matches the only clean pants he has.

“They tried to take our money!”

Where are his socks? I should have done laundry today.

“It’s called ‘taxation without representation’!”

I spun around.

“What?”

And he started telling me the whole story. So I stopped him, grabbed my Flip, and had him start from the beginning. I’m bummed he didn’t school me with the exact phrase “taxation without representation” again but he came very close.

Whoda thunk. I did zero to enlighten my child today but “Schoolhouse Rock” did. They win.

And maybe it’s time to check out a few age appropriate history books for my child? Books that *I* (clearing my throat smugly) could read to him like any GOOD, invested, loving parent would read to their child… of course.

Time For Myself

My four year old left for his first full day of Pre-K today. And my seven year old is already on day three of second grade.

But today is my first day, at home, without my children. No kids, people. No kids until 2:30 in the afternoon!

What to do with myself.

*Silence*

It’s so quiet. It felt great at first. And then, pretty damn lonely too. No noise? …Does not compute.

I can hear the cat snoring on my bed in the other room.

It’s so very quiet.

But there is a strange pang within that I am trying to come to grips with.

No, it’s not a weepy, “oh I miss my boys” pang. It should be, right? I know. So throw in a side of guilt. I SHOULD miss them. And of course I do. But I’m ok with this moment of their new found independence. How am I so calm? Well, my wonderful kids did a fine job over these last few days of summer of making SURE I wouldn’t miss them too much. They did what they could to get under my skin just enough so that I would simply smile and wave, rather than weep and sob, as my husband’s car pulled out of the drive way. They’re thoughtful kids like that. And I love them so.

(And they were so damn ready for school. With beaming grins they practically whooped and hollered as they climbed into the car. How can I not feel happy and at peace about that?)

No there is another strange non-weepy pang within that I am trying to tease apart and figure out.

I think it does partly have to do with guilt. But really it’s this feeling that I need to be doing something productive with myself.

I have all of this time here. And it’s quiet enough to actually think. And nothing is getting any messier. I have the day at my finger tips. Most sane women would throw the laundry in the air, grab that box of bon-bons and dive into a whole round of soaps, dammit. After seven years of wiping asses and making sandwiches and ducking plastic toys – a little relax time is well deserved, right?

*wringing my hands*

I can’t quite get there.

You see for so long I have dropped any and all expectations of myself and my productivity to an all time low. If I can get myself showered and clothed well then YAY for me. Quiet time in the bathroom? It’s a lot to ask but weeee, its a nice bonus when it happens!

But now I can spend as much quiet time in or out of the bathroom as I’d like. At least until 2:30pm. Every other day.

But you see, I feel obligated to get my ass in gear. To DO something CONSTRUCTIVE already. Maybe something that earns money? Posts? Follow ups? Maybe start being more aggressive about ways I can pimp myself for some fabulous, oh so sought after writing cash?

*drumming fingers*

I’m still figuring that all out.

Or maybe actually get this place cleaned up for once? Laundry in its place. Dishes done BEFORE dinner. Oh, plan and MAKE dinner AHEAD of time! Clean out my closet. Change that damned kitty litter.

Or maybe I can finally be that mom who makes muffins and cookies and has them ready when they get home! And maybe I can be that mom who is calm and loving because I’ve HAD my “ME” time for the day. I can feel refreshed and ready to *bing* (cue cheery, June Cleaver smile) be that wonderful mom I swore I could be before I got knocked up.

What to do.

I can’t just do nothing anymore. I can’t just wallow in time to myself. My husband works his butt off all day, everyday (weekends too, I swear) all for us. SITTING AROUND just doesn’t seem… right.

But it’s weird too, you know? Just weird. Weird for me to prioritize my schedule the way I want to without any distractions from 8:00am – 2:30pm three times a week.

(That may not seem like that much time but, my friends, it’s a lifetime to me… a lifetime I tell you!)

So what have I done today so far? I have been productive but its been all about catch up and follow up and just doing things I should have had done days or weeks ago.

I didn’t even do the bills.

I didn’t make those muffins either.

And it’s 1:30pm.

Maybe I can squeeze those muffins in right now.

This new time to myself world is a strange, odd, unfamiliar transition for me. But I had better get used to it. Whether I make myself super useful or put myself first in whatever way – my kids are going to be spending more and more time away from me.

(Oh that weepy stuff WILL catch up with me, don’t you worry about that.)

Next year they will be in school all day, every day. Then it’s middle school and sleep overs. And then high school and driving. And then college.

My eldest is ONLY ten years away from COLLEGE.

Time to get my ass in gear and figure out what the hell to do with my time. Time to finally establish myself as a useful human being, capable and ready to make my mark on this universe in so many other ways than parenting.

Because I am more than a mommy. I am.

*soft kitty snoring*

*silence*

It’s time to go make some muffins.

Fairies, Fat Men and Fibs

We are two months past Christmas and in the meantime, my six year old has been losing teeth and growing them back in faster than I can start weeping “I remember when you were just a drooling, teething, gumming mess!” And thanks to all the pasteled cardboard bunnies decking the halls of my local Target, I have been reminded that Easter is right around the corner. So what does this mean?

A whole lot of lying to my kid.

Why?

Because within a span of a few months, I will have told my kid that yes, one more mysterious magical being will creep into our home and leave him things.

Santa.

How does he get in?  The air vents? Why can’t we hear him? Do you promise he doesn’t come into my room?

The Tooth Fairy.

How big is she? Is she like Tinkerbell? Can she fly? How does she carry all this money and what does she do with all the teeth?

The Easter Bunny.

Does he lay these eggs? Does he like to eat plastic grass? Where does he come from? Why do I get jelly beans? What would the Tooth Fairy say?

And I come up with fascinating, complex responses to each of his questions. This year, I even managed to have the Tooth Fairy be in cahoots with Santa. If he does a good job brushing his teeth, she’ll let Santa know. His eyes were wide, considering all of this, hoping his rep remained in good standing for all of these magical home invaders.

And yet, those wondrous tales I weave? Lies. All of them.

Here I am trying to teach my six year old facts about the world. At school, he learns about gravity, liquids, solids, what floats, what sinks, where his nation’s capitol is and that Abraham Lincoln was our the 16th president. He helps me bake and bring his dishes back to the sink. He is learning responsibility and asks me questions about current events on the news. He is learning and processing and showing brief glimmers of (…I can hardly bare to consider it…) adulthood.

And then here I come along and throw in fat men squeezing into vents in our house (no “stranger danger” to worry about hon, I promise) and fairies flitting about dropping change and bunnies hopping through our home with an odd fetish for plastic grass.

It just feels a little… off.

But I try to back up and think of the six year old world I experienced some 30 odd years prior. I remember gleefully celebrating everything magical, fantastical and far from realistic. As fast as I learned about how serious and strange our world actually was, the hope of magic and fairies and gifts being left in the dead of night if I was a good girl absolutely appealed.

Because at six years old, magic still makes a lot of sense. Santa is about as real as some guy named Abraham Lincoln anyway. So let’s go with it.

But the guilt remains. I can’t help but feel like I’m lying. As much as he seems to enjoy these silly traditions…

Ok, wait. I’m lying again. He went through a faze at about 4 years old when the concept of some strange man coming into our home on Christmas Eve seemed more frightening than any spook left behind from Halloween. I promised he didn’t have to sit on his knee. I promised he wouldn’t go into his room. I promised that I was right down the hall. Yay for Christmas, isn’t this fun?

That has since passed. But during it all, I could not help but question why I had to shove this strange myth down his throat. Believe in Santa, damn it. After all, I believed – so YOU must too! Like some screwy rite of passage, you better be good for goodness sake.

And what will happen when my six year old learns about my litany of lies after all these years? Because what is all of this for? So that he can grasp onto some hope of magic only to have it dashed? I worry he will be so disappointed. Because he is wound deep into the tradition of it all now. He adores it all and takes it very seriously. I cringe a little while he solemnly places carrots for our reindeer in our driveway, making sure they are well fed for all their work. And then runs his pajama-ed feet back inside to find NORAD online and track Santa’s progress.

All of it is still so believable.

He believes because the barometer of all that is real and safe and ok  – that would be yours truly, Mommy –  said so.

Gawd, I am such a liar.

But there have been times where I have hinted that the magic isn’t there. I have forgotten to fill the advent calendar only to have him ask me to fill it, but could I do it when he’s not looking? He wants that candy to magically appear. And I have left the tooth fairy writing paper out, and the pen I used. He overlooks it. Maybe he didn’t connect the dots – or maybe he doesn’t want to.

I think I was close to ten years old before I was 100% sure there was no Santa. I held on for as long as I possibly could. I kept the faith, thinking the non-believers were totally losing out while I stubbornly bought into every last drop of Christmas magic. I knew that Santa and the Eater Bunny’s handwriting looked an awful lot like my parents. But I didn’t care. There were a lot of things we couldn’t explain, let’s just believe the magic is real.

And I think I still have to.

I need create magic for as long as he wants it. Because there is something special about believing. It fosters wonder and hope and possibility in their imaginations. If there is a tooth fairy hovering over my head, slipping change under my pillow, well anything seems possible, right?

Yeah.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed how I rationalize my lies. Yes, saying there is a Santa means my child will have a fantastic imagination. Awesome.

But I will continue with these traditions and routines. They are woven into our culture. Watching them believe brings us back to a time when we believed. And that feels ok and fun and, who cares, everyone enjoys it. So I’m ok with that.

But when my six year old puts it together that my handwriting is the same as Santa’s and the Tooth Fairy’s and the Easter Bunny’s, when he comes home telling me what they are all insisting on the playground, when he mourns the fact that all of this magic is just, you’ve got to be kidding me, his mom… well. I’ll be back on here. Oozing with guilt and parental self doubt.

Until then, I am wondering if the Easter Bunny should leave a new toothbrush too – a little something from his “cuz” the Tooth Fairy. With all of those anticipated jelly bellies, the Easter Bunny might need to encourage a little dental care too. Yep, let’s weave some guilt into my tale of lies. It just might work.

The Flu Shot: the Good, the Swollen and the Fevered

While we escaped without much fanfare from H1N1, the flu season has certainly made its mark on my family already. Because we’re dealing with more flu issues yet again. No, my 6yo didn’t get H1N1 – miraculously, he seems to have remained immune while his friends and brother all have succumbed to it. So I think we’re done with the pig.

However. I decided to get both of my sons the flu shot. Since it looked like we had made it through well enough with the Swine thing, I may as well cover all our bases, follow all the recommendations of our doctor and our school, and get my kids vaccinated.

No big deal, right?

That’s certainly been the case for my all swined out 3 year old. I don’t think he even cried when he was given his shot. And since then, all he has to show for it is a quarter sized red mark at the vaccination site. No biggee.

tlegNot so for my 6yo. His leg hurt him right away after he was vaccinated. And by the time he got home from school that day, he was limping and the site was sore to touch. The next morning, he woke up with a 102 degree fever. The nurse I spoke with on the phone said that this is a normal side effect. He should take some Motrin and he should be fine in a day or so. Ok. The motrin worked wonders. But when it started to wear off, his leg actually started to swell and the vaccination site started to show a patchy rash that spread up and down his thigh.

What the hell? He’s had flu shots before, but they’ve never reacted like this!

Once again, I was on the phone with the Friday night After Hours office. I need an appointment. Now.

We were there in within the hour. By then my poor kid (who was due for his Motrin) was struggling. The fever was kicking his ass. And his leg looked awful.

fluhandoutWhat did the Doctor say? Yes, his reaction IS normal. It is not an allergic reaction since my son is not allergic to eggs (thankfully). He said he is just reacting to the inactive virus that is part of the vaccination. This is not the flu, just some side effects from it. Ok. And while my 3 year old’s reaction was simply a tiny localized red spot, my older son obviously reacted quite a bit more. He said to take Motrin* every six hours without fail for the next 24 hours. We should also keep a cold compress on his leg and the swelling should be better when he isn’t feverish. And that was that.

His fever has continued today, but the Motrin helps a great deal. So does the cold compress. I am assuming he will be back to normal tomorrow or the following day.

But still. It makes me rethink this flu shot thing. Sure, it HAS been pointed out to me that even with these fairly strong reactions to the flu shot, this is better than having the flu itself. And I agree. My 3 year old had a flu shot last year and did not get the flu. My older son didn’t get the shot and he suffered with a horrible flu for a week. So yes, this IS the better option.

That said, I can’t help but feel iffy about this whole flu shot business. This foreign “inactivated influenza” stuff being shot into my kid’s leg and putting him on his ass. My poor kid.

And with all of it’s bad press recently, I never even asked about thiomersal or whether it was being used in these vaccinations. (*hanging head in shame*) And I didn’t ask about it yesterday either. (*smacking forehead*) I gather it is rarely used any longer – or if it is, it is used in very small doses.

So where does this leave my kids? Well, they’re vaccinated – and my 6 year old does seem to be soldiering back.

But next year? Would I do this again? Not after a long, hard talk with my doctor to see what to expect. Because the Swine Flu was less of a hassle for my 3 year old than the side effects of the vaccination were for my 6 year old. I know we were lucky with H1N1 – VERY lucky. And fairly unlucky with the flu shot. So I am trying to keep my head about me through all of this – but I just can’t help but feel a bit iffy… maybe I even have a little flu shot remorse.

Flu exposures, flu shots, fevers, misery, side effects of all of it… maybe there is no escape. Maybe the flu gets you one way or the other – its just a matter of how MUCH it gets you.

Regardless, I am OVER this Flu season already. I hope we’ve paid our dues. We’ve done our time. So. Leave us alone now, ok?

*Note: While I followed the directions on the Motrin bottle, the Dr. actually noted that I had been under-dosing him for his size and that might explain his further swelling and recurring fever. It was a quick reminder that I should always check in with my pediatrician regarding dosage amounts. As they grow, so does their dosage. I should know better, Chandra Wilson told me so.

Finger Painting Personalities

The other day I bought finger paints for my children. For the first time. Ever.

Yes. I know. After six years of parenting, how have I managed to deprive my boys of one the most basic forms of art expression for children? HOW have they not had the opportunity to get their hands goopy and messy in paints and smear it all over paper? I love art, I love it when kids are given the green light to get messy. This is the perfect combo of both.

Honestly, Caroline. Six years of parenting and the idea of finger paints flickers to life in your mind only NOW? My head hangs in shame.

Well. Better late than never, right?

So I turned to my kids. “Hey!! Finger paints! That sounds like fun! Right? Should we get some?” My three year old stared at me. He had NO idea what finger paints were. My six year old looked at me cautiously. “I think I did those once. In school once. A long time ago. Like in 2006.”

*Blink* Well. That was that. Into the cart they went along with a big pad of special finger paint paper. This mother was going to right this wrong.

Later that afternoon, we sat down to do some arts and crafts. Of course, I covered the table with newspaper and they were smocked from head to toe. While cleanliness was not really part of my agenda, it was part of my 6 ear old’s. He refused to start without a smock. “What if my shirt gets dirty?” You’ve got to be kidding me. This kid reeeally needs a good old fashioned afternoon of finger painting. It’s time to get messy and be completely ok with it.

So off they went. Tentative at first – dabbing the pads of their finger tips only barely in a color and then wiping it on the paper. But eventually they relaxed and started to let their entire fingers and then hands get nice and painty. The smooth texture fascinated them. They played, they giggled, they smeared.

What I found most blogworthy, however, was the end result. I am not sure if you’ve got my kids figured out yet but let me sum up their personalities quickly.

My 3 year old: Passionate – big – loud – extraordinarily sweet, giggling, social highs – dark, tantruming, stubborn and screaming lows. Very chatty but usually talks too fast for most to understand.

My 6 year old: Cautious – thinking – slightly framed – watches and waits – listens but without giving you a clue he’s paying attention – smart – calculated – cautious, shy smiles – a rule follower – sometimes very moody.

So back to the end results of the finger painting. Check them out below. Can you tell whose is whose? Their personalities in paint. It honestly blew me away. We HAVE to do more art around here I think. I can’t wait to see what they do next.

fp1 fp2

My Son has a Hearing Loss

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A few weeks ago I got a call from an audiologist doing screenings at my child’s school. In one long breath, she told me that my son had failed two hearing tests and would need follow up with an audiologist and referrals are being sent and I needed to wait to hear from them as they would set up the appointment – and that’s all the information she has.

Um, ok.

So I waited. They called eventually. They set up the appointment. I explained to my kid what was going on. But. I wasn’t worried.

I mean after all, he never turned up the TV or computer or seemed unable to hear something. He is doing great at school, his teachers have never mentioned any issues and he never seems confused. And surely when he doesn’t respond to my questions, that is just his personality. He is stubborn and reserved and sometimes he just doesn’t say anything when he doesn’t want to talk about something. That’s all.

Ugh. That is exactly something a mom would say to cover for her kid, isn’t it?

So today, my five year old and I marched in to see the audiologist. I was looking forward to having this over with so I could smugly declare “See? You all had it wrong. My kid hears fine. He just didn’t feel like raising his hand to the pesky beeps.”

The audiologist’s office had a sound proof booth which my son stepped right on into. He is so good about taking direction and obliged every command. I watched carefully through the window, willing his hand up every few seconds (even though I couldn’t hear a thing from where I stood).

After a variety of tests, the doctor handed my son a “I HADE A HEARING TEST TODAY!” sticker and sat down across from me.

“Your son has a mild to moderate hearing loss in his left ear. It is likely it is permanent. And considering how well he took the test, my guess is that this test is accurate.”

She went on to explain follow up tests, forms to bring to school, how we could help him. Sure, kids with this sort of hearing loss get hearing aides. But for one ear, it may not be necessary since the other ear accommodates for the loss.

Hearing aide?

She said it’s hard to know how it happened or if its something genetic but now we should follow up and watch it carefully.

Genetic? I could have passed this down to him? And what about my two year old? He must be tested right away. No wonder he can barely talk. Oh shit. How have I not noticed this hearing loss before? How? And I never followed up with that bilateral hearing test when he was younger. I didn’t want anything to be wrong. Is this from his birth trauma? Will this loss get worse?

I thanked her and left with my son skipping besides me. I forgot to ask her if this could get worse. What if this gets worse? Shit. Don’t panic.

“So, you know how mom has really bad eyes? And you know how if I take off my contacts, I can’t see really well?”

“Yeah. You could walk into a wall!”

“Uh, right. Well, I was born with eyes like that. Turns out you were born with one ear that doesn’t work as well as the other. No big deal. And that’s what all these tests are for.”

“Ok.”

“And maybe that explains why you can’t always hear me from the backseat when we’re driving. …Although, I can’t always here YOU from the front seat either…”

“I think then I got my bad ear from you mom.”

“Heh. Yeah.”

He could care less. And for the rest of the way to school, he munched happily on his Dunkin Donut, dreaming of his T-ball practice tonight.  These results don’t change HIS world, its been this way for awhile.

I was calmer then too. And one fact comforted me the most: his birth trauma. Things could have been SO much worse. If this is it? If this is all we get for what could have been? This is no big deal. One thing those 11 days in the NICU gave me was perspective. This is fine. We can absolutely handle this.

By the time I arrived at his school, I had gathered myself. Cool, calm, a mommy in charge, I walked in and explained our morning.

“Oh.” She suddenly had a concerned look on her face. “I think you need to explain all this to someone else….” she trailed off as she ducked into the back office. Out came someone more “in charge” and after she heard the deal, she started rattling off procedures for a 504 plan and preferential seating and she would try and have him observed by someone or other who was coming in tomorrow and there will be forms to fill out and you will be called by so and so…

I didn’t feel so calm all of the sudden. Plans? Procedures? Huh?

She looked at me carefully then. “This must be very overwhelming for you dear.” She had a warm face and seemed very sympathetic.

Gulp. Finally a lump in my throat appeared. I chattered away about this and that and how I just want someone to be sure to check in with him because he won’t advocate for himself. He’s very shy and self conscious and I will be emailing his teacher and look forward to speaking to someone about his… er… 504 plan. Thank you.

Out I rushed to the car. And cried. My baby. He has a hearing loss.

(An update can be found here and here.)

Just Thought I’d Ask

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As much as I try to deny it, my children are growing up. (Damn.) My sweet little two year old C.  is going to be three this summer. I have even begun the process of enrolling him in school part time this fall. Its hard to believe that in a mere nine months, I won’t have a child home with me full time.

How did that happen?

And where does that leave me?

In 2003, I quit my full time job to be home with my children. And soon, over five years later with two kids in school and a huge gap in my resume, I have to figure out how I am going to help earn more for this family. Times are tough everywhere. We are lucky my husband is even employed. I am an able bodied person, so back to work with me. If this all sounds familiar, it should because I have been stressed about this issue before. Its one I go round in circles about. I think we all do.

But here’s the thing. This past year, some amazing things have happened for me. I am beginning to feel that I need to pay careful attention to whats going on around me. The signs are there.  It seems that something real may waiting for me in my future. I know this sounds like I am buying into some new age hocus pocus… *Shrug* Well. I don’t know. Maybe I am. Because I almost feel like the universe – and all that is beyond me – is quietly trying to tell me something. You might remember I have noticed this before. And all of those crazy signs I was talking about then still just keep popping up everywhere.

This way, this way. Over here. Come this way…

So, if we are going to go there, and get all spiritual up on this blog, I think I am going to go ahead and practice a tried and true lesson from the heavens. I have heard that in order to get what you want, you must ask for it. So that’s what I am going to do. I am going push aside those feelings of “I shouldn’t ask for anything, I don’t deserve anything more, I have enough” and just simply ask the powers that be for a little favor.

To all that are listening, whether they be up at the pearly gates or right here next to me as I type this post (cue the inspirational Enya music, switch on the hallowed lights from the heavens) – this is what I hope I can do to earn my keep around here:

I want to write.

(Shocking, I know.)

But I want to be paid to write. And I adore blogging, really I do, and I plan to keep doing it. But am I the next Dooce? I don’t think so. My life is really not interesting enough to have a well paying blog about… err… little ol’ me.

But I would love to write articles, be paid to post on other blogs, write reviews, write editorials in magazines or online… shoot, whatever it is, I just want to write and make some extra scratch for groceries or (eeks, this seems like a lot to ask) maybe even a car payment.

Now if you are a parent blogger, writing from home like I am, I am betting you are having a good laugh right about now. Because this is probably exactly what you want too. You know how great writing is. You can work from home and then be there for your children when they get home from school. You set your own hours and you take on as much work as you can handle. Its kind of ideal, right? Yeah, that’s what I think too.

Well, even if every other parent blogger wants to do what I hope to do, so what. It still can’t hurt to ask, right?

So. To the powers that be. Whoever is out there, up there, over there, right here pushing mystical buttons and pulling heavenly levers… could you just make a note? Maybe tag me and set me aside for something that seems to fit my needs down the road a bit? I’m not asking to be Editor in Chief of Redbook or the next Jen Weiner, I just want to love what I do… and write. Then maybe I can help pay some bills around here and make sure T. is getting his homework done before he turns on the Wii. It’s not too much to ask, right? I hope not.

Anyway. Back I go to stumbling down this path, with no clue where it will take me, uncovering the tiny little signs that are pointing me this way.  I know I keep checking myself, questioning my faith in it all, saying “Well, I don’t know, I’ll try it for now but lets not get our hopes up.” But then, right at my feet, another sign will appear. And if I look very, very closely it says the same thing that they all do. It simply says “write, write, write”. So I am.