Inheritance.

June 16, 2014 at 6:51 am | Posted in Cult of Personality, My life, Parenting, Stuck with You (aka: Family) | 5 Comments

I think I’m going to call my late 30s as The Time of Insomnia. Because I can count on one HAND the nights I’ve slept the whole night in the past 3 months or so.

Gah.

Last night I was widethefuckawake for about an hour. And I have a strict rule when I am awake overnight: no devices, no computer, no books. The first two are to avoid making my insomnia worse, but the second is because I don’t believe a book should be used to help me fall back asleep. Books are all their own: a journey, an escape, a way to connect, a way to feel, a way to not feel. They are not a means to an end, though.

So what I try and do is slow myself down. I breathe a bit and try and slow my thoughts down. I suppose you can call it “meditating,” though I’m not quite sure I actually get to a place where I’m focused only on my breath. I more feel like I’m soothing an overstimulated baby, trying to get her to relax and drop off into slumber.

And last night, as I was doing this, a thought popped into my head.

I wonder what traits I inherited from my grandfather?

My Grandpa C was my absolute favorite person in the WHOLE WORLD when I was a kid. I wouldn’t even pretend that it was otherwise – from the moment he came into our house until the moment he left, I was by his side. He was such a loving grandfather; the only one in my family that touched me with love. He was quick with a hug, didn’t mind me climbing into his lap, even when I was at the age where most adults said, you’re too big for this! and always seems to put a hand on my head or shoulder or my arm; letting me know when he was near.

He made me feel safe and loved when he was around.

We didn’t share blue eyes – my older cousin got them instead. I liked to think that maybe I inherited his musical talent – but years after he died, my other cousin got into chorus, and when we heard him sing, it was like my grandfather was there. T definitely has the same amazing, booming tenor voice he had.

I clearly didn’t inherit his ability to sleep. He used to fall asleep on our couch all the time, but call it watching TV with my eyes closed. Just resting my eyes! Apparently he always did it, even when I was an infant and my parents were living with them, he’d be holding me on the couch, me looking around, wide awake, him snoring.

I definitely did not inherit his ability to make friends with everyone new he met. He used to sell Amway, back in the day, and the man could chat up someone he didn’t know so well that people used to tell me, Your grandfather is such a great man!

I really don’t know much else about Grandpa C otherwise, quite honestly. He died in 1995, not quite a year after we lost Amy, and I never got to have an adult relationship with him. So I don’t know what traits of mine I inherited from him, biologically, anyway.

What I remember is how safe he made me feel, how loved I felt when he was around.

It was Saturday when, as I was in the middle of writing a grocery list, Lucky pushed his way into my lap. He climbed onto me, all bones and angles and elbows and corners. And I stopped what I was doing and wrapped my arms around him and gave him a kiss on the head, even though I was noting how big he was and how hard it was to have him sit in my lap. But, you know. I still carry him upstairs, even on the days where I’ve had a long run and my legs are tired and it’s really, really hard to get up those stairs with 45lbs of 6 year old clinging to me and Charlie and I decided that age 6 was too old for “free rides.” Every morning when Lucky comes down, I pick him up and he snuggles with me quietly, all curled up, his chin resting on my shoulder, his feet dangling.

And last night, in the middle of the night, I realized something.

I do with Lucky the same my grandfather did with me. Even though he’s probably too big to be carried, I do it anyway. Even though when he sits on my lap SOMETHING hurts me, an elbow or knee or bony butt bone.

Even though I’m not very physical with affection to anyone else in my life, Charlie included, I am with Lucky.

I give it to Lucky because I remember how good it felt to have that kind of love and affection, how safe I felt with my Grandpa C. I do it because I always want Lucky to feel loved and safe with me. Because as he grows, that’s going to be what he remembers. Because it’s how I forge our closeness. Because Lucky’s like a flower; I almost see the tangible benefits of my affection with him.

And so, in a way, that is my inheritance from my grandfather. I might not have gotten his blue eyes, and making music is something in my past. I might not have the ability to make friends with everyone, and I definitely am not at all a sales person.

But I give my son the same kind of love and affection he gave to me.

And in that way, part my grandfather lives on through me.

What’s your inheritance from your grandparents? 

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Lucky.

January 10, 2013 at 10:22 am | Posted in Cult of Personality, motherhood, Parenting, Stuck with You (aka: Family) | 2 Comments

I’m going to try and write every day in January; I feel like I had a lot to say back in November when I did NaBloPoMo and I’m hoping that I can get my mojo back, a little bit at a time.

__________________

Lucky has always been an introverted kind of kid; ever since he was a baby he never did well in big groups, even when it was people he knew. Thankfully, over the years, he’s come out of his shell a lot. I think it started when he was able to verbalize what he was feeling; gave him a little more control over the situation to be able to say “I don’t like that.”

When we go to Charlie’s family gatherings, though, getting him to acknowledge family members is kind of a battle. For example? We’re a huggy family, whenever we get to a family gathering, everyone turns and gives a big welcome to the people coming in the door, and we give hugs to everyone in the room. Which is really hard, given his temperament. He gets embarrassed when there are too many eyes on him, and he’ll be contradictory and refuse to hug or look at anyone.

We work with it, of course – we prep him about who will be there, we try and arrive early so that there aren’t too many people looking at him, and I’ve often hugged people with Lucky in my arms, his head buried in my shoulder, giving them a welcome from the both of us. And then he’ll get down and run off with his more outgoing cousin D, and we don’t have to worry about it until the end, when we’re trying to get him to give hugs to people on the way out, also a bit of a struggle.

Last weekend, we actually hosted a family potluck at our house: for this part of the family, we’re a central location. And we love hosting.

Apparently? So does Lucky.

When people came in, he was the consumate host: asked to take their coats, told them they could put their food in the kitchen, then took every last one of them up to see my things in my bedroom!

And Charlie’s Aunt M came into the kitchen after the visit to his room, completely shocked and flushed with pleasure. I can count on one hand the number of times he said HELLO to be before, and all of a sudden he’s inviting me to his room! And showing me all sorts of things! And telling me all about his stuffed animals and his favorite books! I can’t believe it!

___________________

We’ve had a little trouble with mice lately. This is the first time we’ve had an issue since we moved here; we think it has to do with the cold weather and lack of a cat (not that Puck would have ever KNOWN what to do with a mouse, honestly).

But Charlie bought some traps, and set one on Saturday night, and sure enough, Sunday morning we had caught a mouse. Lucky, of course, was all interested in the traps when Charlie bought them that day, and Charlie explained that it was a way to catch and kill mice so that they didn’t make a mess in our house and eat all our food.

So Sunday morning, Charlie asked me if it was okay that Lucky SEE the dead mouse, since he was asking about it.

I know that stuff like this is in a grey area. But Lucky was never bothered when Puck died; we told him that he had a kind of sickness that the doctors couldn’t fix, that the doctors thought the sick was called cancer, and though there are some times when you have cancer you DON’T die, Puck’s cancer was a kind that the doctors couldn’t fix. So he died.

And he took that explanation, and there wasn’t much questioning or anxiety over it (will I get the sick, too?). He talked about Puck a lot, and how he had a cat that died, but there wasn’t a lot of angst around it.

And my personal parenting belief is that I want to foster Lucky’s curiosity. If he was asking to see the dead mouse, what was the real harm?

So we showed him the dead mouse, and he said, Wow, that’s a big one, Daddy! And that was it.

Until that afternoon, during the party.

Lucky asked me if it was okay for him to read to everyone the “Night Before Christmas,” which he has memorized. And I asked the people in the room if that was okay, and they agreed.

So he started in:

The night before Christmas, all in the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse. And without missing a beat, he paused, and said: Guys!!! WE caught a mouse today, in one of Daddy’s TRAPS! It was a big one, too. Mommy made Daddy put it in the garage garbage can.

And then he went on with the poem, right from where he left off: The stockings were hung from the chimney with care…

Charlie’s OTHER Aunt B came into the kitchen shortly thereafter, marveling at the difference in him between our house and hers. It’s kind of amazing to see him when he’s in his own environment. she said. He’s like a whole different person!

That’s my kid: a big contradiction – full of curiosity and shyness and bossy and sharing everything he knows and unwillingness to hug, unless it’s on his own terms.

Just don’t all look at him at once. 🙂

Time.

November 27, 2012 at 10:08 am | Posted in My life, Mythical #2, NaBloPoMo, Parenting, Pregnancy Loss | 6 Comments

The thing about birthdays.

It’s not that I am afraid of getting older, or I hate the number I am this year – 37 – or even that it’s close to 40. It’s not actually BEING close to middle aged, which I am.

It’s just that birthdays are a marker. They’re a physical reminder that time flows onward. And it seems over the past few years that time has gone by FASTER than before, like it’s speeding up.

Lucky will be 5 in March. Even though it feels as if he’s been a part of me forever, I have a memory of him being born. In my head, it just yesterday. I remember it vividly – the cool spring air, the dribble of my amniotic fluid, sitting in my car in the parking garage waiting for my OB’s office to call me back, walking to L&D and taking deep breaths to quell the anxiety and worry.

Then those nights in the hospital, him laying next to me, staring at me with those dark eyes of his. The full moon rising outside our hospital window, how the lights of Fenway were on even though it was early March.

It was yesterday; moments ago.

And I’m struggling with the idea that after the two years we’ve been trying, we still don’t even have the HOPE of another baby. I have cycle buddies from the IVF cycles we did for our second who have gone on to have a baby… and are now pregnant again. I used to hope that I’d get pregnant and our son or daughter would be close in age to my niece, who will be three in July. And my sister-in-law will be having my new nephew this week.

It used to feel like we were just marking time. But we are now watching children we love grow up right in front of our eyes. Lucky. My BFF’s new son (how is it possible he’s 7 weeks old already?). My niece and nephew.

It’s just going by so fast. And I know I’m going to blink and Lucky’s going to be off to college, and then I’ll be dancing with him at his wedding, and I’ll wonder where all the time went.

I mean, hell, I’m wondering that NOW. Where the hell has the time GONE? How is it that 2 minutes after I turned 25, I am now 37? How is it that we’ve spent another TWO YEARS on family building? Is it worth it to keep trying, when Lucky will be 6 before he has CHANCE of a sibling?

Should we stop waiting for bus we hope will take us to our Mythical Child and start walking, start DOING something with this time?

I have no answers. And days like yesterday, a day where I’m consistently reminded that time marches ever on, make me wonder and worry that I’ve wasted too much of my life on family building.

And I have this pervasive fear: we’ll not only never end up with another baby, but years from now I’ll look back and regret wasting all this time… on all this heartbreak.

Bring on the Padded Room.

November 21, 2012 at 9:18 am | Posted in Battles (aka: toddlerhood), NaBloPoMo, Parenting, rants | 15 Comments

(Or: A Rant.)

Age 4.75 might actually be the point where I lose my mind completely.

I don’t know if it’s the incessant whining, the active Not Listening, the inability to carry out the most basic requests I ask him without a meltdown, the random complete fucking freakouts over something I haven’t actually SAID yet, the obsession with all things screen-related, the insistence on doing non-age appropriate things (like stirring something in boiling water, for example), the yelling (and hitting. Awesome.) when he doesn’t like an answer I give him.

How a child could be so INTENT on doing Big Kid stuff in one moment and completely helpless the next boggles my mind.

Add to it the ANGER when I DARE to help him with the straps with his carseat, for example… it’s too much.

But this morning you flipped out when I asked you to do it yourself and told me you DIDN’T KNOW HOW TO DO IT!

I swear to god, he’s Sybil and I never know what I’m going to get with him.

Our nights and mornings are filled with this lately. Yesterday, when I got to daycare to pick him up, literally SECONDS after his teacher told me, Lucky had a fantastic day! Lucky was screaming and yelling and crying and running away and throwing himself down into the dirt at the corner of the playground.

For what? No fucking clue.

He spent the rest of the night asking for screen time and playing with stuff that he knew he shouldn’t (seriously, plugs? What are you, freaking TWO?) and then flipping out when he was told it was dinnertime and then bathtime.

About the only time he was NOT like the exorcist kid was when we were quizzing him on how to write words.

So we have the worst of the terrible twos and awful threes, sprinkled with some literacy.

I GET it. It’s a tough time for him – he WANTS to grow up, but he’s scared, too, so he keeps going back and trying to be a baby, in between the push for independence.

But seriously, last night my nerves were so frayed, by the time Charlie brought him upstairs I kind of wanted people to get me and put me in a padded room.

At least it’s quiet in there.

The Kid Who Smelled Like Pee.

November 14, 2012 at 6:00 am | Posted in Battles (aka: toddlerhood), doctor, Fail (aka: Parenting Gaffes), NaBloPoMo, Parenting | 8 Comments

So as I alluded to a couple of posts ago, Lucky is still having trouble with daytime accidents. Mini-accidents, you understand, in varying degrees of wetness. Sometimes it’s small enough – a spot which soaks through to his pants, but small – which dries and he’s fine most of the day.

Some days he has bigger accidents, where he is very wet and it’s telling.

But I can tell you that since I’ve been keeping track at the end of July (when we started using daily miralax again), he has had a handful of days where he’s remained completely dry for the entire day.

The smell of pee permeates EVERYTHING. His diaper bag, which we still have to use because whenever we go somewhere we need extra clothes. His suitcase, because when we go away for a weekend we end up with a suitcase of pee-stained clothes. BOTH of his booster seats in each one of our cars. (I know, I can wash it, but it doesn’t seem worth it when you know your kid will just wet himself next week.) There were days this summer when I picked him up from daycare and had to keep the windows wide open on the way home, because he smelled EXACTLY like the worst parts of the New York City subway system. I have to run his laundry 2-3 times a week so he has enough pants/shorts for school.

And we have tried, quite literally, everything. Daily miralax. Sticker charts, with both a simple AND complex reward system. We’ve had him set the timer every 2 hours. We’ve forced him to sit on the potty. Bribed him to sit on the potty.

And when he’s wet, he knows exactly where the extra clothes are (either his diaper bag if we’re out of the house, or on top of the dryer if we’re in the house), wipes himself down, changes, and puts his wet clothes into the washer.

Right now, on the weekends, we are bribing him to sit every few hours by allowing him to use the iPhone for 5 minutes while he’s on the potty. It seems to be working, the past couple weeks, anyway.

The first week Charlie Brown traveled, Lucky had one day where he had two accidents at home, at night, after a full day of daycare. Normally I would’t get this angry, but both accidents came RIGHT after I asked Lucky to use the potty and he refused, telling me he didn’t have to go.

And when he was wet, the second time, and he refused to change himself so that I could have a “Mommy time out,” I lost it and yelled. I pointed out, not very nicely, that he was wet. Which meant he needed to use the bathroom and was refusing to listen to his body, and really, it wasn’t THAT HARD – JUST GO PEE ON THE POTTY ALREADY AND PLEASE STOP GOING IN YOUR PANTS!

His answer? I DIDN’T KNOW I HAD TO GO!

And, completely exasperated, I told him I didn’t know what to do anymore to help him stay dry, and that I think we needed to take him to a special doctor because we couldn’t do this anymore.

And, OMG, just saying that made me wince. My own baggage, you see. Because when I was in 4th grade, my mother was convinced I was “sick in the head” and needed to see a special doctor to fix what was wrong in my head.

Saying those words was sobering, and brought me, nearly immediately out of my anger. And somehow, we made it better, and when the night was over, I thought, Ok, Serenity, you REALLY need to chill with this pee stuff. Seriously.

The next morning – literally first thing – he came downstairs, and asked me: Mommy, are we going to go to a special doctor?

Bleary without my coffee, I didn’t understand why he was asking that. Then it struck me: OH! THAT special doctor!

And I asked him if he wanted to go.

He said, sadly, quietly: I want to go see a special doctor right now.

He was wet, you see. Another accident.

And that was when I realized that he was just as frustrated as we were. And I made the decision that we needed to act. Because if my kid is telling me that he wants to go see a doctor because of his accidents, it’s time for me to move and make an appointment. So I called his pediatrician, and asked to be referred to a pediatric urologist.

Our appointment with a pediatric urologist at one of the Boston hospitals is on January 28.

I have done enough googling. What I think is that he is a chronic urine holder. And because he does that, his bladder has lost the sensation of having to pee. But because he waits until his body tells him to use the bathroom, his bladder has spasms, thus the wet underwear.

That’s what I think. But I also think it’s worth seeing a specialist, because at the very LEAST he can give us strategies to help Lucky use the bathroom more. Maybe there’s a bigger problem which I don’t know about (you know, because Dr. Google isn’t a real degree), and we can get a plan to fix it.

And maybe hearing from a DOCTOR that he needs to try and use the bathroom more often, even when he feels like he doesn’t need to go, Lucky will feel less resistant to going to the bathroom.

I just feel like it’s NOT normal for a nearly five year old (who trained late, btw, Lucky was 3.5 when he potty trained) to have small accidents during the course of the day. And I’d really like to get a handle on it now, before he starts kindergarten. Because even though he might not care about it now, we live in a really small town and I’d kind of like to avoid Lucky getting the label of The Kid Who Smelled Like Pee.

Here’s hoping.

Resolution.

November 9, 2012 at 10:38 am | Posted in NaBloPoMo, Parenting, Stuck with You (aka: Family) | 9 Comments

The whole issue with my mother boiled down to two points for me.

First, I lived through a time when my aunt Judy and my mother did not talk. They had a huge falling out when my grandmother died in fifth grade. When I was in middle school, or maybe early in high school, they mended their relationship after my grandfather arrested – twice – on the table during a routine angioplasty (he had a heart attack and a triple bypass when he was 45, long before I was born). They brought him back, but it was a scary day for everyone. When my grandfather woke up, he told my mom and aunt that he didn’t want to die before he saw them make up.

The only time my aunt spoke harshly to me, in my whole life, was the day after she and my mom fought. I rode my bike to her house, hoping somehow that *I* could fix something by telling her how much I loved her. She told me that the fight was between she and my mother, and that she loved me, but that I needed to go home.

It was awful for us kids in those years, listening to my mother’s anger at her sister, the uncomfortable silence whenever she ran into her in town (because, yes, we all lived in the same town. Whee!).

I don’t want to do that to my father, my siblings, my niece or nephew, or my aunts and uncles. There is nothing to be gained by it, in my opinion. And not fair to any of them.

Over a phone call. Seriously. Not worth it.

Secondly, Lucky talks about his grandparents with such innocence. And love. He doesn’t KNOW that his Gram was a bad mom to me. And restricting his access to his grandparents because I have a beef with the way I was raised doesn’t seem like the right choice to me. He should have the freedom to develop a relationship with his grandparents as organically as he can (not completely, of course, given our proximity issues).

One of my biggest driving influences in my parenting is fostering openmindedness. I want Lucky to grow up understanding that not everyone is like him, and that’s okay.

Which means I have to LIVE it, too.

The fact is this. My mother hurt me – often and deeply – when I was a child. That hurt is still with me today. I have work to do to come to terms with the hurt my mother – and father – inflicted on me, yes. But I have a good therapist, and I think over time I’ll be able to work through it. And so all I can do is accept that she is who she is, and work through my shit on my own.

And yes, my mother DID call me yesterday. And she opened up the conversation with, I am sorry you’ve had to deal with as much as me in the past couple of weeks.

But I expected it, and I asked her questions about her surgery and healing. And I made her feel important, which made her open up more.

And when she mentioned my D&E again, how sorry she was about it, later on in the conversation, I found I really didn’t want to talk to her about it. I gave her the facts, asked her about her reactions to medications (and yes, I think I’ve figured out that my sickness is related to the narcotics – pain meds – not anesthesia. Seems we share that trait.), but didn’t go into detail, only that we aren’t sure what’s next and we might be done with family building.

It felt awkward, for ME, to talk about our issues. I didn’t want to.

When I got off the phone, I realized I can have a relationship with her. Because I don’t really want her to focus on me, or ask about personal things. It’s probably because she hurt me so badly years ago that I don’t want to be vulnerable around her – fearing she’ll hurt me again.

I can have a relationship with her that’s centered around her grandson and her medical issues, I think. And Charlie and I want to travel more with Lucky anyway, so visiting them in Texas shouldn’t be a huge deal, really.

When I got off the phone, I felt relieved.

Finally, maybe I can put the suck of the last few weeks behind me.

Mixed.

November 7, 2012 at 10:54 am | Posted in And I ran (I ran so far away), NaBloPoMo, Parenting, politics | 4 Comments

I couldn’t go on CNN yesterday, or turn on the news, or spend time on Facebook yesterday. So this morning, when I picked up my phone and saw the CNN alert that told me that President Obama had been re-elected, I had a sense of relief.

I didn’t hate Romney, nor do I judge people for voting the way they want to.

But I have heard the haters for YEARS now. One of the guys I worked with, the day after Obama was elected, started talking trash about him. I have some very conservative and politically active “friends” on Facebook. My parents are bigots AND conservative: When I was in college, my father told me at Thanksgiving I could bring anyone home with me – except for a woman or a black man.

(And no, I’m not kidding.)

Because of how I was raised – under my parents’ control – I have always gone outside and made my own choices. One of the most important tenets of my belief system is openness.

Being open to new experiences, new foods, new people, new ideas is SO important to me.

My biggest fear with this election was that the haters would win. It could be so easy to be influenced by the haters; to buy into the fear and paranoia, to fall into line because they screamed so loudly. Watching how people could awful, nasty things to each other on FB, to profess their opinion without any regard for the fact that other people might feel differently, and, you know, that’s OKAY… man.

It was really hard to watch. And I worried, yesterday, that the hate would win out, and that scares me more than anything.

So this morning, seeing that we re-elected President Obama – a man the haters have attacked from DAY ONE – gives me a lot of relief. Because it means that not everyone listens to the haters like I feared they might.

So, I’m feeling better. About the state of politics, anyway.

________________

Charlie Brown got to be home for two weeks in a row as of last week; Sandy messed with his travel plans so he worked from home last week. It was wonderful to have him home, and on Sunday night I really didn’t want to say goodbye to him.

Lucky is having a hard time this week with his Daddy being back in Ohio. Every morning he’s asked me if Daddy was home. And last night, it took him nearly an hour to fall asleep, where 45 minutes in, I told him he NEEDED to go to sleep because it was late, and he responded: I want my Daddy. I want to tell him I love him. I want him to kiss and hug me and tell me he loves me.

Even though we’ve Skyped every night, it’s not enough.

Charlie will be home late Thursday night, so thankfully we’re on the upswing. But it’s been a tough week missing him, too.

________________

I decided yesterday to stop at the polls to vote at the end of a 3 mile run. I’ve been trying to get back into running these past couple of weeks, with mixed results. My ankle has been painful – not awful, but achy – and I end up having to adjust my foot strikes to avoid the pain/weakness – doing a lot more heel striking.

Which has wreaked havoc on my IT Band – I’ve had a flare up of tendinitis, too.

Neither is BAD, per se. Manageable pain. Not enough that I need to stop running. But enough to make my runs a mental battle.

Yesterday I strapped on my shoes and went out, fully expecting a battle.

And there wasn’t one. I felt light and strong. And so I ran, and I was able to quiet the voices and appreciate my breath, and my legs, and my body, and how fortunate I was to live in a place where I get to participate in the leadership process. And I finished my third mile RIGHT in front of town hall, where I went in and voted.

I needed that run more than I can say.

It’s Complicated.

October 2, 2012 at 9:34 am | Posted in Cheese with that whine? (aka rants), Crazy Talk (aka: Therapy), My life, Parenting | 15 Comments

My relationship with my mother is…

… well. Complicated.

There’s a closet inside me somewhere which is stuffed to the brim with the baggage of 36+ years from our relationship. I go through periods where I’m mostly okay with the injuries she knowingly AND unknowingly inflicted on me over the years.

There are periods where I wish she and my father lived close by, because they’re amazing grandparents and Lucky really seems to dig them.

There are other periods where I feel as if it would be so much easier to just sever ties.

Since my parents moved to Texas, we’ve seen them only once a year. Maybe twice, if there’s some family event.

And my mother has taken to making lame excuses as to why she can’t travel. For the past couple of years, it was her “allergies” (which, honestly, as a mother of a kid with life-threatening allergies? Her food sensitivities that she takes to the Nth degree piss the everloving shit out of me. Shut up about your alleged “allergies” already). That’s been remedied, apparently – she has been eating more foods on her 3 page list of “unallowables” and, holy cow – it doesn’t seem to be bothering her anymore! Wow!

She mentioned that she might not be able to make my cousin’s wedding this past June, because she’s not a good traveler anymore, her allergies make it awful. And when I got mad, and told her she was being ridiculous, she and my dad drove to DC (with a huge cooler AND a microwave in the back of the car, because she didn’t know what she’d eat otherwise). But she was there, and we got to spend an extra day with them, and Lucky LOVED it. I did too, actually.

This summer she actually told me that she’d LOVE to come to Massachusetts to visit, except there’s never a good time of year, because the Texas summers are so hot that 75 is “freezing” to her and she can’t possibly visit if it’s that cold.

So it’s becoming clear – if we want Lucky to have a relationship with his grandparents, it’s our responsibility to go see them.

Or meet up in Florida at Christmas, which we do every year at my grandparents’ condo.

That’s a given. We’ll all be in FL – Lucky will get to see them at Christmas.

Except.

My mother texted us kids this weekend that they’re not making it this year.

Why? She’s having surgery on her THUMB. Next week.

And apparently, she can’t possibly miss physical therapy for a week at Christmas.

Nevermind that my sister and BIL might have finalized my new nephew’s adoption come Christmas.

Nevermind that it’s his FIRST CHRISTMAS with our family, and maybe it’s, you know, IMPORTANT to establish a relationship with him.

Nevermind that Lucky hasn’t seen his grandparents since June, and every time we get together, it takes him some time to re-establish a relationship with them, because we don’t see them enough.

Nevermind that throughout my childhood and teenage years all I heard was how irresponsible I was, how I didn’t care about anyone but myself!

I’m sorry, who’s being selfish here?

When I texted back Why no Florida? my mother called me right away. I was too angry to speak with her, so I let it go to voicemail.

She wants to tell me in person why she can’t make it, of course. She wants me to call her back.

I can’t. I’m sick of her lame ass excuses for not making important family gatherings.

Right now, in this moment, I really don’t want to talk with her ever again.

I’m sick of her self-involvement – all she talks about it her ‘health issues’ anymore. I’m sick of her refusal to see the real reason for not traveling; she’s too afraid of being in a world where she has zero control. I’m sick of listening to her lame ass excuses for not being there for her grandson. I’m sick of her choosing herself over people who might actually NEED her – my new nephew being one of them.

I’m tired of all the years she made ME feel like I was the one who was wrong, who needed to change, when it’s HER issues.

She made me feel so awful for so many years. And I’m just starting to see – it was HER.

Not me. HER.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do about it. Even writing this out, I have the sense that I’m being irrational and overreacting. I mean, it’s just a visit to Florida. What’s the big deal, really?

But I’m so SICK of her excuses. So tired of seeing her selfishness in action. I want to scream at her, punch her, make her realize that it was HER issues that made me feel so fucking bad about myself.

Clearly I’m angry at her for something OTHER than her inability to travel right now. I’m angry at her for all the years I suffered, thinking I wasn’t good enough. I’m angry that she’s so self-focused, she’ll never SEE that.

Charlie tells me not to do anything rash, to remember that she’s my mother and even though I’m so angry I actually HATE her right now, it means I love her, too.

What I DO know is that I cannot pick up the phone and call her until the worst of this anger has passed. It won’t be good for anyone.

And in the meantime, I keep reminding myself this.

She’s human.

She’s flawed.

So. Yeah. It’s complicated.

Meet Lucky’s Favorite Things.

July 30, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Posted in Cult of Personality, Mensa (aka: my kid's brilliant, Parenting, Pictures (aka: my cute kid.) | 7 Comments

Meet Crying Bear.

I know you’ve heard a lot about him, but I’m not sure I’ve actually introduced you all to him.

Crying Bear is allergic to eggs, and cashews, and pistachios, and almonds. He’s Lucky’s baby – always cries “Mang! Mang!” and doesn’t have any words.

He always volunteers to go first whenever Lucky is worried – at the pediatrician, the allergist, the dentist. He’s really good with getting shots, patient. He cries, of course – after all, his name is Crying Bear! – but he holds still and waits for Lucky to give him another shot.

Crying Bear is essential when it comes time for sleeping, and he often needs hugs and nose rubs.

(Cutest thing EVER – Lucky rubbing Bear on his face and saying, I wuv you, Bear.)

When Bear dances? He does the Robot.

This weekend, Crying Bear was naughty. I came into the room to hear Lucky say to Bear, holding him in the crook of his arm, Bear, I love you so much, but I need you to stop yelling. It’s hurting my ears. If you yell again, I will have to put you into a Time Out.

Crying Bear did, in fact, yell again, and I was asked to set Mr. Timer so that Bear knew when his Time Out was over.

And Lucky sat with Bear the whole time, on the stairs, to keep him company. Because, Bear might be lonely in his Time Out, and Lucky didn’t want him to cry.

___________________________

This is Spoochy.

Spoochy came to us when we were on the Big Boat this past Christmas – a celebration for the day that Lucky kept his underwear dry.

Spoochy speaks in dolphin (which is sort of amazing, Lucky actually manages a very realistic dolphin sonar sound. NO idea where he got it, but it’s perfect).

He can eat ANYFING because he has no allergies to eggs or tree nuts. His favorite meal is fish, but he also loves pancakes and pasta and pizza.

He’s always the first in the morning to use the bathroom, even before Lucky will go.

Spoochy is sometimes Crying Bear’s best friend. Sometimes he’s Crying Bear’s Daddy. Sometimes he’s just Spoochy, Mommy.

Spoochy goes along with us whenever Crying Bear needs a nap (and because he’s a baby, Bear naps a lot). Spoochy is always excited to do something new, he’s never scared about anything, and he LOVES meeting new people.

Even though Spoochy doesn’t have any allergies, he was the one who went to the Emergency Room with us back in April. Once Lucky was feeling better, he made me walk around his bed and teach him what everything was used for. Spoochy now is keen on having his blood pressure taken. He doesn’t mind getting shots, but he doesn’t like having stickers on his heart. Who can blame him? I wouldn’t like that either.

Spoochy recently had some surgery – when we were on our family camping trip, some of his seams started unravelling, and I became his hero because I sewed him up. We didn’t have any extra band aids, but it was okay because he wasn’t bleeding. And he’s much better now!

When Spoochy dances? He stands on his tail and moves back and forth, like he was juggling a beach ball.

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This is John Lobster.

He just joined our family this weekend, after a trip to LL Bean in Maine. He’s red, which is Lucky’s favorite color in the whole world.

John Lobster has pinchers, which he uses on bad guys who have shooters who shoot people in the face.But. He doesn’t use the pinchers on friends; actually he loves Crying Bear and Spoochy, and they’re all best friends now. Crying Bear and John Lobster like to hug each other and jump up and down together.

John Lobster loves the planet Jupiter, which is Lucky’s favorite planet too. (Spoochy? Loves Earth, because There’s no water in space, Mommy. Spoochy lives in the water!)

John Lobster doesn’t like dancing with Bear and Spoochy. Instead, he eats pizza and watches.

But we have to be careful, because John Lobster is allergic to eggs and cashews just like Bear and Lucky. But he can’t seem to stop eating them, though – he’s been to the hospital Sixty Ninety times! because he can’t stop eating stuff that makes him need shots.

(He must really, really like shots, because he doesn’t even use his pinchers on the doctors or nurses.)

_________________

When Lucky took to Crying Bear when he was an infant, I don’t really KNOW what our life would be like more than 4 years later. He could have grown out of them just as quickly as he fell in love with them, right?

But he hasn’t. They’ve turned into some of his best friends.

And it’s just so amazing to see.

I love that he has a Crying Bear and a Spoochy and a John Lobster, with names that HE chose for them.

I love that he loves them like they’re his closest friends. I love that he takes care of them, that he needs hugs from them whenever he needs some comfort. I love that he sleeps with them and excitedly tells them about the fun adventure they’ll have in the washing machine! – whenever they need to be washed.

I love seeing how sweet he can be with his stuffed friends.

I love that he’s figuring out rules as well by making sure his stuffed animals follow our rules (i.e. no yelling). I love seeing that his first reaction was to give Bear a warning about how loud he was being, and telling him that he was going to give him another chance.

I love that he’s absorbing our parenting, where we have spent so much time over the past four years treating him respectfully, even when he’s acting like a complete caveman crazy neanderthal insane psychomaniac.

I love that he has a safe place at home with animals who love him no matter what might happens at school – especially right now when all his classmates are figuring out interpersonal dynamics. I love that he has a buffer at home against the “You’re NOT my best friend anymore!” at school.

And I know this: I will miss his friends whenever he grows up enough where he doesn’t need them anymore.

I just hope it’s not anytime soon.

The Scare of My Life.

April 16, 2012 at 8:32 am | Posted in allergies, doctor, motherhood, Parenting | 25 Comments

We were on my neighbor’s porch last night after Lucky’s dinner, having drinks with them. Lucky was blowing bubbles and gathering sticks, and we enjoyed the nice feels-like-summer night.

I watched when Lucky casually popped a cashew in his mouth.

You do that when you have a kid who’s allergic to eggs: you watch what he eats at other people’s house and mentally run through a quick checklist. Has he eaten that before? Any egg in it?

No, but peanuts are okay. No egg. Fine.

Two minutes later, when he climbs into my lap, quiet, I think okay, bedtime. He’s tired. I stand up to carry him home.

And then he gets sick.

It was quick, and just a little bit. And my radar goes up. Shit, I think, what did he eat?

Nothing he hasn’t eaten before. Except the cashew.

By the time I get to our house, he is trying to sniffle though a completely stuffed up nose. And I’m alarmed, but I think well, maybe when he got sick some went into his sinuses and it’s clogging him up. I ask him to take a deep breath, and he can, and I think, Ok, he’s breathing fine.

So I take off the pukey shirt and start the bath, and he’s laying down on the mat in front of the tub and crying. He says, I can’t HEAR from my ears!

And I see the hives running down his arm. I think: he needs benadryl. So I rummage through the upstairs cabinet. Tylenol, advil, claritin. No benadryl.

I find it downstairs. And I pour a teaspoon and a half into the cup, and go upstairs and have him drink it, telling him it’ll help him breathe better.

And he takes it, but he’s crying. And now I’m terrified now, inside. Something is VERY wrong.

I ask him to breathe deeply again, and he can, no issue.

WTF do I do?

Internal alarms are jangling. I haven’t been this scared EVER. But he’s breathing. That’s okay, right?

I call my best friend, the one with the host of food allergies, the one I KNOW will tell me what’s what. The one who recently had an ER visit because of cross contaminated broccoli. I whisper, answer, answer, answer as I hear the phone ring. She answers, and I tell her that Lucky ate a cashew and he threw up and he’s really stuffy and there are hives, and I needed her to tell me if I needed to take him to the hospital.

She tells me, call his doctor now. And so I do. It’s Sunday night, so the pediatrician’s office is closed. So I have to give a message to the call service, which I do. I tell Lucky that I called the doctor, and she was going to call me back and tell me what to do.

Lucky is crying, I want to go to the doctor! And his voice is all garbled, and now I’m really scared.

I call Charlie, who is still on our neighbor’s porch, and I tell him to come home now, that Lucky was having a bad reaction and I thought we might have to take him to the ER. And in the meantime, my best friend texts me that if I had any questions, I should use the epi pen. That it won’t hurt Lucky if he doesn’t need it.

And I’m thinking, where’s our epi pen?

And my stomach sinks. We’ve had an epi pen for years, ever since he was diagnosed with his egg allergy at 15 months. I had recently gotten rid of it, though, in anticipation of getting an updated one. THIS PAST WEEK I went to refill it, and they told me that it was going to cost $341 on the new insurance. And that day, I told them to hold off on filling it. Because, you know, his egg allergy wasn’t bad enough that we’ve ever needed it before.

While I’m thinking this, the phone rings – it’s the doctor’s office. I tell her the same thing I told my best friend, and she asks me, You have an epi pen, right? And I tell her I don’t. And she tells me to get off the phone and call 911.

Fuck.

Charlie’s there, all of a sudden, and we’re getting Lucky out of the bath, who is crying and crying, and tell him we’re going to go see a doctor. We get him into his pajamas, go downstairs, put on our shoes, and get in the car. There’s a hospital with an ER a mile from our house – we’re going there. I make Charlie sit in the back with Lucky, who has gone quiet now. It’s terrifying me, his quiet, and I look back and make him talk to me, even through the garbled.

I get stuck behind a guy going 30 on the way there, and I want to ram him. I’m so scared my kid’s throat is closing, and he’s going to suffocate right there in the car, while I’m stuck behind some idiot on a Sunday night who won’t even do the speed limit, the jackass.

Charlie says, calm down. It’s okay. Everything is okay.

Everything is NOT okay. My kid is really, really sick.

I carry him into the ER with me, snot everywhere, telling him that we were at the hospital and we’d make him feel better soon. Under the flourescent lights inside, I can see that Lucky has hives all over his face, too, and he looks a little swollen.

And the receptionist takes my ID and Lucky’s insurance card and then calls back, There’s a four year old who’s having a pretty bad allergic reaction. Can you come get him? And a nurse appears, and takes us back. And I sit on the bed with Lucky in my lap, and five people appear.

There are nurses and doctors and an EMT and a resident. The come with needles for an IV port and I’m closing my eyes as Lucky screams, holding him, telling him it’s going to be okay, the doctors are going to help him. And the people swarm around, doing whatever they’re doing.

And I say to the doctor, I didn’t have the epi pen. He’s never reacted like this to eggs.

They put a port into his arm, in the crook of his right elbow. They take his pulse and his blood oxygen levels and they give him the epi medicine through the port in his arm. And Lucky screams, It’s going into my arm!! And the nurse gives him another shot in his left arm – what, I’m not certain. But I don’t really care – they know what they’re doing and I don’t care what they have to do as long as they make him better.

Things settle down. The people leave. Charlie goes to do paperwork, and it’s just Lucky on my lap and me. He’s facing out, and I’m rocking him, wrapped in my arms, whispering that I’m here. And we just sit there, and I can feel his breathing even out. And he’s not as garbled sounding breathing, and he’s relaxing in my arms. The medicines are working.

Shortly, a nurse comes in and gives us another medicine – this time a steroid, she says, to help with inflammation.

And I’m so damn thankful that we live so close to the hospital, the dinky ER which, when we talked about it, we’d likely never really use, except for real emergencies.

___________________________

All in all, we were at the hospital last night for an hour and a half. We got back to the house a little after 9, and Lucky was asleep within minutes. We had to check on him every two hours last night. Every time I went into his room, he was sound asleep, breathing steady.

And this morning, he’s completely fine.

I talked to my best friend last night, who I knew would be worried. And she told me that peanuts and cashews are not the same thing – cashews are tree nuts, where peanuts are ground nuts, more like legumes.

After Lucky was asleep, Charlie and I drank a bottle of wine. And we wondered. Has Lucky had mixed nuts before? He eats peanut butter every day, since the allergist tested him for it when the egg allergy came back. He’s had cereal with almonds in it.

So today I owe a call to his allergist. I want him tested for all tree nuts now.

And $350 or not, we’ll get his epi pen. And will make sure it’s always with us.

Not the way I wanted to learn my kid’s allergic to cashews, that’s for sure.

Thank god he’s okay.

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