31 January 2007

Where I've Been

"Call me tonight, damn it". When you hear those words from one of your best friends, it may be a sign that maybe you've been a tad too reclusive. If only I had a dollar for each time in the past two weeks that one of my messages said something along the lines of "call me back, are you ok, why are you ignoring me, where have you been"?

Something odd happened a couple of weeks ago after Little A's doctor appointment. I slipped into a place where I could run on survival mode; I've been there before, so it wasn't as though I was completely lost. During one of her tests when Little A was sobbing and trying to battle against the restraints used to keep her still, the nurse looked at me and said, "Is there someone that I can get for you from the waiting room"? I've answered no to questions like that for two years now, but for some reason, when this "no" escaped my lips, so did a part of me. I've felt like I've been navigating through a bad dream, knowing that I needed to move, but unable to do it, perhaps paralyzed with the fear of what the tests could bring, or the great responsibility that I face alone each day.

Instead of a typical vacation, I went somewhere cloudy and quiet without any friends so that I could spend my time alone. I had all my luggage shipped ahead of me and it was unpacked when I got there. No one put chocolates on my pillows or offered me another margarita, or gave me directions to some place great to see. The beaches that I walked were cold and desolate, but I feel much better having walked them by myself. The best part of this journey was the travel home; a doctor stamped my passport with the words, "she's perfect" and sent me on my way. When I arrived home, my laundry was done and luggage tucked away. I wasn't even sure that I'd been gone until I got a postcard that I had sent to myself. It said, "Welcome Home".

15 January 2007

Days That I Hate You

Dear R,

For the most part, I've let you go.

I don't feel an overwhelming urge to sob uncontrollably anymore when you cross my mind with a casual wave and bright smile. One day along this path I've been walking, I quit hoping to see your face each time someone knocks on my door unexpectedly. I can look at Little A's toes sometimes (not each time, but sometimes) and not remember your feet in flip flops hanging over the side of a boat, your pale, Irish leg gently bumping against my tan one.

For the most part, you've become a part of my life that I acknowledge with a sad sigh and then carry on tying shoes or folding laundry or pretending that I'm remotely interested in the man sitting across from me. A few times, there have even been moments when I've laughed out loud remembering you and for a few seconds I forgot that you were gone and that I might not ever laugh that way again.

There are days, though, that I hate you. Today is one of them. In fact, every time that I've taken her to the doctor by myself, part of me has hated you. Each moment that I've sat crying in a various specialists office while they explained to me the further tests that needed to be done and blood that needed to be drawn and charts that needed to be kept, I've hated you. Sometimes when I think that you are living a life that doesn't involve your every happiness being tied to what a doctor is going to say about your daughter that day, I hate you.

I wish that I could tie you up, all of you--each memory and moment--and let you sail away like a balloon in the wind, until you're just a small dot on the horizon; a distant memory of a day spent with my kids. It would be a day that we let a balloon go and wondered amongst ourselves if we'd ever hear back from the person that found you, or if you'd land someplace where you couldn't be found. In this wish, you'd become a passing source of curiosity, but nothing that kept us up at night. Instead of remembering you specifically (it was blue, no it was red), we'd remember the way that the sun felt on our faces, the way that the breeze tossed our blonde hair across our fair faces, the way that our laughter sounded when it met and danced away with the wind that carried it. The girls would remember that we walked back to the car holding hands and that I kissed both of their foreheads before they got in. I would remember how they smelled when I kissed them.

I hate that I hated you today; that you'd even still matter enough to bother to hate. I hate that I wish that you'd been there, holding my hand, asking what you can do to make sure your daughter is healthy and telling me not to cry, that it would be alright. I hate that tonight when I lay down to sleep, I'll be wondering how you can exist not knowing if we are well, how you can curl up against someone else and plan to make a family with her someday, even though you left a perfectly good family behind.

Today was a day that I hated you, and I thought you should know why.


12 January 2007


Recently, a certain dictator met his fate and those final grainy moments were preserved and broadcasted to the entire world via the internet, with most of his final moments even broadcast on all of our news networks. I had a conversation with my mom on the reasons that this bothered me, my quite typical pauses with the death penalty being one of those. (If we, the civilized, are punishing the uncivilized with death, what then separates us from them? I told you--not original; quite typical). She replied, "He killed children". She knew that I had no argument beyond this.

My entire life, I had reservations with the death penalty, but once I became a mother, the death penalty sometimes seemed not enough of a punishment. I'm not the type that can watch coverage of the kidnapping and death of a child, think that it's sad, and never think of it again. I am the type that sobs when watching the media coverage of these events. I am the type that, seemingly against my own will, plays out what the last moments of their lives must have been like, how they surely cried out for their parents. "Turn off the news" is what my own mother has said to me countless times. It doesn't matter; I can't turn off my mind.

The man in Florida that kidnapped a sleeping child from her bed, held her captive, abused her in countless ways and then buried her alive while she clutched her stuffed animal and called out for her dad has the death penalty attached to his prosecution. To me, this is not justice. I don't believe that there is justice in these instances; but surely death by lethal injection doesn't meet my standards as a mother--the only thing that might is if there were some way to inflict upon him the horror of what that girl lived through. Abuse him. Lock him in a closet. Bury him alive.

I struggle with how these two different sides of me co-exist. When Big A started kindergarten, she never once turned back to look at me; she raced through that door, ready to face the world. As a parent, that is what I want most to give my kids: the sense of security and confidence that no matter what they face, they can endure and be strong and not have to worry about looking behind them. I'm also still the parent that nine times out of ten when I let Big A go to the mailbox alone first lectures her about safety and reviews the routine, then peers through the windows to be sure that she's safe. I want her to be fearless, and yet, I struggle not to instill fear in her. I want to shield her from the horrors of what exists outside our door and control, but I want her to also be wary, to protect herself. I want to teach her kindness and compassion to all, even strangers, but I want her to turn and run screaming from those who ask for her help.

Who are these two beings inside of me? How is it that the day that I became a mother--the most life-changing event in my life; the moment, that when it came to me, blinded me and took away my breath from the overwhelming love that I felt, was also the day that this other sword bearing vigilante inside of me was born?

I once read a proverb of an elderly grandmother telling her granchildren that inside of each of us there live two wolves. One represents anger, bitterness, hate, etc. and one represents love, compassion, kindness and such. A child asks her, "Which one lives"?, to which she responds, "The one that you feed". These lingering issues inside of me make me wonder which wolf is sleeping by my bed with a full stomach , and which is standing at the door, howling for his food.

10 January 2007

Customer Survey

I'm at the tail end of developing our customer post job survey, and unlike many aspects of my job, it actually got me thinking. What if I created a survey to let the A's assess my job as a mother?

(All answers to be circled using the purple crayon)

Did I hug you today? Yes/No/Too much/Too Little/Too Tight/Too Loose

I'd rate my lunch today as: Too many good things/Where were the pomegranate/I'm sick of peanutbutter/What's lunch? Is there such a thing as lunch if you eat all day?

Today you embarrassed me by: Making me braid my hair when everyone else gets to let theirs hang in their eyes/Kissing me in front of my friends/Calling me "Chunk" and squeezing my little chunkers in front of people while changing my diaper/Asking me about my "big fat belly"

Today's lesson that will not penetrate my head: The direct link between caring for a hamster and being a good human being/Why the reverse pivot is an essential basketball move/Dog food does not provide any essential nutrients for me/Shutting myself into the dark bathroom will always result in me being shut in a dark room

Today's complete waste of time was: Having to make my bed/Bath-time/The Hamster Speech/Trying to make me wear shoes/Cleaning up after us

Areas with room for improvement: Cooking/Cleaning/"Scary" voice used when reading/Making less direct eye contact with us while serving us our dinners

Things we tolerate because it's hard to find good help: Conversations trying to convince us that the sun doesn't rise and set on us/Your compulsion to squeeze my naked bootie before plopping me in the tub/The song "Mandy"/Macaroni and Cheese trying to be passed off as "tonight's pasta selection"

Thanks for your input.

07 January 2007

Why I Serve

A couple of the reasons why I don't mind my servitude:

I misplaced my cell phone and told Big A we'd just have to wait for it to ring until we found it. She responded, "Guess we're just sitting around waiting for Mr. Brightside" Mr. Brightside is my ring tone.

Little A wandered into one of my closets and found my underthings. Out of the entire collection, she chose the Wonderwoman ones to wrap around her neck and wear as a treasure.

Hail the Queens.

03 January 2007


The past month has brought with it not only tidings of comfort and joy, but also many germs and bugs and trips to various doctor's offices. We've all been on two rounds of different anti-biotics and symptomatic relievers. Yesterday I made yet another journey to the doctor and passed my time flipping through some magazines. I came across a "quiz" in one of them--"What does your nightstand say about you". I scanned it--I always find the quizzes amusing and worry that there may actually be people out there that take them to heart.

That evening when I finally made my way up to my bedroom and flipped on my light, my eyes went right to my bedstand, and I had to start laughing. It seemed to be screaming: "You haven't had sex in a very long time, and you may never again".

Contents of aforementioned stand:

My lamp
An appalling pile of wadded up tissues (completely inexcusable, I know)
Vicks Vapo Rub
Nasal Spray
Empty bottle of Tylenol
Wooden cigar box holding various fingernail utilities (file, polish, bobby pin?)
Children's Motrin
Picture of the A's
The Poetry and Short Works of Dorothy Parker (died alone, with her dog)
Bridget Jones Diary (dog-eared pages, possible margarita stains)
Study Bible
Vanity Fair magazine

Definitely not in the "Sexy Susan" category. I put away the meds and tossed the tissues; this morning I even put the books in my bookcase in my room. I figured I could use the exercise when I got out of bed tonight to retrieve them.

02 January 2007

The Long Goodbye

Before the A's, I had plenty of practice playing mother. I was the eldest of five, and a pretty popular babysitter for my large extended family. My most serious training began when, within a period of a year, I adopted three dogs. Each dog had their own sad tale of woe, which I wove into the tapestry of my heart, and then wrote new tales for them to remember.

They each had seats in the back of my cars, and knew the order in which they were to climb in. They love ice cream cones, particularly Simba, the husky/malamute mix. While Simba and Jesse would scarf down their treats, The Smoosh would slowly and methodically lick away, like a little kid, savoring the good stuff.

Simba and Jesse were, and always will be, partners in crime. Where there is one, the other is certainly near. They have their own dog beds; they just have to have theirs touching so that they can sleep.

The Smoosh sleeps with me or Big A, under the covers, curled up against us. She moves her nose up and down until a proper airhole is found, then she dozes off. This is her routine whether it's 32 or 102 degrees. She needs to be touching us, but I think that we also need her, which is why as I write this, my heart is breaking in a way that it never has. Each of these dogs is twelve years old, and the daily realization that they won't live forever is becoming almost too much to stand.

18 months ago, a vet told me that Smoosh had about 3 months to live, tops. She had removed another benign tumor from her liver, but said she was too old to go under again. She said that those type of tumors will grow back, and while benign, will eventually distrupt her liver functions to the point of failure. I sobbed so hard that day my eyes were literally swollen for the next two days.

Smoosh is still here, but this week, she's aged a year. The new lump on her liver protrudes like a softball. She is now completely deaf, so when I let her out in the back yard with the other two, I walk out to get her--she can't hear me call for her anymore. It must be so confusing for her to suddenly be unable to hear anything. Her eyes are old--cataracts have replaced the brightness, but I can still see the love in them. I hoist her up on the beds now, and help Simba with the stairs. Jesse appears to still be as healthy as a horse, and is the Queen Mother when I'm not around, sliding food dishes under Smoosh's nose and letting Simba lick her feet. Jessie went over to where the Smoosh was sleeping, and sniffed the tumor, and started whining. "Please stop" I thought. "Please stop, please stop" But she continued to do that for about a minute, and her and Smoosh stared at eachother, saying what needed to be said. Across the floor, Simba began whining. I sat on the couch and sobbed.

To convince myself that she was just feeling old and not beginning to die, I got Smoosh's favorite rubber duck and tossed it for her. She half-heartedly got up and retrieved it, but instead of giving it back to me, she took it to her bed and laid down on it. She looked at me and I at her for a full minute. She knows. She also knows that I know. And it's breaking her loyal little heart that she's going to be crushing mine very soon.

"You've given her such a good life, you should be proud," my mom tried to soothe me over the phone. That's how most would look at it: How I spoil those dogs, what I do for them, never taking into effect what they do for me. That everynight for the last twelve years, they had to sleep in the same room as me, or there would be soulful, heart wrenching whines until they could. That no matter what I look like or smell like, or if I'm feeling like a particularly ugly person that day, they still race to me, tails knocking over whatever lies in the path behind them. That they have loved me unconditionally, purely, without agenda for a dozen years now, and that the day that I have to face the world without one of them is not a day I can comprehend. They were my first children, I love them that much.

I've spent the last twelve years walking in the door and saying, "Hello, babies". Goodbye has never been a part of our vocabulary, but now it is busy searing itself into my heart, and each time I say "Hello" to my motley crew, I know that soon "goodbye" will move from the spot that it lives right now, pass my lips, and leave me undoubtedly sobbing over a small 30 pound being that has been one of the most loyal friends I've ever known.