On Mother’s Day

When my grandma was dying from stroke-related causes, she was inconsolable at night. A few days after my grandfather died in the nursing home room they shared, my parents moved her home; her new resting place a hospital bed in the room that had been my gradnfather’s for years after his own stroke had severely disabled him. 

As my husband and I lay upstairs one night after my grandfather died, I could hear her cries for help and sobs. My mom had spent hours with her mother, consoling her, calming her down, but it was the middle of the night and she needed to sleep. So I took a turn. I crept down the stairs and opened the door. “Nanny,” I said. “It’s okay.” 

“Help me!” she cried, “Help!” 

“Would you like me to read to you?” I asked. A Bible was laying next to her bed. I picked it up and somehow ended up in Revelation, hoping to find something in those words to comfort her. I ended up skipping entire chapters. Revelation is not a comforting book. 

“Let’s sing some songs,” I told her. 

Amazing Grace. Jesus Loves Me. What a Friend We Have in Jesus. 

It’s amazing how entire verses were stored in my memory. I sang and sang as she quieted down. She was comforted. 

Hours went by. I sang. I stopped, and tried reading again from the Bible. I couldn’t read anything out loud without crying, not even from the Gospels. This is the book she read faithfully. This book – the reason she tithed and volunteered at church, despite her husband’s apathy to religion. Even with her faith in this book, she wasn’t sparred a devastating end to her life. 

So I sang some more. She quieted down enough to sleep, however restless, and I went back to sleep. 

A few months later, my mom called me with the news that Nanny had passed away in her sleep with her son and daughter at her side. As devastated as I was by the news,  I could not imagine a better way to die: in your sleep, surrounded by your children in your own home. 

It should have been no surprise that when I had my first son, I sang these familiar, comforting songs at bedtime, songs I knew the words to, songs that meant something to me and my family history: Jesus Loves Me, Amazing Grace, What a Friend We Have on Jesus. 

There are still days that I don’t believe any of it, that a loving God would not have allowed my grandmother to suffer the way she did. By I am certain of this: when I die, I hope I am with my children and grandchildren and that they are singing to me. 

When You Can’t Blame PPD Anymore

Post-no-more-baby blues. Tired Mom syndrome. Tired working Mom sydrome. There is nothing else to call it. It’s depression. 

I don’t know why I’ve been saddled with this mental illness that is only treated with medicine. No amount of food elimination diets, yoga, exercise, prayer, or meditation will make it go away. 

I forgot to take my medicine two days in a row and today I cried while putting beans on my chips. Haystacks should not make me cry. Nothing made me cry except my brain chemistry and the fact that I forgot to take my medicine two days in a row. 

In my last post, I mentioned that I broke up with Facebook. This week I deactivated my account. I feel free. I also have missed out on wedding pictures from a wedding I was not invited to, pictures that make me jealous for illogical reasons, and political rants from both sides. 

My Facebook breakup is real and final. I’m reaching out to the people around me to connect in person and catch up IRL or virtually. But now virtually means texting, emailing, chatting online, and a shared iPhoto album. 

My husband and I are going to Kauai on Sunday without our kids. My sister-in-law is due any day with her first child and I am guilt ridden because my in-laws are staying at our house to watch the boys and a variety of complications make it almost impossible for them to leave when the baby arrives while we are away. 

But I am putting my guilt aside. I am choosing to focus on me, my husband, and do a lot of self care in Hawaii, including drinking coffee and reading the newspaper while my coffee is still hot, reading and listening to lots of books, listening to podcasts, lying on the beach, swimming in the pool, watching sunrises and sunsets, taking lots of naps, maybe learning to snorkel, and eating lots of fish and fresh tropical fruit. 

And I’m going to remember to take my medicine. 

Just Be

Right now, on my coffee table, there is a wooden spoon, a soft toy football, a Playmobil rope and finger monsters, all waiting to either be played with or put away. 

But I’m snuggled under a blanket, about to settle in for the season finale of Younger and the last thing I want to do is clean. 

Yesterday marked day four of constant family togetherness due to “snow” days, only the first of which actually merited the cancellation of school and work. Turns out I go slightly nuts after so much family togetherness and I was delighted to spend today at work combing through court dockets and researching a very specific area of law. It was good to use that part of my brain. 

The spouse took Future President to a birthday party yesterday afternoon and I stayed home with the baby so he could nap before an early family Christmas party. His naps have been erratic lately and I’m hoping and praying this isn’t the beginning of the end of naps for him. 

So while he napped, I did nothing. It was amazing. I didn’t know how much I needed the silence until I sat down on the couch and heard nothing. 

It turns out I needed those four days with my two kids more than they did. They loved their uninterrupted time with me, and while I enjoyed some of it, I am exhausted after hours of moving between trains and cars and Legos and playing “dog” and breaking up fights. I am cut out for two kids, that’s it. After four days of yelling “stop hitting your brother!” and “share!” and “no, you can’t have more candy,” I am feeling very confident that our family is complete. 

Yes, I am sad. But tonight as I packed up baby shoes and baby toys to give away, I felt a growing sense of relief. 

There will always be babies to hold and babies to babysit. There will always be the memories and photos of my own children as babies. And as I tried to stop the baby from throwing a DUPLO at his brother, I thought, will I miss this when they’re grown? 

Time will tell. 

Folding the 2T Clothes

I scheduled my hysterectomy today. 

Those are not words I ever thought I would say, at least not in my late 30s, and yet here I am, in extreme pain daily, fighting to hold it together at work and at home and taking more OTC pain medicine than is probably healthy. 

In two months I will no longer be able to have children, which has been our decision for a while, but the thought that this decision is being taken away from me permanently makes me ache in a way I never thought possible. 

No more babies. My head knows it’s the right decision but my heart is breaking in two. 

Tonight as I was folding clothes, I added the 2T pajamas to the baby’s stack, realizing that the next time he wears those particular pjs would likely be the last. His little belly hangs out a little and the arms are too short. They belong in the giveaway pile already but the finality of the 2T pajamas going to another baby, a baby that isn’t mine, is too much to bear right now. 

A Place at the Table

A few weeks ago on a random Sunday, for no reason at all, instead of making food for the kids, serving it at the island and then eating while standing while the kids sat in bar stools, I decided to make supper and actually eat it together at our dining room table. 

Somehow it had never dawned on me to eat at the dining room table when it was just the four of us. Since moving into our home over a year ago, we’ve only eaten at the dining room table a handful of times and only with guests. 

Granted, the baby’s chair is attached to a bar stool and the kids are usually hungry before we are, so most of the time it makes sense to feed them, and then when they’re finished, G and I eat while they play. 

But now I wonder how we let the good old-fashioned family meal disappear from our lives after having kids. Five years in, there was certainly something magical about all four of us sitting at the table at the same time, eating the same food without any distractions. We actually talked and laughed and even though there was cottage cheese on the tablecloth and the floor by the time dinner was over, I didn’t really mind. 

When I stand at the kitchen counter eating, I don’t enjoy my food and usually it gets cold because I’m distracted by other things like the dishes or a spilled drink or the baby hitting his brother with a serving utensil. But when I’m at the table, the kitchen is too far away to do chores while I eat. 

I know this isn’t revolutionary for most people, but sitting down together for a meal was such a refreshing few moments for my family. 

So we did it again the next week. Hey, look at us, bringing the Sunday family dinner back in style. 

Sure!

You know that feeling when your kid does something cute and you know for sure that you’re going to remember it later and write it down and then you completely forget it? Yeah, that happens to me all the time. I almost wish there was a permanent video recording of my kids so I could re-hear all the cute things they say, especially since as soon as I get out my phone to record something, they stop whatever cute thing they were doing and either run away or just stick out their tongues at me.

I want to capture on video the baby – who I still call a baby, even though he’s two – saying “Sure!” when he means yes. I think it’s just that he can’t say “yes” yet, but I really hope he doesn’t give it up when he does finally learn how to say yes. His other new “yes” synonym is “‘kay!”

“Do you need a diaper change,” I’ll ask him. “Sure!” he yells.
“Do you want a cookie?” I’ll say. “Sure!” he yells.
“Are you ready to go to Nanny’s house?” I ask. “Sure!” he yells.

I think you get the picture. And now that he has a word that sort of means yes in his vocabulary, he doesn’t say no to EVERY SINGLE QUESTION and this has been Life. Changing.

He thinks he can count and solemnly points at a row of cars and says, “Two, three, two, two, three.” It’s adorable.

My favorite part of the day is when I see my kids after 9 or 10 hours away from them. “Hi!” the two-year old screams. “Hi, Mommy!” He runs at full speed toward me yelling, “Hi! Hi!” The five-year old says it a little more calmly but he’s usually excitedly jumping or running at the same time, too. I just love that they love me.

And when it’s way past bedtime and they’re still awake and I just want to enjoy my Jingle Jangle ice cream from Trader Joe’s while fast forwarding through Project Runway to watch the runway show before I fall asleep on the couch, I try to remember that these times aren’t forever and faster than I know it, my beloved babies won’t even come out of their rooms to greet me after a long day.

 

 

I Found a Dollar in the Wash

You know that amazing feeling when you find a wad of cash in the dryer, all crumpled up and soft from surviving the laundry cycle?

That’s how I felt when I re-read a blog post I wrote in May.

I have another doctor’s appointment today, and I needed this reminder: You can’t do everything and that’s okay.

Here’s my post from May:

***

Another day, another doctor. That’s life with chronic pain. But today’s visit with a new doctor changed my life.

She can’t know how her words affected me, but after asking about my job and commute and family obligations, she said something so simple and so obvious: “you are burning the candle at both ends. You need to give yourself permission to not do everything.”

But I’m trying to lose weight and take care of my kids and do my job and spend time with my husband…

“I think you look good just the way you are.”

Mind blown.

Every time I go to a doctor’s appointment I wait for the lecture about my weight. And it’s never happened. But this doctor knew exactly what to say to make it click for me. It’s not about the numbers on the scale, but about how healthy I am both physically and mentally,  and I cannot expect myself to be healthy emotionally if I keep beating myself up over the numbers on the scale. I exercise. I eat healthfully, most of the time. I’m trying to make time for myself.

And I need to stop and acknowledge that I can’t do everything and that’s okay. Right now, I don’t read. I listen to podcasts and music on my long commute instead of books. And that’s okay. My house isn’t spotless and sometimes the boys have cereal for both breakfast and dinner. And that’s okay. I will never iron my clothes or organize my underwear drawer. And that’s okay.

Dinner can wait. Breathe in, breathe out. Rock your baby longer, smell the last hint of baby in his hair.

Dinner can wait. Breathe in, breathe out.

***

Thanks for reading Day 15 of NaBloPoMo! Halfway to the finish line!NaBloPoMo November 2016

Read other NaBloPoMo posts here:

Day 14: Eggnog Lattes for Lazy People
Day 13: Sunday is for Baking
Day 12: Chaos and Calm
Day 11: Choose Kindness
Day 10: Long Live Snail Mail
Day 9: The Day After
Day 8: The Sun Also Rises
Day 7: Election Day
Day 6: Daddy’s Boys
Day 5: I’ll Just Leave This Here
Day 4: 2016 Book Lovers’ Gift Guide
Day 3: Once Upon a Hong Kong Winter
Day 2: Parenting Hacks
Day 1: Created Equal