Category Archives: Moms

Hey, Feel My Forehead. My Kid Is Sick.

Yep. This is me.

And I’m not even the one who is sick. I have one sick little boy from last week. Not this weekend. Not today. From last week! His stinkin’ fever won’t stay away and I’m spent.

I know, I know. It’s all about me, right? Well, it is. I suck at being a nurse. Truly. You don’t want to get sick with me around.

I’m squeamish. (I’ll take my temperature as soon as I take yours.)

I’m paranoid. (I Clorox and Lysol everything in sight. Three times a day. Really. My house is never cleaner than when someone is ill.)

And I’m impatient. (For you to get well, that is.)

But I have been keeping up with you all. Reading you on my phone – in the carpool line (Because kids don’t get sick at the same time in this house – oh, no. They spread it out over weeks and weeks.) – while cuddling (at a distance – and trust me, this is possible) on the couch watching SpongeBob and Phineas and Ferb – while cooking dinner or hiding in my closet. (Yes. I hide from my kids sometimes. Sue me.)

I’m a bit technologically challenged. So I can’t comment. Just know I’m reading you. And missing being here. And popping herbs like there’s no tomorrow so I don’t catch this crud.

Pray for me. I mean, my son.

 

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Filed under children, How We Roll, Moms, Motherhood, Uncategorized

To Flu Shot Or Not To Flu Shot – THAT is the Question

I go through this. Every. Single. Year.

To the point that my friends start hiding from me and won’t return my phone calls from October to January. This year, advertisements for the flu shots started popping up in August. I recognized my friend’s weary glances right away.

But you, dear readers, have never been exposed to my paranoia around this time of year. You are a fresh new audience.

Welcome.

First, let’s say I am cautious about vaccines. I get them. I have my children get them. But we spread them out. Way out. During my children’s first years of life, we were in the doctor’s office about every other month just getting vaccines. I appreciate the value of a vaccines but I don’t want to overwhelm a body’s delicate system.

There are some vaccines I skip. When the chicken pox vaccine first came out I let my daughter get those delightful, itchy spots the good old-fashioned way. But my boys? Too many people were getting the vaccine by then. I was risking that without the vaccine they may contract chicken pox in adulthood when it is far more dangerous. So they received the chicken pox vaccine.

Then comes H1N1. Oh. My. God. I had no friends during that time. Not during flu season, anyway. I bored them ad nauseum with facts. I deliberated. I asked strangers on the street what they thought.

Last year, my kids each got the first dose of the vaccine and then #1son had a horrible reaction. Or, so we thought. (Later, the CDC – or whatever lab they sent the results to – deemed that it was a coincidental reaction to something unknown) The kids never received the subsequent doses and we were fine last season.

Except for last year, we never get the vaccine. We’re a typical, healthy family who enjoy the typical amount of colds each season. I’d venture to say a little less than the typical amount.

But every single year I worry that I’ve made the wrong decision.

My husband, who practices Chinese Medicine, is absolutely no help at all. Chinese Medicine believes in letting the body build its own immunities. When we first had kids, he was adamantly against any vaccine. I was adamantly for. We battled. It came to such a head that I planned on sneaking the kids to the doctor and never telling him. Luckily, we came to an agreement we both could live with after a wonderful talk with our amazing Western Medicine pediatrician who values my husband’s expertise.

But during flu season? He’s no help. He laughs at me whenever I ask a question, reminding me of what he thinks of the flu shot industry. Every time we pass a sign advertising flu shots (at a drug store, grocery store, the library, in the airport – God, they’re everywhere!) he gives me a sideways glance, just waiting for my barrage of questions.

In an advertisement for flu shots on the radio this morning they reminded all of us fearful listeners out there that the CDC has recommended that everyone should receive the flu shot this season.

Everyone.

Is this advertising? Is this a twist of a study just to create fear and make money for the store/pharmaceutical companies? Or should every typically healthy person out there get the flu shot?

I hate this time of year.

Hate it.

And I know what I’ll do. I’ll choose to skip the vaccine for all of us. And then sit on pins and needles until spring, worrying that I made the wrong decision.

Sigh.

So I’ll just take this opportunity to say goodbye to all my dear friends here in the real world. See you next spring.

Blog friends?

Anyone?

Will you keep me company until then?

35 Comments

Filed under All In A Day's Work, children, Moms, Motherhood, parenting, Ponderings

Selective Memory – Crazy or Coping Mechanism?

I have selective memory. It drives my husband crazy. It drives me crazy sometimes.

For example…

This past Mother’s Day was wonderful. One of the best ever. And my husband was an absolute angel, treated me like a queen. When my sister asked me how my Mother’s Day was, I told her it was fantastic.

I asked her how her’s was. Less than fantastic. In fact, it was horrible and it all started on Saturday night when her husband….

Oops. Wait. I remember now. Mine wasn’t so hot. Well, it was, but it didn’t start out that way.

(Let’s play a little Mad Libs, shall we?)

You see, on Saturday, my husband decided to (insert activity) even though I asked him not to. It was something he does (time reference) and I usually have no problem with it. In fact, I never have a problem with it. But it was Mother’s Day weekend and it was sure to (verb) with Sunday. He did it anyway. So at (insert time of day) when he decided to (insert activity) and it (past tense verb) me, I was more than ticked. Mother’s Day started off with a (adjective.)

But the rest of the day was great. Fantastic. Magical, even.

My Pollyanna brain chooses to focus on the magical and forget the awful 24 hours preceeding Mother’s Day. Simple as that. It keeps me sane.

But there is something about my selective memory that really bother me. It eats away at me. It’s a nagging thorn in my parenting manual. What about my childhood memories of my mother?

I try. I really, really try, to remember the positive. You’d think, with my Pollyanna approach, the positive would be all I’d remember. But I can’t. I have fuzzy images of her smiling or laughing – but it either feels forced or it’s in a large group and she’s putting on her show.

There are pictures of her reading to us. But the only memory I have of her reading to me involves us cuddled together on an oversized chair while she lets me have sips of her White Russian (at age 5).

By the time I was a teenager I had learned the art of manipulation. My mother is a shopper. And when you’re in her good graces, she buys you stuff. Lots of stuff. And my parents had the money to buy us lots and lots of stuff. I remember a few shopping trips with me finagling some pretty pricey items (leather jacket, designer jeans, cashmere sweater, jewelry) because I was “Golden Girl” for that week. I was happy in that moment. But the little black cloud of being indebted to her makes that happiness fleeting.

I try. I rack my brain, picturing kindergarten, 2nd grade, 5th grade, 9th grade. Nothing. She is absent from any real memories. I can see my dad. My grandparents. I see my cousins, aunts. No mom. And if I do see her she has her arms folded over her chest and she’s glaring.

What childhood memories do I have?

Testing the waters each day to gauge the mood she was in and wondering if this was the day I could ask her about: going to a friend’s party, staying after school for a project, going to the mall or a movie.

Making vodka tonics for her when she got home from work, waiting anxiously for the bad mood to pass and her “couldn’t care less” attitude to take hold.

Keeping my three younger sisters quiet because she was studying or she was sleeping or she was sick.

My mother pulling my sister by the hair to get her to do something.

Laughing when we flinched if she made a sudden move, thinking we were about to be slapped.

The way she would barge into our room with such force, without knocking or calling out, and how we’d jump three feet into the air, hearts pounding.

Fists through the wall. Broken glass. Slamming doors.

Yelling. Lots of yelling.

Silence. Tip-toeing. Daring not to disturb the sleeping giant.

Because I have so few happy memories with my own mother I am panicked that I’m not creating them with my own children. I quiz my daughter, acting as if it’s a light-hearted exercise, “What’s your favorite memory of you and I when you were in grade school?” or “What’s a favorite vacation we took when you were little?”

The exercise is two-fold. I’m trying to reassure myself that I AM doing a good job. That I’m not repeating my mother’s mistakes. But I’m also trying to ingrain these positive memories, praying that she doesn’t forget the good times.

This is a part of me I’m not proud of. This insecurity I carry is unattractive and stifling. But I can’t seem to let it go. It keeps me focused. It keeps me from repeating negative behaviors.

And I desperately pray, it keeps the good childhood memories flowing for my precious angels.

(This post is part of the Five For Ten project at Momalom. Please visit their site for more wonderful posts on Memory. Or click the button below to find out how YOU can participate!)

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Filed under children, Growing Up, Moms, Motherhood, parenting

Seven Kids, Three Moms and One Restaurant Health Inspector

(Thank you for your patience. We now return to our regularly scheduled program.)

My kids had 12 days off for spring break. And my husband had to work. After the first 5 days I was ready to pull my hair out. They had played with every toy they owned, re-discovered lost toys and now chanted “I’m bored” over and over in their sleep.

Hey! Why not visit my friends in Savannah? Fun for me AND the kids! 

OK.

Picture this.

Three moms. One dressed to the nines because she just got off work. Mom #2 is in your standard mom wear of slacks and a pretty t-shirt. Me? Wrinkled vacation wear because I don’t iron while on vacation (ok, I don’t iron when I’m not on vacation) and a dried cheerio stuck to my butt. (Sorry for the visual but dry cereal is our standard snack fare while traveling. At least it wasn’t a Snak-Pak pudding top.)

Seven kids. Yes, seven. Who have been cooped up all day, playing indoors because the pollen was causing asthma attacks and eyes to swell shut.

Two of the three moms (yes, I’m included in this pair) decide that it would be a great idea to take the kids out to eat. It takes about an hour to decide on a kid-friendly restaurant. Committed to our choice we call the other mom at work (We’re “watching” her two girls. In all actuality our kids are entertaining her girls. My friend and I are chatting between playing referee to wrestling matches and cleaning the kitchen from yet another snack. ) We agree on a time to meet and tell her which restaurant. She’ll meet us there.

Thirty minutes before the appointed hour the two moms load seven kids into two cars without incident. The two-car-caravan sets off to said restaurant.

We arrive before Working Mom and herd the children into the restaurant. On the way in one child pipes up, “83? That’s not a very good grade. In MY school anything below an 85 is a C!”

She’s referring, of course, to the health inspection score. Hmmm. 83. Now, I’ve had food poisoning twice in my life and I’m not keen on having it again or sharing the experience with 7 children and my 2 closest girlfriends. We’re not THAT close.

One mom scans the reasons for the low score. She gets to “Food not cooked to the proper temperature” and stops looking. We herd the kids out.

On to our second choice restaurant. We call Working Mom and she’s closer than we are. She’ll get a table for our crew.

We arrive and she’s waiting for us at the door. “I’m not sure you’ll like this either,” she smiles wryly.

79. We don’t even bother to check the list.

There’s a pizza joint up the street that her family loves. And it’s right across from the hospital. Convenient if things go south. We load the kids back into the car.

A half a mile later we arrive at our destination. Seven kids and three moms burst onto the scene, starving. There are doctors, in scrubs, chowing on pizza. Good sign.

The kids are situated at a table and the moms go to the counter to order. Health inspection score? 83.

We look at each other and laugh. “Maybe 83 is the new 93?” one mom says.  “Well,” I say, “At least the hospital is right across the street.” We decide to take our chances.

The meal goes without incident. The kids have a blast and the moms don’t have to clean another dirty kitchen. Twenty four hours later, we’re still standing. Thank goodness.

The next day we decide another meal out is a good idea. This time at my favorite place, Mrs. Wilkes Boarding House (at least, that’s what it was called when I lived there.) I first discovered Mrs. Wilkes by the smell. Every day, around 10 am, I’d start smelling the most wonderful aromas. I asked our neighbors where they were coming from. Just around the corner, they said, from Mrs. Wilkes. No sign. Just a line down the street of people waiting to get in. Served family style around giant tables.

“Family style, ” my friend reminded me, “You DO know they got in trouble once for re-serving food?”

“But it’s SOOOOO good,” I whine, “I LOVE Mrs. Wilkes!”

“Okay,” my friend says doubtfully.

We arrived at 10:30 (which used to be adequate time to line up) for the first seating of the day at 11am. Curious, I asked the first people in line how early they had arrived. 9am was the reply. Oh, how times have changed.

The kids were amazing, coloring pictures, chatting with other children. We had a chance to visit with other people in line. Finally, we were seated at 11:30am.

A table spread with the most mouth-watering, amazing Southern dishes imaginable. Fried chicken, beef stew, collard greens, squash casserole, rutabaga, mashed potatoes, rice, gravy, green beans, creamed corn, shredded bar-b-que pork, biscuits and cornbread, butter beans, sweet potato casserole, black-eyed peas, macaroni and cheese, baked beans, okra & tomatoes, red rice and cabbage. In all we counted 20 bowls or plates of piping hot food. It was delicious.

While one mom corralled all of the children and helped them clear their plates to bring to the kitchen (a Mrs. Wilkes requirement) I went up to pay.

Standing there, waiting for my change, I glanced up.

Mrs Wilkes, born in 1907, started working at the Boarding House in 1943. She eventually took over and worked there every week day until her death in 2002.

The health inspection notice.

With her score.

100.

Looks like we’ll be back!

Oh yummy!

 Thank you, Mrs. Wilkes. I’m honored to have met you and so glad you were my neighbor during my stay in Savannah.

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Filed under children, funny, Moms

There’s A Fresh Coat Of Paint At Jane’s Today

Things were getting a little dull over here. I took a look around my blog and I thought, “Hmmm. New curtains? Maybe a fresh coat of paint? What would this chair look like over here?” And then Kristen from Motherese came to my rescue.

“Let’s trade spaces,” she suggested. And I heartily agreed!

As a part of Amy’s “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” meme, we decided to switch things up a bit together. It always helps to have a friend’s discerning eye and gentle charm to spruce things up at your blog. And Kristen is just the blogger to help me.

You can find me over at her place, sharing a favorite post. And just a few lines down you’ll find her wonderful words. Her blog is a welcoming place that shares the joys and strains of motherhood.  She encourages frank, honest discussion and loving support. One of my favorite daily reads, I just know you’ll love her, too.

Please give a warm welcome to Kristen.

What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up?

Have you ever played the Game of Life?  My older brother and I played constantly, both of us longing to land on one of the squares at the beginning of the game that entitled us to a career as a lawyer or a doctor (and the $50,000 annual salary that went with it – I guess lawyers and doctors weren’t making the big bucks back in the 80s).  In the Game of Life – and probably in more lives in general a few decades ago – you steered your car along a predetermined course, collecting paychecks and children, all the way to retirement (at which point, if I recall correctly, you could trade in your kids for cash…but that’s a topic for another post entirely). 

Yesterday I read a version of a statistic that I’d seen before, but it surprised me nonetheless: according to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average American worker will change careers 3-5 times during her lifetime.  Not jobs.  Not 9th grade social studies teacher at Franklin D. Roosevelt High, then 10th grade world history teacher at Oak Hill Regional, then 12th grade economics teacher at Shelburne Community.  Careers.  Teacher.  Then Astrophysicist.  Then City Comptroller.  (Okay, maybe not exactly, but you get the picture.)

As a kid, like my persona in the Game of Life, I often defaulted to the idea of being a lawyer.  All of my dad’s siblings were lawyers.  They liked to talk.  I liked to talk.  I also liked the idea of making $50,000 a year and wearing suits to work.  I liked the show L.A. Law.  But in college I passed that torch off to many (most?) of my friends who headed off to law school after graduation while I headed instead to a different sort of classroom – one in which I’d be a teacher instead of a student.  That’s where I went and that’s where I stayed until Big Boy was born.  A few different jobs, but the same career.

And now I’m 32.  I’ve had one career so far.  I liked it.  I even loved it sometimes.  But right now I don’t see myself going back to it.  And, according to the Labor Department, I need at least two more careers to qualify as average.  So I have to ask myself: What do I want to do when I grow up?

And you know what?  I have no idea.  No clue what I want to do next.

Right now I’m a mother.  And that certainly takes a lot of doing.  But what else do I want to do?  Well, I want to read the stack of books that’s been sitting on my bedside table since last Christmas.  I want to wake up one morning to something other than the sound of a baby crying.  I want to go back to Paris – with Husband, but without the wee ones.  I want to get a massage.  A long massage.

Actually, most of my want-to-do’s have to do with states of being – how I’ve been in a different place in time, how I want to be – rather than what I want to do.  And I realize that maybe the question that matters isn’t, What do I want to do?, but rather, What do I want to be?

And what do I want to be?  I want to be present.  I want to be satisfied.  I want to be fulfilled.  I want to be heard.  I want to be happy.

I still don’t know what career space I want to land on in my own personal game of life.  I still don’t know how the doing can get me to the being.  No, I still don’t know what I want to do, but I’m getting closer to knowing what I want to be.

What do you want to do when you grow up?  What do you want to be?

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Filed under Growing Up, Moms, Observations

Yep, I’m THAT Mom

Midway through  my daughter’s gymnastics career I was waiting with the other moms for her practice to finish. One of the mothers asked me a question about the upcoming meet. Before I could answer, her 6 year old son piped up, “Mom, what are you asking her for? You said she never knows anything!” Gasp. The other moms stopped talking. Some were stiffling a giggle. But who could blame him? or her? It was true.

When my daughter was trying out for another team – a much more competitive team with coaches from Russia and practices 4 hours a day, 4-5 days a week in a gym one hour from our home – another mother at the try-out introduced herself to me. We chatted for a while and then she asked, “Does she have her kip?” I asked, “What’s a kip?” She smiled with satisfaction –  convinced my daughter would never make it. Then she asked me to point her out. I did. They were on the uneven bars and evidently, my daughter had her kip. I watched the mom’s face fall.

I used to be a competitive swimmer. And then I coached competitive swimming. I’ve dealt with many a pushy parent. Armchair coaches, we called them. The ones that saw a few races on television during the Olympics, but never swam a day in their life and thought they knew everything. I prayed that my daughter would chose a sport that wasn’t competitive swimming. I wanted her to choose a sport I knew absolutely nothing about.

And she did.

I was thrilled. And she turned out to be pretty good. Then, at the top of her game, she quit.

Off to another sport I knew nothing about. Rowing. I love the water but I knew absolutely nothing of this sport. And the kind of boats? I just had to look up on Wikipedia what kind she raced. K-1 and K-2. But it was so much fun to watch.

And then she discovered a sport I didn’t even know was a sport. Competitive Cheerleading. I had to do everything in my power to keep a poker face when she told me she wanted to try out for the squad. Cheerleading? A sport? Whoop-de-doo. Learn a few chants. Let someone stand on your shoulders. Do a few cartwheels. That’s hardly a sport.

Boy, was I in for an education!

Not only is it a sport, it’s a very dangerous sport. Sixty-five percent of all catastrophic injuries to young women in high school involves cheerleading. You better believe once I heard this statistic I educated myself about this sport. Back in my day doing a cartwheel or a round-off got you on the squad. Now? At my daughter’s school it’s required that you have a standing back tuck. On top of that you need: round off back handspring front layout, round off back handspring full, strength training, dance skills and the ability to stunt. I was thrilled that when she made the squad her position was a base. I did not want her to be a flyer (that’s the one that gets tossed 30 feet in the air.) When we went for her physical her doctor asked what position she was. When I expressed my relief that she wasn’t a flyer the doctor smiled and told me she sees more injuries from the other positions (broken noses, broken clavicles, dislocated elbows and shoulders). What has she gotten into?

Before I signed anything (and you better believe there are release forms for this sport!) I spoke with the coach. She’s a former gymnast and competitive cheerleader, certified, trained and educated. They go to another gym for tumbling where again, they are certified. I breathed a tiny sigh of relief. She’s in her third year and so far, so good.

But beyond me checking out the safety of her coaches, gym and squad I still know very little about the sport. We just returned from the state championships and they made it to finals. A couple of the moms and I were sitting with the coaches at lunch after sectionals. I asked a question. Evidently, a bit of a dumb question. I saw those knowing glances all over again between the moms as the head coach patiently answered me.

I will never be one of those moms that sits in the stands with her pen and schedule, making notes on the other squads, counting how many fell, how many stepped off the mat, how many didn’t complete a stunt. I have no idea how to rank them, how many points are deducted for a fall or what the judges are looking for. I had to ask my daughter a few moments ago to tell me the names of the things she does during her tumbling run. She gave me that look, too.

But that’s ok. I will be my daughter’s cheerleader. I will watch diligently from the stands with eyes on her praying she doesn’t get hurt. I still know less than half of the girl’s names on her squad. I know she gets annoyed whenever I ask, “Now, who is Chelsea?” for the 50th time. But that’s ok. I’m there for her. I’m so proud of the hard work she puts into this sport. It’s a team sport that still showcases her amazing gymnastics ability. Her work ethic is fantastic. She performs in front of thousands of people. She is a consistent athlete. And she loves her teammates. I can’t ask for anything more.

 (Not our squad but an example of what a competitive squad does from last year’s championships)

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Filed under Moms, Motherhood, Observations

I Thought I Knew

I taught a high school composition course and one semester, the way the schedule fell, there were only females in the class. Can you imagine? Well, I suppose you can if you teach in an all-girls school but this was a dream class for me. And since it was a private school I had a bit of leeway with the curriculum. So with a snip here and a stitch there I tailored the class for young women. It was an amazing semester. Full of women’s literature, women’s essays and short stories. They wrote and wrote and wrote and it was great fun. And true to my collaborative style THEY came up with an assignment: Interview our mothers and then write about the responses, how we felt about their responses, what we expected and how we were surprised. And then they added one more requirement. I had to participate, as well.

I was in my mid 20’s and had a co-dependant, close relationship with my mother. Secretly, I knew I was the favorite of her 4 daughters. I thought I knew her inside and out. I wouldn’t even have to call her. I knew how she would respond.

The questions all revolved around how our mothers approached relationships with boyfriends, parents, husbands and children. We would interview our mothers and then report as a group some of our findings before we sat down to write.

I called my mother, told her about the assignment and began asking questions.

Q. So, Mom. Why did you marry Dad?    A. Because I knew he’d be a good provider.

What?!? Didn’t you love him? Didn’t you love how funny he was , cute, endearing, fun to be around? I was stunned. She was very matter of fact. She said she grew to love him but no, she wasn’t really in love at first. She just wanted to get out of the house and go to college – which her parents didn’t want her to do. They felt college for a woman was a waste of time. She knew he loved her and he was college educated. That was enough for her.

Q. How did you and Dad decide to have me?    A. Your Dad wanted kids and I didn’t. I wanted to go to school. So I gave him one night during my fertile time and if I got pregnant I’d be a mom. If I didn’t, I’d go to nursing school.

Guess what? She got pregnant. With me. And then 3 others in the span of 3 years. At one point she had 4 children age 3 and under (the two youngest were twins.) How’s that for karma?

Looking back, after years of getting over my stunned reaction, it makes so much sense now. She resented all of us. She resented how we kept her from getting the career she wanted, when she wanted it. She did, eventually, go to school and become a very fine intensive care nurse. Once we were all in school, when society deemed it acceptable for her to have something of her own, she went to school. And worked nights. And left us to take care of each other. In elementary school, I made all of our lunches and would envy the kids who went home after school to a mom complete with milk and cookies. By the 6th grade I was making dinners for the family. I taught 6th grade one time (never again!) and do you know how tiny they are? Granted, we ate a lot of spaghetti, french toast and scrambled eggs, “Madhatter Meatballs” from the kid’s Betty Crocker cookbook – the few things I could make. But still.

I used to say I wouldn’t be the woman I am now if it weren’t for my mother. Back then I was talking about the person that made school a priority, lived an independent life. But now I see that my crusade to make sure EVERY child is wanted stems more from her example than anything else. I made a conscious decision to adopt. I made a conscious decision to have a biological child. I’ve welcomed foster children into my home. I preach birth control because no innocent child should have to be a “consequence” of your actions. I pray for a world where abortion is unnecessary.

I had no idea where that conviction to “save the children” came from. Until now.

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Filed under Moms, Motherhood