September 2012 archive

The End

I’m the Director of Happiness at my job. I’ve heard my role described in many ways, but the most accurate is “Hippy Dippy HR.” I ensure the happiness of our staff, and I also facilitate communication between staff and clients; this means that at the end of the day I’m also in charge of clients happiness.

I’m also the director of happiness in my home. I have a son, a husband, 2 dogs, and a house. I try to cook dinner every night and make sure that there’s always healthy snacks available, doctor appointments scheduled, and semi-clean surroundings.

That’s a lot of happiness to be in charge of.

So at the end of a week like this one, I am spent. I want Calgon to take me away. And so I leave you with this quote a friend shared this week:

“There’s nowhere you can be that isn’t where you’re meant to be…”
― John Lennon

 

Have a beautiful weekend.

That Mom or I’m Such a Jerk

Last night was Abe’s preschool Parent Night. All the little eager parents go in and listen to the principal talk about what an “exciting school year it’s going to be” and “all the events we have planned.” We didn’t have a sitter, so I attended alone.

When the principal finished her spiel, we all splintered off into our children’s individual classrooms to hear from the teachers. There to learn about a typical day in the life of our 2-year-olds, we all sat down in the teeny tiny chairs like idiots and tried to pay attention over the bubbling fish tank.
And then she started talking.
You know her. She talks about her own child with a hearty chuckle and an, “Oh, you know, kids,” kind of a tone. She flips her hair and interrupts everyone to say, “Oh, me tooooo.” It’s imperative she mentions how long her child has been potty-trained and that she never forgets to slather her child in sunscreen before going outside. If she flipped that big head of manufactured curls one more time I thought I might pull it. And I would’ve paid to see the price tag on the skirt suit she was wearing; definitely nothing under $1000.

I came home ranting and raving about how self-involved some of these mothers seemed to be. My husband chuckled at my stories and nodded, knowing exactly which mom I was talking about.

Cut to this morning when my husband got back to the office from a quick trip to the grocery store.
“I saw, her,” he said.
“Who?”
“That mom. And she told me her story. That’s why I took so long.”
“Oh? What story?”

He proceeded to tell me about her battle with several illnesses, and how she was told she would never have children. She had to give up her career when she was able to, quite miraculously, conceive. Her husband works very long hours and she is home alone with the kids much of the time. My husband told her we should get all the kids in the class together to make good use of her “big back yard” and she jumped all over the idea.

She’s lonely, I thought.

And I am such a jerk.

How many times do I have to do this before I finally stick my foot in my mouth in front of the person I’m complaining about? Because you know it’s going to happen if I don’t straighten up. And we all do it. We peg people, we put them in boxes.
Oh yeah. She’s one of those.
And sure, she does fit lots of the characteristics of the woman I pegged her to be, but who am I?! I am not the sum of what people can see. I have a whole past, an entire life, a huge personality that I don’t go around sharing via notecards and pamphlets. “Hey, I’m Erin. Here’s a pamphlet about my childhood and here’s another about my 20’s. Oh and this one  regards my education and personal fears…”
People make their judgements based on two or three of my characteristics and, it’s a shame, because I’m a lot of fun once you get past a few of those…

 

Reminder

Note: If you know my friend, please don’t mention her name in any comments. She deserves privacy.

Since 2001, September 11 has been a notoriously bad day for me. I don’t say that flippantly. Even when I wake up with a feeling of joy and resilience, that day inherently brings me something other than “just another day”.

Late last night I got a phone call. I learned that my close friend had been rushed to the hospital. The same hospital where I gave birth to Abe.

My friend is the funniest, most down to earth, most life-shaping person I know. During the course of our short friendship, I’ve learned more about myself and about life than I have in a long time. So when I prepared myself to walk through those sterilized, white hallways to bring her a picture from Abe and all the snarky jokes I could think up, I sucked all my emotions deep inside my gut. I put on a brave face, walked into her hospital room, looked her dead in the eye and asked, “Really? You pull this shit on 9/11? Very dramatic, my friend. Very dramatic.” She laughed.

And I cried in my car all the way home.

There isn’t a more beautifully poetic reminder in the world of what life is worth than life being threatened. Today is a poignant day to be reminded. I have not lost my friend (and, if I have anything to say about it, I won’t), but thousands of people lost their friends, loved ones, and relatives 11 years ago today. I mourn for them, and I also remember to stay strong and grateful for the people who are still here. Every day, no matter how shitty, is a gift.

 

Name Tag

One thing about preschool is that your kid’s name has to be on EVERYTHING. And if it’s not on EVERYTHING, then they write it on there for you in sharpie. I bought these little name tags that stick to anything and started putting them everywhere to keep those name-tagging sharpie-wielding nazis at bay. They already wrote “Abe” on one of his naptime sheets in sharpie, which made him look like a prisoner at home.

Vicariously living through my son's lunch box.

I decided Abe needed a new lunch box because the old one was bigger than he was (it was mine from graduate school). I researched and read reviews and decided on a bento box style lunch box for easy toting and cleaning. When I got it, I really liked it, but I wasn’t sure it would be as useful as I’d hoped. It was a little bit big and a little bit clunky for Abe’s age. I decided I would give it a try and if I didn’t like it, I’d return it. I stuck a sticker with his name on the bottom and sent him on his way.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I picked Abe up from school and his lunch box now donned his name in BLACK SHARPIE across the top. THE TOP! I mean, come on now. I know you have 12 kids in your class and they each have a lunch box, but how many of them walked in with a brand new, blue, bento box stackable lunch box this morning? JUST ONE! MINE! And why? Because my kid is awesome and cooler than all those kids.

It was literally ruining my entire afternoon. Every time I looked at the lunch box that I could no longer return, I got little angry men in my stomach. Who does that?? I mean, it had a name sticker on it! Why would you write on these kids’ stuff with sharpie? I’m going to write to his teacher. Or go talk to her. She can’t just go around writing on everything she feels like. If she can’t keep the lunch boxes straight, how do I know she can keep the KIDS straight?
My husband interrupted my rant by saying, “I know, but they’re probably going to say we shouldn’t send him to school with anything we want to keep clean and whole.”
Oh my God. I’m that mom. The mom I hated when I was a teacher.
“You’re right. It’s school, not grandma’s house. I guess we shouldn’t have sent it if we were that concerned about it. I really wanted to send it back, but oh well. You live and you learn.”
And then, my husband got the sharpie off with Goo-Gone.

Try to find a side without a name tag.

My point is…well, there’s no point. Only that I’ve now covered everything Abe brings to school with name tags, including him. I put one smack in the middle of his forehead every morning, just to ensure they remember who he is (and who they’re dealing with).

 

High Note

(Standing outside of the fence before swim practice.)

Abe: Hahahahaha. AHHHHahahahaha!!!

Mom: Wow, Abe! What’s so funny?

Abe: Penis, mommy. Penis.

 

Have a beautiful weekend. 🙂

Worst Case Scenario

Abe’re preschool orientation was a few weeks ago. We walked in and the first thing I saw was the bounce house. So many germs. The second thing I saw was the buffet. A big Jewish buffet. So many carbs.
If I had a xanax I would have taken one.
Abe immediately climbed into the bounce house, out, then back in, then back out again. He never really went inside, just climbed in and out. I considered letting the Bounce House Bouncer know that Abe was special and would probably never be like other boys and girls, but I stopped myself when I considered how very convincing I can be.
I swallowed my organic pride and made a huge plate of food, all things he never gets to eat at home, and proudly presented it to Abe on his way back out of the bounce house. The prince ate cereal, cereal bar, cinnamon bun, bagel with cream cheese, and fruit. It was a gluten-free mom’s worst nightmare.

The next morning was his first day of school and he woke up with a weird little rash on his chin. I thought nothing of it and figured if it hadn’t gone away that afternoon I’d think about worrying.
That afternoon, it had not gone away. It was exponentially worse. And it was on his legs and arms now, too.  My mom was in town and she validated my fear. This was something to worry about.
We got home and I checked his temperature. 100.3. THIS IS DIRE.
I began inspecting his bumps and splotches more closely and announced, “CHICKEN POX. HE HAS CHICKEN POX.”
“OH MY GOD,” my mother shrieked.
“I know, Mother! CHICKEN POX! AND NOW WE’RE ALL GOING TO DIE.”
“Didn’t he have a vaccine for chicken pox?” my husband asked.
Oh yeah. Damn.
So I took to my Google Doctorate in Pediatrics Degree and started sifting through pages and pages of rashes. It sort of looked like Impetigo, or maybe Psoriasis? Oh please God, no, not the heartbreak of Psoriasis. Then, I saw it…
HAND, FOOT AND MOUTH. HE HAS HAND, FOOT, AND MOUTH DISEASE.
Every picture looked EXACTLY like the bumps he had all over his body. Now, granted, they were in the complete wrong areas of the body for a positive HF&M diagnosis, but no matter. I have a doctorate. I know what I’m talking about.
I called the pediatrician the next morning because, for whatever reason, my degree didn’t come with a prescription pad.
“Was he around a lot of other children recently?” the nurse asked.
(HUGE GASP) “YES! HE WAS! AT SCHOOL!”
“Well, it’s certainly possible. Hand, foot, and mouth is very contagious. Probably best to bring him in.”
“Yes, of course I will. It only seems best to get a second opinion after my very well-educated fifth diagnosis, just after Melanoma.”
We made it to the doctor’s office and we had to sit in the sick room. This feels like the room for failed mothers. We all just stare at the well-baby room where moms are sitting pretty, all happy with their healthy babies. Oh, we’re just here for PREVENTATIVE care which is why our babies never get sick. You stay over there where the other failure moms hang out with their sick babies. Failure mothers.
After waiting an amount of time only someone without children would make someone with children wait, the doctor finally saw us. She asked me a bunch of questions and I nodded knowingly as I answered. It’s hand, foot, and mouth. I Googled it.
“This actually looks more like an allergic reaction to something. It’s systemic, all over. Has he eaten anything recently that’s out of the ordinary?” she asked me.
Oh God. The Jewish buffet.
“Um, yes, I mean, it’s possible. He’s in school now,” I answered sheepishly.
“Has he ever had an allergic reaction to food?”
“When he was young once he got a mild rash from some cinnamon I put in his…” (HUGE GASP) “CINNAMON!”
“Oh, did he eat cinnamon in something recently? Like on some sweet potatoes?”
“Um. Yes. Yes he did. It was…it was on sweet potatoes, right.”
“I’m guessing that’s what this is. It will clear up on it’s own. If he’s not uncomfortable, I would just keep him lotioned up. You’ll see improvement within a few days.”
“Ok. Yeah. Thank you. And no more of that cinnamon in his sweet potatoes, amiright, doc?!”

Not what Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease looks like.

Horrified that all that research was for nothing, I brought my little dot-covered son home and covered him in coconut oil. He was fine within a day. And just so you know, hand, foot and mouth disease actually only exists on the hands, feet, and in the mouth. I know, I know. I wouldn’t have guessed that either…

 

Those People

Today I was recounting stories of “losing it” after giving birth with a friend. No, not mentally losing it…
My friend made me promise not to tell anyone (except you guys, I’m sure) that shortly after the birth of her second child, she threw on a pair of elastic-waist running shorts and headed out to Target. While walking down an aisle, cart full of stuff, she slowed down. Slower, slower, stop. I’ll let her tell it from here…

Oh my God, I thought. Oh my God. “Holy…oh my God…” I said it out loud. I stared at my baby daughter in the car seat and said, “I think I just pooped in my pants.”
I stood there for a few more seconds, wondering if this had actually just happened. And yes. It happened. I was stopped in Target repeating, “I pooped my pants. I just pooped my pants.” I looked at my daughter again. “Well, baby girl. I’m your mom. And I just pooped my pants in Target.”

Not having ever pooped in my pants before, it took a very long time to decide what to do next. I mulled over the fact that I was wearing a thong and that the mesh lining of my running shorts was probably not enough of a barrier between me and the single most humiliating moments of my life that were sure to follow if I tried ot make it to the bathroom. Besides, what was I going to do if I went to the bathroom??
I grabbed my diaper bag, swung it over my shoulder, grabbed my daughter and headed for the door. I left my cart, full of stuff, in the middle of the aisle.
As soon as I got to my car, I called my mom. “Mom,” I said. “I just pooped my pants in Target.”
What?!”
When I got near my house, I began praying that none of my neighbors were outside. They are all incredibly chatty and I hadn’t looked down there yet…I had no idea what the situation was. I was just trying to get inside. I saw no one as I approached and I grabbed my daughter and RAN into the house to shower.
It was an amazing day. 

My point in telling you her story (and I almost wish it was my story, I laughed so hard today at her telling it) is that we are all those people. I read something last night written by my current idol, Brene Brown, which stated:
“Most of us are one paycheck, one divorce, one drug-addicted family member, one mental health diagnosis, one serious illness, one sexual assault, one drinking binge, one night of unprotected sex, or one affair away from being “those people”- the ones we don’t trust, the ones we pity, the ones we don’t let our children play with, the ones bad things happen to, the ones we don’t want living next door.”
Relating to each other through hilarious and embarrassing stories is entirely more comfortable than sharing the real stuff that, again, proves we’re all those people. You always hear them say, “I never thought it could happen to someone like her…” None of us are immune to unbelievable heartache, imperfect choices, uncontrollable circumstances (like pooping in Target) that force decisions we never imagined would be upon us. If we all let our secrets out as freely as my friend did today, anything on that list from Brene would be far less mysterious. We would open up the door to relate to each other (and maybe even laugh). The great divide would get smaller, and we’d all feel far less ashamed of the things that make us “those people.” 

Brief Moments

In the past week we’ve celebrated Abe’s 2nd birthday, my 31st birthday, and Labor day. Can you even begin to imagine what my house looks like?

I spent the latter half of the weekend at a friend’s beach house with her family, soaking up sun and sand and beer and seafood. For brief but beautiful moments throughout those few days I forgot that relaxing is kind of a joke with a couple of 2-year-olds running around. I had adult conversations while sitting in one place as my child played and entertained himself quietly. Considering his attention span is that of, well, 2-year-old boy, it woke something up within my now somewhat swiss-cheesed brain: I used to go do things with people. Like everyday. I just used to go and do them and then come home and that was the entire story.

Do you ever think back to the choices you made before you had kids? Like, I remember this one time I wanted to go to Target to try on some shirts for a friend’s birthday dinner. And then I went to Target. And then I found a nice shirt and then I came home and wore it for the birthday dinner. I stayed out until 12:30.

Ok, if you don’t have kids you’re waiting for the punchline. If you do have kids, you’re nodding knowingly and saying with some southern sass, “Oh, I know, girl.”

So, as I relished this moment of peaceful, conversational bliss, I felt the need to decide if I was sad about mapping out my daily route down to stop lights vs. stop signs because Mickey Mouse’s longest episode is only 47 minutes or if I’m actually content with where I am. There are times that I miss the freedom of turning my radio on as loud as it will go and leisurely taking a shower. Recently, though, I’ve seen glimpses of real life again. Yes I had to stop folding the laundry 7 times today so that Abe could, once again, show me he has a train table. But without those interruptions, I simply would have been folding laundry. My point is, I will very soon be able to have adult conversations and beverages and fold laundry uninterrupted all the time because the little person I made will be at school or out with his friends and, frankly, I’ll miss him.

I’m over what, for me, is the hardest part of being a mom. Little by little over the next few years, I’ll rediscover myself and my new life. It took me 2 years to fully embrace and wear the title of, “Mom.” And as I get these moments of real life back, I feel so lucky that I was chosen to experience that title.

And that today I read an article online for a full 4 minutes before I was re-introduced to the train table.

31

“One no longer has to worry about certain things [at that age]. You can be sort of comfortable in your skin, even as your skin is rattled and ravaged and sun-damaged, and you no longer have to sort of explain things about yourself, and you no longer have to make excuses for yourself. And I think a certain kind of wisdom has kicked in for everybody, and people, I think, are a lot more accepting of the world and their place in it.”

-David Rakoff (November 27, 1964 – August 9, 2012)

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