Monthly Archives: May 2010

I told my daughter that monsters are real

Hannah is not one to be afraid of things. Where most of her friends found scenes from all of her favorite movies scary, and watched them through slightly parted fingers, she did not. The first time she saw Nemo, she didn’t flinch at the scary sharks. She thought they were funny. The tremendous growing Octopus Witch in The Little Mermaid was surprising but also not scary. In all of the movies she’s seen where someone has died, she doesn’t get sad or worried, just curious as to where they went. I don’t worry at Fireworks displays that she’ll be scared of the loud explosions or at the Circus that the clowns will petrify her.

For an extremely dramatic five year old who gets bent out of shape from just about anything… she has a high threshold for fear. Except for bees. Because mommy sets a bad example and is paralyzed with fear when one appears. And pretty much yells for everyone to run for cover when one buzzes by… so that doesn’t count. I’ve sometimes wondered what it says about her that so many normal fears of kids her age don’t apply to her. I decided that she just understands the difference between real and fictional and separates what she sees in movies and in books from that that exists in front of her.

So tonight, when she whispered to me as we lay in bed after her goodnight story that she has been thinking a lot about monsters in her room, all of a sudden wanting her closet door closed and her bedroom door open wider to allow more light to pour in, I pondered how to handle it. I knew that if I simply told her that Monsters aren’t real, that there isn’t anything to be afraid of because there’s no such thing, I knew she’d say, “How do YOU know?”. And really, how DO I know? For all I know, they only come out when I’m asleep. Maybe they only bother those who bother them (like bees, so I’ve heard). Maybe they turn themselves invisible when someone gets close. How DO I know?

So I decided to try a different strategy instead of blowing Monsters off as fictional characters. I took a deep breath, hoped I wasn’t about to make an insanely horrible mommy decision, and told her how EXCITED I’d be if in fact I ever got to meet one of those monsters that may live in our rooms. I told her that I BET monsters just get lonely and come out to find people known for giving fabulous, warm, loving hugs. I explained that very few people actually know that Monsters are VERY choosy about whose room they visit because they only are interested in seeing people that they hear have strong hugging arms. I went on to say (I was on a roll now) that monsters are so big because they’re incredible cuddlers. That they have lots of hair because they love to be petted. That they have big teeth because “I hear” their favorite food are nuts and their teeth help them open the hard shells.

She looked at me like I was NUTS.

“Would you really be happy mommy if a monster was in your room?”

“Yup!” I had to keep this up. “I’d be honored”.

I could tell she was processing all of this new information of which she was obviously skeptical. And then she lay back down on her pillow. Satisified. For the moment.

I gave her a kiss and whispered in her ear, “Good night. I hope you see a monster tonight. Give it a hug from me, if you do.” She smiled.

And I left her room. Still wondering if this was the wrong way to go on this. She seemed satisfied but I know her, and chances are in the morning, she’ll have a whole new line of questions for me on this. I’m certain she’ll have bore a hole through my story, finding a reason why it CAN’T be true.

But as I cleaned up the mess of toys in the family room and did the dishes from dinner tonight, I realized that what I told her wasn’t all wrong. We all DO have the monsters in our lives. The ones we fear and the ones we need to take head on. All of our monsters approach us for a reason. To teach us we can handle them. That we’re stronger than we think. They help us set our priorities and our goals.

When my monster shows its big hairy face I look right back at it and tell it I’m stronger than it is. It reminds me of all I’ve achieved and how far I’ve come since I first met it years ago. My monster is now my friend. My monster makes me look at Tim and my kids and and remember that they are more important than anything else I may face. My monster now pats me on the back and gives me a thumbs up.

Monsters are real. They very well may be hiding out in our closets, under our beds, in our cupboards or right out in the open for all to see. I think we’re all better off if we believe in them. And grab their big hairy, horny (like With Horns) bodies and hold them close instead of just pushing them away.

I hear they like that.

So what do you think? Would you have ever told your child what I did about monsters?

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In Dreams

I fell asleep on the couch today.  The ceiling fan whirred over head. There were lawn mowers grooming the yard across the street.  My dog, in desperate need of a haircut in this heat, snored quietly by my side.  And after a few too many nights of interrupted sleep, I was in desperate need of a nap.  So when Luke slept, so did I.

And I dreamed.

So rarely do I dream.  I either don’t fall into a deep enough slumber for dreams to overtake my mind, or I’m in such a deep sleep that the dreams are shut out. Or worse, the dreams I DO have are the ones that I wake up in a cold sweat, having missed a semester of classes and in no way can pass the final, or I’m falling down an empty elevator shaft (I like to dream by the books.  With obvious interpretation.).

But today, I dreamed about an actual day dream.  I dreamed about something that recently I find myself pondering during the daylight hours, while my kids play in front of me, as I’m cooking dinner, and pulling weeds from my garden.  As I napped my mind took me to a place where one day I can only “dream” of being.  My dream took me to achieving something I wouldn’t even dare to admit I hope to achieve.  Because it’s not realistic.  It’s just a dream.

Which makes me wonder.  When are you allowed to consider a dream a possibility?  When is a dream something you can take from your subconscious mind, open your eyes and put it in front of you?

If you knew me in real life (which only a handful, a small handful, of you do), you’d know that I am a dreamer.  An idea person with Dreams.  I dream big but I execute small.  My dreams get squashed.  I either squash them with my own self deprecating internal voice or tiny voices that reside on my shoulders, whispering in my ears squash them.  And then I move on.  Often feeling defeated, but other times feeling as if reality simply shined brighter than my dream.

I want to stop this cycle.  This cycle of having a dream, making a plan and talking myself out of all I had hoped to see come true.  I want to silence the voices that tell me my dreams aren’t realistic.  That my time and energy could be better spent on the things that are already in my grasp.  I want to ignore the nay sayers and the eye-rollers (even if I’m one of them) and forge ahead.  Take a dive.  Take a risk.  Be COURAGEOUS.

My dream today on the couch felt REAL.  I woke up feeling foggy headed yet inspired.  I felt giddy in a just-woke-up-in-the-middle-of-the-day-and-have-no-idea-where-I-am sort of way.  And I told myself, I’m doing this.

I’m doing this for ME.  I’m doing this to prove to myself that I CAN be courageous and leap off a ledge that for all my life I’ve been told is too high for me. I’m doing this for Hannah and Luke. Because if I tell them every day of their young lives that they’ll never know if they can succeed unless they try,  then I need to do the same.  I need to tell myself that this dream CAN be reality.

And sorry guys, but I’m not leaking what my dream today was all about.   Because, if you were listening above, you know that this is for ME.  If I tell YOU then I’ll have all of you breathing down my neck, asking me how it’s going, asking for details, which I’m just not ready to talk about.  Maybe after a few glasses of wine at BlogHer… but not today.  But don’t worry.  You won’t see me on any stage doing stand-up comedy, applying for Project Runway, Survivor or The Amazing Race.  No, this dream is smaller.  Less public.  Less humiliating.

Right now, it’s just a dream. Something I’ve only seen in blurred forms and shades of grey.  But I’m going to figure out a way for it to breathe real life.

For Me.

Have you had dreams come true?  How do you try to make your dreams reality?  Does it make you nervous?  Are their dream squashers in your life?  Are you one of them?

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Filed under hannah, hopes and dreams, luke, Me, nap, parenting, wonders

Say What?

I sit facing Luke on the couch.  His pudgy little hands rest in my lap.  His knees are tucked under him.  His tush resting on his heels.

I say the word.

“Truck”

“Ba” he repeats.

“Doggy” I slowly prompt.

“Baba” he throws back at me.

No Luke, “DAWG-GEE”.

He laughs.  BA – BAAAH”

I try to not look worried.  Pat him on the head and smile at that face that giggles with each word.  Each attempt.

He claps, proud of himself.  Nudging me to clap along.

The word dance continues.  Back and forth. My angst grows as I wonder if my worries that had been suppressed by the therapist only weeks ago, have reason to return.  I grab my little guys hand and squeeze it.  I smile at him and tell him I’m proud of him but I inhale deeply… planning a next step.

We all as moms imagine what our children’s first words will be.  For me, besides mommy and daddy, the words that I imagined hearing from Luke were doggy, bunny, truck, car, milk, and ball.  Maybe his own name? These were the words I worked on with him.  Showing him pictures. Speaking them slowly, over and over, asking him to watch my mouth as I said them, until I was red  in the face. And although he never tired of the game. Besides ball, the words just weren’t coming.

And they still haven’t.

But.

This weekend something happened.  We had an explosion of sorts.  An explosion of words.  HIS words. Words HE chose to be the first from his mouth. How dare I actually try to TELL him what his first important words should be!

The first few times he said these words, as clear a they were coming from his mouth, I had NO IDEA what he was saying.  Because the words just weren’t in the realm of possible words to come from him.  At least not in my mother’s manual.

“Sausage”.

It came out more like “Shaushage” but it absolutely was the word for this meat that is not eaten very frequently in our house.  He said the word as I sat in his chair with him Friday night preparing to read him his goodnight book.  He pointed at his bookshelves and repeated the word over and over as I pointed to each book asking him, “This one? This one? THIS one??”  I was about to give up, both of us angry with frustration, and then I saw it.  The Very Hungry Caterpillar. The Caterpillar ate through a Sausage.  Along with pie, chocolate cake, a lollipop, salami, cheese, a cupcake, a pickle, and watermelon.  But, Luke chose sausage as the key word to remember.  And the relief in his face as I held the book up for him to confirm was Priceless. And we have now dubbed it the Sausage Book.

“Buy!”

I know you’re all thinking that he’s really saying Bye as in Bye Bye which is frequently a child’s first word.  But no.  My son opens up a magazine finds a picture (usually of a car or truck), runs full speed at me and screams as he points to the picture, “Buy!  Buy!”.  Um, should I take this as a sign that I buy him too much? That I suggest “buying” things when we see them in catalogs?  Yes… I think so too.

“Cheetos!”

Again, I was quite confused when I heard Luke this morning wandering around the kitchen repeatedly exclaiming “Chee Toes! Chee Toes!” I walked in and asked him if he’d like some “Cheeeeeeze”?  Some “Tooooast”? Maybe some “Juuuice”?  All words that in my head could be one of the words he was repeating.  He vigorously shook his head no at each attempt I made to guess what he wanted.  Finally he pried open the cupboard and pulled out a bag of Cheetos that I didn’t even know I had.  Duh Mom.  I was ASKING for Chee Toes!

Shoes!

My son is a shoe whore.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course.  As soon as I’ve pulled his pants up he’s pointing at his feet hinting that he wants his shoes.  He runs for his closet every chance he gets to choose which shoes suit him that day.  He pulls my shoes off the shelves and slips all of the different styles on and glances at himself in the mirror.  And his favorite?  Daddy’s shoes. He slides his tiny feet inside and shuffles around, proud as a little son should be.  And tonight.  As I laid him on his changing table and tugged his navy crocs off his feet he looked at me, smiled and as if he’d been saying it for months, stated, “Shoes.”  Before feet.  Before toes. Before any other part of the body. He said shoes. That’s my boy.

Two.

You would assume he started saying Two because he is Two.  Two years old.  People ask him all the time how old he is and he just smiles kindly without answering (age is a personal thing you know).  He hasn’t started saying Two for this reason though. Nope. He says Two because he wants Another. I hand him a cookie, he now says “two”. I ask if he’d like me to read him a book, he says, “Two”. An apple, a crayon, a hug, you name it.  He wants “two”.  He’s young but he suddenly understand how it works, “You never know unless you ask!”

Today he also said Tee Ball as he lugged his new bat ball and tee out of the playroom. And Meat Ball as I asked Hannah if she ate them at her grandmother’s house. And as I rummaged through my purse like I do EVERY day sitting in the drivers seat, muttering expletives under my breath, I hear a small voice pipe up behind me, “Keys!”  I laughed. Amazed.  Flummoxed.  “Yes sweetie, once again, mommy can’t find her keys!”

Needless to say, again, my worries have diminished.  He’s moving forward.  At his own speed. In his own time. Sidestepping instead of jumping over milestones.  He’s choosing words carefully. With purpose. He’s gathering information on what will get him what he needs. And throwing words out there when we least expect them.  We’ve seen a small explosion of words.  And my heart is exploding with pride. And relief.

Anyone want to wager a guess on his next word?

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This Place

It’s been a year.  A year since I cracked this slim white laptop open, took a deep breath and started to tap my fingers about my life on these keys.

I’m not sure what I was looking for.  What I hoped this blog would bring to my life. I think it started because I enjoyed writing my Facebook status updates and making people laugh.  I enjoyed getting emails from my friends on Facebook telling me they never knew I was funny.  I was flattered and decided to give being funny a chance in a broader format.

But then I realized that a) I wasn’t all that funny and b) I was tired of trying to be funny.  I almost just stopped. Quit.

But I also realized that I liked to write.  A lot.  Who knew?

I had begun reading dozens of other blogs written by fantastic writers.  Some writers were hysterical, some were able to weave words into pure art, and some wrote with such grace, such honesty, such emotion that I truly felt moved. I wanted to be able to do That. I had so much in MY head.  So much I yearned to get out but didn’t feel quite brave enough to have this place be they’re home.  Because I was afraid the words would come out as they are in my head.  A jumbled mess.

But I gave it a shot. And with a few early friends cheering me on, the connections were born.

I’m still asked weekly why I write this blog. Why I care to have strangers read what is going on in my life. Why I care about other stranger’s lives.  I get funny looks when I refer to you guys as my friends.  My husband gets suspicious when I mention wanting to get together with any of you.  People say things like, “Oh, it must get lonely at home all day with your kids.  That must be why you do this.”

And yes, that may be a reason I STARTED doing this.  But it is NOT the reason I keep it up.  I keep it up because I am a happier person with this place.  I am a better mother. I am more secure. I have more confidence. I feel a “part” of something.  And I’m so tired of defending it and explaining it.

The one thing that has been the biggest eye opener since starting this blog in May 2009 is the following:

EVERYONE HAS SOMETHING

My world has gotten so much BIGGER having all of you in it.  I read maybe 60 blogs a week and know anything from a tid-bit about your lives to feeling like I know some of you inside and out.  And I’ve come to realize on days that I feel like my life is crumbling that ALL of you also have Something that makes you feel the same way.

You’ve lost parents. You’ve worried about sick children. You’ve had medical scares and illnesses. You’re overcoming addictions and disorders. You have pasts you regret and futures you fear. You have moments of despair and faults you can’t forgive.  You have old loves who you now hate and also those people you hate to love. You have depression and anxiety. Your houses don’t feel like home and your homes are drowning you with stuff. You’ve felt forlorn and you cry.

So much of this list I write and can say, “me too”.

EVERYONE HAS SOMETHING

But everyone also has something that makes you feel !!!. You have pregnancies and newborns. You have new spouses and new loves. You have passion and LUST. You celebrate and entertain. You have children who melt you and friends who hold you high. You have new books and new dreams.  You have careers that fascinate you and hobbies that enlighten you.  You belly laugh and cry tears of joy.

And again, thankfully, Me Too.

This past year I have had my share of medical fears and scares, complete breakdowns and feeling total loss of control.  I’ve dubbed myself a bad mommy. Have worried myself sick. I’ve questioned just about every decision I’ve made as a mom.  But I’ve gotten through All Of It (and celebrated a whole lot of good too). Because of this place (and a little help from my dear husband of course).

This place that I come to each day.  That I spend (and waste) hours of my precious time.  This place that I try to explain to those who probably don’t REALLY want to understand.  This place is My Something.  My place to shed pounds of worry and anxiety. My place to pat myself on the back.  My place where I find comfort in confessing and being the Me that I want to be and that I want You to know.

In a year I’ve made more friends than I have in my lifetime.  Friends that I trust with my life stories.

And from one blog writer to another.  Who gets this place and doesn’t question me.  Just wants to know me.

Thank you.

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Yes

Yes.

It’s a hard word for me.

No comes much easier.

No requires less thought.  Less commitment. Less passion.

No you can walk away from.  No IS walking away.  No requires no change.

But yes, it pushes you forward.  Makes you take another step.  Let’s those you love jump ahead.

Yes is agreeing.  Yes is partnering. Yes is acceptance and devotion.  But Yes can be hard.  Yes can be Work.

Fourteen years ago I got a call from this guy.  This guy that I didn’t know, but had heard much about.  He asked me to go on a date. And without knowing how he looked, how he smiled, how he dressed, how he acted, I said Yes.  I said Yes to Hope after a few too many discouraging blind dates.  I said Yes to his sexy voice. His hearty laugh.  His guts to call.  I said Yes because my romantic heart felt Yes.  Even though my reasonable head was shouting No.  No would have been easy.  No would have been comfortable.  No would have been continuing As Is.  Yes was scary.  But Yes felt exciting.

And when we met, my Head joined my Heart.  And I felt Yes.

Ten years ago in a dimly lit bar at the same table we had sat on that First night together, full of questions, full of anticipation, full of hope, he held up a sign.  A sign created out of stubs.  Movie and concert stubs pasted together end to end forming angular letters and the words Will U Marry Me? (Although it seems he ran out of stubs for the question mark… or got lazy). From the day I said that first Yes, he had saved the movie and concert stubs from many of the events I had said Yes to.  He had saved them, so many of them. Romeo and Juliet.  Beavis and Butthead. Life is Beautiful. Enemy of the State. Saving Private Ryan. Erin Brokovich. The Bodeans.  There they all were.  And I studied the sign, stunned at those hard-to-make-out words and yelped a resounding Of Course (aka Yes).  One more step forward.  One more opportunity to show my faith in what felt right.  No would have kept us where we were.  No would have held us back.  No would have been calling it quits.

Nine years ago I walked down an aisle lined with the loves of my life.  Family and friends from our present and past as we said Yes to our future.  I walked down this aisle while Pachabel’s Canon sang around me.  The music sweetly playing in my head and my heart.  I saw that man ahead who I had promised my love to, and all of me screamed Yes.  He stood with that smile I had grown to adore, his hand outstretched to take my hand shaky with nerves.  We stood under the chuppah decorated with roses and hydrangea, the Long Island Sound sparkling behind us.  We looked back at our audience, all of whom had said Yes to this affair.  Yes to bare witness to our vows and celebrate our new life beside us.  And I looked at that guy, the One I had chosen to be my husband and (even after the hysteria of the totally messed up vows, thanks to a confused and forgetful Rabbi ), I said Yes.  I Do.  A promise to Yes.  Yes I will be there.  Yes I will support you, comfort you, dance with you, laugh with you.  For all time.

And since then, we have said Yes to babies. To new jobs.  To compromise.

Because Yes is a compromise. Often something else needs to become No when you say Yes.  But Yes brings smiles and No brings tears. Yes brings change and No is status quo. Yes catapults us forward where No keeps our feet stuck in the ground.

I’m not always good at Yes.  I get lazy and choose the easier route of No. But at this moment, as I sit outside with the sun shining on my face and look at this sign that Tim made ten years ago, I feel this desire for Yes.  This desire to continue bounding ahead.  Helping my kids move ahead. Letting go of old grudges, and making more possible.

Yes.

It may be harder, but it feels good to say Yes.

This was the last segment of Momalom’s Five For Ten.  The subject was YES inspired by our friend Aidan Donnelley Rowley‘s first novel Life After Yes, hitting stores TODAY (5/18.)  Five For Ten has been amazing.  Jen and Sarah from Momalom have been Rock Stars reading hundreds of posts over the past 10 days.  Please go check out their beautiful blog and read some of the other posts all about YES.

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Her lust

She walked into the dimly lit room, focused on the prize that lay in front of her.  Trying to make out the one she had been dreaming of through the crowds of people and excitement.  She could feel her heart pitter through her thin white t-shirt as her chest raised and lowered in anticipation of what was to come momentarily. She licked her lips. Pushed her hair behind her ears.  She wanted nothing in her way as her lips touched their destiny.  She walked slowly, purposefully, confidently toward the bar.  Only one stool remained.  She lowered herself to the seat, legs swinging beneath her.  Her selection, the one she had selected amid the variety of choices was finally within her reach.  She closed her eyes.  Giddy. Anticipating.  Would it let her down?  She had only dreamed of how it would feel as her lips touched.  Sweet. Cool, maybe wet to the touch.

As she pulled away, having had her first taste of the heaven she would continue to play with in her mind, she was not disappointed. She wiped the bit of juiciness that dripped from the side of her mouth.  She wanted more.  Begged for more.  She took a deep breath and went back for another taste of what would soon become an obsession.  This time she opened her eyes as her lips touched to fully enjoy the beauty, not just the taste and smell.

It was over.  The experience left her satisfied. Wondering if each time she would feel the same. If the other, different options would leave her feeling the same. The energy she felt only moments after she had swallowed the last of this sweetness was indescribable.  She wanted to keep her new passion to herself.  If she let others know, would it become less special?

She felt lucky.  Blessed.  Had other five year olds been in this spot?  Tasted the creamy goodness that she had?  Cold Stone.  Heaven on a cone.

This post was inspired by Momalom’s Five For Ten event.  The topic today was Lust.  Hop on over to Momalom for the other Lustful posts!

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Memory Do Over

I am obsessed with photographs.  Yes, I love taking pictures but really, where my passion sits is looking at them.  When I go home to my parents house within the hour I will be lying on my childhood bed, on my stomach flipping through old photo albums.  Photo albums with pictures that my dad took of me as an infant and child as well as books and boxes of pictures that I took through high school, college and beyond.  I am fascinated with comparing what I looked like at five to what Hannah looks like today.  I love the nostalgia that each picture from my younger years brings. I love remembering the magazine editorial that inspired my outfit.  Remembering what made me fall for that guy with his arm around me (what was his name anyway?).  Remembering who I’m looking at over the picture taker’s head.  I love putting myself back on that field hockey team, remembering the thrill of playing on that field.  I love recalling the bonds I had with my high school friends and blushing just recalling some of the embarrassing things we did.  I could spend HOURS at a time going through these photographs.  Just remembering.

And normally, the picture reminds me of how I FELT when that photo was taken.  I recall the reason for the big smile.  What happened to make me look worried.  The love that I thought I felt.  That’s what pictures are for.  To bring you back.  Help you relive that moment.  And feel the same way. Even if, for just a moment.

Rarely do you pick up a picture and when you look at it, you have a completely different feeling than you had when the picture was taken.

Rewind to September 6, 2007.  It was my first visit to the Reproductive Endocrinologist’s (aka Fertility specialist) office after my pregnancy blood test came back positive.  I should have been thrilled.  Jumping for joy.  Giddy beyond belief.  But I wasn’t.  I was scared. Worried. Cynical even.  Because this was my fifth positive result I had gotten in my 18 months of trying to become pregnant with my second baby.  The first three ended in miscarriage at 8 weeks.  The last ended up an ectopic pregnancy also resulting in “not pregnant”.  So I was reserving my excitement for AFTER this doctor’s visit.  The visit where I’d hear a heart beat.  The visit where the doctor would say, “Take a deep breath Becca.  This one is real.”

Tim and I walked hand in hand into the RE’s penthouse office in midtown Manhattan.  We weren’t speaking.  Tim knew I didn’t want to talk.  When I’m worried I like, no I NEED, quiet.  My hand in his was the only communication I could bare.  We were called into the small, brightly lit office where I disrobed and lay cold on the chair, legs in the stirrups, ready for the drill I had come all too familiar with.  The doctor came in and said, “OK, you ready?”

“Mmm Hmm”, I meekly responded and held my breath as he performed the internal ultrasound. All I could think as I lay with my eyes closed for a moment was, “Please let this have worked.  Please let the hundreds of fertility drug injections, bruises from the needles, IVF procedures and emotional roller coasters have been WORTH it.”

I turned to look at the screen. Knowing what I Should see if things were going according to “plan”.  I saw this:

Two.

Double.

Twins.

I looked at Tim who was glancing with his head cocked to the side at the screen.

“Is that what I think it is?”, Tim asked.

“Yes, you’ve got two there!” the doctor excitedly told us.

“Oh. My. God.” I said.  I was nauseous. I was supposed to be Ecstatic.  But I felt sick.  THIS was not the plan!  Two?  Twins? How the fuck was I going to do that? What about Hannah? How would I be able to give HER any attention with TWINS to look after?  Where would they sleep?  What kind of car would I need? Twins? Fuck.

Tim was so excited.  And I put on a good face.  Of course “happy” that it worked out and that it looked like I was going to have a baby but… I walked out of the office, clutching that picture in my hand, holding back the tears.  Shaking. Trying to make sense of it all.  Imagining what my life was going to be like.

I spent three more weeks in this numb state, trying to fit Twins into my brain.  And wondering how they’d fit into my life. How I’d EVER make it work. And then, at 8 weeks I was told that one of them didn’t make it.  It wasn’t as strong.  Wasn’t as healthy. Wasn’t growing at the right speed.  Was gone.

And, shamefully, I was relieved. I could focus again. I could imagine how this would work. Things were NOW going according to “plan”.  I could breathe. I’m embarrassed to admit all of this, but I needed to be able to picture “manageable” and twins didn’t fit that picture.  Surprisingly, I was the one consoling Tim.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I found this picture.  This picture of my Twins. This picture of not one miracle but two. This picture of what could have been.  This picture of Luke’s twin, maybe his best friend, maybe his missing piece.  I wonder if it’s a girl or a boy.  If it would have looked like Luke or more like me and Hannah. I wonder if it also would have loved dancing and blueberries.  If it also would have been slow speaking but as fast as lightning. I wonder. And I got choked up. I grasped the picture in that same fist I had on that beautiful September day in 2007, and this time, felt a totally different kind of sadness.

Over the span of two and a half year, this picture completely changed in meaning for me.  This memory means something totally different than it had. I fought sadness when it was taken because I was petrified and unhappy with how what I saw would turn my world upside down.  And yesterday, I felt tears well up because of how wonderful I believe life would have been had that twin lived. My memory of how I felt when that picture was taken did not match it’s meaning today.  And that is an odd feeling.  A surprising feeling. One that I’m not used to feeling as I flip through old pictures.

I like to reminisce with fondness.  Fondness that I looked happy.  Or fondness that I got over whatever made me look unhappy.  I don’t like to be disappointed by memories.  So, this memory, I’d like to do over.  I’d like to pretend I was overjoyed on September 6, 2007.  Overcome with emotion that not one but TWO babies were to be mine. And I’d like to now admit my sadness, not relief, that one did not make it and say it would have been wonderful.  We would have been happy…

Maybe not sane. But happy.

This has been part three of Five For Ten with Momalom.  The topic for this “installment” is Memory.  Please click on over to Momalom to read the other wonderful posts.

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Silent Moments

Words and conversation can make me happy.

But actions oftentimes say more.

Sometimes it’s just the look. The touch. The smell.

And the words just get in the way.

Walking along and feeling his hand naturally grab mine.

Lying asleep and feeling his good morning yet “unassuming” kiss on my cheek.

Standing tense and feeling his strong fingers knowingly rub my shoulders.

Opening the mailbox to find an unexpected card.

Looking across a bustling, uncomfortable room to see a familiar smile.

Walking into the house to surprisingly see a room neatly organized.

Sleepily climbing down the stairs and smelling freshly brewed coffee.

Feeling alone and reading a friend’s words of support.

Feeling scared and seeing the sincere look in his eyes of ,”it will be ok”.

Being unsure of everything, but knowing the head resting on my shoulder is assured by me.

Feeling the breath of my sleeping child in my neck.

Catching his wink across the crowded dinner table.

Feeling his strong arms guide me not so well across the dance floor.

Awakening to a wet nose and tongue and furry paws pressed against my face.

Accepting a small finger wiping away my tears.

Sharing real laughter when we don’t even know what made us laugh.

Seeing the pride in a 2 year old’s face after saying a word he knows mommy has been waiting to hear.

These small expressions, acts and moments that can come with silence

Bring joy to what is often an overly routine life.

Sometimes I expect too much happiness in my days

When really, all I need are moments.

Moments where I feel a smile creep across my face.

And those moments can be silent

Because the words so often can get in the way.

This is the second part of Momalom’s Five For Ten event.  Our topic for today was Happiness.  Stop on over at Momalom to read the other amazing perspectives on this topic!

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I cried

Just today I have cleaned up 63 small Matchbox, HotWheels and other assorted cars 4 times. Back into the case only to be overturned moments later.  I also have moved the kitchen chairs from the laundry room and family room 3 times. The chair was in the laundry room because Hannah was trying to reach the bag of My Little Pet Shops that I hid on the top shelf because of her poor behavior. She reached them but they spilled all over the floor.  Pieces everywhere.  77 pieces.  I counted.

The dishes are once again overflowing in the kitchen sink.

Pajamas are in the downstairs bathroom along with soup bowls and plastic spoons from the kitchen.

Pieces of ripped paper and broken crayons are sprayed around the family room floor.  Two of the crayons are half chewed and soggy from the dog deciding they were lunch.

I just stepped on a wooden stamp that pierced my big toe.  There’s a thermometer on the kitchen counter from taking both kids temperature with hopes that they are finally healthy after too many weeks of who-knows-what sickness.

I left the house earlier with both kids in tow to return two movies to the library.  I hadn’t known movies are only allowed out for four days so they were both 4 days late.  $2.00 that I didn’t need to spend and a sad daughter that the late charges were on HER new card.

I left the library with a screaming son because he wanted to participate in a mommy and me song class that we are not signed up for.  I wasn’t able to explain to a two year old what “not signed up for means”. I also left the library with a complaining five year old that she was STARVING so I spontaneously decided on MacDonalds across the street.  Hannah didn’t get the toy she wanted in her Happy Meal and stomped her feet in anger.  Luke wanted to drive his Happy Meal car on the table next to us occupied by a homeless man.  Hannah wanted to know what was wrong with the Homeless man.  Why was he sleeping on the bench?  She wouldn’t take, “I’m not sure” for an answer.

My starving five year old didn’t want to eat her lunch.  She wasn’t hungry for “that”. “Sometimes when you’re hungry mommy, you don’t know what your hungry for until you’re eating it and realize it wasn’t for THAT.”

We left in a huff.  Only to find the meter maid writing me a ticket for my car parked five minutes too long.  My pleading got me no where.  The bright orange ticket was already printed.

I put both kids in their car seats, wiped their runny, mucousy noses and buckled them safely.

And then I cried.  In front of both kids, hands over my face.  I cried tears of exhaustion. Tears of desperation.  Real, Sobbing tears.

“Mommy, what’s wrong?  Mommy, tell me what’s wrong so I can help you.” said Hannah from the back seat reaching her hand toward me.

“I’m just tired Hannah.  Just tired.”

“So mommy, let’s just go home and rest.  I’ll read you a story, and you can rest.”

Rest.  How I wish I could just rest.  Without messes.  Without fights.  Without sickness.  Without worry.  Just rest.

I wish it could be so easy.  I wish Something could be so easy.

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The Courage to Live

I am participating in Momalom’s fantastic event called Five For Ten where for the next ten days I’ll be writing about different topics along with an amazing group of bloggers.  The first topic is courage.  Please click on the Five For Ten button to read some of the other amazing posts on this topic!

I am not courageous. I’m really not. I have far too many fears and hang-ups to ever describe myself that way. I’m afraid of speaking my mind. Afraid of sickness. Afraid of people not liking me. Offending people. Screwing my kids up. Losing someone close to me. Walking around with my skirt tucked into my undies. (Serious concern people!). I wish I could say I’m courageous but there isn’t even ONE example I can give that would label me that way. I got into all 13 colleges I applied to because I didn’t have enough courage to apply to a real “reach” school. There are situations in my life that make me miserable, and they will forever, because I don’t have the courage to speak up about them. Enough said.

But as I sit here thinking about courage, I wonder if ANYONE would describe themselves as courageous. It’s not usually a description that we tag OURSELVES with. Maybe a “risk taker” or “savvy”, or “fly by the seat of our pants type”, but courageous? I believe it’s a word more often used to describe OTHERS. When you ask someone how they ever got the nerve to do something, rarely do they say, “Well, I’m just brave!” No, more often they say, “I don’t know, I just did it. I didn’t think twice.” or, “I didn’t have a choice.” The few times people have told me (usually in a comment on a post I’ve written) that I was courageous to write the words I wrote, I usually, think, “Oh shit, I was probably nuts to write that! I’m going to end up offending someone.” and I then cowardly, take the post down.

I have however, taken risks. But I think there’s a big difference between Courage and Bravery vs someone who takes risks. To me, Courage comes from the heart. From a place of Good. Being a risk taker is more a description of your physical nerve and less emotional.

For example, I’ve skied down off-trail slopes that any other sane 15 year old wouldn’t have dared to. I’ve jumped off 30 foot cliffs into quarries. Smart? Not so much. I didn’t put much thought into these decisions… just did them because they seemed like fun. Risky. Not brave. I wasn’t doing anyone any good by doing these dare-devily things… I just did them to say that I did. For a high five. Brave would be jumping in after a 15 year old had hit her head on a rock in the quarry to save her. Brave would be having fallen skiing and seriously injured myself, only to come back after months of therapy, even if only on the bunny slope. Courage is finding it within yourself to face something that usually brings you fear or brings MOST people fear.

Soldiers, Fire fighters, Police Officers, Rescue workers – all courageous. Because they know the risks, have calculated the risks, but their passion and their heart drives them to face danger. Would they describe themselves as Courageous? Doubtful. They just wouldn’t know any other way. I hold these people up on a pedestal. I honor them. Am impressed by them. Am awed by them.

But I am impressed even more by another type of Courage. The fighting kind of courage.

I think of my 96 year old grandmother as a Fighter. Not the demographic that I’d normally apply the word Courageous to. No, she didn’t dive in front of a pedestrian and save her from an oncoming bus. No, she didn’t overcome a life threatening illness or a childhood filled with abuse. No, she certainly wouldn’t say she has courage. But she is 96. She can’t hear very well. She forgets words. She can’t control her bowels or her bladder. She falls asleep in the middle of a conversation. It takes her forever to get from point A to point B. And she feels like she’s a burden. We’d never describe her that way, but she feels that way.

But she gets up every morning alone and faces her day with strength. She throws her little legs over the side of the bed, holds onto her walker and shuffles to the bathroom. She gets dressed, reads the paper, makes herself tea and visits with her friends. She may only hear a fifth of what they say, but she still stays in their company. Still goes to the dining room for meals instead of staying alone in her room because Living isn’t being alone. As scary as leaving her room may be.

She’s not happy every day. She’s uncomfortable. She’s tired. She is lonely living in her own head without being able to hear what others are saying. She counts the minutes until my mom arrives for her daily visit and when my mom leaves, starts counting until the next one.

She is so brave to push on with her life not ever having an idea what the day in front of her will look like. I often wonder if she takes a deep breath at the start of each day and says, “Ok, here we go again…” because really, her days can’t look much different from one to the next. But the days that DO look different, the days where I come with the kids for a visit ,or the days when she can get dressed up for a special Chinese dinner with my parents, or her home’s dining room hosts “A Night in Paris” theme, THESE are the days that make all the fighting worth it. And the thought of seeing Hannah in her first grade play or Luke ride his bike for the first time? This is why she has the Courage to continue to take her two dozen pills each day, have someone help her take a shower and why she’s willing to sit quietly at the dinner table watching her friend’s mouths move and see the look of laughter in their eyes without knowing quite WHY they are laughing. This is why she doesn’t Give Up. She wants to Be Around. Witness the blooming around her.

Nana doesn’t take risks. I’m quite sure she NEVER took risks even in her youth. But she’s damn full of Courage. Courage to ask people around her for help. Courage to face each day head on and continue to be the compassionate, loving, witty, interesting, interested lady she has always been. Courage to still dress with style asking my mom to buckle her shoes, clasp her beautiful necklace, and tie her scarf.

To me, that’s what courage is about. Unearthing something within your heart… that compels you to act even in the face of adversity because you know in the end, it can only be beneficial. Beneficial for you OR for others. But if you have to say, “Hey look at me! I’m courageous!” then really, it’s not courage at all.

I’m not courageous. I’m too scared to be courageous. But I’m inspired by others’ courage.

Especially my Nana.

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