Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Scary and not fun

Alec is in Dallas this morning, and off to Berlin later today. Yes, Germany. Which makes my morning routine very exhausting and rushed no matter what time I get myself out of bed.

It was all going fine - girls were dressed and finishing their breakfast - until the critical moment we had to leave. Suddenly Lauren became a whiny mess who couldn't put on her own coat or backpack while I struggled to get Lindsay into her parka. "Get on your coat...I don't care if it's zipped," I snapped in my drill-sergeant voice, "Put on your backpack, get out the door!" I had Lindsay tucked under one arm with her parka, and the other opened the trunk and unfolded the stroller. "Coat!" Lindsay said. "Yes, I know we have to put on your coat," I said dryly.

"Mom, I need help zipping up."

I put Lindsay's coat on and tucked her into the stroller, zipping and buckling as one motion. "You really need to be a little more independent," I scolded as I struggled with her zipper.


"Hey, it's Seamus!"

"Stay here, Seamus, I will be back to feed you in a few minutes." I said, pushing the stroller, "Come on, Lauren, we have to hustle or you'll miss the bus."

We made it to the stop with chatting time to spare. Just as the bus pulled to the stop a block away, Seamus walked into the middle of the street.

"Oh my gosh," said one of the dads, "Whose cat is that?"

"Mine," I replied. "Seamus! Get out of the street!" I parked the stroller and ran out into the intersection, scooping up the cat.

"He's sure dressed for Halloween," the dad said.

Of course, now I have a freaking out cat, a kid to put on the bus, and another kid to somehow get home in her stroller. I verbally ushered Lauren on the bus as Seamus finally struggled free and ran back across the street, fortunately traffic still was stopped for the bus, and made his way home.

As he followed me inside, he had the irrepressible arrogant air of a teenage boy. I was really hungry, he meowed.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Just words

The day my parents brought my little sister home, I crept into her room to watch her sleep. She came home from the hospital dressed in a white onesie with little yellow duckies on it with matching booties on her teeny feet. I leaned my chin against the rail of the crib and watched her sleep for a long time, inhaling the scent of powder that hung on the air. I remember feeling she was fragile, and there was some risk she wasn't a permanent fixture in our lives.

She was a scrawny baby with barely any blonde hair atop her head and huge blue eyes. Her first two years were marked with diagnoses I didn't understand at age 12. She spat up every meal and wasn't gaining enough weight.

My most concrete memories of her were when she was 2 or 3 and used to like to dress up in pink and purple, a little blur of sandy ringlets. She was so girly, like a little doll. The sister I'd always wanted.

She was 6 years old when I told her it wouldn't be long before I went away to college. She cried angry tears at me. "You..." She searched for the worst word she could think of, "...bug," she erupted.

I went away to college. I got married. I moved to the Midwest and settled in New York. She was 14 when she came down to spend time with Alec and I in our little apartment, singing Brittney Spears songs. We laughed and laughed. My brothers are really funny people. My sister is genuinely the funniest person I know.

We spent a few days together when Lauren was about 5 weeks old when I basically ran away from my life for a week, overwhelmed by motherhood, seeking refuge with my mom and my grandmother. It was a few months after she had a terrible car accident and had wrapped her car around a telephone pole. She seemed different, but we watched her run and she smiled and carried baby Lauren around to meet her friends.

It is a lifetime ago.

Lauren's lifetime.

I just wish she could find peace in her life. I want her to live her dreams, whatever they are. Because the idea of a world without her is far too dark for me to even imagine.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Better parenting

One of my dear friends once said that a lot of parenting is an effort to re-parent ourselves - to correct the wrongs of our parents so that each generation is a little smarter, better than the last. He doesn't have children. I add that, not because I think he's wrong, but because it provides some context. In the real world, not every parenting decision falls into this category. A lot of my parenting is down-and-dirty, split second decision-making. I do the best I can. Sometimes it isn't good enough.

I'm going to take a breath here and say this is just an observation. If you happen to be my parent you can probably take this very personally and decide never to speak to me again, but that would really suck so I hope you don't.

The single-most failure of my parents' parenting was in preparing me to have adult relationships. I don't know if they thought they'd have more time to accomplish that and the ill-timed failure of their relationship got in the way, that it was someone else's job (the school), or since no one taught them it was something that I was supposed to learn on my own.

When I was seventeen, I took my first trip to Planned Parenthood. One of my high school friends had just had a pregnancy scare and I decided I didn't want to be in that position. I didn't discuss this with my parents, as I didn't discuss any of the other details with them either. The boyfriend I was with was not my first lover. At that time, you could buy up to 12 months worth of pills directly from them. I bought 6 month's worth because that was how much cash I had on me when I was there. When I got home, I put the box in my bottom drawer under some clothes and put the current pack in my top drawer so I'd remember to take them every morning.

Although it wasn't the usual for my mother to put away my laundry, she claimed she found the pack in my top drawer this way. She screamed. Why had I done this without talking to her first. Didn't I know about the horrible side effects of the Pill? I was too young to be having sex!

I don't think I engaged her in this conversation. I listened to her scream for a while, and then I said coldly, "I'm not talking about this with you. If you want to ground me, that's fine...but I really don't have anything to say."

She threw the pack of pills on the table. "Fine."

We never spoke again about it.


Why did I do it without talking to her? We'd had exactly one previous conversation about sex when I was 12. She seemed terribly uncomfortable. I already knew the details, and this conversation was just Hell. When I'd asked her about sex when I was 9, she refused to talk about it, so the awkward conversation 3 years later just sent along the message that she was not someone to talk to.

Did I know about the horrible side effects? Yes. A doctor informed me of some pretty mild side effects as juxtaposed with having an abortion or being a teen mom. I also knew that while condom use protected well against sexually transmitted diseases, it wasn't most effective at preventing pregnancy. I thought, and of course this is some chip-on-my-shoulder teenage impetuousness, that I was making a pretty responsible choice.

Was I too young to be having sex? Probably. I was already doing that though, so it seemed like a dumb topic.

What would I have said to my seventeen year old?

This is the hard one. I'd imagine the teenagers are interested in sex earlier than that these days. I'd like to think I'm not coming off to my girls as being unapproachable (though did my mom think the same thing?).

I'd probably still ask if she was having any side effects from the pill, because they can be common and there are so many formulations now that you can try if one doesn't agree with you. I'd remind her that while the Pill protects from pregnancy, it doesn't against sexually transmitted diseases - the most common of which can be symptom-free in women. I'd say that respect is very important in sexual relationships and to make sure she was being both respected and respectful. Beyond that, I don't know. I probably need to figure it out, because I'll probably have to have this conversation twice.

Friday morning

Some mornings I drive Alec to the train station. On the way back, Lindsay and I discuss which animals say what.

"What does the kitty say?"


"What does the cow say?"


We drove to Target this morning to buy paper goods. As I went to take Lindsay out of the car seat she said, "Crackers?"

"No, honey. We've got to go into the store."

She put on her biggest, fake-est cry. Then she slapped the top of her head and pulled her own hair.


What IS that?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Picking the perfect pumpkin and other alliterative adventures

"I'd like a thermos made out of steel, like that one Nicole has..."

"Oh, ok. We can get one at Target the next time we're there."

"I think we should pay for it."


"I think we should not steal it."

"Oh, I see you're pointing out that steel, the metal, and steal, take something sound the same."


"That's called a homonym."


"Yes. Homonyms sound the same, but are spelled differently and have different meanings."


Monday, October 08, 2007

Sunday's soccer game

That's Lauren kicking the ball. Andrew is mostly obscured by Ely, and Paul is standing on the right.

I don't know who those two moms are in the background wearing white shirts and jeans. They look buff though.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

As part of my campaign

I'll let you know right now that it did flit through my head yesterday morning that I couldn't remember how many diapers I'd been through the day before. I usually tote around 3-5 of them and a package of wipes. Not those polite little recyclable containers, because I find they don't dispense moist wipes at critical moments.

It was a particularly stinky mess I'd cleaned up when I reached into the diaper bag and drew back empty handed. "Oh no." I said.

"What's up," Karen asked from the kitchen.

"No diapers." I was thinking, oh right, one change at the gym, two at Kim's yesterday. Three diapers gone.

"Oh," Karen said casually, "No problem. I might have some."

Karen is the quintessential hostess, so it would not surprise me if she did have a package of diapers even though her baby is nearly seven in the same way that my Gramma Jean (whose birthday is today - Happy Birthday, Gramma!) always has several different brands of cigarettes tucked away in her freezer in case you should run out even though she hasn't smoked since she was in her thirties.

"No," she said. "I'll just send Chris to get some at CVS."

The menfolk with Ross in tow went to get some diapers while we kept Lindsay in the kitchen. Karen was preparing salads for dinner and I was enjoying a beverage. Lindsay splashed happily in Pixie's water dish.

"I can move them if you'd like," I said.

"No need." Karen replied. "There's not much damage a little bit of water's going to do to the kitchen."

Lindsay wandered back and peed on the floor a couple of inches from my feet. "Oh, I see we didn't make it to diapers." As I stood up, I noticed that she'd also fertilized the floor. "Oh no." I said. "Poop."

"No problem," Karen said. We cleaned the mess together with paper towels. She sprayed the floor with some Method cleaner and all was right with the world, until we realized that poop had just been a distraction.

Why yes, that is my naked toddler giving herself a beer bath in a puddle of cat water.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Another day, another Mommy driveby

Lindsay has learned when we approach a counter when doing errands that she gets a lot of attention if she says "Hi!" loudly. She's reluctant to say "Bye!" although she can. Sometimes she gives a little waves, but oftentimes she just sort of stares.

It's a beautiful autumn day here - the leaves are starting to fall from the trees in shades of tan, yellow, and orange, and it's a humid 75 degrees. Lindsay's dressed in a pink t-shirt and a floral skort (skirt with shorts underneath).

As I was signing the "I don't want to talk to the pharmacist" paperwork for the 3 prescriptions I was picking up, an elderly man began talking to Lindsay.

"Why don't you have on your shoes?"

I didn't turn to acknowledge the speaker, because he hadn't asked me a question. I could've explained that she just takes off her shoes and that she'd managed to lose one of her shoes (purchased at Nordstrom) 2 weeks ago when the weather was cool enough to worry about socks. I took a step back so that I could keep Lindsay in my line of sight, but continued signing forms.

"It's silly that you don't have shoes on! A baby needs shoes!"

I handed the cashier my credit card.

"Your feet must be cold. Is that why you're holding them?"

I picked up the pen to sign my receipt.

"What's he got on his eye? A stye?"

"She has a hemangioma." I replied with my back to him, as I handed the cashier my receipt. "Thank you," I said as pleasantly as I could muster to the cashier.

"Bye bye," the man said to Lindsay flapping his hand at her. She stared back. "He doesn't say much does he?"

I narrowed my eyes at him and left without a word.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

From her highchair perch

"Daddy? Mama? Daddy? Mama? Wuv ooh."