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Monday, August 8th, 2011
I used to get high on travel by doing things like climbing Mt Kilimanjaro or driving around Iceland. How far I’ve fallen since becoming a mom. Now my biggest source of excitement (particularly when going away alone) includes black out shades, central air and a soft puffy bed. Ahhh…the joys of a comfy hotel room.
I basked in that luxury this past weekend in San Diego. I was at the big BlogHer convention where 3000 women—many of them moms–left the husbands and diapers behind to descend upon the town.
I’ll admit I was a bit hesitant to go. Parents asked me if I would be their “blogger” representative, and of course I said yes. But the closer the time came, the more I got in my head. Who will I hang out with? What is my purpose in going? All strange thoughts, considering I’m one of the most social people I know. But since I’m a newbie to this blogger world I did have some insecurity (though as my husband points out, not something that is typical of my personality. He begs me to be more humble). There is also this fear that a bunch of women thrown together will equal petty behavior, cliques, jealousy, gossip, etc. Especially because if we’re all bloggers aren’t we all competitors too?
I couldn’t have been more surprised. It was just the opposite. Granted, I’m only speaking for myself and my experiences, but I found the women I met to be open, gracious, generous and excited to welcome me to their world.
I am especially grateful to my old friend Liz Gumbinner, many of you know as Mom-101. She took me under her wing, invited me to a bunch of fun dinners, and got me out dancing past 1 a.m. (Click here to see her pictures).
Not only that, but the women kicking it up on the dance floor thought of this brilliant idea: a purse circle. By the end of the night it was a huge pile of purses all safely placed under the watchful eyes of “moms gone wild.”
The Purse Circle
At any rate, I met amazing people, got completely inspired by the women there, and stayed out WAY past my bedtime. When I did crash, I had that lovely hotel room to come back to–with blackout shades that allowed me to sleep in. Heavenly. A far cry from my Africa adventures, but in many ways, just as rewarding.
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blogger, bloggers, blogher, conference, dancing, hotel, hotel room, mom, mom 101, mommy bloggers, moms, relax, relaxing, travel, travel without baby | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations
Tuesday, July 19th, 2011
Last week I wrote about my irrational anger at everyday noises. Anything that stands in the way of Fia’s nap sets me off. So I came up with a solution. She now naps in our downstairs bathroom–in her stroller. It’s the only dark windowless room in our house. I turn on the ventilation fan, strap her in, and boom, she’s out within seconds. I can get anywhere from 1-3 hours.
I bank on this time. It’s how I get stuff done.
So it came with extreme irritation and fury when just 30 minutes into her nap Phil came downstairs and yanked open the bathroom door. I was on the phone and mouthed the biggest WTF???? my lips would do, throwing my arm in the air with exasperation. He of all people knows better. He mouthed something angrily back. I hung up my call to the sound of a cry.
?!$#?&%! YOU WOKE HER UP! I shouted, ready to spit I was so pissed.
“IT SMELLS LIKE NATURAL GAS IN THE UPSTAIRS BATHROOM!!!” (which is right above the one she naps in) he yelled back, as he gently picked her out of the stroller with a hug. “I WAS MAKING SURE IT WASN’T DOWN HERE!!” We sounded like the Costanza’s.
Seething, I stormed past them both, went upstairs, and boom the smell hit me like a dozen rotten eggs. It was one of those moments where I knew he was right. And should be touched by his protective nature. For god’s sakes…you don’t mess with gas. It can kill.
Yet, somewhere inside, a voice was still saying, “But did you have to open the bathroom door so loudly??”
I sulked downstairs, knowing my to-do list would stay to-do. I couldn’t bring myself to apologize. I was still fuming. “I’ll call the management company,” I said tersely.
They told us to put a fan in the upstairs bathroom and call them back in 45 minutes if the smell persisted. (Great advice by the way. Seriously?)
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anxiety, baby napping, baby naps, baby sleeping, dark, irrational anger, mom, mom solution, nap, sleep, sleep deprivation, stroller, stroller naps | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips
Monday, July 11th, 2011
As she lay dying, I spoke to her on the phone. I told her that it was okay to go. That she would live on through me and Fi.
I told my mom’s sister how much Fia loves sautéed spinach.“Your mom loved that growing up. We’d call her Popeye,” she said. I cringed. Dear lord, please give Fia the good genes from her. Like love of spinach and not crack.
It’s not that my mom didn’t have some amazing traits. In her early years she was smart and beautiful. Kind and colorful. But that was then. In her darkest days her childhood friends would shake their heads and tell me, “Everyone in high school wanted to be Suzy Newlon. Such a shame.” We’d all look down and mumble awkwardly in agreement.
Five decades of alcohol and drug abuse—including picking up a crack habit when she was 62-years-old—a few suicide attempts and a clear-cut diagnosis of bipolar—didn’t really give her a fighting chance.
One recent Christmas she went around her Florida condo complex with a 20-foot ladder. She climbed up the trees and spray-painted the coconuts red. It was an instant hit. On another Christmas she tried to kill herself by jumping off a parking garage.
I truly believe some people are born to conquer addiction while others are just born to stay addicts.
Last year at 64, her life had become desperately depressing and tragic. I rarely spoke to her. Neither did my siblings. But then a miracle occurred.
She had an intestinal rupture and went septic. Almost died. Ended up on life support. And while her health slowly deteriorated, her life got surprisingly better.
For the next 11 months she was mostly confined to a hospital bed. She had psychiatrists who tweaked and tweaked her mental meds. She had hot meals and an entire staff at her beck and call. She was the queen bee and basked in her royal treatment.
“I love it here. I can order a milkshake at 3 in the afternoon,” she’d tell me in her southern drawl.
The next day she would complain that the chicken was dry.
“Mom, this is a hospital, not the Four Seasons,” I’d remind her on the phone.
“I know that, but how hard is it to cook chicken right?”
I’d roll my eyes; secretly glad she was even complaining. In the past, depressive days meant curling up “in the ball” on her couch and refusing to speak to anyone.
At least now we knew where she was and that she was safe. It was also finally safe to bring Fi down to meet her. A hospital—germs and all– is far more sterile than her living conditions had become over the years. And I knew what I was getting: glimpses of the mom I had in childhood; when she was a superstar. Cool, fun, unconditionally loving.
Over this past year almost every trip down she was alert and attentive. She couldn’t get enough of Fi. This is a woman who had missed so much of my life. My wedding, my pregnancy, the birth of my daughter. We were both getting a second chance.
She would tell me how much Fia reminded her of me when I was little. I’d relish the stories. And feel relief that (so far) it seems Fia has much more of me in her genes than her grandmother. I can only pray the ones she does have from either of us are the good ones.
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addiction, bipolar, death, death of a parent, depression, drugs, flowers, genes, hospital, life support, lilac, lilacs, Losing a Parent, losing mom, mom, mom dying, traits | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Losing a Parent, Must Read
Monday, July 11th, 2011
We’d communicate through lilacs. That’s what my mom and I decided on my last visit to see her.
We debated between them and hyacinths. But she was the expert. She ran a successful plant and flower business for years– until her demons got the best of her. I trusted her instincts on this one. Plus, she reminded me, we had a big one in our yard growing up–and that my favorite color was lavender.
A week later I got the call. Her time was running out. There were probably only hours left.
I went desperately seeking a lilac bush. It was early June and I knew the season had passed. But surely there must still be one in bloom.
I found one with two blooms hanging on. They were past their perfect purple color, on the brink of death. But I could still close my eyes and inhale. I called my mom. Her caregiver put the phone to her ear.
“Mom, I’m standing here in the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I’m smelling a lilac.” I heard a small moan. I went on to describe the setting. I could sense her smile. In life, nature was where she found peace and perfection. Nature could also survive the storms. She had too–for better or worse—until now.
“Remember to find me. Every year I will wait for them to bloom. And I’ll know you’re here with me,” I said through tears.
I heard a deep breath and sigh.
“I just wanted to make sure we have our plan in place,” I continued. “That you won’t forget.” My voice remained strong. For many years, I was the mother to my mother. This day was no exception.
“You can go now.”
I hung up the phone. That was the last time I spoke to her. She died two days later on June 7, 2011.
So now I wait until next spring when we talk again.
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call, communicate through flowers, death, death of a parent, flowers, lilac, lilacs, mom, mom dying, phone | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Losing a Parent, Must Read
Sunday, June 26th, 2011
I’m pretty blown away by all the comments we’ve received (and I say that collectively, because many of us are commenting on each others comments as well). These three posts over the course of one week have caused quite a stir. We’ve had the good, bad and ugly.
I bow to so many of you for commenting in such eloquent, meaningful ways. Everything from sharing your story as a SAHM because your child has autism, seizures and cancer (there were a few of you and my heart goes out to how brave and strong you are. Those are not easy cards to be dealt. For me, unimaginable)– to those who feel privileged to be at home or at an office working. Or at home working. It sounds like for most of us, the arrangements we have fit our lifestyle. And that judgment isn’t necessary. Yet we do it anyway.
Why is it so hard not to judge? I have to catch myself all the time. Even the way I judge other members of my family or my neighbors–even my friends. I don’t know why it is human nature to feel superior. But for many of us, it is. Perhaps it’s insecurity or justification, but sometimes it just comes down to thinking your way is right and others are wrong. Why can’t it be that your way is right and other people’s ways are also right? It’s a work in progress for me.
I think the other theme I picked up on, particularly from the SAHMs is the lack of recognition they receive. And again, why is it that we feel such a need? Is it because the working people of the world get a tangible reward, i.e.: a pay raise, a compliment or a trophy? I know we moms get our kisses and hugs, which in many ways mean so much more, but it IS hard to not be recognized by your peers, your husband, your family when the job your doing is exhausting, and at times, thankless.
I took Fia to my in-laws this spring (a plane ride away), by myself. My husband was on a deadline. I went for two reasons: so that they could see her and so we could both be pampered. Yet, I was fishing for compliments from my husband on how above-and-beyond I was going.
“My mom friends told me how cool it is for me to be flying Fia to Wisconsin to see your parents.”
“But you want to go,” he replied, seeming puzzled.
“I know, but still don’t you think what I’m doing is pretty great?”
“Yeah, I love that you’re doing it, but it’s also benefiting you.”
Not exactly the response I was looking for. But in all honesty, I had 24 hour childcare (oh no, here we go again with that bad word. Kidding), time to write, workout, and just hang out and relax. It was great. Why do I feel like I needed to be recognized as a hero? To be told I’m wife and daughter-in-law of the year?
These are all questions we can continue to ask each other and ourselves. Let’s just try and be kind about it. Like I said in one of my comments, you catch more bees with honey than vinegar…. Plus, it tastes better too.
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baby, babysitters, being a mom, diaper, diaper bag, judgment, judgmental, judgmental moms, lack of recognition, mom, motherhood, recognition | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, The Sitter Chronicles