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Posts Tagged ‘grandchildren’

Are you ready to hate me?

I’m fairly confident that most people leave my blog feeling grateful that they are not me. But not this time. T and I just took a 3 day vacation with no kids! (Yes, 3 days is a vacation.) My extremely awesome and helpful parents took on the kiddos for an extended weekend so T and I could escape to Block Island, RI for his birthday.

Have you been to Block Island? If not, go. We had never been, but are now planning to visit at least annually, eventually own a house, and create lifetime memories for our family. After years of searching, we feel like we found our place.

Unless we were eating, drinking, sleeping or kayaking, we were on our bikes. (I’m sore in all sorts of places, many of which are unmentionable.) That baby seat on the back of my bike? Perfect for toting picnics, towels, bottles of wine and other assorted goods including several rocks I fell in love with at the beach and later discarded in our hotel bathroom. (Sorry about that, Hotel.)

T’s birthday dinner began with drinks and tapas in Adirondack chairs over looking gently rolling hills, dotted with a few goats, some llamas and a camel that almost made me snarf my prosecco.

We then moved indoors and indulged in a prix fixe meal which included 2 apps, an entree and dessert each. That’s 4 appetizers! On top of the 2 tapas we had outside and all the olives in the martinis. Did I mention the basket of assorted homemade breads with the most delicious fresh butter ever? The meal was amazing and it’s a good thing we had biked all day.

Scallops, roasted corn & sweet potato crisp on the left. Salad of fresh greens, flowers and herbs, all from the restaurant's garden, on the right. OMG.

Meanwhile, the kids had a wonderful time with their grandparents and T and I didn’t have to worry about them at all. So, do you hate me now?

Safety first in the kitchen

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It’s Mother’s Day – a day when we give and receive flowers and chocolate as a way of saying thanks for something that is impossible to properly say thanks for. Where to begin when thanking and appreciating your mother? Thanks for enduring all the discomforts of pregnancy, and sorry I kept kicking you in the bladder? Also, sorry I didn’t come out on time and you had to be pregnant for way too long. Oh, and thanks for giving birth. You did a bang-up job and I appreciate all that effort. And all those nights when I cried?Sorry about that.

Is it possible to begin there and still manage to properly thank a woman who still cares for me and helps me all the time and has for 35 years? Of course not. The only way to properly appreciate a mother is to become a mother yourself. Even then, it’s impossible really. Now I get the pregnancy, birth, late nights etc, but I still can’t properly appreciate her for the teen years, the 20’s, and as a grandmother. Trust me, my mom needs A LOT of appreciation for those teen years. Sorry about all that, Mom.

A couple of months ago my mother watched my two kids for 5 days, after gifting T and I enough airline miles to get us to Puerto Rico for a vacation. How freaking amazing is that? I can’t imagine surviving motherhood without her help. She has 5 grandchildren and has a real relationship with each one. Each child knows and loves Grandma, trusts Grandma completely as a caregiver. Lucky Grandma is close enough to these kids that she sees the real (read: bad) them that is usually reserved just for parents. How do you thank someone for that? For loving your kids?

The answer is you don’t. Such is the nature of motherhood. There is no possible way to thank, appreciate or repay my mother. So, all I can say is: Thanks, Mom. I know you spent so much time caring for and worrying about me. I kept you on your toes and certainly didn’t do anything to make your job at all easy. But I turned out OK. Thanks to you. Your unwavering love and support gave me the chance to go out and explore, because I knew I could (and would) always come back in the end. Now I have my own little hard-headed child and I can begin to see just how annoying challenging I was. Hopefully he’ll keep his authority-defiance to a minimum and I won’t have to suffer all the calls from principals and camp directors that you did.

You’re so freaking good at this mom-thing that you make the rest of us look bad. Happy Mother’s Day!

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As I type this my kids are nearly 100 miles away from me. I’m not talking in the figurative sense – as in I’ve reached some awesome meditative state and/or plugged them into Sprout and I’m looking at the bottom of my second glass of wine – but in the literal sense. As in they are an hour and a half away from me. Sounds pretty good, right? Wait. It gets better. Very, very early tomorrow morning, T and I will get up (happily) and hop on a flight for a 5 day trip to Puerto Rico. No kids. Just us.

The point of this post isn’t to gloat over my amazing luck, but to give a massive shout out to my spectacularly awesome parents. Not only are they looking after the kids while we’re away, but as a gift to T for his last birthday, my mom gave him enough airline miles to get us our tickets to PR.

So, if you want to know what the best mother on Earth looks like, that’s it. She’s the mom who takes her kid’s kids, and sends her kid and husband away for a vacation together. Don’t bother trying to be the best mom in the world, that spot is already occupied by my mom.

Thank you, Mom!!!

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Had surgery on right index finger this morning. Debating leaving in all typos, or simply leaving out the letters yuhjnm altogether. Either way = unintelligible.

examples:

jere us keavung un akk tyois

ere is leavig ot tose letters.

Anyway, that’s not what I came here to talk about. I came to talk about what kids do to you. Before kids, on a day I was having surgery I’d be thinking mostly about myself. Today, though, my thoughts as usual were about L and my surgery was just an enormous inconvenience.

L has an infection in one of his toes. I first noticed the toe looking red last Monday. By Tuesday afternoon the toe was 2-3 times its normal size and bright red. I took him to the pediatrician who prescribed antibiotics. By Thursday morning the toe was absolutely horrifying. Huge beyond belief, red, with white dots all over it and an enormous white and purplish section under the nail. Poor L was limping and in agony. Back to the Dr who prescribed a second, stronger antibiotic and took a culture to find out wtf it was. (Getting the culture was terrible. A nurse and I had to use significant force to restrain L while the Dr pricked his toe and L screamed like I’ve never heard before.)

The Dr said that if it wasn’t improved by morning, that the next step would be to sedate L, make an incision and drain the toe (sorry this is so gross). Well, the next morning was this morning. Where I had to leave the house at 7AM for my own surgery, leaving L and S with my mom. My parents arrived late last night and we strategized about what we’ll do if L has to go to the hospital. If all was well, my mom would stay with the kids and my dad (a Dr) and T would come with me. If all was bad, T and my dad would go with L, we’d beg someone to take S, and my mom would come with me. It killed me to think of L going through this without me there.

I briefly saw L’s toe before leaving this morning and it looked a little better, or at least not any worse, although it still looked pretty awful. We left it all in my mom’s hands. Poor Grandma, this morning was her first time seeing the toe and it’s a frightening sight, and now it’s her responsibility.

L on my mind up to the last second before anesthesia knocks me out.

As I’m coming to, in partial delirium, I  overhear T and my dad talking about toes and things getting worse. I try to shake off the anesthesia. My mom has called and she thinks the toe is worse.  She’s wants to call the pediatrician. I will myself coherent.

I HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE HOSPITAL NOW AND GET HOME TO MY BABY!

Very frustratingly I have to wait an hour before discharge.

In the end, I get home and find L’s toe looking worse than this morning, but not worse than yesterday. I’m groggy and have a huge bandage. We go ahead with our plan for my parents to take both kids to their house, so I can have the rest of the day and night to recuperate and we’ll join them tomorrow. I hate that L and his toe aren’t under my care. I hate that it’s the weekend and if anything needs to be done it might mean a trip to the ER. I hate that I had to have this stupid surgery and that now I have this stupid bandage and am taking these stupid meds and that I feel so out of it.

So, there you have it. What kids do to you. Even when something pretty big is going on for you, your kids easily and totally trump it.

How coherent is this post after all? Should I go ahead with it, or hold off until I can reread it with a clearer mind? Eh, what the hell! I’m going to lie down.

PS: Thanks Mom and Dad!!

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I’ve been living under a microscope. Or at least that’s what it feels like. For a short-term house guest, it’s possible to present a version of your self, home and family that is close to the real deal, but a little nicer. But for a long-term house guest, namely a 3-week mother-in-law visit, the pretense falters after a few days and suddenly the real thing is exposed to an outsider.

For a few days, all of L’s snacks were carrots, apples, clementines and the like. But by day 3 or 4, both of us were tired of this and the goldfish, pretzels, and crackers came back out. For a few days L’s mischief and misbehavior were met with reasonable, measured responses. I was able to pretend that he learned “dammit” somewhere else. S’s wriggling and whining on the changing table was met with gentle encouragement to stay still. But this couldn’t last, and soon enough my crazy was showing.

Knowing that all of this was observed by my mother-in-law, has kept me keenly aware of all of my family’s faults, all of our weaknesses, all of our weirdness, our dirt (real, physical dirt), our bad sides that we generally reserve only for each other. The stuff you imagine doesn’t go on in your friends’ houses, even though they assure you it does. And because of my relationship to her, being  her son’s wife, I feel that all of these imperfections fall squarely on my shoulders and are seen as a reflection of my own shortcomings.

I am likely judging myself and all of us much more harshly than my mother-in-law is, but I can’t help but feel that she is grateful that her flight is in two days. That soon she will be able to take her leave of our loud, disagreeable household and go home to her peaceful life. I feel guilty that I couldn’t hold it together better. That I couldn’t, for just 3 weeks, create a nice environment for her so she could leave missing us and looking forward to her next visit.

So, that’s where I am. Stuck with an unpleasant mixture of disappointment, frustration, guilt and some relief that it will all be over soon, (this last feeling brings on more guilt, so it really provides very little relief). She’s planning another visit for October and I’m calculating the ages my kids will be then and thinking that it will likely be another rough one. L will be 3.5, which from what I’ve heard makes 3 look like a day at the spa. S will, (unimaginably!) be a toddler of 15 months, instead of a sweet baby. Ugh, this will not be good.

So, Nana, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that you had to witness the real deal in my house. I’m sorry that I’m not a calm, serene person who takes it all in stride. I’m sorry that L is a maniac. I’m sorry that my cupboards and fridge aren’t filled with only the most wholesome ingredients for the most wholesome home cooked meals. I’m sorry that you teach me how to bake every time you come and I stubbornly just don’t learn. (Truth – I have no interest and feign incompetence; she must think I’m a dolt.) Hopefully you are as generous as possible and don’t judge us all as monsters, and don’t mourn for your son’s poor choice of wife!

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L: I want to watch a movie!

Grandma: What’s the magic word?

L: Hocus Pocus!

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When I was about 5 years old I went with my parents to pick out a new Irish Setter puppy. My memories of this day are little fuzzy, but I clearly remember my first encounter with the puppies. It seemed to me that there were hundreds of them and all of them were jumping up on me in frenetic, hyper, excited greetings. It was entirely overwhelming and hilarious. They were so cute and there were so many of them and they were so hyper!

That scene comes to mind whenever my family gets together. Between my sister and I, there are five kids: twin 5-year-old girls (Nieces 1&2), a 3-year-old boy (L), a 19-month-old boy (Nephew), and an 8-month-old girl (S). The five of them together under one roof is just like those wagging puppies. It is noisy, overwhelming, messy, wiggly, jumpy and cute. And I am struck with this terrifying thought: all of these children could belong to one family. The spacing is such that one woman could have borne them all. I’m happy I’m not that woman. If you are that woman, may your wine cellar be forever stocked.

Back to Mother’s Day. My family is celebrating today at my parent’s place. Nana and T stayed home and are putting up sheet rock on my basement walls (did I mention that Nana is like a pioneer woman?). At this moment the kids are all in the kitchen wreaking some kind of havoc. The men, (my brother, brother-in-law and father,) are all crowded around my brother-in-law’s new iPad, entirely ignoring the kids. My sister is doing her best to ignore them too, and I’m hiding out in here on the computer. Leaving my mom to fend for her brood of grandchildren. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

We should all be catering to her, but we’re not. We can’t help ourselves. She’s our mom. If she’s in the room, my responsibility as chief-woman-in-charge is immediately relieved, same for my sister. With her in the room we know that our kids will be looked after, entertained, spoiled a bit and safe. I can briefly remove my mom-hat, the one that makes my brain constantly swirl with the current and impending needs of those around me. I can lose track of who peed when. It’s like a tiny vacation. (My before kids self is stunned that my after kids self thinks being in the next room from 5 very loud kids for a few minutes is a vacation.)

So, I need to remember this moment when I’m feeling unappreciated and unthanked; when L doesn’t realize that everything I do is for his benefit; when he calls me a bad mom just because he needs to wear shoes to go to the fair; when it is just taken for granted that I will have a plan, that I’ll have a snack in my bag, that I will know what to do, that I will have a band-aid, that I’ll know when small people need to pee, sleep and eat, that in my car there will be a change of clothes, drinks, food, a ball and a kite. I need to remember that as soon as my mom walks into the picture, I take for granted that she will hold all those responsibilities. The job of motherhood doesn’t end when our children are grown, or even when they have kids of their own. Once you start toting around snacks in your bag, you never stop.

Can you ever thank your mom enough? I’ve only been a mom for 3 years and already I know my kids can’t thank me enough. My mom’s been at it for nearly 40 years. And she’s damn good at it. Mom, I really do appreciate you, even if I’m too thoughtless to always show it. Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you.

OK, I’ll come out of the relative peace of the computer room now and join in the chaos. Happy Mother’s Day!!

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