Friday, August 28, 2009


We have an expression around here: "swimming in lake so and so." As in "swimming in lake Missy" when I dominate the conversation and turn it back to me. We all do it. I know I do it all the time. I have a blog for crying out loud, what's more self absorbed than that? It's funny how someone who prides herself on being so aware of others can be so blind. Well, I've vowed to pay attention from now on.

At our reunion I was talking my friend about a high school acquaintance who apparently had a terrible life. We never knew. How can you see someone day in and day out and not know they are in pain and suffering? Some days we seem to exhist in separate bubbles rolling along beside each other, but never seeing what's right there.

This idea really hit home when I read the news about the little girl who was abducted at age 11 and held captive for 18 years. I read that news report last night and just sat there and shook and cried. What if that was my beautiful girl? The thing that I don't understand (not being judgemental, here), but how did no one? They weren't out in the middle of nowhere. There were neighbors. I guess one even called the police, but they (the police) saw nothing. I think this is a case of seeing what you want to see, being too busy and too overloaded to stop and look. I can think of countless examples of this going on even in my town, my neighborhood, my school. I am not trying to start a dialogue about people's ideas about criminals and the horrific things they do. What I want us to do is pay attention.

When the kids get out of hand and we feel overwhelmed, Rob and I will pause and remind each other to watch out for the other parent. We've got each other's back. What if we applied that philosophy to our community? Instead of considering it to not be your problem, offer help. Don't be nosy, but take care of each other. I know that I am going to try harder, look outside of my daily grind and offer help. We all need it now more than ever.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Paging Dr. Green

I was always a big fan of the show ER, especially Mark Green. I'm starting to think that I am paying for my preoccupation with ER. We had our second ER visit last night and I am beginning to see a pattern.

We spent the day cleaning and nursing sore bodies after our reunion. I had just sat down at 8:30 to look at reunion pictures online when I heard a crash from the bathroom and screaming. My first thought was Lily's been playing in the sink and slipped (true); Rob's first thought was Lily's hurt (true again). Before I could even launch into the "don't play with water" lecture I saw the blood. She had hit the edge of the toilet seat and split open her chin. Rob looked at it and through gritted teeth muttered "Goddammit, stitches." Lily started crying and Caroline and I sprung into action. She ran to get Lily's shoes and the first aid kit. I covered her chin with gauze and tape running from temple to temple (I was so tried, I wasn't thinking).

All the way to the ER, Lily kept trying to yawn and got very annoyed that her face was taped together. Rob reminded me that exactly a month ago at this time we were headed to the ER in Illinois. I suggested bubble wrapping Lily on September 23. Lily thought this was not funny at all. As far as she was concerned this wasn't her fault. It was the hard toilet seat's fault. She suggested that we buy soft toilet seats like her aunt in Illinois has.

Overall, this ER experience was just as pleasant as the last. Our hospital has a pediatric section with rooms decorated like the beach. There are fish on the walls and ceiling, there was even a three dimensional seagull on a pier in the corner of the room. Of course Lily hopped down from Rob's laps and started crowing "Ca caw, ca caw!" while standing on one foot and flapping her hands. We both jumped at her as she slipped and breathlessly exclaimed "Be careful!"

Fortunately, she didn't need stitches, they were able to glue it back together. Lily happily explained to the nurse that her mommy had lots of bandages at home and tried to cheerfully fly off the table after the doctor was finished (a white faced Rob caught her).

I have a feeling that my time in the ER is only beginning. Lily lives life with gusto. She charges ahead and learns her lessons the hard way. Just yesterday I recorded the following "Lilyisms:"

Mommy: "Lily, go to timeout."
Lily: "You're not my loving Mama anymore."
Mommy: "I'll live, go, now."

The same situation was repeated later that day with Rob (you're not my favorite Daddy) and Caroline (you're not my best sister).

Gleefully sucking down "bug juice" "Hey this stuff has spiders in it? No wonder it's so sour." (this was followed by riotous belly laughing).

To Caroline "Give that back! I am deadly serious!"

"This hospital is boring and annoying."

As we waited in the ER, I turned to her stuffed Bear and asked him "What are we going to do with Lily and all her boo boos?" Lily made the bear reply in a deep voice "Whadda ya want me to get hurt?"

Are you surprised we ended the day in the ER? Caroline has remarked that we are raising Ramona Quimby. Yep.

All I know is I am going to keep a stock of gauze, tape, patience, and humor. Maybe, I'll add an emergency supply of wine and chocolate, too.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Oh To Be Old!

This weekend was my much anticipated 20 year reunion. After all of the waiting, it came and went in a blink. I had a wonderful time! My closest friends from school weren't able to make it, but I had such a nice time with all of the friends who were able to. It was so great to be able to hang out with each other without worrying about the silly things we used to (how we look, status etc.) We just cut loose and had fun. How wonderful the teen years would have been if we could have done this sooner. Honestly, everyone was just so nice (this was even before they started drinking).

I had spent so much time worrying about having gone "soft around the middle," but really it didn't matter. We were all a bunch of middle age people, softer, wrinklier, and some of us with a little less hair. This just seemed to even things out even more.

I believe Rob even had a good time. For some one who holds most people in disdain, he seemed to have spent a lot of time chatting and joking. He never had his senior picture taken and jokingly told the organizer (the most together and energetic person I've ever met) to use Mel Gibson's picture circa 1989. She did. Rob also danced his famous drunken chicken dance with me. Like I said, it was fun!

We toured the school on Friday night. The changes were amazing. It is so much bigger. Walking through there also brought up memories of clumsy events of year past, like the time I fell down the two flights of stair during morning rush. I went all the way down on my butt and luckily was only bruised. I guess mishaps have always followed me.

I can't wait until our 25th reunion.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Motherhood Does Not Equal Martyrdom

I have been lucky to have been able to spend a couple of afternoon with one of my closest friends and favorite fellow moms. She is my idea of the best kind of "natural" mom. She is raising her family organically without being preachy or making others (ie me) feel like neanderthals. She also has my respect because she is raising three young girls (six, four, and 19 months). If I think my days are chaotic, try three little ones.

We have such a good balance going. No judging, just sharing and support. It is so hard to find another mom who doesn't make motherhood a contest. She doesn't judge me because my kids eat artificial cheese snacks and watch too much TV and I don't look down my nose at her.

As much as I admire her, though, she has doubts about herself as a mother. That floored me. Seriously, you look up mother in the dictionary and there's her picture! I think as mothers we never seem to thin that we've done enough. We go back and analyze every situation like Monday morning quarterbacks. As she and I confessed the areas were we felt we'd fallen down on the job, our offenses seemed so minor. I told her that I didn't feel I challenged lily enough. She countered with "Is she happy?" Valid point.

We also discussed how far we've come. I let her come into my house with five baskets of overflowing clean laundry in the middle of the living room. The old me would have shoved them into the closet. As we sat in the kitchen eating the grapes the kids left behind from lunch, I looked out at my sun room/laundry drying area and saw my bras hanging like a colorful garden, oh well.

Part of what prompted these get together was her husband calling me and asking me to come get his wife. He said she was doing too much and needed a break. So we got together with the kids and then without. Last Sun. morning we went to the movies, the farmer's market, and lunch at a Thai place. It was awesome! At first I felt almost giddy, like I was playing hooky. Then, we started talking and sharing and giving advice. Even though most of our talk was about kids, it was productive. We were talking about them for lack of anything else to discuss. Being mother is who we are; it's our job, having help navigating it only makes it easier.

I always say that I need to do this more often, but the reality is it's hard to find the time. We don't mean to give up all of our time, our energy, ourselves to our kids it just happens. Having another fellow mom direct from the trenches to listen and bounce ideas off of really helps. The proof? Sunday night our kitchen sink sprung a leak and I didn't even feel the need to post an entire blog about the insanity. Thanks, buddy!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Don't You Forget About Me

The fact that it is hot as all get out and we can't go to the pool or even run through the sprinklers, has given me lots of thinking time. I've been thinking about high school (funny how every time I say the beginning of the phrase, I feel like Elmo). The combination of Caroline's impending teeness and my 20 year high school reunion has me thinking a lot about my teens. I really have no regrets. I was the same then as now, except I'm probably a little more confident and more of a smart ass.

I pretty much existed in my own realm in high school. I had friends, but didn't see them a lot outside of school because I lived out in the middle of no where. I read a lot, still do and really spent a lot of time inside my head or existing inside a book. At the time I thought I was missing something, but I don't think so now. I skirted the edges of things. I was friend with most of the honors/"nerd" kids, but not quite with them (don't get me started about the tracking system in education). I was kind of like a hippy dippy Doris Day (if you know me, that image works). Marching to the beat of your own drum is lonely, but leads to a strong adult. If you'd told me that then I wouldn't have believed you. I went through my own odd phases. There was the 50s revival with the long skirts, Keds, and pony tails with ribbons. There was my 60s phase which started with mini skirts and ended with jeans. I pretty much lived in a time warp.

I really think that I got as much out of high school as I possibly could. I am not sure what my friends think about it, but I think we lived it to the fullest. We did all of the silly spirit days with gusto, we closed the prom down, long after the more popular kids had gone on to parties to get so drunk they didn't remember anything. I found my voice in high school. I learned to write. I loved working on and editing the literary magazine. I was sad to find out that there isn't one at our high school anymore. A victim of technology, I guess. Truly, I loved high school. I wasn't exemplary, I was just me.

I was excited about our reunion. I joined Facebook and reconnected with so many of my classmates. The funny thing is the ground seems more equal now. At our 10 year reunion it seemed like the same cliques all over again, although is it cliques or just like with like? Do you just go towards those you have common ground with? Anyway, it seems like we have more common ground now. Adulthood, mortgages, recession, children. I think it is wonderful to see and hear about everyone's families.

It looks like Rob and I will be just about the only ones of our really close friends going (time, distance, finances all have been blocking stones). He is beyond thrilled. My husband really doesn't like most people outside of the kids and I. He didn't particularly like high school (hopefully except for the fact that he met me). His experience was the opposite of mine, mostly due to circumstance and partially due to stubbornness. I embraced it, he rejected it and yet we married. Maybe on some level we're both very optimistic.

I have a slimming polka dot dress with a twirly skirt (the summer diet plan was a bust) and am making sure to pack my optimism. Maybe it will be the same old same old, but hopefully I will get the chance to see people that I spent so many years with in a new light.

PS Hope this isn't too Pollyanna. I'm feeling very upbeat today:) Give it time cranky will return soon.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Life in the Fast Lane

I have often referred to my car as my mobile living room. We do everything in the car, eat, nap, sometimes change. My car is full of stuff for every possible event, sports gear, snacks, first aid kit, camping gear, scout stuff, gear for all sorts of weather...

My kids have grown up in that car. It showed. After eight years of steady loving use, road trips, and daily grind, it began to smell like sour milk and feet. The carpets and seats were stained. There was ground in food stuck under seats and in places that the vacuum couldn't reach. It was like a pair of comfortable old shoes. It might not have been pretty to others, but we loved it. Which is why it was so sad when it started to act funny on the way home from Illinois. We knew the end was coming, but thought we had at least another year.

I know it was just a car, but I think that it loved us. case in point, the transmission went the day before "Cash for Clunkers" was launched. My sweet Montero Sport sacrificed itself, so we could get decent financing on a Ford Escape. It wasn't quite the joyous event you'd imagine. First we had to clean all of our stuff out. It was like a time capsule of the life of a young family. I found vet bills for our dog Sierra (she died two years ago), a golden dollar with John Quincy Adams on the front, Rob's birth certificate, baby socks, hair bands etc. It is amazing how much one family can squirrel away in a car. The kids were sad about losing their car. Their eyes almost bugged out of their heads as the salesman explained that the car would be scrapped, the engine destroyed.. "and then the car gets to go live with the other SUVs on the SUV farm!" I yelled to drown out the rest of the explanation.

And then there was my reaction. I stood there in the lot like a petulant teenager and proclaimed everything too big, too different. I just wanted MY car. I really don't handle change well and between the ordeal of Lily's bite and the car, plus my new job and the kids new schools, I was very overwhelmed. Rob patiently took over and we took our new car home.

The next day I nervously loaded the kids in the car to go the doctor. We tried out the built in bluetooth. As my new car patiently asked my command I thought "Holy crap, it's Kit!" We tried out the satellite radio and discovered: RADIO DISNEY! I'm on the fence about this one. The girls love it. I also discovered a station called Coffeehouse: acoustic singer songwriters for slightly hippy dippy mothers who'd still like to believe they are cool and can change the world. I love it!

We happily cruised along listening quietly to Selena Gomez. After three blocks I was able to stop hunching over the wheel and breathe. As I pulled into the parking lots the girls cheered and Caroline pronounced "Congratulations, Mama, you have reached your first destination." I am "Dayrider, Suburban Mom" on the prowl or crawl, depends upon the traffic.