Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Motherhood Chronicles

Journal 4/05/09

I used to be a mover and a shaker.

These days I can barely finish a thought, let alone a sentence.

Yesterday I had that feeling, sort of like a sneeze coming on…. the beginnings of a thought being born. It felt like a teeny tiny bit of inspiration trying to creep back into my life. Maybe it would have been a creative thought, or maybe I was just finally remembering where I had put my car keys. Either way, it scattered like a flock of startled birds the moment I heard my three-year-old Evan gagging on something. I ran to him and found an empty cup on the bathroom sink, the one in which I had gargled the night before with a solution of water and hydrogen peroxide (sore throat). There must have been some left in the cup, and he drank it down. I ran for the phone, scrambling through my phone book for the poison control hotline. While dialing, I hurried back to the bathroom to check on Evan, only to find him with an open tube of Retin-A, attempting to put it on his toothbrush. So on that day I learned that all the things I put “out of reach” are now open season since his climbing skills have improved so dramatically. (It also left me wondering....would brushing my teeth with Retin- A make my teeth look more youthful? In an exhausted stupor one night, I did accidentally brush my teeth with Desitin. I do not recommend it.)

A few days ago I had him out on one of our daily hikes. The ongoing power struggle here is that he likes to veer off the path and into the high grasses, and I have to steer him back to safety as it is rattlesnake season. So this day we are doing pretty well, staying on the path, stopping here and there to admire the Brown-eyed susans standing tall among the fields of mustard, the many ladybugs in flight and the occasional meandering stink bug. Evan stopped to pick something up, cradling it in his tiny hands, studying it with great interest. What have you got there sweetie? I called to him. “Poop!” he replies enthusiastically. I grab him and force him to drop it, rubbing his hands vigorously in the dirt, and then running him all the way home, holding both his hands up by the wrist so that he can’t put them in his mouth. “Bye Poop!” he calls back over his shoulder.

This week he also licked the rails of the shopping cart at Ross and splashed his hands playfully in puddles of water that had pooled around the toilet basin on the floor of a public restroom.

I used to be a mover and shaker, but now all my moving and shaking occurs in Evan’s wake.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Falling Into Fall

I hate the Fall. Even the word Fall indicates that you’re falling, falling into a deep hole. Not like Spring, whose very name inspires and gives energy.

Fall is the time that trees become barren and the landscape appears to be dead. Daylight begins to recede, and even in the middle of the day, the light is different, the air is different. It is absolutely still outside. You can leave your windows open all day and never hear a single bird sing. Or the wind howls angrily and creates all kinds of havoc. Fall makes a mess of everything.

Gone are the long, lazy days of summer. Gone are the barbeques, pool parties, block parties, summer festivals, concerts in the park, beach days, vacations, long hikes in the evenings…

Just beginning are attempts at any types of social gatherings that will be cancelled due to illness, overcoming illness, or avoiding illness. Just beginning are days of being trapped indoors with a sick kid, climbing the walls with boredom and depression.

We are only into our first week of Fall and already half my friends are sick. And this year we have the threat of swine flu hanging over our heads, and the volatile debate over whether to vaccinate against it.

In the Fall I get a pit in my stomach and a sense of foreboding. I contemplate my own mortality, I have terrible déjà vu’s where I feel like something bad is about to happen. Maybe it’s because 15 years ago our house burned down in the Fall. I wouldn’t think so, after all the therapy I’ve done, but I who knows. I hated Fall before then, too.

When our son Evan was born at the end of September, I thought I would finally have a reason to celebrate Fall, and not dread it. But Evan’s birthday comes just at the lazy end of our California Summer, not really yet Fall. I do fine through his birthday party, and then, as October rolls around and the end of daylight savings time looms ahead, I feel as though the air is being let out of my tires.

Fall is the beginning of flu season and fire season. Fall is nasty, viscious political seasons. Fall is Halloween, which I’ve never liked. Who started that holiday anyway? Who said I know…Let’s create a holiday around death, decorate our homes with skulls and bones, and for fun, let’s go around dressed like mass murderers carrying chainsaws….It’s not my cup of tea.

But hey, there’s something I like about Fall. A cup of tea. I think I’ll make myself one right now, to attempt to turn my mood around. And while I’m at it, I’ll force myself to list other things I like about Fall.

Here goes….

Hot tea

Mexican Coffee



Wearing sweaters and boots

My red wool coat

Flannel Pjs

Fuzzy socks

Getting into jammies early at night.

My warm fuzzy bathrobe

Down comforters

Lots of candles

Twinkle lights.



I guess that’s about it. Everything else about it kinda sucks.

Yesterday for Evan’s sake, I made a big deal about getting all the Halloween decorations out and decorating the front porch. And now, I’m going to begrudgingly go out and buy a Fall tablecloth and pumpkins, doing my best to be of cheer even though I feel horrid.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Parenthood, for reals....

I dropped Evan off at preschool this morning and he was heartbroken, once again. This is supposed to be a positive thing for him. I wonder if it ever will be? Am I wasting our money to pay to take him somewhere that he hates? Will this be good for him developmentally?

I stayed with him for half an hour this time. Better than an hour last week. He clung to me, refusing to let go of my hand. At one point he mustered up the courage to play with some of the other kids but one kid was mean and bullying to him so he ran right back to my lap. I tried to distract him. I found a sow bug on the ground and taught him how to pick it up gently, and let it crawl across the palm of his hand. It is so precious to watch the wonder in a child’s eyes in such a small moment like that. But then he dropped the bug and stepped on it, squashing it flat.

He is doing so well in other ways. Troy feels certain that this child has perfect pitch. He will sit at the piano and learn a song by ear. He figured out “Funkytown" the other day. He would hum the notes first, then go right to them on the keyboard. He knows the scales and his DoReMis. He can figure out a tune in his mind, and say “I’m gonna sing Do-Ti-Do", and then he’ll do it perfectly. He had Taylor’s college friends in awe the other night. They are all music majors.

I want to make note of some things that are so a part of his every day routine now, so I won’t forget them later. You are so immersed in raising your kids, you think you'll never forget. but I have a 19 and a 24 year old, and sadly, you do forget a lot.

Evan always says “I want to hold you” to me, when he wants me to pick him up.

He eats nothing but breakfast foods.

He still, at almost 4 years old, is a self-imposed vegetarian. Refuses to try a bite of any meat or fish.

He is reading at a 2nd grade level.

He goes to bed at 8:30 and wakes up at around 7am. He sleeps thru the night but has abandoned naps, much to my chagrin.

A few weeks ago, we were awakened at 3 am by the baby monitor. Evan was yelling. I ran downstairs, opened his door and there he is. He’s turned the light on , and is jumping on his bed singing Funkytown at the top of his lungs....Well I talk about it talk about it talk about it then he sees me and stops with the “ruh-roh” look on his face.

Our nineteen-year-old Taylor is dating Aya, a girl he met in Japan, who now goes to school here. She is learning English and he is learning Japanese. This is a very different kind of girl for him. He has always been with girls that were really strong and outspoken, kinda bossy. Actually somewhat like his sister, and maybe me.

I am agitated the past few days. A lot of worries are on my mind; family, kids, money, misunderstandings, you name it. And I guess life decided to make it more vivid last night. Just before we went to bed one of the cats sprayed in our bedroom, in addition to the fact that I had just stepped in a huge pile of cat vomit. Troy's response, as always...."Why does anyone want to have cats?" Flash forward to 3:30 AM - I woke to the sound of constant running water. I went downstairs and found the washing machine on a constant rinse cycle. As I turned it off it made loud gurgling and rushing sounds. I sat and watched it for ten minutes, sure it was about to back up into the house. Then I went upstairs to try to get to back to sleep and saw a huge black spider on the wall which I assumed was a black widow. Killed that thing, then went back into the bedroom and found a dead bug on my bedroom carpet which was being devoured by thousands of ants. So I had to get the vinegar and kill all the ants. By this time, Troy woke up and offered to help me vacuum the dead ants.

I sat on the bed, head in my hands, so overcome by the bizarre nature of all these things going on in my life all at once, and then I look up and it hits me. My husband is vacuuming, butt-naked at 4 am…..I just started cracking up. Then he starts to laugh too, and in his sleepless stupor he accidentally knocked the curtains down , so we were hysterical, rehanging curtains, all the while mind you he’s still naked, at 4am. It was beyond sitcom.

In other news, we have a new treadmill and I'm finding that running is a great equilibrium for anxiety. And Troy and I went to Salsa Boot camp yesterday and we are DANCING together! We are getting good! Sorta... Either way, I’m proud of us for trying something new.

I was so exhausted this morning, feeling the stress of last night, and all these other problems running thru my mind. Troy grabbed me around the waist, and said “Honey, let’s dance”…..and we did.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Home is anywhere my husband and children are.

It is Andy Williams on Christmas morning. It is the memory of our black Labrador Sky asleep and softly snoring at the foot of the bed. It is the smell of coffee brewing in the morning. It is lazy-bones pajama days, and rainy days, and spring cleaning days.

Home is baking cookies with the baby, spirited political conversations with my son over dinner, our daughter’s footsteps mounting the stairs when she comes home to visit. It is comedy and tragedy and power struggles and loud singing in the shower.

Home is the neighbor’s barking dog, the coyotes howling, the peacocks wild calls, the croaking symphony of frogs after a heavy rain, the hawks screeching as they take the fledglings out for the first solo flight of Spring. It is impossibly yellow fields of mustard flowers that stretch on forever and wildfires and rattlesnakes and dust storms.

Home is creaking floors and hollow front steps that alert the presence of every visitor with reverberating sound. It is sunlight filtering through stain glass, casting rainbow prisms onto walls. It is potty training and college aid applications and bills and our dog Brandy barking at the mailman every single day. It is the sound of music seeping through the walls, the smell of turpentine and linseed oil wafting through the air vents. It is creativity and laughter and exhaustion. It is cats hogging up all the sleeping space on my side of the bed every night.

Home is the rooster crowing while the garbageman loudly clangs and crashes his way down the street. It is the absolute stillness of 3am, the cat puking at 4 am, the neighbors Harley revving up at 5 am, and the baby waking up singing at 6 am. It is the Christmas season and flu season and allergy season and tax season and back to school supplies and awkward family get togethers. It is laughing together about all of these things in the aftermath.

It is the quiet inner knowing that against the bustle, chaos, struggle, joy and strains of being a family lies the absolute perfection of love in action.

Home is anywhere my husband and children are.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

If you died tomorrow, what would you miss?

When I die (one day, a long, long time from now....) I will miss holding my children and grandchildren close to me. I will miss watching them grow and expand as people. I will miss loving my husband. I will miss the struggles and challenges we took on together, and the growing stronger as a couple. I will miss the feel of him, and seeing his sweet face and sleepy eyes in the morning.
I will miss Spring, and birds, and everything in full bloom. I will miss the wonder and creation of new life. I will miss perfect days like today, when the sun shines, all the windows are open, birds are atwitter and a gentle breeze blows the white gauzy sheers in and out as though the house were quietly breathing.
I will miss making music, and painting, and writing. I will miss wonderful conversation with friends, cocktail and dinner parties. I will miss Christmas with my family. I will miss petting cats, and holding babies, and the smell of a newborn puppy. I will miss the beautiful sky and it’s many colors and moods. I will miss all the places in the world that I never got to see but dreamed of. I will miss being inspired. I will miss vacations with my family. I will miss sharing conversation and a bottle of wine with my husband while we cook dinner. I will miss being deeply in love.