I’ve Never Been Known as a Go-Getter

In the last 30 days I’ve passed my real estate licensing test, had a beautiful first divorced Christmas with Jed, organized my closet, interviewed at real estate companies across the city, fed and clothed and chatted with and disciplined and loved my child, spent a week caring for my ex-husband’s house and cat, started my dream job as a real estate broker at Windermere, began working with my first clients, presented an offer on a house, attended trainings, met fellow agents, cried about my child, cried about a man, went to a school fundraiser meeting, went to the company’s annual meeting, bought new shoes, replaced all the makeup in my makeup bag, attended birthday parties, started planning Jed’s birthday party, had drinks with girlfriends, went to the PTO meeting, volunteered at Jed’s school, mopped my floors, picked my kiddo up from school, made paper airplanes, read Calvin and Hobbes, wrote math problems, drove to piano lessons, drove to swimming lessons, drove around the entire city looking at houses, gone to bed way too late, gone to bed on time thinking how much I’ve matured in 6 years, set an alarm, played tennis, visited a hot springs, hiked, gone for runs and resumed squats and situps and yoga.

I’ve never been known as a go-getter. This is the God’s honest truth.

Do any of you think of yourselves that way? But I bet your months look like this, if you write it all out.

However, I’ve always been known as lucky.

Now, luck, in my book, is merely doing what puts you in the exact place you need to be standing when an amazing thing occurs right where you are.

At a company meeting on Wednesday, on my 5th day of legit non-mom work in six years, in a highly motivating talk, one of the owners said that if you read only 10 pages a day, you will have read 10 books in a year. Small steps, daily, lead to big results.

So moms, dads, friends, kids (hey Jed, this is what I was talking with you about last week, kiddo, right here) and bunnies who visit with us at this blog, believe me when I say: it does not matter what you say you are doing. It does not matter what you are afraid of doing. It doesn’t even matter what you are afraid you’re not yet doing well. It matters only that you are doing.

If you’d have asked me last January, as I sat huddled in my old bedroom in my old house drinking wine and pretending I wasn’t unravelling half of my life without a full and complete plan, if a year later would look like this, I don’t know if I could have even answered. But the first step, the tiniest one, is belief, isn’t it? Believe in yourself, and believe in grace. And then take the next step.

And take those tiny steps every day, don’t miss one, and do them with kindness and gratitude and generosity in your heart, and a fiery desire to DO THAT THING, and DO IT WELL, and great things will happen.

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Jed has year-round conversations with his Christmas Elf. When he first started Kindergarten this year he didn’t participate much. I talked with him about the importance of being part of things, of being present, of adding to the group. One night Elf wrote him this note in his kinetic sand. His teacher said his behavior had changed almost overnight, from shy to the boy who raised his hand up high to recite the names of every kid in class.

 

 

Irrational Worry

By the time this blog posts, Lucas will have undergone his second procedure to prevent further recurrences of rectal prolapse. If you don’t know what a rectal prolapse is, you can Google it.

On second thought, don’t do that. It’s really fucking gross. But, if you’re anything like me and you can’t resist a revolting Google search, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

He’s been having these prolapses for over two years now and a few months ago when there was a sudden uptick in both frequency and severity, we decided it was time to intervene. He had a relatively minor outpatient procedure called “injection sclerotherapy” (again… Google it…) back in October and while we were aware we might need to repeat the procedure at some point in the future, we were hopeful that this awful thing was behind us. Well, it wasn’t, and here we are on the eve of his second procedure.

I’m not terribly worried. I have full confidence in the staff at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and have had nothing but positive experiences there. But this is the fourth time in my son’s 6 years that he’ll undergo general anesthesia. His first was when he was about 3 and had to have a trigger thumb released. The second was just over a year ago so that he could undergo an MRI in an attempt to find a physiological cause behind the prolapses. And the third was the procedure in October that I’ve already mentioned. I’m not even including his trip on ketamine that he had about a month ago when one of the prolapses landed us in the ER.

Four times. In six years.

You know how many times I’ve undergone general anesthesia in my 33 years? Twice… and I’m not even sure if the first time counts because it was when I got molars pulled and it may have just been laughing gas.

The logical, reasonable side of me is not worried about this at all. I know that we are in capable hands. I know the odds are slim to none that anything horrible will happen. I know that there are tons of kids out there who are far less fortunate than mine and who have to undergo even more complicated and risky surgeries on a far more regular basis and they’re just fine. I know this. Most of me knows this.

But there’s that tiny, completely irrational part of me that keeps whispering “what if?”. I think every parent knows that knows that little voice. That voice that won’t shut the fuck up with its worst-case scenario bullshit. It doesn’t help that I’ve watched him get put out each of the previous three times and it’s fucking horrifying. There’s something about watching your child slip into a state of heavily medicated unconsciousness that makes that tiny illogical whisper turn into a screaming, sobbing, unavoidable roar.

It’s that voice that made me crawl into bed with him last night long after he’d fallen asleep just so I could smell his hair, and stroke his back, and feel his warm body curled up next to mine. It’s that what if? that made me let him play video games almost constantly from the moment he came home from school to the moment he went to bed because I knew it would make him happy. It’s that voice that made me pause in my writing just now so I could run upstairs, give him one last kiss and hug, and then tell him to go ahead and get in my bed because the truth is I want to cuddle with him tonight.

I’m not going to breathe easy until this is all over with. And when I say “all over” I don’t mean just this procedure in the morning. I mean this whole prolapse nonsense. We may have to repeat this procedure again if it doesn’t work this time. We won’t know that for sure for another few months. And if it still doesn’t work, then we’re looking at real, actual, invasive, terrifying, cut-him-open surgery. I’m not a religious person by any stretch, but I’m praying it doesn’t come to that.

He’s had a rough go of it, my boy has. Between a minor heart murmur when he was an infant, the trigger thumb, the prolapses, a minor clotting disorder, and an unspecified tic disorder, he’s seen more than his fair share of doctors already. He’s a trooper though; he doesn’t complain much and takes it all in stride. I just hope we get it all out of the way while he’s still young enough that the memories won’t have a lasting impact.

I’m grateful that in the grand scheme of things, none of the issues he’s had to undergo have been very serious in and of themselves. But, Christ, I just hope he catches a break soon!

So even though by the time you read this post, he’ll already be out of surgery, if you could just send any positive vibes/prayers/thoughts/well wishes his way, I’d appreciate it. Thanks, bunnies.

My contemplative, strong boy

My contemplative, strong boy

Resolution Me

Last January I decided that 2014 was going to be the year I finally got in shape. I was going to lose some weight, and start running. I was NOT going to be “the fat mom” anymore. I don’t know why all the women around me seem to somehow have the ability to juggle kids, work, life, etc…and still look hot in skinny jeans, but they do. I felt frumpy and gross. I was embarrassed and over it. I wanted to make sure that before my girls were aware of my own negative self-image I had changed it. Either by being at a weight I was more comfortable with, or by changing the way I saw myself…all of myself, even the fluffy parts.

I lost about 25 pounds by the middle of the year. It was awesome. I have written about last year’s journey before. At the end of the day I didn’t finish the year down all of those 25 pounds, but I did learn a lot about myself, and health, and feeling good about where I am.

So when it came time for this year’s resolutions I felt like the “health” train wasn’t really on the right track for me. Sure, I’m still working on being healthier and more active (and I have some specific goals I’d like to meet for that whole running thing I abandoned last year), but there are other areas of my life that are lacking more, specifically my religious/spiritual life. More specifically, the religious/spiritual education my children are receiving.

Again, I’ve written about this before, and now, more than a year later, I think we’re ready to take those steps into the place I kind of figured we’d end up anyway. Maybe it’s because the girls are older and are asking questions I don’t always have answers for, maybe it’s because we have connected with other Jews who go to synagogues on that campus, maybe it’s just time to tend to that part of my life after spending time surviving those difficult first years of the girls’ lives….whatever the reason, this is the year I resolve to figure out how we find a place in Jewish life in Charlotte.

And run a 10k in an hour. I’ll let you know how that goes…

 

Let’s Do Our Thankfuls

Last year, Jed and I began reciting our thankfuls every night at bedtime. It’s become the sweet point of our day, this quiet time of shared reflection and grace. At first we just said what we were happy about, but it’s become a time to talk about our “unthankfuls” and our “hope fors and hope for nots” as well. Even when I try to sneak out without saying them (oh, how lazy we adults, when it comes to the spirit), he always calls me back.

I don’t remember exactly what started our routine. He was an emotional, energetic 4-year-old, surging with the power of all his possibilities as they flooded his little body.  And his dad and I were at the mean end of our marriage. So the house had a lot of feelings in it, spoken and unspoken, bursting forth and being held under.

We aren’t a family that goes to church, and I back then I hadn’t taught Jed about prayer yet. I don’t follow any particular set of spiritual teachings, other than, be good. Be kind. Be grateful. Be open. Forgive. Love. But I’ve spoken with him about these things – and the way we can focus our monkey minds towards good actions – since he was born.

So I think I just asked him one night what he was grateful for, that day. What good had happened, what joy could he recall? But it is entirely possible that he took the initiative and said to me, mom, stay on my bed and let’s say what we’re happy about today.

I had a tiny green journal sitting on my desk, unused. It was still there from the time I was pregnant and thought I’d write my hopes and dreams for my unborn child, but nothing in my head sounded profound or deep enough to bother recording, so I set the journal aside. Set aside until after our bedtime chat that night, September 24, 2013, when I wrote Jed’s first statement of thanks: “I’m grateful for such a fun playdate with E.”

E is one of his best friends. They met as 6-week old babies. She is part of a group of families we met in a parenting class and the daughter of a woman who has become one of my close friends. E is  also a smart, energetic, opinionated kid, and her mom and I joke that as two only children, E and Jed are the siblings each will never have. They know the buttons, they compete, but they love each other, and her mom and I try pretty hard to make them work it out.

I also told Jed my own statement of gratitude that night, then wrote it in the tiny green journal. After all, we teach the skills of the heart only by example: “Jed, I’m grateful that on the way to E’s house you were thinking about how to not have a fight over which game to play first, and you told me that you decided to say, ok, how about we play both games, do you want to pick first or second? So I’m grateful that you are such a thoughtful friend.”

Ah. So I realize today, reading this tiny green journal, that I AM filling it with my hopes and dreams for my child. And I realize that he has the best of all the gifts – empathy and friendship.

And for this, I am so thankful.

At Jed’s first conference of kindergarten last month, his teacher reported the excellent results of his math and reading tests, then said something truly wonderful. She’d asked the students the day before if anyone could name all 30 kids in the class. Jed raised his hand immediately, she said, the highest and most eager, and recited each name confidently. Last week they worked on a couple of art projects about thankfulness. On one, Jed wrote that he was thankful for mom, dad and grandma. Then the next day, he wrote that he was thankful for R. Not just “friends” in general, but one very specific little boy whom he adores.

He is learning that to truly receive the benefits of gratitude, we must say it out loud:

I am thankful for specifically you, for all the wonderfully unique parts of you that connect with the wonderfully unique parts of me and that expand my experience of this life.

So I’m very thankful for this child who makes me actively practice, every night, the skill of awareness. He makes me notice the marks I Ieft on that day, and decide if they were worthy of one day of my life.

Today was my first Thanksgiving since divorcing Jed’s dad. But it was good. I found myself feeling so connected to my life, almost like a tree planted and growing roots below and trunk above and branches out to the sides. And I thought, I’m so thankful for my connections with people – friends, family  – because they allow me to be alone without feeling lonely.  

I’m also thankful that Jed told me this joke last week, a joke he learned from his friend R, a sweet, kind, fun loving boy that Jed met at the park last spring, well before they knew they’d be classmates :

Knock knock

Who’s there?

Interrupting cow!!!

Interrupting co… [MOOMOOOMOOOOOOOMOOOOO!!!!!!] …ow who?

Hahaha.

And I’m thankful that when Jed told this joke to his friend E, at dinner last Friday night, she laughed, and then said, ok, I have a joke, too:

Knock knock

Who’s there?

Patient cow

Patient cow who?

(Silently waiting. Waiting. Waiting patiently. )

Moo. Moo. Moo.

Oh, I’m thankful for these children. I’m thankful for laughter, for friends, for love. I’m thankful for the daily work that keeps our hearts open and our souls connected.

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#kidlogic

It seems to me that my children live by a set of self-imposed rules and logic. Based only on their behavior, I’ve come up with a short list of these rules here.

1. A bandaid makes everything better. Even if there’s no blood involved. Even if there isn’t even a mark. Bandaids are a miracle cure.

2. The color of the utensil, plate, or cup affects how food tastes.

3. Water tastes best right before bedtime. Or even better, when bedtime is already half an hour late.

4. The later Mommy is running, the slower we move.

5. The more effort Mommy put into cooking dinner, the less appealing it is to eat.

6. A toy is at its most desirable when someone else is playing with it, or when Mommy has decided it’s time to get rid of it.

7. Sleep is the enemy. We are NEVER TIRED. Unless asked to clean up a mess… then we are SO VERY TIRED.

8. The desire and likelihood to do something is increased in direct proportion to the number of times Mommy has said not to do that very thing.

9. There’s always room for dessert.

10. You can be anything you want when you grow up. Including a penguin.

What are some of the rules that your kids live by?

Bonus rule: Your face won’t really get stuck like that, so make all the funny faces you want. They’re hilarious.