In April, 2010, when Andrew was 2 1/2, a tumor was discovered behind his eye. The tumor was removed, but it was found to be an aggressive cancer. He endured seven months of chemo and six weeks radiation. In December of 2010, the day after his last treatment, he was rushed to the ER with an almost fatal bacterial infection. He survived.
He is now seven-years-old!! I don't visit here much, because during the ordeal, this is where I dumped everything--my rage, my fear, my sadness, my ugly, my hope, my everything. But I want all of you who supported and prayed for us to hear his updates. You helped me survive, and I am deeply thankful. Every once in awhile, I will check in to let you know how he's doing. Please continue to pray that cancer will never return to his body. Thank you.
My dog is suddenly looking pudgy. At first, I was worried that she might have some dread dog disease that had decreased her metabolism or simply caused her to gain weight. I took her to the vet. She is okay. Okay, but fat.
And then (ta da!) I realized, the reasons are simple and so common:
AGE: She is getting old. Join the club, dear Maisy. She will turn 9 in June.
DIET: I think the macaroni missiles, the peanut butter and jelly bombs, and the cheerio barrage are finally catching up to her. For the last six years, the dogs have been heartily fed by my children. When my first child decided he no longer wanted to share, the dogs started hovering around the second child's chair. They are now on to the third, and when HE doesn't "want" to share, the dogs often take matters into their own, well, teeth. The saying "like taking candy from a baby" also goes for ham sandwiches, and chunks of cheese. Maisy eats too much.
EXERCISE: I feel so guilty here. I exercise every day, but my poor dogs are desperate for walks, and I don't provide them very often. I should get up early and walk them, but I am not a morning person, and my husband often leaves for work before I am even awake. I could walk them at night when my husband gets home (late), but then it is dark; I am exhausted; and it just doesn't happen. So I am somewhat stuck with walking the dogs during the day, with at least one child. Herein lies the problem.
First of all, walking three (poorly trained) dogs is difficult enough when I am alone. They are a web of moving leashes. On one occasion, I actually tripped and fell on my face in front of the neighbors. How do those professional dog walkers do it?
But when I add in a two-year-old who NEEDS to hold one of the leashes (but lets go frequently), a four-year-old who wants to ride his scooter (but doesn't want to wait for the rest of us "slow pokes"), and a six-year-old who walks as if he is 95 (with a slow shuffle), I become the "crazy neighbor lady" yelling up one side of the sidewalk, and down the other. "Get back here!" "Stop at that stop sign!" WAIT!!!"and then I turn around towards the shuffler, "PLEeeaaASE hurry up" and then pleadingly to my side, "How about I hold the leash and you hold my hand...please?" And so I wander down the street yelling, "WAIT!" "Hurry up!" "STOP MAISY, STOP!! as I chase the runaway dog, leaving three young children in my wake.
Even with just one child we are a spectacle of lunacy. So Maisy doesn't get enough exercise.
Even with dogs, it comes down to those same dread words: Diet and Exercise.
And the words that usually follow them: Excuses. Good excuses, but excuses nonetheless.
I think we need to make some life changes Maisy. It's not going to be easy.
I should have been paying better attention. It is my fault really. When he first picked up Dora and she sang that song, I should have put her right back on the shelf. "Best friends forever you and me, buenos amigos, blah blah blah blah, Let's explore the whole day through, I can't wait to play with you...." Yes, that is when I should have acted.
But he loved her from that moment. Hugging her to his chest, he could hardly wait to free her from the cardboard box and thirty plastic ties. So I bought her.
And now EVERYWHERE Andrew goes, she goes. Everywhere Andrew goes, she sings. Everywhere we go, people hate us. There is no on/off switch. I looked. I searched.
But Andrew loves her, and she loves him (or so she says). So that is the most important thing. Right?
Maybe one day he will take her in the bathtub with him and she will suddenly lose her voice. One can hope.
I never wanted to be a mother. Never did. Somehow thought it seemed degrading. I always thought pregnant women looked extraordinarily vulnerable and weak. Never wanted to be THAT. I was always angry that men got off ridiculously easy. Their bodies never had to be stretched and enlarged and eventually displayed for all (well at least doctors and nurses) to see. (I always pictured a county hospital scene with me lined up next to twenty other women, all lying exposed on gurneys, screaming with our legs up in stirrups, while male doctors wandered around barking out orders...) Never wanted to be tied down by the responsibilities of taking care of children. I was disgusted at the idea of nursing. "What am I, a cow?" I used to think.
But eventually, after 9 years of marriage, I realized that if I didn't have children, I might really regret it. So we went for it. Closed my eyes (literally) and went for it. And I got pregnant. And I was terrified and unsettled.... And then at 18 weeks, things went terribly wrong. The pregnancy that terrified me was no more. I sobbed. Frequently. I wandered around the house in my husband's XXL T-shirt and sweatpants for four months.
And my perspective changed. I couldn't wait to get pregnant again. I couldn't wait to be a mother.
Lucky for me, it did not take long. Four months later, it happened. The word ECSTATIC would best describe my mood. I reveled in every second of it (well except for the gigantaur boobs). I loved it. It was amazing. I loved the check-ups; I loved the ultra-sounds; I loved the pregnancy clothes (well, at least at first). I loved the little kicks from inside my belly. For the first time in my life, I loved the idea of being a mom.
And then came the delivery. John and I were out eating pizza for what would be our last night together without kids. I had just spent the day putting together Aaron's nursery furniture (which included heavy lifting...) The contractions came slowly at first; I paused between bites of pizza to catch my breath and grab onto the table. I was up all night timing each contraction. In the morning, we went to the hospital. (I was relieved to see my private room with hotel-style artwork and an entertainment center. No gurneys. No stirrups. No screaming. And only one or two (or three?) people saw me naked. :)) And BTW, epidurals ARE wonderful.
On February 21, 2004, at 6:30 p.m. I had the most beautiful baby boy in my arms. He amazed me then, and he amazes me now. Kind hearted, sweet, compassionate, thoughtful, sensitive, intense, competitive, good-humored, friendly, wise, curious...I could go on and on. I immediately took to mothering and loved it (never really loved nursing, but I coped). I am so happy that I, as a woman, was blessed to be the one to carry him in my body and nurture him. I am so blessed and privileged to be able to stay home with him and watch him grow. I am a better person because of him. I am so thankful that I am a mother. I am so thankful I am HIS mother.
Well, it was worse today. If that is possible. Yes. More poop. He made one mess, I went in and cleaned it. Put him back to bed. He made another. This time he ruined 10 diapers and almost a whole container of wet-wipes. Perhaps he was trying to change himself and kept getting it wrong?
Thankfully I had enought foresight to remove the lotions and potions from his changing table, otherwise, there would have been Aveeno Lavender soothing lotion and a little 2% hydrocortisone cream thrown into the mess. I guess I need to strip his drawers completely bare of all supplies.
And did he sleep? NO. Since when does a child poop twice in two hours? I'm thinking maybe ducktape around the diaper? Maybe suspenders during nap-time? I'm desperate!
Lately, my life has revolved around, well...poop. This post is not for the faint of heart or easily disgusted, I will warn you right now. This is not a post which would be benefited by the use of photography.
Last night, just as I was envisioning the end of the bedtime routine tunnel, I sat down in Andrew's rocking chair, pulled him up on my lap, and..."There's poop there," he said, pointing.
And yes, yes there was. Poop. There. And apparently EVERYWHERE. Hiding under a piece of cardboard there was poop; dried, crusted poop stuck all over the arm of the rocking chair. I got out my Clorox and scrubbed. Then I followed Andrew around his room as he pointed out the poop trail. "Here, Mommy," he said, pointing to his crib railings. Wipe, scrub, wipe, scrub. "And here," pointing to his mattress. I removed the blankies, toys, random diapers, and finally the sheets and threw them in the laundry. I remade his bed. "Over here," he says pointing to the carpet. Scrub, scrub, scrub. "Here Mommy" he says, pointing to the cushion I was JUST SITTING ON. Change MY pants. Scrub, scrub, scrub. SIGH.
I sat back down in the rocking chair, pulled Andrew up on my lap, and got ready to read Curious George and the Hot Air Balloon for the 50th time, and..."There's poop there." "WHAT??!" I said. "There's poop there," he casually repeated, pointing to the crusted brown stuff stuck on the first page, right next to Daddy's dedication to Aaron from three years ago. SCRUB WIPE SCRUB. Disgusting.
So I finish reading to him, kiss him goodnight, and leave the room with a very firm and frusrated, "YOU HAD BETTER KEEP YOUR PANTS ON." I leave the room and close the door. A half an hour later, I still heard rumbling around so I went in to investigate (with fear and trembling). Sitting on his train table, he was half-naked, NO PANTS, with clean diaper next to him. No sign of poop, at least for now. I put his pants back on, and once again leave the room with a warning, equally firm and even more frustrated, "KEEP YOUR PANTS ON!!!" No more episodes for the evening as I think he finally fell asleep.
This was just the end of my very poopy day.
Earlier, he had taken off his diaper and made his way out the doggie door. As I walked in the playroom, I saw an empty diaper on the floor and a poopy butt making its way back into the house. Then he says, "I pooped in the grass, Mama." And yes, yes he did. And on the sidewalk next to the grass. I am becoming paranoid about hidden poop in my house.
Time to potty train. So far, he has yet to poop in the potty. I need to find a way to keep his pants on until that happens. Do they make chastity belts for toddlers? SIGH.
Last night I went shopping with my good friend of 18 years. Which oddly enough, was kind of strange. I usually go shopping alone, or with one, two, or even three octopi. I shop by myself because I like to take my time doing what I want, in the stores that I want to be in, for as long as I want to be in them. My friend (who has four octopi) typically does the same. When we got there she read my mind and said, "I never shop with anyone, I always go by myself." I replied, "me too!" So there we were, two single shoppers trying to navigate the social shopping rules. We have similar taste so it was a pretty smooth transition :). I bought a pair of cute jeans with some fancy pocket work and a hippy-type tank top. She bought some pants and cute flowy shirt. Our husbands were at home feeding the children, giving them baths, and putting them to bed. It was awesome.
This morning I went hiking. Well, I suppose it was really just walking at a slight angle up a small mountain. No hiking boots, no water bottles, and it was only a 3-mile round-trip, but we were on a dirt road and it went uphill. We split money on a babysitter, and took off free as birds in a Nissan Pathfinder. We spent two hours away from the kiddos. We climbed and talked ourselves to the top, where we could see a 360 degree view of the city. The weather was gorgeous. We were all baring our pale-white slightly unshaven legs, and no one cared (I believe mine were the whitest of the white, almost glow-in-the-dark). A beautiful morning with friends. It was awesome!
While I was shopping last night, I saw a sign on one of the walls: "Love is spoken here." Simple and basic as that is, it struck me as a revelation somehow. I felt like those words hit me in a deep place. That is my new motto. That is what I want my kids to feel. That is the atmosphere I want to have. Too often the frustration takes hold and I react, because I am feeling burned out. And no one is perfect and loving all of the time. But when I take some breaks, catch my breath, take in the scenery, and have time to reflect (and shop), perhaps it will be easier to speak the language of love, rather than the language of frustration. It just may require the use of an expensive babysitter.
Where does this feeling of coldness come from? Exhaustion? Frustration? Feeling out of control? Yes, probably all of the above.
I am sitting here listening to my boys upstairs. No one is sleeping. One is moaning and crying. Two of them are running back and forth between the bedrooms they are supposed to be sleeping in. I can hear their footsteps pounding back and forth. I can hear banging and have to wonder what they are getting into. Perhaps if I could not hear them, it would not make me so angry. But I can. And it does.
Child overload. I have it. Constant teasing, fussing, screaming, complaining, and whining. I know I know. I have been blessed with three beautiful boys. They are sweet boys. And one day, I will miss these days. I just wish "these days" were a little easier.
I keep trying to make things positive, but I feel like they end up negative far more than I would like. I wish it were easier to cope and I didn't end up feeling so frustrated. But I am feeling VERY frustrated. I start to feel like a poor parent, and I start worrying that my boys will resent me.
But there are many positives, despite my complaining. Today my two-year-old thanked me for changing his diaper! That was a first. A very sweet first. My 5-year-old read a whole book to me tonight! Another first.
But I am feeling sick. Sore throat and an upstairs pounding with wide-awake boys. Three beautiful, healthy, happy boys (who won't sleep).