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Birthing a teenager

When you have a baby your thoughts are surrounded by this little bundle of joy. Wait. Scratch that. Bundle of joy? Bundle of crying, pooping, difficult to latch on toothless beast. That’s more like it.

Emma is 14 today. I remember when she was born and the soft skin on her back felt like I put my hand in a vat of warm butter. I had no idea what to expect. I could barely wrap my mind around the number of cells that divided and divided over the 39 weeks bringing me this fleshy, peach fuzzed, pink child.

The sense of overwhelming duty to feed this human was daunting. Everything hurt. My boobs were sore beyond imagine. I couldn’t get her to latch on. Her cries of hunger brought me to tears. Like Pavlov’s dog, her squawks sent chills straight to my nipples. I wanted to run away. But I also wanted to love her and never let her go.

Then a thought occurred to me, somewhere in that first week of having a newborn. What if I don’t like her when she becomes a teenager? What if we clashed and hated each other and didn’t speak? Maybe she would rebel against me. Maybe she would slam the door in my face every time I attempted to connect with her.

When babies grow to be 3 year olds, everyone says, “Wait until they become teens. Then you’ll really have your work cut out for you.”

Guess what? Everything I feared, hasn’t come to fruition. Yet.

I find myself loving and growing with Emma more and more as she enters womanhood. We bond over gross things like tampons and body hair! She tells me about her friends. Her fears and her loves. We still ooh and ahh over Disney princesses.

We have frank discussions about sex. She asks me questions, and I answer. Always trying to wrap it in a context her young mind and heart can relate to. But trying not to sugar coat things to unrealistic proportions. I want her to be a strong, sexually independent adult female. I want her to gain her own claim on her boundaries, intimacies, and relationships.

Radical? I don’t think so. I think one of the greatest hardships we face as parents is letting our children actually leave the nest. I don’t want her to leave. But I want her to. You know what I mean?

She has the spirit and poise and intelligence to do wonderful things. Could she be a UNICEF ambassador to developing countries? Sure. Could she travel the country in a Broadway production? You bet. Do both of those scare the shit out of me? ABSOLUTELY.

But I can’t let her know those fears. I think what scares me most, is if she DIDN’T try those things. If she limited herself and succumbed to her own fears and shut herself in to just stay close to home, and follow the simple path.

Don’t get me wrong. Her happiness is based on her choices. If she goes to junior college and finds a nice job, gets an apartment nearby, and is happy- then perfect.

If she decides to live in Belgium? Then perfect also.

Where am I going with this? All of a sudden I’m breathing in a paper bag realizing I have four more years before she is emancipated in the eyes of the state.

Back to the little girl I’m raising. None of the things I feared have come true. Her door is open, our conversations flow. We’ve had words, she’s rolled her eyes at me. She’s stomped up the stairs and looked at me like I had two heads. But in the end, we connect.

And that’s all I can ask for.

Dearest Emma, I truly want your heart and mind to soar to its fullest potential. To find love and content within yourself and the people you surround yourself with. God bless you and keep you.

xoxo

 

You and me girl. Let’s keep it goofy always.

My son got a loft bed. And then my heart broke.

My husband doesn’t build things. He is handy. But he doesn’t just start crafting things in his wood shop. I mean the crap pile of tools and things that need to go to Goodwill that makes up our garage. However, he had promised Owen a loft bed and he was going to build it. Like Noah. Just kidding.

Owen has been so excited for his new bed. He’d been talking about it for months. He and James drew up the plans together and he was so anxious for it. It was promised for the new year and I really didn’t think it was going to come to fruition.

Well, long story short. James built the loft bed. And he did a great job! An entire weekend he spent sawing, measuring and drilling in the garage. This was weeks ago and there’s still saw dust everywhere. But that’s beside the point, right? Right.

The frame was immediately up in Owen’s room as soon as it was assembled. It’s about 5 feet off the ground. The kids and the dog, wasted no time checking it out. The cat does too! Both Emma and Owen are enjoying the bed above the ground, and the space under the bed for sitting and reading or playing games. I join the fun too and heave myself up the little ladder. Nothing makes you feel your age more than having to climb a ladder and expertly swing your leg over on a bunk bed without getting your arms and legs in a tangle. Holy crap, I was never meant to be a fire fighter.

Was it weird to have my son suspended from wooden 2×4′s 5 feet off the ground that my non-carpenter husband constructed? Yes. But the amount of bracing and bolts in the thing assured me it’s not going anywhere.

That night Owen is more than excited to go to bed and try out his new sleep digs. All his bedding is ready. He’s lined up his stuffed animals and pillow pets along the wall and railing as an extra barricade.

I don’t bother climbing up there. One, I’m scared my weight will be the tipping point for the wooden slats to bow without yielding. Two, it’s just really hard to get up there.

Owen doesn’t care. He’s snuggled in and ecstatic to go to sleep! I get up on my tippy toes and he leans to the railing for me to give him a kiss. He kisses me on the cheek. “Love you, good night, sleep well.” Is what he always says. I kiss him on his cheek, and steal a kiss on the top of his head, I rub his head a little extra and fluff his hair. Giving his arm a squeeze and leave him as I turn out the light and shut the door.

And then it hits me like a curve ball. No more can I lean down and kiss him goodnight or kiss him good morning and lean in to smell his head and put my nose in the curve of his neck. How did I not see this coming? Had I remembered this, the last night in his old bed, I would have done extra snuggles. I felt completely blind-sided. I hadn’t prepared for this stage of the parenting game.

My heart was broken. A little something died in me.

I know that sounds melodramatic. But he is my baby. My very tall, gangly limbed 10 year old baby. He’s a mama’s boy. And a little piece of his childhood went away with that old twin bed he’d been in since he was 2.

With all the excitement of the new bed, the wondering if James was really truly going to build this thing, I had forgotten about the sentimental aspect of what the old bed meant.

You always think of the transition from crib to Big Boy bed. It’s a huge deal. And seeing that crib disassembled and all packed up off to a Craig’s List recipient gives your heart a start, of course.

But I didn’t think of the Big Boy bed to No Longer a Boy but Almost a Teenager bed.

I see the horizon already of puberty and adolescence with Owen. His moods are changing. His sleep habits are evolving to where I need to wake him for school and he’s no longer MY alarm clock. He gets angry easily and pouts more often. A sign of the surging testosterone in his body. Oh help us. We braced ourselves when Emma went through this hormone tornado, and is STILL going through this. But the first couple years seem to be a different storm.

The cusp of child to pre-teen is even more difficult than full blown teendom. It’s confusing. It’s vexing. He’s a little boy still, you think. How can this be?

I’ve noticed a few changes over the months. Less cuddles on the couch. XBOX and hanging with his friends has replaced our sessions of Harry Potter movie watching. A trip to Barnes & Noble or a coffee shop for a treat with mom is not as fun as getting to play Halo at the neighbor’s.

For some reason, this has been harder than when Emma approached teenage-hood. She was always independent. Ditching me at a play place or preschool to go off with her friends or make new friends. Owen was my apron string clinger. Mild mannered, even tempered and my little shadow.

Funny, what I would pay today to get one more session on the couch of his chubby cuddles watching a Harry Potter movie. He’s all angles and corners now! No more baby pudge anywhere! He’s all his dad. Lean, tall and not an ounce of fat anywhere.

My takeaway from all this – I’m climbing that stupid ladder to his bed to kiss him goodnight. Sometimes I’ll lay next to him and give him an extra squeeze. He lets me. It’s not a pretty sight watching me arrange myself at the top, but I figure, while I’m able- I will climb it.

In a blink he won’t let me up there anymore, I know. He’ll be hairy, deep-voiced, and all hormones and in high school. Let me put it this way- I won’t WANT to be up there.

So I take what I can while it’s there. Parenting is so much hindsight. Well, here’s some foresight for you from me- breathe in the backs of the head right at the neck when you wake them up in the morning. Or, ha, realistically, when they come in to wake you up!

Oh, and if you think I’m climbing up there to change the sheets, no way. Owen knows that’s his job now.

 

 My son got a new loft bed. And my heart broke.

Bullying. Who’s to blame?

If you blame the times we live in, such as social media, the Internet and reality television, on why there’s a lot of bullying today, you’re missing a whole bunch.

We know bullying has been around for decades. We hear about it more now, sure. There’s new ways of bullying, this is certain. Or I should say, new ways of targeting a victim. But it has been around since original sin, I’m guessing. At least since Ralph from A Christmas Story, Nellie from Little House on the Prairie, or more poignant tales, like Judy Blume’s Blubber. Most recently famous, the movie Mean Girls had a burn book- a tome of hate-filled vengeance. No internet or social media there. Just old fashioned nastiness.

I just don’t want parents to turn a blind eye and think that because they shelter their children from outside aspects and influences, their children will not fall prey nor be perpetrators of bullying behavior.

 

Let me tell you a story about someone I know.

There was a little girl with special needs. She was developmentally delayed since infancy. Her life was a struggle of therapists, doctor appointments and medical mysteries. Milestones didn’t come easily for her like other kids. She didn’t learn to walk until she was well past the age of 2. She wouldn’t speak until the age of 5.

When it was time for junior high, she went off to school like all the other girls her age. But something about her was different. Special Ed kids they called them, or kids that rode the short bus, were easy to pick out. They had Down’s Syndrome or Cerebral Palsy or some other disability ‘more obvious’. Not this girl. This girl looked mostly ‘normal’ on the outside, but was developmentally delayed on the inside. It was hard to place her. Administrators would integrate her with mainstream kids as well as offer her special education.

Socially she was awkward.  She seemed immature for her 13 years now that she was in junior high. But her parents did what parents do. You send your kids to school and you want them to get an education, to acclimate to their peers, to socialize.

Well, sadly, this girl was the target of many other girls, and probably boys too. Mean girls. Such an easy victim to taunt, make fun of, point and laugh at. She didn’t know how to speak up for herself. She probably had her pants pulled up too high, or her shirt untucked, or her sweater askew, things that weren’t ‘cool’ to the other kids. She had terrible teeth. Gray from medications given to her as a baby. The awkward teen years were accentuated by braces and glasses. She seemed to walk somewhat duck like. Her legs never getting the gait and stride my parents hoped for her.

Maybe she said the wrong things in certain situations. Maybe she picked her nose in front of the other kids or chewed her finger nails.

She wasn’t fashionable, or good with hair and makeup. She tried, but it was especially hard. School was hard. Just understanding the material was difficult sometimes. But navigating through puberty and the hazing of her classmates was devastatingly hard.

There were no cell phones. There was no Internet. No Instagram or SnapChat. But there were their laughs and snide remarks. Their late night prank phone calls. Their locker room taunts. Notes written on paper. Pranks behind her back. Like the obscene word written in permanent marker on the back of a brand new winter coat. I think that was devastating to those parents and their hard earned money as it was for the victim, blindly walking around school like that.

Who is this girl? This girl is my sister. Leslie. Today, she is a 49 year old developmentally delayed adult living with my parents. She needs care and an appointed guardian. She can’t live on her own, drive a car, or have a family of her own.

The time I was speaking of her childhood was in the 1970s. I was too young to know what was going on. I’m 8 years younger.

But I knew there were struggles. I knew when my mom was furious communicating with administrators. I knew when she intercepted rude and cruel phone calls. I didn’t understand the pain.

There was no Anti-Bullying Awareness in schools. Sometimes the excuse, “kids will be kids”, was used.

My point is this- If you think bullying is a problem in this day and age because of all the technological tools that are out there, and that if you keep your kids from cell phones or reality television that they are less of either becoming a victim, or becoming a bully themselves; you are sadly mistaken.

Bullying is a problem today because of shitty human nature.

Yeah. I can’t explain it like a psychologist could. But that’s really what it comes down to.

Kids can be mean. Grown ups can be mean.

My suggestion-  Watch what you say about other people around your children.

If you are critical or degrading about strangers or celebrities and your children hear you, they could model that talk for themselves.

Using deprecating words like wuss, slut, lazy, slob in your home vocabulary can also rub off. Don’t make things like hairstyles, weight or clothing a focus of judgement when you’re around your kids. Do you get mad at other drivers while driving with your kids in the car? Do you yell at players of sports teams when they lose the game? Or maybe you’re the opposite. Everything is sweet and kind but you’ve stuck your head in the sand when it comes to recognizing what kind of kid your kid actually is.

Be nice. Kids might learn to be assholes if you’re an asshole. Usually bullies are bullied somewhere else in their lives. I’m not saying that the parents of the kids that bullied my sister were total assholes. Who knows? I bet the majority of those young people have grown up with children of their own, and have done a decent job raising them. I wish I knew.

I would love to show them that while they are off living their lives of independence, the weak and helpless teen that they thought was fun to make fun of; uses a cane and leg braces, has limited hearing and mobility. Still relies on her parents to get her places.  Has had two brain surgeries. Is that funny to you now? I didn’t think so.

Pay attention to your children and their relationships. The dynamics that they engage in around their peers. Monitor their phones and computers- absolutely. But spend time with them around other kids. Observe and don’t assume.

Kids do stupid stuff. Help them to be empathetic, compassionate people. With or without technology.

October is Bullying Awareness Month. I wanted to tell Leslie’s story. I think all the stories need to be told.

Mother Theresa says the most important thing we can do as a person is to be kind. Yes, yes it is.

 

 

Darn. It’s not broken.

I mean- yay. (Pfft.)

 

Remember when you were a kid, and you wanted a cast on your arm, just like the one little Bobby at school got when he fell off the monkey bars, because everyone got to sign it, and he had a note that he couldn’t do PE. Remember that?  And he told the class that his mom bought him ice cream and let him pick what he wanted for dinner that night and he didn’t have to do his chores because of his big owie?

I was so jealous of little Bobby. His life seemed so perfect. Chill-axing, watching cartoons and nursing his big cast-arm.

I mean, I didn’t WANT a broken arm per say. I wanted the attention, note from PE, excuse not to do chores, and dinner and ice cream.

So when this week I thought for sure I might’ve broken my foot, I admit, I was a little bummed when the doctor told me it would heal eventually on its own and that it was nerve damage, not a break, and to just limit my Zumba.

Limit my Zumba? Have you seen my ass lately doctor? So you’re telling me that my foot really isn’t THAT injured, so I should be able to do all the regular shit and chores I normally do, but just hobble around awkwardly until it heals? Even though I’m in a boat load of pain? Oh swell.

Here- let me catch you up on what happened.

About a month ago, I was playing soccer with Owen. We were goofing around in the front yard. I kicked the ball to him and felt massive pain in my foot. Right at my toe. I knew something was wrong. But I soldiered on and ignored it. I’m tough like that.

For weeks, I’ve been putting pain patches on, acupuncture, and even castor oil packs. Ancient healing methods haven’t been successful. I’m used to living in pain. Migraines, cramps, angry stuck ovaries, and bad feet. So you know, whatever. I can deal.

Went to Zumba for the first time in a LONG time. (Remember this Zumba story here?)

And I had so much fun! I could feel my ass melting away. I must’ve burned 600 calories dropping it low. About 3/4 of the way through, my foot was screaming in pain and asking me to stop dropping it so low. It felt like it was on fire.

So I eased up on my booty shaking and took it easy. That night it was incredibly tender and sore. The next morning it was just as bad.

As I was doing my Target run (hobble) and errands, I was in so much pain, I gimped on over to the Urgent Care that is in the same shopping complex.

Once it was my turn, they have me step on the scale. And to add insult (literally) to injury (literally), the scale mocked me an extra 5 pounds.

My day was going so nicely. (Insert sarcasm) I was in pain, started Aunt Flo, and was gaining weight by the second.

I asked the nurse if they served wine and chocolate. She chuckled. But no, they don’t.

When the initial x-rays showed no break, they sent me to an orthopedic specialist to determine if it was a stress fracture or something. The next day I saw the specialist.

Nice guy. But not nice enough to give me a big boot, vicodin, and a note telling my family to do all the work because mommy has to rest. Dang him!

Instead of that, he gave me a shot of cortisone and told me that the pain was nerve damage, not bone damage. I have a history of  neuromas and they are a bitch. Apparently, I pissed one off. So yeah.

The shot of cortisone hurt like a mother f–ker. I won’t lie. And it took awhile for the cortisone to kick in. I’m not allowed to go for any runs, skips, hops, Zumba classes, or track and field events. Darn- I was really looking forward to those.

What I am allowed to do is- make dinner, pack lunches, scrub toilets, scoop cat poop, vacuum, do laundry and get the groceries.

Dammit. Where is that doctor’s note when you want it??

Oh well, the good news is, since it isn’t broken, I will be in ship shop shape to attend BlogHer in Chicago at the end of July with all my blogging pals and fellow authors of the Pee book. It’s going to be so exciting!

Summer break hasn’t started yet in these parts, so at least while the kids are in school, I should rest up my foot. Excuse me, a new episode of Real Housewives of New Jersey is on. Gotta go.

 

 

The birds, the bees and uhm, ‘other stuff’

Show of hands- how many of you included a discussion about oral sex in the ‘sex talk’ with your pre-teens?

Hmm? Not too many of you I’m guessing. Now I’m no expert on child psychology or ‘the talk’. But let me share with you a little frank discussion I had recently with Emma. And she caught me off guard. We were driving in the car, so I needed to answer these completely sober. No cocktails were involved. No liquid courage to help. Deep breath. We’re going in.

Okay, the other night, Emma and I had some time just to ourselves. Lately we’ve been getting these afternoons or an evening together because the boys are entrenched in select soccer try-outs and spring tournaments. So they get to do their thing, and we do our thing.

Emma asks as we’re driving home from dinner, ‘Mom, was dad the only person you had sex with?’ Cue breaks screeching sound. Uhm, whoa there chica. I didn’t know we were having THIS conversation right now!

Me, “Uhm, yes.” There was a hint of doubt in my voice she detected. (Mom you can stop reading right here. Thanks- love you!)

Emma, “Mom, be honest now.”

Me, “Well, yes and no. Had I been intimate with some fellas before your dad? – yes. I was 23 when I met your father and I had some time to make out with other guys in college (not many, mind you) before I met daddy and so I had some experience with uhm, that stuff.” AWKWARD!

Emma, “Have you ever touched a pee pee with your mouth?” Her words, not mine!

Me, “Geeze kid! What are you doing with me here?!”

You could tell it was taking a lot of courage on her part. So I kept my cool. I could see she had some things going on in her mind, and I didn’t want to ruin this moment of her opening up to me. I also didn’t want to talk about blow jobs with my 13 year old!

I literally pulled the car over into a neighborhood and put it in park. I realized this conversation needed some attention and I wanted to make the most out of it.

So this is what I told her.  Feel free to take notes because afterwards, I felt like I totally nailed this. Really, parenting win moment coming up in 3, 2, 1…

“A lot of kids in middle school and high school are probably experimenting with oral sex. Guys might tell girls that blow jobs are harmless, don’t count as sex and also, you can’t get pregnant so it’s a win-win, right? No. Oral sex is just as intimate, it counts for sex and it means a whole lot more than you think it means. You can still get an STD from it and it is a big deal.”

Emma, “Isn’t it weird? Who wants a penis in their face?”

This is the right answer coming from a 13 year old!! Yes, who wants a penis in their face anyway? (silent prayer to myself, please help me Jesus that this child will not see a penis until she’s 30!)

I immediately thought of the scene in the movie Bridesmaids when Annie and Lillian are having brunch and Annie (Kristen Wiig) is confessing of her sleepover with her ex and reenacting a penis or a one-eyed snake using her facial expressions.

Me, “What you need to understand is that there will come a time when you’re kissing a boy and he’ll want to go further than just kissing. You will probably too.”

Emma, “That’s gross, I don’t want to do any of that!”

Me, “Now, right. If you think penises are gross, you have no business being near one. This clearly shows you are not mature to handle the situation.  However,  maybe when you’re 15 or 16 you will want to. Not that that’s an okay age either to have sex. You are going to think it feels good to be with a boy and you will be just as interested in having him touch you as he wants to touch you. Sex is a nice thing. It’s awesome. When you’re an adult and responsible and with someone you can trust. Whether those grown ups have intercourse like regular procreating mammals (cue laughter from Girl right here) or decide they want to enjoy each others’ bodies with their hands, OR mouths- is up to them. (Cue grossed out noises from Girl right here.) Let me stress- adults- not teenagers.  Feeling in love, loving someone and enjoying them is a perfectly wonderful thing. Just not when you’re 14.”

Emma didn’t believe me when I told her this. The part about her wanting to be with a boy. And that is understandable considering her age now. She’s convinced she’s not making out with a boy until she’s married to him. I explained that it’s unrealistic to think that. If she doesn’t want to kiss a boy or be with someone until her 20s or 30s, then great. But if she realizes that she’s kissing a boy and she’s 15 and she’d like to see how far it will go, then that’s when she needs to stop and think.

I want her to know that she needs to value herself. No boy is worth compromising for. Don’t do something with a guy because you’re afraid if you don’t that he won’t like you anymore. If you do end up doing anything you don’t want to, you’ll end up not liking yourself. And that’s more dangerous than any boy’s acceptance or rejection. Love yourself more than any other boy out there could ever say he loves or likes you.

But, if she’s the girl who wants the boy to do stuff with her and that boy doesn’t want to, she needs to respect him too. Boundaries are important for both sides. If she feels the little sparks of desire start to flicker, she needs to come to me and we can talk about what’s an appropriate solution with handling that until she’s 18 or 19 and on her own. Well, she already knows all about condoms and birth control. But what I want her to understand is that when urges come on strong, she can figure out what to do to not give in. I’m thinking jogging, shopping, macrame? Just kidding.

So there. I hope this helps you. Because heavens knows I got a few extra gray hairs from it and probably lost a few beats of my heart when it skipped.

Am I glad she asked me this? Hell yes. I’m so grateful to be talking with my teenager. That she comes to me with questions. I’m full to the brim with gratitude that she trusts me. I will cultivate this as long as possible. Even if it’s uncomfortable for me, it’s worth it.

 

For some references on talking to your kids about sex, check out Amy Langs blog, The Birds + Bees + Kids Blog.

 

Scary Mommy book review and a Mother’s Day Giveaway

 

Hey it’s Mother’s Day next week. You know what that means? Macaroni necklaces and handprint pictures that you will treasure forever. Or not.

Don’t think I’m a bitch for saying this- but sometimes for Mother’s Day, I would actually like a present that isn’t an outline of my child’s hand, or I don’t know, a shower head fixture. Now that the kids are older, I don’t get many egg crate jewelry boxes or seashell decoupages. And not to say I didn’t enjoy the ones I did get in my past. I did. I remember vividly tearing up at the hand print poem Owen gave me the Mother’s day he was in Kindergarten. It was precious. And I understand that McSweetie doesn’t really know what to do with Mother’s day anyway. Do I get a simple bouquet of flowers and call it good? Or do I need a giant diamond pendant that signifies all the fabulous things I do each and every day?

Well, neither.

I think flowers are a rip-off at Mother’s Day. They jack up the prices. And a giant diamond pendant is a little ridiculous. Just a little. A medium-sized diamond pendant wouldn’t be that ridiculous though…

So let’s be real here. We want to share all the real things we love and hate about Mother’s Day. You know there are those things that suck about it! And I thought what would be more perfect than a review of an awesome new book. Recently, I got the privilege of a copy of the new book Scary Mommy; Motherhood Comes Naturally  (and Other Vicious Lies) by Jill Smokler. I was tickled that I got a preview of the book from her publisher and I couldn’t wait to share my book review with you. It does not disappoint.

If you come from the point of view that motherhood isn’t all baby powder freshness and cooing lullabies, you will love Jill’s book. This is a second installment of her Scary Mommy tales. All I can say is, where was this woman when Emma was a baby?

Some Scary Mommy Confessions you can probably relate to:

“I beat my kids at Super Mario Bros. and proceeded to do a victory dance that made them all cry. Whoops.”

“For Mother’s Day, I will trim my pubes. And then I’ll pleasure myself while fantasizing about child-free days, endless bottles of wine, and the time when my husband was actually sexy.”

And my favorite-

“For years we’ve been assuming our daughter is just in an annoying phase. Turns out, she’s actually just really annoying.”

 

So for all you hard working, (every mom is a working mom) tireless, selfless mothers out there- I’m doing something special.

Enter for a chance to win a copy of Motherhood Comes Naturally (and Other Vicious Lies) by Jill Smokler, and I will throw in a copy of I Just Want To Pee Alone! As a bonus giveaway- if you prove in the comments with a link to a social media site that you told your friends about Scary Mommy’s book, I will randomly select a winner for something special by ME! No macaroni necklaces here, this will be a great load of loot, I promise.

Jill has been crazy busy promoting her book on the Today show and is starting a book tour- Find her cities here. 

I want to help her sell a ton of books. She has three kids to put through college people- or pay for therapy, either way.

So enter and share!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Be nice to your kids, they will pick your nursing home.

Oh my lawd! I’m gonna tell you a story so you better get comfy. Speaking of comfy- my dad broke his hip last week, so comfy he is NOT. If you are reading this with all your bones in tact, then you better be thankful.

So let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start (channeling my Maria VonTrapp). Last week, my 81 year old father, in his attempt to show my mom his foot for her to find a sliver he thought he felt; in an extremely dextrous fashion, he lifted his sockless foot on the table for her to observe with a light and a magnifying glass. Before you can say ‘orthopedic trauma’, he falls backwards and lands on his left hip. In agony he tries to get himself up. No luck. My mom tries to help. No luck. I wasn’t there, but she said his yelps of pain were somewhat sickening. I’ve written about my dad before, here and here, he’s a strong, self-reliant gentleman, who has never been in such a helpless state like this.

Even after my mom called over their neighbor to help him up, it was clear he needed an ambulance.

They called 911 and off he went to the Emergency Room. I met my mom there and they wheeled dad into x-ray. A fracture of the femural neck was evident. 3 shots of morphine later, he was still miserable. A shot of Valium into his IV helped him relax, but it was a long night.

He actually doesn’t remember it, thankfully. Our body’s defense mechanism to not remember pain is quite a blessing.

A day and a half later, he had surgery to correct the fracture and my mom and I spoke with the surgeon post operation. He was very  clear that in my dad’s age range, and in order to return him to his status quo of health, he needed to get up and learn to walk, with the help of a walker, right away. (This is foreshadowing people.)

My mom was concerned for his discharge since they live in a split level house. Everything he would need would be on the main floor- kitchen, bed, toilet, bath; but there were 13 stairs in the way of his destination. How would she get him in the house?

When the option of post-op rehab, covered by insurance, in a facility was brought up to her, she considered it, especially as a way for him to gain strength on his walker to become more mobile and eventually be able to get in the house. Easy peasy, right?

WRONG!

Once he was discharged they transported him to the nursing home- let’s not sugar coat it. This was a nursing home. Even though they advertise as a “post-op orthopedic rehab facility”. BULL. SHIT.

It was a nursing home.

My mom immediately got the wrong vibe at this place and felt bad for leaving my dad there. He was in the wing with all the dementia and permanent residents. Translation- the droolers and wanderers of the place. A woman who likes to sit in the middle of the floor. Or  another woman who constantly asks where the bathroom is, even though she lives there. So sad. Truly. My grandmother spent her last years in a home suffering from dementia, I know what it looks like. If I ruled the world, my Utopia would be beautiful rest homes for old folks that are free and run like 5 star hotels. But I digress…

My dad is not a whiner. My dad has lived on beans and toast for dinner during lean times. He doesn’t expect a lot. But when nursing staff doesn’t treat him as a respectable, lucid adult and also neglects to get him out of his wheel chair throughout the day- even though it is explicitly the surgeons orders for him to do so, he becomes frustrated.

And folks, the beds were hand crank beds, not mechanically adjustable, and the dresser and bureau drawers were broken. The TV only got four channels and the valences on the windows were from 1984. I’m picturing corporate off at the Miraval spa retreat enjoying the residuals they get from Medicare and keeping the overhead pretty low by cutting on corners, like, hmm, let’s say, no defibrillators  on the walls for GOSH SAKES!

I’ve seen more defibrillators in an airport or school gymnasium.

We now launch Operation Get My Dad Out of this Shithole.

Mom heads over to the hospital and gets orders from the surgeon to get him an ambulance home and EMTs to get him up the stairs. She’s hoping these orders are covered by insurance. This is what she was told, so we’re sticking to it.

Mom makes an appointment with the Rehab Manager, the nurse somethingorother and the Social Services coordinator at the Shithole place to discuss their poor care of my dad.

I join the conversation. My mom is sweet. Kind. She has notes, she apologizes and tells them it’s not personal.

Social Services lady says she is sorry. Asks what they can do to make it better for my dad. Wishes she was able to .. blah blah blah waa waa waa waa waa (You know the Peanuts cartoon? This is how the grown ups sounds. This is what I heard coming out of their mouths.)

Lady tells my mom she wants her to understand that my dad can leave on his own accord, but it will be AMA (against medical advice) to which I want to say, “What medical advice? You let him sit in a wheel chair for 48 hours and never took him to physical therapy.) But I did not.

The meeting concluded and mom and I devised our strategy. We took him back to his room. Packed up his things.

She headed to the hospital pharmacy and got his pain medication prescription filled. Even though Nurse Ratched said she’d be happy to provide him with some before his transport, we decided not to count on anything. I stayed in the room with him and waited. Mom wanted to call the ambulance service- she had the signed paperwork- but she had to get him the meds first AND get the house ready and roll up the area rugs. Details are important people.

My dad and I sat and waited. I went to the coffee machine and sneaked a mocha in for him. The machine had a sign that read, “beverages too hot out of this machine, patients and residents are not allowed to drink beverages from this machine.” My dad has to have his coffee and tea extra hot, so this was perfect. I made sure no one saw me bring it to his room. Which added to the clandestine feel of Operation Get My Dad Out Of This Shithole.

Then my mom calls and tells me she’s waiting for the Oxycontin but the insurance company actually has to SPEAK to the doctor. The written prescription isn’t good enough for serious narcotics like this. UGH. Whatever!

Wait some more.

Mom calls again. Screw the insurance company, she paid cash for the pills and will get reimbursed later. She can’t wait for the doctor, that could be hours. She’s going to call the ambulance transport to come get him and will I meet her in the parking lot to get his Oxycontin for him. I see the movie version of this with Shirley Maclaine and Emma Stone by the way.

So I go out to the parking lot and get his prescription. I jokingly told her, “thanks for making me a mule for dad’s drugs!” <== a sense of humor is key in these Delta Force like missions.

When I got to dad’s room he says, “Do you have the D-R-U-G-S?”

Me, “Dad, I think people can spell around here.”

Then mom called again, the ambulance was going to be there to get him within 30 minutes.

Hooray! We wanted out of this place.

When they arrived in the hallway with their stretcher and wearing their navy blue polyester uniforms, my heart lifted. They were friendly, professional, joked with my dad, enjoyed his dry humor and British accent. They strapped him in and we rolled down the hall.

EMT Nate was filling out paperwork with Nurse Ratched and I heard her say, “no the patient hasn’t received any rehab.” Boom. Yeah, suckas, that’s why we’re busting this joint.

I told the EMTs why my dad had to leave. They said, “you don’t have to tell us twice. We’ve seen these places, they aren’t pretty. At least this one doesn’t smell so bad it burns your eyeballs.” Hmm, they had a point. It did smell decently.

They loaded dad and I texted mom to put the tea kettle on ‘cuz HE WAS COMING HOME!

Now the hard part began for the EMTs.

They contemplated the stairs and the stretcher. Of course, smart-ass me asks what the big deal is, the EMTs that got him to the hospital in the first place had to get him down the stairs. Well, they explained to me that getting down is easier than up, AND there’s usually about 6 folks at a site between EMTs and fire fighters. Sure enough, my mom described one of the EMTs that night as big and burly. These guys bringing my dad home were actually on the small side.

Once they determined it was easier to carry him up the stairs in a Baby Bjorn, they spun into action. Okay, it wasn’t a Baby Bjorn, but it was a plastic sling with handles. They got him up the stairs and into his awaiting chair.

My mom made friends with the EMTs, she makes friends with everyone. And friend requested them on Facebook, exchanged Twitter handles and took a few selfies. Just kidding!

I remembered to take the bottle of pain pills out of my purse and give them to my mom. Not that I didn’t think of keeping maybe, just one. Nope, that’s illegal folks!

Dad got a cup of tea and I did too. And mom took a shot of tequila. Okay, just kidding again. She didn’t, but I think she could’ve used it!

Since then, dad has been great in getting up on his own with his walker. Getting to his bed and the bathroom, slowly, but surely. And the nurses and PTs that come to the house check his pro-times (blood clotting) and all that, so he’s in good hands.

And most importantly, Operation Get My Dad out of this Shithole, was a success.

Here’s to being kind to your kids in case you need them to bust you out of a nursing home one day.

 

 

 

 

All of a sudden, I’m the mother of a teenager

How did this happen? Grammarians, is it ‘mother of a teenager’ or ‘mother to a teenager’? I’m stuck. But either way. There’s a teenager living in my house.

Do you ever day dream into the future? I get caught sometimes jumping ahead of myself and thinking forward to the years of when Emma will be in high school. I have to almost catch my breath. I realize that I will blink and she will be off to college. Am I jumping the gun a little? Maybe. I remember when she was born, I fast forwarded in my head to maybe around her being 2 years old. And I thought, will I still like her? Gladly, the answer was yes. And still is.

Once upon a time, what feels not so long ago, I was anxiously awaiting the birth of this precious girl. I mean very anxiously. I had been on strict bed rest (not able to be on my feet for any more than 20 minutes per day) for the last 10 weeks of my pregnancy. I was ready for her to come out!

When she finally did, I felt the universe shift, my earth mother instincts kick in (okay, not really, sort of) and I could SMELL her. I literally smelled her when they placed her on me and she was the sweetest, most amazing smell ever. It was HER. I would smell her daily many times a day those next few weeks and months.

I miss that smell. Now I smell passion fruit or vanilla body spray or Dove deodorant. Maybe some Pink Sugar perfume or L’Oreal Elnett hairspray. Sometimes I smell some stinky armpits that smell like a Mexican buffet or her stinky shoes that smell like sour vinegar and Gruyere cheese.

When she was just a few days old, she was laying in her bassinet, asleep. She was on her side and her little profile was cherubic. Seriously, she was the most adorable baby. She looked like a painting. I burst into tears. My boobs hurt, my gut and crotch hurt and I couldn’t get over how amazing it was to have this child. I was the happiest woman on the planet, with the best baby on earth. Ever. That’s how it felt anyway.

I won’t sugar coat it (okay, I already kind of have) but there were moments of that first week of post-partum, I wondered what I got myself into. My nipples were torn open and bleeding due to poor latching on Emma’s part. Of course, I didn’t know any better and endured this for a whole week before the Lactation experts told me to get on a breast pump STAT and give my boobses a rest.

I was so tired I couldn’t see straight. Sometimes I would just cry for no reason. Well, duh. Of course there was a reason- I was hormonal and exhausted. Who’s brilliant idea was this??

Somehow I managed to get a rhythm to this parenting thing. The breast feeding finally clicked, it only took 3 weeks (pshaw), she never did sleep through the night, but I adjusted to her waking up at 4 am as part of our routine. She didn’t start sleeping completely through the night regularly until she was almost 5, that little stinker! Now I can’t wake her up for school. Totally figures.

When she was six months old, she was nursing on me. She took a bite of my boob and when I yelped in pain and when I looked down at her to tell her ‘no’, she smiled up at me. Oh boy did that push some buttons! I felt like she knew she was hurting me. Like she knew she was testing me. Maybe I was overreacting. But at that moment, I knew I had my work cut out for me and she would be a challenge. A good challenge. But definitely a crafty little thing.

She challenges me all the time. She keeps me on my toes. Sometimes she brings me to tears because she hurts my feelings. I know she doesn’t mean to hurt me. I know that I probably annoy the hell out of her with my goofy jokes, loud laugh and chit chat with the other moms. But still, she pushes my buttons like a college kid and a microwave. Beep, beep, beep. Pick a setting-’highly annoyed’, ‘ready to yell’, ‘losing my shit’; that’s how she can be to me.

So here we are. On the brink of another turning point. 13 years old. A teenager. Am I afraid?  A little. Am I excited for all the possibilities she has in store? Yes. More than anything.

I look at her and see a better version of myself. Like a 2.0 of a prototype. She’s already mastered social interactions and fashion taste and make up application far better than I ever did at that age! And don’t even get me started on her perfect teeth. Yes, she’ll eventually need braces, but she sure dodged a bullet and skipped the awkward years. Of course, Owen has made up for that and will need orthodontia probably before Emma gets it!

So Emma, if you ever read this, know how much I love you. Know that even though your heart might break a few times in life, or you don’t find yourself exactly where you thought you would be, you are the best you I could ever ask for. You make the world better. You shine your light wherever you go. No matter what you do, or who you are with, because of you- the world is better with you in it.

 

Do you see this perfection?? She’s ADORABLE! Okay, I’m biased, but COME ON.

Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures is now in a really non-crappy book

Do you know the blog, Parenting: Illustrated with Crappy Pictures? If you don’t, you need to.

Here’s why:

It’s funny

She nails the parenting stuff to a ‘T’

The pictures really aren’t that crappy (okay, maybe a little), but make everything more funny.

 

Her book comes out this week and I was thrilled that I received an early-bird copy to get to read. Oh my goodness- I snorted out loud! My husband wondered what I was reading. He thought it might be that I was re-reading I Just Want to Pee Alone. True- I snorted at that too, but this time, it was Crappy Pictures I was laughing at.

Here’s some of my favorite highlights-from the Chapter- The 50 Crappy Laws of Parenting-

Law #10- “After a long car drive during which you hoped they would nap, they fall asleep a mile from your destination.”

Law #39- “They only spike a fever after the sun goes down and the doctor’s office is closed.”

Law #44- “The baby will fall asleep on you, but only when you have to pee. Very badly.”

Amber has asked her readers what they want her to do in the event her book gets on a best seller list. Like a challenge, per se to encourage people to buy the book.

Here’s some of her kids’ suggestions. By the way- she has two boys they are called Crappy Boy and Crappy Baby-

Here’s one idea

 

I think this is a good one though-

 

My vote is that she takes a real picture of her face and let’s us see her non-crappy self! But going to Disneyland is a good 2nd choice.

I’m giving away a copy of her book to one of you!!

And… wait for it- a copy of I JUST WANT TO PEE ALONE as well!

Yay- everyone is happy. By the way, she wrote a review of our book here that you can read. And low and behold, she graced us with some of her fine artwork. I just love it!

 

Here’s what you have to do:

Enter according to the Rafflecopter instructions, it gives you all kinds of chances to win.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can always buy the book as well!

I can’t please everyone

“Get a hobby.”

“Get a job.”

“Clean your house more often.”

“Let down your hair and blow off steam.”

“You should go out with your girl friends.”

“Why do you go out so much?”

“Pay attention to your kids more.”

If I did nothing but look after my house all day, people would think I’m weird and need a hobby. If I just sat around and did a hobby all day, people would think I needed to work more. It’s called balance people. I do what works for my family. Not yours.

Why are people so judgey? I didn’t ask your opinion. Okay, I just did about the judgey question, but before that. Why do people judge my parenting based on how often I’m on the internet? Shouldn’t they judge my parenting based on my kids themselves?

I’m a SAHM (Stay At Home Mom). It’s a lame term. I don’t just stay home. Sometimes I do. Sometimes all I can do is wait for the kids to leave the house for the school bus so I can watch Sherlock on Netflix or Downton Abbey. I make myself lattes and eat baked goods and am in clear denial as to the amount of work I actually have to get done. It’s a coping mechanism.

Then there’s some days I leave the house around 9 am and don’t get home until 7:30 or 8 at night. Between errands, appointments, volunteering and taking the kids to their activities, I am non-stop.

On a really good day, I’ll throw in some laundry between errands and empty the dishwasher. On a fabulous day, I’ll prepare a dinner that is nutritious AND delicious. Whoa.

So if you’re wondering, no, I don’t spend my whole day on Facebook. Or my blog.

I blog when I can, usually after the kids go to bed. Or when they’ve left for school.

Why am I even telling you this? Because there’s bloggers and moms and dads out there who seem to share their opinions freely about how horrible us blogging, Instagraming, Facebooking, and Pinteresting moms are. And I’m tired of it.

I’m pretty sure my kids are totally fine while I sit here next to them and I’m on my computer. Or wait in the carpool line on my phone. And when they were younger, how many times did I hear, “mommy watch this!” and for the one millionth time I was shown how they could spin and forward roll. Or burp. I didn’t miss any milestones of my children’s development because I was on the internet. My children are not maladjusted because I don’t give them every breathing, waking second of my attention. No, in fact. They are independent beings that know how to wipe their own ass. (Most of the time.)

Now with the book, I Just Want to Pee Alone out and kicking book selling butt- I want to be clear that I am in support of other moms who share their candid tales of parenting and motherhood, pregnancy and post-partum, and not just do it honestly, but hilariously! The kind of stories you laugh so hard at over a Girls Night Out when someone shares the story of how they gave birth, that you pee your pants, or spew your cosmo out your nose. Don’t all moms pretty much share their birth stories?

Then there’s my marriage. If I make a few jokes about McSweetie, can we not jump to conclusions that I must be a nightmare to live with? Can we not think my marriage must be miserable and my husband so pussy whipped, he doesn’t know what hit him? If I was a stand-up comic and did this piece about how husbands can behave like children, there would be a lot of women who agree with me. Or husbands that agree with me about their spouse being childlike. But put it in a blog, and all of a sudden, I’m Dr. Phil and I need to stop giving marital advice and stop emasculating my husband. Trust me, a list about how my husband doesn’t pick up his underwear, doesn’t emasculate him.

He admits to his foibles. He knows he can be lazy around the house. So what? I get something off my chest, a few others laugh about it and tell me they relate, I feel better. Life goes on. We don’t have to psycho analyze it into a marriage crisis, people! I’m actually pretty awesome to be married to. I wash his shorts, make his lattes, encourage him and his career, send him off to heavy metal concerts with his buddies, take care of his mother’s birthday… I’m a pretty damn good wife.

Here let me interview McSweetie on his feelings about this….

Oh, sorry, he was asleep on the couch. I’ll ask him later.

Okay, are we cool? Because I’m a little tired of people getting their knickers in a twist. Just chill the fluff down. I can’t please everyone, so I please me. And my family. Thankyouverymuch.

And if you haven’t yet- buy the damn book!