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A friend gave me Jennifer Weiner’s book, Little Earthquakes, to read. I was glad she did, too, because this isn’t a book I’d have pulled off the shelf on my own, and so by her passing it on, I got to read something that was fresh and new to me.

The book centers on four women who are all new moms (well, three of them are…one of the women has lost her baby to SIDS…a tragedy). The notion is that new motherhood is terrifically difficult–much more so than we may be led to believe by a society that focuses on which stroller or diaper bag we should register for, or which darling outfit we’ll bring the baby home in…that kind of thing. The truth is, the first year of motherhood is baptism by fire.

For some (like myself) early motherhood is an exercise in humility, in self-doubt, and most of all, an exercise in extreme, relentless exhaustion. Jennifer Weiner captures all of this well. She chronicles with humor how strangers and family members alike offer up well-meaning advice, and how it invariably leads one to feel resentment…as in “Thank you very much for your opinion…now beat it.”

This book is an amusing and warm read, even if you are not a mom. If you are a new mom, well then, enjoy this during one of your 3:00 a.m. feedings. You’ll find something of yourself in one (if not all) of the characters.

A Christmas Tradition.

December 14, 2006

I’m one of those people that think I can do everything, anything, even in the face of a stressful event.  For instance:  my husband had a scheduled surgery this week.  Even knowing this, I went ahead and agreed to do things I’d have a hard time completing even on the most easy week.  Add Christmas shopping and all the Holiday stuff you do this time of year and you’ve got one crazy, stressful week.  Well, maybe not YOU, per se…but ME.

Stress…my personal Christmas tradition.

Nobody does it better.

December 11, 2006

I went to the movies this weekend, a mini vacation for me.  I couldn’t wait to “get away” in the theatre, away from the not-so-glamorous realities of my life.  A friend came along, and we chatted about whether we’d like the movie or not.  My husband cheerfully stayed home with the kids. 

We went and saw the new James Bond flick, Casino Royale.  Let me tell you, the critics are spot on:  this movie rocks, and Daniel Craig is what the youngsters these days refer to as H-O-T.

After the movie, my friend and I were driving home, talking about the new Bond’s general good looks.  I reflected on the love affair that this James and his Bond girl have.  These are some seriously good-looking people and there’s sexy stuff going on here.  I thought about how I sometimes don’t feel so attractive these days…my “sexiness” (if I ever had it) seems to have evaporated in the face of motherhood and the routine of my suburban life.

But then we walked in the door, my friend and I, to a warm house that was alive with the aromas of a meal being made…a bottle of wine was open and breathing, waiting for us…I caught a glimpse of a beautifully set table, complete with taper candles.  My husband had made an amazing prime rib dinner…the kids were playing happily, content under his watchful eye.  I was reminded of the privileges of my life, and I was thankful for my husband who woos me like this.

The new James Bond is a treat for the eyes, but my guy is the real deal. 

…makes me feel sad for the rest.  Baby, you’re the best.

Flu bug.

December 5, 2006

Question:  Which is worse? Being sick, or taking care of others who are sick?

Answer: Me with bhroncitus AND my two kids are taking turns succumbing to the flu bug (read=throwing up all over mommy).

Yesterday was one of those days–miserable.  Let me capitalize that: MISERABLE.  Both boys were ill, and I was trying to tend to them, bring them juice and crackers, get prescriptions filled, all while scuffling about in my robe with a headache and hacking cough.  By 2:00p.m., I gave up thinking I’d get out of the robe and threw in the towel.   I threw in lots of towels–into the washing machine.  Towels, bed sheets, pillowcases, pajamas…the mountains of laundry that pile up when kids are sick.

Today was much better.  I managed to get dressed, both boys were back to their typical good health, and normalcy ensued.  I caught up on the laundry, cleaned up the multiple juice cups, put away the Pedialyte and Tylenol. 

We’ve squashed the bug for now. 

Exhaustion…mommy-style.

November 22, 2006

I have never known true exhaustion the way I (intimately) know it now. With two sons ages 3 years and under, I know what it is to wake up with dark circles under your eyes, your hair matted to your head, and to not have the energy or desire to do anything about it. 

To those who have had Mono, Epstein-Barr, Chronic Fatigue Syndrom…you know what I’m talking about.  Those who have small children who refuse to sleep through the night (as mine refuse to do)–you know what I’m talking about.  There is a tiredness that seeps deep into the bones and I think it takes somewhere around 24 hours of continuous, uninterrupted sleep to conquer it.

When I was younger, my parents would take my kid brother and I on weekend trips to Vegas.  We’d be tremendously excited on the car ride there–all seven hours of it.  They wouldn’t get a hotel room, though, and so my brother and I would spend the weekend alternating between the car (one parent would stay back with us), a video arcade, or sitting on the floor of a casino lobby. 

I’ve never been one to be able to sleep anywhere except for a bed, so my recollection of those weekends is that I was terribly sleepy and tired, cranky…desperately wanting to lay in a bed.  For years afterward, I’d refer to sleep-deprivation as being “LAS VEGAS TIRED”–as in “I crammed all night for my finals.  I am sooo Las Vegas tired.”  Nobody except perhaps my brother would ever be able to understand this peculiar term.

But now…all these years later…I’ve come up with a new one.  “I’m exhaused—mommy-style.”

Babysitter Gold.

November 6, 2006

For us, getting a babysitter is a big deal.  We don’t have a lot of people clammering to spend quality one-on-one alone time with our kids, so it’s always asking a favor of someone or figuring out financially how much that $40 dinner for Tim and I is really going to cost us (probably around $80 when the babysitter is paid and tipped). 

So, when we do get someone to watch our kids, particularly when they do it for free (or with the casual “no, really…don’t worry about it.  You can watch our kids for us sometime”), we really feel obligated to make the most of the time.  I have anxiety about this.  Last night, for instance. 

We were over at some people’s home, having a lovely dinner and great conversation, and in my head, I’m thinking:  Is this the best use of our time?  Should hubby and I be sitting alone in some romantic restaurant reminiscing on why we fell in love in the first place?  Or should we be at home cleaning out those closets that we can never get to with the kids underfoot?

Last night, I felt guilty not squeezing the most out of our babysitting hours.  I had to remind myself that’s it okay to just be relaxing with friends, talking about things other than child-rearing.  Taking a breath, I enjoyed myself.  I laughed at adult conversation.  I ate my dinner without a child (or two) wanting to sit in my lap.

When it was time to pick up the kids, I thanked our friends for watching the boys and asked when I could watch their kids.  And I hugged my kids close: just those few hours away were gold…it made me want to squeeze my children and I remembered a couple of things:  I’d rather spend time playing than cleaning out closets, and I remembered why I fell in love with them in the first place.

Autumn in the Air.

November 1, 2006

Autumn is in full swing.  You can feel the change in the air today, the day after Halloween.  My son’s Thomas the Train costume will be packed away in case his brother wants to wear it next year, I’ll throw away the used candles from the Jack O’Lanterns…I guess I’ll toss the pumpkins, too. 

So, that leaves the candy.  Tons of candy.  I’m thinking my son’s booty from last night is going to live in the freezer–we can pull one piece out at a time. 

The Holiday Season is now officially under way–Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years…now that Halloween is over, the clock starts ticking for me to purchase Christmas cards, think about what I’ll make for Thanksgiving, etc., etc., etc.  I clearly remember putting away the holiday decorations from last year–can it really be time to pull them all out again?

The days just fly.

Huh, that’s ironic.

October 27, 2006

It’s a Friday night, which usually doesn’t mean a whole lot in our household.  Yep, gone are the days of the Friday Night weekend kick-off, that being a rally cry of “woo hoo! bring on the margaritas!”  No, nowadays, it’s “honey, let’s take the kidlets out for pizza and, maybe spring for an ice cream cone afterwards.”  If we’re feeling really festive, we call around to invite friends who are kid-friendly or who themselves have children.

But not tonight! No, sir.  Tonight we have that wonderful, elusive and rare thing: the babysitter.  I set this up a week ago.  I’ve anticipated it all week.  Get the margarita mix ready, baby…we’ve got a sitter lined up! 

Except now it’s Friday night.  I’ve got to go get my diaper bag all stocked for the sitter, and really, I’m tired and I don’t so much feel like going out.  I don’t feel like changing out of my yucky shirt and jeans for attire appropriate for a restaurant a step up above IHOP.  I don’t really feel like doing a whole lot, in fact.  So I ask myself, what do I feel like we should do tonight?  What sounds good?

Honestly, pizza and an ice cream cone.  Ironic.

Flushed little cheeks…

October 24, 2006

One of the hardest parts of parenting, for me, is not having the answers.  I don’t mean not being able to answer my kid’s questions.  I mean not having the answers that I pose to myself.  After picking up my son at pre-school, he asked me to help get him in his car-seat.  This was a clue…Mr. Independent needs help into his car-seat?  Mr. I-do-it-my-own-self needs help? Uh oh.  Something’s up.  Sure enough, lifting him into his seat, he feel unnaturally warm.  The boy’s got a fever. 

I did the usual things, offered some juice, called the docs to make sure a round of recent inoculations weren’t the culprit, called the hubby to let him know.  Oh, I tried to give some Tylenol, but this particular child is hyper-suspicious of medication so it was a no-go.  So after all the starter tasks were completed, I’m left sitting on the couch, looking at my limp little boy, wondering “Now what?” and “What do I do now?” and then a couple minutes later, “Ummm, what should I do?”

As much as my sons’ energy can tax me, it’s the downtime caused by fever, the sniffles, an aching knee that really throws me for a loop.  You can shout “calm down! everyone take a breather!” when the kids are wound up, but I don’t think it’s quite okay to yell “come on!  be okay! be yourself!” to a sick kid in the converse universe.  Can I get some middle-ground?

Truth is, it’s hard to see your child feeling under the weather.  My son’s flushed little cheeks aren’t caused today by a brisk run (or two) through the house yelling, “Thomas! I’m Thomas the Train!”  Today, its a 102.5 temp that’s got those cheeks so rosy.  Boy, I’d love to hear a “choo choooooo!” right about now.