Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A New Chapter

Before the summer began I added a new chapter to the bad mother saga.

We know that I don’t swaddle.

I’m not available to my kids.

And I cuss.

Like a hell of a lot.

Let’s call this addition “Tacky.” I’m blaming this incident on pregnancy hormones because it makes me feel better.

Before I get into it I’d like to give you just a little back story. One of Savannah’s classmates since first grade, we’ll call her The Girl Who Shall Not Be Named, is rather, let’s say, snooty and manipulative. She has said and done some things to Savannah through the years that has made me not a fan. For instance, she likes to come between Savannah and her best friend.

I’m a protective mother.

OVER protective mother.

FIERCELY over protective mother.

You don’t like my kid? Then I don’t like you. Hmmm…I could stop the tacky story right there, couldn’t I? But, oh no. There’s more.

I was seeing Savannah off at school for her fifth grade trip last spring. I was big, pregnant, and miserable. The Girl Who Shall Not Be Named had heard that we were naming our new baby Pace. She looked at me and said rather sarcastically, “You’re naming your baby after the picante sauce?” She then looked at another girl and laughed.

I mimicked her laughed and matched her sarcasm with my best, responding, “Yeah, we just looove it so much.” Then I added rather pointedly, “No, we’re not naming our baby after a picante sauce,” and rolled my eyes. I glanced back at her and she was staring at me rather stunned. As if my head had just spun around and sprayed her with pea soup.

I immediately felt horrible and petty, and afraid that I had just given her more ammunition to try and ostracize my girl. When the time came for the bus to leave, there sat Savannah…alone. She gave me a wave and then smiled with excitement as the bus pulled out. When she returned four days later she reported that she had had a blast. I breathed a sigh of relief. Her mother’s tacky, immature behavior hadn’t damaged the trip she had been looking forward to all year.

I told Savannah about my run-in with The Girl Who Shall Not Be Named tonight at dinner. She laughed hysterically. I asked her, “Do you think it’s a blog post?”

“Oh yeah,” she giggled.

Can you tell me how a tacky, foul-mouthed, sometimes clueless mother can have such a sweet, laid back daughter?

When I stepped away for a moment while composing this post I came back to find this message,

“Hey mommy! Love ya! – S”

I love my girl.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love with a Side of Guilt Please

I read Eat, Pray, Love and really liked it.

No, let me rephrase that…

I DEVOURED Eat, Pray, Love and absolutely LOVED it.

I was pulled in by Elizabeth Gilbert's writing, captivated with her travels, and jealous of her ability to take a time out…..for a year! Of course, a hefty book advance helps.

My love for the book made me want to share it, so I loaned the book to my mother who has been holding it hostage for a while. I believe we’re on day 526, but I’m not counting. When hype for the movie started, I asked mom if she ever finished it. She admitted that she had barely cracked it and wasn’t sure she wanted to. When I asked why I could tell she didn’t want to tell me, but after a little prodding she caved.

She didn’t have a problem with the eat (Italy) and love (Bali) sections necessarily. It was the prayer section that gave her cause for pause: Elizabeth Gilbert’s time at a meditation center in India.

“How,” my mother asked, “can you go to India to find God, peace, or religion, and not talk about the immense poverty all around you? How can you turn a blind eye to the suffering and just focus on yourself? I think it’s selfish. And you don’t have to go to India to find God or religion. You can find it right here, wherever you are.”

My mom gave me food for thought. Actually, she made me feel like a heel. Not on purpose. She didn't talk down to me or tell me she didn't raise me to be selfish or unaware. I did it to myself. Why hadn’t I realized there was something missing in that tale of self exploration?

I haven’t stopped thinking about it since our conversation. On the one hand I could relate to wanting to drop it all and go. To focus on nothing but self care and exploration. What makes me thrive? What revives me? What could I accomplish if I didn’t have the daily grind to tend to?

But on the other hand…

This weekend at church our pastor played a video that brought this all home for me. I had heard of TOMS shoes before, but I wasn’t aware there was a mission behind the company. Founder Blake Mycoskie traveled to Argentina in 2006 to play polo, drink the wine, and basically have fun. He and his friends were staying close to a poverty-stricken area where none of the kids had shoes. None!

He came up with the idea for TOMS while he was there. With every pair of shoes he sells, he gives a pair away. They sold and gave away 10,000 shoes that year. This year they plan to sell/give 300,000.

Blake took this opportunity to open his eyes and make a difference, not just close them and keep the focus inward. What really got me, what had tears form in my eyes - they don’t just drop off the shoes and go. They're not a hit and run charity. They place the shoes on the children’s feet.

That’s true ministry.

You can watch the video about TOMS here.

You can also purchase a pair of shoes here. They have really cute wedges for this fall.

Side note: I wasn’t asked by TOMS or any company or person to post this. Their story moved me enough to want to share it.

Also, I’m still going to see Eat, Pray, Love. Just with a little more awareness.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Many Faces of Pace

Pace has become a very complex person in his old age. He goes through a wide range of emotions whenever I have to wake him.

I know, I know. You should never wake a sleeping baby, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Like when you’re running late for work, AND your office is right next to your boss, AND you still need to feed the baby before you can walk out the door, as in this morning. It was a very harried morning.

But back to the subject…

When I lay Pace down on the changing table he likes to show his range of emotions. He goes from frustration to confusion to pure happiness.

First he furrows his brow, rubs his fists all over his face, and stares me down.

“Dude, what’s the big deal? I was sleeping, man.”

Then he lifts his eyebrows.

“Wait a minute. Where am I? Who are you and what are you doing to my pee pee?”

And then comes my favorite part. A grin spreads across his face and turns into a huge, open-mouthed smile.

“I know you! You’re Mommy....Dairy Queen....The Boob.


He’s three months old and he’s already acting like a teenager. Jeez!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Yoga Makes the Family Come 'Round

I love Yoga.

Yoga has kept me flexible as I’ve aged.

It eases the lower back pain I developed after carrying Sarah.

I even found a routine that alleviates menstrual cramps all day without having to take a single Ibuprofen.

And when Pat was traveling while Savannah was a toddler, it gave me respite from her terrible two’s.

A few years ago after Savannah got over those terrible two’s, my sister Valarie, a Yoga enthusiast herself, gave Savannah her very own Yoga DVD complete with a mat. Savannah and I spent many weekends with our mats next to each other, leaning on one another during Tree Pose, laughing until we cried doing the rocking Beetle Pose, and I frequently ended up in Corpse Pose, my favorite of all poses (Duh!), with Savannah sitting on top of me giggling. It didn’t have quite the calming effect on her I hoped it would, but we had a blast.

Now when I exercise at home Sarah waits for me to finish and then asks me to put in that same yoga DVD.

“Lay down, Mommy. Lay down,” she says and I go through all the poses once again with a different child, and she doesn’t lie on top of me in Corpse Pose. She’s too busy talking. Again, not quite fulfilling the purpose of Corpse Pose, but I enjoy it.

Corpse Pose is meant to give you total relaxation, a meditative moment at the end of your practice. You lie on your mat, eyes closed, hands open, and let the relaxation come.

The power of Corpse Pose came to me not long after I began practicing Yoga on the weekends. It was the week after my father died and I had been back at work for a couple days. I had a gym membership through work and they offered a Yoga class every Friday during lunch. I decided to take advantage of it to see if I could get any relief from the grief that completely consumed me, if just for a moment.

I had never taken a Yoga class before. I had only used videos and books. The instructor announced we would be concentrating on our feet that day. Interesting, I thought. And then we spent the next 20 minutes looking at, stretching, and massaging our feet.

Interesting, turned to, This is just weird.

Finally, about half way through, we began doing the traditional poses and ended with Corpse Pose. Aaahhhh! I sunk down into the floor, took in a deep breath, and closed my eyes. I hadn’t been too impressed with the class, but I was ready to just be alone, away from work, away from the phone, and even away from family.

After a couple moments the instructor’s voice faded and I felt like I was in my own cocoon. Suddenly I found myself in my father’s living room. He was lying in the same hospital bed the hospice care company had set up for him 3 weeks before he died. During those 3 weeks I had wanted to lie down next to him so badly, but he was in so much pain from the cancer, I was afraid of hurting him. He seemed too delicate.

But that day, in that Corpse Pose, in that imaginary cocoon, I walked to the bed and laid down next to my father. His arm, attached to many tubes, wrapped around me, and we clung to each other in silence.

I don’t know how long I stayed that way before I heard the instructor’s voice call to me. I was the last one in the room. Tears were streaming down my face.

“You okay?” she asked kneeling beside me. I just nodded and wiped my face. She helped me fold up my mat and put my things away, and we parted ways with a smile to each other.

Yoga has continued to be what I turn to when things get to be too much, or I feel as though I’m sinking. I’ve tried to make time for it while working through this postpartum funk. Three kids don’t allow a lot of free time for a full routine, but I try to sneak in a Corpse Pose every once in a while, even if it’s with a babbling toddler next to me and a sleeping baby in the swing. It still gives me just a moment.


Monday, August 23, 2010

A Word

Pace asked me to pass a message on to everyone....

"Ah-goo," spoken with a little drool.

His vocabulary's a little limited.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Little Lift

I finally gave in and tried an exercise routine yesterday. I've done a little walking with Leslie Sansone and some postnatal ab work with Erin O'Brien, but for the first time yesterday I pulled out a cardio and toning DVD: Buff Moms Beyond Baby Workout.

It whipped my butt! But with Savannah's encouragement, "Come on, Mom! You can do it," I made it through.

And you know what? I felt fantastic afterward! I felt like the fog had lifted and I could think a little more clearly. It's carried over into today, too.

I need to follow my own PPD description and get that exercise in.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Snakes Everywhere!

Have I told you I'm terrified of snakes?

I have no idea where the fear came from, but it’s there, and it’s BIG. I can’t even look at a drawing of a snake without freaking out. And lately whenever my husband surfs through the channels, there’s something about a stinking snake.

Or the news shows a picture of a snake curled up in someone’s washer.

Or a snake appears in one of the children’s books. (I’ll come back to that one later.)

OR, and this is HUGE, Savannah’s new homeroom teacher has one in a cage right beside the door. And it hangs out right there...right beside the door.

Right. There.

I felt very uncomfortable in that room on Meet the Teacher Night earlier this week. I literally sat there watching the clock over the teacher's head mumbling for him to hurry up. I’ve heard it all before: No late papers. No tardies. No gum. Not much homework but lots of group work. We’re all in this together.

Yadda, yadda, yadda, Dude. You’ve got a snake by the door. Let me out of here!

I can still see it’s grey and black skin lying against the glass.

A shiver just went up my spine.

I can’t believe I haven’t scarred Savannah and Sarah yet. I’ve had freak out moments with both of them. Once during reading time with Savannah I threw a board book across the room when I turned the page and saw a coiled snake. It didn’t matter that it was a book about mothers’ love for their children. It was a snake.

And poor Sarah. She had an animal book that had a HUGE snake taking up 2 entire pages. For some reason she thought I liked it. I guess because I just kept muttering, “Snake. Snake. Snake.” I was trying to keep my cool, but then she picked up the book to give me a closer look. When I took off running she came after me holding the book open. “Look, Mommy. Snake!” I started yelling at her to get it away from me. Seriously. I was yelling at my 2-year-old. She didn’t understand I was scared and kept chasing after me with that damn book wide open to the snake. We literally ran around the family room a few times like that until she started crying. That’s when I finally sucked it up, went to her and pitched the book across the room. Then I gave her a huge hug. Later that night I threw the book in the trash. Yes, I’m a bad mommy with serious issues.

Oh! And I’ve already laid down the law with Pat. Pace will NOT have rubber, plastic, or stuffed snakes in this house. And he knows this is NOT a joking matter.

Have I told you I'm terrified of snakes?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Absentee Y

I’m sorry I’ve been absent for a few days. I’ve been overwhelmed, tired, and honestly, still fighting some depression.

That last little nugget came to me yesterday while sitting in a meeting and I suddenly felt tears welling up in my eyes. Granted, the meeting was pretty gnarly and full of changes that none of us want to make, and there were a couple venomous people who love to point fingers, but there was certainly nothing said or done that should have caused tears. I think I disguised them pretty well. I acted like I had something in my eye, which I did….mascara. Man, it burned, which caused more tears.

I won’t get in to the nitty gritty about my past week, but I do have a few posts saved, so keep checking back. I have a few things I want to share with you.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I'm a Loner, Dottie. A Rebel.

I love that line from "Pee Wee’s Big Adventure." That’s how I felt in the first years of my marriage to Pat.

Being a professional musician, Pat traveled a lot and was sometimes gone for up to 3 weeks. Being the “loner” I am, it didn’t bother me. Well…the 2 and 3 week trips were difficult, but the long weekends apart didn’t usually phase me. That was my time to recharge and regroup, which basically meant I ate a lot of salt and sugar, watched a buttload of chick flicks, and managed a little shoe shopping in between.

When Savannah came along I still snuck in my recharging ritual, it was just scaled down quite a bit and happened after she went to bed. Then Sarah came along, the music business took a dive, and Pat stopped going out on the road. We became a regular family of four and I had to let go of my rebel spirit. But, oh, how I looked forward to those evenings when Pat was invited to meet up with some friends for a jam session. I’d walk him out with blessings for a great night, wear out the girls so they’d go to bed early, and pull out a favorite movie, a great pint of ice cream, and a little pink polish for my toe nails. Would I be showing my selfishness if I said I lived for those times?

So tonight Pat has a gig. As he walked out the door I got really excited because I haven’t had one of those loner nights in ages. Then I walked back into the living room and saw my evening sitting in front of me. It was Savannah sitting on the couch, her eyes glued to the Wii game while she yelled at Sarah to quit jumping on her; Sarah giggling in response and continuing to jump. Pace was lying in his swing crying to be held. I then remembered that Sarah’s not falling asleep until late at night since we’ve moved her into a big bed and Pace is wide awake until at least 11:00, at which time I fall on the bed and shut my eyes whether or not I’ve had time to take a shower or brush my teeth.

As I stood at the door listening to the crying, the yelling, and the giggling, I realized that my sugar eating, movie watching, toe painting night wasn’t going to happen. Maybe in a year or two I’ll be able to recharge again. Just think of me when you’re watching "Eat, Pray, Love" on DVD in a few months; maybe with a glass of vino and some cheese or the latest Ben & Jerry’s flavor, but never both because that would just be overkill (wink, wink).

I’ll stick with my 30 second YouTube videos for entertainment.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Heavenliest "Wip-Thick"

Sarah likes to go through my makeup while I'm getting ready. She rubs my blush brush on her cheeks and combs her eyebrows. Then she likes to top it all off with a little lipstick, or "wip-thick" as she calls it, and looks in the mirror and says, "That's Sarah!"

Tonight she was going through lipsticks I have stashed away and never use. The first one she showcased was really beautiful with her skin and hair. If she was older, I would have told her to start wearing it every day. Or if she was a beauty pageant toddler, to wear it for the big competitions. But instead I thought Hey! I bet that would look good on me!

I looked at the name on the tube and realized why it looked so good on Sarah and that there was no way it would look half as good on my foul lips. The name?...


All at once now....


Monday, August 9, 2010

Tale of the Projectile Poop

Yes, that's right.

I got hit.

With poop.

All down my shirt.

It was that lovely, stinky, runny breastmilk poop.

Yeah, so, um....Happy Breastfeeding Awareness month. I know I'm certainly more aware.

And, no, this isn't really a tale. It's more.....let's call it sharing an experience.

So Mommyhood really CAN be the shits sometimes.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Guest Blog

My Aunt Peggy (You can read about her here.) sent me an email about my weight gain post. It reminded me so much of the weekly column she wrote for more than 30 years, I asked her to be a guest blogger. Enjoy!

Your mother read me your blog about your post-Pace weight gain including the comment from one of your Facebook friends about how having babies ruins one's body. It reminded me of my friend, Dora in Baytown, in the 70s. We worked at Good Will together.

I was from East Texas and she was from New Jersey,and although she was about 40 years my senior with a bit of dementia setting in, we became very good friends. We talked a lot as we worked, often bemoaning our fate: I was a recent TCU grad and she was an uppity lady from the east coast; how had we landed here?

We'd be elbow-deep in bin work, sorting through someone else's discarded clothing when suddenly she'd look up at me and ask, "Pegs, did I ever tell you I could have been a Rockette?"

I would want to reply, "Yes, about 400 times." But I didn't. I would try to work my voice up to a surprised and interested level and respond, "Oh?"

"Yes," she'd say, enthusiastically. "It was back when I was young. About the time I married, and before. From my home in New Jersey, I went over to New York City a lot. It was just across the river. You know, I was married to the man who was the staff organist at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. I was very pretty with a lovely figure -- just the kind they wanted for the Rockettes."

There would be a pause then and she would sigh and say, "But I got pregnant and had those kids and it ruined my figure."

Her head and shoulders dropped low as she remembered. So low, her face was buried in the clothes she was sorting. It sounded like she was sobbing. In a few seconds, though, her head came upright. She'd have a blouse or a similar article of clothing in her hand. Shaking it like a Shih-Tzu with a chew toy, she would say, "Two of them I had, a boy and a girl, and where are they now?" (Her son she lived with was at work and her daughter was in New Jersey being a mom herself.)

She would go up the aisle muttering, "I coulda been a Rockette...."

Some years later after I had come home to Crawford Creek and was out of touch with Dora, I was watching the evening news around Christmas time. They said this would be the last season for the Radio City Rockettes. But there they were then: shapely legs kicking. Off to one side, a woman stood by herself watching the show. She was wrapped in warm winter clothes as an old woman would be. I imagined it was Dora taking one last look, mumbling to herself, "I coulda been, I coulda been."

At 5:30, when her middle-age son came to pick her up, from the enthusiasm with which they greeted each other, you would never know he was one of the kids who had spoiled her future.

"Ma, you look like a million dollahs," in his suave east coast accent.

I hope her son or daughter was there to take her home from that last Rockette show.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Mother's Lullaby

I wanted to share a song with all of you today. Though I’ve never been the biggest fan of her music, I’ve always liked Sheryl Crow, especially as we’ve aged. I try to forget that she once dated Kid Rock. We all have questionable taste at times.

I was checking out tunes from her latest CD on You Tube when I found this one from a prior album. It’s a song she wrote for her son.

“Lullaby for Wyatt”

The lyrics, the music; it’s all beautiful. The third verse is what really jumped out at me and made me stop everything to write this piece:

I have held you close
And breathed your name, my dear
I was with you then
And will remain, my dear

As I listened to those lines I had visions of holding Pace late in the night while the rest of the house slept.

All is quiet.

It’s just me and Pace.

I hold him close while he eats or I breathe in his scent while his sleeping head lies on my shoulder. I whisper in his ear, “Mommy loves you,” and I snuggle a little closer.

I had this experience with all three of my kids and I will always cherish the warmth of those memories, no matter how far they may roam.

How do I keep you from losing your way
Hope you will find love like I did some day
But love is letting go
And this I'll know

Cause you were mine
For a time

I think that’s every mother’s unsung lullaby.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

A Breastfeeding Story

Happy Breastfeeding Awareness Month!

And Phhttttttttttttttt! to all those people who shot me looks whenever I fed my babies in public.

(I have no idea who this baby is. I found it on the web.)

I ask you people: Would you rather listen to a crying baby or see feet sticking out from under a blanket and maybe hear a little contented gurgle? That's what I thought.

I thought I’d share a funny breastfeeding moment with you guys today in honor of Breastfeeding Awareness. There may be more to come throughout the month, but who knows. I'm spontaneous like that.

When Pace was just a few days old I was feeding him on our bed, one of my favorite spots. It provided direct cold air for the hot flashes I was having and lots of pillows to keep me propped up when I wanted to sleep. Sarah climbed up next to me and noticed that I had a baby attached to me. Out of curiosity she leaned in close, investigating the scene. She looked up at me with a confused look.


“It’s milk for the baby,” I replied.

She tilted her head and gave me her best you-can’t-resist-me-look and said, “Weeth?” Translation: Please?

Luckily I was too tired to laugh, although I did manage a chuckle.

Watching me feed Pace has become boring for her now, but she still loves it when I break out the pump. She likes to watch the milk shoot out and sometimes hits my boob like a ball to help it come out. She gives a whole new meaning to word the dribble.

She's Mommy’s little helper!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Out of the Mouths of Babes

There is a quote by Kelly Ripa of “Live with Regis and Kelly” that has stuck with me for a couple years. In an interview with Fitness magazine she said, “I never want my daughter to hear me say ‘Do I look fat in this?’” This came back to haunt me yesterday in a dressing room at Target, except it had a different angle.

I took Savannah clothes shopping. I was also trying on a few things myself in an effort to cover up my “post baby bump.” I was a little frustrated that the items I liked didn’t fit in a size I was comfortable with and made my boobs look like I’m the ice cream replacement at the local Dairy Queen. I kept telling myself that the sizes ran small and the next store would be better.

But while we tried on clothes together at Target Savannah hit me with something that I needed…a dose of reality.

“Wow, Mom. You’ve got a lot of fat now.” She was completely stunned to see me this way. When she saw the look on my face, which was probably mortification, she quickly said, “But you just had a baby and it’s empty in there, so it just looks fat.” No, Sweetie, it doesn’t look fat. It IS fat. I was so embarrassed. I've always wanted to be a role model for my kids, especially my girls, but there I was struggling to button some pants with my daughter staring at my belly. What a great role model, huh?

Yes, I realize I just had a baby nine weeks ago and I know it’s too soon to be back to my pre-pregnancy weight, but the scale has gone up the last three weeks while I validate my extra snacking with breastfeeding and my lack of exercise with fatigue and needy kids. So I’ve decided to put it all out there, despite the embarrassment.

You see, I feel this is worse than all the other bad habits I’ve admitted to on this blog. This involves my health and confidence, which affects my family, and kids learn by what you do, not what you say.

My blog won’t turn into a diet and fitness blog, but I will keep you posted on how I’m doing through my tears, frustration, and, hopefully, my accomplishments. Maybe this, and Savannah's occasional slips, will hold me accountable.