Tag Archives: parenting

writing into the wreck

Years of struggles with depression, where talk therapies, light and dark therapies (not magick, literal use of light and darkness), SSRIs, SNRIs, Mood stabilizers (all meds since becoming a mom), trying to address a moderate to severe case of appeared to be obstructive sleep apnea (but may actually be central-nervous system), plus the seemingly endless but hardly clean chute that is perimenopause is taking its toll. It has gotten to the point now where typing is my safest communications method.

Typing, especially in a buffer, allows for edits. Yanks, esp, for all you emacs people. I can sit, look at the sentence and say, “No, I think I will regret both saying that and leaving a bit trail.” I wish I could type to my kids, but my buffer is shot in the face-to-face stuff.

I have never shied away from talking to my children about things in our world, but at levels they can understand and handle. My depression, which clearly has a sleep-disorder component, is something I’ve told my son about this way: Mom has trouble sleeping. She doesn’t get the deep sleep you get, because different parts of her body and brain want to do different things. Her body, especially her mouth and throat, want to just relax and have a “California stretch” (something he learned at soccer camp, which is basically laying down sprawled on the ground and approaching napdom). But when they do that, they block the airway, and she doesn’t breathe. Sometimes it lasts for a second, many times it lasts for more than 30 seconds. And every time her body stops breathing, her brain has to wake up her body, so she never gets sleep. And a brain that doesn’t get sleep doesn’t work well. A brain that doesn’t work well gets irritable, and sad. So we have to find a way to get Mom’s brain and body to work together, as a team.

But no sleep, no peace. No buffer. No high road, just the chute. No reserves, and few opportunities to fashion them from the remnants of what I have to get through the day, mentally.  CPAP to sinus infections to BiPAP to more sinus infections and swallowing air to the point of abdominal distention resembling me at 28w pregnant. Losing 20 pounds in three months through the first real exercise program I ever took on, and still, my airway would collapse while I was upright and awake. One year later, the MRI revealed all sorts of obstructions in my nose and throat, so we went in and did a complete airway overhaul.  It’s three months since the surgery, and my husband still hears me gasping for air in the night, and I can barely get out of bed.  Not surprisingly, the quality of my communications have plummeted. It’s no fun to be me, and perhaps even less fun to be around me.

As a result, I have found myself less and less open to realtime conversation, even if I like the person. The typing is safer, less volatile. The way I get around it with the kids, if I can pull it together, is to read stories to them, complete with dramatis personæ, and drift off together to sleep. That there is a way for them to know I love them, and that it somehow has to do with how perfectly they fit in the crook of my arm or curled up under it; for this I am so grateful, I would consider revisiting the whole virgin birth business and saying, “Okay, I guess I can’t disprove it.” But obviously, this doesn’t work all the time.

I’ve had to write news like this, only with much more detail, to two different people over the past month. I didn’t want them to think I was ignoring them, or that I had a bee in my bonnet – of course, I do, but it has a different name. The advice I am getting now, to reflect on different stages of my life and write them down is exactly what I have done in my stronger, struggling times, and is precisely what I am terrified of doing now. I read the simple questions in a thoughtful book, or the gentle alto comments of my counselor, and there it is – all that I know are problems, and how they seep into me like so many toxins in the groundwater. The guilt of knowing I’m responsible for the spread, and not knowing if any of the correction in which I’ve engaged from literally the first waking moments of my firstborn will take. As much for his (and his sister’s) lives as for the record I will leave behind. Pretty small person, hm? I never thought I was proud, but I am, insofar as I would not want to look back on what I have done in my life and felt embarrassed or ashamed.

The typing, again, is easier. The talking, and the physical writing, what I did for decades before now, is what I feel incapable of doing – my supplest, longest-lived pleasures, those of voice and story, of my voice and story, and I can’t bring myself to say or write what is there.


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Filed under depression, sleep apnea

38w6d: long, closed, contemplative

Yesterday, at the OB’s office, there was a moment where I felt less like an expectant mother and more like my purse – the ob rummaging through me to find a cellphone, or in this case, a cervix. What she found was long, quiet and closed – not unlike my cellphone by the time I find it. No sign of labor, or of the tenant’s plans for moving day.

After some earlier emotional arguments at home, this news was a little less than welcome. I had whispered to her that this would be a great day to come out, that Mommy had already driven to the hospital, she had the keys and her baby bag in the back seat, and we could get this squared away in no time. Just mommy and baby.  But in a disturbingly familiar display of stubbornness (wow, does that spelling look wrong), she has decided to prove all qualified and certified medical professionals completely wrong. “I won’t make it to term? Well, induce THIS.”

Admittedly, the stress of my mother’s visit is a contributor to her reticence to exit. My mother came to “help”, but she is a rather frail 79 who has nearly lost her hearing completely and refuses to wear a hearing aid. Parenting issues and flashbacks abound. I had thought I was big enough to follow through on letting her come – she is doing this as much for herself as for me – but I’m faced with the ugly reality of my rather unforgivable smallness. (Don’t tell me I’m not. This is not false modesty.)

So self-directed trips alone to the hospital give me time to be with little one, and with my son, focused on things that matter to me. I can reassure myself that I won’t be in housewifery exile forever, though the economic conditions of this region may conspire to make that feel like the reality. I’m quietly excited both for her arrival, her growth, and a new real job. I’m better prepared for what will mostly be a solitary parenting experience, regardless of marriage license and/or marital status. I line up documents and questionnaires, prepare for sleeping places and nursing stations throughout the house, pry out of H whatever it was I last did to piss him off so he’ll drop the silent treatment, and get familiar with 42, mother of two.

The catch is how to get everything else done smoothly, incurring the fewest number of complaints, while allowing myself the space and brain function to imagine and execute the next steps so important to take. If I get 6 hours a night, I think I can pull it off.


Filed under children, mother, Motherhood, parenting, women

eyedrops bring a new low

Pinkeye has spread through Ben’s daycare, and we both woke Tuesday with crusted eyelids and red whites. (H has escaped so far.) After having read the Children’s Hospital Guide to Children’s Health, I was convinced we needed this checked out right away. We were able to get an appointment at the afterhours clinic, where the MD found conjunctivitis, swollen lymph nodes, and one swollen eardrum that was not draining. (Cue Ben’s gasping mother, almost one year since his myringotomy.)

The MD decided to play it conservatively and give us only eyedrops, to be administered every three hours while awake.

Ben is a trooper when it comes to medications, and has been very brave, but he met his match in the eyedrops, as did his mother. (I tried them on my pinkeye, and yes, they stung quite a bit, even for a grownup.) He became a tight muscular ball, resisting and occasionally sending out a firm defensive strike from an available arm or leg. I had to resort to laying over him while trying to get a single drop into each eye, which of course was immediately rinsed with tears.

It has to be one of the lowest experiences of motherhood for me thus far – holding him down is miserable for both of us, and even lollipops make for scant reward. I hope he can recover quickly.

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Filed under children, conjunctivitis, difficulty with medicine, medical care, mothers, parenting, pinkeye, sadness, sons, struggle

car seat kisses

Everyday when I buckle Ben into his carseat, I take advantage of our closeness and give him a kiss. Sometimes it’s a way to calm him as he wrestles with the straps; or maybe it’s our first – and only –  quiet exchange of the evening, when I can see evidence of the day on his little puss. But there’s something wonderful about that moment, and now I notice the same thing in other cars. There’s a father who gently kisses his daughter’s forehead as he unbuckles; another child looking up and smiling, winter hat still on, knowing mama is going to give her a little smooch.

The tiny moments of tenderness are as fleeting as sunshine in a Seattle January, but they are far more omnipresent. When things get too tense, I can look and see those moments, how love really can be that integrated into the mundane, as easy to tell someone as it is to fasten your seatbelt.

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Filed under car seats, children, father, Fathers, Love, mother, mothering, mothers, parenting

how ben understands petty crime

Friday night, Henrik called in late, the unmistakable sound of resignation in his voice. He had missed my call earlier in the day as a result of leaving his phone in the car, and now he went to the parking garage to find one less window and one less phone.

The race was on to get the police, get information from the garage attendants, and change any and all passwords on any and all accounts. Oh, and since it was a 4 month old blackberry without insurance, to bite the bullet and buy another phone.

I looked across the table at the little monkey, who was trying very hard to eat spaghetti with a fork and not succumb to either fingers or the driving beats of the Whole Foods Market sound system. How do I explain this one?

It ends up that Ben has both a strong sense of sympathy and righteous indignation. We spent some time understanding what happened to Daddy’s car and phone, and making sure that Daddy was ok, not hurt, and that was the most important thing. But we also talked a little bit about how this was not an accident, and sometimes people take things that are not theirs, which is not ok. (We also talked about how it was important for us to help Daddy when he got home, since he would probably be sad and a little grouchy.)

So, as we drove home, Ben went over the details, asked questions, and made confessions.

“Somebody broke Daddy’s window and took his phone? Somebody broke Daddy’s window and took his phone! Oh no, that’s not good. Maybe I should call the policeman.”

“Poor Daddy.”

“It wasn’t me, mommy. I didn’t do it. But I hope it wasn’t ‘friend a’ or ‘friend b’.”

“I am not very happy with the people who broke Daddy’s window and took his phone. I am very grouchy and mad with them!”

When I explained that it was normal to feel angry, but it wouldn’t fix the problem, he literally rattled this one off :

“Mommy, I have a plan. What if I go and find the phone and fix the window. I can do it. Does that sound like a good idea?”

He’s talking a lot about the phone, and today after nap, actually told a story of a dream he had where someone took Mommy’s phone and her little boy (him)! I held him tight, and tried to reassure him that as long as we’re together, no one will take him.

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Filed under children, damage, explaining hard things, mothering, mothers, parenting, theft

dino fever

The word went out this year to family and friends – Ben has discovered dinosaurs. As a result, our T-Rex count is now at 4 – two large plastic, one small plastic and one plush for bedtime. We have a large pteradactylus, a large elasmosaurus, the big and small triceratops (you need more than one, since they live in herds), and many small guys, including an ankylosaurus, some raptors (he hasn’t yet discovered xkcd), a set of stegosauri and lots of plastic trees and rocks.

Ben’s dino media library now includes 11 titles, and the superstar is the Encyclopedia Prehistorica – Dinosaurs, a remarkable gem of (non Web) pop-up artistry. It’s the book he wants to “read” every night. It’s amazing to see how quickly he learns the species, how he can recognize and compare animals, and his surprise in learning that what’s on the outside of the package isn’t always inside.

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Filed under books, children, dinosaurs, Learning, parenting

It’s time to dance

Our old square piano sits in the cold spare room, along with my desk, H’s desk, the file cabinets, my grandmother’s armchair, a sofa we have yet to put on Craig’s list, the laundry and moving boxes on top of said sofa,  and many many stacks of paper.

The floor is made with Spanish tile, shiny, oxblood, with bumps and ripples, set between wide swaths of mortar. So wide that Ben likes to imagine the tiles as lily pads, and hops each to each, careful not to touch the grey “water.”

The previous owner told me she and her husband chose Spanish tiles when they renovated the house in the early 80’s,  because they loved ballroom dancing and wanted to be able to move through the floorplan in music, lightly tapping their way through waltzes and foxtrots. In our renovation last year, we removed nearly all of the tile, except for this one room.

Now, when H sits down to play at the old square, which because of its structure will never be more accurate than 1/2 note flat, Ben stops dead in his tracks – even if they are dinosaur tracks – and finds me, asking to dance. We do all sorts of dances, badly, but with smiles. We do leaps and bends, hops and jumps, we raise our arms to the sky and sweep them down again.

When a political discussion at the Scanditalian Christmas table turned a bit sad and hopeless – as in, is there anything to look forward to? – notes began to spill from the spare room, on other side of the dining room wall. My little boy stopped reading a dinosaur book and came up to the dour table. “Mommy, it’s time to dance!”

I smiled at the change of subject, and told our guests to join us. They stood in the doorway, smiling at a happy boy in a red reindeer sleeper. We spun and hopped, stretched and galloped, and he lept, over and over into waiting arms.

So many things might be better if we only had a moment to dance.

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Filed under Christmas, dancing, Love, mothers, music, parenting, sons