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Wait for it….

“I can’t believe he hasn’t called back yet.” My father says, his voice slow and heavy with the weight of his misery. “I’ve left multiple messages.”

I have as well but this doctor is notoriously bad at returning calls and his staff, one overwhelmed woman with an edge of defensive indignation is possibly worse. Yet for two years my father has been under their haphazard care. We should have found another doctor by now, but my father is kind of haphazard himself.

“I’ll try again,” I say, hoping to get some answers but really just wanting to get off the phone and get something done. It’s been 28 minutes on this road with little if any progress. Really it’s been 20 years.

“Okay, but wait…” he stalls, hoping to drag out a little more time with me. “I’ve got these papers we should talk about…”

I hear some shuffling and the phone drops.

“Ow!”He yelps from a distance and I hear more scurrying about. I make an effort not to roll my eyes while compulsively unraveling my third piece of gum. It’s better than the ice cream tub calling my name.

This doctor has one last carrot he’s been swinging over my father’s head to ease his chronic pain. It’s a new experimental drug; one that’s supposed to be even more effective than morphine. He brought it up in October, scheduled the trial a few weeks later then abruptly canceled it. Now three months of hemming, hawing and wait, wait, wait has left my father as wilted as the carrot. Still, he’s chomping at the bit, always looking for the thing that’s going to save him. I wish I believed something could save him.

“Dad,” I call out, even though I know it’s useless. Still, I’m slow to learn that nothing about him or our conversations can be rushed.

“Okay?” I ask after a few minutes when labored, exasperated breaths signal his return.

“No,” Is his immediate response, then “Yes. No. Yes. Hold on, I need to…”

“Dad!” I cut in before he leaves me hanging again, “I’m going to call him now. I’ll call you back,” I say and quickly hang up.

With one breath doubling as a stress reliever and a confidence builder, I go to dial the doctor on his personal cell. Even though he has been irresponsible returning calls and giving information, I’m still embarrassed about using the personal number he gave me awhile back. It makes me angry. Why can’t people just do what they’re supposed to do?

Amazingly he answers on the third ring. Although he is clearly not happy to hear from me, after months of runaround, I finally nail him down to a day for the trial. Right before we hang up I think to ask the name of the drug. I can’t believe in all this time I never asked.  But I actually can. Managing my father’s life is like throwing a sheaf of paper into the air. You just deal with the ones that fall in your lap first.

“I’m blanking on the technical name…” The doctor pauses and struggles until finally it hits him. I kind of wish I could hit him. “It’s Zinconosomething. Just look up Snail pain relief.”

“Snail pain relief.” I repeat and shake my head disbelieving.  Of course.

The Universe always knows when I need a good laugh.

 

Yeah, it's true.

Yeah, it’s true. Click if you want to read about it.

 

Exposure. And my moment in the sun

My house was as clean as it was going to be, but of course I was a wreck. Why did I agree to do an interview for the Today Show? Why?!

Well first off, it’s the TODAY SHOW! Not to discount my crucial role as the Tornado in my fourth grade production of the Wizard of Oz, but I never had any opportunity to feel famous for a minute. As nervous as I was, I wanted my minute.

A car pulled up to my house and a young cameraman and another producer got out. Neither looked like Kathy Lee or Hoda.  Damn.

“Mommy, we’re going to be on TV!” My middle son chirped, green eyes bright.

His excitement was adorable and I smiled at him until he said, “Now you’ll make more money, right?”

Hmm. Not as adorable.

But who had time for childish nonsense? I was going to be on television! So it was for writing an article about dressing my kids inappropriately in winter. Whatevs.

The camera guy set up, and finally a bright light stared me in the face.“Ready?” he asked.

Uh no. I’ve made a mistake. A big mistake. Definitely not. No way.

“Great!” He smiled, sporting an adorable dimple, “I’m going to ask you questions but don’t look at the camera or me when you answer. Look to the side.” He pointed to where the other producer stood.

“Um, I’ll try,” I said but when I started answering questions, I’m pretty sure I looked like I had tourrets since I kept twitching to keep myself from turning toward the sound of his voice. Still I babbled on, as I generally do, smiling too much, even playing to the camera. All of a sudden I was a 20 year-old flirt in a 44 year-old face that didn’t even have enough sense to put on any makeup.

Why didn’t I put on makeup??! I was so not ready for my close up.

Typically just saying my name aloud to a group gives me heart palpitations. The last time I put myself in a high pressure situation was at the Algonquin Writers’ Conference to pitch my novel to editors. There I felt like I was going to throw up, but right now I couldn’t seem to shut up.

Apparently I had become an attention whore.

On Monday I was happy enough to have a piece in the Washington Post on the bizarre trend of boys wearing shorts in the winter and when it started getting traction, I was thrilled. Then the editor at the Post emailed me that the piece was going viral. I never really understood exactly what that meant until the TODAY show called for an interview, even writing a copycat article citing me. Citing me!!

‘You’re famous!” a friend from another state texted after one of her friends unknowingly shared my article with her. And really I felt a little famous, lunching and taking calls, prepping for my interview and freaking out with friends.

My mouth hung in a perpetual state of fascination and for days my fingers also seemed stunned because I couldn’t write a word. I was too busy chatting and laughing, checking stats and appreciating my moment. I couldn’t focus on anything but my shining self.

By Friday, the article had run its course and the interview had aired. Even though I cringed watching and listening to myself – all 20 seconds of me – I’m proud that I did it and wrote it, and that my words sparked a conversation that led to a segment on a national television show.

It’s been a whirl, but I am happy to be yesterday’s news; once again in my chair in front of my computer, a blank page staring back at me.

It’s time to start again.

FullSizeRender (1)

Next time girl. I’ve got ice cream.

Especially if I hope to ever meet Kathy Lee and Hoda.

 

 

Resolutions For My Children

This year I didn’t make any resolutions. Frankly I didn’t need the pressure, and really I’m working every day on improvement – okay, most days – okay, days where the stars align, the kids do as I say, there’s plenty of ice cream and it’s sunny out. What?! It happens.

I would however like my children to make some changes that would improve my life much more than any resolution I could possibly make for myself. Boys, are you listening? BOYS! Sigh. Well, that brings me to their first resolution…

Listen up! Why do I have to say, “I put your clothes in your room” for you to come up to me not five minutes later and innocently ask, “Where are my clothes?”  And how many times do I have to rip devices from hands, snap close books or shut off shows? Just take a second, look my way and say, “Okay mom, got it.” And seriously do I have to ask you to do the recyclables five times? Five! Why?Why?Why?Why?Why? Annoying, isn’t it?

Give me a minute. Okay, seriously, stop counting to 60. I really mean let me finish what I’m doing no matter how long it takes, a minute or a half hour. Like right now, extremely persistent 7 year-old who absolutely must play a game with me right this very second. Kid, please, we just played cards and Mario and I got you a snack and had a serious conversation about how you were going to set up your Legos, but now you need to just give me a minute.

Time for bed. When I’m done for the day, I am truly done. I’m not kidding. I don’t want any more requests for snacks, drinks, one more show or let’s have a heart to heart about which animal is truly your favorite. I want bed. I want it for you. I want it for me. I want it now. So go the fudgecakes to sleep.

Trust yourself. It can be the hardest thing to do, especially with a bunch of peer eyes staring you down, pressuring you into submission. But you’re good and smart and you know what’s right, so listen to yourself. I promise you’ll make plenty of mistakes on your own. There’s no need to make your friend’s mistakes as well. Trust me.

Just Stop. “Mom! He did this! Mom! He did it first! Mom! He’s bothering me!…” Guys, I don’t know how to express, first, how annoying you annoying each other can be for me and second, how the brothers you’re going out of your way to torture are really and truly your best friends in this life. No one will have your back like they will. No one will know you like they will. No one will really be there for you like they will.  So give each other a break (not the arm kind), and throw each other a kind word instead of under the bus.

And just to cover my bases, please also resolve to never drink and drive, sky dive, move to another country, marry someone I don’t like or join the circus. And even though I intend to never make resolutions again, I now plan to make a list for you guys every year. It’s my last resolution!

Luckily, you know how well I do with those.

Happiest 2015! xoxo Ice Scream Mama, Papa and the Sugar Babies.

Happiest 2015! xoxo
Ice Scream Mama, Papa and the Sugar Babies.

 

*Hey, if you have a moment, please give a quick click and check out my first essay up on Mamalode called Surviving the Supermarket. If I were to make any resolution it would be to never take all three of my boys with me to the supermarket ever again.

Like Mother, Like Daughter

People tell me I look like my mother.

All. The. Time.

It’s actually a real compliment. My mom is a looker. Always has been. I (almost) never think about how she’s over 20 years older and instead focus on the fact that we are both small and fit with curly hair and an ever ready Colgate smile, compliments of the white strips she brings me on a regular basis.

Sometimes she also brings me a new shirt or pair of jeans that she recently purchased for herself. Since she buys nice stuff and it’s… um… free… it’s not a hard sell. So it’s not like I help matters. The only problem is when we show up at a family function in matching outfits which can be a little embarrassing, especially when one of the younger kids takes me by the hand and says, “Come here, grandma.”

But besides that momentary twist in the chest, it’s good, and we laugh about it. I mean really how lucky am I to have her genes and her jeans?!

Recently my mom, the most energetic person I know – the one with only two speeds – high octane or falling asleep while sitting up; the one who plays tennis before Zumba class and then follows it up with a body sculpting class and later hopes someone will want to join her for bike ride or a walk and even later on, possibly go dancing – has been ever so slightly sidelined by cough arth cough ritis cough in the thigh area. (We don’t speak about any affliction that might indicate age.)

It has been extremely difficult for such an active (see: rigid) person to lessen her fitness load even slightly, so true to her generally bulldozing self, she charges on; limping through tennis games, letting an occasional ‘Ugh’ out in gym class and only allowing it to really aggravate her in the wee hours of the night when she should be sleeping.

As my step father is annoyingly fond of saying, “The apple don’t fall far from the tree” since I not only resemble my mom but, after a brief period in my younger life resenting the hell out of her, have adopted many of her healthy eating and exercise tendencies.

While I am a pretty low key exerciser, think, reading my book while peddling my elliptical, sometimes I take it up a notch like the class I tried the other day. It was kind of a circuit boot camp; you know, jump squat, sprint, push-ups, sprint, throw-up, sprint, running man, sprint, etc.

It was in the middle of the second circuit when I felt it, a twinge in my left thigh. It nagged at me for the rest of the class but I powered through, limping slightly to my car after it was over.

“Shit. Shit. Shit.”

I hated being sidelined. I hated feeling compromised. I hated feeling… old.

Later when my mother came over to babysit, I noticed we were wearing the same jeans and similar black boots. I told her she looked cute, she told me I looked cute and then we giggled like a pair of idiots. Matching idiots.  As we hobbled together toward the kitchen to share a veggie burger and sweet potato, it was with a new understanding. I realized I not only looked like her but slowly and steadily I was becoming her.

Years ago the idea of it would have horrified me. I was young and so sure of my individuality and youth. I didn’t fully realize that time mercilessly keeps moving and doesn’t stop for anyone. We all become our parents at some point.

Although it turns out my thigh injury was just a muscle pull not cough arth cough ritis cough, the real difference is negligible. For better or for worse, I am becoming my mother.

Just as anyone.

photo 2

 

Life is Good

I was going to die.

I glanced over at the bright happy picture of my five and two year old sons and felt certain I would never see their gorgeous faces again. The tears began to well. It was all too much. Gripping the sides of my hospital bed, I took one last look at the children whose lives I was already mourning not being there for, gave one last push and brought my third son into the world.

That was seven years ago.

Seven years gone. Seven years lived. Seven years growing. Seven years of memories and moments. That baby is now a full grown kid; my 2 and 5 year olds now 9 and 12. How did we get from there to here? From diapers and midnight feedings, nursery school and little crawler gym classes to middle school and snark, multi-colored lacrosse shorts and sleepovers. Life is moving faster than one of my kids basketball games; racing from sport to sport to school to play dates – oh sorry boys, hang outs – and activities. We’re so busy trying to keep up that we almost don’t even realize the days, months, years passing.

It’s good being in the thick of it. It’s how it should be. But some days like today I stop and look around and see the wild haired boy with the mischievous smile who is my baby that is a baby no more. I see my older boys having grown as well – My 9 year old charming and wise beyond his years and my 12 year old on the verge of an amazing and frightening new time in his life for both of us. And I remember that day when in my panic I thought I might miss it all.

But here I am (puhpuhpuh), having been blessed to watch my boys growing and growing, their faces, bodies and personalities subtly changing, new expressions lighting up their eyes and mouths; thoughts and ideas opening like flowers in their brains.

One falls over in a pile of giggles, hysterical from his own hijinks, one decides to forgo the fork and shovels in his pasta with his hands and one decides to mastermind a complicated game of mazes, sport and points in the basement.

They are beautiful, unique and special. They are nothing alike and each one is perfect. How incredibly amazing to experience their humor, youth and innocence and see it changing moment by moment in infinitely subtle ways; to watch them grow and develop, rise and fall. Just to be a part of it all; a part of them.

I am overwhelmed by emotion and gratitude. I am so thankful to be here and see it; to hug them and be hugged by them. Today is my youngest son’s birthday, but just like his brothers, I celebrate him every day.

Life is a gift.

Good morning, birthday boy. Ooh that face!

Good morning, birthday boy.

 

 

Oh crap – I’m a girl!

The water runs down my face and I breathe deep enjoying the hotness splattering all around me. I have come here to escape, to hide from my family.

It’s working. The water is a tonic for my tired – even though it’s only 5pm – body and my brain which like my closet, needs a good cleaning. They were all just annoying me in the usual ways – get me this, mommy he’s bothering me, why can’t I – but today my tolerance is low. I can’t blame the moon, my hormones or my father; it’s just me being cranky.

Sometimes we all need a timeout, so I took one and it felt sublime… for about five minutes, until my middle son barrels in complaining about his older brother.

“I’ll be out in a few minutes,” I say but he continues on anyway, his small offended voice growing louder as he pleads his case.

“I can’t really hear you,” I say, hurriedly washing the shampoo from my hair. “Just give me a few minutes.”

“Wait!” He yells impatiently, “Just listen!”

I can’t really listen. The water is running. And I am naked.

“Please,” I beg, feeling the shower glow dissipate even in steam.

My 12 year old runs in, equally impassioned with my 6 year old merrily following, happy not to be part of the fray. He wasn’t the one who did that to him because he did that first but didn’t mean to do it but did it anyway. Nope he’s just here for the entertainment.

They are screaming at each other and me to fix the problem while my little one does a little dance of glee. Does no one realize that I am in the shower? It’s like I’m invisible but for the first time ever I’m feeling exposed.

All of a sudden my three boys ages 6, 9 and 12 seem too old to be barging in on me. We never made a big deal about nudity, neither going out of our way to show it or cover it. And besides a few random questions at the toddler age like, “Mommy, where’s your pee pee?” or, my youngest who just loves my ‘squishy body’, there have been no averted eyes, prolonged stares or interest what so ever. In fact, no one has really seemed to notice that I’m even a girl.

Oh my God – I’m a girl!

And I’m naked!

“Everyone just get out!” I huff and a chorus of exasperated, ‘MOMs!’ ensue. Finally they march out still arguing.

Sometime in the next year or so, even though my 12 year old is still wonderfully oblivious, he will be demanding and deserving his privacy just as I now deserve mine.  It’s time.

Alone I tentatively emerge, grab a towel to wrap round myself.

From now on I need more than just a little escape. I also need to hide.

Freaking knock, please.

Freaking knock, please. Thank you.

Take This Blog and Love It

Today a friend called me a name and I was insulted.

She dropped it casually into conversation, tossing it out like a flick of a cigarette and even over the phone I jumped back singed.

She called me a… Blogger.

A blogger. Can you believe it? Every day I slave at this computer writing essays and editing manuscripts. I am a contributor to Huff Post and What to Expect. I’ve been on the NYTimes Motherlode for crap’s sake. Every day I’m grinding my teeth and squeezing my eyes shut as I press send on submissions to Slate, Brain, Child and Modern Love.

A blogger? I felt categorized and marginalized. I felt defensive.  She may as well have stepped on my face in a pile of mud.

Wait. I am a blogger. And I love not only blogging but the essays that I write.

Why did I have such an immediate and negative reaction?

Could it be because my friend is a ‘legitimate’ author and I’m a bit competitive and sensitive? Probably.

Was she being a little condescending? Probably.

It’s like the article by the debate editor of Brain, Child Magazine, Lauren Apfel that I just read in Time, I’m a Mommy Blogger and Proud of it about the old negative stereotypes associated with mom bloggers as overly confessional, full rants and vents, grumbles and gripes. And a bunch of us are, and a bunch of us aren’t. Either way, most of the bloggers that I know are damn good writers who are at their craft daily. If we rant or overshare, you can bet it will be a well written and well-structured essay.

These days, many mommy bloggers use their words and their blogging platforms to reach a larger audience, to open doors that otherwise might remain closed and to network. We are freelance writers, aspiring novelists, bloggers who strategize and monetize.

Back a hundred years ago, I wanted to be a writer and I wrote essays, short stories and manuscripts that I placed lovingly under my bed. Yet I didn’t push hard enough for what I wanted. I let it go accepting a career in advertising that I ultimately let that go as well to stay home with my children.

Now that they have grown just enough that I can tell them to go play in the basement and they do, I am re-discovering myself and my passion. On my blog I have written hundreds of essays, most of which I am extremely proud. Yes I write about being a mother. That’s who I am. I also write about being a daughter, a friend, a human; the heartbreak and the heartfelt; the ridiculous and the pain of the every day.

I don’t want to be in any way embarrassed or perpetuate a negative perception about something that has offered me so much personal and professional, if not exactly financial, satisfaction. I want to own it – strut my blog around the block in stilettos shouting “I’m a blogger!” instead of holding back and hedging, “I want to be writer and I have a blog.”

Actually what I want to say is that I am a writer and a blogger and I’d like to be appreciated as both.

icescreammama

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