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Monthly Archives: January 2013

Dead Grandma Totally Messes With Me

Before I even had a hint of the infertility problems which would plague me, before any of my babies were ultimately born; my grandmother envisioned me with a girl. She was prone to ‘seeing’ things, mostly dead people, but she also had an extremely refined intuition or esp. She’d offhandedly say things, like, “Oh, so and so just died.” While we were busy processing that information, the call would come in. So and so was dead.

So it was no surprise to me, and I took it as almost a certainty, when 11 years ago, she called and told me I was pregnant. I had been quietly trying for almost two years by the time of her call. I was seeing doctors, and was on an emotional roller coaster month after depressing month.

“Why haven’t you told me you’re pregnant?” she asked, her strong, smoky tone full of reproach.

“Uh, because I don’t know that I’m pregnant. Wait,” I held my breath like I was speaking with a doctor holding test results, “Am I pregnant?”

“If this old witch still has it, you are.”

Five days later, full shock and glee, I called her back. “I’m pregnant.”

I could hear her blow her cigarette smoke into the phone before she offhandedly replied, “It’ll be a girl.”

I had a boy.

She scratched her red head (what other color would a witch have?) and said, “I guess it’ll be the next one.” Nearly three years later, she was wrong again. Almost 3 years after that, when I had my third and last child, she was so convinced it was a girl, she snapped at me.  “What do you mean, it’s a boy!? Well, I’m sorry!”

I certainly didn’t care, but my grandma was not one to be wrong, ever. She didn’t take it well, but decided to love my boys regardless. They each were a shining, joyful light in her life.

By her 90th birthday celebration, she still remained convinced that I would have a girl. Somewhat dramatically (she knew no other way) she said, I would be naming the child after her, implying her death was near.

In the Jewish religion, a name is passed down after a loved one passes. My grandma had been housebound for the last decade with a variety of issues, but none of them life-threatening. Still, as she put it, over and over again, her suitcases were packed and she was ready to kiss her old ass goodbye. We listened to this talk for years, but recently, it seemed she might actually be getting closer to taking that trip.

I was over 40 by then. Given my age, and the fact that I had never become pregnant without assistance, I told her that, she would have to rely on another grandkid for that girl. Besides, I insisted, she was an ox with special powers, she wasn’t going anywhere.

Her response was a dirty look, but she conceded that maybe, in this one instance, her radar had been off. I don’t think she really believed it. She just no longer had the energy to argue. When I think about it now, I love that she remained truly convinced that she was right; such beautiful, dogged stubbornness.

Six months later, she died. I held on to her promises to haunt me and she didn’t disappoint; showing up in many ways, most notably as a fly on my wall, something she had always wished to be in her last homebound years.

I miss speaking with her, knowing I could just pick up the phone and hear her raspy voice. I know she hears me out there, but I’d be much happier to have her hear me over here. I try not to think about it.

But this week, I was late. Yes, that kind of late. A solid, bloated, hormonal and crampy, full week late. I knew I couldn’t be. I counted days and considered. It was not possible. Still, her voice was loud and bossy in my head; you will have a girl. Against all reason and sanity, I went and purchased a pregnancy test, cursing her under my breath.

I’ll spare you the suspense. I wasn’t pregnant, and two hours later, my friend, ‘Dot’ arrived. I laughed at myself and breathed a deep sigh of relief.

As the year anniversary of her passing draws near, I love that she can still mess with me. And since I don’t plan on having another child, I’m definitely going to be just a bit more careful about ‘things’ in the future. My grandmother doesn’t like to be wrong, and I don’t trust that witch at all.

grandma & jack

Boy, did she love her boys, but would it have killed me to have a girl?


Clue: Don’t play Board games with my husband

It was close to bed time, when my seven year-old produced the board game Clue with wide eyes and wider expectations. “Can we play?” He asked, his green, green eyes earnestly pleading.

I considered saying no. We were finally back to school, but our routine was still on vacation. We were going to sleep too late, and I was dragging my youngest and my oldest out of bed in the morning. I checked the clock and sighed. It was after 8 pm and teeth still needed to be brushed. Plus, getting them all settled in bed could easily take 45 minutes.

“One game.” I warned. How could I say no to his happy, little face? Especially since, that face was the one that lashed out the most and could be the hardest to reach. I love his happy. His happy is gorgeous.

He and my oldest set the board up and handed out the cards. My husband also decided to play and teamed up with my five year-old, immediately initiating a lot of dramatic high fives as to the ‘awesomeness’ of their ‘team’. It had been a while since I had played a board game with my husband, but it only took the first high five before it all came flooding back. My husband was a competitive ass.

I recalled card games years before which had him casting sneaky, sideway glances at our friends or throwing his winning cards before them with a triumphant and challenging, “Aha!” As a team, I’ll admit to being caught up in his win at all costs attitude. We were unbeatable at Pictionary and Trivia Pursuit. After a bit, the game phase faded with our crew, or more likely, we stopped being invited.

We started playing, asking our questions, searching for clues to uncover the murderer. Me to my oldest, “I think it’s Green, in the living room with a dagger. Can you confirm anything?” As he nods and slides a card my way, my husband’s voice penetrates with loud, boisterous glee. “Ah, I see! Yes!! Now I’ve got it! Hoo Hoo Hoo. I’ve so got this!”

The boys and I roll our eyes and continue, but with each turn, my husband interrupts with hoots and commentary. “Oh, I get it! Do you guys get it! See what I’m doing here?! I can show you how it’s done.” And then there’s the crazy laughter, “HAHAHAHA! I’m going to win!”

His aggressiveness is a little scary, and my youngest decides to switch to my team. We all try to ignore him. It’s his first time playing, after all. He doesn’t even know how to play. When we remind him of a rule, he says things like, “What? That’s ridiculous. I don’t think that’s correct.”

Still we forge onward, getting deeper into the game, crossing more and more would be murderers off our list. Miss Scarlett is no.  Colonel Mustard is a no. My husband’s bragging and obnoxious behavior reaching new heights with every turn, until finally, he screams, “I’ve got it!”

We were all closing in, but I thought I needed another turn or two to be certain. I figured he was taking a risky leap of testosterone faith. “It is Mrs. White, in the garage with the wrench.” He smugly turns over the hidden cards. And, he is…right! Damn it. He is right.

I am so annoyed. I hear his insane, booming voice, “You want to know how I knew? First off, I was so bluffing with the wrench! You got to know how to play if you want to play with the master! Bet you’re sorry you switched teams now, buddy! HAHAHAHA!”

My boys are yelling at him in frustration. “Daddy! You just guessed you didn’t know…”

But he is in his glory, reveling in his win.

As his laughter penetrates my ears, I consider my husband as the next victim of the game. It would be Ice Scream mama, in the kitchen with a spoon. I don’t think he’ll be allowed to play again anytime soon.

Great game!! Play at your own risk.

Playing Clue  just might be dangerous for my husband.

I wonder if I’m even going to miss the vomit?

At 2:30am, I opened my eyes with a start. Boy who never sleeps and barely eats, aka my seven year-old, is standing next to my bed. I felt him there, heard his soft breathing. So even though I’m a little unnerved to see him, I’m not surprised.

His soft breathing has a rasp to it. “I don’t feel good.”

My first instinct is annoyance. Stellar parenting, I know, but it’s the middle of the night. I push the thought away. “Oh baby.” I say. His little face looks pained and then it gets that look. You know, the one that makes you immediately look around to see if you’re standing on carpet or near something valuable. I leap from the bed, and practically shove him from my room to the bathroom. We make it just over the threshold before he throws up.

Yes! I’m doing a mental fist pump, ridiculously relieved to have made it at least onto the tiled bathroom, where clean-up is markedly easier. Hmm. Should this not be my first thought? My second is not much better. I’m making a list in my head of the things I won’t be doing since I’ll have him home from school the next day. To redeem myself, I rub his back as he continues puking all over the floor.

I should have seen this coming, in fact, I did.

Earlier that day we were at video game center, or more accurately, the gambling learning center for 5-12 year-old’s. The object of every game is to win tickets. My kids foam at the mouth for tickets. No matter that we spent $30 for four army men, six tootsie rolls, a rubber frog that smells funny and a key chain. At least they’re learning something.

In the middle of the debauchery, my seven year-old son approached. “I want to go home.” He whined.

Uh oh. “Really? Why?”

“I just want to go home.”

I noticed his eyes were a little glassy, but I attributed that to the excitement from all the gambling. Then he sneezed and snot blew out his nose and hung in clean, oblong droplet to his lip.

“Tissue!” I screamed, running for my bag. “Tissue!” My capacity for denial runs deep, people. I saw the truth, but I wasn’t ready to accept it.  I told myself it was just a cold. We headed home, and not because of the stares of horrified gamers, but because we wanted to. So there.

I made breakfast for dinner and the boys had ice cream snowmen cups from Baskin Robbins for dessert. I didn’t take much notice that the boy who never sleeps and barely eats, didn’t eat much. Uh, nothing new there.

I snuggled them all into bed, spending extra time cuddling. I am acutely aware of the passage of time, and allow my sappiness to seep out at night, making me a pawn for their pleas of “Just one more minute!” or “I’m hungry.”

I know that each stage that passes brings me older, more mature children, less needy of their mommy’s attention. Little things change, like, my middle one only asks me to tickle his back for a few moments every few nights, instead of the rigorous tickle back routine I used to affectionately endure. My oldest no longer loves me coming to his sport games. All of a sudden, I make him nervous.

But my baby, my now five year-old baby, is still so full of mommy love that sometimes I’m pushing it away. Uh honey, can we triple hug and kiss again later? Mommy wants to work on an essay. Where is that DS?  I reflect with horror. I am actually taking some baby love for granted, when soon it will (poo poo poo) grow up and leave me cold. No more, I vow. We will hug day and night!

That’s when the vomit hits my foot and startles me back. I want to throw up too, but, instead, I get him some water, strip him down and wash him up. Then, I give him some Tylenol,tuck him back into bed, spending some extra time tickling.

With him settled, I get on my hands and knees and start the fabulously exciting activity of cleaning up. It’s after 3 am, I’ve still got to get all the towels and clothes into the laundry and clean myself up before I get into bed. We’re talking close to 4 am. Is this really something I’m going to miss?

Before I can even get my disgusting bundle down to the laundry, I hear his little voice call to me. “Mama…” I drop the towels and run to his room. Yeah, no question, I am.

(this is a re-enactment photo. no sick child was photographed for the making of this blog)

(This is a re-enactment photo. No sick child was photographed for the making of this blog. He’s good, right?)