Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I love hearing my longtime friends see something in Sadie and say that it reminds them of me from way back when.  For instance, the picture to the left made a college friend comment "I recognize those moves!" remembering me dancing around one sorority party or another. I hope it is not an ego thing (I love to dance, but it is clear that I am not talented in that area).

Over the last two weeks, both Sadie and Mark have come down with wicked colds. Mark's promptly turned into a sinus infection, as it has the last 5 years according to his doctor's records, in the very same week.  He started his second round of antibiotics yesterday. Sadie's drained into hear ear and her eye, and today she started her second round of antibiotics. While I love that the four year old has learned the skill of blowing her nose (instead of letting it drip out, which is what happened for the first three years). But Sadie loves blowing her nose, so much that she mostly does it without a Kleenex in hand and then runs to me and yells "tissue!" for me to wipe it. More than once I have thought (or probably uttered) "why did you have to get your father's sinuses??"

I have had very few sinus infections/colds over the years.  But Sadie and Mark... they both seem to catch every cold and it always escalates.  She clearly has his genetics here.

But I have been exhausted from it all. Because generally, I am the one that gets up with her at night, feels the forehead, and gives her Tylenol.  And then after she falls asleep in our bed, I am the one that lays awake on a 9 inch wide place in our bed worrying about why she is getting sick again. Or worrying about how I can schedule a doctors appointment and fit it in with everything else going on the next day. Or wondering how we will survive the plane flight to Disney on Sunday if she still has ears full of fluid. It isn't that Mark is not inattentive to these issues (so he tells me). But what sense is it to have both of us fretting away?

This is one trait that I honestly hope I don't pass down to Sadie. I have no comfort at all with living in uncertainty. None. Zilch. Nada (those who know Veggie Tales will know that I sound like A Pirate Who Doesn't Do Anything).

I believe this is different than being a worry wart -- I have come to realize the distinction just recently.  Because I don't fear bad news, really, at all.  I am actually much more comfortable with the receipt of bad news than I am in the grey zone of waiting for the good or the bad. Once the bad news comes, I don't fear the consequences of it... not really. I make my plan accordingly and then act. I am honestly very comfortable once the unknown is... well... known!  Good or bad. Remove the uncertainty, and I can get moving in the necessary direction. But in the land of grey between black and white, the nighttime when I lay awake obsessing about the signs of viral versus bacterial infection and debating which it could be, when it started, how she seemed fine when we were reading a story but didn't eat anything for dinner... the area of wondering is where I find myself in full blown obsession.

I simply hate the lack of certainty.

Once we got to the pediatrician again this morning (I say again because we were there two weeks ago tomorrow at 6 pm for an ear infection, and then at 9 am the next morning for pink eye), all of my angst disappeared. This was now in the hands of someone else. A medical professional. I would soon know what to do. The grey phase was gone, and this was to become black or white. And it was -- another ear infection. Another prescription, a stronger medicine, the recommendation for a pro biotic and also a script for a nasal steroid spray. We had a plan. I was relieved, in the best mood I had been in a week (as this new cold had been slowly taking over). Sadie sensed my feeling of control and was also happy and lighthearted, notwithstanding that she has very little hearing out of her blocked ear and is blowing yellow gook every few minutes.

Living in the grey zone... that is something that I wouldn't mind she inherit from her father. He does it far better than I do. He doesn't dwell or worry like I do. And he can take the time to live in the grey to let the black or white outcome slowly... come out!  Not me. I will hurry along the answer just so it will be an answer.  Doesn't really matter if it is right or wrong, as long as it is resolved, I rarely look back. I have accepted jobs like this, bought cars like this, even bought houses and moved away (and back) like this. My positive spin is that I am perfectly comfortable with spontaneity.  Mark's not so positive spin is that I can't live with uncertainty and act rashly sometimes.  So far I haven't gotten burned.  He delays and thinks everything through for a long time (note that we got engaged after we dated off and on for many years).  Maybe we provide a nice balance to each other.

I do hope that Sadie learns something from Mark's way of action (or rather, inaction), and doesn't fear the grey stage between black and white as much as I do. But if there was anyway to change what has already happened... I would give her my sinuses in a heartbeat.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Fourth Birthday

My baby turned four at 7:48-ish this morning.  It feels like decades, and yet just moments, have passed since the most wonderful doctor in the world greeted Mark and I at 7:30 am on the first floor of Henrico Doctors Hospital with his confident grin and assured us that Van Morrison indeed would be playing on cable radio in the OR for my entire C-section and that he was about to present me with a beautiful healthy baby girl, completely pain free. And he was right!

Such a remarkable contrast to dark memories of just about two years earlier when I laid on a similar hospital gurney curled up into ball onto my side as a wonderful, but far less cheerful doctor performed a spinal tap and then quietly told my husband that I was very sick. It took a long time to recover from meningitis and all that came with it. It took a long time to trust that God had a plan that had more than pain and shortcomings meant for me.

And then randomly one July evening in 2006, with no pre-planning, no supportive studies, no doctor visits, no proven techniques... I took a pregnancy test and saw the undeniable line that literally and figuratively started the path of the journey for the rest of my life. With that line, my life that was all mine ended and was replaced by a life whose most important job was to lead a unit of us.  A cohesive unit unified in all purpose...? Mmmm, not always.  Not during the moments when she wanted to be awake in the middle of the night and I wanted to be asleep! Or the moments I am trying to get the bed time routine accomplished and she is trying to explain a make-believe story taking place in her mind. Or when I am trying to get us out of the house to go to school in the mornings and she is baking a pretend cake in the oven that is almost ready, and then simply must get frosted and not in a hurried sort of way mommy, and I need to learn to be patient.  Some days I feel nothing more than a lamppost, lighting the way, or maybe even a guardrail on an interstate, with my job to be to keep just one car on the road (but withstand a lot of slamming into during bad weather).

I love so many things about my Sadie at four years old.  I love her steel trap memory and keen observation skills, I love her empathy toward animals (both real and stuffed) and vegetables (also both real and stuffed), and friends. I love that she has a sense of performance and vigor (for shows often in front of said animals and vegetables); I love her love of learning and adventure. I love that she asks why some people say "I don't care" and then says "Caring is what you are supposed to do, silly!" I love her look of determination when she rides her bike down steep hills and overcomes certain fears. And I the grin that appears on her face when we compliment a picture she has recently drawn or a list of words that she has written. I love the look on her face every night moments after she falls asleep, when she takes her thumb out of her mouth and rolls towards me unconsciously and I can study her eyelids and her cheeks and her hairline from inches away, and her sweet mouth that still relaxes in a sort of smile just like it did when she slept as an infant in my arms. I love that when Mark asks her to stop growing up so fast she looks at him thinks for a minute and says "Well Daddy I have to grow up, but I will stay little awhile longer so don't be sad OK?"

And I love that she has made me a better person. I love that after 37 years of putting myself first and my own goals and successes first in my own mind, I am no longer identified by them, or even guided by them. Now, even if fail at numerous other things in my life, like professional accomplishments, a clean and orderly house, a svelte and healthy body, etc., that I can go to bed every single night knowing that I succeeded at something far greater than those other things combined. I played some role in raising my daughter for another day. I assisted on her journey for another day.  I kept her on the interstate and out of the ditch.

Yesterday at Sadie's school was dress as your favorite Bible character day. There was no doubt in our minds that Sadie would choose to be Jonah, or rather, Archibald Asparagus dressed up as Jonah from the Veggie Tales movie. Sadie loves the Veggie Tales and we spend every day reading the stories and listening to the CD, but Jonah has an especially high ranking in her mind. Interestingly, she actually understands the most difficult concept for me as an adult which is at end of the movie (or the end of the Bible story which we all know) in which Jonah really doesn't learn much after all and still wishes that God would wipe the people from Nineveh from the face of the earth. While she loves the middle of the story, and its lasting messages, where a team of angels with incredible voice and singing talent tells Jonah that God is a God of second chances, and knows every word to that song, she has this really great way of understanding that at the end, Jonah still has a hard time understanding that God is the God of second chances. And so do we.

Sadie's costume was wonderful and I was so impressed with it all (thank you Tyler who worked endlessly on designing it, I am sure, with demands from Sadie ringing in her ears). But best of all is the scroll which is here. Sadie wrote the words on it herself.

She is, unmistakeably, my message from the Lord.

And I am thankful.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Nearing Four...

Four years ago almost exactly, today. As I tell the story to Sadie as one of her often chosen bedtime stories, on March 7, 2007, Mommy woke up feeling a little bit weird. This was the last picture Mark took right before we left the house to go to the hospital.

Last night Sadie went to bed at 7:45 pm.  Mark had to go to the office to get some things for a presentation he has today, and I had to do two loads of laundry and wrap Sadie's birthday presents.

Last year at this time, Sadie had a double ear infection and we spent the equivalent of yesterday at KidMed. I was thinking last night at 8:15 pm, as I was sitting in the kitchen with a glass of wine procrastinating on the laundry folding, that at that instant one year ago, I was likely cleaning up the puke that had resulted from me giving her Motrin on an empty stomach (this went on for a few days, I was a slow learner of that fact).  We had Sadie's 3rd birthday party the day before her birthday (so the equivalent of today) since it was a Sunday.  A house full of adults and kiddos and my child retreated to her bed 5 minutes into the dinner party for the next 2 hours. She proceeded to throw up while she was opening the presents. All over the leather couch.

Two years ago, for her second birthday, she was also sick with some virus. That year, I had the forethought to cancel her friend birthday party. So instead we went to Williamsburg and a cake that I had made with both sets of her grandparents.

On her first birthday she was healthy, but didn't nap for three days before her birthday at all and pretty much gave up morning naps all together after she turned one. I remember enjoying the day, but being worried sick that she was not getting enough sleep (a running theme for her first three years).

So this year, knock on wood, is a seemingly healthy and relaxed lead-up to the birthday.  Which led me to too much time to think.

I am fundamentally opposed to living life with regrets. I can honestly say that up until Sadie was born, I didn't have any regrets. Because I like to talk, to write, and have never lacked having "the last word" when a last word needed to be said, the periods in my life that had closure... well... they never lacked closure. Often life has been like my training for marathons. I put time into things and they yielded the corresponding results. I honestly didn't have any regrets about anything I had done.

But last night, I could feel loads of regrets entering my mind. Why didn't I savor the days? Why was I so ready for my infant to eat more, grow more, smile more, sleep more? Why did I spend hours in front of the computer diagnosing health problems that eventually often remedied themselves? Why did I keep hoping she would develop some trait faster, enter the next stage, do this or do that, then... then things would be perfect. Where did those four years go?  My mind raced on last night and still is this morning. I am not sure that these are regrets as much as they just are reflections. A lot of snapshots just entering my mind one after the other. A newborn, and infant, a toddler, a little girl... looking bright eyed to the future. And a mother in the background, worried about something or other.

I have recently gotten somewhat addicted to the show called Mad Men. Part of my love is of the fashion, the clothing from the 1960s Madison Avenue lifestyle is just incredible! But part of my fascination is seeing what really was a completely different lifestyle that most of the wives and mothers lived from what I am living right now. I often look back at my childhood with rose colored glasses, thinking that things were simpler then, easier then. But the women were bitter, lonely, and most of them not enjoying motherhood like I think I do.

So, I am not sure if I have regrets now, or if I am instead just finally but tearfully grateful for the moments that have passed.  I find it interesting that Sadie is probably just entering the age now that she is making memories that she will have forever. I remember a few things from then I was four, and then a lot more from five on.  There is a comfort in knowing that the times of the past, where I have regrets about not enjoying them more, are times that she will not ever recall. These times now, the times that I am there more than I am away, the times where we have a rock solid care giver and a great school setting, the days of awesome art projects and fun games and toys... these are the days that she will remember. I hope in these pictures, I will appear less worried. And happier. Because I am.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Its called Life.

This was what my husband said last night as I was laying across our sitting room sofa lamenting on how hard my days seem right now. How stressed out work has become, how there are 12 non-work things that all seem to need to be done in the next 2 months and no time to get to them, how people have been letting me down by lapsing on their parts of the bargain expecting that I will be monitoring things, etc. He was unpacking his suitcase from his 3 day stay at the Hotel Mandarin in Washington DC for a seminar, half listening to me, and probably half wondering why he came back to a woman who sees the glass not only as mostly empty, but leaking profusely and chipped all at the rim... "Its called life" he said. This, I took to be, a combination of "end of conversation"  and  "do you think the rest of us don't have some stress these days too?"

I went downstairs and ate the top centimeter (give or take) of a pint of gilato and watched the last 10 minutes of Biggest Loser. Doing that, out of the carton with a spoon, makes me feel like this is not really a serving that needs to be counted. And I do it standing up.  And it did make me feel better. As did the 8 hours of solid sleep that I got thereafter. And the shower that I took this morning. And having Mark take Daisy for her walk, Daisy exiting her depressive state that she stays in every time Mark travels (note she was my dog for years before Mark and I got married, how does she think this makes me feel) and Sadie waking up happy too. All things that weren't really happening when he was gone. The day looks slightly brighter.

But all of this does raise a question in my own mind, and that is... is it right to convey to a 4 year old that her mother is stressed out and has an unpleasant outlook, at least some of the time?

See, to Mark's point of "Its called life," I always remark that my parents never appeared this stressed when I was little.  My father was home by 6:05 every night (sure he left at 7:30 am) and there was no blackberry or cellphone or computer for him to work on later in the evenings. I remember his routine of watching the news every night (CBS) for 30 minutes, and then catching up on reading the paper, and my mother often having a glass of wine over a bucket of ice and reading her romance novels. I don't do either of those things. 

Two nights ago I ironed one half of a linen table cloth that we used for a birthday party in our dining room a few weeks go, and that felt like 30 minutes of luxury. I say half the cloth because it quickly became apparent that there was no good way to make sure that the part that I ironed stayed clean when I was having to loop it over this skinny ironing board in our basement laundry room where a shedding Daisy had been bathed recently. I gave up and will take the table cloth to the cleaners and have it professionally pressed I think. But at least now it is folded instead of draped over our second floor landing where it was for over a week.

But I digress. From my eye as a child, my parents weren't stressed and had it all taken care of. They weren't necessarily effusive with their happiness either, most of the time. But I can count on one hand the times that I have seen either of them cry (the death of each of their parents) from sadness. Sadie probably sees my eyes well up with tears of frustration weekly. OK, daily.

I don't ever want her to think that she is the reason for my distress. Because honestly, she isn't. I have two friends who are struggling with infertility at 44 and 40, and I know that their stresses are so much greater than mine. When I stop to think and really reflect, we are so incredibly blessed.

But then I am at work, fullish time instead of partish time like I bargained for, with a husband who travels a lot either for work or for family matters, an ailing mother in law who I am so sad for but who I also probably resent for entering this life stage right now when I would rather Mark and I be frolicking with a happy four year old, taxes to do, a Disney trip to finish planning, a dog with a mole growing over her eyelid that seems to irritate her cornea now once a week, a house that can't ever get uncluttered, 5 weeks before said house and yard needs to be decorated for the Virginia Garden Tour, a soccer team to coach, yada yada yada.

I feel so very behind. And I never feel like I am catching up. Sure I could take time off (and likely, probably will have to) to do my taxes, get the house and yard ready, and finish organizing our itinerary for Disney. But who wants to take time off for administrative matters like that. It just seems so overwhelming to have so much "admin time" just to be a 41 year old married mother of one these days! And that's not counting work admin time. I just remembered I have to check on a carpet we ordered that was supposed to be in during the first week of February. How shocked I would be if just once, just once, someone called me to say "you know that carpet that you ordered, I just wanted to tell you that it would be coming in in X days" instead of me, four weeks after the time frame, frantically remembering in my mind "that carpet should have been in a month ago, I wonder who I need to call to find out what the status of that is?"  It is just baffling to me how many lists of outstanding items that I need to keep going. And those of you who know me know that I was never one to earn the Most Organized award.

So that's my lament. That's the flip side of the coin.

This morning Sadie was slow to leave for school, wanting to finish building a parking garage out of Magnitiles.  She is methodical and each garage has a swinging door where matchbox cars fit in, all per her design. We have to go, I kept telling her. Her remark back to me "Mommy, you are not being very nice, and if you keep saying that, you are not going to be my mommy anymore."  OK I have never threatened that, ever --- not even in my mind where a lot of threats reside and don't get uttered. And she said it in this calm fashion, not even out of anger, and continued to build her garage. I took off my 4 tote bags (purse, lunch, gym clothes, work) plus my return box to send back to Zappos and built the rest of the garage with her. We then left for school and listenened to the Veggie Tale cd in the car that is still playing in my mind. When I dropped her off in her classroom, she was the second child there... not late as I had been threatening after all.  Now if only I could put her in charge of doing our taxes.