Archive for February, 2009

Taking My Own Medicine

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Four days in San Francisco with my husband.

A nice hotel–with a king size bed.

A trip down memory lane (we used to live in Noe Valley).

Drinks at Specs in North Beach; dinner at our old haunt.

A day with my best friend.

Vintage clothes shopping on Haight Ashbury.

Reading a book front to back on the plane.

Sound good? Well, that’s what I was GOING TO BE DOING this week. That is, until the kids got sick. My kids are older, so we’re over the constant ear infections, endless strep and mysterious “aches” that require nursing. They usually power through being sick and get better pretty fast.

Not this time, oh no. Peter was out 4 days last week, and until the last minute I held out hope he would improve enough that I could feel okay about leaving. I mean, I had already put in about a week’s worth of work setting up carpools and overnights, food, homework, thank you’s and I O U’s etc… I’d laid all the groundwork…

When he woke up with a fever on Saturday and I realized my long-awaited trip was kaput, I felt like an eight year old throwing a tantrum, except that my tantrum involved going very, very  quiet and drinking too much vodka.

For a day I wallowed in my own misery. What made me feel even worse was knowing I was being a drama queen, and that there are plenty of moms out there who are REALLY struggling, and not throwing hissy fits because they can’t get their own way.

Still mad as hell, I nonetheless plowed through it and made protein shakes, dispensed medicine, gave advice about cracking lips and bleeding noses (bad bad bad head cold), helped with missed homework and called the doctor to make sure I was doing everything I should be doing. Oh and I canceled all those carpool and overnights and favors.

I looked at our book, Mothers Need Time-Outs, Too and thought, Christ, if there’s ever a time I need to take my own medicine!

So I took out my trusted little notebook and listed all the good things I’d do for myself while Kevin was in San Francisco on his own, and I was here holding up the fort.  I was going to: work out vigorously every day, watch the Academy Awards with friends, watch a movie of MY CHOICE each night in bed, work doubly hard on my writing projects and eat well. No vodka. No self pity.

And presto, I felt better already!

Life in the Doctor’s Office…

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Did you hear about the 12 year old Massachusetts boy who DIED from the flu this past weekend? One day he’s fine and a few days later, gone.

I remember going to the doctor when the kids were little and often feeling like a total moron. The doctor would ask how long has he/she been coughing, or does he/she have a fever, and it never seemed long enough or bad enough to have warranted a visit (or a cure). I’d skulk away feeling like an over protective mother who had just wasted everyone’s precious time.

Then I got over it. The winter when Peter got strep five times, Greta had three ear infections, two colds, plus stitches, and Svenja had strep three times and the stomach bug twice, I almost lost my mind. The HOURS I spent in that doctor’s office, desperate for help. By springtime, I felt as though I’d practically qualified as a nurse: if you’d asked me a medical question regarding bodily fluids or upset stomachs, ear-twinges or muscle aches, I usually had an answer. Not always the right one, but I’d sure try.

I think mothers are vastly underestimated on the health care front. Take orthodontistry or dentistry as just one example.  I have three kids with three sets of braces. I work full time (thank GOD I have a flexible schedule or my kids’ teeth would be rotten and buck…). They need to go to the dentist every six weeks for a tune-up, and every three months for a clean-up. I can NEVER get appointments at the same time. Today I made eight appointments between now and September, and only two of them are on the same day.

My son’s school is a good 45 minutes away from the dentist’s office. Do they have evening hours? No, of course not. I have to pick him up early from 9th grade and have him miss school.

I’m not moaning here. I’m just acknowledging how much work we do that even WE don’t appreciate. I hate the dentist and always have. I now spend half my life at the dentist. I’ve made peace with that. I still don’t like it, but when I was driving home today, I thought, we’re making progress here! One down, hundreds to go.

In the end, my kids will have nice teeth and I even snuck in a good 40 minute chunk of quiet time in the waiting room reading The Reader by Bernhard Schlink.

See, my “wasted” hours today weren’t a total write off!

In the Now: Bedtime Stories

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

When my ten-year old asks for a bedtime story, as she does every single night without fail, my husband and I play chicken. I always hope he’ll drag himself up to her room and read to her, and he always hopes I’ll do it (99% of the time, he’s already asleep and I read to her).

I hate admitting this. How can I try to wheedle my way out of a routine that is so sweet and loving and will go on for only such a limited amount of time? She’s already ten years old–will she still ask us to read to her next year? And the year after that?

No, by then she’ll be too busy texting her ten boyfriends and updating her Facebook page. (NOT.)

Come 9pm, I am so desperate to crawl into bed that reading to Svenja seems like a chore. Yet every night, when I lie beside her still-tiny body reading, I end up sinking into the moment and enjoying it. Once I have cracked open the book and started, I no longer feel as weary and bored of chores. I read, I ask her questions, I talk about tomorrow, and I always, always get some quality moments with her.

And yet, every night I feel the same pull of reluctance, and I have to remind myself that these days are numbered, and that those precious quiet moments with her are worth way more than the 15 extra minutes I’d get watching some mind-numbing schlock on TV.

The Best Laid Plans…

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

My plan for today was great. It included a 40 minute run at 8.5 minutes a mile (tough for me), getting the train into Boston to work a full day (always a treat for me to be out of the house and in the city). The kids’ pick ups were all organized and I was FREE TO WORK UNENCUMBERED.

Alas, for the working mother, the best laid plans are often the ones that shatter into a million pieces. But we are so inured to all the shifts and complexities, we take a deep breath and re-asses. Then we just get on with the new plans.

Looks like I might spend the day at Children’s Hospital instead of working on our book presentation to a big Alumni group: Svenja woke up today unable to sit up in bed because she is so incredibly dizzy she keeps throwing up.

Last time this happened, we went through a battery of tests at the Hospital (and spent seven hours there, which I guess isn’t really too bad) to discover it was a deep ear infection. That was great news. Anti nausea drugs and antibiotics and she was right as rain.

So, here I am. I predict I will do little or no work today (and have to spend tomorrow catching up), not achieve my run, and spend hours in waiting rooms, holding my sweet little girl who cries like a wounded animal when she’s hurting. I will stroke her face and tell her that I am here and I will take care of her, and I will try my best to do that.

And all the while, I will be thankful, so very thankful, for our overall health, and that I’m not one of those moms who has to live in  hospitals tending to a very sick child.

Oprah, We Are Ready!

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

We had so much fun today taping a “home video” pitch for Oprah. We sat in Susan’s living room, surrounded by all our kids (minus Greta who is sick and barking like a seal). This is the fun part of PR– reaching out to media people by being honest, down-to-earth, creative and, well, maybe a little hokey.

Oprah, if you’re out there, we have things to say! It’s our mission to help moms slow down and reconnect with their instincts and passions, and we know you are on the same wavelength. We’re ready to take America by storm, and change women’s lives for the better.

I’ll post the YouTube link here once we can get the technology figured out (no mean feat for a techno-phobic wordsmith!).