Monday, March 24, 2008

The Potato Chip Syndrome

This past Friday, my husband and I ended up with an unexpected night off from our children. I had taken them to my mother's house for the day, escaping some loud and dirty construction work going on at our house. My son Joey refused to take a nap at Nana's (too much fun to be had?!?) and therefore missed both of his daily naps. By 6 pm, I was ready to head home, feed my son dinner, and put them both to bed earlier than usual, hoping he'd catch up on some sleep. Then my husband called and implored me to stay away as long as possible while he cleaned up the construction mess inside the house before I returned with the children. So I stayed for dinner.

By 8 pm Joey was so exhausted he could hardly keep his eyes open so we put him down there again, and after just a few minutes of protest, was out like a light. My mom suggested he spend the night, and then ever so kindly offered to keep my daughter overnight as well. My son is sleeping through the night. My daughter is not. So after reminding my mother three times that my daughter was not sleeping through the night, and in fact pretty much woke up at 4 am like clockwork, she still agreed to keep both kids for a sleepover. By that time it was 9:30 pm. I headed home sans children. But because our night off was unplanned, there was little time for my husband and I to do anything other than go to bed, thoroughly exhausted but thrilled at the prospect of a full night's sleep.

Guess what 4 am straight up, I woke up. After I looked at the clock, I said to myself, "I bet Lyra is up." My husband woke up as well, conditioned as we were. We both simultaneously commented to each other how tired we were. It was in that moment that I realized this night off from our children was like a potato chip. You either wanted none at all, or a lot more than one. Getting none at all kept you from tasting the salty, crunchy, greasy delicious temptation that are potato chips - or full nights' sleeps. Getting only one left you desperate for more. I think the worst part was having this realization at 4 am, which pretty much ruined the rest of our night's sleep.

And by the way, Lyra did in fact get up at 4 am. That made me feel good that I was that tuned in to my daughter. Now if only I can get her tuned in to me to sleep just a bit later in the morning, and I could have just a few more potato chips.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Is This What 40 Something Is?

I've blogged about my fibroids. I've written about my erratic sleeping patterns, I think due in part to hormones. A couple of months ago, I hurt the rotator cuff on my right arm....I believe due to lifting Seth under that arm. And, it's still not 100 percent. I didn't even know what a rotator cuff is. Now I'm all too aware.

As if my health isn't enough of an open book, I'm going to share the latest. I just found out I have tiny gallstones. And, the gastro doc I saw right away said I should see a surgeon. I totally balked and immediately emailed my integrative doctor and starting researching on the web. He faxed to me a liver/gall bladder flush which patients have had success with when the stones are small. Mine are described as "tiny," so I'm hoping this does the trick. I'm only mildly symptomatic at this point.

I figured I just had to drink some olive oil and lemon juice as a friend suggested. But, no, this is much more involved, including the use of coffee, berries, heavy whipped creme, etc. I'll spare you the details. Suffice it to say, this is not going to be a walk in the park. Thankfully I don't have to drink the coffee....but I'm dreading this whole procedure. And, how do you know if it works? The instructions said that if you feel nauseous during the night, that's a good thing. We want to achieve that result, it stated. Terrific! Another reason not to sleep.

I'll do it. I'm a trooper. And, this is WAY better than surgery, even laproscopic.

I had a chat with my trainer at the gym about this, who in addition to working my body, has become like a mom figure/therapist/friend. Sometimes we yak more about life stuff and the exercise lags behind, but it's always comforting since she is well read on health matters and loves to share.

This past week she confided in me that I should get used to this kind of stuff. That once you hit 40 (not that she or I want to depress you), according to her, your body changes and things happen, however minor. But, it takes adjustment, and ultimately acceptance...and letting go of control if we ever thought we had it. This isn't easy for me to swallow. I'd rather swallow tons of supplements, than this notion.

I'm hearing this from others too. A friend I recently had dinner with said she has a couple of herniated discs and is now seeing a chiropractor. Another gal I know in her 40s just had hip replacement. And, people are buying reading glasses, taking MSM pills for aches, etc.

Granted, luckily, none of this is serious in the scheme of things. But, as one mom said to me, it's amazing, because when she was younger, her biggest health concern was an occasional cold. And, now she's living in a body she doesn't fully recognize.

At a time when we need self care the most, it's so hard to get it when mothering requires major time and effort.

I guess going with the flow is the best attitude, and being grateful for our bodies, despite newfound developments.

Anyone else finding 40+ a time for bodily changes?

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Going Back to Work (2)

Ten days until I return to work. And I continue to address my anxieties.

One major problem has been solved: we found a babysitter. She came for the interview, and we knew that we found the one. We checked her references; all enjoyed long-term relationships with her (17 years and nine years), retaining her for house-cleaning once the babysitting years were over. But she wanted to take care of babies rather than to clean houses. We decided to give it a go.

The first day she came to babysit, our daughter was happy with her all day long, playing, sleeping, and eating on schedule. We were so happy for having found such a perfect match. Then the second day came with a surprising turnabout: our daughter shrieked and wailed from the moment I handed her to the babysitter. After 30 minutes, I left the house, my heart broken and trampled by powerful emotions of guilt, sadness, and desire to hold her, even though I knew in my mind that everything would be alright. When I returned home after a couple of hours, I found the house bubbling with gentle singing. Our daughter calmed down after an hour, I was told.

Today is the second day with the babysitter. This time, after 30 minutes of shrieking and wailing, the babysitter took our daughter out for a walk. They came back, calm and happy.

Maybe our daughter thinks shrieking and wailing is the way to greet someone?

No, I should be honest with myself. She must be reflecting my own set of emotions: anxiety (of entrusting her care to someone else), sadness (of not hanging out with her), and fear (believe it or not, what if our daughter becomes more attached to the babysitter?).

Perhaps a change in my attitude is the answer to a smooth transition. I'll try that next time.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Green-Eyed Monster

I'm jealous. And, I'm sorry for how I feel, but at times, I can't help it. I'm being brutally honest.

I'm deeply envious of those moms who still have their parents and have a close relationship with them. They are SO lucky, and I feel the loss.

My mom passed away 10 years ago, and as I think I've mentioned in previous blogs, she never met my son. I try super hard not to dwell on this, but clearly it has left a wound for me. I adored my mom, and nothing would have made her more happy than seeing me become a mom. I would have liked to make her proud, and while I know her spirit is with me, Seth did not meet her. I tell him about her and he's seen photos, but for sure, it's not the same.

I broach this subject because a mom friend of mine emailed me today that she is going to Europe with her husband for a family function. I asked if her two kids are going? She said, no, they would remain at home with her folks, who would stay at her house while they are away.

I found myself emailing her back and writing You are SO fortunate to have them.

While the last thing I aim to do is put myself on a soap box about this subject, there is a little voice inside me that often feels compelled to scream to other moms "Cherish your mom. Appreciate her. Let her know how you feel. Flaws and all."

My mom wasn't perfect. What is perfect? But she was MY mom, and that was all that mattered. I love my dad big time, but he's different than her.

What a treat for kids to spend time with their grandparents, especially if they live close and can visit regularly...and want to be there. And, how great for a couple to have the opportunity to get away and know that their children are in top notch hands, and that it is a special bonding experience for all involved.

I would have so welcomed that. As a 40 something mom, I recognize that if I had become a mom earlier in life, my own mom would have lived to see it. But, everything happens, I do believe, as it is meant to. I don't live in regret. We wouldn't have Seth if things had played out differently.

It just pains me at times when I hear people complaining about their well-meaning mother. I respect that people have differences. But, for example, another mom I know says that her mother spoils her child by buying him so many toys, for no occasion.

While I understand the concept of toy overload (we have that in my home) the scheme of things, that would be a nice problem to have. That you mom relishes your child so much that she can't do enough for them. And, perhaps she has wisdom to share. I find myself often quoting my mom and recalling what she would likely say, if I'm having an off day. all the moms out there who still have their mom....enjoy!!!

Labels: , , ,

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Instant Family

Greetings. My name is Joanna Brody. One year ago I could not imagine writing a blog (what do I have to say?) let alone on a site for "later in life" mothers. Yet here I am today, 44, the mother of two, sharing my life and thoughts, tribulations and triumphs, with a group of women whom I can now call my sisters.

I have two children, Joey, exactly 10 months old today, and Lyra, who turned four months old last week. Yes, two children under the age of one- and no, not twins, and no, not fertility. One achieved through the miracle of adoption and one achieved through some miracle beyond medical science. My son's birthmother is half Filipina, which is what my husband it. And my daughter was conceived quite unexpectedly, and even more unexpectedly, carried to term after I had four miscarriages in the four years prior. So two beautiful one quarter Filipino children, both of whom I am now convinced were destined to be with us and vice versa. All of this after I decided, and convinced my husband, that I was quite content to be child free. Hah!

In addition to our children, we have two gigantic, magnificent French sheepdogs, Hobbes & Kali (a puppy to add to the mix), who truly are fur children to us. Plus we just finished building and moved into a new home (my son has lived in four places since he was born - the place we lived in while we built our house, my parents' house, the rental unit on our new property, and finally, our new home). It's been quite a year.

I have now returned to work as a public relations consultant, so am doing the working mom thing. Working is easy, motherhood is hard, being a working mom (especially after pregnancy brain) is a heroic endeavor. But I know millions of women do it selflessly with grace and modesty every day, and I am proud to be just one in a million plus. By the way, has anyone ever thought that the advice "sleep when they sleep" is the lamest advice ever - especially for a working mom?!?!


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

How did that happen?

A little hello from the wild west in Prescott, Arizona. My name is Maureen VanWalleghan and Robin invited me to do some blogging here at Motherhood Later Than Sooner... I am a wee bit nervous...even though I am a writer there is something quite amazing to be living in a time when one's words with the push of a button are available to anyone with the internet. Probably my age is showing, like a slip under a too small skirt. I have a feeling that as a blogger and mom this happens quite alot.

A bit about myself. I have a two and half year old daughter (H.) and have been married for three years. I came to the babymaking scene late. I had my daughter at 41 almost 42. I was somewhat surprised to find myself pregnant with my then boyfriend since I didn't actually think I could get pregnant. Since I had always wanted to be a mom I decided to jump into marriage and go for it. Wow...what a shock to the system it has been. Before I met my husband I had been living a single life (for about ten years) in New York City as a graphic designer, then gallerist and finally high school English teacher. I had a dog (my longest relationship to date). When I met my husband I had settled in rural Arizona with a little house I bought on five acres next to my mom's ten acres. I was teaching and I still had my dog.

Take a big breath here...I feel like I went from a power babe to a dish washing slave. Life as a wife and mom is all about cleaning. Who knew? My single life and careers did not prepare me for the reality of homemaking. And I've watched way too many light romantic comedies to have an real sense of marriage. Don't get me wrong, I am, on some particular days, very happy with my life, but the cleaning has reduced me to an invisiblity that has been difficult to overcome emotionally. I think the issue at hand is feeling like my power as a human is nill because I am not a major income earner as I was before marriage and baby. If one considers that for 25 years I have been defined by my work and by proxy my paycheck, not having much of either has been a blow to my ego and myself esteem that I am only now beginning to understand.

Of course, I should qualify myself by saying that a year ago I did finish my MFA in creative writing with the support and help of both my husband and my mom. And I am looking at beginning a year-long certificate program in filmmaking in the fall. Both of which are personal dreams that I have wanted to pursue for sometime. But it's the line "the days are long and the years are short" from the book MoJo Mom that best describes what I feel for the important but totally invisible work of homemaking.

Homemaking, a huge topic, is on the brain and so I'll save that for next time...

Monday, March 10, 2008

Back in the Dark Ages

Had a frustrating day today.

Came off a nice weekend and had hoped for a good chunk of productivity before Seth returned from pre-K today.'ve no doubt heard the expression....we make our plans, and G-d makes his. Today was one of those days.

I was in the kitchen just about done heating up my lunch, thankfully, when everything blew. All power got zapped in the house. This is our second electrical outage in two weeks. WAY too many by my standards!

As a work-at-home mom, this threw my whole day out of whack. As someone who relies heavily on computer usage, particularly email, I was no longer in constant communication (maybe this is a good thing?!). I could still access email on my Treo phone, but it's not the same as having my lap top.

Luckily the phones still worked. And, it got me thinking. In a way, I felt like I was living back in the dark ages, and it made me uneasy.

What did we do before computers? We relied on phones, and there is something to be said for that.

As a 40 something mom, I did not grow up with computers. It is different for Seth. While just 5, he already knows how to operate my computer on a basic level. It's truly amazing. It is quite second nature to him.

I was speaking with another mom on the phone today, and she said I should just go with the flow. Perhaps the universe was trying to tell me something? Was this meant to be an afternoon for me to chill? To tame some of my workaholic tendencies? Maybe. But, instead it just led to immense frustration. I have never been good about turning off my work ethic.

Seth played nicely and managed to cope without his after school television fix. I was glad to see that. There is a time when families years ago didn't have tv, and they survived. Families were happy, and children thrived.

Do we have too much technology these days? I don't know...but I do know that life seems more complicated....or perhaps involved.

Does it feel that way to you?

Labels: , , , ,

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Going Back to Work (1)

I'm going back to work within a month. It's been ten months. On the last day of work (early June 2007), I was four months pregnant. This April, I will be back at work, with a four-month-old baby. Moments during these blissful days of hanging out with my daughter, I am experiencing anxiety on several levels.

First of all, the babysitter search. So far, only family members took care of the baby, with me as the primary caregiver. I was rarely away from the baby, and during those times she was taken care of by her father or her grandparents. We are now looking for someone to care for our baby for eight hours a day, two days a week, while both parents are away from home.

We will interview candidates, observe how they are with the baby, check their references, try them out, and pay attention to our gut feeling. After going through a rational and reasonable selection process, I know that we will have done our best to ensure a good care for our baby. Surely, many parents develop great relationships with reliable and loving caregivers. Surely, some who are not happy with their babysitters/nannies reach an amicable resolution and move on without any deep psychological scars. It is quite unlikely that any of the nanny stories that make it to the headlines (some horrific, some juicy) will happen to us. We will be all right.

I know all this. Then why does my heart drop at the thought of handing her over and heading out the door for the day? What can I do to reach that calm, peaceful spot?