Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Abandonment -- by Cara

This is the second part of a two part series for this blog.


A feeling
A feeling of isolation within a relationship
An intense feeling of devastation when a relationship ends
An aloneness not by choice
A woman left by her husband of twenty years
A girl grieving over the death of her mother

Abandonment is all of this and more. It’s wound is at the heart of human experience.
(Excerpted from the book,” The Journey from Abandonment to Healing,” by Susan Anderson, C.S.W.)

The most important purpose for this blog concerns my son. For my husband and I to live under the same roof as “housemates” (AND my husband works from home!), moreover, for it not to be affecting our son in any noticeable way, is downright amazing. And I give my husband and I credit to limiting our disagreements for when our son is not at home. But more importantly, I saw last week how completely vital both my husband and I are to my son at this point in his life.

My husband travels frequently...usually twice a month, for about 3 days per trip. Last week my husband was gone from very early Wednesday morning (my son had just woken up...and he’s an early bird!) to very late on Sunday (almost when my son fell asleep). I could tell by Friday, my son was getting depressed and missing his father. To make matters worse, it had been raining, and predicted to rain the entire weekend. I get severe, chronic pain if we are going to get very bad weather. I was in so much pain, I wanted to gnaw on wood. I had to take my medication with codeine, which meant I wouldn’t be able to drive. I could barely remain awake. My son kept asking when Daddy would be home. I told him 2 more days. My “husband” and I set up Skype on both of our computers so that my son could see and speak to his father while my husband was away. We used Skype both Wednesday and Thursday with my son. My son was elated with this piece of technology! I was elated for my son. But on Friday, my husband was out to dinner with clients and couldn’t get to his hotel to Skype with my son. My son was terribly disappointed. I was too. And in atrocious pain. I slept with my little boy that night.

Knowing I was in so much pain, my Father-in-Law (bless his heart), called early Saturday and offered to take my son to his Karate class and then out to lunch and back to my In-laws house for part of the day. My son couldn’t stay cooped up in the house (especially an ADD child!) with a mother who could barely make meals. So I thanked my Father-in-Law profusely! My son didn’t want to go to Karate. He wanted to go on Skype to see Daddy. My husband was in Texas, and with the time zone change, I knew he wouldn’t appreciate me calling early, but I do what is in the best interest of my son now. I called my husband. I got voicemail and left a message. I texted my husband. No response. My husband used to leave me his flight and hotel itinerary whenever he went away. Forget that. He could be on the moon for all I knew. So I had to tell my son that Daddy was sleeping late and that we would try to “Skype” him later. My son reluctantly went out with my Father-in-Law.

I fell asleep from all of the codeine in my system but woke from a call from my Mother-in-Law, saying that my son was “irritable” and “whiny” and wanted to go home badly to “see” Daddy. I knew he wanted to try to “Skype” with my husband. So while my Father-in-Law was driving my son back home, I called my husband. He couldn’t Skype because he was on his way out to a conference. He couldn’t get calls during the conference, which would last at least 2 hours. My heart sunk for my little boy. I pleaded with my husband to try to at least find a few minutes to call and speak with my son because my son needed to hear his father’s voice. My husband said that he would “try” later.

My son came home and asked to “see” Daddy. I tried to explain that Daddy said he would call later. He wanted to know when Daddy would be coming home. I told him tomorrow. The two of us were a pair of zombies in front of the television. Me in terrible physical pain, my son in terrible emotional pain.

Later that night, after a full day of not hearing from my husband, and before he brushed his teeth, my son asked, “Mommy? Is Daddy dead?” My heart skipped a beat, but I calmly said, no, Daddy was just very busy on his trip. My son doesn’t really understand the concept of death. My father used to live with us before he died. Once my father DID die, we explained that Grandpa would always be with us in our hearts and our memories, but would not physically be coming back home. Five minutes after my son fell asleep, my husband texted me to see if he could speak to our son. I told him no. Our son had just fallen asleep. I slept with my son that night as well. I held his little hand in mine.

Finally it was Sunday. My husband called early because he had to catch an early flight back and he could tell through my numerous attempts, that my son wanted to speak with him. My son was so happy and excited! He wanted to Skype with his father, but my husband was already in a taxi on his way to the airport, so he couldn’t Skype. My husband promised that he would call my son before his plane took off.

When my son got off the phone, he eagerly wanted to know EXACTLY on the clock when Daddy would be home. He told us his plane was to arrive at approximately 3:00 pm. My son planted himself down and would not budge from the house. I was still having residual pain, so I couldn’t take my son anywhere. My Father-in-Law called. He wanted to spend some time with my son. My son adamantly declined; he was waiting for his Daddy to come home. He refused to leave the house.

The rain was pouring outside; thunder was heard periodically. We received a call from my husband…due to the thunderstorms in New York, his flight would be delayed for at least a few hours. My heart sunk for my son. I had to gather up the courage to tell him that Daddy would be delayed by a few hours. My son insisted on wanting to now EXACTLY when Daddy would arrive home. I said I wasn’t sure. But I reassured my son that Daddy WAS coming home.

My son was depressed the rest of the day. He did not want to do anything. He didn’t want to play a game, play some cards, put Legos together…all things that I honestly was in too much pain to want to do, but if it lifted my son’s spirits, I’d grit my teeth and act as happy as possible for the sake of my son.

Then I had an idea. We hadn’t heard from my husband in quite awhile so I said to my son, “If we call Daddy and get his voicemail immediately, that means that Daddy is on the plane, on his way home, because he has to shut off his cell phone while he is flying on the plane.” I dialed the number to my husband’s cell phone and placed it next to my son’s ear. The call went straight to voicemail. “Daddy is coming! Daddy is coming!” My son’s spirits lifted tremendously.

Once my husband’s plane landed, he called to let us know, and again, my son wanted to know EXACTLY when Daddy would be coming home. I assured him it would be very soon. It was close to my son’s bedtime, but I knew he would not fall asleep until Daddy was safe at home. In fact, my son called my husband three times while my husband was in the taxi on his way home to assure himself that Daddy would be home soon.

My husband finally arrived home. With a stuffed animal gift for my son. My son was so relieved; he hugged and kissed his father, gathered the new stuffed animal in his arms, and fell fast asleep, tightly hugging his new toy.

It was through this five-day ordeal that I realized two important things. First, pain or no pain…medical crises or not…I will ALWAYS find a way to care of and be there for my son. I was a single Mom for those few days. With pain so excruciating, I could hardly think straight. But when it came to my son, I met every one of his needs at home. I will always be able to take care of my son, medical conditions or not.

The second, and more important realization is that at this point in my son’s life, he needs BOTH of his parents. And he preferably needs them in the same home. We recently went to a parent/teacher/principal meeting and were told that my son is doing SO much better in school than from earlier in the year. If I were to have my husband removed from our home, the person I would be hurting the most would be my son. I couldn’t bear to do that to him. I am the one abandoned. My son does not need to be abandoned too. But this is not the first time for me. And through therapy, I can eventually put the pieces of my life and my heart back together. One tiny piece at a time.

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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Surprise Inside -- by Laura

Here are a few of things I try to avoid in life: motivational speakers, joining a group or a club, and the suburbs of a big city. I spent 15 years working for corporations that felt the need to ship me off to a convention every six months to inspire me with the latest corporate happiness guru on the circuit. After five or six of these conventions, the motivational speakers all sounded alike, they were rarely genuine, and to this day if I hear the I-saved-a-starfish story one more time I will run screaming from the auditorium. As for groups, the natural social dynamics often require too much energy for someone who has entrenched herself in life-long friendships with a handful of amazing women. When it comes to the suburbs, I grew up in one, and I couldn’t wait to get out.

So I surprised myself by getting on a train Thursday night and going to the suburbs of New York City to listen to a life coach with a group I had joined called Motherhood Later Than Sooner. It was a bit of an effort even getting there. Because I am new to the city, I caught the local train instead of the express, which would make me late, and I thought about getting off, heading to a quiet, dark little Manhattan bar and enjoying a martini all by myself. But I didn’t. I stayed on the train. I read the “New Yorker,” and I watched the city blocks go by and gradually fold into row after row of English Tudors, Dutch Colonials and eventually split-level ranch homes. The suburbs.

I am a judgmental person – especially when it comes to people. But please keep in mind this is not a bad thing. For me, meeting people is like going out for dim sum. The carts go by with varied offerings and pretty soon I start lumping the small bites in categories: steamed, fried, sweet, salty, bland, spicy. Organized judgment. But when I bite into a dumpling I have never tried before but deemed uninteresting, I am usually surprised by a new flavor or texture. And I feel delighted to be knocked of kilter. That’s how it is with people. I take a bite and I am pleasantly surprised by what I find. And that’s what happened Thursday night.

I sat down at the table with ten women who all had children later in life just like I did, but I prejudged them, thinking I would have little in common with them because they did not look like me, dress like me, or come from my part of the country. But by the end of the night they had me laughing and thinking, and I wanted to hear more of what they had to say about how they were coping with motherhood and how they were feeling about themselves and life in general. I liked them all – all different flavors coming together at the table.

And perhaps what surprised me the most was the life coach. She was one of us. She wasn’t phony, and she did not lecture. No starfish stories or tricky endings. She asked us questions about our life and listened in earnest, just like a best friend would. And she did not give advice, she made suggestions, just like a best friend would. And she offered provocative, original exercises that were meaningful to the woman around that table. The work we were doing wasn’t about her and how successful and smart she was. It was about us and getting us to think for a moment and be in that moment, which is something mothers rarely, rarely do. I rode the train back to Manhattan with her and another MLTS mom, and there was not a second of silence among us. We shared story after story on that empty train.

It was a great night. Unexpected. Full of laughter. And we all made new friends. And just for the record, the suburb had a beautiful downtown that was clean and welcoming – like something from a small town but with the progressive convenience of the city. I liked it. I liked the women. I liked the speaker. And I liked that I was wrong in my judgments. On all three counts.

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Monday, March 29, 2010

A Different Spin on Spring Break -- by Jamie

I have many wonderful memories of past Spring Breaks, ranging from a carefree trip I took to the Bahamas with my parents and my good friend at the end of high school, to an alcohol-infused vacation I had in Acapulco with a bunch of college pals, to my solo adventure in New Zealand on a singles tour while I was studying for a semester in Sydney, Australia. Good times. Really good times.

And now, for the first time in almost twenty years, I’m on Spring Break again: A ten-day hiatus from my classes at Queens College, where I’m working on my degree to become a Speech Language Pathologist. As I finished my final test last week, and completed an important Statistics lab assignment over the weekend, I felt a huge swell of relief…but it’s far from party-time for me.

My first day of “vacation” was spent working on a freelance project (which, thankfully I didn’t have to do at night, which is when I generally complete my paid work during the semester), doing several loads of laundry, and scrubbing the bathroom clean—before I raced out to pick up Jayda from daycare and headed to a play date. While chatting on the phone that night with a good friend, who asked me what I was going to do with my time off (alluding to lots of potential R&R for me, and perhaps some great social activities), I rattled off a list of things I needed to get done. Most importantly, I need to renegotiate a lease for my car (as it’s up in 6 weeks), and figure out health insurance plans for me and Jayda (since my Cobra expires at the end of May). Also on that list is figuring out my Fall class schedule (I have to register after Spring Break, and it’s crucial that I secure four important classes in order to apply to Grad school in the winter), reorganizing my parents’ garage (where I’ve stored boxes of things from my former apartment for the past three years, and have finally been asked to remove them), and running a myriad of long-overdue errands. In sum, this Spring Break will be a far cry from drinking Margaritas on the beach and hooking up with hot guys.

And yet it’s still a big relief. Ever since Jayda was born, my life has been non-stop; when new responsibilities unfold, I take them on, because there is no alternative. I’m a mom—and a pretty good one, I think—and it’s my job to do whatever I must to make a good life for myself and my daughter. At one time, that meant commuting to the city every day for work, and still managing to cook, clean, shop, and spend quality time with my daughter during the week. Now, it means taking on as much freelance work as I can, excelling in my college classes, and still accomplishing those aforementioned chores and taking care of my daughter (and enjoying her!) as well as I can. When more is required of me, I dig deeply and do more—because that’s what a single mother does. And I manage; I juggle, I organize, and I make it through every day just fine. But losing one layer of responsibility does make a difference: It’s like removing just a bit of pressure that’s been holding me down, and allowing myself to take an extra deep breath. And that much-needed breath is a very nice thing. It means I can go to the gym a few extra days this week, snuggle with my daughter a little bit longer on mornings when I’d normally fly out of bed to get ready for my long drive to school, and, mentally, have a bit more space in my brain to focus on what’s most important in my life: Jayda.

I won’t be completely carefree this week, and I certainly won’t be without responsibilities, but I can still enjoy my break. I can even make myself a mean Margarita. But as for the hot guy on the beach, he’ll have to wait. First, I have a second degree to earn, money to make, and an amazing little girl who needs my attention right now—and is much more worthy of my time.

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Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Best of Me -- by Liimu

Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night, or even in the wee hours of the early morning, filled with anxiety. It could be anxiety about a client I’m having a hard time managing. It could be anxiety about family dysfunction that turned up a series of nasty e-mails in my Inbox the night before. It could be anxiety about that extra slice of pizza I ate for last night’s dinner that will probably show up on the scale, yet again, or as a new pimple on my chin big enough for me to name. It’s stress, and on those days it’s getting the best of me.

It permeates my entire night and day, coloring my interactions with my family. If it’s work stress, I might check my BlackBerry while playing on the local playground with my children instead of being with them, pushing them on the swings or sliding down the slide, recapturing my own youth. If I’m stressed out about my eating, I might not be as affectionate with my husband, opting to leave the lights off this time rather than throw caution to the wind.

What I am coming to realize is that I don’t want stress to get the best of me. I don’t want work my clients, no matter how much they might pay me, to get the best of me. I don’t want food or dieting or an obsession with having the perfect body get the best of me in a world where the celebrities who define physical perfection pay tens of thousands of dollars to achieve it. What I am slowly realizing is that I want the best of me to be defined by me and reserved for me and those that I love. I want my husband to get the best of me, I want my children to get the best of me. I want to get the best of me.

What (or who) is getting the best of you today?

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Saturday, March 27, 2010

Robin's Show Recommendation -- FUNUNDRUM (Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus)

All Aboard For Fun! Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Barnum’s FUNundrum! First Circus Produced by Feld Sisters!

The Greatest Show On Earth just got Greater with Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey® Presents Barnum’s FUNundrum! Featuring 130 performers from six continents, almost 100,000 pounds of performing pachyderms, cowboys, pirates, and mermaids, Barnum’s FUNundrum! is a super-sized spectacle that my family and I very much enjoyed.

This show celebrates the 200th anniversary of the birth of the legendary P.T. Barnum, the Greatest Showman on Earth!

Ringmaster and New York City’s own Jonathan Lee Iverson, invites the audience to leap aboard the Ringling Bros. train and go on a family FUNtastic adventure to meet exotic characters and witness thrilling performances that attempt to answer Barnum’s FUNundrum, “What special wonders create The Greatest Show On Earth?”

See the Flying Caceres attempt to complete the elusive quadruple somersault on the flying trapeze; a feat that hasn’t been mastered in over three decades. Watch the Puyang troupe from China dazzle with a stunning display of dexterity as they bounce, flip, and twirl to new heights on a two-tiered trampoline. Be amazed as you witness the impossible contortions of the body benders who fit three humans in a cube the size of a milk crate. Enjoy the wondrous ability of the Mighty Meetal, the strongest man in the world, as he lifts over 1,200 pounds. And savor the stupendous skills of the hand balancers featuring Duo Fusion, a married pair of performers with a twist; the wife does the heavy lifting.

Arrive an hour before show time for the All Access Pre-show – FREE to all ticket holders - and meet performers and animals, learn circus skills and enjoy a taste of the performance before the show even starts!

Tickets are available at, all arena box offices, all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 800-745-3000 or

Upcoming Performance Schedule in NY:

MADISON SQUARE GARDEN: March 25-April 4, 2010

Saturday, March 27: 11:00 AM, 3:15 PM, 7:30 PM
Sunday, March 28: 11:00 AM, 3:15 PM, 7:30 PM
Monday, March 29: 11:00 AM, 3:15 PM, 7:30 PM
Tuesday, March 30: NO PERFORMANCES
Wednesday, March 31: 11:00 AM, 3:15 PM, 7:30 PM
Thursday, April 1: NO PERFORMANCES
Friday, April 2: 11:00 AM, 3:15 PM, 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 3: 11:00 AM, 3:15 PM, 7:30 PM
Sunday, April 4 11:00 AM, 3:15 PM, 7:30 PM


Feld Entertainment is the worldwide leader in producing and presenting live entertainment experiences that lift the human spirit and create indelible memories, with 30 million people in attendance at its shows each year. Feld Entertainment's productions have appeared in more than 65 countries on six continents and include Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey®, Feld Motor Sports, Disney On Ice, Disney Live!

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Holidays -- by Robin

Holidays are bittersweet (for me). They have been ever since the passing of my beloved mom 11 years ago.

I was in a writing class earlier this week at my local adult ed, and the instructor asked us to share on paper our feelings about Passover. I got a bit teary.

My mom used to make a mean matzoh stuffing, and I loved it. The aroma filled the house, and I looked forward to it annually.

My husband, Marc, wanted to do the holiday at our home, and I'm just not up for it. It's one more thing to do, and entertaining isn't high on my list. It never has been, but especially now. Life is full, and it's been achingly stressful of late.

In a perfect world, we'd be invited somewhere. Marc's senior mom isn't up for hosting at her apartment anymore. Marc's brother and sister-in-law have invited us in the past, but this year, it didn't arise. We don't know what they're doing. And, my sister didn't even know the date of the first sedar and never offers to do it at her NYC apartment. Celebrating holidays isn't important to them....except for Hanukkah. They have come to our home in the past and brought food, but it's still a lot of work just setting the table, cleaning, etc. and I don't get enjoyment from it. It feels like a task, and I don't need more on my to-do list.

So, I suggested to Marc that we eat at a local diner. He was disappointed but understood where I'm at. We invited his mother, my father, my sister and her family, and they're all coming. We presumed his brother has plans, which is likely the case. We also invited friends, but they were busy.

When I read my Passover story to my writing class, I could tell some were a bit stunned that we'd be going to a diner. Most talked about the cooking they were doing and who they invited to their homes.

Home it's not, I recognize. But, we'll be together. It's a new kind of tradition. My son will know it's Passover and that it's a time people get together. We'll eat matzoh. Order matzoh ball soup. Hide the Afikomen back at home, and my son will get the reward money. He'll be happy.

As the saying goes, "home is where the heart is"...and that works for me, at least for this year's Passover. There's always room in the future to establish new traditions.

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

Time -- by Gina

This week my father-in-law was in the emergency room for severe stomach pain. He is better, thankfully, but it has been a crazy week for me since my husband has been working long shifts, and I was the only one available to deal with “Grampa”: visiting, picking up stuff from his apartment, picking him up upon being discharged, then driving him around town for his various errands. It was an unseasonably warm and sunny weekend and not what I really wanted to be doing, but of course I had no choice.

Then there were all of the other “things to do” for the week: creating and mailing out my daughter’s birthday party invitations, shuttling her around to school and activities, celebrating my husband’s birthday, two work events, late meetings, working full-time, and all of the other usual stuff (laundry, dishes, etc.) Not to mention two separate emergency deliveries to my niece (backpack forgotten in my car) and nephew (change of clothing after a classmate spilled chocolate milk all over him.)

Yet, when a good friend who is going through some tough times asked me why I hadn’t called her in a while, I couldn’t come up with a good excuse. “I’ve been so busy” sounds like such a cop-out…I mean, everyone is busy, right? But when I actually sat down and thought about why I hadn’t called, I realized it wasn’t just that I didn’t have time, I never seemed to have the RIGHT time. By that I mean, I never seem to have “phone time”, that precious luxury that I am only now realizing existed only in my pre-mommy world. I have always had very busy jobs, so I always (and still do) had to rush my friends off the phone with a “Can I call ya later, work is crazy? Thanks!” I’d wait until after dinner when I could sprawl out on my couch and really catch up…laughing and having lots of good girl talk. Now, as the mother of a 3 ½ year old, those opportunities never seem to come anymore. I still entertain the thought that I will be able to find time for a good chat after Gianna’s asleep, but since she has trouble falling asleep and staying in her own bed, that phone time never seems to come for me. I spend the night going up and down the stairs to her room, as she calls me to come stay with her because she is afraid, or because she “has too much energy.” Then when I think she is finally asleep, I am exhausted from working all day and parenting all evening. Also, once the house is quiet, I feel obligated to speak low so as not to wake my daughter. This is also the time I do a load of laundry, straighten up the house and get ready for the next day.

The only phone calls I seem to get a chance to make on weeknights is to return calls, mostly to my family and my in-laws, arranging visits, exchanging babysitting duties, and checking in on how everyone is feeling.

I made amends with my friend – I devoted a very long phone call to her which thank goodness Gianna cooperated with by going to bed on time. I assured her that although I don’t have the kind of time I used to have, I am still here for her no matter what and will find a way to make time to talk more often (haven’t figured that part out yet…) She doesn’t have children yet but I think she understands - I hope so. When we moms say we don’t have time for something, it isn’t an excuse… it is our reality – that our time is just not our own anymore no matter how many more hours we could use in the day. We can carve out time here and there once our kids are old enough for babysitters but in the meantime, it is a big adjustment and a real balancing act to find time to do the things WE want to do. I have heard it gets easier as our kids get older, but for now, I can only hope that friends understand, just as I am understanding when plans get canceled or my calls go unanswered. I think that is part of being a good friend – being flexible and forgiving – none of us are perfect and we are all doing our best to get as much as we can done in one day. These are the times I wish I could work only part-time, but for now I have to find a way to make it all work.

I have another good friend who had her three children in her early twenties. When I don’t have time for the long gab fests, she understands and lets me slide. I was able to see her for a brief visit recently and it was like no time had passed. Those are the moments you realize that true friendship endures through all the highs and lows of raising children, trying to have a career, and not having enough time for either. We sat in her mom’s kitchen, talking and laughing like we did when we were 17. In those moments, time – be it how much has passed, or how much more of it we wish we had – just doesn’t matter so much…well, at least for a moment, anyway.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Honesty - Part I -- by Cara

The past few weeks Motherhood Later has brought on board several new bloggers along with their stories and former struggles. Two bloggers, Liimu and Laura have stories of their lives which have been resonating with me. A lot. Almost constantly. Liimu and Laura are two, what appear to be, very strong but resilient individuals. I read the openers for each of their first blogs and then read the blogs themselves. I was floored as to how these two women have turned their lives around and aspired to get out of life what they really wanted. They inspire me. Which is the crux of my blog today.

My life has not been an easy one either. Nothing close to what others have had to endure, but stressful enough. My mother died when I was a teenager. My father was an “older” father with many heart problems (he would have been 92 this past Monday. He died 3 years ago). And I had to care for him for probably a full decade. My son was born with Gastric Reflux induced colic, which lasted for months on end. Then we found out he had Sensory Processing Disorder. Later, Auditory Processing Disorder and ADD, both, which impact his learning ability in school. But as anyone who treats or knows an ADD/ADHD person, they will tell you that they are extremely bright and creative individuals! So although my son has difficulty reading and writing and is getting extra services in school to help him, he could also chew your ear off about molecules and dinosaurs and the fact that it is now Fall on the other side of the world (he is 6). I often kid that I can almost see him as a doctor because he is incredible in math and science but has the handwriting of a doctor! But I digress.

I simply won’t bore you with the number of medical problems I have. One of which I am dealing with the physical affects of as I write. And the numbers of prescription pills I take are probably as many or more than my father was taking at age 89. I chalk up all of these medical conditions to stress that has built up over my very stressful lifetime. However, I am currently living the most stressful event of my life. Something that I NEVER expected. Something that if you told me a year ago would happen, I would have laughed hysterically and said, “Nonsense!” Something I now grieve every day...the “loss” of my marriage.

My husband (I’m not sure how else to refer to him) and I have known each other for over 20 years. We will have been “married” for 15 years as of this May. Beginning last summer, at the same time as we discovered my son’s learning issues, and I was battling a yet undiagnosed medical problem, my husband’s personality did a 180 degree flip. He changed so drastically; I almost couldn’t discern who this person was whom I was living with. This went on until this past January when my husband wanted to “separate.” I was beyond devastated. My life came crashing down on me. My one stable part of my foundation...was ripped right from under me. When I asked why, he said he didn’t know. When I suggested marriage counseling, some 2 dozen times, he adamantly refused to go. We each sought legal counsel. Both of our lawyers said that if either of us ever wants full custody of our son, we MUST remain living in our present home. It is practically assumed that I would get custody of our son, so I cannot leave our house. My deluded husband has his own mistaken idea that HE would get custody of our son, based on my many medical conditions. Therefore, HE refuses to move out. I sleep in one bedroom, he sleeps in another and we go about our days as “housemates.”

The most important issue in all of this is our son. I guess because of his ADD or other issues, as long as both of his parents are in his home, together, his world is complete. His behavior both in and out of school has not changed one iota. His performance in school has actually improved. He is happy and playful and enjoying life, which I am tremendously thankful for. I grieve and suffer alone at other times. And have an incredible support system of friends. My world of feeling safe and secure is no longer. But I need for my son to feel safe and secure. So I weep in silence. And hope and pray that I can provide this feeling of safety and security for him.

One of the reasons I needed to disclose all of this is that I felt I was living a lie writing about my son but leaving out the “dirty laundry.” My life has piles of dirty laundry right now, and I can no longer step around them. I have to step into them. Thus my need to be honest with myself and with my readers. I could certainly sidestep the issue of the dissolution of my marriage, but it is that very same part that I need my readers to be aware of to get the full picture of what I am facing.

Right now I feel like a single Mom. My best friend is a single Mom by choice...she adopted a little boy who is ironically only 3 months younger than my son. And I ask her constantly, “How do you do it? You work full-time, have a part-time job, a son, a dog, and a house to maintain! How the heck do you do it?” She always replies, “You just do. It’s hard. But you just do what you have to do, sometimes day by day.”

So I guess that is what I intend to do. Take care of life one day at a time. The best I can. With all of the resilience and strength I can muster. And grieve on those days that I cannot.

This is Part I of a two-part blog. Part II will be featured next week as I try to “go it alone” with my child.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Favorite Child -- by Laura

When you have twins, people like to jokingly ask which one is your favorite. You can’t answer them honestly or they would look at you like you’re a cruel, callous mother. Because truth be told: you do have a favorite. You can’t help it. It’s biology at work, and it’s called social smiling, although sometimes I refer to it as passive infant manipulation. The social smile is designed to engage and elicit a positive response from the adult, which thereby creates a bond between parent and child. The parent then feels obligated to take care of the baby in order to ensure a regular source of warm fuzzies.

When my son Lyle was two months old, he began social smiling. He would spread his mouth across his face in a drunken, toothless grin when he saw me, and I would respond in kind. When I came in the room he cooed and beckoned me to him with that smile, and I fell all over myself trying to get to him like a 14-year old girl in love. Wyatt, however, wasn’t ready for the smiling and the engagement. He was born a pound smaller than his brother, and he spent his energy catching up.

My husband got angry with me because at that time I favored Lyle. I couldn’t help it. Mother and son were going through some biological and physiological changes that caused us to bond, thus ensuring Lyle’s survival. I was unsuccessful at getting my husband to understand that Wyatt as not neglected by any means. I still sang to him and fed him and cuddled with him just as much as I did Lyle. I also know that as soon as Wyatt started smiling and engaging I would form the same kind of bond with him, and the one who would get the short end of the stick would be me, because I would be frazzled from giving two babies so much love.

By three months Wyatt began social smiling, and he was better at it than his brother. He beams. Radiates. When Wyatt smiles he does it with his whole head. And he has a really big head. His head is so large I have to cut slits in his onesies to get them over that giant noggin. Wyatt’s grins are so enthusiastic that they often knock his cranium of kilter and he falls right over. And when he does this, he’s my favorite.

Lyle is the leader of their gang of two. He crawls around the house emitting shocks of laughter as he delights in his movement and his autonomy. He is the first to do everything while Wyatt watches with his mouth open and an expression on his face that says: Um! I’m telling! When Lyle doesn’t feel well, he comes to me and hugs my leg or my arm and holds on tight until I gather him in my arms and put him to sleep. Once when the entire family was sick with stomach flu, we all slept on towels and blankets in the living room. Lyle woke up and crawled around hugging us all and nuzzling his head into ours. He’s that kind of baby. Compassionate. Awake. Sensitive. The smile on his face was shy and gentle. And on that day, he was my favorite.

However, Lyle is also very demanding. He wants my attention all the time, and it is beyond exhausting. It becomes a fight to make sure Wyatt gets his needs met. One day when Lyle found new ways to request my time by throwing up, exploding in his diaper, and coloring his mouth with a pen, I was running back and forth with him from the kitchen to the bedroom to the bathroom, and I realized I had not checked in with Wyatt for almost an hour. I had left him playing in the middle of the living room floor with his soda bottle filled with pennies and his magnet dolls. I rushed by with a naked Lyle in my arms, and I paused in the doorway. Wyatt looked up from chewing on a doll, smiled his enormous smile, and fell right over. And at that instant, he was my favorite.

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Monday, March 22, 2010

It Must Be Spring -- by Jamie

This past week, the temperature rose…not just outside, but figuratively, too. Suddenly, men from my past were popping up everywhere. A guy I know from High School who lives out of town, but has shown interest in me over the years, texted me that he’d be in New York the next day, and wanted to get together. The very same day, a man I went on a handful of dates with about four years ago, but who seems to “check in” with me every year (only to disappear again shortly thereafter), sent me an email asking how Jayda and I were doing. A few days before that, an ex of mine whom I flirt with now and then—but hadn’t heard from in awhile—sent me a flurry of texts telling me I was on his mind. None of these encounters meant much to me—other than giving me a brief ego boost and a few days of fun flirting. But I found the timing interesting. It was clearly spring…and everyone was feeling freer—and flirtier—than they had during the cold, dark winter.

The same held true at the playground. Jayda and I returned to one of our favorite parks this week for the first time in many months, and bumped into a little boy whom Jayda had played with a lot last year. Suddenly, Jayda was following the boy around like his shadow—literally chasing him—while he showed off for her by climbing the jungle gym expertly and performing silly swinging antics. I realized instantly that they were “flirting” in a simplistic, child-like way: smiling happily at each other, holding each other’s hands as they ran around, and, like a true flirt, Jayda seemed to find everything the boy said or did simply hilarious. At one point, Jayda tumbled off of the swing she’d been riding on with her belly, and burst into tears. Instantly, the boy ran over to her, pulled a “fish” he’d created at school out of construction paper and crayons out of his backpack, and presented it to Jayda to soothe her. She accepted it happily, and her waterworks stopped soon after that. She also accepted a packet of cookies which he offered to her—and even gave him a shy hug in return. Yes, spring was in the air…and as young as these three-year-olds are, it amazed me how they instinctively seemed to know how to “do the mating dance.”

Jayda’s certainly too young for a boyfriend, and right now, I personally don’t have the time to pursue one, myself. But, as I’ve stated before, we both sure do like guys. They’re nice to get attention from—and they’re lots of fun to flirt with—and now that spring is in the air, we’re both looking forward to enjoying the weather—and the good times it promises to bring with it.

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Sunday, March 21, 2010

Why I Run -- by Liimu

I have been obsessed with dieting and changing my body for as long as I can remember. My mom was a dieter my whole life, even my 94 year old grandmother confessed to me while in the nursing home that she still replaced two of her daily meals with SlimFast and weighed herself daily.

When I had my children (all girls), I realized that I was going to have do something to counteract this way of thinking so that I wouldn’t pass on this lack of self-acceptance on to them. Every year since I turned 30, I had run the Susan Komen Race for the Cure, a 5K run that benefits research for a cure for breast cancer, a disease from which my mother has been surviving for nearly 30 years.

About a year after my second daughter’s first birthday, I decided that a better motivation for going to the gym than to lose weight would be to train for a longer race. I set a goal of running a 10K by the end of that year. That April, I ran the 10K and I met a woman named Amy who would change my life. Amy and I began to get to know each other as we ran that 6 miles, and what we learned was that we both thought of ourselves as the last to get picked for the teams in gym class, and yet here we both were, completing an athletic event that not many people we knew had ever accomplished. That fueled our fire and we were off. That year alone, Amy and I ran the 10-mile Broad Street run, the Philadelphia Distance Run (a half-marathon) and the Philadelphia Marathon. During our training, I started a new job, and Amy moved away to attend law school. We didn’t talk on the phone or via e-mail, we saved our best stories for when she would come back to Philly for us to complete our long training runs together or complete the races we had promised each other early on we’d support each other in finishing. When we ran Broad Street and I got a side stitch a half-mile into the run, Amy hissed, “Keep going…no one ever died from a cramp,” later confessing that she’d had no idea at the time she said this if it was actually true. When I was injured in August, Amy encouraged me to take the time I needed to heal, adding only half-jokingly that she couldn’t afford for me to start back too soon and injure myself so bad that I wouldn’t’ be ready to run the marathon with her in November. She was counting on me. And I was counting on her.

Amy and I are still friends, and she married the guy she started dating during that training season. We got to know a lot about each other during that period, but what I didn’t anticipate was what I would learn about myself. When I ran across the marathon finish line, I was no longer just a girl, no longer even just a mom, I was an athlete. I had crossed another line, the line that separated the runners from the non-runners. Without intending to, I had found a way to break the cycle of self-loathing and insecurity that had plagued the women (and some of the men) in my family for generations. I now look at my body for what it can do, rather than what it looks like (most of the time…all bets are off when my hormones are in the driver’s seat). And this Mother’s Day, the gift I look most forward to receiving will be having two new running partners as I cross that familiar finish line of the Susan Komen race, for my two daughters, Devon and Amelia, will be running it with me.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

Robin's Show Recommendation -- LOOPED


Directed by Rob Ruggiero, and playing at the Lyceum Theatre in NYC, from the moment Valerie Harper hits the stage, you know she is a theatre force to be reckoned with. She not only delivers a knockout performance, but I found myself recalling how much I used to love watching her on television on Rhoda and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She was a treat then....and is a treat now....especially seeing her live, up close 'n personal. She is captivating, funny, riveting and every bit a star.

LOOPED tells the story of Tallulah Bankhead, the internationally celebrated actress, being called into a sound studio in 1965 to re-record (or "loop") one line of dialogue for what would be her last film -- the dreadful “Die, Die My Darling.” Southern, but by no means a belle, Ms. Bankhead was known for her wild partying and convention-defying exploits that surpassed even today's celebrity bad girls. Given her inebriated state and inability to loop the line properly, what ensues is an uproarious showdown between an uptight film editor and the outrageous legend.

Brian Hutchison and Michael Mulheren complete the company, and both complement Ms. Harper well.

The creative team for LOOPED includes set designer Adrian W. Jones, costume designer William Ivey Long, wig designer Charles LaPointe, lighting designer Ken Billington and sound designers Michael Hooker & Peter Fitzgerald.

LOOPED is presented on Broadway by Tony Cacciotti, Chase Mishkin, Bard Theatricals, Lauren Class Schneider, Lawrence S. Toppall and Leonard Soloway, in association with Barbara Freitag and David Mirvish.

The show plays Tue at 7, Wed-Fri at 8, Wed at 2, Sat at 2 & 8, and Sun at 3 PM. Tickets are available through, or by calling 212-239-6200.


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Friday, March 19, 2010

Solo Travel -- by Robin

Spring break is fast approaching, and for the first time, I've decided to travel with Seth solo. Marc (my husband) can't get away. He's coming down the home stretch with tax season. But, I need a change of pace. I need it bad.

In a perfect world, this trip would prove both relaxing and fun. I crave both. I remain hopeful but guarded.

It's already been stressful. And, we're just at the planning stage.

Since my senior dad has been in and out of the hospital in the last few weeks (thankfully he's now home and slowly healing), I put off booking the air. And, as you might expect, the fares went up. So quickly, I was stunned. I was on the phone with Expedia one night to ask a question, and during the phone call, the fare jumped $75 dollars, and I hadn't locked it in. I quickly became potty-mouthed mommy (Seth wasn't in the room), and raced onto and snagged the fare at the rate I had planned to pay. It's a direct roundtrip flight (the only one).

Then, I decided to try to apply rewards points from both my Marriott card and Capital One. While it ultimately worked out, it required a rather complex conference call with all parties involved to make it happen. patience and persistence is already being tested.

When I decided I'd like to get away, I thought the ideal plan would be to visit a child-friendly friend. Since we're not traveling as a family or with a family, I'd appreciate the company of another adult. Not only would it help me with Seth but I'd get to enjoy some much needed gal time. Though it won't be just me and my girlfriend, if we're hanging out with Seth at the local children's museum, he can run around and do his thing while we can catch up.

So, we are going to Asheville, NC. I was there years ago with Marc when we went furniture hunting in North Carolina, but we breezed through Asheville. I am looking forward to returning and visiting some neighboring towns as well. My friend who moved there from NY is a fairly new grandma and former school teacher...a great combo. And, she lives a life of spirituality, which I also admire. I'm grateful for the face time we'll have.

I've been on the web researching family outings as well as shopping. Gallery hopping for me, and mining for Seth. Digging my hands into mounds of dirt with the hope of discovering a gem or two doesn't get my heart pumping, but hmmm....are diamonds potentially part of the find? That would be sweet.

Oherwise...we'll wing it.

I'm already making myself a list of toys/gadgets to bring to occupy Seth. I must be sure to pack all the right chargers. Wouldn't want his iPod, DVD player or Game Boy to run out of juice. It's only a two hour flight, but since we're not staying in a suite in the hotel, Seth and I will be co-habitating closely for five nights. We'll each have our own Queen bed, but there won't be any separate space for him to play or to watch his own tv while mommy endeavors to sleep in a bit. Does his DVD player come with headphones? I MUST explore that right away! If I'm forced to wake up 7AM daily on vacation, as Seth does, I will not be a happy camper. I'll need a vacation from the vacation when we get home, and that defeats the purpose. But, isn't that often the case with kids?!

Vacations aren't always what we expect them to be, but I do look forward to some mother-son bonding time. He'll miss his dad, and his toys, etc. I'll miss Marc. But, a little break can be good for everyone.

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Perspective -- by Gina

Today is a gorgeous day; blue skies, sunny, 61 degrees – quite a welcome departure from the snow and storms we’ve had so recently. You wouldn’t think that just this past weekend was a storm that took down power lines and trees every few blocks in the northeast. I can even hear the sound of spring - kids happily playing outside after a long winter indoors.

But despite the bright weather, today is also a dark day. Today I heard the news that a friend’s child is losing his battle with cancer.

My eyes teared up as chills ran down my spine. I wondered how the parents are going to get through it, and how frightened and utterly devastated they all must be. I said a silent prayer for them. But what can you really say or do at a time like this – when someone’s world is crashing down around them, when their heart is surely breaking into a million pieces?

For me, this is one of those moments that “puts it all in perspective”… in a big way.

I’d been having a rough week with my daughter, Gianna. Between racing around to get to my full time job on time, nursing her through her most recent cold, chasing her around the house with Tylenol and nose spray, dealing with her tantrums and the worst part, hardly getting any sleep all week. She has been scared of sleeping alone in her room, and has been finding her way out of bed and downstairs asking for.. well.. you name it -another cup of water, some company, the option to sleep with me and my husband in our bed. This week, my patience has been worn thin and my energy even thinner. While I was at work one day, Gianna discovered my permanent markers and decided to decorate her arms, hands and knees with them. A trying week, that is, until you are reminded of what a trying week truly is... and someone helps you to put your own trivial complaints into perspective.

So tonight I will give my daughter a big hug, and probably kiss her so much she wipes her face, sneering, “Ugh! I don’t like kisses!”

Today, my heart goes out to all the parents out there facing the truly unfaceable. It is not until I became a mom that I understood what my sister, herself a mother, meant when she told me, “Congratulations. Now your heart exists outside your body.” I have never felt such incredible emotions in my life until having a child… the highs and lows of pure love, true joy, fierce strength, and utter sorrow. Your heart is literally out of your control. No wonder we parents are always exhausted. It is not just the physical and the day-to-day errands, school, etc. – I’m convinced it is the emotional exhaustion that wears us out. Loving someone so totally and completely with all your heart is a risky business, despite all we get in return.

“Later moms” face the unique challenge of dealing with the fear that we may not be around for our kids due to our advanced age, and hand in hand with that fear comes regret for not having become parents earlier in our lives. Again, for me, hearing today’s sad news puts the “later mom remorse” smack into its rightful place. The back of my mind, way far back so I can focus on the important stuff: loving and caring for my child today, not worrying so much about what in our lives is “not right”, living in the present, and being incredibly grateful for the messy playroom, the runny nose I’ve wiped what seems like fifty times today, and yes, even the misdirected permanent marker.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Motherhood -- by Cara

I just finished watching a DVD called, “Motherhood.” When the movie came to the theatres not too long ago, I heard that the reviews were not great. But I still wanted to see it, so I waited and rented it instead.

The reviewers were right; it was, overall, not such a great movie. But for Moms, there were a lot of underlying issues that the movie brought out that I felt were great for discussion.

The first and probably universal one was time. Time for oneself. Time to do everything on your “To Do” list. Time spent with family. Time you give to your children. There is just never enough “time” to go around to get anything done completely. And the movie draws this out nicely but almost too accurately. The Mom (Uma Thurman) has her list. And it is the day before her daughter turns 6 years old. And throughout the movie, this Mom is trying to “beat the clock” getting everything ready for her daughter’s birthday party that evening. I could almost see it as an average day in my life, with the exception that this movie took place in what appeared to be New York City, while I live in the suburbs outside of New York City. Yet, as a book I am reading, called “The Mask of Motherhood,” by Susan Maushart states, “When we consider the alternatives to the juggled life, the picture is equally, albeit differently, depressing. There is no doubt that to ‘Do it all’ leaves women breathless and resentful.” I like that description. I don’t know how many times I’ve said to friends, “I feel claustrophobic,” with regard to my overwhelming list of other’s needs, coupled with other various, “things to do.” Friends have commented that they can’t believe all of the errands I can get done within a six hour time period. My record was 10 different stores in areas as far as 15 miles away in less than 6 hours! Give me a Starbucks Latte, and I can literally race through my day! But still and all, I may win the race, but the resentment is still there. One way to get around this issue of “time” is also reflected in the movie.

It seemed, in “Motherhood”, that each parent voluntarily took one of their children (there were two children in this movie) as a way to “share the burden,” so to speak. I am finding that a lot among the families I know. Even in our own home, our son seems to get passed from my husband to me or me to my husband so that we both can have a little “down time.” Personally, I don’t know that this is a particularly good idea because the family almost becomes fragmented. I see it in our own home. We actually have to schedule events for all three of us to go to. Otherwise, I am the sit on the floor, play a game, or do a craft type of parent. My husband is the rock climbing, swimming, hiking Dad who takes our son on more physical outings. I see and hear of many parents dividing their parental duties this way. In some ways, it gives each parent a little breather. On the other hand, the family becomes too distant. I guess only time will tell what works best for each family. Susan Maushart, in her book brings out, “There is no doubt that the exclusive-care mother has a more intense relationship with her children. It is also worth bearing in mind that both the concept and the practice of exclusive-care motherhood are historical and cultural anomalies.” Throughout history, mothers have always had some form of “help” when it came to raising her children. Grandparents sometimes lived in the same home or very close by. Aunts and Uncles would drop by and lend a hand. And mothers who lived near to one another would congregate in one or another’s home and provided much needed support, as well as a place for their young children to play. “It takes a village,” to raise a child. And if the “village” is barren, sometimes it takes a spouse or even a friend.

Finally, a very noticeable thing was that Moms were portrayed as looking only half put together, frazzled, day-old, dirty messes. I must confess, in the early days of motherhood, that was me to a “T.” But this Mom had a Kindergartener and a 3 or 4 year old. A neighbor commented that Uma’s character was still wearing her pajamas as she walked her daughter to school. She changed outfits when she returned home, but decided to forgo a shower to work on a freelance writing assignment. So many Moms seem to be running out the door in their pajamas (yes, I am guilty) to take their child to school or to get a quick errand done. But I TRY to look at least HALF respectable. Yes, there are the Moms who have hired help to maintain some semblance of orderliness in their homes. And they are the Moms who can actually take a shower, blow dry their hair (do I even OWN a blow dryer? I think I do...somewhere...), and coordinate their outfit for the day all the way down to matching pocketbooks. In this movie, and in my world, that just doesn’t happen. I can manage a shower and throw on some minimal makeup. But I seem to grab the same (clean) clothes week after week because they are readily available and they are comfortable. I actually have to search for a presentable outfit to have a parent/teacher conference in!

I think the take-away from all of this is that the average Mom (working full-time, part-time, or not) doesn’t have the same life she had before kids. There was a scene in the movie where a young, good-looking messenger carrier, helped Uma Thurman’s character by schlepping her numerous bags of items she purchased for her daughter’s party, up three flights of stairs. She asked him in to her apartment to get some water for him to drink. Although absolutely nothing at all sexual happened between them, you could feel their sexual tension. And you could imagine where this would have led had Uma’s character not been a wife and a Mom. And to recapture a little bit of her former self, she put on some 90s music and danced. And the messenger carrier danced. And Uma’s character looked wild and free and unburdened by her present life! And you could tell that not only did she miss that feeling, she recognized that it was now lost. And she abruptly shut off the music and shook the hand of the messenger and bid him farewell.

There are moments in all of our lives when we say to ourselves, what happened here? What happened to ME? The fun-loving, crazy, independent me? She grew up, matured, maybe married, had children and life became a whole different experience for her. Late nights out are now replaced with television or a good book before collapsing from exhaustion. Fun loving is now replaced by how many times you watch your child go down the slide (or you go with them upon their insistence) and find your body was no longer made to go down the twisty slide! And independence has been replaced with total dependence concerning every possible thing you could imagine pertaining to your child. Again, as Maushart explains, “It’s as if we were uncomfortable with the whole notion of choice—as if the exercise of free will were a form of conspicuous consumption too embarrassing to reveal publicly. Maybe we feel deep down that real choice remains a luxury to which, by virtue of being female, we have no natural entitlement.” Very possible.

But then, when you are on your bed, frantically responding to too many overdue e-mails, your child comes in with an armful of stuffed animals, a couple almost half his size. And he throws each of them onto your bed and climbs up to snuggle right up next to you with each of the various stuffed animals. And you quietly close your laptop, put it down, and look into your child’s eyes as he tells you stories about each of his stuffed animals. It’s at that point when you remember what happened to “you.” She became a Mom. And she wouldn’t change that moment or her life back for anything. She is embracing what she now calls Motherhood!

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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Age of Motherhood -- by Laura

Last week I turned 45. I have never shied away from stating how I old I am, but on my birthday something happened that made me lie for the first time. I was in Central Park with my 10-month old twins taking a break from my jog when a woman in her 60s approached and ogled the boys as they slept in the stroller.
“Isn’t being a grandmother the best?” she asked.
“I’m actually their mother,” I said. “Not their grandmother.”
She was embarrassed and apologized, but I stopped her and explained it was OK. I have a crown of silver hair; I was disheveled from exercising. It was a natural mistake.
“Well, women are having babies at older ages these days,” she said.
We chatted briefly then she asked the question I knew she would: “So exactly how old are you?”
Before I could think I told her I was 40. Only 40.
On the way home I stopped at the drug store to look at hair color, and when I got to the apartment I went online and ordered $200 worth of skin care products. I also got down on the alphabet mat in the playroom and did 100 sit-ups and then 100 bicycle kicks, which left me barely able to move the next day.
I am embarrassed at being an older mom at times. I feel out of place with orthopedic inserts in my shoes, gray hair, glasses, and a heavier, slower body as I push a twin stroller down the sidewalk among the 20-year old nannies and the fit, fashionable, younger Manhattan mothers. And I am embarrassed that I am embarrassed by it. At my age I should know better. There are so many pluses to being an older mom – far more pluses than minuses.
But the real reason for the discomfort with my age is not just my crepe paper eyelids or the cricks in my back and ankles. It’s the time. If what I said were true, if I were only 40, I would have five more years – five more years of time at my disposal with my sons and husband. My lie wasn’t just a lie. It was a wish. A sincere wish.
While I write this, my father is struggling with declining health. As an older parent himself, he made a conscientious effort to be a fit man. My father learned to rock climb when he was 40. He hiked all over the Rocky Mountains with his children. He played tennis four or five times a week. But in spite of his excellent health and diet, he didn’t get a choice whether or not he got Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. For several years now, he is not able to participate in his own life, much less mine, and he has never met my boys. Yet if he did meet them, he wouldn’t know them because in spite of his best efforts to stick around and be there for his grandchildren, a horrible disease is scrambling his brain.
Even more sorrowful to me is that my sons won’t get to know the kind, quiet man who taught me the secrets of happiness: dogs, books, tomatoes, and camping. Lyle and Wyatt won’t have the chance to try to keep up with his long stride as he winds his way over the trails to the top of a mountain to watch the sunrise. They won’t hear his steady voice singing a cowboy song as he strums his guitar.
Some of my life’s greatest moments have been spending time with my father as an adult – two grownups together with a shared history and a deep understanding. I love that my father stuck around long enough see who I turned out to be, and he genuinely admires who he sees when he looks at me. I want to look at my children like that through the hallmarks of their lives. But when they are entering adulthood, which I believe is the best part of life, I will be coming to the sunset of mine. Thanks to my advanced maternal age, I may not get to meet the life partners they choose. If they wait as I did, I may not get to meet their children. I may very well miss seeing them achieve the things in life that can make them happy, whole, fulfilled human beings.
The next time someone asks me if I am the boy’s grandmother, I will try to be more grounded. I will tell myself I can live with the liver spots, the lines around my mouth, and the impending bifocals. But what will send me spinning is the thought of missing out on a minute of my boys’ lives. By waiting these extra years to have children, I am afraid I am going to have to lose a few years on the other end. And that kills me. Because this thing called motherhood is a wellspring of happiness, wisdom, pain, ache, joy and longing, and as Lyle and Wyatt grow through life, I don’t want to miss a thing. Not a single, tiny moment lost. The bitter. And the sweet.

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Work/Life Balance...Huh? by Jamie

I came home from a much-feared Statistics test the other day, and breathed a sigh of relief. I thought I’d done pretty well on the test—and now I had about two hours to myself. My dad was picking Jayda up from daycare and taking her to the library for awhile so I could have some down-time. And what did I do? I raced around the house, stripping my bed and washing my sheets, wiping down my ridiculously dusty bedroom furniture, and then donned rubber gloves and attacked the downstairs bathroom. The following afternoon, when I finished writing a paper ahead of schedule and found myself with several “extra” hours, I manically scrubbed all of Jayda’s mildewy bath toys with giddy satisfaction, sorted through all of her summer clothes, and cleaned out my sock drawer. Literally. Spare time well spent.

A friend of mine recently posted a query on Facebook about work/life balance:”Who keeps perpetuating this myth that people can have a work/life balance? It's not working for me.” And a clever male friend remarked “single people... the rest of us are just making it up as we go…” I couldn’t have said it better myself. I may not be commuting to a full-time job anymore, but between freelancing and school (and stressing like crazy about both), it’s impossible for this single mom to get everything done…let alone actually relax. Factor a Type-A personality like myself into the mix, and it’s almost laughable. For instance, my mother has been offering me a “free” massage (she bought a package from a local masseuse and has one to spare) for months, but I haven’t had the time to take her up on her offer. Oy.

Lest I seem too pathetic, I do make time to go out for drinks with friends every few weeks, or out on an occasional date, but more often, I’m spending my evenings doing work, studying, or desperately trying to catch up on my sleep. And last week, when my plans to go out for drinks with a girlfriend fell through, instead of kicking back with a glass of wine by myself in front of the television—as a person with a “good work/life balance” might have—I cracked open a Diet Pepsi and a textbook, instead, and did some studying. I couldn’t miss the opportunity (or the opportunity to do a load of laundry, too, as there’s always laundry to do!).

I always pay my bills on time, but my filing system sucks—and I rarely balance my checkbook. Mind you, I never bounce checks—but I can’t take the time to nitpick over every number like I probably should. I never leave dirty dishes in the sink, but I also drink out of soda cans and eat out of take-out containers to lessen the amount of cleaning I’ll need to do. And cook? That rarely happens. I do sort through Jayda’s clothing seasonally because that girl is growing like a weed—but I’m guilty of never going through my own closets; I have clothes in there from pre-Jayda years, that I just don’t have the time to go through (or the energy to throw out). I hear about kids who get baths every night and I don’t understand how or why their moms can make that happen. My daughter’s lucky if she bathes every other night (and believe me, if it was up to her, she’d NEVER get into the bathtub). Working moms have to cut corners, somehow—and something’s gotta give. I never have time to watch DVDs, let alone TV. In fact, if it wasn’t for the Wiggles DVDs I order for Jayda, it would probably be more economical for me to cancel my Netflix subscription right now.

The only thing I do have time for is my daughter: we have several play dates every week, and we do things together after school almost every day. And I always have time for cuddling with her in bed. I’m an excellent multi-tasker, and combining sleepin’ and lovin’ all at the same time is my forte. Because there’s one thing I can always balance: Jayda’s head on my chest and her arms wrapped around me. But as for the rest—my life is definitely off-kilter. And with a kid relying on me, and work that always needs to be done, I’m not sure that’s ever going to change.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Rainy Day Fun -- by Liimu

As I sit watching the rain splash against the windows, settling into the idea of a weekend of nonstop rain, it makes me reflect about water, and how important it is to be in the flow of life. When water rushes down along the side of the street, it flows easily around the rocks and sticks that might be in its way. Sometimes, a stick will get carried a long for a bit, and then fall off to the side. The water doesn’t worry about what that means, or how long the stick will go along for the ride. It just flows.

That’s very much how I’ve had to be this past few weeks. As a mother of three young daughters – ages 7, 6, and 3 – and a business owner and budding singer/songwriter, there are a hundred moving pieces to keep track of in any given day. If I get all jammed up about things not going according to my plan, well, then I’m just jammed up. I’m the stick stuck in a crevice of the curb, not allowing the current of life to just take me where I’m supposed to go. If, on the other hand, I’m in the flow of things, then I can often happily see, looking back, how things have gone exactly according to Plan.

Take, for instance, my upcoming trip with my daughters down to see my mother over Spring break. When we started planning our trip, my mom had a ton of commitments to juggle and I could see it was really stressing her out. Rather than get all bunched up about it, I told her if she would be willing to leave us a key somewhere, we would come and hang out in her neck of the woods, whether she’s there or not. This gave her the freedom to do what she really wanted to do, rather than extend any offers out of a sense of obligation. So, when she invited us to come and spend some time with her in Myrtle Beach at a lovely hotel with an indoor pool and lazy river, I happily said yes. That wouldn’t have even been an option if I had gotten all offended and upset, like I used to when I was younger.

I have learned in my years of recovery that when things don’t go according to my plan, it’s always because the Powers that Be have a much better Plan than what my little human brain was able to come up with. I have passed that attitude on to my children and they are growing up to believe that anything is possible, and that change is exciting, not something to be feared.

It’s a rainy weekend. So much for going to the playground or riding bikes, or all the other things we have been dreaming about doing this entire snowy winter. Rather than lament the fact that we can’t enjoy those fair-weather activities, my girls and I will look upon the unexpected showers as God wiping the slate of our weekend plans clean so we can dream up entirely new things to do that will be even more fun.

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Saturday, March 13, 2010

GUEST BLOG POST: Everybody Knows Best When You’re a Mom (Except for You) – by Laura Day, author, How to Rule the World From Your Couch

Last I heard, men don't breastfeed. However, my father, when I gave birth to my son on my 33rd birthday, had doctrine on the matter. Partly in response, I ignored my intuition and breast fed until my son, Samson, could unbutton my shirt with one hand. He is now 18, and two rounds of braces have corrected the dental damage. For my breasts, well, as my father says, they served their biological function.

There is too much information available on how to raise your child, but the oldest and the best is that you, the mother, are hardwired to know what to do, even when you are sure you don't! So, how do you listen to your intuition and your hardwired instinct to do the right thing for both you (yes you are still worthy of care) and your child?

First of all, skim the child-rearing books, school info, family info, et al, but keep a book of your own wisdom, and treat that book as you would the Akashic records.

When you see in print what you suspect/know is true, proven time and again, you will be fluid in those moments where your little Einstein decides to throw down the gauntlet in the middle of a family wedding or a upscale shopping mall.

When you sense that something is wrong, or something everyone says is wrong is just fine, allow your awareness to build your case, detailing why you sense your way is best. Intuition can be proven correct when you allow it to provide you with details (and write them down). This is best done over time. Carry that little book with you, and you will amaze yourself.

You teach best by example. Take good care of you. Have a little book that allows your attention to gather information on how you and your child/children can make the best possible team for all team members (yes, that includes you) and implement the information in your daily life.

You speak your own child's intuitive language, and you always will. You know what each other is thinking, feeling, doing. Don't stop listening to the dialog, and don't lie, although share in age appropriate forms. You may not think so now, but if you keep the intuitive conversation open, you will be prepared in advance (the gift of intuition), as will your child, for all of life’s challenges.

One day at school, a fellow classmate called my son a "mama's boy" to which he responded, "yes, I am, and who's boy should I be?"

Laura Day is the New York Times best selling author of PRACTICAL INTUITION and her most recent book HOW TO RULE THE WORLD FROM YOUR COUCH. She has been featured on Oprah, Good Morning America, The Martha Stewart Show as well as Newsweek, Marie Claire, The Wall Street Journal and other international publications. Laura teaches how to use intuition in practical ways to create more successful lives. Visit Follow Laura at

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Friday, March 12, 2010

Reassurance with Trepidation -- by Robin

A friend of mine raised a question this week that immediately resonated with me.

She is having marital challenges and finds herself feeling the need to reassure her young son that all will ultimately be ok, in the face of her own deep letdown and insecurity. Understandably so, under the circumstances, she is very hurt by a man she had planned to spend her life with and who she relied on to be a strong, constant presence in her son's life. Now, the future seems uncertain, and she's digging deep to find an inner strength powerful enough for two...both her and her son.

Not only do I feel for her, but I "got" it. I truly did.

Totally different set of circumstances, but I, too, found myself as a mom, working hard to offer reassurance to my son despite my own trepidation.

I grew up with parakeets. At one time, we had three in my childhood home. Parry, Polly and Corky. They were green, blue and yellow. I remember them like it was yesterday...especially the story of how my mom valiantly captured Corky at a local supermarket during a shopping trip. He must have flown the coop from his owner's cage in the neighborhood, and my mother and others bird lovers hunted him down, and mom was the victor, bringing him home in a paper bag. I thought it was so heroic.

Ultimately, one by one they passed away, not to be replaced.

When I got married, Marc and I bought a parakeet of our own. We named her Chiffon because she looked like the white and yellow of lemon chiffon pie. Or, perhaps it was meringue? But, Chiffon sounded better.

I adored her, but 5 years ago, she passed away, and my heart was broken.

Seth was very young then, though he swears he remembers and misses her. We do have photos in the house, and I vividly recall how she used to land on the tray of his high chair, as he'd swat at her with delight, and she hopped away from his attempt to grab hold of her.

After years of knowing that no bird would be the same...I used to call her a "little person with feathers..." I decided I had room in my heart for another. I was ready. Seth would have preferred a dog or cat, but since we weren't going to go there, we opted for a larger bird. Something bigger than a parakeet, but not as large or pricey as an Amazon Parrot.

Hence, we are now the proud owners of Smokey the Cockatiel. Or Smokes, as Seth has dubbed him/her. We think it's a girl, but we're not sure. She's 5 months old and is yellow with patches of smokey grey, hence her name.

It was exciting picking her out in the pet store. Quite unnerving bringing her home in a dark cardboard box for a car ride that felt like a lifetime. I kept imagining that the poor thing must have been terrified. Every now 'n then, we heard a small thud in the box. I presumed it was her attempt to break free.

We speedily prepared her cage and let her out of the box into her new home. And, she freaked out. One minute she looked like a frozen deer in headlights. The next she was fluttering about wildly. Afraid she was going to hurt herself, I took her out of the cage. She made a hissing sound and pecked my hand...luckily I'm not afraid of being bitten. But, I felt so badly. What would it take to get her to trust us? And, how long would the process be? Can you imagine how she must feel? One minute she's in a cage with birds like herself and the next she's living in a strange cage all alone with people she doesn't know staring at her and talking to her.

I want her to love us. We already love her.

Seth kept asking me if Smokey was ok? I believed she was, but there was a little girl inside of me who was fearful knowing that I have no experience with a Cockatiel, and questioned what I was thinking getting a larger bird like this? Couldn't I just remain within my comfort zone and stick to another parakeet?

An even louder voice was screaming at me to believe in myself and our ability as a family to care for and endear this bird to us. As the matriarch, I am the one to assure both Seth and my husband that we made the right choice here. That we'll enjoy Smokey, and she'll enjoy us. And, that we will conquer Cockatiel territory, if we do our homework and have patience.

But, it made me realize, that just because someone is a grown-up, doesn't mean they have all the answers. And, as a mom, we have our moments of uncertainty just like anyone. But, to our children, we strive to be the ever present hero, so that if they're not feeling so brave or confident, we instill in them a sense of peace as we endeavor to navigate new ground together. But who makes us feel brave? How can we do that for ourselves? We can't always look to others even if they offer support. As they say, sometimes it's an "inside" job." And, maybe we're stronger than we admit?!

Smokey made me think back to bringing Seth home from the hospital. That was 7 years ago, and I'm no longer that same novice mom. I still have my days of self doubt. I'm sure I always will. But, just as with Seth, I trust that one day I will feel like caring for a Cockatiel is within my comfort zone, or at least relatively speaking.

PS -- On another note, is presenting a Life Changing Parenting Teleseminar Series starting April 7th with Elizabeth Pflaum of AAA Parent Coaching. Slots are still open. Visit and click on the Teleseminar box for info.

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Granny Day -- by Gina

Since she was just three months old and I returned to work part-time, my mother-in-law has been taking care of my daughter Gianna for two full days a week. Gianna lovingly refers to these as “Granny Days”, because the other three weekdays she has “School Days.” I am fortunate to have “Granny,” and the fact that she is home sick today with bronchitis has made me realize how missed she is.

When I say, Granny watches Gianna for two full days… I mean two FULL days. I sometimes get exhausted just listening to the replay of their day. A typical day may include any combination and many times all of the following: doing an art project, playing downstairs in the playroom, playing upstairs in the bedroom, going out for manicures, having lunch in their favorite café or the pizzeria, painting at the pottery place (I now am the proud owner of about twelve assorted handpainted mugs, cups plates, and candy dishes), and going for ice cream. These days alternate or sometimes include visiting the Children’s Museum, Chuck E. Cheese or Barnes & Noble. And that’s just in the winter… once the weather her in New York gets warmer, you can add the beach, park, playground to the list. Whew!

On top of all these great activities, Granny is so caring and patient with Gianna. Last Christmas, Gianna was treated to a hand-crocheted Christmas skirt, with a matching one for her Hello Kitty doll. She got to choose what color yarn she wanted for the skirt, and even what order she wanted the three stripes in…even if it meant Granny pulling out the work she’d already done on the skirt and starting over, just because Gianna wanted the black stripe first, then the red. I told Granny you don’t need to do that, you’re spoiling her.. but I knew my words fell on deaf ears. I got the old line, “I’m her grandmother, it’s my job to spoil her!”

Having grandparents healthy enough and living close enough to be involved in your child’s care is such a blessing. I was not nearly as close with my grandparents. I never met my paternal grandfather, and my paternal grandmother, died when I was very young, about three. I remember her vaguely – pouring water out of my plastic bucket onto her feet at the sprinklers in the Brooklyn playground, her smuggling baby bottles in the bottom of her shopping bags after my mother had already weaned us onto cups. I do remember her always smiling, then remember being told that she was with God and we wouldn’t see her anymore but she could still see us.

My maternal grandmother lived in Long Island - we took the Long Island Railroad out to visit almost every Sunday while we were young, then less as we got older. It was a long trip from Brooklyn, having to first take the subway to downtown Brooklyn, and we always left early, so we would occasionally whine, “do we haaaave to go?” My mother always responded the same way, “It’s your choice… but you don’t know how long Grandma will be around….”

We always had a huge Polish dinner (at 12:00 noon). After which, we usually passed out on the couch, my sister and I both trying to squeeze onto the daybed for a nap with my grandfather. When we surfaced, we might play "Penny Ante" or Rummy card games, or visit my grandfather's "victory garden" at his friend’s house, a short drive away, where we would inevitably get scolded for stomping all over the root vegetables. But then it was back to Brooklyn and maybe we’d be back the next Sunday or the one after. My grandfather died when I was a teenager, leaving my grandmother to downsize and rent an apartment in Brooklyn so she could be close to us. Her health declined rapidly - a heart attack, mini-strokes, and eventually Alzheimer’s led to her needing live-in homecare. Her decline lasted almost ten years, of which there was little “quality time” due to her age and illness. I said goodbye to her through tears over the phone from my boss’ office in Manhattan, when my mother called to say, “It’s finally time - Grandma’s finally ready to go. You better say goodbye now. She may not make it until you get home.”

I missed my grandmother when she was gone, and indeed longed for those Sunday visits I used to complain about. Moms are always right, aren’t they?

When Gianna was younger, I feared Granny was spoiling her too much. M&M's before breakfast, and making a habit of showing up with a box of Dunkin' Donuts in hand. Not to mention jumping up to fix Gianna some instant macaroni and cheese after just preparing a nice family dinner of pasta and meatballs, because Gianna was not happy with our choice of pasta shape. I would say No but Granny would say Yes. Those things burned me inside. I tried to talk with Granny about it, and of course she’d agree to stick to whatever I wanted. But… I have learned, as I imagine most moms do, to pick my battles.

So, now I don’t mind so much anymore when Granny brings Munchkins. In fact, when I lamented how it was hard to get Gianna off her steady carb diet of pastina, spaghetti, and mac n’ cheese, she showed up the next morning with a Ziploc full of hard boiled eggs, which is now a staple of Gianna’s diet – something I never even thought to try.

I want Granny to enjoy her time with Gianna, and vice versa. She is so good to us, and I know it means the world to her to have lots of quality time with Gianna. The years are passing so quickly and Gianna is in Pre-K this September, and then full day kindergarten. Then, this special time is over and on to the next stage. My mother-in-law gives Gianna so much love and attention, and so many wonderful memories. It is a relationship like no other, that of a child and a doting grandparent. Besides, Granny gives her attention which I cannot, due to working full-time. I like to think instead of spoiling her, Granny is showing her that she’s special, and worthy of lots of attention and affection… and perhaps a little good old fashioned “spoiling” now and then, too. Besides, what are Grandmas for?

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Worried Sick -- by Cara

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about my upper respiratory illness and how it always seemed that no matter how sick we Moms are, we still put our own needs aside for the sake of our families, especially our children.
Well, this week is the reverse. Now I have recovered, however my son came down with...well, we really didn’t know what.

My son started to exhibit signs of not feeling well last Saturday night.
My night owl son, who typically falls asleep between 9:30pm - 10:00pm (genetics...not bad parenting), fell asleep at 8:30pm. That was my first clue. The ONLY time my son falls asleep before 9pm is if he is sick or becoming sick.

The next day, Sunday, my son was extremely cranky and whiny. He also didn’t look very well. He had circles under his eyes and looked extremely tired. We had a birthday party to go to that day and my son wanted to go desperately. But throughout the party, he kept coming out of the play area and would plop down next to me and rest his head on my upper arm. I felt his was hot. But it could have been hot from all of the running and jumping he was doing in the party room. It was when he asked when we were going home that I suspected something was wrong. My son NEVER wants to leave a party early. We stayed until the end, but said our thank yous quickly because I really wanted to get home and take my son’s temperature.

I almost fell over when I did take it. 103.3!! I ran to get him some Motrin, but getting it into him was an even bigger challenge. He hates sweet tasting things, so he can’t stand the children’s liquid medicines.

He won’t take pills, even crushed up and put into applesauce. He didn’t want to eat anything. So we just decided to let him sleep and hoped the fever would break soon. My son’s only request was water. Lots of water.

I lined up little water bottles on the table next to his bed, and by morning they were all empty. And this was the scenario, day after day:
lots of sleep or awake and lethargic. Temps ranging from 103-104ish almost around the clock. No eating of food of any kind. Water, water, and more water. An occasional dose of Motrin when his temps were so high he was practically delirious and would take the medicine with minimal fighting. To put it mildly, we were scared out of our skins.

I have a fairly solid medical background, although I am not a physician.
I have real, professional medical books that I combed through. I went to some professional, medical web sites to look for answers. I even consulted a handy iPhone App called Pediatric Symptoms MD which walks you through determining whether your child’s symptoms need immediate attention, call the doctor in the morning symptoms, or wait a day or two and see what happens symptoms. This handy App suggested calling our Pediatrician first thing in the morning.

I was up that night practically every hour on the hour either checking on my son or hearing his weak requests for more water and running to get some for him. The next morning, we bundled our son up, and my husband carried him to the car and then into the physician’s office. Other than extremely high fevers, our son didn’t exhibit any other symptoms whatsoever, which led the doctor to diagnose him a viral fever. He assured us that the fever would break in 2-4 days. They did a rapid Strep test which turned out negative, but the doctor said he would call us the next day if the overnight test came back positive.

The rest of the day was the same...extremely high fevers, hydrating him with only water, and occasionally being successful at getting Motrin into my son.

Concerned friends were calling and e-mailing. Could it be the flu? The Swine flu? An undetected infection? Were we sure it wasn’t Strep? I called the doctor the next day and said there was absolutely no change in my son and if anything, he appeared to be getting worse and looking terribly ill. The doctor told me to bring my son in the next day for another Strep test and a blood test.

We went back the next day. Again a negative Strep test, no true indications of any type of flu. White blood cell count was NORMAL (which blew me can someone’s white blood cell count possibly be normal when their body is fighting something so hard to handle? But, like I said, I’m not a physician). We left with no definitive answers and a little boy who was getting worse by the hour.

Now it was Thursday. Fevers still hadn’t broken and the time frame for a “viral fever” had expired. We called the Pediatrician again. He said if the fevers didn’t come down by the next morning, he wanted him to get a chest x-ray. Then we noticed throughout the day, the fevers dropped to the 102-103 range. We managed to get more Motrin into our son. As the day went on, the fevers dropped even more to the 101-102 range. Our son still looked absolutely awful, but he started moving around. He wanted food. Of course everything he wanted, we didn’t have in the house. My husband ran to the grocery store. Slowly, our son was starting to eat. Fevers were down again to between 99-low 100s! My son hadn’t slept or taken a nap at all that day. But he had a very full belly and his fever seemed to finally be breaking!

By 7pm that same evening, I had to tackle an enormous pile of clean laundry by folding and putting the items away in my bedroom. My son crawled under the covers of my bed and watched me. After 5 minutes, I heard heavy breathing. He had fallen asleep. I finished a little more folding then turned off the lights and let him sleep.

I went to check on him a couple hours later and found him burning hot and drenched in perspiration. His fever was finally breaking! I didn’t want to move him, so when I was ready to fall asleep, I simply crawled under the covers next to him. Throughout the night I slept lightly, feeling his forehead, which felt cooler. And he sensed my presence because he kept snuggling closer to me and even would grab my forearm and clutch it to him like his favorite stuffed animal. He even interlocked his little hand in mine, drawing it close to his body. I was half asleep but gushing with emotion! This little angel needed me, wanted me, cherished me enough that he wanted to draw himself as close to me as possible and hold on tight to whatever part of me he could. All while in a state of sleep and return from the depths of a terrible illness.

I loved sleeping with him that night. In fact, I think we may have more occasional Mommy and son sleep togethers. I know he felt safe, warm, protected, and loved. I was overflowing with love for this child, even though I didn’t sleep very soundly. But the love I did feel from him was tremendous! He is approaching an age where displaying physical affection, especially towards your Mom, can be a little embarrassing.

But feeling the true, uncensored adoration of me, while my son slept, made my heart swell one-thousand-fold!! I felt so relieved that he was finally on the mend! But most importantly, I felt just how much I really mattered to him. And I know I made him feel exactly the same way! I can’t wait for our next sleep together! I can feel my heart swell as I remember him interlocking his little hand with mine, pulling it real close, and sighing himself back to sleep. The two of us, together.

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Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Unlike My Mother -- by Laura

I’m new to blogging, to motherhood, to New York, and Motherhood Later...Than Sooner. My name is Laura Houston, I am 45 years old, and I have twin boys Lyle and Wyatt who are 10 months old. I recently moved to Manhattan from a farm in Oregon, and I transitioned from having my own business to being a stay-at-home mom. We’re a different lot – we mothers of advanced maternal age – and I find older moms bring a richness to their job that opens up a treasure chest of insights and wisdom. I hope we can all share.

I didn’t have much of a role model when it came to mothering. After four kids and a desperately common life in the suburbs, my mother got tired of being a mom and she checked out. And I got tired of being her kid, so I checked out. I did whatever it took to get out of the house, out of that Midwestern suburb, and as far away as possible from her life, her bitterness, and her unhappiness.

That was the start of my journey into motherhood. I called it the Do-Not-Turn-Out-Like-My-Mother Plan, and I hoped it would serve me when I finally became a mother, which is something I desperately wanted some day. I made most of my life decisions based on this question: “Would my mother do it?” If the answer was no, I would do it. If the answer was yes, I would not.

In order to have a life unlike my mothers, I wanted an extraordinary man who would want an extraordinary woman. I made a list of everything I desired in a man, and I set about to be that person. I went back to school to get my master’s degree. I spent a summer kayaking in Glacier Bay, Alaska. I started my own business and became financially solvent. I bought an old house, remodeled it, and flipped it for twice what I paid for it. I volunteered as a tutor for at-risk youth, and I ran a half marathon. I became a temporary foster mother. My life was almost as full and as rich as I wanted it to be.

But at the age of 35, I still did not have that extraordinary man, and I was running out of time to have children. My friend Valerie and I made a pact that at the age of 37, we would rent a limo and take it to the fertility clinic in downtown Portland and get inseminated.

When you’ve got a backup plan in life, it often seems you rarely need it. I ended up finding that extraordinary man one year before the artificial insemination due date, and this man was worth waiting for. Together we bought a farm that would be the ideal place to raise children. After going through six years of fertility treatments, we were finally able to get pregnant with twins. Finally, I could be the mother I had been training to be.

But five months into my peaceful, blissful motherhood, the phone rang with a job offer for my husband. It was a big job. In Manhattan. I asked myself, “Would my mother do it?” And of course she would not. So we left the farm, the chickens, my gardens, and the grape vines and headed to the city with our twin boys. And here we are trying to figure it all out and navigate the new challenges of motherhood and a fast city.

Living my life trying not to be my mother is not easy. At all. In fact, it’s downright hard. Manhattan is a challenging place to live for a mother of twins. My stroller doesn’t fit through some doorways, on the bus, the subway, or in the trunk of a taxi cab. The winter weather alienated me from my walks in the park. My dearest friends and helpers are 3,000 miles away. But I’m not living my mother’s life. Sometimes that’s the only gauge I have for measuring how I am doing. And most of the time, that’s enough.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

My Little Fashionista -- by Jamie

Before becoming a mother, I suspect I sometimes looked judgmentally at little girls in completely mismatched outfits…never really understanding why their moms let them leave their houses looking that way. But now I understand that often the way a child dresses really isn’t under the mother’s control. Sometimes it’s not worth battling with your daughter over outrageous fashion choices when you’re already battling to leave the house on time.

Jayda was fighting with me over her outfit selections earlier than I ever imagined she would—probably by the time she turned two. The blissful baby-dressing years—when I’d been able to dress Jayda in whatever I wanted without consulting anyone else’s opinion—ended abruptly, and she was soon pulling clothes out of her drawers, rejecting many of my choices, and throwing fits when I insisted that her clothing selections didn’t match, were out of season, or, simply no longer fit her.

To appease Jayda and foster her creativity, I gave my daughter carte blanche over her pajama choices; I filled the bottom drawer of her dresser with all sorts of tops and bottoms, and let her pick out whatever she wanted to wear at night. Often that meant polka dots on top and stripes on the bottom. Or pink velour pants with a green cotton shirt. And that was fine with me. Jayda’s wacky outfits were confined to the bedroom and I was content. But of course that wasn’t enough for Jayda; it wasn’t long before she wanted control 24/7.

Now, every morning, Jayda is in charge of picking out her clothes for school; I do get to supervise and offer opinions, but Jayda gets the final say (unless my daughter is insisting on wearing a sundress in 30 degree weather, in which case I put my foot down). Fortunately, I don’t have it as bad as some moms at daycare—who are forced to send their kids to school every day in swirly dresses, or swathed in pink from head to toe. But I do have to make sure that I do laundry constantly, because Jayda is obsessed with her Tinkerbell underwear (and asks for it constantly…throwing fits if I inform her that it’s dirty), and goes through phases where she likes to wear the same things over and over again. And lately, she gets very upset if I don’t listen to her fashion advice while dressing myself, as well.

A few weeks ago, I put on a tailored burgundy shirt I hadn’t worn in ages and Jayda snarled at me: “I don’t like dat, Mommy! Throw it in the garbage!” When I told her that wasn’t going to happen, she got very upset: “What?! You’re not taking it off, Mommy?” I was forced to placate her with fruit snacks and a Max and Ruby video, to make up for my “defiance” of her request. But alternatively, I scored points by purchasing a new “pokie”-dotted bra that Jayda thinks I look “bootiful” in…and believes I should wear “every day!” She even likes to check to see if I am following her advice (and, as I mentioned before, it’s a good thing I do my laundry very often!).

Fortunately, along with the bra, there are plenty of things in my closet Jayda does like—especially shirts that are pink or purple. And when she looks through my clothes, my daughter likes to remind me, “when I get bigger and bigger, I’ll wear these, too, ok?” Sounds fine to me…it would sure save us shopping time…and a heck of a lot of money!

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