Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Mom Life

I expected sleepless nights. I expected less "me" time. I expected it to be hard.

What I did not expect, was how great it would be, too.

Not always, mind you. In the public restroom on the Ocean City boardwalk, cleaning poo from Supergirl panties, it was less than awesome. Getting puked on with fruit punch Gatorade while wearing a white shirt was not a lot of fun. Arguing with a three-year-old over pretty much everything is pretty awful. Tears, a lot of tears, of frustration and doubt for all of us.

And then she smiles. Or says she wants to be a writer like me when she grows up. Or I ask her for a kiss and she runs over and plants a juicy love-filled pucker right on my lips. Then it's pretty great.

I did not know I could love another being this way. So completely, so freely. While my child is stubborn and strong-willed and hard-headed and determined, she is also genuine and honest and open and fun. She makes me laugh. Hard.

I have had several jobs in my life. Without a doubt, being a mom is the hardest, but it's also the most rewarding. By far.

I miss her when she is not with me. I am sad when she is sick. I am proud when she does something well.

I wonder what kind of person she will be. I wonder when she will pull away from us and start to want to do even more by herself. I wonder if I will always light up when talking about her.

I want to protect her from everything. I want to not make a single mistake. I want her to be as proud of me as I am of her. I know that is a tall order.

I think about who I was before her and it seems hard to believe that she was not always in my heart.

I am tired. I miss the "me" time. Yet, I would not change a thing. #time2momup

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

GWA 2016

I am still recovering from GWA. 

Here is how I described it in 2011:  

GWA stands for Girls Weekend Away.  About a decade ago, a group of us made a pact that one weekend a year, we would all go away.  It did not matter where, but it mattered that we always made the time for each other.  It used to be 4 days at the Delaware beaches. Then it became 3 days at the New Jersey shore. The last few years, it’s been one night at the house of a friend who owns a pool and a bar.  It seems that swimming and cocktails are two"must have's" for GWA. 

We are going on 15 years of GWA now.  And this year, instead of the beach, we went to the lake. On a campsite.  In an RV.

It’s a true testament to my friends that I love them so much that I was willing to camp. I grew up going to camp and loved the experience, but perhaps not the dirt and the mosquitos. I went camping post-college to a Bluegrass Fest and all I remember is being hot and yucky. So camping is not really my thing, to say the least.

Friends, though, are very much my thing. So off I went.

First of all, we were really glamping, not camping. We had running water and electricity and a full-size fridge. We wanted for nothing.

We spent the weekend drinking, eating, swimming, laughing, talking, giggling, and laughing some more. I laughed so hard that no sound came out of my mouth. I laughed so hard that tears streamed down my face. My sides hurt from all the laughter and at one point it was actually painful! I enjoyed myself so much that it was hard to believe I was ever resistant to the idea of camping. To spend 48 hours with girls who have known me for more than half my life is a gift. A true gift. They remember stories I don’t. They remember experiences that I have long forgotten. They knew the me before I was the me that I am now. They loved me then and they love me now.

We talked about everything and nothing at the same time. We met other folks at the camp site and everyone talked to everyone. It was so different than anything familiar to me and I adored it.

We swam in an old cranberry bog which was turned into a lake. We fell asleep listening to the sounds of nature all around us. I learned to appreciate the calm and the stillness and the bonds that we have worked so hard to keep strong. We shared stories about our friends that were not able to make it this year and kept them close to our hearts the whole time.

My legs still itch from my bug bites and my hangover is finally gone.

I am still recovering from GWA and GWA is probably still recovering from me.

I can’t wait to go again.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Teach The Children Well

For one brief semester in college, my major was Education. It had been English Literature and I was told that unless I wanted to become a writer, there was not much I could do with that degree. (Oops!) So I switched to Education. A semester later, I changed to Communications which is what I actually stuck with until then end.

You see, what I liked most about the idea of teaching was long breaks and summer vacations. And I knew even back then that those traits do not a teacher make.

My Communications degree has served me well. It opened up the right doors for me and allowed me to find my own path. My minor in English Lit has done very little for me, except give me cold sweats and nightmares about poetry, Medieval writings and other such topics that did not really interest me. I longed to be like Dead Poets Society and instead, was much more like a PG version of Animal House.

My daughter started daycare at seventeen months. She originally went two days and week and now she goes three days. We could not be happier.

There is a structure and a routine at daycare that Miranda cherishes. She has loved each of her teachers and had made many friends. She has learned more on her days there than we could have ever imagined. Now three and a half, she is a sponge to absorb whatever gets thrown her way and she is soaking it all in. 

The teachers that spend time with Miranda day in and day out, do it because they love children. Because they love to help children learn. They do not get their summers off and they do not get long vacations. I have always heard that daycare teachers do not get paid that well because of insurance premiums and because the overall cost of running a facility is so high. So they are obviously not in childcare to get rich!

When I stopped doing my freelance work, Gary and I discussed pulling Miranda out of school. It was a very short conversation. We knew she needed the time there to be with the other kids and learn and have fun and that I needed the time to be home and write my story.

This morning I dropped Miranda off at daycare, gave her a hug and a kiss and told her to have a great day. It was silly because I know that she will. I know that she will learn and be stimulated and be well looked after and there is a good chance that when Gary goes to get her tonight, she will not want to come home.

I am proud of the early start to her education that she is receiving and I am thrilled that she has such an amazing capacity to learn. Here's hoping it stays that way!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

No More Teachers, No More Books

This time of year, my Facebook and Instagram pages are flooded with images of kids heading back to school.  Smiling back from all my screens are new backpacks and sneakers and outfits and haircuts galore. The parents are mostly happy to get their lives back on track and the kids are excited for their new adventures. 

I remember the start of the new school year. Pouring over my class schedule in anticipation of what course would potentially change my life. Staring at the bus schedule and figuring out what time I had to leave my house and which corner I had to walk to that year.

My daughter is still in daycare and she is part-time. She goes all year round so there is no official start of the new school year. Last week was the last week of “camp” but all that means is that no bathing suit is needed to be packed for this week because they put the sprinkler into storage for the year.

My other daughter should be starting kindergarten this year. She should be getting a new backpack and sneakers and outfits and a haircut. But she will never have any of those things. She will never anticipate (or dread) a class. She will never ride the bus.

How do you go on with life when a life you were creating has stopped to exist? 

Well, you can buy a backpack for a child who does not have the means to purchase one. You can throw yourself into your living child and make sure she wants for nothing. You can reach out to other parents who have suffered the same agony as you and remind yourself that you are not alone.  You can take care of yourself, follow your dreams and start writing down your experiences and stories with the goal of healing yourself and others.  You can do all of these things to honor your child and the life she should have had. You can keep her alive in you. Yes, that is exactly how you go on.

Miranda heading to preschool

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Dear Jennifer Weiner

Dear Jennifer Weiner,

First things first, is it OK if I call you Jen? Or BFF? Which do you prefer?

I have reached out to you before (I am not a stalker!) but never formally. I wanted to take a moment to write you a quick letter and let you know how you changed my life.

I read your first book when it came out. I bought the hardcover and I still have it to this day. I am not sure who turned me onto it, but I was working in Center City at the time and the characters and the places that you put on paper were so real to me. I would commute to work on Septa and read your pages and I felt like you were right there with me. I felt like I knew you.

Fast forward to many years and here I am, still reading your words. I have followed your career and been proud that we have managed to stay in touch. It gets hard once there are spouses and kids, but we have managed to make it work.

Earlier this year, you challenged your readers to #weartheswimsuit. As someone who has battled my weight my entire life, I loved the message that you were sending and jumped on board. I wrote a blog, shared it with you, you quoted it, and within a week, my usual readership of about 100, jumped to 3500. Wow!

Believe it or not, it was that boost I needed to believe that I was a real writer. You see, my first daughter was born still after 37 weeks and I left the hospital with a memory box and a hole in my heart. I did not know what to do. A friend of mine, a friend since the 3rd grade, suggested I start a blog. She had heard other bereaved moms had used writing as an outlet for their grief and suggested I give it a try. It was one of the best pieces of advice I have ever received.

Five years later, I was still writing. I have written about my grief, struggle to conceive, and eventual adoption of my rainbow baby. I have written about my family and my health and my battles with depression and body images and whatever else seemed pertinent to me.

Since I used your topic and ran with it, I am now writing for others. I have had two pieces published in the last few weeks and have one more coming out tomorrow. I am currently waiting to hear from several other sites.

I am also writing my own book. It's a memoir. It's part blog, part novel, part awesome (I hope!).

So you see, you have changed my life. You have opened up a new world for me. You have made me believe the possible is possible.

I will be attending one of your book signings in October. Do me a favor? When I come to the table, book in hand, tears in my eyes, please don't laugh at me. It will mean the world to me. I can't wait to meet my long lost friend at last.

Yours in friendship, admiration and respect,

So that you will recognize me...

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