Saturday, September 11, 2004

The Mystical Power of Loss

I can never think of 9/11 without first thinking of the death of my son Nathan. On that bright September morning, I was still wrapped in grief over the loss of my son in childbirth 3 months earlier. Then, seeing the devastation of that morning, I remember feeling that now the entire country tasted the fuzzy-headed despair that had been my constant companion since the previous June.

Grieving a death can change everything: common objects shift to mystic talismans, routine actions become sacred rituals, regular dates are elevated to holy observances, and ordinary places are transformed into hallowed ground by the power of loss.

Mystical Talisman: I have a pair of sneakers which I can no longer bear to wear, nor can I toss out. They are perfectly ordinary sneakers, a little worn, maybe, but their importance stems from the fact that they are what I was wearing that morning I went to the hospital in labor. A tiny smear of blood on them prevents me from wearing them any more, not because I'm grossed out by it or that they are now ritually impure; rather, I imagine that mixed in with my blood there might be tiny fragments of my son's skin or hair. I can not bear the thought that these pieces of him might be washed away, either by accident walking in the rain, or by design.

Sacred Ritual: Even now, I mark my Monday mornings according to the schedule of that awful day. At 7:25, I think to myself, this is the time my water broke and I saw that it was bloody; at 7:35, I picture myself half-waddling, half-lurching into the ER; 8am brings the panic as I remember the nurses talking about reading my pulse, not my baby's, on the fetal monitor; 8:30 is when my OB came in and broke the last bit of my bag of water, saw the rush of blood and ran out of the room, directing the staff to a waiting OR, uttering that terrible word, "abruption;" 8:45, was when I, in the grip of a panic attack, struggled with the anesthesiologist, certain that I would die if put under; then, blackness until 10 am when my husband answered my anguished question, "Is the baby ok?" with "No, honey, he's not. He died."

Holy Observance: June 18 will always be a day for us. No school, no work on that day. We have a leisurely breakfast, go to the cemetary, and take our other children out for a nice spring drive, and do the things with them that our son will never get to do. Outsiders are not welcome on this holy day.

Hallowed Ground: Our former house, in Maryland on the Bay will always be special to me; first, because it was our first house, and it was the place where we brought home our first baby Natalie. All of her early milestones were celebrated there; it is a place filled with happy memories. What sanctifies it for me, is that it is the place where for 36 weeks, my son lived, safe and loved, in my body. The morning we left our house and moved back north, I cried, thinking that we were leaving some part of our son behind.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Smelly Cat, Smelly Cat

Ok, yesterday's post got me reminiscing about all the fun involved in owning a cat. Here's a story from last year, not too long after we'd gotten Cheetah from the local SPCA.

One night I was up to my elbows in dinner preparations, when Natalie, darling child that she is, comes running in saying, "Mommy! The kitty pooped in my playroom!" Gag me. So, I turn off all the burners, grab a roll of paper towels and, like, 3 different cleaners/disinfectants and go to work.

Natalie had taken the cat into her playroom with her and closed the door so he wouldn't run away from her. She still doesn't get the fact that when the cat has to go away for a bit (to poop, pee, eat, or nap) that he will come back to her. That poor cat. *sigh* What made things worse was that Natalie's toys were scattered all over the place, and the poop was interspersed with them, so once I cleaned up the major areas, I had to inspect each stupid block, lego, stuffed animal, puzzle piece etc for poop. Darling Natalie also had some on her feet *shudder* -oooh, so gross- so I was a cleaning maniac. I even managed not to swear too much, but occasionally, the word "Shit!" did pop out of my mouth. Natalie would then respond, "That's not nice, Mommy!" Grrrrrr!

The house rule now stands, "No cats in closed rooms- ever!" I think Natalie finally understands the significance of that one. It was super-stinky stuff, not that cat poop normally smells divine, but I think that huge bag of Econo-Kat Fud from Sam's Club didn't help matters any. Add to that the fact that Cheetah is an orange tabby cat, and I have heard from many sources that orange cats stink the worst of all housecats- that is merely anecdotal, of course.

Thursday, September 9, 2004

Stop Eating the Cat Food!

I have always known that small children will experiment with "exotic" foods; in particular, foods not meant for human, but rather animal, consumption. Sure, the child might sneak a little kibble, give it a tentative taste, find it offensive and loathsome in her sight and then spit it out. That was the case with my older daughter Natalie when she scarfed down a handful of cat food. The look on her face was priceless. It ran along the lines of, "Holy Mother of God, what have I just done?!" I naturally assumed that meant that cat food, all cat food, was vile to small children.

Three years later, along comes Lucy, who defies this rule. For some reason, this child of mine can not pass by the cat's bowl of Meow Mix without a little sample. She eats it, too. She doesn't simply roll it around in her mouth for a bit and then let the fishy ooze dribble down her lip, ohhhh noooo, she swallows it and goes back for seconds! I never thought that the words, "Stop eating the cat food," would come out of my mouth, least of all directed at the brilliant fruit of my womb. I know that we learn something new every day, but some of these lessons are beginning to scare me, just a little.

The Deed is Done

My first baby is officially a Kindergartener. I think I held up pretty well. Watching her walk down the sidewalk in her brand-new school clothes, stiff leather shoes and over-large Hello Kitty packback tugged at my heart. The backpack was so big I could probably stuff my younger daughter Lucy, now 21 months old, into it with room for the requisite school supplies. Natalie looked so little and defenseless, yet so proud of her new status as a Big Girl.

Although I did not cry, as I had feared I might, I was feeling wistful and sad as I walked back from dropping her off at school. I had hoped for a tiny show of trepidation on her part- proof that she still needs her Mommy, but no, not my fearless daughter. Her words to me after I kissed her good-bye? "Go home, Mommy!"

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

T-Minus 1 day and Counting...

Natalie is determined to drain every last drop of worthless-tv-watching as she can before school starts tomorrow and the dreaded Cable guy comes by to shut off all but the broadcast channels.

Good-bye Spongebob Squarepants! Farewell, Kids Next Door! Sayonara Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Perhaps we'll meet on another shore.

Seriously, my kid has watched too much television this summer. We slid into this awful habit of using the tv as constant entertainment, and most other activities: making collages, painting, reading etc have fallen by the wayside. We were way too lazy this summer, though I doubt that she has been irreversibly harmed by my failing. She has been protesting this decision to cut the cord mightily, but we are confident that, in a week or so, she'll not even notice it. She'll be at school most of the day anyway. Perhaps she'll come home, bursting with play ideas. We shall see.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004


My first child starts Kindergarten this week. How is this possible? Wasn't it only last month that I was pregnant with her? Didn't she take her first steps just a few weeks ago? How can 5 years pass so quickly?

Being a mom is a greatand scary thing. it reaffirms life for me, yet it makes me ever more aware of my own mortality. I can no longer make up stories in my head where I remain 20-something forever. Now, mychildren are the focus of my life. I measure my age in terms of theirs. As they age, so do I. With each new aggravating exploit, I gain three more gray hairs. Yet with each slobbery kiss, I feel younger.

Hello All!

Welcome to the Wide World of Mommydom, companion Blog to my homepage of the same name.
I hope to have this place up and running shortly. Check back soon!