Saturday, December 1, 2007

It's indescribably beautiful

My lovely older daughter woke me at 3:30 am with repeated kicks to the kidneys, just like when she was still in my womb. Now, 8 years older and some 70-odd pounds heavier, she really packs a wallop. Long after she'd settled back into that heavy slumber only children can attain without drugs, I lay there wide awake, my mind a-whirl.

I got up after a fruitless hour of trying to re-enter my dreams and found my little Lucy awake on the couch, stuffed cheetah under one arm, and the real life, purring Cheetah on her lap.

"Mommy! You're awake!" she chirped at me.

Nodding, I plunked myself down next to her and she gave me a smack on the cheek followed by that famous Lucy Smile. She reached up and petted my hair, a sweet quirk of hers she's had since infancy and one which she reverts to in our quiet moments together. I shivered in the early December morning air, looked out the window and saw that winter had come in the night and covered the ground with pristine white crystals. The air was still thick with silent falling snow. I gave Lucy a kiss and got up to make my Marine-strong pot of coffee.

Natalie came out of my room holding her blanket. "Mommy? Is it still night or is it morning?"

"Both, actually honey. It's early," I replied. "Do you want to go back to bed? I'm just making some coffee and then I'm going to put in a movie for me and Lucy."

*yawn* "Nope. I wanna sit with you on the couch."

Some ten minutes later, there we were, all three of us girls and one content orange tabby snuggled together on the couch with a pile of pillows and a heap of blankets, afghans and comforters, watching "A Christmas Story."

No matter how many times I watch that movie, and I watch it dozens of times during the build-up to Christmas, I laugh to the point of crying, and cry to the point of hiccuping. My girls have seen that movie so many times that they rattled off bits of the dialogue with me perfectly and giggled in anticipation of favorite moments.

Lucy hooked her little arm in mine and rested her silky-haired head on my arm while Natalie looked over at me and grinned the same face-splitting smile she's had since she first gazed up at me and laughed as a fat and happy baby.

This is the color, shape, smell and touch of contentment. If I never do another great thing in my life, I know that I helped bring these two sweet, loving creatures into the world.

Life is hard, but indescribably beautiful.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Giving up the dead

The rituals and rites of funerals and grieving are not for the Dead. Whether they are in an Afterlife or simply cease to exist, what we who are left behind do, we do for ourselves.

Why is it is hard, then to give up the Dead?

Yesterday was as bad as the day of my son's memorial mass the week he died.

Do I hold onto his memory so hard because he was a baby no one knew?

Adults and people who have lived a life and made friends and memories are etched into people's hearts and minds. What memory is there of a tiny doll-like figure in a satin-lined casket? For most people, it is a fleeting image or a sad note sent in an email.

For me, who remembers every kick and hiccup, and bought little boy clothes, it is so much more: a loss of what should have been, but though some cruel twist of fate, a toss of the dice by some heartless god, was not meant to be.

I have not yet accepted the unfairness of it. In the grand scheme of things, when so many people suffer and die every day, what is the tiny spark of one small infant?

To me, it was everything, and still has a hold on me at the most unexpected times.

At the gravesite, I saw the same small toy someone had left at his headstone last year. We'd asked family and friends if they'd left it, but they all denied it. It was a random act of love, understanding and kindness, possibly from a parent who also lost a child nobody else grew to love and cherish.

I cried again when I saw the little Transformer toy; exactly the sort of thing which he would be playing with now, had he survived the delivery. I get a shiver when I hear some mother call out to a little boy, "Nathan, come here," or if I see a little boy about his age and wonder what he would have been like.

I am afraid that if I give up the Dead, it will be as though he never existed. That hurts me more than anything - that those nine months of dreams and hopes were for nothing. Now, with our family disintegrated, I feel as though I have nothing on which to anchor myself.

Yesterday, of all days, was the day when I most needed a pair of loving arms around me, and someone whom I could comfort as well, but I tend to shrug off offers of solace, instead reaching for my movies, books, my laptop, and a pitcher of Gin and tonics to help ease me to sleep.

I am drained of tears. I wept all day yesterday- in the morning while writing my first blog, on the way to the cemetery, at his grave, on the way back from the graveyard, even in the grocery store when I went to buy limes and a sandwich.

Now, a day later, I am utterly numb.

How do I give him up and let him and me go? Should I do that? Is there a right answer?

Nobody can give me a definitive response. Again, I have to forge my way through this alone. SO how do I accomplish this? By writing; by vomiting out every emotion I possess in the hopes that I will purge myself of it all.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Harder Than I Thought it Would Be

June 18th, 2001 fell on a Monday, one day after Father's Day, just like this year.

June 18th, 2001 was the day that changed the lives of everyone in our small family.

June 18th, 2001 I went into labor with my son Nathan.

June 18th, 2001 was the day that my son died.

As I do every June 18th, I woke up at 4:30, and began reliving the events of that day which are still as fresh in my mind, heart and soul as they were 6 years ago.

For the first time since it happened, we are going off to the cemetery separately, not as a family. A sure sign that this family is irrevocably broken.

Natalie was talking about him all weekend, and now Lucy is asking me these questions that are impossible to answer to a 4 year-old. I start crying and she says, "Mommy, don't be sad." She's holding his picture and looking at him, trying to understand why we are having no birthday party for him and why he is flying in the clouds with Jesus.
It feels every bit as bad as it did 6 years ago.
By my reckoning, right now, at 7:48 it was about the time that the nurses realized that there was something wrong. I can't stop reliving it in my mind. I'm watching the clock tick by and remembering the sequence of events. I can even almost detect the sterile alcohol smell of the pristine hospital corridors.

How many more years until it gets bearable on this day?

This is the poem on the back of Nathan's mass card:

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow;
I am the diamond glints on snow

I am the sunlight on ripened grain;
I am the gentle autumn rain

When you awaken in the morning's hush,
I am the swift uplifting rush,
Of quiet birds' circled flight,
I am the soft star that shines at night.

Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there; I did not die.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Crouching Tabby, Wretched Children

Crouching Tabby

Cheetah has allied himself with my enemies. No longer content to spend his days sleeping on every available soft surface in the house, he has taken to "crouching" and "perching."

He perches on top of the fridge and waits for me to open the door. Then, with a yowl, he lurches forward toward my head just enough to make me jump out of my skin. I swear, the furry bastard laughs at me afterward.

He crouches on the counter by the phone, waiting for me to walk by. Then he reaches out with a paw (claws sheathed, though) and bats at me. If I turn and bat him back, he sits up on his hind legs and bats at me with both paws until one of us gives up.

He perches on the headboard of my bed after the girls come into my room in the middle of the night to snuggle. He perches, purring, until we're lulled by the sound, and then he launches himself onto me, chasing my feet under the blankets.

He crouches on a dining room chair, hidden and forgotten as I sit, typing on my laptop. When I shift and put my feet on the chair across from me, he latches onto them and gnaws...gently.

It's either cabin fever for housecats or a kitty mid-life crisis as he rediscovers his inner tiger.

Wretched Children

On nights when I have them at my house, they come down in the middle of the night, 3 am or so, and climb into bed with me. I know I need to nip this in the bud, but I keep rationalizing it by saying that it's still early in the separation and if they feel that they need my comfort, then I'll let them. It works, too... as long as they sleep. Half the time it seems as though they view this time as "Playtime with Mommy." Hell no. Not at 3 am. Despite my inability to get back to sleep, I still don't need to deal with the two monsters arguing over who got a better piece of mommy that time.

Last night I had to kick them both out of bed, fix the blankets and the pillows and then get back in bed, this time, in the middle, and then ordered them to pick a side. Just as they'd settled down, the cat came waltzing in. He batted at my hair, and chased my toes, to the delight of the girls. Finally, all nestled up against me, he snoozed, purring; my girls nodded off, clutching their blankets; I, on the other hand, lay there, eyes wide open, staring at the shadows on the ceiling until it was time to get up and start another day.

Friday, March 9, 2007


The Axis of Impishness and I have maintained a cease-fire this week, though I fear an outbreak in hostilities will be forthcoming this weekend. There was a slight incursion at 5 o'clock EST this morning when the 4 year-old kicked me repeatedly in the ribs as she tried to get "comfortable." The furry one attempted to take over my pillow and distracted me with numerous tail-lashes to the face. These events are likely to increase, since the s2bx has a conference down in DC, leaving me with the girls all weekend. In a pre-emptive strike, I am predicting early bedtimes for all small mammals in the vicinity (yes, I'm a Mean Mommy), although I suspect that the Axis will be launching an assault on all fronts sometime in the wee hours of Sunday morning in retaliation.

For your reference, here is a photo of 2/3 of the Axis: Lucy and Cheetah. Cheetah is the one with the whiskers. Don't let their cute and fuzzy exterior fool you: they are pure impish evil.

Friday, March 2, 2007

A battle won, but the war is still up for grabs

Caving unexpectedly much to my surprise, Cheetah ate all of his new cat food.

A-ha! I emerge victorious, or... did I? Could this be simply a strategic withdrawal to give me a false sense of superiority?

In a bold move, Cheetah has allied himself with Natalie and Lucy; Bush has his Axis of Evil, I have the Axis of Impishness. Late last night, they all crept into my bed and pestered me for hours until I banished them. Nevertheless, their plan worked, and sleep eluded me. Those wretched beasts know no mercy. I may retaliate later on with more banishments so I can get in a quick nap.

They count on their youth, boundless energy, extremely sharp claws and a proclivity for perching and pouncing, while I must rely solely on my superior size, the craftiness that comes with age and my ace in the hole- the fact that I am the One Who Feeds Them.

What is their aim in all of this? As I said yesterday, I suspect that Cheetah has his eyes on my luscious liver. But my girls... what could they possibly get out of this? Perhaps they just enjoy being wretched children.

Stay tuned, more updates from the front to come.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Guess who's back to his old shenaningans?

He's at it Again!

"Who?" you ask. "The s2bx? God? The Mailman?"

No, its Cheetah, of the Crouching Tabby fame, the furry little bastard.

Forgive me the anthropomorphizing here, but this cat has a real personality. Now we're down to a true battle of wills, and I, for one, am not going to cave to some green-eyed, ginger-haired devil, no matter how nice it is to have him lying against my stomach when I nap.

He doesn't like his new dry cat food. I bought it specifically for the health of his teeth and gums, since he's prone to problems, and he's "resistant" to having his teeth brushed. Ok, you little jerk, eat this special food since you don't want me to slip on that toothbrush condom-thingy and scrape your teeth. Believe me, I have no desire to do it. If I'd wanted to be a kitty-dentist, I'd have gone to Kitty Dentist School. Yeah. The furry menace tried to bite me the last time I attempted it. Ok then, new food. Ha!

Well, he finds the new dry food offensive. He knocks one piece of kibble out of his dish and then bats it around, chasing it through the kitchen, living room and dining room. I think he purposely aims it at my feet just to annoy me. I ignore it, much like I ignore my 4 year-old's whininess. When that doesn't work, he knocks a few pieces into his water dish, where they bloat up like revolting sponges - ok, I can't really blame him for not wanting to eat it, but I bought it, so tough. With the disgusting little kibble-balloons bobbing in his water dish, he can't drink his water.

funny pictures of cats with captions

Still, I do not take the hint as he sees it, so he perches on the counter right behind where I'm seated, green cat eyes boring holes into the back of my neck, and meows plaintively from time to time, just to remind me of his plight. Whenever I get up, he's there, weaving a figure eight between my ankles as I dash to the thermos for more coffee. Is he hoping that if I trip and knock myself unconscious I'll wake up ready to go to the store for some Friskies or MeowMix or something? Maybe he's planning on snacking on me. *shudder*

Sorry, buster. I'm digging in my heels. Eventually, you will get hungry/desperate enough to eat it, just like my girls' hunger eventually outweighs their distate for the green veggies I put in their pasta. I'm a Mean Mommy, and and I'm a Mean Cat Owner. Suck it up and deal, kids. You're not winning this battle.

Friday, February 23, 2007

God help me, I'm turning into my parents!

I just uttered the following words:

"You two are this close to spending the rest of the day in your rooms!"

It's official: I have become my parents.

This is the last day of the school's winter break (THANK GOD), and I'm beginning to understand in a real and very frightening way why it is that some mammals kill and eat their young. It's not because they're hungry, oh no; rather, it's because the little ones are a pain in the ass at times.

Gee, you're thinking, what a simply awful thing for a mother to say about her own kids!

Yep. Go ahead and call CPS. I dare you. I double-dare you! Call them. I'll even give you the number.

I had to take them to the grocery store with me this morning, and the two of them just would not stop poking each other and whining. Oh my God, I swear I thought I was going to blow an aneurysm in my head. The cashier was laughing at me, but in that "Hey, it's ok, I have a couple of bratty kids too" sort of way, so I could deal with that and not rip her throat out.

Even now, after they've been breakfasted and are watching Dragon Tales, the whining has not ceased. Now, I know that their bad behavior lately is largely a ploy for negative attention. The therapist says that they're likely more badly behaved for me because they feel more secure in my love for them, blah-blah-blah. I'm sick of it.

Every time I sit down with my stack of journal articles (now culled down to 6), to begin fleshing out my research paper, "something" happens. Whether it's a mini-flood in the upstairs bathroom, to a shower of 378 Cheerios all over the living room floor, it's always something that requires my immediate attention, a scolding, and an appropriate punishment.

I ask them if they behave like this for their dad. They say no. He says no. Nope. Mommy is the lucky beneficiary of this misbehavior, so once again, for the umpteenth time, I have to stop what I'm doing, making sure to hit ctrl-s to save it, get up, and kick some ass. Ok, so maybe not that severe. There is always a loss of privvies and time spent in their room, reflecting on their misdeeds. (ok, that bit was pure sarcasm)

I always try to take a break from what I'm doing to spend some "positive" time with them, reading to them, sometimes just cuddling with them on the couch, coloring with them etc. But lately with all of my coursework, I've had more to deal with and less time, but I still make sure that the evenings they're here are 100% Mommy-Daughters time before they go to bed. Still, I get the constant misbehavior when I'm doing something else, reading, writing, studying. It could get worse, too.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Anyone know a good babysitter?

Today for lunch, being the Good Mommy that I am always conscious of my kids' nutritional well-being, I made the girls grilled ham & cheese sandwiches (or sammiches for the purists out there), tomato soup and a side of fresh fruit, with their choice of milk, water or chocolate milk.

Mommy's lunch, on the other hand, consisted of a Diet Coke with Lime, 5 200-mg tablets of Ibuprofen and 1-mg of Klonopin. If that doesn't kill my headache or at least make me ignore it, then nothing will. Later this afternoon, I plan to bribe my children with the promise of ice cream after supper if they will just let me nap for a bit this afternoon.

I'm sure that the child-free of you out there are appalled at my parenting techniques.


Some parents out there must be equally disgusted.

Um, ok.

While you're muttering about my horrendous abilities, if you could shoot me over the name of a cheap, reliable, non-pedophilic baby-sitter in my neighborhood, that would be swell. Believe it or not bribery has its place. I used to be anti-bribery, thinking that kids ought to do what was right because it was the right thing to do.

Ok, stop laughing.

Now, if the promise of a pre-bedtime movie, a small dish of ice cream or 2 homemade chocolate chip cookies can guarantee me two hours of relative peace, then I say screw the naysayers... unless they're volunteering to babysit my kids for me.