Sunday, April 26, 2009

I Have A New Nanny

...and a housekeeper. And a personal assistant.

Do you hate me yet? Don't. Because the aforementioned titles all belong to one individual who is now residing in my home and who goes by the name "Mom" or "Grandma Ghee."

My mom"officially" moved in on Friday. I didn't sleep at all on Thursday night.

Having your mother move in with you is a huge lesson in humility. I have been a bundle of nerves about the impending move for several weeks. And Ben, of course, has been beside himself with complete excitement. What could be better to a 5-year-old than having his beloved grandma with him all the time?

I have forgotten how noisy my mother can be in the kitchen. I have forgotten how much time it takes her in the morning to perform all the ritualistic things that she has to do before she can leave the house. I will probably forget what a quiet house actually sounds like.

There is an upside, though. Here's what was accomplished, not by me, but by my mother, in the space of just two days:

Laundry: Completely folded. Ben's clothes put away.

Bathroom cleaned.

Dog poop scooped.

Outside gardens watered. Some weeds pulled.

Groceries purchased.

Ben entertained for an hour while I worked.

Dishwasher unloaded.

Kitchen cleaned after challenging afternoon/evening with Ben and a fever

Stamps provided for outgoing bills.

I might start getting used to, and maybe even liking this new arrangement. Of course there is the small matter of her not allowing any overnight male visitors but by the way my dating life is going, this shouldn't be an issue at all.

So my take away lesson from all the anxiety of her move is this: there might be a stigma attached to having your mother live with you but there's certainly nothing to be ashamed of when the help is so plentiful. I'm cautiously optimistic.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Memo To My Ex

Dear K,

Character is a good thing to have. You should consider getting some.

Taking B to San Francisco for the weekend was a fabulous idea, particularly since you were able to introduce him to a wide range of cultural offerings, from a Giants game, to the new Exploratorium, capped off by an evening at the symphony. Of course, enjoying a room on Nob Hill most certainly added to the experience, I'm sure.

Truly, I am grateful that you are able to provide wonderful getaways for B. He always looks forward to those times with you and talks nearly non-stop, after arriving home, about the fun he's had.

So let me give you some advice here. Don't go and meet a woman and use the San Francisco trip as a way to introduce her to B. And please, above all else, try to remember that B is not a 43-year-old male and he does NOT need to learn how to get a woman into his bed on the first date.

It was hard enough when B didn't want to talk with me on the phone because he was smitten with his new friend, Dana. But then when he came home and announced that the new friend also SHARED A BED WITH HIM during the trip, while Daddy slept in the OTHER bed, was downright appalling.

You should know better.

I am not going to judge you. But I will show B, in the best way that I can and through my own actions, that having a moral compass is admirable.

I really needed to get this out. To say that my maternal feathers are a little ruffled right now is a huge understatement. I hope that you never have to feel the way that I did on Sunday night. Actually, I know that you never will because I am not cold-hearted enough to lose sight of what might be hurtful to you and I try to be mindful and respectful of your feelings in all situations.

In closing, thank you for the reminder of why we can't be together. Your impulsive nature and lack of regard for consequences always drove me crazy.

Please try to be more level-headed, even if you're not actually thinking with your head. B is constantly looking to you as his role model. Need I say more?


Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Scorpion

Yesterday, I had lunch with a dear friend whom I see way too infrequently. Lunch stretched into an entire afternoon without a moment lost on small talk (except for the brief and necessary exchanges that are required after not seeing someone for a year. Me: "I love your short hair. When did you get a Prius?" Her: "Your hair is so blond!")

Michelle was one of the first people I met when I moved to Sacramento. She's also the reason that I started practicing yoga. I went to her Saturday morning classes at a downtown studio near my apartment and I was hooked. I don't know exactly when our friendship began to evolve outside of the studio. I married, had a baby, crossed paths with Michelle at another studio in town, separated from my husband, heard through the "yoga grapevine"that Michelle had opened her own studio, put off going to see her for a full year, read that she was having a one year anniversary party at the studio, and packed B up that morning to re-connect with her.

After the anniversary celebration, our friendship began to bloom. We planned yoga road trips and hit the road together in search of great yoga classes and vegan restaurants. We attended a conference together and exchanged notes and ideas after each session. We drove to Ojai and experienced a weekend that was sublime in every sense, from the magical yoga setting to the over-the-top food and endless shopping. It seems like we talked non-stop, on the drive there and back home and every moment in between (that is, when we weren't eating!).

I could devote an entire post to my gratitude towards Michelle and the awe that I have in her ability to draw people into her warm grace. She's talented, wise beyond her years, and genuinely engaged and interested in her large circle of yoga devotees. I always walk away from my time with her feeling inspired. Such was the case yesterday.

Towards the middle of our afternoon together, Michelle told me about a yoga retreat that she recently led in Costa Rica. Twenty-one people came together in the remote jungle at a secluded retreat center to practice twice daily and to enjoy quiet meditation and reflection, as well as the beauty of Costa Rica. Michelle coordinated the logistics, planned and taught the yoga classes, and dealt with all the complaints and issues that inevitably come up while traveling within a group in a foreign country. "And I had my own drama..." she began.

She went on to tell me that the accommodations, while being very adequate, were extremely open. That is, open to all the critters and creatures that inhabit the Costa Rican jungles. I personally love this about Costa Rica. Sure, Maui has beautiful beaches but have you ever seen a howler monkey outside your hotel room in Hawaii? Not likely. Costa Rica is a country to behold for its wildlife. From a safe distance, that is.

Michelle told me about the frogs, lizards and bugs that wandered into her tent cabin at all hours. And I should clarify here that a tent cabin is definitely not as rustic as it sounds. She even had her own private bathroom.

Anyway, here's the crux of the story. Michelle is taking her shower one morning before the day's first yoga class and her gaze wanders to the area above the faucet where she thinks that she sees a frog. "That's an interesting frog," she says to herself and turns around to grab the soap. Turning back toward the faucet, she casually glances up and as she puts it: "nearly shit my pants!" There, basking in the warm steam of her shower, is the "frog," which has morphed into an enormous scorpion, tail and all, in the space of a moment.

Any other female may have screamed bloody murder and ran out of the shower, shampoo still lathered up. But not Michelle. Keeping an eye on the scorpion, she quickly finished her shower, managing to get all the shampoo out of her hair (but I'm quite sure that she didn't do any kind of deep conditioning treatment!) and was on the yoga deck, ten minutes later, ready to lead class.

Michelle reported the scorpion siting to the retreat owner and then returned to her room in the afternoon to locate the spider. Gone. As easily as the scorpion had entered her life, it had slipped away.

Several retreat attendees took sympathy and offered to share their insect-free rooms for the next few evenings. She accepted their offers and was able to sleep more restfully.

Upon returning to her own room, several nights later, Michelle sent out a little telepathic message to the spider. Knowing Michelle it was something poetic and eloquent but let's just say it went something like this: "Look Scorpion, I know you're here with me. Let's just exist on our own sides of the room and respect each other's space."

Michelle didn't see the spider again until her birthday, which happened to fall on a day during the retreat. The retreat owner brought her an envelope. "Here is your gift," she said. She then added, "But you can't keep it."

Perplexed, Michelle looked in the envelope. I don't need to tell you what was inside.

The resort owner told Michelle that the spider had been killed earlier in the day and that it was, indeed, the largest scorpion that she had ever seen. "You wouldn't have died if it had bitten you," she stated. "But," she went on, "it would have been very painful."

I came home yesterday thinking about the scorpions in my own life and how if I can't get rid of them, I have to learn to peacefully co-exist with them.

Right now, there are a lot of hairy, nasty, ugly scorpions in my life. The whole situation of my mom moving in is kind of like a scorpion. Not that she's the scorpion, but it's less than ideal and certainly not how I envisioned things to be. B is definitely a scorpion right now. No question about that. Any child who gets up before 5am and spews venom on his tired and well-meaning mother is right up there with the most heinous of spiders. Romantic relationship (or lack thereof), financial struggles, demanding clients...they're all scorpions, in one way or another.

As is always the case, Michelle shared some of her brilliance with me and I came away with a piece of her in my heart and a lesson to be learned.

I'm going to go practice my Scorpion pose now. It is, in fact, the hardest of all yoga poses; one that I've never mastered but to no surprise, it is a pose that my friend, Michelle executes perfectly.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Gender Differences

One day last week, I had a slew of errands to run. My mom and B came with me. B burned out on the "to do" list once we had completed our grand tour of the local Wal-Mart. My mom sat in the backseat with him and proceeded to deploy various entertainment strategies while I ran in and out of Bed, Bath and Beyond, the health food store, and the hardware store. Things were getting a little unruly in the backseat which prompted my mom to ask: "Do you have anything I could read to him?"

"Sure," I said, rummaging through the gym gear on the floor of the passenger side. "Would you like Time magazine? Or perhaps US News? Maybe the Wall Street Journal?"

But what I actually came up with was quite different than the aforementioned publications. "Well, here's an issue of US Weekly. Wait, that's no good. Anna Nicole Smith is on the cover; that's old news. What else is here? Cosmo? No, I don't think that I want B learning about the 99 best sex tricks. In Style? Hmmm, that seems pretty harmless."

Mom and B began to peruse In Style and I could hear my mother saying things like, "All the girls in here have sparkly dresses. And high heels." "Long hair," B observed. This continued on for quite some time and then B asked, "Where are the men in this magazine?" To which my mom said, "I don't really see any yet." Flip, flip flip went the pages. And then:

"There's one," B stated. "I see one. Right there, THERE'S a man!"

I looked over my shoulder while my mom laughed out loud. And here is the "man" that B was pointing to:

Monday, April 6, 2009

Getting To Know My 5-Year-Old

When my ex recently dropped the news that he'd booked a trip to Maui and I'd be "on shift" for 12 days straight with B, including five full days of spring break, my initial reaction was nothing short of complete shock. Left to coordinate the details of child care, there were many times, initially, when the idea of parenting without much of a break seemed completely daunting.

Now I'm realizing what a gift K, my ex, gave me.

During the last six months, I've been so caught up in my relationship, my business, my sleeplessness, my mom moving in, my everything, that I've failed, in a small but profound way, to slow down and revel in the sweetness of my son.

Keeping a daily routine has been so much of my focus lately. Cover this time period while I work, be here at this time to get B from school, be sure to have homework completed by bed, etc etc etc. And somewhere in the midst of the coordinating and scheduling and negotiating, I stopped connecting with him in the way that I want to connect - as a mother to her son.

So over the last two weeks, I stopped and took some time to re-discover the lighthearted side of parenting. And to be fair, what I'm about to share may only be of interest to B's grandma. But at least I have some special times to reflect back on. Here is what I discovered about my son:

He cracks me up.
One night the dog jumped up on the couch, looked over at me, proceeded to turn twice and drop onto the cushion with the typical Lab look of, "I'm so dumb that I can do this right in front of you." B literally fell on the floor, clutching his stomach with laughter. He laughed so hard that he couldn't catch his breath. I laughed right along with him. The next day, he watched a monster truck show at my friend, Shelley's house. She has Dish, we do not. When we came home, B asked, "Mommy, can we please trade TVs with Shelley?" Funny boy, he is.

He's babyish and boyish, all at the same time.
We're walking out the door. I have my gym bag and files. B has his backpack and his lunch. I tell him to grab a water bottle on the way out. "I can't Mommy," he tells me. "I'm full of hands." The very same day I tell him we're going to McDonald's to play. Indignantly, he states, "I'm am TOO old to play there." Then, "But I will take a Happy Meal. Do you think I can get the Spiderman toy?" And later that night: "Mommy, tell me about the mistakes you've made." I ask, "The mistakes I've made today?" "No," he tells me. "The mistakes you've made in your LIFE." Really? Do Happy Meal toys and tales of divorce go together?

He is a hopelessly in love with the dog.
Molly, our Lab, could possibly be the best thing that's ever happened to B. Normally, the dog accompanies us on our trips back and forth from school. One day, I didn't have time to go and get the dog before pick-up. B and I are walking to the car, through the school parking lot. B peers in the back window. "Where's the girl?" he asks. And again: "Mommy, where's OUR girl?" At bedtime, he wants Molly in her bed. In his doorway. As I am leaving his room, it's become a custom for B to jump out of bed and say that he "needs one more pet of her soft ears." He then showers her nose with kisses and reiterates to me: "You WILL leave her there all night, right? And don't shut my door. I need to SEE her." Recently, he's started to tell me, "Molly is my favorite. You're my second favorite, but she's my first." I don't find this to be threatening at all. I love that he has bonded with her.

I get on his nerves as much as he gets on mine.
In an effort to break up the monotony of two long Saturdays, we had B's friend, Ean over. Ean and B played non-stop on both days. At the end of both Saturdays, after dropping Ean off, we had the same conversation in the car. B starts to cry. "Mommy, I love Ean. And I love Lauren. And all my playgroup friends. I want them to live with me. I don't want to play alone anymore." "But I'm here to play with you, honey, I remind him. "It's NOT the same," he tells me. "You are not as fun. You have too much work to do. I get tired of playing with you." Crying increases. "I just love my friends so much. Why can't one of them come and live with me?"

He's becoming frighteningly inquisitive.
I thought that the "mistakes" question was hard. Then he hit my mom with this: "Grandma Ghee, why doesn't the Easter bunny look like Sherman, the rabbit at school?" My mom chose the honest and direct approach: "Because it's not a rabbit at all. It's a man dressed in a costume." I think I need to apologize in advance to all the Kindergarten parents because this is news that B absolutely cannot keep to himself. At least Easter will have passed once school resumes.

He surprises me with his good behavior.
We have made it to church or "big church" as B knows it, several weeks in a row. We're up to one hour of sitting quietly in the pew, using a "church mouse" voice. Not one incident. Even when the entire contents of a Crayola art set (that would be approximately 118 crayons, 42 colored pencils, 19 pens, and one pair of scissors) came crashing to the floor. I think that the donut incentive is working out quite well.

I do believe that he loves me as much as I love him.
During my single parenting stint, I developed the worst cold/flu bug of all time. I cannot remember a time when I was so sick. I lost my voice for three days straight and coughed my lungs up, all the while blowing through two boxes of Klee-nex. B responded by making me get well cards and laying in bed with me. Then I developed tendinitis. The cards continued. And then the gifts came. Gifts from the school playground, also known as garbage to most people. Apparently, B now uses much of his recess time to search for treasures for his beloved mother. He covertly slips a rock, a used up sticker, a piece of rope into his pocket and then whispers to me at pick-up, "Mommy, I have another present for you."

About halfway into our stetch of time together, he said, "Mommy, I love the time I spend with you so much. I never want to leave you." I think my heart split open, wide open, at that moment, to the wondrous and limitless joys of motherhood. And I'm reminded, yet again, of the teeny, tiny window when this child will be mine to treasure for all of his sweetness.

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Newest Fashion Accessory

I wish that I could take a picture of the lovely new boot that I acquired today, but I dropped my camera and broke it as I was attempting to hobble into my home last night after a day of limping around the Stockton Childrens Museum.

The boot is very tall...tall boots are in vogue right now, right? And gray. With three velrco straps. Oh, and an inflater to ensure the perect fit. And I'm sure that it's worth a lot of money or at least my insurance company will say it is, once I get the bill for it next month.

I have tendonitis. In my anterior tibialisis. Which is right around my ankle; a very unusual place to get tendonitis, or so says the orthopedic physican who examined my leg today.

"You are a special one," he told me. "Uhhh, thank you?" I replied. Then: "Now quit charming me and please fill the syringe with cortisone right now and make this excrutiating pain, which is now radiating up to my knee and causing me to lose a lot of money because I can't stand/walk/ hardly breath - go away." "Ahhhhhh, welllllll, no," he said, "Too risky for that tendon. Strange place for tendonitis. Are you a hurdler?" "No, I'm a walker," I replied. "I only hurdle when my dog pukes in the house and I need to jump over the mess." "Special, indeed," he said.

No injection for me. Instead, I have the god-awful ski boot, an appointment for a MRI and a referal for several weeks worth of physical therapy. At least he gave me some decent painkillers. Anything rated for "severe" pain is bound to be good, right?

Hard to believe that today I am supposed to be on a plane, bound for Florida with S and his kids, to spend six days at Disney. At least I now have a legitimate reason for not going. And a doctor's note too.

Truth be told, there were a number of reasons that I couldn't go, notwithstanding the fact that S and I broke up. First, there was the nasty flu bug that ripped my vocal cords out. Then, the hours of work that I missed since you actually have to have a "working" voice to do my job. And let's not forget the camera incident...who goes to Disney without a camera? Now this - the inability to walk more than ten steps without falling to my knees and begging God for mercy.

On a happier note, my stepmom went along with the original plan to take B for two nights, despite the cancelled Disney trip, thus giving me a much needed break from my loooooonnnnggggg stint of single parenting. And the Childrens Museum was quite a hit. That place is one redeeming quality of god-awful Stockton. B had a grand time, documented by my now defunct Olympus and is now talking my stepmom into hours of television time, lots of spending in the toy aisle and nights out for pizza.

So for my "night off", I popped in a Netflix without consulting the title. "Nights In Rodanthe." I'm going to say-god awful for the third time in this post. I must have put the movie in my queue for Mom because no way would I waste two precious child free hours on that train wreck. Especially on the heels of a break-up. Note to self: read reviews before placing movies in queue and certainly consult the title of selected DVD before committing two hours of your life to mindless Hollywood crap.

My life kinda resembles The Twilight Zone this week. And now I get to tromp around in a ski boot and hope that I get lots and lots of sympathy.