Saturday, September 26, 2009

Adventures of Pneumonia

K brought Ben home to me a day early this week. With a diagnosis of pneumonia. And orders from the doctor not to return to school or to any extracurricular activity for five days. Oh yeah, and my mom left town.

I canceled or re-scheduled nearly all of my clients and classes. I dug out the cough syrup with codeine. I bought a new Honey Bear to use as a "chaser" for that god-awful antibiotic I checked the movie listings. I called friends for advice. I didn't sleep much. I wondered how a fever could last for so. many. freaking. days. I realized that I have tremendous friends, who bend over backwards to offer support and help. I fell in love with my sweet boy, all over again.

My eyes are burning with fatigue as I write this but I'm grateful, once again, to have had three full days and four nights with Ben. Divorce does that to you; makes you appreciate otherwise worrisome things, like pneumonia.

On Wednesday, we went to see the movie "Up." Halfway into the movie, Ben crawled into my lap, set his feet up on the seat in front of him, and reclined back so that his head could settle onto my (bony) chest. I didn't think he was quite grasping the storyline of the husband living out a dream, in memory of his deceased wife, until the scene of the husband looking at photos of his wife. Ben turned around, looked at me and said, "Mommy, he really misses her." I didn't need a tissue earlier in the movie, but I definitely needed it then.

We left the movie to hit McDonalds for what I call a "crack coffee" (that would be for me, not for Ben) and an ice cream cone. No more than ten licks into the cone, Ben passed it to me and said, "Mommy, I'm too cold for this." Now that is the sign of a sick kid. No question.

Thursday found us back at the same theater, this time in "Ice Age 3." Ben's pick. Once again, midway into the movie, Ben slithered across his seat, straight into my lap, and assumed the reclined position. Leaving the theater, he proclaimed "Ice Age" his favorite of the two movies.

This particular theater is located in a mall, so we strolled the mall after the movie, in search of (more) coffee and a treat. We didn't find a Starbucks but we did find a coffee kiosk where I was able to order my several-shots-of-espresso beverage. I hoisted Ben up so that he could see the different kinds of cookies. "No thank you, Mommy," he said. Turning to the barrista, he then said, "I'll just have a Gatoraide." The barrista looked shocked. Sick kid, indeed.

I then dragged Ben into Macys in search of a foundation. Normally, this would be a feat that I'd never attempt given that he, like most other males, loathes shopping. On a mission to get a decent foundation quickly, I went straight to the prettiest girls with the best looking make-up. Yup, the MAC counter. There was an empty high-backed stool which is where I placed Ben and then I told the pretty girl to find the best color for me, please. We walked out of Macys in under five minutes. With only one item. Miraculous.

Well, it would have been five minutes except that Ben developed a sudden fascination with the fragrance area of the store and insisted that I lap the entire department and spray every perfume for him to smell. I have to say, the kid has great taste in fragrance! Who knew? We decided that most of the Estee Lauder line is "stinky" and we concluded that "Daisy" is the best smell in the entire world.

I couldn't do another movie on Friday because I really, really needed to work at least a little bit. So my fabulous friend Linda dropped her kids off at school and then came to pick up mine. I gave Ben strict orders not to bother her and to play alone. Nicely. Quietly. Being the only child that he is, he followed the last two instructions rather well, the first not so much.

As a thank-you, I picked Linda's son up from school and took both boys to Target where they picked out GX Racers and then proceeded to run away from me (admittedly, I was a little distracted by all the great new fall clothes). I circled the women's, men's and children's sections and then began to panic. Seconds later, I heard Ben crying, from the front of the store. Loudly. Both boys were standing very far away from where I had been admiring the fall clothing line-up. Several adults were hovering. Security had just been called. Ben looked terrified. His buddy looked like the Cheshire cat that just swallowed the bird. I was furious. If I was a strict mom, I would have confiscated the GX Racers right then and there. But discipline is not my strong suit. Obviously. Housework, however, is!

Once settled back at home with threats of "if you ever do that again, I will take away every last Hot Wheel in this house and donate the whole lot to Goodwill," I taught Ben the fine art of Swiffering. Which he took to quite well, I might add. I think that this could become his permanent job in the house which would mean that his list of household jobs would now amount to a whopping three and we would be about 5% accomplished on the Kindergarten home task list.

I can't say that the last four nights have been restful for either of us. Sharing a house, and a wall with a pneumatic child is like sleeping with a freight train running through the backyard. Just not restful at all. That is one serious cough. I'm not sure what the maximum amount of recommended codeine is for a 60 pound, nearly-6-year-old, but I am fairly certain that we exceeded it every night.

Ben's dad picked him up today. I was sad. And I still am. Ben is growing up too fast. I almost need a serious bout of illness - regularly - to be able to push the Pause button on my own life and fully dedicate my attention to him.

I believe that Ben thought he was on vacation this week. He certainly talked more about our activities of the last four days then the entire week he spent at Disney World with his dad. He's still going on about the movies, the GX Racers, the long nights of reading, the getting to stay up past his bedtime and watch his new favorite, "Shaun the Sheep."

And I'm still wiped out. But it was worth it. I'd do it again next week. Which might be the case, according to the doctor, if that damn fever doesn't break soon!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

No Regrets

I'm beginning to covet my weekends with Ben in such a way that I don't want to do anything else except be with him. Healthy? I'm not sure. Let me explain:

Weekdays are a blur at our house when I have Ben. It's up early, hurry to pack lunches and gather work items, drive to school, drive home or to the club, see clients until lunchtime, drive back to school, drive home, unpack lunch, assignments, school communications, have a snack, re-pack gym back for evening work, pass Ben off to my mom with dinner instructions, fly out the door in the late afternoon for evening sessions, hurry home to give Ben his bath, his reading time, and tuck him in. Clean up the kitchen, confirm clients for the next day, fold laundry, return emails and fall into bed. Repeat for three days. The only exception to this schedule is when we have soccer and that gets even harrier, as far as logistics go.

I don't feel like myself during the week. I don't know who I feel like but I don't like her very much. Not grounded, edgy, short-tempered, always looking toward the next deadline: "Where do I have to be and when?"

Labor Day weekend was the first weekend I've had with Ben since school started. It was a busy weekend, filled with kid-centered activities, but in retrospect, I realized how much we both needed that time together. I think Ben acknowledged this too, when he said: "Mommy, I want to come back to the park with you next weekend alone. Just with you. No friends." And here I thought I was doing a good thing by giving him lots of play time with his good friend, Ean. I underestimate how much 5-year-olds also need one-on-one time.

I feel like I'm making some pretty heavy decisions for myself right now relative to time. Time that I have with Ben, particularly. There's nothing that can give me the satisfaction that I get from spending time with him. For a long time, I felt like I was looking, always searching for someone, something that could "stand in" for the time that I spend without Ben. And I have yet to find it.

Labor Day weekend brought me some clarity. I can't ever get this time back. As fun as it might be to schedule an exciting date or run off to San Francisco for a yoga class, that decision means I'll miss something. It might only be a re-run of "Tom and Jerry" or a dinner of grilled cheese and I know it sounds drastic to curtail my social activities so that I can have time with my son but it's also the way that my heart is leading me.

When I dropped Ben off at school on Tuesday morning, I got back in the car and choked back tears. I hate saying good-bye to that cute little guy, I hate sharing him. But I also had the sense that I had given so much over the weekend that there was nothing, absolutely nothing at all, to regret about our time together. Despite the sadness, I'll take many, many more weekends like that.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Ben's Wish For Our Next Vacation

Ben's dad, notorious for being as impulsive as they come, was completing a Disney World stint with Ben this summer and was all set to fly home, bags checked through to Sacramento, when United presented an offer he couldn't refuse: "Fly to DC for the night and we'll give you two free travel vouchers and send you back to California tomorrow." Never mind that Ben was exhausted from traipsing around Disney for five days; K (Ben's dad) sprinted up to the podium in record time, procured two new boarding passes and spent the 12 hours in our country's capital.

And Ben can't stop talking about it.

"How was Disney World?" I asked when they returned home. "What was your favorite part?" "Washington DC!" Ben told me. WTF.

Ben went on to tell me that the hotel in DC had a super-fantastic-incredible aquatic center with a water slide. I pushed harder: "What was your favorite ride at Disney?" "The waterslide," he told me. "At your Disney hotel?" I asked him. "NO MOM! THE WATERSLIDE AT THE WASHINGTON DC HOTEL!"

OK, ok. I got it.

It's been two months since the trip and Ben asks me every day when I will take him to Washington DC. This morning, I finally gave in. "FINE! We'll go to the waterslide in Washington DC. We'll go over spring break." Of course I'm telling myself during this whole conversation that I better get damn creative with my airline miles since I just cashed in my last two awards this week for a trip to New York without Ben.

I decided to test out his commitment to DC one last time. We were in the car, always a good time to chat since he's buckled in, held captive, and has to engage at least a tiny bit. "Tell you what," I said. "We can go to Washington DC OR GET THIS...we can take a friend and go to all the amusement parks in Southern California!" Did I mention that I am Mrs. Rockefeller?

Silence in the backseat. Oh shit, what have I gotten myself into? Didn't we decide that camping qualified as a vacation?

"WASHINGTON DC!" he yells in a voice loud enough to stop traffic.

It's one thing to get to DC on award miles; given my spending habits, we'll be there by next week. However, it's quite another issue entirely when the hotel with the godforsaken waterslide is, by my ex's standards, "very expensive." After looking over the published rates on the web, I reasoned that we'd be better off staying at the Waldorf Astoria. Which I am not, by the way, during my upcoming trip to NYC. It is likely that if I was still married that the Waldorf would definitely be in my trip plans. But I'm not, and it's not.

So for now, I'm talking up the super exciting fun trip to Santa Cruz in October with Grandma. And getting this response: "Where's Santa Cruz? Is it near Washington DC?"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The Good Doctor

I finally feel like someone understands the magnitude of my sleep issue. Her name is Dr. S.

Dr. S came to me by way of a client referral. She is a renowned specialist of sleep and a sought after neurologist. She takes patients only by referrals and her policy is to interview a patient candidate to determine whether or not said candidate is worthy of paying her consultation fee, which is right up there with the amount of my mortgage payment. Then there is the waiting. It takes a good two to three months to get onto her calendar. Luckily, my client had some pull and I was able to see her just six weeks from my initial phone interview.

After spending almost three hours with Dr. S, I knew that any amount would have been worth it. She is a genius, remarkably brilliant and a scientist. She knew why every medication I've ever taken didn't work and carefully explained, in terms that I could understand, exactly why the approaches taken before were so unsuccessful.

I started to tear up in Dr. S's office because of her ability to empathize. I felt like she could see into every challenge I've had in my life that has been a direct result of being so damn tired. Many times, she'd make a connection: "So, if you're tired, then this probably happens. And this. And if you're REALLY tired, then you're experiencing this. Or this. Oh yes, dear. And that too."

I think she called me "dear" no less than 500 times. At the end, I got a "sweetie." I think it would have been a hug, under different circumstances, but she is a highly respected doctor, after all.

Dr. S gave me an assigned reading list, some research to look at and a follow-up appointment. She also gave me the best thing of all: a promise to help me rest. I keep hearing her departing words: "I will help you dear. I will figure this out for you."

Thank you, Dr. S.

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.