Monday, October 26, 2009

Vacation Aftermath

We just went to the beach for four days. Me, my mom, Ben, my friend "J", my sis and her fiance. We had a lot of laughs. A fair amount of food. Some wine. Great dinners. Sunshine. Beach time. Family time.

Good times.

If it was so great, then why am I so sad this week?

I'll tell you why: the house is really quiet without Ben and I am missing him quite a lot.

Getting to be mom for four solid days is exhausting, but amazing at the same time. During a four day block when we are actually away from home and free from the distractions of work, school and household chores, I really get to re-connect with my little boy. I get to see him from the moment he wakes up to the final "tuck-in" at bedtime. All the minutes in the day are mine - to watch him, to laugh with him, to love him.

Then the vacation ends and not only is it anticlimactic because suddenly we're thrown back into windy and dry Sacramento and not enjoying beautiful sunsets with a glass of wine anymore, but Ben is off to his dad's for another seemingly long stretch of "Dad" time.

I wonder sometimes if I'll ever get used to this life. Probably not. I think, no, I believe that I was put on this earth to be a Mom. So to wear the Motherhood hat only 50% of the time can feel like a huge disappointment and often has me mired in sadness, a feeling that I force myself to shake - sometimes successfully, sometimes not.

If I really pause and let myself quietly reflect on my role as a Mom, I can tap into the gratitude of having a healthy, bright, funny, sensitive, and loving child. Some people will never have that opportunity and to have it, even in a smaller capacity than I would like, is likely the greatest blessing and the most profound gift I will ever receive.

But divorce still sucks.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Voices Off. PLEASE.

My son doesn't have an "Off" switch. Except when he's asleep, only then, he's coughing like an old man.

When I picked him up from school last week, the teacher called out, "Voices off, please." By last night, after a full two weekend days of being solo mommy, I was begging, "Voices off, for the love of God, VOICES OFF!"

You have a child and you yearn for the day that he or she will speak. You celebrate the words, the sentences, their crazy, idealized way of putting thoughts together verbally. And then they never stop talking. You hold your head. You beg for quiet time. You try to explain to your childless friend, whom you have met for lunch, why your own child never stops speaking. Something about being an only child. Being a spirited child. Being six. You run out of excuses and order extra food for the child so that you can at least talk with your friend for five minutes without constant interruption.

The noise continues. Through Target. Through the grocery store. You get stares along with looks of sympathy. The volume goes up in the car. For the full hour that it takes to get home from the lunch outing. You feel your sanity slowly, ever so slowly, slipping away until you pull over the car, take the child's face in your hands and as lovingly as you can, say: "Please stop talking. Please listen to the music. Please look out the window. Please do anything that doesn't involve moving your lips."

I am not exaggerating. My mom walked in from her evening out last night and found me, on the couch, in a catatonic state. "What's wrong?" she asked. I could barely piece together a full sentence: "No words, please, no words. No noise. MUST. HAVE. QUIET. TIME. NOW.

She actually agreed that the non-stop chatter has gone a little too far. "You don't want him to grow up to be an adult who talks all the time," she advised. No I certainly do not.

Starting today, we are going to have periods of quiet time. I'm not asking for much; just a mere 15 minutes every few hours would do my emotional state a whole lot of good.

Last night, Ben spent the last 30 minutes of his after dinner play time attacking me on the couch. Full blown body attacks. Monster style attacks. Never mind the hot cup of tea that I had freshly brewed to enjoy on the couch.

I know that someday I'll yearn for the time that he actually wanted to speak with me at any length but for now, I'm investing my money in lollipops and Advil and hoping that he can develop great respect for the timer that is about to come into his life this afternoon.

Wish me luck.

PS. What is up with pneumonia? Does it ever go away??? When he wasn't talking, Ben was coughing - all weekend long. We're seeing the doctor - for the third time in a month - tomorrow.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Little Dose of Reality

I had a great date today. We went to Napa for the afternoon and had lunch at a fabulous restaurant, Tra Vigne. We drank Prosecco and ate pizza with goat cheese and figs. Had good conversation. Laughed a lot. Enjoyed perfect October weather. Left the reality of Sacramento and single parenting for a few hours (we are both single parents to small children).

Fast forward to the return trip home. Bad timing and traffic jams on 80 resulted in some last minute plan changes. I canceled my Thursday night clients. My date stopped to pick up his daughter before dropping me off, instead of after, as planned. No big deal with the child; we've met before and she's young enough (3) to believe that I'm just a work friend.

Things were rolling along just fine. The 3-year-old played with my Blackberry and told me about her birthday plans. We stopped at Rite Aid so that my date could get some Bendadryl for her. She and I hung out in the backseat, looking at pictures of Molly and Ben on my phone.

Easy. Seamless.

Then we pulled into my driveway. Meeting my mom seemed like a natural way to end the date (we had the 3-year-old in tow, so things had to stay pretty innocent anyway). The three of us walked up to the front door and as I was pulling out my house key, I caught the stench of something burning. Badly. And then the unmistakable sound of my house alarm going off. Loudly. Relentlessly.

Convinced that one of my mom's Halloween candles had ignited one of her goblins, spider webs, or other Halloween crap, (I do mean "decorations"), I threw open the door and ran in.

Fortunately, the house was intact and the item that was causing the horrible burning smell and the ruckus was none other than a scorched Marie Callendar's chicken pot pie. But, of course.

Mom, meet my date. I'll be back in the bedroom, dying a slow death of embarrassment and pondering how life can take you from a lovely lunch in the Napa Valley to burned chicken pot pie in the mere course of just a few hours.

Bon appetit.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

6 on 6

Today is my sweet boy's birthday. His lucky birthday: he's 6 on October 6th.

I can't believe that just six years ago, I went from screaming bloody murder and enduring the worst pain of my life one minute (well, actually, make that about 38 hours and a few random minutes) to being swept up in the most overwhelming current of love, bliss and pure awe the next moment.

Welcome to the miracle of childbirth.

To commemorate Ben's "lucky birthday," I've decided to pen the story of his birth. If I wait any longer, I'll certainly repress more of those fine moments ("For the 11th time, I'm telling you: the epidural is NOT WORKING!!) and I risk forgetting the the things that made Ben's arrival so special ("I'm telling you - that baby just smiled; I know he smiled at me! Damn, did you see the size of those feet? No way, he can't weigh that much...really? Double-check that!")

So consider yourself fair warned (Dad!) about the next entry. It's gonna be long and it'll certainly be a bit gruesome (show me a labor story that isn't!) This was no scheduled C-section, nor was it a "Oh honey, I think it's time..." kinda labor. Ben had a plan (he's always been stubborn like that) and he entered this world on his terms and in his own special, albeit, superincrediblyhorrificpainful kinda way.

In the meantime, happy birthday to my beloved boy! I love you with all that I am. Thank you for choosing me to be your Mommy.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Month In Review, By Ben. Or, "How I Drove My Mother To Drink Heavily Every Night"

Hi, it's Ben! I'm my mother's guest blogger for the week because she's in bed, hiding under a blanket, saying something to the effect of "Please God, never let September repeat itself again."
I don't know what the heck she's talking about; I had a GREAT month and thought I'd share some of the highlights...

Here I am, back at the Del Norte pool, practicing my fabulous swim skills. My mom took me to the pool nearly every day this summer, even in September. I got to take several friends with me and my mom even jumped in on most days. I don't really understand this, but every time that she came into the pool, she made me promise to not splash her. Something about her expensive hair-do. I'm sure I'll discuss it with my therapist someday: "My mom always took me swimming but would never go underwater. What's that all about?" (note to Ben: Mommy's highlights cost almost as much as the mortgage! Chlorine is the enemy!)

Speaking of money, here I am with my good buddy, Ean, spending Mom's money on ice cream and candy. See, I can tell you the truth. She'd tell you that we were buying apples and tofu but really, Mom's not as strict about nutrition as she comes off. You should see what she eats when no one is around!

Mom gets a discount on everything at the snack bar because she's an employee. Sweet! I hope she keeps that job for a long time. When everything is half off, a dollar goes a long way!

One place that my Mom vows not to go to each year is the State Fair. So I go with my Dad, like a million times. This year, Mom took me on the last day. We met my friend Ean there. Ean wanted to go on unlimited rides and I thought that was a good idea too. So I convinced my mom to buy a $35.00 wrist band for me. Then I got to the midway and I freaked out. Mom said a few bad words and insisted that I do one ride, any ride. I agreed to the Merry-Go-Round but I wouldn't sit on a horse. No way. They go up and down way too quickly. So I sat on the bench. Mom said she would never buy me a wrist band again and I didn't want my picture taken near the rides and it was actually a big tear-fest with and meltdown. Here we are at one of the exhibits:

I started soccer in August, but our games actually started in September. Soccer is two nights a week: practice on Tuesday and game on Friday. Those are both work nights for my mom; she had to re-schedule her clients and classes so that she could be at (most) practices and games. I think this whole soccer commitment is what started to throw her over the edge. She's gone every night of the week now but I'm so glad that she can be there with me.

I'm playing with my best "girl" friend, Lauren and her dad, Ryan, is our coach. Mom convinced Dad to let me play in Carmichael this year, instead of Fair Oaks (since she has that crazy work schedule AND since I have Lauren on my team). I think I'll be playing back in Fair Oaks next year but I'm going to enjoy my Del Dayo team as much as I can this year!

Here I am, right before I kicked in my first goal. My coach calls me a bulldozer. I kinda like that!

The first birthday party of the school year was up in Cameron Park. My classmate's mom drives him all the way from Cameron Park, to attend my school. And I thought we had a long drive! Anyway, here I am playing my new favorite game: Red Light, Green Light.

And this is my expression when I found out that I only get to smack the pinata once:

These are the treat bags from the party. They were outstanding! I hope my mom does favors like these for my party! (Mom's note: Sorry, Ben. Your friends are getting gift certificates to Baskin Robbins. Stay at home mom versus working mom. Enough said.)

We finished out the month with me getting pneumonia. Mom said we don't have any pictures because neither of us was very photogenic during this time. I couldn't go to school for a week and Mom had to take several days off of work. I coughed and cried for four nights straight but our days were very fun (please see the previous post for details).

So now it's October 1st and it's the day of my birthday party! I've been in my Mom's bed all night, coughing up a storm again, but I can't wait to see all my friends tonight. We even have a magician coming! I might have to take command of Mom's camera since she'll either be drowning in Sangria or hiding in her bedroom! She thinks that October might be a little quieter but I have other plans! I'm like my Dad that way... :-)