Monday, February 22, 2010

You Don't Have to Travel to Europe to Have Jet Lag

Just co-habitate with a 6-year-old who spends one day on American soil before catapulting back into your home for 4am wake-ups.

Netflix on demand anyone? Melatonin? Kiddie Xanax?

I'm not surprised that this is happening but in the dark hours this morning, I was, admittedly, pretty frustrated. Frustrated enough to call my ex - at 4am - and demand that he take Ben for four nights to re-set his internal clock. I feel guilty sending Ben back a night early and Ben was disappointed when I told him. He let out a big, "awwwwww" and I said, "I'm sorry, little dude, but you are going to kill me."

I can't explain to him that the "cocktail" of sleep meds I take each night really doesn't allow for coherent and rational experiences at 4am. I can't explain to him that I am worthless at my job when I've been up for hours on end. I can't explain to him that this is his dad's damn fault and that it stupid to take a small child out of school for an international trip and expect everything to be "just fine" on the return.

We're going on 12 hours of being awake and Ben is melting on the half-hour. In fact, he's pushing 15 minute increments now. It's really not pretty.

His teacher confirmed at pick-up: "He is one tired boy."

We still have a report to finish - on Italy, of course - which entails at least two hours of sentence writing.

Oy vey.

Or as they say in Italy, "Buona fortuna" - or "good luck" to us!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Drinking It In.

Ben came home to me last night. At last.

He seems to be adjusting back to Pacific time just fine. 11 hours of sleep last night and judging from the way he slurred his words and rubbed his eyes at bedtime, we're probably looking at another long stretch of slumber. Hooray!

Today we had a very fun playdate with friends at a really fabulous park, followed by ice cream treats at McDonald's and more play.

He requested pizza and a movie for tonight. He can usually eat one half of a Papa Murphy's Delite Pizza in one sitting (yes, it is astonishing) but this evening, he petered out after a mere three slices and told me that the pizza isn't as good as what he had in Italy.

On the way to Italy, his dad let him watch "Home Alone" on the airplane. Interesting judgment call on that one. Needless to say, Ben demanded that it be turned off about 15 minutes in and his dad ordered up "Tinkerbell" instead. And my boy - who's all Hot Wheels and Monster Trucks and dirt and grime - loved it. In fact, it was his pick for tonight. The second showing did not disappoint. I decided - about 10 minutes in - that Tinkerbell is a great representation of tasteful glamor and femininity and that she is going to be my inspiration for next Halloween. But I doubt that I can get Ben to be Peter Pan.

Throughout the movie, Ben lay sprawled across me on the couch. It was complete and total sweetness. At one point he reached for my hand. I wanted to take a still frame on that moment. Make it last forever.

Tinkerbell will probably last all of two weeks; likely until some knuckle-head boy on the playground lets Ben in on the notion that Tinkerbell is "for girls." But I hope that this innocence lasts just a little bit longer.

I could spend so many more Saturday nights just like this one and not have one regret; only the feeling that my heart will crack open for all the love that I have for this boy.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

That's Amore

I got my Valentine's call from Ben at 8:30am this morning. He had just eaten homemade raviolis for dinner and they had spent the day at a local carnivale. And this came through on email, right before the call:

Valentine's sentiments all the way from Italy. I can't think of a nicer way to start my day. It was all I needed.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

The Irony of Ironies

I saw a neurologist last week. She expressed concern over the frequency of my migraines and with the fact that the migraines seem to be worsening.

"How many days of work did you miss last month?" she asked.

"Four," I told her.

"That is too many, dear," she replied.

And she wrote out a prescription for a daily preventative medication. It's not something I have to take long-term; just an interim solution so that I don't miss any more work or time with Ben.

Because when you have a "true" migraine, you miss out on life. Most migraines come on in the middle of the night (I've never had one "sneak in" in the middle of my day) and the pain is so excruciating, that there is no possibility of standing upright. Generally, there is a fair amount of vomiting due to the intensity of the pain. Light sensitivity is a given as is a full day in bed.

In my experience, the best way to get rid of a migraine is to grab a ride to the nearest ER, curl up in a ball in the waiting room with a towel over my head (to block the light) and beg for a Demerol shot. Does the trick every time.

Lately, I've been self-medicating. Trading meds with my dad (he's also plagued with the migraine curse and the one person who can really sympathize with me) and combining opiates with ibuprofen, aspirin and Aleve. The doctor didn't much care for this strategy.

Thus, the daily medication.

But here's the kicker. The number one side effect of the migraine med? Headaches.

Oh yes, they aren't lying about that. I doubled the dose last night (per the doc's instructions) and woke up to a dull throb in the back of my head.

But at least I didn't have to puke or miss work.

Headaches. Un-freakin'-believable.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Roller Coaster Is Waiting...Step Right On!

Today has been a day of highs and lows.

Starting at 4am. No messages or texts from Kevin and Ben. Send a note off to my dad to ask what to do. He says to sit tight.

I "sit tight" for a couple of hours, train clients, try not to go "THERE" in my mind.

At 10am, I check my email. There's a message from Kevin's girlfriend. Yes, she's heard from them. They are exhausted, but fine.

I am relieved.

And I am pissed.

My sister calls and I break down on the phone with her.

44 hours after I've said goodbye to Ben, the phone rings. They are in Sorrento and all is well. Kevin says they have slept more than half the day away and I can hear Ben in the background: "Ciao, Ciao, Ciao..."

There was an eight hour delay at Heathrow. Ben passed out on a bench in the airport, with a sleeping mask over his eyes. He slept for four hours. Kevin didn't sleep. I guess Heathrow doesn't have public phones.

Kevin feels like crap, as well he should. He must have apologized twenty times. I told him to bring me a nice pair of Italian shoes and I'd consider forgiveness by next Christmas. IF I like the shoes.

Meanwhile, the mail came through the door while I was chatting with Ben. I retrieved it at the end of our conversation and found a pink envelope with my name on it. My dad sent me a Valentine's card with some cash. He usually sends me a funny card. Without cash. This one wasn't funny. It made me cry. As if I hadn't cried enough all morning.

As with the proverbial roller coaster, when life takes us down, really down, we don't always have to wait long to go back up again. Sometimes, it happens in moments. I'll close out this adventure by sharing the card with you. Thanks, Dad.

Although I've known you since before you were born, somehow you still continue to amaze me.

I've watched you go through change after change.

And I've seen you navigate through some pretty rough times with your heart as your compass and your strong, resilient spirit to carry you through.

Simply put, I couldn't be prouder of you.

You've grown from an adorable girl to a remarkable woman.

A woman I admire, love and respect more every day.

When I held you as a baby, I knew that you were special.

When I see you as a woman, I realize just how special.

More so than I ever could have imagined.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

There Is A Lesson Here Somewhere...God, Help Me Find It!

I have been scolded a few times over my "release" of Ben to Italy. Several people have questioned the judgment of my ex to take my young son to a country that is not particularly hip to Americans. Alone. In turn, my judgment has been questioned. I have staunchly stood by my opinion that, while it might seem totally outlandish to take a 6-year-old to the Amalfi Coast, I believe that my ex only has Ben's best interests at heart and would take every precaution necessary to keep both of them safe.

Yet, 30 hours into the trip, I'm questioning my own actions.

You see, Kevin promised to call me when they landed at Heathrow. Or at the very least, to touch in from Gatwick (also in London). Worst case scenario, I'd get a call from Italy. Which, by my calculations, would have occurred by 2pm today. But in reality, I should have had a call or a voice mail by early this morning. Because they would have landed in Heathrow at midnight, last night.

Excuse me here, but: WHAT. THE. FUCK. ??????????????????????????????????

Now my ex can be inconsiderate, narcissistic, and selfish. But he knows how much I crave contact with Ben. And he's usually quite good at facilitating that.

In an act of desperation, I sent an email off to Kevin's girlfriend. I don't even care, at this point, if he's contacted her. I just need to know that he's contacted someone, anyone so that I can go to bed without the image of Kevin's rental car in a ditch and Ben sitting alone in some Italian police department.

I have no idea how I'm going to sleep tonight. Today, I went from feeling a little pissed off and hurt this morning, to full blown anger and anxiety by this evening. I would never do this to Kevin.

My best friend has been checking in on me all day. "Have you heard anything?" She made a very astute comment earlier: "I don't know if it's easier being married to Kevin or being divorced from him." I don't know either. But I do know that Kevin's chances of taking Ben on another overseas adventure are decreasing rapidly by the hour.

And speaking of hours, I think I found my darkest hours of parenting. I guess I'm getting an early glimpse of what the teenage years could be like - when Ben is out until all hours and I'm sitting at home - watching the clock. I will say this: Kevin is lucky that he's not anywhere close to me right now. Hell hath no fury like a mother without her child...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A Special 70

Today, I was honored to attend a luncheon for a client turning 70. I was one of eight women who came to celebrate the birthday of a very special lady, with a delicious lunch and really good company.

I had to leave the party early to pick up Ben. As I drove to his school, I reflected on the sweetness of life's relationships - specifically, how I could have traveled another path and never intersected with my client, and friend. I never would have known her grace, her generosity, her unexpected wit, her steadfast dedication to her family, to her grandchildren and to her friends. I would have missed so much.

So many times, I choose to ruminate on the road(s) that I didn't take, with regrets and a whole lot of second-guessing. Today, it felt really good to think about my friendship with this client in terms of, "Having her in my life is just another benefit of the choices I've made."

Ben leaves for Italy tomorrow. He lay on the couch tonight with me, his head resting lightly on my shoulder and his fingers intertwined into mine. We talked about gellato. He said, "I'm going to miss you, Mommy."

Sending him off feels wrong. It's a heavier sadness that I've experienced before.

Life delivers so many injustices. But at the same time, I've finally figured out that there are equal amounts of goodness, if you pause and sit still enough to let them in.

My wisest friend says this all the time: "Reality eventually catches up with everyone. EVERYONE."

Isn't that the truth.

I'm glad that my own reality includes clients who become friends and birthdays to celebrate and friends who share their infinite wisdom with me.

Thank you, M and K.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

This Is What Denial Looks Like

The ex is taking Ben to Italy. They are leaving on Wednesday. First thing in the morning. Basically in two days.

I have known about the trip for months. I have also known that in order for the ex to take the child out of the country, the mother needs to provide her consent by providing a letter, a notarized letter, with said ex.

So here we are two days before the departure date. Have I written the letter yet? N - O. Have I done a search on notaries in my area? N - O. Have I looked at my schedule to figure out when I can cram a mid-day notary appointment in? I think you know the answer.

Every time I think about Ben jetting off to Italy, I get sad. I'm not thinking about how much he'll enjoy eating daily gellato with his dad (which has been promised over and over), nor am I thinking about how his little eyes will get very big when he sees the actual Sistine Chapel, which he made a replica of last year. In Kindergarten. But I digress.

In all honestly, the thought of Ben being on the other side of the world for nine whole days is making me feel like a displaced mom. And I'm using this forum to admit that because I think it's an important step in the whole process of embracing single parenting. Blah, blah, blah.

To counteract those oh-so-crappy feelings about the imminent Italian adventure, I decided to make a list of all the things I want to do while Ben is away. I started the list and was actually enjoying the direction it was taking: purge the toys, separate the business and the household files, frame prints, organize the photos from last year, watch hours of "Californication," cleanse my soul from hours of "Californication" by tackling the growing stack of literary gems I'm collecting, pen my own memoir, landscape the 1/4 acre backyard. You get the idea.

I distilled the list down to a few basic tasks: cleaning the car and cleaning the closets. Maybe the garage, too. Then I realized that I still hadn't written the damn letter.

If the letter doesn't get written, then nothing's gonna get done around here and Ben won't get his daily gellato and I won't get some extravagant gift (Italian boots, maybe?) from my ex. I think I'm motivated now.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

From The Mouths of Babes: OMG!

We have new lingo in our home and it goes like this:

"Oh my gosh!"

Sometimes, it sounds like this: "OHMYGOSH!"

Other times, it's like this: "OH." "MY." "GOSH."

One time, just once, it came out like this: "Oh my God!"

And then someone got a big thump on the head.

Yes, we have arrived to the land of school-aged jargon; a place where "Oh my gosh" is uttered at least 100 times each day.

Which is better, far better than, "I hate you."

Or, "This is stupid."

Of course, we're still in the midst of "I'm so bored."

And, "Where's the Nintendo?"

To my delight, I'm also still hearing, "Read to me!" "Rub my back!" "Tuck me in."

And my own personal favorite, "I love you."