Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Testing the Stress

The other day, I had a stress test. Don’t worry, I’m fine. I had been having some teeny little twinges and such and the doctor just wanted to be sure and so he sent me to the local “heart group.” (Today’s medicine no longer involves going to doctor’s offices. Now you visit “groups.” It’s like kindergarten, but a lot less fun.)

It was an interesting experience, to say the least. When I walked in, I felt very much out of place for several reasons: 1) I was younger than every other patient by at least 30 years; 2) I didn’t have a walker; and 3) I didn’t have a baseball cap with the name of the battleship or fighter jet I fought in during the war. It was one of the few times when feeling out of place was a good thing.

If you’ve ever had a stress test you know that this can be a maddening experience. For one thing, you can’t have caffeine for 24 hours prior to the test. 24 freakin’ hours! Not even decaf anything, because decaf doesn’t mean decaf to the “heart group.” Then, when you finally get there, they make you wait a long time and the only things they offer you to read are Prevention Magazine, or pamphlets that say: “Angina feels like indigestion, gas, or an uncomfortable feeling in your chest.” So then, you are certain that every major artery to your heart must be completely blocked. To make matters worse, if you choose not to read, you can look around at the other patients who seem to be hovering at or near death’s door.

Anyway, once I made it past the waiting room, I was brought into an exam room by a nurse who must have recently had her personality surgically removed. She asked me a series of questions in a tone that implied that maybe I wasn’t as out of place as I thought. She then took out a Sharpie and put black dots all over my chest. I’d like to point out that I spend a fair amount of time lately telling my daughter to stop writing on herself during school. Apparently, in the “heart group,” this is perfectly acceptable behavior. Then, the personality-challenged nurse attached receptors to my chest that must have been coated with black Crazy Glue because I am still washing it off, four days later.

I was then directed to waiting room number two which had a TV and was filled with people that were getting the nuclear stress test. Yes, the people sitting next to me were filled with nuclear liquid that would allow the “heart group” to pinpoint their blockage. At this point, I couldn’t help but be a little concerned. I watch “24.” Should I be sitting next to people that are currently radioactive? It seemed a little counterproductive.

While in Waiting Room Number Two, a man my age walked in all glowing with radioactivity. (Not really.) But he was a loud talker and as he chatted with the man next to him, I found out that he has six children and a family history of heart disease. When he was initially seen for his chest pains, the doctor asked him what part of his life causes him the most stress. He said that he really loves his job, so it must be his home life. At that moment, I wanted to stand up and shout: “Yeah, duh! Did you think that having six kids was going to be a walk in the park?! Your wife should probably be in here too!”

Finally I was called into the treadmill room by personality-challenged nurse who was assisted by a physician’s assistant with a bit more personality. They hooked me and my receptors up to the heart monitor and put me on the treadmill. At first, it was pretty easy. Then every three minutes, they would take my blood pressure, speed up the treadmill and raise the incline. After about 9 minutes, I felt like Spider Man trying to scale the Empire State building. All I could think was: "Do they really make 80 year olds do this, because I can barely stand up straight, let alone walk at the same time." Nevertheless, I tried to remain cool, calm, collected and NOT stressed. When they finally slowed and lowered “the beast,” (my pet name for that treadmill) the physician’s assistant said that everything looked normal. Hallelujah.

As I collected my belongings, I had only one thought: I gotta get me one of those hats.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Being the Bee in the Bonnet

The other day I scolded my sister. She’s much younger than me and her daughter is 3-1/2 years old. As toddlers go, this child is spectacular. She’s got brains and beauty. OK, sure I’m biased, and, I have, in fact, referred to her as my “practice grandchild.” Anyway, my sister and I were chatting on the phone and her daughter wanted her attention – several times. My sister truly has the patience of a saint. She teaches second graders, which tells you a lot about her ability to deal with children. And so my sister said to her daughter: “Please stop now. Can’t you see I’m on the phone?! Go and play!” It really wasn’t a huge deal, but I told her that one day, my niece is going to be 14 and she won’t want to be anywhere near her mother and that in a few short years, my sister will actually miss those interruptions.

I told my sister this because I know. I am living on the other end of the spectrum. As the mother of a 14, almost 15-year old, I am both my daughter’s worst enemy and best friend. Just last night, as she actually sat and watched a movie with my husband and me, she, at one point, said: “Oh my gawd! Do you guys realize how annoying you are?!”

I try to be a lot of things, but annoying isn’t one of them. But, according to my daughter, I’m very gifted in that area. What is it about me that repels her so? From my point of view, I’m like a personal assistant/chef/chauffer/ATM all rolled into one, big cuddly body. I’m there at her beckon call. I wash her clothes, even when they’re not dirty. I actually understand why she doesn’t want to wear the same dress to two dances. I let her have sleepovers. I try not to speak when her friends are in the car.

Last week, my daughter and I spent an entire day together. We had tickets to a college basketball game and a musical in the same day. I said to her: “Are you sure you want to spend that much time with me?” She kind of shrugged as if to say: “Trust me. If anybody else were available, you’d be outta here faster than a seat filler at the Oscars.” And so I geared up to do my best to be less annoying than usual. It didn’t last long. During the game, I sometimes text message a friend of mine that sits on the other side of the arena. This annoyed my daughter because I don’t text as well as she does. Then, I tried to chat with my daughter about the players and the game in general. I apparently said something monumentally stupid. And so I sat there, silently steaming, thinking: “Look kid. I may be incredibly lame, but I’m all you’ve got today, so don’t ruin my day too.”

And then I thought back to my teen years. To say that I was moody would be a gigantic understatement. My moods changed more often than Britney Spears’ hair color. I was up one minute, down most of the others. I’m certain I was downright surly for a majority of my adolescence. How did my mother survive and why does she still speak to me?

That’s when it hit me. What I remember was that my crabbiness was borne out of incredibly low self-esteem. I had a nice childhood, but I had not much confidence and so I hurt the ones I loved….or at least those that would take it.

So as I sat next to my daughter at that game, and later during a nice dinner and then the musical, I held back a little. I used a softer approach and skipped the stupid jokes and just enjoyed being with her. I can’t force her to like me as much as she likes her friends, but I can teach her to like herself. I guess it’s why I’m here.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Rejected and Red in the Facebook

Because I have a blog, I may be just a teeny bit more tech-savvy than some of my fellow moms. Emphasis on the word “teeny.” They can kick my ass in the cooking and doing pretty much anything else domestically department. I’m pretty good at navigating the worldwide web and that’s about all.

So during the holidays, my family and I were having a nice family dinner. During the meal, I brought up the subject of Facebook, the social networking website that has become very popular. I have two teens in my house, and, for them, Facebook has eclipsed MySpace for staying in touch with friends. I was asking them about Facebook when one of them said: “Well, you could sign up for Facebook, Mom. Anyone can.” What they probably meant was: “Mom, technically you could sign up for Facebook, but if you go near it, I’ll hate you forever.” What I heard was: “Mom, go on Facebook and sign up!” Can you see where this is going?

So, one lazy morning during vacation, after the paper was read and the e-mails were checked and while everyone else was still sleeping, I decided to venture over to Facebook and see what was involved. Registering for Facebook is deceptively easy. It takes scant seconds. And then the fun begins. Through some Bill Gates-enhanced cyber spy feature, one of the first things that Facebook does is reach into your e-mail address book and find everyone in it that has a Facebook page. I found this interesting. Of course my kids and a couple of their friends popped up and even one of my college roommates who teaches in college. I thought I was being careful not to invade my kids’ privacy. Apparently not. I signed up and gave up as little information as possible. Really, I just sort of wanted to look around the place and see what it was like. Silly me.

About two hours later, I heard my sleepy daughter walk over to the computer and start typing. I was in the kitchen reading a book, having finished with my brief Facebook field trip. Suddenly, she roared: “MOM, NO!” Since I had used a different computer earlier, I really didn’t know what she was yelling about. It soon became apparent.

“I’m rejecting you as a friend!” she said.

“How can you reject me? I didn’t even ask you to be my friend! And you’re the one who said I could go on Facebook.”

“MOM, NO!”

Apparently, all those people in my address book were inadvertently invited to become my friend. Yes, I pathetically implored teenagers that I knew to become my friend. Talk about embarrassing. At least that’s how my kids made me feel. I told my son about it in advance and told him that he could reject me too…and he did.

I had pretty much made the decision to delete my Facebook account when I ran into a couple of the other kids that had received my “invitation.” To my great surprise, they did NOT reject me and thought it was kind of funny. I didn’t exactly feel validated, but I felt less like the creepy stalker mom that my kids had painted me to be.

So today, my Facebook account is still barely alive. I added a photo and a little bit more information. My college roommate “wrote on my wall” and I have a whopping 5 friends. I’m still rejected by my own kids, but then again, isn’t that what motherhood is all about?