Motherhood, insanity and everyday life.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Confessions of a Fading Maternal Brain

Dear Children,
Last week I turned 47. Yes, I know – you both remembered and I thank you for that. And actually, that’s sort of what this is about – remembering.

You see, I’m pretty sure my mind is in a state of decline or depreciation, you might say. I have now reached that utterly cliché stage of life when I walk into a room and have no idea why. And just to add visions of my mother to my mind, I say out loud to myself: “Why did I come in here?” It’s quite humbling.

If that were the worst, that would be OK. It’s not. I have lapses. The other day, and I kid you not, I had a mild panic attack when I could not figure out how to properly write the number 4. In my mind, I kept flipping it back and forth, back and forth. All I could think was: “Oh crap. The end is near.”

I see people in the grocery store – people that I know. People that I have known for years. But dammit, I can’t remember their names. No wait, I do but it’s after I’ve driven out of the parking lot and I’m halfway home. And it drives me nuts.

Look, I’m pretty blessed in terms of health. I take care of myself. I avoid McDonald’s drive-through, have no interest in recreational drugs and am proud to have all my own teeth. (Except for those two molars, but those don’t count, right?)

The problem is, I’m not entirely sure that my mind is going to be in great condition forever. And what bugs me the most is the idea that you might write me off as just another loony mother-figure who can’t remember your name. Although that might be true, I want to write to you today and tell you that I wasn’t always this way.

(Oh and in case you were wondering, yes I've tried to do Sodoku and crossword puzzles and various mind games to sharpen my mental acuity. It works for about 5 minutes and then I get bored.)

In high school, where I was often overlooked and rarely popular, I used to know everyone’s name. I mean everyone. Not in a creepy-stalker kind of way, but more in the way that your friend’s little brother knows the entire lineup of the 1996 Green Bay Packers. Just loads of useless information that was never called upon except for my friends challenging me as we walked down the hall.

In college, I had pretty much honed that skill set to include teachers and influential people. After graduation, I knew everyone in every department of every company in which I was employed. Finally, I could put this mental lumber to use.

Then you came along. At first, my mind was still in tip-top shape. I remembered the important dates, your likes and dislikes, your friends, your teachers, your babysitters and even the characters in the inane TV shows and movies you watched repeatedly. I became your spare brain until yours could develop. And it did. And eventually, it eclipsed mine. And my brain was left standing by the side of the road, watching as your brain drove past.

I remember that like it was yesterday. You were in third grade. You got stuck on a math problem and asked for my help which I could not give because I apparently can't remember anything I was taught in 3rd grade. I didn’t let you know it then, but I knew that it wouldn’t be much longer until you were smarter than me.

I wasn't sure if this knowledge was reassuring or scary. More than anything, it was unavoidable.

In any case, here we are. One of you is in high school and the other is in college and I’m proud as hell of both of you. First, because you worked hard to get where you are and secondly, because that’s part of my brain you’ve got there. That’s right. It’s what we moms do. We sacrifice our bodies and our brains for you, our kids. We have no regrets, but we also have very few brain cells left after our work is done.

So I just want you to remember that when I’m shuffling into that crowded brunch buffet with you for Mother’s Day 2024 and I start telling that same story that I will be telling you repeatedly in the coming years and then I ask: “Why did we come here?”

Just remember, that someday that will be you too.


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Bless This Mess

So the other night, I asked my husband to unclog the toilet in the kids’ bathroom. Normally, I’d do something like this, but I’ve found that my arm strength is that of a T-Rex. I look like I could handle such a job, but I can’t do even one pushup, let alone handle the plunging of a toilet.

Later, he says to me: “That was really gross. I mean REALLY gross. I almost got sick. You almost had to deal with that.”

And I said: “You think I would have cleaned up your puke if you had thrown up?! Not a chance!”

Suffice it to say, he was disappointed in my lack of sympathy. From my point of view, I could not believe that he was playing the “gross card” because since we have had children, I have handled nothing but gross.

I’ve held kids’ heads while they threw up. I’ve cleaned up bathrooms and sheets and other inconvenient places to get sick. My favorite was driving to my parents’ house on Christmas morning when my son proceeded to vomit in the minivan while I was driving on the highway. The good news was that he had eaten cinnamon rolls and the interior of the car was tan. (OK, I confess, my husband was at home recovering from surgery, so he couldn't have helped me on this one.)

And of course, over the years, I’ve dealt with my share of messes from “the other end” as well. I remember diapers bursting with surprises, leaking all over clothing in the most embarrassing places and ways.

I’ve dealt with all of this, happily letting my husband hand the kids over to my capable care. And yes, he did change his share of diapers, but I’ve always prided myself on the containment and cleaning of hazardous messes. It’s what I do best. And when a sick kid runs to you, you are not going to say: “Go wake up daddy. It’s his turn.”

And it’s not bad enough that kids have accidents from time to time. We also have a cat and a dog and each of them has blessed me with their mess at the most inopportune time. I have acutely tuned hearing that can predict the cat vomiting up a hairball within moments of the first wheeze. And you haven’t experienced “ick” until you’ve hosed off a golden retriever with diarrhea. Makes cleaning up the kids seem like a breeze.

I’m not trying to act like a martyr. There are moms with way more kids and way worse messes than what I’ve had to deal with. It just makes me wonder why, in this age of enlightened women and interchangeable roles for moms and dads, it’s still largely left up to us moms to mop up the messes for the masses.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mammos and Martinis Anyone?

It’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and with apologies to my husband, I’m about ready to cut mine off - my “girls” as I like to call them. I have stressed and worried and had them squashed between plastic grids one too many times. I’m done.

I had a re-check mammogram today. There was a “questionable area” 6 months ago when I had my annual mammogram and they gave me a tentative all-clear and said to come back in six months to check “righty.” Today was the day. I loathe this day. Most women can go to their mammos with smiles on their faces and maybe frown a bit at the discomfort and inconvenience. Me? I figure it’s another spin on the breast cancer roulette wheel.

My aunt died of breast cancer. My mother developed pre-cancerous cells when she was over 65, which somehow isn’t too much of a concern. Still, it means I have HISTORY and therefore must be careful. And I am. I go every single year without fail since I was 35 years old.

And every single year, without fail, I sit in those pretty pink rooms with the nice technicians that grab and smash me into that machine and I worry. I figure my time is up. I pray…a lot. I think about making deals with God, but then I think about all of the people that I know that need prayers more than me and then I feel guilty about praying. See how nuts I get?

Honestly, the girls haven’t been that fun lately. I constantly need to keep them in place and running up and down the stairs, now there’s an instant lesson on gravity and physics. I breast-fed exactly one child and I was certainly no poster child for the La Leche League. Me and the girls, well, we have a strained relationship, to say the least.

On the other hand, I know how incredibly blessed and fortunate I am. I think about the women that have had mastectomies and dealt with the ravages of cancer and again – the guilt. I have nothing to complain about…except my annual carnival of worry.

So, OK, fine. I won’t cut the girls out of my life. But I’d be ever so happy if somehow they made the mammos a little less stressful. Perhaps a martini bar in those cute little pink rooms?

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Getting My Granny Panties in a Bundle

The other day, I went to lunch with a group of friends and they gave me a birthday present. A thong. Actually, EIGHT thongs. It was and is a joke. Since I’m older than them, I’m sure the idea of me and these thongs was hilarious…and a little icky. But I have to admit, it’s pretty funny.

After we all stopped laughing, several of the women extolled the virtues of thongs and how great they are. Sorry, I’m not buying it.

The concept of me associated with a thong seems awkward to say the least. I grew up in the generation that thought of thongs as something you wore on your feet – i.e. flip flops. Back then, we had two kinds of women’s underwear – bikini and giant granny panties. I am so much more comfortable with the latter. The more coverage the better.

I’m all about comfort. I generally wear somewhat loose-fitting clothing. I like my pants to cover my butt, my “girls” under wraps and my necklines modest. If a shirt is tight, I feel self-conscious. I’m not hideous, but I won’t be mistaken for a swimsuit model in the near future and that’s OK.

When I see boys walking around with their shorts hanging down to their knees, I really want to yell: “Pull up your pants!” To me, clothes are either on or off, which is why the idea of wearing a thong is so incredibly foreign to me. Won’t it get stuck in places where you’ll end up tugging it out? Thongs are so small, what really is the point of wearing anything? To me, the phrase “comfortable thong” is an oxymoron.

They say that with age comes wisdom. I say with children goes your body. Unless you’re Angelina Jolie, Kate Hudson or Katie Holmes and have a personal trainer on retainer, your body will never be the same after you have kids. And I sort of think it shouldn’t be. To me, it’s kind of a badge of honor. Our hips widen, thereby giving our children a firmer foundation upon which to hang themselves when they are still carry-able. You think Angelina’s carrying those kids when the paparazzi are gone? Not with that bony ass!

And so I’m looking for creative uses for eight teeny tiny thongs. Here’s a thought: I’ll bet Martha Stewart picked up a few ideas in the slammer! Oh Martha…….!