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By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
Or am I just stupid?
Much to my husband's dismay, I've written two columns in the last year about Margaret's school. This one
ran earlier this month on the editorial page.
Two weeks after that column ran, I attended my first PTO meeting. At one point, we were asked to introduce ourselves. After I said my name and who my child was, another parent asked the question that I dreaded, "Are you the one who wrote those columns in the newspaper?"
Um, yes, that would be me, the mom who will publicly call her daughter's school to task but is just now getting around to formally volunteering with the PTO. I felt hypocritical when I wrote those columns and felt even more so while sitting there being justly scrutinized by my parental peers.
But you know what? They didn't yell or throw spoiled fruit at me. Instead they were nice and welcoming. The principal even said they have my latest column posted for everyone to read.
I was more than a little relieved and am now looking forward to being more active with the PTO.
I wish I could do more to help at Margaret's school, but a working mom only has so many hours in the day and heaven help me if I don't have time to watch all the schmaltzy reality shows that I love so much.
Plus all those little kids make me a bit nervous. They're all little and silly and childlike — I guess therein lies the reason they're called children.
I kept hoping that Bill was going to be the one to step up to the PTO plate, but he's overwhelmed with his job and all the peripherals that go along with it.
So now it's on me. I only hope I'm up to the challenge.
Monday, September 24, 2007
Alex has been blessed with good health and a vigorous immune system. Outside of the usual ear infections and colds when he was a baby and a toddler, he really hasn't been sick much at all. Oh yeah, there was that 3-day stay in ICU when he was 18 months-old and got RSV and almost died, but other than that . . . .
But when the boy does get sick, he makes up for it. Like last week. Yeah, the week Asher came to live with us. Alex came down with a sore throat, fever, headaches, etc. He stayed home from school on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday I took him in for a strep test. It was negative. He still felt like crap and called in sick for work. Monday he went back to school. Tuesday he came down stairs at 5:45 a.m. and said he was so tired and was having a hard time walking. His head hurt. He had a fever. I had a brief moment of panic.
I took him back to the doctor. Twice in one day. They tested him for mono. Negative. I told them to test him for West Nile, bubonic plague, rabies, whatever. They laughed at me and sent us home with a prescription for amoxicillin. I went to have it filled and the pharmacist said, “That will be $3.41.” I jumped for joy, flipped her a twenty and told her to keep the change. She gave me a strange look and I explained how for the last many months I was spending over $325 a month for Accutane for the kid so three bucks was a treat to pay! (I was also delirious from sleep deprivation from getting up every two hours with that dog for the last week, but more on that later.)
I went home and Alex was snoozing on the sofa. You know, really, if we’re honest about it, there’s a moment that every mother has experienced when their kid is sick and it goes like this:
I know he doesn’t feel well. Look at him sound asleep. He barely has the energy to move off the sofa. It hurts him to talk, he doesn’t want anything to eat or drink, and he just lies there all quiet. Really, they’re so good when they’re sick!
But then you realize you have to give them the medicine or risk being turned into social services. And then they get better. You’re relieved, but really kind of miss the peace and quiet.
In fact Alex was feeling so much better by Friday, he popped off and made up for it all. Yep, all flights on Alex Airlines were grounded for the weekend.
It gave him more time to recover.
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, September 20, 2007
I work full time and I teach part time. I enjoy both my jobs which is good because I have to work. Being a stay-at-home mom isn't an option for our family. I'm fine with that — for the most part.
But that doesn't mean that I don't feel guilty from time to time (or most of the time) about not being able to attend to my child during the day. I wish I could volunteer in her classroom more, attend all her field trips and be there to pick her up from school every day. But I can't.
Sometimes the guilt is overwhelming, especially when books like this one
come out, suggesting that we are short changing our children by working.
Luckily for us working moms, there are also books such as Betty Holcomb's "Not Guilty!: The good news for working mothers,"
that suggests we haven't hopelessly screwed up our children by working outside the home.
I know that Margaret has benefited in certain ways from the daycare environments she was in. She learned to eat a variety of foods I probably would have never introduced to her. When I'm left to my own devices for meals, Chef Boyardee does a lot of the heavy lifting.
She also learned to be a social creature and how to play with other children that were her age, older and younger. I am forever indebted to her early daycare provider for believing in the importance of unadulterated play. I remember a day I went to pick up Margaret from "Gramma Julia's" house. She was about 3 and I found her standing in the backyard by herself with a cryptic smile on her face.
I asked her where gramma was and she shrugged her little shoulders and laughed.
I grew concerned until little Margaret ran over to the table and pointed. They had been playing hide-and-go-seek and Julia was crouched down behind the furniture "hiding" from Margaret.
So I look at my now 7-year-old daughter and see a fairly well-rounded child who is smart and funny and loving and sweet. I know that there will always be things that I could have done better but the fact is so far, so good.
By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
I expect most things to be hard. So when they're not I'm pleasantly surprised. I had a particularly welcome but bittersweet surprise by Soren last night.
Let me backtrack to about 2 p.m. I was desperate for a nap and convinced Soren's cousin to take a nap in his "big kid" bed instead of crawling into my bed. Soren was plopped in his crib and I left Jonas to snooze away in the swing. I had 35 minutes of complete drooly sleep before the phone rang but it sure saved me. I'm quite sleep deprived at this point.
When Soren awoke he found Azure sprawled out on his big boy bed. He poked her and tried to crawl in next to her. And then she hit him and he hit her back and stole her bunny and she cried and all was right in the world.
At 9 p.m., Soren kissed his dad and his brother goodnight with his usual exaggerated "MmmmMAAAAA!" He walked in front of me but stopped to grab my hand in the hallway. He led me away from the nursery and into his big boy room. I figured we were just in search of a bear to take to bed but he crawled into his big boy bed and said, "Night night." I didn't think it would last long as he's never even taken a catnap in his big-boy bed. But I played along and tucked him in.
At 9:05 p.m., he was out cold and my mommy panic set in. I announced to my loverhubby in a loud whisper, "He's in there ASLEEP!!!"
9:10 p.m. I'm standing over him. I begin frantically looking around the room for invisible nooses hanging from the ceiling. I lift the blinds then close them to make sure the string is high out of reach. I pick up toys that may trip little feet in the middle of the night. I closed the dresser drawers for fear of one flying across the room and hitting him in the head. I added an extra blanket in case he got cold. I put giant Pooh at the foot his bed. Then remove it in case he flops around and it suffocates him or terrifies him with it's beady little black Pooh eyes and its shrunken red shirt.
9:20 p.m. I check and recheck that the doors are locked.
9:24 p.m. I stand over him again. I go to the living room to retrieve the couch cushions then stack them on the floor by his bed in case he rolls out. I want to make sure he survives the six inch drop.
9:40 p.m. I go to the nursery and stand over his empty crib and I'll admit tears came to my eyes. Could this really be the transition from baby to big boy? So soon? I know that this move is a good one. Jonas needs the crib. But I still couldn't help but feel sad for this transition and scared for my baby to be without four barred walls for his protection.
I finally fell asleep but checked on my sleeping big boy six times before 7 a.m. where upon waking he announced, "All Done!'
There's no turning back now. My son is growing up so fast. I just hope I can keep up.
By Robin Dearing
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
I had to get the space heater out this morning because Margaret claimed she was, "Freezing to death!"
Yes, she was being dramatic, but it was chilly in our house this morning. No doubt it was because I still have most of the windows cracked.
I'm enjoying the cooler weather. The cool breeze coming through the window at night is refreshing and I love snuggling up at night. Regardless, it's about time to put the blanket back on the bed and look for the flannel sheets.
And of course with the change of the seasons comes cold and flu season. Since going back to school, Margaret has already gotten a cold. But it was so minor that she was mostly just more tired than usual and she was over it in just a couple days.
We remind Mar often to make sure she washes her hands and for her to try to not put her hands in her mouth to avoid germs. Hand washing is something that we emphasize. I even carry antibacterial wipes in the car.
However, we're not uber-tidy people. My house is not, nor will it ever likely be, spic nor span. We've got animals tromping in and out through the dog door (as well as the occasional child — as happened yesterday when I locked myself out of the house and had to get the tiny neighbor girl to crawl through and let me in) and we're just messy people. But that doesn't mean we don't wash our hands.
So I guess I was surprised when I read the story in The Daily Sentinel this morning that said that one third of men don't wash their hands after using the bathroom.
I mean, if ever was there a time to do it, wouldn't that be the time?
Monday, September 17, 2007
Pass the grape kool-aid because that has to be the next step in my apparent break with reason.
I keep my prmoises and I promised Alex he could get a puppy when we moved to a house with a yard. Well, we did, and he did.
He is a 6 week-old yellow lab. He weighed 9 pounds when we got him and he weighed 11 pounds this morning. He is a baby in every respect of the word. He is Alex's dog and he is taking good care of him but Alex came down with strep throat and was really sick the first few days we had Asher. (The name means blessed and happy. But after four nights of being up every couple hours I can tell you I am feeling neither.)
More on the adventures of Asher later. Right now I have to catch up on some work, and then some sleep. Luckily I can do both at the same time!
Just kidding, boss.
By Robin Dearing
Friday, September 14, 2007
Summer ended just a little too quick. We weren't quite done with it yet — which is probably why I signed Margaret up for swimming lessons this month.
She just wasn't ready to hang up the ole swimsuit yet.
Of course, now the Lincoln Park Pool is closed, she's having to swim indoors at Orchard Mesa's pool, but she doesn't see to care.
So now we have twice weekly swim lessons dumped on after-school theater and piano lessons.
On the first day of class, we arrived just in time. As Mar got ready for her lessons, I fretted over our new hectic schedule. Why did I think that she needed yet another thing on her plate right now?
Then she was in the water with her two classmates and her instructor. She's learning the crawl stroke and her face was beaming. She was really having a good time.
Plus she's learning a valuable life tool. Being a strong swimmer is a good thing for a bunch of reasons, including you never know when you're going to find yourself stranded in a giant body of water (OK, maybe I've been watching too much "Man vs. Wild").
So, my weekday evenings have become a rhythm of traveling here and there for lessons and classes, sprinkled with homework and piano practice. I don't have time to unwind after work anymore, but seeing the joy and excitement on Margaret's face as she's learning new skills is enough for me.
By Robin Dearing
Thursday, September 13, 2007
I have a fabulous nanny during the workweek. Both my girls adore her, she comes to our house, and she’s bilingual!
OK, so I’m talking about the nearly daily dose of Dora that occupies my girls in the mornings while I get ready for work.
I confess that I’m guilty of turning on the television or popping in a DVD in order to distract my girls while I try to work from home, especially with the heat wave we had in Nashville this summer preventing us from quality backyard play time.
Not surprising, two studies released this year have found that both television and
so-called educational DVDs for babies can be detrimental to a child's development.
I don’t know about you, but when I first introduced my girls to Baby Einstein videos as infants, it was out of a purely selfish need for a mental-health break, not to mention personal hygiene, as I was one missed shower shy of looking like a homeless person.
A study released earlier this month
purports that watching television more than two hours a day early in life can lead to attention problems later in adolescence. The link was established by a study of the habits and behaviors of more than 1,000 children born in Dunedin, New Zealand, between April 1972 and March 1973. The children, aged 5 to 11, watched an average of 2.05 hours of weekday television. From age 13 to 15, time spent in front of the tube rose to an average of 3.1 hours a day.
Another recent study published in the Journal of Pediatrics
said that many educational DVDs marketed toward infants, such as Brainy Baby or Baby Einstein, may actually hinder language development.
Do parents really buy so-called “educational” baby DVDs thinking that they are really more beneficial than one-on-one stimulation such as sitting down to play blocks or curling up to read with them? As a busy working mom, kiddie videos and TV shows have been lifesavers when I've needed to distract the girls during a conference call, not to mention portable DVD players are wonderful for long road trips or sick days. But like anything, I think moderation is the key.
I’ve made an effort to replace TV time at our house with reading time, art projects and just turning on some fun music. But I’ll admit it’s nice to know that Dora is Tivo’d just in case I need her.
By Robin Dearing
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
I'm embarrassed to admit that my 84-year-old grandma is cleaning my kitchen right now. And I don't mean she's just doing some dishes.
She deemed my kitchen so dirty that she allotted a whole week of her month to come up here to Grand Junction and clean it.
It's a good thing I cleaned the carpets a few weeks ago or she really would have been horrified.
Yesterday she marched me into KMart — or rather Big K — and made me buy all the best cleaning products like AJAX and Formula 409.
She got up at 7:30 a.m. to start this nasty chore. I didn't even have to time to curl up for my five minutes of "me and Al Roker and a nice cup of coffee" time before she started banging and spraying and scrubbing.
Lord ... she must think I'm a total slob and in a lot of ways she's totally right. Her idea of clean is my ideal of clean which I never reach. I can put on a good illusion but she sees right through it.
I'm embarrassed and at the same time grateful that someone came to rescue me from never ending housework. No matter how hard I try there is some kind of down and dirty housecleaning that I can't ever seem to find the time to do but it still needs done.
Why? Oh yeah, because usually I'm changing diapers and cooking and shopping and paying bills and working at The Daily Sentinel.
By the end of the week my kitchen is going to be so clean that you could have your appendix removed right on my kitchen counter.
I think I'll just stop using the stove so that it just stays immaculate because it's pretty unlikely that it will ever be this clean again.
Last night she was telling me about how the doctor used to tell her to give her babies canned evaporated milk. You know, that kind you make pumpkin pie with. And one of them got really sick ... uh, yeah ... but maybe I should be giving Jonas some of that because he's crying too much.
Wow, it sure is different the way children are raised compared to the ’50s. It's a wonder any of baby boomers lived. Evaporated milk!!!
Anyways ... I guess I'd better watch and learn how to deep down clean. Besides the oven cleaner has been sitting for EXACTLY TWO HOURS she's informed me and it's time to wash it off. I just can't in good conscience let her do it all by herself.
But, "thank God for grandmothers" is all I have to say.
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
I posted this entry last year on this day. The feelings are still as raw six years later as they were then. I encourage you to attend one of the events taking place today to mark this day, or at the very least send up a prayer.
I’m excited and happy today because my sister is coming to visit. Last time I saw her, she was hugely pregnant with her second baby. Today she is flying in from Boston out of Logan airport. Her carry-on luggage consists of Max, age 3, and her new 5 month-old baby, Sam. Their plane took off about 20 minutes ago.
In a few minutes I have to rouse Alex from bed to get ready to catch the bus for another day of 5th grade. I’ve already showered, and I’m pouring my coffee when the phone rings.
“Did you see the news?” my mom asks. “Turn on the TV.”
I click it on and struggle to focus. When I do, the world as I know it comes to a screeching halt.
My family is from “back east”. I went to college in Albany - just a couple hours drive from the Big Apple. Another sister lived in Yonkers and worked in Manhattan, as did many of her friends and husband’s relatives. A couple of my friends were working in Manhattan too.
“What the hell? It’s the Twin Towers!”
“They don’t know what happened yet.”
“Geez, it looks really bad! What time are you and dad leaving to pick up Deanne from Denver?”
“In about half an hour. Their plane doesn’t get in until this afternoon.”
“OK. Have a safe trip.”
We used to go to New York at least once a year. Never went to the Statue of Liberty, though. Too touristy. We hung out at Rockefeller Center, went to Little Italy for real cannolis, cruised Chinatown, stood in line for cheap tickets to Broadway plays, avoided Times Square and taking the subway.
I dial my parent’s phone number.
“Hey! They think somebody flew a plane into the building! Oh my God! Did you see that? One just went in to the other tower!”
“Oh my God! Oh my God!”
“I’m gonna call the newsroom to see if they know anything.”
My heart is beating so fast. I can’t breathe. My hands are shaking so badly I have trouble dialing the number.
“Hey Kathy. It’s Lynn. Do you guys know what’s going on? My sister is flying in from Boston this morning with her babies.”
This can’t be happening, I think. This doesn’t happen to us. Not stuff like this.
“OK,” she says slowly, deliberately. “Do you know what airlines she was on?”
My stomach lurches. Why would that be important? Why is she asking me that? Think, damn it, think.
“I think it was United.”
I will always admire and be grateful for the way Kathy sensed my mounting
hysteria and struggled with answering my question. I will never forget what she said next.
“They think some planes were hijacked by terrorists. They’re not sure which airlines, but one of them left out of Boston at about 9:15.”
About the time Deanne’s plane left.
I hang up and stand in the middle of my bedroom. I am numb. Almost paralyzed. “This can’t be happening,” I repeat over and over.
My sister. Her babies.
In the few minutes it takes to get Alex to the bus, the news is coming fast and furious. We had a vague idea of what happened. Two planes, two towers. Another plane crashed into a field somewhere.
“Mom, did you try and call Deanne?”
“I tried her cell phone. There’s no service. What did they say at the Sentinel?”
How do you find the words to say it? If you say it will it make it real? How do you wrap your mind around believing you just saw your sister and your two nephews blown into tiny pieces across the Manhattan skyline?
“I’m coming over.”
Somebody please! What the hell is happening?
My mom calls and says she’s going to a neighbor’s. I meet her there. She and dad are dressed and ready to leave for Denver to meet the plane.
“Oh my God! The tower just collapsed! Oh my God! What is happening? Where are my babies?”
Those words came out of my mother’s mouth. They were ripped out of the mouths and hearts of more than 3,000 mothers that day.
Where are my babies?
Many, too many, left behind babies they never saw, didn’t even know they were going to have.
By the grace of God, my sister and her babies were not on that plane. They had seats on the next one out, scheduled to leave twenty minutes later. She finally got a call out to say they were safe. The kids were okay. Max was eating pizza. Twenty minutes.
A few days later the e-mails started coming. The first college classmate missing. The second, a third, then a fourth. The messages kept coming. Then they got worse. Remains identified. Bodies recovered. Funerals pending.
The chaplain at my college and the chaplain then for the F.D.N.Y, Father Mychal Judge, the first to die when he was struck by debris. The best man at my sister’s wedding, Lt. Joseph Leavey, from Ladder 15, F.D.N.Y., the first unit on the scene.
The World Trade Center. The Pentagon. American Flight 11. American Flight 77. United Flight 175. United Flight 93.
“Mom, is the outside light on?”
“No, honey, why?”
“I just think you should turn the light on.”
It will help him. To have the light on. Those bastards robbed him, robbed us all, of so much. Of feeling safe. Ever. Again.
I will never forgive. Some things are beyond the capacity of human forgiveness.
And I will never, ever forget.