Thursday, July 12, 2018

Take care

I don’t want to go to work this afternoon. I don’t want to have to multitask or compartmentalize. It’s really all I know. It’s how I operate. I take care of everyone. I tell them where to go and what to do and how to do it. I hold their hands and walk them through the most difficult moments of their lives. I make sure emergency services get where they need to go to help the people they need to help. I give them vital information so they can save the day. It’s a thankless and draining existence.

I say existence and not job because it’s not a job to me. It’s my life. I take it home with me. I dream about the 6yo child left home alone with only his 4yo sibling, crying to me on the phone while his mother was nowhere to be found. I remember the anger I felt when she was finally located at the bar down the street an hour later. 

I keep the voices with me, tucked safely in my soul. I know when my units are in distress or need backup merely by the inflection in their voices and the rapid way their breath catches the radio. My fingers fly across the keyboard and my pulse quickens and I steady my voice and enlist backup. It’s imperative that I remain calm in the face of uncertainty. For if I can’t keep calm, how can I calm them?
But for me, I just need to be able to let everything go sometimes. To unload and remove the burdens that weigh down my already heavy frame. To not have to be “on” all the time. Just for a little while. To be held and comforted and made to feel protected. But who protects the protectors? Who cares for the caretakers?

Monday, June 4, 2018


In the mornings, I creep into her bedroom to steal one last look at her peacefully dreaming,
Curled up and quiet
Knowing that when she awakens she’ll be all gangly legs and attitude
She lives in that delicate place in childhood where she is unabashedly confident and yet
needing her mother’s reassurance at every turn

In the evenings every conversation is a minefield
Dinner is a negotiation, bedtime a losing battle
I’ve somehow forgotten not to negotiate with tiny terrorists
Stall tactics, manipulation and psychological warfare
Hours later in the dark, I am overcome with flashbacks of past battles, none of which have a clear winner,
All parties exhausted with bruised egos and tear-stained cheeks

In the mornings, as I shower away the previous night’s grime and sins and disappointments,
I imagine slipping on the slick tub’s porcelain
What would it feel like to go down
Suspended for a fraction of an instant
And then crashing down in a dazzling display of splayed limbs and shooting streams of water

I want to be present
I want to get out of my own way and be the parent I needed mine to be
But they were imperfect, as am I
They did what they thought was best, as do I
Neither of us truly incorrect
Neither of us fully grasping the consequences of our actions
The waves of inadequacy crashing along the shores of the best laid plans

In my child I recognize all of the hopes and dreams of my youth
She feels so deeply that any dissent is an act of treason
My deepest fear is that one day Mommy will no longer be the super hero
With cape gently flapping in the breeze
What do I do when I’m unmasked and she exposes me for the villain that I am
There is no instruction manual in my utility belt

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Standing your Ground

5-year-old Amethyst still insists on going to bed with one of us most of the time. I believe this stems from a fear of abandonment that rears it's head in the daylight hours as well. Rob or I always have to be in the same room or an adjacent room. She needs to see one of us at all times when we're home. If either Rob or myself aren't home, she's fine. If one of her grandmothers is watching her and puts her to bed, she puts up no resistance.
Tonight of her own accord she made a deal with me.
"Mommy, if I don't watch one more show I'll go to sleep in your room, but if I do watch one more show I'll sleep in my room."
I agreed, knowing full well there would still be a struggle. Sure enough as soon as her cartoon was over the crying jag began.
"I wish I never made that deal!"
"I wanna sleep in your room!"
"I want the night to start over so I can choose the other thing!"
(Sidebar: the things this kid says boggle my mind sometimes.)
I stood my ground, and after an explanation of why she was not going to my room and the subsequent struggle to follow, I managed to steer her through her bedtime routine and place her in bed with her stuffed dinosaurs and the door open. She whimpered and pounded the wall for about 10-15 minutes, tired herself out and fell asleep. I hate when she's miserable, it makes the rest of us miserable, but I am glad I made her follow through. Like I told her, don't make deals you don't intend to keep. She thought I was going to back down and I didn't.
She may end up back in bed with me tomorrow night but for now, I'm satisfied.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Love The Skin You're In

Sitting on the beach last week, away from the din of city life, I reach a moment of intense clarity. In my little fold out chair and $10 thrift store sunglasses, I made my first steps at self actualization. Everywhere around me there were bodies. Tall bodies, petite bodies, old withered bodies, young gangly bodies. Bodies that rippled and bodies that were taut. And what's more, no one looked at another with contempt or disgust. Had I traveled that far from home? A mere two hours from the urban blight and constant barrage of body-shaming. As I looked down at my dimpled knees and pudgy toes I realized, I didn't care. I didn't care what strangers thought of my body. I didn't care that society thinks I should stay far from the beach or anywhere else I may be tempted to show skin.

Here was a whole beach full of people, showing their bodies in their most vulnerable of states and not giving a hoot what anyone thought. And no one gave me in my cleavage-baring tankini a second glance. At least not in a bad way. What a concept. Self-love and body acceptance, something I've been shouting from the rooftops for years, and yet battled with in private. It's easy to say and post and encourage others in their journeys to body acceptance, yet not so easy to look in the mirror everyday and not wince at the armfat or double chin.

For most of my life I hated myself. I tried to change who I was so people would like me, and so I would like myself. People will find a reason to dislike you no matter what you are. Some may not like your weight, or your complexion. Others may show contempt because you're a different religion or an anti-theist. It's exhausting trying to please everyone and near impossible. So I decided to please myself. I will walk into life, like the ocean, hesitant yet brave, unafraid and yet completely in awe of it's magnitude. There's nothing like the ocean to show you just how small you really are, and how free you can be.

So I will go to the beach, and the gym. Go on hikes and to ballgames and zoos. I need it just as much as other people need to see it. Normalization needs to happen. Bodies come in all shapes and sizes and just because you may not want to see fat people doesn't mean we don't exist. We do and we have a right to take up space. And get a tan. Don't like it, don't look. I will not be shamed.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Why I support your right to breastfeed even if could not

I am a mother whose plans for parenting a certain way were derailed by my daughter. I gave birth to Amethyst (Amy) naturally in a hospital with my hubby and our awesome doula. Having a natural birth and breastfeeding were important to me to give my daughter the very best start. Our hospital was fantastic, they just assumed you were breastfeeding and did not give babies formula unless otherwise instructed. We were required to have a consult  with the on-staff Lactation Consultant (LC) before being discharged.

Amy latched right away and seemed to be a pro. Over the course of our stay in the hospital it got more difficult to get my tiny babe to clamp on. Several times the LC or nurse had to come in position Amy or hold her onto me. They assured me it would get easier and sent us on our way. Cut to a week later and many crying fits from the both of us. She wasn't eating. She had such a tiny mouth and my very plus-sized body and it's large nipples (sorry for the TMI) were not helping. She just couldn't get enough areola in her mouth. We tried everything. Many calls to La Leche League (LLL) went unanswered. (I'm not downing LLL, just the ladies in the Philadelphia area that never bothered to get back to me.) My doula who was now doubling as my LC and I struggled to get her latched and then keep her that way.

Amy was loosing too much weight and not wetting enough diapers, so we started on formula. She had to eat. At this point I was pumping and still trying to breastfeed her before giving her bottles. Eventually she just flat out refused to come anywhere near my nipples. I didn't want to make her mother's breast a place of hostility, we were both miserable and defeated, so at some point I stopped giving her the breast and started pumping more. But without a baby to stimulate the hormones I barely got anything. Placenta pills, Mother's Milk Tea, fenugreek, none of it helped much. My supply dwindled and then faded away.

Despite everything, my daughter was being sustained on formula, and thanks to several very generous milky mamas via Human Milk 4 Human Babies / Eats on Feets, donated milk.

Now at 13-months old, my Amyface is off of her formula and drinking whole cow's milk and thriving. I always planned to breastfeed and it broke my heart that I failed so miserably. Many a night my hubby had to figuratively talk me off the ledge. Of course it wasn't until much after all of this that I learned that PCOS, of which I am afflicted, has adverse effects on milk production. Oh, that I would have known that before. I still plan to breastfeed my next child when they come. I have resolve.

I wish I had the opportunity to breastfeed my child exclusively and have her self-ween. That was not in the cards for us. Regardless, I support the right of all women to breastfeed their children in whatever setting they are in whatever way the deem best. Please sign the pledge to Support With Integrity a woman's right to feed her child without judgement.

Support with Integrity

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Keeping the Hip in Hypocrisy

Happy Holidays. Yep, I said Happy Holidays. Commence with the tirades about how I'm chafing your jingle bells by daring to acknowledge there are religious and/or cultural celebrations other than your own. The past few years certain people (read: bible-thumpers) yammer on and on about the Happy Holidays wishers waging a war against Christmas and the only way to regain the season is to renounce them publicly. Really guys? REALLY??

Last time I checked there was more than one holiday in December. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Yule, Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year's Eve just off the top of my head. The word holiday comes from the notion of a "Holy Day". Every religion has holy days. I don't see how telling someone to have a happy holiday is offense. If anything people are upset because it's including non-Christians. "How dare people believe in something other that what I believe in!" The sentiment is sincere, whatever you celebrate this season, I hope it's joyful. How dare I!

Furthermore, historically Jesus Christ was not born on December 25th. More accurately he was probably born in the end of September during the annual Feast of Tabernacles. He may have been conceived in December though. The Romans decided to celebrate the Christ Mass to coincide with the Winter Solstice. The Church wanted to replace the Pagan festival with a Christian holy day.

Whatever reason we celebrate Christmas today, the season has become a time to spread cheer, joy and love. To hold your loved ones close and help those less fortunate. How wishing someone a Happy Holy Day is somehow going to cheapen that is beyond me. Christ, if you chose to believe in him, was the embodiment of all of those things and I'm sure he wouldn't be offended.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What's hate got to do, got to do with it?

Hate is a very strong word. We try to teach our children not to hate, to open their hearts only to love. Tolerance and acceptance is key. But fuck if sometime you just need to get your hate on. So here's my list of hates.

Women in a public restrooms who complain about the smell. It's a freaking room full of toilets, what did you expect it to smell like, raindrops and lavender?

For that matter, people that pee all over the toilet seat in their attempt to hover over it. For the love of Pete, "If you sprinkle when you tinkle, please be sweet and WIPE THE SEAT!"

People that do not yield their seats on buses/trains to the elderly, disabled, people with small children. Have you no home training?

Speaking of public transit, is it really necessary that the whole bus hear your music blaring or you cackling at the top of your lungs on the phone? Invest in some good headphones, lower the volume a few decibels and try not to inform the entire bus of your baby daddy/mama drama.

Slow walkers! I know my chunky butt moves slowly, but come on people! When in a mall, on a major city street or in highly populated area, it is customary to walk on the left and allow people to pass you. You shouldn't just stop dead in the middle of a walkway to talk on the phone or tie your child's shoe. 'Pull over' to the side to let the people behind you pass.

Saying to a pregnant woman, "You still didn't have that baby yet?" No jackhole, she didn't. If she had she wouldn't be there listening to your inane questions. She'd be home with her baby. Sigh.

These are really all lack of tact and/or courtesy. Do parents not teach manners anymore? There are dozens more I'm forgetting, so please feel free to add your own hates.