Category Archives: Life Lessons

Live Every Day Like It’s Your First

Come on! How effin cool is rain?!

I sat down at my computer today with the full intention of writing something funny.  Something witty and clever and far, far, far away from the emotional and slightly sad tone my blog has taken as of late.  I starting typing a blog about losses and gains – about funny things that you gain and lose after having a baby.  Inconsequential things… like your mind.  However, the more I started thinking about losses, the more I started thinking about loss.  And, as so often happens when I am writing these blogs, my fingers began to take me somewhere that I didn’t know I wanted to go.  My husband says that he learns so much about me by reading my blog, and I have to say that in writing it, I learn so much about myself.  So screw funny.  It’s over-rated anyway.  (But stay tuned next week for the revival of my usual biting wit and thinly veiled sarcasm. Probably.)

I have had loss on my mind lately.  Last weekend my husband found out that one of his good friends’ wives passed away.  It was cancer.  It was quick.  It was devastating.  I personally had only met her once as they live in London, but she was a beautiful and kind woman.  She was also a wonderful mother to her two young children.  Her youngest is the same age as my daughter. When we heard the news over the weekend, my heart ached for my husband’s friend who was left without a wife and especially for those two young girls who were left without a mother.  But I also ached for this young, vibrant mother who will not get the chance to see her children grow up.

As I said before, I didn’t know her very well.  But in the short time we spent together, I was struck by how much she reminded me of me.  She was about my age.  She loved her family.  She loved to have fun.  She loved to laugh.  She loved life.  We were both pregnant when we met, although she already had one daughter.  She was wise and experienced and she graciously answered all of my (many, many) questions about babies and about motherhood.  Since then, I expect that the past year-and-a-half since her daughter was born was a lot like mine:  sleepless nights, blissful moments, more laughter than she ever thought possible.  I am sure that she spent many hours marveling at the perfection of her daughter’s face and imagining the possibilities of her daughter’s future, much the way that I have.

Then she woke up one day, just like any other day, but on this day she had a headache.  She woke up with plans and hopes and dreams, just like any other day, but she didn’t know that this particular day would be her last.  She didn’t know that she would never get to see her children grow up, get married, or have children of their own.  She didn’t know that she would never again get to marvel at the beauty of her daughter’s face or get the chance to discover who her daughters will become.

She reminded me a lot of me, and I think that’s why I felt the loss so greatly, even though I barely knew her.  If it could happen to someone like her, then it could certainly happen to someone like me.  None of us know which day will be our last.  And as sad as this thought makes me, it is also a reminder of how wonderfully precious life is.  A wise somebody once said that we should, “Live every day like it is our last.”  And while I do think this is sound advice, I also think it is a bit too sad for my taste.  It is hard to think of our last days without feeling a bit melancholy, and I don’t want to live every day like that.

Instead, I am going to try to live every day as if it is my first.  Like a child.  Full of the magic and wonder and true appreciation that comes from experiencing everything for the first time.  Without the fear and regret we learn as we get older and “wiser”, and without the ambivalence that often comes with age.   The world is full of amazing things and people and moments that, as adults, we often fail to recognize or even see.

My daughter’s new word is “Wow!”  A bird in the sky gets a heartfelt “Wow!”; fitting the right puzzle pieces together gets a “Wow!”; seeing a dog on the street gets a “Wow!”; even my stepping out of the shower naked got a “Wow!” (It’s been a while since that happened, but I will try not to let it go to my head.) A bite of cheesecake, a big splash in the bath, my funky neon green nails, a great song, a perfect hi-five… all of these are deemed “Wow!” worthy by my daughter.  And they are. Each and every day is full of these simple Wow! moments if we are young and wise enough to recognize them.

And while I hope that I have many, many (many, many, many, many) more Wow! moments left before my last day, I am going to try to live them all like they are my first.
photo credit: Frederic Mancosu via photopin cc

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Good Mom = Bad Everything Else

It’s been a couple of weeks since I wrote a solid post, and to those of you who plan your life and all major decisions around my blog posts, I sincerely apologize. To the rest of you aka all of you, I apologize as well. As you may have gathered from my mostly short yet bitter posts over the past few weeks, I have had a bit going on. My daughter got Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease, which was an agonizing week of high fevers and Contagion-style quarantine. She was recovered for approximately two days before she spent a night throwing up for reasons unknown, and then miraculously recovered again for about a week. She then got Erythema Multiforme related to the HFMD virus, which caused even higher fevers and horrible hive-like lesions and sores all over her little body, including the inside of her mouth. Fun for the whole family! After a week of that madness, she recovered for a day – just long enough for us to overconfidently decide to celebrate with a weekend getaway. On the first day of the vacation she got a nasty cold complete with, yes, a high fever.

Needless to say, it has been a tough month.  Definitely the toughest month since my daughter was born.  And it feels like maybe the toughest month since I was born.  I have had some hard times in my life, though admittedly not as hard as many.  I have had my fair share of illnesses, surgeries and hospital stays.  Somehow though, it seems more difficult to take when it is happening to my daughter rather than directly to me.

Of course, it hasn’t been all bad.  There have been some great moments when she is feeling better and all seems right in the world.  I have learned a lot of lessons.  I have gained a bit (ok, a teeny, tiny bit) of patience.  I have discovered that I can be stronger than I ever thought I could be.  However, I have been working so hard to be a good mom that I haven’t had much time to be a good… anything else.

I haven’t had much time to be a good friend. Many a phone call, text and email has gone unreturned in the past month.  And when I do manage to find the time to chat with my friends, it’s mostly just to vent.  I end up talking so much about what’s going on in my life, that I rarely ask what’s going on in theirs.  Jerk!

I haven’t been a good worker.  I have turned down a lot of work simply because I just can’t take care of my daughter and take care of work too.  I had a choice to make, and as a freelancer, I was in the position to make it, so I chose my daughter.  I wouldn’t change those decisions, but it doesn’t exactly make me the most reliable person to hire.

I haven’t been a good homemaker.  Not that I usually excel in this arena, but my usually feeble attempts at cooking, cleaning and hosting have gotten beyond pathetic – we’re talking frozen dinners/baby stuff covering every surface of the house/turning my underwear inside out so I don’t have to do laundry – pathetic.

I most definitely haven’t been a good wife.  When I am stressed, sad and angry at life, or even when I am frustrated with my daughter, I have to take it out on someone.  I obviously can’t take it out on my daughter and I don’t have life’s email or phone number, so the back-up choice has been my husband.  Fortunately I picked a partner who doesn’t usually feel the need to take his frustrations out on anyone, but who understands me enough to know that I do.  And so he lets me.  Usually.

And out of everyone, the person I have treated the worst is myself.  I have stopped exercising, managed to take stress-eating to whole new level of disgusting, and some days have decided to forgo even the most basic levels of general hygiene (I guess I should apologize to my husband for that one too.)  And as a general warning to anyone who encounters me on the street, I am prone to break down in tears for no reason, and just as likely to start muttering to myself in a scream-whisper.  Oh yeah, and there’s a strong chance that I will be wearing a dirty bathrobe.  At first I thought I might be pregnant.  Now, I realize that I have slowly been losing my mind.

I am a half step away from ribbon roll earrings and rollers in public. Next stop: Eating my own hair.

But things are looking up.  My daughter is finally recovering from the latest installment of Outbreak 2012, hopefully this time for longer than a day or two.  So, there will be no more excuses.  No more of the selfish friend who only talks about herself.  No more of the wife whose husband is slightly afraid he will wake up in the middle of the night to find her standing over him with a butter knife.  No more main-lining red wine/coffee/entire sleeves of Oreos.  No more half-assed work.  No more depressing blogs (for now). No more messy house…Ok, ok. Who I am kidding? I have a toddler.  The house will always be messy.  Deal with it… or you may wake up to find me standing over you with a butter knife.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Round and Round

I swear that being a parent is the craziest roller coaster in the world.

My daughter is sick yet again, for the third week out of four weeks. This time with a nasty cold and again with a fever hitting above 104. She was up at midnight night crying inconsolably. Probably because she was tired but couldn’t sleep, scared because she couldn’t breathe, and angry because Mama couldn’t fix it. She was screaming and crying, and I was crying because I couldn’t help her. And I was tired because I haven’t once slept through the night in the past month.  And it was midnight. And I was thinking, “I don’t know if I can do this anymore.”

Then, morning came. And the sun was shining. And my daughter woke up feeling a bit better. And she hugged me tight and said “Lub you” in her little, hoarse, stuffy-nosed voice. And I thought, “I don’t know what I ever did before this.”


photo credit: Hamed Saber via photopin cc

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Just Say No to Crocs

My husband has pretty good fashion sense (he is Italian after all) but he is also a dad, and I am pretty sure that before they give you your Daddy license, they have to make sure that you own a pair of Crocs. How else could you explain the prevalence of this hideously ugly rubber footwear among men who are old enough to know better?  Anyway, so Daddy has a pair of Crocs that he wears around the house and to do yard work.  Today, we were outside in the garden, and then decided to take a short walk around the hood.  Halfway down the street my daughter stops in her tracks, points down at daddy’s shoes and says, “UH OH!”  My sentiments exactly, honey.

Just say no to Crocs. It’s for your own safety.

Tagged , , , , ,

Life Is Funny

Like the title says… Life is funny.  And I don’t just mean 10,000-forks-when-all-you-need-is-a-knife-isn’t-it-ironic-funny, I mean Gut-busting, Mind-blowing, Pants-Wetting FUNNY.  So go ahead and laugh.  If you can manage to do that, your life will improve 10,000%. I money-back guarantee it.  And if it doesn’t… you know where to find me.

ps.  I don’t have any money

 

**photo credit:  someecards.com

Tagged , , , , ,

Talk Aint Cheap (but it sure can sound that way…)

The other day I was at Target (it’s an addiction, people) and I heard someone say quite loudly, “GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE NOW!”  Curious, I looked in the general direction of the obnoxious voice and saw an angry-looking woman screaming at… a two-year-old.  Yes, a two-year-old.  As in a sweet, innocent, curious and slightly naughty because they all are, two-year-old.  The next day, my husband and I were with our daughter at a the park.  As we were playing in the sand, two more kids came to join us:  a little boy around two and his sister, who was about five.  As we are playing, the older girl began to scold her brother and my daughter.  “I told you to SHARE!” she said, ripping a toy from her brother’s hands.  I know that she is just a little girl, but after 15 minutes of this, I was slightly appalled and totally annoyed, so we moved away to play in a different area.  My husband, wise as ever, remarked, “I feel sorry for that girl.  That must be the way her parents talk to her.  It’s probably the only way she knows how to talk.”  Of course, he was right.  Kids don’t come out of the womb talking. (Thank goodness, I wouldn’t want to hear all of the things I was doing wrong in those first few weeks!)  Language is a learned skill.  When you speak to your children, you are not only teaching them words, but habits as well as values. It is not just what you say, but how you say it, and what it means.

Maybe it is because I am a writer, but I have always been in awe of the power of words. The most influential figures in history such as Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, Obama, and even Hitler, although clearly less positively,  have changed the world through their words.  For better or worse, it was their words and the manner in which they spoke them that inspired the masses – not their physical strength, money or weapons.  Words can truly do what no gun or bomb can, although they can be just as destructive.

If you think about it, most of the pivotal moments, both good and bad, in one’s life stem from words. “I love you.” “Congratulations!” “You’re fired.” “Mama. (my personal fave!)”   “Your offer was accepted.” “It’s not you, it’s me.” “I do.” “It’s a girl.” “Cancer.”  “You passed.” “Honey, would you like another glass of wine? (These particular words led to the conception of our daughter.)”  Yes, words are important.  They shape the course of one’s life.  But they also shape the course of one’s self.  No matter how strong you are, it’s difficult not to let another person’s words shape your perception of yourself.  And unfortunately it is often so much easier to believe the bad words rather than the good.  Why is that?  No matter how high your self-esteem has been built from a lifetime of encouragement and compliments, sometimes it takes only a single negative comment to knock it all down.  No matter how many people tell you that you are smart, kind, funny, beautiful, thin, or a great mother, all it takes is one person’s criticism to plant the seeds of self-doubt. And often our harshest and most outspoken critic is ourself. It’s hard for any amount of compliments to overcome our own negative thoughts.  Strange as it seems, a thousand “I love you”s can hardly stand up to a single “I hate myself.”

If we understand the power of words, then we must understand the responsibility that each of us holds… not only to other people, but also to ourselves and most importantly, to our children.  I am just now truly beginning to comprehend the weight of this responsibility.  My daughter started talking a few months ago, and now it seems as though she is picking up a new word every day, as well as repeating everything we say.  It’s cute when she repeats “I love you.” – or at least something that sounds like it – but terrifying when she says, “Yeah” in exactly the same annoying-teenage-girl manner in which I sometimes catch myself saying it.  And I already told you about my Friday night “Oh Sh!t”s slip up with my friend’s two-year-old.  If that poor kid becomes anything less than a successful doctor, lawyer or scientist, I am definitely going to blame his downward spiral on myself.

If you can’t think of something nice to say, don’t say it at all… especially if it is about me.

All joking aside though, a slip-up is bound to happen here and there.  We are only human, and some situations require the use of the colorful language that slides so easily off the tongue.  Shit happens, so to speak, so we can’t beat ourselves up about it. What is more important is the way we speak every day, not only when our kids are listening, but also when they are not.  I have learned that, like both the government and Perez Hilton, kids have eyes and ears everywhere.  They are always listening and learning from you, so be careful what you teach them.  Think about it… how can you teach your children to respect everyone, if they constantly hear you bashing that bitchy co-coworker or annoying neighbor to your girlfriends?  How can they learn equality when they hear you talking down to others?  How can your daughter feel beautiful if she hears you constantly bemoaning your own looks?  How can your kids learn to fight fair if they hear you and your husband fighting dirty?  The basic rule:  If you can’t think of something nice to say, don’t say it at all.  I know this phrase is just as annoying now as it was when your third grade teacher said it (along with “Keep your hands to yourself” and “Stop eating paste, Courtney.” ) but it’s true. It’s a tough one for me though.  I am naturally blunt, sarcastic, judgemental, easily annoyed and I love a good bit of gossip.  None of these things usually result in anything nice to say, so that often leaves me unusually mute. But I am a work in progress and I am working on these things for my daughter’s sake.  I hope you will too.

With every word we speak we are teaching our children, not only how to talk, but how to live.  So make sure you are doing your best to teach them the right way to do both.  Your kids will thank you someday… hopefully with perfect spelling and grammar.

Tagged , , , , , , ,