Tag Archives: God

Thank God it’s Monday

legoscreamface

I think I must have said twice today “I’m turning into my mother.”

The first time I said it was when talking with a friend when I asked her for the names of two neighbors. I knew their children’s names, but for some reason, the mom’s names just escaped me. I felt horrible. I called my friend whose been on the block for almost 20 years for help. As I was apologizing for asking her, I said flippantly, “I must have early-onset. I’m turning into my mother.” (My mom has Alzheimer’s and fear creeps in at times I can’t recall names!)

The second time I said “I’m turning into my mother” was to myself as I tried to listen to my four-year-old talk during bath-time. I was listening to him—sort of—but my mind kept mulling over the events of the day, and how poorly I dealt with them. My little guy has been fighting yet another nasty cold and potential pink eye all weekend. We had gone to urgent care to get those pink eye drops just in case and I shouldn’t have expected that he’d be a perfectly behaved boy. But Friday night he woke up a lot and crawled into my bed coughing on my face so much I didn’t rest well with fitful dreams of catching something. I was already a bit of a zombie on Saturday, so I had no right to go to a friend’s house and to stay up late watching a movie. Boys were asleep, but I stayed up till after midnight watching a Clint Eastwood flick. (I’ve become a fan recently, go figure!) So when my youngest woke up at 6 a.m. Sunday, coughing and making a lot of noise, stomping on the stairs, jumping on me and then later fighting with his brother, I was instantly anxious and grouchy and started rounded up all items for a quick exit. I even talked to myself snappily (something about hating my life and bad decisions) as I stomped around and tried to get the boys sorted. I over-reacted and was in panic mode about kids waking up the household. But of course, I behaved badly by not staying calm and said things I didn’t mean.

It’s just silly. I mean, what was I thinking? Of course he’d get up at 6. Duh.

My day got a little nutty, which is to be expected with a sick kiddo. James had a temper tantrum in the Vet’s office where I was picking up meds for our cat. He sat on the floor between the halfway open front door, where he had jammed his rear-end, and screamed, “I’m SO tired. I just want to go back to the CAAAARRRRR!” Followed by a hick-up.

So,  I picked up my 40 pounder and carried him to car, now kicking and screaming that he now doesn’t want to go to the car. You know, the typical insane rant of a tired, not-feeling-well, four-year-old. I snap him in, without a word, straighten my back and blow out air. Thank God his older brother was on a play-date. I naively thought he’d go to sleep right away.

We go on a long drive out to Palos Verdes to rise above the clouds, get a vista, and let him sleep. He screamed for 10 minutes, which felt like an eternity. I couldn’t even understand what he was saying. My heart started racing. Seriously?! This again? I begin to feel sorry for myself a bit, and handed him a sandwich. (My kid has an amazing relationship with food, so snacks are key.) A few bites and he falls asleep with the ham sandwich still in his tight, little grip. It would be comical if I didn’t have cortisol surging through my veins. With silence enveloping the car like angel’s breath, I thought: How the Hell do moms of three or four kids do this?!

As James was relaxing and chatting NONSTOP in the tub tonight (now onto the topic of just how Lion King’s dad kept talking to him since he was dead), I zoned out and thought about that moment in Palos Verdes in the car when I wondered how other moms keep their sanity. And then it hit me: I’ve turned into my mother.

My mom was such a wonderful, stressed-out, loving, mess. Seriously, she’d gasp sharply whenever the phone rang and jump with fear of an impending emergency. (She was a child-protective services social worker who gave out her home number to clients, so we often had interesting calls.) Occasionally when all four of her children were driving her crazy, she’d snap, “Someday, I’m just going to run away!”

I used to laugh then, but I now know exactly what she meant! I’m sure she was just thinking out loud, not even aware that she said it, as her heart raced madly while four kids were either yelling, hitting, punching, torturing one of our many pets, or up to some other mischief. I’m frankly amazed that she wasn’t a drinker.

Kids are tough. No wonder my brain is mush by Sunday night. It’s a wonder that I can even write this column. I apologize if it’s under par. Maybe I should just quit writing on Sunday evenings due to kiddo brain drain.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love, love, LOVE my little guys. I’m the luckiest mom on Earth to have them.

But thank GOD tomorrow is Monday.

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Loving Counts

My prophetic little four-year-old said to me tonight: “Loving counts mommy.”

We had been hanging pictures up. I turned and looked at him. I actually blinked as I took in the simple notion, then replied: “Yes, it certainly does.”

What an incredible little man.

Sometimes it’s as simple as that. What counts in your life? Think about it.

What do you love most?

Your family? Your God? Your Work?

Does it show?

For me, love is essential. It is essential in every aspect of my life. My boys are everything to me. But I wonder if they always feel that from me. Saying that I love them is one thing. Showing them is quite another.

For a child, I wonder what defines love? It certainly has to be about more than saying ‘I Love You’ or buying cool toys. Kids always seem to cut right to the chase. They know who they can depend upon. They know who is kind. They respond to those who play with them, acknowledge them, listen to them, encourage them, take care of them, accept them.

I know that my two boys are the most appreciative when I’m present with them. They know when it’s time to turn off the computer or cell phone and just be with them.

Being present, however, is much harder than it sounds. The other day I had an insane tax deadline. I was up until 2 a.m. working, slept for three hours, and was back at it. At 7 a.m., as I was finishing my expense spreadsheet, my little guy comes into my room and starts to climb into bed. He ruffles my sheets and starts to crumple some papers and receipts. I yelled upstairs to my older son to take him up and put on Sesame Street. As he padded out of my room, I instantly felt remorse. If I had finished this project earlier, I wouldn’t have sent him away and just enjoyed some cuddle time.

Clearly, ‘loving’ requires a bit of organization and balance so that work doesn’t intrude on important quality time at home.

‘Being present’, according to mindfulness experts, also requires that you let go of anxieties and fears that distract you and pull you out of the moment. If you have deadlines looming, projects that need to be carried out, are going through a divorce or are facing health or personal challenges—it’s incredibly hard to clear worries from your mind and just listen to or play with your children, isn’t it? (For a great article about mindfulness, check out What Really Helps Make Mindfulness Work by Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D.)

I’m still finding my way and started meditating on a regular basis just this past year. I’ve done yoga for years and find that it helps me clear my mind. The physical exertion and mental focus on intentions and goals allows me to let go of issues and anxieties that may whirl in my mind. I find that afterwards my mental slate is clear and I’m much more focused and calm that evening with the boys. I’m still a work in progress, clearly.

While I’m still honing mindfulness techniques, I have learned that it’s incredibly hard NOT to live in the moment when spending time with a loved one with Alzheimer’s Disease. I flew to North Carolina last week to visit my mother who is struggling in what seems to be the final phase of the disease. She didn’t know who I was. She can barely talk or walk. I think she just thought of me as a friendly face. I had to force myself to always smile, relax, and think about what she needed or what would reassure her when visiting. I knew after each visit that she wouldn’t remember I had been there the next day. But I reminded myself that in the moments that I held her hand, or showed her pictures, or just talked with her about various things, that it mattered. It counted. Those moments were hard for me, but they brought her a bit of happiness—even if fleeting. And she deserves that.

On the last day I spent with her—on the day that I likely said my goodbye—my mom was ‘playing’ bingo with other residents. The woman who ran the game would call out the letter and number combinations. My mother, who doesn’t recognize her numbers or letters anymore, would put a marker on any letter/number combination. She apparently still recognized that four in a row allowed her to win—so she just kept putting four in a row. B-6 might be called, but she’d put her acorn on C-12, right beside another marker. I knew not to correct her.

“Wow, mom, you won again!” I’d say with a laugh.

She’d just smile. One time she looked at me inquisitively and said slowly, “I. Like. You.”

That was a big accomplishment as she typically speaks with just one word.

I replied “Well, I Love you.”

She looked at me like I was a bit crazy, giving me a one-over glance.

Later in the day, I went through her sweaters and found one that still fit. As I was putting it on her, she quickly smiled. It was as if she had been shaken and her eyes got wide with acknowledgment. She leaned into me and said, “Love.” I put my forehead to hers and a moment later she said “You.”

As I settled into my seat on my first plane during my trek back to California, I thought that it may be a long time before I got the chance to see mom again. It’s hard to fly back with the two boys due to expense. I know if I was closer I could do more, visit more. It was such a gift to hear her say those words. And in that moment, I know she meant it. In that flash of recognition, she knew who I was. It might have only lasted a second for her—but for me, it counted.

Even when brief and fleeting, loving counts most of all.

Injuries and Answers: What a Week!

This week has been a nutty one for sure. On Tuesday I tore a ligament or ruptured my tendon, still not sure, during a pilates class. It slowed me down quite a bit as you can imagine. Thank GOD for my wonderful boyfriend who picked up my oldest, took him to violin practice and then picked up my three-year-old, fed them, and let me go to the emergency room alone. What a relief! And, lucky me, the ER doc is a tri-athlete (of course, in the South Bay!) and knew exactly what my injury was and how best to deal with it.

Two days later, I refused to cancel an appointment with a specialist for my three-year-old. I managed to hobble to the appointment as my little guy needs help and answers. We have to get to the bottom of why he has been sick most of his little life. He had severe colic at four months of age that lasted three months. He would scream for five hours at a time every evening. He had ear/sinus infections and colds often. This past month he was on antibiotics 20 days out of 31. His colds, bronchitis, asthma, gunky nose and ear infections would always come back. He is chronically sleep-deprived as he has much difficulty falling asleep. I’ve been exhuasted for years as I tend to lie down with him and try to help him sleep. He falls asleep by 9:30 p.m. on a good night, sometimes 11 p.m.! The little guy is cranky and full of nervous energy. He has had two official bouts of pneumonia and I’m convinced at least one other. The specialist I saw last year, after testing him for allergies that came up negative, just asked that I buy a nebulizer and give him albuterol treatments six to seven times a day when a cold first emerges. That is clearly NOT an answer as the asthma meds just get his heart racing and ramp him up so it’s impossible for him to sleep. The doctor I saw last week just gave me a steroid spray and suggested that I do this every day. Also, a bit scary as he’s only three…how long did she want me to continue with steroids? So, instinctively, I’ve just known that it’s critical that he get sleep anyway he can. He mouth breathes a lot and sleeps better when he’s sitting upright. So for the past three years, I’m constantly pushing him in the stroller on runs to let him sleep or driving long distances so he naps upright in the car seat. Whatever works, right?

My little guy napping in the car.

As I mentioned, I hobbled to another specialist/allergist on Thursday. He may not have all the right solutions for my little guy, but I think he discovered the problem. After testing for 16 more allergens and coming up empty, I asked that he check James’ adenoids. It was painful to watch. I held my son down as they stuck tube cameras down his nostrils. Sure enough, even on a “good breathing day” his adenoids were huge. That explains everything! No wonder he can’t sleep when lying flat. No wonder when he has a cold, let alone a sinus or ear infection, he can barely sleep and is cranky and mouth breathing. No wonder he’s hyperactive and cranky due to sleep deprivation. Poor fella. Well, the specialist made me take James to another Doctor on Friday who took four vials of blood to test for any possible antibody/immune system disorders or imbalances. He also asked that I use a steroid spray on his throat for years. He says steroids can reduce adenoid size and you can avoid surgery. Maybe. But I think I’ll find a good Ear/Nose/Throat specialist and have the adenoids removed. My oldest had to be rushed to the ER via ambulance when we lived in London and he was three, due to adenoids. He had sleep apnea and I was terrified listening to his breathing stop and hearing him gasp for breath during the night. Just before his 4th birthday, he finally had to have an emergency adenoidectomy when back in the States. After healing from surgery, my oldest was completely fine. And, he never had another ear infection or breathing issue at night.

I’m SO grateful that my little guy may soon be able to sleep, breathe clearly and live without constant infections and bronchitis. It’s such a relief and so satisfying that this mother’s instinct was right all along. Something other than allergies triggering asthma was at work here. There was a reason my other-wise sweet natured and loving boy would transform into a raging, cranky bugs and a whirling derviche during bedtime hours. I’m convinced that he’ll be a completely different child once he’s able to sleep regularly and there isn’t a constant restriction of oxygen to his brain.

Thank God for tiny miracles. Thank God for intuition. Thank God 3.5 years of sleep deprivation for this family, may soon be coming to an end. Now lets just hope I can manage to stay off my feet! Running, power-walking, sunshine, yoga and pilates were my tools to tackle sleep deprivation and depression. My exercise and the California sunshine got me through my darkest days when parenting a baby alone with my husband in Europe. I’m hooked on the adrenaline and endorphins. They clear my mind, race oxygen to my brain and muscles and bring hope to my heart. I’m not sure what I can do while sitting on my tush that will help keep me sane and uplifted. Maybe I’ll have to invest in a pool membership as something tells me there’s NO way I can stay put for an entire month! But, wow, I’m excited about the future for a restful household.

Know thy Self

This is so beautiful, I had to share. Tracie, I love your photography and the inspiration you weave with it.

Finding the Light Within

Whenever I begin to feel jealousy, anger, pity or fear creep in—the four pitfalls I imagine many single moms tripping over—I stop and take a breath. I let myself step aside (sort of like a Woody Allen moment with the protagonist asking the audience for insight) and ask why I am sinking to these depths. Intellectually I know it’s not helping. Going through the process of divorce is gut-wrenching enough. Adding insult to injury by sinking to such negative thoughts, only keeps us mentally in the basement. How someone else treats us isn’t always deserved, or in any way reasonable. But knowing this, and feeling this, are two different things entirely. I understand. For two years I’ve wrestled with insecurities that I never had before. Getting to the place where I feel beautiful, loving, and like I am a gift to my children, has been a long walk of faith.

I’d like to walk that with you. I’m still finding my own way, but want to walk with you—especially those who are just going through the storm—as you hold your breath and put one foot, (metaphorically) in front of the other.

I’m currently working with a spiritual counselor and feel so blessed by her insight. One of the exercises that has helped me the most is that of meditation and focus on love. Love requires no formal religion—so no matter your faith—this exercise will help you. Over time, it creates what is called a bleed-over. The more you visualize yourself as a seed of light and love and harmony, the sooner you realize that it’s true. And once you do—no one, or anyone’s behavior—can take that away from you.

If you’ve received a crushing blow to your ego and self esteem, as many women who are dealing with infidelity have shared with me, there comes a time when those insecurities will begin to lift. Sure, there will always be people who are younger, physically more beautiful, more intelligent or more athletic than you. But these qualities don’t ultimately define us. They aren’t the essence of who we are. They don’t create the “je ne sais quoi” that the French refer to—meaning the intangible, or inexplainable quality that makes someone distinctive or attractive or irresistible. I’ve always imagined that this comes from an inexplicable source of light within a person. Have you ever met someone who isn’t quite beautiful, but his or her smile or lightness in mood or sense of goodness blows you over until you begin to think of that person akin to an angel? If you haven’t experienced this, you may think I’m nuts. If you have, you know exactly what I mean. I don’t pretend to have any of the answers for us, but I do know that we are all equal in God’s eyes. We all have access to light and love. All I know is that the more I focus on that, the less I focus on anything dark. Hurtful things people say or do begin to fall to the wayside as I focus on being a light to myself, my children and those I love.

If you are motivated, try this exercise with me for a week and let me know if it is changing your perceptions, mood, relationships with your kids, your Ex, etc.

Each night as you drift off to sleep, breathe deeply and visualize divine light bubbling up from the core of your body. It begins to spread throughout your body: up through your chest, your arms, down your legs, and out your toes, fingers and head. Say to yourself, “I am filled with light.” Imagine sharing the light with your children and even extend some love and light to your Ex, your extended family and any friends that you want to reach. Hold no other thoughts other than letting those you care about, feel light and love. Hold no agendas. Breathe deeply. Feel warmth run through your body, and begin to think of at least five things you are thankful for. Even if you can only think of things such as food, your car making it to work, or running water, be thankful for those things. The list will grow over time.

Allow yourself to drift off to sleep after saying your thanks.  Do this every night for a week. Even if you are in pain. Even if you are distracted. Perhaps especially so.

Remember, no matter what someone has done to you, it doesn’t define you. It doesn’t diminish your “je ne sais quoi” —your light within.

For some of you reading this, my words may seem a bit cheesy or saccharine. Sure, I know some of you are struggling with child custody battles, health issues, child support default, etc. The issues are heartbreaking. Perhaps this little exercise seems useless. Perhaps you think it’s silly. Try to push self-depricating thoughts aside and entertain this idea for a week anyway. What do you have to lose? Over time, you may begin to really feel that you are a source of light and love. And once you do, I have a hunch that your contagious energy will carry you forward throughout all your struggles with much more ease, confidence and less stress. And lowering stress is essential. I’m currently writing an article for a national magazine about the effects of severe stress on women’s health. It’s not pretty. Our children deserve healthy and happy moms. Lets try to give them what they—and we—deserve.

Lots of love,

Laura

Waiting to Re-Emerge

Photo by Miroslav Petrasko

I’ve been under the weather, so has my oldest for weeks. Also slammed with deadlines and an inability to completely get through some fears that linger. (Two steps forward, one back.) I will start my project soon and continue with this blog, regardless of pressure to stop. In a way, I’m waiting to truly emerge again after events from the New Year. There is so little we can control in life, except the way we live. It reminds me of a Jackson Browne line: “Nothing Survives, but the Way We Live Our Lives.”

Anyway, this week I’m feeling down and a bit defeated by things out of my control. I’ll have to not let them hold me back permanently. The year started out so amazing, however. I spent New Years week on a cruise watching a man emerge into grace. (Emerge seems to be my word for the evening, bare with me.) I watched him take care of his father who took a dramatic turn for the worse. With humor and compassion, he took such amazing around-the-clock care of his father without one word of complaint. I don’t know if I could be as strong or as graceful in the same circumstances. And, by the end of the cruise, his adorable father was much better. But even at his worst, the 80-year-old man had me laughing and wishing I could be so much fun to be around when I felt like crap. It was a reminder to me of what is important. I’ve had so many reminders in my life so far, that I wonder why I seem to keep needing them? And while I’ve been pondering so many of life’s lessons, I guess right now I’m focussed on one: sometimes, protecting those we love, or ourselves, takes a bit of courage. So, in a muddled hour tonight, as I wrestle with sinus headache, heartache, and so many thoughts, I ran across this old post from a fellow blogger:

“when I decided to give up what I thought was right for me and truly let go of the sadness in the past, did things come together for me. I have read many books about “letting go” of the things that have hurt us and focus on present circumstances-quite frankly I thought this was a bunch of made up feel good nonsense. But it was only when I stopped holding on and gave up feeling rotten, opened up my mind and heart, did things really start to happen for me”

I couldn’t agree with her more. (Read her post She Never Saw It Coming.)

My problem isn’t that of letting go of the past and moving forward—but just in the confidence necessary to keep moving forward regardless of where that leads. I’ll just add the caveat that focussing on present circumstances can only be helpful if those circumstances aren’t mired with toxic distractions so you can go where you need to go. Phew, too heavy, right? I’m taking a short time out, or a breather, to listen, watch, gain a bit of strength and re-emerge.

Good night all. I’ll be back in better form soon. x