I feel myself grasping at those little moments of bliss–hearing Max say, “mama”, listening to Evelyn lose herself in fits of uncontrollable giggles, Max reaching for me with two stretched out arms, Evie slipping her little hand in mine. I know these moments that make my heart tingle must be appreciated for they are as fleeting as they are beautiful. I know there will be so many more moments. But I try to memorize each moment because it makes me sad to think about these little gifts fading away.
I don’t do Valentine’s Day. The mushy sappy stuff between partners makes me uncomfortable. Embarrassed even. Hold the cards. The flowers. The candy. Okay bring the candy but ditch the heart shaped box. Good lord. Don’t you dare write me a love poem. Love is what you do, not what you say. It is what you do every single day.
And when it comes to my kids, I am a syrupy sweet mess. But not high fructose corn syrup. More like beautiful local honey.
In addition to whispering sweet nothings into their precious little ears comes one the hard part of loving my children. The notion that I need to do so mindfully. And consequently the guilt. Because when you set the highest standards for a 24 hour a day job, you will inevitably fail from time to time. I carry the guilt around with me constantly because at almost any given moment, I know I could be doing better as a parent. A perpetually growing list of things I should be doing more of, less of, things I should be doing better.
Sometimes I think there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all that I want to do. But there are some days that I think there are too many hours in the day and I am guiltily willing the universe to speed earth’s rotation to bedtime.
Today I am thinking about self love. As a mother, I’ve all but abandoned this art. Get your mind out of the gutter. I’m talking about finding the time to take care of myself–to groom, to eat healthily, to exercise, to do things I love, to catch up with old friends, to make new friends, to sleep in, to indulge in a little selfishness. Selfishness used to come so naturally. Now it is almost painful. And I need to force myself or be forced to take time to smell the roses sans children.
I looked in the car mirror today and saw very noticeable gray hairs and those little wrinkles in the corner of my eyes and those very dark circles under them. My hair was (mostly) shoved back in a bun which it almost always is because I think it has been about a year since my last haircut. Holy cow. I am 36 years old and I have two children, a husband, a house, and a cat. I feel like some sort of parental imposter. Any minute I will wake up to my real life where I am 20 something and single. It will be 11 AM and I will be sleeping in my designer clothing that I passed out in after partying all night.
And then I will miss my children. I will remember that I spent my whole life searching for something–anything–so personally fulfilling as being a mother. Designer clothing. Sleeping in. They’ve got nothing on the yoga pants and stained t-shirts that came with the two true loves of my life.
Oh, it has been a wild and crazy couple of weeks. And oh how my definition of wild and crazy has changed. Nothing I have to report will make you blush.
I spent a couple of nights in the hospital with Miss Maxine last week. I was going to write a post about our hospital stay and all of the ways the doctors and nurses pissed me off. But honestly, I just don’t have the extra energy to think about that now. I barely have the energy to attend to my personal hygiene. Some would argue that I am not really even attending to that in any way that compels others to come within a three foot radius of me.
In the beginning of the week, my little Xiner started to feel much better. The little toothy grin that had been missing from my world, burst back into my world. And even though there were literally six loads of unfolded laundry on my dining room table–and about six more to do, we were in dire need of groceries, and I could barely keep my eyes open, all was suddenly right in my world.
And then there is my Evie. And what can I say about her except that the girl is a fabulous little human with the bravest little heart. She actually missed the first part of the week of school because she had some tummy issues going on. But she has been making some serious eye contact lately. She’s also been saying a few words really consistently. I especially love the way she hisses, “please” at us. What I love most is the fact that she has been smiling and laughing so often. I cannot begin to describe what seeing those smiles and hearing that laughter does to me. Joy.
Evie did a 24 hour EEG starting yesterday….so down and back to Dartmouth twice. People touching her head and hair–there is not too much worse in the world for her. She took it in such stride. She truly blows my mind almost every day. I really do love being this girl’s mama more than I could ever say.
The fabulous Aunt Jeannie came up to help us out with the trips to Dartmouth. Both girls adore her. And even though she is a security risk(I have to keep my eye on her or she will take off with my babies), she is such a tremendous help. I sort of fall into this comatose state of motherhood when she is around. I should be embarrassed by how incredibly lazy I become. But I am really too tired to be embarrassed. So I am just grateful.
On that note, I am off to bed. Jeannie is keeping Maxine in her bed tonight…at least we are going to try it. I may just get a pretty darn good night of sleep.
The croup sunk its evil teeth into Maxine’s lungs on Wednesday. By Thursday morning, things were bad. Even after paging Maxine’s pediatrician first thing for a script, things were feeling dire by late morning leading to a panicky call back to the pediatrician.
“Should I call 911?”
I will never forgive myself for asking that question of the pediatrician instead of calling.
“I don’t think that is necessary. Take her to Fannie Allen.”
Following this advice instead of my instincts–one of my biggest failures as a mother.
By the time we got to Fannie Allen Urgent Care, Maxine had a look about her that meant we were ushered past the waiting room full of patients into a room. Human resources, spread thin during cold and flu season, followed us to Maxine’s room. Not a good sign to have multiple nurses, a doctor, a physician’s assistant, and a medical technician all crowding around Maxine with furrowed eyebrows–the telltale sign of concern.
Some chilling moments when Maxine’s pulse oxygen dropped into the seventies. Steroid shots were administered and a mask blowing some sort of mist in Maxine’s face. A too bright voice told me that an ambulance had been called to transport Maxine to Fletcher Allen.
By the time the ambulance arrived, Maxine’s coloring was a shade of blue gray that caused my heart to rise up into my throat and those butterflies to fill my stomach with furious beating wings. And Maxine, who had been working so hard to breath, seemed to be working less and less. This was not comforting when coupled with her coloring and the looks that were being exchanged by the medical professionals while Maxine was strapped to the gurney and wheeled out to the ambulance.
I was directed to sit in the front of the ambulance. No way. I took my seat in the back of the ambulance by Maxine’s gurney. Maxine looked lifeless. The screaming I was doing in my head seemed to play out in the desperate sirens and blaring horn of the ambulance. And I sat at Maxine’s bedside helpless.
I didn’t pray because I don’t pray. I begged the universe to let my baby be okay. I kept my selfish desire to scream and cry at bay and I forced my voice to be calm and soothing. The EMT said that Maxine’s pulse oxygen was at 44.
We pulled into the ER and were taken to a room which immediately filled with people. I tried so hard to push the flashbacks to Evelyn out of my mind and concentrate on Maxine. But I couldn’t. I was reliving my worst nightmare with Maxine.
Wonderfully. Beautifully. Thankfully. They were able to administer the medicine that Fannie Allen didn’t have via some sort of mist mask. I could see it fill Maxine’s nose and mouth with the life I was begging the universe to give her back.
I was finally able to lift my baby to my chest and hold her to me. To administer the comfort and love that are as important as the lifesaving drugs. To cover her face in kisses and whisper the secrets of my love into her little ears. To make promises for her tomorrows and thanks for her today. To beg her to never go back to that terrible place again but to promise that I will go with her everywhere. To apologize for failing her.