Sending my First Grader Back to School

December 17, 2012 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Mental Strain for Mama 

I had a difficult time wrapping my head around sending my girls to school today. In fact, because I wanted just a couple more minutes with her, I actually drove Sassy, my 1st grader, to school today. When I arrived at the school, there were lots of other parents dropping their children off. There was also a Police SUV parked close to the entrance of the school. I felt a little bit of relief, but I’d feel even more if I knew that was a permanent fixture at my girls’ schools.

People are discussing gun control and mental illness, and of course, they are all valid things to be discussing. But personally, I’d like to see an armed police officer in every school in the country. When I taught in a Delaware public school many years ago, we had a school resource officer. He was a constant presence in the school. If there was a fight, he was immediately there and involved. If there were issues with drugs in the bathroom, he knew about it, and took care of it. He got to know the kids and the teachers and having him there was a great comfort, especially considering that I started teaching not long after the Columbine tragedy occurred.

I remember sitting on my living room floor, putting together a project for one of my last Master’s classes, and watching the news of that shooting. Those images were forever burned into my brain. They were there when I started preparing my classroom. I decorated the inside of my classroom door to cover all the glass. I made a conscious effort to always have my classroom door set to lock as soon as it closed. I had an action plan ready in my head at all times so that I could keep my students safe. Thankfully, besides a couple random bomb threats at the school, we never had to go on lock down. But if we had, I was ready; and our school resource officer would have been on the scene from the start. Our school wouldn’t have had to wait those precious 5-10 minutes for 1st responders to arrive. One was already there.

I don’t think there’s a parent out there who would mind their school taxes being increased enough to fund a full-time police resource officer at their child’s school.  School budgets are tight, but funding school resource officers should be made a priority. The fact of the matter is that just knowing that there’s an armed and trained person at a school would be a huge deterrent to someone seeking a soft target to do their evil. Imagine for one second, that an armed officer had been inside Sandy Hook Elementary School last week. As soon as the glass was broken, he would have been there to meet the shooter.

And think about this. . . it’s unfathomable for some to imagine arming our school principals. But what if we armed each principal with a stun gun? Could that have saved those 20 first graders? A principal attempted to subdue an armed attacker with nothing more than her person. What if she had some resources available to her? The story may have been a lot different.

It’s easy to look back on horrible events and say things we should have or could have done. But what we should do now is push for an armed police officer in every school. School shootings are very rare and the likelihood of one happening in my neighborhood or your neighborhood is slim; however, there are many advantages of having a police officer in schools. On the news the other night, someone suggested employing armed military veterans at our schools. So many of them are looking for work. Perhaps this is the perfect opportunity to put them to work and keep our schools and children safe at the same time.

Will you join me in contacting your local schools to push for more protection for our children while at school? It’s important that we are not lulled into complacency after this tragedy. As time passes, we should not forget. We should move forward and find ways to protect our children at school.

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Am I Parenting or in a Street Fight?

May 11, 2012 by · 5 Comments
Filed under: Mental Strain for Mama 

I was talking to someone about my blog last weekend, about how I feel completely and totally stifled in what I’m able to write about. When I first started writing, I was completely anonymous. I didn’t even tell Mr. BBM I had a blog until I already had a couple posts up. I had my first comment before he even knew it existed.

Then all of that changed. First, people at my original karate school found out about it. I knew I hadn’t said anything unsavory about anyone, but I still went flying home after class, just to double-check and make sure. Then my family started finding out about it. Then my friends.

At some point, my neighbors found out about my blog. I worried that my crazy neighbor, the one who drank chardonnay at 10 a.m. in fuzzy slippers while stopping to peer in my kitchen window at me, would find out that the way I dealt with her weed garden and airing her litter box out on my sidewalk, was to vent about her erratic behavior on my blog. When she told me a squirrel had found its way into her house and she wasn’t sure where it was, I kind of stopped worrying. Hell, if a squirrel in her house didn’t bother her; nothing I could say was going to get to her.

Then I moved and within a few months, all my new friends and neighbors found out about my blog. Some of my best blog posts are my rants about the crazy people in my life; and when your family, friends, neighbors and everyone else is reading your blog, you’re sort of limited in what you can share without feeling like you’ll have a lynch mob after you.

But I miss writing, because it’s a release for me that I’m currently not getting by going to the gym or going to the dojo. I’m removing the gag and I’m just going to put it all out there and tell you about my week. . . because it was a good one (heavy on the sarcasm).

First, I’m now obsessed with making my own baby food. I started for two reasons: to give the little man healthy food and to save money. The amount of money that I’ve spent on little baby bullet storage containers, a crock pot, a steamer, a masher and a baby food cookbook (which basically says, “cook the crap out of everything and then blend it into nothing”), and a new peeler is definitely going to cancel out the money I thought I’d be saving. I also almost lost a finger this week.

I’ve been using a potato peeler (a super cheap one), since like college. I finally decided to be a big girl and buy a grown up one. I was amazed to find out that it actually peels stuff, well. Like really well. In fact, it peels things so well that while I was peeling an endless amount of apples to make applesauce for Baby Belated (that he still hasn’t eaten because I think he hates apples), I inadvertently peeled my middle finger. It was one of those moments where you’re like ohmygodthathurtouchholycrap, and then you think for just a second that you’re actually going to be ok, right before the gush of blood erupts.

At that point, Baby Belated had decided he was so completely done in his exersaucer. Sassy decided she forgot where all the band-aids were located (and when she finally remembered she brought me one that would cover a pimple, not a gushing near-amputating wound). Swim Girl was busy being an almost teen, locked in her room with her iPod. I wrapped my finger in a paper towel and tried to pretend I wasn’t getting light-headed. I handed a new toy to Baby Belated and ran upstairs to find a band-aid. Sassy beat me to it, because she finally remembered. The bathroom floor was covered with open band-aids, because you clearly can’t tell what size it is until you open it; and even if the paper looks the same size, what’s inside might be much bigger. You know, because that is ALWAYS the case.

I soaked through the paper towel and by the time I got two very tight band-aids on my finger, my bathroom counter looked like a murder scene. I needed chocolate; we had none. I also sort of needed a transfusion.

When dinner was finally ready and the homemade baby applesauce and sweet potatoes were ready too, we all sat down for dinner. Baby Belated decided he would have none of that. I was SOOOOOO happy I had slaved all afternoon and nearly amputated my finger (Hey Layton, you may be right. . . ).

Today, I took the girls for swimming lessons and was maneuvering the stroller into the pool through a double-set of doors when I slammed my left pinky toe into the wheel of the stroller. At this point, I’m fairly certain I have four broken toes, each in various stages of healing, with one still being firmly in the throbbing and hurting like a mother mode. I have broken all four of them on baby things, baby seats, baby strollers. Right now my toe is purple and my entire foot hurts. This is the curse of being born with finger toes when you love flip-flops. I think I need to start buying closed toe sandals like I used to make the girls wear to prevent tripping. It also didn’t help when Sassy asked if she could see my toe, and then proceeded to squeeze it. That’s what everyone with a broken toe needs, someone to squeeze it as hard as they can.  (What was that kid thinking???)

Basically, this parenting business has been kicking my butt all week long. I won’t even go into details about how I threw my back out, all in the name of keeping little man asleep in his car seat for a little while, only to have him wake right up the minute I set him down in the house. Nope, not even going there.

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On Not Creating Resolutions

January 3, 2012 by · 11 Comments
Filed under: Mental Strain for Mama 

Have you created your resolutions for 2012? I haven’t. I’m not doing any this year. I’ve decided that resolutions are just one more thing that women create in order to make themselves feel guilty. I have enough guilt in my life. Scene cuts to Christmas morning with Swim Girl counting presents. I’ll give you one guess who had less.

I actually thought about creating work-out resolutions for this year. Last year, I was on my way to being super in shape. I was working out with my trainer and feeling strong and awesome. Then I got pregnant and started feeling nauseated 24/7 and all that working out business slowed until it stopped.

My trainer also moved to California. He’s now a celebrity trainer. Wayne Brady is one of his clients. Have you seen Wayne Brady lately? Clearly, I was getting him at a steal. And man, do I miss him. I’m thinking about asking him to record a work-out for me. (My sister never did cash in her gift certificate I bought her with him, and I didn’t get to use up my last two sessions since I was too nauseated to make it to the gym). Somehow though, without his physical presence pushing me to hold that plank for 10 more seconds, I picture myself watching the work-out with a handful of chocolates in my lap.

I still remember a lot of the exercises he taught me. The other day I was doing some boxer crunches and decided to follow that with a plank. Since there are no nursing shirts that property conceal “the girls” (or long arms-what is up with that?), and since I was trying to distract myself from the agony of the first plank in many months, I looked down and saw my stomach. . . hanging there.

I won’t go into details. It will suffice it to say that it’s going to take a lot more than crunches and planks to help this stomach. After three kids and the third who decided to stay 15 days beyond what he should have, it’s going to take a plastic surgeon to firm that sucker up. What makes me frustrated is that the muscles are returning. You can feel that they are tight. Standing up straight and tall with a slight arch in my back produces abs that look amazing, especially considering I’m just 10 weeks post-delivery. However, it’s not going to be possible to spend my whole summer standing straight up. When I bend, the illusion is gone. You won’t be seeing me do a plank without a long t-shirt on either. I’ve decided that no one’s skin goes back the way it’s supposed to without surgery; and if you’re one of those people whose stomach skin went back after having three kids without surgical intervention, then please do share how you made that happen. Otherwise, enter ruched swimsuit this summer.

I have to keep it in perspective though. I may not have perfect abs anymore, but I have three amazing kids. Baby Belated is sleeping through the night (and has been for weeks). Swim Girl has qualified for the Junior Olympics in five events already, with many more meets left to qualify in even more. Sassy is currently where she’s supposed to be at the end of the Kindergarten year when it comes to reading and writing. I have much to be thankful for and that stretch-marked skin is certainly worth it. It would just be nice if the reward for bringing such amazing little beings into the world would be a free pass on stretch marks. A little elasticity perhaps?

It would also be nice if I wasn’t feeling like such a total hermit. Having a baby in October turns me into a crazy person. I don’t want visitors who have runny noses. Little kids and their grabby hands around my baby scare me half to death.  Why does every stranger who approaches a baby always grab for their hands??? When Baby Belated was just a few weeks old, his sisters both had a terrible stomach virus. I almost locked the two of us in my room until the barfing stopped. It’s also hard to be social when you’re a nursing Mom. Let’s face it, not everyone is comfortable with my revealing method of feeding my son. Although I have a “Hooter Hider” (does just what it says it does), Baby Belated gets irritated with being under wraps while trying to eat his food. Imagine if someone covered you with a blanket when you were trying to eat your dinner! And as comfortable as I am with nursing my baby, it’s not comfortable being in a room with someone who is trying so damn hard to avert their eyes.

My Dad practically has a heart attack whenever I decide to nurse in front of him. Little kids stare at you like you’re a dirty magazine or get way too curious. Some people just get really uncomfortable to the point that they make me uncomfortable. Not everyone is as cool as the lady I sat beside at a swim meet a couple weeks ago. She carried on a conversation with me the whole time and never acted weird for a minute. I wish she could give others lessons. And let’s face it, how many nursing moms want to feel even MORE isolated by taking the baby into a different room. I spent half of our family Christmas party at my aunt’s house, hiding my hooters in her upstairs office. That’s not isolating at all.

I’m also in the new Mom wardrobe slump. Sweatpants with Uggs, a nursing shirt and a zip up sweatshirt is pretty much how I roll these days. The other day, I almost left the house in slippers. I was in the garage until I realized I needed actual shoes.  I might soon find myself on “What Not To Wear.” Perhaps that would be a challenge for Stacey and Clinton. Dress a nursing Mom in nursing clothes that doesn’t reveal the girls unless they’re supposed to be revealed during feedings AND camo a set of abs that is less than up to par.

Until I can figure out a way to fix it, I might as well just eat more. If my stomach is full it might just stretch out those marks. Because eating more won’t cause me guilt at all, right?

See, it’s never-ending.

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Prayers Answered?

December 23, 2011 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Mental Strain for Mama 

Five years ago, we stood by helpless as our friend buried his wife after a year long battle with synovial sarcoma. She was pregnant when she was diagnosed; her son, barely a year old when she passed away at age 29. A couple years ago, I read with hope, blogger, Lisa’s battle with ovarian cancer. I prayed for her every night. She had two daughters and it struck so close to home for me. I saw her a few days before she passed away when I was dropping off trays of food for her family. It was startling to see her like that and I wasn’t surprised to hear she had passed just three days later.

Last Friday, my friend’s husband lost his battle with esophageal cancer after a 14 month all-out war. He was 37 years old. I met her husband a couple years ago and he was one of those people who could light up a room with his smile. Mr. BBM and I instantly liked him. You couldn’t not. Although we didn’t know each other well, whenever I saw him he addressed me with such an easy way that he made you feel like you had known each other forever. They have two children, ages 12 and 8. Their daughter swims with my daughter in the summer.

On Wednesday night, Mr. BBM and I waited in line for over an hour at the viewing. The line was out the door of the funeral home and to the corner. From what I hear, it was like that for over five hours. Yesterday, Mr. BBM and I attended his funeral. At both the viewing and the funeral, I watched my friend stand tall. There she was on Wednesday night, comforting everyone else it seemed. Throughout the last 14 months, I’ve seen her look tired. I’ve seen her lose weight as she watched her husband’s treatments fail, one after the other. But I’ve never seen her cry. I’ve never seen her anything less than rock solid.

In fact, when Sassy broke her leg in February and I had a pity party for myself about how I couldn’t even go to the grocery store anymore, it was this very friend who showed up on my doorstep with three bags of groceries for me.  In the summer when I stood around rubbing my sore back and hips from carrying around Baby Belated, it was she who stood behind me, rubbing my back when I least expected it.

After the funeral yesterday, I had a terrible headache from all the tears. Mr. BBM and I had a conversation about how pissed off we both were about the whole thing.  If all those people who attended the viewing and the funeral were praying for a cure, why didn’t one come? It’s times like this when I get so angry and wonder, why? I question my faith and what all of this means. I have a hard time being patient and waiting for an answer. I have a very difficult time understanding why prayers go unanswered. . .

I’ve spent months being worried about my friend, and I spent all week thinking about her too. She’s been so strong for her husband, her kids and for everyone else around her. How can she possibly continue being so strong? At some point, she has to grieve and I’m worried about her and how hard that’s going to be for her. Will she ever really be able to grieve for him, when she’s trying to be so strong for her kids?

And then it occurred to me that I’ve been praying all along for a cure for her husband, but I’ve also been praying hard for strength and courage for her. If all those people who circled the block for hours on Wednesday night were doing the same, maybe that explains why she’s been so strong. Perhaps, at least that part of my prayers was answered.

So if that’s the case, then I hope this Christmas, that we can add even more people to the prayers for my friend and her family. I hope you’ll join me. When something terrible like this happens, it makes you appreciate your family that much more.  Merry Christmas to you and your families.

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Induction Eve

October 19, 2011 by · 2 Comments
Filed under: Mental Strain for Mama, Woah Baby 

If my life was a musical, one of the songs playing right now would be Edie Brickell’s “I Quit, I Give Up.” Last night, two of my talented friends came out, set up their body work table and went to work on me. They hit every acupressure point they knew and they hit them hard. I had lots of contractions. When Mr. BBM got home last night, I had him hit the points again. He pressed on them until his thumbs hurt. I continued having contractions, but nothing that got stronger or closer together. I went to bed. I hit the points this morning and it’s more of the same, occasional contractions but nothing that’s going to result in a baby.

I see the midwife this afternoon. She’ll probably offer to try stripping the membranes again, a pleasant experience (insert a heap of sarcasm) where they basically go elbow deep and try to separate the bag of waters from your cervix. It’s supposed to start contractions. I’ve had it done twice this time. It resulted in me feeling absolutely miserable for an entire day. I felt abused and in no condition to push a kid out the same way. Today, I’m going to decline. What’s the point? Tomorrow is induction day. I’d rather go into it not feeling like I’ve been violated.

The other theme song that would be part of my “musical” is Alanis Morissette’s “Ironic.” Do you understand how rare it is to get through a third pregnancy without having gestational diabetes after having it the second time around?  It rarely happens. I thought I was home free. I thought I had nothing holding me back from having a birth center birth. And here I am, on induction eve, facing a hospital birth. I really thought that the third time around, I would get to do things my way. I really thought, after passing my due date, that I had 14 days to get going on my own and that it would happen. It had to happen! It hasn’t.

95% of moms at my midwife’s practice go into labor within 10 days of their due date, on their own. 95%. Does it surprise you that I’m part of the 5%. For me, I guess it shouldn’t. I’m the girl who has the screw back out of her leg after an ACL surgery. My Mom should have named me “Murphy” because when it comes to medical stuff, I’m a walking “Murphy’s Law.”

I woke up this morning at 4:44 a.m. and couldn’t go back to sleep, as per usual. I was feeling sorry for myself and then I thought about something else. Boo-freaking-hoo for me. There are friends of mine who desperately wanted a baby, who would feel fortunate to be in my situation, 13 days post-dates and about to meet my baby tomorrow (hopefully tomorrow). I have several friends fighting cancer right now who would probably welcome the kind of hospital visit I’m going to have over the multiple unpleasant ones they are always having. And when all is said and done, no matter how he comes into this world, I’ll have my baby.

It just goes to show that having a birth plan is pretty much a waste of time. Nothing ever goes exactly as planned.  Here’s hoping that the 13+ days I waited after my due date to meet this baby will count as “time served” and the labor will go quickly. The stubborn nature of this little one should help me figure out an appropriate blog name for him so I can introduce him to the blog world soon. Maybe I’ll call him “Baby Belated.”

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