I thought I had outgrown the need to look under my bed and check the closet before getting into bed.
Monday, January 31, 2011
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Dear 9th Floor,
Later today, my daddy will be joining you. You don't know him, and unfortunately, you never will; he has been gone a long time.
He was a Southern lawyer. A good one, too. His office was downtown on the sixth floor and overlooked the atrium with a fountain and huge plants. I loved to visit him there. He kept candy on his desk to entice people to stop in for a hello when they walked past his door.
Always looking out for someone in need, Daddy was a mentor to countless lawyers who joined the firm after him, going as far as to invite the ones with no family to spend Christmas morning with us. Our table never had an empty chair for holidays or Sunday dinner.
Daddy is a Presbyterian Elder. He loved the structure and organization of the Presbyterian church. He was a staunch supporter of what he felt was God's will in the life of the church, and there wasn't a member there who didn't look up to him. As moderator of the session more than once, he held the utmost respect of the congregation.
But just when you thought he was satisfied being a leader and polity maker, he starts teaching Sunday School. In the two-year-old classroom. Those children loved Mr. Tom like nobody else could.
Daddy was always full of surprises.
Daddy pitched for the law firm's softball team. He played the alto sax. He was in charge of breakfast at our house. He loved English Mastiffs. He wished my momma would cut the biscuits bigger. He liked going to New Orleans. He really liked playing his John Phillip Sousa marches as loud as Momma would let him.
We used to go to the Jackson Mets games. I love baseball because of Daddy. When I was in the fifth grade, I was determined to play Little League. He signed me up. I was one of two girls in the league, and he never flinched. He helped me practice pitching, and he supported me the entire season. He might have even been a little disappointed when I didn't sign up again, but he didn't let me know it.
You might just hear Daddy ask you for a cookie while he is on your ward. The man loves sugar like nobody's business. Donuts, cookies, ice cream, Momma's pound cake - he would live on nothing but sugar and carbs if he could. He frequently got up during the night just to have a snack (little powdered donuts from the grocery store). There wasn't a Snickers bar that was safe within 100 feet of him, and he could find a Dairy Queen with his eyes closed in a town he had never been to before.
That is just a glimpse at the man you are caring for now. That is just a tiny bit of what I know about Daddy.
What I don't know about Daddy is how much he is aware of right now. I don't know if he hurts, if he is scared, if he knows that you are the hospice floor. I don't know if he knows that he will die soon.
You have to understand. That is what scares me. Not the passing of my daddy, because he has been so sick for so very long - I have prayed that God would make him whole again, even if the only way to do that was to take him. But I'm scared that he is scared and can't tell us.
So I'm counting on you, his nurses, his doctors. I'm counting on you not to call him "dead weight" when you have to move him, because he might still hear you and understand you. I'm counting on you to help him eat the few bites he can get down because he used to love food so much. I'm counting on you to keep him safe and take care of him just a little while longer.
He's somebody's husband. He's somebody's father. He's a father-in-law, a PawPaw, a G-Daddy, and a dear friend.
He's not just a man with Parkinson's. Please remember that while you are caring for him. You are caring for a man who has cared for so many others. You are caring for my daddy.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
We haven't had an easy year, you and me. We've done a lot of yelling at each other and a lot of crying with each other. I don't think you were very happy to be sharing your mama with another baby. I hope you know that I still love you. More than ever.
You have your G-Daddy's sweet tooth. If it's made of sugar, you want to eat it. I spent the first 15 or more months of your life making sure that you had a perfectly perfect diet. I nursed you until, well, until today. I held out on candy until some time this past summer - and BAM! It just took that one time. You were hooked.
In September, you started preschool. I'm not sure that it's the absolute best fit for you, but you do like to go. I like that you like it and are making friends. I don't like that I don't know what you do there and that the teacher made a passive aggressive remark about your temper. You will be happy to know, however, that I kept my temper when she did it. You come by that temper honestly, and I promise you - I am trying so hard to model a more peaceful temperament for you.
This year, you started watching TV. Way too much TV, actually. It's been so helpful when Colin naps, and for some reason, it seems like one of you is sick ALL THE TIME, so TV has been introduced as your second vice. After sugar. You love Toy Story. You love it so much that we took you to the movie theater to see Toy Story 3 this past summer. I thought it might be too much for you, but you sat mesmerized the entire time. This weekend, we will have your Toy Story inspired birthday party - mainly Woody, but Buzz will make appearances too, I'm sure.
You definitely have it harder around here. Being my first, I still expect you to do things on a certain time table or a certain way. I realize I do this, but I'm not quite sure how to change it. I have a hard time just leaving you alone to let you develop at your own pace and in your own way. I only know this because I see how I deal with your little brother. I know that because you have been successful in something, that I can quit stressing about it - I need to stop stressing for you. I know I do. I see how it fosters the frustration and anxiousness in you. I promise you that in this, your fourth year as my son, I will work even harder to stop hovering.
This morning, you patted me on the back. I rolled over, and you whispered, "Mama? I need some nuh-nuh." I flipped down my nursing tank and nursed you for the last time. You are three years old. It may be hard to understand, but it is time for us to be done nursing. I still love you, and you will always be my baby, but Mama is tired, and the nuh-nuh's are freaking exhausted. Feel free to instill guilt by continuing to reach up and pat them, while saying, "I love your nuh-nuh's, Mama."
I feel like you are getting the shaft a little on this letter. Your G-Daddy is very sick, and I'm a little distracted tonight. I should have started this a lot sooner, but I just don't write like that. Open, type, publish. That's me. Your spontaneous Mama.
I hope that you are a happy three year old. I promise to play more this year. I promise to listen better. I promise to love you. I promise to try harder all the time to be a better mama for you.
Happy birthday, Christopher. You are my favorite three year old.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Until he did.
We put him in some "Mater pants" and haven't looked back.
The peeing is going better than the pooping, but from what I hear, that's normal. I honestly think he just doesn't want to sit still long enough to do the big deed - because if he is there to pee and happens to get more than he bargained for, he's totally excited about it. Just doesn't want to initiate that part yet.
What has surprised me is that Christopher learning to use the potty has not been all that dissimilar to Colin learning to use the potty. As long as I kept him on a schedule and took him to the potty in reasonable intervals throughout the day, he never peed in his pants. And in just a couple of weeks, he has learned to tell me ahead of time when he needs to go.
Makes me wish I had done EC with Christopher as well. Of course, I say that about a lot of things with Christopher, but this isn't about me, so I'll spare the list of woes.
Three mornings now, Christopher has woken up with a dry diaper and announced that he has to pee pee first thing. I'm so stinking proud of him. First thing in the morning, Colin always sits on the potty too, so now, we have this bizarre little potty party where the three of us all sit on our potties together in the bathroom and toast the morning sunshine.
There is also usually a conversation about who has a penis and who doesn't. I'm pretty sure that Christopher feels very sorry for me and my penislessness.
I suppose the final step is to move him out of a diaper at night. He has been asking to wear his big boy pants while he sleeps, and he does fine at naptime in them. It's totally selfish on my part.
I've been ending up in the bed with Christopher and Colin in the middle of the night, and quite honestly? I don't want to get peed on. Nor do I want to change sheets in the middle of the night.
So, since we are cloth diapering, I figure it's not too much different to just wear a diaper at night. At least, that's what I'm going with.
I think that 2011 will be the end of diapers around here. That would be awesome.
Unless of course, someone else comes along that might need them . . .
Monday, January 24, 2011
Today you are one. You were born at 5:23 in the morning and by noon, we were headed home with you. It was altogether the hardest and easiest experience of my life. Definitely the most amazing.
You and I are joined at the hip, as they say. I haven't left you often, and when I have, you have let us all know how much you wanted me back. There are days that I can't even walk out of the room without you screaming. It's flattering, but it's also time for you to realize that I am always coming back for you.
Just over the past month, you have really started to express yourself - that is, beyond the screaming when I leave the room. You have learned games to play (Colin's got a silly hat on his head), started using everything as a "phone," and learned to walk wherever you wanted to go by holding on to the back of your Pooh train.
The dogs love you, and you love the dogs. It's frustrating to cook for you only to have you toss it down to your buddies. You think it's hilarious though, and it's no surprise that your first consistent word (other than Mama and Dada) is "woof."
You are a terrific eater (when you are sharing with the dogs). It doesn't matter what it is, you will try it. You love peas, bananas, yogurt, mac & cheese, broccoli, and a multitude of other things. Basically, anything we have, you reach for and won't stop until we share.
I love the way you have started singing along to songs in the car. The best is when you call out "duh duh duh, ahhhhhhhh" during the "speck of dust" verse from the violin song by They Might Be Giants. It's adorable.
You can't keep your hands off of a drum, guitar, or any other musical instruments. The Boomwhackers have become little baby didgeridoos, and you have been a rock star on the kazoo for months now.
The wrestling matches you have with your brother make me incredibly nervous. The two of you will tumble around on the bed, diving on one another; I'm predicting many bumps, bruises, scrapes, and possible trips to the ER. I hope you will prove me wrong.
These are just a few of the things I want to remember about you right now, on your first birthday. I'm sorry about your baby book, or lack thereof. I vowed not to slack on that, but somehow didn't follow through.
And now? I have to go check on you. You still cry for me a few times a night, and tonight especially, you need me due to the major pukefest we had at bedtime. Nothing says "happy birthday" like throwing up your cupcakes.
I love you, little man.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
I have long said that your sweet tooth would be the death of you. Midnight powdered donuts. Pecan Sandies right before dinner. The inability to pass a Dairy Queen without stopping for a malt.
Really. You didn't have to take me so seriously. You didn't have to be so literal.
My parents' health issues prompted me to start blogging. There was always a trauma. Always a certain amount of time left for them. Always a last goodbye.
And yet, they are both still here. I know that I'm lucky.
A little over a week ago, Daddy fell onto the driveway after spilling an ice cream sundae in his lap in the car. Dairy Queen, how I hate you.
He hit his head quite hard. So hard that it was how Momma realized he had fallen. She heard his head hit like a melon from the other side of the car.
What got him though, was his hip. He broke his hip.
We saw that coming a mile away. He's frail. He's shaky. He's stubborn.
He has had surgery to repair the break, and we are told that it went well. What didn't go well were the 20-30 mini strokes he had sometime after the surgery.
He didn't wake up for days.
Now, I'm told he is unresponsive. Or sometimes I hear that he is a little responsive. He can't talk. He can talk a little bit. He can't get up. He's sitting on the edge of the bed.
I'm slightly confused.
It's hard to know what is going on when you aren't there to see it yourself.
There is talk of hospice. Feeding tubes. No feeding tubes. The Parkinson's will keep him from recovering fully from the strokes. I think. As I understand it.
I'm getting new tires for the Jeep so that I can go if I need to. But I'm not going until Momma says she needs me, or until Daddy is gone.
Daddy and I are good. I don't need to see him that one last time. I need to remember him from his visit in November.
Last night's episode of How I Met Your Mother was a little hard for me to watch. Marshall's father died suddenly. The episode centered around his father's last words to everyone.
Marshall's dad's last words to him were "Rent Crocodile Dundee III." Which, if you know my daddy, is really funny, because his favorite movie is, in fact, Crocodile Dundee.
In spite of all the information I've received about how unresponsive my daddy is, today, I talked to him on the phone. I have no freaking idea what that is all about, and I'm not sure I even believe it myself.
I was talking to my momma when I heard a very mumbled, "Who is that?" to which Momma replied, "It's Marty. Do you want to talk to her?"
The next thing I know, I'm TALKING ON THE PHONE to my daddy who we just were talking about going into hospice. WHAT? I know.
I didn't understand much of what he said. It has been difficult to understand him on the phone for quite some time, but today was different. It was stroke talk on top of Parkinson's talk. Just garbled. What I did get was this:
Me: I hear you fell out of the car because of an ice cream sundae.
Daddy: Someone is pulling your leg.
The man made a joke.
Daddy: How are . . . (he couldn't find the names)
Me: My boys?
Daddy: Yes, and Mallory?
Me: They are doing just fine. The boys have birthdays coming up, you know.
Daddy: I have to go now.
Me: I know. Thank you for talking to me.
Daddy: You bet.
Me: I love you.
Daddy: . . .
Me: Do you still love me, Daddy?
And in case I didn't understand the first one:
I don't know what to think. If those are his last words to me, then I'm a lucky daughter.
The Suttles are known for rallying and beating the odds though. Maybe he's going to pull through this after all.
I sure wouldn't be surprised.
But I have to say, I'm okay if it's his time to go. He shouldn't have to work so hard to recover just to still be so sick with Parkinson's. I'm alright to let go of him if he needs me to. We're good.
Monday, January 10, 2011
A few months ago, there was this emotional disaster. It was my hair that served as the proverbial straw.
Here's the thing. I didn't admit because it is tres embarrassing. You see, there was a picture of a haircut that I took when I chopped my locks. It wasn't Meg Ryan or Julia Roberts.
It was Kristen Chase.
(pausing to die of embarrassment)
I'll be the first one to tell you that I adore her. I've stated many times that hers was the first blog I ever read. But I can also say that I don't want to BE her. Not like creepy stalker BE.
I just liked her haircut.
Of course, on me, it looked like a mullet, but that's water under the bridge.
There is something FAR MORE PRODUCTIVE that I am going to copy from Kristen now. And that is a donation to Cricket's Answer for Cancer.
While we wait for answers, action, movement - wait to be lifted from limbo - I'll collect your comments. For every comment you leave, I'll donate $1 to Cricket's Answer up to $100. I'm pretty sure I can scrape that together in these tight times. It might require me to hit up Craigslist for some random selling of stuff, but I'll brave it.
It's a great cause. Cricket's Answer is teaming up with LympheDIVAs to provide medically necessary, yet not covered by insurance, compression sleeves for the lymphedema that so many breast cancer survivors experience post mastectomy.
$100 will require all five of my readers to make up different accounts and each comment 20 times. It will also provide just one sleeve, but one sleeve that someone didn't have before.
So. You can leave me a comment and send a dollar. Then, you can click over to Kristen and leave a comment and send another dollar. THEN, you could decide to write a post in this same vein and donate your own dollars. You know. If you wanna.
I'll leave comments open on this post until I wake up Thursday morning. I would say something fancy and professional like Kristen, and close them at 12 EST Wednesday, but I think we've established that I'm no Kristen Chase.
Oh, and GO TEAM WHYMOMMY!!!
Friday, January 07, 2011
After my mom's mastectomy, there were lasting repercussions.The scar that marked where her breast used to be could be hidden by clothing and an expensive prosthesis. The prosthesis wasn't medically necessary, but her insurance covered both the prosthesis and the special bras that she needed to use it.
Lymphedema is localized swelling and fluid retention due to removal of the lymph nodes during a mastectomy. For most breast cancer survivors, this means that her arm swells tremendously throughout the day and that she has to be extremely careful not to burn, cut, bruise, or get a bite on that arm. For the rest of her life.
The arm is the visual marker for my mom. And I guess because it's such a public part of your body, people feel no obligation to not stare or ask invasive questions about why it might be swollen in the first place. My mom's arm couldn't be hidden and kept her from doing things she used to do in the past, like playing tennis.
Sometimes, Momma would wear a dark tan compression sleeve during the day to keep the swelling down. It was ugly, hot, and uncomfortable though. She didn't have the option of LympheDIVA, and I don't know that she would go for it now. But I can totally see her rocking this:
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
I don't usually know what to say,
But I always will know how to listen.
I don't know the answers to your questions,
But I will search for you and validate your need to ask.
I won't blow anymore sunshine.
I won't hold back anymore tears.
Because you need to know these things:
I know the time will come.
I trust your strength.
I believe in your family.
And this is also true:
I ache with you.
We support each other, and we both hurt.
We are both angry.
We are both scared.
Neither of us needs to apologize for it.
Do you know that it is so hard to give to someone like you?
I want to give everything I can to you, but you - you are always
Searching the crowd
Ready to teach, to give, to share.
It's hard to catch you without your arms open to give. It's hard not to take from you all the time.
That, by the way, was a compliment.
I am the woman who will play it straight with you.
No more sugar coating from me, I promise.
I am the girl with whom you always played straight.
There will never be pompous bags of sand with lit candles in front of my home. In your honor.
You are my favorite one.
The one who restored my faith in lasting friendships, time and time again.
I will stand as strong as I can for you. Following your example of what a friend really is.
We will be always friends. Always.
Sunday, January 02, 2011
1. What did you do in 2010 that you've never done before?
I had an unmedicated water birth. Last January, Colin was born at the Woman's Birth and Wellness Center in Chapel Hill, and it couldn't have been more perfect.
2. Did you keep your resolutions, and will you make more for this year?
I wouldn't really call it a resolution, but I did give up something significant in 2010. I quit drinking. Not counting my pregnancy, I'm coming up on a year anniversary of being dry and sober. I'm pretty proud of myself for that.
Other than that, I didn't make resolutions. I've never been a much of a resolution maker, although I tend to make changes in January. For instance, I didn't declare it a resolution, but six years ago, I stopped smoking in January. I think we are just in a mindset to make life changes at the beginning of the year, whether we call them resolutions or not.
This year, I'm calling them goals.
- Oh to be cliche. My first goal is to lose the weight I've gained since Kevin and I got married. I would call it baby weight, but since the babies really didn't need all of those milkshakes, I've got to take the blame myself. I'm hoping for about 20 pounds, which is more than I've ever needed to lose in my life. On the one hand, it's a little daunting, but on the other hand, I'm kind of thinking, "It's only 20 pounds." We'll see.
- Find a way to reinstate my yoga practice. Even if it's just once a week, I would really like to have Anasura yoga be part of my routine again.
- Set up the office. Organize finances. Use the filing cabinet.
- Have a play date set up for the boys once a week. Or at least, once every two weeks. This seems like it should be easy, but it's not. It requires planning and such, and I tend to suck at planning ahead right now.
- Start practicing and writing again. Music, that is. My chops are so rusty I creak when I sit down at the piano.
- Get involved in a Sunday School class.
- Take the train to D.C. at least three times to visit Susan.
- Bring my music collection into the 2000's.
- Write a children's book with Mallory.
- Sew more.
So happy 2011 to you and yours. I'm looking forward to a wonderful year.