Tuesday, February 24, 2009

These women who I love

There really has to be a better terminology than "in real life." You've probably seen it online - IRL - to denote between what is real and what occurs online. I used to use it. I've decided I'm done with the phrase.

The friends I've made via the internet are as real as the friends I get to see face to face. Granted, there are differences to the relationships, the history, and how they play out, but they are just as real.

It's my birthday. Yup. Today. Fat Tuesday. I freaking love it when my birthday falls on Mardi Gras. I get to stick a candle in a King Cake and dance around like a fool. It's awesome.

I got the best present this year. I had to beg for it, but I got it.

Kevin took me to Baltimore to see some of my friends. Some of my real friends. We spent the afternoon with a crowd of them, and then spent the night with Nita and her family. It was absolutely wonderful.

These women have invested themselves in my life. They have trusted me and given me reason to trust them. They have stayed with me through my cliched darkest days and brightest ones as well. We have grieved together and celebrated together. I honestly love them.

Gail, Amy, Jill, Nicole, Heather, Jessica, Nita were all there. I had never met any of them in person before, and yet there wasn't a moment of awkwardness. Well, except when I cried during my first Gail hug. Or cried again when I was telling Jill goodbye. Or when Amy texted and said that she was going to make it after all. Okay. So it was awkward when I kept crying. I couldn't help it though. I was too too happy.

Thank you, Kev, for going with me and meeting these fantastic women. I hope next time that the whole group can be together. The whole group of real friends.

Happy birthday to me. I'm a lucky lucky woman. And yes, I'm aware that my child is only 1 and is already a boob man. That has to be my favorite picture ever.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Happy birthday little Pippi

Little Bird's first friend turns one tomorrow. Her mama has a new blog, and it's a rather nice place to visit, especially whilst I gather myself again. I think you'll find though, that you'll want to stick around.

Add another to your reader, you know you want to.

Friday, February 20, 2009

First kiss

One of the best things about motherhood is that no day is completely and totally horribly bad. This day has tried its best, but it's just not making its way into the suck ass column.

My labs are back. Still pregnant, but not for long. Honestly, I don't know if the nurse said they were dropping or that they weren't climbing like they should be. After I heard, "Dr. Howell said to tell you she is so sorry," I sort of zoned out for the next part. All I know is that it's not a viable pregnancy, and I have an appointment on Monday. I guess I just hang out and wait to bleed now. Fun.

I got this news on the way to my La Leche League meeting. This is the meeting I first went to when Little Bird was 3 weeks old, and I've been going ever since. I did miss December because he was sick, and we missed January because I didn't realize the third Friday of the month wasn't the second Friday, thereby leaving me feeling stupid on the fourth Friday.

While turning around and going home was my first choice, I decided that I could use the company and it could help me take my mind off the bad news. So I kept going. And when I got there, no one else was there. I sat for about 10 minutes just in case they were all running late (unlikely), and then gave up.

When I came home, I looked up the meetings online, only to find that meeting has been completely deleted from the roster. I've been attending it for a year now, giving my contact information each month, and they didn't feel it necessary or even polite to contact the regulars to tell them they were dissolving that group? I'm not impressed.

What's left for a day that is starting out in full crap mode? A trip to Target, of course. Here's where the day starts getting better. Pushing a cart around, staring into the eyes of my little guy, I can't help but smile. He's reaching for things, talking up a storm, and basically warming me up from toe to head. A couple of swimsuits and a new toy later, our retail therapy session gave way to the need for a nap.

Here's where the bad day loses it's grip for sure.

Little Bird wakes up from his nap and begins chirping to himself in his crib. He talks to Mr. Bear, and plays with the mirror thing tied to the inside of the crib. I love it when he wakes up like this. I give him a few minutes to himself and then go upstairs to get him. I lean into his crib and tell him I'm going to get kisses when all of the sudden, he lays one on me.

My little boy planted a big smooch right on his mama's lips. Then he backed up, grinned, and threw his arms around my neck for a hug.

First kiss. I may not remember my first kiss from a sweaty pubescent suitor, but I will never forget this first kiss. It turned a very bad day into a much more bearable one.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sorry, Cliff

It had to go. About 10 inches of hair hit the floor today. How very liberating. Clifford, I did put it off and think twice, but in the end, the shears won. If it makes you feel any better, my child cried and screamed when he saw me and clung to his Papa for dear life for what seemed like hours to me. He was not a fan of my new do.

In other news, my HCG levels were at 41 today. Which means that I'm pregnant. The nurse says reassuringly, "That's a good number," I guess because I don't sound very excited over her congratulatory call. It's hard to get excited about that when I was just telling everyone last month that I was pregnant. Then not. It's all becoming rather anticlimactic.

Humph. I'll believe it when - well - I was trying to pick a week, but I can't. Eight weeks? Twelve weeks? Twenty-four weeks? Who knows. Right now, I'm hopeful and scared. We would like for this to be a baby that comes along into our family say, Octoberish. But still. Humph.

Maybe, Baby.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Yakkity Yak

I blog in my head most of the time now. For some reason, I haven't been able to pull together cohesive posts as frequently as I used to. I blame it on busyness. I could blame it on distraction. The TV is on at night more than it used to be. Little Bird is awake more and eager to go go go.

It is worth noting that we have survived the first middle of the night vomit episode. Bird woke up Monday morning around 2:00 AM, and his cries were much more than just some nighttime stirring. I opened the door to his room and was hit with the putrid smell of acidic banana yogurt and cheese. Bird was covered in banana and noodles. He stood there in his crib, with this stunned look on his face, and then yakked up some more.

Needless to say, I've been a little busy with my boys. His daddy woke up as soon as I got back in bed around 4:30 AM, and ran to the bathroom to throw up. Both of my guys have needed extra loving care, so the post I have brewing about some amazing friends will have to wait just a little longer. It deserves more attention than I have to give it right this second.

For tonight, I give you some of the photos from Little Bird's one year old photo shoot. Which, of course, was almost a month ago. I am so behind on things. Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Everything else can wait

Last week I found myself at a monthly gathering of women. It's mostly social, but the women on the invitation list are all very politically and community minded. I haven't been since I quit my job as director of a local non-profit. For some reason, I decided it was time to go back last week.

I baked my brownies to take, prepared dinner, and made sure that Kevin had everything he needed for Little Bird and himself before I left. Kevin was going to feed and bathe Bird and then I would be home to nurse and rock him to sleep.

When I arrived, I found the friend who I knew would be there. Getting to catch up with her for a few minutes was the deciding factor in my attendance in the first place. However, I didn't want to monopolize her entire evening, so after catching up for a few minutes, we moved on to join some other conversations.

After the common pleasantries regarding the wine, the food, and the view from the amazing downtown condo, the next question was always, "What do you do?"

I would answer, "I have a one year old. I stay at home with him."

Crickets chirping.




It is just the conversation stopper I had heard it would be.

Looking back on it, I could have said, "I'm a musician," or even "I'm a writer." Both are true, even if they aren't full-time work for me right now.

But the truth is, I do stay at home with my son. I am a mother first, and everything else comes after that. It was my natural reaction to answer that what I did was to be a mama.

The conversations didn't stop long. I was perfectly fine asking them about their jobs, talking about the economy, and even slipping back into conversations about the grants process and the state of arts funding in our community with a city councilwoman. Talking about what I used to do came naturally, and fit in with the evening, so I did it.

I don't want to only talk about what I used to do though, and on the way home, I thought it might be time for me to think about getting back into non-profit work. Maybe look into doing a little lobbying. I got excited driving home with possibilities of working for the community once again playing through my head.

As I walked through the front door, I had my mouth open, about to call out for Kevin. Before I could get a sound out, He came running on tiptoe down the stairs. Without the baby.

"Shhhhhhhhhh!" he said. "I've just gotten him to sleep."

All of the swirling thoughts that were spinning in my head dropped like anvils, and I started to cry. No rocking. No nursing. No Mama. He just went to sleep without me for the first time.

I realized right then that there was no job I could do that would be more important to me than being here for all the little things. Nothing that I could accomplish out there that would make me feel more fulfilled than to spend as much time with my son as possible right here.

Everything else can wait.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

One Little Sheep

There is a story in the Bible about a shepherd with 100 sheep. One night, he is putting all of the sheep back in their pen and only counts 99 of them. He secures the 99 sheep and then goes to search high and low for the one missing sheep.

My heart hurts today for that one missing sheep.

Some of you know that I used to be the executive director for a non-profit music school for children from low-income families. Hundreds of children who were considered "at-risk" youth came through the school while I worked there, and for the most part, I have all of these warm fuzzy feelings about success stories. Children who decided to go to college. Children who earned places in the premier youth orchestra here in town. Children who got music scholarships to college. A clarinetist who ended up the top player in the state and is now at Harvard. Children who I when I bump into them, still give me a hug and have something good to say about their experience at the school.

Funding was granted because of our successes and our mission. Who could say no to giving music lessons and instruments to at-risk youth? Even the White House thought the program was super and in 2004 I took one of our students there to accept a Coming Up Taller Award from Laura Bush. I was proud of the work we did and the families we helped.

This morning, I turned on the news and saw the other side of the coin.

About six years ago, there was a little boy who had all the cards stacked against him. He was withdrawn. His mother got him to lessons late if she got him there at all. He was unresponsive with his teacher, although he really really wanted to learn to play. He was 10 years old with a tough guy attitude already trapping him behind a thick defensive wall. When his lessons were over though, he would come see me while he waited for his mother who often had to be called long after his lesson was over and told to come pick him up. We would talk, rather, I would talk and he would give me one word answers and at least one smile every week. He was the kind of boy that I knew had it in him to do great things, but had no support system. I fought like crazy to keep him in the program. Convinced his teacher weekly to be patient with him, rode his mother to get him there and get him there on time, and skirted around the attendance rules so that he wouldn't be kicked out. By the time he was 13, he disappeared. Phone disconnected, mail returned. Lost from our radar.

Last night he was arrested for murder. He's 16 years old.

It breaks my heart. It reminds me to look at the kids who get into trouble with the law and remember that at some point, somebody believed in them. It reminds me that most of the time, these are kids who had insurmountable issues at home, if they even had a home. Sure, they made their own choices and have to answer for them, but somewhere along the way, he was let down by the people who should have done right by him.

When I saw his mugshot on the news, I didn't see a murderer. I saw the little boy who never lost his drumsticks and always wanted to have his lesson even when his ride dropped him off so late that the next student had already started.

This little boy had potential to succeed, and the adults in his life failed him. Then he failed himself. I'm just so sad. I wish that I had tried harder to find this one sheep and keep him with us. Keep him in a program where he could learn self respect, good self esteem, and self discipline.

The 99 continue to make it worth all the work, but my heart is broken today for the one little sheep.

Cross posted at Triangle Mamas.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Respect the blog

"I may be just a little fairy, but I have a big vocabulary!"

It's my favorite line in Abby Cadabby's song "I Love Words." Christopher and I watch that video on the Sesame Street website at least three times a week. He sits on my lap and bounces while I sing along.

Although I haven't followed the 'no TV before 2' rule, we read far more than we watch TV. He gets about 15-20 minutes of Sesame Street in the afternoons, and on Sunday morning, we usually watch a weird little show called "Lomax, the Hound of Music." However, in this house, books rule. I want for my children to love words as much as I do.

I love reading words. I love writing words. I love prose, poetry, song lyrics. I will read anything. Cereal boxes, recipes, old letters that I've read 100 times before - it doesn't matter. I am fascinated by how words fit together like puzzle pieces to create exactly the right picture. Even when the words are crammed together like clowns in a tiny car and don't quite seem to work? I still love them.

I don't pretend to be a writer. Well, maybe I do, but not a good one. A few months ago, I took an online creative non-fiction class. The instructor was quite good, and I enjoyed the assignments very much. Truth is, I don't have the discipline to be a good writer right now. I would much rather sit down at my blog and type out what I could pay someone $200 an hour to listen to than craft rough draft after rough draft.


The importance of these words cannot be discounted. I have found my words splogged across other sites. Ideas I have had and started here continue on without a mention of where they began. It's not cool. It's disrespectful. It needs to stop. Especially the particularly nasty sites where some perky titted naked chick poses above one of my posts about my baby. Creepy and wrong.

Kelly is spelling it out. Her writing made for a lovely article in The Times online. Only they didn't link to her. They mentioned her, but used huge amounts of her material without even a single link. No respect.

Mommyblogging is a radical act. We've discussed it. We all know it. We are telling the stories of motherhood in a new day and age. Connecting across boundaries that once were too far and too wide to reach. There is power in our writing and in our community.

It's time for us to respect ourselves and demand it from others too.

Respect the blog.

Go on over to Don Mills Diva and join the revolution. You deserve it.