Archives For I’m a Mama
Apparently, if you are searching for “Baba O’Reilly” on Spotify, and your kid is trying to wrestle the phone out of your hand so he can search for “Swedish House Mafia,” the search term morphs into “Swedish Bobo.”
Little Dude – is not so little anymore.
He’s 12, in middle school now, and he has LOT of opinions.
For one thing, he’s prefers electronic dance music to rock music. I like EDM when I’m wasted in a club, dancing at 2 am (which hasn’t happened a lot lately), but for purely listening purposes? Not so much.
He also listens to whatever is on Spotify’s Top 50. It ranges from “please pour battery acid in my ears” to Twenty One Pilots. I know they are puppets of a soulless music industry, but I like them. They appeal to my inner angsty eighth grader.
I made Little Dude listen to Brian Eno, one of the pioneers of ambient music in the 70’s. Some might argue that ambient and electronic music aren’t necessarily connected, but too bad. I wanted my kid to know who Brian Eno is so I connected them.
Little Dude has braces now. They make him look like a little teenager and are a constant source of torture for both of us. I don’t always spend money I don’t have, but when I do, it’s $5000 on braces for a kid who accuses me of ruining his life between bites of jello.
He wears AXE deodorant. It smells horrific, but according to its last ad campaign, should have him kicking car doors open in no time.
HE SLEEPS LATE NOW.
He always woke at 6:30 am on the weekends, raring to go. I spent years teaching him to entertain himself and not wake Mama up until a more civilized hour.
When he was five, I had him convinced that those early Saturday am hours were HIS “alone time,” and he was free to watch movies and eat snacks and do whatever it is that five-year olds do when they have “alone” time.
I woke up at 8 am on one of those Saturdays, patting myself on the back because he let me sleep in. I stepped onto the top step of my stairs and tripped on a pencil that was rigged to protrude off of the step. It was tied to an empty soda can which I rolled over, and I tumbled down the stairs.
Little Dude had watched Home Alone early that morning, and decided to copy Kevin McCallister and booby trap my house. Did I mention he was FIVE?
A few months ago, I woke up at 8 am and my kid wasn’t up. By 9 am, I was in his room, putting a compact mirror under his nose to see if he was breathing.
Now, he sleeps sometimes as late as 11:00 am. Last Sunday, I celebrated by making myself a mimosa and listening to the local police scanner on my phone app and it was AWESOME.
His hormones are kicking in, which means he’s often moody and unpleasant. Normally, I don’t tolerate that, but this is different. He’s experiencing emotions he doesn’t even understand.
He simultaneously has the worst hygiene of his young life, while still managing to disappear upstairs for an inordinately long time when showering.
I don’t even want to think about that. EW.
He got an email from a girl the other day, a girl he’s told me he likes. When I asked him if she was pretty, he said, “Why does that matter? She is, but that’s NOT why I like her. She’s smart and nice.” I wish some boy in middle school had liked me, despite my braces, glasses and frizzy hair. I was in an awkward stage that lasted until 2015.
This girl had actually emailed him a copy of some Harvard admission essays. They’re in SIXTH GRADE.
Little Dude still enjoys spending time with me, one on one. Over spring break, we did a bunch of cool stuff together. We saw “Deadpool,” which was a little mature for him. How did I miss that it’s rated “R”? Luckily, he’s so innocent, all the sexual innuendos went right over his head.
At the end, he insisted we stay until the end of the credits. He was convinced there would be some kind of “bit” at the very, very end.
He was right.
As we left the movie, LD impulsively grabbed my hand in the parking lot. I acted like it was no big deal, but it was. He’s still very affectionate with me, but never in public.
Sometimes, he asks if we can talk, to help him sort through feeling lost or confused. We have talks that last hours.
Thank you Lord, Buddha, and All The Gods, that my kid still wants to talk to me about whatever is troubling him. Any day now, he’s going to become a Teenager, discount my opinion and silently plot my death.
He’s in such an odd place right now; no longer a boy, but not yet a teen. It’s a complicated, confusing and probably scary place for him.
It’s confusing for me, too. I want to hold on and let go all at the same time.
Most of all, I want it to slow down.
Slow down, baby boy. I don’t want to miss a thing.
“I’ll Come Running” by Brian Eno. I can’t even tell you how much I love this song.
Do you ever wish you could slow down your kids’ growing up? How much longer do I have until he stops thinking I’m cool?
Talk to me. I’m listening.
“NO, you be the SPACEMAN!!! Here, put this ON!”
It didn’t matter that Benjamin didn’t want to be a spaceman. My son had already twisted him into a half nelson and was wrestling a plastic bucket onto his best friend’s head. At five, my son was bossy and inflexible. He had difficulty navigating unstructured situations, like playdates.
Which is a nice way of saying, he was a tyrant. I knew someday, his fierce little warrior soul would have its upside. But someday is a long way off when you’re exhausted from refereeing every playdate.
Even a five-year-old knows his basic civil liberties are being violated when he’s forced to wear an inner tube and dance like a ballerina.
One afternoon, I took my son and his best buddy to the neighborhood pizza shop. I mentally prepared myself for a migraine-inducing battle of whose slice was a millimeter larger than whose.
Behind the counter, the pizzeria owner whirled an enormous disc of dough into a velvety umbrella. The boys had already begun bickering.
I pointed excitedly at the Pizza Man.
Both boys turned to look at the Pizza Man, twirling and stretching the dough. They stopped squabbling and stared.
“This is an art form. It takes years of practice! Watch how he never stops, not even for a second!”
They stood, transfixed. With expert hands, the Pizza Man tossed dough high into the air and caught it without breaking his rhythm.
“See how he moves his hand in a circle? It’s all about the hand movement. It’s like putting a spin on a basketball.”
“Wow!” Benjamin said.
“What happens if he drops it?” my son asked.
“That’s just it! He NEVER does,” I answered knowingly.
The fact is, good pizza making is an art. It’s also a science – physics, to be exact.
“It’s science, you see? In order to keep the pizza airborne, the optimal motion is a semi-elliptical trajectory. The dough moves through the air at an angle, rather than flying flat!”
Their full-on blank stares jolted me out of my geek moment.
“It’s just SUPER COOL! Okay, guys, who wants what?”
We munched our pizza, never taking our eyes off the Pizza Man and his magical feat of aerodynamics. The boys were united in a brotherhood of wonderment and a new found appreciation of pizza.
Rome wasn’t built in a day.
And so it was with my son and his friendship-making abilities. The art of friendship is as finely nuanced as that of handling pizza dough. Today, at 12, he is a fabulous friend.
He still likes to bring his pals to watch the Pizza Man. It’s a tiny miracle to watch a lump of dough, rigid and unyielding, expand and become flexible in the right hands.
And there is very little in the world that a perfectly made pizza won’t set right.
This essay was my submission into the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. I didn’t win, but I was totally stoked to try my hand at writing in a voice different from the one usually found on my blog.
I’ve been submitting my work to other publications lately, which is HUGE for me. I’ve been fortunate to have my work syndicated before, but I don’t usually submit my work to other publications.
Now I am.
I’ve had some really encouraging experiences, sandwiched in between lots of rejections. It’s taken me away from my blog a little bit. If I’m not around, just know that I’m pitching my little heart out, and I’ll be sure to share any good news I have with you.
Oh! Speaking of the competition. I am going to the Erma Bombeck Writers’ Workshop at the end of the month! Woo hoo! I’m not ready to throw up daily at the thought of it, like I felt when I was going to BlogHer. After all, I lost my blog conference virginity already.
It’s only a little daunting, because there are gonna be a WHOLE lot of kick ass humor writers there. This conference sold out like a rock concert in six hours. SIX HOURS. This has to be the most exciting event to hit Dayton, Ohio, since the 2014 conference.
I’d say that I’m going to tell you all about it, but what happens in Dayton, stays in Dayton…
Anyone else have an intense, willful kid who dominated the other toddlers? How does that turn out? Please tell me they grow up to be CEOs and stuff.
Can anyone recommend any good lesbian bars in Dayton?
Talk to me. I’m listening.
It happened the summer of 2013, and I’ve never written about it because I get agita just typing the title.
“Agita” is a New York expression. It comes from the Italian word for “stomach ache,” but New Yorkers use it to mean terrible agitation or anxiety. It’s like me saying “that skeeves me” when something is gross, or immediately using the expression “mothah fuckah” when I drive. New York style, with the “er” dropped.
Little Dude was in sleep away camp August of 2013. When the Ex and I went there on visiting day, my kid was in the infirmary. He had some kind of virus that was causing him agonizing stomach pain.
Kids get sick at sleepaway camp. They catch stuff from each other; from the woods, from the lake. He’s come home from there with impetigo, which totally skeeved me. But this was serious – more serious than something to be treated in the camp infirmary. We piled blankets and pillows in the car, and drove my son home.
In rapid succession, we went from the pediatrician’s office to the ER to having him admitted to the hospital.
In between bouts of excruciating stomach pain, my son was completely lethargic. His was drained of all color and had a steady fever. He couldn’t even hold down fluids.
I spent that night with him in the hospital. It was a horrible night for both of us. There’s nothing that makes you feel quite as helpless as watching your child suffer brutal pain.
Early the next morning, the doctor arrived to examine my son. As she was feeling his abdomen, I detected a flicker of something in her expression. She asked my Ex and me if we could speak to her in the hallway.
“I’m going to have him transferred by ambulance to a specialized hospital, where they have a pediatric lymphoma clinic. I want him seen by the pediatric oncologist there.”
THE WORST WORDS A PARENT CAN EVER HEAR.
My feet gave out from under me. I would have plummeted to the floor, but my Ex was holding onto my arm, so I did a slow slide down, and collapsed there. I began hyperventilating. There wasn’t enough oxygen in the hallway and I was suffocating. Tears streamed down my face.
The doctor knelt down to eye level with me.
“Are you going to ride in the ambulance with him?” she asked.
“Then you need to pull yourself together for him. He cannot see you like this.”
She was not unkind, but she was businesslike. She understood that in that moment, what mattered most was keeping my son from being terrified.
We formulated a plan of what we were going to tell him (“we need to go to a bigger hospital, they want different doctors to check you, you’re going to ride in an ambulance! How cool is that!”)
Shit like that. Shit you say to a 10-year-old kid, instead of “We have to go to a pediatric oncology ward because you might have lymphoma.”
I spent the next five days and nights in my son’s hospital room. I never left. My Ex went back and forth, grabbing a shower and some fresh clothes each day, and I probably should have done that. A hot shower might have helped clear my mind. But the drive to my house and back was about 90 minutes, and that was too long to be away from my kid.
One minute was too long to be away from him.
My bestie drove down from upstate New York to sit with me. She got there just in time to see me go all Shirley MacLaine / Terms of Endearment on the nurses when my son was howling and convulsing with pain, and I screamed at them to give him intravenous morphine.
Doctor after doctor examined him. They administered every test imaginable. On two different occasions the doctors brought in groups of interns to speculate as to what he had. I felt like I was in an episode of House, only with way less sexy doctors.
The first two days, Little Dude was so gravely ill he couldn’t watch television or even speak to me. That’s when I was the most terrified. Little Dude never shuts up.
SOMEONE PLEASE PLEASE TELL ME WHAT IS WRONG WITH MY CHILD.
I found myself making deals with God. “Please, let me have cancer and not my son. Please.”
My kid went through hell before they eventually diagnosed him with mesenteric lymphadenitis. It’s an inflammation of the lymph nodes in the intestines. The virus he’d contracted was so severe, his lymph glands had swelled to where the pain was intolerable. They weren’t even sure how he’d contracted it, since not one single other camper had it. After five days, he was released.
I’m not being dramatic when I tell you that I would not want to live in a world without my son.
Not every parent is this lucky.
Dorian Murray is an 8-year-old boy who has spent half his life bravely battling rhabdomyosarcoma. It’s a rare pediatric cancer, and his treatments are no longer working. Shortly after New Year’s, he decided to spend his remaining time with his family
His dying wish is to be famous, even in China. And thus the #DStrong movement began.
All over the world, people are taking pictures holding up signs to show Dorian that he has found his way into our hearts.
Rachel of www.misfitsmountainmama.com reached out to some of her writing friends and asked us to flood the internet with Dorian love and BLOW THIS HASHTAG UP!
If you’d like, please write something inspired by this badass little warrior.
Whatever you do, you can join up us with the #DStrong linkey thing on Darla’s blog.
Tonight, hug your children so, so tight. And never let go.
Talk to me. I’m listening.
My kid left for sleepaway camp Wednesday morning.
It’s the first time he’s going for the whole summer
It’s also the first time he didn’t want us to drive him. He wanted to take the bus. With his friends.
I think I may be overly attached to my kid. We have that unique ‘mother-son’ bond.
I’m not saying the other filial bonds aren’t as strong. The mother-son connection is a very specific relationship, just as the others are. For me, it’s “I’d walk through fire for this kid” strong.
Sleepaway camp is a Thing. You either grew up with it, or you didn’t. And if you didn’t (like me) it’s hard to understand why people are such slavish devotees. It’s practically a cult, and I’m no stranger to cults.
My Ex grew up going to sleep away camp, so naturally he wanted our son to experience it. I knew Little Dude would either love it or hate it. There’s no in between.
The first year we were considering it, we were with a few other families at one of our houses.
I said,”Sleep away camp! That’s where kids learn every filthy thing they know! That’s where slutty little camper girls give boys BLOW JOBS!”
The dads all looked at one another.
“Where do we sign UP?!”
Little Dude was only 8 years old when he went for 2 weeks that first summer.
Do I even have to TELL you what a basket case I was? We don’t have family near by, so my kid had never slept out of the house before. I waited all of two hours before checking on him. I called the camp every hour until 9 pm when they politely but firmly informed me that my son was FINE, but maybe I should calm the fuck down?
When he returned home, my kid, for first and only time, said he hated me – hated US. The culture shock of returning to genteel society after two weeks of living in the woods like a wild hyena had disoriented and confused him.
And he wanted to stay longer.
And so, a sleepaway camper was born.
That summer, he got up the next morning and for the first time, picked out clothes himself and came downstairs dressed.
Hmmm. Perhaps…there is good in this?
For Little Dude, it’s utter freedom. No one to bug him about table manners or picking up his socks. It’s a majestic camp ground in gorgeous woods with a spectacular lake and every activity a kid would want to do in the summer. It’s heaven on earth.
But OH MAH GOD he comes home filthy. I’m a germaphobe. I won’t even let him unpack his bags in my house. We unpack in the garage, and his mildewed musty laundry goes straight into the washing machine. Twice. While I douse all his bags with Lysol.
The first year, I wanted my kid to strip down in the driveway while I hosed him off, but my ex refused to let me, citing that as “cruel” because our hose only has cold water.
The second year, my kid went for a whole session, which is a month. He came home tan and fit and blissful.
And with impetigo. Ugh.
Last year when we went to see Little Dude on visiting day, he was in the infirmary with a virus. He was so ill we brought him home to see his pediatrician. She insisted we take him immediately to the ER. He was admitted to the hospital, and after a day, was transported by screeching ambulance to a bigger hospital with a pediatric oncology department.
You think I’ve survived some bad shit? It was all a cake walk compared to thinking my kid might have lymphoma. I spent 4 days in a pediatric oncology ward while they ran endless tests on my baby.
Lotta sick kids in that ward.
I’m just going to take a moment here to acknowledge how grateful I am that my son is healthy.
The doctors eventually diagnosed it as Mesenteric Lymphadenitis, a swelling of the lymph nodes in the intestines. It’s caused by a virus, but no one else from camp had gotten sick. It was mysterious and terrifying, as illness often is.
You think a scare like that might intimidate a kid, but mine has been chomping at the bit to get to camp since May.
This year, we decided my son would go for the whole summer. I have to pack up our house and move into a new place before school starts. It’ll be easier if he’s away.
Some parents do a crazy happy dance when their kids go off to camp. Not me.
Yes, I do get to go out and do All The Things. I travel, see friends. Write. But I miss my kid.
This year I’m really struggling.
The night before Little Dude left, I cooked his favorite meal – fajitas- and we watched a great documentary – Fresh Dressed. It’s about the evolution of hip hop culture in New York. I probably dug the fact that my kid was into this movie as much as I dug the movie itself.
He left on Wednesday morning and I didn’t speak to anyone, aside from Lizzi, for two days. I let phone calls go into voice mail. I took a break from Facebook and found out they had disabled my account for having a pseudonym. I didn’t care.
My house is usually so noisy. My kid talks constantly. Always has friends over. Blasts music. Plays XBox online so it sounds like there’s an army of psychopaths killing hookers in my basement.
It’s so quiet. I can hear the walls breathing.
My Ex stopped by this morning, to make sure I was eating (I was not) and not pining for my son (I was). I got my ass out of the house and bought some groceries. Sad little single-person groceries.
I didn’t speak to anyone because I wanted to lean into this sadness and explore it. I have never missed him like THIS before.
Yes, it’s the first time my kid will be away an entire summer.
It’s also the end of his childhood home. We’ll be in a new place. The last vestiges of our happy family will be wiped away forever. I know it’s a fresh start, and one I need – but it’s also tremendously sad. My kid will never be a toddler walking around this house again.
It’s the end of an era.
Eventually, I’ll embrace all that this means for the both of us.
But for now, I’m just going to feel how it feels to say goodbye to the little boy and the house he grew up in.
Do you have a kid who goes away during the summer?
Can you imagine missing your child like this?
I should be having debauched bacchanalian blowouts in my house all summer. Are you available?
Talk to me. I’m listening.