Mothahhood

life in my hood with 2 teenagers, a toddler and chronic pain

humpty bumpty June 25, 2009

Filed under: 2 teenagers and a toddler,it's all relative — mothahhood @ 5:44 pm
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I was driving with my big daughter (age 12) and we passed (flew over) 2 bumps in the road, put there for the purpose of slowing people down. One had the word “HUMP” painted on the road in front of it and the other had the word “BUMP” painted on the road in front of it. My daughter asked me, “what’s the difference between “bump” and “hump?”

After a momentary pause, I told her “if you hump you will get a bump.”

She actually thought I was funny.

nufced

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yes, we can June 19, 2009

O.K. ladies, anyone recognize this conversation?

My little one finished year 1 of preschool and brought home 2 absolutely beautiful finger paintings. My husband came home from work a little while ago and observed the loveliness of the artwork. So far so good, but here’s where it gets…shall we say fucking annoying?

J-“I really like these paintings that she made.”

me-“yeah, they are great.”

J-“Can we get some frames for them and hang them up?”

me-“Can we get some frames? Yes, we can. You can go about 4 minutes over yonder there in that there direction (as I motion with my hands in a general westward direction) to a place called Aaron Brothers Art and Frames and buy some frames and then come home and hang them up.”

Yes, we can. (I wonder if Michelle Obama originated this phrase.)

nufced

 

choosing schooling June 3, 2009

I had just dropped my daughter at preschool-preschool mind you, when I struck up a conversation with the dad of another child. At some point, I mentioned that I had 2 other kids, one in middle school and one in high school. He suddenly became very interested. He wanted to know where my son attends high school. I told him and he became very excited. “Oh, that’s where I want Katie to go, I’ve heard amazing things about it. I’ve heard they have the best test scores in town. I’m just not yet sure how I’m going to get her in there yet.” Yet? Katie is 3 years old. I’m not sure if this is a phenomenon of Los Angeles or if it is prevalent elsewhere as well. When I was pregnant with my son, people asked me if I was on a preschool waiting list yet. I thought they were joking. They weren’t and not only that, they were willing to pay what I paid to go to college for their 3 year old to learn to share and play in the sand. I think I signed my son up for preschool about a month before he started. We couldn’t have been happier with our choice and his best friend is still a boy he met there. When my oldest daughter was of age, we signed her up for preschool about a month before as well and same with the little one. Somehow, despite my failings at working the preschool “system”, our 2 eldest have managed to learn to read, to perform complex algebra equations, and are incredibly well adjusted socially and just happen to be straight A students. My 3 year old just got a certificate from her preschool acknowledging that she can recognize all the letters of the alphabet. Yea! (read that with appropriate, yet not over the top, enthusiasm)

To get back to the conversation I had with the dad-I told him where my 2 big kids went to elementary school. There is another, slightly more prestigious school near our home. I never had any interest in sending my kids there. Most of the kids there are white and come from affluent homes. That is perfectly fine, but explains why they might just have higher test scores than our school. I told him that at our home school, children from many cultures, and all socioeconomic classes are represented.  My kids’ friends look like a contingent from the United Nations. Also, our school has a great visual and performing arts program.  I told him that to me there is more to a school than it’s test scores. As we parted ways, he said “Thank you. I really never thought of that at all. You have definitely given me something to think about.”

I was a teacher for 14 years, but I have been a mother for 15. Schools matter, but not nearly as much as parents.

nufced

 

divorce, doggy style June 2, 2009

Several years ago in May, our beloved dog, Gaby, died.  While we were all devastated by losing her (I had her before I had my husband), she lived a long and wonderful life. I always wanted to have 2 dogs, but Gaby was one royal bitch who had no interest in sharing us or her home with any other member of the canine species, bitch or otherwise. A few weeks after she left us, we decided it was time to find 2 dogs to add to the chaos that was already our lives. To cut to the chase here, we ended up with, not 2 new furry additions to our home, but 3- a very large male, goofball, descended from Bernese Mountain dogs and some type of terrier, possibly Airedale, and 2 females (yes, bitches). One was a medium/small part black lab, part who knows what, 3 legged sweetheart and a puppy (for more on her read my previous post called “bitches part 1”). In order, their names are Major (Tom), Ziggy (Stardust), and China(girl). See the connections? Hint-we took our 2 big kids to their first concert shortly before getting the dogs and the performer was (drumroll, please)….David Bowie. They are also known to us as Majee, Zigmund and China Berry Pie.

 

majee

majee

 

Other than the large expense of feeding these 3 mutts and cleaning up the inevitable outcome of those feedings, all went swimmingly in our house of 4 humans and 3 canines for about 1 1/2 years. During that time, we added one more human to our family and the delicate 3 male/4 female ratio shifted even more heavily in favor of the females.  (kind of like the liberal/conservative ratio on the Supreme Court) Anyway, we were one big happy pack, until one day. I can’t remember much about it except for one incident. China and Ziggy got into fight, not a little catfight, mind you but a teeth-baring, till-death-do-us-part kind of fight. It is all a blur to me now. All I know is that I had to separate them and somehow I did. But, not before Ziggy was bleeding heavily from several spots and I was terrified. I had absolutely no idea what got them started or why. All I knew was Ziggy needed to get to the vet. Several stitches and several hundred dollars later we returned home. With trepidation, after Ziggy recovered sufficiently, we allowed the 2 girls back together. Major, being the alpha male of the pack would get between them if he saw anything amiss and they would respond respectfully to him. Things seemed fine for a while until it happened again. Again we took Ziggy to the emergency vet and got her fixed up. Keep in mind that Ziggy is at a numeric disadvantage when it comes to legs and by this point in their lives China had outgrown Ziggy by a good 20 pounds. 

 

the girls before the trouble began

the girls before the trouble began

 

We assumed China was at the root of all this evil so after many consultations with our dog trainer and our vet, we shipped China off to doggy boot-camp to be rehabilitated.  She was away for a few weeks at which point, our very own dog whisperer returned China to us with specific instructions on how to manage the dogs. He told us we needed to establish ourselves as the leaders of the pack and that they should read our signals to stay away from each other if they couldn’t be bff’s.  We tried, we put up gates where there were no doors, we closed doors were there were some and we kept the girls separated unless we were with them in the room. Thing is, I had an infant in my arms during much of this time. The big kids were good about remembering to keep the girls apart and so were we up to a point. After all, we are only human and always remembering to keep the girls apart was not easy or convenient. Major would take turns hanging out with each of the girls so almost always, one of the girls was by herself. Truth be told, this was a very stressful way to live for human and canine alike.  We were in constant fear of the dogs getting hurt or killed or worse, even, one of the kids.

Nonetheless, the dogs are part of our family and we had trouble even conceiving of giving one of them away. We are not give -up-easily or dog-giving-away people. End of story. But, alas, that was not the end of the story. One day, one of us left a door open, Ziggy found her way to China and as my 10 year old son saw them approach each other, he jumped in to try to stop them. It was too late and they were lunging at each other. The worst happened. As China went for ZIggy, J’s leg got in the way and China sank her teeth into his leg. Interestingly, as soon as she realized what she had done, she immediately backed off. Ziggy went after her though and it was, then, in hindsight, that we realized that It was not China after all, but Ziggy, sweet little ZIggy, fiercely dominant and unrelenting Ziggy who had been the instigator all along. Jalen was fine, after an ER visit (it was not his first nor his last). But our pack, our family, was not fine. We realized with heartbreak that one of the girls had to go. We couldn’t decide which so we put out the word for both of them. My husband wrote beautiful biographies for each of them and we advertised around. Eventually a family came forward who fell in love with Ziggy. We knew this family would love Ziggy as we did and so one sad day my husband took ZIggy to her new home, where she, surrounded by 3 cats, lives as the 3 legged queen of the roost. Our hearts ached, not only for our loss, but as parents, for the loss that our children felt and our inability to provide them any comfort. They understood that we had no choice.

The only solution for peace in our household was divorce.

We visit her and she always is thrilled to see us, but when it is time for us to leave, she walks us out and looks at us as if to say, “that was a lovely visit, please do come again.”

We are told that Ziggy has a gentleman (dog) caller named Archie. 

nufced

P.S. Last week (in May), we received a holiday (2008) card from Ziggy’s humans. There was a detailed explanation for its late arrival and inside, a picture of Ziggy, wrapped in a red cape sitting on the lap of Santa Claus, looking almost like she belongs there.

 

to our son May 31, 2009

Last year on this date, we celebrated our son’s coming of age.   He put together an amazing ceremony with readings from many cultures and writings from many people throughout the world. They all reflected to him, what it means to become a man in today’s world, to be part of a bigger community, to have a deeper consciousness and to take to take on greater responsibility in this world. I wrote a piece to him. It is what follows.

As most of you probably know, I am a pretty big baseball fan and a crazy Red Sox fan.  I am not, on the other hand a religious person.  When my husband and I began our journey as parents we agreed that we would raise our children to be good people, but that we would not raise them to follow any particular religion and that we would leave that choice to them as they got older. So it was much to my surprise (shock) when our son told us he wanted a bar mitzvah.  How could this have happened I thought? Where did we go wrong? 

Of course, we also have given our children just about everything they have ever wanted and we have certainly supported them in all of their endeavors, so there was no question that if he wanted it, we would make it happen.  Meanwhile though, we wanted to ensure that he was mindful and reflective of this experience and was doing it for the right reasons, not because it was what he thought his grandparents expected or because it was what many of his friends did. We wanted to ensure that he was aware of the meaning behind his words, be they English or Hebrew.  We had many conversations with J (some rather intense) about what it was he really wanted in doing this ceremony and in acknowledging his journey to adulthood.  We encouraged him to explore his feelings and goals and his own belief system–to look at where he sees himself in the world and in his own community.  J, with us, came to an understanding that he really wanted a ceremony to mark his coming into adulthood and he wanted to be surrounded by the important people in his world to share this moment in his journey. 

Somehow (through divine intervention of the baseball gods) we found ourselves able to have this celebration at this amazing house of worship (Dodger Stadium).  It is not, of course, Fenway Park, but the spirituality of the game is definitely here.  What a perfect location for us.  I’ve always joked that if I had to chose a religion, it would be baseball.  The rules of baseball are not unlike the rules in life. They are a guide, a  set of clearly defined directives for playing the game fairly (without instant replay) and allowing everyone equal chance at greatness.  Even the torah is not meant to be read literally but as a set of metaphors and lessons for how to live a just life.    

One day when J was about 8 or 9 he told us he wanted to play baseball.  I was so glad when he chose it as his one and only sport. Baseball combines the best of a team sport and an individual sport. Sometimes you stand alone and strike out and other times you hit one out of the park. Every day, people have outstanding moments in a game but rarely can one person be given sole credit for a win and likewise even though we’ve seen people massively blunder a play (think Billy Buckner), one person can truly never take full blame for a loss. Sometimes you sacrifice for the good of the team, sometimes you get beaned on the head, every once in a while, you have a day-a moment when you pitch an elusive perfect game or, you face challenges that seem insurmountable, but you always have your team around you to lift you up.  Each day and each game bring new opportunities and possibilities.

So too is life.

Each failure or crushing defeat brings with it the optimistic chant, “there’s always next year” and sometimes, sometimes when you keep the faith long enough (86 years) next year actually comes, you can overcome the demons of your history and just like that, curses can end. 

Things can turn on one pitch or when you seem to be down to your last out, one small gesture can turn it all back around-David (Roberts) can look Goliath right in the eye, challenge him head on, steal a base right from under his nose, and know that things have turned around just like that. Empires fall and dynasties end, and the underdog, the little guy can, with the right bunch of idiots around him, do the impossible.   

Every spring, I wait with anticipation for opening day.  Where I come from, the beginning of baseball season, means spring is here.  Here in Los Angeles where temperatures fluctuate by only a few degrees from January to June, the coming of spring may not mean much, but in Connecticut, it means the snow will finally be gone, the crocuses will  pop up and the daffodils will soon follow.  It means a fresh start after the long dormancy of winter.  the start of a new baseball season means a clean slate, a new beginning, a new chance, and eternal hope and optimism.  Such is the start of a new life. When J was born (4 weeks before we expected him, but of course, during spring training) , we could see for the first time as parents, a new life, entrusted to us, a life filled with hope and optimism-a perfect start.  We saw a new person with a very old soul.  This child has not disappointed. Every day he shows us greatness, sometimes he makes an error, but he gets back in the game and continues to play, sometimes he makes an amazing play, a web gem moment.  He is loyal to his friends and family–his team, and he is a team player.  J has and has always had great empathy and compassion. He loves animals and he has a value system that is deep and unwavering. At the same time, such as in the game of baseball, J knows that he can never take things too seriously.  He has a great sense of humor and sees life in all it’s irony and foolishness.  Many nights before going to bed, I find  myself in J’s room laughing my ass off with him over something foolish but hysterical. He is a powerful good friend, a fierce big brother, protective and challenging at the same time.  He is as likely to pick on M (his younger sister) as he is to hang out with her playing a video game, or showing her the latest funny You Tube video.  When J was little, if he got sad or hurt, he only wanted his baby sister M to comfort him.  J delights in his newer baby sister, and told me shortly after her birth, that he finally understands how much we love him.  

Recently, in a game in Baltimore, Manny Ramirez made an amazing catch in left field, ran up the back wall and high-fived a Sox fan, before running back down and throwing the ball to double up the runner on first.  I have never seen anything like it before and that is one of the reasons I love baseball so much.  You never know what is going to happen and you continually see things you have never seen before. that is the beauty of the game of baseball and that is the beauty of the journey of life.  

Mahalo is J’s middle name as most of you know, because we got him when we were on our honeymoon in Hawaii.  Mahalo means thanks you in Hawaiian.  J, as you travel the bases of life, always remember the rules, and always always Keep the faith. Mahalo for being our son.

nufced

 

prop hate May 26, 2009

I MUST get on my blog soapbox here for a minute. While I am deeply saddened by today’s news, I am not surprised. As the mother of 2 daughters and one son, as well as a friend to many gay or lesbian people, today is a day that must only strengthen our resolve to win equal rights for all humans. Whether my own children grow up to be straight or gay couldn’t matter less to me. That they grow up in a society that they can marry regardless of their sexual orientation matters greatly to me. I recently watched the movie “Milk” and am truly inspired by him and so many others to continue this fight until all people have the right to be as happy or as miserable in marriage as anyone else. I hope you will join me.

join the fight at the Courage Campaign:http://tr.im/msJf or Equality California: http://tr.im/msJs

on this particular point… not nufced

 

bitches May 18, 2009

 

China Girl

China Girl

Part 1


There are 2 bitches in this house and only one of them is a dog.

One of our two dogs, China Girl, we adopted from a rescue when she was 6 months old. When she was 4 months old, she was set on fire, then thrown out of a moving truck on the freeway where she was hit by a car. Some kind soul stopped, picked her up and brought her to a shelter. She had to have surgery to fix 3 broken legs and a hip replacement. Talk about torture. Who could do this to a dog, a puppy? I’m certain she had no information about 9/11 or any other thing. She has a large scar on her side, a burn that will never heal that covers about 12 square inches of her body. There is no fur covering that part of her side. She doesn’t like strangers, which is to say she barks at people she doesn’t know until she does know them, which usually takes all of 4 minutes and then she gives love-kisses, tail wags, more kisses, butt sniffs and more kisses. For some reason, she has forgiven humanity its transgression. I’m working on being more like her.

nufced