Another Day, Another Dollar

Monkey’s fever still hasn’t broken. It goes down when she takes Tylenol or Motrin, which I figure is a good sign. She also seems much better today, less lethargic. Nothing else is bothering her — no sore throat, no puking. But she is not eligible to return to daycare until she is fever-free for 24 hours with no meds.

My in-laws have a day filled with doctors appointments and errands, so I am home with her. She is singing through what I had hoped would be nap time.

Due to the incredible downpours yesterday, the girls slept overnight at my in-laws house. After I took Bun down to day care, I returned to find a restless Monkey. She was actually bored with television, which I took as another good sign. I brought her home, bathed her, and we played a few games together.

First up: Colorforms. We built houses, and a city skyline, and a man holding a bunch of balloons. It was pretty fun, actually.

Once we cleaned that up, we broke out the board games. Monkey hates Chutes & Ladders, but she insists on playing it. She loses interest about halfway through — and if she’s losing, even sooner. (Note to self: Teach Monkey old saw about winning, losing, and how you play the game.) True to form, she wanted to bail and play something else when I was winning, but I held firm (and tried not to sound too exasperated) as I explained we would either quit playing games altogether or we would finish Chutes & Ladders and then play something else.

She went on to win that game (yes, I let her — she can only learn so many lessons in one day), plus Candy Land and Hi-Ho Cherry-O — pretty much the Triple Crown of children’s board games. She ate a fantastic lunch; then we played what Monkey calls the Match Game (i.e. Memory). I’m pretty sure I ran away with that one, but we didn’t count cards at the end.

This afternoon will be for coloring and other arts & crafts. Maybe we’ll watch some TV after dinner, but I’m hoping not to have to turn it on before then.

All I am really hoping is that the fever breaks. She is clearly feeling better, and there are no indications that the illness is a return of strep. If she’s still running a temperature tomorrow, though, someone will have to take her to the doctor to definitively rule it out.

Wonder who that will be?

Tuesday: FAIL

So I had to bolt to pick my feverish, puking Monkey up from Day School yesterday. I am praying that she is not reinfected with strep, and that it’s just the flu. Yeah, “just” the flu.

If anyone mentions pigs, there will be blood.

Also: WTF is up with my children? They spend more time sick than well these days, or so it seems.

If anyone mentions feeding them meat — as my FIL did last night — there will be blood.

To top off the night, I ran out with my FIL to deal with his nephew’s car, which was pretty much sitting in the middle of an on ramp on Route 60. It had stopped running (the oil was all over the road, so something must have cracked or leaked) and he simply took the keys out of the car and made the five mile trek home. I felt bad for everyone involved, but I watched some hockey highlights on my phone (for free) while we waited for AAA, and my FIL had me home by 10:15. It is exhausting, sometimes, family.

Bun is just fine, but I’m sure she will be sick by the weekend. She woke up crying at 2:30 a.m.; I figured she was either feverish or ready to throw up. But she was neither. Maybe it was just a bad dream. After I brought her in bed with us, she went right back to sleep.

That child is a bed hog — er, bed pirate. Yeah, pirate.

Anyway, Bun is off to Day School again; Monkey will spend the day at my in-laws, no doubt in front of the giant screen TV all day. Which, I guess there are worse ways to spend sick time.

About a Mom

So I got a good night’s rest last night, and I’m feeling a little better. Plus, aside from bedtime (Bun had a meltdown, but it is an exception instead of the rule these days) I didn’t have to give my girls time out yesterday.

It was a good night.

What I wrote yesterday and a lot of what I read that contributed to what I wrote got me thinking. And then I read this, about another mother, and it made me feel even better and left me amazed that someone could write so powerful a tribute to her amazing mom.

It made me think about my own mother on this spectrum of “bad” to Good.

My mom is a great mom. She is a real mom, if you know what I mean. Growing up, she didn’t give me unrealistic expectations of how to have a career and be a loving mom and wife. She wasn’t Super Mom. She was a super mom, and she is one of my heroes, but I never think to myself, “How did my mother do this?”

She just did it. When we were very young, she stayed home while my father (a pharmacist) worked full time and more than full time. Eventually, my mom started back to work (she is also a pharmacist) on a part-time basis — as little as one day a week. When her youngest daughter started first grade, my mom returned to work full time. She and my father were partners in a business. They talked about it a lot. As a matter of fact, I remember as a 12-year-old suddenly exploding at the dinner table: “Can’t you talk about something beside work? I’m so tired of hearing about your nursing homes!” My mother and father exchanged a look. And changed the subject.

Was she a perfect mom? Did she revere us children, put us first in her life? Did she bake cookies and never yell?

I do recall some cookie baking. And some yelling. And the occasional swat to the behind with a wooden spoon. She wasn’t perfect. But she was still great.

Her marriage came first. She and my dad had date nights (I remember disco lessons and bowling league). They were partners, and neither one of them ever chose one of us children over their partnership.

They were loving and stern disciplinarians. We had boundaries; we learned to toe the line. We had mealtimes, and bedtimes, and curfews, and chores. We had structure. It’s something I am striving to provide for my own children.

My mom took care of us. She cooked meals — we ate as a family probably five times a week. She packed lunches, tended to us when we were sick, made sure we had clean clothes, read us bedtime stories (my dad read to us too). She took us to the beach and to the zoo and she made us laugh.

My mom did all the things that to my mind moms were supposed to do. And that includes having a strong, loving partnership with her husband, and pursuing a career. I’m not going to say she made it look easy. I remember frustration and silence in my house; I remember stress and tension. But it never looked so hard that I thought to myself, “There’s no way I can do that.”

My mom provided encouragement, both through her words and actions, and by example. At a time when many women were choosing college to get their MRS degrees, my mother pursued a career instead. She was probably the only woman to graduate from Duquesne School of Pharmacy in 1968. And, yeah, that’s where she met my father, but that’s not why she went. She went because she wanted to work. My parents didn’t get married until they were 25 years old.

My mom didn’t always approve of my choices — whether clothes or boys or the decision to pierce my lip (I was a college graduate by then; she couldn’t stop me). One of my mother’s catch phrases was “that’s not appropriate”. She worried about me, and the decisions I made. But she was always there; she never turned her back on me (we had a close call once; dad intervened).

She danced at my wedding. She was there when Gabriel died. She was there when my daughters were born. She’s still here, and that makes me a lucky woman, daughter, and mom.

She doesn’t interfere in my life, and she doesn’t offer a lot of advice. She says that we were perfect children; she also says she doesn’t remember struggling. I believe her. But she always listens to me, and she always assures me that it will be okay. And I believe her.

Besides, she is a perfect grandmother — or Nonna, as my girls call her.

I wouldn’t want it any other way. I wouldn’t want any other mom. I hope I do it half as well as she does.

Time Out

I am having some serious doubts about this parenting gig.

As much as I want to not have disobedient, whiny, fractious children, as much as I believe in parenting by instinct and not by the book(s), as much as I am trying to be a good mother to my children — not by being a Good Mother, but by doing my best by them as my flawed, imperfect self enables me to — I am starting to worry.

The end goal for me parenting-wise is to raise well-adjusted, happy, responsible adults. I don’t propose to do that by parenting out of a book. I don’t propose to do that by being a helicopter parent. I don’t propose to do that by being super-strict or loosey goosey. I don’t propose to do that by giving my children everything they want.

I also don’t propose that any of the ways in which I am choosing to parent my children is going to be the way you should parent your children.

But on Saturday morning, I came smack up against the idea that maybe “this” isn’t working. Whatever the hell this is.

You know how you say, “I will turn this car around if you don’t knock it off” to your children?

Yeah, I turned the car around.

I am seeking to be a little more quiet with my children — I hate to yell at them. I find it very stressful, and they find it very upsetting. A lot of times this means I have to walk away from them — give myself a little time out. A lot of times this means I have to put them into time out in their room, set a timer (usually 2 minutes for Bun, and 4 or 5 minutes for Monkey), and walk away from the tantrum.

I do not want to spank my children. I do, still, sometimes. But less often than I feel like it. As I’m typing this I am thinking that I don’t remember the last time I actually spanked them (I’m sure I had the urge recently, but I didn’t do it. That’s progress).

I am picking my battles. However, I’m not 100% convinced I’m picking the right battles.

Saturday, we were scheduled to be in Meadville for my youngest nephew’s baptism. The girls and I were going to drive there, then go the rest of the way to Erie. DearDR was going to drive up after work so he and I could attend my 20th high school reunion.

I managed to get everything and everyone in the car and pulling out of the driveway by 10:30. I had to stop for gas. On the way to the gas station, I had to reprimand Monkey about five times. Hell, I had to stop at the bottom of my driveway, turn around and say, “If you do not listen to me, we will not go to Erie. We will stay home today.”

She did not listen to me. She would not share with Bun. She would not stop yelling at Bun. She called me a mean mommy. When, as I was filling up the tank, I saw her yank something out of Bun’s hands and Bun start to cry, I thought to myself, “No effing way am I doing this for the next two hours.”

I got in the car, told her I saw that she was not sharing with her sister, and that we were going straight home and staying home for the day. No baptism, no cousins, no Nonna and Pap-pap, no Erie.

Monkey went ballistic. She screamed and cried all the way home. Even as she was saying, “I’ll calm down. I’ll be good!” she was flipping out.

I was sorely disappointed, to say the least. I wanted to go to the baptism. I even wanted to go to my reunion. But no way in hell was I going to fight with my daughter as I was driving a car, and there was no way in hell that she was going to get what she wanted if she was not going to listen to me.

Once home, I let the girls out of the car, changed them out of their dresses, and let them run around outside. As they were chasing butterflies in the yard, I wondered if this was even going to matter to them. If the lesson of not going to Erie was going to be lost because, hey, look, a sunny day and butterflies to chase!

Despair is not too strong a word for what I felt. Also: disappointment, rage, and frustration.

The rest of the day went a little better. Lunch went well, as did quiet time (not perfectly, mind you, but it wasn’t a nightmare). They did not get to go to Bella’s house, and we did not watch TV.

We did eventually go to Erie for my reunion, and thus my girls did get to see Nonna and Pap-pap. But by the time we left at 4 p.m., they had been behaving remarkably well, and they were fricking angels in the car. (Of course, Bun passed out, so that kind of helped.)

Am I doing something wrong? Are they more inclined to listen to their father? Why do we have these battles? Will? Power? Boundaries? Why does Bun hit me? (Yes, she gets time out for hitting me.) Why does Monkey whine? Why does Monkey flip out when I say “no” to her?

I am exhausted from the weekend. I am exhausted from mothering my children right now. When they push, I don’t know if I should push back or not.

This shit isn’t for the faint of heart. And I am feeling distinctly faint these days.

Yawn. Zzzzz.

The weekend to this point has been difficult, challenging, and… interesting. I have a lot to ponder and write about, but I need some sleep first.

Due to my high school reunion, the debate of whether or not to join Facebook is being revisited. In my head. The last thing I need is more time in front of a computer. If it is something that can be set up and minimally tended, I’ll do it. But if it turns into a giant timesuck, I’m going to bail.

And if any of the following become too bothersome, I’m out.

Welcome Back, Lord Stanley

As I’m attending my 20th high school reunion today, I was going to write about my high school experience (mostly good).

But then something happened to mess with RPM’s night off (mostly bad), and I thought I was going to have to post this again.

But instead, reinforcements came through, and I got to watch this at Bocktown.

I probably owe my MIL some hard labor, but it’ll have been worth it.

What a season. Go, Pens.

The Wonder of It All

Due to Day School policy, I had to keep Bun home on Wednesday, too. Since we were both cabin feverish, I decided to take her down to the Three Rivers Arts Festival for a picnic. We’d get outside, but still have minimal person-to-person contact.

I parked over in the lot across from Station Square, and we took the T downtown. It was the best $2.50 I ever spent (when did transfers become a $1??). I thought Bun would be a little frightened; she’s not crazy about loud noises. But she was captivated. She looked at all the people; she stared out the window. When we went underground, she goggled. “Tunnel, mama?” she asked.

We picked a place to picnic on the lawn in Point State Park. Bun looked all around, and when the band started, she moved closer, pb&j firmly in hand. She stared at that stage as if she had to memorize it.

NOMAD is not the type of music I usually listen to, but they certainly were an enjoyable live band at a noon on a Wednesday. And, hey, one of their covers was Keith Urban, but another was Crowded House. So that was just fine.

It did finally get too loud — I’ve noticed Bun is far more sensitive to noise since ear tubes.

We wandered down to the fountain at the Point. We didn’t get as far as the confluence spot where DearDR proposed, though. Bun was distracted by the sprinklers first, then the ducks.

We took the T back to Station Square. I wish I had the image of the look on her face when the trolley emerged from underground: all round eyes and ‘o’ mouth. “It’s daytime!” she exclaimed.

It was tough being a SAHM again, even briefly. But that T ride with Bun made it worthwhile.

Six Years Out: The Memorial

Six years ago today, my husband read this excerpt from Letters to a Young Poet, by Rilke. This is from the fourth letter.

“…Here, where I am surrounded by an enormous landscape, which the winds move across as they come from the seas, here I feel that there is no one anywhere who can answer for you those questions and feelings which, in their depths, have a life of their own; for even the most articulate people are unable to help, since what words point to is so very delicate, is almost unsayable. But even so, I think that you will not have to remain without a solution if you trust in Things that are like the ones my eyes are now resting upon. If you trust in Nature, in the small Things that hardly anyone sees and that can so suddenly become huge, immeasurable; if you have this love for what is humble and try very simply, as someone who serves, to win the confidence of what seems poor: then everything will become easier for you, more coherent and somehow more reconciling, not in your conscious mind perhaps, which stays behind, astonished, but in your innermost awareness, awakeness, and knowledge. You are so young, so much before all beginning, and I would like to beg you, dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer. Perhaps you do carry within you the possibility of creating and forming, as an especially blessed and pure way of living; train yourself for that — but take whatever comes, with great trust, and as long as it comes out of your will, out of some need of your innermost self, then take it upon yourself, and don’t hate anything.”

I don’t know how he did it. I could barely stand up. Actually, I don’t think I did stand up. Someone got me a chair.

I held someone’s hand — or someone held mine. It felt like trying to stay above water. DearDR maybe; maybe my dad. I really don’t remember. My milk came in that day, too, at the restaurant afterward. Talk about insult to injury.

A lot of the accounts I read mention cremation for babylost babies. DearDR and I actually had a burial, with the smallest casket ever — we didn’t make any of the arrangements; my ILs did; and we had a picture of Gabriel framed for people to see him as he was after delivery.

I wish I weren’t thinking of this today. I’m so very tired. Since Saturday at 3 a.m., this week has been the longest month of my life. But the girls are restored to health and daycare, so I have to move forward too. My heart’s having a hard time of it. Grieving has taken a back seat to strep and laundry and work. Well, and Pittsburgh Penguins games. It’s not all a burden.

Miss you, little boy. Watch over us. Let us find peace.

What I Am: In Brief

I finished Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. Very satisfying, and well set up for the final book in the trilogy. Now I am stuck for a book until I order Inkspell from Amazon. I think I will try to time that so it arrives before our Cape Cod vacation. In the meantime, I’m open to book suggestions again.


I had to choose between Green Day and the Decemberists as my concert for the year. (Hey, I get to actually go to one this year, so I figure I’m ahead of the game.) I decided on Green Day, primarily because I harbor inside of me (and always will) my black-leather-jacket-and-mini-skirt-wearing 22-year-old self.

I’m very fond of my younger, punker, rock chick persona. I’d love to go tell her a few things — like leaving well enough alone after the first breakup with the Ex — but all-in-all, we survived the 20s. And we ended up in a really good place.

In preparation for the upcoming concert in July, I downloaded the new album 21st Century Breakdown. I haven’t listened to it in depth, but my cursory review would be: Lives up to the promise of American Idiot. Green Day is moving toward more of a power pop/punk sound. When I give it a few more spins (can I still say that??), I’ll have more to add.

Also, when I told DearDR I had thought about buying Decemberists tickets instead (I believe I mentioned it at the Black Keys show), he said, “You made the right choice. I wouldn’t have gone to the Decemberists with you.”


Finally, after several days with sick children, and playing the role of SAHM again, I have declared Friday RPM’s day off. I will be out and about in the Robinson area, and if you care to join me, I will be watching the Pens game at a fine establishment later that evening. Go, Pens!