Thursday, February 23, 2012

Gummy, Gummy, In My Tummy!

After recently starting that petri-dish of vomitville, Pre-School, i went whole hog into defense mode. Broccoli, oranges, apples, heck, I'll throw in a few prunes. However, i did have a slight heart attack when Olive wandered into my bedroom recently having digested an entire bottle of recently purchased gummy princess vitamins. I had no clue on what to do! oh god - it felt like a lifetime movie - i knew this day of child doing something horrific that may be serious but we could ultimately laugh about would come but NOW? NOW? Immediately, i envisioned putting a bar of soap in her mouth or charcoal (which i clearly have in my pantry along with my anaphylactic shock kit...) or perhaps cooking salt and then shoving my fingers down her throat. Think, i thought! THINK!! OK - 911?! Seems extreme...and yet in hindsight that makes me feel even worse that i put embarrassment before possible over dosage of gummy Cinderellas.
Doctor - next step down - I called and get the advice nurse. She spoke very calmly but firmly - in the same tone as my mother had told me to get out of the pool in Florida because there was a snake behind me that i hadn't yet spotted - and told me to call Poison Control.
Great - right - OK - i feel like Hugh Grant in Four Weddings and a Funeral - ", could i have their number, please???" Never had i felt more of a failure. Shouldn't i have had a fridge magnet with this number on it? Surely, it should have been handed out in the hospital with the baby? I'll take the placenta - you take this list of useful numbers...
I swear i hear a tut or some sort of irritated sigh. As she starts with the numbers i have to ask her to "hold on" while i find a pen. Note to self, get one of those pens on a string to also go on the fridge. Located pen, now paper, find back of an envelope that will do - "OK, go ahead". I'm surprised that this woman hasn't dispatched social services at this point.
I hang up, call Poison Control - which sounds terrifying - i keep picturing the Jolly Roger flag. Surely it should be "Potentially Harmful Ingested Items Hotline?" Meanwhile, Olive is so jacked up on sugar that i swear she is tripping. She is riding the rocking horse at accelerated speed and i swear she is singing the song that Willy Wonka plays when they go through the psychedelic tunnel on the boat.
Poison Control answers - I reluctantly give my name and address and find myself altering my accent slightly. I quickly explain that my daughter has eaten practically the entire contents of some Costco gummy vitamins. Eyes closed, baited breath.
...and then as though she was shelling peas on the other end of the line..."Oh, (did she laugh?)they do it, ALL THE TIME!" she says - Don't worry".
Um, OK - i think about hanging up and trying another poison expert.
Really? I ask.
Yes, then she asked me some legit questions about weight of child and what the gummies contained and i started to relax a bit, wheeze a little less.
So, apparently 45 gummy vitamins for a toddler - not such a big deal!!! (Do not ever quote me on that).
So...thank you super sugary, yummy gummy princess vitamins!! I have the healthiest, super immune, come and get me virus free toddler in the universe.
(We are however waiting for her to stop riding the rocking horse like a maniac... )

Sometimes I wonder if I'm a Suitable Parent?

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Time to Stop and Smell the Roses


Well, the good news is I'm not dead. The bad news is you are missing about 8 months of your life...however, let me be the first to tell you that you just became interesting! We now have conversations. It's brilliant - I ask a question and you answer, and it doesn't matter if the response is you bursting into the ABC's - we are on the same page, or at least in the same book. Recently, I was so excited about a party you had been to that as i drilled you with questions, you turned to me, rested one hand on my arm and told me to 'calm down'. It was then that i knew we had reached the next stage and that whole ridiculous babbling, wash, rinse, repeat stage was over. You were my friend!!! Everything had changed - things like blowing bubbles - i no longer have to pretend and applaud you for licking the miniature wand...

However, let me share with you part of this transition. Currently, you are on the home stretch with toilet training, and now it's just the occasional accident...usually on my knee or when you crawl into bed with us in the morning - "wait, what's that warm feeling?"
Anyway, one weekend we ran out of diapers and that was it. We were going cold turkey. (Also, I think all the wipes had gone too, and the paper towels - we really are those parents that forget to bring snacks, fill sippy cups, carry spare underwear, feed pets, buy gifts at Christmas - the list goes on). Anyway, when the bulged diaper of a poop is not only visible across a playground, but it carries the stench of an adults 'evacuation', well, then it's time to call it a day.

So, I needed a battle plan and since my nose usually bears the brunt of anything gross - my attack was to share the suggestion of sensory disgust. I started with... "Oh, no more diapers - who wants to be smelly down there?". Or, "ugh (said softly), we don't want wee wee all on you down there". "How about we try some nice and clean big girl knickers?". Things like that. Now, aside from the Elmo potty book, i hadn't really sought out any formal thinking on the matter, which is perhaps a shame. However, I don't trust anyone that only speaks in the third person... as such my relationship with Elmo is strained at best.

So, i had my tactic and all was going very well. Easy...right?

Fast forward a couple of weeks when i pick you up from preschool. Now, I'm new to this parental club business - i just get a little uncomfortable seeing them all bosom up and talk tofu snacks and toy drives. I've noticed that some parents when they collect their child will even sit down in the classroom, in those tiny plastic chairs, and do things like read to them or play in the sand box, rather than whisking then away home. (Seems a bit for show, if you ask me). Anyway, this is not me - I'm like a mountain lion. Stealth. In and out, only stopping long enough to use the hand sanitizer. Having said that, I'm not totally rude. I'll nod and smile at anyone, just not long enough to engage in conversation.

Anyway, today your little face lit up as you saw me and you ran to me shouting "Mummy" at the top of your little lungs! (Think Princess Di greeting Prince William and Prince Harry as she stepped off Britannica...yup, that's right) Before i can scoop you up, you run to me and bury your head in my legs. Just as joy almost forced me to introduce myself to the lady standing next to me, whose own child hadn't even noticed her- you remove your face from between my legs and shout to the world, "ugh, stinky wee wee. Oh yucky!"

Now - there are only a few places to go from there. I can try and explain to the other mothers that we are going through the transition to underwear phase, or i can just let them think that i forgot to wear a scented pantyliner that morning. I silently thank God that i had not come in my workout clothes, and instead was dressed in business attire, having come straight from work. Oh God, i thought - please just let a bottle of Summer's Eve fall from my bag. Seriously - for all my pee jokes, this was not a moment where i cracked a funny about dribbling and sneezing. No, this was out and out embarrassment. I wanted to scream - "BUT I HONESTLY DON'T!!!!"

But i didn't - i forced a chuckle that actually almost turned into a burp and tried to make eye contact with another mother to find some camaraderie, but all eyes were down or looking away. Dear Lord - they were actually embarrassed for me. They probably thought I birthed a 14lb baby and never recovered. So, I tried to brush it off with a snort and made some bizarre comment about "ooh, the things they come out with - goodness, where does it come from?"

Silence...literally, crickets and tumbleweeds.

So now, when you have a bath or you accidentally pee on me, I bite my tongue and use words like "fresh", "summer breeze", "lovely", when stressing the importance of cleaning that "area" properly. As an act of caution, I have also adopted a different approach to publicly greeting you. I am prepared - I bend down, stretch my arms as far as they can reach and scoop you up before you even get close to my fragranced, summer breeze.

Monday, May 9, 2011

To my mum...

Mothers Day

The words came so easily – not because they were fake, lies, or cliché. I mean each and every word of them. Its just…it never quite feels like enough.

Dear Mum,

Thank you for your continued love and support. You are an inspiration. I can only hope to be half the mother you have been to me.

Lots of love, Paula

I think I say the same, or words to that every effect every single year. Again…meaning every word. The whole point of this blog was that if I were to drop dead tomorrow, my daughter could know me, read stories of herself and have a truth of motherhood that only a mother can share. In the midst of my post partum depression, I became panicked that I was going to lose myself and leave her motherless…and so the true confessions began. No baby book, I’m afraid. Already, I cannot remember when your first tooth came through – it’s a haze.

So, I think of my mum. Incredible. Amazing. Loving. I could go on for days but somehow it seems empty because we have gone beyond that. I can say a million words by looking away from you and leaving a question hanging in the air. You can somehow read my hurt over the phone. You are my mum. You are irreplaceable. In fact, you are the one person on this earth that cannot be replaced. So here is something that I need to say…that i'd like you to know.

I’m sorry.

I am wholeheartedly sorry that I once made you cry. That my own words could cause you such grief. That before I finished saying them I saw the pain etched on your face. That he was in the room. That I had the audacity to ever say to you,

“What you think doesn’t count.”

It’s hard to remember the context. It wasn’t said out of malice but the words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. You left the room and went upstairs without saying a word. I followed. I could feel the pain I had caused through your bedroom door. In the midst of all you were going through and all the pain you were shielding us from, I let you down. All of that...and I should throw that at you?

I’m sorry.

I eventually walked in and you looked at me with swollen eyes and asked me straight,

“Why would you say such a thing?”

I always remember thinking that you didn’t say ‘How could you?’ but ‘why would you?’ I just blabbed that I didn’t mean it, it came out wrong, and it wasn’t what I wanted to say.

I’m sorry.

I can see you now, holding a crumpled piece of toilet paper in your left hand, tightly fisted with the white tissue peeping through your knuckles. Some of it is caught in your diamond ring. You tell me it’s ok. You tell me you forgive me. We hear him coming up the stairs and we both know you just want me to leave the room so you can curl up and sleep this away. I can respect that.

I leave and dissolve on my own bed. I am wailing. I have never wailed before. Knowing already what you think I don’t. I hate myself in this moment more than ever. I can see myself lying on the bed, tears streaming and I don’t want them to stop. I want to cry myself away for what I just did to you. He enters then. I thought I would stop crying and just lie still and silent but I don’t. I hug him and fully fall into being a child again. “I really upset her”. I say over and over and over and over. And there in that moment, he comes the closest that I have ever heard him get to an admittance of wrongdoing.

“It’s not you she’s upset with. It’s me.”

I wanted more of this man. More of this father. More of hearing this pain from him. I wanted so badly for him to be who we wanted him to be. I know you wanted that way more than me...had wished for that on more nights that I could count.

And then he was gone. Still hugging me, but I knew he was going to break away first. He told me to ‘get some sleep, it would be better in the morning’ and was gone. Back in bed with you. It was done.

I don’t remember anymore than that. Not the next morning. Not if it was ever brought up again. That year, for a million reasons, is forgotten. I do know that I have never told you just how sorry I am and how I only need to think of that moment and I literally wilt. That you deserve to know that every single word you say is important. Every thought you share is taken in and every bit of advice you give is treasured. That every day I will quote you, or hear you in something I say to Olive. I have your lyricism in my voice. I have your bend in my toes. So does Olive.

They don’t leave enough room in cards for that sort of a Happy Mother’s Day downer…but should I drop dead in the night or you leave me tomorrow, I hope you see this first and know forever that you are my everything. That every thing you do counts and is counted and remembered forever.

I love you.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Ode To New York

Dear New York,

This is probably the toughest email that I will ever write. Where to start? Firstly, I'm sorry i didn't get to say goodbye in person, I had hoped to see you this afternoon to say a quiet goodbye but in the end it was just too hard. So, I planned to just slip off without saying a word, but I'm here at the airport and I just can't leave without explaining. r.

So, it's not you, it's me. Cliche, huh?

I first met you when i was 12 (and I should have known you'd be trouble when i got my first period in Central Park) and it was love at first sight. When we met again I was 23. I saw you and was completely spellbound. I was barely a woman. I had no idea who I was and yet i knew enough to know that you were everything I had ever dreamed of. You literally consumed me and within days our nights were as long as our days together. I knew that I could wake up and feel wanted. There were even times that I felt completely needed by you. Seven incredible years you made me feel that way. Nobody compared to you, not even close. Not even London. Long, heady nights together, sleeping in till hunger forced us to brunch, then I'd nap and then we'd do it all over again. Crazy, incredible days. You were my everything. I know we had our ups and downs. You drove me nuts. You were a drug, irresistible. I was addicted. You were my 20s. You watched me grow up and you were a huge part of that, but when life threw me a curve ball a couple of years back everything changed. Everything changed, except for you. So, when i left you in 2009, I was terrified. It was without doubt the most difficult decision that I have ever made. I had become so co-dependent and i was terrified that i no longer knew who i was. I had suddenly been forced to change very quickly. I had other priorities and you didn't understand. You didn't even try. I withdrew and when you made no attempt to come and get me, i gave up.

And so i left.

I went west, not knowing what to expect. I just had to get you out of my head. I couldn't see how the new me would fit into you, into us. And so, I met Portland. Friends urged me to go and I found a new life. I didn't expect to feel something so soon but we became friends. Things were different. It was slower. I didn't feel rushed into anything. I could hear myself think for the first time in a long time about something other than working out, seeing you and auditioning. Portland healed me. I felt so understood and not constantly overshadowed. I felt like an individual - no longer one of many. Can you imagine what that feels like? Of course you can - when have you ever been in someone's shadow?

Of course I would still think of you and my heart would hurt. We both know that I wasn't your first and you were never exclusively mine, but it still stung when i saw you with friends of mine or in pictures or heard perfect strangers describe what they had done with you. (Sing, Sing, till 4am, really?)

I refused to be jealous because i knew that you had always been a free spirit, but i guess i was just another stupid, blinkered one of many, thinking that I could be the one. The one to conquer you. There were times, you know, when I just really thought we would make it. But there were many other nights when i would sob over feeling utterly inadequate around you, and I wanted to leave. And then you would show me what I was capable of. Thank you for that.

My time in Portland went quickly. We seemed a distant memory and I began to question if i had left too soon? What on earth had I done? Did i just walk out on the love of my life? So, I talked to Portland and i felt listened to. Really listened to. But i just couldn't get you out of my head. There was always you. Everywhere i turned i saw you. I had friends that told me they had seen you. The photos, the stories. It hurt. Seeing other people do what we did. I wanted to scream at them, that I heart New York and they didn't even know what they were talking about. I had earned you. Seven years of you must have meant something.

So i came back. I had to know. Had to know if you were the one. God, I wanted it to work. I wanted you to see me as all grown up and embrace me and show me that you missed me that you would change. That you would finally adapt and meet me half way. I was a fool. I knew as soon as I stepped off the C train that nothing had changed.

It took 6 months for me to be sure. Totally sure and yet, even now, i know you'll always be a part of me. I'm okay with that. I'm sure this time. You are my heart. It's always going to be hard to hear of you and see you with others, but I'm excited for the future. For us both. Portland is right for me and i know that this new friendship has all the makings of a beautiful, long love affair. It's, well, it's just different. But so right. It's right for me now.

I'm boarding now but just wanted you to know that I didn't give up on us, I just saw that we had grown apart. I heart you, NY. Always.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Caught Red Handed

Q: Is it ever ok to lie to your child?
A: Yes, when she walks in and sees you extracting a tampon.

And so it went something like this. There i was, just home from work, needing to pee so badly that my back teeth were floating. Ran in, kissed Olive, announced I just needed to wee and scuttled off. Anyway, I was literally hemorrhaging and i knew I had a limited amount of time to make the change. I was thankfully wearing tights but knew the sight was going to pretty grim upon wiggling them down. Down came the knickers, and then as though in slow motion, thumb met finger and went in for the kill. So, there I am, hovering over the toilet seat. And at this point, i suspect some people can picture the scene, others are scarred at the thought, but a few more perhaps find this unimaginable because they themselves adopt the sit down pose upon extraction. For me, just like opening my mouth when applying mascara, i stand there legs akimbo and pull. It's a stealth operation, because if you are not quick, a swing in the wrong direction can have you grabbing a flannel and mopping the floor. Dear lord, i am making myself sound like i'm some 16th century wench who empties her chamber pot from the window.

Fact: being a woman is not glamorous.

Anyway, so there i am doing a semi squat, knees bent, tights hinged mid thigh, bright yellow thong resting slightly higher. Pencil skirt hitched up to my waist and just as I am breathing a sigh of relief that i didn't go through onto my skirt, sodden tampon swinging in the wind... in walks Olive.

Now, I've had some doozies in my life. At about 23, I vomited in the middle of a subway platform and when viewed with disgust by fellow rush hour passengers, i looked up with yesterday's mascara in my brows and pretended that it was morning sickness. I think it was the clear liquid puke that stank of vodka that gave me away.

Regardless, that was then. This was now and here I was. Caught red handed.

She came, she saw, she whimpered.
"Momma" she said and began to cry.

I drop it in the loo at this point.

"Momma got owie" , she said. Insert terrified two year old face at this point.

"Oh no, it's just a red poop". I say. This is what you call, thinking on your feet.

"Red poo poo", she repeats, - even more startled look, tears, arms outstretched.

I sit on toilet seat.

And now, i think, "Oh crap, i can't say a red poop. We are about to start potty training, I can't have her think that is normal".

And so logic took me to a better place...honesty? Nope, not even close!

"Oh darling, it's okay, it's just a red crayon"

Relief in toddler's face.

"Crayon? I wanna color."

"Okay, we can color - how about go and get the colors and mummy will come in in a minute and we can color."

"Ok" Olive starts to leave. I am a genius.

Faster than a speeding bullet, I pluck a fresh tampon from the cupboard, rip the wrapper with my teeth...

And then, re-entry - for Olive...

Upon, seeing pink plastic applicator - "I wanna color, " she says.

"Ok - me too - let mummy just do this"

"Mummy color?"

"Yes, mummy just needs to put this color in and we can go in the other room"

"Mummy color?"

"Yep, go on, go in the other room, I'll be right in." I am starting to make a shooing action.

"I wanna color"

(about here i think: ohgodijustcamehomefromworkiamsotiredijustwanttopullonmypyjamas)

"OK - Mummy, has a color" Here, all logic disappears out the fan extractor and I actually hand the fresh tampon applicator to Olive. It's a Playtex pink, scented one, so somehow this seemed better.

(I know...okay, i know)

"Red poop?" she said.

"No, Olive. (and this is the real kicker). Mummy colors every once in a while and sometimes she keeps a color tucked away. Ok?"

"Ok" This she understands and produces a smile. I am a genius.

Smiling - "Ok, give mummy the color and you go out."

"I wanna color"


And then in a break with tradition, and because i just couldn't go any further with this whole Crayola episode, I took the crayon from her hand muttering something about safety and sat on the loo and in a first time move, I performed the seated one handed underhand insert and no doubt scarred my daughter for life. We walked out holding freshly washed hands and colored for all of 5 seconds before we went on to playing musical statues.

Next day at bath time? I'm just sitting on the lid of the toilet while she lies on her tummy, discreetly drinking the soap water hoping i won't see...but I do and when I say, "Olivia, No", she turns and upon seeing me on the loo, she asks if she can color?"

And that's the truth. Period.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Breeding Contempt

When I was sixteen I fell in love for the first time. I remember being on a coach for 20 hours returning from a school ski trip to Austria and can see myself nervously sat next to the boy that had stolen my heart. I picture us sharing earphones, listening to East 17 and my heart is pounding so hard in my chest because I'm hoping that when everyone falls asleep and they turn the lights off, we will kiss. When it happens, I never want it to end. I would constantly replay that moment in my mind for the next three years of our relationship and it never failed to make me blush. I was 16 and everything was raging; my hormones, my fight for independence, my complete inability to focus on anything but the thought of us being alone together again. Of course nobody understood. I remember being completely fearless in love. Why not? I'd never had my heart broken before. I had no thought that this would ever end. I can honestly say that I have still not experienced pain as sharp as I did in the summer of 1998 when my first love called time on our relationship. I hope I never do.

Some 10 years later, I became pregnant and spent the 9 months getting to know myself again. I had to. I don't know where I had lost that connection but I wound up being present with myself for the first time in years. I was my own best friend and yes, I am fully aware how pretentious this sounds. For me, being pregnant was without doubt my most lonely time to date. Not because my husband wasn't the most loving and supportive man on earth. Not even close. The pregnancy was unexpected and it took a wealth of soul searching to get to the joy I eventually experienced. I found the realization that life was going to change forever utterly overwhelming. Receiving that first lesson post discovering your pregnancy is one you never stop learning - that it's not about you anymore. We graciously and unwittingly take 2nd or 3rd or 4th place. Doesn't mean it is easy or without sacrifice.

With that said - the thought of being a hormonal 16 year, teetering on the cusp of independence and then discovering the unfathomable responsibility and hormonal insanity that accompanies pregnancy sounds not only terrifying but quite unimaginable.

This week a (dreadful) woman called Kim Kardashian suggested that a TV show called Teen Mom was to blame for a rise in teen pregnancy by glamorising the experience. I found this claim absurd. Watching a young girl repeatedly vomit, go through labor unsupported and juggle night time feedings with schoolwork is not glamorous television. We see young girls robbed of more than their figure and social life. They should be making mix tapes (okay, okay), mooning over boys and running out the door without a second thought - that's what being 16 is all about. Yes, the girls get paid for their TV appearance but I suspect they will pay a much dearer price than their 15 minutes of fame brings them. Witnessing the most punishing emotional journey a woman gets to have experienced by a young girl is far from appealing.

Plus, last time i watched Celebrity Rehab, i didn't rush out and snort my weight in coke.

I wasn't a teen mom but I was a loved up, sexually active teenager. There comes the realization that a lot of contraception and a little bit of luck is all that separates the two.