Monday, June 27, 2011

Mama's Day Off. (There IS a downtown.)

Lily had her first sleep over, ever, last weekend and I think it was a remarkable experience for us both. I was so overwhelmed with the prospect of an unscheduled day I was almost paralyzed with the freedom it promised. And nervous about how it would go. For both of us. But we prepped gently during the weeks before, and then...
Off she went.
It didn't help that she was beyond sweet and well behaved and awesome on Saturday morning before her pickup. But it did feel good to hand her off in good form.

My first day/night without my girl, and while I was needy for updates, ever wondering how she was doing, I did manage to indulge myself with some alone time.

Did I say remarkable?

I read, in the sun, and slowly sipped ice coffee while doing so.
I headed down to a favorite neighborhood and revisited it like a tourist just returning to NYC after a long hiatus. I treated myself to a long, hedonistic lunch and cold beer with lime at an old haunt from my pre-parenting days - and leisurely read and ate and drank to the vibes of soul and Latin beats - a NYC soundtrack that I hadn't enjoyed in a very, very long time.

I wandered streets aimlessly, visited a crafty bazaar, treated myself to funky jewelry and never glanced at a clock.

I did think of Lily throughout, and checked my phone regularly for updates and emergency calls. But I love to think about her, she is an instant upper even when not physically by my side. The calls never came and the updates told me she was fine at her Granny's so I did manage to


It was almost indescribable.
An afternoon with no constraints or obligations.

I comforted myself with the thought that this could be considered Alan's shift. He would have given me some afternoons off to regroup and recharge - so that's what I tried to do and it eased the guilt tremendously.

Lily could never be a burden. She is my greatest joy.
But I now understand even more fully what a parent means when they say "I need to take care of myself so I can be a better parent".

I am now a better parent.
But I'll take more sleep-overs too.

I want to be even better.

I went to a movie.
I watched TV in bed.
I awoke automatically at 6:44am but was able to get myself back to sleep until 8:59.
Not bad for a novice.
And when I was up I had my morning coffee on the roof again, and recharged some more in the sun.

And my girl? She visited her Granny's nail salon (no polish yet), went swimming with BebeO, dined outdoors, climbed out of her travel crib numerous times, fell asleep in bed alongside her Granny, played in her tent, scratched her ankle, went successfully (when she was in the mood) on the potty, went to their playground and

I guess some things are a tradeoff...

Fair enough.

And as my friend told me in anticipation of this event, "she will never look so delicious as when she returns".


I couldn't get enough of her.

I hugged her and kissed her and hugged her and kissed her and off we went to swimming class where she clung to me a bit more fiercely than usual.
Felt good.

So so good.

Monday, June 20, 2011

I Love This Child.

The weekend came and left us, relatively unscathed. Lily happily marched through the days to her usual independent drum and I was, as always, relieved to see her living with abandon with no visible remorse for what she doesn't have. It is comforting and difficult, for me, to observe. I am overjoyed that her sunny disposition, thus far, shows no mark of loss - and while she recognizes the difference in our family composition - she doesn't yet seem pained and envious of what many other children have.
But she loves the dads.
Talks about them frequently.
Casually, as if we might meet them for a beer.
And though I brace myself for a deeper recognition to pierce her daily life more pointedly, for now, I find solace in her contentment.

But this weekend I was grateful, sad, and resentful.
Saturday morning she expertly clambered out of her crib, as I watched, eyes half open - with curiosity and concern. She did it very skillfully, teetering a bit on the rail before landing on the other side. And later we went to a barbecue where I sat for all of six minutes and spent the rest of the time ( I mean, all of it)chasing her around and pleading with her to leave the kids' rooms inside, so I could be outside with grownups. At one point I left her for a few minutes under what I thought was the watchful eyes of a friend only to hear her yelling for me gleefully from an undisclosed location. After a brief Marco Polo exchange I traced her to the neighbors yard.

Hi Mama!!!

There she was.
On her own.

Heart in mouth.
All was fine.

But those are the moments when I am insensitively reminded - shit.
I am really

And -

Can't get a moment of mind-at-rest.
Not sure why I bothered with the party.
I was hardly able to talk to anyone except an ex.

And Rapture.
What's with that?!!

Come onnnnnnnn.
Please Alan, can you do something about that?!
I finally get to a few social engagements and they're who I'm stuck exchanging niceties with?

Twice now that's happened.

It's annoying.

In retrospect I guess... thank God for Lily and her wanderlust.

The car rides were nice.

But Lily the Exploradora is a handful. Life with her is exciting and draining and it would have been nice to say
Babe. Can you watch her for a few minutes?
And then on Sunday in swimming class when one mom turned to me amid splashes and water songs to tell me how proud her daughter's dad was watching from the edge, I wished I could have said the same.
And then we would have turned to wave.

Instead, I smiled.
Focused on our mermaid, who had just gone underwater TWICE.

Look at meeee!!!
She would have shouted.

And Alan would have waved and gotten a towel ready for her.

Monday, June 13, 2011

And Again...

Last fall I wrote a post, Live Through This (you can click on it for a refresher) and did a follow up as well Live Through This Part II and after reading the Sunday Times (at least part of it...) I thought it might be a helpful revisit for some. Regardless, there was an article "What To Say To Someone Who's Sick" in the Fashion and Style section.


That is, that it was in the Fashion and Style section.

But it reiterates the reality of what it's like to be on the receiving end in grim situations, and offers helpful perspective on what words and actions prove to be the most genuine and helpful. Worth reading, as it could be/will be useful to all of us, now or sometime later in life. Since Alan passed away I have met others enduring similar challenges, and I too, still struggle with what to say and how to say it. Difficult situations will always be awkward, sad and challenging - but I feel a lot better when I acknowledge the current reality of the situation and acknowledge the reality of the circumstances. You don't have to be a downer, nor doom and gloom prophet, but if you can just be there with them and follow their lead on whatever seems to brighten their moment, you'll do just fine. Always remember that however hard it is for you, it's a hundred times more difficult for them. Remember that before this person was ill and perhaps throughout it, they had and still have other interests, a job, passions, aspirations. So conversation along those lines - whatever inspirations once filled their hours - that diverts from the seriousness of one's situation is welcome.
Yes, even gossip, as the article's author shared.
Good stuff.

It brings them back.
Illuminates that they're very much alive.

I will never forget someone very very very dear to me, while fighting cancer, saying (with humor that I'll always admire) "People look at me like I'm a dead man!".
And I got it.
Because when we hear such grave diagnosis, we can't help but imagine the worst outcome and we fast forward unnecessarily to the end we fear most.
Doesn't help the afflicted.
So do your best, while avoiding lies and phoney platitudes, to remain in the present and to focus on where one is in the moment. There are happy outcomes, miraculous recoveries, returns to good health. It is a delicate balance, I know, but yesterday's article and others' experiences can act as helpful guides to get you through very difficult times.

Lastly, the author's section on "What Can I Do to Help", couldn't be more true. So take some cues and pass the info on. If you really want to help,and can follow through with it, start a blog or online calendar with family and friends and sign them up to do everything we usually take for granted. And insist that they do just those tasks; ie., don't linger for coffee or tea or a meal with whomever you're helping as they'll end up feeling pressured to be company and host. And they'll end up with dishes and more fatigue. And unnecessary feelings of guilt or embarrassment or vulnerability.

A tall order, yes.
But you'll be appreciated for your support, attentiveness and strength.
And most importantly, love.

And everyone will be emotionally stronger because of it.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Momentary Escape Needed.

I love my daughter but tonight I do not like her.
I came home with a headache and my sweet child came home happily high from her music class only to come crashing down in temperament ten minutes later. Oh, said her awesome nanny... By the way she didn't nap today.
Warning One.
Then she whips out a bag of new hand-me-down trinkets from bigger girls she knows.
Warning Two.
It is filled with easy to break and lose toys and did contain a barbie which I hid the second I discovered she had left it behind before heading off to music class.
No barbies for many years for my girl. And now I have the challenge of somehow extracting the clothes that remain for barbie in precious new hand-me-down bag.
Lily forgets nothing so the clothes will never escape our lives even if there is no buxom plastic long legged creature to model them. And missing barbie will haunt us too no doubt.
And her Big Girl Panties are off.
Warning Three.
No interest in the potty this evening, nor diapers or anything else.
Headache more prominent.
Battle to get her into the tub. Three negotiations to get her to sit. One concession to get out of the tub to use the little potty, no big potty, no little potty, no big potty.
She went.
Fleeting moment of happy-joy -feelin-alright-whoopin-it-up for mother and child.
Wondering if I have any Tylenol. Or anti-kryptonite antidote.
Back in tub, good groove going in the water, mom feelin ok.
Out of the tub and bedtime story go nicely. I thought we were OK.
Crib proved to be unwanted. Screams, moans, tears, I want chewy (frozen teething thingy), I don't want chewy, no blankettttt, yes blanketttt... More tears.
I closed the door and turned on kitchen sink to drown out noise.
Dishes never so much fun.
Sink off, I hear chewy hurled out of crib. Then cries - I want chewwwwwwy!!!!!
More cries.
Crying stops, transition to singing and clapping.
Then a few conversational yells - Mom! MOM!
Oops. Jinx. More singing.
She is cute.
But I am tired. Mono style tired. It is still light out and all I want to do is sleep.
Sleeping Beauty Style Sleep.
I'll take the prince wake up too.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Summer is here.
There is so much about it that I love and look forward to, though its arrival seems to have converged with so much other...

Steamy heat in NYC brings everyone out of hibernation. Back we go the the parks, to scurry under sprinklers, shed our layers, relish in the outdoors, sneeze among the trees. All good things. But this weekend, as the indoor isolation thawed, families were everywhere - all on their outings together. Granted, I saw a lot of dad's on the periphery of the sandbox, glued to their cell phones, wishing they were golfing (as one friend aptly put it) but none the less, they were there.
And it's hard to see.
And Father's Day is fast approaching.
And we had a picnic with dear friends where Lily couldn't get enough of her courtesy Uncle Miles - chasing him up and down hills, watching him throw a frisbee, "Miiiiiillllles!! Miiiiiiiiiiles!!", holding onto his finger in the stroller - just like she'd do with her dad.
And this time almost three years ago we were in the hospital desperate for answers, and when one finally came, it was the one no one ever ever ever wants to hear.
And we scattered Alan's dad's ashes this weekend. In a beautiful place.
Alan wasn't there.
And Lily is wearing "big girl panties". Day three.
And learning how to pump her legs on the swings.
And she just climbed the round metal ladder arch all by herself at the playground.
And I just attended her soon-to-be pre-school, her first real school, at a meet and greet.
I think everyone was married. One man asked me if my husband was there. I cheerily chirped "No, I'm widowed". I tried to keep it light. So light that I'm not even sure the words registered to him. Without skipping a beat he told me where his wife was in the room.
Good to know.
There were lots of single parents there, but I think their spouses were all at work.

That's how the world looks to me.

The island of Lily and Sus.

And yet we spent many lovely moments this weekend with our own family and dear friends. But as my therapist reminded me, it doesn't take the loss away.

It's always there.

Thank god for beautiful and loving distraction. Our most caring friends and family.

And sunny days.

While dining at a friend's house on Monday - as Lily and I hung out at the potty - I could hear them put some music on. Seconds later, strains of Mona Lisa and Madhatters, an Alan favorite, wafted into the bathroom. And there we were, me and our girl, smiling at each other, marveling at Lily's "achievements".
And happy we had new good friends in the other room.
The words rang true.

I thank the Lord for the people I have found.

Grateful for such people.
And Lily is just like the mandolin.

Sprinkles beauty over the sadness.