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Archive for June, 2009

After 23 hours of fear, anxiety, boredom, sweating, puking and searing pain (and that was WITH the epidural), I had had enough.

To hell with the delivery. I ordered everyone to stop what they were doing – I was going to remain pregnant for the rest of my life.

It seemed so logical at the time. I even went so far as to envision the size of my stomach when my child was about four years old.

Thankfully, no one paid any mind to my delirious rants. But my husband instructed me to look down – the baby’s head was out – we needed just one more push. My husband held my hand as I looked at my baby – the little person I’d imagined for the last nine months. My baby and I looked at each other and we both screamed loudly at the sight.

(Later, my sister-in-law pointed out that he must have been a “sunnyside up” baby – most babies come out face down. Perhaps that is one reason why bringing him into this world was so challenging…)

It had been a very tough day, this day I was going to meet my son for the first time. The day that I would become a mother. The day my husband would become a father. It was a birthday for all of us.

Yes, I remember the stress, the pain, the puking. Yes it was rough. But my most enduring memory of that day is from after my son was born, after I got to hold him and felt a rush of love that was utterly powerful, after the doctor held up the umbilical cord to show me a loose knot that could easily have killed him. (We are truly lucky – that knot could have tightened, could have cut off the oxygen, but it didn’t. Angels watched over us that day, I believe!)

What I remember most is watching my husband hold his baby for the very first time. He looked straight into Aidan’s eyes and started talking to him. Not sure what was said. But the gaze was powerful enough. My husband stared intently and lovingly at his baby and welcomed him to the family.

Certainly parenthood isn’t easy. I’m lucky to share the job with someone who is a great dad. He’s not perfect. But he’s there for his kids. He’s there for me. He shows up to the games, the p/t conferences, he’s there with hugs and he’s there with discipline too.

He’s also there with an apology if he feels he’s made a mistake.

Father’s Day was last weekend – I had wanted to post this prior to the day we set aside to celebrate the Dads – but we’ve been busy – busy with all the things that come with having children and working. So this is a belated tribute to the father of my children. Happy Father’s Day to all of us! Especially to my hubby….

I married someone I loved and discovered later that he’s also a really great dad.

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An elegy to marriage, a reflection on aging in America, a tribute to the spirit of adventure that can be found within a small yet sturdy home. That’s the surprising story of Up – a story about how the adventures of an old man and a young Wilderness Scout teach them that “there’s no place like home.”

The movie opens with a newsreel account of a world explorer – a tribute to one of the great films of American cinema – Citizen Kane. Kane is a movie about the adventures in politics and business and scandal that a boy can have when he grows up. Up is about the adventures that happen when boy grows up to lead an “ordinary” life.

In Up, the newsreel focuses on the life of the explorer, Charles Muntz, once lauded for his work, but who has now flown off in disgrace in his blimp, The Spirit of Adventure. A young boy watching the film, Carl Fredrickson, yearns for the big adventures that Muntz has experienced, but grows up instead to fall in love and marry an adventurous girl named Ellie.

In a brief, wordless montage, we see the story of Carl’s marriage to Ellie unfold – for me as a parent, it was a shock to see the topics of marriage, infertility, aging and death open a children’s story like this.

When we get to the meat of the story – when Carl’s life intersects with that of Russell, an eager eight-year-old who desperately wants to help an elderly person to earn his “helping the elderly” scout badge – Carl is a very old man, a widower, whose life has closed in on him, much as the city has closed in around his house.

Carl sends Russell off to “help” by having him search for an imaginary bird, then soars away in his little house, held aloft by hundreds of balloons. Russell is an unexpected stowaway on the journey – he’s come back to give Carl a report on the bird he cannot find – and the old man and boy must learn – as we all must learn – to work together and to trust one another to achieve their goals.

In that there is an unmoored house, a terrible storm and the discovery of an enchanting yet dangerous world, there are reminders of another classic film – The Wizard of Oz. And in the end, Carl and Russell discover that the Spirit of Adventure can be found in the most ordinary of places – home.

Carl realizes the great adventure of his life was his marriage to Ellie – the discoveries, the joys, the sorrows that make up such a relationship were the adventures that sustained him throughout his life. Ellie shared all those adventures with him and in her absence, Carl starts to create a connection with the little boy who flew off to Paradise Falls with him. And when Russell gets his merit badge for helping the elderly, it is not Russell’s father (an absentee father more focused on his career than his child), who is there to pin it on Russell’s award belt. It is Carl.

The story of Russell and Carl shows us, as life often shows us, that family is less about blood bonds as it is about who we spend time with. And for most people today, the great adventures of life occur with those we love – not in their absence….

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Watching TV with my kids this morning, I noticed my son fiddling with the battery cover on the remote. So, being the pre-caffeinated mom that I was, I crankily admonished him to stop, STAT! Or else we’d lose the battery cover and life as we know it would be done.

We’d have to get up to change the channel.

Now since I’m an “older mom,” I remember when we had only five TV stations to entertain us. I remember the days before the remote made our lives that much easier – I remember when we actually had to get off the couch to change the channel!

We hardly ever did that – we hardly EVER got up when watching TV except to go to the bathroom – advertisers had our full attention in those days….

(Thus, ad campaigns became deeply embedded in our psyche – My baloney has a first name, it’s O-S-C-A-R… Sing along with me, if you can!)

This morning, I launched into a description of my life with just five TV channels and no remote, culminating in my piece de resistance – the memory of being in Ireland way back as a girl, visiting my grandparents, back in the days when Ireland offered just a few hours of TV every day.

THAT got my son’s attention. The idea that a TV would have nothing by white noise for most of the day seemed astonishing. He stopped watching TV for a brief second to look at me and laugh brightly at such a notion.

Then TV absorbed him once again.

I may hide the remote, one of these days, just so he can live through an experience of “the olden days…”

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And yes, since this is June and we are only mid-way through 2009, this is a wrap-up of the school year.

It was a great one, this year. And the end of it leaves me a little sad. Last year (2007 – 2008) was not so great for one of my children. The teacher was absent so many times, she would have been declared a truant, had she been a student herself. The endless parade of substitutes (all different from the last) made a tough year almost impossible.

This year was different. This year, all three of my children had teachers who loved doing what they were doing. They showed up. They cared. They let me prattle on with my worries and my concerns. They created an environment that allowed my children to flourish.

And they saw promise in all the children they taught.

We live in a world where people in the financial community have turned “bonus” into a debacle – who insist that there’s no reason to work at a place if you can’t make astronomical sums of money, regardless if you succeed or fail.

Teachers – good teachers, that is – show how nonsensical the Wall Street way really is. Teachers make okay money – not great – not awful. When they do their job well, however, it has a benefit that lasts for a lifetime.

My children received a golden bonus this year for sure – they all had wonderful teachers who were passionate about their work and their students. A great teacher is a priceless gift to students – something no “bonus” or amount of money can quantify.

And so I end this year full of appreciation for a job very well done by our teachers – and a little sad to say good-by to people who’ve made such a positive difference in the lives of my children.

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