Saturday, April 28, 2012

Will it ever end?

There's something magical about nighttime parenting.  Something elemental and bare bones about it, when it's the middle of the night, and your child is sick.  When the bed is covered in vomit, and the baby is sobbing in confusion and misery and the only thing to do, the only thing to do is be the mom, in the best and most real sense.

It was two thirty in the morning, and Day Six (or is it Seven?) of one of my kids dealing with the stomach flu.  I've scrubbed down the car seat more times than I can count, washed so much laundry that I legitimately fear I'll never catch up again.  I've got mixing bowls strategically placed all over the house, just in case the urge to throw up hits and they can't get to the potty quick enough.  I've only actually been puked on a couple of times, and  have grown inordinately proud of my five year old's ability to run for a bucket.  But my baby, my tiny little almost two year old - she doesn't know to reach for a bucket, and while she's incredibly verbal, she didn't have the words to tell me before she threw up all over the bed.  All over me.  All over her.

After a few minutes when she sobbed and retched and I rubbed her back and tried hard to keep it from getting on the king size comforter (the one too big to wash in my machine), it was over.  I stripped us both, grabbing my husband's t-shirt and some old sweats for me, and carrying her into the living room.  I riffled thru the clean laundry basket for new jammies for her, and settled down on the couch in the dark living room.  She was still whimpering, half asleep, horrified and confused.  I snuggled her down in a blanket and nursed her.  Grateful, because at two years old, she's still nursing and I knew that it would calm her down and she'd be able to keep breastmilk down even if she couldn't keep down the chicken and broccoli I'd fed her for dinner.

It was just the two of us.  The birds were starting to sing outside, and the room was dark enough so I couldn't see the clutter of toys and books on the floor.  I was able to just be for a while.  To hold my baby girl when she was sick, when the only thing in the world that would make her world right was to be right here, in my arms, with her long eyelashes casting shadows on her cheek and her big, big eyes looking up at me.  That, right there, that moment, that's what makes me grateful for the middle of the night puke-fests of parenting.  Sure, it's messy and today, I can't drink enough coffee to keep my eyes all the way open - but I know that last night is a night that I'll remember when she's five years old and tells me I'm the worst mother in the world, and when she's nine and rolling her eyes at me when she thinks I'm not looking.  I'll remember when it was just she and I, a dark night, with birds chirping and big, big eyes gazing up at me.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Day 6 for Sam, Day 3 for Julie

And the puking continues...

In other news - at least the weekend is here.  Not that I'll be doing much of anything, since kids are puking, but it's got to be almost over, right?

The thing is, about five minutes before and after puking, the kids are actually sick.  They moan, they sit still, they aren't feeling good.  The rest of the time, they're running around like lunatics, totally happy and completely not sick.  But I can't go anywhere or do anything, can't send them to school or go grocery shopping or go visit  my mother or go to the library - because technically, they're sick.

So I'll be grateful for the little things.  Like a lot of buckets, and kids who mostly hit the buckets when they puke.  For Jessie who only threw up that one time.  For not having to worry about dehydration and actual illness, because other than the puking, these are healthy, happy kids. For not coming down with it myself.

All these are good.

But if you're looking for me, I'll be home.  Here.  Emptying buckets and doing laundry.  Like I have been for six days now.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

ongoing stomach bug saga

Julie puked up everything yesterday. I didn't really make the connection until she threw up all over the couch last night, because apparently, I'm not all that quick - either that, or I'm so used to vomit, I just don't pick up on any kind of pattern to it anymore. She threw up in the car on the way home from dropping off the kids in the morning, then threw up on the way home from picking up the girl. On the upside - her car seat is SUPER clean, having been scrubbed thoroughly twice in one day. Finishing up with a massive throwing up extravaganza all over the couch. She then woke up at midnight and threw up the remainder of the beans/hot dogs (yum). So I'm not feeding her anymore - she can hold down breastmilk, but solid food, not so much. Which is another plug for nursing, at least I know she won't get dehydrated, because she can definitely hold that down. The obvious downside is that it's not a lot of fun to nurse a two year old nonstop when it's her only source of sustenance.

Sam was fine all day, blissful and rambunctious, and then woke up around one thirty or so, and threw up for an hour or so. Good times here at the Cohen household. As per usual, he's bopping around the house, humming a football at Julie, trying to teach her to catch. Julie is doing her best, but the fact that she keeps closing her eyes when the ball comes at her hinders her, I'll be honest. Although it's is a little amusing to realize that she's completely inherited my athletic ability.

I talked to my new best friend Chris, at the doctor's office, and he said it's okay to not bring them in to be seen. Especially because there's NO other symptoms, no fever, they are not dehydrated and really, both the kids are bopping around the house, blissful, active and happy. Except for when they're puking. It just sounds like a stomach bug that'll work it's way out. This is the oddest bug - because there are NO other symptoms, just occasional vomit.

My mommy instincts are reassured by the fact that all of my kids have this, to one degree or another. And it's not debilitating at all - they aren't feeling sick, aren't dehydrated, etc. Just occasionally, they'll projectile vomit. Irritating, but not that big a deal.

I also think it's lovely that I haven't caught it all. I think it's only fair, given that I had to puke my way thru all three of their pregnancies - I don't have to puke when they get the stomach bug. Not proof of a benevolent diety, exactly. Divine justice, maybe?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Stomach bug

Okay - I admit it, it's a lot of posting lately.  But I'm out of books, and with sick kids, I haven't made it down to the library to get something to read, so I have to write instead :-)

Sam is still throwing up, and Julie threw up for the first time this morning.  For those keeping track, Jessie threw up once, Sunday morning.  Sam threw up all night Saturday night, and then again on Monday morning.  Went to school on Tuesday and threw up twice yesterday afternoon.  The weird thing is that they're fine at all other times.  Holding food down, playing, sleeping well, no fever.  Just occasionally vomiting.  BUT I feel reassured after talking to my mother and realizing that she had the same thing and it lasted for about a week. So we should be almost done.

In other news... we've got a big meeting coming up on Friday to discuss Samilicious Boy and his academic future.  Am just slightly terrified - because they (his teacher - who I LOVE) want him to repeat kindergarten and I don't want him too.  I'm really struggling with this - I feel enormously guilty about the fact that he wasn't emotionally/academically prepared for kindergarten, because really, who else can you blame?  I thought I was doing the right thing (which is kind of what bothers me the most - I really thought about it before I decided to pull him out of preschool, and I consciously didn't push academics on him - I wanted him to be able to play and create and imagine stuff, figured he'd have all the time in the world to learn how to read and add).  And as guilty as I feel, I still think that I might have done the right  thing.

Sam just is.  He came into the world with separation anxiety, and I did my best.  Maybe I should have forced him earlier to learn how to be on his own, but I did my best.  Bottom line (can you tell I'm talking myself into this?), I did the best I could with the information I had at the time.  Not forcing him to be without me, not sending him to preschool when it made him anxious and stressed, giving him time to play and experiment and do what he wanted seemed like the best decision.  And he's going to be fine - he's a bright, brilliant, sensitive and kind kid, who's going to learn and grow on his terms.  He might not be a rock star, academically, in kindergarten.  I think ALL the other kids have had at least an extra year of preschool that he missed- plus we had the whole housing fiasco in November/December.  If you factor in the first couple of months, he was just trying to figure out that he was safe without me there, and then he was slammed with is entire home life/stability getting ripped up - he didn't really start learning until January.  But he's made huge advancements in the past few months, and I think he'll thrive in first grade.

And I also have to come to grips with my own tendency to elevate everything to a high drama situation (Jessie comes by it naturally).  He's not handicapped, there's no cognitive problem there - he's just a little boy who loves his mama and loves his sister and would always rather be home.  This is not really a crisis, not really.  It's just that any sort of indication that there's a problem with my kids (i.e. a problem with my parenting) throws me for a loop.  I feel responsible and want to fix it and make it better.  But really, what I need to do is chill and realize that kids grow on their own timetable - and that's okay.

So I'm chilling.  Relaxing, and being grateful for healthy (although vomiting periodically) HAPPY kids.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I think we all know that mornings are not my best time.  Left to my own devices, I'd sleep until nine or ten, and then not go to bed until after midnight.  But I have kids, and school in the mornings, and thus, I adapt.  Sadly, my children are just like me.  Mornings are rarely fun, and sometimes, they're just miserable.

Today was one such morning.

Sam started crying before he opened his eyes about having to go to school.  Which just fed into all of my anxieties around sending him to school - is it really the best thing to do, should I keep him back, should I push him ahead, should I just give in and homeschool him instead?  I calmed him down, left him with a show in my room and then went to fall apart all over Marc.   I wasn't fully awake, and already thrown into this existential crisis over what kind of life do I want this child to have and why was he so miserable and how can (or should I) fix it.

I powered thru, got him to school, then rushed home to get Julie up and dressed.  Today was the appreciation tea for the parent volunteers, and Jessie was reading her poem so I HAD to go.  But Julie didn't wake  up any more pleasantly than her brother did, and it was a complete battle of wills to get her dressed and out the door.  Never a good feeling than when you have to hold down your child and force clothes on her, and given that I already felt like I was a complete failure as a mother because of Sam, I was fighting tears thru the whole thing.

Maybe I'm just hormonal.  I can't possibly be as bad at this as it seems this morning.  After all, Jessie woke up happily enough.  Got her little self dressed with a minimum of stress, ate breakfast and was sunshiney delightful. And Sam did, in the end, go to school.  Dressed well, ate some breakfast.  Julie is happy NOW, although still wearing her pajama top and mismatched pants.

I just called and made an appointment to discuss Sam with his teacher.  Bottom line, I want him in first grade.  I don't think he'll do any better staying back, the benefits would be washed out by the disadvantages.  He'll hate it, I'm sure, but he'll hate repeating kindergarten too.  I go back and forth with a dizzying regularity on this issue, and it's reaching the point where I need to put it to rest.  My desired outcome would be to push him ahead, put him with the same teacher Jessie had, give him some additional support at home and at school.  Worst case scenario, if first grade is an utter disaster, maybe we can just drop him back to kindergarten.  But I think he'll do better if we don't hold him back.  I feel like either we pull him out of school  entirely or we let him advance with the rest of his peer group.

I'm sure that I'll change my mind again, but that's where I'm leaning towards right now.

I hate this.

Monday, April 23, 2012


My kids are sick. Vomit everywhere, and it’s one of those situations that make me profoundly grateful to have a partner. Being raised by a single parent, I’m achingly aware of how hard it is to parent alone, and consistently surprised, even after nine years of raising children together, how very NICE it is to have a buddy. Someone to clean the puke when you’re cleaning the kids. Someone to disinfect the floor when you’re changing a sleepy, sobbing, sick girl. Someone to bring you coffee when the sick child is asleep on top of you. 

Marriage is made up of many things. There’s a sense of friendship, genuine camaraderie. My husband is really a fun guy to be around, his mind is fast and his sense of humor is infectious. There’s a shared intellectual bend to us – we both are geared more intellectually, we like to read and debate and think – we follow politics and argue religious theory for fun. There’s a sense of passion, a physical attraction that’s always there too. But I think the key to our marriage, what makes our marriage better than most, is that we’re on the same team. We have the same goals, we’re walking the same path. We live dramatically different lives, in so many ways. He’s out of the house five days a week, and I’m at home taking care of kids. We are incredibly different in other ways too – he’s much more structured, more organized and a lot goofier than I am. But he’s my best friend, and my partner, and after the past three days of being puked on, I’m incredibly aware of how blessed I am to have him, to be able to share this life, these kids (puke and all) with him. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

the vomit - oh, the vomit

My kids don't throw up.  As a rule.  They just don't.  Colds, sure.  Allergies like you wouldn't believe, the two older ones cough and sneeze their way thru the spring and fall.  But throwing up (with the exception of vomit from excessive coughing and post-nasal drip in the middle of the night) is so rare.   Which is why I'm just not used to this - maybe it it happened more often, I wouldn't feel like I'd been run over with a truck.

Poor Sammy starting complaining of an upset stomach yesterday.  I thought it was just stress, it was the end of April vacation, maybe  there was some anxiety around going back to school.  Plus Glennys was leaving too - that always messes him up.  But no, he really was sick, and starting seriously throwing up around dinner time.  And kept puking, including one notable time when he missed his little bucket he'd been carrying around with him and projectile vomited all over me.  He threw up every couple of hours last night - and I don't think  I really slept at all.   Every time I'd start to doze off, he'd start Jessie woke up around four thirty or five, and threw up all over herself and the bathroom.  Thank goodness for Marc, because at that point, I was so incredibly exhausted that I couldn't face it.  I took care of Jessie and Marc bleached the bathroom.

Sam seems much better this morning.  He's been up for an hour and a half, and is, thus far, keeping down ginger ale.  He's bopping around, playing with Julie and seems to be much better.  Jessica Mary is still sleeping, and I'm in no rush to wake her.  Julianna, thank goodness, seems to be fine.  She's still nursing, and I'm so grateful for that.  Because I know that she either won't get sick at all, or if she does, it'll be so much less intense because I can keep her hydrated so much easier.  She's more likely to be able to tolerate breastmilk than anything else.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Earth Day at the Ecotarium

Friday was Earth Day at the Ecotarium, and I loved it.   I brought my three, plus two extra on the theory that if you're going to the Eco, you should always bring extras.  We bought our first membership to the Ecotarium nine years ago, and it's completely, completely worth it.  With a large family, by the time we've gone twice, the membership has more than paid for itself.   Plus you get in free at a bunch of other museums, like the Childrens Museum and the Science Museum in Boston.

We had just a lovely, lovely day there.  The kids had a blast, playing on the playground, checking out the new games exhibit, and hanging out up in the Mt. Washington exhibit on the first floor.  The Hurricane Tube was a huge hit.  I had packed a picnic lunch, and found a quiet spot in the cafeteria to eat with everyone.  After everyone was done, I nursed Julianna to sleep and laid her in the carriage (which she had refused to ride in while awake) and then was able to just wheel her around following the kids.  We went on the loop trail around the  pond, when I discovered that it's definitely NOT carriage friendly.   So then I was left with a dilemma - we were about a third of the way around, and I had a ten year old, two nine year olds and a five year old.  Should I make them all come back with me, because I can't supervise them or do I trust that they'll trek around the pond and be fine?  I weighed the options, and erred on the side of letting them go.  I was babysitting at ten, and I would be within shouting distance the whole time.

They emerged on the other side, delighted and proud of themselves.  And we timed it perfectly, because Julie woke up just as they came up the path.  We went back inside, wandered around a little more and then headed home.

All in all, an awesome day at the Eco.  The weather was ideal, the kids were perfectly behaved, and Julianna got a great nap.  It was the perfect ending to a really, really great April vacation.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

April Vacation

We spent the whole week busy, busy, busy - and yet I'm having a hard time articulating what we did.  There were baths given, meals cooked, naps taken and playgrounds visited.  We saw cousins and aunts and grandmothers, and mostly spent the entire week outside.

Sam had a tick in his ear.  It had been there overnight, and I just thought it was a little cut.  Today, I tried to touch it and LITTLE LEGS CAME OUT.  I was horrified, obviously, and it was one of those moments when you wish like hell that someone else was here to handle but have to reluctantly admit to yourself that you are the mama and you have to handle it.  Bugs.  I hate bugs.  But I was the grown up, and finally just had to hold him down, kicking and screaming and scrape it out of his ear.  I got the whole thing, and flushed it.  Then Marc came home (a little late in the game, but he was working) and treated it with hydrogen peroxide and then some antibiotic ointment.

Jessie and Sam both have killer allergies, Jessie more so than Sam, but they've both been coughing and sneezing non-stop.  I gave them both some zyrtek this morning, and they are SO much better.  Jessie actually came home after our trip to the park and curled up in bed and slept for three hours.  I don't  know if it was the allergy meds themselves, or just that she finally could breathe enough to sleep.

Julianna Ruth has LOVED having everyone home for the week.  It's her favorite, and she's been so cute.  I mean, she's cute anyway - but now that she's talking, it's just awesome.  She's got this little head of curls, and big, big eyes.  And she's just delighted by everything.  Unless she's not.  There's no middle ground with this kid - she's either passionately thrilled or bitterly upset.  She'd oddly stubborn about clothes, still hates a bath and loves her daddy.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

the perils of interfaith

Not that we're interfaith, technically.  I did convert to Judaism - we're all of the same faith.  BUT - and it's a big but, in my opinion, we are different.  Marc is very devout, especially around keeping kosher for Passover.  And I am not.  At best, I really enjoy the seders (when I can actually participate, which is rare, because I always seem to have a fussy child demanding attention), and I'd be great if we were just incorporating a lot more matzoh into everyone's diet) but following rules is hard for me.  Especially when the rules don't make sense to me.

I'm not a rule breaker by nature.  I'm not a rebel in most regards, but I don't like doing something just because. And having to keep kosher for Passover isn't something I'd ever choose to do on my own.  Marc does, but I don't mind that.  Marc's an adult, and I respect his spiritual beliefs.  As I know he respects mine.  The hard part comes with the kids.

There are certainly ways in which my childhood differs dramatically from that of my children.  And some of those ways are wonderful - I love that my kids have two loving committed parents.  And they have a much stronger religious identity than I did at that age.  I was always sort of spiritually inclined, but we were haphazardly Catholic, with a lot of pagan, new age stuff mixed in.  I belonged to the Church of Melissa - and it worked for me.  My mother is very spiritual, but I always felt as though my spiritual beliefs were mine - they were self-directed.  She encouraged me to ask questions, to think and read and make up my own mind. My kids are growing up Jewish - and that's completely, completely different.

For some, converting to Judaism is like coming home.  It's a framework for belief, it's a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves.  For me, it was different.  I already had a belief system, I had already kind of figured out for myself how I thought the universe worked, and I'm good with it.  Judaism is a good fit for me, the belief in one deity, the immediate connection to the Divine, the obligation to make the world a better place, the sense of wanting to elevate common, every day things to a sacred level.  I love Judaism - but I don't follow all of the 613 commandments.  I don't even think I'm supposed to - I think that blind adherence to the rules is not admirable.

So what do I do with two (and soon to be three) kids who want to keep kosher for Passover?  How do I honor that, and not cry with sadness and frustration because they are growing up with this vastly different way of looking at things?  How do I not feel alienated and different from my children, and how do I reconcile that in such a way that I can give them what they want and need from me - which is approval and respect and admiration for their own fiercely held beliefs, even when I don't agree with them?

I do it - and I think I do it well.  I say the right things, and because I'm with them all the time, it's really me doing it.   Marc approved hugely of it, and is thrilled that his kids want to do this, and thinks it's vital that we support them - but it's me doing all the meal prep and planning, and packing lunches and dealing with snack requests.  And this was a LONG Passover week for me.  Because Jessie is getting older and more definite about things, and Sam is old enough now to understand and want to do it too.

I'll keep doing it, because they need that.  They need my support and approval - but I'm profoundly grateful that Passover is over.

Friday, April 13, 2012

My turkey take a bath

This is what Julie has been telling me all morning.  We're having the "Irish Seder" tomorrow night and the only turkey I could find is frozen solid.  So I tossed it into the tub and Julie is flat out delighted by it.  Of course, she's always happy when someone OTHER than her is taking a bath, so I guess it's to be expected.

In other news... all is well in my little world.  House is sort of, kind of clean.  If your standards are low, and fortunately, mine are.  If the dishes are done, and the amount of clean laundry outweighs the amount of dirty, I'm good.  Bonus points if at least one of the major rooms is swept/vacuumed.

No major plans for April vacation... Glennys will be down for the week (a fact that is bringing my children enormous amounts of joy) and I'm just planning a lovely week where I don't have to force anyone to go to school.  Re: school - no decision has been made as to what to do with the boy child.  I don't want him to stay back, I feel like he's socially ready, probably still a little academically behind, but we can work with that.  His main problem is separating from me, and he's getting better.  Argh... I'm not going to rehash this right now - I can feel my mind starting to go in circles again about it.  I'm just taking a wait and see attitude.  It's only April.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Keeping kosher for passover

During Passover, observant Jews aren't supposed to eat bread.  Or pasta.  Or cereal.  And Marc keeps kosher for Passover, and oddly enough, so do my kids.

I love Passover, it's one of my favorite Jewish holidays, but I don't love keeping kosher for Passover.  I really don't like matzoh, which is the staple of our diet this week.  I think part of it is that I don't like being told NOT to do something, and part of it is my own issues around converting to Judaism.  It's critical to me that formally converting to Judaism be an addition to my life, not a subtraction.  And forcing myself to give something up just feels WRONG to me.   I love the Seders, I enjoy a little matzoh with mexican cheese and salsa.  I love me some matzoh ball soup.  But I know that left to my own devices, I'd observe Passover by adding matzoh into my diet, and not by subtracting anything with grain.

But I do it, because (and I'm baffled by this) my kids seem to really enjoy it.  They love the restrictions, they love the specialness of the whole thing.   I honor that - I respect their right to make choices about how observant they want to be.  Without ever forcing the issue, they just seem to really enjoy the restrictions.  If it was a problem, I'd be yanking out the ramen noodles and mac and cheese and cheerios, but they seem delighted about it.
So I'm keeping kosher for Passover.  There's a whole lot of matzoh going on over here these days, Jessie is taking matzoh and peanut butter to school for lunch, Sam is eating matzoh brie like it's going out of style and Julie's go-to snack is matzoh pizza.  Meanwhile, I'm just counting the days until it's over, and making secret plans to sneak out for chinese food by myself.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Parental guilt

I blame myself.  For pretty much all of it.  To be fair, I also give myself credit when things are going well.  When the kids are well behaved, healthy, happy.  But when there are problems - I'm pretty sure it's all my fault.    Case in point, my little Samilicious Boy.  His teacher is recommending that we hold him back for an extra year of kindergarten and I'm horrified.  Can't stop trying to figure out where I messed up, where did I go wrong?  I feel bitterly betrayed by the attachment parenting movement - which assured me over and over again that if I held him when he cried, if I nursed him until he was ready to stop, if I co-slept and loved him and nurtured him - he'd grow into a confident, secure kid.  But I did all of those things, and his teacher wants to hold him back because she fears he's too fragile to handle the pressure of first grade.  How did I manage to screw up so badly?  Why can my five year old not hack it like his friends?

So, you see, I blame myself.  Maybe I did baby him.  That's what my family is going to think.  They told me not to nurse him that long.  But I thought it was the right thing.  I still kind of think that it was, and given that I'm currently still nursing his almost two year old sister with no plans on stopping, I guess I must still think it was.  Because there's a part of me that thinks that kids just are who they are.  And Sam's not fragile, he's just stubborn and determined and incredibly introverted.  He's smart and kind and so, so sweet - and I think he'll do just fine in first grade.

I think yesterday was a bad day, and to base a decision on his future ability to handle first grade on his behavior yesterday exclusively is not the right way to go.  I'm leaning strongly to pushing him ahead.  Academically, he can handle it, socially, he's already advanced so much from where he was eight months ago at the start of the school year.

We'll wait and see.  I googled yesterday - and found nothing really helpful.  It appears as though studies have shown that holding them back a year isn't really that beneficial, and that more and more kids are being "redshirted", and started a year late.  He's vaguely on the young side, he'll graduate at seventeen if we don't hold him back.   But then I also read that retaining them for academic reasons is discouraged, but if a kid is being held back for confidence or school readiness, then that's a kid who would really benefit from the extra year.

I don't know what to do.  And because I don't know - I'm super easily swayed one way or another.  I read one article assuring me that it's not a good idea, and I'm convinced.  I talk to a friend who thinks I should hold him back, give him an extra year, and I waver.  I talked to his Hebrew school teacher who said to push him ahead, but make sure he's got structured activities all summer, I talked to another friend who's also a teacher and she said to push him ahead.  I'm all baffled and confused - leaning towards moving him up, but not fully convinced that it's the right thing.   And either way - I still feel guilty.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Craptastic morning

Okay - so it was a three day weekend.  Four day, as Sam had been home sick last Thursday.  And the weekend was filled with seders and late nights, so he's still somewhat sleep deprived.  So maybe I should have seen it  coming.  But I didn't.

He absolutely lost it this morning at drop off.  Hysterical sobbing, refusing to get out of the van, it was awful.  I made him go - there was no good reason for him not to.  He had gotten a solid eleven hours of sleep last night, he wasn't sick - he needed to go.  But I feel like the worst mother in the world.  He's so little, and why am I teaching him that I'll just drive away when he's sobbing and miserable and desperate for a hug?

I think sometimes that I was scarred by the attachment parenting literature I read so much of.   Too many descriptions of how crying it out is just teaching your infant that you won't be there for them.  He's almost six years old, he's at school with familiar teachers and I'm not abandoning him.   I'm not.  Right?

I know he's fine now.  I know that.  I know that his teacher will hug him and love him and that he needs the time with kids his own age, and with adults that he can trust other than me.  I know that he's grown up so much this year, become so much more confident and happy and self assured.  I know that.  So why can't I get the image of his little sobbing face out of my mind?  Why do I keep reliving it?  I counted to three to get him out of the car, and was totally unsympathetic - any sympathy from me would have made it worse.  So I dragged him out of the car and passed him off to the teacher and then sat in the van and sobbed.  The secretary gestured for me to go, so I drove back home, and called to make sure that he was okay.

He is.  I'm not, but he is.

Parenting doesn't get any easier.  When they get bigger.  I mean, it gets a little less labor intensive - but mentally - it's just as hard.  Harder.  Because their wants are not their needs.  It's not easy to know what's the right thing to do.  And even harder to guess.  Is it right to send him to school?  Is it wrong to shelter him?  Given the choice, Sam would stay home 24/7.   I have to push him out of the nest a little, just to show him that the world is a good place and that he's safe and loved and secure.

I know he's better off at school, I can see the difference in him.  He's voluntarily going to playdates, he's chatting with relatives and enjoying time with other people.  He's exposed to new ideas and new things, and that's awesome for him.  But this morning was horrible, and I feel like the worst mother in the world.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Seders, seders and more seders

This is the Passover of many Seders.  We've had three so far, and I'm weary of plagues and prophets.  Today, we threw Easter into the mix and the kids are gorging themselves on chocolate.  Which, combined with a bedtime last night of eleven-ish, is going to make for an extra fun afternoon :-(

In other news... Julianna has learned to say her name.  She self identifies as Julianna, which is interesting, as all three of my kids have nicknames and the other two always went by those names.  Jessie will tell you her name is Jessica, but that didn't start until she started school, and Sam still self identifies as Sammy.  But Jules is clear that her name is Julianna.  Not Julie.  Or Crabbianna, which is, often, what I call her.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Passover and Easter

Easter is not a big deal to me.  I have a lot more issues in December, because Christmas is such a big holiday and Hanukkah is such a minor Jewish one.  But in the spring - Passover is one of my favorite Jewish holidays and Easter has always been less significant.  I think this year it's particularly difficult to get excited about Easter because of the timing.  Passover starts on Friday night and we've got big Seders on Friday and Saturday and then doing Easter the next day just seems... like overkill.  Like it's too much. Like it's unnecessary.  I dislike it in December too - when Hanukkah and Christmas are too close together.  As someone who celebrates the Jewish  holidays because I'm, you know, Jewish, and the other holidays because I grew up, you know, not Jewish - it's always a struggle to do justice to both.

So why bother with Easter at all?  Good question, and one that I've pondered a couple of times.  Because I am Jewish, and absolutely going to celebrate Hanukkah and Passover.  But there's a part of me that really needs for Judaism to be an addition to my life, and not represent a subtraction.  I want my spirituality to fit into my life, not to represent things that I have to give up and lose.  And it's critical to me that my children know and celebrate their whole heritage - and only half of that heritage is Jewish.

It's tough to explain - because while I'm content and satisfied with my religious choices, and secure in the knowledge that my children are Jewish, that Marc and I are specifically raising a Jewish family and living a Jewish life, I'm also not ashamed of the fact that my family of orgin is mostly Irish Catholic pagan witches.  I like that reality.  I don't want to lose that.  I don't want my kids to feel ashamed that they don't have a Bubbie who makes gefilte fish and chopped liver. I want them to love that they a Grammy and a Dzidzi who decorate for Easter and hide eggs and give them way too much candy every year.

And they do - I know the conflict is more in my head than in theirs.   They're fine with bringing macaroons and chocolate matzoh to the Easter celebrations, and believe firmly that the Easter bunny will drop off baskets here on Sunday morning.  They know they're Jewish, they know they celebrate my family's holidays because one of the tenets (one of the Commandments, really) is to honor your parents, and that's what Mama does.  We celebrate the holidays because it's what my mother wants.  It's what my grandmother would want, if she was still alive.  Not that they celebrate Christian holidays, but that they know, down deep on a level they'd never question, that they are connected to generations past.  That they are part of a larger family - and they are blessed to belong to two extended families.  One that celebrates Passover and one that celebrates Easter.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

I keep sharpie markers in my freezer

And nail clippers under the couch.  I also store scissors in the drawer next to the stove and a hair brush in my knitting bag.  Not necessarily on purpose, more that I've noticed that that is where they've ended up, and make the deliberate choice to keep them there.  The sharpie markers in the freezer - I have actually managed to collect all of them and put them in the freezer after noticing that the yellow one had someone made it in there and still functioned perfectly well.  It strikes me a great storage spot, high enough up so that none of the kids can find it, and easy enough to access if I decide I need it.

My organizational skills are somewhat haphazard.  I feel as though I'm sort of organized, I haven't lost any of the children, and can almost always locate my keys and sunglasses.  I did have to drive the kids to school today barefoot because I couldn't find my shoes, but that's rare.

It drives my husband nuts, the way I keep things organized.  He's the exact opposite of me.  There's very little he keeps track of, but what he does keep track of is always meticulously put back where it belongs.  His dresser drawers are organized to a scary degree, in my opinion, and I think it's a little disturbing to be able to recite from memory exactly where you put the peanut butter.   For me, it's enough that the socks are washed and dried.  In a basket, or in a drawer.  I gave up sorting socks a couple of months ago, and have successfully taught the children that mismatched socks are the preferred choice.  Only boring people match their socks.  At least that's what I tell them.  Jessie is a little less likely to believe it, but even she's flexible enough to wing it.  I don't think Sam even notices.

I know vaguely where almost everything is.  And that's a lot of stuff.  I have three children, two of which are major hoarders, and a ridiculous amount of stuff floats around this house.  I can sort of tell you where most of it is.  Most of the time.  It's not perfect, for example, I'm still not sure where Julie's red hat went.  And Jessie's American Girl had a brush that went missing about two weeks ago, I still can't locate that.

My system isn't perfect.  Case in point, my feet were freaking FREEZING this morning on the drive to school.  But I have to give myself points and credit for keeping track of as much as I do.  Three kids, three outfits, three lunchboxes (yes, I know Julie doesn't need one, but when I tried to convince her of that fact, I lost - now she gets a lunchbox just like the two older kids).  Three coats, three pairs of socks, six shoes.  All of that, and only half a cup of coffee.  That's impressive.

So I'm not going to feel bad anymore about my lack of organization.  Because really, you can't compare being able to keep track of five things the way my husband does (keys, wallet, phone, shoes, and peanut butter) and the fifteen thousand things that I'm sort of keeping track of, a little bit.  And when all else fails, at least I know where the sharpies are.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Eaglefeather and Marigold

Sammy lost his first tooth on Thursday.  And I cried.  Just a little, because it's such a major milestone.  His whole smile is different now, and I can't get used to it.  His tooth had been loose for a while, so we knew it was coming, and as luck would have it, he swallowed it while eating an apple.  It was an occasion of great joy, he was ecstatic, so proud of himself, and only a little freaked out about accidentally swallowing the tooth.

When Jessie lost her first two teeth, it was fairly traumatic.  She had broken her wrist the week before, and had gotten very used to using her mouth as a tool.   She was getting ready for bed, and her shirt got stuck on her wrist, so she grabbed it with her teeth and ripped both her bottom two teeth out.   She came tearing out of her room, hysterically screaming, half naked and dripping blood.  There wasn't time to get misty.  But this time, I was very aware of what a milestone it was, losing the first tooth.  He's not a baby anymore, he hasn't been for a while, and sometimes I still get wistful.  It's not any easier, watching your second baby grow up.  I thought it would be, for some reason.  I don't know why it surprises me.  But I find myself watching him more and more, marveling at how very fast he's grown up.  He still seems so little to me, at times.  But then he'll do something or say something and I'll realize that he's actually so much bigger than he was, and it makes me a little... not sad, just...wistful.

Moving on... Our tooth fairies work a little differently than most families.  Because we're a step family as well, my daughter was very familiar with the workings of the tooth fairy.  And one of my stepdaughters had benefitted hugely by a dark room, and mother and a grandmother who both slipped what they thought was a dollar under her pillow.  When she woke up and found $40, she was delighted - and the expectation was set for Jessie to profit hugely when she lost TWO teeth at once.  Not having $80 to spare - and being honestly a bit thrown off at having to follow someone else's guidance, I quickly made up a story about Marigold.  She was OUR tooth fairy, and she was very smart, and knew that Jessie was very smart as well.  So she only gives out one dollar per tooth, but she also writes a detailed note, and gives a new book with each tooth.  A book, a buck, and a note.

But Marigold was clearly a tooth fairy tailored to Jessica.  Sam was a different child, and required a different tooth fairy.  So now we've got a family of tooth fairies.  Marigold is Jessica's and Sam's is Marigold's younger brother Eaglefeather.   He's not as touchy feely as Marigold, more wise, and all knowing.  It's a different tone in his notes, because Marc writes his notes.  I don't really like giving up the note writing, but (reluctantly) acknowledge that Marc should be able to be a tooth fairy too.  And I can always console myself with trying to come up with a name for Eaglefeather's little sister, because I've got a soon to be two year old who will one day lose her first tooth.   And I just hope that it's as happy an occasion as her older brother's was, and not nearly as bloody and hysteric-inducing as her older sister's.