Friday, February 22, 2013


I was in bed last night thinking about this post, and I was going to get up and type it all out, but I couldn't because horizontal is the new black, and if you know me, you know I'm all about the fashion.

So I'll try to recall all my thoughts now that I'm awake and caffeinated.

My Mom has been weighing heavily on my mind, because as we all know, I'm a worrier.

Oh! And I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, because the other day Eight told me she's "just worried about stuff". I was all, what are you worried about, whether you'll like hot lunch, or if you'll find a way to avoid an emotional meltdown so your electronics won't be taken away? But either way, I don't begrudge her the worry. It may be small to me, but she's small too, so whatever it is must feel big to her. Like mine does to me.

And speaking of big, Ten asked me the other day "Mom, how come Moms like you all have such big butts?".

Let's pause for a moment so you can read that aloud and consider your own, personal feelings, should your firstborn utter those words to you one day. Yeah. Ready to move on? Okay.

On the one hand, it's nice that I'm not alone in my big buttness. On the other hand, too bad for you Moms Like Me out there.

Which takes me back to my Mom. (See? This is how my thoughts are when I'm falling asleep. They sort of roll around my mind like tumbleweed, bumping into other tumbleweed and getting stuck together.)

I've written before about her health issues. She's fragile. The lady has had some shit go down, let me tell you. Back surgery. Neck surgery. Blood clot in the lung. Heart attack. Another back surgery. May have been a hip surgery in there. She's been overmedicated in recovery. She's contracted MRSA. She's been in an induced coma so she could ride out some horrific pneumonia that was discovered late. And she has neuropathy, which basically means you're in pain all the time. Did I mention the breast cancer? Really, that's just like half of it. I can't remember the rest because babies. Also, if you'll remember, I worry just a touch, so there may be some blacking out of details happening.

Suffice it to say nothing is simple anymore. She'll go in for a hangnail and end up spending three weeks fighting an intestinal infection that I can't pronounce. Shit. Going. Down. Chicago tells me that my Mom is like a cat with nine lives, which is really how it feels. We figure she's only on life six or seven now, so we'll get a few more close calls out of her. Exciting.

The latest thrill is that her blood pressure has been unstableable. Is that a word? I'm no writer, but I think it should be a word. It's fun to say and makes me feel better about the fact that she goes from high blood pressure to low blood pressure several times a day. Because right now, it's about ME feeling better, obviously.

(What will make HER feel better about the fact that I'm blogging publicly about her personal health issues? I don't know. But the chocolate-covered macadamia nuts I brought back from Hawaii for her will be a great start.)

Back to that blood pressure. We need that to stabilize. Turns out it's not the medication or the dosage, it's a festive little blockage in the left side of her heart. Similar to the adorable blockage she had on the right side nine or so years ago. So she's going in for a "procedure", which in our family, given her history, could mean anything. (See note above about the hangnail leading to the indecipherable infection.)

So, I'm going to Vegas. I really wanted to leave on Sunday, so I could spend some time with the folks before she goes in for her infection-inducing procedure Monday morning, but you guessed it! The traveling husband doesn't get back into town until late Sunday night. So sweet boy that he is, booked me on a 6:00am flight, which drops me into Sin City about midway through her angio-whatever she's getting done. I'll grab some good, strong coffee for me and my beloved Dad, and head straight to the hospital, where I will charm the socks off the nice nurses and threaten the rude ones with their jobs.

(I got that fierce bitch gene from my Mom and I have absolutely no problem using it to her benefit. Don't mess with my people, people. I will cut you. Not really, unless my tongue is a knife and you're an asshole.)

And all this week, I keep thinking (and praying) about my Mom. I have a slideshow running through my head of pictures of her with my Dad, and with us kids. And I'm knocking on wood and crossing my fingers, and reminding myself that I'll see her in a few days because she is more than a slideshow. But in a moment of weakness, I reminded the traveling husband that if I lose her, it's not going to be pretty over here, because this baby girl will fold up and close shop for a while. Can't even write about it now without getting choked up.

She is the one I fought to separate from when I was a teenager, and the one I began to cling to again when I became a mother myself. She is the Mom who put on her son's baseball uniform for parent game day at Little League, and the Mom who put in hours at the snack shack. She is the face in the audience right next to my Dad at every dance performance I had over the course of 20 years or so. She loves doing laundry. She can type faster than anyone I know and always told me if she could type my costumes, I'd be the best dressed dancer around. She cooks with exactly three spices: salt, pepper, garlic. She loves lemon - from lemon cake to lemon kitchen soap. She has always told us kids that she loves us more than life itself, but Dad comes first with her (and she means it...and he deserves it). She loves owls and penguins and cats. She throws her head back when she laughs, and her crinkly eyes get even more crinkly when she cries. She's had one of the toughest upbringings of anyone I've known, yet she's somehow ended up with one of the softest hearts. On vacation she used to wear a muu-muu and a flower behind one ear with her hair pulled up and twisted into a bun, and I would do the same, so I would look just like her because she was so pretty. I have her freckles (the bitch gene wasn't all I got) and her love of family and her nose and her ears and I know I have a part of her heart and she has mine. She. My Mom. It's not just that I love her though. I need her. She's who I call to break news to, knowing she will always be the audience that gives me exactly the response I need and want to hear. She sides with me when I'm hurt, and then rebounds back to happy when I do. And more than she is to me, she is to my Dad. They are one, essentially. (If a Jewish secretary from the Bronx can be a Presbyterian engineer from Indiana, that is.)

The point is, Mom, if you're reading this, let's make Monday an easy day, shall we? Be strong, be focused, and be well. I mean, I will kick ass if I need to, but I don't want to have to kick YOUR ass. So get in, get 'er done, and get out. Then we can go home, and feed the cat, and do puzzles, and take naps in between watching bad TV. Deal?

I love you so much, Mom. And I'll be there soon as a personal reminder of all the good things you have to live for. I will kiss your pretty, freckled face and hand you chocolate-covered macadamia nuts when the nurse turns the other way.

I might even let Dad have one. But his life is sweet enough, because he has you.


Thursday, January 17, 2013


This morning, I hustled into Starbucks to get a gigantic cuppa joe and a little nosh. Today I chose the low-fat berry cake. Because when you're lucky enough to go on an almost-all expenses paid Hawaii trip because your husband's client was selected to play in the Pro Bowl, you know full well you should be doing everything you can to drop 25 pounds in 7 days. Because you have January Body, which means most of your outer self looks like raw pizza dough. However, aside from maybe losing a limb, that 25 pound goal isn't going to be met, especially if you have that cake, which is what I was thinking about when I looked up to see a little girl and her Mama in line a couple people ahead of me.

I see these two every time I go to this store, so I assume they are there every single morning. The other day she was in full cowgirl attire, complete with red boots. Today she opted for a red silk two-piece China girl pantsuit, but wisely kept the red cowgirl boots in rotation. She already knows red is her color. Which means she obviously has a better fashion sense than I, because I am wearing yoga pants. To work. And I don't work in a yoga studio. I attribute the yoga pants to the aforementioned overage in pounds, and I attribute her stylish attire to her being British and worldly, with her chocolate milk and her little scones.

In any case, I was checking my email on my phone, and glancing up to see if it was my turn or if I should move up because I know how people hate it when you steal hours (come on) away from their life when you don't take that half step forward as soon as you can. I saw her Mama encouraging her to do something, but I didn't know what it was. The two women in line ahead of me seemed to know both the Mama and the little girl, so I thought maybe she was helping her shy little one be brave and talk to her friends.

Instead, the red boots walked over to me, and handed me a small envelope with a $5 gift card inside of it. I smiled and said, "Thank you sweet girl...but are you sure..." thinking maybe she thought I was someone else, but not wanting to embarrass her for giving me - a perfect stranger - one of the little cards she was carefully holding. That's when the woman in front of me in line said "You have to turn it over and read it.", so I did.

Here's what I saw:

And of course, that's when I teared up and had to choke back a sob, because I cry at commercials when people I've never met are emotional. So imagine how I felt with little brown eyes and little red boots standing right there in front of me?! Oy.

I then watched as she handed two more cards to the people who walked into line behind me, and learned that she'd also handed cards to the two women in front of me. They weren't already friends of the Mama and the red boots, but they were certainly endeared to her as I was after them. Turns out the Mama had a birthday recently and she gathered up her kids and said, I don't need any gifts this year. Instead, let's do 39 nice things for other people...what can you think of? So the little dove who sits at Starbucks each morning before she takes her boots to preschool said, let's buy coffee for people at the coffee shop. Her son said how about we drop off food at the local animal shelter. Another child of hers said let's give the postman something special. 

Small acts. From the Mama on down. Thoughtful and from the heart. Very random. Uncalled for and unexpected even. So, so, SO genuinely heartwarming. And ovary trembling. I mean Jesus, the sight of that little one had my eggs popping all over the place.

And because they asked nothing more from me than to pass it along, I shall.


I will forgive my former employer for lying to me, and intentionally hurting people I love for personal gain.

I will walk the 125-pound puppy today and patiently let him sniff all the mojo he wants.

I will surprise Eight by getting her posterboard before I pick her up from school and encourage the excitement she feels for her Black History Month project on Mae Jemison, the first African-American woman to go to space.

I will play tetherball with Ten instead of saying no when she asks me (even though she beats me every time).

I will let people cut me off on the freeway. I will give the traveling husband a foot massage without begging asking for one in return. I will remind a heartbroken friend that she is strong enough to do hard things, while acknowledging she is at her weakest.

I will be kind to myself. And remember that inside this dough-boy body beats a good heart, and a clear conscience and a strong, loving soul from which friends and family and children can launch themselves into their day, knowing they will always find a safe place to come back to in me.

Think of how $5 could change your day. Imagine those brown eyes were looking up at you from those red boots this morning and how you would feel, then find a way to pass that feeling along. 

We are all soul-boosters and peace-lovers and happy-finders, we just forget sometimes. We are cherished and necessary and powerful. I challenge you (all six of you who read this blog) to take a big, deep breath today, stand strong and tall, and go love somebody up in your own way.

Peace and coffee and cowgirl boots, people. Pass it along.