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Feb 05

To Jessica Mary – Fifteen Years

Fifteen years ago, I was hugely pregnant.  Pretty sure that I was going to be pregnant forever.  I had already started my maternity leave, because we had scheduled a c-section a week ago, only to realize that Jessie had flipped when I went in for the last check up.  So I was home, feeling like it would never end.  And that was okay with me, because I loved being pregnant.

I felt like she was safe and mine and wasn’t ready to share her with the rest of the world.  I feel that way now too sometimes.

She’s going to be fifteen on Wednesday, and I need to get ready.

I’m no more ready to share her with the rest of the world than I was fifteen years ago.  But in the same way that labor happened regardless of how I felt about it – she’s going to be a sophomore, then a junior and then a senior and then she’ll be… out in the world.

Mothering Jessie has always felt completely natural.  I wanted to be a mother, so badly – and from the first moment I saw her, it was like something that had been missing my entire life clicked into place.  But it’s with Jessie that I constantly feel inexperienced, and like I’m playing catch up.  I no sooner adjust to having an infant and then she’s a baby.  I blink, and she’s a toddler, and then dancing off to preschool.  I can’t quite keep up with her, because it was yesterday that I was somehow the mother of a middle schooler, and suddenly we’re debating which AP class she should take and what scholarships she should apply for, and how far away can she go without me losing my mind?  (That last one is a consideration that I keep to myself – but breathe a sigh of relief when she tells me that she wants to stay within New England.)

At fifteen, Jessie is taller than I am, and so beautiful.  She’s brilliant and sarcastic and literally one of the funniest people I’ve ever known.  She’s still as emotional and intense as she’s ever been, only now she’s got a little maturity to add to it.  A little self-control, a little bit of restraint.  She still hates to fit in too much, hates to do anything on committee, and group projects make her crazy.  Her little sister is the bane of her existence, and I’m not entirely sure she’ll ever forgive Marc and I for making her share a bedroom with her.

I love this kid so much, her craziness, her kindness, her empathy and impatience and drive and humor.  Fifteen years ago, when I first saw her, I knew who she was and I knew who I was now.   And as much as I want to keep her all to myself for the next fifteen years, I know that I can’t.   There’s going to be so much changing soon, too soon.  She’ll get her license, and then her first job, and then college and an apartment, and if I spend too much time thinking about it – I’ll just end up in tears.  Because I’m no more ready now than I was fifteen years ago.

Jan 30

I don’t even care

The dog is crunching up a piece of plastic in the living room, my feet are icy cold because the one pair of socks I can find is in the bathroom, where Julie has ensconced herself and will remain for the next half hour.  Jessie stopped sleeping thru the night six weeks ago, and is miserable and incoherent, and I ran out of cream one cup into the day.

It’s snowing.

This is not a day I’ll look back on wistfully.

I do try and be present and mindful.  Aware of the blessings and joys of raising these three kids, married to this man.  But on days like today, when the dog has decimated two plastic spoons, and thrown up in the living room…I actually prefer to pretend I’m elsewhere.

 

 

 

Jan 24

Happy 44th

First a quick shout out to Julianna, who has a delightful habit of remembering my age, and reminding me thoughtfully at random times.  Because honestly, I’d probably forget.  I’m somewhere in my mid-forties.

Actually, I’m exactly in my mid-forties.

I find myself looking back over the past year, and thinking that it’s still so impacted by the accident.  The ramifications last so long with an event like that.  It’s been two years this March, and that seems odd to me.  It still feels so recent.

I’ve changed since the accident.  I parent very differently now.  I’m hyper-responsive to Sam’s moods, especially when we’re out in public.  Even though he’s doing so much better, even though he doesn’t actually need to have me being right there, as the scaffolding for him.  It’s still second nature to me.  Monitoring the mood between all three of them, is Jessie being snarky?  Can I let that go, or is it going to spiral into Sam getting upset, which is going to morph into impacting Julianna.  Is Julie getting upset about some unseen conflict, and will she burst into tears at the slightest provocation, which will in turn impact Sam in a way that he won’t be able to handle?

I’m writing this post after going out to dinner with all three of them, at a crowded new restaurant with a ton of people, spending the two hours praying that it all held together and nobody fell apart.

Nobody did.  Well, Julie did a little, but it was minor and not really unprovoked.

At 44, this is still very much my world.   Especially now, when I’m home full time and my world revolves around getting the girls up and dressed and packed and to school, and then homeschooling Sam, and then launching into the pick up, fed, jammied and into bed.   Ten years from now, it’ll be a very different world.  Five years from now, they’ll be 19, 16 and 12.  But for now, my job is finding the narrow path between overparenting and benign neglect.

I like where I am.  It feels right, this place, with these kids and this husband.  It feels like I’m getting to the place I dreamed of those nights in the hospital.  Where everyone is healthy, and whole, and growing up.  Where there’s no significant goal on the horizon, just more of the same.

And so I’ll greet my 44th birthday tomorrow happily, because this, right now, is exactly what I always wanted.

Jan 23

Adventures in chili and chilly

See that little play on words there?  I’m so clever..

I kept the girls home today.  It was frozen out there.  Literally, frozen.  The stairs were icy, the poor dog slid all over the walkway on the way to pee.  My car is crap in the rain, oddly enough.  Maybe there’s a cap missing or something is off somewhere along the line, because when I go thru a puddle, I lose power steering for a minute.  It’s not a long time, but when you’re hurtling along and suddenly can’t move the steering wheels for thirty seconds, it’s disconcerting.  The temp has gone up, so it’s probably not frozen, but it’s still pouring and pouring out there.  There was a two hour delay, and even after two hours, it was still icy and scary out there, so they really only missed a few hours.

We made chili on Sunday.  And by we, I mean me, because Marc was at the gym.  It was good, really good, but the beans never softened.  Which, to be honest, did detract from the overall experience, but I thought I’d try it again today.  On Sunday, I boiled the beans for two minutes, and then let them sit for an hour or two, maybe.  One.  It was woefully inadequate.  Last night, we soaked the beans overnight, for a good twelve or fifteen hours, but they were still hard this morning.  So I’m boiling them again, and hoping that if I now let them sit for a few more hours, maybe they’ll soften?  Maybe?

(edited to add) They did not soften.  So I boiled them again.  Then I added some baking soda, as the google gods assured me that it help.  But I didn’t read it right, and instead of adding a quarter teaspoon, I dumped in a heaping teaspoon.  Then I felt bad, and dumped the beans into a strainer, rinsed them, and then put them back on to boil, this time with the appropriate amount of baking soda.  Finally, the beans softened.

I added them to the meat/onion/garlic/diced tomato mix, and then thought to myself – tomato paste.  That’s what this needs.

It did not.  Then I had a really bright red, overly tomato-ed chili.  I tried sugar to cut the acid, which worked… to make it super bland.  Then I tried to eat it with white rice, because I love jasmine rice.  I threw a little cheese on there, and then I tried BBQ sauce.

I’m officially giving up on chili.

 

 

 

Jan 14

So much vacation….

I could get used to this.

We had a snow day before Christmas vacation, we were off for a week, went back on Tuesday, took Thursday and Friday off for a snow day, and now we’ve got another three day weekend.

The only hitch is that I’m totally out of practice at sticking to a routine now.  Its all very laid back and relaxed.  Sam sleeps until noon, Julie’s up until 9:30 or 10:00, Jessie’s losing hours watching netflix.

I know I’ve been slacking on the blog lately.  Part of it is that the kids are getting older, and there’s a sense that I want to respect their privacy (and yes, I know that I was still writing a lot when Jessie was Julie’s age, and that means that I’m missing out on those really cute Julie stories…. the guilt is constant).

But that’s where we are.  Jessie is fourteen, and she’ll be fifteen in a few weeks.  I’m just going to leave that there, because FIFTEEN is ridiculous.  Fifteen.  It was YESTERDAY that she was so tiny, and I only felt real when I was holding her.

Sam is 11.  And that’s equally insane.

But the biggest one, for me, right now, is that my baby is almost eight.  I feel like I missed her childhood.  I know I didn’t.  I know I probably paid more attention to her babyhood/toddlerhood/early childhood than the other kids, simply because she was the last one.   But it FEELS like it all went by so quickly.  I was looking at pictures earlier, and there’s a shot from Jessie’s bat mitzvah and I was holding Julianna.  That was two years ago, and I can’t remember the last time I was able to haul her up on my hip and wander around.   I mean, I did. Of course, I did.  I remember thinking that I did it way too much with her, more than with the other kids, because she was the baby.  There wasn’t a baby coming up afterwards to push her out of my arms, so I held her constantly.  She didn’t reliably walk until she was easily 17 or 18 months.  Not because she couldn’t, but because I held her all the time.

I wish I had done it more.

They’re all so big now.  And I love that, I do.  I love that Jessie is so funny, and I love the way Sam’s mind works.  I love watching Julie fall in love with everything, how everything is new and adventurous and fun for her, and she’s so brave and bold.   But I miss my babies.  I miss Jessie laying her her little head on my shoulder and falling asleep, and Sammy toddling around after me, holding my book so I’d sit and nurse and snuggle while I read.  I miss baby Julie, who fell asleep every night snuggled up in my arms, and started every morning by crawling into my lap.

Misty and vaguely hormonal tonight… and it’s past nine.  I really should get that poor kid into bed.

Jan 01

Memories from Christmas Break 2017

- Christmas morning, we all sat on the couch and watched the Christmas specials we hadn’t had time to see during December.  We got a big flat screen television for Hanukkah and Sam could actually sit in the living room and clearly see the screen.  It was my favorite part of the day.

– We spent Christmas Eve at my mother’s house, and did Chinese food Christmas Eve (like the good Jews that we are).  Then had Joy and Sara and their families here for Christmas Day – and it was perfect.

– Picking up Glennys and bringing her down for the week was such a great idea.  I love these six kids – my five, plus Glennys.  And given that it’s our first year with Lilli off to college, it answered the question that’s been nagging me for a while… somethings never change.  Even when they all grow up, they’ll still come together on Christmas vacation, and it’ll feel just like it did ten years ago.

– The two three day weekends, with Christmas and New Years both falling on a Monday, made for a lot of quiet relaxing time for Marc.  I really love having him home.

– My dog is slightly crazy.  She is.  I mean, I adore her, but she’s mostly nuts.  She is, however, amenable to suggestion, and when I attach her leash to my wrist, and consistently repeat the phrase “calm, calm,”  she actually is.

– If you love dogs, you will adore mine.  If, however, you dislike dogs, mine is kind of your worst nightmare.  She’s like a dog times a thousand.

– My girls might end up killing each other by adulthood.  I don’t think they will, but they might.  Sam won’t kill either of them or be killed, but only because that lucky bastard has his own room.

– I don’t want to send them back to school tomorrow.  I know Jessie wants to, and she loves school, and she’s open about not wanting to homeschool, but Julie… I think I could talk her into homeschooling with very little effort.  I’m just not 100% convinced it’s best for her.  With Sam – he really hated all the things about school.  He liked his friends, but that was it.  The competition, the repetition, the lining up and the structure – he was miserable, and it was never a good fit.  Homeschooling is perfect for him.  Even without the injury and the vision loss, this would still be the right fit for him.  With Julie… I’m not convinced it’s the right move for her.  But I am going to miss them tomorrow.  Not the unending fighting, but the fact of the girls bopping around the house – I will miss that.

Dec 26

Christmas 2017

I made it.  It was my second one, post accident, and my second one after declaring that I would not fight with anyone about putting up the tree.  Happy to say that I managed, a few reposts of articles notwithstanding.  But I kept repeating that I wouldn’t argue with anyone – you do you, I’ll do me, and really, the reality is that I’ve been doing this for almost sixteen years, and my kids self-identify as Jews who celebrate Christmas, and I’m okay with that.

Most of the season was taken up in winding down at Literacy Volunteers, and dealing with Jessie’s sickness.  She’s been diagnosed with Osgood Schlatter disease, or as Julie calls it – the ocean water disease.  Basically, it means her knees hurt, nearly all the time, and always when she’s doing any sort of physical activity.  She’s also been fighting off a virus that’s taking FOREVER to go away.   She’s exhausted and grumpy and in pain, and it’s hard to watch.  Hard for her to be going thru this, and hard for everyone around her, because Jessie’s not a girl to suffer silently.

Julie is still doing great in school.  But… I don’t like it.  I just don’t like it that much.  Now that I’m homeschooling Sam, I look at education differently.  Is she being challenged, is she learning enough, could she do more?  She’s doing so well socially, and after Jessie, that’s wonderful to see.  Jessie really struggled in elementary school, so I’m extra grateful for Julie’s adaptability.  But we’re wondering about the Jewish day school in Framingham, and will be checking that out next month.  Not sure if we can even consider it, financially, but it’s worth checking out to see what kind of aid is available.

She wants to sign up for basketball.  Actually, she wanted to sign up for dance class, but the class she should be in conflicts with religious school, so… basketball it is.  I want her more active, and I think she’ll be good at it.

Sam’s doing well too.  He actually went to a Cohen family Hanukkah party.  Walked in, and actually talked to people.  Not a lot of people, and he was asking to go home twenty minutes after we got there – but he went and participated.  He spent most of our Hanukkah party and Christmas party in his room, but he came out for dinner.  He’s getting better.

I’m not ready for spring yet, and winter is barely started.  I’m happy here, in this place.  Marc’s job is going really well, and he’s happier than I’ve seen him in years.  I’m looking forward to settling into homeschooling in January, being able to really focus on what he’s learning and how to he’s learning and putting more time and energy into it.

There was a place in my life, before the accident, when things seemed so… peaceful.  Like there were little dramas that came up, but they were minor.  The kids were all healthy, Marc and I were healthy and happy.  It was… lovely.  I was so happy when the kids were little.  Busy and harried and broke most of the time, but everything was so… easy.  Then January of 2015 hit, and my whole world was thrown up and shaken around and it took literally years to get back to this place.  Where the dramas are small, and the kids are whole and healthy – and we’re just living our lives.  I didn’t take it for granted before, but now… I’m that much more aware and grateful for this time and space.  Where the kids are growing and thriving and Marc’s well and happy and I’m fulfilled and focused.

I’m ready for 2018.

 

Dec 19

Another page turning

I’m quitting my job tomorrow.

I remember liking it a long time ago.  Before the accident, when I dropped the three kids off at school and picked them up when they got out.  But ever since January of 2015, it’s been harder and harder.

We’re at a point where I can afford not to work.  Not that we’re suddenly made of money, but it was getting harder and harder to go each day.  Working on Saturdays was hellish, just because I wanted to be at home.  Working on Wednesdays was even worse.  On the days when my mom could come out, but when she couldn’t… I’d just spend the four hours feeling guilty and worrying the whole time.

Quitting feels like a move back to the normal order of things.  I want to focus on Sam and his education, and be able to available for the girls.  I want to write more, to be present and focused on what’s happening here.

Jessie’s been sick for weeks.  This has been a really hard year on her so far, which is odd because I think she’s emotionally happier in high school than she’s every been in middle school or elementary school.  But she had the concussion in September, and then hurt her knees in October.  She started feeling sick with this virus about two weeks ago, and then was diagnosed with Osgood Schlatter’s Disease last week.   It’s nothing permanent, and God knows, we’ve been thru worse with injuries and accidents with Sam – but it’s still hard to see her miserable and stuffy, sneezing and in pain.  We’re going back to the doctor’s this afternoon.

Sam is doing better, overall.  Education-wise, I’m really happy with how well he’s doing, in terms of math, science and history.  His reading comprehension is incredibly high, but there’s a lot more I want to be doing with him.  Quitting will allow that to happen.

My Julianna is growing up so fast.  She’s going to be eight next year, and I still think of her as my baby.  She’s still struggling with being a big kid and not the baby.  She bounces between sobbing hysterically when I pick out the wrong shirt and reading chapter books, and walking the dog like a boss.  I want to freeze time with her, more so than the others, at this point.  I’ve been here before and she’s going to be 14 before I know it.  No matter how much I try to pay attention and slow it down, I know I’ll look back and feel like I missed so much.

So I’ll finish up my very short tenure as an Office Manager and/or Senior Administrative Assistant.  I liked working, but I like being home with my kiddos more.

Nov 16

Not a great day

Not a terrible day either.

– It rained all morning, with a toddler going in and out of the car.

– Sam did NOT want to do math, and it was a struggle.  We got it done, but it wasn’t fun.

– Aiden woke up just after math, so that was it for homeschooling today.

– Lizzie peed on my bed.

– I had to shop, and I still have more to do.  The only thing worse than shopping is knowing that I have to do it again tomorrow.

– Jessie needed noodle kugel for tomorrow, which involved me making noodle kugel.  I’d never done it, and it’s really kind of disgusting.  I don’t mind eating it so much, I mean, it’s okay.  But wow, making it is just vile.  You’re just dumping dairy product after dairy product into a blender, whipping it all up and humming it onto a bunch of egg noodles.

– Did I mention the dog peed on my bed?

– A giant spider crawled out of my blender top.  A giant, huge spider.  And Sam can’t see well enough to kill it, so I had to be all adult and assume control.  Am still shaken up as a result.

– My sink is FULL of dishes, and I still have to cook dinner.

– After I finish feeding the kids, I will have even more dishes to do.

– I still have to take Jessie shopping to buy little shampoo/conditioner/soap things to take to camp.

Ugh.  I’m just drained out and tired.  House is in shambles, I need a shower, and the ever growing list of stuff to do is overwhelming me right now.  I pounded two cups of coffee, like they were medicinal, and still feel like I need a nap.

Nov 05

Brave and bold

We had Jessie’s eighth (I think) birthday party at a roller skating rink.  It seemed like such a good idea in the abstract.  The reality was that it was possibly the worst birthday party she ever had (although I’m remembering one where she pelted her guests with baked goods on the way out…).  Turns out Jessie doesn’t know how to roller skate.  Why this didn’t occur to us before putting her on skates is beyond me.

That was not a good day.  She fell immediately, burst into tears, whipped the skates off and glared at us for the rest of the party.

So when Julie’s girl scout troop wanted to go roller skating, I was understandably a little hesitant.  Logically, I fully understood that I couldn’t NOT take her skating, but I was not looking forward to it.  I had hoped that Marc would take her, but he had to work this afternoon.  I gently inquired if she still wanted to go this morning – assuming my little homebody would want to bail.  She wanted to go.

And so, off we went.

One perk to having done this before is that I have incredibly low expectations of what makes an outing successful.  Julie went, walked in without me there to join her troop, put on skates and fell down four times before bursting into tears and begging to go home.  But the first three times, she picked her little self up and kept going.  She even allowed someone to spray paint the ends of her ponytail orange.   She was brave and bold – and I was so incredibly proud of her.

And on the way home, we stopped and got coffee and cocoa together, and listened to music.  We talked about what I was like when I was her age, and it was this lovely little island of time – just me and my baby girl.  Who was brave and bold and orange tipped.  I know now how incredibly fast this age goes by – and how much I’m going to miss having a seven year old.  Watching her stretch herself outside of her comfort zone, experiment with new ideas and new experiences, and discovering who she is – it’s all just beginning for her and I’m so proud of her.

 

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