Tuesday, April 30, 2013

soft focus

The side effects seem to be tapering off, though they aren't altogether gone, yet, and I'm still feeling a bit in limbo, floating along, taking one hour at a time, trying to maintain some momentum, but in general just doing whatever feels right for the day.  You know, within reason.  As fantastic as napping on the sofa all day sounds, I have managed to avoid that so far.  But spending a half hour rocking my baby girl after she'd already fallen asleep?  So totally the best way I've spent my time ever.  I didn't finish the ironing that day, or get through that stack of paperwork, or finish emailing, or OH who cares!      I really don't.  And believe it or not, this is progress for me.  And it feels amazing.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Happy birthday, little Cole

Today is my nephew Cole's second birthday.  He would have been two, and I can't help but imagine him chubby and happy, chasing butterflies in the yard, throwing tantrums over juice and naptimes, leaving a trail of two-year-old chaos wherever he goes, his tired but happy parents chasing after him.

We miss him.  That hasn't changed.  It never will.  But we appreciate the chance to have met him in the first place, and feel lucky to think that we might meet him again.

In honor of Cole, all profits from today's sales at Orphans Treasure Box will go toward the Cole's Gift adoption grant.  You can find out more about Cole's Gift here, and can contribute through the "shop" link on that page.

For more Like A Radio posts about Cole, click here.

Better yet, read his mama's blog.

Happy birthday, little Cole!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

side effects

Hey there, friends.  How's about a little update on my mental health?  Sound like fun?  I thought so!

So.  Through the (unfortunately very long) process of getting my mental health on track, we've come to realize that I do deal with an unusually excessive amount of fatigue and foggy concentration regardless of the state of my depression, and over recent months, that fatigue has begun to get out of hand.  Over the past month or maybe more, I could have easily fallen asleep anywhere and anytime, even after getting lots of regular, solid sleep at night.  The good news is that as of last week I am now being treated for this, but since the first day of treatment I've also been experiencing quite a lot of side effects.  Sometimes I've been manic, sometimes I've been exhausted again.  Sometimes I've been foggy, sometimes unusually clear-headed.  Sometimes I've had no appetite, sometimes I've wanted to eat everything in the house.  The list goes on, and the weirdest part is that sometimes I feel like I'm experiencing all of these symptoms at once.

Please, those of you who know me, don't worry about this.  Nothing about any of this is serious, and the side effects should taper off within days or weeks.  Plus, I have high hopes that the treatment will work, and that many of my questions about the source of my chronic depression and other minor health issues will be answered, or better, solved.  If that's the case, I'll likely be a bit more forthcoming about the whole shebang here.

The fact is, though, that right now I feel very erratic, and I'm not exactly sure how that's exhibiting itself to the outside world, if at all.  Unfortunately, I can physically only do one thing at a time while this is going on, and I can feel that a lot of things are slipping past me.  I want to apologize if you've gotten the distracted end of my focus recently.  (I think it might be pretty bad sometimes.)  But all my efforts at this moment are being put into keeping my head down and staying laser-focused on taking care of my family, and myself.  When the beneficial side of the treatment shows through, I'm making a lot of progress, getting things done at home, finishing boring household tasks I've had piled up for months, and even better, I'm enjoying things like playing with my kids more than I have in, I don't know, maybe forever.  On the other hand, much of the time I'm just working at pushing through the side effects so I can get dressed in time to pick up the girls from school.

So that's what's going on.  Again, if you've experienced a distracted or disappearing version of me, I'm sorry.  But I want you to know why, and that I do think it will improve soon, and I hope you'll be patient with me.

Thank you, again, for all of your wonderful support through this process.  You've all been so amazing.


Friday, April 19, 2013

the tragedy of motherhood

God, I wanted to end this week on some other note, but what a week it has been.  Terrible in so many ways, it is also the kind of week which reminds me of how changed I really am since becoming a mother.  How I will forever see the faces on the news of people who were killed, injured, or lost, all of those faces are the faces of children, now, in my eyes.  It doesn't matter their age.  It doesn't matter if they are older than me.  It doesn't matter if they are the cause of the trouble.  My mother's heart aches for them all.

And it goes without saying that it also reminds me acutely of the one inescapable tragedy which arrives with every child:  that we can try as hard as we can, cover as many fronts as possible, but it is absolutely impossible to protect that child completely.  The saying goes that motherhood is like having your heart walk around outside of your body every day.  I just don't think that covers it.  Maybe if you said it was like having your heart walk around outside of your body ALL the time in a tall corn maze full of land mines and quicksand and predators, and you cannot convince your heart that this maze is anything more or less than a carnival romp - and even then I don't think that covers it.  Because I don't care about my own heart half so much as I care for my daughters.

I took the blurry photo above on Lena's first school bus ride on her first Kindergarten field trip last month.  To my surprise, it was her choice to sit with me on the bus instead of sitting with her friends, and on both legs of the trip, too.  And she chattered on about everything she saw outside her window.  And she held my hand.  And she just radiated happiness.  Being with her on that bus made me crazy happy, too, but still I worried - worried that there were no seat belts on the bus, that I didn't know the driver, that Los Angeles drivers are crraaaaazy and, as usual, I had no control over them - there was no real way to protect my daughter.  All I could do was sit by her, listen to her, and simply hold her hand.

Maybe that sums up my job pretty well, though.

Always, always, always, I will do my best to protect my daughters.  The hardest truth I will ever accept, though, is that it's possible I won't always succeed.  But always, always, always, just like my own mother, I WILL be available to sit with them, or listen to them, or hold their hands.  For the rest of my life, and if I have anything to say about it, even after that.

The rest is left to grace.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013


In tandem with yesterday's post I thought I'd share some more of Evie's third birthday with you.  It was all rainbows and My Little Pony and two happy happy over-excited sugared-up little girly sisters.  Why can't we bottle up this joy?  Bottle it and keep it for the hard days, for the days when childhood seems to dissipate in the face of Real Life?  It should be possible, and if it was, I would seal the stopper, wrap the bottle in this morning's funny papers, pack it in a shoebox, tie a pink ribbon around it all and send it off to you.

I hope she remembers this birthday when she grows up.  It was a good one.  Have many more of them, my girls, have many many more.

(my 40-week pregnancy photo, with 1-week-old Evie.)


Monday, April 15, 2013

at the speed of you

Eve Adele, born 4.11.10
Baby girl, I know it's been your M.O. from the start, since the morning I went from happily working the Sunday crossword at 8:10am in that 8th floor triage room downtown - deciding to just "go ahead and stay" though the nurse offered to let us go home til things "progressed" - to grasping you outstretched and slippery on my chest at 8:53am, but I don't believe that the knowledge of your ability to keep things moving at obliterating speeds will ever save me from the experience of it.  Some people will think that (43 minutes minus check-in, minus grabbing our bags, minus a careful walk to the L&D room down the hall equals what? 30 minutes?) of active labor means the delivery wasn't all that bad, easy by comparison to most, but in reality it was more like packing every great cataclysm of birth into one neat and sharpened point shot straight into my belly.  Where I was at one moment steadily preparing to climb into a hospital bed I am now pierced, torn, tumbling, reaching, crying for help.  Suddenly I am St. Teresa at the mercy of this beautiful, terrible angel, his arrow's tip bearing the inescapable density of a black hole, my "easy" labor actually labor compressed, the universe in a marble, the full text and revelation of the Bible written on a single grain of rice.  My eyes are open but all I see is blind white light, volcanic lightning.  The voices multiply, calling orders, instructing me, they flood every space.  I am overwhelmed.  I fight for a grip in the landslide and then the atom splits and you are in my fumbling arms, your own beauty outshining the blinding white, banishing the angel.  But you are wet and writhing, slipping against my surprise, gurgling in your cries, so they pull you away to the far side of the room and crowd around you, eclipsing my sunlight, and they say it is too much gurgling but I cannot move to reach you, the great waves of the tsunami are still rocking through my hips, and my body quakes, it shudders, my teeth clatter aftershocks while the doctor finishes me up and Jimmy speaks to me in perfect proud and calm soothing joy until they bring you back and I can look you full in the face at last, and in all this memory of your birth I only remember one single thought capable of forming amid the total upheaval of me, capable only because it rose in utter instinctual panic, and it rang like churchbells in my head:   Too fast!  how is it over?  put her back!  again!  it happened too fast!  

And I knew you had set your pace for life.

Eve Adele,  4.11.13

Tuesday, April 9, 2013


Quiet is so difficult to catch these days.  Though I have been chasing after it with both hands reaching, aching, it has kept stubborn to my horizon and I worry that when I finally do catch hold of it I will have  thus inadvertently let go of what is most dear, and left the cacophonous labor of mothering young children behind me forever, the knob knees, sticky hands, velvety warm full-cheeked wide-eyed faces no longer conveniently available about my hips for immediate pestering by my constant barraging kisses, no longer valid my prime all-access pass to wrap my babies up at any moment into these ever-needy arms until whole-bodied belly giggles turn eventually to Ugh but Mama wet go uv meee!

I do let go, regretfully, but only in pleading faith that I will have arms full again, soon, shortly, preferably......now.

Quiet is as basic to my existence, though, as sunlight, fresh breezing air, and chilled water in a familiar glass.  It is not essential, maybe.  Possibly, I can survive without quiet.  Without it, though, after too long in the chaos, a claustrophobia sets in.  I gasp for time and choke for an empty house, thrashing against the noise until they want to leave, to take their racket to a more welcoming venue, the park, the hamburger joint, school.  The door shuts behind them at last, and I turn out the artificial lights, crack a window, pour chilled water into a familiar glass.

I write.

Chaos - the chaos of my life, at least - is beautiful, and vital.  It IS my life, and I know that.  I never had it so good as I do now, with peanut butter in the fibers of the good wool rug, grapes rolled forgotten under the sofa, and snot wiped in sneak attack streaks on the sleeve of my black sweater.  The stress of a two-hour bedtime battle which caps a long skirmish-riddled day is singularly undone by one contented sigh escaped the instant my fingers begin their sure lullaby along her neck, her back, my own possession of mother's touch both winning the battle and losing the war, utterly and completely, again, as I am now and will be forever at the bidding of that single guileless sigh.

I may gasp for quiet.  I may dream of it and long for it, float in it when I have it and calculate it when I don't.  But chaos is my choice.  Again and again, I will live here in chaos with full and willing heart.  Give me blue toothpaste on the bathroom walls, glitter in the coffee table slats, sandy shoes on the sofa cushions, and hourly full-steam panic over lost toys red ants helicopters dropped toilet paper broken crayons.  Ask me for another snack, another sippie, another TV show, another bedtime story.  Ask me to moderate one more argument between you and your sister over whether the aqua crayon is blue or green.  Ask me another thoughtful question about the universe, then interrupt my answer again with an equally earnest request to eat candy for dinner.  You may use my sweaters as tissues and my best heels for outdoor pretend tea parties if that is the price of admission for me to be around you, near you, with you.  I pay it willingly, and I am gleeful because I know I am getting the most ridiculous bargain.

Today I had a welcome gust of quiet.  No, I haven't captured it.  It was, instead, (as usual), more akin to visiting a dear friend during their fleeting airport layover, eyes always on the time, anxiety over the schedule - the quality of the visit pressed hard against the ticking of the second hand - always that terrible anxiety lurking along the periphery.  I know I won't see any more of quiet this week.  But still, even so, how do you think I spent those precious hours I had?

Why, I spent them talking about you.

Friday, April 5, 2013

favorite thing of the week - extended addition + an actual blog entry. really.

Spring Break, man.  Spring Break isn't kidding around.  While we've had an exceptionally lovely two weeks, trying to get back to regular life is making me feel a little bit like Sleeping Beauty rubbing her eyes after a hundred-year nap, wondering what just happened?  Where am I?  And really, what's the hurry?  You know, Prince Reality, another five or ten years never hurt anyone.

Where was I?  Oh yes, Spring Break:  most of our break was spent with my parents who graciously left thirteen inches of snow to visit us in our "chilly" 65'-75' partly-sunny Los Angeles springtime.  In the past, when the girls were smaller, we could easily spend an entire visit holed up in our tiny house, watching TV and taking turns putting babies down for naps.  The girls don't have so many naps to work around anymore, though.  No bottles, no bibs, and almost no diapers at all, either, so we compensated for all those other homebound visits by hitting the Getty Museum, The Grove, the Space Shuttle Endeavour, Disneyland, and Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles, not to mention also celebrating Jimmy's birthday AND Easter.  It was fantastic.  And although it's no surprise that as a result we are all exhausted, I know that the memory of exhaustion will fade quickly.  Those memories of exploring LA with Grandma and Grandpa?  Those will stick around forever.

Still, though, today I am tired.  Tired, unmotivated, and irritated that my jeans are too tight after all that holiday-ing.  I'm hoping for a fresh start when the girls go back to school on Monday, but am also feeling overwhelmed, because, you know, laundry.  Laundry, dishes, groceries, vacuuming, and etc.  Or maybe that's just the tired talking.  It has been extra chatty lately.

Anyway, because I feel like I have little to offer you today, I hope you'll check out my Favorite Thing of the Week this week.  Actually, it's two things - two posts from a blog, The Actual Pastor, introduced to me recently by my sister-in-law Dawn, whom (again) I haven't even thanked personally, yet.  (Thank you, Dawn.)

The posts are both about parenting.  First up is a letter to parents of young children.  I needed this, because, well, if you haven't caught on, yet, I am feeling pretty tired.

Second, a post about motherhood and body image.  I needed this, too, because, well, obviously.

More from me next week.  I promise to make an extra-large pot of coffee before I sit down to write.  I do hope you'll be back, too.  In the meantime, enjoy your weekend!