Happy Friday

I was going to write about something serious, something not pleasant but worth thinking about. I changed my mind after looking at these new photos of my kids. You know what? It's Friday and I don't want to think about anything other than how damn lucky I am. So instead I am going to share a new pic of my kids. I have to laugh every time I look at this because it's truly an exact expression of my daughter's personality. It seems she's a lot like me, always looking sideways at people wondering what they are really thinking. My son is a lot like his dad....he just sits back and takes it all in and then gives me one of those "Are you kidding," looks when I've gone overboard. Ah...children really are the most wonderful gift in the whole wide world.

Have a wonderful weekend.
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the loss of innocence

It happens, the loss of innocence that is. It's as inevitable as death and most times, as unexpected.

Innocence is like a shiny new penny laying face up in the street; when you walk by you can't help but stop to notice how bright and new it looks, untouched, unscathed. Sometimes we bend over to pick it up, shove it down deep into our pockets, saving it for a rainy day with the hope that some of its newness wears off on us. Sometimes we glance at it, reminisce about how we once owned our own shiny penny - and then we move on because it's like staring into the sun, if you look at it too long it will blind you.

I've always wondered why innocence attracts us so. Is it because we can remember what it felt like to be naive? Or is it because it's concept has become so far removed from our own reality that we gawk at it's existence in wonder and amazement? Try as I may I cannot remember the exact moment that my own innocence was lost but I do recall waking up one day confused at my apparent 'worldliness'. The thing about innocence is that it's rarely given like a gift, wrapped pretty with a bow and a thank you card. Innocence is stolen. That shiny penny lays gleaming in the palm of your hand, sparkling as if it were worth a million dollars - and then it slips from your grip and suddenly becomes as worthless as a two dollar bill. Sometimes as it's rolling down the sidewalk you have the urge to run after it, pick it up, and hide it where no one can steal it from you again. But your feet are slow to move and soon it's fallen into the gutter beyond your reach and you let it go because that's easier than playing search and rescue for something you were not even sure you wanted to keep in the first place. After all what does innocence really get you - more admirers?

I knew that it was coming, that moment when my niece's innocence would join the other 'once shiny pennies' in the bottom of an old whiskey bottle. And now it's there, sitting on top because it's still new but with time, it will work it's way to the bottom where it will tarnish. And for now she says, "It's only a penny, not worth much." But one day not so far from right now she's going to realize that having a pocket with one shiny new penny can make you the richest person in the world.


feeling spared...

Three years ago my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. I still remember the phone call where she told me they found cancer in one of her breasts. I remember feeling my heart skip a beat, my chest become tight as if a hundred pound barbell was laid upon it. I remember thinking that there must be some mistake because my mother - was invincible. We want to believe our parents will live forever but the reality is, they won't. That day that I learned my mother wasn't invincible, changed me. My mother is a survivor, she's cancer free 3 years and counting and there is not a day that goes by without me telling her how much I love her. Sometimes I call her, sometimes I send an email, but one moment in every day that I wake up alive - I reserve just for her.

One week ago I woke up with swollen lymph glands under my arm. When I ran my hand under my arm and felt a lump, once again my heart skipped a beat. Cancer was the first thought that popped into my mind, the second was, "My babies need me." At first I tried to ignore the thoughts but I'm one of those people that never has much success quieting that 'little voice' inside my head. I called the doctor and made an appointment and was kind of disappointed when she told me I had to go for an ultrasound. I wanted her to tell me it was nothing and I'd be fine so I could go back to my life the way I needed it to be. I debated on telling my mother, partly because I didn't want to worry her, partly because I didn't want her - to worry me. I ended up telling her because that's what her and I do, we tell each other things. She told me it was probably nothing but I could tell by the pause in her response that she was now afraid she'd passed something 'unwanted' on to her child. I couldn't get in to get an ultrasound until today so for the past week I've been contemplating the worst. One moment I thought I'd convinced myself that everything would be alright and in the next, I'd be begging God to spare me for my children. Maybe I'm selfish but I cannot bear the thought of my children growing up without a mother. For them not to be able to call out to me when they needed to me. There are a gazillion words in this language but none compares to "Mom". Death robs you of that word. I cannot put into words how much I love them, just know that it's more than I ever imagined loving anyone. So this morning I went to the hospital to get the ultrasound and as I sat in the waiting room with my husband, he gently held my hand as if he were afraid he might break me if he held on too tightly. The nurse called my name, I took a deep breath and stood up to follow her. Never in my life have I dreaded moving my feet more than I did at that moment. One foot in front of the other I slowly made my way to the place that may change my destiny. I undressed and laid on the table trying desperately to pull the gown over my exposed skin. My nakedness seemed due less to my lack of clothes and more to the fact that I felt completely powerless. A few months ago I laid on a table similar to this one as they swirled a wand around my belly to see the life growing inside of me yet now the wand was in search of something that could end my life instead of fulfilling it. I studied the nurse's face instead of the screen with the hope that her expressions would give me the hope that I needed. As I stared at her, this stranger, I placed an enormous burden on her shoulders - the burden of making everything alright. As unfair as making someone your savior is, I could not help myself. Finally the nurse told me she would go get the doctor and I convinced myself that this could only mean bad news. When the doctor came in she was quick and to the point, "Everything looks normal, the nodes are most likely swollen due to an infection, a cold or some other virus." At first, I believed I'd willed the doctor to say what I wanted as if I were a ventriloquist but then she repeated, "There is no mass, no cancer, you can get dressed and go." She had no bedside manner but I didn't care, still I wanted to hug her. I dressed and made my way out to the lobby to tell my husband the good news and somehow his arms around my shoulders never felt so good.

I'm not sure if you've ever experienced how it feels to have your life handed back to you, but if you have then you know what grateful means. I took a moment, that moment I take out of each day just for my mom, and I called her. "Everything is ok Mom." I'm so very thankful that word has not been stolen from me.


If I should die...

Before now in some other life that I pretended to live, I never thought about death. When you are a kid death is something that escapes you. You go to sleep each night assuming that the sun will rise again, there will be more hours to play, more time to get chores done, more chances to do the things you neglected to do. For some of us, we briefly experience death when our beloved pet dies or a grandparent is laid to rest. For some, the less fortunate, they realize way too soon what death means by losing their parent or a sibling. But me, even though I remember standing over my grandfather's casket when I was seven I also remember thinking that it wasn't real. A child has that wonderful ability to make things into 'make believe' by simply refusing to pay attention. That's what I did. I'm not sure when it happens but at some point you realize that death means an 'ending' yet even then we still carry that 'infallible' feeling around with us. I suppose sometimes that's a good thing after all who wants to wake up each day thinking they are going to die right? When I think back to all the moments I wasted believing I'd always have another chance to do what I didn't get done today I realize how incredibly selfish that is. There has to be some balance, some way to be grateful for life without constantly worrying about it ceasing to exist but I'm not really sure how to achieve it.

I think about death now, since I've had children. I don't fret over the things I've yet to accomplish, I fret over the chance to see my kids accomplishments. I worry about who will raise them if I pass, who will teach my daughter how to love with all that's inside of her without losing all that's inside of her? Who will teach my son that loving a woman completely doesn't make you weak, it's makes you strong? Who will protect them from harm? Who will love them the way that I do? I have no answers and maybe that's why I think about death. It's not something that consumes me, but it's there right beside the mental list of groceries I need to pick up tomorrow at the market. I'm not really sure I want it to go away because somehow being a little afraid of death makes me a better person or at least it forces me to be a lot less selfish.


God Bless the Child

Before, I was angry at God for not letting me take my son home from the hospital the day I was discharged. I can't take those moments that I felt that way, back. I can only stop being angry now. This past Sunday Patrick was baptized. The ceremony means different things to many people but to me it's standing before God and saying, "Here is my child, bless him, watch over him, keep him tucked safely beneath your arms." So now....God and I are sharing that responsibility of keeping my babies safe. I think He forgave me for being angry...after all He's the one who made me human.


lessons of abandonment

While I was on maternity leave my niece, the one I've posted on many times before, threatened suicide. She's a troubled 14 year old who's been put on and taken off more drugs than I've ever been in my life. I've often disagreed with my brother's take on the whole thing, he thinks every time she acts up it's due to her being AD/HD or some other 'condition' he's not yet diagnosed. He can't seem to link the start of all this bad behavior to his marriage about 3 years ago. I could lay a lot of blame on my brother but what's the point? Blame really gets you nowhere, instead I've chosen to just be extremely disappointed in him.

So anyway, he's tired of the 'drama' my niece brings to him and his new family so he's told her she has to go live with her mother. Funny thing...when he divorced her mother he fought tooth and nail to get custody and now he's ready to just hand her back over because things are a little too 'inconvenient'. Imagine this, a teenager sneaking out to see boys, staying on the phone too long, forgetting to hand in homework, or fighting with her step mother....stop the presses! I guess my brother has forgotten the time he dumped his car down a ravine and told the Police it was stolen so my mom would by him a new one. Or the time he stole my mom's car and drove to Iowa to go to a Frat party and then finally called my mom to tell her where he was three days later. Yeah, he was a real gem. So his daughter has been acting out, trying to get his attention, trying to let him know that she's hurting. What's he do? He proves to her that she was right, he doesn't care enough to keep trying so she tells him she wants to die. Of course he doesn't believe her, she's dramatic after all. So I call him up, I yell in his ear, I make him listen. He finally calls the hospital and they admit her for observation and tell him to let her go live with her mother because she's into much pain to be around him.

So, she's 14 years old and she has learned her very first life long lesson - people abandon you. My heart aches for her as my mind swirls around my own memories of being 14 and abandoned by my own father. I wonder if my brother realizes that he's just done the very same thing he hated my dad for. I see her life ten years from now as she's letting some man abuse her because she's terrified that he'll leave. I see her life fifteen years from now when she's convinced herself that there is something 'unlovable' about her and that's why people always leave. I wish I could see something else but as much as I'll try to change the course my brother has set her ship a sail on, I know in all likelihood - I'll fail.

For now, she'll hate herself instead of him. For now, she'll seek love from him with every ounce of her strength - we always want love from the people incapable of giving it. For now, she'll believe that life is not worth living and thoughts of ending it all will pass through her beautiful mind more often than thoughts of beginning again. For now I'll hold on to her as tight as I can and hope that I'm strong enough for the both of us. And one day she'll turn the light on and begin counting the scars she's collected and hopefully she'll learn, just like I did, that although some people do leave, it's the ones that stay that matter most.

Sometimes I wish that the lessons we learn could be 'unlearned' or turned back in like an overdue library book, pay a fine and the slate is wiped clean. Life doesn't work like that does it.


In life, there are many moments that change us. Some define us, some make us better or worse than we were before. Sometimes years pass before we realize that something is 'different' but sometimes the instant something happens we recognize the effect it has on our existence.

In my life I have changed many many times and once or twice I've made a desperate attempt to change back. I thought that in my 39 years of living I'd done all the changing that was required but 3 months ago when I brought Patrick into this world and then had to leave him at the hospital while I went back to an empty nursery, something in me - changed again. I was angry, at God, at my husband for not being able to understand my pain, at myself for somehow not being able to go just two weeks longer so Patrick would be full term. I've been angry before but never the kind of angry that consumes you until you feel so empty that a strong wind might blow you half way across the universe. I don't know if you've ever felt weightless before but it's not a good feeling. I felt like I was floating away and no matter how tightly those that loved me held on, I fought them. I remember my daughter sitting on my knee wiping tears off my cheek whispering, "mommy don't be sad." God gave me that angel to watch over me, and watch me she did. I never wanted her to see me sad but sadness was all I had left. It was the first time in my life that I felt completely out of control. The moment I walked out of that hospital without my son, I changed. The unwavering faith I'd always placed in God seemed to be faltering. For me, believing in God has always been what's gotten me through but now I felt completely alone.
Things turned out alright but even now with a healthy 3 month old little boy laughing and smiling at me, that part of me that changed is unable to change back. There is still a hesitation when I kneel down to say prayers at night with Alice that God is actually listening. I want to believe He is. I want to believe that He was listening all along and that even though I felt weightless as if I'd float away to parts unknown, I had an anchor holding me exactly where I was supposed to be.

Maybe what I need to do is look at these pictures every time I start doubting that some higher power is looking out for me.


from here to eternity...

It seems like an eternity since I've posted and although some may think I've forgotten my blog friends, nothing could be farther from the truth. Honestly I've thought about this place often but life had me 'tied' up. After Patrick was born I took 3 months to enjoy being a mom but now it seems the time has come to leap back into my other reality. Coming back to work was hard the first day. I must have kissed my sweet babies ten times before actually making it out the door and as I sat on the train blasting my music trying to drown out the whispers of a reality call I wasn't ready to hear, I realized that for once in my life I was actually content. It's such a strange feeling ya know? There have been so many moments spent searching for something more than what I already had that I'd kind of forgotten what content actually felt like. It feels damn good.

So much has happened since I've been away, some good, some bad. I guess life wouldn't be life if it didn't have both of those ingredients would it? At least it's given me much to write about so I hope you'll stay tuned because starting tomorrow I have some pretty deep stuff to scribble across these pages. I know...you're thinking "Networkchic has deep things to write about?" Amazing isn't it? :-)

I've missed you all and in between my catching up on work I promise to visit each and every one of you.