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Archive for November, 2009

The 2009 Farewell Tour

For four years now I’ve wondered how long I can keep this blog going.  At times it seemed almost effortless as the stories poured out of me.

Lately it hasn’t been effortless.  It has taken a lot of effort to post here even once a week, and while I do still have stories, I think I’m at the point where I wish to keep them private.

So again, I thank you for reading. The little audience I’ve had has meant a lot, but it’s time for me to stop writing about my life and start living it.

-HN

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Apologies at four

Last night Autumn told me she hated me. This was after I refused to give her more margarine for her already generously buttered rolls. Sure, it was Country Crock light margarine, but I’ll be damned if I’m the one who puts her one step closer to an angioplasty.

Nathan was the one to react to Autumn’s declaration. I don’t care if my child says she hates me. It wasn’t the first time and it surely won’t be the last. I actually thought the circumstances were kind of funny (margarine? snort!), but Nathan was having none of it and demanded that Autumn apologize. She didn’t, of course, and took to repeating the phrase over and over to try to get some reaction out of me.

“I really, really hate my mommy.”

Every time she said it, I thought “Whatever, kid, you don’t know how awesome a mother I am.” Sure, there are times when I could be a better mother, but the child has made it to age four in spite of her daily efforts to tempt fate. I’m pretty sure I deserve a feaking medal for keeping her alive this long.

Nathan finally had enough and told Autumn to go to bed. This started a lengthy battle of wills during which we saw much drama and tears but no apology. This really bothered Nathan. He’s particularly sensitive to Autumn disrespecting me since he knows what it’s like to live without a mother.

“Listen,” he said, “your mother does a lot for you. She puts up with a lot of crap from you and I will NOT have you talking to her like that.”

Still nothing.

Incensed, Nathan walked away while I got Autumn ready for her bath. And really, by the time she stepped into the water, she was already calmer and more amiable. Bath time can work wonders on an irritable soul no matter what the age.

We made amends shortly after, as my clean and pajama’d lttle girl crawled into my lap, wrapped her arms around my neck and said, “I’m sorry, mama. I love you.”

I patted her back. “That’s okay, sweetie. I know you don’t hate me.”

“No,” she said, ” I did hate you but now I love you.”

Right. I guess I’ll take what I can get.

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Renewal

Two years ago was by far one of the lonliest, most miserable birthdays of my life. Little did I know at the time that I was a mere two weeks away from an injury that would change my life and plunge me into a deep depression from which I would not emerge for a year and a half.

Yesterday was a near perfect birthday. I enjoyed a free coffee in the morning, a free spaghetti in the afternoon and took advantage of the unusually beautiful weather on a walk with my family. And while I spent the majority of the day by myself, I felt such optimism and happiness throughout that it was nearly impossible to feel lonely.

The rest of the week will have its ups and downs as I say goodbye to a dear co-worker and celebrate his life with others who knew him. I wasn’t particularly close to Michael, not that I’m close to anyone I work with, but he died at 38 and left behind a four year-old daughter. I just turned 38 and also have a four year-old daughter. The thought of not making it to 39 never seemed so real as it does now.

One thing I have learned this year is that happiness is a choice. Sure, it can be helped along with good drugs and an even better therapist, but life is too short to be miserable. And if you’ve stuck with me this far I thank you. Your commitment means the world to me.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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As promised

For four years now I’ve created birthday videos for Autumn and every year I watch the video about five millions times once it’s finished. The past couple of years I’ve watched the video and then gone back to watch the previous year and the year before that. So for the past week I’ve been watching four years of birthday videos over and over again.

I always try to select a song that either reflects my observations as a parent or that reflects Autumn’s emerging personality. Several weeks ago I started listening to tracks on Grooveshark, hoping to find the perfect song. I finally settled on Jack Johnson’s “Upside Down”, a bouncy little tune from the Curious George soundtrack that’s all about growth and discovery. It fit perfectly.

On a final note, I really owe Autumn’s school a debt of gratitude for taking so many wonderful pictures of her over the past few months. Without them, I doubt I would have had enough photos to fill a three minute song. Mommy’s camera got a little dusty this year.

Autumn’s Fourth Year from noahsarc on Vimeo.

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Adios, muchacho

The other day my wonderful friend Meg wrote a beautiful post about the power of internet friendships. Meg and I have known each other for nearly four years but only just met in the flesh last July at BlogHer. Our bond was instantaneous and I am now counting down the days (literally) until I get so see my friend again.

Meg posted about internet friendships because lately the internet has shown what it’s made of by supporting one of our own in trouble. In the wake of Anissa Mayhew’s stroke, bloggers all over have rallied around her family. They have set up an address for donations to help the family along while Anissa is in the hospital and many, many folks active on Twitter are requesting #prayersforanissa by the minute. It’s a testament to the power of internet friendships, or as Meg’s husband Shane would call them, “fake frienships” that Anissa’s family is overwhelmed by the amount of support being offered right now.

There’s not much more I can say about Anissa. I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting her at BlogHer nor did I sit in on her panel with Meg (wish I had, though). After reading all the wonderful things about her and how she has touch lives with her strength and humor, I decided it was about time for me to post for another family in need of prayers.

I’ve been in my current job at the university for eight years. Looking back on these past eight years, I can’t recall if Michael was there from the beginning. It seems like Michael has always been there, so we’ll just say that he was.

Michael was one of the university’s admissions counselors, but more than that he was the office clown. We didn’t see him on a daily basis, but we almost always felt his presence. Sometimes he would answer his phone by saying “Grand Central Station” because we were sending so may calls to him.

Michael loved to prank call the office when he was out on recruiting trips. Sometimes he would try to disguise his voice and sometimes not, but almost every time he did call he wound up fooling one of us. He would ask the dumbest questions and even if we did suspect it might be Michael we couldn’t ask if it was in case it was a legitimate call. One thing I’ve learned in eight years of answering the admissions office phone line is that dumb questions can come from even the smartest people.

Michael would frequently announce his approach by banging on file cabinets and if you weren’t around when he came looking for you, you can bet you’d find your chair missing when you returned to your desk. He’d switch the nameplates on our cubicles when we weren’t looking, something we generally didn’t notice until a confused student worker tried to drop mail off at our desks.

In light of his antics, I never realized how very sick he was. A month ago when our office coordinator came down to tell us Michael had been taken to the hospital, I jokingly said, “What, did someone finally kick his ass?” only to find out he was indeed very, very sick.

For the past month we’ve been keeping up with Michael’s progress through his wife. She has been posting regularly through a Care Pages blog and we have been offering her support and prayers through our comments. We’ve followed his progress and hoped he would improve enough to be returned to his family, and eventually, his coworkers.

But this morning I woke up to find an e-mail update from Care Pages. Michael passed away last night.

I was going to post to ask prayers for healing for Michael, but now I ask, if you do pray, please do so for his family. He leaves a four year old daughter and a son.

I can’t remember the last time I talked to Michael or saw him because I had no idea I’d never see or talk to him again. It happens just like that sometimes and its very unfair because you never get a chance to say a proper goodbye.

So hold your family close. Hold them close and hold them tight, not just for today, but for always.

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Vaccinated

Yesterday afternoon was Autumn’s 4-year well child visit. For those of you who choose to stick to the traditional vaccination schedule, you know this is the appointment where they get their last round of shots.

Autumn had already had two vaccinations since the end of October. We both received the seasonal flu vaccine and a couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to get her the H1N1 vaccine.  Both times I showed up at school unexpectedly and shuttled her over to the campus health center.  The first shot went well, but when we pulled up to the health center for the H1N1 vaccine, she knew exactly why we were there.

“This is where they give hurts, mommy,” she said.

Yesterday was a little different.  She knew I would be picking her up to take her to the doctor, but when I walked into the school, the lights were dimmed and she was sound asleep on a cot.  She seemed surprised to see me at first and groggily wandered over to her cubby to retrieve her belongings.  As I zipped up her coat, she asked me the one question I was hoping she wouldn’t ask.

“Is the doctor going to poke me, mamma?”

I sighed. I couldn’t exactly lie to the kid. I had already challenged her trust in me by not giving her any warning about the two previous shots. I had to be straight with her.

“Yes, honey, you’re going to get a poke.”

Her face fell and her chin started to quiver. “But I don’t wanna get a poke,” she cried.

“I know, honey, but you need to get the medicine to help keep you healthy.”

“But I don’t wanna get a poke!”

At this point I was not about to tell her she’d be getting more than one.

Nathan was already waiting for us as we pulled into the pediatrician’s parking lot.  Autumn refused to get out of the car, so as Nathan coaxed her out, I decided to change into my more comfortable sneakers.  I tossed my work shoes into the back seat, locked the door and shut it.

And then I realized I had just locked my keys in the car.

There was a moment there when I hoped it wasn’t so.  I frantically checked my pockets and my purse, but a quick glance into the back seat confirmed my fears. There they were sitting there right next to my shoes.

Dammit! I let out a frustrated howl.  Even though Nathan was there, he had no spare key to let me get back into the car. The only key we have had been left inside.

A young man wandered over and offered to give a go at jimmying open the lock. I politely declined and said I’d just call a locksmith.  Nathan had once locked the keys in my car so I knew a locksmith wasn’t going to break us. At least the car wasn’t running with Autumn still sitting in the back seat this time.

We went inside and I borrowed the Yellow Pages. The guy I called said he’d be out in half an hour.

And wouldn’t you know he showed up just as the nurses were about to give Autumn her shots.  And he used a lock pick instead of the slim jim I expected. And he did it really quickly, like cat burglar picking the lock before the security guard shoes up kind of quick.  I seriously hope he only uses his skills to rescue dumbasses who lock their keys in their cars.

When I returned to the examination room, the nurses and Nathan had Autumn pinned to the table as she screamed.  One nurse told us that since Autumn was unable to relax, the shots were going to hurt more because her muscles were so tense.  Would she have been able to relax if I hadn’t told her about the shots earlier?  I doubt it.

So now the vaccinations are done.  We’ll still have to go through the yearly flu poke, but I think Autumn can rest easy knowing she’ll not be assaulted like that again..  And since she’s been through so many pokes already this year, we decided to skip the follow-up dose of H1N1 vaccine.  Availability is iffy at this point and we were told the initial dose is already 95% effective.  I’m hoping those odds play in our favor.

So that was our day.  How was yours?

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Rush

Sometimes I forget that my child is only four.

She has an amazing vocabulary and sings and has reasoning skills. She fools me into thinking she can function as I expect her to.  But mornings are tough at our house because not only do Nathan and I not manage our time well, but we don’t put Autumn to bed as early as we should in the evening.  She almost always asks to sleep a little while longer when we try to wake her, and on those mornings we know she’s not going to want to get dressed.  Or do anything that we want her to do.

But if a four year-old is asking to sleep a little longer, something is going wrong somewhere.  And yet Nathan and I still don’t manage our time well and we still don’t put Autumn to bed early enough at night.

This morning we had a quiet drive in to school.  Autumn sat in the back seat and said very little.  She’s usually quiet when things don’t go well in the morning. I don’t know if it’s because she’s reflecting on her behavior or mine or if she’s just mad at me, but the mornings when we’re the most rushed and I have no patience for her are the mornings she’s really quiet.

Of course I know it’s my fault. I can’t expect a four year-old to be able to handle the responsibility of getting to bed at a decent hour and waking early enough so that no one is rushed.  I can’t do those things myself and can hardly expect my child to do the same.  So today I said I was sorry.   Most bad mornings do end with apologies, but today my apology came with a promise that things will change.  No more late nights and no more rushed mornings.

And in one of those moments that fools me into thinking she can function as I expect her to, she replied, “We’ll do better next time.”

It’s now my job to make sure we do.

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