Good Mom, Bad Mom

Single moms are SuperHuman. I don’t say that because I am one. I say it because it’s indisputable FACT. Being a single mom means that we get to have all of the jobs. We get the good jobs, and the bad jobs related to parenting. In the days, weeks, and months preceding our becoming a mother, we make silent promises to our children and pledge our hearts and our protection to them for always.

We vow to provide unconditional love and support for all eternity. We promise to be there during their health, and the innumerable sicknesses. We take an oath to stay when our children are giving us all of the attitude. We commit to try not to lose it when the tear-producing overwhelming “I maked you a Vamentimes” (with seven pounds of pasta and four pounds of glue) gratitude arrives. We even remain steadfast and gracious, when the gratitude is forgotten. We do our best not to roll our eyes or swear when our children take us from richer to poorer. And then poorer. We hold their tiny hands through all of the joy and even the unavoidable, oh the unavoidable pain… We are on-call and available for all of the hours in all of the days from forever ago until never. We love our children from before time and until the end of infinitude.

Included in all of that is also those times we have to say “no”, or “not this time”, or “we’ll see”, and occasionally “not in this lifetime”. We are both the bearer of good and bad news. We get to plan, execute and surprise our Darlings with excitement and joy. But we also have the privilege of  crushing the dreams of a teenager hoping to go to a party where no parents are home, or to a sleepover at their boy/girlfriend’s house.

Being both the good mom and the bad mom can drive a woman crazy. We are often seen planning while talking to ourselves. We have to come up with a battle plan, and a back up plan. We are strong enough to give the bad news, deal with the mouthy backlash, and the clean up afterward. Sometimes we don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, or have to say “no” again. Sometimes we want to be the Hero that comes in and saves the day.

That need, to not always been seen as the hateful law enforcement of the home has led to moms everywhere changing the way they parent. We do our best to say “yes, yes, of course, always, and yes” as often as possible. When we have to say no, we try to make it as soft as possible. Now, that’s not to say that we let our kids slide on manners, or responsibilities — we just really creative and take an extra step or two to ensure that we the joy outweighs the pain.

My personal saving grace (at this financial juncture) is Dollar Tree. I can spend a few dollars, and my kids are through the roof happy for a brief moment in time. And, honestly, that’s all any of us need. Just a few moments to catch our breath, sneak a cookie, read an email, order something online, or just enjoy the non-argumentative silence. Our favorite thing to do these days is “have a party”. It consists of two things: blown up balloons, and music. Seriously. That’s all. I blow up the balloons (all 10 of them) and turn on 1970’s disco. And for the next sixteen minutes, my household is free of yelling, screaming, fighting, arguing and crying. We dance, we laugh, we love. The HappyHousehold trifecta!

At other times, I make a ton of tiny pancakes. Or cut the sandwiches/ into shapes. Top the brownies with marshmallows. Pinterest is a great place for HappyHousehold resources, but don’t dig too deep. You can easily lose your MamaMind comparing your current snapshot to another person’s highlight reel. Bath time fun is amplified by thousands by simply adding a one dollar ($1) 8-pack of glow-in-the-dark bracelets. Us Mamas have to find a way to sneak the good times in because it won’t be long before we are enforcing the rules again.

Single moms are strong, resilient, and resourceful. We take on the world, with our kids in tow. All the while we are finding teachable moments, creating new ways to spruce up leftovers, make Halloween costumes, preserve the Advent, give back to our community, support our Sisters in Christ and in Motherhood, while nursing a baby, going back to school, starting our own business(es) and working a full-time job. Everyone wants to be the Good Mom. But we aren’t just Good or Bad Moms — We. Are. Great.

http://www.everydaypeoplecartoons.com/cartoon/122

 

 

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no home training

people are rude. people are rude AF (as f***)! I apologize to my readers who are of a more conservative nature, but some things really get under my skin. rudeness and lack of “home training” is at the top of the list.

you know what home training is right? it’s basic! it’s almost innate… well it WAS innate. but now with the world closing the gap electronically there seems to be a severe lack of etiquette.

let me give you my first example: i am in a service office, the office of my cable company. there are 40+ people in here and it’s already after closing time. only three employees are still working. when i walked in i was 27th on the list. i’m currently #10. it’s the after-work hour and there are lots of tired and hungry children in here. there is a young lady (she’s really not a lady). she’s wearing slippers, pajama pants and certifiable bed head. she walked in on her phone and left without ever getting off the phone. the problem is that while on the phone she proceeded to get louder and louder (and louder) while explaining her very personal story and flagrantly cussing. she was no more than 2 feet away from someone’s child and she exercised zero filter, zero cooth, and zero maturity.

i cuss. mm hmm, it’s true. i know plenty of people that do. but I do my best to lower my voice and control myself in public. especially within whispering distance of someone’s child. like i said, i cuss. my kids have heard it and hear it. my toddlers have told me to stop. my nine year old (he’s ten now) has asked me to stop. but my occasional slips are nothing like the run-on sentence of expletives that girl was spewing.

my next observance was of the greeter. this was my second time at this office and my second time seeing him. while polite, he seemed to be low-key racially profiling the customers. for the Hispanic people that came in behind me, he greeted them in Spanish. with me he was rather generic. with the young Hispanic couple that was there before me he continued to call the guy “homie”; and for the two black guys that came in three minutes before closing he only referred to them as “dawg”. hmmmm. is this the 2017 approach to customer service? poor choice if you ask me. poor on his part, but much poorer on the part of his supervisor, and manager.

my next observance was literally set out before me. i didn’t ask or prompt anyone for it:

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what has to be said about this? anything? anything at all…?

someone was eating (i’m going to guess that this is stolen fried chicken from the deli), while shopping, and was just flabbergasted by the distance to the nearest trash can so they just laid their partially eaten fried chicken drumstick on top of this box… and they also chose not to purchase the two overturned greeting cards (probably because of the chicken grease stains would be my guess). i mean, seriously.

what is this the result of? why are people so flagrantly disrespectful to everything?

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if anything is clear, it’s that Walmart should really tighten up their security.

how many people are walking around eating chicken, and donuts, and opening packages of …. peanut M&Ms? teddy grahams? or whatever that piece of yellow packaging belonged to. trust me when i tell you that i understand there are some families that aren’t able to afford much. perhaps this is the result of a food-poor residence and one too many cries of “mama, i’m hungry”. my observance is simply of the trash left around. it’s a sad world that we live in when there isn’t enough food to go around, but at the same time a stale donut can be discarded on the nearest shelf. you don’t have to be a pig. you just don’t.

it’s not just the fabulous shelves of Walmart that are covered with litter. this is a photo just outside my front door.


it looks like this all of the time. someone in the complex has a “store” in their apartment. they furnish the kids with all sorts of “hot chips” and “poppers”. in other words; unadulterated and unlimited amounts of sodium, MSG, food coloring, food dye, hydrogenated this and that, a plethora of preservatives and artificial flavors, and sweeteners and the ever present HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP. the end result (besides the overweight, hyperactive, pre-diabetic juvenile population) is all of this trash where trash shouldn’t be. i’ve complained. it didn’t help. NOT ONE SINGLE BIT.

i got an evil stare in a parking lot yesterday because the other driver was backing up and i guess they got offended that i didn’t just readily stop for them … as they were in the wrong. i’ll stop, i’ll wait — because you’ve clearly got more important business than i do. i got a strange vibe from the lady in front of me in the grocery store because i moved the divider that she’d placed between her groceries and mine. really? you’re mad because i moved the divider closer to your food? ok. weird, but ok.

i could go on, but i think you get the picture. there’s entirely too much selfishness in this world. everyone just droning on about their own lives and not showing an ounce of care, concern, or love for their neighbor, their neighborhood, or their environment. it makes me sad. it’s always made me sad, but it weighs heavy on me as a mother. i can only hope that my children will pay attention to my words, my actions, and my prayers that the world changes for the better — and that it starts with us.

memories to last a lifetime

my son went to summer camp. he returned today after five whole days and nights away. this was his third time attending (last summer, and this past winter) with our church. he had such a wonderful time. he's sitting on the couch reminiscing and researching some of the songs he heard and shared with his camp family. he shed a tear (a huge alligator tear) for the friends that he made, the times they shared, and for the overwhelming good time.

i explained that his feelings were normal and a sign that camp did everything it was supposed to do. these are memories that he won't ever lose or forget. camp is a memory that lives in perpetuity. it lingers on and on always bringing a smile.

we are fortunate enough to live just a half hour away from the mountains and the grand hospitality of Forest Home. the staff and facilities are top notch and geared to make a ten year old boy wish for camp — just minutes after having arrived home.

the three pictures above are courtesy of the Forest Home site. they do not allow electronic devices or phone calls (unless an emergency of course), which allows the kids to completely disconnect and take in the beauty of the world around them. the camp is faith focused and shifts the children's understanding of Our Savior Jesus Christ into a deeper yearning and learning. my son is already discussing his future as a counselor.

what more could a mama ask for? his prescription medication was loaded electronically into their site and administered daily by a nurse. their app: Forest Home Adventure Guide allowed me to receive updates; including when medications were administered, the plan for the day, the focus of the lesson shared, and my son's "camp store balance" (as cash is not accepted).

a faith based focused dedication on the Majesty of the Lord!! three allergy-free meals a day. mandatory hydration is required at all meals (drink two glasses of water). a safe yurt-like structure to share with his camp mates. a camp store in which to spend (his whole $15) frivolously. clean and accessible restrooms and showers. and all of the chaperoned and safe fun a ten year old can handle for six days. i am forever in debt to our church Immanuel Baptist, our children's ministry director, numerous dedicated chaperones, and the capable and trustworthy staff of Forest Home.


that picture and the gravity-defying toss are courtesy of our children's ministry director: Jaime and our church orchestra leader/director: Mr. Mike. thank you!

NoParent

CoParenting: sometimes referred to as cooperative, parallel parenting, or even platonic parenting. Simply stated: it’s when you and the other parent work together and devise a plan and support each other for the good of the child(ren). You maintain open lines of communication, make agreements, and involve the other parent in decision-making, educational goals, and disciplinary action — even though you’re no longer in a personal loving relationship. Your goal is to parent your child(ren) together; to the best of your abilities even though you aren’t “together”. Nothing between you and the other parent compares or can get in the way of the shared love, guidance, and hopefulness that you both have for the child(ren) you share.

It is extremely disheartening to discover that anyone wouldn’t want the joy and pain inherent to raising a child. Alas, not everyone was meant to be a parent. You can love a child, entertain a child, spoil, enjoy, and care for a child and STILL not be parenting material. How can you parent your child with a person that has no interest in the child, no interest in being a parent to the child, or participating in the love, growth, guidance and success of the child? How can you agree to anything when you can’t stand to look at, be near, or communicate with the other person? How does one CoParent with a non-parent?

Do it yourself, you say? Yes. A noble concept, indeed. But often times; easier said than done. The African proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” is far from cliché. It really does take a village. The support system required to raise children is vast. And if you’re trying to man the stations alone; the vastness multiplies and gathers levels of difficulty, confusion, and exhaustion along the way. Quadruple that factor every time another child is brought into the mix. Single parenting is not for the weak, faint of heart, or challenge-challenged. You not only have to be strong, you have to be knock-down drag-out resilient. You have to take the punch after the punch and just keep swimming. When you parent alone, there’s no down time. There’s no time to feel sorry for yourself or wallow in any type of self-pity or grief. Your kids need you, ALL. OF. THE. TIME.

I have learned some hard parenting lessons (like everything I just mentioned) the very hardest way: trial and error (more error, than trial). I have struggled with all of the feelings and emotions that come with first time motherhood, single motherhood, and failed motherhood. I have felt blessed, elated, happy, sad, exhausted, doubtful, confused, amazed, anxious… you get the picture. Parenting brings out a person’s instincts, intuition and emotions that are complex, deep, and strong. Most of us need that village to help us cope with what goes on inside of us; much less the laundry, dishes, and cleanup. We need to hear that we are doing a good job and that we haven’t screwed up our kids for all time.We need someone there, even when we are trying to do it all alone. It is paramount that you understand that single parenting means that you are: mother, father, good cop, bad cop, disciplinarian, nurse, doctor, playmate, therapist, chef, maid, and barber. You are it. You are all that there is and you cannot take that job lightly.

We also need those village horror stories. We don’t necessarily need to hear someone’s pain and get relief from it. More so, we need to hear and know that someone can survive an absentee parent and still be loving. Or that someone else survived an abusive parent and can have and maintain a safe and loving relationship. We need to witness someone crawling out of the shadow of their parent’s depression, obsession, or mental illness to still turn into successful people. We just need to know that even though we’ve made mistakes, our kids still have every loving chance on the planet to be the people who God intended for them to be. We always need to be reminded that they are here for their purpose and not to fulfill the dreams and expectations we once had for ourselves. We must remember that we are ushers; guides — and our job is to “teach them well and let them lead the way” (thanks, Whitney).

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Every person walking down the street has an opinion on how to raise kids. They give you unwarranted advice and tips that they’ve never practiced but heard so many times they just pretend it’s the gospel truth. However, every child is different, just as every parent is different. Sometimes the personality of the child is so prominent that you can see it before they are born. Their stubbornness and tenacity leach out of their mother’s womb the way hot grease dripping from a piece of fried chicken seeps into a napkin. No one can parent your child better than you. God gave you that child, and He would not expect anything from you that you didn’t have the talent and resources to provide. Don’t ever let anyone tell you differently.

We all make mistakes. We make mistakes in every way every day. But if you accept the position and title of parent (I say “accept” because there are a large number of persons in the world who think that birthing a child is a CHOICE and not a God-given duty and BLESSING), you damn sure better learn from your mistakes and up your game! Get better. DO NOT GIVE UP ON YOUR CHILDREN. Do not. As with anything, there are always situations and exceptions to the rule, but those instances have to be examined very carefully when your children are involved. Children seek their parents for support and guidance in virtually all things. Don’t be the parent that turns your back or the one that requires that your child raise and support you. Know your role. Admit your wrongs, polish your method, and do the best you can — today and always.

Parenting is a sacrifice. There’s no way around it. You will sacrifice your body, your memory, your breasts (you know, if you’re a woman), your sleep… oh the sleep; I miss it so much. You sacrifice your friendships, work relationships, and every party you ever thought you’d throw or attend. AND IT’S WORTH EVERY BIT OF IT. Every shoulder covered in vomit, shirt that’s been sneezed on, pinky finger that’s plucked a tiny booger… it’s worth it. Every night that’s spent sleepless, pacing, worried, and scared because you’re not sure you’re doing it right… it’s worth it. Children are worth the battle. Children are worth the dreams, nightmares, scars, and adventures. They are miniature funnier cuter replicas of you and they will never cease to amaze you.

Some people know in their hearts that they don’t want children and they make a concerted effort to maintain a childless status. There are others, who don’t consider being a parent until someone says “my period is late” and they still manage to be fervent, and competent in the parenting arena. And then there are the others… the ones who just don’t. Nothing sways them from their perch atop the “I don’t wanna” soapbox. They use any and every excuse, if they stick around long enough to be questioned. They are children, in adult bodies who’ve created a child but somehow managed to deliver themselves from the parenting role. And nothing and no one can make them change their mind. Not even their child. They’re missing out, but it doesn’t matter to them. It only matters to the child who has to learn to deal. Most of those kids are better off without the person so selfish as to not give up any piece of themselves for their son or daughter. The child learns early on that not everyone can be trusted or believed in.. and that even a parent can let you down.

How do you succeed; alone, in a job that was meant for two?? I can only tell you how I try to manage: I do what I can myself, and I try to utilize my village. I keep on keepin’ on. You should too. You just press on and do everything you can and everything you need to raise that child as successfully as possible. (While simultaneously harboring no ill will, hatred or bad wishes against that other non-existent parent). You do your best to be both parents, the good and bad cops, and you do it with a smile. The child needs every effort, every ability, and every bit of your loving care to fill in those gaps. I am nowhere near perfect. At times, I doubt that I am even “good”. I do my best and hope that each day I get better. I pray that everyday my kids grow and learn and find happiness in their home and in my heart. I have plenty of pity parties and occasionally find myself filled with doubt and fear, but I don’t let it stop me from continuing to do my job as Mother.

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Margo (L), Miles (M), and Kenneth (R).

I am proud to be someone’s mother. Three someones to be exact. I revel in their hugs and kisses; and find the ultimate joy in their devouring anything homemade. I enjoy knowing that they look for me when they are excited, hungry, or scared; because they know that I can provide support, food, or comfort. i get a warm fuzzy feeling when they demand “reading and prayers” before bedtime. Knowing that my kisses provide more relief than a band-aid makes me smile. And feeling my kids climb into my bed because they want to cuddle makes my heart sing. I have made mistakes, and don’t claim to be anything other than a parent doing her best; but I’m here and I try. I AM HERE, AND I TRY.

Allergic to Allergies

My son has every allergy you can imagine. It’s a lot of work. He went into anaphylactic shock three times before the age of three. He has sneezed more and produced more mucus than the rest of my entire family put together. And while that fact is funny, it is no laughing matter. As exhausting as it is for me, I can only imagine how incredibly deflating and tiresome it is for him. He’s proven to be quite a trooper and is famous to my friends and fans as SuperBoy. Boisterous you think? No. let me explain.

Kenneth was born at approximately forty weeks to the day. He came out with a push and a half. He was more than eight pounds, almost two feet long, and had a faint mustache. At three months old, he would scream after every bath. I thought he didn’t like to be nudey in the breeze. No, he had eczema, and the lavender bath soap and lotion that I was using was torturing him. I didn’t know until one night when I only had cocoa butter at my disposal. After smoothing it over his little man body, not only was he not screaming, he was relaxed and comfortable. His skin needed that moisture and oil and he was pleased. At his next check up the doctor said: eczema. Eczema? Ok, I can handle that. No dyes or perfumes and plenty of cocoa butter. CHECK!

He trucked on through those next few months without incident. His skin was soft and smooth and his hair was super-curly-awesome! He was handsome and happy. I nursed Kenneth for seven months and when I switched to formula, a different set of problems started; sneezing, coughing, runny nose, congestion. So. Much. Congestion. After about a month of formula, Kenneth was transported by ambulance to the hospital. It was Christmas Eve. Pneumonia; the doctor said.

I watched as my infant child was held down by four adult women and then given an IV. I stood by as he was wrapped in towels and had his nose suctioned to remove the excess of mucus. I was witness to him receiving breathing treatment after breathing treatment after breathing treatment. And he still struggled to breathe. We spent his first Christmas in the hospital, sharing a twin sized hospital bed and slept at a 30-degree incline. I was broke, had no prepaid minutes on my phone, no charger for my phone and no change of clothes. At the time, I received a few visitors and I received a pair of fuzzy pajamas and socks. i also received a beautiful painted glass tile that doubled as a comforting nightlight. It was a really rough time and those few items helped me to feel at ease trying to help him feel at ease.

When we were finally released from the hospital, I went home and cried. Kenneth was almost back to himself, but I was exhausted. I called friends to see if someone could come and watch him while i tried to nap, but i wasn’t that lucky. i cried more. It took almost two weeks for his arm to heal from the adult-sized IV needle that was jammed into it. The bitch nurse that did so laughed at me for crying while i watched her shove a needle the size of a McDonald’s straw into his arm. She smirked and said “are you going to be alright?” and then smiled at the other nurse that was helping to hold my child down. I wanted to punch them both in the face. I will never forget her rude, inconsiderate, wrinkly mug. I hope i see her another day so i can tell her just how ridiculous and subpar she was during such a sensitive and traumatic moment in our lives.

Pneumonia, huh? It came on so suddenly. He hadn’t been sick or outside. It was December but it wasn’t cold (I mean, this is Southern California). But ok. Pneumonia, I guess. No dairy for a few days, no exposure to the cold, keep him hydrated and take all of his medicine. Got it. Pneumonia? We can handle it! CHECK!

Kenneth returned to the hospital emergency room just two months later. This time they said bronchitis. Bronchitis? Isn’t that one symptom shy of pneumonia? Good grief. But ok. We didn’t stay. I refused to be checked in or admitted. We got our diagnosis, our prescription and went home.

This became a cycle that went on for about two years. Kenneth was either at the doctor, or at urgent care. There were also a few emergency room visits. He was transported by ambulance again, when he was about four. We’d actually gone to the doctor, but his blood oxygen was so low that she called 911. Devastating.

Every episode was a bout of coughing, sneezing, snotting, choking, and pure misery. Sometimes his eyes would just scream “help me!” It was just murderous to watch. I always felt like I’d done something wrong; done something to him. I wondered if I’d inadvertently made him sick. But how, how do you give someone bronchitis or pneumonia? What set of skills do you need to have to impart such a condition? I felt guilty, and like an outsider. I had to stand back, step out-of-the-way, and watch other people care for my son.

I didn’t know what I was in store for. I had no knowledge of food allergies or their impact and effect on my infant/toddler child. I spent days, nights, and weeks watching my son struggle to breathe. He would not eat because he couldn’t breathe and there was just so much mucus that every swallow would lead to choking. He was miserable and I was too, twelve times as much. No one wants to see their child suffer through any kind of illness. It makes us parents feel helpless and ineffectual. We are the care providers and we are outdone and undone by a “bug”, a flu, a pneumonia. It sucks.

As time went on, Kenneth’s flare-ups would become (what I thought was) somewhat predictable. But then there were also times that they came on suddenly and unexpected. It was a life-or-death guessing game. Russian roulette… with an unknown weapon that had a hair-sensitive trigger. Every time I thought I knew what was going on, something would pull that trigger and I’d be back to square one. At some point the pediatrician said that Kenneth had asthma. Just “asthma”. Did I mention that he was diagnosed with eczema at just three months old? Yeah, so there was that, and now the asthma. Inhalers! Nebulizer! no cold, no wind, no dust, no pets!! asthma? CHECK!

The worst part of any and all of this was watching my son have to deal and adjust. He received shots, syrups, chewables, breathing treatments, inhalers, and steroids. STEROIDS! You know the culprit: prednisone! awful stuff. I mean, an absolute God-send in the way that it targeted his swollen bronchial tubes and allowed him to breathe. but HORRID in the way that it turned him into an emotionally unstable toddler HULK! He was bouncing off walls one minute, crying the next, and anywhere in between at all times. One morning, I had to get him ready for our morning commute. At that time, I just got him dressed and put him in the car. He never woke. But one fine morning, he did wake; and he cried and cried and cried. I knew it was the prednisone taking hold of his emotions. He was inconsolable and it ripped my heart out. So, considering all that he had been through and was going through, I had to decide if I should actually give him the prescribed medicine that he needed to make him better: TO HELP HIM BREATHE. Or I had to watch him struggle with every breath. Whatta crock!

I called the pediatrician and described what happened. Kenneth was prescribed an alternate course of medication that had zero to no effect and nearly had us back at he hospital the next week. Again, I realized the gravity of this drug induced torture upon my child. Kenneth became so disagreeable and defiant. And moments later he would be crying. To make matters worse, I had to leave him at childcare on some days knowing that his heart was broken and that he didn’t feel good. I really don’t know how I kept a job through those years.

During all of these bouts of asthma and eczema flare ups, my son would have allergic reactions to particular foods. At almost 3, he nearly died from exposure to peanuts. And that was the THIRD time that he’d been in anaphylactic shock. I have no idea what was the cause of the first two situations. He would vomit when he ate eggs, wheeze when he ate marshmallows, and all dairy products would descend upon his sinuses and create a constant and steady congestion that would surely lead to urgent care. I missed hours, days, and weeks of work. I spent many nights watching him, holding him, and administering medication at all hours of the night. I was tired for me and exhausted for him.

We have come a long way, but we didn’t do it alone. Kenneth is nine years old now. He is tall for his age, and slender for his size. He destroys a pair of shoes every two months and could eat his weight in pizza and ice cream. He spends his spare moments drawing, reading, chasing Pokemon, and doing those things that classify nine-year olds as exactly that. It took years for us to get to a point where he could just live his life comfortably. I blogged about her some time ago, but his health and well-being is due in part to our pulmonologist. She prescribed a strict regimen of maintenance medication that makes it possible for him to run, jump, and ride bikes without a hospital trip. He still has flare ups and complications now and again, but it’s nothing that we can’t handle.

I joke that “I’m and untrained, unlicensed, unrecognized respiratory therapist”. But it’s the God’s honest truth. Kenneth went to camp this past summer — for a whole week! The thought of sending him away gave me anxiety. I had to load his medical history and medication profile into the camp’s online registry. It seemed arduous at first, but I simply sent the prescribed medications in their proper containers with their pharmacy labels and all things went as flawless as if I’d been there myself. His school, our church, and camp are all very considerate and helpful. Our camp liaison returned with kudos from the nurse stating “he was awesome”. He didn’t have any flare ups while camping. 🙂

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Photo courtesy of Forest Home Christian Camp: The Village Summer Camp 2016

I belong to and monitor several support sites: Food Allergy Research and Education, Kids with Food Allergies, and suggest that everyone support and protect their allergy sufferers with awesome products like the ones available at AllerMates.

My twins had shown some food sensitivities in their early days, but luckily it appears they’ve dodged that bullet. They just turned three and we can have them tested to know for sure. While I certainly want to know if they have any allergies and avoid all near-death experiences, I dread the blood drawing and the possible bad news. I’ll credit their mostly organic diet for their improved health. Our household is predominantly organic, and we do our best to avoid those dangerous agribusiness foods like: high fructose corn syrup, food dye, food color, and most preservatives. I am certainly not perfect at any of that, but each effort and experience is worth it to know that my kids won’t glow in the dark next week.

As the title states, I am allergic to allergies. And I mean that. I myself have airborne allergies and what appears to be a sensitivity to shellfish. I also battle a mild case of seasonal eczema. But I consider myself armed and dangerous when it comes to food allergies, asthma, and eczema. I have a wealth of knowledge, a library of pamphlets, and assorted literature, and have spent a MINT on prescriptions, over the counter, and other support products to aid my ailing child(ren). I know my  children’s medical history word-for-word by heart. I have their medical profiles and current medications loaded into my telephone and have established heartfelt personal relationships with their doctors, nurses, and specialists. I hope you’ll do the same should you find yourself in this predicament. You’ll thank me later.

The Honor Of Motherhood

I was honored with a request to write a dedication for Mother’s Day. My dear friend, Armina, chose me to provide her with something special to share with her congregation as they celebrate mothers and honor grandmothers with a small token of appreciation (a small change purse). This is what I wrote for her:

Jeremiah 1:5
“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb. Before you were born I set you apart and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.”

“Before we were born, before we were carried, before we were conceived, God made us into exactly who He wanted us to be. He chose every part of us and placed within us everything we need to be exactly who He wants us to be. He carefully picked our features, our intricacies, our personalities – and wove us together with His perfect hand. And then, as the gifts that we are, He presented us to our Mothers. Women, also born of His design, carefully chosen and picked to care for and nurture us in the way He wants and in the way that only She can. Born a child, grown into a woman, honored with Motherhood. From the day we conceive until the day we die, we are Mothers, forever CHANGED by the presence of our children.”

To my family, friends, fans and Facebookers, please, Enjoy your Special Day!

I shared my words with my Facebook world as well. At least four people shared my sentiment with their Facebook world, making the sharing downright exponential! How exciting, right? And in keeping with true BSB fashion, I’ve decided to turn those thoughts there into a post here.

Motherhood is a state, a condition, a way of life… and it cannot ever be undone. For the women that carry and birth their children, for the women that adopt or foster their children, for the women who have loved and lost their children — motherhood remains. It is a constant unwavering force that turns an individual into a family. For once a mother is born, a mother she will stay.

Motherhood is instinctual, primal. It comes from an inexplicably deep place in a woman’s soul. A mother cannot hear a baby cry, see a child injured, or even hear the call of “mommy?” without reacting. She thinks of the children before thinking of herself. She sacrifices her everything for their everything. The force of a mother is immeasurably intense and sincere.

Mothers need no rewards. They don’t need trophies, certificates or awards. Their joy comes in the smiles of their little ones. Smiles are currency in a mothers heart. Hugs, kisses and “I Love Yous” are the precious metals and jewels of the mother-child relationship! A spark is ignited every time a mother has eye contact with her IttyBit. It’s unlike any other eye contact on the planet and it resonates in her soul.

Whether she’s near or far, involved or estranged, she will always be your mother. She made you, made sacrifices for you and her joy comes from watching you grow and remembering when you were her baby. She cherishes you.

On this day, we celebrate our mothers. Those that gave birth to us, those that raised us, those that disciplined and praised us. We celebrate the women in our lives for whom without…we’d be nothing. Sometimes it’s one person, and other times it’s a whole family of women. Sometimes related, sometimes not.

However you choose to celebrate her, she will appreciate it. It can be a sincere heartfelt hug, macaroni art, construction paper flowers, vacuuming, perfume, jewelry, brunch, a spa day — whatever it is, she will love it. Do you know why? Because it came from you. Her joy is you. You make her happy. You are her endless source of Happiness and Inspiration.

Happy Mother’s Day! To my family, friends, fans and the like. Please smother your favorite lady with love, kindness and a little macaroni art.

the sectioning of my cesarean

before i tell you the story of how my twin darlings were ushered into the world, let me share with you my initial observations as i look back on the situation. there’s no pop quiz at the end, but these observations will give you insight into my mind-frame and disposition as i became a mother for the second time…and just two minutes later for the third.

obstetric observations:
– cold arctic breeze
– seafoam green tile
– sterile silver objects and tools
– a padded crucifix
– worker bees darting about donning shamrock green scrubs, cafeteria lady shower caps, and bird flu face masks
– THIS IS NOT WHAT I WANTED! i wanted contractions, dilating, effacing, water breaking, breathing, pushing, screaming labor! i didn’t want surgery. boooooooooo!!!
– fear. unfathomable i-am-not-prepared-for-this fear

and so…
a c-section is considered “major surgery”. looking back, i can’t say that i actually realized that before being wheeled into an operating room. it was quite the experience! i’d hate to scare anyone or bias someone’s opinion, but it was downright unnerving. it gives me a little anxiety just to reflect on it. but, the outcome was phenomenal, and i’d like to share our story.

full term pregnancy is considered forty weeks. that’s from egg-to-sperm conception to uterine eviction. where folks got “nine months” from is a mystery to me. gestation is almost ten loooong months, and a woman feels it. almost all women hit a wall around thirty two weeks. our bodies have been through the ringer. we’ve braved and survived trimesters one and two and as we round third base headed into home — we are exhausted. thirty-six weeks is considered safe. an infant is fully formed, inside and out, and simply gains weight for the remaining weeks. for those of us lucky enough to be blessed with multiple gestations (twins, triplets, etc) it is estimated that three weeks be subtracted from the estimated delivery date for each additional baby. in my case, my actual due date was december 02, my predicted due date (subtracting three weeks for the additional baby) was november 11, and my doctor advised that i would not be allowed to carry past thirty eight weeks, which was november 18. the more babies, the less room, and the more opportunity for complications. no bueno.

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snipets from my BabyBump app.

i saw my doctor on the morning of the eighteenth. nothing life changing (or date changing) was taking place. my daughter, Margo (known as baby A) was still breech. she was actually sideways (transverse) and was laying inside my pelvis. my csection was scheduled for the twentieth at nine. i left the doctor, went home, had a meltdown, and set out on a massive cleaning mission. if you’ll recall, this (csection) was not what i wanted. it was not the plan i’d contemplated and devised all these many long months. i wanted to deny it. reject it. but i knew in my mind that it was a necessary evil used solely for the purpose of bringing two tiny lives into the world — hopefully problem free. my logic accepted, but my heart and soul were in denial.

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taken by my coworker. if i recall correctly, from left to right:
13 weeks, 20 weeks, and 27 weeks.

the wee hours of the twentieth came. i zipped my hospital bag, finished the dishes, cleaned the kitchen and eventually went to bed. i woke just three hours later. i was elated, anxious, scared, worried, excited and nervous. i showered, tied my hair up and dressed for the occasion:

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a gift from Tiffany. this shirt turned us into celebrities. everyone wanted to know if i was REALLY having twins, if they were REALLY a boy and a girl, and if they could take a picture.

just after sun up, i woke my son, prepared him for his school day and waited (extremely impatiently) for danielle to pick us up. we loaded up, dropped off my first born and headed for the hospital. i met my expectancy entourage (the twins’s dad and oldest siblings) in labor and delivery. as well, prayer warrior #1 mz. Imelda came and prayed with me just as the whirlwind of procedures began.

undress completely. put this on. opening towards the back. put your stuff in here. sit down. do you have good veins? what’s your name? what’s your date of birth? who’s here with you? we are going to do this, this, and this. then we will go over here and do this. let’s see. oops. i’m sorry. oops. i’m sorry. uh oh. lemme get someone else. ok. hi. oops. i’m sorry. uhhhhh….that’s not good. lemme try again. yes? no. uh oh. oops. i’m sorry. let me get someone else. ok. hi. oooohhhhh. um, ok. sorry sorry sorry. ok, we got it.

it took three people and at least seven needle pricks to get ONE i.v. into my arm. the bruises that occurred from the attempts lasted for at least a month. once the i.v. was in, the green light was given and every little methodical tiny detail was underway. i bid danielle g’bye, surrendered my phone (re.luc.tant.ly!), and was whisked away.

as i lay on the hospital bed, slowly being wheeled away, i lost the warm fuzzy and almost comfortable feeling i had in the pre-op room. anxiety stomped into my heart and i realized that there was a lot more going on than i was prepared to deal with. we turned a corner, turned another corner and approached a doorway. wait. hold the phone. are we going IN THERE? in therrrrrre?

ohSWEETlordBABYjesusSONofGODinHEAVENpleaseNO!

the doorway led to the operating room. a brisk sixty degree breeze came from there. somewhere in my unconscious mind i heard “it’s cold to control the germs”. (*shrug* that’s the nerd in me). seafoam green tile and sterile silver equipment lured my eyesight. there were a few people in there buzzing about. each of them glanced at me and i instantly began to cry. i’m certain i began to shake my head and whisper “no no no” under my breath. if i had been one iota more coherent instead of scared i would have put my feet up and held my hands out, in animated cartoon fashion, to deter my entering THAT room. tears. big whopping alligator tears and a belly shaking sob. sob sob sob.

what’s the matter? is she ok? are you ok? what’s going on? scared? are you alone? ok, we’ll get him. are you ok? are you sure? just scared? you’ll be fine. ok, we’ll get him. we need a second i.v. we are going to do this this and this. ok? ok? are you ok, honey? let’s get started. ok, we’ll get him. a poke. a big bee sting. a burning sensation. lift your leg. lift your leg. help her. hurry.

within ten minutes, i was strapped to a padded crucifix, affixed with a second i.v., given a spinal tap (the bee sting, burning sensation of a pain blocker that numbs you from the boobies down), gently pushed over (because i was mentally numb and then my body went numb and i didn’t move fast enough) and prepped for surgery. i cried the whole time.

the worker bees buzzed about and my nurse; julie said:

we have to count the instruments. you’re going to hear some loud tapping of metal objects together and counting. don’t be alarmed.

shitcrap. don’t be alarmed? that was one of the most unnerving portions of the whole experience. knowing they were counting instruments because someone somewhere had left something inside of someone that wasn’t supposed to be there. ugh. CLINK! one. CLINK! two. CLINK! three. better safe than sorry, i suppose.

soon i saw the familiar eyes of my doctor. he grabbed my hand and greeted me with his ever so familiar “hello dear”. i cried harder. he assured me that everything was going to be fine, move along as scheduled, and within moments i would be holding my sweet babies. he was right. the busy bees put up a curtain at my bust line. the only thing i could see was directly above my head or to either side. WonderTwinDad was finally escorted into the room. he grabbed my hand, kissed my forehead and cheek, shushed me, and took his place at my side. he never let me go.

my doctor inquired about what i could feel and not feel. he asked me if i could move my legs. you bet i can! see? did you see that? ummmm, no. i was certain i was dancing a jig. he was certain i was completely numb and my legs were as heavy as two redwoods plucked out of yellowstone national park. boom! surgery began. there’s something “out of body” about being operated on. i was numb, but awake and alert. i developed a sort of tunnel vision and stared only at the ceiling and at the eyes and hands of the man with whom these miracles were made. without the feelings associated with pain and nerves, one only gets a pulling and tugging sensation. it’s very surreal.

it’s hard to imagine being pregnant for thirty eight weeks and then having the children without the involved birthing. for the most part, my job was done. i arrived. everything from that point forward was out of my control. an incision was made, and the babies were retrieved from within my body. WonderTwinDad said “i see a tiny foot”. i cried. first born was Margo. baby A. they showed her over the curtain but my head was turned and i didn’t get to see her. it was 09:37am. just two minutes later, a tiny little man made his debut over the curtain. Miles. baby B. it was 09:39am. and there … within two minutes, my motherhood had tripled.

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a few moments passed. the worker bees were busy. i know they were putting me back together, but i was oblivious to what was actually being done. i soon heard “mom, here’s baby B for skin-to-skin”. just then, a female nurse laid the tiniest baby boy upon my chest. he was wearing a diaper and a beanie. i was stunned. this little person had been inside me for months and now, finally, i was able to hold him. the nurse reappeared and soon whisked him away. i questioned “where’s the girl? where’s my daughter?” she was in the nursery with the NICU team. she hadn’t wanted to cry and they needed to “stimulate” her. 😦

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moments later i was stitched and taped up and ready to move. within a blink i was in a recovery suite. a huge room all to myself. where’s my daughter? where’s the girl? were my only thoughts. upon setting the brake, WonderTwinDad and the SuperSiblings arrived. they’d been admiring the babies through the nursery window. is she there? did you see her? is she ok? WTDad assured me that all was well. moments later the WonderTwins were wheeled in. the nurse asked “are you going to breastfeed? who would you like first?” i was giddy! my babies! my babies! MY BABIES WERE HERE!!! “give her the girl, she hasn’t seen her yet” said WTDad.

Margo was laid in my arms and i said “OHmyGODshesSOprettyyyyyyyy”. within minutes, i was breastfeeding both babies and that scaredy-fraidy-cat-sissy-lala feeling was gone.

let me give you the vitals:
Baby A: Margo Rae; 6lbs 5ozs, 19.5″ long, born at 09:37am
Baby B: Miles Raymond; 5lbs 5ozs, 18.75″ long, born at 09:39am.

you might consider me a little biased, but i think they are perfect. newborn babies come into the world with their heartbeats and not much more. as the hours pass, you find yourself in awe of their majesty. their tiny bodies and miniature everythings woo you into a state of bliss. i was in a full fledged newborn induced coma. this thing, this surgery was not my plan, but who cares, right? look what i get out of it.

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