Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Roads

I have tried to make a concerted effort on this blog to avoid just plain old ranting for ranting's sake (my husband would like me to add that, for the record, I make no similar effort in our day-to-day existence).

But, this week, I feel I absolutely must make an exception to this rule in order to rant copiously in your general direction on the pressing topic that is - JENNIFER ANISTON.

Just in case there is anyone out there who doesn't know (hi mom!) Jennifer Aniston is an American actress of limitless success, endless beauty and unknowable wealth. She is also, as unlikely as it may seem, a woman whom one is instructed to feel deeply sorry for on a regular basis because she is not married and does not have any children.

This is of particular interest to me being that, at present, I am Jennifer Aniston's opposite (one could argue in more ways than one, but let's not dwell on that point). What I mean is that I am currently married and have two children but my career, for lack of a better term, is what they call "in the shitter".

So while Jennifer Aniston represents to our collective imaginations...

DOOR NUMBER ONE: The successful career gal with a life full of martinis, shopping sprees, and general fabulosity (see also: Sex and the City) who is nonetheless haunted by the lack of children and home

...I linger instead behind...

DOOR NUMBER TWO: The hapless stay-at-home mom whose college degree and once-lofty career ambitions are now buried beneath piles of laundry, reruns of The Oprah Winfrey show, and the ceaseless demands of her perma-needy offspring.

Now, of course, there thousands of shades of grey between these black and white options. It's just that you wouldn't always know it from examining how the choices that today's women face are generally portrayed and perceived.

As I watch my friends struggle with the work/mom conundrum, I am struck by how every road has its own challenges. Before I met David I LOVED having a career. I enjoyed making my own money and was proud of my successes. At the same time, I admit that as long as I was single, I always felt somewhat haunted by the thought that without a husband and kids my life was missing something, without which it was difficult to think of myself as truly happy.

Then I got married and had kids and my career hit a brick wall and, as much as I adored my children, the longer I stayed home with them the more I became obsessed with the idea that "real" life was starting to pass me by as I sat home changing diapers, watching Baby Einstein videos, and cleaning barf out of my once well-coiffed hair.

This was underscored for me the other day when a friend from my old life called, filled with news from the working world. At the end of her long diatribe on life at the office she paused briefly to say, "Oh, I'm sorry, I haven't even asked how you are?" I replied that I was really busy and she replied with genuine confusion, "Busy doing what?" I reminded her about my two kids under two and she mumbled, "Oh, right...that" (the unstated implication being, "I thought you meant something real.....").

And, of course, being made to feel like what you've chosen to do with your life is deeply lame stings in the extreme. But, in my more rational moments (which can be few and far between considering the amount of sleep I am getting these days) I am able to realize that I am now living a life for which I waited several decades. I found a great guy and have two adorable kiddos. Looking back, if I'd known this life was waiting here patiently for me, I think I would have relaxed and tried to enjoy my life as a single working girl more than I managed to.

Because the truth is that life has phases. I bet Jennifer Aniston is actually pretty darn happy with her awesome life, and maybe someday she'll have kids and that will make her happy in a different way. And in the moments when I'm not actively trying to pull a Steven Slater, grab two beers, and take off down the escape chute of my entire existence, I have to admit that my own life is fairly awesome as well. Perhaps I'll even manage to head back to work one of these days and hopefully find new and rewarding things down that path as well.

But for the time being I'm going to enjoy living the life that is right in front of me.

Except for the part where I get vomited on. I'm never going to enjoy that part.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Doctor's Orders

This week's offering is not so much a blog post as it is a Public Service Announcement.

So, you know how when you get a prescription (let's say, for example, from your OB/GYN to treat a burgeoning case of Mastits?) and (s)he tells you that you really need to finish the all of the pills in the bottle even if you start to feel better?

Yeah, well, it turns out that is REALLY useful advice and you should totally do it.

I, as they say in Hollywood, "went another way" last week after getting a 10-day course of medication. Instead, based on my vast array of medical knowledge gained from years of watching General Hospital episodes, I decided that since I was no longer symptomatic after 3 days on the stuff I probably didn't need to take any more. So, I stopped.

CUT TO TWO DAYS LATER and me looking pretty much indistinguishable from the girl from The Last Exorcism poster.

I spent several hours on Wednesday afternoon lying prone on the floor while my children played around my listless body (with Snoodie offering the occasional helpful commentary, "Mommy zzzzzz-zzzzzz!") before deciding it was time to pull the ripcord and call David at work. I managed to get out the phrase, "I can no longer care for our children" before collapsing again.

David rushed home and (having gained his own vast array of medical knowledge from watching guys get their ankles taped up during football games) felt my head and announced with an air of certainty, "I don't think you have a fever." I limped off to bed and left dinner and bath time in Daddy's capable hands while I proceeded to pray fervently for sweet death to take me, or at least to be allowed to slip into a mild coma until this thing passed.

By that night I was rapidly cycling between teeth chattering and sauna-worthy sweats, and I told David that I was pretty sure I did, in fact, have a fever. He eventually conceded that I did feel "a little warm" and we took my temperature. It was 103.2.

So we decided to called the advice nurse at the hospital. It was around 10pm when she informed me that she thought I should really come to the ER right away. I let her know that that I had two kids under two asleep at home and thus a multi-hour trip to the ER wasn't really looking too promising at the present moment. She explained that if I did not come in to the ER that would constitute "refusing medical advice" (a.k.a. lady, if you die it's on you - we tried to warn you). I tried to get some odds on how likely it was that I would actually expire if I didn't show up at the ER, but the nurse lady seemed fairly reticent on that score.

I told David that without a guarantee of certain death if I stayed in bed I wasn't going anywhere. I absolved him of responsibility for my care, pulled the covers up over my head and went back to sleep for the next two days (rising only briefly to drag myself out to the doctor where I was roundly scolded and set up with a new course of antibiotics).

So, as evidenced by the presence of this post, I managed to survive 'MASTITIS 2: The Return of Mastitis; The Terror Surfaces' but I'm telling you folks, it was NO picnic. So take my advice and take all the pills the nice doctor gives you, even if you feel better.

I promise you'll thank me later.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Well, folks, things are not rosy here in Dictator-ville.

I am currently doing battle with the breastfeeding-born bacterial infection known as MASTITIS. And it blows.

The fact that I developed said infection during the same week that I had to travel cross-country and husband-free with my two head-cold-ravaged children has lead me to the firm conclusion that in a past life I was likely either an overly-aggressive telemarketer or perhaps a professional puppy assassin, because NOTHING ELSE could possibly explain the epic level of personal misery I have been enduring.

As the great Madeline Kahn might say...

..."I'M TIRED."

You know how they say that Eskimos have over 40 words for snow? By this same logic I would suggest that new mothers should have something like 19,000 words for tired.

It starts with the 'I'm so pregnant there is no possible way I can get comfortable so I'll just lay here until I finally fall into a desperate sleep only to be woken ten minutes later by the overwhelming need to pee' tired. Then it evolves into the 'Oh My God I had the baby and I'm so elated/freaked/busy with feedings that I can't shut my eyes' tired. This is followed by the 'week after week of night feedings' tired (augmented, in my case, by the always lovely 'my older child is distressed by the arrival of the baby and chooses to express this by refusing to nap' tired).

At the risk of stating the obvious, I've always been someone who really liked my sleep. The moment I slip under 8 hours-a-night I transform, Incredible Hulk-like, into a monster of terrifying proportions. When David and I first started talking about having children I solemnly laid out my two greatest reservations about the idea:

NUMBER ONE: Having do deal with other people's vomit.

NUMBER TWO: The lack of sleep.

And, I have to say, I am a GENIUS, because both of these things are, in fact, UNBELIEVABLY TERRIBLE! Leaving behind the vomit stories for the moment (oh, don't worry, they'll be back!) the interrupted sleep, lack of sleep, and constant threat of not sleeping has been my greatest challenge of being a mother.

When my Dad was young he had some sort of surgery, the result of which was that he was not allowed to drink anything at all for several days. He remembers that when people would come to visit him he would just stare at them and think, "Why aren't you drinking? How could someone who was ALLOWED to drink just sit there not drinking!?!" It's a form of crazy that I can totally relate to these days because it is the same way that I feel about sleep.

I think about sleep all the time. Despite having never been all that great at math I find myself during night feedings able to calculate exactly how much sleep I am losing each time I glance at the digital clock on the nightstand. It has become an obsession that colors my perception of everything. When we were flying back last week I was looking through the in-flight magazine at an advertisement for some exotic resort. All I could think of while staring at the frolicking beachgoers was, "Those folks should head into that nice looking hotel there and get some rest, that place looks really nice. And why isn't anyone using those hammocks, they look so comfy?" These days when I hear stories of people beset by dread illnesses, my first reaction is often, "At least it sounds like they are getting to lie down a lot."

Look, I'm not asking for a whole lot of sympathy here. I get that it's not exactly a groundbreaking revelation that a woman with two children under two might be a tad bit fatigued. All I am trying to do is express the simple fact that I'm tired, and talk a little bit about sleep.....delicious, delicious sleep....

...because, folks, as you may have already deduced, it is all I can think about.