Thursday, November 11, 2010

Rounding the Bend...

I'm officially past the halfway mark at six months pregnant.

People now feel completely comfortable approaching me and asking when I'm due. It's not a question of if I am pregnant now, it's a question of "Is this lady going to drop a kid on the floor at any point while I'm checking out her groceries." Yes, I am THAT big. Just ask my vagina and asshole. They know best because each morning when I go to get out of bed, they scream at me, "You're going to stand up? Right now? FUUUUCK YOUUUUUU!"

i've also taken to telling people my due date is February instead of March just to mitigate some of the shock of hearing that I'm not due, like, tomorrow. I'm officially due March 8, but I'm truly shooting for 36 weeks at February 8.

And so, as I comfort my asshole and vagina, telling them not to worry so much and that everything is going to be just fine, I'm also resigning myself to the fact that pants are not in my future for the next three months. Not even maternity ones. My belly is sitting so low this time that the pesky seam on maternity pants (right around the hip area that separates the panel stretching from your pelvis to right under your tits, cuts off circulation. Not comfy. And the low-slung ones? No way. I might as well, put a rubberband around my hips.

So, what do I wear? Dresses, leggings, maternity tights. I'm making the best of it, but today for example, my body is covered entirely in sweater material. My tights are cable knit. My sweater is wool. I half expect my kids to start playing house with me like I'm one of their homemade-looking-but-Mommy-really-bought-you-at-the-store-for-way-too-much-money stuffed animals made out knit material.

On that note, I'm off to dive into the very last of my kids' Halloween candy. Toodles...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

makin' the most of the bump on halloween...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Didn't Know Anyone Was Actually Reading...

So, I've been served. Legally.

Yes, folks, the estate of C.S. Lewis (you know, the guy who wrote Chronicles of Narnia. Get it?) has issued a nasty gram against my little blog. Yes, my little blog.

When I think about people who see this blog I picture three people -- and I know all of them. I would say anything in this blog to them over the phone any day of the week.

But, the man he see-eth and he heareth. And he wants me to stop taking his name in vain. So, it is with a heavy heart that I must abandon the blog name "Chronicles of Momnia." That's where you come in...I need ideas for a new name...

The best I can come up with is "C.S. Lewis Sucks Balls," but that really doesn't have much to do with marriage or motherhood or me now does it?

Bring it...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


So, the first day of preschool for Toddler Boy went swimmingly. It was basically an introductory hour-long session with just three other kids in his class of 10. Not a sniffle, not a tear. A kiss goodbye and he was off for a couple of hours of mommyless parallel play.

Fast-forward to the second day of preschool -- yesterday. Before we even left the house, things were headed south.

"Mama. I don't wanna go anaweeeear."

"Oh, but honey, don't you want to play with those fun trucks at school? Mrs. Matthews is so excited to see you today."

What a crock. My vision of Mrs. Matthews is that at about, oh, 11:15 (school gets out of 11:30) she starts foaming at the mouth, clawing at the door window, and mouthing, "HELP ME" as other staff walk by shaking their heads wishing they could help, but too frightened by what they knew lay behind that closed door.

I got him into the car with an apple sauce squeezie to calm his nerves. (Have you seen these things, by the way? They are like $55 for a pack of four apple sauce packs with a nozzle that dispenses apple sauce directly into your kids' mouth. No muss, no fuss. We are currently refinancing our home to afford weekly purchases of these ridiculous snacks.)

Got to school and he was starting to get excited to play with his favorite truck in class.

"I like-a the front-end loader."

No, trucks aren't just trucks to my kid.

"Great! Let's go see your front-end loader. Mrs. Matthews has it waiting for you!" I say, sounding like Minnie Mouse on crack.

We walked in, up the stairs and immediately, I spotted him. He was one of Jack's classmates. A pretty big 2-year-old, sucking his thumb, clutching his blanket, and eyeing everyone walking by with that I'm-gonna-blow look on his face.


The kid reeked of instability. He could really, really throw a wrench into the delicate balance I had going on with J. We were already teetering on the edge. There were some nerves and resistance, but I'd managed to keep things moving without too much pushback. But, this guy. This guy could ruin it all.

I pretended not to see him and steered J away from his obvious nervous energy.

"I hang-a ma Batman backpack."

"Good job, sweetie. Almost time for Mrs. Matthews to open the door."

And right on the door she did. And there the kid went. It was like slow motion. His eyes turned red, he ripped off his shirt and his skin turned green right before my eyes.


It was hard not to stare. Even though I've been in that very predicament many a time, when you see a kid losing his noodle like that, it's hard not to think to yourself, "If only he could see what an ass he's making of himself, he'd think twice before pulling that crap."

Shit was bananas.

Not sure how his dad managed to get him, flailing and screaming, over to the open door. But, right when he reached the door, Incredible Hulk did the unthinkable: He racked his own father's balls.

"Ooooh..." his father moaned.

I could not believe the chaos ensuing before my eyes, and all I wanted to do was get my kid through that open door without having him kick me in my...vagina. Ok, maybe not exactly the same thing.

J stood there wide-eyed and I could see his mind racing.

"What the fuck? This kid is bugging. Does he know something I don't? Are they making kid stew in that room or something?"

I knew time was of the essence. I pushed by Hulk's dad, still trying to recover from the unexpected attack on his gonads, gave J a kiss, and said, "Ok, it's time to play with your truck now!"

He looked at me incredulously as if to say, "Yeah, right. You expect me to walk into the pit of death without a fight? Ha. Guess again, lady."

And there he went. Tears, yelling, head tossing. The works.

I gave him a quick hug, said I'd be back to pick him up and glanced backward to see him and the Incredible Hulk, along with several other kids now, taking the term "mass hysteria" to new heights.

I wanted to blame Hulk's dad for the scene, but I knew better. It's like a bandaid. Gotta rip it off. Plus, he'd suffered enough.

I'm thinking next time, though, I'm going to put soundproof headphones and a blindfold on J on the way to class...

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Old(er) Mama

It's different being pregnant at 37 than at 31.

First big difference? Fourteen weeks (and, so, yes, it's official that a bun is in the oven for the THIRD time) looks like about five months when we're talking about my gut. The baby is only about 7 centimeters long at this point and the rest I attribute to gas, steak-and-cheese subs and muscle memory. (You know. It's sort of like when you go swimming after being a swimmer all your life and your muscles just kind of know what to do. In this case, my midsection, upon conception, started expanding at a rapid pace because it knew, even before I did, what was coming down the pike.)

I know pregnant women have a tendency to exaggerate so let me just say that when I went to the doctor this past week, the nurse cheerfully asked me, "So, how far along are we now?" I said, "About three months," and she gasped. Gasped. "Holy shit, mama," she might as well have said, "You are going to be HUGE."

Let's get the joy part out of the way. Yes, beyond happy. Like ear-to-ear grinning happy. Like I'm so friggin' excited to see what sort of little ball of craziness is going to land in my lap in about six months (I never go the full term -- nine moths max) I could pee myself. In fact I do. Pee myself, that is. But that has nothing to do with happiness. Which brings me to...

#2 Big Difference Being Pregnant at 37 vs 31: I Need a Diaper
Bladder control is a long lost memory. The idea that I can actually control where and when urine exits my body is a joke. I laugh, I pee. I sneeze, I pee. I burp, I pee. I fart, I pee. I get to the nail-biter portion of Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, I pee.

Not like gallons of pee, but just a little squirt. Enough to make things uncomfortable and to make me feel that giving my toddler's Buzz Lightyear Pull-Ups a day in court is actually a reasonable consideration.

#3 Big Difference Being Pregnant at 37 vs 31: I Am a Sloth
I already have two young children ages five and two.Taking care of them, entertaining them, running around with them used to be a thing I could do even if I didn't feel like doing it on any particular day. In other words, if need be, I could dig deep. With this third pregnancy, I'm cutting corners...big time. I'm looking for an easy way out. Path of least resistance, please. Will they notice me if I lay on the floor here really, really still?

I put my toddler down for his afternoon nap the other week and asked my 5-year-old if she just, you know, wanted to hang my bed...while I put my feet up on two pillows. She looked at me, clutching her army of Polly Pockets, with a look on her face that can only be described as sheer disgust.

I apologized as I face-planted in my pillows. The only thing I remember are tiny jabs on my stomach as I lay on my back. I guess if I wasn't going to play Pollies with her, she was going to use my belly as some sort of makeshift obstacle course for her teeny tiny plastic friends.

#4 Big Difference Being Pregnant at 37 vs 31: Doctors Raining on Your Gestitational Parade
I remember being pregnant with my first and having doctors and nurses fawn over me with happiness. "Congratulations!" "Wonderful news!" "You must be thrilled!"

Now, they're measuring the thickness of skin on my unborn child's neck for Down's and recommending we do a test for spina bifida. Fun. Pregnancy after 35 ain't no joke. You get statistics hurled at you on the regs. Like at age 35, your chances of having a baby with Down's is 1 in 400. Once you hit the big 4-0, that increases to 1 in 100. Awesome.

I know, in my head, that being pregnant at 37 presents risks and realities I didn't face as a younger mother. Still, sometimes you want to just revel in the joy of being pregnant and the anticipation of looking into your child's eyes for the first time without all the worry. It's amazing how for granted I took those untethered joys of my previous pregnancies.

Now before I go believing what my nanny said to me the other day about "Bearing children is for the young," I will say there are things about this third pregnancy as an older -- and hopefully wiser -- woman that make it the easiest one by far.

#5 Big Difference Being Pregnant at 37 vs 31: I Know What the Fuck I'm Doing
Instead of blindly throwing darts at a parenting dart board, I kinda, sorta know what's going to happen and how to deal with it. I know my nipples are going to be sore from breastfeeding, but that will only last for six months or so. I know the baby will wake up for every 2-3 hours for the first several months of its life, but that in time, I will sleep more. I know there will be temper tantrums, but that they aren't some sort of sign that I'm fucking up as a mother.

I know they'll eventually shit in a toilet.

In other words, I know each stage -- easy or difficult -- is not a permanent state. They change. They grow. Things pass. The next stage comes. You deal. You grow.

Things don't last forever. Even colic.

#6 Big Difference Being Pregnant at 37 vs 31: My Husband Knows What the Fuck He's Doing
You know one thing they don't tell you when you have a kid is how annoying your husband becomes. Seriously. When did this guy you pledged to love and spend your life with become the clueless village idiot? Oh, and by the way, when did you become the all-knowing, all-powerful Mother? I guess I should maybe call this part, "I Know What the Fuck I"m doing So I'm Less Inclined to Take it Out on the Guy Who Knows Even Less."

Without getting into all the gory details, my marriage has grown -- blossomed if you will -- as a result of having our children. Not that I guarantee this result for all families or that all families even need what we needed, but we went through some hardcore years of self-discovery and came out the other side as better spouses and parents (in my opinion at least). Our children were the catalyst for this change.

Now, I can say without reservation that my husband has actually taught me a thing or two about parenting. And, I'm sure he'll continue to do so. I couldn't have said that with #1...or #2 for that matter.

I'm sure as time goes on, I'll see even more differences with this third venture into parenthood and the previous ones. They all have their unique flavor. I can say my first child taught me some hard lessons about myself, and what I needed to change. My second taught me to relax and enjoy motherhood. And this third? Well, we'll just have to wait and see. But, I'm guessing that, at the very least, he or she is going to teach me to accept that minivans aren't a sign my life is over.

Monday, August 30, 2010

New Beginnings

There were tears all around. Kids. Parents. Even the clicking cameras sounded anxious and...sad.

I sat on the side smiling at my child. She bit her lip nervously and managed a weak smile.

The night before we sat huddled under her covers, hoping we could shut out today. We'd spent the day combating her first school-day nerves by pumping up kindergarten to be a land of fairies, stories, games and cotton candy; comparing it to preschool and summer camp; relaying our own experiences as equally scared kindergarteners; and answering any and all questions about big-girl school. By evening, we were all kindergartened out.

"I don't want to go, Mommy."

"I know, sweetie. I know you're nervous and scared and I felt the same way when I started kindergarten. But, tell me. If Mama said 'Ok, Marley. You don't have to go to school. You can stay home.' What would you say?"

Holding my breath...I waited. After what seemed like the longest pause ever she answered:

"No Mama. I have to go because I have learning to do."

I kissed her on the forehead and squeezed her tight, holding back tears. I said goodnight, promised her Daddy's famous Saturday-only pancakes in the morning and went off to my room.

I sat in my bed and cried. But, it wasn't because my baby was growing up and leaving me. It was because my baby was growing up and I was proud.

So, there we were, first day of school. The teacher was about to lead the line of kids inside to their classroom. A mother stood next to me with sunglasses on, nose red, sniffling, holding her younger child and staring longingly at her older child.

"Don't worry, honey," her husband comforted. "He's going to be fine."

I felt a small pang of sadness and looked over at my first born. And then she waved to me. Suddenly, that timid, unsure smile cracked wide open.

"Bye Mama!"

"Bye, honey! Have so much fun today!"

And that's how I left her. As I walked away -- no red nose, no tears -- I smiled.

Yes, my child was going to be just fine.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Red, White and Blue

Happy 4th of July! xoxo

Friday, July 2, 2010

When My Ovaries Speak, I Listen

So, my business has taken off. It's been taking off, but I can finally say it HAS taken off and that feels pretty damn good. Lots of hard work, a supportive husband and great clients that refer me new clients...professional life is good.

On the home front, M is finishing up two weeks of her first camp experience, and she has loved every minute of it. Potty training the littlest one is progressing smoothly and now, gearing up for his big boy bed. Summer date nights with the husband where I get to feel like his girlfriend and not the mother of his children are in abundance. Leaving for vacation in a week. Family life is good.

Just as things are settling into a nice rythym, a whole slew of friends have up and decided to either a.) get pregnant or b.) give birth (that baby I'm holding is just one of of the army of infants -- girls by the way -- that have recently entered into my world). I am surrounded by babies. Literally. This has awakened a semi-dormant, but oh-so-familiar drumming on my ovaries that I've been aware of since a year after I gave birth to my second. The message is loud clear:


Ok, not completely accurate. Maybe just one more baby.

There I said it. I want another baby. Oh, and in case you're wondering about the guy who needs to be on board to make this third-baby deal happen...He wants another one too. And I didn't have to twist his arm. Pinky swear.

I've been treating my baby fever over the last year -- which can only be attributed to biology since anyone who knows me, knows I'm not by nature a baby person -- with regular doses of work, cute clothes that would NOT fit a pregnant belly, and a if-it-happens-it-happens attitude.

More than that, though, the reality of two miscarriages early on has forced me to adopt a more emotionally cautious approach to the possibility of a third child. (Did you buy that? Good. I'm glad someone did because it's utter bullshit. Me. Want. Baby.)

But the reality is, although M regularly tells me I look "like a teenager" (God, I love that kid), my eggs are far from those of a teenager. If we really want to have a third, the time is now. I never thought we'd be that couple where sex would be a means to an end. The first two were definitely just part of our regular, um, routine. (I'll stop there because I know my inlaws read this blog.)

That is the reality, though. In a nutshell, gotta make good use of any remaining youngish eggs I may have left. So we're off to the races...with my doctor in tow. Hoping that ovulation kits, progesterone supplements and baby aspirin will put a little pep in my reproductive step.

Fingers crossed...

Monday, June 14, 2010

What Does She Know Anyhow?

Apparently, we're gross. As in my husband and me. We're especially gross when we kiss.

"It's too mushy looking," she declared today. "Like this."

(See above picture.)

As if mocking our love wasn't enough, she then shivered in disgust at the very thought of our lips touching.

"I think you guys should just stick to hugs."

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I did it. I bought my ticket. Come August I'm headed to Bangkok, Thailand for 10 days with my mom, dad and brother -- sans kids and husband. As I've written about before, my mom is not well and not getting better. So, it was important for me to get off my woe-is-me ass and get there, literally and figuratively.

I'll have QT with my mother, brother and father,which I haven't had in years. I'm looking forward to it, but also combating butterflies. Haven't been away from my kids and their dad for more than a few days since giving birth to M five years ago.

Ten days is a long time.

I've already requested that my husband please, please, please put on his safety hat, do the safety dance or whatever it takes for the 10 days while I'm away. "Pretend you're the nerdy, no-fun parent while I'm away...paaaaalease. When I get back, you can revert to being the third kid...promise."

At the same time, there is something I am looking forward to while I am I fully expect to return to the states smarter, nicer and younger after having had ten nights of uninterrupted sleep.

Can't beat that with a stick...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Day 19: Goofin'

Sometimes the most fun you have is when you're doing absolutely nothing. You go out to dinner with the kids to a low-rent, fast-food-type restaurant and simply fuck around.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Day 18: Give Me a Home-Cooked Meal

Last week we did take-out or frozen meals every day except Monday. Shameful. I'm lighting a fire under my ass this week and getting in the kitchen. I'm not a cook by nature. Not something I truly love doing, but I do enjoy a good homecooked meal -- as does my family. (Although frozen pizza does come in a close second.)

So, here I go...

Monday: Tortellini/pancetta soup with bread and grilled asparagus on the side.

Tuesday: Chicken/pineapple stir fry

Wednesday: Portobello mushroom lasagna

Thursday: Leftovers

Friday: Grill out burgers

I'm exhausted just thinking about all this cooking.

I'll let you know what did and did not come to fruition in the kitchen...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Day 17: Just Another Sunday Morning...

In case you guys don't know what a Rody is, they are rubber, inflatable, bouncy dog-like creatures you sit on. Usually they're for kids. But fuck it. This morning, the Rody Race was on. My 5-year-old was going down. Mutha-fuckin' down to Chinatown. You think you can bounce faster on that Rody than me? I birthed you! Bring it!

Waiting for the start gun to go off.

Drum roll please...

And they're off! (Note the hair on M. That is some serious bouncing. I told her to bring it and she did.)

Wait! An obstruction in the course! Sabotage!

Obstruction removed. Victory is mine. I can taste it!


Rody Rematch scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday morning. I'm not going down that easily. All I have to say is, better bring your A game...

Friday, May 14, 2010

Day 16: What I Love About My Kid

My daughter's been driving me bonkers. Questions McGee. Whining, complaining, asking, screaming. I actually tried to have a real thought yesterday and failed miserably.

So, instead of continuing to bitch and moan about how annoying my five-year-old is, because, let's face it, five-year-olds are by nature annoying...I decided to do this:

The 11 Best Things About M

1. She is always willing to pitch in when it comes to kitchen duties. Need an egg cracked? At your service! Need some mix stirred? Don't need to ask me twice. Or even at all. Need some liquid poured? Wait, wait! Don't move! I got it! I got it!

2. She loves potty humor. Ok, this may not seem like a plus to most people, but in this house it's aces.

3. She loves to take care of her brother. Nevermind that he doesn't want to be taken care of, we're talking about her right now.

4. She knows what she wants. Now, oftentimes this can sometimes come off as bossy and controlling, but really it's just a person knowing exactly what's what, voicing it and following through -- loudly.

5. She's got the best smile on the planet.

6. She is so sweet with her stuffed animals. The way she puts them to bed, feeds them, etc. Her heart is exactly in the right place.

7. She has great style. She will put striped tube socks on with a pink princess dress. That mix of masculine and feminine is so an example of true, individual style.

8. She loves to sing. And, even more, she loves it when I sing. She'll defend me to the end to her father when he accuses me of warbling off key. "No Daddy! Mommy is a good singer!"

9. She's always game to make friends with other little kids. Not a mean bone in her body. You could be green, have three heads and eat worms. She'll find a way to get into it.

10. She's really good on her scooter. Like she can go really fast. Steers. Crouches. Makes her serious scooter face. It's pretty rad.

11. When she holds my hand, smiles at me and says, "I love you, Mama," I know I couldn't ask for a better kid.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Day 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15

So, this exercise in blogging for 30 days straight is not easy. But, it's supposed to be enjoyable, not work, so eff it. I'm going to just do five days in one entry. There.

Day 11: Remember those candy cigarettes that kids could blow into and then some powdered sugar stuff mimicking smoke would come out the other side? Thinking that would be an awesome treat for my kids is...weird. Times they do change.

Day 12: Mother's Day! Remember as a kid giving your mom crap like lavender-scented bath beads? She'd smile, gaze at her bath beads like she'd just been given the answer to the meaning of life, and then...lie. "Just what I wanted!" Little did I know then that my mother barely had time to shower, much less soak in a tub filled with melting bath beads that contained a floral scent so powerful, I imagine she'd be unapproachable for days, maybe weeks, after her bath.

My kids made me an awesome card, we went to a fancy brunch during which I didn't have to chase, glare, scold, threaten, or exit the premises altogether. Then they fell asleep on the way home. Now that's what every mom wants for Mother's Day.

Day 13: I am a horse. As in, I'm on all fours, neighing. As in my toddler is on my back, bouncing up and down yelling "Haaaaaawsie! Haaaaaawsie!" That is all.

Day 14: Husband out of town for work. Tired and miss the adult interaction after the kids have konked out, but not having him here does make some aspects of parenting easier. My dirty, dark little secret? I'm a control freak and like being in of everything.

Day 15: She's quiet now for the first time in three days. Can't believe how much she talks. As in, I don't think she's zipped her lip (unless she's unconscious) for three days straight. I'm astounded by how many questions, arguments, tears and general yammer, yammer, yammering she does. Will someone rip my ears off, please? No seriously. Remove them. Now.

Off to enjoy a little silence now.

See you tomorrow...maybe.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Day 10: Inspiration

Sometimes you see, hear, feel things that just nail it. Makes you want you to approach parenting in a true, honest way. My friend, Melanie, shared this video today and I just had to post it here because it embodies so much of what I strive to be with my children. Neither of my kids have Asperger's, but still...they are their own unique individuals with unique challenges and frustrations.

The video reminds me that even though family life can often be far from is the greatest thing I have done and will ever do in my life.

Q&A from StoryCorps on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Day 9: Don't Ask Me About It, Please...

I had a great day today. Wonderful client in the morning followed by successful shopping trip in the afternoon followed by an impromptu lunch with two friends downtown.

And, right in the midst of it, I found myself crying -- make that sobbing -- in my car. Sun shining. Cars whizzing by on a busy city street. People chattering all around. And me. Sitting in my parked car, bawling.

My mother. Lately, I can't shake the feeling that the clock is ticking. That my time with my her is finite. And not in some abstract way where death is this blurry thing waiting for all of us in the future. But as in "I see the end. I see it coming."

She lives in Thailand, and if you follow this blog, you probably have seen a few posts about her and her illness. At any rate, I don't like to talk about her. In fact, for the most part, I don't like to think about her. To say that what is happening to her is sad and tragic doesn't even begin to scratch the surface. It is horrifying.

To lose your ability to walk, speak, go the bathroom or pretty much do anything on your own is a prison of misery I can't even begin to imagine. To know your mother -- the one who held your hand when you had nightmares until you fell asleep -- is now a shell of the woman you knew? It seems unreal. Too unreal to even consider.

And so, it's easier to pretend. Pretend it's not really happening. Easy enough. She lives across the world. Put some pictures up around the house. Talk to your daughter about her "Khun Yai" as if she's a totally normal grandmother. And, presto, magic! Problem solved!

Except not. I call her each week these days. We talk for about 15 minutes. I usually update her about the kids, husband, work and anything else going on in my life. She tries to talk sometimes, but most of it I can no longer understand. I always end our conversations with, "I love you mom" and she will respond, "I love you, Rosana." Out of the entire conversation, they are really the only words I can make out.

Today in the car, I had gotten off the phone with my brother who has been updating me regularly on my mother's declining health and state of mind. He was not in a good way. I wouldn't be either if I was caring for -- on my own -- a severely handicapped mother who now was exhibiting signs of dementia. He had just spent the past afternoon with my mother. He works nights and had gotten a frantic call from her around noon (as he gets everyday because my mother has anxiety.) She is on anxiety medication, but her delusional behavior still manages to push through. It's hard to know if it is her illness, depression or something else. At any rate, he went to her condo, tried to calm her and ended up sitting with her, holding her hand for most of the afternoon.

"I want, I want....I want..."

"What do you want mom. Tell me. What do you want?"

With her disease progressing to the point where her speech is nearly incomprehensible, my brother finds himself regularly coaxing information out of her, hoping she'll be able to eek out a word or two that he can understand. She usually becomes emotional and frantic, because shit, if you couldn't verbalize to your loved ones how you were feeling wouldn't you go mad?

That afternoon with my mother was no different. Except she got it out. She got out those words:

"I want to walk."

And isn't that the bitch of life? She won't walk. She won't ever walk again. And all my brother and I can do is ask ourselves "Why the fuck does she have to go this way? Why?"

So from my vantage point -- far away, over the phone, in pictures -- my days are spent laughing with my family and friends because life truly is joyous. But more lately, that joy is interrupted by a tightness in my throat. That clenching, squeezing knot in my stomach. Tears that are right at the surface, but get swallowed, pushed, pressed down as far down as I can get them.

Knowing I just won't ever have that mother I knew takes my breath away. As in, I literally have a physical reaction to my grief where I feel a shortness of breath. And knowing she will continue to drift further and further away...I can't even begin, right now, to really wrap my brain around how to face it.

So, I'll do what I can do for now. Call her. Talk to her. Tell her I love her...and hope that she'll be able to say it back.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Day 8: Mommy, You Look SO Different

Spent half the day removing about 50 pounds of hair from my head. Freeing...and terrifying. My only request to my hairdresser was please, please, please do not give me the short I've-given-up-and-I-just-want-what's-easiest mom 'do. You know. Sort of like a helmet. Made of hair. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I think he hooked me and I'm enjoying my first day with my new badass, kickass, take-no-prisoners hair.

I will miss being a princess, though, which M says is no longer in my future now that I have short hair. Ah well. I guess I'll have to settle for being the knight in shining armour.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Day 7: When Harry Met Sally -- The Preschool Years?

"Mommy, when I bring plums into school for lunch, Timmy goes crazy."

"Oh, really? How?"

"Well, he jumps up and down and just starts yelling, 'Plum! Plum! Plum!"

"Wow, he really likes plums, huh?"

"So much. Now, when I get into school and I see him, he asks me, 'Do you have a plum today?' I say, 'Yes!' He starts going crazy again and then I say, 'Just kidding!' and then he gets really sad like this."

Makes a sad face with bottom lip jutting out. The kind of face that my husband says he used to make and get the whole I-could-park-a-cadillac-on-that-lip remark from his grandfather.

Wait a second here. Just wait a gosh darned minute. What the heck is going on with the friggin' plums? Is this some sort of preschool precursor to flirting? Oh hell no.

"You tell that boy that your plums are yours and yours only and he should just go find a plum somewhere else!"

Strange look from preschooler.

A week later, Timmy's mom approached me before class the other day. "So, I hear Tim really likes Marley's plums."

"Um. Yeah. I heard."

"I asked him if he wanted me to start packing plums in his lunch and he said, 'Naaaah.'"

"Hahaha. Kids are so funny."

Note to self: Pack an apple.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Day 6: You Jigglin' Baby, Go 'Head Baby...

Ok, I missed a couple of days of blogging...I'm just going to keep going like they never happened...

Went for a run today. Not sure what inspired me. I did go running a couple months back, but didn't manage to start making it a part of my routine again. Hard to imagine this was the same girl, this time last year.

Husband was off this a.m. doing a little pre-triathlon training and, yes, it did make me feel...mushy. So, I packed up the kids in the jogger and decided to do a little training myself.

First thought: "Holy shit it's hot out here." (I wasn't making excuses, I swear. It was legitimately hot with temperatures fast-approaching 90.)

Second thought as I was a quarter way through the run: "Man this is hard. Dub tee eff?" I know I'm out of shape, but basically I was walking enthusiastically with a bounce. How sad have I become? I'm a friggin' speed walker.

Oh, wait, one tire is nearly flat. Thank God. At least now I have an excuse.

Third thought: "What's that jiggling sensation around my legs?" Hold up. Those are my thighs. Clapping. Applauding my efforts. Thanks guys.

Now getting on the exercise wagon...not hard. It's staying on it that gets me every time. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Day 5: Second Base

My son likes to cop a feel. As in the kid digs boobies. As in, you may be holding him thinking, "Aaaaaw. What a sweet boy," when all of the sudden, "Aaaah! Wha! Hey!" as you get first-hand how a toddler can take the term "fun bags" to new heights.

Groped the babysitter. Fondled his aunt. Tickled Grandma. You name it, he's felt it.

I guess the whole fascination with breastesses starts at birth?

At any rate, for a mommy who has no boobies (or very small ones if you're being kind and, please, be kind), this poses some real frustration for said toddler.

The other day, we were in the kitchen. I was making his PBJ sandwich before an excursion outside when...I felt it. Those little, boob-crazy hands. But, not on my boobs (because as I mentioned before, it's hard to locate them these days), but on the part of my body that feels most like boobs -- my midsection.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, my mammary-obsessed toddler felt up my spare tire. Giggling away. As if the whole squeezing of the excess skin in that area wasn't humiliating enough, I had to have him laughing in my face.

Going to do some sit-ups now. That is all.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Day 4: Mary Kay, I Ain't Mad Atcha

I was out walking with my kid today (the smaller one). We strolled down to the creek near our house to engage in some serious pebble skipping. After our outing, we headed back to the house, ready for some lunch.

We stopped to cross the two-way street just as an older lady walked up with her dog. Walking toward her, we caught eyes. I smiled, she smiled. At that moment, a pink cadillac drove past us.

"There goes that Mary Kay bitch," she muttered.

Huh? Did she just call someone a "Mary Kay bitch?" Before I even had a chance to digest and recover from the profanities lobbed at some poor, innocent cosmetic-selling haus frau who'd sold her heart out enough to win a pink cadillac...

"Don't expect me to buy any of your makeup shit either!"

Whoa. Seriously. What just happened? What was this woman's major malfunction? What beef could she possibly have with the Mary Kay lady? She's driving around in a pink car for Christ's sake. Had she been sold defective moisturizer? Or was she morally against pyramid schemes? Does she hate pink? Pink cadillacs? Maybe she's just jealous and wishes she had a pink cadillac?

Or was there something even more sinister behind the "Mary Kay bitch" comment? Had there been in-fighting within the neighborhood's Mary Kay contingent? Maybe a power struggle that ended in bloodshed? Territorial wars? Makeup parties fractured by corruption?

My 3-foot tall sidekick and I could only wonder and speculate as we headed back to the house for a bowl of mac 'n cheese.

Serious suburban angst. You can't make this shit up.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Day 3: You Know You're in an Ethnic House When...

When I was a kid, my mom would attempt every trick in the book to get me in the kitchen. Asked nicely. No thanks. Offered tastes. Nah. Bribed with promises of handsome rewards afterwards. Eh. Finally, after all else failed, there was, "Get your ass in the kitchen because I said so." Ok, my mom would never say that, but you get the picture.

And so, I spent many a Saturday afternoon learning the tricks of the Thai cooking trade. Now I'd like to say once I got in the kitchen it was this harmonious passing of knowledge from one generation to the next: "Fry the garlic only until crispy. Be careful not to turn the heat too high because it will burn." What really happened was more like this, though:

"Use the side of the mortar when smashing the garlic."

"I know mom."

Dirty side glance from mom.


Little did I know that those afternoons spent in the kitchen would pay off. It would be a while before I saw the benefits, though. Aside from once cooking a grilled cheese in a wok during my grad school years, I steered pretty clear of the kitchen.

Today is a much different story. Not to say I am this culinary wizard or even love the process of cooking all that much. But, there is something about when I make a Thai dish -- particularly if it's Thai comfort food -- that feels like she's sitting right next to me. With my mother so far away and so different from the woman that raised me, memories can fade pretty quickly. It's hard sometimes to conjure up all those moments that made my mother such a

But, then I get in the kitchen, chop up some garlic, fry it for Thai chicken-rice soup and it all comes back.

I made this before going out to the library with the kids yesterday. As we re-entered the house, that oh-so-familiar, pungent, not-for-white-people garlic/fish sauce smell greeted us at the door. And I smiled.

Aaaaah, home...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Day 2: Rain, Rain, Go Away...

Today was one of those overcast, rainy spring days that make you feel gypped because you sat through months and months of what seemed like an endless winter (and trust me, this winter in the D.C. area was endless) only to get thrust back inside. I know it's not rational to expect every spring day to be perfect, but I still do.

So, in an effort to shake off the rainy day blues, I'm posting some pics from last week, which was, in fact, perfect.

At least some of the pollen will get washed away...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Day 1: Girls Gone Not So Wild

I remember thinking that getting older and having kids meant it was time to hang up your dancing shoes. Like the fun ones you wear when you want to go out and get really crazy. And, oh the horror of that thought. Getting old.

Last weekend, I left my kids and husband for the first time in about four years. I packed up my hottest heels, brushed the crumbs out of my purse and set off for a weekend of debauchery. Or at least something in the neighborhood of debauchery.

Met two of my BFFs in NOLA for the weekend. These are two girls I lived with during my stint in Colorado (grad school, work, etc.) and have remained friends with over the last 10 years. (Wow. Ok, I just bugged myself out with that last 10-year sentence.) We all live in different parts of the country, but have been in each other's weddings and continue to have this bond based in large part on...farts. As in 11-year-old-boy-humor farts. And poop. I'm not kidding. Thirty-something-year-old women who e-mail, call, text, etc. each other about farts.

At any rate, I was ready. Ready for some serious eating, serious farting, serious partying and serious female bonding.

Sometimes in my day-to-day life as Rosana, The Wife and Mom, it's easy to forget. I'm busy caring for other smaller (and sometimes larger) creatures in my life and without meaning to, I forget that fun-seeking, hard-partying, fart-loving girl from days of yore.

And so I set off in search of her. We shopped, we laughed, we ate, we talked, we analyzed, we joked, we reminisced...I know what you're thinking now. "She rediscovered that long-lost young woman that has been pushed aside by family and motherhood."


Bitch is gone. Ok. correction. She is still there, but not in the same way. Didn't even make it past midnight on either night. There was lots of eating and then back to hotel to sleep. Then up early to walk around the city. Then more eating. Then more sleeping. That hard-partying girl who used to run around mooning people after leaving the bar at 3 a.m.? She done packed up her shit and left the premises. Not that I really expected to moon anyone in New Orleans, but I did think I'd possibly get a little more raucous without niblets around.

But, I surprised myself. Even without the kids right there in my face...I'm still a mom. And older. It's a funny thing when you get older. It's quieter. Not like in a boring way either. Just in a more peaceful way.

I had one of the best times of the past year on this trip, and there were no crazy stories to bring home (beyond a naughty trip to a lingerie store and, hello, we were buying stuff to wear for the guys we married. Ooooooh, soooooo crazy).

I didn't come home hungover with some insane confession to make to my husband about showing my tits in the streets of New Orleans. Instead, I came home well-rested, reinvigorated and...happy. I had a couple mornings of sleeping in, ate meals without getting up to cut someone's meat or refill milk, and engaged in adult conversation minus that oh-so-familiar tugging, poking, pulling sensation, which, if ignored, can devolve into full-on screeching.

Moral of the story? Getting older, having a family, etc. does mean changes. The surprise for me is that not only am I ok with those changes, but I'm pretty amped about them. So, am I Mother Theresa now? Not quite.

Would Mother Theresa wear these shoes?


Friday, April 23, 2010

I Have a Ton to Say...

But no time to say it! Or rather, I making it too much work to say it. Bottom line, I miss my blog family. Plus, blog family aside, this was all supposed to be an exercise in memorializing motherhood...for me. And them.

So, inspired by my good friend Sarah who also blogs about her two gorgeous girls, Grace and Maddie, I am going to do a post a day for a month. I'm not going to put pressure on myself to always have to write something funny or meaningful or clever or sad or happy or whatever. I'm just going to see what comes. It may be a picture. It may be a sentence. It may be 15 paragraphs. Who knows. We'll see what happens. Stay tuned...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A New Day

Life is funny. One minute you're a boutique owner. The next minute you're a mom of two. The next minute you're an intern. And the next minute you're a personal stylist.

The last week has been busy and exciting with my side business suddenly becoming my main business. I decided it was all getting to be a little too much. Like working until 1 a.m. too much. Like frazzled and short-tempered too much, particularly when I rise with my son who just doesn't seem to get it when I say "No light. No wake" to him at 5 a.m.

So, I quit. I quit the geriatric paper. And believe it or not, it made me a little sad. I used to be able to cut jobs, places and people rather quickly and without much thought or consideration. I'd reach a boiling point where I was not happy anymore, couldn't take it anymore and then...drum roll... finito santiago. My husband used to say that was the scariest part of my personality -- the ability to be so black and white. Like, "Hi, I'm done with you. Goodbye."

Things done changed, though.

My thinking and feeling go hand-in-hand more now. I make decisions before I become hyper fed-up and blindly emotional.

It's due to many changes in my life, not the least of which is having children. And I'm not talking about a baby that wakes you up for the seventh time in the middle of the night. I mean parenting kids that are growing up with their own words and opinions and stories and feelings. That takes more than a wellspring of emotion. It takes thought and consideration and decisions that go beyond "'cause I just want to."

The craziest part of it all is they make you look back on the most man-my-head-hurts-because-i've-been-banging-it-on-this-wall-for-the-past-hour moments of being a parent with...affection. Yes I said it. I may take it back tomorrow, but I'm saying it now. It's not because you love them because it goes without saying that the sort of love you feel for your child is off-the-charts scary, but also because it's this feeling of "Man, that was fucking hard. And I survived. And I think I might have learned something. Rad."

So, you change. Or at least I have. Not anything that anyone would notice if they were having dinner with me, but just in that I sit just a little more comfortably in this sometimes wobbly, sometimes stone hard, sometimes pillow soft chair that is my life.

At least that's how I feel right now. J waking up in the middle of the night tonight saying, "No seep. No seep. No seep" could change all that.

Marley has a chart in our kitchen that tracks her behavior. Smiley faces for setting the table. Smiley faces for "pleases" and "thanks yous." Smiley faces for brushing her teeth. I asked her the other day if I should get a smiley face for things I'm working on as her mama -- like not yelling so much. She ran over to her toy room table, grabbed one of the heart-shaped post-its I gave her the other day, and scrawled a broad, smiling face on it.

"Here's your smiley face mommy. You're doing pretty good."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Whoa, Who Let the Mom In?

There's this mom at M's preschool that I am fairly obsessed with. She has a son in M's class, twin daughters that are about two, and she's monstrously pregnant with her fourth. She also assists with classes at the preschool. She never looks stressed, harried, or strung out. I see her waddling around with what looks like a basketball under her shirt, herding her kids through the school hallways.

"This way girls," she sings. They follow. "Put on your hats," she songs. They put on their hats. "Come now. Time to go home." No meltdowns. No protests. No nothing. She's not remarkable in any other way except for her miraculous way of mothering.

We sat behind her during M's Christmas pageant during the holidays. Her two daughters, no more than two, sat watching the preschool performances, enraptured. Meanwhile, I had just finished running up and down the hall outside the chapel with my two-year-old in an effort to wear him out so maybe, just maybe, he would sit and watch his sister walk down the aisle before making a break for the hills. I just stared. In awe. I almost forgot to catch M coming down the aisle I was so dumbfounded by Mother Mary and her two angels.

I've been a mom now for five years. Still, I'm often reminded that I'm not one of those women hard-wired to instinctively know what the hell I'm doing in this crazy mixed-up world where, among other things, you're responsible for showing someone how to properly take a dump. Like not in his pants, but in a toilet.

Let's get to the ugly truth here. I'm fairly selfish, vain and impatient. When I had my first child, it wasn't just like the culture shock you experience when you move to another country. It was like, "Holy shit. Do they have oxygen on this planet?" I knew this tiny person needed me, and I was going to do my part to make sure I was there. But, other than that. Yup. No clue.

And here I am, several years later. Older and wiser? More of a mommy? Proof is in the pudding, bitches.

On dentist's orders, M has drastically cut back on sweets. So, for her Valentine's Day party at school, I made what you see above -- apples and peanut butter cut into the shape of hearts. Did M love them? Hells yeah. DId that make me feel like Mother of the Year? You better believe it.

Take that Mother Theresa.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Buried Alive

So, we've just emerged from a week of snow. Correction, a week of snow that culminated in drifts of nearly four feet. Stuck in the house for days, I was forced to do the only thing i knew how to do to cookies. Lots and lots of cookies. There were Hershey Kiss peanut butter cookies, butterscotch chip oatmeal , black and white, frosted cut-out ...I could go on.

I spent three solid days ingesting only food that was made of butter and sugar and required a baking temperature of 375 degrees.

"Honey. Aren't you going to get sick eating all those cookies?" my worried husband (who, by the way ingested his fair share of sweets over the snow week -- hypocrite) would say.

"Mine yo own bifnuss. Are you gonnaf eaf fat coofee?" I'd say, mouth full and paw out ready to snatch his.

When I wasn't baking cookies, I was either a.) eating them directly from the cookie plate or b.) roaming around the house snatching up discarded unwanted cookies and jamming them directly into my face in a flurry of crumbs. Nope, no pie hole over here. Cookie hole.

"Hey! Where did my cookie go?" M would whine.

"Oh not sho honey. Maybe ova day?" I'd mutter and point aimlessly over her head, hoping to distract her from the crime scene. Not only was I guilty, but due to the fact that I was unable to enunciate words with an entire chocolate chip cookie jammed in my mouth, not that slick either.

I hit an all-time low when I went to use the bathroom, peed, stood up to pull my pants up and caught a glimps of myself in the mirror. My chin was covered in cookie crumbs and there was a shmear of chocolate on the right corner of my mouth.
Yes, I stood there for a moment, sweat pants around my ankles and cookie all over my face and felt something more powerful than ingesting 22 cookies in one sitting. Shame.

"Oh God..."

Oh God is right. The snow needed to stop. It needed to stop or others would continue to suffer. I had taken to shuffling around in long johns all day -- changing in the evening into, yes, another pair of long johns. ("Mommy, you're the only one who hasn't changed her clothes aaaaaaall day.") I'd bark random orders about softening butter and sifting flour. I'd panic if the cookies weren't removed from the oven the second the timer went off. (Nothing like a batch of overbaked hockey puck cookies to ruin a true cookie binge.) Before one batch of cookies had even been eaten, with my mouth watering and eyes bulging, I'd yell (to no one in particular), "Who wants to make more cookies! I'm going to make more cookies! Yum. More cookies!"

I'd lost it.

But before the white coat dudes could cart me off, before vegetables became a mythical memory,before my husband had to pry an M&M cookie from my cold, lifeless stopped. Snowing, that is.

And, sad as it was, I had to leave my cookies behind.

Oh, and just so there is photographic evidence of the reason for my slothlike behavior (because, you know, I'd never behave like that otherwise)...snow pics...

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

What All the Hard Work is For

When I started this blog, I wanted a place to put down my real thoughts about many of the ridiculous and painful aspects of motherhood. I was perplexed by the parade of gag-me-with-a-spoon, saccharine sweet, isn't-it-great takes on motherhood. I wanted to have somewhere to write down my silly, crazy daily thoughts on the entire experience of mothering two small children. I wanted to laugh.

Sometimes I go back and read my posts, though, and I think, "Damn, I was borderline nuts when I wrote that."

It's good to have a little sweetness from time to time, right? What did that batty lady that flew around with her umbrella, showing up to solve all the problems of misguided children used to say? Ah yes. A spoonful of sugar...

Tonight, I had my spoonful, and I thought I would share it here. Because as nails-on-a-chalkboard painful as it can be at times, you have moments like this that break your heart into pieces and remind you why you did it all in the first place. And that, given the chance, you'd do it all over again. And again. And again.

And again.

reading from rosana v on Vimeo.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sing With Me

Fuck Gymboree. I'd had my fill of the bacteria parachute that the children scamper under while the parents stand in a circle, holding the edges to create a giant forcefield of nastiness. I'd had enough of Creepy the Stuffed Clown who the poor, unlucky soul running the class had to actually speak through as if he was a real person, making the whole I'm-smiling-but-you-can-see-my-sad-sad-soul clown experience even weirder and more depressing. Fuck force-feeding my toddler some fake learning experience in the form of padded tunnels in jarringly bright primary colors that instead of awakening the mind, stuns it into catatonic submission.

I'd rather just sit on the floor and play blocks.

Ok. That's a lie.

Fine, I'll admit it. I wasn't quite ready to just completely give up on organized play with my kid. Come on. I live in the suburbs. I stay at home (at least part-time) with my kids. It's my job, my duty to embrace and expose my children to the ultimate useless, yuppie baby, headstart crap, right? I mean, what if I don't take a music class? Or a baby gymnastics class? J might never reach his full potential in life. And it will be all my fault.

My. Fault.

I just know, in my heart of hearts, that given the opportunity to bang on a lollipop drum, shake some maracas and have some other toddler drool on him will give him that edge to really go for it in life.

Maybe Gymboree wasn't for us. Maybe a music class instead? I mean, he does like drums. He head bangs whenever any music comes on -- even Bob Marley. I can tell he really feels music. Yeah.

And off we went. We hit up a music class in an area near our home known for its zip code. You know. One of those keeping-up-with-the-Joneses places. They are filled, I mean filled, with yuppie baby nonsense. It's something like 764 places per square mile where you can sing, dance, do yoga, climb, and magic-o, presto emerge with a well-rounded 2-year-old that does backflips while simultaneously speaking French and Chinese.

Dropped M off at preschool and headed straight to the class. We arrived early. As in no one was even there yet except the teacher, who greeted us in standard kiddie-play-class lingo: "HIIIIIIYEEEEE! Good morning to the both of you. And who do we have heeeeere?"

J stood there, frozen. He'd never seen anyone so...excited. With him rendered utterly speechless, I was forced to do his dirty work. "Heellllo. I'm Jack." (In kiddie-play-class communications, it is always important never to use your own voice, but to always, always speak through the child.)

We sat down in the mirrored, padded room and J immediately went to work on the instruments. A few minutes ticked by. No kids yet. Holy shit. Were we the only ones in this nightmare? I could feel the teacher getting squeakier by the moment, her energy level directly proportional to how high her voice got. The higher and more manic the voice, the more fun we were having.

F-U-N. Fun.

The class started with only the two of us, but within a few minutes a mom, two kids and nanny showed up. Thank GOD.
Then a couple more moms and kids showed up. I breathed a sigh of relief. Now we're talkin'.

And so we sang. And danced and leaped and twirled.

Or, rather, I should say I did all those things -- by myself. J ran around the room at full speed, occasionally throwing his body onto the padded floor and bursting out in giggles that I have to admit, were pretty contagious. No real interest in participating no matter how engaged I was. And let me tell you, I was mutha fuckin' engaged.

I kept glancing out of the corner of my eye, like every 1.16 seconds, hoping he would see just exactly how much fun I was having. Crazy fun. As in my eyes had bugged so far out of my head from singing (screaming) "Polly Put the Kettle On" I was afraid they might not go back. And I had a headache. Now that's crazy. Fun.

No dice. And there I was. Selling my soul to the devil and singing my heart out about frying up some imaginary egg while shaking my little egg shakers up and down, up and down, up and down. "Shake it to the left and shake it to the right!! Shake-a, shake-a-shake!!!"

I wasn't the only one either.

In an effort to engage us all, the teacher's singing and movements had become what can only be described as completely insane. Wild jumps and scary monster jazz hands that reminded me of what happens to cute little Gizmo if you feed him pizza after midnight. Plus,what toddler needs to hear a soulful, sexy growl in the middle of "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain? "She'll be-aaaaaa......coooooooomin' 'round the mountain when she comes..." Rrrrrrow.

Still, can't deny the efforts of someone who is is willing to jump out of her own skin to get little kids excited about music.


After what seemed like an eternity of shaking, twisting, running, yelling off tune and begging my toddler to please, please, please come to the circle only to be snubbed with a mocking cackle here and a condescending blow kiss there, it was time for class to end. We took it down a notch with a soothing round of bubble blowing (and bubble eating, if your name happens to be J). We bid each other adieu in song. J farted. Class was over.

Smashing success. Is there any doubt we're for sure coming back next week?

Sunday, January 10, 2010

I Love My New Camera

My favorite gift from Christmas was a new camera. Like a real one that can do all the fancy focusing tricks and everything. I still don't know what the hell I'm doing, but I do know I can actually take decent pics of my kids now. Managed to capture two amazingly glee-filled moments of the two of them during our trip to the Bahamas.

True love...

Thursday, January 7, 2010

A Tale of Two Pools

“NOOOOO! I don’t want to go on the lazy river!!”

“Come on, honey! It’s so much fun! We’re going to float along and we’ll hold hands with Daddy and Jack from their tube.”

“No, it is too bumpy and scary.”

“Sweetie, I’ll be right there holding you.”


“Ok, fine…If you go down the lazy river, I’ll give you chocolate.”


Bribery. That’s what I’ve resorted to in order to get my oh-so-serious and oh-so-cautious preschooler to try new things.

We escaped the brutal East Coast winter temperatures for five days over New Year’s, trekking to the Bahamas and staying at the resort monstrosity known as The Atlantis. Water slides, water parks, and yes, oh yes, lazy rivers. A no-brainer vacation for a family with kids under five, right?

Sometimes things aren’t quite as simple as you think they’re going to be.

My child is sensitive. And, high-strung. And, cautious. And shy.

In other words, she freaks out over stuff like her “R”s not being quite right. She thinks deeply (well, as deeply as a 4-year-old can) about her relationships with other kids at school. She won’t say “Hi” back if you greet her, but will instead give you a look that says, “Can I crawl into a hole now?” It’s taken her two full years of coaxing to get her to feel comfortable in the pool and to – miracle of all miracles – dip her face in and blow bubbles.

As her mother, I struggle to know when to push her to jump over these hurdles and when to accept that they are part of who she is…and even look at them as character strengths rather than defects that will get in the way of her living a colorful, fulfilling life.

Throw in the whole mother-daughter element: The fact that she looks like me, makes the same facial expressions as me, and even has a tiny mole on her hip just like me and you have the perfect storm for a mommy-projecting-high-expectations-on-child situation.

Still, despite all these similarities, she is not me. Or is she?

There are pictures of me around M’s age hiding behind my mother’s skirt at a wedding. Not engaging. Not laughing. Not friendly. Hiding. Terrified. Shy. My mother has her arm around my head, holding me to her.

There are stories of my first weeks in preschool. Not making friends easily, wanting to play by myself. The most notorious story from that time is how my mother walked me into school one day, introduced me to another little girl, and pulled out some toys for us to play with. Knowing my tiny, Asian mother, this was done in the sweetest, gentlest way possible. Still...

My mother did gently nudge and encourage me, but for the longest time, she let me be me. I stayed shy and cautious into elementary school, though I was never made to feel bad about it. If I wanted to hide, read books in our dark basement instead of playing outside, or write stories about fairy princesses, no one ever said I should be doing something else.

And yet, M isn’t exactly like Little Rosana either. She makes friends. She loves school. She plays with other kids all the time. But, that shyness, that cautiousness, that sensitivity, it’s there. I see it because, well, you easily recognize traits you have yourself – especially the ones you don’t like that much.

It’s not easy being a shy, sensitive kid. It can quickly spiral into (gasp!) lack of confidence. I don’t want my child to feel like her default answer to trying new things is “Nope. No can do,” which is how I often felt as a little girl.

Then there’s this story. I was 9. My mom signed us up for swimteam. Being from another country, she wasn’t sure what to expect, but thought it would be a good idea to get us involved in some team sports.(I have to give her credit for not just thinking outside the box, but leaping out of it on this one. Thai people don't do swimteam.)

Legend has it, she looked at the notice on the bulletin board at our public pool, advertising a “meet,” and thought we were going to attend some sort of meeting or orientation. She filled out the paperwork and we showed up early Saturday morning thinking we were going to get an introduction to swimming. There, we were greeted with whistles, team chants, the firing of a start gun, and kids swimming furiously up and down roped-off lanes in the pool.

Any kid would panic at the uncertainty of the scene unfolding, but I thought I would die right there on the spot. I remember the anxiety filling my throat, my eyes opening wide as the coach approached us. I needed to lay down.

“Come on! We need another swimmer for the 9 to 10-year-old girls!” the young coach said as he grabbed my hand.

The next thing I knew, I was literally jumping into the pool and flapping my arms around like a bird, hoping my manic movements were somehow, some way propelling me forward. There is a picture of me gasping for air with a desperate arm shooting out of the water.

I didn’t even have a proper swim team suit.

But I finished. Third out of five. For the first time in my little life, despite the fact that I was petrified to the point that someone probably should have checked for my bathing suit for chocolate swirls, I didn't run.

And, I wasn’t half bad either.

From that point on, things done changed for Little Rosana. Not entirely and not overnight, but over time and with baby steps. So, what did she grow into? What became of that shy little girl? I'm happy to report, she is an adventurous, well-traveled, independent, friendly, fun-loving woman who still gets a little shy around new people. Not bad.

So, when I get that burning sensation to push M to do something, tell her she’s being silly or overdramatic, or minimize her feelings, I have to remember how I felt at her age. All I have to do is keep giving her opportunities to grow while recognizing she is who she is. Her shyness, cautiousness and sensitivity can also be wonderful traits that fuel a creative spirit and keep her from doing stuff like running headfirst into oncoming traffic.

So, back to the lazy river. M sucked it up, took one for the team (twice!), and didn’t even want the chocolate afterward. Still, enough was enough for my girl.

“Mama, I really, really don’t want to go on the lazy river again.”

“That’s fine, sweetie. You don’t have to,” I said as I wrapped the striped towel around her shoulders and pecked her on the cheek.

"Maybe when I'm bigger I'll like the lazy river more? We can try it again when I'm just a little bit older?"

"Sounds like a plan, honey. Sounds like a plan."