80-Minute Deluxe Swedish Massage

A few days ago Michael announced to me that he had booked an 80-Minute Deluxe Swedish Massage for me at a local day spa with all the amenities.  Yeah, he’s a keeper.  I was both incredibly grateful (not only did he book it, but the appointment time he chose for me would necessitate my being out of the house during dinner and putting kids to bed – Hallelujah!), and somewhat guilty (did I mention it would mean his having to deal with dinner and bedtime on his own?).

In the end, I threw my cares to the wind, blowing kisses to my offspring as I left the house.

Here’s a recap of my 80-Minute Deluxe Swedish Massage:

Eighty minutes . . . that’s a loooong time.  Damn, and that’s a lot of money!   Okay, I’m not going to think about that.  It’s only money.  A week’s worth of groceries.  A couple tanks of gas for my truck.  Poof, all gone in eighty minutes.  Okay, stop thinking about the money!

. . . I wonder how much whining and complaining about dinner I’m missing right about now . . . snicker . . . Ahhhh, okay, get undressed, climb on the table and slip under the sheet.  Crap, my underwear are damp from sitting in that puddle next to the jacuzzi!  Auuughh!  Okay, do I tell the masseur that I sat in water by the jacuzzi, or will that make me seem unnecessarily defensive?  Maybe better to not say anything . . . maybe she won’t notice.  I mean, it’s not like she’s going to touch my butt.  Right?

Oh yeah, and that jacuzzi.  That felt so good, just my feet in.  Isn’t it weird when you’re in a place like this and some chick comes prancing along all naked?  And then it’s like, I don’t want to look, but you can’t help looking because it’s a NAKED person!  So you just try to be cool and act like there’s not a naked person in the jacuzzi right in front of you, and they’re all acting like they’re not naked . . . but no naked person today!  Thank goodness . . .

Okay, here she is.  Smoosh my face into the little donut thing . . .  Ahhhh.  That feels sooooooo gooooooood . . . . ack, my nose itches.  Just ignore it!  Oh, look, I can see her shoes through the donut thing!  I wonder if she’s making faces up there where I can’t see . . . I bet they do that all the time.  God, I wouldn’t want to do this for a living.  Imagine some of the people who come in here . . . Stinky, sweaty people.  I mean, I’m sure it happens!  Can you imagine, you’re just doing your thing, giving a massage, and then the person farts?  And then what?  You’d just have to go about your business . . .

. . . . Hmmm, I wonder if my legs are stubbly.  I should have shaved today instead of yesterday . . . ahhhh, that feels nice.  Drifting . . . drifting . . .

 

DID I JUST HEAR MYSELF SNORE?!  Okay, no more drifting.  She must have heard that.  She’s definitely making faces now.  I would be!  . . . I hope the kids aren’t giving Michael too hard a time at home . . . snicker, snicker . . .

Ugh, that weird bump on my shin . . . maybe she doesn’t notice it.  She definitely notices it.  I’m just going to lie very, very still and not think about it . . . my stomach is rumbling.  It’s that leftover meatloaf I scarfed down before I came over here.  Sheesh.  Shut up already!  So embarrassing . . . Hmmmm . . . that wall fountain is making me feel like I need to pee . . . focus on the massage.  You don’t need to pee, you don’t need to pee . . . uh oh, she’s working her way up towards my butt . . . I wonder if my underwear are dry yet . . . Just lie very still and don’t think about it . . .

I wonder how many pornos have been made with a massage-room theme.  Because you just know this setting screams PORNO.  I mean, if they can make pornos about doctor’s offices and pool guys, of course there’ve been pornos made about someone going to get a massage . . . Okay, stop thinking about pornos already!  Geez.

. . . now the arms . . . ahhh . . . so niiiiiicccceeee . . .

Now her stomach is rumbling!  I wonder what she ate . . . I wonder if she’s embarassed . . .

Ahhhh . . .

Shoulders . . . ohhhh, that feels soooo good . . . mmmmmm . . .

Oh my gosh . . . my scalp?  Ohh . . . wow . . . that . . . feels . . .  sooooooooo . . . gooooooooood . . . Oh my gosh . . . maybe there is a god . . . ohhhhhh . . . chills . . . yes . . . yes . . . YES . . . YES!!!

Ahhhhhhh . . . eighty minutes?  That sure went fast.

 

 

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The Power of Language

If you missed the radio interview in which Kevin participated last night, you can still listen to it by going to choicesradio.com.  On the right side of the home page, there is a box labeled “Recent Shows;” click on the show entitled “The R-word” dated January 20.

Kevin and Nic (eldest son of Monica of Monkey Musings) did a fabulous job with the interview, talking about their own personal experiences having a sibling with Down syndrome, how that has impacted them and how they see the world, and how it has made them very conscious of the concept of tolerance.  I’m very, very proud of both boys.  It takes a lot of chutzpah for anyone to speak out and stand up for what they believe in – let alone to do so and be an adolescent, risking alienation and ridicule by one’s peers.

It is extremely disheartening how prevalent words like “retard” and “retarded” still are, despite the current movement to do away with such language.  And while it might not be so surprising to hear epithets like these on the playground and in the halls of middle- and high-schools, it’s worth noting that these words fly thoughtlessly from the mouths of adults as well.  Parents.  Educated, professional people.  Politicians.  Teachers.  Even early intervention therapists.  It’s just so easy to slap the label of “retarded” onto anything viewed as substandard, annoying, ridiculous, or distasteful.  What people who use this language don’t seem to get, though, is that in so using such labels, they are in effect comparing things, events, people, or ideas which they personally find to be substandard, annoying, ridiculous, or distasteful to a whole class of people who are different by mere virtue of a medical diagnosis and differing abilities.  They are, in effect, calling these people – real, actual, living, feeling people! – substandard, annoying, ridiculous, or distasteful.  And it hurts – it hurts the people with differing abilities, and it hurts the people who love them.

It’s not just “retard” and “retarded” though.  There are so many words the fly around that disparage whole groups of people.  Gay.  Lame.  Idiot.  Moron.  Those are just a few very common, very popular ones.  Words that even a lot of people who despise and speak out against the R-word think nothing of.  Maybe I’m just too sensitive, too aware, I don’t know.  I just know that I want my kids to grow up in a world where nobody is put down and marginalized because of race, philosophical orientation, sexual orientation, or ability level.  A world where every human being, no matter size, shape, or color, is valued.  If people as a whole are valued, truly valued, the language will follow.  That’s what I think.

Kudos to Kevin and Nic for standing up and speaking out.

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BP

A friend asked me last night at Bunco how my blood pressure is.  It always makes me laugh (and cringe a little) when I am confronted with the fact that people know things about me solely through my blog.  Blogging, it’s a funny thing . . .

Anyhoo, so here’s the skinny –

(If you’re new here, which you’re probably not – you almost certainly followed me over here from over there – but if you are, just a quick recap: I was informed a couple months ago during a routine lady’s checkup (to put it delicately, heheh) that my blood pressure was through the proverbial roof.  I was ordered to follow up with my regular doc ASAP, and by way of doing that, it became clear that it wasn’t just a fluke, I actually have . . . duhn duhn DUHN . . . chronic hypertension.  Blah.  My doctor wrote me a prescription, and upon researching it I found it to be incompatible with breastfeeding, so I requested a different, breastfeeding-friendly medication.  And that’s where we left off.)

That new medication sat in my bathroom cabinet for awhile.  I couldn’t bring myself to jump off that bridge and commit myself to surrendering to being dependent on prescription medication for the rest of my life – despite my vow to “put on my big girl panties” and get over it already.  Would some minor lifestyle tweaks make a difference?  What about supplements?

So I began walking regularly.  And not just strolling, but putting on my athletic sneakers and “power walking,” working up a sweat and getting the ol’ heartrate up.  I committed to eating healthier.  I combed the aisles at my local whole foods store looking for anything that proclaimed itself to be beneficial to blood pressure and/or cardiovascular health.  I even began eating celery – a lot of it – every day because someone sent me this article.

This became my daily regimen for a couple of weeks.

Sadly, it made no difference.  I continued to monitor my blood pressure every day, and it was always high – usually frighteningly high.  And in the end, I realized this wasn’t looking good, so I caved and started taking the prescription medication with a heavy heart, so to speak.  And that first day, my blood pressure went from 155/95 to 137/74.  The proof is in the pudding, my friends.

It’s a little embarrassing to look at that picture and see the desperation in it.  And it’s ironic, too, that I was so resistant to being dependent on a prescription medication but for some odd reason, it seemed perfectly okay to be dependent on . . .  other stuff.  And the other stuff wasn’t cheap!  The prescription costs me ten bucks a month.  And no side effects!  I feel perfectly fine.  I guess it was just an exercise I had to undertake to prove to myself that there was no other way.

I’ve continued with the walking – at least four or five mornings a week, and it does me a world of good.  It gets the endorphins pumping, and it feels good just to be out and about in the fresh air, alone with my thoughts.  And I’ve lost seven pounds!!  That is a definite bonus, and one I wasn’t even aiming for.  I wasn’t overweight, but I was at the heaviest non-pregnant weight I’ve ever been, and I’ve been stuck there since Finn was born, so I have just been trying for the longest time to accept and make peace with it, and having a bitch of a time.  And now suddenly I’m where I was before I got pregnant with the twins seven years ago!  My fantasies of a tummy tuck are dissolving as I shrink inside my clothes.  And for the first time in a looooooong time, I am not feeling this desperate need to hide in baggy shirts.  It feels good.

I had a follow-up appointment with my doctor this morning.  My bp was 134/76.  He said he’d see me in six months.  It’s a deal.

 

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Siblings and Activism

 

Tomorrow evening, January 20, Kevin will be taking part in a radio interview concerning his experiences and perspective having a sibling with special needs.  I hope anyone reading this will tune in and listen to what he has to say.  The show can be heard live beginning at 7:00 p.m. PST by going to choicesradio.com.

The host of the show, Teen Talk, is Nicole O’Dell, a woman I got to know when I was active on a large families message board on pregnancy.org.  At the time that she and I became acquainted, I was pregnant with Finn, and she was pregnant with triplets.  She, as well as many other women from pregnancy.org, witnessed the online account of Finn’s birth and the aftermath, during which we found out he has Down syndrome.  Over time, my involvement on pregnancy.org evaporated as blogging and Facebook gradually replaced message boards for me, but several moms I got to know through pregnancy.org have continued to follow me and Finn through Facebook and blogging.  It always gives me the warm fuzzies when I realize that any of those women still take an interest in my family and how Finn has changed us all.  Nicole is one of those women, and here’s what she wrote about our family on her website concerning tomorrow’s show: The R-Word.

Nicole is a busy mom of six herself (including the triplets, who are now two years old), as well as being a YA author and a radio talk show host.  She had Kevin on her program one other time several months ago during a segment on bullying, so this will be Kevin’s second time participating in her radio show.

Kevin has always been outspoken about his feelings towards Finn and how Finn has impacted him and our family.  I hope you’ll tune in to the show tomorrow evening!  If you miss it, the podcast will be available for download Friday morning.

 

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Dysfunction

The Mirriam-Webster Dictionary defines forgive as “to cease to feel resentment against (an offender).”

Can there be real forgiveness on the part of the offended in the absence of remorse or regret on the part of the offender?  This is a fundamental question I struggle with in the context of certain relationships.

How can there be forgiveness – or trust for that matter – if someone behaves in a manner that causes very real hurt, stress, and anger, but that person refuses or is incapable of seeing and acknowledging that their behavior negatively impacts someone else?  If there is no remorse, then there is also no assurance that the offender will not continue to behave obnoxiously, insensitively, rudely, and hurtfully.  How does one move on from there?

There is no choice but to accept the person as they are, with no expectation that they will change to suit you.  This means accepting that they are unwilling and/or unable to see past their own feelings, and this will very likely result in continued behavior that is offensive and hurtful to the people around them.

With every relationship, there must be a cost-benefit analysis.  Does this relationship benefit me more than it harms me?  Does it enrich my life more than it costs me?  Does it bring me more positivity than negativity?

We are all, as adults with all of our faculties intact, responsible for our own happiness.  Part of being responsible for our own happiness is choosing to involve ourselves in healthy relationships that are based on mutual respect, honesty, straightforward dealing, trust, kindness, and mutual valuing of one another’s personhood and feelings.  Involving ourselves in relationships that don’t have those elements is akin to choosing to be victims.

I refuse to be a victim.

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Speech Therapy

Here is a clip of Kevin teaching Finn Teenspeak.  Finn seems to be very receptive to this.

Seriously, who needs speech therapy with such willing teachers as siblings?

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Maintenance of Finnian

This week we had two “maintenance” appointments for Finn: one with the ENT to check the status of the tubes he had put in his ears about a year and a half ago, and the other, today, with a pediatric opthamologist for a regular annual checkup of the ol’ peepers.

I have been suspecting lately that Finn’s tubes have come out, because he’s starting to have one cold after another, like he did before he got tubes, and which getting tubes largely did away with.  He just finished a round of antibiotics for an ear infection before Christmas, and here he is again, congested and snotty.  So the visit to the ENT was actually timed very well.  No ear infection this time, but he does have a sinus infection.  Also, it appears that one of his tubes is gone.  The other is still there, but undetermined if it’s still functioning or not.  So Finn is on another round of antibiotics (the ENT prefers Augmentin over Amoxicillan; “Amoxicillan no good!” he says sharply), and I have to say that after just two doses, he already is showing vast improvement.  It also looks like he’ll be getting more tubes put in before too terribly long.

Today’s appointment with the opthamologist was looooong.  A lot of waiting.  Waiting to be seen initially, then more waiting for the eye drops to dilate his pupils.  His vision appears to be fine at this point.  However, the doctor did note that the optic nerve in his left eye appears to be smaller than normal.  This is not new; the first pediatric opthamologist Finn saw at seven months old noted the same thing (see here).  The doctor today, however, (a different doctor; the old guy retired) is requesting a referral to an endocrinologist, and she mentioned a possible brain MRI!  A brain MRI?  This was alarming!  She said that oftentimes, a smaller-than-normal optic nerve is related to pituitary abnormalities.

I’m not going to let myself get all worked up about this.  We’ll just have to wait and see what happens and take it from there.

We are still waiting to get a solid date for his sedated echo which will reveal, once and for all, the status of the ASD he was born with.  It’s been rescheduled more times than I can count now, which is frustrating.  As of now, we do not have a date.

Finn is oblivious to all of this.  Ears?  Eyes?  Heart?  Whatever!  He’s just busy tearing up the joint.  And I have to say that I’ve never been more sure that we did the right thing in quitting therapy.  He’s making gains by leaps and bounds, and it’s a sight to behold.

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Letter To The Guy With The Undersized Penis . . . er, Oversized Truck

Dear Guy With the Monster Truck,

You should know that when I parked my SUV in that parking structure this morning (you know the one), I carefully chose a parking spot with plenty of room on either side of it.  See, I am aware that I need this room in order to get my children in and out, which requires me to climb in the back and buckle them into and out of their carseats.  Now you may not care that I have children, and you may even disdain that I have children (I have to assume that you do not use your Bulldozer Hybrid to transport tiny spawn; with a vehicle like that, I just really doubt you’re a stroller-pushing, little butt-wiping, hand-holding, story-reading dad).  But I did try to give you fair warning that I do have children, and several of them at that.  Did you not see the rather large family of stick figures parading across the back window of my humble vehicle?  Not sure how you could miss it.  That, sir, is your cue to give me room if you insist on parking next to me.

Perhaps owning such a glorious specimen of automobile as you own infuses one with the feeling that one is taking charge of things!  Taking charge of the road, by God!  Taking charge of all parking spaces!  Let’s hear it for Taking Charge!

Let me just take this opportunity to set you straight.  You may own a grotesquely gargantuan vehicle, but you do NOT own the road, nor are you the King of All Parking Spaces.  If you are going to park so close to me that I have to suck in all my breath and mold the natural shapes of my children in order to squeeze all of us into my smaller, reasonable, humble truck, then chances are really good – excellent, in fact – that the paint on your shiny truck will sustain some type of blemish.  And under those circumstances, I’m not likely to leave you a note of apology with my contact information should you feel the need to pursue the person who left a ding on your truck and demand restitution.

Have a nice day.

Sincerely,

Totally Irked

PS: Best of luck with that smaller-than-average penis!

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A Good Mother?

I am often told that I’m a good mother.  A great mother.  An amazing mother.  I don’t say this to brag, but rather to illustrate perspective.  People who say this to me are usually people who only have a skin-deep acquaintance with me.  Not that the people who know me intimately don’t think I’m a good mother, but they, of course, see my flaws and shortcomings in all their glory, and they understand what a struggle it is to strive to be a good parent and to often fall short of the mark.  The compliments and kudos always make me somewhat uncomfortable, and I take them with a grain of salt.  I often think that I get automatic bonus points in other people’s minds because of the mean feat of raising six kids and not completely cracking up (so far, anyway).

I don’t know if I’m a good mother.  I know that before I had kids, I had very definite ideas of what kind of parent I would be (mostly what this consisted of was the vow to be Nothing Like My Own Parents) and, therefore, what kind of kids I would have – believing that the parenting shapes the kids.  Which is true to an extent – certainly, particular types of parenting practices bring about certain responses and behaviors in kids.  But kids come into the world prewired to a degree, and what I have found is that there is no one-size-fits-all parenting – not even within the same household.

For most of my life, well into childbearing, I was afraid to have a daughter.  Seriously, my first two pregnancies, I knew they were boys.  Just knew it in my bones.  But there were those few moments of sudden uncertainty both times as I lay back on the table, anticipating the ultrasound wand that would determine my future (or so it felt), when a cold panic set in.  What if it’s a girl?  I didn’t want a girl.  I was afraid to be a mother to a girl.  The volatile and unhealthy relationship I shared with my own mother left me feeling completely incapable of having a healthy mother-daughter relationship – even if I was on the mother end of it rather than the daughter end.

And then I got pregnant with twins.  And they both turned out to be girls!  At the time, I was far more undone by the prospect of twins than of two girls.  The idea of it grew on me – both the twins part and the girl part – and I was truly excited, finally, to be given the gift of daughters.

As it turns out, though, these two daughters of mine have turned out to be more challenging than any of my other kids.  Daisy with her high emotions, and Annabelle with her strong-willedness (is that a word?).  I often feel completely drained parenting these two, and very ill-equipped.  And out of the two of them, my relationship with Annabelle breaks my heart the most.  She and I spend so much time at odds with each other.  Did I mention she’s strong-willed?  She is a girl who marches to the beat of her own drum.  She is a non-conformist.  She doesn’t like rules.  She doesn’t like “work.”  She’s my good-time girl.   And I have to be the heavy with her, the hard-ass.  And she resents it, and we go around in circles so much of the time.

Recently at dinner, we were all joking around, and Michael asked Annabelle, “How would it be if you were in charge of the world?”  Her response included the expected “lots of ice cream, no school, and no homework.”  And then she said, “And no mommies.”

Wow.  I’ll admit it – it hurt.  I didn’t take the bait, though, I just let her have her fantasy.  A world without mommies.

I know, I know.  She’s six.  She has no idea what she’s talking about.  And I know she doesn’t really want “no mommies.”  But it said something to me about what kind of mother I am to her.  Yes, she’s challenging – very, very challenging – but I know I’m not doing the best job with her.

Sometimes I do something as a parent that makes me feel really, really good.  I’ll handle a tricky situation well, or I’ll have a meaningful dialogue with one of my kids, or I’ll stay calm in the face of utter chaos.  Other times, I do things as a parent that leave me feeling ashamed and regretful.  This usually involves losing my temper and yelling, or displaying a general shortness of patience.

I think whether I’m a good mother varies from week to week, day to day, and sometimes even hour to hour.

But really, who makes the final judgment about what kind of mother I am?  I have come to the conclusion that only my kids can rightly judge this – and only when they’re all grown up themselves.  It doesn’t matter if my neighbor thinks I’m a good mother, or my friends, or the people who read my blog, or my husband, or even myself.

I have a friend who tells me the story of how when he was a kid, his dad told him that what he wanted for Father’s Day was a “World’s Greatest Dad” charm.  As if wearing a charm that announced him as the World’s Greatest Dad would actually make him the World’s Greatest Dad.  But I know my friend carries around wounds and anger left over from his childhood – so which says more, the charm or the wounds?

My own mother, I think, believes she was a good enough mother.  Or at least, she certainly believes she’s excused by her circumstances for not being a better parent.  And yet, I carry around scars and baggage from my childhood that no amount of therapy will dispel.  So how much stock can really be put into her evaluation of her mothering?

And people can tell me I’m a good mother, a great mother, an amazing mother all the live long day.  But if my kids grow up and are left wounded in some way that can be attributed to how they were parented, then none of those accolades mean much, do they?

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I am now the proud owner of . . . a fourteen-year-old

Fourteen years ago today, my firstborn came into the world.

Is there anything more bittersweet to a mother than the quick passage of time?

Happy birthday, Kevin. You are part of the abundance of my life.

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