Thursday, March 24, 2016

So, I recovered enough, I guess, from my last relationship to try to "put myself out there" again, only I go to work, and go home, and "putting myself out there" here means "putting a clever, well written, articulate dating profile featuring flattering but current pictures on assorted dating websites." I soon found that my potential mates were all dudes who like to fish. A LOT. Dudes who were "sick of the games" and wanting to "settle down with the right one finally." Dudes who didn't offer anything about themselves in their profiles, but instead said "wanna no? [sic] just ask." The vast majority of those who were age appropriate had kids who were their "entire world. If you can't understand that, it's not going to happen." (I know that I'm being very sexist when I say that the women involved in this sick game do understand it, in ways that most of the non-custodial parents never, ever will.) I'd get messages from dudes who made boob jokes about "the twins" (OMG ARE YOU KIDDING ME, THOSE ARE MY CHILDREN YOU CREEPAZOID.) Once in a while I'd get a message from someone nice enough, and I'd respond, and we'd talk about our likes and dislikes, and typically within hours of exchanging numbers I would receive wildly inappropriate messages, including unsolicited nude photos, but usually questions about my preferences for particular sex acts and requests to see pictures of my breasts. (Except they of course, never, ever called them breasts.) One in, say, 50 dudes, wasn't gross and could spell (sort of) and had pictures of themselves doing things that didn't involve reeling in fish or taking down game, and we'd chat and we'd set a date and I'd painstakingly arrange for child care and then....I'd stop hearing from him the day before the date, or we'd go out and he was nice but there was no chemistry and maybe that's because we were both nervous but I've literally never, ever experienced real chemistry on an internet date and I've been on like a million. I'd find myself feeling guilty for not giving these men more of a chance, but for an average date I'm spending $50 on a sitter just to get out the door...and I find myself wanting to either hang with my monkeys or with my Lady Tribe instead. It's frustrating, and I've given up. Again. Although I have developed amazing friendships with women online, friendships that have moved from the computer screen to "IRL," I don't have faith that it can happen romantically, even if our "match percentage" is 80% or better. If I can't meet someone organically, I don't know that I want to. What I do want: I want a grown-up with whom I can share the adorable things my monkeys do. I want a big hairy man hug once in a while. I want someone who will take me out to dinner, with or without my children. I want someone who understands that my monkeys and I are a huge responsibility. What I do not want: I do not want someone who complains about "all the money" they're sending to the other parent of their children. I do not want someone who tells me I'm not tough enough on my children. I do not want someone who wants to date casually. I do not want to be raped or murdered. The biggest, an dmost alarming issue that I've become amazingly aware of in all of this is that this is scary. This is not just emotionally scary, in that I and my monkeys could end up hurt emotionally like last time. This is not just scary because rejection stings. This is legitimately really and truly scary. I felt crazy when I Googled the first one I'd set a date with, then learned that he had theft and domestic violence convictions. Then I felt vindicated, not crazy. So now I Google them all. I must make sure at least one friend knows the name of the person I'm meeting, and where we're going, "in case I die." Do men do this? I don't know. Even if it's not a real threat, and it's all in my head, I've been taught my whole life to be afraid, that I'll probably be raped or murdered. AND IT IS SO SCARY AND IT FEELS SO REAL. At least 3 men in this last go-round asked me if my pictures were current, and I said that they were, and at least one said "because one time this girl showed up at least 50 pounds heavier than the pictures she'd posted." And I understand that there has to be a physical attraction, but what began to really, really stand out to me is that these dudes were afraid I would be fat. And I was afraid I'd be murdered. And my children wouldn't have a mother. And my parents would be down one daughter. And my Facebook wall would go from one filled with musings on parenting and silly songs to a tribute. And my friends would have to deal with the senseless and tragic loss of my murder. And they were afraid I would be fat.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015


The longer he's gone, the more littered the passenger seat of my car becomes. Water bottles, Target bags, receipts. If I ever get the opportunity to leave the house sans children (less often, now, with having to pay for the sitter AND dinner) I end up somewhere we'd been together. If I go somewhere with the kids, they'll remind me, and quickly, of "that time when ... came here with us"...before we saw Rudolph, when we had the tater tots. They'll ask "can we go to the spaghetti restaurant?" ...said he liked the pink flamingos the best, too. They miss his dog. They miss his house. They miss him. And their missing him keeps me where I am, within my grief. The tears spring to my eyes, and luckily, it's summer, and I can pull my sunglasses down over my eyes. Every time I cross the river, twice a day, I remember riding in the front of the kayak down that river, the sun on my skin, the cheap beer cold on my lips, him, just out of reach. I switch on the ceiling fan in my bedroom, the one I was afraid to install, the one he put up for me, joking that the connection needed to point north. I found a staple on the wood floor in the boy's instinct was to text him. His facebook page is too painful for me to view; all that's visible to me now is the times we spent together. I look at his IG every couple of days. His life seems to be moving on as though I was never a part of it. And really, I never was. He always meant more to me than I did to him. He was out of my league from the start. Why would I be worthy of a grownup, a real grownup? One with a job, and a house, and a car, one who offers to drive, insists on paying? He was always a gentleman. Up until the night he broke me. In June, I fell in love. In May, my heart was broken. And now, now on these warm summer days, I battle to stay strong for my children. They deserve the fun, happy, active mom they're used to. I keep hoping he'll change his mind. He won't. I go through the motions. I wash the dishes, I fold the laundry. And I quake with fear that *it* will never happen for me. That I will either be the cliche, dragging man after man through my kids' lives, or that I will end up alone. My recovery times between breakups are growing longer and longer. It isn't fair to them. It isn't fair to me. It's not fair. None of it is fair. The loneliness of single parenthood is one I never dreamed of. I am not cut out to be stoic. The small taste I had of love, the life I desire, seems so far out of reach. I'm simultaneously in need of a fast forward button to get through the grief, and a pause button to keep the days long, and my children small and resilient. And I know it will get better. I know I will get better.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Dear Son

Dear son, You have recently been diagnosed with a mitral valve cleft that will need to be corrected surgically within a few years. I know that your heart is whole, and I know that you will be okay. Every once in a while, though, I feel the old terror take hold. That perhaps something will go wrong, that you will be harmed by the very hands that are there to help. That you will be handed back to me different than you'd left, or worse. But your sister and I need you, and I have to know that you will be okay, that you will be better than before. My darling boy, we have also learned that the reason you have such a hard time communicating with us is that you have a mild form of verbal apraxia. Your brain has a hard time telling your mouth which shapes to make to make the sounds you need to speak. The same disorganization could be the reason you have a hard time opening doors, working puzzles , and pedaling your tricycle. Helping you through this will be hard, and the road will be long. You, however, have made a habit of proving everyone wrong. One of your few multi-word phrases is, "oops, try again." And try again you do. You never give up, and you always find a way to make yourself understood. And your sister and I knowthhat this won't stop you either. We love you. Mama and Monkey B

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


On cool, crisp Saturday morning, I layered up the monkeys and we headed for the zoo for a charity walk benefiting the NICU where the monkeys spent their first 9 weeks. Two of my closest friends and their bubbas rounded out our team. As it turns out, herding 5 children, ages 6, 4, 3, 2, and 2 is no easy task so we unfortunately all got separated very quickly. I didn't see glimpses of those, my other favorite children until an hour later or so, playing on a hillside, past the throngs of NICU graduates and their families. While the monkeys are just getting excited about seeing animals, they were far more interested in the freedom to wander freely and use the "big kid slide."  I thought of their first days...intubated, hooked to wires, on IVs.... as I watched their red little noses crinkle with laughter and was grateful.

The walk was short, as the ceremony in the center gardens was long. The couple who created the walk 6 years ago spoke, and while their daughter had only spent a few days there, they acknowledge the "club" to which NICU families belong. They referred to it as an "elite club," one to which no one wishes to belong. It truly is one that cannot be understood until it's been lived through. One develops a new vocabulary and realizes a new reality; words like "tachy" and "episode" work their way into your everyday vernacular, you find yourself using CCs to describe how much breast milk you've pumped, commenting on the large size of the 4 pound baby in the next isolette, and celebrating when your child is big enough to fit into preemie sized onesies.

My monkeys and I sported t-shirts with their birth weights and age (29 weeks) so others could see just how far they've come. They're both 10 times their birth weights now, and on their feet. Other family teams had shirts with the ages and weights of their angel babies, the term used to refer to those babies who didn't get to go home with their families. One family team had triplets, and had shirts honoring the birth dates and weights of all 3 babies, and only 2 survived. The surviving two were 5 years old, and I hugged my littles close, so grateful for what I have. I thought of the 15 year old mother I met while there, whose tiny baby lived to be 6 months old, who had to make a choice to turn off the machines, a choice no mother should have to make, especially one who is still a child herself. I thought of my friends across from us, whose two little girls had to say goodbye to their sweet brother before they were even born. I thought of my friends I had pre-NICU, who experienced a traumatic birth which tried to kill both mother and son, and stood in awe of how their family faces the challenges they now face with a child with special needs. I hugged my babies even tighter. I looked around and saw the children on crutches, and in wheelchairs, and with other lasting effects of either their prematurity, their traumatic births, or the birth defects that landed them in the NICU and wept, and the words "there but for the grace of God go I" played on repeat in my head as I looked around at the tear filled eyes of the adults around me, and into the giggling faces of the oblivious children tearing up the beautifully maintained gardens.

Now that the overwhelming relief of having had my babies survive has subsided, I'm now faced with a new set of unanticipated anxieties. I watch my daughter struggle to stay focused, and worry that she's exhibiting symptoms of ADD. I try to comfort as she cries and cries when she gets over tired or over stimulated and worry about sensory integration issues. I note my son's lack of spoken words, and watch him flap his arms when excited, and worry about autism. I watch his ankles turn inward and worry that that diagnosis of cerebral palsy may have some weight after all.

There are fates so much worse than that which my family has faced. I worry that I am wishing away their childhood as I wait for the next milestone that will reassure me that they will be okay.
In that cool sunshine, I squeezed my children until they wriggled free. I am so, so lucky.    

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

the last of the juice...

I pumped. I pumped and pumped. I pumped for 9 months, stopping last May. I spent a lot of time in front of the laptop watching Hulu, hooked up to the milker, almost hearing my babies being cared for in another room. (Read Tina Fey's BossyPants if you want to learn more about how strange this feels.) My supply had plummeted when I went back to work in February, and I had to get up at 5am so I could pump before leaving for work, I pumped 3 times at work, and immediately upon returning home. I pumped twice after the babies went to sleep. I pumped in my car in Walgreens parking lots. I pumped behind curtains in Monkey A's hospital rooms. I grew used to the inside of my bra being slightly damp most of the time. I watched all of ALF, from beginning to end. In April, I decided I'd had enough. I began to wean, and pumped my last pump the day the babies were dedicated at church. I'd stocked some away in the freezer in case Monkey A needed additional surgery (breast milk counts as clear fluid...starving a baby is no joke.) I just cancelled the bronchoscopy Monkey A had scheduled for next week; I decided he's been breathing fine and there wasn't a need to risk having him put under anesthesia. So I pulled the last 18 ounces of frozen milk from the freezer, and the babies sipped it with their other milk over the last couple of days. Tonight, Baby B chugged hers down and looked for more. Baby A drank less than half, burped some up, and refused the rest. And that was that. The end of my labors. I'm generally relieved that I didn't forget about it and let it "expire," but I'm also...sad? guilty? These are mixed feelings. I meant to be an extended breast feeder. Being a dairy cow was never in my mind. I didn't even buy any bottles that didn't come with my pump because I was so certain that they would just...get it. And we never did. And while I logically know that I did well, that I did more than many would have done, I'll never stop wondering if I maybe didn't try enough.

p.s. if you're looking for my previous post, entitled "the other parent," I removed it out of respect for the babies' father's privacy. He did not ask me to take it down, I did it myself as I failed to ask his permission before posting it. The short of it is...we'll be fine and we're doing our best. :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012


He took a few steps a couple days before I turned 35. Amazing. Then yesterday, he took lots. From me to my sister, with both of my parents sitting there. We all clapped and cried and cried and clapped and he is so, so proud.

We had our 18 month well visit...I think we're still "delayed," for speech especially. I'm not really worried, not yet. The pediatrician asked if they repeated words we said, and no, hadn't been. But that same night, they did. And this is why I'm not worried.

In other news, these are things I'm reading:

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What a strange thing to say...

I started a new job this week. Better money, a better fit for my personality I think. I haven't yet met anyone who's to be my work BFF, but that's okay.

Two strange things have happened though....

The first was this:  On Wednesday, my supervisor told me about a meeting for Saturday. I mentioned that I would have to arrange child care and he asked "can't your husband do it?" I don't have a ring on, so I don't know why he assumed I was married. It put me in a place where I had to say "we don't have one of those," and it made me feel all strange, like I had to defend my life decisions to an almost complete stranger. I was most bothered that it bothered me. I need to get past this myself if I'm to make sure my kids know we're normal, that our family is structured is the way it's supposed to be.

The second was this: A co-worker said, "your little boys are too cute!" I said, "one's a girl, but thanks" and's a common enough mistake. Her name is fairly androgynous, and she's not getting her ears pierced and she won't leave bows in her hair. This doesn't bother me much. The co-worker asked how old they are, and I told her "17 months, but they came almost 3 months early, so they act more like 14 months." The co-worker said, "lucky you! you didn't have to carry them all that time." Without skipping a beat, I said, "What a strange thing to say...the babies stayed in the hospital for 9 weeks and one has some ongoing health problems. I'm very lucky that they're alive, but I would give anything to have carried them to term."  This woman is clearly not going to be that work BFF I wanted, and I'll be lucky if she says hello to me on Monday. But seriously! In what world is having 3 pound babies lucky?  I wish I could educate people without biting their heads off, but I cannot. I wish I could have one kind, informative sentence that would open people's eyes to what it's like to have a preemie (or two or more) and make them think twice the next time they encounter a preemie parent. We work in health care, so I hope this co-worker pauses a minute before she says such a thing to a patient.

These are the things that define me now. Being single. Being a parent of two preemies. Two years ago, my summary would have been much different....graduate student, rock n' roll, cowboy boots. Now it's single mama of two, breastfeeding advocate, NICU graduate family. How strange.