Things it’s a Good Idea for Moms With Boys to Get Familiar With

In honor of my good friend M who just had her first child, a gorgeous baby boy. I hope I don’t scare her too much! Just know you can handle it all, mama, that’s the magic of motherhood.

1. Poop. And the fascination thereof. The questions. You’re at the grocery store innocently swiping your credit card, and suddenly he asks you very loudly so the cashier and bag boy and fellow shoppers can ALL hear, “Mama, why was my poop green today, but brown yesterday? And sometimes it has corn in it.” Oh, and skidmarks. Not the road-meets-tire kind. Go to the store, get a bar of Fels-Naptha, (also on Amazon) it’s a miracle worker with the skidmarks, for realz.

2. Pee. There’s so much pee. They don’t get the “aiming” thing for quite a while. In the beginning, you can guarantee yourself a good, spa-quality face wash if you don’t cover that thing. In the mornings now, I completely disrobe Ferris before putting him on the potty, that way he can just rinse off before breakfast. Bowie still goes sitting down. Because, well, why rush that mess. I’ll be dealing with it soon enough.

3. Snot. Boogers. They usually end up smeared on you, or the nearest surface. No matter where they are. Public bathroom stalls, the dinner table, the Starbucks counter, the shopping cart, the back of their brother’s shirt, the art museum wall.

4. Dirt. It’ll be on them about 2.5 seconds after you get them dressed in the morning. Just get used to it. Don’t send them to school in anything white. ANYTHING. Dirt just becomes a way of life. What’s that saying? Boy: noise with dirt on it. ‘Bout sums it up.

5. So that brings up the next one: noise. It’s loud. And I don’t know how they can sustain it for the hours that they do. Even their general dinner table chatter is just LOUD. And, sorry to say, they do not come with a volume button. Between the rocket ship blast offs, lightning-speed car races, screaming fights with each other, throwing heavy objects around the house (not through a window if you’re on of the lucky ones) and the overall just bumping and crashing into things, and the the wailing and crying that ensues. And in elementary school, life becomes a walking commentary. “Did you see that rock? It was shaped just like this tool I have in Minecraft. Hey, can I play Minecraft at home? Because there’s this [minecraft type building/weapon/person/what have you] that I just HAVE to make. I’ll do my homework super fast. Madeline said it wasn’t a lot of homework. Maybe we can go to the park. Hey, are we going to the beach this weekend? Maybe Cal can come.”  Just go out and get the biggest, fattest jar of ibuprofen the Costco guy can legally sell you.

6. Sand. Take off their shoes outside, before entering the house. TRUST.

7. Matchbox and Hot Wheels. They multiply overnight when no one’s looking. They’re often left in a precarious place where a 6 a.m. bleary-eyed mom or dad will slip on them. And you’re required to know where The Red One is at all times. Not just a red one, THE red one, the chosen one, the Messiah of their 1,000 piece car collection. (Which changes daily, of course.) And until you have guessed which one it is found it, you’re the worst parent ever.

8. Legos. This I know is a multi-gender issue, along with the little cars. But, when you’ve got two kids of the same gender, they tend to get the same presents, only slightly modified. One gets a rocket ship lego building kit, one gets a race car building kit. And when they are inevitably destroyed, and the pieces get mixed up, let the fist fights and lego hurling begin. (And that’s how it happens that you step on one in the middle of the night and the pain makes you wish you were in hell instead.) I know I’m the no-sharing mom and everything, but I do bend the rules for this one. I try so hard to stick to the plan. “You can have that one very special orange piece which is essential to the integrity of the structure you’re building, when you’re brother is done with it.” But every once in a while frustration kicks in and I just say, “Give it to your brother. Do it. Give it now. Just do it.” Forced sharing, shame on me.

9. Penises. Now, I know you have to be semi-familiar with them to have landed yourself in this boat. But, just get used to hearing the word a lot. And having questions asked that you can’t answer. And watching them twist and bend and stretch in ways you never knew they could. There will be questions too about where’s mommy’s penis? What happened to it? Did you do something to lose it? Did you just never grow one? Any Puritan attitudes you had toward genitalia in general goes out the window completely.

10. The phrase, “Wow, you sure do you have your hands full!” They’ll say this when you’ve got one boy, but when you’ve got more than one, whoo boy. You laugh sheepishly and say, “yep, I sure do.” When what you really want to do is scream in their face, “Good, I’m so glad you can see that! Now would you mind cleaning up that pasta the one just spilled, and grabbing that gallon of  milk the other one is about to throw while I just try to GRAB A GODDAMNED BAG OF FROZEN CORN, FOR F#$%’s SAKE?!” And sometimes you might get that ballsy person that asks, “So, are you going to try for a girl?” Go ahead and slap them right across the face.

11. Milk, bread, cheese, milk, Goldfsh, yogurt, milk, cereal, did I already say milk? Have your job directly deposit your paycheck to the grocery store’s account. Though they be little, they eat like they’ve been starved for a week. Five times a day. And then ask for more.

12. But, the love. Oh, nothing I can say here will prepare you for the love you’ll have for them, despite all that stuff above. Like your heart is just split right open, and their little hearts are nestled inside. When they hug you and kiss you and tell you they love you, you are a puddle on the floor. Every damn time. Never gets old. Thank goodness for sons. Thank goodness for daughters. Thank goodness for parenthood.

bear in sink

Thirty Six

Yesterday I crossed over into my “Late Thirties.” So far, I feel mostly the same. Except that a few nights ago, as I lay in bed unable to sleep, I realized that people born in 1990 are turning 25 this year. And then I felt ANCIENT.

I spent my birthday taking care of my fevery 2 year old, making a trip to Costco with my husband, visiting the Japanese Tea Garden with the 6 year old, talking on the phone with a few extended family members. Quiet, a teeny bit middle-aged-mundane, but I went to bed last night feeling content. Which is all that really matters, right?

At some point along the way, I stopped really caring about my birthday. That’s not the same as not caring about my age. I completely fulfill the stereotype of a woman who cares about her age. Even though nobody else really cares. Even though aging can’t be stopped. I still care. But, I stopped caring about birthdays.

I stopped caring about the fanfare, the attention, the gifts. Which is different from not being grateful for all of it, of course I was and still am. But these days, when the day comes around, there’s always that first person that says, “happy birthday!” (usually it’s my husband) and my response is, “Oh yeah. That. Thanks!”

March is historically a hard month for me, even though it hosts my birthday. It’s a month when, for some reason, the big stuff happens. This year was absolutely no different. Right up there with the “best” years. Generally, I’m pretty glad to see March go. It’s tough to be simultaneously so fed up with life, and also excited that it’s your birthday. Again. 

I think that in general, my life is mostly in a good place. Right now, in this moment, I am in the best place I’ve been in probably 4 years. They were a rough 4 years. But I am finally through to the other side. Or I can at least see very clearly the light at the end of the tunnel. For 4 years now, I have a birthday, and I look back at the past year and think, “How the hell did I survive that?”

I am REALLY hoping that next year the thought is, “Wow, that was a great year. Let’s do that again.”

Some Random Stuff

1. I’m still alive. I realize I haven’t blogged in nearly 4 months. My bad.

2. I’m back now, bigger, better, stronger. I will try not to break the Internet.

3. The sharing article I wrote for PopSugar (YEARS ago) is still making the ’rounds on the webz. While I enjoy a good, open dialogue, and am happy to discuss and answer questions, just know that profanity, insults, and otherwise general harassment will get y’all blocked and banned. Keep it civil, ok? Thank you. *hugs*

4. It’s that time of year again: Season of Scarfing Girl Scout Cookies. Hard. What are your favorite flavors? I’m partial to Samoas. But I do like the Thin Mints too, of course. Who doesn’t? Huz likes the peanut butter chocolate ones, Tagalongs, which are also awesome. What say you?

5. I just got invited to join Ello, and I’m not entirely sure I understand it. Is it for pictures? Is it like other social media sites?

6. Ferris will be officially 2 1/2 mid-March, and I can’t believe how fast he’s picking up on words and phrases right now. His newest gem is, “No more talking anymore!” The Terrible Twos are HERE, folks. HERE. But, somehow, this age is still so fun.

7. Bowie has 3 months left in 1st grade. This is not a year I will miss. (See here.) He’s had a lot of trouble with his sensory issues, and emotional issues, and he’s got a less-than-supportive teacher. But, he’s doing great academically, and I’m focusing on that. Looking forward to some quality time with him this summer, and letting him have some fun in summer camps.

8. Is there a tea you just LUUUURVE and can’t get enough of? Looking to expand my already sagging shelf of teas. I’m familiar with Harney & Sons and Kusmi, let me know your favorite flavors. My every-morning go-to is Stash’s Double Bergamot Earl Grey, what other great Earl Greys are out there?

9. We just joined a gym for the first time, and I always feel incredibly disorganized and awkward as I stand in front of my locker and scramble for stuff. Do you have any tips or handy items that help you stay organized at the gym? Also, what are your favorite machines or activities that your gym offers?

Many thanks for sticking with me through this quiet time. Have a great week!

 

 

 

Onward

 

I still remember the moment we pulled up in front of this house.

We had a lease in an expensive neighborhood that was about to run out, and if we renewed, the landlord would raise the rent. Again. We were desperate to move to our current neighborhood, where we’d have more space, lower rent, and be super close to a kick ass preschool that some of our friends’ kids went to.

Everything we’d looked at or found on Craigslist was too small, too pricy, totally dilapidated, in the wrong neighborhood, or, in one instance, above a liquor store. I remembered seeing a picture of this particular one on Craigslist, but it had blended in with the hundreds of other pictures I viewed of total duds, and those we couldn’t afford.

When we pulled up to it, it was like we were breathing fresh air again for the first time in a long time. And then we met the super sweet, very inviting landlord. And then we went inside, and really fell in love.

I always knew in the back of my mind that we were only renting and would have to leave someday, but that didn’t stop me, or all of us, from letting it start to really feel like home. Our home.

This year we made some big plans to buy our own house. Which is no small feat in San Francisco. So, we made some big budget plans too, and a savings plan that will hopefully take only a year, and then we’d be ready to move onward and upward. One more year here, we thought, and off we go.

So, when the landlord told us they wouldn’t be renewing our lease this year, that instead they themselves would be moving back in, it knocked us on our butts and we didn’t even know what hit us.

We were faced with grim prospects when it came to new places. We had lived in our old house for 4 years, and in that time they raised our rent by $100. In the meantime, rent for similar places had gone up $1500. Which we could probably afford, but then all that saving up for our own place that we were going to do would have gone out the window. So, we had to try to stay close to the same price, but find something livable.

The first apartment I looked at made me want to cry. It was tiny, dark, dingy, falling apart, had ancient appliances and had a fire escape out the window of what would have been the boys’ room. And for that kind of rent, I could never see myself raising my family there. I looked at a few more in that range.

We completely lucked out, really, finding the house that we did. It’s a similar style house, it is actually a house and not an apartment, we can use the garage and backyard, it has laundry, it has nice-sized bedrooms, it was a really good fit for us. And best of all, rent was about $100 less. 

We made a huge effort to impress the landlord. Luckily we have good credit scores, and a good relationship with our past landlords, and the new landlord really seemed to like us, and the place was ours.

After we moved most of our stuff in, we had some odds and ends at the old place and a ton of cleaning to do. As I chipped away at it, and the old place got emptier and emptier, it really clicked that we were leaving that house behind. And I realized how sad that made me.

Typically I don’t get too attached to houses. We moved around a LOT when I was a kid, and when I was in college I moved every year. Moving was just what you did at the beginning of every summer. When we moved to California, we had an apartment for two years in the Silicon Valley. Then we moved to the city, and lived in that flat for three years. It was hard to leave that one, because that’s where we had Bowie, where we became a family. But, leaving there was our choice. We had reasons. We wanted a different house.

Leaving this one was not our choice. We loved living there. We had even joked about asking them if they’d sell it to us, once we were ready to buy.

Like I said, we knew it wasn’t our house. That someday we’d have to leave, for one reason or another. But that didn’t mean we wouldn’t be surprised when we were asked to leave, and supremely bummed out to have to go.

So, out of sadness, anger, frustration and just plain old disappointment, I’ve started noticing all the things I’m not fond of in the new house. The house that seemed like it had fallen from the sky directly into our laps, a gift from some higher power at just the moment we needed it.

A list of things I don’t like about our new house:

1. It’s not our old house.

2. It’s further from Bowie’s school. So mornings mean a long walk to school, or driving him there.

3. To do the laundry or go into the back yard, we have to go outside to the street level and in through the front of the garage. Mildly annoying.

4. Also annoying about the cars driving by: we are right on the corner, and unlike most of the other intersections in our neighborhood, it is not a 4-way stop, but only a 2-way stop with oncoming traffic that does not stop. So, at least once a day, often more, I hear someone skidding to a stop and honking their horn incessantly because another driver wasn’t paying attention.

5. There’s no dishwasher.

6. There’s no garbage disposal.

7. There’s a street light right outside our bedroom window.

But, it’s absurd, really. We went from functioning house to functioning house, roof over our heads to roof over our heads. Being picky about the house is certainly a First World Problem. And I really need to remember that.

Besides, there’s a good number of things I do like:

1. We’re 3 blocks from the ocean.

2. The next door neighbors are a really sweet older couple that have already stopped by to introduce themselves, given the boys a small gift, repaired a little hole in the sidewalk near our driveway, given us protips about the street parking here and pulled our garbage bins back to our house on garbage day.

3. I have a lot more space for gardening than I had before. So much more! Barring gopher issues, I should really have a lot of success back there. The yard also comes complete with a peach tree and two pear trees! Gotta love that.

4. The kitchen is bigger and more open. I can see and hear what the boys are doing either from the living room or from their bedroom while I cook and clean.

5. The whole house is brighter. There are so many more windows in a corner house, and the way the house faces, we have sun almost all day.

6. The house is SO MUCH LESS DRAFTY. That was one of the things I highly disliked about the old place. You could feel the wind blow through the glass in the living room. So, nice, new, non-drafty windows are a plus.

7. We have much better cell phone reception than we had before. I used to have to go outside to make a phone call, or at the very least go all the way to the back of the house and stand next to a window. But here, I can make calls all around the house! In the living room! In the KITCHEN!

We are likely only going to be here for one year. Bowie’s first grade year. Ferris’ first year of preschool. It should zip right by. And maybe after my feelings of loss start to ease up I can let myself settle in and really enjoy it here. We’re still in the city that we love, and we’re still in the neighborhood that we love, and we still have a place to call home. I’m grateful for all of that.

Spring is in the Air

Holy crap. I haven’t blogged in two months? TWO MONTHS?! That’s the longest I’ve ever gone since I started blogging to begin with. And the longer I’m away, the harder it is to pick up again.

I’ve been in a funk. I mean, a FUNK.

If I didn’t have children depending on me, I may not actually have gotten out of bed for a long time. I was going about my days, muddling through like a zombie. I have not been taking care of myself very well, and I have been letting things slide. Like the blog.

I’m making changes though. Big ones. Getting back on track with my health, with my life, with my writing and other creative outlets. It’s going to be a long, hard road. But, I can do it.

Like I said in my last entry, I’m in therapy now. And it’s been great. I’ve been holding a ton of anxiety about cancer and my future and all of that, but also anxiety about things I haven’t thought about in years. It’s a bit cliche to say so I suppose, but my therapist knows exactly the things to ask me to get me to open up the past and figure out how it’s affecting my present and how it might affect my future, and that’s helping me feel more in control. She’s fantastic. If you live in the city and are looking for someone, I can pass on her number.

Two months ago, I was hopeful for the future. And I knew the work that had to be put in. But I wasn’t quite ready to do it yet. I’ve had a lot of very eye-opening, you-gotta-figure-this-out-lady moments lately, and I’m ready.

Thanks for your patience.

Some stuff you guys missed while I was away pouting:

1. Ferris turned 18 months officially. He’s getting to be quite the little dude. He’s adventurous and tough, but very sweet and kind. He LOVES animals. And his new favorite thing in the universe is Thomas the Tank Engine, both playing with brother’s forgotten train set and also watching Thomas on the TV. Other current likes: climbing, snuggly blankets, milk, climbing, opening doors, slides, trucks, climbing, puzzles, walking around the neighborhood, climbing, and trying anything that anyone else is eating or drinking. Dislikes: when daddy leaves for work, falling down, having his teeth brushed, getting pushed too high in the swing, having toys taken away from him, split pea soup.

2. I went and turned 35. Which is a big part of some of this “rebirth” I’m feeling right now. Not only is it one of those milestone birthdays, but my therapist was telling me that our bodies and lives tend to move in these 7 year patterns. And 35 is a multiple of 7. I’m ending one 7 year cycle and beginning another. She asked what I’d like to do in the next cycle, and I surprised myself with all the answers I had. It’s going to be a good one I think.

3. The one year anniversary of my kitty’s death came and went and I handled it so much better than I envisioned I would. I think I’m finally moving into Acceptance territory with my grieving. Which is good for his memory and good for me. It’s opening up some space in my brain for other things. Exciting changes.

4. Bowie spent his entire Spring Break two hours away at his grandparents’ house. He had a ton of fun, and we got a little break from each other. A much needed break from each other. It gave me a chance to focus on Ferris for a while and focus on the house a bit. And when he came back, it was such a great feeling to welcome him home. Even though he had a blast, he still missed us all a lot.

So yeah, time marches on, and all of that. Thanks for sticking with me.

My New Year Starts Today

One year ago today, I went in to see my dermatologist, and with Ferris wailing in the background, she cut off the small, suspicious looking mole on the outside of my right thigh, and sent it off to the lab for the diagnosis that would upend my entire life.

From surgery and resulting issues with breastfeeding Ferris, to the financial upheaval of all of it, to the mental impact of getting a cancer diagnosis at age 34, it was a bumpy ride. But, I’m happy to tell you that today, one year after it all began, that I am finally starting to figure it out.

It took me a long time to realize that the bad things that happen to you in your life are not the hardest things you have to do. After all, you are still here, you have survived the bad things. The hardest part is taking the new person you are after they are over, and figuring out how the rest of your life will be for that new person. People (myself included) are always waiting to “get over” the bad things that happen. But I finally figured out that you never get over anything, you simply move on. You are changed, maybe even damaged, but you have the rest of your life to live. It’s really, really hard, but you have to forge a new road for yourself, the old one is gone.

We recently paid off the significant medical debt we had accumulated, both for my melanoma (surgery, office visits, tests, lab work and biopsies, oh my!) and also for my time in the hospital having Ferris, which had happened just 5 months prior. Looking back at the year, I don’t have a clue how we managed, but we did. And it is like taking a huge breath of fresh air every time I remember we don’t have medical bills saddling us down anymore.

I also followed through with one of my plans for the new year and found myself a therapist. I’ve always been a pretty anxious person and a worrier, and so, as I mentioned recently, the whole experience shook me to my core. I’m having trouble dealing with all of that in itself, but also in conjunction with the whirlwind of other major events that happened around the same time (registering Bowie for Kindergarten, having my 19 year old cat put down, appearing on Good Morning America) that I think kind of distracted me from mentally handling the cancer, and I thought it might be a good idea to talk to someone about that. I’ve been to see her three times now, and it’s been really good. Right now I leave there feeling wiped out. Just drained. Maybe that’s how therapy goes, I don’t really know, I’m new at this. Or maybe over time it will be easier. I can feel things lifting, getting lighter and lighter, little by little. I think it’s working out.

A year ago, I didn’t even know that thing on my leg was cancer. All I knew was it didn’t look right, and a doctor should probably look at it. I am SO GLAD I made the appointment. Or I might not even be here today!

Today it feels like the actual start of my new year. I’ve been in kind of a holding pattern since 2014 started. Glad that 2013 was finally over, but not quite sure what comes next. Today feels significant. Today is what comes next. Today and the rest of the days. I’m changed, but I’m still me. And I can do this.

 

Year in Review 2013

2013 was a big one. Full of twists and turns, ups and downs, surprises and losses. I’d use the old cliche about emotional roller coasters, but truth be told, I stayed pretty much at the same sad, anxious, emotional level all year. I held things together by using my family and my bloggy community as duct tape. It was really hard to write this Year in Review, which is why it’s being posted so late. Lots of inward observation and reflection. Which gets a little exhausting. I’m hopeful for a happy, healthy, well-adjusted 2014.

1. What did you this year that you’d never done before?

Had to have a pet put down. Had melanoma. Had a lymph node removed. Sent a kid off to elementary school. Appeared on national television.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I’m sure I resolved to lose weight, as I always do. I didn’t lose any, I actually gained a small amount, but the gain has leveled off. I’m also sure I resolved to save money. We’re trying. *cough* MEDICAL BILLS CAN BITE ME *cough cough*. More realistically, I’d like just overall stop and smell the roses when it comes to my boys. And I’ll resolve to save money *this* year, because the aforementioned medical bills were recently PAID IN FULL (woooot!). Barring any injury or illness this year, we should do all right.

3. Did anyone close to you die?

My sweet, sweet kitty, Nashua Bean. I’ve had a hard time grieving for him because he was, after all, just a cat. But, also a good, sweet friend for nearly 20 years. He brought so much joy to my life, with nothing expected in return but love, food and scooped poo. He had such a kind soul, and I know he’s somewhere, watching over me.

I also lost a dear friend and favorite high school teacher to breast cancer. She was something really special, and she will be missed by many.

4. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

Money. A therapist. More time to myself. My new Etsy shop up and running. More blog posts. A lot less in the cancer department.

5. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

My melanoma diagnosis. The day Nashua died. The day Bowie started Kindergarten. Ferris’ first birthday. My brother’s wedding.

6. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Finally getting to the dermatologist and getting the cancer before it got me.

7. What was your biggest failure?

Not properly processing my cancer emotionally, and not allowing myself to fully grieve for my cat, and thusly letting myself fall apart emotionally.

8. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Surgery. It was a beast. And I had some nerve damage, so my leg still hurts a bit.

I somehow managed to avoid the norovirus (knock on wood) which Bowie had three times, two of those times within a week of each other.

9. What was the best thing you bought?

My surgery.

10. Where did most of your money go?

Bills still from having Ferris. Cancer bills. Pants for the boys. (They grew SO FAST.) Milk. Rent.

11. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

Being cancer free! After spending a week thinking the cancer had spread, it was the hugest feeling of relief I’ve ever experienced.

12. What song will always remind you of 2013?

The song “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab For Cutie for some strange reason always did, and always will, remind me of Nashua. I think from now on it will make me remember when he died.

13. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) happier or sadder?

b) thinner or fatter?

c) richer or poorer?

a) Sadder, I think. But, it was a hard year, so I’ll cut myself some slack.

b) About the same.

c) Poorer. Still. We’ll get there someday.

14. What do you wish you’d done more of?

Traveling, spending time with family, hugging my boys, exercising, crafting, reading. Writing.

15. What do you wish you’d done less of?

Yelling at Bowie. Leaving Ferris to play by himself. Worrying.

16. How did you spend Christmas?

We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas day a few hours away at my in-laws’ house. All of my husband’s brothers were there from their many scattered locations, and it was the first time in a long time we’d all gotten together, so it was a lot of fun.

It was also the first year Bowie really got into the Santa thing, and we all had a ton of fun with that.

17. What was your favorite TV program?

Mad Men. Parenthood. Orange is the New Black. Downton Abbey.

18. What did you do on your birthday, and how old are you?

I turned 34. I honestly can’t remember what we did. It was right after the cancer thing. Right before Nashua died. Sandwiched in between two major events. I think we might have gone out for dinner? Anyway, most days I can’t even remember if I’m 33 or 34, so I’m sure my birthday was as insignificant as my age.

Happy 2014 to everyone, and may it treat us all a little better than 2013 did.

The One Where I Kinda Bum You Out

I suppose if I’m going to hog this domain name, that I could actually blog once in a while. Thing is, along with all the hubbub and running around and preparations we make for the holidays, I’ve also got this looming dark cloud over me lately.

I am really out of sorts right now because recently, one of my favorite teachers from high school passed away at age 52 from breast cancer. I was a student of hers for many years, and she was a warm, wonderful woman and a great mentor. I had always meant to pop into the school and visit her, but never did. Something beat me to it: CANCER.

I think her death reopened something inside of me about my own cancer that I had locked up and buried deep, deep below layers and layers of myself. All of a sudden it hit me like a brick to the forehead: I have had cancer.

Living in the online world, cancer touches you from far and wide. I was reading that a blogger that I follow who was treated for stage 3 melanoma only to find out she had stage 4 ovarian cancer, has had her ovarian cancer return for the third time. And her story now has me really worried about the BRCA gene mutations. These mutations are commonly known as increasing a person’s likelihood to develop breast cancer, but can also mean increased likelihood of other cancers, including malignant melanoma. I don’t know if I’ve been tested for this mutation or not, I plan to ask my dermatologist if this was part of the blood work I had done in March. But, I would make it my (uneducated hypochondriac) guess that if you get cancer under the age of 35 then you might have the mutation.

So cancer has been on my mind lately. REALLY been on my mind. Not just because of these things, but also because I’m looking back at the last 10 years of my life and thinking of all the abuse I put my body through. I didn’t really take care of myself at all. Junk food, diet soda, alcohol, no regular exercise, heavy anxiety, all of this takes its toll. And only NOW am I realizing this.

I’m afraid I’ve done things to my body that I can’t take back, and can’t fix. Because my lymph node came back clear last spring, they ended up not giving me a full body scan. I did have a chest X-ray, so I know my lungs are clear. Which is a good thing. I also had a physical with my gynecologist over the summer, who said everything looked and felt fine to her. But I have the nagging, nagging, NAGGING feeling that they’ve missed something, overlooked something. Because I’m so young, they’re not looking hard enough, not taking things seriously. Of course, I’m way too chicken to go in and ask for the scan. Not only can we not afford it, with $3,000 left from our $15,000 owed out of pocket from the past 2 years, but also I’m afraid they will find something. Which, yes, of course, it’s better to be informed. But being informed means not living in ignorant bliss. Though I would not call my current state of being “bliss” either.

I think when they told me I had cancer, even though they had caught it in time, and it hadn’t spread, I’ve been treating that diagnosis as the beginning of the end. I am now headed to the end of my life. Rather than treating it as the new beginning that it should be. I know that kind of thinking isn’t normal, but I can’t really help it. I need to figure out how to change how I view life and death.

After the cancer diagnosis, there was the actual surgery, which was pretty much the beginning of the end of me breastfeeding Ferris (which if you’ll recall, I had to stop doing when he was 8 months, because he was confusing me with the bottle and biting me until I bled). And there was the false alarm, where the surgeon told me the melanoma had spread to the lymph node, only to call me a week later to say, “No, whoops, sorry about that. You’re good.” That was very difficult. And I’m still wondering, “Are you sure? ARE YOU ABSOLUTELY SURE?!”

I’m trying to focus on 2014. A new year brings new hope, new promise, new life. But, for a person with anxiety issues, a new year also brings new challenges, new problems, new struggles. I barely made it through this year. What if next year is worse?!

I have some changes in mind for 2014, things I can do to better myself and my life, and hopefully help the year not be worse than this one was. I’m trying to be optimistic, and I’m trying to dig myself out of the dumps, if only to not be such a bummer. I want to get the anxiety under control, I want to change the diet a LOT, I want to get past this depression, or whatever funk I’m in, so I can enjoy every day. Every hour. Every minute.

I knew a blogger that found out she had melanoma, and died just months later. I’ve been given a longer time than she was given. Knowing that I need to do more with my time is obvious, but actually following through without feeling so down and so sorry for myself is another game. A game I plan to OWN.

Thanks for sticking with me, folks.

 

 

 

Hi! I’m Still Alive, I Swear!

You guys! I’ve missed you. I haven’t blogged in eons, and I’m so sorry. I’ve been crazy busy! Which I know everyone says. And I fall firmly in the “let’s stop the glorification of busy” camp. BUT.

Being an elementary school mom is mad cakes. The handouts that come home. I could reshape them into a whole tree. (And this is San Francisco!) And each one is asking something from me: volunteer in the classroom, volunteer at this event, you’ve got a parent-teacher conference coming up, we need a dish for this event, can you bake something for this event, hey guess what we want the parents and teachers to get together for a night out so if all that other stuff doesn’t have you too bogged down…

And then there’s the matter of my second son, who we might as well just call Spiderman or King Kong at this point because the kid can climb ANYTHING. I turn my back for 10 seconds, and he’s scaled another structure in our house. Or at the library. Or in our hotel room. Or at Target. So, when he’s awake, there is no put-him-down-to-roam-and-play. It’s me getting up every 10 seconds to peel him off his latest conquest. It keeps a lady busy.

And then there’s the matter of our latest little venture away from home. My little brother Jeremy got married in Florida this past weekend. My baby brother! Married! It happened.

We flew from San Francisco to Fort Myers, stayed for 4 days and then flew back. It was a whirlwind (wonderful!) weekend that included the longest flight that Bowie has ever been on, and our first flight as a family of four. So you can imagine the fun that was had. There was even a lady that told Ferris to “shut up, kid!” when he cried on our 6 a.m. flight bound for home. Yep. She did. Amongst other things. Turns out most of the other people on the flight were annoyed but once they figured out what a raging bitch this woman was, they were more sympathetic. Some of them even commiserated. One guy flew 18 hours with his one year old. Dude deserves a MEDAL OF HONOR.

I have about 100 small drafts of blog posts just hanging out in my drafts folder. But I know that doesn’t really help you guys out too much. The past month has just been one thing after another and I can’t find the time to sit and type, nor can I apply the necessary brain power to coming up with new post ideas. I even picked my computer up when we returned from our trip and had to wipe a layer of dust off of it.

To help liven this apology post up a little, I offer you 3 interesting things I found on the Internet this week. Love you guys, thanks for tuning in and still reading.

1. Whenever you think you’re having a bad day, just remember that you’ve got it better than a good percentage of the rest of the world.

2. This anti-bullying video puts what kids go through into an adult perspective. It really hit home for me. I’ve always been against bullying, of course, but I didn’t know how to relate to a bullied child until I saw this. Powerful stuff.

3. Turns out, I’m not just shy, I’m totally socially awkward.

I Am the Face

I still think about the baby I miscarried. Every day. Some days, just a fleeting thought. Other days, I cry a little bit about it. It’s hard to believe it’s been 2 1/2 years, because sometimes it can still feel like it just happened.

In the days shortly after, I thought that if I could just get pregnant again, I could forget all about it and move on. Nine months later I finally got pregnant with Ferris, and I did not forget all about it, and did not move on. Quite the opposite, actually. Not only was I fraught with worry for the ENTIRE pregnancy that something would go horribly wrong, but I also felt so guilty for being so happy to be pregnant again. That maybe at some point I actually would forget the baby I miscarried.

Then I thought when I just had the healthy baby boy in my arms, it would help me stop being sad at least. But then, Ferris arrived, and nope. I didn’t stop being sad. Of course I was, and am now, a lot less sad than I had been before, but there’s still a little bit of hurt that lingers.

Today is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day. Looking back, the one thing I wish more than anything else (aside from not miscarrying to begin with) was that I had been exactly that: more aware. I was completely clueless. And wrote on my blog at just 7 weeks that I was pregnant. So my loss was fairly public. Which was good in some ways, not so good in other ways.

Miscarriage is something that just isn’t talked about, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why. It happens to so many women. It happens to one in four pregnancies. ONE IN FOUR! So why are we keeping ourselves so in the dark about it?

Of course I knew it was a possibility. I had heard about it, knew a little bit about it. But I so naively thought it was something that only happened to women with fertility issues. I can’t believe I thought that! And I’d been pregnant and had Bowie, no issues at all, so I thought I was in the clear. I can just get pregnant again, nothing to worry about at all.

I know why no one talks about it: it’s unpleasant. To say the least. It’s a total downer. Its’ awkward. How would that conversation even go? It’s not information you’d necessarily pass on, unless someone you know is actively trying, or is newly pregnant. So what would you say? “Hey, congratulations on your pregnancy! You know you have a 20% chance of losing it, right? Just wanted you to know.”

But, something we can do is come together on Pregnancy & Infant Loss Awareness Day, share our stories, and hope that we can simply bring a little comfort to a woman who miscarries tomorrow, next week, next year. Help her feel a little warmth in her coldest hour, knowing that she’s not alone. And it’s not her fault. And she can grieve in whatever way, and for however long, she needs to. Because the pain can linger for a long, long time. And there’s nothing worse than dealing with that kind of pain, and thinking you’re alone. You’re not alone. We’re here. All of us. You will get through, and you’ll be ok.