Friday, September 26, 2008

This post is genius with a capital G and you need to read it. Now. Go. It's that good.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Keeping it Real Monday

Today I put my name in the ballot box of bad motherhood by being a HALF HOUR LATE to pick up Julia from kindergarten.

At 12:38 pm, my young lark of a three year old and I picked up hamburgers at McDonalds and headed to the Honda dealer to get the oil changed and finally, finally have the mofos fix our TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System) light that wasn't supposed to be on, but was.

When I'd called earlier that morning to schedule an oil change and to tell them we needed to fix the TPMS they'd told me no appointment was necessary, that they'd be able to have me in and out of there no problem. Apparently to turn the light off, all they had to do was "reprogram it." Didn't sound like a lengthy procedure. That and an oil change, we would lend them a small chunk of our afternoon before it was time to pick up sister at school.

Anyhoo, in line at Micky D's I chatted briefly with my husband and he said, "Are you sure you're going to get out of there with enough time to be able to pick up Jooge?"

I was all, "Of course!" thinking that surely, by the time it was time to pick Jooge up at kindergarten at 2:20 we would be out of there.

Avery and I get comfortable in the waiting room. It's one o'clock. We eat hamburgers, we read a stack of books from the library. The nice lady next to us thinks Avery is adorable and "SO GOOD." We use the bathroom and at 2:00I go out and inform the guy that I need to pick up my kid in twenty minutes. (AND WHY THE HECK IS MY CAR STILL UP ON THE THING?) There is a guy who goes to check, comes back and tells me, "We'll get you out of here really soon, he's just initializing the TPMS."

I try to get the number to the school, which I haven't programmed into my cell phone yet. The guy at the front desk tries to help me look it up online and types it in but spells Elementary Elementry. I suggest the correct spelling but that still doesn't work. I suggest going to the school district web page and he puts it in WWW.HILLSBROSCHOOLDISTRICT.COM (spelling Hillsboro HillsBRO) and he just can't pull his head out of his *bleep* so then I try to call my husband. He's unreachable. I use the forbidden and expensive 411 to get the school's number. I remember it in my head, dial it, tell the secretary to give dear sweet Mrs. S. a message that I am waiting for my oil change to get over but that I will be there soon.

The man who finally helps me check out says that to fix the TPMS they must deflate ALL FOUR TIRES COMPLETELY and then refill them with air and then test the pressure before they intialize the TPMS.

Apparently when the service dude said, "We'll get you right out of here soon," he meant, in another half hour. It is 2:38 when I hit the first of ten red lights between there and school. It's really a delight when I get behind a pick-up going 20 in a 40 zone. I narrowly miss having to pull over for an emergency vehicle as I take a swift left onto the last street before her school's.

I distinctly try to be easy on myself. I try not to freak. I tell myself that there is nothing more I can do, that indeed I had been wrong to think I could get the appointment done in the time I had, but even now, being wrong about that was over. My husband told me so. Later he might tell me so again but I can do nothing but breathe and drive. And suddenly, we're there.

Avery has removed her shoes in the back seat. Of course! She always does this in the car. I grab her shoeless body and rush into the school. It is 2:50.

I am near tears in the hallway, and upon entering the room deliver a shaky apology. Julia is helping clean up and looking pleased. Her teacher is beyond kind and understanding. I'm excused because of who I am, the one who's never late, the one who helps her kid get her homework done, the mom who remembers library day. I am who I am but I'm also human and we are two humans here, the center of our cookie the smile of a precious five-year-old. Mrs. S. says, "Julia's so quiet in class, but I am learning she has a whole other side to her, she's just been telling me all sorts of things!" Now with the silver lining. Jooge has gotten to bond one on one with her teacher.

And you know, it's karma. I did the same thing for more than a handful of students (and parents!) back in the day when I was teaching. I remember not caring, how quickly the time right after school passed, how nice it was to have someone to interact with as I picked up crayons and adjusted desks, how nice it was to connect with that parent who arrived breathless and apologetic, who was usually on time but in and out. Good came of our lateness in that we connected too with Mrs. S. in a way we wouldn't have ordinarily.

I won't go stuffing the ballot box with this faux pas, but will never schedule any car maintenance during school again.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Race for the Cure


Walked the Susan G. Komen 5K today in Portland. It's supposedly one of the largest Race for the Cures on the west coast with 45,000 people participating in the name of breast cancer. I, of course, wore a sign to celebrate my mom, breast cancer survivor extraordinaire. It was very cool.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sad Will Be Staying With Us For Awhile, In the Back Bedroom

Someone at preschool told me today that I seemed sad. I figured that she knew about my dad (because so many people just seem to) but she didn't. I didn't even realize I was acting sad, but it bothered me. I'm not afraid to be sad, but I'm afraid to be disconnected from the sadness.

Part of my disconnection might be because I don't have the time or energy to ask myself what everyone else seems to be asking. The concerned "How are yous?" are frequent and so are my "Fines." In a mother's life there is school and swimming and groceries and Sad has become a lurker in my life, sneaking up in the form of someone elses observation. I realize how Sad must be impacting my kids and a new ache overtakes me when I think about how they watch with their heart and in their own ways, reflect sadness back to me. The sadness is there in the shadows and unwelcome. It received no invitation into this life.

But it is here, for now. I must say to myself, "I feel Sad." Tears feel good and are at moments, necessary. That is how Sad and I will spend time together, sometimes privately, sometimes in the arms of a caring husband, feeling every molecule of Sad, then trying to find happy again.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Back to School


There's a kindergartener in our midst. She has just lived through her first week of school, sharing tales about the gym teacher Mr. Twig, a boy in her class she has her eye on named Dillon, and a goodbye rap they sing before they leave.

When a teacher finally gets to experience their own child attending school, it's so interesting. From closely analyzing how organized the teacher is to the realization that her teacher and I had actually responded to a question of hers with the same teacher verbage, I think having a teacher for a mom (even if I'm not teaching right now) only helps encourage a love of school, NOT that she needed any help in that department.

It has taken its toll too. After four afternoons of kindergarten she about lost it last night at Back to School night. Oooh, it was ugly. And her teacher had just told us minutes before, "She's one of those kids that's just easy." Easy, but human.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

What Were You Doing September 11, 2001?

I woke up with a start from a dream at 5:46 am that something had happened to my brother. My youngest brother Andy had just moved to Weehawken, across the river from New York City in New Jersey. I was teaching third grade at the time, commuting to school in my ole 89 Volvo Wagon when I heard the news and went, "WHAT?" I was in a panic that something indeed HAD happened to my brother, and I was in a real twit all morning at school because I hadn't heard from him to know he was safe. Finally I did get a call from him and he was okay. What a relief. I ended up doing a penny drive that year in my classroom and we made about $40 that we sent off to the children of firefighters that had lost their lives. I went and visited Andy in December over Christmas break and saw the site of the Twin Towers and all the letters and pictures and memorials. It was such an eerie time, and so many people were hugely impacted by that day but thankfully, and despite my ominous dream, my brother was safe.

Friday, September 05, 2008


Wow wow wow. Life is a trip.

I'd been worried about my dad for awhile. Intuition, let's call it. During our camping trip in the San Juans I got a call from him, a sweet call saying he missed us and that he wanted to see how we were doing, that he wished he was there. He was supposed to be there, sharing site 88 and campfires and hot dogs but it hadn't worked out with my mom's work schedule and they had stayed home. His message caused the feeling of worry to persist, and then days later a ranger came to our site, said we had a message, to call Ryan about an medical emergency. "I knew it!" I couldn't think. We drove somewhere on the island where we could get cell phone reception. I call my brother Ryan and hear the words, "dad" and "hospital" and "brain tumor." My family sits in the truck and I slap my leg and listen and think, "I expected SOMETHING but never this."

He has fallen a few times, he was biting his tongue in his sleep, he was forgetting to shut the car door, driving off, with it open, he was dropping things he never dropped, struggling to pick things up that were already in his hand, struggling with his bath robe, trying to put the arm on his head. It was a private struggle, but one which was showing itself more boldly each day, and so they finally took him in.

The tumor was on top of his brain, easy to reach, and also evident in its intensity. A grade four Glioblastoma multiforme is changing all of our lives with every cell within it. And though they took it out, cells hide in the shadows of his brain and he faces a war more intense and personal than Vietnam.

My mom had cancer in January. My dad has cancer in September.

The clock ticks, and nobody knows except that there is a fight ahead of us all, a fight for normalcy that will never return, a fight to hold on to every precious moment, a fight to love and let go of frustrations, a fight for the best life that can be lived now.

I love you dad, my fighter.