Friday, May 25, 2012

She loves that dog more than us

Is that a biscuit in Isla's hand?

I'm afraid Isla was in on a conversation about the imminent future, possible, probable, most-likely inevitable necessity of putting Ruby to sleep.

"We're going to have to kill her," Esther said, without a hint of sensitivity.

"Kill her?" Isla repeated.

"Esther," I pleaded.

"Well the vet is going to have to put her  down and she'll actually be dead."

"If anyone tries to put Ruby down, I'll kill them," Isla said.

Later that night:

"You can't put Ruby down. I don't want her to die.  She's my best friend. I love her more than you guys."

"Do you mean you love her more than you love us, or you love her more than we love her?"

"I said, 'I love her more than you guys.'"

Either way, I don't blame her.

This really sucks.

You know it's going to happen one day, but that doesn't make it any easier. I seem to be maintaining this strange detachment from the whole thing. I can't bring myself to think about it, to make it real, or even to prepare myself.

Does this mean we're not ready, or I'm in denial?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

So much for gender equity

If anyone would have told me that less than two weeks after I got my husband back, after being apart, against our will, for one year-- one year of dreaming really of nothing other than being a family again-- it would feel as if none of it ever happened, I would have told them they were higher than the moon.

So why does life feel so absolutely ordinary around here?

While it took me about a week of seeing Ian standing in our kitchen, our living room, sitting at the dinner table, even hearing him scold Isla for making such a colossal mess of her room, before I could simply accept it was really him, in the flesh--Esther is that really Daddy standing over there or should I go back to sleep?-- his presence has now melded into our worlds.

Right now, our world couldn't be more deliciously ordinary: Ian is mowing the lawn-- desperately, racing the rain. The girls are fighting. Isla has a friend over, it's a school day, and they are doing their best to keep Esther from stealing and reading their diaries. There is much slamming of doors and shrieking in faux indignation. I think they really do want Esther to read their diaries. Given that their "diaries" contain mostly scribble, they are Kindergartners after all, there is not much to be gleaned from them, but I can attest to the sense of excitement at the thought of secrets being revealed.

I'm pretending to work, but with one ear and half my heart tuned into the goings on around me, it's uselessly nonproductive.

Ruby is lying at my feet, stinking in that truly-nauseating old-dog way--stinking, panting, and whimpering and occasionally barking in that late-afternoon way of hers. I swear she has sundown syndrome, that same energy shift that causes the occupants of old folks homes to get agitated and babies to become inconsolable and housewives to reach for the vodka bottle. If I could give her a beer, I would.

The truth is, she can barely move. She's covered in tumors, she has a most-likely-cancerous mass growing in her belly and her quality of life is crap. The conversation, spoken and unspoken, ever since Ian got home and lay eyes on his beloved old Bitch, has been "How do we know when it's time?"

The very first night Ian was home, I had to talk him off the ledge so angry was he at the state of this house. Everywhere he looked, he saw signs of immature-college-student house abuse. Things like nails hammered directly into the beautiful beams up in the attic, thousands of tiny tack and nail holes where Jerry Garcia posters and patchouli-scented tapestries were hung and torn down and hung again. Rotten window sashes, broken casement window latches, dented sheetrock, cracked floor tiles, filthy tile grout--all the things I have chosen to overlook, for self preservation since we moved back in.

Between the state of his house and the reality of his dying dog, I'm afraid Ian went to bed that first night in a fog of overwhelmed despondency. He was better in the morning and, within hours of waking up, had revived our failing push lawnmower and the weed whacker, and caught and tamed our lawn just as it was transitioning, officially, into wild, unmanageable meadow.

As I stood at the window watching him, effortlessly starting the weed whacker, the one I had tried and failed to start several times last summer, I was hit with the utter unfairness of the sexes. While I realize if I had been truly passionate about getting that lawn mower and that weed whacker operating again, I could have figured it out, it just seemed maddening how "second-nature " mastering small machinery is to Ian. Instead of getting all inadequate, as I sometimes do in the face of his über, well-rounded competence, I simply rejoiced in it and poured myself another cup of coffee.

Since he's been home, this is what he has done (Warning, this reads a bit like housewife porn):

*Fixed the lawn mower and weed whacker.
*Mown the lawn, twice.
*Whacked the weeds around the lawn perimeters and all the way down the driveway.
 *Cleaned out all the stinky, hairy, horrifyingly- disgusting sink and shower drains.
*Scoured the pots, I'm talking inside and out,
*Cleaned the oven--the guy removed the oven door and took a razor blade to the grunge.
*Scrubbed the stove top, removing more grunge from the burner frames.
*Scrubbed the tile grout clean, in the mudroom,, bathroom, front hall and kitchen, from dingy gray back to its original white. I've been mopping, but hadn't given a thought to taking a scrub brush to the grout.
*Rototilled the three-year-long neglected vegetable garden. 

Bonus points:
*Removed the annoying display- ad mode from our Vizio monitor which has been popping up annoyingly on the bottom of our screen every 20 seconds since the day I so proudly hooked it up. I have Googled it, read the manual, called Radio Shack--nothing could explain to me how the hell to get rid of that. He Googles it, picks up the clicker, done. It's gone. (We watched the original Swedish drama of The Girl With the Dragon Tatoo, yikes, last night and could actually see the subtitles.)

*Put up our bed back on its previously unassembled frame-- no more sleeping on the floor for us. I have, literally, been lifted up. I am now enjoying elevated status. The joy of elevated slumber. I no longer feel like a lowlife, at eye level with the dust bunnies and the toilet through the open bathroom door, upon waking up. It's good

While I know there is more, I'm going to stop here for fear Ian will read it, be stunned and amazed at his productivity, and think he deserves a little time off.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The whole, now embarrassing, story of Ian's arrival

The Vermont landscape just got even more beautiful and perfect than it already was.

I just posted, if you are interested in the ugly details, over here on the Babycenter Blog.  Sorry to do that for you, but.. there it is. Happy weekend.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I was crying on the phone to my mom when he finally came through the doors

I think I suggested once that maybe there should be a stretcher waiting to catch my collapsing body at the airport. I was right. Since there was no stretcher in sight, it was up to Isla and Esther to support me. They did a brilliant job. I'll tell you more about it later, I think. Until then, let the pictures speak.

 The "daddy's coming" dance was rousing.

 Followed by a ritualistic moment of reverent focus.

 We're getting closer.

 Do I look like a East Coast Volvo driver, or what? His plane is landing right now. We're late.

 Hurry, we're late, we're late.
 How do you get to arrivals?

 Hurry up and wait.

 And wait,

 And wait while contemplating crashing the gate.

Still waiting....

 One hour an a half later, still no Daddy. Never have I seen such committed, patient children. I couldn't even get Esther to leave her post to go to the bathroom.
 Two hours later, he finally comes through that door. At that point I was a mess of tears and fears and on the phone with my mother. "Why won't he come? Why won't they let him out."
Needless to say, when he finally came through that gate, I couldn't even lift my arms to take a picture of him and the girls embracing. All I could do was push my fat, soggy, blubbering head into his chest and cry into his sweater. 

Then I followed them out, like the kicked- puppy Paparazzi, camera in hand.

 We're staying at my friend Jane's Bohemian apartment in East Boston. Isla threw up all night. (Don't worry Jane, she never missed the toilet once.) This is Ian and Essie going out to breakfast at 7 a.m.

Isla's still asleep. I'm looking out the window, through the rain, onto a sea of rooftops, and chimney pots,  listening to sirens scream and my stomach growl.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

One day left of flying without a co-pilot

One more day.

I've come over all domestic and wifely. Well sort of. Yesterday I folded and put away 25 pounds of laundry, stuff that has been sitting in baskets, on top of the machines, for at least three months. Wierd.  Why now? I guess I am fairly sure we're staying. Might as well move in....

Should I be out partying to celebrate my last day of being a single woman? Oh yea. I can't. No one will be here to take care of the kids. Which reminds me of some of the things I will be able to do, things I've almost forgotten were possible, once there is another adult in the house:

Not cook dinner
Take a walk at any given time of day even if it's 5 a.m. or nine p.m.
Go for a three-hour mountain bike ride on a Saturday instead of going to soccer.
Not cook dinner
Not build a fire
Not feed the horses.
Not feed the dog.
Not read a book to the kids even when I'm so tired I'm cross eyed.
Not put the kids to bed
Not even be home at dinner time.
Take a bike ride instead of eating dinner. 
Not be home at bedtime.
Go to a book signing at our local independent bookstore every Saturday night.
Play ice hockey at 10 p.m.
Not bring the kids to school in the morning once in a while.
Not pick the kids up after school once in a while.
Not get out of bed once in a while.
Go to bed before dinner once in a while.
Not drive once in a while.
Ride in the passenger seat.
Ride in the passenger seat.
Ride in the passenger seat.

Oh yea, have someone to hold onto when I sleep.

And, thanks Anna, write a book proposal and start pulling together my long-dreamed of, much procrastinated book about our journey to France, and back.

That's all I can think of for now. I'm strangely tired and also strangely apathetic, and totally frustrated because it would seem there isn't a single hotel room available in all of the greater Boston area  tomorrow night. We were hoping to stay the night and take the kids to the Aquarium or science museum in the morning. Graduation season interferes.

Ian's flight comes in at 6:30. By the time he gets through baggage and customs, he apparently has another interview at the airport before they let him through-- gale-force sigh-- it will probably be 7:30. 8:00 maybe. We live almost four hours from Boston. Completely doable, but painful. I will have to drive because Ian' will be jet-lagged, on the wrong time, incapacitated until he gets some sleep.

No passenger seat for me for a couple more days......

Has anyone tried that six-hour energy stuff?

Sunday, May 06, 2012

Older sisters always win

 It starts innocently enough:

 Playing footsy turns to jockeying for space, turns to tapping into pent up aggression and irritability,

 turns to all-out, vicious, take-no-prisoners, territorial,  foot war.

 And, despite what some believe, there's always a winner and a loser in war.

And, as the ancient laws of sibling war go, it's never , ever, the youngest who wins.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

A different kind of miscarriage story

Blood results are in


I knew it

I have never been pregnant for longer than a few days without knowing

I knew

There was more than one union that night

I knew

What an idiot

What day is it?

What went wrong?

How could I let it go wrong?

I am Icarus, without the sea beneath to catch my fall

Now I have to face myself, my hubris, my mistake, with steely nerves

With blinders on

Another pregnancy would kill me

Another baby would kill me

Not an option

I would rather die

I mean that

I’m too old

I get too sick




I would rather die than ever do that again

Those feelings are real

Those fears are valid

Motherhood is not a game

I screwed up

Yet I am clear

My clarity is only muddied by political correctness

by being afraid to be too sure

by being ashamed to be so sure

by seeming cold, unfeeling, ungrateful, irreverent

But that is nonsense

I know my limits

I know myself

Babies are not playthings

Babies are not romantic

Motherhood is not serene or idyllic

Not for everyone

It’s serious, lifelong, struggle.

I am a 45.

prone to depression

I suffer, like a martyr, from Hyperemesis Gravidarum.

Pregnancy is a living nightmare for me.

My husband is old

Much older than me

He will be 70 by the time the baby was in eighth grade.

I am not embracing this pregnancy

I can not

No. No. No.

I call a friend. She has information. Answers. Solutions. Options.

Counseling. Planning Familiale

I wander off the street and into the palatial stone church before my appointment

Cathédral St. Éttienne

I shiver from the cold

I stand before a rack of pamphlets mounted on the ancient stone wall

In the light of a stained- glass window, my hand chooses a  pamphlet


In counseling,  I learn my options:

It’s so early

There is a “pill solution”

A pill

A solution

An examination

A waiting period

A pill. Another pill

I feel like a ticking time bomb

I cannot endure this

Life is cruel

So wrong

How many women want to feel life inside them?

Why does life grow in unwelcoming wombs?

Accidental life

I lie down on my bed and cry, like Oprah, into my ears

This cannot be

Cannot be

Can. Not. Be.

The tall, dark doctor with the long fingers says it’s too soon

He can’t see anything

“On ne voit rien.”

He tries the wand thingy, the inter-vaginal probe

That tiny black speck on the screen, that might be it...

But... it might not be...

It’s too soon

Too small

Come back in a week

One week

I go home to wait

My daughter sits at the kitchen table and draws a mango seed, with a perfect baby inside it

A fetus

Does she know?

She tells me they are studying La sexualité at school

In response to being asked what she knows about babies, she and her friend draw a baby in a belly and put an X through it.

“Babies are cute,” they say. “But I don’t want to make one.”

“Je ne veut pas faire.”

Swimming with the girls at the indoor pool, there are young mothers and babies all around me.

There are also old women, old men,  a bus full of handicapped children-- all in the water together

Later that day, standing at the kitchen counter, it happened

I felt it

Hot, dark and sticky between my legs

Oh  God!

Oh my God!

I went to the bathroom

It had soaked through to my jeans.




I'm bleeding.


I’m laying a bad egg.

Nature has intervened

Nature resolved this

Put an end to this nightmare

I felt only relief

As if I’d been rescued,  given a stay of execution

A solution


I've been holding on to this for over a year now. Not sure why I chose to share it today, or ever, but there it is, in black and white, with lots of gray in between the lines. And I post this with the vague hope that it might make some women feel a bit better about their experiences since  we only ever hear about the elation of conception and the grief of miscarriage.  Anything else, it seems, is taboo. I am, herewith, challenging this taboo.