AddThis script

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Moving mountains

Prayer does not move mountains. Prayer does not save lives. Prayer does not heal sick people.

A religious radio station overpowered my satellite radio for just a moment today while I was driving in my car with my kids. Just long enough for me to hear some loud, passionate preacher announce that. Was it a sign? No. It was static.

It is sort of ironic that I heard those few words on the radio today. Network Administrator Friend was here with her family over the long weekend. All five of them. It was her, her husband, and their three boys. She was telling me about a book that she just read called Letter to a Christian Nation. She told me that it is a book about responding to ridiculous religious people who want to convince you that prayer works, that religion is the way, that prayer can move mountains. And one example she shared with me was about how no amputee has ever had her prayer answered. No matter how much she prayed. No matter how many people pray for her. It just doesn't happen. Does that mean that God hates amputees? Does that mean she didn't pray enough? Or that enough people weren't praying?

And what about sick kids? What about Preschooler in Chief? What did he do to deserve his heart defect? People all around the country were praying for him? Even if Father in Chief and I aren't religious, PIC has a lot of religious people in his family praying to a God that can't or won't heal our boy--or thousands of others like him. It doesn't happen.

Prayer does not fix people. Prayer does not heal people. The only thing prayer does is help the people praying feel better. It is a way for helpless people to feel like they are doing something. Prayer does not move mountains. And it makes me angry to have people out there preaching that praying is going to do something or heal someone. If you pray hard enough, God will hear you. God will help you. Prayer will move mountains.

I don't thank God that my son is alive. I thank the doctors and scientists and technology and research. I thank the thousands of others who came before us, whose children died as the doctors were learning how to help kids like my kid live a little bit longer and a little bit better. I thank the people who donate their blood so that my kid could get transfusions, and plasma, and albumen. I thank the families who donate their dying kids' organs so that other sick kids might live. Those are the people that need thanking.

So if you really want to move a mountain, you better get to work and you better be ready to sweat. Because no amount of prayer is going to make it happen.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Too old for Abercrombie

I've been feeling a bit old lately because my nephew just turned 16. I was 16 when he was born. Or maybe I was 16 when his mom (who is a year younger than me) got pregnant. Maybe I was 17 when he was born. Either way, it was a long, long, long time ago. And I realized I'm 100 percent older than he is. And I don't feel that old. Although I have been having a clothing crisis lately. Am I too old to wear this? Can I really pull this off. I never used to wonder this. And now I do. And I used to get carded when I bought wine at the grocery store. Now I don't. If I do, it's a thrill.

Anyway, what to buy a 16 year old? I know what four-year-old boys like, but 16-year-old boys? Turns out that they like clothing from Abercrombie & Fitch. It's a store that I have not gone in since high school. And I'm not sure I went in to it back then either. Whenever I walk by the store in the mall, all I can think is that none of my friends in high school looked like the kids pictured in those larger-than-life black and white photos in the windows. But I pushed forward and got him one of the shirts I've seen him wear in a color I hoped he doesn't own already.

After that, I started feeling sort of blue. It all comes back to that age thing. So I decided the best way to get over this feeling was to go buy a couple of shirts from Abercrombie & Fitch for myself. If this is what the kids are wearing, then I will wear it too. And I will look good. And I will feel young. Because I'm still youngish. When I got home the only thing I felt was lame. I have tried those two tops on in front of my own mirror and they don't look nearly as nice as they did in the store dressing room (does anything ever?).

Those shirts will go back to the store. And I'll just have to come up with other ways to feel young.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Better to have loved and lost

I've been trying not to think about it much. Even so, it's difficult to not think about the possibilities of success. It's difficult to not think about the disappointment of failure. And 10 weeks is a long time to have to wait for an answer.

While Preschooler in Chief was in the hospital, I wrote a 4,000-word essay and submitted it to Brain, Child magazine. It had nothing to do with hospitals. It had nothing to do with sick children. It had nothing to do with surgeries or doctors or transfusions or heart transplants. It was like water for my mind during a horrible drought of normalcy. It was an escape from those white walls, those never-ending alarms beeping, the sound of other children crying, the sound of my own child crying, the sound of me crying.

Writing an article for Brain, Child was one of my 2007 goals. Actually, writing the essay was not the goal. Getting an essay accepted for eventual publication was the goal. And I found that writing was such a wonderful escape. It was so gratifying to open that laptop and be taken away from that hospital room for an hour as I dove into my past and really thought about my life growing up the daughter of a belly dancer. What did it all mean? Did it affect my childhood? Did it affect how I see myself as a woman? As a person? If so, how? How did her dancing affect our mother-daughter relationship? And ultimately, what does it mean for my children?

Thinking about my carefree childhood was an escape. It filled me up in a way that the ultimate dessert could satisfy a desperate sweet tooth. It was just what I needed. It was available whenever I needed it. For all intents and purposes, my childhood was simple and wonderful. And thinking about it, writing about it was totally satiating. Because simple and wonderful was not really in great supply during that long hospitalization. Simple and wonderful are not words we use to talk about the hospital.

Anyway, I heard from the editor today that they decided to give my essay a pass. She told me that the magazine receives upwards of 750 submissions for every issue they publish--and they only publish quarterly. Fortunately I really wrote the piece for me. Still, even with all the personal gratification, it is disappointing to be rejected. That said, I'm not just going to let it go--my essay or my goal. It just means I have a bit more work to do. Phooey.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Inappropriately goofy

Between people accidentally farting while stretching or snoring during meditation, I have a really hard time not snickering during yoga. Don't get me wrong, I'm probably hooked for life. But am I the only one who thinks it is funny? It is impossible to take it all so seriously. I am thankful that our eyes are closed during much of this because I have such a hard time keeping a straight face. Thankfully no one has asked me to leave for being goofy. And for now, I'm grateful that I have not had any farting incidents (I'll fess up if I do). A girlfriend told me after my first day of yoga that all that stretching just loosens everything up. Still, I'm going to work extra hard to make sure my intestinal track doesn't fail me in public. Perhaps hanging around with three- and four-year-olds is the reason I find farting in public funny.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Forget the kids--celebrate you

The best way to celebrate Mother's Day is stop feeling like a mom and feel more like a woman, a person! Father in Chief and I had a little date last night. We booked a sitter went out for a drink and some dessert. Well, all I needed to do was to shed my nursing bra for a black lacy bra and matching undies to realize that I am indeed still a woman, even if most days, I'm a lactating, comfy-pants wearing mother.

I really recommend it. It was quite liberating, even if it was short-lived.

And I even celebrated part of today with my kids. But only because my original plan to go to yoga and have a massage was thwarted because I cut my finger Friday night trying to wedge two hunks of frozen baby food apart (now there's a argument for buying the pre-made stuff that comes in jars). Anyway, the knife incident led to a dreadful four-and-a-half hour stay in the emergency room. As as result, my hands were rendered useless for yoga (and typing up until today). I suppose hanging out with the family wasn't all bad. There was breakfast and a lovely picnic in the park. Still, I'm going to reschedule my massage for later this week and hopefully I'll be back to my alternate nostril breathing by next weekend.

In the meantime, I think I'll be sporting my sassy, lacy bra at least once a week to remind myself that under the spit-up and crusty goop, I'm still an attractive female who does own (and occasionally wears) sexy lingerie. Alternatively, I could wear it for a couple of hours each day. Perhaps as soon as the kids go to bed, I'll go up and change into it. And then maybe, just maybe, there will be another reminder that I am indeed an enticing woman. Now if only there was a wardrobe change that was a quick fix for exhaustion.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

What does this say about our relationship?

My kids leave a trail of mess the way a slug leaves a trail of slime. I'm not saying it's good or bad. It just is. We're working on getting Preschooler in Chief to clean up one activity before moving on to the next, but strict supervision is involved. And with a wiggly baby in tow, I can't be watching every enthusiastic venture PIC makes into the toy cupboard.

So there's mess. There's clutter. There are crumbs. Mix in the fact that my house accumulated an abnormal amount of clutter, junk mail, and mess while PIC was in the hospital. For two months, I was at the house at night to sleep, to eat a late dinner before bed and an early breakfast before heading back to the hospital. I hadn't done much cleaning. I hadn't done much cooking. Kind and generous friends filled my belly with food--and as a result--my kitchen with plastic containers.

Little did I know, all I needed to get things back in shape was the anticipation of a non-family member or close friend to stir my drive to organize. And this past week it was the pending visit by Aspiring Writer Friend. I was driven. Driven to clean. Driven to purge extras. Driven to get my house back where it belongs. Drawers were emptied and organized. Counters were shined to a sparkling glow. Toys were sorted and stacked in bins. Clothing was washed and folded. Dishes were done. Appliances were organized and tucked into cupboards. Apparently, the messier my house is when you come to visit, the better friends we are--and vice versa. I suppose part of my drive was just to prove to myself that despite what my family has been through, I really do have it together. Look at me in my clean house thriving, living, smiling, surviving. I even managed to get both kids to nap at the same time! I'm practically Wonder Woman.

I look forward to the day when AWF and I are close enough that the mess will be left, not because I enjoy living in disarray. But, rather, AWF is a super cool chick and it will mean that our relationship has been elevated to a to a new level of friendship that comes complete with toys strewn in every room, baskets flowing out of the laundry room, and dried up goop on the countertop. But I suppose the downside is that I will lose some of my motivation to clean. That is until I need to prove to myself that I'm still holding it all together.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Don't ever, ever tell me that!

Boy, you look tired.

Gee, that's just what every woman wants to hear. I think that might be up there with, You know, your ass really looks big in those jeans. Anyway, as hard as it is to believe, those words are being uttered out of perfectly well-meaning people. I have been told this hideous fact three or four times in the past couple of weeks. Even if it is true (and I'm sure it is), why, why, why would you ever think that is something that a person wants to hear...ever? It's not! So don't say it, okay?

I try to imagine the real reason some normally kind people would want to share this information with me. I know my family has been through some horrific and stressful weeks and perhaps these people are trying to relay that they understand that these long hospitalizations and surgeries have taken not just an emotional toll on me, but also a real physical toll as well. They most certainly have. There must be some way to say essentially the same thing without making me feel like shit.

How about: I'll bet these long hospitalizations have taken a real toll on you emotionally and physically. Try to rest and take care of yourself too.

Now was that so hard?

Because let's face it. Nothing good comes out of hearing that you look terrible. I know I look terrible. I know that have dark circles that look like I forgot that eye shadow goes over the eye and not under the eye. And sadly, unlike the big ass comment where I might be able to remedy the situation with a change of pants, I can't erase the exhaustion. It's not like you just told me I have some broccoli stuck between my teeth and I can discreetly remove it. Those circles are there. They are going to be there. I know they are there. Now all you've done is remind me that you and everyone else knows they are there too. Can't we just pretend they aren't?

I know I yawn a lot. I know I'm forgetful. I know I'm over sensitive and emotional (just ask Father in Chief.) I know I'm totally exhausted. I know that I'm not very good at returning all of my email or telephone calls right now. Finally, I know that I'm not looking so good. And now all you've done is just confirm that it's not all in my head.