We had a whirlwind illness fly through the house this week. It was crazy: on Sunday we went to a birthday party (this becomes important later). Monday all was well all day. I went to 8pm yoga and spent some time chatting with my former yoga enemy, who is now my fellow Head of the Class and new yoga friend. (That’s right: mission accomplished on the yoga class front. I am the Head of the Class, damn it.) Anyway, I got home a little before 10pm and everything was fine.
10:10 Cam is heard throwing up in the upstairs bathroom.
10:20 Gabby is heard throwing up in her room.
10:30 Cam is heard throwing up in a basin in his room. I go into his room, since Dave is busy helping Gabby. As I’m standing there I suddenly realize that I, too, am going to be sick. I run to my bathroom and join in the festivities.
Repeat every 20 minutes or so, all night long, until 5:30am.
Poor Davey. He and Addie J were the only ones who weren’t sick, and Addie slept through the whole ordeal- Dave was the one getting up to take care of the kids, asking me if I needed anything, emptying basins, he even ran the carpet shampooer in Gabby’s room at some point in the wee hours. There was absolutely nothing I could do to help him- I was either actively vomiting, or lying down and trying not to die. After being up with the three of us essentially all night, he was up at 6:15 to get Addie off to school and head to a morning meeting. (He didn’t even complain or even really talk about it later, which in my self-centered opinion is even more impressive. And he’s been feeding us all soup from Panera for the past two days. As far as I’m concerned he is currently wearing a halo.)
So on Tuesday, Cam and Gabz and I stayed home. We all dragged our carcasses downstairs around 11am, sprawled variously in the living room, and tried to watch a movie. We were really hot and briefly discussed going to the basement to watch down there, but the thought of the stairs was too much– so instead I cranked down the AC (note that the journey to and from the thermostat was arduous and long, and when I got back, Cam and Gabz thanked me profusely for making the trip. This is how we were: every time one of us got up and did something, the other two were like, “I know how hard that was, thank you SO MUCH”). We fell asleep during the movie and woke up to Dave, coming home with soup around 1pm; we tried to eat it but the act of eating proved too difficult. We crawled back upstairs, leaving everything on the table, and went back to sleep. Around 7pm (?? It was a long and dreamlike day) I woke up and slowly made my way downstairs like I was 103 years old, so that I could say hello to Addie at least once. After a few minutes, Addie had to help me back up the stairs, one at a time, so that I could go back to bed. (The other two, smarter than I am, never even tried to go back downstairs.)
This is how our Tuesday went. Wednesday was better but not by that much; this morning I am showered and dressed for work for the first time since Monday but Cam is still in bed, trying to figure out if he can go to school. Only Gabby, who has always possessed the most superhuman immune system I’ve ever seen, is completely fine.
And what was it? I mean: that’s what I would like to know. We have identified Sunday’s party as Ground Zero, because several other people at that party later got sick as well. It was not food poisoning, though: all five of us plus my mom went to the party and only 3 of us got sick. In addition, I didn’t eat anything at the party anyway and I got spectacularly sick. I don’t know if I have ever taken off two days in a row since I started working, unless a newborn was involved. I am hoping and praying that Dave and Addie, and my mom, stay well– because as Cam said at one point on Tuesday: “That was the worst night ever in this house.”
(Update: poor Cammy is staying home again today. This is just the worst.)
Fifteen years ago, I was living in the city with my husband and my brand-new baby. My sister called me early in the morning and told me to put on the news. I still remember the shock of watching the towers fall, unable to wrap my mind around it, unable to grasp it.
This morning I drove my daughter to dance- a daughter who has never lived in a world where there weren’t terrorists at the airport, cowards with shrapnel-filled bombs at races, lone wolves with knives on the streets. NPR was interviewing the CEO of a company which was headquartered at One World Trade Center, and which lost over 600 people on 9/11. The CEO escaped harm because it was his son’s first day of kindergarten, so he was going into the office late that day.
The interview was fascinating; this was clearly a strong and determined man. With calm and clarity, he described approaching the site as his driver cried. Without hesitation, he talked about grabbing people away from the doors of One World Trade Center as they came out. He described diving under a car to escape the suffocating black cloud that descended when Two World Trade Center collapsed. He recounted a conference call that took place late the evening of 9/11, in which he asked his remaining employees to decide to honor their colleagues in one of two ways. There would be about 20 funerals to attend each day for about a month; he told them it would shutter their doors permanently to do so but he was willing. He gave them a second option, to honor their colleagues by going back to work. “When they made their choice,” the CEO reported with pride, “the company was saved.”
The interviewer then asked him about his brother, who worked at the company and who was killed in the attack. The CEO briskly explained that his brother called their sister in the aftermath of the plane strike. The CEO reported that his brother told her that he was going to die, and he wanted her to know how much he loved her and their whole family.
I think that’s what he said anyway; as he started to explain this part of his story, he broke down in fresh grief. Fifteen years later, driving home from the dance studio on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning, I could still hear his shock and loss. “I’m sorry,” he said through his tears. The interviewer whispered, “It’s okay.” Then there was a pause, in which I could hear each of them taking deep, shaky breaths.
I left a voicemail for a gentleman yesterday. When he called back, he began with, “You know, you spoke very quickly in your voicemail. You need to slow down when you leave messages for people, young lady. It’s important.” …That’s right: before discussing our business, this gentleman told me that the speed of my speaking cadence should better align with his preferences. Then he reminded me very helpfully that voicemails are important. Right after he established his superiority by calling me “young lady.”
Any males out there get mansplained over the phone yesterday?
I didn’t think so.
JULIE: Good night.
KID: Mom- before I go to bed, there are two things I want to talk to you about.
KID: Number one: I have questions about faith versus science, and I’m not sure what I believe or even how to believe in both at the same time? ….And number two: I am thinking about wearing makeup to school tomorrow.
KID: You can just focus on one of those for now if you want.
- Last night I got TWO, not one but TWO, “You got its” from the yoga instructor. To be fair: Amy wasn’t there today to be his favorite beloved– but a teacher’s pet wannabe will take any edge she can get. (Also: as a result of my extra-hard work last night, this morning I can actually hardly move. Totally worth it.)
- Yesterday I found a confused-looking bee in the house, crawling over the window. “Oh- there’s a bee in the house,” I said. “Burn it down,” Gabby replied.
- Yesterday I spent the day updating course websites. That kind of updating- where you’re changing calendar dates and editing links– is just soul-crushing for me. The most boring and tedious job ever.
- Also, apparently all the classroom computers are being updated to Windows 10, because absolutely no one wants that and so I.T. is doing it. (Dave: It’s just a gateway. Me: Shut up, Dave.)
- This next several weeks is filled with First Day of School pics on Facebook. I freaking love these. I love everything about first day pics- I love the ones where the parents are being obnoxiously happy that their kids are going back to school; I love the ones where the date is written in chalk on a little chalkboard (do people buy little chalkboards just for this purpose, and just keep them at their house all year in a special place? –Probably next to Elf on a Shelf, which is why this tradition is not for me); I love when the kids are willing and I really love when they’re unwilling. There is something so sweet and fun about the first day and I can’t get enough.
- Cam came home from his first day and exclusively reported on which of his friends were in which of his classes– which as everyone knows is the only important thing about high school.
- At this point, I’m just avoiding the terrible, all my muscles hurt, what-did-you-do-last-night run I have to take this morning. I’m going to go do that, I guess… unless anyone wants to post more pics for me? I’ll wait here a bit longer. Just in case.
Mom and I started going to a yoga class this summer. I haven’t taken a yoga class in years and Mom had never taken a class, so it’s been fun for both of us. Now, you should know this about me: if I am in a class situation– any class situation– I expect to be at the head of the class. And if necessary, I will work hard to get to the head of the class. And then I will expect to be recognized as the head of the class. I’m sorry if this bothers you or is nerdy or too competitive (I’m not sorry); but this is the deal. This, for better or worse, is who I am.
So at our first class, the class leader asked who was new to the class. Mom and I raised our hands. He responded, “This is our fitness yoga class. We have a beginner’s yoga class on Tuesdays.” (Hmph. Do we look like fitness beginners? Whatever.) So, he led us through a pretty involved and challenging series of sequences. At the end he told Mom and me that we needed to get our own mats instead of using the gym mats, and that was it. We did get our mats, and we have been going to class faithfully, steadily improving as we go.
Tonight I went to yoga by myself. There were two new people, whom he welcomed very warmly. Then he led us through another series of challenging sequences, including two handstand poses which were really, really hard. So hard, in fact, that the woman next to me– her name is Amy and he calls on her all the time to be his example– Amy and I were the only two people in the entire class who were doing the handstands. Repeat: everyone else? Could not do the handstands. But Amy, Class Example, did the handstands– and I, Head of the Class Wannabe, did the handstands. Holding my pose perfectly, my muscles screaming, sweat dripping down my temples, I waited to be recognized.
“Well done, Amy. And to our two newbies: you did very well too. I would like to welcome you to keep coming to Monday night yoga,” he said.
I collapsed to the floor and yelled from my crumpled position, “You never said that to us! All you ever said to us was to buy our own mats!! Have you seen my shoulders? I am the strongest person in this room– and I am the only other person, besides your beloved Amy, who is doing these handstands!” (No I didn’t. I just thought all of those things, with the furious intensity of the Class Nerd, while holding my very challenging handstand that I wasn’t getting any credit for.)
But you know what? If I have to attend his classes until I die– that man will compliment me. As God is my witness, he will recognize me as the head of his class.
This is something that’s been sort of swirling around in my head for a month or so now, and in a larger sense for a couple of years: being a parent is about putting in the time. As sweet as he was and as much as we loved him, Cam was a challenging and colicky baby and then toddler. He needed us to help him through that. He still needs us- and his sisters are the same. What they need is becoming more nuanced, maybe less easy to see, as they get older– but we still need to be there. The day-to-day issues have shifted: first they learned to speak, now they’re learning how to use electronic media. Not as adorable, just as necessary. Parenting is a marathon. It’s not a relay, where we get to stop and let them finish becoming adults on their own. We can’t carry them either: we have to run alongside them the whole way, both when it’s easy and fun, and when it’s challenging. Sometimes, when I’m having a particularly tough workout, I remind myself that the real work gets done when it’s hard, not when everything feels easy. I feel the same about the kids: when they’re down, and struggling, and it’s difficult– that’s when the real work of parenting is happening. You won’t get to the finish by giving up when it’s tough, and by the way: you can’t buy it either. You have to keep showing up and running. That’s the only way.
It’s not always easy and it’s not always successful and sometimes we are frustrated with them and sometimes they are frustrated with us. But every day, Dave and I show up, and we run alongside them. Even when it sucks. Even when we’re in the middle of something else. Even when we have to put their needs ahead of our wants. It’s our priority to be good parents, and we take examples from other parents and we own up to our mistakes and we try to do better next time, and we keep running.
My intention, on August 8, 2003, had been to pass my weekly NST and go back to the office. Instead, after thirty minutes or so, the resident came into the room and said, “You have a beautiful contraction pattern. We’ve called for a wheelchair to take you to Labor and Delivery.” After twelve hours of nothing followed by 10 minutes of, “Don’t push! The doctor isn’t here yet!” -Gabrielle Cait came into the world, without the doctor’s presence, just before 9pm (side note: “don’t push” is a totally useless request). She had huge eyes, blonde hair, and the cutest little nose. We could not believe our good fortune. I thought I was the luckiest mother alive.
No time at all went by. And then, a few days ago, we were walking dogs at a local animal shelter when I caught sight of a beautiful older girl in the meadow in front of us. She was walking a rambunctious puppy around the meadow, leading the dog with the unconscious grace of a natural athlete. When she caught sight of me, she yelled, “Hey Mom! This dog’s name is Butch, how cute is that? Come pet him. I love him so much, Mom!”
She is and has always been a tornado made of happy confidence, big dreams, hilarious comebacks, and untamable hair. We cannot believe our good fortune. I am the luckiest mother alive.
Dave was showing the girls a bunch of photos from my childhood, from my early twenties, etc. Here are some assorted comments made by Gabby:
“Ohhhhh, Mom, now THAT’S a style!”
“Is- is that whole thing one person’s hair?”
“You really had a lot of turtlenecks back in the day.”
“What did people think of you at that time, Mom? Like, was that considered cool back then?”
At the end, Gabby summed it up like this: “Mom… you really went through a lot of bad looks before you found the right hair.”
I’m a little surprised she doesn’t have any concerns about my current hair, to be honest.
Over the weekend, Gabby scored a huge milestone in dance– finally breaking past her plateau of an entire season and qualifying for Oireachtas this fall. At the next day’s competition, she earned third place in her set dance, which was awesome (and a sign that we should just skip the very last, for-fun-only competition of the day and head home).
As I fell asleep last night, I was thinking over the weird vagaries of Irish dance scoring: three judges score each round and place each dancer individually. Then, those scores are combined and turned into new numbers, which establish the overall placement for each dancer. Individually, one judge placed Gabby 4th and the other two placed her 5th. Yet somehow, when it all shook out, she came in at 6th place. I fell asleep trying to figure out how that works. And I immediately dreamed about the rabbit that lives behind our back yard: in my dream, we were headed to a competition but the rabbit had grown huge and was stomping around the yard on its hind legs. I was like, “…back in the house. Everyone, get back in the house.” And then we tried to figure out how to get her to her competition when the rabbit was still around.
..What does that even mean? Any ideas?