Yesterday was my mother’s birthday. I was feeling a little homesick and wishing I were there to give her a hug and a kiss. So, I did the only thing I could think of. I sent her flowers.
However, I was a little distracted and failed to plan out what the card would say. I told them to just make it something nice for my mom. I told them I was out of town working and I missed her. Then, they asked what name they should sign the card. Hmmmm…. What is in a name?
I chose Princess. I thought it would make her laugh.
Well, they forgot to include the word “Mom” or “Mother” or “Madre” in the message. They referred to her as a Lady. So, later I get this text message… “Did you send me flowers?”
My first thought was “Duh.”
Well, perhaps I should have spent 45 more seconds to make the message a little more personal. I should have either used my name or a clue. (Although, everyone knows I am the princess….) There was nothing in the card to indicate anything about her or me. Next time I am going to plan it better. There will be no question who the flowers are from.
Oh, sending flowers is really easy. It is a nice gesture and you can even do it at the last-minute. It was pretty late in the afternoon when I made the call. So, boys and girls (Most especially my boy) there is no excuse for not sending your mother, sister, grandmother, best girl BFF, long-lost auntie, or whatever lady is important in your life flowers. Got it? NO EXCUSE. Make the women in your life feel special for a day.
They make a girl giggle and blush. For me, nice flowers are the epitome of thinking of you. It is not something you need. They only last a little while, and they brighten up any room. It is a pretty, fragrant little thing. We don’t hesitate to bring her dandelions and other weeds when we are only “this high,” surely our tastes (and budgets) should grow and mature as we do.
Love you Mom. Wish I were there.
PS: How are Gracie Belle and Bonnie Blue? Have you seen her yet? (My mom has never seen my baby cat because she always hides.)
I have so many things I want to say, and yet I have no words.
We are not guaranteed anything in life. We have a responsibility to let the people we love know how we feel about them. We have an obligation to be kind and to try to leave the world a better place. Don’t waste your life waiting for it to begin.
So, in the spirit of that sentiment, here are a few of the people and memories I love the most.
So, what’s the point? Well, my life is meaningful because of all these people. There are a lot of other people who mean the world to me too. I am lucky. We have to remember to love our people. Don’t take them for granted. My heart is with my family in California tonight. I will be sending you all the loving vibes I can. I love you guys!
I am a lucky woman. I am a single mom, and my son is the light of my life. I know, everyone says that. He has sacrificed so much for me to have a career, and he has been so gracious and supportive every step of the way.
I do not do it alone, my family has helped us so much! I could not have accomplished any of this without their support. I am so grateful. I swear, I don’t even have the words. What??? Nyki at a loss for words?
Ty needed something to drive. I wanted something that included bubble wrap and a helmet. Turns out, those are not standard features on any vehicle.
Here is the best part. We actually pulled off a surprise. My family took him to “look” at cars. I had him convinced I was looking at a car. He had told my mother he really wanted a truck, but he understood if I could not get him one. As if I would not do every thing in my power to get him what he really wanted… that is what I always do.
Then, he was sitting in this truck. Just to see if he liked it. My brother told him it was his. The look on his face was priceless. He was SHOCKED! The way he said “It’s mine? Really?” He immediately dug in his pocket for his phone, and called me to tell me over and over how much he appreciated it. I think he may have been in shock a bit.
My job as a parent is not to give my child every thing he wants. There are many things he would like to have, and they are out of the question. I am lucky. I work hard, and I have good opportunities. I work a lot, and it takes me away from my family. My son could be bitter and complain about my work schedule. He doesn’t. He always understands.
There have been times in the past he and I have had plans that were canceled after I received a phone call about short staffing. He never complained or whined. He said “I understand. It’s okay. Your patients need you.”
When I went back to graduate school so I could become a nurse practitioner, my time was monopolized by my career even more. My son and my family were so patient and supportive. Even the times I wanted to quit. Without their support, I never would have made it through all of it.
So, now he has a truck. I can only hope he is careful, and the other drivers on the road are careful. I wanted him to have a reliable vehicle. I wanted him to have something to drive he was proud of. I wanted to see him smile. He may be a little spoiled. The good news is he is a good kid. He makes good choices most of the time. He has a huge heart. I am proud of the man he is becoming.
I think I am almost as excited about this truck as he is. I would do anything for him. It’s one of the perks of being an only child. Believe me, he wishes he was not an only child. I remember when he was about three years old, and he informed me he needed a sister. Sorry buddy, not happening.
So, life is good. It is all worth it. I would do anything to provide a good life for my son.
This picture cracked me up. For some reason, my son was holding Harley and they both look vaguely unimpressed.
Harley is my Mamaw’s puppy. He is hilarious; full of spunky attitude, and a great buddy for my Mamaw. It is funny how these little guys come bounding into our lives and hearts, and the impact our furry friends have on our lives is profound.
I am more of a cat girl, and dogs need more time and attention than I have to give right now. However, I love my canine family too. Wanna meet my sister? Her name is Presley Nicole. (I bought her for Mom, so I insisted she name her after me.)
My mother is crazy about this dog! She is so much fun. She is a great guard dog, and no one come into the yard without her permission. (Well, without her greeting anyway.)
We are lucky to have such loyal little buddies, and someday I will have time for a dog of my own. Until then, I get to love my family and friend’s pups. Just another example of how I am a lucky girl.
I was eighteen years old. There was so much wrong with me, and I knew that I had no business to be in this position. I was having a baby. I was single, a high school dropout, slightly crazy, unemployed, and an all around mess. I had even dropped out of childbirth classes.
It was April 12, 1999.
My mother drove me to the hospital for my scheduled induction. I was nervous and so ready to get this over with. To be honest, I was expecting this to be the day that some magical transformation would happen, and I would finally know how to be a mother. It was impossible for me to continue to be the same person I was, I was about to be a mom. The instincts would kick in, Right?
It was insanely early and the sun had not even started to brighten the sky. We rode up the elevator to the Labor and Delivery Unit at Covenant Hospital. I was already registered and they were expecting me. Check in, and start the chores of the morning.
ID bracelet? Check. IV start? Check. Enema? Excuse me? What was that? You are going to do what to my what? Sigh. Check.
What had I gotten myself into? Okay, now for the fun part. Starting the Pitocin. Let me tell you a little about this drug. It’s whole purpose is to cause your uterus to have the most intense contractions imaginable. If you are not feeling too bad, then they have to turn it up. Are you kidding me? Turn that shit down! This hurts. Oh, here is the doctor to break my water, and attach a little probe to the little guy’s head. Did you know they basically use a contraption that looks like a crochet hook to rupture that amniotic sac? It sounds so high-tech, and it is actually the equivalent a breaking a water balloon.
Side note: I think most people imagine their physician being right there with them throughout labor. Nope. He just drops by for the crucial moments. The most important health care personnel are your nurses. I had a great one. Her name was Marla, and I will never forget her. I have a lot of friends who are L&D nurses, and I even briefly considered it. Until I saw a real baby coming out of a real vagina- ummm. No. I’ll stick to MICU, thank you very much. The Horror of Childbirth is too much for me.
Contractions are an interesting feeling. It is like someone is reaching up into your soul, and wringing you out to dry. They start out a little uncomfortable, and then crescendo to a plateau of intense pain before they slowly subside. It is difficult to explain exactly where the pain is. Is it in your back? Your gut? Oh, there is some pain medicine. Demerol does not get rid of the pain, but it makes you not care about it at all. I felt like I was swimming. It could have been the pool of amniotic fluid I was drowning in. Turning every which way, bed up, bed down, flopping from one side to the other, there must be a position which will relieve this discomfort.
Oh, my family has come. Mamaw and Papaw, Grandaddy and Granny, and my friend Josette join my mom and stepdad at the bedside. I may be a little grumpy. This is decidedly less fun than I imagined it would be. Besides, it is nothing like the movies. For one thing, in the movies there is always an adoring husband who is just so damned grateful that this woman is bringing his child into the world. Oops. I forgot that part. Next time, make sure there is an adoring husband, That will make this experience a walk in park. I just know it. Note to self: find adoring husband.
Ahhh. Time for an epidural. Some people say they are horrible, and they complain about the pain of getting the catheter shoved into the space around their spine. I don’t know why they are complaining. Seriously? This was sweet heaven and relief. Ummm. Why can’t I move? OMG. I am paralyzed. Ugh. What on earth is going on? Okay. Maybe I should take a nap. Yes, a nap sounds wonderful.
Remember those childbirth classes I dropped out of? Well, I must have missed the one where they teach women how to make their cervix dilate on command. Mine was doing nothing. Nope. Nothing. My nurse began mumbling about a possible C-section. What? Cut me open? No… I don’t want to do that. Can we please stop talking about that? Here, I will think happy labor advancing thoughts.
This was obviously going to be a long day. We sent everyone for lunch. Just because I am not allowed to eat does not mean my family should suffer right? So, it is just my mother and I and my nurse has left explicit instructions to notify her if I feel any pressure. She was going to come and check me in about an hour. Remember, I was paralyzed. I could not feel anything at all. Except about two minutes after she went to lunch, I felt different. I could not be certain it was pressure, and I was about to ignore it. I was curious about what the new feeling was though. So, I tell my mom I am feeling something.
We called the nurse, and she came in and “checked” me. Checking a cervix must be an interesting skill. You feel around blindly in a vagina, and you have to determine what you are feeling, how big in diameter it is, and whether or not that is a baby. Are you kidding me? Why would anyone sane want this job? You are shoving your entire arm into a wet slimy pit, hoping to determine the current state of affairs in an actively breaking vagina. Yuck.
When she checked me, her eyes got wide and she pronounced me “Ready.” What? No, I am not ready for anything except a nap. We just sent everyone away. I am not ready. That mom instinct has still not set in. I still feel like a kid. I am not ready for this. I am tired. Maybe I can just go home, and we can do this tomorrow. What in the hell do you mean I am ready? Who says?
My mother started making phone calls to get everyone back to the hospital, and Marla was a flurry of activity. She was wheeling in equipment and pulling the stirrups out of the bed. Once she got me draped and my most personal business in the proper position, another nurse came in to see if she needs help. There was a discussion about shaving. I’m sorry. Do what? You need to shave my what? Why? There is entirely too much activity around my hoohaw at this point.
They had me start pushing. Once again, I was reminded I should not have dropped out of the childbirth classes. I am paralyzed. What do you mean push? Push what? Good grief. I have no idea what they are talking about. These people are insane.
Finally, I must have done something right. Marla says she can see the head. Of course everyone in the room wanted to look. Sure, why not? What’s a little vagina peering between family and friends?
The doctor came blustering into the room. Dr Burkholder is a larger than life man with a booming voice and an air of confidence. He had already done so much for me throughout my nightmare pregnancy, and I trusted him completely. My only complaint? His hands are huge. Other than that, he is great. He donned his blue gown and sterile gloves, and started running the show.
At one point there was something concerning, I never knew what tipped them off to Ty’s distress, but they no longer had time for my uneducated pushing skills. There was this magical suction cup device that would help guide this baby out in a hurry. Once the head was out he wanted me to look down and see him. I refused. He called me a brat and told me to mind. I closed my eyes and turned my head. I never did like to do what I was told. Looking back, this seems a stupid place to exert my independence.
Swoosh, out came Ty Garrett. His umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck several times, and he was an unnatural shade of blueberry. The doctor held him up proudly, my mother cut the cord, and they hurried him over to a crib. Seven pounds, four ounces. A NICU nurse was ushered in, and they proceeded to give him oxygen. The mood in the room was tense for a few minutes. Thankfully, he was fine after a short while.
Now, the doctor was still preoccupied with my lady bits, and I think he may have been slightly gleeful when he held up my placenta. Ewww. What the hell is that? Get it away from me.
Several minutes go by, and he was still down there. Finally I ask him what on earth he is doing. Oh. I “tore?” Ummm. Can you fix that? Am I broken? Can you put a couple extra stitches in there to make it like it used to be? Oh. It will never be like it used to be. Got it. My vagina is permanently disfigured. Wait. Why do I still feel like a kid? Where is that mom feeling? Maybe I will get it when I hold him again.
Everyone passes him around. The moment he was delivered, Mamaw gleefully exclaimed “Oh, he has your nose!” Poor kid. Hope it works out better for you than me. (Turns out, the nose is quite handsome on him.) My mother was practically beside herself. She loved him so much. She apparently had the grandmother superpowers that day. She knew what to do immediately. I am so grateful for all her help. I may have been inept as a mother, but he always had Nana to make sure I did not screw up too bad.
They perfunctorily cleaned up the baby and handed him to me. I am looking at this little guy, and I know he is the best thing to ever happen to me. I am baffled by him though. I have no idea what he needs. We were supposed to do all the post birth stuff in the delivery room, however the L&D floor was apparently hopping that day. They needed the room. We would have to bond later. Sometimes I wonder how things would have been different if we could have had more time before we were separated.
Ty was whisked away to the nursery, and I was wheeled to my postpartum room. I was certain the next time I saw him, I would feel like a mom. I just knew it. I wanted it so bad.
Let me just say, there was no magic moment. I tried valiantly to breastfeed, and I gave it a good two or three minutes before I opted for a bottle. Ummm. Breastfeeding felt weird. The most natural thing in the world felt painfully unnatural to me. Yeah, I regret that, but I cannot turn back time. I knew that my life was never going to be the same, and I had to get my act together. This kid needed me. It took a while, and the road had some bumps and turns, but I believe it turned out pretty good. I had a reason to succeed. More importantly, my life had a new purpose. But, where is that magic mom feeling? That instinct all the Supermom’s claim to have. Where were my superpowers? What is wrong with me?
So, this is the day my life changed, forever. There was no magic moment where I magically knew how to be a mother, and I did not become a real live grown up that day.
I became a mother to a son. I love my son more than anything I can imagine. I am so blessed, and I am so lucky that he has had the patience to allow me to grow up. He was the greatest gift I can imagine, and there have been times I wondered if he got the short end of the stick with a mother like me. He has taught me so much about love and worry. He has taught me to laugh and to always try to be better. I want to be better for him.
I am not a typical mother, and some people may not understand our family dynamics, but they work for us. So, on this Mother’s Day, I want to wish all the Mom’s in my life a happy and special day. May you always be as blessed as you were The day your life changed, forever.
I love my family, they crack me up. My nephews are two of my favorite people in the whole world. I know that no matter what, they are going to be good for some cuddles, and a few laughs. We “watched” The Lego Movie. (Okay, that is not exactly true, we had it on really loud in the living room, and did not pay much attention to it at all.) I stole a bunny from Squishy’s easter basket, and Harley (Mamaw’s dog) tried to get it from me.
The best part? Making them laugh with my highly out of tune, scratchy voice screeching “Every thing is AWESOME!” Yep, I love listening to them laugh.
Our munchkins grow up too fast. My son is about to turn 16. I am so thrilled to see who these little men are growing in to.
My littlest brother, he is super sweet. He is always the first one to run out to the car and give me a hug. It’s pretty awesome. My little army of boys.
So, at dinner, I lived up to my usual klutzy ways: I spilled an entire glass of ice tea all over me and the table.
Let me be honest, it was cold and I was embarrassed. I really don’t think anyone else was surprised. It is not a family get together without a minor disaster.
Love my family. Love my boys.
Every thing is Awesome.
My family is the best. They let me be myself. I never have to pretend to be someone else. I do not have to self-edit or worry that they will not like me.
I am so proud of my family. We have a little army of boys (they are all boy.)
I hope that as they grow up, they always know that I am here for them, and that I love them for who they are. This is the gift my family gave me, and I will give it to them. That is my job. That is why they are my family. I promise to love them, no matter what. Even if they grow up to dump ice tea all over the table. That is why we are family. Celebrating the quirks makes us family. I am a lucky girl.
Medical Professionals are an interesting breed of folk. We are not immune from tragedy striking in our personal lives, and some of us are subjected to a constant bombardment of reminders when we go to work.
I love what I do. I get to hang out with the most eclectic crazy group of people almost every day, which allows me to cope with the sadness that comes along with my job. We develop coping skills over time, and eventually we learn how to watch other people suffering with an objective eye. We would not be able to return day after day if we could not keep everything in perspective.
For many of us, laughter is indeed the best medicine. We are full of inappropriate humor, and while it may seem insensitive to some, it is actually just our way of processing the horrors of ICU, and remaining sane. We develop little rituals and we have a plethora of superstitions. (You never say the Q word, observe how slow the unit is, or mention that frequent flyers name.) We trade war stories, and we collect memories that we can use for a quick laugh.
When our loved ones are patients in our hospital, or worse in our unit, the nice little boundaries get blurred. The personal and professional worlds collide, putting us at risk in every area of our lives. It is imperative to remember that we are only human, and it is okay to feel powerless, and to acknowledge our fears. We do not have to be the professional when we are indeed- the family.
I have had this experience a few times throughout my career, and I will remain forever grateful for my coworkers who allowed me the space to be a family member instead of a nurse or nurse practitioner. It helps.
I have a pretty fantastic life. I live in a country where I can say and do whatever I want. (Obviously, within reason, and I still have to remember that there are consequences for everything.)
I have done some pretty outrageous things. I sat on Gary Allen’s tour bus when I was 16. I took a forbidden road trip at the age of 17. I had a baby at 18. I graduated from college at 27. I conquered NYC at 31 (okay, maybe conquered is a strong word. I went on vacation to NYC.) Grad school and my dream job came at 32. I completed a Tough Mudder as an old lady of 34.
Last night, I was I complaining to my mother about The Blogger’s choice of picture when he chose my blog to be his guest post. He chose one where I had my nose wrinkled up.
I typically reserve that expression for people in my family. I think I look ridiculous when I make that face, and I try to avoid it when possible. Except for with my son. I love it when he makes that face, and when he was a baby somehow we got this picture.
This is one of my favorite pictures in the world. I love that we were making the same face. That’s my boy. There is no denying that he is my child. But, that is so not the point. What was I talking about? Oh, yeah. I was complaining to my mom about the wrinkly nose picture. You see, that is a picture you only get if I am not concerned with how I look in the shot. To get this picture, I have to be completely in the moment. This is me- totally open and just being myself.
Of course, my mother likes the wrinkly nose picture and she used this as an opportunity to bring up one of the stories my family keeps in their back pocket for maximum embarrassment effects. Let me just say, the story involves a 3 year old me, face paint, a cat costume, and my intrigue regarding the rationale of painting my boogers.
Now, there are only a few people in the world who know that story. It happened over 30 years ago. I do not actually recall the event, it was just another day for me. My family remembers, and they apparently love random opportunities to reenact the conversation.
I know. I know. Who cares? What is your point?
Our lives are a series of ordinary days with a few extraordinary days sprinkled in. The best stories, the ones that only a few know about are the best part. The regular old days that did not necessarily involve anything all that exciting. The Marvelously Mundane. The tales of family lore. All it takes is one sentence and the entire family has a private laugh, a joke that outsiders just do not get.
If I were at work and asked someone why they were painting my boogers- I would be greeted with stares and awkward silence. Attempts to explain the significance would fall flat. No one would get it. For one thing, they totally missed my cat ears and tail. Without the costume, it is hard to imagine. They would probably be imagining their 34 year old nurse practitioner asking such a ridiculous question. They would have a little less confidence in my professional prowess. (note to self- one should probably not discuss boogers and face paint at work.) *additional note to self- one should probably not refer to oneself as one. It sounds ridiculous.
So, where was I? Is there a point? Oh. yeah.
It is easy to try to define your life by the big events. This is a mistake that I make far too often.
How do you go about living a life worth living if you do not achieve greatness? (What is greatness? What would I have to do to be actually great? Fantastic? WONDERFUL?) For most of life, I have been waiting to arrive. While I am not entirely certain of the destination, I was waiting. It is almost like percolating coffee. I wanted to be full-bodied and robust. (Wait. That sounds weird. I am full-bodied. Quite robust. hmmm. Okay- just know, I did not mean physically. Unless you mean strong. Why would you mean anything? I am the one that said it. Nevermind.)
Did you know that 10 people in Australia have read my blog today? 3 people in Germany. Am I the only person who finds that incredible? Do you think they liked it? Will they read it again?
I am one of those people who possess no artistic talents. I cannot draw, paint, sculpt, sing, dance, or even act. I desperately wanted to do all of those things. I wanted to have an interesting way to express myself. I completely underestimated my capabilities. I was so busy tallying up the talents I did not possess that I totally forgot to give myself credit for the ones I have. I would never dream of judging another person as harshly as I judge myself.
There is something special about the ordinary days. Driving in the car with your mom listening to Reba McEntire, singing along without fear of judgement, not caring how you sound. Going to see a bad movie with your son. Harry Potter marathons that you fall asleep during. Curling up with a good book.
We have far more regular days than remarkable ones. I think it is time to celebrate the normal stuff. The big, special days are great! Everyone should get to experience them. However, we miss so much when we are constantly waiting for the next great adventure.
I am planning to do 2 more Tough Mudders this year. In about 6 months. If I wait until then to find inspiration, I will have missed half a year. We don’t get that many days in our lives, and we should not waste them. Open your eyes, look around. Find the beauty in the ordinary. Act like a tourist in your town. See things from a new perspective. Write your story in your every day life. Fall in love with The Marvelously Mundane.
I know, I know. Do you talk about anything else these days?
I promise. I am just having so much fun going through pictures and planning my next adventure with my son and my new friends.
I had not actually planned on attempting many of the obstacles. I had not been working out, and I was woefully unprepared for the TM. I went anyway. I wanted to meet these people. I am so glad that I did.
Participating with this group of people was life-changing. I feel like I was probably the one in the worst shape, I feel like I was the biggest person out there. The old me would never in a million years wear compression pants and a form fitting shirt out in public like that. I would have felt out of place and like I did not belong.
I have worked hard to overcome the negative self-talk that permeates my life. It is not easy. I think this is one of the hardest parts about getting healthy. You have to feel like you are worth the effort. Tough Mudder is so much more than an obstacle course. It is a chance to overcome your fears. It is an opportunity to prove to yourself that you can do anything.
There are videos. There are videos of me on the ground in a mud pit.
I have an interesting nose. (I hate my nose.) It is turned up, a la a pig nose. Oh, and I have always been heavier than most of the people I know. I remember when I was a kid, and the mean kids called me Ms. Piggy. Now, Fast forward more than 20 years. I am still fat, and I still have a turned-up nose. I was actually essentially rolling around in a pit of mud. I assure you, no one called me a pig.
This sounds silly but, this is one of the best things that ever happened to me. I stopped letting the bullies and mean people dictate my life. I can be healthy and active. It’s okay that I am not in fantastic (or even acceptable) physical condition. I went out and worked hard. I played. I had fun. No one told me I did not belong with them.
It is time to stop letting the voices from our past prevent us from living up to our full potential. Yeah, there were mean kids and people who pointed out our flaws. Wanna hear a secret? My son has my nose. In fact, he looks pretty much like a male version of me. I think he is the most handsome person on the planet. I do not see those features as flaws on him.
I now understand why it hurt my family so much all those years I thought I was ugly. I get it. I understand why it hurt them to see me hurting myself. I was hurting the person they loved.
Today, I am still fat. I am still slow and out of shape. I can do a burpee. I can go and have fun in the mud with a group of fitty friends. I am not ugly. Turns out, I have a lot to offer. Who I am to stand in my way?