So My Son Had This Heart Surgery Last Week

Well, that’s a bit of an exaggeration. He had a heart procedure. But surgery sounds so much more dramatic doesn’t it? And a surgeon performed it. In a hospital OR. So yes, it might be an exaggeration. But it isn’t really a lie.

He had something called supraventricular tachycardia, which basically means he had an extra passageway from his heart’s upper chamber to its lower chamber that was causing him some occasional problems while running. It would make his heart beat too fast. (Like 250 BPM. Literally.) It wasn’t life threatening. (Whew!) But it’s still not something you want to have. Especially if you are a runner.

The procedure was simple and was done laparoscopically, so he wasn’t cut open. There were just tiny little tubes inserted into his groin area and pushed up to his heart. Then the doctor burned closed that pesky little hole. It was an outpatient procedure. It was done on a Monday and he was back in school on Wednesday. He should be running again this week.

The procedure was a success and he is 100% cured. This isn’t something that comes back. It’s like a paper cut. It’s super annoying, but once it heals it’s like it was never there.

No big deal right?

Except.

My son was in the hospital for an outpatient procedure. On his heart.

And I’d be a liar if I said it didn’t scare the shit out of me. But I held it together like moms do. I didn’t want him to know how nervous I was. I think he did the same for me too by acting pretty calm as well. He said the thing he was most nervous about was getting the IV. (He had a hernia operation a couple of years ago and did not like getting that IV inserted one little bit.)

But his surgeon was fantastic. (Or was he simply a cardiological procedurist that day? Since it was a procedure. And not a surgery. Hmmm, I somehow do not think he would like that.) He explained everything to us before and after. The procedure was a success. The only recovery really was the healing of the insertion points of the catheters. 

Of course my boy is clever. He milked it a bit last week. “But Mom, I just had heart surgery,” was his go-to response whenever something was asked of him. I would remind him that it was just a procedure. But still. I let him milk it. I enjoyed babying him just a little.

I stayed home from work the day after the procedure just to be with him. I drove him the half mile to school all week. I eased up on his chores. I made his favorite dinners last week and bought him his favorite ice cream.

I’m just so glad to have this little thing (that I would often worry was a big thing) over with.

Done.

Cured 100%.

As I said before, “Whew!”

Why I Let My Thirteen Year Old Daughter Watch The Walking Dead

Yep, that’s right. Alert the Mommy Police. I let my 13-year-old daughter watch The Walking Dead. Do I think she’s old enough? Hell no. I cringe as she’s watching it. But I’m not a lazy parent. (At least when it comes to “viewer discretion.”) She’s been begging to watch The Walking Dead for two years and I have held firm with my no. This year I caved. But it’s not for the reason you might think.

The Walking Dead
This show totally looks appropriate for 13-year-old girls right?

I didn’t watch the first season of The Walking Dead. Well, at least not the beginning of it. But Chandler and Dave did. I would occasionally pass by the TV and see some zombie getting its head shot off or bashed in, in a way more gruesome than the time before and ask Dave, “Do you think he’s old enough to be watching this?”

“It’s fine. He’s okay,” would be Dave’s response.

At some point during the first season I got pulled in. And by then it was too late. Chandler, who was in 8th grade at the time, was fully invested, and while it might have been a wise “tough” parenting choice to make him stop watching it, I didn’t.

I will admit that during the second season, when the depth of the darkness of humanity really began to be exposed, is when I started to worry about my son watching the show. The violence and extreme gore are bad enough, but what really bothers me is the means humans will go to, to survive. And on The Walking Dead if you want to survive you have to kill – and not just zombies, sometimes you have to kill other people.

In case you are not aware, The Walking Dead is an extremely dark show.

But for three seasons (well two-and-a-half for me) Dave, Chandler and I would watch The Walking Dead. At first while Marley slept. But as she became older and she started to stay up later, we would start to send her to our bedroom to watch TV in there.

Last year, when Marley was in 7th grade (which, you know, was actually earlier this year), she really started to amp up The Walking Dead campaign. “Everyone at my school watches The Walking Dead, Mom.”

I would immediately list three kids I knew for a fact were not watching The Walking Dead because I knew their mothers well enough to know that there was no way in hell they’d be watching that show. (You know, those super moms who really showcase how lacksidaisical my slightly-better-than-mediocre my parenting skills are.)

“You know we are not allowed to compare ourselves with those families,” she would tell me. (My children have tried to make it a rule that we not compare ourselves with the three super-families run by those three super-moms because they truly are superior in every way to ours -I mean their kids actually like each other and stuff- but I can’t help it, I do it all the time.)

“Different families have different rules,” I would tell her for the millionth time. She would roll her eyes at me and I would wonder what kind of mother would let her 7th grade child watch The Walking Dead(Even though some of “those mothers” are my friends.)

But Marley is in eighth grade now. The same grade that Chandler was in when he started to watch. So when season four started this year and Chandler and Dave and I excitedly sat down to watch to see what would become of Rick and his crew after taking down Woodbury and Marley poked her head in the room and said in the perfect martyr-like tone of dejection and resignation, “Oh I guess you guys are going to start watch The Walking Dead without me,” I told Dave to pause the DVR.

I had visions of Marley remembering a childhood of being sent to the other room while the three of us watched TV. It’s one thing to send both kids out of the room while the grown-ups watch things that are “inappropriate,” but to send one kid out while the other kid stays in is something entirely different. Especially when done on a weekly basis.

“What grade were you in when you started watching this show?” I asked Chandler.

He thought about it. “Eighth, I guess.”

I looked at Dave.

“Okay Marley,” I said. “I have to be honest. I don’t even like that your brother watches this show. It’s very dark and it shows people doing very terrible things.  But I think it’s only fair to let you watch too. Unless it starts to give you nightmares.”

“Oh don’t worry, Mom,” she told me. “Gross stuff like that doesn’t bother me.”

Fantastic.

So there you have it. That’s why I let my thirteen-year-old daughter watch The Walking Dead. I am most definitely not a super-mom. And we are definitely not a “Super Family.”

Proud Mamas and Amazing Kids

Last week I saw my son cross the finish line first in his cross country meet at the league finals. The second place runner was nine seconds behind him. It was beautiful.

XC runner
Yes, they did run up that hill before they ran down it!     (Photo credit Debby Pattiz)

More importantly than being proud of him, I was happy for him. I knew how much it meant to him to do well and how hard he’s been working. He’s struggled a bit this season. There are seven runners who make the varsity team. He has had to fight for that 7th spot all season long. During the season the coaches would announce the team line-ups at the beginning of each week. Most races Chandler made varsity, but some races he made JV. For the league finals he made JV. At first I think he was a bit disappointed, but then he realized that if he ran JV he had a shot at winning and he became excited.

It was a hard race. He knows the course well, but there are a lot of elevation changes. (For those of you unfamiliar with cross country -or XC-, all courses are different, but they are all three miles in length.)

And it was hot – about 85 degrees. He doesn’t usually run well in the heat. (Of course who does? There were actually trash cans at the end of the race for kids to throw up in and I hear the heat from this race caused a huge puke-a-torium.)

The heat worried me and I think it worried him, so when he overcame it and not only won the race, but more importantly improved his time on the course by 57 seconds, I think he was pretty pleased. A PR (personal record) and a win made for one happy boy and one proud mom.

And then I saw something that made my heart swell up just as much (if not more) for a boy I didn’t even know.

In that same JV race, about twenty yards from the finish line, a boy from another team collapsed. He must have pushed himself too hard in the heat. One of his teammates was just a few steps behind him and instead of running past him and finishing his race with a good time, he stopped and pulled his teammate up. He put his shoulder under his friend’s arm and supported him so they could stumble towards the finish line together. After about ten or twelve steps the boy fell again and his friend tried to pull him up a second time, but the fallen boy wouldn’t let him. “Just go,” he said, waving his friend off. “Just go.” His friend reluctantly ran to the finish. He probably lost more than 30 seconds of his time. A few seconds later the boy who fell was able to get up and cross the finish line on his own. He too, was amazing. He was no quitter.

I don’t know what their coach had to say to the boy who stopped to help his friend. Perhaps he was angry that he sacrificed points for the team. But I hope instead he commended him for his kindness. For the goodness in his soul.

Watching that one boy help his teammate was truly one of the most beautiful things I have ever witnessed. It brought tears to my eyes as I watched it and it brings tears to my eyes every time I think of it. I hope that boy’s mother and father were there to see how selflessly their son acted.

I stayed after Chandler’s race to cheer on his teammates in the other races. And also I wanted to see Sarah Baxter run her last league race. Sarah Baxter is the #1 high school girls’ cross country runner in the nation. She is a running sensation who has never lost a high school race and smashes records at every course she runs. She’ll get a free ride to the college of her dreams and she will most likely make the Summer Olympic team in 2020 if not 2016.

SarahBaxter
Sarah’s too fast – I couldn’t get a clean shot of her!

Watching her run is a true joy – she looks like a gazelle. She makes running look effortless. (And I can attest that it is not!) When she runs by everyone from every school cheers. She finished her race 85 seconds ahead of the 2nd place runner. Incredible! And then instead of cooling off (or puking in a trash can) she stood at the finish line to cheer on her teammates. She may be a superstar, but she is no diva.

Sarah-Baxter-cross-country
All eyes are on Sarah Baxter’s time (She crossed at 16:25)

Watching your child -and other children- succeed truly is one of the greatest joys in life. It’s what it’s all about isn’t it?

I feel so lucky and so blessed that I got to witness my son run faster, a girl who is the best in the nation run the fastest, and a boy whose name I’ll probably never know slow down to help a friend.

What has you child -or any child- done lately that made you feel lucky? Made you feel blessed? Made you feel proud?

One of the 5,687 Reasons Why I’m A Terrible Mother

I was deep cleaning the kitchen the other day. You know – the move the appliances and the knife rack off the counter and scrub the grout with a toothbrush kind of cleaning, instead of my daily wipe the bread crumbs off with a sponge type of cleaning. It’s amazing the amount of clutter that accumulates on the counter – things I don’t even “see” on a daily basis. The sea salt I cook with that I rarely bother to put back into the cupboard. Ditto for the honey used on peanut butter sandwiches. And for the box of dandelion tea. Behind the toaster I found a napkin holder that Chandler made for me when he was in elementary school. I don’t know if it was a class project or something from Indian Guides, but can I be honest? It’s ugly. I suppose it does have a bit of a Mondrian quality to it. (You know, if Mondrian were sloppy. And didn’t use yellow.)

ugly-child-craft
Proudly displayed on my kitchen table for years.

I used to proudly display it on our kitchen table, as good mothers of bad artists do, but we use cloth napkins now, so not only is it ugly, it’s useless. I can’t quite bring myself to throw it away, so I do what any bad mother would do – I chuck it into the back of the high pantry cupboard never to be found again. At least until the next deep cleaning. Chandler is 16 now. I’m 100% positive that if someone else made it he’d find it not only ugly, but offensive. I know that even though it sat on our kitchen table for years he’s forgotten all about it. And he’s certainly smart enough to know that we have no practical use for it. But I also know that if he found out I threw it away he’d never forgive me. So to the back of the pantry it goes. At least until I tackle that with a deep cleaning.

How I Spent My Mother’s Day

On my very first Mother’s Day, when Chandler was just five months old, I woke up with Bells Palsy*, thought I had a stroke, and went to the emergency room.

For those of you who don’t know what Bells Palsy is, it’s a form of facial paralysis, where half your face is frozen and the other half works just fine. I could not close my left eye and was constantly drooling. So attractive. (On an up note, the frozen side was completely wrinkle free – attractive indeed!)

The ER doctor told me that the cause was most likely stress. (Don’t ever let anyone tell you that motherhood isn’t stressful!)

When I asked him how long it would last he very nonchalantly told me that it could be permanent. (Asshole.)

I dare you to top that with your “I had a crappy Mother’s Day” story.

That Monday I went to a Chinese neurologist who mixed old world and new world medicine and hooked me up with a mad prescription of acupuncture and Prednisone. I recovered in about six weeks.

So… needless to say, every Mother’s Day since -even the ones that I’ve hosted and had to spend all day Saturday cleaning have been wonderful.

My kids are older now so I no longer get school projects as Mother’s Day gifts.

DIY-potpourri
The potpourri in this decoupaged holder mostly smells like dust these days.

 

Mothers-Day-craft
Chandler was so proud of himself when he made this.

No more acrostic poems.

mothers-day-acrostic-poem
How much did I swoon when 5-year-old Marley told me I was pretty AND hysterical? (Answer – A lot!)

No more handmade cards or laminated signs permanently magneted to our refrigerator .

mothers-day-refrigerator-art
Tell your kid “I work so hard” enough times and they’ll have their preschool teacher make a sign that says so.
homemade-mothers-day-card
Yes, I do keep ALL of my Mother’s Day gifts.

I do get breakfast in bed – a crumb donut and coffee. To be honest, the kids enjoy the donuts more than me and I really only eat them because it makes the kids so happy. (Yes, even on Mother’s Day it’s all about the kids.)

Chandler clipped some roses from our garden.

Mothers-day-roses
Sweet, but I don’t think he’ll grow up to be a florist.

And then left the rose clippers on the kitchen counter

rose-pruners
Guess who put these away?

.

Then we went to breakfast. (Because that donut? I was hungry 5 minutes after I ate it.)

For the last few years we’ve been going to the local Boy Scout troop’s pancake breakfast. It’s all-you-can-eat pancakes, eggs, ham, fruit and bagels. The Boy Scouts are the waiters and the dads cook the food. There is always a wait, the  food is cold or lukewarm at best, and the Boy Scouts are pretty terrible waiters. (They try hard, but they are after all, children.)

pancake-breakfast
A Mother’s Day Feast!

Hmmm… a wait, lukewarm food, and bad service…

Not much different from going to a fancy restaurant for an overpriced Mother’s Day brunch if you ask me.

Except that this brunch only costs $5. And everyone in town is there. It’s my suburban town’s social event of the season. (Yeah, I might live in the suburbs of Los Angeles, but trust me, it’s still pretty Mayberry.)

It’s held at the clubhouse of a beautiful lake that looks like you are in some vacation dreamland rather than five minutes from the suburbs of Los Angeles.

Malibou-Lake
Malibou Lake (yes I spelled that right!)

There are baskets that are raffled. I’ve won one in the past and so has my mom. This year Marley won one. (Hardly fair, since she’s not a mother!)

raffle-gift-baskets

wine-gift-basket
I’m sure it won’t shock anyone to know this is the basket I was hoping to win.

All the moms get a pink carnation. (Hey, only the best for moms right?)

My kids dress up. (Well… dress up-ish.)

family
One happy mom.

It’s nothing fancy. And sure I’d rather be at the spa at The Four Seasons like my good friend Sophie (okay maybe not everyone in town goes to the Boy Scout breakfast). But it sure beats the ER!

And honestly… it’s just lovely. And there’s (almost) no place else I’d rather be.

 

*BTW – Just so you know, I KNOW it’s Bell’s Palsy and NOT Bells Palsy, but people who search the term on the world’s most popular search engine don’t seem to know that, so yeah, I risked looking stupid just so I could show up in search engines. Go ahead and say it – I’m a search word whore!