Saturday, October 30, 2010

Old Crowe Parenting Show

Do you remember a time, way back before you had kids, when you promised yourself you would be a "cool" parent? You would be different. You were never going to become a dull boring grown-up just because you had kids. I remember briefly getting to know a friend's parents in college and thinking they were the coolest parents I'd ever met. They liked The Grateful Dead and by the time I met them, had spent years following their music. In my 20 year old mind, they were the coolest. I didn't think they were cool just because they liked The Dead, because I'm not sure I really liked The Dead then, but rather because this part of them didn't change just because they became parents. In other words, not only did they not subscribe to raising their child listening to Raffi, but they had some cool stories involving music while parenting. And as parents, I'm pretty sure they influenced my friend in a positive way with their taste in music.

I saw The Black Crowes last night at the same venue my husband and I first saw them back in high-school, with the same group of friends we've seen most of their shows with. And today I'm asking myself if I kept my promise. Am I a cool parent? Two decades ago, when I started following a new band called The Black Crowes, I would have hoped that I would still be cool enough to follow them into parenthood. And although life changes in many ways when you start having kids, this part of my life has never changed. Reminiscing with my friends last night before the concert, counting into double digits the number of Crowes' shows we've seen, I think we've all carried this part of our cool over into this parenting show. And we've got the stories, even guitar picks, to back us up.

I'm not going to crow and say we're cool just because we go to concerts. Maybe we're not. But if we thought we were cool before we had kids, not much has changed. We've kept this part of our lives and even incorporated it into our parenting - our kids know The Crowes, even if a lot of the world doesn't. My kids first heard them live in utero, as I was trying not to breathe the air around me too deeply, and my friends' kids knew all their lyrics before graduating preschool. Despite my Crowe-loving friends and I all having kids now, we've seen the same number of shows since our kids were born as we did before. True, last night we all made that last train home, but there have been plenty of recent shows that mirrored the early tours. And I hope there will be many more. Whenever The Crowes come back from their hiatus, during which they will be spending time parenting their own kids, we'll pick up where we left off. It doesn't matter when it is, or even if we're all a bunch of old crows. Maybe our kids will even think we're cool enough to join us someday.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Living in Oblivion

Is it wrong that I get most of my news from Facebook? When I had a career before kids, I used to start my day sitting in my office reading the news online, browsing around CNN, Yahoo, and ABC news sites. I certainly don't have the time to start my day like that now, but Facebook makes it easy with trending topics right there, updated constantly on my homepage, and available to view on my phone throughout the day. The downside of course is that you have to hope your pool of "friends" have newsworthy posts. I do have to scroll through the Farmville and "what my kid did today" posts to see some good topics, but they are there and easily accessible. And my "news" may be more biased to sports and entertainment popular culture than global events, but its better than being oblivious to anything outside of preschool and the first grade.

Before Facebook, I spent a good deal of my motherhood living in oblivion. Its pretty easy to opt out of the news outside of your house when very little of that seems to affect the children filled microcosm within. I just didn't care enough to spend any time seeking news. When my kids were little, my focus wasn't so much on the national economy, as it was on the economy of parenting; managing the constant feedings and diaper changes, and bartering for naps. Wars in distant places weren't forefront in my mind as much as my children beating on each other in the playroom; I guess I needed some peace here before I really wanted to think about peace on a larger scale. I openly admit there have been whole days, sometimes weeks, that I've been completely oblivious to any news outside of my door. But in my defense, I'm not a complete idiot, I've always caught up. I'm just usually a few days late in digesting the week's news.

I'm sure my husband thought I was becoming an idiot. That his Ivy League educated wife was choosing to live in a hole. He'd start off a conversation sarcastically saying, "You wouldn't know this because it was the headline news all day today, but . . ." He used to try to keep me current by circling articles in the paper for me to read and leaving them on the counter. And then he moved on to just dropping The Wall Street Journal in front of me on his way out the door saying, "Here, get smart". But the fact is, with Facebook I now know current events before he does. I knew Michael Jackson died within minutes of the press releasing the news, and I was the one who broke the news to my husband that McNabb was leaving the Eagles, his beloved Eagles. I didn't get this news from the AP, but rather FB. Amongst the daily horoscopes and gaming high scores, there are also mentions of earthquakes, floods, and trapped miners. Maybe its not quite right that I use Facebook as an actual news source, but it does seem to keep me informed and for now its better than no news at all. And now I get to say to my husband, "You wouldn't know this because you never check Facebook, but . . ."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Power of the Nap

Life has been busy since the start of school in September; long days, late nights, and busy weekends. I've been treading water, so to speak, for weeks now. But after weeks of over-extending myself on too little sleep, with no break in sight for weeks to come, I felt like I was going under a little. The treading was getting tiring and I felt like I was starting to drown. So, today I took myself out of the pool and took a nap.

That's right, a nap. I got the kids off to school and marched right back upstairs and back underneath the down comforter. By 9am this morning, I was back in bed for a much needed 3 hour nap. I did feel guilty at the idea and there was a lot of debate in my head this morning as to whether a nap was really acceptable, or whether I should just power on with the day. But in the end, the rainy weather was the winning point in favor of a nap; never mind another obvious point was that after only 3 hours into my day I was already physically out of power. I still felt guilty, but that lasted only minutes until I was sound asleep. I obviously was at a breaking point and my body needed a nap. Guilt gone and power restored.

So why don't we take more naps? Why aren't grown-up naps more accepted in our culture? Other countries and cultures have mid-day breaks and siestas. But I've only ever napped before when I've been deathly ill. Why wait until we are so beat down? We beg, plead, and force our kids to nap. We know our children physically need a nap when they are cranky and melting, and we see the restorative powers of a good nap. I was melting this morning and what I needed was a good nap. And if I put off getting that needed sleep any longer, I probably would be deathly ill by the end of the week. So, I'm not only admitting that I napped today, but I'm advertising it. Naps are a powerful thing and more people should be doing it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The 7 Year Itch

Today is my baby's birthday. Seven years ago today, I became a mom for the first time to the most perfect little baby boy. Perfect little face, perfect little body, and perfect little skin. What I didn't know seven years ago was that his perfect baby skin would one day turn on him. By a year old my son was diagnosed with eczema and although its not constant, seven years later we are still dealing with seasonal flares and sensitive skin.

Two weeks ago, with the start of Fall, my son had his usual eczema flare. And as with each flare he's ever had, there were red patches on the back of his legs, uncomfortable itching, and crying. Its so hard as a mother to see my perfect child in tears dealing with his body that isn't quite perfect. He cries and he yells because he's so angry that his skin does this. He tells me he hates his skin and he wishes he had different skin. What do I say to him? And how can I not feel responsible? I did make him after all. But I don't have any answers for why this is happening to him. No one else in our family has eczema and he has no food allergies or asthma. I just want to tell him that "I'm sorry", but that doesn't fix it and it doesn't stop his itch.

This week his sensitive skin reacted to something he came in contact with. We still don't know what it was. Wednesday the rash started and by Friday he was covered head to toe with itchy red bumps. It was on his scalp, in his ears, and even in his belly button. Happy Birthday. The poor kid couldn't sleep because even Benadryl wouldn't touch this beast. His doctor couldn't firmly diagnose the cause, but he's not contagious. Great, but he's still itching. He's had 7 years of an itch. Every year I hope that he will finally outgrow this, but this week has proven we are still very much dealing with this. And I think after 7 years, I'm no longer dealing with his pain all that well; we're both in pain. I just want his skin to be normal. I guess that's my birthday wish for him this year. For now, I'm smattering him with kisses and Aquaphor, and feeding him birthday cake with a side of Prednisone. I'm hoping the rash will fade soon, but each one of these flares leaves a scar on me.