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Jun 13 2011

Being Away From My Kids Was Awesome, Until it Sucked

By at 1:30 pm

On my last trip to New York, I flew to Toronto for some Big Bang Theory publicity for one day of our trip. I left our hotel in Manhattan at 5:30 am after nursing our almost 3 year old one last time, and I returned at 10 pm that night.

It was very hard being away from him and his older brother that long; I don’t know if I have ever been away from them for that long, ever. I started to cry as the plane took off; feeling the string that connected us was being stretched maybe a little bit too far.

That being said, here are the awesome things about that day:

1) Walking to get a bagel across 44th street without a 35 pound toddler strapped to my back and a 5 1/2 year old tugging at my arm is infinitely better than walking to get a bagel with a 35 pound toddler strapped to my back and a 5 1/2 year old tugging at my arm.

2) I can get orange juice with as much pulp as I want when I am alone. No one will scrunch up his tiny face like he just ate a lemon, spitting out pulp along the sidewalk in disgust as I contemplate telling him about my grandparents’ childhoods in Eastern Europe where orange juice in a carton with too much pulp was the last thing they were worried about.

3) I do not need to carry a handkerchief because there is no one’s nose or grimy sticky hands to be wiped.

4) People recognize me far more when I am alone, since when people see kids, they usually look at them.

5) I can actually hold a complete conversation with a start, middle, and ending without being interrupted with requests to go potty, or to look at the cute dog, or look at the policeman, or, “Look at the gum stuck to my shoe, mama!”

As I experienced each of these revelations, I rejoiced for the possibility of someday (soon perhaps!?) reclaiming the person I was before I became “the woman who is a mother.” I also got surges of panic: what if? What if I never want to go back to that hotel? What if the lures of not being tied down overtake me and I become that woman who left her family to pretend she is single again? What if it’s not enough anymore to be a mother all day all the time with no breaks and no end in sight? What if?

Yeah, pretty scary stuff.

When my feet hit the carpeted hallway of our hotel at 10 that night, after a day of publicity and meetings and Toronto seen only from the window of a town car, I started crying. The clash of my worlds felt overwhelming. How could I miss those boys so much and also not miss them so much? I nursed my sweet Fred into the darkness and instantly returned to the life most prominently assigned to me now. It was as if–poof!–Cinderella became her old self again after a night at the ball with the Prince. Back to tired overwhelmed underappreciated mama.

Someday I will have more freedom, and someday I will see what it’s like to be the me I was before I became the me I am now. For now, it’s hard. And I don’t always understand the conflict or what to do with it. So I sit with it. I forgive myself for feeling longing for that other existence, and I remember that there is only one life we get to live this time around. I am blessed to have two sons whose little souls are so pure and who bring me so much joy, and their love will see me through my struggle and my conflict. It has to. Because there is no other way.

May 23 2011

Nursing Abroad…On The Bathroom Floor

By at 9:31 am

Did you know there was a kosher McDonald's in Argentina?

When our son Aiven was 15 weeks old, my husband Alex and I took him to Buenos Aires, to meet Alex’s family. I needed to pump plenty of breast milk to keep Aiven happy in taxis and restaurants, but towards the end of the 10-day trip, my pump decided it needed a vacation too.

My breasts could not afford such luxury, and I was forced to nurse more often to compensate for my slacker pump.

Our trip was blessed with excellent weather, but inevitably there came a rainy day.  We decided to go to a famous shopping center. This mall is huge and well known for both its Art Deco interior and kosher McDonald’s.

At lunchtime we went to the food court and Aiven decided he wanted to eat too. With no bottled milk left, I tried nursing him in a booth. He could not get comfortable, nor could I, and his hungry wails pierced the cacophony of the food court.

Of course my husband was nowhere to be found (he was on a mission to seek and devour a vegan meal) so I left the stroller with his aunt and tried to explain in broken Spanish that I was leaving to find a place to nurse. (Alex tells me that what I actually said was “I’m looking milk.”) I made a mad dash to find a quiet comfy corner in this cavernous mall to feed my ravenous son.

Well, I found a place alright, but I wouldn’t exactly call it comfy. I texted Alex and his aunt to come meet me and help me get up:

Yes, that would be me on the floor of the handicapped bathroom.

I had my hands on the floor, so Alex wouldn’t let me touch Aiven. When he was done nursing, Alex lifted him off of me. I washed my hands and arms as best as I could. I don’t think there was any soap or paper towels. YUCK! Alex wanted to dip me in a vat of bleach to disinfect me. Thankfully I remembered my hand sanitizer and gooped it all over me. I couldn’t wait to get back to the hotel and shower.

Although I’ve shamelessly nursed Aiven in a plethora of public places, I must say that this was hands down (pun intended) the most interesting and gross experience I ever had nursing my baby boy.

What about you? I would love to hear your stories!

Jan 27 2011

Babies Ruin Everything

By at 12:42 pm

...this is what we got.

This is what we imagined...

It’s become our motto. It’s catchy, it’s funny, and it’s true. It’s also a great way to tell if I’m talking to a parent or not. If I casually mention that babies ruin everything, and they look back at me in horror, disgust, and judgment, I can assume they’ve never had a baby spit up on their new sweater or a toddler throw a soul-crushing tantrum in the middle of the restaurant.

Say the same thing to a parent, though, and he or she will smile and nod and quickly regale you with stories about double ear infections and cancelled vacations.

Canceled vacations. Ouch. That one hits a little close to home. Josh and I were supposed to take the girls to Barbados a couple of weeks ago to visit their great-grandparents. After a long day of packing and sorting and counting diapers (somehow, no matter how many you have, it never seems like enough), we finally climbed into bed only a few hours before we needed to head out to the airport. That’s when the barking began.

We don’t have a dog. It was our toddler. It was croup. It was bad. It’s agonizing listening to your child cough, but we had learned through many, many painful nights and a variety of failed interventions that we just need to leave her alone. But croup can mean more than just a bad cough, it can mean a baby that can’t breathe. Croup has given us two trips to the ER (one for each girl) and one hospital admission for my younger daughter when she was 4 months old. Croup scares me.

And that is how I found myself on the phone with a clinic in Barbados the next morning. “Croup. C-R-O-U-P. No, it’s not asthma. It’s an inflammation of the vocal chords…” When I found myself describing the treatment, I knew our trip was doomed.

We hemmed. We hawed. We tried to tell ourselves it would be ok. In all likelihood, it would have been. But an island paradise becomes a lot less appealing when your baby is gasping for air and you’re an ocean away from the pediatric emergency room that has become all too familiar. We called our parents. We called my grandparents on the island. I kept hoping one of them would tell me to calm down and stop being such a Nervous Nelly, that it would be fine. But they all agreed that we had made the right decision not to go.

Well, shit.

Instead of flying off to the sun and sand, we spent the morning canceling reservations. We took the girls to Ikea and tried to ease our sadness with $3 pasta. (The damn Swedish meatballs have pork in them. Being Jewish ruins everything.)

And now, here we are, heading into yet another major snowstorm with no sunny memories or sandy suitcases to gird us through the long winter. I’m trying to put a positive spin on this, but the truth is, Babies Ruin Everything.

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