Saturday, January 30, 2016

Lucky Cookie Number Seven

It's that day of the year where I think about what could have been and what is and I get all emotional and introspective and usually end up happy and proud of everything that has become of this crazy sugar-rimmed life.

Today, though, for the first time in seven large years, I realize that my life with TN feels distant. My surgery feels like a memory. I don't think about TN every day. I think about it probably a few times a week, but not every day. And I can't decide if that is a good thing or a bad thing.

I never, ever, want to lose touch with what TN-life was like. It keeps me humble, keeps me thankful. I never want to lose my gratitude for the pain free life that I have or the incredible love and strength that brought me to this day, seven years ago. TN played a huge part in the woman I have become. I can't forget that.

On the other hand, I have now spent longer post-TN than I spent with TN. That's a big milestone. Lucky number seven. And an entire lifetime--with two actual new lives--has emerged in the last seven years. I now spend more time looking forward than looking back. TN really is a memory.

I hope it stays that way. And in the meantime, I won't forget to see the beauty in the everyday small moments: a cardinal in the snowy backyard, the kiddos giggling in the bathtub, the pressure of Chad's familiar hand on the small of my back, the tiny sighs of my babies sleeping in their beds.

For the last seven years and the memory of the six years before it, I couldn't be more grateful.

Happy 7th Nerversary. 

Christmas Eve Day 2015
Marblehead, MA

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sister Cookie, Brother Cookie

I took a break, I think. I took a break from my life to bring my baby to life, while guiding my preschooler in life. But I'm feeling back, again, now. So hi! I'm back. At least for today.

Our family has changed so much with the addition of our little boy. He is just joy. Not joyful, not happy, he's just made of joy. He is giant and sweet and cuddly and I am not his favorite person. Nope, not me, not Chad.

Grace is Colm's favorite person. She can make him laugh with a single glance. And then they giggle and giggle and giggle and it's astounding to watch.

I worried about that--my kids' relationships with each other. I still worry about it. I only had sisters and I know how deep and profound and devastating and effortless it is to have a sister. So I wondered when Colm arrived, what the sister-brother relationship would be like. I'm sure it will take many, many forms as they grow, but so far, it's been just astounding to see their love and how palpable and honest it is.

I know part of that is their age--how can a baby and a preschooler be anything BUT honest and real--but watching them love each other makes me love them even more; love them as a pair, love their love for each other, love what they'll tackle together, love what they'll grow to understand about relationships together, love that no matter what, they will be sister and brother forever.

Yesterday in the car Grace said:
Mommy, remember how you told me a girl can marry a girl and a boy can marry a boy?

And I said: Yes, you can marry anyone you love.

Grace said she wanted to marry me, and I told her that while I'd love to marry her, I couldn't because I already married Daddy. So she said:

Then I'll marry Colm. But in a REAL wedding, not a pretend one. So he'll need to learn how to walk first.

I agreed with her and let that small "illegal" detail go for now. It's not important when there's giggling to do.

Wagon Ride. August 9, 2015

Monday, March 23, 2015

Government Issued Cookie

So I've decided to take a stab at writing copy for the next FMLA (or MMLA) brochure:

Goooooodmorning, Momma! Today is the last day of your twelve week, no-expenses-paid vacation! You're ready! C'mon, you're not really bleeding anymore, and your nipples probably have healed so you don't scream on latch anymore, and you're even getting three whole hours of sleep in a row! Not only that but your baby can now actually hold it's head up! Sister, it is TIME to go back to work. It's time to drive around like a maniac to arrive to work and daycare on time. Twelve weeks is an eternity! Rome wasn't built in a day but it certainly didn't take twelve whole weeks, now did it? 

You don't want to be lazy now, do you? After all, the best way to raise a productive citizen is to be a productive citizen and let the productive child care industry take care of the child. That's the way! We won't be here for you if you need anything but I'm sure someone else might be.* 

Hope you enjoyed your stay! You can't come back again this year but maybe next! 

*Actually every other country in the world will be there for you except for Papua New Guinea, Swaziland, and Lesotho, so you could always just move....anywhere else that has electricity. But shhhhhhhhh! Don't tell!

So. Can you tell we've entered the most excellent phase of babyhood and working motherhood, where I now have to be at a certain place at a certain time in the morning? Can you tell I'm only slightly losing my mind? Oh, and cosmically my baby knows this, so when I set my alarm for, say, 5:30am, he wakes up at 5am. So I set my alarm the next day for 5am AND HE WAKES UP AT 4:15AM. This is, as they say, living the dream.

Really, though. This is how it goes. and you may be thinking--well, 4:15am, he'll go back to sleep, right? And yes, he will. But I won't. Nope, siree. 4:15 means I have a little more than an hour before I need to shower and if I go back to sleep I will most likely, in my extreme fatigue, keep hugging the shred of sleep that I have had for an hour instead of getting up to shower. Which would be a big, big, mistake, since that has happened for the last two mornings.

And that's really all I can muster right now, since I have meetings with clients today and I should save some energy since I didn't get three hours in a row last night. (But I did get 6 hours the night before...I guess that's something.)

Stay tuned. I hear it gets better.

(Especially with this face to look at....)

PS: I really do love and respect the women taking care of my children all day. I couldn't do what they do. They are amazing. Except they're not paid enough and I'm not paid enough for the amount of guilt. Soooo....yeah.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Six Whole Cookies

This day always feels like my own personal Thanksgiving. I am so thankful for the love in my life, my family, my friends, my health, and most importantly, the ability to keep this very thankful perspective every day.

It's been six years since my MVD, since I woke up without pain. The amount of life Chad and I have lived since then is almost staggering. The thought that I can now take my two babies for a walk along the same path in Salem Common that Chad took me on my first post-surgery walk, the walk where we talked about the fact that now we could have babies, is staggering. The six years that I lived with indescribable pain gave me the gift of perspective that I am thankful for every day. It means that the exploding washing machine is just an exploding washing machine, the dentist is just the dentist, the big life decisions are daunting but in an exciting way. Problems are just fixable things to just...fix. And we can fix them, which should be celebrated.

As long as we are here, we should celebrate that. As long as we love each other we should celebrate that. As long as we can, we should celebrate. Happy Sixth Nervesary.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Our New Cookie

Our little one has arrived. "My baby," as Grace says, is a boy!

Colm Robert Cotter arrived on December 7th, 2014, at 5:55pm. His arrival started and then stopped, started and then sped forward. After a false start on Friday, it was Sunday; I was reading to Grace before her nap. And then it was on.

Unlike Grace's birth, it was afternoon. But like Grace's birth, it was a Sunday, and it was beautiful. We arrived at the Birth Center around 2:30 pm. The sun was beaming on us, and I watched it set as I paced around the room. The Birth Center was empty except for Karen (the midwife), Chad, and me. I was able to talk and joke a bit between contractions, and I had a popsicle that I think was the best popsicle I've ever had in my life.

Colm's birth was intense. Once it really started, it went quickly. There were a few times I didn't know if I would get through it. There wasn't time to relax between contractions. There was time to just catch my breath and get my bearings. But then, then, he was here; he was in my arms, not even crying so much as just looking. Karen asked me to see if he was a boy or a girl, and I heard Chad's whoop when I said he was a boy--a truly, genuinely elated Daddy.

He was calm in our arms when we relaxed together for the next few hours. We got to talk to Grace before she went to sleep. My mom sent a little video of Grace saying "Goodnight, my little brother," which turned me into a puddle. It still does.

We brought him home on a stormy morning, in sheets of rain. He is a squeaker. He's noisy and sweet. His cheeks beg to be kissed. He makes a ruffley sound that sounds like chuckling. His hands are my hands. His head is Chad's head. He is so loved. His sister has not an ounce of jealousy--she just wants to take care of him. Chad wants to constantly cuddle him. He's growing so, so fast. He's already a month ahead of his big sister in size.

It feels like the beginning of an incredible adventure. I have absolutely no idea what is on the next page but that doesn't matter. What matters is what--who--is in my arms.

Welcome, Colm. You have made us complete.

Colm Robert Cotter
December 7, 2014
7 lbs 11 oz
21 inches

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Cookie is Crumbling

I have a three year old piece of starlight. See?

Russell Orchards, 2014

She is the absolute center of my everything and Chad's everything. But since she has turned three, life has changed. She has changed; she has become independent and opinionated and completely illogical in a way that the previous three years did not foreshadow. She can literally be unbelievably charming and laughing one minute, and the next minute have thrown herself on the floor in a heap of despair because I told her I don't want to eat the red pepper she dipped in ketchup "just for me."

Apparently this is normal....? I'm not even sure what normal means anymore BUT I see that she is struggling through wanting to be a grown up kid and making her parents let go and choosing her battles in her own way. I get that. But it still blows.

It really does. Especially with a giant belly. And especially while my house is torn apart in preparation for a new bedroom, a new baby, and new bathroom for mommy and daddy (there will be a lock on the door). There is dust and filth everywhere. Oh, and that job and that extended family and those friends...all of them, too.

Oxymoron? These are all amazing, exciting, ridiculously stressful things.

There was one morning last week when getting out the door was particularly awful. It was primarily because Grace's cereal was wet from milk and not dry, like she wanted. I was swallowing comments about kids who don't have food AT ALL. And I was stifling the urge to simultaneously gather Grace up like the frustrated kid she was, rock her in my lap, promise her anything she wanted for the rest of her life and just walk out, shut the door, and go to the movies. Like 3 of them in a row.

Instead, I managed to get her in the car and drive about 6 blocks listening to the same "I want dry special cereal mommy" sentence about 46857 times in that 6 blocks. And then I pulled over and cried. It was 7:36am.

I wish I could say that my crying made Grace stop crying. It didn't.
But it helped me feel normal again--get back to center, somewhat.

Later that day I saw this blog, and I cried again. Hours before, I felt like a sham of a parent, like there was absolutely no way I could handle one of these sensitive, growing, amazing, passionate creatures, much less two of them. But after reading Lisa Sadikman's take on the situation I knew it would, eventually, be okay.

At least, until the next time it's not okay.
And that's okay, too.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I've been thinking a lot this year about regrets.

"I wish..."
"I never should have..."
"Why did I..."
Those are the words that my conscious whispers in my ear. Many different ways of saying: You were wrong. And you're regretting it.

Then I start to fall down that hole that looks like crazy Spongebob eyes, wondering if I really was wrong, and what if, and could I just...?

An example.

I took a new job about 10 months ago. It was a huge decision. I had eczema over it. I wore glasses of eczema for weeks, had heart palpitations, cried almost every day. This was not an easy decision. This was an excruciating decision. This was the first life change I made that was more for my family than it was for me.

And that's a big deal. Because that, in my head, then became another multi-layered study about motherhood and womanhood and how, when you don't have babies when you're 18 or 21 and you give yourself time to create a life for yourself before you have kids, you are then, once you do have kids, walking into your soul's pantry and putting smooth and glittery things back on the shelf for later while you try newer, probably stickier, things that come in smaller jars. And how that is a privilege that our grandmothers and mothers and aunts and fathers worked to give us, but that doesn't mean that it's easy. It just means that it presents a whole lot more choices and decisions to make. Which we should feel lucky to have. Right? (Madeira girls, we took this class senior year but it meant such different things to me, back then.)


So. I made a decision that was the right decision for my family and for myself. Before I made that decision the pro and con list made sense. And when I made that decision, I felt like a different person. The stress poured away.  I shed what I realized was literally stress weight. I had time to be with my daughter, to comprehend life without literally running from daycare to train to subway to car to building to meeting and back again. I can turn work off on the weekends, because it's just work. We could consider having another child. And we are. It was and it is everything that I needed.

But I wish I could tell you the number of times that I have since second-guessed this decision. In many, many ways I am working harder than I was before. I am so exhausted from the chaos of newness. I miss my friends, most of all--the faces I saw every day. I still wish I could see them every day. I miss caring about what I do. I miss the motivation that comes from truly loving your work and knowing that making a client call can actually lead to creating a product that makes a difference. There are so, so many people who don't need to love their job--they appreciate the benefits of simply having a job. I am not one of those people.

This is what I think about.
I sit and in about 3.5 minutes I go over all of this in my head.
And here's the thing. What I always come to is that I do NOT regret. I know I made the right decision. I know that the last 10 months have brought incredible graces and knowledge and perspective and gifts. At the very least it has brought appreciation for what I used to have in a job, what I currently have in a job, and the fact that I can have a family (grow my family!) and also have a job at all.

Sometimes the right decision isn't the happiest decision. Sometimes it means prioritizing what is important at that exact time and leaving the doors open for new decisions down the road.

My job isn't the only time I've had to do this--years ago I said goodbye to a deep friendship, hoping it was temporary. I still hope that it is temporary, and I still shed tears over it. But I don't regret it because at the time I needed, once again, to put my family and myself first.

I hope by not closing these doors, even by keeping them cracked open a bit, someday the breeze will come in and bring something new through something old. And I certainly won't regret that, either.

Rooms by the Sea. Edward Hopper.