Customized

I’ve gotten into a bad habit or two. It happens.

My first-thing-in-the-morning habit involves having a large mug of tea and a bowl of hot oatmeal for breakfast. This one is a good habit. I get healthy and happy right off the bat.

The problem lies in the fact that I prefer sleeping until 8am but must be dashing out of the house by 7:45am to take youngest child to school, and I’ve sadly gotten lax about prioritizing these numbers.

Okay fine, I’ve gotten lax about every last thing to do with youngest child…when other moms followed their prodigy around the kindergarten classroom with a videocamera, I pulled up to the curb, tossed him out with a snack and said, “Good luck with that, kid!”

However, in a vague effort to be a good mom, I try to synchronize his arrival with that of his peers.

Most mornings, I can get dressed and in the car on time.

But I am holding a full mug of tea (travel cups are for sissies) and my co-pilot is holding my bowl of oatmeal while I navigate turns and hills at top speed.

If I take a drink at every red light (and there are plenty because the Red Light Gargoyles know that I might be running on time, and we can’t have that) then I have an empty mug that I can put down, take my oatmeal from youngest child, and let him out at the curb. With his snack.

Now I have a cold bowl of mush, but because I’m not here to waste food or time, I eat it methodically at all the red lights back towards home.

The kids have all seen me do this.

They are horrified.

I’ve tried to convince them it’s delicious. Why, it’s the same as eating warm(ish) oatmeal cookies soft from the oven and dipped in milk.

But they see me carve a lump of oatmeal out of the bowl and they’re not buying it.

So I want to know.

Why can’t they customize a car with a few obvious comforts?

Cars are already equipped with hair dryers. You can blast your damp locks with the heater vents as you zoom down the highway.

You can apply makeup on the way to a date using the rearview mirror. A handy sleeve of pockets attaches to the sunshade and holds your brushes and creams.

How hard could it be to install a toaster vent just above the CD portal?

PopTarts are a basic food group and so portable, it’s a natural next step, engineer guys.

Cigarette lighters are a waste in California, but with just a small modification, they would be a great curling iron at a red light.

Of course, I realize that holding anything besides the steering wheel is a terrible idea.

Naturally, I am only thinking of my passengers’ comfort.

But nobody like a grumpy driver.

So why don’t we install something like a Camelback around the top of my seat with a hands-free sipper handy for my drink?

I mean, think about this, mechanically minded people.

You drive through Starbucks and pump your headrest full of iced cinnamon dolce latte.

It’s 2015, Year of the Hover Craft.

Yeah, I don’t see that one yet.

So I’m willing to settle.

Evolution of the Camping Trip

Once again, my teens are off on a camping weekend with the youth group and I’ve opted out.

I spent a couple hours tonight, staring at myself in the mirror, attempting to shame myself into a better, younger, sturdier version of me but the minute I laid down on my own bed, it was over.

*sigh*

The last time I tented with them, we had a squadron of skunks patrol the area all night.

It’s a desperate moment when you have to choose between needing a toilet at 2am and deciding if there’s a way to unzip a tent without sending skunks into red alert firing position.

But there’s more than one way to pitch a tent.

I myself would pitch it over a cliff and be done with it.

So let me start at the beginning.

When Hubby and I married, camping equipment was high on our registry list.

Fishing gear was also a coveted wedding gift. Fine china and crystal goblets, no. His n Hers graphite poles and a Coleman stove, yes.

We love to be outdoors, hiking and exploring and fishing, but it’s hard to remember we would cheerfully sleep on rocks.

When the deep REM cycles break around 2am, you roll over so your other side can bruise, too. If you’re going to wake up a cripple; you may as well be balanced.

It’s a little trickier when you discover that your tent sits on an incline. You wake up at 2am with the mother of all head-rushes.

After a couple of kids join you in the tent, it gets real cozy. Most of your gear has to stay in the car so your sleeping bags will fit in the tent.

After a couple of barfing incidents at 2am, all the people need to fit back into the car as well.

You re-think the tent, and you’re also a bit weary of 2am.

The next phase involves an army tent so large Ringling Brothers could use it. It takes a couple of hours to put together but once it’s up, you can really spread out. Unfortunately, spreading out involves tracking in mud, sand, natural treasures, and S’mores goo that attaches the sleeping bags to the tent walls.

You’d think an ‘indoor’ water balloon fight would be the answer.

No. But thank you for trying to be helpful.

It’s stupid when you end up cleaning the behemoth like it was your house.

Isn’t it nice to ‘get away from it all’?

No one will keep the screens zipped properly.

The mosquitos are grateful.

They throw a party on your face at 2am.

Enter Phase Three: the tent trailer. Ours had only one purpose: elevate us from the ground.

It had no bathroom; we never used the little sink or stove or table. It configured into enough beds for seven large people and kept the bugs, the rocks, and the dirty laundry outside.

Not the campfire smoke, though.

Fun Fact: the wind can blow campfire smoke into your tent any time it wants to.

And you are stuck with it because once the trailer is in place, there’s no shifting it.

Like most of our things, it was no match in the end for a family resisting containment. We sold it just before it came apart at the seams to a young couple who had a large dog and wanted to camp every weekend in the desert.

Power to ‘em.

My idea of a fun campout is sending everyone out the door with their gear and heading to the kitchen for S’more tea.

I’m a good sport, but the only thing I want to do at 2am is hibernate.

There’s no place like home.

So here I am.

Don’t Make Me Come Back There!

We were all finally old enough!

Old enough to ditch car seats and strollers. Old enough to have manners in a motel parking lot while dad negotiates the bed count. Old enough to set up tents. Old enough to know before we’re going to throw up, that we are.

Old enough to know not to make rude faces as we creep past cops in a small town speed trap.

This time I planned ahead.

I was prepared enough for a NASA space launch.

We had a small TV and VHS player with new movies next to it. We had all the right snacks and a handful of traveling games. Some kids had cameras. Others were going to keep a journal.

I had packed each kid a secret box. Each contained things that I normally wouldn’t allow in the house, let alone the car, but we were finally old enough.

Dry erase markers for playing tic tac toe and drawing on the windows.

Candy. Tiny bottles of bubbles. Flavored Chapstick. Balloons. Silly Putty. Dollar store goofiness.

But I wasn’t just born a parent yesterday.

I, myself, was finally old enough to know that road trips with kids are a risky business and like playing Double Dutch, timing is everything.

I had the secret weapon all ready in the front dash.

At mile 50, the donuts and hand wipes were dispensed.

At mile 100, the secret boxes and more hand wipes came out.

At mile 150, I turned around to address the masses who were just on the edge of “now what?”.

I fanned a pile of cash between us and stared them down.

Silence was immediate.

“Kids,” I began calmly, as Hubby maneuvered through big city freeways, “this is your vacation cash. I’m holding ones, fives, tens, and some twenties. Watch carefully.”

I handed each kid a five.

“That’s for paying attention. Well done. Every time I catch you guys behaving and helping us have a good time, I hand you money. Spend it on whatever you want.”

This was such a big hit. I made sure each kid ended up with the same amount in the end, and made sure to hand plenty out on the first couple of days, to get the attitudes and the planets aligned.

For kids who didn’t even get allowances, this was pretty great.

We could have given it to them before the trip, and they would have put it into pockets and not thought much about it.

This made a game of it, had them earn it, made them appreciate it, and kept entitlement at bay.

It’s never again been that easy to get cash out of the mom ATM.

Because now, doggone it, they’re finally old enough…to get jobs.

 

Road Trippin’

Summer is almost here and the freedom of the open road calls louder each day.

I can drown it out with my lawnmower for only so long and then it’s time for a family vacay.

If you’re like me, the week leading up to a road trip is full of panicky planning and packing, culminating the night before we leave, when I won’t sleep anyway from nerves.

Because I’m pretty sure I forgot something. Major.

Which means I begin our trip already exhausted.

Day One of the road trip begins just as dawn cracks and includes a great many last minute scuffles and false starts before take-off.

The first couple of hours include negotiating music selections, re-organizing personal items, watching the sunrise, and eating the first of far too many disgusting road trip breakfasts.

If Hubby is Pilot, we have it packed so as not to waste valuable road time in a drive through. Beverages are discouraged to keep bathroom stops to a minimum.

This is important to note.

This means NO CAFFEINE was administered to anyone in the car.

Day One is a marathon.

Day One is dedicated to getting as far down the road as possible before stopping. Day One assumes anything within driving distance is already familiar and therefore not worthy for the title “Travel Destination”. Day Two may have something to offer, but Day One is all about sitting in cramped quarters trying to distract yourself through long, straight, uninterrupted stretches of wasteland.

Downtown LA qualifies.

If Texas is between you and your destiny, you know how it feels to be a Road Zombie. If you have driven through the state of California…horizontally…you’ve been a Road Zombie. If you’ve driven past so many crops that you can identify them by smell with the window up, you have been a Road Zombie.

Your eyes get heavy. Your hands no longer feel the wheel. Your butt is numb and your leg wants to cramp if you wiggle your toes. Your left arm is sunburned because, naturally, your road trip has the car turned with the sun in your window. You’re squinting because a million dead bugs blanket the windshield, and once the afternoon rain hits, your wipers turn it into a rich soup that will take a few miles to eliminate, which is barely in time for you to dodge yet another big rig lumbering along ahead of you.

These truck drivers are always happy. You pass them and they seem to say, from their giant seats in the sky, “I have a mini-bar and a bathroom in my truck! I have absolutely no passengers so I can blast ANY music I want from my radio. I can see the speed traps way ahead of time. I can choose my own pace because I am the BIGGEST thing out here on 16 wheels baby. Texas? Big deal. I’m going from Sacramento to New Orleans. Now get outta my way before I blast the air horn.”

And we do.

Once in a while I get startled awake by a motorcycle brigade passing by.

I’ve kept my eyes on the horizon for five hours straight, not once looking in the rearview mirror because I will not only see my kid stuffing a Lego into another kids’ ear, but where I’ve already been.

See it once, shame on them. See it twice, shame on me.

Motorcycles move in a school, like fish. They drive on any part of the road they please, including the shoulder, the center divide line, and your bumpers.

One minute you’re driving along, day-dreaming about the next Motel 6, and suddenly you’re surrounded. Don’t panic. Don’t make any sudden steering maneuvers. They will part fluidly, pass you on all sides and move on down the road, braids flying from under helmets, boots thrust forward in the barcalounger position, much too cool to acknowledge you.

They will get to the Motel 6 first.

Maybe they don’t carry kids and legos, but they have more body parts going numb than I do.

So they’re in a hurry.

Day One ends with a personal vow as I stagger into an uncharted town in the middle of nowhere, face haggard, hair blown into dreadlocks, and a ghastly gleam in my eye.

“Apocalypse happening…first thing in the morning…if they don’t have coffee!”

Soulstice

When I was in high school, a girlfriend told me I had an “old soul”. This was super exciting for me because she was also the one who thought my aura “might be pink”.

Close…but everybody knows if I’ve got an aura, mine’s green. Hellloo.

It will come as no surprise to you that I spent girl time back then the same way you did, getting together with friends trying to make sense of life in general and boys in specific. Occasionally our families threw us a curve ball and we went straight to our peers for the answers.

This was actual face time, people. Not Facebook.

We earned our friendships the hard way.

I was the friend who dispensed answers. The rock in the middle of the emotional storms. The listener-to-delimmas and leaned-upon-of-shoulders. I discoursed on everything from religion to school politics. I passed around advice like Little Miss Know-It-All.

It’s no surprise to me that as years passed, my knowledge shrank.

After all, as life progresses, the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.

Often what passed for knowledge turned out to be opinions wielded with almighty conviction and surprisingly, it’s harder to tell the difference than one might think.

But if my soul was already elderly and wise, what happened since?

Many years and a handful of kids later, I am handing out the exact same advice to my teenagers.

Only this time around, they are staring at me like I’m from Mars.

I had a frantic, emotional daughter pleading her case before me and upon realizing that, sadly, my answer was still “no”, she announced in no uncertain terms: “Mom, you have no soul!”

Off she stormed to her room, the end of the world absolute.

I pondered the idea. What was actually ending was the remnants of her childhood, making way for the understanding of adulthood. I can relate. But I can’t recant my position on our argument.

And I suppose it’s only natural that my super old soul has, somewhere along in the trenches, died.

I gave it a good hard run for the money.

Certainly there are many opportunities for pity parties during child-rearing that you don’t have the luxury of indulging. At some point you pull up your big girl panties and put dinner on the table anyway. No advice needed.

You just keep swimming.

I remind my daughter of her statement once in a while and she smiles.

She says she hands out my lectures on occasion to friends who need to hear it.

They think she’s Socrates.

Meanwhile, I have discovered that going without a soul is very convenient.

Any time I have to say “no” to a whiny, demanding, entitled or irrational child, I look them straight in the eye and say, “My dear, I love you very much, but I have no soul, just ask your sister. Discussion closed.”

Maternal Opus

Mothers are the stuff of legend.

They teach you to reach for the stars, but they reside in your heart.

Since she’s in there already, all you had to do was whisper ‘love you, mom’ this weekend.

Yeah, she heard you.

On Sunday, I received a necklace with a charm that is recycled from an antique typewriter. It’s the letter “J” on a slightly concave black key.

It delights me.

It represents all the words that I’ve ever written, and particularly every time I’ve signed my name to them. It’s something, to know a unique combination of the alphabet can be claimed.

Like naming a star. Humble in the grand scheme of things yet totally feasible.

I have been a writer all my life.

I wrote plays complete with staging directions in elementary school. I enthusiastically took a typing class in middle school, where I regularly won prizes for both reading and writing.

My family moved just as high school began and I spent a year writing long and witty letters to my friends left behind while trying to find new ones in a new town. When I found them, I wrote them some of my favorite things.

One of them was a short murder mystery ‘novella’ that included each one of them as a character. Once you have met my friends, you will understand that each of my characters was not only rich in exaggeration but full of self-truths about each and involved situations that they would have loved to have acted out in reality.

I let them choose certain plot twists as I wrote, a bit like ‘Mad Libs’ on a larger scale.

The ‘book’ was quite popular for its little moment of fame.

It’s probably sitting around here somewhere in a box.

I was the copy writer for our senior yearbook, excellent interviews and bad poetry included.

The summer after graduation I enrolled in the local community college, where I had written and won a small scholarship.

My boyfriend bought me a shiny new Brother typewriter with all the bells and whistles for my birthday. He really knew how to get to this girl’s heart.

And also wanted her to type up all of his college English papers.

The man was both romantic and clever. How could I not marry him?

Years went by surrounded with kids and chaos, yet my laptop and I managed at some point to re-write an entire PTA music program and write and win a grant to fund it.

Thank you, kids, for inspiring me to keep writing.

All mothers are storytellers.

The passers-on of family lore and namers-of-stars.

You, by far, are her brightest.

The Hospital Hostage

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

It’s never truer than when you land in the hospital.

Some come in and leave with a baby.

Some come in and leave without random body parts; like gall bladders.

Some come in and leave with additional body parts; like pacemakers.

Some come in and leave with someone else’s body parts; like kidney transplants.

But no matter what, you will never leave with the same amount of blood you walked in with.

It’s the law. You have to pay tithes and the currency is red-hot pumpin’ vampire juice.

I came to visit my girlfriend in Room 694 of the swanky new eleven story hospital. It has the best views in town and boasts a garden on every floor, including full size trees.

Already I was worried about root damage in the walls where tubes and wires were connecting her body to vital fluids and chemical cures.

She had been fainting and ill in the night and called for an ambulance to escort her to the emergency room.

“If you just walk in, the waiting room is overflowing. If an ambulance takes you, you get a room quick,” she informed me, “and besides, the cute young EMTs just pick you up and whisk you away.” This, with a sly smile.

She was poking her way cautiously around in a bowl of tortilla soup. The first bowl of soup she ordered from the hospital kitchen menu was the cream of broccoli which turned out to be a complete disappointment. “Nothing like Panera,” she mourned, “I called the kitchen and had to order something else. I don’t understand. Breakfast was so nice.”

“It’s hard to mess up a fruit cup.”

“This looks hopeful,” she said, and dumped the container of chips into her soup.

Just then, a large apologetic man peeked around the curtain.

“Yoohoo,” he said softly, “Your doctor has ordered some blood work STAT and I’m here to collect.”

She held out an arm while sipping with the other.

I had to look away because only a fool will watch a vampire at work.

After a few moments of quiet, I dared to look over at her face, and it was pinched with pain.

“Does it hurt?” I asked.

She shook her head and gave a mighty burp.

“Oh, excuse me,” she said, and put down the spoon.

“Thank you,” said the vampire, rolling away his cart full gallons of blood in tiny tubes.

They must do shots in the break room when no one’s looking.

She settled back onto the pillows and closed her eyes.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yes,” she said, sitting up to the soup again, “It just wears you right out, having a draw while you want to eat and have to pee, all at the same time.”

I raised my eyebrows at her.

“Well, I’ve got a diaper. When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go.”

A perky petite young lady walked into the room.

“Hello! I’m the doctor at large today. How are you feeling?”

“Fine, except for being so weak.”

“Initial tests indicate you’re blood pressure is spiking and dropping randomly. The blood work shows you have anemia.”

“No kidding. You just had it all sucked out.”

“I’ve ordered up two EKGs and an MRI. Your records show you were here recently for this same issue, and we’re getting to the bottom of it. Get comfortable, you’ll be staying a while.”

The doctor left, and I watched three more spoons-full of soup go down before a young man barreled in.

He had a complete EKG sonogram on wheels and proceeded to hook her up to the video monitor.

I settled in to watch the show, wishing he’d brought popcorn and Twizzlers.

Fascinating.

It was like looking for a baby but finding a beating heart. Instead of finger and toes, you could see valves, chambers, moving blood. I realized I was breathing right along with her as he said, “Breathe in, now hold it. Okay, breathe out…slowly…hold it! Good.”

From the way she was ogling the tech, I imagine her blood pressure was going up again.

As he finally rolled off into the sunset, we discovered that the soup had taken a turn for the worse. It was stone cold.

My girlfriend gave a sigh. “They keep telling me to eat. How am I supposed to do that?”

A nurse walked in.

“The doctor has ordered an endoscopy for you tomorrow,” he said, “That’s a tube with a camera, a flashlight, and a laser on the end of it. We send it down your throat to your stomach and have a look around. Just want to make sure you’re not bleeding internally somewhere.”

I looked at her.

“Keep your mouth shut!” I suggested.

“They’ll just put it somewhere worse!” she pointed out.

The nurse walked out but was replaced by two interns. They had a walker and a fat black strap.

I got ready to pull some defensive judo moves. This was getting out of hand.

They rolled up to the side of her bed and explained that it was time to freshen up and walk the hall. They didn’t want to take the chance of her fainting on them.

As they tossed around sheets, gowns and body parts, I covered my eyes with the end of my scarf.

She laughed as her black belt went on. “What are you doing?”

“Preserving your dignity.”

Really, was I was the only one left in the building attempting that?

“I’ve got to go,” I said, “but I’ll meet with the warden and try to negotiate your release.”

“Hard to believe I get all this plus room service, just because I fell down in the middle of the night.”

“If only fainting spells were still elegant. I’ll have to write about this in my blog, you know.”

“Hey, what happens in the hospital, stays in the hospital.”

Right.

 

Herb-A-Vore

We were sitting at the Cheesecake Factory celebrating a girlfriend’s birthday.

The usual girly gifts were handed over and, of course (insert eye roll), mine had to be different.

I got her a Little Stripper.

Not candles or lotion or earrings. Something practical.

Something that will encourage her to get her groove on.

Her gardening groove, that is.

She’d asked me recently about putting her spring garden together and I certainly want to support all things green and beguiling. The Stripper is for harvesting tiny leaves off herbs for her meal.

It will definitely up her game in the kitchen when she takes food from garden to table. There is absolutely nothing sweeter than a home-grown tomato except maybe a home-grown ear of corn. I think she was starting with squash and melons, but if she wants the fastest, easiest bang for her buck, herbs are the clear winners.

I keep fat garden pots on the front porch and my two favorites are finally sprouting up in them.

Crisp fresh basil is a salad to itself. Layer slices of creamy mozzarella, juicy garden tomatoes, and whole basil leaves on a platter and drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

This is the flavor of long lazy sunshine days and hot nights full of fireworks.

If there’s pasta of any kind on the table, toss fresh basil at it.

The basic diet of beans, rice and tortillas sings to my childhood heart. I prefer my Mexican food freshened up instead of heated with jalepenos, so I take a pair of scissors to a fistful of cilantro and sprinkle over all possible combinations of Mex meals.

I would add a lime wedge too, but you’ll have to take it out of the beer bottle.

Not many things are sadder than girlfriends who ended up moving north, east, or across the globe, where Mexican food is a dim memory found in the back of grocery store freezers.

Sometimes, I’ll send a photo of a plate of fish tacos or maybe chile rellenos to a girlfriend in food exile.

Just trying to be friendly.

I put in two rosemary plants because I use it every other week on chicken, but the poor things don’t get enough sunshine. When I have time, I’m going to plant cuttings in the ‘badlands’ of our backyard. Rosemary can become a mighty hedge if you abuse it with hot sun and scant water.

The lemon thyme stays pretty constant. That gets thrown on chicken, too, with lemon pepper and garlic powder. And a couple of lemon slices from our lemon tree if I get real fancy about it.

The mint pot holds both peppermint and spearmint. I routinely rip the stuff out and throw it away, so it knows it’s loved. It will take over the universe if it escapes the pot and we both know it. I don’t currently use the mint for anything but a room freshener, but this summer I can garnish your lemonade, juleps, and iced tea with it.

I added two new herbs this year: lemon verbena and tarragon.

I have no idea what to do with them but they seem happy enough to join the party.

Don’t let your meals go topless. Grow herbs and use them lavishly.

Your rambunctious guests will appreciate the shameless seductive smells luring them into the dining room.

Happy birthday, girlfriend.

You’re welcome.

5 Things to Learn While You’re Pregnant and Use the Rest of Your Life

I had five kids the hard way, and I’ve been La Maze breathing ever since.

Every once in a while I look around for an epidural.

Hey, there’s no extra credit for suffering.

That’s one of the latest mommy things I’ve learned.

For example, ideally you should be nursing your little pumpkin for a solid first year, but when weaning is moving along and the horrors of mastitis set in, subbing a bottle of formula is not going to compromise his future football career.

It’s not, no matter what the little pumpkin insists otherwise.

So let’s get some things on the table right now and realize it’s never too late to stop being a mommy martyr.

1.   Vitamins. Those nasty horse pills that make you constipated just looking at the bottle. You take them for your baby and the minute he’s out you toss those vitamins. Don’t. You need those for the rest of your life. Maybe reducing to a lighter version will help those “side effects” but you will not be eating right for a couple of frantic years followed by years where everything edible for miles is eaten by your kid. You will be reduced to sharing the applesauce baby food jars. Do you want to be able to walk in a straight line? Take your vitamins.

2. Stretchy Pants. Keep em. I know you are as big as a house and sometimes you walk into your closet and fondle the cute little ‘wild thing’ wardrobe that got you into this situation in the first place. You look into the mirror and promise yourself that the minute this little parasite exits the building, you aren’t ever going to be seen in these rotten maternity clothes again. Ha. Yes. Yes, you are. Because not only does your pregnant body take it’s sweet time deflating but you will be barfed on, pooped on, peed on and bled on. You do not want baby’s precious bodily fluids ruining anything but the clothes you already loathe.

3.   That Birth Plan. Yeah, remember when you were taking birthing classes and hospital tours and shopping for pediatricians? You have a cute little paper that you filled out stating all of your wishes while in labor and delivery. Then you go into labor, the hospital staff “files” your paper, and after 24 hours of screaming, you get your C section. Frame that ‘Plan’. You need to remember over the next twenty years (okay, much longer) that this is the new norm.

4.   Perfectionism sucks. So will your house. Enjoy the view at the moment, while your bun is still in the oven. The seven pound cinna-bun already has her own room, freshly decorated with new paint, new crib and bedding, adorable bric-a-brac, a closet of clothes with accessories, and a battalion of strollers, carseats, bassinet, swing, highchair, diaper bags, changing table, bathtub, potty seat, cutlery and “entertainment”. Organize it all. Find spots that seem logical and color coordinated. Take a photo. Now imagine every single item rearranged, filthy, and possibly hanging from the ceiling fan a month from now. None of this was needed, except the carseat, because all the cinna-bun wants to do is remain attached to your body forever. Your only respite is to strap baby bun into the car and go for a long drive involving the 24 hour drive-through Starbucks. You didn’t even need the house.

5.   La Maze is for life. Breathe with me here. Iiiiinnnn…..hold it…..ooooouuutttt. Good. Every time a life contraction hits, remember your training. Sit down or lean against the wall, close your eyes and count your breath until the pain passes. Your baby may come out of your body but your body will still hurt every time your child has a growing pain. Remember, it’s a natural process. You need to release and roll with the pain; if you tense up and fight it, you will hurt more than you need to. It’s a good pain, a hard working, sweaty and worthy pain. And just when you think you can’t take it one more time, your child shows up with a new lease on life. Maybe a little messy, but you made it through. Well done.

Yes, I know.

That dazzling little creature smiling at you makes it all worth while.

Which just goes to show how you’ve really lost your mind.

You may as well get used to that, too.