I Know Why We’re So Tired (an admittedly First World problem post)

 

woman working girl sitting
Photo by Alexander Dummer on Pexels.com

At the end of a very long bout of sleeplessness due to a 3-year-old who went back in time to play the role of a 3-month-old (with an Oscar-worthy performance), I figured that I, too, would revert to being the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed person I thought I had been, before I became so sleep-deprived. Now, don’t get me wrong – sleeping through the night has been a game changer. However…I’m still tired. Why am I still so tired? Why, at 9:00pm, does my brain shut down? Is it mono? Is it old age? Anxiety? Stress? Am I dying? I’m dying, right?

It’s probably a combination of all of those things. But I think there’s something else at play, at least for me. Here’s an example of one thing that happens to me often, and one reason that I think I feel so depleted: I need to buy a birthday present for my son’s friend. I decide that an e-gift card to a sporty clothing store (let’s call is Ballerz) would be best. I go to the Ballerz website and begin ordering the card. Because I don’t know the boy’s mom’s email address that I want the card sent to, I have to go to our school’s website to look it up in the directory. I enter my username and password to access the directory and, with the mom’s email address in tow (repeating it over and over so I don’t forget it as I switch back to the Ballerz site), I continue entering lots of info. When it comes time to enter the dollar amount I want to spend, I discover that the dollar amount I had in mind is not an option on this site, and there’s no ability to customize the amount. Frustrated, I now have to start this process all over again on a different website.

While this whole process is taking place, I am in a taxi with two children who both desperately want my attention and desperately do not want the other child to have my attention. And the driver of the taxi is having a very animated discussion on the phone in a language I can’t understand which drives me CRAZY because if you’re going to endanger all of us by speaking on the phone while driving, then dammit let me in on the gossip!

You may be wondering why I don’t just put my phone away and order the gift card later when there’s less noise. BECAUSE WHEN YOU HAVE CHILDREN, THERE IS NO LATER WITH LESS NOISE. Also, if I don’t order this gift card right now, I’m going to have to leave this action item on my to do list, and I’m itching to be able to delete JUST ONE SINGLE ITEM, please GOD, and I just CANNOT wait one more instant.

So I go to the other sports website — let’s call it Hoops. I begin to fill in all the relevant info on that site, but when it comes time to pay, I can’t remember my password to autofill all of the billing info. So Hoops sends me an email with a link to reset my password. I reset my password, but then I have to put a reminder in my phone to update the Hoops password on my master password list. And then…when I try to fill out the birthday note on the website (Dear Mike, Happy birthday! I’m looking forward to celebrating with you, and I’m so glad we’re friends! From, Sam), I keep getting an error message saying, “You can only use letters, numbers, commas, periods, and exclamation points in your message.” I re-read the card 47 times. What am I missing? Oh, the apostrophes. Got it. I change the card to “I am looking forward” and I delete the part about being friends (because whatev) and now my kid sounds like a robot but oh well. AND GUESS WHAT? I get the same error message. Have I forgotten what a comma is? Shit, am I illiterate now? I guess that’s possible. I mean, I do watch a lot of tv. Now I have to make an appointment with a neurologist. Put that on the to do list (number 143 – seriously). I go back to the card. I delete everything I’ve written and try just “Happy birthday.” thinking it won’t go through, but then it does, and jeeeeeeeez now I’m stuck with that less than enthusiastic sentiment as the birthday card and is the mom going to think my kid doesn’t really mean it because there’s no exclamation point? And is she even going to know who the gift is from? FUCK IT.  I’ll just send her an email later explaining the whole thing. I add that reminder to my to do list. Number 144.

Who’s ready for a nap? Or a break? Or a reset at a beautiful spa where you can only eat alfalfa (took me many tries to spell that, FYI) and avocado, seasoned with the salty tears of a baby, Nepalese billy goat? I’ll meet you there. Just as soon as I get through my to do list.

 

Being a Mom

 

Happy Mother`s Day gift.

Being a mom means constantly comparing your kid to Brenda’s kid, who was a master cellist at age 3, a composer at age 4, and a conductor of the Boston Symphony Orchestra at age 5, all while on a strict macrobiotic diet of brown rice, beans, and sea vegetables. You should stop comparing your kid to Brenda’s kid, mostly because Brenda is full of shit. But you can’t.

Being a mom is the hardest job in the world because no matter how many hats you wear (nurse, therapist, tutor, chauffeur, mentor, and personal assistant, to name a few) and no matter how much you do for your little people, nobody fully understands the sacrifices you’re making or the work you’re putting in. There is no salary, no raise, no promotion, no medal, and no party. No one will ever truly appreciate you, even if they say they do. Because they don’t understand the emotional work that goes into being a mom. The fear you feel when you don’t know exactly where your children are at this exact moment. The fear you feel about what their futures hold, and what type of people they will become, and whether or not you did a good enough job. Because that’s all we can hope for, really. To be good enough. But are we?

Being a mom is the most gratifying job in the world because, no matter what’s going on in the rest of your life, there are wee creatures who depend on you and who make you relevant. Even if it’s stressful and frightening to loom that large in someone’s life…even if it sometimes feels like a burden to be depended on because it means that your needs have to come last…it still means that you matter. And there’s almost nothing that feels as good as mattering to someone.

Being a mom means having to listen to your child play the recorder, squeakily, for hours on end, and pretend that not only have your ears not been violated, but that you love the sounds they’re making and that you’re so proud of them for trying. Because we’re supposed to laud the attempt over the result. But, perhaps, with respect to the recorder, a little less trying would be nice.

Being a mom is heartbreaking because the people you love most in the world, the people for whom you would both instinctively and intentionally throw down your body in front of a bus to protect, find you annoying when you try to express your love for them in public. And often in private, too. Those kids, whose lives you would save without hesitating, find your very existence to be embarrassing, while their very existence makes you grateful to wake up each morning, and gives your life purpose and structure.

Being a mom means that, every so often, unexpectedly, all of the moving parts of your family come together in just the right way, and you have a glorious evening together at home without bickering or negotiating.

Being a mom is like being on a rollercoaster: one minute you are exquisitely proud of your child’s intelligence, and the next minute that same child is asking if he needs to wash the banana before he peels it.

Being a mom makes you feel defeated because you can never win. You’re either too available or not available enough. Too strict or too lenient. Too funny or too serious. Too cranky or too cheerful. You’re accused of making weird faces in public, but that’s just what your face looks like. You have to endure your children’s endless mood swings, all the while knowing that you can’t take their behavior personally. But you take it personally anyway, and you have to keep smiling.

Being a mom means not jumping out of your seat at your son’s basketball game and pounding on the huge kid who intentionally and too aggressively fouled your son, even though you really really really really really want to.

Being a mom makes you feel helpless because, no matter how many conversations you have with your children about how you want them to behave, they are who they are and they behave the way they behave, and there’s very little you can do about it.

Being a mom means trying not to laugh at your kids when they do or say stupid things.

Being a mom is debilitating because every happy occasion is tinged with a shadow of dread, since you are one day closer to never seeing your children again.

Being a mom means forcing yourself to not appear disappointed when your child does poorly on a math test, when you know he could have done better.

Being a mom means knowing that the best way to embarrass your children is to dance in public.

Being a mom means having to choose which of your children to prioritize at a particular moment in time, which makes everyone angry and offended. Even the child you chose to prioritize is offended, for some inexplicable reason.

Being a mom means having to smile through tears when you put your children on the bus to sleep away camp, when what you really want to do is crumple in a heap on the sidewalk because you feel like your heart just got on the bus without you. You can’t cry because it will make them feel sad, you can’t write letters telling them how much you miss them, and you can’t bear to look at their empty bedrooms all summer.

Being a mom means knowing that, no matter what, your kids are going to grow up and blame you for their problems (because don’t you blame YOUR mom?), even if all of said problems can’t be traced back to you.

Being a mom means knowing that, best-case scenario, your kids will grow up and leave you.

Being a mom means finally understanding how truly exhausted your mom was on that night in 1995 when she stayed up with you until 3am while you finished your physiology research paper. It means finally understanding why your parents were always still awake when you came home from a party. It means finally understanding how many pizza crusts your parents ate over the course of your childhood.

Being a mom means going to sleep before your oldest child and hoping that he doesn’t feel abandoned.

It means that on a Monday, your heart might swell to 1,000 times its original size when your son tells you that he loves your delicious chicken and that you’re the best mom ever, and that on Tuesday your heart might shatter into 1,000 pieces when that same child screams I HATE YOU!

It means listening to yet another story about a mean teacher, when what you really want to be doing is watching The Real Housewives.

It means loving your children even when they make bad decisions.

It means being constantly unsure if you are making any good parenting decisions at all.

It means saying sorry when you’re wrong. And you will be wrong.

It means having to be a role model 24/7, which is really fucking exhausting.

Being a mom means not knowing where you end and your children begin. Sometimes that’s a wonderful feeling, and sometimes it’s terrifying.

These kids…we would die for them, but sometimes it feels like we will die from them. We gesture at them with our heads and say, “They will be the death of me.” But, in fact, they will be the life of you. These kids turned your life right side up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Co-Op Letter of Reference

Board of Directors

7 Astor Court

New York, NY 10021

 

To whom it may concern,

I am delighted to offer my full support of Felicity and Mortimer Trentcort’s application to purchase Apartment 47A in your Cooperative, the revered and respected, 7 Astor Court (10021, baby!).

Felicity and I have known each other since we were 5 years old. Even at such a young age, Felicity had a discernible palate for people, always knowing who would fit in well with our friend group (Yeardley – discreet), and who would not (Constance – fat). This talent has not only lasted throughout the years, it has become even more refined; in fact, those closest to Felicity now refer to her as Cersei. I am confident that once you get to know her, you will love her! Or else…

What can I tell you about Mortimer? When I first met Mortimer back in 2002, I was surprised that he was dressed as the Penguin from Batman; after all, it was July. But then I found out that that’s just what Mortimer looks like. Over the years, I have come to know Mortimer to be a kind, loyal, and generous man. And he loves children. LOVES. I daresay I’ve never seen anything like it. For example, he will only sit at the kids’ table at parties and, in his spare time, he can almost always be found playing in the park with balls.

Mortimer and Felicity both have close relationships with their families. In fact, Felicity and her brother, Niles, are rather inseparable. Lest you should get the wrong idea, I can assure you that they are not sleeping together (neither are Felicity and Mortimer, but you didn’t hear that from me).

Mortimer and Felicity’s children are three of the loveliest, most thoughtful creatures you’ve ever met. Just the other day, after Thurston sunk his teeth deep into my thigh, he wrote me the kindest apology note, and included a gift card for Botox. What other 6-year-old is that attuned to the needs of others? And the twin girls, Georgiana and Helvetica? Well, truthfully, I haven’t spent much time with them, as their baby nurse hasn’t left yet. How could she? The girls are only 3!

Friendships are of the utmost importance to Mortimer and Felicity, as evidenced by the fact that they will do whatever it takes to make their children popular. In their current apartment, they have built three basketball hoops, two soccer goals, and a movie theater with surround sound, and they have legions of children over every afternoon to play. Sometimes they even have age-appropriate live music to entertain the sweet young things. Recently it was Billie something or other. Eyelash? Eilish? Interestingly, this performer seemed to appeal to the adults as well, as the parents who came after work to collect their spawn ended up staying until midnight, drinking martinis and eating, well…martinis. The Trentcorts and their friends don’t eat food, of course. These days, who does?

In sum, Felicity and Mortimer are warm, unpretentious, and considerate individuals who will unquestionably contribute to your building. Please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions.

Warmly,

C. Elizabeth “Froundsly” Froundsworth

 

079086482-doctor-holding-hand-diarrhea

How to Prepare for Your Colonoscopy in 300 Easy Steps:

A Parody Based on an Actual Instruction Packet

Nothing contained herein constitutes medical advice. If you sue me, I will counter-sue you for imbecility. That’s a real crime. Or it should be.

 

A colonoscopy is an exam of your colon (large intestine). Your doctor will use a Colonoscope (ass camera) to see the inside of your colon on a video monitor. There will be a roomful of people watching. It’s like a sex tape for weird motherf*ckers.

Follow these prep instructions carefully. It is very important that your colon is empty for your colonoscopy. If there is stool inside your colon, your doctor will tell you that your prep was bad and that it was “kind of gross.” Then you’ll have to repeat the entire prep, which is akin to sitting through a 41-hour soccer tournament in the rain in November, in which your kid only plays one-half of one game, and then doing it all over again.

Arrange for someone to take you home

You must have someone 18 years or older take you home after your procedure. If you think your mom is going to show up, surprise, she’s not. She will send her housekeeper in her place. Luckily, your mom’s housekeeper is a lovely woman who will only ask 11 times if the doctors gave you Propofol during the procedure because, “That’s what killed Michael Jackson.”

The day before your procedure

  • Prepare your bowel preparation

On the morning of the day before your procedure, God created man. Wait, no, that’s not right. It’s: On the morning of the day before your procedure, mix all 238 grams of the heinous white powder (white death) we gave you with 64 ounces of a room temperature clear liquid until the white death dissolves. You may feel like you’re on an episode of Breaking Bad but, in reality, you’re on an episode of You’ve Got Family History. Once the white death is dissolved, you can put the mixture of death in the refrigerator. Many people find it tastes better chilled. So, instead of tasting like death, it tastes like chilled death.

  • Follow a clear liquid diet

You will need to follow a clear liquid diet the day before your procedure. Examples of clear liquids are listed below. It’s way worse than you think.

Don’t eat anything red, purple, or orange. Yes, that means you’ll have to get that putrid yellow sports beverage. Beverages shouldn’t be salty and sweet. That’s why God created Snickers.

Examples of clear liquids:

Soups: You may drink any soup you’d like. Psych! Just clear broth, bouillon, or consommé. You will know that it’s one of those because it will have no texture or flavor, and it will leave an oily residue on your tongue. It will also taste vaguely of the way dead animals smell. Every time you swallow, you will picture a carcass in the Serengeti with vultures circling.

Sweets: You may eat any sweets you’d like, as long as you won’t enjoy them. So, basically, Jell-O.

Drinks: You may drink any drinks you’d like, as long as they’re not satisfying. So, clear fruit juices, clear sodas, tea, black coffee, sports drinks, and water.

  • Note the time of your procedure

A staff member from the site where you’re having the procedure will call you after 11:00am the day before your procedure to tell you what time to arrive for your procedure. If you ever hear the word procedure after this day, you will have a PTSD episode. You will suggest that the staff member should just call it an ass exam instead of a procedure. He or she won’t laugh. Or maybe no one will call you with your arrival time at all, and you’ll have to call them to get the time of your ass exam, in addition to starving yourself to death and taking care of your children. Because why should anyone else do his or her own job.

  • Start your bowel preparation

Step 1: Take 2 laxative pills at 4:00 pm by mouth on the day before your procedure. We have to say “by mouth” because idiots abound.

Step 2: Drink the mixture of death

At 4:15 pm, drink one 8-ounce glass of the mixture. Repeat every 15 minutes for a total of four times over the course of one hour. As you drink the mixture, your entire body will convulse. Try not to vomit. If you vomit, you will have to start this whole medieval torture project over. Debate whether you should take anti-nausea medication, which is constipating (the opposite of the goal of this entire exercise). Debate whether you should take migraine medication, because you now have a migraine from dehydration caused by ingesting so much white death. What if you throw up the migraine medication? Can you take more? Make a mental note to hire a live-in doctor when this is all over. Which it might never be.

When you’ve finished drinking the four cups, save the rest of the mixture of death in the refrigerator for the second half of your prep. Surprise! There are eight cups total. Something to look forward to.

Over the course of the next 3-4 hours, your abdomen will expand and your body will emit strange noises that remind you of the time you poured Dran-o into your clogged sink. Lie down in a quiet place. Oh, you have kids? Hmmm…

Bowel movements (explosive, liquid diarrhea) usually begin within one hour of drinking the mixture of death.

Apply petroleum jelly to the skin around your anus after every bowel movement. This helps prevent irritation (just of the anus; there’s no way to prevent general life irritation). Try to say anus out loud without laughing.

Step 3:

At 11:00 pm, just after you’ve finally fallen asleep with an ice pack on your head and a barf bag next to your bed, wake up to take two more laxative tablets and drink the second half of the mixture of death. Rock back and forth on the toilet as your intestines continue to cramp, your stomach tries to eat itself, and things emerge from your body that are so disgusting, you might never eat again. Maybe this is the diet you’ve been waiting for your whole life? FYI: not worth it. Stay up until 3:00 am, shitting yourself. Weigh yourself, because what else can you do at this hour? You’ve lost 3 pounds! Fall asleep. Wake up at 4:40 am with your toddler. Debate whether you should just flee the country while everyone else sleeps.

What to bring with you to your procedure

  • Your rescue inhaler, if you have one (does not bode well)
  • Your Health Care Proxy form, if you have completed one (also does not bode well)

What to expect

Once you arrive, you will be asked to state your name and date of birth many times. This is for your own safety. People with the same or similar names may be having procedures on the same day. Remember the guy who had his good foot amputated? This is kind of how we prevent that from happening. P.S. If your parents gave you a really wackadoo name, this is going to be one of those times that you’ll resent them, because you’ll have to spell your name 50 times and then answer questions about its origin, all after not having eaten for 41 hours.

When it’s time to change for your procedure, you will get a hospital gown (opens to the back and is nearly impossible to close), robe (negative), and nonskid socks to wear. Once you’ve gone to the bathroom a few times with the gown open in the back and many people watching you, you will have lost the ability to be embarrassed. P.S. If you’re a woman who’s given birth, don’t fret. It’s all been seen already.

You will meet with your doctor before your procedure. He or she will ask you to sign a consent form. Don’t read it! It says that you might die, among other things.

Once it’s time for your procedure, you will be brought into the procedure room. You will lie on your left side with your knees bent (and wonder, “Shit, when’s the last time I had a Brazilian?”). You will wonder what the peanut gallery is going to say about you while you sleep. You will quickly fall asleep due to the most amazing drugs you have ever had, and those three seconds while you’re dozing off might be the best three seconds of your life.

You will awaken in recovery and want to go back to sleep for a year. People will be talking to you, and you will answer them, but you will basically still be asleep. Finally, you will get dressed and leave with your mother’s housekeeper. She is like the person breaking you out of jail, and you will love her forever.

You will eat your first bite of real food in 41 hours. You will immediately gain back the three pounds you lost. Sucka!

And that’s it. You made it.

In sum, it’s a miserable experience. But, now that I’ve made it sound terrible, it won’t be as bad when it happens to you. I’ve managed your expectations. You’re welcome.

************************************************************************************

All joking aside, I am grateful that I am able to have a colonoscopy. They really do save lives. Please have one if your doctor prescribes it!

 

The Magic of a Ladybug

My dad visits me in the form of a ladybug.

I’m not sure I actually believe that, but I’m also not sure that I don’t. You see, my family moved to a new apartment in August, seven months after my dad died, and a sweet ladybug, pretty much the only insect I can tolerate in my home and would never try to squish with a shoe, appeared in my shower.

I set a piece of toilet paper down on the tile floor next to it and waited. The ladybug skittered in the opposite direction, and the toilet paper promptly became soaked with leftover droplets of water and sagged, the water fanning out from the center of the square. I got a dry piece and tried again, but the bug kept stopping as soon as it touched the edge of the paper. Eventually it must have tired of my efforts, because it crawled onto the white square. I opened the window and set the bug free, happy that it was back in nature. I forgot all about it.

A few days later, the ladybug was back. I saw the tiny red dot just inside the window in my two-year-old son’s bedroom. This time when I saw it, I immediately thought: Dad. My dad loved being in nature. He loved to explore the woods behind our home in Massachusetts, searching the ground for arrowheads, animal bones, and other such things. He loved camping, all things horse-related, and going on long runs on dirt roads. I figured my dad had come back to see our new home and to check up on the baby, his seventh grandchild and the one he knew the least, and that he had chosen the form of a ladybug because ladybugs are sweet, outdoor creatures that reminded him of his beloved home in Massachusetts. And also because he knew I wouldn’t try to flatten him. Why else would this ladybug have chosen to come to myapartment, in the middle of New York City, when there were so many others it could have chosen? So many apartments on lower floors. And why else would it have returned so soon after its first visit, when I set it free?

Maybe I’ve lost my mind.

The third time I saw the ladybug, this time in my bathroom again, I said to it, voice trembling, “Dad, is all of this stuff going to work out?” Not eloquent, to be sure, but there really is so much stuff to worry about, and I’ve lost the man on whose advice I depended the most. The person who had the most perspective because he had lived through it all already. The person who always answered the phone when I called.

It’s easier if I don’t think about my dad. But I promised I wouldn’t do that. It’s also an impossible task.

In the beginning, I was reminded of him every time I looked at the memorial candle, which we had lit on the day he died. After a few days, when most of the wax had burned away, the candle began to flicker in the glass jar, fighting to stay lit, just as my dad had struggled to stay with us just a bit longer those last few days. Several weeks after the candle had burned out, and I had rejoined the world of the living, I would be going about my day and suddenly think, I wonder what Dad is doing right now? When I’m slicing a bagel I picture him wincing, anticipating that I will cut my hand. When we had our Passover Seder this past spring, the first one without him as our Seder leader, my breath caught when I saw his distinct handwriting in my Haggadah. I see flashes of his expressions in my nine-year-old son’s face, and in the way in which my son rests one hand on the side of his face when he sleeps. All winter I wondered if my dad was cold in the cemetery; I wanted to bring him a heavy coat and a blanket. Always, when I’m texting a friend or a family member and I try to type “dad,” my phone changes it to “sad,” and I think, Yes, this is the only time the autocorrect fucker understands me.

A few weeks ago, on my youngest child’s first-ever day of school, I sent my mom a picture of the little guy standing on the corner, wearing a devilish grin, a collared shirt, and fancy pants. Right after my mom wrote back, “Kvelling!” my instinct was to send the picture to my dad. When my older son made the soccer team that he had been aching to be on for two years, I wanted to call my dad, a former soccer player, because I knew he would be excited and proud. Instead I called my mom, not a sports enthusiast, and said, “You have to be the excited grandparent because Dad isn’t here to do it.” When my daughter chose pottery as her first-ever elective at camp, it was my dad who would have been thrilled, as pottery was his greatest passion in life.

Once, when I really needed a good cry, I listened to old voicemails that my dad had left on my phone in his weak, gravelly, late-in-life voice. It was the eeriest sensation. Sometimes I think about his fluffy white hair and the twinkle in his eyes, and how his mere existence meant everything would be ok.

But sometimes I think about the way in which my dad died. That’s when I want to shut my eyes and put my hands over my ears. The doctors assured us that liver failure was a relatively painless, relatively comfortable way to die. I think they’re probably right, given all the terrible ways there are to die.

But still. There is no good way to die.

Although my dad had been beating back cancer for eleven and a half years, there was not one minute of that time that I believed he was dying. But in the fall of 2017, that changed. It became difficult for him to walk; he couldn’t make it from his bedroom to the kitchen without sitting down to take a break. He was out of breath all the time and he had an unquenchable thirst. He was too weak to speak, although he forced himself as best he could. He was admitted to the hospital on a Friday, and by Sunday he wouldn’t eat, drink, or get out of bed. That night he vomited so many times that he started to whimper, “Help.”

There is no good way to die.

In the hospital my dad became a tiny shriveled thing, rolling around restlessly in the hospital bed, moaning and coughing the most horrible sounds, trying to get comfortable. But you can’t get comfortable when you’re dying. It was astounding to see a man who once could jog three miles effortlessly suddenly unable to breathe while lying down. By his third full day in the hospital, he could still open his eyes but they couldn’t focus. I didn’t know if he could see us, although I like to think he knew we were there. One of his hands and both of his legs, now yellow, were swollen. His abdomen was distended with fluid, his mouth was dry from being open all the time, taking gulps of breath, and his lips were cracked. His breath smelled stale. One of his eyes was sticky, and he kept pawing at the air, reaching for things that weren’t there. The doctors said he was hallucinating as a result of liver failure. He was trying to tell us something, his words slurred and unrecognizable. How frustrating it must have been for him. We held up a cell phone so he could “talk” with his brother one last time. It sounded like gibberish to the rest of us, but, judging by the pacing of their voices, they seemed to understand each other. It was baffling. We all cried.

In a matter of days in the hospital, my siblings and I became the parents, and my dad became the child. When he reached for us, we ran to grab his hand. We said soothing words. We tried to feed him with a spoon, tiny bites. We dipped sponge lollipops into water or juice so he could suck on them. He tried, but he couldn’t swallow. We put ointment on his finger for him to rub on his lips, but he couldn’t find his lips so we guided his finger. We called the nurse if something bad was happening, which it almost always was.

He had the death rattle; that’s a real thing. The nurse said, “His shallow breathing from the throat is part of the process.” The process of dying, I guess. Process. I said the word over and over to myself until it didn’t sound like a word anymore. Someone once pointed out that the minute you’re born you begin to die. I guess that makes living part of the process of dying.

After six days in the hospital, the nurse called my mother very early one morning to say that my dad’s breathing had slowed considerably, and that she should come right away. She then called me, and I threw on some clothes and ran. The sunrise was beautiful that morning, with the orange rays peeking up over the tops of the apartment buildings on Third Avenue, casting a golden glow in every direction. I couldn’t believe that my dad could die on such a beautiful day.

I had never seen anyone die. In the minutes leading up to his death, he was breathing with his throat instead of his chest, his lower jaw jutting forward each time he inhaled. I remember counting the seconds between each breath to see if the time was getting longer. It reminded me of when I counted the minutes between each contraction when I was in labor with my daughter, except now time was moving in the opposite direction, getting longer instead of shorter. I held my dad’s hand and tried to think of something meaningful to say. But all I could muster was, “Oh, Dad.” After everything we experience in life, after everything a person goes through and has been and has done, it all comes down to this moment. As tears slipped from my eyes, I repeated “Oh, Dad” over and over as his breaths became shallower and eventually stopped.

And so it goes. We live, and then we die. It’s cruel, really. So many wonderful things exist in this world, and you have so many beautiful experiences, the whole time knowing that it will all be taken away. There’s so much pressure to enjoy every minute, to be grateful. And I am. It’s a gift, life, it really is. But it’s a gift that comes with strings. It was surreal and terrifying to see my dad die; life just slips right out of you. One second you’re alive and the next, gone. And that is it. Period. The end. Goodbye.

Unless you come back as a ladybug.

I never really believed in life after death. I’m not sure I do now. But with my dad gone and with each day of my life and my children’s lives passing so swiftly, with thoughts of the “end” taking up more space in my mind, I now believe, at least, in the magic of this ladybug. I have to. I look for that little red dot every day. And when it’s there, I feel safe. And I smile.

 

 

 

All the Jobs I Can’t Do

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Disclaimer: The following post is meant to be funny, not a point of reference for future potential employers.
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In all the years that I’ve been a stay at home mom, I’ve never stopped thinking about careers that could possibly suit me if I ever wanted to go back to work. But every time I try to picture myself starting something new, I quickly discover some major roadblocks. For example, here’s me as a…
Nutritionist
“As you know, you should be eating more of a plant-based diet. But ice cream is sooooooooo good.”
Financial Advisor:
“I don’t care how old you are or how much money you earn. Conserve, conserve, conserve.”
Chef:
*bleeding from all 10 fingers* “Is there a medic here or is that just on tv? Oh and also, I finished the chocolate ganache.”
Member of the Armed Forces
“You go in first, I’ll cover you.” #NotBrave
Podiatrist
“Oh my God, what is that???”
Librarian
“Just put that book back on the shelf. Yes, any shelf. What’s the difference, really? If someone wants it, we’ll find it. I guess.”
Firefighter
“Ooooooh, I’d LOVE to help, but my hair. And also, extreme heat makes me lightheaded.”
Police officer
“Carry a gun? Are you crazy? Guns kill people!”
Gynecologist
“You have HOW MANY sexual partners???”
Instagram influencer
*squinting* “How do you get to the pound symbol again?”
Math teacher
“Could someone please bring me a calculator and that triangle thingy? I swear math was different when I was in middle school.”
Anyone in the fashion industry
“Comfort first!”
Silent auction staff
*watching someone place a bid after time has expired* “It’s very important to me that everyone likes me, so I’m going to pretend I didn’t see that.”
Nursery school teacher
“Tyler, it’s better not to throw sand around the room. No no, don’t cry! It’s ok. You can throw the sand. I’ll clean it up later.”
Sex therapist
“Harry is saying that he wants to have more sex. Which I understand. But Deirdre is saying that she’s just so tired. Which I also understand.”
Trainer
*after 5 minutes* “Get me the AED! I’m DYING.”
Computer Programmer
“It’s broken! Mine’s broken.” *hits screen*
Real estate broker
Client: “I love it! It’s perfect! I’ll take it!”
Me: “Really? I don’t know…There’s a condo going up across the street that will block a lot of your light. And do you hear the neighbor upstairs clacking away on the floor with her heels? And the dog barking? And do you smell fish? I smell fish. Let’s keep looking.”
Doctor
Patient: “I fell on my way to work and my wrist is killing me.”
Me: “OMG, it’s crooked. That looks BAD. I’m about to faint. Catch me.”
Psychologist
Patient: “I have two healthy kids but I’m 43. What if something happens to them and I can’t conceive again? Should I freeze my eggs? Or is that crazy?”
Me: “No, it’s not crazy at all. It seems prudent, actually. *subtly jots down note to freeze eggs*
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And there you have it.
Do you ever imagine yourself going back to work after being a stay at home mom for many years? What would you want to do?

Dad

After a courageous and lengthy battle with cancer, my dad passed away on January 11th, 2018. I have had so many thoughts and emotions about my dad, his illness, and his death, and I’ve just skimmed the surface in the eulogy (below) that I delivered at his funeral on January 16th.

 

I want to begin by thanking my Mom for taking care of my Dad for all these years. I can’t even begin to imagine what went on behind the scenes, but even just making sure that he got to his appointments, that he took his medicine, and that he ate and drank enough was no small feat, and then you also conducted research to find him the best treatment available all over the country, and kept in touch with and questioned his doctors constantly. You nursed Dad back to health after multiple surgeries and setbacks, and you are most of the reason that we had him for as long as we did.

When my dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer 11.5 years ago, we were told he would probably not live more than one year. Matt and I had only been married for a little over a year at that point, and we didn’t have any children yet. Upon learning of my Dad’s diagnosis, I decided that I wanted to have a baby. Although my dad was already a grandfather, I felt an urgency to see him in the role of grandfather to a child of mine, and I hoped that he would live long enough for some of his personality to rub off on that child. That child is Caroline, and my Dad lived long enough to not only be a major presence in her life, but in the lives of Will (whose name he called out and whose hand he squeezed hard last week, in the midst of his delirium) and James as well. He loved each one of them so much, and they are the beneficiaries of my Dad’s gentle and comforting nature, his abounding patience, his keen interest, and his sense of humor.

I missed my dad for years before he was gone; not because he changed much, but because I knew he would be leaving us. I began taking notes about him so that I wouldn’t forget anything, and I’ll tell you some of the things that were significant for me to remember.

Family was a matter of paramount importance to him, and he wanted us to be together always. When his father, Benjamin, was dying, he called my father into his hospital room and said, “Stay with Henry,” my uncle, and he called Henry into his hospital room to say, “Stay with Julian.” That was a lesson my Dad passed down to us: stay with the family. This past week, we were all together as much as possible, and we will continue to be together, and my Dad would be happy about that.

My Dad served in the Navy as Lieutenant, Junior Grade , and loved stories centered around the sea, particularly Billy Budd, Robinson Crusoe, Captains Courageous, and Mutiny on the Bounty. He used old-fashioned words like “dungarees” “salve” and “sanguine.” He called aluminum foil “tin foil” and so do I. He tied his shoelaces like a child: two loops first, then a knot. He loved and appreciated nature, and was always awed the brightness of green trees against the grey sky right before it rained. Whenever we would go to Florida he would remind us how amazing it was that we could be in New York in the morning and Florida by lunchtime.

My Dad was a man of integrity who always strove to do the right thing, even if that thing were difficult to do. He was a man on whose advice and dependability you could constantly rely. He was gentle, patient, and almost never raised his voice. I can’t recall his ever being angry with me except for one time and I deserved it. He made me feel comfortable and supported, and he was always interested in what I had to say, even the most mundane things. He was a true renaissance man, someone who was equal parts business and creativity. He made the most stunning and professional-level pottery as a hobby, and we are proud to display it in our home. He was a successful entrepreneur, and managed to not offend anyone with whom he was negotiating. He was a consummate diplomat and peacekeeper, both at home and in his professional life. Most of all, there was something magical about him, such that everyone who met him loved him immediately and forever.

One of my favorite things about my Dad was his sense of humor. At a very traditional Japanese restaurant, after taking a look at the indecipherable menu, he asked the waiter, deadpan, for a roll with butter. He once said to one of our family’s dogs, ‘‘I like you, Buddy, because you don’t have any of my credit cards.’’ When he and my Mom were shopping for a sofa bed, he told me that one of the brand’s motto’s was ‘‘For people you want to come back again.’’ My Dad joked that there should be another brand whose motto would be ‘‘For people you don’t.’’ I asked which sofa he would choose and he just smiled.

My Dad often used his sense of humor to diffuse tension. When I took him to the hospital for a test a few years ago, he walked up to the check-in desk and said to the woman behind it, before she had even asked him a question: “Julian Jadow.  J-A-D as in David-O-W, 12/19/1930, four children, six grandchildren. Not allergic to latex. And they say I have a likelihood of falling but it hasn’t happened yet.” He liked to tell people in the medical profession that he had something called ‘‘micturational syncope’’ and then wait eagerly with a twinkle in his eye to see their reaction. I think he was testing them to see if they knew what it was and how to spell it. Once, during a hospital stay, he got a flyer which said that for Hanukkah the chaplain and music therapy team could pay him a visit to brighten his room with songs, prayers, and joy. I read this flyer to him and he asked “How do you get them to not visit?” Although he greatly respected and cherished all of his doctors, he liked to poke fun at them to keep things light. He would report, “She doesn’t see anything in the liver. But I’m not so sure she knows where the liver is.”

Over the course of his life, my Dad was a hero on multiple occasions. When my Mom choked at home (several times) my Dad performed the Heimlich maneuver on her. He once pulled a little girl who couldn’t swim out of the deep end of a swimming pool when her parents didn’t see her jump in. And as for me…watching my Dad tolerate much of his pain unmedicated over the last few years, especially after he suffered compression fractures in his back as a result of radiation, encouraged me to do the same with my migraines. He changed my life, just by being stoic. What’s more, being able to rid my body of excess toxins also enabled me to have a third child, something I had always wanted. Without my Dad, there would be no James.

I don’t know what my Dad was like at home during his numerous treatments, but to me he rarely complained. He was brave and tough, and he didn’t like to think of himself as sick. He would say, “I may drop dead at any minute, but I’m not sick.” Anytime he answered the phone, even right after major surgery, he would clear his throat before saying hello so that his voice would sound strong. He didn’t want people to think of him as weak, and he would say of his cane, as he was using it to walk, “I don’t need my cane, it just gives me confidence.” When he said that, it reminded me of my grandmother, his mother, who would always tell people, as she aged, “I can’t walk, but I can dance.”

Up until two weeks ago, my Dad answered his phone whenever I called, and we could still have real conversations. Then he got too tired too talk. And then he drifted away. I will miss calling him everyday on my walk to school to pick up the kids. I will miss his presence at family gatherings. I will miss his comforting and supportive nature. We lost a great man. I hope he knows how much he was loved, admired, respected, and appreciated, and how totally unforgettable he is. We could have relied on him for anything. I feel extremely lucky to have had him as a father.

When I think back to that time over a decade ago, when we were first given bad news, all I wanted was for my dad to survive. I guess you could say I felt Dayenu, or It would have been enough. And then I wanted to get pregnant, so that Matt and I could give my dad just one grandchild from us. And I did. Dayenu. And then we made my Dad a grandfather again. Dayenu. And then again. Dayenu. And after all these years, last week I was told that my Dad had only a few days to live and I thought, “Not Dayenu.” When it comes to a loved one, it’s never enough. I know that, with respect to my father, I got everything I asked for and more. But we still weren’t ready. It wasn’t enough.

I imagine that one of the biggest fears, when facing death, is that people will forget about you; that life will continue on without you and that you won’t only cease to exist but that, in the act of people’s forgetting, it will be as if you never existed at all. Dad, I want to assure you that we won’t forget you. We will talk of you often, we will think of you always, we will look at your picture, we will cry, and we will laugh. We all love you so much. They said one year, Dad, and you gave us 11. You are our own personal Hanukkah miracle, and I am so grateful for that.