Monthly Archives: February 2016

Not This Again

On our flight to Florida, I sat next to a pregnant woman. She was nice. She had a two-year old child, and we ended up chatting about our kids and how to travel with them. She also talked about her pregnancy experience and … I was really resentful. (Only internally, of course. I’m sure she didn’t notice anything.) And I thought, “Man, not this again.”

Seriously. Over it.

If you’ve been following along for any amount of time, you’ll know that Paul and I adopted both our boys. You’ll probably have deduced that we weren’t able to have biological children. And it was a really big deal for a really long time. The trying and the giving up and the grieving and the angst consumed me for years. Years. It was hard on me, it was hard on Paul, it was hard on our marriage.

Before I go on, I want to be crystal clear about this: I could not love my little boys more. I don’t know how it would be possible. Even on the days when I think about running away to Fiji, I love them like crazy. I do not regret anything about them or the way they became part of our family.  I wouldn’t give any of it back, even the awful stuff, because all of it got us to right here and right now.

The awful stuff? I got through it, and I got to a place where I really was able to let go of the bitterness and hardly think about it at all. It was a lot of work to get there, and it was worthwhile work.

It was work I thought was done.

But some nice lady on a plane said something about her ankles swelling or whatever (seriously, I don’t even remember), and I was just mad again. No, I don’t really want swollen ankles, and I’ve heard that the labor experience is rather unpleasant. There are women who love being pregnant, but there are certainly those who kind of hate every minute. And truly, do I want to have a baby now, when everyone is using the toilet and can mostly put on their own seat belts? Nahhhhhht really.

And still, I am walking around feeling a little fragile a lot of the time, and I think this is why. (Sometimes it’s hard to tell. Say a prayer for Paul.) I’m re-grieving the fact that I just wasn’t allowed to do that. There is this one part of being a mom that I’m never quite going to get, on a gut level. This is one point of connection that I will never, ever have with other women.

There was a point in my life when I was so sick of hearing myself think about this stuff that I thought I would lose my mind. I was really happy to be done with it.


I will be done again. I know this. It probably won’t be long, and I’ll be back to not thinking about it. I’ll be thinking about something else.

I would like to think there will come a time here on this earth when I am perfectly mature and kind and joyous, and my days of irrational jealousy over the edema of strangers are a distant memory. When old wounds will never reassert themselves. But I doubt it; there will always be something hard. It’s a game of spiritual whack-a-mole.

You are probably facing something hard today. Maybe it’s new and enormous and terrifying. Maybe it’s old and persistent and infuriating. Whatever it is, you are going to whack it. You are. Me too.

Mallets up.


Six Years 

My friend Colleen texted me this afternoon, out of the blue, and reminded me that six years ago this morning, I was being wheeled into surgery to have a pesky lymph node removed. It was another step on a journey that started two years before when my family doctor said the words, “Unfortunately, the biopsy showed a malignancy.”

It was thyroid cancer, which is the kind of cancer you would want to choose if we had choice in such things – most people die with thyroid cancer, not of it – but nobody ever really wants to hear the word malignancy, amirite? It’s super treatable, but you still have to be treated. It’s still nobody’s idea of a good time.

As it turned out, my particular case was, in the considered and erudite words of my endocrinologist, “very interesting and kind of weird.” Usually they take the thyroid out and do a radioactive iodine treatment and it’s gone. In my case,  the bloodwork kept showing cancer hanging out somewhere in my body, but nobody could find it for a couple of years. (It was hiding in the aforementioned lymph node way up by the corner of my jaw.)

I hate surgery. I hate anesthesia. I hate the blasted IV machines that beep all night long, and the smell of that soap they use everywhere, and that you have to bother the nurses for every little stupid thing. But I hated all that less than I hated two years of going to the doctor every however many months and hearing that they still couldn’t find whatever it was that was messing up my bloodwork, and oh by the way, it seemed to be growing. So I was really hoping, and also hardly daring to hope, that this might be the end. That they might have found the leftover cancer and that they were going to rid me of it for real.

And they did.

So far, of course. I still have to be monitored, and I guess I am still technically considered a thyroid cancer patient, but right now it has all fallen to the level of an irritation. Something I have to do twice a year with the blood tests and the trying to get scheduled in a busy office and the hour-long drive to his office, and it’s annoying, but I don’t spend a lot of time worrying about it. Or even thinking about it.

So possibly the best bit about that text was that it was a total surprise. It made my day. It was lovely to realize that it was already six years behind me, and lovelier still to realize that it was so far off my radar.

These six years. They have been wonderful and dreadful and goofy and marvelous.


I have gotten to live them largely without thinking about the word malignancy courtesy of good doctors and some luck and the grace of God, and man, how great is that?

I am so glad I got that text today. I’ve been smiling ever since.

It’s like when you have a toothache and you finally get the tooth fixed and you walk out of the dentist’s office thinking oh man, do I feel good  and I will not EVER take this feeling for granted again I swear. And of course a couple of days later you’ve forgotten the entire thing and you’re mad because some jerk is tailgating you.

This happens to all of us because we are human and also because we seem to be kind of dumb.

Me, I’m just having a little visit back to the time right after the toothache goes away, and it feels glorious. I’m going to go now and live my ridiculous, awesome life while I’m still high on the feeling. If you can dredge up some post-toothache aura, you should too. (It’s pretty fun.)

Comfortably Numb

Our hero had his first experience with dental numbing today. He was brave and tough and all that good stuff, but who cares because he’s hilarious. 

He got numb on both sides of the mouth, so he can’t say Bs or Ps. (This is, by the way, a reenactment of one of the first things he said to me after emerging from the chair, not something I thought up for him to say.)

I tried to get him to talk about Peter Piper for maximum effect, but he would have none of that. 

And just as a bonus housekeeping tip, if you absolutely cannot get one of the windows to close, don’t discount the possibility that someone has shoved a crayon down into the track.


This is my newest work. I call it Boys Strangled By Seatbelts.    
This is what they did on the way to the airport this afternoon, which was a mercy. They are so tired. There is only so much fun you can have before your circuits just go right up in flames. They were in bed at 8:00 tonight and I think they were asleep before I shut the bedroom door. 

It was their first night without a story in a while. I mean, sure, they got a book before bed, but Grandma was not there on a mattress in the same room to tell them a 45-minute customized bed time story complete with huge RV campers and people named Squinky. Or something. I wasn’t paying close attention. 

Paul and I were discussing the relative quality of the “stories” they get from us when they are in our room after bedtime and we nearly laughed ourselves sick.


Are you bleeding? Do you have a broken bone? No? Then WHY ARE YOU HERE?

If you make me get out of this bed, I am going to be VERY UNHAPPY. How happy do you think YOU will be then? 

GO. TO. BED. Right now!!!

The poor little urchins. Is it any wonder they adore their grandma? 

You know what I adore? I adore my bed. I may want to marry it. I laid down on it when we got home and literally groaned with happiness. 

There’s probably a lesson somewhere in there about attachment to creature comforts and what that means for my soul, but I will have to think about that tomorrow. 

Tonight, I shall wallow in my homebody-ness. And my giant, cozy, fantabulous bed. 

The Land of Sunshine and Toilet Bowls

It’s like this: We thought about taking a trip during which no member of our immediate family spent a day praying to the porcelain god, but we were afraid if we did that, no one would believe it was actually us.

The good news is that it’s already happened – both kids went down over Sunday night and most of Monday – and we’re hoping we’ve gotten it out of the way and it’ll be clear sailing from now on.

And if you have to get sick, it’s really best to do it wherever Grandma is, so that the availability of immediate cold forehead cloths and abundant, unquestioning sympathy is not so sadly lacking as it might be if you were stuck with just your parents. For example.

The adults in the party have so far escaped, and we’re not sure where the kids picked it up. Possibly it was on the plane from the guy who passed out in the aisle right next to us (!!!) and then brought up his breakfast. I’d never been on a flight before when a doctor was paged, and I’m happy that things weren’t really serious.

We actually knew a doctor that was on the flight with us, and as he stood beside us talking to the nurse who was getting the sick man’s vitals, someone in the row behind asked what kind of doctor he is, and he very neatly avoided the question with a joke. I guess probably no one really wants to hear they’re being attended by a hospice doctor for lightheadedness and vomiting.

Everyone recovered enough that we made it to the aquarium yesterday, which the boys enjoyed hugely. My favorite part was the outbuilding, though, where they have two manatees and a sea turtle that hang out together and eat eighty heads of lettuce a day. That is a lot of salad, my friends. They don’t even get croutons.

And this lovely lives with her sister, where they spend time shoving each other off the warmest spot in the tank, in an oddly familiar interspecies echo of what was happening above water as two small hooligans jockeyed for the best viewing position.

Back at the park, we’ve all been in the pool at least once, to great outcry by everyone who’s been living here longer than a few weeks and thinks 60 degrees is cold. I won’t lie, it’s chilly when you get out, but the pool is as warm as bathwater. What’s not to love?

Levi and Papa have wandered off to an outdoor museum about Native Americans, and Elias and I are sitting back at the house, soaking the quiet and solitude into our slightly harried, routine-loving souls.

It’s good.