Thursday, December 5, 2013


While the ability of a child to cross their arms, stomp their feet, turn their back on you, narrow their eyes, and, of course, shout No! with the full force of an angry little monster who thinks it owns the world, is frustrating beyond all belief to the parents and caregivers on the receiving end, it is, somehow, in some twisted, masochistic way, still refreshingly typical

I'm not condoning it, nor am I celebrating it, really.  It's typical childhood behavior.  I'm glad of that.  It's not specifically unique to my child, or to Down syndrome.  It's unique to children (oh, okay, I know plenty of adults that may exhibit this behavior, too...), in general.  And did I already mention that it's frustrating beyond all belief

Samantha's defiance at home usually has a reason behind it.  I don't always fully understand the reason, but I can usually figure it out for the most part.  And then I usually antagonize her a bit and make it worse, digging deeper, getting in her face to demand answers and compliance, when really, I should just leave her alone for a bit to stew in her own misery.  But when it comes to needing to get ready for school so we can get out of the door and get her there before the 3rd bell, there is no place for defiance and the delays it inevitably causes.

Defiance, for Samantha, usually stems from her own internal sense of shame.  She knows she's done something wrong, she knows she's been punished for it, and she knows we still need to talk about it to ensure the situation is resolved.  But she hates to admit to wrong-doing.  She'd rather shut down and turn her back, her eyes dark with (benign) malice, arms crossed and locked to her sides.

And then...she breaks.

She knows.  She admits.  She cries.  She apologizes.  And then, with a hug you never, ever want to end, a painstakingly hesitant, sad, kiss of remorse as she looks into your eyes and agrees to behave next time (oh, how often this plays out), it is over.  And then, with the innocence of a child who doesn't understand that we adults know all, and can magically see the hints of ulterior motive, she asks to watch TV/play with her tablet/read her books/do whatever privilege had previously been taken away.  Ya gotta laugh. 

The innocence of a child. 

Can't beat that.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Road Runner (minus the road)

I am what you'd consider an older mom.  Those words don't leave my mouth without stumbling, tangling up on the tip of my tongue as they leave a funny, unfamiliar taste.  In my mind, I'm still under 30, idealistic, silly, and so very immature.  Sometimes, when I'm with other mothers who are my age or younger, I feel...wrong.  Like not quite worthy of being in their stately presences, these women who seem to have it all together, who take responsibility seriously and see the world in a different, more serious light.  I don't know what it is.  Perhaps it's because I only have one child and was allowed to be a kid for so much longer than many of them.  Perhaps it's because I'm missing some critical part of my genetic make-up that says to most people, Grow up, damnit!  I often feel like I don't have anything in common with these people, like 1985 is still calling my name (although not my wardrobe, certainly...), like I can giggle like the best of the 17 year olds out there, like I can still eat whatever I want and not gain weight...  Maybe these other moms feel the same as I do inside, and maybe they, too, feel like they need to play at being grown-ups for the sake of the rest of us.  I was so, so flattered at NDSC this summer when a mother of a young lady with Down syndrome asked me, "So, are you a sibling?"  Flattered, and speechless.  Maybe it was what I was wearing...

But the old adage says, you're as old as you feel

Ain't that the truth.

And, in the last couple of years, I've been feeling pretty damn old.  Well, at least my body has. 

After I had Samantha, I rejoiced in the fact that for the next 2 years, I managed to get rid of all of the baby fat, to get my body into some semblance of what it had been before.  And I managed to do it without actually doing anything.  Can't credit breastfeeding - only did that for about 4 months.  Guess it was just my super-fabulous genetic ability to unconsciously control my metabolism.

And, after changing jobs 5 years ago (oh, and hitting the big 4-0), after leaving the rigors of fast-paced retail management for a desk job in which sitting on my ass is pretty much the sum total of my activity for the day and all of my energy and weight loss is concentrated in my fingertips racing across my computer keyboard, I was proven wrong.

No longer super-fabulously slim, no longer super-fabulously able to eat what I wanted without feeling massive pangs of guilt and remorse, no longer super-fabulously comfortable in my new, flabby and expanding skin, I knew I had to do something.  When the aches and pains of a body at rest staying at rest were just too much, when the slim, active self trapped inside my body that no longer had time to exercise at all (wake, kid to school, work, kid to bed, dinner, bed) was just screaming for release, the stars aligned and I bought a treadmill from a friend.

Funny story, really - she had just posted that she was selling it when I texted her to let her know I was interested, but needed to consult my husband (who would surely tell me no way, no how do we have anywhere to put it).  I called him, and he shocked me by telling me, here at 2 days before our 22nd anniversary, that he had planned on buying me a treadmill for our anniversary (just because he knew I wanted one, not because he thought I needed one, btw...)!  The exchange of money for goods was made, we got it home, and crammed it into the basement...

...where I have absolutely surprised the hell out of myself by loving it and running nearly every day. 

Oh, how the birds sing when I exercise, how my muscles no longer ache when I drag my sorry body out of bed each morning, how productive I feel!  And, as I have discovered, having 60-some episodes of Breaking Bad on my DVR to watch on the TV directly in front of the treadmill makes my morning runs go by really quickly.  It's win/win.

And I am proud of myself.  I look forward to running every morning, a far cry from the efforts I used to make several years ago, for a brief moment in time, when I forced myself to wake at 4:45 and haul my half-asleep self to the gym to run on their treadmill.  I'm still too anxious to consider running on the road, though (I feel like the rules are all so different!  And what do I wear?), so at least for now, the machine will be it. 

I haven't weighed myself, have no baseline for comparison other than how I feel, and how my clothes fit.  Okay, well, how my clothes will surely fit soon.  It's only been a few weeks, after all.

And this older mom, this sedentary person who still lives with one foot in the past, is determined to continue to search for the fountain of youth in my physical being (I'm eternally grateful for the fountain of Revlon Colorsilk #49, available at my local CVS), determined to run a 5k sometime this spring (uh, if I can get over my fear of the road). 

And at this rate, it's gonna be a breeze.   

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Madness, Part I

Placing the star

The first of the holiday hurdles have passed, and we seem to have come out of them mostly unscathed.  I ordered our holiday photo cards after receiving a deal too good to pass up, my company's holiday party took place at the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum Udvar Hazy Center with great success last week after a year of meticulous planning, we hosted Thanksgiving dinner at our house (trust me when I say we never entertain, although we are perfectly well kitted out for it), and the halls have now been decked. 

Heading to dinner behind the Space Shuttle Discovery

Cocktails beside the SR71 Blackbird

For the first time ever, I took Sammi, along with one of her friends from school ("first time ever," meaning first time with one parent, two children - an exciting venture for me!), to a local parade on Black Friday, one we had attended last year and which passes directly below my office windows.  Sammi's friend had never been to a parade before, so a nice, cold, squished-in crouch on a sidewalk curb was the best way I knew how to give her the full-on parade experience, rather than hiding out in my company's 4th floor offices to view the festivities in warmth from above.  However, as is customary, Samantha was miserable in the cold and discomfort, and mean mommy felt like she was torturing her child.  Actually, I think she just whined when she was bored, meaning during the parts where there were no band/dance/song performances, because she clapped and smiled during all of those.  Juggling my camera (and my huge new lens!) and trying not to knock over the children sandwiched in beside me, I would periodically kneel into the street, mindful of not getting run over by an errant Jaguar or Mustang from the local Jaguar and Mustang fancier clubs (although I must say, that might be the way to go!), to see when the next entertaining segment might be likely to get to us and my daughter's tears to stop freezing onto her already wind-chapped cheeks.  For an hour and a half of the two-hour program, I promised her that Santa, signaling the grand finale, would be along any minute.  The second the parade ended, we made a beeline for my office to use the bathroom and to try to regain some feeling in our fingers and toes, and then headed out for pizza to soothe Sammi's sweet soul.

Mentioning to my husband that I had all-but-abandoned my blog, he gasped, and stated that no matter how hectic the holiday season, that's one thing that I really shouldn't abandon, one thing that I should find a way to maintain in some way.  I know what he means, but I also am thinking ahead to the second set of holiday hurdles that face me. 

We'll be traveling soon and need to bring gifts that are easy to pack.  Each Christmas I create a photo book of Sammi's year.  It makes an excellent gift, especially for our family far away, but the days are passing with a speed I'm not too comfortable with, and I am worried that my half-finished efforts will not be complete in enough time to get them ordered and in my hands before my deadline.  Oh, damn you, Shutterfly, for making such a beautifully creative interface for photo book design!  Custom Path, while extraordinarily lovely, is not exactly easy.  I'm one who overthinks each detail, and, if given the luxury of time, would take a whole year just to make the blasted thing.  But, in reality, about 3 or 4 days is all I have left.

Adding to the mix, Samantha seems to have been invited to enough birthday parties already this year to make up for last year's dearth.  It's crazy.  And, thankfully, these parties, for the most part, are being held in facilities that I know Samantha will enjoy.  They're not without their bumps along the path, but we're getting through them.  Amazingly, we've had to bow out of the party of one of her friends, a little girl we really like, because it overlaps with another event.  Feast or famine, baby!

Too much!  Too much! I say, grinning all the way.  This is what parenting is all about.  This is what life is all about. 

This is Christmas.

Calgon, take me away!