HLHS

I cannot stand another day of this stay-at-home vs. working mother crap anymore. Apparently, a girl name Amy glass, which I seriously doubt is her real name, wrote a post about how she looks down on women who get married, have kids and stay at home to take care of them. It was obnoxious and so typical of a ‘cupcake’ generation that I laughed at it. I didn’t take her seriously at all. At least, not until the blog world exploded and soon this guy was accusing of moms who work are working primarily because they are selfish.

I work. I have to, for financial reasons and I work because I get some personal fulfillment from it. Apparently, according to this jerk , I am not supposed to find personal fulfillment in anything other than motherhood. Well, sorry dude, but I don’t. That is not who I am. I am not a terrible person. I am not someone who doesn’t love her children or who doesn’t make sacrifices. I am stunned that someone who doesn’t know me at all is making blank statements with his right-wing, libertarian point of view. I have made plenty of sacrifices in my life, some that are none of your f’en business. Just as SAHMs shouldn’t have to explain themselves, well, NEITHER DO I.

I love working. I love being with my kids. Growing up I watched my mother work very hard and get great fulfillment from her work. She made a huge difference in education for the town of Plymouth that still exists today. Her love for what she did pushed me to find something that I enjoyed. Did I miss her when I got home from school? Sure I did. Did she attend all of my school activities and volunteer? No, but she was available anytime I needed her and if she wasn’t, she sent in the calvary (aka my Nana). Sure it would have been great to have her home but would I have learned about being self sufficient? Would I have learned how to cook, do laundry, or be responsible? Maybe I would have but the biggest lesson I took away was “If you work hard, you can make a difference.” She sacrificed her time with us. I love her for it. I know what it took for her to be a working mom and I admire her so much for doing such a great job.

 I am a graphic designer and am currently contracting in town. I love creating things and using my brain on variety of levels. Working feels natural to me. It’s what I have always done. When I was unemployed I loved being with the girls but I felt like a huge piece of me was missing. My husband was very worried about how we were going to make ends meet, and we struggled. I felt responsible (I still do) and was devastated that I was out of a job.

For a long time I was a single mother and had to support my daughter. I made huge sacrifices during that time period. I took a job just to make money so we could pay our bills. It was a horrible job that I sucked at, and hope I never ever get to a place where I would have to do that again. I did everything I could to be at her school activities, her plays, her concerts. We developed our own way of staying connected even though I worked an hour away. I would write notes in her lunch, snuggle with her at night, and take her everywhere with me when I got home. We spent a lot of time at both my grandparents and parent’s house. She established a wonderful relationship with my beloved grandparents as a result. That isn’t anything to shake a stick at. After a disastrous relationship where I had to work as much as I could because the sonofabitch robbed me blind, I did everything I could to be there for her. Being a single parent was the hardest job of my life and I am grateful I had the help I did so I could work and provide for her. 

I took that girl’s blog as a joke. Who cares if a twenty-something is blabbing about something she has no clue about? It’s not a reflection on the SAHM moms I know, and I couldn’t believe how upset people were. These women are strong, amazing moms who make extreme sacrifices and I personally don’t think their decisions to be SAHM are bad ones or less than me because I work. Managing a household is very hard work, and I did it for 5 months. If we could afford it I would love to freelance and work from home. But we can’t. And I am ok with that. 

I just had to get this off my chest- I mean, I really can’t stand this guy. He has driven me crazy lately with some of the things he has written to the point where I avoid any reference to him because my blood pressure goes up instantly. As I see more and more people re-post his stuff, I felt like I needed to vent because I am not sorry for my decisions. I am not sorry I work. Self-fulfillment isn’t about finance all of the time, it makes me feel good to work emotionally. That doesn’t mean I can’t wait to hand my children over to someone else to ‘shape’. That was another sticking point that infuriated me. 

When I look for someone to take care of my girls, I look for someone who shares my values and who will care for them the way that I would. I found that person, and my kids know that I am their mother. They know what that means. They don’t think this other woman is their parent. We are the ones that get up in the middle of the night and cuddle the nightmares away, get bottles, change diapers, read stories, stroke foreheads and love them. Chris and me. Us. Not the daycare, not anyone else.

 

HLHS

Making the local paper!

Making the local paper!

Today the article about Isabelle was published in the local paper. A paper I used to work at. By a woman who once upon a time, was a good friend of mine. This meant a lot to me and I couldn’t hold in my excitement when I saw the front page with a picture of Chris and Isabelle on it. Front page. Holy shit. 

My newspaper past has come up recently and I have enjoyed spending some time in those memories of paste up. Remembering when I applied for my first job out of college and began a career with the largest pair of scissors ya ever did see. Someone posted a picture of Photoshop version 3.0 3 1/4 discs and immediately I remembered the day those came in and the lucky few who had it installed on their new PowerMacs. I was one of them, and that changed my career from an aspiring reporter to a graphic designer. I can still see the house photos I had to scan in for real estate ads.

After being at the Rutland Herald for a few years I decided it was time for me to come back to Massachusetts. I brought my husband and one year old daughter with me. I was going to get a design job that would launch a great career. Let’s just say that didn’t happen and I ended up at the Old Colony through a series of events called “Working at the Community Newspaper Company with Angry Hippies who Lived on the Cape.” When I got the call that the job was going to be offered to me I was so excited. I was going to work right up the street from my house. I could bring our daughter to school. A month after I started I ended up getting a divorce and thrust myself into the single parent life. 

I met some amazing people at the paper. Emily Clark is one of many. Kim Keyes, Jim Curran, Nan Anastasia, Mark Pothier (who probably wouldn’t know me if I ran right into him), Ed Colley, Tom Santiago, Joanne, Walter, Tamson Burgess,  Sandy Barker, Tom Booth and Bob Bishop. It was an incredible time and I learned a lot. Looking back I wonder if I should have left when I did. The road I chose has been very unpredictable and hard. It has been so unbelievably hard. I’ve met some great people on those travels too, but none have been like the ones I met at the paper. It was truly an incredible time in my life when I was learning what path I wanted to take as an artist. 

Hearing Emily’s voice on the phone the other day made me feel as though I had come full circle. It was awesome. Like having a cup of coffee with an old friend. I can’t imagine anyone else I would want to write our story. My past met my present and future. 

 

HLHS

The Trouble with Tonya

Last night I stayed up to watch ESPNs 30 on 30 film about Tonya Harding. I remembered that time period very well, and at the time I was on Team Kerrigan because…who wasn’t? I felt that if you do something like orchestrate bodily harm to a fellow athlete than you should be punished. I saw the black and white as many others did. I was curious to see Tonya’s side of the story. I did not expect what happened next.

I felt for her. I understood her. I could see exactly where she was coming from and identified with her. Tomboy who didn’t fit in, who didn’t for the mold and didn’t even try to. Seeing the early films of her growing talent astounded me. To have that kind of talent and to rise up through competitions with hardly any money amazed me.

Figure skating is expensive. I was looking for skates and found myself browsing Jackson and Riedells in the $300 range. Then I reminded myself that I haven’t skated competitively since 1984 and an amateur pair is fine. I would go to lessons twice a week and skate on the weekends. My toes cramped into the tight leather, 3 pairs of socks, leg warmers and tights under the jeans. I loved every minute of being on that ice. Spinning, spirals, toe loops and figures made me feel graceful, if only in my mind . The other girls who were petite had the grace I wanted. After catching a glimpse of my reflection off the glass I realized that I was not what I saw in my mind as I went through the movements. I can still feel my face get hot . Unlike Tonya, after I lost at a competition, I didn’t use it as fuel for an ambitious fire. Instead I used it as an excuse to quit. I stopped skating and proceeded onto a downward spiral that would eventually lead me to my lovely alcohol addiction. It started when I left a piece of myself on the ice and it stopped 11 years later.
Tonya wanted to be a world champion. She had the talent to do it and if she only allowed for a tiny bit of conformity, she could have been an incredible skater. Instead, she allowed her insecurities make decisions for her . She didn’t bow to the judges wishes or follow their suggestions because dammit, she was going to show them with that triple axle! That stubbornness took that championship away and pushed her goals out of reach. I understand how that works. I have been Tonya in various situations that I have become my own worst enemy.
And in the end, she also lost the ice. She can never skate again. She can never make a career from it . She can’t teach, she can’t coach and I am sure putting on a pair is mentally agonizing. Yes, she did it to herself. No one who orchestrates such a disaster should get away with it. I still think they shouldn’t have allowed her to compete because the real reason they let her go was because of the publicity, not for competition. She had robbed herself before it began.
I can relate to all of this- her jealousy, her need to be like everyone else but demanding people accept her for who she was, and her love of skating. At the end of the documentary she tells the camera that she is banned from skating. Her face said that she didn’t care – that her husband and son were enough to make her happy. Her eyes said something else.

HLHS

An Illuminated Heart

Last Tuesday we had an appointment at the Cardio Clinic at Children’s to check in with Dr. Levine. We left with the beginning of Plan F in place with a date for a sedated echo and an all clear for another few months. She is very pleased with how well Izzie is doing and gave us some suggestions for her croupy cough that was scaring the crap out of me. Hearing her struggle after a coughing fit and knowing her O2 sats can drop when that happens are not a good combination for sleep. Overall it was a great check up and we left knowing the next steps were in place. 

Tomorrow, a friend of mine from high school is going to bring her daughter to the cath lab tomorrow. She will sit in the room with her, maybe a nurse will bring by some toys to keep her occupied before they give her the sedative. She will sign a few consent forms. The nurse and doctor will go over the procedure one more time while they wait for her daughter to get sleepy. They will bring the little girl back with them and leave her to wait. A year ago we were in the cath lab with Isabelle as we prepared for her Stage 2 surgery. We were in her shoes, left to wait. We found a place to set up our laptops and began to work, trying not to think about what they may find.

Before we knew it we were called back and they had finished. We went back to recovery and waited patiently for her to wake up. We were told she would be groggy and a little irritable. She was and very hungry too! I asked if we could see the pictures and if there was anything that raised concern. Just a small collateral, nothing big to speak of. Didn’t even need to coil it. 
*For those of you who don’t know, a collateral is a vessel that the body creates on its own to bring oxygen to a part of the body it feels needs it. Sometimes they can draw the supply away from where it should go, and cause problems. If they are substantial, the doctor will coil the vessel. 

I have seen many beautiful photographs in my life, but none as beautiful as my daughter’s heart. As the dye shot through her vessels, it illuminated her anatomy with such grace and beauty. As the dye passed through her system the image faded to black. Her heart beat strong, even with the delicate scaffolding supporting her circulation. Truly amazing. 

Tomorrow my friend will walk the same hallways, and hopefully see her beautiful girl’s heart the way we did. I pray that the surgeon will get what he needs to make the repairs necessary to give this beautiful girl a chance. I don’t doubt his hands will be blessed by God on Wednesday, as they have been many, many times already. I know the walk to the pre-op area will seem long and it will be so hard to hand her over to those blessed hands but I know when I watch Isabelle run around, smile at me and laugh, that it was worth it. 

Boston Children’s isn’t just where Isabelle has received care, it is where many people have gotten hope that their child will get better, that they will have a chance. Even my own husband has his own story of being at Children’s when he was a little boy. Just one more reason why Miles for Miracles is the charity I wanted to participate with this year. It’s not just about Isabelle. It’s about my friend’s daughter. It’s about all of us.