Thursday, March 26, 2009

Swelling in Dim Lighting

I was standing in only a bra and underwear, in a 3x3 dingy beige, dimly lit room, staring at the mirror, but practicing visualization avoidance techniques. I don't need to see this, I whispered to myself. I listened as the sales lady and my friend discussed my sizes. My friend, in muffled tones, "Hey, you think you need a bigger size?"

Sales lady in loud, ear-cringing, hair-pulling squeak, "Words. Words. Words." I don't know what she was saying. I was too busy cringing and pulling my hair.

I stared at my chest. The bulging mountainous shapes protruding out of the bra that I swear should easily be containing these bad girls. The thought of moving into the double alphabet was not something a formerly B/C girl wanted to consider. That might mean a whole new lifestyle . . . cooler clothes, better friends . . . I might have to eat clams and drink French wine . . .

The bra failed me. Unless I was all for resting my chin on my chest, this would not work. I had created the perfect hiding place for Cheerios or, say, a wrench. I slowly opened the door. My friend squeezed her face through the opening. I asked as I stood straight, shoulders raised trying to diminish their size, "What do you think? Do you think I need a bigger size?" Without a word, she turned around.

"Ma'am. We're gonna need a bigger size," her voice was barely above a whisper. Bless her for not advertising my increasing size to the world. Bless her . . .

"We don't carry a DD," the sales woman shouted. SHOUTED.

I know. I should be beaming with pride. But, when every other bra you try on fits like a rubber band around your chest, when you are staring at legs that look like they are about to fall off due to lack of circulation (I really wish some things remained a secret, VICTORIA!) because your thighs have doubled in size and are raw with being too well acquainted with one another, when your arms look like the offspring of your thighs, when a constellation has taken residence on your face and when you are forced to contend with unruly hair with a bad attitude and a personal vendetta--well that leaves you feeling quite . . . unsexy, uncute, and a slightly psychotic (and oddly, hungry).

Where was the glow when I was pregnant with JR? Wait, that was sweat mixed with oil from my overproducing glands. Damn . . .

"We have an E," the sales lady mercilessly continues.

I'm not prone to being embarrassed. Nope. Not at all. But when the girl in the next changing room looks like a teen pageant winner and her husband/boyfriend shares genes with Brad Pitt and when she has to wear a fake belly to try on pregnancy clothes (she seriously will never look pregnant. She'll just appear to have a zit on her belly--I just know it) you just don't get all that excited about increasing bewbage or having it announced to the world (mall, same difference). I swear I heard Teen Barbie and Brad giggle (probably not, but it makes me feel better if I can have a good reason to hate them).

I stuffed them (the bewbs, not Barbie and Brad) back into the stretched out, snagged, sad excuse for a brassiere and headed out. I'd had enough torture for one day.

About a dozen bras, countless maternity clothes (we won't discuss why for some reason I can't fit into my clothes from just two years ago. . . I'm very sensitive and there is not enough chocolate to soothe my pain . . . ) and one obnoxious sales lady later . . . I was done.

So . . . we went to eat. Me, the bewbs deserving of their own zip code, and my friend.

Thought for the day: I wonder if I could claim them as dependents on my taxes?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Leave ME Alone! i can take care of myself . . .

I was an accident-prone kid. If there was anything within a mile radius that could pose as a danger to me--we were destined to meet.

Rest stop. A half dozen kids piling out of an old van, making their way through the grass, over the hills and down a ditch to try and get to the rest room first. I was first. Barefoot. Shirtless (we won't discuss that right now) and making sure I beat every single kid.

Glass. In foot. My mom and a couple of the kids ran to me. I screamed for them to LEAVE ME ALONE. I held my foot and sucked back the tears. My mom stood a safe distance away, watching me tend to my wounds as I pursed my lips and glared at her.

A dozen stitches later I was fine. And now, looking back, what was I thinking? What was my mother thinking? Barefoot. Public restroom? Shivers surge up my spine. Ew.

Bed jumping. A few years later I was with my cousin. We were jumping back and forth from his bed to his brother's. Then, we had an idea. What if we jumped from the bed, to the dresser, to the other bed? BRILLIANT.

Less than a few minutes later, I sat on the bed holding my head. My cousin pulled my hands from my head and fell back. I leaned down and told him it was OK. He turned his head from me, peering from the corner of his eye as he told me to go to the mirror. I did. Blood streamed down my face, framing my eyes, cheeks and dripping off my chin. My aunt and uncle ran into the room after hearing the screams. Not mine. My wussie cousin's. They approached me.

I screamed at them to LEAVE ME ALONE and held my hands in front of me, closing my eyes and willing the gash on my head to close up.

A dozen or so stitches later, I was fine.

Track meet. I was racing across the field to make the final call of my race. POW. Very large shot putter nailed me. I fell flat. On a row of hurdles. Coaches and athletes gathered around me. The coach motioning for the trainer.

I'M FINE. I screamed at them (by this time I was older and felt screaming "I'M FINE" was a lot nicer than "LEAVE ME ALONE!"). I rubbed the blood off my knee. Gash. Great. My side hurt and I couldn't move the fingers on my left (or was it right?) hand. I had a race to get to.

I jumped up. Ran my race. Lost. But boy did I look great doing it. Limping over the finish line, clutching my side and gritting my teeth so hard I couldn't feel my jaw.

I was an idiot. Cracked rib. Sprained fingers. And a knee that STILL is in desperate need of an overhaul.

And, as my coach greeted me as I crossed the line, I stammered through my gritted teeth, "I'M FINE!"

Since then, I have had unfortunate encounters with knives, a car trunk hood, dogs (I like them, they didn't like me), other people (black eye, he looked worse when it was over), cement walls (I swear, I didn't see it), steps (I saw them, they just decided to move at the last minute).

Regardless, I dealt with them all the same way. LEAVE ME ALONE. That goes for when I'm sick, too. LET ME TAKE CARE OF IT. I hated people babying me (I won't lie, labor was a slightly different story).

This all brings us to yesterday.

Yesterday evening we headed to a local city park (not much of a city and really, not much of a park--but that is for a different post). There were kids crawling all over the playground equipment. They were slide SURFING, swinging from the polls, jumping on one another and tackling each other to the ground, racing around as if they were the only ones on the playground (new walkers beware!). My nerves were screaming in agony. Chaos would never, ever describe the scene on the playground. Mass casualty waiting to happen would be more appropriate.

JR loved it. Of course . . .

Earlier in the day a friend and I had been talking about how trips to the park were now ridden with anxiety. The way JR and his little friend played on the equipment was enough to have me reaching for blood pressure pills I do not own. He had no fear. While I was happy to see he had a bravery gene, it didn't stop me sucking in breath and biting my lips while readying myself to catch him as he free fell from the top of the jungle gym.

But later. It was like we had entered a war zone. The only thing missing, firearms (I think . . . ).

Puny JR (and just about every other toddler) was nothing but a potential casualty. Time to get his tough on.

After watching him precariously navigate the jungle gym (AKA DEATH TRAP), he went over to the little maze of tiny houses, doors and windows that was perfect for a little guy his size.

It was peaceful over there amongst the soft wood chips and weather-stained plastic pieces. The big kids stayed swaying, swinging, and performing other gymnastic routines on the other side of the playground. Save for a few other toddlers, we were it. I was cool with it, but JR's gaze kept shifting to the chaos to our right.

And then, they came. In droves. Kids bigger than me (minus my awesome swelling belly, of course) came rushing through the tiny maze. Toddlers stood frozen as they were rocked and shocked from the intrusion. Parents rushed to the maze, searching for their toddlers.

JR stood in the middle of it all.

And then, it happened. He was flattened, on his belly, face buried in wood chips. I rushed to him, my heart falling to my feet. The big kids stopped as a linebacker father cursed at them to FREEZE! Several parents started toward JR who was already making his way back to his feet.

"NO!" he screamed at me as I bent down in front of him. I took a step back, evaluating. Another mom stepped toward him (I'm thinking she was ready to swoop him in her arms--I knew better, he's never been one for kissy, kissy my boo boo).

"NO!" he shouted at her as he held both of his hands up. By this time the crowd was dispersing and the big kids ran off to parts unknown.

"JR, can mommy help you?" I asked as I made an attempt to brush the dirt and wood chips from his cheeks. I swear that he spit dirt and chips from the side of his mouth, sorta like Clint Eastwood did, cringe and squint, in one of his early westerns. It was . . . odd. Tough, though. I liked it.

"NO!" he shouted once more. And with that, he ran. And ran. And ran.

No hugs. No tears. (No bumps, bruises, cuts or breaks . . . ).

All I got was a defiant "NO!" from that sweet face, those angelic little bowed lips. "NO!"

Geesh. I wonder where he gets that from?

No idea . . .


I am desperate to rant about the "parents" who didn't bother watching their kids. I became that mom yesterday, the one who is pulling a kid off of another kid, the mom who is telling kids to stop climbing ON TOP of the tunnel that is suspended in the AIR. The mom who is asking kids not to KICK other kids in the face even when they tell me "WE'RE JUST HAVING FUN, LADY" accompanied by the EYE ROLL. The mom who catches some other person's kid as he hangs from the poll, his grip threatening to fail him. The one who glares around at the parents lounging on the benches, enjoying a cigarette and a chatting with friends.

Yeah, I became that mom. And you know what, I don't even care if they label me the "crazy, freak mom." Sticks and stones, ya know . . .

I know many of you have been there . . . and now, I totally get it.

EDITED: I have to give a shout out to Tranny at Tranny Head Rawks. She wrote a post about coddling kids and playgrounds that'll have you laughing, nodding and sayin' "Hell, yeah" when you're through .

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Walking Away

You know, your hair will always do "that thing." Don't bother even trying to smooth it out.

I feel the hard bristles of my brush press against my tender scalp. Harder. And harder still. I hold the brush under the tap and run in through my hair in one more meager attempt to smooth the twisted and knotted pieces. The pieces that remind me I will never have the hair I see in glossy spreads in magazines I really shouldn't read (my fragile ego begs me, pleads with me not to).

I turn on the faucet, cup my hands underneath the flowing water and angrily splash it on my hair. I forcefully pat my hair down into flat, lifeless piles. The kids at school would expect nothing less.

And I walk away.

You aren't that smart. You've worked on it long enough. Give up.

My pencil taps on the book while I suck on my finger, readying to bite the nail that never was. I pray for some whisper of an answer to appear. But nothing does. My mind stops. Freezes as my empty stare falls on the calculator I have no idea how to use.

Calculus. It it nothing but jumbled letters, numbers and lines on a page. I squeeze my eyes shut. I try again. Again. And once more to no avail. I got nothing . . .

My fists tighten, I ball up the blank paper in my hands and throw it to the floor.
I push the book and calculator across the table and wait to hear them both fall hard to the floor, bent and broken.

And I walk away.

Really? You think he actually likes you? Why would he ever like you?

I can see him from across the large hall in the center court of the mall. His crooked smile, the way he shuffles his feet and shrugs one shoulder when he talks. He can't see me. But I see him. Everything he does. I hear everything he says. He wouldn't know me if he stepped on me.

I get it. I know it. But I just want that moment, one simple exchange. If I could just get him to see me . . .

That would be stupid.

I don't make any attempt to get his attention. I just go back to making drinks at the fruit juice stand that sits squarely in the court. Without warning, there he is--standing only a few feet from me. I smooth my apron, conscious of the orange pulp and slimy banana smeared on the front. I push my hair behind my ears and tip my hat down just enough.

"Hi," he smiles as he says this. Half shrug.
He leans across the counter. He stares and waits.

Don't get any ideas. He's just being nice.

"Hi," I say.
My chest filling with small shiny pebbles of hope.

He just wants a drink, stupid girl. This isn't about you.

And I walk away.

One day he's going to hate you. You're going to screw this all up and he's going to hate you.

I swing him in my arms and bring him gently to the ground. He jumps from one sockless foot to the other in time with the music. "Spin, spin, spin," I shout to him.

He spins as his eyes try desperately to stay focused on me. His heavy laughter rises and falls as I pull him to me, lift him in the air and we spin together.

His hands reach around my neck and his cheek presses against mine.
The music stops but we do not.

He's just a baby now. But wait. He'll have you figured out in no time.

This time I smile. No walking away. Not anymore.
My eyes focus on him. His eyes, the tiny lashes and deep sea blue that peaks from beneath.

I lift him up as he reaches down for my face, cupping my cheeks in his hands. The music streams around us, the beat catching our feet.

Her words have echoed in my head long enough. It is time for her to just . . .

walk away.

* * *

My own voice. I could be so cruel with the inner dialogue. I tortured myself with an endless barrage of criticisms.
I still do, sometimes . . . don't I?

I wasn't good enough. Smart enough. Pretty enough.

I was never ENOUGH. Yet. All along. I was just enough.
Go figure.

I just had to shut
her up long enough to figure it out. And I am STILL figuring it out . . .

I am my own worst enemy. For so long, I was the one who snatched victory out of my own hands, tossing it to the ground and then stomping on it for added drama.

I could spend thousands for a therapist to tell me the why and how. But I just want her gone. I can probably take a stab at the why and how anyway. But therapy? Why bother?

I just know I hate the bitch who whispers in my ear. Which is why I've told her (and I have to tell her again from time to time, since she is like an unwanted relative with nowhere to go who insists on mooching my Thin Mints and Swedish Fish) to get lost. Take a hike. F*@% OFF.

I'm curious. Am I the only one who stares in the mirror from time to time, reasoning with the face that stares back? Telling her that she'll be OK? Telling her to have faith?

Telling her . . .

NOT to walk away?

Edited at 10:45 AM: I started writing this post in the early morning hours. For some reason, it is when I become drenched in reflection. I'm blaming the hormones, the all-cereal diet, the inescapable reality of motherhood and taking stock of where you've been, where you are and where you just might be headed. What a freakin' crazy ride . . .

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Eyes Like Mine

* May 2007 *

The bell rang and within moments the sound of scooting desks, broken chatter and hallway traffic filled the room. Lunch.

I could see her approach my desk as I shuffled homework papers around into various nonsensical piles. Organized chaos at its best.

"Mrs. L? Can I talk to you about something?" I remember how this piece of hair would hang in her eyes, how she would nervously pull it back over and over again. I wanted so much to give her a clip or something to make it stop falling. It distracted me.

But this time, it didn't. I just wanted to reach out and pull the piece back for her. Do something for her. I had no idea why.

She sat down in the over sized office chair, the one I confiscated from the Dumpster and tried to upholster with frayed denim scraps. The one that smelled of hairy wet dog when the first hint of summer entered the room. But the students loved that chair. Loved how it would rock back, the headrest practically touching the floor, and then lurch forward without warning. They fed on the rush of near death by office chair, I supposed.

I took a seat in the tiny chair with foam padding and scratched plastic arms. We sat for a moment in silence in the small space between my two mismatched desks, piles of paper and the planning that I would never get to that day or the next.

Our knees touched as she leaned forward to whisper her secret.

"So, I'm going to have a baby," she bit back her lips as her eyes peeked through her lashes. Cautious. Hopeful.

Why was she telling me? The students and I, we got along. We had established mutual respect. But, I was not their BFF, their mother, their counselor. I was not the warm and fuzzy teacher with cute drawings and tiny squeak toys on my desk (OK, I was, but it was because they made me laugh). I wasn't the one who hugged to comfort, gently touched hands in encouragement or patted heads in recognition.

"My mom knows. And, I'm keeping it" she said. I hoped she didn't hear the escaping sigh as it limped from my chest. She wasn't looking to me to make decisions for her. This talk had nothing to do with who knows what or what to do with the little life inside her.

She was 16. Her hair fell to her shoulders, hiding the tiny tears in the seam of her t-shirt. Her hands, motionless, rested in her lap. I pictured those hands as that of a child, flawless, chubby. Fat crayons. White paper. Dreams filled with color. Dreams left unfulfilled.

She didn't look at me, but I could see her chin tighten, tiny little dimples awaiting a cry.

I did something I never do. I reached for her, my hands resting on hers.

"How did this happen?" I asked her, not realizing the absurdity of such a question.

A smile curled around her cheek. Crooked. Knowing. "Well, Mrs. L, " she looked at my swollen belly, "I think you know."

Oh, yeah. A halfhearted attempt to suppress a giggle. Screw it . . . my brain cells decided to take leave and wander off the premises. Excellent timing.

"I don't want her to be like me." And there it was. The sobs came fast. She buried her head in my shoulder, her tears wetting my maternity top. Me, soaking in a cruel not-yet-realized irony.

In only moments, between heaving breaths, she let her fears form a puddle in her hands. Her mother had her at 15, never finished school, never married, never held down a job, had no clue what to do with her baby daughter. And now, the daughter, seeing her future in her mother's history. Her hands, tight-fisted, rested on the top of her tiny belly.

"My grandmother. My mother. Me. We're so messed up, Mrs. L. So messed up." I closed my eyes, images of my own mother. My own grandmother. The histories that collided with regret and guilt. The histories that shaped my life.

I understood. The baby boy in my own belly moved. A reminder.

"You are not your mother. You are not your grandmother. You are you." Silly little platitudes, as if sewn on a cloth and framed on a wall or written in pink on a cue card.

She deserved more than this. I closed my mouth and leaned back in my seat. She didn't need words of wisdom. She just needed . . .

"A girl. You are having a baby girl," I said simply with a hint of a smile and a tilt of the head.

"Yes," she smiled and her fists relaxed as she smoothed the t-shirt, following the rounded curve to her lap.

I was not trained for this. No classes. No workshops. No . . .

"You'll love her. With everything you have, you will love her. History doesn't have to be repeated." I reached out again, cradling her hands in mine. She spoke in whispers, sharing stories of her past, the fears that wrestled away her youth, the hopes she had for the tiny heart that beat near her own. I sat. Silent. Listening. Blinking back tears.

I knew the challenges that awaited her, as did she. She didn't need a lecture. She didn't need advice. She just needed me to listen.

She was giving birth to a baby. A baby girl. A baby girl whose future she saw resting within histories that were not her own. Would this baby girl travel down the same path as her mother? Her grandmother and so many of the women before her?

Would she have a chance?

"You will love her . . . "

More tears and more whispers passed between us before she said goodbye. I had only a few minutes left for lunch. But I wasn't hungry. Instead, I leaned back in the denim-patched chair and thought about the baby boy readying himself for the world. My own history, the biting memories, the tender scars, crept in, clouding my reverie. But I pushed back.

I closed my eyes and thought of the future, my hand finding comfort in the warmth of the life that moved beneath it.

* March 2009 *

My foot tapped, rhythmless. I sucked in air as I checked my phone again. What time is it?

What day is it?

My fists clenched. Unclenched. I begged my body to relax. Pleaded with it.

"You're having a girl." I smiled when she said the words even though I knew exactly what she was going to say. Her little body wiggled in fuzzy lines and curves on the screen. A girl.

A mother knows.

I'm going to have a girl. A baby girl.

JR and his daddy had already headed to the car (celebratory donuts in order), carrying the news with them. I was left, waiting. A doctor to see, an exam to be performed, a heartbeat to hear.

I was alone in a room full of expectant moms. The chatter was deafening. Joy bounced around the room (aided by the energy of anticipation and a healthy dose of fear).

I'm so happy.

But I can't breath. The smile, fading.

The endless questions, the brazen fears, the unruly angst paraded around in my mind, assaulting any small shred of excitement that dared to dwell.

I don't want to wonder if she'll have my frailties. I don't want to wonder if the mistakes of the past will rest with her. I don't want the histories of my mother, my grandmother to be her legacy.

I can hear the loud cacophony of support ringing in my ears . . . Words of encouragement. Words of love. "You'll be OK." "Everything will be fine." "You'll be a great mom!" But these are thoughts that were destined to be mine. I pushed them back for far too long.

But right now, I just want to wonder if she'll be a lover of words. If she'll get lost in her daydreams. If she'll pull apart her Oreo and lick the frosting. If she will paint her toes pink or red. If she'll have her father's lips. If her giggle will sound like JR's. If she'll have eyes like mine.

That's all I want to think about.

That . . . and how I will love her. With everything I have.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I'm not . . . but did I get your attention?

I'm in. I'm here. But, things are changing. I'm going to be out of commission starting tomorrow and into the weekend. My blog will go private, but it will ONLY be temporary.

No big deal. I just need to do a little housekeeping. You know, wash dishes, do the laundry, dust.

All the stuff I love. Intensely.

That said. I'll be hopping around, catching up, getting reacquainted (a girl can't clean all day, can she?).

Until then . . . take care.

Direct all your burning questions to laskigal AT gmail DOT com.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

PSF: The Thin Mint Mooch

Yes, I am posting a PhotoStory Friday on Saturday. I have my reasons . . .

* * *

The sun . . . it was out. A light wind rustled the trees (the promise of a bud or two dancing in the wind). J and I peeked through the slats on the deck, staring at the deer that had gathered at the foot of the hill behind our house. I wasn't sure if he saw them or not, as they still blended in with the matted brown background, hints of green springing up around them.

We pulled out the bubbles. He laughed as he tried to catch them, then looked up at me as if to say, "Seriously, why should I exhaust myself if you are just going to continue to blow more?" He parked himself right in front of me. Raising his hand to catch them before they even had a chance to savor freedom. I hope he won't become the spoiler of fun. The kid who cocks a suspicious eyebrow as the magician pulls a quarter from behind an ear or detaches a thumb.

I sometimes like being clueless, in awe, enraptured. This is where J may be more like his engineer father . . . but I digress.

The phone rang and I stepped just inside the sliding glass doors off the deck. Within what seemed to be seconds J let out a scream. I had just hung up the phone and turned to see him rushing inside and swatting at his hands.

I knew what had happened in an instant.

They had been hibernating. The beasts. They had been locked in crevices deep in the ground, cracks in the siding. But, the warmth has prodded them awake. There was not the slightest hint of them only moments before. But now. They had attacked my son.

In only an instant I went from a calm, even-tempered, patient, relaxed individual to a raging lunatic with nothing but insecticide on my mind.

Wasp. You. Are. DEAD. Don't even try hiding.

Within only seconds I grabbed an icepack, planted it on J's hand and hunted down the attacker and reduced him to a smear on the bottom of my shoe.

I returned my attention to J who sat rigid in my arms, tears running down his cheeks, screams continuing to come out of his rounded mouth. He looked up at me as if he barely recognized me. Had the murder of the insidious bug done damage to my innocent child?


It was me.

I was still screaming. Ranting. Spewing odd expletives ("flippin' fudge buckets") while damning every flying creature with a stinger to a life roasting in hell fires.

I'd lost it.

J started sucking in breath as I tried to calm him. He wiped at his nose, snot smearing across his face as it mixed with his tears. I hugged him and told him it would all be okay that mommy was right here.

He cried harder.

The next few minutes had me examining every square inch of him. Checking for even a hint of a stinger or where a stinger may have at one time been. I was frantically on the phone to my pediatrician (lunch time), the ER (bring him in), my mother (take him to the ER--"Iwilljumpinmycarthisinstantandtravel300milestocomfortmypoorgrandson"--yeah, that's just what I needed), my husband (voice mail--we won't even go into the message I left . . . not suitable for even an average audience), a friend with a toddler (not home--how dare she?!).

By this time J was calming down. I was no longer screaming. There was a baking soda paste on his hands and his head was resting on my shoulder.
Freak mommy stopped freaking out. (I need to add something here. I screamed for at least 5 minutes--as did poor J. I would have thought it would have brought at least a neighbor to my door, maybe even the police. I was so thankful that my screams didn't. But thinking about it later, I am wondering if by chance I am ever attacked by some crazed serial killer if my neighbors will bother coming to my rescue. I'm beginning to wonder . . . ).

A call back. The pediatrician. She was calm. She even laughed as she said, "Those first stings are usually way worse for mom than for baby."


I had no idea.

For the next hour we sat on the couch. Where I allowed him to mooch Thin Mints while he watched Elmo. Yes, we don't often watch TV, nor do we eat while watching TV (I mean, that's what I'm going to tell him), and we don't mooch mommy's Thin Mints.

But somehow, at that moment, he could have whatever he wanted . . .
and with that, psycho mommy took a really deep breath.

* * *

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