Unanchored Thoughts

Bits and pieces of musings about family, friends, social issues, and whatever else travels through my head without a purpose.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Just What the Doctor Ordered

Last night I went out with my RESOLVE friends. We hadn't really been together since the annual conference in April so it was nice to reconnect. I had been moaning about going....I'm so NEEDED on the homefront, the drive to Bethesda is irritating, Rock Bottom Brewery is boring. But, I had a commitment and went. How wrong I was on all my excuses. My family NEEDED me to get OUT of the house. The drive to Bethesda was long and quiet and peaceful and gave me time to think and reflect. The booth at RBB was comfy, the service good, and we sat for hours without any hint of over-staying our welcome. And, these are people who know how hard it is to face infertility and how hard it is to parent a toddler and how hard it is to struggle with the parenting when it was the one thing I longed for for years. So, while we each walk through this world in different shoes it was comforting and fun and silly to connect with people who have tread the same ground as me on the journey to and through parenting.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Quick Update

Thank you all for your support, calls, and kind words. We, I mean I, seem to be better right now. I have several running theories about why we are out-of-whack. A couple of my latest...

1. This is a problem about ME, not Graeme.
2. I'm wracked with mommy guilt (damn that Catholic upbringing) and compensating in ways that aren't very healthy or productive for my family.
3. Sleep deprivation is chipping away at my patience and confidence to parent.
4. It's been exactly a year since Knox passed away and the milestone is difficult, causing some underlying anxiety and pain in the household.
5. I like to be liked and therefore can't so NO to my child, or deny him any requests, and then I'm resentful at all the pulls and tugs on my physical and mental self.

#2 is the one I'm fixated on today. But right now it's back to the paycheck job.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Searching for Help

We were up no fewer than 6 times last night between the boys, including twice with Graeme screaming and throwing things around his room. At one point he was kicking me and trying to push his furniture over. This does not seem normal to me. He can't be happy. We struggled through the morning with him and while I was feeding Ian at 7:30 I decided to just call the pediatrician. I'll admit to being close to tears. They had an appointment with our primary guy at 11 so I took the boys to school, came home to do some work so that I can get paid at my day job and while it's great that I have some flexibility I also was given a new, not-so-fun assignment because I'm told that my current "time allocation" allows for it even though I hit the ground running when I get to the office and don't stop until the very last minute and even then I can't get all the work done but who cares since the environment isn't really all that important right now, but this post isn't about my job now is it? I was able to talk to the doctor without G present (he played with the nurse). I felt like a crazy mom who just can't control her son, but I figured that if that's what I am then I might as well put it out there and get some help. He examined G, who I'm pretty sure has a sinus infection, but the doc said it's just a cold. And, then I talked to the doc some more. He tested G for diabetes (doesn't have it) and we talked about bi-polar disorder (pretty sure he doesn't have it because he's able to "contain" his fits to home). So, we talked about him just being a "difficult child." He gave me a book to read, with the creative title of The Difficult Child and told me to find a psychologist who can help us with some strategies for dealing with him. I sent him a list of psychologists who will take our insurance and he's supposed to get back to me with some recommendations. This all feels so damn crazy and I have to wonder if it's because we don't get any fucking sleep, which you'll notice is happening right now. Ian has decided that he just wants to be up at 4AM today. Graeme knows I'm having a hard time with him. I can see it in his eyes. The last thing in the world I want to do is let him down, but there are lots of times where I just don't have the reserves to handle uncontrollable yelling, kicking, pushing, shoving and I just get mad, mad, mad at him for making this so difficult. But, he's also teaching me more about myself than I've learned in my 39 years and I'm just hoping and praying that we all pop out of this experience as better people. That's my job, right? And, probably a lot more important for the planet than the stupid assignment I just received.

Monday, May 26, 2008


The wheels on the Maguire bus fell off this past week and seem to be rolling around town with no signs of reappearing. The boys both had colds at the end of the week. I was home with them on Thursday and Steve stayed home on Friday and we paid our pediatrician a visit on both days. At Friday's visit Ian was diagnosed with his 6th ear infection, though by now they all just blend together so it's easier to just say that his ears have been infected since about January and he just gets a daily antibiotic like some people take a multi-vitamin (he gets one of those too). Because of the ear issue he doesn't like to be horizontal (my understanding is that the pressure builds when you are lying down). To help him sleep we prop him up - usually on us. But, he has the annoying habit of rubbing his head back and forth on you, kind of like he's trying to itch his forehead (maybe he is, I swear he has allergies already even though he's supposed to be hooked up to my own defective immune system - I'm allergic to a lot of crap - through b-milk). And, when he itches his forehead the pacifier pops out and then he starts crying. This happens no fewer than 8 million times a night. So, we don't sleep. Seriously, I don't think I've had more than 45 minutes straight sleep in months.

But...back to the wheels.

Graeme, as you may recall from previous posts, can be a pain in the a--. Well, when he's sick it's all magnified. He was pretty pathetic from Thursday to Saturday. By Sunday he was feeling better, but he was absolutely unbearable to be around. I feel as though something is not firing correctly, or there's a chemical imbalance, or something. He gets out of control dozens of times a day at everything from the spoon I give him for cereal to turning off the TV (which is rarely on for just this reason, but when he's sick we rely on it more frequently). I often will take him outside when he has these fits. It's a combination of hoping the fresh air will break the cycle, getting him away from the trigger, keeping the house quiet for other occupants and our neighbors, etc. My dog-walking neighbors saw me in my pajamas at the crack of dawn many times this past weekend because these fits were non-stop. By fits I mean full-blown, top-of-the lungs screaming for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, along with kicking, pushing, shoving, throwing. Usually about 20-40 minutes into I can offer up my arms in a kind of peacefully way and he'll collapse into me, exhausted. Getting to the collapsing point is challenging and frustrating and I don't always perform my best in the process. These fits have also started to bleed into our nights. Last night he was up at 2AM with all sorts of issues and Steve ended up sleeping in his room in the toddler bed just to get him to stay put. It's to the point now, though, where we really can't live like this. I can't even find a way to inject humor into this post to make it entertaining for you (and me). We need serious help. The fact that I'm looking forward to work for a break tells me that something isn't right on the homefront. I'm really not sure where to turn, so I'm going to start with the pediatrician. My expectations are low, frankly. I'm sure it all just sounds like typical 2 to 3 year old temper tantrums. If that's the case, then we just need some parenting guidance. Either way, something has got to change here.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Trying to be Cool

I'm a bit on the socially awkward side, or at least that's how I perceive myself. Probably not the coolest person on the planet, a bit nerdy, intellectual snob, not very quick witted, don't make friends easily, but a good person. So, in an attempt to be cool (or because I have so much free time these days) I decided to try socializing like the kids do these days by opening a Facebook account. Steve got me started on this. He googled a person and their Facebook page came up so he joined to learn more about this person. And then he started getting requests from old high school buds to be "friends." I was totally intrigued so I opened an account too. And, since I've been obsessed, intrigued, fascinated, and dumbfounded by this "social networking." This afternoon I spent an hour searching for "friends," which makes me feel about as pathetic as I did in high school when I didn't get an invitation to the coolest party in town. However, I was oddly obsessed and couldn't stop myself from typing in name after name and getting excited when I found someone I knew. Steve came home and I happily reported that I now have 18 friends. Wow, I feel so cool. And then I see people who have like 500 million friends. Oh come on, I bet my friends are more meaningful than your friends.

The other day I invited our oldest (in terms of years of service as Maguire affiliates and not chronological age) friends over for a BBQ this weekend. Before they even responded Steve reported that they were going to the Cape this weekend and wouldn't be able to make it...information he gleaned from Vaughn's Facebook page. So, here we are "friends" and we can totally socialize and keep up on each other's lives without even opening our mouths or speaking a word to each other. I feel so hip.

Really, though, I feel pathetic. And, not because I don't have a billion friends, but because this really doesn't feel as satisfying as a warm hug from an old (or new) friend and a cold beer and some good conversation with eye contact.

I can't say that I won't stop searching for "friends" though.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Mother's Day Essay

The essay below was sent to me by a friend. I forwarded it around to a bunch of mom-friends along with this intro. It feels like a good message to post here, in what is turning into a parenting blog. As much as I do want to scream sometimes, I also want to remember how intense and real and alive this feels. (Apologies to those who have read these words already.)

The past few weeks have been particularly intense for us. As difficult as life seems to be right now (after Graeme has hit Ian for the 5th time and drawn all over his arms with a sharpie and demanded juice, no not orange, apple, no not apple, grape, no not juice, milk, and Ian hasn't slept more than 1 hour at a stretch for weeks because he's on his 4th ear infection followed by roseola and just wants to be held all the time and I just want to SCREAM sometimes because I seem to live with a low-grade headache that makes me wonder if parenting is giving me a brain tumor or just testing the limits of personal strength), I wouldn't trade this life for the world.

For All My Favorite Moms
by Anna Quindlen, Newsweek Columnist and Author

All my babies are gone now. I say this not in sorrow but in disbelief. I take great satisfaction in what I have today: three almost-adults, two taller than I am, one closing in fast. Three people who read the same books I do and have learned not to be afraid of disagreeing with me in their opinion of them, who sometimes tell vulgar jokes that make me laugh until I choke and cry, who need razor blades and shower gel and privacy, who want to keep their doors closed more than I like. Who, miraculously, go to the bathroom, zip up their jackets and move food from plate to mouth all by themselves. Like the trick soap I bought for the bathroom with a rubber ducky at its center, the baby is buried deep within each, barely discernible except through the unreliable haze of the past.

Everything in all the books I once poured over is finished for me now. Penelope Leach., T. Berry Brazelton., Dr. Spock. The ones on sibling rivalry and sleeping through the night and early-childhood education, all grown obsolete. Along with Goodnight Moon and Where the Wild Things Are, they are battered, spotted, well used. But I suspect that if you flipped the pages dust would rise like memories. What those books taught me, finally, and what the women on the playground taught me, and the well-meaning relations --what they taught me, was that they couldn't really teach me very much at all.

Raising children is presented at first as a true-false test, then becomes multiple choice, until finally, far along, you realize that it is an endless essay. No one knows anything. One child responds well to positive reinforcement, another can be managed only with a stern voice and a timeout. One child is toilet trained at 3, his sibling at 2. When my first child was born, parents were told to put baby to bed on his belly so that he would not choke on his own spit-up. By the time my last arrived, babies were put down on their backs because of research on sudden infant death syndrome. To a new parent this ever-shifting certainty is terrifying, and then soothing. Eventually you must learn to trust yourself. Eventually the research will follow. I remember 15 years ago poring over one of Dr. Brazelton's wonderful books on child development, in which he describes three different sorts of infants: average, quiet, and active. I was looking for a sub-quiet codicil for an 18-month old who did not walk. Was there something wrong with his fat little legs? Was there something wrong with his tiny little mind? Was he developmentally delayed, physically challenged? Was I insane? Last year he went to China . Next year he goes to college. He can talk just fine. He can walk, too.

Every part of raising children is humbling, too. Believe me, mistakes were made. They have all been enshrined in the "Remember-When-Mom-Did" Hall of Fame. The outbursts, the temper
tantrums, the bad language, mine, not theirs. The times the baby fell off the bed. The times I arrived late for preschool pickup. The nightmare sleepover. The horrible summer camp. The day when the youngest came barreling out of the classroom with a 98 on her geography test, and I responded, "What did you get wrong?" (She insisted I include that.) The time I ordered food at the McDonald's drive-through speaker and then drove away without picking it up from the window. (They all insisted I include that.) I did not allow them to watch the Simpsons for the first two seasons. What was I thinking?

But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them, sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less. Even today I'm not sure what worked and what didn't, what was me and what was simply life. When they were very small, I suppose I thought someday they would become who they were because of what I'd done. Now I suspect they simply grew into their true selves because they demanded in a thousand ways that I back off and let them be. The books said to be relaxed and I was often tense, matter-of-fact and I was sometimes over the top. And look how it all turned out. I wound up with the three people I like best in the world who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity. That's what the books never told me. I was bound and determined to learn from the experts. It just took me a while to figure out who the experts were.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

New Wheels

Mama and the boys got a new set of wheels for Mother's Day. We are so excited about the new ride. Graeme slept soundly through the first jog and Ian babbled happily. I should be running laps around Steve any day now since I'm pushing an extra 100 pounds (35 for Graeme, 15 for Ian and 50 for the stroller) on my runs.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Pacis are for Mouths

Graeme has been driving me nuts lately. It seems every month or so we go through a week of pure hell. Whining, defiance, throwing, hitting, biting, yelling, crying....you name it. This week, while Ian has a double-ear infection and roseola Graeme has head-butt him, pushed him off the couch, squished his belly, and taken every toy he's tried to play with. We are totally worn out. Usually by the time it breaks I find myself wondering about all the other things I'd rather be doing, like shoving bamboo shoots up my finger nails or cleaning the grease out of oven vent with a q-tip or writing a dissertation (the last time I remember truly hating the moment). Usually about 2 weeks or so after an episode I zero in on the cause. In early April I decided it was because I had given him too long a leash and needed to reign him in. I had basically tossed in the towel on parenting because everything was a battle, which only made for more battles. Kids need boundaries, yada yada yada. Well, it seemed to work, sort of. I don't know what his deal is now, but he's a 35 pound pain in the ass. Usually in the middle of one of these "events" Steve and I give each other the "throw the f---- pacifiers out the window" look because G screams for them in the midst of his hourly sobs and we get sick of the battle. Well, last night I pulled the "if you don't brush your teeth I'm taking paci" threat. He wouldn't brush, so I took the paci. And he started screaming for 2 hours. Steve, bless him, had the patience to sit through it. I was dreaming up ways to escape, but still keep my really cool Mother's Day present.

Today G asked for the paci a few times and I was able to divert him, but decided that maybe this was the time to get rid of them for good. I don't want to just go cold-turkey. It doesn't feel right to take away his favorite comfort with little warning. So, I decided to take a tip from the Dockins' and told him that there is a special store where you can buy toys with pacis. The idea is that we buy a toy for him in advance and arrange a "deal" with the store owner, and then he goes for the actual pick-up and "pays" for the toy with his pacis. G liked the idea of buying something with his pacis and wanted to go right away to get a Spider Man. We have to wait for daddy, I said. Steve is game for the idea. So, at bedtime tonight he asked for a paci. Steve gave it to him, but reminded him that we are going to use the pacis to buy a special toy. "Pacis are for mouths, Daddy, not toys," was his reply. Sigh. He's on to us....again.

My Poor Feet

One of my favorite things about the warmer weather is that I can break out my nice collection of fun shoes....wedges, flip flops, sporty water shoes, birks, strappy sandals, etc. However, I dread the month it takes for my previously confined toes to get used to the elements and rubbing on the leather (or canvas or pleather or whatever) in the summer footwear. For the past few weeks my poor pinky toes have been rubbed raw and are working hard to develop a callous or two so that we can withstand an entire season of show.

Today I found myself in the unusual position of having about 15 1/2 minutes to myself. Shall I caulk the bathtub (a running project in our house, it seems) or paint my toe nails? I went for the latter (we can continue showering in the basement despite the inconvenience, but my toes needed attention NOW). I pulled out the supplies and did a quick in-home pedicure. I'm pretty good at it, I must say. Buffed the nails and everything. I was proud of the result and headed downstairs to do a quick check on email before my peace was over and on the way I ran smack dab into a Fisher Price special and scraped the polish on the right big toe. Holly F----- Shit, why the h--- am I even TRYING to look decent. I'm a mom of two young-uns. Who am I kidding with pedicured digits? In order to dispel any myths that I can do it all - pedicure and parent - I'm walking around with half-painted toes for the next few months.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Now that we are feeding Ian more than just mama's milk we have the unwelcome side effect of stinky poop. I forgot about that part and am all the more thankful that I waited until he was 6 months old to introduce solids. Isn't it kind of weird that food tastes so good yet produces such a nasty waste odor? Yet, breastmilk, which I believe has a pretty bland taste produces such a fine fragrant waste product. Is this what happens to my analytical skills now that I'm doing the mom-thing? I had hopes of using this blog to explore all sorts of social issues and interesting economic challenges that used to run through my brain. And now all I can seem to muster up is the irony of smelly poop.