Bee Mine

8 Feb

I was whining to my mother in law on the phone yesterday– telling her about the frantic pace of my life these days, about the weird nature of my sleep schedule, about how everything just feels so hard.  And she reminded me to take care of myself a little bit more which seems like simple enough advice but I find it very hard to follow.

So this morning I decided to heed her advice and work out. I did a fitness blender routine at home because I didn’t want to fix my hair  or fix Gus’s hair or drive to the gym or pay for the child care there.  The dogs were so puzzled and concerned.  They both laid at my feet impeding my workout and sort of whimpered. But I persisted and worked up a sweat. And it was good.

And I thought maybe I’d just keep the ball rolling on things that make me feel good and check in here. It’s been a long while and I do enjoy writing so much.  I’m a bit rusty though, so maybe I’ll just do a ten things lists.  Ten things about life right now.

  1. I keep having a recurring dream about work — I am taking care of a premie who is in an incubator.  And in report I learn that the baby both gets and gives a powerful electric shock any time any part of it’s body touches the incubator.  So every assessment is terrifying.  And every time his little foot or arm flies up during a diaper change or an NG placement, this huge arc of light fills my dream and we both get zapped.
  2. Sam was stung by a yellow jacket inside our house on Super Bowl Sunday.  That truly happened.  How was that bee alive ? And inside our home?  And inside his shirt?  In the middle of February?  I am so confused.
  3. Craig bought us tickets to a full day of screenings of Best Picture nominees.  So we are seeing 5 movies in one day.  I can’t wait.  Think how much buttered popcorn I can eat!! There are actually two days of screenings, but we can’t go to the other day.  So we’re going to piecemeal it as best we can. The one I most want to see and is not a part of our marathon day is LadyBird.
  4. The other day I worked a 16 hour shift, then went home and slept for about 5 hours, then had a regular day with my kids, then went and worked from 7pm- 3 am, then came home and dozed on the couch for 2 hours while listening to Tom Segura and then went and had an EGD done to see if my reflux may be the cause of my chronic cough (results: no reflux. chronic cough still a complete freaking mystery) and then I came home and slept for 5 hours or so and then I got up and got ready and took Sam to a basketball game where I stood behind the bleachers watching and willing myself not to collapse (whether from exhaustion or the drugs from the procedure I do not know). I came home feeling irate with Craig because that makes no sense at all. And he gently suggested that maybe I should go straight to bed. I glared at him and he sat by me, steadfast, deftly leaping over each tripwire I set in my irrational exhausted rage.  When I finally relented, he tucked me into bed sweetly and never mentioned my childishness again.
  5. Henry is obsessed with wearing cowboy boots.  I imagine we’re going to need to cut off the tips of his boots to allow his toes to poke through the ends before he will allow us to get rid of them.
  6. We are all crossing our fingers for a whopper of a snow day tomorrow.  We need a good sledding day in this family.
  7. I have been giving a good deal of thought lately to the presence of adult cliques.  They are so prevalent and it’s so so so so weird. It’s almost as weird as the bee in our house during the SuperBowl.  Just that a thing like that exists at a time and place that you thought you had gotten past it. I thought bees were done, both literally and metaphorically.  The number of grown women whose purpose seems to be to huddle up, gossip, and exclude others surprises me. Just stingers out and at the ready. I find it equally parts hilarious and depressing.
  8. I took on my first primary assignment at work.  Which means that I take care of this child most times that I go to work. I felt compelled in a very strong way to take this child as a primary assignment and I’m glad I did.  But my heart is going to break a little when they leave our unit.
  9. I am thinking that I would like to have some item to remember certain special patients by who have had a significant impact on my life and shaped me in some way as a nurse.  Those rare sort of holy nights of nursing. So far, I have two people that have impacted me this way. But I don’t know the best way to sort of keep them. Or if it’s even right or fair of me to want to.
  10. We are caught up on This is Us.  Are you?  I won’t spoil anything.  Though I think it’s odd that people call them spoilers, because we all knew from like episode 3 the fate of the character that no one wants spoiled. Who do you think is the best actor on the show?  I personally am floored by Justin Hartley.  His work in the episode called “One” was haunting.  That moment outside the apartment where he loses the necklace and is frantic and then just starts begging for help… can ANYone please just help me.  Brilliant acting.  Brilliant.

Well that’s 10.  I shall go shower and take my son to Target as promised to pick out Valentines to hand out next week at school.  Remember your Kleenex box of Valentines and how exciting it was to open them up and lay them all out?  Little thrills like that?

Hope someone sweet gives you a tiny postcard next week to remind you just how beloved you are. XOX.  Will you BEE mine?




The baby on the blanket next to mine

1 Sep

I worked four  twelve hour 7 pm to 7 am shifts in a row this past weekend. For those of you who don’t know — I’m a new RN in my first year of my first job in a level III NICU in the Chicagoland area.

By night four, I was feeling rather depressed.  I missed my kids.  I missed my husband. I missed my friends.  I missed seeing the sun.  I missed not feeling sick to my stomach with tiredness.  I missed feeling competent. I missed a lot of things beyond that too.

Plus we had a crazy high census, nonstop admissions, and sky high acuity.  In others words, we were drowning in really really sick babies. Plus, one of the babies I took care of in the past and feel rather attached to had decompensated over the last few weeks and was having a really rough few days. The emotional toll of that is excruciating for families, but it also affects staff.  And I can’t say that I was unscathed on this particular stretch of four.

So on Wednesday, I finally had a night off.  We had plans to go to Ravinia with our friends and it was a crazy beautiful night.  Megan had packed a huge basket of snacks.  We had yummy beer.  Blankets. Chairs. A cool breeze. A sunny sky. A roomy comfortable dress. Brett Dennen and John Butler Trio.  It was really shaping up to be a perfect night — with no sick babies to tend to.

On the blanket nearby, there was a mom and dad and a beautiful little baby boy who was about six months old.  He was a little roly poly and I couldn’t help but to lean over to Craig and remark about how nice it was to see a healthy little baby for a change.  I mean look at him.  He’s so perfect and round and he’s developmentally appropriate and he’s happy and engaged and I could just eat him up. The mom kinda heard me because I have an unfortunately loud voice that I seem unable to control.  She looked back at me and I said I hope you don’t mind.  Your baby is just so adorable and perfect.  I work in a NICU so it’s been a while since I’ve seen such a healthy lovely little baby.

The parents replied, “Oh really?  You work in the NICU.  He was in the NICU for 35 days!”

And eventually they brought their son over to me and set him right in my arms because they were so thankful for the work that I do (and because I couldn’t stop staring at him.)  He looked at me and he smiled and he grabbed my necklace and my cheek and my hair just like all 3 of my sons did so many times.  The parents went on to tell me that their son was on ECMO.

I nearly fell over with surprise.  That just could not be.  Not this kid.

For those of you who are not aware of what ECMO is, here is a picture (not of the baby I held, just one from the internet) of the intense level of care that a person on ECMO receives.  I would argue it is the highest level of care a person could get, and though I do not have statistics, many (most?) do not survive it.

And this little perfect human being that was about to break the chain on my necklace as he smiled into my face, had been an ECMO kid.

I cannot tell you how gratifying it was to hold that boy and to see with my own two eyes his life stretching out before him with these two loving parents.  They were such an encouragement to my bumbling new NICU nurse soul.

One thing I struggle with most in my position is that many of the necessary procedures seem painful and difficult for our patients who are the absolute most vulnerable population you could find. And though I understand clinically and intellectually why our interventions are necessary, I still have not emotionally come to grips with how it feels to implement them or with the fact that we do not actually get to know most of our patients long-term outcomes.  What happens to these babies after all of our difficult care? When they leave us, though they are healthy enough to go home, they are still newborns and the lasting impact of their stay in the NICU is not yet discernible.

The parents kept thanking me as if I had anything to do with the health of their son.  But holding that ECMO baby, their flawless son, was a gift to me.

I laid back on the blanket and watched the trees, listened to the music and let it settle in that clearly sometimes… it all works out perfectly in the end.


22 Apr

I recently found out that I have “these really wacky astigmatisms” in both of my eyes.  Apparently, they go diagonally. When I asked the doctor what it meant to have an astigmatism — especially a wacky one — he thought about it for a long time before telling me “You have fantastic sight. You see better than 90% of the population. But you see it wrong. You see it distorted. Virtually no one else sees it like you do.”  I have thought about the way he phrased it. I know he was only discussing my eyesight. But I found his phrasing simultaneously complimentary and offensive.

I’ve been re-rewatching The Office. It is really the only thing I watch on television, and has been for some time.  I have watched the entire series two times in the past several months.  Craig tries to entice me to watch something else, but I can’t stomach it.  I crave the little office where the people are so deeply flawed yet so loving and kind.  It feels nearly utopian to me. Though they are always in chaos, the people are just so good.  Like deep down, they are.  I have no tolerance lately for anything with even a drop of cruelty, violence, or mean-spiritedness. The Office makes me feel good about the human race.  Isn’t that strange?

I feel frightened by the news and have started avoiding it. It is not something I’m proud of.  Yesterday as I fell asleep I actually thought, God help me, I’ve buried my head in the sand. Social media makes me physically ill sometimes.  And work can be quite beautiful some nights and then the next be an absolute horror. The other night I left and thought, I just got paid to torture a baby and wondered if God would forgive me. Some people would say we saved that baby’s life.  And we did – for that night anyway.  But I did not leave with a feeling of pride. I left with a great shame for what we did to that sweet child.

It’s odd. In the moment of care, I am so focused on the tasks and on accomplishing them in the correct way and on time and understanding why they are necessary for the patient’s care that it occurs almost entirely out of context from the child I am treating. Like “I am trying to get an IV.  And I need these supplies. And I need to do these steps. And I am getting the IV because the child needs this medicine.  The child needs this medicine because he has this problem. And I am going to monitor these things once the medicine goes in… and so on.” And then when I step out to my car and ride home, I think of the 35 little tasks that we did and put the whole picture together and feel repelled by what I put the baby through. But then I feel confused because it was necessary to keep the baby alive.  Which is the goal. Usually.  Except for when it shouldn’t be the goal anymore.

I work in a unit that treats exceptionally ill infants. And I am a new nurse. So you can imagine that I’m still really fumbling around how to make sense out of my vocation. It’s going to take some time. And in the meantime, The Office helps.

Tonight, my son went to his first Scout weekend campout.  He went with a group of boys that he really doesn’t know and he went without either of us. Isn’t he brave?

When I was lying in bed tonight reading to Henry and Gus, I felt such a wave of gratitude. Usually by the time bedtime rolls around I am just so tired and eager to tuck them in and turn off the lights and have a moment to myself.  But not tonight. Tonight, while I read, I just thought My God, how did I get so lucky to be lying in this soft bed next to these two warm, bright, happy children reading them this silly book? The smell of their clean hair. The softness of their arms pressed up against me. The sound of Gus sucking on his fingers. The little laughs at the pictures and funny voices I made. It all washed over me like a wave and I let it pull me under knowing that the little moment of zen would be brief.

Sometimes I wish that I had more lightness in my thoughts. It’s not that my thoughts are always sad. In fact, mostly, they are not. But I do feel like they always have a weight that can be burdensome — a gravity. And it would be nice, every once in a while, to just float in my own thoughts. Easy and light.

The eye doctor says no glasses yet. Not until I need my readers.  He says “if your wacky astigmatisms don’t bother you, there is no reason to fix them.  Because you see absolutely perfectly. You just see it wrong.”

3 Twelves & No Tears

16 Mar

I worked three straight twelve hour shifts. Sunday. Monday. Tuesday. The last one hit me like a ton of bricks. I drove home that night in grim silence wishing that I could cry away some of the sadness or stress from my workday, but unable to.

When I pulled into the driveway I checked which lights were on in the house — noting that while Gus’s room was already dark, I would at least get to see Henry awake.  Other than a quick kiss while they half-slept, I hadn’t really seen my kids in three straight days.

Craig was just finishing up clearing the snow off our sidewalks and he came over and gave me a hug knowing some of the details of my day. He asked me some questions about my patient. I tried to answer, and quickly realized I didn’t want to lay it all out on him right there in the driveway.  What I wanted was the plate of pasta waiting for me in the microwave, a glass of wine, a snuggle with my kids, and maybe another rerun of The Office.

I walked in the house to find Sam in the family room with a little mini-basketball.  He was dribbling and taking little pretend fake shots and being the announcers and the fans all in one. He didn’t see me come in, but I stared at him in amazement.  How was it possible that  he had turned into this?  That he had been born and had grown and become this agile, smart, funny, whole person. It’s an absolute miracle!  Health and wholeness like that – it is a stunning miracle, I’m telling you. Watching him, I finally felt the ability to cry… the need to.

He turned around and saw me and immediately rushed at me with an awkward ten year old hug and began telling me about the field trip he took with his class where he got to taste space food and he got to pretend to do a space mission. He just went on this rare ten minute monologue with hundreds of perfect little details and I could tell that he had just had a really really good day.  A memorable day. Just as I had, but in an entirely different way. And I nodded and listened and pushed the tears back for another time because I would not spoil or complicate the serene simple pleasures of this fantastic day of his boyhood. I thought, I’ll save the tears for later. But they’ve yet to come.

And life marched on… as it does.


I am off until Monday. Henry conned me into keeping him home sick. He had an upset tummy, but it really was not a necessary day off from school.  Not physically necessary anyway. I took him and Gus with me to the ENT doctor I’m seeing.  I do not highly recommend taking children with you to your doctor’s appointments, but sometimes, life just calls in that way.  So it was a bit of a struggle to keep us all contained and as unobtrusive as possible (which is basically not at all). But,  when I was leaving, someone from the office, came up to me kind of shyly and said, “I just want you to know I think you are a fantastic mom.  I was listening to you talk with your boys and I think you are just awesome.  And they are awesome too.”  She said more things that made me actually tear up with gratitude, but I’ll not share because it sounds too much like bragging.  But it was a sweet little gift handed over from a stranger when I really needed a little boost. We left and made snowballs with our bare hands in the parking lot. And I spent the rest of the day cleaning and working on my NRP certification and cuddling with my calendar.  A large part of my time off from work is figuring out life logistics on the calendar. It is quite a process.

I’m hoping to read over the next few days.  I’m going with On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness.  It’s a Young Adult book. It may actually be a kids book.  I don’t know. I don’t care. I’m reading it because I want to. Lay off!

Tomorrow I’ll have a little time to myself because all three kids have school.  The possibilities are endless. I’m going to spend the rest of my week on various mundane activities.  I’ll cook. I’ll vacuum and mop and clean the bathrooms. I’m going to go the gym and I’m going to eat too many tortilla chips. I’m going to read my children’s book and watch more reruns of The Office. And I’m going to try to get a good cry in — if it will ever come.

Life in the Slowish Lane

24 Feb

I started my new job and am working as a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in a hospital in Chicago. I’ve only been on the unit a handful of times and am still so new to it that I walk in each day unsure what to expect. Each night before I go, I feel a sense of dread. But then when I get there, after my first few nerve-wracked minutes, I feel right at home and ready to learn.  It is exhilarating and draining. I love it so far.  And I feel quite intimidated most of the time. But I also feel capable of learning, so it’s a healthy dose of intimidation and not a debilitating one.

The hardest parts of my new job are 1) the never-ending job of arranging and communicating about child care for my own children; 2) keeping monitor wires out of poopy diapers; 3) managing challenging emotional situations; 4) the absolutely stunning volume of knowledge I am expected to learn and be competent in in 12 short weeks. I recently watched a baby being resuscitated and observed the nurse who was essentially running the show, and I imagined being her like one year from now. And then I almost crapped myself.

I love being done with school.  I am actually sort of euphoric about having free time.  It is HEAVENLY.  I don’t think I even remembered what it was like to rest or do leisure activities with any sort of regularity. I thought about what it would be like ad nauseum.  And I anticipated that it would be good.  But wondered if the stress of a new job would sort of make life nearly as hectic as when I was in school. So far, it really really does not even compare.  School was like sprinting a marathon, crossing the finish line, and getting mugged. Working at my new job is like running a challenging 5K, taking occasional short walking breaks, crossing the finish line, and then being handed both a cold frosty beer and a paycheck.

I still haven’t started on my midnight shifts — and I imagine that once I do there will be another readjustment period and maybe I will be singing a different story, but for now, I am grateful for the pace of life.

Aren’t you just loving This is Us?  I am adoring it. We’re still an episode behind.  Might watch it tonight. And we also started watching Schitt’s Creek on Netflix.  I think it’s hilarious.  Especially Daniel Levy.  He’s definitely my favorite character.  I have a big stack of books on my bedside table, but I haven’t really gotten into any of them.  My brother and sister in law sent me 2 for my birthday and I read them immediately.  But I was too ambitious on my latest trip to the library.  I picked 3 whoppers.  Frankly they are challenging to even hold while lying down.  And if they are too cumbersome to hold, they are too cumbersome to read. At least right now.  My body is still craving fluff, simplicity, easily digestible materials. So, I may just return those and grab new ones that are more slim.  🙂 Any good suggestions for lighthearted well-written books I should look into?

I discovered a new shop in my hometown.  It’s a boutique with women’s clothes, shoes and jewelry. The stuff is cute, semi-affordable and ranges from size 0 – 3X.  I have never in my life been in a boutique store that sells plus-sized clothes. I am loving the inclusiveness of this joint.  So I’ve been making a trip in every couple weeks to see what they have on the racks. I’ve only bought one thing so far (and it was on clearance) but I am a huge fan.

Sam is getting ready to go into middle school and it has brought some interesting new things into the realm of parenting that I am in no way prepared for.  The social drama.  The promise of impending puberty. More responsibilities. My kid is growing up too fast, in my opinion. But this is coming from a woman who sobbed inconsolably when he turned one week old because it meant I could never again measure his life by mere days and how SAD was that?

I guess that’s about all I have to say at the moment.  Or at least, all I’m going to say.  I could talk about specific patient experiences that have deeply touched me, but I’m afraid that violates HIPPA. I could talk about interesting and challenging experiences we’ve had parenting our children over the past few weeks, but I am afraid that is a violation of their privacy.  I could talk about my concerns for our nation and all that I see in the news, but in all honesty, I wouldn’t know where to begin nor how to end.  I could talk about going to my kids Fun Fair and feeling a crippling social anxiety. I could talk about how  I’ve had a hoarse voice for over a month now and that I had to go to a specialist and that I am still hoarse and that even though he doesn’t think I have throat cancer, I am under the impression that I have micro-nodes that may or may not go away.  And that this is possibly just the new me now — an unattractive version of Kathleen Turner. I could talk about my new haircut and how I think it has a slightly mullet-like vibe to it and how one of the women who cleans my unit asks me every day if I permed my hair and how beautiful it is and how I can’t make all those facts fit together in a way that makes sense or gives me guidance as to how to proceed with my hair. I could talk about the time I didn’t want to go to the gym but forced myself inside and decided to take a class that sounded very chill called Total Body Toning and then found myself in the most challenging 45 minutes of physical exertion of my life and that I actually became concerned that my heart rate might be in the 300s and began thinking very clinically about my own cardiac output or lack thereof which oddly calmed me down enough to slow down my heart rate, increase the filling time in my ventricles and thereby increase my stroke volume, potentially saving my life. But I’m not going to talk about any of those things today.

Just a quick post to say that life is tripping along in a mostly pleasant manner and that all is well.



A Moment More

8 Jan

The alarm went off at 6:30 am this morning, which is dehumanizing for a Saturday morning. Craig got out of bed first because he is much more disciplined than I am. He showered and I snoozed, dreaming that Henry’s new fish mated and produced hundreds of tiny little fish which he became immediately attached to, much to my dismay.

I finally dragged myself out of bed and just put on the exact same clothes as yesterday, since I’d only worn them for about 5 hours.  I splashed water on my hair and forced it to spring back into curls and then I applied makeup while Craig woke Henry and Gus to get them dressed.

I immediately regretted my makeup and felt quite clownish and shy.  So I sat on our bed for a while regretting it and wondering if there was a way to salvage my face. Craig came in and said, “What are you doing?” And I said “Do I look like a clown?” and he looked very confused and said “What?  Are you high?” and I said “Nevermind.  I’m coming.”

Sam had spent the night at his friend’s house, so we drove to pick him up and then stopped quickly at Dunkin Donuts for milk, bananas, coffee, and donuts. We drove to the western suburbs for a basketball tournament at what I can only assume was a boarding school.  Henry asked “What’s a boarding school?” And Sam replied “It’s like Hogwarts, but for Muggles.” We watched Sam’s basketball team get creamed in two games. Henry and Gus crawled all over Craig and I — All four of us were desperate to be done.

We got the kids a snack. More bread products. While they ate we got text messages — one from a dear friend whose father passed away today, the other letting us know that one of our own family members was having some health issues and had been in the hospital since Wednesday. I called my friend and left a voicemail. Helpless to do anything of use in the face of grief, unable to find words of comfort that could possibly suffice.

We returned to the gym for the third game. We watched them come so close to a win. When the clock ran out the score was 17-15 and one of our boys got fouled and got 2 shots. He missed them both and fought back tears as he walked through the good game line. Man, do I have a soft spot for 10 year old boys.  They are just trying so hard to be tough little guys, lots of weird little tics and habits to look cool, super annoying antics to get a laugh, and then these little flashes of your baby boys who are wigging out at all this growing up pressure. Little boys just dying for your cuddles and sweetness and to be told they’re handsome and smart and kind and perfect.

We got Jimmy John’s on the way home (!) Gus fell asleep while eating chips, so I took a picture of him and sent it to Megan because I knew she would appreciate it the most. I tried to study a bit on the way home from my NCLEX book in preparation for my exam, but I didn’t get very far. I called my friends husband to see whether there was anything I could do to be of help, to hear more about how my friend was coping.

When we got home, I told Craig I had to go out and study a bit. I can’t walk into the NCLEX cold.  It’s just not in my DNA. I called my sister on the way there and we mostly talked about yoga pants. I went to Starbucks. I chose an unfortunate seat and had to listen to a young woman, about 25 years old, go on and on to her friend in the most pretentious way.  She advised her friend to stop worrying about career goals and studying, but instead to purchase a journal at TJMaxx and just write about her feelings all the time.  She also trash talked her mother, her sister, and I assume every single “friend” she has in this world.  Then she said that she was all for breastfeeding, but… (uh-oh) … BUT… taking a shit is a natural thing too and you don’t see her sitting in front of Starbucks and doing it.

I texted Craig with this information in an unflattering way and told him I might challenge her to a duel.  (I didn’t.  I just stared openly at her in an unpleasant manner. She didn’t notice though because she had moved on to discussing how she just doesn’t believe in the “institution of marriage.” On and on she goes.) This poor woman with all her opinions. Her lovely little friend hardly ever spoke.

I finished my test and then went online and bought a “free” sample from LipInk — this lip stain thing I saw on YouTube and immediately became obsessed with feeling I had to try.  The free sample cost $8.  I went home. When I walked in the door, Henry immediately informed me that he had been on Craig’s phone when I texted him about the bitch in Starbucks and that he read my curse words and that it was deeply upsetting to him. I apologized and felt chagrined. Sam demanded to be included on every aspect of what had transpired and I declined to share. He got pissed to be excluded.

We ate taco salad for dinner. I had a Sam Adam’s Winter Lager.

After dinner, I told everyone we were going to do family pickup. This is where I put on music and we all clean up one floor of our home as fast as we can. They all groaned.  I chose Bruno Mars on Spotify. That song that goes “Today, I don’t feel like doing anything…” came on and we all laughed and they finally began cleaning when I got a little menace in my voice saying come on this is not a joke let’s go. you do dinosaurs. you do DVDs. you take the stairs. come ON man!

I called all the kids upstairs for baths and showers. They came up screaming and wild like animals. I let Gus and Henry play in the bath while I gathered up Christmas decorations from upstairs.  Craig and I laid down together on our bed for like 2 glorious sweet minutes. Then we both leapt back into action. He went downstairs to bake my cake and wrap presents.

I had the kids dry their hair with the hair dryer, encouraged them to choose warmer pajamas, applied lotion to the littlest ones, gave medicines, and had them brush teeth. Sam had left his bag and pillow in the car from earlier this morning when we’d picked him up at his friends. I told him to go grab it.  He brought it upstairs and we laughed because his foam pillow was frozen solid.

I laid in bed with Gus and we watched an egg video (homemade videos that thousands of people make of themselves opening up easter eggs to find surprise toys inside ?!?) Then we read Poky Little Puppy. I admired the way his plump little feet bobbed up and down while he sucked on his fingers and listened. Then I tucked him in with tickles and kisses.

I went looking for Henry to tuck him in too, and found him in Sam’s room. They were doing MadLibs. We read their MadLib out loud and they laughed uproariously. We went into Henry’s room and fed his fish and watched them eat.  Gidget and Clark are very friendly and share well. Mark is a bit of a bully and really chases Clark away from the food. We had a little talking to with Mark and he actually seemed to be listening to us — stopped swimming and watched us yell at him which delighted us all and we had a good laugh over it.

We decided to do another MadLib instead of reading books. It was not that funny to me, but I think I must be a tougher critic than them, so I just played along. I read it to them twice and they  giggled themselves right into bed, where I gave them each a quick kiss and lights out.

I hopped on Facebook and quickly logged off because I just can’t handle Trump and his tweets. I simply cannot. That man is an abomination.

I came downstairs and made myself a bowl of ice cream with chocolate syrup on it to soothe my throat which is raw from some icky sinus thing I seem to have going on. I put a tiny little spoonful of ice cream into a small dish for Marge and put it down for him. Craig came upstairs with my presents.  So of course I got up to shake them all. He started icing my cake and the cake started peeling up with the frosting. He started to panic, so I finished icing it, showing him how he could put big plops of icing all around the cake and then just skim across from one dollop to another, dragging only the top layer of icing across and not pulling any cake along with it.

Which leads me to here. Sitting on my couch at 11 pm — with only one hour left in my 30s. I don’t much care about aging — not really in the way that I always thought of people caring about aging.  I don’t care about wrinkles or grey hairs or being droopy or less desirable. I don’t even care so much about the aches and pains that come with each year.  (For instance, today, I hurt my neck yawning, and then I hurt my back whipping around in my seat to yell at my children while we were driving.)  But in light of today’s events, I do mourn the passage of time.  Each day, we have this abundance of seemingly meaningless moments. Just this rapid fire of LIFE! It happens and then it is done and so much can go by totally unnoticed. 40 years worth of these moments — they come and then they go. I’m so grateful for them, but I do wish I could linger in some of them a minute longer.  Just a second longer to really soak them in. 40 years goes awfully fast.

A light that does not blind

21 Dec

Graduation came and went. I convinced Megan to go to commencement with me despite her better judgment. We crammed ourselves into folding chairs with hundreds of people who we apparently graduated with but had literally never met once. (All the online RN to BSN students is my guess.)  I wanted my kids and Craig to have closure. I wanted closure too. And I got it. I had a small crowd rooting me on these past few years, standing in the wings feeding me my lines.  And they did not disappoint that weekend either. The commencement was so appropriate for the experience I had in nursing school. It was odd. It was uncomfortable. It was moving. It was too long. And it was a good chance to have beer after.

My hat was so tight it gave me a welt on my forehead and made my hair poof out like puppy dog ears. Our chairs were so smushed together we had to sit like we were on an airplane in the middle seat. My family was seated far away and scattered all around the huge gym. They all had a look that suggested both immense pride and a desperate desire for it all to just be over for the love of God can it just be over. When I stood up to get my diploma, my mentor was in the front row and I couldn’t tell whether she saw me or not, so I gave the smallest of waves and she gave me the smallest of waves back.  The woman who essentially taught me how to be a nurse — like wholly taught me — and we had our little commencement wave.   And then of course I had my security blanket Megan by my side through the whole thing. We whispered inappropriate jokes to each other the whole time;  I had her sniff my breath at one point because it was so heinously bad and I was so thirsty and I needed her to lie to me and tell me it wasn’t too bad; we discussed our future snacking options;  we both warned the other when we thought we might possibly pass out (which we both felt we might do during the ceremony and which seems to be a new normal for me), and then when it was done we drank a lot of beer and ate chips. It was good.

And now it’s all done. And it’s just… it’s… there are not words for how lovely it is to have my life back. It’s not normal yet. I still feel like I’m on a short break and it’ll all come piling back on. And I’m still recovering from the exhaustion.  I find myself hitting these walls of aching sleepiness totally randomly.  (Perhaps that part will never go?) But all in all, it’s been delightful.  I spend time with my parents. I spend time with my kids. I spend time with my husband. I spend time with old dear friends who have been patiently waiting for me to become available to them. I talked to both of my siblings on the phone. I spent an evening with Megan and her lovely family.  Our combined six children basically tore apart Tyler’s Tenders while we visited with each other and our husbands chased them around the arcade.  I worked a little bit. But I did not really clean my house.  That part does not seem to be returning and I’m ok if it doesn’t.  Really, I was too clean pre-school.  What a waste.

I have  2 potential RN position down the line and some hard choices to make. The good news is I think I could really be happy in either of them which is a lovely spot to be in. I’ll be glad when I know where I’m working and when and it’s all sorted out.  Even though either scenario is good, I am anxious to have it settled so I can stop turning the decision over in my brain.

I’m going back and forth about Christmas. On one hand, I am ecstatic for all the celebrations that are to come. For giving gifts. Singing in church. Watching my kids delight.  And I am also feeling hyper aware of the many many people in our world who are suffering. It’s this constant undercurrent for me lately. In the news. In the faces of quiet neighbors.  Especially at the hospital in the lives of my patients. Just so much suffering out there. My deep contentment feels almost offensive, like something I should try to smother. I know rationally that that can’t be right. But the nasty thought burrows in nonetheless. Not sure what to do with it other than to try to remember to shine my light into the dark places I find and hope that it glows but does not blind.