oh yeah, I have that too

Have you ever heard of Morgellons Disease? Sufferers swear that they can feel, and see, little fiber-y things crawling under their skin. The medical community is split on whether they’re delusional, or whether what they have is unexplained. One recent medical journal suggested that it was an “internet meme,” and that once google hits on it went down, so would reported cases. I have no authority to say whether it’s a real condition or it’s not, but it sounds awful to those who are sure they are suffering from it;  so whatever you do, please don’t mention it to my husband, because he will be immediately and totally sure he has it.

My husband is a hypochondriac (my mother-in-law says he got it from her side of the family; I’m going to tactfully decline to disagree).  I can usually convince him that he doesn’t have lung tumors, or whatever we just saw on House, but when there is an actual sickness in the household, my husband’s anxiety that he is already exhibiting similar symptoms makes him almost as bad a patient as the sick person him or herself, who most times, is under the age of seven.

Over the past week and a half, I have been up all night while each of my children, and then myself, retched at half-hour intervals. (By the way, why do the vomity bugs always come on in the middle of the night?) My husband is the only one who has survived, probably because each time, I have told him to decamp to the Murphy bed in the office so one of us can get some sleep (unlike him, I can usually manage to grab a nap with the sickie the next day). But I do consider this rather selfless on my part. Last night it was my seven year old’s turn and– I am not exaggerating– he had 16 bouts of vomiting/dry heaving in a six-hour period.  When my two year old Rooster awoke at her usual 6 a.m., I got her out of bed and woke my husband to hand her over. “Oh no, I can’t take her,” he said, rolling over. “I was up all night.”

“Excuse me?” I said.

“I was so sure I was getting sick that I couldn’t sleep,” he explained.

I stood there for a minute. waiting. He looked at me, and in the dim light, must have been able to make out just how MY night had been, because (to his credit) he rather quickly said, “Oh,” and took our daughter, and let me go back to the sick bay and sleep until the glorious hour of 7:15.

The thing is, I know he really DID have a lousy night’s sleep because he’s so sure he’s getting sick, and by tonight, will be so beside himself I’ll be slipping syrup of ipecac in his protein shake just so we can get it over with already. “I am not a good patient,” he reminded me this morning. Oh yes. Of that I am well aware.

the cover is done!

I am most excited to unveil the cover art for my book!
It’s all getting real now.
10 weeks from today is on-sale date.
Excuse me while I kvell.

but mothers don’t get sick!

Today, I am laid low with a stomach bug that had my younger two kids by the gag reflex last week. Each of them had a night where they threw up hourly, about nine times or so, then looked like death warmed over and refused to eat for another day or two.

Since it had been a week since it last reared its head, I figured we were done. Besides, mothers never get this stuff anyway.

Not so fast, Mommy.

I feel like hell, and am kind of amazed that S and M lived through this so well, since S is 5 and M is 2 and I am… not.  I feel bad for them all over again.  I threw up only once to their nine-ce and I am completely non-functional today. Well, almost- just because I was incredibly nauseous didn’t mean I didn’t have to get out of bed and get the boys out the door to school, then give M an hour of Special Mommy Time reading stories, because she was of course completely wigged out that I was lying there looking gray. But then my babysitter came to take M out for a while, and I had a glorious nap. Now I might go watch some Toddlers and Tiaras on the DVR. Sick days have their benefits.

another leisurely Sunday afternoon

We went to visit the grandparents this past weekend, and since my mother-in-law is Italian, Sunday afternoon means

1) sauce
2) “ronis”
3) extended family gathering to eat 1) and 2)

As cited above, “ronis” are not the San Francisco treat: they are several varieties of pasta. (The word “pasta” is never uttered in this milieu.) “Sauce” is what starts bubbling on the stove by 8 a.m.  It’s a nice tradition, and quite relaxing for all, except my mother-in-law.

And me, since all of my mother-in-law’s furniture is white, and all of my children (even the seven-year-old) like to eat their ronis with their hands and then, without warning, get down from the table and run screeching into the “great room” where no one is usually allowed to even sit down, let alone mark the pristine couches with red handprints evoking the cover of a James Patterson novel.

Throughout all of this my husband is sitting on the couch in the den, watching football with the other patriarchs, all observing the Postprandial Unbuttoning of the Pants. I poke my head into the den:

ME: What time do you want to leave to drive back? 4:00?
DAVID: Sounds good.
ME: OK. Next ad, can you please run upstairs and make sure everything you want is packed?

David looks at his watch.

DAVID: It’s 3:30.

He tells me this as if I am not well aware of that fact. To my husband, our leaving in a half hour means he has 28 minutes of football watching left. At 3:58, he can stand up, yawn and stretch, do a cursory check of the rooms I have already packed up and cleaned, and be in the car by 4:00. As is his tendency, my husband tends to forget about our three children, who in the next 28 minutes will have to be told to do each of the following things:

-go to the bathroom
-wash their hands
-put their shoes on
-say goodbye to Aunt Carol
-put their coats on
-get in the car

on a continuous loop, since my children do not listen to anything their mother says until they have heard it five or six times.  While David hears “we’re leaving in half an hour” and imagines 30 minutes of incredible leisure, I hear “we’re leaving in a half hour” and know it’s never going to happen.

We left at 4:15. I was in a full sweat. But David paid me back: he drove us home.

you can’t go home again

and that’s good, because in this case, you wouldn’t want to.

Applying to preschool, in New York City, is a true rite of passage, a full-time job, and if you can come out of it with 1) your child in a nursery school, ANY nursery school, and 2) your self-esteem even partially intact, you should count yourself very lucky.

Now, schools have “sibling policies,” meaning that once one of your kids is in, all of ’em are in. Pretty much. Almost always. But there are stories out there of second or third or fourth children being rejected from their older siblings’ school, due to the obnoxious reason that they “are not a right match” for the school, or whatever, despite their parents’ hard-earned dollars being a perfectly good match over the last several years. I don’t think my kids’ school has done this, at least not recently. But I have learned from past mothering mistakes never to be overly confident, and so I applied Maggie to two other schools for this fall, just in case we should have to make other arrangements.

This is how I found myself sitting in a teeny tiny chair with about 18 other nervous parents at a nursery school “information session.” I sensed right away that I was out of my element.

“Who here is applying for their first child?” the doyenne of the nursery school asked.

Every single hand shot up but mine.

“What about you?” the head of school asked me.

“I’m applying for my third,” I said.

Heads swiveled toward me in disbelief, as if I had just announced I was from one of Jupiter’s moons.

“YOU HAVE THREE KIDS?” one parent asked, awed, and kind of terrified.

I remember when I used to be that parent– and I have written about the land of first-time parents in my book, so I won’t dwell on it here– but I sensed, quickly, that going to this “information session” had been a mistake.

I started reading the application, to distract myself from the whispers and stares still coming my way. Plus the head of the nursery school was telling the parents that the whole application process was really not something they should worry about, and I needed to keep myself busy, otherwise I would have jumped up and yelled, “DO NOT BELIEVE THIS WOMAN. It is absolutely as bad as you have heard, and worse.” Once I focused on the application, I became suddenly and utterly certain that I could walk out right then, because there was NO WAY I was going to answer questions like these:

How many caregivers has your child had in the last two years?
Too many. WAY too many. Like, twelve? Just cross us off the list right now.

Have there been any parent/child separations since birth? If yes, please specify:
That “if yes” part gives me the sense they actually want the answer to be “no.” No, I have NEVER BEEN SEPARATED from my child since she was born. I have never gone out to dinner, gone to the gym, gone to the hairdresser’s or the gynecologist. Come to think of it, the first time I have ever been separated from my precious child was to come to this very information session. You must hate children here.

Has anything unusual happened to your child since birth?
What in blazes does that mean? Why, yes. On October 26, 2009, I handed my daughter a sippy cup of milk after her nap. She was expecting apple juice, which was what I usually give her. How unusual it was for her to take a sip of milk!

At what age did your child begin to smile? 
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I don’t know. Four months? I suppose if I were one of those first-time parents, I’d be able to quote each developmental milestone, chapter and verse, but Maggie is my third, and not only do I not have any idea what time of day she was born, or what day of the week– I’m actually pretty fuzzy on the date itself.

Is your child a picky eater? Please explain. 
Yes, and I don’t have an excuse, actually. It is because I am just such a crappy mother. Really barely functional.

Since Maggie is my third, I could sit there during this information session, reading this application, and think: Well, I’ll never get this hour of my life back. But as I looked around at the other parents, I saw that I was alone in that reaction. All of them had their shining faces turned towards the head of school, nodding like her bobble-headed subjects, desperate to prove their worth. They were going to go home, and gosh darnit, they would figure out when Natalie first smiled, down to the very hour.

Today I found out that Maggie got into her brothers’ school, without any pomp and circumstance. As soon as I finish typing this post, this application will go directly in the garbage can. You cannot go home again, and for that, I am very grateful.