Monday, June 30, 2008

In the Stillness of the Night

Every night I watch him sleep. Every night - every single night - I spend a few minutes just watching him. Then I touch him. I run my hand up and down his back; I squeeze his hand; I place my hand on his still-babyish belly, the rising and falling reassuring me that he's alive and well. I inevitably touch his smooth cheeks and cover his face in kisses. Here, I can't stay too long, because if I do, he will most definitely stir, perhaps wake up.

At night, sound asleep, he is my baby still. There is no trace of the tantrums, the stubbornness, the knowing facial expressions. There is only sweetness and peace, and an innocence that breaks my heart.

It is this innocence that gets me the most. I see it so clearly in him; even when he is being rambunctious and challenging and bossy, that innocence is vibrating just beneath the surface. He is vulnerable, and at night that vulnerability is all that there is to him.

I find myself thinking a lot lately about that innocence, and I think about the ways in which I will destroy it. It's a thought I can barely handle but which is undoubtedly true. This that is happening to us now - how much of him will it destroy? How much innocence will my choices take from him? Does his age spare him any real trauma? What do the consequences of my choices hold for him? Will he one day believe I did something so terrible it forever messed him up?

My heart is breaking for the boy who will have no memories of the time his parents were together and were able to offer him moments that were fun and special and everything I had wanted for him - for all of us. My son will never know what it's like to live in a traditional household and I grieve for that. I grieve for him and for myself as well - for all I dreamed of and worked so hard for. I had a clear vision of the family I wanted -- and instead I'm here, writing these words.

The guilt a mother feels equals no other. For this guilt is killing me even as I know - know so painfully - that the kind of family and life I wanted did not exist anyway. I have a pretty good idea of what the future held had we all continued on this path, and I wanted to protect my son from that. Still, the guilt. The grieving. All that was. All that never was. All that will never be.

And so at night I watch my son. I touch him. And I pray. For guidance. For protection. For wisdom.

For forgiveness.

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Posted by Tere @ 6/30/2008   | | | links to this post

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Obsessions of the Week!

It's been a rough week. Between the end-of-fiscal-year freak-outedness going on at work and my own personal stuff, I'm completely wiped out. Alas, tomorrow will find me turning this house upside down, organizing, tossing out, etc. So rest is nowhere in sight.

On to...

Obsessions of the Week!

1. My hair. It's fabulous. I got it cut at a new place (cheap!), and she did a wonderful job. Love it. I've been feeling all pretty and special for the last couple of days.

2. My stomach. Between my diminished appetite, near-constant nausea and general wonkiness, my stomach has become my enemy. I feel no hunger for hours on end; when I finally feel a pang and eat something (small and bland, which is all I can handle), I end up feeling nauseous and icky. Later, I will be either crampy or bloated or any other unpleasant thing. It sucks.

3. Schedules. Holy hell. I've long had an agenda where I keep track of everything, but with all the changes going on in my life, there are now 300 new things to do or remember, and one calendar no longer does it. Meetings, appointments, events, due dates for bills.... oh, and the new, most complicated one: keeping track of who has Max when. I have to keep track of it all - on top of everything related to work. I've taken to triple-writing everything - on my personal agenda, on the large calendar on my desk and on my Outlook calendar.

4. Rain. Is it going to rain today? Wow, it's cloudy all of a sudden. I mean, the sky is black. Damn, wasn't the sun out this morning? It sure was - and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Crap. We have swimming class at 6:30. I wonder if it's this bad out in Kilian. I'm going to have to call the school before I head out. Again. They're going to think I'm crazy, calling every day and asking about the friggin' weather in Kilian. And I'm going to go through all this again tomorrow. I hate June.

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Posted by Tere @ 6/28/2008   | | | links to this post

Thursday, June 26, 2008

A PSA About Swimming

I live in the state with the highest number of drownings in the nation for children age 1 to 4 (according to a 2007 Nova Southeastern University pilot study of drowning prevention practices in Broward and Miami-Dade counties).

In fact, in 2004, enough children drowned in Florida to...


... continue reading...

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Posted by Tere @ 6/26/2008   | | | links to this post

Monday, June 23, 2008

Speaking of the First 48...

Remember when I wrote about the murder in my neighborhood? And how happy I was that it was resolved really quickly?

Well, a few weeks ago, I was watching the new season of my favorite obsession, and what do you think it was about?

The murder in my neighborhood!

I was lying in bed, watching in utter surprise, and I thought: had I known this was the team working on it, I wouldn't have been so freaked out about it! It was actually so friggin' cool to watch the inner workings of this particular crime, to see how they went about it and what the killer finally had to say for himself.

You can catch that episode again on July 1.

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Posted by Tere @ 6/23/2008   | | | links to this post

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Introducing: A New Regular Feature. Until I Get Bored of It.

I've always got a few things - a song, a saying, a particular pair of shoes - stuck in my head. Every week, it's like a number of obsessions rotate in and out of my head. Some stay longer, others last a few days. My point is, they're there.

So! I thought to myself, how fun would it be to share those things here? Super fun! So I give you:

Obsessions of the Week:

1. Bacon. Bacon, I want to warn you, will be on the list a lot. Because I LOVE BACON. I eat it at least once a week. I ate it every single day of my pregnancy, even before I knew I was pregnant. In fact, it was the constant fantasizing about bacon that tipped me off that a creature might be growing in me. My son, by the way, loves bacon as well. And I mean real bacon, not that turkey bacon crap. Surprisingly, my cholesterol's really good.

I crave bacon on a regular basis. And Friday morning, I had the best bacon I've had in ages. Damn, that was good bacon. Damn, I'm wanting some right now. Mmmmm.... bacon....

2. The First 48. I've loved this program since I first saw it a few years ago. At first it was because they shot in Miami, and I have this thing about watching every porgram that tapes here. Like, I don't know, I might see myself or someone I know or a place I frequent. But this show, it's superb. I love the insight it provides, and how it shows the detectives' humanity, and the way it makes me think I'm part of the team solving the crime.

For a while now, I've been thinking: I really want to be a homicide detective -- or date one.

3. Mangos. My tree is chock-full, and they're soooo delicious. I love going out back early in the morning and picking up the ones that fell overnight.

I'm drowning in mangos, and I love it.

4. Nothing Left to Lose by Mat Kearney and Going Whichever Way the Wind Blows by Pete Droge. I love these songs so very much. They've become my temporary anthems; they are sustaining me during this less-than-awesome time.

5. My acupuncturist. Not because of all the needle-sticking goodness, but because halfway through our last session, he interrupted me as I was speaking and said, "You know, you're a really pleasant person." Aaawwwwww, sweet.


As I write this, I am stuck at the airport. It's now 5:40 p.m. and I've been here since 1:00 p.m. My 4:20 flight was cancelled, and I managed to get on an 8:15 flight that will hopefully not be cancelled and make it home without incident. My original flight was cancelled due to mechanical problems, which, just the thing a person who's terrified of flying needs to hear, right? This sucks, but I'd much rather be here than on a broken plane.



Mat Kearney Lyrics
Nothing Left to Lose Lyrics



Lyrics | Going Whichever Way The Wind Blows lyrics

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Posted by Tere @ 6/21/2008   | | | links to this post

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Single Step

I began by walking. Just walking, a simple, easy activity that anyone can do and is easy to stick to. When I realized how good it felt just to walk - to run errands nearby, to take the stairs whenever possible, to take Max exploring around the neighborhood - I got myself a pedometer and began logging my steps. It felt good to see that little machine hit 10,000 steps (5 miles, give or take). In fact, it became my goal to hit 10,000 at least twice in one day, and once or twice, I actually did it.

From there I knew I had to get serious about the gym, but given that this is really, really hard for me (as in, I hate the gym), I'm not there yet. At this point, the gym has become a big obstacle to me, for reasons both rational and not, and I recently realized that I had to work up the desire and comfort level to make the gym a regular part of my life.

In an effort to get back into regular exercise mode and work my way to wanting the gym, I went back to something I've always enjoyed: yoga. Until the dust settles a bit more around here and I'm able to create a routine of going to yoga class, I'm practicing at home, both morning and night. It's a great way to start and end each day, and each session is becoming more and more important to me. (O.k., but it's really hard to practice with a certain monkey child all over me, one who shrieks, "Mami, we do yoga!!" before he climbs ON me and tries to prevent me from doing the poses, and who then tries to take over my mat and gets mad at me when I move him to the side).

I've been taking these small steps, but there was one more thing. I've long suffered from chronic lower back pain. On top of that, sitting in front of a computer all day has led to near-constant neck and shoulder pain. Oh, and there's the knee/leg pain, too. That one's not as bad as my lower back, but I periodically feel this dull, throbbing pain from my knees to my ankles, and when it hits, it's torture. The physical pain I feel on a daily basis affects me in many ways. It limits my mobility and flexibility and is one of the reasons I don't like going to the gym: because it hurts too much. I've had physical therapy and try to get massages a few times a year (oh, but I could do that once a week easy if money wasn't an issue!), but I've been thinking for a while that I need to do something more, something different, in an effort to ease this pain.

So I decided the time was finally right for me to try something I'd long researched and been curious about: acupuncture. I found a local doctor and made an appointment for an initial evaluation. He was kind and patient and thorough in his communication. He told me outright that because my pain is not the result of any trauma (like a car accident) and is so strong, the best I might be able to hope for is a reduction in pain and not necessarily an elimination of it. He also told me that if I don't respond well after the initial series of treatments, acupuncture may not be for me and he'll help me find something else. So far, I love it. I feel better immediately after and for at least 24 hours after that. It may not be the solution I need, but for now, it's something good.

These are the things I'm doing right now to take care of myself, to be healthier, to create long-terms habits that are good for me - physically and emotionally. The hardest part is slowing down and accepting that this is a process, a journey - and I can't rush the weight off and feel like a million bucks, like, next week, even though I really want to and patience is a virtue I have never really possessed.

But I don't have a choice, do I? Everything now is about slowing down, stepping back, cutting the impulsiveness and moving only after careful consideration. So, o.k. I'll try it this way and see how it goes.

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Posted by Tere @ 6/19/2008   | | | links to this post

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Grateful Loser

This is to be expected, perhaps, but I did not expect it. As my life moves through a period of difficulty and sadness and transition, people have been reaching out to me - some to offer their support; others to try to make sure I'm o.k. and in my right mind; and others just to let me know they are there, thinking of me.

It all means a great deal to me, not only because at a time like this I need support, but also because there have been times in the past where I have been in situations just as sad and difficult, and save for the usual suspects (my nearest and dearest), no one else reached out. During those times (and I'm thinking of two specific instances in the last six years), perhaps the only good thing that came of it was that I learned who my real friends were, and I was able to end relationships that I was better off without. But in the midst of each situation, it was horrible to feel so alone and so judged, like a pariah. Those people (and some of them read this site and so yes, I am talking about you), are people I hope to never have to deal with ever again.

So having been there, having been so painfully ignored, having had things said behind my back that of course made their way back to me, I can fully appreciate this flood of reaching out. It was in no way expected but has helped in so, so many ways. Your mere presence - and you know who you are - has meant so very much to me, more than I could ever fully express or repay. I know how awkward a situation like this - you don't know what to say, if you should say anything at all - but being here, let me tell you - you should say something, even if it is just acknowledging the awkwardness and letting the person know you're thinking of them. Ignoring the elephant in the room does nothing to help a person who's feeling like shit. Sometimes, it makes things worse.

This situation has led to some awkward and embarrassing moments for me, wherein I try to answer questions about how I feel and how I'm doing without a) getting too personal and being unfair towards Ben and b) sounding like the biggest loser ever. The problem is, while it's easy to avoid "a," there is no denying "b."

It's o.k. I say this without a shred of self-pity, without wanting you to tell me I'm wrong. Right now, I am a loser. What else can I be? When you look at the situation for what it is, there is little else to conclude about me. Of course, I don't tell anyone I'm a loser; I instead try to explain what is going on in my head, the feelings I have about myself and my future and the way I think others see me and how effed up it all makes me feel. It is only later, when I replay conversations in my head, that I realize how awful I must sound. If you've communicated with me in any way since, say, April, let me take this opportunity to apologize, because I can only imagine just how I must sound: pathetic, slightly off kilter, a little dramatic, a bit much like I've read one teen novel too many, rounded off with a nice dose of pessimism. Wow. You're all troopers for sitting through that and then not writing me off completely (well, almost all of you, since one or two have run for the hills and I don't expect to ever hear from them again).

The thing is, when I'm honest about how I feel, it by default puts people in a position where they feel compelled to reassure me that all those things are not true - that I am interesting and good and pretty and funny and smart and UGH. I want to die at that point, because the whole purpose of my sharing my feelings is just that, to share them. And that's it. I'm not fishing for compliments. I don't want my girlfriends or male friends to tell me I'm the coolest chick this side of Calle Ocho. I just want to be honest and I want to hear myself say it out loud because at my core I know it's all stupid crap. In fact, it's not so much that I feel criticized by and repulsive to others, it's my frustration and anger at myself for giving it a second and third and hundredth thought, for believing it, for letting my self-esteem and sense of self get so shaken and pooped on. The amount of anger I feel towards myself for this weird, warped thing I'm going through is immense. I have reached that point where I no longer want to speak openly because I can't stand myself anymore.

I know I will eventually get past all of it - back to my normal self, as I keep saying. But that's not where I'm at right now. And honestly, while I know I'll get over all this and will soon enough feel even sillier than I already do for devoting so much energy to this, I really don't know what the future holds. And there are moments when I think about the possibility (because anything is possible, right?) that some of my fears will turn out to be true - and the sadness and frustration become almost too much to bear.

So for all this - to those of you who have extended your arms and offered your ears, who have shared your thoughts or have made yourselves known and simply stood by so that I can account for you as a friend - I offer my deepest gratitude and hope to one day be able to repay you your kindness and compassion.

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Posted by Tere @ 6/15/2008   | | | links to this post

Friday, June 13, 2008

Almost Three

He is bossy, so very bossy. Every other phrase out of his mouth is some kind of command, one he will issue repeatedly, without stopping even to breathe, until you either give in or reprimand him much too sharply; it seems like most days he only speaks in commands, informing everyone what they should do ("eat it!") and how to do it ("like THIS, mami!").

He is stubborn, so very stubborn. Everything is "no," even when he means "yes;" he insists on doing it all himself, rebuffing all efforts for assistance.

He is impatient, so very impatient. Failed attempts at trying something and reprimands from mami or daddy end in tantrums, his frustration palpable. He moves non-stop, always with a sense of urgency, bouncing from here to there to there.

He is charming, so very charming. His quick, genuine smile makes the world seem beautiful; his playfulness inspires laughter; his quirky facial expressions, his lisp, his eyes all render him innocent and wise at the same time.

He is smart, so very smart. It's hard to get anything by him, so quick is he to notice things. The way he connects the dots to arrive at new conclusions is amazing, the kind of amazing that leaves you shaking your head in wonder.

He is affectionate, so very affectionate. His hugs and kisses and laughter are always ready and free, and he never hesitates to stop for a cuddle. In the middle of a game, after a tantrum, as he snuggles down for the night - he will stop and clutch you and say, "te quiero mucho mucho" ("I love you a lot").

He is my baby who is less and less a baby. Still mine, always mine, but less a baby every day. We will soon be three years into this adventure and the promise of all we will be and do and share lays brightly before us. I am who I am today because of him, and for him I will continue to grow and stretch and give and bend and try and hope.

He may never know how grateful I am for him, how he changed everything. But I am, and he did.

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Posted by Tere @ 6/13/2008   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

A Breakthrough!

You guys!! I can't believe this! I've had a major breakthrough about something I didn't even know needed breaking through! And despite the fact that I still have a problem on my hands, I feel SO good right now! So relieved!

So here's the deal: I noticed over the last couple of months that I've gained weight. Like, for real. No b.s. It's noticeable and uncomfortable and has me feeling ugly and horrible. I mean, it's not like you see me and are like, "Whoa, what the hell happened to you?", but it's definitely not good. What's had me most upset, though, was that I could not account for this weight gain. It's not like I was exercising regularly then stopped. Nor was I eating more than usual. Despite the stress I'm under, my appetite has not increased at all. In fact, I'm eating less. But still, weight gain!

This afternoon I was really upset about the whole thing. I know I need to just suck it up and hit the gym, but I was really bothered by the fact that I've made no dietary changes or any change in any area (negative ones, that is), and this was happening. So I was thinking and thinking and thinking, because there had to be some explanation for this.

And then it hit me: my medicine! I started a new medicine a few months ago, and perhaps that was the culprit! I didn't recall anything about any major side effects, but thought it was worth looking into. Sure enough, I do a search on Google, and thousands of hits pop up, countless of them forums of people discussing the amount of weight they've gained on this medicine. Interestingly enough, most people commented that their doctors insisted the weight gain was not associated to the medicine, but they had no other exercise/dietary changes to point to as a reason for the weight gain.

So, the bad news: I've gained weight and am freaked out by the dozens of accounts I've read today from people who could not get the weight off. The good news: I have an answer! You can't imagine what that means to me. I've been going crazy trying to figure this out, eating really well and cutting portions and calories. Actually, part of my fear is knowing that I've done these things and it hasn't done me a bit of good. Still, I have an answer.

The missing thing is consistent exercise, so I'm all over it. I'm freaked out enough to act, which is saying a lot for me. Between yoga and the gym, I expect to kick the fat's ass in no time.

Just keep your fingers crossed for me. I have to be on this medicine for some time (not forever, thank goodness), so this will be a continuous battle for me.

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Posted by Tere @ 6/11/2008   | | | links to this post

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Let Me Put It Another Way

More thoughts on my situation.

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Posted by Tere @ 6/10/2008   | | | links to this post

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Practice

I look at my life now as if every action is practice. Practice for the moment when I am truly alone, with no one to help me in any way. At least, not with the day-to-day stuff like I've grown accustomed to.

I never took any of it for granted - having someone take out the trash and reach high places, or manage Max while I attempted to get at least one thing done. Every action received a word of gratitude, because I understood - always with a degree of shame - that there were (are) many things I cannot do myself, or can do only with difficulty, or am just too lazy to bother with. It is a part of me I've never been proud of, a voice that regularly whispered that I had to be self-sufficient in EVERY way, even the more mundane ones. Being keenly aware of these deficiencies makes my new reality that much sharper and frustrating to me.

So now I practice. I find creative ways to reach the high places, to maneuver heavy things, to do the chores I hate, to be a handywoman. I have lists of everything I need to learn to do, Internet pages with instructions bookmarked so that I may refer to them again and again, books newly purchased.

I don't doubt my ability to be self-sufficient in every way, to get past this and soon do it all with ease. I know I can, have always known it. But I preferred to depend on someone, to ask for help, because that to me was a hallmark of a relationship, of lives joined in every way, even those small ones. To have to do it all myself only highlights the degree to which I am alone.

So I am learning, and practicing. To be self-sufficient. To do things I never thought I'd need to do. To be alone.

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Posted by Tere @ 6/07/2008   | | | links to this post

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I Heart the Bronx

With the exception of one of my trips to New Orleans back in 2002, I've never had a traditional vacation, one where I'm officially a tourist, staying in a hotel, sightseeing and going on tours. At least not as an adult (and not even really as a child, unless you count our trip to Disney World in 1984).

Vacations for me have always been tied to visiting family. It's a mix of varying needs: the need to see people we love, the need to save money, the need to save vacation days at work and keep traveling down to a minimum. It's made sense for us (or me) to visit family and friends, and it's always been enjoyable.

But it's never really been adventurous, just a mix of family activities and some quasi-touristy stuff. My trip to NYC this weekend was no different, in that I stayed with one of my best friends and basically did a whole lot of not much. The thing is, this time around, I needed this kind of vacation.

My BFF C now lives in the Bronx, in Riverdale to be exact. And much to my utter amazement, it's a beautiful place. So beautiful, in fact, that I spent the weekend fantasizing about how great it'd be to live in such a quiet, kid-friendly place, with Manhattan just a 20-minute train ride away. I could do this, I kept thinking.

But not really, since I know that commute - actually, the long hours involved in living that kind of life - would soon annoy and depress me. Still, Riverdale is wonderful, and I was shocked to love the Bronx so much. Prior to this, all I knew about the Bronx was that it was the shithole that produced JLO unto this world, and for that alone, it sucked big time. But this part of the Bronx was wonderful - it could never be even remotely related her.

My trip was defined by two fun, time-consuming activities: wine tasting in the vineyards along Long Island's North Fork, and hunting for a good fake Gucci purse in Chinatown.

In the end, after visiting three "dungeons," I got a nice wallet and purse, neither of which looked like anything I had in mind, but which are understated enough for my taste. I love Chinatown - the crowded, crazy chaos; trying to understand what the heck people are saying to me; being led to those secret rooms, the women walking fast with their heads hung low. It was an adventure!

Then in Long Island, the exact opposite. I felt like an impostor, Cubanita in a preppy white world. Except that then we went in for our first tasting, and it appeared that the entire Jersey shore had gone wine tasting that day, too, and I realized that all the preppy white (read: refined) people I expected to run into were all hiding somewhere.

I had never been to Long Island, but I fell in love with it, too. The houses were beautiful and I loved the small-town feel. The North Fork was simply so peaceful and gorgeous. Sitting outside the Rafael Vineyard, I felt something move within me. It was as if the life I want was within reach, like I could actually have the cottage by the water, near the mountains, with a lovely garden and the slower pace I yearn for. It made me feel like what I want is worth fighting for.

Sigh. But we had to head back into the city and the spell was broken.

I ate too much and am still recovering. Joe's Shanghai, Doughnut Plant, Asia de Cuba, Grimaldi's - they were all worth the extra weight and the beating I've given myself for eating with such reckless abandon.

For the first time probably ever, I was not ready to go home. As much as I missed Max, I needed a couple more days. But, home I came, and home I am.

As always, the big kisses, hard hugs and sheer exuberance of my boy made me happy to be back. But the truth is, a little part of me stayed behind.



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Posted by Tere @ 6/04/2008   | | | links to this post