Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Mother: The Past and Present Reminder

This past Monday, my mother arrived in Colorado to visit with us for week.  The two older boys are loving her being here.  So am I.  She has been my constant companion as I began the season of my life where I am dropping off and picking up my sons from school.  Since they both get out at different times, it has in moments felt like a private taxi service with me being the driver.  Not complaining of course, because since I am a fairly new driver, I need all the driving time I can get to become one with the vehicle and the road.  At least that's my thought.  It's working.  My turns have been less on the wild side lately. 

As I've been driving along the roads of Boulder to and from school, the mountains on all sides of us depending on which direction I'm driving in, it has been nice to have her sitting in the passenger seat next to me.  She is the Bronx to my Boulder (though I have to admit I'll always be a Bronx girl).  I realized today she represents my past...the life we both shared when I was growing up.  She is a die-hard city girl like me, having been born and raised in Manhattan. She moved to the Bronx when she was in her early twenties, when her family decided it was time to own their own home.  And now at seventy, she's still there.

She's the past to my now present.  

I left the car to pick up one son two days ago, with the radio channel on the mainstream/alternative music station playing songs the likes of John Mayer and Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty.  When I returned, she had switched the channel to a station playing Motown/soul to the likes of Marvin Gaye and the Stylistics.   Music that I grew up on. That I remember singing the words to when I was four years old walking around our two bedroom apartment that overlooked a major highway in the Southwest Bronx.   Along with old school hip-hop (she had that channel on previous to the Motown/Soul one), this was the music that became part of my DNA as I grew up.   It's been a long while since I connected to that music and other things that were a part of my growing up in New York City, specifically in the Bronx.  

I am a mother now too just like her but living within a different context.  I'm raising children with a husband in a city by the mountains while my mother raised me by herself in an urban metropolis filled with subways and endless, moving people everywhere you went.

Two different worlds.  

She's unfamiliar to my new home now.  Would I be unfamiliar in my old home when I went back East to visit her next time?  A home that was as familiar to me as my own name?

What's that saying?: "You can never go home again"

While driving today I found myself trying to remember the days and years I lived (and worked) in the Bronx.  That was fifteen years ago.  

Though I love my new world, I honestly hope I can go home again as I try to hold on a bit to it through my mother and through my old friends/classmates (and now Facebook friends) from my high school back in the Bronx. 

I am thousands of miles away from that home and yet, I don't want it to be too far from me.  
In my heart, at least.  

Thankfully, I have the living reminder that is my mother.  

How many of you are living far from the hometown you grew up in?  Do you still feel a connection, and is it through family or friends that still live there? Do find yourself remembering your past life there or is it just, in the past?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Bit From My Butterscotch Babies...

Yes, they have their own blog.  Feel free to take a look...

Noah, Rhys & Owen: Brotherly Love: "Owen from his first smiles, would look at Big Brother Rhys and grin widely.  He was captivated by his big brother with the wild c..."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Stuck In the Land of P (For Strong Stomachs Only)

I'm surrounded.  All around me, I am truly in the land of P.  There are two things that start with the letter P that surround me all the time: pee and poop.  Both have been a constant since I gave birth to my first son over five years ago with the addition of my middle son three years ago and now with my latest son who was born this past March.  It's not like this surprises me.  I've surrendered to the fact that I'm going to have deal with these two elements for a good seven years, at least.  It just that these days I really feel it because both have taken on various different forms and its just so constant.   

With my 5 month old, I've got the usual baby pee and poop in which the poop ranges from every shade of green and yellow, from the seedy to the clay varieties.  And depending on what the baby takes in whether it be breastmilk or formula, it's anyone's guess what will come out of him, though I've notice the poop stench is much stronger when he drinks in formula.  

Then there's my 3 year old whose pee is pretty standard, though his poop is pretty intense and atrocious, most times.  Not to mention, the amount of it just astounds me and my hubby and anyone who has ever changed a poopy diaper of his in the past.  The amount of waste he ejects can rival that of any adult male.  I'm not kidding.   Now he's potty training and so the pee and poop are no longer in his diaper but in other places as well.  When it ends up in the potty, it's a truly joyous moment.  Especially the poop.  He gets 2 cookies if he poops in the potty, 3 if he doesn't need me to prod him to go and goes all on his own.  Not only as a form of encouragement to say "please, please, continue to poop in the potty like a big boy" but also as a form of gratitude to say "thank you for sparing me the job of having to clean up the floor or bed after you."  However, there are those moments when I am on my knees wiping up the floor or pulling off the latest bedsheet. Like at least once every other day.

I'm surrounded. 

Then there's my 5 year old whose pee and poop, I technically shouldn't have to face anymore since he is using the toilet in the standard way.  However, many a time, in his haste to get back to the latest road he's built out of tracks and blocks or the show he was watching on t.v., he forgets to flush the potty.   Hence I end up walking into the bathroom, a good two hours later and smelling the most horrible of  stenches.  Looking in the toilet bowl, I find the culprit: my kid's latest dump which has been "stewing" so to speak.  Not to mention the countless times I'm pulling off or drying bedsheets from his latest nighttime overflow.  He still hasn't mastered staying dry at night consistently.   And that's okay.  I'm here for him and will be until he does, whenever that will be. 

I really am surrounded.  

Throwing away a diaper or trainers (i.e. pull-ups) at least once/twice every other hour.  I looked in my trash can the other day and these items made up most of the trash.  Not to mention the baby wipes I use to wipe those precious bottoms. 

What's amazing, though there are still those yuck moments where I get really grossed out by what I see, is how much I can tolerate the constant pee and poop.  Now honestly I couldn't tolerate it if I had to do it for a living.  I truly admire nurses and caretakers.   And I definitely couldn't tolerate the sight of pee along the wall of a building or poop on the sidewalk or in grassy, weedy places (as you well know about me from my previous post).  Yet somehow, I can tolerate it when it comes out of my children.  Unlike my hubby, who gags pretty much every other time he has to change a diaper or deal with an "accident", I face the Ps head on with a cool, almost professional-like detachment.  Is it because, though the waste product can be nasty and downright horrendous, my little creatures who emit them are so amazingly adorable (a mother's bias of course)?  How can I stop my heart from melting from the sweet smile that crosses my 3 year old's face as the pee shoots out of him or the toothless grin from my 5 month old as the last of the poop leaves his bottom during a diaper change?

Besides, with every pee and poop I face, am I not building character or at least fortifying an already strong stomach?  Hey, if I can stare down the sometimes green-black goo that comes pouring out of the bottom of my 3 year old (what did he eat??), I can face just about anything gross can't I?  Except, fungus/mold, maggots, slugs, pink vomit...anyway...

I'm not complaining.  I embrace my duty.   I'm just amazed at the endless pees and poops that I'm experiencing in every way shape and fashion these days.  I know someday this will all be a thing of the past that I will look back on with fondness, right? 

As I'm typing this, I look up and see a huge stream of pee coming from my potty-training 3 year old, spraying out like a fountain and covering an area of my dining room the size of a standard welcome mat as he stands staring in amazement.  He looks just as stunned as I feel.  And then I just sigh, quickly getting up. 

It really is like 24/7. 

"Potty!" I say.  "Potty. Go to potty now.  Sit.  Sit!" as I point him over to the little red potty seat by our fireplace.  He runs his little wet feet over to the potty as I inwardly cringe at the footprints he's made.  As I side step the huge puddle of pee, I notice he even got some on the play mat.   Okay.  Such is my world...

All I can say is, thank goodness for hardwood floors, heavy duty paper towels, sweet smelling antibacterial soap, and silly after-pee/poop smiles as I brace myself (yet again) to face the pee head on.  

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What's In My Backyard??

Two Saturdays ago, I decided to help my hubby by going out to our backyard and cutting down our extremely tall weeds. It was the first time this Bronx girl has used a weed cutter and I was brandishing it back and forth, knocking down weeds left and right. As I worked in the hot sun, I thought about how therapeutic this was for me. It allowed me to let my thoughts wander without interuption from little hands and big screams.

I thought to myself. Here I am surrounded by green stuff. Nature. Grass and weeds and dandelions. I grew up in a concrete jungle of sorts. The backyard to my house growing up in the Bronx was made up of mostly concrete with weeds growing through the cracks. The parks near to my house were mostly playgrounds with a tree or two growing in them surrounded by massive concrete. So walking among grass and trees or even being surrounded by grass, bushes and trees only occurred when I visited the big parks in the city: Van Cortlandt, Pelham Bay, Central Park.

Since my exposure was limited, foilage was somewhat foreign to me. I would wander among the grass and bushes and wonder what was there. Poison Ivy was definitely the main enemy. I can recall several times when classmates would end up in an endless state of itching because they had wandered into a patch of poison ivy. Poop in various forms (i.e. dog, goose, rodent) was enemy #2.

Even now, when I go out to the backyard I wonder what's within those weeds and thick grasses. Poop? Something worse? And what are those leaves? And are they poisonous? Or worse, are they poison ivy or poison oak?

When my boys run through the grass, I have to force my voice to be still since I am so tempted to yell..."Watch where you're running!" or "Be Careful where you step!" In my own backyard.

When we go to the grassy park two doors down from our house, I'm constantly on watch for the  hidden dog poop and something else icky that I don't have a name for.

I have to confess, I'm more at home walking on the concrete sidewalks here in downtown Boulder, than in the plains and grasses of rural Boulder where I live. I barely check where the boys step when we're on the sidewalks, unless they're stepping off the sidewalk and into the street. Then it's a quick warning to them to get back on the sidewalk where it is safe.


Sidewalks. Concrete equals safety to me. Grass, weeds, plains equals mystery. The great unknown for my feet. You can't see what's in grass sometimes. You can see practically everything on the sidewalk. Even the stuff you don't want to see. Memories of me in the back in New York City sidestepping the grimy gobs of dirty pink bubblegum, the remnants of someone's leftover pizza, the dark, unrecognizable gooey spots stuck to the sidewalk enter into my brain in the moment.  Gross, yes but familiar. Safe.

So there I am on that Saturday, brandishing the weed cutter. Chuckling about my paranoia of all things grassy and weedy when I look down and see within the tall weeds a dead animal face looking up at me.  Of course, I scream and run away from the thick mass, leaving the cutter on the ground. I'm breathing heavy. This is so not cool. Not cool at all as I stand there taking in big gulps of air and shaking. I look towards the closed patio door.  No one's there.  My family did not hear my piercing scream and are oblivious to my fright.  I look around to the other backyards surrounding mines.  Hopefully my neighbors were just as oblivious as I was just beginning to feel a little foolish.

After a minute, I shake my head and take off  hubby's garden gloves. I walk towards the house. I'm done for the day. I'm completely done with that overgrown weed patch. What else would I find if I continued?

Minutes later my hubby who grew up surrounded by nature in the Pacific Northwest and has much more exposure to green grassy things and trees nods his head in sympathy. I don't have to touch that weed patch again. I could attempt the weeds in the front. I nod and shake my head. I could. Okay. I grab the weed cutter and head towards the front of the house with determination.

I find after a few swipes at the tall weeds by the side of the house, I can't continue on any further, the image of the dead animal still in my head. So I head back to my concrete porch.

Where it's safe. 

Maybe I'll tackle our overgrown yard another time. Then maybe not.