Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Last Chapter in an Amazing Book

It is amazing how much time we waist worrying about death. I (as discussed in an earlier blog) have spent many hours obsessing about the subject and I do not think that I am alone. But for the past few days, my thoughts and feelings on the subject have changed drastically. Suprizingly, the soon death of someone near and dear to me, has opened my eyes to the subject. To understand what I mean, you need to know a little bit about the spectacular person to whom I am refering, my grandma!
Grandma Darlene (my dad's mom) has had an amazing, tough, love-filling life that is winding down quickly. She is one of my biggest role models and has taught me a great deal about being a tough woman. She was married to my Dad's dad, with three young kiddos when he decided to leave her for his mistress. She was a single mom for awhile, working as a police woman when she met the man I consider my grandpa (Vince-who my son is named after). She worked as a cop for many years and later became a 911 operator, a job which most people could never do. She divorced my grandpa Vince later on and married my grandpa Bill right around the time I was born.
Grandpa Vince died when I was 12 and Granpa Bill died two years ago in July. She also outlived her first husband. Even though my grandma has many qualities to be admired, she is human and has one specific quality that should be avoided- she is a chain smoker and has been for as long as my dad can remember. For many years, we (her fmaily) tried to get her to stop, but eventually came to the conclusion that it would actually be worse for her health if she did.
For the past few years, grandma has been in and out of the hospital for various health issues. We have prepared for the worst on many occasions, but she has always come out of it. This time, it isn't going to happen. I have spent the past two days watching my tough, sassy, fiesty grandma deteriorate before my eyes. Yesterday she made the decision to die. No more IV's, no more meds, and no more machines. She is ready to go.
Before I saw her yesterday, I was a little angry about her decision and selfishly wanted for her to fight. But after seeing grandma last night, I know that she has made the right decision for herself. She was so happy and clear of mind that it made me re-think things. She seemed relieved and at peace and that makes me happy and at peace. There is still a huge, selfish part of me that just wants grandma here with me as long as she can be, but I now completely understand her and her decision.
She is a smart woman who has been through a lot in her life and  has made many life decisions on her own, if she is tired and ready, then why should I feel anything but happy for her. Do not get me wrong, I am balling while I am writing this. When she goes it will kill me and the rest of my family, but all I want for her is to be happy and free of pain and stress and that is the reaction that I am getting from her since she made the decision to be done.
I think that we may go through all of the hard things in life, to help prepare us for death. We have lost three grandparents in my family in the past 3 years-all of which were ready to go. It just dawned on me after seeing my grandma, that this is the way it is supposed to be. You live until you are tired and ready for the next stage in life. Although, I have many years (hopefully) before I have to worry about death, it makes me feel better to know that some day it will be a welcomed chapter.
I competely came to peace with the situation last night. Right before we left grandma at the hospital, I sat down next to her holding Liam. She said that she wanted to give him a kiss, so I bent down, holding him down to her. She gave him a kiss and then they both smiled. I was about to say goodbye myself (thinking that this may be the last time) when Liam leaned down toward grandma all by himself. She asked if he wanted another kiss, he smiled, and she gave him one. At this point I felt so relieved. I don't really know why. Maybe it was that Liam seemed (I know he didn't) to understand that grandma needed one more kiss or maybe it was the way grandma looked so happy and cheerful when he bent down, but either way, we all seemed relieved- grandma, myself and Liam.
I know that when my grandma really does let go and pass on, it will be horrible and extremely difficult for all of us, but I also know that she will be happy and at peace. I will miss her everday and I will make sure that Liam and any of my future children will know all about their amazing great-grandma and the impact that she had on her family. I love you grandma!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

It's a wonderful life!

This time of the year is always full of fun and joy. But having a baby changes everything, including how you feel about the holidays. When you are kid, Christmas is this wonderful, magical day that you wait for all year long. There is a fantastic feeling that accompanies this time of year. The older that you get, the less magical it is. Stress and lack of funds put a damper on things and even when things are happy and joyful like when you were young, things just are not the same. Every year the season looses a little magic. I spend every year listening to christmas music, watching christmas movies, shop till I drop, decorate non-stop and do anything that may bring that illusive feeling back, but until this year- no luck!
But having a baby in your home brings that feeling back ten-fold! This Christmas has been the most stress-free and magical that I have had since I was about ten. My husband and I spent all evening and most of the morning preparing everything for Liam's first Christmas. I know that kids don't really get the whole christmas, santa, presant, thing until they are older, but I am sure that Liam has figured it out already. He was the only kid at Grandma's christmas party that sat on santa's lap without crying, in fact he seemed quite comfortable. He has also figured out the whole unwrapping thing. He might not get that there is a presant inside, but he sure knows how to tear off the wrapping paper! I am so glad to have the holiday season that I remember from my childhood back again (thanks to my little man)!
Merry Christmas to all and I hope that you find the childhood Christmas feeling too!!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Remember that they try!

I am having a very hard time figuring out how to start this, but I think just saying it will be the best way. Being a parent is (hopefully) a two person job, but there are times being a mom is very lonely and stressful. Everyone has this idealistic picture in their minds of how both mom and dad will share the responsibilities and everything will be wonderfully equal. Unfortunately, this is not realistic. My husband is working very hard to help me and he already does so much more than (from what I have heard) other fathers do. He gets up with Liam during the night to change his diaper, he plays with him as much as possible, and he picks him up everyday from daycare. But there are so many things that, by default, are a mommy's job. This only gets worse if you are exclusively nursing.
There is no way to know how one-sided parenting is until you are there. As I said, my husband tries and does a great deal, but this does not change the number of things that I now have to do. My day consists of.....waking up at 4:45 am just so that I can pump early enough to have milk again by the time I leave Liam at daycare, get myself ready for work, get Liam ready for daycare, get him there, feed him, get to work on time, spend 8 hours being responsible for the learning of about 110 students (while pumping during my planning time and my half hour lunch), come home to immediately feed him again, play with him, change at least five diapers, feed him every two hours, get him to go to sleep just in time to have a half an hour to an hour to myself, and then off to bed to start all over again tomorrow. If this sounds like a lot to do, this is an easy day. Other days can include: dr. appointments, work meetings, grading, cleaning, and/or shopping (just to name a few).
The lopsided nature of parenting can become a cause of persistant arguing between parents. It is so difficult to keep a level head and to remember that they do not have the ability to do all that we mommies do. This is even more difficult when paired with lack of sleep, a bad day (for any party) and/or an unhappy baby. I am exhausted ALL the time and the nagging feeling that I am doing it all alone is tough to swallow. I know that I am not doing it all alone, but it is hard when your partner doesn't really understand what it is that you do differently. Men have it so easy! They get to sleep through the feedings, go to work guilt free, and play with the baby when they are happy. To make matters worse, Liam has begun to prefer mommy when he is sad, tired, or feels yucky. Don't get me wrong, there is a huge part of me that loves that he wants his momma all the time, but the tired part of me wins out most of the time.
I know that it is not possible or fair to daddys, but I sure wish that they could have just one day wearing mommy shoes or at least just be aware of the responsibilities that we take on. If you are expecting for the first time, be prepared to feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders and your shoulders alone at least once in a while. Hopefully those feelings are few, far between, and pass quickly; but I can almost guarantee that it will happen. Be prepared!