The Possibility Of Everything – The lengths mothers will go to help their children

standard March 5, 2010 6 responses

When Little L was a baby she didn’t sleep. At least not in her crib. Or her bassinet. Or the bouncy seat. She only liked to sleep attached to me, either in the sling or latched on my breast. At times I could swaddle her tightly and nurse her to a drowsy stupor and if I was lucky and did everything just so she would tolerate being put in her bassinet. She would even sometimes sleep in there for an hour or so.

Then she’d be up again.

 All swaddled up and definitely not asleep.

By the time she was five months old I was a complete and utter wreck. I was working full time and not sleeping at all. And I went a bit crazy.

Which is when people started telling me to let her cry herself to sleep.

Now, I’m not a masochist. And I don’t not believe in letting babies cry themselves to sleep. But I truly didn’t think that this was the right solution for Little L.

You see, she was all of 5 months old, but I had an older child with asthma, and in my gut I knew that Little L had it too. She had none of the classic symptoms that are usually associated with asthma – shortness of breath, scary non breathing episodes, wheezing…, but in my gut I knew she had it.

Everyone thought I was just making excuses so I wouldn’t have to let her cry.

It took a lot of me standing my ground and repeating again and again that babies who cough when they lie down and cough when they cry are showing symptoms of asthma. Babies who cough so hard when they cry that they end up throwing up are definitely showing signs of asthma.

It took all that and a smart and understanding doctor whose own children suffer from asthma for everyone to be convinced.

We started medicating right away and those coughing episodes stopped.

And no, she didn’t start sleeping. You wish the story ended so easily. But because she was being medicated and treated for her asthma we were able to start sleep training her. It paid off over a year later when, at the ripe old age of 17 months Little L slept through the night for the first time.

She’s still a terrible sleeper, but that’s not really what this post is about. This post is about moms knowing when something is wrong. It’s about moms saying “I know this could be nothing, but it’s not. There’s something really wrong here.” and then doing something about it, anything, to fix their babies, to make them feel better. It was inspired by Hope Edelman’s memoir The Possibility of Everything.

Out of the blue one day, Hope’s little girl Maya started talking about an imaginary friend, an evil imaginary friend. And it could have been nothing, one of those things that kids do. But Hope knew in her heart that it wasn’t, and she went to the ends of the world to help her daughter.

When I started reading her book I found myself rolling my eyes. I mean, kids get imaginary friends. It’s normal. But as I kept reading I felt compassion for this mom who knew something was wrong and had to fight not only what was broken in her child, but the skepticism of all the people around her. I’ve been there before, and while I didn’t have to go to Belize to find the solution to our situation, I was still able to relate from the beginning to the end of their journey.

If you’re a mom, or a dad, or just appreciate really amazing writing I highly suggest that you read The Possibility of Everything. It’ll help expand your mind in ways you never imagined. And it’ll make you understand how sometimes a parent really will go to the ends of the world to help their child.

This post was inspired by the Silicon Valley Moms Blog bookclub pick of the month The Possibility of Everything by Hope Edelman. Be sure to visit the Silicon Valley Moms Blog to see other posts inspired by this amazing memoir and to read a Q&A with the author. (One of my questions about their experience is listed!) 

A little Coco Chanel Flashback – SV Moms Bookclub

standard January 28, 2010 2 responses

It was at the end of a street near the Champs Elysees. I walked by it all the time on my way to the movies, to a restaurant, to meet some friends. It was a fixture in my life, a fixture I rarely looked at let alone went into.

Why would I? Chanel was a store for old ladies. Old fuddy duddy ladies. All those woolen suits. All that bling before bling was hip. At times I would note that the suits were a tad more purple than the last season, or that pink was particularly prominent that year. But I never, ever felt the urge to go in.

It amazes me that something that felt so distant to me is something I remember clearly whenever I walk down that street in my mind. I couldn’t tell you what the stores around that Chanel boutique contained, but I remember that store so clearly.

It is for me one of the landmarks that portray my home town to me, so much so that when I see a picture of Jacqueline Onassis Kennedy, wearing one of her trademark Chanel suits, or when I actually see someone in the street with one (rare, but not unheard of) I’m instantly transported back to that street corner and feel like I’m walking towards and evening of fun with my friends.

This post was loosely inspired by the Silicon Valley Moms Blog bookclub pick of the month Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky by Chris Greenhalgh. Be sure to visit the Silicon Valley Moms Blog to see other posts inspired by the novel.                                                                                 

Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind – an SV Moms Book Club post

standard December 7, 2009 4 responses

I walked into the classroom hesitantly, eying the semi circle of small desks warily. In my classroom the tables were bunched together in tiny groups of three, this was different, not what I had expected.

Then again, nothing in the class was as I had expected. This room was much cheerier than my classroom. There was more light, more bright decorations on the wall, even the children seemed much happier.

The teacher interrupted my visual exploration of her room by gently guiding me to a vacant desk in the middle of the semi-circle. That was different too, my regular teacher would have just barked at me from her desk. I sat down and stared hard at the desktop. Then the girl sitting next to me leaned over and whispered a quiet hi. And the boy on the other side leaned in an hissed at me.

“That’s my friend Matt’s desk. He’s sick. Don’t take anything, he’ll know.”

He leaned away and the friendly girl just shrugged. I tucked my hands between my thighs and tried not to touch anything on Matt’s desk.

The day continued much like that, I was a visitor in a cheerful, welcoming classroom, but a visitor nonetheless. I hated my current school, my class governed by mean girls who had assigned me a best friend who didn’t much like me, or me her for that matter. My crazy, bitter teacher, who barked at us more than she taught us. And the sheer size of the school – huge and bewildering to a kid who was not only trying to learn to be an American girl, but who was also trying to learn the language.

My visit to this new school was a step towards getting me transferred from the bigger public school to the cozier and friendlier public school. And it was great. I loved that little school with its little playground and gentle teachers. I loved the kids there. Yes, even the infamous Matt who ended up in my class the following year and never let me live down the fact that a pencil vanished from his desk the day that I visited.

I was only at that school for two years before my family packed up and moved to another country. I went on to attend two other radically different schools before going on to college. I’d almost forgotten the joy of that small classroom until I picked up Phillip Done’s book Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind. It’s an at times hilarious, at times moving, account of his days as a teacher to a third grade class right here in the San Francisco Bay Area.It took me right back.

It’s clear from this book that Done would have been the kind of teacher who would have been right at home at that little school that I so loved. And now I’m looking into seeing where Phillip Done teaches, because I would be thrilled for my kids to experience the kind of warm inspiring classroom environment that he has created.

This post was written in honor of this month’s Silicon Valley Moms Blog book club and the inspiring book that we just read: Philippe Done’s Close Encounters of the Third Grade Kind. I was sent this book from the publisher for review purposes. The opinions about it and stories that it has inspired are all mine.

We put the functional in dysfunctional

standard October 13, 2009 7 responses

I grew up knowing that we had a dysfunctional family. We were just not your classic cookie cutter family that played together, joked together, and vacationed together. We did have dinner as a family every night, but I can remember quite a few meals where none of us spoke. It wasn’t always pretty, it wasn’t always fun, but it was what it was and we dealt.

Or rather, I dealt. My sisters both ran off to boarding school at some point, leaving me stranded at home. (Not that they had an easy time of it. I read Prep. Cured me of any romantic notions about how awesome boarding school would have been.)

I’m going to spare you the unsightly details, which I’d probably get wrong anyway seeing as I saw them through my distorted perspective, but when I eventually left home (at the ripe old age of 23 like any self respecting french student) I wasn’t the only one who left. My mother, father, and I all moved out pretty much at the same time, all heading in our respective directions.

With two sisters living in New York, one parent on one continent, the other on another, and myself out in California, we went from dysfunctional family to exploded family. Seeing as none of us had been particularly close before, we could have easily just left it at that.

Instead my sisters and I rallied. We reached out across state lines and troubled childhood relationships and we held on tight. We clutched at family traditions and reinforced them with our own spin on them. We made a point to call each other more often, to take a greater interest in each other’s lives. And miraculously, we turned our dysfunctional family and made it as functional as possible despite the distance and past.

Every year we gather around a Christmas tree brightly decorated with decorations collected by our mother during our childhood. We sit and gorge ourselves on a meal that we have spent days preparing as a family. It’s our take on our childhood Christmas tradition, which boasted way more cousins, but food that was barely half as tasty (Unless Mom was cooking that year. Then it was awesome.). And I watch my sisters and marvel that we’ve stuck together through it all.

I used to dream that I’d have a family as close as the ones portrayed on TV sitcoms. It’s taken years, but I finally have it.

This post was written in honor of this month’s Silicon Valley Moms Blog book club and the amazing book that we just read: Jonathan Tropper’s This is Where I Leave You. I try to never talk about my family here. The stories that we share are not mine to publish. But this book was the most fantastic tale of a truly dysfunctional family and in order to do it justice I had to tap into my past a tiny bit. If you want to feel like your family is positively normal, loving, and wonderful then run to get this book. If that’s not what you’re looking for in a novel, then just get it so you can enjoy the incredible talent Jonathan Tropper has for description and characterization. If one day I can paint a scene half as well as he can I’ll be proud.