It is pouring rain and I am standing outside in the cold with an umbrella over the dog (not me) waiting patiently and occasionally coaxing her to get on with her business. “Come on, Chloe. Mommy has to go to work and it’s freezing out here.” Like she cares. What is wrong with this picture? Not a thing. If you told me over a year ago that this is what I would be doing on a rainy Tuesday morning, I would have laughed in your face. I have never considered myself a “dog person.” For one thing, I’m allergic to dogs plus I never had a dog growing up, so I was not comfortable with the whole idea. Frankly, I thought fish were more my speed—that is until Chloe came into our lives. And yet here I am, looking down at those big beautiful brown eyes of my little grey schnoodle (part schnauzer/part toy poodle) complimenting her (out loud) on how nice she looks in her plaid fall coat. Yes, I buy her clothes. Just a few weeks ago, I bought an Eagles jersey in which she proudly struts around the house on game day. I justified the purchase because everyone in our family wears Eagles green on Sundays and she is a part of our family. She also has in her wardrobe a pink dress which serves as both a ballerina Halloween costume and for when she likes to dress up on Purim as Queen Esther. As I’m writing this, I remind myself to buy that Ugly Hanukkah sweater I found online for her. I think I’ll draw the line though at the doggy dreidel hat, which looks like a miniature torture device, but I may throw in the bright blue bow if the price is right. She finally finishes what we came outside to do. We head back to the house and she turns into our driveway. I marvel at how she always knows exactly which one is ours. I’m not sure if our grass has a familiar smell or if she is keenly aware of the massive amounts of concrete divots in our driveway. She just knows. Chloe waits patiently as I bend down to remove her leash and then runs freely towards the shelter of our front porch while I walk over to the trash can on the side of the house to throw her waste bag away. “Who’s a good girl?” I scratch her head and say to her in a voice that only came along when we rescued her. I call it “my Chloe voice.” Once we are back in the house, I feed her breakfast and quickly add “Buy Chloe’s treats” to my shopping list. I seriously consider switching up the flavors from the chicken and apple sausage blend we always get to the Salisbury steak flavor that Tucker from down the street recommended. Okay, so it was my best friend Jill who made the actual recommendation, but her pug, Tucker, has a good palette. I glance at the photo on the refrigerator door taken during our summer vacation to Costa Rica. It was an amazing trip, but I distinctly remember us ready to come home, sleep in our own beds and see Chloe. Since we came home after midnight, we had to wait until the next day to pick her up from her foster family. We walked into an all-too-quiet house feeling a little sad knowing our entire family was not together and wouldn’t be until we brought her home. Breakfast is ready, but Chloe has disappeared. There are certain rooms of the house that are still off limits, and I need to know that she isn’t in the laundry room secretly licking the wet mop. I know I’m already running late, but I won’t have any peace of mind until I find her safe and sound. Typically, she hangs out on the living room couch where she can watch the cars go by, bark at the other dogs and their owners and generally position herself as the official neighborhood watchdog. She isn’t there. I also check the dog beds upstairs and downstairs, but no such luck. I curse under my breath as I walk slowly into my bedroom and get down on my hands and knees to confirm what I knew all along—that she is indeed underneath my bed again. Chloe likes to hide there to chill out and get away from it all. She developed this habit when she first came to us, and we kept her in the kitchen while we were at school and work. She didn’t care for it and we don’t even do that anymore. But, to this day, she still escapes under the bed to avoid daily confinement. Today is no different. I find her curled up next to her favorite companion—her gray flattie shark toy. Like a child and her favorite blanket, Chloe doesn’t go anywhere in the house without it. The stuffing is long gone, and it is chewed up perfectly to her liking. It smells awful and I should really throw it away, but I know that would break her heart. Since my arms aren’t long enough to reach her, I let her hang out. Eventually, she comes out when we are gone. Nowadays, we pretty much give her the main floor of the house to roam around during the day. Before I leave, I make sure the doors to the bedrooms, bathrooms and laundry room are all closed. Once, I almost closed the door to my own bedroom which would have left her stuck in there all day long with no food or water. I tend to check that door obsessively to make sure it remains open. Now that I know she is safe, I look at the clock and see that it is time to leave. I put on Chloe’s favorite radio station—Oldies 98.1 WOGL—and adjust the multi-color blanket on the couch so she doesn’t dig into my throw pillows. I inspect the floor to make sure there are no stray items scattered about that she can swallow, remembering that I used to do this when my children were small. “Goodbye, Chloe. Be a good girl,” I shout to her and hear the faint music of Earth, Wind & Fire in the background as I close the front door. Walking to my car, I smile at the “I love my Schnoodle” magnet on the bumper. Because I really do.
During this month long blog challenge, I’m sent an email each day with a writing prompt. I haven’t been following them because I like to do my own thing, but this one caught my eye: For today’s post, share a challenge. Have you faced a challenge recently that you made it through? Share it with your readers and show them how they can survive the same challenge. I’ll be honest with you. Lately, my anxiety level has been flaring up for no particular reason. I haven’t been able to pinpoint the cause, but thankfully I didn’t have to necessarily attribute it to anything to get help for it. In my case, common symptoms include not sleeping well, feeling overwhelmed by everything and nothing in particular, and not being able to enjoy myself with others. At first, these symptoms creep up on me and I don’t recognize them as anxiety, until all 3 come into play. And then, there was one weekend–fairly recently–when it got to the point that I needed to do something about it. So, this week I took some time off and saw the doctors who help me deal with this. I learned that it isn’t necessarily external factors causing my anxiety, but more likely that my serotonin levels needed adjusting. For some reason, this was a big relief to me. I continue to accept the challenges my anxiety brings me. And thanks to the love and support of my family, I’m feeling a heck of a lot better and ready to take on the world again. To others facing this kind of challenge, please don’t think you have to have a reason to feel the way you do. See your doctor and let them know what is going on so that you can get back to being your old self again.
Ah-choo, Ah-choo, Ah… Blowing my nose til its red It’s so not pretty
Kleenex are everywhere Not thrown away, I don’t care Excused from housework
Turn on the TV Please bring me some orange juice Now leave me alone
I stay home from work Robo-calls the whole day long Can’t go back to sleep
Where the heck is Whoopi? Why is she not on The View? Friday, she is off (Sad)
Do not shake my hand Keeping my germs to myself Just blow me a kiss
Tired of being sick Tea and honey are working I’ll wake up better
Kleenex are everywhere Not thrown away, I don’t care Excused from housework
Turn on the tv Please bring me some orange juice Now leave me alone
Ah-choo, Ah-choo, Ah… Blowing my nose til its red It’s not attractive
Do not shake my hand Keeping my germs to myself Just blow me a kiss
Tired of being sick Tea and honey are working Tomorrow will feel better
For 12 years, I worked in close proximity to my home, my kids’ schools, their various doctors and activities. When they needed to go home sick, I could be at their school in 10 minutes, take them home, get them settled and be back at my desk before my lunch break was over. Nowadays, I work 45 minutes from home and it is no longer a luxury for me to pick up my kids, and head back to the office. So I tend to ask this question of them – “Just how sick are you?” Follow-up question – “Can you make it through the rest of the day?” As teenagers, everything hurts and they are always tired so it is hard for me to determine what level of sick they are and what we would consider to be growing pains. So far this year, I’ve had to pick up the kids from school for a possible concussion (which thankfully turned out to be a false alarm), a stomach bug and a migraine headache–and it is only October. So when one of my kids had a lingering cough, I let it go for a while without a doctor’s visit hoping it would just clear up and go away. It didn’t. It has been about a month now and because I haven’t been feeling well myself, I made the decision to take the day off and get both of us checked out. The end result – she has bronchitis and I have a nasty cold with a side order of mom guilt. And the winner of the bad mom award for the day goes to…..
Cue the music from Hamilton…just kidding. This is going to be a brief post tonight because I am in the middle of writing a piece for a Writer’s Digest contest. I have to submit 500 words on why I love writing. I once saw a poster that read “Try and fail, but don’t fail to try.” Others have told me that just the act of submitting something means I’ve already won because others simply didn’t bother to give try. So, what do I have to lose…nothing. What do I have to gain – being featured in Writer’s Digest in their February 2018 issue–that’s what. I like those odds. Here goes nothing. Wish me luck. 🙂
There are a lot of crazy, busy mornings around here. Just picture four of us trying to get out the door for school and work in various states of disarray. The coffee is flowing. Breakfast is cooking. Papers need to be signed. And more times than not, someone typically can’t find something that they absolutely need and I ultimately have to track it down. In the midst of all that chaos, Andrew–always the last one to get up–walks down the steps, rubs the sleep from his eyes and comes over to me with open arms. “I love you, mommy.” And I remember to breathe. I am a lucky mom. He tells me this all the time and I never take it for granted. He says it every morning without fail. He says it before he goes to bed at night. He says it when I drop him off for swim practice or right before hangs up the phone. He has been like this ever since he was a baby. I treasure every single one of those “I love you’s.” He says it so casually, but he means it with all of his heart. For this busy mom, it is his gift to me every day. Fourteen years ago tonight, I was in labor with him for the better part of 8 hours with no epidural and a ridiculous amount of back pain. I had expected him to come into the world 3 days earlier, but he seemed to like it where he was and in no hurry to meet us. I like to remind him of all of this–especially on his birthday. But I would do it all over again to have this young man in my life. So in a few years ladies if you are looking for a nice young man who is handsome, funny and treats his mom right – look no further. And by the way, you’re welcome. 🙂
I have a book on my desk called 300 Writing Prompts. Whenever I have writer’s block (or just not a lot of time to blog on a Sunday night), this is my go-to book to get in the right frame of mind. Sometimes, I’ll open it to any page with the intention of committing to the first topic I see. Tonight, I opened the book to three different places and nothing inspired me to write anything at length. So I decided to post some short answers to my favorite prompts. Here we go:
- What is my favorite way to spend a lazy day? – Reading a book or reading through a ton of magazines while sitting on the couch in my pajamas all day drinking coffee and listening to music.
- Write about something that is presently in my life that is “worth it” – This one is easy. Spending time with my kids as much as they will let me because soon enough they will go off to college and parenthood as I know it to be will be over.
- When was the last time I got lost? – The first day I drove my brand new car to work through the narrow streets of Manayunk. It was January. There was fresh snow on the ground and cars parked along both sides of the streets. The road on my normal commute was closed and I was cursing the fact that I had to take a new and unfamiliar route and didn’t spend the extra money on a GPS.
- Three realistic goals I would like to achieve in my lifetime – Write a book, tour Italy and see my grandchildren grow up.
- What do I need right now? – Dinner already made for tomorrow night, a solid idea for the book I want to write, and money for my new kitchen.
- What do you think is the most important question in life? – Will this make me happy?
- What takes too long? – Laundry
- Which household chores do I hate doing and what do you like? – I like de-cluttering and reorganizing different areas in the house. I hate cleaning the bathrooms.
- What am I happy to finally check off my to-do list? – Today’s blog post. 🙂
I’m kind of a Facebook fanatic. This will not come as a shock to people who know me pretty well. But, to those who don’t –it’s true. It is not something I’m proud of but I am coming to terms with my relationship with Facebook (FB for short. 🙂 ) I indulge in this – I guess you would call it a hobby — because I don’t indulge in much more than laundry and chocolate in my adult life. I don’t tweet or pin or use SnapChat. I barely know how to follow my own kids on Instagram although I know it is the thing I should probably get next. That is – if I want to waste more time. FB provides amazing articles without having to subscribe to more magazines. FB gives me access to insightful (and often hilarious) commentary by those whose opinions I admire and respect. FB offers trips down memory lane – like an old commercial or a list of fun facts about some of my favorite ’80s movies.
When I received my school report card, I always knew what to expect. My grades were typically A’s and B’s with the occasional hard earned C in math or science. And then there was the comments section. No matter what grade I was in, my teachers would always check off #2–conscientious and dependable. These two words followed me all through grade school and into middle school and high school. I was considered by my teachers as a reliable and responsible student. I had great follow through on assignments and could always be counted on to never miss a deadline. Being conscientious and dependable is a great thing for parents to see on their child’s report card, but it is a lot to live up to in real life. As an adult, I think some would say that I’m a conscientious and dependable employee, parent and spouse – but for me, perhaps this is to a fault. The last thing I ever want to do is let anyone down. And when I do, I feel anything but conscientious and dependable. I feel awful about it. I’ll never forget the time my best friend asked me to pick up her kids from school and bring them home so they wouldn’t have to walk home in the pouring rain. I guess I had a lot to do that particular day because when I got to school, I picked up my own kids and drove off, completely forgot about hers. She forgave me because that is what best friends do, but I’m still bothered by it many years later. To this day when she asks me to pick up her kids, I put a note on my steering wheel and a reminder in my calendar so I never forget them again. But I can’t do this for everything and everyone. These days, I’m trying to give myself a break. It is almost impossible to always be that kind of person to everyone in all facets of life–no matter how much I want to. When I’m working hard at my job, I’m forgetting something or someone at home. There are so many loose ends swimming around in my head, too many to-do’s on my list, and lots of projects whose status ranges from not yet started to not quite done. If I could go back in time to my teachers, I’d rather them put in the comment – “she tries her best.” That puts a whole different spin on things – don’t you think? So much less pressure on myself. Just think of all the anxiety I could let go of if trying my best was good enough and equally appreciated. In the end, I think a change in my own attitude is what will ultimately allow me to be kinder to myself. In my own mind, trying my best will now supersede conscientious and dependable. And if I cross something off my to-do list, that will be nice. And if I try to get something done, but it doesn’t go as planned, I will still pat myself on the back for trying.