Motherhood Mondays: Futility

Kids are funny little creatures, aren't they?
I think because I know my own kids so well they can have the ability to press my every button to make me scream out of frustration and yet the next SECOND they could have me laughing so hard I'll nearly pee my pants.

::sigh:: ah kids. Sometimes when life doesn't make sense and I'm sure they're going to need years (and thousands of dollars worth) of therapy after they leave home, I stop and realize how FUNNY these children are.

A little while I go, I started emailing my family (all of whom live very far away from us) funny snipets of things the girls would do or say. I noticed a series of one-liners developing...I decided to name it "Futility".
Here's what I've compiled:
  • Futility: Being given a choice by Elasia.
    • Example -
      • Elasia: "Qara which purse do you want? (holding up both a pink and a purple purse)
      • Qara: (pointing at the pink one) That one!
      • Elasia: Nope.
      • Qara: okkkk...(pointing at the purple one) That one!
      • Elasia:Nope (and walks away with both purses)
  • Futility: Trying to get work done on the computer when your two-year has secretly run off with the cordless mouse and is still within range. I would be typing and windows started popping up/closing, things were getting highlighted - I thought our laptop was possessed. 'Til I looked over to the corner, and there was Qara with a BIG smile on her face, laughing. :-)
  • Futility: playing "I spy" with Zaqarah on the subway.
    • Example -
      • Qara: I spy my liddle eye somefin' BLUE!!
      • Me: Is it that big blue sign?
      • Qara: NO! It's yours backpack!! (note: the backpack is LIME GREEN!!)
  • Futility: staying frustrated at Elasia on a packed subway ride.
    • Example -
      • Me (through gritted teeth): I. told. you. to. NEVER. let. go. of. my hand. EVER.
      • Elasia (very loudly): I knoooow, Mommy, but that man's big belly was in the way. I think he has a baby in there! (pointing right at the man...)
Gotta love 'em, right?
Do you have any "futility" moments that make you smile at their innocence, laugh at their perspective on life or just reveal how silly they are?  Please leave a comment so we can all take a breather and remember that we DO, in fact, love our jobs.

And big "high fives" to each of you Fabulous Mommies!! You are changing the world one diaper change, one tear wiping, one disciplinary moment... one sleepless night at a time.

Motherhood Mondays: the gift that "grace" is.

**Bits of my weekend is on a bit of a hiatus. Stay tuned - it'll come back one of these days**

Tomorrow (, I guess as it IS 1:?? AM) Zaqarah Grace Gahagan will turn 3 years old. I remember, like it was yesterday, double and triple checking that pregnancy test.  Surely I wasn't pregnant!! Elasia was still nursing all. the. time.  What's a "period" anyway?!  But after the second test I swallowed the fact - we were having ANOTHER baby.

I felt like I was drowning in the crushing expectations of motherhood already, barely catching my breath in the mornings to charge head-long into days of the tedious demands of mothering 8 month old. I didn't think I was doing anything right. Anything. And here I was, going to have another one.  Most of what I was feeling (which now I know was Postpartum Depression) was chemical. Things went wacky in my brain and cause me to distort reality.

Reality: I was a pretty good first-time mom. I was tenacious with breastfeeding, even though I had to really work on that latch and Elasia had reflux. I was meticulous at filtering through all the propaganda information out there and deciding what would benefit our little family. I wasn't a germ-o-phobe, but kept things relatively clean and safe. Elasia seemed like she had the potential to be a happy person despite the eternal bouts of colic.

But I didn't see this. I would whisper prayers through tears during late night feedings, "Oh God help. Oh God help."  Nothing theologically complicated, just the plea of a young mom whose mind had turned on her. 

Adam, who was struggling with his own expectations of what parenthood would be like versus our reality, was really amazing during this time. But that's a whole other post in itself. He saw my deer-in-the-headlights look when we talked about this second pregnancy and did what any dreamily hot church-going guy would do. He prayed. And a few days later he came to me a said something like, "Babe, I know it seems like life is crazy, but I feel like this baby is a gift. Not generically, but specifically. I feel like this baby is a reward. God sees all the details of our lives here in NYC and is telling us He's proud of us." 



I chose to believe that. We searched and searched for the perfect name and when we found out, around 27 weeks or so, that it was a girl, we knew she would be called Zaqarah Grace - which means "God's Gracious Reward."

On August 24, 2007 - from that first breath at 9:40 PM on a Friday night, she was (and continues to be) exactly that. Now, I know there are actually medical explanations for this and here's my I'm-not-a-doctor-but-googled-it-enough-to-say-it-with-authority explanation: The post-partum hormones I experienced after Qara actually kicked my brain back in gear rather than compounding my PPD.  I felt like I snapped out of it. I had "space" for Elasia's tantrums (as she was 17 months old then) while nursing a newborn with one hand and sweeping the floors with the other.  I still (even now) have days when I feel like a thick dark fog is threatening to swallow me, but they are so few and far between compared to what I thought was normal motherhood before Qara came.
I feel able to truly enjoy the complex creature that Elasia is. I look at her and see a phenomenal world-changing girl who kids will read about in their history books one day...probably. Instead of seeing a tornado of chaos I (usually) see two sisters enjoying each other and discovering the world together.

Besides the science, I can't help but see Divine fingerprints in this. It's like He heard my midnight cries and saw all those tears and gave me a life-saver: A baby who would nurse/gain weight just fine. Who would grow to be a toddler with PERFECT comedic timing and lots of hugs to spare. Who liked to smush her face on my cheek just because.  Who had an infectious belly-laugh and a spritely little nature.

Who would cause me to have a heart attack at LEAST once a week because of her fearlessness at the playground. Who might not revolutionize nations in the same way her sister would, but will, nonetheless, with her own uniquely endearing charm.

I was given "grace" in the form of an unexpected baby.

Dictionary definition says it so well - each definition seems so specific to what her birth brought into my life:
grace (grs)
1. Seemingly effortless beauty or charm of movement, form, or proportion.
2. A characteristic or quality pleasing for its charm or refinement.
3. A sense of fitness or propriety.
4. a. A disposition to be generous or helpful; goodwill.
b. Mercy; clemency.
5. A favor rendered by one who need not do so; indulgence.
6. A temporary immunity or exemption; a reprieve.
7. a. Divine love and protection bestowed freely on people.
b. The state of being protected or sanctified by the favor of God.
c. An excellence or power granted by God

I'm going to enjoy celebrating her tomorrow and watching her round little face light up when she opens her presents. But I'm also going to try to remember the gift I was given called "grace".  I don't have to drown in this thing called "motherhood".

If only I could remember that every day...

Happy Birthday, My little Mugga-Moo.

Motherhood Mondays: On being a nostalgic mommy

Maybe it's the anesthesia from the intense dental appointment I had earlier today, maybe it's the fact that my parents are heading back to Florida after a WONDERFULLY long and indulgent visit, maybe it's because overnight (!) my youngest daughter can suddenly string long sentences (that make sense!) together...I dunno. Whatever the reason is, I'm feeling nostalgic. 

Forgive me, I'm really not trying to be corny. Reality is, I'm profoundly grateful for the life I have right now and I am most definitely looking forward to the years to come. So I can't help feeling the twinge of guilt when I catch myself longing for "yesterday".  It makes me laugh, too....I know.  I JUST turned 30. I don't have many "yesterdays" to my credit. But in my defense, I see this in my daughter Elasia too. She's only 4 and she already keeps a "treasure box" where she puts sentimental things that are important to her - so she can look at them whenever she wants and ....remember.

After a quick google or two here's what I found:
This beautiful painting by Mirjana Gotovac and a handy definition.

1. A bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past.
2. The condition of being homesick; homesickness.

"Bittersweet". Yep. I agree. Bitter = we can't recreate those memories and, besides, they're probably glossed over and exaggerated a bit in our flawed mind's retelling of the story. But that longing, that homesickness is sweet too. Nostalgia almost always brings a smile to my face. And I think it's playing a critical role in my ability to "mother".
Life can seem so overwhelming to me sometimes. Motherhood can tend to require EVERYTHING that I'm not good at - all at the same time. Every. day.  And I don't have the mental fortitude to "leave it all at the job" most days. If I screw up, I'm acutely aware that little lives are affected.
Nostalgia comes to the rescue.  Like a tiny cheerleader (but less annoying) inside my brain I hear, "Remember the sunlight hitting on Elasia's face when they were happily playing in the garden?!"  "Remember that vulnerable little newborn cuddle-bug that you named Zaqarah?!" "Remember how much fun you had as a kid just 'playing' with no developmentally appropriate stimuli forced on you?!"
yes. I remember. And I can do this. 
Whenever I feel nostalgic I like to look through pictures. It's entirely self-indulgent, but why do anything halfway, right? :-)  I'll spare you the family slide shows - but I can't wait to go through quite a few later, after I put these kids to bed. Beside the obvious "remember when my kids did..." memories, random memories help keep my life in perspective. Pictures of my favorite spots in NYC, the bike I learned to ride when I was little, beautiful people I've had the privilege of  knowing....When I'm drowning in the sea of mommyness, these things frame my current story. And they provide a pretty riveting plot that my kids get to be a part of too. (Does that make sense? And I'm getting too artsy-fartsy? Sorry. I blame this whole entire entry on Dr. Masaiah, D.D.S.)
It's good to feel alive and "in the moment" and yet nostalgic. Hm...I think that anesthesia is wearing off. Time to go pop some Advil and lay down.  I'll leave you with few memories that are bringing smiles (crooked, half numb smiles) to my face today.
This is a beautiful, crowded and dusty bookstore in the Upper Westside. Stores like this give me a sense of adventure. (I've always been a bookworm, though). And the anonymous person's rear-end is added comedic relief.

This beautiful lady was once a well-know ballerina here in NYC. She now lives in a nursing home, but is still so gracious in her movements and a great lunch date.

my "regular" subway stop by Rockefeller Center when I used to teach ESL

love these girls...

and I love laughing and living life with this man.
(we were trying to bulge out our biceps to make it look like we were buff.)

I'm grateful for memories. They get me through difficult days and put an extra bounce in my step during the good days.

Happy Monday, fellow Mommies.

Bits of my weekend - Volume 14

Because Sunday was a blur of church, meetings and projects around the house - I've decided to redefine which days I would call my "weekend". The winners: Friday and Saturday. :-) Here's a peek:

I took the girls for a short walk around our neighborhood and we ended up right alongside the Husdon River. Elasia was brave and ventured out on to the rocks. The "concrete jungle" DOES have bits of nature, we just have to have the eyes to see it.

Our grape harvest from Maggie's Garden.

Dinner Friday night: fresh Chesapeake Bay blue crabs....yum.

This is where Qara goes when she needs "alone" time. There's not much space in our apartment. It works well for her.


Isn't it pretty? My fabulous friend, Amber gave me this monkey bread pan from Cracker Barrel for my birthday. Love it.

this TOTALLY counts as breakfast, right?

I <3 NY. This is one of the reasons why: Hong Kong Dragonboat Festival in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens.

Looking through the reeds to get a closer look at the races.

They're neck and neck coming up to the finish line!

Besides the boat races there were preformances, arts and crafts and LOTS of good food. (and an overwhelming amount of corporate sponsers' paraphenalia EVERYWHERE)
Qara seemed more interested in her lolipop than the dragon behind her....

field of kites!

Elasia's making a paper dragon boat. (It was REALLY sunny.)

This, friends, is my dad's DREAM car. :-)

Ended the great day with a BBQ in Maggie's Garden.

And that was my "weekend"! Hope yours was wonderful - Please, don't forget about all the Arnold family is going through. They've set up a trust fund in honor of Ryan and you can donate/learn more here.

Much love from Hamilton Heights.

Real Sacrifical Love

Sorry, I had to remove the Motherhood Monday post. It needs to wait until next week.

It just does.

Here's why:
Read this story of tremendous love and sacrifice. (read from the bottom and go up) I have to pause to let it all sink in.

And I have to not be afraid to cry.

My prayers are for you tonight, Arnold family.

Bits of my weekend - Volume 13

Happy Monday Everyone!  This weekend was a blast and I really look forward to processing it via this series.

Saturday morning after lots of cuddles and hanging around way too long in our pjs, we headed out to westsern New Jersey to visit Adam's oldest brother, Aron, his wife Megan and the ADORABLE nephew, Ethan.

On the way there we HAD to stop here for lunch:
If you can get to 147th and St.'s SO worth it. While they offer all sorts of seafood goodness, as the the name suggests, we always order:


After a good long car ride, we got to Hackettstown, NJ.  We had to jump STRAIGHT into their pool. It was turning out the be the PERFECT summer day.

It's like all this summer awesomeness just happened. We didn't sit down on Saturday morning and list out all of our favorite things about summer and plan to do them. It just worked out that way. Those kind of days are the BEST.

Dinner was delicious BBQ - thanks Aron!
(AND there was watermelon! I still can't get over it all...)

Cuddles with the cute cuz.

Ride home. (I blame the poor quality of the pic on my car sickness :-))

Sunday morning!!

The girls on the way to the subway to see the church! They had an extra skip in their step because I told them I was going to be one of their teachers. (For our kids program called the Adventure Zone)

snack time during class. See that purple and blue blur in the background? That's Zaqarah. And it's normally what Qara looks like when I'm not forcing her stand still for a picture.

Playground time!

And right when I've felt like we've tried EVERYWHERE in the Upper Westside for brunch (that we can get in to, at least) our friend Daniel told us about....
Yum. Great prices and portions and flavors and....yeah, we're definitely coming back here. (AND there's a realistic kids menu)

Then, Adam took the girls home for a nap while I ran down to Port Authority. Why? Because I was taking a bus to some far away place? Nope. To go bowling, of course, while celebrating our friend MeChonda's birthday.

Yeah, I had no idea there was a bowling alley in that place - but apparently every one of my corporate friends knew about this place. It was a GREAT time.

Ode to the fabulous footwear of bowling alleys!

Then I came home to this:

note the rainboots are on the wrong feet. I wonder what Adam was doing with them while I was downtown? ha ha.

That was my weekend! How was yours?
I'll love to catch up - leave a link in the comments if your blogging about your weekend!

Much love from Hamilton Heights!