Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Other Son


I'm not feeling super proud of myself in the motherhood department right now.
Don't get all huffy and call CPS yet either........I didn't "forget" to feed the kids or "encourage" them to "play" in heavy oncoming traffic.

Just hear me out for a second.

Monchichi, my delicate child, will forever invoke in me the cruelest fears, the most potent worries. Because we've lived it. Over and over again. He is the weak one. I hate seeing that in print, but if we're gonna get all Darwin about it, then yes, he is not the fittest.

Superman is, well, Superman compared to his brother. He runs fast, he reads books, he talks. He is a superhero in terms of his powers when we pit him against his older brother.

But see....that's part of the problem.
I get so wrapped up in what he can do, I don't pay enough attention to the obstacles that he faces.

And that's not very fair, is it?

Tonight, when he was in the tub, he refused to let his knees touch the water. I walked into the bathroom, ready to get all Joan Crawford on his ass, and for the first time in maybe weeks took a long hard look at his legs and realized that he has been furiously scratching himself to death because of his ezcema.

I bet you didn't even KNOW he has eczema!

Well he does!

And it's all flared up and so I lathered him up in good old fashioned steriod infused cream and am sitting at the table waiting patiently for his voice to change into something akin to Barry White. Which the girls in Kindergarten may not appreciate, but the single teachers might.

Anyway, so it hit me, smacked me really, that I need to whine more about him, and not just about Monchichi. I know eczema isn't autism, but hell, he should get some quality air time too, don't you think?

Now the question is, have I redeemed myself? I dedicated an entire blog post, plus made him top ramen noodles, WITH butter, and let him eat it IN his bed, while watching a cartoon, at 8:45 p.m.

Let me know that you feel sorry for him too.
That might help.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Reading is Overrated....Trust Me, I'm a Teacher

"Brown Bear, Brown Bear, what do you see?"

"I see Monchichi coming towards me."

"Monchichi, Monchichi, what do you see?"

"I see a sucker, I mean Mommy, smiling at me."

"Mommy, Mommy what do you see?"

"I see the same damn book he's bringing to me."

"What's wrong Mommy, you don't seem happy?"

"I'm gonna lose my mind and it won't be pretty."

"Don't you want to read this great story?"

"I already have, times thirty three!"

"Red Birds and Yellow Ducks are spinning around me, purple cats and green frogs, as far as the eye can see."

"But you are worth it, my firstborn baby"

"For you I'll read again, even if I go crazy."


Thursday, April 23, 2009

It's Not You, It's Me

Dearest Target:

It brings me great pain to have to write this letter to you. I would have preferred to do it in person, but I couldn’t be sure that I would be able to contain my emotions, or my wallet.

We have to break-up.

It’s not you.

It’s me.

I just can’t restrain myself when I’m around you and my empty promises to behave and control myself will only further hurt my family.

You see, my husband lost his job yesterday, a job that afforded me the luxury of walking into your open aisles and stocking my cart with random “necessities” that made my serotonin levels skyrocket. You were always the icing on the shopping cake, my favorite stop, my paradise. Do you remember that Saturday morning, back in June of 2007, when I came in for paper towels and cat food and left with new panties and silver hoop earrings? Or the fall of 08, when an otherwise mundane shopping list began to take on new life as I gently placed those glass pumpkin spice candles into my cart? Oh! And my favorite, our amazing Day After Christmas tradition, those yummy snowman towels, the tree skirt, those beautiful discounted ornaments!

You have been a remarkable friend, always accepting returned gifts and forgiving buyer’s remose.

I don’t know when we will meet again. But for now I forbid myself from looking in your direction, for fear that I may lose my willpower and give in to your tempting ways. You will hear through the grapevine that I have moved on, and this, my darling is true. I have surrendered myself in the midst of this financial crisis, and tearfully run into the far less attractive arms of your greatest foe.

My shopping list now belongs to Walmart.

Shhhhhhh. It will be okay.

Someday we will meet again.

And it will be beautiful.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

This Too Shall Pass........Right?

You think it won't happen to you.

Then, in the middle of the morning, when he should be at work, your husband shows up at the park and you know.

He's lost his job.

At 10:05 a.m. I was still blissfully unaware.

By 10:33 I was sobbing like a child, hiding behind a tree, so that my children wouldn't see the seven stages of grief before lunchtime.

I have refrained from grabbing my keys and driving down to his ex-employer and screaming at them. "Don't you KNOW we have kids? And hospital bills? And that I work at a private school??!"

But I have chosen to be civilized and even offered my pain and fear to God.

But I guess it wouldn't hurt to have your prayers in our corner either.

I guess now I don't have much choice but to write that best-selling memoir.
You just have to promise to buy it.

And don't expect a discount.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Apologies and Such

It's been a whole week since I blogged and so I would like to make some swift yet sincere apologies, to you dear readers, because I know how much you rely on my blog to get you through your boring and mundane lives.

How am I doing so far?

On behalf of my MIL, who would like to apologize for loving me so much that she manipulated all of my time while she was here on vacation this last week, therefore preventing me from blogging in a timely manner. Sheez. Some people can be so clingy, you know?

On behalf of my husband, who has to be so darn lovable that I just had to plan an extravagant Casino Night party to celebrate his 30th which again, prevented me from being a devoted blogger and providing you with the will to go on.

*If you find your picture here, and you would like me to remove it because you have a gambling addiction and don't want your support group to find out you were at our party losing big money, contact me and we can work something out. For a price.*

On behalf of my children, who are so freakin cute and cuddly that I chose them over you. I know. I am a monster.

On behalf of myself. Because I am on Spring Break and instead of drinking myself into a stuper and flashing the "Girls Gone Wild" film crew, I decided to really go all out and ignore my blogging responsibilites for a week.

Lucky for you I missed my blog too so tune in tomorrow for what will undoubtedly be more of the same crap.

You're Welcome.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Diluted Catholicism

When you have four generations of Polish-Catholics on any given Sunday together in the same house, you are quickly made aware of the stark differences in how your grandmother, your mother, you, and your own children have been raised and reared in the Catholic religion.

And you begin to notice, how with each generation, your faith has been consistently diluted.

My grandmother, now 84, spent ¾ of her life living in small villages in Poland. A mother of three, she was a widow in her thirties, and chose never to remarry. Since I can remember, the woman has had a rosary permanently adhered to her palm, the simple beads a source of great comfort during sorrow, a way to show gratitude during times of joy. I still wonder why they don’t make holsters for those things, because I would totally buy her one for Christmas. Her prayer books are worn and she still reads them, though by now she has the contents fully memorized. She knows all of the saints by heart and will steer you to the right one, depending on your circumstances. She has seen the ugliest parts of humanity, a teen during WWII, stepping over the bodies of fellow countrymen slain on the cobblestone streets of her beloved occupied country. She really did walk barefoot, in the snow, to attend weekly mass with her family as a young girl. She sought God always, and still does, and I believe that when she prays, he listens. He’s probably scared not to. She takes her Catholicism seriously and has little to no tolerance for anyone that doesn’t. But if you are in need and want to get God’s attention, she’s the liaison you’re looking for. If she were a man, she would probably be a priest, or a bishop, or even the Pope. She is a supersaturated Catholic.

My mother, daughter of the aforementioned grandmother, also has a strong faith. Her crucifixes are strategically hung throughout the house, each one a symbol of protection and resurrection. She has never been to church in jeans and without lipstick, and she genuflects like a pro. Her rosary is tucked in her nightstand, in a box, at the ready, and she has dreams about Pope John II telling her that Monchichi will talk one day. She has been to Lourdes and sprinkles the house with Holy water. She will skip mass if she’s camping or in Palm Springs, but keeps a vigilant and judgmental eye on those in the family who come tardy or don’t come at all. Her faith has seen her through her own share of pain and disappointments but she enjoys the occasional debate about what it all means and how “can God let all this bad stuff happen?” She watches biographical movies on the Polish channel about Sister Faustina and Bernadette, but she also uses swear words when appropriate and misses chocolate during lent. She is devote, but slightly diluted.

Ah. Me. Where do I even begin? Well, I was obviously raised Catholic and still follow my faith. I have a love/hate relationship with it all, especially the stuff that scares the &O*!# out of me, like the going to hell part, and the whole “God is watching you” thing. I don’t take comfort in a rosary and I have skipped more Sunday masses than I care to admit. But I have the whole Catholic Guilt thing down to a science. I feel guilty for everything. And my family and friends know it and dare I say, have taken advantage of that fact more than they care to admit. Crucifixes scare me, but I hang them up anyway because, well, Hell…… just doesn’t sound like a nice place to live. I was baptized, had First Communion, been to confession enough times to save YOUR soul too, did confirmation, and…….. got pregnant before I was married. WHOOPS!! Have I mentioned that our church frowns on this? Not smirks, not shrugs, but Frowns. I remember when the husband and I had a civil wedding ceremony and I finally felt legit. I went to confession at my local parish and spilled my guts to the priest. I was finally going to go to communion during Sunday mass and get my mom and grandmother off of my back (which was already sore due to the growing evidence of my uncatholic ways). Know what he said? “You are living in sin in the eyes of God and in order to serve penance must live with the father of your child in a platonic way until you are married in the church.” Um. Not. So, hanging my head in shame, I walked out and stewed in guilt and shame for another few months until my son was born and I realized that there was No Way God was mad at me for him. We did the big ceremony later that year and when I took communion I felt a little bit better, but not free. Because by then I had sinned in other ways and needed to go back to confession. Cyclical. Like a big carousel of sin and guilt. I am a functional Catholic. Like watered down juice. Still good but not as sweet and obedient.

Now, my children are at an age where I think it is important to instill in them faith in God. I want church and prayer to be a common thing in our household. Given that Monchichi is non-verbal and cannot at this point in his life understand certain intangible concepts, we do our best as a family to incorporate God in our lives and sort of cross our fingers and hope for the best. We attend Sunday mass (but sometimes not), and pray everyday. Ian knows “Our Father” by heart and begins each morning and family meal reciting the prayer. But I skip the terror and hell part. Maybe this makes me an incomplete Catholic but I don’t care. I feel guilty about it, but that’s par for the course. My husband and I (who is also Catholic) sort of take from the faith buffet and give him the version that won’t make him scared of God. Because I know what that feels like. I teach him that it’s okay to have a conversation with his creator, because it took me years to get there. He in turn, corners me with questions like “why is Jesus hanging on that cross,” or “can I bring my toys to heaven?” Having children makes you re-evaluate your own faith and how you choose to wear it. I know that without God I would not be where I am today, surrounded by an amazing family and an abundance of friends. But I have shaken my fist in the air and screamed at the stars, for my son’s autism, for my grandmother’s stroke, for a close friend’s untimely death. I have wept for the unfairness of the world and for the suffering of children, and when Monchichi was at the local children’s hospital for his seizures and we passed by rooms filled with children dying of cancer, I felt a hole grow inside of me that threatened to swallow my faith and belief in God. I sat broken and defeated until I was reminded by others that faith withstands all. Even autism. Even cancer. Even death.

Now the trick is to look like I know what the freak I’m talking about when Superman corners me with his deep and inquisitive questions.

Looks like someone is off to bible study.
And confession.

Monday, April 6, 2009

He's Just That Into Me

When I first met my husband at an upscale bar and grill over eight years ago, I waited until he was overcome with love and lust before I broke the bad news:

“I’m Polish.”


After days of eyelash batting (him) and heavy breathing (him again), I decided to broach the subject once more, this time offering more details:

“Um…..I wasn’t born in America. I am from Poland. We make good kielbasa.”

What is wrong with your bra?! Is there a three-digit security code for this thing?!”

You get the drift.

He was obviously so traumatized by the news, that he kept avoiding the subject.

And no, it was just an old stupid bra.

I thought the best way to get him to face the harsh facts was to invite him to meet the family. My family. My Big Fat Polish Family. (I so could have written that movie, but someone more dedicated to the craft beat me to it, damn it).

After a seven course meal, of which eight were made with cabbage, and after repeated attempts to remind my Mama and Tata to "PLEASE speak some FREAKIN English" at the table, I thought for sure our dating days were over.

I was right.

The idiot married me.

Apparently he was, and still is, unfazed by my roots. Or the two dozen crucifixes hanging strategically throughout my parents’ home. Or that “Poland has the best bread.” And that “Poland has the best butter.” And that “Too bad America is not in Poland.”

It wasn’t enough that he married me. He wanted to breed too. So now we have two half-Polish (but according to my dad, mostly Polish) boys who will carry on the Polish tradition of pretending to be American. At least during grade school.

But I digress.

So, much to my shock and amazement, my husband has spent the last eight or so years doing the exact opposite that most Polish “F.O.B’s (that’s “fresh off the boat” for you immigrant illiterates) aspire to. He is becoming MORE Polish as the days go by. He can say “Kapusta” (cabbage) at a moment’s notice, and encourages Superman to wear socks with his sandals.

He develops an uncanny accent anytime he speaks to his in-laws:
“No, weee do nat go owt deenner twonight. We rrrrrrrr beeeezi,” and is unfazed by the random little old ladies that give him parenting advice in their native tongue after Sunday mass. He loves beet soup and sauerkraut, and can tell the difference between homemade and store bought Kielbasa. He is a connoisseur of all things Polish. He is a total transplant and I couldn’t be more proud. Or terrified.

But the important thing is that he knows the value of a good ol Polish wife. And that she’ll send him straight to her crazy Uncle Ted’s house in the middle of a tiny village on the outskirts of Krakow if he should ever forget.

They don’t call him Crazy Uncle Ted for nothin.

So the gist of it is is that he adopted our way of life because for some reason, it made sense to him. And didn't scare him away. Not even when he was completely outnumbered at our wedding, which was at our Polish church in Los Angeles, lasted 12 hours, began with the bride and groom taking simultaneous shots of vodka and scrounging for pennies on the floor, and had enough food and booze to outfit a small continent (hmmmmm.....I guess there are some benefits).

But honey.

I do think we ought to talk before sending the boys to Polish school. It's where I um, learned all that great stuff you loved about me when we first met.....

So thanks honey.

I appreciate your embracing my culture as your own.

And for loving cabbage almost as much as the purebreds do.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Just a Tiny Favor

My ego needs stroking.

I know I am building a wonderful readership here on my blog. It has been an amazing journey so far, one that I am excited to continue. It has helped me chronicle my everyday joys and woes, and has helped build discipline in an art I have always loved but buried and kept secret for too long.

But I need your help.

See, I love reading your comments and knowing that you are reading what I have to say (even though, half the time, I have no idea what I’m talking about). It gives me strength and courage and inspiration.

So I guess I am trying to tactfully solicit (read: beg) you for comments. Just letting me know you are there. Because it’s fun to read what you have to say. And while I want to develop an audience for my writing, I also want to make new friendships and connect with old ones.

Plus, it's like the blogging version of tipping. You wouldn't run out on your waitress at Red Robin after she brought you that third extra ranch dressing would you? Or not tip the stripper that..................well, okay, you get my drift.

So let me know you’re out there. And let your friends know I'm out here. Sharing is caring people. You learned it in kindergarten. It's time to put it to good use.

And tell me what you think.

Otherwise, all I hear are crickets.

And since I know you are probably busy, or lazy, or both, and because this is a Full-Service blog, I have compiled some pre-made comments for you! I know! I think of everything!

Official Dose of Blog-Approved Comments:

*You are terrific!

*You make me: (pick one: smile, laugh, cry, happy to be alive)

*I wish I were you!

*My God, you are dripping with talent!

*It's like Shakespeare but better, without all of the thy's and thee's and wilt thou's

*Could you be any prettier?!

*Getting out of bed used to be hard, but not anymore! Your blog gives me inspiration to feed, clothe, and occasionally even bathe my children!

These are just some of the pre-approved comments at your disposal people! Now all you have to do is type them in.


I can't do everything for you!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

You Said It Was Okay

And I'm a good listener.

So here you go.

I want a life less ordinary.
I want expensive shoes
I want to fit
Any pair I choose

I want exotic stamps in my passport
And an address book so full it won’t close
I want breakfast at noon
And I want to memorize a really good joke book

I want to make art with food
And sing the blues

I want to be somebody’s muse

I want to fly first class
and watch your eyes
As we land on a continent
You recognize
Only from a globe

And stories I told

I want to smile
At the reflection in the mirror
Even if it’s a little bit bigger
Than a year ago
Or more

I want to forgive you for
What you did before
Because it makes sense
To let the little things

I want to
And meaningful

What’s wrong
With that?

I want permission
To progress
At my pace

Towards my finish line

In my own race