The beginning of the end

August 23, 2015

Meena & me on Easter from this past year.

Meena & me on Easter from this past year.

They say dementia/Alzheimer’s is worse for the family than the person who is suffering with the disease, but I’m not sure I’m convinced.

My grandmother has dementia. She’s had it for quite some time, but just recently it feels like she fell off the cliff. She has taken a dive and there’s no going back. And you know what, she knows it too.

I visited her in the hospital today with my mom, brother, and grandfather, and, in between talking nonsense, she spoke reality. She’s not an easy dementia patient. She is stubborn and angry and gives the doctors and nurses hell. She screams and curses (both in English and East Boston Italian slang) and downright loathes the help the nurses try to provide her. Plus, she’s in pain. She’s uncomfortable.

But, putting that aside, she knows she’s dying and she knows the state she is in just sucks. It might not be today or tomorrow or even next month, but she knows it’s the beginning of the end. She so much as said it today. She wants to have a conversation and searches for words, but sometimes all that comes out is gibberish and she knows as much.

It’s hard for me to see her like this. Sometimes I feel like I’m having an out of body experience and I say, “Rochelle, just hold it together.” I just love her so much. She’s my grandmother, so of course I do, but she’s so much more than that. Growing up, she was like a second mother to me – that’s how close I felt to her. My sister and I were born on her birthday and she would tell everyone she met that we were her best birthday present. She told this story to friends and strangers. She told it so much, I remember rolling my eyes a few times, but that’s just how proud she was to be our grandmother. And, truth be told, I love that she shared that information with everyone.

The reality of her dementia situation hits me hardest now at nighttime when I’m lying in bed ready to fall asleep. Memories flood my brain: Good memories, happy memories. But it’s then that I long for one more real conversation with her; One more hug where she knows who I am.

Today though, I got my hug.

It was time for me to leave and I told her I had to go.

“Why?” she cried out. “How long will you be gone?”

So I hugged her, and she hugged me back. As we embraced, she started to cry. I rubbed her back and she kissed my arm and she started talking. Much of it was confusing to understand because it’s so hard for her to find the right words, but she knew it was her grandchild holding her. She alluded to the pain and misery she felt but she also said things about her grandchild being here present with her. She didn’t say my name, but I know she knew she was being embraced by someone she loves and who loves her. She knew I was her family. She didn’t say, “I love you,” but her hug and repeated kisses and tears showed me she does.

As I let go, hot tears running down my cheeks, she started rambling about her family.

“My family is stupid,” she kept saying over and over again. We laughed. It was actually the comic relief we needed. I knew she didn’t mean it (or wasn’t talking about me); it’s just how the train of words came out of her mouth.

So I have that memory. I know her dementia will only worsen. Eventually she probably won’t be able to tell the difference between family and care providers, but in that moment, love was present. She knew I was there for her.


Dirt, bugs and tears: OH MY!

May 25, 2015

Gianna had a Memorial Day assembly at her school last week. Her pre-K class performed one song, which lasted maybe 5 minutes total, yet I still had to hold back tears. I mean I could feel myself turning into a puddle of mush. I honestly don’t know how I’m going to make it through her little pre-K graduation ceremony that is set to take place in a couple of weeks. Any major or minor milestone in her life just turns on the water works. Am I a nut or do I just feel too much? Probably a little of both!

This weekend kicked off the unofficial start of summer and I just have to say that it sure does feel good to finally be out and about with the family. Maybe I appreciate summer more because of the part of the country I live in, but whatever it is, my soul is happy when I’m out and about doing things with my family. And my two-year-old son’s soul seems to be happiest when he’s playing in dirt.

Moms of boys, what is it about dirt? My son loves to find it and play with it as though it were sand. My daughter will get herself dirty playing out in the yard, but it’s just nothing compared to the way my son plays. Today he even stooped down to pick up an ant that was crawling on the ground.

“Nooo!” I screeched. “Yucky!”

It was an impulse response and I immediately felt guilty afterwards for telling him not to pick up the ant. I mean, it’s just an ant. If he wants to explore the ant, so be it, right? So yes, time for me to start working on my knee-jerk “yuck” reactions! Maybe by the end of the summer, I’ll be OK with the bugs he wants to bring to me as gifts.

Oh who am I kidding? Bugs give me the heebie-jeebies. At any rate, I’ll just have to teach him to be the bug swatter for my daughter, who, like me (bet you’re not surprised!) hates anything with tiny legs & little wings too. 🙂

Hope y’all had a fabulous long weekend. I know I’m pooped! Happy Memorial Day and thanks to all who serve our country and protect our freedoms.

~*~ Warm Wishes, Entering Mommyhood


Expert DIY needed for article!

May 19, 2015

Hi Fellow Bloggers,

I’m looking to put together a list of 101 Great Teacher Appreciation Gifts for an article I’m writing. These can be store bought gifts or DIY gifts. If you are a DIY gift expert (at least 10 years experience) or a shopping expert, I’d love to speak to you. Please email me at rstewartrubinofreelancer@gmail.com.

Thanks,
Rochelle


A picture is indeed worth a thousand words

May 21, 2014

I take a lot of pictures on my iPhone. I love the ability to quickly grab my phone and snap away at some of the fun moments of mommyhood. I think they tell a pretty interesting story. Sometimes, I post some of them to Facebook, but at other times, I don’t what to inundate my friends’ newsfeeds with photos of my little darlings. So, without further ado, here’s a photo blog of some everyday moments in life with my children.

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I love free events that provide entertainment for my children, so when I heard about Melrose’s DPW day, I didn’t delay! Gianna was thrilled to bounce in all of the bouncy houses provided and enjoyed sitting in plow trucks galore. She even had her first ambulance experience (one that did spike mommy’s blood pressure!).  Vinny was content as ever to sit in his stroller, just taking it all in while munching on his hummus sandwich.  Add sunshine and some good friends and you’ve got the makings of one glorious morning.

 

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A backyard, nice weather, children, and a new play structure give a few mommies the chance to sit at a patio set and enjoy a glass of wine. Yes, the kids started off having to learn to share and take turns on the swings, but eventually the toddlers ironed out the kinks and played together happily. And even Vinny “played” with the kiddos.

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Oh, just another milestone reached

April 29, 2014

I’ve hit a major milestone here and I’m not referring to Vinny’s first birthday. While that is truly a feat in itself (Come on,  I kept a baby alive for a whole year while teaching a toddler how to deal with the reality that she was no longer the only little person in the center of my universe. Not always easy, folks. Not always easy.), but I’m now at the end stages of weaning my little baby from nursing. And, Lordy, Lordy, am I experiencing emotional highs and lows.

On the one hand, I’m extremely pleased with myself. Since I finally disciplined myself to wean hardcore, and by that I mean no nursing all day long – not before naps or even bedtime and no bottles of milk either (he drinks from a sippy cup instead!), he’s actually taken to the change quite well.  In fact, after reading books and plopping him in the crib before bed last night, he only fussed for less than 2 minutes. I’m not exaggerating.

But on the other hand, I’m so sad to end this phase in my life. I LOVE nursing. I absolutely LOVE it. I know some people struggle with nursing, but luckily for me I did not have any major issues with it for either of my children. I love the emotional bonding. I love the convenience.  I just plain love it. Anyone who knows me knows I had no shame in nursing. I’d whip it out anywhere! And as my baby aged, I stopped using covers because a squirming baby underneath a nursing cover…let’s just say he wasn’t having it. Regardless, I’d say I still nursed as inconspicuously as possible!

That’s not to say there aren’t the downsides to it. I hate to pump; therefore, in the early stages the sole responsibility of sustenance for my baby came from me. And while that is kind of a really cool thing, it’s also very tiring! It also left me with feelings of great guilt if I ever wanted to go out of the house without him. I know this is unique to me, but I often wrestled with being able to enjoy myself without him nearby (I’m over that now!). Plus, I’m sure postpartum hormones played a role with those feelings.

What this milestone signals most of all is the end of his baby stage. He’s gaining his independence from me.  He doesn’t need me the same way he did as an infant, which I am extremely grateful and happy for, yet I mourn the change.  I am always reminded how fleeting these young years are for my kids. Sometimes they go by in a blurred frenzy – sleepless nights, first steps, new foods, coos and words. There are days when bedtime can’t come soon enough and the mess from the day remains until the next because I’m too tired to do anything but sit down for a moment of peace. But then there are the small everyday moments, like nursing a baby to sleep and holding him close to your heart, when I realize and know there’s no place I’d rather be.

So soon I’ll have my whole body back to myself again. It’s been awhile, but I don’t mind. In the span of my lifetime, it’s barely a blip. The whole cycle of birth, from conception, through pregnancy, and lactation is just an amazing reminder of God’s awe-inspiring grace.Image


The Torturous Threes

March 17, 2014

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When a black cat doesn’t just walk across the street in front of your car, but actually stops and stares at you as if wondering what he/she should do, take heed of the omen. I sure should have. But no.  My cocky self turned her nose up at the idea. “I’m not superstitious,” I scoffed in my head. “We’ll make it to pajama story time, even if we are a few minutes late.”

The idea to venture to pajama story time at the library this evening took root after Vinny took a glorious afternoon nap. My 11-month-old son doesn’t always take the best afternoon naps, leaving him ready for bed by 6 p.m. on most nights. But not today!  Today, he napped until 3 p.m., so I was confident he could muster enough baby attentiveness to make it to 6:30 p.m. pajama story time. My 3 ½-year-old toddler, who has since given up napping, except upon the rarest of occasions, was immersed in imaginative play all afternoon, so I thought she too could handle the outing.

I thought wrong.

Lately, my toddler and I are experiencing intense power struggles. She’d like to be the one in control, but I’m the mother. And, as the saying goes, mothers know best!  Since we went to the library earlier in the day to play with the trains, read books, and color, the event this evening was strictly story time. We were not there to play in the youth room. We were there to sing songs, listen to stories, and do a craft. Sounds pretty fun, right?

Well, my daughter had other ideas.

When we arrived, she refused to enter the room where story time was taking place, choosing, instead to play by the train area. She found a book and wanted me to read it to her.  So she received her first warning.

“Gianna,” I said. “We are here for story time. If you don’t want to go into story time, then we are leaving.”

But she persisted with the book and the train table. So, determined to stand my ground because at some point, whether out in public or not, children need to learn who is in charge, I told her we were leaving and I proceeded to walk out of the library.

Fortunately for me, she will follow me as I leave. If I could have, I would have picked her up, but since I was holding my 11-month-old, I couldn’t.

But let me tell you, we did not leave quietly. She screamed, no hollered, inside the elevator and as we walked out the door and I literally had to drag her down the street to my car.  One would have thought I was trying to kidnap her, she resisted so badly. In my head, I’m thinking, “What am I going to do if she bolts? I can’t just run after her with a baby in my arms. I can’t just put the baby down. I’m still too far from the car to put him in his car seat. Plus, I don’t trust her not to run in the other direction while I take the time to put him in his seat. “

So I dragged her as best I could thinking to myself, “What if I pull her arm so hard, she dislocates her arm from her shoulder?  I don’t want to hurt her, but if I let go, she could bolt and hurt herself.”

Somehow we did make it to the car. No injuries and no bolting away either.

It was definitely one for the books and, Lord help me, I will nip these tantrums in the bud.  I always considered her so mild-mannered, but as of late, she’s giving me a run for the money. Terrible Twos had nothing on these Torturous Threes. In my opinion, the twos weren’t terrible at all. I yearn for those days after an episode like today’s.


Tender moments

February 23, 2014

Some days  Most days, I feel like I’m a referee when I monitor play time with my daughter and son. Often times, I’m trying to help my three-year-old understand that Vinny’s just a baby and wants the toy she’s playing with because, well, she’s playing with it.  “No,” she’ll snap. “That’s mine.”

Sibling rivalry at its best and baring its teeth rather early…ah the future looks grim, but not really. Just look at this: 

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He is just enamored with her. He really is just her biggest fan. Belly chuckle after belly chuckle when she does something as simple as “bamming” (yes we made up that word) her hands on the sofa. Sometimes, she’ll just look at Vinny with a big smile and he’ll return with an ear to ear grin. It’s so simple, so cute, and so loving.

So while there are many moments I spend making sure Gianna doesn’t push her little brother away from a toy she’s playing with and many reminders to “be gentle, Gianna” because she forgets she’s much bigger than him, I know there’s a tremendous amount of love to go around too.