Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Here I was, on the verge of the greatest announcement of the year (and no, it doesn't have anything to do with new babies), and it all went crumbling under.
I was so proud, so elated, so relieved that this entire winter our entire family survived without getting sick even once.
And then my husband had to go and ruin it for me.
How he came about the nasty cold that he has is a mystery to me. After all, I am the one who works in a hospital, and have been surrounded with kids sick with every bug under the sun since December. He, on the other hand, works in an office with roughly 10 other people, none of whom, to my knowledge, are under contact or airborne precautions. And yet he is the one sounding like an 80 year old elephant with a defective trunk.
It never seizes to amaze me how even slightest presence of an illness kicks your whole life right out of its equilibrium. There is just that feeling that something is not right, the house is messier (and not just because it is littered with tissues), everyone is in need of a shower, a hug, and a cup of something steamy.
Even though I still don't have the symptoms, and Joseph has only exhibited a mild variation of what his daddy has, it is as if the entire house, walls and kitchen cabinets included, is suffering.
I don't like this feeling.
We are trying to power through the runny noses and coughing, employing everything from nose drops to throat syrups, from teas to honeys, which are all excellent helpers with just one major drawback: they taste nothing like bacon or green chile, and thus have to be mostly forced on our daddy and husband.
I hope it passes soon, so we could return to normal sequence of sleeping and waking hours, venture outside on some big or small adventure, and get the stench of dayquil out of our clothes.
Meanwhile, I am off to make some tea and cozy up under a blanket with my sickies.
Don't sneeze, everyone.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


On Tuesday night I came home, swallowed cold dinner, and climbed under covers with my pajama'd little man who was sprawled across the bed, his blanket kicked off to form a mountain at his feet. He slightly moved in his sleep, barely startled by my intrusion, and as I slightly kissed his forehead, almost inaudible "choo-choo" (yes, we are in the train phase) escaped from his mouth.
I hadn't seen my son for two days. Or, to be more precise, I had only seen him asleep, in the morning when I left and at night when I came back. I had to patch together his days from phone conversations with other people as he laughed / screamed / cried in the background.
I have been busy.
There will be many more days like these in the weeks and months to come, and while I have made this choice consciously, there are still moments where I second-guess myself, there are still days when I wonder what I could do so he remembered me being there, not me being away.
As I have mentioned a while back, it seems to me sometimes that parenting is a lesson in learning to let go. It wasn't until recently, however, that I realized, it goes both ways.
As I watch him wave good-bye and blow me kisses instead of crying and hugging my ankles as I head out of the door, I understand that learning to let go is one of the many lessons I teach him. Why is it that holding on is something we all do well, but letting go is a skill we struggle to acquire?
I want to believe that I am never away. A part of me is always there with my son, just like he is always there with me throughout the day, only a heartbeat away, no matter how far.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


Joseph didn't sleep last night. Well, to be perfectly honest, he slept until 1 a.m. (roughly 2 hours after my head hit the pillow), and then woke up. Nothing in particular was wrong, he wasn't teething or hurting, he wasn't thirsty or scared. He woke up and decided that sleep was not on his agenda anymore, so he wanted to play, look out of the window, listen to music, and read books.
Do I need to mention what I thought of all those suggestions?
Finally, around 4 a.m. or so, sleep deprived, and on the verge of walking out, I shoved him in the car seat muttering the words-that-should-not-be-spoken under my breath and drove around the town.
At 5 a.m. we all crashed into the motion induced sleep hoping somebody cancels morning.
And the next day I woke up a mean mommy. A part of me despised the mother I was, the grouchy, the unfair, the indifferent, but mostly I kept filling up on caffeine, and telling myself it was justified.
Later in the day, we found ourselves sorting through some books at a local library when a small book practically jumped into my hands: Toddler: Real-life Stories of Those Fickle, Irrational, Urgent, Tiny People We Love. I smirked. I could so contribute.
And then, out of habit and curiosity, I opened the book on a random page.
The story's title was When Unthinkable Happens, and while I won't indulge into detailed retelling, I will say that it involved words like paralyzed, tumor, chemo therapy, and many others that should never be found in the same sentence with the word toddler.
Beautifully written, it was a story of survival, and courage, and beating the odds, and it served as a harsh reminder that I forget how good I have it.
I glanced over at my little person who was busying himself with rearranging the library book shelves and almost sobbed right there in front of the parenting section.

We all get so caught up in the race to raise a child, hurrying them along, rushing them to walk, to talk, to sleep through the night, comparing them to others, comparing them to ourselves, and getting upset when that comparison is not to our liking, when their actions don't fit the cookie cutter of our expectations. We forget they are a miracle, and a blessing, and time with them should never be taken for granted, even if it involves chasing them around the house at 2 a.m.
I often think that a big part of parenting is learning to let go. To let go of your ideas, of hopes about how it's going to be, of their hand. For now, I'll have to let go of my aspirations for a full night's sleep, and, more importantly, of the thought that I ever have a right to be a mean mommy to my fickle, irrational, urgent, tiny person that loves me so unconditionally.

Hug your babies extra tight tonight, they are a gift and not a given.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Just Another Day

While my family was sending unlawful amounts of Christmas deliciousness through their digestive systems, I was sitting at my desk at work wondering what the weather is like outside on this Christmas day.
It is not uncommon for people to work on holidays, but, for some reason, it felt like I was the one with the lump of coal in my stocking, far removed from any pumpkin pie access.
I wish I could say that my work was very important, that I was saving lives, maintaining world peace, or navigating Santa's sleigh through the stormy sky. In reality, my work is mind-numbingly boring, one of those where changing your name to "Hey" doesn't seem like that bad of an idea after a while.
I was not able to pinpoint exactly what upset me about missing that day with my family. The rational part of my brain kept telling me that this had been agreed upon long ago, that we'd still celebrate Christmas except on a different day, that I didn't have to do any cooking or cleaning up, and would enjoy my leftover plate when I got home. I kept telling myself that it was just another day, labeled extraordinary by big corporations with big advertising budgets.
I grew up in a Russian Orthodox family, therefore Christmas was always celebrated by the old calendar, on January 7th. Not only that, it didn't have a whole lot of similarities with Christmas that I celebrate now with my mostly Catholic family. While there of course was midnight (well, actually all-night) mass, and plenty of family around, Christmas was mostly about quiet family time and reflections on the year that had gone by.

Joseph making Christmas cookies with a friend

Presents were opened for New Year's as a symbol of good luck and prosperity in the coming year, and so by Christmas they were long forgotten and everyone had a chance settle back into their regular, much lower in sugar content, routine. It was traditional to visit your godparents, and take some food over, and sing carols.
Christmas on this side of the planet seems to be more about ham and tinsel, and yet somehow I found myself longing to share this day with my husband and son.
When I came home that night, my Christmas plate was patiently awaiting under celebratory Christmas foil, as was a pile of presents, and greetings from everyone I had missed that day. Joseph was sound asleep, dreaming presumably of sugar plums, as all children should on Christmas.
Just another day passed. I had believed it meant little to me, yet in the end it left me hopeful that next year, come December 25th, I will be there indulging in sugar, tearing apart wrapping paper, and watching my son build castles out of packaging.

Hope you had wonderful Christmas. And Happy Coming New Year.

Friday, December 17, 2010

This story was supposed to be about something different, but then look what happened.

Everything else can wait now, there is snow in the world, after all!
It is not surprising that Christmas is celebrated this time of year. There are few things on this planet as awe-inspiring weather-wise as snow, and therefore, it's perfect for Christmas. Every season is, of course, beautiful, but the change is always gradual, from bare, to green, to yellow; it takes weeks or even months for change to mature and manifest itself.
When it comes to snow, however, it's different. Of course, one can usually feel it coming, and not just because the weather service told you so. There is calmness all around, as if the world is bracing to prepare, both up in the sky, and down below, for the grand show. The air is translucent and crisp, the night sky is starry-less and covered in white, as if a big bag of snow is stretched over our heads, dangerously full, about to tear, and spill its heavy load of weightless snowflakes.

My fondest childhood memories are of snowy days and everything they entailed. The snowball fights, the sleigh rides, making snow angels until your clothes are so wet, you have to change your underwear, too. The favorite part? Hands down trying to catch the snowflakes with your mouth... and watching others do so.

What's yours?

Friday, December 10, 2010

This Moment

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see.

Inspired by SouleMama

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Perfect Pair

It isn't the size of the gift that matters,
but the size of the heart that gives it.

When I was little, I had a lot of things that were hand made by my family members. My grandmother was an excellent seamstress, and growing up, I had a closet full of clothes made by her for my sister and me. My mother didn't inherit her mother's outstanding sewing talent, but she still sewed things for us once in a while. She is also very good at knitting. I vividly remember this one year when extra money was scarce in our home she knitted a pair of gloves for my birthday. The fingers were all of different colors, and they had flowers on the back of the hands, and I wore them until unsightly wholes appeared on the tips of the fingers.
This year, when we went to visit grandma, my mom, with Joseph, she presented him with a pair of socks. A special pair of socks, made just for him by her. They may not be the prettiest socks around, but they were made of sturdy wool to keep his little feetsies warm on cold winter days.

She knitted the left sock anticipating our visit, missing him, wishing October got there faster, longing to hold him, kiss him, and spoil him rotten. She knitted the right sock, just to make sure she guessed the size correctly, while we were there, in between her attempts to fit a year's worth of hugs and kisses into the month of our stay. Every thread in this pair is laced with her love, her thoughts and dreams, her hopes for him.

Joseph and his grandma

Joseph doesn't yet care about what he wears. I could put a pair of ziplock bags on his feet, and he probably wouldn't even notice. I do hope, however, that through the years, as more and more homemade gifts fall into his little hands, he will learn that the best and most precious gifts rarely come in a shiny box accompanied with a gift receipt, they are wrapped in love and tied with thoughtfulness.

Are you making any special gifts this year?