Monthly Archives: February 2015

BABIES OR BULLDOGS?

sleeping dogs and baby

When I turned 40, I stood before my husband, a large box under each arm.
“Pampers or Depends, sweetie, you pick. But one way or another we are heading towards diapers.”

A few years earlier, I had lobbied for French bulldogs.  So cute!  But we already had a dog, not to mention my father’s 23-year-old incontinent cat (we get a lot of incontinent animals), and my husband’s response was…not really printable.

So, I moved onto kids.  That day in Wal-Mart when I showed him our diaper options, I think he was leaning toward Depends. We’ll never know; I started gathering information about adoption the next day.
I had always wanted to adopt. I’m not sure why, but for decades the desire played like background music in my brain. I knew my child was coming to me via adoption. Child. Singular.  Tim agreed to ONE CHILD AND ONE CHILD ONLY, either homegrown or adopted.  And then he wheeled and dealt:  “I will say yes to two French bulldogs instead of one child.”  (He was a little nervous about the parenting gig at that point.)  I don’t blame him.

When we were in our twenties, he wanted two children. We were living in apartments (not very nice ones) at the time, eeking out bad livings as actors/couriers/waitstaff/reception/whatever we could get. When he said he wanted two kids by the time he was thirty, I thought, Suuuurrrrre. As if I’d become a mother under these circumstances. There’s plenty of time for that. Career was still far more important to me than motherhood. I was still far more important to me than motherhood.

And then my own parents died. And my uncle. And my aunt. That left me and my brother. Today is, in fact, the 18th anniversary of my beloved mother’s passing, Z”L (may her memory be a blessing).  At that point, Tim had lived through years of cancer and hospitals and my grieving.  He’d been gentle and strong and present for me, but he was tired.  We both were.  We needed a break and to get our happier lives back.  But when my parents were gone, I was thirty-five, and I realized that being a daughter was one of my favorite things ever. No career could come close to that feeling of unconditional love. I wanted it again, this time on the giving end.

We waited and we talked and we wrestled with the idea of a baby (if you read Carolyn’s last post, you know I do not make decisions easily…although not about clothes, Carolyn.  Please.  Look at my wardrobe.)  Nonetheless, at the ripe old age of 42 and 4o, respectively, Tim and I started the adoption journey.  And magic happened.  The kind of magic I think only God can orchestrate.  Carolyn and I got both got babies, and our lives truly began to intertwine.

–to be continued…

–Wendy

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Middle School and Menopause

Whaddya get for Valentine’s Day?  I got a Renuzit Air Freshener, lavender-vanilla scent, from my 12-year-old.

According to Renuzit, “Lavender & Vanilla is the perfect scent to fill your bedroom, or any room in your home that is your tranquil haven.”

Awesome.  Just one problem: There no longer is a room in our house that is a tranquil haven, BECAUSE I HAVE A TWELVE-YEAR-OLD.  The child I have loved, liked, adored beyond all reason is now a middle schooler with this super power:  At one hundred paces, she can make her dad’s and my heads explode with the force of an M67 grenade.  Just by glaring at us.  This child who mere weeks ago prompted me to describe her as a big squishy heart with arms and legs, could now more accurately be likened to Rambo–with permanent PMS.

Yeah, you don’t want to cross her.  If you’re her parent, that is.  Her teachers continue to describe her as “darling…so sweet…what a dolly….”  And her new friends tell me, “We love her.  We LOVE her.  She’s so funny and SWEET.”

‘Kay.

This is what comes of waiting to become a mother:  Instead of the 30-year-old who would be calling right now to see if I’d like to sip a latte while we watch my grand kids make kissy faces at the warty pigs in the zoo, I am living in a zoo.  I can’t tell if I’m having hot flashes or my blood pressure has risen to a stroke-producing high.   Probably both.

I wish I could call my mother and apologize, but she passed away before Karma began to have its way with me.

Ah well, at least daughter No 2 is only six.  By the time she’s going through pre-adolescent psychosis, my husband and I will be too addled to realize it.  That’s one of the bennies of being an older parent–a total break from reality just when you need it (or, the wisdom to fake it).

Good luck to all you menopausal middle-school mamas out there.  Let us know how you’re dealing with it.

–Wendy

 

 

 

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Change of Life Baby

Kids, this is where Wendy comes into your Dad’s and my parenting picture. You see, before you were born, Dad and I didn’t think we wanted you. Remember, we were young. And brain-damaged. Anyway, we thought we wanted someone else’s kid. We weren’t sure that bringing someone with our chromosomal predisposition to lunacy into the picture was such a good idea. We thought, why inflict the world with more of…us. Why not give a home to a pre-owned kid? Didn’t that just scream altruism? And if there was one thing we cared about, it was appearing as if we cared about other things.

So, before we birthed you, we collected a ton of adoption data. Keep in mind, this was before the Internet, and we actually had to sit down and write with a pen and paper and use the U.S. Postal service and everything. But, as you know, that dream sort of fizzled when we decided that though the quality might not be there with a homemade kid, the price was right. So there you are. Literally.

One day, I told Wendy about my laundry basket full of adoption materials that we’d never be using. Since she and her husband, Tim, had wanted to adopt forever, I offered it to her. She took it and put it to good use and I got to live vicariously through her thrilling search. After all, I was so done having kids.

Then one day, Wendy called. It seems she’d been offered a baby through a private adoption. Squeee! I was over the moon excited for her.  An infant! A boy! He was so cute!  I’d be the best Auntie ever!

Now kids, this might be a good time to take a rabbit trail and talk about how Wendy and I shop. I am the kind of shopper who sorta knows what I want when I get to the mall. If I see it—or something vaguely similar—at the first store and it fits my body and my budget, I buy it, and take it home. I may look somewhere south of stylish, but at least the tedious search is over.

Wendy on the other hand, will go to all the stores, and when she can’t decide, will visit all the other malls. Usually, in less than a year or so, she will finally select a store, tentatively make her purchase, take it home, try it on, decide it is not right and return it.

Same thing with our writing. I’m a fan of the “lick-and-a-promise” school of editing. Wendy is more the considerate, “anguish-over-each-word” school.

I think that we can thusly surmise: I am an ill-dressed purveyor of schlock and she is a semi-nudist with a shelf full of writing awards.

So, I was not totally surprised when Wendy wasn’t sure if the baby she’d been offered was…hers.

Kids…it turns out the baby was mine. But that story is going to have to wait until next time.

Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Adoption, Humor, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, The Bi-Racial Family, Weight gain

Rosemary’s baby

Linda BlairOkay, kids, where was I? Oh yes. We were the first people to birth the perfect child. Clearly, she was so wonderful because we were the perfect parents. Waiting 16 years to have her had obviously mellowed us into a sweet and creamy perfection and our child could sense our superior harmonic waves and was thriving accordingly. And because she slept through the night right away, hardly ever cried, was endlessly amusing, we decided to give her a sister.

Whoa.

I sensed the difference months before she was born. Where my husband would talk lovingly to my belly with the first kid and she would gently stroke his nose through my uterine wall, the second kid would haul off and slug him.

She came out swinging and screaming and no amount of prayer or exorcism seemed to help. We’d failed. We’d lost our mojo.

The moment she was old enough for a toddler bed, we held a garage sale and sold everything ‘baby’. We were done. No more gambling with our precious sleep. Besides, I was 40. Having a baby after 40 was just plain crazy. I mean, that’s what you call a ‘change-of-life’ baby. A big fat accident.

So…what do you call it when you adopt an infant at age 45?

Kids, we’ll tackle that insanity next time. Carolyn

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Filed under 35 symptoms of menopause, Marriage, Menopause, Motherhood, Older writers, romance novels

The 35 Symptoms of Menopause. Symptom #37

Libbi and Bayley July 4thSee the cute doggie in the photo?

It just peed on my refrigerator. Yeah, that’s right. In the past two years since we sprang it from its cage at Small Pet Rescue, it has peed on my chaise, the sofa, any number of table legs, the living-room drapes, and, inexplicably, a bowl of Bartlett pears.

What does this have to do with menopause?  I’m getting there.

The weird thing about this dog is he seems to know what he’s supposed to do. For months he will trot out the doggie door and return positively dancing with pride. “Lookit me, people! Look what I did! I peed outside!!!! Don’t you think I’m brilliant? Come on, give me some sugar. Get down here and hugmehugmehugme!!!!!!”

And we do. Oh, yes. The family standing outside in pouring rain or blistering sun, throwing a “potty party”, complete with dancing and our doggie’s favorite snacks? That’s us. We followed the trainer’s tips to the letter. I tethered the little dear to me for hours…days…weeks. We used a crate. We threw the ubiquitous potty parties. And everything works. For a few months. Until once again I see the tell-tale dribble of yellow on my Bartletts (which were on the kitchen table, in case you are wondering).
We have called Bichon Rescue…Poodle Rescue…the shelter advice line. We bought a “Belly Band”—which, the pundits proclaimed, was the only “solution” we had left.

Changing a dog’s diaper for the next 13 years (Bichons and Poodles live a long time…if you don’t kill them) did not sound like much of a “solution,” but I couldn’t find anyone else stupid enough to take a non-housebroken, 2-year-old, brain-addled Bichon-Poodle mix, so I bought the Belly Band.

“Dogs never pee in the Belly Band,” assured the lady at Bichon Rescue. “Unless…they’re incorrigible.”

“What do I do if he’s incorrigible?”

“You could put a sanitary pad in the Belly Band to catch the pee.”

“What?! I am all through with sanitary pads! It’s one of the perks of menopause,” I insisted to the poor woman who thought I’d just phoned to talk about the dog.

“Well…” she sounded nervous “…I’m sure it won’t come to that anyway. Almost no dog pees in the Belly Band.”

Right.

We now have three Belly Bands, so we can alternate when one has to be washed. I think the dog is brain-damaged (probably from my screaming, “STOP IT RIGHT NOW,” in its tiny little ear), though not as brain-damaged as I am for keeping him. But here’s the thing…

I think I am suffering from Menopause Symptom #37:

INCREASED COMPASSION FOR THE INCONTINENT

I mean, let’s face it: I am so close to incontinence myself, it would be bad karma to ditch the pup because he’s peeing where he shouldn’t.  I don’t want to give my kids any ammunition.  So, yes, nine years after I bid farewell to the feminine protection aisle, I am back.

Depends are probably just around the corner.

–Wendy

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I Am NOT Ready For My Close-up; I Am In Menopause

I have loved being in my fifties.  Sure, sometimes I look worse than ever before in my life.  Sometimes I feel worse.  But I became a mother again.  I have cared more about what’s in my head than on my face.  I’ve cheered women like Helen Mirren and Annette Bening who have had the chutzpah to keep their real faces throughout their fifties, thereby empowering us all.  But that was then.

Helen had a “lower face and neck lift.”  And now I want one.  I want one, actually, that starts from my ankles and pulls everything up.  Everything.  Up.  Several inches.

What happened?  I am interrupting our regularly scheduled programming (How I Met Your Other And Became A Menopausal Mother), to tell you.

Yesterday, I was happily working on a book when my husband said excitedly, “Will you take my head shot?  The light right now is PERFECT for a photo.  Right now.  We have to do it now!”

Head shots help him get work and that makes him happy, and I like it when he’s happy, because I like(d) him.   So I stepped away from my own work to help him.  Out of the goodness of my fifty-three-year-old giving heart. 

After snapping some lovely shots of him looking very debonair and James Brolin-ish in the allegedly PERFECT LIGHT, he offered, “Let me take a couple shots of you.”  How sweet.  I would post the results of those shots in THE PERFECT LIGHT here, but pride will not allow.

Have you ever made Flubber?  It’s really cool.  Flubber stretches and pulls, and you can poke your fingers in it.  It’s fun to play with.  IF IT’S NOT YOUR FACE.

Not only have my cheeks and jawline turned into Flubber, a network of lines–some of them actually intersecting–have crisscrossed what used to look like skin, but now resembles a U.S. Geological Survey map of earthquake faults.  In California.  Also, my left eye is nearly completely covered by what I assume is my left eyelid (although I didn’t know eyelids could stretch that far).

“AUUGGHHHHHH!!!!!!!  Is that what I look like?  Is that what you see?  Is it?  Is it?  IS IT???????” I screamed, pointing at the giant head displayed on the jumbo tron my spouse calls a computer.

“No, no, no!” he screamed back, obviously startled, but then he seemed confused.  “Well, yeah.  I mean…yeah.  Why?  You look good.  Honey, don’t you ever look in the mirror?”

The lines on my forehead must have reconfigured to spell the word D-I-V-O-R-C-E, because he quickly backpedaled.  “No, no, you have to remember that is a photograph.”

“So?”

“So your head’s really big up there.”

“Yeah?”

“And my camera picks up every li–.  Every detail.”

“Uh huh.  So in real life, you can’t see that many details on my face?”

“Noooo.”

“And I do still have an upper lip?  And a left eye?”

He hesitated a tad too long.

I started to sniffle.  “I’m aging badly.  When I’m sixty, our children will pretend they don’t know me.”

He put his arm around me for a snuggle. “Come on, they do that now.”

I smiled.  A little bit.

“Listen,” he said, “you grow as a wife and mother and woman every day.  You make menopause beautiful.”  I smiled a little more.  He draped an arm around my shoulders and walked with me back to my desk.

I nodded against him.  “It was just such a shock.”

“I know.”  He kissed my temple. ” I think the best thing to do is to make a list of all the reasons you always tell me you’re grateful for menopause and read it regularly. That will keep your mood calm.”

“That’s excellent advice.”

“Yes.  And whatever else you do,” he murmured, helping me into my chair, “please don’t ever, ever let anyone take a picture of you in full daylight again.”

Wendy…about to Google Sublative Rejuvenation.

 

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