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Gone in an instant

“Time flies” has become such a cliché, hasn’t it? But how else do you describe the way time picks up and grows closer to warp speed the older you get?

20120707_151429I still remember how much I wanted to start school when I was little. My brother would head off to the bus and I had to stay home. And now, in a twinkle, it’s my son’s turn to start school. About 3 weeks ago, we heard from the school that they would offer transitional kindergarten and that we should take a look since our oldest qualifies.

I hadn’t expected to walk down that path until next year, knowing he misses the birthday cutoff by about 20 days. An now, suddenly, that reality is thrust in my face. The reality that he’s growing up. That he WANTS to go to school. That time is going more quickly than I like. That my time of influence over him is dwindling and other people will at some point have more influence than we do. That I have to let go. That he’s such a sweet soul and is going to face difficulties with his speech and being a bit behind the others. That other kids can be cruel and no matter how much I want to protect him, I can’t.

That was brought to my attention last night in stark, painful reality. And it almost ended in utter tragedy.

We went to dinner last night with the daughter and her boyfriend. We hadn’t hung out together in a while, so it was nice to visit and have a good meal together. After we said our goodbyes, we went to the car. We were parked on the street, and it’s a busy one headed out to Shelter Island. While we were getting the little one ready for his seat, the oldest was impatient. We had asked him to stand on the sidewalk for a moment and then I was going to walk him to his door, since it’s the one street-side. As we were dealing with M, the wee one, F jetted out in the street.

My heart stopped as both John and I yelled “STOP!!!!” as loudly and forcefully as we could. There were multiple cars speeding by.

He stopped at the edge of the car, just a split second away from getting hit. Our future without two sons flashed before my eyes and I almost lost my dinner right then and there.

Daddy had a long, stern talk with F about being careful and not running into the street. And as I put M in his seat, I said a silent prayer of thanks that he stopped. That he listened for once (because sometimes he keeps going and we have to say stop more than a few times). And that we didn’t have to deal with the “what ifs” that came perilously close to coming true.

And so today, I am hugging my kids a little tighter, grateful for every hug, every mess, every moment. Because it can be taken away in an instant. And we came way too close to that last night.

I can’t keep him by my side forever. I know that. But it doesn’t make it any easier sometimes, this letting go. One of the things we have to get good at as a mom, even as it breaks our hearts to do so.

In spite of all that, though, I do want him to have fun, learn, and make new friends as he starts off on a new adventure, a new phase in his life.

Oh, the places you’ll go, son.

Holy earthquake, Batman!

earthquake map 4.4.10If there’s one thing I will never get used to living here in Southern California, it’s earthquakes. Big or small, they freak me out. Today was no exception.

Or maybe it was, because this was no small thing. And it definitely freaked me out more than previous shakers. A lot more.

The unpredictability of earthquakes is what gets me. The ground starts shaking. Then it shakes a little more. And more. Is it going to keep shaking? Is it going to get a lot worse? Is my apartment going to fall down around me? How do I protect my son?

All of us were in bed, trying to take a nap. I was just starting to doze off when I felt the bed moving. It felt like someone was standing next to it & bumping it, trying to wake me up. But it kept shaking. Then it got a little harder. “Earthquake!” I said, and my husband woke up, too. It kept shaking, getting a bit harder. “Should we get in the doorway?” “Yeah, I think so.”

I grabbed my son & headed into the little hallway just outside our bedroom. Hubby went out into the living room. Things were STILL shaking. At that point, I was dizzy & couldn’t tell if it was me or if the building was still moving.

It finally stopped.

We decided to get dressed & get out of the house in case something bigger came along. We opened the front door & could hear neighbors downstairs, talking about the shaking. Our next door neighbor opened his door about the same time we did, checking in on us as we asked him how they were.

Just some shaking, a few things fell off of shelves and high places. Not so bad. No major damage that we can tell. Possibly some cracks, but this place is already so cracked who can tell?

First thing after the shaking, when I was sure we were all okay and things had stopped moving? I hit Twitter. Of course. So did a ton of other people in San Diego & So Cal. News gets around so fast.

Later, in the car, I posted a Facebook update as well, so friends would know that we felt it but things were ok. I didn’t stop being jumpy, though, for at least another hour or two.

Maybe it was waking up from a nap. You’re disoriented and it takes a moment to realize what’s happening. Or maybe it was because this really was the strongest and longest quake I can remember since I’ve lived in Cali (that’s going on 16 years, BTW).

I’m just glad it wasn’t worse. It could have been so much worse.

(thinking of those in Mexicali who did actually have it worse. and Haiti, where it was unspeakable.)

Photo: USGS

I don’t think my family is complete

J and I have had many discussions recently about our family. I want another baby. He’s on the fence about it. That decision was almost made for us recently, as I’m pretty sure I was briefly pregnant. Just long enough to start feeling it, knowing something’s different. Just enough to adjust mentally to the possibility, and start getting used to it. Just long enough to start thinking about how our lives could change, and what we’d need to do.

And then? Nothing. A very late, odd period. Not the usual (I will spare you the details of how it wasn’t the same). So while it’s not 100% certain, and there’s no way now to really confirm it, my body was telling me something.

And I believed it. And I wanted it so badly. I did. Still do. I was left with the feeling that our family is not yet complete. We still have someone else to meet.

But nothing’s ever simple. I had a lot of problems last time. It was not easy. Not for me, and not for J. He had to worry about losing me. I don’t really think that was an issue, but that does not mean that fear was not real. And if I get pregnant again, that fear comes back.

I had excellent care. My doctors were fabulous, keeping good tabs on both me and the baby. When my blood pressure went up just a little bit, they made me go in for monitoring. When the baby was stuck in the birth canal and not making any progress, they went in to get him before he or I went into distress. The surgery was a little rough, but I was fine. Tired, but fine.

Every pregnancy is different. There are no guarantees. The next one could be easier. Textbook, even. My chances of diabetes again, though, are pretty good. So we don’t know. No one ever does, do they?

The question is – are we willing to take that risk?

How do you process something like this, anyway?

If you follow me on Twitter, you saw a lot of posts about the F-18 crash in my neighborhood yesterday.

Let me start by saying that the kiddo and I had left our house about a 1/2 hour before. I wasn’t headed anywhere in particular, just getting out of the house with the boy. Mondays are my day off so it’s perfect for a short jaunt. We wound up meeting my husband at Costco and doing a little last-minute shopping before we head to visit family for the holidays.

When we got back into our cars, we heard the news on the radio. My heart froze for a minute. Would we come back to a home? Maybe that sounds a little melodramatic, but that’s what goes through your head at first when you don’t know exactly what happened nor where. We knew it was our neighborhood, which really isn’t that big.

As we heard more, we figured out it was just down the road a bit. Less than a mile. Really not that far at all, considering the size of San Diego.

More details poured in over the afternoon, and I found myself unable to break away from the news. I needed to know more. Was it someone we knew? A classmate of our daughter? Eventually they started giving the house address. A wave of relief swept over me and then I immediately felt bad.

Some man went to work one day, and before lunch his whole world was gone. Wife, two kids, and the grandmother. The entire house. Instantly gone. No warning. No way of preventing. Just gone.

Let me stop here for a moment. I believe that the pilot truly did everything he could to avoid hitting the homes. He was headed for a canyon, trying to make it there. He stayed in the plane until it was seconds from the ground. What more could he have done? I think he’ll be beating himself up enough as it is. I think the calls for the military to leave Miramar are ridiculous. I don’t feel like saying more on that topic right now.

I cannot imagine losing my whole family in one swoop. It makes me sick just thinking about it. How would you go on? My heart goes out to that poor family. It’s awful.

I couldn’t get to sleep last night for quite a while. I couldn’t get my brain to quiet down, to stop thinking about this. You try to protect your family the best you can. But you can’t control everything. I want to, dammit, but you can’t. And that’s what keeps me awake. The things you absolutely can’t plan for.

I have to distract myself, think about other things like fluffy bunnies and kittens. And puppies. Because if I don’t, I’ll think too much about what I would do if I lost my baby. Or my husband. It could easily drive you crazy. If I lost them both at once, I think you’d have to cart me off to the looney bin. Seriously. I don’t think I could handle it.

So I have to force my mind to other things. Think about what I do have, And remember how fleeting life truly is. It makes all the little irritations just drift away. Because in the end? It’s all just small stuff.

I hug my little boy a little closer, remind myself to be kinder to my husband, and enjoy what we do have. And be extremely freaking grateful for it. Extremely.

A little scared

A few days ago we were going about our business, all of us sprawled across our bed, enjoying some family time. We’ve recently started giving the boy a bit of apple juice in his bottle, to help with his, um, bodily functions. Transitioning to solid food can stop a kid up somewhat.

He was lying in between us, holding his own bottle. That’s a trick he’s been enjoying for a while now, although he’s been doing it more frequently in the last couple of weeks.

Something changed, something was different and it caught my attention. He made a strange noise. I looked up and he started flailing his arms, his face turning red. I grabbed him and sat him up and started pounding his back. He spit up some drool and juice.

And then he started breathing again. A little bit after that, so did I.

As I had reached for him, John noticed something off as well, telling me to sit him up right now. We both caught it at the same instant, this feeling that it – that something – wasn’t right. It was only a second or two, but that motion of grabbing him up and smacking him on the back is ingrained in my brain.

I didn’t panic. I didn’t freak out. I just did what I needed to do. It was later, as I thought about it, that I realized the gravity of what had happened, what could have happened. It reminds me that we need to be present and conscious when we’re with our children, and just be in tune with them.

Now that it’s all over, though, I’m glad he’s okay and that it was nothing major. Still, watching your little guy’s eyes go wide in panic when he can’t breathe? Not good times. Having him laugh and smile just moments later like nothing happened? A lot better.