The Pangs


“Yeah, Bud, what’s up?”

“Um…I think I know the answer, and if it’s no I understand, but…do you think you might be able to come to my Halloween parade tomorrow?…..Maybe?”

“Bud, I’m really sorry but I can’t. I don’t have much sick time left at work so I can’t leave early. But we’ll be on vacation next week and we’ll spend a ton of time together!”

“Oh….yeah, ok. I understand. It’s just…you took a day off to go to Gracie’s field trip to the pumpkin picking place, so I hoped maybe you could do something with me too.”


“Vince….I’m so sorry. But I did go to your walk-a-thon last year! And I collected all that money for your walk this year, and I’m selling those spice packets for your fundraiser…I’m doing everything I can, Bud.”

“I know, Mommy. And I love you so much, you’re the best Mommy. And I understand…I just wish you could be there.”


“Well…we’re going to get your haircut tonight, maybe we can do something fun after that!”

Because grabbing a donut on the way home from a haircut is exactly the same as being there for his Halloween parade.

Lately I’ve been living in a constant state of pang.

Does anyone else go through this? I can’t be alone here.

But I was alone in the dining room while Vince was burning a hole through me with his sad blue eyes this morning. I had no one to swoop in and tell me what a great mom I am, that I’m doing the best I can, that it isn’t a tragedy to miss a 20-minute Halloween parade.

Nope, it was just me, staring into those huge pools of 6 year-old sorrow, feeling the pang.

You know the pang- I’m sure you’ve had it. That quick, aching feeling that tugs at your chest whenever your kids unwittingly break a tiny piece of your heart- that’s the pang.

I’ve been plagued by them lately.

Saturday, while I was lying in bed trying to recover from a particularly persistent bout of my adrenal disorder, and Vince, who hadn’t left my side for 3 hours, said, “I really hope you feel better soon, Mommy. I don’t like seeing you like this. Weekends are for family time and family adventures.”


Last week, when I walked through the door after a workday so long that Pat had to pick both kids up from school, and Grace came flying into my arms squealing, “I missed you! You said you’d pick me up and we’d go for the special cupcakes because I didn’t have any potty accidents last night, but you never came to get me. I was so sad, Mommy.”


When Vince learned about martial arts summer camp and was so excited that he could barely get the words out…and I had to gently explain that we won’t be able to afford it this year, and watch his eyes turn down as he said, “Oh, it’s too much dollars? Ok, I understand. I’ll go to the other camp that we have enough dollars for.”

Pang Pang Pang Pang PANG.

This morning, as the pangs were raging, I wanted to tell him that I’m doing so much that most days I feel like I’m going to collapse. That I lovingly set out outfits next to their favorite seats on the couch each night before I go to bed. That I leave their protein bars and applesauce pouches on the table in case they wake up before me. That I make sure to always put Grace’s milk in her favorite Minnie Mouse cup, and warm Vince’s while he’s getting dressed because, “Cold milk makes me feel so freezy in the mornings!”

I wanted to tell him that I gladly took out a pension loan to pay for a martial arts after-care program this year so he could work on his confidence and anxiety issues. That I worked late every night for a week just to make up some of the time I had to take to chaperone Grace’s field trip. That I’ve given up most of my time with my husband to sit in each of their beds, sing songs, hear about their days, check their closets for the Sanderson Sisters (Hocus Pocus was not a smart movie pick last weekend), and read their favorite books for almost an hour each night.

But I’m not great at focusing on the positive. I’m much more skilled at beating the hell out of myself (as my bonus-mom, Marion, often points out, right before she exclaims in frustration, “You’ve gotta stop doing that to yourself!”- but hey, what can I say? Self-doubt is one of a mom’s greatest talents).

So all I said was, “I really am doing the best I can, Vince. I’m sorry I can’t be there more.”

I really was sorry. Sorry that I took a largely dead-end job so I could be there for the kids, but all I do is work and sit in traffic, and I missed Field Day last year, and I can’t go to the Halloween parade, and we can’t afford martial arts summer camp, and I’m not doing enough, and what if they start to feel neglected and all they remember of their childhoods were all the things I didn’t do?

And then something happened (because you knew this had to turn eventually)

Both dogs were walked, fed and snuggled in their beds with their treats. Bags were packed; teeth were brushed; shoes were on (not on the right feet, but I’ve learned to pick my battles); lights were off; stove was checked 3 times because I’m slightly neurotic; and we were shuffling out the door in our usual morning parade of lunch boxes and coats and “Guys, please walk a little faster, we’re really late!”….when the kids spotted frost on the ground.

“GRACIE! Look! Frost! Jack Frost came last night! MOM, he IS real!!”

I watched my kids drop their bags, run down the stairs and begin crunching their shoes on the frozen front lawn, dancing around together and squealing, “Jack Frost was here! Jack Frost was here!”

I watched them run to my truck and examine the swirls of ice on the doors and windows, wearing looks of wonder so great it was as though Santa Claus himself was standing in front of them.

I remembered our movie night a few weeks ago- it was about how Jack Frost came to be. I remembered baking Halloween-themed desserts for them, and snuggling under throw blankets while we watched Jack discover his origins and save the world from the Boogie Man. I remembered Vince holding Grace tightly during the “scary” parts.

And I guess they remembered too.

And I felt the pang in my heart…but it was the best kind of pang.

You can’t be everywhere, or give them everything. None of us can (nor should we, for that matter).

So when they look at you with that deflated expression when you have to say no, don’t let it undo you.

Don’t let the pangs get you down.

Because inevitably, just one of the things you DID do will stick with them, and fill them up, and keep them going. Even though it doesn’t seem like it, they see what you’re doing. They feel how much you’re loving them. Somewhere under the sad eyes and the “all my friends have this/went there/did this…” is a very real, very deep gratitude for you that they quietly carry with them.

And just when you feel like you can’t give another little piece of yourself, they’ll hand you some of that gratitude.

And it will fill you up. And hopefully, give you the best kind of pang.


A Nice, Full Night’s Sleep

This week, Moldy Monday was followed by Soggy Tuesday.

*Warning to Parents: The following passage may elicit strange feelings of déjà vu (mostly because this is likely every godddamn night in your house too).


“I’m going to bed early so I can get a nice, full night’s sleep!”


Jolted awake by a panic attack


Jolted awake by a dog having a panic attack (or choking on the piece of toilet paper roll she tried to eat at 7:30pm- the jury’s out).


Jolted awake by footsteps. Footsteps inch closer and closer.  Eyes are squeezed  as tightly as possible to prevent the owner of said footsteps from knowing I’m awake.


Footsteps cease. Sniffles commence. Sniffles graduate to quiet sobs. Eyes reluctantly open to find a forlorn, wild-haired, very soggy 3 year-old standing next to my side of the bed. Soggy child points to her pants repeatedly.

“Did you have an accident?”  Pointing continues.

“So you had an accident?” Pointing becomes increasingly more frantic.


“Yes! Why are you yelling at me?!”


Pee-soaked child is washed; bed is stripped; new, dry pajamas are on; child formerly known as soggy is gleefully bouncing up the stairs to my bedroom.  Dry, gleeful child climbs directly into the warm burrow of blankets and sheets that I’ve carefully constructed over the past few hours.

Whatever. At least I can finally get some sleep.


“Mommy, is it time to get up?”



“Mommy, can we watch tv?”



Child commences restless shuffling, sighing, and kicking. I am now perched precariously at the edge of the bed. My head is inches from the corner of the nightstand. This could end poorly.

Whatever. If I get knocked unconscious at least I can finally get some sleep.


Husband exits the bed. Child follows.

“Grace, it’s not time to get up. I’m taking a shower and going to work.”

Child collapses into a sorrowful heap on the floor.

“Grace, stop, get back in bed with Mommy. This is ridiculous.”

Child gets up, walks towards bed, and swiftly throws herself back to the floor.

“Grace, get back in the bed! It’s 3:30 in the morning!”

Child commences hysterical, body-wracking sobs and throws herself into my arms.

Husband throws up his hands and exits bedroom.

Child flashes red, fiery eyes in my general direction. “Why does he DO that?! He ALWAYS DOES this to me!”

“Does what?”

“He GETS up and I WANT to go downstairs JUST to get a baba milk and THEN come RIGHT back to bed but he ALWAYS says no and tells me to get back in bed! It’s not nice! It’s not FAIR!”

“Grace, this is literally the first time that has ever happened.”

My comment has reignited the red eyes of fire. Child pushes herself off the bed, retreats to a corner, sits on the floor; begins pushing the bedroom door open and slamming it shut with her panda sock-clad toes of fury.

Again. And again. And again.

Whatever. Maybe the creak of the hinges will lull me to sleep.



Apparently the child has now returned from her self-imposed solitary confinement.


“I can’t sleep.”

I internally rage scream Oh How Sad For You!!!


“Because I can’t sleep because I need to apologize for acting like that.”


“I’m sorry. I love you.”

“I love you too, Gracie Girl. Can we please get some sleep now?”


Child burrows into my carefully-crafted blanket burrow AGAIN.

Whatever. I can still get 1.5 hours of sleep if I fall asleep right this second.


Constant shuffling, snoring, kicking and disgusting amounts of blanket stealing by now soundly-sleeping  child. I seriously consider just getting out of bed and cooking all of our dinners for the week.


Alarm makes cheery sound. I resist the urge to hurl it across the room into the laundry basket.

“Gracie, it’s time to get up.”

Child begins crying that she needs more sleep.

I resist the urge to hurl myself across the room into the laundry basket.

End scene.

*A Warning to Young, Carefree Coworkers:  If you should come into contact with any slightly puffy-faced, droopy-eyed, or otherwise not quite right-looking parents on this fine, sunny day, this is likely why.

Do not make snarky comments. Should you choose to make a snarky comment, exit the vicinity immediately and do not ask these coworkers for anything for at least 3-4 hours. Or days. Or ever.

Do not claim to understand or commiserate with us because you “had to get up at 7am to hit the gym after staying up to Netflix binge.” We long for those days.

Our bingeing involves 1800 renditions of Baby Shark and Baby Finger and other Baby-related earworms. Our gym time is now running up and down stairs with children covered in pee, peanut butter or the occasional peppermint gum that they swiped from our purses and smeared all over themselves.

Do not approach without a small gesture of understanding.

Hand us coffee, or chocolate, or just take all the work off our desks and offer to do it for us.

Just a small gesture.

But don’t pity us- we’ll sleep tonight. Or tomorrow night. Or when the kids move out.

You know, whatever.


Just Another Moldy Monday

My cousin Antonio approached me at a birthday party last weekend and asked, “Why do you call your blog Scrambled Eggs?”

I started talking about chaos and comfort and the hectic but warm element of our lives…it was all very profound.

But nothing makes a point like a real-life example. So here you go, Tony. A nice big helping of Scrambled Eggs. Extra scrambled.

Let’s begin.

Mondays are often long and exhausting, especially if your team had an action-packed, up to the last second game against the Kansas City Chiefs the night before. Double especially if your daughter then decided that 1:30am was a good time crawl into your bed and discuss the mysteries of the Universe. Triple especially if, after maybe 2 solid hours of sleep, you worked overtime and drove through a rainy traffic mess while said daughter belted out “Baby Shark” all the way home.

So I just ask that you keep my lack of mental agility in mind when you imagine my reaction as I walked through the front door and found my son sitting on the couch….with something growing on his face.

“Hi Baby, how was your OHMYGOD what is on your face?!”

Vince stopped mid-hug-stance and raised an eyebrow.

I morphed into Nancy Drew mode and looked him over. His hair was damp and he didn’t smell like old gym socks, so he had definitely just showered. So whatever it was had appeared post-cleansing. There, running down his left cheekbone, was a splattering of greenish…dots.

“There’s something….on your face!”


“It’s a bunch of green dots….have you been playing with anything?”

“No but…actually Mommy, there’s something on my leg too.”

He lifted his pants to reveal 3 more clusters of dots on his leg, foot, and toes.

Initial assessment completed, I flipped my panic switch to “On.”

“Come into the kitchen,” I screeched as calmly as I could manage.

Pat, hearing my signature “I’ve gone to the bad place” tone, rubbed his eyes and followed.

I studied him from the left.

I studied him from the right.

I studied him in varying shades of kitchen lighting.

I turned him around slowly like a confused ballerina in Ninjago pajama pants.

I sniffed his face.

I asked Pat if he had seen any of these little clusters of doom on our sweet, innocent child’s skin pre-bath; he rubbed his eyes again and shook his head.

Then there was no denying it.

He was moldy.

He had the mold.

My child was covered in clusters of green mold.

I tried to breathe evenly as I asked him again and again, “Are you sure you weren’t playing with markers or stamps?”

“No Mommy, they just showed up out of nowhere just now! Am I ok? Do I need a hospital?”

(Saying he’s my twin is an understatement.)

I turned on Pat.

“You didn’t SEE any of these when he was in the shower? Are you sure? Are you SURE?”

Eye rub, head shake. “No. They weren’t there before. But Cath, look at them. That one almost looks like a pizza, and that one looks like a happy face.”

Too late.

My Nancy Drew senses were on overdrive.

I knew this house was too good to be true.

I knew we couldn’t actually be happy.

I KNEW it would all fall apart.

There was clearly so much mold in the air in this godforsaken house that hadn’t seen an update since 1952 that just being wet after a shower caused the spores to cling to him….or….oh God…or he had candida in his system and it was coming out in his skin!

We had to get him to a doctor.

We had to call a remediation company.

We had to foreclose.

We had to move into a van down by the river.


“Mommy, am I ok?”

“Of course, yes….let’s get a damp cloth and wipe these off of you and we may need to just call the doctor,” I said, trying to appear as reassuring as a woman with the crazy sleep-deprived eyes can look.

I’m guessing it was more “Mommy Dearest” than “Mother Goose.”

Once the mold infestation was wiped from his skin, I power-walked into his bedroom (I imagine Nancy Drew was a power-walker) to get his jacket….and there, on his bed, was a balloon.

Let’s stop here to review a few seemingly unrelated but crucial facts.

  1. Vince loves balloons.
  2. I think everything is mold.
  3. Vince loves to decorate all of his favorite things with washable marker.
  4. I tend to be…..excitable.

Ok now that we’re all caught up….

I stared at the balloon.

It was green. It was lying on his bed haphazardly.

It was covered in washable marker designs a la Vincent.

There was a smiley face….and a pizza….

Oh Lord.

I picked up Suspect #1 and carried it into the living room.

“Vince, this is a great balloon! Did you just decorate it?”

“Oh, yeah, that’s my new balloon. I drew all those pictures on it with my markers, and then I pulled up my pajama pants legs and kicked it around, and then I bounced it with my face….oh! Mommy! I WAS playing with markers! And I think I know what was all over me!!!!”

I closed my eyes, took a deep breath, and strolled into the kitchen with the tiny inflated plaything that had almost given me a stroke.

“You were right,” I mumbled to Pat, who somehow maintained a straight face as he handed me a plate of pasta.

To be fair, he’s had time to practice his responses- there was the time Vince threw tiny pieces of black “space putty” onto his ceiling and I thought we had a mold problem….and the time Gracie had a few spiders on her ceiling and I thought it was black mold….and the time-

Ok, you get the point.

And as we stood there, intently studying a pizza design on Vince’s little green balloon, Grace called out, “Guys, I Ate All My Chicken Nuggets! I LOVE KETCHUP!”

And we laughed.

And exhaled.

And laughed some more.

“Why are you laughing so much?” asked Grace, pointing a ketchup-covered finger in our direction.

“Because,” I explained, squeezing Pat’s arm, “because Gracie, it’s always chaos in this house. But I wouldn’t trade it.”

So what do we take away from this?

  1. Get more than 2 hours of sleep whenever possible.
  2. Never decorate a balloon with washable marker.
  3. Not everything is mold.
  4. Marry someone who has endless patience with your anxiety.
  5. Children are completely unreliable in an investigation.

And so that, Tony, is why we call it Scrambled Eggs.


Let’s talk about “normal.”

My daughter loves pink and my son loves ninjas.

Sounds normal? Ok.

My daughter also loves wrestling and my son loves fluffy robes.

My daughter wants to be Batman for Halloween, and my son asked if he could try mascara the other day.

Still sound normal?

Hopefully you nodded, but I know far too many people who would be feverishly shaking their heads, or at least raising an eyebrow.

If I hear one more time, “She should be a little princess!” or “He’ll learn to toughen up,” my head may actually pop off my body in a Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots-esque fashion.

For the record, people who keep saying these things- my son is a gentle soul who feels his emotions with a depth I wish more adults could tap into. And my daughter is NOBODY’S princess.

Why am I ranting about something I’ve already addressed? (Please see, “Peacefully & Beautifully Fierce” for the original rant) Because based on current events (globally, nationally, and in my own house), the first rant wasn’t enough.

I had a conversation with a friend this morning about what makes society believe that certain things are “normal” for one gender or the other. What makes us decide that princesses are ok for Grace, but not for Vince? That Vince can play football but Grace shouldn’t?

I’ve read a fair amount of literature that identifies the roots of the problem as gender reveal parties and baby showers. Are we conditioning them from birth?

I honestly don’t know.

At Vince’s baby shower I was gifted shades of blue that I didn’t even know existed. I was given onesies with every sport, dinosaur and fun-looking monster imaginable plastered across the front. I received a bunch of things that said “Tough Guy” and “Fighter.” Fast-forward 6 ½ years and Vince loves The Avengers, dinosaurs, and giant trucks with giant wheels. He also loves mud masks, his new glow-in-the-dark Halloween manicure, and bubble baths because, as he explains, “It’s like relaxing in a cup of warm cocoa.”

We bit into a few cupcakes when I was 12 weeks pregnant and pink frosting came out. Fast-forward 3 ½ years and Grace loves pink, princesses and pedicures…and superheroes, heavy metal, and pulling UFC-style moves on her brother until we have to literally peel her off of him because he’s about to pass out.

We visited a construction-themed amusement park this summer because Grace is obsessed with construction vehicles. A few weeks later, Vince and I did our nails, put on some paper moisturizing masks, and giggled until we cried while watching The Big Bang Theory (I fast-forwarded the adult situations, don’t worry).

At least in my case, I don’t think the baby shower or the gender reveal damaged their perceptions of who they want to be.

So why is some of this “normal” and some of it “wrong?”

Why, in 2018, are we still debating this? (Seriously, my blood pressure is ticking upward just typing this)

In the words of my friend, why can’t people just let them be?

Well, here’s my humble take on the whole thing.

I don’t think pink or blue is the whole root of the problem (but dear God, retailers, vary your advertising- girls like trucks; boys like pink. Explore it.)

I think “normal” is the problem.

“Normal” should be an individual attribute, not a universal measuring stick against which everyone is judged.

For Grace, normal is watching Fancy Nancy while wearing pink unicorn pajamas. Normal is head-banging in the back seat and singing along to the new Bullet for My Valentine song (I bleep the bad words, don’t worry). Normal is wearing her brother’s Captain America shield and racing his trucks (until he finds her and an epic sibling battle erupts).

And that’s all ok, and we honor it.

For Vince, normal is enjoying a few episodes of Elena of Avalor because he thinks it’s a great show (I agree- the way she keeps taking down Shuriki is the kind of badass we all wish we were). Normal is wearing his favorite Pokemon shirt and swinging his light-up sword all over my living room (and narrowly missing all the glass things). Normal is also trying on my shoes, jewelry, and lip gloss because he likes “being fancy.”

And that’s all ok, and we honor it.

We remind our children that they are loved; they are perfect just as they are; and they are free to choose their own normal.

We remind our children that everyone they encounter in life should also be free to choose their own normal, and that they need to respect that, and honor it.

We also remind our children that when they are not respected or honored, they have the choice to gently educate the other person, or respectfully walk away.

Vince has had to do both several times- he handles himself with a gentle confidence that I’m not sure I even possess yet.

Grace, at the wee age of 3, handles ridicule by announcing, “You are NOT my best friend right now,” flipping her head around, putting her hands on her hips, and marching in the other direction. I also don’t have that kind of confidence, and that’s ok because I’m not sure I’d look as adorable if I tried that. But she owns it.

We are not extraordinary parents who have created a perfect home.

HAHAHAHAHAAAAA…..not even close.

We don’t dance around them all day singing, “You sneeze rainbows and you are perfect in every wayyyy!” On the contrary, we constantly remind them that what comes out when they sneeze should never be treated as a snack or pre-meal appetizer (and then mouth “that is so f***ing gross” to each other as we gag).

We just try to promote expression and douse any little flame of intolerance or ignorance that they may unwillingly spark.

If a situation arises, we explain why you don’t make fun of someone for cheering for a different football team, having a certain kind of backpack, celebrating different holidays, or having religious beliefs that may not line up 100% with what we discuss when we take out our Bible at night. We tell them that whatever other people’s normal is, it is to be respected.

And if someone is not tolerant of their normal, we assure them that the actions of others do not ever mean they have to abandon any part of who they are.

Then we send them into the world to hopefully do the same for others.

We also never watch the news in front of them, because all of those things I just said? It doesn’t really seem like many people in charge (on either side) have a solid understanding of any of it right now.

I really think that’s it- ok, maybe not all of it, but a large part of it- give them respect, and remind them to give it to others. And when they forget, remind them again and again and again…and again…until they get it.

It seems so simple.

It seems like something that should be so…dare I say…normal.

Hopefully someday, it will be everyone’s normal.



I wrote about “enjoying every moment” a few weeks ago; I went on and on (and on) about how important it is to really breathe in every experience, because that it is the essence of life and the joy of parenthood and….and I failed miserably at it yesterday.

Hell, I’m pretty sure I forgot to breathe at all yesterday.

That is, until the world’s oldest 6 year-old set me straight.

“Are you happy that I’m here?”

He said it very unassumingly while intently watching a few bugs stroll past his shoe.

I looked down at my son, sitting on a wooden bench, checking out some ants, gently tapping his sneaker in the dirt- so content and at peace with life.

I looked up at the sky, where he had gleefully pointed out every airplane and bird he saw soaring over us on our way to that bench.

I looked at the field of flowers in front of me, where he had remarked, “It’s so nice that they planted all these flowers for you! Do you walk this trail every day at lunch? That must be cool;” and at the gently lapping water behind me, where he had spent a few minutes scanning the surface for fish, hoping against hope that one might pop out like a swimmer coming up after a dive.

And I was pretty ashamed of myself.

We had been given an entire bonus day together, and one of us had wasted all of it focusing on trivial, stressful, adult bullshit.

Hint: It wasn’t him.

He had rifled through my desk, found my Halloween decorations and, after plastering them to his face, had organized them into little groups on my window, all while telling me a very detailed story about Mommy & Daddy Ghost, Brother and Sister Ghost, the Pumpkin Family, and the witch and her pet cat.

He had popped up next to me every time he heard the printer humming and asked, “Did you print something? May I get it for you?”

He had moved my garbage from across the room so that I didn’t have to “bend and twist yourself around and hurt your back” while I was going through sheet after sheet of mailing labels for a project. (Of course I thanked him and told him what a great helper he was- I wasn’t going full Mommy Dearest).

He had filled my entire day with stories about his best friends, pictures of his favorite lizards and spiders, and popsicle sticks covered in intricate, carefully-colored designs (his newest hobby).

And what had I done all day?

I had told him to walk, not run, down the hallway when he needed to use the bathroom.

I had snapped, “You were supposed to spend your day off with Grandma, but you begged to come to work with me- now please find something to do because I am VERY busy today,” when he announced that he was bored soon after we got to my office.

I had let out an exaggerated sigh and reminded him that I was working when he had asked if I could look up his favorite spider online, so he could show me that they can be both spotted and striped.

I had shushed him while we were walking through the hallways, and when he asked why we had to be so silent I had whispered urgently, “Because you’re not supposed to be at my job, and I need to keep my job, so you need to be super quiet.” Meanwhile, everyone we passed in that hallway had given him a huge smile and a wave; the mail guy had jokingly asked if he could join him on his route; one of my bosses had gone out to lunch with us; the other had helped him leave me a voicemail to surprise me; and one of our HR staff had called him into her office to offer him a lollipop.

Clearly they were all furious.

But the worst display of my “Mommy is really no fun today” attitude was what led us to the bench.

Vince had asked if we could take a walk through one of the trails on my property. It was late afternoon. The office was quiet. The weather was perfect. I could have used 30 minutes of vacation time, left early, and taken a nice stroll with my son.

Instead I replied, “Ok, 5 minutes, but then I have to get back to my desk.”

I took his hand and headed outside like I was on a mission to reach a bus before it pulled off the curb, rushing past plaques he wanted me to read and saying, “No, not now,” when he tried to bend and smell the flowers (I literally told my child NOT to stop and smell the roses).

We stood at the water’s edge for 2.5 seconds, checked out birds flying over us for 2.5 seconds, and stopped at a bench he wanted to sit on for…2.5 seconds. Until I heard those words.

“Are you happy that I’m here?”

“Vince…of course I’m happy. You make my days so much more interesting!” I replied honestly.

“Good, because coming to work with you is my absolute favorite thing to do, Mommy. I love spending the day with you.”

And then my heart broke and landed in the dirt next to the bugs.

I had spent my entire day rushing him, losing my patience with him and shushing him, so stressed that he was going to break something or mess something up or annoy someone and get me in trouble….but the only frazzled, broken, annoyed mess in my entire building was…ME.

And even with the tension that had been radiating off my body like steam off a bowl of chicken noodle soup, being there with me was his absolute favorite thing to do. Despite the fact that his mother was wound tighter than a Slinky and kind of acting like a jerk.

I took a deep breath and exhaled.

I pulled him into my arms, rested my cheek on the top of his bouncy orange curls, and squeezed him.  “Vince, you make me happier than I could ever tell you. I love having you here with me, and I’ll tell you what. Even though I can’t take a long walk right now, why don’t we come back on a weekend and we’ll do every trail, and read every plaque, and point to every bird and fish??”

“Really?! That would be great!”

“And thank you for reminding me to be happy.”

“You’re welcome, Mommy.”

We strolled back to my office at a pace that allowed me to actually bend my knees, smelling some flowers and reading a few plaques about eels, crabs and ducks along the way. We cleaned up my desk and his art projects while talking about our favorite colors. We raced each other to the bathroom. And on the way home, we talked about life and pointed out the weirdest shapes we could find in the clouds.

Sometimes you need to be reminded that it’s ok to just be happy.

I’m reminding you.

Maybe don’t leave your boss a ridiculous voicemail or race your coworker to the bathroom- I feel like HR will give you something other than a lollipop for that kind of behavior. But the other stuff, definitely do that- smell the flowers, sit down and check out the bugs instead of checking your work email for the 8,000th time, find a flying goat in the clouds- and remember it’s ok to not be frazzled.

It’s ok to breathe.


I couldn’t move.

My mind was screaming to my body, but nothing was happening.

I could feel the hot ice/piercing/tingling sensation rushing up and down my arms and into my neck; I could sense my chest tightening and my head throbbing; I could hear my breaths coming shallowly in and out; but there wasn’t a damn thing I could do about it.

This was every morning now- my new wakeup routine. Life threw us a curveball last month, and as a result, this nightmare was my new normal.

Now, when I say curveball, I don’t mean the pipe burst/car broke down/flight got delayed type of curveball.


This was a curveball that tested my marriage, my faith in God and my will to live.

It forced me to summon a strength I never knew I had, make decisions I never thought I could, and feel pain I never thought I could survive.

It was a big one.

And so now, here I was, on a Tuesday in September, paralyzed in my bed by my daily 5:30am panic attack.

I tried breathing, wringing out my arms, praying- nothing.

I started wondering if this was the one that was going to do me in.

“Mommy?….oh Mooommmyyyy…I’m coming up, it’s time to cuddle….”

I heard Grace’s voice like it was coming through a tunnel, her footsteps growing louder as she clomped up the stairs to my bedroom. I heard the door creak open, felt a flurry of blankets, and then, she was throwing her little arms around my neck.

I could breathe.

I inhaled the scent of her freshly-washed hair as she whispered, “Good morning, Mommy, I missed you while we were sleeping.” I raised one hand to tousle the curls on her head and feel the warmth of her cheeks.

I could move.

I opened my eyes and gazed at her as she stared at me, nose to nose, giggling as she gave me butterfly kisses.

I focused on the beauty.

I focused HARD.

As I lay next to her, exchanging butterfly kisses and plans for the day, I heard more footsteps dancing into the room- in a moment Vince was wrapped around me like a vine, singing, “Good moooorning, Mommy!”

I was surrounded by these beautiful little beings that I had created; these perfect souls that adored me, gave me purpose, and…needed me.

They needed me.

I felt the ice leave my arms and the pounding in my head subside. It was over. It had passed.

For now.

For anyone who doesn’t suffer from anxiety or depression, this may seem a bit dramatic.

For anyone who does suffer from anxiety or depression…this may seem like just another day.

And to you I say this- Look for the beauty.

When the ice fills your arms and legs, focus on warmth.

When the panic fills your mind, focus on simplicity.

I admit that over the past month, I’ve struggled to find beauty in anything, but I never give up until it shows itself.

The morning dew on a rose leaning against my front porch; the way the dogs dance in circles when they see me lifting their leashes off the “All You Need is Love…And A Dog” plaque I found at Pier One the week before we closed on the house; the sight of the creamer mingling with my morning coffee right before I take the first sip.

It’s all proof that life goes on, and it’s worth going on with it.

The way the sunroom glows with the light of the $4 string lights I found at Target this morning, while looking for pants to replace the ones Marty tore in a fit of “I Love You Mom!” excitement last week.

The way my body instinctively relaxes when the last kid is tucked in and Pat is waiting on the couch with my favorite sweet chili tortilla chips and the DVR.

The fact that Marty has been quietly trying to steal the pillow from my lap the entire time I’ve been typing this blog, stopping to bat her eyes at me every so often to “throw me off.”

The tiniest things, the ones that most people overlook- that’s what makes up a life. That’s what refills you when you’re on empty.

That’s the beauty.

Find it, and focus on it.

It will drain the ice, dull the pain, and relax the muscles.

This curveball, we’ll overcome it. It will be a part of my story, but not my whole story. We’ll move forward and heal and move on.

But until then, I will find the beauty wherever and whenever I can, and I will focus on it.

I’ll focus on the smell of dinner in the oven, the softness of freshly-washed sheets, and the security of a little hand slipping into mine as we walk into daycare each morning.

I’ll focus HARD.

And it will get me through.

Don’t ever stop looking for the beauty- it’s there, waiting to be seen, waiting to warm you up, calm you down, and get you through.

Even the Bad Ones

It was just about 11:30 last night, and I was curled up on the couch in my comfiest sweatpants with Rocco on my lap, a mug of lemon ginger tea in my hands, Marty the Menace puppy sleeping at my feet, and Will & Grace entertaining me from my DVR. I was FINALLY alone, relaxed, and-

Wait, wait. No. Sorry. That had been the plan; but we all know how “planning” goes.

What I was ACTUALLY doing at 11:30 last night was standing in the almost-empty parking lot of a 24hr CVS pharmacy, leaning into the backseat of my Kia Sportage, reaching towards a very sleepy Grace with a syringe full of Augmentin.

“Is it yummy or yucky, Mommy?”

“Hmmm, let’s see…it smells like berries, so it’s probably ok. But even if it’s yucky, it’s going to make your ear feel so much better, so you should probably take it.”

“….Ok. I’ll take it…..oh, that was kinda yucky, Mommy.”

You know what else was yucky?

The fact that I was still stuck in the dress I had pulled over my head at 6am. The fact that I was hungry and thirsty but all I had in the car were mints and ½ a cup of lukewarm water. The fact that my strapless bra was cutting into my ribs after almost 18 hours of clinging to them.

It was all decidedly yucky.

When you have kids, someone will inevitably tell you to “enjoy every moment, even the bad ones.” They will most likely tell you this when you’re deeply entrenched in your “new parent” stupor, so it won’t fully register. And then somewhere down the line, during one of those bad moments- say, standing in a dark, empty CVS parking lot at 11:30pm in a short dress and sandals, calculating how fast you could throw an elbow, get your 3 year-old out of the car and run if someone leapt out of the shadows and attacked- bam, you’ll remember it.

“Enjoy every moment, even the bad ones.”

You’ll wipe your Augmentin-covered fingers  all over your dress (because those stupid syringes ALWAYS leak), and you’ll think about how you had to get up early to beat the back-to-college traffic on the way to work that morning. And you’ll count how many sibling arguments you broke up (“This song is MY jam, not yours!”) while sitting in the hour of traffic that you didn’t, in fact, avoid at all.

You’ll remember inhaling a plate of old pasta with a can of tuna tossed into it at your desk, and then using your lunch hour to run an errand, because your life is not your own once you pull into the daycare parking lot after work.

You’ll recall rushing through dinner (after an hour of traffic and sibling arguments on the way home); wrenching your back when one kid leaned away from you while you were rinsing her hair in the bath; cleaning pee off the bathroom floor when the other kid didn’t quite make it into the bowl; and then getting into an argument with your husband when he declares he gets “no help around here.”

You’ll think about how you absently opened the fridge mid-argument, bats flew out, and you stormed out of the house in tears to go food shopping at a Trader Joe’s 20 minutes away, even though ShopRite is 5 minutes away, because Trader Joe’s has the vegan, gluten free breakfast bars that everyone in the house can digest without very, very bad things happening.

You’ll think back to lugging 8 bags of groceries through the front door while 1 dog danced through your ankles and the other goosed you (I told you it was a pretty short dress).

You’ll fondly remember FINALLY taking off your shoes, stretching out on your son’s bed and beginning your journey into the world of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban…only to abruptly leave Daigon Alley and leap off the bed when an ear-splitting scream escaped from behind your daughter’s bedroom door.

And you’ll laugh to yourself, because in that moment, remembering all the moments leading up to it, it will be almost impossible to “enjoy” anything besides the thought of falling on your face- because 1. You’re so close to falling on your face at this point and 2. If you did, at least you’d be unconscious and not have to deal with all this shit.

And so that’s what I was doing around 11:30 last night.

And then I looked at Grace, and she smiled at me.

Exhausted, hungry, and afflicted with underwire-induced rib bruising though I was, I couldn’t help but stop and look at her- like REALLY look at her.

Her impossibly tiny lips and round nose. One perfect ringlet of hair flopped between her eyebrows. Her still-slightly-chubby toddler fingers, one grasping the handle of her lollipop, the other holding tightly to 4 Paw Patrol stickers- the rewards of sitting through a doctor’s appointment at 11 o’clock on a Tuesday night.

“Enjoy every moment, even the bad ones.”

There is a very obvious glow that surrounds the good moments- family vacations, holidays, birthday parties. But there is also a subtle beauty to the bad ones, if you really look for it.

And as I squinted in the dimly-lit CVS parking lot, I saw it.

Last night was, as Grace so honestly described it, yucky. But being with her was decidedly un-yucky.

As we drove along the quiet highways en route to our hastily-scheduled appointment, I had whispered, “Gracie Girl, it’s going to be alright. Mommy will make it better,” and I had peeked in the mirror to see a small smile through her tears.

In the waiting room, she had rested her tired head on my chest while I inhaled the scent of coconut shampoo lingering in her floppy little curls.

While we drove to the pharmacy we had chatted about our favorite Paw Patrol dogs, the best lollipop flavors, and how nice it was going to be to get into our pajamas and snuggle under our blankets when we got home.

She had chatted with me while I showered, and announced that we should bring her sleeping bag to my room because “sleeping with you will make me feel better.”

And as I leaned down to kiss her goodnight she had whispered, “I feel better, Mommy.”

“I told you I’d make it all better, didn’t I?”

“Yup…you’re the best of the mommies.”

Did I want to split my time last night between a sterile-smelling urgent care waiting room and a mugger’s paradise parking lot?


Do I wish my poor kid didn’t suffer from these eardrum explosions?

Of course.

Did I look forward to getting 2 kids ready for summer camp and then going to work to attend a 30-person retirement lunch I’d been planning, all on less than 3 hours’ sleep?

I’m not even going to dignify that with an answer.

But even on a decidedly yucky night, there was…good.

So unfortunately, I have to tell you something that may piss you off at some future point in time- but just hear me out.

Enjoy every moment…even the bad ones.

Now Keep Going

In my experience, we “creative” types aren’t always the most confident people. Most of the people in my little circle are prone to bouts of, “I made this thing! I’m really proud of it! Do you want to….no wait, nevermind. It’s awful.  I’m sorry for taking up 37 seconds of your time.” And so, when someone like me decides they would like to possibly share their work with the world….it takes a VILLAGE to push that person over the threshold.

So I’ve told you about a few of the major players in my particular village.

My husband, who went from encouraging to begging to handing me a glass of red and standing over me sternly until I hit “Publish.”

My mother, also known as my editor- although she always insists “It’s perfect!”

My father, who is quite possibly the person I admire most in the world, and who is my first phone call whenever anything happens in my life.

My cousin Jacqi, who texted me once a week, “Haaaaave you started the blog?” until I actually did it.

My friends, who patiently sat through a photo journal about my dog for a couple of years while I was working on my writing style.

But have I told you about Uncle Tony?

No, I don’t believe I have.

So….let me tell you about my Uncle Tony.

Uncle Tony is a very successful professional. He has a long-standing reputation for being formidable on his job sites. No nonsense. No patience. No margin for error. No bullshit.

But when it comes to him and me, I’m the lucky winner of a completely different guy.

Uncle Tony has always been, and continues to be, the not-so-quiet voice in the back of my mind, telling me, “You’ve got this. Go for it.”

When I was a little girl, sitting atop his shoulders and having the time of my little life at the Meadowlands Fair, he never spoke to me like I was a four year old spitting cotton candy onto his head.  We were old friends; he listened to my stories and my thoughts on life with truly engaged interest and patience.

When I was a teenager, driving with him to his condo in Vermont late one Friday night, he told me all about his plans to build a loft and asked for my opinion on his design ideas. When that loft was finished he told everyone that I was an instrumental part in bringing it to completion. That was a little generous- I can barely build a toddler Lego set- but hey, I’ll take it.

When I started modeling after college, he told me he was expecting to see my first major ad campaign on the side of a NYC bus (I was an art model for a local sculpture class, but who doesn’t dream of having THAT Carrie Bradshaw moment??)

When my first poem was published, he offered to take time off (which was UNHEARD of) and fly us to Florida for the weekend so I could read my entry at a conference.

He introduced me to his coworkers at his 60th birthday party as, “My beautiful niece, Catherine Rose. She is incredibly smart and has a very successful marketing career.” I worked for a food redistribution company writing newsletters about French fries and frozen fish…but people need to eat, right?

When Pat and I closed on our house, he told us how impressed he was that we had done it on our own, and that we should be very proud that we are completely self-made. I currently have $146 in my checking account and close to $100k in student loans, so I’m not so sure about that one.

My point is, he amplifies things. Magnifies them. Makes you believe that you’re already THERE when you feel like you have miles to go.

Now imagine having someone who has THAT much confidence in you; someone who has ten times the assurance about your future than you ever will.

That’s one of the first people you call when you publish your first piece.

And that’s just what I did.

And do you know what Uncle Tony said? (I bet you do)

“Well it’s about time! You are going to be famous, my dear. You have such a gift- and you have a reader in me.”

The other thing about Uncle Tony?

He keeps his word.

He reads every blog. He tells other people to read it. I once excitedly told him, “Someone in the Philippines keeps checking out my writing! I have an international follower!”

“Oh yeah that’s my friend Rod, he used to work with me. I told him and his wife they would enjoy it.”

When I landed my first paid writing job, I called him from the car. I could barely contain my excitement, but he just assured me, calmly, “Catherine Rose, I knew you could do it. It’s happening for you. I’m looking forward to watching you continue to succeed. I’m so proud of you.”

I called him in tears while I was holding my first freelance check. Same response. “I’m so proud of you. I knew you could do it. Now keep going.”

Having someone so staunchly in my corner for 35 years, never wavering, never doubting me, even when I not only doubted but completely gave up on myself (which I did, for many, many years)….it’s a feeling I’ll never be able to fully explain.

I push forward hoping that one day I’ll amount to 20% of the person he tells me I already am.

And when I’m hit with one of my frequent bouts of “You can’t do this, you’re never going to amount to anything,” I force myself to hear his voice in my mind.

“Now keep going.”

And so I do.

So it would be remiss of me to not let everyone know that there’s someone else sitting quietly behind the curtain, gently pushing me forward when I think it might be time to turn around and run.

Thank you, Uncle Tony.

Thank you for boosting my confidence and keeping me focused.

Thank you for letting me steal all the cheese off the top of your French onion soup from 1986-1995ish.

Thank you for shamelessly promoting me to your coworkers around the globe, and always being up for shooting a couple dozen raw clams by the pool with me.

Thank you for being so convincing that you actually make me want to believe in myself.

You keep pushing, and I’ll keep going.







A Different Kind of Love

I remember chatting with my friend Christie one afternoon while I was puking my way through my second pregnancy.

“Don’t worry about not having enough love in your heart for both of them. It’s so weird; you think you couldn’t possibly love any child as much as the first, right? Trust me, when you see that little face it’s like a whole new space that you didn’t even know you had, opens up in your heart. They’ll each have their own dedicated space, totally equal.”

I’ve never forgotten that conversation, especially on mornings like the one I just had.

Oh, you didn’t think I was just writing to check in, did you?


So this morning- this glorious, serene morning of mine.

About 10 minutes into our commute I realized that I was only hearing Vince’s chirpy, chatty voice from the back seat. Glancing in the mirror, I saw Grace’s “this is my angry face” expression burning a hole in her window.

“Are you mad at me?” I asked.


She was mad. The one who had refused to use the toilet and instead defiantly peed in her diaper while standing in front of me (potty-training is going SUPER well, in case you’re wondering). The one who wouldn’t let me change that wet diaper before we got in the car. The one who started wrestling with me and folding herself in half to keep me from reaching said diaper. The one who had, as soon as I gave up and took a step back, flung herself backwards against a wall and then yelled, “Why did you hurt me?!” loudly enough for my neighbors to hear through the most sound-proof of windows.

SHE was mad.

Want to hear the funniest part? As I peeked at her through the mirror- lip slightly extended, arms crossed, lids lowered just slightly, brows furrowed- my heart fluttered a little bit and I had to bite my lip to stop myself from smiling.

She saw my contorted face in the mirror and giggled.

“You have any flamingo (mango) mints??” she asked nonchalantly, uncrossing her arms and flopping her foot onto Vince’s leg.

And just like that, she was over it.

Look up “Spitfire” in the dictionary and you’ll find a picture of my daughter- see also “Stubborn” and “Determined to have things her way.” The tenacity that she exhibits at this age is more than I’ve managed to harness in my 35 years.

And I love it.

So I may love both of my children equally, but the love is definitely…different.

Vince is my comfy, safe space kind of love. He can’t wait to share all of his triumphs with me. He seeks me out for comfort when he experiences hurt or failure. He jumps into my bed every morning and asks if we have time for “a cuddle buddle,” then wraps his arms around me like a vine and falls peacefully back to sleep.

Vince is my steady love. I know when I have a bad day he’ll be on his best behavior to make it a little bit easier.  I know he’ll always want to dance with me, laugh at my ridiculous jokes and share his car snacks. I know when I walk into the room wearing so much as a new t-shirt he’ll gasp and say, “Wow, Mommy, did you just get that? You look beautiful!” and actually mean it.

Vince is my nurturing love. He’s the first one to ask if I need a hug when I look even the slightest bit upset. If I decide to recline my seat on the couch (on the rare occasion that I get to sit on the couch), he bolts out of the living room and returns with his biggest, fluffiest pillow “so you can rest your head and still see the tv.” He praises every meal I put on the table- not to brag, but I have been told I am the best peanut butter and jelly maker In The World.

When I look at Vince, I’m filled with a pleasant, warm, fuzzy feeling. He’s my old soul, my constant friend and the one who makes me feel like I must be doing something right to have a kid like him.

And Grace?

When I look at Grace, I’m consumed with a jittery, expectant feeling. She’s my firecracker, the one that keeps me on my toes and makes me strive to be a more spontaneous, think-outside-the-box kind of mama.

Grace is my anticipation kind of love. Will she run over and fling her arms around me at daycare pickup, or stick her tongue out, tell me, “I’m not READY!” and run away? Will she lie in my arms and ask for “just one more book?” at bedtime, or take her sippy cup and her blanket and tuck herself in? When I hear Vince squealing, is it because she’s tickling him or kicking him in the face? (I’ve walked in on both…)

Grace is my sneaky love. Just when she’s thrown all the tantrums my blood pressure can handle; just when the tears start to streak down my face as I hide in the bathroom; just as I start angrily rolling meatballs in the kitchen and take a silent over/under on the chances I’ll survive her teenage years; she pops up behind me, throws her arms around my leg, yells, “I just love you, Mommy!” and bounces out of the room.

Grace is my exciting love.  Watching her face light up when I buy her a dress, flip flops or blue nail polish that resembles one of mine “so we can be twinnies Mommy!” makes my entire day. I giggle right alongside her when she jumps up and performs an impromptu “Hop, hop, hop like a penguin” dance for everyone in the room. I can’t help but crack up when she crawls onto my lap, rests her head next to mine and sweetly whispers, “I’m farting on you right now.”

So yes, I definitely love them an equal amount. Neither of them has a bigger piece of my heart, I can promise you that. But I never knew that “love” could mean so many different things until I met the two of them. Because of them I get to experience every emotion on the spectrum, every color of the rainbow and every stage of heartburn imaginable. I get to enjoy warm, cuddly love and unpredictable, exciting love. I’m surrounded by sweet smiles and mischievous smirks; soft, long hugs and firm drive-by squeezes; “I love you so much, Mommy,” whispered in my ear and “You know you love me Mommy!” shouted from the next room.

I may have told Christie that I believed her that day, but I admit I was still a little nervous about figuring out how to share myself once I became a mom of two. Little did I know that not only did I have enough love to go around, but that it comes in more varieties than Ben & Jerry’s has flavors.

So here’s to safe, comfy love; crazy, impulsive love; and the little humans who open all the nooks and crannies of our hearts that we never knew existed, just by loving us.


Broken Hearts

“Wanna hear something funny?”

“Of course.”

“Donnie just walked out of Mom’s bedroom with one of her chocolate bars.”

“Oh my God! Nicky, I just pulled her wallet out of her purse and guess what was stuck to it? A wad of tissues.”

My sister and I laughed like two tipsy friends at happy hour, but it was a thin veil for the fear that was coursing through us.

It was déjà vu all over again.

The last 10 years of my grandmother’s life were largely spent in and out of emergency departments and specialists’ offices- waiting for test results; waiting for new diagnoses; waiting for medication adjustments; waiting to hear we had more time; just…waiting.

When she passed, tucked underneath the 6 months of almost insurmountable depression that covered me like a heavy wool blanket, was a tiny, almost imperceptible feeling of relief.

She was free, and we could breathe.

No more 2am trips to the ER; no more frantic phone calls; no more watching her fade in and out and bargaining with God to bring her back to us.

Fast-forward 8 years, and there I was on Saturday afternoon, white-knuckling the steering wheel as I followed the ambulance to the hospital.

Three episodes in 2 hours. Chest pain, jaw pain, shoulder pain, dizziness…that horrible wince on her face and the faint whine that escaped her lips as the squeezing caused her to double over in pain. And it washed over me. The day my grandmother had experienced 3 episodes in a few hours….had called 911 as a precaution…and had a massive heart attack in the ambulance on the way to the hospital.

I watched the techs take vitals, chart symptoms, and assure my mother that no, she wasn’t wasting their time and yes, she did the right thing by calling 911, because all of her symptoms pointed to a heart attack.

I closed my eyes and there was my grandmother, arguing that she was fine- it was just indigestion- and she was ready to go home.

I unstuck my legs from the vinyl bench to get up and adjust the height of her bed; as I searched for a button I was suddenly back in Grandma’s rehab center, laughing like a little kid as I pushed all the buttons, making her bed dance, and she warned, “You rotten kid, when I can get out of this bed I’m gonna hop you in the ass!” while she laughed alongside me.

I listened to one doctor after another.

“You should think about getting a stationary bike to get your heart muscle going, maybe just put it in the living room…”

I closed my eyes and saw my grandmother’s exercise bike, sitting in the living room, draped with clean laundry.

I watched the monitor reading off blood pressure, oxygen levels and heart rate, the numbers blurring together the more I stared at it, expecting it to give me some sort of answer.

I pulled open a tiny cranberry juice container and bobbed a tea bag into a Styrofoam cup of lukewarm water because my mother wasn’t allowed to exert herself too much until they were sure she was stable.

“I’m not touching that broccoli…you think they could have spared a little more pasta?….ugh, this tea is cold….I do like this fruit cup though.”

I shuddered.

Déjà vu all over again.

When my mother had been admitted- and she had promised me she wasn’t going to try to make a break for it- I decided it was safe to go home. I kissed her goodbye and she smiled at me, and once again, it washed over me.

The afternoon that my grandmother had kissed me goodbye, assured me she was fine…and then had 2 massive heart attacks in her hospital bed as I was pulling out of the parking lot.

I got in my car and stared at my phone. It stared back at me.

And suddenly…I couldn’t breathe.

The next day we waited for more doctors to chime in. I sat on another vinyl bench seat and watched my mother’s emotions range from nonchalance to anger to fear. I listened to her complain about the consistency of the cream of wheat and opt for the French toast. I saw her joke with the nurses and tell me about all the alarms she heard going off in the other rooms overnight.

“I’ve been praying for Room 9 all morning….2 code blues, Cathy. That’s not good at all.”

I searched the hallways for the water machine and we laughed about how I pushed the button too hard and an avalanche of ice came pouring down on me.

They released her with no real answers and instructions to, in the nurse’s words “call 911 and get your butt right back here if you feel ANY pain at ALL.”

And the entire time, the feeling was washing over me like a frigid waterfall, trying its best to drown me.

Here we were again.


Would this become my new normal…again? Juggling schedules and doctor visits with my sister, as I had watched my grandmother’s children do for all those years? Scolding my mother for eating Chinese food because “How many times do we have to tell you it’s loaded with salt! You have a heart condition!” and watching her face dim slightly because she didn’t appreciate being treated like a child?

How many more times would my son climb into my bed at 6:30am, asking, “Where did you go yesterday, Mommy? You said you were just going out for a minute and then we would go to Francine & Ryan’s barbecue and I could play with all the other kids…but you never came back.”

How could I effectively explain that as I drove past my parents’ house on my way to the liquor store, something had tugged on me to turn around? That I didn’t have time to come home and tell him anything before I grabbed my mother’s purse and followed the flashing lights onto the highway? That I had snuck into his room when I returned from the hospital, hugged him as he slept, and wondered if he’d ever have that same intuition and find me sitting on my couch, wincing and looking into his eyes with the fear of not knowing why my body was betraying me?

I didn’t tell him in that moment. But I’ve decided that eventually, I will.

I’m going to tell him that if this ever becomes his “new normal,” he needs to laugh.

He needs to laugh when he finds hidden chocolate bars in my bedside table (because we all know I’m going to be the old lady who hides chocolate). Laugh when I blurt out “What is this cold brown water?! Get money out of my purse and get me a real damn coffee.” Laugh when he pulls my wallet out of my purse and 17 tissues fall out.

Laugh when I ask him to raise my head a bit, he accidentally pushes the wrong button and my feet go flying into the air instead. Laugh when the ice comes pouring out of the machine and he’s frantically putting cup after cup under it and looking around to make sure no one is watching this fiasco.

I’ll tell him. He should know, just in case. Because if there’s one thing that the wild ride with my grandmother taught me, it’s that laughter is the only effective way to numb the pain of a broken heart.