In my lifetime I have climbed many fences, both metaphorically and physically. The first time I climbed a fence that I remember, I was eight years old. I was in the yard of my elementary school and saw the tops of trees from the neighboring sump. I was so curious I had to climb the chain link fence to see. My adventure ended in the nurse’s office with butterflies on my left hand. I still have the scar.
Flash forward twenty years.
I am at my daughter’s softball practice and a ball goes over the fence into the neighboring golf course. This time it is a seven-foot tall chain link fence. But no matter. Thrilled to have something to do, I jump over the top of the fence. As I bring my left leg over, I discover that I am caught in some brambles. I try to disentangle myself and wind up putting my hand through the top of the fence. This time it is my right hand. It has gone straight through the webbing between my thumb and forefinger, and I can see the muscles in my hand.
One of the coaches is trained in first aid, and wraps up my hand. “Do you need a ride to the hospital?” he asks.
“No, I’ll be okay,” I say, trying to put a brave face on things.
I leave my one daughter in the coach’s care and stop home to tell my oldest daughter what has happened. I ask her to let her daddy know what happened but not to alarm him. I am feeling a little light-headed. Attributing it to my lack of dinner, I grab a canister of almonds and make my way to the hospital.
On my way, I yell at myself for being so stupid. The pain is really getting to me. I start shaking and I don’t know why. About halfway there, I feel really woozy. I think I am going to pass out. I signal to the driver to my right to let me in, drive myself off the road, and call 911.
So the ambulance comes and I humbly repeat my story several times, although I can barely speak. On the way to the hospital, the shaking gets worse. My blood pressure is up to 160. “What is happening?” I ask the kind EMT.
“You are going into shock. You have to think happy thoughts. Put yourself in a good place.”
Shock? I don’t even really understand the concept, but it sounds scary. “Can I die from shock? I have 4 kids at home!” I exclaim. I am making things worse, knowing (with my psychology degree) that I am making things worse, and I feel helpless to stop it.
Now I’m in the emergency room, and several professionals take a look at my hand before I get the same doctor I had four years ago when my infant scratched my cornea!
“Have you been here before?” asks the tall, gaunt Russian doctor.
“I never forget a face…you had a corneal abrasion.”
He inspects, confirms no nerve or muscle damage, and guides the physician assistant in stitching up my hand. Seven stitches (and four hours) later I am ready to go but still haven’t been in touch with my husband. My cell phone won’t work and there is no public telephone. I walk to the lobby, where someone lets me use the courtesy phone.
“I need you to pick me up,” I say.
“Didn’t you drive?”
“I’ll explain later.”
A half hour later, my husband is relieved at my explanation, and I am relieved that the reason he hadn’t come was that my daughter had misunderstood the story and told him I just had a small scratch from a rose bush!
“What, do you think you’re 14?” he jokes.
One week later, I am on the mend, now able to type again. The stitches come out in another week. Over the weekend, I resisted the temptation to go over a few other fences to fetch errant balls, finding my way around or through a few.
Bio: Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller is a regular contributor to Mamazina Magazine. She blogs at The Divine Gift of Motherhood.
Photo credit: Dani Simmonds
“Those are my scars,” says my oldest, and she holds up two hands and points to the remains of a laparoscopic surgery I had to have while she was 21 weeks, floating around in a happy warm uterus while I laid on the table, crying and praying. Cysts that were too large had to come out, they told me, and for what it’s worth, everything went as well as could be expected except for the four little slices that grace the middle sides of my belly.
“That one is mine. It’s the biggest,” brags my son, whose flip-flop ability to turn himself in circles managed to wrap the umbilical cord around his neck. With each contraction, his heart rate dropped as much as the color in my husband’s face when they rushed me off to perform an emergency vertical c-section, the doctor not even changing out of her blue corduroy dress.
“These are yours,” I point with one hand and shake the other at my youngest child, showing her the fistful of stretch marks that were probably the fault of the Italian sub sandwiches I craved throughout her pregnancy. Still, I give her the glory. Without her, they (hopefully) would never exist.
For all the marks and scars that have healed in the worst way possible, I still proudly wear a two-piece bathing suit. There is no shame in slices and dices, and no shame in what I have given for my children, and I have given a lot.
But now I find myself facing my own new scar, one I am going to earn all by myself. It will belong to no one else but me.
Somewhere between nursing babies and catching strep throat from my elementary school children, without knowing I developed a swollen lymph node right smack dab at 2:00 in my left breast. “Harmless,” they tell me. “Unchanging,” they tell me. “We’d better just take it out,” they tell me.
This was never something I could have imagined, a small and probably benign lump measuring less than a centimeter in diameter having total control on my life. I wake up, and I remember it’s there. I lay in bed at night and wonder how it got there in the first place and try hard not to ask why I got to be the lucky one with a lumpy boob. I close my eyes and am incredibly thankful of what news I could have gotten instead of the controllable prognosis that I did.
As I prepare for a surgery so minor compared to the others I’ve had, I can’t help but think of how this scar will match up against the others around it. Small and hidden under the confines of even the skimpiest bathing suit, this scar will belong to me forever and always. There is no one else to claim it -— no one caused it. I earned it for no one. Yet, I take full and complete credit. I take the credit for being a person who cares enough about her life to do what it takes to continue being a wife, mother, and woman, even if it means another story to tell and, finally, a scar to call my very own.
Bio: Karrie McAllister, Mamazina Magazine’s graphic designer and regular columnist, has dabbled in everything from coal mining to culinary classes. She and her family live in Northeast Ohio where conversations in the grocery store and pierogis are as common as Amish buggies. Her column, Small Town Soup, appears in local newspapers and she is published on a variety of Web sites. Read more at her blog, Mom, Writer, Dirt-lover at www.KarrieMcAllister.com.
As some of you may know, from time to time, I’ve promised to give updates on the ongoing odyssey of medicating my eight-year-old son. So far we’ve been through all the hyper-acting medications, which, when they work right, are designed to have the opposite effect, allowing him to focus and be present in ways that allow his brilliant, incredibly sweet and loving nature to shine. The unfortunate side-effect of this last course was complete and unexpected appetite suppression. My string-bean indigo who is fussy about food to begin with lost four pounds last month. Coupled with his teacher’s mixed reports which proved inconsistent effectiveness at school, it was clearly time to move on to a new line of medicines, which I pray will act differently on the body.
I am hopeful this new round will do the trick because no matter what I think, the most important thing is for my guy to experience all that life has to offer — school, play, hobbies, interaction with family and friends, self-love, joy — in ways that can profoundly connect to his higher, most wonderful self. Anyone who doesn’t believe this is the correct arc for my son, or for any child dealing with subtle, yet persistent issues that often are difficult to classify, should find medication THEY can take. But today, on this beautiful early April day, I want to focus on brighter things.
Gratitude comes in all forms and flavors. I have gratitude for many things, including my children, my wonderful honey, my voice, my writing. And this week I express gratitude for a wonderful inaugural event that took place this past Thursday — the first of many Divas-Do-Lunch get-togethers.
I’ve been writing about if for a while, so for those of you who know, please bear with me. Divas-Do-Lunch is an idea I had to bring women from many different backgrounds, but with like minds, together for a luncheon that includes networking, good food, and a short presentation by yours truly. My talk was the kick-off in a series of discussions about what it’s like to empower us girls, to connect back to ourselves, to find that omnipresent, if not somewhat underused, Diva within and give her a much-needed hug.
In this first meeting I introduced the powerful idea that everyone has a Diva within, no matter if you’re a singer, accountant, mom, or basket weaver; and that D.I.V.A is more than a noun, it’s a verb/acronym which stands for Divinely Inspired Vigorous Attunement. The teaching is, Diva isn’t just who we are, it’s a way to bring a higher vibration into our daily lives by following some pretty basic principles I outlined in my talk.
For those of you interested in learning more, I invite you to come to my next Divas-Do-Lunch get-together, the details of which will be forthcoming. Oh, and in case you were wondering, each and every get-together we will make room for newcomers AND will build upon what was covered in previous talks, so there will always be something for everyone whether you’re new to the forum or a veteran.
Finally, Sunday April 3rd, was the new moon. In astronomical terminology, the new moon is the lunar phase that occurs when the moon in its monthly orbital motion around Earth, lies between Earth and the Sun, and is therefore in conjunction with the Sun as seen from Earth. At this time, the dark (un-illuminated) portion of the Moon faces almost directly toward Earth, so that the Moon is not visible to the naked eye.
From my faith tradition I have the added bonus of celebrating the new month of Nissan (the Hebrew month coinciding with April). This is technically the “first” month of the Jewish calendar. To honor the invigorating New Moon energy, the fresh start of the Jewish calendar, and the new Spring, I celebrated the day by writing New Moon affirmation lists with my children.
Together we typed, wrote and drew representations of all the things that we hoped, prayed, and wished for in celebration of the New Moon and budding Spring season. Though there is no “proper” way to do these lists, I highly recommend writing one and saving it until next year.
Like a time capsule, it’s wonderful to be able to look back and see where your thoughts were intentions were, not to mention capturing your kids vibrant imagination, adorably sloppy handwriting and crude drawings. The moon will shine and hide its face as it goes through its phases just as our children do. But today, I found a way to capture the transient beauty of it all.
Though I happen to be fond of my own list, I think the best wishes came from my children. I am especially proud of my daughter, who graciously agreed to let me share what she had written. I hope her list inspires you to create New Moon wishes that can serve you this Spring and for many moons beyond.
New Moon Wishes:
BIO: By day Shira Adler is a cantor, spiritual vocalist, certified pastlife regressionist, voice-over artist, producer, performer, writer/blogger and mompreneur and by night… well, she is actually the same person at night though she does admit to wearing fuzzy socks when no one can see her and hiding a secret stash of Mallomars somewhere near her writing desk for those late night pick-me-ups. In, around, and between her various work activities, she is raising two beyond-the-spectrum children as a single mom (though lovingly gives a shout out to her best friend, editor and soulmate whom she considers the bees knees). Is it any wonder her website’s tag line is One Voice Many Paths? Seriously, look up the definition of a multi-tasking Mama and you will find her picture there. But when it comes to living a life of connection, faith and consciousness Shira is the gal to call — or if you’re fresh out of Mallomars — she’s always happy to give you one. For more information visit: ShiraAdler.com, read her blog at Diva-Mama.com; Social: Twitter (1DivaMama), Facebook (DivaMama1), Tumblr (not really sure, but the name is cute) and LinkedIn (because doesn’t everyone?).
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So I’m walking into Sam’s Club the other day, a store that already I don’t much care for. Something about lots of giant containers of things, “vats” of mayonnaise and peanut butter and big boxes of breakfast sandwiches that take up too much room in the pantry and the fridge and freezer but that may make us savvy shoppers, my partner is convinced, and that make us major contributors to a consumerist culture, I am convinced. But anyway, I’m walking into Sam’s and I see this woman with a toddler in her arms sitting at one of the tables over in the eating area in the front of the store. She is holding the child’s butt up to her nose so she can sniff it and then, after not acquiring the evidence she sought, looks down into it diaper to see if she can locate a mess down there. “There is no dignity in mothering, I swear,” I said to myself.
Now, I remember those days well. I remember doing those diaper checks and that, of the two options, being a toddler butt-sniffer is preferable to getting a gander at all that nastiness down in that diaper. I don’t remember choosing that option at the front of a store, quite in front of people who were buying vats and cases of food but hell, I can’t swear, with any degree of accuracy, that I never did it. That stuff all just gets so interwoven with the rest of the demands of mothering — reasonable and un — that the less dignified of one’s tasks don’t even stand out anymore.
I remember being in the regular grocery store, quite content as I put my groceries on the register belt because my toddler son was quite content — and I really needed him to be that way right there while we were confined at the register — because he was playing with my wallet. A bad idea, I know, but he was occupied and I was so grateful of that simple fact for just a few minutes. As I put the last item on the belt I turn my attention to him only to find that he is chewing my very best photo of the two of us, the photo I take out and show people of my sweet little boogie who I now would rather like to throttle. I remember saying with tears in my eyes, “My God, nothing is sacred.” I’ve since taken that photo out once (only once) to show someone, mangled as it was, and thereafter retired the photo to a wallet location not seen by anyone but me.
As I’m writing, I’m thinking I have some of my least favorite memories at the grocery store. Excluded from these, mind you, is the one about my daughter following me down the aisle with her new and shiny and red and loud tap shoes. This never became a memory because that image came to me while I was at the store seriously considering buying them for her just for “fun” but luckily, that horrible image — me exhausted and trying to think and plan, and her tap tap tapping away behind me — prevented me from making a decision I’d surely regret; I hid the shoes up on a high shelf.
So I saved myself from that one but there were other memories. Like my children coming up to me complaining of various itching body parts — identifying them by their proper anatomical name — which, you may want to know throws strangers off guard a bit. There was the day when I was in the middle of painting my daughter’s room a hideous shade of pink, to my dismay, and I was in cutoffs and looking not particularly fit for human consumption but she, she was in a golden gown and elbow-length black gloves and big hat, the latter two of which my friend, who I then would rather have liked to throttle, bought her. So she has this getup on and I’ve got paint and cutoffs on (does anyone say “cutoffs” anymore? does anyone actually wear them?) and she will have no part of any plan to change her clothes, so the two of us set off for a paint re-supply at Lowe’s. Her walking slowly so that everyone could get a good look, all these older women telling her how lovely she looked, her telling them that she knew this, and me really trying to get in and out of the store wholly undetected but alas to no avail.
There’s the time that she was passing around these stickers — sparkly little bears on skateboards — and had us all put one on. My mother was talking with a woman over at her church later that day and remarked to herself that the woman seemed to have “the fakest smile” she’d ever seen. When my mother got in the car and looked in the rearview mirror she realized that she still had that stupid sticker on her cheek. No dignity.
There’s the time I started lactating right before I went to class because I had called home to check on my son and heard him crying in the background and the milk began to flow to comfort him. This would have been fine if I’d been at home rather than walking into a college classroom, soaked at the breasts, to teach. The list goes on, of course — my son nearly climbing over the restaurant booth which I’m too tired to care about much but the strangers into whose booth he is crawling seem to; the dentist telling me that my elementary school-aged son is a “real talker” (OMG, what was he telling you?). This post is really just too short to really capture the humiliation of it all. But I’ll bet, if you’re a mother and reading this, you know what I’m talking about. It’s harsh terrain, motherhood.
BIO: Dr. Mama (Amber Kinser) is a writer, feminist mother, professor, and speaker who lives in Tennessee. Check her out on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @DrMamaWit, and see her webpage. Kinser writes for the MamaBlogger365 series each Thursday at the Museum Of Motherhood, Mamapalooza and Mamazina Magazine.