|Mom and Dad and Marta Elena at Alexis' wedding|
Friday, October 28, 2011
My Mom required more than one person to attend to her around the clock. She couldn’t walk or talk, she had catheters and feeding tubes and went from one crisis to another.” If you are imaging her spending her days peacefully propped up in bed, that wasn’t the case. Every single day, her caretakers dressed her, did her hair and put on her make-up, and took her out. My Dad bought a van with a ramp for her wheel chair and off they went to the mall, to Costco, to the beauty parlor.
My Dad would never go to a social engagement without her. If he were invited to dinner or a party, he would bring my Mom with her entourage of caregivers. People stopped inviting him. It was so difficult for them to see her this way; she would sit in her wheel chair quietly, disengaged from the group. Her beautiful smile was replaced with a distorted confused expression. With very few exceptions, their friends fell by the wayside.
Mom wouldn’t have cared if he left her at home sometimes. She had wonderful and loving caregivers and my sisters and I were always around but my father refused to go out without her. My father wouldn't acknowledge that she no longer found pleasure in social situations or that she was changed in any way. My father, who had been the life of the party, was isolated and lonely. My sisters and I tried so hard to get my father to agree to leave his house and go to an apartment where his life would be simplified and less isolated but he refused to even consider it.
He stayed in his house and kept track of every phone-call that came in and every visit we made. Although my sisters and I were very attentive, my father took all his anger out on us. He reminded us every day how much we owed to him and my Mom, and that our only valid role was our role as a daughter. He played us against each other and had us competing against each other to be the good daughter, an unattainable goal. It was a terrible situation for everyone and I was so happy that my mom was unaware. She would never have wanted to be the cause of the family discord.
The other day I was out to lunch with some friends when a group of seniors came in to the restaurant. They came on a bus and were in wheel chairs and with walkers and canes; they came with smiles and camaraderie. I can’t look at a woman in a wheel chair with out crying these days. They remind me of my Mom and I relive the sadness of watching her slip away. But all the people in this group looked so happy to be there. As I watched them interacting with their caregivers and each other, I thought to myself how nice this was. These people were not isolated and lonely. Their children must be so happy to know that their parents are safe and have activities to look forward to. I thought to myself, Okay. Go ahead, kids. You can put me away! But, please, not just yet!
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
My daughter Danielle is very familiar with blogs from her work as a publicist and was very supportive when I decided to do a blog. She offered me a lot of great advice but she kept posing the questions, what makes you an authority? Why should people listen to you? I had no answers.
I tried to explain that I do the best I can to muddle through life, and I hope and pray that my children and grandchildren will not end up telling their shrinks all the well-intentioned things I have done to scar them. The only reason people might read my blog is to be assured by my blunders, share in my uncertainty and participate in my joy. It is all a part of the process.
I tell Alexis with great sincerity that she was my “experimental child”. I really didn’t know anything about babies or children before she was born and so many things were hit and miss. She was such an easy and good-natured baby and I thought, “I am really good at this.”
Then, Danielle came along and I learned that Alexis’ easy-going nature had nothing to do with me. She showed me that I could have a baby that screamed every waking moment and never slept. The year that Danielle was born, the birthrate around me plummeted. All the mothers that knew her were fearful that they, too, could have a baby like Danielle. Danielle is still stubborn, determined and tenacious, but I learned that those same qualities that made her a difficult baby make her wonderful, too.
Five years later, when I mustered up the courage to have another child, my son proved to me that “terrible two” was NOT a myth. He was sweet and loving, but always on the go and every time I turned my back he would flush something down the toilet. On more than one occasion, I found myself in myself sitting in the front seat of my car crying while he sat safe but secured in his car seat. Whenever I thought that I had mastered a point of child rearing with one child, my other children would come along and prove that “one size fits all” answers didn’t work.
Olivia is just like her mother; she is so peaceful and happy. The other day, Alexis called and said, “Olivia threw her first tantrum.” They were at a music class and when the teacher tried to wrest a maraca out of her hands and she threw a fit. “Mom,” she said “I used to get all judgey when my friends babies threw tantrums, I guess I learned a lesson”.
My experience of parenthood is that humility is a good thing. You have to be willing to admit that you don’t always have the answers or know what to do. You can never be surprised at the challenges but always face them with love and sensitivity. I made a lot of mistakes and the only thing that I can say with authority, is that I am no Authority.
The first lesson of mother of motherhood, never, ever say, “My child would never”. I can vouch for that. They can and they do!
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
|Olivia and a special Mom-to-be!|
Superstition has prevented Jewish people from embracing the idea of a baby shower given before the baby’s birth. Traditionally, we wait until after the birth when everything has gone as expected to bring the baby paraphernalia, such as the crib and the layette into the home. The reason for this is that a fully prepared nursery would be a horrible reminder in the case of a tragic loss. In today’s world, however, many Jewish mothers are having showers and it makes perfect sense to me.
In the past, we would order our layettes and the baby’s furnishings and ask the stores to hold them until they get the call that the baby was born. Then, during the time that mother and baby were resting in the hospital, a grandmother or another close friend or relative would have to scurry around picking up all the pieces, washing the baby clothing, setting up deliveries and putting everything together in time for the baby’s homecoming. In 2011, the average hospital stay is only a day or two and that is clearly not enough time to get it all done.
Holding a “Sip and See” was one alternative to the shower which enabled people to come to visit, have a cup of coffee and see the baby. The problem with this kind of event is that New Mothers are so busy that they often are not able to enjoy themselves and it is risky to expose such young babies to so many people.
Alexis never had a shower or a sip and see, but people were so generous with gifts for Olivia. I can only conclude that people love to give baby gifts and will Shower the new baby with gifts regardless. However, if gathering and celebrating the excitement that a new baby brings is the objective, I say, Go ahead and Shower.
Some out of the box baby shower ideas: Things the new mother may not even know that she wanted.
Photo Shoot with a professional photographer
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
“The goal isn’t to live forever, the goal is to create something that will.” Steve Jobs
I feel like I have lost a dear friend. Steve Jobs was a creative genius that has profoundly changed my world. Although the closest I have ever come to him was in an apple store, I mourn for an American innovator who was of my generation but has inspired every generation with his life and his work.
The first computer I ever used was at college in the early 70’s. It was as big as a washing machine and required a special “language”. I can’t remember much except that it never made any sense to me and I thought that computers, like chemistry and a few other required subjects that I hated would never be relevant to my real life. I imagined them being used exclusively in computer labs by engineers with high-level degrees.
One year ago, just before my granddaughter was born, I got an apple computer. Until then, my repertoire of computer skills was restricted to, word processing, e-mail and searching the web. I relied on my children to do the most mundane tasks, like upload my music and manage my facebook page. They had no patience for me at all, and always preferred to do the tasks themselves rather than struggle to teach me how to do these things. I never even had my own computer.
When I bought my first new computer of my very own, I subscribed for the one-to-one tutorial program. At my first lesson, I introduced myself to the instructor and warned him that I had limited technical aptitude and would surely challenge his patience. “I am just telling you in advance”, I said, “You will have to tell me everything at least twice”. He sweetly replied, “Hello, my name is Zlotto. Hello, my name is Zlotto. I immediately knew that we would be fast friends.
I have been an apple-rat ever since. I spend hours at their workshops and the instructors have amazed me with their endurance. They never make me feel stupid and make certain that I perform every function myself. I am proud to say that I have even impressed my kids with a few of my new computer tricks, including my blog. I have accomplished things beyond my own expectations.
With my new computer skills, I have prepared books of pictures and stories for my precious Olivia about her great and great great grandparents and their journeys from Europe to America. I hope that their stories of joy and accomplishment can be a source of pride and inspiration to her. Long after I am gone from Olivia’s life, she will be able to learn about who she is, where she came from and that she was deeply loved by her Anyu.
Without Steve Jobs, Blog-Gram-Mama would have been only dream for me. Thank-you, Steve, you have helped me reach my goal to create something that will endure with Olivia.