‘perspective’

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Home

Home is difficult to describe. At any point in our lives, home is something that has a feeling, a near tactile truth, a definitive smell. A smell that becomes so familiar, so woven into who we are, we’re unable to recognize it. Only those who enter infrequently can–they’re simply far enough away. This week I was reminded again that home has very little to do with the structures built by hand. More with the hands that hold it together.
I had the fortune of seeing one of my nieces. Earlier this week I asked her a question; I was thinking concretely about an expected answer. I was limited in what I was looking for. She and her family have recently moved to a new home in a sunny part of California. I asked, “How’s the new house?”
She told me all about it:
The neighbors. Their dog. Their year in school, the three year-old brother, the sports they play, and the proximity of new friends to her porch. To my 8 year-old niece, this is her new home. The people.

I’m left knowing nothing about the paint, the color, the number of bedrooms, the faucets, or the kitchen.  And this is perfect, it feels like home.

The View: 5 Truths WhenTraveling With Children

We arrived home late in the day Monday from Central America (hence the near silence around here). My family traveled to Costa Rica where we visited my father, old friends, my family’s ecolodge, and had some real honest-to-goodness time together. I remained essentially unplugged for the 10 days (except for a few brief moments online). Wondrous. Life really feels different without an iPhone in my pocket and a diaper in my purse while on the way to preschool. I didn’t have the iconic stethoscope along either. In the absence of routine and my typical tools, I was reminded that travel and how you deal with it is often about perspective. And optimism.

Time brushes your body differently when you’re out of the country, as if it attains a new temperature. Startling news like the shooting rampage in Arizona or the deeper disappointment in Andrew Wakefield hit me differently than I would have expected. Sometimes what we infer really depends on the view. When sitting in a country without an army, surrounded by family and wide open spaces, priorities came into focus, minutia disappeared, the resume of my life diminished in importance, and tragic news penetrated less deeply. For me, travel was a break from responsibility but also a break from the internet, the demands of the constant worry we can feel when taking care of others or bearing witness to the hydrant stream of ideas and news in the (social) media. While I was in Costa Rica, I really felt like a mom. Singularly at times. We were devoid of deadlines and while in the middle of the rain forest, the distance from technology was vast. Big trees, humid thick breeze, and the bazillions of bugs reminded me that there really was a time before my iPhone, Twitter, and e-mail. There can be time that is slow and uninterrupted.

Let me be clear, travel with children isn’t all rosy and relaxed. Travel with children is just that, travel. It’s not technically vacation. There remains little “down-time.” The diapers still get filled, the tantrums remain rampant, the sicknesses can still appear, and the room is usually crammed. And although travel through the eyes of children enlightens, it also exhausts. Which leads me to these 5 things. Read full post »

Latitude: 47 Degrees

Today is Monday and my g-calendar says, “Vancouver.” That’s where I am supposed to be for the better part, of the longest day, of the year. My latitude however, remains at 47 degrees. And I trust, like so many others, this day isn’t turning out as planned.

Reasons for the change of location include: the realities surrounding my being a mom, tonight’s swim lesson, a long leg cast, colon cancer, the necessity for using logic, and a dog who sneezed. And because of all of this, if written, the epitaph of this particular day will likely be something like: Latitude for the summer solstice, the day Wendy Sue found her calculated position and knew that leaving was the wrong thing to do.

Being practical when you’re a parent is so alarmingly necessary. One of the quintessential truths no one tells you at the baby shower. It feels good to do the right thing, it’s just wholly inconvenient when you’re desperately trying to make space for some sociability and connection to your friends. It’s back to the grown-up stuff I write about, that being caught in a generational sandwich thing. Read full post »

My Mother’s Day

You know, I had a nice Mother’s Day. There was a picnic, some hugs, my sweet F saying, “Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy.” There were tulips and time with my boys. I had time alone with my mom. But it wasn’t simple. Even with the gourmet Seattle sunshine and the flowers in the grass for airplane rides, I really did spin through variant emotions as the day unfolded. I think a lot about parenting now that I write a blog. Fortunately, by the end of the day, at least for 2010, I think I knew what Mother’s Day meant to me.

Mother’s Day may be complex, especially for non-traditional families and for those whose lives are surrounded by illness or loss. This year was the first time I really got that. Read full post »

Mother’s Day Gift

I already got my Mother’s Day gift. It came in two parts this week. And it only cost $25.

It started on Wednesday. I had an over-scheduled day of meetings, my mom’s chemotherapy, a luncheon (that I ended up not making it to), blog stuff, patient calls, an interview for local PBS. I moved at a high rate of speed. All the things I did were utterly disparate. There were real highs and some real lows. Roller coaster stomach drops and jittery fingers is just the way I like life, it turns out.
I downshifted for the last event of the day where I met Kristin van Ogtrop, the editor of Real Simple magazine and author of a new book, Just Let Me Lie Down. I introduced myself, told her what I’m sure most everyone does, something like, “I love the pretty magazine…gosh it’s amazing to think about having things organized and lovely, polite and well-mannered…comparatively my house is a dump and I work crazy hours and I love my kids pants off every day.” She mentioned how her house really isn’t all Real-Simple-ized. She said it looks a lot like other peoples’ houses. She said she works a lot. She’s a mom, busied and pulled all sorts of ways.
Her arms looked remarkably well attached though.
Read full post »

Little Morsel: Go West

I’m going to share little morsels I read. This is morsel #1. I read this article while on vacation a week ago. I loved it. Only the abstract is available online today but if you feel you can pick up a New Yorker, do. If the full article becomes available online, I’ll redirect the link.

Although it doesn’t relate to pediatric health, it relates to telling stories. Which is what I do here.

Read Peter Hessler’s “Go West,” if you can. It’s not too long (like most in The New Yorker) and it’s chewy. I nibbled on the words and swallowed the images he creates.

Think running a marathon, learning the pronunciation of the state of Wyoming, and moving to Colorado. Think about Americans as storytellers. Think about moving back to the United States.

I think, next time I move, I want to hire the company he used in China.

Maybe you don’t even have to go on vacation to read it. How about during nap time?

I Hope He Never Reads It

Letter written to my sonWhen F started preschool in February, they asked for items to add to their disaster kit. They wanted a gallon of water, an extra blanket and a note to soothe F in case of a disaster. The thought of writing the note was simply too much for me. I hadn’t given them the letter (as I was supposed to) until now. Here it is. Writing it today feels as if I’m trying to lift up part of the sky.

I’ve never written something I didn’t want someone to read. I hope he never reads this:
Read full post »

Nothing I Learned In Med School: On Parenting…

Parenting, pure joyStumbled upon an article summary last week, “Bad Behavior Linked to Poor Parenting.” I am going to call this BBLtPP. I clicked on the link with butterflies, hoping not to find something like: We’re following a pediatrician with 2 sons, one doctor husband, and one overweight Labrador who live in Seattle. She writes a blog. It’s her parenting we’re worried about…
But I clicked on the link and it didn’t exist; I got an error message. Then again, nothing. Clicked a few minutes later. Nothing. The page on MSNBC for some reason had vanished.

Thank goodness.

I hate seeing reports like this in the media. They propel this myth that there is one way to do this, this raising of child. When American Idol advertised for “Mom Idol” last night, I wondered was Mom Idol going to sing or just win for being the best all-around-rock-n-roll-Mom? I’m certain not to win in both categories. I’m sure I’m doing something wrong. Parent teacher preschool conference next week, so I’ll let you know. But really, what defines ideal motherhood and who is the one doing the defining? Read full post »

Which Is It?

Running to PottyI spent the weekend lying around feeling like death on a cracker. And most of my mental thought other than, “Please, please go away, bug” was consumed by the question, “Which is it?”

Food poisoning and a bad weekend for me
or
Gastroenteritis and a bad week for me, my O, my F, the husband, and my friend visiting from San Francisco

Let me explain. Food poisoning is not likely to be contagious, gastroenteritis (or stomach flu) is. This phenomenon of stressing on my exact diagnosis has occurred only since having kids. See, I had the “stomach flu” all weekend. I visited the porcelain bowl more than 30 times on Saturday. I felt like utter crum-dog. You’ll have to endure no more details than that, but lemme tell you, it was awful.

As a mom now, what worries me the most when this happens is ensuring the kids don’t get it. Because then it would be a total nut-house-disaster-ness-gross-vomitorium-diarrhea-pit. You know what I mean. Nausea and “not being able to control my secretions” is something okay for me, but nothing I want my kids to endure. Let alone have to clean up after. Read full post »

Loving Number 2 Just Like Number 1: Prioritizing Your Pregnancy

Home pregnancy test

Before O (my second baby boy) was born I couldn’t really fathom loving him like I did, F (my first born).  I’m not alone in this, I know.  One of my friends recently told me she was so bewildered by the idea of number two that when she, her husband, her first son and her brand new baby were on the way home from the hospital, she leaned over from the passenger seat and whispered, “I’ll always love you best,” to her first born.  Whew.

It happened though.  Just like everybody told me.   I really love number 2. Read full post »