Category Archives: Parenting

My Sympathies to Anthony Weiner’s Mom

Update from Weiner World: Anthony Weiner is at it again.

And Anthony Weiner’s mom is on my mind.

Now in his third public exposure, so to speak, Anthony Weiner’s peccadillos have again brought shame to his family and ridicule from around the world.

Who would have thought that this schmuck would still be sexting his private parts to random women online?

I feel very sorry for Huma. I can’t imagine the agony she’s had to endure, trying to keep her head high and her personal life out of the spotlight.

I also feel sorry for Anthony Weiner’s mom, who never in her wildest dreams imagined her baby boy would grow up to be a sexting addict.

So this post first published three years ago feels very deja vu.

And once again the message to Anthony Weiner’s mom is heartfelt.

Dear Anthony Weiner’s Mom,

We don’t know each other, but I’ve been thinking about you lately. Wondering how you’re holding up.

Yes, you. Anthony Weiner’s mom. I’m concerned about you.

Can we talk, mother to mother?

You see, I have adult children, as you do, although none of mine has been involved in a sexting scandal, as far as I know. Nor have they embarrassed the hell out of me on an international stage. Not yet, anyway.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying my children are perfect, not at all. Are they wonderful human beings? Yes. Have they made poor choices in the past, mostly involving liquor consumption and sky diving? Yes.

But here’s the thing. We are meant to fall deeply in love with our children from the day they are born. I did, and I bet you did, too. Unconditional love. From their first uncertain steps to making the soccer team to graduating from college, our kids made us kvell over accomplishments both big and small.

Whether we should take credit for any of that is debatable, but admit it, every success made us glow knowing that we nailed the parenting gig.

Because we adore them unconditionally, we forgive them for their shortcomings. Kids are kids and make errors in judgment.

As parents, we hope they learn from their mistakes. It’s called growing up.

That’s why my heart goes out to you, Mrs. Weiner. Your son hasn’t grown up. He doesn’t get that it’s not all about him. That beautiful wife and son of his do not deserve the suffering that he has inflicted. But this is not your fault.

I know you love and support your son. Just between the two of us, though, be honest. Has he tested every last nerve? Do you really want to just smack him upside the head? Do you wish you could send him to “Time Out” for a long, long time?

If he were my son, that’s how I would feel.

My point is that whatever emotional roller coaster you’re on right now, please don’t allow parental guilt to be part of the ride. It is not your fault. There were many times when he made you proud.

But he screwed up, big time. Many times.

He did. Not you.

So continue to stand by your son, as any mother would do. But don’t tear your hair out wondering what you did wrong. Maternal guilt can be a killer. Just don’t even go there.

Between you and me, I think there is a lot of sympathy out there for you, especially from other moms. Moms who can’t fully relate, but know what it feels like to suffer in the wings while a child is in free fall. To agonize when your child has let you down, really hard.
Most moms I know would give you a hug, Mrs. Weiner, and tell you to hang in there.

And I am one of those moms.

 

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Book Buzz: Ketchup is My Favorite Vegetable

As 2015 draws to a close, I am gratified to end it with a book that has warmed my heart and nourished my soul.

Liane Kupferberg Carter’s tender and poignant memoir, Ketchup is My Favorite Vegetable: A Family Grows Up With Autism, is the story of her son Mickey’s autism, but the theme of parenting children with challenges is universal.

Ketchup is My Favorite Vegetable: A Family Grows Up With Autism

Like any parent whose child does not seem to be progressing “normally,” Carter and her husband Marc have doubts when Mickey isn’t talking or walking like others his age. Their pediatrician assures them that Mickey is “hitting milestones on the late end of normal” and shouldn’t be compared to their older son, Jonathan.

However, at eighteen months when Mickey is obviously delayed, testing is recommended.

Mickey is diagnosed with autism at just under two years old.

It is a bitter pill to swallow when parents get that diagnosis. It is even more devastating when they are not given a road map for navigating the bumpy road ahead.

In Ketchup is My Favorite Vegetable, Carter takes us along for that ride.

The Carters are determined to find the best treatment for their son no matter what it takes. They have consultations with many specialists, who advise a dizzying array of tests and procedures for Mickey. They deal with therapists and aides of varying competence. They seek out other parents of children on the spectrum for their advice. With so many opinions, who can know what the right course of action is?

The search is exhausting but the Carters doggedly pursue answers. It is a roller coaster ride. There are flashes of hope followed by crushing defeat, over and over again. They are dealt another blow when Mickey is diagnosed with epilepsy, a not uncommon condition in autistic children.

Throughout Mickey’s years in school, the Carters receive daily emails from his teachers. Some days are good, some bad. The Carters choose to focus on Mickey’s abilities while being realistic about his challenges, and expect his educators to do the same.

Mickey does well in the special ed program at school until he reaches ninth grade. In the Carters’ community, as in most communities these days, the emphasis is on students who are college bound. The services available for children with special needs are often nonexistent, or mediocre at best.

The Carters are persistent with the district, asking for accommodations that Mickey is entitled to. It is a long and frustrating ordeal, but eventually they are granted their requests. Children like Mickey thrive in an environment in which life skills, not daunting academics, are taught.

Carter is unsparingly honest about the reality of living with a child on the spectrum.  The anxiety and sadness, the frustration, and yes, times of anger when Mickey is treated badly by his peers or unknowing, unthinking strangers. The sting of thoughtless remarks or ignorant stares never loses its sharpness.

But Carter does not allow Mickey to be defined by his disability. He is a fun loving, intelligent, compassionate child, friendly and kind to all. He has a wicked sense of humor. He loves his cats and worships his big brother. He is beloved by his family and friends.

Carter, a marvelous writer, details both the struggles and joys of parenting with pathos and humor. Her engaging style makes this book a page turner, and I hope there will be a sequel someday.

Ketchup is My Favorite Vegetable: A Family Grows Up with Autism

Liane and Mickey Carter

Ketchup is My Favorite Vegetable is a validation of the phrase, “love conquers all. ” And I think I’m in love with the Carters.

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Grandparents Do the Darnedest Things

Grandparents Do the Darnedest Things

If there is a grandmother alive who doesn’t love to talk about her grandchild, I haven’t met her.

Grandmothers love to talk about their grandchildren. Especially when the little ones are babies, miraculously learning new things all the time. Just ask a grandmother “What’s new with little So-and-So?’ and this is what will happen.

She will smile broadly, her face will light up, perhaps even her eyes will glisten.  She might grab your arm and exclaim, “I must tell you what he did yesterday. He’s so smart!”

According to reliable sources — my friends who are grandparents — there is nothing cuter, more captivating, more ridiculously precious than the antics of grandchildren.

I haven ‘t experienced being a grandmother firsthand. Not yet. For now, I am delighted to live vicariously through my friends’ lives as they navigate this territory that is still unfamiliar to me.

Like yesterday. I had lunch with two grandmother friends, Meredith and Jane, whose stories kept me entertained the entire time we were at the restaurant.

I sighed after wiping away tears of laughter.

A wistful sigh it must have been.

“Just wait,” Jane consoled me. “You’ll have your own grandkids.” She added, brightly, “Someday.”

This is what my friends tell me all the time. I’m behind schedule in the grandchildren department. Well, my schedule anyway.

Note to my kids: Kids, really, no pressure. And please take the necessary steps before giving me grandchildren. Specifically, love and marriage.

“What if,” mused Meredith, “our success as adults was measured the same way we measure the success of babies?”

I forked a wedge of omelet as I pondered her comment.

“Go on,” I said.

“Think about it,” she continued. “What do you ask a new mom about her baby? ‘Is he a good eater?’ If the answer is yes, we ooh and ahh. What a smart baby!”

This was a brilliant observation, I thought. The wheels in my mind started turning.

“Mer,” I said, “you’ve given me fodder for a blog post.”

Grandparents do the Darnedest Things

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if grandparents got the same adulation for doing precisely the same things babies do? We all like to be praised for doing a good job, big or small.

We get accolades for excelling in business, or landing a coveted job, or running a marathon.

But when was the last time you were applauded for …

  • Being a good napper
  • Making a solid poop
  • Clapping hands and doing So Big

Grandparents Do the Darnedest Things

  • Not crying when it’s time to go to bed
  • Burping after you finish a meal
  • Waving bye-bye
  • Getting a boo boo and being brave
  • Swallowing medicine and not spitting it out
  • Mispronouncing a word

Grandparents Do the Darnedest Things

  • Giggling when someone tickles you
  • Trying a new food and not making a face

Am I right?

Thank you, Mer and Jane, for the inspiration. And thank you to my (also a grandmother) friend Elise who helped me add a few items to this list.

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Is Sharenting Harming Our Kids?

As a parent whose children came of age prior to the social media boom, I often congratulate my husband and myself on our impeccable timing.

We lucked out. Of all the stresses inherent in child rearing, certainly the use and abuse of social media is high on the list.

I mean the parents’ use and abuse.

Here’s the question I ponder sometimes. If I had been able to share information about my young children on social media, would I have?

Of course, is my answer.

Might I have been one of those parents guilty of a little too much “sharenting?”

Entirely possible.

Sharenting?

Sharenting is a recently coined term referring to parents who share information about their kids on social media and is mentioned in this report from the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. Based on a survey of 569 parents with a child or children ages 0-4, the study found that 54% mothers and 34% of fathers discuss child health and parenting issues on social media.

What do they discuss? Sleep issues, nutrition and eating tips, discipline, daycare and preschool, and behavior problems, among others.

So, what’s the big deal about parents reaching out to others to seek advice and support? What’s so bad about wanting to share a questionable photo on occasion? Maybe, after a long day in the trenches, parents need to vent. Or share a laugh.

Totally get that.

As a young mom, I would have enjoyed chronicling the special moments of my three kids on Facebook. Bath time, for instance, or losing a tooth, or blowing out birthday candles. I would have found comfort in a community of parents with similar issues and concerns. If I was in search of advice, or I needed to share a chuckle, why not blog about it, or post on Facebook?

Harmless enough. But what issues? What about tantrums? Or potty training? Sibling rivalry? Meltdowns after school?

That’s where the sharenting line in the sand is blurred. Where should that line be drawn, especially when your kids are too little to have a say in the matter? And even if you get their permission, what does a four year-old know about the implications of sharing personal information on social media?

Is Sharenting Harming Our Kids?

What seems benign now could be a psychological tsunami someday, with aftershocks for years to come We parents are essentially imprinting our kids’ digital footprint in the sands of time without their consent, with no understanding of the potential ramifications down the road.

Preserving memories, or obsessive behavior?

I have seen photos that make me squirm, like a photo of a child pale and glassy-eyed with the flu. I have seen children with frozen smiles whose parents seem to document every bit of their daily activity. Are we forcing our kids to pose instead of just be in the moment?

Photos can be deleted. Not so easy, however, to remove blog posts and Facebook conversations about bed wetting and bullying and discipline issues at school. Does that set our kids up for ridicule? Even if their names aren’t used, I mean, all you have to do is Google the parent’s name and there it is. It is there. Will this come back to haunt not us, but our kids?

I don’t have the answer.

In its early days, social media was a fun game with few rules and boundaries. Now we know that there is a dark side. With that in mind, is it incumbent on us parents to err on the side of safety and keep our kids’ information off the Internet as much as possible, until they have the maturity to make these decisions themselves?

Or is it too late, and our children’s digital profiles are but a Google search away?

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A Most Unusual List of Baby Names

When it comes to baby names, we parents generally put a lot of thought into selecting the perfect ones for our offspring.

The Search for the Perfect Baby Names

I’m pretty sure my husband and I started the baby name discussion long before the pregnancy test came back positive. Back and forth we went, debating the merits of Katie (too popular? Would she be Katie B. because of multiple Katie’s in her classroom?) and Liane (would it be mispronounced? I was sensitive to that), Jared (too trendy?) and Matthew (I liked it; my husband didn’t).

baby names

We wanted to find monikers that our kids would be proud to carry throughout life and not provoke them to hate us and/or seek therapy.

I still marvel at the chutzpah of parents like Frank Zappa, who named his son Dweezil, and fighter George Foreman, naming all five sons George, and film director Robert Rodriguez, whose sons were given the names Racer, Rocket, Rebel and Rogue (his inspiration was allegedly a book of dog names).

So I had to chuckle reading Nameberry’s 2014 list of most popular baby names.

baby names

Based on the number of views each name attracted on Nameberry’s site, this list reflects the names parents are most interested in for babies due to be born in coming months. Not necessarily the most commonly used names, but the most frequently searched.

Apparently, Silas, August, Hazel and Mathilda have the same cachet to some 2014 parents as did Jason, Jennifer, Sarah and Jessica to 1980s parents and Susan, Linda, Robert and Richard to 1950s parents.

Call me old-fashioned, but really, Imogen, Katniss , Khaleesi and Luna? I wonder how many Seraphinas  and Djangos will populate the Class of 2032 and if Bohdi will be on the debate team and Aurelia class president?

baby namesI did a little crowd sourcing to find other unusual baby names and giggled as I compiled everyone’s answers. I hope you enjoy these (and no offense to anyone whose name is on the list).

These names are for real!

I’m sorry, but what were these parents thinking …

Rolls Royce

Abcde (Ab-si-dee)

Richard Head (goes by Dick)

Lingerie

Cerulean

Shithead (Shith-eed)

 

Must have heard in the hospital and it sounded good ….

Female (Fe-ma-lee)

Nosmo King (after the sign in the hospital)baby names

Hospital

Placenta

Ariola

Vagina (Va-gee-na)

 

And siblings …

Lemongello (Le-MON-gel-o) and his brother, Orangello (Or-RON-gel-o)

Twins Taffy and Candy Apple

Twins Square and Squalena

Brothers Chip, Wedge and Putter (sons of a golfer, natch)

 

And then there are doctors …

DC Gynecologist Harry Beaver

And in LA – Gynecologists Dr. Beaver and Dr. Hyman

Dentist Dr. Payne

Dr. Slaughter

 

What is it like going through life with the name …

Robin Sparrow

Cathedral Rotunda

Cinderella

La-A (La-dash-a)

Crystal Shanda Leer

Snow White

Luscious Plant

Hannukah

Naïve

Applemania (last name Apple)

Plotz (on his synagogue’s cemetery committee)

Junebug (an exterminator)

Carpenter (a builder)

 

The linguistic term for these is reduplication. I say it’s a lack of imagination.

Chris Christie

Kristoffer (Kris) Kristofferson

William Carlos Williams

William B. Williams

 

And just for fun, did you know that these are the real names of celebrities …

Katy Hudson (Katy Perry)

Demetria Guynes (Demi Moore) and her exes Walter Bruce Willis and Christopher Ashton Kutcher

Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra (Meg Ryan)

Louis Szekely (Louis C.K.)

Joaquin Rafael Bottom (Joaquin Phoenix)

Cornelius Crane Chase (Chevy Chase)

Elizabeth Stamatina Fey (Tina Fey)

 

baby namesIf any of the Snow Whites or Cinderellas out there are reading, I mean no offense.

So tell me… what are the most unusual names you have heard?

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A Special Wedding Anniversary

Happy 64th wedding anniversary to my amazing Mom and Dad!

You read that right. Sixty-four years!

A special wedding anniversary for two special people.

If you met my parents, you would find it hard to believe they are old enough to have been married this long.

They are young – young at heart, young in appearance and spirit, and as deeply in love with each other as they were on their wedding day 64 years ago.

wedding anniversaryIt seems that every year we ask them their secret. My mom usually demurs and my dad makes a joke, but this year I wanted to pin them down.

What is the key to your marital success?

Mom: Mutual respect.

Dad: Having wonderful children.

wedding anniversary

What is the best thing about your spouse?

Mom: He is smart and funny.

Dad: Her beauty inside and out. Also, our compatibility — we see things the same way.

wedding anniversary

What advice can you give to other married couples?

Mom: Be affectionate with each other. Enjoy a close relationship with your children and grandchildren. Have fun.

Dad: Be tolerant of moods.

wedding anniversary

Their love has made our world go round.

There is no greater gift than growing up in a house filled with love and laughter. My brother and I know how lucky we are.

My parents’ happiness simply comes from enjoying life … together. They share a passion for art and Broadway shows, Penn State (where they met and have remained active alumni), reading The New York Times every day and The New Yorker every week, animals and in particular my dog Duncan, energetically supporting their community, and of course, their family.

wedding anniversary

wedding anniversary

Their genuine pleasure in being with each other is obvious. My dad often remarks that my mom is the most beautiful and most gracious woman in the world (she is). And my mom still laughs at every joke my dad makes (as do I. He is the wittiest person I’ve ever known).

wedding anniversary

They are adored by their children and grandchildren who are grateful for them every single day. To say they’ve been an inspiration is an understatement. I am blessed to have them in my life and I send them all my love on this special day, June 18, their wedding anniversary.

wedding anniversary

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My Mothering Scorecard

Everyone needs feedback on their job performance, and moms are no exception.

I thought I was overdue for a review, but first, a self-appraisal.

Voilà — My Mothering Scorecard.

I wanted to tally the stats of my mothering scorecard and see how I stacked up.

I’ll be honest. My stats were all over the place. Not every swing was a hit, and not every hit was a home run. In fact, sometimes I was scared hitless.

So my batting average was erratic. Fielding? Meh.

I thought about the many times I had just wanted to kick the ground in a dusty display of frustration or throw my helmet towards the dugout while expectorating tobacco juice in a thin stream of defiance.

Let’s face it. Mothering can bring out the best and the worst in us.

To be fair, I had some home runs, but too many errors to count. Errors that still make me cringe. Like these:

Error #1

I pray that my son has blocked out the time when, as a 7 year-old, he got dropped off by the school bus and couldn’t get in our house. Where was his mother, who should have been there waiting with milk and cookies and a hug? Trapped in stand-still traffic for over an hour. No cell phone, of course. Nowhere to even pull over to call a neighbor.

I was frantic. This had never happened before, this inability to connect with my son when he expected it. Like being unable to make the bat meet the ball.

My poor little boy will be hysterical, I thought, banging my fists on the steering wheel.

But when I finally careened around the corner, as if rounding third base, I saw Evan sitting calmly on the front step waiting for me.

Finally ready for milk and cookies.

Finally ready for milk and cookies.

Score: Traffic won handily but I avoided a shutout.

Error #2

My younger daughter was far too young – just an infant – to remember the time I dropped her on the floor.

I was holding her in my arms while looking out her bedroom window at … something. Was it falling snow? Kids playing ball? I don’t remember. What I do recall is the eerie slow motion of her free fall out of my arms onto the (luckily) carpeted floor. It felt like an out-of-body experience, like I was an onlooker, shaking my head reproachfully at some doofus who didn’t know how to hold onto her baby.

Did my baby cry? Yes. I think it more from the look of horror on my face than actual injury. She was fine.

I'm OK, Mom!

I’m OK, Mom!

Score: Carpeting saved the game when I was called out at home plate.

Error #3

When my older daughter was about eight, she liked wearing her hair long and straight. It was time to go to the hair salon for a trim, but Emily said she wanted to change the style up a bit. “I’m not sure what she’s thinking,” I told Alex, the hairdresser, “but she wants to surprise me, so I’ll leave her in your good hands.” Alex had been cutting Emily’s hair for years. I trusted her.

Emily instructed me to not look while getting her new “do,” so I took a walk outside. Twenty minutes later I returned to the salon and thought she would be waiting for me. She wasn’t.

I searched every corner. She wasn’t in Alex’s chair. Nor was she hanging out by the door or sitting in the reception area.

“Mom?” a voice chirped and I looked down to see a little boy tugging my sleeve. A little boy who looked a bit like Emily.

“OMG!” I shrieked. “What happened to your hair?”

The sides were shaved into a reasonable facsimile of a buzz cut. The top was barely a fringe. Emily’s hair was so short that for many months afterward she was mistaken for a boy.

Did my daughter have gender confusion? Would she be able to ignore the curious stares that came with this territory? More importantly, would I be seen as a bad mother who could have saved her daughter this embarrassment if only she had been more attentive?

On the other hand, I had given her creative license to be herself, whoever that was. Maybe she had some kind of artistic genius. Maybe she was setting a trend. Could I be the mother of a fashion prodigy?

Her tomboy phase.

Her tomboy phase.

Score: Tied. Emily got the look she wanted and I got points for being the kind of mother who gives her kid permission to express herself.

We Made It Through Extra Innings

With my smattering of runs, hits and errors, I’m probably like most moms. N0t many of us can pitch a perfect game. But to our kids, we are all MVPs (Most Valuable Parents).

High fives to all of us.

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Mother’s Day is Every Day

This is a Midlife Boulevard bloghop. Take a look at the posts shared by other midlife women at the end of this post.

This Mother’s Day, May 11, is the same day as my oldest child’s 35th birthday.

Wait. What? How can he be 35 years old? Aren’t I about that age?

Thirty-five years ago, my son arrived five weeks early, slightly jaundiced but a healthy size, suffering no worse for the wear other than, due to this sudden appearance, his mother’s lack of preparation. She never had made it to even one Lamaze class or a parenting lesson. Never learned how to do a cleansing breath. Missed out on Diapering 101. She (I) was clueless.

The first night home, the crying was incessant.

From both of us.

The early days of motherhood were fraught with both delight in my newborn and intense insecurity. Was I doing the right thing by jiggling my baby until my arms hurt because he wanted to be held? Or was I stifling his independence? Was I providing a sense of security, or damaging him for life?

Yes, these are the worries that crossed my sleep-deprived mind.

But I was lucky. I had the best role model in the world: my mother. She never told me what to do, but supported me and let me know I was doing a good job.

Six years later Evan’s sister arrived, and three years after that, another baby girl.

Mother's Day is Every Day

By then I realized that motherhood is something you must learn on the job. No amount of preparation can teach you how to comfort a colicky baby or disguise vegetables in applesauce.

Three kids and 35 years later, the memorable moments are countless. First days of school with new lunchboxes. Tryouts for basketball and tennis and soccer. Holidays and summer camp and weekends at the shore. Middle school drama and college applications. Friends and enemies and frenemies. Sweet moments, sad moments, times of tears and distress, of laughter and hugs to make it all better.

Mother's Day is Every Day

I remember …

The way we used to get down on the floor to build Legos with Evan and he would suddenly get up and say, holding up his index finger, “I’ll be wight back!”

Emily’s insistence on calling Roy Rogers (destination for her favorite chicken nuggets) Walter Rogers.

Laurie’s refusal to smile. “Smile, Laurie,” we would beseech as we pointed the camera. She just opened her mouth wide like she was saying ahhhh.

Mother's Day is Every Day

When your children are little it seems like time is going ever so slowly. Now, with the benefit of time and experience, I wish I could relive those days with the wisdom I acquired later in life, with a little less anxiety.

Mother's Day is Every Day

I wish I had known as a young mother that, in spite of my concerns and undoubtedly my mistakes, everything would turn out alright.

Mother's Day is Every Day

It’s been better than alright. It’s spectacular.

 

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The Spring Break I’d Like to Forget but Can’t

My children are beyond the spring break stage, but the photos on Facebook of happy parents reuniting with their sons and daughters studying abroad take me back a few years when our youngest daughter, Laurie, spent a glorious semester in Paris.

When she wasn’t in class, she hopped on the Métro and visited museums, discovered the best macarons in St. Germain, strolled on the Rive Gauche and sipped coffee at outdoor cafes. She took a wine-tasting course and was proud when she was able to identify wines from different regions of France. Dining out was an adventure, too. She sampled Coquille St. Jacques for the first time and discovered the delectable Croque Monsieur (the French version of a grilled cheese sandwich). Her ability to converse in French grew stronger every day.

On weekends, she and her friends would hop on a train or plane to other European destinations. They visited Brussels, Madrid, London, Prague, Amsterdam and Switzerland where she … gulp … went skydiving. She didn’t tell me about this until it was over.

spring break skydiving

Laurie couldn’t wait to play tour guide when my husband and I joined her for spring break. But just two weeks before our trip we got a call from her that filled my heart with dread.

Her neck had felt stiff and sore for about five days, she told me. Thinking it was just a muscle pull, she had pushed through the week, attending classes but falling into bed in exhaustion at the end of the day.

I begged her to tell her program coordinator, Alexandra, who referred her to a free health clinic. Laurie dragged herself there. But the line was long and she was dizzy so she went back to her apartment. Her neck was swollen and painful and all she wanted to do was sleep.

Totally panicked, I contacted Alexandra myself and told her this was a serious situation and I needed her to get involved right away. Alexandra agreed to take Laurie to the doctor herself but Monday morning was the first available appointment. I waited by the phone, biting my nails.

After what seemed like days rather than hours, Alexandra called to say that the doctor wanted Laurie admitted to the hospital for tests. He thought she had an infection but did not have a definitive diagnosis. Alexandra promised to stay at the hospital.

With mounting panic, I realized there was no way I could stay home and get this information second-hand. I needed to be with my daughter and decided to get on the next flight to Paris with my older daughter, Emily, who insisted on accompanying me. We hurriedly threw some clothes in a suitcase and were ready to go to the airport.  While waiting for Emily in the car, I absently flipped through my passport.

The unthinkable happened even before we left.

No. No, no, no. This can’t be.

My passport had expired.

How had I not known this? We were supposed to leave in two weeks and I hadn’t checked to see if my passport was still valid? What was wrong with me? Now what?

Inside I was disintegrating, but I had to keep calm to figure out what to do. I don’t remember who I talked to — maybe someone at the airline? –but I found out that there is a way to renew an expired passport on an emergency basis.. Emily and I drove to the Philadelphia Passport Agency, our suitcases in the car, praying for a miracle.

After a full day of long lines and lots of waiting, I was issued a new passport.With barely enough time to get to the airport, we managed to make the flight to Paris. We arrived at 6 the next morning, grabbed a taxi and arrived at the massive Pitié-Salpêtrière Hospital where we found our girl, flushed with fever but so relieved to see us. She perked up long enough to tell us this was the hospital where Princess Diana had died.

Paris hospital

One hour later, she was taken into surgery. A cyst in her neck that had become infected was successfully drained and removed, with several stitches to show for it.

The spring break that wasn’t.

Laurie recovered completely after a week in the hospital and a week of rest and room service at the hotel with me. We were even able to salvage part of our vacation when my husband and son joined us for a long weekend (although sadly, Emily had left by this time).

Laurie refused to let this setback slow her down. Before the semester ended, she and her friends visited Barcelona and Ibiza. She met up with her brother for a weekend in Istanbul.

spring break Istanbul

After much angst, a happy ending.

Laurie came home with wonderful memories of Paris. The only lasting after-effect of her illness was a tiny scar that has faded over time, a souvenir of an unexpected adventure that did not diminish her enthusiasm for travel one bit.

We vow that that someday we will all go back to Paris together and this time, do it right.

The Spring Break from Hell

Laurie (right) and room mate on the balcony of their apartment.

 

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I Want to Be Alone with These Women

Excuse me while I clean up the coffee I have spewed on my computer screen.

Let this be fair warning: put down the drinks while reading “I Just Want to Be Alone,” a collection of humorous essays written by some of the funniest writers around, and compiled by Jen of People I Just Want to Punch in the Throat (hilarious in its own right, by the way).

I just want to be alone

Had these humorists been around when I was deep in poop and drippy popsicles myself, when my kids were sucking the very life out of me in their persistent but adorable persistent way, I might have gotten through it with much less stress.

stress free and alone

If laughter is the best medicine, I would have been a very healthy mom.

I Just Wanted to Be Alone

I recalled some of my own funny-later-but-not-at-the-time stories, for example, When Daddy Burned the Brownies and When Daughter #2 Scribbled Magic Marker on the Back of My Mother’s Leather Chairs. Also, there is “DW,” a term my children and I still use, which stands for Dad’s World, an imaginary place where everything that Dad says makes sense.

I laughed at every one of these well-written stories, and several have me smiling still.

My Obnoxiously Skinny Husband, written by Lynn Morrison of The Nomad Mom Dairy.I would not have realized that I left the book open to this page if not for a question from my husband later that day.

“Are you reading about someone with a skinny husband?” he asked, smiling knowingly.

Hello! This is my life, Lynn Morrison. I’ve got a husband who can eat anything — including a piece of chocolate cake every day — and has weighed the same SINCE HIGH SCHOOL.

And me? As a lifelong eater of carbs and struggler of weight, I can simply read a recipe and feel my pants get tighter. If I leave a comment on a food blog I’ll gain a pound. My husband can eat whatever he wants and not gain an ounce. Sigh.

I think the actual spewing of the above-referenced coffee occurred  when I read That’s Beans, Bitch! by Lisa Newlin of Lisa Newlin … Seriously? One of my children was so picky that she ate a total of five unrelated food items for the first 18 years of her life. I’m one of those mothers who went to great lengths to hide vegetables in other foods, but it was kind of hard to mask pureed spinach in macaroni and cheese.

The True Love Story by A.K. Turner, about meeting a guy on vacation and falling in lust love and moving cross country to live with him and buying a mattress with your mother along … I was rooting for this couple to make it but you’ll have to read the story to find out.

Raquel D’Apice from The Ugly Volvo wrote Project Run Away and described her date’s questionable wardrobe choices with amazingly familiar precision. My husband, once my date, was clueless about clothes until, lucky for him, we became a couple and I was able to show him the way around a department store.

Funny memories of dating came back to me when reading Stacey Hatton’s The Perfect Man.com. Stacey, of Nurse Mommy Laughs, tried Internet dating for a while  and may not have walked away with a husband, but sure got some great material for a story.

Because I finished this anthology hungry for more, I was relieved to find out that there is a Volume I of this series that I haven’t read.,”I Just Want to Pee Alone.” and I can’t wait to dive into it for more giggles.

Fingers crossed that the dynasty continues and there will be a Volume III.

“I Just Want to be Alone” is available in paperback or for your Kindle

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