Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Gin & Tonic? Yes, Please.

OH! If only this post was about that G&T instead of “Gifted and Talented.” Mel has just written two posts about making the decision whether or not to put her bright children into their area’s G&T program or to keep them at their local elementary school, where they’re happy and doing well. First, I want to say that I am blessed to even be able to contemplate these choices. My daughter is healthy, and developmentally on track. She was behind verbally until her hearing loss was corrected when ear tubes were placed when she was two. But, in my opinion, she was still within the normal range with her verbal skills before her surgery. Just on the lower end of the bell curve. Now (take my objectivity with a grain of salt), I estimate her to be smack in the middle of the curve. Do I think my kid is wonderful, bright, my own very special snowflake? Of course I do. She is my joy! The light of my life. But gifted and talented in the way that NYC tests for? Probably not. Not at not quite four. FOUR!!!! Age four is when NYC begins testing for it’s G&T program. They can also take the exam at five, but there are very few spots available for those who don’t start in G&T in kindergarten. That’s it. There is no other time during their primary schooling for NYC kids to be tested for G&T. Even though research shows that it’s not accurate or effective to test at that age. And the test prep! Tutoring a child at age four (or younger) for a test that is supposed to indicate whether a child is innately ahead of the curve just feels so wrong. Oh, and don’t suggest holding my late November birthday kid back a year, even though kindy is the new first grade, don't you know. NYC has eliminated redshirting completely. Children start kindergarten the calendar year they turn five. Whether their birthdays are in January or December. They are then expected to start first grade the calendar year they turn six. So it’s not an option to send them to a private preschool the year they turn five and then public kindy the year they turn six. If you want to hold your end of year kid back a year, private elementary school is your only option.

The air of competition in NYC regarding kindergarten is insane. Nonetheless, I am grateful that we don’t live on the skinny island at the center of the city, where test prep for toddlers for private schools and G&T seems like the norm. There’s this feeling that if you don’t get your child into the right kindy, his or her future is DOOMED! Within the middle class contingent in my outer borough neighborhood there is some of this, but not at the level it is in Manhattan. As I said before, in my opinion, Sunshine seems perfectly average. She’s a happy, boisterous, child. Very affectionate, possibly with a higher than average EQ. She puts a lot of effort into nurturing her baby dolls. “Her wants to be next to me, or her will cry.” We are lucky to be zoned for excellent elementary schools. So why am I feeling all this anxiety about the G&T exam, for which I would have to submit the application by November 8th? What if I’m missing something? What if she’s gifted and talented in a way that the test would show, but that I’m not aware of? And we miss this opportunity? Although, for some of the same reasons Mel wrote about, even if she did test into the G&T program, I would almost certainly not enroll her in the city’s program.

I do not want her commuting to school at age 5. I don’t want to have to get her up earlier in the morning to get on a school bus to go to another neighborhood. I want her friends to be neighbors. I want her to feel like part of our community. NYC’s G&T programs are almost all G&T dedicated schools. Think about what that means in terms of diversity. Our neighborhood is THE most culturally diverse neighborhood in a culturally diverse city. Our neighborhood is also a mix of middle class and working poor. This benefits our local schools immensely. The middle class parents who send their children to the local public schools tend to be involved, and the percentage of the student population below the poverty line entitles the schools to additional funding and resources through the Federal Title 1 program. But, I’ve heard of schools that became high performing schools thanks to the Title 1 resources, then the middle class families zoned for the schools began sending their children there, only to have the percentage of students below the poverty line drop to just below the percentage to qualify for the extra funding. What happens then? Teachers are eliminated. Class sizes increase. You get the picture. As this article states, these schools can become victims of their own success.

I’m rambling, but all these factors are part of my anxiety. Adding in the uncertainty of what the Department of Education will change next. I'm hoping our next mayor will shake up the DOE. I know what my first choice is for Sunshine for kindergarten, but due to overcrowding, I have no way of guaranteeing that, even though my first choice is one of our zoned schools.

Pass me that gin and tonic NOW!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

And Then She Said – Part 3

I have much to update and much to say, but not enough time or energy. Briefly, my surgery went well, and my back feels so much better. Shopping for new clothes is FUN! Sunshine is growing like crazy, and started pre-k. Work is still crazy stressful, but basically, all is well with our little family.

Last night Sunshine got this big, proud look on her face and said to me, “Mommy, when I was in your tummy, I didn’t go to school. I went to work.”

Yes, honeybun. You certainly did.

Here’s some cuteness for you.

 My little monkey!

 Helping our building's super water the grass and plants.

 Just cuteness!

 First day of pre-k!

A day at the amusement park.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Me and Johnny

Thanks to Dresden’s post, I am now aware that The Deppster and I share a birthday month. Johnny is all of 17 days older than me. In June of 1963, the world was graced with both of us. Yup, you did the math right. I’ll be turning 50 in less than a week. Just a little over 2 months before my daughter starts pre-k. CRAZY! We had an awesome party last Saturday. (Sorry, no pics yet. Waiting for the 3 people who took pics to send them to me.)

I actually okay with this BIG number. I have my Sunshine! I can only imagine how I’d feel about this birthday if I had not managed to cross over from the Land of IF. She is truly the light of my life. But on the other hand, I’m so exhausted! 3 1/2 is a hard age. It feels like just about everything is a battle. She was awesome at the party, because I let her have as many juice boxes and treats as she wanted. Obviously, not an everyday thing. I know these battles are completely age appropriate, and she’s probably easier than lots of other 3 year olds, but it’s wearing me down. Working full time in a stressful environment and my chronic pain issues make it that much harder.

But my big birthday gift to myself should help. With my mom helping with Sunshine, I am scheduled for a breast reduction in 3 weeks. I’ve wanted this for a long time. I was big chested before, but between pregnancy and nursing, I went up about 3 cups sizes. They did not go down after I weaned. Thankfully, my insurance company agrees about the medical necessity, and approved the surgery. From what I hear from people who’ve had this done, the mid and upper back pain, and shoulder and neck pain will ease very quickly afterwards. I’m somewhat nervous about the recovery, but I’ve been reminding myself that I recovered from my c-section much more quickly than I expected, and much more easily than other women I know.

The surgery is scheduled for a Friday, and I’m taking the following week off work. My mom will have Sunshine at her house for the week. I’m anticipating going to my mom’s after a few days if I’m up to it, as I’m sure Sunshine will be jonesing for mama. She’s never spent more than 3 nights in a row at my mom’s without me, and it’s usually just 1 or 2 nights. I expect it to be emotionally rough all around. I’m also concerned about getting Sunshine to understand that she’ll need to be VERY gentle with me while I’m healing. You see, Sunshine seems to think they’re hers to do what she want with. Even though I weaned her at one, and I know she has no memory of breastfeeding, she routinely reaches into my shirt for a comforting grope. And when she wants to snuggle, it’s not unusual for her to slam her head against a breast. OY! Any suggestions? I’ve talked to her little about the surgery and how she’ll need to be gentle. I told her I was going to have an operation, like she did when Dr. W fixed her ears and nose, and it would make my back feel better. My little smart cookie asked if I’d be able to sit on the floor to play with her after. Something she knows I don’t do much because of my back. I’m not too concerned about not picking her up. She’ll have to get used to hearing no on that. For at least a couple of months.

I’m excited, nervous, and just wish the day would get here already.

Happy almost birthday to ME!

And here's a little random cuteness for you.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

And Then She Said - Part 2

Sunday was the Pride Parade in our neighborhood. It’s not as big as the one in Manhattan later this month, but it’s still sizable and very festive. I pulled together a perfect outfit for Sunshine to show our support for equality.

As we were watching the marchers go by, Sunshine spotted this costumed marcher (wearing the wings on the left (link is semi safe for work)).

“Look Mommy! He a butterfly!”

Of course he is, sweetie.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

And Then She Said - Part 1

I really want to keep a record of some of the things she says. They may not be chronological, but I’ll post them here as a sporadic series.

Sunshine has been a bit of a demon lately. She’s digging her heels in and testing her boundaries. It sucks! I’m now that mom — leaving stores with a screaming preschooler; standing calmly next to her stroller while she screams and puts her feet down on the pavement, so I can’t push the stroller; counting to three, so she knows I mean business. Good thing I don’t embarrass easily. She actually woke up at 2:30am recently and had a tantrum, screaming for cookies. (Suffice it to say, she didn’t get any.)

Last night, in between tantrums, she played pretend with me.

Sunshine: Mommy, I da mommy and you da baby. 

Me: Okay. 

Sunshine: If you want someting, you don’t get it if you scweam and cwy.

Me: (pouting) BUT I WANT IT!

Sunshine: If you scweam you get nutting.

Deceptively Adorable

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Join the Movement: Second Class Infertile

It's National Infertility Awareness Week. As usual, I'm overwhelmed with work, back issues, and a volatile three year old. For NIAW, I want to talk about age related infertility. It been on my mind a lot lately as I've been practically tearing my hair out reading messages on a listserve I belong to for women in their 40s who are single moms by choice, or attempting to become moms. The denial is through the roof! Another blogger and I have been emailing off list, and occasionally responding as voices of reason. So many women are convinced (or want to be convinced) that the odds don't apply to them. That the EXTREMELY rapid decline in fertility once a woman passes 40 can't really be true, because their grandmother, aunt, and Halle Berry, are proof that it's possible. Possible, yes. Likely, no. But we are blessed to live in a time that offers older women options. But with those options comes the need to really examine and choose where to use your resources.

Advanced maternal age. AMA. That’s what it says on my chart.
That’s my infertility diagnosis - the same diagnosis that blames the patient. I must have been too busy with my high-powered career while my fertility declined month after month. I must have crazy, unrealistic standards for a husband/father of my child, and that’s why I was pursuing fertility treatments as a single woman in my 40's.
Every time the New York Times runs an article on infertility, the comment section is filled with comments about picky career women who wait too long to start their families. We are not worthy of insurance coverage, they say. We are not worthy of treatments, they say. We should accept that time has passed us by.
Honestly, those comments don’t bother me much. The ones that get to me; the ones that sting, are the comments from other infertiles. They proclaim proudly that they are not like me - they are young and infertile, not like those women.
I could explain my long history of bad luck with relationships, but there’s really no point. Suffice to say, I’m very grateful that none of those men is the father of my child.
When I was younger, I assumed I would marry and have a child by the time I was 30. In addition to the pain of failed relationships, there has been the sometimes agonizing longing for a child. Trying to have a child on my own in my 40's was hard - really hard. I went to all my doctor appointments alone. After each failed (or cancelled) cycle, I cried alone. I did every single injection myself. I researched treatments and options myself.
I did finally succeed - I became pregnant at the age of 45 with donor embryos, and gave birth to my daughter when I was 46 years old.
When I read the defensive comments on NYT articles and elsewhere from younger women dealing with infertility, I want to say, “We’re not really so different.”
Infertility hurts. Let’s not allow the media and ignorant commenters divide us.
I have been so lucky to have received so much support from women in the ALI community, yet I have never seen a young woman defend an older infertile woman when the barbs fly in the media. I may not know how it feels to be told in your 20's or 30's that you’re infertile, and you may not know how it feels to long for a child as long as I did, but we all know infertility sucks balls.
Can't we support each other, regardless of our stories?
For more info about infertility and National Infertility Awareness Week, check out these links from RESOLVE:

Thursday, April 4, 2013

The Sound of Hope Book Tour

Even thought I haven't really had the time to post, I signed up for this book tour hosted by Lori. I'm relieved to read that other participants had time constraints as well, but I'm glad I signed on for this. Turns out I have lots of opinions and feelings about the subject. The book, The Sound of Hope: A True Story of an Adoptee's Quest for her Origins by Ann Bauer, is her account of growing up during the closed adoption era, and her search for her first parents. I am not part of an adoption triad. I am not an adoptee, a first mother, or an adoptive parent, but I have read quite a bit from those with firsthand experience with adoption. I am the mother of a child through an open embryo donation. Even though the situation is very different, there are lessons to be learned. Of course, I have also read and listened to what donor conceived people feel about their origins and secrecy, but adoption has a longer history and is much more widespread, so the adoption community where I often look for inspiration to help my daughter navigate her feelings about her origins.

Now for my answers to questions posed by other bloggers. (Admission: I just didn't have time to come up with any questions to add to the mix, but I love the thoughtful questions everyone came up with.)

1. There are many instances in which the people around Anne do not acknowledge her feelings about her adoption status. These instances range from her parents, especially her mother, her fiancee, her fiancee's parents, and even her birth mother.  Do you think these instances occurred because of the general outlook on adoption at the time, and do you think that this outlook has improved over time?

I do think it had to do with the outlook at the time. I think it's changed somewhat, but there's still a ways to go. I think this also relates to a question in the other set of questions about the way adoptions were matched based on physical similarity. This is very common with egg donation today. It's not even questioned. In my opinion, this opens the door to the possibility of secrecy. And secrecy is never in the best interests of the child. Secrecy is never about the child's feelings.

I had a hard time with the sections of the book where the people around Anne discounted or minimized her feelings. I grew up with a mother who felt she knew how I should feel about things, and would tell me I was wrong, and I should not feel the way I did. It hurt. It still hurts. (She still does it now and then.) Anne, I'm sorry you had to deal with that. I applaud you for standing up to them all and demanding that your feelings be respected. Because of my experiences, and maybe just because I'm a different kind of person, respecting and honoring Sunshine's feelings has always been a high priority.

2. A variety of words are used to describe family in this book: mother, father, adoptive mother, adoptive father, biological relative, original family, first mother, birth mother, and even bionic mother (her Dad's word). Did you notice this word choice, and if so, what impact did it have on your reading?

Yes, I noticed the word choice. I tend to notice word choice regarding family in general. I thought "bionic mother" reflected her father's mixed feelings about her search. I've chosen to refer to Sunshine's donor siblings as simply her brother and sister, as this seems to be the preferred language among donor siblings. A few months ago I was talking with one of my neighborhood mom friends. We were talking about Sunshine's origins, and about another mom and the son their family adopted. Then the discussion moved on to red hair, and how since it is recessive it needs to be on both sides genetically. She mentioned a friend who has a reheaded child even though neither parent has red hair. She then said, "And I know they're the real parents." I took a deep breath and said that I know she didn't mean it that way, but it would be more appropriate to have said, "I know they're the genetic parents." I reminded her that I am Sunshine's REAL mother and that our friend who is an adoptive parent is her son's REAL mother. She was horribly embarrassed, but I told her it was better that she made the error with me, and I was sure she wouldn't make that mistake again. Words matter. A lot. 

3. In the Afterword, Anne says "If children are to be told they're adopted, then society needs to embrace the full consequences of the truth." Does this statement subtly give "society" a pass, suggesting that perhaps children should not be told? What do you make of her assertion that "when children are kept in the dark regarding their origins, nobody wins."? What about her brothers, who never searched for their own origins? Is this "uncuriosity" normal? Acceptable? Preferable?

"Does this statement subtly give "society" a pass, suggesting that perhaps children should not be told?" I hope not. I'm curious to hear Anne's response to that, since she's the only one who can say what she meant when she wrote that.

"What do you make of her assertion that "when children are kept in the dark regarding their origins, nobody wins."?" I agree. Secrets keep us apart. Love and honesty bind us together. 

"What about her brothers, who never searched for their own origins? Is this "uncuriosity" normal? Acceptable? Preferrable?" It does seem, anecdotally, that boys/men seem less compelled to search. Normal? What's normal? Acceptable? Of course. if one is to respect curiosity, one needs to also respect "uncuriosity". Preferable? My gut response is no. Just looking at Anne's family, her brothers' "uncuriosity" appears steeped in guilt, anger, and resentment. No, that's not preferable.

I'm glad I read the book and pushed myself to find the time to put my thoughts together. This post is one I'd be happy to have my daughter read someday and discuss together. I'm going to try to find the time to comment on the other thoughtful posts.

To continue to the next leg of this book tour, please visit the main list at LavenderLuz.com.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hilarity and Advice Request

My child is truly hilarious. At the ripe age of 3, she has comic timing down. Her delivery can be deadpan. And not because she doesn’t realize she’s saying something funny. She knows she’s being funny, she LOVES making me laugh, and can deliver it without cracking up. For instance, the other night we were cuddling at bedtime, and out of the blue she says, “Mommy, take off my fingers.”


“Take off my fingers,” she repeated emphatically.

“But how will you do things,” I asked. “How will you eat?”

“With a fork.” Not missing a beat.

“How will you hold your fork?”

She tossed the covers off her legs, stuck her feet in the air, and declared, “With my feet.”

“How will you play with your toys?”

“With my feet.”

“Okay. So, every time you want to eat or play or do anything, you’ll have to take off your shoes and socks?”


See? Hilarious!

 On the other hand, she is a normal three year old, and the latest phase of meltdowns and tantrums are a bitch. It’s suddenly hard to go into stores with her, as she wants whatever catches her eye. She tells me “You MEAN and you WRONG!” if she doesn’t get her way. Not fun. Yet, I’m not having as hard a time with it as the tantrum phase that hit just before she turned two. I’m more confident about handling it. I’m not embarrassed by her meltdowns. She recently had one at our local Wa1greens, where they know her, because I wouldn’t buy her a plastic shovel she wanted. There were four employees by the register as she flung herself to the floor, screaming and crying. They know her by name. “Sunshine, cut it out and listen to your mommy!” The village is everywhere.

Now for the advice request. One of our cats will be leaving us in the near future. Our Woohoo (formerly known as Wilson) has a tumor in the sinus area on one side. His nose is almost completely blocked on that side and he’s got a constant sinus infection, despite being on antibiotics for a month and a half solid. It’s just not an operable area on a kitty. Thankfully, he’s still eating, drinking, and hanging out for cuddles. He’s definitely not his usual self, but he’s not miserable enough to make the call to euthanize yet. I’m looking for books to help Sunshine prepare for and deal with his death. I’m looking for suggestions for books that deal with it in a secular way. I bought her this book when she started asking questions about death recently. I like it, but I want something that will be specifically about losing a pet, but without discussing heaven or religion. I bought this book, and although I like the way it handles the question of belief systems, I don’t think she’s old enough to understand the concepts. I’ve started to prepare her a bit by saying that I don’t think Woohoo is going to get better. That we have to take good care of him, give him his medicine and wipe his drippy nose, and just be extra gentle and loving. This REALLY sucks. Anyway, suggestions would be appreciated.

Sunshine and Woohoo napping together (OMG!) two years ago

Thursday, February 14, 2013

With Love From Our Little Family

Much to say, no time. But here's our Valentine. Mwah!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Dark Thoughts & Avoidance

It feels wrong to finish my overdue third birthday post without saying something about the Connecticut school shooting. I have for the most part avoided news stories and blog posts. But a few bloggers have addressed it better than I can.

I really related to this from Mel in a post that was only partly about Sandy Hook:

"I’ve been trying not to think about the event itself, looking at the coverage out of the corner of my eye.  Do you know that is a preemie survival technique?  Their brains become so overwhelmed from stimulation that they cope by looking at things out of the corner of their eye instead of head-on.  So I am looking at the events at Sandy Hook out of the corner of my eye, trying to distract myself."

Maybe it’s because I was a preemie, but more likely because as Mel’s husband Josh said, "sending our children to school has always been an act of faith." Every day I send my precious daughter out into the world while I go to work. She is in the care of teachers who love her, as were the children of Newtown. As she grows older, I will have to allow her more and more freedom in the world. In order to manage fears that could easily explode out of control, I sometimes need to put my blinders on. 
I also found myself agreeing with this post I came across and this post of Jen’s that Mel listed in a Roundup.

As for how to prevent/minimize these types of horrific crimes, this post made a lot of sense to me, even though I think some of the ideas are unrealistic. If even some of them were implemented, the world would be somewhat safer. And, really, that's the best we can do.