Release

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Last night, I did something that I haven't done in over 10 years. I went out with a group of 10 girlfriends.

This is amazing to me for a few reasons. In the 10 years that I've been in New York, I have been consistently occupied with getting settled into a new job, a new relationship (which eventually became a new marriage), followed by adjusting to life with 1 then quickly 2 kids. You read the blog. You know that I don't sleep as it is, so when on Earth am I going to have time to make friends? And if I ever do get around to making friends, when exactly - in between working and cleaning and organizing and reading and feeding and bathing and wash, rinse, repeating - am I ever going to have time to actually go out with them?

And then I met Maria. Maria has become an AMAZING friend. Not only because she's just AWESOME, but because she gets me. The many sides of me. The work me, who has to contend with an often enjoyable but always challenging corporate culture (we work at the same company). The mom me who has 2 kids born 2 years apart, commutes in from the suburbs and juggles the previously mentioned job and 2 kids (she lives in the next town over and her kids are each 6 months younger than my boys). The formerly-fabulous me who looks at the one side of my life ("glamorous" company, high powered position, big money deals, impressive-enough title) then looks at the vomit on my Pradas on an every-other-weekly basis and wonders what the hell happened (often aloud, as a non-sequiter, in public places). Long story short, Maria not only became my first true girlfriend in the 10 years since I've moved to New York, but she has in many ways become my saving grace (love you, honey!)

So, back to last night. Maria invited me to tag along to a dinner amongst her closest girlfriends from college. After hemming and hawing over whether I actually would go (I already left the hubs alone with the boys 2 nights this week - working, mind you, but still feeling mommy guilt), I threw on my best I-can-still-be-cute-if-I-try ensemble and jumped on the 6:41 into Penn Station.

This may have been one of the best decisions of my life.

Not only was the restaurant amazing (there was gourmet pizza that was quoted as being "better than sex," bubbly, cosmos, red wine, freshly made pasta, dessert with Nutella!), but this group of women was truly awe-inspiring.

First of all, everyone was GORGEOUS. Seriously....I would have HATED to have been on first date in that restaurant ("Why do you keep staring over there? What, is she prettier than me? Which one?) But, more importantly, everyone at the table was truly phenomenal. These women were judges, public officials, entrepreneurs, mothers - and overall just really f-ing cool.

And yet, with all of the accomplishment in our academic and professional lives to date, once the kids came along we were all in the same boat. And that would be the one up a famous creek. Without a paddle.

All night, we recounted stories of temper tantrums and constant screaming (by the kids and at the kids). Sleep deprivation and self doubt. Cleaning floors at 1 in the morning and taking meetings by 8am.

What the hell kind of job is motherhood when these women - TRULY phenomenal women - are literally brought to their knees by the sheer weight of it?

Then, it hit me. This is why God gave us the gift of girlfriends. A source of comfort and silliness and pure joy. A safe zone to say how you really feel and cry and laugh and scream and fret. To give love and feel loved in return, with all of your faults and with no expectations or responsibility other than to be there for each other when the call comes. To drink and eat and talk over each other so loudly that the people at surrounding tables wonder what the hell is going on over there.

And you don't care what they think.

Because you're with your girls.

I thank God for Maria and for giving me back the gift of girls night. My dearest Lan introduced me to the power of Girly Girl nights back in B-School. Ten+ years later I am all the richer for it, but up until last night in dire need of reclaiming its refuge.

We all need a night out with our girls. To forget the bottles and diapers and time outs and tantrums and just let go. To drop the mask of the superwoman, mommy dearest, mega star Martha Stewart and just have a damned drink.

Or seven....

So, to my newly-adopted Hofstra crew. Thank you for welcoming me into your sisterhood. Our dinner renewed my spirit, expanded my waistline, and gave me a hangover that I will not soon forget (especially after the daily 5am wake up call from Hurricane Victor, shortly followed by round 2 from the Whining Terror).

I can't wait until the next time! Please...let it come quickly :)

Wisdom

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Today, I celebrated another birthday.

It wasn't a big one. Didn't end in a 5 or a 0, so there were no Hallmark cards or pre-packaged birthday decorations to mark the occasion. But it was a big one for me, because for the first time in a LONG time I actually used my birthday to take a good look at my life.

And for the first time in a long time, I like what I see.

- I haven't lost those last 5 pesky baby pounds - but I feel stronger than I have in my entire life.
- My children aren't perfect little angels - but I love them perfectly.
- I have not entered the C-suite or started my own business, but I have a rewarding career that provides generously for my family and allows me the flexibility to actually spend time with them on a more-than-regular basis.
- While my husband and I may not paw at each other like love-sick teenagers anymore, we have a bond that survived pre-eclampsia, 35 days in the NICU, a breast cancer scare and ensuing surgery, sickle cell diagnosis and ensuing hospitalizations. He is my rock and beneath the dark circles and sleepless nights (from crying babies rather than romantic interludes), a passion still smolders - hot enough to last an eternity.

I am a good mother. A good friend. Good daughter. Good sister. Good wife. Good leader. Good person.

Definitely not perfect - and maybe not the best - but I'm good at what I do, and happy with who I am.

As I look back over the past year, I realize that God is using my children to ground me. Pull me out of the insanity of perfectionism to realize that life is made to be lived and truly enjoyed. It's not about being organized or being right, but being loved. Being happy. Taking advantage of all the blessings you've been given and enjoying the journey as much as the destination.

This year, I hope to do more and plan less. Feel more and worry less. Love more and fret less. Laugh more and cry less. Do more of what I want and less of what I should. Play more and clean up less. Be more and do less.

I am another year older. Feeling a bit wiser. And ready for the adventure that lies ahead.

Reality

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So, we leave the hospital on Sunday and, in addition to a little parting gift in the form of a wicked sore throat, I left with what I thought was a dose of perspective. My kids may drive me crazy, but they are everything to me. After seeing my baby in pain surely I could put up with the whining and crying and general busy-ness that comes with being a mom with a smile on my face, a song in my heart and patience to rival that of the Dalai Lama.

Yeah right.

The tickle in my throat turned into a burning pain so severe that I couldn't even swallow water much less any food for 48 hours. Victor left the hospital well hydrated and out of pain, but with a nasty case of thrush from the mega-dose of antibiotics they gave him after he spiked a fever on Friday night. Apparently I am the source of the majority of Angel's tantrums because he went from being a perfect little angel for 4 days to hell-on-wheels by Tuesday morning. At bedtime tonight, he duly informed me that, "I don't want you. I want Daddy." So, I went to BJs at 9pm to finish the grocery shopping I didn't get to over the weekend.

It's kind of funny. I keep waiting for this life changing moment when I will suddenly rise up on wings like eagles and become the endlessly-patient-amazingly-thoughtful-tirelessly-giving mother of my dreams. Seeing my baby in pain should have done it, if anything could.

But that's just it. Nothing can.

I may have gone through a number of life-changing experiences, but the will never change who I am.

My life has changed, I have not.

I am not patient. I don't like chaos. I need sleep.

Being a mother is not kind to those lightweights like me.

But, I'm here. I love my kids. And while, some days I would trade them for a stiff drink and a trip to the Bahamas, I never do.

Because I love them.

Maybe more Bad than BadAss, but still Angel and Victor's Mama...

Perspective

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Nothing like a baby in the hospital to put things in perspective.

I complain. A lot. Often, in this very blog.

True, my motivations are good - using the BadAssMama Chronicles as a safe place for moms from all walks of life and philosophical persuasions to drop the Superwoman cape and just get real. But, too often, especially in the last few weeks, I have simply resorted to whining about how hard being a mom is.

I had no idea what "hard" was until 36 hours ago.

I may have mentioned before that Victor has a form of sickle cell known as hemoglobin SC Disease. While most of us have perfectly round red blood cells, Victor has a combination of Crescent moon and football shaped cells. Usually, this isn't a big deal. But occasionally the planets align and these cells can cause something like a traffic jam in his blood vessels. This results in pain wherever the pileup occurs, most often in the hands and feet since they have the smallest blood vessels in the body. This is know as a pain crisis.

Crisis. A word that I've clearly abused over the course of my life.

It all started on Tuesday around 4. I got a call from the day care that Victor didn't want to stand up and was particularly clingy. We'd suspected that he might have had some sickle cell related pain in his feet once before, but it always went away with regular Children's Tylenol. Such was the case Tuesday night. By the time I picked him up from work he was pretty miserable, but perked up an hour after the
Tylenol. Had a great night's sleep and was crazy happy Victor by Wednesday morning.

Thursday morning started great. Happy kids, off to work relatively on time, no sign of trouble brewing. I went into a big exec update meeting
at 10 with plans to dip out a little early to sneak in a little "me" tie before a holiday weekend filled with fun, sun, teething and tantrums.

Then, all hell broke loose.

At 10:45, I see my trusty assistant hovering by the door of the meeting room. She gestures to me to come outside, which I find odd since she usually just comes in to pass me a note. Smart woman...this was a message that needed to be delivered in person. She proceeds to tell me that the day care called. Victor was crying inconsolably and his hands were both noticeably swollen. I. Hesitated for a split second as waves of fear and panic rushed over me. Like a fool, for a moment I considered staying to complete my portion of the meeting just so I could
calm down (not sure what I was thinking, please don't judge me. I truly believe that I was in a state of shock and reverting to the one thing that I thought I could control at that moment).

China instructs me to "calm down" and I snap back to reality and into action. I whispered to my boss that my son was having a medical emergency and excused myself from the meeting (through 10 years of novela-like corporate politics, this woman has
always come through for me when it REALLY counts). I then called the school for a live update, called my husband for his ETA while simultaneously changing my shoes and searching for the next train back home. 7 minutes. If I run at a flat sprint, I can make it to Penn Station in time.

Thank God for marathon training.

What followed was a blur of blood tests, IV medications, EKGs and alcohol prep pads, all to the soundtrack of my baby's gut wrenching screams. Non-stop. For 22 hours straight.

36 hours later, we have finally found a pain protocol that is giving Victor relief. He's asleep for the first time since yesterday at 10am. He's been asleep for a blissful hour and 15 minutes.

The pain is under control, but his fever and blood pressure are both dangerously high. Waiting for EKG results on the blood pressure impact. Waiting 24 hours for results of the blood culture to see if an infection is behind the fever.

But, he's sleeping comfortably and for a moment, I can breathe again.

We will make it through this as a family. My little boy is strong. God will deliver. I believe these things.

I also believe that I will never again look at motherhood with the same perspective.

This is what's real. Right now. The rest are just details.