Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Valentines Day from Room 151

Room 151 at Women's Hospital.  That was my home for the last week and a half.  With a large imposing sign on the door that read "Contact Precautions" in large letters with gowns and masks and gloves conveniently hanging on it, it might as well have read "Caution, leprosy ahead. Avoid if possible."  Not the sexiest way to spend my favorite of holidays, hooked to monitors and IV poles and  leg squeezers, I spent most of the afternoon getting back-to-back 1 hour antibiotic retention enemas.  I just didn't, and honestly couldn't, appreciate the balloons and flowers and cards from my sweet husband and mother and children, nor could I enjoy the very kind steak dinner for two  personally delivered by the hospital chef that evening.

I know most people could do without Valentine's Day, with the biggest argument by non-believers being that "every day should be a day to show love."  Well, one could say the same about Independence Day or Thanksgiving. We should be patriotic and thankful for our freedom every day, shooting fireworks and eating ferocious amounts of sweet potato pie with family all the time. We should reveal in the spirit of Christmas and honor our veterans and celebrate trees and secretaries constantly. But it just isn't realistic to be grateful and perky and romantic and nationalistic all the time.  That's why holidays exist. To provide contrast points to the daily happenings of work and laundry and chores.  To help us appreciate the Kairos amongst all the Chronos.

Valentines Day is no different than all the rest, except in my opinion, it is arguably the best.  There are no rules for it.  No specific menus that need be prepared, no extended house guest obligations, no fuss over remembering to gift to every single person you come in contact with.  The only purpose of the entire day is to show love and be grateful for that which comes back to you. It has been commercialized with flowers and candies and chocolates, which are just Hallmarks way of making it easier for us, but it doesn't have to be that at all to be perfect.

It has been my favorite holiday for as long as I can remember because of my parents.  My mother always helped me make personalized gifts for my friends.  My favorite was the year of the Squeezums. I was so proud to pass them out to all my friends after spending nights with my mother making and filling each one.  My father never ever forgot Valentines Day, either.  There was always a basket or stuffed animal or flowers hidden somewhere for me to find. So, I learned very early it not just about that one special person but rather all the special persons that depend and reflect your love.  Doing the thing that speaks directly to the heart of someone, be it gifts or quality time or words, is what the day is all about.

So, obviously, I am rather bummed I missed this year. Not because my family and friends didn't show me their love, far from it.  I was showered, and am still being showered, with more kindness and adoration than I know how to accept.  It is more that I missed out on showing it to them. I know I could declare Feb 22nd as make-up Valentines but it just isn't the same.  Just like moving Christmas morning, there is power in the collective recognition of a single day.  And, frankly, my body is still reeling from the 10 days of being surrounded by the space-suited government workers in the ET movie and isn't quite up to celebrating just yet.

So, dear friends and family, please accept my apologies this year.  I hope you had a wonderful, love-filled day and I promise to make an epic comeback next year.

Much love and affection.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Our Dear Caroline

I just don't know what to make of our daughter. There are moments - like when she grabs my ears in both hands, grins a foolish chubby grin, and lays a toothy kiss on my cheek like she is part-lamprey - that just warm my heart. Honestly, even though these kisses last an uncomfortable 30-45 seconds in duration, you just can't help but smile at her eagerness. Walk in to school at the end of the day, and she will drop what she is doing, break into Da-da da-da da-da song and hurtle across the room - until she gets about 3 feet away, when she suddenly and inexplicable does an about face and goes to put her toys up. It is kind of infuriating.

We call her The Honey Badger, because really, she just doesn't give a shit. I promise, we say that with only with the finest parental pride and love, and some measure of admiration mixed with exasperation. Everyone looks at us with a "do you hate your daughter?" expression. Even Bud and Nana, who I am sure experienced her wrath during a recent 5 day stint in Juvie (i.e. Camp Sparty) are still begrudgingly in denial of her mean side.

Take tonight, for instance. After throwing a series of fits at the dinner table, she took the long walk for a short sit in timeout. I went back to check on her and found her reading to herself, the "Peek A Boo" book. One page has a mirror (Peek a You!) and you can see her look at herself in that. Another page has a cow (Peek a Moo!) and she lets out a low Mooooo. And the train page (you guessed it - Peek a Choo Choo!). Here, she mimics her brother's spot on copy of the Polar Express' "All Aboard!. Priceless. And then, the Honey Badger spies her tormenter....