Parents – A Poem

Today my 3 year old said “I don’t like you!” for the first time.  It was pretty funny…there was such angst-ridden passion in her voice, her face pinched into a sincere little scowl.  She followed it up ten seconds later with “Mom what’s for breakfast?” in her normal sing-songy voice, the fleeting emotions of a three-year old restored to normal order.  It reminded me of a poem I wrote when I was ten years old for my parents; I left it for them as I stewed over whatever injustice they had meted out on me – probably forcing me to eat my dinner or turn off the TV.  The only memory I have of writing the poem was this: as annoying as my parents were, they still were the link between me and dinner.

Parents (1986)

Parents are rude, and mean sometimes,
They’re unfair, almost not caring for a soul,
Except, for themselves.
Parents are guardians, wow! Big Deal!
They think they can bounce you like a ball,
In a pinball machine.
Not me! No sir-ree
They can rant and rave all they want,
But they will never control me inside,
They will never try to make me think their way.
Because parents are older bullies,
That will always be there,
Be there in rough times,
Be there in fun times,
Always bossy, and always mean.
I hate big bullies!
Parents maybe.
But I still like them, because they
take care of me.

The Best Gift on Mother’s Day

What’s the best gift on Mother’s Day?  Every mom may have a different answer to this, but here’s mine: healthy children.  Not just my own, but as many healthy children all around the world that we, as a giving, loving, society can afford.

Six hours after my first child was born, one of the maternity ward nurses woke my husband and me in the middle of the night.   My husband was asleep on a daybed under the window and I was resting fitfully.  Our exhilaration at being new parents was tempered by bone-deep exhaustion from the afternoon’s events; my water had broken unexpectedly at home so we rushed to the hospital forty minutes away where I had an emergency C-section.

Hours later, the nurse was in our room.  “We want to send your baby up to the NICU.”

“What’s wrong?”  we asked, frozen with fear.

“Your daughter had an apnea episode.  She didn’t breathe for about twenty seconds and her lips turned blue. We could take a chance and see if she improves, but we’d rather send her upstairs and ensure she is more closely monitored.”

We had to wait an hour before we could visit her in the NICU.  We were buzzed in and passed babies inside incubators, babies with tubes inserted into their abdomens, babies who looked as if they weighed just two or three pounds.  At the end of the hall, we found our daughter wrapped in a receiving blanket under heat lamps and sucking on a green pacifier, her nickel-sized palm wrapped in a heartbeat monitor strap while machines above her beeped and flashed with mechanical precision.  I immediately burst into tears; the site of our tiny six-pound baby hooked up to medical equipment was jarring.  As a parent, it is absolutely awful to feel so out of control.  We spent the next three days in the NICU as doctors monitored her breathing to ensure her oxygen levels were normal.  In the end she was cleared to leave the hospital on time; we considered ourselves extremely fortunate, particularly after passing the other babies who remained hooked to ventilators and feeding tubes.  Our daughter is now a thriving three year old.  What she experienced as a newborn was frightening beyond measure, but we were fortunate, extremely fortunate, to have health insurance and access to quality healthcare.  As a mother, I do not for one second take my children’s health for granted.

It is because of this experience that I passionately support a new organization called Kangu.  Kangu is meant to evoke the Kangaroo, an animal whose young are carried safely, protectively, in the mother’s pouch.  Kangu uses “crowdfunding,” a type of giving that enables individuals to easily co-fund a cause they believe in.  Kangu’s cause is healthcare for mothers who might otherwise not be able to afford it.  Kangu mamas are currently living in places like Nepal, India, and Uganda.  I recently helped fund healthcare services for a mom named Fathima in Hyderabad, India; it was the best investment I’ve made all year. Kangu’s mission is a beautiful, empowering concept; small contributions, when pooled together, can yield disproportionately huge benefits for moms in real need.  A few dollars to you and me can be life-changing for a child gulping in his first breath of air.

So, what’s the best gift on Mother’s Day?  Flowers are beautiful, but their colors eventually fade.  Chocolates are delicious, but in the end you’re left with crinkled wrappers and a healthy dose of Monday morning guilt.  But a donation to Kangu?  That is a gift that will benefit a child in need for many, many years to come.   And on Mother’s Day, that is the best gift any mom could ask for.

To learn more about Kangu, please visit www.kangu.org.

Office Man

Hey, you.  Yeah you, Office Man.  With your chic Prada glasses, your fancy striped tie from Barney’s, your slim black brief case. Cheeks flushed, catching your breath as the PATH doors close behind you.  Wondering why the train smells like poop, then glancing down at my stroller.  I see those glances while you pretend to itch your nose.  Yes, that small pile of dust next to your shoes are Cheerios, Office Man.  I’m soooo sorry that I defiled this God-awful PATH car with my toddler litter.  I’m sorry I brought an open cup of Cheerios on the train, but you try leaving the apartment with toddlers screaming for cake. Don’t judge me, man.

I know it’s rush hour.  I know this stroller is huge.  I get it.  Toddlers and commuters on a cramped train don’t mix.  Yeah, I get it.  You’re soooo busy.  You have your gym appointment to rush home to, your happy hour with college friends, your Thai take-out in front of Breaking Bad.  I know you’re tired.  You slogged into the city, passed by construction equipment that buzzed and hacked and drummed holes into concrete and cement, hiked escalator steps, rushed through turnstiles, pushed past slow tourists who annoyed the piss out of you.  I did that grind for years, Office Man.  But you know what?  You can do all that crap in peace in quiet.  You can tune out to Maroon 5 or Jay-Z or whatever it is you listen to, Office Man.  

I’m soooo sorry my kids are screaming “Thomas!” like banshees.  Yes, I know they’re loud, Office Man. I listen to it. All. Day. Long.  Do not start with me.  Do not-

“Huh?”

Is Office man talking to me?  

“I’m sorry, what was that?  Sorry, I was lost in thought.  Oh!  Yes, I’m getting off at the next stop.  Yes, thank you so much, I’d love some help with my stroller! Thank you so much!” 

“Oh, you have two kids too?  Oh, gosh, please don’t strain yourself, this stroller is so heavy.  Yes, it’s big, and so heavy!  Oh, you have the same stroller?  Your two kids are only eleven months apart?  You’re on your way to pick them up in daycare?  Omigod!  You must be so busy!”

“Yes, you have a nice night too!  Thank you!”

Wow, I’m a real bitch sometimes.