Friday, August 26, 2011

Unusual Occurrences

**How 'bout that quake??**

So, there was this earthquake on the east coast this week. What, you didn't hear?

Growing up in the Golden State, I experienced my fair share of earthquakes. I attended the make up World Series Game after The 1989 Quake, watched our piano nearly topple over from what looked like a giant worm rolling through our floor, and worried about the next 'big one'.

So when the earth started shaking while the kids and I were in the parking lot outside Trader Joe's this week, it's not like I didn't know what was happening.

And I didn't panic--it was pretty clear from where I was standing that it wasn't doing major damage in our vicinity and that we were away from falling objects.

But it was still eerie in a way that this popular picture doesn't convey:

It left us feeling vulnerable.

**And a little out of sorts.**

We all quantify what risks are likely to strike a certain area, and prepare accordingly. California reinforces all of its foundations. We don't. Of course nothing is certain, but I think it helps us feel safer when we compartmentalize risks like natural disasters.

So even though there was no great damage from the earthquake, it brought up the possibility that we may need to be prepared for risks unforeseen.

**Having kids opens up new vistas of vulnerability, you know?**

That coupled with a crazy hurricane watch, and the mood back here is downright strange.

Hopefully our neighborhood's main issues will be power outages, but I still worry about the areas likely to get hit harder. Places that are close to my heart. I'm watching the storm approach Hatteras Island, and hoping and praying that those beaches I adore will weather the storm okay.

**Oh, I love those beaches.**

But you know what? All the weirdness in the air, notwithstanding, I'm not dwelling on it.

I'm secure in the fact that we've done the best we can: we're stocked up on water, non-perishable food, and batteries/flashlights. We've trimmed the obviously dangerous branches from our trees. We've tried to protect areas of possible flooding.

**If the power goes out, we might be playing a lot of tic-tac-toe. You'll notice that Tiny always wins. She says I'm only allowed to play outside squares, and I can't block her. Interesting.**

And today? Well the sun is shining and the temperature is lovely.

We can't control a darn thing about what the storm decides to do this weekend, so instead we'll focus on what we can control: enjoying this beautiful day.

Have a safe and dry weekend!

**Having a hand to hold makes anything better.**

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Second Time Around


Tonight I walked in the door from work, and Drummer's grin was the first thing that greeted me.

"Hi mama!" he exclaimed. I picked him up. "Out!" he cried, pointing at the door I'd just come through. He's always trying to make a jailbreak.

I looked at my son and thought: are we here already? Where he can express to me basic requests and wants?

With Tiny, I spent time reviewing lists of milestones, and anticipating them. Each one was met with delighted joy and wonder.

**Didn't I tell you? Tiny's driving.**

With Drummer, there is just as much joy. But there is surprised wonder instead of just wonder. "Huh? You're crawling/walking/kicking a ball/talking/playing hide and seek?" With each milestone, there will be this moment where I think he must be wonderboy. Until I remember that, no, it's totally age appropriate, and I've just been snuck up on by the march of time again.

**"What? What'd I do?"**

Does this get worse with child 3 or 4? I can only imagine.

I think I'll go get some rest, for fear that I'll wake up and discover that he's been submitting college applications behind my back. Gnite all.

**This one's starting preschool soon, and I'm much too sentimental about it.**

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Impermanence of Childhood


I always give out the same advice at every baby shower: remember that nothing is permanent in childrearing. It is a warning and a reassurance.

There will be times, for example, when your kid might suddenly stop sleeping through the night, and and after 5 nights of this, it feels like it will be a permanent condition. But you have to remind yourself that nothing with children is ever permanent. Their biting phases, their dietary aversions, their sleep patterns. It all changes, most of it as fast as you can keep up with it. And when the going gets rough with a particular child, it's lifesaving to remember that.

There will also be times when your kid is doing something particularly adorable--a new face, a cute wave at strangers, a new game--and you love it and take for granted that they'll keep doing it. Which means you might forget to take a picture or write it down. But then it's gone and they are on to the next trick. And you'll wish you had those moments back.

I think about both of those things regularly.

Something about the above photo of Tiny reminds me of the first part--of the fact that it all rushes by so fast. I look at her swaying in the wind, and I mourn the impermanence of childhood. I don't want time to mature this little girl who hula dances on the beach with wild abandon, while belting out nonsensical lyrics.

It's such a dance: taking comfort in the passage of time, but making sure we pay attention to the goodness as it goes.

I think in general, I want a more generous helping of the second.

So this weekend, while I'll remind myself that Drummer's desire to throw everything down the stairs won't last, I'll also remind myself that neither will his joy in a simple game of hide and seek. While I'll remind myself that someday Tiny's desire to change her outfit 5 time/day will fade, I'll also remind myself that so will her hilarious takes on bible stories.

And mostly, I'll just be so happy that they're mine. Forever.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Dress Down Monday

**Speaking of dress codes, don't be fooled by her get-up. It's still 90+ degrees here.**

Every week or so, I spend an afternoon acting as a consult doctor for our residents. That means instead of seeing my own patients, I am on call for resident questions. I usually help them choose the right medicines, look at rashes or x-rays, and help them sort through complicated symptoms. It’s something I relish. It keeps me on my toes and it’s fun to interact with the residents. Plus? No charts to finish at the end of the afternoon. ☺

**First Professional Haircut. She ate it up.**

I don’t usually wear my white coat while I’m consulting since most of the work is done outside of patient rooms. Sometimes I’ll throw it on as a protective layer if I’m going in to a particularly contagious room. So, on Monday I wasn’t wearing my white coat while on consult. I was wearing a silky cotton button-down black blouse, bootcut white cords, and black heels. Which is relevant to the story, I promise.

After consulting with one resident, I was walking across the lobby back to my office. I heard someone say behind me, “So, is it dress down Monday?” I stopped and turned around. One of my patients, a male in his 50’s, was standing there waiting for a response. I must’ve looked confused, because he repeated his question. I looked down at my outfit, and said, “I’m consulting for the residents.”

**Now maybe if I was sporting this do, courtesy of Tiny's salon, I could understand his concern.**

“Oh, okay. Well, I just got my bloodwork done. I’ll see you on Monday!” He got on the elevator and left.

The encounter left me fairly confused. One of our nurses who overheard the exchange said, ‘He’s crazy! You look really nice!’ I mean, what is dressed down about 3 inch black heels?

**Did you know we can't show our toes at work? There's a closed toe policy.**

Based on his comment, he either thinks I should always be wearing a skirt or black slacks, or he was noting the fact that I wasn’t wearing my white coat. And that got me thinking.

Dear Blog Readers, do you expect your doctor to always wear a white coat in an outpatient setting?

**Daddy/Daughter reading time.**

Because, here’s the thing: I’m one of the only attending docs in our office who wears a white coat on a regular basis. We have name tags we wear if we don’t wear a coat. Most of the doctors just don’t like the extra layer. I’ve mainly worn it out of habit, for the pockets to keep my cards and stethoscope in, and to shield my clothes from the general germiness of my job. But I don’t always.

**I try to keep from bringing home germs to my blue eyed beauty.**

Maybe it’s just a matter of expectations. Since he usually sees me in my coat, I look casual to him without it. Or maybe it underscores the fact that women’s professional wear is a more complicated matter than the shirts and ties my male colleagues wear.

I’m curious to hear your thoughts and if you feel strongly about the white coat.

Happy Weekend!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Will Walk For Sanity

**If he's walking and he's outside, Drummer is in his happy place.**

There is a reason why that hour before dinner is called ‘the witching hour’. It seems a universally held truth that life gets crazier when the sun gets low in the sky. Whether it be dwindling maternal endurance, or true kiddo craziness, it’s always tricky to navigate.

Today the kids took later naps, so they were waking up around 4:30. Tiny only woke up halfway, and I find her hardest to manage when she’s still partially in a dreamscape. Drummer woke up saying, “Go. Go, go, go, go go!” 'Go' was one of his first words. Maybe this tells you something about him.

**On the Go**

I knew it was time to be thinking about dinner. But I evaluated what it would do to my sanity to listen to Drummer clamor to ‘go!’ and to Tiny intermittently whine in her efforts to fully wake up while I cooked. Oh, it so wasn’t happening.

**This is the face you get when you try to tell him not to 'go'.**

Instead, I went to my Dad’s go-to solution for everything:


My dad believes in walking like a poet in his muse.

Feeling tired? A walk should wake you right up. Feeling stressed? Go get some fresh air! Need some time to think? Go take a lap!

Truly, he’s instilled in me that walking is a cure-all.

**I miss walks on the beach.**

Tiny protested that she wanted to stay inside and color, but I would not be moved. I told her she could take two books and a mini tootsie-roll on our journey, and she changed her mind.

I loaded them up in my beloved double stroller (the Britax B-ready) and off we went. I didn’t know where we were going until Tiny inquired if we could walk to get her haircut (an unfinished errand from earlier today. I trimmed her hair last week, but it needed some finishing work from a professional). The hair salon was further than I’d planned on walking, but what the heck? I thrive on spontaneity.

“Sure. Let’s go get your haircut.”

**We all needed a little wind in our sails.**

I pushed the stroller and let the heaviness of the 90 degree day settle on my shoulders. It was an agreeable weight. I walked and pushed, struggling up the steeper hills, but loving the movement, the rhythm, and the sweat on my forehead. Drummer happily watched the world go by. Tiny lost herself in her books and her imagination. It played to all of our needs.

We pushed ourselves right up to the hair salon and right on through the witching hour. Rockstar met us at the hair salon after work, and then we decided to grab dinner at a place next door.

**If only I'd the energy to take them on the type of wild ride Uncle B can provide.**

Instead of feeling frazzled, I felt refreshed.

Which confirmed to me that sometimes it’s okay to let ourselves step outside of our routine if it means preserving our sanity.

That cooking is good, but sometimes a 5:00 outing is better.

That walking is pretty much always a good idea.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

On Working Ourselves Out of a Job

**Tiny was disappointed when after loading up the car to go in the morning, we learned we'd have to wait until the evening to attend a pirate adventure program at the beach. But she worked it out, and was super excited when the time actually came to go get all 'pirated' up.**

During my Junior year of college, I spent a lot of time preparing to take the MCAT (the dreaded medical school admissions test). It felt like torture to finish my regular coursework, then spend my free time attending review courses. Every Saturday was spent taking 8 hour practice tests. Every evening was filled with practice questions. So when I finished the test in the spring, I don't think I'd ever been quite so glad to see something come to an end. I had nightmares about it for months afterward.

**Learning pirate language and hearing about new pirate threats to have nightmares about.**

And then 4 weeks after the exam, I got my score. It was a good score. It would've probably gotten me into the same medical schools I ended up getting into. But you know what? It didn't match my high expectations for myself, and I was devastated. Devastated. It felt like all my work had been in vain, because surely if I didn't get the score I had hoped for, nothing was going to work out after all.

**Pinky promising to keep the pirate code.**

I called my mother, sobbing in the 'my world has just come to a screeching halt' sort of way. I'd been supposed to stay up at school for the summer, but I remember sobbing over and over, "I just want to come home. I want to come home!" I couldn't face it--the possibility of retaking this exam. I just wanted sit with my mom on our couch in CA and have her tell me it was going to be fine, and that she'd take care of me while I got through this rough patch. But you know what? That's not what she did.

**I'd have liked a water cannon at the time to take my frustration out on the world.**

"You can't come home, sweetie. Do you think you need to retake the test?"

"Probably. But Mom, I just can't do it. I want to come home!" More tears.

"Well, you can't come home. You need to stay up there and figure out how to deal with the next step in this situation."

**Not that we don't ever need a helping hand. Uncle B lends Tiny his cannon expertise.**

My mom is totally loving, but she does not coddle. It's not like I'd actually expected her to let me come home. She'd always expected me to push forward and come up with solutions. She knew I was capable. So you know what I did? I dried my tears, picked myself up, and registered for the exam again. I stayed up at school and I studied. Luckily, one of my brilliant best friends was going through the exact same thing, and had also decided to retake it. So, we studied together. And I learned more about persisting in things that are uncomfortable, but are necessary.

**Pirate Pete got a little taste of uncomfortable when the water cannons knocked him off his raft and into the ocean.**

At the end of those two months, when I'd persevered in doing something that felt akin to torture, I flew home to Cali to take the actual exam. Again.

The relief I felt when my dad picked me up from UC Berkeley at the end of that day was immense.

**Her smile gives it away: it was worth the wait.**

And what's more: The joy I felt when I got my rockin' second score in the mail? Now that's a feeling that can only be earned through blood, sweat and tears.

**Like finding the treasure at the end of a pirate adventure.**

My mom used to say that she knew her role as a mother was to 'work herself out of a job'. Meaning, if she was doing things right, she was preparing us to be able to live life without her. I take care of a lot of parent/kid duos in my practice, and I see less and less of this. I see parents as involved in managing their 20-something year old's life as they probably were when the kid was 14.

Something is wrong with this, and this article I saw on CJane helped me to understand what.

"How to Land Your Kid in Therapy."

My parents let me experience disappointment, helped me discover my own problem solving skills, and encouraged me to keep at something even when it was hard. Reading this article made me so grateful for that all over again. And made me hope that I can accomplish that with my kiddos.

It will be tempting to want to rescue our kids when they run up against the disappointments and unpleasantries of life, and come to us sobbing. But I hope I can be strong and rescue them the way my mom did: by letting them rescue themselves.