Rude: A Four Letter Word

I have three children and I’m painfully aware of their behavior at all times: the good, the bad, and the ugly.  I have a face for every moment: a look, a sigh, an exasperation and a few exclamations.  Lately I feel like a soldier alone on the battlefield.  While I’m running for cover, intercepting my children’s barrage of ills, I see other moms and dads detached and disinterested; no beads of sweat, just a cool look of apathy.

What are these parents thinking?  Are they too tired to care, or are they just as rude as their children?  After careful observation, I think the latter.  Most parents these days feel entitled, and then pass that on to their children.  Why should little Janie conform to the rules, if mom and dad don’t?  Little Janie can run around the bookstore like an animal, because her mom lets her, showing total disregard for the people around them.

Mr. Rude by Adam Hargreaves

Mr. Rude by Adam Hargreaves

As if the public display of naughtiness is not enough, have you noticed the way these children are speaking to adults? Call me old fashioned but fresh talk, and back talk, irk the crap out of me.

When an eight year old feels free to question my authority with the tone of a ruler swinging nun, I’m speechless.  I once said to a guest, “Susie, please don’t run on the stairs”, her reply, with attitude, “Why? My mom let’s me run on the stairs at my house!”  There’s something to be said for not talking back to your elders.  It’s at that moment I’d like to respond, “I don’t give a F- what your mom lets you do, this is my house, my rules (you little shit)“, but that’s a bit harsh, so I smile, and in my best ‘Leave It To Beaver’ tone of voice, say “Well Susie, in this house we don’t run on the stairs.”  Five minutes later Susie’s running on my stairs, and I’m ready to stick my foot out, trip her and end the play date early.

Instead I take a deep breath, pray for an early parent pickup and continue to wonder:  Is it me, or are children getting ruder?

Reposted by Jean James courtesy of:

Identity Theft

The other day I was in motor vehicle to renew my drivers license.  And as anyone knows, going to motor vehicle is not much different than a trip to the dentist: it’s a long wait, a painful experience and when you leave you’re left numb and vow never to return.

As I was waiting on line, I couldn’t help but overhear this young girl behind me talking on her cell phone.  She had just gotten married and was there to change her name on her drivers license.  Straight ahead of me, on the wall was a giant poster that read: ‘PROTECT YOURSELF, STOP IDENTITY THEFT BEFORE IT STARTS’.  I had to laugh out loud.  Maybe I should turn around and warn that girl she’s about to participate in the very first form of identity theft: marriage!

Women have been giving up their identity since the first arranged marriage.  Transferred like property, a maiden was sent from her fathers house to her husbands house, the only real value being her dowry and her virginity.  But what’s a maiden left unmarried but an old maid.  It seems women have worked so long and hard for independence and equal rights, only to throw it all away the second they say ‘I do’.

It got me thinking about my own drivers license; who was that girl in the picture looking back at me with the long auburn hair?  The smile was carefree, thin and young, absent of worry lines.  I had changed my name after I got married, and there it was this new name attached to that old face.  It didn’t fit.  Then there was that M next to the D on my license that once represented my Harley riding motorcycle days, now it just stands for Mom.  This was clearly a picture of mistaken identity.  Why hadn’t I changed that picture when I changed my name?  Or really, why had I changed my name?  Like my drivers license, my name was clean; no violations, no points.  I traded it in for someone else’s identity.  Little by little the maiden that was once me was being chipped away; and for the ‘me’ that was drowning, that picture seemed a lifeline to my past.

But was my present state so bad I needed a lifeline to my past?  If I could change it all today would I really go back?  Isn’t a maiden nothing more than a racehorse that has never won a race?  In other words, not much different from an old maid.  I like who I am, my short blonde hair, the furrow between my brow.  And although my smile isn’t as carefree, it is the smile of a woman with three wonderful kids and a great husband.  These are the things I identify with now.  Is identity just a state of mind, or perhaps an evolutionary process?

As I looked closely at my picture, I knew I had evolved.  I wasn’t that girl and she wasn’t me.  I was who I am at this very moment and that was okay.  As I heard the loud call ‘NEXT’, I looked back at the girl behind me, still talking on her cell phone, I quickly scribbled a note on piece of paper and handed it to her.  When the gum chewing clerk was done shuffling through my paperwork, she looked up at me and asked if I wanted a new picture.  I took a deep breath, and decidedly said, “Yes, I think it’s time for a new one.”  It felt good to be caught up to the present, and that was one identity I could finally relate to.

As I got into my car I heard the young girl call out to me to wait.  She held up my note with and inquisitive look, and said “why?”  I said better to know who you are now, than wait twenty years to figure it out.   She held up her new license to show me.  “New name and new picture to match”, she said.

I smiled and got into my car, and what song should be playing on the radio: Another One Bites The Dust!

Reposted by Jean James courtesy of

No Offence, but…

no offence 2

Have you ever noticed that when someone prefaces a statement with “No Offense, but…” what follows that but is bound to offend.  That this is really just shorthand for, “What I’m about to say is going to piss you off,  but keep in mind you‘ve been forewarned.”

I’ve heard this saying fired off over the years, and while talking to a friend recently I found myself looking down the barrel of her loaded mouth. Like a sociopath lacking empathy, she fired the words out, then completely unphased, watched as the sting of those words pierced through me.

This ‘friend’ of mine was in the market for a new house.  She and her husband are pretty well off.  When I suggested she look at a house for sale on my block, similar to mine, she had the nerve to say, “Your house is great, and good for you.  No offense, but we’re just looking to move somewhere a little bit more upscale.”

Translation: You live in a shit hole we wouldn’t be caught dead in.  We’re social climbers, and need to live among other tight ass people like ourselves.

I was shocked with the ease of how these words flowed out of her mouth, softened only by the phrase ‘No offense, but…’  I couldn’t help think if I had been the perpetrator of this offense in the past.

Let’s face it, “No offense, but…” is nothing more than a wolf in sheep’s clothing; a trap waiting to spring and impale unsuspecting, hubris free individuals with hurtful or opinionated comments.

No offense, but, if you begin to hear the words, “No offense, but…” coming out of your mouth, do us all a favor: Shut your pie hole, and walk away!

by Jean James Reposted courtesy of

NY vs. Boston

Duane Hoffman/

Duane Hoffman/

Unless you live under a rock, everyone knows the longstanding rival between NY and Boston, the Yankees vs. the Red Sox. I live it in my own family. It’s the rival to beat all rivals. That was, I thought until 9/11. Could rivals still be as hateful in times of tragedy?

Three months after 9/11 I found myself in a shop in Chinatown looking for I Love NY kitsch for my nieces and nephews. It was Christmas time and I was feeling especially sad knowing how many people were never going to know the joy of waking up on Christmas morning (or whatever holiday they celebrated that season) with their mom or dad, brother or sister, grandma or grandpa, son or daughter. I couldn’t help but overhear a woman asking the clerk if he had any I hate NY T-shirts! I thought she must be kidding, but she said it again. So in a joking tone I said to her, “You don’t really mean that do you?” She said, “Yes, I’m from Boston.” I was stunned. She wasn’t joking. I then proceeded to unleash a few expletives, followed by a get the hell out of my city, and cried that someone could be so hateful in the wake of a wounded city.

Yesterday terror was unleashed upon the beautiful city of Boston on what should have been a happy Patriots’ Day, and the Boston Marathon. Two I.E.D. type devices were deployed in a crowd waiting at the finish line of the marathon, causing mayhem, traumatic injuries, and death. My NY heart goes out to all the people affected. I understand how unbelievably horrific and heinous this crime is.

Rivalry is only fun until someone gets hurt. I’m not laughing, and I won’t be looking to buy any I hate Boston T-shirts either.

NY loves Boston

Will the Real Mrs. James Please Stand Up?



Have you ever noticed that there are women out there who were born to be grown ups.  They always seem to know what they’re doing; they know everything that’s going on in the neighborhood, or at school.  They usually volunteer for everything, like class mom, cafeteria monitor, or field trip volunteer.  Everyone knows them as Mrs. So and So.  They seem to have it all together.  Well I’m embarrassed to admit that I am not one of those women.  I’m not sure if I ever will be. But I find the older I get, the more I covet the skills required to fill those shoes.

When I was younger, my mother, and all the mothers I knew seemed to possess those skills.  It was what they did.  They got married, had kids, became moms, stayed at home, and became Mrs. So and So’s.  Their roles were so clearly defined; they didn’t think outside the box.  But then came the next generation of mom’s; the working mom, and roles changed, identities changed, and women didn’t want to wear aprons over their carefully pressed dresses, while pouring their husbands an evening cocktail.  Women wanted to be independent, liberal, divorced (if need be).  They didn’t want to Mrs. Anybody, they wanted to be Ms. Somebody, or better yet, just call me by my first name.

Somehow the formality of being a mom shifted into an unknown gear, and expectations were as out of fashion as that evening cocktail with the hubby.  When I was growing up, I didn’t think much about calling my friends moms by their last name, but when I entered my twenties, it seemed a little too formal.  What was the big deal calling someone by their first name?  And as I partied my way through my twenties and into my thirties I grew into a much more relaxed person (maybe a little too relaxed).

As my friends started to have children, I insisted they call me by my first name.  I knew when I had children I wanted to be the ‘cool mom’.  I thought I would be the kind of mom that would have lots of boys, and have all the children at my house.  I wanted to pull my kids out of school, and travel the globe with them.  I used to roll my eyes when my sister wanted her kids in bed by a certain time.  And why can’t you have ice cream for dinner?

Then I had kids…I could probably stop here, but I won’t.  I ended up having two boys, and a girl.  Let’s just say, if they could bottle the energy of boys, we would have no need for fossil fuels.  As for all those extra children in my house,  No Way!  And bedtime, well that’s just the nectar of the gods, and ice cream is for dessert, on special occasions, not including a school night.  I would still like to take my children around the globe, but only if I can be properly medicated.

As I’m learning the do’s and don’ts of motherhood, I still don’t feel like one of ‘those’ mom’s.  I hear my kids calling their friends parents by their first name, and I cringe.  I’m not the class mom, the cafeteria mom, or even the field trip mom.  I have, however, mastered: the disorganized mom, the late mom, and the non-showered look mom.  And when I forget to wear that apron, I then become the food stained mom.  When my husband gets home from work, I’m asking him to pour me that cocktail, and I’m guzzling it down while throwing together some kind of meat paste disguised as dinner.

I have these fantasies of the future where I’m in my sons school helping out and everybody knows my name, and I’m always the first to arrive.  My hair is neat, my clothes are clean, and I’m carrying freshly baked goods, that I made myself.  My children are well behaved, and their manners are impeccable.  And by 7pm, all three wee ones are soundly tucked in their beds, while I’m pouring my husband that long overdue evening cocktail, and we sit together in our his and hers chairs and discuss our day like two real adults would…

Anne Taintor

Anne Taintor

Then, off in the distance, I’m pulled from my reverie, back into reality and I  hear this loud question ringing in my head, “Will the real Mrs. James please stand up?”  I look left, I look right, then I look straight ahead.  Where is the real Mrs. James?

She’s still stuck somewhere between being almost on time, and just about out of cocktail mix.

by Jean James Reposted courtesy of

Diagnosing Puberty

picture for puberty post

About a month ago my 7 year old daughter (soon to be 8), came to me one night, with a nervous complaint of a lump behind her right nipple.  With a slight sense of unease, I got up, palpated the spot she was pointing to, and sure enough there was a hard, pea sized nodule lurking under her skin.  Thinking the lump was probably normal breast development, I sent my daughter back to bed with a kiss and an “everything is normal” hug, then immediately jumped on my computer Googling 7 year old girls with breast lumps.

To my relief, most of my research pointed me in the direction of early thelarche.   Thelarche is the development of breast tissue, otherwise known as breast buds, and is one of the signals of the onset of puberty.  According to a study in the journal Pediatrics, American girls are maturing earlier.  What was once a normal pubescent age of 10 or 11 is now being seen in 7 and 8 year olds.

However, when these signs and symptoms of puberty occur before the age of 8 in girls and 9 in boys, then precocious puberty could be to blame.  Early puberty has its problems and could lead to shorter growing times, and shorter overall height.  The psycho/social problems with early puberty could lead to poor body image and low self esteem.

Signs of precocious puberty in girls:

Breast growth
First Period
Pubic Hair
Rapid Growth

Signs of precocious puberty in boys:

Enlarged testicles/penis
Body odor
Deepening voice
Pubic Hair
Rapid Growth

The following morning I placed a call to my pediatrician, and after explaining to the nurse my daughter’s finding from the night before, I expected her to say, “That’s normal, nothing to worry about.”  Instead she said my daughter was too young for breast development, and needed to come in and see the doctor.  My stomach did a little flip as I made the appointment.  Was I missing something?  Was this normal development, or a new anxiety to keep me from sleeping at night?

My daughters experience got me thinking about my own development, or lack thereof.  I have no memory of breast bud development; I would have been horrified to touch my own growing flesh, let alone go to my mom about it.  When I was growing up girls didn’t do that sort of thing.  I was twelve when my period came, and I remember the shock and embarrassment that brought on.  I was horrified by the painful, hemorrhaging happening between my legs, and there was no way I was going to my mother.  My sister, (through my tears of objection), did it for me.

My daughter is a different breed, thank God.  She is the daughter of a nurse.  I don’t lie, or make up silly names, much to the chagrin of my husband and father.  When my daughter was three, she used to run around my parent’s house singing, “I have a vagina; I have a vagina!!”  My father, not quite understanding her sing song, turned to my smiling mother and asked, “What is she saying?”  To which my mother replied in her best sing song voice, “I have a vagina, I have a vagina!!”

There’s a look that father’s, not men, but father’s give when they hear the word vagina that makes them squirm in their seat, roll their eyes, and huff and puff a little bit as if some sort of taboo has been broken, fearing the word period, or perhaps feminism might slip out next.  This was the look my father gave that day.  It’s no wonder I was afraid to get my period.

So thankfully my daughter is comfortable in her own skin, and so far, not afraid to come to me for help.  But could she be facing puberty at age 7, when I could barely face it at age 12?

The pediatrician examined my daughter later that day, and felt the pebble like nodule of what?  She didn’t know.  “Wait three weeks, if it’s still there then I would like her to see a pediatric endocrinologist.”  Really, I thought?  Was this necessary?

With anxious weekly reminders from my daughter, we got to week three, and the lump was still present, along with what appeared to be soft breast tissue, or as my daughter likes to call it, “the hill.”  After a thorough examination by the endocrinologist, we were still no closer to an answer.   She too agreed that the lump seemed odd, but thought we should run some tests to determine if she was entering puberty.  Since when did the normal transition from child to adult become so complicated?

So what are the tests for puberty?  Here is a list of the most common ones:

  1. Blood work is first collected to test for the hormones of puberty: LH (Luteinizing Hormone), FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) Estrogen Levels, and Thyroid levels, (Testosterone levels in boys).
  2. A bone X-Ray of the wrist is performed to measure the growth plates and determine bone age vs. stated age.
  3. An MRI of the brain may be done to look for any abnormalities.
  4. An ultrasound of the ovaries may be done in girls to rule out a cyst or tumor.

If the tests are positive and early puberty is diagnosed then there are treatment options which include a monthly injection of a hormone that blocks the onset of puberty.  This hormone is given until a more reasonable pubescent age and then discontinued, allowing the body to take its normal course.

This treatment option was discussed with me by the endocrinologist, and I have to say it weighed heavy on my conscience.  Medicate my child to prevent early puberty, or let nature take its course?  I was more than hesitant to have to make that decision.

After blood work and a wrist X-Ray, it was determined that my daughter was not in puberty; a relief on the one hand, but leaving me with the question, “Then what is that pea sized lump in her breast?”

Only an ultrasound will be able answer that question.

In the meantime I wait and I worry (a little), about what I’m putting my child through, and if I really have anything to worry about at all.

I can’t help but wonder if after all this testing, we’ll come full circle to find out her breast lump was nothing more than premature thelarche, and the premature wanderings down the inevitable path to a diagnosis of puberty.

To Spank Or Not To Spank



A study published in The Journal of Pediatrics stated 3 year olds who were spanked were more likely to become bullies by the age of 5. Researches from Tulane University studied 2500 children and their mothers and determined that those children spanked frequently, were more likely to show aggressive behavior.  In lieu of spankings, researchers have determined we should be giving our children positive reinforcement and praise.

The researchers at the Yale Parenting Ccenter and Child Conduct Clinic, out of Yale University, have been studying behavioral influences on children for the past several decades.  What encourages a child to behave well vs. the motivation for malcontent?  Time honored research has determined that praise, not punishment is the key to well mannered children.

But not just any old praise will do.  When our children complete a task, or do as they‘re told, we as parents must extol them with all the pomp and circumstance of a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader.  When they bring home an A on their report card, heck, even a B+, we must eulogize them as if they were the second coming of Albert Einstein.

As far as going into raptures every time my kid does something he’s supposed to do, I can see the short term benefits; he feels loved and satisfied that he’s not just doing a good job, but that he’s AWESOME and doing a FABULOUS job.  He can also be secure in the fact that he’s not just smart, but his work is BRILLIANT, it shows INTELLIGENCE beyond belief.

I however, have one problem with the long term effects.  When he’s in his twenties, and has his first big job and his boss comes along and pats him on the back and says, ‘nice work son’, will he be satisfied or suicidal?  Will a smack on the ass once in awhile keep him grounded enough to handle his future or turn him into a serial killer?

Is it really smart to overstuff a child’s ego, then send him out into the real world where private cheerleaders don’t exist?

Reposted courtesy of:

Parenting Faux Pas

The Tooth Fairy Sleeping on the Job.

The Tooth Fairy Sleeping on the Job.

So the tooth fairy didn’t show up last night.  Can you believe the nerve of that bitch?  If she could have only seen the look of sadness and disappointment on my son’s face.  God, I wanted to strangle her.  Who could do such a horrid thing to an innocent young boy so filled with the anticipation of reaching under his pillow first thing upon awakening, sliding his hand under to grasp that crisp dollar bill, or shiny gold dollar coin, only to come up empty handed?

One can only imagine how he lifted up that pillow, thinking to himself ‘this must be some kind of mistake’, while shaking the pillow several more times to see if the money somehow got caught up the pillow case.  Still empty.  Checking the sheets and duvet, thinking to himself maybe the money was just lost somewhere in his bed.  Nope, not there either.  Dejectedly, he walked down the hallway and into our room.  “Mom?” he shook me awake, eyes cast down, voice soft, “The tooth fairy didn’t come last night.”

Horror, panic, humiliation, settling into my emotional consciousness, and all before my first morning cup of coffee.  Please tell me this is just a nightmare.  Please pinch me so I can wake up and not have to see that look on my son’s face.  I look to my husband with eyes that say, “Didn’t you put the money under his pillow goddamnit?”  To which his eyes responded, “No, I thought you did it!”  Holy crap, how am I going to get out of this one?

‘Think fast!’ I thought to myself.  ‘You have to make this right, you have to make that look on your sons face go away.’  So I jumped out of bed and told my son, “Look, there must be some mistake, wait here, I’ll be right back.”  I ran as fast as I could downstairs to a change jar where I keep the one dollar coins.  I chose this because I never use coins, only dollar bills, and you can’t do a coin trick with a dollar bill now can you?  I ran back up the stairs and called to my son to meet me in his room.

And with all the magic of Santa Claus, I slipped that coin between his mattress and his bed frame, and voila!  Well, his eyes lit up and his mouth gasped in sheer delight, for the tooth fairy hadn’t forsaken him after all.  All was right in the universe again.  That’s the beauty of children.  They want to believe, so they do.  And so did I.

He had his dollar, I had his tooth, and peace of mind that I just avoided one of the biggest parenting faux pas to ever come my way.

My husband looked at me from the doorway and his eyes said “Nice going!”

I smiled back in agreement.  I’m not much of a magician, but if I didn’t make that moment right, I would never have been able to live with myself.  And as for the tooth fairy, well she’s just lucky I didn’t have to strangle her.

The Coal Fairy

The Coal Fairy

From now on when my son loses a tooth, I tell him we have to hang up a sign to remind him to put his tooth under his pillow at night.  Little does he know it’s really just a reminder to that pre-Alzheimer’s tooth fairy to keep her act together.

We’re parents and we’re human, and this was my faux pas.  Care to share yours?

Reposted courtesy of:

How Do I Love Thee (Google)? Let Me Card Catalog The Ways…

photo by Jean James

photo by Jean James

I love thee laptop to the length and width and height
My wireless can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the connections of wires and informative Grace.
I love thee to the level of modern day’s pace.
Most whimsical need, by fun and electric-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, your knowledge I Praise.
I love thee with a passion your speed doth amaze.
In my old library griefs, with card catalogs to hate.
I love thee with a love
Like Microsoft 8
With my lost pong, — I love thee with the breadth,
3G, 4G, the speed of all my life! — and, 5G if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death.

(Revised from the original version “How Do I Love Thee?  Let Me Count The Ways…” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

February is American heart month; it is a time when we celebrate Valentine’s Day, and the people we love.  It is a time of awareness and caring for that special organ that beats to its own drum. More than anything my heart is encapsulated by my family, but alas, I harbor a second love; a love of the internet.  I think anyone from my generation who had to go to a public library and struggle through an antiquated, cumbersome filing system probably loves the internet as much as me.

When I was a child in school, I was brought to the library.  It was in this institution that I was introduced to a code more complicated that Morse, more difficult to learn than Navajo, a code dating back to the Parisian revolution of 1789.  Leave it to the French to burden us with yet another complication of their sophisticated palette. What code was so burdensome to my youth as to inspire a love poem to the internet?  Why the card catalog of course.  If you are reading this and have no clue what a card catalog is then you are quite lucky for two reasons, one because you have never had to use a card catalog, and two, because you can click on the link above to learn what a card catalog is; a luxury unavailable to me as a kid.


Card Catalog

The first major orientation to any library was the location of the card catalog.  Mine was no different.  Without that giant wooden filing system, no book could be found.  The catalog cabinet was a series of mini filing drawers, each filled with standardized catalog cards measuring 7.5×12.5cm.  Each card was meant to display information regarding: title, author, and subject.  Further systematization by Melville Dewey allowed a person to locate a book to a particular shelf within the library via a series of itemizations consisting of ten classes, divided into ten divisions, each having ten sections.  This was known as the Dewey Decimal System.  Confused yet?  Me too.

Example of a card catalog card

It would take me almost all of my library period to try and locate the book I was assigned to find.  When I finally made it to the shelf that matched a number that looked something like this: 962.05 I would find 962.04, 962.03, but never would I be able to find 962.05…never.  And so this was the case no matter which library I frequented.  This meant I stopped frequenting the library.  In fact, I came to loathe the library.  I hated everything about it:  the quiet atmosphere, the nasty librarians, the Dewey decimal system, and most of all the imposing card catalog that held nothing but empty promises of books never to be found.

I tried soliciting help from the librarians, but I’ve learned over time that librarians must be a victim of some kind of social disorder that prevents them from enjoying contact with other human beings.  Why else work in a place where silence is the rule and the only words spoken are those enforcing that rule?

So yes, I love Google, I love the internet, I love anything that keeps me out of a library, out of reach from organized index cards with odd numbers on them, and away from shushing, socially inept, bookworms.

Just once I tried bringing my children to the public library.  I thought, ‘maybe times have changed.’  Maybe finding books with an online card catalog system would prove easy.  Maybe they’ve hired some people with a personality.  Maybe I was wrong.  Despite the fact that my library has a “children’s section”, quiet is still mandatory.  Despite the online card catalog, the book I wanted was still unavailable, and despite the fact that my son signed up for his very first library card and received a new pencil with the name and logo of our local library, the librarian scoffed at my daughter’s polite request for a pencil as well.  “When you are eligible for your library card my dear, then you will be eligible for a pencil.”

I fear the library will always be an archaic place that houses quiet and dark corners and people with index fingers permanently attached to their lips.  As for me I will sit at my laptop, with the sounds of laughter in the background, the light streaming through my windows, the books I downloaded onto my kindle, and my daughter happily drawing on her pencil sketch app from Google play.


Have a Happy and Healthy Heart Month!!

Mom’s Taking a Sick Day (goddammit!)

The other day I was feeling pretty sick, but as usual was on the schedule to work.  When I announced to my boss’ I was calling out sick; there was a moment of silence, followed by a cackling, belly full of laughter.  “Mom’s can’t call out sick!” responded my three little managers, rolling around on the floor still laughing.  Oh yeah, I thought.  I’d show them.  I was going to have a sick day goddammit!  Even if it killed me.

Lucky for me I got sick over Christmas break.  My husband was off from work all week which meant I had reinforcements.  So I made my announcement to my husband that I was sick, and needed the day off.  I got the same incredulous look from him that I got from the children, followed by the comment, “Really, you don’t look sick.”  I get this comment a lot.  I have the uncanny ability to look really well when I’m sick.  I’m naturally pale, and when I’m ill and running a low grade temperature, my cheeks take on this pinkish, rosy hue, that makes me look as if I’ve just come from a day at the beach.  The mucous packed sinus’ gives me just that bit of swelling that people pay their plastic surgeon thousands to recreate.  Instead of looking miserable, I look refreshed, so no one takes me seriously.

But I wasn’t going down without a fight, and sternly reinforced my position to my husband that I was indeed sick, and that I was taking the day off to recuperate.  He acquiesced, still suspicious that I was faking it, but smart enough to keep his mouth shut, avoiding unnecessary conflict.  Feeling somewhat vindicated, I dressed in my coziest pajamas, and snuggled myself under my warmest blanket on the couch, in front of the TV, just like my mom used do for me when I was a kid, (the same way I now do for my own children).

As I lay there in full command of the remote control, my three children stared at me in amazement, then fired a barrage of questions:  “Mom, why are you still in your p.j.’s?, Mom, are you sick? Mom, what are you watching?, Mom, can I watch cartoons? Mom, are you going to stay there all day? Mom, are you going to get up to go to the bathroom?  Whose going to feed us? Can we lay there with you?”  I soon realized that as long as I was in sight, I was in mind.  I got up, handed over the remote control, and made my way upstairs to my bed, shutting the door behind me.

Ah, peace and quite until…

‘Knock, knock’,

“Whose there?” I responded.


“Lettuce who?”

“Let us in Mom!”

Oh no, they were back; I hadn’t locked the door.  In they came like moths to a flame.  Armed with more questions about what I was doing in bed.  I asked them what their father was doing, and why didn’t they go spend some time with him.  Apparently they weren’t into a Judge Judy Christmas marathon, and wanted to be with me.  And I’m thinking, how is it my husband can spend the day on the couch, uninterrupted, completely healthy, and not helping to keep the children from disturbing their sick mother?  Again, I think he thinks I’m faking it.  And I’m thinking these kids are never going away.  I thought maybe if I could throw up they might get grossed out and leave, but the only person I was grossing out was myself.  What kind of low had I sunk to?

I needed someplace to go.  A reprieve for sick mom’s.  A place where the children couldn’t go, and my husband wouldn’t want to.  But where?  That type of retreat hadn’t been invented yet (but would be going right to the top of my nurse entrepreneur to do list).  I needed help now, and I knew just where to go.

I packed my overnight bag, pulled on my heavy winter coat, kissed my three kids on top of their heads, then said goodbye to my husband.  He looked at me surprised and said, “Where are you going?”  I replied, “To the only place I can get some peace and quiet.“, then walked out the door.

That afternoon, in my cozy p.j’s, snuggled under a warm blanket on the couch, watching T.V. I knew I finally was having that sick day I so deserved.  “More soup honey?”  said my mom as she checked my forehead for a temperature.  “No thanks.” I said.

Then I rolled over and fell fast asleep.


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