From the Mommy Files…

Posts Tagged ‘family

Today we celebrate all the amazing dads and granddads, and my dad is no exception.

If you’ve been following my posts about my dad, you know that my dad has Alzheimer’s and now lives in a nursing home. A friend publishes this awesome blog with posts written solely by women, called Women.Who.Write. She published my Mother’s Day essay, and immediately requested one for Father’s Day. Easier said than done.  But this exercise helped me to identify and begin to confront some of the many complex emotions that Alzheimer’s elicits.

Have a read. My Dad: Reflections, Lessons, Love…and Celebration

Thanks Amelia and Women.Who.Write!

Happy Father’s Day!

I'm so blessed to be this man's daughter! Here we are on my wedding day.

I’m so blessed to be this man’s daughter! Here we are on my wedding day.


She was incontinent – hadn’t been in weeks.

The next morning, she had trouble breathing.

I told her if she continued to have issues, we should see the doctor.

She said she’d see how she felt as the day went on.

Later that day, she said she was fine.

Well, she wasn’t.

She was up all night, and kept Dad up for the next few nights.

She couldn’t breathe, wasn’t feeling well at all, but never said a word.

I asked Mom repeatedly if she felt OK, and she kept saying she was fine.

On her fifth day home, the phone rang.

“Hello. This is ADT Home Health Alert. We’ve received an alert, and an ambulance is on its way.”

Here we go again.

Back to the hospital…where we learned it was a very severe congestive heart failure.

Mom had it before, but not this bad. heartmonitor

Later, the doctor said it was so bad, we almost lost her.

My grandmother used to go to the hospital a lot for this, and would spend a few weeks in the hospital.

But that was 20 years ago, and things have changed.

Now, after 3 days, the hospital was ready to send Mom home, with a very intensive follow up treatment.

Each day, my father would need to:

  • Weigh her and log it: any gain of more than a couple of pounds would indicate she was filling up with fluid
  • Take her blood pressure and log it
  • Check her ankles several times a day for swelling
  • Measure and monitor her fluid intake very precisely: too much would put her over the edge, too little would dehydrate her
  • Provide a very strict diet: absolutely no salt
  • Get her to take her meds—all her meds—at the prescribed time and in the prescribed amount, every single day, no exception

We had been struggling for more than a year to get her to take her meds as directed.

There was no way Dad would be able to handle this.

He’d tell Mom to do something and she’d bark at him and he would give up and not mention it again.

It was just easier to do what she wanted than to try to fight her.

So we elected to send her back to rehab.

If she had the strength, she probably would have kicked my ass.

But there was just no way.

The doctor told us that the CHF would not improve, we only try to keep it from getting worse.

Enter a nephrologist – she hadn’t seen one previously but the CHF put considerable stress on her already stressed kidneys.

Another doctor we’d have to visit.

This doctor concurred with the decision to leave the mass alone.

He would continue to monitor her kidney levels, and we’d need to see him every 2-3 months.

This was becoming truly overwhelming – taking her to all her doctors for follow ups was getting to be a full-time job.

And no one else will take the time, advocate for her, ask the needed questions or do any research.

My children began to see their grandmother as the one who took Mom away.

It seemed like I’d make plans with them—even something like watching a movie—then my mother would have an emergency and I’d have to leave.

They would cry like I just took away their favorite lovey.

I don’t want them to remember their grandmother that way.

The sad truth is, they probably will, because she has never really engaged them or tried to do anything with them.

Anyway, Mom went back to rehab.

We checked her in that night at 9 pm.

Yes, 9 pm!

We started to wonder why this couldn’t wait until morning – there had been a bad snowstorm, and it was so late.

Apparently, they couldn’t wait to get rid of her. She was driving everyone crazy.

Well, it’s what she does best!

It took 1 hour to get home from the rehab center.

It was normally a 15 minute trip.

Before I even got home, Mom called.

“Why did you leave me here? They don’t do nothing for me! Get me out!”

This lament would be repeated over and over.

Mom prefers to be waited on hand and foot, and rehab is not like the hospital.

There are less nurses and aides for more patients.

The calls came every hour.

“I could have gone home. Get me out!”

She got meaner and meaner, but by the next day had settled in.

What she missed the most was not having anyone to be her personal slave.

My dad had taken on that role.

Someone she could yell at any moment to do something—and he would do it, even if it meant foregoing something important for himself, like sleep.

Mom would wake Dad up at night if she couldn’t sleep, which was often.

She’d wake him to help her to the bathroom.

She was capable of going alone but why should Dad sleep if she wasn’t?

I’m not exaggerating.

She’d wake up hungry and bully him until he got up to make her something to eat.

And I’m not talking a sandwich or warming up leftovers.

She’d want a fresh meal—she’d demand it.

And Dad would get up to do it.

Of course, he never said a word to us.

He just did it.

Later, we’d learn that Mom had always treated him so poorly.

Even more so than we had witnessed.

And he did what she wanted, because he loved her so much.

And wanted to make her happy.

It’s been more than 50 years, and he’s still trying to make her happy, but unfortunately, she has never allowed herself to be.

But that’s another story.

OK, ladies. You know what I’m talking about! Your brain has never been the same since getting pregnant, and it doesn’t get all that much better after giving birth! It has an actual name now, to confirm that something is really going on. It isn’t that we lost our minds (well, sort of). It’s a documented phenomenon called Momnesia. Yes, you read correctly; short for Mom – amnesia.  Some refer to it as Mommy Brain. (At least they didn’t call it Momzeimers!) Those darn pregnancy hormones feed off your brain and it’s never the same. Detail-oriented individuals start forgetting things. If we don’t keep extensive lists, we forget to do things. I once heard a new mom say she went to the Walgreens, parked the car, and she got to the door of the store before she realized she’d left her son in the car!

Thank God that hasn’t happened to me, and I’ve harmed no living things due to my Momnesia.

You should see the lists that I keep: work stuff, household reminders, family things that I must do. People laugh (no moms laugh, cause they know!), but if I didn’t do this, I’d forget to do the things. Before having kids, I was always very detailed-oriented and prided myself on my memory. This Momnesia can lead to some embarrassing moments! I was always good with names, but now I forget. I’ve forgotten to call people on their birthdays or other important days.

It started early on when I was pregnant with my now 3 year-old daughter.  I read about Momnesia, and I prayed it wouldn’t happen to me. Sure enough. After she was born, it didn’t get much better. I asked other moms, “Do you ever get it back?” The responses were a resounding “no!” One mom said it took about 10 years but she got some of her memory capacity back.

I write for a local ethnic newspaper. One of the first times I went out after the birth of my first child, was to cover an exhibit opening at a museum. There was a man there that I had written an extensive profile piece on months before. We got to talking, and he mentioned something about “going back home.” I asked, “Where are you from?” He looked at me like I was nuts. “St. Louis,” he said. “Did you forget?” I was quick with my response. “I’ve done so many articles that sometimes the details escape me. It takes a minute sometime to jog my memory.” Good response, but I was so embarrassed. I didn’t want to admit that it was a case of Momnesia.

You’re shaking your head about now, and thinking about the things that you have forgotten. Let me count the ways. Have you ever gone to the store for something specific and got other things, but not that item? Yup. Have you started to do laundry and then forgot it in the machine for a couple of days? You bet. In those early days following the birth of a child, have you forgotten when you showered last? Oh yeah. And forgotten which side you last nursed the baby on, or even when? Uh-huh. I had to keep a chart of when I nursed, how long and which side and even charted the naps, cause I couldn’t even tell you when I’d had a drink of water last. Yeah, you’re with me. You’ve been there.

My youngest is now 13 months old, and I was thinking it was getting better. I’d started writing more, began taking on some freelance work, and started to promote this blog. Yeah, get ready for this one.

Momnesia Strikes Again!

Last week I set up a fan page on Facebook to promote my blog. I set it up wrong! I set it up as a local business. It was a little vague in terms of the category selection, and I thought, well, I’d like this to be a business – someday a book, ads on the blog, maybe even merchandise! Ok, I’m dreaming a little here. But the intention is there – I want this to go somewhere. So I set it up as a “local business.” I’d reviewed other promotional pages and they said “company,” so I thought that category was the closest to that. Um, no.

After doing a little research, I found that it belongs in another category, which would allow me options on the page that I can’t do under the current category. Right now, you cannot change the page’s category. You have to delete and start again. WHAT?

As of April 8, I had 19 fans  – some I’d invited and others I had not. I did invite a lot more people.

So then the conundrum…do I tell people I screwed up or just leave it until someone at Facebook says, “Sorry lady,” and shuts the page down? Hmmm….I feel like an absolute dufus. Had it not been for Momnesia, Mommy Brain – whatever you want to call it – this wouldn’t have happened, I am sure. Did I say I felt stupid? How embarrassing!

Big sticky note taped above my desk this morning: ATTENTION – MOMNESIA IN PROGRESS: Check, check, check, check, check….50 times if you have to!

Ok, so I swallowed my pride and set up a new page over the weekend. One by one, my fans are making it over. Thanks, ladies. You’ve been there too!

I’m holding out hope that someday we’ll get our memories back. Ahhh…we knew after having kids, we’d never be the same – in more ways than one! Now to go kiss my little brain zappers. What were their names again? Just kidding! I wouldn’t trade them for my old memory back anyway.

OMG! Did I really say that? Yikes! I swore I would NEVER say that! You know what I’m talking about – the things your mom used to say to you that you SWORE IN A MILLION YEARS YOU WOULD NEVER SAY. I did. I said it. I can’t believe that came from my mouth!

One day, it was lunchtime for my 3 year-old. She’d requested her favorite, mac and cheese. I served her lunch and asked her to come to sit down. After a while, she came and sat at the table and basically goofed around. After about ½ hour of trying to cajole her into eating, (yeah, you’ve been there too!) I asked her why she wasn’t eating. She replied, “I don’t feel like eating.” I asked if she was hungry, and she said she was. Then I asked why she wasn’t eating. She said, “I don’t want mac and cheese.” I reminded her that she requested it.  We went back and forth a few times. Ultimately, she said defiantly, “Well, I don’t want it!” And then it came out of nowhere. “There are kids in the world that don’t have any food!”  I didn’t realize at first that I said it. To that, my little one responded, “Really?”

So I hadn’t yet determined if she was being sarcastic or she was genuinely interested in hearing about these kids when it hit me. The horror! My mother used to tell me that all the time. I was a very finicky eater and there was a lot I wouldn’t eat. My mom would repeat that mantra over and over. My response? “Well, then send them my food!” I think that quip made her angrier than the fact that I didn’t eat. IN MY MIND, I SWORE TO MYSELF I WOULD NEVER SAY SUCH RIDICULOUS THINGS TO MY KIDS. Well, I guess I just ate my words! How did this happen? What is happening to me? My mother has taken over my brain! HELP!!! What’s next?

Meanwhile, my daughter was speaking to me and I didn’t say anything; I couldn’t hear her as I was reminiscing, thinking about my own refusing-to-eat days. While a part of me wanted to simply ask her what else she wanted to eat – she has to eat, and well, in a way I wanted to forget that I uttered the words I said I would never say – I stuck to my guns: “Come on, it’s not a restaurant! You asked for mac and cheese.” She told me she wasn’t going to eat it, so I took it away, and told her she’d eat it for dinner, but there was no other lunch, only that one. She went to play and 20 minutes later, came to ask if she could eat her lunch now. “Mommy,” she said. “I think I am ready for mac and cheese now.” I took it out of the refrigerator and set the plate in front of her. To my surprise, she said, “I’m glad we have food to eat, Mommy.” “Eat your lunch, Sweetie,” I said, and walked away, thinking, “Mother knows best.” Isn’t it amazing how much smarter our mothers get, the older we get? I didn’t want to admit it, but she’s smarter than I gave her credit for.

Another day I said something else she always said. And I realized that sometimes there just isn’t an explanation, or you’re just so frustrated, and you can’t say what you’re really thinking. Oh, I think you know where I’m going…that timeless phrase: “Because I’m the mom and I say so!” Well, we’ve become mothers. Why wouldn’t we say the things we learned from the example we had: Mom. Now, the question remains; will I share this little story with my mom? And more importantly…what other fun sayings will come out of my mouth?

I tried many times to write songs or poetry, but I never seemed to have the knack. Somehow, after giving birth, I have this new talent as a songwriter. You know what I’m talking about moms. You know, you make up little ditties everyday to entertain your little one(s). You sing about poop, teething, them mashing up their food, all that wonderful stuff. Even fun stuff too!

             Some of my first compositions were food-related. I’d decided that I was going to make food fun – those foods that kids typically hate. I started with green beans. It’s still a winner, even with baby #2. The Greek word for green beans is “fassolakia.” So to the tune of the “Hallelujah Chorus,” I sing “Fa-ssola-kia! Fa-ssola-kia! Fassolakia! Fassolakia! Fasso-la-kia!” This tune also works for the girls’ names too and they love it, still. Next, I tackled peas. There are actually two Greek words that refer to peas – bisellia, and arakas. Don’t know where I got the tune, but in a loud, deep voice, I sing “Beeee-sellia! Bisellia!” then in a softer, higher pitched voice; I chime in, “Arakas! Arakas!” So both kids love their beans and peas.

             The most popular of my tunes would probably make Rick James a bit miffed. I’ve re-written his hit song, “Super Freak.” You’ll love this…


She’s a very stinky girl

The kind only loved by her mother.

She will never let your spirits down

When she flashes her big smile.

She likes her toys in her hand

Don’t you dare try to take them from her.

When I make my move to her room, it’s the right time

I can smell her all the way.

That girl is getting big now

The girl’s a super stink!

The kinda girl you read about in Parents’ Magazine

I’d really like to change her

Cause I can’t stand the stink!

She’s alright, she’s alright.

That girl’s alright with me, yeah.

She’s a Super Stink, Super Stink

She’s super stinky, yow!

             This was a big hit with my older daughter. I started singing it one day to distract her as she wiggled around while I was trying to change a messy diaper. It was an instant hit. I sang it every time, and after a while she started to sing along. Even the “yow!” It was pretty funny! My younger daughter giggles through the entire song.

             These are but a few examples of my new song writing ability. I have a whole new talent I never knew I had before. I don’t think I’m ready to call Burt Bacharach to see if we can collaborate, but hey, it’s good fun. Feel free to borrow my songs. I’m sure you have some fun ones too! Hey, whatever works, right?

Ahh…you’re a new dad. CONGRATS! You’re elated, full of pride, a little tired, and probably a little frustrated too. I’ve heard many a new dad lament about being relegated to “roommate” status after baby comes along. Well dads, it’s not on purpose. It’s not that we love you any less; it’s not that we aren’t attracted to you anymore, because we are. We’ve taken on the bulk of the baby duties, and we’re exhausted. And nursing moms are even more worn out. Milk production and nursing will wipe out any mom. It’s hard for us to even think about being intimate when we are sleep-deprived, trying hard to do everything right, and well, postpartum, we aren’t feeling very sexy with the extra weight lingering. Honestly, we feel privileged to get a shower in, let alone put makeup on, fix our hair and then find some clothing that we don’t mind spit up or poop getting on it. Believe me, if we could, we’d be with you all the time. It’s been a while since we could make love without a big belly as an obstacle, or it hurting. So here we are. Yes, I know, you have needs. So what’s a guy to do?

          I have a few suggestions for you. Follow these simple steps, and not only will you not suffer from the Roommate Syndrome, you’ll be declared a super hero in your own home, with the just rewards! 😉

          From my own experience, I can tell you, a new mom is too exhausted to ask you to do things. And we don’t want to be perceived as someone barking out orders. So things don’t get done, or it takes a long time to complete a simple task. So my most important piece of advice is, don’t wait for her to ask you to do something. Be proactive.


The laundry has must done at some point. So just go do it. Don’t make a show of it; don’t say, “Hey, I’m going to do the laundry now,” or “I can do that.” Just go do it, before we do. If you need help sorting the laundry or knowing what temperature to wash in or where something goes, don’t hesitate to ask. Or just pay closer attention. You can even ask your mom, your sister or a female friend. You have no idea how much this helps, and how many points this gets you.


A new mom, especially one who is nursing, has to eat well-balanced meals and eat regularly to keep up production. Make her something to eat. Make a meal, ask her if she’s hungry, bring her a glass of water. Presto! You are a very attentive husband or partner.


            A new mom is in desperate need of a break. We usually won’t ask for one, because we’re trying to be super moms. Sending us to take a nap or banishing us to another part of the house won’t work. As soon as the baby cries or we think she needs something, the break is over. Hand her some shoes and her keys and then kick her out of the house. She needs some fresh air and a change of scenery. She’ll really love you for this. Now you are the most considerate husband ever.


             Moms give up a lot. We are virtually tied to our newborns for a while, especially if we’re nursing. We have to feed baby, right? Well, be conscientious of this. Don’t go about your normal routine as if nothing has changed. The addition to the family changes your life too. For a silent show of support, give up some activities for a while and be around to help. We won’t tell you to give up your softball league or not meet your friend for a drink. We made the choice to have a baby, and knew we’d give up stuff, but we will secretly resent you if you continue gallivanting around like you haven’t a care in the world, while it is a production for us to get out of the house with kids in tow. Encourage her to take a night off and meet a friend for coffee. You are now the most wonderful husband ever.

             Give baby a bottle, whether formula or pumped breast milk. The bonding time is great for you and your child, and you are now an involved dad. Seeing Dad holding the baby warms our hearts.


             One last tip: let Mom sleep. You don’t have to take over the night shift, but every so often when baby cries at night get up before she does. Tell her to stay in bed and get some sleep. Let her sleep in on Saturday. When she is well rested, it keeps her weight loss on target, refreshes her, does wonders for her attitude, and you are a super hero, my friend!


             Follow these simple tips and in spite of the craziness, the sleep-deprivation and all the work, you have made yourself sexier, more attractive and the best husband in the entire world. How could she not want you more than ever? Did I mention how this extra bonding time with junior has made this journey even more special for you?

             Happy days, my friend! Or should I say, Happy End? 😉

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