Mother’s Day Uncensored (or Stepping In It with Style)

FB_IMG_1494796346870Mother’s Day is bouquets of fresh flowers, the pitter-patter of little feet running through the house while Mama half-dozes, giggling outside the bedroom door, handmade cards, a mocha coffee delivered bedside, and a bagel brunch on the back deck with thoughtful gifts and sweet words. It’s lovely and divine.

But this year, I discovered the night before could also dish up its own spot-on, hilarious tribute to motherhood:

We were sitting around the table picking at the last bits of Chinese takeout, when my husband and I heard a small but persistent voice from the bathroom.

“I’m duh-uhn!”

“Just a sec, honey…” I said, as we continued chatting about our plans for the week ahead.

“A little help here?” the voice called out again.

And then, “Mama?

Finally, taking the hint, I joined my 4-year old throne-side.

“Um, I had a little accident, Mama… sorry.”

I looked down and saw his Super Mario briefs lying on the floor—looking remarkably accident-free.

“No problem, Sweetie,” I said, scrunching a handful of toilet paper into my palm so I could help him.

“You know what, Mama? I saved Lego bag number 3 so you could help me tonight since Papa already got to help me… and tomorrow, you can give me a bath because it’s gonna be Mother’s Day and usually Papa does that…  so tomorrow will be special.”

I smiled at his concept of Mother’s Day. As I wiped him, he continued to chirp away, using a tone most women reserve for the nail salon. “And I’m working on a secret art project but I can’t tell you about it,” he said, “because it’s a surprise and…”

I thought back to earlier in the day and my older son’s sad eyes when he heard that Mama wouldn’t be at his baseball game. My husband explained that I was going to take the afternoon off and go shopping, as an early Mother’s Day present. But one look at that face and I changed my plans.

“I’ll join you at the park,” I’d told him.

As it turned out, I never had to leave. En route to the park, his tummy started hurting. With vomit an imminent possibility, my husband quickly drove him home to be under the watchful eye of Mama.

20170514_123542“Mateo!” my husband called from the kitchen, rousing me from my reverie. “Don’t tell Mama everything.”

“I’m not, Papa,” he shouted back.

“I have a special, surprise Lego project,” he flashed his little imp smile. “That’s what I mean,” and continued his beauty shop banter.

“Ok, that’s it,” I said. “Time to flush and wash your hands, mon cheri,” and I stepped away to wash my own.

But as my foot came down, it suddenly slid in the opposite direction.

A delicate stripe of brown “mud” streaked across the floor.

Except. It. Wasn’t. Mud.

I managed to keep it together while reaching for the Lysol wipes.

“Sorry, Mama.”

“It’s OK honey, I’ll just clean that up.”

As I wiped the floor and cleaned out the grooves in the treads of my slipper, I heard the water running in the background.

“Here, Mama! I’ll help you, ” he said, holding a sopping wet hand towel—my favorite—in his little hands.

I couldn’t help laughing as I looked around. And that night as I snuggled on the couch with my boys and we watched the opening scenes of E.T. together, a favorite movie from my own childhood, I thought how lucky I am to have them.

When Mateo climbed out of bed long after he should have already been asleep because he was scared and wanted a hug, I thought how wonderful it is to be needed and loved and entertained by these little boys every day of the year.

This is motherhood. And though it can be exhausting and frustrating, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

 

Life’s Best Medicine: funny stuff courtesy of the kiddos

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Brush your teeth or else…

Sometimes we forget to laugh.

The world has become such a serious place that humor can seem frivolous, a luxury for a happier time. But life without laughter is empty.

Thankfully, two of my favorite live-in comedians, age 8 and 4, are killin’ it daily. We just have to pay attention.

(And be ok with the living room’s new decor of swirling, floating, tiny feathers because, well, the 4-year old took a bite out of an over-stuffed cushion during a no-holds-barred pillow fight…)

On Being Healthy (courtesy of M, age 4):

– Are you ready for some exercise? Because we’re about to do some exorcism!

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On technology’s limits (courtesy of N, age 8):

Alexa, play “Viva la Vida” by Coldplay

Here’s “Little Bit of Whore” by Johnny Thunders…

On the perfect pet (courtesy of M, age 4):

I’d like a penguin.

Reasonable parent: Cute idea but how about something a little more practical?

– Ok, I guess I’d take a small dinosaur.

On the art of debate (as demonstrated from the backseat):

-Yes, he can!

-No, he can’t.

[Voices rising… tension’s building in the car. Clearly, this is important!]

 I saw it. Batman can fly.

No, he can’t. You don’t know anything.

Yes, I do.

Oh, yeah. If you’re so smart, what’s 15 + 15? [Victory fist-pump for the 2nd grader…]

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Even at an early age, this masked man knew his stuff…

On describing a teacher [courtesy of M, age 4]:

Well, she’s got brown hair and looks kind of like God.

One more for the road… Overheard at Sports Clip (as stylist makes small talk with young child in chair next to us):

– That’s a cool action figure you brought with you!  What’s his name again– Captain Morgan?

[Awkward moment follows as child’s mother sweetly suggests stylist mistook superhero for Rum spokes-pirate because she works long hours in a salon where sports shows and liquor ads must play all day. But stylist corrects her…]

-Nope, just too many late nights partying!

There are no words

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A line spiraling behind him, the man stood at the checkout — frozen.

The cashier stared, waiting for his response.

She rolled her eyes. Why is this foreigner holding up everything? Why can’t he just speak up and move on?

And I thought, I’ve been him.

Once upon a time, in a country where people spoke a language I didn’t understand, I, too, stood frozen, unable to say what I held in my heart.

Inspired by the Daily Prompt: Translate

After trauma, I am grateful for everyday heroes

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A few months ago, something terrible happened.

In early September, my son and I were suddenly and violently attacked by three dogs, about a minute after my 7-year-old Noah stepped off his school bus. With his forehead ripped open, Noah had to undergo emergency plastic surgery. He spent two days at Levine Children’s Hospital, where he began the long road to physical and psychological healing. I was also injured while trying to protect him— my arm and leg punctured by the powerful jaws of the attacking dogs—but my heart is what hurt the most.

Despite the range of feelings we experienced, from fear and anger to sadness and anxiety, this traumatic incident also reminded me of humankind’s profound ability to do good.

So many people—friends, family, and strangers —have reached out to us to help.

There are good people out there, everyday heroes who make a huge difference. Sometimes it’s a professional calling, people who have made rescue and healing part of their daily lives. But just as often it is someone who makes an extra effort to do something kind, generous, and restorative.

Fred Rogers, the beloved children’s TV host, summed up these types of heroes well: “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'”

Thinking back on this challenging autumn, there are an extraordinary number of helpers to whom I want to express my gratitude. They have given me hope for a better world—people of all backgrounds, differing politics, from preschool aged kids to 95 year olds. Their instinct to do good reassures and reminds me that each of us has within us the capacity to help, heal, and improve the world.

We will never forget what people have done for us during this difficult time and I intend to pay it forward for the rest of my life: in daily actions, in choosing to do and help rather than shake my head in frustration; in reaching out when there is a need.

Do not believe anyone who says your actions don’t matter or can’t make a difference. They do. They can change the world—starting with the very first person you reach out to help.

I am grateful for…

  • 14368658_10157321205435417_3831717987397763119_nThe man who appeared on our doorstep, offering his tickets so Noah could see his first Carolina Panthers game
  • The custodial worker who loaned her cell phone charger to my husband in the ER  
  • The Child Life Specialists who eased Noah’s worry before each new step—sewing stitches on the forehead of a stuffed toy alligator to cuddle, showing Noah how to spray Mama and Papa with syringes filled with water, giving him a certificate of bravery when he had to return to the ER for rabies immunizations 14225556_10157268366100417_7244498196059035147_n
  • The bus driver who gave Noah a heartfelt card and gift, sharing her own worry and sorrow over what had happened, and who ensures his safe arrival home with such love each day 
  • The hospital chaplains who held my hand and listened 
  • The dear friends who saw a need and jumped into action organizing meals and funds to help with medical expenses 
  • The firemen who came by a week later to check on Noah and invited him to tour the firehouse when he felt better  
  • Friends, family, and strangers who sent cards, emails, texts, and messages of encouragement 
  • Those who sent Legos, puzzles, magic tricks, books and more to help Noah recover 
  • 14237743_10157282649700417_8798556737170770263_nThe paramedics who showed such calm and reassured Noah at the height of his pain and panic 
  • The Missouri school teacher and her students at the French immersion school who heard about what happened and sent Noah a care package full of well wishes and gifts 
  • Folks who appeared on our doorstep with cookies, gifts for the kids, and soup 
  • Friends and strangers who thoughtfully sent notes and gifts for Noah’s 4-year-old brother Matéo too 14355792_10157302199265417_4270704502750235806_n
  • Our caring pediatrician and her staff who supported us immeasurably and even made a house call
  • Friends who told us how important self-care would be and offered support in multiple ways
  • My sister and brother who dropped everything to come help
  • An elderly woman who saw Noah’s story on the news and sent him a care package filled with superhero mementos
  • A school counselor and school psychologist who went above and beyond, visiting Noah at home and ensuring his positive readjustment to school 
  • Handmade cards from Noah’s schoolmates as well as from other local kids 
  • 14269753_10155171614135410_1676238903_nThe Animal Control Officer who stayed with us at the hospital, long after his shift ended, to ensure our safety and the police officers we never met who scoured the surrounding neighborhoods for the attacking dogs 
  • Friends who sat with us in the hospital and made sure we ate something
  • Neighbors who sprang into action—on the scene and in the days that followed
  • Reporters who showed compassion
  • Friends who helped with childcare in our most challenging hours
  • A principal who called Noah at the hospital
  • Nurses who eased Noah’s worry (as well as our own) and made him comfortable during his hospital stay 
  • 20160912_165043Teachers who came to visit, called Noah, read to him, and checked on our family repeatedly
  • A surgeon whose superior technical skill was matched by his ability to relate and empathize with his patient and parents 
  • Cousins, aunts, uncles, and dear friends who reached out from across the US and around the globe
  • Mental health professionals who have helped us stay afloat and progress
  • Those who lovingly prepared meals and sent gift cards, cleaned our house, or did our laundry 
  • Our parents who ran errands, sent thoughtful gifts, entertained the children, gave hugs from near or far, and provided shoulders for us to lean upon

We are forever grateful for your acts of kindness.

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Lessons from my children: Mourning but Moving forward after the Trump victory

20161030_122047.jpgDevastation doesn’t quite sum it up.

I am in a state of disbelief, disappointment, and grave sadness after Donald Trump’s vision for America was chosen last night by a majority of my countrymen and -women. This is a hard, hard morning and is making so many of us reflect on what this means for our country, our children, our place in the world.

As I struggle to make sense of it all, I can’t help thinking about my two boys and how I must be a strong example to them in this painful, defining moment in American history. This morning, my husband and I spoke to our boys and told them that despite our hopes (and even our assurances) the night before, the election had not gone the way we had hoped and, indeed,  expected.

Noah, our 7-year-old, burst into tears. “What will happen to my friends?,” he said.

 

“I’m scared they will be taken away. Lots of them come from other places.” We had to dig deep to show optimism despite our own fears– reassuring our sweet son about his beautiful group of friends and classmates whose families are Mexican, Moroccan, Muslim, African-American and whose shining faces represent such hope for the future.

We told him this will make us work harder and that we will not abandon his friends or our vision of a better future for all children. We told him that it is very hard to lose but one of the great things about America is our democracy and that we must accept the will of the people and its choice for a new leader.  I believe this. I also believe that we must do more, become more involved in local politics, in national politics, in expressing our views and not simply allow the next 4 years to destroy every bit of progress we’ve made and still hope to make.

Our 4-year-old Mateo asked, “Why would someone vote for Donald Trump?”

 

I struggled to find an answer when I am still in such a state of disbelief that people could choose such a severely flawed candidate, lacking experience, and espousing policies of hatred and division. But his question reminds me that part of our work going forward is understanding “the why.” What explains our radically different views on the world and what has motivated them to vote for Trump? Is it racism? Is it economics? Is it fear? Is it one issue or many? Is it their educational background? Is it their daily experience, which must be so different from my own?

We tend to surround ourselves in real life and especially on social media by people who share our ideas. This election is a wake-up call that the reality of America is quite different than how I saw it, how most of the pollsters and pundits saw it, and that there is a huge disconnect between our differing visions of America.

The last thing I’ll mention is the one that I must remind myself of today and hold onto tightly. Over the weekend, when we were eagerly anticipating the week ahead and what we expected to be a historic, glass ceiling-shattering moment, we talked about our schedules.

“No school on Tuesday or Friday,” Noah told us.

“And we have the election on Tuesday — it’s a big week,” I said.

“Yes,” he agreed. “It is… And on Wednesday we have the Book Fair!”

In his 7-year-old wisdom, he saw that there is a day after, that the sun would still come up this morning and that the world would keep turning. Let’s not give up hope. We owe it to our children. Let’s call this Day 1 of our renewed commitment to doing more to make our vision of a more just, equal, and inclusive America a reality.

The view from Stars Hallow

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The baristas are wearing plaid and the place is filled with giddy, over-caffeinated fans looking for Luke, Lorelai, and Rory. They’re also scanning the place for any piece of memorabilia to prove they were here — at one of the 200 “Luke’s Diners” — that have popped up in Charlotte and across the nation today in a creative nod to Gilmore Girls, the beloved TV series from the early 2000s. (The promotional push comes from Netflix who will be airing new reunion episodes later this month.)

Mugs Coffee, my regular neighborhood coffee joint, has been transformed overnight by a sign, the promise of free coffee, and a crowd of nostalgic, bubbly fans. (Poor Luke would be out of his mind trying to stifle all that unbridled enthusiasm…)

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One woman just dug through the trashcan to find a limited edition Gilmore Girls paper coffee cup sleeve as a memento. Others are going table to table to see if they can swipe one from an unsentimental coffee drinker who may not be a fan of the show. It’s hard to find one here.

What fun to imagine just for a few moments that we’ve walked into Stars Hollow, that idyllic little town full of quirky personalities, where parents and kids are hard to tell apart, and life is about as unpredictable as the super-charged non-sequiturs flying back and forth over a cup of coffee.

I’ll drink to that.

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You can catch all 7 seasons of Gilmore Girls on Netflix as well as the 4-episode reunion, which launches on Netflix on Nov. 25.

 

 

7 signs you’re living with a child under age 7

There’s no denying it. You have all the symptoms. You’re living with one or more kids under age 7… aren’t you?

 

 

1. Your Netflix cue and cereal selection are both chock full of animated characters.20160324_075524

 

 

2. You occasionally rock out to a children’s CD even after the kiddos have gotten out of the car.20160324_111450

 

 

3. Your colleagues have caught you slurping up a Gogo Squeez apple sauce pouch during lunch.07d3bb85d2183ba8a8a5982fa57f2d80

 

 

4. Your vacuum suffers from lego-indigestion.20160324_081825

 

5. You’ve exceeded the surgeon general’s RDA for listening to knock-knock jokes.20160324_144841

 

6. You automatically cut up your meals into bite-sized morsels or wacky food art.8575e94a53391d4e827290e4b3c75bc2

7. Your highly developed sense of smell can pin-point the child responsible for producing offending odors in a nano-second.disgusted-mom-holds-nose