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28
Dec, 2009

No Christmas For The Weary


Many of my friends and family have been following my crappy Christmas saga via my Facebook updates. This truly was a rotten Christmas for Aubrey and me, but it’s never to late to celebrate…

Christmas 2009 officially goes down in the books as the WORST Christmas ever. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, Christmas hasn’t even happened yet.

Aubrey’s father, my ex-partner, and I live about 26 miles apart from one another. It was her turn at his house but this year we co-purchased her “big” Christmas gift and both wanted to be with her when she opened it. Our plan was for me to drive to the ex’s house Friday morning and do Christmas morning gifts together. Our nanny is on vacation until Monday, so it would be just the three of us.

Well, Thursday during the night, Aubrey woke up with a fever. By the time I arrived on Christmas morning, she had a high temp, sore throat, cough and was listless. When we decided she needed to see a physician, our pediatrician’s office was just closing shop. It was nice of them to have Christmas morning hours available, but there was no way we were making it from Westlake Village to Santa Monica in fifteen minutes. Stupid far away Ventura County.

So we spent Christmas day in the emergency room doling out a small fortune to be told something along the helpful lines of, “it’s probably viral but could be bacterial”. Thanks Dr. Holmes. The doctor didn’t say a thing about her ears and just that her throat was a little red, but not bad. He wrote a prescription for amoxicillin and never ran a strep test. When you’re in the heat of the moment with your one and only, never been sick like this before, screaming, feverish child, you don’t necessarily think to ask questions, like, “Should we run a strep test?” Or “Are you sure you didn’t see any inflammation in her ears?” Or “Tsk tsk,” the doctor for writing a prescription for an antibiotic when he’s guessing whether or not your child has a viral or bacterial infection. You kind of hope the doctor would think of these things on their own in a professional, doctory way.

The night got progressively worse as Aubrey went into her first ever barf-fest, vomiting five times during the night and her sore throat getting worse. The next morning, Dec 26th, we made the 40 mile trek (Did I mention that I HATE Ventura county?) to our pediatrician’s office and finally discovered that Aubrey had an ear infection. The first one she’s ever had and the first one I’ve experienced as a mom. It’s late afternoon now and she finally ate some chicken broth and water without yerping it all back up and has been napping her little life away. I think the worst is behind us and she’ll start her antibiotics as soon as she wakes up.

So is this piece about the incompetence of some physicians? The heartache and helplessness of seeing your child suffer from illness? Or the TOTAL funky weirdness of having to hang out at your ex’s house all day and spend the night because you live so frickin’ far apart from each other but you want to make sure your child is well taken care of without having to cart her all the way back to your house in Sherman Oaks and risk her barfing all over your leased Honda? No. Well, actually, yes. It’s about the latter, but let me restate that in a kinder, gentler, not completely jaded way…

This piece is about setting differences aside and doing the right thing. I can’t say that my ex and I have had the best of times since our split and even recently had a bit of a flare up over some personal issues. And while we have fairly different parenting styles and immensely different personalities, we do both love our daughter and want the best for her. That is why I am sitting in my ex’s house in Ventura county, co-watching over our sick child. Making sure she doesn’t choke if she vomits in her sleep, helping to keep her hydrated, making Tylenol and Pedialyte runs. We are not best friends and we don’t spend time together in any other way, but tonight I’ll eat leftovers from his fridge and sleep in his guest room in case she has another episode during the night. For now, we are working as a team because our third member needs us. And, as much as I hate to admit it, he and I need each other right now too. It is too much to do alone and as I sit here typing in a dimly lit living room while my baby sleeps on the floor next to the Christmas tree, my heart goes out to every parent out there who has had no choice but to do it alone. You deserve a purple heart.

The saddest part of this entire holiday fiasco is that poor Aubrey has been so sick, she still hasn’t opened her Christmas gifts. We have asked her if she wants to open them several times and the answer is always a feeble little, “no”. It is almost December 27th and maybe tomorrow will be the morning my little one wakes up feeling well enough to smile and dance and sing again. Maybe tomorrow, it will be Christmas.

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21
Dec, 2009

Ho Ho... On Second Thought...

Now that my little girl is two and a half, I’ve had to put some serious thought into whether or not I want to “do” Santa Claus. I think this will be the last year I can get away with not addressing the big Santa question and I’ve made up my mind as to how I’d like to handle it. Now if I can just get my ex to agree with me, we’ll be all peachy and fine…

Decision made. I’m going to leave the mom-guilt on the shelf and make the decision that feels right to me and that is: I am NOT going to teach my kid the Santa Claus myth. This is always a hot parenting debate around this time of the year and I’ve heard every good and bad argument for and against Santa Claus and his whole posse of reindeer, elves and that very supportive wife of his. I’m talking EVERY argument and people are cut throat and passionate about their position on the matter to the point of being absolutely rude. Bottom line, I don’t think the pro-Santa parents need to be so mean to the non-Santa parents and vice versa. Can’t we just agree to disagree?

My daughter just turned two and a half and this is the first Christmas she knows who Santa is. She recognizes his image, but she hasn’t been taught that he flys around the world in a sleigh pulled by magic reindeer to come down the chimney and leave gifts for good boys and girls. At this point, I’m pretty sure she just thinks he’s a pretend character that is a lot of fun. Wacky, huh?

I’m really ok with her knowing the Santa story – in fact we have the Tasha Tudor The Night Before Christmas book at our house and we love to read it together – and even talking to the Santa at the mall. Last week we were lucky to catch him during a slow period and he was kind enough to chat with my daughter for free. I just don’t feel right about teaching her to believe a fake story just to get into the commercialism of the holiday. I’m also not into the “if you’re good you get a present” philosophy of life. Probably explains why I’m not a Christian. No offense, but Santa-anity and Christianity are VERY similar, you must admit. I’m trying to teach my child to be good because that’s the way human beings should be, no matter what. Intrinsic goodness. Kindness. Generosity. Love. Just for the heck of it. What a concept.

I’m not a religious person at all, so it’s not important to me to celebrate the holidays like a maniac, but I’m not above celebrating a special season. I love the music and the lights. The general festivity of it all. I grew up with big, traditional Christmases and I have many fond memories of thinking Santa was coming and then getting crap loads of toys. But no matter how fond those memories are and how grateful I am to my parents for doing so much for my three brothers and me, it’s not quite what I want for my child. I don’t want to foster a love of “things” in my child.

I’d like her to understand the holiday season as time to celebrate togetherness with friends and family, a time to be grateful for what we have and to share with others. We try to act this way all year round actually, but the holiday season can be a special reminder of just how lucky we are.

I’m not a total Scrooge either. I did finally break down and buy a tree this year. A small Wal Mart number. It cost $20, the string of lights was $1.84 and I have a nice box of beautiful ornaments that my mother collected and saved for me over the years. I did my super single-mom duty of lugging the tree home, assembling it, lighting it and getting out the ornaments. My daughter was enthralled for the first three ornaments and then she found an orange luggage strap that just happened to be in the box of ornaments. She got REALLY excited about that, ditching the tree decorating completely. While she pretended the luggage strap was a seat belt, a necklace, a jump rope a back pack and more, I decorated the Wal Mart tree… by myself. And I’m sure I will be un-decorating it and putting it away the same way.

I understand the many reasons some parents “do” Santa Claus with their kids and I’m a-ok with it. To each his own and I will do my best to teach my child to respect other peoples’ traditions and family celebrations and hopefully she won’t spoil the fantasy for her Santa believing peers. I just hope that all those parents pretending to be Santa Claus each year, ask God for forgiveness for lying to their children. Just kidding. Happy Hanukkah everyone!

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