Mothers; the world’s truest heroes

April was a rough month in our house. My family started on house renovations, which BTW should automatically come with an on-site marriage counselor. Our dog spent several days on his death-bed only to make a full recovery.  Sheesh, that was close! Poor old guy nearly got the needle, in fact I’ll bet he sensed it and that’s why he made a complete turnaround. April is also the month my middle guy celebrated his 7th birthday just 2 days after doctors confirmed his celiac disease. Cake shopping was bitter-sweet and let’s just say nobody was running to the snack spread at his party. By the end of the month it felt like I had run a marathon and was crawling to the finish line, hoping for a brighter May.

IMG_2808

Boy was I wrong. It turns out that my son’s celiac is more than just an inconvenient dietary disease. Apparently it’s wreaking havoc on his immune system.  The same virus that had been jumping from kid to kid in April, had my guy laid out from school for the first 9 days in May. He was put on four different medications and suffered through 10 straight days of high fever. The most frustrating part of all this (besides my gnarly feet from having to cancel my pedicure) is that despite the body aches, headaches and pneumonia hack, his stomach pains remained the biggest complaint and there was absolutely nothing I could do to help him with that.

Us Moms, we want to make it all better, but sometimes better is just beyond our grasp. But still, we keep reaching, we keep trying to ease their pain; take away their suffering. We google, we webmd, and we pinterest.  We try to find home remedies, natural remedies, we pray and some of us even use raw eggs to help suck the sickness out. We research probiotics, prebiotics and become experts on apple cider vinegar and all 8-thousand of its healing qualities. We humidify, we suck their boogers out through rubber straws and we invent essential oil combinations that would impress even Marie Curie. The one thing, the only thing we don’t do and won’t do for our sick children is give up.

There’s little else I can do to help my son’s suffering, to stop his weight loss or to heal the damage that the disease has caused to his insides. Trust me, I know about the bone broths, the supplements, accupuncture and all POSSIBLE food allergens have been eliminated. I’m sure things are improving on the inside, just not as fast as I’d like them to. Still, I won’t stop trying to help him. I won’t stop advocating for him and I won’t stop researching for him. I’ll continue to ask every pharmacist, every waiter, every school staff member; “Is this gluten-free?” I’ll pretend not to notice the purple bags under his eyes, and I’ll try to tighten the elastic on his jeans without him noticing. I’ll continue to rub the oils on his belly, I’ll keep reading labels 3 times over and I’ll only cry when he sleeps.

IMG_2514

I know my son’s illness pales in comparison to what other children are living or dying with. Just thinking about what those mothers must be going through makes that painful lump in my throat set into position; ready to contain all emotional buildup.  Those mothers are the true Superheroes of the world; showing true grace under the absolute worst of circumstances. Waging wars with impossible diseases; fighting daily battles with their own emotions. They are the Batmen of the world. The rest of us? Well we are all the Robbins. So whether you are soothing your teething baby, kissing a bandaged boo-boo, waiting and worrying at urgent care or pacing a hospital hallway, just know that you are a hero. You are everything your child needs and wants because you’re “Mom”. And if being a mom has taught me one thing, it’s that I can do absolutely anything… except give up. Happy Mother’s Day.

IMG_2810

.

Advertisements

Cause aaall of me loves aaall things gluten

I used to roll my eyes walking down the gluten-free aisle at the stupid-expensive grocery store that only the Lululemon wearing ladies shop at – that is until my child, my baby, was diagnosed with Celiac disease.

img_1658I call him my baby because he has an angelic quality to him. Ever since he was an actual baby he’s had the chubby cheeks and tummy of a cherub angel, but he’s 6 years old now and he was at the time of his diagnosis. So for six whole years I shrugged off his bloated belly as an adorable feature that I was in no hurry for him to outgrow, all the while he was suffering. I know Celiac disease is completely manageable by following a gluten-free diet, and God knows how blessed I KNOW I am to have otherwise healthy children but man, this shit is hard! We’re only two months into diagnosis and tensions are high in my home!

First of all, the transition from gluttonous to gluten-free eating is not going so well. (Yes I know the two words are unrelated.) I suppose any logical person would say just throw all things gluten away, or donate them but I’m not logical, I’m emotional and thrifty! I just can’t bring myself to throw away a perfectly good Costco-sized box of Kodiak pancake and waffle mix. I mean not only is the stuff delicious, it’s good for us… well, all but one of us. On the other hand I can’t let my other two kids down a dozen donuts for breakfast while he watches. But is it really fair to deprive my other kids of donuts, waffles, cake and hot dogs? In my house those are pretty rare as it is. They usually mark a special occasion; birthdays are for Donuts-with-Dad, pool days beg for hot dogs and burgers and everybody knows something wonderful is being celebrated when someone brings a cake!img_0325

My husband, bless his heart I see it in his eyes, the question whether this is really a legitimate disease and if it’s really “necessary to make him live in a gluten-free bubble?” He did actually ask that. And yes, It is necessary! He went through the same thing when my oldest was being evaluated for dyslexia. I know he’ll come around, I just pray it’s sooner than later.

It’s cliche to say hindsight is 20/20, but it’s such a fitting statement right now. Looking back I can see all the ways that the disease was taking pieces of my little boy away from me, from his siblings, friends, and even from himself. Since cutting gluten out of his diet he doesn’t rush home to jump in bed for a rest anymore. He joins his brother outside to play. He not only cleans the food right off his plate but he’s asking for seconds now! He’s actually both physically AND mentally quicker and most notably; he doesn’t complain about headaches once a day and cry at bedtime because his tummy hurts. I’m ashamed to say I actually started to think his complaints were excuses to prolong the bedtime routine, or habitual phrases he used to just to have something to say.

I know the changes will get easier and soon this will all feel normal for my son and for the rest of my family. There are so many websites dedicated to gluten-free shopping and cooking and if any of you have favorites, please share! Like many of you, writing is a sort of therapy for me but sharing personal topics like this is the reason I chose to blog what I write. Some conditions still carry with them a stigma, unfortunately most autoimmune diseases, like Celiac disease, are at the top of that list. I’m not exactly sure why, maybe it’s because people think they’re lifestyle diseases caused by poor diet and lack of exercise. The truth is that the research and research funds for autoimmune diseases are so minimal that very little is known about what causes them and what secondary diseases are caused by leaving them untreated. I’m no medical professional but if you recognize any of the symptoms I mentioned in yourself or your child, you might consider requesting a blood test. For more information on Celiac disease click on the highlighted link.

Breakfast, baseball and mediocre advice

Why telling our kids, “just try your best” may not be enough.

img_1620

The other morning during breakfast I overheard a conversation between my boys that stopped me mid coffee sip, which is pretty hard to do. My 6 year old said, “I’ll probably be the worst player on my baseball team.” Before I could respond my 8 year old says, “I’ll probably be the best player on my team.” I don’t remember exactly what happened next, probably a big gulp of coffee because…priorities. Then I explained to them that every team, every good team has more than one “best”-while one player might be the best catcher, another might run faster and someone else , the best batter. (By the way, this is little league and more importantly, Mommy speak, technical positions don’t apply here.)  I promised my younger son that with practice he’d find his strength, or his best and he’d use it to make his team better. He’s six so he was over it before I even opened my mouth.

But the conversation really stuck with me. It got me thinking about my own life and how I’m using my best qualities or gifts to make my “team” better? After all isn’t that why we all have a unique combination of talents and gifts – to use them to fill in the gaps of our social circles, our families, our careers? The answer is I’m not, at least not actively. Frankly, I feel like most days I’m going through life on auto-pilot. (Right now I’m imagining my boys faces had I told them to show up to baseball practice, do the bare minimum and *POOF, they’d be the best on the team. I don’t know why this is funny to me.) Sorry, squirrel moment.

So in the spirit of leading by example, I’m gonna commit to actively sharing the best of myself. Corporate America may not have a paying job for my talents but I like to think that my “team” has a need for them. My type-A husband needs more of my fun-loving, free-spirit than I’m offering these days. My younger son, who was very recently diagnosed with Celiac disease, needs my craftiness and creativity right now more than ever. (I mean!! Have you ever tasted gluten-free bread?) Growing up in a family of very passionate Latino women, I’ve always prided myself in my restraint and patience and my dyslexic son deserves all the patience God knows I don’t always give him. And at the end of the day, giving all of my best, being my best will not only improve my “team” but it will bring me back to my center. And because I appreciate a story that comes full circle, I’ll tell you that at the end of the week, we showed up to baseball practice and my little guy did great. He walked away feeling good about himself and his team and before we got to our car, an older boy, the coaches son said to me, “Is that your son? He’s fast! Maybe the fastest one on the team.”

Be kind to the lady selling shakes, leggings or face cream

img_1588

As a stay at home mom and former news journalist, I read a lot of blogs, I love blogs. Every time I read one that I can relate to, I’m like, ”OMG that’s SO me! I’m such an introvert who overthinks my love/hate but mostly love relationship with being a stay at home mom of kids who might all have gluten allergies.” I think we all enjoy those articles because they make us feel relatable, like we fit into a certain sub-group of other adults. Since leaving my career seven years ago, I feel like I lost my sub-group. Sure I have friends. Childhood friends, college-ish friends (for another time), other mom friends but our goals and sometimes our interests don’t align and I kinda miss that.

My mom always tells me how lucky I am to be able to stay home with my kids. I know she’s right and I do appreciate the fact that my husband’s income can comfortably support a family of five but after almost seven years I find myself getting restless and wondering if it’s time to go back to work. I fantasize about going back to my old career, or starting a new one. I’m not gonna lie, I get pretty psyched thinking about the outfits, the drive-thru coffees, the brain stimulation but most of all the people! But those thoughts, as dreamy as they are, are always met with nauseating anxiety. I start imagining all the sick calls I’d get from the school nurse or the class party that “everybody else’s mom” went to. I think about the missed baseball, soccer and ballet practices and that’s about the time I start pumping the breaks on that plan.

So does that mean I’m not ready? I feel ready so I decided to join a network marketing or MLM team. Maybe you don’t recognize the acronym, (which BTW stands for multi level marketing) but you know plenty of women who are in this sub-group. They’re the ones who sell face cleaners, makeup, essential oils, leggings and jewelry. But hey. hey. CTFD! This is not me trying to sell anything to you. Truth be told, I dropped out of Girl Scouts because selling cookies gave me anxiety and those pretty much sell themselves! I know the bad and pushy reputation MLM reps have gotten over the years. It hasn’t been easy deciding to commit to something that I might quit or not be good at. I’ll probably never be a gold level 5, executive top earner, with 8-thousand PC points who gets to drive a pink Porsche in the carpool line but that’s not why I joined the sales-lady sorority.

If it sounds like I’m making fun, trust me I’m not. The thing is, I’ve flirted with this option before and by flirting I mean I’ve spent hundreds of dollars in product and didn’t earn one penny back. So here I am. Again. But why? The skeptic in me says “I’m just doing it for the discount,” but I realize now that I gave in because I miss belonging to a community of motivated individuals, who move in tandem toward something, anything. (And NO! Joining a half-marathon, training group is not an option. Been there, done that. Barely survived.) So even though sales is not my jam I’m gonna give it a shot. I have a good feeling about it. It’s not excitement but it’s something resembling excitement. As I plan ways to market myself, I’m hopeful about possible friendships. As I scroll through business card designs, I’m reminded of my constant craving for creativity. I’m inspired by the positive vibes pulsing through the company’s Facebook support groups.

Plus, the timing couldn’t feel more perfect as the country, the whole WORLD is still reeling from the monumental show of female fierceness and solidarity. Now could actually be the BEST time to support and allow yourself to be supported by like-minded, goal-oriented women and the companies that enable them.

Maybe one day I’ll be ready for a traditional job away from home but until then, I’m optimistic about the opportunity to report to work from my backyard rocker. If you know someone who’s also embarking on this journey, don’t knock her down, don’t unfriend her, don’t rush to say “no” or discourage her efforts. She could be motivated at the chance to meet friends, or to keep her distance from depression. She could need the money for school, little league, medical or funeral expenses, or maybe she’s just doing it for the discount. Whatever the case, give her a break, support her efforts even if you’re not ready to support her business. Listen to her sales pitch, and more importantly, listen to her why. Let her practice on you and please, above all be kind to the lady selling leggings.