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The BlogRhet Meme
If you've been hip to the thinky blog world lately, then you've heard about BlogRhet. And if you haven't, you should check it out. BlogRhet is the brainchild of some wonderfully thinky, blogging women, with the goal of discussing blogging, community, identity, and all that wonderful stuff. Rhetorically, of course. BlogRhet. Get it? Love the name and I love big ideas. So I loooooove these women.

The fabulous women of BlogRhet have started a thinkfest known as the Blog on Blog Action Survey. The rules? Answer one or more of the questions below - I went with all of them because I'm an overachiever, link back to the original BlogRhet post, and tag 3 bloggers.

I must admit this is the first meme I've really been excited about answering, aside from the very first meme tag I received. I even commented yesterday that I couldn't wait to see where this meme goes and how it evolves. So, the wonderful Mary G of Them's My Sentiments was kind enough to tag me. Mary is a BlogRhet contributor and comes from a long line of thinky women. Her prose is amazing and she never fails to engross me. She claims to be new to this blogging thing, but she immediately fit right in with everyone and she's a wonderful writer. If you've never had a chance to check out her blog, please do. You won't regret it.

The Questions:

1. Go back to first or early post. How would you describe your voice back in those early days? Who were you writing to? What was your sense of audience (if any) back then?

I started my blog as kind of a journal. I didn't really have a clear view of exactly what I was going to do with it, but I knew that I wanted a place to write about myself, my kids, and whatever else I felt like ranting about occasionally. I was asking questions, but I wasn't really expecting anyone to answer. For the first couple of months, I was finding my voice and my audience. I ranted about a few things that annoyed or upset me, but the posts that I most enjoyed writing, and the posts that I most enjoy reading now, were about my family or me as a mom. My writing style hasn't changed much, perhaps because I write often professionally, albeit a bit more formally. I honestly think that within a month of beginning to blog, I had found the voice I have now. I didn't take many chances or really let it all hang out, but I can hear myself when I read my earliest posts.

2. Do you remember when you received your first comment? What was it like?

My first post was your basic, "Hey, I'm here," post with cavernous echos reverberating around my space. There's not much else to it but John Lennon lyrics. There's a comment on it now, but it's a recent comment by someone new to my blog, Stephanie of Missing Me. (I had to give her a shout out because of her awesome name.) My second post, a short paragraph about my never ending debate over whether to work part-time, contains my first comment from someone I don't know in real life. Yet. (I fully intend to hang out with Pundit Mom at BlogHer in July.) Joanne really gave me my first glimpse into the Blog community. Someone I didn't know was reading what I wrote, understood my struggle, and took the time to leave me a supportive comment. WOW! That's better than therapy! And it's addictive as hell. It really is.

3. Can you point to a stage where you began to feel that your blog might be part of a conversation? Where you might be part of a larger community of interacting writers?

There were a couple of moments that led up to a really big moment of clarity. At that point, I realized that blogging is now a really important part of my life because of the wonderful dialogue I have with all these people. The first "moment" was not a post for my blog. It was actually a guest blog that I wrote for the On Balance blog on the Washington Post. (Bear with me and click through the links to find it. And hint - this is how people who Google my real name can find my blog.) Go ahead and read the comments and you'll see why I took notice.

People who had seen me elsewhere in the Blogosphere and people who were already Lawyer Mama readers saw my On Balance post and came by to be part of the dialogue. There were even more comments that you don't see - from people who googled my name and emailed me. One woman from Tennessee even called me to tell me how much she appreciated what I had written. It was amazing. And it was really the first time I realized that what I wrote in my personal life, and not just my professional life, could really make a difference to anyone.

After that, honestly, I really felt like I was having a conversation through many of my favorite posts. Finally, all of these thoughts that had been building up inside of me about the blogging community, and "Mommy Bloggers" in particular, came pouring out in response to a troll at Pundit Mom's place. That was it. I had found my people.

4. Do you think that this sense of audience or community might have affected the way you began to write?

Yes, discovering my community has definitely changed how I write, but in a good way. When I was first finding my voice, I was very careful about revealing too much of Me. I mean, the gooey, snarky, messy Me. The Me that my family and close friends love. Now, I tend not to care too much because I know that any judgment I find in my community will be from random, anonymous trolls. Now I talk about my fears and I take some chances. But frankly, this is a recent occurrence for me. I've only been blogging since August of 2006, although it seems like much longer.

In fact, my favorite post was written just last month. It isn't my favorite because of the writing or anything. It's my favorite because it was the post that was hardest to publish and is still the most difficult for me to read. This blog didn't start out as a way to push myself emotionally or intellectually, but in a way that is what it has become. I feel like I'm growing as a person and a writer because of the conversations I have in the Blogosphere. It's a wonderful thing, this community and this audience.

Let's continue this conversation. I tag Jen of One Plus Two (when she is healthy again, of course), My Queen Ms. Miller of Queen of the Mayhem, and my first Bloggy friend, Joanne of Pundit Mom. Now, none of you can get indignant about being tagged for another meme (I'm talking to you, Queenie!) because this is a special meme. Get to it, ladies. I can't wait to hear what you have to say!

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A, B, C or X, Y, Z?
Edited to add: Folks, I've finally succeeded in goading my brother into breaking in his blog. Stop on over and say "hi," won't you?

Momish tagged me with the A, B, C Meme recently. Because I'm swamped at work, I don't want to disappear from the Blogosphere this week, and I never turn down an invitation to talk about myself, I'm going to pass it on. But I changed it a bit. I'm bad that way.

A - Attached or Single?

Good Lawyer Mama: Married

Bad Lawyer Mama: Not for long if he doesn't start putting the damn toilet seat down!

B - Best Friend?

Good LM: I have several people I would call "best friends." I tend to collect one or two from each stage of my life that I stay in touch with and love dearly.

Bad LM: Only 4 or 5 people have put up with me for longer than a year and I reward them all by calling them best friends.

C - Cake or Pie?

Good LM: Neither.

Bad LM: Both. With whipped cream. And ice cream. And maybe some chocolate sauce. Would you like some too?

D - Drink of Choice?

Good LM: Diet Cherry Vanilla Dr. Pepper or water

Bad LM: Vodka martini, a little dirty (like me), with 4 olives

E - Essential Items?

Good LM: My PDA, microwave, and OxiClean

Bad LM: Vodka martini, a little dirty, with 4 olives

F - Favorite Color?

Good LM: Red (Good girls can wear red.)

Bad LM: Red (Bad girls wear it better.)

G - Gummie Bears or Worms?

Good LM: Neither. High fructose corn syrup is the devil.*

Bad LM: Both. I like to take different colors and bite the heads and torsos off to create tricolored, mutant gummi animals.

H - Hometown?

Good LM: A mid-sized town in Louisiana.

Bad LM: You're killing me here. Would you like my SSN and my mother's maiden name too? I'm from Louisiana but Virginia is now my home.

I - Indulgence?



J - January or February?

Good LM: I'm not a big fan of either month, but I'll go with January since Holden was born then.

Bad LM: January because I can always find a vodka martini at a New Years party.

K - Kids?

Good LM: Two of the most adorable little boys that ever lived.

Bad LM: Yes. Can I sell them on EBay?

L - Life is incomplete without?

Good LM: My family

Bad LM: Vodka martini, a little dirty, with 4 olives

M - Marriage Date? July 8, 1995

N - Number of Siblings?

Good LM: 1 younger brother.

Bad LM: 1 younger brother. And maybe if I harass him enough, he'll actually write something on his blog.

O - Oranges or Apples?

Good LM: Oranges

Bad LM: I didn't just compare apples and oranges, did I?

P - Phobias/Fears? Large swarms of ants. 1 ant doesn't bother me. 2 ants make me look again. 3 ants and I get a bit nervous. A trail of ants and I'm completely skeeved out. I have lots of other fears too, but do we really want to get into that?

Q - Favorite Quote?

Good LM: "Be the change you want to see in the world." Mahatma Ghandi

Bad LM: "Better to reign in hell than to serve in heaven." John Milton

R - Reason to smile?

Good LM: My children

Bad LM: Vodka martini, a little dirty, with 4 olives

S - Seasons?

Good LM: Autumn, because the leaves are changing, the air is crisp and I can wear sweaters.

Bad LM: Autumn, because I have an excuse to buy chocolate (Halloween) and people give me things for my birthday.

T - Tags?

Good LM: Anyone who would like to share!

Bad LM: I tag Still Learning. Now you have to post something, B! (Insert evil laughter.)

U - Unknown Fact About Me?

Goodness, haven't I barfed enough personal details all over the Internet?

Good LM: I love the smell of chlorine.

Bad LM: I like vodka martinis, a little dirty, with 4 olives. And I'm not an alcoholic.

V - Vegetarian or oppressor of animals?

Good LM: I eat meat, but not veal.

Bad LM: I'm a founding member of People for the Eating of Tasty Animals.

W - Worst Habit?

Good LM: Procrastination.

Bad LM: I'm perfect, so bite me.

X - X-rays or ultrasounds?

Good LM: Ultrasounds because they make me think of pregnancy and birth.

Bad LM: This is an odd question. It's not like a choice between chocolate and vanilla. I'm going to refuse to answer.

Y - Your favorite food?

Good LM: Cucumbers

Bad LM: Gumbo. It's fattening, but heavenly.

Z - Zodiac? Libra

* Quote shamelessly stolen from a friend.

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Do You See Me?
In a comment to my last post, Slouching Mom noted that my wedding photo and my avatar photo look nothing alike. Well, they actually do both look like me, but different Me's. And I realized that most of my readers wouldn't recognize me if they passed me on the street because I rarely post pictures of myself. I actually don't have all that many photos of me, aside from the obligatory studio family shots, because I'm always the one holding the camera.

I like to think that you all see me in a way. I know that when I read certain blogs, the narrator's voices helps me create my own internal picture of the blogger, accurate or not. And when I see pictures, it helps to round out the whole person. So without further delay, I give you Lawyer Mama in pictures. Well, at least as much of LM as I can give you without getting off of my butt and tracking down pictures on disk and in photo albums. Let's not forget that I'm lazy!

This is me with my kitty, Sir Hillary. I was in law school when this photo was taken.

This photo was taken in our old Falls Church home. Hollis was 3 months old and I don't think he's seen any serious snow since then!

This is the LAWYER side of Lawyer Mama. This photo is on my firm's web site. I was pregnant with Holden when it was taken.

Here, I'm about to leave the hospital with Holden. It's hard to believe he was ever that tiny.

Here we have me and Hollis on his 2nd birthday. Check out the cake! Did you know that bright blue icing makes bright blue poo? Enough said.

This was our Christmas photo for 2006. Trey and I look like hell, but the kids look cute and that seems to be what's important now! Hopefully the copyright Gods won't smite me for posting this photo.

And this is my attempt at a self-portrait with my camera phone this afternoon. Note the obligatory self-portrait double chin. I seem to be incapable of taking a photo of myself without it.

And then finally, we have my avatar photo. This picture was taken about 1 hour after I became a mother. Here you can see the beauty of a c-section with no labor - I'm still wearing lipstick for heaven's sake! I chose this as my Lawyer Mama avatar because it was one of the happiest moments of my life. When I look at this picture I see who I was, who I have become as a mother, and all the years to come. I see me at my best.


Those Three Little Words Are Hard to Say
My wedding was wonderful. All of my best friends and lots of family gathered for what I have to admit was a hell of a party. Surprisingly, the open bar did not end badly and everyone was generally well behaved. T and I had been expecting the worst, and we were pleasantly surprised. It turned out to be a magical day.

And then the next day I started a fight with T and really upset him. I mean really upset him.

What a way to start off the marriage, huh? Way to end the magic, LM.

In my defense, it wasn't a major fight. It was just a little bickering. Neither of us can even remember what the fight was about. I guess what made it so memorable was T's response. I don't think I'd ever seen T react quite so emotionally before. In response to my puzzled inquiry T explained that it was the first day of our life as a married couple and we were already fighting.

That one really hit me in the gut.

Prior to marriage I had always half jokingly complained about T's decidedly unromantic nature. I'd seen T as a sweet, dear man, but not terribly romantic unless I planted the seeds of ideas for him. I didn't have a problem with this. I'm not a terribly romantic person myself. Sure, I like flowers or surprise romantic dinners as much as the next girl, but last minute trips to Jamaica or Paris have never been my bag. I like to be prepared and I like to be packed at least 2 days in advance. If I wanted something to happen, I dropped hints and T would comply. So T and I worked well together if a bit predictably.

Imagine my surprise at M-day + 1 when I discovered that T did have a hidden streak of romanticism, or at least idealism, about marriage. And I know all of you are thinking, "Well, I hope you apologized to the man!" But here's the thing - I didn't apologize. In fact, I remember saying something like "We fight all the time. Nothing has changed. It's just a piece of paper. What's the big deal?"


Just remembering that day I cringe a bit inside.

Throughout the years I've taken T for granted. And sometimes he takes me for granted. Mostly it's the other way around, but I realize my failings now in a way I certainly did not at 22.

I'm the high maintenance half of this relationship. Thoughtless words or deeds on my part are common. Thoughtful words and deeds from T, just as common.

I take T and his love, affection, and seemingly endless patience for granted.

And then T and I will have a fight. A really nasty one, where doors are slammed and love is questioned. And T always apologizes the moment he calms down. The. moment. he calms down. As if he can't stand for me to be angry with him for one second longer than necessary. It's obvious to me that the moment T clears his head from the fog of war, he forgives me.

And in some twisted way, T's forgiveness of me and my transgressions reminds me that I take him for granted. He humbles me and I, the slower to calm, forgive him as well.

Julie's Hump Day Hmmm for the week was "What has the experience of being forgiven been like for you?" I've taken this question a bit astray from perhaps its intended path. I haven't done many things in my life that are unforgivable, or even many that require much forgiveness. (Didn't you know that I'm never wrong?!) I've cut very few people from my life over the years and, as far as I know, been similarly cut by few people as well. Hence, my experience with major forgiveness is fairly limited.

I do not easily forgive others, even for minor insults. Nor is it easy for me to apologize. The act of apologizing is an admission of wrongdoing. It's uncomfortable. I think perhaps apologies are so uncomfortable for me because I hold myself to a high standard. And if I hurt someone else, they may forgive me long before I forgive myself. And then at other times, where the lines of fault are blurred, it's easier for me to remain righteously angry than to step up and repair a relationship. Particularly in a relationship where I find myself in the role of perpetual apologizer, the one always perceived to be at fault.

Although the role is not a comfortable one for me, I've been The Apologizer before. Usually with a friend or relative I could sense simply was not capable of clearly seeing their own faults. A particular friend I have in mind, seemed to think nothing of blowing up inappropriately at me on more than one occasion, hurtling personal insults along the way. When someone is always quick to find fault with me, but never to turn the spotlight back upon herself, is that friendship even worth salvaging? At a certain point, and I guess it's different for every relationship, I cut all ties. Sometimes forgiveness, when it isn't really needed or wanted, isn't necessary anymore.

But when I do find myself at fault, T is my inspiration. I try to remember that in apologizing and admitting an error or a grievance, I also forgive myself. And self-forgiveness can be much harder to receive than forgiveness from someone else.

You can check out the rest of the roundtable participants every Wednesday at The Ravin' Picture Maven.

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Sunday in Pictures
The climbers can't wait to get outside.

Pool play.

A shoe adjustment.

A ride on the "tractor" with Daddy.

Eating sand. Again.

This is why I love Summer.

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Now With More Poo Flinging!
Oh, the Joys' recent post about The Shot inspired me to share some of our bad habits publicly. I'm sure T will be thrilled.

My husband and I are lazy.

We have a two story house. We have a diaper pail upstairs, but we both hate to empty it. So why bother? Instead we have this habit of balling up the diapers and tossing them over the baby gate and down the stairs. Bonus points if we can hit the front door without the diaper bursting.

We also fling diapers on the first floor because, well, we're lazy. Rather than getting off of our butts and throwing the diapers in the trash can, we both toss them over yet another baby gate and towards the back door. Bonus points if we can hit the back door without the diaper bursting.

Our kids have picked up on the game.

(By the way, I would never use the aforementioned "butt" word in front of the kids. Never.)

Awhile ago I had the kiddos at the mall and needed to brave the mall restrooms to change Holden's nasty, nasty diaper. Now, being lazy and a bit skeeved out by public changing tables, I might normally have ignored the smell until we got home. (One more for the Mommy Confessions.) But my poor Little H had a nasty diaper rash, necessitating immediate changing.

In the restroom, Hollis insisted on "helping" me change his little brother. I let him put a few dabs of the Boudreaux's Butt Paste on Holden.

I can't hold myself responsible for the fact that Hollis then grabbed the balled up used diaper and chucked it out the door of the restroom and into the surprised mall crowd while yelling "I fix brother's BUTT!"

Now, I'm sure that the Lawyer Mama household diaper flinging game had nothing to do with it. Nope. Not at all.

And just for the record, I have no idea where he learned the word "butt." (LM turns her eyes skyward while whistling innocently).

Now, I am holding myself responsible for the fact that I nearly peed myself laughing, guaranteeing that Hollis will try to publicly fling diapers again.

If you frequent malls in the Southeastern portion of Virginia, beware.

What, me? I was framed.


Letting Go of the Past
After my recent Mother's Day post about my mom, I had a short email from the gumbo maker herself:
I was embarrassed by your blog because you left out all the negatives, but I am very pleased by the bottom line.
Wish I could go back and do it better.
We all just do the best we can.
Bottom line, kiddo, is you turned out great.
It's not the first time my mom has made a comment to me about how I ignore the negatives in my upbringing here on my blog. So, of course, I thought I'd drag it all out into the Blogosphere. Because who doesn't want to read about my dysfunctional life?

Lest you all think that my relationship with my mom has been all music, light, and harmony, let me assure you that it has not. My mother and I are more alike than I would ever admit while growing up, and that caused some problems. We're both stubborn, opinionated, aggressive when we feel we've been wronged, and did I mention stubborn? I should probably emphasize the stubborn part.

In fact, my mom and I stopped speaking for months at a time on more than one occasion. In fact, between the Summer of 2002 and the Summer of 2004, we hardly spoke at all. That particular fight began over some political joke that I made, which my mom took personally. I, of course, thought that she was completely overreacting. My family is full of drama queens. Except, of course, me. I am always completely rational. Completely. I have my INTJ badge to prove it. Yep. Totally rational here.

I didn't realize until recently that the fight my mom and I had in 2002 wasn't really about politics at all. It was about my mother feeling that she wasn't important to me anymore. That her feelings weren't important to me anymore. And I stubbornly asserted my independence, not really understanding what or why I was pushing away.

We were drawn back together when I finally let my family know what was going on in our attempts to start a family. I was in pain and I needed family to listen. And then with the happy news of Hollis, our relationship began to mend. My mom and I still regularly butt heads, and we probably always will. But it's different now.

I've been in that dark place that motherhood can take you to. I've felt the wonderful, sleep deprived adrenalin highs. And I've watched my own heart smile at me, sweetly sigh in sleep on my husband's chest, roll over, take those first wobbly drunken steps, and say "mama." Twice.

What I've tried to tell my mom in response to her comments is that the mistakes she made just don't seem all that important anymore.

I understand in a way I couldn't while growing up. I understand why sometimes she was depressed or short with us. I understand why we didn't always have an immaculately clean house like some of the Stepfords did. (OK, now I can see my mom wincing and thinking, "Did you have to tell them that? Did you?") I understand why she pushed me so hard. I understand why she was so protective.

My mother loved me. She loved me and my brother more than anything in the world. She did the best she could.

You're right, Mom. We all just do the best we can.

And you did a pretty damn good job.

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Ten Things About ... My Mom

I've been tagged by Chicky, Chicky, Baby and Mama Loves for the Ten Things About Me meme. The Divine Mrs. Chicky shook things up a bit by writing ten things about her mother instead and I'm going to copy her in honor of Mother's Day. So, without further delay, I give you ten things about my mom:

  1. She loves daisies and hates the smell of magnolias.
  2. She was raised in New Orleans and Slidell, Louisiana. She is the oldest of 7 siblings, 5 brothers and 1 sister. Her oldest brother, my Uncle Jim, died 7 years ago from liver cancer. I know she still misses him.
  3. She makes the best gumbo in the world. You think I'm exaggerating, but I'm not. Now, of course, I make a pretty good gumbo as well. My husband swears it's just as good as my mom's, but I know that it's really not.
  4. Her maiden name is the same as my father's last name, except for 1 letter. She has a Y where he has an I. They are actually very distantly related. The misspelling of the last name in 1 branch of the family happened in a census in Louisiana sometime in the 1800's. (T loves to make jokes about how, in Southern tradition, my family tree does not fork. Hilarious, I know.)
  5. She loves New Orleans, but could never live there again.
  6. She was devastated when Katrina destroyed New Orleans, and again when she visited for Mardi Gras this year.
  7. My mom is a fantastic bridge player and has played, and beaten, Warren Buffet. If anyone reading is actually familiar with the rankings of the American Contract Bridge League, she is a silver life master. I'm dying to tell you more about this but I don't want my mom to be outed with a quick Google search without her permission!
  8. My mom was a math teacher and she taught me about negative numbers when I was in the 1st or 2nd grade. I have to admit it was awfully handy to have my mom at home if I was confused about something in Geometry or Calculus.
  9. She's been married to my dad for 36 years and still adores him.
  10. My mother always pushed me to try harder in school, to try harder at everything I did, to be a better person and to climb a little higher. I resented some of it while I was growing up, but now I know that I would not be who I am if she hadn't been standing behind me pushing.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you.

I tag Joanne of Pundit Mom, Nancy of Mom, Ma'am, Me, Amy of A Family Story, and Angela of Did You See That and CPA Mom. If you've already done this meme, feel free to ignore me. If not, tell me 10 things about you, your mom, your dog, or your left big toe. Feel free to get creative and you can hate me later!

In other news, I'm happy to report that my cousin C gave birth to her little girl this morning. Happy Mother's Day, C, and many more to come.


Worrying Makes Me A Mom
I worried about Hollis constantly when he was an infant.

There were problems with the pregnancy from the beginning and we honestly didn't think we'd make it beyond the first trimester. My progesterone was way too low, the fetus measured too small for its gestational age, my hormones were so messed up I got a false positive on the AFP and had to go through an amniocentesis to rule out Down Syndrome.

Only when we got the amnio results back did we truly let ourselves think that we might actually be having a baby. We'd been disappointed too many times before. Still, I can't say I was all that surprised when other problems arose. First came the insulin dependent gestational diabetes. That resulted in four shots a day, constant monitoring of my blood sugar, a special diet, and two biophysical profiles and non-stress tests every week. I practically lived in the radiology department of the hospital.

We thought that might be the end of the problems. I mean what else could possibly go wrong? Well, a prematurely deteriorating placenta, of course. It happens gradually throughout every normal pregnancy, but mine was going way to fast. Then came the oligohydramnios and the Intrauterine Growth Retardation. My little guy stopped growing. He miraculously made it to 37 weeks and then was delivered by emergency c-section.

All of Hollis's problems in utero may explain the problems he had later on. Hollis had severe reflux. It took us awhile to figure out what was going on. I mean, all babies spit up, right? And lots of babies are fussy and colicky, right? When our pediatrician suggested reflux, we kind of hemmed and hawed at her offer of medication. Then the power puking started. Every single meal came up. Almost all of it. Every time. And Hollis started arching away from me when I fed him. Breast or bottle, it didn't matter. He screamed while eating and after eating and when he was hungry, which was all the time because of the puking.

Hollis started taking Zantac. It didn't work.

Our pediatrician suggested a milk protein intolerance. We tried some soy formula. It didn't work.

Hollis stopped eating.

We had to carefully monitor and record exactly how much my little guy drank and peed and pooped. After a horrible day when Hollis was 2 months old and had only taken in 2 ounces of fluid the entire day, we made an emergency trip to the on-call doctor at our pediatrician's office. He had me feed Hollis in front of him. Hollis ate one ounce of formula & then refused to continue, screaming his little head off. The asshat doctor then suggested that the baby sensed I was "uptight" and I was causing his problems. He told us "babies don't refuse to eat. They just don't." So therefore it must be something I was doing wrong.

Right, genius. Babies never refuse to eat.

I immediately took matters into my own hands, calling every pediatric gastroenterologist within 100 miles to get the earliest appointment possible. Tests were run, formula was changed, medications were added. Nothing worked. Every day was a fight to get just enough fluid into my baby to keep him from losing weight or at least keep him hydrated. By this time, even the sight of my breast or a bottle caused frantic screaming and thrashing. Hollis was 4 months old.

When Hollis began to drop on the growth chart (he was only in the 3rd percentile when he was born) and was regularly refusing more than 6 ounces of formula a day, he was hospitalized. His pediatric gastroenterologist wanted to run more exhaustive tests on him and have him evaluated for a feeding tube. A feeding tube. For my 4 month old baby.

Holding Hollis down while they put in his IV and took blood was the worst thing ever. The next time the technician came by to get more blood I made my husband stay and I went for a 15 minute walk, shaking the entire time. But I didn't leave the hospital for a week. I slept in the chair beside Hollis's crib, snuck showers in his bathroom, and had T bring me clothes. I wasn't leaving my baby there alone.

Hollis had every test known to man. I can't even remember them all, but the one that scared me the most was the head ultrasound. Why? Because his head size wasn't even on the growth chart, he was considered slightly microcephalic. The doctors didn't have many answers for us beyond a severe feeding aversion caused by reflux. (Well, there was another scary problem, but I don't want to go into it here.) The doctors told us it's a lesser known complication of reflux and not rare by any stretch of the imagination. (So much for the genius doctor who told us that babies never refuse to eat.) Hollis's doctors put him on a special amino acid based formula that had to be ordered through a medical supply company, at an outrageous price, and it still didn't help.

Hollis just didn't eat.

We had weight checks every week. If Hollis's weight dropped too low, a feeding tube would be inserted. We worked with a speech pathologist specializing in feeding disorders in infants, including food aversions. It didn't help. We latched on to the hope the GI gave us that Hollis might do fine once he switched to more solids. His digestive system was more mature and he might not associate solids with that white liquid that made him feel so bad. Once Hollis started solids, we would start seeing a pediatric nutritionist to help maximize his caloric intake.

We were lucky. Hollis loved food. We were actually forced to accelerate his intake of solid foods, going against conventional wisdom, because once Hollis discovered solids he refused formula completely. He weaned himself at 8 months and REFUSED to drink anything even resembling formula again. But he was eating.

At 12 months, I spent more than a month teaching him to drink milk again. We started with his beloved apple juice (maximizing calories, you know) and added a tiny bit of milk, increasing the amount each day until he was drinking milk. It worked.

By 14 months Hollis had stopped throwing up completely and by 16 months he was off of his medications. My little guy's horrible nightmare was over.

So what does all of this have to do with what makes me a mom? I'm a mother because I worried the whole time.

I'm going to have to say "we" worried because my husband was an equal player. He's a good dad because he worried about Hollis and he worried about me. But we never gave up. It simply wasn't an option. We didn't take the easy route and have a feeding tube inserted. (Of course, you can bet it would have happened if my little guy had needed it.) We kept trying, and tried some more. We did everything we could to make sure that Hollis ate and gained weight. And somehow we didn't make his entire life or our entire lives about Hollis and food.

Looking back on Hollis's first year, I wonder if I have some inkling of how the mother of a child with an eating disorder feels. Anorexia and bulimia in a teenager may create a far different parent-child dynamic, but I think some of it is the same. I felt helpless and no matter what I did, I could not force my child to eat. And once he ate, I couldn't make him keep it down. And, of course, there's the worry.

Still, I think I've blocked a lot of the fear and frustration from that first year out of my mind. It's easier to remember how sweet Hollis was and how he was always happy and smiley, unless he was eating. I realize that many parents face far worse with their children. Our problems with Hollis pale by comparison. But still, I think nothing makes you understand that you are a MOTHER more than worrying about your child.


This is part of the "What Makes You a Mother?" Blog Blast by the Parent Bloggers Network and Light Iris. Head over and check it out. If you'd like to participate, you can find the information here.

Parent Bloggers Network - Light Iris Blog Blast

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A Letter to Two New Moms
Photo by Celeste MassonAmazing woman #1 is my cousin C and one of the most adventurous women I know. She's traveled the world, shaved her head, modeled, learned massage in Thailand, eaten a gigantic spider, and given her heart and had it broken. She's got so much love to give. C's new little girl was due several days ago and C has had some serious contractions over the last 3 to 4 days. Hopefully, by the time she reads this she will be a mother.

Amazing woman #2, another C, is the sister of one of my best friends. She had health problems and endured more than one major surgery while she was in medical school. Unfortunately, those surgeries have left her unable to bear children. After 3 IVF cycles, she and her husband decided to adopt. It happened faster than anyone imagined. They got the call on Saturday, met the biological parents on Sunday, and left the courthouse today with their new 1 week old baby. I couldn't be more thrilled for them if she were my own sister.

There are just a few things I'd like to tell them both.

Dear C and C,

This first week will be hard. You will be overwhelmed with emotions you've never felt and fears you've never imagined. I promise you, this is completely normal. You won't get much sleep for the first eight weeks or so, but sleep whenever your baby sleeps. And if you want to hold the baby during naps, do it. Don't listen to anyone who tells you "shouldn't" do anything. Breastfeed or don't. Co-sleep or don't. Do what comes naturally and try not to doubt yourself.

You will doubt yourself. You'll doubt yourself in a way you, as a confident woman, never have before. But it's OK. Just pretend that you're confident in this whole mom thing and before you know it you will be. I promise.

Time will pass too fast. In a few weeks, your baby will be smiling at you, and then rolling over, and then walking away from you. Treasure every smile, every sleepy sigh, every moment. And takes lots of pictures. You'll never look back and think that you took too many.

It will be amazing. You're going to love that little person like you've never loved anything before. Your love for your baby will consume you and it may be scary. That's OK too. Just let it happen.

You get to grow a person! You get to shape the values and mind of that amazing little being. It's a big responsibility. But you'll do a great job.

You will be overwhelmed. Every mom is overwhelmed at some point and it will happen to you too. Just remember that it's OK to step back, to take a break, to ask for help.

There's a whole world full of women who know exactly what you're going through. We understand and we'll listen to you and offer advice. We'll bond with you in line at the DMV, the grocery store, in elevators, and on sidewalks. We may know you for a lifetime, meet you for 5 minutes in passing, or just pass you in the aisle at the store with a smile, but we get it. We instantly understand.

We're fellow Mommies. Welcome to the club. We've been waiting for you.

Lawyer Mama

Photo by Celeste Masson


The Good, The Bad, and The Mommy Blogging
There's been a bit of a discussion in the blogosphere about how we Mommy Bloggers tend to put a negative spin on our parenting experiences. Girls Gone Child asked all of us to talk about why we're good parents. Her Bad Mother has an excellent post up about it, as does Gingajoy. And they have a point. Self-deprecation is the new black, at least it is when it comes to parenting.

I think that all of this negativity is part of a backlash created in part by the unreasonable expectations thrust upon mothers over the last 30 years or so. We are, by so many people, ourselves included, expected to be perfect. As modern women, we must be able to handle a demanding full time job, juggle the complicated social and activity schedules of at least 2 children, be an amazing and supportive wife, keep the home fires burning and our kitchen floors spotlessly clean. I won't go into why exactly we buy into this crap, but the pressure is there.

There have always been some writers who are willing to bare all their flaws for an amused public. Erma Bombeck comes immediately to mind. But this bad is good thing is a relatively new phenomenon. Now, it's hip to be bad.

I don't necessarily think that all this blogging about how difficult it is to be a mother is a bad thing. We can all be the most amazing of parents, but sometimes it's just damn hard to be a mom. Parenting involves a complete identity shift. After 30 years or so, it's no longer all about "me." Now it's about "the baby." That shift can be difficult under the best of circumstances. But, if you are anything like me, you'd rather rip your nails out one by one than talk about how you yelled at your 2 year old to your co-workers around the water cooler.

For me, and I think many others, blogging about the bad parts of motherhood is cathartic. After a lifetime of striving and pushing to achieve, it's nice to finally feel confident enough to say, "Hey, look at me! I'm running around naked! And I don't give a damn what you think." (Or maybe I do give a damn, but I want to know that I'm not the only one showing off her cellulose to God and everyone.)

Let's face it, blogging about the bad is also far more entertaining than blogging about the good. No one want to listen to someone wax on and on about what a great mom she is every day. If a co-worker did that to me, I'd be tempted to sneak into her office at night and leave a nasty used diaper in a filing cabinet. We get enough competitive mothering out there in the real world. Yes, everyone loves a happy ending, but you have to have some conflict along the way or no one wants to read the story. You know what I mean?

But I do think that Girls Gone Child, and HBM, and Joy have a point. I do tend to write more about my failings as a mother than my successes.

Like, Her Bad Mother pointed out in her post, you don't see all of me on this blog. You don't see me reading book after book after book to my little guys and loving it. You don't see me playing chase with the boys for 2 hours on a rainy afternoon to keep them entertained and happy. You don't see me calmly pick up a thrashing toddler off of the floor in Target and walk with my head high to the car, leaving my unpurchased booty behind in the name of consistent discipline. You don't see me confidently questioning my child's doctor when I don't agree with a treatment, or crying with him when he gets a shot.

As a mother, I rock.

I worry, yes. I feel occasional guilt about working, second child syndrome, not keeping my scrapbooks up to date, and letting my kids eat Cheerios off of the floor. Hell, I even compared my struggle with motherhood to a near death experience.

How sad is that?

These neuroses are only part of me as a mother. But, like many introspective people, I tend to spend more time naval gazing about my flaws than my strengths. In my defense, I have written a few posts about how motherhood has changed me in a positive way. Looking back through my archives, these are some of my favorite posts. But the positive posts are far outweighed in sheer number by the negative. I would like to change that.

After all, I started this blog as a sort of record for my children. I don't record just their milestones, but how their lives affect me. I would hate for one of them, looking at my blog posts at some point in the future, to think that I regretted motherhood or that I completely f'ed up. Hell, they'll probably think that anyway from about age 10 to 20, so why help them out?

So, I'm going to try to focus on some of the positives about being a mom. After all, who wouldn't love being a mom to this:

and this:

I'm going to make a conscious effort to show you all why I am a damn good mother. Consider this my first submission.

Won't you join me?

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Interview 3.0 - Gunfighter
I apologize for the posting drought lately. My kids were home sick half of last week and half of this week. So that of course means I've had tons of free time to blog. Baaaaahaaaaa! Seriously though, regular posting will resume as soon as everyone is healthy again and I've regained my sanity.

In the meantime, Gunfighter of The View From Here recently offered to interview people. I interviewed him awhile back and decided some table turning was in order. Gunfighter's blog is always insightful and thought provoking so I thought he would come up with some good questions. He didn't disappoint:

You live in southeastern Virginia, yet you used to live in the Washington, DC area... why did you leave Washington?, and what made you settle in the Tidewater?

I really did love D.C. I loved the restaurants and the museums and the politics and the sports and the bars and, did I mention the restaurants? But...I was working insane hours for a boutique law firm, T was traveling constantly and we had a baby with some health problems. I think the realization that we needed to move hit us when Hollis was 4 months old and he was hospitalized for a week. I just couldn't keep up the pace at work that I'd been running before I'd had a baby, at least not with T doing the same thing. We decided one of us needed a new job.

Now, the easy answer would have been for me to move to an in-house corporate counsel position or to a government job, but T really wasn't happy in D.C. He's a farm boy. He grew up in SW Nebraska in a very small town with lots of wide open spaces. He felt very penned in in the D.C. area. He probably would have stayed there to make me happy, but we thought moving out of the D.C. area would help us find a little more balance in our lives. T's company was opening an office in Virginia Beach so T began a systematic campaign to woo me to SE Virginia. After a few weekends on the beach and some time looking at the housing prices here, I was sold. We unloaded our house in Falls Church for an insane amount of money and moved.

The Tidewater area was really the only viable option for us, aside from maybe Richmond. I didn't want to take the bar in another state, I didn't want to change my area of specialty, and T didn't want to look for another job. He loves what he does. Basically, T had been following me around for my career for the last 10 years, so it was time for me to make a sacrifice. We do like it here. It's different, but in a good way. And, of course, a beach is always a good thing!

Do your relatives that are in the military share your views concerning the war in Iraq? If so, are any of them considering leaving military service because of it? Are your views at odds with said family members, and has it caused any familial strife?

This is complicated. The short answers are yes and no; yes; yes and no; and yes. I'll have to break this one up into categories of relatives!

B: My brother (who is going to Iraq later this year) does share my views. It's funny, because he was much more conservative when he was in the Army on active duty. After a few years and some distance, he's been becoming increasingly more liberal! B's views on the war don't have much to do with being a Republican or a Democrat though. It's that B has served two tours of duty in Bosnia, he's had friends die, he knows what war really means in a way that many of us simply can't. Sometimes I wonder if the fact that I have loved ones who could very well die in battle colors my views, if I opposed the war from the beginning because of that danger. But that's definitely not the case with B. He's one of the bravest people I know.

Last year, B had actually decided to get out of the National Guard. He knew it was only a matter of time before he ended up in Iraq and his active duty friends who had served in Iraq were telling him to get the hell out (including the wife of a good friend of my brother's who died last year). My brother reads this blog, so I don't want to speculate too much, but I think that he stayed in, knowing he would be sent to Iraq, because he feels guilty about surviving. Maybe I'll get B to do a guest blog on the topic. I know I'd love to see him write about it.

Mom & Dad: I have to admit that I'm not entirely sure what my parents' views are on the subject. My dad has been retired from the Air Force for quite some time and both my parents tend to be pretty conservative. It may seem odd that we don't talk about it, but I don't want to cause any hurt feelings. My mom tends to think that I look down upon her because of her political views. That's not the case, but she takes my disagreement with her views rather personally. That being said, I'm almost positive that she is against the war. And she's freaking out right now. I can't even imagine preparing to send one of my little boys off to war.

T: Some of T's friends and co-workers read this blog, so I'm not sure what he would want me to reveal. I know that he isn't always candid about his views because he works in the defense industry. So, I'll just say that I'm married to a Republican. It is probably *the* most significant source of strife in our marriage, but we don't often argue about Iraq. There's no need. I'll leave it at that. He has considered leaving the Navy reserves. He was activated once after September 11th and it's only a matter of time before it happens again. T would be absolutely devastated if he had to leave the boys for any lengthy period of time, but he'll have been in for 20 years and can retire with benefits next year, so we're playing a numbers game right now.

Other relatives: I have a lot of very conservative relatives who have never been in the military and have no idea what it means but still feel free to espouse their views about what a great thing we're doing in Iraq. I just don't go there with them. When one of them packs a child, a brother, or a parent off to war, then we can discuss it. Until then, I don't consider their views significant or relevant. It may sound harsh, but that's what I truly feel.

What kind of law do you practice? Do you practice privately or in a large (or small) firm? Do you know Denny Crane?

Ooooh! If I were anonymous, I'd have to refrain from answering this because it would then only take about 5 minutes to find me on Google. But since that genie's out of the bottle anyway, I'll answer.

I'm a civil litigator. I do mostly government contracts and construction litigation, with a tiny bit of commercial litigation and maritime law thrown in for good measure. Most of the cases I handle are fairly complex and involve reams and reams of paper. It's exciting stuff. Really. I really do like it. Plus, construction litigation is a male dominated field and I have to admit that I *love* being underestimated by opposing counsel or an opposing expert because I'm a woman. That's part of the thrill!

I practice at one of the largest firms in my area, but it would be considered mid-sized in D.C. I think we have 75-80 lawyers.

One of the partners here has a great William Shatner story!

Your children's names both start with H... what's up with that? Is that a family thing? or do you just like H's?

Happy accident. T actually chose Hollis after he'd shot down every one of the 2000 names that I'd proffered. We weren't planning to do the matchy match thing with the names. Although Holden was on our final list of 10 names or so, T had already shot it down when we were naming Hollis. But when he was born he just looked like a Holden to us and "H&H" was born. (They'll probably hate us for that when they're older.) Holden is a family name (on T's side) and Hollis is not but people always ask us if Hollis is a family name. Or they tell us about the girl they know named Hollis. T hates that.

Oh, and one of our cats is named Hilly. So it's really funny to watch us run through the names when we're trying to yell at someone. "Hill- Hold-Hollis! Stop hitting Hilly-no, I mean Hollis - Oh for God's sake, you know what I mean! STOP HITTING YOUR BROTHER!"

If you could, with a wave of your hand, accomplish one thing, no matter how trivial or profound, what would it be?

Organize my life? No, actually I think I would end poverty. I think most of the world's evils can be traced back to poverty and elimination of that would be a good start to a just world. It wouldn't be the end, but it would be a good beginning.

Of course, if anyone would like to be interviewed by me, send me an email or leave me a comment and I'll get right on it!


Lawyer Mama
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