Pulling Away

Left alone, feeling a tenuous thread stretching taut skin over adipose tissue and tender flesh—pink, vulnerable womb empty; umbilicus severed; blood dried and brown. Perspiration beads on my brow, my breasts are heavy with milk. The letdown eases the waning contractions, starts to erase my recent memory of pain.

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A Son’s Death, A Mother’s Love

On March 11, 2017 I lost my beloved twenty-five-year-old son to the disease of addiction. He was a beautiful, creative and compassionate person with enormous potential. Receiving the call from the police that he was dead from an overdose was a nightmare no parent should have to experience. Driving to his drug dealer’s apartment to identify his body was not close to any situation I had read about in parenting books as he was growing up.

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Dogs and Cats and Nouns and Verbs

Two maxims come to mind when I think about parenting, maybe because I was pretty lucky until the teen years. 

In the early years, I didn’t need maxims. As a single parent, I needed support and friendship, child care, a good job, health insurance, and a bit of luck–all of which we had as a family.  

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Free to Be . . .

As a single parent most my children’s lives, my identity fixated on motherhood. I managed their successes, failure, moods and challenges. I was at the helm of our ship.
As they entered their teens, they described my steering as “stupid.” So, I shifted from captain to astronomer, helping them navigate by reading the stars. Taking a backseat was uncomfortable, and I bit my tongue (a lot!), rather than elicit another battle. I surrounded them with trustworthy adults, recognizing the same advice uttered from a different adult became morsels of wisdom in their eyes. As an astronomer, I had subtle influence

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Cradling this two-month-old baby boy in my arms, stroking his face, savoring the infant skin.

Wait, what is that? A gap, something in his jawline?

My heart races. I run my fingers gently over that same spot, the one that worries me, this time using my palpating finger more intentionally.

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Labor of Love

Push, push. You’re almost there. Your baby is almost here!

As a family medicine physician, I’ve uttered some rendition of that speech numerous times during my career. Yet, when the tables are turned, those words were less than comforting.

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A Hard Lesson in Humility

Matthew earned the nickname “Little Einstein” at eighteen months old, when he recognized the letter “T” and began announcing it at every opportunity. So when Matthew was selected for CLUES—his school’s gifted program—in third grade, it was no surprise. “Congratulations!” I said, pulling him into a hug. “I’m so proud of you!” Then I thought about the other students who weren’t chosen. Humility had been drilled into me as a young girl, and I wanted to pass that value on to my children. Quietly, I cautioned Matthew, “You know being in CLUES doesn’t make you better than anyone else, right?” 
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The Child Who Was Never Conceived

As we celebrate the joys and frustrations of parenting, let us pause to remember that parenting does not always happen. My wife and I tried to have kids but were not successful. Which is why I hope we can also celebrate the children who were never conceived.
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Lost Memories

Throughout my pregnancy, I didn’t know if I was having a boy or a girl–I wanted to be surprised. When my baby was delivered, the doctor yelled, “It’s a girl!” A daughter–what I’d hoped for! Although I would have loved a son equally, in all honesty I’d hoped for a daughter. I thought long and hard about her name, wanting something significant, and chose Olivia, which means peace, and Rose, because I had a passion for roses. Olivia Rose.

What do I do with that name now?

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Ruled by Angst

Even as a young girl, I lived by the rules. And in my work as a teacher, rules guided how I ran my classroom. However, as a single parent of a son and a daughter, I was never clear on the rules. Instead, I wandered through the maze of parenting, often losing my way and believing that no path would lead me to a safe exit.
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An Editor’s Invitation: Parenting

I just returned from a conference in Toronto. At one point, I was sitting at a table with three strangers–family physicians from distant locations. One was cradling a toddler. Another was visibly pregnant with her third child. Before long the four of us were passing around cellphone photos of our offspring, blessing one another with little cries of admiration.

That’s how long it took for us to go from strangers to intimate friends.

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