Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts
Showing posts with label holidays. Show all posts

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Silent Day

Silence.


It’s golden right?


Silence.


I’ve craved it. Haven't we all?  As a busy doctor and mom, there’s always something in the background of daily living -- kids arguing, kids playing, kids giggling (my favorite!), the hustle and bustle of the life in the clinic, a shout of “mooooooooom” from upstairs or downstairs, the radio, the stove, the washing machine, the beeper, the pitter patter of fingers on my keyboard.  But, this minute, it’s silence. This hour, and for all the hours of today, it’s silence.


Right now, it’s feeling deep, dark, and deafening. I’m sitting on my couch in my house alone. It’s Christmas Day. I’m Jewish, so it shouldn’t feel sad or lonely. But, this is my first Christmas alone. I’m divorced now and my kids are with their dad. For the past decade, I adopted Christmas and it’s tradition of bringing families together. I cooked and baked and decorated a tree and made new traditions for my then-husband and kids. In those days, when I left work the day or two prior to Christmas, I said ‘goodbye’ to colleagues, wished them happy holidays, and looked forward to making my house warm for my loved ones and kids.  This year, I left on that last day of the work week with dread.  I savored the last few hours I had with my kids before my ex picked them up on Christmas Eve morning -- we snuggled in bed, watched tv, tickled and laughed. And then, they were gone.  And the silence set in.


That morning, I went to work as the ‘on call doctor’, seeing patients in urgent care, fielding pages from the answering service. And then about 1 o’clock, I left the office, got in my car, and wasn’t sure where to go. Others were out and about, finishing last minute shopping, or on their way to see friends and family (I presumed).  I stopped for coffee. And then I went home to The Silence.


Today, Christmas day, I slept in a little and woke to an empty house. I should be rejoicing. Free time to nap and read and sew and listen to music and clean my house is mine for the taking. Except, it just feels sad and lonely. The world is shut down today -- the stores are closed, there is no traffic on the roads, I have no where to be and I feel like an outsider again on Christmas.  My kids aren't with me on a day that is about family.


Late morning, I left the house for a bit to meet a friend and her family for lunch -- they are ‘in between’ religions, unsure how to celebrate this year after she lost both her parents in the last several months. I was glad for the company and an excuse to leave my house, and The Silence, for a little bit.  Her family welcomed me with kindness and warmth with an undertone of understanding that I am feeling like a woman without a country this year. Their hugs were warm, and lingered just a little longer than one might expect -- a subtle acknowledgement of the suffering they knew was behind my smile today.  


I have always known that the holidays are a hard time for people. Facebook feeds and tv ads are filled with the perfect storybook moments of families coming together on the holidays.  They don’t make commercials about the hearts of single parents breaking when their kids leave for the holidays.  They don’t tell you what to do all day when everyone else is home celebrating, and you are alone. No one posts a ‘’selfie” on facebook with a comment, “here I am all  by myself on Christmas. Happy Holidays everyone”. When I got a group text from a friend today, “Merry Xmas to all of you! Hope you are enjoying the day with your families!” I chuckled a little when I read it, and then felt nauseous, forcing myself to ‘stay positive’. My fairy tale family is split up and we don't fit into that cookie cutter holiday description anymore.


I don’t write this with self pity. It is more of a conscious exploration of this uncomfortable state of being. I am in a new chapter of my life. There are new realities that I need to accept about my life and my kids and my former relationship. I’m trying desperately everyday to be a mom who is present, navigating these treacherous seas for my kids and helping them get through it all, with all the usual background noise of work and schedules and a busy life.  While I should welcome today’s silence, I fight it and argue with it, and sit with it uncomfortably.  We are not friends.  


In a few short hours this day will end. We will all slowly get back to our routines. At the end of the week, I expect my house to be loud with the usual noises of kids and this heavy loneliness will abate for a time.  I’m hoping it gets easier someday.  

If you were lonely this season, I know how you feel.  No one has said that yet to me, but I'm going to say it to you. May the New Year bring warmth and light, joy and happiness. May we continue to harness our courage and strength to get through difficult times, and find ourselves better on the other side of them.  May silence someday feel golden and welcome, and envelope us with the promise of self care rather than with the dread of loneliness. I wish that for me, and I wish that for you, if you are out there and you know what I mean.

Friday, October 30, 2015

A Doctor-Mom Day Off With The Kids: Halloween Baking Project

Genmedmom here.

I don't know about other doctor-moms, but I have very little "free" time with my kids. Too often, a day off with them gets spent running errands or from scheduled activity to activity. I've found that I treasure unplanned, sort of spontaneous fun stuff, and I think they do, as well.

One recent weekend day, I found myself with both kids and a few free hours. Some groceries and sundries were desperately needed, so we piled into the car and headed to the nearby super-uber-market that sells everything cheap.

Before we entered the store, I laid out our basic ground rules:

No yelling, no fighting, and no running away from me.

If they could do all that, we would do a fun project.

So we did our shop, and I spied some halloween cookie cutters. They were purposefully displayed alongside theme sprinkles, food coloring, and decorator frosting. Hmmm...

I asked the kids what they thought. Two thumbs up! They excitedly helped pick out what they wanted to use.

When we got home, I made the kids wait until all the other stuff was put away, and then, we started. Babyboy only took part until the dough was made, and then he left with the spoon to watch "It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown". Babygirl owned this project.

Want to try this at home? Below, see our recipe, and photos of all the steps. Enjoy!

(And yes, the kitchen will be an ABSOLUTE MESS, there is no way around it. Flour, sprinkles, colored frosting fingerprints... and, it will have been totally worth it.)


Sugar Cookies Basic Recipe
Let the kids do as much as they can/want!

2 sticks unsalted butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups white flour, plus extra for rolling out the dough
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper, or, even better, those nonstick silicone sheets, they are awesome. Soften the butter, but don't melt. Beat the butter and sugar together with an electric mixer until really smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and beat again. Add the flour and salt and just blend slowly until no patches of flour are visible. Squeeze the dough together as best you can and plop it onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap it up and place in the fridge. While it is chilling, make the base frosting.

Frosting:
3 cups powdered sugar, plus more if needed
1 stick butter
up to 1/2 cup milk
food coloring

Soften the butter. Add some of the powdered sugar and beat. Add a bit of milk and beat. Keep alternating until the sugar is gone or mostly gone, and the consistency is creamy and very easy to spread. Leave it out until the cookies are ready to frost.

On a flat clean work surface, sprinkle some flour so the dough doesn't stick. Divide the chilled dough into thirds or fourths, and place on work surface. Flour up a rolling pin, and roll away. When about 1/4 inch thick, cut into shapes using cookie cutters.

When first sheet is full, place in oven and bake for around 6-8 minutes, until golden. These burn really easily. Repeat for the rest of the dough.

Cool completely. We decorated like this: We made several base colors from the creamy frosting, orange, gray and white. I spread the base frosting onto the cookies with a plastic knife, and my daughter then decorated the cookies, for the most part.

(FYI: We also had bought one bottle of liquid black decorator frosting, which we used for the black bats. We tried to use it for drawing and writing, but it was too liquidy. In addition, it tasted funky, and made the kids' poop greenish. Will not use again! I'm sure there are better homemade versions out there.)


Rolling out the sugar cookie dough and cutting out shapes

Yes, our kitchen is a disaster.

This girl is FOCUSED
I hope this black frosting isn't toxic.
Ta-da! (and yes, that is our cat's butt on the counter)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

The Gauntlet

We have entered the time of year I call The Gauntlet because I feel like I am running through one. Historically, this refers to two rows of men with sticks and other weapons that who beat the person who runs in between rows. In my house, it refers to early October to late February. During that time, we celebrate Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, both Blurs’ birthdays, the Super Bowl (yes, it is as important as these other holidays), Valentine’s Day, and my birthday. It seems most of the kids in Blur1’s kindergarten class were born in the fall. We have soccer for both Blurs in a fall and basketball for Blur1 in the winter. In addition, holiday schedules for me and the busy season for Hubby where he works many Saturdays. Between now and December 1st, with normal activities of school, work, and religious school, we have something every day except the seven days I took off for Thanksgiving to travel to my parents’ house; everyone knows this kind of vacation is no vacation.

By the time, we hit February, I am sick of cake, having made and eaten several because the Blurs’ birthdays are 10 days apart and want cake on their actual birthday as well as at school celebration and at their party. For Valentine’s Day, I ask for flowers only as we still likely have Christmas candy (and to be honest, Halloween candy too, if I didn’t go on a rampage one day and throw it all away) still around. For my birthday, I ask for dinner at my favorite local restaurant and I make my own cake (not sad, as I love to bake and am ready for cake again after 3 weeks of no cake) which we eat with the Blurs before going to dinner without them.

I cope mostly by overplanning. I have a Word Document that keeps me organized - presents bought, menus from prior years, locations for birthday parties, etc. I make great use of my freezer and pantry and have already started buying for special dinners and foods. My Halloween costumes (this past weekend), candy (the minute it was put out) and plans (annual party) are all set. I start looking for Hanukkah-Christmas presents in July, start buying August and currently, I’m mostly done with that shopping for the Blur1 (Blur2 being the 2nd kid is always harder to shop for). I know what I’m doing for Thanksgiving (traveling or not) in July and if I’m not traveling, my Thanksgiving dinner is bought the week they put those turkeys out in the grocery store. I have a gathering on trick-or-treat (kid friendly dinner with a couple families at my house and then the kids trick-or-treat in my awesome neighborhood) so that I can decline all other Halloween parties. I buy birthday presents at Christmas sales, usually the week after Christmas but sometimes before. The birthday parties are booked around Thanksgiving but actually take place late January. If we do something for New Year’s Eve (rare because I usually work), it has to be low-key and kid-friendly and in years past has involved the same families as the Halloween trick-or-treat party.

I am somewhat envious of those of you who can just go with the flow and buy Christmas presents on Christmas Eve and “let traditions happen”. I get anxious. I had all these wonderful traditions and my mother made it look so easy. Like my father, it never crosses Hubby’s mind what presents the Blurs should get or what to serve for Hanukkah dinner or even to buy groceries for said dinner. Hubby, for his part, does a lot of the day-to-day home stuff - laundry, dishes, bathtime, bedtime - so it’s not like he doing nothing. The Blurs do get time with us, which I know you’re thinking they want more than a fancy dinner, but they do have to eat.

So if you see me in the store this week, buying Hanukkah supplies (or lamenting my uber-Christian area has Christmas stuff out but not Hanukkah stuff), buy me a Starbucks, because you know I need one.