Friday, July 20, 2012

No brain, no pain

Its so hot the kids lollipops melt outside
Mama is home in good ole South Carolina, USA and for five long sunny weeks! I have been waiting for this vacation for a year but what I was most looking forward to was finally getting my nasty, repulsive toenails fixed.

Yes, of course I could get a proper pedicure in Amsterdam but a) I never seemed to have the time b) it has been such crap weather I had no need to show my scummy feet and c) it costs much more in Amsterdam than in SC. So I decided just to hold off until vacation, but I knew the first thing I had to do was go straight to the nail salon and get some work done before I made anyone puke.

After arriving, I decided to lie in the sun for a bit and then go to the salon. Ahhh, sunshine...a pleasure I had not experienced in so long. I just basked, baked and fried. Yes, I forgot all about my white girl skin and sat in the sunshine without applying any sunscreen. Stupid!

So after about a half hour, I felt my knees sizzling and sat up to see the most horrific legs and feet were the color of a pack of raw hamburger meat. I somehow managed to hoist myself out of the sun, unable to really bend my knees. I looked down at my poor feet, my toes looked like red sausages with a piece of yellow corn stuck at the end. I didn't think my toenails could look any worse. I had no choice I had to go to the salon and get some help.

I finally made it to the salon and before I knew it, I was putting sitting in the massage chair and putting my feet into the warm foot bath. HOLY SHIZZLE STICKS, it felt like I was sinking my feet into a burning oven. It took my breath away. The sunburn was causing my feet not only to swell but pulsate from the pain. I knew I had to suck it up and keep going...there was no turning back. The sacrifices we make for beauty or in my case, not to vomit at the sight of my feet. Desperate times, desperate measures.

The agony of feeling like I was burning alive passed and I was able to lean back into my massage chair. And I thought it couldn't get any worse. I could feel the massager run up and down my back...nice...and then it stopped in the middle of my back...and skake, shake. I guess for a normal person this would be ok, but for someone with double D's this is a nightmare. I won't descibe the image any further, but I quickly folded my arms over my chest trying to alleviate the situation.

By this time, this sweet tiny Asian girl sat next to me and began to pull my feet out of the pits of hell. Not sure what she said to her colleague and I'm not sure I want to know but it was probably along the lines of "Girlfriend, you owe me!"

I guess its because I never get pedicures that I totally forgot about the Scrubbing of the Feet and Legs. Normally I enjoy this feeling but when she took out the scrubber and began to scrub the tops of my feet I got the shock of a lifetime. I really almost wet my pants from the pain. She was scrubbing the burn off my feet. Yes, I should have told her to stop but it all happened so fast and I was speechless. And yes, I should have told her before she scrubbed up my shins but I was seriously having an out-of-body expereince. I can do this I thought...I have given birth, I can do anything. I am strong. And then I closed my eyes and started thinking about The Little Engine that Could book I read my kids before bed...I think I can, I think I can, I think I can...I DID IT!

She finished the Scrub and I was so numb from the pain I didn't even feel her give me a massage with lotion on my feet and legs. I just sat there, eyes closed and throbbing holding my breasts tightly while she performed miracles on my nasty nails.

When it was all over, I looked down and for the first time in almost a year I didn't cringe when I saw my toes. There is a God! I could now wear sandals and not have to curl in my toes. Unable to bend my knees, I waddled out of the salon...toenails first!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mama's First school trip

The Snot Noses singing at the The Amsterdam Music Hall
I am so proud of myself: I survived my first school trip as a chaperon! It may not sound like an accomplishment to most people but honestly, for me, I felt like I climbed Mount Everest!

First of all, I was scared out of my mind that either I would lose my own kid or lose someone else's kid. And well, I don't have a great track record when it comes to losing kids! Secondly, I am looking after kids that do not speak my language. I have to speak their language and God knows how insecure I am about speaking Dutch to such little critics. It's sad, but when I speak it to the Dutch kids, they always correct me. So, I had to be in top form and able to be quick so the little snot noses wouldn't escape.

And well, most importantly, I was worried about the judging eyes of "The Juffrouw"! Yes, Miss Juffy who all but said my kid was the worst behaved in the class. I just knew her beady eyes would be analyzing my every move and scrutinizing my parenting skills. I felt like I was getting ready to take a standardized parenting test and there was no handbook to study!

Of course I didn't get a wink of sleep. I spent the entire night imagining discipline-scenario-after-discipline-scenerio in my head. What if my son ran away, should I drag him back by the hair? What if another kid ran away, how should I react? So many crazy hypotheticals went around and around in my head until by morning I was exhausted!

So its my debut as Outsider Mama goes Chaperon and I am exhausted, wet and nervous and ready not for my Judgment Day! We arrive at the school all soaking wet from the typhoon we had to bike through and Juffy is waiting with "The List." She immediately runs over to me and reads off the three names I am responsible for: Naughty (random kid), Naughtier (my son's best buddy) and Naughtiest (my son)! It wasnt until she called out the assignments did I realize the other parents were assigned to 4 or 5 kids. What a humiliation! Juffy had no trust in me...she thought I could only handle three. The shame!

I sucked in my tears and decided I would show her! I rounded up my boys and told them they had to stick with me or I would call their mama's and they would have to go home. Naughtier spit right in my face! I had to think quick, This was not gonna be easy. So I pulled my boys to the back of the line. I made them hold hands and once the other mothers were out of earshot I dared them to even blink the wrong way!

They walked to the bus with no problem and everything went well at concert...I was on top of the world, I did it! We just had to walk from the bus to the school.

And I was just 20 yards from the school, we were about to cross the bike path when disaster struck. We followed the crowd across the path but I didnt think to look to see if bikes were coming. And sure enough, up flies a grumpy grampy yelling. Juffy immediatly turns around and sees it all. The old man is telling me off saying that I need to watch the kids correctly, blah blah. I was devastated, I was red and Juffy had seen it all! I could see her disapproving squint and the slight shake of her hed like a mother does when a kid does wrong.

I guess two of the other parents could see the shock on my face and took pity. They began arguing with the old man. They had my back! And in front of Juffy!

But, never-the-mind, I had failed. I knew I had failed when Juffy stayed close by for the rest of the walk back and even personally gave my boys an escort across the last bike path crossing into the schoolyard. But the funny thing was...I didn't care at this point. I had survived the most stressful two hours of my kids were lost and they sang in their concert. And the three Naughties told me goodbye with smiles! And that's a mother's highest seal of approval!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mama lost her baby!

For almost 2 hours, I thought this would be the last pic of my baby
It has taken me four days but I can now finally write about the worst two hours of my life. I lost my precious baby boy for almost two hours during a family outing to the beach this past weekend. He escaped my attention for literally two minutes and BAM he was off the radar.

We had just walked up from the beach to one of the "strand tents" as they call them here in Holland. It's basically a temporay retsuarnt/cafe on the beach. We had met some friends and we were kissing them hello (good excuse not to kiss anymore) and my four-year old vanished. It was that fast.

I have to admit I am a hawk when it comes to my kids and have been criticized by some that I need to even let go, give my babies more freedom. So when my baby boy disappeared, one can imagine how hard I began beating myself up.

I immediately looked around the outdoor cafe, in every nook and cranny that I could find. No snot nose anywhere! My heart began to beat so fast and the panic started. I ran over to our table and told Baby Daddy and he said "Don't panic, we will find him." Ok baby daddy said not to panic, I won't panic, this is his country he knows. So I thought fast and went to the manager of the restaurant and told him my son was missing.

The manager pulled me behind the bar and into his office and immediately called Emergency Services and reported my son as missing. Because I am psycho paranoid Mama, I was able to give a very detailed description of his clothes and even that he was barefoot with his jogging pants rolled just under the knee.
So within 10 minutes of the last time we saw him Dutch Baywatch (with temp crew member Baby Daddy) was out combing the beach for my lost baby boy.

Meanwhile, I was at the restaurant with our friend and her 4 month-old baby. I sat there for a few minutes and the panic started to creep into my thoughts again....I had to do something. The restaurant had dispatched a few of its staff to search the beach so I decided to go out on the beach myself. I couldn't just sit around and wait.

I frantically asked everyone in the restaurant if they had seen my precious and then journeyed out on the beach. And that was when it hit son had been missing for one hour at this point. Kids who get lost on the beach or run off are found by now. I knew the stories. I knew the stats. And I knew my baby was out there somewhere all alone or even worse...someone had taken him. Then I thought to myself, no one would take him it's Holland, its safe. But then again no one is really safe anymore.

I chocked back the tears as I thought about the last time I held him and smelled his fluffy blonde hair. I thought about his little mischievious giggle and his obsession with sharks. I couldn't be brave any longer, there was a chance that I might not ever see my baby again, ever.

I began to think about the parents who have missing children that they never find and I couldn't imagine going through the rest of my life with that feeling, that uncertainty. I began to blame myself...if only I hadn't turned my head to say hello to my friends...if only I had't agreed to meet them here...if only we hadn't come to the beach...if only I had been a better mother. I couldn't breathe. Someone had my baby and I would never see him again...

I wandered up and down the beach asking everyone I came in contact with and with each passing person my hope was diminishing. I tried to stay positive but as I made my way back to the restaurant I felt like I was going to die. I just wanted to skip ahead in time...or I wanted to go back and do things differently so my little boy was safe in my arms.

My stomach began to feel sick and I was about to collapse into a weeping ball on the beach when I got a call from Baby Daddy:  Hallelujah, Luca found HIS way back to the restaurant! My baby was safe and waiting for his Mama!

But instead of being overjoyed...I was angry! He FOUND his way back! WTF...he told my friends that he never left the restaurant (which later I found out was a lie). He was unaffected by his disappearance act...he was trauma, no lesson learned (because he did it again the next day in the park!)

I am sure my "newbie parent" friends thought I was a B-I-T-C-H because I didn't immediately cuddle my baby boy...instead I started in on him. Matter of fact, it took me about an hour before I could hold him. And I was still shaking two days after the incident and today I am still traumatized to tears when I think about what could have been. The first thing I did when I got home was eat a pint of chocolate ice cream. Screw all the emotional eating therapy...Mama was traumatized.

The positive thing is that by talking to other parents about it, I found comfort and I also found out that it takes maybe even weeks to recover. AND after almost two hours of beating myself up for being a bad mother realizing that I'm not a bad mother, it happens to even the best parents. But I will go back to my neurotic, psycho surveillance of every move my babies make until they are from under my roof! I would rather be a psycho then ever having that feeling again of a mother who has a missing child. Matter-of-fact, I think i will just "chip" my kids like the do for cats in this country...maybe a GPS chip...And maybe one day I will set them free, but in the meantime it's psycho for me!

Lessons learned:
  • Missing kids on the beach walk with wind and sun behind them
  • Holland has an amazing child rescue system
  • It's hard to stay positive in a real-life situation
  • Drill your kids on your address
  • Teach your kids a plan if they are missing
  • Unconditional love: You can love and totally want to ring your kids neck at the same time
  • Not to judge parents who keep their kids on a leash
  • Really read the missing kids adverts
  • Count my blessings everyday
  • Kiss my babies everyday and cherish every moment