The Tune-up

copyright 2001 by Susana Rosende


Being a single mom can be overwhelming sometimes.

For instance, recently, as usual, it had been a long day. There was an efficiency expert at work fueling rumors of layoffs, the cat was lost, the dogs were barking, my teenager's boom box was blaring Metallica, and I'd barely walked in the door and kicked off my shoes when I started making dinner. After repeatedly calling the kids to wash up and help set the table, I felt myself starting to "lose it."

When my eight-year-old finally came to the kitchen, I warned, "Joey, I'm getting angry!" Immediately, he ran to give me a big hug and kiss, accompanied by "Mom, I love you!"

I felt myself melting as I returned the embrace.

Seeing my smile, Joey commented, "Aw Mom. All you needed was a tune-up!"

He was right. Moments like these are what keep me going.

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Too Heavy for Heaven

copyright 2002 by Susana Rosende

I have made many half-hearted attempts to lose weight this year. Taibo classes, dog-walking, Slim Fast, Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, aerobics. Of course, I didn't begin half-heartedly. Eventually, though, my attempts just lost momentum. It seemed all my exercise and dieting routines were interrupted for one reason or another: night class, work stress (translated stress eating), surgery, the kids' schedules, whatever...

Now the clothes in my closet can fit seven women, as they range in size from 2 to 14. But my expanding waist line hit it's circumference peak last night, when I barely squeezed into size 14 shorts. Could it be? Size 16! Ah, will I EVER wear size 2 again? (I never thought I'd hear myself say this...but, I'd settle for a 10!)

I should have listened to my nine year old, Joey, last September and taken his words to heart.

Soon after the tragic terrorist attacks, I was scheduled for a business trip. Joey's fears made me cancel it, but when I told him I wouldn't be flying after all, he was philosophical rather than grateful.

"You know Mom, even if you did die in a plane crash, I know you'd never leave me."

"That's right, Joey," I murmured, "I'd be forever in your heart and mind, and you in mine."

"No, Mom," he replied, "I mean you'd never leave this house. I'm sure you'd haunt the place."

"Oh really?" I laughed, surprised at his imagination.

"Yeah, you'd NEVER go to Heaven."

No longer laughing, I asked, "Joey, why do you say that?"

"Because, Mom," he said, "You're too heavy to fly up there!"

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Like a Prayer

copyright 2001 Susana Rosende

When searching for our lost cat, Cera, my children and I knocked on the door of a home where the family often broke into spontaneous prayer, standing and joining hands to thank God or make a specific request. Our search for Cera was an opportunity for such a prayer, and we were invited to join in.

Taking our cue from the family, we joined hands, bowed our heads, and closed our eyes. The father began his prayer, "Dear Lord, bless this cat and its family. Keep this cat safe from harm and help it find its way home. Bless this family and help it stay strong in its search for their cat and in their faith in You," and closed, "Thank you, Lord, for the opportunity to meet this family, who are also Your children and our brothers and sisters. And help them bring their cat home safe. Amen."

Immediately after the prayer, my 15-year-old, Brian, exclaimed, "Wow, that was cool, Mom!"

Then, to my chagrin and embarrassment he added, "Why don't we pray like that at home?"

As everyone awaited my response, eight-year-old Joey piped up, "We don't have time!"

We never DID find Cera, but we credit her for our meeting a family who taught us that family prayer need not be limited to church or mealtime grace. For as long as we make the time to pray, God will take the time to listen.

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It's a Craaaazy World

copyright 1997 Susana Rosende

When Brian was in Kindergarten, both sets of parents turned out for his first parent-teacher conference.

Greg, his stepdad, and I arrived, along with Brian and his baby brother, Joey. Michael, his dad, also came and brought his wife Carol. When Brian's name was called, each of us grabbed chairs to sit in a half-circle across from Brian's Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Smith, who handled the spectacle of four parents for one child with aplomb.

Afterward, when we joined the other parents in admiring the drawings displayed around the classroom, a small boy who was watching our "family," called out: "Brian, how come you have so many moms and dads?"

Brian rolled his eyes and sighed. In a weary voice he answered:

"Because it's a CRAAAAAAAAAZY world."

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(Note: Graphics courtesy of Original Country Clip Art by Lisa.)

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God' House

copyright 1997 by Susana Rosende

When Brian was 18 months old, I gave birth to his baby brother, Sean. Following the advice of the New Sibling Class instructor and friends, his father and I prepared Brian for Sean's birth. We exposed him to babies and the concept of siblings. We named the baby and talked to my belly, encouraging Brian to do the same. We purchased a "big boy bed" for Brian, and prepared the crib for his new baby brother.

Then, Sean was born with Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia or CDH. Numerous attempts were made to save Sean's life, including surgery and a flight to an out-of-state children's hospital, but Sean did not survive. When it was time for me to go home from the hospital, I gently explained to Brian that Sean wouldn't be coming home with us, because he was in Heaven with God. Because Sean was already a part of our family, his father and I kept a small framed photo of newborn Sean in our bedroom.

A year later, Brian's father and I divorced, and Brian and I moved to my parents' home state. I again kept Sean's small framed photo on my bedside table.

When Brian was three years old, he heard a baby crying during Mass. He turned to me excitedly and asked, "Mommy! Is that Sean?"

Surprised at the question, I whispered, "No, Brian."

Brian persisted, "Is Sean here?"

I again whispered, "No."

Then Brian exclaimed, "But, Mommy! You said Sean was with God, and we're in God's house!"

With a lump in my throat, I struggled to answer and finally said, "Church is God's house on earth. Sean is in God's house in Heaven."

Satisfied for the moment, Brian stopped asking questions, and I marveled at my inquisitive child, so wise beyond his years.

When Brian was six years old, I gave birth to Brian's little brother, Joey. Looking forward to bringing his brother home, Brian asked his step dad, Greg, "Is the baby coming home this time?" and Greg assured him, "Yes, he is!"

When I brought infant Joey to Brian's Kindergarten classroom, Brian happily showed him off. And when asked how many siblings he had, Brian responded, "I have two brothers. One in Heaven and one on earth."

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(Note: The beautiful Angel graphics were emailed to me by friends. Artists are unknown to me.)

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Your Ami, My Ami

copyright 1997 Susana Rosende

When the kids were young, and I was married to Greg, we were invited to my uncle's 40th wedding anniversary party in Ft. Lauderdale. I always enjoyed seeing my Tio Carlos, my dad's twin brother. He has the exact same voice and mannerisms as my father. Although they are fraternal twins, rather than identical, they look enough alike to play tricks on others and enjoyed doing so as children. We were also invited to visit my other Cuban relatives in the Ft. Lauderdale/Plantation area of South Florida, as well as those in Miami.


From left to right, my father and my uncle.

I was looking forward to introducing my children to their cousins, but my husband longed for an "adults only" weekend. He also didn't relish a three-hour-plus-drive with a six-year-old-and-infant-in tow. Realizing my husband's need for a quiet weekend, I eventually relented, although I knew I'd miss the kids at the family reunions.

My son, Brian, had overheard our discussion about the trip. He thought he could use my ambivalence to his advantage.

He asked his step dad, "Greg, why can't I go to Your Ami?"

Confused, my husband responded, "Brian, what are you talking about?"

Brian argued, "Everyone in the family is going to Your Ami but Joey and me! We want to go, too!"

Then we realized Brian had heard, "My Ami" instead of Miami. Greg, his parents, and I laughed.

Then Greg's parents, who were entrusted with our kids' care, diverted Brian with their plans for the weekend, and My Ami/Your Ami was forgotten.

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Smart Kids...Smart Mom?

copyright 2003 Susana Rosende

A neighbor who knows my kids asked, "Susana, how come you have such smart sons? Did you marry smart men?"

Without missing a beat, I replied, "Well, yes, I did... but I'm smart, too!"

She laughed, "Of course, but I KNOW fathers have a lot to do with it," the "it" meaning the intelligence level of children.

Although I defended my "intelligence genes," I admit to sometimes finding myself in situations worthy of an "I Love Lucy" or "Laverne and Shirley" sitcom.

The following scenarios are prime examples:

THE UMBRELLA

While crossing the office parking lot one morning, I felt rain, and turned around to retrieve my umbrella. Upon reaching my car, I unlocked the door, dropped the keys in the seat while reaching under it, triumphantly grabbed the umbrella, and slammed the door. Then I realized that YES, I was prepared for rain! However, my keys were locked in the car.

THE SPEEDING TICKET

When I was commuting a two-hour round trip to college, day care, and two jobs, any traffic delay was a major obstacle. One day I found myself behind an incredibly slow truck driver, and decided to pass him and whoever he was trailing. As I sped up to pass the truck, I found myself also passing the state trooper in front of him. The officers laughed when they saw the surprised look on my face, and promptly pulled me over. They were still laughing when they asked me to step out of my car and walk a straight line. They could not believe a sober driver had tried to pass them. Unfortunately, they also felt the humorous situation warranted a serious ticket.

THE ANTHRAX SCARE

Once I came home from work to find my mailbox full of dirt. When I inspected it more closely however, the dirt seemed more like powder, and as was the media-induced paranoia of the day, I feared Anthrax poisoning. But before I called the police, I noticed the house was a mess and shouted for the kids to help me clean. While Joey helped vacuum, my eldest, Brian, refused, stating, "If it's REALLY Anthrax, the police should be called right away. If it's not, the housecleaning can wait til morning. I'm going to bed." The sweeping, mopping, dusting, vacuuming, and uncluttering took 45 minutes. The police determined heavy winds forced extra dirt into the mailbox. No one came inside to judge my housekeeping.

HARD BOILED EGGS

While making the kids eggs, toast, and bacon one weekday morning, I tried to save time by microwave-boiling Joey's egg. Needless to say, the microwave exploded, and the egg, and bowl it was in, shot out like a speeding flying saucer. Luckily, nobody was hurt. But the microwave did not survive.

Yes, I have smart boys, who are not only "book smart" but have common sense.

It's a good thing I married smart men!

Images courtesy of:

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Pig Teeth?

copyright 2003 Susana Rosende

Years of antihistamines and lack of dental insurance contributed to periodontal disease, despite my diligent brushing and flossing. But, they say humor can get you through anything in life. When I opted to NOT be sedated during the second phase of my periodontal surgery, the surgeon chose to relax me by quipping funny lines.

"Are you heartless, Susana?" he'd say. "You're hardly bleeding!"

I'd giggle at the appropriate times, as much as I could, with my head back and mouth held open as the surgeon pulled back my gums, cleaned up the infection, then scraped the roof of my mouth and transplanted the extra skin on my gums.

Happily, he didn't do a bone graft (from my hip or something too gross for me to imagine--freeze-dried cadaver bone) to replace the bone loss in my jaw, but instead installed fetal pig teeth buds to stimulate bone growth.

"Will you grow pig teeth?" asked my son, Joey.

"No, just bone," I said aloud, while thinking to myself, 'I hope!'"

Then to my dismay, I snorted loudly as we laughed together.

Stupid Cartoon Theater presents Too Much Brushing but No Flossing

Images courtesy of Free Clipart Archive

About Periodontal Disease

Dry Mouth and Tooth Decay

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