Dripping River Water

Love

Because it has been too long February 10, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 5:54 am

Was August really the last time I posted something here? 

It is February and the months have passed by like busy bees.  I am writing again.  My goal is one sentence each day.  I figure if I commit to just one sentence it would be out of pure laziness that I’d fail.  I was lazy yesterday.  Not lazy, just filled the day with running here and there, tending to my kids and trying not to focus on my lack of sleep.

I am trying to form a writing habit again.  I am trying to take myself seriously again.  I was depressed for so long.  I look back and I could see the heaviness that took a hold of me each day.  That it is not there seems a bit of a miracle.  I broke through.  I am thankful.

Writing fills me, it clears my mind and heart, words dance around me.  Everything is a story.  Right now I am just taking it all in.

I am not sure if this blog is something I want to still keep.  Maybe I should start fresh and build another one.  There are stories I want to share, there are subjects I want to research.

I am a late-bloomer.  Almost 39, so not too too late.

the end. 

 

Are you still a writer when you stop writing? August 1, 2013

Filed under: life,writing — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 5:56 am
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A couple of months ago I started to have visions of a story. I wrote and the page came to life. I felt normal again or should I say I felt like myself again, my old self who wrote everything down and dreamed big. I took the kids to the babysitter; I took my computer to a cafe and I sat and wrote while I drank coffee and a ate bagel. It was just like the old days in Brooklyn. It was the first time I took the kids to the babysitter to write not to take one to a doctor’s appt, not to go to work, not to clean the house. I took them there to write and I wrote and then…my computer crashed.

I didn’t even cry.
I just stopped writing.

Am I still a writer since I don’t write anymore? I am not sure if this counts. It’s the first time I have written since my computer crashed two months ago. I know other writers have gone longer not writing but how does one go back to writing?

I will tell you the truth.
I am scared.

What if the words dance on the page again and there is a flow and something bad happens, even worse than a computer crashing?

What if I can’t produce anything?

What if I write junk and I think it is beautiful?

What if I just write?

I love being a mother. I just don’t know how to be a writer mama or a mama writer. Which one is better?

**********************************************************************
Before I went to grad school for writing I checked out other grad programs.
Social Work
Non-Profit Management
And probably something else extremely boring.

I was too scared to just do what I love to do: write.

Since I’ve become a mother I have considered other careers:
Copyediting
Baking
Hairstylist
Life Coach
Therapist for women with perinatal depression
Urban Farmer

Why don’t I just write?
What is wrong with me?

I am almost 40 and I am wondering how long I will struggle with this.

*********************************************************************

It is the holy month of Ramadan. For the past three years I have not fasted because I was 8 months pregnant with Omar, then I was breastfeeding Omar, then I gave birth to Azalea. I am still breastfeeding but I am fasting this year. It is humbling and wonderful and I love Ramadan. One of the things I love about Ramadan is that with 16 hours of fasting I have plenty of time to appreciate all that I have, all the gifts God has given me and my family, all the time I get to spend with my kids and less time thinking about myself in a negative way. Sometimes I fail and when I do I pick up the Qur’an and there is always something to read that will remind me of what is important.

It feels like I have been working on myself for my whole life and I have just realized that I will probably die working on myself. That in itself is a blessing and that I am able to write about is even a bigger one.

I guess I just answered some of my questions.

the end.

 

That Type of Mother March 29, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 4:21 am

I was a sickly child, colds with high fevers.  Mami cut garbage bags into shirts to make me sweat it out.  She also made circles to put over my back and chest out of big brown paper bags; she rubbed Vicks VaporRub on them like her mami did.

I remembered this as I put blankets on my son after he fell asleep.  As I was reading him a book he asked for more medicine.  He either has a cold or bad allergies; I had already given him Claratin and Chinese herbs.  I then remembered the Vicks VaporRub, a staple in any Caribbean Latino’s home.

There are things that are so different with my kids than how I was raised.  We live in a house for one thing.  I let my son play by himself in the backyard.  I watch him through the window as he sits in his plastic jeep without a battery contemplating life.  He waters the garden and comes in to play.  I let him get dirty; I brush off his knees when he falls; I dare him to not be scared and he isn’t.  We have books and instruments and we spend lots of time in the kitchen cooking and baking.  I let him stir and pour ingredients.  When he acts out I ask him if he needs a hug.  He says, “lo siento” and I forgive him.  My kids watch my husband and I kiss.  They see love between us sometimes they see us argue-I would like to stop that one.

The things that are the same is the lessons taught in manners and ways to be.  I sing them the same lullabies my mami sang to me.  We talk to our family, we eat rice and beans.  I teach them about Cuba and have started to tell them about my childhood.  My mami was the first person to teach me to pray as I have taught my children.  It may not be the same prayers or in the same ways but I am building their love of God just like my mami did with me.  There are hugs and kisses and I love yous.

When I look into my children’s eyes I see their love for me.  That look reminds me that being a mother surpasses any other occupation I’ve ever had.  I sometimes don’t feel the same when I clean or do their laundry or change their diapers but when I hear their laughter and play the drums with them I feel content.

I was a lonely child.  My mami swept as I told her stories but she didn’t listen to them.  When I find myself absorbed in my own thoughts or what I am reading on the internet while my child is talking I stop myself.  I know I can’t be perfect but I don’t want them to remember me not being there for them.  I want them to know I go through various emotions but I don’t want them to think they have a crazy mother.  I want to be stable and loving and someone they could trust and turn to.  I want them to think I am beautiful.  Maybe I am being vain but I want that.   I want to teach them about life and have them understand me.  I want to not judge them or hold them back or be resentful of their mistakes and choices.    Maybe I could do that.  Maybe I could be that type of mother.

the end.

 

After heart surgery March 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 8:45 pm

My daughter is home now.  She acts like nothing has happened.  There is a scar down her chest.  Not such a straight line from her collarbone to beneath her nipple line.  Each time we changed the dressing in the hospital they told me it looked good.  I didn’t believe them but then thought it could be worse.  There could be puss or blood or who knows what.  Azalea sits at the kitchen table eating black beans and gnaws at some broccoli.  She pretends that she didn’t spend five days in the hospital, a couple of them drugged up on morphine.

It is surreal.  I check her breathing constantly.  I am waiting for something to happen.  It won’t, inshaAllah.

I started writing stories about asking the world to pray for her.  I never finished them.  I didn’t have time before her surgery.  I asked everyone who I knew; everyone I spoke to; I even asked the two Jehovah Witnesses that came to my door.  You never know who’s prayers God will listen to.  Even the people who don’t pray and just have positive thoughts, I asked them to share their positive thoughts with my daughter.

Azalea smiles a lot and even laughs at my baby jokes.

I slept most of the nights at the hospital.  My son, Omar, had to adjust to not have me in my bed to cuddle up with when he woke up in the middle of the night.  One morning I came home right around fajr; I prayed and crawled into his bed and held him in my arms.  I still hadn’t been able to hold Azalea with all the tubes and wires coming from her body .  He woke up and said, “Mami.”  His smile and eyes showed his surprise.  I missed him.

I am with my kids everyday.  They are part of me now.  I am unsure how to be without them.  I lost a part of myself and then gained so much more.  I wonder what kind of mother I will continue to be.

the end.

 

Azalea’s heart January 10, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 11:02 pm

I read recently of a mother who took pictures of her daughter’s chest before her first open heart surgery.  Azalea’s skin, unblemished, no bruise or cut in sight will have a scar down her chest.  She will be sewed or bonded; I am not sure what they will do.  I wonder if I should take pictures of her chest as well to show her how she looked like before…

When she is sleeping I feel for her heartbeat.  Sometimes I can’t feel it.  I think it’s my imagination playing with me.  I press harder.  Then I make her move.  She doesn’t wake up but her arms or feet move from side to side.  I think all mothers do this to their babies.  I do it because she has a complex heart and I wonder if one day it will stop.

At this time a week from today she will be out of surgery, inshaAllah.  She will have the Glenn procedure.  Azalea was supposed to have it at the end of November but my stepdaughter came to visit us and she was sick; she gave it to my son who got bronchitis and he gave Azalea a cold.  Alhamdullilah.

I told my friends and they felt bummed for me.  I wasn’t disappointed.  I was grateful.  During that time I took a tincture to help my milk flow and it worked.  I started exclusively breastfeeding for a month but then she never gained weight so I am supplementing with formula.  I finally gave in after reading about another mother in a similar situation who was told that formula was first created for medical purposes and this is definitely a medical purpose.

Azalea, Nov 2012 Ardenwood

Azalea, Nov 2012 Ardenwood

Now Azalea is almost 6 months old.  She is small.  People comment and I want to tell them she has a heart defect but then there will be that awkward silence.

When I have a chance I read blogs by other moms of “cardiac babies”.  These babies and their acronymed heart defects.  So many of them.  It overwhelms me.  I can’t get it all straight sometimes.  My writer’s mind wants to block out how a heart looks and functions.  I just know how it feels.

Azalea has a single ventricle heart defect and a grand transposition of the greater arteries.  But she looks fine.  Anatomy changes and every time we go to the hospital for an echocardiogram I imagine that the technician will bulge out his or her eyes and say, “I can’t believe it!  Her heart is normal!  It’s a miracle!”  That never happens.  I don’t get mad at God.  I keep on praying for help.

My husband is taking an online biology class.  He told me that he was studying birth defects.  Her heart didn’t form the way a “normal” heart forms around the time she was 5 weeks in gestation.  I think back to that time.  What did I do wrong?

Maybe I am just too self-centered.  Maybe I am making it all about me.  But I wonder if there was something I did or did not do that made her heart complex.  I wasn’t ready to be pregnant with her and I was angry about it.  I feel guilty about that.

She lies beside me kicking her feet on the floor, smiling and cooing.  I love her.  When she is on my lap pushing herself up to stand while I hold her hands, I look deep into her eyes.  I want to hold that moment forever.

the end.

 

On mothering and not falling apart September 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 12:24 am

A few weeks ago I wrote a post that took me an hour to write.  I wanted to link a video and I somehow erased it.  It was Azalea’s birth story.  Maybe one day I will write it again.  For now I will tell you that I had a VBAC (Vaginal Birth After Cesarian)  now known as a TOLAC (Trial of Labor After Cesarian).  Why they changed the name, I don’t know.  I will tell you that it was fast and easy.  Alhamdullilah, God answered all my prayers during labor.  It was painful.  Not Azalea trying to push out but the terrible back labor I was having.  It was like something was trying to take my tailbone out without any mercy.

She was not blue, not her skin but her eyes-the color of blue slate.  She was born beautiful.  Black hair.  She doesn’t really look like me.  She looks like my husband.  Both my kids do.  MashaAllah. 

Azalea spent the first 8 days of her life at Children’s Hospital.

I never got that 40 days of rest.  It’s ok.  I hated it at the moment but it’s ok.  I had to walk from the car to the hospital, up and down the hospital to make sure she had insurance.  I hardly got sleep and it was weird not having my daughter home. 

I have a daughter with a complex heart but she breathes.  Her heart beats.  She smiles.  Azalea loves the water and lots of sleep.

There were mothers who were not able to hold their babies at the hospital.  I was there all day holding her.  I am thankful for that.  I am also thankful for speaking English, for being educated, for knowing that I have to be on top of her healthcare.  You can fall through the cracks.  Translations aren’t always true.  You may want the best for your child but not know how to ask, how to demand it.  These mothers were fierce.  They stood beside their baby’s incubator wearing purple gloves touching fingers and toes.  I never saw them cry.

I couldn’t imagine living in another country and going through this.  I couldn’t imagine how it would be not to be a fluent speaker, not to have my closest friends or family around, nor an understanding of how to navigate the system.

I am blessed.

Azalea’s brother, Omar, will be 2 in 2 days, inshaAllah.  He loves the baby and gives her too many kisses.  It is difficult for him to share my milk.  He thinks he owns my breasts and I have to keep on telling him they are mine.  It makes me think of how I have to raise a boy just right to always respect women and not feel a sense of entitlement.

I want to be constantly writing but I am constantly just trying to keep up.  I am trying to stay focused and positive.  Azalea will have surgery at some point, inshaAllah.  Maybe in a couple of weeks, maybe in a couple of months.  My family talks about miracles.  That makes me cry.  I don’t want to ask God for too much.

I want my daughter to feel all the love around her.  I want her to explore this world and have a deep connection with God.  I want her to be grateful.  I don’t want her to worry, nor self-pity.  I want her to be strong.

Sometimes I am not strong.  There are days that sometimes is often but that is changing.  My kids can’t have a mother that falls apart.

the end.

 

Azalea Approaching July 20, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 12:44 am

I am counting the days now.  My due date is the 25th.  I wonder why I am counting since it may be more difficult when she is out of my my womb.  Azalea does odd dance moves and her head makes pressure on my pelvic bone.  I practice yoga before going to sleep; loosening my hips and lower back with each position.  I am scared.  I must be honest.  I can’t fully remember my labor with Omar, just that it was long and I felt out of control.  Almost two years later I feel less of a need to be in control.  I know better now.

My friend’s heart is broken and I texted her yesterday to check-in.  I know all about broken hearts.  She was grateful I thought of her even though I am dealing with a lot of tests in my life.  Tests?  In that moment I did not feel tested.  I was grateful to have that reminder.  When I first found out about Azalea’s heart condition I felt tested.  Now I feel at ease.  I just want to be a good mother to her.  That is one of my goals: to be a good mother.  My life has changed so much.  I still want to work on my book, I still want to perform but now I just want to feel the accomplishments of being a good mother.  No one will write an article about that.  That is ok.  The newspaper clippings about my work are stuffed in a box in the closet.  They do not come close to the smiles of my children when they feel my love and belief in them.

Ramadan is almost here, inshaAllah.  I am sad that I won’t be surrounded by my friends during iftars.  I am sad to not fast.  It will be a different Ramadan for me but that is ok.  Whatever it will be like is how it should be like.  I am glad she will be born in a time when there is so much awakening and love surrounding her, inshaAllah.  I am looking forward to meeting her whenever that will be.

 

the end.

 

Thoughts on Being a Mother July 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 10:27 pm
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The other day I thought of Coco Fusco.  I don’t know why.  I always liked her art although I couldn’t understand her book, English is Broken Here.  I was still grateful that someone was doing performance artistry and academia in such a beautiful way.  I could never be as smart as Coco Fusco but I do hope one day I could have her motivation and determination.  That is one thing I have realized while spending so many hours at home caring for my child: I let fear keep me from succeeding in ways that were possible for me.  Now I am a stay-at-home mother and I feel like I have to start all over again.  I can do that, inshaAllah.  You make a mistake and you start over.  It’s like riding a bike but I learned how to ride one when I was 30 years old.  Call me a late bloomer.  I don’t think I have blossomed yet.    I have planted my own seed this time, I am starting all over again and this time I will work harder than before, inshaAllah.

I take parenting seriously.  I am always thinking of ways I can cultivate my child to be the best person he can be.  I read an article about Coco Fusco’s parenting in this new website on motherhood called Mater Mea.  She stated this and I felt we were on the same page:

What kind of man do you hope your son becomes?

I want him to be a thoughtful person and a caring person, a moral and an ethical person who understands right and wrong and wants to do good in the world and treat people well. I also want him to be a person who’s happy with himself, who accepts himself as he is and accepts others as well. I think that’s really important. I don’t want him to be narrow minded; I want him to be an open-minded person. You know, we talk a lot about these kinds of things and I try to find ways to talk that he will understand.  -Coco Fusco

My friends came over and gave me a break yesterday.  Hana took Omar to visit her in-laws and Kathy took my stepdaughter, Ella, to the movies and back to her place to make almond milk.  They both brought me food.  I was and continue to be so grateful.  I have friends that really love me and support me.  I didn’t nap but watched a movie with my husband.  He took a break from tiling the bathroom and schoolwork to spend time with me.  I hope I could be as good to others as they are to me.  I hope that my children will demonstrate the same kindness and thoughtfulness that my friends and family display.

I have two more weeks to my due date.  I am glad it takes this long to have a baby.  I am finally at peace and looking forward to meeting my daughter.  I know that “my life will be on hold” for more years to give the best care for Azalea and Omar.  I sometimes struggle with that.  I feel not that intelligent, not that motivated. I feel very simple and not myself.  I feel bad about complaining because it may seem I am not grateful.  I want to give to my children but I also want them to see my strengths and I hope that will influence them to be good citizens in this world.  I know I can’t have it all at the same time.  Some things have to be sacrificed during certain points of my life because it is not just about me.  I am not aiming to just please myself nor sacrificing myself fully for others.  I want to think of what benefits everyone: myself, my family, my friends, my community, society-at-large.

There are moments that I feel alone but then I read articles and see my friends and laugh really loud and cry while I pray and I know I am not alone.

 

the end.

 

Why I still nurse my 21 month old son May 15, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 4:37 pm
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This is not Omar but it sure resembles him.  Adam would not like me posting a picture of me breastfeeding.  Thanks www.mommajorje.com for this pic.

 

 

I really wanted to stop when he was 18 months old.  That was the plan.  I started to wean Omar when he was 15 months and it was really difficult.  I was still in my first trimester, pregnant with my second child-a bit crazy.  I am not the sanest of pregnant women.  I realized after experiencing it twice that I have perinatal depression.  It sucks.  I am much better but it still sucks.

I couldn’t take him crying and screaming and begging for my milk.  I was alone in the house with him and I thought knocking my head through the wall would be a better option.  I never did that.  I just stopped trying to wean him.  Without the physical support from my husband or anyone else I couldn’t do it alone.

I cut down on the milk by having him fall asleep in the car instead of in his bed while I nursed him.  I took him out to the parks more often and he would forget about my milk supply.  All he wanted to do was play.

I had somewhat of a break.

My mother came to stay with us for a month and a half and I thought surely that would be the best time to wean him and potty train him.

I was wrong.

I found out while my mami was here that my unborn child has a single ventricle heart defect.  I went to get the ultrasound by myself and knew when the technician wasn’t so cheery telling me all the details as she moved through examining my daughter’s body parts that something was just not right.

I began nursing my son more.  How could I not indulge him?  I weaned him from night nursing.  It only took one night of him crying and yelling at me for an hour while I sat patiently next to him.  He still wakes up a couple of times a night.  I lay next to him and pat him on his back.  I mainly sleep in his bed.

Sometimes I go to this playgroup in my neighborhood.  The mothers are Chinese, Vietnamese, Mexican, Guatemalan, Moroccan and Eritrean.  It is a diverse bunch that sometimes splits off by language.  I go between the Latinas and Muslims.

The Asian women were surprised with my big belly.  Omar was 9 lbs and 1 oz when he was born.  I am only 4’11 1/2.  This belly is smaller than when I carried him.  They tried to give me more food because I am eating for two.  I told them, three-I still feed Omar.  They gasped and then got on my case about still nursing him while pregnant.  I nodded and smiled.  The polite thing I’ve learned to do when people give me unwanted parenting advice.

I haven’t gone back.

Now I am in my last trimester and stay home when I am not at the three doctor’s appointments I go to weekly.  We go from room to room, to the backyard and sometimes go on walks in the neighborhood.  Being so physically close to me is a great reminder for Omar that I can still give him milk.  He asks more often and I nurse him.  Not because he wants it but because I want the opportunity to lay down, read a book and maybe take a nap.  Sometimes he wakes up around 5 in the morning.  I am so exhausted in the morning that I make him go back to sleep around 9 A.M.  I can only do this if I nurse him.  We sleep for another two hours and I thank God for this precious gift of milk.

Knowing that I may be in and out of the hospital because Azalea, my unborn child, may need heart surgery right after birth I figured I would still nurse Omar through this process.  I won’t be home as much and I want to be able to bond with him when I am home.  I want to hold him like a baby and tell him that I love him while he nurses and looks into my eyes.

By Islamic standards it is a great benefit for the child to be nursed until he is 2 years old.  2 years 4 months the max.  I always told myself two years and then have wanted less than that because I am pregnant.

Sometimes it hurts.  My supply is low but it is still there.  I figure this is the best I could give him.  I can only pray that I will be able to give Azalea the same.  I don’t know if I will be able to breastfeed her.  I don’t know what she will drink.  If she will latch.  It seems odd to me that a baby who will need so much nutrition may not be able to breastfeed.  InshaAllah that won’t happen.

the end.

 

 

Everything on the line April 29, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Maceo Cabrera Estevez @ 8:34 pm
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My husband put up a clothes line for me.  Our backyard is in shambles.  He is demolishing the back unit that we thought we would rent out to pay for most of the mortgage.  Unfortunately, we found so much mold and termites that we could never have someone live there.  Now there are boards and pieces of walls knocked down.  There are nails all over the ground; I have to watch where I step carefully.

I don’t like to be in the backyard right now unless I am drying clothes.  It reminds me of being a child.  In our small apartment in Brooklyn we only had a washer between the sink and the stove in the kitchen.  In the spring and summer I would help my mother dry the clothes by putting them out on the line from the windows of our bedrooms.  In the concrete backyard  there was a big pole that had spokes to connect a clothes line or two from each apartment.

As a child I color coordinated our clothes line.  I pretended to be out in the country somewhere; the sun shining on my face, wearing an apron with a pocket big enough to hold all my clothes pins.  I pretended to be somewhere else and now as I put each article of clothing on the clothes line I am reminded of all those memories.

There is something peaceful when you let yourself be present in your chores.  I stop complaining and start smiling.  I take the moments to hear the birds chirp and the planes go by.  I watch my son play on the small trampoline and enjoy his laughter.  I then want to do more like water the plants and take out the weeds.  Then I imagine a backyard like I always wanted with flowers and vegetables; bunnies and goats; a swing and some toys; the barbecue going and some company.

Alhamdullilah.  I live in a house with my family, I have bad days and good days.  I take showers with hot water and have a fridge full of food.  I have friends who care and parents who I talk to almost every day.  It’s beautiful, really, to be given a life and try to understand what everything means.  My learning lessons are sometimes hard, sometimes I am the one that makes them the most difficult.  I cry a lot, when I think of all the mistakes I’ve made.  Then I try to forgive myself.  Then I try to present.  Drying clothes on the line helps.  Thank you.

The end.