Author: Karen Mickley-Gomez

Living out loud

Some years ago, I was on the phone with my friend Joanna from Philly.  As she filled me in on goings on at her office, in the background I could hear her boxer, Bella, making trouble. It sounded like paper was being shredded and Bella was alternately play-growling and victory-barking.  Joanna continued her update, undeterred, weaving in a few cheerful threats pointed in Bella’s direction.  It sounded something like this: “I never imagined running into this kind of thing in my career, you know? BELLA!  It’s just not something you’re ever prepared for.  BELLA, GIVE ME THAT!  I wasn’t sure if I should say something or just keep it to myself, you know?  BELLA, KNOCK IT OFF!  So I went home and figured I’d take a night to think it over.  BELLA, I SWEAR TO GOD!  This morning, I was still really conflicted about it.  BELLA, I’M GOING TO EFFING KILL YOU!!  So that’s kind of where things stand.” A decade later, I now find myself carrying on similar conversations with her while making thinly veiled threats at my own dogs and kids.  Much of pet and human parenthood involves managing multiple tasks and conversations like this at once, translating unspoken requests for animals and little people, trying to prevent illness and injury, summing things up in 10 words or less… Marriage and parenting require putting the needs of others above our own, and significantly changes the...

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Missing: One Toddler

  Name: Timotéo Nicolas Gomez Age: 2 years Eyes: Brown Hair: Brown Clothing: Hanna Andersson top, navy (or likely, no) pants Last seen smiling in April 2016.  This child can be further identified by giant flames which burst from his ears when a commercial interrupts the Little Baby Bum video he’s watching. Or by daggers that shoot from his eyes when they rest upon his mother.  He is also identifiable by a trademark right hook, which rarely misses making contact with his mom’s nose. About six weeks ago, my two year old disappeared one night. While I was resting with one eye and ear open, someone replaced my giggling, sunny, mommy-loving baby with an angry, whiny, destructive Little T doppelganger whose face contorts into a miserable grimace at the very sight of me. I heard about this Terrible Two phenomenon, but never paid much attention.  Our 8 year old was somewhat stubborn and a little oppositional at two, but either she skipped the part where she wanted her parents to suffer, or I have one hell of a selective memory.  Both equally possible. For the past month or two, when I get home after hubby has been watching the kid(s), T always seems to be whining as I walk in the door.  Jeff swears – every time – that T is “perfectly fine” until I arrive on the scene....

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Mommy is a big sh*t!

  I say a lot of stupid shit.  This isn’t news to me, I spend every day with myself.  Historically, most of my profane rants have been limited to monologues delivered in the privacy of my car, or tirades witnessed only by my dogs, who have been kind enough not to slander me. When I became an auntie, I started trying to watch my mouth and become more of a role model, with moderate success.  Later, as a step-parent, I again tried to curb my potty mouth and behave like a proper adult, as unnatural as it felt.  It’s possible that I didn’t make any discernable improvements in either department.  Most conveniently, however, when one has a child who divides her time between two homes, one can conveniently chalk up all negative behavior to things learned at the Other House.  Now, as the biological mommy of a toddler just learning to talk, I find myself once again considering a swear jar for the grownups in our home. I admit to worrying that my kids will adopt my more unorthodox methods of self-expression and decoration, although, theoretically, exercising our right to adorn ourselves with tattoos or swear (or both!) should not be barriers to success. Being inked up never prevented me from attending an ivy league university, landing a solid job, finding love, or being a good parent. Having said that, if I were interviewing elementary school teacher candidates, and a prospect rolled...

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Mother (hardly) knows best….

Over the past decade, I have worked hard to become a good nurse. Initially quite cautious, over the years I have developed confidence in my abilities, and now pride myself on remaining calm while fielding acute crises. Clinical judgement is equal parts education, training, experience, and common sense, and virtually no one is blessed with all of these components at once. It is imperative that medical personnel learn to separate the personal from the professional, so that our ability to provide excellent care is never compromised by our own feelings and fears. Luckily, this is something I have been able to master.  In fact, I’ve become so good at separating church and state that I can now completely forget that I have any relevant training when my own pets or children have medical issues. Web MD is currently the most popular bridge to misdiagnosis, however I have no need for such things.  My own head is fertile enough ground for cultivating worst-case-scenarios, especially where my loved ones are concerned. My first rescue dog Tucker averaged two vet visits per week. He was 12 when I adopted him, and suffered from multiple significant conditions – however, his biggest barrier to health and happiness was his owner. Malnourished when I adopted him, I promptly set about getting him “on track.” Within a few months, he was double the recommended weight for a cocker spaniel, and had an ass like Jennifer Lopez. Noteworthy, but not necessarily...

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Modern Family

Midway through the second trimester of my pregnancy, we went on a family trip to Philadelphia. While it may not sound as glorious as a tropical vacation, I’d lived in Philly for years after college, and it still feels like home to me. It’s a great little city with many kid-centric activities to entertain my 5-year-old stepdaughter, and wonderful old friends welcomed us into their home for a long weekend. We had a fantastic getaway, but just hours before departure on the last day, things suddenly went south. While killing time at the playground before a museum meetup, Lili landed off-balance dismounting from the monkey bars and fell. Jeff and I both saw her elbow hyperextend and bend backwards, and knew it was not good. Supremely brave, or shell-shocked (or both), she barely cried. Instead, she cradled her broken wing across her midsection and stood stone-still, eyes closed, complexion suddenly more vanilla than its usual mocha frappe. I called Anna to update her that we had to forego our playdate in favor of an x-ray, and asked where the closest urgent care clinic was. “Why would you go to urgent care when you’re a mile from CHOP, Karen?” she asked, clearly a seasoned local parent. I’d forgotten we were a stone’s throw from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the best in the country. My sister also worked as a pediatrician...

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