Saturday, January 28, 2012

Is there a Greek god of money?

Because if there is, he totally hates me.

I know this because mid-week I got an estimate from a painter to paint the main floor of our house, as well as the stairwell and upstairs hallway.  It was a very, very reasonable estimate so I said, "Let's do it!" and gave him a down-payment of a third of the total cost.

Thursday afternoon the lazy susan cabinet door hinge in the kitchen broke.  Fortunately, I had a brand new one (from when our other lazy susan cabinet door hinge bit it and I bought a pack of two which have to be special ordered and cost $42), so D was able to fix it Friday morning.

Thursday night, I noticed that the ceiling in our master bath above the toilet was wet.  It is never, ever good to have a wet ceiling.  Leaky roof.  I was able to get a roofer out Friday morning to fix it.  I'm waiting for the bill but I'm thinking in the neighborhood of $350-$500.

This morning, on my way out of the neighborhood, I realized I had a flat tire.  We had to have it towed.  Goodbye $82.  Once we got it to the tire place, we said good-bye to an additional $550 due to both of my front tires being flat and/or completely bald even though I get the fuckers rotated every 5,000 miles, the car needing an alignment, AND a new tire sensor.

I'm thankful we have the money saved to pay for this junk, but it sucks nonetheless to have all these unexpected repairs.  Time travel would be swell in times like this because I'd go back and tell the painter we'd set a date for April....when I've had time to recover a little bit from all these unplanned account drainers.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The things about being pro-environment I don't like

I strive to be as eco-conscious as I can without living as suckily as they did in the 1800s.  I turn my car off when I am waiting for a prescription in the drive-thru or at the bank to deposit a check.  I use cloth bags at stores most of the time.  I recycle every other week.  I do a local CSA.  I buy all my jeans at Plato's Closet rather than buying new.

But there are some pro-environment things about which I have serious issues.....

Like CFL bulbs, which suck.  Sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.  If I just have to run into a room quickly, it is not even worth it to turn them on because they are so stinkin' dim until they warm up (which may be how they are pro-environment....people just don't turn on the lights anymore, at all.)  Depending on the light fixture, they flicker.  Some people have an issue with the way they make paint look on the walls.  I'd just like for them to just work somewhat consistently---forget the paint.

And buying local, which is great in theory but IMPOSSIBLE if one has to browse and isn't finding the size she needs for her tall and thin husband (whose birthday is next week).  I have made two trips now to find something for him in his size, and I haven't found it at either store.  So I wasted gas and time, plus polluted and have nothing to show for it.  I could drive to a number of other stores, wasting more gas and time, polluting more AND having to attempt to shop with the Bobo Brothers in tow, or I could do as I just did which is order the wanted item in the correct size from L.L.Bean and have it shipped to my house.

I do use cloth bags as much as possible when shopping, but this means we have fewer plastic bags in which to throw cat crap when the litter boxes are cleaned.  I recycle all my bread bags and newspaper bags, but those are too narrow for poop dumping purposes.  And I refuse to buy bags just for disposing of animal feces.  If my cats weren't so old and set in their ways, I would switch them to the litter that disintegrates with urine and just scoop the poop and flush it.

Oh, I know these are minor annoyances--what one of my FB friends calls, "White People Problems," and I know I am fortunate to have them instead of actual, difficult problems that threaten my way of life and livelihood.

Now that I read what I wrote I realize I sorta sound like Rand Paul bitchin' about toilets and their lack of powerful flushing due to water conservation efforts.  I'll stop now.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The New Year itch

Just as my I Blow My Wad Too Soon post was not about premature ejaculation, this post is not about an STD.

It is about my annual bout of "I MUST DO SOMETHING TO THIS HOUSE OR I MIGHT JUST DIE."  It hits at approximately 12:01 a.m. every Jan 1, although I sleep through about 6 hours of it.  Once I am out of bed and fully awake, I become aware that I've caught it again, and the only cure for it is pulling some money from the home improvement fund and doling it out to others.

When I was a kid it seemed like my parents did nothing to our house.  I'm sure they did, but I also know that my parents are s.l.o.w. when it comes to spending money and/or making decisions that involve the spending of money.  They have loosened up considerably now that they aren't putting two kids through Catholic schools.

I find that I am more than a little eager to change things up and make improvements around the house, even though this is borderline insane since the kids tend to make the niceness of new diminish in under 20 minutes.  This has certainly been the case with our hardwood floors which we had installed in 2009. I keep repeating the mantra, "Those nicks and scratches are giving the floor character."  

It seems I have listened to my mother a bit since she has encouraged me to do things to our home when I get the notion to do them.  It seems that as one gets older, the desire to make home improvements often diminishes (my MIL has confirmed this as being her experience as well).  

My goal is to find a balance between living now and saving for later or the "what ifs."

I want to enjoy my home, and enjoying my home in 2012 means painting the walls that have 8 years worth of children fingerprints on them as well as the name Jennifer written in pencil at the top of the stairwell wall.  (Note to my daughter:  I know it was you since you are the tallest child and the only one who can print even remotely recognizable letters.  Duh.)

The painter was just here and gave me a very reasonable estimate given the amount of painting I am wanting to have done (basically our entire first floor).

I have found that when it comes to this itch, it is better to just scratch it and be done.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Sleep challenges throughout my life

My mom says I didn't sleep for the first 3 months of my life except when my dad would let me snuggle on his chest.  Fortunately, he was able to fall asleep in the recliner with me all warm and cozy on him.  Mom says that the first night I slept through the night, she and my dad both sat up in bed at the same time in the morning.  Mom asked, "Did you get up with her?," and Dad replied, "No, did you get up with her?"  Then they ran to my room because they knew I was dead.  Or at least that is how the story goes almost 40 years later.  

I guess I slept ok for some of my childhood, although I clearly remember the period of my life when the OCD started kicking in gear.  I remember checking the doors to ensure they were locked, checking windows, checking the basement, trying to push the anxiety of the night and the quiet away.  I remember when I could only sleep if I had the sheet pulled up over my ear.  I remember how I loved the attic fan because it made a terrible racket that I found quite soothing because it drowned out the silence of the house and the worry of my head.  

Eventually my sleep pattern settled down or the anxiety abated a bit and I slept well.

Since becoming a mom, my sleep has been shit.  I have been taking a half Unisom for years, every single night.  G still wakes me at least once a night, religiously.  The Unisom helps keep me drowsy enough that I can deal with him and fall back asleep.  Of course if I am experiencing stress, like the Girl Scout saga, my brain picks right back up as soon as it is awakened and I lay in bed for at least an hour just letting the ruminations do their thing.  I have stopped worrying about going back to sleep.....When will I fall back asleep? Will I ever fall back asleep?  

As I lay there, I have what amounts to a smallish panic attack.  My heart races, and I have trouble slowing down my breathing.  But I seem to have finally managed the anxiety of not sleeping.  I know that the panic will subside, and I will doze off again although it is entirely likely that soon after I fall back asleep someone will wake me again.  

When I feel especially run-down I take a whole Unisom.  Even though I sleep great, I am groggy and in a pretty terrible mood upon waking until I get 2 cups of coffee in me.  

I keep some prescription sleeping pills on stand-by mostly for when I have a bad cold.  I have found that if I take Unisom when I have a cold, it dries up my nose wonderfully but does nothing to help me fall  and stay asleep.  I guess the antihistamine is working so much on my sinus cavity it can't also do what it needs to for my brain.  

Eventually my children will stop waking me through the night and I will hopefully enjoy a few restful years before they begin dating and driving and I am back to sleeping poorly until I hear them come through the front door.

What becomes of them

I only taught for about four years.  I sometimes wish I had taught longer, but that would mean I wouldn't have my N or I would have had to start teaching prior to age 27, and I think if I had been a teacher straight out of undergrad I would have sucked.

For many years I didn't hear anything about former students.  Perhaps I was too busy with my anxiety issues and riding the learning curve of new motherhood to pay attention to the newspaper or anything much beyond my own four walls.

In the past six months or so, I have learned about the life paths of three of them.

One, a young male whom I briefly taught while student teaching, shot and killed himself in a McDonald's after confronting a girlfriend who worked there.  I was not in the least surprised by this because in sixth grade he was already quite a mess.  Constantly in trouble, terrible attitude, eager to fight with teachers and students alike.

Another, a young girl I taught, was recently selected for a local honor and featured in our newspaper.  I sent her a message on Facebook and congratulated her.  She has about 4 majors in college and is absolutely beautiful.  She reminded me of a book I read the students, a book about which I had completely forgotten.  It was nice that she had a pleasant memory of her time in my class.

This past week I learned of another former female student who was killed in a fiery car crash on her 23rd birthday.  I was, and am still, stunned and saddened.

I wonder about my former students quite often, hoping that their life paths have been mostly smooth.  I hope that for the most troubled of them I provided a safe shelter, a consistency they could rely on at least for a few hours during the day.  I hope that for the most promising I saw their talent and encouraged it.

It would be nice to learn about what happened to others, but at the same time, it is heartbreaking to learn of the ones who didn't make it or are well on their way to violent or criminal ends.

Ignorance is probably best.  

Friday, January 20, 2012

N's story ending

N brought home a paper the other day.  The assignment, at least as I understood it, was to write a different ending to a story she had read, Westward to Oregon by Patricia Pfitsch.  Her teacher had written "Outstanding Story!" at the top.  For a second grader, I thought it was pretty darn good--better than some of the stuff my former 6th grade students wrote when I was a teacher.

Lizzie was driving the wagon slowly.  She thought it would be better to go slowly for Papa.  "Go faster," said Mama.  "We better get there    the snow comes." she said as she rubbed water on Papa.  Jerimiah was listening to the wind blow.  Lizzie was trying hard not to go slow.  She knew the snow would come soon.  They were half way up the mountain.  Papa was still hurting.  "We are almost there!" Lizzie cried.  Lizzie kept driving.  Finally, they were over the mountain.  They could see the beautiful land.  They saw Mr. Jenkins and the rest of the people.  From their faces, Mr. Jenkins knew they had found Papa.  Everybody got something to cure him.

Yesterday I received my next magazine assignment to write about the early elementary stage of childhood, and I had nothing but good to say about N as a 7- (almost 8) year-old.  Her heiney hygiene may be lacking, but her writing is a good example of just how amazing this stage is.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Doing my children a disservice or giving them a great blessing?

I am now an officially trained, full-on Girl Scout troop leader.  I was surprised that the former leader said she didn't want to split the girls up and would turn over leadership responsibilities to me and my co-leader DV.  

The past two weeks have been pretty darn stressful.  I agreed to write an article for a magazine on a Thursday afternoon, and on Saturday morning my uncle passed away.  So the following week was a combination of 1.attending wakes and funerals, 2. writing articles, and 3. trying to figure out all this Girl Scout business and get trained.  

With all this going on, I started thinking about what example I set for my children and what high expectations I will have of them as they grow older.  At ages 7, 4 and 2, I think my expectations are age-appropriate.  But I know full well that as they mature I will expect them to, "Say what they mean, and mean what they say."  

I will also expect them to follow these guidelines in living:

"Your reputation and integrity are everything. Follow through on what you say you’re going to do. Your credibility can only be built over time, and it is built from the history of your words and actions."
— Maria Razumich-Zec

I had the thought that maybe my expectations are too high.  Isn't this a lot to put on a kid?  

But then it occurred to me that someone had the same expectations of me when I was young.  My parents were models of this behavior....if they said they were gonna do something, they followed through.  If they were going to do a job, they did it to the best of their ability.  The people who know my parents think highly of them because of their trustworthiness, their responsibility, their reliability.  I think the people who know me would likely say the same. 

And that is not at all too much to expect of my children.  

What pride and ego would like me to do, and what is really, truly do-able

So awhile back I blogged about my freelancing job, which I am now calling a job because it has become pretty darn regular.  And that's a good thing.

I have a regular column that I write in TF, plus when my editors like my pitches, I often have an additional article to write.

Last week, I got an email from the editor from another of these local magazines (there are 3 within the same publishing family) who asked if I could write an article for TW .  The deadline was tight--8 days--but I did it.

Yesterday I received an email from this same editor who asked if I would like to become a regular writer for the 3rd magazine, TT.

And while my ego went, "YAHOO!  I am AWESOME!," my heart and the intuitive pit in my stomach went, "Ugh."

Between my twice a week exercise class, my regular freelancing work for TF,  my position on the neighborhood board, volunteer work I do at N's school, piano lessons and now official Girl Scout troop leader, my months and weeks are plum full.  Plus, I have the boy' playgroups and all that regular ole junk associated with being a laundry and mopping and vacuuming.

I gave up going to monthly bunco and I gave up going out to dinner with a small group of friends who used to be in my MOMS Club group, which I was doing every other month.  G graduating from speech has freed up our Friday mornings.  But I am still very busy.

One of the best parts of being a stay-at-home mom, besides the awesomely comfortable uniform of jeans/sweats/yoga pants, is that I am in charge of the schedule.  I am my own boss.  If I don't feel like doing laundry today, I don't do it.  If I don't feel like sweeping, I don't.  Unless it is a doctor's appointment, if we decide we don't want to do it, we don't do it.

Committing to another writing job would ramp up my stress level and make me feel like I was edging further into the realm of things I have to do.  A nagging voice in my head kept saying things like, "This opportunity may not come around again," and "They are gonna think you aren't committed or a team-player."

I had to remind this naggy voice that I made the decision almost 8 years ago to be a stay-at-home mom, and I am committed still to this decision.  I had to remind the voice that the opportunity to be at home while my children are young will not come around again ever.  It truly is now or never for this.

I feel guilty enough about how little face-time I seem to give my boys when compared with their sister.  And this guilt would be worse if I committed to another writing job.

I really have to hand it to women who work full-time outside the home and manage as much as they do, especially when their kids are very young.  I just don't have it in me.  I sometimes feel that maybe this makes me weak and makes other moms who make different choices strong.

If it is weakness, I feel strong in the knowledge that I know what I can and cannot handle and act on this information accordingly.  

Sunday, January 15, 2012

I blow my wad too soon

You'd think I was a man writing about sexual problems.

But my problem has nothing to do with that.

Enthusiasm is great, and my general pattern is to be very enthusiastic about things I begin.  When I began my first "real" job at 21, I completed the 3-month training period in under a month.  I just plowed into the work and got good quickly.  Same thing could be said of my first years as a teacher....I like to think I was mostly stellar.  (My former co-workers can argue with this line of thinking, if they'd like.)

The downside of this trait is that I tire of things quickly too.  Being extremely gung-ho is simply not sustainable over the long-term.  One cannot continue to operate at this level forever.

Just like my other jobs, I think I've blown much of my mothering wad.

When I only had N, I was gung-ho.....overly gung-ho.  Deeply wounded when I had to be away from her.  Eager to engage with her almost constantly.

Now, two additional kids and almost 8 years later, I find myself easily distracted by my freelancing work.  I find myself spending time planning Girl Scout activities because it engages my mind in learning and educating others.  I religiously attend twice a week exercise class instead of doing music or exercise classes with my boys or taking them places to play as I did with N.

On the one hand I feel sorta guilty about this because I do not give as much of my focus to G and M as I did N.  I recognize that some of this is simply, "The way it is."  It would be impossible to give the boys as much of my time and focus as I did N.  Having three kids triples (at least) the amount of laundry, clean-up, food purchasing and preparation, etc.

I also recognize that it isn't always a good thing to devote so much attention to a child.  M, perhaps because he is the 3rd kid, is really good at occupying himself, and that is a great skill to have.

Finally, I recognize that after 8 years of doing anything, you get tired and bored and need to change things around....hence the freelancing and volunteering and exercise.  I know that working full-time would add more stress and be completely detrimental to me and my family, so I do what I am able to do to jazz things up for me without causing unbearable stress and still allowing my kids to be with me most of the time.

Lord knows, I am still very devoted to my boys.  We do playgroups and read together and snuggle and love on each other.  Based on how my boys act when I've been gone for awhile, they are truly "Momma's boys" who think I am the only one who can care for them properly.

I guess what I need to remember about myself is that maybe I'm not as gung-ho excited about stay-at-home mothering as I was 5+ years ago, but I don't give up.  I try to re-invent the days, switch things up to keep momma happy, and continue on with what I have committed to do.

And that isn't such a bad thing.  

Friday, January 13, 2012

The new turd 'round these parts

Today M screamed, cried, hollered "Mah-ee" (Mommy) and was a highly disagreeable little turd from the time I dropped G off for speech therapy until over an hour later when I went to pick G up and have his exit meeting (he has "graduated" from speech therapy with significant improvement in under a year----HURRAY!).

I ran into Target to pick up some photos I had developed, and the employee asked me if I had other shopping to do.  M was in his snowsuit, coat and hat, but had only his socks on because he had flung his boots off before I ever got him out of the car, and was flailing in front of the customer service counter whining and crying.  I looked down at him, looked up at her, and said, "No, I believe I am done." 

M is at that delightful stage where if I ask him if he wants something like a drink or his pacifier he yells, "NO!"  Since he has declined the item, I remove it which causes him to scream for whatever it is, as if he desperately needs it in order to survive.  But when I hand it back towards him, he says, "NO!"

This happens at least 4,000 times a day.

Like G at the same age, when he is completely pissed he bangs his head on the ground or on the wall and then runs over screaming even louder because it hurt.  

Lord only knows what sets him off but he has a maddening ability to just keep carrying on and on and on.  I thought for sure this morning he would eventually wear himself out and shut up but it was literally a full hour of screaming and fussing.  And, believe me, I was checking my watch....mostly because I had to pick up G from speech but also because I was waiting for the toddler torture to end.

It is hard to reconcile this raving maniac of a child with the sweet little one who asks me every night to sing him "Fiddle-I-Fee" (which he just calls "Fee") before I put him into his crib.  The one who adds all the animal sounds and then says, "Ock Bay-bee," which is his way of asking me to sing "Rock-a-Bye Baby."  The one who I hear at 5:00 in the morning going "HI-YAH" in his crib, apparently doing judo on the little Mickey Mouse stuffed animal that we keep in M's crib.

Given all the craziness that was G the last two years, I really don't know if I have it in me to handle this 2-year-old and eventual 3-year-old insanity.

Well, I guess I have no choice but to handle it, but it won't be graceful or pretty.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The common denominator is me (also titled: I can't keep my mouth shut)

Whenever I hear of someone who has married more than 2 times I think to myself that the "problem" with the marriages is likely the person who has been married the most times---either that person is a pita or that person continues to not learn from his/her mistakes and keeps choosing marriage partners who really aren't well-suited to him or her.

When patterns repeat themselves over and over again, I look for the commonality between the patterns.  

It has just dawned on me that I am now the common denominator.

Lord knows I don't want to rehash all the sh*t that went down with two of my neighborhood friends in 2008. (See minefield and rant)

In both of those situations, I stood up and spoke out for something I believe daughter and common sense.  And in both of those situations, I lost a friend, although the argument could be made that I wasn't truly friends with either of these women.  We were friendly because of a playgroup.  Being a parent sometimes puts you in close contact and "friends" with people you may or may not have been friends with of your own accord.

Moving along to this new situation.....

N has been in a Girl Scout troop since 2009.  I was due to deliver M in October of that year so I knew I wasn't up to leading, co-leading or doing much other than nursing a newborn and trying to keep my sanity intact since G was only two.  For the first year, my MIL took N to her troop meetings.

Once M got bigger and wasn't at my breast constantly, I started taking N to troop meetings, and I offered to help the troop leader as I could.

Over time I began to notice that the girls didn't seem to be working toward patches, and I felt and feel that this is part of the big fun of being a Girl Scout---setting a goal, doing neat activities and earning a patch to put on one's vest or sash.  There were also some issues with follow through---as in plans were discussed or made but nothing was ever actually accomplished.  For example, last summer the girls planted seeds with the intent of doing a community garden, but the troop leader never contacted any of us over the summer about actually planting the plants.  So the seeds sprouted, the plants grew for awhile and then all of us threw them out when they died.

Last year, two of the girls left the troop specifically because their mothers were sick of the disorganization of the troop meetings and that the troop wasn't doing anything to earn patches.  When I saw one of the moms a few weeks after they left at a school function she said, "You all don't know what you are missing.  This troop is so much better."

N very much likes the girls in her troop (one she has known and played with since preschool), so I didn't like the idea of abandoning the troop completely.  But I did ask the troop leader if I could plan some activities for the girls.

Since September I have been planning every single meeting for the troop.  In those few months the girls accomplished more than they did in all the months preceding (back to the late summer of 2009).

But I have been growing increasingly frustrated because when I'd ask how much money was in our account so I could plan some extra activities I was never given an answer.  In September I asked if we had registered the troop because I didn't remember filling out a form; this email got no response.  I felt like it was nearly impossible for me to be in the "know" for planning purposes if I'm not receiving emails about local Girl Scout events or getting answers to my questions.

The clincher came in the past 3 weeks when the troop leader "forgot" about selling Girl Scout cookies.  The girls still have not gotten the order forms---I've been taking orders and writing them on a copy I made of last year's order sheet.

So I called the local Girl Scout office thinking I could just go pick some up to bring to this week's meeting and I was told our troop wasn't registered.  (Despite my email which, to my way of thinking, should have served as a reminder way back in September.)

This is the proverbial straw.

To make a long story short, another troop mom (DV) and I will be trained this weekend with the intention of starting a new troop.

Last night I emailed the current troop leader to ask if I could take over the troop with DV as my co-leader.  In no way do I expect her to go for this, but if all 4 of the girls go to the new troop it leaves the current leader's daughter by herself.  And I think it really sucks for this girl to no longer have a troop just because of adult difficulties.

It sucks that something as innocuous as Girl Scouts can become such a stressful headache.  Such a drama.  It sucks that this has caused me to lose a friendly acquaintance.  She and I were certainly not best friends or even "real" friends, but it doesn't make anyone feel good to know someone wouldn't give them quarter.

This is now 3 burned bridges with me being the common denominator, and I have to wonder....what is it with me????

I know what it is with me....I don't let things go.  I don't back down.  I am too honest.  I always strive to be civil and polite, but I also say what I think.  And I blog, which further pisses off someone who was already pissed off at me (even though I never name names).

When I look back on the "Friendship Fallout of 2008," I don't regret saying or doing anything I did.  It's not in me to just let things go.  If it was, I would not be so well medicated.  I have truly reflected on these events far more than I perhaps should have.  I don't like people to dislike me, to have a bad opinion of me.

But the bigger truth is that I don't want to have a bad opinion of myself.  And sometimes not being honest and not doing what I feel is right and best would lessen my opinion of myself.

So I just deal with the fallout.  Have a few nights of poor sleep.  Blog about it.
And move on.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Bobo Brothers

For Christmas, M received a bunch of Diego books.  Anyone who has read a Diego book knows that the Bobo Brothers often make an appearance.

The Bobo Brothers are monkeys that are always, always creating mischief of some sort such as bouncing on a half-broken branch on which a sloth is clinging in a windstorm.  They are merry and laughing and generally unaware that they are complete simian hellions.

As my boys get bigger, they are increasingly Bobo-like.

For the past two days, it has been nice enough after lunch for the three of us to go outside and play in the yard.  G and M have played in the sandbox, chased bubbles, pushed or rode their bikes down the driveway at breakneck speed, run around the arborvitae and swung on the swings.  Even though this freakishly warm weather for January makes me worry about the pending doom of global warming, hearing my boys' peals of laughter and camaraderie does my fretful heart good.  As exhausting as they are because they never.ever.stop.moving, I delight in their roughness in the great outside.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Last man standing

Saturday was a day of receiving sad news.  My uncle, my mother's brother, passed away.  He was 81 and had been in poor health for awhile.  My own bout with gestational diabetes certainly made me more aware of sugar and my eating habits, but hearing about Uncle B's 3 times a week dialysis scared the shit out of me. Diabetes is a scary, scary disease.

His death makes my mother the last of her siblings to remain living, which has to be a sad "honor" to have. She was one of 6 to survive childhood (an infant sibling died at around a month old).  Her oldest brother G died in the 1970s of a heart attack, I believe.  The brother J who was 3 years older than my mom died of esophageal cancer.  I'm not sure what the cause of her other brother J's death.  Her sister had dementia and had been in a nursing home for years.  And now Uncle B is gone.

Mom told me when she spoke to her nephew (who is only 18 months younger than her) about B's passing, he said, "Well you know what this means?" and mom replied, "Yes, that we're the next to go."  Apparently his thinking was that now my mom and he are the oldest living relatives in the family, but I got my positive thinking from someone....and it was obviously my mother.

While I am sad for B's wife and sons and grandchildren, I am also sad for my mother, and even for me.  Because time marches on and age catches up with us all.  Because loss is an integral part of life.  Because it is a reminder to me that somehow I am 3 someones' mother and almost 40, and my mother will be 74 this year.  Because one day I will lose my parents or my children or my spouse.

And that is a terrible benefit of being left standing.  

Friday, January 6, 2012

Does this mean I'm gonna die soon?

Today has been a day of all sorts of good news.  

This morning I learned that next Friday G will be having his last speech therapy session followed by his exit evaluation/meeting.  In less than a year, he has gone from a slobbery mush-mouth to an age-appropriate pretty articulate little kid.  

In N's folder was a note from her art teacher stating that N's artwork is being entered into a local (and pretty prominent) museum's art contest.  She was one of 5 students selected from all the second graders at her school.  

Wow!  Superb news!  Exciting!

To prove that OCD and generalized anxiety cannot be eliminated, only relieved, by antidepressants, I did have the thought, "Surely all this good news means I am gonna die soon because things cannot possibly be going so well without something horrible happening."  Old catastrophic thinking habits die hard.  I was able to swish it away with my great Jedi-Lexapro force, but the fact that it still reared its head is always a little disappointing.  I may feel cured, but I ain't and never will be.  

Of course the something horrible could just be the weather, which is freakishly warm for January and surely a sign of humanity's doom.  Most people enjoy the days of 65 degree temps in winter, but they set me into short panic spasms.  

Dammit, it's January.  We need some snow if for no other reason than to lull me into a false sense of security that global warming may not really be real (despite endless scientific studies showing it is).   

Somebody seems to be winning today's irrationality fight, and it's not the medicated side of my brain.  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

I really didn't expect to be this busy

Being a mother is all about realizing how dumb I am.  How little I know even though I've been doing this gig for almost 8 years.

When I was pregnant with N and started looking for fabric for her nursery, I picked a cute yellow fabric with alphabet letters and animals.  I clearly remember thinking, "This should last until she is about 5 years old."


It lasted until she was almost 3 and decided that she was down with Disney Princesses.  I didn't realize how quickly children move from blathering blobs to small people with actual personalities and opinions.

And now, here I am again---realizing how little I know.

All of a sudden, our weeks are plum full of activities in the evenings.  Mondays nights are piano lessons for me and N.  Every other Wednesday night is Girl Scouts.  Every 3rd Wednesday evening I have my neighborhood board meeting.  Every 1st Thursday night is my book club.  The first Tuesday of every month is dinner at Papaw's house.  

This sounds very scattered until this week when we have piano lessons, Papaw's, my book club and an extra Girl Scout event on Friday night.

So something has to go, and it is book club, which on the one hand saddens me because this is "my" event, but it also relieves me because it is one less thing on my mental calendar.

I didn't expect that when I have an almost 8-year-old, a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old, my life would be so dang busy with activities.  G's preschool on Mondays and Tuesdays and speech class on Fridays.  M's playgroup on Wednesdays and G's playgroup on Thursdays.  My exercise classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

I thought the kids would all be older, perhaps in middle school, when I would feel like I was constantly on the go, driving hither and yon, taking them to activities.

Of course some of this feeling of "What the hell is going on????" could be due to us having done absolutely nothing during the last two weeks of December.  I am off my game and slowly having to re-acclimate to the schedule, the routine.

Just as I'm being mindful of clutter and saying "no" to more tangible stuff, I am also going to have to be mindful of those occasions, like this week, when there are more things to do than what feels right.  

Keeping only what you love or is practical

I take pride in the fact that we have nothing in our attics (we have one over the bedrooms and one over the garage).  Well, we do have an antenna in one of them so that we can get more than just 4 television channels since we long ago got rid of satellite/cable television, but that is the only thing up there.

There are no holiday decorations, no knick-knacks, no old clothing, no old furniture.

This is not to say that we don't have any of this stuff, but it is in our basement storage area, which is pretty limited in size.

We never stored anything in our attic in our first house either.

There is something about the idea of attic storage that makes me think of fires and safety and it sorta gives me the heebie-jeebies to even consider putting boxes and boxes of flammable materials up there.  Not that the stuff we have in the basement couldn't go up in flames, but somehow fire being under my feet is slightly less heart-attack inducing than fire being above my head as I sleep.

In some parallel universe, I think I am a professional organizer (or a financial consultant since I love talking budgets and savings and meeting money goals).  Of course organizing is enjoyable when you really like de-cluttering, saying sayonara to unused stuff.  Some people with OCD do the hoarding thing, but clutter is what makes me feel anxious.

D and I rearranged our basement furniture over the Christmas break.  As part of that project, I pulled out more than 50 books that had been taking up space on our bookshelves.  Some of them I read in college and didn't remember.  Some of them I had read for book club and didn't really like enough to make them part of my book family.  The ones that are staying are books I truly, truly adore (like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights), books that are classics and have stood the test of time (Treasure Island), and more modern books that I really, really liked (The Secret Life of Bees).

I guess the theme of 2011 was to rid myself of stuff, the extraneous that doesn't really matter now.

When my 20-year high school reunion neared in June 2011, I went through all the photos and albums I had saved from high school and trashed probably 94% of it.  Pictures of my high school friends and their dates at dances (and even numerous pictures of me with my dates at dances) simply aren't important anymore.

As I enter 2012, I am trying to be mindful of how little I need and that much of what makes me the happiest and most content is not stored in drawers and bins and compartments.