Tuesday, December 24, 2013

One hell of a week

I've had stressful weeks, but last week was as close to 2004-level anxiety (as in breakdown) as I've experienced.  Eating to survive.  Poor sleep.  And a viral respiratory infection for good measure.

There was the window installation which ran into a kink on Tuesday morning, when I was at M's preschool Christmas party.  Apparently, the lintel at the front of the house that holds up the brick wasn't installed properly.  When the windows guys took out the old dining room window, the lintel fell.  Off.  Completely.  Not good.  And so began my limited appetite.

So I had to call a mason.  For $500, he said he could fix it the next day (Wednesday) at 9:00.

Wednesday morning I took G for a visit with our family doc to get a referral for occupational therapy.  When I returned at close to 10:00 am, there was no mason.  And there was a mix-up in the window company's scheduling so they had to leave before the mason showed up (which he did, although very late).  The plan was to fix the lintel and finish the windows today, Christmas Eve.

That Wednesday night continued the limited appetite along with aches and absolute feelings of exhaustion.

Thursday and Friday I felt pretty punk and tried not to do much, but I had M all day both days,   Thursday afternoon was our meeting with a psychologist with G, and Friday was class parties.  G was a tantruming mess every day of the week except Friday.  

My head congestion eased up a bit this weekend, although I am still not 100%.  I'm doing only what I have to do and trying to sit, read and rest as much as possible.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Night crawler Christmas

I don't remember too many of my childhood Christmases, but one that does stand out in my mind is what I refer to as "Night Crawler Christmas."

I don't know how old I was, probably 9 or 10.  I don't know what I received as Christmas gifts.  I don't even really remember that it rained a lot that year.

What I do remember is my dad, my younger brother and I walking the streets of our neighborhood with buckets in hand, picking up some of the thousands of worms that sought relief from the over-saturated ground by crawling onto the roads.

The neighborhood in which we lived didn't have curbs as we do in our neighborhood now.  Drainage wasn't as engineered so the worms didn't have to do as much work to get to the pavement.  The roadways were absolutely covered with worms.

I don't remember what we did with the worms, whether dad saved them for future fishing excursions or if we dumped them in the grass once we had finished trolling the neighborhood.  But I can clearly see us meandering the empty streets, my brother and I excited with every wiggler we delicately lifted from the concrete.

As a mom, I worry that my children will remember every little thing I do or they experience, specifically all the things I fuck up in my job as mother.  The times I yell and am not especially nice.

So memories like this are soothing in that they are a nice reminder of how much I don't recall of my childhood.  I don't remember all the times my parents lost their tempers with me or did things that I thought were completely unjust and mean (although now I understand those decisions were likely completely reasonable and justified).   I don't remember every unpleasant experience that life threw at my childhood self.

My memories of childhood are dim, feathery shadows with the occasional clear outline of true remembrance, like the night crawler Christmas.  I remember the oddities of my childhood experience, the unusual, the unplanned.

Probably most people's memories work like this, or perhaps this is one of the blessings of the OCD brain.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

My Advent struggle (thinking on Mary)

For someone who doesn't feel particularly religious/spiritual, I find myself thinking such things often.

As I've been struggling through these weeks of December, with my usual Christmas bahhumbug-ness coupled with home improvement disasters and the emotional roller-coaster of G and his current issues, I have thought to what a shitty time Mary must have had.

There was that pesky angel visitation.
There was the donkey ride at 9 months.
The birth-giving in a stable instead of an inn.
The getting the hell outta town and into Egypt.
And the son who didn't exactly do as "normal" Jewish boys did.

Maybe that is the point of Advent for me.  Perhaps because of my personality, my own limitations in the joy category, my anxiety, I'm not going to be one to savor the anticipation, the waiting on the king.  Maybe I need to look to Advent as my understanding of the struggle, the difficulties inherent in the king coming.

I know that I've learned much more from struggle in my life than from any easy roads on which I've traveled.  I have lived the experience of a breakdown being a breakthrough, and so I need to look to these weeks of discomfort, of fear, of bone-tiredness, as the difficult path that will eventually, at some point, lead me to greater compassion, greater understanding, and hopefully greater fulfillment.  

At this time of year, I think on the sacrifice of Mary who, after the event, is pushed into the background but is assuredly the backbone of the story.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

When life hands you lemons, you freak the f*ck out and don't compare yourself to the third world

I am all for gratitude.  I know where my bread is buttered, and I am thankful my life is as easy (in the grand scheme of things) as it is.

But I am struggling in the midst of a rough spell, and I have to remind myself that it does me absolutely no good to compare my struggles to those of a person in the Philippines or Haiti or anywhere else where the problems are those of survival, of meeting basic needs of food, water or shelter.

I hate standardized testing in public schools because the tests compare what totally different sets of kids from totally different backgrounds in totally different years learn from totally different teachers.  The expectation is for everyone to be proficient in spite of these differences.  To know the same stuff with the same level of understanding.

Why, then, would it make any sense to compare my stress and/or suffering with someone who is completely different from a totally different background in a completely different culture under totally different life/economic circumstances and say whose problem is better or worse?

It makes me feel like shit, and I don't need to feel guilt-like shit on top of feeling overwhelmed-like shit because of the stress life is throwing at me.

Because of my personality, because of my OCD, because of my GAD, I do a piss-poor job handling things.  Period.  Whether I'm here or somewhere else.  Whether I'm rich or poor.  I could drop myself into any situation, and I would handle stress suckily.

My stressors are what they are, and I tire of knowing that I handle things poorly and feeling guilty that I handle things poorly over issues that are of no "real" consequence anyway.

If I believe my life is of value, then I have to give value to not only what I experience but how I experience it.  My life has to be as valuable as the value, the seriousness I put on the struggles of those whose struggles are different than mine.

To discount my own struggle is setting myself up for nihilism.

And OCD, GAD and nihilism seem like a very, very bad mix.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

OCD to benefit my son

I generally don't think of OCD as being beneficial in any way, but perhaps it is.  When I obsess about something, and I often do, I "get 'er done."  I don't know if this is my coping mechanism, but I don't just sit and stew; I take action.  

The other day I called a children's therapy practice about getting G some occupational therapy for his sensory issues (the food textures, the clothing/shoes stuff, etc).  But January seems a terribly long time to wait for someone to give us some tips for helping him.

It occurred to me that G's issues might not just be sensory.  Perhaps a large part of his problem at the moment is the anxiety of December.  When I bought G presents for his birthday in September and told him I had surprises for him, he lost it.  Crying and very upset.  He begged me to tell him what I had bought him for his birthday, and so I did because it just wasn't worth him being so off the chain.  It dawned on me that maybe he is experiencing this same thing with Christmas looming.  Plus, his whole routine of school has been messed up these two weeks.  Two snow days (non-consecutive) and his class preparing for a musical performance in front of the school.  I should know how anxiety-provoking changes in the routine are because I suffer from this same problem tremendously (even on medication).  

So I called the mental health side of our health insurance to see what I needed to do to have G see a therapist.  I see a psychiatrist for my OCD, and I have lived the benefits of therapy, so I thought maybe we should do this while we wait for January.  

Yesterday I spoke with a psychologist who will evaluate G this week.  She said the difficult part with doing specific psychological tests on a child his age is that she could give him one diagnosis based on those tests and then in a couple years, when he, his emotions and brain have changed, he could have an entirely different diagnosis.  I told her I really don't care what his diagnosis is; I just want tools to help him and us cope better with whatever it is that he is experiencing.  

The evaluation she will give him will be less time-consuming and costly.  Based on our discussion of G's behavior and difficulties over the phone, she said it sounds a lot like OCD. 

I asked her whether I should keep our appointment with our family medicine doc this week to get an order for OT.  She said when a child has sensory issues like G's, she does recommend OT, so we will proceed, and she will work with whomever does the OT to coordinate his care. 

I feel better having done all this until I start to question whether I'm just overreacting to G's behavior.  Am I making more of an issue than what it really is?  

But since May, I've had 2 different people ask me whether I've considered having G seen by a professional, either because of the sensory issues or because of the tantrums because things aren't "just right" for him.  And if his behavior (and/or my being upset as a result of his behavior) is bad enough that other people have questioned it, then maybe I'm not just making a mountain out of a molehill.

When I went through my breakdown episode in 2004 and thought I was going crazy, someone said to me, "If you suspect you are going crazy, you probably aren't."  I try to remember that when I have moments of "Am I engaging in Munchhausen by Proxy Syndrome? Am I making up G's stuff for attention to my own mental health?"  The fact that I'm worried about engaging in the behavior hopefully means I am not.  

My issues make it harder for me to handle G's issues, and I need help.  OCD is making it easier for me to find that help.  

Obsessive persistence.  It's a good thing.

Friday, December 13, 2013

If I made a Christmas list

I am the worst gift giver.  Whether I'm buying for myself or someone else, I always ask, "Do I (or they) really need this?"  Although this question is good for keeping one a minimalist, it makes for some really dull gifts.

Like socks.

(I am, however, a very awesome old person gift giver.  I get my husband's grandfather, who is 89, postage stamps, peanut butter and honey for Christmas.)

I generally think I'm an easy person for whom to buy gifts because virtually everything is a treat to me.  One of my students gave me Bath & Body Works hand soap.  Something that smells pepperminty and looks festive is a treat, especially since I reuse the same off-brand soap dispenser with whatever cheap antibacterial soap I can find.

If I were going to make a Christmas list this year, this is what I'd write on it:

1. House slippers that encase my foot.  I have some house slippers that N got for me for my 36th birthday (and in preparation of having M at the hospital and needing some slippers).  They do not have backs, and though I took dance lessons for like 8 years, I cannot manage to walk up and down steps in them.  I am forever tripping over these shoes.

2. Small tissue packets.  You know the kind you put in your purse?  I cannot seem to remember to buy these for myself when I am out.

3. Soap crayons.  There is something about the shower that makes me remember all sorts of stuff I need to do.  But as soon as the water is turned off and I pass through the shower doors, everything that was clear becomes a fog once again.  I keep a notepad at my desk, one on my bedside table, and one in my car, but I think I also need to be able to jot down ideas on the shower walls.  But this is sorta like small tissue packets---I either don't remember to purchase them (because I forgot after I walked out of the shower) or I feel like I shouldn't get them because they are kind of a luxury.

4. Long socks for winter.  The kind that I can pull up to my knees.  I now wear them to bed because my feet get so cold.

5. Any of the books on my goodreads list, but especially these two (preferably used)
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

If a person isn't unconscious after reading this, I think a sleep study is in order.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Crying "uncle"

Today I made the call.
In January, I'm going to have G evaluated for sensory processing disorder.

I kept thinking, "He doesn't do this at school.  He can hold it together."  He got all Os (outstandings) the first two grading periods.  I had contacted the school district in May about his sensory issues and my concern that they would impact his time in kindergarten, but I now know that they won't even look at him.  Why would they?  His grades are terrific, and his teachers adore him.

The problem is at home.  Maybe he is working so hard to keep his stuff together at school that he can't do it at home, where he knows we will always love him.  Maybe I'm the problem.....his tantrums that are excessive and come from out of nowhere set me on edge.  Though I try to remain calm, maybe he is picking up on my sensitivity to his sensitivity and that is making it worse.  If he is a "spirited" child, I think it is safe to assume it was me from whence this came.

It has come to the point where I simply can't handle it anymore so I'm doing the only thing I know how to do, and that is seek help.  Find someone who knows more than me, who can look objectively at G's personality and behavior, at my reactions to his personality and behavior.

I know my limitations and weaknesses.  I've done the work on myself....I know what sets me off, and I've learned to handle that.  With my medication and the tools I learned in CBT, it is still all I can do most days to handle my own stuff, to live within my own head comfortably.

When I have an out-of-control 6-year-old screaming about his back itching or whatever "thing" of the moment sets him off, I move into "fight or flight" mode.  I want to run or I want to hit him, and neither of those are good options.

He's got classic sensitivity issues----tags in clothes, seams in socks, must have shoes tightened to the point of bondage, food texture issues, loud noises, dark spaces.  But he's also emotionally intense and terrifically persistent.

I've read books, but I honestly feel like I need to carry books around with me to refer to them every time G slips into one of his fits.  As much as I hate it, I know I need support from someone who can either tell me G is fine, and I'm the problem, or G has problems, and I'm just making them worse.

It always feels like failure to know you can't do it on your own, but I have to remind myself over and over that asking for help is strength.  

Sunday, December 8, 2013

More paint puttering and creativity

We play a gift-exchange game at my mom's side of the family's Christmas party, and I always, always have a terrible time coming up with something to buy.  I'm so darn practical....I get things like flashlights (since we have a $10 or so price cap---or at least I think this is still in place).

I dislike shopping even when I know exactly what the other person wants, so shopping for the purpose of a "game" and not knowing who will choose my gift is somewhat like torture.

This year, I decided to milk this spurt of creativity and give homemade, handmade gifts.  I have always liked receiving gifts that people have made with their hands. I have drawings and paintings my deceased uncle made in my house, as well as a handwoven basket my cousin made.  I have a wooden toilet paper duck stand that D's grandpa made, as well as a whirly-gig bird he made in the yard.  I treasure these things and will not part with them (although I may paint them or modify them a bit when they look worn or to make them "jive" with my color scheme).

Anyway, I don't necessarily expect whomever got these gifts to treasure them.  They are middling, at best.

But I'd rather someone share the act of creativity with me than have any more stuff I really don't need, so that is what I wanted to give someone else.

This is the painting I gave as a gift (below). 
I also included some candy so it wasn't a total wash for the receiver. 

I gave this bowl with candy in it. 

How much do we know our children?

Sometimes I read other bloggers' posts and think to myself, "Wow, he/she really seems to have a handle on who his/her children are."  I, on the other hand, rarely feel like I know who my children are.  When I blog their annual birthday letters, I often feel I'm grasping at straws, asking myself, "What can I say about N, G or M?"

Sometimes I think I'm just not paying attention.  Maybe I'm too distracted by life, laundry, food prep and other adult responsibilities?

But I've recently considered that maybe the reason I feel like I don't know who my children are is because they really don't talk to me about how they feel or what they think.  I know what they do, how they behave, so I can characterize them primarily in these terms.  There are all sorts of sayings about actions speaking louder than words, so I'm not suggesting that knowing them by their actions is a bad thing.  John Locke said, "I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts."

Knowing them by their actions, though, sometimes feels like not enough.

Often as a parent my greatest disconnect with my children is that I am a thinker (a deliberate and annoying over-thinker) who would like to discuss, while my children are doers who aren't interested in mining the great depths of.....anything.  It is their ages, in part.  Developmentally they aren't going to talk to me about things that I would talk about with my same-age peers.  It is also that I am mother, not friend or confidante.

What sparked this train of thought was looking back at Christmas photos I have posted up of the kids, particularly N, as a baby, toddler, preschooler and younger elementary child and feeling like I don't know who she is.  Maybe it is that I don't remember who she was at those younger ages, which makes me feel like I have lost the complete picture of her.  If I have forgotten her from back then, how can I possibly truly know her now?

I know this existential brooding is a little off-the-chain.  I probably know know my children better than I think I do (although when they act like demons at home and angels everywhere else it do make me wonder.)

N turns 10 next year, a milestone of wonder for her and near desperate bittersweetness for me and, perhaps, this is setting off my momentary feelings of "I've missed SO MUCH, and I was standing here the whole time!"

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Things for which I'm thankful

Yeah, I know November is over, but this morning I feel particularly thankful.  I don't know why, but I'm gonna hop on board and ride this wave.

These are in no particular order.

1. I'm thankful for my next-door neighbors, H and T.  Yesterday D and I dug a french tile trench on the side of our house nearest them.  It looks terrible and will until spring when 1. the tile does its job and keeps the ground from being a soggy mess and 2. we can till it and plant grass seed.  H and T's kitchen table looks out on this, but they are cool with it.  They understand the drudgery that is homeownership.

2. I'm thankful for the 2 years we had with our beloved piano teacher, I.  She will be moving across the country in the next month and having her first baby a short time after that.  N and I adore her, and though we are sad to see her go, I suspect that for both her and us, this is probably one of those "door closing, window opening" situations.

3. I'm thankful for my best friend's baby, C.  With my own nieces and nephews, they are all so close in age to my own children, I didn't really get to enjoy their babyhoods because I was too involved in my own children's babyhoods.  With Baby C, I get to snuggle and love on her and then leave.

4. I'm thankful for my new windows, which will be installed sometime this month.  As much as I hate the paying for them, I look forward to the chill being reduced, clear, non-foggy glass and no mildew/mold in the sill drains.

5. I'm thankful that this has been a mostly pleasant Thanksgiving break, and my children and husband haven't aggravated the shit out of me.

6. I'm thankful the weird nagging feeling of "you are ignoring your children" has left the premises.  For the longest time (and by this I mean years) I felt anxiety whenever I just left my kids to their own devices.  If I wasn't interacting with them like every second, I felt pinches of guilt.  It was unbearable.  At some point, when I wasn't even paying attention, I stopped feeling that sensation.

7. I'm thankful for daydreaming about vacation.  Usually I start the daydreaming in January, but this year it began in November.  With my part-time teaching job, we should be able to start going on vacation every year, and for that I'm thankful as well.  Our vacation this past summer to Edisto Island was magical. I think my family is hitting that sweet spot where vacations don't feel quite as cumbersome as they did when the kids were more babyish.

8. I'm thankful I've started going to church on an unscheduled, half-assed basis.  It has helped negate that vague longing to just sit in a church community which I carried with me for many years when I stopped attending the Catholic mass.  Although I am attending a Christian church and still have serious issues with Catholic dogma, I'm also thankful for the new Catholic pope, who is radical and kick-ass in a definitely more Jesus-like way.

9. I'm thankful to be teaching again, and I'm thankful that it is part-time.  It has rekindled my love of literature and my enthusiasm for instruction.

10. I'm thankful for consignment stores, which allow me to buy things for myself that are pretty darn nice without feeling guilty spending a small fortune on clothes.  I was able to snag some Cabi jeans for $20 last week.  For a frugal freak like me, that is like theft.

11. I'm thankful M likes to sing.  It brings me a tremendous amount of joy hearing him sing songs from preschool in his squeaky voice.  I savor ever song he sings that he has learned from his LeapFrog Scout dog.  It won't be but a couple years before that voice has matured, and those songs are a thing of the past.

12. I'm thankful N is such a sensitive soul.  She feels things deeply and loves hard.

13. I'm thankful G is so darn funny.  It helps minimize the urge to strangle him.  The other night in the car he was talking (sorta to himself because I'm not sure M was listening to him) about building houses.  He was talking about the bricks, and D and I heard him say "you put butter on the bricks with scrapers."

14. I'm thankful D and I can appreciate each other's humor.  Like with G, it helps reduce the likelihood that we will kill each other.

Of course, there are many other things I could say I'm thankful for, but I've always enjoyed trying to think of things outside the obvious box.  

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Attitude with Gratitude

I complain about stuff.  A lot.  Loudly.
I am the poster child for "White People Problems" or "First World Problems."
Some of it is just my shtick.
Some of it is actual anxiety taking the form of humorous venting.
Some of it is the impoverishment of my soul because I have never known the daily struggle of survival that so many others of this world have.
But I keep things in perspective (as much as a white middle-class person with first world problems can) by listening to the BBC radio every morning.

One of the recent broadcasts I listened to was about used pacemakers in India.  The interviewer asked a recipient of one of these pacemakers whether he thought there were ethical issues about using a pacemaker when someone in the US or Europe would use a brand-new one.  His reply was simple:  "I cannot afford a new one, and a used one saved my life so I am happy to have the used one."

I try mightily to live a similar ethos to this man although for me it is 99.9% choosing to live simply as opposed to not having the option to live otherwise.

This time of year, with the "happy" story of pilgrims and indians being only a snippet of the disease and mayhem associated with the colonization of America and the continued trampling of Thanksgiving (with all its flaws) in favor of the shopping ecstasy of Christmas, I have a difficult time reconciling myself to the "way of the world."  To the haves and the have nots.  To the fact that I am one of the haves.  To the fact that I so much love the security of saving money that I am terrible about making charitable donations.

Jesus and Freud would both have a field day with me.

I struggle, to say the least.

If there is anything about which I am thankful regarding my OCD it is how that repetitive wheel of thought can be a good thing, especially when it is an internal wheel of gratitude.  Though I do vent, there seems to be a relatively quick link between the moment a venting/griping/bitchy word crosses my mind and the immediate moment after when a sentiment of gratitude follows.

No one needs to remind me of the things for which I should be thankful.  From the instant a thought enters my mind, I've had the gratitude loop follow it. I just feel better venting my frustration.

Still, even though I acknowledge my luckiness, I think it is nearly impossible to really and truly, within the depths of my heart, feel gratitude because that requires loss.  I can say I am thankful (which I am).  I can think that I am so deeply lucky and blessed (which I am).  But those deeper levels, the existential understanding of gratitude, the kind that suffers loss of the Jean ValJean variety as so many people in the world suffer today, right now, this instant.  That I do not know.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Reason 7,855 why I dislike the Christmas holidays

Some people with OCD become hoarders.  They cannot throw anything away.
I have the opposite problem, especially this close to Christmas when I await the deluge of STUFF that nearly knocks down my front door starting the second week of December when family parties begin in earnest.

In preparation, I start sorting through things, selling toys on craigslist, donating, donating, donating.  All this would be fine if it wasn't accompanied by a physical sensation that is akin to what I imagine formication feels like.

Making this sensation worse is the anxiety of spending money, especially since we are in the process of getting new windows for the house (the seals on ours have failed causing condensation between the glass panes and making their efficiency nonexistent).  We are hemorrhaging home improvement funds.

Finally, I'm having this weird, sorta unpleasant creative spurt, which may be a result of having too much stuff and trying to avoid spending money on stuff people neither want nor have a need for.   I keep thinking of projects to use stuff around the house.  I'm like up-cycling my life, which in theory sounds good unless the ideas keep pinging my head to the point that I go a little nuts.

I've drug out bowls I made last year using paper and feathers and am making more in an effort to use up what remains of the feathers and paper, and I'm also in the planning stages of some chicken wire projects.  And I'm etching/engraving a bit too using whatever bits and pieces of wood I have around the house and can pawn off from my neighbors.

Sometimes I contemplate cleaning the house or making dinner, but not often.

I think I forgot to take my antidepressant today, and it shows.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Teaching Frankenstein OR discouraging teens from having children

My high school students are wrapping up their/our study of Frankenstein, a novel that I read some years ago (and again this past summer).

This time around, perhaps because I was reading it more closely with the intent to teach it to someone else, I really noticed how much the book says about parenting.  I can't remember if I was a parent the first time I read it, but now I see so much of myself as a mother in the pages, so much of every mother in the pages.

This week in class I wrote on the whiteboard, "The creator becomes a slave to his creation" and said something on the order of, "That, my friends, is parenthood in a nutshell."

And it is true.

Victor Frankenstein enters into the creation process full of excitement and exuberance, like most people who make the decision to have children.  It is all rose-colored glasses.  And then....the reality.  The baby is born, the monster comes to life, and with it the full scope of "What the hell was I thinking??"

Most of us don't run away, as Victor did.  We plug away, seeing the unpleasant, disgusting, frightening parts of parenthood glare at us full-on.  We come to realize we are slaves to those we have created.  For a time, we are physical and emotional slaves, but throughout a child's life, our hearts are held hostage.  We are never, ever free of our children.  They haunt us in a similar way that the monster haunted Victor throughout the years.

And the funny thing is, eventually our children go through the stage when they hate us just as Victor's monster hates his creator (though, admittedly, for different reasons).  We fear them, resent them, loathe them in our own ways and in varying degrees.

I had, without as much detail, painted this portrait of what having children is like to my students, and one of my students said something on the order of, "You're really making us all want to grow up and have kids."

And I had to laugh because no matter what anyone says, suggests or warns about, parenting is something you think you have a grasp on and can wrap your head around until you become a parent and realize your ass is completely overwhelmed for the rest of your life.  

Monday, November 11, 2013

The money pit

I have come to the conclusion after 16 years of home-ownership that it is overrated. 

I guess there is something warm and fuzzy about equity, but it is pretend money, at least to me.  It's not like I can just get to the money in my house without a whole lot of time, energy, worry and spending more money to sell the house. 

You would think after a decade of parenting I would be used to all this spending money business, but I am not.  With kids, there is a certain amount of reuse/recycle involved, and I can always make a little bit back when I sell toys and clothes at consignment sales. 

And I don't drop thousands of dollars on my kids at any one time.  (yet)

But houses......that is another story.

Last year was The Year All Our Stuff Started Falling the Hell Apart. 
Microwave=slow, overly-dramatic death. 
Vacuum cleaner=bit it.
Refrigerator=didn't technically die, but its limbs were falling off and at 15 years, we knew it was just a matter of time. 

I am old-school, the child of Depression-era parents.  You fix stuff until the repair person says, "Lady, would you please just go buy a new one."

This has been The Year of Big, Substantial Things Needing to Be Replaced Resulting in an Almost Non-Stop Panic Attack over Finances.

The tail end of last year and first of this year we had a new roof installed.

Two-and-half years ago we were told the seals were failing on a number of our windows.  So we are biting the bullet and getting new windows for the house. 

The sump pump died (causing our basement to leak for the first time ever) so we had a new sump pump and a backup sump pump installed.

Today my desk chair fell apart as I sat on it (I'd already tried to put it back together once), and I think our garbage disposal doesn't work anymore. 

I try to be thankful that D and I save money and don't have to go into debt to make these repairs and do upkeep on the house.
I try to be thankful that we even have a house, especially given the destruction in the Philippines.

That voice of doom that lives in the nether regions of my brain starts getting a little too loud when I have to spend money though, when I have to turn over a measure of my security. 

I am thankful for, and yet hate so much, my first world problems. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

An interview that made me think that I'm (maybe) a smidgen of a creationist

One day while driving alone in my car---I don't know where I was driving or why---I heard an interview on NPR about a journalist who was lambasted because she admitted she was a creationist.  I didn't get to hear the interview in its entirety, but I heard enough to know this woman was not extreme in her views.  She didn't say evolution was wrong or invalid or anything that would make me blow her off as a zealot.

What she did say made me actually think that I, in my small little way, am also a bit of a creationist.

In the interview, she talked about the unanswered questions that predate humans and dinosaurs.  The existential questions about how the earth formed and what happened that led to the spark that eventually led to animate life that eventually, over millions of years, led to animals and humans.

She remarked that since there is no definitive, solid answer for what happened that caused the emptiness of space to eventually become planets and stars and whatever, she chooses to believe that it was god.

And I found this terribly interesting because while I would never, ever, ever think of myself as a creationist because I firmly believe in evolution and do not think the world was created in 7 days and do not think dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time and do not think god designed everything in a perfect little set-up, if I go back and back and back far enough, I tend to think that something godlike was first.

It seems reasonable to my understanding that a god (of some kind and certainly beyond all human understanding) set things in motion and then backed the heck off, allowing those cogs and wheels to turn and create and get us to this point.

That is as far as I get and, honestly, that is as far as I care to go.

I don't like to believe this is all a crap-shoot.  I don't like to think there isn't meaning.  But I also don't like to think god controls everything and has controlled everything since the beginning of existence.  I think there are all kinds of strange movements in nature--vertical, horizontal, diagonal and some kind of "al" that we can't even appreciate in this dimension.

I stand in the middle ground, where I tend to feel most secure.   

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Re-upping for another year

Last Friday, D and I celebrated our 16th wedding anniversary, although celebrate isn't really what we did.  Due to bad weather on Thursday (Halloween), our neighborhood's trick-or-treating was postponed to Friday.  So D took a hippie, Jake the dog and Finn the human out trick-or-treating while I sat with our neighbor and passed out goodies.

(I also tried to recover from an off-the-chain tantrum by G, which resulted in an off-the-chain tantrum by yours truly, which is a post for another day.)

Given the planning, preparation and attendance at 3 separate Halloween parties last week, I didn't even get D a card.  

When we decided to wed on Nov 1, we didn't have the foresight to understand how 3 Halloween parties in 3 days, plus actual trick-or-treating, would keep us me from remembering an anniversary card purchase.  

Married for 16 years and together as a couple for 18 years seems remarkable, and in a way it is.  So many couples don't make it nearly as far.  

I'm not sure how we've kept it together.  We keep our mouths shut a lot.  We accept each other for who we are (and vent to objective, third parties).  Therapy helped.  We have realistic expectations of what marriage is.  We really do like each other.  

And I venture to say there is a whole lot of luck involved too.

Recently I read an essay/blog suggesting that marriage is about making the other person happy, and while I don't completely agree with his point, I don't completely disagree either.  I think it is easy to love someone and want to make someone else happy when life is uncomplicated, when the married relationship is new, when you don't have the demands of children added in.  (If you don't have a mood-disorder, that is probably helpful too.)

In my experience as a mom for almost a decade, I honestly have not had the energy much of the time to worry about keeping D happy.  I have struggled to keep my house and sanity intact and my children alive.  I'm not saying this is ideal; I'm saying it is real.

D and I have also gone through enough "shit happens" experiences, like the death of a parent, like unexpected surgeries and health issues and house fall-apart situations, that take the wind out of one's sails and make it impossible to make oneself happy, forget about making the partner in the relationship happy.

I think my biggest issue with the writer's point is the use of the term "happy."  Happiness is short-lived.  I have moments, snippets, nanoseconds of joy/happiness in my life.  I have large swaths of soldiering on, "what the fuck am I doing," and mundane.

It is a slippery slope to spend too much time and energy trying to keep someone else happy because where and when does it end?  Sure, if both people are trying simultaneously to keep the other person happy then the idea is they are both made happy, but I propose that although we should aspire to this, the reality of marriage, if it lasts longer than a hot second, is that there is a large amount of selfishness.  And if not selfishness, then distraction by that big large entity we call "LIFE."

I think better than the notion of "making the other person happy," is "Do no harm."   What makes D happy is not what makes me happy.  I may like seeing him be happy, but I want to be happy too, and the reality is that sometimes that happiness doesn't have a darn thing to do with him or anything he can or can't do for, with or to me.

But if I pursue my happiness while not doing him any harm, it seems I can find a better balance and not feel the full weight and responsibility of his happiness on my shoulders.

I don't propose that my idea is better than the guy who wrote about making the other person happy.  Maybe it is because he is a man, and I'm a woman.  Maybe because I'm most certainly older than him and have been married longer.

I think my idea doesn't sound as romantic or doe-eyed as his, but so far it seems to have worked for us.
And I guess that is all that matters.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Finding the balance in bitching

I am ALL FOR a good venting.  It's at least 75% of the reason I continue to write this blog (since my medication generally keeps me from being an at-complete-loose-ends mood-disordered mama).

But sometimes, even though I am pro-vent, I just tire of public venting.  My own included.  Even this, what I'm typing, is a vent.

A sad, tired vent.

What I have on my mind today is not the rainy forecast for Halloween which is setting people off like I cannot believe.  Those who are FOR switching trick-or-treating day.  Those who are AGAINST it.  I'm reading Team of Rivals about the arguments for and against abolishing slavery in 1854, so anything that is not this intense seems pretty darn childish and fairly surreal.

What I have on my mind is breast cancer, another topic that has gotten all sorts of "debate."  People who lambast all the pink colors of October and "Save the Ta-Tas" talk.

I'm certainly no huge fan of pink October since it brings to mind my nervous breakdown of 2004 when I thought nipple eczema from nursing (and complicated by undiagnosed anxiety) was inflammatory breast cancer that ended up with me seeing a surgeon and having a breast ultrasound.

Pink October also brings to mind my own mother's bout with breast cancer and what a scary time that was for my family.

And today, when all I'm hearing and reading is a near-constant bitch-fest over trick-or-treating, a sweet friend of mine attended the funeral for a sweet friend of hers who died this past weekend from metastatic breast cancer.

I hate people who try to give me rational perspective when I'm disgruntled about something.  Who try to talk me down from whatever it is I'm going off about.  Because sometimes I just need to vent.  We all do.

But today, and possibly tomorrow, I'm not going to bitch about much of anything because I bet the kids of the mom who passed this weekend would love nothing more than to trick-or-treat with her in a thunderstorm.  I'm not going to bitch about the nerve pain in my shoulder caused by sleeping in a twin bed with my 6-year-old because it pales in comparison to the pain of chemo and radiation and stem cell transplants.

I'm going to be the voice of my own rational perspective.  For at least another day.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sorta like "Shit my dad says"

Except this is called, "Shit I do for my kid that is COMPLETELY absurd."

I will not let the kids use our camera, so when N told me she wanted to have a fall photo shoot for her 18" doll, I agreed.  Very reluctantly.

But I did it anyway.
(Isn't this the chant of parents everywhere?)

And do you know what is even more absurd than doing a fall photo shoot for a doll when one is not an executive for Journey Girls or American Girl or American Doll or Our Generation?

It is taking a photo of the doll in the tree......

Not being happy with the way the light creates a shadow on the doll's face, and moving the doll around to take a better picture without shadow.

Work it, girl!!!  The camera loves you!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Need to remember to take my own prescription

This post is not about my Lexapro, which is my lifeblood that I never forget to take.

This post is about remembering to heed what I tell my mom friends who start to freak out about which school her child will or will not attend.

The local district is in the thick of middle/high school Open Houses and tours, and I considered starting to research schools and make visits, but I have decided against it for numerous reasons.

1. N is only in the 4th grade.
2. I've got enough sh*t on my plate without adding school tours to the list especially if I don't absolutely HAVE to.
3. Even though N is in AP classes, she just retook the test to see if she can improve her score.  It makes more sense to wait to see how she did before I go tramping all over the city.

As much as I like the idea of choice, I do not like the reality of it.  I feel about school selection the way I feel when I'm in the frozen section of the grocery attempting to decide which flavor of ice cream I want to purchase.  I am paralyzed with questions.....

What flavor do I want now?  Is this the flavor I will want on the weekend when I typically eat ice cream?  What flavor do I think D will like?  Should I just get vanilla and add chocolate sauce to it?  Maybe I should instead get a novelty treat (like fudge bars) for a change of pace?  

The worst of it is that I am attempting to read the future for someone who is not me.  I think I know who N is right now, but I'm not a mind-reader nor do I have Cassandra-like skills.  I like the idea of her attending a certain downtown middle school, but would she be better as a "big fish in a small pond" of our local neighborhood school?

Ultimately, I have to go back to that prescription I give my mom friends when they start to hyperventilate. Your child will do fine wherever he/she goes because you, as the parent, are focused on education and value it.  You read to him/her.  You go to conferences and are involved at school and do everything you can to ensure that education is a priority.

Now quit fretting.
And perhaps take an extra half-dose of your Lexapro. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

It gets easier, and it doesn't

I once thought having an infant was difficult, but now I realize that when I had an infant I didn't expect very much from myself.  I slept instead of staying up to read.  I napped when the baby napped.  Despite having a 6-year-old who wakes me like a baby, I don't give myself permission to be a tired momma who does nothing and doesn't feel like a sad sack of stuff because of it.

I once thought having two little boys age 2 and under was exhausting, but now I realize that having a 6-year-old and 4-year-old is more tiring because some tissue paper and measuring cups isn't fascinating to them anymore.  They need to be "entertained" in a way they didn't when they were smaller, and that requires more effort on my part (or more guilt if I just let them vegetate in front of the tv for awhile).

I once thought being with my children all day long, 13+ hours, listening to them fight, having all 3 of them talk to me at once would be easier once I only had one to deal with most of the day.  I thought that my energy reserve from not being with all three of them would allow me to function more gracefully in the 6 hours of the day that I am with them.  But I now realize that having 3 children with me, who fight with each other and all talk to me or need things from me at the same time, is just plain tiring, whether it is 12+ hours or half of that.

(Sometimes I think the daily "break of one child" is a curse because I forget the chaos of morning only to remember it when afternoon chaos commences.)

I once thought (because I'd heard some urban legend) that parenting gets easier as kids get older, but I haven't found that to be the case with kids 9, 6 and 4 years old.

It simply gets different.  

Monday, October 21, 2013

It's the most wonderful time of the year (for me)

I love fall.

Always have.

Sixteen years ago, before fall was all the rage for getting married, D and I chose this time of year to exchange vows.

As a kid, I remember walking up my street at dusk, hearing the leaves in the trees, feeling the cool breeze and watching birds congregate as they prepared for their long journeys south.  It was magical.

Purple, brown, orange....these are the colors that speak to me.  Not the pastel and pretty of spring.  Or the greens and reds of winter/Christmas.

And now, with children, I especially love the fall.  It brings the routine of school back into my life.  It brings lots of fun activities that don't involve spending loads of money or filling stockings or shopping.

I've always felt a bit of an old soul, and maybe this explains, in part, why I have always enjoyed the fall, a time of reflection on what has passed and what is to come; a time of cooling with a hint of warmth still at your back.

Trick or treating at our local zoo

G's kindergarten field trip to a nearby farm

Our family pumpkin-picking excursion yesterday

Annual fun playing in the leaves at Mamaw's house

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Why an old, used notebook is genius

We have an abundance of old notebooks.  N loves to draw so my neighbor has passed along half-used notebooks from when her children were in high school and college.

With G learning to read and write, it occurred to me that he would probably like a notebook of his own for writing letters and words.  This became especially clear once I started getting notes from him on my desk and bed.

And so I told him that he was getting his own notebook, just like N.

Wowee-Wow!  Talk about an excited kid.

This is what has been happening.

I started by asking him to help me think of words that rhyme with hug.

Then I told him I was going to write him a note, to which he replied:

Last night he nearly threw a fit because I told him we couldn't do rhyming words since it was so close to bedtime.

Today he did this on his own---thinking of words that rhyme with jump.

This is waiting for him on his bed (after I noticed him reading some of his Brand New Reader books to himself).

I forgot how completely cool it is when one's child becomes literate.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The shine came off it

The shine is off the teaching gig.  (Just like it is off marriage and child-rearing and every other thing in life.)

I am still enjoying myself tremendously, but a parent complained to my boss about the books I had chosen which made me doubt myself in the classroom and my literature choices and everything about taking this position.

It's been nearly a decade since I've taught, so I had been able to put a nice rose-colored patina on my time in the classroom, forgetting how many times parents weren't always and in every case 100% happy with what I did.

My skin is thin after all these years.

It has taken almost two weeks for me to stop thinking every phone call is a potential parent complaint, that every email is going to be a parent with concerns.

I know I am a good teacher.  I know because there have been numerous times when my students have said, "Well, I never thought about it like that" or "I didn't pay any attention to that" with their eyes agog with realization.  Because I was able to say last week to my high school students, "I wonder what someone would think if they walked in here and tried to decipher this stuff on the whiteboard:  Atticus Finch, Aslan, Jesus, Batman (not the hero they want, but the hero they need)."

I know because in all this work I am doing and have done to prepare to discuss these novels, I am learning so much, and if I am learning (having read these books at least a couple times and at age 40 with life experience under my belt) then I know these young people under my wings have to be learning too.

This is my story, and I'm sticking with it.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Stumbling into cool learning tools

Theft is my shtick.

I'm not creative enough to have great ideas of my own very often, so I've learned the fine arts of discovery and mimicry.

But there are occasions when I stumble onto ideas or activities or books that prove to be great tools in helping my kids learn or be more active or improve their awesomeness.

One of these recent stumbles is the book The Deep Blue Sea by Audrey Wood.  It is a perfect book to read to a preschooler and a kindergartener because they can both read aloud.  The color words are actually colored, so when we get to those M can chime in with "purple" or "blue" because he sees the color.  But the other words are simple and repetitive enough that G can read them (with occasional help from mom).  Talk about two little dudes who feel immensely proud of themselves for reading a book together!

The other stumble is making sidewalk obstacle courses for the kids, which even N enjoys.  Each square of sidewalk gets a different path route.  One square might be small rectangles that wind around the perimeter before ending at the start of the next square.  The adjoining sidewalk square consists of small circles with a break in between where I have made squiggly blue lines for water marks (so the kids have to jump over the ocean).  The next two sidewalk squares are white puffy clouds that the kids have to leap to, with the sun or other planets in between so they must leap over these obstacles to get to another cloud.  I've even done some circles with numbers or letters in them.  The kids can only jump onto the first letter of their first name or their age.

These chalk obstacle courses run from our driveway almost to our neighbors, which is a good 20+ squares.  In just a couple weeks I've used up a bucket of chalk that I've had sitting in the garage for years.

So four, so good

Dear M,

This week you turned 4-years-old, and while you are doing so many wonderful big-boy things, like peeing on the potty all by yourself and going to preschool two days a week, your growth and development are bittersweet to me.  Although you will always be my youngest child, you are most certainly not my baby anymore.

At four years, you are a very chatty little dude.  While it takes a bit for you to warm up, once you feel comfortable around someone you don't stop talking.  Ever.  Your mind is so full of things you wish to share that your mouth has a hard time keeping up.  If you aren't tripping over your own words, you are saying, "Hey.  Hey.  HEY!!!" to keep people's attention so they will

Although you still defer to G in most everything, you have been known to tackle him if he takes things too far.  When he tackles you back, you keep at him until both of you come crying to me.  As much as I dislike seeing you two fight, I can't help but get tickled at seeing you give him what for.  For the most part, though, you and G are partners in crime and very, very good buddies.  Every morning at the bus stop, you give each other sweet, cuddly hugs, and when my ears are not available for twiddling, you often seek out G's ears for comfort.

You are also very sweet on N, or "Wa" as you call her.  She tells you quite often that if you give her a kiss she will give you candy.  You have given her zillions of kisses but haven't quite picked up on the fact that you have yet to receive any sort of treat.

One of your favorite activities is being pushed on the swing, and you also enjoy running along the chalk obstacle courses I make on the front sidewalk.

You sing all the time.  One of my favorites is "Da wules.  Da wules.  Da wules of da classwoom."  Each week you come home from school with a new repertoire of music in your vast mental collection.  For a preschooler, you have pretty good rhythm (better than your siblings but don't tell them I said so; they take after Daddy in this regard).  It is fun to watch you imitate Jake and Finn from Adventure Time and some of their herky-jerky dances.

Even though you are my baby, I tend to think of you as my in-between child because your personality seems a blend of N and G and things were this way even when you were in utero.  I kept thinking if I have gestational diabetes, it's a girl, and if I don't, then it's a boy.  With you, I failed the first gestational diabetes test and passed the second.  And my pregnancy sickness with you was dry heaves, an in-between of the nausea I had with N and the chronic puking I had with G.

You were the puzzle piece that completed our family, the child who brought an end to that  yearning that things weren't quite done.  Adding you to the mix made the picture perfectly clear.

I love you sweet boy,


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Inaneness and childrearing

Sometimes I really, really wish I could be a fly on the wall in other people's houses so I could either see that everyone else's kids do some of the loud, obnoxious, annoying and stupid crap mine do or have definitive proof that I am simply not cut out for this mothering children business because I can't handle much of the loud, obnoxious, annoying and stupid crap.

Like as much as can be had in two hours worth of errands with all 3 kids.

Here are two things that drive me immensely crazy about my children:

Random, meaningless noise--
Today in the car, N started chanting "majunga" (which is an actual city in Madagascar although I don't think N knows this).  Over and over and over.
"Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  Pause.  "Majunga."
"Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  Pause.  "Majunga."
"Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  Pause.  "Majunga."
"Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  Pause.  "Majunga."
"Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  Pause.  "Majunga."
"Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  Pause.  "Majunga."
"Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  Pause.  "Majunga."
"Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  "Majunga."  Pause.  "Majunga."

See, that shit is irritating just looking at it.  Forget listening to it in the car.  For two hours.  More or less.

Watch me!--
I have no problem if my child wants to show me something she/he has never done before.  Or if the child is doing something really well.

But children, I've found, or at least mine, also want me to watch them do things that are either 1. completely mundane or 2. something at which they actually suck but they think they are great at it.  Either way, not only do I not want to watch, it is all I can do to muster a bored, "Meh" in the child's direction.

"Mom, watch me.....kick my legs towards the back (as if I'm a graceful ballerina) when really I look like a gangly giraffe trying to shake a turd off the back of my rear."

"Mom, watch me...pull my hands up into my sleeves and then try to pick up a toy and scream in utter frustration because with my limited fine-motor skills it is basically impossible."

I could probably think of other examples but they are so damn inane that I can't even bring them to mind.

(Note: The kids are on fall break, and I am reminded of why I felt so strung out by the end of summer.  One can only take so much of this junk.)

Friday, October 4, 2013

Being so "old school"

Reminder:  I reserve the right to change my mind about anything I say I will or won't do on this blog.  

I am all for diversity and variety, but diversity and variety can make it a complete pain in the ass to parent my kids the way I think is best.  If other parents do things too differently (read: cooler or more awesome than me), it just makes an already hard job harder.  That's the rub.

Some parents get all weirded out by the prospect of their kids going to school with kids who are of different races or are poor/come from the ghetto.

I get weirded out by parents who buy their kids lots of stuff.   And then I get pissed when I hear the parents who do this bitch about their kids always using said stuff or wanting more stuff all the time.

We don't have cable/satellite television.  We have two tvs in our home (which is one too many in my opinion), and none of them are in bedrooms.  The kids do not have cell phones or DSs.  They never had Tag systems or Leap pads or any of that other stuff for "teaching your children how to read."  We don't have an in-car dvd player (and the portable ones we do have only come out for rides longer than 2 hours).  The kids get toys on birthdays and at Christmas, and if they want anything beyond that they must pay for it themselves.

N will hit the decade mark next year, and it pains me to even think about her turning 13 (and not because of hormones).  Around these parts, turning 13 seems to be associated with "getting a cell phone," which I think is hugely ridiculous unless said 13-year-old has a regular babysitting gig and enough money to pay for his/her phone and monthly service.

Of course, we also have a landline because I don't want my kids talking on a cell phone.  Basically, I'm living in 1981.

I try my darnedest to keep my children thankful for what they do have and cognizant that stuff doesn't make a person happy (or doesn't make them happy for very long). This second part is a very, very difficult concept to instill in children when it seems like everyone else has more and better than what they have (in terms of toys and other superficial stuff).

Branching out in many directions

I feel like I'm having a personal renaissance of sorts.  

I.  Personal
For awhile now, I've been tinkering with the idea of starting to paint pictures.  Not take classes (although that is definitely a possibility in the future), but just seeing what I can do on my own.  I've done a few of those "wine & paint" activities, and it seems to me that many of the paintings I could really probably do on my own.  I'm not saying they don't require skill, but the skill level they require is pretty basic.  

I love fall/Halloween, and decorate accordingly, but I don't have anything to hang over my mantel so I thought I would find a picture online and attempt to recreate it on my own, in my dining room.  Without wine, even.  

And this is what I made:

When D came home and I showed him, he said, "What did you do with M while you and your mom did that?"  (My mom and I are attending a "wine & paint" event tomorrow, which he had seen on the Ical.)  

I said, "We didn't.  I painted that here."  He said something like, "In our house?," which I interpreted as, "Damn, girl--you are so freaking talented and awesome I cannot believe my luck in marrying you."  

II. Professional
I am certified to teach grades 5-9.  When I went to school for my MAT at age 24, I didn't want to teach high schoolers for two reasons:  1.  I knew they might be significantly bigger than me and 2. I thought they might be smarter than me.  I emotionally always felt like a middle schooler, so I thought it would be a good fit.  And it was.  

In my part-time teaching gig now, I am teaching middle- and high-schoolers, and I enjoy both tremendously.  But I must admit that being able to read deeper literature and talk about deeper topics with my high schoolers is awesome.  

Now that I've got some life behind me, I know that even if they are really, really bright, they haven't lived 40 years, and that counts for a lot.  I'm older, wiser, and on medication so my anxiety about teaching high schoolers is far, far diminished.  

Which makes me think that when I take classes in 2014 to re-renew my certificate, I will put them towards getting high school certified.  

Branching out in these ways feel really freeing, like this new act of my life is full of all kinds of possibility.  

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Turning 40

I snuck it in there....on the subtitle of my blog.

I am now a 40-something, part-time employed mood-disordered-mama which is very different from where I was on Nov 16, 2006 when I started this blog.  I was only a little ways into my "anxiety remission."  I only had 1 child.  I hadn't any desire to do anything but be a stay-at-home mom.

Seven years and two additional children sure do change things.

At one point I had considered getting a bunch of girlfriends together to go dancing on my birthday, but I decided against it.  For one, I teach on Fridays, so I am more or less worthless on Friday nights.  Secondly, as much as I sometimes think I'd like to have a night out on the town, ultimately I want to be with my family, spending time with them enjoying this fall weather.  And thirdly, I have just been too dang busy to plan something.  I really and truly don't need to add anything else to my list of things to do.

So I turned 40 without much fanfare, which is fine.

A few things have been on my mind as a result of hitting this milestone birthday.

First, it recently dawned on me that I am really and truly over people whom I thought hung the moon from my childhood.  Not that I had been living in the past, but I think the rosy fog of nostalgia (or forgetfulness) had made me continue thinking of people as I did when I was a kid.  Not that I don't think these people aren't nice or good or whatever, but I have found myself asking a bit, "What did I see in them back in the day because I sure don't see it now."  

Secondly, I have revisited one of the reasons I didn't originally want to have children, which is because I viewed having children as "the end."  It seemed like after a person married and finished having babies, there was nothing really remarkable or "big" that people oohed and ahed over.  I guess in a sense that is true, but being on the other side now, having been married a good long time and being DONE with childbearing, I certainly don't think there is nothing remarkable or big for the remainder of my life.

On this side of the fence, I see that there are many adventures awaiting me.  Seeing the kids grow up and being able to do fun things with them that we weren't able to do when they were itty-bitty.  Continuing my professional endeavors.  Traveling again with D.  Soaking up all this great wisdom and perspective that life keeps laying on me as time goes by.

I'm only like 2 weeks into this 40 thing, but so far, so good.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Super six

Dear G,

Tomorrow you turn 6-years-old.

Since before you were born, you have been doing things your own way, keeping me in a perpetual state of off-kilter that is mostly exhiliarating and sometimes exhausting.

You think deeply, surprising me and your dad with the depth of your questioning and desire to know. You are also tremendously funny, but perhaps not in a way that other kids your age appreciate like older people do.  While you can definitely be silly funny like other kids, because you are such a deep little thinker, your humor tends to be pretty cerebral.  (And since your daddy and I are also pretty cerebral you really crack us up!)

In some ways, you are very mature in your awareness of who you are and what you like. I don't know very many almost 6-year-old kids who do not want to be surprised on their birthdays but would rather be told what they are getting, and in being told do not throw fits demanding their presents before their parties.  You helped your Mamaw wrap your own birthday presents, and even a Christmas present, totally ok in delaying the opening for another 3 months.

You have adjusted to kindergarten like a champ, even when you had to switch teachers due to enrollment issues, being so sweet and charming that both teachers just love you to pieces.  I am proud that you are trying to be more independent by writing words and asking to learn to tie your shoes.

Even when you and I butt heads, and we often do, I am always so glad that you are my son.  As I've told you many times, the middle is what makes the Oreo so good, it is the expanse that connects the two sides of the river, it is the nutritionally filling part of every sandwich.

Your strong personality is what gives our family flavor, interest, chaos and delight.

I hope your 6th year is awesome and amazing!

I love you bub,