December 13, 2007

Grace

Barreling out of my car, arms loaded up fit to burst with grocery bags, I tilted back on my right heel, lifting my left knee to nudge the car door shut with my toes. As I tottered there on one foot like some sort of over-burdened flamingo, the gallon of milk hanging tenuously from my left pinkie finger slipped... and exploded on the garage floor.

Oops.

In a normal person, this episode would be followed by cursing, lurching about to reposition the bags and stem the flow of white across the garage floor.

For me, it was just another day. I sighed, muttered, "Oh! Oh, help!", fumbled the groceries back into the car and quickly lifted the damaged carton at an angle to keep it from leaking any more milk. A trail of white splotches followed me into the kitchen where I transferred the remaining milk to a pitcher and hollered to my husband to come help me with damage control.

He also barely batted an eye.

See, I am not exactly what you would call "graceful". A more accurate label, if you're into that kind of thing, would be "walking disaster" or perhaps "gravity-challenged" for the politically correct.

I have dropsies like nobody's business. And when I'm not dropping things, I'm running into things. In the course of an average day, yelps of pain and muttered curses hang around me like a cloud as I bump my head, my hip, my elbow, smash my fingers, my toes, my knees. I have had a pair of matching bruises on each hip for so long that I am now fairly convinced they have become part of my genetic material.

Kurt finds it all very amusing. Every night at dinner, as I drop pasta on my shirt (because, yes, I do it every night), he grins like I've just told him his stock options have hit $50. Honestly, he delights in my awkwardness. It gives him golden opportunities, left and right, to be the Big Strong Man as I bounce around on one foot moaning and groaning that THIS TIME I am positive I really broke my foot, for sure.

Even my girls think nothing of my foibles. I tripped going up (yes, UP) the stairs earlier this week, barely managing to save myself without ending up in an unsightly pile at the bottom of the stairs. My three-year-old daughter... giggled.

Giggled.

"Oh, Mama," says she. "You are so silly! You sure did take a tumble!".

Sigh.

There is a reason my mother didn't name me Grace.

November 27, 2007

Busy doing nothing

One of the hardest realities I've had to come to terms with in my life as a stay-at-home mom is also one of the hardest things to explain. At the end of the day, not every day, but often enough, I'm tired, flustered, and cranky. I feel like I've struggled, my body is sore and I can't remember basic words like "pantry" and "telephone".

I feel spent from everything I've spent the day doing. Which brings the obvious question; what, in fact, did I do all day?

Umm... well... I... there was... I started to... aw, forget it. I did nothing. Nothing all day.

The laundry isn't finished. The floor isn't swept. The playroom is a mess. No beds are made up. Dinner is only half prepared and there's a pile of dishes moldering in the sink. I didn't get ANYTHING done, right?

But... we colored 10 pictures and Anna can now stay in the lines. Silvia pushed the toy walker back and forth across the floor for 20 minutes and stands up to it all by herself. There were 2 phone calls to my mom-friends to lament my hair and complain about how sick I am of the Disney Channel, while Anna watches that same channel. There were 3 seperate attempts to move the wet laundry to the dryer, while at the same time keeping Anna from tackling Silvia and Silvia from eating sink cleanser.

There was one disastrous episode of trying to load the dishwasher where Silvia crawled over and got her hands around a knife in the silverware bin and I caught her just in time. There were 8 brief and interrupted attempts to check my e-mail and message board. There was a trip to my mom's, a trip to the grocery store, a trip to the park, a trip to Starbucks. There were 6 trips into and out of the car, shuttling various children, cups and bags up and out and in and around.

Depending on the day, there were music classes, playdates, and doctor appointments.

There were 5 time-outs, 7 potty breaks, (including singing and stories) not all successful, 3 dance breaks, 1 twenty-minute trek out to check the mail and see the squirrel and say hi to the neighbor's dog. There were 3 naps, in non-overlapping intervals, including stories, clothing changes and rocking chair cuddles. There was a silent snuggle to get the sleeping baby from the car to her crib, only to be woken up by her not-so-silent sister on the saxophone.

None of it accomplished much, none of it is tangible at the end of the day. There is nothing I can hold up to say, "See? I did this today! And I did it well and I'm proud!".

Instead, a pile of dishes mocks me and the wet laundry is starting to smell and will have to be washed again. You see, the thing about my job is that the proof of my skill will not manifest for years, maybe many years, to come. The time that I spend interacting and juggling and refereeing and disciplining and laughing and hugging and putting all the "real" stuff aside... there's no real way to measure that value, it's all done on faith and hope.

There is not always a tidy and obvious outcome at that end of my day; a neat pile of folded laundry and a sparkling kitchen with delicious smells coming from the oven, for instance. Still, take a closer look and, on the good days, the days that make it all worth it, you'll probably see something even better.

Two little girls, messy and smiling. One is still small and has a cheerio stuck to her cheek as she waves enthusiastically with a tamborine in one hand, blue eyes sparkling. The other is tall and her brown hair makes a frizzy and tangled halo around her face. She has ketchup stains on her fingers and shirt and is clomping about in my shoes. She is dancing with her own reflection from the (dusty) TV screen.

She is singing.

November 09, 2007

Learning Curve

I took Driver's Ed when I was 17. Aside from the gruesome, scare-you-into-driving-safe pictures, the one thing that stands out in my mind is how incredibly sore my arms were after that first week of driving, holding on to the steering wheel at the 10 and 2 positions. I remember the instructor teasing me about my spaghetti arms and saying that he could never understand why all his students were always trying to drive with their arms resting in their laps.

But I remember how sore I was; my triceps just ached for about a week from consciously supporting my arms to hold the wheel.

It seems silly, now. I mean, come on, how hard is it to hold the wheel? It seems ridiculous that something so simple was so hard for me, at first.

I keep hoping that this mommy and marriage thing will be like that, too, someday. That I'll look back at the rough spots and laugh at how hard it was for me at first, but how now I can't even fathom the difficulty. I keep hoping that eventually the learning, beginner part will be over and I'll get into the experienced and wise part.

I'm actually pretty positive that won't happen until possibly my deathbed, maybe. There's always going to be something that's one step ahead of me and I'll just have to keep adjusting, reacting and working to catch up. My muscles will always be a little bit sore from holding myself up and steady every day, there's just no getting around it. But I still hope, nonetheless.

Inexperienced and unwise beginners are pretty naive that way.

October 22, 2007

Limited Time Only

You know it's the holidays, not by the first Christmas Tree at Macy's, not by the first snow covering the treetops, but by the appearance of that special container of ice cream at the supermarket.

Peppermint Ice Cream, in the pink case. How you mock me.

As Kurt put Anna to bed last night, I scarfed down a bowl in secret at my computer. He came down and sat in the living room and I tried to stealthily sneak past him with my bowl to the kitchen.

You know, so I could go get more. Come on people, it's only available for a limited time only, I have to get it while the getting is good!

So, I scoop out another bowl of white and pink minty heaven and take it into the living room, all casual, to sit next to my husband as we watch some TV.

"Is that your second bowl?", he asks, staring at me in disapproval.

Here's me: "What? This? No. Umm. Ok, yes. But, umm. What?"

gobble, munch, slurp. Trying to swallow as quickly as possible in case he tries to take it away.

LIMITED TIME ONLY, right? Don't mess with my special ice cream.

Besides, it's sort of almost the holidays, right? That means a little extra treat for everyone.

October 16, 2007

Drama, drama, drama and a moment of peace

It seems like I spend all day running from one highly emotional event to the next. Either with the kids, or with friends, or family and the husband or the absolutely horrible driver who just cut me off and then screamed obscenities out the window at me loud enough to scare my kids, (not that I'm being specific or anything).

Everything becomes hectic and intense and dramatic at some point, even if only for a brief period of time. The hard days are when that it all happens all at once. Power struggles with my two-almost-three-year-old can drain me every bit as much as sorting out the budget with my spouse. Usually more, truth be told. No relationship is simple for long and I suppose that is as it should be. Anything that stayed too simple would probably become stagnant or boring, eventually. Friendships that I depend on have to be challenged from time to time, just to remind me of their importance if nothing else.

And then, in the midst of all the she-said-she-said, "mommy-I-want"s, baby-wailing-for-no-reason, "Sweetheart, is that a Target bag in your car?", to-do list, grocery shopping, laundry that will never be done, party-planning, picture-taking, scrapbooking, depression overcoming...

I find a moment of peace. My two little girls, my sweet and happy and beautiful little girls, fall asleep for afternoon naps AT THE SAME TIME.

IN THEIR OWN BEDS.

The house is ringing with silence. I can hear the water draining in the refrigerator and the sound of a truck passing on the next block over. The clock over my head ticks off the precious seconds in a hypnotic rhythm.

And I have a choice. Do I take this moment of my very own and attend to all the drama and mounting laundry? Or do I simply sit back, enjoy the quiet, and let the peacefulness wash over me, wearing away at the rough edges before they get too sharp?

I have a choice.

October 08, 2007

Missing

It is lonely, ever so slightly, to not have a best friend. Don't get me wrong, I have lots of wonderful friends. My husband rolls his eyes every morning as he heads out the door because the phone almost always rings right at 8 o'clock, someone looking for me, to chat over coffee and start the day.

I have friends I trust and friends that make me laugh and friends that let me cry and friends that hold me and friends that push me and friends that have known me for half my life. Many of them are relatively new friends, but they are all wonderful.

But I don't have a best friend, or more precisely, a best girlfriend. That woman who knows you inside and out, even upside down. The one who knows your biggest fears and most secret jokes. The person who you see and, without even thinking about it, lower all your pretenses and defenses, the friendship that you just sink into so it can envelope you and in many ways, become a part of you. Somehow along the way of graduating from college, working, getting married, having kids, moving around and leaving the workforce, I've lost many friends. And I lost my best friend.

I know it's probably just the natural progression of time, growth and distance combined. Some things grow together, others grow apart. Part of me wonders at my flaws, that somehow I've destroyed something great through a series of errors and missteps worthy of the Three Stooges. Either way, or even a combination of stooge-i-ness and time, there's no going back. For good or ill, my best friend of old is no longer mine. And while I am sure I will eventually have another, that relationship will always be exceptional.

Every now and then, from time to time, moments come across when I just want to pick up the phone and hear one particular voice and be buried in all the overwhelming memories, comforts and pains that go with it...

It's lonely.

September 02, 2007

Waaaaa-AAAAAAAAAAAHHH!!!

My day, my life, is full of screaming. Screaming, whining, growling, crying. I listen to it throughout the day, every day. 95 percent of the time, it just rolls right through me. I nod sympathetically, I look stern and administer discipline, I dole out hugs, kisses, cuddles and timeouts as the situation calls. Sometimes I just blatantly ignore it, if that's what the moment calls for.

That other 5 percent of the time? I lose my fucking mind.

I know it's gonna be a bad moment for mommy when the first 30 seconds of sound out of my adorable baby daughter's mouth sets me to screaming- AT HER.

"STOP IT! Just stop crying, what do you WANT from me????". Then I feel like a fool; yelling at a 6 month old, who does that? I cringe at the sound of my own frustration and immediately try to cover my faux pas with false motherly tenderness. "I mean, sweetie, what do you need? Hmm? Cutie?"

Add to that helpless baby cry the unending chorus of a toddler whining, "Mama, Mama, Mama, I want a treat, I want a treat, Mama, I want a treat, Mama, Mama, Mama, Mama, I want a treat, I want a...", and I start to have very physical reaction to my offspring that I cannot hide.

I get tense, my ears start to throb and my shoulders reach up high in a defensive and instinctive posture. Heat courses through my arms, legs and head, leaving me sweaty and uncomfortable.

This only happens for my own children, of course. I can babysit for friends who will swear up and down that their babies are the most irritating and not feel the slightest twinge. There's just something about their cries, something so primordially HORRIBLE, sometimes, that makes me want to... well, you know (do things that of course I would never do because they are very wrong and children are precious so of course it's all just a passing flare and violence is very wrong I know that I'd never actually raise a hand to them of course not not me no way uh-huh it was just a momentary flash of a thought).

It's funny, too, that I can go weeks, whole weeks, in and out, day after day alone with these girls in top form, and remain patient and impervious. Then, out of nowhere, I spend 15 minutes on a random weekend with them crawling up my ass and I just want to pop their little heads off and start my own game of indoor soccer.

I actually said to my 2-year-old today, as she was asking me for the umpteenth time for a snack after just refusing to eat her dinner, "Anna, I need you to stop talking. You must stop talking, you have to stop talking for FIVE MINUTES. Okay? Do you understand? NO TALKING WHATSOEVER."

It worked about as well as you would expect.

I love my children. I find them fascinating and adorable and often very amusing. I honestly believe that they are very intelligent and their behaviors are above average for their age groups. I think they are special, and not in a short-bus kind of way.

But sometimes, their ability to seek out and destroy the one last peaceful nerve-ending in my brain makes me want to leave the country.

By myself, with nothing but my passport and the contents of our savings account.

And the best sound-deadening earphones that money can buy.

August 30, 2007

Sisters

I was just reading through the old blog posts from when Anna was Silvia's age. It's amazing the differences, both between the two of them and also in me.

Even at 6 months, it was clear that Anna was developing at a different rate, though at the time it didn't stand out as much as it does now when compared to Silvia's standard milestone achievements. But while she wasn't as physical as Silvia is now, Anna was definitely a more interactive and reactive baby. A lot of her personality developed in response to the acute frustrations she dealt with physically as she battled her weak muscles and coordination to do that things that her mind wanted to do. Because she couldn't engage people as much physically, she was found other ways, usually noisy ways, of getting attention.

Silvia is happy. She's just a happy little kid. She plays, she gurgles, she grins, she putters, she smiles, she eats things (anything she can get her hands on). She's about to start crawling, she pulls hair and likes to chew on her toes. It's all very cute and sweet and normal. Anna was much more involved with me, needed the attention and responses, was very loud, both in her happiness and her displeasure.

Part of the difference, too, is that I have relaxed. I'm not acutely in tune to ever sound, movement and facial expression Silvia makes. I couldn't tell you which toy she last put in her mouth. I'm definitely not in tears on the nights that she has to cry herself to sleep for a few minutes after I put her down. I'm not indifferent to her, it's not that; it's just that I know, I KNOW, that she's okay, I'm okay, we're all okay and this is kind of the easy part. I let moments coast when they need to. It's the self-confidence of the second child, I suppose.

But at the same time, there's things I wish hadn't gone by so fast. Silvia used to just fall asleep in my arms every time I nursed her. It was only a few months ago, but it feels like years. I'd look down at her little limp hands, her lips still pursed and suckling on air, her full tummy a bump under her clothing. I'd lay her down and she'd just relax into the blanket or chair, settled and calm.

I never got to lay Anna down when she was that age. I had the luxury, and sometimes the curse, of just holding her for hours until she woke up. I'd nurse her and she'd relax against my arms, but I knew that there was an innate tension to her, that she would wake in a moment if I set her down. So we'd sit there, snuggled in together, for her nap. Sometimes I'd read or watch TV or sleep, but many times I'd just hold her, watching her stillness.

At 7 months, Anna was still having trouble trying to sit up and had not started rolling around yet. She spent a lot of time tumbling around the floor, squirming, reaching, laying on her belly and just struggling to get to anything. Those moments where she'd sleep in my arms were really the only times I'd get to see her totally at peace, her face and body relaxed, her mouth open and her fingers stretched wide.

Silvia is old enough now, at nearly 7 months, that she nurses and watches the whole world at the same time. She looks around, checks out what Anna is doing, and finishes up as quickly as possible. And then she's off to the next thing. The sleeping baby of spring has been replaced with the enthusiastic and active baby of fall. She's raring to go and has the strength to do it. Anna was raring to go, too, but it took her longer to build up those muscles.

And now they are both, in their own way, hitting new milestones, new achievements. And I suppose that I am, too.

August 29, 2007

Love or Money

It's been 5 days since my $0-spending challenge began. I have to say, it's been... interesting. There are so many ways that small amounts of money become integral to the day-to-day socializing of life.

Grabbing a quick lunch after a playdate at the park, for instance, or having an evening coffee with friends. I do this all the time, several times a week, without ever thinking about it. I drive to my mom's house for a morning visit on the days she works from home and almost always pick up a Starbucks on the way.

As if I would somehow be unwelcome if I didn't come bearing a treat? As if my friends wouldn't want me there if I wasn't buying a drink and some pie?

Not spending money is proving to be much more than just a financial endeavor. There's a completely emotional side to it that I am really struggling with, that I was almost totally unaware of.

When I worked in Denver, at a PR agency downtown, I was living paycheck-to-paycheck in an apartment I could not afford with a lifestyle that was completely outside my realm of maintenance. I desperately wanted to fit in with the "cool kids" at the agency, and every day would find myself tagging along on these $20 lunches at expensive restaurants, just so I could hang out and try and get the in-crowd jokes.

It was very much like high school, only with cocktails and Biaggi's instead of Dr. Pepper and Burger King.

And every day, I'd be the only one writing a check; everyone else paid with credit cards or cash. They'd tease me about how annoying it was to have to get my own separate check, I'd blush and make some muttered comment about forgetting to hit the ATM.

The truth was that my check book could have bounced to the moon with all the bad checks I was writing. The truth was that I couldn't hit the ATM because my account was perpetually overdrawn. The truth was that there wasn't a credit card company out there that would have me, I was so deep in debt and late fees.

So I wrote checks for everything, the bank cleared them and then added another $20 fee against my account. It was a mess. I was a mess. I had no ability to prioritize the luxuries of life, like lunches out every day, against the necessities of life, like paying my rent.

I lost that job, by the way. I never fit in and the harder I tried, the more of an awkward wannabe I became. Buying social time with my co-workers didn't get me anywhere except back into my mom's basement with a stack of bills I couldn't pay.

The point here is that I have always confused having money with having a social life. At this point in my life, with this little experiment, I am finally coming to understand that I don't need to pay in order to spend time with the people I care about and, more importantly, who care about me. Sure, it's nice to meet friends for lunch, but the reality is, they'll still be my friends if I can't.

August 27, 2007

Blog Stalker

I am a stalker. I lurk, skulk, prowl and sneak (and I have a thesaurus).

When I have down time, like nap time or after bedtime or everyone-is-playing-and-not-screaming-at-me time, I surf the net. It's my retreat from the reality of "mommy's home with the kiddies and hasn't spoken in adult sentences for 6 hours straight".

I look, first thing, at "my" message board. I call it mine, though really it's not, it's just the board for the mom's group all my friends are in. Truth be told, I check The Board several times a day, often feeling frustrated and disappointed when there are no new posts. I mean, come on! If I have time to check, y'all need to make time to post! The Board is my addiction. There's usually a window for it up on my screen all day, whether I am at my computer or reading Anna The Lorax on the potty for the nine-hundred-and-forty-third time that day.

After The Board, I make the rounds on my favorite blogs; Maida's blog, Candy's blog about Misha (which, by the way, no pressure, but you haven't updated since April. I'm just saying, maybe it's time, she'll only be this young once, but who am I to talk...), Shanyn's blog, Crazy Aunt Purl, to name a few. I read, I peruse and hey, if I have an extra moment, I go back through the older posts that I may have missed, not that I miss many, but I should check, right? Stranger things have happened than someone posting while I wasn't paying attention.

Then, when these sites fail to pop up anything new, I hit the next tier; family, other friends, random blogs where I liked something someone wrote once and I'm hoping it might happen again. I usually scan through all of these pretty quickly, in between verses of "If You're Happy and You Know It."

Someone once told me there's something called Blog Lines that shows you whether there's new posts on the things you read a lot so you don't have to actually go and click on that site to check. Some new-fangled invention called an "RSS Feed" or something, says it saves you precious seconds each day. Since my whole purpose in web-surfing is to waste precious seconds, I prefer to live my life old-school, ya dig? Word.

Anyway, back to the point, however meaningless it might be. I am a stalker. I peek into all these different sites, usually online journals and such, hoping for a look into other people's lives. I once told someone that her blog was a window for me into her thoughts, since she wasn't talking to me very much anymore. A few days after that comment, she shut that window. She started another blog, which I found awhile back in my meandering. We don't know each other anymore, but I still go to take a peek in as I make my rounds of the World Wide Web.

I never comment on blogs, or only very rarely. The funny thing is, though, I'm always a little bit irate that more people don't comment on my own postings. Nothing like a little hypocrisy to warm the cockles of your heart, right?

Anyway, is it bad etiquette to read a blog when you don't know the person or, worse, when you used to know the person? If my mom's online journal came across my screen one day in my "travels", should I immediately click away? Is it intruding to read these things if you haven't been invited?

I never really thought so before. I mean, it's the INTERNET, after all. I never post anything unless I'm comfortable knowing that my mom, my husband and everyone I've ever met could be reading it. Sometimes I push that comfort level on the hope that someone won't see it, doesn't know about the blog, but I'm always prepared for the consequences. In general, I post with the full knowledge that this is a public forum. I found a special post, just for me, today on an old friend's blog and now I wonder if I've been wrong in my idle curiosity.

Since I know now that it bothers her, that it brings up questions for her and confuses her, I've taken her "window" off of my daily blog spree. I didn't mean anything by it; sometimes a web click is really just a click. I never thought the day would come where I'd have to justify my web-surfing, but here we are.

Now leave some comments, dammit! *hehehee*

August 25, 2007

Shopping Around

I spend too much money. I know I do. Even as I am doing it, as I hand over the credit card, I know that I shouldn't, that I don't need it, whatever that "it" is at that particular moment.

I can make coffee at home, I already have a purse, I don't need any more new clothes, I can get books at the library, and there's absolutely no need for me to be eating out for lunch when I can make a sandwich in my own kitchen. Financially, my life is very comfortable, but that doesn't mean I have to stretch the budget to it's breaking point every month. Just because it's there doesn't mean the money has to be used up.

I know all these things, I do! So why, oh why oh why, do I spend?

I'd say the first and foremost, and totally embarrassing, reason is because it's there. Because I'm bored and Target is two seconds from my front door and if I can't find anything I want, I can probably get a book or toy to amuse the girls for an extra 20 minutes that day. It's a way to pass the time.

That's awful, isn't that awful? Yeesh. I sound like Paris Hilton, (well, if you replace "Target" with "Gucci"; I don't think that girl has ever heard of Target). I'm really not as spoiled and ridiculous as that makes me sound. Or at least I hope I'm not.

I'm just an in-the-moment kind of girl, I'm very impulsive. Maida says I have a permissive nature, as in, there's a little voice in my head that says, "Aw, just go ahead, Meg, why not? Who's it gonna hurt?".

But the truth is that it hurts ME. And my husband and my girls and, on a larger scale, the whole world. I realize that sounds a bit dramatic, but seriously, think of all the bags and packaging and half-eaten meals and pointless plastic whatnots. Our world is covered in the leftover mess of my (and others) permissive nature. I'm teaching my daughters by my example and frankly, this is not a habit I want them picking up. Finally, there's my husband, my poor husband. He's been patient to the extreme, he tries so hard to never say anything, we almost never argue about money. But I know it drives him crazy. He's one of those naturally thrifty people, so being married to a financially reckless person is it's own special torture. I wouldn't say that the future of my marriage rests on me learning to rein in my spending, but it's definitely something that could turn into a wedge between us over time, if left unchecked.

A few months ago, I participated in a Great TV Turnoff experiment. Me and some of my friends unplugged from TV Land for 7 days straight. No kids shows, no Daily Show, it all went black. I thought it would be really hard, and there were a few moments where I desperately wanted to soothe the savages with an episode of Little Einsteins, but it turned out to be a really great week. It forced me to find other ways to pass the time, to call on my creativity and think outside the Black Box.

It's time to challenge myself again and it's definitely time for a swift (figurative, please) boot to the head. For the next 30 days, I'm going on a spending boycott. If it's not essential, I'm not buying it. No books, no lattes, no lunches, no toys, no clothes. Nothing. This means groceries that we will actually be eating and only what's on the list. This means bringing my lunch to playdate instead of stopping at the drive-thru. This means no Starbucks, Old Navy or Borders.

This means no Target. Not once, not for 30 days. (As Kurt reads this line, he'll first jump for joy. Then he'll laugh his ass off, because I'm sure he doesn't think I have a chance in hell of sticking to it.)

Don't think I can do it, either, do you? Watch and see. Leave me a comment with your predictions. I'll post my progress... and if I fail, I promise to own up to it.

And keep the receipts for returns.

August 22, 2007

Belly Flop

"You don't really have the figure for a bikini, you're a little too chubby around the middle."

A family friend said this to me when I was 11. ELEVEN. I was young and cute and puberty had only barely brushed my surface and I just wanted something fun for the 6th grade pool party. She didn't mean any harm. But to this day I have NEVER worn a bikini, ever... because, you see, I just don't have the figure for it.

It's funny how these little random comments, said off-the-cuff and with no malicious intent, can stick with you for so long. At eleven years old, without realizing what was happening, the foundation for my self-image was laid down. Every time I look in the mirror, there's a part of me that murmurs some version of that one, devastating line.

I have let that moment color every other experience having to do with how I look. When I'm around thin people, I make jokes about how big I am because I am convinced that they are thinking it, too, so why not just say something and get it all out in the open? It's a habit that drives my husband crazy. He always gets this look on his face, the closest to angry he ever really comes with me, and says some version of, "Sweetheart, PLEASE don't do that. There's nothing wrong with the way you look!".

In those moments, the "sweetheart" is a euphemism.

I don't mean to say that Ithink I look like some sort of genetic mistake or anything. All in all, I feel very comfortable saying that I'm a generally pleasant-looking kind of girl. Give me an extra hour to primp and spritz, I'll upgrade that to pretty, in an average sort of way. Nice hair, good eyes, bright smile, long legs. It's the stuff in between all those that bugs me.

I'm not thin. Never have been, probably never will be. I'm just not a size 2 (or 4, or 6) kind of girl. Heck, the 8's are even groaning in protest these days. Let's just call it a 10 and be done with it.

There's all kinds of words to describe me. Voluptuous. Curvy. Full-figured. My brother told me after I got dressed up for a party, when I was 15, that I looked like I had an enormous watermelon strapped to my chest. (Thanks for that one, by the way, Val. Another one of those comments that stick with you for life.)

And yet...

I have a friend who told me once that that way I feel around "all those thin, beautiful people" is the way she feels around me. This totally floored me, I had absolutely no response at all. I think I tried to make a lame joke and quickly change the subject. How could that be possible? What the HELL was she talking about?

It's very hard for me to have any kind of objectivity on this matter and, of course, this is an area where objectivity is key. How do you objectively look at yourself? I can accept, with reservations, that what I see in the mirror may not be what everyone else sees, but how do you change the view from your own eyes?

I want to be philosophical about it all. I want to, and often do, say that I think I look great, that I'm happy with myself the way I am, that I'm a healthy and active mother of two, that my husband thinks I'm "smokin' hot" and that's all that matters. But behind all that socially evolved language lies the totally insecure and raw truth. I wish I looked different, I'm embarrassed by my flaws and I'm sure that everyone who sees me instantly judges me as a lazy fat girl.

Insecurity is so unattractive. It's way worse than any muffin-top or spare tire. I suppose that I have to try and choose which remarks I'll let stick from now on. Learning to let the other things slide off is going to have to be my next big challenge. I have a feeling it's going to take me a lot longer to accomplish than it should.

It's probably time to go try on another two-piece swimsuit. It's been 19 years, after all.

NEXT summer. Small steps, right?

August 06, 2007

Kids should be exempt

I was going to write something about how unmotivated I've been feeling; writer's block, sedentary life, kids watching extra TV. It was going to be something like, "Yadda, yadda, yadda... and I'm just feeling so stagnant in my life right now."

Then I heard about Charlie. Charlie is the daughter of a friend of mine, one of a pair of twin girls and little sister to their oldest son. Charlie is sweet and cute and beautiful and growing and not even a year old. She's sitting and learning to crawl and talk and explore this great big world.

She also has seizures, sometimes horrible seizures, where they have to perform rescue breathing on her small baby body to bring her back from a breathless and blue reality. No one seems to know why.

For a while it seemed like she was doing better, but now she's had three this week alone. And it's only Monday.

Her parents are the most genuinely positive, modest, solid and graceful people I have ever met. They continue to live their lives, actively and lovingly parent all of their children, find time for friends, humor and community. They rarely ask for help, preferring to lean on each other when it starts to get too scary. They are dealing with a future of a million horrific what-ifs and they seem to take it all in a stride.

I sat down tonight prepared to whine that I can't think of anything to write, my pants are too tight, and I'm sick of watching the Disney Channel with my girls.

Instead I'm filled with a vast thankfulness for all that is good in my life. I wish I could do more to help my friend, I wish I could help Charlie. I wish there was something I could DO; actually, physically do that would help their family and alleviate all the fearful unknown that surrounds their baby.

But that's not how the world works. I can't always step in and save someone just because I want to. Bad things should never, ever happen to children, but they do.

Aside from appreciating my own good fortune in life at this exact moment, (which feels selfish, somehow...), what can I, in reality, do?

All I can come up with is to take my cue from Charlie's parents, and just keep on engaging this world of infinite possibilities, good and bad. I can try and be the best parent to my girls, I can take care of my family, laugh with my friends, support my community when the call goes out. I can use and maintain the body I have which, despite my best efforts to the contrary, is still whole and functional and strong. I can pray for healing for Charlie. I can foster a positive attitude even when I'm feeling doubt.

And next time I see that little girl, she's getting the biggest kiss I can muster, right before I tackle her parents with a big hug. Because that's all I can do.

July 09, 2007

Internet notoriety

Holding each other in the darkness. Kissing.

And then he says...

"Did you brush your teeth?"

"Did I- what!?", my hand leaps up to cover my mouth. "YES! Of course I did! Why? How could you just SAY that in the middle of kissing me?"

I jump from bed, furiously grabbing my tooth brush, AGAIN, then rinsing with mouthwash for good measure.

"Sweetie, come on, it's not a big deal, I just thought you maybe forgot."

"Forgot? Seriously? It was so bad you couldn't just let it go for the 12 minutes we needed?"

"Hey, be nice. Maybe 15 minutes. It wasn't that bad, really. Just seemed like you hadn't brushed since this morning. And, you know, we had garlic with dinner. Maybe you forgot, it could happen. Sometimes I forget."

As he talks on, digging the hole deeper and deeper around him, I shake with outraged laughter.

"You're really still going with this? You realize that the more we talk about my stanky breath, the less chance you have of getting any kind of action, right?"

"Awww.... come on, it wasn't that bad." He tries to reach for me, pull me back in.

"Seriously, mister, you need to hush up."

Laughing, we lean towards each other, the potential of the moment starts to return. Then, just as our lips meet again, still laughing a bit...

***THHHBBBBBBBPPPPPPTTTTTTTT***

"Oops. Sooooorrry. Excuse me... you made me laugh, I was all relaxed. No! Don't go over there! Come on, sweetie... you brushed your teeth and everything!"

"Oh. My. GOD. I love you, babe, but the moment is over. Gone. Done. Go to sleep."

Silence for a moment, heavy sighing from his side of the bed.

Then, "This is going on the blog, isn't it?"

"It is SO going on the blog. Good night."

July 06, 2007

Why I go to Starbucks

Inside my life, it's a mess. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, psychologically... basically any "-ly" you can get, I've managed to trash it up a little.

In the literal sense, there's my car. Anna's car seat is full of crumbs, crackers, raisins, sand and an ever-so-faint leftover smell of vomit. Silvia's has dried spit-up on the straps; well, actually, on everything. There are dirty blankets, old shoes, burp clothes, Kleenex, baby carriers, old crackers, grass, science experiment sippy cups, and on and on and on.

It's a dumpster on wheels.

And that's just my car. Apply that image to my mind, my closet, the playroom, my relationships, and you'll start to get a better idea of the chaos that is me.

I don't want to be a mess. I try not to be, I really do. Sometimes I even manage to keep it all together. But even on the good days, I'm having trouble. I seem to be spending a lot of time doubting myself, my fitness as a mother, a wife and a friend. I try to laugh it off, shake myself and just get through the day, but a fine web of cracks has broken through my armor. I've never been all that tough, you see, and lately I feel about as formidable as a feather.

I keep trying to figure out why this is so hard. Other people do what I do, and more, every day and they seem to keep it together just fine. That line of thinking always leads me down a path I would love to never see again, a path that I can't seem to get off. Maybe I can't do this because I'm weak, I'm less than all the other people that are just fine, I'm flawed in a way that they are not.

Because every time I start to feel like I've gotten on top of my life, within days or even just hours, I fall backwards, breathless and out of control, feeling lost and a little more helpless than the time before.

This week it started with a gray fog, settling down over my vision, muting colors, blurring priorities, numbing emotions. How it's possible to look out at a summer day, full of life and heat and color, and see only dry wind and brown grass, I don't know. But that's exactly what my sight has been limited to.

Then every time the girls would cry, I'd flinch a little, then everything I hadn't done that I needed to do started to become, instead of just a list in my head, a physical obstacle that I could not walk around.

So what did I do? Well, as always, I turned first to Kurt. He's my center, he keeps me grounded, brings me back when I feel like I've gone too far away. We're trying to get through this together and I'm absolutely convinced that I'd have to be locked up if it wasn't for him.

But then, after a reality-check and (yes, I'll admit it) an ego-boost from my rock of a husband, I did the next best thing. I went to Starbucks.

I know it sounds stupid. "Starbucks? That makes you feel better? Seriously?"

But here's how it works. Internally, I'm all messed up, I'm chaotic and stormy and inconsistent. I look through the glass into that little coffee shop that sits on every corner of every town across the country. It's the same, wherever you go. Warm, inviting earth tones envelope the people inside. They sit in big comfy chairs or around small bistro tables, relaxed and contained, sipping from white cups filled with poise and culture and intellectual thought.

Usually I'm just hitting the drive-thru, looking into that enlightened atmosphere from the confines of disorder and confusion that is my car. The girls might be crying and I've got "Twinkle Little Star" playing on a constant loop. The barista (see, she's not even just the sales girl, she's a barista!) hands me my drink through the window with a smile, and with it she hands a little bit of what's inside.

It is a promise land of everything I lack. Peace, uniformity, cerebral stimulation all packaged neatly up as a frothy hot beverage. I sip, close my eyes, feeling the heat from the coffee course down into my body. It's not just espresso and milk, it's fortification against the haze that clouds my vision.

I know it's all just a lie...but it's a really good, convincing lie and I'll take it.

July 02, 2007

It's so OBVIOUS

Why can't men listen? I mean, come on! Women, in general, are very clear and concise and up front about our needs and desires. Women are the natural communicators of the species. I just don't get why guys have to tune out half of the information and then go into full offended-dignity-mode when we point out that they completely missed EVERYTHING.

Here's an example. Sunday afternoon, a miracle happened. Anna went down for her nap and then suddenly, Silvia decided she was tired, too! They went to sleep AT THE SAME TIME. It was amazing. I came out of the nursery and stood for a minute, reveling in the total quiet that was cradling the house.

The plan of action for the afternoon was clear; both kids were sleeping and Kurt and I were alone in the house! It was nooner time!

I went downstairs to the kitchen, smiled, and gave my hubbie The Look.

"I'm going to head to the grocery store while the girls are asleep, is there anything you need?"

OHMYGOD. What was WRONG with this guy?! I sent him The Look again, and since he was being extra oblivious, I also went over and gave him the Extra Tight Hug.

"Ooooof! Careful, sweetie, my back's sore today."

At this point, I started to get mad. I hate it when he just totally shoots me down like that. He needed to apologize to me, which of course he would when he saw how much he had hurt my feelings. I headed over to the couch and plopped down in a Major Pout, waiting for his mea culpa.

And waiting.

And waiting.

He was in the kitchen, still making his stupid grocery list! I was sitting on the couch in the other room, clearly very upset at his cruel rebuke of my sexual advance, and he was just ignoring it! By this point I was totally furious.

"Okay, sweetheart, I'll be back in a little bit..." He looked at my face more closely. "Ummm... is everything okay?"

"Yes."

"Oh, okay. You're sure?" He was standing there like everything was okay! What was wrong with this guy?

"Yes. I'm FINE."

"Okay, I'll be back in a bit." And then he had the nerve to kiss me good-bye.

So, I sat and fumed while he was gone, going over the whole encounter in my head. We had an obvious opportunity for some quality time, I flirted and propositioned him, he turned me down, and then refused to apologize when I made it clear I was very upset.

When he came back with the groceries, I was Not Talking To Him.

"Why are you so quiet?"

I glared.

"I got salmon for dinner, I'm going to grill it on cedar planks."

I rolled my eyes and stomped off to the refrigerator.

Fine. Since he was going to play all obtuse, I guess I was going to have to bring it up. It's not good to let these things fester. How come I always end up doing all the WORK in our relationship? Doesn't he understand that it takes effort and maintenance?

You know," I said, "It's just possible that I'm feeling a little under-appreciated right now. It's just possible that I need some attention."

He stared at me, eyes big and round. "What?"

Twirling around, I bit off the words. "I can't believe you decided to go to the grocery store instead of having a nooner with me! You just turned me down flat!"

Kurt glanced frantically around the room, like he was looking for something; probably a fast exit. "What? When? How did I miss that?"

Sigh.

"Well, it's too late now, Anna's waking up. You never listen to me."

A heartbeat of total silence.

Then, with a deep sigh, he said, "Oh, boy." He got up, gave me a hug, said something about getting together after the girls go to bed, and started to put away the groceries.

And that's how it goes, all the time. I just don't understand how he missed all of that. It's so obvious what I was saying, but somehow he just tunes out half the information.

Men!

Honestly, what do I have to do? Spell it out for him every time?

July 01, 2007

The morning after the morning after

I am getting old. It's the only conclusion possible at this point.

The night I met Kurt, I was out at the bar, drinking and flirting with this REALLY CUTE GUY (ohmygodhedrivesaPorsche) until 3 in the morning. He dropped me off at my friend's house, where my car was, and I napped on her couch until I was able to drive at about 5:30 or so. Then I went home, napped a little more, showered and headed to work by 8:30.

And I was fine. A little sleepy, maybe, but fine. No headache, no suspicions that something had died and putrefied in my mouth over night, no sudden dizzy spells, hot flashes and unsightly burping (too much information, hmm?).

When Kurt came into the bookstore to see me at about 11 that day, I was chipper, excited and flattered that he remembered my name. And I was ready for another long night out drinking and partying into the wee hours.

Without having to take a nap.

I am not that girl anymore, sad to say. My wild night o'wacky fun was Friday, and I was home and unconscious by 12:30 A.M. I crept through the day yesterday, wincing at the splinters of daylight stabbing my brain all afternoon and napped for two hours before dinner. I treated my hangover with Tylenol, water, coffee, food, Tylenol and finally... a glass of wine. Nothing like the hair of the dog that bit ya, right?

We went over to our friends house last night for some grill burgers. It's a bit of a tradition for us to hang out there with the kids. We sit around and drink a bit and let them wind down with the TV and toys until they pass out, usually carrying their sleepy little bodies to the car close to midnight.

We were home before 10.

And now it's the morning after the morning after and I'm just starting to see my full recovery hovering on the horizon. Nothing actually aches anymore, I have finally brushed my teeth enough to clear away the last of the roadkill, and my stomach seems to have settled down and resumed it's normal programming schedule.

I am getting old, my friends. I just can't bring it like I used to and I definitely can't bounce back like the night life never happened. I feel like someone should be responsible, right? What happened, what changed in my life that weakened me so? I'm sure you can see the connection, right? Right? The moment where it all turned around? Five years later and I'm a hung-over-sad-sack for days after the fact?

Kurt. Exactly, y'all.

June 30, 2007

A cure for what ails you

A thin, staticky wail breaks through the dark stupor in my head.

Cracking one eyelid open with difficulty, I turn my head towards the sound from the baby monitor. Oooooh, a mistake. As my head shifted, so did the world.

The room is spinning. I close my eye. The room spins faster. Ugh.

The baby's cry goes up a notch, making the transition from tired and confused to hungry and awake.

With a crusty groan, I roll over and pry both eyes open this time. The clock says 6:15 A.M. My (equally crusty and spinning) husband next to me struggles out of bed to go get the baby. He brings her to me, I roll her close and as she latches on, fall asleep again.

Now it's 8 o'clock. I've gone from spinning and incoherent to painfully amused and slightly nauseated.

The night started with a bang, literally. "Saki, Saki, Saki, BOMB!" We slammed the table with our fists and tossed back the deceptively mild drinks.

The drinking and the laughter increased steadily through the night. Under these cicumstances, normally, I'd wake up with post-party-mortification, certain I had embarrassed myself beyond redemption.

But not today. Today, I'm hung-over and I'm tired. But strangely enough, I'm also relaxed and ever so slightly rejuvenated. Because it wasn't a night of pressure to impress or a contest of coolness. We went out with our friends (Hi!!) who have two kids about the same age as ours. And we drank with them and laughed with them and threw off the load of our normal lives for a few hours.

Charlotte and I regularly checked our phones for missed calls from the babysitter, groaned about losing the post-baby weight and laughed at our husbands. Tryg and Kurt snuck off, without actually sneaking, to smoke and roll their eyes at the eccentricities of women.

I don't even remember what we all really talked about, specifically. Fart jokes, karaoke, marital quirks, White Snake, the unholy joys of a toddler out of their bed in the middle of the night. What stands out the most is just that for a few hours last night I didn't feel like a worn down mommy with tragic hair, a jelly roll around my waist, a toddler crying at my ankles and a baby on my hip. I felt funny and feminine, a piece of a greater whole, included and wanted and happy.

We were home by midnight, happy and horny and re-connected as a couple. Waking up at 6 with a throbbing head, the last death throes of my mascara congealing under my eyes and a mouth that tasted like... well, like last night's beer, was totally worth it. Because aside from the ravages of liquor and a late night, I feel great and there's a smile on my face, even as I'm wincing in the horrifically bright morning light.

Thanks, y'all. I'm sure my baby thanks you, too. She's been strangely sleepy all morning... a little bit of leftover Saki Bomb in her breakfast, I'm thinkin'.

June 25, 2007

Self-Help

If you dig through my desk and shelves, (which I actually hope you never do), you'd find several small notepads, spiral notebooks, a few daily/weekly/monthly planners and a couple "get organized" self-help books. All of them will have some writing on them. Lists, appointments, meal plans, phone numbers. And the planners, oh the planners. The planners will be used, conscientiously, for about 2 weeks, and then there will be several blank weeks, and then one full week, and so on.

It's because I'm an optimist. I really believed when I bought those papers and lists and books that they would turn me into something I'm not. They would complete me, use the raw material of my scattered mind and make me... organized.

When I first start a new fix-me program, I'm all a-twitter. Gung-ho and over-bearing, I usually tell everyone who'll stand still for two seconds about how this new book/planner/lifestyle has CHANGED me and how it's PERFECT and also totally AMAZING. I stand taller, walk faster, feel strong and motivated and purposeful... for about 2 weeks. Sometimes three.

And then I fall off the wagon, the wagon has left, there is no wagon anywhere. Just me, in the dirt, surrounded by the dust-cloud of everything I stirred up and didn't finish.

After all these years of giving in to impulse fix-your-messy-self purchases, you'd think I'd learn. You'd think I'd catch on that this just isn't going to do it for me. I'm just an inherently non-linear, chaotic person. But I don't, I never learn. Today I came across a website for a special daily planner just for moms, and I started to drool. Just a little, but still.

My mind started to whirl with all the possibilities. With THIS planner, I'd finally get it together! My kitchen would be perpetually clean, the pantry well-stocked. I'd have our meals planned out every week, I'd have all of our social events neatly scheduled so that nothing took us by surprise. My daughters would always have clean laundry, the beds would be made. I'd lose ten pounds because I'd FINALLY get into a workout routine that I could stick with into perpetuity. Life would be neat and tidy and altogether perfect. Organized.

I clicked on the "Buy Now" button... and then stopped. Opened the desk drawer, looked at the mortal remain of some of my other failed attempts to achieve Type-A-Control-and-Contain status.

And then I closed my laptop and walked away.

Because the thing is, I kind of like my wacky come-what-may-who-knows-what-we'll-eat-tonight lifestyle. It's stressful, it bogs me down sometimes, but it's also kind of fun. It's what makes me, me. My entire identity is all tied up, literally sometimes, in my procrastination, piles of whatnot that I can't live without and panicked 5:35 P.M. freezer scrounge to find something edible for dinner.

I'm just starting to learn that there's no real point in trying to be anything that I'm not, that instead I just need to embrace and improve on the things that I already am. I'm not someone who's ever going to be neat and tidy, but I can learn to be less messy overall. I'm never going to have the willpower to sweat and strain and diet and starve myself down to a super-model size 2, but hey, curves are hot, too.

I try to eat right and keep moving, I try to stay on top of the daily minutiae, to keep in touch and return calls and remember birthdays. I try not to forgot doctor's appointments, to make sure there's at least the makings for grilled cheese sandwiches in the house, if nothing else. I try to get the laundry done. Hell, I even try to workout 3 or 4 times a week. Sometimes I get there. Sometimes I don't. Self-help can only take you so far... then you just have forget the help part and just stick with the "self" that you've got.

And yet... I just remembered this one organizer I have, I only used it for a few weeks. It's practically new and it has a pull-out list for meal-planning and grocery shopping. Maybe I should dust it off, I bet this time I could really stick to it.

The eternal optimist... or the eternal fool?

June 24, 2007

Detachment Parenting

Check this out. I'll wait a sec while you read the link.

Okay. How do you feel? If you threw up a little bit in your mouth, then we had pretty much the same response.

What is going ON? I'm all for technological advancement, believe me. I am at this very moment basking in a wave of cool air coming from my brand new air conditioning unit. Life has been vastly improved in many ways by modern conveniences.

But human beings are good at nothing if not taking a good thing too far. Cell phones were a great invention, but now you see people walking down the street, in groups, each one talking to someone who's not there rather than the people they are with. I love my mp3 player, but come on, do you really need to be listening to it in a restaurant instead of interacting with the people at your table?

It's this whole idea of distance that bothers me. E-mail is a perfect example. I love my e-mail. I can quickly and cheaply stay in touch with friends far away. I'm also much more coherent in writing rather than in person. If I've ever left a voicemail on your phone, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

But e-mail lends itself to a sense of false bravery and many people end up writing things that they'd never say to someone in person, good or bad. You can build up a sense of intimacy with someone you've never met, or you can say horrible things to an old friend that should have been kept to yourself.

And then, what happens when you have to see each other face to face? Ack! Eeek! Run, run, hide! Some people end up choosing, consciously or not, to simply hide behind the technology and never have to deal with yucky, messy reality in person. The detached friendships of the computer become more real than the people right in front of you.

It's this exact detachment that's seeping into all the high-tech parenting "tools" that are now available. Most of it, (chairs, swings, toys, car seats), is harmless and incredibly helpful in raising a child. It's what you do with it that makes the difference. A tool that was developed to help preemies in the NICU, babies who couldn't be held and touched, is a just not meant for the general public.

Seriously, y'all. We've got to start drawing the line. Detachable fake arms to comfort your baby and assist "in his need of feeling protected"? Ummm... I don't think I'm going out on a limb here to say that if your baby needs to feel protected, maybe, just maybe, you should, oh, I don't know, PROTECT HIM. Be there, touch, reassure, hold, rock, cradle, soothe. That's what parents are for. Can't be bothered?

Don't have kids.

June 20, 2007

Uranus

When I was about 12 I survived (the first) Absolute Worst Day of My Life. It was humiliating and excruciating. For weeks I just wished that the earth would open up and swallow me whole, showing a dusty mercy for my pathetic existence.

It all started with a book report. It was the end of the Spring semester, just before summer break, and we were wrapping up our Reading class with book reports on everyone's all-time favorite book.

I'm a reader, from a family of readers, so asking me to pick my favorite book was sort of like asking Imelda Marcos which shoes she liked best. Where would she begin? First there's the seasonal shoes, and within each season you've got different styles to choose from: formal, casual, open-toe, sling-back... qualifying a "favorite" is a very subjective thing.

It's the same with books. I liked all kinds of different genres: I read children's books, classics, sci fi, fantasy, mysteries. And then there was the ever-present pressure to appear "cool", and also, "with it". No way was I going to admit, in front of 30 other 12 year-olds, how much I loved and idolized the Chronicles of Narnia. I mean, come on! Talking animals? I'd be immediately dismissed as a baby and probably followed around with people making "googoo" sounds at me.

Although, when I think back to what actually happened, that doesn't seem so bad in comparison. But moving on...

I chose, after lengthy review, Jane Eyre. At the time, I was seriously into Bronte and all her dismal yet spare darkness. I figured that choosing a classic novel proved how mature I was and then having it also be a love-story, of sorts, showed how romantic and feminine I was.

Plus, I figured it made me look smart and stuff.

So, there I was, at the front of the class, presenting my report. I stood in front of 30 or so other students, three of whom I had serious crushes on. (Of course. It was, after all, 7th grade). It was summer and hot, so our teacher had lowered the blinds and turned off the lights to keep things cooler. The room was dimly lit through the row of windows in the back.

I wore a new pair of acid washed shorts, rolled up at the hem to mid-thigh. The waistband came up to just below my rib cage, that was the style, and I had on one of those change-color-with-heat t-shirts that were all the rage, tucked in and fluffed out at the waist. My hair was in a pony tail and my bangs were poofed to the max.

I was standing behind a wooden podium, giving my summary of the book and saying how much I liked it and why I thought it was so great and all, and then, out of no where, with no warning at all...

I farted. Loudly. In front of the whole class, three of whom I had serious crushes on.

OhnoohnoohnohnoOHNO.

There was a moment of silence. Then, a giggle and a snicker. Then all of sudden everyone was laughing. Loudly. At me.

The rest of that day is a blur, mostly because I just wanted to die, die, DIE of embarrassment. I know that I stumbled out a little, " 'scuse me..." and hurried to finish the report, sat down and stared at my notebook for the rest of the class.

To understand my shame in that moment, you have to know where I come from. It wasn't just that I was 12 and I farted in front of the class and everyone laughed. That would have been bad enough.

But in my family, the way I was raised? There was no farting. There were no bathroom jokes, no one had gas and you never, ever giggled when you heard someone say the planet Uranus.

That Just Wasn't Done. My parents were liberal in the extreme, with lots of wild and interesting friends with open and interesting love lives and they talked about sex all the time and it was all a big retro-hippy life.

Without gas.

Or that's how they wished it to be. Because, as many of you may know, gas is human, part of the digestive system, totally normal and EVERYONE HAS IT. But in my house, it just went totally unacknowledged. No one was ever constipated or had diarrhea, it was always just "an upset stomach". My step-dad was the major culprit, he'd let out loud and totally stinky farts during dinner, even going so far sometimes as to lift up a little bit in his seat, and...

No one said a thing. Not one word. He never said, "excuse me", no one looked up, there was no pause in the conversation. It just moved along as if the wind had never broken, or in his case, died a putrifying death.

So to be standing up there, in front of friends, enemies and crushes, and just let one fly... it was devastating. More so because no one pretended it hadn't happened, too. I was ill-prepared for public displays of noxious fumes.

They tormented me for a week or two, until someone else's misfortune eclipsed mine. Poor Dawn Cauley wore white shorts to school on the same day her period started. It's not just a cliche, kids really can be cruel.

As I've gotten older, I've had to develop a thicker skin about such things, but I still tried for a long time to avoid any kind of bathroom humor and to hold everything, EVERYTHING, in until I could... deal... with it privately.

That all changed when I met my husband, of course. He delights in poop jokes and tends to save his gas just for my personal amusement. Walking down the street, he likes to let one loose and say, "Hey, did someone step on a duck?" or look at ME and say, "Ooooh, nice one, sweetie." As if.

And there's also the matter of my two little girls. Sometimes I cannot believe the smells that are created from those adorable tummies. Once you have kids, poop becomes dinner table conversation. You're excited that they pooped, or they haven't pooped enough, or it was green or yellow or loose or rocky. All these details become fascinating.

I remember the first time I tried to tell my mom about how stinky my oldest had been lately. She shut me down but (hmmm... butt?) quick. My parents still hold strong to their complete denial of all things fart-related.

But I've loosened up. Literally and figuratively. I'm not going to raise my kids to think there's anything wrong or weird about things that their bodies just do naturally, though I do hope they'll have some discretion and manners.

Mostly, though? I'm just looking forward to the day when my step-dad lets out something ripe and juicy at the dinner table and my little daughter says, "Grandpa, you have to say excuse me! You tooted!"

June 18, 2007

It's a Sweet Thing

Sunday morning dawned much the same as all Sunday mornings in our house. We got up with the kids, made coffee and breakfast and then settled in to watch CBS News Sunday Morning. It covers with integrity, the arts, literature, personalities and interesting story topics without totally bringing down the house in an overload of death and disaster.

As I stood in the kitchen fixing my coffee, this story came on: Is America Too Sweet on Sugar? Hmmm... I glanced down at the dark and steaming cup of coffee, into which I had just added 3 teaspoons of that exact ubiquitous white substance. And that was just my first cup.

Perhaps here was a story I should give some attention.

The piece included all sorts of vaguely horrifying facts, like that the average American consumes 142 pounds of sugar a year. That's like eating a solid-sugar PERSON every year!

This is when I began to realize I had a problem, because as soon as I started thinking about sugar-people, my brain went, "mmmmmm... yummy sugar people! Tasty! Would I start at the top and work my way down or vise versa? I could go for a sugar-finger right now!"

The there was the footage. Throughout the story, they kept scrolling shots of donuts, candy, chocolate, lattes, pastries, bagels. Apparently, every single thing that I love and adore to consume in vast quantities- sugar disaster.

Unfortunately, the message was just lost of me. Instead of seeing this footage and, as a result, the error of my ways, I just got hungry.

"Oooohhh, those donuts look good. Maybe I can run out and get some donuts. Or bagels! I love bagels! On my way back from getting the bagels, I could stop at Starbucks, too, and get a Mocha, yeah!"

Hello, my name is Megan. And I am a sugar-addict. I can't say no.

I have sugar fantasies, moments where I sit, feeling vaguely unsatisfied and start to dream up all kinds of possibly tasty concoctions that might fulfill me.

Maybe it's an ice cream cone or a latte, maybe it's cake or cookies or just a good old-fashioned Snickers bar. When I'm feeling hungry or thirsty or bored or anxious or nervous or... (you get the idea), the absolute first thing my brain reaches for is sugar.

The trick, the one I am still struggling to master, is keeping my hands from reaching for the same thing.

June 14, 2007

Crazy

Apparently, I'm crazy. I thought I was just a little stressed out, a little on edge, maybe dealing with some return of my depression, but nope. Nothing so simple.

I'm full-on bonkers. Good to know.

I went to the doctor today for a physical and to talk about some returning symptoms I've been dealing with the past few weeks. Nothing as bad as where I was after Silvia was born; just a nagging disquiet, anxiety, fatique, that kind of thing.

The woman I saw, the office P.A., was a nightmare in deep purple.

Seriously, I walked into the building feeling like a healthy thirty-year-old mother with some minor issues; I walked out feeling like a basket case who should be monitored at ALL TIMES.

Or at least that's how I felt for about an hour. Then I got mad. REALLY mad.

Among other things, like a terrible bedside manner and a nervous giggle, this woman was completely unprofessional. She made me take some depression quizzes and then added up my points, without even talking to me in depth at all, and said, "Well, you're clearly severely depressed, (giggle, giggle), I guess having that baby made you a little crazy, (giggle, giggle)".

After the quizzes and the diagnosis of my insanity, she asked me, "So, are you having any thoughts of suicide or homicide?"

"No, no, no. Not at all. I'm just a little anxious and tired, nothing severe like that. Just some stress."

She regarded me with complete scepticism. "Mmmhmmm.... are you sure? Really? (giggle, giggle). Even with the kids, you aren't feeling anything like that with them?"

I paused for a heart-beat, completely thrown that she could possibly be suggesting, after talking to me for less than 7 minutes, that I had homicidal feelings towards my kids. Then I decided, no, she's just playing it safe, covering her bases, being thorough. "No, really, absolutely not."

"Are you sure? Maybe like that woman in Texas who drowned her five kids(giggle), maybe some thoughts like that?"

OHMYGOD. Seriously!?

"NO. ABSOLUTELY NOT. I DO NOT FANTASIZE ABOUT HARMING MY CHILDREN IN ANY WAY. NEW TOPIC."

It just went downhill from there. As I left the office after having my blood drawn, she pulled me into a back office, dug out her purse from under a table and handed me a private business card labeled "Holistic Medical Professional".

"You should call me and do some hypnotherapy instead of taking the anti-depressants. There are no side-effects at all and it's totally wonderful."

I wandered to my car, in tears, and called Kurt. "Hi. I'm severely depressed and I'm going to drown the girls and I have to take a new medication and get hyponotized and she says I'm crazy and I feel AWFUL."

Being a practical and sensible man, my husband responded, "Huh? What?"

After talking it over with him and then with my girlfriends, as the day passed I got more and more angry. MAD. Furious. How dare she? How dare this stranger, this little fat crone in a violet stretch suit judge me, call me crazy, compare me to a baby-killing madwoman, and then try to poach me for her side business? HOW DARE SHE?

Strangely, though, as my temper soared, so did my confidence. I know, without a doubt, that I am NOT crazy. I am not hopeless or pathetic or weak-minded.

Yes, I've been feeling down and confused lately. Yes, I'm more anxious than I used to be, more sensitive, my skin has lost some of its thickness. But that doesn't make me crazy. That doesn't even make me severely depressed. I know the difference, I've been there, I've seen the darkness and I know this is NOT it.

And some stupid little cow of a pseudo-doctor is not going to make me believe otherwise.

Gee, I wonder how happy her boss is going to be to find out she's soliciting patients on the implied endorsement of his good name?

June 13, 2007

Over-compensation

I'm a shy girl, seriously. When faced with social situations, large and small, my first instinct is to run, followed closely by urges to hide and then do some first-class cowering.

Now, I know that those of you who know me are thinking, "Huh? Shy? Megan? But she's so... LOUD."

And I am. Sometimes I even surpass loud and make it all the way into just thoroughly obstreperous. It's called over-compensation. Here's how the basic thought-process goes.

"Oh, no, here we go again. People. People, everywhere. And they want to talk. Oh, look, it's the funny guy, he's so funny! He's always on the ball. Crap, everything I say is going to make me sound like a fourth grader. Oh, no, it's the cool girl, the girl who's so smooth and together and always, always, ALWAYS on top of EVERYTHING. I'm going to come across like someone out of Little House on the Prarie."

And then...

"Come on, you can do this! Just smile! See, you smiled, they smiled, everyone's smiling. Go ahead, say something, anything, it'll be fine. These are nice people, they invited you here, for goodness sake, I mean how bad could it be? Just say the first thing that comes into your head. Go with the flow..."

Sigh. And THEN...

"OH MY GOD. WHAT DID YOU JUST SAY?! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? THESE ARE NICE, NORMAL PEOPLE AND YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT (insert some totally inappropriate topic for the occasion, i.e. brazilian shaving technique, reproductive and/or digestive system irregularities, my parent's open marriage, girl-on-girl love, how much I hate the president, etc)!! Good God, woman! Save yourself, play it off, somehow!"

And that's when the over-compensation begins. Instead of just wincing slightly at my inevitable social gaffe, I start to roll with it, as if by elaborating on the embarrassing topic I can somehow make everyone see how totally NORMAL it actually is. I get louder, too, and usually can be depended upon to really dive in with some big arm movements. Depending on how nervous I was to begin with and how socially staid the situation is, I can sometimes work myself up to a full Jerry Lewis-worthy scene of disaster in less than 30 minutes.

So I keep going. And going and going. I'm the Energizer Bunny of social awkwardness.

Unfortunately for those around me, I don't just leave it with the awkward conversational faux pas. I'm known in many circles for my inappropriate hugging and kissing and wild laughter as well. Throw in some alcoholic treats and all bets are off.

I expect my children to ban me from attending school functions by the time they hit 1st grade.

This is what happens when a natural introvert attempts to mix with the trendy extroverts of society. Complete and total over-compensation.

May 30, 2007

Blessings

Every year at the Academy graduation, the Thunderbirds perform a flyover display and everyone in the Springs turns out to line the highway and watch the show. Kurt's office sits right up near the Academy, providing a not-quite front row seat, and every year they have a flyover picnic for employees and families.

The last time we went Anna was little, maybe 7 months old. She was the darling of the picnic; shy, cute, cuddly and sweet. As I recall, she fell asleep about halfway through the show, cradled in my arms. This year, Silvia slept, cradled against me in her pouch carrier while Anna ran free. She slept because she spent the entire drive over screaming bloody murder. After I fed her in the car when we got there, she passed out from exhaustion.

Anna refused to eat anything of the catered BBQ that was available, instead wanting something else that they didn't have. Then she refused to eat the orange creamsicle pop offered to her, instead wanting something else that they didn't have. Then she wouldn't drink her apple juice, instead wanting... you get the idea.

What really set her off, though, was that everyone wanted to see the baby. HER baby. People kept coming over to say hello and take a peek at the sleeping infant... and she'd scream, and basically boo and hiss until they'd go away. Charming.

She sat on her daddy's shoulder's to watch the jets in the air, and for that she was happy and excited. That was pretty much the only time she was distracted from being as thoroughly TWO as possible.

The wife of Kurt's co-worker was there, with her four children all under the age of 6. We spoke briefly about the kids and babies, and I made a comment about how I was overwhelmed with just two kids and how amazed I was at her ability to parent four. And she said, "Well, you know, I used to wonder how I'd have enough love for all of them, but I do. Sometimes it's hard, I guess, but they're just blessings, you know?"

Ummm... blessings? Stunned, I nodded my head as if I, too, was constantly thankful and blessed by the presence of my children. Then my screaming toddler grabbed my hand with her chocolate-ice-cream-soaked fingers to drag me off so I'd stop letting people talk to HER baby sister.

I'm fairly certain that I can be a real bitch sometimes, and here's the proof. My immediate response, as I got pulled to look at some ants, was to think, "She's so full of it. I bet she cries herself to sleep every night." Now, THAT, my friends, is the mark of a truly ungrateful and mean-spirited person. I'm so completely overwhelmed by my days sometimes that I can't even fathom that someone else with TWICE the kids I have could possibly be less stressed out than me.

I love my kids. I do, I really, really do. And, in the grand scheme of things, they are blessings. I'd be half a person without them, I know, but I just don't think I have that level of inner peace to be able to simply shrug off the inherent frustrations they provide. That kind of calm acceptance and duty just baffles me. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but so be it. I'm just not that graceful.

The woman I talked to was definitely a "glass-half-full-life's-a-joyous-challenge-aren't-kids-cute" kind of woman. Me? I'm more of a "can't-find-a-damn-clean-sippy-cup-and-WHAT-is-that-in-your-mouth-oh-my-god-she-just-ate-trash-and-I-need-a-martini" kind of girl.

That's just how I roll.

May 24, 2007

Bridges

I've been taking anti-depressants now for almost three months and it's definitely been an emotional process for me. Just deciding that I needed them was difficult, admitting that things were not right, that the thoughts in my head were not normal or correct or maybe even sane. That was a big leap for me, one of those, "It's okay for everyone else, but I'm better than this" moments. The realization I had to accept, (the realization that smacked me upside the head with the full force of a charging elephant), was that I'm not better than anything or anyone. I am, in fact, just like everyone else; struggling.

Struggling to be a better person in the face of all the things I'd rather avoid is the battle that I wage every day against myself. But I have learned that avoidance can't get me very far. Oh yes, I have learned that. In some small way I feel like taking that little white pill every evening is an avoidance, like I'm trying to dodge a part of myself that I should have tried instead to confront and overcome.

But really, that pill was just a bridge to help me arrive at a place where I can start to deal with the real reasons behind all the anxiety and stress. I've come to a place where I have to stop hiding from mistakes, avoiding responsibilities. The pill can't make me happy, though at first it feels that way, like a bright warm light after a cold and dark night.

Eventually, though, just having the light on doesn't seem like such a big deal. I mean, heck, it's on all the time, so what? And having all that light has its downside, too, as it starts to illuminate the things you'd rather not see.

For me, now that I'm feeling better, now that each day is relatively stable and I'm as balanced as this woman can be (a woman who stays home all day with small children, that is), I've had to start dealing with the problems that the darkness concealed.

Some of it's small, stupid to everyone but me, perhaps, but there you go. Like trying to stay a step ahead of the laundry and housework instead of a mile behind it. Like weaning my 2 year old off of her mind-numbing addiction to television, the addiction that, let's face it, I totally enabled out of desperation. These things make me anxious and nervous and tense when they get out of control, they haunt me and start to make me think thoughts of failure and weakness. These relatively small and silly concerns can become overwhelming and serious if I let them get out of control.

Other stuff is more personal, harder to face, but equally important to deal with, correct and move on. I wrote a letter this week, a letter to an old friend that I treated badly. At first I had tried to justify to myself my behavior, convince myself of my own righteous indignation. But, truly, under all that bravado and pride, I just felt awful and embarrassed and guilty. Those feelings were seeping into everything else in my life, undermining my other relationships, invading my dreams.

So I wrote her a letter, and even better, I sent it. Admitting mistakes is an incredibly difficult thing for me to do, but I have to say that it's also incredibly freeing. Just by writing down, clearly and without any qualifiers, that I screwed up and I'm sorry, I was able to let go of a mountain of bad feeling that has been threatening to bury me.

I've spent the past six months or more afraid every time I left the house that I'd run into her. What would I say, what could I say, especially after all the stupid things I'd already said? I dreaded the very idea of such an encounter. And now... well, now I don't, it's a simple as that. I have made it as right as I can, she has accepted my apology and even offered me one of her own, and now there is nothing to dread. Even burned bridges leave behind enough of a framework for forgiveness, it seems.

Someday, maybe someone will come up with a little pill that copes with reality for you, that automatically bolsters your strengths and eliminates your weaknesses, all with a few strategic tweaks of some (as yet unidentified) chemicals in your brain. But I don't think I'd take it. For me, the strengths wouldn't mean as much without knowing the failures I had to stumble through and overcome before I started to get it right.

May 15, 2007

The road not taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long as I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth,
Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim;
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh,
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

- Robert Frost, The Road Not Taken

May 08, 2007

A place of my own

Today I bought a journal. A bound leather book with blank pages, I picked it up in spontaneous desperation, when my head was bursting with everything that I couldn't do or say or scream.

I used to write in a journal all the time, I had several dating back into high school and even earlier. One fairly humorous one had the blow-by-blow (if you will) description of my first kiss. (I was eleven, horrific thought, now that I have daughters of my own.) One day, several years ago, I read through them all, noting the patterns and self-loathing and negativity and it occurred to me that I only wrote when I was unhappy; when school was overwhelming me or I had lost a boyfriend or gained 10 pounds.

At that realization, I chose to make a fresh start. I got rid of all the journals, every last one. I decided to write only on my computer, a safer and more secret place, and to write in all moods rather than just the black ones.

The funny thing is, though, that typing on a screen isn't nearly as cathartic as an angry scrawl of ink across a blank page. And I find that instead of simply writing what I need to get out of my head, I often feel that I've got to produce some level of masterpiece before I can post it on this blog. That often leaves me too daunted to be able to write anything at all, and I end up staying silent.

Then came tonight. Tonight my mind was swirling, a veritable tempest of stress, rage, frustration and anxiety. I don't know what set me off today, but my nerves have been raw since the moment I woke. Kurt stayed late at work and I was overly furious and shortly after he came home, I simply... fled. I ran away from home.

And the first thing I did was go and buy a journal. The feel of it in my hands calmed me a little before I even began to write. I went to a coffee shop and sat, softly touching the smooth pages for a moment and then I just began to pour out the incoherent babble from behind my eyes.

"I feel so trapped, stuck, overwhelmed, who am I really? I have titles, Mother-Wife-Sister-Daughter-Friend but who am I to ME? If all those other things were stripped of me what would be left? Or am I defined by others only only the reflection of what they see need take?"

"Watching the clock, stolen time. He's at home, railing in his mind at me for leaving and taking this moment away and I DO care, I feel badly to need to run, why can't I just embrace it all why am I so frazzled?"

"Lists lists in my head. Always this feeling of having missed something, having screwed up. Anxious."

"I miss her. I fear I screwed up Big Time and now all is lost. Burned bridges scorching my skin from every direction."

"How do I become something to be proud of? I feel like I've taken a million first steps and not moved an inch."

More and more like that, random and hot and painful, and then...

"I just want to find what's really me, if there's anything there at all besides what I am to them."

Ah. That's the real trouble, isn't it? An identity of my own. I've gone and grown up, gotten married and had children without ever really finding out what I'm good at, what makes me satisfied and proud. I think all the tension I'm feeling lately is related to that. I spend my days with my children, with my friends, trying to stay on top of a household and a life and in all that daily minutae, I have lost something of myself.

I've been toying with the idea of freelance writing for years now, even more so lately. Whether or not it's a success, I think it's something that I have to try, for my own sanity. Because I need something personal to be excited about, to focus on and find pride in, something outside of my motherhood and marriage, something that is my own measure of merit.

I needed space tonight, where I could rant and rave and, ultimately, find some purpose and clarity. When I got rid of my journals all those years ago, I didn't realize that I was actually getting rid of the one place that was solely my own.

April 15, 2007

Marriage, a house and two kids

Why is it that when you are young and dream of "marriage, a house and two kids", it seems so easy and idyllic and shiny? I just find myself struggling with this lately, trying to find the balance.

1) I'm the mom to two little girls, both of whom need my undivided attention almost all the time, sometimes even when they are sleeping and I may wish I was sleeping.
2) I'm the homemaker to a rather large house with 4 people's laundry, dishes and bathrooms to clean, plus a huge amount of toys to keep track of, and daily meals to prepare, serve and clean up after.
3) I'm the wife to a wonderful husband and father, which entails way more work and maintenance than I EVER would have thought possible as a little girl playing with dolls.

My hubbie tends to be passive aggressive. Instead of just telling me he's beat and wishes I would do the dishes more/the laundry more/pick up the toys/etc, he just gets quieter and quieter and does EVERYTHING before I have a chance to blink, much less step in of my own free will. And me, I'm the denial type; I'll just pretend that it's fine that my kids laundry has built an empire in the laundry room and is planning the downfall of the rest of the house, and I'll take the first peaceful moment to read my book for a bit or catch up on my Tivo.

Tonight we had a chat. A State of the Union. I finally got it out of him that he wishes I'd figure out how to do more around the house, and I finally told him that the whole stomping around in "silent" martyrdom was driving me insane. You could hear the deep breaths around the block as the tension finally started to ease out of the room. For the first time in our marriage, we've had to actually sit, talk and divvy up responsibilities. We had to sit there and decide on what few things were the most important to each of us and try and figure out a way to start making those things happen. For him, having a clean kitchen every morning and getting back to the gym on a regular schedule were high on the list. For me, having him give up his "silent protests" (AKA, pout-fest 2007) and getting him to come to bed before 1 A.M. were right up there, too.

Sitting here now, with the important things, big and small, aknowledged and made known, makes me realize once again how much of my happiness rests, balances, on communication. If we hadn't talked about the housework tonight, the whole week would have continued in a downward spiral, probably culminating in a weepy fight where I felt taken for granted and he felt overburdened and we both felt misunderstood. Instead, he joked about his passive aggressive behavior ("Umm... by the way, when you go upstairs... sorry about dumping your laundry in a pile on the floor.") and we both laughed, decided on some goals to put more focus on, and felt better and more respected all around.

The thing is, it doesn't get easier. It just gets more complicated; the details change, but there's always going to be this disconnect. I wish there was a road map to show me how to balance two kids and house and a marriage, but it's just a day to day thing, isn't it? It seems ridiculous and absurd that, in the constant struggle to stay connected, something like who does the dishes after dinner could get in the way, but that's the honest reality. I'm not sure when my definition of romance changed from flowers and candlelight to , "Oh, look! He emptied the diaper pail! That's so sweet!".

I want to find the balance. I want to be the best mother that I can to my kids, get the laundry done, keep the groceries stocked, have dinner on the table at night and still find a way to take a shower and be presentable and smile at my husband and maybe, just maybe, remember what we had in common before we had children. Not that we don't have things in common now, but... sometimes the easiest thing to see about the other person is what's missing, what's left undone, instead of what's right in front of you, invisible in it's obviousness.

Instead of resenting the burden of it, I have to remember to appreciate the achievement of a childhood fantasy: A wonderful marriage, a beautiful home and two amazing kids.

April 08, 2007

Thirty and other things

My 30th birthday was this week. I know it's supposed to be a monumental occassion, a time to reflect on where you've been and where you're going, but generally... I didn't do any of that. I simply had a wonderful time with friends and family, got a brief break from my kids and indulged in some serious relaxation.

It's been a rough couple months and I am happy to be able to look around my own mind and say, "It's me! I live in here and it's me and I can recognize myself!". I feel as though the medication I am taking hasn't changed me but rather, it's added layers to me, like wraps of gauze, to hold me together and keep me whole.

All of that is not to say that I don't still get upset, that situations don't still get to me. That would be great, but not particularly human. I just feel capable of living and I feel that my potential for happiness is limitless, given the right circumstances.

These mysterious "circumstances", however are not exactly in grand supply lately when it comes to my oldest child. She has the worst tantrums I've ever seen and they keep getting worst. She gets set off by NOTHING and once a bad day starts, there's no turning back; it lasts all day.

Offer her breakfast when she's not ready? Screaming.
Tell her it's time to do something else after reading 5 long books in a row? Screaming.
Tell her it's time to go? Screaming. Tell her we're not going anywhere, we're staying home? Screaming.

It's everything and it's nothing. Yesterday she had a massive tantrum, screaming, thrashing, drooling, complete meltdown of apocalyptic proportion for absolutely no reason. One minute she was fine, the next... she was insane.

I had tried time out, I've tried sitting it out, I've tried holding her and singing, I've tried putting her in a safe place until she's all cried out. Nothing seems to work, and certainly not in the longterm. I can put her in her crib, tell her sympathetically that I understand that she's very frustrated and sad and that she can call me when she feels better. She'll immediately calm down, play in her crib, sing to herself.

But within minutes of getting her back up, trying to return her to the framework of our day-to-day lives... she freaks out. What am I supposed to do, leave her in her crib all day?

Of course, that's on the bad days. It's not every day. She's not totally heinous all the time, in fact she's often absolutely charming. But the bad days are really, really awful. And there's no break, it just carries on straight through to bedtime.

I know it's frustration for her, I know that she's more susceptible to frustration that other kids, (it's a byproduct of her unique developmental set). I know that, in general, kids cry and express rage because they can't control it and need to have an outlet and that crying is healthy. But she's driving me nuts. She's driving my husband nuts.

So. Turning 30 and re-hashing all the journeys of my life so far seems sort of back burner to simply making it to 31 without all my hair falling out. Here's hopin'.

March 28, 2007

Family Photos



I really love some of these pics, taken by our friends at Trystan Photography. Charlotte did such a great job, again.