Tuesday, August 14, 2018

40

It really doesn't seem that long ago that I turned 30. In fact, I wrote about it. There was a whole lot of tumult back then; I had a fat mortgage I couldn't cover as a freelancer, Jon worked as a temp for the State of Illinois doing a job he was ridiculously overqualified for, my savings was circling the drain because we couldn't sell the dee-luxe apartment in the sky...but we were happy.

Now we have two magnificent children who on several occasions have made me turn to my husband and say, "THIS is how people get ponies." We live in a house with an overgrown yard (sorry passive/aggressive neighbors!), and we have decent jobs: I spend too much time either doing, talking or thinking about mine and Jon pretty much solves problems all day at his. We have a circle of family and friends who give generously of their time and love. We have health. We have it all.

But in the middle of the night, or when I'm standing at the gas pump waiting for the tank to fill, or when I'm trying to help sleep catch hold of a small child by pacing and singing? That's when this idea sneaks up and throws a hood over my head: I'm failing. At everything. All the time.

I wonder what people who couldn't wait to see what I would grow up to accomplish would say about my being a midlevel "analyst" working 60 hours and being paid for 40 at a job that does help people but not nearly as many nor as much as I would have hoped. The weight of their imagined disappointment drags on me. I don’t have time for making art, my cooking skills are languishing. I had been trying to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks for exactly 46 months and finally admitted defeat: I moved it from my nightstand back onto the shelf. My kids' birthday parties are not Pinterest-worthy. My three-year-old often does not go to bed until 11 p.m., no matter how early we start the bedtime routine. I'm an old mom who works a lot, so I'm not interested in burning the precious little time I have with them in battle. The clutter in my house is breeding and we only replaced paper shades with real curtains just before our five-year houseiversary. We still do not have a wedding album, let alone baby books. I often cannot remember why i walked into a room. Or what I had for lunch two hours later. But! I know every word of the Sofia the First soundtrack. Being able to belt out “Bigger is Better” on command has got to be worth some extra credit.

Is this 40? Does this happen to everyone? Ri said, on her 40th birthday, that she "has never felt more healthy or vibrant in her entire life!" But I remember her climbing out her parents' window and smoking clandestine cigarettes on their roof while talking to me on her extra-long-corded phone in high school. Surely, she's not MORE vibrant now—while sleep-deprived from adulting and parenting small children—than at those moments? Is everyone just faking it till they make it? Or am I failing at that, too?

I spent the day trapped in meetings, save for a lovely hour on a rooftop bar with my closest coworker, who smuggled in a Nothing Bundt Cake for me, complete w a candle and the only book of matches in her whole house. We went back for the rest of the meetings, and I cut out early to get a pedicure with my mother and met up w the rest of the family for a nice dinner. Everyone took turns holding the squirrelly baby so I could eat my food when it was WARM. I call that an exceptional day.

This is forty.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

the dungeon is kind of an office building now

It’s five in the morning and I am pumping. I thought I was awake because I had a bad dream someone was trying to hurt my child but after tossing and turning for 20 minutes, then reading a bunch of parenting stories about how to protect my kids from predators, and an hour of catching up with what a blogger I used to follow has been doing the last eight years, I realize this strange feeling is the need to empty the tanks. So I’m pumping.

This is stupid because my kid is going to wake up really hungry in about 25 minutes and I won’t have much to give. So I should stop. 

I have so much to say and no time to say it. One of these days I’ll come back here and tell you about my son, who radiates joy every second of the day—even when he’s hungry—and he *may* even prefer me sometimes to his father, which is surprising and nice. And my daughter, who is very likely smarter than I am already: when I tried to convince her a goblin ate her cookie, she said “no, mom, I really think it was you.”

I am filled with anxiety so much of the time—it used to be the mechanism that kept me in line, but I think it’s veering off into the land of hindering more than helping. I’m probably just paranoid. 

Two years ago I started to suspect I had always had ADD and started talking to someone about it. Then I learned if my goal was to have another baby and not consider taking medicine, there’s really nothing to do except techniques and tools you use “until they don’t work anymore.” I did get that baby (it wasn’t easy), and I’m cycling through those techniques and tools. Still, I’m pretty wound up and easily distracted most of the time. 

Last month I went to Greece for 14 days with my best friends from college, leaving my 9-month-old and 3.5-year-old with their dad. I grappled with unbelievable mom guilt about it, but many people were encouraging me to go—including my husband and mother (who would be taking care of the children). Truly the one sentence someone told me that made me feel ok about going was “think of this as “Jon’s separated pelvis.” And while it was probably a rough 14 days for him, as FaceTime showed, trying to heal a separated pelvis (twice) takes a LOT longer than two weeks. Also? An infant doesn’t understand FaceTime. Recording/sending videos is better when you’re on another continent and your child can’t get to you. That brief but heartbreaking experience is probably the reason this government-separating-families-at-the-border thing has been keeping me up at night, crying.

It took me a full ten days to unclench and start to relax on vacation. I did carry the breast pump with me wherever I went and dumped more ounces of precious milk than I care to admit, but I’d be damned if my kid was going to stop nursing because mommy got a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hang out with her friends in a gorgeous place for 14 days of only having to worry about what she was going to eat for dinner. 

Part of the reason I sought the tools and techniques about the ADD was because I was so miserable at work and of course thought that was my fault. Allowing myself to be bullied probably was, though. After six years, I found an oppportunity to report to a different person and, damn, that makes a big difference.

I am typing this on my phone, and while I am wearing my glasses, I’m pretty sure I’m looking at 0.2 font size. The Blogger app has been unsupported for years and this may not even post. Doesn’t matter because I’m the only one who will read this, likely in a few years when I’m up at night worrying about where we will get drinking water when the United States coastlines have flooded and all those people show up in the Midwest to maim us for lake water. 

Oh the sun is up. Perhaps it’s time to go to bed. 

Im willing to bet you can find that exact line in posts from 2006, when I was working in the dungeon. In rather sad news, the castle where I worked is being turned into condos, so half the staff has been relocated to the dungeon. Which is good, because with all those witnesses, the odds a person will be murdered and dismembered have gone way down. 

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

mourning

Jon’s hometown is on fire.

It’s been burning for about two days and people the family knows have lost their homes. The winds have not slowed down, so it’s moving quickly and not sparing much in its path. Including the spot where we laid our Baby’s ashes.

I know it was ashes already, that the baby is hopefully hanging with my Nani in heaven and I’m relieved that very few people have died in this disaster, but seeing the gorgeous hill on which  we left her charred and bleak just broke my heart. It’s a sacred place for us.

This is just a reminder that the grieving never really ends. We just learn to live with it better every day.




This is what it usually looks like.


And now it is this.


Saturday, November 11, 2017

veteran's day


Thank you, servicemembers, for all that you have done and do today. Gratitude, also, to those you've left behind here to soldier on, missing you for the good of all of us.

Friday, November 10, 2017

not so fast, mommy


Today I had both the kids all day while Jon went to work and attended a work event in the evening. We got up, did teeth, potty, breakfast, play, a craft project and put lasagna in the oven. We ate lunch, cleaned up and started some laundry. I had big plans for "quiet time" after lunch, playing with the dollhouse and a dance party before dinner.

Just as I texted my mother, "Hey, maybe I *can* handle these people all day, every day," things got eerie. The baby was snoring softly, but Ro was nowhere to be heard.

"Um...mommy?"

Bam, it was over. Suddenly, I'm coaxing her to come to the bathroom to get washed up, scrubbing the accident spot on the carpet, the baby is howling, Alexa says lunch will burn if I don't get it out of the oven and the phone is ringing.

That was the only time--and it was just for a moment--when I missed the office.


Thursday, November 09, 2017

i had one wish for myself, it would be diligence

When I had Ro, Jon's cousin got me this one-line-a-day memory book.

I have generally been pretty good about writing in it, but after a seriously insane work situation last October (followed immediately by nonstop nausea and vomiting of pregnancy), I missed writing in it from November through January. Now I'm circling back around and trying to piece together from the bullet journal, calendar and photos what happened. This is not ideal.

Oh the things I could accomplish if I were more disciplined. Let's see how this NaBloPoMo goes when I start back at work on November 20...

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

but *i* will know they're not right

There were two places in which Jon and I splurged during our wedding planning: The photography and the invitations. Everything was DIY (I did an entire NaBloPoMo's month of posts on it in 2011).

I drew out the invitations by hand and had a printer create a mold, ink and crank out every invite and rsvp card. She did it by hand. Then I hand-addressed every single one with a calligraphy nib and a jar of ink. Few probably noticed and no one cared as much as I did, but those invites made me incredibly happy.

I succumbed and have used eVite for Ro's parties (this year the theme was Sofia the First), but I'm still hanging onto the tradition of handwritten thank you notes. Jon is trying out going printer-free at home (to him the entire world should still be digital), so this year I couldn't do my usual method of drawing out the design, scanning and printing onto blank notecards.

I went to Kinko's and had the attendant, a very nice woman who clearly knew how to use the equipment. I thought I'd be able to get stationery and tweak the spacing before printing out using the self service, but she convinced me that it would be better for her to space out four per page, then use a fancy machine to cut them all. Here is the example she showed me of how they would look:

The image is slightly farther to the left than I would have put it, but no big deal, right? 

This is how all of the rest came out. After I had already paid for them.

My mother--the queen of "it's fine, just get it done," said "Wow those are off center!" 

I had already been there for an hour. Attendant lady thought they came out fabulous. I went home and tried to put a silver line down the right and color in some of the jewels silver to match. Jon thinks I could cut them down, but then they would be too small for the envelope. He insists I should just send them as is; most people are just going to throw them away.

I get it. I don't want to re-do them and I don't have time to figure out how to "fix" them. I should just send them and move on with life. Which is what I'm going to do. But I'm not going to be happy about it.