Saturday, January 31, 2009

Discipline and motivation...

It's been a few days. I'm at work. It's fifteen minutes before five am. Things may start to pick up before too long, so I may not be able to write like I would like, but I am going to try to write some.

I have no motivation these days. I go through this so often I sometimes wonder if I am just not calling it what it is - maybe I am just a lazy s.o.b. I have so many projects that I need to do that just aren't getting done. All I seem to want to do is sleep. I am so undisciplined. How does one who is not disciplined develop this trait? It seems that this is something that cannot be self-taught. If it could, you wouldn't have an issue in the first place, right? So, what do I do?

I'm having trouble writing too. Usually, when I write, the words just fly from my fingers. Tonight (this morning?) though, writing is a painful process of thinking about what I want to write about. The words just don't want to come. So I am writing about the fact that I have nothing to write about. Part of me thinks I should just stop writing if I have nothing to write about, but another part of me is thinking about what I just said about discipline - I am trying to write regularly and be disciplined about it. That hasn't gone perfectly either, but at least I am trying. Maybe if I keep pushing I will accomplish something productive.

I've got to talk about something else kind of embarrassing here too. My weight. Now before you start telling me not to get all caught up in the dieting crazes out there, if you knew me, you'd laugh at that thought. I am sooooo not a follower of the latest trends, dieting or otherwise. But if I want to have a healthy life (I do) I have about 100 pounds to lose. This is not about fitting into a size four either. I have no idea what size losing 100 pounds would make me. I don't really care either. What I care about is the fact that my father is only in his mid sixties and he has already had quadruple bypass surgery, has had two strokes, has diabetes, high blood pressure and as a result of these things he cannot move around as much as he would like.

My problem? I just can't get myself to give up the crappy way I eat. I talk to my kids all the time about how important it is to eat nutritious food in healthy portions. We are not members of the "clean plate club," and we try to offer lots of different vegetables and fruits to eat throughout the day. We talk about water being important, we don't drink soda or sugary drinks and we don't offer junk food for snacks very often. I pack healthy lunches for them to bring to school in spite of their protests, and yes, they DO eat them.

My downfall? Drive-thru and delivery. Sometimes I just don't want to hear complaints so ordering pizza is easier. It comes hot, it IS nutritious (although fatty), and I don't have to do much. Sometimes it's just so much easier to get McDonald's for dinner. Sometimes Daniel is asleep in the car when I pick up Christopher and Allison from the bus...gosh he's heavy to's just easier to drive through Dunkin Donuts to get a snack in the afternoon. I know. Lazy. Terrible. I hate fighting with them in the grocery store too. "Mommy, can I have ONE piece of candy? Puhleeze?" This keeps me from bringing the troops with me to do the food shopping.

This is not casting me in the best light as a mother or wife. I would love to be the mother and wife who has this huge bounteous table offering the most nutritious and delicious fare possible. I have dreams of being a sometimes vegetarian. I want my children to grow up healthy, strong, and NOT FAT like their mother. But I don't know if I can pull it off. I would also love to be the wife who provides her man with a pleasant meal at the end of a hard day's work. Good food, good conversation, laughter, a listening ear and comraderie. But in all honesty, I am falling severely short with this these days. What does this say about me as a wife and mother?

So what do I do? How do I address this? How do I make myself WANT to make the changes that I need to make in order to create a healthy environment for my family? How do I change our habits so that we are getting the right foods, in the right portions, and not being crabby about it?

And exercise? Where am I going to manage to squeeze in all the time that I am supposed to have to get the children to be out and moving for at least an hour a day? And how do I manage that and manage to impress upon them how important it is to do homework? They need to move and not sit in front of the television or computer for hours at a time, but they also need to get their homework done. My daughter gets too tired to do her homework unless I push her to do it right after school. She gets off the bus, has a snack and then starts on her homework. If it waits until after dinner she is up way too late and not only fights with me about getting it done, but doesn't get enough sleep.

My son Christopher is in kindegarten and they don't really get homework. But I should be working harder with him on learning to read. It has kind of slipped through the cracks lately. I can't let it. He needs to learn to read. I need to be involved. I've been so terrible about it. I need to work out a schedule for all this stuff so I can fit it all in. Someone help me. If you're out there and have suggestions, please, let me in on them.

I have more to say, but it's picking up here at work, so I have to sign off. I'll come back to whine later, I promise. For now though, here's my five things:

1.) I'm grateful that children are forgiving
2.) I'm grateful that my family is relatively healthy
3.) I'm grateful that we are a good portion of the way through winter
4.) I'm grateful that my brother helped me redo my bathroom.
5.) I'm grateful that I am not homeless or unemployed.

My bucket list:
1.) I want to write my children letters letting them know how wonderful I think they really are
2.) I want to find a way to let my husband know how much I love and appreciate him
3.) I want to do something that matters to someone
4.) I want to support an important cause in a significant way
5.) I want to have dinner with all of my good friends

Sunday, January 18, 2009

My five things...

The five things that I am grateful for today are:

1.) Husbands who care enough to warm up your car before you have to leave for work
2.) That I live in a country that is made up of such diversity
3.) That we have elected our first black president
4.) I have a friend or two who will listen to me cry when I am feeling at my worst
5.) I have a job

My bucket list for tonight:

1.) I want all of my children to know that I think they are special people, deserving of love and attention
2.) I want to travel more with my husband
3.) I want to visit my sisters
4.) I want to learn how to be more carefree
5.) I want my in-laws to know I think they are truly unique, loving individuals that I feel lucky to know

Unfunky wishing for Uncluttered

Well, I'm back. It's been a few days. Sorry if I've left you hanging, wanting to read my next words. Truth is, life intervenes. Most of the time I do my writing late at night and I have been gosh darn tired lately. I actually went to bed a couple of times before 10pm. That is unheard of for me. I am a night owl. Always have been. Suspect I always will be.

Trouble is, when you are a night owl, you pay. So much of the world operates during the day...especially the morning. When I let myself function the way my body wants to function, I am up until all hours and will sleep the morning away. But those silly public schools will not allow my children's classes to start after noon time. I have to get up and get my older children off to school and take care of my little guy.

So I struggle. I don't know how other people fit in everything that they want and need to do in a day. I just don't have time. I often become overwhelmed. I see the pile of unwashed dishes, the dirty laundry and the unpaid bills and I wilt. I look at the home repair projects and sag. I see my dog pawing at the door when it is -7 degrees Farenheit outside and sigh. I look at the phone and think of relatives I haven't spoken to lately, friends I should call and hours I need to work and sigh deeper. I think of writing projects I want to do, books I want to read and recipes I want to try and it feels like a huge weight upon my shoulders. I see the snow in the driveway, unshovelled. I talk to a neighbor and find out that he has congestive heart failure and think to myself how I should be helping him shovel his driveway. My children want me to play with them. They want me to feed them. I need to change diapers. I need to go food shopping. But first I have to clean out the refrigerator.

And don't even get me started about spending time with my husband. I just don't get to. Not at this point in my life anyway. By the time he is home from work he is wiped out tired. He eats dinner, watches tv, and goes to bed. Sometimes, as I have said previously, we lift weights together. But we hardly have time for a good conversation.

I know. Wah wah wah. Stop whining you say. No. I won't. This is my blog and if I want and need to whine, I will and you will just have to suck it up and enjoy the cheese with the wine. It's nice...a brie I think. Try it with the apple whine.

Everyone is busy. I know. I just don't know how everyone juggles all this crap. I'm a fairly simple individual. I like the outdoors. I like books. I enjoy my dog, my children. I have a credit card, but am VERY reluctant to use it due in part to some very large credit problems a few years back. (I think we've learned our lesson). Although my children do not want for anything, I am more inclined to spend my money on experiences for them than stuff. Yes, my daughter has an iPod, but it helps her focus to do her homework in our noisy household. She is an honor student who is interested in becoming a writer someday (or a cattle rancher). She loves all things creative. She paints, she writes, she has done some stop motion animation, she has done some drama. I am hoping that she will be able to participate in Rebel Shakespeare this summer. If you don't know what Rebel Shakespeare is, visit . I'm not sure I will be able to pull it off as we cannot afford the full tuition. I hope I can find a scholarship for her to go, but we will see.

My other two children are talented and smart too. I know that I am bragging, but if you can't brag in your blog, where can you brag? My son Christopher takes karate. He goes twice a week. His teacher says he shows a lot of talent for it. He is focused, strong and disciplined for a five year old. His kindegarten teacher has said he is her top student. She has also said that he is one of the nicest children she has in either of the two classes she teaches (morning or afternoon kindegarten). I feel proud of him for that.

My youngest, Daniel, has an intense imagination and seems to be musically inclined. He likes to sing, although he won't admit it. He takes a music movement class once a week. He likes to pretend he doesn't like it but I catch him singing snatches of the songs during the week. He is sweet, emotional and loving. He is by far the most social of my three children. My brother-in-law's girlfriend came by last week with a friend and in no time he had her down in the basement showing her his train table, his hotwheels and his leggos. He assumes that everyone wants to talk (read listen) to him, everyone wants to play with him and you will of course forgive him if he doesn't allow you a word in edgewise.

So I take care of the kids. I take care of the pets (cat, dog, and at present, some caterpillars that will be butterflies in a few weeks). I take a few half-hearted stabs at taking care of the house. I let my husband know I WANT to take care of him but hope he understands if I don't do a great job, and I have almost nothing left to take care of me. This blog is taking care of me, but I am up at 2:44am writing it, so I will pay on the other end - except that I am writing while I am working, so I will get SOME sleep in between the interruptions from bickering, shouting kids and husband.

How do people really handle all the things that they want and need to handle in their lives? There is so much that I want to do. I am trying to pace myself, but I also feel like my clock is ticking. Not my biological clock in the usual sense, as I have several children. But my mortal clock. I feel like there is so much that I want to do before I am unable to because of age or circumstance. There is volunteering. There is hiking. There is climbing, camping, writing, joking, laughing and communing that I want to do. I want to teach my children, learn from my children and the universe and to just plain experience all that I can before my time is up. I want a sex life back (try having one with three young children underfoot). I want to be a good companion to my husband. He is my best friend and yet he is often expected to wait for my attention. How long can he wait? How long should he wait? Should he wait at all? Will he tire of waiting and turn to someone else eventually? I hope not. I love him with all my heart and soul, but I hardly show him that. I am usually too tired and grumpy to.

I don't really show my friends much attention either. I love them, I really do, but I just find that the pace of life hardly affords me the time to do even an eighth of what I would like to for my friends. I have a few that have offered me a good shoulder to cry on, some laughs, and just a place where I don't feel like such a freak. You know who you are.

And life is passing. Life is speeding by. I won't have these days back. I am always missing opportunities to show people I care about how I feel about them. I really hope that they know I DO care. I hope that even though I am wrapped up in making my daily rounds that my friends and family know that I care about them. I love them. I think about them every day.

We loose touch so easily from those we hold dear. We're always saying, "In a minute." I will call in a minute. I will stop by tomorrow. I will send that card or gift next time I go to the post office. I won't call now. They might be sleeping. Or working. Or out to lunch. Or in a meeting. There's always something that intervenes.

Maybe I shouldn't let it. Maybe I should say, "Too bad if you're sleeping." Or maybe it's too bad if you are working. Or out to lunch. Or in a meeting. I care about you and wanted to let you know now. You are NOT alone. You are NOT forgotten. I DO care. But I will let you know a decent hour.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Why Fight Gravity?

I am so sore. I can't believe how dumb I have been lately. I have gone against my better judgement and begun to exercise regularly. My husband (I need to start using his name here, Steve) have begun lifting weights on Monday, Wednesday and Fridays. I walk twice a week with my friend Ellen on Tuesday and Thursday, and I am using my Wii system to do Wii Fit, have a Wii Personal trainer and do Dancing With the Stars for Wii. I have been really sore. I'm trying not to grumble, but I am so out of shape that everything hurts.

It's hard to fight gravity and inertia. It's just so much easier not to work out. But I have to admit that I have a lot more energy than I usually do. I'm sure it's because I have been working out. I can't wait until the weather warms up and I can walk my pooch more regularly again. I want to go hiking. We'll see. He may be too chubby by then to handle it.

Now, this is NOT a new year's resolution or anything. I never make those. I figure that eventually I would always break those resolutions. So, the way I choose to look at this is that I need to keep from being bored. Boredom is my enemy. When I get bored, I get depressed. That is when I start to feel miniscule in the cosmos, to feel that I am insignificant, unimportant and not good enough. My stint last summer in the hospital brought my own mortality home to me. I won't say that it was a life changing wasn't. It should have been, but I don't think, in all honesty, that it was. I still eat crap. I still have not sorted things out with God, I am still angry with people in my past (you know who you are). I have not done a careful inventory of my life and come to any deep epiphanies.

I have just realized that I am fat and life does not last forever. If I don't take care of what I have, I will lose it. Not only that, if I am not a good example, my children will learn terrible habits and I will have failed as a mother. I want them to be better off than I am. I want their lives to be happier, healthier, more in touch with God, closer to being on the right path for them, and more fulfilling. It won't be any of those things if they see me throwing away what God gave me.

Sigh. The whole "like it or not you are an example," thing is wearisome sometimes. But there it is. I created these children, and since I did I owe it to them to provide them with the best care possible. I have to teach them right from wrong, show them how to achieve their dreams and catch them when they fall trying to achieve those dreams. I don't know if I am up to the task...I think I fall short in so many areas. But that is just too bad. I don't have the luxury of curling up in a ball and throwing my hands up and saying "No mas." I have to get up every day and stare any failures I have made in the face. Like it or not.

But I get to see and share in the successes too. I get to be there to see my son be the lead in his class play (he's Rudolph), and I get to go to parent-teacher conferences and hear that my children are very bright and well behaved. I was told that my daughter could easily skip a grade academically - we just thought that she needs to be with kids her own age for social reasons, so we didn't pursue that idea. I get to see my little guy come out of his shell inch by inch. I get to tuck them in at night and read to them. I get to see them learn to read and write, and to investigate the world around them. It's awesome.

So tonight, it will be easy to write the five things I am grateful for as I sign off. Here they are:

1.) I am grateful for a new year
2.) I am grateful for people that motivate me to work out
3.) I am grateful that I am still fairly healthy
4.) I am grateful that I can take care of myself
5.) I am grateful that my children are so terrific

And now my bucket list:

1.) Before I die, I want to make sure all my family and friends really know that I love them
2.) Before I die, I want to set up accounts for my children to go to school if that is what they want after high school
3.) Before I die, I want to set up a foundation in my son Thomas' memory
4.) Before I die, I want to teach my children to have compassion for those less fortunate
5.) Before I die, I want to figure out my relationship with and to God


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Not only Unfunky, but Unoriginal

Hey. I'm feeling pretty awful right now. I wasn't until a couple of minutes ago. See, I go through this dance when I write. Or when I prepare to write. That's a more accurate statement. I read my email, visit my facebook account, read my friends' blogs, read blogs that are linked to my friends' blogs, and finally, when I have screwed my courage to the sticking post, I jump in and start to write. Most days I don't know what the topic is going to be until I start writing it. It seems to spin itself out eventually though.

While I was going through my nightly gyrations and rituals to prepare to write, I found myself reading my own feelings. At first I thought, "This is great, I'm not the only one who feels this way. I am not alone." But after a few dozen minutes of poking through people's lives, I began to realize something...I am not special. There is nothing unique about me. It seems that every thought I have had someone else has had before. No matter what spin I try to put on things it seems that there were several others walking down that particular path before me.

So what is the point of me? Why do I exist? If I'm just a replication of everything that is out there already, why bother? I recently bought a new calendar. There are some pretty funny things on this calendar. The theme of the calendar seems to be cynical humor. January's picture is of a half naked guy (you only see from the shoulders up so relax) with a really bad mullet. The caption reads, "Your purpose in life may be only to serve as a warning to others." It seemed really funny when I bought it at the store, but I find myself thinking about that statement. Can you imagine if the only reason you exist is so that others can look at you and go, "Boy, at least I haven't turned out like that guy." Kind of like guests on the Jerry Springer show.

Which brings me to a little side discussion. If you are a friend or family member of mine reading this, please take this to heart. If you EVER ask me to go on Jerry Springer with you, you can assume that I know that our relationship, whatever it may be, is over, and that you are doing something fairly bizarre and red-necked. Which is WHY the relationship is ending. There is absolutely NO WAY that I will go on any show with you to discuss any aspect of our relationship. Just the fact that you are asking me to indicates that our relationship is not what I thought it was and things are over in a very big way.

But I digress. Does my life serve as a warning to others of what not to become? Tonight I feel tired, dumpy and as unattractive as possible. So probably. At one point in my life I was on the way to becoming someone. To being something special. But not anymore. Now I am just a middle aged woman with stretchmarks from several pregnancies, a pudgy middle and more than one chin. An old friend wrote on her blog that she has just recently accepted that she is nobody special. I'm not sure I can accept that I am nobody special either. But I am not particularly special. There is nothing that really stands out about me.

As I say that, part of me says, "Who cares?" Who cares if I am special? I have a husband who loves me - don't look that particular gift horse in the mouth, there are so many who do not have even that. I have a home, I have beautiful children (they get their beauty from their Daddy, trust me), and an awesome dog. I have been to Europe, I have friends and I live in a decent neighborhood. I'm not tremendously ill (anymore) and I am in relatively good health. Why should I care if I am special? I should just appreciate what I have and live my life, right? Right.

But I care. I wanted to set the world on fire. I wanted to make my mark. I wanted to make a difference somehow. But here I am, almost 40, and I haven't done a single thing to make life better for anyone else. I haven't changed anything significantly. I wanted to live a full and exciting life, full of travel to exotic locations, interesting things to do and to make others' lives richer because they knew me. But that isn't happening.

Why not? Because I have to fix my bathroom. My minivan needs to be inspected and my children need to eat. They may have a snow day tomorrow and I am hoping that they will allow the telecommuting to work to happen without too much grumbling. My dog sometimes barfs in his kennel because he refuses to eat what he needs to.

I am not very charismatic either. People don't gravitate toward me. I'm the sort of person you want to be around if you want to be sure that your child is picked up from school on time. If you want to be sure that your five year old is not watching Saw V while away from you, I'm your man (or woman as the case may be). But don't look to me if you are looking for a fun date, someone who has been cliff diving or spelunking. Those things appeal to me, but for one reason or another I have just never been able to fit them in.

Maybe when I am fifty I will go skydiving. But even if I do, who will care? That won't really matter in the grand scheme of things. Is there a single thing that I could do that would matter in the grand scheme of things? Unlikely. If there were, someone more charismatic has probably already beat me to the punch.

Ever hear of that movie, "The Bucket List?" It's a movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman I think. I think the premise of the movie is that they are middle aged men and they have a list of things they want to do before they kick the bucket so to speak. I haven't seen the movie. I want to - it's on my list of things to do before I die, but I haven't made it yet. I think I need a bucket list. But my bucket list wouldn't just be a bunch of random things that I want to try before I croak. My bucket list would be a list of things I would want to do that might help others before I die.

Here's my bucket list:
1.) I want to open my home to someone less fortunate than me.
2.) I want to donate my time to something like Habitat for Humanity or something like that
3.) I want to work in a soup kitchen
4.) I want to give something that is really hard for me personally to give because the person I am giving it to really needs it
5.) I want to learn to want less

That's just a start. I think I will add to my bucket list every post the way I add to my list of things that I am grateful for. I'm going to give you that list and sign off because it's getting late and I need to go to bed.

I am grateful for:
1.) Friends, both old and new. I couldn't get through without them.
2.) That I have enough of the things that I need to survive
3.) That I can type - writing seems to be somehow therepeutic
4.) My children's affection. They are lovable and squishy, even if they don't want their friends to know
5.) Auto detailing - I spilled chicken soup. Enough said.

Monday, January 5, 2009

My salute to object permanence

I had to send my Christopher to his room for the evening tonight. It really sucks. I hate doing it, but I knew it had to be done. He was a bit out of control. We were in Walmart and he was angry that I would not buy him something. We were there to buy a birthday present for a friend. He didn't want to accept that, and was angry with me. He knew that the time had come to silence his protests, but he was still angry. So instead of fighting with me, he chose to take his anger out on his brother Daniel. He picked a fight, then decided to hit Daniel. So I told him that when we got home he was to go directly to his room and he would spend the rest of the night there. We would bring dinner up to him as he was not allowed to be with the family if he could not act appropriately around them.

Does it sound a bit harsh to you? Banishing him for the whole evening for batting his younger brother? Well, let me tell you that I have been trying to work with him on this subject for the last month or so. I have given him the benefit of the doubt several times. I have tried other methods - talking things out, time out, spankings. Nothing has been working. Plus he is resorting to that most annoying behavior, the "Please please." You know what that is, admit it. Here is what it looks like and don't even try to tell me you have not seen it if you are a parent:

"(Insert child's name here), I told you to stop that!"

Response: "Oh, I forgot."

"Do that again and you WILL be punished."

Response: "Oh, okay, I won't do it again."

"There you are, doing _____ again! Didn't I tell you not to do that? You are going straight to your room the minute we walk in the door buster! You are in bed for the night!"

Response: "Please please Mommy (or Daddy), I won't do it again! I promise promise!" They say this last as if you should know that by saying the word promise twice they REALLY mean it this time.

"No. I told you last time that if you did it again you would be punished! You did it again anyway. You are going to bed when we get home!"

At this point the response is nonverbal to begin with...a tantrum, followed by screaming and crying, "No! I am NOT going to my room!"

And it only gets better from there sister.

The hard part about this is that I really do understand. I understand his feelings and sympathize with him. I know it's hard not to just turn around and knock someone's block off when the person you really want to pummel is out of reach for various reasons. Maybe they are older than you and/or bigger. Maybe they sign your paycheck. Maybe there's a court order forbidding you from doing so, or if there isn't and you do this, there will be. Maybe you just know that even though they deserve it, we are instructed to turn the other cheek. Or maybe you just know that you have to continue working with this person in spite of how things turn out and it might be better to not burn that particular bridge.

A friend of mine was telling me recently about someone she has to work with who is a real jerk. She was trying to remain Christian in her dealings with him, but by her account he did not seem to think that it was necessary that he do so. She really wanted to knock his block off. I wanted to encourage her to in all honesty. He really seemed like someone who would be difficult to bear. She kind of seemed like she was looking for advice, so I did my best. Wanna know what I told her?

I told her to let him know in no uncertain terms, that he was acting like a jerk. Speak the truth in love. I told her that I personally believe that this is just as Christian as the "turn the other cheek" way of doing things. Sometimes I think it is moreso. The example I used was of a parent with a child. I asked her if she would tell her children when they were acting like jerks. She said that yes indeed, she would. Why is that? I asked. She said that she felt that it was her job to let them know when they were not acting appropriately in civilized society before someone bigger, with more muscle and less compassion and love does.

So if you should tell your children that they are acting like jerks, my theory goes, why not tell this someone who is not your child? Because it won't change anything for the better she responded. Hmmmm. But who are you telling them for? Them? Or you? While I fully believe in speak the truth in love, sometimes I think you need to do that because it benefits you to get it off your chest. Once you do that, you can often move on and let go of it.

I wonder why that is. Why telling someone that they are being a real jerk can often allow you to move past their jerkiness. Maybe just speaking the truth out loud somehow allows you to put a face to the feelings whorling around inside you, and putting a face on it allows you to categorize it outside of yourself. The problem can be sorted into the "it's you, it's not me," box, which creates a boundary. Boundaries are important. To learn to separate yourself from others. To know which things are yours to own and which things are not.

This is a task that developmentally is really early. One of the first things a baby must learn is that it is separate from its mother. When Mommy goes away, baby cries. When Mommy returns, baby stops crying. Experts tell you the reason that this happens is that baby has not learned that Mommy will come back and that Mommy is a separate person. When this task is learned, the crying stops when Mommy disappears because baby knows that Mommy will return. This is referred to as object permanence.

Are we adults who struggle with telling someone when they are acting like a jerk struggling to relearn this object permanence thing, but in a different way? Are we struggling to understand that when someone is jerky to us, that doesn't mean that we are also a jerk? I think we all sometimes forget that others are not having the same collective thought - that we are jerks. Individuals may think that, sure, but I think sometimes that when someone is rude, unkind or otherwise jerky to us that many of us are reacting as if that is what everyone must think. We put this into the group consciousness and fail to remember that not everyone is the same. There are millions of individuals out there ... they are not the same as you nor are they the same as the joker who is treating you so unfairly.

So when we experience these jerks in our lives, what should we do? My thoughts on this, which you are obviously interested in if you are still reading, are this: We should send this jerk to their figurative room until they can act civilly. We can choose to send them dinner if we do not want to be the same kind of jerk as they are, or we can choose to let them feel the consequences of antisocial behavior...hunger in one form or another.

Just a thought.

My five things that I am grateful for:

1.) I am grateful that I can choose who I hang out with
2. ) I am grateful that my son knows that I love him even when he is a jerk
3.) I am grateful that my son can forgive me when I act like a jerk
4.) I am grateful that there are people in my life who can tolerate my particular brand of jerkiness.
5.) I am grateful that when I am a jerk, there are people who will let me know and will give me another try.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Why Me?

This is a thought that occurs to me a lot. Way too frequently. I am going to work very hard to stamp that question out of my repertoire. Want to know why? Because basically, its a pointless question. Who knows why me? Who cares? The fact is, it is me. I am responsible for whatever it is that needs doing. Whining about why I have to be the one to do it is a tremendous waste of time. My time and yours.

I don't know if you do this, but I ask myself that type of question far too often. Why do I have to be the one to clean up the dishes in the kitchen? Why is it always me expected to empty the dishwasher? Who cares? Just shut yer trap and do it. Why is it me that has to make sure the kids have their back packs ready for school? Why do I have to be the one to make the lunches? Because you're their mom you whiney baby. Shut it and do it.

While I am working to stamp those questions out of my repertoire, can you do me a favor though? Dump your stereotypes please. Stop over generalizing and trying to fit me into a box. I am not going to be Beaver Cleaver's mom and wear dresses. I wear jeans and/or sweat pants. They are comfortable. Way more comfortable than those stupid nylons. Warmer too. I hate to be cold. I like to cook sometimes, but then there are periods of time that I have zero interest in cooking. If you are a member of my family I will try to provide you with three nutritious meals of some type every day, but don't count on it to be from scratch. I have to be in the mood for that. If you think I am lazy, then feel free to cook something yourself. Unless you are under twelve. Then you can accept what I am offering for the meal or feel very hungry. If you are over twelve and don't like what I am offering or when I am offering it, please feel free to crack open a cook book or two and whip up a meal. I won't be offended. I won't stop you and I definitely will not hover over your shoulder telling you how to do it. Mi casa is su casa.

I'm generous like that. I will open up my home to you. If you want something to eat, you are free to cook. If you feel that your clothing is not clean enough, I am happy to share my washing machine with you. If you don't feel that I am doing a great job with the housekeeping, feel free to pick up a mop, a broom, or a dusting cloth and show me how it's done. I have no ego about it. I am open to instruction. I just learn better if you demonstrate - just telling me will not be enough.

My husband and I are pretty flexible about any of the tasks that need doing around the house. We don't have any preformed ideas of whose job it is either. We are both generous souls, willing to let anyone step up to the plate and show us how things are done. If something bothers you and it is not up to code, please feel free to instruct us. We take criticism quite well, as long as its constructive, and you are willing to instruct us in ways that we will absorb your lesson. If you have some 1950's notion of the roles of men and women in the household, please feel free to elaborate. We will not necessarily agree with you, but you are more than welcome to share your ideas with us.

If you are interested in my thoughts, however, I am happy to share those as well. Since this blog is a place where I have said that I will share my thoughts with those who are interested in reading them, I will share my thoughts here. It seems that the topic of discussion for tonight is men and women's roles. I don't really know why that is the topic of discussion, but since it is, I am happy to share. If this stuff bores you, feel free to skip or skim this or you can come back another night, when I am not ranting about this stuff.

So let's begin. First off, during my college days I read a little Dorothy Sayers. I won't pretend to be very widely read on the subject, but something I read that she said a number of years ago has stayed with me all these years. I won't try to quote exactly, as I don't have the source right at my finger tips, but it goes something like this: "I do not want to be considered for a particular job or function because I am female. I want to be considered for the job because I am me, uniquely qualified with my set of skills and talents to do the job well, and I want to do it." So let's stop pretending that a vagina or penis makes you more or less qualified to complete a job, unless that job is one of procreation or delivering babies.

Do I agree that men may have certain proclivities that lend themselves to certain functions? Perhaps. But that does not rule out the possibility that there are women who have unique abilities and interests that make them suitable for the job. Let's talk about specifics here. Let's talk about childrearing. Many people would say that women are the softer sex. That because of this perceived softness they are more capable of being nurturing. But what if a particular woman was not reared in a particularly nurturing environment? What if those aspects of personality were not valued or encouraged? Couldn't it be possible that she may not have developed those skills? Perhaps the capacity to nurture is like a muscle, and if not exercised it withers. What then? Is she a defective woman, to be thrown out with the curbside trash? Or is it possible that lacking that nurturing personality, other things may have been developed that could be of value? Other things that may lend themselves to taking care of a family? Perhaps she identified with the bread winner of her family. Perhaps she was raised to value toughness and work ethics, salesmanship and the ability to barter. If said woman had this skill set, would she be considered less of a woman, less capable of taking care of her young?

Conversely, if a man was raised in a particularly nurturing environment, wouldn't it be possible that he may develop those soft and nurturing skills that would lend themselves to childrearing? Is it possible that he may be better suited to providing the love and attention that his young would need? If he were to nurture his children and see to their needs both physically and emotionally, is there something wrong with him? Is he raising sissies? Why is it that when we see a man who is emotional, our first thoughts are often to wonder if he is gay? To think that he is somehow, "flamboyant?"

Many would argue with me that we have moved away from such extremes. We are modern men and women. We have stay-at-home dads, working moms and the like. So why is it that women still get paid less than men for the same jobs and men get ostracized from the mom's clubs or playgroups in our neighborhood parks and churches?

Just some food for thought. We can talk more at another time. For now though, I am signing off. Vacation is over and I want to be bright eyed and bushy tailed for the start of the week. But here are my five things that I am grateful for:

1.) I am grateful that my husband and I see eye to eye on many of the household tasks
2.) I am grateful that I can choose my own path
3.) I am grateful that I can recognize and stop myself from whining
4.) I am grateful that I can refuse to be boxed in to a stereo type
5.) I am grateful that I can write.

Life Turns on a Dime...

Hey everyone. Everyone who reads this anyway. I just found out that a friend of mine lost her husband abruptly to a massive heart attack. This past weekend they were sharing the new year's arrival and now...he's gone. Just like that.

Big sigh here. It just brings me back to what I was thinking about when my Tommy died. The fact that you just never know what you will be faced with at any given time. We all go about our daily business and rarely give a passing thought to the fact of our mortality or the mortality of those we love. We go to work, eat bacon, go shopping, try on shoes, complain about our finances and the cold, and we never really know when our story will be over. We don't know when the proverbial covers will be slammed shut, cutting off our happily ever after. We spend much of our time grousing about how our ever after is not a happily as we would like.

Too bad bub. If you aren't happy in your ever after, who should be held responsible for that? Me? Your cat? Dr. Phil? I don't think so. The person responsible is staring back at you when you look in the mirror to brush your teeth in the morning. I'm not about to tell you that you don't have a right to grouse. How should I know? I don't walk in your shoes every day. Maybe you have a tremendous daily burden. Maybe you have paper skin and glass bones. I don't know. All I am saying is that the only person who can really make a move to bring more happily into your ever after is you. You aren't helpless. You aren't powerless. You may just have to adjust your expectations a bit.

You might want to tell me to stick my happily ever after in my ear. You have the right to feel that way. But will telling me that make you feel happier? If so, here I am my friend, waiting for you to tell me where to put my happily ever after. You can email me, you can put it in the comment section of this blog, whatever works for you. You could even send it U.S. mail if you have my snail mail address. I don't mind. I bruise easily yes, but I will recover.

Will that make you happier? If so, more power to you. If not, then why are you complaining about not being happy? Why not just do whatever you need to do in order to be happy? How important is it to you that you are happy? Are you willing to do what it takes in order to find that happiness? Even if its hard to find your happily ever after?

Why does it seem like it's so hard for you to find happiness when it seems easy for others? Why is life so unbalanced, so unfair? I don't know. It just is. All I know is that you are wasting time stomping your feet about life not being fair and being overly hard for you. Time that could be spent pursuing whatever you need to pursue in order to have your own little piece of happily ever after.

And the clock is ticking. Your clock. Ticking out the moments. Counting out the seconds that you could be using to be happy. To be fulfilled. To work towards something really meaningful. Something of substance. Something that will cause your God to say, "This is my son/daughter in whom I am pleased." Something that will make you stop brushing your teeth for a moment, stare in the mirror, and realize that you did what you needed to do. What you could do. That you should be proud and satisfied.

If that moment came, right now, where your story was over, could you say you did all you could to write your happily ever after?

Five things I am grateful for:

1.) I am not completely powerless over my life
2. ) I am completely powerless over my life (yeah, I know, a paradox)
3.) I am still writing my happily ever after
4.) I can write my happily ever after in pencil
5.) Pencils have erasers

Friday, January 2, 2009

Well, here I am, at work. Finally I have some time to write. I haven't had much lately. I keep trying to find a way to squeeze a few minutes in here or there but in the end I always feel like I am taking something away from someone else. It's an ongoing struggle of mine. If I don't write, I feel like I have nothing for myself and I start to panic.

Like today. We took the kids to the Museum of Science. We wanted to do something fun and educational with them. We even bought a Museum of Science membership. To make it even more fun we invited a friend of Allison's and her mother. Her friend's name is Ashley and her mom is Christine. Christine is a kindegarten teacher. She is very upbeat, positive and friendly. She is a generous soul and very full of information. I enjoy her.

The problem? The fact that I am a narcissist. My daughter is beginning to venture into that age where she wants nothing to do with mom unless it involves money for food, transportation to fun events, and being a touchstone to reassure herself that all is well. That is my job. That is my role. I feel shut out. I want to have this very close relationship with Allison where she confides in me and shares all her joys and fears with me. But that is not the job. And I'm not sure I am qualified for the job I have to do. I want to be her buddy. Her pal. Her friend. But I recognize that is not what I am needed for, and that hurts. Deep. I've been replaced. By another 9 year old. Hurrah. Meh.

I tried on several occassions today to hook up with Allison and discuss what she was seeing at the museum. At every pass she avoided me and ran off to be with her chum. Which is what a 9 year old girl is supposed to do I guess. We went to see an exhibit they had on display about mythical creatures - you know, mermaids, dragons, the kraken, unicorns...all things a 9 year old girl is fascinated with. We walked through the exhibit. We read the materials presented. I spoke with Christine, the schoolteacher, about the significance of the dragon in the Chinese New Year. But I couldn't tell you if my daughter enjoyed herself. Not even a little bit. I felt so dreadfully out of touch with her. I feel like I should be able to tell whether or not she enjoyed the exhibit, but I really can't say.

I couldn't find much solace in my boys either. They wouldn't keep still long enough to find out what they enjoyed. They seemed mostly focused on hitting each other and running away from Steve and I. Christopher will often pull away from me violently when I try to get him to calm down and focus.

At least I know what Daniel did not like. We bought tickets to the Dinosaurs Alive show. The boys love dinosaurs. But Daniel was terrified of this show. He ended up needing to be carried out he was so scared. He spent the rest of the day informing us that he preferred the dinosaurs that did not move. He wanted to spend all day in the dinosaur exhibit area looking at the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the other dinosaur models and fossils. When we went into the 3-d theatre later to watch the show about sharks, Daniel wouldn't even look for the first 10 minutes because he had thought we brought him back into the dinosaur show. Eventually the boys were taken at least a little by the shark show. They spent some time watching and naming the sharks - they often read books about sharks with me, so they know the names of various sharks. They pointed out the whale shark, the scalloped hammerhead and the great white shark. I was impressed that they remembered these.

We also spent a fair amount of time in the area where you can design your own fish. Once they designed and named the fish, they could also release it into the collective virtual ocean. My children spent a fair amount of time trying to control the behaviors of the various fish (you can do that via the various consoles available in the area), upset if their fish got eaten of course. My boys, true to their mischievous natures, went all out to see to it that the girls' fish were eaten. The little punks (secretly I am glad they have this mischievous streak).

Another big no for the boys - the Van De Graff generator. You know the really loud noisy machine that generates bolts of lightening? I have been in that show several times in the last nine years and never once been able to see it. I've heard it's a great show. I'd love to hear about it since I have never been able to actually see it, so if you've seen the show please, feel free to tell me all about it. You won't spoil any surprises since I can't see it anyway.

That seems to be another of my roles...remover from all things scary and loud. I don't get to actually enjoy the shows we go to, I am there to be sure that my children are enjoying, and if they are not, to remove the obstacles to enjoyment. If that is not possible then my job seems to be to remove them. To avoid nightmares you know.

So please, help me develop something outside of my children. I love them. I want to be with them. But I am coming to realize that I am a conduit with them. I am not there to be sharing their experience with them. I am there to be sure that they can have the experience at all and to take from it what they can. My involvement and/or enjoyment is secondary. So I must develop enjoyable experiences outside of my relationship with them. Not that I don't enjoy them. Don't misunderstand. I do. It's just different. I enjoy the fact that I am able to assist them in their adventures in the world, even if I can't share those adventures with them in the way I once thought I would.

Here are five things I am grateful for before I sign off:

1.) I am grateful that my children are curious about the world around them
2.) I am grateful that my children have distinct personalities
3.) I am grateful that my children are capable of developing friendships
4.) I am grateful that I can write about my experiences as a parent
5.) I am grateful that I live in an area that provides opportunities for my children to learn about the world around them in an interactive way.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

For Auld Angs Syn

What exactly does that mean? For Auld Angs Syn? I have no real idea. Whenever I hear it sung it seems to mean something maudlin and misty and reminscient. I suppose that makes sense if you are looking back at the old year and thinking about all the good times you had and the people you will miss.

But frankly, 2008 sucked majorly for me. I lost the entire summer to being sick. I was flat on my back for a month and a half. I had to learn how to walk again. And that was the good part. I actually almost died. I had a combination staph and strep infection in my leg. That went septic and on top of that, I got pneumonia. They had to intubate me in order to help me breathe. A friend of mine who works in the medical field told me after I recovered that only 1/3 of the people who wind up in my situation actually recover. Usually it's fatal.

I am still recovering from that illness. I have no stamina. I found that out when I went swimming in November. I raced a 10 year old girl across the pool in a hotel. It was a small pool. I was exhausted when I reached the other side and was sucking wind.

The other reason it sucks is because since I was out of work from May until September we took a big hit financially. We had to pull my daughter from horseback riding lessons and my son from Preschool. I suppose that if that is all that is problematic I should count myself lucky. We are eating, we have a roof over our heads and clothes on our backs. So we are pretty lucky. But I am bummed out that we had to take those activities from our children. Allison was enjoying horseback riding so much. She was doing well and it was helping her to be more confident. It was terrific. She looked so tall and proud in the saddle. It made me feel great knowing that we could do that for her. Now we can't. It bums me out.

Pulling Daniel from Preschool sucks too. He was making friends and learning how to follow directions. He was trying new things and challenging his mind. Now he is going to just be home with me. I hope that I can provide him with enough stimulation.

I hope my kids don't feel like they are being punished. They don't deserve that. They deserve good things. They deserve to be happy. They are good kids.

In 2008 my father in law lost his eye to a strep infection. He has had about 3 months of going back and forth to Massachusetts Eye and Ear. He has had to have surgeries, ivs, medications, and many many doctor visits.

In 2008 my oldest brother was told by his wife that she no longer wants to BE his wife. She has decided that she wants him out of her life and that she wants nothing to do with him. They have two children together. My brother was raising a third child of hers (had during an affair during her marriage to my brother) as his own. Now the father of that child is threatening my brother's life and by all accounts is not a good man. He had nothing to do with his daughter for the first four years of her life. He never paid any child support, nor did he visit her. Now he is acting psychotic and demanding that my brother stay away from his daughter.

In 2008 my father had a ministroke, or a TIA. This "mini" stroke has made it difficult for him to talk or use his right side. Since about 15 years ago he had a stroke that made it difficult for him to use his left side, this is most unhelpful. He has to take deep breaths and force the air out of his lungs to talk.

In 2008 my mother and her husband David began having troubles flipping houses. Due to the economy the housing market has come to an almost standstill and they are stuck with two houses that they cannot move and they cannot afford to keep.

So, forgive me if I do not get misty about 2008. Forgive me if I am not nostalgic. I am more interested in looking AHEAD. I want to look forward into 2009. I am hoping that this year will be better. That there will be good things in 2009. Perhaps my return to work will put us on more solid financial footing. Perhaps my health will be better. Hopefully my brother will work things out with his wife and failing that hopefully he will find a way to make his children feel secure while enduring the divorce. Hopefully my father's health will stabilize. No more strokes, TIA's or "ministrokes." (Whatever that means...nothing seems mini about losing the ability to talk to me). Hopefully my mother and step father will straighten out their financial troubles. Hopefully my father-in-law will not have any more complications from his eye infection. Neither will my mother-in-law.

So, I guess the new year is a season of hope for me. I am hoping for health for all, stability and security. I raise my glass to you. I hope you and yours are healthy, stable and secure. Oh. And happy. I hope you are happy too.

Here are my five things that I am grateful for:

1.) I am grateful that 2008 is over
2.) I am grateful that 2009 has been positive so far
3.) I am grateful that telecommuting has been going well so far
4.) I am grateful for Dancing with the Stars for Wii
5.) I am grateful that no one in my family is currently sick or injured

For Auld Angs Syn