Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fighting Dirty...

Hello. I need to vent. I feel stuck. I don't want to whine, but I find that the only good way for me to think through something is to write, so here I am.

So what do I need to vent about? Me. The World. My kids. My husband. Things just aren't going well these days. I can't really figure out why. If you look at my life you'd see that it is a pretty good life. I have a good man for a husband. He is steady, he doesn't drink, he doesn't beat me and doesn't chase other women, he works hard, he is honest, and is a good father. My children are beautiful. They are smart. They are mostly for the "I'm a kid so I need to test you" phase they are going through that should last roughly about 30 years or so. I have a nice home on a quiet street with good neighbors. I have a dog and a cat. No one is terrorizing me. I am living the American Dream by all accounts.

So why am I unhappy?

I started off thinking that I was angry with my husband. It appears that he lied to me when we married. He said that he knew that I was no June Cleaver when we decided to get engaged. He knew not to expect that I would find all my fulfillment in cleaning the house and preparing his dinner and having his children. I just am not equipped to be standing at the door when he arrives home with a drink and a shoulder massage at the ready. I cannot sit dociley by his side and listen to him fill me in on his day and pretend that I don't feel stress too.

While he is sharing the frustrations of his day, I am barely able to hear him. The phone is ringing. The dog is scratching at the door to go out and go potty. I am making macaroni and cheese. My children, angelic cherubs that they are, are tugging at my sleeves, calling to me to please pay attention to THEM, not Daddy. I am feeling tired, drained, like there is nothing left. I know I should be giving him my attention, but I just don't have any to give. I feel frazzled. I need to escape.

I feel stressed. I don't feel appreciated or understood.

What's worse? I know that he is stressed and misunderstood too. My husband has made a conscious decision to return to a sector of the working world that he found, shall we say, unpalatable the first time around. When he worked at this company before, he didn't particularly enjoy the glory-grabbing, ethically lazy, corporate climbing atmosphere that is in abundant supply there.

So why did he go back? Why return if he was being sucked dry by the energy and creativity vampires at work? His work is underappreciated. He is devalued. Those he works for seem to get what they can from him and give very little back. Sometimes they seem to even go out of their way to see to it that he doesn't feel valuable in any way.

So again you ask, why go back? Once you shake the dust off your feet, shouldn't you continue down the path of your life to more fruitful locales? Haven't we learned that throwing pearls before swine is a pointless exercise?

Unfortunately friends, the swine seem to have the upper hand. In this economy, the swine seem to be able to sling mud and filth and get away with it. The rest of us are just trying to get by. So when I answer your questions about why my husband has chosen to go back, what I will tell you is this: shelter and stability. He has responsibilities to his family. He takes those responsibilities seriously, and as noble as a work ethic, creativity and integrity are, they have to coexist with lack of appreciation, glory-grabbing, lazy ethics and Machiavellian corporate climbers who will throw anyone under the bus at the first opportunity if it means that they aren't going to wind up there themselves.

So when he comes home drained, I get it. I understand that he is mentally fried. He is looking to recharge so he can do the dance all over again tomorrow. I know that he has accepted that this is the sacrifice that he needs to make in order to see his children be cared for, protected and thrive. He knows that indignantly stomping out of his office after telling them what they can do with their job is not really an option he can afford. Not if he wants to provide the kind of stable life he believes his children need.

So what's the problem? To oversimplify it, here it is in the nutshell: the damn television. My white knight comes home on his trusty steed (minivan), removes his armor (polo shirt and dockers), dons his sweatpants and grabs a snack. He then plunks himself in front of the television and watches any one of a myriad of programs that he seems to like: the Celtics, Weekday Wings, Battle 360, Top Gear, or anything on the History Channel.

At first, I thought the main issue was that he seemed ignorant to the fact that I too would like to be able to sit as he does. I thought I was resentful of the fact that he seems oblivious to the need to set the table, make dinner, clear the table, get the children into pajamas or give them baths, help them with homework, read stories, or clear the table. I thought that I was aggravated because most nights when I come down from reading the bedtime stories the dishes are still waiting to be loaded into the dishwasher, the leftovers are still out and the table needs to be wiped down. And those things do irritate me, no doubt. But that's a cliche'. We poor women are not appreciated. We have to be all things to all people. Blah blah blah. We can't bring home the bacon AND fry it up in a pan, all while looking like the sexpots the media says we should look like. (By the way facebook, I don't CARE if Jennifer Anniston is my age but looks younger). Please spare me the phoney baloney.

But that isn't the main reason I am aggravated with him. The main reason I am aggravated with him is because he seems to prefer the television over me. He is developing a relationship with the television these days. He laughs while watching the television. He smiles, claps his hands and becomes deeply entranced in almost anything the television has to say. He used to act that way around me. I used to be able to make him feel good. Now I just make him feel used. The television has become his mistress.

He barely listens to me any more. Mostly, probably, because I represent more stress for him. I worry. There are bills to pay, appointments to go to, chores to handle. I try to communicate with him about what is going on in our family's lives, but I think he feels my stress and tunes out. How could he not? By the time he gets home most days I am out of juice. I just cannot be patient for one more minute. He barely has time to come in the door before he is assaulted with the stuff going on at home.

I am failing as his wife and I have to look that in the face every day and accept that I am failing. I just don't know how to cope with that. The really sad thing is that I know it's a character flaw of mine that is causing most of the troubles in our marriage. I feel it was a flaw handed down generations, and I have no idea how to fix things.

I can feel you there saying, "She's being too hard on herself." But really, I'm not. I can see the problem quite clearly. I'm nowhere near as good as I wish I was. I can logically understand what is wrong with me, but I don't seem able to change it. It isolates me. Makes me feel alone and afraid sometimes. I am surrounded by people who think I am a nice person. Who think I am good. But I know that inside, I really am not. I'm just too afraid to reveal who I really am. Afraid of the repercussions. I want to be wild and free, but I am afraid to be. So I conform. To please others. And I hate it.

I was driving home from work yesterday morning. I usually call my mom on those drives, mostly to keep awake. I love my mom, but we just don't see eye to eye on much. She's all into pop culture. Always has been, always will be. She gets her relationship advice from Oprah, Dr. Phil and Maury Povich. She hangs on their every word. She's a gossip-monger too. She has to let me know, "because she cares," that Cathy (my sister) is worried that I am upset with her. I haven't called her in a couple days. Now, I know that Cathy isn't worried. She and I understand if one or the other person doesn't get back to them it's because they have stuff going on. It's nothing personal. Besides, Cathy is busy enough with her life that she probably doesn't really think all that much about whether or not I am upset. She's in school, she works, she has a dog, she has a boyfriend, she has friends. I just don't occupy that much space in her mind. Again, nothing personal, but I don't really believe she is that worried about whether I call her back or not.
It's just that my mother makes up stuff. She doesn't feel that we kids are doing all the right things to show how close we are as a family. She tries to orchestrate opportunities to create closeness. She doesn't get that just because she doesn't see something it doesn't mean it isn't there. And if it isn't there, there is nothing that she can do to create it. I don't know how to not get upset when I listen to her talk, because most of what she says is pure, unadulterated bullshit.

She is a chameleon. I know that sounds judgemental, but she really is. I suppose we all are chameleons, but I feel it most when I talk to her. She talks to me as if her faith, her marriage and her family are the most important things to her. But when she talks to my brothers she is all about partying. She smokes pot, she drinks, she swears, and she is pretty free with the ethics and morals. She once told me that the man she most respected in her life was her grandfather and the best advice he ever gave her was, "Never use your own money. Always use someone else's." She followed that up by asking my husband and I if we wanted to go into business with her. I had to stifle a laugh. Hard.

I think she thinks that I don't know about her other lives, her other selves. My brother shares stories with me about her that would curl your hair. But we won't get into that. I digress.
I don't really want to spend time in my blog to bash my mom though. She is who she is because of the circumstances that surrounded her and because of the circumstances that continue to surround her. She is neither a saint, nor a demon. She just is. I mention her only because I want to share a little story with you to illustrate a point. My point? My point is that she is a narcissist, and so am I. She is on husband #4, she has no retirement income to speak of if you believe what she tells you, and she is so lonely for her family. But she doesn't get that you reap what you sow. She doesn't understand that you have to be there for those you love if you want them to love you back.

What do I mean? I mean, she says that all she wants is a close family. That is what is most important to her. But she threw out every one of us kids when we were teenagers. Every one. Because she needed space. She needed to move. She needed respect. She needed a fresh start. Pick a reason, any reason, but it was her need. That came first, always.

She doesn't want to be alone she says. But she won't be with anyone either. Her current husband is in West Virginia with his family, attending a memorial service for his aunt. Now I won't fool you into thinking that I am close with him. I'm not. He seems like a nice guy, but I don't really know him. But what my mother told me on the phone, while I was driving home from work, was that she was upset with him for leaving her alone. She felt that it was a really bad time for him to be going to be with his family. He shouldn't be leaving at this time since they are really short on cash. He should be working. He does, after all, my mom said, have a wife to support. He's off with family and she is all alone in this "big castle" of a house (some friends have loaned them their home while they are on a 50-day cruise). He's too attached to his family she thinks.

She doesn't get it. She doesn't get that if family really IS important, you go to the memorial. If your husband matters to you you go with him, even if you didn't really know the aunt. You go even if you think you can't afford it. Because money will always be tight, but family should be tighter. She knows that she can't figure out the relationship thing. She has said as much. But she won't listen to anyone who tries to help her. She is too invested in the idea that she is the only one who will look out for her, and she doesn't get that she is not always going to be the center of anyone's reality.

So I get frustrated with her. But I understand her too. I understand feeling drained and tired. I understand wanting to be taken care of. I want to be the center of someone's universe. I wake up every day feeling like I need to recharge somehow and I truly don't know how to get that recharge. I want to be a good wife. I want to be a good mother. I want to be able to be available to my husband and children. I do. But I am so depleted that I can barely function. I sometimes think about running away from it all. Not because I don't want to be with my husband and children, but because I know I am failing them in some very important ways and I just can't face it all the time. I think about divorce for the same reasons. I can't be what I know my husband and children need. I'm not improving with time, and I am not happier. All I am able to manage is to be.

When the highest aspiration you have is existence, you know that you are in a bad way. I'm not really sure why I feel so depleted, but I do. I wish I could find a church or a group of friends that I met with regularly that really reenergized me. The best I have managed so far is facebook. I can check in with other people's lives on facebook, I can see what is making others tick or not tick as the case may be, and I can check out of my own life for awhile. To put the narcissist away and not think about how unhappy I am. I look at flair and laugh, I play scrabble, and I quiet down the inner critic that is telling me that I should be spreading rose petals on the bed, baking cookies and hosting the block party of the century.

Meanwhile, my husband quietly waits for me to notice his depleted state. Help.

My five things:

1.) I am grateful that in this economy my husband and I have enough to care for our children
2.) I am grateful that I get a new chance each day to do it right
3.) I am grateful for facebook (really)
4.) I am grateful for my ability to learn from others
5.) I am grateful that my shift at work is 1/2 over

My bucket list:

1.) I want to be sure my sister knows I love her
2.) I want to show my family that I love them every day
3.) I want to become more ecologically responsible
4.) I want to stop being afraid to be real
5.) I want to help my husband feel recharged

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Raiders of the Lost Career

I'm forty. Forty years have passed. Forty years during which I have had the opportunity to be amazing. Forty years during which I could have obtained my Ph.D. Forty years during which I could have become the "Great American Writer" or a teacher, or volunteered to help hurricane and flood victims. Forty years during which I could have developed some talent, ANY talent. But I haven't. Approximately 1/2 of my life is over if you believe statistics, and I am still no closer to knowing what I am.

Maybe the philosophy from which I have worked thus far is all wrong. See, I have always thought that a person IS something. A person is either a philanthropist, a salesman, a fighter, or such. I thought you spent your youth unearthing, like an archaelogist, what this person is. You carefully dusted off the debris, removing what is NOT you, until, like the Parthenon, the Sphinx, or the Colisseum, the structure of who you are stood bare for others to see. Your older years were spent using what you have unearthed to benefit mankind if you were a good person, or to benefit yourself at others' expense if you were not quite so good.

I've been carefully unearthing...and removing debris...only to find...more earth, and more debris. I keep dusting off, moving rock, shovelling off the dirt, finding intricate patterns of cracks that I have thought will define who I am. No matter how careful I am though, so far, all I have unearthed leads to more cracks and less definition. Maybe in the end I will hit the bottom and it will all just be so much dry and useless dirt.

Then I find myself thinking of that fictional, though famous archaeologist, Indiana Jones. This may be stretching it for some, but I always think of Indy. If you watched the series, The Young Indiana Jones, you learned that he was fascinated with archaelogy as a boy. So he always knew what he was.

But now I'm thinking of Indy as Harrison Ford. Often Harrison would be teaching an archaeology class at the university, minding his own business, just a professor trying to make a living, when he would be accosted by the Nazis, or someone connected to his past, and he would be off on this exciting adventure. Indy didn't seek adventure, IT sought him. He frequently found himself thrust into the thick of things, having to live by his wits and use the resources available to him at the moment.

He doesn't think about his 401k. He doesn't worry that his job will be unavailable when he returns. The state of the economy doesn't worry him. So long as he has his trusty hat and bullwhip, Indy is as right as rain. He can face ancient Incan tribes, he can decipher the secrets of the dead when others who have tried for centuries have not, he can cope with interdimensional beings, and even manage to handle, ugh, snakes, even though he professes a hatred for them. He doesn't doubt his significance in his world. Anything can be handled with an ancient scroll, a bullwhip or gun, his hat cocked to a rakish angle and that charming smile.

I'd love to handle life that way, but I have to take the dog out to his potty spot and get my daughter ready for school. (da, da da da da da) The bill collectors will be threatening our (gasp!) credit score yet again today and my son wants to know why he cannot go out in the snow in bare feet. I have to stop by Home Depot (da da da daaaaah, dant da da) and get a no-kill squirrel trap for our furry friend in our basement. I have to run to the store for toilet paper(Dant da da daaaaah, dant da daaah daaah da da) and scrub the smutz out of the glassware that for some unknown reason my dishwasher will not clean. (Dant da daah dah, da daahh dah dant dah da da da)

I have a nice life. I don't fool myself into thinking otherwise. I have a loving husband who is honest, works hard and retains his integrity when many around him do not, I have lovely children who are creative, funny and smart, and my basic needs are met. I have a nice home, friendly neighbors, and furry, lovable pets. I have enough freedom that I can be with my children and not hear second-hand about others raising them. I have some friends.

So why am I dissatisfied? Why do I feel this whistling, empty space inside? Why do I feel always like there is a space that no one can touch, one that is lonely, unhappy and unreachable? I know all the reasons to feel positive. I have a list that I keep, a running list in fact, of reasons that I should (and do) feel grateful. That is partly in truth, to try to keep me focused on the good things in life.

Unfortunately I seem to have a knack for seeing the worst. Food never tastes as good as I had hoped it would. Jokes aren't the really funny kind that make you squirt milk out your nose. I don't remember the last time I laughed that hard...if I have EVER laughed that hard. Everything just falls short. Why is that? Is there something in me that is just incapable of experiencing anything fully? The last truly poignant emotion I remember having was the birth of my firstborn son, Thomas. I felt unfettered joy when he was born. I felt like I couldn't love something more, my relationship with my husband couldn't be in a better place, and I could handle anything that came my way. Then SLAM! The guillotine sliced my heart in two. It hasn't been the same before or since. I'm not sure I can put my heart out there again.

I don't want to be cynical, but it's so hard to see the ass-hats rule and not get cynical. For those of you who do not know what an ass-hat is, an ass-hat is someone you must work for who is less than qualified, is willing to take the credit for your work, and will throw you under the proverbial bus at the first opportunity. They have little or no integrity, often have direct control over your financial security and have exactly zero interest in helping you get ahead. Often they have a vested interest in insuring that you DO NOT get ahead, lest they be forced to find someone else who can somewhat competently fill your position. (See the Dilbert comic strip if you don't know what I mean.)

Oddly enough, I do not currently work for an ass-hat. My supervisor is actually a decent person. She is straightforward, direct and compassionate. She will roll up her sleeves and do the hard work necessary to get the job done. She doesn't seem to play games, and will let you know if you are doing things that are wrong. But....

But what you say? paycheck isn't what secures financial stability for us. It never has been. Since I have never been able to settle on what exactly I am, my career is rather checkered. For reasons I won't belabor here, our family has not been able to rely on my income. That is a discussion for another time, that I will perhaps share with you some day. Most likely.

For now, suffice it to say that my young family could not survive on my income. My husband is the breadwinner. He is the more stable person between the two of us. He is dependable, he is hard-working. He is smart. He understands the nuances of his job, gets along well with others, and knows how to accomplish his goals when he is given a task. He definitely will put his nose to the grindstone and keep it there until the job is done and done right. He was at work a couple of weeks ago in spite of the fact that he was throwing up and had diarrhea.

But he works for an ass-hat. I won't tell you where he works in case someone from there reads this, but his manager is an ass-hat. Steve hasn't said that. He wouldn't. He's a nice guy. He also knows not to say anything that you wouldn't want to say directly to a person's face. So he hasn't said this person is an ass-hat. Not even to me. I am saying it though.

Now why am I saying this? You ask. Let me tell you. At the beginning of the month Steve was supposed to go away on business. He was going to be away for a week. He wasn't thrilled, but he was planning to go as it was part of his job. I talked about joining him out there if I could get someone to watch the kids, but the prices for flights were more than we could afford at this time. Well, he has been struggling with a health problem that he thought was minor at first, but it began to become a bit more troublesome. I won't go in to detail in the interest of preserving his privacy. But the long and short of it was that his doctor advised him not to go away. She provided him with a note explaining that she was recommending that he not take his business trip.

Since his doctor was recommending this course of action, Steve decided to follow her advice and brought his note to his manager. She promptly told him that she did not want any further details and that he was to direct any futher communication pertaining to his health to human resources. Not one time did she ask if he was going to be okay. She showed no concern for his well-being. Only upset at having her "business decisions" "interfered with."

This, though disappointing, would not really be such an issue, if that was all there were to this ass-hat's actions. Steve had turned his medical note into his manager on a Monday. TWICE that day she decided to have him into her office and let him know that she was unhappy with his performance. She claims that her boss was unhappy as well, and that his work had been sub-par as of late. This came as a complete shock to my husband since the previous Friday he had had his review and was told that his work was top-notch and that they were very happy with the quality and quantity of what he was doing.

In addition to this, and prior to this, my husband found out "accidentally" that the databases that he had been using to produce the reports that his manager asked for on a regular basis were no longer available to him. He has been told he is a "security risk" for some unknown reason. He has been chewed out at least twice for failing to produce the reports his manager requires. He cannot produce these reports until he has the data that he can no longer access because he is considered a "security risk."

And that is why his manager is an ass hat. Just to summarize: 1.) said ass hat claims he is a security risk. She has never discussed this as an issue with him directly. Never warned him that he would be losing access to the databases he needs to do his job well. He found out by accident that he was not going to have database access. 2.) ass-hat showed no concern for him as a human being, only expressed being inconvenienced by his health problems and the potential impact they may have on "business decisions" whatever that means, 3.) ass-hat apparently cannot decide if he is doing a terrific job or a terrible one...apparently too many words starting with "t" on the review forms.

The worst part? I can do nothing. This ass-hat has my family's future in her bumbling hands and I cannot speak up to protect my family. I cannot demand that she answer for her actions. I will not get an accounting of her actions. She is not accountable to me. Like so many of the villains Indiana Jones faces during his adventures, this ass-hat does not feel any responsibility for the lives she is affecting.

Where's a bullwhip when you need one? How can I perform the daring rescue without one? I cannot swing gracefully through the corporate jungle without it. I do not have my trusty hat. It seems I have brought a knife to a gun fight. The monkeys in the company trees will follow me and chatter their monkey-language, but none will demand a reckoning. They're happy to be thrown a random piece of fruit from the vine, even if it's a rare piece. More than likely they would be just as happy to watch me fall and be consumed.

My five things:
1.) I am grateful that we have enough of what we need
2.) I am grateful that my husband is honest and has integrity, even when others don't.
3.) I am grateful that my boss is NOT an ass hat
4.) I am grateful that I do not have to deal with my husband's boss who IS an ass hat
5.) I am grateful that I am not a corporate monkey

My bucket list:

1.) I want to find a way to reach the corporate sector and change the climate/culture of monkeys pushing buttons (more on that another time)
2.) I want to help an ass-hat realize that they are and help them to change
3.) I want to change anything about myself that would be ass-hattish
4.) I want my children to refuse to become ass hats
5.) I want to enjoy life in spite of the ass hats.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Flight of the Butterfly

Hey everyone. I'm having a relatively up day. I managed to clean both bathrooms, mop my kitchen floor and do some laundry. That was in addition to the four hour telecommuting shift I did and the drive to work for a quarterly update from the CEO/President of our hospital. Oh yeah...and I managed to run the dishwasher AND get a shower.

But I'm not here to talk about that. I'm here to talk about the magic of being a three year old boy. I'm here to talk about butterflies, karate and cuddling. These are all things that my three year old, Daniel is very invested in. The karate class is new. He already is taking Music Together - a music movement class. I'm still not 100% positive that he likes it, but we're trying it. But I'm fairly certain he will like karate. He has been very interested ever since his big brother has been doing it and the teacher, Julie, is great. Originally she said he had to be four before he could sign up, but last week she told me that he could sign up even though he is only three and a half. She has been letting him come into the class to do the obstacle course at the end of Christopher's class and she says that he is physically ready. I'm not sure he's emotionally ready for what is involved (focus, following directions, meditating), but we will see. He is so excited about trying it and I am hoping it will help him direct some of his energy. He is a very physical little guy. He was so thrilled when Julie gave him his first ghi. When we got home he put it right away when asked. It's in his shirt drawer, waiting to be removed from the package.

And cuddly! Is this boy ever! He loves to cuddle with me these days. I am eating that up with a spoon. He wakes up in the morning and the first thing he wants to do is cuddle. I am usually (lately) laying on the couch after having said goodbye to my daughter for the day when he wakes up. He comes over to me and climbs right on top and squiggles his way under the blanket with me and we watch SpongeBob. I will miss this when he is older and doesn't want to cuddle with me. Christopher doesn't want his friends to see him kissing or hugging me so we sneak it in right before the bus comes...sigh. He's five. I respect his wishes, but it does hurt. To see that so soon I am pushed to the background. It's where I belong as he ventures out into the world, but for now I much prefer the unconscious cuddliness of a three year old.

The cuddliness is good. Daniel is so open and affectionate with me. I hope that what is coming doesn't inhibit it. What is coming you ask? Well...I'll tell you. Death. Death is coming. Not my death or even his. But the death of his butterflies. That is looming on the horizon and I am hoping to help him navigate this one without too much difficulty. See, for Christmas, we ordered a butterfly habitat for him. He was so thrilled to get it. I figured, since we are unable to afford to keep him in his preschool, we would do some projects at home to make up for it. So we signed up for a music class and we got the butterfly habitat. I was thinking we could wait until the end of the winter and get the caterpillars, and then release them into our garden in the spring. It would be a nice way to segue into the garden project. We could talk about how many living things help our garden. We could talk about how butterflies help to pollinate flowers. It was going to be so great. The package said it took 6-8 weeks to receive the caterpillars once they were ordered, so, in January I ordered them, figuring that we wouldn't receive them until the end of February beginning of March.

Well...we received them three days after I ordered them. Five caterpillars which Daniel named...Turner, Grace, John, Fred and Scotty. They came in their cup with a lid and the food was already in the cup. We watched only four of the caterpillars grow as one died for some unknown reason. We watched the cup fill with "frass," (the scientific word for caterpillar poop) and took pictures of the caterpillars. We took notes and made comments on how they were growing and Daniel said, "They are my pets," when he saw the cocoons. He was captivated by those brown, dried-looking things.

When Steve arrived home from work three nights ago, he went into the dining room for something and noticed that three of the caterpillars had emerged from their cocoons. Daniel was enchanted. He watched them flutter their wings, trying to pump them up for flight. He said, "Mommy, aren't they beautiful? They are my pets and I will never let them go anywhere without me." He watched and helped as we slipped sliced oranges into their habitat (cage). We talked about how butteflies taste with their feet and he laughed (they really do). He was enrapt. He was smiling and happy as he ate his dinner. He asks every meal if we can look at them. He talks about how we can't let them loose in the house or Joey (our cat) or Brady (our dog) might eat them. And he likes the fact that they are HIS butterflies. It's a source of pride.

Then Christopher lowered the boom. "Mom, when are we going to release them?" Do we have to have that discussion now? Can't we just let Daniel enjoy what he has? See, we can't release them. It's only February 5th and it's been averaging about 20 degrees farenheight outside. I had planned for them to be butterflies in March or April. But they are butterflies in February.

I don't know if you know this, but butterflies only live for about two weeks. So they will have to live out their existence in captivity, never really having the chance to fly as nature intended. I'm actually kind of sad about this, but that is the way it is. a few more days I will be consoling my son, I am sure, over the death of his butterflies. He will be learning firsthand about death. This was not a lesson I had intended on teaching him...but he will find out that things are born, things grow and things die. All living things eventually die. I have read how caring for animals helps children to process the idea of death so that when loved ones, human loved ones, die, they are able to cope.

But Daniel is three. I wasn't really intending to force him to face this reality so soon. But face it he will. I will not hide them from him. I will not lie and tell him that they flew away. Tempting as this may be. I will probably give him a chance to say goodbye to his butterflies, to understand that their bodies will stop working and that they will return to the earth. Maybe he will want to bury them. I don't know.

Whatever he chooses, I hope that he will understand that it was still good to love them. To appreciate the beauty of these creatures even though to love them means to suffer loss as well. I hope that he will leave his heart open to loving another creature so unreservedly. So unabashedly. So totally unselfconsciously.

As I sit here thinking about it, perhaps these butterflies will get to fly freely. It may not be the flight that they were designed for, or even the flights that they might wish for, but these butterflies will fly freer and higher in Daniel's heart than anyone could ever imagine. What could be higher and freer than a three-year-old's imagination?

Before I sign off, here are my five things:
1.) I am grateful that three year olds like to cuddle...especially MY three year old
2.) I am grateful that our butterflies are still living
3.) I am grateful for every smile my children share with me
4.) I am grateful for my job
5.) I am grateful for the cuddle time with my five year old...even if it's got to be snuck in before the bus arrives.

And my bucket list for tonight:

1.) Before I die I hope my children learn how to keep their hearts open in spite of loss
2.) Before I die I hope to teach them love is worth it even if it hurts sometimes
3.) Before I die I hope to teach my children they are worth any pain I may endure
4.) Before I die I hope to express to my husband exactly how much he means to me
5.) Before I die I hope someone I know regrets closing their heart off to love

Monday, February 2, 2009

I'm Baaaackkkk!

Here I am again. It's 2am. I should be sleeping but I can't. I worked this past weekend and when I work (overnight shift) it usually screws me up with my sleep patterns. I won't be back to normal for a few days. So here I am. If you're here at the same hour as me, I'm sorry. I hope you aren't being beat by insomnia, or pains, or worries. Maybe my posting can serve as a sedative...heheh.

So...what's on my mind tonight? Something I heard this morning as I was getting ready to leave work. There was this radio program on overhead at the hospital (they pipe in music all night and the radio station switches to talk show format in the morning on Sundays) where they were talking to some medical experts of some kind. I don't remember precisely what their specialties were, but they were studying something or other at Harvard Medical School.

They had "discovered" a new psychological disorder and were sharing this with the world - at least the world that was listening to that station at 6:30am on a Sunday. This new disorder that they had "discovered" was called IED...which stands for "Impulsive explosive disorder" or something like that. The characteristics of this new disorder included that the person "flew off the handle" frequently and had "incidences of temper."

When did losing your temper become a disorder? I find this incredible. When I was growing up it was simply called "being angry." My husband tells me about how as a kid if his mom was angry you stayed out of her way. Would that be considered a "treatment?" So as a child my husband instinctually knew how to treat his mother's "disorder?"

I think that the true disorder is that we think of being angry as a disorder. Something that needs to be treated. Everyone tries so hard to be politically correct. They want to turn the other cheek, to be kind and patient and understanding. In polite society we don't get angry. We get passive-aggressive. We "forget" things. We develop other disorders to avoid admitting we are angry.

I am currently reading a book called "Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls." The author is a clinical psychologist who has treated hundreds of adolescent girls and their families for various problems. In her book she talks about how 8 million girls in the United States suffer from anorexia. That's one of every five girls. Anorexia is a disorder that is a metaphor for what young girls and women cope with when they face a western culture that has very unhealthy views of what a woman should be. Anorexia is "...a young woman's statement that she will become what the culture asks of its women, which is that they be thin and nonthreatening."(p.175, "Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls)

Both men and women avoid admitting to many anger issues by turning to alcohol, drugs, extremeisms, and suicide. A professor I had in college spoke of depression as anger turned inward. Why must we turn anger anywhere other than where it should be directed? Why is it so unsafe to express anger?

I was planning to explore this topic in my writing, and will at another time, but my son just appeared and needs my attention. Lest I leave him with any issues that would cause him to develop IED, I am going to sign off and tend to his needs. I will write more on this later.

Here are my five things:

1.) I am grateful for my sister-in-law who wrote me a beautiful note on facebook the other day. It lifted my spirits.
2.) I am grateful for my son's love
3.) I am grateful for good books that make you think
4.) I am grateful that I am working out my own anger issues
5.) I am grateful that we are half way through the winter

My bucket list:

1.) Before I die I want to "talk someone down from the ledge."
2.) Before I die I want to stop feeling angry all the time
3.) Before I die I want to experience unfettered and unpunished joy
4.) Before I die I want to cause someone else to feel unfettered and unpunished joy
5.) Before I die I want to give someone refuge

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Boo hoo...

So here I am again. Feeling low. I don't know if I feel depressed when I am tired, or sick or if I feel tired and sick when I am depressed. But right now, I feel like I could be okay with not being here. I am not doing anything that well anyway. I suck as a mother. I suck as a friend. I suck as an employee. I just suck.

And I hate listening to myself when I feel this way. I was looking at friends' blogs, postings on facebook and other sources I usually look to in order to feel inspired. What I felt today was dumb. And plain. And ignorant. And uneducated. I don't have anything useful to add to the worldwide conversation.

A friend of mine has this amazing post about the post-Obama world. She talks about being leery of "drinking the kool aid." She has all this information about what she is looking for in a political leader and all this information about how she is not putting all her eggs into one proverbial basket. I haven't written anything particularly insightful like that. I'm just a schlub.

And I have come to the realization that probably, that is all I ever will be. I used to have all these amazing ideas and plans. I used to think I would make a unique mark on the world and that I would do something wonderful to help others. But I'm going to be forty in nine days and I am not even close to doing anything remotely wonderful.

I wish now that I had no aspirations of being anything other than a schlub. I wish I didn't know that there was more than being a schlub. Then I wouldn't be dissatisfied. But I am. I feel like I failed myself and whatever potential I may have had at one time. I just don't have the stuff to make a mark. I'm just another schlub that will fade into anonymity eventually. How long it takes to fade is all we are waiting for now. Another year? Five? Ten? Twenty? Ugh.

The only reason I haven't taken steps to shorten the fade into oblivion is because I have children. I would never do that to them. They need to know that they are special, beautiful, exciting and interesting people who have something to offer. How would they ever believe that if their own mother abandoned them? I couldn't do that to them. So...I continue to schlep after day...knowing that I will never really have it together. They may wind up hating me for my shortcomings. But they will have me to hate. Maybe that is all I am here for. To be eventually hated.

Will I be strong enough to be a target as my children get older and more sophisticated in their ability to make me their target? I'm not (as I'm sure you've guessed) a very secure person. That wouldn't matter in the big scheme of things but I worry that I won't be a good parent because of my insecurity. I really want to be the parent my children need. I don't know if I am up to the task though. I want them to grow up strong and confident. I want them to have a good self-esteem. I want them to know that they are good people. They won't become those self-assured, good people if their mother doesn't provide them with the security that they need. And I can't provide that security if I don't have it to provide, can I?

So am I going to just live to see how much of a failure as a parent I am? I'll see my children go through whatever pain they are to experience because of my shortcomings, and then fade into anonymity?

Boy, I'm in a positive frame of mind tonight, eh? I bet you are just soooo glad that you read this. Just be glad that I didn't go on longer. I whine, but I know when to shut up. I hope. I would write more, but I fear it would interfere with others' privacy. So I will just keep things to myself.

Here are my five things to be grateful for:
1.) I am grateful that no one reads this really... they would see what a whiney baby I am
2.) I am grateful that my kids have a good dad - he'll make up for my shortcomings
3.) I am grateful that I can still see that I have responsibilities...that I won't bail on.
4.) I am grateful that there are breaks in the clouds...sometimes I see more than rain.
5.) I am grateful that there is hope

My bucket list:
1.) I want to let my younger brother know how important he is to me
2.) I want to go to New Zealand
3.) I want to know what God wants of me
4.) I want to take a cooking class
5.) I want my mother-in law and father-in-law to know how much I love them