Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Honeybunch and Stinkbug (warning** contents slightly mushy)

Sacrifice, bah. I don't like that word. Many people use it to denote a grand gesture of giving something up for someone/something else. To me, that word means giving up something that you don't want to for someone else, but you do it anyway (usually for an ulterior motive). I especially don't like the word being used in terms of seems somehow demeaning to the child, usually used in a way to make the child feel like they owe their parents something besides respect. My "sacrifice" has been my body. Anyone who has had children understands the physical toll it takes on a woman to carry and have a baby. But my "sacrifice" actually started several years before my girls were even a twinkle in my eye.

It all started on an ordinary day four days before my 20th birthday. I was working a typical crappy job like most kids my age at a bookstore, as a barista in the coffee shop. Everyday I was required to go to the stock room and gather the necessary supplies to replenish the coffee shop and restock. It may seem pathetic that I remember this in such detail, but on that ordinary day I had gone to the back to retrieve more raspberry flavor syrup and some more pump chocolate.  The raspberry syrup was buried under two other syrup boxes, so I moved them out of the way and boodled over to retrieve the two stinkin' bottles I needed. This is when I heard a THUNK in my back, and then felt the pain, with an intensity I didn't that my body was capable of. Being a naive girl, I had no clue there was such a thing as worker's compensation, so I just scooted to the office and told them I had to leave. I spent the next two days sitting on a heating pad and taking ibuprofen and pain pills, hoping it would all go away. It didn't and I had to quit my job (I had been ready to do that for a while, anyway). After healing up for a couple weeks, I went to work for a mom & pop bookstore, that I still miss sometimes.  I didn't realize until two years ago that I hadn't just pulled something, but that I actually had a herniated disc. Considering that I didn't have health insurance at the time (which is why I never went to the ER), it comes as no surprise that I had no clue. All because of two stupid syrup bottles.

For the purpose of not having to call my children by oldest/youngest, let's just call them Honeybunch (the oldest) and Stinkbug (youngest) from here on out. Moving on, let's skip to December 2008. At this point, I had been married for a little over a year, had a steady office job, and Honeybunch was one month old. Over the years I had learned how to cope with this back injury and thought it was mostly gone, except for days that I used my back a lot. Having just had a c-section, I had absolutely no usable core muscles, but in my rush to prove that I was a superhero, I insisted on trying to care for Honeybunch as much as I could without assistance. What a dumb idea, to ignore the advice of the doctor to take it easy. One morning she woke up for her typical reasons...needing a fresh butt, some liquid refreshment, and some rocking and I got up with her. Just like always, I opted to change her butt first and put her on the changing stand. As I (once again) boodled over to do something mundane, I heard the THUNK again. After several months of wait-and-see and doctor visits, I finally got the MRI I needed to confirm that my lower back is in fact, screwed. Yeah, that second thunk exacerbated the original injury and has never quite been the same. Over the past two years, I've had several flare-ups, but I've *powered through it, knowing it's just a permanent part of my life now. As I write this blog entry, I am currently in the middle of a flare-up, just trying to take it easy. All because of a dirty diaper.

My husband and I like to talk sometimes about what we would do if we could go back in time and change some things. This is not to be mistaken for regret so much as wondering what things would be like if we made small changes. Kind of like the "What If machine" on Futurama. There have definitely been times that I've wished I could go back and tell myself not to get the syrup, just let the next shift get it. Or let my husband change Honeybunch's butt that morning, but those decisions would come with consequences that would probably (over time) lead me to a very different life. Perhaps I wouldn't have quit that job and the timing of my next jobs, if I ever snagged them, would have been off. Then I wouldn't have had the job that I did when I met my husband, which was crucial to the timing of our relationship...he was a customer at the store I worked at. If we hadn't met, I would never have my Honeybunch and my Stinkbug. And if I hadn't re-injured my back in 2008, there's no telling how different things would be now, just for not having gone to all those orthopedist appointments and such. Stinkbug might not even exist if I hadn't changed that butt two years before!

Besides my back, there's also the humongous change I've made in terms of my personal sense of more makeup from the counter, $300 clothing excursions, maintained hairdo. Or weekends shooting pool and having drinks till the buttcrack of dawn. No more spontaneous day trips, sleeping in til obscene hours of the afternoon, or reading a whole book on a rainy day. Quiet dinner with my husband? What's that? Watching what I want on TV? Only after everyone's in bed. Having anything resembling privacy in the bathroom has ceased to exist. The list goes on forever. Parenting is hard, and you do lose a lot of the little freedoms you took for granted when you were younger. However, most of the things you lose were never really that important to begin with. After all, looking nice 24/7 is what single women do to attract a mate, as well as the going out (which leads to the sleeping in). Reading all day? Although one of my favorite past times, it's something I don't miss as much as I thought I would, since I have people in my life to share the rainy days with now.

Although parents give up a lot for the sake of their children, I would hope that most don't regret it. After all, I get the opportunity to help change the world just by the fact of having my babies. This isn't to say that I, as a human being, have ceased to have needs and interests. Of course I still recognize myself as having value separately from what I offer my husband and children. But there is a little thrill in realizing that a child is pure potential and as a parent, you can hopefully raise them in a way that influences them to be amazing people and go on to do great things. We all have heard the "you never know if that kid will cure cancer" thing, but I'm not even worried about that. If I can just raise my girls to be decent individuals with respect for themselves and other people and their earth, they will make their own positive mark by the fact of their own existence. If my husband and I can achieve that, all of the so-called sacrifices will seem like a drop in the bucket. Besides, I'm not sure if there's anything I wouldn't do for my girls...they bring me so much joy, I'm just glad to have them in my life.

* By powering through, I mean laying around feeling sorry for myself, eating hot pockets so I don't have to cook, drinking coffee, and watching Ghost Whisperer because I can't tolerate anything loud/bright with my nerves being shot. Yeah, I'm pretty much a wuss for pain and discomfort and tend to get whiny. I'm...just bein' honest. (Hey ya!) ::end randomness::  

Monday, September 12, 2011

Longest Delayed Reaction Ever.

I've known for a substantial chunk of my life that I tend to have a delayed reaction to overwhelming emotional events, but have never known any other way to cope. When the 9/11 attacks happened, I was 17 years old and living the typical jaded, brooding life of a teenager (I had my own tribulations in my personal life that I was dealing with at the time). I had left second period and took an extra couple minutes between classes in the bathroom to attempt to combat a particularly bad hair day and was slightly late to class. When I walked into the room the tension was palpable, and the whole class was ignoring our teacher, who was trying desperately to get everyone to quit talking. I had no idea what was going on and thought that maybe some bad classroom-related news had been delivered. Being the distracted person that I am, I pulled out my book and notebook and pen and looked around, waiting on everyone to hush and start the lesson. Then the whole class started a mutiny to turn on the TV in the room and that was when I realized something was wrong. Of course some of my classmates saw that I was obviously out of the loop and started in with the "didn't you hear?" and "there's going to be a draft!" When I was informed that the WTC had been hit by an airplane, I didn't believe it and thought that a rumor mill had started up at the school to freak everyone out. You know there are always those people who like to start an outrageous rumor, just to see how quickly they can get it to spread and frankly, mess with people. Then I looked up at the TV and realized that it definitely was not a joke or a ploy to get the student body's drawers in a wad. As I was watching, my pen rolled off the desk and  I bent over to pick it up and while looking down heard the whole class gasp in unison. By the time I looked up, the second plane had hit, but I missed the entire thing and the news was not doing instant replay, so I had to ask what happened while everyone shushed me so they could watch the news. It was so frustrating, feeling so out of the loop in the midst of such a profound attack on not just our physical country, but our sense of security as Americans. Due to a rather busy schedule, I didn't have the opportunity to watch the news in the following weeks and never really heard all of the story, so my mind only registered the obvious feelings- fear of war and subsequent attacks, disbelief that this could happen on American soil, shock that the terrorism plot got as far as it did (I was wondering if our intelligence community had decided to take a vacation), and the vague realization of how many people must have lost their lives. There was so much going on in my life at the time, I didn't have the time or energy to devote to letting it all sink in and really "feeling out" the event that had occurred.

All of these years, 9/11 has been an event in the back of my mind that I acknowledge happened, but didn't personally affect me and thusly was put into storage in my brain, to be brought back out at a later date. Another reason it was hard for me to connect with what had happened was having to be submitted to the barrage of "We will never forget" bumper stickers, billboards, bus ads, magazine covers, and rally cries of politicians on both sides using this sentiment to try to gain voter sympathies and in my mind, it was absolutely revolting. How disgusting, to take advantage of others' loss for political and/or financial gain. This turned me off from wanting to know more and I moved on. Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of this tragedy, and being an adult now, I felt it was time to finally open myself to what had happened, now that I am more mature and emotionally capable of understanding and dealing with the magnitude of what happened. Like many others, I watched a couple of the tribute shows, especially the ones featuring firsthand footage and old news broadcasts, so I could basically "catch up" on what I had missed ten years ago. For the very first time, I watched footage of an old event and it felt brand new. Suddenly it felt like discovering a wound that I didn't know was there until the scab was ripped off. Even though it was sad listening to the stories of the of the people who had lost loved ones that day, that wasn't what struck me. It was watching the structures crumble and the ensuing dust cloud (which to me looked like a pyroclastic flow) and watching the reaction of the people seeing it happen on the news in Times Square that made my head spin. That was the first time I truly felt the immense sadness and loss of the attack. For the very first time, I cried about it and felt ridiculous at having taken so long to experience these emotions. Maybe it's because I'm an adult now with a family of my own that I can empathize with those who lost their loved ones. When I was younger, I couldn't even conceive of loving someone that much and the possibility that they would be taken from me someday. There's also the fact that to this day, I have never lost anyone that I'm close to, and all of the people I care about are still in my life. Never having dealt with loss, maybe it just didn't affect me as much. Now that I have children, my job as a parent is to constantly be on alert to things that could harm them, whether it's a tiny toy they could choke on, touching the surfaces at the doctor's office, smarmy looking strangers, or possible emotional traumas from well-intentioned family members. Being on the alert is part and parcel to recognizing that there is always the possibility of losing the people I love most in my life and that I must do everything in my power to ensure that that does not happen. I believe that this aspect of adult life has very much-so impacted my faculty for empathy and my value for human life. Even though it may have taken ten years for me to register what happened, I guess it's better late than never.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Store.

My best friend and I were talking on the phone one night about our kidlets and the topic of "The Store" came up. I don't know about other parts of the country, but in the south The Store refers to any number of places, including the grocery store, walmart, target, the nearest convenience store, dollar tree, dollar general, you name it. In our house The Store is usually walmart or bi-lo (alas, we moved last fall and do not have a target nearby anymore) and as far as my child knows, The Store is mainly for diapers, wipes, formula, baby food, and steak. Yes, my almost three year old has an obsession with wanting to eat steak every night. *Filet to be exact...I guess she ate enough of it in utero to develop a taste for it. <end rabbit trail>

So back to The Store, this is a place that I try to never go to without Drew if we have to bring children. There are a few reasons for this and the trip to town for one item yesterday is a good example. Here is a typical trip to the store without daddy:

After getting all of us ready, I lug the car seat filled with baby, **the black hole purse, and the toddler out to the car. Where I see that a family member put the baby's base in the wrong seat, so I am going to be eating the dashboard because I have confusingly long legs and am too lazy to switch the seats around. After finaggling my seat the best I can and sucking in my gut the whole way to The Store, we finally arrive at our destination and I swipe the 'new and expectant parents' space. Mwhat? I'm still new-ish! This is when it all started to go downhill. I had already given my normal little speech to the toddler about how she had to sit in the buggy because daddy wasn't there to chase her and I had to carry the baby and couldn't run, either. I get out of the car and figure out how to use the baby backpack (well, gut pack) and put the baby in. Poor little thing looks like a sad little growth dangling from my belly, totally not excited about the carrier. Then around to the other side to get the toddler out. The toddler seems okay with holding my hand in the parking lot and even open to the idea of the buggy until she actually sees the buggies. Suddenly I have a shrieking child trying to run off while I try to chase her down, poor little baby bouncing around and all. Finally manage to grab her fast enough to get her in the seat, after two different women with newborns looked at me like I MUST be a terrible mother, not being able to juggle just two little girls. One of them even said, "do you need help?"and it was not in that kind stranger way. It was the "would you like some help finding a daycare for your brat so I don't have to hear it" kind of way. Yeah, you just wait til your sweet, soft, sleeping little baby comes to life around 18 months and then we'll talk. All of this just to get a pound of ground beef to put in the chili we were having for supper. When Drew and I went to The Store last weekend I forgot to buy the beef but said "that's okay! I'll just take the girls and get the  meat one day this week, no big deal. One item shouldn't be too bad." I regretted the idea the moment I finished my sentence. After putting the beef in the buggy I felt so absurd for going through all of the fuss and hassle just for one item, so I decided to buy two more items so I don't feel like a moron for buying just one thing on this trip. My mistake was thinking that yogurt would be a quick stop. Oh no, the toddler decides to point to every single flavor and as soon as I put it in the buggy she screams Nooooooooo! Tha otha one! Finally I give up and grab two random flavors and we head to the front to pay, toddler screaming all the way "not these ones!!!!" And of course, having to get the girls back into the car and get us home and into the house.  Where I discovered that both of them had pooped at some point during the trip and were getting diaper rash (even though we were only gone for 30 minutes)...because they both inherited their father's sensitive skin. Geesh.

This was a relatively uneventful shopping trip, compared to normal (walmart). This is why, if you notice, you very rarely see any children between the ages of  1 and 4 at The Store. Every once in a while you might see it, but you'll notice the parents almost always look like they want to pull their hair out and might possibly pull yours too if you get too close. There's also the fact that it never fails that the moment you think you can get away with a skanky day (no time to shower or put on make up, just do the ponytail, ***comfy pants, and nearest clean shirt and deodorant, if you're lucky enough to remember), you see the last person in the world you want to see at that time. An ex, or an old classmate who is perfectly groomed and handling her brood of children like Mary freakin' Poppins, or a previous co-worker you never really liked but always wants to chit chat with you. Whyyy? All of the images of serene, happy mothers you see in magazines and on TV build childless women up for the non-existent life of constant bliss and order with their future children and then we find out what it's like for real. Messy, unnerving, stressful, rewarding, joyful, hilarious, awe-inspiring. Motherhood is the hardest thing I've ever done, but has definitely been the best decision I ever made.

* my filet and shrimp cravings threatened to bankrupt us when I was pregnant, but it was all I could really stomach besides salad, ice cream, and Cheerwine.

** I've always enjoyed having a large purse, but it became a necessity after children. I (sort of) cleaned it out the other day and found an unopened can of Coke, a broken paci, 8 grocery lists, a child's toothbrush, and mylecon. Things disappear in my purse.

*** You know the ones, with the missing button, the frayed leg holes at the bottom, and the bleach stain. Or my personal favorite, the "buffet pants". These are old stretchy maternity pants that I've willed into still fitting and have a hole in the leg but I continue to wear anyway. Perfect for a trip to a buffet or Thanksgiving, for said stretchiness.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday, TODDLERS!

I was thinking about how different the daily routine is with my almost 3 year old as compared to my 6 month old and realized something. Even though the little booger's a handful and I (sometimes) want to pull my hair out, in ways it's easier than having a baby. So I thought I would narrow it down to the top ten, in no particular order.

10.  I can hand her a sandwich or a bowl of cereal and she eats it. By herself. This means I can actually eat breakfast every morning when I get up instead of 90 minutes later.

9.    Not a big deal if I have to leave the room for a minute to grab a coke or make a pit stop...she's usually right where I left her, playing quietly when I get back.

8.  She can completely dress herself. I can put an entire outfit (socks, underwear, and shoes included) on the sofa and start getting ready and by the time I get my mascara on, she's fully dressed and in the bathroom watching me finish getting ready.

7.  Interest in potty training. Nuff said.

6.  Someone to converse with. Now that my oldest has amassed an impressive vocabulary, we can have actual conversations. They may be on the two year old's level of interest, but there are some days where the convo is a little abstract, and I love it.

5.  I can get her input on what to cook for dinner. It might seem ridiculous at first, but how much  easier is it to deal with supper time when the child is calm, happy, and eager to eat what you've cooked? Fortunately, she'll eat a lot of things most kids wouldn't, so it's not really a compromise to cook what she wants. Of course this isn't everyday, but it actually helps me and Drew on those days we can't figure out what to eat.

4. As she gets closer to 3, she's starting to understand moreso the concept of having to stay in the buggy at the store, or not run off when I get her out of the carseat. Being able to tell her where to go or not go and she does it (about 3/4 of the time) has made life so much easier. Now I can take both kids to the store by myself, because the oldest will actually ride in the buggy with the baby and let me get the shopping done.

3.  Llama, Llama, Mad at Mama. Chloe's favorite book right now, for good reason. It's about a little toddler llama that doesn't want to go to the store but Mama Llama eventually makes it better. Really cute, and something she likes for me to read to her. Getting to bond over books with my child is something I love.

2.  Getting to see the gears turn in her head when she learns how to do something new. It's absolutely fascinating watching the way she comes to conclusions when we're talking and seeing exactly what her little brain is capable of. It blows my mind, the things she's capable of understanding that we say.

1.  She can tell me how she feels. If she physically doesn't feel good, she can tell me what's wrong and we can fix it more quickly.  Also, when she's upset and starting the meltdown, sometimes I can get her to calm down enough to tell me in her best way why she's upset. Most times it's something simple like wanting to wear a different pair of shoes or drink out of a different sippy, but it still makes life easier.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Bring on the Sweet Tea!

A lesser-known fact about me: I have a weird obsession with disaster/end of the world movies. My fascination has a lot less to do with the special effects and much more to do with the broader message: SURVIVAL. When I watch these movies (28 Days Later is my favorite movie) I get so much more caught up in the plot than other genres because as I'm watching the characters make multiple impossible life-or-death decisions, I like to think, "What would I do? Would I be able to make the best decision in a split second?". It mostly boils down to me questioning my ability/being fit to survive. Maybe it's a primal urge to continually plot the best way to survive every disaster, maybe I just have a little too much paranoia for my own good. Sometimes I even fancy that I would have made a good soldier/military leader because of my amazing skills at seeing a situation for what it is and knowing what to do. There's even a zombie invasion plan (in humor) between my husband and I! So I watch the movies and feel all satisfied at the end that yes, indeed, I could somehow survive a zombie invasion/ plague/ deep impact/ sinking ship/ unrealistic severe and varied weather pattern/ alien invasion. Maybe even a little cocky, because that's what my Aries people do. Then reality gives me an itty bitty opportunity to prove my worthiness to survive, and I whine like a child.

This opportunity came in the form of the air conditioning breaking down today. I am definitely a born and raised southern woman, but that doesn't mean that I have EVER acclimated to the heat and humidity. The heat index was 108 degrees today and absolutely miserable. Our air conditioning doesn't work the best anyway, but I deal by just not moving after 4:00 in the afternoon and staying in a nightshirt all day. Yes, I said I hang around the house in a nightshirt all day....mwhat? No one sees me but my babies during the day, so I might as well stay cool. As the magic hour (the hottest and the whiniest for our kids) approached today, I noticed that it was warmer in here than usual, but attributed it to the extreme heat outside and turned the tower fan on. My husband went to work at 4:00 and I got the bottle ready for the baby, who was about to wake up and be thirsty. Right on time, the baby wakes up ready to eat, so I put her in my arms and started feeding her the bottle while her little head was making some major sweatiness on my arm. It's okay though, she's hot natured like me. About halfway through the bottle I heard a small pop and then smelled an electrical heat smell that dissipated quickly. Racing through the house, baby in arms and toddler in tow, I start sniffing every room of the house trying to locate the possible electrical fire while the toddler starts snorting, trying to mimic my deep inhalations. "Whatcha doin', Mommy? Do you smell poop? I don't smell poop, because Milo uses the box." Milo is our cat. "No baby, I'm trying to figure out a smell." The spider senses that I acquired while pregnant never quite went away, so there's a 'no smell or sound left behind' kind of thing in our house. If I smell or hear something, I have to investigate like a mama bear, to make sure my cubs are in no danger. Seeing there is no immediate threat of fire, I start to calm down until I realized what that pop must have been. Quickly the toddler runs to the nearest vent and announces "Uh oh Mommy, it's not cold! Did you turn the heat on? Or is the air broke?" At this point the thermostat is reading 86 degrees and I move into a panic quickly, knowing that 5:00 is approaching and it's about to be the hottest part of the day (the front of our house faces west). I started gathering the diaper bag and getting all the kid stuff so we could go to my grandmother's house and cool off a little and eat some fast food for supper...I was NOT going to attempt cooking in this house. As we're driving down the road enjoying the air conditioning in the car I was thinking "Whew! I sure am glad to be in this car, cooling off and on my way to a house with a functioning unit. Even if Mamaw and Papaw don't run the unit anywhere near cool enough, it's better than nothing."

WHAT? Did I really just think that to myself? Not that it's an unreasonable thought, we are in the southern heat, after all. But after thinking so highly of my survival skills, I found myself feeling knocked down a peg and a little sheepish. All this time I've been so proud of my possible survival skills for impossible situations where there is no electricity, phone, grocery store, government, law enforcement, hospitals, you name it. I thought I could survive a freakin meteor impacting the earth, and here I am whining over something as small as no air conditioning. How humbling, to realize how cocky and ridiculous I've been. This started a brand new, more realistic thought process about myself. Here goes.

I like to be comfortable. This means complete climate control, no restrictive clothing, plush couch to sit on, soft sheets, even keeping my hair longer for the express purpose of being able to keep a ponytail so my neck doesn't get tickled or itchy from my hair touching it. I am a wuss for pain or discomfort, Gevalia is the only coffee my palate prefers, and I don't like the experience of being pregnant. Don't get me wrong, I was excited both times because I knew that the end result would more than worth the discomfort (heartburn, back pain, leg cramps, insomnia, you know) and I was happy to have life inside of me, but that didn't make me any less whiny. So human adaptation has a place for my kind, huh? I guess we'll wait and see. Until then, I'll make like my Mississippi-born grandparents and turn on the fans, put a cold washcloth on my face, and live on sweet tea and tater salad. There's a reason that sweet tea is the drink of the's tastier than a sports drink and does almost the same thing. Come to think of it, never in my life has anything been able to quench my thirst when I'm hot like an ice-cold glass of perfectly brewed sweet tea and knowing that there's a whole gallon pitcher of it in my fridge. So I'll take baby steps toward upping my ability to survive adverse conditions, one glass at a time. Thank you, southern people that came before me, for coming up with ways to stay cool and keep your sanity, my gratitude for your beverages and fans is neverending.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

There's a saying...

My husband once shared with me a saying his grandfather used that rings true so often: "When you just assume something, you make an ass out of u and me."  That little saying popped in my head yesterday while visiting a college campus.

I previously attended one year of school at a university here in Tennessee and decided that I had burned out from pushing myself for years, and I needed a break. This was a conscious decision, made with the purpose of allowing myself more time to become an adult and learn more about myself and what I really wanted to before I wasted any more money. Being prudent, I didn't want to become my own version of Van Wilder (movie character) and waste time or resources. So I joined the workforce and learned a lot of social skills from retail, as well as how to budget my paychecks, pay rent, make the most out of $40 worth of groceries, and grow as a human being. During this time of working in the public, I met my (future) husband and we started dating. After a few months of dating we moved in together and were engaged and that's when I started learning what adulthood was about. We were married in 2007 and these last five years have been the best of my life, although the most's not easy learning that kind of responsibility in such a short time!

Education and learning in general have always been very important to me, so to me it was a matter of being responsible with the time I had to be young- you only get to experience your early 20s once- that drove me to put off earning my degree. If I had continued my schooling I would never have met my husband (he was a customer at the store I worked at), I wouldn't have gotten an office job, and most importantly, the two most wonderful little girls in the world (sorry, biased!) wouldn't be in my life. How can one regret a decision that led to the best thing that ever happened to them? This is my feeling on how my life has progressed the last eight years and I'm content with all of it. So why do so many people seem to assume that I have some sort of guilt, shame, or regret about not finishing school? The last few years, it seems like every time I'm asked about my educational background and plans for the future, I'm given this face resembling either pity, displeasure, or both. Here's my question when I get this reaction: Why do people seem to assume that I am some irresponsible kid, just because I didn't finish school at the same time as everyone else? The way I see it, you have your whole life to finish your schooling, but your early 20s only come once and in my opinion are truly the time when you lay the foundation for the rest of your life. That's when most people really come into what kind of person they want to be, how they want to live their life, and decide what partner they choose to spend it with.

All of this struck me when the lady at the front desk of the student center decided to make small talk...bad decision. After completing the math placement test I was walking through the lobby and she said "How did it go?". It was a simple question with a simple response, "There's nothing like looking at something for the first time in ten years to make you realize how much you've forgotten...I'm feeling a little dumb about my math skills. Good thing I won't really need them for my major." This is when I received the displeasure face and her response (with an air of superiority), "Well, at least you're trying to get your life together and work toward something meaningful and you can learn math this time". For those who know me well, I'm sure you've witnessed the fact that when a thought comes into my head, it immediately shows on my face, no matter how hard I try to hide it...a good reason to not play poker. This lady found out the hard way (the easy way being when a nice or humorous thought pops in) because gauging by her reaction, I must have given her the stink eye. Really? 'Get my life together', 'Work toward something meaningful', 'Learn math'? There are so many things wrong with what she said it's ridiculous. I am a grown woman with a husband and children, a household to run, health insurance, a strong sense of self, and absolutely no police record. How can this be construed as not having my life together? The last time I checked, working toward something meaningful is different for each individual, depending on what they find meaningful in their life. My life has plenty of meaning and I'm content with it. As for the math, although my history with math teachers was piss poor until way too late, I actually did learn it at one point. Anger was the first thing I felt at that woman for making such wild assumptions about me and right as I started to say something terse, I remembered the old saying. The lady made a wholly untrue assumption about me and while she may have made an ass of herself, I wasn't going to let her make one of me, so I just walked off as she tried to disperse the tension with a high-pitched giggle and a little joke. Maybe more people should become aware of the old saying, it might benefit them toward learning a little bit of tact. Tact being something that no amount of schooling can teach you- only living your life and working with others can teach that skill.

Monday, June 27, 2011

When everyone else is getting out of bed, I'm usually getting in it (for the 5th time)

My whole life (no exaggeration), I've been a night owl. By the time I was three I was rolling out of bed and into the living room saying, "I wanna see my good friend Mr. Paul Shaffer!". After Letterman sleepy time would hit, and just as I would start to settle down, my father would come home from second shift and start clinking the ice cream scoop in the bowl and I was ready to get back up and see what he was doing. The sleep(less) cycle continued until I was four and my mother gave up trying to get me to go to sleep at a decent hour. This was when she implemented a new rule- if I was going to be awake after bedtime, I couldn't play with my toys or go out in the living room. The only thing I was allowed to do was read. "But Mom, I don't know how to read!"..."Then I guess you'll learn, won't you?"

After about three months of index cards with simple words and Dr. Suess, I learned how to read. So of course I just ended up staying up until time to go to school reading. This kind of became the setting for the rest of my life and I've never been able to sleep at a normal time like most people. Being a natural second-shifter wasn't so bad when I was younger, single, and childless and had all the time in the world to be up all hours of the night doing whatever I wanted and sleeping in til 2 or 3 in the afternoon. Then adulthood struck all at once when I got pregnant four months after our wedding with my first child while working a first-shift office job I had gotten one month after getting married. I had almost adjusted to the normal life when that first trimester exhaustion kicked in. But I pushed through it, had a beautiful baby girl, and went back to work. What I was NOT prepared for was how exhausting it would be trying to get up at a time when my body wants to get its heaviest sleep, figure out how to fit pumping (I breastfed for the first three months) into my work day, commute an hour each way for work, cook dinner, take care of my baby and my husband, find time to shower, and sleep for a minute. Although not in the way we wanted, my husband and I were blessed that he was out of work and home with our daughter for the first two years of her life so that I could lean on him to take the brunt of this transition.

In the midst of trying to keep interest in my job (I wanted nothing more than to be home with my baby), I managed to get pregnant with our second daughter, our first being 18 months at the time. This time, my body didn't fight so well and I ended up practically sleeping away the first two trimesters. By third trimester I went out on leave and that's when my body's old habits crept back in...first it was bedtime at midnight. Then it extended to 1:30, and next thing I knew it was 3am, 4am, and eventually, falling asleep at sunrise. Now this is pretty common for pregnant women in the third trimester to have a ridiculous time trying to get comfortable enough to sleep, or the nesting hormones making us crazy to the point of scrubbing baseboards or baking way too much in the middle of the night. I genuinely thought that my first shift habit would come back once daughter #2 arrived and the world would return back to normal. Oh, but no, I was beyond wrong. Daughter #2 is now five months old and here I am at 4 in the morning, writing. Needless to say, newborn baby with days/nights mixed up + high pressure job + wonky sleep schedule = Laura quitting job to stay home with children. Epic. Fail.

To those women who have the ability to work all the way up until delivery, come back to work six weeks later, make dinner every night, keep their house clean, do the grocery shopping, and make time for their family, I salute you. You must have nerves of steel/magical powers, and I am jealous. Apparently, I am as soft as sour cream and can't do that many things at once all the time, so I just do as much as I can. This is how my week usually goes:

- Watch 2 year old and baby all day, make sure no one gets poop on their foot while changing or gets hungry enough to throw something

- Do laundry when I realize I'm almost out of receiving blankets (for burping) or bibs

- Pop in a kids' dvd long enough to allow me to make a pit stop, load the dishwasher, and think about finding something to eat

- Give most of my meal to my two year old (after she abandons what I just gave her to eat)

- Convince 2 year old to wipe her face with a diaper wipe before the food becomes a cement mustache on her face

- Wait on hubs to come home, figure out supper, cook while 2 year old clings to my leg, crying "UP!"

The list goes on an on. By the time everyone is in bed and the house is quiet, I am so appreciative of the silence that I can't seem to get myself in bed at a decent time. And of course I finally get to bed and am dozing off when I hear the dreaded yelp of the baby over the monitor. Here starts my night, getting in and out of bed a zillion times to replace the dropped paci, cover up the child after she kicked all her blanket off and is now cold, feed her, and hope she doesn't poop in the middle of the night so I don't have to get up any extra times. Who are these superheroes dressed like moms in the ads that seems to always have a perfectly clean house, a perfectly balanced gourmet meal on the table, quiet children, and every surface of their kitchen perpetually sanitized? I have yet to meet any of these women and refuse to believe that this image is the norm. I prefer to accept that my daily life is much more realistic of most parents, and that's what this blog is all about.