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 challenging...it'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.