Monday, April 23, 2012

Watering my Roots

As a short preface, I am a 28 year old from southeast TN that's lived here all my life, and my maternal grandparents are from Mississippi. The south/country are deeply rooted in me and I didn't even realize to what extent until I became an adult with a family of my own. 

Every summer when school let out, that meant I was going to Mamaw's everyday while my parents were at work. Those summers weren't all that eventful, yet I have more good memories of my childhood from those times than almost any other. I would get to Mamaw and Papaw's house early in the morning and sit with them at the kitchen table while Papaw finished up his coffee and we all talked about what we were going to do that day. Most days I would play with the girl that lived next door to them, but there were many days it was just the three of us. It seems like everyday we did something productive, but it never felt like work, just good time spent together. There were many days spent picking bucket upon bucket of berries at the local berry farm, going to the produce stands in town to buy locally grown fruits and vegetables, and taking the afternoons to wash our goods and prepare them for freezing or taking to the neighbors to share and usually get a good basket of something we wanted in exchange. Of course I would get bored sometimes being a little kid doing this stuff, but that isn't the prevalent feeling I have when thinking back on it. My memory is of hazy afternoons snapping beans and shucking cor while my grandparents told me stories about their own upbringing. Being part of the first generation to be raised with a computer in the house as a normal thing, I was blown away hearing that they used outhouses and didn't have air conditioning, and that they got their chicken and eggs from the back yard. What was this world they were speaking of? My grandmother once showed me a hand fan from the 40s or 50s that she had been handed as she walked into church one Sunday...I had to ask her why she had a tongue depressor with a piece of cardboard attached to it. Just as I looked at her like she was an alien for having a manual fan, she looked at me likewise for even asking what it was. That day I learned how to make a paper fan and it was glorious. Seriously, I felt like I had learned a useful skill that didn't cost a thing...something I could actually use!

As a child, I viewed these anecdotes from their youth as stories from some other dimension that would never possibly be practical to me besides learning family history. After all, I was living in the world of going on a quick trip to the store if there was anything at all that we needed, going to the next town over to get my school clothes, turning on the TV if I was bored, turning down the air if I was hot, and throwing my socks in the dryer on cold mornings to heat them up while I was getting ready for school. Want some ice? Push the lever on the door. Dishes piled up in the kitchen? No problem, just load the dishwasher.  Too tired to cook? One pound, one pan, and supper was done. The more I listened to their stories, the more I realized that the world I was growing up in was nothing like it was when they were young. I also knew that technology and creature comforts would only become even more convenient and commonplace as I aged. What surprised me, was just how much technology would advance before I was even old enough to drink. To think that my children could grow up having no idea how to do anything for themselves due to over-reliance of technology broke my heart. With the ushering in of adulthood, I started to look at the world more realistically and realized that there was a very real possibility that something may go wrong someday and I would be utterly unprepared to survive without my creature comforts. This is when I started to listen to my grandparents and start asking questions. 

Not trying be a conspiracy theorist, but between the volatile political and economic times, the water shortage we may face in our lifetime, and the quick waning of fossil fuels, there may be any number of reasons that it may become unrealistic to just run to the store every time we need something. So I've begun a personal journey, to try in small ways to become more environmentally responsible, not be as wasteful, repurpose items, and learn to repair some things, rather than just throw them out because it quit working. Phew! It's tough breaking yourself from being spoiled about having everything you want, the moment you want it. Then I started talking with my husband about the idea of trying to be more self-sustaining. At this moment it isn't feasible financially to start a chicken coop and buy solar panels, but we're going to attempt to plant a small garden with the staples- zucchini, squash, tomatoes, peppers, garlic, maybe broccoli, beans, and a separate herb garden. It makes me feel good just getting to seize a moment where I rig something and fix it, so I can only imagine the pride I would feel at growing my own vegetables to feed my family. Also, I need to learn to can. Then there's the fact that I would get to hand that tradition down to my own kids, of shelling peas, snapping beans, and shucking corn on lazy afternoons while we enjoy each other's company, rather than obsessing over our Facebook, or whether so and so texted us back. In rose tinted glasses, I imagine teaching them how to cook things from scratch, concoct a home remedy for bug bites and rashes, rather than running straight for the doctor and getting an expensive ointment. I guess the point is, the south has a very rich culture of being self-reliant, hard working, using ingenuity to create and fix things, and making others feel welcome and respected. As with any place, there are always those who operate on the contrary, but we all have a heritage of using common sense and having manners. It may be old fashioned, but maybe we Millenials could use a dose of reaching back to our roots learning how to do things the old way, and teach our kiddos as we do it. It would for one, teach us to appreciate what we have, and two teach us valuable skills that we may need to use someday if worse comes to worse. If the world remains intact, well, then at least we've learned things about our heritage that can be passed down to later generations, so that the knowledge doesn't get lost forever in a sea of smartphones. 

**side note, I have nothing against technology or smartphones and in fact wish I had one. of course I indulge in having my comfort zone, but it sure is nice to think that I could survive without it and not be the stupid girl that always dies in the first five minutes of the movies because she has no sense. just sayin'.**

Monday, January 30, 2012

I did it...I finally did it.

It's been a long time coming. My 3 year old has known for over a year how to use the potty and when it's time to go and has just outright refused to go...she views the diaper as a security item at this point because she's afraid of having an accident. My husband and I have tried our hardest to let her know that we wouldn't be mad and she wouldn't be in trouble and that we would just clean it up and put on fresh clothes, but she's still fearful of it for some reason. I've come to the conclusion that we just have the non-risk taking, nervous-temperament child and it's time.

Chloe's been doing a LOT better the last few months and while I've been very pleased with her interest in the potty, she hasn't improved the frequency and just views the potty as something to do on a whim. So yesterday she stood right in front of me making the face- all parents know the "pooping face" their child makes- and I asked her if she was pooping (which she definitely knows she is supposed to be doing in the potty). When she replied "yeah, I pooped in my diaper", I immediately became irritated and asked her why. "Well, because I like using the diaper and don't want to use the takes longer to get there and I might have an accident." Calmly I just said "it's okay if you have an accident, but if you poop in your diaper on purpose one more time, I'm taking the diapers away and you can start wearing panties all day until bedtime. You can have a diaper then and only then." I guess she didn't believe me. Chloe paused and pooped in her diaper in front of Drew today and it began. After getting her cleaned up, Chloe didn't get a diaper for the rest of the day, and my eardrums sarcastically thank me for it. Not since teething has that child spent an entire day whining and crying, but she made it accident-free!

My husband and I even explained that anything you do is scary the first time because you have to learn to do something you've never done before, but the more you do it the less afraid you become. And when you do something often enough, you stop being scared because you know how to do it and it just becomes part of your life. She's still worried about the accidents that I know are coming. We seem to have such a nervous child and I've tried so many tactics- rewards, stickers, bribes, letting her come to it on her own, you name it- and none of it has worked. I've always been a little too soft on the discipline side (oh, Supernanny would love to get a hold of me) and one pediatrician even worded it as "you're being a marshmallow when she needs you to be a rock for her" when I broached the behavior topic. Well, I guess this is another approach, my attempt at being a rock. My fear for her is that she will take this diaper security issue too far and will refuse to use the potty to the point that she will have to go to school a year or two late (she'll be 4 in November) and I don't want her to go through that, the other kids wondering why she's older than them and possibly teasing her. There's also the fact that Chloe is an extremely active child and has asked me a few times if she could learn to swim and I hate for her to be deprived of the joy of learning new things like swimming, or dancing (she LOVES to dance), or tumbling. I'm really not one of those parents obsessed with scheduling their kids into constant activities, but I would love for her to have the opportunity to be around other children her age and socialize a little bit and maybe come out of her shell just a hair.

While I realize that some children just can't be pushed into something they aren't ready for, I'm wondering if there are some kids that have to be pushed or they won't even try. Yeah, she's a perfectionist and I'm concerned that she's going to develop that fear of failure complex that I'm all too familiar with myself, having dealt with it my whole life. Gestapo parenting has never been my thing, but my thing hasn't been working, so I guess it's time to try something else, because I like to be proactive in problem-solving. I hope I'm not scarring her by forcing her to use the potty, but I guess I won't know until I try, and it's time that I practice what I'm preaching to her. There's no way in good conscience I can tell my child to take a risk and try something new when I'm not willing to do it myself, so here goes! We'll see how tomorrow goes and whether I have any hair left at the end of the day, because there's no going back now, or everything we said will be undermined. Yes, I'm scared that this attempt will fail too, but it's high time that I learn to stop fearing failure because it's inevitable that all parents screw up their kids in one way or another, but to what degree is different with each person. Alright, time to make like a rock and sit at the shore, weathering the storms.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Once upon a time when I was around 21 or so I thought I had a lot of things figured out (but not everything). A real job was something I didn't want...meaning corporate- the idea of self-employment was very inviting, or working for a mom and pop. My dorkiest days surely had to be behind me, now that I was pierced and tattooed  and had adopted a sense of style and learned when not to make a MST3K reference out loud. POS cars were something you're supposed to not have again after you settle down and start building a life with someone. I would never live near my hometown after I was 25. The things I enjoyed as a kid were just part of what made me who I am, but not necessarily something I would still find interesting. Once you're in a real relationship and have kids, your insecurities about the way you look and your own personal weirdness are supposed to go away because your partner should take that away merely by their love for you. The list goes on.

Then I became a grown up. While a lot of this is still true for me, the meaning behind most of it has changed a little. I still don't like working for big companies as I like the idea of being completely responsible for each project and deadline and creative decision. Unfortunately, my dorkiest days were NOWHERE NEAR behind me...if anything it's gotten worse. I still drive a POS car and live near my hometown, but not because I've "given up" so much as I'm being practical with money right now. And no matter how much my husband loves me for who I am, it's not a bandaid for all the insecurities I have because love doesn't cure fat days, being yelled at by a boss, or making a bad spice decision and destroying a potentially delicious dish. And of course I still have a sense of style, but it's been put on hold, since I rarely have the opportunity to put on mascara, much less coordinate an outfit and accessories. Comfy clothes and little to no makeup have become my uniform, which is something I would have been appalled at when I was younger...I didn't even consider leaving the house without makeup back in the day. However, being with my husband has made me realize that some of the things I was so self-conscious about were ridiculous and that I needed to get over it and be the person I really am. Enter the dork. Yes, I watch scifi shows and jeopardy, I make up my own words to popular music and insert said songs into play with my kids (I'm bringin' paci back...nuh nuh nuh). Puns roll off my tongue with ease these days. So many things I said I'd never do, yet here I am.

Never did it cross my mind that I'd be a stay at home mom with two little girls and a cat, owning meal times- sorry man, but I'm proud of my cooking, figuring out how to rig a broken toy to work temporarily, feeling more feminist with age (seems ironic, huh?), and excited to go somewhere like Home Depot. Yet in six short years I've managed to almost do a complete flip in my lifestyle. I didn't even notice for a long time that I've slowly been reverting back to my childhood interests, like getting crafty. In fact, I didn't notice until Christmas time, 2011.

When I was a kid, crafts was something you did at camp or just to pass the time. Most crafts back then seemed to have no practical use and just took up space once completed. And most of the materials seemed horribly cheap looking and actual books were needed to learn how to do a lot of it, and most of them seemed outdated. Then you had to meet up with old ladies to learn first-hand how to do most of it (including old lady-looking embellishments on everything). I've always loved the arts, but have no personal talent for anything like drawing or painting, so crafting was what I did to be "productive" and get my visual creativity out- I say visual because I've also always written and for a long time played clarinet. Although the idea of having a vision, setting a goal, and completing it was very inviting to me, I always found crafting to be unsatisfying no matter what kind I tried. There was cross-stitching, sewing, handpainting any number of decorative things, jewelry, making containers of various sorts, you name it (besides knitting, still haven't learned that one). The access to quality materials, tools, and information just irritated me, so I moved on to other things, like my obsession with music and movies.

Well, recently, going back to Christmas, I was confronted with the problem of trying to decorate a baby-friendly tree- nothing that could break or needed hooks. I didn't have time to embark on the journey of intricate homemade decorations and wanted to include Honeybunch in the making of said ornaments. There isn't a lot that a 3 year old can handle safely and neatly, so I went generic. Posterboard, construction paper, markers, glue sticks, hole punch, ribbon. I let her make the decorations and I assembled them. I never knew that I could have so much fun doing something I hadn't done since childhood and the bug started to bite. During a period of deliberation I thought about cake decorating and knitting but still wasn't sure what I could do to really satisfy my own type of creativity. Then it occurred to me, maybe I should try card making...requires practically no drawing or painting, but does necessitate an ability to make something comprised of high attention to detail and placing geometric shapes in an order that looks attractive. Being me, I decided to do some research. When I use that word around my husband he cringes because that means lots of hours spent online looking at several articles and cross-referencing to find the common denominators, etc. and then sharing what I found. Yeah, it probably bores him, but my mind is like a sponge for things I read and see- some have postulated a partially photographic memory? Who knows- so when I verbalize the information I take in it seems to help my brain organize it. So I started looking around and I'm not too proud to admit that I've been absolutely overwhelmed! When I was researching I found that there are a zillion sites dedicated to examples, templates, tutorials, and supply sites and started to feel like I was drowning. If you don't have someone that's been doing it for a while to talk you through it, how are you supposed to know where to start?

The world of crafting has changed drastically from when I was a kid (think 90s)! It's actually become a huge market, full of people of all ages, not just old ladies and little kids. I knew that the scrapbooking thing was huge, but I had no idea that there was such a large group of people willing to share so many resources and with their own "language" for items and such. Even though the internet was around back then, it was nothing like it is now, and I'm glad to have so much information at my disposal. So now I'm plotting exactly what materials I'm going to go with, just to dunk my toe in the water. I'm too practical to go spending a wad of cash on a bunch of stuff for a hobby I may not even like or be good at. Crafting is a hobby that I never thought I would even consider having an interest in again, but seeing how many projects there are that can yield useful items that serve a purpose, I'm starting to think that it's high time I get over my fear of dorkdom and just do it. Hopefully card making is something I'm good enough at that I'll want to stick with it become proficient in.

Here's to getting a hobby, after many years of being too busy to have one!

Thursday, January 5, 2012


Oosh, I haven't posted in a while, but after reading the comments on a blog entry of a momma I like to read, I cringed at a subject that was brought up that I'm finding to be more and more visible the last few years: Stay at Home Parents vs. Working Parents.

I have personally been on both sides and I have news for the haters on both sides- both types of parents work equally hard! When I was pregnant with my first child my husband was badly injured at work and had to have corrective surgery on his shoulder one month before the baby was born. In the very beginning of the recession, when every single company was laying off there was pretty much a hiring freeze until the last year or so. Although the money was scarce, it really was a blessing having my husband home to watch our child while I worked, and we both credit his having to hold a growing baby everyday with his speedy recovery from surgery (cheap physical therapy? Haha.). I was working an hour away and was trying my best to breastfeed for as long as possible, but it was so hard having to pump at work because, as one would expect, the time I had to take to pump had to happen off the clock, so every time I went to the little room to pump was time I had to stay later in order to make up the time lost. Which meant even more time away from my baby. Needless to say, the stress dried me up, which stressed me out more and that first year or so of her life was really hard on me, until I was granted permission to come home to work. And even though I was home, I still didn't get to spend that much time with her (I had work to do!). Having to clock out and come downstairs, think about supper, giving my husband a break, and keeping the routine going was absolutely exhausting and led to a lot of anxiety that I wasn't doing any of my "jobs" well. Yes, it makes you feel like crap when you realize that you're not a superhero and can't be with your child as much as you want, the house will never be picked up enough to have people just drop in, you have next to zero time with your partner, your ability to focus on your work will suffer, and supper will always have at least one pre-made element to it. All of this made me want to come home so badly I couldn't stand it.

During this time I found out I was pregnant again and really mourned that I would have to miss another child's infancy because of work. Luckily, my husband came into some work and got me thinking about asking if he would mind if I quit my job. My husband was fine with it, as long as his job proved to be solid, as within two months of Stinkbug being born, I quit my job. Here starts the stay at home portion of my life.

At first I thought "okay, I'm going to get tons of housework done, have a meal from scratch made every night at a decent hour, and maybe even get more sleep!". Within a week I realized that I was definitely overestimating the time I would have available to me each day to do these things. Every night I felt like I needed to apologize to my husband for the house being a wreck because it was never that messy when he was at home (and there was only one kid) and I somehow wanted to make sure he knew that my coming home wasn't for nothing.  Having a baby and a 2 turned 3 year old running around the house is so much harder than you would think. When you're not dealing with the constant demands for attention from the older one, you're running over to the baby every ten seconds to dig something non-edible out of their mouth. It doesn't matter how clean you keep your house, they will ALWAYS find some little jewel of rolled up reese's wrapper, a petrified green bean, a lost earring or button, you name it. Even now that the baby is about to turn one, I still find myself up constantly and have but a few rare moments during the day to do something besides running after children, making sure no one is trying to climb on something dangerous, dealing with the never-ending "I'm hungry!" or "I want to watch a movie/new movie!". Then there's the fact that someone always needs a fresh butt or a drink or has tripped and is crying, or needs wiped down head to toe from getting into something (the other day it was half a bowl of yogurt I set on the table and forgot to pick up before the baby found it and was attempting to wear it like a hat). Today I loaded and ran the dishwasher and felt like I accomplished something.

So to those on both sides that want to stir the pot about who has it harder, I say to you, stop stirring! There's really nothing to argue about, because both kinds of parents have it rough on the point of trying to uphold all of the duties of being a parent, because no matter your situation, we all just want to do the very best we can to raise our rugrats to the best of our ability. So enough with the haters! We're all working, whether at home or for a paycheck and we're all contributing something to our household.

Also, if anyone wants the name of the blog that inspired this, it's by a hilarious mom that always lifts my spirits when I read her stuff.

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.