tis the season

There are 9 days until Christmas.  Surprisingly, I am prepared.  Presents are bought and wrapped (with the exception of maybe 2 very easy things to pick up). Travel plans to see family are made.  House is trimmed. No cookies baked, though… one thing I debated on doing, but decided against considering 2015 is going to be a carb free event.  (why not start early?)

So, on paper, things are great.

On paper.

The holidays bring out mixed emotions in me.  While I believe in the ‘magic’ of the season and the giving, not receiving part, part of me is disgruntled.

I am frustrated over how commercialized the holiday has become.  I struggle with ‘feeding’ my four-year-old ideas about Santa.  (disclaimer… I am not a Grinch, Santa WILL visit our house)

I feel guilty about how much we have (not a lot by some standards, but way too much by others).  I try to give back.  I attempt to think of and do for those less fortunate.

I am sad and sentimental too.  This time of year shines a huge spotlight on loss.  There is one less person to buy and wrap for.  One less place to set at the table.  My son has one less grandparent to watch him delight in opening presents.  It’s sad.

My son’s daycare class participated in a local gingerbread house contest.  The houses were on display at our local civic center.  We went to support our son and take pictures.  This was an event we used to go to with my dad (albeit the theme was different- decorated Christmas trees, but the charity it supports is the same).  As we walked around admiring the displays I was overcome with emotion.  The soft lighting and holiday music were just too much.  As I walked, I thought about how my dad should be here to see his grandson’s masterpiece.  I broke.  I stood in front of a massive gingerbread display and wept.  To add insult to injury “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” was playing in the background.

I’ve been trying to hold myself together for weeks now, busying myself with holiday preparations, trying to make things memorable and special for my little one.

But at that place and that moment, I broke.  I stood in front of a gingerbread display and wept openly.  I cried for my dad and the memories he will never be a part of.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  For some of us.  For others of us we just muddle through the best we can.

Peace.

And Merry Christmas.

the introvert and the Christmas party

Last night was my husband’s staff Christmas party.  I went because, well, that’s what you do when you’re married.
You accompany your spouse to his staff Christmas party.

But you see, this was one of those big entire facility parties, not just his office, so it was important that his face be seen by some of the ‘big wigs’.  It also meant that I would know next to no one.

It also meant that me, the introvert with mild social anxiety would be completely ejected out of my comfort zone.  *sigh*

We went and arrived early (a faux pas in every social etiquette book I’m sure).  Our strategy was to secure a table near the door, have a good chance of being “seen” early, and then make a discreet exit once the party was in full swing.

We found a table and sat down.

Little did we know the evening would be a page out of the Hunger Games goes to summer camp playbook.

For anyone who would rather blend into the wall than compete in wrapping someone in toilet paper to make a human snowman, this was a total nightmare.

First, in order to get to the buffet line, all tables had to compete in a “Name that TV tune” contest.  Since I am an expert in Name That Tune, I felt rather comfortable with this one.

The first song was from The Love Boat. Easy.  But apparently we were not speedy enough running to the middle of the dance floor to report our answer to the DJ.  We were banished back to our table while the lucky bastards at the table next to ours got to eat.

This went on for a few more songs.  What at first was a good natured contest meant to keep the buffet line moving in a timely fashion turned into an elbow flying tackle contest among several highly educated starving engineers. *sigh*

After the fifth try it was FINALLY our turn to eat.

(the food by the way was delicious… finally something positive)

We ate and made small talk with our table mates (another nightmare for an introvert like myself).  Since the only other couple at our table were two people who cheated on their respective spouses and are now married to each other, the “how did you meet” question seemed off the table.  The lady of the couple was a perky, underfed middle aged cheerleader dripping with a sticky sweet southern accent.  She was designated ‘fun monitor’ of our group (yes, the tables had ‘fun’ monitors) and was hell bent on making sure we got up and danced, sang and otherwise made fools of ourselves.

I bet you know where I’m going with this one.

After my 3rd trip to the bathroom to pop Xanax and otherwise escape the fun Nazi,  I decided it was time for us to make a gracious exit.  The room was getting a little sloppy anyway.  There were musical chair scavenger hunts (still not sure how to explain that one), Dance-offs, and a human snowman contest where the ‘lucky’ winner had to stand still and be decorated with toilet paper and other readily available table accessories (dirty napkins, center pieces, scarves etc) in order to ‘look’ like a snowman.

By the time the ‘lighted snowball’ was being whipped around the room, nearly missing someone’s face, I was ready to meet my husband in the car.

The older I get, the less I like people.  In crowds. Playing stupid reindeer games.

I am an introvert and this type of situation zaps my energy.  It’s no wonder I went home and went directly to sleep.

Although it might have been the Xanax.

Peace.

Dear FB, I’m breaking up with you…

It’s a conversation I’ve had. Over. And. Over.  Since I first joined the time sucking vortex called Facebook in 2007.

Facebook, it’s time we took a break.

I say it every few months, when I become over saturated with quotes about how I “should” be living my life.

Everyone on that damn thing seems to be such an expert on how we should conduct ourselves, how we should attain inner peace, raise our kids, lose weight, care for pets… you name it, everyone is on a soap box.

It makes me want to scream “STOP BEING A HYPOCRITE! GET OFF YOUR DAMN COMPUTER AND GO LIVE YOUR LIFE!!!” which seems a little ironic because here I am sitting at a computer, typing a post.

But whatever.

I’m sick and tired of people professing their love for one another.  I have neighbors who do this; they post their undying love and affection for one another for the world to see, and you know they’re probably sitting across from each other in their living room as they update their statuses.  It’s nauseating.

And, I’ve had it.

I’ve really cut back (if that is possible) on checking the stupid thing, but unfortunately, Facebook is how a lot of people communicate these days.  Email is so 2009 n’est pas?   Now everyone is ‘instant messaged’ on Facebook.  So, not checking it is pretty much like living in a cave.  Or so it seems.

But, for me, some days cave dwelling has a lot of appeal.

So, FB, it’s me, not you.  I think we need a break.  I know I’ll miss you, but it’s for the best.

I need my life back.

Adios amigo.

wednesday

I can’t be more creative than ‘wednesday’ for a title.  I’m so tired, I didn’t even capitalize it.  Go me.

Coming off the Thanksgiving holiday, I am blissfully aware there are only 12 more school days until Christmas vacation.  We all need a break, even though we just had one.  This is an awkward time of year, all the stopping and starting and holiday cheer.  When you’re a teacher, you just get something started and then BOOM, there is a holiday.  There are concerts, parties and holiday hoopla to manage and rein in.   There are novels to finish, tests to give (and mark), progress reports, fire drills, new students to acclimate, fights to break up, discipline center referrals, song lyrics to learn, crafts to make and in there somewhere you’re supposed to teach and prepare kids for 21st century learning.

I’m ready for a break.

As I sit here, willing myself to scour the internet for the bigger, better, faster, leaner lessons, I have to remember I am a veteran teacher.  Even after almost 2 decades of doing this gig, I still doubt myself.  I still think I need to improve, reinvent, refresh.  I still stay up late wondering how I can make my lessons more innovative, engaging and interesting.

I’m ready for a break.

It’s hard to leave school at school.  I try really hard.  In fact, I’ve written several posts about that very thing.  I’ve written several posts about striving for balance between work and home.  I have great intentions, but when you’re in a ‘helping’ profession, sometimes you are the last person to be helped.

Self care is so underrated.

And reaching for the bag of Doritos is oh, so easy!  Especially when life gets overwhelming.

So on this Wednesday,  as exhausted as I am, I will once again remind myself to strive for balance.  To breathe.  To look at my kid and savour every moment I have with him.

Because after all, he is what matters.

Everyday.

Peace.

the “h” word

I’m sitting here, Thanksgiving Eve, ashamed that I am even writing this post. At what is supposed to be a time of the year to be thankful and display gratitude, all I can think about is how much I hate things.

I know.

Hate is such a bad word.

I write as an outlet.  It’s sort of like cleansing my palate.  So, the words that pour out on this page are not usually a true reflection of my feelings but rather what I’m feeling at the time of writing.  I’m really not an ungrateful person.

I am human.

I have so much to be thankful for. Good health, a loving family, a job, food on my table.  On paper, I have nothing to hate.  And I hate that I use the word hate.  It’s so ugly.

But every once in a while I break.  I reach a saturation point where my only solace is either venting out loud in my car while running errands… which, by the way, looks ridiculous to the people stopped beside me at a traffic light, or venting through writing.

I am human.  I have a saturation point.

And I have reached it.

My life has become a mundane hamster wheel where I take care of everyone’s needs except my own.

I’m starting to sound like an old episode of Oprah.

So what are these petty complaints you ask? Will this be a whine fest?

I think it runs deeper than a laundry list of first world problems.

What I’m feeling is a build up of resentment and exhaustion.  I am the oil that continually greases the wheels.  The cruise director, brains of the operation, chief cook and bottle washer.  Whatever you want to call it, I am “it”.   As in a lot of marriages, most of the ‘heavy lifting’ (aka day-to-day operations) falls on me.  I never get a day off.  I never get a moment of down time.  When I am sick, run down, cranky and exhausted, the show must go on.  I’m a mother, after all.

I’m no fool.  I know how to ask for help.  I am not married to a monster nor am I married to an asshole (although we can all be assholes at times, can’t we?)  What I am is married to a man who requires constant direction.

And it is becoming exhausting.
And I’m starting to resent it.

I’m not sure what amount of conversation, counseling, threats or coaxing will change this situation.  I’ve tried them all.  It is what it is.  A stubborn mess.

And I’m tired of it.

Life goes on for those oblivious to my constant exhaustion.  I feel like I carry a lot of weight most days.

And I hate it.

I get it from all sides.  I go to work. (teaching).  I am always “on”.  I am always told by the Department of Public Instruction I need to keep up with the latest and greatest. I reinvent my wheel weekly.  I’ve been teaching for almost 2 decades.  Couldn’t the Dept. of Public Instruction cut me (and other veterans) a little slack? Obviously we’ve done SOMETHING right if we’ve lasted this long and have outstanding reviews in our files.

But no, I’m supposed to jump through one hoop after the other.

And I hate it.

I am still grieving the loss of my father.  The holidays are particularly difficult.  But, to the rest of the world, I should be ‘over’ it by now.  My loss has been completely wiped off everyone’s radar.  It is the center of mine.  Daily.

And I hate it.

I live in a country that is not my own.  This country has been very good to me, but it is not my home.  Daily I try to stuff a square peg into a round hole, convincing myself that this is my home, that I like it here.

I hate it.

And I hate that I hate.  It’s so wrong.  It paints me as a victim.

After all, if I don’t like my situation(s) I should do something about it. Right?

Sure.  In theory.

Divorces are messy and expensive.  Moving and leaving jobs is messy and expensive.  Not following suggested protocols at work can get messy. After all, if we don’t raise our scores, we suck.

Life is messy and expensive.

I get it.

But that doesn’t mean tonight I need to like it.

Peace.

 

 

 

 

wrapping up Sunday

It’s Sunday.  I have officially survived:

1.  a week of school where I swear every day was a full moon (if you’re a teacher, you can relate)

2. a 5 year old’s Ninja themed birthday party (note- it was NOT my child, nor was it at my house)

3.  not leaning over the cash register and throttling the Wal-Mart check out lady who decided forming personal relationships with every customer about EVERY item they were buying was more important than speed and efficiency.

4. watching the American Music Awards where I realized I a) don’t know anyone on the show and b) I’m old.

These are not ‘problems’ by any stretch of the imagination.   But more and more I find my patience is thinning. Perhaps its age.

I find I have very little tolerance for situations I am uncomfortable in.  In my 20s and 30s I put myself through what felt like torturous, awkward social situations. I’d smile, make small talk, tolerate and become a chameleon in whatever environment I was in, even if I hated it.  I did it to gain acceptance, friends, and mostly out of fear I’d be missing out on something ‘good’.

Now, I could care less.

The birthday party I went to today was particularly painful for me, the introvert.  The hosts were lovely.  The party was nice.  But making small talk with other parents whom I have virtually nothing in common with while having 10 5 year olds dressed as whooping Ninjas swirl about at our feet is not my idea of a good time.  But of course, I did it for my son.  What I really wanted to do was scoop him up and find a quiet place to enjoy some one on one time with him.  But I stayed, plastered on a smile and graciously ate cake.

As I sit here watching the American Music Awards, I find myself seething.  It’s too loud. I can’t understand half of what these morons are singing (if you call it that) and their outfits are ridiculous.  Is this what my parents thought when they watched me hang off every song sung at the same award shows in the 1980s?  Probably.  I feel about 100 years old watching this.  In fact, the only reason I’m watching it is because I’m doing a little research. I’m trying to figure out what names of performers to ‘drop’ in my fifth grade classroom so I look cool and relatable to the kids.  Good luck, right?

I also find myself conflicted between looking at the bright side and being realistic.  What do I mean?  Today at Wal Mart, I patiently waited in line while Amy, the 60 something cashier chatted up the customer ahead of me, carefully looking over and commenting on EACH and EVERY item the lady was buying.  EVERY.  ITEM.  I now know that Amy enjoys a lot of bacon on her BLTs and she is horrified at the current cost of bacon.  I also know she likes Tide and her husband prefers Cottonelle toilet paper, because, well, you know…..

GOOD GOD.

As I stood there, I tried REALLY hard to look at the bright side.  At least Amy cares about her customers.  At least someone is trying to exchange pleasantries.  Maybe Amy is a lonely person.  Maybe her only outlet is work.  Maybe Amy had a horrific childhood.  Maybe Amy is just a really lovely person… I don’t know.  All of these thoughts went through my head as I stood there trying to be REALLY patient with Amy and her incessant need to chat up the clientele.

But really, I just wanted to lean over the register and blip all the damn items myself, speeding up the process.

Instead, I stood there, trying to find something positive to take from Amy’s effort at customer service.

It was really hard.

And now it’s Sunday. That’s a wrap. Back to the grind tomorrow.

Peace.

another trip around the sun

Today is my birthday.  I am the ripe old age of 41. Not old by any means, but ancient to my four-year-old and elementary aged students.  I particularly liked it when one of my fifth grade students told me it was her mum’s birthday today too.  Her mother is turning 31. Gulp.

The older I get, I firmly believe less is more.

I had a quiet day with well wishes and thoughtful Facebook messages.  I had dinner and cake with my family.

What I am particularly grateful for is the opportunity to call my 92 year old grandmother to thank her for her card and money.  It is an opportunity I may not have next year.  Nothing is guaranteed. For any of us.

I am grateful for my health.  While I need to lose a few pounds, I am grateful.  I look around at friends with debilitating, life altering health issues and I am grateful for good health.

Nothing is guaranteed.

Years ago, I relished birthdays.  I would look at them as opportunities to go drinking with friends, to be the belle of the ball.

Now, I savor birthdays.

Because I know nothing is guaranteed.

I am grateful for another trip around the sun.

Peace.

the worry train has arrived at the station…now boarding the working mother guilt express….

Oh, hello again.  It’s you.  Thank you for coming back.

When we last met, I was riding the worry train to Xanaxville.  In essence, I was letting my anxiety get the better of me as I sat and stewed over family members who were traveling.  Yes, I was convinced that the next horrific airline disaster was sure to have my husband involved, and that my mother would somehow meet her demise in an unfortunate automobile accident involving a plethora of tractor trailers, wild animals and over medicated texting drivers.  Whew.  That’s a lot to digest isn’t it?

You’ll be pleased to know at least one of the two has reached the intended destination.  My mother is still traveling.  She is making her yearly Snowbird trek south.  So that means I still have 48 hours of worry left in me.

Added to that, (and hey, when you’re on the train to Xanaxville, you might as well throw it all in there…) were visions of my son being corrupted by gangs, him resorting to stripping for food and cash (ok, a little too much Magic Mike viewing over the weekend) and me not being able to shield him from the worst of life’s disasters.  And then I remembered that he is four and I still have a few good years left before that crap starts.

Ok, so where are we tonight?

Oh yes, on the working mother guilt express.

I am a single parent this week.  My husband is across the country on travel.   That means it’s me and only me.

While I do carry a lot more of the load than he does (read- housework, meal prep, laundry etc)  it is nice to know that when I’m preoccupied doing all this stuff, our son still has one parent to pay him some attention.  This week, all of it falls on me.  And I’m not complaining.  I am secretly worshiping single parents. I am in awe of their juggling acts.  Seriously.

Tonight, I had to make some serious choices.   How much time could back to back episodes of Transformer Rescue Bots buy me?  I have so much to do for school (another rant for another time, but as an aside I will say this…. Common Core, YOU SUCK.  If you want me to be teacher-of-the-year will all your fancy dancy facilitator 21st century learning shit, GIVE ME THE G.D RESOURCES TO DO IT WITH.  I am sick of scouring the internet on my time and dime for the latest and greatest teaching resources to make me a ‘better’ teacher)

So, tonight, I had to make some serious choices.  Do I say ‘screw it’ to school work or do I spend time with my four year old who was stuck at daycare all day?

HMMM.

Not a difficult choice by any means, but the linear, task based teacher in me wanted to get my school work done because between all the meetings and crap at school, there is simply no time to do it.

However, I chose to take time out to really focus on my kid.

We colored.  We drew.  We played.  We created.  We dined together.  We watched a few cartoons together.   And all the while I was almost in tears.

It was so innocent.  So pure.  My kid just wants me.  And the tears flowed because I spend so much time trying to be present and perfect for my career and my students while my own kid just wants his mom to sit and color with him.

And it touched me in a place I hate to go- my working mother guilt.

So, I gave in and let him sleep in our bed tonight instead of his own.  He asked, wide eyed and innocent if he could sleep with me.

And my mind immediately flew to the day he will be an ugly teenager slamming his door shut, wanting to be alone.

I realize that my days with him are numbered.  It scares me and shakes me to my very core.  It makes me want to fall on my knees and give thanks to God for blessing me with such a perfect, healthy, bright little boy.  Dramatic? Maybe.  But realistic… yes.

Nights like tonight make me take a step back and focus on what really matters.   My kid.  My family.

That is not to send you, the reader, the message that I don’t care about my job.  I do.  I care a little too much.  I am a veteran teacher but I am always trying to twist myself inside out to reach my ‘other’ kids (my students) often leaving a husband and four year old as collateral damage.

But tonight I am tired.  I am going to crawl into my bed next to my soundly sleeping son.  I will stroke his hair and kiss his forehead.  And I will give up a silent, grateful prayer to the powers who allow me to do so.

Peace.

all aboard the worry train

It’s no surprise I am an anxious person.  I’ve always been the kid who was the rule follower, the one who looked before she leaped.  The high school girl who made sure all the drunk kids had a safe ride home and held friends’ hair while they puked in the bushes. Yep.  I’m a real bag of fun.

So it’s no surprise that I am worried tonight as I sit here with my mother enroute south and my husband enroute west.  Both are traveling respectively for work and pleasure, but they are traveling.  And I worry.  I know you can’t live your life waiting for the other shoe to drop.  It would be ridiculous to spend your time on Earth fearful and tied up in knots.

But, if you’re anxious like me, it’s a real easy thing to do.

I worry when my loved ones travel.  I’m convinced the plane will crash, the car will spin out of control in the ditch, and someone in my family will be the statistic, the rare one in three trillion who is in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And why do I think this?  Because, well, it happened.  My dad was in a horrific accident which ultimately led to injuries causing his untimely death.  A freak wrong place at the wrong time split second life changing occurrence that left us shattered.

So after that, it’s pretty hard to play it cool when loved ones are traveling near and far.

I worry about my son. And his future.  Right now, he is four.  I can hold him, control him (please don’t take that the wrong way, I don’t mean it in a creepy Joan Crawford “NO WIRE HANGERS” sort of way) and pick and choose what is best for him. I am always there. I am slowly but surely instilling in him a sense of independence and confidence, but it is the scariest thing a parent has to do… let go.  The thought of it reduces me to a blubbery mess, so I prefer not to think about the many ‘firsts’ to come.  It’s too overwhelming.

I sit here tonight, ready to pounce on the first text or call I receive from my traveling loved ones; any sign or word I get to know they’re safe and sound and have arrived in one piece.

Because you never know when a goodbye will be your last.

I learned that one the hard way.

Peace.

and then there was Tuesday

Well, hi again.  Thanks for tuning back in. When you last saw me, I was pulling my hair out trying to figure out how to balance life and work.

Today I got a very real wake up call about all that.

A former teaching colleague of mine died.

She had been ill but her passing was still sudden and somewhat unexpected.

Anytime I hear of someone passing I get emotional. More than I used to.  I think experiencing your own profound loss changes you.  For me it has made me a more empathetic and grateful person.

Tonight I went for a walk with my husband and son.

I left work and school and death behind and focused on being grateful for what I have.  I know my time to enjoy my son as a little boy is fleeting.  I am in awe of how fast he is growing, and it scares me.

I cherish every hand hold, snuggle and silly moment that makes me want to scream.

Because I know these days are numbered.

And to let school/work overshadow that, well, I’d be a fool wouldn’t I???

And THAT was Tuesday.

Peace.