a change of season, a change of mind

It’s almost Spring. Thank God. I mean I am literally thanking God.  Spring is one of my favorite seasons.  I love seeing everything green up and come back to life.  I love the feeling of the sun on my face after a long, cold spell.  Ok, living in the South we rarely get ‘cold’ spells, but this winter has been miserable with freezing temperatures, snow and rain.

It’s nice to shed the heavy coat of winter (literally and figuratively).

In the past few days, I’ve sunned myself on my porch and resumed my evening walk on my favorite street.  It’s a street in town, miles away from my house.  It’s a place I’m pretty sure time has forgotten with big beautiful trees and neat little cedar shake houses pristinely poised on the water.  It’s my happy place.

Since the change of weather started I’ve started feeling a bit more hopeful.  I’m still counting down the days until my hellish school year ends, but I am starting to see a bit of light in the proverbial tunnel.

The warmer weather is bringing me around.

Now to start my spring yard work and sprucing up.

Peace.

disappear

I started this blog as a reflection of how I am handling motherhood.  I felt such passion toward my son I felt I needed to channel it, and for me, writing is the best way to do that.

Over the past four years this blog has morphed from my takes on motherhood (some humorous, some poignant) to being a real outlet for other areas of my life: job frustration, personal tribulations, the death of my father…. the list goes on.

I simply love to write.

For me, it is therapy. (and it’s much, much cheaper).

It’s so interesting to me that I choose such a public forum to express my most private thoughts.  Because deep down, I am a textbook introvert.  I love flying under the radar.  I cherish time to myself.  Large crowds and small talk exhaust me.  The older I get, the more I want to disappear.

It happened again today.  I was at work, at a meeting. There were about 10 people at this meeting to discuss concerns about a student.  I didn’t really have much input (as others attending the meeting had more to say) but nevertheless I was there because I teach this student as well.

The whole time I sat listening, I simply wanted the floor to swallow me up.  I can’t explain why. I was not being questioned about anything, I was not on the hot seat.  I just felt so out of place.

I work with wonderful people.  No one makes me feel small or insignificant.  In fact, isn’t there a saying that no one can make you feel inferior… you just allow it to happen.. or something like that?

More and more, I just want to do my job and go home.  That doesn’t mean I don’t care or give 100% at work.  It means for some reason I want to fly so far UNDER the radar that I disappear.   On the weekends part of me wants to socialize and plan play dates with my child’s friends.  And for him, I do it.  But the thought of making small talk at a park or birthday party makes me want to pop a Xanax.  Soccer season is starting.  I’d better visit my doctor.  Sitting on the sidelines at practices and games is excruciating for me.  I do it to support my child, feeling like a  total social outcast in the process.  I’ve always felt like I just don’t fit in, don’t have much to say or have much to contribute.  I feel like if I fell off the earth, I probably wouldn’t be missed.

No, it’s not a plea for help or me fishing for an “oh there, there, we love you” compliment.

I truly, truly feel very disinterested in myself.  I feel anxiety at the thought of having to be “on”, trying to throw up a façade so I don’t have to explain why I feel so ‘blah’.

And I’m hoping this changes soon.

I’ll keep you posted.

Peace.

zoning out

I have decided to consciously zone out for a while. What does that mean? hmm. I’m not really sure either.  Having a full time job and a four year old doesn’t really allow one to “consciously zone out” for very long, or very often for that matter.

I started thinking about how much I am “aware” of what is going on in the world.  I tune in regularly to the news.  I browse social media.  I grab headlines here and there.

And I feel my anxiety level rush.  I am over loaded.

I am sick of Kim Kardashian’s hair. (and this apparently is newsworthy, it’s everywhere).
I am sick of sad stories about babies trapped in cars.
I am sick of news about hostages and ISIS and other terrible tragedies.
I am sick of news of the latest threatening disease and what I should do to prevent myself or my family from getting it (by the way, we are all vaccinated)

I am just sick of news.

That doesn’t mean I don’t care about issues, illness, tragedy and those less fortunate.  I do.

I’m just saturated with caring.

Being a sensitive introvert (and yes, I’ve realized this about myself as well over the past year or so) I internalize just about everything.  I guess it used to be called “wearing my heart on my sleeve” but listening to/keeping up with the news produces a lot of anxiety in me.  A lot.

I find myself convinced I, or my family will be the latest statistic.  Couldn’t win the lottery, but we sure as hell could be “that” family who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or the rare case where the crock pot burned down the house.  Yep. That’s us.

I’m so tired of being aware.  That sounds silly, I know.

But I’m making an effort to zone out because I find myself slipping; slipping back into a very dark place where sadness looms. I guess you might call it “Eeyore-land”

Don’t tell me to get a hobby (no time) and please don’t suggest I try yoga. Yoga stresses me out.  Yes, I am probably the only person in the world who wants to punch someone in the teeth after yoga.  All the laying around and heavy breathing.  Ugh. I like the idea of yoga, just not actually doing yoga.  I simply don’t have time to lay on a floor and tune out while listening to other people groan and stretch.

So, I’ll keep you posted on this zoning out thing.

Peace.

the on and off struggle

I’ve learned a lot about myself since I turned 40.  (actually this self awareness began around age 36).  I realized that I have anxiety.   I was always a “worrier” as a kid.  Very serious, wise beyond my years, a planner.  I never really knew what I had was anxiety.  I grew up in a very stable, loving home.  I have no external reason to be anxious.  I think it’s just how I’m built.

As I grew up, I always felt anxious but I never really knew what to call it.  I was from a small town where people kept to themselves and resources were limited.  It was the 80s. Kids were kids and helicopter parents eager to diagnose their children didn’t really exist.  We just sort of dealt with anxiety, or brushed it off.   It didn’t really seem to matter.

As I became an adult, I was still very anxious.  Always worrying about what came next, trying to map out my life and plan the inevitable.  My stupid 20 year old self didn’t realize that you can’t plan everything.  When I look back at the pressure I put on myself I cringe.  I think of all the years I wasted scolding myself for not being married by a certain age, not enjoying things I should have enjoyed, and always trying to be something I wasn’t.  I guess that’s what you’re supposed to do in your twenties.

After I had my son in my mid 30s my anxiety ramped up.  I think it was some sort of post partum anxiety.  I felt like a life guard always on duty.  I ground my teeth to the point my jaw ached.  I went on meds.   I stayed on them for a while until I felt “straightened out” and then I went off them.

Fast forward a couple of years (almost 2) and then I lost my dad.  Needless to say, there was a lot of Zoloft in my future.  I stayed on meds for a couple of years and then this past summer realized I was doing well (not just a false sense, things had changed) so I weaned myself off.

And things were ok. For a while.

And here I am.

I’m not sure if it’s the impending “death” anniversary (April 24) or the fact I am having one of the most stressful teaching years ever, or the fact that I weigh the most I’ve ever weighed in my life, but I find myself more and more weepy for no reason.  I find myself lacking energy.  I find myself distracted and disinterested. I find myself stressed out and feeling sick all the time.

Of course these are things that should be discussed with a doctor, not on a blog.

But the wonderful thing about writing is that maybe just one person out there reading this can identify with me, can feel a little less alone or a little less weird.

This life thing is a work in progress.

Peace.

I love a rainy night

Just like the Eddie Rabbit song… I love a rainy night. I really do. There is something so very cozy and warm about sitting in your house listening to the rain beat on the roof and the windows.  My dad used to love listening to the rain.  In a funny way when it rains, it gives me a bit of comfort.  Almost like it’s him saying hello.

It’s Sunday night.  It was a busy weekend with me hobbling around due to a bad back. I’ve had my share of back problems, but this one was a doozy.  Needless to say a good part of my next pay check will be given to our local chiropractor. *sigh*

So on this Sunday night I did the usual lunch prep, laundry folding, plan for the week ahead stuff I usually do. I put my son to bed, as I normally do, and as weird as it sounds, I felt a little sad that the weekend must come to an end.

As I sat rocking him, reading him a story, I looked at my kid and fell in love with him all over again.

There is something so special and magical about his room.  I have so many vivid memories of sitting in there, rocking him as a newborn, totally unsure of myself and my ability to be a mother.  I remember rocking him when he was so tiny he could snuggle up under my chin and thinking… this is gold. I want this to last forever.  And then I remember crying while rocking him because I knew I would blink and pretty soon he would outgrow my lap and our rocking chair days would be numbered.

Every time this parenting “stuff” got hard, every time I wanted to throw in the towel and scream, every tantrum, every time I wanted to pull my hair out, I’d keep telling myself the same thing… “this won’t last forever”, “this is temporary”.

And now, as I look at him, all four and a half years of him, I know I was right.

Everything is temporary.

Nothing will last.

And it makes me a little sad.

But on this rainy night I will go upstairs, check on him, stroke his hair and kiss his forehead as he sleeps knowing that for just a little while all is right in the world.

Peace

snow days

I am on day number 2 of being held captive in my own home.  Before you call 911 (but thanks for thinking of me…) it’s because of weather.  In the South a bit of snow and ice renders us helpless.

Of course being Canadian, I consider this a cruel, cruel joke.  Back home it’s called “typical Wednesday in February”.

My husband is away for work this week. I am holding down the fort with my four-year-old.  I love my son very, very much.  I am grateful for my blessings.

But oh dear, I am ready to go insane.

I have a new found respect for single parents and stay at home moms/dads.  I know I am not meant to be either.  Being “on” 24/7 is a most impossible task, and the men and women who perform this miraculous feat day in and day out deserve kudos. And a day off.

Yesterday, our first ‘snow’ (and I use the term loosely here in the South) day or found us schlepping to Wal Mart for some much needed supplies… bread, milk, crayons, a ridiculously big blue ball (because when an impending storm renders you captive, you MUST have a ridiculously large blue ball).   I earned my “Mother of The Year” wings yesterday.  We shopped. We played. We created. We baked. We cuddled.  I was THE man/woman yesterday.

And then I got the bad news that we’d be having today off too.

Um.

Um.

My baking supplies are gone, the crayons are lost or broken, we’ve already seen the movie my son wanted to watch and it’s too damn wet to go outside.

Um

Um

My son has figured out I am a captive audience.  At the tender age of four he has yet to understand “alone time”.

So I sit here today, contemplating what to do.  Road’s are icy. Weather conditions aren’t great.  I don’t want my kid stuck in front of an ipad or tv all day.

I am mustering up the creativity and courage it takes to tackle this beast…. alone.

Bless the people who do this day in and day out with smiles on their faces.

Peace.

sick days

I’ve been down and out for the past week. Back to back bouts of a stomach virus coupled with dehydration. Fun times. But still no excuse for not writing regularly.  Perhaps not writing regularly is a sign that things are going well; often I use writing as an outlet and rely on it as a means of sanity. Plus, it’s cheaper than therapy.

Over the past week I’ve been forced to take it easy.  This is no easy feat for me.  I am a do-er. I am constantly busy.  When I have ‘down time’, it’s dangerous.  I think. I contemplate. I notice the little nooks and crannies that need cleaning. I think. Oh, did I mention that already?  And sometimes my head can be a very dangerous place.

Being busy for me is a distraction of sorts.  I am a creature of habit. I thrive on status quo and routine.  I love predictability. I guess deep down I’m lazy.  I love autopilot. I dislike searching for things, chaos and inconsistency.  It’s a tragic flaw, I know.

So for the past week or so I’ve been forced to slow down.  Doctor’s orders.  I’ve had family help out with my son. I’ve taken time off work. I’ve watched so much daytime television my IQ has dropped several points.  I’ve fallen behind in my housekeeping.   In short, the past week or so has been torturous.

Being laid up has made me think. I thought about how awful it must be for chronically ill people to suffer each and every day and still try to carry on a ‘normal’ life.  A stupid stomach virus is nothing compared to what some people must endure.  I can’t even imagine knowing there is no ‘better’ in your future.

I thought about how often we take our health for granted.  We really do. It’s not until you have injured or lost part of your well being that you truly appreciate being whole and healthy.

I thought about my friend who passed from cancer at age 43 and left a seven year old daughter behind.  I thought about how tragic and awful it must have been for her to watch her husband and child bravely carry on without her. This particularly hit hard the morning I watched my husband get my four year old son ready for day care (a job that is normally mine).  I lay in bed, nauseated beyond belief, praying for relief, listening to them scurry around, trying to do things the way ‘mom’ does them to get out the door on time.

For a fleeting moment I pictured my friend, dying, listening to a similar scenario from her bed except not having the luxury of impending wellness.

And I wept.

For a fleeting moment I imagined having to leave my son and husband behind.

And I wept.

A stupid stomach bug has done more than make me feel ill for a few days.  It has made me appreciate little things more and more. Silly? maybe. But for me, very real.

Since my dad died I’ve become a very different person. One who is more aware, more sensitive, appreciative and benign. One who is more grateful and realizes that nothing is guaranteed or promised.

A little depressing, but a transformation nonetheless.

So here’s to wellness. And appreciating it.

Peace.

“that” mother

I wish I could be “that” mother.  “That” mother, to me, is the carefree, hey my kid can eat what they found on the floor of the car, I don’t mind if they wear the same clothes for a week kind of mother.

I wish I could be a more relaxed mother.

I have learned to let a lot of stuff slide. Really, I have.  I do prioritize.  I just can’t let my hair down enough to be the ‘cool’ mom who shows up without the ‘mom’ purse and doesn’t really care if her kid rolls in mud puddles and then eats crap they found on the floor of the car.  I long to be the mother who doesn’t look mortified if her kid is playing on slippery rocks.  Near rough waves and an undertow.

And yes, this really happened.

I met up with a fellow mom at the beach last year.  Stupid me. I packed a bag, snacks, dry clothes and a towel.  Fellow mom just sort of showed up, let her boys run amuck on slippery rocks, shake and bake themselves in the sand and didn’t have a change of clothes. Or a towel.  She also didn’t seem to care that her kids’ teeth were chattering or the sandy coat they got when they rolled themselves on the beach was going to be all over her car.

She just smiled, gave a careless wave and said “oh well”.

I want to be her.

I don’t really want my kid to play on jagged slippery rocks (I DO draw the line at safety) but I do wish I was more laid back.  I care that my kid is warm.  (not saying that fellow mom didn’t care, but she didn’t seem overly concerned).  I care my kid has dry clothes.  I care that my kid doesn’t track a load of sand into my car, because after all, it will be ME who cleans it out after.

My kid is four and I stupidly got in my head that I have to pack the ‘mom’ purse everywhere I go.

I wish I could be the mom who wings it and doesn’t really give a shit.

I met up with the same mom (who is a lovely woman, by the way) at an extracurricular activity our kids both go to.  Her husband brought her child in (they drove separately) and she casually remarked how her child was dressed in the clothes he had on the day before.  I deduced her husband was responsible for this, since he brought the kid.

Um.

She just laughed it off.  I wish I could do that.

If that was me, I would save face in public, but I’d quietly seethe while plotting my husband’s demise for allowing my kid to wear the same dirty clothes as the day before.

I wish I was more happy-go-lucky.

I wish I was ‘that’ mom.  Maybe I wouldn’t feel like the world’s worst, most uptight mother because I care my kid doesn’t get cavities and has a warm coat on.

Parenting is not easy.

like mother, like son

We took my four-year-old son to a children’s museum last week.  He enjoyed one of the play rooms where he could play and build with huge oversized foam blocks.  He carefully piled them up in an attempt to make a wall and when he went over to the larger pile to gather more blocks, some other little kid (well, not little, my guess is the kid was about 7) destroyed what my son had built and took the blocks for himself.  When my son returned to his creation, he looked bewildered that someone else had actually pillaged his pile.  He didn’t cry, but he didn’t really know what to do.  He sort of slunk away, perplexed.

The mama bear in me wanted to go shake the crap out of the other kid.  The teacher in me gave the 7 year old thief the stink eye, and when he realized what I was doing, he gave me some lame excuse that he was there first.  Had it not been for the 7 year old’s mother sitting nearby, I would have, in my best teacher voice, told him EXACTLY what was going to happen next, but I refrained.

After all, we were in public.

However, seeing my kid sort of slink away and concede struck a familiar chord in me.  My child is me.  And I silently wept inside.

I was never an aggressive kid. I was an only child. I didn’t “get” name calling and teasing.  I thought turn taking and sharing were ridiculous concepts.  I never had to do it.  My parents used to laugh at me when I asked for permission to do something; not because my requests were preposterous, but because I was a good, sensible, trust worthy kid who knew right from wrong, obeyed curfews, exhibited manners and had more common sense than most adults.  I needed their consent, but never their approval to do anything.  They trusted me, and had done an excellent job of disciplining me.  I was by no means a perfect child, but I didn’t really misbehave.  I listened and respected.  It’s how I was taught.

So now I look at my kid.

He is an only child.  He is tender hearted like me.  I know he (like me) will be the kid on the playground who befriends the outcast on the playground in an attempt to include them.  I know he (like me) will be partners with the weird kid in gym class because he doesn’t want the weirdo to be lonely.  I know he (like me) will come home from school bewildered about why he was excluded from a sleepover or birthday party his ‘friends’ were hosting, but decided to be mean and not invite him.  I know he (like me) will be naïve enough to believe everyone is good and will trust and love with his whole heart.

*sigh*

Of course, these are not bad qualities.  I want my kid to be compassionate, inclusive and kind.  I just don’t want him to make the same mistakes I did, to not self advocate until he is in his forties.

*sigh*

We have lots of time to teach him and fill him full of all the things we hope he will embrace.

But I worry he will be a pushover, submissive and taken advantage of.   Like me.

Being a parent is hard. So hard.

my new word for problems

Over the course of the past few days, I have learned that I don’t really have problems.  I have inconveniences.  Problems are reserved for people much less fortunate than myself.  I must keep reminding myself of this every time I go to open my mouth to complain about something trite and first world.

I. Do. Not. Have. Problems.

And I am grateful I only have ‘inconveniences’.

Today, I had to rise and shine to be at the doctor’s office for an 8:15 appointment.  I had to get blood work done to test for a few things the doctor wants to ‘check out’.

Rising and shining after several days of being on vacation is not easy.  But it is not a problem.  I don’t have problems.

I got to the office and the friendly lab tech who was about to draw my blood could not find any notes indicating what tests were supposed to be run with my sample.

Um.

Um.

Don’t look at me, I was a history major.

So, try as I might, (and as luck would have it, the nurse practitioner who ordered the tests was not at work today) I fleetingly suggested the few tests I vaguely remember discussing with my provider.  I hope I got it right.

Who does that? Who leaves it up to the patient to remember this crap?

But, it wasn’t a problem.

I  dragged myself home (I had been fasting for this test so I was a little cranky) only to be greeted by the sink still full of dishes and my four year old eating a questionable amount of maple syrup on his pancakes.

Not a problem.

Later in the day, my husband went with my technologically challenged mother to purchase a new cell phone. Long story short, she is currently using an old cell phone from 1942, loaned to her by a friend who no longer needed it.  I’m sure you could find more current and better working phones in a ditch, but I digress.  Today she took the plunge and purchased an equally questionable phone, but at least this one was up to current century standards.

But she didn’t know how to add contacts to it.  We had to ‘practice’ using it.  I had to tutor her.  It was painful.

But it was not a problem.

Then the news of the day… we found out my mother is being evicted.

This is actually more dramatic than it sounds, but I just like saying ‘evicted’ for emphasis and dramatic effect.

The winter rental she is in (she is a Snowbird) will no longer be available to her next winter. She is able to stay the duration of her lease but then it’s adios to the current condo.  A place I found for her and my dad 8 years ago through a friend. A friend who owns the unit. A friend whom I thought might have given us a more personal heads up style of eviction notice. Nope, my mother was informed by her rental agent.

So while this is not a problem, it is a setback.  My mother is adjusting beautifully to life as a widow since losing my dad almost three years ago. Each new step (as minor as it seems) is a milestone. An accomplishment for a woman who grew up in a generation where you married soon after high school and you remained married for decades and decades.  She never had to forge a life on her own.  Now she does.  So, I feel responsible, as her only child, and as someone who has already experienced apartment seeking and living independently to help her as much as possible.

So now we have to find her a new place to live (for the winter). We have to worry about budgets and logistics again. Her nice little predictable world has gone topsy turvy.  And for someone who experienced the trauma of finding her husband floating face down in a creek, we do not need more topsy turvy.

But it is not a problem. We are trying to spin it as a new adventure.

So we are trying. I am trying.

I am trying to put ‘problems’ into perspective.

Because as my wise mother always says, ‘it could be worse’.

Peace.