why this blog is called Plan B~each

I just passed the anniversary of starting this blog. I started it in 2011 as an outlet for a few thoughts I had as a mother, teacher and ex pat.  Each and every August since I started teaching (I am going into year 19) I have spent a lot of time dreading the upcoming school year.  Around this time each year I start fantasizing about what I would do if I wasn’t chained to my career.  In essence, I start dreaming up Plan B’s.  I also like the beach. It’s my happy place.

It’s not rocket science, the name is Plan B~each and it stuck.  (I also saw a similar name in an article in a Martha Stewart magazine and decided to try it on for size).

I wish I felt differently about my job but I don’t. I feel trapped. If I didn’t have a child, I wouldn’t be teaching.  It’s that simple.  I stayed in this profession to be on the same schedule as my son and to teach at the school he will attend. I didn’t want to miss any more milestones than I had already missed being a working mother.

Besides that, I’m burnt out.

I know what you’re thinking… why stay… quit.  You must be a miserable person.  I get it.

Let me preface this with the fact that I work in a great school with great people.  I do like what I do (in a way) but I am tired. I am not a teacher.  I do everything BUT teach.  I mean, when I’m tracking how many times so and so needs to be escorted to the bathroom and how many times so and so forgot his pencil for behavior charts, I’m not teaching.  I’m data collecting.

When I am calling social services to report neglect and abuse, I am not teaching.  I am advocating for a child, and it’s sad.

When I am on the receiving end of a parent’s bad day, I am not teaching, I am a punching bag.

When I am constantly disrespected by ten year olds because that is the norm in their house, I am not teaching. I am tolerating.

When I care more about progress than students and parents combined, I am not teaching. I am fighting a losing battle.

When I stay up worried, ruminating over how to raise test scores, I am not teaching.  I am preparing students on how to take a standardized test so my school looks good and the data that measures me is decent.

I am not a teacher.  I am anything and everything but.

It’s easy to say “well if you don’t like it, leave, find another job”.  Yes, that is an option. However, in my community I have a decent job, one of the more secure, better paying ones. Sad isn’t it? My budget is set based on my salary. I have a mortgage.   And, as you know, teachers don’t really do what they do for the pay.  I value my summers off to be with my child.  I value the schedule I have because it fits being a mother.   I have a very specific skill set, having spent almost two decades in this job.  I feel too old, tired and broke to commit to another career at this point. I don’t have the patience or energy to go back to school.  I did my time in university.  6 years and 2 degrees.  I’m tired. I’m done.

So, I will have a small pity party as I bemoan going back to the grind for yet another year.  And then, after I finish my glass of wine, I will pick myself up, dust myself off and count my blessings that I a) have a job  and b) will be able to be at the same school as my son for at least six more years.

And I will continue to dream of what I would do if I wasn’t teaching.

Peace.

planes, no trains and automobiles

We just got home from a trip to see my family in Canada.  My son and I travelled prior to my husband joining us.  We had it all planned out nicely.  Of course, if you are related to me, you know that best laid plans are a joke.  This trip was no exception.

It started out with my husband’s flight being delayed or cancelled (yes, you read correctly…) FOUR times.  It took him 21 hours to reach us which should have taken only 5 hours of flight time.  He literally could have driven to reach us faster than flying.

I neglected to mention that prior to his arrival, my mother’s septic tank over flowed, I got an email that my carefully cleaned and prepped classroom (which I had painstakingly packed up for summer) was destroyed by painters and custodians. Note.. for an OCD anxiety riddled elementary teacher this does not bode well.

But, after my husband arrived all was well.

Or so we thought.

The day after his mammoth trek, we went into the next town over to rent a car.  Our plan was to rent a vehicle for the week he was with us so we could take my son sight seeing.

We picked up the car and headed to the bank.

Stay with me people… here’s where you’ll be telling me I need to buy a lottery ticket.

We were in possession of the car literally FIVE (count ’em) minutes when a woman backed into us. The passenger side (my side) mirror crumpled. The door got scratched.  I sat looking on in horror, helpless as said dummy plowed into us.  Nothing like having a car’s tail lights race toward you as you sit there yelling “NOOOOOO”.

No one was hurt.   Thankfully.

A trip back to the rental place resulted in the car actually not being as damaged as first thought, and on our merry way we went (me, in the front seat eating Xanax)

The next day, after a full day of sigh seeing we were on our way back home to my mother’s.  Keep in mind she lives in a very rural area.

We were on a perfectly nice road when “CRACK”…. a rock from the car head of us flew into our windshield.  It had spun up from the car’s tires and landed smack dab on our windshield.

Really? are you kidding me?

After yet another consultation with the rental agency, it was decided we have a local auto glass business fill the crack (at our cost) and hope for the best.

The next morning, as we set out for another day of sight seeing a deer jumped out in front of us.

I wish I was making this shit up.

Don’t worry, no deer were harmed in the writing of this post.  My quick thinking husband slammed on the brakes, thus avoiding said deer.

Sigh.

Fast forward to the trip home.

You may want to go get a beverage, a snack etc right now and settle in.  This is going to be a long ride… literally.

The airport we flew in and out of is 2.5 hours from my mum’s house.  So, erring on the side of caution, we arrived at the airport plenty early.  We didn’t want to chance anything.

When we arrived at the check in counter we were dismayed to learn that my husband did not exist in the airline’s system. His itinerary had been wiped out by the hellacious first trip of delays and cancellations.  Don’t ask me how or why but the airline agent had to work some fancy magic to make him appear again.

Boarding passes in hands, we trekked to our gate.

Delayed.

sigh.

We waited.

And waited.

Delayed again.

We spent four hours entertaining ourselves at our gate. Not an easy feat with a five year old.  Thank God for ipads and Netflix.

Finally, we boarded.  We were supposed to connect at the airport for another flight (it takes 3 flights for us to go home).  We knew we had a substantial layover, but with the delays we would be cutting it close.  And we still had to clear customs. Not an easy feat when you’re in a hurry.

We deplaned, booked it through the airport (note to self…take up jogging), retrieved my suitcase (because that’s what you have to do when you fly internationally through this GOD FORSAKEN ILL MARKED AIRPORT), put my suitcase on the right conveyor belt to it’s destination (seriously people… this is 2015 and this is a major international airport… couldn’t you come up with a better system???) and then we ran for customs.

We successfully navigated entering back into the US and security (you will be happy to know none of us presented a threat to national security). Breathless, we reached our gate only to find we missed our connection.

Now I don’t know about you, or your experiences flying, but back tracking through an airport to reach someone who can help you is no easy feat.  We had to be escorted by security agents to get to a help desk.

Once we arrived at the desk, we were greeted by snarky agents clearly displeased that we interrupted them updating their Facebook statuses.

The long and short of it was that they rebooked us for the next day.

And refused to give us hotel vouchers.

So, the airline (who shall remain nameless… ok… WEST JET)… the same airline who, for the past two Christmases has produced tear jerking PR stunts to bolster their claims to phenomenal customer service and ‘giving back’ (google West Jet, Christmas presents, 2013) REFUSED to assist me and my five year old child secure a hotel room, and offered for me and my family to sleep on the airport floor. Um… no.

I won’t go into details, but it wasn’t pretty. And yes, I have since contacted said airline with my ‘feedback’ about my ‘experience’.  Ahem…..

Stranded, exhausted and hungry (feeling a little like Mary and Joseph with no room at the inn) we spied a Sheraton across the street from the hotel.

Desperate, we headed over to get a room.

We stood in line for what seemed forever and learned that a hotel room would cost us $279.

Um. Um. Um.

My husband refused to pay this.  At 9:00 pm with a hungry, tired child and Xanax popping wife.

The words “divorce lawyer” and “realtor” were thrown around.

We ended up staying at the Sheraton on with a cut rate thanks to the nice customer service rep who took pity on us and probably couldn’t stand the sound of me openly weeping in the lobby.

So, we stayed at the Sheraton.

Keep in mind my suitcase is God knows where at this point. Once we checked it, that was it. Thankfully, my inner Girl Scout knew enough to pack a toothbrush and change of clothes for me and my kid in my carry on.  My husband only had a carry on, so he was set with a bag full of freshly laundered clothes and toiletries.  Note to self…. only travel with carry ons from this point on.

The next morning at the ass crack of dawn we trekked back across the street to check in to our flight.

Success!

Now the arduous task of playing ‘guess where my luggage is”.

I was directed downstairs to a baggage claim area to see if my bag was there. I followed directions and went downstairs only to be greeted by a huge wall with no entry to the other side of the wall, where I needed to be.

Befuddled, we looked for an entrance to the other side.  All we found were doors that clearly said “DO NOT ENTER… AUTHORIZED PERSONEL ONLY”.

Fearing we would set off alarms and make the six o’clock news, we stood there confused.  Between us we have 5 degrees. Getting through to the luggage area shouldn’t be this hard. This is 2015 and this is an international airport.  THIS SHOULDNT BE THIS HARD.

So, I grabbed the first airport employee I saw and begged for help.  “Sir, can you help me get to the baggage area?”.

“No, I don’t know how to do that. I work in the OTHER terminal”.

Are you shitting me?

Long story short, this employee took pity on us and let us through the do not enter door to the baggage area, where, at 5 am, no one was present to help us.

Frantically scanning the area, I spotted my bag. In an Indiana Jones like rescue attempt, I fetched my suitcase and booked it back upstairs to check it in.

Then came customs.

Sigh.

Normally customs and immigration is not a problem.  I am a Canadian/US Permanent resident with all of the appropriate documentation. I have nothing to hide and usually there are no issues.

Until today.

Sigh.

Really?

Buddy that helped us decided to do his job to the letter of the law, telling me I needed to be fingerprinted.  Apparently the other 16 times I’ve passed through customs without this being done, I was in flagrant violation of ruining the norms of American society.  I was told by said agent that if I wanted to be a member of U.S society, I needed to be fingerprinted.

(note….I’ve been poked, prodded, immunized, tested, re tested, and finger printed just to get my permanent resident card prior to this… you’ll be pleased to know that my tax paying, American History degree holding self is not only syphilis free but also here legally)

In an attempt to protect the border from the likes of LL Bean book bag toting me, I had to kindly remind  said vigilant officer which was my left and right hand as he had me place my palms on the biometric finger printing device.  He had me do everything short of the hokey pokey to pass inspection.

Don’t worry… all is well with national security.

Fast forward to our next flight where my son and I were seated in a windowless area right In front of the airplane lavatory while my husband enjoyed extra leg room upfront.

As a semi germaphobe, this seat was not optimal. I felt like offering a squirt of Purell to all those who passed me to go pee.

Sigh.

The flight attendant, hearing my tale offered me free vodka.  At 7 am.  As tempting as it was, I declined. I felt it necessary to remain sober and conscious for the remainder of the trip.

Sigh.

So, that, dear reader is my story.  Thanks for hanging in there.

Peace.

how stupid do you think I am?

Nothing irks me more than people who lie to me.  It is a complete and utter waste of my time not to mention an insult to my intelligence.  Especially if the lie is pretty transparent.  I mean really, who likes being lied to?

We’ve all done it. We’ve all told fibs to get out of certain activities or obligations.  Fair enough.  I am not about to dissect the many levels of fibbing and to justify when it’s ok to lie..  I mean, we tell our kid all the time Chick Fil A is closed for cleaning just so we don’t have to take him there.

I’m not talking about parental fibs or necessary protect-you-from-the-harsh-truth kind of fibs for a five year old.

I’m talking about people who can’t think fast enough to cover their tracks.

Exhibit A:
I texted you, but never heard from you.
Oh, I didn’t see my messages.
UM…. did you know that I have “READ” receipts on my messages. (not my doing, my iphone’s invention)
Yes, you read my &%%%# message.
Don’t lie to me.
*****************
Of course if you’re nice like me and wish to spare the liar further embarrassment, you play along, allowing them to save face.

Exhibit B:
I tried to call you all week.
UM… no you didn’t. I have caller ID and a call log.  There are no numbers related to your call in my call history.
Don’t lie to me
******************
Of course if you’re nice like me and wish to spare the liar further embarrassment, you play along, allowing them to save face.

I shouldn’t be so put off by bold face liars. Really.  But at least think enough of me to cover your tracks and concoct a plausible storyline.  Seriously.  At least give me that.

How stupid do you think I am?

the dreaded playdate

My son is five.  We’ve gone on the occasional play date, usually to the park with another mother and her kid, or at the pool with another kid and his mom.   The theme is… WITH ANOTHER MOTHER.

It’s nice to have adult company while the kiddos play.  It’s nice to be able to see what your kid is doing and if necessary, to have the other mother watch/discipline her own kid so you don’t have to do it.

Play dates with other mothers are nice.

But, now that my son is five, play dates are starting to look a little different.

Some mothers with kids this age allow their child to go to another child’s home without them for a play date.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, especially if you know the family.

I just don’t think I’m ready for it.

I still think my kid is a little boy.  I want him to be independent, but I don’t feel he’s old enough to know what to do when you visit someone else’s house (etiquette wise). He is an only child who has only ever been in daycare.  I feel he still needs me in close proximity to coach him on how to act at someone else’s house.  I can’t assume that just because he’s toilet trained that he ‘gets’ it…. and knows the dos and don’ts of being a house guest.

I look at summer day camps and I’m torn.  I don’t want him to have a boring summer. I want him to be around other kids, but I’m just not sure he could handle it.  I know a summer day camp is a far cry from a 2 hour play date at a friend’s house, but the underlying concern is the same; can he handle all the things I wait in the wings to help him with?

I know the right thing is to let him fly on his own.

But he’s five.

I think there’s time.

I must be doing something right because this is hard.  If parenting wasn’t hard, I wouldn’t be doing it right… right?

Peace.

Monday musings

It’s Monday.

So what else do you do on a Monday, but run a ridiculously long list of errands. And take your five year old with you. Of course.

It actually gave us something to do, and I was grateful for the outing.  We are suffering through a heat wave (I prefer to call it summer in the South) but the weather people call it a heat wave.  Whatever.  All I know is that it’s damn hot. DAMN hot.  Like melt the eyebrows off your face hot.

As a treat for being such a good helper, I took my son to our local splash pad.  It was a great way to cool off and to, well, just get out of the house.

Little did I know that modern parents have ripped pages out of Soap Opera Digest and US Weekly Magazine to name their children.

As I sat there watching my son play I was surrounded by shouts of micromanager mothers… “Holden, Maddox… Jaden STOP that, do this, don’t do that…”  “Isabella, Adrianna, Sophia…. come here”.  GOOD GOD.  Just because Angelena Jolie names her kid something doesn’t mean YOU need to do that.  You live in the rural south of America.  Your son, when he’s 45, will look ridiculous answering to the likes of Jaden and Maddox. Especially when  he’s working at the Piggly Wiggly.

I mean really. Whatever happened to John?

Anyway, each to their own, I guess.   But seriously… STOP MICROMANAGING YOUR KIDS!  Because by the time I get them in fifth grade they can’t think for themselves and then YOU complain about it and expect me to fix it. STOP IT!

Then there was our swimming lesson.

Good grief.

My son is learning to swim.  Of course, like anything new and challenging, he’s not having it.  After many tears and rounds of tough love, he swam the length of the pool.  It’s hard to sit there and shut your mouth when you a) know it’s the best thing for your son to let him cry it out and b) you want to go scoop him up, dry him off and take him to Dairy Queen to make him stop crying.  But, I powered through, shut my mouth and sat there letting the swim instructor work her magic.  And now he can swim. Go me.

I took a few minutes of ‘me’ time to give myself a pedicure.  It’s one of my favorite things to do. Wait, scratch that. Having someone ELSE give me a pedicure is one of my favorite things to do and I don’t get paid until next week, so a home pedicure it was. Plus, I have an OBGYN appointment this week and you may as well have nice toes as you’re getting your private parts inspected.  Just sayin’.

So, as I luxuriated my feet in my dollar store dishpan full of suds, I watched a daytime TV show host a wedding.  It was really nice, but as soon as the bride walked out I thought WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU ON WHEN YOU BOUGHT THAT DRESS? DIDN’T YOU HAVE PEOPLE WITH YOU… AND A MIRROR?  Seriously.  It was hideous.  And I’m sure very expensive. She looked like someone had TP’d her (toilet papered her).  Seriously.

Watching the whole thing reminded me of my wedding day (sans the TP esque dress and the fancy schmancy decorations).  I was never the kind who dreamed of a wedding.  In fact, I went wedding dress shopping alone, in sweats and a ball cap.  4 weeks before my wedding. I bought the first dress I put my hand on.  It currently sits in a Rubbermaid tub in my closet with liquor stains on it.  Whatever. I wasn’t much of a wedding enthusiast.

I mean don’t get me wrong, I like being married.  I just don’t feel you need to spend thousands of dollars on one day when you’re eventually going to be yelling at someone about how they load the dishwasher.  Really.  Why go into debt just to do that?  Needless to say we had a very low key wedding with the world’s worst photographer.  That is the ONE area I tell brides to be NOT to skimp on.  Our photog was hideous, bossy and horrible, so much so I considered reenacting my wedding photos just to get better pictures.  HORRIBLE.

So, I sat there watching these two lovebirds fawn all over each other, trying to remember what it was like to be a newlywed. We’ve been married ten years.  Not a lot compared to others, but more than a few Kardashian weddings combined.  I’ll take it.

As you can tell, from my random musings on this Monday, summer is a very slow season in this house, but, I’ll take it.

After surviving the Facebook gushing Father’s Day tributes yesterday, I felt I deserved to blow off a little sarcastic steam.  Seriously.  I tried to stay away from all the flowing tributes because having a dead father, well, it kind of makes you feel bad.  When you start wanting to post “JUST YOU WAIT” type of status updates to those lucky enough to still have a live father, it’s time to turn off the computer.   So I did.

So here I sit with perfectly pink toes, and nothing to look forward to tomorrow except the stay at home mom gig I’m currently on.

I’ll take it.

Peace.

summer time and the livin’ is easy

It’s summer. I’m on vacation. I’m getting a taste of what it’s like to be a stay at home mom. So far, in the span of one week I’ve chauffeured, entertained, cooked, cleaned, appeased… you name it.  It’s an ok gig but I still think work is easier with it’s predictable schedules and patterns.  Nevertheless I am trying to savor the time I have with my son.

Summer seems to be a magical time. Late, lazy nights.  Late lazy mornings.  A lot of nowhere to go and nothing to do.  A much needed respite from life.

Summer, with it’s lack of structure affords me a lot of time to think.  And, as I’ve learned about myself in the past few years, this is a dangerous thing.

I sit, with time to reflect on, well… everything.  I think about all the stupid things I’ve done, second guess the ok things I’ve done, compare and analyze everything from how I handled high school to the parent I’ve become.

Quite frankly, it’s exhausting.

I  need to stop.

Unfortunately, I see a lot of myself in my son.  I purposely try not to unload my vices and bad habits on him.  But somehow I think certain temperaments are inherited.  I dunno, I’m no expert.  I only know what I see in my kid.  I see a kid who looks before he leaps (literally, it took him a full five minutes to talk himself into jumping into a pool), who is sensitive (me), who analyzes to the death (me).  It’s not pretty.  I don’t even know why people buy mirrors.  They only need to have a child to see their true selves.

It’s a little daunting.

Soon I will travel home to visit my mother and grandmother, and if I’m lucky a friend or two from my formative years.  I will go home, put on a brave face and ignore the gaping hole left by the death of my father.  I will patiently sit and listen to my mother bemoan life; God bless her, I am one of the only solid supports she has.  I will sit and relive my childhood trying not to piss her off and leave a mess in the kitchen.   I will entertain my son the best I can, left to my own devices.  I will feel like I’m 12 again, inadequate and unsure of myself.  It’s not that I dislike going home, there are a lot of good things, but there are also a lot of memories that swirl up to the top of my collective memory.  That, coupled with the already heightened anxiety I feel about the push and pull of home, well, it’s not always something I look forward to.

The easy thing would be to not go.

The hard thing would be to not go.

So, I do it, put on a brave face, refill my Xanax script and carry on.  Isn’t that what all good daughters and mothers do? Pleasing others to no end, pretending to be solid and bulletproof.

Summer time and the livin’ is easy.

Or is it?

Peace.

ch ch ch changes

I’m sitting here on my first official day of freedom. No, I didn’t do hard time in prison, I’m a teacher. Then again….

I digress.

It’s summer vacation.

I’m also sitting here, alone in my kitchen reflecting. I dropped my kid off at his daycare for the last time today. He’s there as I scurry around and go to doctor’s appointments and run errands before vacation kicks into full swing.

He has been at this daycare since he was 9 weeks old. I vividly remember the first day I ever dropped him off. I cried and cried and cried.

And here I sit, 5 years later, still crying.

Where did time go?

I’m crying not because daycare is ending, I’m crying because I have no idea where the past five years went. I’m crying because we’ve hit yet another milestone and I feel like time is racing past us.  I’m crying because it’s getting real.. this whole school thing.  No longer is my kid playing all day, he’s about to enter a world of learning, assessments, mean kids on the playground and homework.

Simply put, he is growing up.

No, my kid isn’t the first to go to kindergarten.  But he’s my first, and he’s my only.

And we are about to close one chapter and open another.

And it’s a little scary.

Our nice little established routines are changing. We are about to enter the unknown.  The plan I put into place three years ago  (to transfer schools so I could teach at the school he will attend) is coming to fruition.  I am overjoyed, but I am scared too. Change has never been my forte.

So here I sit, savoring the last minutes and hours of our regular ‘routine’, looking ahead trying to wrap my head around embracing change.

Wish me luck.

Peace.

three little words

How.  Are.  You.

?

Three little words. So simple, yet when we ask them to someone, we often don’t really take the time to listen. How are you has become one of those pleasantries we exchange; a question we really don’t care to know the answer to.

But I do.

I care.

I try to ask people whom I know have been having a rough go how they are doing.

I try to remember to check in with people who have lost loved ones to see how they’re doing.

I try to be sincere.

I don’t ask to be nosy, I ask because chances are no one else asks, and no one else really cares.

It’s nice to be asked how you are and for a person to really mean it.

I don’t get that luxury.

Peace.

regrets… I’ve had a few

I’ve been thinking a lot about regret.  Such a futile thing to do, I know.  However, I’ve been thinking about regret.

Three years ago, in the depths of emotion and shock over losing my dad so suddenly and tragically, I acted in a very not so nice way toward a family member.

It’s a long story with a sordid history.  Let me just say at the time I thought I was doing the right thing by shielding my grieving mother from a potentially awful situation (one that would compound her grief and add more stress to her life at the time).

I acted like a mama bear for my mama.  I felt like her protector was gone and I had to step up.  I circled the wagons, armed my arsenal and in the process was very rude and offensive to a family member.

I was not on good terms with said family member before the incident, hence my actions.  Obviously calling to apologize is not an option.  And I’m not sure I really want to apologize, given that person’s actions as well.  However, my being a good Christian Catholic guilt is getting the best of me.   I wonder if I simply should have let the incident play out.

But I didn’t.

I can’t turn back time (I’m not Cher….)  but I can’t help but feel a sense of remorse for my actions.

Should I attempt to reach out, or let sleeping dogs lie?

I just don’t know.