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.

perspective

As 2014 draws to a close I am silently exhaling a sigh of relief that the holidays are also drawing to a close. Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Scrooge or a Grinch.  I am just tired. So very, very tired.  And sad.

The holidays, for me, from the time I’ve been a teenager have been a huge spotlight on dysfunction and loss.  Christmas, while always celebrated and traditions always kept, has been a mixed bag for me.  I remember Christmases where my parents fought. I remember Christmases after my grandfathers died where my parents did their best to carry on and make it as nice as they could for their respective mothers.  I never wanted for anything.  So Christmas was not unkind to me.  It just was, and continues to be, a time of high emotion.

I sit here tonight, exhausted from traveling 9 hours to see extended family, wondering how my husband, son and I will ring in the New Year.  Fifteen years ago I was with another man in Times Square ushering in the Millennium, a boy whom I would have followed to the end of the earth. Until he told me he never loved me and never would.  (of course that was much later, not on New Year’s Eve).  It was my first real love and my first real heart break.   There won’t be such excitement tomorrow night.  I’m sure I’ll spend my first few moments of the new year fast asleep in my bed curled next to my husband and four-year-old.  And that suits me fine.

As I think about the year ahead I am a little daunted by the idea of a blank slate.  365 unwritten days.  Who knows what lies (or is it lay?) ahead?  Of course, a rational person knows you can’t sit around worrying about the ‘what ifs’,  but for an anxious person like me, the idea of a blank slate is downright frightening.

An old college acquaintance of mine isn’t so lucky as she faces the new year.  She is dying of colon cancer.  Today, she and her husband told their 6, maybe 7 year old daughter that mommy is dying.  It is a task I can’t imagine.  It is a situation I pray I am never faced with.  My heart is heavy for her and her family.  I am ashamed that I complained about having to visit in-laws for four days over the holidays.  I am ashamed that I ‘think’ I have problems.  I don’t.

And that is why I want to work really hard, starting in this very moment, to put my life into perspective.  To show more gratitude.  To let the small stuff slide.   I don’t want to make it a new year’s resolution.  That denotes that in 365 days I will be ‘cured’ of my lack of perspective.  I think this is something you have to work on each and every day.  More thanks.  Less complaining.

So as I sit here, ready to close the book on 2014 and open a new page for 2015, I am reflective, humble and just a little overwhelmed that I am lucky enough to see another new year.

With gratitude and peace.

 

 

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.