going blind, sleeping soundly, and other weird ass changes

I turned 45 the other day. It seems very old to me when I think about the number. But It’s creeped up on me slowly and I don’t mind it, I don’t mind getting older. It’s kind of nice. So for my 45th birthday, here are some thoughts on the biggest changes I have observed in getting to be a middle aged lady.

I used to worry a lot about others opinions of me. Not so much anymore. I mean it’s certainly important to me that I am a kind person. But if others don’t like me, well, at this point I realize there isn’t a whole lot I can do about it. In my younger days, I would say something dumb and obsess about it for hours, days, weeks, even years. I don’t do that anymore. I still feel embarrassed when I am clumsy. But I’m clumsy, so what? I am still appalled when I find I have been walking around with food on my face for hours, but I am fine to just laugh and wipe it off. And if someone is cold or rude to me, I pretty much roll my eyes and move on. So that’s a good thing.

But there are other changes, ones I didn’t expect and continue to surprise me.

I guess you imagine what getting older might be like and then you are in it and the changes aren’t exactly what you thought they would be. I am often caught off guard by the age on my face, in my skin. But it doesn’t scare me or freak me out the way I imagined it would.

Going blind, now that is something I am struggling with. I was reading a menu a few years ago and I wondered why it was so blurry. It was weird. I actually believed the menu itself was printed in a blurry way as some sort of hipster cool effect. I was annoyed with that menu and that hipster eatery. Someone suggested that maybe it was time for some readers. I scoffed. I have perfect vision, you fool. I do not need glasses. I have never needed glasses. My eyesight rocks.

And then it got worse.

And all the menus got blurry.

And I finally went to the eye doctor. I got glasses. And then another, stronger pair.

And then I ended up buying some readers.

And more readers, because I need them all the time now. I need about 10 pairs of those stupid readers sprinkled around the house so I can see.

I am not wearing them now. I have no idea what I am typing. Thank god I am a good typist because I cannot actually see the words I am typing.

It sucks. I mean it seriously, really sucks. I notice how much worse it’s getting.

Wrinkles, no problem.

But losing my perfect vision sucks.

When I wake up in the morning or stand up after sitting a long time I feel like the tin man and all my joints are achy and I think for a minute what it will feel like in 10 years or more. I suddenly understand why elderly people move so slowly. I can taste what that’s gonna be like and it scares me a little, just a little.

I used to have insomnia. I would stay awake for hours, watching the ceiling fan turn. Or I would get up and watch TV or read. I would finally fall asleep on the couch and wake up in a daze from lack of sleep. It was a major problem and something that caused me a lot of anxiety.

Lately, over the last few years, I cannot get my body into any sort of lying down position without falling asleep. Now, I can fall asleep in like five seconds. The harder I try to stay awake, the more quickly I fall asleep. Tonight I had an hour between parenting duties and I plopped down on the couch for an hour of netflix. I watched about four minutes of NCIS before I fell asleep. What the hell, it’s like I am a sleeping machine? It’s kinda awesome. I mean, sometimes it’s annoying in the theatre or at a movie I paid good money to see. Perhaps it’s an age thing, maybe I am just exhausted. But it’s so much better than insomnia.

Also, I am a morning person now. I used to hate morning people, with their good cheer and stupid, smiling good morning faces. My mother was a morning person and she was the most annoying morning person in the universe. When I was a teenager, she would come bouncing in my room with her good morning glow and I would imagine myself punching her in the face. But now, I get up so early that I often go running in the dark before the sun comes up. And I love the mornings. It’s my favorite time of the day. Then I go bouncing into my kid’s rooms singing my good morning song. And they hate me for it, which makes me smile even more.

Who am I? Where did the night owl go that I spent the first half of my life being? Who is this weird person taking over my body?

Oh and something else that is changing, I just cannot fight anymore. I just can’t do it. I have had a couple of brief relationships since my divorce where there were some passionate fights. I really hated it. The fighter in me is dying. I just don’t want to be that person. Fighting is yucky and I don’t don’t want anyone in my life I have to fight with. Except my kids, I still have to fight with them. It’s my job. I hate it but it’s gotta be done. Otherwise, fighters just aren’t welcome in my world anymore. I’m cool with talking things through but angry fighting, that shit just can’t happen anymore.

I am happy to report that I am way too old for that crap.

Finally, the observation of aging that continues to surprise me the most is just how much I still need my mommy. I am 45, a certified grown up and I absolutely need my mom. Maybe more now than I did before. Because she has been gone so long my perspective may be warped on this, but I long for her. That certain kind of love that only a mother can provide, or at least a mom SHOULD provide. The nice part about this “Mommy needing” observation is that it helps me get through some of these rough spots with my three kids, two of which are selfish teens. It reminds me that even though they can be real dicks sometimes, they need me. They will always need me and the love I am giving freely is incredibly important.

So that’s my list for today. Now I have to get to bed, it’s way past my ole lady bedtime.

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My mother and I, probably Spring of 1971.

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Gratitude and other thoughts

I read a blog the other day that was a diatribe against the “everything happens for a reason” statements. Someone dies and people say “she is in a better place” or “God has a plan”, or “She is at peace now”. I always thought that was bullshit but the blog articulated it really well. It got me thinking.

Over the past three years I have asked myself often if walking away from my marriage was a mistake. I try to avoid that thought pattern because I did leave and there is no turning back and I like myself so much better now than I did three years ago. I am comfortable in my skin, present, content, introspective…all the things I want to be and some things I hope to be someday and haven’t quite reached yet. So it’s good, I am good. There are lots of lingering feelings of sadness and regret and loss, I am exhausted all the time from working full time, managing a household alone, raising three kids and just living life. I struggle with watching another woman raise my kids in the home I once loved. It’s hard but I am doing it and learning and growing. In return I love who I am now, how I feel about myself and what I have managed to accomplish…on my own. I have great kids, a wonderful life.

So was it worth it?

Did everything happen for a reason?

Who gives a shit? It did happen. It is. And now I am living this life. Because it happened.

I think you can’t know things until you get to those things. The path you choose leads to discoveries. Maybe the discoveries are different than the ones you may have made had you chosen an alternate path. But I don’t want to think too much about that. It’s a waste of time and energy and frankly my time and my energy are limited.

I went on an official visit to a local University last weekend with my daughter. It was a pretty amazing experience because I didn’t visit colleges when I was a graduating senior, I went to a local Junior College. So it was cool to do that as a parent with my daughter. There were many moments of complete pure presentness over that weekend, moments of “this is amazing and I know it is and I am feeling it with all my cells”. I know three years ago I struggled a lot with that type of “being present”. If I hadn’t had so much suffering over the last three years maybe I wouldn’t be able to be fully present in moments like I am now.

But am I grateful for the pain so that I could be this fully present?

Um, no. That’s dumb.

I don’t know if three years of aging and living life might have led me to exactly this type of being present had I not gone through this shitty, hard period. You just can’t know anything about your journey until you are in it.

I have always felt this way about people who give bullshit advice.

I felt it when I was getting married and people would say, “enjoy this time before you have kids, you will miss it when it’s over”.

Or when I was pregnant and people would say, “having kids is going to change everything”.

Or “enjoy them while they are young, this time is precious.” Of course I see it now. But I couldn’t see it then, knee deep in dirty diapers and desperate for three consecutive hours of sleep.

So, I guess I am saying, you just can’t know things until you reach them and you just can’t feel things until it’s your time to feel them. Life is not some scientific equation where the goal is to solve for X.

You move through life and you go where you are heading based on the choices you make and you try to be present and happy and grateful, you try to find peace and love and a little joy along the way.

I am not grateful for pain and suffering so I could be grateful for the beauty I have in my life today.

I am simply grateful for the beauty I have in my life today.

I had one of these overwhelmingly grateful moments while I was driving home from the visit last weekend; my daughter was asleep in the car next to me. She’s always sleeping. Teenagers are always sleeping.

It’s so cute. (NOT)

So I am driving. And it’s finally sunny after a weekend of constant thunderstorms. The window is down a little and a good song is playing on the radio. I look over at her, her sweet, sleeping face and I am completely overwhelmed by the love i feel for her. It’s so much, i feel tears dripping down my face.

I have always loved her. My daughter.

But the love gets bigger. I didn’t know that. I didn’t know it would get bigger as time went on.

I suspect it will keep on getting bigger, but I won’t really know that until I get there.

It’s not bigger because she hated for me a while and i thought I might have lost her forever.

It’s just sweet, pure, beautiful, wonderful love. It’s gigantic. And I am so grateful to feel it.

And i think about my mom and I realize how much she loved me. I feel that loss for a minute. I feel deeply the missing of my mom’s unconditional love, especially now that I understand how much bigger it got for her too.

But you won’t hear me trying to explain that to people, trying to get them to understand something they can’t understand until they reach that point in their journey…if they ever do.

I don’t know if everything happens for a reason. I don’t know why people spend so much time trying to make sense of things or find meaning in pain. I have definitely tried to do that too. I don’t want to do that anymore.

I don’t know what it means.

I don’t think I care.

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My daughter and I.

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

In a few weeks, it will be eight years since you left us. Not by your own choice. I am certain you didn’t drift off peacefully but rather went kicking and screaming and fighting into the other realm…wherever and whatever that is. I bet you were pissed. To die. Knowing you, I am sure you were pissed.

So I have been thinking about you a lot lately. I’ve always thought of you but lately,  I have been thinking about you in a new way, a more peaceful way, reflective I suppose.

You know when you cook something and you can’t really taste it? You are too in it. The ingredients are too much a part of you and when you taste it, it’s always the same, you don’t notice the taste of it. You have to call someone into the room to taste it and tell you what’s missing?

Yeah, I am comparing grief to cooking. It’s a stretch, I know. That’s how my brain works. I blame you.

But losing you was too much for me to understand. I certainly felt the loss. Every single day. Some days I felt it so much, I was so in it…I couldn’t grasp what I was feeling. I couldn’t “taste” the loss…it was so much a part of me.

But lately, I have been grasping, deeply, the loss of you.

I have been needing.

Something.

You.

Only you.

Only the thing which you possess.

Stay with me and I will try to illustrate exactly what I am trying to say.

There is a thing that a good mom provides.

Now, let’s be honest. You weren’t always a “great mom”. You made some mistakes. Some of your mistakes were gigantic. I am not mad at you. I am 44 years old. I get your journey, your imperfections, and I forgive you completely. I know you did your best. I know it with all of my heart.

But here is why I know, now, eight years later that you were truly a good mom.

Because I need a soft place. I need a place where I will always be welcome. Where I can go, and be comforted, loved, cared for. I need to go to a place where I can crawl up, rest my head, pour out my heart, let down my defenses and just be. I need that thing. That place. That comfort. That safeness. That acceptance.

I need that love.

That only a mother can provide.

(Maybe Dad’s provide that too but that hasn’t been my experience.)

I will be ok, Mom.

You made me strong. I will survive without it. I will. Absolutely.

But I miss it. I miss that “thing” that you provided…that I didn’t even know you were giving me.

I was too in it when you died. I couldn’t “taste” it. Back to the cooking analogy again.

But I taste it now. I feel it now.

That loss. That need that cannot be filled.

For my mom.

Mine. My place. My safe place.

Because giving that to your kids is what defines a good mom.

Not whether you volunteer at the PTA, or cook from scratch, or breastfeed, or never lose your temper, or remember to sign permission slips, or are always emotionally or physically available, or never ignore your kids when you should be paying attention, or all the other the other things we moms put pressure on ourselves to accomplish and label ourselves failures for not doing.

It’s really this. This thing. This impossible to describe thing even when using a bad cooking analogy.

This mom thing.

This safe place. This comfort. This acceptance. This soft place where you are welcomed and loved and supported.

Your place.

Your mom.

Yours.

I miss that.

Eight years later.

That’s what I miss most.

Your will had a note to me. Apologizing. For your mistakes. It pissed me off at the time because I wasn’t holding grudges and it made me crazy that you actually thought you had to apologize. Still. After so many years.

So I wanted to write and say, thank you for being a good mom.

You were a very good mom.

Love,
Your daughter

Getting Old is Awesome

Hey, got you with that title, didn’t I?

Ok, so getting old isn’t really awesome overall. My back hurts, I have a muffin top, “the girls” sag too much and my energy is lower than it used to be. For someone like me, who stays in constant motion, that’s hard.

But generally, there are some things about growing older that make all those things worthwhile.

As I reflected back on the year, as we all tend to do…I discovered that I’ve actually learned a lot…that I kinda like what I have learned…I discovered some good things over this past year, my 44th and the beginning of my 45th.

So, here is my list of the TOP TEN THINGS I LOVE ABOUT GETTING OLD:

10) I don’t have time for that shit.

You know the shit I am talking about…the gossip…the cattiness…the negativity.

Not only do I not have time for it, I am no longer afraid to say it. I have reached the ripe old age of,

“Hey, ms. negative gossip girl over there…just shut the fuck up, ok?”

Drama, you like a little bit of that drama? Then I want nothing to do with you. Bye bye.

I don’t gossip. I don’t support gossip.

I don’t have time for that shit.

9) I feel better when I exercise.

I used to see exercise as a necessary evil, something I did to stay skinny and strong but not something I really enjoyed.

I am not sure if I would go so far as to say I enjoy it, but I am certain that I feel better when I exercise. And now, after ten years of running I can definitely say it’s something I need.

I think everyone should find some form of exercise and stick to it and they will likely realize they feel better when they exercise too.

8) I really don’t like getting drunk.

I have spent some time as a party girl. Then I spent some time completely sober, trying to figure out why I always had to be the drunkest, loudest, funnest person in the room. Now, I drink when I feel like it. And since going back to drinking, I have been drunk… never sloppy disgusting puke drunk…but rather drunk enough to not drive and to feel like hell the next day, probably five times.

I don’t like it. It’s really not all that fun while it’s happening. And I feel crappy the next day, mentally and physically. Drinking too much, even a little too much, is depressing.

For 2015, I am going to avoid getting drunk. Not because I have to but because I want to.  I really don’t like how it makes me feel.

7) Everyone has imperfections.

The more people I know, the more I realize that all of us are struggling to be happy, to be present, to be at peace. I think life gets significantly more clear, easier, when you realize that. All humans are flawed. I am more drawn to the seekers, the people who are striving to find the sweet spot of joy in the present moment. I prefer those people to the ones avoiding pain by sitting in their lazy-boys watching TV all day. But all of us, almost all anyway, are doing the best we can with what we have.

6) I really like sex.

Yeah, you weren’t expecting that were you? But seriously, I like sex. Not with just anyone. But I like it. A lot. I really like sex with someone I love, I like it even more with someone I trust. But sex is a beautiful expression of love, it’s fun, and when I find my lifetime partner, they are gonna have to like sex too. I need a partner that is comfortable with their sexual selves. Cause, I like sex. And that is perfectly healthy and good and nothing to be ashamed of. (I used to think there was something weird about that, loving sex and not being afraid to say I love it, I was wrong…it’s good.)

5) I am unusually forgiving.

I have seen some ugly shit in my life so far. And I really don’t hold grudges. I forgive easily and completely. I don’t even need an apology to forgive. I have “learned to accept the apology I never received.” My therapist says this trait worries her a bit because she wants me to forgive for my own mental health, while holding onto the truth of a person, or a situation, etc…and I hear this and know it’s true. There are all sorts of reasons that I am this way, all this childhood crap. But it’s who I am. I am forgiving. Once I let go of something, I let it go. Forever.

On the flip side, I have discovered there is only one thing I find truly unforgivable.

Intentional cruelty.

People who set out to be purposefully cruel. Those people. I will not forgive them. Or perhaps forgive isn’t the right word. I have no trouble holding onto the truth of those people.

I have known exactly four of those people, possibly five, in my lifetime.

I have a place in my soul where my love for these four resides. It’s locked tight. I have thrown away the key.

Those people, the four, I have learned so much from them. They taught me to be more careful. They taught me to listen to my instincts.

Letting go of the injustice and frustration and anger, is difficult but certainly not impossible.

I want nothing to do with them. Ever again. They are dead to me. I didn’t know I was like that.

I am.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Well, I disagree. I think the road to hell is paved with bad intentions.

Bad intentions people can kiss my grits.

4) I am a happy person.

Reading this blog, it might seem like the opposite is true. But it’s more likely that I write from pain. When I am happy, which is a LOT of the time, I am too busy being happy to write about it…although sometimes I do. But being happy, peaceful, laughter, joy, these are my absolute favorite things. I want more of this in my life in 2015. Life isn’t a bowl of cherry’s…blah, blah, blah…but generally being happy comes naturally to me. I love to make other people happy. I love to be fun, to have fun, to feel joy. It’s easy to get caught up in the minutia of life and forget your fundamental self. I forget what a free spirit I am. I am going to try not to forget again.

3) Parenting is the hardest and most important thing I will ever do.

God, I love my kids. I mean, I love, love, love them. I don’t need to explain this to other parents. They get it.

I found a greeting card recently that said on the outside “being a parent” and then on the inside it said “is like being pecked to death by chickens”. The picture was really hilarious.

When I paid for it, the woman behind the counter said, “it’s our most popular card.”

I replied, “of course it is, I am not the first person to be pecked to death by chickens” and we laughed.

Parenting is nothing like being pecked to death by chickens. But it is hard. Because of the love. Because it matters so much.

The desire to give your children all they need to grow up and be reasonably productive human beings who love you and forgive you for your mistakes is pretty overwhelming.

It’s hard. I don’t think anything is harder or more important.

“If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much.” Jackie Kennedy

I believe she is correct. Completely.

That pressure is enormous.

And worth it.

Peck me again, little chicks.

Keep on pecking. I can take it.

2) I know what my issues are.

I used to think I was needy. I was actually just insecure, but more on that later.

I was in a marriage, with a good man. A kind man. A stable man.

Who wasn’t in love with me.

My need for his love, for connection, for passion, nearly destroyed me.

And it caused me to believe I was incredibly needy and impossible to satisfy.

Since the separation, over two years ago, I have made a wonderful discovery.

I am not needy, after all.

I don’t mind being alone. I enjoy my own company. I don’t scare easily. I can travel alone. I can go to the movies, dinner, the theatre alone.

I have some other issues. But neediness isn’t one of them.

But my real issues, the ones that are problematic, that keep creeping back into every relationship…I know what they are.

I can be secretive when I feel controlled.

I can easily slip away, into my head and become unreachable.

I default to anger, always, when I am not actually angry but hurt. Certain situations can shift me into super scary rage. That’s a problem. A major one to work on. It doesn’t happen much any more but it’s still there.

And there are others, issues.

Being this age, being where I am right now in my life, it’s absolutely fantastic that I know myself this well, understand myself and my triggers and patterns.

Doing something about it…I don’t know if I can. I don’t know if I will. But the self-knowledge is there, the accuracy without judgment is new…a reflection of age, I suspect.

1) I am enough.

Parents who did their best but couldn’t give what their children what they needed, failed relationships, difficult children…these things can break you down, make you feel less than.

Somewhere in the past year or so I started to recognize the truth.

I am enough.

I am lovely.

Imperfect.

I talk too much.

Passionate.

Smart.

Difficult.

Withdrawn.

Funny.

Sexy.

Silly.

I am all of these things.

Good things.

Not so good things.

The sum of all of my parts is this:

I am enough.

And honestly, that’s the very best part of growing older…recognizing the truth of your enoughness.

It’s peaceful when you embrace it. Even if it slips away in some moment of depression.

It’s still there, the truth. And I will take every wrinkle in order to feel that.

Happy New Year.

On being a mom

I tell each of my kids that they are my favorite.

They know it. It’s something we laugh about. They enjoy it. And they know I say it to the other two.

Each one of them is my favorite.

My little one is my favorite to cuddle with, to chat with, to just hang out and play legos or Rat-a-tat-cat with.

My oldest, my girl, is my favorite to go shopping with, to watch movies with, to get our nails done and to have long conversations about life and relationship dynamics and friendship and surviving high school.

And my middle child, my mirror, my intense one…who was intense to be pregnant with, was an intense little baby, an incredibly willful toddler and now is a teenager…two years ago I might have secretly admitted that he actually was my favorite. I get him, in a way I don’t get the other two. We speak the same unspoken language. Or we did. Or maybe we still do, but I don’t want to speak the language he is speaking now.

The language of truth.

The language of hate.

My mirror hates me.

He has been angry since the divorce.

As he gets bigger, so does his anger.

As he gets smarter, so does his ability to verbalize the complexity of his anger.

He doesn’t want to come to my house.

He doesn’t want to live in two houses.

He wants to stay at Dad’s.

He hates my house.

And he makes everyone else miserable when he is here. Increasingly so.

Oh the things he says to me. It’s horrifying.

Unbelievable.

Unless you are a parent, then you know. Cause this is the part of parenting you can’t comprehend until you live it. No one warns you about this part.

The way a child can break your heart, in a way no one else can. Your children are a piece of you, they live inside you. It just is that way. And when they push hard enough, they can destroy you from the inside out.

And it’s hard.

A few days ago, when I was, once again, having the “please don’t talk to me that way, it’s disrespectful and it’s not ok” conversation for the 300th time he responded with:

“I hate it here, I don’t want to be here.”

And I said, “where do you want to be?”

“At dad’s, I want to be at Dad’s.”

And for the first time in over 2 years, I said ok.

And I took him back to his dad’s.

Where he stayed. Where he is now. I guess where he’ll be. Hopefully not forever, but possibly.

The other two assure me they aren’t going anywhere. They are fractured without their brother. But they promise me they won’t follow him. I hope they won’t.

There is a line in the play August Osage County where Barbara says, “Thank God we can’t tell the future, we could never get out of bed.” I think it’s certainly true of parenting. If you knew, in advance, how deeply you would love your children and how dangerous that love can be when your children hurt you…often purposely, would you do it?

Would you be a mom?

As I write this, with a heavy heart, the answer is still yes.

Absolutely yes.

Without a doubt, yes.

And when my favorite child is ready to come back, I will be here with open arms. To continue loving him up close.

Right now, I have to love him from a distance. Because that’s what he wants from me. It’s what he needs. I know he loves me. So I will wait.

That’s what being a mom is.

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A hug from my boy.

an ode to working mothers

When I started looking for my first full time job in 15 plus years, I knew things were going to change. For me, for my kids.

I called a working mom friend with four kids and asked,

“How do you do it.”

She laughed and said you don’t have a choice. You just do it.

“But how?” I responded.

I’ve always worked part time. My jobs have always been somewhat flexible. I have taken many a sick kid to a theatre to sit backstage during the show. I’ve done conference calls while waiting in the line to pick up a kid from school, hiding the phone on the dashboard to keep from being that jerk mom on the phone while in the parking lot of a school. I thought I knew what it was going to be like.

Less time.

And I have to hire someone to do what I used to do.

Ok, no problem. I can do this.

I can do it. I am doing it.

But it’s a problem. In ways I couldn’t foresee.

I am now three months into my full time job.

I’m on my third nanny.

Nanny one decided it was too hard to go to college and nanny 15 hours a week. We liked her but found someone else pretty quickly, thank GOD. The replacement broke her foot and is out for weeks. Nanny three is a miracle, a friend is unemployed and agreed to step in short term. I have no idea what we would have done. It’s ridiculous.

For the record, I can’t actually afford the nanny. I’m gonna be paying her off on my credit cards for a few years now.

That’s fucking hilarious. I am charging my nanny on a credit card.

It’s not factual, my nanny doesn’t take credit cards. She doesn’t have one of those iPhone credit card machine things. But I can’t afford her and the other expenses of living alone. So I overspend. Which is basically the same thing.

So childcare is hard.

There are no sick days in motherhood, I used to say.

It turns out there are sick days for nannies. Wimps.

(sarcasm, seriously, it’s sarcasm)

So onto less time. Less time? Yeah, I was totally prepared for the less time thing.

Are you freaking kidding me? What did I used to do with all my time. My lack of time has reached an all time low. Working mothers have no time. NO TIME AT ALL. I haven’t turned on the TV in weeks. Well, once I turned it on but I immediately fell asleep.

All my lovely, beautiful, amazing, stay at home mom friends who complain about how they just don’t have time for anything right now.

Shut the front door.

You have time. You have no idea how much time you have. Did you sleep seven hours last night? Did you go to the gym this week? You have time.

I knew childcare would be tough. Letting someone else drive my kids. Raise my kids. I expected that to be hard. I was right, it’s hard. No big surprises there. The unpredictable nature of childcare is what I didn’t predict.

The lack of time, I had a hard time imagining. I suspected it would be difficult and it is. Throw moving into the mix and you can forget about it. I have stuffed every closet with boxes cause I am sick of looking at them. And there is no way I am unpacking any boxes in the five seconds i have to sit down and write this blog. I don’t have time to write. And that’s poison for me. Writing, reading, being creative…these things nourish my soul. That’s not about time, that’s about feeding my spirt. And balancing that need and the lack of time is horribly difficult. It sucks. I haven’t figured it out yet. Maybe I never will until my kids are grown and that’s the trade off?

So the big thing…the thing I didn’t foresee, couldn’t predict…is how exhausting working full time can be.

Trying to build a career is hard work.

Yes, it’s called work. I get that. I knew it would be hard. I didn’t expect to sail through it, like some sort of super hero.

I get home, from a long day, maybe it was stressful, maybe i was working on a deadline all day, maybe I am behind on something, or struggling to figure something out. I worked later than i planned, I sat in traffic for 45 minutes coming home. I am late picking up one of the kids from practice, I am worn out. I am done. I have very little left to give my kids. I get home, I have to make dinner, I have to do chemistry homework with my teenager or help write the argument for debate with my son. Or play with my little one. A game, or cars or whatever. And i wiped out. The best part of me, it’s all used up. I have given it to someone else…a job.

This is not complaining. This is an ode. To all the moms who looked wearily at me as I whined about working fifteen hours a week while managing my “household” and I was just so overwhelmed.

Silly little me of the past.

The moms who do it, and do it well…you all are amazing. I am in awe. And my goal is to be like you. To figure it out. As well as it can be figured out.  Because it’s impossible to be all things to all people, the perfect mom, perfect employee, perfect partner. Right now, I am struggling. But I can do it. I know I can. I’ve seen you other moms out there, leading the way…managing successful careers, loving your kids as well as you can in spite of your exhaustion…showing up at the basketball meeting with your business suit on and still managing a smile and a pleasant discourse. You rock, you working moms.

In closing, I want to say that I realize dad’s work too. And single dads with custody of their kids, even half the time (like my former spouse) are dealing with the same stuff. There is no difference, assuming the work load with the kids is 50-50. I am being completely sexist in addressing this to mom’s only.

Cause I am a mom, and we mom’s stick together.

 

 

Teenagers

Don’t tell my teenagers I wrote this.

No, seriously…don’t tell them.

Have you ever seen an angry teenager?

Now multiply that times two. It could be really bad if they see this. I mean BAD.

I shudder to think of it.

I remember standing in an aisle at Target. I had a two week old and a two year old with me. My lady parts were still aching from the birth…I was still doing a bit of the straddle walk. My baby slept but only during the day so I hadn’t slept for more than an hour in weeks. My then husband had been out of town for weeks due to an unavoidable work crisis. And my two year old had just come down with “one of the worst cases I have ever seen” (doctor’s words) of something called Hand, Foot and Mouth disease. Who knew there was such a disease. I could have gone my entire life without knowing. She had blisters all over the bottoms of her feet, the palms of her hands and hundreds more inside her mouth. The doctor advised just to keep the baby away from the two year old, to which I replied through my tears, “How the fuck am I supposed to do that…I’m all alone here, asshole.” He gave me the name of several therapists. Thank you, doctor.

Suffice it to say, it was not a good day. Not a good day at all.

I was at Target to gather supplies for my toddlers horrific disease. She couldn’t eat much of anything and at two she weighed about 25 pounds. She was a tiny little thing and couldn’t afford to lose weight. I was sweaty and my head was swimming with fantasies of dropping both kids off at the nearest fire station. (I have heard you can do that, it’s totally legal.)

So I am standing there with bleeding mouth and her little brother sleeps all day and parties all night, trying to remember what I came there for. I may have been a little on edge. It’s possible I came across as slightly grouchy. A woman, about twenty years older, was nearby and she eyed my two little demons with glistening eyes and told me that I should enjoy this time with them.

“It’s so short. Enjoy every little moment.”

I may have replied rather curtly, “it better be fucking short.” It’s possible I used the F word. I wasn’t at my best that day.

She looked at me, shocked and said…

“You think it’s hard now, just wait until they are both teenagers. That’s when it gets hard.”

And with that she stormed off. I fought the urge to chase her down and punch her in the face. It was difficult but I managed it. I left the store, went home, survived that blip in the parenting radar and moved through all the other ones that followed.

Fast forward to now. Mr. Sleeps all day, Parties all night is 13. He still isn’t a big sleeper. He loves soccer and video games and school and his friends. He is incredibly passionate about things. The testosterone that flows through that kid on a daily basis is record breaking. I mean, he has some powerful boy energy. Get three or four like him in your car after soccer practice and you better bring some ear plugs and a big can of febreeze. It’s worse than a carload of giggling teenage girls.

Speaking of girls, little miss HAND, FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE is 15. She’s all woman now. At least her body is. Her mind hasn’t really connected yet to the powerful appeal of her fully developed body. Short shorts are in and she is clueless as to what message that booty hanging out can send into the world. My friends and I have discussed this period in our daughter’s lives. Bodies that have developed more quickly than the minds that inhabit them. It’s a dangerous time.

And Target lady who made me so mad that I wanted to punch her in the face I totally get it now. I hate that I get it, but I do. Those days were physically exhausting. These days are mentally and emotionally exhausting.

I plan a fun outing but my teens don’t want to go. When a teen doesn’t want to do something…good luck having any fun at all doing it. Force them to go and it will be miserable. Leave them at home and you feel guilty.

A teenager’s energy fills a room. If it’s negative energy and it often is (hello, hormonal changes) the ability to not be affected by it is pretty much impossible. I am working toward thicker skin but it’s a process. A very long process.

When they are mad at you….omg…it’s a lot to overcome. I remember hating my mother…hating her…the sight of her…the smell of her…her nagging, annoying voice. Not all the time, but some of the time, a lot of the time…from about 14-18.

That’s me now. I am that annoying, nagging, stinky, high pitched voice, mom.

My brain knows that’s my job. But my heart, my heart, my heart….it’s missing my sick little hand, foot and mouth toddler who practically suffocated me with her need to be close to me during that illness. Or my little newborn boy who could nurse for HOURS and smiled and laughed at 3AM while I watched Oprah for the second time that day. Anything to avoid the disapproving eyes of my teenagers.

Daughter: “Can you drop us off at the mall?”

Me: “what?”

Daughter: “The mall. Please?” (insert sweet smile)

Me: “But I had planned…” (seeing smile, the one I miss, the one I long for…her voice that I haven’t heard in three days because talking to your mom is totally lame and she is too busy texting or checking to see how many likes she has on her last instagram photo)  “yeah, sure”.

That’s my job. The nag, the driver, the tutor, the reminder, the annoying voice through the door.

I won’t even describe a conversation with my teenage son. Suffice it to say, he’s very intense. He enjoys challenging me…often. He gets under my skin like no one I have ever met. He is a lot like me. Full of fire and when that fire is directed at you, it’s tough not to get burned.

So yeah, teenagers suck.

But not all the time. Allow me to shift for a moment and say…

I love my teenagers. I do. I also like them, a lot of the time. I like watching them work through things in their minds. I like seeing them develop and discover and become. The are full humans now. Their energy is as big as an adults energy, perhaps even bigger. I can have real, deep conversations with them. They are beginning to understand the complexities of the world. We can discuss politics or gender stereotypes or sex. My daughter is learning to drive and that’s another source of anxiety and excitement. I can’t believe she will actually operate a motor vehicle and thank god she will because I can’t stand another year of spending three hours a day in a car driving them around. And my son is turning into a man, right before my very eyes and it is fascinating. He uses AXE body spray now. He enjoys chasing me around the house with a can of it, trying to spray me down. That little jokester.

SO don’t get the wrong idea from this anti-teenager rant. Generally, I think parenting is the hardest in whatever phase you are in and it’s also the most beautiful. I just happen to have two teenagers living in my house right now.

And it’s awful. And wonderful. And I hate it and I love it too.

That’s a pretty good description of parenting.

Lady at Target, I understand what you were saying and I get it. But I also think you were wrong. You were remembering things better than they actually were and we all do that. It’s always hardest when you are in it.

It’s easier to reflect and see the happy moments.

I look forward to reflecting on this house of teenager energy with rose colored glasses.

Besides, I still have a third child who wants to cuddle and tells me he loves me and will I play legos with him or swing him on the swing.

Thank God.