25 January 2010

I've Never Been Good On a Unicycle

I'm starting to realize that, to my dismay, I'm not so good at the whole balance thing. I'm okay at walking a straight line without falling off. I'm pretty good at staying on a two-wheeled bike. But that's pretty much where it ends.

This has become especially apparent in the last year and a half, since I went back to work part-time after being a stay-at-home mom for fourteen years. I'm either all in at work and I'm right on top of everything, but my house is a disaster and all my kids are out of clean underwear, or my house is spotless and my family is fed but I'm overwhelmed and way behind at work. There was one time that I thought I was balanced but then realized that in truth, I was doing equally badly at both work and home. I wasn't doing anything well, and that's not exactly the kind of balance I'm looking for.

In the past couple of months, I've found that I'm also not great at finding balance with friendships, and this is a hard one for me. For one thing, I get really attached to people. When I become friends with someone, I am in it all the way. I give all of me to that friendship. And it took me a long time to understand that not everyone is like that. It's much easier for other people to be "casual" friends than it is for me. Also, I have been betrayed quite a few times in the past when it comes to people I've considered my "best" friends. A few times, that has been a very blatant betrayal, but most of the time it has consisted of just allowing the friendship to become distant, or consistently cancelling plans last-minute, or just not devoting time or energy. Either way, I have ended up really hurt, and this is something I'm still dealing with.

Two things have come from this realization, and I'm trying to figure out what to do with them. The first thing is that I find myself being over-sensitive to things. It's almost as though I expect for friends to hurt me, so I caution myself and then watch for it. The second is that I sometimes distance myself. I over-compensate for my tendency to get attached. I stop myself from getting too close. I put up a wall.

I don't want to do either of these things. Both of them are unfair to me and to my friends. Even writing this, I know, for all the world to see, puts me in a bad light. I'm not painting a very pretty picture of myself. But it's true, and I'm putting it out there. I don't want to be this way anymore. I don't want to be over-sensitive. I don't want to put up walls. I want to just be who I am and let my friends be who they are. If I can't figure out how to do that, I'll alienate the amazing friends I do have, and I'll end up lonely and bitter.

So I'm trying. I'm working on it. Sometimes, I'm going to fail. But I have confidence that eventually, I'll find the balance I'm looking for. My friends are so incredibly important to me, and I won't risk them. I'm going to learn how to balance my baggage with my hope and faith. Yep, I've got baggage. But "I'm looking for baggage that goes with mine."

20 January 2010

Tall, etc.

My son E. is a Freshman in high school. He's always been incredibly smart, able to understand concepts and facts that boggle even my mind. It has always been easy for him to ace his tests and do well on quizzes and breeze through his homework, though he's often been incredibly lazy and avoided schoolwork at all costs. As a result, we stay on top of him every second.

Yesterday, when I asked him if he had homework he said that yes, he had history homework. I told him to go do it, and he groaned but went to his room. Less than five minutes later, he was back out, telling me that he was finished. I asked to see it.

He had to answer a few questions, and for most of them he did fairly well. And then I came to the question "What are the characteristics of Gothic architecture?" My brilliant, lazy son's answer? "Tall, etc."

Seriously? Tall, etc.? That's his answer?

I made him re-do it of course. I even pointed out some of the (very obvious) answers in his textbook. We talked about the thin walls, flying buttresses, tall spires and ornate construction that is typical of Gothic architecture. I offered to show him pictures from my trip to Europe, where I saw a cathedral that is a very good example of Gothic architecture. But no. He wrote a few things down and called it good, but I continue to be stunned by his level of laziness.



18 January 2010

Looking Forward

We're painting my daughter J.'s bedroom this week. She has had the same yellow walls and hand-painted teapot border since she was two, and now she's nearly eleven. It's time to say goodbye to the teapots and hello to a big-girl room.

Now don't get me wrong. I LOVED the teapots. I was so happy with that room when we finished it. And it's been a great room for her. But the time for teapots is over, and we're now making the transition to a room that will be great for her as a pre-teen and into her teenage years.

When I told my friend C. that we were re-doing J.'s room today, she made sad noises and asked me if I was so sad about leaving those little girl years behind. And truthfully, it was the first time that it occurred to me to be sad. This is a significant time for J.--as significant as when we bought her first bra or as when I started to talk to her about how her body would change in the coming years. This is a beginning of her being older. So why do I approach it head-on, as though the beginning is not also an end to the little blonde with curls and big blue eyes and rosy cheeks? Am I that cold-hearted?

J. was an angelic-looking toddler and a devilish little girl, sweet and tender-hearted and busy and mischievous. She has been so fun to watch as she grows. And there are times, when I look at pictures or video of those years, that I miss that little girl. But also, I look so forward to seeing her as a teenager. She'll be a handful, I know that. But I also know that she'll be the kind of girl that comes in from a date and climbs into bed with me to tell me all about it. She'll leave the house on school mornings dressed in crazy clothes because it's Spirit Week. She'll spend hours in the bathroom doing her hair and trying out deep pore-cleansing masks. She'll lock herself in her room and spend hours on the phone. And it will be, in addition to a complete pain-in-the-butt, heaps of fun.

I'm not rushing it. I'm enjoying every day of her being 10, and will enjoy every minute of her being 11. And 13. And 16. But I also enjoyed each day of her being 2, and 6, and 8. So I'm not sad about saying goodbye to that little-girl room, or those little-girl years. I'm holding onto today, and looking forward to tomorrow.

It may be a bumpy ride, but one of which I'll love every minute.

12 January 2010


I have never used an illegal drug in my life. I don't smoke. I have a beer or a glass of wine here and there, but it's become pretty rare lately. Every once in a great while, I have one mixed drink: my favorite, a vanilla Stoli and Frangelico on the rocks (with a splash of Godiva if I'm feeling really crazy!) on the rocks. And I'll drink a good Sangria whenever I can find one, but that's not often either so it hardly counts. I don't gamble. I rarely swear. My life is, when it comes to vices, pretty vanilla. My one problem has been pop. Or soda, for my friends on the east coast.

For a long time I drank mostly Coca-Cola. Not Pepsi. Not generic cola. It had to be Coke. While D. was in Iraq in 2005, I drank 2 20 oz. bottles of Coke every single day. I was addicted. And then the caffeine started doing things to my stomach and I ended up in the ER late one evening with what I thought could be appendicitis. Turned out my stomach was just rebelling against all that caffeine. (I won't even tell you what my teeth were doing with all that sugar!)

I'd been talking about giving up pop for quite a while. I knew it was bad for me, and the calories! Sheesh! But every time I tried, I would make it a day or so and I would need a hit. It was pathetic. After the ER visit, though, I decided to wean myself from Coke. I replaced it with Sprite, something caffeine-free and a drink I didn't love, thinking it would be easy that way. It worked. Sort of.

I stopped drinking Coke and in fact I tried it once a few weeks ago and couldn't stand it. It tasted like pure syrup to me. I haven't had it in over a year and I can't see myself going back. But I've been drinking just as much Sprite, or occasionally some Mountain Dew, as I had been Coke. So all I did was replace one addiction for another.

Now I know that the Sprite addiction doesn't make much sense. There's not even caffeine in it. It was purely a psychological addiction. If D. was away and I was finally settling down for the night with some me-time, I couldn't wait to pour myself an icy glass of Sprite. If I was stressed at work, I needed some Sprite to help. There was something about the sugar rush and the carbonation that just made me feel better. But again, I knew how bad it was for me. And I don't really want to be ADDICTED to anything.

Just before Christmas last year I got a bad case of strep throat. And I couldn't drink pop at all. The bubbles really hurt my throat. It was 3 days before my throat felt well enough to try it, but I thought...ok, I'm 3 days in without any. This is a start. So I stopped drinking pop. No pop. At all.

As of today, it's been three weeks. And I'm actually doing okay. It hasn't been nearly as hard as I thought it would be. I've been drinking a lot more water, which is good for me as well. I'm setting a good example for my kids on how to live a healthier lifestyle. And it feels good that pop doesn't have the hold on me that it used to. I'm glad I did it, and I know that this something I can keep doing.

But truthfully, I'm a little resentful. It was my one vice, and I'll miss it. Maybe I should think of a new one....any suggestions? :)

09 January 2010


This weekend D. is away and we have no big plans. In fact, I don't even have to work on Sunday like I usually do. My plans for this two days at home with the kids with the roads covered in snow and the temperature below freezing, is to lock myself in the house, stay in my pajamas, and do nothing. Maybe I'll stay in bed and read. Maybe I'll lie on the sofa and watch all the shows I have DVR'd. Perhaps I'll rent a chick flick, bury myself in the recliner and a couple of blankets, and cry my eyes out. Sometimes you just need a lazy weekend at home.

The thing that worries me sometimes, though, is that I want to do this each time D. is away, which is once or twice a month. I want to take the time to just, well, hibernate. But in a few months, he's leaving. He's going to be gone for a year. I can't be a hermit for a year. I can't hibernate every weekend. I can't lock myself in the house every day and stay in bed for a year. It's just not going to work.

I'm not against taking time for myself. In fact, I'm all for it. And for the last several years I've been determined not to lose myself in all the things that are such a part of being a mom. So I do take time to myself, all the time. I go out with my friends. I lock myself in the bathroom and take a hot bubble bath if I've had a stressful day. I take some time on my days off to do my own thing for a while. I take care of myself. Everyone should.

But what I'm wondering is: is this healthy me-time that I'm spending while D. is away? Or is this me not wanting to face the world? Is this me feeling alone and tired of the routine and just trying to avoid life?

I'm not sure what the answer is. But it's something I'm aware of. It's something I'm going to watch. And to those of you who know me in real life, if D. is away and you don't hear from me or see me for a while, come pull me out of my bear den and make me socialize! Consider this permission.

08 January 2010

A New Start:

Why a new blog? What was wrong with my old blog? I don't know, actually. It's a time for new beginnings, I guess. I wasn't writing, even though I wanted to. I wasn't able to come up with interesting blog posts or things to keep your attention or witty remarks. I was stuck.

But one of my desires is to share the journey we'll go through from now, preparing for D.'s deployment later this year, into the time he is away, and once he is home. We've been through this before, though this time will be much different for many reasons. But one thing I've learned is that I HAVE to be honest about the things I'm going through: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

So here goes!!