Saturday, April 09, 2016

now i realize why people spend a lot of money on things they could just do themselves

I have said this before: I need to go back in time and punch myself in the face. Before I was joking; now I am serious. Where did I ever get off complaining about not having any time? When I had the opportunity to grocery shop, do laundry, cook meals, clean the house, do yardwork, spend time with friends, see my family AND THEN SIT DOWN AND BLOG ABOUT IT?

My company acquired another one and is expanding faster than any of us can handle. I used to whine about having to work 70 hours a week, late hours, weekends, 24-hour call on salary. But now I have to do that and be a mother to a toddler at the same time. It's damn near impossible.

You guys have been reading this for awhile (ten years, some of you). You know how many times I was laid off and ended up having to start a new career from the bottom. Working that much was okay the first few years because I was so afraid of being downsized again. But at this point I feel like I traded my freedom, my ability to enjoy life and my sanity for that job security.

My kid is THE BEST. She is everything I ever hoped for in a child, and then some extra good stuff I didn't realize I could have wanted. She's kind to others, loves music, accepts only food that has flavor, watches/processes/applies, and at 17 months, she has been speaking in full sentences for several weeks. So many moments with her (except for when it's the middle of the night and she will not sleep), I want to sear into my memory because it's a beautiful flash in the pan that I will desperately try to re-create in my mind later when she doesn't want anything to do with me. And on that day, I will likely want to come back in time to today and punch myself in the face.

My house is a disaster. There are piles of clean laundry in various states of folded all around the house that often don't make it into the drawers before being worn and laundered again. Last fall, the retirees who live next door put up a tiny wire fence along our property line to keep the unraked leaves from our yard from blowing into theirs.

The grandparents pick the baby up from daycare and get to watch her discover she can walk up the stairs like a big kid, say things like her BFF Aubrey "is AMAAAAAZING," and do somersaults for the first time. We would be sunk without my parents.

We haven't put the trash out early enough for a few weeks in a row (can't the night before: raccoons), so next week the garbage collectors will find a month's worth of trash at the curb, plus two caved-in pumpkins that have been sitting around uncarved since October.

Jon and I are taking a week off of work at the end of April to send Ro to daycare (we have to pay for it anyway) and work on our yard, which never recovered from the guess-what-you-have-to-dig-up-the-entire-yard-for-new-pipes surprise a month after we moved in three years ago. What an abysmal staycation. We aren't even going to spend much extra time with our kid, and I will likely have to log in during the evenings.

I don't even really watch tv. We canceled the cable. I'll just let that sink in.

I started an interval training class at the gym six weeks ago. The 90 minutes a week I'm doing something for me are so great until I start feeling guilty about what I've *should* have been doing instead. The only other opportunity I have for me is staying up after everyone is (finally) sleeping, and lately I've been using it to work. That solution was great when I could find other time to catch up on rest, but when your toddler has yet to sleep through the night, those chances cease to exist.

When I do have the opportunity to sleep, I CAN'T sleep because that is the optimal time to worry. About my child and husband. About my brother. About my parents. About the sociopolitical state of this country. About work. About Global Warming. So I don't sleep. I don't want to get another job, where I'd have to learn something new in this condition as well as abandon all that I have been slaving away at for the last several years. I don't want to quit and make my child live in a box on the street because I couldn't cut it. I realize how tremendously lucky I am that I have so much help and support. I am grateful for all the blessings that I have. But I don't know what to do.

As I write this all out, it just sounds insane. It is insane.

Friday, October 30, 2015

i have seen the Wizard and he is wondrous

When I put in the order for Ro's birthday cake, and asked them to decorate it with a long view of The Emerald City, I was THIS CLOSE to having the inscription read:

"WE MADE IT, BITCHES."

Apologies to my cuss-sensitive readers, but I needed the emphasis. I went with "Happy 1st Birthday, Ro." The "we made it" sentiment will just have to roll down my face as I gaze upon her sitting in front of the cake in her grandma-made Dorothy costume with her plush Toto stuffed in a basket.

You know what we've been through, guys. This week will always be a bittersweet one. The first baby's due date was November 2, 2013. We laid her ashes to rest on October 29, 2013. And then we have our Rainbow Baby (this is an actual term for the one who lives after one who has been lost), Ro, who was born on her father's 37th birthday, a year ago tomorrow.

***

I took a week off of work to prep for this party, because this is MY PARTY, and I have come close to tears on multiple occasions, as is my RIGHT. Ro has no clue what's going on--she does refer to the dog as "Dodo," and will tolerate the ruby slipper slip-on shoecovers for a short time, but the cake, the balloons, the ridiculous mural painted on the side of an old refrigerator box; the pennant-style banner that I made with one-too-few letters and then had a mini freakout about? All that crap is for me. This is the pretend-Pinterest party that I had been thinking about all those months with her kicking inside of me, worrying that she may show up too early and not come home with us just like the first one.

No one else knows that terrifyingly disgusting feeling of water breaking too soon, the cerclage tied so tightly that what little walking I could do I did with a hobble, the horse-gauge needles stuck into my backside every seven days, and having to lie down and pray that the weekly ultrasound was going to say things were holding steady.

Medical people can conceptualize a pubic symphysis, but like my physical therapist, Kay, said (as she decided to treat me herself the first day she came to evaluate me and assign me to someone else) nobody can understand the agony of a separated pelvis like someone who's done it themselves (she did it running a marathon). Worse was the useless, helpless feeling you get when all you can do for your child is to sit in bed or a couch and desperately try to figure out nursing while your husband, mother-in-law and mom bring the baby to you and take her away to do all the diapering, bathing, walking around and other stuff you wish you could do. And it murders your hormonal heart when you go through all that to get the baby and she doesn't want much to do with you.

All that said, the scary pregnancy, the fiery hoops I had to somersault through, the horrible after-delivery recovery and post-partum rage (not officially diagnosed, but now that I'm far enough away from it, I'm pretty sure that's what I had)--ALL OF THAT was a cakewalk compared to how emotionally treacherous it was for me to go back to work and find I had to work twice as hard in two thirds of the time.

***

This is not to say that I think I had it any worse than any other parent. We all have our struggles. I have SO MUCH HELP, you guys. Seriously. My friends came to see me with food and love and support while I was on bedrest and when I was stuck at home. My mother-in-law came on the day after Ro was born and stayed to help for 12 days. My parents still come over every day. And my husband, he had to do much more than the average dad at the beginning. He does a lot more than the average guy today, too. Granted, he should be doing a lot for his own kid, but that doesn't mean it's not appreciated. I would never have dreamed to make it through nearly two years without all these people.

So we are having a party. I know I have bitten off more than I can chew. This week "off" was a lot harder than the usual working week. But I'm doing it for the 21-months-ago me, the 19-months-ago me, the 17-months-ago me, the 12-months-ago me, who didn't know if heartbreak was once again on the horizon, and especially the 3-6-months ago me, who didn't know if I could hold it together for another single minute, let alone months and years.

We made it, BITCHES.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

great hope

Many years ago, my brother (a long-suffering Cubs devotee) called me to say his lottery number was picked to purchase season tickets to the loveable losers. He didn't exactly have the extra thousands in the bank, so I gave him some money. Every single year, he tries to sell some of the seats to offset the rather pricey (in my opinion) cost, but for most games of the season, he couldn't even give the these tickets away. Until this year.

The Cubs are in the playoffs. Tonight they even ousted the hated St. Louis Cardinals. And I was there to see it. My brother could have invited any number of close friends to be his Plus 1, but he asked me, because he "wouldn't even have these tickets if it weren't for" me. Awww. 

It was exciting. I took the opportunity to get myself a Kris Bryant shirt and an Anthony Rizzo one for the baby plus a teeny skull cap that she calls her " 'at." My brother bought me a hot dog and a beer. As far as I was concerned, no matter how the game turned out, I was satisfied. 

Being in the stadium on the night they clinched the quarterfinal was absolutely magical. Madelyn lives a few blocks away and she could hear the crowd. Being in it, you could feel the energy coursing through the stands like a slow, rolling hum. And after that final at-bat, it was as if an earthquake hit Wrigley Field; the place just exploded. 

We hung around for awhile to see the players on the field and met up with my brother's friends at the Draft Kings--formerly Captain Morgan (I can't believe that fantasy football is so lucrative)--Club and walked around a little before getting into a cab. Wrigleyville apparently partied until the birds woke up.


It wasn't to last. The Cubs were eliminated in a sweep by the New York Mets in the next series, but for an evening, maybe even a week, my brother was so incredibly happy and hopeful. I will treasure the experience for always.



Thursday, September 24, 2015

vacation

I hadn't had a non-maternity-related time off of work in something like two years. We went to California for a week, and MAN was that nice. I was stressed about traveling with a 10-month-old, but she was a champion.

September 18, 2015. First time with her toes in the sand! Those swimming lessons paid off, in that she wasn't scared.

We spent some quality time with Jon's entire nuclear family enjoying cottages on the the most beautiful United States beach I have seen (Del Mar Resort within Camp Pendleton) in San Diego, then drove to Ventura (Jon's hometown) and met up with relatives and friends, and visited the resting place of our baby. 

Ro had a lot of firsts:
  • First time on an airplane (a few very brief rough spots, but she did really well and took a 1.5-hour nap)
  • First time eating In N Out Burger (only fast food she is allowed saved for the rare Portillo's treat)
  • First time in a long car ride (took us FIVE hours to get from San Diego to Ventura, but we had to make a 45-min pit stop due to a meltdown. Ro glares at us at the mention of "carseat" now.)
  • First time seeing the ocean
  • First time frolicking in the ocean (assisted) with her cousin, D
  • First time (helping Mommy) roast a marshmallow over a campfire for a s'more
  • First time sitting in the sand with Aunt and tasting it (the gross flavor and texture did not deter her from trying it again)
  • First time climbing three (!) flights of steps at her Aunt A's house completely unassisted (and with great vigor)
  • First time meeting her great-grandmother
  • First time staying in the "Penguin Palace" room her Aunt Madelyn made at her grandparents' house
  • First time eating sushi (she LOVED baked salmon and the seared tuna; the teriyaki chicken and rice were just ok)
  • First time going to the church her daddy grew up attending
  • First time eating guavas from the tree in someone's yard
  • First time petting animals (a bunny and a cat), and learning to say "cat"
  • First time going down a park slide (perhaps the daycare lady has taken her--but to me it was a first)
  • First time actually waving with purpose (favorite person to wave at is her grandma).
  • First baseball game at Dodger Stadium (next will be Wrigley)
  • First hilltop sunset overlooking the ocean (and remembering her sister)

There were probably more, but she had a blast. It was a really great trip we will cherish forever.  

 The Dodgers lost, but it was still a fun time. September 21, 2015. Ro: almost 11 months






Thursday, September 17, 2015

fruit and flowers

Jon, this anniversary (lounging on a beautiful beach) is going to be really tough to top. But even if the ones to come are full of laundry and homework, it'll be nice just to be together. I love you.

Photo by SecondPrint Productions
This was the best day of nonstop crying I have ever had. 




Saturday, September 12, 2015

uncle

Long before I had any babies, long before I got married, long before I even met Jon, I told you that I will teach my children to address you with the Hindi honorific for mother's brother: Mama. It doesn't sound correct in the U.S., where a lot of kids call their mothers "Momma," but I am beholden to tradition, and you're not just some chump off the street that our people would call "Uncle." You hated that idea. Feet were virtually stomped. Voices were raised. There may have even been a threat to teach my children any number of foul words if I made good on my promise.

February 12, 2015. Ro: 3.5 months, Brother 32.5 years.

And what has happened? She is tangible now. You've been looking into her eyes for the last ten months. Today, she could call you "boogerface doodyhead" and you'd still try to get the moon for her. She tries to say your proper name, brother, even if she can only manage the first syllable right now. And while the photo she likes to kiss most is her own (as well as any mirror she encounters), she finds yours the second-most kissable. The rest of us--you know, the ones who wake up with her in the middle of the night, handle her excrement-filled diapers and sing 40-animal-verses of Old McDonald at a time in hopes she will sleep--are still waiting for our photos to be so blessed.

That she does. May 17, 2015. Ro: 6.5 months.

I used to tell people I had an idea what it was like to be a parent because of the way I have always loved you. And now I can confirm that I was mostly right--the only thing missing with you was the gripping terror that I might do something to screw you up (that was for mom and dad to worry about). The first time Ro looked at me, kissed my face and said "Mommy" was the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. But every time I look over and see you holding her, with so much love between the two of you, my heart threatens to burst. Sappy. So, so sappy. And sloppy. But real. 

Being a Mama looks good on you. My wish for you is to find the fulfillment that you so very much deserve in all parts of your life. Happy birthday, brother.





Friday, August 14, 2015

37

Good God, where does the time go? Someone told me about parenthood, "the days are long but the years are short." Holy mango lassi, Batman, is that true. Time is just blowing by SO DAMN FAST.

Some days I'm so overwhelmed by all that I should be doing better that I don't have time to enjoy beautiful little things, like my nine-month-old (!) looking at me and saying "Hey, baby." It's true, "baby" was her first word. "Hey" followed soon after. Then "ball" and "go" and today she started saying "oh boy." She is also crawling like a maniac and pulling herself up on furniture and feeding herself with only 30 percent of dinner falling on the floor. Progress.

Ro cries for us at 1 a.m. on the dot every single night. And she has since she turned four months old (she slept through the night from newborn until four months). As somebody who cherishes morning sleep more than your average night owl, saying I don't mind waking up with her earlier than 7 a.m. is truly saying something. Jon and I actually compete to be there when she opens her eyes, because morning smiles are worth whatever metal is more precious than platinum.

***

It's tough to work full time and feel like a good mom. GUILT. However, no matter how you slice the money, we would be homeless if one of us didn't work. GUILT. The daycare lady who watches her is amazing, and my mom picks her up at 2 p.m. every day so she has grandparents time before Jon and I come home. That makes me feel a little better, but also makes it easier for me to get stuck at work later.

Jon and I work at the same place now. He gave me a birthday card designed for a coworker. I liked it better than a treacly one designed for a wife.

I usually don't talk about work, but I can't talk about life right now without mentioning that my truly horrible, miserable moments have all revolved around fear and self-doubt surrounding work (not to say there haven't been some rough mommy moments, too; these are just worse). It's a career that does not come easily to me--I've mentioned before that it's like being in a neverending calculus class, and I purposely majored in something for which statistics was the only math requirement. That said, I like the job. I just wish I were doing something my brain was designed for (I had been, until that industry went kaput, and I had a mortgage to pay).

When I was on maternity leave, they hired someone to the team who rocks the job as if she were born to do it. Two weeks after I got back they said we were both up for the same promotion; me having been there for three years and she having been there for three months. I'm not going to lie: That stung a little. Then they said they could only promote one of us. So the pressure is tremendous to step up my game while taking breaks to pump, getting very little sleep and refusing to work 75 hours a week anymore. On top of it all, someone else quit and we're all in over our heads with workload. I do think I would be better suited for a leadership role than what I'm currently doing, but I'm not sure what they're looking for me to do to get there. Besides, it was very clear while I was gone that I am perfectly replaceable. This whole thing has been stressful, but helped me to see that you can love a job, but it won't love you back. A family, however, will love you back in spades. But you do need money to give your family all that they deserve...

***
I spend my time worrying about all this crap, and then I come home and watch my kid splash in the bath, try to say "ducky" after I say "ducky" and come crawling up and pull my pant leg as I am doing the dishes. And when I look into her eyes I see that I am necessary and useful. There is a good chance that even though I spent a lot of it paranoid and overwhelmed, I will look back upon this year as the best I've ever had.