Monday, February 17, 2014

Fright

I made it through my early morning without anyone dying by my hand.


Another friend is moving away this summer. That's the hazard of living in Salt Lake. There are so many people who are here only for school, or for a temporary job, or for training, or they come here and realize they hate it (there are annoying things about Utah, but none of them annoy me as fiercely as they seem to annoy others). It's a city full of nomads. I'm bummed about it, but I guess life moves on. It's a great thing for her family, so mostly I'm happy.


On a completely different note, does anyone know how Ambien mixes with Mucinex? Because I have something happening in my face that feels like balloons made of knives, and tonight I just want to sleep instead of jolting awake every time an otherworldly child hovers in the air over my bed, or a flock of spiders rushes down the wall in a wave of horror. My brain is already like a terror circus at night, so I don't need to add drug interactions to the list of events. HOWEVER. My face. Knives. Decisions.

Things that I have seen/obsessed over at night (not dreamed, things I actually see when I'm at least mostly conscious):

- I'm stuck in Minecraft world.
- I have no teeth.
- My child is throwing up (she's really not).
- My child is standing at the end of my bed, whispering (she... usually isn't).
- A child I don't know is standing at the end of my bed, whispering.
- Spiders (in my bed, in my hair, dangling over my face, crawling on the wall).
- Jeremy sits up, snorts, rolls over as wildly as possible (oh wait that happens for real).
- My wall is rippling back and forth like it's a curtain.
- There's an ROUS on my dresser.
- OH NO I FORGOT GROCERY SHOPPING TOMORROW WHAT IF THERE'S NO TIME WHAT WILL WE EAT.

I know that reads like an example list of Ambien side effects, but this is me unmedicated, every night. With Ambien, this happens about once or twice a month. Unless I'm sick or getting sick. And then it's a wild ride. I felt like I was in American Horror Story last night, and I think tonight might be even more fun. Maybe I will dream about Mucinex monsters in my room. That might be a welcome change.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

I've made a terrible mistake

I have to get up super early tomorrow morning, so I took a full Ambien about ten minutes ago, and it's kind of kicking in, and now this is the best part of today. Everything is warm.

Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you why. Ambien doesn't make me shop naked or eat bags of dog treats, but it does make me very happy, and I will go with it.

Oh, why do I have to get up early? Now that's a funny story, if you can hear it over the weeping.

A few weeks ago, at my moms' group, they were passing out sign-up sheets for this fundraising thing we're doing this weekend. I am CERTAIN that I signed up for cleanup at 5pm. But I either misread the slots, someone moved me, or one of those nice ladies slipped something into my coffee when I wasn't looking. I don't know. All I know is that I got an email yesterday telling me to be there at 7:30 for setup, and then I became nauseated, and then I texted my friend (since I knew I'd signed up right under her) and she texted back, "YEP I'LL PICK YOU UP WITH COFFEE AND DOUGHTNUTS," and I became nauseous again, and no she didn't all-caps it but I know she was thinking it because she is a MORNING PERSON, YO, and one of her greatest joys in life is to see me in beast mode. I don't mean that in the sense that athletes do. I mean that in the sense that I resemble a beast half out of hibernation. One of the ones that will tear your face off if you happen to be present when the full awakening happens. She doesn't get her face torn off because I treasure her, and she has special status. But you don't. And you don't. And you don't.

I am in training for a half marathon, and every time I think about that AFTER I've taken my Ambien, I think, "This is the funniest thing ever." Because I still don't think of myself as a runner. I mean, I am, technically, because I run a lot, and I love it, and... okay, I guess I can say I'm a running. But what I would really like to be is a swimmer. On a team again. But that's not going to happen any time soon unless I can find a team that meets during my kids' preschool hours and is free.

The more I run, the more I love it just for the fact that anyone can do it, even if they don't have any talent. I remember when I used to be fast, in high school. Not track star fast, but fast enough to get to the soccer ball (and then my brain took over trying to figure out what to do with it and shorted, every single time, sorry teammates!). But now I'm just a plodding mom, and I'm pretty okay with that. I still reap all the benefits of running even though I'm slow. However, it would be nice to share the team camaraderie again. Have something in which I have more than the most minimal amount of skill in. It feels nice to be above mediocre at something. I want that back someday. Perhaps when the girls are in school themselves.

It's probably time to go. I have to get up early, and the Ambien has entered my brain effectively enough that I forgot how to tell time for a minute there, and also I keep typing words that are not the words I'm thinking. Good night.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

We CAN be friends.

I read this article the other day. It's called "We Can't Be Friends." It's not as bad as some others that I've read, but it implies many of the things that I hate most about these Real/Genuine/Messy/[Whatever Typically Unflattering Adjective that Pertains to You] Motherhood. And it's the one that's been going around Facebook most recently. So it's not the source of my annoyance, but it is the catalyst for writing this post.

She starts off saying that if she has to clean her house for three hours before you come over, then she can't be friends with you. I am so on board with that. That kind of pressure would be exhausting in a friendship. The first time I have someone over, I am a nervous wreck over the state of my house, the food I feed my new friends, the behavior of my children. Imagine doing that every time in a longterm friendship. I would spontaneously combust.

But I hate the implication that, if MY house is clean, it's because I'm trying to impress you, or that I don't play with my children. I like my house to be clean. Clutter is mental noise to me, and I become more and more stressed out around it. In other people's houses, I don't even notice (unless it's up to the level of CALL CPS). I don't care. If I have a place to sit that isn't filthy, if your kitchen doesn't look like a biohazard, then I'm good. And not in a politely tolerating it kind of way. I GENUINELY DON'T CARE.

I spend a lot of time with my kids. We play games I don't hate and read a lot and go for walks when it's not freezing outside. We also clean together, believe it or not. It takes longer, but it wears them out, and then they sleep better. They also spend a lot of time playing on their own or together. They fight, but unless there's blood, I let them, because I think learning how to fight (fighting isn't good, but it's inevitable, and never learning how is even worse) is a valuable skill. Since I started this, they have learned how to get along so much better.

While they are fighting/playing/picking their noses, I get my cleaning done. It doesn't even take that long. They mostly pick up their own toys (we have set times of day to do this), so the amount of regular work I have to do is pretty minimal. Almost all of it is done as I go about my day. I wash my hands in the sink, I wipe the counter and mirror with the hand towel. I take a shower, I wipe it down (in less than 30 seconds) with a rag that I keep in there so that I never have to scrub the shower. I throw dirty clothes down the stairs when I change, and then put them in the hamper next time I go down. I'm not an obsessed clean freak who ignores her children all day in favor of ensuring a sterile environment.

I'm lucky. I only have two kids. They're pretty mellow. They can make huge messes, and they're not always awesome at picking up in a timely fashion, but their basic natures make it pretty easy to have them help me out with the housecleaning.

I'm also a SAHM. That's not something everyone can do or wants to do. If someone has a full time job, of course she's not going to have all kinds of extra time and energy at the end of the day to clean her house by herself. That's just stupid to expect that.

I have a clean house because I like a clean house, and it has nothing to do with you. Different people have different priorities. I sometimes wish I were the mom whose priority was to teach her kids all kinds of different sports, or who could spend hours baking with her kids in the kitchen. I wish I could understand their weird imagination games and play along for more than ten minutes without dying of boredom. I wish I yelled less. I wish, I wish, I wish. But that doesn't mean I look down on moms who do all those things. I have never said, "Well, I COULD play soccer with my kids, but I have a house to clean," with a smug sniff.

No. I am what I am. Some things need improvement (yelling). Some things are just how I am, and they're never going to change. The choices I make are my choices. I don't have to justify them by pointing out the great things I do that others don't. I don't have to put down your love of baking so that I can feel better about my storebought treats. So why do we get like this over clean houses?

I'm glad that it's become more acceptable to be more honest about real motherhood. I can't imagine how stifling and isolating it would be to do it any differently. But let's not be mean girls in our "honesty." Honesty should be equal opportunity. "I have a messy house," or, "I haven't showered today" shouldn't be the only things that are acceptable. How about, "If my kids get underfoot while I'm cooking, I lose my mind." Or, "I hate mornings so much that my small children have to get their own breakfast." Or, "Sometimes I put my kids to bed an hour early because they can't tell time yet, and I'm just done."

How about we build each other up instead of me declaring that we can't be friends if I perceive that you are better than I am at something? How about, "You make the best cookies. I bet your son loves that." Or, "Your kids are so athletic. I think it's awesome you have the energy for that." Or, "Her hair is so cute today! I love how creative you are." <-----Those are all things that I'm terrible at doing with my kids. And guess what. I don't feel ashamed or embarrassed over any of them. I think it's cool that my friends can manage this stuff, and it doesn't cost me anything to admire them for it.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Not-Wine

You know those people who see hilarious things everywhere they go and assume everyone else is on the same page? I am one of them. Things are just... funny to me. All the time. Even if they're not. Sometimes I look crazy. However, I guarantee that this is objectively funny:



"Enrobed!"

Yes. That is a box of Haagen-Dazs chocolate ice cream bars with what sounds like a wine critique on the back. "Enrobed" is my favorite. The top notes are on top because the shell is literally made of cocoa and almonds. I was disappointed not to find any bourbon on the inside (sorry, the *finish*), but it certainly did have a vanilla. Just like it said on the front of the box. I was unable to taste the Madagascar, but that may just be my unrefined palate.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Certified Award-Winning Mother

Winercise. It is the greatest thing of all time.

I lied. Many things are greater. But Winercise is one of my favorite things after a long list of necessities and major conveniences. I would not give up food for Winercise, but I *might* give up an air conditioned car during Utah summer for it.

Winercise happened when my friend had a baby. She had a baby, and we wanted to work out. So we started do exercise videos together in the evenings, and then we started having wine afterwards, and then sometimes it had been too hard of a day, so there was no exercise, but still with the wine. Mostly, though, it's a run or a video, and then wine. Jeremy coined the term. This is why I married him.

So tonight, Jeremy was gone, and Winercise was at my house. My children (*cough* Emmy *cough*) have not been super great at going to bed and staying in their rooms. In fact, they are terrible at it. They are masters at coming up with something just plausible enough that they can't quite be disciplined for getting up. Grace, for instance, knows that I have a soft spot for children with nightmares. I've had terrible, vivid nightmares for as long as I can remember, and so I'm overly sympathetic when she tells me she had a nightmare and can't go back to sleep. The other night, at 8:30, just two minutes after the last time I'd heard her finish a rousing rendition of "Jesus Loves Me," she came out to tell me she'd had a bad dream. That's when I knew she was playing me.

So, tonight. No Jeremy to field incoming children. Just me and my desperately needed exercise/social time (I joke about the wine, but mostly it's about the social time). I didn't know quite what to do.

This, my friends, is when bribery becomes very useful. It is not a parenting tool you should use often. Do you pull a sledgehammer out for drilling holes in walls, or hammering in nails? I do not think so, unless you are a contractor I hope to never hire.

No, the sledgehammer is a very specific tool. Use it too much, and you will get fired. Use it judiciously, and you have much power. Tonight I used the sledgehammer.

"Children," I said, just before bedtime. "Children, do you want a cookie with breakfast?" (we'd made cookies earlier this afternoon)

"YES GIVE THEM TO ME NOW"

"No, but if you want some for breakfast, hear my words." Grace is typically pretty attentive when I tell her to listen up, but Emmy is like a fly with ADD, at all times. Even she snapped to attention. Her head spun a full 180 degrees from whatever bizarre thing she was playing at the moment. "My friends are coming over. You may say goodnight to them when they arrive. But after that, do not come out of your rooms at all, except for legitimate bathroom usage."

They were still gaping at me, wondering when I would get to the part about the cookies.

"If you do this, you will get a cookie with breakfast."

They didn't say anything, but their faces said WHAT. "Yes. Cookies. With. Breakfast. Stay in your rooms."

I didn't really think it would work. I thought I would get at least four or five disturbances, despite the bribery, but it worked. IT WORKED. I came downstairs to get something ten minutes later, and it was dead silence. Grace was not fiddling with her farm animals in her barn. Emmy was not singing loudly about "You can do what you want to just go around and do what you want toooo!" (this is not an actual song; she just puts random phrases together in what must be a pleasing arrangement to her, and sets them to something tuneless and shouty) Complete calm. I resisted the urge to check on them and make sure they were alive.

Grace did come up the stairs once, but it was clear she was half asleep and confused ("I have drips. Here." She points to her foot, and she's wearing bright orange tights for no known reason. "It's okay, honey. We have a washing machine." "But I have drips." "It's all right, you can take them off or change if you want to." "Okay..."). I decided to still allow her the cookie.

Otherwise, they have remained in bed, quiet, since 7:30. This has not happened in at least a year. My friends, bribery is the answer. It works. It really works.

Utah, or why I haven't been writing so much

I'm sure you are all sick of hearing about it, but I can't begin to explain what moving to Utah has done for me. For us. I never get over it. Sometimes it wells up in me, though, this gratitude, and I have to talk about it.
Back in Wisconsin, I had (and have) good friends. Friends who would go out of their way to help me out. Friends who did much more for me than I ever thought to do for them. But when we moved to a small town far away and couldn't make any friends there, it was incredibly isolating. I sunk into myself. My friends would come out to my house when I didn't have a car during the day, and I would much less frequently go to them, but I was really too wrapped up in my own head to be a good friend back. It was too hard. I was too tired. It was too far. Blah blah blah. It was hard, and I was tired, and it was far, but it would have been well worth the trouble.
We moved here, and I considered it a fresh start. I decided I was going to accept every invitation (unless it was to a marijuana/drinkin' party) and make invitations of my own. I think we had people over for dinner at least once a month for the first six months. It was exhausting and stressful (once I've had you over a time or two, it's not, but those first couple times just make me insane with anxiety). I had gained about 15 pounds during the course of the move, and I just felt look a big, socially awkward dork. "I can't believe that thing you said to her. What will she think?" "How could you talk about yourself so much?" "Stop interrupting!" "You. Are an idiot." These thoughts would follow me around for days after time spent with a new friend.
In response, I ran around with my fingers in my ears yelling, "Lalalalalalalala! Can't hear you!" and those voices never really went away, but now I get to shove my really good friendships down their throats and muffle them a bit. I AM a big, socially awkward dork, and do you know what? These people love me anyway. We have found the best people here, mostly at church, but some elsewhere. I actually hugged one of them spontaneously and voluntarily the other day. She said something that made me feel so loved that I actually reached out and hugged her. If any of you are aware of how weird I feel about hugging, then that tells you something.
And here, I think I have turned into a better friend. I never would have thought before on my own to offer a friend a meal if she was sick. But it's just what people do here. They help. If I could describe the personality of my church, I would say, "They help." So I learned to help. I'm sure I'm perfectly oblivious in many other self-absorbed ways, but I look back and think how much different I am now. I wish I had been this kind of friend to my people back home. They were wonderful people. I'm sorry I didn't really see just how wonderful until I suddenly had to reach out and make some friends, out of sheer desperation. Having to start over completely is probably one of the best things that has ever happened to me (and, probably, to my kids).
So all this happiness, it keeps shooting out of me like a rainbows out of a unicorn, and I just don't feel compelled to write as much. It used to be my hobby because I needed something to do, something I felt like I was good at. But now I only do it when I'm feeling all mushy gushy or have something that has suddenly piqued my interest.
I'm best at complaining in a funny way, and, well, there isn't much to complain about. Utah drivers are the worst, but I've done that. The inversions are horrible, but we haven't had a bad one yet this year. The kids are even happy and mostly pleasant. Our house has still not sold, but I stay away from that topic because I can mostly not worry about it... unless I let myself start thinking too much, and then worry creeps in. God has always taken care of us. We are pretty sure he will not stop now. And besides, the worst that could happen--and it's highly unlikely, unless something big breaks--is foreclosure, and that's a first world problem if there ever was one. A big problem, but definitely first world: "We rent a perfectly comfortable, warm, and spacious house and eat nutritious and satisfying meals three times daily, but our OTHER house, we might have to give that up and take a credit hit." In the broad scheme of things, that's a huge BOO HOO SISSY.
So life is good, and I don't feel like writing. I need to go back to putting down ideas as they occur to me throughout the day. Because once I have a topic, I really do like to get into it. There just aren't any topics coming to mind when I sit down at the computer.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Why aren't secondhand gifts acceptable?

I want to have a birthday party for Emmy. I want people to buy her gifts. This is because gifts make her happy, and because giving gifts to a crazy, happy four-year-old makes my friends happy. I'm not going to be one of those people who puts, "No gifts please!" on an invitation, making everyone waffle between the two awkward choices. Either you will obey the invitation, arrive, and find that everyone else brought a gift, or you will disregard the invitation, arrive, and find that no one else bought a gift and look like the show-off. It is lose-lose. Maybe not with an adult's birthday party, since no gifts is pretty standard. But definitely with a kid's party. I hate "No gifts please!" It looks generous, but it just creates too much awkwardness. I have enough awkwardness of my own making, so I don't need anyone to pack it in an envelope and mail it to my house for me.

I want to start a movement of secondhand gift-giving. Why is this not acceptable? Really. Think about it. How stupid is it that everything must be new? Especially for children. They outgrow, destroy, or just plain aren't interested in so many things. Why spend $30 on that plastic, obnoxiously green toy that is also available for $5 at the consignment store because some other kid got it for her birthday and never played with it? Am I just cheap, or does this seem insane to anyone else?

As for me, I have a pretty slim budget for gifts. We're not broke, but I will be uptight about spending until we get rid of The Unsellable House (whose furnace just broke, Merry Christmas to us!). I can buy one decent toy new on my budget, or I can buy a really cool toy/many toys in like-new condition. Do you see how everybody wins, givers and recipients alike?

I also think it's fun to look for things in thrift and consignment stores. Granted, I have the luxury of time that many other people don't, but it really satisfies my hunting and gathering instinct. I hate sifting through clothes at these places, but finding other cool stuff almost makes me giddy. Sometimes, when I come home, I hoist my find in the air and shriek excitedly. Unless it's heavy or fragile. Then I put it down as soon as possible.

So where did this expectation to buy only brand new gifts come from? It makes no sense. If the item is in good condition and isn't the sort of thing that is automatically befouled by its having been pre-owned (underwear, socks, toast), then what? Why? Everyone is poorer (well, except for Target, which does employ many, many people) when we feel compelled to buy things new for no other reason than social convention.

In conclusion! If you are my friend in real life, am I starting a new thing. If you buy me or my kid a gift, feel free to buy it secondhand. I will be very happy with you. More money for you, more stuff for me, let's have cake.