Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Facebook, late at night

When I've had some wine, a thing usually happens to me. A thing where I go about sharing all of my reserved feelings with everyone. I don't mean a drunken sloshed-up sentimental tirade. I mean an almost-entirely-sober gushing forth of all the emotions I typically find too vulnerable.

"I love you. You have no idea what your friendship means to me," I say to that woman who showed up with margaritas once four years ago when Jeremy was out of town forever, and one of my kids had a weird illness that kept us couch-bound for days.

"Oh... Kay..." she says.

"NO I MEAN IT."

Or, "Your hair is so pretty. How is it so shiny?" Or, "Your cake tastes like unicorn fruit, and can I live here?"

It's like I am holding back everything at all times, so the slightest lowering of inhibition (we're talking a single glass of wine here, friends) sends it flying out at anyone in my path. I don't feel repressed at any other time, but apparently I am. One glass of wine, and I will begin to tell you how lovely and kind and meaningful you are with the intensity of a Jack Nicholson character.

Well the same kind of thing happens on Facebook late at night. I go on sprees of liking and commenting (I never say anything I don't mean, mind you, but that actually makes it more uncomfortable sometimes), then wake up the next morning and have no idea why I have all these notifications.

I'm a super night owl. If I didn't have a very specific routine and didn't take mind-quieting drugs, I would never sleep. In ten years I would still be awake like a cat strapped to the hood of a speeding car. So I don't know why I get so weird at night. It's not as if I'm tired.

But for some reason, come 11:00, I perceive myself as the cleverest person on earth. I spend ten minutes crafting a witty comment, cackling all the while, and wake up the next morning to an effusive word salad. It's both embarrassing and amusing. I'm not sure I dislike it enough to ban myself from Facebook after 11.

There are odd things about myself that I like, and I'm not sure why. So if you've encountered this side of me, don't worry for my sanity. I'm just as bananas as I've always been, and it's never turned violent. So we're good, right?

Right?

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Weird things that stress me out

"It goes by so fast! Treasure every moment!"

I hate that.

My kids are to the age where I do want time to stop; I want them to freeze right now, while they are sweet and carefree, but old enough for basic logic. If kids teleported to this stage after 6 months, we would probably have ten of them.

But I have no regrets about looking forward to when my toddlers and preschoolers were older. Of course I miss the fat rolls and on-demand snuggling. OF COURSE. Unless your life is an unmitigated hell, there is always something to miss. The frustration of those years changed me into a better mother and forged a bond with my kids that can't be replicated.

However. I do not regret casting my mind forward to the future in order to get myself through another day with a one year old and a two year old. I do not regret visualizing grown-up conversations with my three year old while she threw herself face-first off a piece of furniture and cried into my arms for the third time that day. I do not regret gagging and gritting my teeth through yet another stomach bug where my vomit-covered babies required immediate hugs.

I know some people get through those days by reminding themselves that these years are short, that the baby fat turns to ribs and lean muscle. I get that. You do whatever it takes to find joy in the moment.

But for me, knowing that these years are short is exactly what got me through it, for exactly the opposite reasons. I knew there would come a time when I would be able to have a conversation at dinner with my six- and seven-year-old about Harry Potter, and we would all more or less understand what each of us were saying. One of them would no longer scream until snot fell into the dinner I spent an hour crafting, while the other refused to eat anything but salad (yes, this is a valid complaint when it is literally the only thing your always-hungry child will eat) and rubbed the rest of her food all over her body.

During that time, commands to TREASURE IT only stressed me out. Someday I'll be 35 years old, and my kids will be at school, and my dried-up womb and I will sit on the living room floor, sobbing into baby clothes. 

No.

I'm not 35 yet, but this hasn't happened. Every time I eat dinner with a mom of a very young child, and her dinner gets cold while she cuts up his food into tiny pieces, I think, "I'm so glad that's over." Every time I change the diaper of a friend's baby, I think, "I'm so glad we don't have to pay for these anymore." Every time I hear a toddler throw a fit in a store, I remember every time I had to wrestle a writhing 30 pounds of Emmy out of Target in a swirl of humiliation and think, "YES! It's not mine!"

There are things I miss, but as a whole? I'm so glad those days are over.

(this is where God decides it's time for a surprise baby, right?)
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Now, the other thing that stresses me out, and this one is super weird.

Coloring books.

They're supposed to relieve stress, right? No. No, I look at a coloring book in the store and I feel like I'm looking at my term paper I haven't even started that's due tomorrow. Even pictures of them on Facebook stress me out. I can barely look at this image:


I just broke out into hives.

It is the weirdest thing, and I want an explanation for it. I keep Googling things like, "Coloring books make me anxious" and, "Adult coloring books cause me more stress," and I come up with everything except an explanation. On a planet with seven billion people, I find it hard to believe that I am unique in any one area, but this might be it. I may be the only person on earth who breaks into a sweat looking at a coloring book.

I don't know if any of you are psychologists (via a legit school or Google university, I don't care), but I really want an explanation for this.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

On a lighter note

Emmy has begun trying to read. A couple of months ago, she could recognize maybe five letters and would literally run away every time I cracked open a book to read to her and her sister. A couple weeks ago, she still thought all letters made the same sound that they start with. And then today, she comes up, points to the Mary Kay brochure I have sitting on my night stand, and reads, "Earn While You Learn," needing no help except with "while." I don't know how "wh" threw her off when "earn" and "learn" did not, but whatever. It's Emmy.

I've been a little nervous about her non-reading because I am reading more and more about how beneficial it is to let kids learn to read when they want to and when they are ready. For a lot of kids, this happens as late as age 7. It was no problem with Grace. She has had a book glued to her face almost from birth. But I was a little concerned that Emmy would flunk kindergarten for not being able to read. I have no concerns about her mental development, but I am a little concerned that her extreme creativity might get squashed in traditional schooling. And I REALLY don't want to homeschool, ever. If my kid clearly needed something else, I'd do it, but it's like saying I'd eat live frogs if I were starving to death.

So she's suddenly reading words like "earn" and "learn," but can't read "boat" or "cat." I think she might take the same approach to reading as she did to talking: begin with odd words, hide ability for a long time, and then profit when everyone underestimates her. I still can't figure out if she's an evil genius, or if she really does just operate on a different wavelength from the rest of us. Maybe both.

Friday, May 22, 2015

I might lose a few readers now.

I don’t typically respond to trending topics on Facebook. It’s usually because I don’t care, or I’m embarrassed that I care, or I don’t want to ruffle feathers. I like people to like me. Too much.
But this Duggar family uproar is too much. It is really too much.
Jesus forgives me, and I’ve moved on, so I don’t need to face earthly justice.
Folks, this is not biblical. Perhaps Josh Duggar is truly repentant, and perhaps he truly isn’t subject to those predilections anymore. I have no idea. But it is not okay to wait for the statute of limitations to run out before you confess your sins.
“Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.” 1 Peter 2:13-17
The Christian thing to do would be to turn yourself in to face justice in the courts, not run off to work with a family friend, and then tell a shady state trooper about it when you come back, and keep the whole thing under wraps as much as possible. I cannot even imagine what it would be like to learn this about your son; I hope that I would do the right thing, but I can’t guarantee it. However, my sympathy for grieving parents and a likely terrified kid doesn’t change right and wrong. It is WRONG purposefully evade justice.
Forgiveness is personal. It goes from the wronged person to the perpetrator, from God to the sinner.
The courts deal in justice. Earthly justice. Nowhere in the Bible does it say that we are to escape earthly consequences of sin just because we are sorry, and God forgives us. We are to submit to the governing authorities, unless they mandate that we sin. Can you imagine what would happen if all anyone had to do to get out of jail time was to say he was sorry, and Jesus forgave him? That would be wrong.
Yet we are closing ranks around the Duggars because… because why? Because the apology actually sounded like a real apology (It really does sound like deep regret, none of this non-apology “I’m sorry if you feel that…” nonsense)? Because the people in charge at the time “dealt” with it? Because they’re the most famous Christians we have, so we’d better present a united front?
I’m not shocked by the Duggars’ handling of this sin. (Yes, SIN. It was not a mistake. Call it what it is, for the love, especially when you are apologizing.) I might think they did it all wrong, but it doesn’t surprise me. Like I said, I can’t imagine what I would do as a parent in this situation.
But fellow Christians, we should not be rushing to comfort the perpetrator after he slips under the radar just long enough to escape the consequences. Let me be clear: Eternal consequences are God’s business; nothing is too big for him to forgive. But he commands us to obey the earthly law (and at the time that Peter was written, let’s not forget we’re talking about Christians under Roman law). Obedience to earthly law elevates God and his mercy; it does not diminish it. We do not glorify God by pretending sin is just a really bad mistake.
We glorify God by calling sin what it is and praising his ability to forgive even the most vile manifestations of it. But their actions do not “put to silence the ignorance of foolish people [or non-foolish people].” This looks a lot more like using freedom as a cover-up for evil.
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Edit: I realized after I wrote this that this might come out too much on the OTHER side of things. I have… certain opinions about the Duggars and their theology, but that aside, they are my Christian brothers and sisters. The personal issues of forgiveness and repentance are between them, the victims, and their church leaders (if they have such a network of accountability; I’m not sure). People who profess repentance and appear to be repentant should be taken at their word (although I don’t think I would have Josh Duggar babysit my children; forgiveness should not be conflated with stupidity). We shouldn’t shun people for this, especially when we know so little of the details. I am talking about the way we tend to view professing Christians who have done terrible things and equated the forgiveness of God with escape from legal justice.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

You can('t) do eet!

I know I've written something along these lines before, but I just read the umpteenth nasty comment on a nice blog post about things you can do for your friend who just had a baby. I commented on it a while ago and keep meaning to unsubscribe, but then oh shiny!

It goes something like this: "I don't know what's wrong with all you people. I did all this and more after kids, and I never complained!"

This is another thing we need to stop doing.

Repeat after me: "I can do a lot of things you can't do. You can do a lot of things I can't do. Let's not scratch each other's eyes out."

Well. I might scratch your eyes out if you're good at murder, and you find me in an alley.

Here's what I'm really good at:

-Imitating a monkey call. It is loud and extremely accurate.
-Imitating various other animals' calls. Also loud, not necessarily as accurate.
-Predicting the bad guy on TV shows.
-Crossing my eyes.
-Staying awake long past the limits of normal human physiology.
-Lining things up the way they are supposed to go. NOT LIKE THAT YOU IDIOT.
-Having huge feet.
-Learning a new language. Unless it's German. I dropped out of that after 2 weeks.

I expect that every other human being on earth can and should do all of these things because I can do them.

Obviously, I'm being silly. There are real life skills that everyone should have nailed down eventually. I would never think very highly of an able-bodied 30-year-old who can't use the bathroom without assistance. But I don't think doing All the Things immediately after having a baby is one of those life skills. After Grace, I was pretty much useless. I felt like I was trying to juggle 20 hammers at once. She was 6 months old, I think, before we ever had dinner before her bedtime.

It was a totally different story after Emmy. I was able to do just about everything that needed to be done after having her. At no point did I look back at my brand new mom self and say, "You were such a lazy complainer. You could have done so much better." No. Because I couldn't have.

I've been on both sides. I'm sure there are women who use their new-momness as an excuse to be lazy. But most of us just do whatever we're capable of at that moment. So stop being a jerk.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tough Mudder

Did I ever mention that I signed up for the Tough Mudder? Well, I did. It’s in September. It’s at 10,000 feet. Now, I live almost a mile up, so it’s not like a shore-dweller doing a ten-mile obstacle course at 10,000 feet, but it’s still going to be brutal. What was I thinking?
I actually wake up in a panic over this occasionally. Usually it’s after a weekend of slacking on my shoulder PT.
I did that this past weekend. I skipped the exercises on Saturday and on Monday. On Saturday we were busy, and it had been raining all week, so I hated the world/napped with every free minute. Monday was again very busy, and by the end of it I just wanted my bed.
I have four resistance band exercises that I do on each side, 3 sets of 15; I do two types every day. There are two other optional (but immensely helpful) ones that I have to do at the gym. They require the lat pull-down machine, a stability ball, and a platform.
I hate them because I’ve been doing them three times a week for two years.
I hate them because they are tedious.
I hate them because the nature of my shoulder issues means I will never actually progress in them; I will always and forever use the green resistance band, and 3 sets of 15 will always and forever be uncomfortable and hard.
I hate them because I know I have to do them all three times per week until I die or stop caring about being able to use my shoulders and arms at all.
Mostly, I hate them because they look like old lady exercises, and I feel kind of stupid doing them.
With the lat machine, it’s not even a full pull-down. I grip the bar above my head and then pull my shoulder blades down and together. It looks like I’m a really weak person who is in denial about the amount of weight she can pull down. This is because, given the chance, my shoulder blades would slide all the way around my body and become protective chest plates.
The stability ball push-ups are even more super fun. Fun in the extreme. Fun like getting punched in the face. I put a stability ball on the corner of a platform and then attempt push-ups while squeezing the sides of the ball with my hands. It’s incredibly difficult, but it looks wussy. I know this because there are mirrors everywhere in the room where I do these push-ups, mirrors of mockery. It makes me want to force everyone in there with me to try them with me while I laugh.
(Yes, I know none of you strong people notice me; a tiny yet vocal part of me knows even harder that you are all laughing at me).
So I skipped those all weekend. You’d think just a few days wouldn’t make a big difference, right? Nope. Everything is weaker. I’m at half strength for some of the weights I regularly lift. I accept this for the exercises that require shoulder stability. But even my grip is worse. If you look at your arm and grab something tightly, you will notice that all the gripping muscles are far removed from the shoulder muscles, so please explain that to me.
Anyway, all this to say that I am a little apprehensive about this Tough Mudder thing. This doesn't mean I don’t want to do it. I do. A LOT. But I definitely need more motivation with the shoulder exercises. It doesn't take long to catch back up, but I need to get strongER for this thing, not just stay where I am. So here are a few ideas for every day that I do them:
  1. My children clean their room without complaining.
  2. The dishes wash themselves.
  3. My lawn dies so it never has to be mowed again.
  4. Fairies give me a dollar.
  5. Fairies give me wine.
I’m sure none of these will be counterproductive at all, so help me make it happen.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

I swear I don't have a (consistent) favorite

I went back through a couple years' of Facebook posts the other day. I started just to make sure my last post didn't show me for a complete hypocrite, but then I got sucked in to the memories. It's 75% Emmy doing something bizarre, 20% Grace saying something disturbing/weirdly adult, and 15% me blundering around like an idiot. Grace will think she is the less favored child someday (sweetie, I swear you're not; it's just that you're not entertaining fodder most of the time). If there's ever an archive feature to Facebook, and if I ever want to resurrect the person I was 5, 10, 15 years ago.

I don't.

It's weird how I look back at things I've said, thought, written just a few years ago and always think, "Wow. I was stupid/mean/judgy/not funny." Sometimes all of those.

I think part of the reason I don't write much anymore is that I don't have much to say that translates well to the blog format. I can be funny in the moment, or if I have a topic, but writing just to write is hard for me now.

I used to try to make complaining funny, but most of the time it isn't anymore. It just sounds whiny to me. The things I have to complain about, I mean. Many of you have Real Things going on. That's what this space is for. My life is by no means perfect, but complaining about it sometimes seems like the equivalent of a robust American telling a room full of Eritreans that he's "starving."

(this doesn't mean I don't complain, ever; it just seems narcissistic to make a whole entry about the mildly inconvenient road construction going on in our neighborhood)

So, back to Facebook. I had NO IDEA how weird Emmy seems, until I re-remembered her only through status updates. She is super weird, for sure, but nothing that will land her in a home when she's an adult (*please oh please oh please*). But to read about her only through me, you would think she did nothing but shout random words in between chewing carpet and falling down stairs.

Emmy is surprisingly clever. I know this because I catch her hiding it. On purpose.

One of her preschool teachers told me last fall that she can read a few (small) words and has memorized several of the storybooks at school. I told her I didn't even think Emmy knew the names and sounds of most of her letters ("Emmy, what does double-u say?" *blank stare* "...Du-?"). Ever since, I've been waiting and waiting for this ability to appear at home, and it didn't... until we bought a lift-the-flap dinosaur book, and all of a sudden she is all about reading that to me. It's obvious she's been hiding it because she knows it means she'll be expected to do things. In order to get full access to this amazing book, she knows she has to sit with me and read it.

(I'm sure she showed her cards sooner at school because she's in love with one of the teachers and will do anything to gain her favor.)

When she was a toddler, everyone at church thought she couldn't talk. We would swear that she could, and just wouldn't away from home, but it was getting to the point where it was like, "The W's are in denial. Should we maybe have a gentle talk with them?" But because Emmy didn't talk, people would just do things for her. She was fat and cute and scowly (in a cute way). Of course you want to give her snacks.

So one day in the nursery, one of the little girls had lost her cup. Emmy was off in a corner by herself hoarding some toys or whittling a shiv. They were looking all over for several minutes while she was completely silent (as usual). Finally, in exasperation, she turned around, pointed to a high shelf across the room and said, "It's RIGHT there!" and went back to playing.

Girl is wily, is all I'm saying. She's manic pixie adorable preschooler on the outside, but mad scientist on the inside. I think realistically the only thing I can hope for is that she doesn't explode something important someday.