Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Nu Start

We got back from our too long trip yesterday evening. Its so good to be back home, to have tasks to accomplish and plans to make and keep. But I'm also glad we're easing into it...back at work/daycare today, then off tomorrow, then 2 days back until the weekend. 

And it doesn't end this weekend. Monday night my parents are flying in, they'll be here all next week (and the kids will be at home) and my sister and her family come in Friday-Saturday for B's "friend" party on Saturday morning. A party I still need to plan and prepare! So it won't be until January 13th that we're back to a routine for all 4 of us. 

So I'm giving myself until then to think through and write out all my plans for 2014. I have been working (mentally) on my list of things I want to do next year and will post it once I've reviewed it with G. I've also been pondering a "word of the year". I initially thought about "Change" because I'd like things to change...but I don't really want to make or respond to any truly big life changes. Then I thought about "present" (i.e. "being in the...") or "open" (minded/hearted) but those seemed too touchy-feely. I very much relate to Anandi's "engage" but I don't know that I'm ready for that one quite yet...

I was at a loss. And then our house painter showed up. He already finished the first floor---we have gone from some crazy bright colors (sadly, ones we chose and painted ourselves, so no one else to blame for that hideousness) to some subdued and calming ones. Just doing that made us feel lighter. It also spurred us to do some rearranging and decluttering which intensified that feeling. 

This year I'm going with a phrase instead of a word: Lighten up. 

In all senses of the word---to actually lighten our load by unloading things and obligations, but also to let go of some of obsessive need for routine. To have more fun---at work and at home, with parenting and marriage. To do new things, to catch up with old friends without worrying about finding the right time to call, to entertain friends in our home without worrying about everything in the house being perfect*, to take the boys on adventures without worrying so much** about naps and bedtimes. To worry less in general. And say "yes" where I'd usually default to "no". 

This fall seemed so quick. The evenings got darker and darker and before I knew it we reached the solstice. And we're gaining daylight every day. The whole world is starting to lighten up, I can do it too.

*to be fair, my definition of "perfect" is a non-leaking roof, no household pest infestations, and no big drywall holes in the ceiling or walls...but this has prevented us from having a party for the past 2 years. 

**notice I said "so much"...I still stand by my assertion that sleep is requisite for optimal development and slightly-less-crazy behavior in young children.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sunshine and Snow

Thanks to Esperanza for the Sunshine Award. I'm not going to tag anyone and can't figure out the icon business, but I'll answer the questions since they are short & sweet!

1. Favorite word that isn’t really a word? Can I say its a secret? I have a term I call my boys that is absolutely nonsense but is used to mean "sweetie". 
2. Batman or Superman? The movies? Batman. Marriage material? Superman.
3. Best body part? Legs. I am very happy about my legs.
4. Greatest personal achievement? Residency
5. Diet or regular (or water)? Water

6. Yoga or running (or couch)? Running. Tried yoga, not for me. I actually feel more relaxed running.
7. Favorite store? Amazon
8. Bedtime routine? For myself I assume? Brush teeth, change clothes, get into bed and read for anywhere between 10-60 minutes
9. Favorite social media site? Facebook, the only social media site I'm on.
10. Biggest vice? Wasting time on the internet. Huge huge huge problem I really don't know how to address.

We had plans for this weekend to take the kids to some winter/holiday event and then go to G's boss's house for a holiday party. Both things are canceled due to chance of snow. We are instead having brunch with friends that live in the neighborhood and taking advantage of the sitter coming to go to dinner in the neighborhood. 

I'm a bit overwhelmed right now, trying to wrap up work and get stuff ready for our long trip to visit MIL. Hopefully some nice social time and a dinner out will help. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

What makes me unhappy?

Totally stole this post idea from Sarah, who is using it to help define her happiness project goals. I agree that its a good exercise...figure out what really sucks the joy out of your life and try to minimize those things. My list probably has a lot of overlap with hers, given the universal nature of some of these items (is there anyone that LIKES wasting money?)

I'm going to expand my list to also include things that make me anxious or irritable, since I tend to feel those more than I feel "unhappy". Basically a "what makes me feel bad?" list.
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Clutter
  • Conflict
  • Feeling that I'm not meeting another's expectation (marriage, work, mothering, extended family)
  • Feeling frumpy
  • Losing things 
  • Having things hanging over my head
  • Loneliness 
  • Feeling left out
  • Missing out on (fun) things because of childcare issues
  • Being rushed
  • Being late
  • When others complicate plans
  • Impromptu changes in plans 
  • B's howling/hitting/screaming meltdowns
  • Sickness in immediate family
  • Inability of focus
  • Wasting time (specifically on the internet)
  • Wasting money 
  • Disorganization (myself or others)
  • Too much noise
  • Not exercising
  • Unhealthy eating (for more than one or two meals)
  • Yelling (myself or others)
  • Lack of any plans on weekends
  • Not leaving the house all day
Hmmm. Looking over this, it seems that many of these issues arise as the result of poor planning. Calendars and to-do lists to the rescue!!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Oh, you don't wanna waste your life, now darling

Change, change, change....*

I'm no good at change. I get stuck in a rut and start to really like my rut, and get all cozy and comfortable with my rut, and suddenly its like "my beloved rut, don't leave me!!" You get the point.

Its time though.  I need some sort of shake up, because even my most-beloved rut is starting to get old and lame. I'm not even considering anything major. I'm not quitting my job, or moving, or even taking the kids out of their daycare. Even the tiniest tweaks in routine seem ginormous when you're deep in the rut, though.

I'm sure its news to no one that both G & I are quite often flustered and stressed and exhausted, and we are trying to fix it by changing our attitudes about it...as if we would stop feeling stressed and exhausted if we "re-framed" things as FUN and MEANINGFUL. And sure, having a good attitude is certainly PART of it. But the other part is actually making changes to reduce the activities that drain our energy and increase those that restore it.

I'm still working this out, but a few areas for change I've identified include:
  • the morning routine (or lack thereof)
  • the evening routine (i.e. Ana's second job)
  • weekend chores
  • alone time for both of us
  • quality marriage time
I'm also putting together a list of things I want to try to do in the upcoming year. Its getting pretty long and extremely exciting. And strangely enough, completely do-able, with enough advanced planning.

I need to talk to G about all of this of course, and that could well be the sticking point (it has been in the past). As much as I hate change, G hates planning. We've had these conversations almost annually, about wanting to change things, making it easier on all of us, and yet nothing ever happens. I'm actually writing this here for some kind of accountability. If I need to report on progress, it makes me much more likely to follow through (for a high achiever, I'm not that internally motivated, it turns out).
*does anyone get the reference?

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

For the Better

As I focused on the negative changes in my psyche in my last post (so many thoughtful and wise comments by the way!), I would like to dwell a bit on the positives. And yes, I noticed that some of these are contradictory to what I discussed yesterday, I am complex.

I really have noticed myself maturing in the past few years. This may seem a little late to some of you, given that I'm in my mid-to-late 30s (where are those cut-offs anyways, I guess I just reached the last quarter of my 30s last week, so late-30s it is). But I definitely extended my young-adult status by schooling and training forever (until I was 33. Or 35 if you count the Masters), marrying late (29), and having children late (33 and 35). Here's a few things I've noticed that I consider improvements:

Empathy. I used to be quick to judge on the basis of one decision or action. I'm much more likely to look for all sides of the story now, to realize that most everyone is struggling with something whether it is apparent on the surface or not. When I think about all that goes into a decision or behavior, the past, present, and future that is held within each of our minds and hearts, it is easier to understand how one may choose differently than me...and still be a good, reasonable, intelligent person. I also don't let my own mood be ruined by others' rudeness the way I used to; telling myself that there may be a good reason behind it helps me let it go and move on. Being able to put myself into someone else's shoes makes my job both easier and harder (oh the tears I can barely hold back with some sad patient circumstances).

Confidence in my choices. After years of trying desperately to fit in, I've decided to forge my own way. It's not that I never care what others think. But I care a lot lot less. I don't have a smidgeon of guilt or insecurity about the vast majority of my parenting choices or many other lifestyle choices that I've made. I will freely admit I don't like things the majority of the world seems to love or that I love things that are so uncool they are not even cool in an ironic way.

Owning it.  This may be a big "duh" for most of you, but the notion that I control my own happiness was a game changer. For years my happiness was dependent on some combination of life circumstances, which was a very passive (and shallow) mindset. I expected to suddenly "be happy" when all these things came together (they didn't, I wasn't). To realize that I could make myself happier by changing my mindset and even certain behaviors was extremely empowering. Parallel to this, I also realized that I was not in charge of anyone else's happiness nor could I change them by sheer force of will.

Efficiency (and experience). At work and at home, I find the straightest point from A to B and get. it. done. Done is better than perfect. I can knock out a grant proposal,  a patient encounter and a casserole faster than I could've imagined. I don't fret the details, I prioritize the big things and gloss over the rest.

Satisficing It used to be well known in certain circles that Ana could not make a decision to save her life. No more. Any reasonable solution will do. We spent 15 minutes hashing out paint colors for our entire house this weekend because I just went with G's suggestions---they were fine. When we originally painted? Weeks of angst and perusing magazines and multiple trips to the store to look at swatches. My kids' wardrobes are purchased in 15 minutes online each season. (my clothes take way longer, because I enjoy shopping). Where to go to brunch? One of the two places we've been to 5 times last year. I'd rather BE at brunch eating my home fries than waste 45 minutes looking up every available brunch spot in town and hem and haw over the menu, the kid-appropriateness of it, the cost.

Gratitude This somewhat relates to the first two points, but I do realize how very lucky I am in all aspects of life. I no longer envy other people for anything they have or achieve, because I have and have achieved so much.

Focus on the present. Now that I'm no longer looking to "when this happens", I am much better able to revel in the present. Sure, I look forward to the future, but I also realize that these years right here? This is good stuff. I couldn't exactly say that as an adolescent or a 20-something trying to find her way. Because what I was waiting for? Was this.

So, while I may wish I could regain some of the carefree, spontaneous, laughter-filled attitude of my youth, I'm also pretty excited about the good stuff up ahead.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The girl I used to be...

Writing that last post, about getting more anal and less go-with-the-flow, made me think about how else I've changed (and not for the better) over time. In the spirit of a 3rd grade writing assignment that somehow has stuck in my mind, I give you

I used to be _____ but now I am _____

I used to be creative, now I am (what's the opposite of creative, see I can't even creatively think of a word) boring.
As a child, even a young adult, I loved to make things: poems, short stories, songs, drawings, art projects, paper mache turtles and mosaic coasters, Christmas ornaments, cross-stitched place mats. If I didn't make it from scratch, I could still fancy it up. Now I just...can't. I tried to get into the sewing things last year and while it was fun to dream up projects, buy fabric on-line, and even whip up a few easy pieces, the steep learning curve I would have to scale to really excel (or even progress beyond the paperbag-waisted skirt and velcro closure lunchbag) completely turned me off. I've become so relentlessly efficient about everything. The thought of expending time and energy when I could simply buy it with one click, the thought of decorating and embellishing when it works fine as is just doesn't jive with my get-it-done mindset.

I used to be open, now I am closed-off. There was little going on in my head that I didn't share with my close friends or significant others. My primary coping mechanism was to discuss things with someone. It helped immensely. Now I keep it all in and I am certain that at least part of my increasing anxiety is due to this tendency. But the more you wall yourself off, the harder it is to open back up. I'm not really sure how to go about it.

I used to be funny, now I am serious. I was so good at laughing about the absurdities in the world, and particularly in myself. A huge part of my relationship with G was based on our mutual sense of humor. Not infrequently, he has been incredulous at how I took something seriously that was quite clearly a joke. I laugh at and with my kids, but I've noticed that I can sometimes go days without a real deep belly laugh this days. 

I used to take pride in my work, now I am a half-asser.  (Not WORK-work, but things I do. I don't half-ass my career-related stuff, obviously!) I was never a perfectionist (have you noticed how people like to blather on about their problems with perfectionism? Humble-brag much?) but I did often go the extra mile so that any projects or school-work that saw the light of day looked presentable or better. I had impeccable handwriting. I used to wrap presents nicely and add a bow. Now my presents look like my dog slapped see-through tissue paper and too much Scotch tape on them. I do things quickly, rather than methodically, with more thought to crossing it off the list than creating a polished product.

I had a few more in my head when I planned this post, but I can't remember them now. I realize that I lot of these changes are simply due to changes in age and circumstance. Its developmentally appropriate to be attached to your friends as a teen and I imagine you grow out of it as an adult. And when time is scarce, throwing that gift for a 3-year-old in a re-used bag instead of hunting up the wrapping paper and curling some ribbon certainly makes sense. But I miss some of those aspects of the old me---the spontaneous, creative, open and funny old me. I wonder where she went?

Tuesday, November 26, 2013


I've noticed a tendency in myself to get easily flustered by even the tiniest of hiccups. I don't when I got so rigid and obsessed with schedules and plans....I used to be spontaneous and fun. I could blame it on parenthood, but really, a lot of things that freak me out have absolutely nothing to do with the kids.

I do know that certain things make it worse---sleep-deprivation, being hungry, being physically uncomfortable. All of those things make me more likely to flip when the plan changes. I also know that I don't like where this is going. G finds it baffling and I'm sure the boys would prefer me to a bit more laid back (or they will, when they get older).

There was an incident last week (after a night of literally no sleep with L pawing all over me for 6 hours) where G's cousin was coming over for dinner...instead of coming at 6:15, she came to our neighborhood and went to get a drink at a nearby bar at 4:45. I had to go to the grocery store and pick up pizza for the boys and take out the dog...and had timed it so I'd be home by 6:15. When I got G's text at 5:05 (when I was still in my office) that she was there and could I please text her as soon as I got home, I got so frazzled that I forgot half the items I needed at the grocery store and was literally running with my bags and coat to the pizza place. When I finally  made it home by 5:50 and texted the cousin, she was all "oh, I'm still working on my wine here, I'll be there around 6:15".

I mean, really, who cares if she's sitting at the bar twiddling her thumbs for an hour. Or that the meeting was shifted by a half an hour without any prior notification. Or that the dog took twice as long doing her business this evening and dinner wasn't ready by 6:15. Or that G decided to take the kids to Whole Foods for dinner on the way home because they were sooooo hunnnngggry. Or that I need to turn in another revision to the IRB because of one word that I inadvertently left in when I changed an aspect of the protocol. Or any of the million little and unavoidable things that happen in the course of a day that throw off a carefully planned schedule.

I'm not sure why I'm writing about this. Maybe because seeing it written out in black and white drives home how ridiculous this is?  I already know that. I think its mostly because I could use a fail safe trick for how to prevent my blood pressure from rising next time I'm confronted with a miniscule molehill. 

Monday, November 18, 2013


After working 2 weeks without a break, I really needed a chill weekend to reconnect with home and family. And that's exactly what we had. I know the weekend play-by-play is pretty boring for you guys to read, but I like having it here as a reminder or really a prototype of how I'd like my weekends to go!

Saturday morning the 3 of us (G, L, and myself) got up around 6. I was feeling "lazy" and lingered a bit over coffee and magazines, but left by 7ish for a run. Since we had nowhere to me, I ran longer than my usual 3 miles, but not too much since we had a full day ahead of us...maybe 4.5? It was perfect running weather, mid-40s, overcast.

After getting ready and having breakfast, we all went grocery shopping together, came home and had lunch, and the boys and I went to a birthday party at an indoor play gym (one of B's little friends). There was the usual social awkwardness around the other parents, saved partly by the fact that L (the smallest one there) frequently got himself stuck in little ball pits and needed me to get him out. I liked the low-key nature of the party---snacks and a cake, no meals. A pinata and little bags to take the candy home in, but no favors. By the way, it took the group of 15 preschoolers 30 minutes to get that cardboard princess pinata open. Some of the 5-6 year old girls were amazing with their stance and technique of bat swingings---my boys needed help from the assistants because they did not get the concept. Sports are likely not in our future. But I'm so getting (making?) a pinata for B's birthday party.

G stayed home and worked on home repair stuff. After getting home, the adults lay on the floor while the kids built train tracks around us and Skyped with grandma. Dinner, bed, hanging out with G. Good day.

Sunday morning we did a ton of cooking for the week and then took advantage of the unseasonably warm day to go to the park and have a picnic. Of course G & I got into a fight before hand and I was pissed the whole time, but I could still appreciate the nice outing. After coming home, I lay next to L for almost 2 hours so he could nap (naps have become quite...shit...these days) while G & B watched Monsters, Inc (he's moved on from Toy Story 3, which was watched every weekend for 3 months).  I thought I'd nap, too, but couldn't fall asleep and ended up just wasting time on my phone* since I hadn't thought to bring a book or magazine.  We then sped through all our chores and the bath routine because we had a sitter coming! We had a nice dinner at a new-to-us place (and I got to wear my new dress!), were home by a little after 9, and I promptly fell asleep with a belly full of creme brulee and sparkling wine.

The nice, low-key kind of weekend that keeps me grounded in life.

*I discovered GOMI and got lost in a rabbit-hole of snark about some of the healthy living and fashion blogs I used to read. I have since banned myself from it, because its awful, even as a guilty pleasure. I prefer to spend my limited leisure time on something even slightly positive and life-improving!

Friday, November 15, 2013

Good things can happen after 9pm

Life is nothing but a constant stream of conflicting interests. While I should have time enough for the things I prioritize (a la Laura Vanderkam), I still haven't figured out the secret (time turner?) to managing two priorities at once. There are the obvious conflicts of career vs. family, save vs. spend, etc... that we all experience. But there are also the smaller, everyday ones that I never can resolve.


  • Be "present" with kids in the evenings vs. get chores done so I can relax after they go to bed.
  • Socialize with friends vs. soak up time with kids on weekends.
  • Take advantage of flexibility at work for more time with kids during weekdays vs. get stuff done so I don't have to work evenings/weekends. 
  • And the one that inspired this post: go to bed early to be better rested vs. spend time with husband in evenings.
I go back and forth on each of these, swinging in one direction for days to months and then over-correcting to the other. As one who prefers order and schedule in her life, this drives me nuts. Can't I just pick one way of doing things and make it a habit so I know what to expect from day to day and month to month?

In addition to starting my week on call last Monday, I came down Sunday night with a nasty but thankfully short-lived stomach bug. And it was "Fall Back" day. I was exhausted all week, and knew my sleep would be interrupted, so I simply went to bed at 8:30-9 every night. It was amazing, I woke up alarm and kid-free at 5:30, worked out, had breakfast, and had enough energy to make it through the busy days---until I crashed again at 8:30. I decided to keep to that schedule indefinitely. 

By the next Monday, though, G started looking a little sad when I said "good night" as soon as the kids were in bed. I realized we hadn't sat down and chatted, or even watched a show together, in 10 days. After 8:30 was the only time we had to talk to each other. So Tuesday night I stayed up. I planned to watch one 22 minute show and have one drink...which turned into two shows, two drinks, and then a long but productive conversation about finances, investments, home improvements---things we really needed to talk about but never have the time and energy to delve into. 

I went to bed at 11pm and it was really hard when the alarm went off at 5:45. I decided it was a mistake and went back to the 8:30 bedtime on Wednesday. Then Thursday we had friends come over for dinner (takeout). They came at 6:30 so I figured we could finish up dinner and conversation and be in bed by 9? 9:30? We did finish dinner by 7:30, but the wine and conversation kept flowing, it was so much fun. The next thing we knew it was 10pm. We still had to clean up the kitchen, take the dog out, etc... Another 11pm night. Another tired morning where I actually didn't wake up until 6:20 when B came up to our bed, quickly followed by L. 

The lesson? Stick to the schedule so you're not tiredin the morning? Or don't stick to the schedule and have fun? Something about moderation? Hell if I know.

Monday, November 11, 2013

I survived...

It was a call weekend for the record books. Saw 30+ patients each day, rounded for about 9 hours (with a 20 minute lunch break), only to go home and spend 2-3 hours writing notes on said patients.

I am taking a bit of a breather today, working from home in the AM and going to check some personal errands off the list in the PM (return clothes, pick up books on hold at the library, get eyebrows waxed...nothing strenuous).

G really rose to the challenge and managed to provide fun outings for the kids AND take care of all of the household chores. When I got home yesterday evening, I was shocked to realize that everything was done. What an absolute relief, he really deserves a medal for that!

We ordered a pizza for ourselves instead of making even the simplest of dinners because we were both totally spent. It was delicious. The kids ate leftover pasta and chicken nuggets. I have no shame about reaching for the "kid food" when life gets tough. There is time to expand their palate later.

Then we all hung out in the living room, the boys climbing over us and laughing hysterically, having races with their ride on toys and coming around every few minutes for tickles and hugs while G and I were collapsed on the rug, marveling at their cuteness. It was a really good evening, like life was handing me the very thing I needed at the exact moment I needed it.

I noticed it, and I appreciated it, because it doesn't always work that way.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Two Under Two (years apart): The Good

There was a little discussion in the comments of one of my recent posts about the pain of having two kids close together in age. I've talked about this before.  But, to my readers that are currently in or expecting to be in the situation---take heart, its not all bad!

In the past couple of months we seem to have fallen into a really good rhythm. L turned 2 in early October and he really began to develop in leaps and bounds. His speech has caught up, his clinginess has decreased (mostly), and he has started to play independently for short pockets of time. (No his sleep has not improved).  I can sometimes go to another floor of the house by myself, to change out laundry or quickly use the bathroom, without him freaking out or getting into some mess.  All in all, things some a touch easier right now, and I am starting to appreciate some of the good sides of having kids close-ish together.

The obvious: you have the stuff. Since we had two of the same gender, we really needed nothing for L except newborn diapers. If you have a boy and a girl, you may need a few clothes to replace the obviously gendered ones, if you care about that kind of thing. But you've got everything else: the pack and play, the changing pads, the bouncy seat, swing, baby car seat and snap n go, rattles and toys, the carriers, the bottles, THE PUMP. And since we had just used it, it was all still out and arranged in our house or stored easily in the boys' closet. We hadn't given anything away yet, nothing was getting dusty and cobwebby in the basement.

Not so obvious: you have the routines and are still in them. We knew how to get ready for daycare in the morning, we HAD a daycare picked out and expecting us, I knew how often I needed to pump and how to store milk in the freezer, how to pack a diaper bag, how to make and freeze baby food, how to trade off overnight wakings and morning wakings with G, I had diapers and wipes on Subscribe and Save on Amazon, I had a babysitter, I had lists of what to bring when traveling. All that stuff you have to figure out when you have a newborn, we had JUST DONE, and were still doing in many cases with a toddler. Also, the house was baby proofed. B wasn't yet old enough to relax any of that, so we had no tiny choke-able toys or breakable items in reach. The baby gates were not only in place, we were still in the habit of using them regularly.

The sublime: very very soon they will be playmates. Suddenly, with L's recent advances, they are close enough in development that they are interested in the same toys. This DOES mean that we need duplicates of a lot of things to prevent fights, but it also means a lot less need for mommy and daddy to play cars and dinosaurs. They build "birthday cakes" out of Duplos together,  race cars on the floor, listen to music and dance around, watch Toy Story and Monsters Inc, and laugh and shout hysterically a lot. Yes, there are still many many instances were L seems hell-bent on destroying whatever project B is working on (play-doh and puzzles in particular), and he still can't be trusted with painting or crayons or anything that might end up in his mouth. But he'll grow out of that, or he won't, and we'll have to keep them separate for certain activities. Being at home on the weekends is just a teeny bit less exhausting because they can entertain themselves for a while (before the next fight breaks out..but hey, even 15-20 minutes for me to get a chore done or read a magazine is better then I've had in the past 3.83 years since B was born!)

Of course what I'm hoping for, the whole reason I spaced them close together (no, L was NOT in any way a surprise) is that they'll grow from playmates into friends. There is, of course, no predicting how a sibling relationship will end up, but I'm hoping I've created two friends for life.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Fine Print

Thanks for all the advice and support on my last post. I felt really vulnerable posting that ( so whiny!), and even more so as the comments starting appearing. Instead of posting long responses to the comments that would likely never be read, I would instead like to lay out a couple of disclaimers. I'd venture that these should really be universal advice for reading and commenting on blogs.

1. You don't know the whole story
I tend to be pretty open on here. I do, in fact, discuss my marriage and mental health fairly regularly. But there are things in my life that I don't blog about, either because they are not my story to tell, or because the experiences leave me too raw to open up to the wide world. I don't like to "vague-blog", so if I can't share it all, I usually just don't mention it.

No matter how much it seems that someone is laying there whole life out there, trust me, they are not. There is more to the story, and the "perfect life" may not be what it seems.

2. Mental Health and Attitude are two different things
I am a huge proponent of the notion of "choosing happiness" and believe its true that no one but ourselves can make as happy. I have, and am continuing to, work really hard at maintaining a positive attitude, reframing my thoughts to be more grateful and less cynical, and to embrace habits that lead to more contentment in my life. The subtitle to my blog "...to change her mind" reflects my intention to do what I can to recognize and fully experience the many joys I am fortunate to have in my life.

And that's the point. I realize I have a lot to be happy about but sometimes I am depressed and anxious. That's the fundamental thing about mental health issues---they are not caused by a "negative attitude". And positive thinking and "Happiness Project"-style lifestyle changes are not the cure for depression or anxiety*. Yes, I do believe that maladaptive cognitive processes play a role in affective disorders and that specialized cognitive behavioral therapy can help "un-learn" those negative thinking patterns. But it involves pretty intensive and long-term practice to get there; you can't "wish it away". I'm pretty determined, f I could have done so, I would have done it by now.

3. Yes I recognize my privilege
I do. I really really do. I know its nothing but simple luck that I was born healthy into a loving and healthy family with sufficient means that encouraged and supported my education. And I am good at standardized test taking. I realize that those things play an enormous role in any achievements I have garnered along the way.

I will not feel the need to point out my privilege in every post I write about my life and my feelings that is not 100% glowing and grateful. I will leave it as a given, and hope my readers "know me" well enough to not need reminders.

*I don't believe that I currently have true clinical depression, though I've had it in the past, and may well have it again. What I have more frequently (and seem to be having right now) are shorter, less severe bouts of "semi-depression"---depressed mood with many of the classic symptoms (lack of interest in things, poor sleep, changed appetite) but that lift on their own without meds or therapy. 

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Here where I am

I can't pinpoint a reason, but I've been feeling exceedingly and increasingly anxious and down the past couple of weeks. Everyone is healthy, we've had some fun times, and even have some more fun times to look forward to this weekend. Yet there it is, that tightness in my chest and churning in my stomach.

It's a mix of things, I suppose. Work has gotten busy and annoying on all fronts. Stupid IRB. Stupid schedulers. And sometimes, yes, stupid patients that call all the damn time for stupid things. I have a call week and weekend starting Monday. I HATE call weekends with a passion. Rounding on patients and families for 6-8 hours and then coming home and having to immediately take over with the kids--not a good set-up for an introvert.

Then there is the extra special fun of a 3 year old and a 2 year old. Tantrums everywhere, hitting/bad words, time outs, picky eating, sibling rivalry, sleep disruptions galore, and simply lots and lots of patience needed. Sometimes more patience than I can draw from my well. All compounded by that underlying knowledge that its going so fast, and these days will never come back.

We are going back and forth on re-financing the house. Which brings to the forefront money and financial stress. And all the things we need to get figured out before we get an appraisal---all of which represent--of course--time or money.

Tensions continue on the marriage front. For all the good intentions, I'm not the least bit surprised to report that we've sunk back into our status quo of quibbling and bickering, me holding things in, and retreating to our separate spaces every evening. The more stressed I get about it, the harder it is to bring up, the more I retreat. The cycle has begun again.

The approaching holidays, as usual, bring the anxiety of disappointing one set of grandparents (and likely two, because its never enough, is it?). Trying to diplomatically plan travel (more time and $$$), B's birthday celebrations, etc...

And I still haven't gotten any Halloween candy.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Good Intentions

I had my heart set on a series of real, thoughtful, meaty, non-bullet-pointed posts. Alas, that mountain seems too high to climb at this moment---I'm on week 2 of a lingering, exhausting URI/LRTI that is obliterating my motivation to do anything beyond the absolutely necessary.
A couple of you did ask about the steps G & I were taking to work on our relationship sans therapist. I want to write this down NOW, before we drift back into the status quo and forget all the fantastic intentions and insights we had, that time and stress will surely drive out of our heads.

At the first therapist visit, G talked a lot about how he feels like he's lost himself in the whirlwind of babies and toddlers and housework the past couple of years. He has no time for his activities or socialization, and feels very isolated and unmotivated. I've offered him time to himself, but he's been reluctant to take it, perhaps not knowing how sincere my offers have been. So we discussed that when help is offered, we should take advantage of it, and if its not offered, we should ask for it. Because both of us recognized that we actually feel good about helping out the other, so its a win win. We've been putting this into action on weekends and weekdays, where once a week I'll get the kids and do dinner/bath/bed myself so that G can work late (or do whatever he wishes, though he usually works late).  I guess technically this is not directly related to our relationship, but anything that helps us get more personal time does increase our general feeling of good will towards each other.

We also discussed my need for having time set aside to talk to each other without interruptions. At the visit, G suggested we eat dinner one night/week after the kids are in bed. We tried this, and basically we were starving and exhausted by 8:30 PM and scarfed down our food and then STILL had to clean up and I hated it. So we decided instead to sit down after the kids were asleep with a glass of wine once a week and talk (instead of our usual TV-watching, internet surfing, or going our separate ways to read/work/sleep). After we made this decision, of course, I got sick and have been going to bed early, and then I was gone for 2 days on a work trip, and then G got sick...so we have yet to try it out.

Also related to communication, we discussed how G tends to get defensive very easily when I bring up anything bothering me. Our conversations generally take this pattern: I bring something up, he gets defensive, I start to cry, he gets more defensive and now angry and starts the whole "Oh, I guess I can't do ANYTHING right, so this is another thing I'm doing wrong, etc..." I get annoyed by that nonsense and refuse to continue the conversation. He gets even madder. Then I get angry. We both say things we don't mean to say. One of us storms off.
A couple of times since we discussed this, he's checked himself, realizing he's getting defensive, and stepped back so that we could actually have a productive conversation. I was amazed.

Not discussed at the therapist, but something that we've both brought up before is the issue of s.ex. Or the lack of it, really, that is caused mostly by a mismatch in our optimal times of being in the mood. I am adamant about getting my sleep; so if we want to have our alone time, I would prefer it to be right after the kids are in bed. G insists that he can't just switch from childcare to sexytime mode, and needs to "unwind" for a while at which point I'm generally ready for bed. So he's always trying something as I'm getting ready for bed, after we've watched a movie, or gone out on a date night, and getting rejected because at that point I am exhausted and sleep is priority #1. Once we explained our rationales, it made it pretty easy to come up with the plan that when one of is was in the mood, we would have to be clear about it, and then we could unwind briefly with a drink or just chatting and then get to it, so that I wouldn't fall asleep or feel resentful that I was missing out on sleep and would be tired the next day.

G also mentioned how I never touch him affectionately. I'm honestly just not, and never have been,  very physically affectionate. But its something he needs, and I am working on it. I forget frequently---I got home from a 2-day trip and started making myself dinner (it was late and I was starving!) instead of giving him a hug. I know. I said I'm working on it.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is an issue that I am working on myself. It is my tendency to not want to bring up touchy subjects (conflict aversion) until they build up to a point that I explode, and having a rational conversation becomes difficult. I'm trying to bring things up as they arise. Not everything needs to be said, of course, I pick my battles. But if I've decided something is really bothering me and I want to talk about it, the time to do it is today, not waiting for some perfect moment when the stars align.

I think that's the whole of it. As you can see, we are approaching this with the best of intentions. I'll keep ya'll updated.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Goodby to the Brown Comfy Couch

So....we stopped going to therapy. It was a somewhat mutual decision; we both agreed that we did not like this particular woman. G was fairly adamant that we didn't need therapy, "But if YOU really feel we should go, research new people, meet with someone, and if they are better, I'll go with you". Doing all that the first time took a not unsubstantial amount of time and mental energy, which I possessed only because of the high hopes I carried about therapy. Now that those hopes are deflated, I don't really have the momentum to go through the process again. So I agreed to take a hiatus, and see how things go, with a plan to revisit the idea in 2014 if I think we need it.

In retrospect, I should have trusted my instincts on this. My first meeting with the woman, I noticed that her voice and mannerisms were somewhat annoying. But, I have a tendency to make snap judgements about people based on certain characteristics (voice is a big one...I've dropped classes because the professor's voice drove me up the wall), and I wanted to see if I could get past it. Also, I was lazy (see above re: process); there was nothing fundamentally wrong with her at the first meeting, so I wasn't eager to start over again. And I guess I was desperate to talk to someone about things, that I really had a lot to say the first session, the time flew by, and I felt hopeful that she could help us.

The second session was more awkward. There were several moments when I didn't have anything more to say, and she just sat there staring. Some guidance would've been immensely helpful---asking me about specific aspects about marriage, other aspects of my life...I don't know, is that not how it works? At the time, I chalked the awkwardness up to me being sick (as soon as I left, I realized I had chills, and a really fuzzy head, and was down with a bad cold for the next few days). Also, I assumed that since my major problems were with my marriage, that I didn't need much individual therapy, and that I needed to bring G in, since I'd run out of things to say myself.

So I brought G in, he did not protest or ask many questions. He showed up, and he participated. She asked him to "talk about you", and it was quite enlightening for me to see all the personal struggle he's going through, trying to maintain his identity in the wake up life's upheaval after having the boys. We talked about strategies for carving time out for himself on weekends, strategies for making the kind of progress at work that would lead to more satisfaction, and some ideas of how we could find time to talk more. Even in that session, I got the weird sense that she was "on my side"; when I mentioned how much I wanted to help him have his own space, she would jump in with "how does that make you feel, G? Can you see how much love she has for you?", or when it came up that I wanted us to have more time to talk together "see how much your wife wants to talk to you, she loves you so much.". It was...weird. But overall, G told me he found it helpful to talk to someone, and was fine with going back, so we went. I felt hopeful again, that maybe this would bring us closer together, get us back on track.

I mentioned that the second couples session was where it really broke down. Basically G got stuck on some minutiae, as he tends to do, and she never redirected the conversation to the more general, underlying problem (which was NOT about having time to fix the drywall holes in the bathroom, or our individual standards for clean kitchen counters). And again, I got that weird "on my side" sense, and a bit of "putting words in my mouth". "Oh, you must feel so hurt when he re-cleans the kitchen after you've already cleaned it". No, hurt isn't the word I would use. Annoyed and stabby? That's a different feeling. Anyways, we both left feeling awkward, annoyed, and further off track than ever before. Neither of us was eager to go back 5 days later at our next appointment.

So I  called her to cancel that appointment, wanting to leave a message, but she picked up. I told her we were really busy, and would need to get back to her. She started talking about the session, asking how we felt afterwards, and I admitted we found it frustrating and unhelpful. She was all "Yes, I don't remember exactly the session, but I probably could've done something differently. You learn as you work with a couple, and every couple is different, so some sessions don't go so smoothly". The gist was that she realized she didn't do her job that well, but would try harder next time?

G and I talked that evening and made the final decision not to return, but I haven't called her yet...

OK, this got longer than I'd planned. There will be a separate post on how things are going with G & I, and what we are trying to do to work on our marriage.

Monday, October 7, 2013

What I learned this weekend

Without much fanfare, L turned two. And the 4 of us had another lovely weekend. I learned (or re-learned) a few things:

Children's milestones are bittersweet for the parents. Saturday was a happy day, but there were some unshed tears about my baby growing up, etc. Mostly during swimming lessons, when I realized the adorableness of parent-child swimming instruction was soon to come to an end. I kind of love swimming lessons. The kids are so happy in the water, we get to snuggle them and bounce them while we sing ridiculous swimming-themed versions of nursery rhymes, and catch them when they "Have a great FAAAALLLL" off the side. Its a fun and child-focused moment that starts our often harried weekends on a great note.

$5 worth of decorations from the dollar store, and $7 worth of cake-baking ingredients are all a toddler (and his brother) needs for a special day.

When someone offers you a break, even if you don't think you need it, TAKE IT. You will never regret it.

Paradoxically, planning is essential to being able to enjoy laid-back and relaxed fun. Otherwise there is general stress about how things are going to get done that ruins the vibe.

G & I are actually doing OK as long as we make a point to talk about things. This does not necessarily involve going to therapy. I am working up the courage to call her and cancel this week's session, since we were both secretly dreading it and were so relieved that the other felt the same.

Sometimes kids can actually be a lot of fun. Not just "cute" or "interesting", but honest-to-goodness fun. Like the impromptu dance party we had last night...who knew the under-4 set would love the Beastie Boys so much?

Perception and reality can be miles apart. G was telling me that I never touch him (hug, kiss, hold hands) and that he needs more of that. I was shocked, I thought I'd been doing plenty of that. Then I asked him if my lack of affection was what caused HIS lack of affection. And he was shocked, "I'm ALWAYS touching you". This is why we need to talk.

A second opinion on online shopping acquisitions is key. I am strongly biased towards keeping everything, given the hassle of returns. So I second-guess my initial negative impressions. When G tells me that its "not me" (definitely a diplomatic way of putting it...), its going back*.

BTW, I am definitely keeping both eShakti dresses and all but one top and one wrong-size skirt from Boden. Also the 2 tops and 1 skirt from Loft. That's it, I promise. 

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Small Plates

Since I don't have the motivation to construct a coherent, themed essay-style post, we shall proceed tapas-style.

  • The psychologist is starting to annoy us. I kind of want to switch (or just quit and use the time/money to go on fun dates with G...is that a good sign, though?). We both felt like she was putting words into our mouths ("oh, you must have felt really hurt then?"...no, I was annoyed. Not "really hurt". Words matter when the very point of the activity is to improve communication.) Also I was feeling uncomfortably like she was taking "my side" and trying to show G how "hurt" he was making me feel. We ended up spending half the session on a little thing (something regarding kitchen-cleaning) that didn't merit this much discussion and ended up annoying both of us...I was hoping a trained therapist would be able to steer the conversation away from minutiae to the real heart of the problem. We have a session scheduled on Thursday afternoon at 4 pm next week...maybe we can switch it out for a glass of wine instead.
  • I went to a "Mommy Book Club" in my desperate effort to make friends. It was...surreal. I was the only full-time working mother there (there were several that "worked" 3-5 hours/week). Most had one, young child. There was a LOT of talk of birth stories, mommy-and-me classes, breastfeeding. I mostly sat and drank my wine. The only reason I decided to go to this was because as a "book club" I was hoping we could discuss something other than the aforementioned topics that tend to dominate any "Mommy" activity. My mistake.
  • No matter what I do, I feel tired and exhausted pretty constantly. Also frequent tension and/or migraine headaches. I'm going to bed early, exercising, drinking tons of water, no one is sick and L is mostly sleeping... I don't get it. No its not my thyroid. Also, no, I'm definitely not pregnant. 
  • The online shopping is getting out of hand. I can't stop buying more and more stuff. I've got a package en route from Loft (I got a $50 off $100 purchase, but 2 items added up to $99 so I had to get a third...). I got my 2 dresses from eshakti and love them both. One is a bit...chesty...for work, but will work nicely for date night. The other is modest enough for work but a bit "fancy" (lots of ruffly stuff at the neckline) and sleeveless. I'm thinking a more casual or structured jacket would tone it down and make it seasonally appropriate. So now I've been obsessed with finding such a jacket. The huge Boden package came in yesterday and I didn't get a chance to try things on yet except the shoes I got, which for some bizarre reason B thought were for him. They are straight up huge size 8 purple and pink color-blocked (or "colour-blocked" as they say) ankle-strapped wedges. Why would they be for a 3-year old boy??
  • Last weekend was really fun. Exhausting, because we stayed up way too late Friday and Saturday, and drank way too much both nights. But fun. And Sunday was relaxing with my parents here. And Monday & Tuesday were even more relaxing (no day care drop-offs! No cooking---and no cooking for the whole week, in fact, my mom made a TON). My parents did annoy me once, but I got over it.
  • L's birthday is Saturday and I am actually happy that it'll be just the 4 of us for the first time ever on a kids' birthday. We did a small store-bought cake with my parents last weekend, and he got his gifts from them (and B got a big gift, too, a new purple scooter...so that we could hand his little one down to L). I want to put streamers and balloons out in the kitchen Friday night so he can wake up to them. Then we'll do swimming lessons like always, and make a cake together. Then eat said cake. Enjoy what has got to be the last of the 80 degree weather. G got small gifts (books) for both kids that we can wrap. 
  • I was wracking my brain (is that the right spelling for that word?) to figure out a "birthday meal" for L. He seriously doesn't eat anything most times. Not pizza, no pasta, not chicken nuggets, not Indian food or Greek food or Thai food or Chinese food. Definitely not any vegetables. Not anything. Maybe the specialness of the birthday meal will be letting him eat only cake and ice cream and not bothering him with anything else. 
  • Work is annoying me right now. I revised a protocol to meet the scientific review committee concerns, but now its over-budget and I have to un-revise it. Except its already under review at the IRB (the budget took a few days to get back). So if it does get approved, I'll have to amend the protocol. But at least once its approved, I can get my (tiny, barely enough to get started) money. (Seriously, such a small amount I could have taken it out of my personal savings and hardly worried.) But I'm annoyed. I don't work very efficiently when annoyed. 
I don't know about you, but I always eat more when there are small plates involved.

Friday, September 27, 2013


I've been having a crisis of motivation lately---for pretty much anything productive, which seems to include blogging. More on that another day.

G and I had our first couples visit with the therapist yesterday. She did the whole listen/make noises thing (peppered with a few "and how does that make you feel") which I really did think I would hate, but found to be surprisingly effective in giving us a safe space to talk things over. I'm not quite ready to go into great detail yet, but we both thought it was helpful and plan to go again. In terms of concrete action, we decided we would: a) have dinner together one night a week after the kids are in bed so we could talk (and G would clean up afterwards, because the thought of eating dinner so late and then staying up later to clean up stressed me out incredibly) and b) set up one day a week for me to pick the boys up from school and one day for me to drop them off (we have been doing this unofficially for a couple of weeks, but G mentioned how helpful it was). Also, when telling each other our problems, we need to specify whether we want advice/solutions or simply listening/empathy. Oh, and I have to try to be more physically affectionate (hugs, hand-holding, etc...). The amazing thing is that we came up with all of those things on our own, talking together, the therapist was simply there. I guess there is a reason she does it this way...it must work for some people.

We have a action-packed weekend ahead. Friday I am picking the boys up early (daycare closes at 4:30 the last Friday of each month). We have friends coming over bringing dinner (my friend from my old lab and her fiance, we've been plotting to get the men together for ages, we hope they'll get along). Saturday is swimming lessons in the morning, block party/fundraiser in our 'hood in the afternoon, and then we have a sitter coming around 7 for us to go to a co-workers house for a barbecue (I'm not quite sure this will be "fun", but we have very few social events in our division, and I feel its important to go for a little while at least). Sunday my parents are coming for a very short (2.5 day) visit (my dad has a conference a couple of hours away, so they are coming to see me for a couple of days, then down to my sister's for a couple of days, and then to the conference for the rest of the week). It'll be nice to see them, and to get some help with the boys. G & I have dinner reservations somewhere low-key on Monday; I might stay home part of the day so I can spend some time with my parents, too.

My on-line shopping addiction returned full-force after my August spending ban. I tend to get itchy for new clothes at the change of seasons. In my defense, I realized over the past couple of months that a LOT of things no longer fit me (my boobs seem to have grown, making formerly conservative work-appropriate tops kind of...va-va-voomy for the clinic).  So there are huge piles of clothes in the "donate" pile of my closet right now. I also got rid of close to 50% of my clothes at the end of last winter for similar reasons, so I need to add some things back in. Since my sister raves about it constantly, I decided to try Boden again, and have a ton of stuff coming in the mail. I'm fully expecting to need to return at least half (last time, I returned all except one item, but I think I've got a better idea of sizing now). I also have 2 dresses from eshakti on the way. I heard about them on some blog, and the dresses are so so cute, and can be customized (though the only thing I did was change the length, since I'm a shorty). Overall I'm trying to completely make over my wardrobe into something more age- and stage- appropriate.

Well, I thought this would be a quick post, but I had a lot to stay. Thanks for sticking around.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Little Kids in the Big City

We went on a little mini-vacation to visit G's cousins in the big city. It was wonderful, except for the parts that were awful, as all vacations with kids go.

The weather was perfect. The cousins were gracious, generous, and very flexible hosts. The trips up and back were drama-free. Lots of delicious food and probably a bit too much delicious booze was consumed. The boys loved the attention; I loved having an extra pair (or three) of hands and legs to hold and/or run after the boys.

The kids didn't sleep enough nor did we; there were several fatigue-induced meltdowns had by kids and adults alike. We tried to do way too much the first day and the lack of downtime led to impressive over-stimulation and truly frustrating behavior. (I'm HUNNNNGGGGGRRRRRYYYY. I WANT PIIIIZZZAAAA. I don't like this pizza, I don't want pizza, I want a snack. I want crackers. No not those crackers. OOH HOT DOGS. I don't like this hot dog. WAAAAAHHHHHH.)

Friday night, when both kids were awake at 11PM and L was walking around in the dark enjoying the FREEDOM on his first night not in a crib and fell down a short flight of stairs to bonk his head on the hard kitchen floor...I regretted the whole thing.

Saturday morning, when the cousins had dragged me to an uber-trendy techno-music fueled spin class and G was left with the boys who had slept a mere 7 hours that night and had thrown no less than 5 fits each in the 2 hours I was gone....G was ready to pack up and go home.

But Friday afternoon, as we had beers on the deck of the ferry while all the kids sat and munched popcorn and turned their faces up to the wind, and Saturday afternoon, while we sat in the park and had amazing wine and cheese while the boys threw balls and frisbees, and Saturday night when L was acting like he actually took a few sips of the margarita he had grabbed from G because he was dancing and singing and hamming it up and B was stuffing his face with tortilla chips and too-spicy guacamole, and on so many other occasions, we were so so glad we came and were planning when we could do it again.

Its never all good or all bad. Sometimes its even hard to separate the good from the bad moments, things can turn on a dime from second to second. Just throw it all in there and blend it up, pour it in a glass and chug it down.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Two Years

Happy 2 year blogoversary to me!

I realized I completely missed the one year birthday of this blog, so I made a note on my calendar (is it only me that consistently has trouble spelling this word right?) to mark this day.

I love this space. I really do. I love the connections and friendships I've made. I love having somewhere to craft and release my thoughts and feelings. And I love the somewhat-ridiculous but utterly effective exercise of crowd-sourcing solutions to my most personal problems.

And of course I love you guys. I read and consider every single comment I get, whether I reply to it or not. And every time I get an email with a comment, I still get a tiny twinge of excitement. I wish you guys were all here, and we could sit down with big full glasses of malbec (or your beverage of choice) and talk about life and love and marriage and kids and all the wonderful and horrible in this world.

And for you lurkers (I know you're there, I've seen my stats...way more people read here than comment)---I love you too, simply for being here.



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

On Mindy, Nina, and playdates...and why we need to talk to our kids about race

So we got cable hooked up this weekend (it was cheaper to get cable + high-speed internet than to get our usual low-speed internet for a 9-month period). G turned it on so I could see the picture quality (crappy) and we happened to land on the season premiere of The Mindy Project. I only watched a couple of minutes (once the commercial break came on I remembered why I don't watch TV on TV) but I was struck by how unusual it was to see an Indian-American female lead character of a sitcom on a major TV network. I'm certain its never happened before---the only Indian female I can ever recall playing even a small part on television was that girl on ER for a bit (and I she wasn't American). 

I was even more struck by how Mindy Kaling would be perceived by a 13-year-old Indian-American girl. I can only imagine how much hope it would've inspired in me at 13 (when all I wanted was the fair skin, blond hair, and blue eyes of the Wakefield twins that I envisioned as the epitome of beauty) to see someone looking kind of like me jump off the screen not as a stereotype, but as a successful, strong, sexy, and hilarious everywoman. I believed (because I was told this, directly and indirectly, by every student and teacher in my school) that my ethnicity doomed me to be the uber-smart, nerdy, unattractive, and boring girl with the weird name for the rest of my life (or until I, you know, "went back to where I came from" which befuddled me because why would I move back to Brooklyn?).

I think beauty pageants are ridiculous, and I had no idea Miss America had even happened until I saw a friend link an article on facebook about how Nina Davuluri would never have succeeded in beauty pageants in India because her skin was too dark. Unfortunately clicking that link led down a scary rabbit hole to multiple articles displaying the horrific racist (and uneducated) tweets and responses to her win. Now I know that most minorities aren't the least bit surprised by this, as Anandi points out in her post.  But I, clearly naively, was shocked. Not by the fact that people may hold these opinions---I've heard and experienced plenty of anti-brown sentiment, especially post-9/11. What shocked me was that a lot of the "tweeters" were young girls and boys. Given the ubiquitous infiltration of Asian immigrants into every major and minor city in our fair land, I'd wager a bet that most of them shared sandboxes, juice, and germs with an Indian-American kid at some point in their early childhood education.

This proves to me, beyond a doubt, that simply exposing our kids to "diversity" is not enough. Anyone who thinks we live in a "post-racial" world has never read the comments of any article that mentions our country's president. Love and acceptance may be a default for young kids, but as they grow up, they are listening and watching what their elders say and do. And some of them are hearing explicitly racist viewpoints from their parents and family. Or witnessing exclusionary behavior where somehow only people who look like them are coming around the house and being invited to birthday parties. Saying nothing is not enough to counteract that. We have to talk to our kids about race. Answer their questions, no matter how uncomfortable it makes you. State our beliefs. We have to spread the message of acceptance and love, because the other side is clearly spreading theirs. 

I've seen some people argue "well its only a few ignorant people, the majority of people are not like that". I call BS. To quote that disgusting analogy, racists are like roaches---you see one, there are a few hundred more hiding in the baseboards. You don't have to "say racist things" to be a racist or to show your kids how you really feel. You can turn away when someone is trying to talk to you. You can "forget" to send an email inviting participation in the PTA. You can "be too busy" to schedule a playdate, as noted in this post, which incidentally made my chest hurt in fear and anger that this could happen to my boys in a couple of years.

I had hoped things had changed drastically in the 30+ years since my classmates in the deep south told me my skin was dirty, and informed me that my father must own a convenience store and that I must eat monkey brains, and asked me what tribe I'm from and whether I live in a teepee. Nope. Racism and ignorance is alive and well, and we still need to talk about it.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Our Summer Story

Yet again, Laura Vanderkam made me rethink things...this time, with her post "The Stories We Choose to Tell Ourselves"

She recounts what most people would agree represents a pretty tough week. Yet amidst the toughness were amazing moments. Isn't that how it is? Nothing is ever ALL good or ALL bad. We can change how we remember those periods by how we tell the story.

When I think back on this summer, I could see it as the summer G & I fought all the time, had no money, and never made it to the beach. Or I could see it as the summer of picnics, library visits, swimming, and enjoying all the fun, free stuff our city has to offer. All of those things are true, but I'd prefer to remember the latter. And the more I remind myself of all the good stuff we did, the easier it is for my mind to automatically associate this summer with all those wonderful things.

I've noticed that I've been doing too much of the opposite---labeling periods of time as "awful", thus making it really easy to conjure up the awfulness whenever my mind thinks back on that time. "Ugh July was the WORST." "My maternity leave with B was AWFUL. It snowed all the time and he cried all the time". Yet, we had an absolutely amazing fourth of July. We had a lot of fun bonding with other new-parent friends in the neighborhood when we were all snowed in with our  newborns. What's the harm in focusing on the good stuff? 

I don't think its disingenuous to focus on the positive. I think there is enough focus on the negative in our society. I'm choosing to change my story.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Where have I been?

Its been a while, what've I been up to? Bring on the bullet points...

  • Not sleeping. L started sleeping "like a baby", as in, not sleeping at all, and crying and fussing every 30 minutes from the moment we put him down until dark-o-clock in the morning when he wants "beckfoost". And even if he does get a stretch of sleep in, I'm up for other reasons. 

  • Scratching. For the past 3 weeks I've had intensely itchy arms and legs, with no visible rash to explain it. I can restrain myself all day, but man oh man, in the middle of the night I wake up and go to town. And then I can't go back to sleep (see: "not sleeping") My legs look like they've been attacked by a million angry kitties---all bloody and scarred up. Gross. (hydrocortisone cream and calamine lotion didn't help. Benadryl didn't help AND made me feel like I had general anesthesia for 24 hours). I finally was desperate enough to try to get help. 
  • Going to doctor's appointments. Regarding above scratching (Answer: "Its a mystery, isn't it?" $35 co-pay and 3 hour wait for that?), and other stuff.

  • Talking to the therapist. I went on Tuesday. It was....OK. I was nervous and unsure what to expect. She just had me talk. I realized that 100% of what I felt like talking about was related to G. She wants me to bring him in, but thinks we need one more individual session to get more into the specific issues we want to address. She basically asked open-ended questions and made supportive noises while I explained things. No suggestions or exercises or anything. Not sure if this is standard or just her style. We'll see how it goes. I'm going back Monday.
  • Dealing with the heartbreak of science. Like, when you do all your experiments exactly per protocol and nothing works and you want to cry. Or maybe its just because I'm so so tired.

Off to go try and prop my eyelids open during  faculty meeting. Wish me sleep tonight.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chief Complaint

So, I still haven't called the therapist yet. No, that's not true---I did try to call but never left a message. And I was hella relieved that no one picked up. The thing is, I have horrible phone anxiety. I really need to plan out what I'm going to say in my head before I make a call. And I'm kind of at a loss here.

As a clinician, I would imagine that she would want to know exactly how she could help me. What is it that I am reaching out to her about? My favorite phone calls from patients are those with a clearly outlined problem for which I am tasked to find a solution. The worst are long, rambling, full of multiple complaints (many of which are completely outside of my expertise) where it takes many minutes to guide the caller to let me know what it is they need from me.

I fear I would be that long rambling caller here. I've got lots of issues...and they are all kind of mild and inter-related. I can't meld them together into one single "chief complaint" that is amenable to a certain form of treatment. For example:

  • I feel overly anxious sometimes about seemingly little things. The anxiety is usually related to the following situations:
    • Social interactions (meeting new people, talking on the phone, asking for professional favors---like letters, advice)
    • Extended family relationships (esp. MIL)
    • Talking to my husband about anything that may elicit conflict (money, family, "us")
  • I lose my temper with my kids. Well, with B. I'm losing it less frequently (maybe once every couple of weeks?) but much more spectacularly recently. Screeching and yelling, threatening, rough hands. Ugh. I've got ways to avoid getting riled up, but when all those fail, it gets really really ugly and I kind of hate myself for a while.
  • I feel a loss of connection in my marriage. I suspect this is partially related to my absolute inability to bring up any touchy subjects with G. I don't know how this started, but the longer it goes on, the harder it gets. He hates that I let things stew until I explode---yet when things are going well, or going good-enough, I hate to rock the boat and ruin the moment. On the other hand, though, he never actually brings anything up himself. He says he's happy with how things are, but...really? 
OK, writing it out helped a bit. I'm actually thinking to maybe skip the phone call altogether and simply make an appointment. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Weekend Recap

Taking a break from Operation Head-shrink for a moment. I, no we, had a truly fabulous 4-day weekend. I need to document it for posterity (or at least for myself, for when I feel myself sliding into the grumpies).  We all woke up Friday morning feeling just fine, and continued that way throughout the weekend. The boys were happy, G & I were happy, even the dog was happy.

What made it so amazing? Several things. We had so much time each day that we didn't have to rush the kids, which relieved a LOT of tension. I went out and about with both boys on my own Friday which was really confidence-building. It was almost easier, not having to consult another adult. I had a loose schedule but let the kids call the shots. I also planned very well how to get our chores done (early in the AM) without them intruding on our entire day. We both decided that our cooking would be done by Sunday so that Monday would feel like a "free day". We had really easy meals that didn't involve much cooking/clean-up (noodles, hot dogs, sandwiches for the boys, take-out, pasta, and a meal out for us). G had some time off to spend with a friend (I didn't this weekend, but I often do, and he NEVER does...I was so so happy he took the time). G & I actually spent time together after the kids were in bed instead of going our own way, or collapsing in front of the TV. 

Here's the play by play:

Friday: I went for a morning run. G went to work. I hung out at home with the boys, slowly getting ready and then we left the house and were out ALL DAY, from 10-5 with B on his scooter and me pushing L in the stroller. We went to the "dinosaur museum" (Natural Science Museum) for a few hours, then to a nearby park to eat and play in the water and eat some more and then BACK to the dinosaur museum at B's insistence. L slept in the stroller for a short nap around noon (when B was eating at the park) and a longer nap after we left the museum. To lengthen the nap as much as possible, we got home and immediately headed back out with the dog for a walk and then to a nearby park where B played.

Soon after we arrived home, G was back and in rare form. The break he got from the daycare drop-off and pick-up routine seemed to have revitalized him. He was playful and fun with the boys, delighting them with magic tricks and roughhousing. The boys got through dinner/bath/bed without incident and then the two of us had a drink and sat outside. We ordered Thai food and started watching a movie (fell asleep halfway through). I thought to myself as we went to bed that it was a perfect day in every way.

Saturday: I got up early with L and had my coffee outside while he ran around playing. G went to the gym while I got the boys ready. I took B to the grocery store with me (him on scooter, me pushing empty stroller that is essential for grocery transport) and we got our week's shop done. Got home and played for a few hours. Went swimming at the Y in the afternoon. L slept and B & I watched part of a movie (Toy Story for the millionth time) while G made hummus to take with us to a party. Went to friend's house for block party---boys had a BLAST eating all kinds of food and jumping on the bouncy house (and eating lots of chocolate; said friend sells chocolate on-line as a side business and had tons of samples to try!). Got back too late and got kids into bed quickly. I fell asleep while G was reading stories to B.

Sunday: I worked out at home and then proceeded to cook up a storm. Before 10AM I had made the following:
  • peas hummus for boys' lunch
  • steamed carrots for boys' lunch
  • pesto from my basil plant
  • baked seasoned tofu
  • vegetable/tofu stir-fry with my own peanut/lime/ginger sauce concoction
  • garlic/wine kale
  • seasoned chicken sausage and mushrooms to put on pasta or use in omelets throughout the week
G went to brunch with a friend. I read lots and lots of books to the boys. After L's afternoon nap, went BACK to the dinosaur museum (B's request, he wanted daddy to see the T Rex since he missed it on Friday). Got ice cream on the way home, and then dinner/bath/early to bed.

Monday: Plans fell apart when it was pouring rain and B slept until nearly 10AM. Made pancakes. Tried to go the park during a lull in the rain but got soaked within 5 minutes. More books were read. While L napped, we convinced (with tantrums and tears) B to watch a different movie, and the 3 of us watched Finding Nemo. He approved, eventually. Popcorn helped. It actually stopped raining for good so we headed to the park. L finally learned to scooter! Which caused B to get jealous and possessive of his scooter and now I'm hunting down a used one to buy. Headed back home and had a bit of a rushed time trying to get the kids fed and bathed and ready because we had a sitter coming! G & I went for a nice (though pricey) meal. Well-deserved night out. Probably should have drank a bit more water and less booze...headache-y this morning and skipped my run for the first time in a loooonnng while.

There were certainly tantrums, and lost tempers, and mountains of laundry but there were lots of laughs and honest-to-goodness fun

Have a busy day (and week) ahead, but I'm actually already looking forward to next weekend!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The next smallest step

Thank you all for the advice, you are amazing and generous with your experience and your wisdom.

I actually did make a few concrete steps today:
Figured out what Behavior Health coverage plan I have
Called Benefits Center after spending too much time searching our on-line benefits site and NOT FINDING any information on said coverage plan (phone numbers, working web site)
Signed in on-line so I could search providers
Screened many potential therapists, googling each one to see if they had pictures, websites, or listings in psychology_today.
Emailed one "nice looking" and close by provider asking her exactly what I asked you guys.
Got her response: essentially, its reasonable to come on your own and we can decide whether couples therapy is right for you. Call me to discuss.

Let's see when/if I actually call her.

She has a website with a "method" for couples counseling that she uses, only I know nothing about these methods and not sure it would be a good fit. Anyone know anything about "EFT" (emotionally focused therapy)?

In other news, the boys' daycare is closed tomorrow and I decided that I'd take the day off (no, this is not the martyr game, it actually gets me out of several extremely unpleasant work obligations, whoo!)  I actually had grand plans for spending the day out and about exploring the city and soaking up the last of summer. But B came home acting weird...102.8 fever. And now I am starting to feel a bit achy and woozy. L had it Monday & Tuesday and G  just got over it (some kind of 48-hour fever/tired thing).

It may be a play at home and let kids watch movies kind of day. They won't care.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

You should really see someone for that...

Or where I ask the internet for advice that I might actually follow (this time).

I noticed today that I have recently written several comments urging bloggy-friends to seek professional help, or to congratulate them for seeking same help. Yet...

I have pointedly ignored several comments on my own blog from bloggy-friends suggesting that I myself seek professional help.

I know several bloggers that have eloquently and generously shared their own therapy experiences, which I found immensely helpful in understanding what to expect in both individual and marital counseling.  And I am certain it would help. But I can't seem to take the first step.

Why? Good old-fashioned laziness. And the tried-and-true, "oh I don't want to be a bother"-itis, wherein I don't want to take time or money for myself when certainly I could just PULL IT TOGETHER FOR THE LOVE ANA, there is nothing really WRONG, is there???

And then I'll  feel that sinking feeling I get walking home from work on Friday night, imaging an entire weekend full of opportunities for potentially yelling at my kids, or picking a fight with my husband, or hiding in the closet for a freaking moment of peace. Or I'll be sobbing in the bathroom, shaking with rage and disappointment after yet another pointless circular fight with G.

I think I need to talk to someone. But here is the question:

Any opinions on whether I should see someone for myself, or whether (since a lot of my issues are indeed related to communication issues with G) should we see someone together?

Pros for going myself: I don't need to involve G or "convince" him to go, its covered by insurance, I can only change myself so maybe I should focus on that. Maybe I can't work on the marriage until I've worked on myself?

Pros of going together: Finally, FINALLY (hopefully) an outside person that can help us break out of 10-year-old unproductive patterns of communication and fighting. To finally be able to know what he's thinking instead of constantly guessing and assuming and often getting it wrong. G is remarkably resistant to anything I tell him second hand, and immediately responsive to first-hand recommendations from "authority figures" or third parties.

What do you guys think?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Superficial Musings

"A Wrinkle in Time" could make a great movie.

Also, need to re-read all of Madeline L'Engle. For the fourth time. I also notice there are newer books I never found at my childhood library.

"Nude" colored stuff, like underwear, lipstick, and bandages, are made exclusively for white people.

Is it rude for me, as a non-white person, to say "white people"?

There should be an app for books that uses a Netflix-style algorithm to suggest books to you.

I've recently found that having a drink before 4pm means the rest of the day is going to be painful. Bye bye brunch mimosa and bloody mary.

If the children are fighting over something, and you buy a second to prevent the fighting, the second better be EXACTLY the same or the fighting will intensify (no buying the red one because the yellow one was inexplicably $2 more).

Maxi dresses just do not work for me. Oh well, I've got nice legs.

Also, I don't get the harem pants trend. Didn't do it 20 years ago, not gonna start now.

Wonder if "natural" deodorant really works or do you end up smelling "natural" as well.

What are you wondering about today?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Random assorted...

The weekend was mostly good. There were several changes in plans.
  • I did end up going to the book club because G pointed out the true reason I wasn't going (that I didn't realize until he mentioned it) which was me being stressed about him being stressed alone with the kids. He felt like an ass and insisted I go, and I did, and I enjoyed the break and the socialization.
  • G ended up coming along on the outing Sunday (my friend still met us there) and it was really fun for the kids and not bad for the old folks, either.  The weather was perfect for being outside, and I'm glad we took advantage. Plus this park is done for the year so this was our absolute last chance.
  • Sunday evening the tables were turned and I was the one that literally lost my head over B's tantrum/hitting/whining. (It started with B upending the bus toy that L was sitting on so that he fell backwards and hit his head on the concrete). It was not pretty. And ended up with me drinking a wee bit too much, ordering take-out and eating/spending a wee bit too much, and staying up a wee bit too late and now being completely done with Orange is the New Black and searching desperately for a new distraction. 
  • I woke up Monday with the faint smell of failure on me. I felt guilty for losing my cool with B (in my defense, I tried all the tricks I had up my sleeve and nothing worked. Nothing.) and for using what could be called "unhealthy coping mechanisms".  But, I shook it off and went on with my day. I am a work in progress.
I took the morning off to get B to a 10:30AM dentist appointment. B is a natural at the dentist; he loves playing in the waiting room, asks politely for the chocolate flavored paste, answers all the dentist's questions and opens his mouth wide while watching a show on the TV they have over the chair.  I'm dreading taking L, and purposefully didn't sign him up for dental insurance this academic year. He screams bloody murder for hair cuts and forget about the doctor, they had to get an extra person (in addition to me and the doc)  to hold all 20 lbs of him down to get his ears checked last time. On the other hand, B chats pleasantly with the hair dresser (and has been since his first haircut at 1.5 years) and offers his arm out for shots.

I am proud of how self-possessed B has become around adults. He was talking and joking with the dentist like it was nothing. He's still super awkward around kids his age, however. Last week, B asked G "Daddy are you my best friend?". G replied in the socially appropriate "I'm not your friend, I'm your father". Then B went on to (quite pitifully) explain how all his little friends had paired up into bestfriendships and he was left out and G felt like an ass.

On the way to the dentist I mentioned something happened to me "a long time ago, maybe when I was 20?" B asked when I would "get 20 again" and I had to tell him, "never. I'll never get 20 again". Then I explained how when his birthday came around, and he turned 4, he would never ever be 3 again..."so make sure you enjoy it". He didn't get the poignancy.

The timing of the dentist appointment gave us a lot of extra time. G & L left the house at 8:30, so B & I took his scooter out around the 'hood, then came home and chilled (he listened to music and I did email). We dawdled to the dentist and were done in 20 minutes. Then we had over an hour to spend before he could go to school---the kids go out to the park from 11-12 and his teacher told us earlier that unless he could make it before 11, he'd have to wait until 12. So I took him to the park and played for about an hour. It was relaxing.

I think I'd really enjoy having a day off each week, if I only had one kid to watch that day. No, who am I kidding, if I only had B to watch. But it would have to be a proper day off, not "working from home" while also performing childcare, which, I seriously don't get how people do this. I know they do it, I've read it on blogs (so it must be true!), but it must be inordinately inefficient and stressful, and half-assed unless your kids are champion nappers, or you stay up all night working.  Also, B was wonderfully behaved today, otherwise I wouldn't be saying this.

Hope your weeks are starting off great.

Friday, August 16, 2013

If you don't like it, change it

I went into last weekend trying to change my mindset, to notice the good things and not dwell on the bad. This weekend I'm adding on my other tactic to dealing with the not-so-wonderful in life. Not just changing my reactions, but changing my actions.

I was going to go to my bookclub meeting. Sometimes these are fun, sometimes they are boring or worse, draining. They occur at an inconvenient time (2pm) and involve schlepping somewhere (usually 30 minute commute) for an hour or so of conversation, which, depending on the attendees ranges from amazing to...yawn-fest. The list of attendees geared more yawn-fest, so I changed my rsvp to no. Instead I'll go get my eyebrows done, maybe a pedicure too? (since I'd already planned that time away from home).

I was going to go to a local event with G and the kids. When I mentioned it to G, he seemed less than enthused. So I'm taking a friend instead, for company and to help with the kids. I'm really excited about this. And he gets some time alone, which will hopefully help his attitude (after last weekends "talk" he was feeling better for a bit but seems to have re-entered the slump after several admittedly terrible set-backs this week).

While cooking last weekend was kind of fun, it was also tiring, and the resulting fight re: clean-up was definitely on the do-not-repeat list. So...we are simplifying meals. We've got leftover pizza, hot dogs, etc.. for the boys and G & I will have pasta if we don't feel up to the kiddie menu fare.

So to summarize: say no to commitments that don't make me 100% happy, hang out with friends, and simplify.

I'll update on Monday.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The good, the bad, the ugly...the long version

After Friday's affirmations on "being present" and "living in the moment", I set out to truly enjoy the weekend ahead. The results? As expected, they were mixed.

The Good
I was patient and attentive with the kids. We did a lot of stuff around the house and in the 'hood. Baked cookies, made waffles, scootered and rode bikes, several park trips, lots of books  read and stories told. I cooked a fair bit---in addition to the cookies & waffles, I made bean & cheese soft tacos for Saturday lunch, home-made pizza for Saturday dinner, and Sunday did a lot of our weekly cooking. We didn't have any big outings because G took on a home-improvement project that left me on the own with the boys for the majority---and as I've mentioned before, I can't really handle both boys on my own in the world (even with both of us around, L ran into traffic, shoved his hand in another kid's nose, licked the sidewalk a few times, and put a piece of broken glass in his mouth---and that was just Sunday morning).

It was truly a matter of attitude---instead of viewing all the cooking, grocery shopping, and basic kid-wrangling as horrendous chores to check off the list, I viewed them as integral and valuable aspects of family life. Instead of counting down the hours until bedtime, I savored the time to be with my kids and really notice them---what skills have they picked up, what things delight them naturally, and how can I guide them to grow and learn? Yeah yeah, cheesy, but I'm only on the "good" so bear with me.

The Bad
On Saturday both boys seemed to have lost their freaking minds (and consequently, contributed greatly towards us losing ours). L barely napped and was clingy and whiny the whole rest of the afternoon (because he was TIRED, duh!). B had frequent meltdowns, with inconsolable crying and screaming over...who knows.

G is not good with dealing with B's meltdowns. His response generally consists of "STOP CRYING RIGHT NOW! There is no reason to cry! Stop it!" and maybe some lectures. Which, yeah...accurate, but not exactly creative parenting. After about 30 seconds, G enters his own meltdown usually and I am required to placate both of them. B's first episode was on the way home from the park, where I popped into the store with L to grab a couple of things while B & G waited outside with the dog near a little fountain across the street. Apparently B really wanted to come with me, and escaped from G into the street to get to the store. In fear (and anger), G jerked him back and...the screaming lasted until I got back, when it turned into robotic broken-record whining "I wanna go to the stooooore" repeated for 10 more minutes.

Two more such episodes occurred, the last at bedtime. The boys bathed happily together and then I took L for stories. G had actually asked me to let him take L because he wasn't up to dealing with B, but I was also tired and have done B's (long and boring library books) bedtime stories EVERY DAY this week so I kind of wanted a break, and didn't know it would get this bad. B freaked out, screaming, saying he wanted mommy, and after distraction or reasoning didn't work, G forcefully brushed his teeth.

And that leads us to...

The Ugly

B emerged from the bathroom in tears, but calmed down quickly and we finished stories. When I tucked him in, he told me "I was sad because daddy squeezed my hands hard. I didn't like it. Can you tell him not to do it?". Ugh. I honestly didn't want to deal with G so I went upstairs to shower but heard B rattling the door (he can't open the door yet, thank the universe!)---B went in and came out exasperated---"He only wants YOU". I went in and he asked "did you tell daddy yet?". I told him no, but how about YOU tell him? So I called G up and B told him how he didn't like his hands being held tightly or being pulled. Apologies, hugs, bedtime.

Then G and I had a talk. The gist of us was that G doesn't know what to do when B freaks out. He also gets overwhelmed spending ALL DAY with the boys on weekends without outings or plans. His favorite part of the day was working outside on the fence alone.

So I gave him some tips for dealing with meltdowns. Tell stories, break out the i-phone and turn on music or videos, distract him with a task (jump over this plant, find a blue car), or counting (doesn't work when he's REALLY freaking out, but its a tool). Or just let him cry and work it out himself if nothing helps. And I told him he could have more time Sunday to work on the fence or whatever he needed. And then he says "ugh. work work work. Work on the fence, work in the house. And then you had to go and make pizza instead of just ordering it, and I have to clean up the huge mess in the kitchen". And this is where I LOST MY SHIT ya'll.

What does he expect? This is life! We are grown-ups and he chose to get married, buy a house, and have kids. He KNOWS we are trying to save money so we need to do more ourselves.  I also thought the kids would like to help make pizza so it'd be an activity! (They ended up not helping at all because G was showing them Sesame Street videos on the laptop at the time and I can't compete with screen time). He wanted to work on the fence, told me he enjoyed it, and then complains about it?

I told him he needed to completely change his attitude. I was working really hard on that myself, and it is helping. And if he needs something to change, he needs to think about and be able to articulate what he needs so that we can discuss it and make it happen. Or if he's that miserable, leave. He can't just be miserable and not work on either a) modifying his thought processes or b) making concrete changes to be happier all the while c) ruining MY happiness.

More was said and discussed and I cried a lot, but eventually he admitted that he isn't always miserable, today was just overwhelming. He liked the tips for dealing with B. He agreed that his attitude has been awful and he is going to work on it.

More Good
Sunday was much more uniformly good. G was hemming and hawing about working out in the morning and I basically kicked his ass out the door, which he thanked me for later. He told me in the afternoon that he had a better attitude and everything seemed better overall. Sunday evening, G was starving so I let him have dinner while I got L to bed. L is so sweet with his tiny little voice and his own little language that it brought tears to my eyes. I then went downstairs and the tears came again as I saw G cooking these (we were going with an "Indian Food" theme this week) with B beside him on the stool, rolling out dough like an expert. "Where on earth did he learn that?" I asked. "No idea, what an awesome kid, huh?" G replied.

We're going to be OK. It just takes some work. Like everything else in life worth doing.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Never before and never since, I promise

I've been thinking about this for a while. Months, years maybe...yet I seem to forget and fall into old patterns of thinking. The old "things will be better when..." Of viewing life as something to "get through" until xyz happens and then my real life will begin---the one that's easy, and carefree, and amazing. 

Lately, I feel that everything is to be "gotten through"---get through the morning to get to work, get through work to get home, get through the evening routine to get to bed, and even get through the weekend. I view my evenings of dog-walking, lunch-making, kid-wrangling as my "second shift" but I could also choose to view it as "family time". The activities are the same, but the attitude is different.

I'm OK at noticing the unequivocally good moments, but I want to be better at noticing all of it...because there may be good moments hidden in the tedious ones. Or maybe it is truly tedious, but there are lessons to be had with that, too. I want to stop escaping my life by picking up my phone and losing myself in someone else's story instead of diving into my own.

 I read today about 2 mothers in their 30s diagnosed with cancer. Also about a little boy, age 2. Nothing is guaranteed. Waiting for "things will bet better when..." results in me missing an awful lot of todays and for what?

I love this quote I found somewhere. I've got it posted on my desktop at work to look at whenever I'm feeling whiny about my life:

“With sour faces we let a thousand bright and pleasant hours slip by unenjoyed and afterwards vainly sigh for their return when times are trying and depressing….we should cherish every present moment that is bearable, even the most ordinary, which with such indifference we now let slip by, and even with impatience push on.” —Schopenhauer