Every Wednesday I am reminded of Leo’s piano lesson. He quit (three) years ago.
On Tuesdays I am supposed to pick up the milk. We stopped buying raw milk about a year ago, six months before our farm stopped selling it. That left us less miserable than other members, and each week (as I x out Cal’s reminder) I remember agonizing over the decision that turned out to only have impact for 6 months. Or, if you are iCal forEVER.
I also practice yoga twice a week, run three times a week and walk twice a week. It is a very active life. I am surprised I can fit it all in. Except of course I do none of those things (anymore.)
She (I think of iCal as a girl probably because of Siri, despite being named Cal) keeps me on my toes about my farm share pickup. She is two days late every week, but I forgive her, because I never told her about the new pick up day. These changes can be difficult to input. Particularly when they happened as recently as 4 years ago.
Oliver likes to tell me that early is on time, on time is late and late is early for the next thing (sanctimonious little 3rd grader). Maybe Cal agrees with him, and is just getting me ready for next weeks share. Or she is locked in the past. Either way.
The recurring event is usually an act of optimism (or at least leaving out the end date is.)
Between clouds, phones, iPads, google, and various other synching issues she is just hopelessly out of the loop. I x out her reminders without irritation though. She is not to blame she just wants me to be the (sporty, local foodie, great mom) best me i(cal) can be.
I consider kicking Steve into his alarm clock to silence it.
Showering is just too difficult. Too much energy.
When my kid kisses me I check him for snot trails. Just common sense.
I eat cereal. Begin countdown to shakes, and stomach pain. Too difficult to make a real breakfast.
The sunlight highlights the dust on my dashboard. So dusty. Too difficult to clean.
The smell of (<—–this) in my office makes me want to gag.
I am at my office. Instead of the workout place.
I can’t remember the name of the workout place.
I see that the photo is blurry, but the effort to retake it is just too much. I mean, I took it once, launched the drop box app, opened the photo, took a screen shot, and uploaded it. That should be it for the day, right?
Its better off leaving that one out.
Im hoping we have four iPads charged so when the four kids are in my house this afternoon they can all be on a screen so I don’t have to leave my couch/bed/wherever I have settled.
“You don’t make me happy. You are the worst mama on earth.”
“You are right, I can’t make you happy. Only you can make you happy.”
See, that there, that’s high level stuff. Really first rate parenting. Clearly the six year old mid meltdown will integrate this wisdom and immediately re-set his mood.
“How?” he wails.
I look up from the laptop. “A bike ride?” “A great snack, a nap, reading a book?”
“NO NO NO NO.”
I’ve already proven that I don’t believe he is the one to fix it by offering these hypocritical suggestions from behind my screen.
So I leave it at that and go back to Facebook. Seriously I can’t believe the Facebook icons. What are you doing, eating, what are you eating, iconic bacon? ice cream? I imagine the database behind the scenes tracking our choices, sending the info to be studied by university grad students. 30 something women choose the ice cream icon most at 6pm. Then the eventual headlines. Women who post in the evening more likely to be sarcastic, overweight, study shows. This is crazy, status updates despite their long for social media character limits, already reduce our communication to, well, status updates. Do we really need iconography?
Something is distracting me from my Facebook lambasting. Its not the parallel thought lines about medical records and how for the general good we should be reduced to icons so that all of our fields are universal and distant providers can actually share data. No, not that, as fascinating as it is. And this flower, sort of dying, bringing down the whole bouquet really. Not that, what? OH, RIGHT.
There he his. Small toe tapping. Still glaring. Worst. Mama. Ever.
I look at him. He is just radiating anger. It is like the pigpen dirt pile, but with black mood instead of black earth.
I weigh my options. This is a tenuous time. My next move might change the course of my entire afternoon. I crack a small smile, eyebrows raised. “I see you there, I try to say without saying it” “I love you.” I blow him a kiss. And he beams, blows me a kiss and skips away singing.
The last thing I saw was a weeping scorpion in a tie dye shirt.
“Don’t leave me.”
The first day of kindergarten was joyous. This sing along picnic was so so sad. It felt a little inside out that way. Leo at least wore his insides out.
The morning started with a grimace from Steve, telling me that our eight day of wind and rain had freed our boat from its mooring.
I squashed my inner elation. Steve was actually upset. And needed to deal with the marooned boat corpse on the same day that the IBM layoffs were being announced.
He got the call from his manager while I was at the computer, making eavesdropping the only logical choice. “I see.” “No” “No” “No.” My husband’s “never say more than needed to anyone in a position of authority left me with little information. Then, “while I have you on the phone I’d like to talk to you about. Blah ba di blah blah these three letters these other four letters.” IBM jargon…must mean he was “not effected” More IBM jargon. Instead of telling Steve which of his close collegues had been laid off he was instructed to proceed with business as usual and if he didn’t get a response to go ahead and “ping” that person’t manager and if the manager didn’t respond then he should get back in touch with the third line. (See I’ve picked up some jargon over the years.)
Some friends of course were “effected.”
I went out then, to do more stay at home mom things, like pick up gift cards for the teachers and supplies for the class party. Important items. Integral really.
Arriving at school early for the sing along Leo intercepted me. Sporting the field day tie dye (indoors due to biblical rains) and a scorpion face paint he struck a pose. That was the last happy moment.
The blueberry muffin that he had requested for our (indoor) picnic treat did not meet with the scorpion’s approval. “This is DISGUSTING”, he pronounced. Then raised his fist and smashed it down on the muffin. Two table mates quickly volunteered to take on the offensive muffin but the scorpion king would hear nothing of it. If he was not enjoying a muffin no one would.
I soldiered through the picnic agenda, reading aloud the book he had written. Called “the laugh” he showed me his story map with the problem noted by a lightening strike sign. What’s the problem? I asked. The bear won’t stop tickling the bird so he cant stop laughing. That sounds like a funny problem I told him. Just as I was reaching out to tickle Leo and try to bring him back from the edge I glimpsed his scowl and my hand retreated on its own.
His teacher had caught the muffin smack down and was raising an eyebrow at me. We have had an ongoing dialogue this year about Leo’s moods. I would describe him as emotional and hyper sensitive, she would describe him as easygoing, attentive, and a pleasure. I was always happy to hear that he was a great classroom citizen, yet I wanted her to know about the darker side of Leo…thinking ahead to a first grade placement with a potentially less skilled teacher. We had lucked onto the Treehouse team which I consider (ed) magical. An incredible blend of wet shoed, dirty handed exploration, tie dyed sing alongs, and story diagrams as the kids began to see themselves as writers, scientists and mathematicians. She saw it now, for the first time at this final gathering and gave me a long look.
I was elated. And saddened. The immaculate classroom Leo banging up against the shore with a hole in his hull. He is, after all, a real boy. And today a boy scorpion.
Next up was class gifts. He muttered his way through this without tears or yelling, but the shit really hit the fan during sing along. We gathered. he hung back. I tried to gently nudge him towards the horseshoe of happy kids and he squashed my hand trying to back further away.
The magical teacher approached.
“Its not a choice” she told him. So he went. He sobbed in front of the two classes and the 25 parents. Fists against eyes, green and black paint running in streaks down his cheeks. During the second verse of the gorgeous song about nature and community and all other good things I saw the source of the panic. A semi solo.
He stood with his back to the class mumbling. He was not alone, another two kids whispered with him, their small group missing any of the 10/12 girls who were belting out all of the words of the chorus with beaming butterfly faces.
Post verse he was a bit better, no longer hiding his face, going through some of the motions, then finally free, to melt into me. Next to us was a friend with her son. She turned to her kindergartener (for two more days) and told him she was going to visit her second grader. That morning on the ride to school I had asked Oliver if I could pop in to say hi to him when I was coming or going from leos picnic. :Don’t bother” he told me. I shared the story with the friend and Leo snuffled and dried his eyes. “He’s growing up.”
Next came the slideshow. Happy kindergarteners in shafts of sunlight hiking, exploring, investigating, singing. One of those pre-nostalgia moments where we can see what we will miss before it is gone. Wonderful faces. The final slide taken from afar had two classes worth of kids running up a hill, backs to the camera, climbing higher.
I gave him a squeeze, he gave me a smile.
It was time to leave him. A hug. Another hug. A third hug. Just one more hug mama. So one more. Then I am walking away and his arms are around me. “I wont let you go. You cant leave me.” Two other boys join in. Arms around Leo’s arms. We will help Leo make you stay. I peel off six arms. I imagine he will have their support. But he has left them behind, following me. Those two know to stay in the class room but he is down the hall. “one more hug” he calls. Weeping. “I’ll see you soon love”
I walk away.
Snippets of the day in my mind, the friend with the father in surgery, the friend headed to the funeral, the older brother who had multiple seizures, the stress fracture, the broken blueberry muffin, the rainy rain.
The last thing I see is the weeping scorpion in the tie dye shirt.
In any case I think it is time to write about something even more honest than career confusion.
Many of my close friends know I battle depression because when they ask me how I am doing in a casual chatty way I answer with a more disclosure than is comfortable kind of answer. “Oh, I’m adjusting my meds- I haven’t really wanted to get out of bed this week.” But I say it with a smile so they don’t get too worried.
I first started talk therapy in high school when my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. It was a bit of a lark then. Almost like a paid friend. I was in therapy because of conditions outside my control. I was a victim and it was a comfortable place to be and a novel way to be perceived.
In college I don’t remember being depressed. My live in boyfriend (now ex-husband) was for sure. He self medicated by smoking pot daily, writing convoluted sci fi and picking political fights. I was super together in comparison. That relative sanity masked some real struggle. It came out through work. I wrote about expectations, academic accolades, and the inability to get started on big projects.
It was after graduation, and during my divorce that things got bad.
And have never really gotten better.
For 15 years I have been in therapy, medicated for most of them. My outer life looks good. I have some weight issues, some career confusion, but far outweighing that is my incredible family, happy life.
The gloom is always present. Or at least it feels that way when it is present. The best parallel I can make for those of you with a clear head is pain. When you are in pain you cant really imagine life without it. When you don’t feel pain it is hard to conjure it. This gloom runs in the background- pushed back by art projects with kids, and French Open tennis, and walking in the woods. It can flare up in quiet or in busy-ness. One missed kids birthday party and the sinkhole opens. The cheerful invitation still sealed in its envelope. Heart pounding while I wait for the date. May something FUCK. Its June.
Imagining the kids waiting for Oliver’s RSVP. Imagining Oliver finding out that he missed the party. What kind of person doesn’t open her mail? How incredible SAD this situation is. Almost unbearably sad. One missed party = personal character assassination and perceived crushing experience for two seven year olds.
Do I know this is not the reality? Yes. I know. I know this is not real. I call and leave a funny apology message. I decide to spare one 7 year old and not tell Oliver he missed the party. In bed that night it goes on the list of failures. So long.
Do I know how this sounds? How miserable? Yes.
Not for help. I know how to help myself, I can look back and see this has been coming on since the Holiday Party. The one where I cared about RSVPs. I know it wasnt around last summer. I was OK then. I am not good now. I will be good again.
I am writing it because it helps me to say it. To yank it out of my head, this gloom blanket and put it in the sun to air. I am writing because some of you may feel it. Maybe even more than I know.
I wrote this on January 18th. I never posted it. I haven’t written anything since. Perhaps posting this old thing will get me back on track.
I seem to have a brain blank about today being the 18th (this is where the disclaimer helps). To my grey matter tomorrow is the 18th, although my cell phone knows that today is the day.
Is it a problem that I trust my iPhone over me?
Driving into work I asked me why today shouldn’t be the 18th. I answered with the double illogic that is usually reserved for my dream state. “because even days should be on even days.” What? Well duh. “The 18th should be on a thursday, an EVEN day” (remember this post was written on Wednesday, to add a layer of confusion to the double illogic.)
M,W,F 1,3,5 = odd
Tu, Th 2,4 = even.
And what about the weekend? “Neither.” Those don’t have numbers.
I have long known that I view the year like this:
Where I am climbing an ever thinner ladder through the fall, then hopping a chasm and tumbling through linger and wider months until I hit summer which has no monthly differentiation. I guess that this started with school, and was reinforced by hours of light in the day. So that’s my year.
When I am making plans, or learning someone’s birthday the chute/ladder month will light up in my mental calendar. Unless you name a summer month and then I go a bit fuzzy. Sort of a dim low glow.
When I found out that Oliver’s school started in August it upset me.
So this month thing is old news. But even days are new.
Do any of you have calendar oddities? Or am I the oddest of all?
I temporarily misplaced my laptop charger sometime between Monday and Tuesday. I remained so convinced that I would find it that I didn’t replace it until this morning. This led to a very strange work week.
I suffered from cord envy
On instagram I came across a compelling image of a laptop, a sparkling glass of wine, and a beautiful bowl of clementines and all I could focus on was the tiny curl of tempting white cord. It looked so life giving and present. At meetings, while being complimented on my “new” iPad (not new, just not usually a meeting attendee) I instead wished myself to be one of those juggling messenger bags with cord placements, and scraping large restaurant tables away from hidden outlets. Ah, the outlet search. I was no longer a member of the juicing circuit. That iPad could hold its charge all day. No problem. Despite that perk.
I still can’t get behind the iPad as a work device.
Best toy ever? Yes.
Something I can use to monitor social media? Meh.
A tool to create spreadsheets, analyze real data, even write this blog post? No way.
To try to combat this problem I invested (time and or $) in even more “work like” apps. I already view and do minor edits on docs generated by Keynote, Pages, and Numbers. I added Dropbox, mindmeister, Blogsy, and Keynotopia. If anyone can tell me that I didn’t waste my money (or time) I would be thrilled to integrate your reasoning into my rationalization.
During my Anna, Unplugged phase I also decided and undecided to run for office. I met with some town officials, attended a school budget meeting, printed out the necessary signature sheets, and picked the brains of a few friends behind much loftier political campaigns than my fantasy Shelburne Select Board campaign…what a freaking roller coaster. Pointing towards running was the 100% male conservative makeup of the select board, my desire to volunteer my time to improve Shelburne, and that lovely woman who stopped in the hall of the community school to tell me she enjoyed my points at a previous budget meetings and thought I should be on the select board. Pointing away from running was the short time left to campaign, the fact that I had just “tuned in” and couldn’t draw on a deep knowledge of how the board operated, and not wanting to alienate those conservative yes, but actually really lovely men on the board. Shelburne (and maybe many small towns) has a history of having uncontested races for select board seats. Does that make for the best representation, perhaps not, but it makes for the best town parades and picnics. So not going to run. Forgive me nice lady in the SCS hallway to whom I represented that I would run. I have changed my mind. Perhaps this ability to flip flop might be my highest qualification for office. Heres to 2013.
From Google Reader to actual Reader
Without the niggling pressure of the google reader and the 152 RSS feeds which I drown in subscribe to, I had to find something else to read. Actually, I found this something else because our great local mac store (from which I bought the laptop cord, to which I am now plugged in) doesn’t open until 10 am. Don’t they know that we need juice? Despite KNOWING that they didn’t open until 10 I spent from 9am-9:59 in their parking lot. Which is shared by a Barnes and Noble. Which I entered for the first time in years. Did you know they sell Legos there? And they have a Nook center. That cracked me up. Sort of a store within a store taking up prime real estate, and given a wide berth by shoppers. Anyways. I bought this book.
And you should too. Then we can talk about it. And start fixing the world.
Going to skip tales of road trip, family visit, incredible Toronto Design center, and all work related things. Must seek commiseration for one particular experience.
If you had asked me what would cause a 6 year old boy GREAT JOY and his mother (who was already sporting a headache and dealing with his younger exhausted brother) GREAT PAIN…
I would have guessed:
star wars, anything animated, or active, a “show” where he “performs” acts using the treadmill as a stage and seems to have hired the same team that edits the last few sketches for Saturday night live, an 11pm bedtime…
You get my point. The list would be long and varied. Pretty much anything can excite Oliver, and in my state pretty much anything would have been miserable.
On the plus side:
Horses, knights, eating with our hands.
On the minus side:
Acoustics, being herded like cattle through 500 people, the fact that they apparently had pepsi in medieval times, but not vegetables, the add on costs of every freaking thing, getting poked in the eyes with flags, how easily flags can be used as swords when inspired by knights, fog machines, freezing rain (although that isn’t the fault of the show…), the fact that we will have to go again.
It’s a good thing that the first Parenting on Track pitch I heard wasn’t “its based on love.” My love was never really the question…my boys’ survival to their teen years was. A friend told me aboutVicki’s class, and when I visited the Parenting on Track website I was promised that I could stop nagging and being a sherpa. (Right on!)
Arriving at class Vicki clapped as she followed us to our seats in a no holds barred display of what we do with our praise addicted kids…”oh good for you, you sat down, look at that sip of water that you took, yeah for you!”
Through 20 years of teaching she has culled stories that bring her philosophy to life. We can dissect the concept of a “mistaken beliefs,” and what it means in Adlerian psychology, OR we can talk about carrying a screaming kids to the car because of our intense desire to be on time for everything. Let’s talk tantrums. In class we add on to the initial tale with our own stories of buried alarm clocks, log rolls to the car, and backpacks stuffed with 3 week old homework while library books look longingly from the bench.
Illustrating each of the core lessons from Parenting on Track with stories from families is the format of RP, RP. It is an easy read. And an inspirational one. After taking her class, collaborating on an app, watching her DVDs, and traveling with her I didn’t imagine that this book would teach me anything new, yet after reading it in one sitting I had three scrawled pages of notes. Finally, the elusive fourth C. Start Road map with Leo. Re-do Family mission now that boys are older. Explain ABCDE. On and on they went. I was reminded of things I had started, techniques that would help, entertained by stories of families like ours.
The biggest gift was being shown that our parenting is never done…the settings and dialogue changes, but the motivation doesn’t. That image of the grown independent child, who chooses to have us be part of his life. He’s 18 months and asked to sit through family meeting while we appreciate him. He is three and chopping vegetables for dinner. He is five and riding the bus to school with the lunch he made himself. He is 7 and choosing his after school activities. He is 9 and planning and paying for his own birthday party. He is 13 and traveling across the state with a cousin. He is 19 and in college, calling home and managing his study time. He is 22 and employed. He is 30 something and parenting on track.
Thank you Vicki.
It is based on the love we have for our children that means we believe in them, we encourage them to make their own choices, we hold them accountable for those choices, we listen to them on a deep level, and we include them as the integral part of our families that they are. And it is based on the love we have for ourselves that means we believe in ourselves, we encourage ourselves to make sometimes really hard choices, we hold ourselves accountable for these choices, we listen to our own inner programs on a deep level (and often deprogram them!), and we see ourselves as individuals in a democratic partnership with our children. – Vicki Hoefle, closing of Real Parents, Real Progress.
Parenting on Track has shown up extensively in my past posts: