Dumb Dumb Dumb Dumb

A couple of days ago my friend made a facebook group for people trying to run/jog/walk 1000 miles in 2014 and then posted a status update about it asking friends to let her know if they wanted in. There is no way on god’s green earth that I am making it to 1000 miles this year. My jogging has been a solo endeavor. It actually needs to be a solo endeavor. I’m an introvert with a severe anxiety disorder. The thought of jogging with another human makes me want to puke.

So joining a running club or finding an informal crew to go out with isn’t really an option for me. I like being alone. People have explained to me that they chat on their runs with friends and it cracks me up. I’m gasping for breath the whole time. I cannot imagine carrying on a conversation.

All of that said, I know next to nothing about training. The idea of an online community of actual runners appealed to me-I could learn a thing or two. I wanted in.

Yesterday I was poking some fun at my slow running times and another person in the group suggested speedwork to increase my pace. I had to google it. I also was introduced to the fabulous word fartlek (Thanks, Kelly). Obviously the highlight of my day.

I found an article explaining speedwork for beginners and I decided to do it this morning. You want to know one of the most stupid and ridiculous things about an anticipatory anxiety disorder? I was so nervous to try intervals, so uncomfortable about stepping outside my established jogging routine, so frightened to try something new that I had the shits all morning. Like full on IBS diarrhea. The boys were almost late to school because I had to run back to the bathroom for the 12th time.

It is so embarrassing to admit how incapacitated I am by doing new things. Even after all these years of living with anxiety I am still deeply shamed by how hard it is to engage in normal activities. Before every class I take I feel sick to my stomach. My brain is generating a list of possible excuses to get me out of going until the moment I step into the classroom. We went to a birthday party this weekend at a gymnastic place. As soon as T joined the group he ran off to an area he wasn’t allowed to go to, one of the instructors telling him to stop. I yelled at him and immediately felt like a parenting pariah.  I blinked back tears as I stood there with the other parents, unable to make eye contact. Next month through my class I have the opportunity to attended two days of the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN in New York City. It is a huge deal. And I am so scared that I simply cannot bear to think about it other than to hope I am hospitalized with a non-life threatening illness so I don’t have to go.

But.

The classes have been fantastic for me. I am hoping to become a matriculated grad student. I have new career goals. My self confidence has been positively impacted. T and C had an amazing time at the party. I’m glad I got to see it. We are going to start T on gymnastics classes there next month. What a bizarre stroke of luck that I have a professor who is on the board of the largest Right to Food NGO in the world! Who gets to do this shit as a part of class?

So yes, my fear and discomfort when faced with normal life is suffocating. But the difference between the me of three years ago and me now is I am fucking doing stuff anyway. I am putting myself in situations that are uncomfortable because the long term payoff is worth it. Was the fear and discomfort any less three years ago when I was struggling to engage? Nope. It was not. I’m going to have it no matter what choices I make. So why not fucking try to enjoy life? Why not make sure that I get to see my boys’ faces light up with joy as they ran around with a pack of kids and have the best time they’d ever had at a birthday party? Why not GO TO THE UNITED FUCKING NATIONS?

Why not run intervals for the first time?

Because there is a difference between facing fears and being a fucking moron.

The roads were not very clear here in Syracuse this morning. Actually worse today than yesterday because we are in the city where alternate side of the street parking means today’s driveable part of the road wasn’t really plowed well at 9:30am. The side with cars on it was pretty damn clear, though. So I wore my amazing and trusty yaktrax. And found about a .2 mile stretch of flat blacktop. And realized when I got home that I hurt my foot. Yaktrax are magic. I can jog in snow without slipping at all. But trying to sprint in them? Let’s just say that I’m a fucking idiot.

Being an idiot is really the easiest way to get hurt while jogging. As soon as I hit the road I knew it was dumb to try speedwork. But I didn’t want to wuss out. Thankfully tomorrow is my rest day. We’ll see how the foot feels on Thursday….

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P.S. I called the doc’s yesterday. Have an appointment for March 10th. Kinda proud of myself.

C jumps

C is missing the fear impulse. It was so cool to see him flying through the air.

hat hair

Short hair = amazing hat head.

swing

The swing actually resting on the snow.

Kids Being Kids Part 2

The afternoon following T’s haircut I posted this on facebook: Quote of the day from T, “Um…I forgot to tell ya. I’m not a fan of short hair.” Oh dear. I told him he can grow it back if he wants….

After a bit of digging it became clear that he wasn’t a fan of short hair because someone told him his hair looked ugly.

Listen, it would be easy for me to be mad and defensive that T’s feelings were bruised. I love my kids so fiercely that anytime they are hurt I see red, it is a biological response.

I let myself have that pang of anger. And then I let it go.

Because as we were having our conversation I could imagine another family in that very moment having a similar discussion about something T said that hurt one of his classmates feelings. And I bet that those parents were seeing red and thinking all sorts of terrible things about my boy.

Kids are mean. Because they are trying to figure out what they can get away with. Because the concept of “social niceties” are way beyond their comprehension. Because they didn’t get enough sleep the night before or they are adjusting to a new sibling or they are having a growth spurt.

I’m more interested in talking to T about how he felt when his feelings were hurt than worrying about the other kid. I want him to remember how he felt the next time he decides to say something mean to anyone else. And people are going to be mean to him for the rest of his life. The sooner he develops some tools to deal with it the better.

We talked about how the person that said his hair was ugly might not have even meant it. S/he might have been having a bad day, or s/he might have been confused that T looked so different, or s/he might have not liked that T was getting a bunch of attention. We talked about how we need to feel bad for someone who is being mean because they are often unhappy themselves. We talked about how important it is not to be mean to people. And by “we talked” I mean I talked at him. Remember, dude is 4. We will probably have the same conversation a million times before it even begins to sink in.

T and this kid seem to bring out the worst in each other. I’ve watched them interact and been shaken by T’s behavior. A couple of weeks ago I mentioned to Z that at least they won’t be going to kindergarten together. Z pointed out that there will always be that kid in T’s class. Even if it isn’t the same kid. Hell, T will be the that kid for someone else’s family. Zeke was right.

And I was really ashamed of myself for wanting the easy way out.

Shouldn’t we face dealing with the realities of how kids treat each other (and again, T is culpable. His behavior in this relationship has been unacceptable at times) rather than hoping the problem will go away when the kids don’t spend time together anymore?

Smart parent friends: how have you handled this with your kids? Seems like I am lucky enough to know a ton of people with compassionate and loving children. How did you parents do it? You guys are my fucking heros, by the way.

short haired boys

All my boys watching a movie.

big kid legos

Does he look older with the short hair? Or does he look younger? I can’t seem to make up my mind.

hotel view

The view from our hotel patio last week. Man, do I miss being warm.

Kids Being Kids Part 1

Walking the tightrope between respecting my sons’ privacy, writing honestly about issues I’m grappling with, and respecting the privacy of friends and acquaintances is becoming more difficult.

The readership of this blog is tiny, not even a blip in the blogosphere. But over the last year or so I’ve connected with more local people on social media. It would be wrong to assume those people are now reading here, but it stands to reason they have at least seen a link to a post float by their feed on facebook.

If I want to write about an issue concerning a friend I ask. If the friend isn’t comfortable with it I don’t do it.

I am friends with some of the teachers and other parents at the boys’ school on facebook. So I’ve been going back and forth about writing about a particular issue all day. Here’s where I’m at: I am not friends with the parents of the kid in this story, but if his/her parents were to come across the post and were able to identify their kid I feel confident that I’m not writing anything hurtful or unkind. That said, I am nonspecific enough that I’m pretty sure the parents wouldn’t identify the kid in the first place.

The issue I want to discuss isn’t really about T and his classmate. It is about how we react when our kids face hard things. It is about recognizing that no child is an angel all the time, just as no kid is “bad” all the time. It is about coming to terms with the fact that your kid is going to be the one doing the hurting at times.

I’m trying to face that ugly fact. T (and C when he is gets a bit more language) will be (um, probably currently is) hurtful to other children. The sooner I accept that the sooner I can take steps to guide him towards being a kinder human.

Sweet Mary, raising another human being is hard.

Part 2 will be coming along tomorrow.

twins in tub

Today I asked T who was in this photo. “Two Charlies.” he said. I pointed to him and said, “No, who is this guy?” He pointed to C, “That is Charlie 1.” And he pointed to himself, “And that is Charlie 2.” I’m going to start calling him Charlie 2. It really is crazy how much they look alike now.

cute kid

This kid has plenty of personality not matter how long his hair is.

Undermined By the Bitch

Sometimes I am jealous of bipolar people.

I know. That sounds insane. It sounds like I don’t understand what a terrible and serious disease bipolar is. I do understand. Really. And I promise I don’t have munchausen syndrome.

I have a chronic and pretty severe anxiety disorder.

If I’m stuck with a chronic mental illness seems reasonable that I’d fantasize what life would be like with some of the other mental illnesses out there. For the most part I think that many of us who wrestle with unrelenting crazy learn person specific coping mechanisms that make getting through the day a little bit less painful. Over a year ago there was an interesting thread on a friend’s fb wall about dealing with mental illness. People seemed happier that they had their own specific illness rather than some other variety-me included.

Kind of stands to reason.

I have had once severe depressive episode in my life. It sucked me into the nothingness, I wanted to escape this world, I was robbed of emotion, of feeling anything except profound self hatred. The depression lasted for about a year. The thought of another depressive episode scares the shit out of me, I have no idea if I’m strong enough to make it through again. Anxiety on the other hand has been my constant companion for over 20 years. Naturally my coping mechanisms are much more sophisticated in that arena.

It was comical in a rather macabre way to read this thread-the depression people saying they would much rather deal with that than anxiety, those like me grateful they didn’t have to deal with depression.

But. All day Friday I was sick to my stomach with anxiety.

On Friday night 9 (would have been 10, but someone was traveling-we missed you J) of us met at a local restaurant for dinner. Without kids. Ok, there was one kid. But she was barely a month old and as every parent knows that doesn’t count.

Please do not get me wrong, I wanted to go. I couldn’t be more thrilled that we have found a group of friends that we enjoy so damn much. The majority of the time we all hang out at our place. Our friends are always thanking us for hosting. But the deal is doing it at our place means I get to enjoy myself like a normal human. The anxiety is still there, but it is muted. I feel unencumbered by my sickness.

Of course we had a fantastic time. Of course I am glad I went. Hell, I can’t wait to do it again.

But I really fucking resent the anxiety for causing me so much discomfort on Friday. I am really sick of being hog tied by fear.

We are at my folk’s house right now. We flew down yesterday. On Tuesday morning Z and I will drive to the airport and fly to Miami. We’ll fly back and pick up the boys on Sunday. It’s our first chunk of time away from them since we became parents.

I’m so excited I don’t know what to do with myself.

I’m sick to my stomach with anxiety.

Am I going to ruin this amazing trip for myself? Is that bitch anxiety going to win? Will I ever get out from underneath her?

The bipolar thought occurred to me this morning as I was jogging. During our trip down south for the holidays I made fantastic strides with the jogging. I was also better rested than I’ve been in ages. Z let me sleep in almost every day. There were a lot of naps. Z went to work the day after we got back home and worked through the weekend as well. For the last two weeks I’ve been sleep deprived, which is my usual state. The jogging improvement evaporated. Today’s 5 miles were an exercise in frustration. Every step was a fight. I’m tired, compounded not just from lack of sleep, but because of the anxiety. Anxiety steals energy and leaves emptiness in its wake.

I got angrier and angrier at the anxiety for slowing me down. Why can’t I harness that energy into something worthwhile? Why can’t I be fucking manic for a bit? Why am I stuck with a condition that takes and takes and takes?

Ok, I don’t really want to be bipolar. Manic episodes are unpredictable and can cause terrible upheaval and hurt in the lives of those who suffer from bipolar. But the energy that I spend on the anxiety…I need that energy. I fucking want it back. I don’t want to fight this fight anymore. I want to be better. So I can enjoy the anticipation of a great night out with friends or a vacation with my husband. So I don’t have to move through the world encumbered by what feels like a 100lb coat made of my fears. I am pissed off at that bitch anxiety and how much she controls me.

But there isn’t a cure. She isn’t going anywhere. She is as much a part of me as my mousy brown hair and blue eyes. The only way I will ever get the best of her is to fight through her bullshit. To go out to dinner and have a fucking awesome time after a day of lightheadedness and diarrhea caused by the bitch. To enjoy Miami even though this morning I woke up with an anxiety attack so bad that I had to take a chill pill immediately. To continue my jog even though my body is screaming at me give up. To keep trying. For Z, for T, for C, for myself. I will live my life in spite of her, hell I will live my life to spite her.

sleepy travel companion

My adorable traveling companion.

plane nap time

Z quietly sang C right to sleep after we took off.

bad jog

Pissed off jogger. Sometimes we have bad days. Feels pretty honest to document them as well.

Risk

Early this week a friend from high school posted this status update on facebook: “Friends who are parents, especially parents of children still in car seats: Would you leave your toddler, strapped into their seat while you ran into the post office? Car is turned off and your quick dash is at least 4 minutes long. It’s 55 degrees and you’re in a suburban/city area very close to a major highway. I’m especially interested in (names removed for privacy) thoughts as they live in very similar areas.”

Eventually 40 responses were typed. I’ve read them all and haven’t been able to get the thread out of my mind. In fact, my thoughts are so scattered that this is my third go-round in trying to write a post about it. The responses were given with an assumption of some sort of privacy, so I’m not going to name or quote anyone.

Two parents copped to doing it. Most everyone else said no. What surprised me was the number of people who cited their parental love or the preciousness of their children as motivation to not leave them for several minutes. The implication was those who made the choice to run into the store loved their kids less, were inferior parents, were exposing their child to a catastrophic risk.

A staggering 258,000 children were kidnapped in a single year according to an oft cited report issued in 2002. The vast majority of those children, 200,000 of them, were abducted by family members. 58,000 were taken by people they knew or strangers, but according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children non family member abductions were least common. Of the 258,000 kidnappings in the report 115 were “stereotypical” kidnappings, which means “the child was held overnight, transported 50 miles or more, killed, ransomed or held with the intent to keep the child permanently“.

I am not trying to make light of kidnapping. As a parent the idea that someone would take my child from me is my absolute worst nightmare. It does happen, it is real. In 2002, the year the kidnapping report was released, there were 72.9 million children in the United States. Less than 115 of them were killed by a kidnapper.

In 2010 approximately 171,000 kids were injured in car accidents and more than 1,200 were killed.

Yet, I don’t break out in a sweat when I’m strapping my kids into the car seat.

Fear distorts risk.

Do you guys know about the blog Red Wine and Applesauce? The author is a mother and a journalist who specializes in vaccines, parenting, and prenatal and child health. Last week she wrote a post about the flu vaccine in pregnant women. According to the latest peer reviewed scientific studies health benefits for mother and child were found when the mother was vaccinated against the flu. She also included an anecdotal account of a friend who lost one of the twins she was carrying after contracting the flu. I had never commented on her blog before, but the inclusion of an anecdote bothered me enough to voice my opinion.

I am pro vaccine. Even after C experienced an adverse reaction to the chickenpox vaccine that eventually snowballed with other illnesses to land him in the hospital I am pro vaccine. Based on the results of varied research studies conducted within the academy and published in peer reviewed journals I believe the risk of disease is greater than the risk of the vaccine itself. I believe in herd immunity. I believe that it is my responsibility as a member of this society to vaccinate myself and my children in order to help protect the vulnerable who are unable to be vaccinated due to health or age.

The anti vaccine movement often relies on anecdotal evidence to prey upon the fear of parents. The “studies” produced by the movement are not published in peer reviewed journals, which require adherence to scientific method and ethical data collection and use. It bothered me that a writer that I respect would also use anecdotal evidence to bolster her point.

I’ve been to the anti vaccine sites. Not going to link to them here, but you could find them with a simple google search. I’ve read the heartbreaking stories of families affected by adverse reactions to vaccines. Those reactions can’t always be conclusively linked to vaccines, but sometimes they can. They are not to be dismissed. They are tragedies and my heart aches for the families. Still, I vaccinate my children. Because the risk of disease is higher than the risk of injury. Because although I fall prey to fear on a regular basis in this case the science and statistics speak louder than the anecdotes.

Back to the kid left in the car. Would I do it? No. But I’m sort of envious of the person who did do it. I honestly don’t think it is a big deal. My parents did it with us as kids. My Mom tells a story about running into the dry cleaners with a baby me in the car in which I stole her fries from the bag of fast food and chowed down.

I wouldn’t do it mostly because I know you can get in trouble for doing it. And do you know what I do fear disproportionately? Authority.

***Kidnapping, vaccines, issues that get us hot under the collar as parents…if you disagree with me I do welcome your comments, if you agree with me I welcome your comments. I am going to ask if anyone decides to comment that that we all keep it respectful. It doesn’t do a lick of good to name call or act superior. Whether you agree with me or not.

overalls

There should be a law that two year olds are required to wear overalls.

new slippers

Amazing alpaca slippers from Uncle A and Aunt B! Perfect for Syracuse winters.

You Guys Rock

Obviously this is a teeny tiny little blog. The readership is small and I’d guess that more than half the folks who stop by know me in real life. I am grateful for everyone who does read. It still surprises me that anyone would take time out of their busy day to check out my stuff. I realize what a raging narcissist you have to be in order to blog and I feel guilty about it. Besides the narcissism I really am motivated by the hope that writing about hard stuff (mental illness, parenting, struggling to exercise, poop, poop, and more poop) can be helpful to someone who is reading-I know, pretty narcissistic in itself, who the fuck do I think I am? Some self-help guru?

Since I started jogging I’ve been talking about it a lot here, on instagram, and on FB. The posts have been a mix of “I’m so proud of myself” and “If I can do it anyone can do it!” and “sometimes this sucks ass”. As a self-loathing narcissist (I know, I’m rolling my eyes, too) it has been weird to feel this much pride about an accomplishment. The friends who have commented or messaged me that they are working out because of the stupid selfies about my progress have helped me keep going. And made me feel better about the unflattering photos I’ve posted and stories I’ve told. I have a rule-when it comes to exercise pictures I don’t use filters. I’m doing hard stuff, it’s ok that I look like ass. It is certainly more honest.

The well wishes and support I got from you guys before the race actually helped get me through the 5K. I don’t feel like I’m doing a good job of explaining myself here, but I just wanted to thank you. I want you to know how much your kindness has meant to me. And I wanted to apologize. You guys were rooting me on, telling me I could do it. And I am embarrassed that I let you down. I’m embarrassed I didn’t run the whole thing. I’m embarrassed that my official time was even slower that I estimated at 38:01 minutes placing 311th out of 333. I wanted to let you know that I don’t take your presence or support or friendship for granted. So seriously, thank you. And next time I’ll try and do better.

The race humbled me. Usually I hate that word. It has been appropriated by the famous. When an actor wins an academy award and says he feels humbled I roll my eyes and think “I do not think that word means what you think it means.” According to the online dictionary it means “lower (someone) in dignity or importance.” Winning big doesn’t make you feel lower, it makes you feel like the king of the fucking world. Well, let me tell you what. I was big time humbled by the race. It was not a fun experience. But I guess the lesson is to pick myself back up and move on.

Usually I jog on Mondays, but being the weekend was so exhausting it seemed like a smart idea to take a rest day. Getting back out there this morning was almost as hard as the race itself. I didn’t want to go. What is the point? There isn’t anything to look forward to. Honestly, the race was such a shitshow for me running-wise that I was scared to go back out. On top of that it was cold. Yes, I’m a huge baby.

But I went. I put on the shirt I was given at the race and I went. I ran the whole two miles–mile 1 in 10:41 and mile 2 in 11:14. You know what? I was proud of myself. The accomplishments might not feel as “real” to me when they are not part of a timed race, but perhaps I need to get over myself. I am going to keep chipping away at this motherfucker.

T medal

Just past the finish line a guy handed all the runners medals. T is in love with mine. He keeps asking if I won the race. I keep laughing and telling him no. He says he thinks he would have won if he was running. There is a a family 3K after the women’s race and Z and I promised him we will do it with him next year.

c gold medal

Because T wants the metal C wants the metal. Oh brotherhood.

Gryffindor wins

About a year ago my folks went to Orlando and got me this awesome patch at Harry Potter World. Two nights ago Z sewed it onto a hoodie of mine. I’ll be rocking it everywhere from now on. Go Gryffindor!

Idyllic

A friend from high school jokingly called my little family idyllic during a comment exchange on FB this past winter. It’s kind of become a running gag between the two of us. But it also has been fodder for my overactive and anxious mind.

Listen, though I fear retribution from those mighty gods I don’t even believe in, I’m pretty happy in life right now. That isn’t to say that life is perfect. Or my marriage is perfect. Or my kids are perfect. Or that I am perfect. Yeah, I was laughing so hard as I typed the last sentence I almost fell off my chair. Happy means something different to me now than it did 20 years ago, or 10 years ago, or even 5 years ago. It has nothing to do with perfection. The edges of my expectations have softened, become less fanciful. There can be room for happy even though life also includes mental illness, and IBS, and being broke, and not enough time, and fights with Z, and kids who behave like wild animals.

Happy isn’t a constant state. It isn’t the fairy tale ending. It’s moments here and there. It’s looking across the room and being so attracted to Z that I feel tingly and lightheaded. It’s brushing T’s hair after his bath and smelling his little boy smell and loving him so hard tears spring to my eyes. It’s looking at the delight and surprise in C’s face when he manages to pee in the potty before bathtime. It’s having a group of friends over for a cookout and feeling full and content and a little buzzed as we laze around in the backyard while night falls.

But my family isn’t idyllic. I’m not trying to sell perfection here. Those moments of intense happiness happen a couple of times a day. The rest of the time we are just trying to make it through the muck of life.

Yesterday T called me stupid for the first time. Right after he accidentally smacked my face and knocked off my glasses because he was being wild. Between meals and prep for our little cook-out last night I cleaned our kitchen 5 times before 5pm. Z was annoyed that I got home a few minutes late from a pedicure (The day before I tried to paint my toes. My feet looked like a bloodbath. The poor woman had to scrub the deep crimson color from the skin around the nails before applying the polish even though I’d used tons of remover myself. I am 36 years old and I cannot apply nail polish.). I was annoyed he got home a few minutes late from taking a piano apart (Yes. That is the kind of stuff he does for fun.). Much of the day was far from idyllic.

Life isn’t all GREAT or AWFUL. While Z was on his errand T rested on the sofa (by which I mean he watched youtube videos about toy transformers-we are amazing parents.) C napped and I cooked. Cooking is soothing and fun for me. While Z mowed the lawn yesterday the boys and I were out front where we saw friends and neighbors as they walked by. We even got to talk to a woman whose grandparents had build the house next door to us. Her dad had been born in the house in the 1920s. How cool is that? That stuff was enjoyable, but also not quite idyllic.

When I was a kid…wait, if I’m being honest I need to admit when I was also an adult I thought happiness was a constant-like I live in the city of Syracuse and also in the warm fuzzy glow of happiness. So my definition of happiness has changed, but maybe I’ve also grown up a little. Happiness is dumb luck. It can also be the byproduct of a shit ton of work. That is certainly the case when it comes to my marriage. Same with raising the boys. We fuck up a lot, Z and I. With each other, with ourselves, with T and C. We get angry, we get frustrated, sometimes we give up for a little while. Then we dust ourselves off and try again.

The fear of sliding  back deep into mental illness is always with me. I have tools and help around me, but I will not be able to prevent another depressive episode. Hell, this time of year I worry about fall and winter. The anxiety is always worse when the sun goes away. And we don’t have sun from November to March in Syracuse. I know I’ll have weeks where I forget what happy is. When I’ll feel like the air is thick and heavy and it bruises my skin just to move through the day. I know we can work really hard and still find happiness elusive. Or that life can happen, tragedy can steal happiness away. But even during my miscarriage, one of the most terrible times of my life, I remember nursing T and feeling something other than horror and sadness, even if it was just for a few moments at a time. I know that next spring will come. The sun will return And I’m not being all flowery and metaphorical-having the sunlight really does help chase my mental illness away.

I’m happy. Tentatively. But I hope I am not self-satisfied. I don’t think happiness is something we deserve or we’ve earned. It is nebulous and can disappear in a moment. Still, I take it when it comes. I work for it. I don’t trust it to be there. I’m kind of scared of it. Happiness does not look like I thought it would when I was a 23 year old bride. But my life doesn’t look like I thought it would either. And that is just fine.

And idyllic? Oh Jeff, if my family was idyllic I wouldn’t have called my Mom yesterday to tell her that I have been fantasizing about getting a minor and non-life threatening illness that required 48 hours of hospitalization. I told her I certainly didn’t want to bring upon anything terrible with my flights of fancy, but I just wanted 48 hours to myself. In a bed. With someone else providing the meals. I asked her if she ever thought about something like that. She told me she fantasized about 48 hour solo hotel stays…because that was more comfortable. “Oh, I’m keeping it realistic.” I told her. “There is no way in hell I could go to a hotel alone for two days. But the hospital thing is totally within the realm of possibility.”

boat with sides

The building of the boat treehouse continues.

inside boat treehouse

My first trip inside. Z has starting laying the flooring. The boys are going to have a lot of fun up here.

beautiful boy T

This kid. He is beautiful.

early morning reading

Enjoying the Great American Novel, Quiet LOUD, very early on a Sunday morning. Only enriching and exceptional literature in our idyllic house.

Lost and Found

Our indoor cat got outside today. After we became parents we turned into dreadful cat owners. Momma May still doesn’t understand what the hell happened to her cushy situation. On the other hand, her daughter Gertrude has been scared of her own shadow since we found Momma and her three surviving kittens in the basement of an abandoned brownstone in Brooklyn more than a decade ago. So the only change to her life since T arrived is she hates everything even more.

Momma was only gone for a few hours, at dinner time she came right home. I might complain about her, but I was a mess. I do love her very much.

She’s incredibly maternal, our gal. We thought she was a kitten when we found her begging for food on a street corner. A neighbor told us she had a litter. Z had been adamantly anti-cat up until then, but he insisted we track down the kittens and take them all home.  We found homes for two of the littles and kept Momma and Gert. The veterinarian we took them to told us that starving cats either abandon their litters or nurse until they die. Momma was almost dead. And she nursed Gert until G was bigger than she was. It was kind of awkward. But that is Momma. She takes care of those who belong to her.

The boys have ruined her life. But she has the patience of a saint with them. They torment her. I try to prevent it. I tell them if I’m not around and she bites or scratches them I will have zero sympathy. Even so she wants to protect them. From the time they were new she would come running if they cried. For example:

Please let me assure you that T was recently fed, changed, and cuddled. He was three months old and freaking out because he was bored. Momma was trying her best to calm him. Do you see the derision in her eyes as she looks at me? She is telling me that she thinks I am the shittiest Mom on the planet.

C and Momma May

She lets them love her. She is pretty amazing.

Last week when my niece was visiting I held her in our living room as she wept. She is only 6 months old, she had been traveling for a week, her Mom needed to run upstairs. She came to the hard time she was having very honestly. Momma May was in the room as well. And she did not give one flying fuck that G was crying. She just hopped up into the basket in our changing table that is her favorite hiding place of late and curled up in a ball.

I was astounded. I kind of thought she was maternal towards all little creatures. She took care of her babies so well. She continues to take care of my babies. But evidently she doesn’t have the warm fuzzies for every baby on the planet. She knows who her family is. Smart lady. Clearly I don’t give her enough credit.

Momma is home

Here’s my little gray lady tonight. I’m glad she’s home.

So listen, one more little thing. And I feel like an asshole for doing this, but there you go. Self promotion is part of this whole blog thing. Are you on facebook? Do you like this blog? If you want to, and seriously no pressure. I mean, obviously. How could I pressure you? But if you have a sec and you don’t mind would you please like my newly created page? Hey thanks. You rock.

Backsliding

This morning Z posted a picture of me and C on facebook while we were all hanging out on the porch. I had just made a little instagram video of C humming the Star Wars theme while wearing a truly awesome astronaut helmet on his head and was uploading it. C was standing beside me and being twelve kinds of adorable. Here, I’ll just go ahead and show you:

k and C astronaut

So I don’t tend to be a terribly photogenic gal. And Z has a knack for taking unflattering pictures of me. But this one is particularly awful.

I was embarrassed and told Z so. He dismissed me by pointing out I hate all photos of myself. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I couldn’t stop imagining all of Z’s facebook friends (and my friends and friends of the three other people he tagged) seeing the picture. They would pity Z for being married to such a blobby and ugly woman. They’d think I was pregnant because of my doughy stomach. They’d remember other pictures posted of me where I didn’t look like this and realize that the ugly woman was the real me. They would feel sorry for me and wonder if I knew how unfortunate I was as a human. And all I could think was, “I KNOW! I KNOW ALL THE TERRIBLE THINGS ABOUT HOW I LOOK!” I didn’t want everyone to be laughing at me AND thinking I was stupid for not knowing how gross I was, I wanted to prove I did know. So I crept the the kitchen and posted this comment– “FYI–not pregnant. Just a food baby. And um, a food baby in my thigh. C sure is cute, though.”

Come on, the food baby in my thigh part was funny.

My response was major league backsliding. I thought I was over this level of loathing and self-obsession. It becomes a cycle. I hate myself. I realize I’m being unreasonable. I hate myself even more for being unreasonable. The anxiety wins.

But ten years ago I wouldn’t have recognize that I was being bat shit crazy. There would be no cycle. There would just be a cesspool of self-hatred. Realizing I’m being unreasonable is actually huge even if it means I’m disapointed in myself. Realizing that Z’s facebook friends, or mine, or the friends of the other folks tagged don’t give a flying fuck what I look like. Realizing they didn’t spend any time at all considering me this morning. Realizing when they looked at the picture THEY WERE LOOKING AT THE CUTE KID not the kid’s mom. Those are all really big steps. Ok, the anxiety won this morning. Well, maybe I should cut myself some fucking slack for immediately realizing what was going on. For being able to move past the stupid picture and have a pretty great day with my family.

So, how about looking at the adorable video of C humming the Star Wars theme? That’s what this morning was about. Not me and how I look.

ice cream shirt

More cute C. Taking off his shirt before feeding him ice cream was one of my better parenting decisions.

Mole

“I don’t know if you noticed, but I have a mole on my check.” My hand self consciously drifted up to my face, my middle finger hovering over the offending mark. I don’t remember why I brought it up, don’t remember where we were or exactly when it was. But I was talking to my boyfriend and we’d been together for probably more than a year, which is forever to a kid in college.  It was the mid 90s and I don’t remember any specifics from the conversation except for what he said in return. “Oh, I noticed the first time I met you. And then I had to consider if I wanted to date you or not.” Ok, so I remember something else. I remember the shock of feeling like I’d been slapped, the burning and swelling in the back of my throat as I tried not to cry, the emptiness in the pit of my stomach, the worthlessness.

He confirmed my fears-I was a charity case, I was lucky when someone decided to look past my monstrous physicality to date me. All very hyperbolic, but I wasn’t just an insecure young woman, I was careening towards a mental breakdown and diagnosis of borderline personality disorder.

I hate the mole. I’ve hated it for a really long time.

We had to be back from our trip by the 28th because I had my yearly appointment with the dermatologist, or as I referred to it on Facebook my annual step-on-a-paper-naked-so-the-doc-can-shine-a-light-all-over-my-body humiliation/skin cancer screening. I was talking to my Mom about it a few weeks ago and she reminded me to ask them if the mole on my cheek was safe. I told her I asked every single year because I hate it so much, hoping that they’d tell me it must come off. But every time I am told that it is perfectly benign, that I’ll never have to have it removed. My hand drifted up to my face to worry the mole again, it’s a well ingrained response at this point. As I touched it myself I confided to her that when T and I chat he loves to reach over and play with it. I told her how awful it makes me feel and how I wish he’d stop.

“Well, find out how much it costs to get it removed.” she said.

I jumped right down her throat. Accused her of hating it so much that she wanted it gone, which was completely unfair. She explained that certainly wasn’t the case, but it was clear that I had a pretty big issue with it and if it would make me happy to get rid of it we could make that happen. She was being extremely decent, and not just about this. She was awesome the whole time Z was gone.

I told Z about the conversation when we facetimed that night-he was still in Japan. Of course he knows the history with the mole. I was shocked by his response. “No. NO! You cannot remove the mole. It is part of you. You can’t do it. I love it because it is part of your face.”

We work really hard not to say, “No.” to each other. We talk things out, we respect each others personal space. He was angry and I wasn’t sure why.

At the appointment on Friday I asked the question anyway. And surprisingly it’s under $200 to get it removed. I casually reported that news to Z when I came home. His was just as upset with the idea as he was the first time I brought it up. After a few hours I was able to tell him why his reaction hurt me. It was my body, my face. If I wanted to change it it was my choice. I wanted his opinion, I respected his thoughts, but ultimately it is up to me.

The problem is that anything having to do with my physicality is still fraught between the two of us. We have worked through so much in our relationship, but the self image stuff was so damaging to both of us it has sort of been easier to ignore. During my breakdown I used to think when anyone paid me a compliment that they were actually making fun of me. They pitied me, they thought I was stupid, and if they took the time to say something nice they were actively being cruel. I was very sick. I mean, obviously. Sick and narcissistic. Yup, even if you hate yourself you can be a narcissist if you believe that people are spending all their time thinking about you.

We don’t talk about how I look. Z doesn’t even want to offer a suggestion on what color nail polish I should get for a pedicure. He rarely tells me I look nice. Because he doesn’t want to have a fight about how I think he is making fun of me. Now, I’m nowhere near as bad off as I used to be, but I still don’t have self-confidence. I still look in the mirror and see an ogre. If he were to compliment me I surely wouldn’t say, “Thank you,” rather I would deflect. These are all problems, obviously there is a reason I’m still in therapy. All I can say is it’s on the list and I will be working on it.

So given our rather messy history it is even stranger that he would object so strongly to my desire to remove the mole. And when we talked he calmed down and told me of course it was my body and my decision. But he explained that when he was saying, “No” what he was telling me was he loves me exactly as I am and he doesn’t want me to change anything. He was telling me that he accepts me. He was telling me that my perceived imperfections aren’t necessarily imperfections to everyone. He was telling me he didn’t want that old boyfriend’s reaction that has festered in my head for more than 15 years to cause me to change who I am.

What a fucking tremendous gift. How lucky am I to have a husband who knows all of my physical and emotional imperfections and loves me anyway? How amazing is it that I’ve gotten so much better that I believe him when he says these things to me? Perhaps I should be focusing on that shit, rather than a stupid mole. A task that would be made much easier if T would keep his greasy little paws off of it…

mole

Here it is in all its unfiltered glory. Honestly, I still haven’t decided what I’m going to do.

matching tattoos

The boy and I got matching Star Wars Tattoos. We are with the Rebel Alliance in case you were wondering.

My first Instagram video. Also featuring my mole. Z and our friend C were planning the treehouse they will be building in our yard this summer. I’m looking on. We’re all drinking. It’s raining. Normal summer night at our house. Man, we love that porch.