Thursday, March 24, 2011

Around and around I go

Have I mentioned that I've gone back to work?

So, yes. That happened. I'm employed again. I tried being a stay at home mom, or SAHM as they are known in the blogging community, and it didn't turn out the way it was supposed to. Basically, I completely sucked at it. There were a few weeks when I think I was mostly on the right track; I took the kids places and kept us all active and away from our home. However, I ran out of ideas very quickly. I thought I was a creative person, and maybe I am, but my creativity doesn't translate well into actual day-to-day functioning. (I'm still not sure if anything I do translates well into day-to-day functioning.) Basically, I had no freaking idea what to do with these two little people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Yes, sleeping factors in there somewhere but I was having really messed up dreams about Graboids eating my kids and reclusive old people kidnapping and murdering me so I have decided that my sleeping hours don't count. Something was stressing me out all the time.

So how is going back to work less stressful? Well, I get to talk to grownups again on a regular basis. As it turns out, that is really important for me. I started feeling both sorry for and resentful of Clyde when he came home at night because I would start babbling at him from the moment he walked in the door and I just couldn't understand why he wouldn't want to hear my stories about how many times Ethan pooped or the ferocious battle of wills that occurred between Ben and I at every mealtime. There was a small part of me that realized Clyde had just finished up a 12-16 hour day and the man needs at least a moment to unwind. But there was a larger part of me that just thought "OMG an adult! Must talk! BLAH BLAH BLAH CONVERSE WITH ME DAMNIT!!!!"

I also genuinely feel that my kids are better off at daycare. When they are there, they are interacting with other children, creating pictures, listening to stories, and just learning things that I lack the capacity and patience to teach. I tried to teach Ben how to write letters and numbers and just could not wrap my head around why he couldn't trace the dotted lines to make a letter "H" or number "9". After all, it's so easy for me to do it. Never mind that I'm 28 years old, have been through 17 years of school, and don't even have to think of how to hold a pencil correctly. My poor 4-year old son was frantically trying to live up to my insane expectations and we were both suffering for it. This is a HUGE failing on my part, I fully admit. Now, Ben is being taught by people who aren't crazy know how to guide a small child and he's doing wonderfully.

I was raised by a SAHM and until I myself became a parent, it never occurred to me that my own mother could have ever envisioned another direction for her life. What she did for me, I could never possibly repay. I don't fully know what sacrifices and compromises she made, but I'm grateful to her. She did something that I now know I can't do. This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy being with my children. I swear to you that the best part of my day is having them run to me and hug me when I pick them up. I just acknowledge that there are people in the world who can be amazing stay at home parents but I'm not one of them.

So I'm back to earning a wage and I feel better for it. The boys are also doing great. Ethan is getting better at playing with other kids rather than just near them and Ben always has something to show me, something that he's very proud of. I think that if I've learned anything through my experience thus far as a mom it's that parenting is even more complicated than anyone or anything makes it seem. Every parent has to figure out what works and that process involves going through a lot of things that simply don't.

My hat goes off to SAHMs (or SAHDs), but I've got a nod and knowing look for those of us in the (paid) work place.

The stumbling continues.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Dear Friend,

I had an interesting afternoon looking for you. In my pocket, I had a note with "Lot 35, block 42" written on it and I'll be damned if that note was even a little helpful. For some reason, I had the idea in my head that I'd get to the cemetery and just immediately know where to find your grave. This was a silly thought because I did not attend your funeral back in 2006 and had never before visited your grave site. Useless note in hand (or pocket), I hopped in my car and headed out to the Holy Cross Cemetery with every intention of finding closure. After a stop at Safeway to buy a dozen long stemmed red roses (of a quality that only Safeway could provide), I drove through the cemetery gates and instantly realized that this was going to be harder than I thought.

Several years ago, I went for a walk with my husband in one of the cemeteries in Sonora, CA. I took note of the fact that the cemetery had something like street signs for the crisscrossing paths. At the time, I probably thought it was quaint. This afternoon, however, I realized that those signs were terribly useful. There were no such signs to help me navigate Holy Cross Cemetery. There were no helpful markers, no directory to say "you are here" and give me an idea of where I might find you. There was just an expanse of very similar-looking graves, stretching off in front of me and to the left and right of me. I did not innately know where to find you and so I wandered.

As I was trudging through the crusty snow and the sucking mud, clutching the bouquet of mediocre roses and continuously going in circles, I cheered myself with the thought that you were watching me somehow and getting a laugh. I talked to you in my head and then began talking to you out loud, hoping that you would give me a sign of where to find you. I would have followed a squirrel at that point if I thought it looked like it knew where it was going. Alas, there were no squirrels or whispers from the afterlife. I did find the grave of a young boy who had been accidentally shot and killed when I was in elementary school. I left him a rose. As for the others, immediately before I gave up my search I came upon the grave of a baby boy who had only lived for less than a month. He has your roses. I knew you'd understand.

My dear friend, although it had been years since we last saw each other when I heard of your death, I hope that you somehow always knew that you touched my life. When we moved from Baker, OR to Butte, MT, the transition was frightening and difficult. Everything was different and unfamiliar but your friendship helped me to think of my new town as home. You will forever occupy places in my head and my heart. I can find you there, at least.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Humanity is (surprise!) Human

Natural disasters have a tendency to bring out the best and worst of humanity. This morning, I had the misfortune to click on a link which displays a list of Facebook status updates from people claiming that the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan is somehow a karmic response to Pearl Harbor. If you are a thinking human being, you should not wonder why such a connection is not only mind-bogglingly stupid but also hateful. I'm bothered not just by these statements but also by the fact that this link is being tweeted and retweeted as evidence that people in the U.S. are all this stupid and hateful.

It's easy to look at these updates that are fueled by ignorance and an utter lack of compassion and then begin to despair the species. I'm guilty of travelling that downward spiral on many occasions and I'm sure I'll traverse it many more times before I die. However, something happened to my mindset once I had children: it occurred to me that I simply cannot afford to be (or more accurately, remain) nihilistic or hopeless about humanity. After all, I made the decision to bring two fresh little people into this world of ours and for me to have such a bleak outlook on life it would mean that I'm a complete asshole for having done so. I don't consider myself a complete asshole so that means I need to do a little soul-searching in order to figure out just how to feel about the people who inhabit this lil' green and blue dot with me.

When I saw the vitriolic and moronic postings, I was immediately outraged and wanted to vent my spleen in a similar way with these xenophobes as my target. What would be the point, though? Would I change their minds? Would I make them feel ashamed? Would they plumb the depths of their souls and find the compassion and empathy that they lack? No, probably not. All that would happen is that I would have stooped to their level and made a bad thing worse. Instead, I left that poisonous little webpage, opened my eyes a little wider, and saw outpourings of love and support, generosity of wealth and spirit, and a much louder voice crying above the hateful din a message that we are human beings who recognize a tragedy that could befall any one of us and we grieve with those who suffer. More importantly, we offer a hand up as well.

I find that when we are at our best it is during moments when we recognize our collective humanity. We forget about borders and politics and our myriad differences and instead see a much broader picture of All Of Us instead of Us and Them. Japan is not paying for an act of war nearly 70 years ago, just like Haiti was not paying for rising up against their oppressors when disaster struck there. When natural disasters strike within the U.S., it is not payback for the Trail of Tears, slavery, Guantanamo, or any other of our horrific failings. Earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, etc. happen because we inhabit a planet that shifts and moves with utter indifference to our presence. With that as our reality how else are we to find comfort if not with each other?

This is all easier said than done, of course, but if we say it enough it might just sink in. So I will tell my children that even though the worst of us might sometimes be the loudest, they are not necessarily the majority. Sometimes it is terribly hard to believe and it is during those moments that I have to search for the things to feel hopeful about. They're always there, though. At the very least, the whole world can't agree to be as awful as possible all the time because the whole world would never agree to anything entirely to begin with. There will always be someone to say "Now hang on a minute..." And with luck, education, and determination, I will have added two more of those someones to this world of ours.

You're welcome.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

I think I might be irrelevant in the sense that I do not pertain to anything. In my head, I'm a fad that went out a decade ago or a piece of outmoded technology. The world is full of smaller, cuter, more efficient and desirable models. Mentally, I am collecting dust.