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The trouble with me is the trouble with everyone else. Does anyone else feel that way?

I picked my child up from the daycare at the gym today, and my kid was almost in tears. To summarize the situation, they were showing Scooby Doo shows on TV since some older kids had asked for them (even though the older kids were longer in the childcare center when I came in). The daycare assistant approached me when I seemed concerned that my son was upset, and she said he had been telling her he was scared of what was on TV, and then she kind of shrugged her shoulders. Enough said about that, right? Who is this person, am I right? This woman who would watch a three-year-old shiver and cling to his blankie, as he continually turned his back to the TV (which she also informed me he had been doing).

So, there’s that. And, now here is the other thing. The kids we’ve met on our street. OK, without going into it too much since I’ve already suffered a few heart palpitations…they’re tiny, mutants with no manners who talk to adults as if they’re the superiors on the street. Hhmmm…let’s just say thank goodness I have met some cool parents and kids at the local playground.

Now, here’s the meat of it. My kid. My kid is sensitive but in a really cool way. He’s one of those thoughtful kids who observes before diving in to a situation. He even waits for others to approach him usually. He’s nice to girls, and boys, but especially to girls. When he heard the very next door neighbor crying outside yesterday for her mom, he said we should go see if she is OK. That “we should check on her,” even after I told him her mommy was home and that her big brother was beside her.

He waits before he hugs little girls too. He makes sure they are OK with it. He’s not a kid who just leaps and grabs. He puts things back where they belong, even if he puts up a small fight sometimes. He says he is sorry, and you really feel he means it. He even whispered, “Come here,” when leaning in to hug me as we made up after a fight. Is this guy 30 or almost 3?

Small glimpses of the world crashing into us are happening. He is meeting the world in new ways that frighten me, that would keep me up at night if I weren’t so exhausted when my head crashed into the pillow.

I guess every parent, or many parents, go through this apprehension. We’re all in the amusement park, praying and hoping we can keep our kids on the tea cup rides just a little longer. That we can shield them from the upside down slave ship and the terror of reaching the top of a 100 ft. hill, knowing they’re strapped in and can’t do anything but scream bloody murder or vomit, just a little longer. The house of mirrors awaits, and there’s nothing we can do…exactly.

Except of course, be their defenders. Fight for the safe kid shows or simply state we can no longer leave our child in an untrustworthy environment. We can fight their battles when the bratty seven year old girl, whose name is “A-LA,” not “A-DA,” takes his ball and runs towards her house. “Hey, that’s my kid’s ball!,” you lousy, stinking rat. He’s too little to understand such atrocities and the results of unfortunate parenting.

He’s too small to watch Scooby Doo. He told the lady he was scared. She is the one who informed me of this, if you remember. Oh well, he’s scared. But, someone else’s desensitized little kid who doesn’t blink at violence or ghost stories gets the upper hand. That kid is the norm. Those shows inundate us, and we’re forced to adapt or be the weird ones who speak up.

Let’s speak up, shall we? Let them know we’re not actually the minority. Or at least, know that preserving a super sensitive and cool kid’s innocence and emotional life is worth it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where is It?

I had it here somewhere….there…no, nope, that’s not it. OK, I must have left it….n..no…nope! Not there either. Oh, hi. I didn’t see you sitting there. Welcome back, friend.

My peace of mind has gone missing, can you help me look for it? I swear, just a minute – or 50,000- ago, it was here. Right…there. Next to the purple fabric. No, no, the yellow feathery thing. What is that? Ok, maybe it was in that drawer beside the thing…you know, the thing that keeps stuff cold. Anyhoo. It’s lost in a heap or stuffed inside something. No wonder I am having a hard time breathing well. Goodness.

Well, this is my life as a happily-moved-in-to-my-new-house type of person. I hate writing about this because this is the kind of stuff that certain folks might read and say, “Yeah. She is whining about a new house. Poor, poor dear.” Or, as I said to my mother, I hate complaining about not having a massage in several weeks because that’s actually just a spoiled person’s complaint. It’s the kind of thing a woman married to a massage therapist can complain about, OK?

Massage, or no massage aside, I am like a tiny fish shoved into a new aquarium, one with a treasure chest, some fancy coral, and a massively eclectic set of fish. How did they fit us all in here anyway? From which store did that one come from? Oh, hi. I am describing my new neighborhood now, and I guess the appearance of my new house with the debris from a small tsunami scattered about.

Check in with me later. With hope, I can swim to the surface by then.

OK. So, I got a small amount of feedback expressing either empathy or concern over my last entry. Thanks for all of it. My main point in writing that one at all was to illuminate how hard it is to be honest without raised eyebrows, looks of disdain, or worried and furrowed brows to hover and crowd the space between your face and “theirs.” Honesty is easier kept in closets, next to skeletons.

Thus, I am trepidatious about the truth, but without real truth-telling (even of the censored variety), I am not quite sure what any of us are doing here. How will we ever grow, learn, and connect without it?

So, there I was on the third or fourth morning after the move -fever broken, antibiotics settled in – when my wide grin returned, the Texas panhandle grin, the endless miles of Kansas wheat field grin. We’re talking length of smile here, folks.

I must be on vacation, I thought. And yes, each day since, I feel I am living in some resort style hotel…but, permanently. Frogs croak in the pond out behind the house; herons, hawks, and eagles can be found in nearby trees and skies. The house has plush new carpeting that squishes under your feet, like that rich, creamy sand in the Bahamas. Thoughtful details are everywhere, making wood horizons along the stairwell, kitchen, and dining areas.

My sun rises when I beam at the oak wood floors under foot as I eat my morning cereal.

This home is unfamiliar to and atypical for us. It feels a little like cheating on your diet or taking someone else’s first row parking space. It’s just that good. And yet, you never “get” to do such things.

I am just on vacation, enjoying someone else’s flair for cherry-chocolate colored cabinets and fancy woodwork. Someone else’s pretentious need for granite counters and gargantuan bath tubs. Someone else’s penchant for Ancient Greek columns. Sigh. Drop. Relax. Chuckle. Wink. You know I am winking at you, right?

Yep. Just visiting someone else’s house for a bit. I’ll think I’ll hang my hat until someone makes me move it.

My opening tonight is a quote from another blogger, named Steve Wiens. I shared his link through FB already, so you may have read his belly-aching honesty about parenting small kids. Here’s one of my favorite parts:

“You’re bone-tired. I’m not sure when it’s going to get better. Today might be a good day or it might be the day that you lost it in a way that surprised even yourself.

Breathe in. Breathe out.

You’re not alone.”

I love my friends. But, for me, a tough part about this time in my life is: I just plain haven’t lived anywhere long enough since my son was born three years ago to have any really, super close mommy friends yet. In this way, I mean, I would give a million dollars if I could be as honest as this guy was in his post, like saying ” the sound of his kid’s voice sometimes makes him want to hide in the pantry…,” with my mom friends. “We” just aren’t there yet, my friends and I. Or, so it often feels. Maybe we’re just all too scared to admit the dirty parts are really as dirty as they are.

I’ve had a very rough time in recent months as my own perfect angel passed the 2.5 year mark. For whatever reason, the stuff hit the fan after that crossing. Yeah, he’s still the most angelic, perfect, most brilliant kid you’ve ever seen. And, deep down in my soul’s cellar, I mean that. But, but, but, you know the rest, sort of.

I basically just wanted to step in for a minute on this late evening to say how much I wish I could write more honestly about the hard stuff without feeling like a bad mother or even worse, like no one gets it. Like I am writing into a vacuum. Or, like it’s 1950, and women just aren’t supposed to talk about “stuff.” It’s not that bad, we think, or people want to fill in for you. Pat, pat. Hug, hug.

But, sometimes, it is that bad. Sometimes, we run into the bathroom when our kid can’t go down for a nap and sob into a towel for five minutes. Why? Because we have no idea how we’ll make it until dad gets home unless the little demon goes to sleep for at least a good long hour or two. Oh wait, dad doesn’t get home until after bedtime. Sob even harder. If we’re lucky, we’ve stopped crying when it’s time to walk back into his room. Sometimes, however, we can’t pull it together when it’s sufficiently been long enough to be locked in the bathroom.

At any rate, I am so glad someone else admitted out loud that they’ve screamed at their kid or that it’s really true that you can lose it in a way that surprises yourself and even scares you. That happens to me a few times each week. Surprise. Shock. Fear, that I am the only one I know who isn’t as good a parent as she thought or who feels utter shame that she can make her kid cry. “Mommy, you are a monster,” my beautiful, perfect, tiny angel said to me once. That wrecked me for a day. And had me convinced every compliment I’ve ever gotten on my parenting prowess is a sham.

Sigh. Breathe out. The next wave of entries won’t be so heavy, people. It’s time to talk about some of the brighter stuff too. For tonight, if you’re a parent who needs to feel a bit better about yourself, read this: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-wiens/let-me-be-the-one-who-says-it-out-loud_b_3209305.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

 

Tsunami

Here we are. Just here. No longer there. Not one item of clothing or one dirty sponge remains at our old rental townhouse. I wept on the drive out of there as it was the first spot we landed in Frederick. Eric’s aunt found the home online for us when we were hundreds of miles stuck in the Deep South at the time – job offer in Eric’s hand and no where to put down the landing gear. The neighborhood was a welcome retreat, a retirement community – speckled with a few youngins – where neighbors valued their property and each other on a level to which I was formerly unaccustomed. They, it, the whole experience taught me to love my small plot of earth. Taught me to nurture even the tiniest of gardens for no other reason than, it is yours.

Like many of my former moments stepping up to the computer, clearing my throat (tonight, rather appropriately, as I listen to frogs in their croaky, evening song), my hands have begun ahead of my heart and brooding mind.

For the past two or three months, I’ve changed in ways I won’t be able to express here entirely. Partly, because some things just plain aren’t your business, as much as I long to expose the entire under belly. Just understand that, with me (and it appears to be true for my husband too), sea changes can come on like tsunamis, leaving me altered eternally, my shift in course as swift as a hand coming down on a keyboard.

But, there’s always the debris. The long current of aftermath that must wash ashore, eventually. Despite how dramatic this sounds, in most cases, this simply means: feelings and mixed emotions that arise with change take time to catch up or tidy up, or something. Some feelings can take decades and maybe even centuries to resolve. Can we resolve our feelings after death? Let’s hope so.

Let’s just get down to it. My eyes have been opened as to how shakable my calm can be. As my darling child has gone through waves of stress and confusion about going to a new house and questioning whether or not the new house will have milk, and bedtime books, and his old toys, I’ve comforted him and held him in my arms, reassuring him endlessly that life is still the same. While covertly, my mind has made plans to sabotage my resolve, my ability to make decisions, my belief that roots can actually grow when you plant them, and so on.

In other words, while reassuring my tiny child, I’ve become a fragile child again myself. What if, what if, what if? Will the neighbors be cool, quiet, have polite kids, ignore us, care about their shrubbery, etc.? Will this house be the “right” one after all? Will I hate it in six weeks and spend the next six years growing ulcers with six heads? And so on.

And then, here we are. We are here. The only place we can ever be. Let it be.
.

And then,

And then, we wept, and shivered, and sank into ourselves. Only I was sick, really sick. Full of antibiotics and tension – my body, on alert, a nod back to the days of early postpartum. I write this as if it were then, to remind myself how quickly now becomes then.

So, I am sick. The kind where you go to the doctor for drugs, anything to make “it” stop, whether it be a head stuffed with cotton or a throat covered in fur. Needless to say, you know you’re not kicking this thing on your own.

And yes, we just moved – for the most part – yesterday. I held it together, but the more I inhaled the white flower poison (I swear Spring is the season I want to hibernate), the more my bones turned brittle and lungs filled with gauze. Sick in bed all day was not how I wanted to spend the first day in the new house, at all. But, what are you going to do?

The weird part is: I feel more out of sorts in the new house than Asher. All you want when you’re ill enough to stay in bed is grandma’s blanket, chicken soup, and familiar surroundings. I had two out of three, and two great guys to help cheer me. But, the house feels like a vacant landscape, an open valley of space, cluttered with brown boulder-size boxes, and all I want is to crawl back home, wherever that is.

It’s the kind of day when you just want the commercial break to end. Let life get back to square, tidy photos on walls, a fridge covered in child art, and a night where ruining a new recipe is the worst it gets.

It’s just not “supposed to” be like this. I should be prancing around like Cinderella with cartoon birds at my feet. Unfortunately, I am making my way through the evil forest instead. Scratch that last sentence – much too much drama.

Stay tuned. Breathe well. Stay indoors. :)

Janis J.

“Cry, cry, baby,” would be the theme of recent weeks. Janis. Hair-blowing in the wind, rolling down a Colorado highway. Only, not so much. More truthfully, just crying – no rocking out to the former rock legend.

I’m one of the only people I know who talks about the tears of landing into a happy place. But, crocodiles are lining up to swim around my moat. :) This analogy isn’t too far off either. My life is a bit fairytale-ish and has been since Eric proposed to me six years ago. Now, the prince and princess and their little prince are getting a castle (if we can call a townhouse such a thing).

Nonetheless, I feel as if I’ve left Atlanta for good or even for the first time. The bandages are fresh on my skin once more, and the scenes of leaving friends in parking lots, waving their hands in the air, or watching them walk away from my front door are coming rushing back.

I miss bitefuls of food I could only get at Cafe Diem, like the salmon farfalle, or at the biker bar/restaurant next door – stuffed chicken and tater tots. Pimento cheese sammies with a bowl of homemade vegetable soup from World Peace Cafe. Pots of tea served on the side.

I miss that new movie and dinner theater Eric and I were just getting to know. And, the memories left all over town. Driving down the main drag of Little Five Points where Eric and I had one of our first walks, the kind where you keep walking up and down the street and then end up standing on the sidewalk beneath streetlights taking in the last sips of the evening.

What about strolling down Mimosa Blvd. in front of Primrose Cottage, the historic house where we were married, listening to vows and crickets echo in the air.

When something becomes permanent, we want to send it back. When we cut the tag, sign on the line, or give the firm handshake with all sincerity, panic sets in. Did we make the right decision? We really liked the house on Valley Rd. too, didn’t we? The heat down south was actually kind of nice, right? “Etc. Etc.,” to quote Radiohead.

Reason after reason begins to pile up, like unwritten letters to old friends. We want. We miss. We realize the old sweater was way more comfortable than the new one. We begin to dig our way out beneath the fence we created between now and then, there and here.

And then, a question arises from a new friend who asks, “Is there anywhere else you’d want to live?” “No,” I say affirmatively with a smile of conviction.

Huh. Goodnight, Janis. I am changing the channel. Until next time.

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