Saturday, January 5, 2013

Letter to my teenaged self

Dear confused and depressed younger self,

I'm writing to give you some words of advice and tell you that everything is going to be okay.  In fact, it will be more than okay. 

I love you so much!

It's okay to have flaws.  Lots of them, even.  Beauty is flawed and imperfect.  Perfection is uninteresting.  You don't need a larger chest, curvier silhouette, or better hair for boys to date you.  Your worth won't be determined by the number of boys who like you.

Please stop trying to look like your best friend.  You're are just setting yourself up for repeated disappointments.  Talking, looking, writing, dressing, or acting like her is not going to bring you happiness.  Besides, she is as unhappy in her skin as you are in yours.  Be confident in who you are.  I promise that will be enough.  You are enough.  You can be happy and you deserve to be.  Immerse yourself in what you love.  Dance more.  Read more.  Play more piano.  Take risks.

You suffer from depression and anxiety.  Take the meds that were offered to you by your therapist.  They are not a crutch or an excuse.  They are a medication for a legitimate illness.  The chemicals in your brain are completely imbalanced.  It's hereditary.  Look at your mother.  It is not normal to cry and feel hopeless all the time.  I promise.  You are capable of happiness that does not depend on another person.  You just have to address this problem.  Being a teenager is hard.  Don't let it be harder than it needs to be.

Be nice to everyone.  If someone is being kind to you, it's because they mean it.  They don't hate you and they're not mocking you.  I can tell you this, because I know most of them are too worried about their perceived flaws to be picking on yours.  When people laugh at something you say it's because you're funny.  Not because they think you said something dumb.  Being mean to others is not going to protect you.  It will only alienate potential friends.  

That boy you like?  Yeah, he's wonderful, but he's not for you.  He will date your best friend, then her sister, then that sister's friend.  He will never date you.  He will also never break up with you.  He will never cry because of you.  You two will make it through high school alive because of each other.  Feel grateful for what you have and enjoy it.  Don't waste it wishing for something else.   

Focus on your grades and on getting to class.  You won't look back and wish you'd taken more naps in the park.  You will wish you had learned more and made more memories.

Oh, and by the way.  During your senior year of high school, a silly college kid with crazy poofy hair and great big lips going to come into your life.  Be nice to him. 

Love,

Your 33-year-old future self

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The plague

I should reframe that last post to say that I thought we had survived back-to-school.  I was, sadly, mistaken.  We all got sick and I died.  That's right.  Heaven has free wireless internet and complementary laptops.

On the third day of school, Lach fell asleep in class.  In first grade.  Impressive, because I hadn't mastered that skill until high school.  Apparently, he looked so wiped out that his teacher didn't have the heart to wake him and we figured he was just acclimating to the seven hour school days.  After school, Lachlan neglected to tell me about the whole sleeping at school thing and just told me he didn't feel well enough to go to karate.  Lach is always making excuses to get out of karate, so I called his bluff made him go anyway.  He complained as I helped him get dressed, whined on the way out to the car, and grumbled the whole way there.  Then on the way into the dojo he kept repeating that he was not feeling well.  He never mentioned that fact that he had fallen asleep at school earlier.  Poor kid sluggishly went through the motions in class, then crumpled to the ground in a crying heap when the kids let out their first kiai's.  Mother of the year here walked her sobbing son out to the car, took him home and led him to the couch, where he stayed for the rest of the evening.  Speaking only to ask someone to help him to bed.

Then Zane got sick.  Then Reese.  There was poop.  A lot of poop.  Ohmygosh, so much poop.  It was in beds, on couches, and in freshly washed outfits.  My children were waking in the middle of the night because poop.  I knew my days were numbered.  You can't spend this much time walking through the valley of the shadow of poop and come out unscathed.

What I managed to contract was nothing like what boys had though. I'm not a middle-ground person.  It's either full-throttle or nothing. Don't ask me why I thought this was a good time for full throttle.  I was a useless slug for nearly three weeks.  Three weeks of lying in bed while my parents, in-laws, and husband ran the household.  I was tired, nauseous, and in intestinal distress.

WebMD told me I had prostate cancer.  I told you I was going full throttle on this thing.  That's why I grew a prostate just so I could get prostate cancer.  

After a full week of misery and being misled by WebMD (by the way, WebMD, we're over) and a trip to the emergency room for IV fluids, I took myself to see an actual, real life physician.  God bless the poor man, he had nothing but guesses ranging from c-diff to giardia to salmonella.  He wrote me a lab slip for a blood draw and a stool sample, in addition to a prescription for some anti-biotics and anti-parasitics that could kill the plague in a t-rex.

Now motherhood is the quickest path to losing most of your dignity and I'm fine with that.  That last speck of dignity? It's gone the day you poop in a cup. It's a good thing I did it though, because I was able to find out what I had. Wait for it. Nothing. All that lab work and the pooping out of my dignity to hear that I was perfectly freaking healthy.  Excuse me, but my gastrointestinal tract would like to say otherwise.

It wasn't until Reese got sick again that I turned in my baby's poopy diaper for yet another stool sample that we got a diagnosis.  Cryptospiridium. It can't be treated with antibiotics. You just have to let it run it's long, meandering course until it decides to leave your poor disease ravished body.

The moral of the story? Teach your oldest kid not to drink cryptospiridium ridden irrigation water. Ever. Also, I should have just trusted WebMD that I grew a prostate and been pleasantly surprised when I was miraculously healed.  It would have been so much cheaper.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Back to School

Love this picture!  They look like they get along.
It appears we've survived the initial back to school surge.  Meaning that two of my kids are in school now.  Not that we did it gracefully.  No back-to-school clothes were purchased.  I'm capitalizing on the fact that my boys don't yet know that's a thing.  Who decided everyone needs to buy clothes in August anyway?  The people selling them.  That's who.  I forgot to get them haircuts.  Lachlan is even sporting the same backpack that took him through preschool and kindergarten.  They don't seem to mind though. 

First day of first grade

First day of preschool
 



Monday, September 3, 2012

Chunky junkie: A tutorial

Here's a quick tutorial if you have one of these anemone-like balls in your home.  This is also going to serve as back-story for something I'm going to tell you in a moment.  So these balls,  they get really gross and when you wash them the spikes kind of all smoosh down onto the ball.  No problem, though.  Just put the ball in a plastic bag with a little corn starch and give it a shake.

Ours was still pretty powdery after taking it out of the bag, so we threw it around on the driveway to remove the excess. 

Good as new  
*A word of caution*  If you are not careful you will end up with corn starch everywhere.  You might even have to scratch your nose while your hands are still covered with corn starch.

Note the white, powdery substance at the edge of my nostril.

Your husband, upon seeing your powder-dusted nose may comment that "you look like a junkie".

Then your six-year-old, wrapping his arms around your waist to make a sort-of human corset, may jump to your defense by saying,  "Here.  Now you don't look so chunky."  Or something like that.  Just be careful.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

A peculiar protein

A couple of years ago Anthony tricked Lachlan into thinking he ate a worm.  He stood sideways and lowered an earth worm down the far side of his face with his mouth open.  You know, so it looked like the worm went in his mouth.  Lach was amazed.  I was disgusted.

Lach thinks it's pretty cool that his dad eats worms.  So much that he brags about it to his friends.  Imagine how I explain myself out of that when the other moms are asking about my husband's peculiar habits.  No, of course Anthony doesn't eat worms.  He just pretends to to entertain the children.

I think the final push was last weekend when Lachlan watched the movie How to Eat Fried Worms.  He typically has a short attention span, but he stayed put for the duration of the show.  Maybe he was looking out for worm preparation ideas to pass along to his dad.

With all that background, I can't say I was surprise that much by this phone call.

Me:  Hello

Lach:  Where's dad?

Me:  At the office.  Why?

Lach:  I need to tell him I ate a worm.

Me:  You ate a worm?

Lachlan:  Yeah.

Me:  Why'd you do that?

Lachlan:  For fun.  To see what it tastes like.  It tastes like nothing.

Me:  (laughing)

Lachlan:  What?!  Who cares.  It was only one inch long.  Are you laughing?

I was laughing.  What else could I do?  The kid ate a worm.  I blame his dad.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Therapeutic Thursday 8/23

There is a cold wall at my back and a huge beast in front of me.  It's at a distance, but the gap is narrowing quickly.  I think it's a dragon, but I'm not sure.  I've never seen a real dragon.  All I know is that I'm really scared and there's nowhere to run.  I need to run. I also need to defend myself but I'm paralyzed.  It's like those dreams where you try to scream and nothing comes out or you try to move but your limbs are like lead.  Pretty sure I'm about to be eaten alive.  Except I suddenly realize that my husband is there.  Somehow I know that he can't help me, but his eyes say "you've got this".

A sword appears at my feet (I feel like we should call it the Sword of Griffindor).  Ahem.  The sword of Griffindor appears at my feet, so I grab it and start swinging.  Anthony's standing beside me and I can feel his presence.  When my sword breaks (What?  Grinffindor's sword doesn't break.), he's got a back-up for me and when sweat obscures my vision he wipes my brow.  I can do this.

This was the analogy my therapist used to describe my marriage.  Only I embellished it a bit.  She said that my husband is my anchor.  I already knew that, sort of.  I used to call myself needy or co-dependent, but calling him my anchor is so much more flattering.  I like the term.  It implies that he keeps me centered.

It's not that I'm helpless when he's not around.  It's just that I feel safer... stronger when he is around.  Or when I know he will be around.  I know that no matter what I'm attempting to do he has more faith in me than I do.  And if he doesn't, well then there's an incentive to prove him wrong.

When the kids are doing what they do, and I feel like I can't keep up, he is the reason I can remain calm.  I know everyone has their different anchors.  Some people have running.  Some do yoga.  Actually, I do yoga, but more on that another time.  Some folks have that amazing friend that builds you up and makes you feel like you can take on the world.  I have my husband.  And that's just fine with me.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Exercising futility

This morning has been an exercise in futility.  Not to be confused with fertility.  We are d-o-n-e exercising our fertility.  Surprisingly, though, I'm not really feeling frazzled or out of control.  I did take a couple of deep breaths, but mostly, just, I don't know.  I just didn't freak out.  And that's really good.

Lately, my morning routine consists of puttering around the house getting rid of strange odors.  Our three littles produce so many odors.  After the usual taking out of diapers and running the laundry downstairs I could still smell something unpleasant.  It was unmistakably poop.  Yes, it's another one of THOSE stories.  I kept sniffing the baby, sure that he was the culprit, but he innocent.  Zane was following me around the house, as he does, so I asked him if maybe he was gassy.  Nope.  Still the smell persisted.

I sat down on the couch next to Lachlan, who was playing on his iPad and Zane sat next to me.  That's when I saw it.  His underwear was wet.  It was only a couple seconds before I confirmed that he was the culprit of the unsavory smell.  Traces of which were now on my couch cushion.  He jumped up, took off his soiled undergarments and sat on his potty.  Now there was poop all over the potty and my couch cushion.  I set to work wiping off Zane, the potty, and the couch.

That's when Reese toddled over to me and started throwing up.  And throwing up.  And throwing up.  I stripped the baby, cleaned the mess and put BOTH kids in the tub.  Then something occurred to me.  If Zane had peed in his underwear, and underwear doesn't contain pee, then there was a puddle of pee somewhere in my house.  "Zane", I squeaked out with a patient smile forced onto my face.  "Where did you go pee?"  All I got was a blank stare.  I tried again with "where were you when you peed in your underwear?"  His face lit up with understanding.  "On your shoes."  "Oh", I screeched out about an octave higher than before.  "Okay".  I quickly washed and dried the boys, put the baby in a diaper, and ran to my closet.

There are a couple silver linings in this situation.  First, my closet floor is hardwood.  Second, since Zane had cleared a place to stand in there, he had only COMPLETELY SATURATED one shoe.  Fortunately, the paper towel and bleach spray were just a room away next to where the baby heaved out the contents of his stomach.  I gathered them up and headed into my bedroom to wipe up the mess, then to the bathroom to wash my shoe.  At this point I was feeling good.  Good is relative, folks.  The kids were entertaining themselves for a bit, which would allow me time to get the covers off the couch cushions and throw them in the washer.  Done and done.

Ahh.  Sweet relief.  Lachlan and Zane were quietly playing downstairs so I sat the baby on my lap and started writing this post.  Reese felt kind of feverish, so he just snuggled while I typed and enjoyed the silence and cleanliness of my house.

Zane came upstairs once and asked for some Pringles and Gatorade.  Why not, I thought.  I put some purple Gatorade in a sippy and sent him back down with the whole can of chips.  Usually I would have rationed out a few chips and kept the can upstairs, but I was clearly not thinking.  Next, Lachlan came upstairs asking if he could have a drink too, so I sent him back down to his room with what was left in the bottle of Gatorade and a promise that he wouldn't spill it.

After a little more typing, Reese started to get restless, so I thought it would be a good time to let him play downstairs in the toy room while I checked on the boys.  I entered Lachlan's room to see my two eldest children sitting on the bed stark naked, watching a movie on the iPad.  The comforter was a battle scene of crumbled chips and spilled Gatorade.  "What are you guys doing naked?" I asked.  Lachlan sort of hung his head and said, "the Gatorade spilled".   Then I spied the overturned Pringles can wedged between the bed and the wall.  As I suspected, my obviously conscientious kiddos had not put the lid on.  About half a cans worth of chips was dumped out onto the floor.

Deeeep breeeaaatth.  Surprisingly, Lach hopped off the bed and asked what he could do to help so I had him bring the vaccuum to the top of the steps while I stripped the bed.  I carried the vaccuum down and let him unravel the cord and plug it in.  Then, while I got to work vacuuming, he hauled the bedding into the laundry room.  Maybe I'm the only one here, but I find vacuuming up big messes to be oddly satisfying.  Just aim and the mess is gone!

I was just thinking about how good it felt that even though all I was doing that morning was putting out metaphorical fires, at least I was staying on top of that.  That's when I caught Lachlan hauling a bucket of lawn clippings down the stairs.

"What are you doing with those?" I asked incredulously.

"Making a fire."  He must have seen my eyes widen and added, "a pretend one", before I could lose it.

Continuing to keep my calm, I asked, "so where is this 'pretend' fire"?

He led me over to a small, wooden, play kitchen that we have.  It's tiny little oven was filled with grass clippings.

"You know what, boys? This looks like fun, but why don't we move the fun out to the back porch and you can pick all the grass clippings you'd like."

That's exactly when my mom got there and I left to got to an appointment.  Oh, who am I kidding.  Therapy.  I went to therapy.

UPDATE:  Tonight while pulling my garbage cans out to the street I was pelted by a pee-filled water balloon thrown from a random car.  The balloon exploded on my bare feet and splashed up my legs.  I looked up just in time to see the tail lights of a red sports car speeding away.  It seemed an appropriate close to this day.  A sort of sickening ceremonious washing of the feet.