Monday, December 31, 2007

It's Bragging Time!

Last week, everything just sort of fell into place. It was Christmas, which is the holiday I wait all year for. My parents were here and my children ADORE them. I got to have a day date with my husband. I won my fantasy football league’s superbowl my rookie year. And I got totally spoiled by my family for Christmas.

I love Christmas. I love everything that goes along with it. I love buying presents for the people I love. I love buying my children presents most of all. I love the cooking and the baking. I love picking out a perfect tree and then decorating it as a family. I love the anticipation of Christmas Eve and playing Santa. I love opening presents on Christmas morning and seeing the kids’ faces when they see what Santa brought. I love baking my Grandmother’s cinnamon rolls every year for Christmas breakfast.

The kids loved everything they got this year, and they got spoiled rotten as usual. My parents and husband loved everything I got them. And I got all sorts of fun new toys. My darling hubby got me a Nintendo DS (mostly because I love the brain teaser puzzle games they have, but also because it’s just really fun). My mom got me an iPod Touch, which just blew me away, and she had said darling hubby load it with all of my favorite music and pictures. My in-laws gave us money, which is always welcome and most needed right about now. It was just a really surprising and wonderful day for gifts.

As cheesy as it sounds, I just kept thinking the whole day that all I had to do was live the best life I could and it would all eventually come back to me. And it wasn’t even about the tangible gifts. It was more about the fact that the people who gave them to me did so because they knew that I would genuinely love them. That they would make me laugh and give me moments of fun when the days fell into drudgery. It was just such a thoughtful Christmas and it was amazing. And to top it all off, I absolutely and completely nailed my Grandmother’s cinnamon rolls! I’ve been working with a pinch of this, pinch of that recipe for three years trying to piece them together and I finally nailed them!

It’s been such a wonderful experience for me to be able to see my parents through my children’s eyes. Because the vision is so similar to how I used to see them when I was young. And I miss that vision. The ability to see your parents as kin to superheroes, able to answer any question and conquer any boo-boo. Because it’s been too easy as of late to look at them through the jaded, in need of some therapy eyes that I’ve developed. My parents are good people. And they tried really hard to raise me well and with love. Most of the time they succeeded, but time has allowed those times when they allowed their humanness to creep in and sully that well to grow and be lit from behind so that I can see them all too well. And it is such a gift to get a bit of that child vision back when playing on the floor or being shown new things is enough for hero status.

My parents also gave my husband and me a day date!! And it was awesome to sit in a restaurant during the day and actually be able to read the entire menu instead of ordering the first thing that looked like it might taste good. And to be able to have a real conversation instead of stilted sentences punctuated with “Don’t eat the crayons!” or “No you may not dump that glass of water out to water the plants!” And to be able to see a movie! I miss movies. It was lovely and gave us a chance to reconnect, even if for but a few hours.

And I freaking won my fantasy football league’s Superbowl!!! I still can’t believe it. I totally came back from certain 5th place and won the whole thing. As a rookie. It was just so much fun to get back into football that way and with that level of passion. My dad raised me on football and I used to really love sitting with him while he explained the game to me. So it was a chance to get some of that feeling back and it gave me something to focus on that had absolutely nothing to do with my children! And I was good at it and that was a gift in and of itself these days when I find myself feeling not so very good at very much.

It was just really a wonderful week. It was a week to brag about.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Wanting What I Can Handle

As you know, I’m an only child. So I’ve been a bit of a wanter most of my life. When I was pretty young, I was totally altruistic and only asked for what I needed. It wasn’t until later, until I entered school really, that I really got into wanting things. That was when I realized that the things I wanted said a lot about me and who I am.

As I’ve grown up, those definitive things have ebbed and flowed between the dreams and fantasies and material things. Everything from habitually wishing on the first star every night to thinking about what I was going to wish for when I blew out my birthday candles, from making the annual Santa wish list to carefully dividing that wish list into needs and wants.

When I was four, I asked my parents for a big brother for Christmas. When I was 12 and my parents were temporarily separated, I made a huge wish list and at the top was that my mom move back in, which she did on Christmas day. When I was about to turn 16 and wishing against all hope for a car. When I was 20 and getting ready to spend 6 months in Germany, wishing that I had the strength to handle it all. When I was 23 and had just had an abortion and was begging for forgiveness. When I was 25 and a week away from my wedding and wishing that we had eloped. When I was 29 and a good friend was killed in Iraq and I was, again, begging for it to not be true.

And now, my wish list seems to grow longer by the day. Everything from the 42” Sony Bravia HDTV that I’ve been drooling over for months now, to a new car that would get better gas mileage and give me the room I need day to day, to financial stability, to more time with my family, to having the ability to move more into town to cut down on our daily commutes, to having another baby, to getting new carpet in our house. The list just seems to grow on its own these days.

But I was thinking this morning as I was lying in bed enjoying a rare few minutes of quiet before I got up and joined the Sunday morning family fray, that I wonder if I could handle everything I want. I was thinking particularly about the wanting another baby part. That’s been at the forefront of my mind lately, has been actually since my daughter was about 2 months old. Yes, I know I’m crazy. Moving on.

When I was a teenager desperately wishing on that star to find my one true love, I look back at that girl I was and there was no way that I could have handled my one true love at that time. I was a mess. I probably would have taken one look at him and run away screaming. Or I would have ignored him completely, not able to recognize him for what he was.

When I was a complete mess after having an abortion just out of college and wishing with my whole being to take back that decision, I wonder if I could have handled being a mother at that time in my life. When I thought I had my entire future not only mapped out, but figured out.

When I was laying on our kitchen floor sobbing after hearing that Brian had been killed in Iraq, begging for it to not be true, I wonder if I would still have the same compassion for the men and women in the military that I do now after having known him and lost him.

Everything I ask for, wish for, are things that I think will make my life easier, more comfortable, more interesting, just more. And I wonder if the real lesson that I’m supposed to be learning is that I am given everything not only for a reason, but when I can handle it and stand to learn the most from it. Even if it hurts and even if it’s hard.

Maybe it’s not about getting what I wish for. Maybe it’s about getting what I can handle.

Monday, December 03, 2007

And more with the wanting...

Holy crap have I had a bad day.

My son got sick Thanksgiving week and just as he got better, my daughter got sick and then since I’ve taught them such good sharing skills, they gave it to me. Can I just tell you that there is very little that is worse than being a mother and sick at the same time? Especially when one of your children is sick too and your husband has no time left to take off to help you out so that you can dissolve into the bacterial puddle into which you desperately want to collapse.

I essentially lost 10 days of work between the kids getting sick and me being sick. And when one is only about 8 weeks into a new job, missing 10 days doesn’t make anyone happy. I am now so totally behind that I’ve forgotten half of the stuff I needed to get done. And my employers are irritated that I had to check out on them as well, and rightfully so. And I feel like a schmuck and a failure and like I am not even remotely equipped to be a success at anything right now.

Part of it I’m sure is that I’m feeling sorry for myself, there are so many who have it so much worse than I do. I just felt so completely overwhelmed by my own lack of success and feelings of failure that I just lost it. I locked myself in my bedroom, away from the children and away from everything else. Except for one fabulous, amazing (and of course very pretty) girlfriend that called me back at the exact right moment. She let me cry and told me as many times as she could fit in between my blubbering that I am in fact not a failure and am in fact a wonderful person and mother. It‘s just hard right now. But it’s doable. I can do this.

And she’s right. I can do this. I’m just really tired of doing this. I want financial stability. I want to wake up in the morning and be excited about my day instead of waking up with thinly veiled dread because I either don’t know what I’m going to do with the kids to keep them entertained or because I’m going to feel like a failure at whatever given work task is at hand. I want to enjoy my children instead of feeling like they are just in the way. I want to spend time with my husband. I want to spend fun, quality time with my family. I want to love my work again. I want to go to grad school. I want to write. I want to feel like a good mother again. I want to feel adored and beautiful again.

I just want. And here we are back to the wanting. Aren’t you glad that I’m writing again? So much has changed evidently…oh, yeah, that’s sarcasm. That’s me gearing up for some major change in my life. Because it’s time. Because it’s become painfully obvious that significant change is warranted. It’s time for me to re-evaluate my priorities and then live those priorities.

It’s time for me to feel like an expert again instead of a novice. It’s time for me to be who I am again. I miss me. I know my husband misses me and I’m sure my kids miss me as well.

This whiny, failure feeling, pity party throwing drama queen is not me.

I’m ready to click my heels and have some magic spell take me back to who I am. But the tricky part is that I also know that I am exactly where I am supposed to be. Now I just have to figure out what the hell I’m doing here.