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Letting Go of Fear So I Can Begin Grasping

26 Mar

There were lots of “signs” indicating that today is maybe the day to write this post. I don’t even know what this post is. But let’s start with these. Trayvon Martin. Rage. Undercurrents of racism. Riptides of racism. Prejudice. Hopelessness. Hopefulness. Motherhood.

Oh boy. I am not even going to pretend that this is going to come out eloquently with coherent theme or message. I just hope that at the end, most of you still think I’m a good person. What I’ve been wrestling with, for many years, boils down to this. I am aware of and do not like racism. I recognize that I am prejudiced and I loathe it. Now before you burn me alive, know that although I concede prejudice, I fight it. I fight it within myself. There is internal dialogue, I actively examine my reflexive thoughts and try to correct and replace them. I’ve never read a more perfect description of how I feel than Glennon Melton’s post today on Momastery…which was the final straw that pushed me to write all this here.

Let me back up and “establish credibility.” I am a white female in my early thirties, in case that isn’t obvious yet. I grew up in a white, Catholic, middle-class family, and have rarely come into contact with (what do I say here?) black people in my short life. I have no black friends. I have one friend on Facebook, a person I know from high school, who is black. But although I adore that person, I wouldn’t call our relationship anything more than acquaintances right now. I would love for it to be more (hello Facebook friend!). I admire that person and would welcome a friendship if one develops. I have two (that I know of) friends that I’ve met through the local social media scene that have mixed children. I have one neighbor who is black and another who is a self-described mulatto. I once slept with someone who is black. These relationships embody all of my worldly experience of black people. And then there is the popular media and our social culture, and in general the social norms I learned in childhood. And that all leads me where? I don’t know. A pretty heavy fog of confusion from where I’m sitting.

All I know is that my heart is absolutely BROKEN about this whole Trayvon Martin case. I believe that as mothers we are bound together by that transcendental experience of bringing children into our hearts. Or are they placed there by God? Whatever you conceive God to be. Or hormones? In any case, I look at the pictures, I read the stories and I see my own son, my own daughter and I grieve for the pain my sister in motherhood is suffering. My absolute greatest fear in life is that I will lose a child. I literally don’t know what to do with myself right now…with this incredible empathy that has been placed in me. I just spent 20 minutes milling around in circles in my kitchen trying to decide if I should blog about this. Maybe I should write a letter to my one black aquaintence/friend? WHAT DO I DO!? How do I, little old, insignificant me, add my own stitch to mend together this awful injustice and the collective broken heart of our nation?

You know, months and months ago I went in circles with myself about posting something about the internal conflict I abide that is my reflexive prejudice and my desire to eradicate it from my mind. I went on Amazon and looked for books about black-white relations, and you know what? I was so put off by the venom in the comments that I never bought a single one. It makes me sick to my stomach. I want to reach out and know what to do but I get this overwhelming impression (from those comments and the random things I’ve seen & heard) that black people do not want to have to educate me. And really, should they have to? It irritates them that I don’t completely understand black culture, black history and the fine (or even obvious) details of the black experience. And all I know to do is beg from this stupid blog. I don’t know. How can I ever learn if I am shamed for wondering?

Overwhelmingly, I feel that this case, this Trayvon Martin tragedy is a huge call for society to join hands. I want to join my hands with yours, all of yours and be friends, be advocates for one another. It seems ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous that I could be so ignorant about something seemingly as basic as black culture, black people, everything. I mean, I should know all that, right? The civil rights movement? Desegregation? I should in this day and age, by default, be up to my eyeballs in my deep understanding of what it’s like to be black. I mean, I listen to rap music. (That was a joke, people. Although I do like some rap) The fact is, I think it’s taboo to discuss. So taboo, in fact, that I have never had the balls to discuss it other than once. I was a flight attendant at the time and I attempted to discuss a race relations current event with a black crew member. It did not go well. Suffice to say that she was very polite and although we had a really cool connection about something BEFORE I went out on the talking about racism limb, she never called me to host that “toy party” we discussed. I don’t blame her. I’m sure most people don’t really want a “project friend.” They just want to be normal, like there’s no weird tension there. So, yeah, haven’t done that again because I was clearly a complete tool about it, although I’m not exactly sure how. So better to stay safe and not drive away any more potential friends. Which I seem to be pretty good at, regardless of whether they are black, white or whatever. So yeah, maybe not a good idea to write a letter to that Facebook friend about all this.

But there IS that tension for me. I am ashamed of it. I want to get past it, but I don’t know how other than by the grace of others who are willing to set me straight and not dump me like yesterday’s garbage if I make a misstep. There is so much fear in me of saying or doing the wrong thing, I never reach out to get to know people in the first place. Like that mom at the mall playground I wanted to introduce myself to.  It’s so sad and pathetic. And yet here is this blinding beacon of a sign that I need to force myself to grow, force myself to go back out on that limb, and as one person begin to mend part of that national broken heart.

My heart is holding Ms. Fulton.

Is The Stuff The Tangible Manifestation of Our Emotional Baggage?

17 Dec

This post is a response to “What Will We Do When We Have All The Stuff?” by Britt Reints over at In Pursuit of Happiness. Which is an incredible blog that provides much validation for my bewildered soul.

Oh, woman. Our souls are travelling parallel paths, it seems.  Several weeks ago the same question, “What will I do when I have all the stuff?” sort of smacked me in the face. I immediately knew what I would do. Find a need that requires more stuff. Of course, I don’t like that answer. But it’s the truth of what my habits will manifest if I don’t learn a new way. SN: Isn’t strange what sources coalesce to form an unexpectedly coherent train of thought. Anyhoo! Realization for me, is often the key to changing course. So I have been on the brink of achieving a change in course on this whole consumerism thing. The ideas are coming together, but the habits are not dying. Shopping is almost reflexive for me, I am ashamed to admit. I am fully aware of using it as a band-aid when I don’t want to examine what’s really bothering me, or think about the meaning of life or my mortality or…yes, I am serious. I ponder my mortality on a daily basis.

Anyway, the whole life list thing and keeping it at the forefront of my thoughts…always watching for ideas for that list. Always measuring my thoughts against the mantra, “Do I want to let my existence pass without even attempting this?” sort of amplifies things like habitual consumerism into a much more urgent issue to address. And instead of thinking of these issues as flaws and what’s wrong with me and failures. I’ve been trying to think of them as habits that are subject to breaking. That’s not really a good explanation of what I mean to get across here. It’s epic. For me anyway. I’ve been able to somehow…FINALLY…observe myself and my unsavory habits without as much judgement. OBSERVE myself. Without JUDGEMENT. Just like they told us to do in mindfulness group therapy. It is incredible and I honestly did not believe it was possible for me. This month my hormones opened up the heavens to me or something. Last month the mouth of hell swallowed me and this month…well. It was slightly transcendental. For the first time in a very, very long time I have been able to appreciate my self as a soul within vessel. Have I achieved the first yoga sutra? Without even having been practicing asana? Unlikely. Haha. But I feel as though I have glimpsed it. And with that came incredible measures of peace.

But anyway. I started this posted talking about consumerism. You didn’t think consumerism was so deeply entwined with existentialism, did you? Oh yes. I bring everything back to that. I find a way. It always comes back to our inevitable demise. I suppose it is my nature to see things through that lens. Unlike shopping and buying things I don’t need and stockpiling crap that I don’t have time to use because I’m too busy buying MORE stuff. (Which I would call a bad habit. Emotional baggage. Albatross.) I guess that was the big AHA! for me. I realized as I was paying for some craft supplies, and random neat stuff to put into my “gift stash” that I would 1) not get around to completing or even beginning said craft project for weeks, maybe even months and 2) I couldn’t even recall half of the things already in my gift stash. So I have been attempting, with very limited success (Squee!, nonetheless) to be a thoughtful consumer. The momentum of a shopping trip and the fear of missing a “deal” have defeated me many times since, but I am failing with a weird kind of awareness that makes me stronger every time. It’s like I’m able observe what is driving me to do things , in this case, habitually buying stuff I don’t need or even truly want to buy. I feel like I’m able to peel away a layer of the cognitive onion each time I fail. And that is encouraging. I am holding onto this positive perspective with a death grip, praying it doesn’t dissolve into sand.

As to what I would do…back to that first question. That’s where the constant mental maintenance of the life list comes in. The life list is not for some obscure future date. It’s for next Monday, my Mama’s Night Out.

Why Am I Depressed Today?

15 Nov

Today is screwing with my head. Wait. What? Isn’t my head already screwed up?  Not my head, my mind. Why the EFF am I mopey and depressed today? It’s like the first day in a week that I’m not bleeding from my vagina. I exercised last night, followed by a full night of sleep. All signs were pointing to a fabulous day, but nope. No such luck.

So what is it? I’m wracking my brain. I did wake up in the middle of a nightmare this morning. A terrible dying without a chance to say goodbye dream. That could be it. We’re under the gloomy, grey veil of precipitation today, though our yellowed maple leaves are fluorescing against it. There’s also the fact that I haven’t been to yoga in quite a while…and the embarrassing fact remains that I have no home practice yet. Yoga is my prozac so it’s a very plausible reason for this crap I can’t shake off. Last night the spin teacher scolded me for not trying hard enough and ruined the class for me. Although I probably maintained a higher heart rate because of it. And I don’t know if it’s a symptom or cause, but lately my “life” has been falling short of my expectations. I feel like I fell onto the hamster wheel again. I thought I hopped off that damned wheel when I resigned my position and decided to be a professional mom. Is professional mom becoming a hamster wheel because if it is…hold on while I cry a minute.

Oh yes, why don’t I cry a little more. What do I want to do with my life? My life that’s slipping through my fingers like sugar through a sieve. I feel too old to start anything new and I’ve wasted too many chances at that already. And so many people with no chances at all. I read an article a few days ago about hitting rock bottom with the fear of aging or fear of losing one’s youth or whatever you want to call it. That wiley little imp that mocks your efforts to rise above appearances and walk the don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover talk. In a way it was comforting and reassuring. There is a bottom somewhere. Further down…by about a decade. And some kind of peace is down there too. And you’ll find it just in time for your daughter to pick up the  mantle of self-loathing. Sigh. Cry.

I decided to get fitted for some “real” brassieres. Maybe that’s why I’m in a funk. Nothing like seeing your fun bags looking more like funny pancakes. Pancakes that DEFY push-up bras and instead flow down and out of said push-up bra instead of the lifting and separating you were aiming for. And then there’s the stomach. Ooooooh the stomach. You guys know what it looks like so pfft.

ARGH! Get off of this train, Carly!

But yoga is too far away and it’s too expensive, Carly.

Then do it at home, Carly!

But there’s nowhere to do it and it’s too chaotic with the kids, Carly.

Well, then you’re screwed, aren’t you?

Sigh. I refuse to accept that I’m screwed and you know that I won’t just give up. I just need to find some motivation. What a joke. I don’t need to find it, I need to manufacture it out of thin air.

It’s there.

I know it’s there, but I think I’m afraid of failing. I am sick of drumming up motivation, starting something great and then getting derailed and quitting. I’m sick of disappointing myself again and again.

It’s easy to cover that up with retail therapy.

Yes, but’s it also expensive. And being the person I want to be is hard hard work. I get tired. Why do I get so tired?

Well, the doctor says you need to eat more protein.

I find it hard to believe that’s a magic cure. The convenience food thing I’ve been doing has been making me feel good because I’m getting dinner on the table and getting stuff done.

Eating whole foods would be better for everyone.


I think this conversation is over.



Besides, it’s time to make dinner.


16 Sep

Well, I’ve been noticeably absent here on the old bloggy blog. The almost 1 year old bloggy blog. Anyway, Podcamp 6 is tomorrow and I will be attending so I thought I better get something up to date on top of my homepage. HELLLLLOOOOOOOO!

My Dagny & Me

I’ve been taking an informal hiatus from certain internet stuffs in hopes of getting my screen time under control.

I noticed a while back that I feel “lost” if I have some down time and can’t look at my phone or the internet. I have simultaneously been trying to get rid of the last 10 pesky pounds of pregnancy weight, mostly by thinking about it a lot. I really want to attack that as well as my general well-being through a home practice of yoga. Sigh. I still haven’t managed to drag myself out of bed in the morning to do that. Nor have I been able to make myself work out at night before bed. I thought if I removed the time suck that is the internet (specifically Facebook, social media and online shopping) that it would help. 5 days in and nothing has changed. I’m going to blame my period for the poor results and give it another week at least.

So I’m looking forward to seeing some friends I met last year and making some new ones this year. I won’t be at the meet ‘n’ greet tonight  but I will be staying out (I think) on Saturday night. And if you are a YouTuber, please track me down so I can pick your brain. This Podcamp year is going to be the year of YouTube for me. I have some cool ideas for several channels I’d like to get going and I’m looking to absorb as much knowledge as I can before taking the plunge.

See you tomorrow!


Permanent Sterilization

11 Apr

No witty title today, just BAM! It’s been on my mind since I got rejected for the IUD. I went to the doctor last week in hopes of having a Mirena placed. I was relieved to put off any permanent commitments. I don’t do very well with permanent. In fact, when I think of any of the huge commitments I’ve made in my life, namely getting tattooed and buying a house, they all have an “out.” How ridiculous is it that a grown woman can’t commit to anything permanent.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been around and sane (as in not a teenager) long enough now to realize that no matter how convinced I am of something, I will likely change my mind about it a million times. So even though I am 100% sure right now that I don’t want to endure another pregnancy, that doesn’t mean I won’t change my mind later. I also realize that my passing whims are not always best to act upon. So even though I now realize that I can love more than one child with equal ferocity, and I am greedy and would like more little loves, kind of like I wanted more Barbies when I was little…that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

In fact, what it comes down to is priorities. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I have an undying dream to travel the world with my kids. I want to show them the 7 Wonders of the World. I want them to see Notre Dame, live and in person. I want to send them to the bird man in front of Notre Dame with coins clutched in their tiny hands to buy bread crumbs for the birds. My dream is shared and supported by my husband. We have a real plan to make that happen. We know for a fact that we will never be able to afford to do it if we add another child to our family. We want to provide a certain type of lifestyle for our kids and maintaining a lifestyle costs money. We’re not rolling in the cash, so we have to have a plan. Sure, we might someday win the lottery…but I’m going to go out on a limb and say that’s not an effective strategy for meeting our longterm goals.

Are those beautiful dreams more beautiful than discovering two more distinct personalities and nurturing them within the confines of Pennsylvania? I don’t know. I mean I could go into some really crazy stuff. I don’t believe anything in particular about the afterlife and quite frankly it scares me to think of what will happen to my consciousness after I die. I take these decisions very seriously. We are only granted so much time in this life and to be even more ominous, we have no idea when that time is going to be cut short. Even if I believed in God and Heaven in the traditional sense of those words, there’s nothing in there about second and third chances to live the life you always dreamed about. Which is the right choice? What experiences do I have to forfeit in order to purchase my dreams? It’s really hard for me to come to terms with the fact that I cannot have both. BUT…and this may be the lesson here…if I wait too long to commit, I will have lost both options. I don’t want to one day wake up and realize I wasted the best years of my life waffling over what to do with it.

But back to the topic at hand. I went in to get my Mirena and when they measured the length of my uterus it was too long. That means if they placed it, there’s no guarantee it would even work and it could migrate into a fallopian tube or perforate my uterine walls. They offered me the pill but I don’t really want to put hormones in my body that will pass into my breastmilk. Just my personal choice. So that leaves barrier methods. I don’t want to depend on the incredibly not-confidence-inspiring reliability of those. So now I’ve been turned back toward my original plan, which was to have the Essure procedure shortly after having Bode. I chickened out and went for the Mirena first. But I guess “fate” wasn’t going to let me off the hook that easily.

I had a nice talk about all this with my mom and she gave me even more things to ponder. What heredity has in store for me and the potential to avoid major surgery later in life, among other things.

I think no matter what I choose, I will always mourn what might have been. And in truth, I believe I have already made my decision but I’m still trying to be comfortable with it. The maybe’s and what-if’s won’t let me have my peace.

UPDATE: There is another procedure similar to Essure that’s called Adiana. I’m looking into that now. So far my research is not instilling very much confidence in Essure.

Charitable Giving Devo

2 Dec

Well, tonight we finished off our Thanksgiving “leftovers” and Christmas is right around the corner. Thanks to the premature holiday zealotry that this part of the country seems so fond of, I’ve been thinking about Christmas since before Halloween. For many of us, this time of year really brings into sharp focus how very fortunate we are. It’s a time during which we think of the many, many people out there, perhaps right around the corner, who are struggling and suffering. I haven’t always been in tune with this aspect of the season, and I just wanted to talk a bit about the devolution and evolution of my perspective on charitable giving.

I’ll start off by saying I used to be a self-proclaimed “non-believer” in charity and charitable giving. That particular perspective endured throughout my twenties, and prior to that I was more or less oblivious to charitable endeavors beyond the scope of the annual canned food drives my various schools held growing up. It developed out of a close identification with the novel Atlas Shrugged, and anyone familiar with Ayn Rand and her rationalism philosophy knows that she “[didn't] believe in charity.” Now, I’m not sure that’s completely true (her foundation offers a scholarship) but I latched onto that idea and ran with it. Over the years I questioned it, but ultimately used it as an excuse not to think about my duty (if such a thing exists) to my fellow man. I’ve always known deep down that I was denying and avoiding a truth that my heart could not completely abandon.

The truth is, I do care about people and I do empathize with their suffering. I know it sounds ridiculous and cliche, but I believe I have an especially strong ability to empathize with the suffering and struggles of others when I allow myself to be aware of them. What I mean by that is, I find it effortless to immerse myself in tragic stories of virtually any kind. Because of that, I intentionally do not read or watch the news. I avoid books from Oprah’s book club. I avoid films that I know to be tragic…in fact, I avoid most films that aren’t kids’, action, or comedy. All of those things usually turn me into a blubbering mess at the drop of a hat, and furthermore I usually go into a depressed funk for periods of time ranging from a few days to several weeks. I’ve been ridiculed for being oversensitive and for overreacting, and over the years I’ve created some very effective ways of coping with that, such as blocking my emotional response, the aforementioned avoidance, and the aforementioned “philosophy” that I adopted. Then something happened that changed everything. I became a mom. And honestly, I was primed for paradigm shift thanks to my former coworker Pete, who had been heavily involved in charitable work and who tirelessly debated the value of charity with me on those slow days at work. Furthermore, I was turned on to a couple of bloggers by my Aunt-In-Law Robin that earned my respect early on, and with serendipitous timing after I became a parent, opened my eyes to what one person can accomplish and just how easy it is to touch a less fortunate stranger’s life in a positive way. Those bloggers are Virginia of That’s Church and Michelle of The Burgh Baby. Of course, both of these women have touched MANY lives.  From helping save orphans in Haiti, to a project to improve the lives of sick children in the hospital, to the most awesome Christmas fundraiser & toy drive, they’ve really lit the fire of accountability in me in the past year or so since I was made aware of their blogs.

It’s funny how (for me at least) the arrival of my child was also the arrival of my greatest love in all of existence. I can never overstate this love for my child. People talk about God’s love and their love of God. That’s how I feel about my daughter…and soon how I will feel about my son too. Whatever evidence of the divine exists, I see it embodied in her and I felt it in her coming into existence.  Feeling like that about someone who is just learning about the world really throws one’s beliefs into perspective. I want my daughter to empathize with her fellow man. I want her to nurture kindness in her heart, a heart that isn’t bent on material possessions, or any kind of possessiveness, for that matter.

*Tangent: when I say fellow man I mean women too, it’s just easier and less awkward to keep the language simple and sexist. Kidding! You know what I mean though, right?*

Anyway! I have become hyper-aware of the fact that I am now the primary role model for the most important person in the (my) world. I was especially aware tonight at dinner when I said “shit” in casual conversation with James and off to my right I heard the soft, sweet echo “sit” coming from the innocent lips of my daughter. Oopsie. But where was I…being a role model.

Last Christmas, my first Christmas as a momma, James and I decided to approach the business of gift-giving in a whole new way. We started what we hope will be a tradition in our family. We drastically cut back our gift-giving budget and made a large (for us) contribution to a charitable organization instead. We gave  a lot less than we usually do to our friends and family so that we could sponsor a cleft palate surgery through Smile Train.  We also learned about an organization called Heifer International, and we’ve tried to incorporate periodic donations to them at times in lieu of gifts. Both of these organizations have great programs, in my opinion, and if you’re looking to improve lives, I think they have great potential to satisfy in that regard. We felt great about our decision and we got lots of good feedback from our family and friends. We hope this tradition will help instill a sense philanthropy in our children, and over the years I would love to incorporate more philanthropy into our lives by offering not just money but our time and talents for the benefit of those less fortunate. Parents magazine ran a great article on their website suggesting ways to give this holiday season as part of their nifty feature/newsletter “100 Days of Holidays.” I think soup kitchens are on everyone’s radar around Thanksgiving time, but there were a couple of other ideas that I tend to forget about unless reminded.

As part of all this remodeling of our Christmas habits, we discussed paring down the amount of gifts and setting a precedent early on for the level of consumerism we would indulge in every year for the kids. Finally I get to the original reason for this post. Things have fallen apart for me this year. I mean, they sort of have. I fully intend to maintain our new tradition of charitable giving because I love Smile Train and I love that we can afford to give something so complete, so life-changing, and so meaningful as a cleft palate surgery to a poverty-stricken child. We will again scale back our gift-giving budget for family and friends…except that I’m having a reeeeeally hard time scaling back what I want to get for Dagny. The only thing we have really splurged on is her winter clothes. And honestly, she had no season-appropriate clothes that fit her. So I don’t think that really counts. I guess I haven’t really unleashed my raging consumerist tendencies much since she was born. We’ve bought a lot of things secondhand and many things I intend as “Christmas gifts” for her this year were purchased via craigslist or at various thrift stores. However. There is a rather long list of items that just don’t pop up on craigslist or in thrift stores often enough that I want to give her. We are talking about a serious breakdown of my last year’s notion to gift each child with one moderately priced item  from each parent, along with a few stocking stuffers,  and an annual ornament…to the tune of several hundred dollars worth of stuff I have my eye on. Yeah. Wince.

I don’t know what happened. Ok. I do sort of know what happened. Last year it was easy to  say, “oh yeah, we’ll just get them one or two toys” because Dagny wasn’t even sitting up at the time. Her interests and personality were as yet, unrevealed.

Last Christmas

This year, on the other hand, she is at a stage of development that I can only describe as a nuclear explosion of personality, communication, and physical abilities. Combine that with the fact that we haven’t really bought any toys for her since before she turned 1, due to the big move from Denver to Pittsburgh. So, developmentally she is pretty much beyond all of her toys. And as I’ve realized of late, that is a recipe for a very curious toddler. She is into EVERYTHING, most especially the kitchen cabinets and drawers…EVEN THOUGH they are childproofed. There are also the beeps and lights that she can manipulate on the oven and dishwasher. Precarious furnishings that she takes pleasure in climbing on. And I should take her outside more often*, but I won’t lie, this pregnancy is a great excuse…and in my opinion a valid excuse…not to subject myself to chasing Dagny around the yard, making sure she isn’t trying to sample a nugget of deer poop or eat an acorn or a rock or run out into the street.  Especially at this late stage of the game, and now that it’s pretty chilly outside. There’s also the fact that if we don’t manage to get some outside time in during the golden window of time between breakfast and lunch that I use for running errands, it’s darn near dark as night by the time she wakes up from her nap. So she’s bored. I know this. I’ve found a couple things to help, like the Thursday library thing we go to. OK, one thing. I’d love to get involved with some swimming stuff, especially because being in a pool is mighty relieving for a woman of my size and level of gestation. Also because Dagny has taken to “swimming” in the bathtub. She actually calls it swimming. She lays down on her tummy and plays with her toys, it’s really pretty adorable. So yeah, all of this is sounding like a great excuse for me to go balls-to-the-wall crazy with her Christmas presents. I mean, everything is on sale! Everyone else is doing it! The sheer number of just the secondhand “presents” is pretty high. And I haven’t even really started with the new stuff. Sigh. I totally didn’t see this coming. I didn’t anticipate how hard it would be not to give her anything she wants along with everything she needs. And believe me, the word needs can become pretty subjective in this world of “Your Baby Can Read” and “my 14 month old can do calculus and is fluent in 6 languages.” So, that is my latest first world dilemma. I am losing this battle with myself, big time. And it doesn’t help that baby bro is coming very soon and Dagny really does need some stuff that engages her (for both our sakes) and doesn’t involve sitting in her beanbag drooling at the TV. At least she’s learning ASL during all that drooling time though. Problem is, I think now she knows more signs than I do.

Finally something NEW to explore!

*I’ll tell you how I know. Because every time we leave the confines of the house she says, bobbing up and down, with a huge grin and wide eyes, “ruh ruh rou” (ou as in ouch and loud and about.) Translation: “run around.” She says it when I tried to put her in the car, when we take out the trash. She says it in the highchair when we’re out to eat. She says it in the cart when we go grocery shopping every week. She wants me to let her run around and I feel terrible because I barely ever do.

At least her Daddy takes her outside to ruh ruh rou on the weekends...

Commitment Phobia

28 Oct

Where oh where do I begin!? What I’ve come to realize is that we have a major problem making life-altering decisions! I started writing a list of questions and just babbling about them all but I think for your sanity, I’m going to just deal with one of them right now. I picked the most exciting one. Well, I think its the most exciting.

Have you ever considered that maybe you don’t have to live your life like everyone else does? I think about it ALLLL the time. James hears about it all the time and over the years I think he’s sort of changed how he thinks about things as a result. Most people don’t really take us seriously when we talk about this kind of thing and they sort of blow it off as fantasizing. Well I’m here to tell you, we are totally serious. S0 anyway, what is this fascinating decision that we’re pondering?

It’s the Brangelina decision!

We seriously want to travel the world with our kids. Long term. There are lots of permutations of this particular concept and most of them are appealing to us. We don’t want to be the people (definitely click on that and watch it) who stayed together because its comfortable, got married because a certain amount of time has passed, bought a house because that’s just what you do next, then got bored so we had some kids, etc, etc, then realized on our deathbed that we’d been on autopilot our entire lives. We want to see the seven wonders and show them to our kids. We want to experience new cultures, seek out new life and new civilizations.

We just want to be global citizens to some extent and share that experience with our children. Maybe we travel from one place to the next, staying in each place for an extended amount of time while we learn about the local culture and lifestyle. Maybe we set up a home base and take mini-vacations to various destinations. Maybe we go from place to place doing humanitarian work like building schools and volunteering. Maybe we spend 4 months a year in Pittsburgh, 4 months a year in Florida and 4 months a year chasing Winter on our snowboards. Maybe we buy a yacht and sail from place to place for a few years. Haha, just kidding on the yacht. My fear of sharks is alive and well. Just last Friday another shark attack story hit the news.

Seriously though, when you think about it, the world is your oyster. We are so deeply blessed to be who we are in every sense. For so many people, their most pressing issue every day is whether they will be able to find enough water, clean or not, to keep themselves and their families alive for another day. It seems almost wrong to squander our blessings and just mindlessly follow the prescribed path of the majority. I’m not trying to say that the “standard American life” is wrong per se, because there are many many people I love and respect who fit that description, but there is absolutely nothing about them that could be described as “mindless.”

But everything costs money, doesn’t it? And making choices means making sacrifices. Neither of us likes the whole idea of making sacrifices, but we also can’t live our lives in fear of making decisions like where to buy a house or how much to spend on one. It’s the one pesky decision that’s been chasing us all over the country. All of this has been swirling around us with all the other life-altering decisions we seem to be facing now and always, as we get to know the Pittsburgh real estate market. I seriously cannot wait until I can have a margarita again.

Raw Fear

19 Oct

I’ve been incubating this post for a few days now and its about time I got it out. Maybe this will give some of the non-parent types a little insight into why some of us momma types can get a little overprotective. Let me just lead off by saying, I know this is going to sound a little off the charts and I know some people will read this and think I need an emergency trip to the psychiatrist. Let me assure you that this is just par for the course for me. This is my whole life, its always been this intense for as long as I can remember. I am doing just fine and I assure you that I know well when its time to take a trip to the shrink. And furthermore, James keeps a close eye on me so don’t you worry. I told myself I wouldn’t censor myself on this blog or hold back…well, here’s my first leap of faith.

Sometimes I try to explain to people how much I love Dags and how earth-shattering her arrival was for me. Words pale in comparison to the utter fire that binds me to her. The intensity blends into my neurotic tendencies to create some of the most raw fear I have ever felt. The most recent example was about three days ago. I was feeling hormonal and kind of weepy as I took my late-night shower, when my mind wandered into familiar territory. I started contemplating what I would do if I lost Dags. This occurs in various forms  for me since the day she was born. Earlier in the week I couldn’t relax for my nap because…get this…I couldn’t resolve how I would handle it if Dags had been canyoning with us in the Dominican Republic and had been sucked under a rock like this one backpack we lost along the way. I vividly imagined what it might be like to allow myself to be sucked under with her, or to remain safe and try to get help, or what kind of elaborate rigging of ropes I could use to anchor myself while I went in after her. People, I am CRAZY. I know this, but while you haven’t had over 3 decades to get used to it, I have. Months ago, I went through a similar episode about what I would do if she fell into the tiger enclosure at The Denver Zoo. I contemplated buying rope to keep in the diaper bag. Don’t worry, I didn’t actually buy the rope. Yet.

But anyway, back to the shower. It hit me like a ton of bricks, the thought of losing her. Even though I can clearly visualize her as a young adult, I can’t shake the nagging fear of losing her somehow. I just dissolved into tears with almost no thought, the emotion just washed over me without words, without thoughts, without even the familiar images that sometimes pop into my head to elucidate some as yet ineffable emotion. Then slowly the thoughts came. Would I be able to ever be happy again? Would I want to take my own life? Would I be able to function? These questions get answered whether I like it or not. My mind just sinks itself into that reality and explores the full range of the experience and I have made scant progress with shutting the process down. I can shut down the tiger enclosure and I can shut down the canyoning…but things get pretty weird before I can shut down a full-blown existential crisis. So things went from how I would handle it to how I feel about the value of my own life in comparison to that of Dagny’s and in time, 2.0′s life. What is my purpose here? You know what I thought to myself? It became so clear to me that all of my hopes and dreams mean so much less to me now than facilitating Dagny’s hopes and dreams. First. She’s just first on the list. How does that happen? How is it possible that this little child can come in with all her potential and innocence and completely upend my whole paradigm. I had one. I had a paradigm of how I worked, what made me tick and how to deal with it all. I had a good idea of how I fit into the world and how I am tied to the rest of humanity. Then she came and supplanted the rest of humanity. Does this shit happen to everybody? Is this just my warped version of life that I’ve dealt with all along? Part of me is afraid to find out. Up until I hit the publish button I can safely assume that I’m normal, even though I strongly suspect that isn’t the case.

All of this…and then, what about 2.0? Is it becoming clearer now how terrifying the prospect of another earth-shift is for me? I almost want to say it might be like dying in the sense that everything is about to change and I have absolutely no clue what it will be like on the other side. I can speculate…but I already know from last time that the change is unfathomable. What I do know, is that when I think about ever losing Dags I now think about 2.0 and how I must struggle on toward peace of mind for his sake.

Love is a strange thing. I’ve always known that. Parental love is catastrophic. This is what I’ve learned.

May peace be with those who have loved and lost.


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