Tuesday, December 20, 2011

There is light

It will be 7 months tomorrow since Sabrina fordged a new road in our lives, and fortunately the road has no split paths. This time has been some of the best and the worst. I have found that life can exist without "crutches" and my time/life at 161 Morrison is so much more enjoyable.

I had shoulder surgery 3 months ago and the PT is progressing, slowly as predicted, but progressing.

Sabrina has completed her first 3 week IPPE, yah, Sabrina.

Anna is also progressing in her ready, writing and arithmetic.

Emmy is slyly growing up and showing her knowledge and temper seemingly at will. Emmy has also started nursery school, which has been a humungous need filled in our lives.

That is all for now, peace, love and happy holiday's.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011


This has been a dark week.  Mike went to Orlando for work.  He left last Friday and he returns tomorrow.  It will have been 7 days and 6 nights that I took care of the girls all by myself.  I think I did a lot better than I thought I would be able.  I made them reasonably healthy meals, we got to school and work on time each day, and I handled them at home... getting dressed, brushing teeth, making meals, wiping asses, giving baths, reading bedtime stories... it's a full-time job from which there is no break.  And I guess that's what has worn me down.  I can take care of them.  Of course I can.  And I love them.  And they were sweet, most of the time, and we've really had some special bonding time, I think.  We slept together every night (not by my choice, but I am powerless to stop it once I'm half asleep, and, hey, I like a warm body next to me, too!)

But by Monday evening, I was Very Emotional.  And it has come and gone since then, each time coming back more suddenly and lasting longer.  I am emotionally exhausted, and nearly anything could make me cry instantaneously.  Commercials.  Country songs.  Blog posts that make my heart ache.  A photo of Mike and me on our honeymoon.

All of this makes me have very confusing feelings about Mike.  I miss him; I resent him.  I feel weak (i.e. "How does anyone DO this alone?"); I feel empowered (i.e. "See?!  I can DO this.  I am strong.  I don't NEED him.")  I want him to come home quickly so we can have some family time and get back into a routine; I want him to come home quickly so I can escape.  I think about single parenting.  It sounds so hard; it seems like a fantastic arrangement.  I am envious of mothers who have their kids all week, and then send the kids to the other parent, and are adults for the weekend.  They get to be real adults.  With lives.  For two whole days, every week, or every other week.  And it is disturbing that this appeals to me.  How empty must I be?  How drained and lifeless must I be, to feel like I need a separation in order to have an identity?

I know this is a problem.  I know that I have made serious mistakes to have gotten to this point.  I gave up my identity a long time ago.  I quit trying, when I should have been fighting to keep some part of myself alive.  And now it feels like Too Much.

But I know I can overcome this.  I know that these feelings come and go, and I'd rather have the feelings, experience them, admit them, and move on.  No, not just move on, but do better.  To work towards fixing the problem.

I think my fears, sadness, and indifference are being fed by the uncertainty that exists between Mike and me right now.  I am so afraid that he is not taking this, not taking me, seriously, or that he is waiting for this to blow over.  I want to address our problems, all of them, and I want to fix them.  I struggle with accepting that this won't happen overnight.  I know that.  And so I know that I have to be patient.  But I also have to keep driving forward, for myself.   I am satisfied with progress.  I don't demand instant gratification, and I am not seeking immediate solutions.  I'm not delusional.  But fixing problems takes work.  Hard work.  Daily work.  A little at a time.  It's like exercising, maybe.  If you want to make a life-long change, you have to force yourself to do it.  I think the work needs to be scheduled at first.  Planned for.  I think we have to force ourselves to do it every day until it is routine.  We are not good at talking through things.  We need practice.  A lot of practice.

I read about relationships, and what marriages should be like, or what they can be like.  I read stuff by professionals, and I read everyday people stuff--blogs.  And I cry when I read something especially poignant, when an everyday person speaks of her gratitude for her spouse.  And I'm not talking about gratitude for washing dishes or folding laundry.  I'm talking about emotional gratitude.  I'm talking about a feeling of strength you can get from another person, a feeling that you are unconditionally loved and a feeling that someone else would put your needs and desires above their own.  I don't feel that.  And I don't mean to suggest that I am a victim here.  I very much doubt that Mike gets that feeling from our marriage either.  But where we disagree, I guess, is what to do about it.  Or whether to do anything about it at all.  I feel that pursuing a meaningful marriage is essential to my well-being.  I feel that he'd just rather not pick at that wound, and he doesn't want or need anything else from our relationship.


Also, last night, adding to my dark week, Anna had a little breakdown while trying to go to bed.  She had been up for a while, complaining that she couldn't sleep, and she was quite tired but fighting it, and so she got emotional.  I went up to her room for the final time to tell her I was sorry her belly was hurting, and to ask if it would help if I lay down with her, and so I cuddled her and put on some music.  She told me she had switched the CD (thank goodness, too, because we'd been listening to the same Norah Jones album for months!), and I noticed she put in our old copy of Lullabies: String Quartet.  I haven't listened to that in ages, and it brought back such vivid, pleasant memories.  I told her that we used to listen to that CD a lot when she was first born, how I'd wake up throughout the night to feed her, and we'd lay in bed nursing listening to soft music, or sometimes go downstairs to the couch and watch some television together--well, how I'd watch, and she'd sleep in my arms. It was some deep stuff, a really tender moment.  And then we fell silent, and I held her and listened to her breathe, waiting for that gentle, rhythmic movement of her body, that complete relaxation.  And instead, I heard some sniffling.  And then a whimper.  And I asked, "Anna!  What's wrong, honey?!"  And she sobbed.  And I asked, "What?!  What is it, honey?  Why are you crying?!"  And she blubbered, through gasps of air, "I just had such a terrible thought.  I thought," *gasp,* "I thought about when you will die!  I don't want you to die, Mommy!"  And a flood of emotion went through me--sadness, amusement, love, pity.  "Oh, honey, you know what?  Do you know what I think?  I think that when I die, I will be really, really, really old, like even older than Bubba.  I bet you will be old yourself when I die.  You will probably be a grandma!"  We talked about this a little bit, and I tried to explain to her that while it's hard to understand, when she gets older and has babies of her own, that she will love them so much that it won't seem quite as scary.  And that everybody has to die sometime, and it's usually when you're very old, and by the time I die, she'll probably have her own children and grandchildren to love her and take care of her, and that's the way families work.  The oldest people die, and more babies are born, and there are always people to love each other.  Somehow, this made her cry even harder, more pathetically, and she wailed, "But I want my babies to look like you!!!"  I told her that her babies probably will look like me, because she looks so much like me, and her babies will look like her.  And she said, "No!  I want them to look exactly like you!" and her eyes darted up and down my body, squinting to see through the darkness.  "I want them to have your hair," *gasp,* "and your glasses," *gasp,* "and to wear the same clothes every day..."  And I couldn't help myself--I burst out laughing, apologized, and squeezed her tight, whispering comforting words.  It's true, though.  I wear the same thing every day.  Nearly.  I have my mommy uniforms.  I have an orange t-shirt, a green t-shirt, and a blue tank top.  And those are the things I wear in the mornings and evenings, while I'm taking care of her.  While I bathe her, read to her, rock her.

I continued to hold her, and she eventually calmed and drifted to sleep.  I lay there thinking about the magnitude of my role--of all our roles, really--as parents.  It never occurred to me that the clothes I wear could matter to her, but I think they do.  I can remember some things my mother always wore when I was a child.  Some of her nightgowns, and those famous (awful) robes that she'd lounge in all day, drinking coffee, gabbing on the phone.  That was home to me.  I can remember rubbing my cheeks on her legs when she wore something soft.  I can remember, so clearly it's frightening, lying in my grandmother's lap, twirling her Italian horn pendant (closest likeness I can find).  Having that necklace, though I would never wear it, would mean the world to me.  That necklace is my grandmother. I wonder if Anna feels that way about some of my things.  Or if she will when she's older.  She must have memorized by now the feeling of lying in my lap, head on my chest, stroking my t-shirt or rubbing my necklace.  I know that I have memorized the feeling of my children lying on me, the gentle curves of their bodies, their bony backs and hips, where each of their hair parts, which direction the hair lies, and which little section of hair on each has a mind of its own.  Will I forget those feelings?  I suppose I will, mostly, because who could imagine that after thousands of hours nursing my children that I could forget what it feels like?  But I do.

Ah, I wish I had a point here.  (Do you see how emotional I am?!  Lord.  I mean, really.)  But, yeah.  Heavy stuff.  Dark.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Growing pains

I have been feeling very somber and nostalgic about the kids, mourning the loss of their babyhoods.  This probably has a lot to do with Anna's recent emotional growth spurt, aided, no doubt, by hanging out with Lilly, the neighbor girl, who is 6 years old, but strikes me as a mature 6.  As in, unpleasant.  I shouldn't be so negative, and she has really grown on me and can be an incredibly sweet thing.  But she is stealing my baby.  She wears a bikini and likes to bask in the sun.  In her bikini.  Doing nothing else.  Lying on a towel, in the front yard, looking pretty.  And so this is what Anna likes to do now.  (Not in a bikini, mind you.)

There are two very different aspects to Anna's development that bother me; one is completely and totally out of my control, and one makes me want to grab her by the ears and hiss, "I didn't raise you to act this way!"  She has found an attitude that I suppose is normal.  Or, no, typical might be a better word.  (There's nothing normal about pre-adolescence or adolescence--it's awkward and painful for all involved, right?)  Man, is she opinionated.  (I can't imagine where she gets this from, as there aren't many opinionated women in her lineage*.) And when she gets tired or doesn't feel well, hell hath no fury like Anna scorned.  And if we're out in public (or anywhere near Lilly) and we have to scold her in some way (usually for having a total conniption over not getting her way), her eyes furrow and she mouths and/or hisses, "STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT STOP IT!"  She has learned to be embarrassed, which is the only comforting part of this for me.  I can embarrass her as much as she can embarrass me.  Powerful stuff.  But it feels like in the blink of an eye, she learned to value a peer's opinion above mine.  It's like a knife in my heart! I am desperate to find some way, any way, to prevent this from coming between us.  Or to prevent her hating me.  I don't want to be the enemy, and I already feel like we're starting her adolescence on the wrong foot.  And she's FIVE.

But the other part of this, the part I have no control over whatsoever, is the inevitability of her growing into an adolescent girl.  We spent a couple of days this weekend at our community pool.  I watched with a sick fascination all of the young girls, all in bikinis, walking in small groups, giggling and pushing, laughing and chasing.  I watched them as small groups of young boys, trying to look incredibly cool, approached.  The girls flipped their hair, switched their weight from foot to foot, one hand on a hip, trying to look equally cool, and, in my mind at least, trying not to feel incredibly naked.  I suspect these children were middle school age--maybe 12 or 13?  I can remember myself at this age very clearly, and I'd have sooner died than worn a bikini and been standing around talking to male classmates as if everything was completely normal.  But, my god, middle school was a rough age for me.  I usually relive the pain when I watch young girls like these, which is a sure sign that I'm totally not over it.  Yet, I am.  Enough so that I grew up, got married and had kids, and am a competent adult who is, I suppose, a positive contributor to society.  But deep down, I think I still am that awkward, four-eyed 12 year old who had teachers for best friends and who cried at night because a boy would never like her.  (Oh man, the only thing that could make this post better, or more excruciating, would be if I had an actual photo of my 12 year old self as evidence.)  

But, I am healthy enough to know that I never have to go back there.  That pain and awkwardness has passed, and is probably long forgotten by classmates.  Hell, I survived my 10-year class reunion, and even helped to plan it, and very few people treated me funny or avoided me.  (There were a select couple of people who I felt avoided me, but it is just as likely that they were ashamed of their adolescent behavior, the way they treated people like me, and didn't want to be reminded of it.  I doubt it was because they didn't want to be stuck talking to the 7th grade dork, right?)  But when I imagine Anna going through this, I could just cry. (And Emmy, too, of course, though I worry about her less for two reasons: 1) I will have already endured it by the time Emmy gets there; worrying on her behalf is preemptive; and 2) I don't see her being much like me when she grows up; I see a confident, bubbly, athletic girl who will probably be arm wrestling the 12 year old boys instead of painting her fingernails for them.  I hope I'm right.)

As I see it, Anna could go one of two ways on this.  Maybe she will be exactly like me.  And I'll ache for her and do everything I can to make her feel pretty and special and cool, because that was what I think was so dreadfully lacking for me.  But, maybe Anna will be more like those girls at the pool this weekend.  Maybe she will be pretty, and well-liked.  Maybe she won't mind standing around in a bikini, with her child-like body fully exposed, trying to look more adult than she really is.  And maybe she'll have lots of friends, and maybe boys will give her attention.  And then god help us all.   I don't want her to be obsessed with appearances and popularity, and I'm really not sure how to coach a daughter through that. 

All I want is for her to grow up to be independent, confident, and capable. I also know that this dithering, again, is silly.  I know that in the end, she will be fine.  I am always reminding myself that this too shall pass.  She is going to change friends almost daily in these grade school years, and her attitudes and opinions will change with them, I'm sure.  The best thing I can do is to probably not get too worked up about any of it, and to just help her stay grounded and respect our most basic values.  But, my god, how the next 15 years of her life scare me.

But anyhow!  What I really wanted to write about today... since my babies are growing up, and are abandoning all of the things I cherish about their silliness and innocence, I want to make sure to remember as much of these days as possible.

"You're crackin' me out!"
It started a long time ago with Anna, who has since stopped saying it.  But it must have made an impression on Emmy, because she now says it all the time.  It's so great.  It has the feeling of both "you're freaking me out" and "you're cracking me up," but she generally uses it when we're being silly, when she's annoyed, or when we say something she has trouble believing.  If I am singing too loudly in the car and bothering her: "Mom, you're crackin' me out!"  Or "No, Emmy, really!  This year when we go to the beach, we will be able to walk to an ice cream store every day."  "You're crackin' me out, Mom!!"

"Bonkerhead sketto on the wall!"
This is the punchline to any joke.  The classic:
"Knock knock."  
"Who's there?"  
"Sketto who?"  
"BONKERHEAD SKETTO ON THE WALL!!!! Bwahahahahahahahaha..."
Or any variation of this.  Bonkerhead is both amusing and insulting.  They use it when fighting and one or the other will cry, "She called me bonkerhead, waaaaaaah..."  But usually this is just a really fun word for all-purpose laughs.  I'm really not sure where the whole expression came from.  I think Emmy invented it.  Sketto might be a variation of spaghetti, and maybe someone once told her about the throw-a-noodle-at-the-wall doneness test, and she thought spaghetti on the wall was hilarious?  

The other word with endless comedic potential: poop.  Poopyhead sketto on the wall!  Bonkerhead poop!  Poop on the wall!  I'm eating poop for dinner!  Look at my plate of poop!!  Bwahahahahahahahahaahah.... 
A classic Anna joke: 
"Why'd the chicken cross the road?"  
"Because he POOPED on the road!!!! Bwhahahahahahahah...."   
But at least that joke makes sense, sort of.  It is a reason, even if illogical.  Most of her jokes make no sense at all.  They're not even sentences.  Oh, here's Anna telling the classic banana/orange joke: 
"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Banana who?"
 "Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Banana who?"
"Knock knock."
"Who's there?"
"Orange who?"
"Why did the banana cross the road?!"
I keep trying to explain the idea of puns, and how to put together an appropriate knock-knock joke, to no avail.  I know Emmy's too little to construct a real joke, but, man, Anna.  Come on!!  

The vast majority of our time spent telling jokes is in the car on our way to school/work.  There's something else we do a lot in the car:

The animal guessing game
Anna invented this game, though we helped to fine-tune it.  Basically, you think of an animal, and then other people take turns asking yes-or-no questions until they figure out what your animal is.  It's a great game, and it's also played a lot during meals.  They haven't been bringing it up as often lately, which is too bad.  More than once Anna has gotten a game going with a bunch of grown-ups at a birthday party, and long after the kids tire of the game, the adults keep going.  We end up arguing about the accuracy of our answers (quick!  Google it: do boa constrictors have teeth?) but always learn something (they do.  Woe is me.)  But my favorite part of the game is when Anna's not sure of an answer.  If you ask whether her animal has a tail, she might scrunch up her nose, think for a few seconds, then say, "Well, I'm going to say no, but if I'm wrong, that's okay."  For the first few weeks that we played this game, Emmy only had one trick up her sleeve: shark.  Emmy would say, "Okaaaaaayyyy, I have my animal."  "Does it live in the water?"  "Yes."  "Does it have sharp teeth?"  "Yessssss."  Is it a shark? "Yesssss! Yay!"  And she was pretty good in the beginning!  We had an animal that we knew lived in the water but did not have fins, and she guessed octopus which I thought was simply brilliant.  And then she got really bad at the game.  She must have lost interest, but she stopped asking informative questions and when she was the animal-thinker, she'd just keep changing the animal as we asked questions.  She'd say it didn't have any legs early in the questioning, and then after 10 or so questions, we'd learn that the animal now had eight legs.  Oy.

Emmy faces
Emmy's make-a-funny-face face is priceless.  She cocks her head to one side, rolls her eyes up as high as they'll go and sticks her tongue our of the side of her mouth.  Then she breaks into the best laugh in the history of laughs.  She squishes her eyes completely shut, bares her front teeth and goes "chee hee hee hee hee..." like Ernie.  

That's all I can think of for now.  

*Quite possibly the most blatant sarcasm to ever be uttered.

In other news...

I forged a path to somewhere.  Not sure where it ends up, but it has to take me somewhere other than this place I've been for the past year.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The path to nowhere

My life is very different now than it was a year ago.  And yet so much is exactly the same.

The girls have grown up so much since we moved.  It is remarkable to me, and maybe it is just because they are older, or maybe it is because we have all changed , allowing them to be more confident, or mature, or maybe it is because of their new neighbor friend, a big, bold Kindergartener.  They have found independence and freedom that they, or I, never knew existed.

I have become a more pleasant person, I think.  I have reevaluated what is really important.  I have changed what I will let upset me, and I have realized the value in taking care of myself, and doing what I want to do instead of sitting around moping because no one seemed to care about what I wanted to do.

Mike has changed, over and over and over again.  He has gone up and down, from trauma to, uh, not trauma, quite a few times.  He's seen a small handful of doctors, specialists, and other health care workers, including his primary care doctor, our marriage counselor, a psychiatrist, a psychologist, a headache specialist, and a surgeon.    He is hurt that I don't feel everything is exactly as it should be.

We are still having a lot of trouble communicating.  It is better--much, much better--and yet, I don't feel that we are better.  I have been increasingly upset, feeling like I can't go on like this, even though everything is... fine.  I guess it's fine.  Except that I am waiting for the bottom to fall out.

I am upset because I feel that there are only two roads from here, and I don't even get to choose which one we take.  One road continues, more or less unchanging, and doesn't really go anywhere.  The other road ends at happiness, or fulfillment, or peace, but it has very rough terrain, and valleys so deep and rocky that I'm not sure we will survive the trip.  And yet, I want to be on my way somewhere.  I want to try to get to the end of the road, difficulties be damned.  But, here I am, continuing on the path to nowhere, powerless to change our course.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Miracle of miracles

Anna turns 5 this week.  Five.  FIVE.  And she is so beautiful.  She is such a little kindergartener, with her blunt, shoulder-length hair, her brightly colored and patterned skirts with even more brightly colored clashing leggings underneath, her glittery pencils and princess notebooks, her infectious giggles, her questions and answers, the bounce in every step.  She doesn't walk.  She flits.  She doesn't laugh.  She shrieks.

This weekend, we celebrated her birthday with Grandma and Didi, Grandma and Grandpa, and Jessie, Carl and Linnie.  By Sunday afternoon, all guests were gone, and we were finally free to relax.  I think Mike had an especially special day with Anna then.  In the afternoon, while Emmy napped, Mike and Anna watched The Goonies together.  And at bedtime, while I put Emmy to sleep, Mike and Anna watched Les Miserables in concert together.  It is just so much fun to finally share some of these big-kid things with her.

However, there is one thing that nags at me.  See, Anna is so smart.  She just is.  There is no denying it.  I never take the time to write down the amazing things she says, and figures out, and explains.  And I want to so badly.  She can perform some mathematical calculations in her head; she understands the relationships between rain, snow, clouds and thunder; she scrutinizes everything, searching for patterns and sequences.  She knows all of the letter sounds (well, consonants, at least, and some short vowel sounds), and she recognizes all letters in upper- and lowercase, even when they're in strange or dramatic fonts.

But she has no interest in reading.  None.  Maybe I'm pushing too hard, maybe I expect too much.  I try to play a variety of phonics games with her, and she can absolutely tell you what letter almost any object begins with.  (Her challenging letters/sounds include distinguishing C and K,  J and G, and  C and S.  I don't know how or when, but it was really pounded into her head that C goes ssssss, which I thought would be hard to remember, and she is now equally likely to say that silly, for example, begins with a C as she is to say S.)  But on classic beginner worksheets, there are pictures of objects and words with the initial consonant missing, like a picture of a bee, and __EE.  Or a tent, and __ENT.  I started these by saying the name of the picture really clearly, focusing on the first letter, so, "Bee.  B, b, bee." And she quickly tired of me.  She wrote a B next to it.  And then she wrote a T next to the tent, and a K next to the kite without me even reading the word aloud.  I was amazed.    So I asked her to sound some CVC words out.  (These are consonant-vowel-consonant words, like DOG and CAT, which are the classic beginner words.  The Cat in the Hat, and so on.)  But she's not very good at it.  She's not interested, and she seems to get annoyed with it quickly.  Mike bought an awesome phonics story book for her.  Its rhymes go along the lines of: "Here is a Mouse.  Take away the M, bring in an H, and now we've got a new House!,"  with pictures of a mouse and house, of course. And I read it to her letting her guess what the new word would be on each page, and she could do that, but she was just looking at the pictures.  I know this because she missed some that are super obvious rhymes.  Like, "Here is a Rat.  Move out the R, bring in a C, and now we have a big....."  "KITTEN!," she shouted.

Sigh.  I know she will get it in due time.  With no problem.  In Kindergarten, she will suck it up like a sponge, I'm sure.  But I wish she was a little more motivated.  I have been checking out beginning readers from the library, creating worksheets and games, but it's just not fun for her.  She loves writing, though, and will fill up a whole page with letters, written so neatly and carefully, but it's just nonsense.  Just random strings of letters.  I feel like she doesn't see any reward in being able to read the words by herself.  And I worry that she doesn't see the value, or entertainment, in reading.  She doesn't see Mike or I reading all that often.  I don't do a lot of reading anyhow, which bothers me, and is probably a large part of my hang-up with her.  But Mike reads a lot.  But, both of us usually only read late at night, in bed, before nodding off to sleep.  And she doesn't see that.  She sees us vegging, watching TV for relaxation.  And, not surprisingly, she loves TV.  She is obsessed with TV.  And so was I when I was young, and I suppose to a small extent I still am, though there are now few shows I find worth obsessing over.  But, that's just it.  I always loved TV, and I was never a big reader.  And I regret that a lot now.  I wish I got more from reading.  And so I want to teach her right now, from the start, that reading is valuable.  It's entertaining.  It is its own reward.

But, this is not to say that it's bad.  Or that I'm unhappy or overly worried.  She is amazing, and I couldn't possibly be more proud, or more awed by her.  But this is my blog, and therefore this is my place to dither about silly worries.  So dither I shall.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


I fixed up the blog's design today.  There must be an easier way to add a picture to your profile than a complete redesign and gadgets and whatnot, but, hey.  I manage.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011


Good Lord, my children are growing up. I must write down some recent thoughts and losses, lest I forget.

1. Lies, and other fairness
Anna has realized that we lie to Emmy just to be nice, or just to shut her up. (However, we would never do that to Anna. She's much too smart to fall for things that a baby like Emmy would fall for.) The other day, Emmy drew a picture and told me that it was a picture of a dragon. I fussed over the picture and told her what a great dragon it was. Anna gave me a look, slunk over to my side, and whispered in my ear, "Mommy, I know that it doesn't really look like a dragon and it's not a very good picture. But you're just trying not to hurt her feelings." I gave her a knowing smile and ever-so-slightly winked.

I am doing that more now. When Anna fights with Emmy over something silly, I am nudging her towards being the better person, or, well, let's just say it: towards outsmarting her. For example, at bedtime, if they both want the same book to be their own choice, I tell Emmy that it can be her book. Anna is outraged, but I make knowing eyes at her, and say pointedly, "Well, this is Emmy's choice, so we'll read it first, and Anna, you'll just have to choose something else." At first, she would still be outraged, and I had to hiss in her ear, "You will hear this story anyhow! If you choose another book, then you get two that you really want to hear!" And her eyes would pop open, her face would brighten, and she'd wink at me. "Oh, oooookaaaay Mommy, I will choose something else."

Is this rude of me? Am I teaching her something that is bad? I don't know. The fact is, this is how the world works. When you can't have your way, it is good to be able to look at it from another angle and see how it might benefit you. And it is a practical solution! Emmy is happy, as she gets her choice, and Anna is happy, as she can understand that it doesn't matter who chooses it, as long as she gets to hear it, and she has more power if she gives in to Emmy.
At any rate, slowly but surely, it is working. Anna is much more likely to give in now over little squabbles, as she realizes that she can find something even better. Not that she displays such maturity all the time. And not that I always favor Anna in the squabbles and make sure that she gets something even more desirable. In fact, I'd say the opposite. As karmic punishment for not being the bigger person, when Anna fights with Emmy for something dumb, like the BLUE SPOON! I MUST HAVE THE BLUE SPOOOOOON, NOOOOOO!, I typically say, "It's okay, Emmy, let her have the blue spoon. I will find you a great spoon. Oooh, look, here is one with a bunny on it! Wow! Aren't you lucky?!" Oh, this breaks Anna's heart. Then she desperately wants the new item, and is very generously willing to give up the blue spoon, but I refuse. "No, honey, you really really really had to have that blue spoon, so that's what you'll use." And she runs into the living room, crying, devastated, and she hides under the console table. Sometimes I go to comfort her or reason with her, and sometimes I ignore her. I want her to learn that you usually end up disappointed when you're selfish or stubborn.

And of course, these are all valuable lessons for Emmy, too, but I just think she's too little to get it. She still just wants what she wants, and I either want to let her have what she wants, or distract her from the fact that she didn't get it by offering something even better. I think for a 3-year old, that is appropriate. For an almost 5-year old, they have to understand that they can't always get what they want, and just be disappointed sometimes, right? And there's also, of course, the issue of their different personalities. Emmy gets passionately angry, but forgets about it really quickly. Anna festers a little more. She internalizes the disappointment.
At age 3, Emmy is really not cognizant of Anna's obsession with fairness. Anna is very concerned with whose piece is bigger, who spent more minutes in Mommy's lap, and who chose the last TV show. Emmy just wants a piece of "gummy gum," and she is totally oblivious of the fact that I often give Anna a slightly larger piece, which feels fair to me, since Anna is bigger, and it makes Anna feel really really really special, and though it sounds unfair to Emmy, it doesn't hurt her. She doesn't notice or care. No harm, no foul. But I feel guilty about this. In our culture, I think we are somewhat obsessed with fairness. Whether Emmy knows she got a smaller piece or not, we are taught that they must get the same. But I think that's silly. I hope I'm not wrong.

2. Cleaning ladies
The other day, I was putting on make-up while the girls were brushing their teeth. We were all squeezed into the bathroom, and they were doing their thing, and I was doing my thing, and as usual I was pretty much ignoring them. I heard Emmy say, "Uh oh," and I heard Anna say, "It's okay, Emmy. Here, watch this." Typical conversation. Whatever.
Except that when I finally looked down, they were on their hands and knees, giggling, and licking toothpaste off the bathmat. THAT was your fabulous solution to dropped toothpaste, Anna?! EW. Just, EW.

3. Verbage
Emmy almost never calls Anna her Anna any more. For a long time, that was the only way Emmy seemed to know to refer to her. "I give my Anna one," "I see my Anna in gym at school!" Emmy is also getting better at pronouncing Ls. Woe. I love love love when she says she yuvs something. "I yuv gummy gum!" "I yuv coffee!" "I yuv my Anna!" Oh, and her angry outbursts. "I no yike yew!" Her little lips purse, her eyebrows furrow, and my heart melts.

4. Friendships
This morning in the car, Emmy told Anna, "You no my best fend anymowr." Anna wasn't too bothered by this. Emmy said, "Mommy my best fend." Win.

5. Tiny dancers
The girls are in "ballet" class this spring. They were too young for actual ballet, but they are in the same creative movement class, to which they wear leotards and ballet slippers, so I feel it's good enough. Anna feels a bit let down, though, which makes me sad, but that was all they had for 3- and 4-year olds. She asks each week when they will actually start doing ballet, like twirling. But I know this is the best place for her to start--unfortunately for her, she inherited my coordination. But, also, she is by far the oldest in the class and that makes me sad, too. She is nearly a head taller than all the other little girls. But, she still flits about happily during class and gallops and tiptoes across the floor with the herd of pink-clad ballerinas.

And Emmy. Oh, how she flits. Parents don't actually go into the room, but you can peek in through the door, and it is so immensely fun to watch her. She dances with such passion. Her hips and shoulders sway to the beat no matter what they are doing. She prances from foot to foot. She does the Hokey Pokey with style.

That's all I've got for now. Oh, on a more personal note, things are looking up. Oh, AND, Mike and I went out on a date last night. A real date, with a babysitter left at home to put the kids to bed (fail, hahahahaha, but whatever), and dinner at a grown-up restaurant, and then we went shopping to return some Christmas stuff and get a few things we've really been wanting. It was really spirit-lifting for me. We are slowly but surely growing closer every day. Sometimes it's a bit of two-steps-forward-one-step-back, but it is progress. For me, it is a necessary part of healing, and I am willing to endure the hard parts to grow.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I've been thinking about our "long-term timeline" lately. The timeline is, literally, a timeline I created in Excel. It shows when major things in our life occur, like when the kids start school, when I have clinical rotations, and so on. Observe:

(Click image to enlarge)

It makes me crazy to look at. I mean, it's not that bad. It's what everyone does. When you have kids, they start school at some point, and you move at some points, and you change jobs at some points.

But it's intimidating to me. Particularly this year, because I am forced to change jobs, which forces us to change daycares. And since Anna will only be in half-day K, I will need half-day care for her, and full-day care for Emmy. And I don't know if I can find a place that will work for both kids. And I don't know that I can find a place. Period. I have to start visiting places, getting on waiting lists, and figuring out just what in the hell I'm doing. I don't know if I need care for 3 days/week, or 5 days/week, or, maybe, if I don't need care at all! What if I work evenings only once I leave Pitt? However, Emmy will just be turning 4. That would be the worst time to remove her from group care! It's finally time for preschool. So I'd feel awful to start keeping her at home full-time. Plus, I'm not sure I'd like it at all. In fact, I am almost guaranteed not to like it. But, I'll keep an open mind. Maybe it would be different being at home with an independent pre-schooler.

But I don't know what kind of job I'll get. I'd planned to find a pharmacy intern position. I'd like to. But, now, I am realizing that those positions may be quite hard to come by. I may need to wait for the perfect opportunity to fall into my lap. Most pharmacy programs hold graduation in May. But the students then have to take the Boards, and presumably they keep their intern positions until they pass Boards and are licensed. So I don't know when intern jobs tend to open up. Maybe in September! Maybe that's the perfect time. But, there is a chance that I won't find anything right away. I'll have my first school-placed practicum in November-December of this year, and if I don't have anything by then, I'm just hoping I can charm the socks off 'em, and get offered an intern position. Until then.... ?? Waitressing? I do miss it. Or maybe I'd be wiser to take a retail position in a pharmacy or grocery store, with the intention of sliding into the first pharmacy position that opens up. Our landlord's husband, when we met to sign the lease, blathered on about his great buddy who owns a small pharmacy, and how if I ever need a position or favor, to give him a call and he'd hook me up. I think the pharmacy was in a remote location, which would be hard, but also, is that all talk? Don't people always say crap like this, with no intention behind it? But, if I was desperate, would it be worth the phone call? The groveling? Many people believe that you have to know people to get anywhere in this world. That you have to have an in. And I hate to be that skeptical or pessimistic. But maybe it's true. And maybe it's not so awful. Maybe that's why people work hard and network and try to make friends... so that you have connections. You have those ins when you need them. I feel like I'm going to need some miracle, some in, at least, to find a school/daycare for the kids. And I know I'm going to need work to be able to pay for such a school. Everything has a way of working out, I know. And it will be okay. But my head is spinning.

Oh, and you see those stars on the timeline? The red stars, and the yellow stars? They are our best opportunity to squeeze in just one more little thing before we get too old, and miss the boat. They are 9 months apart.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Biology fail

Anna is quite the budding scientist. Due in no small part to science shows on PBS, she makes hypotheses, observations and conclusions about things all the time. For a 4 1/2 year old, she is so thoughtful, insightful and clever. Which makes this morning's conversation all the more dumbfounding.

On this Monday after Thanksgiving, for the first time ever, Mike took the day off work and went hunting. He left very early in the morning, hours before sunrise. He had told the girls while putting them to bed last night that he would be hunting today, and he deliberately told me that they understood hunting as going out "looking for deer." He did not address what he would do if and when he "found" one. He wasn't sure how to talk about it, and I'm glad. I wouldn't know how to talk about it, either. So I knew to just play along, that Daddy was out looking for deer.

I think it is worth mentioning that Mike and I neglected to consider other evidence Anna has been gathering in that little brain of hers. She has seen plenty of mounted deer heads. And just yesterday, we stopped by Cabela's for hunting gloves, and of course she saw more heads and stuffed animals than one can imagine. I talked with her about the animals we were seeing, explaining that they are real animals, who used to be alive, but are now dead, but they are real and that's really how big they are, and so on. She (thankfully) did not ask how they died. Or maybe she did and I just shrugged it off. "I don't know!," I cheerfully chirp when I don't know how to answer something, or I just don't want her to know the answer. Also of note, in the parking lot of Cabela's, there was a huge table like you'd see at a Farmer's Market, except instead of having boxes of homegrown tomatoes and beets, they had boxes of antlers. Big antlers, little antlers, HUGE antlers. I commented to Mike as soon as I saw it, "That's lame! Who would buy antlers that someone else got?! Are they just trying to make themselves feel good?" And he explained that they're not for display or to make others think you got them--they are for attracting other male deer. You bang them together out in the woods, and when a buck hears other males fighting, he comes by to get in on the action. Ugh. The girls seemed interested in the boxes and boxes of antlers, but not disgusted by them, like I was. We just walked past, giving them little thought or attention.

It is also worth noting that Anna apparently understands that male deer, or Daddies, have antlers and female deer, or Mommies, don't.

So this morning, as both girls climbed into my bed and snuggled up against me, Emmy asked, "Where Daddy?!" So I simply answered, "Remember, Daddy went hunting. He left very early this morning." And the conversation quickly got uncomfortable.

Anna: Yeah, Emmy, hunting means that Daddy is out looking for deer.

Me: That's right.

Anna: I've been wondering how he's going to get the antlers off when he finds one.

Me: ...

Anna: Yeah, I've been wondering how he's going to get the antlers off the Daddies and make more Mommy deer.

Notice that she is not asking me directly, but hoping that I am going to offer an explanation. She wouldn't make eye contact, and I think she sensed that she didn't want to know the answer, but hoped I would volunteer something comforting.

Me: ...

Notice that I do not take the opportunity to explain that Daddy deer cannot just become Mommy deer by losing their antlers. Because I have no better explanation of why her father is out trying to score some antlers. This fundamentally flawed biological concept is good enough for me!

Anna: I've really been wondering about that...

Me: (chipper) I don't know! You'll have to ask Daddy when he comes home!