Thursday, September 26, 2013

the game of life

ever since my kids turned 5, i'm consciously aware that they will remember a lot about their lives from here on out. they will remember this piece of their childhood. they will look back one day and associate the kind of person they are and attribute it to what kind of life they had. what their parents were like. how sean and i 'did' as parents. and maybe they will blame us for who they are or who they aren't.

it's a lot of pressure.

and now, in this day and age we have all this technology and visibility into our lives and our friends lives via facebook and twitter and pinterest. we can actually get a glimpse into how other families operate. how other moms throw birthday parties, how other dads coach sports, how other kids dress for school and how they are doing in school. we can see which mom's volunteer in class, which work, which stay at home, which homeschool, who has nannies, and who makes custom signs for their kids to hold in 'first day of school pictures' indicating which grade they are going into.

we look at all these pictures and posts and pinterest pins and we feel like we aren't doing it all. and we can't possibly ever do it all. and i have a suspicion that nobody is really doing it all and please raise your hand if you're actually doing it all. or maybe you don't have time, with all that doing everything. but come on, pinterest is a dreamland amiright? it's where you hold your dream kitchens, your dream yards, dream dinners and dream birthday parties. it's your dream closet right there on the screen. and we see only these glimpses and we judge ourselves against them and feel failure. last week someone pinned a pair of 'frye' boots that i've been drooling over for years. and i thought to myself, 'so and so got those boots! GRRRRR! I want those boots!' but 'so and so' probably didn't get those boots. me thinks they are in her virtual dream closet just like mine.

when i look back on my childhood, albeit i was a child and oblivious to anything that didn't revolve around 'planet carrie' i don't remember my mom feeling this pressure. i don't remember her making me pose to take 15 photos to get that perfect shot she'd post online where all three of us girls were wearing coordinated outfits and smiling and looking at the camera ALL AT THE SAME TIME because she probably knew that that was effort ill spent. i don't remember her caring or feeling pressure  that we were in 3 sports while juggling dance and karate. i don't remember her obsessing over what we ate and if it was all organic, and vegan and gluten free and sugar free and void of anything that was, or ever could be harmful 40 years down the road.

and i don't remember my mom telling me 'just a minute' 15 times and hearing her tell me to HURRY UP all day long. i don't remember life being so rushed and busy and chaotic. but, again. 'planet carrie' is probably a lot different from 'planet earth'.

 i've been pondering these things as of late and i want my kids to have the same memories i do as a kid. i want them to remember playing outside in the dirt for hours, not being in the car THEIR WHOLE LIFE or being entertained to death and rewarded at over priced pizza places with lame rides for being what should just naturally be expected of them. i want them to remember playing board games with their mom & dad, not mastering candy crush. i want them to remember camping trips, and beach trips, and have those be some of their fondest memories. i want them to have imaginations and creativity and not an over abundance of structured extra curricular activities. i want them to remember their first day of school, not the annoying photo op and argument over what they were wearing that came before. i want them to remember that they were loved, and validated, and nurtured. not obsessed over. i want them to remember a mom that appeared to have enjoyed being a mother as much as they remember loving to be a kid.

the other day, sean and i were texting each other from the same couch. it's ridiculous. but so was the movie we were watching with the kids on family movie night. so we were complaining to each other about how horrible the movie was. so the next night we did family game night instead. and we played 'life'. you know, the game where you have a job and a salary and you buy a house and get married, and have little kids you get to put in your car? i love that game. mostly because i drew a career more awesome than mine and a salary WAY more awesome than mine and it's fun to pretend and live in dreamland for a second.

and it was so fun!

it was so fun to engage with the kids without electronics, and talk to them about jobs and the importance of a salary. we had a real life talk about how the mortgage get's paid, and why mommy and daddy go to work. and we talked about who wanted to get married and who didn't. we talked about how it's okay if ian wants to marry a boy and have only boy kids because he only likes boys and doesn't want girls in his car. we talked about how it's just fine to be a policeman, an artist, a teacher, or a doctor. and i only lost my temper once when ian kept cheating and spinning the dial every time he landed on 1. and we counted money and realized what a math whiz ian is. and we talked about loans and student loans the choice between college and just heading out into the workforce. and i walked away feeling great. and that we for real parented in a fun and educational way and then i posted a picture of family game night on facebook.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

S & S

fall in our house means two things: school & soccer. we live and breath it. it's what our life revolves around M-F. sean and i speak only of these things. who's taking the kids to school, did you pack his lunch? where are alex's cleats, ian has one more page of homework, when are those forms due? when is the game the weekend, can you be there for practice thursday, or is it me? that's it. 



so i figure i should keep to the important stuff too.

school: here is the picture of the kids on their first day of 1st & 3rd grade. i almost can't believe sometimes how much i love these two humans. life can be hectic with kids, and it's these two smiles that make it all worth it. they really are happy, loving kids who despite the arguments and bickering they have they love each other and look out for each other always.

soccer: and here we have them after their first soccer games. ian, is proudly (and in true ian form) holding up 4 fingers. one for each of the goals he scored. alex, more demure per usual realizes it's not about winning but about having fun. but let's for the record say, she did score the first goal in her game. 

ian had to get his bragging from someone. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

blood sweat & tears: Alex's room part 1

blood, sweat & tears. all of these happened as they typically do during home remodeling. i've cut myself a handful of times on various paint lid openers, or stabbed myself with a screwdriver in the foot a time or two. and there is always sweat. working on a house is hard. and i tend to work at a feverish pace in fear that my time will be abruptly cut short due to the kids needing something, or needing to be somewhere. the good news is, this success story didn't include tears. at least not mine. my body still hasn't been able to replenish it's tear reserves since the infamous closet door debacle at the last house.

this is the story of alex's room makeover. which is funny because she doesn't even sleep in her room right now. she prefers the floor of ian's room, or our room, or this room. mostly this room because i bought a new duvet cover at IKEA and she thinks it's SO SOFT. (it's not)

it's a good thing this project of a house came with ample space and an extra bedroom so the princess could have her pick. 

ever since we moved in she's been terrified. I repeat, TERRIFIED of the 2nd door in her room that goes into the bonus room. and this is where the tears come in.  two doors is super creepy, i can see that. even AFTER i installed a new doorknob with a lock this room continues to be where she 'keeps her stuff'. which is okay for now. ask me in a few years how i feel about waking up to find her 10 year old body sleeping on my bedroom floor. now that's creepy.

so here we go.  part 1. part 2 will be years from now surely when we have the floors replaced and put decent moldings up. but don't hold your breath, i'm not. we didn't get the moldings up on our last house until there was a for sale sign in the yard. THE BEFORE.

aaaaannnndddd the after.

See the creepy door? SO creepy.

her room didn't require much. i had all her furniture at the last house. all items i pulled out of 2nd hand or antique stores. just a little paint on the ceiling, walls, and the trim which I HATE PAINTING and will be doing throughout this house.

up next: living & dining room. it's almost done. ALMOST. on hold due to cut finger...

for anyone who cares about this sort of thing. walls are SW sea salt, and trim is alabaster. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

thought i'd stop by and visit hell for a few's not worth the hype. (also don't read if you are judgemental or are offended by swearing because there is some)

i finally feel like i can write about it. last week i was in a bad place. in a deep dark, hate the world, woe is me, feeling sorry for myself bad place. this week i'm in a good place. an 'i got this' place. an 'i can do it, because i did it a million times before' place. so i can write about it now, and laugh at myself. last week there was no laughing. not any.

see, last week straight donkey punched me in the face. i'm not gonna lie.

after a wonderful 10 day vacation out east to see sean's family, and an awesome labor day camping weekend here with my family, 'real life' came crashing back upon us with a vengeance. maybe it was just a good old fashioned swift kick to the gut reality check. but it was hard. so hard.

on monday, the last sad day of labor day weekend, we drove home from camping dirty and smelly and packed to the gills with things that needed washing. we came to the realization that we had no daycare for the kids on tuesday. portland public schools started on wednesday. we'd known this for awhile, but i think we pushed it out of our minds and frankly i get SO tired of dealing with childcare and the logistics of our life that i ignored it. i ignored it until there was no time left. and then...


it was as if a semi truck came and settled itself on my shoulders. it was my month end close at work last week. and a quarter end! it's a week i cannot take time off under no circumstances and the days are long. LONG. and parents know, that getting our kids back to school is hard in itself. the school supplies, the backpacks, the having enough food in the house to put together a solid healthy lunch. the 'what bus are they riding and when?' and 'where will they go after school?' and oh hello folks! It's a new school for the kolmer family this year with new teachers, and new classrooms, and hopefully new friends! did i mention we have soccer practice on mondays? and tuesdays? and wednesdays? AND thursdays? no problem, right?

so what does this mom do? she freaks out.

what choice did i have but to work from home on tuesday the single busiest day of my work month. sean had done it 3 days himself the week before. it was so my turn. so i resorted to the fact we had no other options and silently talked to myself 'i can do it, right? oh, totally. i got this.

i didn't.

in the end, it was a 15 hour day with 30 minutes of work here, a 5 minute 'get a snack for the kids' break, followed by a 'plug in ANOTHER movie' for the kids break, followed by an hour of work and so on and so forth. let's not forget the breaking up of nearly 100 arguments over things as important as lint on the carpet and who got the bigger spoon and who is sitting too close to who on the couch and OMG kids fight over the stupidest stuff. i may or may not have said, 'get a real problem' a handful of times.  and let's also not forget the trip to target, fred meyer's and office depot for pre-sharpened tichonderoga #2 pencils, a ream of paper, and zip lock bags. all items i forgot on on my original school supply run. and by run, i mean shopping extravaganza on amazon. delivered right to my door thanks to amazon prime.

anyway, it was long and hard and in the end i felt like a crappy employee and an absolutely crazy and frazzled mom who remembers snapping at the kids for flushing the toilet while I was on a phone call amongst MANY OTHER things that did not call for the wrath i put forth on them. please if anyone is reading, don't call the CSD. and if you work from home with kids on a regular basis, my hat's off to you. you know what? make it my shirt and my pants and my hat and my shoes. because i'd rather be naked in public then do that on a normal basis.

the fact is, the day pushed me further than i've been pushed in a long while. the amount of work i physically have to produce on this day of the month is staggering. when i'm AT work AT my desk withOUT getting up to pee or get a drink or lift my head to acknowledge the presence of another human it takes me 10-12 hours. so imagine, how productive i actually wasn't...considering.

wednesday came soon enough. literally 6 hours after i shut down my computer it was time to get up and get going again. it was the first day of school! i decided to hell with the 2nd busiest day of work, i'm taking my kids to their first day and will be in late. so sean and i together walked them in, took them to their classrooms and watched their eyes get bigger and glassier the closer to 8 it became. and when it was finally time to say goodbye alex said 'don't go mom' and her eyes welled up and i said (I ACTUALLY SAID) 'don't do this alex', because i had yet to go to ian's room and check on him. and her eyes welled up more. i told her she'd be fine which was bullshit because i wasn't fine. i couldn't wait to get out of this room and this school and cry all the way to work. i rubbed her arm, told her i couldn't wait to hear all about her day later that night (not knowing if i'd even be home to find out) and i left her there.

and i went to ian's classroom where he was seated in the back of the class. SHIT! did i not tell the teacher he's deaf in one ear? do i say that now? 'hi, i'm carrie. ian's a new student can you please hold his hand all day and of the 30 kids in your class make sure he's emotionally coddled today? can you also position him closer to the front and on the left side of the room so he can hear?' do i say that? or do i leave with my face in my hands? and then he jumped from his chair and hung on my leg and cried silently not wanting the others to see and that's when my floodgates opened and i cursed the world. why couldn't i stick around just a bit longer like all the other parents standing around? why couldn't i be there RIGHT at 2:15 to pick them up and spend the afternoon with them. why couldn't I be one of the sahm mom's who could greet their kids off the bus in the afternoon. why couldn't i be one of the working mom's who took the day off to greet their kids off the bus in the afternoon and take them for rootbeers after to celebrate their day? WHY WHY WHY did i have to be this kind of mom that has to jet out after just telling your kid to 'hurry up and pull yourself together'? and then i did it again. yup. 'ian, don't do this. you're gonna have a great day'. and i looked to the boy (ethan) sitting next to ian and said 'you're gonna have a great day, right?' and he just looked at me like i was a crazy person.

and maybe i was.

i proceeded to drive to work, my eyelids blinking faster thru my tears than the windshield wipers ran to swipe the rain. feelings of self loathing and regret overwhelmed me. nobody will ever know how terrible i felt that day. how low, how angry, while at the same time working as fast as my brain and fingers would allow so i could hopefully just please god hopefully get me home by bedtime. i spoke to nobody. i responded to zero emails or texts. i hardly responded to people that would walk by and say, 'how are the kids getting on in their first week of school?'

because if i did, i broke my concentration and the floodgates that were hovering behind my eyelids all day long.

and at 6:30, i shut down my computer and raced home fully prepared to deal with two emotional wrecks (3 counting me) but what i came home to was two over the moon ecstatic kids who had 'the best day of school ever' and 'met new friends' and 'loved their new school'.

praise god. i almost fell down with relief.

the next two days although hard, felt like a breeze. i think because the emotional stress and worry of the kids sitting at a lunch table, alone, and standing around the playground with nobody to play with had lifted. it's a real eye opener when you clearly distinguish the difference between physical and emotional stress. i feel physical stress a lot. needing to be in two places at once, not feeling 'enough' in all these places in your life. wondering if i'm a good mom even though i work, wondering if i'm a good employee even though i have kids, wondering if i'm even a shell of the wife i used to be before life got bigger. the feeling of just not having enough to go around consumes me. never mind ever having the time or energy to give anything to yourself.  add to that emotional duress, and it can take you down to your knees. i've been to this place before. where a loved one is ill. where a loved one is sick. where you are overcome with worry about a friend or family member as i was for my two kids. i know that pain. this week was not THAT pain. but it was pain regardless.

i haven't lost sight that things could have been worse. that nobody was sick. that nobody was in physical danger. i'm aware as over the course of the week i had people say i needed to 'keep perspective' and 'it could be worse' and another told me their current struggles in order to make me remember i wasn't alone. one friend said, 'at least your new house wasn't a former meth house' and thank god for that. as that is a true and real tragedy happening to someone we know. and i would remember these things, and talk to myself and recount my blessings and i have many. one, being a friend that knowing what i was going thru as so was she said, 'you are an amazing mom to care this much and worry so hard' knowing that was the only thing i actually needed to hear. sometimes all the little things piled high feel like way too much. i wouldn't trade all my little things for any others or one big one. they are mine, all mine and it's why they are so personal to me. i take my work, my kids, my family and my friends very serious. it's my everything. and by nature, i want to be caring for all of them well. it's who i am.

it's been exactly one week and it's almost funny to me how differently you can feel one week to the next. i was low last week. low low low. and this week, i feel good. i can now look back and although i didn't do it in all the best ways, and I didn't appear like superwoman flying around with a magical cape making it all happen...i did actually make it all happen. i got my work done. i saw the kids thru their first week of school, with smiles on their faces at the end of each day. they both got to their practices ON TIME, with everything they needed (all with sean's help of course) and we survived. we all survived.

and at the end of the day, that is something to be damn proud of.