Tuesday, October 28, 2014

that time i nearly changed everything, and then did

it was 2008. my kids were 1 and 3. it was the year when i first decided i couldn't do it anymore. of course there have been many times since, and i've carried on just like i did that first time. that first time i wondered if this working full time with two young kids would kill me. or ruin me. or them. or all of us.

of course it hasn't, and we are fine. but every so often all those balls i am juggling drop to the ground and  i fall down to pick them up and put my hands up and say 'i surrender!' 'this is too hard!', and 'save me!'

that first time in 2008, i threw my hands up with a craigslist post and said, 'i'm prepared to quit my good full time job' 'i want to be home with my babies' and 'they are growing up before other peoples eyes' and 'i will have that no more'. i posted my ad and decided to be a nanny. to care for my kids and someone else's and in the back of my mind i knew it wouldn't work. that it wouldn't quite pay the bills. that it wouldn't really fix anything. that it wouldn't give me what I really wanted, which was to just be a mom.

but i did it anyway. and i met with some amazing full time working moms with hope and wonder in their eyes if i was the answer to their prayers. the one that would help them manage their full time job and their full time kids. 'help me' their faces said.

and i met this one mom at a coffee shop. and we talked and we chatted and discussed our kids and i looked at her and saw myself. i saw someone doing it just like me. the full time job thing and the kid thing and what happened is she didn't say 'yes, you! you are my new nanny'. maybe she didn't see my frazzled self capable of it. maybe she saw herself in me too. and knew that i wasn't about to quit my job. that i couldn't quit my job. she saw someone on their hands and knees saying 'i surrender!' and 'this is too hard!', and 'help me'.

and what happened that day was not a business agreement. it was the beginning of a friendship that since has been a lifeline to me.

her and i live this parallel life and really can't help each other in the way some friends do. we communicate mostly by email and text and chat. we don't ask each other to watch our kids because well, we know how hard it is to manage just our own. and of late we don't even invite each other's kids to our kids birthday parties because we know adding a 'gift purchase' to the to do list could be the final straw that sends us to our knees again. no, we don't see each other much or do 'girl time' much because we both know how precious our family time is and how precious our husband time is, and how it's sometimes pressure just to keep all the women in our life happy too. so we see each other once or twice a year and oftentimes it's in the parking lot at soccer practice because one of us has found an amazing BOGO deal at target on a pair of boots and to save the other time, ordered and shipped them.

this is a person i can tell ANYTHING too. a person that doesn't respond to anything with something worse to one up me, or something better to make sure i have perspective. this is a person that can simply say 'i'm sorry, that sucks' and i know she means it. she doesn't pity me, or overwhelm me with advice on how to fix it. she just says 'i know'...and she does.

she's someone that knows conferences, field trips, class parties, sick days, and no school days aren't just inconvenient but damn near impossible to navigate. that sometimes the logistics of our life just fail. that clean laundry and milk in the fridge should be celebrated. that volunteering in the classroom, deserves a blue ribbon. that the one time a year you get to ride the bus with  60 3rd graders to see a play might damn well be the best day of your year. that the rat race between 6am and 9pm can leave you spinning. that always being late and missing that thing you needed when you finally show just sometimes makes you wonder if you need a padded room.

she knows exactly when i need to be told to snap out of it and tells me to take my vitamin D 'it sounds like the winter is getting to you carrie, vitamin up!' she knows when i just need to vent, or be told i'm not alone. she knows when i just need to laugh. and when i just need her to tell me her amex bill is higher than mine. we compare mortgage balances, we work out financial decisions on paper together. we are honest with each other and know when to say 'YES DO IT' or 'NO DON'T'. we help each other find daycare, and bounce birthday party ideas and invitations and christmas cards off each other. 'does this look good?', 'NO, bad color...change it'. we share where to get cheap pants for our always growing girls. we say what we think, which is usually what the other needs to hear, and it's honest and helpful at the same time. we have been on 189 diets together, all of which have failed but we keep cheering for the other. and when the other says, 'let's try this' the other says 'let's'.

she knows what to say when my kids get sick and i have to juggle work in the midst. she reminds me what's important, and what's even more important than that.

she also knows that despite it all, i am so thankful and feel so blessed in this crazy life. she knows that i wouldn't change a thing, or trade my problems for anyone elses. that they are mine, ALL MINE and i'm not asking for a different life or a better life or an easier life.

she just knows that sometimes, there is just NOT. ENOUGH OF YOU. TO GO AROUND. and when to say 'you are enough', 'you are doing it' and 'you are doing a good job'.

sometimes i think those simple words are all that's gotten me thru the last 6 years.

i wanted to write this because, in 20 years i never want to forget the impact she has had on my life. we may not need each other in the same way we do now. but i could not have done this without her. i hope that in return, i've given her even half the support to keep going that she's given me. i think we both think that the strange way we met via a craigslist ad just had to be. that we had to find each other in this crazy life, join hands and walk this tightrope together. because otherwise, we'd have fallen by now.

Friday, October 24, 2014

steak a la lice carcass

alex got lice again. okay, so it's been more than once. three times maybe? i can't keep track. it's survival. you get really good at blocking out the memory of pulling bugs from your kids hair. blocking out how keen your vision is when you find nits the size of a needlepoint. erasing the experience of back breaking pain while hovering over your child and combing the one trillion foot long strands of your kids hair for HOURS.

it happened again. roughly a week before our vacation. i saw her from across the room scratch her scalp. it's a reaction i get now when either of my kids touches their head. a cold sweat, a panic, my heart skips a beat. in the course of a minute you go from panic, to fear, to anger, to OMG, to WHY ME?, to I AM MOTHER HEAR ME ROAR I'VE DONE THIS BEFORE I'LL DO IT AGAIN, to you better check your self little lice assholes, because i'm coming for you.

i can almost hear the music in the background as i pump myself up for the big fight. like rocky. this is happening. this is life. this is LICE people.

so i go to the cupboard where all the lice supplies are. because i now have a cupboard for this. it's a whole shelf dedicated to RID, and combs, and you know...other bug removal paraphernalia. it's right above the shelf with everything random we've ever owned and never used and right next to my highschool memory box. so you know IMPORTANT STUFF.

and i gasp when i find we are out of the 'says it kills lice' shampoo but i kind of think my kids are immune to it now bottles.


so a call to sean to pick up more at a crazy $20 a bottle and alex needs practically 3 of them. has anyone ever actually gone bankrupt dealing with lice? i'm practically sure it's happened. why is there all this controversy over health companies covering birth control when what we really should be talking about is lice shampoo and tax rebates, and food stamps but for lice. LICE STAMPS.

so sean comes home with the shampoo and we wash and we comb and we comb 40 times more and i think i've got it all. i've got my system down. i have the comb, and the paper towel to swipe the bugs on, and the bowl of water to dip the comb in and i'm combing and swiping and dipping. sean is helping from afar by handling dinner and lunches and homework. we are a team when it comes to lice. TEAM LICE. i get the bugs, he does everything else. and by everything else, i mean being my personal slave boy so i'm all, 'sean, take this comb and this brush and put it in water to soak' because in case you don't know LICE 101, lice don't drown for like 4 hours and at this point i feel super confident because i totally know what i'm doing. we got this.

so i take the bowl into the kitchen, and i throw away the towels and i scratch my head because when you're dealing with lice your head itches like all the time and then i pop alex upstairs to the shower and my dear husband is heating up leftovers and it's only 7:45 we are so on top of this night. only 15 minutes til bedtime and all we need to do is eat dinner, have alex do her homework practice her violin, and do 30 minutes of reading. i mean, STOKE right?

so we rush the shower, and race downstairs and we've got hot steak and risotto leftover from last night. I mean, YUM!

this lice day is actually feeling pretty awesome.

so the kids started eating and i'm heaping my plate when i see it.

i see the lice bowl that was used to dip the lice comb in, and that lice bowl that was just housing several dozen dead lice bodies and nits is sitting on the counter half covered in saran wrap filled with last nights steak.

i gag, like FOR REAL GAG. and scream at the kids to spit out their steak and i'm all 'SEAN, where did you get this bowl' and he's all 'it was on the counter' and i'm all, 'did you wash it???' he's all ' it looked clean to me' and i'm panicking 'this is the bowl i used to wash the lice in' and then OMG expletive expletive, dinner is ruined, our life sucks, things were so awesome a minute ago but right now i want to die because we just fed our kids steak a la lice carcasses and then i see it. i see my brushes and combs bobbing in a pot full of last nights pasta water.

what do you do when it comes for you?

for weeks, i've been pumping my family full of vitamins. like clockwork they all open their mouths twice a day and semi willingly accept the gummies. vitamin D, C, Echinacea, Zinc, and my new obsession ElderBerry Syrup. the kids love it, because they taste good. sean, is probably drawing up divorce papers as i type because i'm quite sure..if he could change one thing about me it might be my mild case of hypochondrism and i say mild but really mean annoyingly extreme.

we made it thru our vacation which was my biggest worry. we were all healthy as horses on our week long super amazing and fun trip to disneyworld, epcot and universal studios. someday soon, i'll post about it because it deserves more than an 'i'm sick and bored' post. miraculously, it's also not close week at work which is typically when i get sick because you know...why ever make it easy?

so here i am, despite all efforts. SICK.

what does one do when they've fallen ill? i mean, after they've sufficiently felt sorry for themselves and whined, and gone over ALL the things they should be doing instead of laying on their couch that is surrounded by laundry and kids homwork? where your work computer, tucked halfway under the couch  is burning red daggers into your pounding head? you attempt to lift your body and be productive, that's what you do. and you fall back down because your body feels like it's been fed thru a meat grinder and you wince and roll over and you reflect.

you reflect on the last couple of weeks that feel like a blur but also a marathon and you wonder exactly when you have laid down like this during the day. or ever really. because these days, you think you might actually fall asleep before hitting the pillow and laying down is just something that you assume happens between that zombie walk to bed and the beep of the alarm clock.

it's no wonder you fall ill. sometimes i think it's just something that happens to make you stop. to make you sleep. to make you take care of yourself for once.

so for two days i reflected. i also watched a lot of tv. i also realized how really truly annoying my dog was when i found my aching body struggling to make room for him on the couch and worried as i tossed and turned i would interrupt his precious sleep. i also realized as i tried to nap (which i'm terrible at) that my dog will pace and whine each and every time a passerby walks by our house. and also when the mailman comes. and also when the garbage man comes. and also when it rains. or there is wind. or just because it's thursday at 10am.

i also realized how truly dependent i am on routine. and that i'm actually uncomfortable with the act of not doing 20 things at once. there is very little time in my life un-planned. or where there is just one task at hand. where I don't know exactly where I will be and what i will be doing and when. it's mostly the same every day. the time i get up, when i leave the house, the commute, the work, the commute home, the evening routine with kids. i could do it with my eyes closed. i probably mostly do. a zombie would do well with this routine. same thing, over and over. stumbling, arms out-stretched, trying not to drop a ball...and surviving.

so there was something refreshing about falling ill. it's like, what ever will i be doing at 2:17 this afternoon. NOBODY KNOWS. i could be laying here on the couch on my left side, or maybe my right! i could be standing in front of the fridge with no real appetite but knowing i should eat something. i could be fumbling thru magazines, or sleeping! SLEEP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY! it's amazing what a little ambiguity will do for the soul.

what i found myself doing after i'd watched a season and a half of 'meet the midwife', two average movies on amazon prime, and ellen, while intermittently taking 17 cat naps was blogging. so stay tuned, because unfortunately i'm feeling better and have to go back to work but i wrote two halfway blogs. maybe i'll get a massive cold/sinus infection soon and i can finish.

we can hope.