Archive for the 'Introspection' Category

Apr 21 2013

Goodbye house.

I get really attached to material things and places. There are several houses I’ve lived in that I probably would buy and live in again, except then I’d have to leave my own home, where we’ve been making a lot of memories. It’s one of those can’t win situations – if I go back to one of my other homes, then this home becomes one of those places that I miss and long to re-posses.

Today, we said good-bye to Grandma’s house. It will go to a new family on Wednesday. We stopped over to look it over one last time. The rooms were all empty. The garage still had Grandma’s car in it, but Grandpa’s work bench was stripped and bare. I wandered through the rooms, and went upstairs to the two rooms that had, at different times, been my bedrooms. I touched the walls and whispered good-bye to the house.  I asked it not to forget me and to be good to the people who were coming next.

It was not the way I wanted to spend my 35th birthday, closing that chapter of my life, but we don’t get to choose our times and seasons.

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Sep 19 2011

Your anxiety is funny to your mom, and could be the internet’s fault.

This Sunday, The Man and I followed our usual routine. We went to church, and then afterwards we did our family visits, starting with my Grandma. My Mom happened to also be visiting Grandma that day, which was a great treat and also pretty convenient since I’d brought the ultrasound pics (which apparently I’d forgotten to show to anyone, whoops). I was also glad to see my mother, because I sort of wanted to sound her out on the anxiety I’ve been feeling lately. So, sometime before we ate lunch, when she asked me how I was feeling, I told her: “I feel fine, physically, but I guess I’ve been pretty anxious lately.” She asked me what I was so anxious about, and I said something along the lines of, “I’m anxious about having a baby. You know, how my life is going to change.” She gave me a bewildered look and asked why I’d be anxious about that. “Because…my life has been a certain way for like, ten years. And now it’s going to all be different.”

And that’s when my mother and my grandmother, my role models, my loving supporters, LAUGHED AT ME.

Grandma said, “Well, it IS going to all be different.” Mom chimed in with, “Your life will only be as different as you allow it to be. You can take babies anywhere. You can do almost anything you do now with a baby. You and The Man are lucky. You’re older. You don’t go out and party. You won’t have that issue where you’re 19 years old and all of your friends are heading out to the bar on Friday night, and you’re at home with a baby, wanting to go party.” She continued, “Besides that, if you ever get to a point where you just have to get away from the baby for awhile, you have a lot of people who will give you a night off. You can leave him with me.” (Just as a little background, my mother had my sister when she was 19, and at that time, the US drinking age was 18 instead of 21 as it is now. She was also living in California with my dad, and their entire family lived in Michigan.)

I stopped talking about it at that point, because I was starting to get a serious case of teenage-level, “no one understands me” resentment. As we were heading out to our next stop (The Man’s parents’), Mom hugged me and said “Stop worrying. Everything is going to be fine.”

We headed on to The Man’s parents’ house, where I ended up spending some alone time with one of my sisters-in-law, who has four kids of her own. While we were talking, I brought up the fact that I had been feeling really anxious about impending life changes, and she kind of laughed and said, “I remember feeling that way. I think everyone does. You have no idea what’s coming and there is no going back. I remember thinking what if I’ve made a big mistake?

Later that evening, at home, I started thinking about the differences in response I’d gotten from Mom and Grandma and the one I’d gotten from my SIL. Was it just that SIL was closer to the time before she’d had her first child, so she remembered more clearly what it was like? Or was it that Mom and Grandma genuinely had no idea what I was talking about? And if it was the second one, what caused the change between the generations? I’m inclined to blame the internet. Well, the internet and the VAST AMOUNT of parenting literature that’s available to new parents these days.

Don’t misunderstand me; I’m very grateful that there are books and web sites out there to help me learn how to be a better mom. I don’t currently know anything about sleep training or breastfeeding, but I’m looking forward to reading a couple of books that friends have recommended and I love the YouTube videos I’ve found about swaddling. However, for every sensible, soothing blog or site I’ve found written by a new mom, there is another one waiting in the wings to bombard me with The Best Way to do something, telling me that if I don’t spend 80% of my day actively engaging with my child then I am a neglectful parent, and also that my marriage is going to go directly to Hell and there’s not much I can do about it. With all of this information, much of it contradictory, is it surprising that New Mom Anxiety is a common trait among the Internet Generation? Even the “amateurs” get in on the act: Go to any Parenting question on Yahoo! Answers and see if you can find one that doesn’t have a woman on it who is obviously jockeying for valedictorian of mommyhood (or at least is trolling to make the other mom’s feel bad).

Let me give you an example. The major source of my anxiety is that I can clearly picture myself bored out of my mind, sitting on the floor eight hours a day, dangling a rattle, or (in a year or so) playing with cars and trains. I never have time to read, or look on the internet, or even clean the house. I turned to Google and asked “How much of your day is spent entertaining your child?” I found a couple of different web sites with a question/answer format, and the vast majority of moms said something along the lines of “I try to make sure I spend about 30-45 minutes in the morning and then again in the afternoon/evening actively playing with my child.” (This number did not include things like talking during change times, feeding times, etc. We are talking actually get down on the floor and do nothing but play.) BUT THEN there were always one or two moms who say “I spend the majority of my time playing with my child. I want to seize every moment because I know the time goes so fast.” It’s these types of things that make me break out into a cold sweat. It’s those bars that are set so high that I don’t know if I even want to try to reach them. I don’t want to be a person who spends all day engaged in playing with a child. That doesn’t sound fulfilling to me; it barely sounds like a life.

And yet, new or expectant mothers are faced with these impossible goals all the time, and there is very little sympathy from the goal-setters when you fall short. No one wants to be judged “the bad mom”, or the mom who doesn’t like her child. But just try to say something like “I don’t really enjoy playing with children” on the internet, and you are sure to get at least one person coming at you with the judging-stick to give you a good wallop of guilt.

That leads me back to our moms (and grandmothers). Sure, they had older women to give them advice, and some resources like Dr. Spock, but I get the feeling that there was a lot less pressure in their days to raise your child perfectly or to make them the center of your existence. When Grandma tells me about her younger days, stories about her kids barely figure in, unless as a side note.  Like, if she talked about bowling on a league, she would say that Grandpa bowled on Tuesday while she stayed home with the kids, and then she bowled on Thursday while he stayed home with the kids. Having children for the baby boomers wasn’t so much a choice as just something that you did, and therefore there wasn’t a lot of talk about this huge life-choice you were making or the big shift in your day-to-day life. Everybody had kids. And since everybody also wanted to keep having fun with their friends and traveling and living their lives, they made it work. Does that mean that kids maybe didn’t get 5 hours of quality learning time every single day? Yes, but it also meant that parents didn’t attempt to totally eradicate their own identities in favor of developing their children’s.

After thinking about all of this, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t want to be the valedictorian of parenthood. I didn’t want to be the kind of woman who shucks off her previous life and just becomes Mommy. I want my child to know that he’s important to me, but that he’s not my entire life. I want my husband to know that I will remain the woman he married and fell in love with, and not become this person who is only concerned with whether or not Baby is getting enough exposure to various important stimuli. I want my child to learn how to entertain himself, how to solve his own problems, how to do his own chores, and how to live his own life. I want him to know that if he gets stuck, I will be glad to help him, but that he is intelligent enough to do many things on his own. I want him to experience the joy of losing himself in a book for hours, of diligently working on a picture, of concentrating on his newest creation. How can he do and learn all that if I’m constantly there with him? He can’t. And I won’t cripple him in that way.

I’m not going to tell anyone they are wrong for spending “a majority of their time” playing with their child. That is a choice every person has to make for themselves. However, I’m also not going to allow those people make me feel like a horrible person for not following an example that I cannot agree with.

(Sounds pretty brave, eh? We’ll see how I feel about the whole thing tomorrow. Ugh, hormones!)

6 responses so far

Sep 17 2011

Who you really are vs. who you thought you were (or wanted to be)

Published by under Introspection,Pregnancy,The Man

I had to come to a pretty obvious realization about myself today, and it made me think about all the different ways we perceive ourselves and actually lie to ourselves about who we are. There is a perception or belief that no one knows you better than you know yourself, but I’m not sure how accurate that is for a lot of us. We lie to ourselves ABOUT ourselves all the time. How many people do you know who were or are obviously suffering from depression but refuse to acknowledge it? Or alcoholism? Or they can’t face the fact that they suck at choosing romantic partners and perpetuate a cycle of failed relationships? Besides that, many of us spend our teen years convincing ourselves that we are so SPECIAL and DIFFERENT and MISUNDERSTOOD, when in reality, almost all of us were doing the same thing – anything we could just to stand out, even if what we were doing wasn’t what we were really in to. “Fake it until you make it”…but a  lot of people never get past the “fake it” stage and end up living a lie.

My “grand” realization about myself is that I am someone who would prefer that everything be on a schedule, and that I am most comfortable when I have a plan of action and there are little to no surprises lurking on the horizon. This is different from how I spent my teenage years and most of my 20s telling myself that I was: I liked spontaneity! I loved surprises! I was a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants girl! This is all, quite honestly, bull crap. If it wasn’t bull crap, I wouldn’t have spent close to two hours last night freaking out about my impending role as mother, a role I have absolutely no experience with and for which there is no map.

For the last week or more, I have been obsessing about this article I found a couple of months ago. It was a nice breakdown of a typical day caring for a baby, broken into 30-60 minute blocks. It seemed to cover all the bases and I remember thinking it was a pretty logical and sensible schedule. And then, I didn’t bookmark it. I’ve been trying to find it ever since, off and on, with no luck. Last night, after I got home from a fun night crafting with Special Op B, I was laying in bed and I got hit by an overwhelming anxiety attack. It was a doozy, and it was all because I started thinking about how I have no idea what I’m supposed to DO all day with a baby. Will I hate it? Will I resent the baby? Will the day just drag and drag and I will be sitting at home, alone with this BABY, staring at him and thinking OH GOD WHAT HAVE I DONE? I ended up rousing The Man and telling him everything I was thinking about, and letting him reassure me and tell me that it wasn’t going to be like what I thought, and things were going to be fine. It really helped, but this morning I was still back on Google, trying to find that article. Then I got the brilliant idea to look through  my search history, and I found the magic search string I had been trying to rediscover this whole week. Up popped the article! I immediately bookmarked it, copied the whole thing to Word and saved it to my computer, and felt an enormous sense of relief. I had a plan! Granted, it might not be the exact plan I would end up following, but it was a great start point. It left me in little doubt of what my days may end up being like, and it didn’t look too daunting at all. It looked…doable.

And that’s when I realized that all of the anxiety I’ve been experiencing had basically vanished because I found some stupid web page on the internet that told me what to do with my baby all day. And THEN I realized that my anxiety was all because I do not like surprises. I do not like the unknown. I do not like not having a road map, no matter how vague it is. I want to see ahead and prepare for pitfalls. I am Pamela Planner, and if I don’t have my plan, then I am Una Unhappy. Or, more specifically, Annie Anxiety.

My teenage self would be horrified.

(In case you are curious, or experiencing a freak out on the same topic, here is the magical article I spent so long looking for.)

7 responses so far

Oct 25 2010

Flabbergasted.

Published by under Health,Introspection

Yeah, so. I started running.

I don’t know why. I never liked to run. For most of my life, I operated under the assumption that I couldn’t run, because every time I tried, about five seconds in, my ankles would be all “That’s about enough of that” and send shooting pains up my legs, and then I’d fall down. Not really what you look for in a track star.

But, over the past few months, I’d have dreams about running. Dreams in which I was effortlessly striding over the ground, with a springy step, feeling like I was one second away from flying. I don’t know where the dreams came from, either. I haven’t been watching “Chariots Of Fire” or anything like that. At first, I just enjoyed the running dreams, which were a nice change from the dreams in which I would TRY to run away from the monster/the murderer/the amorphous baddy and I couldn’t. Then, I started thinking “what if?” And THEN I took a good look in the mirror and thought “might as well TRY running”.

I talked to my sister, who told me I should try shuffling my feet more to avoid the hard-hitting impact that most likely was causing the pain in my ankles. I always thought that running meant you came down on your heel and pushed off on your toe, but she told me to try coming down more mid-foot.

I went online. I found the Couch to 5K running plan. I got the podcasts so that I knew when to walk and when to run and had some music to listen to. I learned that a good pace for running is one that allows you to talk while running – which might be much slower than you suspected. And four weeks ago, I drove to the rail-trail and started out. I’m not going to lie and tell you that it was “just like my dreams omigod I felt like a bird!” It was challenging. However, it was just challenging enough. It wasn’t so hard that I wanted to quit. It was hard enough that I felt like I was trying, but it was easy enough that I didn’t feel like dying.

Starting with week two, my knees started to hurt. I did a little pain analyzing and realized that it wasn’t the joint hurting, but the muscles (or tendons) surrounding the joint. Either my body was adjusting to this new motion, or my shoes were not right, or both. I decided to suck it up and buy some good shoes (I’d been using my New Balance cross trainers up to this point). I went to a specialty running store and got fitted, and left with a pair of Mizuno Wave Inspire 6 running shoes, and went back out onto the rail-trail. Weeks two and three were about RICE (Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate) and Icy Hot after every run and during every off day, but starting with week four, the pain subsided and now my knees are fine.

Today was Week Five, Day One, which meant three five minute run/three minute walk intervals. The last five minute run got pretty challenging at the end. During the last minute I was doggedly pushing through, telling myself not to quit, keep moving, only one minute, JUST GET THROUGH IT, and then, suddenly, I did. I got through it. I started my cool down walk, and several times during the walk I giggled to myself because, you guys, I RAN for five minutes at a stretch! Three times! And I didn’t pass out, fall down, or die.

When I think about the fact that three times a week, I tie on running shoes and go out and RUN, it still astounds me. This week I’m supposed to run for 20 minutes with no walking intervals, and honestly, that intimidates me. But, I’ve been intimidated at the beginning of every single week so far, and so far, I’ve completed every single workout.  If I can’t make the 20 minute run, I’ll repeat all of week five. I’ll keep plugging away at it, because now I really, really want to be able to run for three miles.

After all, you never know when the zombie apocalypse is coming.

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May 06 2010

Just the usual stuff.

My husband asked me today to set up a blog for him.  This might be a sign of the coming apocalypse.  I’m not sure.  I need more time to analyze this data.

Another sign of the apocalypse:  I’m really not feeling my own blog, lately.  Between Facebook and Twitter and my Droid, it seems like I do a lot of writing, and staying in touch, but when I look back over what I’ve actually DONE in a month, in terms of writing, it’s not much.  But what do I have to write about, really?  I have a pretty quiet life.

The one thing that is sort of not quiet right now is that Mackers and I are embarking on a new business venture.  I guess I should say we’re sticking our toes in the water of a new business venture, because we are Cautious Cathys (or at least I am).  She’s doing some perfumes, massage oils, and therapeutic balms and such, and I’m working on lotions and salts and lip balms and your basic “I feel pretty” things.  For now, the plan is to share booth space at several local craft shows and see what happens.  Our first show is coming up June 12 and I am a Nervous Nelly (see, personality crises abound!) because it is a New Thing and, as we all know, I am not big on New Things.  New Things give me stomach pain.

SPEAKING of stomach pain and new things, The Man and I were recently up north at Dr. Mom and Moll’s, and we discussed taking home Milo, a Corgi who belongs to one of their neighbors and who is a very sweet boy.  However, my Big Anxiety prevented this from happening, as I could not get over the utter nervousness of taking another dog home and having it not work out for various reasons.  I’ve been dog-burned.  Therefore, Milo remains with his owner, who is OK with that, and we remain dog-free.  This makes me a little sad, but it’s probably for the best right now.  Our cats are old and cranky, I’m a bundle of nerves, and introducing a new animal into that mix is….well, let’s just say The Man has only so much sanity to go around.

I’ve been working on the gardens lately.  I got some tiger lilies from my Grandma and some bluebells from Milo’s owner.  I moved some stuff out of the berm that was taking over (FYI: yarrow spreads like a mofo) and added some things to the butterfly garden, which I’m now calling the St. Francis garden, mostly because there is now a statue of St. Francis back there.  I call him Frankie-baby in my head, which is in NO WAY respectful, but I can’t seem to stop myself.

Also, this year is The Year of Seeing If We Can Get Edible Apples (doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, does it?) and also The Year of Keeping The Stupid Birds From Eating My Berries.  There are now nets over the berry patch and we are spraying the apple tree for the first time ever.  Let’s see if that extensive pruning campaign paid off, shall we?

I’m looking forward to the summer,  but I know I’m getting old because it was JUST February like, yesterday.  Tomorrow it will be August.  Time flies, tempus fugit, whatever you want to say.  Sometimes I’m scared that I’ll wake up at 55 and think “What did I do with my life?” but, day-to-day, I’m happy.  I’m content.  I don’t really WANT to be out there, doing some exciting job, making the big bucks, or seeing the world.

Hey, this entry sure went all over, didn’t it?  I think this is what happens when I don’t write enough.  Verbal. Spewing.

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