Saturday, September 05, 2009

Post 10: Thirty Three

I haven't been looking forward to this birthday. I haven't been dreading it either. It's just there. Thirty three. It's not a milestone birthday or anything special -- it's just, to be over dramatic, a marker that another year has passed. I sometimes wake up and think, "how did I get to be this old?" Not that 33 is old, but I feel like I should FEEL older in some ways, and most of the time, I still feel like a kid in adult clothes.

So, a gratitude list if you will, of things that are working for me at 33:
* My beautiful girl and the successful, interesting pregnancy and labor that brought her here
* YG
* the MG
* my family, as far away as they are
* a great apartment in a fabulous city
* running again
* reading lots of books during my time off
* dribs and drabs of writing
* an uneasy truce with how I look
* my other two children, the cats
* summer nights in Davis Square
* and countless other everyday moments that would be uninteresting to most people but me

The big hole is that I feel largely...unfinished. My return-to-work date is now looming over, and I dread going back. It has absolutely nothing to do with the job or the people. The work is fine, and I actually really love my coworkers. I just feel like I've wasted over a decade doing work that I don't enjoy and that the time is slipping away. And that if I don't figure out something else to do soon, it won't be a decade that I wasted, but rather a life. Most of you that read know that I've been complaining about the same thing for years, but with each passing year, it seems more urgent. And it caught up to me, to some extent. In my horrible-for-many-reasons review this year, I was asked, point blank, "Do you even want to be here?" There is no problem with my work or my work ethic. The problem, I was told, is that people get the sense that I don't want to be there and it's that -- this weird lack of commitment to the fact that this IS my life and my job -- that is keeping me stuck in the bowels of middle management. It hurt. Because it was unbelievably true.

YG scolds me when I say that I have "wasted" a decade of my life and reminds me of all the things that I have accomplished. I also remind myself that it took a while to get the other things that I am truly grateful for like a husband that I respect and who treats me well, and a place to live where I truly feel comfortable. It took me the better part of a decade to figure those things out, and it's going to continue to take time to figure out where I belong work-wise.

The good thing is that 33 doesn't feel too old. I feel like I have a good balance between wondering how the hell I ended up an adult and feeling like 33 is still just the beginning of a lifetime, that I have time to work things out and navel gaze a bit more.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Post 9: But I Am Running

Ah, yes, a running update. I'm back up to 3 miles a couple of times a week. My first race is the last weekend in September, and I'm signed up for a 10K on Oct. 12. I highly doubt I will be able to run the whole 10K, but we'll see. I don't love the jogging stroller, but it's better than nothing. It's more of a pain in the ass to time my runs with my boobs and Zygote's nursing schedule. I won't even get into the gladiator wear I need to put on to keep those boobs in place.

Post 8: These Days

There are days when I really don't know what the hell I am doing. They were there before baby, but since Zygote's arrival, the frequency has definitely increased. I really don't have much to do during the day beyond feed baby, walk baby, feed cats, and bathe myself, and that last one isn't necessarily a necessity. Occasionally, I try and pull a meal together and there's always a mountain of laundry to do.

Still, I should be able to accomplish this stuff and have room for other things as well, no?

Today, I had grand plans to run to Staples to fax off some things, pick up cat food, go for a walk or a jog with the jogger, finish thank you notes, put away the laundry and maybe shower. Exciting. I still couldn't figure out how to get it done. Zygote seems to be teething early so today was a scream-all-day kind of day. I didn't take a shower until 6:30 p.m. with the baby screaming in the bouncy seat on the bathroom floor, and I'm now eating cold leftovers and desperately trying to get the house in some kind of order so that YG doesn't come home from his business trip and wonder why I'm such a sloth and what I was doing all day.

Two steps forward, one step back, right? And the writing? Well, it's not really happening. I feel like I'm too close to the baby stuff to write about it, and everything else seems so abstract right now.

I think I need a glass of wine.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Post 7: The Students Return

Zygote and I went to Central Square this morning to pick up her birth certificate, and because the weather was gorgeous, we decided to walk the three miles home. On the way, we passed a number of moving trucks. They have been lined up all weekend, clogging the streets and causing traffic jams, and Harvard Square is teeming with meandering parents in Harvard visors and maps, not quite sure where they're going. And I know that I'm getting older because it seems like the new students are looking younger and younger each year.

Still, I love this time of year. There's something about the beginning of a new school year that feels like you're getting a clean slate. My birthday has always come near the start of the school year as well, so every September has that "this is the year I'm going to xxxx" feeling.

I'm not quite sure what I'll be doing this year. Spending time with Zygote, trying to figure out the rest of my life? I won't be taking any classes in the Fall semester because I want to try and figure out how to juggle my work/home schedule first, but I know that I'm going to miss it.

In the meantime, I'll try to be helpful to the tourists and the new kids, giving directions when asked and attempting friendliness and avoiding cursing them for taking my parking spots and my seat at Diesel.

Post 6: Middle School

"No, the worst thing, worse even than sitting around crying about that inevitable day when my son will leave for college, worse than thinking about whether or not in the meantime to get him those hideous baby shots he probably should have but that some babies die from, worse than the fears I have when I lie awake at 3:00 in the morning (that I won't be able to make enough money and will have to live in a tenement house where the rats will bite our heads while we sleep, or that I will lose my arms in some tragic accident and will have to go to court and diaper my son using only my mouth and feet and the judge won't think I've done a good enough job and put Sam in a foster home), worse even than the fear I feel whenever a car full of teenagers drives past my house going 200 miles an hour on our sleepy little street, worse than thinking about my son being run over by one of those drunken teenagers, or his one day becoming one of those teenagers -- worse than just about anything else is the agonizing issue of how on earth anyone can bring a child into this world knowing full well that he or she is eventually going to have to go through the seventh and eighth grades." -- Anne Lamott, Operating Instructions.

Zygote has a number of years to go before we have to confront this particular horror, but this morning, the MG packed up her stuff and headed out for her first day of middle school. She's only in fifth grade, but in her district, middle school runs from grades 5-8, with the little kids getting thrown in with a bunch of large-breasted hozzles and boys who already have facial hair. The school has done everything it can to assuage parents' fears, keeping the kids apart except for when they enter and leave the building. Still, I am nervous. If I had the power to redo, or just skip, any time in my life, I would probably choose middle school. I don't think I'm unique.

The MG must sense this because she has had tons of anxiety preparing for school. She's worried about remembering her locker combination, changing classes, and getting bullied. And how have we responded to her questions and needs for reassurance? Well, basically, I've flat out lied. I tell her that it will all be okay, and that while it wasn't enjoyable ALL the time, I've always liked school.

What I didn't tell her: it was horrendous. I don't tell her that the mean girls were out of control and that some of the mean girls were supposed best friends. That the boys are still ridiculously babyish, until they're snapping your bra or whispering filthy comments to you. I don't tell her that you are never smart enough or pretty enough or funny enough or skinny enough, and that if you think these things don't matter, your friends and classmates will tell you that you're immature. You will have boobs or you won't. You will have your period or you won't. You will have a first boyfriend or you won't. Neither is preferable because with all of your raging hormones, every option will seem awful and you'll probably hate the world and everyone in it. Melodramatic much? Well, at least she doesn't have to take the bus. I would have to do some of my best PR work yet to put a good spin on that.

I read Queen Bees and Wannabes: Helping Your Daughter Survive Cliques, Gossip, Boyfriends, and Other Realities of Adolescence about a year ago and one of the most important bits of information that I took from that book was to check your baggage at the door. I obviously have my own biases, but I'm trying not to let them influence the MG's experience of middle school. I honestly hope, for her sake and selfishly for mine (I wouldn't sic my preteen self on my worst enemies), that her experience is different from mine and that she thrives.

One day down. 1,459 to go.

And then there's high school.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Post 5: Sentimental Nonsense

Zygote has learned how to laugh. She will open her mouth wide, move her head from side to side and bellow. It's redonk adorable.

Tonight, YG and I were leaning over her changing table, shoulder to shoulder, talking to her. She had been a little bitch earlier in the evening, probably tired out from the long drive. We had to leave our friend's house because of her constant screaming, and home was no better. Eventually, though, she calmed down and we set on her table to get her ready for bed. We would each say something to her and she'd coo and giggle. If we didn't know better (and to avoid becoming the type of holier-than-thou parents who think their children are geniuses), we would swear she was talking to us. YG tickled her and she screeched and smiled, and he exclaimed, "oh, you are so cute."

"Look what we made," I said, staring at her. Then I started to cry AGAIN.

"See, Zygote," YG exclaimed. "Mommy isn't the crusty, cold person she thinks she is. She's a sentimental softie."

Zygote cocked her head. I spoke for her, "I don't know, man. Sometimes she's a real bitch."

And then we all laughed.

Post 4: Leaving Zygote

For the past eleven and a half weeks, Zygote and I have been, quite literally, attached. Because of nursing, I hadn't really been away from her for more than a couple of hours here and there. In the insane, sleep-deprived weeks after she was born, this fact could send me into a tailspin, with lots of tears and moaning about how everyone else got to go someplace cool except me. Insert eye roll here.

YG and I both think that it's important to spend time away from kids for a number of reasons, but the first being that you should have some time to reconnect (ew, Hallmark word) and remember why exactly you wanted to have kids with this person in the first place. My parents went on a vacation by themselves every year, and we hope to do the same.

So we began planning. At the start of the summer, I could not wait to get away. It didn't matter where. I just didn't want to be here. I didn't want to constantly be feeding and doing laundry and crying. I wanted out. I know this was all post partum hormones raging, but when you're in it, it's hard to see that it's temporary.

We scheduled a trip to Atlantic City. At first, we were planning to spend a full week away, but we couldn't line up my parents for babysitting duty for a full week, so we decided on a two-night stay. I started dutifully pumping and preparing.

And then I didn't want to go. That's probably not entirely true. I wanted to go, but I was afraid of missing Zygote too much while I was gone. I've gone from hating this attachment to enjoying it and accepting that laundry and feedings and elastic waist pants are my life for a while now. I also became paranoid, thinking about all the things that could go wrong while she was with my parents (who have raised three semi well-adjusted children) for two days. They could get in a car accident. They could think it was too cold and swaddle her in too many blankets and then she would suffocate. They could trip and fall while carrying her. She could get attacked by deer (seriously, this one woke me up out of a deep sleep). Or worst, she would do totally fine and not miss me at all. Or worst worst, she would do totally fine and take to the bottle and not need the one thing I can exclusively give her and not need me anymore.

I am not normal.

I cried a little in the bathroom this past Thursday when we were getting ready to leave her but knew, deep down, that YG and I needed this trip, and that my parents would enjoy their time with her. It was fabulous. We gambled and spent a whole day doing nothing but sleeping late, swimming in the pool and drinking and eating and gambling some more. We read books and magazines and watched Sports Center uninterrupted. I drank a ton of girly drinks and wore dresses and regular bras and praise Jesus, stillettos. I missed her terribly, but I had a blast.