Archive for December, 2009

prettier in tears

I suppose I could blame my three-week posting hiatus on the holiday madness, but it wouldn’t be exactly true. Certainly my bake-a-thon and Santa errands and cross-country travel figured into the busyness scale somewhat; however, since I’m going for total honesty on this here blog (bloghesty? seriously, how many more mutant words can we get out of the blog trope?) I’m going to try to explain why I’ve been avoiding it.

Shortly after my last post, my husband was offered a job. At a solid company, in an industry he’d been wanting to move to, with a decent salary and enough seniority and benefits and challenge to warrant the rather hideous commute. So yay! Salvation! We wouldn’t lose our house or health insurance after all, the kids could stay in school, we’d actually have a Christmas, it was a genuine Miracle on Shriek House Street.

But after a few days of having my O! Elation! face on, it started to crack. I felt… blue. Left behind. Non-involved, non-contributory, non-grata. As we tried to find deals on new work clothes for him, and crammed in as much daddy-kids time as possible (since aforementioned hideous commute will essentially preclude his seeing them during the week), and drank wine every night because suddenly we felt so flush and celebratory… inside, my mood fizzled into grim self-pity.

And I’m embarrassed to say, it was all tied up in stupid value-of-work stuff, things that shouldn’t matter now because I made my choice to be a SAHM/WAHM and still think it was the right one for our family at the time. But this year I was ready for returning to work outside the home, and I have been sending out resumes since last spring with no results, and then he went and landed a job in less than three months. He was recruited. And his earning power is triple mine. Ow.

I tell myself it’s the gaps in my resume (that’s the SAHM part) and the career change a few years back. I don’t have senior experience in either field now. The job market is flooded with qualified people. Employers are scaling back. It’s the economy, stupid. It’s not me.

But that’s just nervous patter. It covers the real inner monologue, the one that goes: You totally suck. The only people giving you work are your contacts from before. It’s just mercy work. And you spend more time stressing and fussing over it than it pays. You’re barely putting a dent in the daycare and tuition bills you’re supposedly covering. Your husband can’t rely on you. He doesn’t respect you. Your kids think you care more about the computer than them. Your real writer friends are laughing behind your back.

And so on. I know we’re supposed to ignore our inner critics, or turn them off or transform them into unicorn syrup to serve over our glittering pancakes of greatness…. but I just can’t. There’s no off button. I think maybe it will shut up if I just find work, so I keep sending pitches and resumes into the ether, working on existing little projects, guiltily stealing an hour here and there to write bits of my novel, tweeting gamely about the daily travails of motherhood in a desperate effort to keep myself amused and engaged. Above water.

But really, it all feels like… you know that scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey, near the end, where Dave Bowman just drifts off into space, and you see him getting smaller and smaller and smaller before the immensity of dark, empty space? Yeah. It feels like that.

The less I work, the less valued I feel. The more time I spend on domestic duties, the more I resent them. The more time I spend with my kids, the more I value that time with them, yet feel it slipping steadily away. This is not an equation that balances out.

And now that I’ve vented plenty of steam and made it through this post (it only took three days of false starts) I realize, today on the eve of the New Year, I don’t want to end this year in a whining, navel-gazing grumblifesto. I don’t want that mindset to become a habit. So, um… hang on, I need to think how to extricate myself…

Ok. I’m going to let this be my bloggy version of a colon cleanse: a bunch of toxic crap that had to come out. But it doesn’t earn me a free pass to keep making more. No.

Tomorrow, New Year’s Day, I will start fresh, with less vitriol and more fiber. My resolution is to to try to let it all go: the self-directed hatred, the self-doubt, the judgement, the expectations, the resentment, the bitterness. My resolution is to try to find value in who I am now, not who I was or who I could be. I may need some reminders or flax seeds or something. But my resolution is to try. My best and my hardest. For me.

Ok, 2010. I’m ready. Engage.

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winter in the shade

It is a strange sensation to leave the internet for a few days, allowing real life to occupy all the corners of one’s mind, and then as one contemplates returning to the etherworld, to feel suddenly shy, the ghostlike qualities of online life suddenly imparting a sort of existential tristesse to the map of self. No? You haven’t noticed this? Onward, then:

We spent a lovely weekend in the mountains partaking in various wintry activities which required much comical bundling up of children and several applications of hot cocoa for them, ditto applications of wine for us. The way home was unfortunately fraught with peril, as we got caught in a blizzard and were stranded on the road for a few hours. (Apparently the National Weather Service is now diagramming tea leaves and pig entrails — with shocking! inaccuracy — to forecast conditions.) While I make it a point to always carry tire chains, warm gear, snacks, water and so forth on these sorts of trips, I neglected to pack any Xanax thus rendering the whole ordeal one in which I was forced to put my head between my knees periodically while exclaiming “oh! I seem to have dropped my mitten again!” between hyperventilated breaths. Because, you see, not only is car entrapment with small children a nightmare in terms of keeping said small children entertained and happy, it is also frightening to helplessly watch more and more snow fall while the gas tank indicator creeps toward empty, to notice how every time you shut the engine off the cold settles in so quickly, and the silence of grimly gathering deathflakes gags you with impending and frigid doom. On the one hand, you want to shout at your whining ungrateful children how serious the situation is, but on the other hand you want to make it all seem like a cheery adventure so they aren’t as terrified as you are. There are, however, only so many times you can play “I Spy” in a white monotone landscape. Dire melodrama as it may sound, we eventually made it home, whereupon all were agreed that snow is only wonderful when one is assured of being able to come in out of it. God bless us flatlanders every one.

Tangential to extreme temperatures, has anyone ever noticed that part of the delight of shedding pounds is a sense of pervasive cold? Since pretty much the day I started WW (more on this in a minute) over a week ago, I have been unable to adequately warm up, except when my fanny is glued to a wood stove, which it admittedly was for a good portion of the weekend. I figure the weight loss is due more to shiver-induced calorie burning than it is to less calorie intake. Yes, I finally gave in and am surrendering twenty clams a month for a piece of software to hold me dietarily accountable. I’m not sure what it says about me, exactly, that when faced with a plate of pasta on my own I devour the whole thing unabashedly, but the thought of calculating the astronomical points associated with same makes me not only happily compliant but not even particularly hungry. I’ve lost 3.5 pounds in 8 days which does not yet translate to any noticeable visual difference but looks pretty fabulous numerically, so.

As unemployment goes, we’re in the winter of it now. That is to say, the bloom of novelty is off the rose and our budget is frozen in a thick shroud of no-can-do. Monsieur Shriek and I each have our little freelance projects, which instill a sense of purpose if nothing else, and which prevent us from scrolling repeatedly through sparse job listings or shouting at the children, but don’t come close to even waving at our fixed expenses let alone taking them arm in arm for a leisurely stroll through the gardens of bill paying. However (and here I shall whisper for fear of attracting Fate’s withering glance) it does appear as if an early spring may be in sight. Monsieur Shriek has had some promising conversations and… well, let us just hope for a thaw.

Speaking of which, I must now go plumb the depths of the freezer to see if there’s anything defrostable for dinner. Crockpot, ho!

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thinky thots thursday

I haven’t done this in a few weeks, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been collecting ’em. More thinky thots from my kids:

“Mama. Your butt is GIANT.”

“I didn’t forget I had homework, it just… disappeared from my mind.”

“Sometimes when I can’t sleep I make a fart and then I sleep.”

“Nooooo….. that was my small lunch. I want my BIG lunch now.”

“I don’t like Elmo. He not very awesome.”

“Mama! I think I’m hypnotized!”

“What are dese? Nipples? Why are they for? WHAT?”

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