About Me

I'm a "deep fried" mama for two reasons: one, I grew up in the South, and two, my three wonderful kids leave me feeling that way a lot of the time! If you feel that way too, then this blog's for you!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

A lot of shit goes down in a life. I woke up at 4:30 this morning thinking about that. So much so that I had to get up and write some of it down. I have had three children, and by rights none of those little buggers should be here. The pregnancy test for the first one was negative...but then turned out to be positive, because she's here and wears a size 8 shoe just like her mom. We couldn't wish the second one into being, no matter how hard we tried. I went through fertility tests, more blood draws than I can count, and a bunch of rounds of artificial insemination, all to no avail. I even had a breast biopsy when the mammogram I was required to have for the fertility clinic showed a "mass." I was lucky--the mass turned out to be benign, thought to be calcification from breastfeeding my daughter. Finally, I tried the "ancient Chinese secret" offered by a doctor of Chinese medicine I found, ironically enough, through the fertility clinic. Within two months, I was preggers. There's no scientific explanation for that one. Then, thinking we couldn't have more kids without going through the rounds of fertility testing and treatment again, we lived rather dangerously. One night, I had a feeling...and nine months later, our third baby arrived. I used to think I should have ignored that feeling, but now I know that it was a calling more than anything. I knew I would have the baby, and my soul wanted it even as my logical mind told me all the reasons it wasn't a good idea. Now I know why--that little guy is here to show me how to love. Don't get me wrong--I love all my kids with a passion that is sometimes frightening to both of us--but the relationship a parent has with each child is different. It's just the nature of things. My oldest one fights me tooth and nail at every turn. My middle one doubts my love (or anyone's) on a semi-regular basis and needs constant reassurance. My little guy, though, just loves me. And loves me unconditionally. By receiving the deep and boundless love that he offers on a daily basis, I'm learning how to give it back.

Now that's some shit.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Flying Without a Net

Lately I have found myself doubting our decision to move way out here in the country. This puzzles me, because I year ago I couldn't move out of our old house fast enough. I was 100% sure that moving was the right decision, and was so happy to find our house and begin making plans for moving and remodeling. 

As the year has gone on, we have certainly faced more challenges than I anticipated. Contact with our neighbors is infrequent, and I didn't really realize the degree of loneliness that would bring. One thing I really hated about our old neighborhood was that I couldn't step outside without seeing SOMEONE, either in a yard nearby or jogging on the path that ran behind our house. I couldn't even let the damn dog out in the morning without someone seeing me in my robe. I really wanted some privacy. Here, I have all the privacy I can stand and then some.

Our kids are adjusting, but my daughter had a much harder time with the transition than I thought she would. She really missed her friends, but didn't seem to want to invite them over either. It was as if it would be too painful to see them. Our boys often only have each other for playmates, and none of the kids are as eager to explore our new acreage as we expected them to be.

And the remodeling? Pure hell. It has taken twice as long and cost 50% more than we thought. As bad as everyone says it is? Totally true.

In short, nothing turned out like we planned. Hence, my doubts. I keep thinking we should have waited, or should have bought a different house, or should have learned to be happier where we were. Then I doubt my doubts. Why am I questioning this decision when I was so sure it was the right one at the time? That's not how I usually roll--when I make a decision, I think it through, make it, and then move on. I was having trouble doing that, and I had to figure out why. 

I finally realized it was because even though I didn't want to live in our old house or our old neighborhood anymore, that was where I felt safe. It was familiar--I knew where everything went in that house. Here, we are constantly moving and rearranging things as the remodeling progresses. Our kids share a room right now and nothing is where it will be in a few months. I still don't feel moved in and probably won't for some time. It takes longer to do everything out here--from taking the garbage to the curb to clearing the driveway when it snows to getting groceries. A major adjustment. At our old house, I knew the routes to school and the grocery store and how long it took to get everywhere else from that house. I'm still learning all that here. Spending so much time alone during the day here has also forced me to think about why I might miss the superficial and sometimes downright unpleasant contact I used to have with my old neighbors. It occurred to me that even though I didn't like certain people in my old neighborhood, I KNEW them--I was used to their eccentricities and foibles.  I'm meeting new people,  and so far almost everyone is wonderful, but they are all NEW--I don't have that sense of belonging that I used to have. 

So what I'm missing is not really WHAT I used to have--it's the feeling that surrounded it. The feeling of being in a familiar place with familiar people. That's what I miss--my safety net. I knew who I could call if my car broke down or I needed help with a project. We have wonderful friends who live fairly close to us in our new place, but they can't be my whole village. I'm building that new village slowly and carefully, but it's going to take some time. Until then, I have to fly without a net. It's scary as hell, but I do have faith that I will get to the point where my new village feels just as safe and familiar as the old one. I also have faith that the home and the life we are trying to build out here is the one our family was meant to have, and that in the long run our kids will be happier and more confident because we made this choice. 

When I really sit down and think about it, I don't want to go back to where we were. I just want to move forward faster--speed up the process somehow. I know I can't, and I just have to let things unfold in their own time. And there's a freedom I have now that I didn't have before. Because no one knows ME very well either, I'm free to think about the kind of life I want to build for myself and my family here. For the first time, I feel as though I'm in a place where other people's expectations really don't matter. No one is looking over my shoulder (or into my backyard) to see what I'm doing. I don't have to join groups I don't want to join, or volunteer for things I don't want to volunteer for. I can chart my own course. That's pretty exciting stuff. 

Another realization for me was that perhaps I have finally reached a point in my life where I don't need as much of a safety net as I once did. I chose my old neighborhood based largely on its location, but also based on the fact that the houses were new, nice, and neat. Safe. Comfortable. The yard was small, but we also reasoned that that would mean less work. By the end of our time there, the smallness of the yard and the restrictions of our homeowners' association felt incredibly confining. I wanted my children to be able to dig a hole, build a fort, or run with a dog without worrying who would be bothered. Now they can--and the fact that they haven't done all those things yet shouldn't worry me. They also need to feel safe here before they venture out into the woods. That too will come in time. In the end, maybe we can all learn to fly without a net, and realize that the risks you take are the only ones that really count. 

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Out of Gas

So, I ran out of gas the other day. Something I've done maybe one other time in my life. Although I do let the red line hover dangerously around the "E," and coast into the gas station on nothing but fumes at times, I never ACTUALLY run out of gas. Until the other day. I can't even tell you how it happened. I knew I needed gas, because I have a little light AND even actual words on a little screen on the dashboard that tell me I am LOW ON FUEL. Why I didn't go to the gas station earlier is a mystery even to me. I was just so busy running errands and didn't really think about how many miles I had traveled. I was on my way to pick up #2 son from preschool with #1 son in the back. I was thinking to myself that I needed gas and would get some after the preschool pickup. Right about the, the car starts going, "putt, putt, putt..." and I have just about enough time to pull over to the side of the road before it stops. Damn.

Thankfully, DH was available to do the preschool run, and I was able to convince him to make the call to the preschool so that I didn't have to feel the shame of telling them I could not retrieve my child at the appointed time. All I had to do was call the roadside assistance service and wait. And wait some more. #1 son was a trouper--he was a little worried, but I did my best to reassure him and then we played games until the nice man with the gas can arrived. And eventually we all made it home safely, and I was a grateful mommy for that.

But, as most experiences do, this one got me thinking. There are other times in our lives when we run out of gas in a more figurative sense--we run out of energy, we get sick, two feet of snow fall (as they did this weekend in my hometown), or any number of other events occur that force us to stop what we would normally be doing and pay attention to what is happening right now, in this very moment. Everything else has to be set aside to deal with the current crisis.

Although these events can be frustrating because they keep us from other things we need or want to do, they have value of their own. They are the universe's way of telling us that we NEED to slow down, to take a break. These events are essentially time-outs for adults. It's nature's way of saying, it's ok--sit down and take a breath. Take a nap even. It's what we need even if we don't know it yet. And if I am really, truly paying attention, I'll give myself permission to take a break BEFORE I run out of gas next time. I decided I'd much rather contemplate my life from the safety of my home than from a stalled car on the side of the road. So for me and the other moms out there who feel overwhelmed, let's give ourselves a break. When we feel ourselves becoming harried and overwhelmed, let's take the time to sit down and take a breath. Or take a nap even. It's ok. Really, it is.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Character Counts

"Character counts" was a favorite phrase for adults to use when I was growing up. I didn't understand for a long time what "character" really meant. I think of it now as being honorable, having integrity, and thinking of others when we make decisions about how to behave in life. 

This morning, one of my Facebook friends, a friend from high school, posted this photo:

I don't normally engage in political discussions on the Faceplace, because it's just not productive, for reasons I'll describe below. This photo, though, really got me agitated. As much as I haven't liked certain Presidents, I wouldn't call them the "s" word, as my kids refer to it. I said as much on my friend's FB page. She replied, "Freedom of speech is very powerful!!" Yes, yes it is. When freedom of speech involves character assassination of our nation's leader, it's very powerful and very damaging to the strength of that nation. Lincoln himself said, "A nation divided against itself cannot stand." The problems that we face as a country--education, health care, unemployment, just to name a few--cannot possibly be solved by one political party or another. Creative and innovative solutions, which are clearly required, can only come from thoughtful discussion of these issues that involves people with different points of view.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A new day, a new year, a new beginning. My babies all stayed up to ring in the new year last night--that's the first time we've all made it to midnight together. We spent the night with friends at their home, and put the kids all in one bed. They all fell asleep within a few minutes of each other, and I had the immeasurable joy of watching them all sleep near one another. Their little faces become so soft and gooey in sleep that you feel your everyday worried self take a vacation while watching them. 

Friday, December 30, 2011

Rudolph and the Angels

I've been experiencing what you might call a crisis of faith the last few months. With the approach of Christmas, the elements of this crisis were brought into sharp focus for me. I tried to help my kids understand the importance of giving as we prepared gifts and baked goods for others, bought items for children in need, and cheered them on as they chose some of their own gifts to give this year. They also got to make their own lists, of course, because part of what I wanted this year was for them to have gifts that made them happy. It's been a tough fall with moving and settling into a new neighborhood and new schools. We had hoped to have our basement remodeled by now, but it's not happening as fast as we'd like, so the kids are all still sharing one room. So did I overcompensate for all that by buying more toys than usual? You bet.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Hawk

Since moving to the country, I’ve had the chance to reflect on a great many things. I’ve had as much quiet and solitude as my children will afford me. This has led to both small and large breakthroughs for me. I’ve found perhaps the first kind of peace I’ve ever known, as I’ve been able to really and truly relax with no neighbors for whom I need to perform. One thing I’ve found, though, is that when stress leaves your body, the adrenaline and cortisol go with them. This means that you are dog-shit tired a lot of the time. I’ve also had physical aches and pains, which I think are partly due to the reduction in stress hormones, but also feeling new pain that I haven’t felt before.

As I wrote last time, when my parents left, the reality of our relationship hit me. I realized that these were people who didn’t stand up for me, and who didn’t support me or even know me in any kind of real way. I hurt all over for days. I thought it was just the pain of feeling this loss, but I now realize it was more than that. As a child and as an adult, I’ve acquired the belief that I’m supposed to be able to handle whatever comes along.