Sunday, December 30, 2012

Night Away

Did I mention that my in-laws gave me and Z a night in a bed and breakfast for my birthday this year? The birthday celebration for my mother-in-law broke up on the morning of the 19th and they drove away with our kiddos while Z and I headed a few miles up the road to Asheville. C hadn't slept through the night since we left for the trip and he was still sick. The only nights in T's life I'd been away from him were the two while I was in the hospital having C. And I'd never been away from C overnight, let alone for 24+ hours. Because he was sick and up in the middle of the night I'd been nursing him like crazy. I was worried the kids would think I was abandoning them. I was worried C would be a mess if I didn't nurse him. I was worried that as much as I needed time away that the distance from them would break my heart.

My in-laws kept reassuring me they had it covered. I tried to explain that I had no qualms about leaving the boys with them. I'm pretty damn lucky in that regard. I wasn't worried for a second about the care they would receive. I knew deep down they would be fine without me. I just wasn't sure I'd be fine without them. My sisters-in-law drove away with T first, then my in-laws pulled out with C in the car, me frantically waving to him as the went. I completely fell apart. Stood in the driveway and cried harder than I've cried in a very long time as Z held me. 

It was hard to settle into kid-free mode at first. The tears slowed down and we got on the road. We passed a digger and were bummed that T wasn't in the car to enjoy its coolness. He is huge into diggers right now. I fretted some more about C going to sleep without nursing and I worried that he would keep my mother-in-law up all night by not sleeping. But unsurprising to anyone but me, we did begin to enjoy ourselves. Pretty damn quickly. Our trip was a cliché of the night away-eating out, enjoying the B&B room with its fireplace and two person bath, walking around town, eating out again. Sometimes clichés are exactly what you need. For us the trip was damn near perfection. It felt decadent and familiar and foreign all at the same time to concentrate on each other so singularly. It reminded me how much I like Z, how much I like us together. And how much I miss us. 

And yes, I did leak milk all over the place for the first time since this summer. My boobs were killing me by the time we got back to Z's folk's place. But more than my desperation to get C in my arms so he could give me a little relief was the fact that I missed those boys so very much and wanted to see them. I think it is good for all of us to miss each other a bit. 

Getting ready for our big night on the town. I wore dangly earrings for the first time in years. Z thought they looked very strange on me, not bad just strange.

We were really happy when I took this picture. I think you can tell. 

The trip was a huge success. Couldn't have gone better. But I was right back in November. And I feel guilty as hell about it. Less than 24 hours later it felt like the trip didn't happen. C had just started to recover from his ear infection and he started to get sick again. He still wasn't sleeping at night. One good night of sleep for Z and me did not restore us. Here we are less than two weeks later, all four of us either sick, getting over being sick, or just getting sick. We are worn out. I don't mean to sound ungrateful, our families have been a tremendous help. We are just at the moment in time when parenthood is unrelenting. It's a reminder that this year, with a one year old and three year old, is much harder than last year with the easiest baby on the planet and a pretty cooperative two year old. Being around my sister-in-law's kids provided another reminder that it will get better. Her girls are 2 and 5. They play with each other, they often play without a lot of supervision. Their sleep situation is much more consistant. It looks like an impossible dream to me and Z, but we know we'll be there soon ourselves. 

I guess I'm realizing it's ok for things to be hard even as I'm grateful for them. It's ok to long for a time before we had the kids or look forward to the time when the hands on part isn't as relentless. I know they will tax us in other ways, parenting teenagers is not for the fainthearted. But at least we'll be well rested and have a little bit more of our identities back. At least we won't be so physically run down. This fall we've been sick every time the kids were, but we don't have the luxury of taking a sick day, so getting well is a fucking battle. And the minute we are ok again they bring the next bug home and it starts all over again.

But now that I've gotten a significant break, a day to myself with my husband, I'm hungry for more of them. They might not fix everything. We still might be sick and tired and worn down and frustrated. But jesus christ, are they ever a lot of fun.  

Sweet C on Christmas morning. Think the sandman was a bit overzealous. 

And at the doc's in GA two days ago....he's a sick little dude.

Cousin cuddles with Daddy/Uncle Z.

Santa T getting ready to ice skate. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Fucking Christmas

Back when I worked retail I was walking the store one day during the holiday season and I stopped to do something in the Prepared Foods department. Specialty, home of coffee and cheese was right next door and I watched as a customer approached a team member with two small kids in tow. The team member was a long time employee, a professional who was a lot of fun and she immediately offered her help. The customer, "Would you please tell my daughters that Santa Claus will not bring them any presents if they doen't start to behave themselves?"

It was always a shitload of fun when the customers expected us to discipline their children. My co-worker laughed nervously, I don't remember what she said, but she certainly didn't do the customer's bidding. Because, you know, not her job. This probably happened 4 or 5 years ago, certainly before I was pregnant, but it was one of the moments that has stuck with me most clearly of all my time working at Whole Foods. I swore to myself that I would never be the kind of parents that used Christmas present giving as a tool to threaten my child.

I saw a lot of atrocious parenting when I was working retail. I also unfairly judged a lot of behavior by both parents and kids. I know now it is harder than it looks. A lot harder. Like a super lot harder. But I did see a lot of stuff that I do not want to repeat. I never want to ask someone working retail to discipline my kid for any reason-it isn't their fucking job. I'm the one who had the damn kids, I fully recognize they are my problem.

Did I mention the job is hard? T and C are getting sick. Both of them have crud coming out of their eyes and low grade fevers. So they are acting like assholes. C has starting doing this charming thing where he screams at the top of his lungs over and over again to get attention. If we fuss and cluck and tell him to get quiet he only does it more. I've asked that everyone just ignore it when he starts. If he gets no response the hope is he will lose interest.

We've been traveling for more than a week, which is hard on little guys who thrive with a schedule and familiarity. Even though we are with family little people can fray nerves. My kids are coming by their shitty behavior honestly. But it is clearly still driving everyone up the wall. I feel pretty terrible about it. It sucks to inconvenience a house full of people.

T completely could not keep it together tonight. His dad joined his mom, sister, and sister-in-law for a Christmas music performance after dinner. I encouraged Z to go, he needs to have some fucking fun. But after his dad left T was not being cooperative about bath time. As I was yelling, threatening, pleading for his cooperation I desperately wanted to shout, "IF YOU DON'T CLEAN UP THE TOYS YOU POURED EVERYWHERE, IF YOU DON'T STOP BEING A JACKASS, IF YOU DON'T GET YOURSELF DOWN TO THE TUB IMMEDIATELY SANTA CLAUS IS NOT GOING TO BRING YOU ANY TOYS!"

I mean I really wanted to. Really super bad, swears and all. I remembered the mom in Whole Foods years ago and for the first time I understood her desperation. She was pissed, she was frustrated, I'm sure she was tired and she made a shitty choice. I'm pissed, I'm frustrated, I'm tired. And I make shitty choices all the time. But I pulled it together tonight. I did not swear at my kid. I did not threaten that santa wouldn't bring gifts. I did tell him I was angry and tired. Don't get me wrong-I did threaten him-but with losing his bedtime songs if he did it again. He did pull it together. I sang a made up song about the first Harry Potter movie and This Land Is Your Land. And he's asleep now.

As time goes on I think it is going to get harder to refrain from threatening him with losing the spoils of Christmas. But I still don't want to put that kind of weight on the holidays. I don't think it is right or fair to any of us. It's starting to feel like a lofty goal. We'll see how many more years I get through without doing it. Shall we take bets?

Hope you guys have lovely holidays. And if you celebrate, well, Merry Fucking Christmas. Enjoy the hell out of tomorrow. And start drinking around noon. I think that is my plan to stay sane....

Exploring in the attic with Granddad. T was particuarly excited about this huge Darth Vader. There are three big boxes up there labeled Star Wars for when he is a little older.

Setting out the treats for Santa. 

T's very confusing words. I just wrote down what he said. He drew the T and the digger himself. What? you can't tell what the digger is?

I actually married Mr. Wrapping Paper Head here.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Life is Weird

So is facebook. Weird, but great. I was reminded again during my birthday this week. I'm a fan of the FB birthday drill. I try to leave a note on the walls of my friends on their day. Something beyond just "happy birthday", something a bit more personal. I love birthdays, so anything I can do to help celebrate someone else's is welcome in my book. And it is such a thrill to get all those birthday wishes. This year a number of folks who I didn't know paid me mind on FB wished me a happy day, I know it is a little thing but it really touched me. I mean, my tattoo artist who both Z and I sincerely like and wish we lived closer to so we could develop a real friendship with, but who was just doing me a kindness when he accepted my request in the first place, when he wished me a happy birthday it really gave me the warm fuzzies. When a friend from high school requested a new blog post with her birthday wishes it surprised me and made me feel really good. Of course, she was probably hoping for something a little less bleak, but there you have it. So yes,  facebook rocks.

Some of my close friends from 20 years ago and I have reconnected in an unsurprisingly easy and really rich way. This year my family stayed at the home of a dear friend of mine and fellow Robinson Ram, and his family stayed at our home as well. I am profoundly grateful to have him back in my life-he is truly one of my favorite people on the planet. I look up to him and I wish I was more like him. It's always good to have friends who inspire you to try and be a better person. And his wife is someone I immediately wanted to be friends with. I love meeting spouses of pals when the friend did such a fine job finding someone awesome to spend their life with. Z and he seem to genuinely like each other and his kids and my kids get along really well, that only sweetens the deal. I'm delighted that we are back in touch, but it somehow makes a lot of sense.

Then there are those folks who are a big fat surprise. Yesterday a gal who I couldn't call a friend in high school-more of an acquaintance-put herself out by driving to my in-law's house with her husband and kids to hang out for the afternoon. It still sort of blows my mind that we are friends all these years later. We were so different from each other back in the early 90s that I don't think we were able to see through to the many parts of ourselves that were alike. She was (and is) beautiful and popular and loud and confident and she scared the shit out of me. The truth is I was jealous of her. I'm ashamed to admit it was because I knew I'd never be those things. And I wanted to be those things. It's nice that I've grown up enough that I can sort of move past the small and unkind impulses I have. If I let my jealousy get in the way now I'd be missing out on one hell of a friendship.

Because it turns out we like each other. I don't mean to speak for her, but it would seem we like each other an awful lot. We like each other's husbands. We like each other's kids. We don't parent the same exact way, but we dig each other's parenting styles as well. We actually want to spend more time together. Talk was had of a longer summer visit of some sort. Little homemade presents were exchanged. It was fucking awesome.

So yes, facebook. Another tick in the "I love it" category for facilitating a friendship with someone I was too jealous and stupid to like 20 years ago. Naturally she blogs. In fact, she is becoming a pretty big blogging deal-friends with some of the big guns and her readership is exploding. Do you know what is really cool? Instead of being eaten up by envy I'm sincerely happy I am for her.

We even remembered to photo document at the end of the visit. Thankfully Z was able to capture her amazing cleavage. Because yes, she has a smoking hot body as well. Did I mention she is smart, too? No, I'm not making her up.

This one captures us perfectly. Hot Kelly and kind of messy Karen. My cheeks aren't red because it's hot out. Um, that would be the two ciders I drank. 

Our fellas took the kids down to the creek to throw rocks and make big splashes so we could gossip in peace. Clearly they love us and want us to be happy.

My dudes were happy and tired after the visit.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Trip Down South

By far the best part of the trip down south was near the beginning when we were in Pennsylvania after we'd gotten lunch and were headed back to the highway. I am still a bit shaky when it comes to driving stick shift and I was in the wrong lane on a very steep hill. This will be a shocker, but I started melting down. There were a lot of tears. I finally was able to engage the gear shift, get back into the correct lane and turn the corner in the right direction, but I was still crying. T said in a very frank way, "Mommy! Why are you freaking out?" At least he got me laughing. At the next light I started up again, sort of grinding the gears in an unfortunate way. T called out, "Oooh! Was Mommy not careful on the cluck?" My cluck handling still does leave a lot to be desired....

The second best moment happened on day two of driving. We were barreling through Johnson City, Tennessee and T announced that he had to poop. We asked if he could hold it until we got to a bathroom and he said no problem. His bowel control is really something else for a three year old. At the next exit we pull into a BP station that looked pretty run down and I topped off the gas while Z hustled T into the men's room. As they stepped inside T, "It smells in here." Z, "Yup, it does." T, "It smells like animals in here." Z, "It kind of does." T, "Do you think there is a goat in here?" Z, "I don't know, maybe." T pointing at the toilet, "Maybe the goat is in the water." Z, "Maybe it is."

And finally, a thought about drivers in the south. I know Southerners are known for their hospitality and good manners, but they are assholes when it comes to left lane etiquette. We try to keep it about 10 miles over the speed limit. But a large section of the southern population clearly doesn't believe in speeding at all. They happily park themselves in the fast lane going 71 mph when the limit is 70 mph. And they will. not. fucking. get. over. I started narrating their thoughts to Z in a tragically bad southern accent, "Seventy one miles an hour is quite enough! Where do you have to be? I'm just saving you from yourself! You don't want to get a ticket do you?" On the drive to Winston-Salem from Asheville Z cruised up behind a car and it immediately moved into the right lane. Z and I were speechless. As we drove by I noticed the licence plate. It was Ohio. You know, where they understand driving etiquette.

 My wonderful friends K&R surprised me with cupcakes from Cappellino's Crazy Cakes in Charlottesville, VA as an early birthday present. They were delicious!

The rolling Blue Ridge Mountains in Tennessee.

This was well into the second day of driving. I couldn't believe T was still smiling. He and C were rock stars on the trip.


The birthday girl during the big celebration up in the mountains. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Birthday Post

It feels obscene to blithely continue a Mommy blog without acknowledging the events of last Friday. It feels obscene to write about what happened last Friday.


We've been traveling since Saturday. We are celebrating a milestone birthday of my Mother-in-law's in a lovely home in the mountains of North Carolina. The first travel day included more than 10 hours in the car for our family, the second more than 8. C is at the tail end of being sick. We are all fried and the boys aren't sleeping. Z and I have been up multiple hours a night since the travel began. Last night we didn't sleep from 3am till after 5am. We are lucky to be surrounded by family, lucky to have two healthy boys. And yet we are beyond exhausted.

I have been avoiding thinking about what happened on Friday. It is small and selfish, but the pain those families are experiencing is so profound that I simply cannot handle recognizing it. A month ago today I wrote this post. When my mind wanders to those parents in Connecticut it is what I think about. They had the same worries for their children. The worst thing I could possibly contemplate a month ago was the boys growing up without a parent. I simply could not or cannot think about the flip side. Those parents had the privilege of worrying about their children growing up without a parent stolen from them. Because it is a fucking privilege.

There is something cruel about watching your children grow up. You want to keep them babies forever. But the alternative to not growing up? It is literally the worst thing that could ever happen to you.

So that is what I'm thinking about today, which happens to be my 36th birthday. Yes, I'm rudely having my own birthday in the middle of the celebration for my Mother-in-law. I'm thinking about how lucky I am to worry about my sons. I am thinking about how I need to do better, to be better. We are tired and cranky. We were up for two hours in the middle of the night and I was a total bitch to the person who loves me most when he did not remember it was my birthday in the morning. Who the fuck do I think I am? Is that how a 36 year old acts? Is that the example I want to set for my children? For my 36th year I want to do better, I want to be better. I want to appreciate my family and be kinder and more patient. I want to realize that I am lucky to be up in the middle of the night with my boys. Life with two small ones is difficult. But the alternative is too painful to consider.

No pictures today. Those parents in Connecticut cannot post new pictures of their perfect children. It is a meaningless gesture, but for one day I will not post pictures of my perfect boys here.

And one more thing-the conversation about gun control does not in anyway dishonor the dead. There doesn't need to be some indeterminate passage of time before it is appropriate to discuss the issue. In fact, I'd argue the best way to honor the memories of those who died is to fight this fight. Does the Bill of Rights grant the right to bear arms? Yes. When it was written black people counted as 3/5th of a human being and women couldn't vote. I'm glad those things have changed and I'm sure that every person reading here is as well. The constitution has held up for so many years because of its flexibility. Because the founding fathers understood that a country is a living and evolving thing. I do not know what the answer is. But it involves massively restricting access to guns. That is what we can to for those who lost their lives, we can work to make sure it doesn't happen again. That work involves less guns, not more.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Oil Pulling

Last night after a meltdown in which I wept my way through making pork roast, rice pilaf, and sauteed broccoli with red pepper flakes in a little sesame oil, after I'd taken the chill pill that Z begged me to swallow, after I'd given him the laundry list of everything that was overwhelming me-everything we had to do before leaving town on Saturday, after we'd gotten the boys down including my sick little C whose temp had spiked back up to 102.8 Z joined me in the bathroom where I was swallowing my nightly pile of pills.

Me, "I've been doing something I haven't told you about for the last few days."
Z, "Oh lord."
Me, "No, it isn't anything bad." At this point I was fighting the giggles. "Um, have you heard of.." I was laughing so hard I was having trouble getting the words out, "um, oil pulling?"
Z, "What? What the fuck is that?"
Me, "It's an Ayurvedic technique."
Z, "Jesus Christ, is this some hippie shit you heard about from J?" (Yes, J-he totally threw you under the bus).
Me, "Actually, no. I read about it on the internet."
Z, "Ok, you are no longer allowed to use the internet ever again."
Me, "Why is this a big deal? You don't even know what it is! You just swish oil around in your mouth for 20 minutes a couple of times a day. It's supposed to pull out toxins and stuff and make your mouth healthier."
Z, "Gross." pause "What kind of oil?"
Me, "I've been using coconut oil. It kind of makes me gag until it liquifies, but I just do it while I'm showering. It's fine. And my mouth feels clean. And it is supposed to help with snot. You know about my snot problem."
Z, "Why do you fool around with this crazy natural shit?"
Me, "I'm sorry? I believe you quite enjoy the no shampoo situation."
Z, "Well, that isn't gross."
Me, "Whatever. I'm doing it. And now you know."
Z rolled his eyes so hard as he left the bathroom that he might have given himself a concussion.

It's been a draining week. But not in the my-mental-illness-is-making-everyone's-life-hell way, just regular everyone is sick and apprehensive about the huge holiday trip we are taking staring tomorrow way. Normal draining is kind of a relief after the post biopsy week trip to crazy town. I was diagnosed with a sinus infection on Monday. C woke with a high fever on Wednesday and was diagnosed with an ear infection. The doc terrified me because she thought he had the flu on top of it. Of course, on the way to the appointment I'd heard a piece on NPR that said thousands if not tens of thousands of Americans would die of the flu this year which did not help my mental state. I kept repeating plaintively "But he's had his flu shot! He's had his flu shot!" Evidently there are two strains going around our community that weren't in the shot...But his antibiotics are doing their thing, he is much better. Luckily it would appear the flu isn't involved.

This sweet kid was so scary sick on Wednesday. He puked his antibiotics and most of dinner all over himself. But the great news is he finally hit 20lbs on the scale at the doc's office. Only took 15 1/2 months! And I thought T was skinny... 

Sick Mommy and sick baby.

Last night C couldn't quite make it to bedtime so he snuggled with my handsome man. Speaking of Z, the two week post colposcopy/biopsy ban has been lifted. But I'm on antibiotics, so the pill might not be controlling birth. We are at the exact time of year that we conceived the two boys-four years ago and two years ago. If we were going to have a third we would be trying right now. And we are really sure that we can't handle another as much as we'd love one. Also, I have that little bleeding problem. So because the holidays seem to turn me into a fertile Myrtle we are being very careful. If we do accidentally get pregnant (and we won't) Z suggested he move into a hotel from Thanksgiving to Christmas moving forward. I think he'd risk having a third just for the kind of break the holidays would provide him. He better not be replacing my pills with sugar tabs. I saw that once on Days of Our Lives back in the 90s.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

So You Have HPV....

Just got off the phone with the doc's office. My biopsies are back and the verdict is chronic inflammation of the cervix with a side of very mild displasia. Evidently none of it is a big deal. I don't even have to go back until May when I get another Pap smear. The inflammation could be anything and the very mild displasia means I do have HPV.

Listen, I know better than this, but it made me feel really embarrassed. Because I have no filter I said to the nice nurse, "Oh. So I have an STD." She said, "Um.....yes." I desperately wanted her to know I wasn't a slut. I told her I haven't had a new sexual partner in almost 15 years and then I started to give her an awkward and completely unnecessary blow by blow of my sexual history with an emphasis on how safe I was including HIV tests. The poor woman was very patient and kind and told me they know so little about HPV. A guy can be a carrier without having it. You can get it even if you use a condom. She said that I could have gotten in during my very first sexual encounter and it stayed dormant until now. They just don't have answers.

So a couple of things. WAS I REALLY WORRIED A NURSE WOULD THINK I WAS A SLUT? What the fuck is wrong with me? Am I not a feminist? Because I will tell you what, ladies. I hear that you have HPV and I do not think you are a slut. I do not care if you like to have sex with lots of guys. If you make that choice it is your choice and you should do whatever the hell you want with your body and face no judgement from society, particularly no judgment different from what a man would face. I do not care if you don't care for sex, or are a virgin, or have had very few sexual partners. It's your business. You can do whatever the hell you want with yourself and that doesn't change the fact that I'd love to go get a drink with you and shoot the shit.

Also, why am I embarrassed and ashamed by this? Do I feel embarrassment for my friends who have it? Do I think they should be ashamed? No. In fact, I've sincerely told a number of friends that it isn't a big deal. Suddenly I have it and I'm a great big hairy hypocrite. So I've decided I'm not going to put up with myself today. This is not a big deal and I'm not going to wallow or feel like I've done something wrong in my past. I'm comfortable with every choice I've made because they all have combined to bring me to right now. I have a marriage I'm proud of and I've fought damn hard for. I have two adorable, frustrating, perfect for me boys. I've battled back from severe mental illness. I'm (dare I say it?) happy. So I have HPV. Who gives a shit?

A bunch of my girlfriends have told me they have HPV so it stands to reason a bunch more also have it and have decided to keep that info private. Your body, your info, you get to tell or not tell who you want-I'm not saying you should shout it from the rooftops like I am. (If a future possible employeer is reading this I promise that my HPV will not get in the way of my ability to perform my job! I'm a people pleaser! I will work very hard for you!) So here is my public servie announcement. You have HPV, friend? Hey, so do I! It is no big deal. You are lucky you were diagnosed because now you can work with your healthcare provider to stay healthy. Tell your young women friends to get vaccinated. If you have sons be sure they are vaccinated as well so they don't become carriers. I'm so glad you found out you have it so you can be proactive about your health. And I look forward to the day when all Americans have health coverage so they can be just as protected as we are.

Hey! This is me! And I've got HPV. But that is just the tiniest part of who I am. I also just made some delicious granola (thanks for the recipe, A!) and I desperately need a hair cut. Oh, and I'm crazy.

Do you see the fear in C's eyes?

Rocking hearing protection in Daddy's shop. Safety first!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Tomorrow I call my doc's to find out the results from the biopsies of my cervix. And the funny thing is I'm not even nervous. The colposcopy looked normal--I'm inferring that if I do, in fact, have HPV it hasn't developed much. So we've caught it before it's a problem and long before it turns into cancer. We'll be able to fix it. Or I don't have it at all. Either way I'm fine.

It has been a week since I've had a chill pill. Mustard and coffee grounds are no longer exiting my vagina. My period has come and gone. I'm mostly fine. That first week after the procedure was very far from fine. It scares me that I can fall apart so completely. But at least there was a reason this time. At least it was finite. At least I was able to talk about it at therapy and come up with a new plan. Looks like we are going to give a version of cognitive behavioral therapy another spin. I tried that method of treatment years ago and it did nothing for me. Maybe this time will be different.

One of the myriad of shitty things about mental illness is all treatment is a crap shoot. A certain drug might not work for you and work perfectly for your best friend. But the worst part is a drug might work brilliantly for you and then 5 years later it might do nothing, or actually do harm to your mental state. I am willing to give cognitive behavioral therapy another spin because it is talk therapy-even if it doesn't work it won't make me worse.

We aren't going to add a daily drug at this point. First of all I'm still nursing. My therapist and I are both uncomfortable starting something new while C is breastfeeding. But she has been bringing up SSRIs for over a year. I've been resistant. Zoloft made a huge difference for the better to my quality of life. But luvox and paxil intensified the anxiety to unbearable levels. SSRIs aren't the only psychotropics I've tried. Abilify was the worst drug I've ever been on. I've been on a laundry list of others. I can't even remember their names. I can't remember so much from the time surrounding my breakdown. I hated the drugs then, but I hated everything. We were so desperate to get me better I became willing to try whatever they threw at me.

During our last session we were discussing my reluctance to consider a maintenance drug even though my anxiety has skyrocketed this year. She asked how I would feel about a daily drug if I had asthma. I told her I do have asthma. She asked what I take and I told her I take singulair every night. She asked how often I needed to use my inhaler. I told her hardly ever. And she just looked at me.

I got it. I get it. And I have a responsibility to be as well as I can for my family. There are options besides SSRIs. I'd like to start there. I don't want to risk becoming more anxious while my job is caring for my sons. And I need to be honest-I don't want to deal with the weight gain and complete loss of sex drive. That stuff matters. When I was suicidal and unable to function as a human it mattered way less-but I'm not anywhere near there now. For me the SSRI side effects are just too overwhelming.

Damn, this mental illness game is a pain in the ass. It's work to get well, it's work to stay well. I'm trying to remind myself that it will be so much more work if I just ignore it. Because I'm tempted. And I'm tired. It is so easy to let the feelings of worthlessness settle into my bones. Thank fucking god for my boys. I look at them and I know I can't let myself believe I am worthless. They deserve so much more.

Sadly, the X Wing Fighter has been destroyed by friendly fire....

Playing in Daddy's shop. A lot of "NO Charlie!" from T. But progress.

I want to be well for both of my handsome guys in this picture. The big one puts up with a lot. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Saturday Was Local Day

In the last few years there has been a shift in the food movement from organic to local as a "the answer" for what ails our unsustainable food system. The "buy local" movement seemed like a good one to get behind, yet it always sort of made me uncomfortable. On the one hand I enjoy buying coffee from the guys who own the shop two streets away from my house. I'm happy to support their endeavor (although if they actually had the coffee in stock a little more frequently I would feel even better about patronizing them), I like seeing the crazy primitive set up they have for roasting-a cast iron capsule from 1906 with half of a huge barrel in front of it. There are days when I run in for an afternoon latte and the Roaster is standing three feet behind the espresso machine shoveling steaming beans into the air, staring intently at them as they fall back into the barrel in front of the breeze of a cheap box fan. I wish I knew what he was looking for-what made them "done". I like that the huge burlap bags that the green beans come in are labeled organic and fair trade. I like that keeping my money in their business helps them stay in the neighborhood and creates a bit of healthy competition so Wegmans is not our only option when it comes to buying decent coffee.

So what is the problem with "buy local"? The zealotry of the movement, those who try to source everything they consume from some arbitrary line in the sand-the 20 mile meal, or 50 mile meal, or 100 mile meal. Keeping every dollar that local-saying goodbye to coffee even if it is roasted 2 blocks away because it sure as hell wasn't grown anywhere near central New York makes me incredibly uncomfortable. Because what about the people that grow the beans organically and ethically in Costa Rica for example? Should we not support them because they aren't our neighbors? There seems to be a fine line between fervent localism and isolationism. Or xenophobia.

Ok, supporting people all over the world matters. But is that the answer? What about food miles? How many calories of energy in terms of fossil fuels are expended for every calorie produced meant for human consumption? Isn't there a compelling case for buying local in those terms? Of course. And that is the point. It is an incredibly complex issue that really can't be simplified with a single catch phrase and mission. Or fixed by devout dogma focused on one issue.

And that is what I learned in school this semester-there are no simple answers, just more questions. But I think that is the ultimate point of nearly every class in an undergraduate setting. In grad school you start looking at complex answers and as you pursue a doctorate you start to try to create solutions.

Sorry, sorry I know this isn't my usual Mommy blogger/anxiety blogger/diarrhea blogger fare. It's been on my mind since my class wrapped up this week. And then yesterday we went to an awesome Craft Fair. We got several Christmas presents from local artists. Afterwards we drove to a Candy Shop down the street. It is fourth generation owned and operated, which is pretty cool. But the candy itself is delicious and that is what really matters. We were unable to muster much restraint when it came to picking out treats. I'm enjoying a potato chip enrobed in peanut butter and chocolate right now. Yesterday was our friend's birthday and she and I headed to a local spa in the late afternoon to get massages. It was a local day all around. And while buying local isn't my passion, while it isn't going to solve every issue surrounding food and economic justice it felt damn good. As a bonus it made me feel excited about the holidays for the first time this season. Or that might just be the after effects of the massage talking...

Happy Birthday, J! The eggs in the cake were local. The chocolate and butter not so much....

Using his stool to pee like a big boy. He is pretty damn excited about this development. 

Sawdust butt!

My handsome man at the drill press. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Hole In the Wall

Can we pretend that I am the kind of Mom that is together enough to get or make presents for T's teachers? Thanks, I needed that. I feel fictional awesome now.

His last day of school for the semester is tomorrow. Because his preschool is a lab for undergrad and grad students it starts the week after the semester begins and ends the week before exams. A couple of weeks ago I told myself to do something about gifts for the end of the semester. And I earnestly answered myself "Yes! This time things would be different and I will do something!" But there are so many teachers and so many student teachers and I suck. So...nada.

Also, I have no idea what I'm going to do with T next week. He needs school and structure to burn off his endless energy. Even with school he is a destructive tasmanian devil. This morning I was in the kitchen and I heard banging upstairs. I assumed he was in his room. He bangs on shit all the time. His brother was in the living room so I knew that he wasn't banging on C so what kind of trouble could he be in?

Um, he could be using a wooden block to pound a hole in the plaster wall. 

Who does that? How could he think I would not totally freak out when I saw it? And you know what? I walked right by it, didn't even notice. He pointed it out to me. At which point I did, in fact, freak.

It made me feel like a complete failure at this Mom business. If he is a little turd doesn't it stand to reason that I'm raising a little turd? He is my job. And I am sucking. I want him to be a kind and productive member of society. Am I not modeling that behavior? I certainly don't pound holes in the walls of our home. Ok, the house is a fucking wreck. We are filthy slobs. Is that why he thinks it is cool to destroy things? I just don't know. What I do know is I'm every bit as frustrated at myself as I am at him. I'm his primary care giver. If he isn't behaving in a way that I find acceptable it is a reflection on me. 

Ok. I fully realize I am reveling in an extravagant pity party right now. I've got another fucking cold. And I'm a baby when I'm sick. I am a gross, grumpy, resentful pile of pissed off mess who desperately misses being able to call in sick for work. 

How about a small bit of positivity? My last class of the semester was yesterday and it was not a disaster. The practical exam was pretty darn cool. We drew numbers and had to pick a vegetable in order from our CSA basket. Then we were assigned a protein and a starch and we had to make a meal with those components plus a marinade for the protein. The professors tasted the meal and we were graded out of 200 points. I won't bore you with the details, but I got 200. And it felt fucking awesome. Unless I totally screwed up the assignment due last week I think I got an A in the class. And damn it, I'm proud of myself. 

This kid is lucky he's so cute. Otherwise he'd be looking for a new home right about now.

Looks like we are in for more of the same behavior with this nut job.

The most patient cat in the universe gets a hug. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


On the drive to T's school this morning T and I were rocking out to the CD, singing our hears out and it hit me in that exact moment that I was happy. It scares the hell out of me when things get bad enough that I forget what happy feels like. Getting through the day hasn't been this hard for a long time. When the anxiety and fear get completely settled into my bones I stop trying to be happy. I just want to feel nothing. I haven't been sleeping properly since the colposcopy even though I want sleep so much, so I can escape the fear that I'll start bleeding and won't stop.

During the procedure I told my doc how scared I was of the bleeding. He said that eventually the bleeding stops. Always. I said, "Yeah, but sometimes it stops when you are dead." "Well," he said, "that is still stopping." True, Doc, True. But not very comforting.

This morning happy felt foreign and startling. It was warm out when the boys and I walked to the car in our driveway. We were only wearing sweatshirts. And it was sunny. Hasn't been sunny here in quite a while. The sun and the music and being in the car with my boys, that is what made me happy. And for a moment it was clear that the fear and anxiety isn't me. It is something that happens to me. But I can strive for more than feeling numb. I can try to make it back to happy.

Tomorrow is going to suck ass. The guilt I feel for missing class last Wednesday doesn't make sense even to me. Tomorrow is the last class of the semester. Because it marks a week since I had the colposcopy it is already ruined for me. I'm sure I will make a fool of myself, or have some sort of accident in the kitchen, or start passing huge blood clots, or have an epic and public anxiety attack. The goddamned procedure that has fucked with my ability to function as a human being has also stolen the enjoyment I get from my class. Or rather the procedure has allowed the anxiety to gain a foothold.

And the anxiety isn't whispering anymore. She is talking in a firm and reasonable voice. She is acting like my friend. She is telling me that she is so proud of me for trying this fall. She really wanted me to succeed. But isn't it time to stop? Doesn't it hurt too much to try? Wouldn't it be better for my family if I just accepted who I was? Why do I insist on trying to change things? This week has been hell on Z. He can't handle work, and parenting, and a crazy wife all at the same time. The anxiety asks me if I haven't noticed how overwhelmed and frustrated he is. She asks me why I am doing this to him. She asks me how long I think he can stand dealing with me before he wants out. She says that the boys deserve more from their mother. She tells me that everything would go back to normal if I just capitulated. It's winter. Hell, everyone disappears in the winter in Syracuse  People might not even notice I've given up. She tells me it is honest and honorable to admit defeat.

Well bullshit. I felt happy in the car this morning. I felt happy and it was real and it was me. Z isn't going to leave me because I've had a shitty week. The boys aren't going to be damaged for life because I've been emotionally withdrawn for seven days. I am going to the class tomorrow if it fucking kills me.

Fuck you, anxiety. You are not my friend. I am going to get through the rest of the physical recovery from the admittedly minor procedure that has thrown me for a complete loop. I am going to work on not being so embarrassed that I can't seem to handle a colposcopy with the ease that other women in my life told me they handled it. And on top of all that I'm going to sign up for a class next semester. So seriously fuck you. Fuck. You. Fuck you.

This morning T surrounded his Daddy with a bunch of stuffed animals. Because he cares.

My mini-me says, "Blast off, motherfuckers." I kid, I kid. We aren't teaching him that word until he goes to kindergarden.  

Recreating scenes from Star Wars while watching Star Wars. Because we are meta like that.

Monday, December 3, 2012


Monday is trash night. Z and I stood in the kitchen and stared at each other as the kids screamed and screamed and tried to kill one another in the living room. In the last few minutes C had bitten Z, T, and one of the cats. 

"I'll do the litter," I said.

I trudged downstairs and started scooping a week's worth of cat pee and shit. And I realized that I volunteered to do this job I despise because I wanted a break from my children. 

Happy Monday, people. Happy Monday.

Blast off, motherfuckers.

This morning I explained for what felt like the millionth time that the light saber is taken away for the whole day if he hits his brother with it. 

This older woman has completely bewitched my young man. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Rules in Crazytown

We went to see Paula Poundstone perform last night. It was a hell of a lot of fun. She sort of riffs on what is going on with the audience for about 30% of it. It was a two hour show and over a half hour of it improved? And actually funny? Pretty damn impressive.

I'm glad we went, but I'm not going to lie. I wanted to jump out of my seat and run to the car so I could get home for most of the evening. I didn't take a chill pill and the anxiety was bad. I've got all these subdermal cysts all over my body. They are incredibly sexy. During the show I was absentmindedly rolling one in my thigh around a bit and it sort of felt like a bruise. I realized that I have cancer. I have this realization with astonishing frequency. But that doesn't change how scared it makes me.

Since last night I've been operating under the assumption that I have tumors all over my body. Lately I've been getting really full after eating a regular amount of dinner. The back of my throat feels like it is closing up and I get a little nauseous. These two things suddenly seemed to have a lot to do with each other and the cancer. And I've figured out that I don't have HPV, but the cancer in the rest of my body has somehow caused the Pap smear to give wonky results. The really fucked up part is this all makes perfect sense to me. And I look at the boys and want to cry. I look at them and think I'm not going to see them grow up.

Tonight at dinner I casually mentioned to Z that I believe I have cancer. "Not cervical cancer, I know that would make sense. It's the cysts again. They are tumors."

Z, "Oh. That is really good to know."
Me, "Yup."......"This is a pretty big problem."
Z, "I know. It is very serious. What do you think we should do? You know what? I think it is too late. I think you should just give up."
Me, "Whatever."

Later we were getting the boys ready for bed. Me, "So there is another thing you should be aware of. You know, health-wise. With me."

Z, "Hmmm?"
Me, "I'm developing an infection on the biopsy sites from the colposcopy. When you come home tonight (he is at a uke show around the corner from our house right now) you should probably make sure I'm not passed out with a fever. If I am please get me to the hospital."
Z, "Why? I think it will be too late to help."
Me, "That is fucking ridiculous. If you get me to the hospital in time I think I'll make it."
Z, "No. I'm going to throw you in Meadowbrook Creek."
Me, "WHAT? Why?"
Z, "If it looks like you were murdered the insurance payoff will be bigger. For the boys. I have to think of money for the boys."
Me, "What insurance policy? We have health insurance but we are not nearly together enough to have life insurance. Unless you took out a great big policy on me secretly."
Z, ""
Me, "So don't be an asshole and take me to the hospital so they can save my life!"
Z, "But they are just going to diagnose you with the cancer we talked about earlier. And it's going to be a pain in the ass to arrange getting you there in the middle of the night. You know, with the boys."
Me, "Call J and C! They will watch the boys! I don't care that it is inconvenient! You need to save my life!"
Z, "MmmHmm....You do know that your pants are particularly crazy tonight, right?"
Me, "Yup. Probably a good idea for me to take a chill pill."
Z, "No shit, Sherlock."

This is how we deal with my crazy. I tell him what I'm thinking and he makes fun of me and I'm part of the joke as well and we can laugh at the stupidity of it all.  The is the way that we have decided to navigate my anxiety-treat it lightly, don't take it seriously, don't give it power, laugh a lot. And maybe, just maybe we'll defuse it. Underneath all the bantering is me telling Z I'm scared. I'm not doing well. The anxiety is bad. It is really super bad. Underneath all that is Z telling me he is with me. He hears that I am having a hard time. But he will not put up with my doomsday flights of fancy. He needs to remind me that it's not me, it's the anxiety lying to me.

It took years to get to this place. And I'm so grateful. When I think something terrible is going to happen I feel like I'm keeping an awful secret. When I can share that secret with him he is able to bear part of it for me. It's a big ask on my part. But he does it. And he makes me laugh at the same time.

I wish I wasn't so scared right now. I read Goodnight Moon to C every night. One of my many rules is I need to read it perfectly, no stumbling over any words, nothing out of order. Tonight I accidentally skipped the "Goodnight Room" page and went right to "Goodnight Moon" I couldn't believe I did something so stupid. As the word moon came out of my mouth I knew it was wrong. And I won't have a chance to fix it, to get it right for another 24 hours. I've brought something bad onto myself by messing up. When I'm unwell I need to follow the rules even more perfectly. They are what keeps me safe.

So if something terrible happens before tomorrow night you know why. And I'm sorry. I'll try to do better next time.

One more thing. I don't think it is cute to be flip about cancer. But we aren't being flip about cancer, rather the anxiety. That's what at the root of all this. Anything we can do to attack it, undercut it, devalue it, weaken it we need to do it. If flippancy works, well hell. We've got to do it.

Me, "Thomas, where are your pants?" T, "They have pee in them!" 

My three boys working to get the Christmas lights up 

Our sweet little house looks so pretty dressed up for Christmas. Please ignore the pumpkins on the porch. I know, I know. 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I Need a Nap

This morning there was a story about the screenwriter of the movie Hoosiers on NPR. I listen to the radio when I shower and if that shower takes place in the 7 o'clock hour on Saturday morning the weekly sports show Only A Game is on. I know, it makes me sad, too. So they play a clip from the movie, which I've never seen. Which I don't even know is a basketball movie. They play a clip where the coach is rallying the team by having them measure the height of the basketball net and reminding them it is the same height as the net back home. And I am just getting out of the shower dripping wet, standing there frozen listening to Gene Hackman inspire a group of high school boys and I am weeping. Um, did I mention that I don't give a shit about basketball and I've never seen the movie? I am very tired. And perhaps a wee bit emotional. Which means I've found myself crying a lot over the last few days.

There was a sweet spot from my late teens through becoming a parent when I slept easily and well. No longer scared at night, no pesky kids to wake me. All that went out the window when T was born. Now I am scared again at night, scared to be responsible for another human, scared to realize I'm the grown up, scared something terrible is going to happen because we have so much to lose now. And the bleeding. I'm scared of bleeding. Since the Colposcopy I have been a wreck. I'm not getting a hell of a lot of sleep. Instead I lie in bed, my stomach clenched tight, cold sweat on my forehead and I wait for that terrible feeling of a huge blood clot slowly snaking its way out of me. The dark feels menacing. The fear is suffocating. And I am exhausted but I can't relax enough to sleep. Instead I'm up and running to the bathroom just to check there is no blood over and over and over.

For the record there haven't been any blood clots. I think I'm healing as I should be, the only things exiting my body are those magnificent coffee grounds at this point. And that should wind down by about Wednesday. Just in time for my period. I'm worried I'll be too scared to get a good night's sleep for another week and a half. I just want this whole business to be over.

When my high school friend visited the night of Halloween she wondered out loud if my crazy was really that bad. Z looked at her and laughed a little wildly. When he calmed down he assured her it was. The thing is I've always been able to act normal. Even during the worst of the breakdown if I managed to show up in public I'd put what another friend called my "game face" on. It didn't end up doing me any favors. I just seemed like a giant flake. I still don't leave the house if I can't pretend that I am perfectly fine. I can confess the worst parts of myself on the internet, but I can't bear to be anything other than composed in public. It's ridiculous and hypocritical and frankly incredibly exhausting.

Instead I have days like yesterday. Where I drop T at school, go to the bank and run some errands, go to Target, pick T up, take T back to school for a party to celebrate the school's renovation. All that time in public I am normal as normal can be. I seem relaxed and calm. Inside I'm just trying to get through it all without having explosive diarrhea or embarrassing myself in some other way. And then at night, when I feel completely alone, it all goes to hell. Anxiety disorders are stupid. Also, I need a nap.

The little guy can't wait to go to school with his big brother next year.

Seriously? Again? And with a new roll?

Someone loves Daddy kisses. 

Friday, November 30, 2012

Night Off

Yesterday in therapy Z and I were yet again discussing my increased anxiety this fall. He asked what I thought helped when I was working at Whole Foods because my anxiety disappeared. First I told him that my anxiety most certainly didn't disappear. I was better than I've been in my adult life, but every single time I had to travel to regional for training or meetings (and it was pretty frequent) I desperately tried to get out of it. I also took a terrifying amount of Imodium during that period and a lot of Klonopin as well. He immediately got it. The anxiety wasn't as crippling, but it was still there trying to take over. Still, I was in pretty good shape. The structure of the job is what helped. That and I seemed to be ok at it. At least I got promoted and it made me feel good. I also worked for some people I really respected and that made me want to produce for them.

It's why going back to school feels like such a good idea. If I have structure I'm a hard worker. I'm a people pleaser who desperately wants to be perceived as intelligent. If I'm in your class I'm going to do the readings, I'm going to participate in discussion, I'm going to torture myself over the papers. The class this fall was a terrific start. But when I start to reengage the anxiety always increases. That coupled with the nonstop nature of this parenting business, the lack of backup we have here so far from family, Z's more than full time work life, and I'm really near the edge.

Z told me I need to take more breaks, he said I should get a hotel room this week. Just me. Alone and able to sleep an uninterrupted 8 or even 10 hours. On top of that there are two movies I really want to see and he told me to just go and do it. He'd be with the boys. I just sat there paralyzed, unable to accept. He asked why I brush him off when he offeres to give me a break.

I do. He offeres all the time, sincere offers. And I always have an excuse for why it won't work. Let me tell you what, I'm not a martyr. I'm a selfish jackass. So what the hell is going on? It sort of hit me when he asked last night. I was terrified to spend the night alone in a hotel. Because what if I fuck it up? It's my one chance to decompress, what if I can't fall asleep? Or have an anxiety attack? Or have a stomach bug? What if there is a hotel fire and I get zero rest?

And more importantly what if I get home the next morning and I'm just as overwhelmed and angry and anxious? What if I've used up my time away and it does no good? Z and our shrink were awesome. They told me I'd absolutely be just as overwhelmed. But we needed to start somewhere. It felt like a huge weight was lifted off of me. I might go to a hotel this week, I might not. Either way I have permission to still be a basket case after I get some rest. There is no expectation that a night a hotel is going to cure me. And for the record, I'm not looking for that permission from Z or my shrink (OK, a little from my shrink-I am a people pleaser), I need it from myself.

T's school is having a reopening party today to celebrate a renovation this summer. I made an effort when I got dressed this morning. Boots with a 2" heel. The gold on the shirt sparkles. I might put on lip gloss. See, Z? I'm trying to be fancy!

Z and T shave together in the mornings. Z puts some shaving cream on T's chest and T carefully shaves it off.

What am I going to do with this kid?