My older daughter, J, loves nothing better than to explain things, and her soliloquies are often so amusing that I wish I could capture their essence on the blog, but I appear unable to recall conversations well enough to portray even their gist.

There is one from a couple of weeks ago that is staying with me no matter what I do:
It was early, and J thought I had snuck off to work, as I sometimes do, without waking her. I overheard her explaining to her sister that Mama had gone already, and Mama has to work, “and sometimes she needs to work extra hours so that she won’t lose her job. She has to work extra hard so that she won’t lose her job, that’s what that means.”

She continued, after an interjection I couldn’t hear by her sister: “Losing her job means that she won’t be able to go to work anymore, and she’ll need to find another place to work. Yeah, well, she tries really hard but she needs to try really hard, because she has to keep her job to look after us. We have to understand, because Mama is needs to not lose her job.”

That was about four repetitions of “lose her job” more than I wanted to hear. She’s a sensitive soul, and takes things to heart, but I had sort of hoped she hadn’t internalized ALL of the angst that is going on around here – as I try to progress from contract to permanent employee. So much for that faint hope!

Naturally, she has her own understanding of what is going on. It probably helps her to verbalize it to her sister.

I have no idea what A thinks of all this. J keeps things inside, but eventually speaks about things. A, in contrast, acts out. And she’s been doing a fair bit of that lately. So I am concerned. Though both of them seem pretty ecstatically happy most of the time, the dull ache from worrying about next year’s job is accompanied by its twin, the worry for the girls’ well-being in the face of family life frought with uncertainty and stress about the future.

Things are good right now, but it is only now that I can look at my family’s year. I’m hard pressed not to be really scathing with myself about it. However, I take one big breath and another and realize that only by chipping away at my fears can I build a future worth having.

Meanwhile, A is getting better and better at speaking, J seems to have more confidence every day, and well, we’re just a family moving forward.


Any time at all

Wednesdays, we have a standing arrangement with our baby-sitter; she comes over for an hour or so, Beloved Husband and I get out for a walk together.

This week, we weren’t feeling well, either of us, and we decided to go to the little mall near us instead of marching around outside in the cold. BH had some toys he wanted me to see at the department store at one end of the mall, and then we’d check out the grocery store at the other end. At the department store, I did a full tour of the toy shelves tucked into the furthest corner of the department store, while BH moved on to the electronic section closer to the mall doors

That’s where he was when he heard the shots. Being him, he recognized the sound. But, unusual for him, he discounted the possibility. I didn’t hear a thing, and I met him in electronics just as staff closed the mall doors, not too unusual at 8:45 . Then, when we made our purchase, the outside door was also shut. The store was locked down. After a very brief delay, the doors were opened; we went out, and then into the rest of the mall to do our other shopping.

Two people had been shot to death in one of the mall stores, as it turned out, men who were involved in drug distribution.

Apparently a purposeful shooting, and we were at no virtually no risk, though it shocks me to think what if we had finished our perusing a little earlier, and had been wandering past as the gunman tried to escape? I can vividly picture that going very badly.

But what I really did see is bothering me. As we entered the mall, about half-way along, a woman ran past us, with so clear an expression of pain on her face that BH remarked on it. I made some comment on stupid high heels. She ran down to the crime scene and began to cry. I pulled BH on, to do our shopping, but I can’t get her out of my mind. Presumably she knew the deceased, but is she deeply connected? Married to one of them? How is she now?

This kind of thing doesn’t happen often in our city. It isn’t a big place or a highly crime-ridden one. But that undercurrent is there. And, crime aside, life can end abruptly. I’m hugging my kids and BH a little harder than usual this week.

My daughter made me a flower in ER yesterday.

I got home from a long work day at 7 last night. By 8 we were at the hospital. J tripped on a blanky she was wearing as a cape – while running. The little grooves between the hardwood planks opened her chin when she crashed to the floor. The cut, although small, was deep, and flappy enough to warrant stitches. I did the rocking and cuddling with icepack, and BH looked up care options, which turned out to be:  back to the hospital I nominally work for, or to urgent care, which might turn us away as they often reach capacity before closing time.
I chose the Children’s hospital, and I’m glad I did, after seeing the skill that the doc employed in cleaning, taping and gluing the wound. J will have only the tiniest of crescent scars, with any luck.

She was a trooper. I took her in and talked to her about what was happening, and what we could expect, and she was much more concerned about what was happening to the other people around us. There was one huge man, bigger than my (sizeable) BH, with a much smaller woman. I wondered where their child was, or if maybe it was his little sibling (her younger child, I guessed) who they were there for. Imagine my surprise when the big man said he was 15 years old! We made friends with 2 babies and their families.

Then, J’s dad joined us around 10, having put A to bed and found a sitter. The nurses put some freezing on J’s wound, and we waited some more. Eventually we were seen by a doc, but in the meantime one volunteer gave J crayons and pictures to colour, and another gave her a flower and showed her how to make one from tissue paper and a pipe cleaner. J, by that time, was worried about her sister, and decided she would give hers to A, and that I could take the other one and put it on my wall at work. She loved her hospital bracelet, so we told her she could leave it on so she could show her friends at daycare. We had time to reflect on the yin and yang of things – had it been any worse, we would have got out of there sooner.

While we waited, we sat, and cuddled, and BH and I chatted about the real estate magazine he brought in with him. J only complained a little about being tired a few minutes before we saw the doctor, and once when we had to wait again in the procedure room for the exam table to be cleaned. But, mostly, she was soaking up all the new things, and enjoying the full attention of both parents.

A strange way to find some family time, but you take what you can get.

It’s snot impossible…

Seriously, where does all the mucous come from?
BH thought I was kidding when I asked. He pointed out that it is pretty much concocted on-site (the implication being: after all, it isn’t an operation that can be out-sourced overseas or anything). Thanks for the help, honey.
I mean I understand that the mucous membranes create it, but who thought they could produce this much. I mean really!
Sorry, it just is a topic that is pretty much front and centre in my mind these days. I’ll step back a bit:

My early tentative good feelings have been borne out:  Spring has come a month early to these parts. We had a magnificent Easter, the sun came forth and pulled flowers out of the ground in front of our very eyes!
We had our first annual Easter Egg Hunt (held on Good Friday – all about the chocolate, nothing about the liturgy) with a great turnout of littles, bigs and in-betweens. That worked out fabulously – everyone contributed: my best friend supplied not only good cheese, great and abundant chocolate, but also fabulous white sangria! (have I mentioned that’s our summer’s project at the Treehouse? Sangria perfecting? Ah, yes, we have lofty goals!) The rest of the weekend passed in a blur, with more sunshine and a visit from darling brother and his dog.

Then, the coughing started. The kids had it first, of course, but man, when it got to me, it hit hard. The kids trouped off to their new daycare, and I collapsed. Hours at a stretch of exhausted sleep – not a moment of luxuriating with a good book or anything.  How do single or stay-at-home parents manage? I struggled through the weekend, thinking I was getting better, only to collapse again on Monday. If there wasn’t someone to take the kids for a while I don’t know what I would have done. After that,  I worried about work so much while I was off that I possibly came back prematurely. But hey, I sound so awful I get a lot of sympathy on conference calls. This may or may not be balanced by the alarmed looks at in-person meetings while I hack up a lung.

In other news, Monday BH is orchestrating the possibly final part of our move, with professional movers (!). I don’t recommend the convenience of having two houses for an extended period. It makes moving  pretty much death by a thousand cuts. I would rather we had found the time to just devote to the move and have it done. Although I must point out,  I’m not doing any of the move, just trying to set up the usual household systems etc. However,  I am loving living in our new house, love the light and space, and trying to track the kids down in the far reaches of the garden. (Note to self: dark or green clothes, no matter how fetching, will no longer be purchased for fear of losing the littles amongst the greenery. Everyone should have my problems. )

My only real problem with the new place is not as I expected, that I feel out of place due to snootiness of neighbourhood (turns out, I have a very strong “fuck-em if they can’t take a hick” attitude) but guilt. I have always been priviledged, I know this. I grew up with great advantages, education, health, oportunities etc, but this, this new place is ridiculous. I wonder if I can get over the need to apologize for my good fortune?

Last night the girls got haircuts. J is cuter than a button with a short bob that shows off her heavy tresses, while A’s fine hair makes her look remarkably like the kid in Les Miserables posters – except possibly better fed. When I woke J this morning, I couldn’t help exclaiming again over how grown-up she looked. She reached up and felt her bare neck and said “and its still there”. Yep, it wasn’t an elaborate haircutting dream sequence, honey.

Back at work, I continue to try to string together effective sentences while my synapses are clearly mired in this gelatinous goo. On Fridays, my workload seems doable. The rest of the time, I feel like I may or may not make it to the end of May. Perhaps I could find someway to hang on to this hopefulness the rest of the week?

What I’ve learned

Work in general: If you lug home 4 files over the weekend, you need a fifth to do the work.

Physical fitness: Any woman can have the body of a 21-year-old. She just has to buy him enough drinks first. (It was pointed out to me that the above is a direct corollary of the fact that everyone gets cuter in proportion to how close it is to closing time. However,  I prefer to think of it, instead, as a fresh, charming thought – and perhaps hope for the future!)

Conspiracy theory: There is clearly a diuretic in hand cream. Otherwise why do you need to use the toilet (and thus wash your hands again) as soon as you put it on?

It’s all about timing:

  • My phone is programmed somehow not to ring unless and until I am in the shower or otherwise unable to answer it – particularly if I’m waiting for a call.
  •  The children know that the best time for crises is when mom is in a rush. 
  • Computers like to get your attention in a similar way. Crashes are in direct proportion to how badly you really need the material right away. 
  • Any communication confusion between my husband and me is pretty much guaranteed to occur when my patience is at its thinnest. (gee, I wonder why?)

[There are correlaries to this last: 1) Ergo, I attempt to remain silent, though deadly, when feeling frayed.  Which often leads to a point  where really, all that is left is 2) quiet hallway sex: passing one another in the hall, muttering “fuck you”.]

AND – perhaps most important of all:

Growing older is inevitable.
Staying immature is an art form.

Words to live by.

More or less awesome

My husband, nuts as he does drive me, is worthy of note for his many fine characteristics.
He has an enviable talent for concentrated thought. He can strategize several levels ahead of where he is at the moment, holding the outcomes for numerous eventualities in his head at once – a skill learned in true brainiac style: playing chess. He is no lily-livered nerd, though. He is meticulous and capable with tools and materials, engines, motors and machines. He will stand his ground against all comers – and in fact actively pursue an arguement, and win, where right is on the line – especially if he feels the need to protect or defend one of his own.

He is painfully loyal, honest as the day is long and has an ethical streak that causes him no end of grief.

In short, a fine man.

The “but”, you ask? 
Try living with this paragon. He brooks no quarter, demands that if you need something you stand up for it, and believes there is no job worth doing half-assed.   He has problems valuing the experiential, the esthetic or otherwise non-quantitative. 

Above all, he thinks outside the box, demands more of himself than anyone else, and adores his kids. I’m grateful to have him in my life, and can’t imagine a better father for our children.

I just couldn’t let the previous post stand, unremarked. This living with other humans is difficult, but quality always is.

Count to ten… deep breath…

My best friend, who writes Mothermind has listed a delightful mama mantra, that asserts, amongst other things, that

I love my husband… So try not to kill him. Or divorce him ” .

There’s a statement that bears repeating – a comendable thought, and practice.

But for me, motivation to not irreparably fray the bonds of matrimony lies somewhere closer to:

Life with him as an EX-husband would be much, much worse than this.”

Not the most romantic phrase, perhaps, but there is none truer.

This isn’t, actually, a complaint.  A mere statement of fact.
And one that keeps me from throwing the towel in, when all else seems hopeless.

Plan A B C D E …. R

Well, Internets, since my last installment, things went somewhere hot in a handbasket, house-plan wise, but after a very long last night, we have a plan again.
We’re moving.
Purchases pending, but it’s looking like there are options.
That probably sounds too optimistic. Coming to grips with the fact that all our original plans are not doable was a bit of a watershed. I’m trying to hold on to the belief  that we should be proud of accomplishing a compromise.
That is not to say there haven’t been a lot of disappointments and angry, hurt feelings along the way.

And not to say that all things are rosey, but maybe,  just maybe, this is a good thing.