Friday, July 27, 2007

Crazy Days

It has not been a good week.

It’s not that anything really bad happened. It was just chaotic and exhausting. Work has been unpleasant for a variety of reasons. My house is a mess. I’ve got about a bazillion (okay, more like eight) errands to do this weekend. I keep telling myself that life gets easier and things will slow down, but I’m beginning to think that I’m fooling myself.

As time goes by, it seems like there’s always MORE to do instead of LESS. It’s the nature of the beast, I suppose. The beast called life.

I remember thinking when I was pregnant, I would be less tired once the baby got here. Then my daughter was born and all hell broke loose—in a good way! I think being tired during pregnancy is just the body’s way of preparing itself for the months (or years) of exhaustion ahead.

I don’t mind the chaos. It’s just that I thought things would get easier as she got older. And things aren’t harder. They’re just busier. I’m no longer getting up with her four times a night to feed her, but now I’m chasing her around the house all day. And can someone please explain how I haven’t lost the rest of my baby weight with all the chasing I do? And how can my 2-year-old can out run me? My legs are longer, but she is really, really fast!

I’m no longer washing bottles or cleaning baby food off the floor, but now I’m cleaning up toy cups and food from her play kitchen. Instead of trying to find time to paint the bathroom, I’m cleaning up finger paint off the floor. And the sink. And the towels. Instead of snapping up onesies after a diaper change, I’m hurrying as fast as I can to un-snap jeans so she can use the toilet.

I don’t even know where the time has gone. I remember being told over and over again while I was pregnant that time would just fly by once the baby arrived. And it’s true! Now, don’t get me wrong…there are days that seem to drag on and on. Like when she’s sick and I’m cleaning up the fourth puddle of baby puke since we got up—and only an hour has gone by! But for the most part, I feel like she arrived last week, and she’s two years old now. She minds her manners, sings her ABCs, counts to thirteen (weird, right?), and “reads” me her favorite books. It’s memorization, I know, but she doesn’t skip words while she’s “reading”, and will correct herself if she misses a word. She sings all of her favorite songs to anyone who will listen, jumps into my arms unasked for hugs and kisses, wakes up in the morning and calls out for me…then blurts out, “I love you! I slept good!” as soon as I get into her bedroom.

What a life. I think I’ll accept the busy and chaotic days, because deep down, I know I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A Promise Kept

I told my husband that if he successfully finished running the sump pump drain hose and it worked without leaking, I would post about what a good job he did. Since I'm very good at keeping my promises, I'm posting about it now.

Manly man that he is, he strutted through Home Depot yesterday, buying the appropriate 50 feet of PVC, 7 connectors, and 4 angled connectors (2 each of different angles, just as a precaution). He also selected the correct primer and PVC cement. He then proceeded to shovel dirt, creating a very LONG, narrow ditch, from where the sump pump hose leaves the house, all the way down and across the yard to where the city says it should go.

As I sit here typing this, I hear the pump running, and for the first time in two and half years, it's not leaving a big, nasty puddle in my yard. Now, my husband's father and brothers always give him a hard time for not being as "handy" as they are, but here's proof, once again, that he's perfectly capable of managing without their help. Nah-nah, in-laws!

Good job, honey.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Strangely Accurate?

I don't watch a ton of television--hardly any, actually, but I do enjoy watching House when I don't have to work late. Anyway, I posted this at the other blog, too. This is funny, but I'm really not an A-hole.

Your Score: Dr. Gregory House


55% Eccentricity, 50% Confidence, 30% Kindness



Congratulations, you're the man himself, Dr. Gregory House! You're quite strange, and usually do your own thing regardless of what anyone else thinks. This is partially because a person with an ego as large as yours could not care less what anyone else thinks or feels about anything. Unless, of course, they're your patient and they're dying--but only if they're dying of something interesting! You're a definite asshole to most other people, but at least you know how to be one in style, with an awesome wit, comfortable sneakers, and a never ending variety of facial expressions.

Link: The House, MD Personality Test written by freedomdegrees on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Apology

So, a few days ago, I put up a funny video called "Mr. Mom" and made a (semi) joking comment that my husband was home all week with our two year old daughter and I was giving it until Wednesday before he had a meltdown.

I was incorrect. I'm sorry.

He made it until today (Thursday) at 2pm, when he called me at work and asked if I could come home because he didn't "feel good." His ear was bothering him.

Now, I'm kind of laughing it off, but kind-of-for-real mad, too. When my daughter was five days old, my heart stopped beating (yes, literally stopped beating). When she was ten days old, I was home ALONE taking care of her because my husband had gone back to work. Here are a few highlights since then: Three days after I had my tonsils out, she got sick, and there I was, taking care of her, not taking any pain medication because it would make me too sleepy to take care of her. I remember coughing up a mouthful of blood and spraying a little bit on her. She thought it was funny. I cried. Massive kidney infection, barely able to move because of the pain (and again not being able to take pain meds), I took care of her. Barfing my brains out from food poisoning, I managed to take of her. Both of us sick with flu-like symptoms and fevers of 104, I still pulled it together to take care of her.

But today, he had a sore ear, and needed me to come home.

I love him. Don't get me wrong. Really, I do. But I think it's okay that I'm a bit annoyed right now.

In my profile, I make a smarty pants remark about being a Super Hero. I've decided that it's no longer a joke. I am a Super Hero. And I think becoming a mother made me one. So, take that Mr. I-Have-a-Sore-Ear.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Guilty Mommy Syndrome

I had one of those moments today where I feel like the absolute worst mom in the world. It's no secret that I'd like to be a stay-at-home mom and give up the business world. But, things being as they are, a second income is necessary, at least for a while longer.

Try explaining that to a sick little two year old, who, when leaving the doctor's office screamed, "No, no daddy! I go to work with mommy!"

Now, the good thing is that my husband is on vacation this week, so neither of us is missing any time from work to be home...not that it is EVER an issue to be with her. Even when she's super sick, I don't mind being home. I feel good being able to be there with her. Which is why I'm feeling so bad today. After three months of being off all medications, she got blindsided by some virus that rapidly led to a nasty bacterial infection. Fortunately, we caught it early, and were able to avoid hospitalization. We've certainly dodged every bullet so far, and for that, I'm very grateful. But back to the reason I'm feeling bad.

See, during her first year and a half, I always stayed home when she was sick. And she was sick a lot. Actually, "a lot" doesn't quite cover it. Let's just say I used more benefit time after going back to work from maternity leave than I did while I was on maternity leave. And I took off fourteen weeks after she was born. Got the idea? Anyway, I'm used to being the one taking care of her...measuring antibiotics, setting the timers so her meds aren't given too close together, managing a combination of medications for her breathing treatments...and I'm good at it. Really good at it. I'm not bragging, really. It's just that from the time she was an infant, I was the one doing all the medical stuff. Now, my sweet husband is doing it. And he's not doing bad.

Where does he get off taking good care of our sick two-year-old? I feel like I'm not needed. Waaaah!

Okay, my tantrum is over. The good news is that when I got home from work, she jumped into my arms, smotherered me in kisses and then said, "Sit down. I sit on your lap and watch Dora and Boots."

My immediate thought: "Huh? We don't own anything with Dora and Boots."

A quick glance toward my husband and there was no denying that guilty look. He bought her a Dora video as a bribe to take her medicine.

I've never had to bribe her to take medicine. Man, I rock!

Monday, July 16, 2007

More Thoughts on Forgiveness

One of my good friends asked me if I think it's okay to forgive people for things they’ve done, but still sometimes have angry feelings toward them. Now, for anyone who knows me, you know that I sometimes have issues with forgiveness. But for what it's worth, here's what I think.

I think if someone does something to hurt you, it’s acceptable, and probably healthy, too, to forgive that person, but still have strong feelings about whatever happened.

For example, let’s say your girlfriend borrows your car and gets into an accident. You can know deep down that it was an accident—you know she didn’t purposely do it—and you can be incredibly relieved that nobody was hurt. Of course you have it in you to forgive your friend! Why? Because she’s your friend! But two days later, when you’re standing at a bus stop in the rain because your car needs a few more repairs and your insurance doesn’t pay for a rental, you’re probably going to have some angry feelings toward your friend. And if you say you don’t have angry feelings, you’re either lying or a saint. And I hope you’re a saint, because I have yet to meet one in person!

That being said, I would guess that you’re not talking about someone who got into a fender-bender with your car. Maybe you're talking about someone who has deeply hurt you. Something more along the lines of an abusive parent, a cheating spouse, a rapist—someone who has done long-term, maybe even permanent damage to your psyche and self-esteem.

I think I’ll stand by my original opinion. I think it’s noble and healing to forgive that person. I also think it’s normal and healthy to feel occasional anger. I've been asked how I can say that. My thought is that forgiving a person doesn’t erase the memory of what actually happened.

It’s important to remember, too, that forgiving people doesn’t mean that what they did was okay, nor does it mean that what they did doesn’t matter. What it really means is no longer allowing that person to have control over your feelings. By forgiving people—even those who don’t want your forgiveness—you’re one step closer to regaining control of your life. In the long run, forgiveness is probably most important for you.

Now, if only I could bring myself to do the things that I actually believe about forgiveness…

Why do I have trouble forgiving the people who’ve hurt me? Because they’re not sorry. And I know it shouldn’t matter, but it’s something I continue to struggle with, pretty much on a daily basis.

Just remember that often times, the biggest obstacle to healing is you. Here’s to hoping that your path to healing is easier than mine has been…

Friday, July 13, 2007

Mr Mom

My hubby is home all next week with the little one. I'm giving it until Wednesday before he has a meltdown!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Making a Difference

Social services is a tough line of work. It takes special people to manage the problems of the world. The problems aren’t necessarily political—not like American troops in Iraq or any other hot-topic discussions. But the problems are worldwide. Homelessness, hunger, disease and mental illness are things that affect people from all walks of life. I’m realizing more and more that it’s agonizing to admit that I can’t save everyone. No matter how badly I want to save everyone, I can’t.

I’ve been in social services for eight years. Realistically, that’s not much time. I know people who do similar work and have been at it for thirty years. I don’t know how they’re able to do it, day after day, week after week, year after year.

There are days when I go home feeling absolutely shredded inside. So many people…lost souls…people who can’t be helped or, for whatever reason, choose not to be helped. This isn’t just a job for me. It runs much deeper than that. So much deeper.

And then, of course, there are the children. The children who, unknowingly take pieces of my heart with them when they wander back out into the world. So many kids, so many different backgrounds, but each suffering so very much. What’s always interesting to me is how many of these children, especially the very young children, have no idea that their lives are different from anyone else’s. I drive through the city and see them, cute little tykes in worn out tennis shoes, frayed pants and threadbare shirts, waiting in line at the shelters for meals. It seems like they should be sad, but…they’re not. Those kids are always smiling, eagerly bouncing up and down, barely able to contain themselves in the sometimes VERY long lines. They’re excited because they get to sit down at a table and eat. Even if the food isn’t that great, they know there will be enough to fill their empty bellies. Later at night, if the shelters are full, some of those children can be seen clinging to their mothers or fathers in the darkness. And the mothers and fathers, clinging back just as fiercely, whisper of tomorrow being a better day.

Maybe tomorrow there will be an open bed for us.
Maybe tomorrow the weather will be better.
Maybe tomorrow we can finally find some shoes for you.

Maybe tomorrow I'll find a job.
Maybe tomorrow…
Maybe tomorrow…


And I’m always left thinking, Maybe today, I can do something more. Maybe today, I can make a donation to the shelter or food pantry. Maybe today will be the day that my husband and I decide to adopt a special-needs child. Maybe today will be the day I make a difference in someone’s life.

I have to force myself to remember that last part. I do make a difference, even if that difference isn’t noticeable until years down the road.

Last week, I ran into a woman I worked with five years ago. She saw me before I saw her. Good thing, too, because I wouldn’t have recognized her. She’s a changed woman in every sense imaginable. When she saw me, she said, “You made a difference. I know you thought I wasn’t paying attention back then when you were trying to get me on the right path, but I was. If not for you, I don’t know where I’d be.”

Looking into her clear eyes, I felt a small sense of renewal. We all make a difference to someone. Who will you influence today?

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Problems With Public Bathrooms (Not for Sensitive Readers!)

I have a problem with public bathrooms.

Glad to see that my opening line caught your interest and you're still reading.

Anyway, I despise public bathrooms. I really do. I mean, everyone has bodily functions that must be tended to and I get that. Really, I understand that. What freaks me out is, um, I guess HOW people tend to their bodily functions in public.

Everybody pees. Everybody poops. It's a fact of life. Sometimes, when we're not in the comfort of our own homes, the urge strikes and we do what we have to do.

Enter the public bathroom.

It's bad enough that there's a conglomerate of stalls. But, where's the appeal in that? Are we supposed to walk in the bathroom and be like, Ooooohhhhh. Look at them. There are four toilets in here! FOUR! What on earth am I going to do with four toilets?

Well, I'll tell you what you're going to do with four toilets. You're going to look at each one and pray that you find one clean enough to plunk your behind on. Most toilets usually have dried (or even worse, sometimes WET) bodily fluids on them. Eeeewwww! I will never understand how people can "miss" when they go the bathroom. And if it's a child, for Heaven's sake, as a parent, please clean it up!

I just have to say, thank God for toilet seat covers. And FYI, you can find 5-packs of Charmin toilet seat covers in the sample section at Target. I've got a lot of them. Potty training a two-year-old, you know? Anyway, once you get past the grossness factor of having to put your naked rear end on a seat (even a covered or toilet-paper lined seat) where God only knows how many people have sat prior to you, you have to get down to the business of going.

I can barely pee in public. No matter how bad I have to go, even if my bladder is ready to burst out of me, it takes me a minute to go. My bladder is a little shy. It got better when I was pregnant, because when I had to go, I HAD TO GO! But I still hate going in public. I mean, I'm sitting in a nasty stall, with however many people around me, and of course, there are the terrible acoustics in public bathrooms. Even if you only have to go a little, it sounds like you're draining a fire hose. Am I right? You know I am! Quit pretending that you pee silently.

So, you manage to go, and then you look at the toilet paper. How many people have touched that paper? And even worse, there are no lids on public toilets, and we've all been told that when a toilet flushes, the contents can splash up to six feet out of the bowl. So, who knows what's lurking on that toilet paper? FYI, you can also get travel toilet paper at Target. Man, Charmin thinks of everything!!

Okay. Now, you're done peeing (or pooping, if you're able to do that in public) and just when you get ready to wipe, what happens?? It's the AUTOMATICALLY FLUSHING TOILET!!!

Who thought of that? I don't know. I'll have to look that up and get back to you. I'm sure it was someone who thought it would be helpful and more sanitary not to have to manually flush. And it seems like a great idea until...you have nasty toilet water splashing up all over your butt and then the ultra powerful suction tries to whisk you down along with the toilet contents.

Automatically flushing toilets? Come on! If I wanted my butt to get wet, I'd go back to the days when my husband left the seat up in the middle of the night and I wouldn't realize it and fall in. At least it was clean toilet water! The good thing is that I now insist that all toilet lids must be closed before flushing (that whole droplets-traveling-six-feet-from-the-bowl thing), so he puts the seat down all the time now. I'm so lucky!

So, my ranting comes down to this: Everyone, I would like to say that when you use a public toilet, you should treat it like you treat your toilet at home. Of course, for people who leave charming little "leftovers", maybe that is how they treat their toilets at home, in which case, this will have no bearing at all. And one more thing, wait until the toilet is done flushing to make sure everything is gone. The person in the stall after you has no interest in your floaters.

Oh yeah, one more thing...wash your hands. That's a post for another time.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Holy Buckets!

I just had one of those jarring moments that I think most women experience during the course of their marriages.

"What was I thinking?"

Of course, I was thinking that I loved him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. That's what I was thinking at the time. My little brain burst happened earlier when I realized that all the plans I made for traveling around the world probably aren't going to happen. It has nothing to do with having a child--we could figure out that part of it. And financially, well, it might take a while (a LONG while), but we could figure out that part of it, too.

It's just that my husband doesn't like to travel. At all. For anything.

His idea of traveling is getting up from his Playstation and going into the kitchen for ice-cream. Expeditions outside of the home usually involve visiting family or have something to do with baseball.

I asked him earlier about maybe planning a nice, adult, tropical vacation somewhere down the road. He seemed puzzled that I wasn't interested in staying with his family in Florida.

For the most part, I'm okay with the fact that he's a homebody. Maybe someday I'll get to travel. Maybe my daughter would like to go with me when she gets older!

These are some places I'd like to visit (not in any particular order):

1. Hawaii (okay, maybe that really is the top place I'd like to visit)
2. New England in Autumn
3. The Great Wall of China
4. Rome (I've heard that all of Italy is nice, but I really want to go to Rome)
5. Greece
6. Australia
7. Paris
8. Switzerland
9. London
10. Graceland (I love Elvis, even though he's dead)
11. Las Vegas (the last time I went, I wasn't old enough to gamble)
12. Incan/Mayan Ruins
13. Viet Nam
14. The Hamptons
15. My old neighborhood in Chicago, just so I can show my husband the church where I thought I saw Jesus breathing

Ah well. Maybe I'll get to all of them, maybe some of them, maybe none of them. I guess I'll have to wait and see!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Baby Lovin'

My sister and her beautiful brood of children just left my house. What a great weekend. Chaotic, but wonderful.

That being said, I've had a lot to think about since Friday afternoon. Having a tiny, two-week old baby to cuddle and sing to was such a touching experience. My daughter, who is now just over two years old, no longer wishes to linger in my arms for an hour. She's happy to cuddle before bedtime with a story, but that's about it. I miss the days of rocking her, stroking her soft hair, singing lullabies...those early things moms cherish the first few weeks after a baby comes home.

My husband piped up late Friday night with, "If you want to have another one, we should do it now."

I froze. Not completely in amazement. More in panic.

Another one? Another baby, 24/7?

I've thought about it a lot. A LOT. Especially in the past six months or so. It's so tempting. I yearn to have another experience as a mommy, feel those old, good feelings, feel needed like no one else can make me feel needed. A baby. A baby. A little brother or sister for my precious, sweet little girl. I want to, so badly.

But after this weekend, I'm pretty sure that I won't. It has nothing to do with anxiety about whether or not I could manage. I'm sure I would be able to.

I worry about whether another child would have the same health problems as my first. I worry about the heart condition I have and whether or not it could really get me safely through another labor and delivery with no later complications. I worry about the period of dark depression that caught me in its claws right after giving birth.

It's that last one that scares me the most. I have only told a very few, select people about my battle with postpartum depression. Working in mental health, I knew what my symptoms were immediately when they occurred. I hated how I felt. And I felt betrayed by my own body and personal chemistry. It was so unfair that I was feeling so sad during what should have been the happiest time of my life. Even so, I was dishonest at my six week checkup when I filled out the postpartum depression survey. I was too embarrassed to admit that I spent hours each day crying, feeling worthless and hopeless, feeling like there was something wrong with me...feeling like there was something wrong with my baby. I remember dragging myself through the days, wanting to love and bond with my daughter, but still feeling like something was missing. Add to that a host of problems after I went back to work, and I was an emotional wreck. I said nothing to my doctor for months. And even when I finally did, I refused to take medication for it. She reassured me, reminded me that it was more important for me to feel good again, than it was for me to feel bad about needing medication. I still refused.

The depression lingered. And it only got worse as my marriage slowly disintegrated. And it got worse again when my husband and I started putting our marriage back together. When things were supposed to be feeling good again, I was lower than I'd ever been. I wasn't doing so good in the coping department.

I finally decided to try the medication. I noticed a difference after a week. After a month, I was feeling better. After four months, I started feeling a lot more like my old self. All in all, I spent seven months on an antidepressant. I still can't believe that I'm actually admitting that out loud--er, well, in writing--for a whole bunch of people to find out. Well, maybe not a "whole bunch." I don't have a huge readership here. (But, FYI, I'd love it if it got bigger!)

So, that's my biggest factor in whether or not to have another baby. I mean, if I'm meant to have another baby, I probably will somewhere down the road. If it's not in God's plans for me, well, that's okay too. I think about my heart and whether I would make it through another pregnancy. Truth is, I think I would, and honestly, if it's my time to go, God's gonna take me whether I'm in labor, five days after I have a baby, or when I go to the store for milk later this afternoon.

Becoming a mommy is the greatest thing I've done in my life so far. But, that being said, nowhere in my Cosmic Life Owner's Manual does it say that I have to be a mommy multiple times. I think women who have many children are awesome (kudos to you, Sister #1), and I think that women who have no children are just as awesome.

I suppose there will always be a part of me that will ache to have a tiny infant in my arms. I just feel, deep down in my soul, it doesn't have to be my tiny infant. So, to my gorgeous 16-day old, soon-to-be-godson, YOU will be the tiny infant I will be holding for now. Prepare to be spoiled rotten!

I feel so very fortunate to be able to say that even though I sometimes think my life is too crazy and chaotic, I love every minute of it. I really do.