Sunday, January 31, 2010

TAG Note

If anyone besides Shannon tagged me, I would have ignored it.

The game is this: answer 5 questions with 5 answers and then tag 5 people.

Question 1: Where were you 5 years ago?
1. I had just rented out my condo.
2. We were/are living at my husband's house.
3. We decided it might be cool to get married in June.
4. We were planning a totally awesome 2-week honeymoon.
5. I was still working for wages.

Question 2: What is/was on your to do list today?
1. Make sure the kiddo is fed, bathed, clothed.
2. Drag my bones out of bed and go to church.
3. Dine out at lunchtime.
4. Go out for pizza with our pals.
5. Enjoy a little wine after the little one is in bed.

Question 3: What 5 snacks do you enjoy?
1. Chocolate candy.
2. See's truffles.
3. Vanilla ice-cream.
4. Plain ol' salty potato chips.
5. Is wine a snack?

Question 4: What 5 places have you lived?
1. Huntington Beach
2. Cypress
3. Anaheim
4. Garden Grove
5. Yorba Linda

Question 5: What 5 things would you do if you were a billionaire? (I'll assume this means that I only have $1 billion)
1. Donate 20% off the top to my church and two other organizations I support.
2. Invest 30% in blue chips.
3. Invest 10% in liquid vehicles. . .probably CDs.
4. Use 30% as down-payments on another real estate purchase or two.
5. Pay off my car note and go back to Hawaii with a nanny in tow for the kiddo.

5 People I am tagging
1. Sorry, Shannon, I don't know how to do this?!

Lazy Works

I had a lazy, lazy, lazy day today.

My husband took the little tater tot this morning so I was able to sleep in until 9:00 am. I heated leftovers for breakfast. I did drag my lazy carcass to church, but I didn't help in the nursery. We went out to eat lunch. We came home and the entire family took naps. We went out for pizza with some friends at suppertime. And the kiddo had a bath and went to bed as soon as we arrived home. I want to continue my relaxing day and don't really want to bother with writing this post tonight.

Most days I bust my hump. But today was not that day. And I'm okay with that because, some days, lazy works.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Having a Child Was a Great Choice

We just returned home from our 3-year old nephew's birthday party. My son just went to bed - three hours past his bedtime. He had a blast the entire time we were there. His cousin and his cousin's BFF are quite a bit older and my boy enjoyed running around like one of the big kids.

Seeing those three children playing together really warmed my heart. I sometimes can't believe just how much joy children add to life. Sure, they are ungrateful, demanding, and expensive. But they are also so sweet and loving. Just when you wonder why you ever thought it was a good idea to start a family, your little one will run up, throw their grubby paws around you, and give you a kiss. I cherish those moments and always wish that they happen more frequently.

Once upon a time, I didn't want any kids. I was in a terribly unhappy marriage and it was very dark, loveless. I wanted out of my life and certainly didn't want to bring another life into my personal nightmare. I'm glad I didn't have children with my ex-husband. Not having a child at that time was a great choice.

My husband was 50-years old when we decided that we wanted to start a family. Yes, I am aware just how old we will both be when our son graduates high school. I'm not particularly worried though because I'm sure that the stadium will be wheelchair accessible. My husband didn't have any children, I didn't have any children, but we both wanted children with each other.

When I was pregnant, I would fret that this little newcomer would somehow drive a wedge between us. I worried that I couldn't possibly have enough love in my heart for both my husband and my baby. I was convinced that I would short-change one or both of them. My fears were so unnecessary. Now I believe that the heart has an endless capacity for love.

I'm so thankful for my husband and my son. I could never deserve such joy and happiness and yet I've been so blessed with this family that I love. I know that having a child was a great choice.

I like to think that I hold the hearts of my husband and my son, but they really hold mine.

Friday, January 29, 2010

I Really Am FLYing

The Fly Lady has kicked me in the rear. Since I began FLYing yesterday, I've packed up several boxes of unnecessary clothing and shoes, thrown out a ton of unused cosmetics, shined my kitchen sink (each night after dinner), cleaned my toilets, cleared out old (and a few brand-new) cookbooks, and found a can opener that I had forgotten about. Amazingly enough, it took less than 2 hours of actual work.

I'm struck again by our blessings. How is it that we have accumulated so many material things? And how is it that we don't even notice we have them? I'm thankful that these things, which I apparently care so little for, may go to someone who loves receiving them. It's the most effortless and ingenious action ever - I give away something that's bringing me down and it lifts up someone else. Pretty neat if you ask me.

I think The Fly Lady works because, if you utilize the program, you will automatically begin picking up, cleaning up, and purging. Today I had over 100 newsletters that I had to fold, seal, label, and stamp. Before I began, I took a moment to consider what I would do if I was FLYing right.

I thought it made good sense to let toilet bowl cleaner work while I worked. So I gave a hefty squirt of cleaner in both toilets and started on my newsletters. I took a break mid-way through the newsletters and gave the toilets a good scrubbing. You know, letting the cleaner do it's job made my job so much easier. I hardly had to scrub at all. Just a few quick swishes around the bowl and a couple of flushes. To make further good use of time, I wiped down the outside of the bowl and the rim while waiting for the tank to fill.

I used to run my life by my planner. If it wasn't on the calendar, it wasn't happening. I haven't purchased a calendar in almost two years and my time management has really gone down the drain. In the last two days, The Fly Lady has helped me use my time wisely. Rather than feeling down that I didn't get enough done each day, I'm encouraged by all that I've accomplished.

I want to see just how far I can take this mission to declutter, clean, and organize our home. . .who else is FLYing with me?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

One Spark Starts a Fire

I have a shiny sink. I must adore seeing a pristine kitchen sink because once I saw it this morning, I turned around and went back to my bedroom. That may not make sense right now, but it will. Once in my bedroom, I made sure my bed was made, I got dressed (right down to the shoes), and I put on some make-up. All before getting my little tater tot out of his crib.

My boy, clearly used to seeing Mama wearing a robe and slippers every morning, did a double take when I entered his room. I opened his curtains and blinds (don't ask why both are necessary, just know that they are) and announced that we had a busy day ahead of us. I quickly grabbed some clothes for my son and I knew exactly where to begin our day.

After breakfast, I returned to the kiddo's room and opened his closet. His closet is huge and we only use one-third of it for his clothes. I couldn't believe just how stuffed his section was because he only wears about six different outfits in rotation. I do laundry every night, so it isn't like the boy never has clothes to wear, but I was bothered by all the extra clothes this morning - the ones he never wears. Why did he never wear these clothes? And was it really necessary to keep them with the clothes he wears every day?

My son wears size 24-months/2T in everything. I found onesies (and he hasn't worn onesies in months - that should have been my first clue what I would find), pants, shorts, and swim clothes. Onesies were in every size from 18-months down to 9-months. I found pants in the same range. And I found shorts that were now so short they could probably be considered bikini pants. I filled a huge box with all of the clothes he had outgrown. I'm saving clothes for our next child (whenever that may be), so I can't donate or give them away, but I could get them out of his closet. And I did.

As I was cleaning, I came across some shoes that he had outgrown. He had an aversion to footwear for the longest time, so they were hardly worn at all. I boxed them up to give to Sport Chalet for distribution in Haiti. After I boxed up the kiddo's old shoes, I ventured into my own closet. Before I heard about the shoe drive at Sport Chalet, I threw two pair of tennies away earlier this week. So why did I still have three freaking pair of tennies that I never wear in my closet? They were boxed up too.

Then I noticed that my husband's shirts were hanging from the closet doors. I opened his side of the closet and found places to put his dry cleaning. I regret that I didn't go through his shoes for donation, but I was concerned that I might toss a pair that he wanted to keep.

Once I spent about an hour on these tasks, I figured we deserved a break. So I loaded the boxes of shoes in the car and we dropped them off to our friend who is doing the shoe collection. Then we met with another friend and her kiddo for lunch. I excitedly shared how productive my morning had been and we both couldn't believe that it all started with the stupid shiny sink.

The little one took a nap once we returned home from playing with our friends. Uncharacteristically, I did not. See, I had my shoes on and in reaching down to take off my shoes I thought that I might want to tackle a couple of things that I'd been putting off. The shoes stayed on and I was off flying once again.

Cosmetics. I love cosmetics and I like to play with them. But I wear very little make-up in my daily life. In fact, I couldn't remember the last time that I had played in my cosmetics case. I opened my case, took a deep breath, and forced myself to be brutally honest. The truth is that I haven't even touched any of my "fun" make-up in over 20-months. So I pulled over a trashcan and out it went. I don't even own a single lipstick anymore. And I don't care because I haven't really worn it in years anyway. I'm a gloss gal these days - easier to apply on the run.

Feeling oddly liberated, I turned my attention to my clothes. I had a stack of eight pair of jeans that I haven't worn in 15-years. I have moved this stack of jeans to five different places I've lived at in those 15-years. Why am I keeping clothes that I don't wear? I can't say why I have held on to those jeans. Perhaps they signify my wild youth? Or maybe I just have trouble parting with clothes I like, even if they don't fit? I don't really care why I've kept those jeans. I just want to get rid of the clutter. Out went the jeans.

In less than 1 1/2 hours of purging, I got rid of two boxes of clothes and two boxes of shoes. None of these items were being used by anyone in my home and none of these items will be missed. How extraordinarily blessed we have been! We have so many material things that literally boxes of them can disappear and our lives will go on without skipping a beat.

So what spark started this fired frenzy of activity? A shiny kitchen sink. And why was my sink shiny? It's all thanks to a wonderfully motivating website if ever there was one. If your life is cluttered, if your home is a disaster, check it out - you'll be glad you did!

NOTE: I am not being paid by The Fly Lady.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

I used to be impossibly ignorant. I used to actually believe that all good deeds get rewarded. Once I outgrew my youthful naivete, I realized that the cliche may be jaded, but is true: No good deed goes unpunished.

Why do I continue to do any good works at all? Sometimes I really don't know and I wish I would just quit being such a patsy. I often dream of being a completely selfish individual, but that's just not who I am. And I really am a sucker for a good cause.

Ideally, everyone who takes part in a philanthropic organization is doing it for completely altruistic reasons. Unfortunately, that's not often the case. Nothing seems to bring out pride in a person like charitable work. Don't believe me? Try neglecting to thank someone for their donation sometime and let me know how that works out. If one does good work so that they can get their ass kissed, they're doing it for the completely wrong reasons. I'm not saying that their work is worthless, but I am saying that their intentions are wrong.

Among the other causes that I support, I've been participating in a particular organization for several years. The egos can be staggering. Is it biologically possible for maturity to stop just shy of adulthood? Because the cattiness displayed by grown women sometimes reminds me of teenaged girls. And I'm not talking about the sexy ones having pillowfights that reside only in men's dreams. I'm talking about the gossip, the backbiting, the general bitchiness that is the hallmark of female puberty. I'm not saying that every member is like this, but it's enough and I find it distasteful. I truly wonder why everyone can't just check their ego at the door and focus on doing good things for a worthy cause.

My current role in this organization is very limited, but specific. Tonight I received a phone call because someone was offended about something that I do for this group. Naturally, this call came in right at my kiddo's bedtime and I was absolutely not in the mood to smooth a grown woman's ruffled feathers when I had an upset baby on my hands. However, I take my role seriously and I listened patiently to the complaint.

I was already perturbed and was further dismayed when I realized that I wasn't even the responsible party. I explained this at least three different times in this conversation and I heard the same complaint over and over again. Why did I listen politely? I'm really kicking myself for not being curt and finishing the conversation after the first go around. My baby was crying and ready for bedtime. We have a very regimented bedtime routine that doesn't vary from night to night. It was difficult to get him to go to bed tonight because we had a major interruption in the routine this evening.

I let someone's wounded pride cause me to neglect my son's immediate needs. And, in my view, pride shouldn't even be an issue because this is work done for a charitable cause. Even worse, I wouldn't ordinarily be in this role for the organization. But I was asked to fill this position by a family member (who clearly didn't realize that I already keep a busy schedule) and I'm only doing this as a favor. Yeah, yeah, no good deed goes unpunished. I'm completely frosted and would love to shout in frustration - but I'd probably wake the baby!

I like philanthropy. I like that I'm able to help advance the living conditions of those who aren't as blessed. I like participating in charitable causes because I need the reminder that everything I have can be taken away in an instant. I do it because I want to be used to demonstrate God's love and provision. Giving to others makes me more aware of (and thankful for) all that I have been given from God.

I don't do it for the accolades; I actually prefer to act in an anonymous capacity so I don't fall prey to my own foolish pride. I wish others had the same attitude.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Pendulum Keeps Swinging

I always find it interesting how attitudes shift so completely over time. And I find it aggravating when those who march to a beat of a different drum are ostracized or made to feel inferior for their personal decisions.

When my husband was born in the mid-late 50s, "the poor" were forced to breastfeed their babies and those who could afford it fed their babies formula. It was something of a status symbol to be able to give your baby a bottle. Everyone cloth diapered because there were no other alternatives. Mothers, for the most part, stayed home or worked "pink collar" jobs when the kiddos were in school because most children were born in a home that had a working father.

Things had dramatically changed by the time my brother-in-law was born in 1970. Breastfeeding was very popular and my mother-in-law had to repeatedly stand her ground that she was not interested in nursing her newest baby. "The poor" were forced to cloth diaper their babies and those who could afford it used disposable diapers. It was something of a status symbol to wrap your baby's bottom in plastic. Many mothers were in the workforce and staying home was somewhat looked down upon (by feminists, ironically enough) because the women were, no doubt, being subjugated if their primary focus was their family. Already children weren't as likely to be born in a home that had both parents and some mothers were forced to work to keep a roof overhead.

It's 2010 and I marvel how things have changed yet again. Breastfeeding is acknowledged in medical circles as the very best way to feed a baby. I've had friends tell me that they were practically harassed by hospital staff about their decision not to even try nursing. I've observed militant nursers attack bottle feeders in the anonymous world of the internet. I would have liked to give my son a bottle from time to time, but he never took to it. So I nursed him. I nursed him for a little over a year since you aren't supposed to give cow milk to a baby until one year of age. As long as the babe is getting nutrients, I can truly say that I don't care how anyone chooses to feed their own baby. I made my choices with my child and they are entitled to make their choices with their child.

Cloth diapers aren't for the poor anymore. CDing mommas are happy to show off their fluff. Translation for the non-cding folks out there: Moms who use cloth diapers are happy to show you the soft & cute diapers on their kiddo's bottoms. Cloth diapers have come a long way in that if you plan your spending right, you can easily drop more in reusable diapers than in 'sposies - that's disposable diapers in cd-speak. But the money and the cute factor is only part of what drives one to cloth diaper; many cd-mommas use them because they are concerned about the impact that disposables have on the environment. I haven't heard any snide comments from mommas in either diaper camp and I have to conclude that, as far as diapers are concerned, we're content to let others make their own decisions. I use cloth during the day if we're at home, I use disposables at night and when we're gone for the day. But I don't really care how anyone chooses to diaper their own child.

Stay-at-Home Moms are not the norm today. For various reasons, most moms return to work as soon as their maternity leave is up. Some may be single-parents and have no one to support them while staying home. Some may be living a lifestyle that requires two incomes. Some may be concerned about any negative impact that staying home may have on their long-term career prospects. Some may just want to go back to work because they don't want to stay home with their baby.

I have some Mommy friends who work full-time, a few who work part-time, but most of my friends stay home. I have never heard any suggestion of reproach from any of my friends for the decisions that any of us are making or have made; I guess I'm in a pretty spectacular group of women. I have, however, read and heard plenty of condemnation for women who choose to stay home. I have read that their children will be social misfits, that these women place undue stress on their husband, that these women aren't truly fulfilled because they are "anchored" to their children. I have to say that I think all of those excuses are complete and utter crap.

Most SAHMs aren't shut-ins who watch TV and eat bon-bons all day. They frequently have very busy social lives with their little ones. Gymboree, My Gym, Little Gym, Parks & Rec programs, indoor playrooms, playgroups & playdates, libraries, museums, zoos, parks, aquariums, the list of fun things to do with a child goes on and on. Assuming the mother makes the effort, there are plenty of opportunities for socializing and teaching a child.

A SAHM is not what places significant responsibilities on a man, having the child does. Let that sink in a moment. The responsibilities go through the roof when a child arrives whether or not the mother goes back to work. And if Momma works, she's probably forced to fork over a significant portion of her paycheck for daycare expenses. Yes, a high-quality daycare facility really is that expensive. Sure, there are families who are fortunate enough to have a grandparent or other relative who is able to watch the baby for around 50 hours each week. But most families don't have that luxury.

Is a woman not fulfilled because she's raising children? Perhaps some women aren't. I feel more fulfilled in my role as wife and mother than I ever did while working. And I absolutely loved what I did for a living. But I've said it before and I'll probably end up saying it again at some point - even my worst day home with my son is better than my best day at work.

We all make our own choices with our own lives. I won't judge your decision and I would appreciate it if you didn't judge mine. Put another way, you should mind your own household and leave me to mind mine.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mr. Independence

My son thinks he knows better than his Mama. I realize that this stage will pass and return with a vengeance once puberty hits, but it is bothersome.

Usually this attitude isn't a big deal, just a minor annoyance and a great opportunity to teach about natural consequences.

-I told him to wait for me to roll up his sleeves before washing his hands. So he immediately stuck his hands under the faucet. One day he'll learn that his sleeves do get wet if you don't pull them back.

-I told him to pick up his magnets and put them back on the fridge or I would take them away. So he threw all of the magnets and walked off. He lost his magnets that day. One day he'll learn that he should listen to Mama because she does what she says she'll do.

Sometimes, this defiance can be dangerous.

-I told him the crock-pot was hot and not to touch it. So he touched it. He wasn't burned, thank God, but he learned that the crock-pot is hot and now he repeats, "'ot" (that's "hot" in his toddler-speak) over & over again while pointing at it on the counter.

-I told him to come back to me while he was running around at the park. So he laughed and ran further away. I hid behind a tree so that I could see him but he couldn't see me. He panicked when he finally turned around. He learned that running away means that you can get lost and be separated from your family - two things he most definitely does not want to happen, based on his reaction.

And sometimes he learns a new skill by pushing his boundaries.

-I told him to wait for me to hold his hand before going down the slide. So he pushed himself down all by himself. And he landed safely. He looked at me, beaming, and proceeded to dance for a few seconds. He was proud of himself and I was proud of my little boy.

I'm not raising a robot, a dog, or anything that I should expect to receive total obedience from. I'm raising a child who will one day be a man. I need to remember that it means he will need to push the envelope and explore his body's limits and his surroundings. I need to understand that part of growing up sometimes includes getting hurt and I will need to let him make his own decisions at the appropriate time - of course, assuming he's not choosing to break the law.

I don't know how long he has been able to go down the slide by himself. But I'm glad that he didn't listen to me because he gained true self-esteem by accomplishing a task on his own. As much as I want to cling him to me, I will sometimes need to let go so he can grow.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Aren't You Going to Write That Down?

I love dining out. Prior to the birth of our son, my husband and I used to dine out several times each week. I find it so satisfying to enjoy a meal that I didn't have to prep, cook, or clean up after. I don't mind the cooking, but I detest prepping and cleaning.

One thing I don't particularly like about dining out is placing my order. I prefer not to ask questions and generally know exactly what I'm having when the waitstaff arrives to take my order. My problem is when waitstaff do not write down the order.

I cringe inside when I notice that they don't have a little notepad in their hands when they come to the table. Though they stare at you and nod their head while you're placing your order, I always spend the wait worrying that they will get my order wrong. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. And it frosts me when they get the order wrong after they couldn't be bothered to write it down in the first place.

What's the point of not writing down the order? Do they think that they'll get a bigger tip if I'm impressed with their totally mad memory skills? Is it really hard to write on those little notepads? Is it restaurant policy? I don't know what it is, but I find it aggravating to no end.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Little Sunshine

After more than a week of rain, I woke this morning to find that the sun was shining.

I enjoyed a few hours (and a tasty lunch) with a couple of my Mommy friends and their sons. We chatted about many topics and had quite a few laughs. Our boys were rather spirited, but they also seemed to have a good time.

I would have never known either of these women had I not joined a mother's group. I discovered the group on-line and it appealed to me because it was for women who delivered children in 2008. We are a diverse group who are brought together by our children. It seems like we've all been friends for ages and now I can't imagine not having such close relationships.

Your family is expected to love you. But your friends are extra special because they choose to love you. I am very blessed because I have wonderful friends. I hope that I am as good a friend to them as they are to me.

My husband and my son are like air to me. And my friends are like sunshine. :)

Friday, January 22, 2010

I'm Living Another Woman's Dream

Though I sometimes feel like my life is a nightmare that I have created, I realized that I am living another woman's dream. That woman is my husband's ex-wife.

He dated his ex for nine years, meeting within months of starting college. It sounds to me like they were happy together in those early years, but I find it odd that he never asked her to marry him in all those years. When they were in their late-20s, she issued an ultimatum of sorts and that resulted in their wedding. Hindsight being 20/20, he knows now that being forced into a marriage is never a good idea. But he was relatively young and he didn't want to lose her, so he married her. They were married for eleven years. Curiously, they never had a child in the entire 20-years that they were together.

My husband's ex-wife wanted children very much. She wanted to quit working and concentrate on getting pregnant and then stay home to raise their little ones. My husband kept putting it off, saying that he just didn't want kids. Well, that's not quite the full story. He indicates that he was afraid that they would end up divorced and that's the main reason why he refused to enter parenthood with her. They did end up divorced, so I think his reasoning was sound.

They had what might be the only truly amicable divorce in history. They didn't hate each other. They didn't fight all the time. Neither of them was unfaithful. But she walked out one day and they began divorce proceedings.

They are friendly to this day. They call each other on their birthdays and a couple of times throughout the year. He occasionally visits with his former mother-in-law, who still calls my husband her favorite son-in-law. I have met his ex-wife and, while I didn't think she was particularly friendly, she seems to be a decent woman. I've met her mother several times and she's a charming lady. We even introduced her to our son and she was smitten with my husband's little lookalike.

His ex remarried not long after the divorce. Though in her 40s, she tried desperately to have a child. They spent untold thousands on several rounds of IVF. When it became clear that she would not have a biological child, she focused on adoption. Sadly, that path to parenthood was also blocked. About a year after my husband and I married, she indicated that they were just going to give up all attempts to get a baby. In a passive-aggressive fashion, she blamed him for her fertility problems. And, it's true, she spent her most fruitful years with him. But I hardly think blame needs to be cast in his direction because she could have left much earlier if she was so determined to have a baby.

She called my husband at some point just before I delivered and mentioned that his mother must have given up hope of ever seeing a grandchild from him. She was stunned silent when he replied that I was weeks away from delivery. They haven't spoke much since then and I think I can understand why. But he was talking with her the other day and casually mentioned that he'd been working six and seven days a week for months. She indicated that I must be exhausted without him around because I have to work and care for the baby. The conversation ended shortly after he revealed that I do not work because I care for the baby.

I don't have any ill-feelings toward my husband's ex-wife. She made terrible choices that robbed her of her dream. I am living her dream with the husband who claimed he didn't want this life. I feel sorry for her.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Blessings a Baby Brings

It was a rainy day today, the saddest type of day for a funeral. I understand etiquette and I had misgivings about bringing the baby, but we had no alternative so the three of us bundled up and we set out in the blustery downpour. I plied the little one with snacks and drinks throughout the service in an effort to keep him quiet and still. Of course, being a typical toddler, he could not sit quietly for two hours and my husband had to periodically remove him from the sanctuary.

Juanita Sarmiento lived nearly 90 years. She is survived by her husband, seven children, 28 grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great-grandchildren. Last June, she and her husband celebrated 66 years of marriage. Today I heard her family tell many sweet, and some downright humorous, anecdotes about their beloved Mama, Tia, y Abuela. One of her sons indicated that she used to say that her children weren't really hers, but that they were on loan from God. He added that she was also on loan and God wanted her to be with Him. Many were sad to say goodbye to this remarkable woman, but also expressed their confidence of seeing her again in Heaven. And it's true that even in death, we have hope.

Mrs. Sarmiento's daughter Yolanda worked with my husband for many years, many years ago. My husband and Yolanda have kept in touch and remained friends. We invited her to our wedding and she brought her parents, which is how I met Mr. and Mrs. Sarmiento. Though I only had the privilege to meet Mrs. Sarmiento but once, I could tell that she was a kind and loving woman. The innumerable mourners today verified what I suspected back in June 2005.

Toward the end of the service, it was time to pay our respects and offer condolences to the family. We didn't bring in the stroller, so my husband was holding the little one. We solemnly moved past the casket and approached the family. Yolanda, and the rest of the family, were so pleased to see us, to see our son. A few family members teased smiles and giggles out of my sweet boy. Where there had been tears, there were now smiles. I thank God for the blessing of my son every single day, but I will give additional thanks tonight for the blessings he has brought to others.

My son brought the blessing of joy to a grieving family, if only for a brief moment. And I am so thankful for that.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


I love words. I like words so much that I have often picked up the dictionary just to read the words and learn, or reinforce, their meaning. If I had the time, I would snuggle up to a dictionary every day. I would be ecstatic if I could earn a living on the words I write. I don't just like words, I adore words.

Words don't simply exist in nature. Every word we speak or read was made up by someone, somewhere, in history. The English language consists of words from many other languages. English is not a closed language and it grows all the time, particularly in the fields of Technology and Science.

But plenty of people are adding pop culture words by the day. I posted about the "vaggazling" of Jennifer Love Hewett. "Bootylicious" was coined by Beyonce and, going back a few years, we can thank the show Seinfeld for adding "sponge-worthy" to the lexicon. Terms that came from the internet, like Frenemy, Unfriend, and Noob, are found in common conversation now. Even text-friendly abbreviations like STFU, GTFO, and OMG are commonplace.

I have come up with a couple of words over the years. A quick Google search shows that other people have used the words, but I'll still take credit for the cleverness because I'd never heard either word prior to my "inventing" it. I sure as heck didn't read either word in the dictionary!

I came up with the term Sascrotch back in 1999. Yes, it means exactly what you think it does. You don't really want to know why I came up with the term, trust me you don't, but the term fit perfectly.

Around the 2004 I came up with a term to describe my political leanings because I could no longer consider myself just a Conservative. The easiest way to describe my political philosophy was Conservatarian. I truly am more Libertariantive (hm, I think I just made another word!) these days, but it doesn't have such a nice ring.

Definitions (in case you didn't quite get it)

Conservatarian - Portmanteau of the words Conservative and Libertarian. One who politically is Conservative, but has Libertarian leanings on certain issues.

Libertariantive (Yeah, I'm including it even though I just made it up for this post) - Portmanteau of the words Libertarian and Conservative. One who politically is Libertarian, but has Conservative leanings on certain issues.

Sascrotch (This is really what you wanted, right?) - 1 A remarkably unkempt pubic area. 2 Someone who has remarkably unkempt pubic hair. NOTE: This does not mean that one simply has pubic hair, it is the disheveled appearance that indicates utter neglect of any pubic area grooming.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Am I a European-North American-American?

It is well known throughout the Western world that nothing brings out the crazies more than discussing the subject of race. So why am I going to discuss it? I guess because I'm feeling a reckless today.

I'm just going to come right out and say this: Race is a useless designation.

We are all homo sapiens. Classifying ourselves by race does nothing but divide us into subgroups. When we are divided, we cannot be united. I say that is unnecessary to classify individuals by race and it is frequently used to justify all sorts of hate and xenophobia. History is on my side here because race has been used as an excuse for all sorts of disgusting and deplorable behavior throughout the ages.

Since race designations aren't likely to be going away anytime soon, I suppose I better get on the race train and determine which group I belong to. Though "white" is sometimes used as a designation, it isn't really a race. Frankly, I've decided that I no longer want to be called "white" anymore because I'm not even actually the color white. I think only albinos and that dude from the movie Powder can really be considered the color white. It's more accurate to call me "peachy-yellow-cream with a tiny bit of tan" because that's closer to my actual color. Eh, that's kind of a mouthful and probably too hard to remember so I better come up with some other term, hopefully an actual race, to categorize myself.

Though classifying humans by race has fallen out of favor in anthropological circles, anthropologists used to break the human race down into five main categories: Australoid, Capoid, Caucasoid, Mongoloid, and Negroid. I don't particularly care if I'm called a Caucasoid - even if it does sound like it's dookie from outer space. But I have a feeling that at least two of those tags would be considered offensive. So scratch that because we all should be using the same system to define ourselves.

How about using ancestry? Everyone has a country, or countries, of heritage. Based on my lineage, I am a German, Scottish, Irish, English, Indian -um, I mean Native American, and Dutch person. Meh. It doesn't roll off the tongue easily either. My ancestry is also from Europe and North America. How about calling me a European-North American-American? I like it, even if it isn't exactly correct because my lineage is not from every country on both continents. Unfortunately, these two terms don't really work either because nationality and ethnicity are not the same as race.

I guess that I just want to be called by my given name - MrsHashBrown to the readers of this blog. If you absolutely must put me in a racial category, just say I'm part of the Human Race.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Food Can Be Racist?

Last Friday, the Denver Public School system planned to serve a special lunch in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King. The menu consisted of southern-style chicken, collards, and a biscuit. One parent complained that the menu was stereotypical and insensitive. Although the lunch sounds like typical fare you'd find in nearly any Southern home, officials scratched the delicious-sounding lunch to avoid being painted with a racist brush.

I wonder, when did food become racist? Typical southern-style food is not considered culturally Southern, but culturally black? I guess the Irish are falling down on the job. They should be complaining when corned beef & cabbage shows up on menus across the country every March 17th. The Germans should be offended when Oktoberfest specials show up every October. Damned stereotypical sausages and sauerkraut. Is there any end to what offends our delicate sensibilities?

We have elected America's first biracial President, a true African-American. Black men and women are in prestigious positions throughout the government and private industry. Equality isn't just Dr. King's dream any longer. We are living in Dr. King's dream. I'd have to say that race relations are pretty good in this country if we're actually spending our energy focusing on whether or not food is being used in a racist manner.

I watched the old movie "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" for the first time recently. I was shocked by the movie. Not because a white woman was marrying a black man, but because their courtship was shockingly brief. I would guess that most people in my generation would have the same response.

Are there still racists in this country? Sure, but as a majority, we've moved beyond race because it really doesn't matter. Oddly enough, it generally seems like that the most racist people are the ones screaming the loudest about race.

Dr. King was a wonderful man. He shone a spotlight on the civil rights struggle. His methods were peaceful, but effective. I got chills when I stood at the Lincoln Memorial, the site of his famous I Have a Dream speech. At the root of it, he only wanted what all humans yearn for: freedom and equality. He wanted what every parent wants, a better world for their little children. He had the courage of his convictions and he paid the ultimate price for his beliefs. A coward took his life, robbing society and robbing his family. Anything done to honor a man like Dr. King is a beautiful thing.

According to the Archives Department of the King Center in Atlanta, the Southern-born & raised Dr. King had a favorite meal. It was fried chicken, collards, cornbread, and sweet potato pie. Sounds like a fabulous meal to me. And it sounds remarkably similar to the special lunch that was going to be served in Denver schools.

But who knew that Dr. King was such an insensitive racist?!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Clove Cigarettes Have Gone Up In Smoke

In researching the persecution of e-cigarette manufacturers, I discovered something else that I can direct my impotent outrage toward.

In late September 2009, clove cigarettes were banned in this country. Apparently, our all-wise government has determined that flavored cigarettes, including cloves, are more appealing to children and they have been deemed more dangerous than another other cigarette for that very reason. I found it odd that flavored cigars and smokeless tobacco products are not included in the ban. And I nearly fell out of my chair when I realized that menthol-flavored cigarettes are not included in the flavored cigarette ban and Philip Morris USA (part of Big Tobacco for those of you not in the know) supported the ban. Lolwut?

So what gives? Feeling quite a bit like Philip Marlowe (a fictional private detective who, appropriately enough, smoked), I had a feeling that things weren't as they seemed and I did a little more digging.

In addition to plain old tobacco cigarettes, they also came flavored as cloves, menthol, candy, and fruit. I discovered that the FDA (them again!) determined that cigarette manufacturers intend to attract teens to the dark side by making flavored cigarettes. That's very interesting. Considering the flak that cigarette companies get for any implied advertising directed toward minors, I'd sure like to see the evidence of a marketing plan that specifies an implicit desire to attract teens. And, considering that flavored cigarettes have been around for decades, why is it suddenly a problem that needs to be addressed?

How the FDA made such a determination is anyone's guess, but I suppose their newly developed Center for Tobacco Products had to have something to pursue in order to justify their department and their salaries. The SCOTUS ruled in 2000 that the FDA does not have the power to regulate cigarettes, but President Obama and Congress granted them that authority in June 2009. I'm a little confused because it seems that the "T" in the BATF would cover all tobacco products, but I'm not one of our all-wise government leaders so what do I know? I was particularly galled to find that the FDA also developed a tip-line to be used if anyone sees a retailer selling flavored cigarettes. Call me crazy, but I'm generally not a fan of citizens reporting on other citizens to the government. But it's okay if it's for the children, eh comrade? There's no way this is about expanding government, duplicating government effort, or taking another baby step toward making all tobacco products illegal. No, there's no way that this is really what it's about.

In my quick research, I also discovered that Philip Morris USA only sells traditional and menthol cigarettes. Ah, it's all starting to make sense now. Why would Philip Morris want to have any competition? See, they aren't the bad guys, it's those damned flavored cigarette makers who are the real problem. And, after having been on the market for decades, teens are only now realizing that clove cigarettes are awesome. Uh-huh.

I find a recent study to be rather puzzling. It found that menthol cigarettes are far harder to quit than traditional cigarettes among African-American and Latino users. Though menthol cigarettes are preferred by only around 25% of Caucasian smokers, nearly 80% of African-American smokers prefer menthols. It also found that menthols are increasing in popularity among teen smokers. So can someone explain why menthol-flavored cigarettes aren't included in the flavored cigarette ban?

Let me see if I have this straight. Cigarettes are bad. We should quit smoking. Menthol cigarettes are harder to quit than traditional unflavored cigarettes. But only other flavored cigarettes are banned? Menthols, flavored cigars, and flavored smokeless tobacco are okay? I'm not trying to be obtuse, but what am I missing here?

I'm not Fox Mulder and I don't see conspiracies everywhere I look, but something sure stinks here and it sure as heck isn't the smoke from flavored cigarettes.

Apparently it's Bad for Smokers to Quit Smoking

Smoking is bad, okay? This is the message that our great and glorious government leaders have been telling us via legislation for over 40 years. Cigarette manufacturers have been forced by the government to place warnings on their product since the mid-1960s. Cigarette manufacturers have been banned from television and radio advertising since the very early-1970s. Smoking has been banned since the early-1990s in many private businesses due to intrusive legislation.

It seems we got the message all too clear. Big Tobacco is a boogieman that we hate as much as the characters in the novel 1984 hated Emmanuel Goldstein. Big Tobacco is our common enemy, comrades. It is our duty to hate them and the users of their product.

The non-smoking public is enraged by smokers. It is acceptable to direct all of our hatred and vitriol toward this minority group because they are a dangerous threat to public health & safety. Interestingly enough, it is not socially acceptable to hate other minority groups who may carry communicable diseases that are also a dangerous threat to public health & safety. Society is impossibly paradoxical sometimes.

A handy device, colloquially called an e-cigarette, has emerged as a popular smoking cessation tool in the last several years. The smoker gets their nicotine hit via a vaporized liquid nicotine mixture and enjoys a similar hand-to-mouth experience. It doesn't release any smoke or chemicals, it only releases water vapor. It should be perfectly acceptable to use an e-cigarette in areas where actual smoking is prohibited because the user is not actually smoking anything.

I'm a former smoker and this sounds like a win-win to me. Smokers get their hit and no one is forced to endure the lingering effects of cigarette smoke. What's not to like here?

Turns out there's plenty not to like here. Since smokers still persist in their habit, many states have increased the taxes on cigarettes to epic rates. Presumably, state legislatures and voters figured that they could tax the addiction out of existence. But then they inexplicably created feel-good social programs that are funded by said tobacco taxes. Suddenly it isn't desirable to have too many people quit smoking because those fabulous social programs sure as heck aren't going to pay for themselves. Those programs need to continue to receive funding from the cigarette taxes we get from those damn dirty smokers. Apparently it is bad for smokers to quit smoking.

The FDA regulates e-cigarettes as a drug-device combination and they had been attempting to stop shipments of e-cigarettes. Federal District Judge Richard Leon put a temporary stop to the agency's shenanigans by recently declaring that e-cigarettes are basically the same as traditional paper & tobacco cigarettes. He pointedly added, "This case appears to be yet another example of FDA's aggressive efforts to regulate recreational tobacco products as drugs." And he found their claim of jurisdiction "to be unreasonable and unacceptable." Given Judge Leon's ruling I would guess that BATF are the ones who would regulate e-cigarettes and I'm curious what they think of the FDA trying to regulate one of their regulated products.

So why is California Attorney General Jerry Brown in state court attempting to prevent the sale of e-cigarettes? It's disingenuous that AG Brown says that e-cigarettes are dangerous and marketed to children. Traditional cigarettes are considered dangerous, why isn't he trying to make a case against those? I'm curious to hear what evidence he has of this marketing effort directed toward children and I doubt it truly exists. Smoking Everywhere is the company involved in the action in California. Their VP, Ray Story, maintains that they do not represent their product as being healthy or safe, their product carries health warnings on the package, and his company discontinues business relationships with retailers who have been found to sell the product to minors.

So what's the real issue? I think that Jerry Brown desires another term as Governor and he doesn't want to see any programs cut during his desired tenure. Cutting programs tends to piss off constituents, even if We The People don't want to pay for said programs. Keep the tobacco taxes rolling in and we get to keep programs that make us feel all warm & fuzzy.

Sorry, but this is a win-lose to me and the only people who will be winning are those who are interested in collecting tobacco taxes for selfish gain. Smoking is a legal activity if you are over 18-years of age. If smoking is so damn dangerous, it stands to reason that our benevolent leaders would want us to quit. Here is a tool that is helping smokers quit and it is being persecuted. That's wrong.

I doubt that Jerry Brown would have had my vote anyway, but he sure as hell won't be getting it now.

The Vagazzle Chronicles - Part II

"Why are women so interested in improving their (vulgar word deleted) instead of improving their minds?"

That line wasn't uttered by me. Shockingly enough, it didn't come from Susan B. Anthony, Margaret Sanger, Betty Friedan, or Gloria Steinem either. It came from my husband as we were discussing the practice of vagazzling. If the term is unfamiliar to you, see my previous post about the practice.

I suppose I'm very lucky that my husband thinks having a brain is a quality that's as important as having a vagina. Maybe he feels this way because every woman has a vadge, but not every woman has a brain. He places high importance on the ability to form a cogent thought. He enjoys witty repartee. And he appreciates stimulating debate. My guess is that men who expect a vagazzled vagina aren't really looking for much in the way of deep discourse with their mate.

I was surprised that my husband knew about vagazzling. He started to tell me about it when he arrived home last night and I directed him to my blog post from yesterday. He chuckled and agreed that it would be unappealing to put his penis anywhere near tiny crystals. The idea of one getting stuck in his urethra finished it for him. I will not be vagazzling my vagina if I expect my husband to have sex with me.

But I think it's telling that he said that he wanted to see what a vagazzled vagina looks like. He spent some time yesterday trying to Google image it with zero success. Yes, I realize that he's a man and men require visual stimulation. But I thought it was interesting that a 52-year old man was aware of Jennifer Love Hewitt's personal grooming habits. And, as embarrassing as it is to admit, I'm incredibly curious to see what it looks like too.

I've come to a few conculsions after reflecting on the matter.

1. In direct opposition to what a highly publicized study recently determined, sex still sells. Her book will sell. Not because she's a great author, which I seriously doubt, but because the public wants to read the chapter about vagazzling.

2. Jennifer Love Hewitt is not just a vacuous Hollywood actress, she is a freaking marketing genius. The internet is abuzz about her vagazzled vagina. People are talking about her and her book. She's hot property because she has a sparkly vulva. And her coquettish revelation is genius since she's trying to sell something.

3. George Lopez isn't just a mediocre comedian, he's also a marketing genius. His talk show was somewhere between semi-tolerable to absolutely painful before the vagazzle bombshell revelation, but now the audience wants to hear what other titillating (heh!) tid-bits his guests might reveal.

4. We might not want a new & improved vagazzled vagina, but we are interested in seeing what it looks like. When will an attention whore post a pic of her bejeweled beaver? I don't know, but I'm pretty sure it will be on-line before the end of the weekend.

5. Contrary to what Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, it seems that there is indeed something new under the sun. What will clever women think to do with their nether regions next?

I hope there will not be a Part III to The Vagazzle Chronicles, but I'm not going to make any promises.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Is Vagazzling Really Necessary?

It has many names. We all know the typical names used, but I think clam, minge, honeypot, pink taco, and cunny are particularly colorful. Of course, I'm talking about vagina.

Jennifer Love Hewitt calls hers a "special lady" and on The George Lopez Show she recently revealed that she vagazzles hers. She even dedicated a chapter to vagazzling in the book that she's hustling. I'm not a prude and I thought for sure that I knew every possible thing that can be done to makeover your vadge, but this is something I had never heard about. I'm not even sure what vagazzling is exactly. There is some debate on-line over whether she has simply pierced some part of her nether region or if she has simply stuck crystals to it. Either way, I wonder, isn't a vagina enough as it is?

I wish some Gen X or Gen Y guys could weigh in on this very important matter. My husband is a Baby Boomer. He came of age in the 70s, long before the bare vulva was en vogue. He doesn't seem to care what it looks like. He'll take bewhiskered, bare, and anything in between as long as he can get to it. For him, getting vadge is enough. Do youngish guys nowadays require something extra to get with the program?

Many years ago the Brazilian wax took us by storm and we've seen nary a pubic hair in porn ever since. It wasn't long before suburban housewives and strippers alike were removing the fuzz from their peaches. Is vagazzling the next big thing?

I'll have to assume that vagazzling is attaching crystals to your vulva because she could have said that she had her clit or labia pierced without making up a portmanteau of vagina and Bedazzling. I guess Bedazzling our handbags and jackets is passe now that we can vagazzle our vaginas.

I'm not a man. I don't have a penis. But I have to think that the last place a man wants to put his penis is in a beaver that is encrusted with a bunch of tiny freaking crystals. It seems like it could really hurt if they enjoyed a particularly vigorous romp. I suppose that the worst case scenario is a crystal could detach and slip in his urethra. Imagine explaining that to the emergency room doctor. Eh, maybe not. I would believe that ER doctors have seen and heard far worse than a vagazzle crystal stuck up a pee-hole.

So why isn't a vagina enough? Why do females eagerly await seeing pubic hair pre-puberty only to rip it out as soon as they become sexually active? Who tells us that it is normal to do so? I know that the proliferation of porn has absolutely influenced every aspect of sex, including appearance of body hair. I don't have a bone to pick with porn, - heh, I said "bone" - but I wonder why we buy into the notions that the sex industry advances.

Do we hate our vaginas? Of course we all want our vaginas to be accepted and liked. Do we also want to have a unique sniz? Or do we want our box to look like every other snooch in porn - complete with labiaplasty and a Brazilian? Seriously, take a look at modern porn. All of the, uh, actresses have vaginas that look exactly the same.

I say embrace your naturally unique vagina. No, I'm not saying that you have to go all Sascrotch and bring back a big 70s-style bush. But every hair, every fold, every part of it is unique. Ask your husband, boyfriend, or lover (but not all three at the same time - ha!) how they feel about your vadge. I will darn near guarantee that they don't need a gimmick to get excited about getting nookie. And I will nearly guarantee that they don't want to do it when you have crystals hanging out near their weiner.

Of course, I could be wrong.

And please accept my apologies if I missed your favorite term for vagina. I left off p*ssy and c*nt because they seemed too obvious.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Heart Full of Bitterness

I have one. I don't know when it took root. I'm not sure exactly when I realized it was there. I thought it was gone; I really thought I was finished with it. But it came back. I definitely have a heart full of bitterness and I want it gone for good.

I wasn't always this way. Quite the opposite. I was sweet, joyful, loving, and forgiving. I readily let go of past hurts and looked toward a happier future. But something terribly disappointing happened to me about 20-months ago and I just can't seem to move past this hurt.

I'll spare readers the details of what caused this bitterness. Anyone who knows me reasonably well probably knows exactly what I'm talking about. Let's just say that I was hurt in the most spectacularly painful fashion by persons who, one would reasonably expect, should have acted quite differently. I have cried an ocean of tears over this event and it wouldn't be beneficial to rehash it here.

I've tried to be mature and I let these people know how I felt. Their excuses were lame and didn't hold much weight. But I do love them and I believe that I have forgiven them this wrongdoing. So why am I still resentful and why do I seethe with quiet hostility?

I prayed every single night for well over a year to remove the bitterness from my heart. After around 18-months, I publicly declared that my heart was restored. Somehow, in the last two months, I have been seduced back to this ugly state. I've tried to rationalize it. I've tried to ignore it. I've even tried to learn more about it. But nothing has helped make it go away. And I hate it. I hate that I feel this way.

A quick Google search yields a wealth of information about bitterness. It seems that bitterness is emerging as the hot new mental health disorder. That's great, that's just great. I'm actually leading a trend for once in my life and it's for this?!

I've read that suffering from bitterness means many different of things. Among them, I'm holding this emotion on purpose, I'm not a good Christian, my marriage is in trouble, and I'm angry with Republicans - specifically the Bush administration. Hm, I knew I should have finished college to trap some smarts in my noggin. Silly old me just thought it meant that I'm having trouble moving past an extraordinarily painful event. Who knew it had so much hidden meaning?

I don't know how to remove these negative feelings, but I do know that dwelling on them only serves to make them magnify. My life is too good to focus on one terrible event. I know that I have a wonderful life. I have a happy marriage, an awesome husband, and an adorable little boy. My family loves me and I am content. I will not allow my outlook to be poisoned because of other people's thoughtless behavior.

It seems that growth and maturity always comes with tears and frustration. I hope that I look back one day and reflect on how much I've grown from where I am today.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Keeping Up With the Browns

A provocative billboard recently was put up somewhere in Britain that says, "Career Women Make Bad Mothers." Understandably, working mothers cried foul and, predictably, the company behind the billboard has apologized. I think the controversy highlights a much bigger problem: Women feel guilty whether they are stay at home moms (SAHMs) or working moms.

We always hear about working moms and their guilt over their decision. We don't often hear about the SAHM's guilt. And, yes, SAHMs can and do feel guilty over their decision to stay home instead of working for wages.

I'm a SAHM and I love it, but I also loved my career. I like to say that my worst day home with my son is still better than my best day at work. My work will always be there, but my son won't be a little one for long. I'm confident in my skills and abilities and I know that I will find employment once my son is in school.

I still sometimes feel like I'm not pulling my weight because I'm not earning my former salary. I realize that it's bizarre to feel like this because we didn't use my salary for anything, but feelings can be strange in that way. It's just so difficult to leave a job when you're comfortably compensated. In a way, I'm thankful that I didn't earn a higher wage because I don't know that I could have walked away. But leaving my 6-week old with another person for at least 10 hours each day would have broke my heart.

I've never been particularly enamored with material possessions. I don't generally envy other people's financial situation. I certainly don't try to keep up with the Joneses. And, now that I don't work for wages, these are good things for my family's financial health and well-being.

I know that we could buy more "things" if I did work. We could dine out more often if I did work. Heck, we would have probably bought another house by now if I did work. But I'd miss out on so much if I did work! My son goes to bed at 7:00 each night. I'd hate to only spend less than 90 minutes with him each day before bedtime. I'd hate to spend weekends running errands instead of relaxing with my husband and kiddo. Mostly, I'd hate missing the milestones that I was able to witness because I stay home.

I'm not afraid to learn. I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty. I'm not afraid to try something that sounds a little crazy. And I'm certainly willing to do all these things if it positively impacts our family's finances. I cook dinner nearly every night. The baby and I eat lunches that I've prepared rather than grabbing a fast food meal on the go. We go for cheap entertainment; most parks are free and annual passes to both the zoo and the children's museum total less than $100. I cloth diaper during the day if we're at home. I thought nursing for more than a few months was weird, but I did it for over a year and saved a bundle by not buying formula. I kicked my Diet Coke and coffee habit. I don't get my hair done every eight weeks any longer. These are money-saving things that I wouldn't have done if I worked outside the home.

The only person I'm concerned with impressing is my husband. Other people may think that we aren't living a great lifestyle because we didn't buy into the notion that both parents have to work to maintain an adequate standard of living. But we only have to please ourselves and I say it was better for us to lower our expectations of what makes an adequate standard of living because we are enjoying the things that truly matter to us instead of the material things that commercials insist matter. We don't have to worry about the Joneses, we just need to keep up with the Browns.

Monday, January 11, 2010

They Grow So Fast

I suppose one day I'll look at my little son and realize he's become a grown man. And I have a suspicion that day will come far earlier than I could ever expect.

I took my son to the first day of Kindergym this morning. We participated in the last session, so I knew I'd be familiar with most of the routine. What I didn't know is that my son would be so familiar with the routine. At some point he has developed a pretty good memory and I didn't realize it.

My boy knew when it was time to run up to Miss Lorrie and ask for a bell. He also knew to return the bell after the song and dance routine were complete. He remembered that bubbles were for chasing and popping. He even participated in some of the exercises that he never understood in the last session. He's growing up and it's happening so fast.

It's cliche, but it does seem like only yesterday that my husband and I welcomed him home from the hospital. I remember how painful it was to get in the car. I recall thinking that the other drivers on the road were reckless. An obscure song from the 70s was playing on the radio, "Daddy Don't You Walk so Fast" by Wayne Newton. It actually brought tears to my eyes that afternoon, the thought of a father voluntarily leaving his family.

The three of us walked in the house and we put the baby in his bassinet in the living room. I sat on the rocking chair and stared at our sleeping babe for what seemed like forever. He was the most beautiful baby I'd ever seen and I knew that I'd do anything for him. My dedication to him has continued to grow with each passing day.

I loved him before I ever even knew him and I knew my heart was his the very first time I saw his sweet face. He was sleeping when he was pulled from my abdomen and he looked so peaceful, so serene. I remarked to my husband, "I can see him. I can see him. He has the face of an angel." My husband wasn't sure how I saw anything because the drape covered everything, but he knew I saw something because my voice was so full of wonder and awe.

How he has grown since then! It's been less than two years, but already he is so much more mature than he was even six months ago. The next few years will bring even more growth and maturity. I often wonder which is the best stage of childhood. I can't decide because I love each age he's been. He's my adorable son and I can't help but love whichever stage he's in. Sure, we're on the verge of the much-feared terrible two's, but I know that this too shall pass. And I'm afraid it all passes far too fast.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

You Have Cancer - Good Luck with That?!

What are you supposed to say when someone tells you that they have cancer? It's not good news, so a hearty congratulations isn't in order. But it isn't necessarily a death sentence, so you want to go easy on the reminiscing. And platitudes are so meaningless that you might as well save your breath. So what exactly are you supposed to say?

I've been told that a loved one has cancer three times in my life. The first person who told me they had cancer was my best friend, Vernissa. She called me late one evening and I asked what was wrong. She replied, "I have cancer, girl." The news hit me like a sledgehammer, but I asked questions about what stage the cancer was and, though it already sounded ominous, I remained upbeat and asked about her treatment plan. V elected to treat her cancer with a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. The cancer was gone after the first round of treatments. But it quickly returned - seemingly stronger than before. It spread from her breasts to her lymph system, bones, and brain. One of my most painful memories is remembering how tiny she looked lying in a coma in that hospital bed at the very end. She almost looked like a sleeping child if you could ignore the equipment that kept her living. She was never married and she never gave birth, but she packed a lot of living in her life - even after her diagnosis. She had a true joie de vivre. And she died when she was only 36 years old.

The second person who told me they had cancer is my good friend, Mary. We were at a party and I found out because another friend (who is also a co-worker of hers) was asking about her treatment options. Mary also had breast cancer. I heard this news not long after Vernissa's passing and I couldn't really offer any encouragement because I kept thinking that cancer had just killed my best friend. I literally had nothing to say and the news completely took me by surprise because she's one of the healthiest people I know. She works out every day of the week before 5:00 am, she participates in 100 mile bike rides, and she eats a very healthy diet. She also chose to treat her cancer with a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. One of her biggest concerns was whether or not she'd still be able to work out while undergoing treatment. Mary beat her cancer and is living cancer-free.

The third person who shared their cancer diagnosis with me is my father. We already knew that he has a potentially life-threatening health problem and he just got the cancer diagnosis over the holidays. I assumed something was up because they called to ask if we could get together for dinner and we generally don't see each other unless we're celebrating a special occasion. Though they live less than 20 miles away, I guess we just aren't that close these days. My head wasn't in the dinner because I had an emotionally trying day and I had my own bad news that I was mulling over. They casually dropped his colon cancer diagnosis in dinner conversation. I responded that I knew something was up because they were acting strange and I asked if it has metastasized. They replied that at this point it is believed to be contained, so I inquired about the treatment plan. As far as they knew it would be effectively treated by removing a couple feet of his intestine. I replied that if you have to have cancer, this sounds like the best way to have it and the outlook sounds good.

They made a big deal of telling me that my siblings had already been told about this colon cancer diagnosis. I didn't quite understand the point of telling me that, and I still don't, but okay. I explained that they should have called me while they were calling everyone else. They kept going on and on about how they wanted to tell me in person. Why, exactly, I don't know.

I could tell that they were a little puzzled at my response because they kept repeating themselves. It's as though they were looking for a different reaction so they kept rewording things to get a new response. They even went so far as to imply that I should have told them that I wouldn't be up for company. My husband has told me that my reaction left my parents highly perplexed.

I'm not a highly emotional person and I have to be somewhat guarded with these two people anyway. I would have probably responded differently a couple of years ago, but I wasn't going to fake a reaction to please their expectations for drama - so sue me. I would have felt more concerned if they told me that his cancer has metastasized and it's considered Stage II or higher. But at this point it hasn't and it isn't.

So what exactly would have been the correct reaction? What were they looking for me to do? Was I supposed to cry and tear at my clothes? Would it have been more appropriate to say, "Wow, you have cancer. Good luck with that!", and punch him on the arm? Should I have begun wailing and moaning in grief? I mean, it sounds pretty straightforward and the prognosis sounds excellent. It isn't like he has a pancreatic cancer or lung cancer diagnosis. It's colon cancer and it's very treatable if it's caught early - and it sounds like it has been.

Maybe I'm a jerk. Maybe I'm a lousy daughter. Maybe I should have responded like an emotional wreck if it would have pleased them. But, in retrospect, I wouldn't have responded any differently. I'm not a fraud and, like them or not, my thoughts and feelings were true.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Counting My Blessings

WARNING: Some content may be TMI.

I was sure this was it! I was so sure that I was pregnant.

And then I bled on Wednesday. I told myself that it was just implantation bleeding. I was fine on Thursday and I continued telling myself that I was pregnant. But I took a pregnancy test at 3:00 in the morning on Friday. I was up and just had to do it. It was negative. I told myself that I probably took the test too early and decided to take another test in a few days. But I started bleeding in the afternoon. And by bleeding, I mean BLEEDING. It's definitely one of those months that I feel like a transfusion would be entirely appropriate.

I spent my afternoon alternating between sleeping and sobbing while my son took a three hour nap yesterday. I don't take disappointment very well and I was so sure that this was it! I feel like a total jerk for getting my hopes up so high so prematurely.

My husband was sad too, but I believe that I feel this disappointment so much more than he can. Mostly because I feel like it's my fault. It's hard to explain why I take the blame and I won't even try to attempt it here. But, yes, my rationale does sound somewhat crazy even to my own ears.

In the middle of last night's monthly pity party, I cried that every freaking unprepared woman on the planet and every alley cat in the street can get pregnant. In my mind it makes sense that we should get a baby since we can afford a baby and we're capable of nurturing a baby. And it seems unjust that those who can't afford a baby and those who can't properly care for a baby seem to get pregnant with such relative ease.

My husband said, "But, honey, you can get pregnant. Look at our little boy."

That line stopped me in my tracks. He's right. I have experienced pregnancy. I had an unconventional delivery, and certainly not the delivery I wanted, but I have delivered a baby. I have been fortunate to be able to stay home with my baby since he was born. I nursed him for a little over a year. I have had a baby and I am so thankful for him.

In my pursuit of getting a baby in my womb, I have forgotten how blessed I am to have the babe in my arms. If I never have another child, I have already been blessed more than I could ever deserve. And for that I'm most thankful.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I'm in a May-December Marriage?

I always envisioned a May-December marriage as one in which the man is significantly older than the woman - a 40-ish man and a 20-ish woman. He's a little pervy and she's a little greedy for cash. My husband is not pervy (well, not terribly so!) and I'm not greedy - and we aren't in our 40s or 20s any longer, but I've just realized that I'm in a May-December marriage.

My husband is nearly 19 years older than me. He graduated high school before I was born. He was already in college when I was born. He had just started dating his first wife when I was less than 2 months old. And, what can I say? I don't really care about the dates on our birth certificates because I love my husband with all my heart. He is my true love and I am so happy that we found each other. He dated plenty of women. Some were more attractive than me, some were more educated than me, some were more successful than me. Some days I can't believe that he picked me. I count myself as the most fortunate person on the planet because he chose me to be his wife.

We don't know any other couples who are in a May-December marriage. Our friends are 50-something aged people who are having grandchildren or 30-something aged people who are having children. Prior to the birth of our son, we had a lot of fun with our older friends who were similarly untethered by the demands of parenthood. Since the birth of our son, we spend a lot more time with our younger friends who also have little ones at home.

The age difference has, surprisingly, never really been a problem for us. I guess I'm much older than my years or he's much younger than his. Like most things, it's probably a little of both. The only time it may have been a little weird is when we went to our high school reunions: my 10th and his 30th. He was the oldest person at my reunion and I was the youngest at his.

We don't always get along perfectly, but who does? Two people from two different families get along perfectly 100% of the time only if one person is constantly capitulating. I'm glad that we can both be who we are while still feeling mutual love and respect for each other. I don't even think that our differences necessarily come from our age gap. I think Neil Simon is overrated; he thinks that opinion is nuts. I think space exploration is lame; he thinks space is neat. I think that the exterior of the new Camaro looks terrible; he thinks it looks pretty cool.

We share similar taste in music, movies, and television shows. We're both sci-fi nerds. We generally see eye-to-eye politically. We read several of the same magazines: National Review, Car & Driver, Playboy, Popular Science. And we have similar views on how to raise children.

So what's the problem if neither of us has a problem with the age difference? Society has a problem with our age difference. My husband's ex-wife had a problem with it when she heard he was dating me - surprise, surprise, right? Waitstaff have called me my husband's daughter many, many times. Strangers have asked my husband about his "grandson" on more than one occasion. Though my husband is not rich (whatever that means!), I've been called a gold-digger and worse in the anonymous world of internet message boards and chat rooms.

Why do people make assumptions? It is no longer socially acceptable to make assumptions about a couple based on race. Why is it acceptable to make assumptions based on age? And, perhaps most importantly, why is it called a May-December marriage and not something else? Seriously, that was the best description they, whoever they are, could come up with?

So I'm in a May-December marriage. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Top Spot of Affection

I think it's a day that is dreaded by all mothers of boys. The day that another woman takes the top spot of affection in your son's heart.

I know that my son will still love me when he is a grown man. But he will love his wife more. He'll confide in her, he'll prefer to spend time with her, and he'll need most of his support from her. At least, that's the way I see things. A mother can't take the wife's role and she shouldn't try. Nobody likes a meddling mother.

My son is just a toddler now and I'm his favorite woman at this point, but I know that the time will come that another woman will move into the top spot of affection in his heart. And that knowledge already brings a sharp pang of sadness. Why does it bother me? Because I know that loving someone allows you to be hurt by them. I know that I'll never hurt my son, but I can't say the same for every woman he'll meet.

I wonder who this woman will be. Who will my son love? Who will be his confidante, his friend, his cheerleader? I pray that she'll be a kind and decent woman and, mostly, that she'll be good to him. The only thing that breaks my heart more than knowing he'll pull away from me to draw near to another woman is the fear that he'll be hurt by her.

I've already caught a glimmer of what it will feel like to be set aside for someone else. My son is in love with Nina, the evening host on PBS Sprout. For the longest time, she was the only thing that he would look at on the television. He would wave whenever she appeared on the screen and, on more than one occasion, he has run up to kiss her.

One evening my son and I were in the kitchen together as I was finishing up his dinner preparation. We were having a good time, laughing and playing fun little games. Suddenly we heard Nina's voice from the living room. My son's eyes widened, he dropped the toy we had been playing with, and he bolted out of the kitchen. I found him in the middle of the living room, transfixed by his lovely Nina.

I chuckled about the Nina incident, but this is just the beginning. He'll like other pretty ladies on television. He'll play tricks on little girls he likes in elementary school. He'll work hard and save diligently to take girls out on dates when he's in high school. These girls won't bother me because they aren't likely to stick around for long.

I'll be a little more concerned when he wants to bring someone home to meet us. I'll be gracious, but I'll probably want to chase her out of my house. And my eyes will mist up when he announces that he's asked someone to be his wife. Tears will come for a few reasons: I'll be so happy that he's found such happiness that he wants to keep it forever, I'll be concerned whether or not he's made a good choice, and at that point I'll know without a doubt that my reign in his heart is over.

Who is she, this woman who will bring my son such joy? I'm almost 19 years younger than my husband and he likes to joke that our son's future wife won't be born for at least another 15 years! I don't know about that, but I do know that I've prayed for my son's future wife from time to time as if she were already on this planet. I've prayed that she'll have a stable home life and will be raised in a godly home. I've prayed that she'll be loving and generous. And I've prayed that my son will know her when he finds her.

Perhaps it's a little weird to pray for the woman who will ultimately displace me. But I know that she'll be here one day and I want my son to love her freely when that day comes. For now, I'll be content that I am in the top spot of affection in my son's heart. Until Nina is on the television screen!

Kids Say the Darndest Things - So Do Moms

Kids say pretty funny and outrageous things. So do their mothers.

We're all familiar with the segment of the Art Linkletter program in which he'd talk with young children and they'd inevitably say something silly or respond in a hilarious way. The success of this segment even became an entire show many years later.

I've said my share of crazy things since welcoming my son home. I don't do funny, I'm not that clever, but I crack up when I think of these things that I've said in the last two months. I hope you get a chuckle or two.

"My son is already a Boob Man."
Remarked to another mom after my son walked up and honked my breast.

"Stop pulling your weiner!"
My son was yanking his weiner during a diaper change. I swear he stretched it up to his belly button and I was sure he would break it or something.

"Honey, your head is not metal. Hitting your head won't make the same sound. Please stop hitting your head. That's enough, give Mommy the comb."
He had just discovered that hitting metal with a comb made a nice ringing sound. Naturally, he started hitting his head with the comb.

"Please stop trying to eat the coaster."
My son is still a chewer and he likes to taste everything that he can get his hands on. Substitute coaster for magnets, hair brush, toothpaste tube, remote control, or any number of random household objects and it probably makes up half of the things I say each day.

"Stop scratching your butt cheeks, you'll hurt your butt. No, no, don't try to touch your butthole."
For some reason, my son kept trying to scratch his butt cheeks for a week or so. He'd scratch at his butt during diaper changes and while in the bath. He actually ended up with scratch marks on his cheeks. One day he just left his butt alone and he hasn't scratched at it since.

"Please don't try to brush your hair with a fork. Forks are for eating food."
I guess I should be happy that my son was trying to brush his hair, but the fork actually had food on it at the time.

"Keep your hands out of your poo-poo!"
Self-explanatory, right? EWWW!

"Toilets are for potty and toilet paper. Nothing else belongs in the toilet."
My son had thrown one of his beloved burpies in the toilet. I'm just glad that he didn't flush!

"Cheese doesn't belong in your ear. No, it doesn't belong in your belly button either."
He was learning his body parts and I think he wanted his mouth to share with the other openings in his body.

"How in the world did you manage to get a Goldfish cracker in your diaper?"
I found a whole Goldfish cracker in his diaper one day. He couldn't have possibly eaten it, but how in the world did it get there?

"Say bye-bye to your boogie. No, we don't kiss boogies."
Boogie is our term for boogers. I guess he was concerned that it was being thrown in the trash before he could say goodbye.

"Utensils are not drumsticks and the table is not a drum."
My musical son was treating me to a drum solo during lunch one day.

"Mommy wants some privacy. Please leave Mommy alone. Oh, well, hello there. No, I can't pick you up right now."
My son has learned how to open doors and I apparently can't even use the restroom in privacy any longer.

I know that I've said plenty of crazy things in the last 19-months and I'm sure I'll say plenty more in the years ahead. I'm looking forward to hearing what crazy things will come from my son's mouth.

Monday, January 4, 2010

The Evil Part of the Human Condition

I had an awful nightmare the other night. It woke me out of a sound sleep with a racing heart and tightly clenched fists. I struggled to go back to sleep after I realized that it was only a terrible dream. What was the dream and what was so awful?

I dreamed that my son was with a group of several school-aged boys. And all of them were beating up a much smaller, younger boy who was curled in a ball and screaming for help.

This may not sound so awful to anyone reading this, but it is a definite nightmare to me for a few reasons. For starters, I believe that if my son ever engages in such an activity that I have failed as a parent. I want him to be the one who will stand up and defend those who can't defend themselves. Even if it means that he'll also be beaten up, I want him to have the courage to stand up to others and do what's right. I believe that my son will be a big kid (my hubby was a strapping 6' 2" at age 13) and I want my son to be aware that the counterbalance to his strength must be his good judgment. I also believe that people do terrible things in a group that they would never consider doing while alone. The actions of those who participate in a riot is a perfect example of what I mean. Finally, I believe that evil exists as a part of the human condition and it's up to us to be aware of our evil tendencies and actively resist it.

This nightmare reminded me of a case that has haunted me since I read about it back when I was a teenager in the early-90s. This case was so tragic and so beyond the pale that it made me feel cold inside as I read the heart-breaking details in a newsmagazine all those years ago. I truly wish that I did not remember reading about it. . .

I believe it happened in England. A toddler, around 2 or 3 years old, was kidnapped while he was out shopping with his mother. Two males approached the little guy and somehow were able to draw him away when his mother was momentarily distracted. Surveillance footage even shows that the trusting babe was holding the hand of one of his abductors as they exited the shopping center.

Only his captors weren't looking for a baby to steal. They were looking for a baby to kill.

Over the next several hours, his captors marched him a couple of miles throughout the town. When they reached a suitably quiet location, they picked him up and threw him on his head to the ground. Of course, the poor babe was hurt and screamed wildly, frightening his attackers away. I guess that they feared someone would step up to defend a screaming toddler.

No one came. The attackers returned. And, missing momma and having no one to comfort him, the poor babe willingly went back to his attackers.

They continued their death march until they reached some railroad tracks that were shrouded in a bunch of trees. At that point the attackers became killers. They threw paint in the little one's face, pushed him to the ground, threw stones & rocks at him, kicked him, and beat him with a metal pole of some sort. When his killers were through, they put him on the train tracks and left. He was still alive when they left him. I have tears streaming down my face just typing the torture that this poor babe suffered. Thankfully, time has faded the details that I can recall.

Of course, this did not happen in a vacuum. It was daytime in a city and plenty of people saw this crying babe being marched about with two males. No one helped. No one stepped in. No one was willing to get involved. All of these witnesses allowed that little boy to be ruthlessly murdered. I'm not saying that they killed him, the blame rests solely on the murderers, but I am saying that these witnesses could have helped prevent his murder and they chose not to help. I guess it's just easier for most people to look the other way. . .

Within a couple of days, the body was found. A train had cut him in half. I can't recall if he was alive or not when the train came. He was nude from the waist down. I can't recall if he suffered any sexual molestation or rape. The poor babe's mother had never left the police station since reporting her only child missing.

I hope he wasn't alive when the train came. I hope that he was outside of his body, being cradled by Jesus, throughout this vicious attack and murder. I hope that God opened Heaven to him before he suffered such unthinkable pain, fear, and loneliness.

As terrible as this crime was, it does get worse. I know, I know, it doesn't seem possible that it can get any worse. Remember that it was two males who kidnapped, tortured, and murdered this poor little soul?

The killers were only ten years old. Two ten year old boys plotted to steal, abuse, and kill a toddler. Two ten year old boys were behind this evil bloodlust.

Poor little James Bulger never had a chance against the evil part of the human condition.

I believe that evil does exist. I believe we read about it in the news every single day. I believe it is part of the human condition. And I hope and I pray that I teach my son how to always recognize and resist evil in himself and in others.

As a postscript to the tragic murder of James Bulger, I believe that his killers were only sentenced to remain in custody for 8 years. That means that they've been free for several years already. . .

Learning Tenderness Through Tears

Though I studied and researched nearly every aspect of parenthood prior to the arrival of my son, it is impossible to prepare for certain aspects of this journey. I knew I would love my offspring; I just couldn't imagine how deeply I would love my baby. I knew that the early days with a newborn would be tough; but I had no idea how exhausting it is to nurse every 1 1/2 hours for nearly five months. I knew that I'd be bothered by my baby's tears; I didn't know that hearing my baby cry would set an alarm to ring throughout my body.

I don't know if it's biological or psychological because I'm not that smart, but my heart races and my head pounds whenever my baby cries. I have trouble thinking straight when I hear him sobbing. I have wept while he's crying on more than one occassion because it hurts me to see him hurting. My only instinct is to pick him up and cuddle him close whenever he has real tears.

I don't overreact if he falls down, bumps his head, or if he whines a little. I usually don't react at all besides telling him he's okay and to walk it off. Otherwise I'd be cuddling him all day long. . .I've got a busy little guy and he's constantly bumping into things.

But real tears are something very different, as every parent knows. Real tears signify real pain. The pain doesn't even have to be physical. I think babies can suffer emotionally and every now & then my son cries for no discernable reason. I assume that he's crying then because he needs some loving assurance that we're there for him - whenever he needs us.

Hearing a child cry used to make me insane before I had my son. Only then my problem was that the parents weren't keeping their kid quiet. I'd look at the family in the next booth at a restaurant and used to wonder what was that squaling brat's problem. Yes, I was the childless woman who had zero sympathy for their problem and would glare until they left so I could enjoy my meal without further interruption.

I thought my own baby crying would be an annoyance, something that was ruining my good time. I didn't realize how my son's sadness or hurt would make me feel. There is nothing that feels more like a stab in the heart than seeing your own baby's pain and tears.

My attitude has changed. I feel sorry for the parents if I hear a crying kid in a restaurant these days. I figure that they want a fun time out too and they don't want their kid to mess up their meal either. I feel bad mostly because I've had my share of meals that were cut short because either my husband or I had to take the baby outside.

I've learned tenderness through my son's tears.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Tom Petty was Right

As Tom Petty so rightfully sang in 1981, "The waiting is the hardest part. . ."

My husband and I have been TTC Baby #2 since May. It took even longer to conceive my son, so that part of the wait isn't terribly surprising. But I am in the middle of the 2 ww and the suspense is making me crazy. If patience is a virtue, I guess I'm not terribly virtuous because I just want to know right now.

I suspected I was pregnant with my son within one week of conception. I know, I know, they say it just is not possible to exhibit any symptoms that early. But I did exhibit symptoms that early and, deep-down, I knew I was pregnant. The doctor's office told me twice that I wasn't pregnant, but I kept going back for tests because I knew their tests were wrong.

I'm experiencing similar symptoms now. Of course, it's a cruel joke of biology that so many early pregnancy symptoms mimic pre-menstrual symptoms. Tender breasts, slight bloating, fatigue, mood swings. I could be pregnant. Or I could be gearing up for another visit from Aunt Flo.

This strange period of time, this not knowing whether I am or not, is frustrating to say the least. There is no way of knowing if conception occurred. If conception did occur, there is no sure way of knowing if the soon-to-be-baby has implanted in my uterus. Implantation is what worries me the most at this point in the waiting. Late implantation often leads to very early miscarriage. I call those micro-pregnancies. There isn't even a chance to verify the pregnancy with a doctor before it's over.

I've had a pretty bad cold this past week and I actually treated the cold symptoms as if I were pregnant. Tylenol, vapor-rub, pectin throat drops, using a vaporizer at night. Being sick when you're pregnant sucks. What I really wanted to take was a decongestant with an expectorant and a shot of cold vodka. All no-nos when there is a bun in your oven. I hope and pray that there is one in mine.

I've tried to stay positive and keep my mind off of baby thoughts. I can't help but visualize labor & delivery, ponder baby names, and wonder who this baby will look like. Then reality hits and I remind myself that I might not even be pregnant and all this daydreaming is just that - dreaming.

I've been eyeing my box of First Response home pregnancy tests for the last couple of days. The box says that it can detect a pregnancy four days before a missed period. . .in 69% of women. I'm afraid to take it too early and have a false negative. I will definitely cry if I get a negative. I guess I can wait another week and hope for the advertised 99% accuracy.

I know ten women who are pregnant right now. TEN! It seems comical that I know that many pregnant women. While I'm very happy and excited for their good fortune, I can't help but wonder when my womb will be blessed. My husband and I are nice people. We're good parents. We provide well for our little one. When do we get our baby?

One more week of waiting. It really is the hardest part.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Is Blogging the New Talk Therapy?

Sigmund Freud would poke both of his eyes out with his ever-present cigar if he read the title of this post. While I think he was genius in many ways (exploring the unconscious mind & determining that personality is shaped by childhood experiences), I feel he was full of it in many others (sexualization of nearly every aspect of our lives & giving credence dream exploration). But I don't particularly care what a long dead Viennese physician thinks of my opinion. I'm convinced that blogging is the new therapy.

I've seen four therapists in my life: one psychiatrist, two psychologists, and, please don't laugh, one hypnotherapist. In the quest for peace in my own mind, I spent over $10,000 and went on three different medicines to balance my brain chemicals. I finally came to The Big Reveal on my own. Sometimes crappy things happen in this life, sometimes it downright sucks, and that's just life. You need to keep on movin' on.

You will be sad, angry, and resentful if you dwell in those dark and ugly places that we all have. Therapists love to continually explore those terrible events that hide in your past. Of course they do. They make their living by gently probing your pain over and over and over again.

My expensive foray in the world of talk therapy makes me wonder, does anyone really get "cured" from therapy alone? Or does everyone end up feeling ripped off and pulling my signature move of spacing appointments further & further apart until you fade from the therapist's appointment book altogether?

The appeal of talk therapy is obvious. You get to talk about yourself for an hour. A solid hour of talking about yourself and bitching about whatever gets on your nerves. You don't need to listen to someone else. You don't need to worry that you'll say something wrong. You can let it all hang out and the other person has to listen to your rambling. Everyone is so busy multi-tasking with their cell phones, iPods, and laptops these days that you may feel your friends and family aren't really paying attention to conversations they have with you. But in therapy, you are paying someone to focus on you and listen to your crap. The therapist has to pay attention because you're paying them to listen!

The early days with a new therapist are wonderful. But over time you begin to resent them. The good ones won't let you simply talk about the silly nonsense that irritates you. They will start to dig. They'll dig until they uncover a painfully juicy morsel and they'll force you to chew on it over several sessions. You'll be completely wrung out after these difficult appointments. You may have looked fine going in the office, but your face will be tear-streaked and puffy when you exit. I've spent an hour boo-hooing in my car after leaving more than one appointment. Reflection is nice and all, but it can be painful.

Over time, it becomes obvious that you have shared all of your dirty little secrets. And then, having nothing else to exploit - I mean, explore, your therapist will want to revisit the events that caused you so much pain in the first place. That's when you begin to feel ripped off and you break up with your therapist by disappearing from their appointment book.

Writing is an incredibly freeing activity and I have often turned to writing to process my feelings, both negative and positive. But chasing around a busy toddler doesn't leave me with much free time. It has been nearly two years since I've even touched my book. I'm not sure I could put my hands on it even if I did find the time to write.

Speaking broadly, a book is essentially useless unless it's published, but a blog may be read by any number of people. It's harder to write a blog in some ways, but so much easier in most ways. I don't have to worry about whether or not my dialog is realistic, I don't need to remember the characters I've created, I don't really need to sweat point of view changes. But I do have to ruthlessly edit myself because I don't have hundreds of pages to make my point.

I'm in a good place these days. I don't feel the need to talk to a professional about my problems. I feel incredibly fortunate that I don't think I have very many problems. So why start a blog? I don't really know. But writing stimulated creativity that had been long-sleeping in my mind because I ended up mentally rough-drafting at least a dozen posts last night. Simply put, I like words and I love writing. I hope you enjoy reading what I've created.

You see, Dr. Freud, sometimes a blog is simply a blog.