Monday, August 27, 2012

When A + B Does Not = C

The traffic. The lines. The commercials. All of these are indicators that school time is here. Personally, I have two children in elementary school, and they are still at the age where this is exciting and fun. The juggernaut known as “back to school” took off and we all began counting down somewhere around the beginning of August.

Ever since mine started school, I have taken a couple of days off before it starts, both to spend time with them and to be sure that they are ready and prepared. This includes school supply and uniform shopping, which are obviously necessities, but my own neuroses also make it include cleaning out closets, purchasing absurd amounts of groceries and cleaning my house like my life depends on it.

While recently in the throes of this mad prepping, it occurred to me that what I was doing was trying to exercise some kind of control over the future. Like if my house was organized and clean, and if I have every lunch food available ready to go in the fridge and if there was not a dirty sock anywhere to be had and if I cleaned off my desk and made all my put off phone calls and appointments and spent quality time with the children and made delicious meals and and and…and what? What would all of this accomplish?

By no means am I downplaying how much difference a bit of organization makes to keeping the school routine somewhat pleasant. It’s fabulous to be able to make lunch in five minutes or less because all the veggies are chopped and all the snacks at hand. But none of this really has much outcome on the desired result, which is a successful school year. Last fall, when complaining to a friend of mine how much time and attention to detail the supply list purchasing took, she just shrugged and said, “Meh. I just go to Publix and buy whatever school supplies are on sale.” I almost fainted.

My hyper-organizing has been revealed as simply my way of trying to exercise control over the future, which, because of many variables, is uncertain. It’s a form of self-soothing, because I’m anxious about the children’s time in school. We’ve been through the wringer with my son vs. school and my mania has gotten worse every year, so when I do some looking back over it, the correlation is glaring. This year, though, I caught myself and gave it some thought, which drew me to the above conclusion about control. I want it all to make sense. I want to be the boss of it. All of it.

I do think that this is not a singular phenomenon though. The saying about the best laid plans is totally true but as people, I think we try to make sense of nonsensical things by trying to plan for and around them. You could take this theory and apply it to so many things, really. If I live a healthy life and exercise regularly, I will live a long and healthy life. If I wear a seatbelt and drive at ten and two, I’ll be safe in my car. If I do everything I can to insure the success of my children, they will turn out to be happy, fulfilled and generous members of society. Et cetera.

The fact is that there are no guarantees in this life, and as easy as it is to understand this cognitively, I think it’s a lot less easy to live it. The Universe does not seem to take kindly to our attempts at bossing it around and I am convinced that he/she/it ROTFLMAOs at our feeble efforts to do so. I don’t know why life is so capricious and unfathomable sometimes but it is. But I do think that the eternal desire to understand and conquer our destiny is what keeps us moving ahead, learning, growing and reaching out to each other. The challenge of it makes us better, more motivated, and perpetually striving for greatness. Maybe this is what the universe really wants after all, for us to push back and to try. Always. And sometimes, we’ll be rewarded and school will start without a hitch.

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Whiny Post - Also One I Kind of Posted Already But Not Really. Sort Of.

***I kind of posted this the other day already. But then I went to correct a mistake and accidentally pulled it down and reverted it to draft. Then it turned out that I had my blog dashboard open in two windows and when I closed one, the final version was gone and had been replaced with the draft version which had errors and was missing parts. So I tidied up the draft version and have put it back. I have no idea if any of this makes sense but here it is regardless. Enjoy!***

I'm going to complain. If that does not interest you, I'm sorry. Well, not really, but it seemed like the nice thing to say. Or you can pull up a chair, heat up your coffee and we can kvetch together! M'kay? Good, let's get bitchin'.

I have talked before about the challenges of being a working mom, and will reiterate that I can only speak from my perspective, and that I'm well aware that there is another completely different set of challenges faced by stay at home moms. One of the problems I face on a regular basis is feeling somewhat left out of the loop due to my unavailability during the work day. I've come to terms with this for social reasons but when it comes to my kids, it's pretty upsetting. Personally I'm fortunate enough to have an extremely flexible employer, who basically lets me come and go as I please, but I do have to take unpaid time off sometimes to do so. I really feel for the people who don't have the same luxury.

A couple of weeks ago my daughter went to camp. I love the camp, I love the people who run it, she loves it, it is an amazing place. I cannot say enough good things about it...BUT. Drop off was in the middle of the day Monday and pick up was the middle of the day on Friday.  Because of the logistics of it all, I missed a total of 12 hours of work in order to get her to and from (it's twenty miles from home). Frustrating.

We have attended two different churches with some regularity over our married life - one in Summerville and one in Charleston. Loved both of them but ran into the same working mom challenge - small groups, Bible studies, volunteer opportunities etc., predominantly scheduled during the day. Many children's activities were the same way, I guess the presumption being that their non-working outside the home moms would bring them. So no women's retreat, no children's choir, no luncheons etc. No close friends made because you are only there on Sunday mornings. Again, frustrating.

Recently I realized that our school's "meet the teacher" time was scheduled smack in the middle of the day. Again, as an involved parent, I will find a way to get there and do the drill but will need to take unpaid time again as well as go out of my way to attend. I am well aware that the teachers and staff have been putting in a lot of time leading up to the opening of school, and most of them have their own families to tend to as well, but like I said to a friend, there just has to be some kind of middle ground.

I'm not trying to make anyone else's life harder, because God knows, most of us are just doing the best we can. But the mean part of my mind is hissing, "they do this on purpose, because they know that the SAHMs do the lion's share of the volunteering." Uh-huh. Oh yes, I do sometimes think that, even though I know it's not true. It's not true, right? Right? Please just tell me that I'm being crazy.

How do other working moms deal with this? Is this something you've noticed, or am I living in my own personal Twilight Zone?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

My William is Nine.

Happy birthday amaze us every day. 

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

I'm Looking For Opinions. Yes, Even Yours.

When I write, typically the post has been percolating in my head for a few days before I begin typing. I don't plan my writing in advance, although I do sometimes jot down things I mean to think about later. So usually, I just get started and with about 30-45 minutes of uninterrupted work, the post is done. I do a re-read and some basic editing for spelling and grammar but that's it.

Sometimes though, it takes more than that. Like right now, I'm having these fleeting thoughts about a couple of different topics that are much more intense, but they are like wisps of smoke that drift through my head and then poof!, they disappear. I'm not sure how to catch these thoughts but I'd really like because I think they have merit and should be explored. But I swear sometimes they're gone before I can even get to a piece of paper, which is super frustrating.

I'd like to know what other bloggers and writers do if they experience this. I feel that I'm at a point where my writing has improved but that it's time to dig a little deeper. Anyone have any input?

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Mama Bear Surprised Me

When I was pregnant for the first time, I never had a doubt that I would love my baby. I had doubts about many other things, but loving him/her was not one of them. I was excited about being pregnant, I was looking forward to meeting (turned out to be) her and I knew I loved my baby when the second pink line showed up in February of 2001. I counted down the days, weeks and moments until we finally met, in October of that same year.

Interestingly enough, what I did not count on was the ferocity of the love I felt when she was born. Being a first time parent, I had heard about "mama bear" and "doing anything for my kids" etc., but really that had no serious relevance to me, simply because I had no frame of reference for those kinds of feelings. Waves of that feeling washed over me once she arrived, but they reached a (then) crescendo the day after she was born.

Having sent my husband home for a shower etc., I sent Cecilia to the nursery so that I could have a shower myself. (y'all know that there is not much like the first post-delivery shower. Bliss is not a strong enough word in my opinion). Upon returning to the nursery once I was finished, I realized that she was not where I left her. My first reaction was to question myself, just thinking that maybe I just didn't recognize her amongst the other newborns because she was less than 24 hours old. Once I established that she just wasn't in sight, my second reaction was something like this: 

Or something like that. 

In my bathrobe, I began pounding on the nursery glass with both fists, whisper-yelling, "WHERE is she?!?!" to the very startled nursery nurses. They instantly sprang into action, and showed me where she was - across the room under the warmer, because she was a little cold. One came out into the hallway to comfort me, and while the details are a little hazy, I'm pretty sure she offered crazy pills. The next nurse wrapped Celi up in a blanket and brought her out so that her nut-case mama could hold her.

Oops...silly me.

This all struck me as quite interesting after I calmed down. This person, whom I had never met up until the day before, inspired a protective and near violent reaction when I could not locate her in less than five seconds. How many people have you been willing to react like for after having known them for less than 24 hours? I'm not sure about you, but my list is way short, like two names long.

In a weird way, I love that about being a parent. That I love someone so much that I have no restraint, no inhibition and definitely no fear holding me back from the many different emotions I have about them. It's just such a raw and unfettered feeling, not hampered by what anyone thinks, or societal norms, or anything that really matters. I've read that being a mother means wearing your heart on the outside of your body for the rest of your life and that's okay with me. Maybe we'd be a little nicer to each other if all our hearts were worn that way.

What about you? Have you ever had feelings about parenting that surprised you?

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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How To Launch A Boat, Connelly Style

There are many, many blogs out there giving directions about how to do all kinds of things, both complex and simplistic. Normally, there is a set of instructions and if you play your cards right, following them will yield a result at least close to what you desire. However, here in the Connelly household, normal is just a setting on the dryer.

This past weekend, we were fortunate enough to have a boat at our disposal. We decided to put in at a fairly quiet landing, as I'm super rusty in the boating department and Lawton can't very well back the boat/trailer down the ramp and captain said boat all at once. The launch began well enough, but it became evident within moments that this experience would go down as, well, normal, by our standards.

And so, without further ado, I present to you an exceptionally clear and concise list of ways not to launch a boat.

1. Borrow your friends boat. Be sure that it has a brand new stainless steel prop on it that has never been used, and is in pristine condition.

2. Drive your friend's boat to a landing that does not have a dock for loading passengers, belongings and pets; one that is also split with a cement curb and with perilous rocks on each side of the cement ramp.

3. Have your wife stand thigh deep in the water in order to direct you down the ramp, but be sure the tide is racing one direction and the wind whipping in the other, so that you achieve maximum hovering difficulty.

4. Back boat down the ramp - be certain that the boat teeters precariously on the edge of the ramp, threatening to drop off the edge into the barnacle covered rocks.

5. Once boat is off the trailer and floating, send wife to park truck and trailer. When she comes back from doing this, yell for her to grab your cigarettes. Idle nearby while she walks back to parked vehicle to retrieve said smokes, ignore her swearing and cussing under her breath.

6. Accept the raincoat wrapped cigarettes (and also her cover-up) from your wife while she stands again in thigh high water at the end of the ramp.

7. Assist wife into the moving/drifting/motoring boat while she dangles from the railing on the gunwale. Make sure there is no ladder or any other foothold for her to use to get in said moving v-hull boat. Heave her fat ass over the side in front of a passel of laughing county boys - be sure that the boat is drifting directly towards the nearest dock while your children shriek in terror.

8. Laughing, congratulate yourselves on a clean getaway, then cruise slowly down the creek. Turn, smiling, and ask your wife if she also retrieved your lighter. Act surprised when she answers to the negative, bearing in mind that normally you carry lighters in your backpack, which is already on the boat.  

9. Head back to landing, let (boating rusty) wife captain the boat while you jump in to thigh high water, head towards ramp so to retrieve said lighter. Fall over sideways from racing current and howling wind - be sure that your flip-flops come off, ensuring that you step on oysters, thus slicing up your feet, causing you to bleed like stink. Catch shoes.

10. Come back to ramp after retrieving lighter. Be sure that wife is successfully idling boat nearby. Encourage wife to come pick you up from ramp, while you are once again standing in thigh high water, clutching your cigarette lighter. Begin pickup process again.

Bonus points if: your wife panics when the boat gets very close to the ramp near where you are standing, and slams the throttle forward when she meant to reverse in a very big hurry, so as not to run over her husband with a twenty foot boat. Be sure that your children continue to shriek as if their very souls are being ripped from their bodies.

MORE bonus points if: in her moment of panicking throttle indiscretion, your wife not only drives your friend's boat directly into the rocks, but ALSO whips the boat around so that the brand new stainless steel prop comes into intimate contact with the very rocks she's been trying to avoid.

And finally, accept assistance from ramp-sitting local observers, and swear to self never to go to a boat landing without a dock. Also, kick self for all of this happening over a cigarette lighter. (okay, I said that, not him, but still.)

Proceed to miraculously enjoy the rest of your day without boating incident, unless you count rain. Which I don't, considering all of the above. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how not to launch a boat. You're welcome.

PS. This is one example among a host of others as to why I take pills. It's just better for everyone.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

I Chumped Out of BlogHer 2012. In NYC. Because I'm An Idiot.

Once upon a time, there was an outgoing and strong girl who gave all appearances of being fearless. And then when she wanted to attend a gigantic blogging conference in New York City she found herself too scared to go.

I don't know anyone, she thought. What if the people I interact with virtually don't like the me in person, she worried. I don't have a buddy to face all these strangers with, no one to cling to the wall with if I feel intimidated, she fretted. My clothes and shoes and accessories and hair and makeup and ohmygoodness I need to lose 20 pounds instantly and have a facial and...OH what in the world will I ever say when someone asks me what my "goals for blogging" are?! she thought to herself, while mentally wringing her hands.

Then she thought, maybe she would just hide in the bathroom like her favorite blogger, but then no one would talk to her at all because she's not famous like Jenny. Which is fine, but who wants to pay for airfare, conference passes and a hotel room just to stay in the bathroom cringing with fear for three days?

So that girl, who actually really wanted to go to this blogging conference for many reasons, stayed home. And sulked. And kicked herself for being stupid.

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