Thursday, August 21, 2014

Meet the Parents

It's that time of year when the kids are back to school, providing me some relief from the constant whining and sibling rivalry of the summer.  But it also kicks my anxiety into high gear.   Because school brings kids, teachers, coaches and parents. In other words, humans.  And forces me into situations where I must meet and talk to new people.  People who don't know I'm desperately shy and socially anxious.  And that this is the reason I'm not making eye contact, small talk and I've placed myself at the the back of the room.  Or my back is turned to them.

Making me appear to be a snobby bitch.  
(Which I'm not by the way.  Really.)

I have tried to be more social and stop the vicious cycle.  Over and over again.  But, if you're not an introvert who is shy (yes, one can be an introvert and not be plagued with shyness)  you may not know how physically painful and completely exhausting social interactions can be.  And that for me to have enough reserve energy to come off as "normal", I need downtime before to mentally prepare.  And downtime after to process it.  Or in other words, a generous post interaction period to berate myself for all the stupid things I said and dwell on what I should have said in hindsight instead.

But I don't have this time because I'm busy!
(Ok, I DO always make time for the berating portion.)

So, while I have developed an innate skill for avoiding pleas for PTO members, room moms, field trip volunteers or anything else that requires human interaction, getting to know moms so they will allow their kid to have a play date with my kid is a priority.  To do this, I must convince them I'm not the serial killer I may appear to be at first meeting.    

Which of course, leads right back to the beginning.
(This may take the whole school year....)

Suggested Reading:  My Age of Anxiety by Scott Stossel
                                     Quiet by Susan Cain

Monday, August 18, 2014

Bedtime Stories

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There comes a great turning point in parenting.  And that is when your kids begin to stay up later than you.  And then sleep until noon.  And you can't stop yourself from getting up at 6am out of routine.  The same routine those kids got you into when they were little, which probably started at 5am when they woke up and you swore you weren't going to allow them to get out of bed until the magic hour of 6am.  But you did anyhow.  Because you were helpless to prevent it.  Much like you are now.

It used to be mornings of chaos.  Waking to the demands of small tyrants.  Oatmeal!  Toast!  Why don't you ever buy the good cereal?  Now, come Monday when school starts, I will drag my kids sorry, grumpy asses out of bed.  They will drink coffee.  I will beg them to eat before they go to school.  I will buy any cereal to get them to do this.  They won't.  They're teenagers.  

But, at night I'm slumped on the couch nearly comatose at 9pm.  Who am I kidding?  8pm.   Gone are the days of reading soothing bedtime stories to lull them to sleep.   Now they're energized at night.  And they want to watch Shark week right before bed.  And then tell me how they suddenly need a protractor for school tomorrow. Really?  They didn't need a protractor at 3pm when they came home from school?  Are you kidding me?  The only thing I'm doing at this time of night is going to bed!

When exactly did I turn into an old person?

I think it starts the second you have a kid and your life is dictated by a petite but powerful dictator.  You try to have your own life.  To keep doing the things you did before kids.  Late night concerts, last minute road trips and romantic evenings in the privacy of your own home.  But, it's a losing battle.  It will break you eventually.  This is what parenting does.  It gives you gray hairs and makes you say phrases your parents said to you, that you swore you would never say.  It makes you old.   And you're just too damn busy and exhausted to notice.

This is the circle of life.  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Teenage Dream

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It's dangerously close to the end of summer. And you know how near the end of anything that thing seems to become nearly intolerable.  Like my kids on summer break.  The complaining, the fighting.  the angst and the need to be chauffeured in opposite directions of town at the same exact time. But, that's not the worst of it.  The worst is two little seemingly innocent words that enrage me beyond words.

 "I know." 

My house is a barrage of 'I knows'.  From morning until night.  Miraculously, my kids know everything.  It's true.  However, they don't do anything with all this 'knowing'.  So while they constantly parrot, "I know", I constantly parrot back another two words. "Show me".  

But they never do.

It's frustrating as hell and a legacy handed down from generation to generation.  I remember delivering the same words, with the same definitive, degrading snark to my mom.  Absolutely positive that she was an idiot, who didn't understand anything.  Exactly like my kids do to me.  


I wish I could tell my mom how sorry I am I was such a pain in the ass teenager.
Because I now have pain is the ass teenagers of my own.
And I'm positive she'd simply say, "I know." 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Unsleeping Bag

When you really think about it, our national obsession with camping sounds pretty stupid.  Leaving our perfectly comfortable homes, packing up half of it to sleep outside in utter discomfort among the bear infested forests.   Wait.  Why do we do this again?  Oh yeah, because this is fun.

That's why we headed up to 10,000 feet elevation.  Because apparently, 7,000 feet sleeping in your own bed isn't fun enough.  

At the beginning of the trip, it does seem fun. Kind of.  For a few brief seconds, after you've packed the car full, gone through the checklist in your mind a few hundred times and assured yourself, yes, I have packed enough alcohol to keep me warm even if I forgot my wool socks and hat.  Which is right before you get there and have to set every tent, tarp and sleeping bags at warp speed racing the impending rain.  Cause there is always impending rain.  And it's a much worse threat than the bears.  After all, getting eating by a bear would just put you out of your misery.

After camp setup then there's making the dinner, cleaning up after it and starting the bundling process when the sun goes down and the marshmallows make their gooey, messy debut insuring you won't be able to find where the hell you packed the wet wipes.   Then, it'll be time to head to your tent to bed down for the night in your sleeping bag.  Oh sure, it seemed warmed and cozy when you packed it up sweating in 80 degree weather.  But now that it's 40 outside, it seems more like a wet blanket.

That's when you realize that what seemed like a flat place to put the tent is not in fact flat.

And that you can't sleep in the fetal position all night to keep yourself warm without cramping up.

And that rolling over in a sleeping bag while trying to keep your wool hat and socks on while trying not to be strangled by your 5 layers of clothes ending in a hoodie without getting intricately twisted like a long strand of cold, black licorice is impossible.  IMPOSSIBLE I SAID!

So that whole delusion of sleeping in the cool mountain air under the stars, with the lullaby of the mountain stream?  It's complete bullshit. 

Sleeping bag?  Check.
5 layers of clothes?  Check.
Wool hat? Check.
Eye bags from not sleeping?  Check.
So the next morning, when Craig rolled over and asked, "How'd you sleep?" 
My response was, "I haven't yet."  

And this is why I call it them unsleeping bags.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome:  Tightly linked to the twin fears of failure and success, impostor syndrome is at the heart of the fear of self-promotion. Those suffering from this common syndrome are afraid that others will find out that they don't, in fact, know what they are doing at work or school, or even in their daily lives. This fear, in turn, leads sufferers to downplay or even hide their achievements and avoid climbing the professional ladder. People with this syndrome also tend to obsess about their perceived weaknesses rather than celebrating their accomplishments.

Whenever I receive compliments, I feel this way:  Like a complete and utter fraud.  'Receive' is actually the wrong word here .  'Deflect' would be far more accurate.  Because no matter how sincere and well intentioned the complimenter, I will make things awkward and uncomfortable for them.  And probably make them regret their well intentioned words by shoving it back down their throats and making them choke on them.  Metaphorically speaking, of course.

My fear of failure is constantly doing battle with my fear of success.  Making marketing my writing nearly impossible.  Anything I do, or don't, makes me feel ashamed.  Not of my writing, but the attention that may come from attempting to promote it.  The guilt over feeling the need to have people read what I wrote seems selfish.  And narcissistic.

I've been through the cycle many times.  I psych myself up.  Everyone who has a business needs to market.  I'm only informing them I have something, not shoving it down their throats.  Unless it's a compliment of course.  And the killer...Why do I feel like this is perfectly okay and necessary for everyone else to do but me?  WHY?  

So I do what I always do.  

Then I quietly panic.  Because I know I'm headed for failure if I keep this up.  I know my fate is to be passed over and forgotten.  And I know I'm the only person to blame.  For sabotaging myself.  But I don't know what to do about it.

Will I do what I always do?

Monday, August 4, 2014

Self Analysis

I've always enjoyed writing. Although, I never took any classes in how to do it.  But, when a 20 page research paper got assigned in college, I think I was the only dork mouthing "yeeeeeeessss" under my breath from the back of the class. Plus a paper meant mandatory library hours where I could go ogle (please note this is not 'google', it didn't exist then) the books on so many topics I didn't know anything about (yet) so as to feel small, insignificant and kind of stupid.  You can analyze what this this means, but I already have:  I'm self deprecating and psychotic. (By the way, I'm super excited I used a colon there.  Correctly too, I believe.)

Photo credit:

Fast forward some 20 odd years later.  There is no library card catalog because of google. While the internet has made it easy to access information without getting out of our pajamas, it's also corrupted our short term memories and stolen our ability to spell.  Guilty as charged.  Then out of the blue it happened, the last thing anyone would expect in this day and digital age, "Would you be my pen pal?"  Old fashioned letters on paper written in long hand with thought and intent, signed, sealed and delivered after weeks of suspense. Yeeeeeeeeeeeeesssssssssssssss!

I have not hand written more than a shopping list or accusatory notes to my kids since college.  And as my kids tell me often, I have atrocious handwriting.  Also, I don't write in cursive. Ever.  I haven't since probably junior high.  Plus, I write in all caps, like I'm shouting at the reader.  I don't know why I do this.  But I figure, it probably means I'm destined to become a serial killer or something.

Exhibit A:  Sample of my handwriting

Of course, I forewarned my pen-pal about my handwriting.   Then he reminded me he's a 7th grade language arts teacher and if he can decipher the penmanship of tweens with calloused texting thumbs and twitchy x-box fingers, he would have no problem with mine.  Touche.  (No, I don't know how to make that little apostrophe thingy on there because I'm technologically illiterate. But I would totally add it in a letter.  Just sayin'.)

It was while I was writing a letter to my pen pal, which is in the same stream of consciousness style I write this blog with, that I pondered, with pen in hand, what my penmanship or lack thereof, meant.  And I immediately logged on to the library website and ordered some handwriting analysis books for some deep self analysis.  I mean, I think I should be the first to know if I'm destined to kill someone.

The most succinct graphology guide at my library.

GOOD NEWS:  I am definitively NOT a serial killer!  But, I am an efficient, non-superfluous, spontaneous, grounded, yet private person.  I feel like my pen pal in particular should know this about me because I have his physical address and he knows I have a penchant for swords.  I will neither stab you, nor kill you slowly smothering you in useless, unnecessary words.  I do wonder if takes a red pen to my letters though...


I briefly considered organizing a 'Save Graphology' 5k run. But I'm too lazy to hand write the invitations. Never mind the t-shirts.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Family Planning

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We had a plan.  Of course nothing went according to plan.  Nothing ever does.  In my 20's when everyone else was on birth control, I was trying to get pregnant.  Now in my mid- 40's when some women are trying extraordinary measures to get pregnant, I'm trying desperately not to.  Which wasn't helped at all when I dropped my birth control pill in the dog's water bowl earlier this week.  But this post isn't about that.  It's about the other kind of family planning.  Trying to get anywhere with 4 kids, 2 dogs and 1 husband.

After my last post which contained a video of my friends ogling my bedroom renovation, a twenty something from Twitter asked me if my friends come over all the time and hang out.  And I about spit out my coffee.  Because apparently if you're in your twenties without kids you have no idea what kind of major military operation it is to go anywhere or to just have people over at your house when you all have kids.  (And I'm not even including cleaning your house just enough so people don't call CPS on you.)

As are the kids.  Not to mention, the damn dogs.

So, at the small, intimate renovation party I had (that I feel guilty I couldn't invite ALL my friends to), one of my very good friends, Victoria, broke the news that she's moving two hours away.  If you don't have kids, you might think....A measly two hours?  No biggie!  But you'd be wrong.  So completely wrong.  Because last summer I had two very good friends, Suzanne and Mary move one hour away, to Denver.  So I can verify that I don't see either of them near enough because of our family schedules.

Take for example last Sunday.
When we had a tentative family date with my friend, Mary and her family.
Who also has 4 kids.

Originally, we wanted to go tubing.  Problem was, the river doesn't have cell service and Craig was on-call for work.  Mary has derby practice Sunday mornings, so we'd meet in the afternoon.  That was until Sky came home the night before and informed us he took on someone else's hours at work the next day, not knowing we had family plans.  He'd start work at 4.  So between roller derby practice and work, we had between the hours of  2 and 4 to make this happen. (I didn't even mention  accounting for the dogs' walk to insure they don't pee on my new flooring.)  Then, it takes and hour to drive to Denver, providing Sky with some supervised driving hours with his permit.  Risking the lives of the entire family.  Of course none of this worked.  Well, we didn't die.  So that worked.  But, after a whole series of snafus and life circumstances, we didn't end up connecting. 

But, that wasn't the worst part.  When we were almost home, driving through thick traffic and rain, rushing to get Sky to work on time, Sky found out he didn't, in fact, have to work after all.

Our family plan would've worked too !
 If it wasn't for that meddling kid who's conscientious and motivated to work to earn money to buy himself a car.


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