Thursday, December 31, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
I think I was there for a long time. I have done my fair share of wallowing in the mud and bemoaning my powerlessness of effect positive change. I have sought out people who and activities (and professions, for the love of Pete!) that allowed me to wallow and revel in my negativity and bitterness. My name is Christy and I am addicted to unhappiness. Not only did my negativity affect myself, it bled out into the people around me, to the degree that it sent some people running. After all, emotions are contagious. Daniel Goldman described the concept of emotional contagion in detail if you are inserted in further explanation but, again, I digress...
I eventually discovered that it required way to much energy to keep seeking out negativity to dwell on. I had to divert my attention away from the positive stuff and actively redirect it to the minutia or the stuff that I could not change. I eventually realized that that energy might be better directed to being more proactive in effective positive change. Additionally, it struck me that maybe in my “supporting” others while they wallowed in their own self-pitting and bemoaned their powerlessness and my justification of their bitterness and despair, I was not helping them at all but enabling their own addictions to unhappiness. In retrospect, those people would have been better served had I not facilitated that negativity.
Perhaps this is controversial and perhaps I am pissing some people off. Whatever. I think we need to be pissed off sometimes. And I am not telling people to respond to someone’s unhappiness by telling them to suck it up and look on the bright side. I am not saying that significant obstacles and oppressive conditions to exist for some and not for others. They do and it pisses me off. What I am saying is that we need to redirect the majority of our energy from maintaining a state of being a passive victim of circumstances to becoming more proactive. Sure, it’s hard. It takes A LOT of energy to effective positive change. But isn’t it worth it in the end? Nothing worth doing is ever easy.
I think one of my resolutions for the New Year is to be a better person. It’s a stretch, I know, but humor me. And one of the ways in which I am going to accomplish this is by not enabling addictions to unhappiness. I will offer an ear to listen and a shoulder on which to cry for a while, but there is only so much support you can provide before you hit a point of diminishing returns; or at which point you are no longer helping but hindering. You can only provide so much sympathy and support. At some point, your someone need to recognize the power they DO have to make positive changes and make them rather than focus on the obstacles and become overwhelmed by them. Or nothing is going to change at all.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
Dear potentially delicious dishes,
As you know, I host Christmas dinner each year. And, each year, something goes horribly awry. Being that we (my nuclear family) are usually surrounded by family and friends who truly enjoy the company and the festive atmosphere, the quality of the food is probably not nearly as much of an issue as I am making it out to be. However, I am having nightmares about this year’s culinary catastrophe. Therefore, I implore you to hear me out…
Dear Brussels’ sprouts, why oh WHY do you never turn out as good as you look on the Food Network Holiday specials? Why can you not perform for me as well as you do for Paula Dean, Tyler Florence, and Ina Garten? Do I need more butter? More pork fat? Nutmeg? Do I need to move to the Hamptons, San Francisco, or the South? Tell me what it is that you need and I shall comply. I am here for you with an open and eager heart (and equally eager taste buds)! I only ask that you return the favor… or flavor as the case may be.
To my mother in law’s green bean casserole, I appreciate your elegant spin on a kitchy post-war classic. I really do. But you’re over doing it. You are trying too hard. We love you dearly… at Thanksgiving and Easter. Any more often than that, and you are imposing on our good graces. Some things one should enjoy in small, occasional qualities. You are one of them.
Fruit cake, fruit cake… need I say more? Anything that needs to be soaked in Rum to be palatable is not worth the time and effort it takes to prepare it. I’m sorry. It’s not you… it’s me. Let’s just be friends.
Last but not least, Yorkshire pudding… my long lost love. We are like ships passing in the night! I understand and respect your delicate sensibilities. However, I have not had a good Yorkshire pudding in nearly 20 years. Despite chilling my batter, adjusting the the egg to flour ratio, making high-altitude adjustments, using different pans, you still refuse to rise to the occasion. What have I done to offend you? Am I no longer sexy? Tell me, and I shall rectify the situation! I need you… you complete me.
In closing, I would like to say that although the friends and family with whom I am grateful to share the holidays find humor in these gastronomic malfunctions, I am running out of patience. After 14 hours of cooking, I want a delicious dinner. If they want to laugh, I shall bellydance naked in a Santa hat and bangles as I serve dinner. But for the love of all that is good and holy, let it be a delicious dinner!
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Christy tells me she's looking for a recipe for homemade irish cream. Bring it on, sister!
So, I survived making my rounds at three elementary school christmas parties. Kindergarteners are loud, second graders are goofy, and fifth graders are just rude. I gave each of the kids teachers a bottle of wine. Turns out, that was exactly what they wanted. I'm the star pupil now. My kids were surely have straight A's this semester. Never again will I give another teacher a gift card. They're so gift cardy, you know?
Oh, lord. The screams are increasing here in the land of Christmas Break. I can't even think right now. I'm done already. I'm starting the liquid diet.
Monday, December 14, 2009
I woke up this morning late, with 30 minutes before the kids had to be at school and an hour before I had to be at work. It was a mad, mad rush to get out the door on time, complete with a mini-meltdown from seven-year-old (I asked her to at least BRING a coat… what was I thinking?), an extra dose of smart-aleck-ery from my ten-year-old, missing toothbrushes, a stubbed toe, and breakfast in a baggy to eat in the car for all. Honey Bunches of Oats, no milk.
I got to work 30 minutes late to an in-box full of urgent “update needed” messages on projects that I received on 3:00pm on Friday (I don’t work the weekends and my hours are included in my signature line) and more requests for projects with less than half the information I need to even start them. After replying to everyone in kind, I began working on said projects only to be interrupted at least three times an hour by either my boss asking for project updates or fellow employees dropping their baskets. Apparently my 14x5 foot office is where it’s at when you’re having an emotional breakdown. I honestly don’t usually mind, unless there are people standing at the door with their faces pressed against the glass (yes, it’s a glass door) with a look of manic desperation in their eyes, waiting for me to enter their data or edit their manuscript as if it were a matter of life and death. Which there were today.
My last meeting ran long, so I had to run a half a mile to my car to make sure that I got to the school in time to pick up my children and avoid feeling even more like the Worst Mother Ever. Then I dealt with the Commute from Hell that included an unusually large amount of left-lane-cruisers, tailgaters, and law enforcement officers which put a damper on my initial plan to haul ass. I didn’t flip anyone the bird, though, and I only used one small bit of profanity with regards to the above mentioned fellow motorists (who were experiencing a collective moment of cognitive flatulence), and so I feel good about that. Unfortunately, I had to brave the kiss-and-go line (the most inefficient method of picking up children from school ever) and deal with people who feel that they are all more important and in more of a hurry than everyone else and nearly getting rear ended a total of four times.
Now, I am procrastinating entering even more data for at least a couple more hours this evening before I can completely unwind, which I won’t do because it won’t be enough. It never is. Happy Monday, folks! It’s time for a beer… or five.
That said, I just returned from taking one of my furry children to the vet. He has been pooping consistently one of the dinning room chairs. One of the nice dinning room chairs. He was diagnosed with “anal sac-itis”, a chronic inflammation of his anal glands that results in overly thick sebaceous discharge and occasional constipation due to pain. He had to have his anal glands expressed. He was humiliated and in pain. I could tell by the look in his eyes. And he blamed me for it. Can you blame him?
So the take home message here is: when you have a bad day, there is always someone (human or otherwise) who has it much, much worse. I may have had a long and frustrating commute and I may have had encounters with unusually unrealistic coworkers but I do NOT have anal-sac-itis. It's all relative.
Monday, December 7, 2009
“Volunteer activities can foster enormous leadership skills. The non professional volunteer world is a laboratory for self-realization.” Mae West
I just volunteered to work at AmeriTown during my son’s class field trip. They are going to learn economics, business management, and free enterprise and I and 15 other luck parents am going to assist in that endeavor. However, this is the only event I have volunteered for this school year and it will most likely be the last. In the eight years that my children have been in school, I have averaged about one event per year per child. This year will be a low point in the self-realization department. Sorry, Mae.
You might ask why I am so stingy with my time. Indeed, I often ask the same question and succumb to the guilt of not feeling like I have an adequate answer. I know other parents who regularly volunteer. I often hear about how well my children are doing in reading and math from these "good parents". Sometimes I wonder if they know my children better than I do; my kids usually call the good parents by their first names 'cause they’re tight like that. On the other hand, my children’s classmates call me "(Insert Kid Name)'s Mom". I don’t think they know that I have a first name. But I digress (I do this often. I fear it’s the early stages of cognitive decline and I have taken up Scrabble to try to combat it. I am terrible at Scrabble and there is no hope)… The take home point here is that I am one of those parents who only attend events when forced. I have heard this referred to as being “voluntold”: a clever contraction of the words "volunteered" and "being told" (I think “voluguilt” is better, personally, but it doesn’t sound as good). I often bring baked goods for parties or potlucks but, alas, this does not carry the same weight as a personal appearance.
My lack of charitability is not limited to school events. I have not volunteered in any capacity (other than the above mentioned bi-annual school event) nor have I financially contributed to any charities in at least a year. I recently failed to fulfill a pledge to some organization or other. I was a little abrupt to the gentleman who called to remind me of my commitment when I told him that I had to retract my generous pledge in favor of paying my mortgage. I actually feel kind of bad about it. In fact, I had planned to contribute 10% of my paycheck each pay period to certain charities but we are in a different position now than were in when I made that plan, and my family is my priority. I still feel guilty about it, though.
Unfortunately, time, money, and energy are not infinite resources. I think most people can understand and appreciate (and relate to, in many cases) the lack of time and money. The energy issue is less concrete. I have a friend who described it like this: our energy is like a pitcher of water and we pour out little bits of it throughout our lifetime. If we’re lucky, we have something or someone (or family full of someones) who refill that pitcher when the water runs low. And sometimes, for whatever reason, we have commitments that require more water than can be refilled as quickly as it's poured out. My sister took this idea further by suggesting that women tend to be especially guilty of spreading themselves to thin – of giving away so much of their water than there is nothing left for themselves. She likened this to a car running until it was broken down. What good are we doing anyone when we run until we break down on the side of the road and have nothing left to give? Why is it such a crime to slow down a little?
Although I believe strongly that it does indeed “take a village” however hokey we believe that phrase to be. I want to be a good village member – I really do! But I also believe strongly that, to be a positive contributing member of society, you need to be healthy. If you’re pitcher is empty, you’re not healthy. Our family and friends should get the lion’s share of our energy and if we have enough left over (and this applies to money and time, as well), by all means, share it with those less fortunate.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
After a highly scientific data collection (IE discussions on Facebook and during happy hour with friends) and analysis process, we have come up with a “Top Five List of Myths about Women in terms of Romantic Relationships”.
Feel free to contribute your own myths, comment on these myths, or share any thoughts you may have on this issue or not... We’re not picky.
1. We DO want our romantic partners to be just like us (Sweet baby Jesus! Can you imagine? I shudder at that possibility.)
2. We DO want our romantic partners to be mind readers (Usually, if people truly listen to what other people say, they won’t need to be a mind-reader to figure out what they want and need. Amazing but true. And honestly, what goes on in our heads should probably stay there more often than not.)
3. We DO want a domestic man (credit for this one goes to my cousin, Sari. Although I have to say: I [Christy] have a domestic man and I rather enjoy it. He makes a mean tuna noodle casserole and irons a hard crease like no other. He looks sexy in an apron... He’s a keeper.)
4. We DO want another parent (need I comment on this one?)
5. We DON’T want or need as much sex as men (although the “good” sex stipulation may be a confounding factor now that I think about it…)
Thursday, December 3, 2009
As many of you know Tiger Woods is a hot topic for the media this week (CHRISTY: despite the fact that there was a Presidential address on future direction on the Afghanistan conflict, including sending still more troops, but I digress…). The incident has also made for some interesting discussion on my Facebook page. More and more "women" (I put that in quotes, because I hardly think they deserve the title [I personally do not want to be categorized with people who cheerfully profit of the misery of others]) are surfacing with their “Tales of the Tiger.” The degree of cheating varies, but in my book (and I think in most wives books) cheating is cheating.
That said, I do like the way that Elin handled the situation. Had the situation been reversed, you know Tiger would be behind bars but hey, that's not the point (CHRISTY: sex-specific double standards are always a point, but again, I digress…). I'm certain that Elin knew that something was going on before he told her. Women have this amazing thing called Women's Instinct and it rarely lets us down. It was the confirmation of that instinct that got her. She should have used a driver instead of an iron, and then she should have chased down that little &$(#& and let her (or them) have it, too (CHRISTY: he made the commitment IMO, although the little tramp is profiting off her pain, so maybe there is something to a double homicide…).
The most disappointing part of this is that Tiger is a self proclaimed man of faith and integrity. He chose to put that out there and to be a role model for our youth. I managed to turn this into a lesson for my hormonal, preteen son. This morning, while I sat watching the news, he noticed all the talk about Tiger and asked what was going on. I had to break the news to him that Tiger is human (Cheating is not human, it's F-ed up, and only acceptable for animals), and a jackass. I gave him a brief lesson on respect for women (FYI kiddo, trampy girlfriend from previous post has not reached woman status, yet [CHRISTY: sounds like that won’t happen if you have anything to say about it, Lisa!]), loyalty, and the meaning value of a marriage (CHRISTY: and commitment – you make a promise and you keep it. Period). I really don't know if he understood, but it was my way of turning a bad situation into a less bad situation, as well as helping mold my boy into a (better) man (a way better man than YOU, Chee-tah!)
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
25 Obscure Facts About or Related to Women, Mothers, and Mothering That You Never Knew You Wanted to Know...
On that note, here is some food for thought. My favorite kind of food... the kind that does not require you breaking out your maternity pants if you over-indulge. Feel free to add your own obscure facts.
1. Women have faster blood flow to the brain than men.
2. Women suffer less hearing loss than men.
3. A Pueblo Indian woman divorces her husband by putting his moccasins outside the front door (The moccasins are made for walkin’...)
4. Wearing high heels can make women better in bed by strengthening their pelvic muscles.
5. Mother's Day accounts for more than one-fifth of the floral purchases made for holidays.
6. An AT&T survey estimated that 122.5 million phone calls to Mom are made on Mother's Day.
7. Other Mother's Day findings revealed that 11 percent never call their mothers, and 3 percent of the 68 percent planning to ring Mom up called her collect.
8. The world’s first novel, The Tale of Genji, was published in Japan around A.D. 1000 by female author Murasaki Shikibu
9. The probability of a woman giving birth to a baby girl instead of a baby boy increases significantly the nearer the mother lives to the equator. While the cause of this gender selection is unknown, scientists believe the constant sunlight hours and abundant food supply in tropical regions may favor female births.
10. 67% of women in Kentucky, ages 15 to 44, are mothers. This is among the highest rates in the nation. The national average is 57 percent.
11. August is the most popular month in which to have a baby, with more than 360,000 births taking place that month in 2001.
12. Tuesday is the most popular day of the week in which to have a baby, with an average of more than 12,000 births taking place on Tuesdays during 2001.
13. In 2002, the 55% of American women with infant children were in the workforce, compared to 31% in 1976, and down from 59% in 1998. In 2002, there were 5.4 million stay-at-home mothers in the US.
14. The average woman in America earns seventy-nine cents for every dollar made by the average male.
15. One-third of the families headed by women live below the poverty line.
By the twenty-first century 99% of the people on welfare will be women and dependent children.
16. Of the brighter high school graduates who do not go on to college, 70% to 90% are girls.
17. As more men have entered the field of elementary education in the past twenty-five years, the pay scale in that profession has risen disproportionately.
18. As more women have entered the field of accounting in the past twenty-five years, the pay scale in that profession has remained static.
19. In a recent pole taken by the "New York Times" 62% of working women interviewed agreed with this statement: "Most men are willing to let women get ahead, but only if women do all the housework at home first."
20. Many of the sweaters worn by Mr. Rogers on the popular television show, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, were actually knitted by his real mother.
21. Monkee Mike Nesmith's mother, Bette Nesmith Graham was the inventor of Liquid Paper correction fluid. She sold the rights to the Gillette Corporation in 1979 for $47.5 million and when she died in 1980, she left half of her fortune to her son Michael.
22. Eric Clapton was born to an unwed mother and to shield him from the shame, Eric grew up believing that his grandparents were his parents and his mother was his sister.
23. The name of Snoopy's mother, which is from the Peanuts cartoon strip, is Missy
24. Singer and songwriter, Cheryl Crow, has been known to sing back up for the Counting Crows.
25. Robert Smith of The Cure has been known to play guitar for Siouxsie and the Banshees.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
"Dear #1, why won't you tell me that you love me? I've told you that I love you and I think it's only fair"
I'd like to say to her: "Girlfriend, you're 10. You don't even know what love is, and neither does #1. #1 loves his mother, soccer, cartoons, and video games. Not you."
Note 2: "Dear #1: When are you going to kiss me?"
I'd like to say to her: "NEVER. That's when he's going to kiss you. Don't you know that boys have koodies when you're 10? They do."
Note 3: "Dear #1 I want you to FRENCH KISS me, but I think you're too shy."
I'd like to say to her: "HELLO!?! Do you even know that that means? Unfortunately, yes, you probably do. Which makes this whole thing even more disturbing. Stay away from my baby. And yes he's too shy, but he's also smart."
Note 4: "Dear #1. Your friend told me I should break up with you. What should I do? Should I break up with you?"
I'd like to say to her: "No, you should not break up with my son! That's his job. We've given him the talk about self respect and not wasting his time on nasty girls. Don't you dare break my son's heart. He'll be the one to break up with you, you little $*%($#"
I'm just too young to have a son with girl problems. I know this is only the begining. I miss the days when our biggest problems were potty training, picking preschools, and teaching him to share. Parenting doesn't get easier as the kids get older, it just gets different and WAY more complicated.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
I am not a fan of taking political correctness to an extreme and labeling every act of violence a "hate crime" (isn't every act of violence a hate crime ultimately? Power breeds conflict which breeds fear and hate and so on). I am not a fan of having to regulate morality. My definition of political correctness and morality boil down to social equity and humanity. Period. Not using differences as an excuse to victimize, denigrate, or oppress others seems like a common sense element to political correctness to me. Am I wrong? What the heck are people teaching their children? To be racist with ginger kicking as a "gateway drug"? And why is Facebook allowing it? Do they have no moral responsibility?
In closing, I urge all of you Facebookers out there to become a fan of the movement AGAINST Kicking a Ginger Day. And I repeat: the first one that kicks this ginger or any of her ginger-ish gets it.
Monday, November 23, 2009
I knew I was a bad mother about three days into the game. That was when my milk should have come in but didn’t and my son screamed bloody murder because, while my body thought colostrum was enough, his did not and he protested. Violently. So violently, in fact, that we were keeping the other new mothers in the post-surgical wing of the “Mother and Baby Unit” awake at night, or so I was told by the nurse who took my baby from me and shoved a bottle in his mouth. You know the other new mothers I’m talking about - the good mothers who could properly feed their babies and, as such, deserved some sleep. Eventually my milk did come in but it was not soon enough for me to evade the pangs of my first failure as a mother.
The next major failure (and I designate this as a “major failure” because there were several failures of less magnitude between this one and those I experienced in the first few harrowing days of my son’s life) was not properly baby proofing our tri-level home. Said home had three small half-flights of stairs: one from the entry way up to the living room, one up from the mudroom next to the garage to the kitchen, and one up from the living room to the bedrooms. I had put baby gates on two of the stairs but, for some reason, did not put a gate on the stairs down to the mudroom. Tiled stairs that led to a tiled floor. Cold, hard tile.
My son – my sweet, happy, and brilliant child despite having the curse of a bad mommy - was just learning to crawl at the time and testing his newly developed skills in between the kitchen and the living room. Unfortunately, his newly acquired locomotion skills failed him when he rounded the corner into the kitchen and he tumbled down the stairs. Thankfully, the only physical damage he sustained was a bump on his forehead and a scrape on his cheek. The emotional damage was far greater, I was sure. During this critical cognitive developmental period of his life when he was struggling with trust versus doubt, I had failed him. In doing so, I was sure that I profoundly damaged his ability to trust anyone ever again.
Yet another major failure was “dropping my basket” after my daughter was born. In layman’s terms, I had severe post-partum depression. I slept too much, cried the majority of the time, and let the house go to crap. I withdrew socially and mentally. I let me marriage deteriorate to a degree that it was almost impossible to recover. I considered suicide. After all, my children would have been much better off without such a terrible mother.
My most recent major failure as a mother was returning to school. This was a doozy and actually included several interrelated residual failures. Ironically, the decision to return to school is what initiated my recovery from the previous major failure of having succumbed to post-partum depression and not having been able to fight it off with the Super Powers that are supposed to come with motherhood (which must be latent as I have yet to have experienced them and it’s been over a decade). Returning to school was like pushing a magic reset button on my personal identity and my value as an individual, beyond just cooking, cleaning, nursing, and changing diapers, It was an opportunity to revive the pieces of me that had atrophied in the previous years and reconcile them with the pieces I had gained in becoming a mother and, more generally, in growing up.
That is not to say it was an easy decision. I felt (and still do to some degree) that I was putting my needs before those of my children and my husband. And perhaps I was, but what kind of parents can someone who has lost so much of herself be? I was not going to be that sort of role model for my children, both for their benefit and my own. Still, I couldn’t shake that stubborn remnant of doubt that I had made the wrong decision and the fear that I would someday see my mistake unfold in living color on the news when my neglected children committed the next Columbinesque school shooting rampage.
These feelings of having critically failed my children – the two most important people in my life - were not abated by the other mothers in playgroups we attended or on the parenting message boards I frequented. Rather, I was continually berated for not having been more informed about breastfeeding and more aggressively resistant to bottle feeding, for not having more effectively baby proofed the mudroom stairs, for not have taken better preventative measures against PPD, and for putting my desire to return to school before the needs of my children. I was continually provided with examples of how other better mothers had much more effectively dealt with these issues and never EVER took their eyes off their children for one minute, how they NEVER made mistakes, and how they ALWAYS put the needs of their children before their own. God forbid these women ever hide in the bathroom for five minutes of solitude. In the places where I was hoping to find support, camaraderie, understanding, and solace, I found some of the ugliest criticism to which I have ever been subjected.
That is not to say that I have not been on the giving end in the Mommy Wars. I have made my share of backhanded comments about formula feeding being tantamount to poisoning babies. I have subtly rebuked playgroupies and fellow message board surfers for choosing medicated childbirth and allowing their babies to “cry it out.” I have audibly “tsk”ed women in King Soopers for yelling at their children during a shopping expedition. I was a perpetrator of Guerilla Mommy Warfare. But I have since realized that all of the energy I was spending on tactical offensive “I am a better mommy than you” attacks or defending myself against return fire was energy I should have been spending on my children. They had effectively become Mommy War Refugees. These little people who had come into my life and ultimately changed it for the better. That was the biggest failure of all.
I have often wondered why other women are our own worst enemy. Perhaps it’s a case of downward social comparison – if you drag others down and focus on their failings, it minimizes your own. That was the case for me, in retrospect. Maybe it has more to do with caving under the social pressure applied to women to do it all - to be the perfect mother, the successful (yet not bitchy) corporate executive, to perfectly execute those elusive Super Mommy Powers – and the criticism that mothers levy on one another is a form of displacement. But I have given up wondering, just as I have given up the battle, and I no longer regard every one of my mistakes as a failure on my part with the potential of irreparably damaging my children. It is what it is, and the only thing I can do about it is to avoid falling into the same traps from this point on. I try to be more empathetic when I see a woman speak too sharply to her whining children in the grocery store or the woman who is late picking her kids up from school; not because I am better person than those Message Board Nazis but because I have been there. I have been that woman at my wits end because I have had three hours of sleep in the last week because of a colicky baby, and I have been the one driving up to the pick-up line at the school to see my children standing pitifully on the curb with a scowling teacher’s aide who is no doubt eager to get home to here own children. I have felt the tug of war between my children’s needs and my own. What those women need to hear is not how someone else handled it all better but how they are not alone in this struggle to do what’s right for their families and themselves.