my tragic right hip

Busting out bad joints all over the place

May 29th, 2013

The New Normal

This picture has been sitting here, awaiting a post, for weeks. That’s the pace of my life at the moment–frantic. We were just lamenting this in the office the other day, a co-worker and I, how we missed

[And that’s where I started and left this post for a few more weeks.]

The inevitable pace of my life is such that I can’t seem to string two consistent thoughts together–they’re all in a jumble, each jumping up and down for attention, until my head feels like a pinball machine on speed.

[And here we pause again to get some work done. To have a meeting. To set up some meetings].

The whole point of this post, when I imagined it in my mind, was to talk about the new normal. My RRHB coined this phrase for me–and it’s been reverberating ever since. I’ve been deeply saddened, and having a lot of trouble coping with, the changes in my body/health post-pregnancy + delivery. The bits about the disease have been well worn on these pages, but I kept holding out hope that at some point, my body would rebound. But it hasn’t. For all intents and purposes, and this is happy, happy news–the disease is in remission. My bloodwork is stable for the first time in three years. My body is functioning. My body has a new normal. Getting used to living from such a depleted place takes some getting used to. At first, there’s the decided lack of energy (my kidneys not making enough red blood cells). Then, there’s the bloat and grossness from the meds (baby weight is now just “weight.”). There’s the rough eating habits that go along with not having enough energy (sugar, terrible, sugar). And this all equates the new normal, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m simply mad at myself. And this anger seems to be seeping into all kinds of parts of my life like a fog.

I like to think of myself as a problem solver. I can take a situation and sort it out. I can deal with just about anything, but lately, maybe I’m not quite sure how to deal with the new normal. Perhaps I have aged a century in a couple of years? Perhaps I really need to focus on the few things that I can control, and suss out some Oprah-esque platitudes, when I feel better, I’ll do better (with the diet).

It doesn’t help that we’re so busy these days that time moves at warp speed. When I’m home, my RRHB is working or running errands. When my RRHB is home, I’m doing the same. We are cramming our lives into the edges, and it’s tough–I am not going to lie, I miss lazy Sundays of watching movies (that are not Cars, it’s a great film, but I’ve now seen it 1,000 times), of reading a book in one fell swoop, of taking a long, leisurely walk with my child safely strapped into a stroller (and not complaining about it because, well, he couldn’t). My darling boy races along and we race after him. He’s charged and amped up, gloriously chatty, and deliciously energetic. This is coupled with readily exhausted, super-tantrum prone, and fiercely guarding his onslaught toward independence. He rode a bike the other day. A bike. He’s 2.5 years old. He’ll climb anything. Jump off of anything. Run into anything. He could solve our renewable energy sources if there was a way to project him into the power grid. He’s beyond amazing but with the new normal, I’ll never catch up. I only hope he never notices.

I’ve got a part-time job these days. I’m teaching publishing (publicity in particular) at Ryerson, and I’m finding that truly inspiring. It’s summer hours now, so the Fridays where we’re not going to the cottage, I can stay an hour or two later at work and write. I’ve got 30k words of a new project that’s fun. Oh, the places we are going these days. I just wish I could stop raging against the dying of the light in terms of the Wegener’s and accept my new normal. But it’s not in my nature. I’ve never met an immovable object I didn’t want to move–I’ve never accepted limitations before. I don’t know where to start. I wish I could regenerate like my perennials–have parts of my body pop up unannounced in my garden, and I’ll lovingly tend to them. There are ways. I know there are. I just need to figure out how to get there.

March 16th, 2013

It’s March. Spring Forward. Go On. Spring.

I dare you.

What has happened? Where has the time gone? I realize that it’s been ages since I’ve caught up here, and I’m woefully behind on so many writing projects, but things are good. We are going with forward momentum these days. My job is busy. My life is busy. I have thoughts that I’m constantly trying to get down on some form of paper. I have blog posts backed up like traffic on the Gardiner in mind. And yet, I’m also craving stillness. Ten minutes of yoga a day seems to be doing the trick. I loved my book about meditation. I’ve downloaded the exercises and have listened to them a couple of times on the subway. In the midst of the thrum of people cruising back and forth to work, I close my eyes and become that girl. You know the one. Breathing heavily and not caring what anyone thinks. This is what motherhood has taught me. I can leave my house in jogging pants with unwashed hair, not wearing any, ahem, support, all tucked into my winter coat, not having slept for days and go grocery shopping. S*#t just needs to get done. And if meditating on the streetcar on the way to get my sixth bit of bloodwork tests done in as many weeks, well so the flapjack be it.

For the first time in a long time, it’s not the disease making me sick. For all intents and purposes, it’s actually in remission. There’s a significant amount of damage to my kidneys, and they’ll never make enough red blood cells for me not to feel anemic, but I’m alive. I’m in remission. That’s something to celebrate. And then. And then, well, I started feeling truly crappy. Run down, exhausted, with lots of pain, feeling lethargic, and I thought, no, no, no, please Wegener’s please don’t be flaring again. I just can’t take it. And the bloodwork shows that it’s just my WBC (white blood cell count). It’s too low. And that has all the same symptoms as the disease. So, bam, the meds are making me sick, but that’s not unusual. They’ve slowed down on the imuran, and my counts are coming back up little by little.

We’ve been on two short ‘mini-breaks’ as the Brits say in the past couple months. The first, we thought was a super-cheap couple of days at Great Wolf Lodge. We got an amazing deal on the hotel, but then the fact that it’s an actual resort, complete with people walking around in flip-flops in February, and you have to pay for your ridiculously expensive meals meant our budget simply did not stretch to meet those demands. That said, the water park is really amazing, and we had a great time sploshing about. Of course, we got stuck in the epic snowstorm coming home, almost slipped off the road a few times, and dealt with a puking toddler not five minutes away from home. Awesome.

We’re trying to break the RRBB into travelling slowly. He’s habit-dependent, so it’s rough for him. He doesn’t sleep well while we’re away and nor does he eat terrifically. Just a couple of weeks ago we spent a really fun few days in Collingwood. Super cheap, ate mostly in the rented condo, and enjoyed the best that winter can offer (excellent skating, great tobogganing, cursing around the village near the ski hills). But, again, after his cousins left, our kid had a complete meltdown, and it was time to go home. Funny, I don’t think I’ve spent this much time outside, enjoying the winter, in years. A blessing, of sorts. You forget how terrific and crisp the snow is. You forget how great it feels to climb up a steep hill and come barrelling right back down. You forget a lot, until you remember.

Now comes the thaw. A whole host of to do lists revolving around spring cleaning and summer planning and trying to stretch what little royalty money we have left until the next cheque comes. They can’t be depended upon. And it’s glaringly apparent that I need to find alternative sources of income. That we need to find some ways to make ends meet in these lean months. Gift cards. Air miles. Gift cards and air miles. We’ll figure it out, we always do, scraping the backs of the cupboards, eating through the freezer. The thing is, I really, really don’t want to go in any more debt. There’s a glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel, and if we buckle down, we just might get out of the maternity leave hole.

I’m in a funny place these days. An in-between place. Slightly between sick and healthy. Busy and bored. Pushed along from the current when I really want to be swimming in the other direction. But soon, really soon, I’ll be up at the lake. And that’s a balm for anyone. We’re lucky. I am lucky. It’s so easy to forget that with all that’s happened. I am lucky. What if I just keep repeating that?

 

January 11th, 2013

Throw Your Arms in the Air!

What’s hard for me these days, is that feeling of being in-between. I spent a solid almost-two weeks as a SAHM, cooking, and cuddling, and being ridiculously frustrated with my toddler, and loving every minute of it. Despite the hectic nature of the holidays. Despite the insanity of my next-door neighbours (the next time we see you, please ask my husband about the exorcism we think we heard on Christmas Eve; scariest thing IN THE WORLD). Despite the fact that I’ve been riddled with a cold, a sinus infection, a terrifically potent stomach flu (twice). I loved being home. It’s not harder to come to work. It’s not easier to be at home. It’s just I think everyone would rather be with their families, even when you’ve got a terrific job, a rewarding career, there’s just something about the togetherness, the unit that we’ve created, that makes all the other stuff sort of fall away.

That’s not to say that I’m a joy to live with, or that raising a toddler who has epic tantrums and can honestly take an hour to get dressed is easy. But there are moments when he’s throwing himself through the air (see photo) and dancing, shouting at his father to, “turn it up slowly!” (translation get the music to the fast part and crank it loud), that joy bubbles up to the surface in such a primal way. You laugh. A lot. Those are the good parts. The family bits. The evening dance party when I arrive home and everyone’s happy to see me, and we have hugs, and run around for a time until the battle for bath/shower, pajamas and bed begins.

Then, there are the hard parts, the tit-for-tat, and the long list of grievances over who is doing what and who isn’t doing what, and who should be doing what, and when, and where, and how. I read an article in a magazine, I think it might have been one of the free ones that I pick up from daycare, about how a couple actually keeps a list of who does what and then has a reckoning every now and again. Is that healthy? I don’t know. But all of the nagging frustrations on both of our parts isn’t necessarily healthy either. So, our solution? A vacation. I think it’s necessary. While we can’t afford a full-on, bounce out of town on an airplane, stay-somewhere-warm kind of vacation, we have booked a couple nights at the Great Wolf Lodge, and I’m looking forward to it. We might cross the border into Buffalo and do a bit of shopping. And then I have another day booked off for us all to go and see the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the AGO. I have a crazy amount of holiday time this year from work, and I might need to be a bit more pro-active in terms of taking it. Because, it’s true, I never seem to take days off for us just to do family stuff. I’ll take days off if I need to cover for RRHB, if he has a quick job to do, an appointment, if he’s sick, and I think we’re both just bogged down in the day-to-day, the general ache of the days, the snotty, crabby, cold, endlessly early bits of the day where everything needs attention, care and then more attention.

There was a moment on New Year’s Eve when my RRHB had taken the RRBB to daycare, and I spent two hours writing. It was the first time I had been alone in my house, by myself, completely without anyone else there, since May. It was so quiet. Eerily so. And sure, I sit in my cubicle at work but I’m never truly alone. People are interrupting and there are meetings and calls and fires to put out and you’re never just with your thoughts. Those two hours were all I needed. My spirits were buoyed (although I did fall asleep in the movie; we went to see The Hobbit) for the rest of the day. And when we picked up the boy from daycare, it was a fun ride home (there may have been smarties; I’m just saying.).

So, I don’t know. I’m rambling during my lunch hour. The day-to-day is a bit defeating, but it’s that way for everyone in the working world. I have projects, they have word counts, and I’m adding to them weekly. We’re a bit in a funk, but that’s natural when you have a two-year-old, and not much of a life. Really, I think it’s a lot of waiting for the other shoe to drop from me at the moment. In the times when the disease is quiet, I have a feeling like “OMG! DISEASE!” Like it’s going to fall into my lap and explode at a second’s notice. So. Perhaps I’ll stop. Take some deep breaths. Get some fresh air. Take some enjoyment out of a good start to New Year’s Revolutions. Throw my arms in the air. Wave them like I just don’t care.

December 31st, 2012

Snow Day!

A really lovely snowstorm hit Toronto last night, a couple of days beyond Christmas, but it was still nice to wake up to a layer of white, white, white everywhere. It made me feel better about the state of the world, if only for a moment, to see ‘regular’ weather. We bundled RRBB up in a snowsuit (he refuses gloves, always), a hat, his boots, and off we went–without a shovel aptly sized, he tackled the mountains of snow with an adult one, three times the size of him.

Today, I’m pausing for a moment. I have my New Year’s Revolution post ready to go. My RRHB has taken our boy to daycare. I’ve got my new book open and I’m plugging away. I have a spring deadline, and I’m making headway. I have two whole hours to myself. I spent 24 hours relaxing in a way that’s even too decadent to mention (we went to a spa, my friend Heather and I), and even though I’ve got a cold (natch), I’m feeling all right. I’m not feeling defeated and exhausted as I usually do at the end of a year. I’m looking forward to what fun my family will get up to in 2013. I’m looking forward to getting back to the busy days of work doing a job that I enjoy. I’m looking forward. I actually can’t believe I’m writing that sentence. No, what’s more, I actually believe the sentence as I write it.

There’s something about winter covering everything up that allows for internal moments. I always found my best writing times were in the dead of winter–deep, dark days that let your imagination wander and your thoughts trend downwards. It’s very healthy for the imagination, those bleak long winter nights–you get right down into it, and I’m excited that there’s a proper Canadian winter out there for me to enjoy.

I have a number of challenges–lord knows I wouldn’t be me without them, including blogging more and really trying to find a way back to health this year. The disease is stable for the first time in almost three years. I’ve battled back from the edge once again. I don’t know how many chances I’ll have. How many lives. So I’m taking a page from AJ Jacobs and will be reading a number of categorically health-related books and trying to integrate some simple changes into our lives. I’m picking an issue a month and going to try to find ways to deal with it.

A new year on the horizon. Could anything have more potential and be more energizing?

December 25th, 2012

On Holidays and Happiness

There’s nothing like the holidays to ramp up that sense of wonder my toddler has about the world these days. When he stands on his little green stool, pulls open the interior window pane and shouts, “Look at the Christmas lights!” at the top of his lungs, I get a little gooey inside. Moments like that make it easy to love this time of the year. Not even watching/reading  Frosty the Snowman for the eighty-billionth time can dampen my spirit. There are traditions that we’re starting, whether it’s just having a tree (even if it was a houseplant last year), or stockings, we’re working hard to keep it small and manageable, and that’s not easy.

Our son is beloved, as he should be, by grandparents and great-aunts and uncles, by cousins and extended family, and their natural inclination is to spoil him. And trust me when I say this, he’s got enough–enough clothes, enough toys, enough stuff to last him a good little while. Most of it has come to us second hand. Among my friends and family, our son was the youngest kid for a while, so we received a lot of gently used, happily welcomed stuff into our home. We have boxes of clothes in the basement for him to grow into. He has boots, snowsuits, trucks, musical instruments, books upon books upon books, and maybe it’s selfish, but I don’t think he needs any more. He’s just as happy playing with a pile of Popsicle sticks as he is an expensive automated blinking toy. So my response to birthdays, to holidays, has been to tell my entire family, ‘please, no presents.’

It takes training and discipline to not give in to the urge to spoil. To explain that ‘buying’ doesn’t equal celebrating. This isn’t about being stingy or Scrooge-like, we’re happy to splash out for a delicious meal to thank our friends and family this time of the year. We revel in a giant, stupidly expensive organic, happily-raised and well-fed turkey. But it’s the sitting down, the talking, the enjoying one another’s company that makes the holidays special, not the stuff. We all have too much stuff, piles of things we don’t use that we either paid too much for or regret buying, and I don’t want to raise my boy into a world where he equates stuff with happiness. Sure, we’ve gotten him a couple presents from Santa, but he’s two–he doesn’t know the difference between a $3.00 garbage truck we found at Value Village or at a garage sale and $75.00 one that came brand-new from the big box toy store.

I’m not saying this is easy for me, he’s my only child, I have to check myself regularly when it comes to keeping my own spoiling  urges under control. And there are things that I do every year that I think are important, like adopting an animal or two from the WWF, but it stops there, and trust me when I say that it’s hard for me not to give into my urge to buy and buy and buy. But when it’s fifteen degrees in December, and there’s no snow for the second winter in a row, and the world looks and feels so different than how I remember it, it gets a little easier not to spend the money. Our tree’s potted, we’re going to plant it up at the cottage in the summer. Santa will make an appearance, we’ve got an advent calendar, traditions are important, our family is important, the stuff will always be secondary. At least, I hope…

December 13th, 2012

Sleep, Interrupted.

There’s a terrific line in Claire Derderer’s equally powerful memoir, Poser, that’s says something about there being so many sleep deprived mothers in Seattle that they are a hazard to drivers, to other people, to, well everyone. Yes, I’m both exaggerating and paraphrasing, but the sentiment is there–at this moment in time I’ve been without regular sleep for almost three years and it’s starting to pay its toll. I think that’s the main reason a friend once told me that she feels like motherhood sucks up your youth and spits you out old–imagine my disdain to learn this when I was already so much older when I had my baby in the first place.

Right through infancy and well into this toddler stage, I would characterize the RRBB as a “good” sleeper. He slept through the night from a young age, and still has a very easy ‘going to bed’ routine that we worked really hard to establish. Yet, it’s never really over–this is what I’m coming to understand, that period of intense sleeplessness that comes with parenthood. Oh yes, my husband seems somewhat immune to it on some levels, he hears our son far less during the night than I do, but that doesn’t mean he’s anymore well rested than I am. Lately, RRBB’s taken to screaming, “Mummy!” at the top of his lungs at various points in the night, either he’s too hot, or one of the umpteen books he’s crammed into his crib have poked him in the cheek, or his nose is stuffy, or his carrot is missing, he’s too hot, his pillow is no longer doing its intended thing of acting like a makeshift duvet cover–the reasons go on. And I can’t help it, it’s instinctual, I’m up and out of bed before I’m actually even awake and in his room and bam two hours go by and he’s cranky and I’m cranky and we’re in our bed or in the spare bed and limbs are pressed up against me and the minutes tick by because, well, I can never ever go back to sleep. (more…)

December 12th, 2012

On Temper Tantrums and Tying Yourself Up in Knots

My first post for Bunch. Welcome.

How even to start? I’ve been living with Wegener’s Granulomatosis for years, had a whoopsy-daisy pregnancy that resulted in there now being two loves of my life, and I struggle every day to keep it together. In short, I’m a working mom. I’ll try to work it all out in these pages as long as Bunch will let me.

There nothing like the guilt, for me, of being angry with my son. It takes over in a flash, that spark of, oh-my-good-grief-you-did-not-just [insert throw this, dump that, do what?], and in those rare moments where I’ve raised my voice, he’s ended up just as upset as I was. I’ve taken to talking calmly and quietly when he’s acting up, and he’s two, testing his limits, and throwing the most intense temper tantrums I’ve ever seen in my life. If we catch him at just the right moment–he’s exhausted from one of the two days he spends at daycare, he’s hungry, we’ve got the wrong cup, , the wrong t-shirt, the wrong diaper, the wrong truck, the wrong song on the radio, goodness, it’s a long list–he’s off and running, tossing himself on the floor, kicking, red-faced, screaming, and I struggle in these moments.

And of course, the other day, literally seconds before my amazing book club was scheduled to arrive, the boy was embroiled in the wickedest tantrum I’ve ever seen over the fact that I dared to undress him for his nightly shower with my husband. There was no stopping this meltdown. After me struggling to calm him down while he screamed and bucked and bolted, my husband rescued our son from my arms and carted him off to look at the moon out of the front bedroom window, which sometimes does the trick. I sat cross-legged on our bed and thought, ‘of course, of course he’ll still be screaming by the time my friends get here.’ But he wasn’t, he was calm, clingy and perfectly adorable as they arrived, and then he even went to bed with barely a whimper, which actually isn’t that unusual.

Still, when we’re in the moment I’m at my wit’s end and it pains me to see him so upset (rolls off my husband, somehow, how?), but the more I think about it, the more I think my son has it right. His emotions might not be sophisticated. And I know I’m supposed to be encouraging him to ‘use his words’ to express his anger and frustration, but at least he gets it out. It’s raw and violent and terrifying for his mother but at least it’s not all bottled up and festering inside like we do as adults. He whips through the tantrum, which was happening for reasons only he really knows, and then he’s back to being himself again–curious, precocious, entertaining, hilarious. And I know it’s not practical in my daily life to throw myself on the ground, rip around shouting and kicking, but the interior lesson is important–it is good to get your emotions out, and maybe this is something that’s readily apparent to, oh I don’t know, humanity, but it’s something I’ve struggled with for years. I hold on to things, deep, deep down, and I’m not kidding when I say that the stress and panic and worry and worry and worry all contribute to the ongoing battle with the disease in some meaningful way. I suppose, for now, my son does it his way, and I’m going to do my best to keep on letting him get it all out, for as long as he needs me to.

November 20th, 2012

This Mom Hates The Picture

My friend Mia alerted me to this lovely article, The Mom Stays in the Picture, by Allison Tate. I have been thinking about the article now for weeks–even with social media, mom blogs, Facebook, and the many myriad ways of promoting ourselves these days, the central thought, that the majority of ‘mom’ work (and by extension in our house, stay-at-home RRD [rock ‘n’ roll dad] work) goes undocumented and unseen was poignant and gave me pause. There was another viral tidbit that floated passed around the same time, that a SAHM’s salary would reach upwards of $100k, and that also made me think, but I digress. Tate’s writing was so poignant, and this passage in particular resonated with me:

I avoid photographic evidence of my existence these days. To be honest, I avoid even mirrors. When I see myself in pictures, it makes me wince. I know I am far from alone; I know that many of my friends also avoid the camera.

It seems logical. We’re sporting mama bodies and we’re not as young as we used to be. We don’t always have time to blow dry our hair, apply make-up, perhaps even bathe (ducking). The kids are so much cuter than we are; better to just take their pictures, we think.

But we really need to make an effort to get in the picture. Our sons need to see how young and beautiful and human their mamas were. Our daughters need to see us vulnerable and open and just being ourselves — women, mamas, people living lives. Avoiding the camera because we don’t like to see our own pictures? How can that be okay?

Now, I’m going to digress even further. I’m avoiding mirrors, tight clothing, pictures from the neck down, scales, change rooms, bathing suits, clothes shopping, bare legs, and anything else that might uncover me in any meaningful way. Two years post-partum and I’m still bogged down by baby weight, and when you add in all of the medication for the disease, then the complications because of said medication, and then dose that down with my age, I don’t want photographic evidence of my complete and utter failure to keep it together. My fat pants are tight. My fattest pants are tight.

These are my confessions.

I made a pact with myself to write it all down here with the hope that I might now be able to do something about it. Except, I’ve been saying that for weeks and months and I still can’t seem to find it in me to take a better step. A different step.

Here are the excuses: I’m exhausted. Beyond tired. In fact, I got to tired about a year ago, decided that wasn’t far enough down the rabbit hole, moved in beside exhausted, then travelled beyond there to shattered, and have taken up residence in battyland–and have resided there ever since. Some of it is having a two-year-old. Some of it is my natural inclination not to sleep. Some of it is disease. And some of it is stress. But when you combine it all, what comes up is how ridiculously broken apart my poor body is these days. As I said to a friend over email the other day, I’m so unhealthy I don’t even know how or where to start. She asked what the one thing I would do if I could manage just five minutes a day, and I replied “exercise.” But even then I failed.

It’s easy just to take it easy. Yes. It is. It’s so much easier to collapse on the couch after getting up unfathomably early, racing to get out the door, racing through the day, eating poorly, racing home, racing to put the RRBB to bed, racing to get dinner (RRHB does this most nights as I am putting RRBB to bed), racing to get organized, and then your brain is mushy and all you can do is sit on the couch and play SpellTower before crashing, glasses still on your face, into the couch dead asleep at 930 PM at night.

The disease has ruined me. No, that’s not true, the disease + pregnancy + scary flare + medicine + treatment has ruined me. My kidneys are not producing enough red blood cells any longer and so I am permanently anemic. The really powerful medicine has put into permanent menopause. I’ve never admitted that out loud. I’m ashamed and embarrassed by it in a sense–not that I was particularly attached to having a period, but that my body is now definably old. There are symptoms and side effects and cause and effects, and more and more and more when it comes to the disease, even when it’s in remission. At the moment I’m taking imuran, prednisone, atacand (for my kidneys), HRT (for the menopause), and calcium + vitamin D for my bones, hemoplex to help my blood, moducare to balance me out (when I remember), and it’s a lot of freaking medicine. I’m burned out on getting better.

I’m out of shape and unmotivated. And the irony of it all is how physically demanding motherhood is–you’re up and down, lugging a 30 lb toddler, plus bags, plus gear, plus, plus, plus, and in and out of car seats and strollers and chasing him down the street and following his whimsy, and then you feel guilty on a Sunday afternoon for turning on a movie because between working full-time and squeezing in everything you have to get done in a day, let alone getting caught up on the weekend with the shopping and the household and the family and the visiting and the this and that, and I am a zombie, except when I’m not.

And I can’t listen to the crap that says I have to put myself first and blah de blah because it doesn’t work that way when you have a kid. Because I can’t not pick him up or cart him around or love him desperately–and I am frustrated to no end that what has made me ever-so happy has also ruined me completely. There’s irony there. It’s a miracle I’ve survived. It’s a miracle that he’s even here. So I should just suck it up, right? But I’m even tired of sucking it up and sucking it in, I’m just plain tired of it all.

This is all coming across as so whiny. And perhaps it’s because I’ve been up since 320AM, and because RRBB woke up at 450 AM and wouldn’t go back to sleep–but I wanted just to get it all out, how completely broken I am, how bits and pieces of me have disappeared, literally from the very scary, very angry disease over the last two years. This isn’t new–what is new, for me, is how hard it’s been for me to bounce back. Yes, I’m looking for ways to start. Yes, I’m looking for ways to be accountable. Yes, I’m looking for ways to change. I know it will be hard. But as I’ve said many times before, I didn’t know it would all be this hard to keep it all together.

These are my confessions. I don’t feel like this all the time. But I do feel like it today. Which is why I’ve taken that truly miserable photo of myself. But at least there’s a photo. What step will I take tomorrow?

November 19th, 2012

And Now We Are Two

Oh, my boy, my boy, he has turned two. And I can barely believe what a magnificent little creature he has become. Because he will always be my only child, I feel like I hold on to the moments, or at least hope to, in my mind in ways that aren’t practical. I want every possible bit of him to be “this” forever–this age, this sense of wonder, this amazing bit of frustration, because I know it all changes so quickly.

He has turned two. And with age comes a vocabulary that’s both hilarious and interesting all at once. From the room at the end of the hall I hear, “Mummy! Mummy! MUMMY!” at 545 AM. Why? Has he crashed out of his crib? No, he’s all in one piece. Has he broken a bone? No. As before, still intact. Has he had a bad dream? Not that I can tell. What does he want? For me to BLOW HIS NOSE. I mean, of course, I do it during the day so why would I not be available in the middle of the night to provide the very same service? The mornings, while starting far, far too early, are really lovely–he likes to cuddle in bed, always under the covers, and read, or just chatter away until he can’t stand it any longer and the thrill of JUST BEING UP has taken over and then he wants to go downstairs and so he can pull out the ukelele (the “uncle-layle” as he calls it), or “listen to some violins!” (symphonies are just as worthy of the manic jumping up and down, shaking back and forth, brilliant jump-frogging that defines his dancing). My husband has taught him a ‘song’ of sorts, which consists of him singing, “I got the oat-meal blues!” that he shout-screams while strumming (plucking?) the instrument. Only he says, “oh-ta-meal” and not “oatmeal.” And it’s hilarious. Also often on rotation is the theme to Mighty Machines. And then it’s time to whip out the toy piano and he’s off again imitating Elmo or his father or who knows what comes over him. Every single moment seems precious to me and I know I’m over-analyzing, being overly sentimental, but I really don’t want to forget. Here’s just a short clip–of course he’s more interested in what’s going on with us taping him than performing, but still…

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He’s still so small, and yet I find myself completely amazed by how his mind works. There’s a book he adores called The Carrot Seed, and when we were at Ikea the other day, they had they giant stuffed carrots, so we bought one, which we don’t usually do. We are working hard to curb the wonderful and good intentions of his family to consistently spoil him, but I couldn’t resist the carrot–and how easily he made the association from what he reads to something tangible. He has kept that giant stuffed carrot at close ends since it arrived. I’m okay with that. Oh, there’s temper tantrums, the embarrassing kind, the middle of a giant, crowded store down-on-the-floor wailing so everyone looks at you kind of explosion, but I’m calmer about it. I could honestly care less what people think, the scorn, the frustration, the anger of their looks, bully on them–they were once two and I bet they’ve been less than perfect in more than on situation. We’ve managed to do some really monumental things in the last little while–trick or treating for the first time (my cousins gave us a skunk costume; it said “Lil Stinker” on his butt [his choice of costumes; we had two to pick from]). We had a birthday party where he actually understood that he would have cake and a couple of presents. And now we’re on to Christmas where RRBB has informed me that he’d like a “violin, a cello and some drums” from Santa but recognizing that he’s “scared of Santa Mummy.”

As the end of the year approaches, I’ve been thinking a lot about what the next year needs to look like, personally, professionally. We are out now from the stress and tragedy of his birth, my disease is stable, our lives have a relative even keel, even if we perhaps are feeling out of sync a little with each other, with this other person now in the mix. Corners of my life are returning. I’m writing a little bit more, squeezing it in here and there. While I’m not reading at the pace I would like, I have managed to get through some great books lately, and I hope to get back to more regular blogging. Oh, sure I’m still stressed to the hilt and ultimately mad at something all the time, but we’re making good progress. I’ve brought my lunch for almost three weeks in a row. We’ve only ordered food once a week over the last few weeks. I’ve got my slow-cooker back. The weather is changing and I’d like to keep it that way–we sat and watched the hurricane in real time a few weeks ago. Of course, like so many people, my petty suffering can be reduced to cliches, but what it really made me think about was how I wanted to leave the world for my son. What I wanted to teach him about what matters and what doesn’t–in a sense, that we’re curbing the presents, the stuff, the gifts for very specific reasons–that we don’t need all that stuff, that he doesn’t need all that stuff, that the world certainly doesn’t need to make all that stuff. I know I’m being hyperbolic, but I’d really like my kid to enjoy snow this year, which means we need some of it, to have the kind of winter that I remember, falling down on your ass while skating and throwing yourself into an amazing pile of snow–and we can’t do that when it’s 10 degrees in November.

I’m rambling now. I wanted this post to be about where I want to go in the next year, to think about New Year’s resolutions and holiday recipes and what home really means. Perhaps tomorrow…

November 12th, 2012

On Breakfast and Inspiration

I had the very real and very true pleasure of having breakfast with Laura Lippman while she was in town for an IFOA event in Uxbridge a few weeks ago. Sometimes, I take for granted the perks of my job–how lucky I am to have access to authors as they come into town, Michael Chabon was here last week, impeccably dressed and ridiculously generous, and as I walked by the front desk after returning to the office, Louise Erdrich was on her way in, tall, stately–she has an immense, yet quiet, presence.

So, breakfast–it’s an awkward meal to share with people, I think, because it’s so early, and so few people are truly ‘morning’ people. Anyway, we’re in a mad rush on Mondays and Tuesdays, generally, because those are daycare days, and add to that a meeting that made my whole schedule a half-hour early meant I was even more panicked than usual. The result? I left my wallet at home. Ugh. And I had been doing so well. I had made soup over the weekend, brought my lunch, we were out the door on time, and I was disappointed that I never seem to get it all right. There’s always something that’s kind of off, whether it’s not enough meal planning, or time, or sleep, or organization. I don’t know how regular super-moms do it–keep it all together.

Laura Lippman has a young daughter, she’s just around the same age as RRBB, and we swapped a lot of toddler stories–the delight they have in dancing, concerns and philosophies around schooling, and the sheer delight in having them. I would have spent the whole time asking her about writing and about how she manages to be so consistently, well, consistent in terms of the quality and scope of her novels, especially the stand-alones, but we really only had an hour. She did say that with parenting some things had to give–and, for her, that was blogging, but I think I’ve discovered that already. I can barely make a dent in all the things that I want to say. They pile up like traffic in my mind and then trundle out into the air, forever lost and I think that I’ll never get back to it.

I was in a cab with a friend from work the other day, and we were discussing how hard it is just to keep everything together,to keep everything moving in the right direction. And when Laura and I were discussing it, she said something so profound–“But you’re assuming you can work to 100%. You can get to 97%, that’s a solid A+.” And it changed my perspective immediately. Sure, I forgot my wallet. Sure, we might have ordered pizza once last week and Chinese the week before, but we’re managing to raise a ridiculously happy and healthy little fellow, keep our house looking great, work, live, and enjoy our family. That’s a solid 97% right there.

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Girl with titanium hip will rock. Girl with titanium hip will write. Girl with titanium hip will read. Girl with titanium hip will battle crazy-ass disease called Wegener's Granulomatosis. Now stuff that in your spelling bee!

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