Here’s the thing: Sometimes I am totally and completely done with being defined by the fact that I have a vagina.
Can I simply be a person with private parts that cannot be touched by anyone without my explicit permission?
Can I not simply be a person who has autonomy over my body and what does and does not happen to it?
Why does having my reproductive parts inside my body somehow equate who I am?
At my most basic terms, I am a person, a human being, and to treat me as less because of my physical make-up is beyond ridiculous. As a person, I am worth being cared for and about; I should have the same rights as any other person.
More to that, the fact that I have to be labeled in order to trigger your sympathy, in order to be heard, in explanation as to why something happened to me, is horrendous. It should not matter that I could be your sister or wife, that there are parents that call me their daughter, or that I, myself, might have children of my own. I should not have to be a sister, but a sibling. I should not have to be a daughter, but a descendant. I should not have to be a wife, but a partner. I should not have to be a mother, but a parent. I should not have to be a woman, but a person. Or I could be. I should have the right to choose my labels, be it sister, daughter, wife, mother, or woman.
The point is – if having these woman specific labels is the only way to get your attention then you are a part of the problem. For the sake of all human beings out there, please re-educate yourself.
What has happen in June, July and half of August? You know... I couldn't really tell you. I'd have to look at our calendar. We survived whatever life threw at us, I guess. Celebrated the good, worked through the bad. ::shrug:: I wish I could say more, but I find myself in this bipolar world. I am everywhere and no where; I am paralyzed and sprinting; I am doing everything and absolutely nothing; I am head-back, belly laughing and in a corner, ugly crying.
It makes every day extremely exhausting. Float through the day, numb to every expectation, and end the day heavy with guilt and anxiety. Race through the day, handling all the business, and end the day falling asleep before my daughter's bedtime. There seems to be no happy medium, no way to truly juggle all the things. I am either all in or tapped out.
I feel like it is affecting every facet of my life. I am no longer a good mother, a good wife, a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend, a good employee, a good adult. Instead of striving to be these things, I have to hope my base-line version of myself is enough. I fear it isn't. I don't have enough patience, I don't give enough affection, I don't give thanks enough, I don't lend a hand enough, I don't offer anything to the group, I don't see the all the details, I don't handle enough responsibility.
The world around us throws two very different ideals at you: - Be perfect, together, with it, in every aspect of your life, showing everyone that you've got this life shit down - Eff 'em, you do you I don't have enough energy to be the first, and feel too much pressure to be the second.
If I were a light switch, it feels like someone is holding me right between on and off. And it really shouldn't be that way. The switch should be side-to-side, not up-and-down, because one option means I am either/or, while the other means I am good/bad. I guess, if I want my switch to be "you do you", I have to accept what that looks like. Am I okay with re-setting my own expectations? Can I understand that that might feel like I am doing "less", but actually means I am still doing enough?
More than anything, if I move my switch, then I want there to be a good reason. Currently, I simply don't have one.
My grandma passed away. We got there in time to see her alive, though she was highly sedated and unresponsive. My sister and I talked to her. I wanted to purge all my regrets, but I didn't have many. I visited her at least every year. I sent cards and pictures. I wrote. All of these I could have done more, but didn't. Out of everything I could have said, all I could say was I was sorry for being angry that she didn't come to our wedding in Hawaii; that I should have been happy because she was the reason I changed my mind; she said to me, "Why aren't you getting married in Hawaii?", and because of that - our wedding was everything I wanted; I said thank you, especially for the wedding present - which was helping my dad get there. For all the atonement I could have done, that was it.
The present family needed lunch, so away we went. I heard my grandpa say to her, "Now don't go anywhere..." Well, we walked in the door after lunch and there was the staff, waiting; "We tried to call you. She's gone. She died 10 minutes ago." That was May 25.
If I were an anthropologist, I would have been taking notes on the whole day. Every single family member had something to say about her passing. "We told her to go to her parents", "I knew she wouldn't last long", "She waited for us to leave before letting go." I stayed silent. What could I say? I didn't think she would be with us long because her breathing was starting to hic-cup and slow down. But honestly, I was at a loss for words. We had slowly been watching my grandma fall into the clutches of alzheimer's disease, so the woman I had been talking to for the past two to three years wasn't anywhere near the woman who raised me in the past thirty. Though, we would get glimpses of her old-self at times and her laughter over family stories was as rich and joyful. I can hear it, almost as clearly as I remember her saying, "Hello, Christie."
Friday - May 27 we did her memorial service. I was waiting for my brain to come up with something to say, but it continued to be at a loss. My grandma raised me, showed me the magic of books and musicals. She let my imagination blossom. She gave me my first journal and I haven't stopped writing since. There isn't one single moment or time that I can point to that is the epitome of my grandma and what she meant to me; it is simply who I am is because of all the the things she did, because of her support and love, because she was a part of my life.
You know it can never be good when you see these phone calls. Especially at mid-morning. Especially from family. And it's so weird, you don't ever expect to hear this phrase, "Grandma is dying." Isn't it, usually, that they are dead? Everyone is dying from the start, so how can Grandma be "dying", like it's news? Well, it is different when you know, when it's in plain science, when there's a definative time-frame.
Grandma is dying; her brain is bleeding and they can't fix it; we have three days.
You mean, my grandma? I literally just saw her. We drove out there not three days ago. I was sitting in her living room, telling her for the third time how the weather's been in Seattle because she can't remember short-term. But she looked at me. She saw me. She smiled at the great-grandbabies and told us how she wished she knew we were coming so she could have had provisions for lunch. She said, "I'm so happy you could come." She look right into my eyes and said, "I love you." Not that woman, right? Right...?
I leave tomorrow AM with my sister, and hope the freeway angels give us a clear drive to Idaho. We could arrive and she could have already passed. But I have to go. I have to. Just one more time I hope I can hear her say, "Hello." I can't say I haven't lost some important family members in my life, but this is different. She is different. And it tearing me to pieces.
Is there anyone out there? Have you even realized how much I don’t write?
Sometimes I get this need to write, but I don’t feel like I have anything funny or interesting to say. My life is full; I rarely have the time to do anything but “the norm”. There isn’t much to show for “the norm” other than survival. Though a lot of people think that that is a big enough accomplishment all on its own. Those people are parents, for clarification.
Shall I summarize?
We went to Portland. I went to my mecca (Powell’s), and got all the books. Aurelia and I co-slept for the first time ever because toddler/houseguests/go back to sleep, it’s 4AM. I had some bomb bagels and delicious pie. Can I go back now…?
We still have Jenny. She continues to be crazy and wonderful, smart and ridiculous. She broke out of her crate a few more times that we now lock her in, like with an actual combination lock. Also, she facilitated Aurelia needing new shoes by killing all the ones that she had. Though, technically, Jenny was more helpful than we realized because Aurelia’s foot size had grown and she needed new digs (and probably for a few weeks prior). Clever girl.
We went to Oahu for a quick weekend trip to celebrate Popo’s 90th birthday. The party itself was wonderful and it was great to see everyone. However, I literally cannot fathom… 1) doing a rubber-band trip like that again with a 2 year old, and 2) dealing with the fact that my role as an in-law is being ordered around and under-minded. Sometimes the perks of not being actually blood-family does not outweigh the positions I am put into. I came home exhausted and angry. But now I am ready to tackle this kind of thing in the future with a good dose of “hell to the no”. I am going to start advocating for myself and my daughter, even if my husband doesn’t. Also, never going to Oahu again without renting our own vehicle. This will help me keep my sanity, and my sanity is essential.
It was my sister and mom’s birthday this past weekend. Since my mom turned 60, we had a jam packed day of brunch with the whole family, wine tasting in Woodinville, dinner in Kirkland – with a lake-view, and finally, we set my parents up with an overnight at a swanky hotel. It was a good time and I ended up getting a nice bottle of wine.
Now May is almost upon us. We are going to Spokane to visit my dad, and then travel over to Idaho to visit the grandparents. Jenny’s big dental appointment is coming, as well. Also in there somewhere is Mother’s Day, a haircut, (hopefully) a friend’s barbecue for Memorial Day weekend, and all the “normal” things in life. You know, surviving.
Her story is small: she came from California, her name was Lindsey, her history unknown other than *scared*, she has some bad teeth, age is unknown but thought around 1-ish, and she’s a mix, but stands predominately in the German Shepherd breed, and is crate and house-trained. Also, she's pretty cute.
We decided to rename her Jenny, her teeth will cost somewhere in the $2200 range, she has lots of energy, loves tummy rubs, has only peed/pooped in our yard 99.9% of the time, has proven she needs a good amount of training but plays fetch and does basic commands very well, and whines when she is excited.
I remember being so excited the last time we got a dog. Instead I am just a ball of “holy shit, now what?!” We wanted a dog that fit certain criteria and Jenny has basically broken about half of them. It was simply this: 1) good with kids/babies, 2) house-trained, 3) gets along with Allie, 4) younger/healthier dog than Ginger was, 5) was a good fit for our family. Most of these things are no brainers and, I thought, not asking for much. I found that finding a dog like that was becoming impossible or they would get adopted before we could get to them. Then I saw Jenny. I did everything in my power to make sure she was a good fit. I got the report from the foster family so I could get a feel for her personality, had Arri met her, had Jenny meet Allie. It seemed like it was going to work out.
But here we are. Arri and her generally get along, but Jenny has too much energy and scares Arri. Jenny is house-trained and has proven to be good about it. We did a re-introduction with Allie and that went all to hell and a handbasket. How can stupid teeth be so expensive! Her energy level can be a lot to manage and I worry that our 9-5 work life doesn’t fit.
I have had a lot of emotions regarding Jenny, mostly in the “did I make the wrong decision” spectrum. The idea of surrendering Jenny makes me fall apart, but the idea of keeping her with all the “doesn’t quite fit” makes me exhausted with worry and anxiety. She is a good dog. I know she is. But is she “our” dog? When will we know this? Next week? Two years?
The biggest player to this is Arri (and future kid #2, come to think of it). I think they are getting along well, and Arri likes Jenny. However, say we take this for another two months, and it still doesn’t feel quite right, then… how would Arri feel letting Jenny go? ::huge shrug:: I have no idea. And will that cause some kind of weird trauma? Will Arri even want another dog? I don’t even know where to go with that. And what if Jenny and Allie never become friends? This was a sticking point for us. And now, it’s negotiable? Honestly, Allie won’t be around forever, but their current status isn’t favorable. I don’t even know where to start, but to take them for walks together. I guess that’s something…
I feel so overwhelming. And I feel like I’m dealing with it all on my own. And money, all the money.
But then this face. And I know she has bonded with me.
We will be having an in-house training session soon, so hopefully I can get some reassurance about my feelings and what to do, or not do. They say it takes a few months for everyone to settle in together. I know that, no matter what happens, we will be looking out for what's best for Jenny and that's all that matters.
We are going to Disneyland. For months I have been itching to get away, to not be here doing the same thing every day. So, we are going to Disneyland. Aurelia and Matthew’s first Disneyland trip. Matthew’s first flight and his second birthday. A big family trip. We have been planning it for months. And now, here it is. And I am a hot fucking mess. Aurelia has some kind of cold. Her upper lip looks weird. She has a low grade fever. The day we leave, we start our day at 3:30 AM. Yes, you read that right. Because someone thought it would be a good idea to take the first flight out with two toddlers. I, obviously, didn’t have my thinking-cap on when I agreed to that.
I should be thinking about how she will jump and dance to the music on Main Street. Or how she’ll stand stock-still and confident, pointing at the castle and say, “CASTLE! That’s a castle!” Or how she’ll vice-grip Nick or I while hysterically crying as we take pictures with characters… or surprises me and not do that at all. Or how loud she’ll laugh while riding Tea Cups or Dumbo. Or how she’ll clap and scream at the parades.
Instead, I am thinking about how hard it will be to wrangle her on maybe 8 hours of sleep verses her normal 10. That she might pee all over me, like she did on our last flight. That I might dislocate her elbow again, randomly. That during a tantrum, she’ll bang her head so hard on concrete that she’ll knock herself out. That her low-grade fever/simple cold will turn into something else, and we’re rushing to find an urgent care or ER. That I’ll turn my head for two seconds while walking through Fantasyland and when I turn back, she’s disappeared.
I have refrained from dreaming up positive expectations because I would inevitably be setting myself up for complete disaster and bitter disappointment. However, I can dream up every imaginable negative possibility because they are totally conceivable, and swim in all that negativity until my extremities get wrinkly.
Let’s not even talk about how all this makes me feel sick to my stomach, which makes me worry that something is wrong with me, and what if I need urgent care while we are down there. And do I have a cold? If my shoulders get any tighter, they will become besties with my ears. And let’s glide over how already amped up I am to get into a fight with Nick because he will predictably not be paying attention when I need him most to be present.
What’s unfortunate about this is… this is my normal. And I hate it. I hate how I feel. I hate how it’s robbing me of excitement. Though, I find that anxiety and excitement are friendly neighbors; it is easy to look over the fence. I am trying to find the joy. I am trying to remember what it’s like to sit on a bench and people watch, while enjoying a churro. I am trying to remember the surge of adrenaline while riding Space Mountain. I am trying to remember how lucky it is that my family is even able to take a trip like this. Be grateful you can make experiences like this happen! Stop being weighed down by the “what ifs”. Whatever happens on this trip, happens. That is how you make memories. You are taking your daughter on an adventure, giving her a “first”. Please, for the love of God, don’t miss it.
At 5:30 AM, while I wrapped her in my arms and felt her little head adjusting against my shoulder, I got to sing to her the first Happy Birthday song for today and wondered if she was going to start off the day better than the past few mornings. Let’s just say that she started her day, instead, in full-blooming-emotions! I have this feeling that this is how our lives will be for a while.
Today my daughter is two. T.W.O. I don’t know what I expected it to feel like, but I’m pretty sure how I feel today is not exactly what I would have thought.
Aurelia is a special kid, to me, in her growth. It feels like her body moved from being a baby to a toddler in one huge leap. She runs and jumps, dances and plays like kids older in age. And let’s just say her verbal skills are off the charts for her age. But then, it seems like we have been wading in the world of emotional development for months, which is harder to describe and even harder to manage.
She ignites my anger with her kicks, scratches and face grabs, but then she blankets me with love as she wraps her arms around my neck and says, “KISSES!” and gives me one face-mashing kiss. When she is at her best, I cannot fathom how the world gave me such an awesome person. When she is at her worst, I want to find the kid return counter, toot-sweet.
Who I am now as a mother is totally different from one year ago, yet exactly the same. The months of experience makes me more comfortable with my “mommy” title, but I am still as scared shit-less as the moment she was put on my chest for the first time.
It's been awhile, I know. This is probably the first time in weeks that I can actually sit down for a moment. Thanksgiving came and went, then all-the-things for Christmas. Also, December has been dubbed the worst-month-ever because Aurelia has been sick, basically, all month. One small cold which canceled Arri and I going to Portland (Nick got to go... not jealous about that... honest... ly lying). Then it turned into another different small cold. All of these colds have been with over 100 degree temps (though techincally, in kid world, a fever isn't until 104, but whatever; explain that to my lethargic, no is my new favorite word daughter). We finally felt like we were getting her back to happy and healthy when she started another fever Christmas Eve. I haven't cried so much on Christmas ever. She was so pathetic and unhappy all day. We went to the doctor's (third time this month!) and found it is an ear infection. I don't mind that one bit because it means I can throw drugs at it verses just giving hugs and snuggles and not know when the virus is going to give it up already! But it's been hard, watching her, being frustrated that she doesn't get better, being angry that she won't accept our help even though it will make her feel better. She is becoming this strong willed little girl and I am having trouble with it. Trying to teach someone to calm down who doesn't seem to understand the concept whatsoever is really fucking exhausting.
So what about the holidays? Beyond Aurelia being sick, everything was good. I thought I had spoiled Nick this year with lots of good gifts, but he got me massages and another lens for my DSLR. Winner! I kind of had to have a come-to-Jesus moment with him about the camera. I've officially had it for a year, but I haven't taken it out of automatic. And then he goes off and buys me a new lens! I don't even have a camera bag! I just felt like I hadn't proven I deserved it. Which, thinking back to it, is ridiculous. First, I totally fucking deserve this. I spent four years supporting him in law school. I deserve a DSLR in return. Also, side-note, it's much cheaper than a J.D. Second, my inability to take the camera out of automatic is not necessarily because I don't want to, but because I don't have time to. I need time to learn. I don't have it. I was finally feeling like I would have some time, our life was finally getting into this groove, when we got sent a small curve-ball. It was nothing we couldn't handle, but it has definitely made life interesting. In any case, the whole camera thing made me take a step back. I wasn't giving myself enough credit. I was expecting more from myself, even though I had no reason, time, energy, ability to actually meet said expectation. And because I couldn't meet this self-imposed expectation, I was no longer worthy of more. What in the fuck kind of bullshit is that?! So, I am working on accepting that this year wasn't as easy or simple as I may have thought it was, and I was doing the best I could in this life-with-a-kid maze, and that means I deserve to be lavished with gifts at the end of the year, period.
Anyway, here we are, December 29, 2015, almost 2016. This is the first year in a long time that I won't be in Hawaii celebrating the start of a new year. I am happy and sad about that. Happy because that means I get to be with my local friends and family to celebrate, and will actually be hosting a party on New Year's Day! Sad because I really do love my Hawaii family and like getting to spend time with them and I can feel my body itching for the familiarity that this time of year usually brings. However, I couldn't imagine trying to go to Hawaii right now with Aurelia as sick as she is. And, as much as I love my Hawaii family, I need a break from the in-laws. Seriously, tapped out.
See you in the next year because, seriously, who am I kidding that I'll write again before then...
Right now I'm baking german chocolate caramel bars for a work Thanksgiving Potluck tomorrow. I have three minutes left before I can let it sit out over-night, and I get to get ready for bed. But I've said, "You've got (insert number here) minutes," so much more in the past month I might literally start saying that in regular adult conversations. Aurelia needs prep time before she is "forced" to do something. They say that kids at this age don't really understand the concept of time, but I'm calling bullshit.
Things have been pretty stressful for me in ways I can't really express or explain. I guess it is the whole maybe trying for another kid thing. Or remembering what it was like during not only pregnancy, but also everything that went on after her birth. It also doesn't help that Arri seems to be going through a rough, aggressive, combative patch. And I know I am a little extra sensitive right now, but seriously - why does it constantly feel like I'm an outsider? And finally, let's talk about how unhelpful it is that I have to show big emotions in order to get my husband to pay attention. It feels like we get into a great groove, cruising down the highway, and then out of nowhere, some part breaks and all the good feelings are gone. I hate that shit. It takes so much work to get back into the groove, and I always have to be the one who gets under the hood to figure out what went wrong and work on restarting the engine. For once, I'd like the engine to be self-sufficient for a nice, long time, or if it breaks down, I don't have to be the one who has to get dirty.