Monday, November 24, 2014

Beyond Exhausted

Last week I was in San Diego for a work conference, our biggest event of the year that I helped plan. My family couldn’t wait until it was over because I was such an overworked cranky bitch in the months leading up to it. I honestly thought work stress was going to cause me to have a stroke, like my mom, and I am actually still worried about that. Despite sleeping long hours since I’ve returned home, I feel I can barely keep my eyes open and am worried I might have mono.

I’m also going through a mid-life crisis of sort, trying to figure out what I want from my job, my company; whether or not they would be willing to give it to me; what to propose to them, and how to say it, and basically trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.

I’m depleted. Emotionally, mentally and physically.

The Person I Most Admire

Sophie had an assignment at school last week, which was to write about the person she most admires. Here’s what she wrote, and it went like a knife right through my heart:
This person is my step-mom. I call her “TT.” Our relationship is worth more than gold to me!:)
What are the traits you most admire in this person?
The traits are:
1 – Awesome! 2 – Smart 3 – Pretty 4 – She knows what I am going to say before I say it! 5 – Nice but not too nice.
How are you like this relative? I am like her because she is a good baker. I could help her with some chores.

Sure, yes I’m happy they have a good relationship.

But it still hurt, and yes I’m jealous.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

My Husband Doesn’t Understand Why I’m So Cranky & Tired All the Time

My Husband, God bless him. Things he says to me:
“Why are you so tired?”
“Why don’t you just relax?”
“Why do you get up so early?”
“Why are you so cranky?”

Now don’t get me wrong. Having a partner is infinitely easier than doing it on your own but whether you work in or out of the home, kids take up a lot of time and energy. And Jeffrey will do pretty much anything I ask him to – he will go to the grocery store willingly; he will pick up Sophie if I’m in a bind, etc. And he does plenty that I don’t ask him to – all of the yard work, laundry, cleaning the kitchen…yes, I have it pretty good.

But still. We only have Ethan max two week nights and Jeff stays up late and likes to sleep in. So I’m up early, doing my thing, then Sophie is up, then I have two lunches to pack, myself to get ready, emails to go through…thankfully Sophie pretty much gets herself ready but I’m also dealing with the puppy, taking her out; Sophie is trying to entertain Kylie while she’s getting ready…and Jeff is still sleeping. He wakes up, jumps in the shower, throws clothes on and is out the door.

I haven’t worked out in a month and that’s because I’ve been swamped at work, preparing for our biggest event of the year, which is two weeks away. If I want to work out, I have to get up by 5:30 and lots of times I Just. Can’t. Do. It. Now my problem is I have gotten out of the habit. It’s literally the only time I have to work out, more or less, since I have to take Sophie to activities in the evenings which give me some free time but not enough time, now that it’s dark so early, to get to the gym and back. Before daylight savings time, it was great – Kylie and I would take Soph to musical theater, drop her off, go walk around the lake for an hour, and pick her back up. I can’t work out at night because I’m pretty much toast by 9pm. Frankly, there are nights when I feel like I could go to bed right after dinner.

Sometimes I’m jealous of the freedom Jeff has – he can go to meet his friends for a drink after work, or go to Trivia night – he doesn’t always choose these options, but he has the ability to.

Sophie and I walk to school every day, and I pick her up every day with the dog. And I see dads – either stay at home dads or dads who work from home – picking up their kids. And I see mothers – stay at home mothers with littler ones in tow, or mothers like me who are lucky enough to have a flexible job that they can pick up their kids directly from school (Sophie doesn’t get out until 4pm anyway). But what I’ve noticed, day after day, is the difference between the mothers and fathers. The fathers stroll up to school, relaxed and slow. The mothers rush in, frantic, pulling their toddler along. The fathers give big hugs and “how was your day” and stroll away. The mothers give a hug, “Hi, did you have a good day?” and zoom, they are off, on to the next errand.

I feel overwhelmed. Overwhelmed at work because I’m doing so many jobs I can’t do any of them well. Overwhelmed at home because I can’t keep the house clean, organized, pay my bills, work and supervise children. My cousin is in town and we were having dinner together last night and oh what a relief it was to know I am not the only one! She recommended this book to me, “Overwhelmed” which I immediately added to my Amazon wish list and will start as soon as I finish the one I’m reading now.

***
I recently finished, “Get Out of My Life, but First Could You Drive Me& Cheryl to the Mall: A Parent's Guide to the New Teenager.” I’m prepping myself. I have two 10 year olds; it won’t be long now. I LOVED this book. I have no experience yet raising a teenager, and the prospect terrifies me. I fear that instead of researching boarding schools to send them away, I will be the one to run away (kidding. Kind of). But I do remember what it was like to BE a teenager. And because of that, most of this book rang true. Basically, the author discusses the main difference in general between boy teens and girl teens: boy teens will distance themselves, shut themselves off in their room, listening to music and/or playing video games. They communicate mostly in grunts. Girl teens engage in battle. They scream, they yell, they slam doors, they cry. Last night my Uncle Mike validated this, even before I told him about the book, and he should know – he’s raised both teen girls and teen boys. Now if only I can remain calm enough and patient enough to get through the hellish years, it will be a “breeze.” HAHAHA!!!!

Actually, I told Marcy (Ethan’s mom) about this book and would like to share it with her.
****
Sophie’s BFF Taylor is in 5th grade. And she was talking about that ridiculous video they make them watch on puberty. The way Taylor described it, it didn’t sound like it was any better or any more up to date than the one I remember watching in 6th grade.

I was doing Sophie’s hair the other day and was asking her if she had questions about puberty. And she blushed and I said, am I making you uncomfortable? And she said, “Well when the time comes, don’t just hand me a book, okay?”

Swistle recently jotted down some teenage books that I’m noting here so I can bookmark them and not forget. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A 14-Year Old in a 47-Year Old’s Body

So Marcy called Jeff the other day to tell him that she bought Ethan a bunch of Under Armor clothes because “all the kids are wearing them and I really want him to fit in.”

First of all, Jeff was like, “Why are you telling me this?” Second of all, Ethan is a 10-year old boy. Do you know how he gets dressed in the morning? He pops out of bed, pulls out a pair of pants and a shirt and puts them on. IN THE DARK. Before he’s even awake, before he’s even come out of his room, before he’s even had breakfast. He doesn’t give a shit what he wears. There may come a time when he wants to impress a girl and wants to look cool for her, so why don’t you just wait until we get to that point? ETHAN didn’t ASK his mom to buy Under Armor clothes because “all the kids are wearing that stuff.” No. Marcy saw the trend and jumped on it because she is a 14-year old in a 47-year old body and is obsessed with being popular, still, and is therefore obsessed with Ethan being popular, which is why she completely over-socializes him and he never has time alone, just to be an only child, just to chill – well not at her house anyway.

Also, here’s what else bugs me about her: You know how kids get into fads right? We have all been there, in our childhood or with our own kids, or if we’re around kids (say a teacher or something), we’ve seen it. When I was a kid it was the jelly bracelets. And it was how many could you collect and wear at one time. And then there were the jelly shoes. And we used to put beads on paper clips and tie them on our shoelaces. And 1,000 other things that my mom could probably remember better than me. But that’s the point: they are fads, they don’t last long, it’s a kid thing; everyone goes through them. Oh! High top sneakers. Converse. Grunge dressing. The fads may have differed for you, depending on your age and where in the country you grew up. Well kids are kids and they still have fads. Last fall it was the Rainbow Loom. Ethan got into it at first because his neighbor friends were into it so of course Marcy didn’t want him to be left out and ran out to IMMEDIATELY purchase everything and anything that had to do with the rainbow loom. The loom, an organization container, and 8,000 packs of rubber bands in all colors, including neon and glow in the dark. So then Ethan had ALL of it and the fad lasted pretty long for fads – a couple of months – and then it was over.

When Ethan expressed an interest in collecting baseball cards, Marcy went out and IMMEDIATELY purchased every baseball card pack they sold at Target or Walmart so that Ethan could have the whole collection RIGHT NOW. I haven’t heard him speak of baseball cards since. You know why? Because she’s taking all the fun out of it. The JOY of getting into something, well, part of it is the wait. Wait for birthday money, wait for the new card to come out, the new version, so you can get it. She’s teaching him immediate gratification and because he gets everything immediately, the joy of actually building up a collection is something he never gets to experience. She did the same when he was into Pokémon cards.

And so we are left over here to counter-act all of this. SIGH. The good news is, Ethan hasn’t asked his dad for a new toy in MONTHS and MONTHS.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Hi, Are You Still Here?

Hi, are you still here, or did you think I dropped off the face of the earth? If you are still here, THANK YOU! I have been wanting to write and write but I am preparing for my company’s biggest event of the year which is one month away and which I help coordinate so I have been SWAMPED!

I have also been ill with a sinus infection and slightly depressed, which makes me not want to write at all because I’m too tired and too emotional but I know that this too shall pass.

So, I’ll just catch you up to where we are now.

This past weekend was wonderful. Friday night Sophie had a friend spend the night, I baked cakes for her bday party, Ethan was at his mom’s because a cousin was having a pre-wedding bowling party or something I don’t know, but it worked out since Sophie’s friend Lexi was over. Saturday we had a SUPER busy day. Jeff did yard work in the morning while I took Ethan, Lexi, Kylie (the dog) and Sophie to Sophie’s soccer game and we brought footballs and volleyballs and soccer balls and Lexi and Ethan played together and Kylie met a Goldendoodle and everyone oohed and ahhed at her cuteness and Grandma Sue held her. They didn’t have enough players so there were no subs and Sophie was all worn out after that. They lost that game 4-2, their first loss. We came home and ate lunch and got ready for the next soccer game which they won and Sophie scored a goal! The coaches pulled some girls from other teams to help us out. Kylie met a beautiful 4-year old yellow lab named Willow and they played and played and became BFFs. Then we came home and I threw Sophie in the tub and then it was time TO P-A-R-T-Y!

Sophie’s ACTUAL birthday isn’t until Sunday but I don’t have her this weekend so we celebrated early.

Lexi left because she had a girl scout thing. I felt bad for Sophie because we invited 10 girls and only 4 could come; two dropped out at the last minute. She was disappointed and my heart hurt for her but I told her that a close-knit group of friends is a good thing and that she would actually get to spend quality time with everyone in contrast to Ethan’s bday party that Marcy plans where there are 35 freakin kids and she spends $500 on the party. (!!) (Sophie’s party cost me less than $200).

We did the same thing we did last year – per Sophie’s request – painted pottery and then came back to our house for cake, presents, piñata and play time. It was a long, exhausting but fun day though at the end of it, Sophie’s exhaustion was evident as she cried and said “Ethan ruined my birthday party.” They were having a pillow fight downstairs and also there was a dare and toilet water got splashed around and one of Sophie’s friends got sensitive but I tell you what, every time I heard the kids from the basement, there was lots of giggling and shenanigans. I told Sophie she wasn’t being fair to Ethan and the next day when she woke up she said, “I had a good party, Mom. I was just tired.” Ah, yes. Everything is brighter in the morning.
Sunday, G&G came over and we carved pumpkins which was super fun and Jeff showed me how to make (cook) pumpkin seeds and all was well until Jeff accidentally put the pumpkin guts on the wrong side of the sink and since it was a Sunday, no plumbers were available so he washed the dishes in the bathtub (and I ended up cleaning the bathtub yesterday) but all is well now as I work from home on Mondays and Roto Rooter came and we can use our kitchen sink again!
***
Meds
So I talked to my OBGYN about my PMDD and she said the only thing clinically proven to work is Prozac and I can take it only during my PMS. I got off Wellbutrin which didn’t do shit for me and Jeff begged me to get off that shit because he said it was altering my personality.
***
Weird Mom
One of Sophie’s BFFs (Lexi) who she met at her school last year – they were in the same class – is very sweet and I’m happy to have her and she uses her pleases and thank yous and she and Sophie get along fabulously. But her mother is WEIRD. I don’t know if I’ve written about them before, but everyone who has met them (Lexi’s mom and dad) agrees there is something “off” about them. Lexi couldn’t come to Sophie’s bday party because she had a girl scouts thing and Lexi’s mom texts me Thursday night and says, “I’m going to have Lexi call and ask if she can spend the night Friday or have a play date with Sophie from 9am-3pm on Saturday, is that okay?” First of all, no. You don’t have your TEN year old call the parent to ask if she can spend the night/come over. You, the parent, must ask the other parent. Second of all, she’s asking this on our busiest weekend. In the end I relented because I knew it would make Sophie happy but I made it clear that Sophie had two soccer games Saturday and Lexi would just have to tag along. Besides, if I’m carting one kid around it might as well be two or three.

Lexi’s dad dropped off her stuff Friday morning before school; at least he came to the door. Last time I took Lexi before a late start day (where they don’t start school until 11am because of teacher professional time or whatever – this happens once a month and is a giant PIA for working parents but I can get away with it because I just work from home), she dropped her daughter off in the driveway, didn’t get out of the car, and just waved to me as she was backing out. No “thank you for taking her” or “I appreciate it” or anything. Just, see ya’ bye.

There are other weird things and it’s not worth getting more into here but she’s just strange, strange in a way I can’t put my finger on.
***
Book Funk
I’m in a book funk lately. Nothing is really GRABBING at me. After a PMDD and rainy weekend a couple of weeks ago, I definitely needed a pick me up and looked for funny memoirs. I Googled some stuff and apparently I’ve already read most of the funny memoirs out there. A friend on Facebook recommended Celia Rivenbark, a Southern writer and the book I chose was “You Can’t Drink All Day if you Don’t Start in the Morning” because the title really appealed to me but I couldn’t get through it because she was just trying too hard. Finally I came across “Someone Could Get Hurt” by Drew Magary, which I thought was FABULOUS and it was just what I needed. OMG I almost snorted out my coffee at some parts – the way he describes a grocery trip store with the kids, trying to beat his time record…anyway, it’s a funny read about parenthood. Of course I whipped through it in two days so now I need something else and I’ve already read all of Sedaris and Chelsea Handler and I’ve read Bossypants and Ellen’s book and…now what?
***
That’s all I got for now. Not much of an exciting post after all this time, but you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Despair & Sunshine

I am 99.99% sure that I suffer from PMDD, or premenstrual dysphoric disorder. My PMS symptoms are not normal. I am filled with utter despair. If anyone talked to me the way I talk to myself during that time, I would be APPALLED. During this time, I don’t feel like I am worthy to walk the earth. I hate everyone and everything. I hate my kids, my family, my husband, my house – everything. My friends don’t call me back: they hate me, I have no friends, why would I, I’m such a terrible person. I’m the worst parent on earth. I’m mean to my children. I’m fat, I’m ugly, I’m unfashionable. I should just give up. Give up on life. I’m stupid, I’m an idiot, I’m lazy. I can’t do anything right.

Jeff sees a marked difference in my mood during this time, as you might imagine. I tend to pick fights, blow everything out of proportion; act like a teenager. Become paranoid.

If you spent one minute in my head during that time, you would be TERRIFIED. I basically want to kill myself once a month. That can’t be normal, right?

And then, after a couple of days,* it’s all over. Sunshine. I have great friends. I’m not the perfect parent but I try my best. My children are wonderful. I’m pretty smart and pretty cool. I have a good life, and I am grateful for it. I have lots of blessings in my life. If my friends don’t call me back, they must be busy; that’s all.

It’s so bad that I am definitely talking to my obgyn when I go in for my annual on Monday. The problem is that I am already on anti-depressants/anti-anxiety drugs and clearly that has no effect during this time. I really don’t want to add any more drugs as my primary just added Wellbutrin to help me quit smoking, which I thought would help with the PMDD, but no, it did not at all. Maybe if I increase the dose?

I did find some stuff on the Internet about “lifestyle changes” – avoiding caffeine, tobacco, alcohol and sugar; the things I crave most during that time. I do eat pretty healthy though. And I try to exercise every day; I try to be active every chance I get. This week I’ve been waking up at 5:15 to get my Zumba in before Sophie wakes at 7. Yesterday Jeff made me sleep in because I was so cranky. Yeah, well you would be too. He doesn’t understand why I do this; but I have no other time to work out as in the evening I am hungry, tired and drained, but more importantly, I have to take Sophie to/from her activities.

I did also find reports that chasteberry extract can help, along with calcium, vitamin B6 & vitamin E. Maybe I’ll have to add those to my already-full vitamin regimen.

If someone has a miracle solution, I’m all ears.

*the symptoms are worst the few days leading up to my period, but the anxiety and irritability become pronounced at the beginning of the week.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Diagnosis Anniversary

This cancer journey for Summar and Sapphire started two years ago. Two very, very long years. Remember, I was in Portland to support Summar just after her diagnosis, and there when we took Sapphire to the dreaded third floor of the children’s hospital – the children’s cancer and blood disorder floor – and that’s where I stayed out my visit. It is a day I’ll never forget. On this trip, I arrived just a couple of days after Summar’s diagnosis anniversary, and left the day of Sapphire’s.

I was able to accompany Sapphire to her clinic appointment at the hospital on Tuesday, where she gets blood drawn through her port to check her counts, and where she is also administered chemo. (She takes chemo daily at home as well). I was able to meet her “chemo pal” Kelly, a very sweet girl whose role is to distract Sapphire with fun games and activities while she is getting treatment, while the doc talks to mom and dad, while waiting for the blood results to come back, etc. It takes about two hours in all.

Of course, Sapphire is an old hat at this by now but the distractions Kelly provides – lego friends, balls, silly puddy, board games, etc. – are much needed and are helpful. Sapphire is by far the bravest girl I know. Diagnosed at age 3 and now 5, she has started kindergarten and is happy to be with friends. One of the doctors mentioned to Summar, who relayed it to me, that Sapphire has no healthy frame of reference. That is, she does not have any memory of what it’s like to be a healthy child. She only knows what it’s like to be sick and she is understandably SICK OF BEING SICK. Thankfully, her journey will be soon coming to a close – her treatment roadmap shows this November as the end of chemotherapy. She will still be monitored closely – blood work taken regularly to ensure her immune system is not compromised; antibiotics taken daily to help boost that immune system; extreme caution still taken when going out in public as her system for quite a while will be more susceptible to catching whatever is going around…This will go on for about a year.

Now for Summar’s treatment: That is the blow of having Stage IV metastatic. Summar’s cancer has no cure. She will always have cancer, and she will always be in treatment. She will always be taking pills, always have doctor’s appointments and clinic appointments and infusion appointments. There is no end in sight for her which makes it even harder to cope as she too is SICK OF BEING SICK.

Summar & Pascal are married with two young kids who go to school and do sports – they have the same stresses that every parent has, the same chores, the same getting kids fed and homework done and off to activities and in bath and story time and to bed. Except they also have clinic appointments and doctor’s appointments and at-home chemo to administer and steroid meltdowns and financial stress and logistical stress (getting Summar AND Sapphire to/from separate appointments in separate locations on the same day, as Summar is not always well enough to drive). *I* am a parent and I even get to work from home sometimes and if I need to I can rely on Jeff, Jamie and TT to help me out, and *I* always feel rushed and overwhelmed and tired so I try to multiply that by 1,000 and that is how Summar & Pascal must feel every day, I think.

I look forward to November for Sapphire and the entire family.

I am hopeful for Summar now that she has a new doctor who seems to be intelligent, knowledgeable, and empathetic.

I believe in science and treatments and medicine, but I also believe in the power of prayer.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Sisters

This is what Summar posted on Facebook today, after my visit in Portland this past week:
“Sisters are angels who lift us to our feet, when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.”
I am so blessed to have had my childhood friend, my Soul Sister, Farrell in town for a long weekend visit. Not only did she love on my babies, help around the house, assist running the METAvivor booth on Saturday, but was by my side to wipe away my tears, console my fears, and care for me while sick and in pain. I love you always and forever Sis, as do Pascal and the kids!
God I love that girl.

Summar has good days and bad days. Days where she rallies like on Saturday when we had a fundraiser for the organization she volunteers for, METAvivor, which is dedicated to educating, supporting, and fundraising for women with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer.

That girl can rally like nobody I’ve ever seen.

After the rest of the weekend activities, which included lunch outings and church and walks to the park with the kids and dogs, Summar was understandably hurting and exhausted on Monday.

It was so good to be able to see her, hug her, wipe her tears, make her laugh…good for both Summar and Pascal to have an extra set of adult hands around to help out with the kids and chores although Pascal never sits down so I really didn’t do any chores.

It’s hard to watch a loved one in pain, knowing you can’t “fix” it or make it better or take it away. All you can do is love and comfort and pray and hope it’s enough.