Getting Old

For the first time the other day, I really felt old.  I was checking out at Kroger, buying my ton and a half of veggies and fruits for my crazy diet.  Which, by the way, since it is now defunct, does anyone want a head of cabbage?  What the heck am I supposed to do with that?  Is sauerkraut hard to make??  It’s the only thing I can think to do with cabbage that at least one of us will eat.

As I was paying, I overhear the tail end of a conversation between two co-workers.  Two girls were talking and must have realized they both attend/attended the same high school.  The younger girl asked when the older girl graduated, to which she replied 1996.  The younger girl was all like, “OMG, that was the year after I was born!”  What the what???  You are old enough to work and you were born when I was a sophomore in high school?  If I had had much worse luck and God truly decided to punish me for my mischievousness, this girl could feasibly be my daughter???  Holy crap!

Then a few days ago, I drove by my alma mater, Bowling Green State University, on my way to take my son to a doctor appointment.  It’s been 12 years since I graduated and I started waxing nostalgic.    Sometimes I really miss those carefree days.  Although, to say college was not stressful would not be fair.  The stress of being an adult and when I was in college is just different.  I remember the killer math and science classes, which almost put a stop to obtaining my useless degree, because as Barbie would say, “Math is hard!”  These were not my forte for sure.   I remember feeling the pressure that at 20 years old, I should have what I want to do for the rest of my life figured out before college ended, which honestly, I didn’t figure out until 6 months ago, and I’m still not sure.

But I do miss the absolute freedom and the ability to be completely self-centered and responsible for only me.  I think of college as a summer camp to life.  All the freedom of an adult, but 1/3 of the responsibilities.  (Yes, I am very lucky and had VERY supportive parents who made the hard decisions and big tuition payments (mostly), but to my credit, I didn’t disappoint them…right Mom and Dad??)  My life consisted of the following decisions:  Skip class and sleep til 11?  Check.  Eat Spaghetti O’s for breakfast?  Check.  Sleep over with your boyfriend who just happens to live one floor down from you in your dorm?  Check!  God it was great.

I miss the days of smoking weed in some random cornfield with my best friend and his roommate, who got all New Agey when getting high.  This was fun because while he wanted to pass the energy ball (read: nothing) between friends and ooo and ahh over the Earth’s aura (read:  lights from Perrysburg), the rest of us were stifling giggles and naming and making out with cornstalks.  PSA:  WEED CAN MAKE YOU STUPID!  I miss having all my friends in one apartment complex, fondly referred to as Melrose, and the Halloween party thrown by my best girlfriends my first year.  Getting totally drunk in our matching couples’ genie costumes for which we totally won the bottle of Absolut for Best Costume, and then recovering the next day with a nice greasy cheeseburger.  If I drank like that now, I’d be in a coma.   Sitting on a couch for the entire day with your best friend watching the crazy Christian channel where everyone got healed and redeemed and you just made fun of the dramatic screaming and jubiliation.  Playing jeopardy so competitively that no one wanted to be your friend afterwards.   Watching endless hours of Golden Girls and realizing that each of your roommates was one of them. Yes.  I was Dorothy, as I have never been the fun one.  Someone, who shall not be named but who now lives in San Fran was Blanche, one very smart nurse was our lovable Rose and my husband fit perfectly as Sophia, the wise-cracking older person who just made fun of the rest of us.  God those were fun days.

College could be hard, but the stress now sucks way more. I have a mortgage, a car payment, a low-paying but comfortable job (therefore little motivation to achieve higher success), an unemployed husband, and a house I desperately want to scour with a magic eraser the size of a car.  I have two kids who are growing up in a world where kindergartners are expected to be able to publish something on-line by the end of that year (seriously, next year’s new standards), where they can’t play alone in the front yard, and bullying has reached new and terrifying levels.  I have no time for anything because dishes are piled in the sink, the kitty litter needs cleaned, and apparently my daughter needs clean underwear every day, and I only have around an hour a night to do it before falling into an exhausted heap in my bed because I’ve spent the evening after getting home from work making dinner, doing homework and catching up with my kids and husband who I haven’t seen all day.  Heck, the only reason I’m typing this is because I am ignoring the dishes in the sink and my husband has been banned from any 50 Shades action tonight because I have my annual check up tomorrow and I don’t want the doctor to get all judgy down there.    Too much?  Sorry.  That, and he just got Black Ops II because, under the guise of “looking at some cool lamps he saw online,” he took us to Target after dinner and just  happened to see it on the shelf, and just happened to suggest it be my Christmas present to him.   Lamps?  Really, was I born yesterday?  It took staring at the Black Ops shelf, a quick tour through Christmasland and then another run up the boy toys aisles before I had to remind him why we were there.  “Lamps honey remember?”   “Oh yeah! umm, uh, yeah…these!  These right here!  I really think these are awesome!” (insert fake enthusiasm here).

So, would I go back to the easy days of college?  No.  I love my life.  With the crazy hard responsibility comes a strong happy marriage, two hilarious and adorable kids, a good chunk of life experience under my belt and a comfortableness with who I am that at 20, I had no idea even existed.  What I do miss was that all my friends were just a stone’s throw away (we used to call our apartment complex Melrose), and are now scattered across the country as well as the sense of freedom and self-centeredness.  Maybe, we could compromise and just meet back for one week a year and relieve the glory days?  Anyone?   How fun would that be?  Though, I am not sure our 30 something bodies could handle all the alcohol and weed, so we might have to cut it back a little.  And close the bar?  Please no, it just messes up my sleep schedule and the kids will still be up at 6 no matter what time I go to bed.  So – maybe some slight adjustments. Hey, I can dream can’t I?

Ah, good times.  I miss you my friends.  This one’s for you.

Advertisements

A Little Piece of Me

I wrote this last May.  A fairly lonely time in my life.  My husband had been traveling for just over 2 years with no end in sight.  We had yet to find a diagnosis for Will’s idiosyncracies and impulsiveness.  All our efforts were not quite solving his problems and I was terrified of what his first year in school would bring.  So – at a pretty wrenching moment, I wrote this.

May 22, 2012

I don’t why I thought I was strong enough to be a mother.  All my life I have hidden from pain.  Pain of being judged, criticized, ignored, laughed at and so on.  I sometimes feel so sensitive (or paranoid) of other people’s reactions to me that I find it mostly exhausting to be around anyone but those that I trust the most.  So as I grow into myself and enter by far the most healthy self-esteem period of my life, somewhat comfortable with who I am, I think it’s a brilliant idea to procreate.   To take my very thin-skinned introverted self and make children that I love and would protect with my life, children who have to once again go through their own childhoods, adolescence, young adulthood and so on.  To learn the hard lessons, to be a bit different or less than perfect, to struggle, to come to terms with who they are, and be near people who don’t understand just how wonderful they are.

After years and years of building a pretty thick shell around myself from negative unhealthy people, I push myself into it all over again with my kids.  I feel their pain and their terror of entering this world.  Not that they are aware of it, but I am acutely aware of how tough life is going to be for them.

I have a son, who’s brilliant, smart and hilarious already at 5, but so sensitive to everything around him, he finds it hard to function.  It’s hard to sit and see all the other kids and know yours is different, albeit in a beautiful, wonderful way that you completely understand, but one that will cause him hardship, pain and struggle.

I have a daughter, who is strong-willed, beautiful and fearless.  How long do I have that before society gets to her to tell her she’s not good enough, not smart enough, not pretty enough to be worth anything?  How long before I hear the fat comments, how long before my opinionated loud daughter becomes quiet and doubting?  Afraid that if she is too strong, she will be labeled a bitch? Or if she‘s too smart, she will be labeled a snob or a nerd?   How long before she dumbs herself down for a guy or a group of girls to fit in?

I just don’t understand why I would do this to myself.  To have something so precious to me live outside of me, where I can’t protect it completely and fully?  How do I begin to regain control of my life, my emotions, my feelings and protect them once again?  I can’t and it’s the scariest thing I’ve ever felt.

God I pray for strength and courage to be that opinionated, bitchy, smart woman I want my daughter to be. I pray she enters the grown up world confident, smart and funny – unafraid to be herself and to pursue what she loves and who she loves.   I pray she never doubts herself or lets herself be judged by her appearance.   I pray to raise my son to control his impulses and take his beautiful awesomeness and become the next rocket scientist or Nobel Prize winner and be able to look back at all those who will label him a bad kid, an uncontrollable kid, a wild one and laugh at how they doubted him.  I pray that I see the path you are laying out for me, my children and my husband and I take the road that terrifies me, but ends up the best path I could have chosen.   I just pray that your plan actually makes sense and is in the best interest of those that I love the most and have the least control over – my kids.

Sisters

I knew I was going to have a second baby at my grandpa’s funeral.  It was a devastating blow to our close-knit family.  Grandpa was the glue, the head, the life force of our entire family.  As I sat behind my mom, her sister and her two brothers during the funeral, I realized how much they all leaned on each other to get through that painful day.Will was only five months old when he died, but I knew I didn’t want him to have to stand alone when the time came for us.  Not that I was anywhere near ready to even think about another baby with a very cranky, very urpy five month old, who had yet to spend a night in his crib, but I remember the decision was made that afternoon that I would talk Mark into a second baby.  Thank God bad math and “natural” family planning eliminated that conversation.  Who knew one time could get us pregnant?  Seriously.  One time that month.  Give me a break, Will was only sixteen months old at the time, Mark’s lucky he got it that once.

Anyways, maybe that was my parents’ thought when they decided to create my sister.    For me.  How thoughtful.  Not that I asked for her.  At all.  I really really didn’t like her from the get go.   The famous story is, she was home for 15 minutes and I bit her as a welcome home gift.  It really wasn’t her fault.  My mom promised not to leave during my nap (because she ALWAYS did), and the woman had the nerve to go into labor during that time.  So-naturally, I was mad.  And yes, I do remember.  I have memories as a three-year old, but for the life of me, I can’t tell you what I had for breakfast this morning (but I am pretty sure  it wasn’t Ho Ho’s and a Pepsi, I have grown a bit).

I was a bad sister.  So bad, when my grandma died, my mom found a letter written by her to me that she had stashed away telling me that I should be nice to my sister and how God would want it.  It wasn’t dated, but it seriously could have happened anytime between the ages of 3 and 18.  Another story my sister tells often is when I chased her with a knife (which I don’t remember) AFTER she tried to close the garage door on me and hit me on the head with it (which is probably WHY I don’t remember).  Ah the 80’s, when siblings were left alone with only each other after school and garage doors didn’t have safety eyes to stop from squishing you.  I think it’s for that reason a lot of our generation are crazy helicopter parents.  We know what we did, and I’ll be damned if I let my kids try to kill each other unsupervised every afternoon.

Anyways, fast forward to me moving out, having some crazy fun in college (a story for another time) and eventually turning into a somewhat nice rational human being.  Turns out, I really like my sister.  In fact, she’s my best friend.  She’s the only one who will honestly tell me to put the frumpy sweater back on the Kohl’s shelf and to get my ass on the treadmill.  And I get the privilege of telling her the same right back.  It’s fun to joke about being the fattest people in the room, and being able to laugh knowing you are not destroying the other person’s self image, because they know you well enough to know you are not being malicious, just funny, and a bit truthful, but the what the hell, she is the same size as me anyways.

It’s fun to have someone to just give a look to when your dad does something stupid or when you know your mother has phased out on the phone watching HGTV and simply responding occasionally with, “Uh huh, ya, I know…,” when you’ve just told her you are thinking of selling your kids to the mafia and you think you have an STD from your cheating husband. (Yes, mom, I’ve said this stuff and that’s how you responded, seriously, it’s a fun game we play.)

My sister’s lived it with me.  Knows why I am crazy and dysfunctional and why I think the way I think.  She understands why I am crazy messy and disorganized, because she stole all those OCD genes from my parents, or my dad isn’t my real dad and Pig Pen is, which would make way more sense.  She knows I will do everything in my power to be there for her no matter what.  She knows I will do nothing but root for her in all things and only want good things to happen.  She knows that I think she is an awesome mom and thank God everyday that she got the opportunity to be one.  Plus, above all, I will need her with me to take care of my parents as they get crazier and crazier, and thank God yet again that she has the bigger house to take care of my dad when mom decides she’s had enough and heads for heaven.

Love ya sis.  You totally owe me a present for all the schmoopiness.   And don’t get schmoopy back, because frankly, you aren’t that good at it.

Seriously. This was the only together pic I could find after an hour of searching. But doesn’t my hair looks super cute?

OK-Here’s an acceptable pic to my sister. Even if I look like the crazy lady who photobombed the shot.