Friday, June 27

on timeouts

I am not going to get into the pros and cons of timeouts. We've played both sides of the fence and now use them sparingly - for many of the same reasons cited in the article. Trying to make an upset child take a timeout is upsetting, and we couldn't reconcile that with our parenting ideals. So, we've been working a different angle with some real success. Especially when you define success not as "a well-behaved child" but instead look at the whole picture. What does she like? What does he have to say? How can we work together to be part of a family? Do my kids trust me? Are my kids getting the things they need? What are my children capable of?

The article at Slate (thanks Sean!)

coming back

The road is life. - Jack Kerouac On The Road

I've picked this book up once again. As life roared on, I put it down and forgot about it until the other day. In a fit of frustrated tidying, I uncovered it and picked up where I'd left off.

I have been really awful to myself lately. I won't go into details here, but when life starts kicking your ass in tiny ways, you know it is time to take stock and sort out some flaws.

To that end, I have admitted to myself that I have made mistakes, have begun to accept those mistakes and do some learning. I'll keep trying - eventually, I imagine, the process will become more intuitive, but I am also starting to understand that life is unpredictable. Billions of possible outcomes, any of them as likely or unlikely, difficult or easy, as any other. The more completely I begin to understand that and accept that, the more completely I can enjoy life for what it is. A journey into the great unknown.

Saturday, June 14

scaling vast new heights of over-disclosure

Recently, I watched Law and Order..., on cable, complete with commercials. I was pretty smug that I recognized none of them, nor did they interest me much. One, however, did catch some corner of my attention. It was for cars or tires, methinks, and was a representation of a city as a Labrynth, with cars representing the marbles. The commercial, itself, didn't interest me - what did was the memories I have of playing that game. It was one of those games I was supposed to be careful with - I think it belonged to my step-father.

When I was younger, I wanted to win at everything. I didn't, but I sure wanted to. I think I was a pretty obnoxious kid. I remember a girl in Junior High using that exact term. I spent a week asking random people I encountered if I was obnoxious. Most said I was. As an obnoxious, clever, kid who was determined to win, I learned to cheat. I was the master of the "half-assed" paper that would get me the minimum mark I needed to make my parents happy. I was disorganized, sloppy, and a real smartypants. When I was younger, I could pull an honours grade out of a failing start. I was smart and I was good at hedging my bets so that I could go full out on the few projects that interested me and slack through the other ones and come out somewhere in the middle.

I was pretty smug about it. And because I pushed myself so rarely, I began to think that that was just what life was like. That I could do pretty much anything, that I could be anything. The attitude of the time was certainly on my side. Any of us could do anything - we would all be rich and successful and happy. I didn't care so much for work, though, so I shrugged and figured that would sort itself out.

I was not athletic, but we had a provincial park near my house, growing up, that I adored exploring. More often than not, my explorations were on my own - though most of my favourites were with company. Bugs didn't bother me, nor did getting dirty. As I grew older I would go to the park to find a place where I could hide out and eat/smoke/drink. Generally, I did those things on my own, too. But my fondest memories are, again, of the times when I wasn't alone.

I have beat myself up for years for not fitting in. The situations vary, but the general feeling I am left with is that I should have done a better job of fitting in. But fitting in isn't what I want. I could - there is a giant group of "regular North Americans" I could easily join by staying exactly where I am. I have always prided myself on being a little ahead of the curve. I like to "win", but what I really like is to keep pushing the envelope, I used to see how much I could get away with, now I see how much I could do. Now I just need to accept that there is only so much I can do and do it.

It's like that game, Labrynth, I am rolling along, trying not to fall into the traps of modern life. If you've played the game, you know that if you stop moving, you will most likely lose. Flow and Balance.

I want to say something to all of you who take time to read this blog, and especially those people who gave me feedback. Thank-you. I have been reminded of how very blessed I am and of the deals I've made with myself, primarily the one where I don't beat myself up. For the past two days, I have been making mistakes with purposeful abandon. That is to say, I am allowing myself to jump and fall and pick myself up. I dust myself off a tensy bit richer for the experience. I haven't actually fallen much, or at least, I have not fallen too badly (except in conversation, I have been a bit clumsy with my thoughts and words). I feel a little taller, a little stronger, and convinced that if I put in the leg-work, my life will be a-ok. Regardless of how it turns out.

Friday, June 13

my glorious freedom

Today, at 3pm, my husband and son climbed on board a ferry. Destination: Grandma and Grandpa's. Until 8pm on Sunday it's just me and Noodle... today, we throughly cleaned and washed the car, we hit Ikea for a return I'd been putting off, a glass to replace the broken one from our set, and to recycle a pile of batteries, then we stopped at Toys'R'Us for a birthday gift and some on-sale toys for squirrling away, all that was followed by a leisurely drive home listening to the CBC. It was swell, really swell.

Now we're home, Noodle's in bed (though not happy, having woken up in the car as I was unloading all our bags), and I am trying to decide whether I want to clean, go to bed, read a book or watch a movie. Given that it is only 6:30, I can likely do most of those things and still manage to take a shower.

Tomorrow we have a few more errands to run, things like toiletry shopping which is so much more leisurely when we're not being stalked by staff who worry that my son will tear their store apart (unlikely). Also, it is easier to buy a less-expensive, less branded toothbrush for Boo when he's not there - he's all about the dental-care bling.

Aha - I just got off the phone with my friend D, she's on her way over with burritos! Guess my plans have been made (I think I should still take a shower).

Wednesday, June 11

that's it, in a nutshell

simple things

a few bits that made me smile today:
*my fridge is clean, if a little empty
*I can walk, with both kids, to the laundromat, get two loads of laundry done, hit the park and enjoy the experience
*my son is at least as well-behaved as the average child
*we can afford not to have our children in child-care - we can barely afford it, but the pay-off is worth it
*I don't have a commute and my husband's is by transit, insulating us, somewhat, from rising gas prices
*Friday is pay-day
*Friday is also the day my husband and son leave for a Father's Day adventure on Vancouver Island
*our newest systems are working out pretty well
*I am only 29
*summer is coming, even through the gray I can feel it

Aunt Molly, on the slide May long-weekend.

Tuesday, June 10

go me!

Somewhat amazingly, I have just scored an hour in which I have only one child (who needs a diaper) and no chores. There are about a hundred things I could do, but I have narrowed it down to reading a book or doing some embroidery. Both will give me some of the calm I've been looking for and one will accomplish part of my goal to get all the things I have committed to send off in swaps finally gets out. I will then promptly remove myself from swap-bot, I just don't have the space in my life for it at the moment.

If I worked on the swaps, I'd be able to get everything out on Friday and free up some mental space. Sounds like I've made a plan and none too soon - Rigby's dropped her last toy and is no longer content to sit in her own filth.

Monday, June 9

common people

I had to look up the vid after writing about it in the last post.

virtual insanity

I have been doing a lot of soul-searching. I am in the midst of an identity crisis, one that has ebbed and flowed throughout my life. Recently, I have found myself thinking I know who I am and what my story is - or at least, what I want the rest of the wide world to see, but as of this weekend, like a puff of smoke, all my earlier assuredness is gone.

It has been frightening and freeing to watch this come to a head. And, ultimately, I feel less paralysed and better able to get shit done. Well, the reality of that statement does remain to be seen - I feel like with a decent night's sleep I could, finally, accomplish something

I have been floating around on here, not sure what or who my online persona should be - full of lofty ambitions and stinging failures, looking back through my recent blog history is pretty hard for me. I've mentioned the difficulty in trying to write about going crazy while in the thick of it, my constant battle with the illusion of supermomdom, but that idea of an attainable ideal is something that has pulled me out of the muck time and again... pulled me out, only to shove me back in like that cousin that I once had a crush on. I think it is time to move on, to a goal that is less likely to lead to self-sabotage and mud-stains.

I don't know where I am going. I need to make a poster stating that, or maybe a disclaimer. As far as blogging goes, I'm not writing this stuff for pay (although that might kick-ass, the market is insanely saturated and the blogs that are out there trying to make a buck tend to be dulled by commercialism), this is a place for me to work on my writing (and typing), to share my experience and to post photos so I can hear people gush about how adorable my family is (that never gets old), this blog is for me and all about me n' mine. So lately, where my blog has been insipid and tired, so have I (or it might be the other way around).

I went to a party on the weekend for a friend's 29th. It was a nice time, but while trying to make conversation with strangers I realised something devastating. I am not interesting. At least, not to the common person. I got a few laughs (my forte) , but when it came to real topics - such as data mining and internet presence, a combination of subjects that I ought to have a thing or two to talk about, I drew blanks. Not just one, but blank after blank after blank. Many mid-sentence. On more than a few of those occasions I realised that what I was about to say was foolish or uninteresting, but on others my thought train just left. I can only imagine the impression I left (I hope that my being funny made up for some of it). It was an odd mix of people, all more worldly and interesting than I, stay-at-home mum who has done little else of note in the past ten years.

That stupid party just confirmed all my feelings of inadequacy, that I am immaterial and immature and "not applying [my]self" as my teachers were fond of saying. It brought up all kinds of deep pains, like my jealousy of my half-sisters who travel to interesting places (my summer trips were always to BC to visit my dad), have greater educational opportunities, more talent, and are all thin. It reminded me, being in my friend's beautiful condo, that we're broke and not nearly as hip as we'd like to think. And it highlighted how limited my knowledge of things outside of my middle-class white culture is.

I feel like I am the girl Pulp sings about in Common People, except that my choice to live like common people also effects my family - and it is true, as long as we trust in the safety of our parent's wallets, we will never live within our means. And even then, we will still get (and accept) nice gifts and a bit of charity (especially when it is earmarked for our children). I can't deny where I came from any more than my mother, who left the barn but never really left the farm, could ever deny where she came from. And that can actually be hard - and I know this will make me sound like a privileged asshole - growing up with everything I needed, so much so that seeing my younger siblings have access to more makes me very jealous, makes the fact that I have, currently, -$0.07 in the bank and a worn $20 in my purse really, really hard to bear.

This is not the life I'd imagined for myself and my family - in fact, it is about as far from the life I'd imagined as possible. And while I sweep aside my regret and go through the process, once again, of mourning the life I had seen ahead - I know that in me there is everything necessary to make this work. I know it is in there, because the alternative is unthinkable. To blow my one chance at this life would really suck.

I don't know what my future looks like, I do not know where I am going - and that's okay. I've got the wind at my back and I am ready for adventure.... I think.

Friday, June 6

pull this thread and just walk away

Man, life sucks sometimes. Like ferserious.

I've been wondering, often, how I ended up here with no idea what I'm doing. I know a lot, there's no denying it. But how did I end up trying to explain death to my three year old? How did I end up wondering when it is appropriate to reveal in a friendship that I attend group therapy? How can I not just have "it" together?

How am I supposed to navigate all the day-to-day stuff while the social ideal our species dreamed up falls to shit? While I worry if my children's generation will be poisoned by all the chemicals we've saturated ourselves with - or if we'll survive or thrive in the coming depression (it is coming, stop denying it and get ready for it - seriously) - or all the other freaky un-knowables like, where will the next big disaster happen? Will my parents be able to retire? Age, disease, ecology, economy, spirituality, plus the responsibility of raising kids in a mental minefield.

I get it, I do. Though, if I had written it I would read "God, please grant me the serenity to accept the things I should just leave be; the courage to change the things that need changing; and the knowledge that I'll learn more by getting it wrong than by getting it right - so even when I really mess up I'll have the balls to face another day of challenges."

Wednesday, June 4

in reference to our earlier discussion

Writing about going crazy while going crazy is difficult, because while a part of me wants to take you all along for the ride, that crazy, anxious part still wants to pretend that I'm actually supermom.

Last month, at my shrink's, we talked about increasing my dosage. By that point I already knew that I was on the path to relapse, but convinced the good doctor to keep me on the same dosage a bit longer so that I could work through some of my issues "on my own." At the time it seemed really important that I learn to cope where I was - part of that still stands. I reasoned then that I did not want to forever be dependant on (more and more) medication to be functional, but now I see that it has instead served to show me that I do need the meds, for now, to keep growing the way I had been. I also have learned how very capable I am. This stretch has been the longest of my recovery, but it has also been the least extreme. It actually feels pretty close to "normal."

I am learning a lot about myself. Some of it very not pretty, some of it really cool - it has been quite the ride. I will increase my meds this month when I see my doctor again, I have already begun to figure out what I need in terms of social and personal time, as well as what I need to do to hold up my end of the family. I think because this spell has been so drawn out and milder, I have had a chance to put the tools I have collected to the test and I have also been humbled.

I have a long, long way to go, and the next time I start to sound like I think I have it all figured out, I want someone to knock me upside the head. Unless I do have it all figured out - in which case you bitches had better take notes.

"the delecate art of calling yourself on your own bullshit"

I've been watching clips of the Hour with that swoony strombo and this one was really incredible.

"For some reason, I haven't totally self destructed yet. But it's still early."


Monday, June 2

anatomy of a relapse

In order to stage an effective relapse, there are a few steps that will always help. First, get your whole family sick - seasonal allergies are a good start, but if you can add in a mystery cold you're golden. Next, be sure your youngest is teething, add in some vague parental stress, a milestone birthday, a spazzy laptop, a new and less comfy bed, and a long list of commitments desperately requiring follow-through. Then, slowly and methodically abandon and alienate people until you have no excuse to leave the house, make sure your therapy sessions have ended (don't go find a new therapist - that would wreck everything). Miss group therapy two weeks in a row. Replace all meals with fast food. Drain bank account.

Yes, to all of those out there who have been wondering and worrying, things have been a wee bit fucked up lately. The good news? I've been doing what my friend Sean called "taking pictures along the way" - I have been conscious and present throughout this fiasco and I am learning a lot through trial and error. I just wish making mistakes didn't sting so much. And I wish I could go off the sanity wagon without collateral damage. But I am optimistic that each time this happens I will be more resilient and less reckless.

I am making no promises right now - it is time for me to do some more work on me and my life. And before getting started there are a few things I really need to get off my plate, I am dedicating my free time this week to the things that need doing.