The World Is Not Ending

I’ve realized I need to remind myself that the world is not ending.

Somewhere along the way, I figured all the stores are closed and school is closed, so I should be too.

This is it. Accept it. We don’t get nice things anymore.

But then I hear other people are going out.

Having experiences.

Seeing people.

Doing things.

Living their lives.

And then I remember. Huh. Maybe I should too?

Staying home is nice.

Safe.

Warm.

Comfy.

But is this what I want?

I’m so tired.

Weary.

Sad.

Numb.

But is this what I want?

Sometimes I don’t know what I want.

Oftentimes I change my mind.

Or my mind changes me.

Just remember, self: the world is not ending

And neither are you.


Day 22: Pepper Day!

Controlled Danger-Fun

You know how boundaries are on a spectrum, right. On one side it’s rigid, and way over here on the other side it’s chaotic. I was raised firmly planted on the rigid side of the spectrum, and it shows. Dinner was at 6pm, every day, never failed. The laundry was done on Saturday morning, every Saturday morning. You call your parents on Sundays. Put simply, we had clear, predictable routines, expectations, and consequences for violating those expectations. As a kid, I didn’t think anything of it. I assumed it was normal. For the most part, I liked it. I’m a person who likes to know what’s coming next, and whether that’s because of the way I was raised or happily coinciding with the way I was raised has yet to be seen. Perhaps it’s both.

Put another way, I’m a person who likes to be in control. Control, structure, predictability all feel viscerally comforting to me. I crave them like I crave my morning coffee. Feeling out of control, at the very least makes me feel cranky or irritable, and at worst makes me feel anxious and downright panicky.

I do things everyday to maintain my feelings of control over my little bubble. I make my bed. I choose what I put into and onto my body. I make lists and cross them off. I pick up clutter- constantly. I organize the fridge, the junk drawer, my kids’ toys. I plan. I think of everything that could go wrong with that plan and then plan for that, too. It’s a careful balance to make sure that I’m staying productive and healthy and not going overboard trying to make every little thing exactly how I want it. Some days are better than others.

They have a weird relationship, anxiety and control. They’re both illusions, to an extent. I don’t have control over very much in this world, and so there’s very little that is healthy and productive to feel anxiety about. Go figure. In an effort to squelch anxiety by trying to control everything, it often backfires and creates even more anxiety. Ugh.

So. What may sound counter-intuitive in my quest to try and control (or, as a healthier reframing word choice: calm) my anxiety is my charming habit to do stuff that I know makes me anxious. I still drink coffee because I likes it and I wants to. I still stay up late because I likes it and I wants to. And I still watch scary movies because my anxiety will not control my choices and I will not live in fear…all the time.

I make calculated choices and I have to decide what risks and consequences I’m willing to take. As a risk-averse person in general, I don’t like doing big, dangerous things where I don’t feel enough in control. Skydiving and bungee jumping are out, but rollercoasters are in! The perfect amount of fear/excitement and control/safety.

Scary movies also fall into this just right category. Surprising no one, I like the psychological thrillers that burrow under my skin and keep me up at night. Sure, they make my blood pressure rise but I get to make choices from beginning to end. Which creepy show do we watch? How often? Let’s take a pee break right now. Right now! PAUSE IT! Okay, now I need to turn on the lights. I don’t know why we started with the lights off because that was a shitty idea. At this point I’m going to talk my way through this scene so I can stay in the moment and not get sucked i-WHY IS SHE NOT LEAVING THIS HOUSE?! HASN’T SHE BEEN THROUGH ENOUGH? Where is her sense of self-preservation?! RUUUUUUN! Aaaaand oh look this blanket jumped right in front of my eyes before the Bent Neck Lady scrapes down the fucking hall again; all I hear is scraping, hissing, and screaming so I’ll let my imagination take it from here and assume they’re defeating the evil spirits and getting the hell outta dodge because who in their right minds would go back to bed after seeing a floating specter turn a kitten inside out and not tell their parents?! Fucking psychopaths, THAT’S WHO!

This is my idea of controlled danger-fun, dear readers. Who needs to jump out of a plane when all you need to do is watch children be tortured by evil spirits in the comfort of your own home? I tell myself it’s instances like these, and people like me, for which Xanax was invented.


Day 13

Crafting Words Over the Years

I just remembered, a day late, that yesterday was my blogiversary.

That’s right, folks! I’ve been blogging with WordPress for 9 whole years. Whew, that seems like a lifetime ago now.

I started my first diary when I was 8 years old. It was in one of those Lisa Frank diaries with the scented pages and the metal lock on the side. My first entry was about the trip my family took to drive through the devastation of the Oakland Hills fire. I had never seen anything like this before. I remember seeing ash and debris and a bunch of brick fireplaces where houses should be. Like a budding journalist (or at the very least, a person who enjoys properly documenting everything), I drew pictures of what I saw next to my words. Clearly, it made an impact on me, even if I didn’t completely understand what I was seeing at the time.

Over the years, I continued to keep various diaries, albeit sporadically. I also wrote poetry and songs, and I tried my hand at fiction a few times. No joke- around 4th or 5th grade, my friend and I got together and wrote a full album’s worth of songs about pollution and how bad it was for the earth (spoiler alert- it’s really bad). We even recorded a few that we sang at her house with her family’s fancy equipment. I want to say that we even designed a t-shirt to be sold to help raise money for our cause. We were environmentally conscious and we were going places, you guys.

I kept handwritten diaries through my college and grad school years that were for my eyes only. In looking back through them, I noted that I usually only felt the need to write when I was either angry and frustrated or very, very sad. They made for a very lopsided view of my life, if considered all on their own.

I started my first public blog around 2003, as a way of coping after my cancer surgery. It was with LiveJournal – anyone remember that platform?! I’m pretty sure only my college roommates and a smattering of friends and creepy strangers actually read it, but that wasn’t really the point. While I wanted to get my feet wet writing for an audience that wasn’t an English teacher, the entries were mostly for me. After a year and a half of being independent in college, I was home again and briefly unable to do much at all for myself and I needed an outlet. I needed a way to process what had happened to me, how I felt about it, and how I was gonna deal with it. I made that happen from the comfort of my parents’ ginormous communal desktop computer.

At some point, my LiveJournal career peetered out (I’m guessing college and life got back to being normal and busy) and I didn’t do any online journaling for quite some time.

Fast forward to Fall 2011. I had been out of school for a few years, working as a therapist at my first Big Girl Job. My boyfriend (now husband) had just started his master’s degree while working full time. He was either at work, at class, in the car, or studying, which meant he had zero time to hang out with me. I desperately needed a hobby and didn’t have to think too long or too hard to know what I needed to do.

Fun fact: when I first signed up with WordPress, I named my blog Things My Cat Made Me Say. I suppose I decided that my cat didn’t deserve all that unearned attention. Either that, or the theme was a little too nebulous. Ideally, I wanted an overarching theme for this blog that wasn’t just look-at-me-look-at-me, but still reflected who I was and gave me a sense of direction. At the time, I was living and breathing therapy. I worked two jobs seeing clients, consulting with my colleagues, and working with supervisors. I spent my free time researching weird diagnoses and reading disturbing memoirs of fucked up people. I was in it to win it, and so my blog might as well reflect that.

I searched for the right name, crowdsourcing my Facebook friends and keeping a witty list of Freudian-inspired puns. During one supervision meeting at work, a coworker mentioned the term psychobabble in passing, and I quickly scribbled it down in my notes. That’s it! I thought. It was perfect- psychology themed with just the right amount of crazy.

And I’ve been blogging, more or less, ever since. It’s still, as it will always be, mostly for me. Will it ever lead to a more serious writing gig? We’ll see. For right now, I’m super proud of my growing body of work. I enjoy the community this blog assembles around me and I enjoy using my tiny corner of the internet to express myself, process my feelings, and maybe make people laugh along the way.

Thank you, thank you, to everyone who takes the time to read my posts!


Day 12

Sick and Burning

Nighttime is easier.

The kids are in bed and the sun is down.

I pull the blinds closed, so I can’t see the smoke or the creepy orange sepia glow.

Now I can fool myself into thinking things are normal.

I stand in the shower and zone out while the water pours over me, in an attempt to wash off my grief. The dread. It’s so much that it clogs the drain.

I turn the TV on and eat sugar and numb out. Forget the outside world. Forget the trauma. I get to yell at characters who aren’t real. Consequences that don’t exist. I judge their choices because I know better. People I’ll never see. Places I’ll never be.

Why not stretch it out? It’s easier when the world is dark. One more show.

I go through the routine of getting ready for bed. Like nothing’s wrong. Next I huddle under the covers and read. Old favorites or new worlds. Vampires that sparkle or dystopian kids doomed to die. I judge their choices because I know better.

Eventually, sleep. Far too late into the night, but it’s comforting.

Anything to put off waking up to a world that is sick and burning. Glowing orange and choking on its own smoke.

A poem of sorts

masks

wipes

spread

quarantine

shelter

flatten

curve

homeschool

sanitizer

testing

antibodies

reopen

protest

asymptomatic

immunity

pandemic

Covid.

fear

panic

hypervigilance

numbness

lost

lonely

anxiety

anticipation

faith

kindness

love

hope.

 

Challenge Accepted, MFers

2020 is my year, bitches.

I’ve taken my extra time away from babies and I’ve surprisingly spent a good chunk of it exercising and shit. I know, I’ve surprised even myself. This morning, I was running around the house in my sports bra, getting the kids ready for school, and my husband first asked this weird half-naked lady with purple hair if she’d seen his wife, and then, upon remembering how hot I am, asked me if I knew where the gun show was. (spoiler alert, I do.)

That’s right. We know how to keep that spark alive.

Ever since my daughter was done breastfeeding and my body became my very own again, I’ve been working to really, truly take care of myself. I’ve had mental health stuff come up. I’ve had a bunch of seemingly random health stuff come up, too. Skin issues, GI issues, chronic acid reflux issues, my ongoing headaches and migraines. I’ve had a few tests done for the GI stuff and the short version is that they can’t find anything physically wrong with me. That leaves me with…my diet. The food-like things I put into my body.

About a year ago I cut out some dairy, but not all. I feel like that has helped some. Not all. I’ve also cut out or reduced a few things that trigger my reflux. So that helps. But not all the way.

Sooooooooo, my dear psychos, I’m taking the plunge. Starting tomorrow, I’m doing Whole 30. Wholey crap. For those of you unfamiliar, Whole 30 is an elimination diet to see how certain food groups affect your body – you eat whole foods for 30 days and then slowly add stuff back in to see what happens. It’s a good way to see if you have any allergies or aversions and junk. Basically, I can have meat, fish, eggs, fruits, veggies, nuts. Nothing else. No added sugar, no soy, no dairy, no legumes, no grains, no alcohol.

This is a big deal for me. I’ve always eaten everything. I don’t have any obvious allergies and I’m generally not a picky eater. I’ve also never been on a special diet before, ever. Unless you count my surgery prep and the stuff I couldn’t eat during pregnancies, I’ve never really restricted myself. And guys, my parents are from the midwest. Dairy is, like, THE most important food group. It’s like how Bubba is with shrimp: there are so many ways you can have cheese. There’s sliced cheese, grated cheese, powdered cheese, melted cheese, blocks of cheese, wheels of cheese. There’s cheese curds and cheesecake. Don’t forget cheesewhiz. I grew up having cows milk with breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Ice cream almost every night. Dear lord, my body is a temple and it’s never not been worshipped with dairy.

This is going to be interesting, y’all.

Luckily, I have a friend, whom I’ll call M, and she’s done this before and she offered to do it with me now and to be my emotional support animal. Honestly, I don’t think she’s aware of what she signed up for, because when I get hangry, all bets are off. I’ll be texting her in the middle of the night needing a peptalk so I don’t inhale my kids’ Valentines candy in my walk-in closet.

It goes without saying that I plan to blog about this experience as much as I need to and probably more than you all would like. Food is such an emotional thing. We have living, breathing relationships with it because it’s rooted in culture and family and it’s woven into every. single. social. gathering.

I’m treating this like one big experiment, and it’s my goal to remain determined and curious. Although I’m a rule follower to the core, M (dude, when I call you M, it reminds me of that kickass lady from the Bond movies played by Dame Judy Dench. You’re welcome.) kinda gave me permission to bend some small rules so I don’t go absolutely crazy. Like, I may still cook with real butter (I’m just kidding! I don’t cook, my husband does. A word on that later). And I’ll probably have some store-bought mayo (another midwestern food group – you can’t make a salad without it!), but I’m very interested to see how I feel without all that sugar and dairy and grain in my system. I’m looking forward to the poops! Oh, the BMs! I’ve heard the legends and I want to know what secrets lie within…and without.

Advanced thanks to M and to my husband, who has been amazingly supportive so far. He does all the cooking in the house, and he’s been planning meals for me and I know he’s gonna be there to cheer me on this whole way, even when I’ll be tackling him to the ground trying to eat the pasta hanging out of his mouth.

It all starts tomorrow, folks. What’s hilarious is that my mom friends are going out after we walk/jog/run tomorrow morning for coffee and donuts. FUCKING DONUTS ALREADY?!

CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

Bow to the napping gods

I don’t have much time to write this so we’ll see how far I get. I may have to post this less polished than I’d like, but that’s what today is like, I guess…

So, my youngest is pretty ready to kick naps. And I’m fucking not. That’s the gist of it.

I’ve been a SAHM and have known naps for 5 years now. I’ve planned my life around them. When I had two active nappers, my whole day revolved around getting the naps to happen simultaneously.

Especially as an Introvert Mama, I’ve worshiped them. NAPS ARE EVERYTHING. I BOW TO THE NAPPING GODS! I need downtime planned into almost each and every day in order to feel sane. If I don’t get enough sleep, to which I’m particularly sensitive, I often nap right along with my kids. I find myself getting suuuuper irritable and snippy if I don’t get some kind of break during the day. In those cases, I end up locking myself in the bathroom or going, yet again, on Facebook and let the scrolling numb all the feels.

Today, both of those things happened because my Little Miss didn’t nap. Guys, I’m frazzled.

I totally get and readily admit that these transitions are harder for me than they are for my kids. My kids are growing fast and when she’s ready, she’s ready. It’s just that, the difference between one sleeping child/one TV watching child versus two awake children is very different. When these two get together with any kind of energy, they’re madness. They are loud, and they rip the house apart, and they are just starting to become independent, but not enough to do all the things they want to on their own. Aaaand I really don’t want them watching TV for hours on end as the only way for me to manufacture a mommy break into my day.

Like now, I’m trying to write this with two awake kids. The TV is on, I got out markers and paper and stuff, but they are still asking me for shit every few minutes, or they are fighting, or they are going to break something, or they are making a huge mess and I am freaking gonna lose it. No amount of telling (or screaming) that mama is BUSY and that this needs to be QUIET TIME means anything. And trust me, the irony of that last sentence is not lost on me.

Another layer of why naps are so incredibly important to my daily mental health is that I have no family around to help. I don’t get regularly scheduled breaks. It’s all me. Thank freaking goodness for school because I need breaks from these kids and these kids need breaks from me.

I feel like there’s more to say, somehow, but if I keep typing it’ll probably just circle back around to the points I’ve already made and eventually devolve into some ALL-CAPS delirium along the lines of WHERE ALL THE SAHMs AT?! YOU ALL KNOW WHAT I MEAN, RIGHT?! FEEL MY PAIN!!!!

And yes, the upside of no naps means more freedom in our daily schedules. For sure. We won’t have to hurry home after lunch to avoid a meltdown and we can stay out all day and join friends for fun afternoon activities. The kids are getting older and they are entering a really fun stage. All of this is true. Absolutely. But with every new stage of parenthood comes with that bittersweet feeling of loss, of grief.

My husband asked me why I’m fighting this so much, and I said BECAUSE SHES MY BABY AND I NEED NAPS AND IM NOT READY.

My babies are growing up, and that’s hard. It’s all hard.

Just tell me I’m going to be okay without naps. I know my kids are going to be fine. It’s me I’m worried about.

nanopoblano2019

Feelings are having me

We’ve slowly been removing baby things from our living room area.

Before my second kid was born, we had a play kitchen and 273545585 pieces of play food just off the dining area, in an effort to get my kid out of the real kitchen but still feel like a part of the action. I got freaking sick of picking up said pieces of play food, and when I was pregnant with my second, “picking up” meant kicking them across the room into one big pile so I could yell at my husband to PICK THOSE UP the second he got home from work.

That was moved to the playroom many moons ago.

We used to have this colorful foam mat that fit together like puzzle pieces. We got it to save our kids’ noggins from smashing open on our laminate flooring while they were learning to be upright. While it did that, it also served as a thing for my kids to rip apart, chew, throw, and hide. My cat threw up on it. My oldest kid peed all over it during potty training. At that point I rinsed off the pee pieces and threw everything in the closet in a tearful hormonal rage (read: pregnancy).

We actually sold that (I cleaned it. A lot.) for real money. It’s gone.

We had this huge bouncy seat thing in the living room, too. When it was in use, it was SO LOUD, but it did its job of keeping each of my pre-mobile babies content for exactly 20 minutes (no more, no less) while I prepared and scarfed down my own lunch before I had to feed them.

Sold that too. Boom.

Since before our kids were born, we’ve always had a Pack N Play set up in our living room. It served as a diaper changing station, and it held loads of crap. Cloth diapers, disposable diapers, wipes, butt paste…and in the bottom: baby carriers, swim stuff, shoes, etc. etc. etc. In between kids’ diaper needs, my oldest napped in it, we took it camping, it even made a trip to the beach.

Since we don’t need a diaper station anymore because my daughter is a potty training ROCKSTAR, we took it down this weekend. I emptied it, found homes for all the random stuff, threw some stuff away, cleaned some stuff, and we….packed up the Pack N Play. It’s been a fixture in our home ever since we moved in. You can actually see our fireplace now; I think I forgot we had one. My son immediately wanted it back. He’s never known this house without it.

My husband looked over and saw me standing over the Pack N Play pieces and the still-full diaper caddy.

H: Hey Lady (He calls me Lady.)

Me, blinking away the tears: …y-yeah?

H: You gonna put this stuff away?

Me: Well, I don’t know what to do with it! Do we keep it? Throw it away? Sell it? Give it away? Do we need wipes anymore? Will our kids have any accidents? I haven’t changed a poopy diaper in weeks! WHAT IF I’VE CHANGED MY LAST POOPY DIAPER AND I DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS MY LAST?!?!?!

H: …we’ll keep some wipes for now. Let’s throw away the expired butt cre-

Me: NO!! BUT WHAT IF WE NEED IT?!

H: Just put it all upstairs.

Clearly, I’m just having all the feels about it. I wiped down the changing pad where my boy peed all over himself countless times. One time he pooped mid-change on himself. And me. And the floor. And I miss it. You know.

I remember putting my son in that thing right after lunches so that I could clean the frickin floor before he crawled through all the food he had just thrown down from his high chair.

After a while, we stored the kids’ shoes in there and they ran to grab them when it was time to leave the house.

Now it’s all in the closet.

My kids are growing up. They are taking huge steps out of the baby phase and it’s becoming real.

I’m sure you all know what I’m going to say next. On one hand, I am crazy excited. I can SMELL the increasing freedom and I wants more of it. The baby phase was HARD and I didn’t feel like myself and it was hard. And yet.

I find myself trying to drink my kids in a little more lately. They aren’t going to be so little and cute for very much longer, and I wish I could bottle it up. I sneak up and stare at them when they’re playing quietly. I smell their clothes right after they take them off, especially after yummy, sweaty, toddler sleep. I hug them whenever they let me, holding on just a little longer than is comfortable (for them, certainly not me). I need to make sure my kids never find out how to file for a restraining order.

Crap, I’d better stop now. You get the idea. Yay for having an actual living room! Yay for my kids growing up and becoming amazing human beings.

SOB.

 

Like Nothing Had Ever Happened

This post was after a particularly shitty day, told in the third person. I’m sure many parents can relate.


NaBloPoMo Day 25

Psychobabble

It started like any ordinary day.

And that’s the thing – these days, most days were just that – ordinary.  Sure, some moments stuck out for better or for worse, but they were mostly spent in the monotony of keeping her kid safe, clothed, fed, occupied.

As she lied in bed, she could hear her son happily babbling over the baby monitor.  He rarely woke up in a bad mood.  She got up and started her usual routine of making the bed, getting dressed, dragging a brush through her hair, and then she went to go get her son.

As soon as she opened his bedroom door, the stale odor of his poopy diaper floated out to greet her.  And then she could see, under her smiling, blond baby boy, that his crib sheet was quite soiled.

She sighed.

First things first, she thought, Diaper change, then strip the…

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