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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Brain V. Body

The only feeling I can compare it to is when you contract a stomach bug.  At least, when I contract a stomach bug.  I'll lay in bed writhing in that throbbing stomach pain that subsides only to come back even harder just daring myself not to vomit.  My brain stands off with my body.  No way.  No retching happening over here little virus.  No puking.  Brain v. Body (or in this case, virus.) 

That's what happened two nights ago when I laid on my stomach and could feel my heart pounding through my chest.  What's this? my brain wondered.  The pounding felt so strong and rapid and irregular.  When was the last time I had my blood pressure checked?  Was that a lump on my chest?  Was cartridge pressing on my heart surely causing it to explode and my husband will wake up and I'll be dead and I'll never see my children again and... No way?  No way!  My brain shouted!  

Shit.  I was having a panic attack.  

It had been well over a year and a half since my last panic attack and my brain, once it realized what the hell was happening, was seriously angry with my body.  This wasn't some virus picked up from a slimy student, this bizarre exploding heart feeling, inability to inhale and exhale, heaviness in my chest and pains in my arms was my body playing dirty, evil tricks on my brain.  

No way.  My brain stood up for herself.  This is a panic attack even if it feels like something very serious.  It's a trick!  Stop whatever outlandish, fatalist feelings you're having this minute! Get off of your chest.  Lay on your back.  Take slow, deep breaths.  In with the white light, out with the dark light.  And repeat.  

At some point my husband woke up.  My brain told me to confidently tell him that I was having a panic attack and that I just needed to calm down and everything was fine and yes I would like some water.  He's seen these before, in the middle of the night.  One time, my brain let my body win and we went to the ER together.  Tonight he just held my hand.  

The next morning he and my brain both wondered what had brought this on.  My top three possibilities included the fact that my children were four hours away (and out of my control), my disastrous substituting gig with sixth graders the day before Spring Break (way, way out of control) and the fact that before bed, I'd watched The Wolf of Wall Street a movie about a man so far out of control, I couldn't even enjoy it.

But if it was my body that won this round, that surprised my brain with this out-of-the-blue revolt, the reason could be that I started taking birth control again three weeks ago after a six month hiatus.  No stomach virus to contend with here, just additional hormones battling my already precarious, rambunctious little batch.  Until next time, both my brain and body agree that being a female is sometimes not so much fun. 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Out of My Hands

My husband and I had to take a car ride recently.  We had to have one of those conversations that couldn't happen around children or electronics or strangers.  Among the issues we needed to resolve was the fact that a few weeks ago, my husband removed a knife from my hands...

I had forgotten all about it because I remember very little and probably choose to forget the messy parts.  When he addressed how upset I was as a first topic in our car ride conversation, I laughed.  I hadn't had a second thought about it, but that was part of the problem.  

I explained to my husband that, usually when an event like a knife being removed from my hands happens, and I scream because of it, there have been at the very least, two other previous problems, both of which I said nothing about and have mostly forgotten.  So subconsciously, I'm thinking would-you-believe-he's-doing-this-again?! And react as such.  Big.  Problem.  

"The truth is, you like being in charge of everything," I rebutted.

I can't say in control, that has a horrible stigma, but in charge and in control mean the same thing here.  I like to believe that my husband and I are somewhat evenly in charge of what happens in our collective lives (including our two children) but that doesn't change the fact that the truth is exactly what I said to him.

He had taken the knife out of my hands because he didn't like how I was cutting up the chicken.  

I'm sure at multiple points over the past eleven years my husband has taken things out of my hands to be helpful.  I was probably struggling and he helped me and made life easier and I was probably grateful.  This time, though I don't exactly remember how I reacted, it probably included a fuck and a you in no particular order. 

Twice now since our car conversation, I've caught him and said something immediately: "I'm not done with this spoon yet," and "you just removed the box of candles out of my hands."  

It's bizarre isn't it?  Such a silly thing in the span of a marriage to be included in a car ride conversation.  But they're mostly silly things, the ones we have to take time to think about, talk about, to care about, to resolve again and again so that we can continue to love each other for all the other silly things. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bipolar Baby Disorder

I can finally admit it:  I have bipolar baby disorder.  I can swing from one spectrum to the next in nanoseconds.

I see cute newborn pictures on Facebook SWOOSH That's it, I must have another baby.

I see a sick/dying baby on Facebook SWOOSH I have two healthy children, why take the chance?! 

I hold a baby SWOOSH This is perfect.  I need this immediately. 

I tell my husband that I'd like another baby SWOOSH Okie dokie this shit is not happening. 

I see three siblings at school together SWOOSH Oh my gosh my three sons?!  How adorable would that be?! 

My two children drive me insane by fighting with each other SWOOSH Holy shit, I'm damn near ready to kill these two?  How in the hell could I throw another in the mix?!

I have amazing, loving conversations with my siblings SWOOSH Siblings are the best, how could I not want my kids to have another?!

I learn about someone who can't conceive SWOOSH How dare you be so greedy to want another?

I think about the fact that I'm 31 and that in 9 years, my oldest son will be 19 and and my youngest 15 SWOOSH I'm sorry, what?!  Teenagers?!  College students?!  What the fuck?!  I teach those kids, not HAVE them?!  

I look at my amazing husband, who wants nothing else than to spend time with me more than anything SWOOSH We're going to be able to do this so very soon!

I listen to Owen't pre-school songs SWOOSH Are these my last silly sounding words?  Will I never hear mispronounced l's like w's?  Little kid giggles?  Cuddle in bed?   

I think long and hard... Is this it? 

It's never-ending and it could seem trivial to women who don't want kids or more than one or more than two.  I can seem awful to women who want one and aren't even able to do that.  I wish I didn't feel this way - trust me, life would be much easier, but I do.  I'm an incredibly young mom who, when most of my friends are having their first and second babies back-to-back, am experiencing 4th grade parent-teacher conferences and pre-school (next year Kindergarten!? SWOOSH!)   

It's an easier decision for men.  Often times, they're thinking with their little heads about producing another.  A son?  Perfect!  Two?!  Even better!  Mom's, more maternal, think more about the act of mothering.  It never ends, but it becomes less of a requirement with each passing year.  We carried you; we birthed you; We teach you how to succeed on your own.  

I don't think I'm ready to give up those first two quite yet.  

Monday, August 12, 2013

I'm A Teacher Again?

Eight months ago, I wrote a blog entry called, "Why I'm Not A Teacher."  I was only a month into my new sit-in-front-of-a-computer-job and I was thrilled.  Until I wasn't.

Sit in front of a computer?  All day?  That's it?

I had a desk job and as I explained, I loved it because that's all it would ever be: drive to work; sit at my desk; drive home, be a mom and wife.  Except it started to make me a little nutty/ier.

"How was work?" my husband Jon would ask.


I can't do same.

Then, my son's principal asked if I'd be interested in teaching Title I.  Actually, he shouted it into my ear at a school dance.  "WHAT'S TITLE I?!" I asked, confused.  "YOU'D TEACH READING!'" he explained.  "OH!  I CAN TEACH READING!!"

There you have it.  Why I'm A Teacher Again.  Except, after the first week of professional development, I craved my quiet desk job.  My nerves and snap judgments and laments about teacher friends left in Las Vegas got the best of me and Jon heard it all.    

"I can't do this!  I don't like these people!  You know, these elementary teachers?  They're not like me!  They're so happy all of the time!  I'm a bitter, bitchy, high school hag who was pissed off when they weren't noticing that the pronouns weren't agreeing in their practice test questions!  And I feel like I have to prove myself!?  Can you imagine?  I was teaching AP and out of my mind analyzing Salman Rushdie and citing documents and trying to remember the difference between asyndeton and polysyndenton and now I'm having to state, 'well, I taught for five years in Las Vegas' and I really want to say, 'with 250 students and one shit on a car once and one snorted drugs in my room and most were bigger than me and I had to be tough every single second and those kids knew that they were there to work and we didn't get kids who were excited to learn and smiling and happy for their carpet squares and circle time!"

My husband smiled and nodded.  "I'm so glad you're a teacher again.  I was so sad when you said when you were done.  It will be fine.  Have a great first day!"  Damn Jon.  He could be an elementary teacher.

So off I went to my second, first day of school.  I helped nervous boys and girls depart buses.  I encouraged moms and dads to leave crying kids.  I opened applesauces and fruit snacks and cheese sticks.  I joked with other teachers (who, by the way, can be bitter and bitchy too, thank goodness!)  I walked kids back to their rides home and waved to their smiling faces behind rectangular windows.

And each day was better than the one before.

I, as usual, realized that I generally like most people and can ignore their small faults, since good lordy I have about a million that they'll hopefully do with the same.  I started to adore that feeling of being needed.  I liked hearing how pretty I looked or that someone liked my bracelet or any other sentence that freely flowed from unedited mouths.

Ohhhhhh! I thought to myself.  This is why they do this!  

My guard wasn't always up.  Little kids randomly waved hi.  They reminded me that "I know you!" I always asked, "where from?" since I'm a confused high school teacher.  "Here!"  Oh.  Well, no shit.  I've hugged more kids than I could imagine.  Mom-mode takes over when someone is sobbing in a hallway.  I've been hugged too.  I still dislike that.  It comes out of nowhere, around my chubby stomach and I more pull off than hug back.  I've talked to middle school kids who shared their summer adventures.  It's never fake when I'm curious to know more.  I'm genuinely nosy.  When I've tested them on their reading skills I feel the ache that is wanting them to succeed, to finish in time, to make no mistakes.  The ache of a teacher.

A friend recently asked me on a Facebook message, If my distant memory serves me right, you wrote a nice blog about you parting with the teaching profession. i'm not privy to your life outside off fb so what happened? I still think it's awesome you came back to the ranks though.

To which I responded, My sons school is out of control. Principal always backs teachers. Everyone held accountable out in open. Etc. if I can't thrive in an environment with which exactly matches my beliefs maybe I should not be in it.

Wish me luck!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Picking Up The (Poop) Pieces

Having two sons makes for easy bathroom "visits."  I don't think I could count the number times I've said, without any shame, "here, just pee on my tire."  And they do it, without any shame, for the most part.

Last year, while camping, this came in handy.  I'd turn around and see a butt by a tree and go back to my beer. "Make sure you wash your hands."  (Just kidding.  That is a complete lie.  I just wanted everyone to think I cared.)

What I didn't expect to encounter, however, was the dreaded middle-of-the-woods-with-only-a-port-a-potty-in-sight poo.  The three year old was not going into that stinky box and the portable toilet seat was wobbly.  He would just cry about how badly he had to BM.  It got so bad that I finally pulled down his drawers, got down on one knee and proposed he poop while sitting over my thigh.

It worked!

I had forgotten all about this constipated cry fest until it happened again, last week, while camping, at the same spot.

Now, at age four, I was able to talk him into sitting on the outdoor toilet hole.  It was wobbly and unnerving, so I also had to bend down and hold onto him, stare right in his little red-bloodshot eyes and wait to hear the thud drop from his behind.  "I got one poop out.  But there is another one."  I waited some more.  "Nope, now I have to pee."

I stood him up quickly since I was in the line of fire and after wiping him up, grabbed a doggy-doo-doo bag and scooped the turds.  Was this to be a yearly thing?!

I thought we were done with dung until he started complaining again.  This time we were even farther from civilization, over a creek, searching for morels.  His calls intensified from a, "Mom, I need to go poop!" to cries.  This is where, I'm sure, one day, my sons will wish that they a had better? more interested? less self-involved? (or too involved in hunting for mushrooms in this particular case) mom.  My first casual shouts had quite a bit to do with my inability to do anything and the later ones suggested he just take his pants off and shit by the creek.

The cry, "Mom!  I pooped!" will snap you out of any activity, even one as potentially delicious as finding mushrooms.  As I walked over to my half-squatting son, I noticed that he had only pulled his shorts down a bit and that a three inch turd was teetering on their waistband.  Obviously I can't say, "I told to you take you pants all the way off!" since I had already driven him to shit right where he stood.  Instead, I plucked it off with a tissue, rolled down the shorts and wiped off his ass.  Problem solved.

At a quick stop off on the 45 minute ride home, in the middle of eating our Cinco de Mayo, Mexican lunch, after an initial trip to the bathroom (this time we washed our hands, I swear!) Owen informed us that he wasn't wearing any pants.  I looked down in horror as he sat next to me in only his grey boxer briefs.

Holy shit, I forgot all about his pants.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Over(ly) Relig(ious)

Last night, my mom told me I was getting obnoxious with my anti-religion rhetoric.  She didn't state it like that but I wanted it to sound all Fox News-ish.  I couldn't disagree so I chose to defend myself by explaining some of those Facebook postings over the past week.  (Note: I always post obnoxious amounts on Facebook, I was just clarifying this particular set.)

Regarding Catholic Church:  

March 27: Best ways for me to get out of Catholic Easter Sunday service at 8:30 a.m. aaaaand GO!? (Side note: I'm stuck out in the country and my partner is crime is pre-guilted into going by both upbringing and relations.)

March 31: Right before we left church this morning the priest reminded the congregation that only 20% of households had paid appropriate tithes, so that was tacky...

March 31: Just passed a sign that read, "Only prayer will fix America." You may now consider yourself an informed U.S. citizen.

My mother reminded me that I had attended multiple Catholic Easter Sunday services when I was younger and we visited my grandmother every Spring Break.  She also noted that my siblings and I played with our Nintendo Gameboys much to the embarrassment of my grandmother.  I have a horrible memory, so anything chanted, knelt or sprayed during those years never stuck.

Now, I vividly recall my first Northwest Ohio Catholic service with my husband (then out-of-wedlock-baby-daddy, snicker-snicker.)  I kept giving him confused looks and wondering what the hell was happening around me.

When we moved to Las Vegas, the religious rules we followed with my Catholic in-laws were, "our turf, our freedom from religion."  Those Sundays, they took our boys to church and we took ourselves to a relaxing brunch.

Now we're back in Ohio and once a year we must follow, "your turf, we must begrudgingly participate."  Every spring, I freak out about the following: kneeling or not kneeling, biased explanations to my sons regarding what is happening around them, getting sprayed with water, responding to sentences like collective members of a cult, touching strangers both when I'm supposed to say "peace" and when I'm supposed to hold their hands with my arms bent at the elbow, etc.  This year I threatened to leave if the priest mentioned the gays and gave my husband a concerned look when he talked about rainbows.  It makes me anxious.  It creeps me out.  Sorry Catholics, it's never going to change.

Now moving on to...

The Facebook Marriage Equality Issue: 

March 27: I can't work AND read about 83 year old Edie Windsor AND look at supreme court updates at the same time?! Also, go ahead and delete me if you use The Bible as your argument against gay marriage. We clearly shouldn't even be virtual friends.

March 27: Note: 3 people have deleted me.

March 28: Unfriended 2 and unliked 2 orgs. I try to be open to other points of view but I just can't hang with people who can't hang with the gays by hiding behind an old book.

And here's what I was responding to:

"I told my wife that I was gonna put a man holding the paw of a dog, but I didn't feel like spending more time photoshopping...LOLOL....but you are right, where's the line? I could've drawn Mothers and sons, Fathers and daughters, etc...."

"Are these posted by people your age?" she asked in shock.  


Thankfully, my Facebook page was also painted red with the marriage equality sign (a small percentage of the reported 2.7 millions who also did).  Friends, relatives, co-workers, former Mormon students, strangers were all showing their support for this:  

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The End of Age "Free" (Part II)

I'm suffering from a serious bout of Baby Fever.  It's a condition I know that my husband hates.  Despises.  Doesn't even like when I joke about, which I do, often, and on semi-public forums like Facebook and this blog.  It's getting worse every day and I know part of the reason has to do with a celebration this week:  my youngest and second son's fourth birthday.

No more hearing, "free" when asked his age.  Ever onward,  to the four word.  

Four is a big one in my books.  It's the beginning of the end of toddler-dom.  Soon there will be no more napping with mom or or sitting on mom's lap or silly sounding words or holding hands or right mom?s or any of the other darling acts that occur after all of the annoyances moms have to muddle through, half-asleep through the first year of life, and before bonafide Big Boy time.

I hate that it's already here.

I hated it last time, for equally selfish reasons.  I wanted another pregnancy to celebrate, not hide out of embarrassment.  I wanted to share my news with happy loved ones, not concerned.  I wanted a daughter who would love me just like I loved my mom.  My husband and then four year-old son had just better get on board with baby because the soon to be hormonal, miserable, tired, grumpy Pregnant-Katie-Express was pulling up to the station!

This time, it's still selfish (it's rarely not with me) but it has less to do with the immediacy of having another baby and a lot more to do with way down the road a ways.

Is this really it?  Will this be the last fourth birthday?  Will we answer, "yes" to those questions now, and then, in ten years, when we have a nineteen and a fourteen year-old, regret them?  

Clearly, we don't rush into having children.  Very few of my friends follow our five year gap.  But we do adore them.  Doesn't it make sense to adore another?  (Am I sounding like a future "Cat Lady"?!)

Since we had Nathan so young, most of my friends, Facebook or otherwise are barely on baby two.  Baby Two is an easy one.  Anyone can handle man-on-man defense.  But what about three?!  I ask them in my own panic.  Do you want three?!  How is it having three?! I ask the few friends who've switched to Zone.  

I'm the oldest of four and couldn't imagine my life without my siblings.  We are spread over thirteen years and just yesterday, I spoke to all three.  This is not uncommon.  My husband (who I'm sure has hated reading this entire post) is the apathetic boy squished between two close-in-age sisters.  Both of whom have three children respectively.  He doesn't talk to his sisters often and I don't think ever both in the same day.  Unless they're all in the same room together.  

He continues to just say no to three.  I continue to wonder.  And continue to lament the end of our second Year Number Three.  

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