Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Duh, Mom!

Me, to Jefferson: "Girls like kisses, Jeff. Just remember that when you're a little older and want a girlfriend."
Jefferson: "I'm never getting married!"
Me: "Why not?"
Jefferson: "I want to live on my own so I can decorate my house myself."
Me: "Oh. Won't you be lonely?"
Jefferson, in a 'Duh, mom, it's so obvious' tone: "Mommmm - I'll get CATS!"

Duh me!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Completely Baffled

This morning I went to Lowe's to find new toilet seats, vacuum bags, and, I hoped, a replacement for the thingy that sits in the sink and guards the garbage disposal. You know, the little webby black thing. Which is basically what I called it when I stopped to ask where the heck to find one (the plumbing aisles had revealed nothing).

Me: "I'm looking for the black thingy that sits in the sink, you know - the thingymabobber that keeps the big stuff out of the disposal? Do they make replacements for that webby black thingy?"
Lowe's Employee: "You mean the baffle?"
Me, perplexed: "It's called a baffle?"
Lowe's Employee: "Yup. Down there, aisle 35, with the garbage disposals. But I'll have to remember your terminology the next time someone asks."
Me: "You mean not everyone comes in asking for replacement thingymabobbers?"
Lowe's Employee: "You'd be surprised how many people do."
Me: "Well, thanks for telling me the thing's name, because it had definitely 'baffled' me (insert groan here)."
Lowe's Employee: *weak laugh*

Isn't he glad I didn't come back after picking up the baffle to express my joy at being completely "baffled" again?!?

Yes, I am weird and find humor in dumb places. Yes, I am O.K. with that. Even if it may baffle you.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Chemical Reactions, Baby.

The thought popped into my head this morning that really all we are is just a bunch of chemical reactions. I'd been thinking along this line for a while, musing on hormones and neurotransmitters and wondering how much they control who we are - versus what we believe to be free will.

See, two weeks ago I had a couple of days where I felt like All That. I just felt pretty, and relatively thin, very happy in my own skin, proud of who I was. And in the middle of feeling that way, I wondered why I didn't always feel so - because I certainly don't. I hadn't eaten chocolate, but it felt a bit like a chocolate high, the one that brings the confidence I crave (albeit temporarily) and which fuels the addiction. Only this one lasted several days and wasn't, I believe, fueled by food.

I do have great days like that once in a while. But more often I have days where I feel fat and frumpy and sad and anxious and lonely and not good enough. Often within close proximity to the other days.  Clearly a few days (or hours!) is not enough of a time lapse to truly morph from frumpy blob into sexy blonde or vice versa - so it's gotta be all in my head. And if it's all in my head, what does that mean? And how do I keep the biochemicals on the fun side, rather than the irritable crabby low self-esteem side I usually seem to reside in? I really wanna know. Chocolate does it, but only temporarily, and with some bad side effects (i.e., Fat Ass Syndrome). SSRIs don't seem to have a permanent effect, based on the day-to-day mood fluctuations.

I just wonder how much of who we are is bound up in what kinds and amounts of chemicals and chemical reactions we have going on in our individual brains.

Am I in control of the chemical reactions, or are they in control of me?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Don't Count Your Chickens...

Even the best Mother Hens might end up with cracked eggs once in a while, right? No matter how (over)protective I am, I cannot save my children from, well, the world. From the pain of rejection or ridicule or judgment or teasing or frustration or emotional wounds or whatever. And I know, logically, that not only can't I do that, but I shouldn't. But oh, how I want to. How I want to.

I was walking with a neighbor tonight, a nice woman who is quite friendly but with whom I don't feel I necessarily click, in part because we have had quite different life experiences and I think our interests and intellectual levels also differ (egads, that sounds snooty, but I think it's the truth). However, she is very sweet and I'm getting to know her a little better. Her daughter used to play a lot with my son, but hasn't in probably a year or so - I kind of presumed the daughter felt like she wanted to hang around other girls or even just kids from the public school that she knows. I don't think she has anything against Jeff, but she definitely dropped him. He hasn't seemed to notice (an AS blessing in disguise?), but her mom (this neighbor with whom I was walking) has brought it up a couple of times. Today when I mentioned that sometimes I felt bad that we didn't know more of the neighborhood kids because Jeff goes to private school, she intimated that perhaps that wasn't a bad thing since Jeff has his Problem. I didn't get her meaning, so I said, "What?" She kind of floundered and said something like she didn't want to say he was slow (slow? my son? This actually almost made me laugh. Almost.), but he seemed to have a problem with anger or whatever. Which is true. So I actually explained that that is a common thing among people with Asperger's (she'd never heard of Asperger's). And we kept walking and talking a bit. At one point she again mentioned she felt bad her daughter wasn't playing with Jeff anymore, and I said "Why does it bother you? It doesn't bother me," and she replied, "Because he doesn't have any friends left!" I laughed and replied, "Um, yes he does!" But it stung. Not because it was true, but because the misconceptions she has about my son might just be the tip of the iceberg in terms of what he will face in his life.

I know we all have misconceptions about other people. We all make judgments based on what we see and hear, and sometimes those judgments are wrong. I know I do it. I know I did it about this neighbor in some ways, presuming from the start we wouldn't be friends because we were just too different. Still, it stings to know that Jeff's "differences" are being noticed even by people who don't know him well. So far it hasn't come often in negative forms, but it's still there. And I wish I could protect him, so that nothing could ever hurt him. Luckily, oddly enough, I think the AS *will* protect him in some ways, in that he's often just unaware of what's going on around him and people's reactions to him. But will that last? Should it?

I just want him to know he will always be loved. Fiercely. But will the time come when familial love isn't cool, isn't worth as much as peer acceptance and approval? What happens when mom loves him, but mom isn't cool? Will he make friends? He has two main friends right now, and a few younger friends he likes. Will he be able to maintain those friendships as he enters the middle school years? Will those boys catch on that Jeff is a bit different, that he doesn't always get the back-and-forth give-and-take nature of friendship? Will they start to care about his tics, instead of just basically ignoring them? Will he feel hurt? How will he deal with it?

I don't know. I guess I can't know. And that's what breaks my heart. I don't like not knowing, I don't like not being able to protect and fix and deflect and... These same feelings arise around Eleanor, too. Same feelings, different issues and different realities. I guess this is the nature of being a parent. But this Mother Hen isn't liking it too much. She just wants to gather her eggs and never leave the henhouse.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Fitness Reboot

In January of 2007 I decided I needed to be a better example for my kids as far as exercise went, and started walking at the mall every morning with Ellie (she was in her stroller, of course!). In March of that year I joined the Wellness Center. Over the next year and a half, I got more and more into it - did the LiveFit class, where I experienced my first personal training lessons, kept the trainer after the group was done, did the Wellness Center Biggest Loser challenge and came in 3rd (from lots of exercise, didn't really lose weight)... and then, slowly, I've lost it.

The personal trainer with whom I was working and whom I loved dearly left to take another job. Our summer schedule last year made it harder to get to the gym. This year Eleanor's preschool schedule threw me for a loop. I stopped training with my second trainer (whom I liked) for mostly financial reasons, but also because I could tell I wasn't as into it.

So, slowly, embarrassingly, all that progress has been lost. And the shame of that, coupled with the fact that, in truth, as the preschool teacher said about my daughter, I, too, am "not prone to movement," has kept me from doing much about it. I'd much prefer to sit on my butt and talk for hours than move. Even though I enjoy walking and even weight lifting and yoga and aerobics classes, the inertia (and comfort in motionlessness) that precedes them seems to overpower that. It's frustrating and embarrassing and disappointing to realize I'm pretty much back to the same flabby fitness level I was at before I began it all 3 years ago.

How do I dig myself out of this hole and get the oompfh back? I know, I know - as Nike says, "Just Do It!" And that's what I need to do - commit to it and just do it. It takes 21 days to form a new habit, so I need to commit for that long.

The good news is, the Wellness Center is hosting their Stepping Out Challenge next week - the goal is to get 10,000 steps in every day for 7 days. Ironically, that was my original fitness goal before I even added in training and weights and classes and elliptical machines. I just wanted to move more, and thought the 10,000 steps thing was a good idea. Brett and I are both participating in the Challenge, and I want it to be the kick in the butt I need to get back to the 10,000 step mantra. If I end up adding in the other stuff and get extra fit again, great! If I don't, O.K. - let GO of the guilt about it, Anne! But do move. Move often. Get to those 10,000 steps. It's for my health, but it's also for my kids.

So wish me luck! I'll post my total steps once the challenge is done. And watch out for my husband around town - he won this thing last time and is determined to win it again, so he'll be walking pretty much everywhere.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Can You Hear Me Now?

Some time ago my son Jefferson was downstairs with his friend Sammy, playing Wii - which is quite typical on a weekend around here. What amused me was the following conversation:

Sammy: "Hey Jeff, do you want a cellphone?"
Jeff: *grunts as he focuses on game*
Sammy: "Jeff, don't you wanna cellphone? 'Cause I do, it would be cool!"
Jeff: *grunt*
Sammy: "I want a Blackberry. What kind of phone do you want?"
Jeff: "I want a Blueberry."

Sammy just said "There's no such thing as a Blueberry." Meanwhile, I was upstairs cracking up.

Oh Jeff... phone for you... it's your muffins calling!

Friday, April 9, 2010

A Prisoner In His Own House...

We have two cats. As one of them is particularly vociferous, we have taken to shutting them down in the basement at night (they're happy down there - it's finished, and it's where their food and litter are) so that we can all get some sleep.

I have one husband. He is a night owl. He usually does not go to bed until midnight or later, and spends most of the evenings hours in the basement on his computer. 

I have one son. Evidently he heard the loud cat upstairs last night at some point; she must have woken him up. Because he got up, found her, put her down in the basement, and locked the basement door, as we also always do every night. 

Guess what? Yes, you're right - my son accidentally locked his dad down in the basement. Bwah ha ha! Apparently when Brett tried to come up to go to bed, he couldn't. Imagine my surprise when we opened the door for the cats this morning and who should come trudging up the stairs, too, but a very tired, somewhat aggravated-looking husband. He did sleep in the guest bedroom, so it's not like he was in terrible discomfort, but still...

Once I heard what happened, I couldn't help but laugh. Yes, I felt sorry for him - but it was so darn funny!

That'll teach him to stay up late. And not carry his keys in his pocket. 

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Significantly Insignificant

Every once in a while my mind wanders down this odd path, the one where I try to really comprehend how many people there are, the one where it boggles my mind to realize there are all sorts of people all over the world doing things RIGHT NOW, even as I'm sitting in my living room typing on my laptop. There are people I know personally who are doing stuff, like the neighbors next door (whom I can hear and see, so I know what they're up to), like my mom (who I know is currently in Staunton and probably in her store), my sister (who's probably teaching in Kansas City), my husband (who I think is at his office)... These are people I know and love, who are very important to me - and yet really most of the time I have no clue what they're doing, feeling, thinking, at any given moment... And there are, of course, millions, or, actually, billions of people out there right now living their own lives and doing stuff I'll never know about and never experience... the people living in South Central LA, the people living in the Ukraine, the people living in South Africa... I don't know them. I don't know what their lives are like. And most likely never will. And yet they all exist. Just like Robert Pattinson will never know anything about me (sad, but true) - and yet right now he's out there doing something. And so am I.

Sometimes it amazes me that anyone can ever get along with anyone else; after all, our worlds, our realities are shaped by our experiences, our locations, our abilities, our expectations. What my life as a middle-aged, middle class white woman in non-urban Virginia is like is vastly different than what life is like for a young gang member in New York. At least I presume it is. But it's also different from my friends' lives, even if they are also by and large middle-aged middle class white women living in non-urban Virginia.  And then when I think not only of all the people who are alive and living right now, but of all the people who have come before us (not to mention those still to come), the difference in their lives versus ours today - well, my brain starts to go fuzzy. It's just mind boggling to me, the reality of how many people there are.

Of course with differences, there are similarities, too, I guess. Most of us have feelings in common - most of us can relate to feeling lonely, angry, in love, tired, etc... Is that what binds us? Common feelings, if not common beliefs? Because certainly many of my close friends have beliefs that differ from mine on any number of topics, but I still feel drawn to them. Some of us have similar experiences - being married, having children, etc. That helps bind us to each other, as well. I can relate to experiences people wrote about 200 years ago, even though the societies we each lived in would be so different from each other. I can relate to feelings people talk about, even if the rest of their lives differ greatly from mine.

I'm never quite sure where my mind will end up when it wanders down this path, just as I'm not sure where this blog post is going... I was mostly thinking the other day that in the grand scheme of things, I truly *am* insignificant. I don't mean that in a bad way; I merely mean that my life is one of BILLIONS going on right now, and if you were to look down on all the people from space (or maybe Google Maps), well, I'd pretty much blend in with everyone else. Maybe that's a good reminder for me when my own stuff looms so large, when I start to obsess over Jefferson's tics or Ellie's size or whether or not my husband still likes me. I'm not saying those things aren't important, I'm saying they're not the most important things ever, and that life is much bigger than whatever I, or anyone, happens to be experiencing at that very moment. (Take note, celebrities. Oh wait, you don't know and will never know I exist. Never mind.)

Except that of course regardless of how many people we are sharing space with (on the planet or in the house), we each DO have our own unique life. There may be billions of us, but NONE of us has the same life as anyone else. And that is significant. I don't know what goes on in the minds of my husband or my kids, and they're the people to whom I am the closest. They don't know my innermost thoughts. But for whatever reason, we were given the power to think and feel and believe and experience. So I guess while I need to be reminded sometimes my stuff is not the center of the universe, it's O.K. to say it's significant to me.

There's no neat resolution to this rambling, because I don't know what point I am trying to make, if any. But this idea of how vast and huge the world is has been on my mind more and more lately, so I just wanted to scribble about it to see if I could figure out why. We each are significant and insignificant, at the same time. For me, that's worth thinking about.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Why Are People So Mean?

We are walking out of a lovely Easter service at church today, Ellie is front of me walking with her daddy and holding her Easter candy. Two tweenage girls walk by us heading the other direction, both looking at Ellie and smiling in what I thought was a kind fashion until I heard one say to the other, "She's fat!" in a snide tone of voice. The other girl burst out laughing, and the first one said, "I'm just saying..."

Luckily Ellie didn't hear them. Even if she had, I don't think at age 3 she would have known what they meant or that they were referring to her. Blessings for that. But what is the freaking point of making a comment like that, anyway? Had I been quicker to respond, I might have said something to the girls. As it was, I was just stunned and kept walking. No one else heard them except me. I'm still angry.

I'm angry for all the times I heard that growing up as a child (and never managed to come up with a response, either). I'm angry at the apparent need to tear people down that I witness daily - in children, in some adults, even, I admit, in my own head occasionally. What is the point of that? The only purpose of those words is to hurt someone else. So why say them?

To everyone out there who interacts with young girls, be kind. If you interact with young boys, be kind. If you interact with anyone at all, be kind. If you talk to yourself, be kind. Be kinder than necessary, actually, for everyone you meet is fighting some sort of battle. Some are just more visible than others.

And Ellie, if I can do one thing for you in your life, it will be to teach you you are valuable and loved, and not to let comments like that get you down. Now if only I could teach that to myself.

Friday, April 2, 2010

A Spring Day in Staunton

I took the kids to Staunton yesterday, to Pufferbellies Toys, Cranberry's Grocery and Eatery, and to Gypsy Hill Park. I was trying to do something special with them since Jefferson is on Spring Break - and of course I wanted something to make the day go faster.

See, that's my constant struggle. I love my kids, but I don't always love the day-to-day minutiae. I'm a stay-at-home mom and can't imagine it any other way, but often crave time to myself to do my own projects, or just escape. I enjoy my children but don't always like playing with them. Sometimes it sets off a huge amount of guilt; other times I feel like my job is to be parent, not to be friend, and that includes not being a 24/7 Entertainment Center.

Still, often I wonder if I push them off too much. And if I wonder, I think I probably know the answer. When I get to wondering, I usually have to take a step back and realize that yes, I have been spending too much time on the computer; yes, I have been letting them zone out on screen time too much; yes, I have been too unwilling to do this, that, or the other with them. I find it hard to find the proper balance. I don't even know what the proper balance is. I often wish this parenting thing weren't so darn hard - that I could be absolutely O.K. with my parenting style, whether it was that of absolute dictator or lackadaisical hippie. I'm not.

But when I start obsessing about this, I remind myself of something my pediatrician told me once: "The parents who worry most about their parenting are usually those who don't need to."  And the kids sure seemed to have fun yesterday. They even thanked me - without prompting.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Ah, Young Love...

... overheard a few weeks ago at Kit's house while Ellie was playing with her good friend, Jack:

Jack: "Ellie, I'm going to kiss you!"
*brief silence*
Jack: "I love you, Ellie!"
Ellie: "I wuv you, too, Jack!"

Of course if we heard that 10 years from now, it might be a problem. But I think it's so darn cute. And wanted to record it here so that I don't forget it. (Photo is from Halloween 2009 - Pirate Jack and Snow White Ellie)