Tuesday, August 31, 2010



uncertainty or fluctuation, esp. when caused by the inability to make a choice or by a simultaneous desire to say or do two opposite or conflicting things.
Psychology the coexistence within an individual of positive and negative feelings toward the same person, object, or action, simultaneously drawing him or her in opposite directions.

This is me. Annebivalent. There are so many things about which I either can't make a choice, or waffle between two choices. For example:

Job - what am I going to be when I grow up? What am I going to do when Ellie is in school full-time? Should I go back to work? Full-time? Part-time? What should I do? What am I even still qualified and capable of doing after being a stay-at-home mom for 10 years? Should I work from home? What could I find which would allow that? Should I work at the kids' school? Would they have a position for me there? Or should I stay at home? Lord knows there's plenty of work to do here in terms of cleaning and food prep. And I've heard older kids often need their parents at home even more than the younger ones. If I don't go back to work I would always be available to help at school, to be home when the kids are sick, to provide carpool whenever necessary. I wouldn't have to worry about other people's schedules or how my work schedule fits in with anything. We'd also be broke. I just don't see how we can send two kids to private school without me bringing in money somehow. 

Which is why Brett wants me to write. Well, no, actually, I don't think that's entirely why he's encouraging me to do so. He fantasizes about me writing a bestselling novel and making lots of money, but really I think he wants me to write because he thinks it would make me happy. And in truth, if I could do anything, I *would* write. I have several ideas for books, an idea for my romance series, an idea for a children's story line. But then you know what? I wonder if it would be fair for me to be at home writing when the odds are my writing would never go anywhere. I don't actually know how hard it is to get something published. Well, published AND successful. But even more than the guilt (not only would I not be earning any money if I choose to write, but a lot of those cleaning projects and other stay-at-home tasks would continue to be neglected) is the fear and doubt: no matter how excited I get about any of my ideas, the devil in my head, that devil of self-doubt, rises up and challenges me. Every stinking time. I convince myself I can't do it before I even start. How could I possibly write a story as well as a "real" author? I read books and think there's no way I'm observant enough to get all the details right, or to know what to include. I did not pursue an English degree, much less creative writing in school, so how dare I assume I can become a novelist? I find reasons that I wouldn't do it well enough, so why even try? 

This self-doubt drives me nuts. And it seems to underlie everything I do - or don't do. How do I fix it? How do I challenge it? How do I STOP letting it STOP me? I don't know. I guess I need to take a clue from Nike and "Just Do It!"

Of course if I ended up playing on Facebook all day instead of actually writing, well, that would be a problem. But I digress...

Food/Weight/Body - My size has always been a source of ambivalence to me, in terms of how I feel about it and myself, my self-confidence level, etc. Having disordered eating, food/body/weight have always been central to my thinking. O.K. But lately I've been really ambivalent. Part of me wants to go all out and really try to drop some poundage before I turn 40. You know, get back to my wedding weight, or maybe even lower! Part of me feels like, "Eh, the beautiful years are behind you, and no matter how much weight you may or may not lose, you won't get back your looks or non-flabby body parts, so why bother?" This voice has been the loudest lately. The one screaming, "You're already fat, let's have ice cream!" I'm trying to challenge it by getting back to the gym more, but that devil, that devil is big. I have so much junk in my head when it comes to food and dieting and weight that I paralyze myself over it all the time - I have the diet parts, the Weight Watchers ideas, the SouthBeach or SparkPeople or Atkins or grapefruit plans, all fighting against the "diets don't work" mentality I learned in OA and from common sense. It's war! I have the part of me that is concerned about  my health at war with the part of me who figures it's hard to fix what's already broken and besides, we're all being poisoned by our toxic ways now anyway, so why not go out gorging? So I have borderline blood pressure and high cholesterol and have been worried about (but have no signs of) diabetes for a while now - there's nothing *really* wrong with me, right? And I see people fatter than I am who are much older than I am, so surely I won't die tomorrow if I eat the cheesecake today? 

It's so frustrating, this Stinkin' Thinkin'. Two years ago I was all gung-ho at the gym and really enjoying the working out and the physical progress I was making, even though my weight wasn't changing. Today I'm all kinds of "bleah." I'm trying to just do the next right thing and keep moving, even if I don't want to, because I know feelings are not facts. But just doing the next right thing hasn't happened with food yet. I feel rebellious again in that area - but I'm not quite sure against whom I'm rebelling. One of my favorite OA lines is, "You can't think yourself into a new way of acting; you have to act yourself into a new way of thinking." In other words, "Just Do It." Hrm, there's that idea again. 

But how can you Just Do It, when you don't know what the right thing to do IS? 

Parenting: I feel that way about my parenting right now. I simply don't know what the right thing is. I feel as if I'm not the mom I want to or should be, but I'm not quite sure what the want/should ideal is. I feel as if I'm not doing well with my son, who's showing increasing snottiness and negative attitudes and behaviors. And instead of being able to respond calmly and in a proactive way, I find myself exploding in a very very reactive way. I don't know what the best thing to do is. I don't know the best way to discipline. What kinds of consequences should there be for mouthiness? Should I be focusing more on a positive discipline / reward system? Even if it feels to me like one shouldn't be rewarded for choosing proper behavior? Should I make consequences harsher, or more lenient? 

Many mornings I wake up dreading the day, wondering what kind of fits he's going to throw this time, and how am I going to handle it? I so want to learn to not let other people's emotions influence mine, but I'm definitely not there yet, so if I'm faced with a whiny, complainy, negative son, I usually end up feeling whiny, complainy, and negative myself. 

Annebivalence. Annexiety. Why is it my two devils lend themselves so well to including my name in them? 

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Some of the things my 4 year old daughter says just crack me up. I need to record more of them, as my silly brain forgets these verbal delights almost as soon as they happen. Here are two I remember from the past week:

Yesterday I noted on Facebook that she doesn't pronounce her r's very fully, which sometimes leads to interesting misunderstandings. That morning, for example, I heard her say, "Don't cwoss that bitch!" I was thinking, she's got that right, I'm not one to mess with, when I realized she meant "bridge." Glad to know her vocabulary has not yet expanded where I'm not ready for it to go.

A few days before that, I mentioned I had had a very bad dream in which daddy decided he didn't want to be married to me anymore. Ellie thought about this for a while and then said, "So he didn't live in the same house wid you?" I said, "Nope." She thought some more and sadly said, "So he didn't kissth you?" The girl has the essence of marriage down already, doesn't she? 

Friday, August 20, 2010


One of Ellie's favorite slides
My daughter is fearless. FEARLESS.

We went to Massanutten Water Park this week to celebrate the end of summer. Daddy and Jeff had been before, but this was the first time we thought Ellie was old enough to go.

Ellie is four. She is also quite tall. So tall, in fact, that it turned out she easily cleared the 42" height requirement for all the equipment there, and was allowed to do pretty much any water activity she wanted.

The girl announced the minute we got inside the Water Park she wanted to do all the big slides - and she did. By herself. Even though she'd never been there before and hadn't, as far as I know, ever done a water slide before. I was amazed.

At one point she tried to cross the Lily Pads in the outside pool - large foam "pads" that are tethered to the bottom of the pool but do float around some. People try to cross them by holding on to the net that hangs above the pads. Ellie couldn't reach the net, so her dad stood next to the pads to help her if needed. At one point she fell over and got upset, but she kept going, determined to get to the other side.

At lunch, I mentioned to her how proud I was of her for going on so many things, and how I couldn't believe she wasn't even nervous. "I was nerfous on da frog pads," she said. "Yes," I replied, "but you kept going."

Guess which thing she chose as the favorite last thing to do before we called it a day? The frog lily pads. The ones that had made her nervous and even made her cry. And here she was, willing to do it again. Wanting to do it again.

I can learn a thing or two from my daughter: It's O.K. to throw yourself into something new, even if you're not quite sure of the outcome. It's O.K. to fall down. Just get back up. It's O.K. to be scared, just keep going and trust someone will help you. And most of all, it's O.K. to have fun! Lots of fun!

Lord, may she always have such spunk and gumption. Used wisely, of course. But go, Ellie, go!

Saturday, August 14, 2010


My aunt posted this quote on Facebook yesterday (although she doesn't remember who said it):

"Maturity: to be able to stick with a job until it's finished; to do one's duty without being supervised; to be able to carry money without spending it; and to be able to bear an injustice without wanting to get even."

I love it. In part because it's something I find myself still struggling toward, especially the part about money. And in part because I see my kids now facing this challenge: to move past the focus only on self, only on pleasure, only on their wants, and hopefully emerge on the other side as people who are hard workers, who want to do their best because it's the right thing to do and they honestly want to, who deal with money and finances and temptation far better than I do - and who aren't willing to be mistreated, but believe more in the power of Love and Example than the Eye for an Eye axiom.

Most days we're nowhere near that. I don't really expect it in the four year old, but I am starting to expect it in the nine year old, and often am feeling frustrated and embarrassed by what seem to me to be inexcusable behaviors for a child this age. Maybe I'm wrong. I don't really have a lot of experience with nine year old kids on a regular basis. But it feels to me if I'm doing a decent job at mothering that my son should be starting to show glimpses of these traits. I don't really see them yet. Will they come? Lord, I hope so. I do believe he is more immature than some other kids this age, just watching his peer-to-peer interactions, as well as those with younger kids. And I know they say this is true of Asperger kids: they are often quite bright and intellectually advanced, but socially delayed. I'm still not 100% sure he has Asperger's (that's a topic for a different day). But I am 100% sure that on any given day, I will find myself exasperated by his shoddy treatment of his sister, his apparent lack of work ethic and willingness to make a mess anywhere, his desire to spend every cent he might have, and definitely most of all, his sense that he must Get Even With and Teach A Lesson To whatever person or thing that (he believes) has wronged him.

Seriously, this Eye for an Eye, or really Eye for Your Whole Darn Head mentality is driving me nuts. I have talked with him at length about the Golden Rule, about treating others as you want to be treated (not necessarily as they are treating you), about reaping what you sow, about how two wrongs don't make a right. And yet at any perceived slight, he's practically ready to kill. Bonked his head on the cabinet? Obviously it was the cabinet's fault (as in, he really believes the cabinet moved to get him). And he must hit it back. Little sister bump into him while walking out of the gym? Clearly this must be dealt with by yelling at her and kicking toward her. Losing at a video game? Naturally the game won't let him win, and he will yell that while banging and complaining. It goes on and on and on. And so do my attempts to bring him back to reality, to teach all the lovely behaviors mentioned above. Sometimes I manage to do this in a calm voice. Sometimes, I admit, I do not.

I guess if nine year olds were meant to have mastered all of these behaviors, however, they wouldn't be considered only halfway to adulthood. If he were preternaturally mature in these ways, I wonder if it would freak me out. I don't know. What I do know is, a sign of my own maturing as a mom will be when I can remember, amidst the frustration and anger, to give him grace. And to give it to myself, also.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Variation on the Word Sleep

One of my favorite poems, by Margaret Atwood:

I would like to watch you sleeping,
which may not happen.
I would like to watch you,
sleeping. I would like to sleep
with you, to enter
your sleep as its smooth dark wave
slides over my head
and walk with you through that lucent
wavering forest of bluegreen leaves
with its watery sun & three moons
towards the cave where you must descend,
towards your worst fear
I would like to give you the silver
branch, the small white flower, the one
word that will protect you
from the grief at the center
of your dream, from the grief
at the center I would like to follow
you up the long stairway
again & become
the boat that would row you back
carefully, a flame
in two cupped hands
to where your body lies
beside me, and as you enter
it as easily as breathing in
I would like to be the air
that inhabits you for a moment
only. I would like to be that unnoticed
& that necessary.
My step-dad read this poem at our wedding. I still love it. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Challenge of Change

I like to tease my husband because he freely admits that he hates change. A lot. And I've always blithely thought I was pretty good with change, thank you very much. Although I'm starting to admit that the truth is, I'm not. I'm not sure why I have found this surprising, or why I don't like it. Is it inherently bad not to like change? It feels like it is, like it's yet another character defect to battle.

See, I need to change. I need to change, permanently, my eating habits and my exercise habits, both for the sake of my health and for the sake of my kids. I talk about changing a lot. I plan on changing a lot. I VOW to change a lot. And then I just... don't. And I have to admit much of that is because at least 75% of the time, I like loafing around and eating large amounts of not-so-good for you food. No, probably 100% of the time I like it - I just don't like the results it brings. But when the majority of me not only feels comfortable but actually prefers a food-laden sedentary lifestyle, the motivation to change just isn't there. Or it's there for 5 minutes, or a few hours, or even a few days. And then I get hungry. Or maybe just cravy. And it's all out the window.  I'll think I *want* to regain the fitness level I had a few years ago (not that I was thin or superfit - I wasn't. But I was in far better shape and worked out a lot more and a lot HARDER than I am now); then I'll realize I'm tired or my knees hurt or whatever other reason I come up with not to go to the gym, or not to work as hard when I'm there. Sometimes I kind of think I want to drop some pounds for aesthetic reasons, then I kind of shrug and say, "Well, I've been this fat for this long, it's not only unlikely I'll lose lots of weight and get thin, but even if I did, now that I'm older, everything will just sag that much more."

These are the mind battles I fight every day. Because see, today I woke up resolute - I was going to eat well, get those fruits and veggies in, go to the gym... and this is what happened: I considered making a fruit smoothie with protein powder, which sounded good, but ended up mixing oatmeal with water b/c it was faster and I needed to get Ellie out the door. So I missed out on the fruits I could have had and ate something I didn't really want. After dropping Ellie off at her class, I nearly talked myself out of going to the gym. Seriously. However, I actually went - yay me! Once there I was discouraged to realize how tired I was and how I couldn't walk nearly as fast as I had two years ago. Plus after 10 minutes I was tired. I plugged along for 25 minutes, but really, it felt kind of pathetic. However, I did it, and said to myself I'm starting small, this is O.K. Once back in the car, I realized I was very hungry. I went to Costco (didn't buy any junk), and by the time I was done there, I was VERY hungry, but had to go pick up Ellie soon. Not enough time to go home. So I went to Sheetz and got 2 egg/cheese biscuits, telling myself at least it wasn't from a drive-thru, and it wasn't sweets (Not only am I the Queen of Denial, but apparently I am also the Queen of Rationalization). Then I picked up Ellie and she was hungry for lunch and wanted McDonald's. I vetoed that, but we did go to the bagel place and I had a turkey/cheese/lettuce bagel, not long after the two sandwiches. Even though I really wasn't hungry.

So now I'm overfull, unhappy that I went to Sheetz because it's too close to fast food (although in the moment I certainly didn't care!), wishing I had more energy and had walked more, and bemoaning again that I feel so tired all the time and have a bad headache. Both of which are probably related to my sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy food habits. Guess we're back to square one. But I guarantee you, in an hour or a day or a week, I won't care and will just want to sit on the couch and eat chocolate. Dang, change is hard. And I don't like it.