25 February 2011

Just do it

I have been seriously absent from writing new posts lately.  For the last several months, in fact.  Not that I haven't had reasons, other demands on my time.  And a sneaking suspicion that maybe my ramblings are only interesting to me, but I don't really want to think about that right now.

So, I have decided, right now, tonight, to just do it.  Just write something.

One of the major reasons that I have been so lax on blogging is the fact that I am in an all-out sprint to the finish line of my undergraduate degree.  Today ended the eighth week in a ten-week quarter.  I have two weeks of classes, then finals, and then.....nothing.  Till graduation in June.  Nothing.  Well, nothing but big decisions to make about what I am going to do next.

In an act of blind faith, I recently bought study guides for the GRE (grad school test) and the LSAT (law school test).  I say "blind faith," because that's the kind of faith that I have, that I will know what to do, when the time comes.  I've gotten quite comfortable up here on the fence, and the view on the grad school side looks a lot like the view on the law school side.  A lot more school, more papers, and ideally, something at the end of the road to show for my hard work. 

But I also have this new option to consider, that I hadn't really thought about until very recently.  Maybe I won't go back to school at all.  Maybe I'll continue doing what I'm doing right now: working part time for my Reserve unit, writing history.  And I'll be an active engaged mom, instead of the frazzled, always-running-late-for-school-pickup mess that I have become.  I am eternally grateful to have a supportive spouse in Captain America, who picks up way more than his fair share of my slack.  When he's home.  He does laundry, he drops off and picks up and chats with the moms at least as well (probably better than!) as I do.  He does dishes, and he manages the busy social lives and practice schedules of Moe, Larry and Curly.  And boy, am I ever grateful.

But last weekend, I had a little moment where I questioned myself, an epiphany of sorts.  When the boys come looking for me (which happens less and less often these days), they come to the computer first.  Mostly, they look for dad.  But if he's not home, they have no choice.  And it bums me out immensely that they have internalized that I'm generally too busy working on schoolwork to deal with their requests for snacks or their arguments, or just to help with their vocabulary homework (if it's math and dad's not home, they're really out of luck). 

I get that it's important for me to do something that means something to me, whether it's work, or school, or a hobby; a pursuit that feeds my soul, and fulfills me in some way.  I have said 'yes' to many of these things:  I work part-time, I write freelance, I volunteer frequently at the dudes' school, I teach preschool PSR (parish school of religion), I go to school myself, I am part of a mother's prayer group, I have joined a book club, I help coordinate and put on Vacation Bible School in the summer.  And I have a family that needs me to be present, and friends I want to spend time with...you see where I'm going with this.

It's a familiar refrain...learning to say 'no.'  We women are helpers and nurturers by nature, and it's difficult to say 'no' to someone who is asking for help.  I think maybe it's more of an issue of learning to say 'yes' to the right things, and concentrating on giving your best to those.  So what is it that truly feeds my soul?  Where can I channel my efforts so that I can feel like they matter and they make a difference? 

I'm a Libra; I can see both sides of any issue and am hopelessly wishy-washy.  Hmm, maybe this law school thing isn't the best idea for me....  In any case, making a decision is often really hard for me, especially when it affects everyone else around me too.  Going back to school again involves time given up with my family, and saying 'no' to some things that would make me happy.

I need to make decisions, but I'm afraid to, afraid that I'm choosing the wrong thing, or that my choice will make someone else mad, or that I'll regret the choice I make.  But fear is no justification for a decision, and if I pursue something that ultimately fulfills me and makes me happy, then I'm a better person, and better mother for it.

Just do it.

21 February 2011

Exploiting My Baby

is a funny book by Teresa Strasser, that I recently read, thanks to my friends at From Left to Write. 

I'll be honest....at first, I wasn't crazy about this book.  I thought it looked like a Jenny-McCarthy-Belly-Laughs-esque funny look at the hormonal train wreck that pregnancy often is...the irrational fears that keep you up at night, the breathless hope of what is yet to come, the consuming impatience to meet your baby, and the abject terror of BEING SOMEONE'S MOM. 

When I opened it up, I found something a little different....Teresa is blunt and in-your-face.  She's snarky and she makes fun of you, right to your face. She uses salty language and there are a LOT of people in this world she wants to punch in the face.  I may be one of them, in fact, having mostly enjoyed my pregnancies, but I digress.

But Teresa is also real.  I understand where she's coming from, a lot of the time.  The fears that she will turn into her own kid-hating mother are very real, and I get it.  When you come from dysfunction and your memories of childhood don't make you smile, impending motherhood is maybe a little scarier for you than for someone who had good role models and a living, breathing example of a functioning family unit.  Some girls had moms who stayed home to raise them, taught them to cook and bake, led their Girl Scout troops, and proudly took an embarrassing amount of homecoming and prom pictures.  Some girls had moms who worked and taught them how to set goals and then work hard to reach them, how to prioritize what's important, how to balance different aspects of their lives, and how to make things happen.  Some girls had moms who juggled all of these things and more. 

And then some of us had moms who just weren't there, literally or figuratively.  And that's the hardest of all, learning to be a mom when you want to be completely and totally different from the one you had. 

I give Teresa credit for having the guts to put herself out there and tell her story.  I have to give her credit for being scared and doing it anyway (not that she doesn't get hung up along the way, mind you). While her near-constant paranoia and plentiful ragging on other moms whose methods or manners she doesn't like sometimes get old, I was happy for her toward the end of the book when she begins to make peace with her mom. 

About all those pronouncements, though.  I am reminded of the ancient piece of wisdom about karma:  it's a bitch. 

She kind of turns into the mom that she spent her whole book making fun of.  She chases the dragon, trying to make that baby smile.  She goes for a day or two (or three) without showers. She packs her schedule with Mommy & Me classes.   She buys every toy, swing and Baby Mozart DVD that Toys R Us can hold and she not only has whole conversations about baby poop, SHE TAKES PICTURES OF IT. 

I love it. 

It happens to all of us, Teresa....you're in good company.  We were all scared first-time moms too, and we all thought we were going to do it better too. 

I liked the book, in spite of my initial reaction.  I'm glad I kept going because, although I still don't think you need to use the F word a lot to talk about wanting, carrying, birthing, loving or exploiting a baby and I don't really advocate violence so I don't see a need to punch people in the face, Teresa's book made me laugh.  It made me think about how I relate to other moms.  It made me grateful for my group of mom friends that I lean on, and it made me kind of wish I could bump into Teresa at the mall.

Then again, I don't know.  I don't want to get punched in the face.