Same job, different uniform.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

That's Mrs. Elphaba To You

Another surrender occurred. I am letting myself embrace that fact that I do so much better when I am working outside of the home. I want to be one of those moms who loves being at home with her kids but I'm not her. I need the structure of work. I crave professional stimulation and the camaraderie of my colleagues.
I don't like viewing my staying home with my kids as a sacrifice. I want to want to be there. I used to judge women who worked because I thought it was best for the mom (or one of the parents) to stay home with the children. I see things differently now. Just like I used to judge people who got divorced before one of my family member went through one. Things are not as cut and dry as I would like them to be.
My name is Elphaba and I am a working mom. I'm not going to feel guilty about it. (Well, at least I will try not to feel guilt - apparently I have boat loads of it. I went to Cost Co and stocked up on it.)
I know this is who am.
I had an interview for a teaching job on Monday and was hired!! I am now the newest member of the fourth grade team at the school where I most recently taught before staying home!
I am very excited!
I know that I am going to miss some of the cute things that my kids will do while they are not in my care, but I also know that I am going to be a lot happier when I am around them and they will get to spend more time with pleasant mommy and not frustrated mommy, or "in a minute mommy", or lock herself in the bathroom mommy.
Please don't judge me.

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"But This Becoming Is Harder Than It Seems"

Thank you, Michael Dubya for writing cheesy youth group songs that capture our longings as young people...and as adults, it seems.
This past year has been one of a lot of mixed emotions. It started with the end of my school year and teacher status and began with the birth of my son. Although I absolutely love the baby stage and many aspects of staying home full time with my children, there are numerous things that really frustrate me. Like the fact that I had written the first three sentences of this post and been interrupted by my 4 year old, Audrey, 6 times. "Can you play toy store with me? (which I did) Who is singing this song? Is that him? (pointing to the album cover of Go West Young Man) Can I have a snack? Can I have another snack?" And then she decided to engage in a very loud riling-the-dog-up session in the hallway right next to the open door where my 14 month old is sleeping.
I get very upset with her even though she is not doing anything wrong and then mad at myself for getting irritated. It is a viscous, viscous cycle of frustration and guilt.
On top of that there have been some unresolved life decisions going on. I do not do well with loose ends. "That's like saying Monica, you like things clean."
The effect has been a bunch of questions about what I want to be, who I want to be, some depression going on, taking things out on my hubby and children and definitely a gaggle of good things mixed in there.
Like any difficult time there is growth. Damned growing pains. Why must there be darkness before the day? I guess those people in the Arctic Circle might have a thing or two to say about perpetual day time. At any rate, I know that I finally have some spiritual momentum in my life. I've let myself be surrendered to the Holy Spirit's transforming power - allowing scripture, prayer and other positive things influence me instead of going with the flow. It may sound cliched, but it is all true for me and I can't think of another way to say it.
Finally, in the words of another cheesy youth group song writer: (at least back in the day)

"I always look to You when trouble calls my name;
But if I'm gonna say, "I love You",
I've gotta be faithful too .
The true test of my love will be
Did I follow you consistently,
Through the good and bad;
I want to be faithful too."

Thank you Jesus. Thank you SCC. And thank you to everyone who puts up with me in the middle of the "night."

P.S. I you haven't figured out the MWS song here is another clue: "Feels like I'm looking for a reason. Roaming through"

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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Welcome to the Prairie, Bitch

Okay I apologize for being vulgar. For the handful of people that get that joke, I thought it would be worth it. For the rest of you, I submit this post as my defense.

I've lived in South Dakota for a year and a half now. I'd always viewed the Dakotas as nothing but acres of wilderness, a vastness all but untouched by modernity.

It's not that forbidding. But it's still wild. It's so wild!

Those that aren't farmers and ranchers still enter into the wildness by traipsing through knee-high prairie grass and bogs to bring down a Blue-Winged Teal or sit through a freezing rain for a shot at a buck. Fun is driving around looking at public land or bird-watching at Sand Lake.

Aside from these rather atypical lifestyle choices, we still get our lattes and grocery shop and go to movies like the rest of America.

But to remind you that she's still wild and you can't tame her, South Dakota will wring the moisture out of your corn field, suck you dry, then beat you down with wind and rain. The mosquitoes swarm. The heat oppresses and she makes you forget you were so cold your eyelashes froze. Then they freeze and she hardens everything around you until you despair of flowers and rhubarb.

Other times she just gives you a playful pinch.

It happened to me today in the shower. When I pulled a tick out of my hair.

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Monday, July 14, 2008

When I'm 83....

I hope I'm still climbing mountains. I just returned from basically a month of traveling. I went to Seattle for 5 days last week with some girlfriends and one of the days we climbed Mt. Index, which I believe is called the Lake Serene trail.
About two miles into the trail you can keep going or take a 1/2 mile "detour" to see Bridal Veil Falls. (Which was AMAZING, by the way.) An elderly woman was making her way down the trail as we were going up. She was precariously trying to negotiate the the uneven, rocky, steep trail. We made a little small talk and came to find out it was her 83rd birthday and her husband, who was 92, was hiking all the way to the top of the mountain. WHAT??? I mean, we were all amazed! Our initial reaction was to be a bit peeved at the husband for celebrating her birthday in this manner. Happy Day!! Have fun putting your life at risk! I think I'll leave you to the slippery rocks, while I traverse the rest of this difficult trail and put my life (the person you love most) at risk too.
But, I think after 60 years of marriage you don't care about those things as much. She was a trooper. She was very slow, but she gotter done. Once we passed her on our way down we kept notifying people on the way up, to keep an eye on her.
We passed her husband on our way up and down. Fortunately, we were arriving at the base of the trail just as he was and his wife, who had made it down the mountain a lot sooner than he, came up the trail as quickly as an 83 year old can and they embraced quite vigorously. You could see on her face a mixture of relief and pride. He looked happy but mainly totally exhausted. They walked hand in hand the rest of the way and after I wiped the tears from my eyes I asked if I could take their picture. They obliged, but were sort of self deprecating about it.
I'll say it again. I hope I'm still climbing mountains when I'm 83 AND that I can do it with my husband of 60 years.
It really impresses me when octogenarians are still taking life by the horns and not giving in to atrophy. Please let that be me.
Congratulations, you two lovely hikers, wherever you are.

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Saturday, July 12, 2008

What Molly Taught Me

Two days ago Molly McGee blogged a little post about my son who turned 5 on July 10. She held back much sentiment on him I know. I'm not saying this as a bragging mother, I'm just saying it because it's true since she was practically his mother herself for the first year of his life. As a matter of fact, I am a bit embarrassed to admit that she, a then-19 year old, taught me, a then-34 year old (yes, yes - you are reading that right - I'm 15 years older than my husband's baby sister) a few things about how to love a child. I would not have thought it was something you needed to be taught, but in fact - I might as well just say it to any of you new or almost new mothers out there - sometimes it bloody well is something that you have to be taught.

I gave birth to Wyatt and was overjoyed to have him in my life, but for some reason I did not realize that babies, well, they like to be held . . . alot. And Wyatt wanted to be held. So I held him and tried to put him down, and he cried. I fed him and tried to put him down and he cried. I changed him and held him and tried to put him down and he cried. I spent a lot of time trying to put him down, exhausting both of us, when maybe I should have just held him. (It sort of reminds of what you get told about trying to go to sleep - the more you try the less sleep you get and the more tired you are in the morning. Getting up and reading a book for awhile is less tiresome than trying to sleep when you can't.) And it wasn't like he was hard to comfort - he wasn't. He just wanted to be in my arms. Fancy THAT when you've been ripped out (had a c-section) of this soft, warm (well, HOT really), dark, safe and tiny environment and thrust into this wide-open, scarey, bright, chilly (think air conditioning because it's the middle of summer in Austin, Texas), and frankly sort of hard-edge place.

When Wyatt was 5 months old, I went back to work. Molly McGee babysat Wyatt while I was at work. I am ashamed at how much I liked running off to work on those mornings. I did like coming home to him, but I was not too put out to be away the hours I was gone.

Meanwhile, Wyatt was at home, safely ensconced in Molly's arms. Because SHE did hold him. All the time. When he cried and when he didn't, when he was asleep and when he wasn't. I know there were days when she wanted to put him down because sometimes you just need a break. And she is grounded enough to go ahead and do it when the need arises. But, like her mother before her, sitting and a holding a baby was mostly just fine with her.

I think probably that Wyatt bonded with his aunt sooner and harder than he did with his own mother. For a long time he was not comforted easily by me unless he wanted to nurse (THAT I could do for him!). My mother in law graciously suggested that he probably was fussy when I held him because I was his food source and he wanted to be eating when I held him. It was nice of her to say so and make a new mother feel not so bad about herself, but I think I can admit now that he knew that his auntie was being a better mommy to him than his mommy.

I am still sad that I did not take those precious moments with Wyatt and I hope that with each passing year I make it up to him in other ways because God knows he's a precious soul who deserved every bit of holding and snuggling that I did not give to him. However, I can happily report that I DID learn from Molly McGee (did I tell you she's 15 years younger than me!) and when I had my second child, I held him . . . all the time. My husband and I used to practically race to his bassinet when he woke up to see who could hold him first. I held him in the morning, in the afternoon and at night. I held him when he cried, I held him when he didn't. Frankly, sometimes, when he was itty bitty I was almost loath to put him down. He slept on my belly at night, in a sling during the day while I did dishes, on my shoulder when I shopped.

I know that Wyatt loves me. But it is rarely me that he seeks out first thing in the morning or with whom he wants to have a long conversation. Sometimes I really try to sit down and chat with him and often he 's just distracted or uninterested. It will be okay. I love him to the moon and back and I try every day to be a good mom - failing often, hopefully suceeding more. But I pay for my lack of early attention in little ways and maybe I always will. If I had it to do over, I'd do it differently. My younger son, James, can hardly get enough of me and it is through that lense that I see what I missed with Wyatt all those times that I handed him off or put him down when he just wanted to be snugged up against his warm, safe mother.

But enough of the pity talk. "Thank you, Molly!" for teaching me, whether you knew it or not, how to be a better mother. I still learn from you regularly as you talk to my boys, play with them, listen to them and love on them.

I get a pain when I think how miserable it was for you when we moved away with your "almost son" on July 13, 2004. And I'm so sorry I didn't get it at the time. I think it took moving away and getting to really know my boy, to understand what you already knew - about what a precious gift from God he is and what real mothering is. That it wasn't dressing him, or buying the cute clothes or taking the photos every three months the first year. That it wasn't the birth announcements or the Christmas cards with the precious little outfit. It wasn't making sure he had the "it" toy of the moment that would ensure proper brain development so he can go on scholarship to the college of his choosing. It wasn't wiping his face all the time or keeping his artfully appointed nursery properly in order. You didn't do any of those things and he didn't care.

Thank you, thank you for showing me that.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Earp Boy turned five today.

Much to the chagrin of Elphaba's girl. She has three months to go.

I'd say a lot of heartfelt, cheesy sentiments about how he opened my heart in a way that I never knew was possible. Or about how he taught me how to be an aunt. Or about how the memories of rocking him to sleep all those days during the first year of his life are some of my warmest ever.

I'd say all that. Except it would just embarrass him.

I love you, not-so-little man!

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Monday, July 07, 2008

Wit and/or Wisdom from the Under 5 Sector

Wyatt on death (8:30 am, Monday, July 7, 2008):

"Mom, dead trees are not like dead people. Dead people just fall over. But dead trees do not right then. But later they do because the weight of them is not very strong."

Wyatt on the phrase "Jiminy Christmas!" (As in "Jiminy Christmas, Wyatt! Would you get down off that window ledge!") (2:00pm, Monday, July 7, 2008):

"Mommy, why don't you just say 'Jiminy Halloween!'?"

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Saturday, July 05, 2008

Just as it Should Be

I love Independence Day. It's the apex of summer. All the flags are out, and so are the people and they are generally friendly; the air smells like hamburgers on the grill and fire works. It's almost magical.

Yesterday we had one of those rare holidays where everything was sunny and easy and lovely. I wasted most of the morning, then made a salad for a BBQ. We walked to our friends house, I in my new summer dress, and spent a couple hours eating and catching up.

I went home and collected the croquet set and we had a rousing game. (I came in third behind the two men who were playing.)

Fireworks are a must-have for me, so a few of us piled into the car and drove out to the nearest vendor. (In Boise there's one on every corner; you have to HUNT to find them around here.) I chose all the sentimental favorites: worms, smoke bombs, snappers, flowers, sparklers.

We started a fire and had s'mores while we swatted away the mosquitoes. After we set off our small stockpile of fire crackers, we drove out to the country and Curt set off the Big Ones. We oohed and ahhed, and I breathed it all in and wondered, How long will this unfettered peace, this almost boundless freedom last?

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Thursday, July 03, 2008

Shocked in the Produce Section of Costco

Dear 70-ish Woman at Costco This Morning:

You look great! Clearly you work out. You were glistening with sweat and your hair looked damp beneath your visor this morning as you perused the produce at Costco. Perhaps you had just come from a tennis match? I'm guessing some sport with alot of arm action since your arms looked tanned and well toned.

Speaking of arms: cute little sleeveless top you had on. Very sporty! And it perfectly matched you skirt (or was it a skort?). They must have come as a set. And it showed your legs off nicely. I could tell that it was no illusion that you work hard at keeping fit, because I could see almost ALL of your legs. Yup! Nearly right on up to that mysterious part of womanhood that, well, some of us, like to be a little bit more mysterious about.

And since we are on the topic of the skirt, I might as well point out that it was a bit tight. Though I could tell you work out, and you WERE sweaty this morning, I confess that the more I think about it the more curious I am about what sport exactly you were playing this morning since I'm pretty sure you would not have been able to move quickly in that garment. Unless, of course, the length of it enabled you to accomplish movement since it was in fact cut almost above the thigh - you know, like a swimsuit . . . . or underwear.

Now, don't get me wrong. You look great. But still - you are about 70. And while there is nothing that says you shouldn't be sexy, sensual, attractive and fit at that age - some things, like breasts, bottoms and skin, still fall no matter what you do, short of surgery.

I applaud you for not having surgery. But, in the future, it might be helpful to keep in mind that less is not always more.

Somewhat astonished customer, also perusing produce at Costco this morning, but wearing age appropriate clothing that covered her twice c-sectioned belly and left a little the imagination.

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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

If you like sports and breastfeeding...'ll appreciate this blog. Finally Superman has flown into the blogosphere!

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