The Revisit

It’s been a long time since I’ve written.

A really long time.

So long, in fact, that I couldn’t remember my login info for a while and it took me about 10 tries to finally get into this thing.

It’s not that I haven’t had ideas, or things to say, or stories to report.  Mostly, it’s that my life was turned on its head, and I didn’t know how to write in this blog and pretend that things were fine – trying to be upbeat – when for a couple of years, things really weren’t fine at all.

I finally feel like emotionally I have started to resurface, and as a result, maybe I could try this again.

But before I start on with the eventual warm-and-fuzzy stories that I’m so fond of, I suppose a rationale for my silence is required.

I am 29 years old, and two years ago in September, I got divorced.  I stopped writing because I didn’t know how to write – knowing that family in various forms would be reading – and act like that wasn’t going on (or that I wasn’t massively affected by it).  I also don’t particularly like to whine in the form of writing, and so I needed to get past my heavy emo phase in order to be able to discuss it without sounding like…well…a whiner.  Life was hard for what felt like forever after that.  And when everything around you feels really really hard, incidentally, it’s hard to write and not feel like you are perpetually complaining.

This year, 2016, is going to be a good year.  The reason I know that is because it’s the first time in quite some time that I’ve felt like I have my feet solidly under me.  I haven’t moved in a year, I can pay every last one of my bills, and though there isn’t a ton left over, there’s still at least a little left over.  I have a car that works consistently.  I bought a bike and subsequently inherited a fun hobby. I no longer feel like a mess of a human being.  Maybe I have finally reached ‘adult’ status?  To be honest, does anyone every fully feel like a grown-up though?

Now that things have settled in my life externally, there is an enormous amount of internal shifting that has been occurring.  For example, the recent realization that though I am close to 30, I have no idea what I want to do with my life.  This is a terrifying concept to have bubble to consciousness when you’ve spent years pursuing education in a very specific field and acquired some debt.

It’s not that I don’t love my work.  I do.  But for those of you who may not be familiar with my profession of choice, it can be exhausting to say the least.  I am the director of a shelter for runaway and homeless youth, and I’ve been with the shelter (in different roles) for several years now.  And after years of working in a crisis-based, advocacy-centered, not-for-profit agency…well…you get a little tired.  So tired in fact, that I’ve recently even toyed with the idea of leaving the social work sector altogether, for a bit of a mental health break.  I don’t know that I actually will, but I completely understand now how professionals I have known over the years could abruptly quit their jobs to go work for a bank (no offense against you bankers out there).

I’ve lived in my current town in upstate NY for 11 years now, which is the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere.  I’ve got itchy feet, and frankly, I’m not sure what to do with them.

So with the bad couple of years finally came some good, but it’s also come with some shifting that I was not expecting.

With that internal and external shift, may come some shifting of this blog.  Doing life as a single mom changes some of the way a person goes about the day-to-day, so subsequently, I imagine it will affect my writing.  But, I realized that I had undeniable writers-block because I was not ready to address the elephant in the room, which is that my life has massively changed in a way that could not – for me – avoid mention.  So apologies, dear readers, for my sabbatical.

Maybe now I can revisit this writing thing again.

Cheers.

Advertisements

little men

I went camping this weekend with a good friend of mine. Some other friends joined us, one of which has a little boy close to K in age (we’ll call him N).

K and N, I think after watching them this weekend, may be similar in temperament. They’re both gentle souls.

K was having a tough time on Saturday. Unfortunately, he appears to take after me with regards to social orientation (likes company, but is generally introverted). He can be very gregarious and outgoing when he’s comfortable with people, but if he’s spent a long amount of time around others, he sometimes gets wiped out and just needs quiet time by himself.
By dinner-time Saturday, he was in that spot. I was cooking, and he had wandered over to a clear area among the rocks and trees and sat on the ground looking upset.

N, who was in the campsite next to ours with his mom, toddled over looking very concerned. He stood next to K, just looking at him with this small little face of worry. I went over to them and asked K if he wanted to play; he had his head down and shook a quick “no.”

What does N do? Without saying a word, sits down about a foot and a half away from K, parallel to how he is sitting. Without eye contact and facing the trees, the boys just sat there like that silently for a few minutes. They looked like little men.

Eventually, N gets up and wanders over to his mother and me (we had moved away for a minute), and a couple minutes after that, K got up and joined us, apparently feeling better.

It’s strange to observe a guy moment among toddlers. It was truly adorable.

Aside

not for the faint of heart or the easily-offended

so…potty training is finally in full swing. it’s got its ups and downs but we’re moving right along.

some dialogue from tonight’s episode of “would you please just pee on the potty?”:

after putting K on the seat, i leave the room for a minute to give him some space to do his thing. i come back, and he’s pulling at his business.

“K, stop playing and try to go pee.”
“okay mama”

i leave the room again, come back a few seconds later. he’s still playing with his business.

“K, what are you doing? please stop playing with your (insert your cutesy or anatomically-correct word of choice here) and try to go pee.”

“no, mama, i’m making a tower.”

oh. my. god. i think that’s the hardest i’ve laughed at something he’s said.

luck

A good friend of mine bought a camp in the past year about 30 mins away from where we live. We thought it would be fun to take the kids (she’s got two boys close to K in age) along with another friend and her son (also close in age) up to camp for the day yesterday. We agreed to spend the night as well so we could have time to enjoy ourselves since we would also have today to get the kids back home and all oriented before it’s back to the grind Monday.

Anyone who’s ever tried to take a group of small toddlers to the beach for a day knows that this is akin to playing a game of russian roulette. There’s really no way to know how it is going to end. You cross your fingers and hope for the best. I’m not joking.

These boys. Four boys (which means we were outnumbered!), behaved beautifully. We were on that beach for probably close to 5 hours, and any time one of us started to comment on how well they were doing, the other two would promptly “shush” them for fear of jinxing ourselves. Not a single fight between them or any of the other kids, they played well in the water, actually ate their lunches (!), paid attention when one of the adults spoke to them. At one point the beach got bombarded suddenly by a large group of people, and not even this phased how well they did. It. Was. Awesome.

This may never happen again, so I feel the need to publicly acknowledge how truly lucky I am to have such a good kid. And to have friends with kids who are just as good.

To dovetail this story, I have really begun enjoying car rides with K; he likes to point out all of the different cars/trucks/motorcycles we see, tells me about the landscape, and gets excited any time we see either a construction site or cows/horses/sheep.
On our way back from camp, we passed several farm areas with cows. After exclaiming about the number of cows at one farm we passed, K states with conviction: “I don’t want all of the moo-cows, mama, just one.” “Is that right?”, I say. “Yes.”

Maybe I need to have a small farm.

Aside

food wars

A weird thing happened a few days ago.
I was in Price Chopper, minding my own business, buying a small single-serve size thing of plain greek yogurt because it was part of a recipe and I needed to pick some up.

Standing in line, put the container up on the conveyor belt (is that what those are called?), and happened to turn around.
The guy behind me, I am guessing who was somewhere between 30-40, looks at the container then looks at me. It’s around 5:30pm so he says “light dinner, huh?” I laughed politely then said it was part of a recipe, that just that would not quite qualify as dinner. So he follows it up with a comment about how small I am and surely I do not eat more than that anyway.

I think what happened was an attempt to be nice or flirt or something. However, the undertone of the exchange caught me off guard, and I couldn’t help but feel a little…I don’t know, off-kilter about it.

Now, I understand that I am a small person. But I’m not rail-thin either. I don’t understand why there’s this idea that exists within our culture that small women must not really eat very much. And it’s not perpetuated only by men making passing commentary in the grocery store. Almost every party I go to with only women present involves eating portion sizes that barely qualify as a snack, even if there are mounds of food available, just begging to be descended upon. And so much of the time, women won’t even finish the tiny amount of food they are attempting to very daintily eat off their plate!

To the women of the world who seem to feel they should not eat enough to sustain them: you’re not fooling anyone, we know you are hungry. Please just eat. No one is going to judge you, and if they do, they are probably not someone you want to spend your time being around anyway.

And if you’re a small, active person, chances are your metabolism is pretty solid. I’ve been trying to run regularly since about mid-December; I’ve definitely lost some weight, and I feel good about myself, but I also have started eating close to as much food as I did when I was 16 and playing field hockey.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with this. I would even go as far as to argue that perpetuating the idea that small women shouldn’t or probably don’t eat very much simultaneously serves to perpetuate the likelihood of poor body image/poor self-esteem, and maybe even eating disorders. And I wonder how much it makes people who are trying to become smaller feel like they can’t or shouldn’t eat. There’s nothing healthy about this weird-ass stereotype.

So, guys, please, if you find yourself in a grocery store and want to talk to a girl, don’t use commentary on the amount of food a female is purchasing as a topic of conversation. It’s awkward.

It’s not that I’m inherently offended by what this person said either, because I wasn’t. But I couldn’t help but make some connections between the comment and observations I have made over the years about the relationship between women and food.

Aside

I have been quite sick for the past three days. Today I tried going to work and lasted less than two hours before I needed to go home. When you feel that bad, it can be difficult to find things that make you feel good that don’t involve sleep.

I had to pick K up at daycare today to bring him home. Our backyard right now looks like a small wild field because it’s completely covered in violets and dandelions; the color contrast is quite pretty, and though I know many people don’t like dandelions because they’re “weeds,” I rather enjoy them. Anyway, I get home with K, and he’s seen the backyard half a dozen times like this already, but today it caught his eye.
He pauses, takes an audibly deep breath with a huge smile on his face, then turns to me and says “you make these flowers for me, mama?”

Well, it was so sweet and innocent and he just looked so happy that I didn’t know what else to say except “Sure did, love.” He smiled again, went into the backyard, and picked me an enormous dandelion.

It was adorable, and for about two minutes today I didn’t feel like total crap thanks to my toddler.

Some days parenting is hard, and some days it’s just awesome.

what happens when you don’t try to make things pinterest-perfect

I took K over to his grandparents’ house yesterday to color easter eggs with his cousin.  It was the traditional setup, various dye-colors (think ROYGBV) in cups, spoons for dipping, hardboiled eggs.

The kids took turns dunking the eggs in the different color cups, taking them out, allowing them to dry in egg cartons.  Then a funny thing happened.  They began taking the spoons from different cups (unprompted) and scooping the dye into the egg cartons either in empty spots, or over the eggs themselves.  They picked the eggs up, then splunked them down in different dye puddles, generally enjoying the relatively well-contained chaos of avant-garde egg coloring.  This was the result:ImageImageImageImage

 

Turns out you can get some seriously psychedelic eggs when you let a couple of two year olds go to town.  Totally not worth it to try to do everything picturesque, this was way better.

birthdays

so last saturday was the birthday party of a good friend of mine’s little boy.  incidentally, because the two of us like to hang out, our sons have become little buddies.  this is extremely cute because now when they see each other they get very excited and talk to each other in their little toddler voices, and general adorableness ensues.

because it’s often easier to have a party out somewhere so that kids can run amok and be wild, my friend decided to hold her son’s party at Tree Paad in malta, ny.  it’s located at the corner of “oh hey what a great idea for a party” and “oh dear god this is a nightmare/i’m going to clothesline that 12-year-old barreling around if he almost knocks over another toddler.”  for those of you who have never heard of this establishment, it’s an indoor “fun center” where kids can run around, climb and jump off things, you know all that good stuff.  additionally, as another parent i was with pointed out, it appears to be run entirely by 14 year-olds.  
because my friend is a smart person, she decided to have the party at 10am, which is before all of the madness starts.  really up until noon, the place was fairly quiet and the kids could run around without fear of being bowled over.

after noon, however…different story.  the place became completely bombarded by loud, shrieking children, and adults who did not look convinced that patronizing this establishment was a good idea.  at one point, while standing in line at a random-toy counter with K, fistful of tickets in hand with a small swarm of loud, hip-high people begging their parents for toys they neither need nor really want beyond the next 10 minutes, i actually thought to myself “this place has got to be some type of hell.”  i looked around, and based on the bedraggled expressions of my fellow parent-types, i was not the only one thinking that.

joking aside, K and his little toddler friends really did seem to have fun, so in the end it’s worth it.  but never again will i question why a parent cringes when someone brings up going to a place like tree paad.  i understand completely now.  and if you find yourself either holding a party there, or going to one for someone else – for the sake of your sanity – go before noon.

induction

Well, it’s official.  The moment I have been waiting for/dreading since I started working at the shelter finally came yesterday in the form of a compliment from one of my girls:

“you’re so pretty.  i hope i look like you when i get older.”

sigh…thanks, kiddo.

This was meant 100% as a compliment and I understand that. However, I feel like I may have just been formally inducted into a different version of adulthood now that teenage girls are saying the phrase “when i get older” in reference to me.

Also, congrats to my buddy Suzanne, because you were also included in that 🙂

Ohhh to be 16 again.  Just kidding.  Being a teenage girl totally sucked, I suppose I’ll take that compliment.