Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Motherhood and More: It's been a long time since my time was me time*

I am having trouble coming up with a topic to write about.  I mean, it’s not like my wild children don’t give me excellent material, what with all the jumping off the couches and standing on tables and general exuberance that out-exuberances anything I’ve ever seen.

Maybe I could write about the weekend where it truly, wonderfully, finally felt like fall.  We built fires and roasted marshmallows and had soup and apple pie and wool socks and soccer.  We worked outside and inside and I spent 90 percent of my time in the kitchen and the kids even played together a bit. 

Or maybe I could write about soccer itself, how addictive it has become to watch my son grow as a player, and how my little guy has got skills and I’m not just saying that because I’m his proud mama.  (No, really.)

Or my daughter, and how I see her growing and maturing a little bit every day, with far, far less tantrums and meltdowns.  It’s a relief, really.  Conflict is not my jam and that little girl would thrive on it.  And now she’s almost reasonable, going whole days without calling her brother a poopy head.

But it’s all life, yeah?  This is my every day.  I’m a parent and wife and employee.  Sometimes it’s hard to remember who I was before all of that.  We all change as we grow older, that’s just how it is.  We mature and learn and the things that were so very important to us at 17 now seem inconsequential at 33.

Still, though, it would be nice to be that person again, just for a bit.  To have the freedom to spend all day in my room writing songs and playing my guitar.  Or reading a whole book in two days because there wasn’t anything else keeping me from it. 

Now, when there’s free time, there isn’t really free time.  The time that is my own is small, and it’s usually filled with responsibilities.  As in, I may have a day off at home by myself, but the chores don’t stop.  Or if I do have a bit of time, it’s such a small chunk that I try to fit in all of the ‘me-time’ activities but instead still feel rushed.  That’s not to say I don’t appreciate that time, I surely do.  But I never truly stop being Mom or Wife. 

I don’t want to, though.  It’s who I am now, and who I will be.  I love those titles.  I love taking care of the ones I love.  It can be hard.  In fact most of the time it is.  But that doesn’t stop it from being the most important thing in my life. 

So really, there is no need to be 17 again because I like where I am now.  Everything was so tragic then, and there were far too many unknowns up in the air, far too much drama because I was still trying to figure out who I was.

I do miss the freedom, yes.  But I don’t miss the ambiguity or the angst.  Or the bad poetry.

I know I've used this photo before but LOOK HOW AWESOME MY ROOM WAS!

*This column originally published in The News-Enterprise on October 22, 2014.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

In which I unexpectedly work through my feelings on Lena Dunham's book

I went to a work function last night, one where I got to put on nice clothes (even nicer than the business-casual I usually wear) and listen to speeches and eat fancy chicken on a stick.  And desserts on a stick.  And an endless amount of other tiny delicious pieces of food that I had to pick up with my hands because there were no forks to be seen anywhere.  The food was amazing.  I work at a community college and the event was catered by the culinary department and I had to resist eating two of everything.  I settled for one.

Related: I still don't like chicken liver even if it's wrapped in bacon and speared with a toothpick.  But I TRIED.

I thought the post needed a picture
and this was all I could come up with.
I came home to my husband already in bed and asleep (it was 9:15) so I had to rummage around in the dark for pajamas.  I stayed up reading Lena Dunham's book (Not That Kind of Girl) because I needed a bit of winding down off the fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

I want to like this book, I really, really do.  And that's not to say that I don't, per se.

I'm not making any sense.

What I want to say is that I like the book, but there are parts that leave a bad taste in my mouth.  She's open, yes, which I appreciate.  And there are certain passages of her stories that leave me nodding in agreement and relief that finally someone gets how I feel about something.

But my overall feeling is that she is so very young.  Maybe that's the point of the book, though.  She captures a part of her life, her childhood and early-adulthood, and how full of self-knowledge were any of us at those times in our life?

I think I've written before about how, at least in the writing community that I've encountered, there seems to be an overall belief that in order to write well you have to be messed up in some way.  I don't subscribe to that belief.  I mean, I think we're all at least a bit messed up but it's the wallowing in it that bothers me.  The feeling that you are somehow 'special' because you had a bad experience.  Or weird experience.  Or experience that didn't sit well.  We've all had them.  No one is without their own story.  Everyone you meet is dealing with something.  And so maybe, for some, writing an experience is a way to climb out of the story.  I do feel it's hard to be truly honest when writing your own story.  And I appreciate Lena Dunham's ability to share things that many wouldn't.

I do not know her true story, her whole story.  All I know is what I've read in this book where she admits to being an unreliable narrator.  We all are in our own stories, though, aren't we?  The very nature of them is that it's how we perceive an experience.

So maybe she's captured that.  Maybe that's the point.

(I started this post thinking I would talk about how Chris had a rough bedtime routine with the kids and that apparently Adele was so pissed that, unbeknownst to anyone she took off all her clothes out of spite.  We realized it when she crawled into our bed at 4:30 naked and smelling of pee.

Instead I talked about Lena Dunham.)

Friday, October 17, 2014

Homemade Friday: Handknit Sock Weather

It's normal for me in October to spout prose on the changing seasons, the ebb and flow of life, the immense relief that the cooler temperatures bring, with their need for layers and wool.  

I love fall.  I love to be a bit chilly, to be able to wear cardigans and hats and scarves without oozing sweat while simultaneously assuring everyone that I am fine, JUST FINE and totally not hot at all but if you would please spritz me with water that would be much appreciated and maybe catch me if I pass out.

Wait, what?

Ahh, fall.  Autumn.  Pumpkin spice lattes*, soup, feather blankets, lots of orange, and red and yellow in the trees.  

And handknit socks.  Most definitely handknit socks. I spend a lot of time knitting socks throughout the year.  They are always on my needles, a sort of background project that I pick up when I don't want to think too hard or when I want a small project to take with me.  

These particular socks are close to being done.  All they lack is a bit of a foot and a toe.  It shouldn't take long, but as I only really work on them sporadically who's to say?

The pattern is one I made up myself, one I use for most of the socks I make.  I use size 0 needles and cast on 64 stitches.  I also like the short row heel.  I've attempted the other kind once and it didn't work out well.  Plus I wasn't all that fond of how it looked.

Short rows are awesome.

Also I would like you to notice how the stripes match up because it is very important to me.  So important that I took out and redid the heel on the second sock because it didn't match the first one.

I am lucky enough to have at my disposal more sock yarn than I can ever knit up, thanks to especially generous mother- and grand-mother-in-laws.  They're German and so have easy access to all the amazing German sock wool and have no problem being my suppliers.  So whenever I finish a pair, I go to the bin and dig out whatever yarn catches my eye and cast on for the next socks.

I have unrealistic hopes to knit family members socks for Christmas, but I am self-aware enough to know that there is no way that I could possibly get that done.  But in the very back of my mind, way deep, I kind of still want to try.  Because socks.  Socks are the most functional and useful thing I can knit.  They always are used.  Everyone has cold toes in the winter so wool socks that you knit yourself are perfect.

So who knows.  For now I'll keep working on these.  And then when I finish them I'll start another pair.  And then another.  

*I've never actually had a pumpkin spice latte but I'm sure they are fantastic.

She dressed herself like this.
(I am currently selling handknits and handmade jewelry.  You can find it here: Handmade by Jaimalaya.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Wanted: One padded room

I almost went to the gym this morning.


My gym bag was packed, my alarm was set, I was all for it.

Last night.

But then I woke up this morning with the same headache that I went to bed with and so I pulled up the feather blanket and rolled over and closed my eyes.  I'll try again tomorrow.

It's kind of a pain in the butt to be healthy, you know?  It's not that I don't like it, or that I don't love how I feel when I'm working out regularly and eating properly.  But sometimes it's just exhausting mentally.  I'm tired of putting so much thought into everything and not getting the results I want.  Or really any results at all.  So I give up.  At least for today.

And also all last week because it was fall break and I had a lot of apples to bake into desserts.

Speaking of fall break, I don't like it.  We are not the 'go on vacation for fall break' type of people, mainly because we prefer to spend what extra money we have on things like 'fixing the car' and 'food.'

My children are incredibly deprived.

I do not actually believe that.  I think it's a bit ridiculous to be expected to go somewhere and do things for every time the kids are off of school for more than one day.  Of course, that means the kids were home all week and bored.  My husband was off for most of the week and I was off Monday and Friday and part of Thursday and we all were ready to separate by the end of it.  My mom did take the kids to the movies and the park on Wednesday, so at least they got out of the house.  And Chris took Sebastian fishing on Thursday while Adele and I stayed home and she got pissed because her Duplo tower fell down so she threw a block at me and bruised my hand that I held up in self defense.

Girl's got a temper.

And then on Sunday night I realized that Sebastian didn't have school on Monday either because of teacher in service or something so basically I cried myself to sleep thinking about all the peace and alone time I wasn't going to have.

I am in a funk.  Can you tell?  Also I maybe need to go get some more coffee.

I am strongly in the "let the children learn to play by themselves" camp.  But my children don't seem to know how to do that unless it involves a screen.  I'm okay with television.  I happen to love television.  They will eventually go play when denied television, but not before spending an inordinate amount of time laying in the floor at my feet whining about how horrible I am for not letting them watch another hour of Pokemon or Barbie's Dreamhouse.  I am the worst, obviously.

(Have any of you actually seen Barbie's Dreamhouse?  It makes me sad and also want to punch the creators.)

So I have to use my mean voice, which is pretty much my all-the-time voice now, and banish them to their rooms because NOBODY LIKES A WHINER.  Does anybody have any tips for getting them to play by themselves?  Or maybe together?  Because "together" is a whole other issue.  My daughter thinks 'playing together' means she tears up whatever her brother is touching, then throws the toys at his head.  Understandably, whenever she gets close to his toys now he yells at her to leave him alone.  I've attempted to play with them and guide them, but as soon as I stand up to run to the bathroom or refill my coffee cup someone gets a Lego to the eye.

What am I supposed to do with that?  How do you foster good sibling relationships?  I'm thinking of locking them in a padded room for a day and see what happens.  They'd come out hating me, but at least they would hate me TOGETHER.

Before all the sibling rivalry started ...