The other half


No, not dandruff.  Gray hairs maybe, but nothing gross or flaky.  I mean the stuff inside my head.  I have too much stuff boppin around in there, which serves only to needlessly paralyze me from getting anything productive accomplished.  I’ve always had problems focusing (the ADD diagnoses finally came at age 39.  A case of NOT better late than never.) So when there are overwhelming amounts of stimuli around me, requiring my attention in some form or another, I do what any rational person with an anxiety disorder would do.  I avoid.  

While I may not actually be actively addressing any of the aforementioned shitbox full of stuff in my head, at least I can write about it.  Or bitch about it as the case may be.  Yes, this is heading toward the bullet points.  Bear with me dear Kitty.

  • Stress inducer the first:  moving again soon.  Yeah, cuz we haven’t done enough of that.  And even though one might think I’d have it down to a science by now, which I do, it isn’t any less stressful.  Particularly when I’m pretty much on my own with the packing aspect.  Oh believe me, we have definitely used up all of the from-the-goodness-of-their-hearts assistance we might have asked for from friends during our last 231 moves. I am on my own with this one!   All I’ve managed to accomplish so far, for a move that is scheduled to happen in T-minus 16 days, is to bring the plastic bins down from the attic.  That, and have panic attacks every time I open a closet in the house.  I swear, in the 6 months that I’ve lived here, things have multiplied like horny bunnies.  How all this crap manages to accumulate is beyond me.  Interestingly, the epicenter of clutter breeding seems to be in my 13 year old’s room.  Coincidence?  I think not.  This child saves every damn thing that gets into her hands: gum wrappers, clothing tags (“but mom! I love the little moose on it. It’s cute!”), study guides, scraps of paper with cryptic messages on them, pictures torn out of teeny bopper magazines (oh how I loathe thee, Justin Bieber), and too many unidentifiable things of questionable origin.  Most of which lives on her bedroom floor.  I think I may just drop a dumpster under her bedroom window and shovel it all out of there.
  • Stress inducer the 2nd:  the above-mentioned 13 year old girl.  I don’t think I need to elaborate.  She’s 13.  I can’t believe I ever thought 4 was hard.
  • Stress inducer the 3rd:  the spouse.  Or lack thereof.  I’m essentially a single parent these days, who just happens to be married.  The diner is consuming every second of his life, which though my logical self understands this, my emotional self is the main bitch in charge here.  It’s much more difficult to cope with than I’d ever imagined, particularly because in the few precious moments I do get to see him on a daily basis, he’s completely exhausted.  And by exhausted, I mean “cranky bastard”.   I depleted my stores of patience with this several weeks ago.  It sucks. I wish I was more understanding. I get a strong sense that he wishes I were more patient too.  However, I feel as though not only am I attempting (poorly) to cope with my own stress and worry about everything, I am bearing the brunt of his as well.  Add two young children, who voice their own anxieties on a rotating whine schedule, and you got yourself one crazy momma.  I am tired of explaining to the girls why daddy is never home.  It breaks my heart over and over again to hear them cry because they miss daddy.   It gets even more unbearable because I feel I have to always “prepare” the girls for the times he is home:  “Now girls, I beg you, please be on your best behavior tonight.  Daddy works hard and is very tired, and has little patience for any bickering or nonsense” (you know, like the normal behavior for siblings?)  But the pressure to be the perfect Cleaver family for him so he won’t get upset or show his temper is too much.  He is with us maybe 1 or 2 hours, 2 or 3 nights a week (I only count waking hours.  He spends more time sleeping here than anything else) so in that small amount of time, nobody wants anything but love and butterflies and rainbows.  And we all know how likely that is when it comes to kids!  Inevitably, one of the kids pulls the usual crap–eye-rolling or nasty attitude is the behavior du jour for the teenager.  For the 8 year old it’s whining or pestering the sister.  Again, it’s usually typical stuff that I’m inclined to ignore if it means an hour or two of peace rather than WWIII in my house.  So I’m not sure if husband feels he must step up when he is actually home, or he feels I don’t handle it like I should (in spite of the fact that I handle it all gaddamned day long) but he has a habit of overcompensating either way.  Not to mention he has even less than normal patience for the nonsense because he is exhausted or stressed or both.  It all adds up to ugly.  Someone always ends up crying when he’s home, and it’s usually me.
  • Stress inducer the 4th:  wondering how to cope with items 1-3

That’s where I’m at these days.  I’m sure there’s a silver lining in there somewhere.  I guess I could say it’s the diner itself, which is a great little place.  We seem to being doing a good job of making plenty of customers happy.  It is indeed the fulfillment of a long-held dream and I love seeing the business flourish.  With the diner’s lovely, curvaceous, shiny stainless exterior looking every bit as gorgeous as she did in 1948, I suppose I could in fact say she is indeed our literal silver lining!

Hanging in there…

I try very hard to teach my children that material possessions are not the key to a fulfilling life.  I try very hard to remind myself of this fact as well.  Especially at this time of year, and particularly in the face of those damn commercials featuring a beribboned Lexus in some lucky bitch’s driveway.  But I will always want my kids to derive their happiness not from Nintendo DS and cell phones, but from the people who give them those objects.  (just kidding, sort of).   As Charlie Brown once said, “Happiness is warm puppy”.  He obviously never sat in the warm, heated leather seats of a Lexus RX350 however.

ANYWAY…seriously, I am a sentimental fool, and I prefer attachments to people, rather than objects.  Unfortunately however, I have a lot of objects to which I am sentimentally attached.  One of these objects, a ring I wear daily to be exact, got lost today, and now I am beside myself.  I don’t have a lot of expensive jewelry, and what I have is generally things that I wouldn’t cry over if I lost them.  However my rings, especially my wedding rings, are the exception.  Thank heavens I didn’t lose one of them (they belonged to my grandmother, and I would just jump into the grave next to her if I ever lost one of those!) but the one I did lose today is nearly as special as my wedding rings.

While I was pregnant with our first child, I used to tease Matt by telling him that it is traditional to buy your wife expensive jewelry after she gives birth.  She gives you a baby, you give her diamonds.  “It’s the least you can do”, I would tell him.  (Yeah, so it wasn’t until after I had kids that I realized materialism was bad.)  Of course he would just scoff at the idea of such a gift exchange.  “The baby is YOUR gift too”, he would say.  “What more do you need?” he would say.  I would laugh, but I kept dropping jewelry hints until the days in my last trimester when all I wanted was for him to shut the hell up and get me some damn french onion soup.

Then came Emma’s arrival:  23 hours of labor, BACK labor at that, several vomiting episodes, an hour of pushing, and all the technicolor glory of giving birth , shoved right in his FACE!   He was wonderful throughout, and clearly exhilarated and emotional when he first lay eyes on his daughter.  But yeah, he just saw one gory and raw reminder of the power and miracle of life. 

Matt stayed by our side until we were finally resting comfortably in our room, this new family of three.  Then, as I was drifting off, I felt him peck my forehead and heard him whisper “I’ll be right back”.  Lucky for him I couldn’t muster the energy to say “WHERE THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING LEAVING ME WITH THIS MINIATURE STRANGER BUSTER??” 

About an hour later he finally returned.  I was a bit miffed that he had mysteriously abandoned me and couldn’t imagine where he had been aside from perhaps McDonalds.   He sat beside me and placed a box in my hands.  It was from Bailey, Banks and Biddle.  I immediately began to cry.  (though as anyone who has given birth can attest, it wouldn’t have taken much to coax tears)  I had forgotten all about the jewelry teasing at this point.  Indeed I had been given the most extraordinary gift in the world–a healthy baby girl.  Yet here was my darling husband, who after witnessing what I went through to bring this baby into our lives, realized “Damn, she was right.  Jewelry IS the least I can do!!!”  Remembering that moment still makes me smile.

It is the sentiment attached to that jewelry that makes it so important to me.   So when I was walking out the door this morning and noticed that my beautiful, gold and amethyst “birth”day ring was not on my finger, I freaked.  I have yet to find it even though I have scoured my entire house, including the trash, the dog food bin, and intend to even examine the dog’s crap piles in case of an accidental ingestion.  I cried all morning.

But I wrote that story here for a reason: to remind myself that no matter what happens to the ring, the memory of the moment, the meaning behind it, can never be lost.  Well, and I do still have the matching bracelet. 😉

Matthew, I love you honey.  You are an amazing husband and father.  Even if you can’t give me everything I want (beribboned cars for example), you give me everything I need.  And that’s all that matters.