Saturday, September 11, 2021

Free therapy from a stranger

I make it a rule never to work for free, but I’m going to throw these out here. Over the course of the week, I’m finding that I say the same things many times. If it’s coming up that many times in my little corner of the world, it occurs to me that there might be a lot (or 2) more people who could use to hear it. 

1) The world is really hard right now. If you’re finding yourself exhausted, distracted, or more emotionally raw than usual, it’s possible that it’s because you are continuing to function while the world is literally and figuratively burning around you. 

2) Kids are jerks. And they’re honest and sometimes they’re mean. It’s not personal and it doesn’t mean you’re failing as a parent. In fact, if they’re being jerks it usually means that they feel secure enough to know you won’t reject them. It’s also okay to stick them in front of a screen so you can have two fucking minutes of peace sometimes. 

3) Prioritize rest. We’re not as complicated as we think we are. You need sleep. I promise. 

4) Take the shortcuts. No one can do all the things. Do the things you care most about half-ass what you can. I realized that no one died if I let the family figure out their own dinner a couple nights a week and it’s freed up so much emotional energy. Get the groceries delivered, skip being Team Mom, cut yourself some slack. 

5) Every day is a chance to reset, and every day is only 24 hours long. If today was a dumpster fire it’ll be over soon and the sun will rise on a new day tomorrow. 

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Practicing an attitude of gratitude

 Blergh. Even just writing that made me throw up a little in my mouth. 

I'm not doing great this week. I mean, I'm fine, we're fine, everything's fine, but I'm not especially excited or happy. And I'm being whiny. The world is on fire, both literally and figuratively. The California wildfires are terrible and closer than we like (they won't reach us city folk, but still.) The smoke is awful, and with COVID you get the added "Does my throat hurt because the AQI is literally 500, or because I have COVID?" One of my children (who shall remain nameless because I am kinder and more benevolent than they probably deserve) has been especially capricious lately. And while I can appreciate that children take out their vitriol on the safest attachment they have, much more of this and I'll have bitten a hole right through my tongue. I'm sick of making food (and planning food and buying food and basically anything having to do with meals) and yet, for some reason, all these people still expect to eat regularly. My job is fine, but it's not particularly fun or exciting. That was the trade off for stress and burnout, but... And a whole host of other things that I feel a little weird about putting out on the internet, and that individually aren't huge life-changing problems but cumulatively? It's just a lot. 

And yet. There are things that I'm grateful for. I went through my phone looking for pictures to post and I was reminded that in the midst of the fire, there are small pockets of joy and fun and peace. So I'm posting this as a reminder to have an attitude of gratitude (ugh. It happened again. I need a better phrase.) 

Things that don't suck:

Free school lunches: The kids eat the school lunch. It's been SO NICE to not have to pack (and plan and buy ingredients and remember) lunch everyday. We had a shift in our drop-off system so Averson eats breakfast at school too. It's nice to have that emotional labor taken off my plate (ha!) and if the kids don't like what's on the menu they are welcome to make their own lunch. Which none of them have done yet, even on nacho pretzel pocket day. 

Snapchat filters on my dog:

Need I say more?

Video Games: C and I have been trying to buy a PS5 FOR-EVER. It's been impossible, and we basically gave up. Then randomly one day last week my brother texted "Are you guys still looking for a playstation?" and forwarded me the Treasure Truck text. I clicked the link, added to cart, and three days later I had a very, very happy husband

Teenagers with jobs: Eli has his first job and it's so awesome. He loves it, and regularly tells me what it's like working in food service. I keep reminding him that I waited tables for years, but maybe the entire industry has changed? It's fun to see him excited, and he's so well suited for customer service. People love him

Middle School: This girl. She was so nervous about middle school and has totally blossomed. She's got friends and routines and it's just so fun. Also, beer. 

Ridiculous games and television: Right now I'm big on Kingdomino and Schmigadoon

The gym: I still love it so so much. And the girls are starting to be interested too! Our class was really small last week so my favorite coach (who's leaving at the end of the week :( ) let Averson join. Here she is sumo deadlifting a kettlebell like a beast. I love that she loves it and I hope that the girls take away from it all the amazing things that their bodies can do besides fit in clothes. It's a nice lesson, and even better if it doesn't take 40 years. 

Tell me what doesn't suck in your life right now, or if you have a better way to phrase focusing on the not-suck. Because as a shrink I should be able to say that without gagging

Thursday, August 12, 2021

First day of school!

It's happening! All three kids left for real life, all day, no Chromebooks in sight school today. I have feelings, given the political climate of our area and the huge surge of the Delta variant, but I'm trusting that the kids are good mask-wearers and that the schools are enforcing all the mandates. 

This year we have three kids at three different schools. Averson is in third grade, Sydney started middle school (with her Dad), and Eli is a sophomore. It was weird to drop Avery off all on her own, and made her seem suddenly so much older. But then she was 100% judgey about all the kids getting walked to their classrooms and practically leapt from the car, so maybe she's ready to be more independent. 

I noticed when I took the picture that they all matched, but didn't say anything because I didn't want to break the magic of a relatively stress-free morning. Averson told me later that they did it on purpose, and then my heart exploded. 

Let the chaos begin! 

Monday, August 9, 2021

We went to Vegas and survived

 OMG. I was looking for inspiration on what to write about (the struggle is real, y'all. Any good tips?) and I realized that I never wrote about our Vegas trip! I think it was because we came back to the Delta variant and in hindsight it seemed like maybe not the best decision we've ever made. But now we're ten days out and symptom-free, so I can confidently document it. Honestly, it wasn't terrible. Masks were required indoors by everyone and provided at every entrance. Most people were pretty conscientious about it, and the crowds were WAY smaller than usual. 

We planned this trip to celebrate my friend's 40th, and all the 40ths that were under-celebrated during the pandemic. It was three couples: us, our friends, and her brother and his wife. We knew we were going to a fancy steakhouse, but other than that we had no agenda. 

C and I don't take a lot of trips sans kids. I think this was maybe the third since Eli was born? The kids were thrilled to be on their own with my mom, who has made it her mission to be as bad of an influence as humanly possible whenever she can. 

We had a blast, and it was so fun to hang out with C without all of the adult-y/parent-y negotiation that usually colors our time together. The last time we went together, it was for my 21st birthday, with my dad, so there were not a lot of shenanigans. It was nice to go as adults with a sense of reasonable shenanigans and a little bit of disposable income.

 In true Vegas fashion, I didn't take a ton of pictures, so here's a Vegas retrospective in the medium of selfie. 

Taking ridiculous pictures in a ridiculous lounge where C's ridiculously priced drink tasted like liquid smoke. 

I don't know what's wrong with my eye, but I think this picture was taken very, very late in the evening

Shameless thirst trap. I have no regrets. 

I love this dress SO much and found it on Amazon, of all places. I loved it so much that I got dressed way to early and had to casually lounge in the room waiting for everyone else to get dressed. 

That face is equal parts cute kissy face and excitement that we're finally heading out :) 

Monday, August 2, 2021

Over it. Get vaccinated.

This is what I look like when I'm meeting with patients today. They've reinstated the stricter PPE guidelines at work, given the recent resurgence of COVID cases and the fact that the hospital is back to nearing capacity. Not only do I have to wear my mask, but now I also have to wear a face shield or goggles. Can't you just feel the empathy? My first patient was visibly taken aback when he walked into the room, which is exactly what I'm going for when setting the tone for a session. 

I'm over it. I sit with struggling people and have to try to connect with them at their most vulnerable while wearing this bullshit. And that's best case scenario. Imagine if you were feeling paranoid, or scared, or suspicious, and this is what your psychologist looked like. Imagine that you and your kid had to talk about suicide and safety plans with someone and they literally have a barrier between you and them. And that's just at work. I'm over wearing masks period. I'm over the kids having to wear them everywhere and constantly running the risk analysis game about EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DECISION. I'm not languishing. I'm pissed off. 

Up to this point, I have encouraged friends to get vaccinated, but I've also tried very hard to mind my own business and let people make their own decisions. I've long been of the opinion that if it doesn't affect me and it doesn't hurt other people, it's really not my business. We protected ourselves and made the best choices day to day (to the point of fucking exhaustion, if I'm honest). I'm done. The decision to not protect yourself is affecting me now. It's affecting me, and it's hurting people. We have lived in the pandemic for a year and a half and now we're going back to where we were in March of 2020. It's bullshit. There's really no better way to say it. 

I am trying to understand the anti-vaxx position. I really am. I spent the weekend arguing with the only person left on my FB that is anti-vaxx, hoping to glean some information that would help me understand why they are so adamantly against something that to me seems abundantly clear. I'm going to be honest. What I've gleaned is that it seems to be rooted in egocentrism and selfishness. There is a huge anti-mask movement here since it was declared that the kids all have to mask in school, and the mask mandate has been reinstituted to include vaccinated people. Instead of choosing not to send their kids to school, the anti-vaxxers seem to want to lament about their loss of freedoms and the injustice of making little Timmy cover his mouth. If anyone has information that would help me see how reasonable humans could end up on the anti side of this argument, I truly and genuinely would be interested. Because I don't get it and all that anyone's been able to show me are memes, youtube videos, and snippets of articles taken out of context. 

The sad thing is, I've seen this scenario play out on social media so many times that it's become frustratingly predictable. 

"Everyone can make their own choices! I refuse to live in fear. It's no worse than the flu!"
"Ugh. So over the masks. Tried to run into the store real quick and the cashier gave me such a hard time about it! If your mask works, you're fine. Right? Some of us can't wear a mask all the time. Where's my rights?" 
"Sheeple! I encourage you to do your research and watch insert some rando video of someone spouting quasi-science
"Well, it happened. We've tested positive for the 'dreaded virus.' We think we likely caught it at huge gathering of like minded people not living in fear. So far we're doing okay! Just a little tired. So grateful for our community right now! Lots of rest and fluids. Thank you for those of you that have come by!"
"Wow! This thing is no joke! Hopefully we're seeing the worst of it." 
"The doctor is a little worried because my oxygen level is still low. Thank you for all the recommendations. So far I'm feeling okay and taking it easy." 
"Heading to the ER. Oxygen levels are still really low and it looks like we might need to get admitted." 
"Update: So-and-so was admitted to the ICU. Nurse says they're doing better and in good spirits. Hopefully they'll be home soon!"
"Update: I just talked to the nurse. The oxygen levels are still low. She said they've been awake for a few minutes but mostly unconscious. Send all your thoughts and prayers."  
Get vaccinated if you're eligible. I watched the first half of the pandemic (son of a bitch, why does that seem like the most accurate way to explain time right now?) rage through the prisons and now I get to watch the second half from the perspective of community health care. The vaccines work. I've seen them work. I've seen families where a kid gets COVID and the vaccinated parents don't. I've seen relatively healthy, unvaccinated people have really, really bad reactions to the virus. Being healthy and strong doesn't always mean safe. 


Monday, July 26, 2021

The days are long

 My babies are solidly not babies anymore. I was talking to Averson this weekend about some of her nightime behavior (after an especially loud and dramatic reaction to a dream in the middle of the night) and I realized that, when Eli was her age, we also had a five-year old and a toddler in the house. 

When I reflect on when the kids were small, I remember being so tired and feeling so...saddled. I loved it, but in my mind that era is perfectly illustrated by the number of bags I was constantly carrying. Parenting Littles, and the work that went into it, was so visual. It was the bags under the eyes and over each shoulder. It was the puke down the back of your shirt that seemed to be a permanent accessory. It was a baby taking a bath in a sink full of dishes while we all laugh at the ridiculousness of the situation. 


There are so many things that I love about having big kids. They carry their own stuff. They wipe their own butts. I pretty regularly sleep through the night. My kids are HILARIOUS and they're even funnier now that they can err a bit more to the inappropriate side of humor. Parenting Bigs, though, is such a private experience. They're much more autonomous as people. The struggles and dilemmas are more personal, and honestly feel a lot more monumental. Eli potentially leaves home in THREE YEARS. We've been stuck in our homes almost that long. Syd is in that very weird transition stage between kid and teen, which feels like a constant tight-rope walk. And Averson. I fear that I'm infantalizing her in my attempts to keep at least one of the kids relatively simple.  

I texted a friend the other night after a conversation with Eli, and she responded with, "I think that's the first time that sentence has ever been said. By anyone." That's what I'll picture when I look back on parenting these kids through adolescence. Where when they were toddlers, all parents could relate to potty training, to sleep struggles, to sink baths, now they are all SO weird in such unique and unpredictable ways. Just when I think I've got it dialed in, another one comes up with another brand new sentence and my biggest task is to fix my face so my shock doesn't show. 

So, to all of you parenting Bigs, constantly trying to figure out what the fuck just happened and what the hell is going to happen next, I see you and I respect your ability to keep a straight face. We may be ping-ponging in different directions but we should totally high-five as we cross paths. 

Monday, July 19, 2021

Fashion question: Knot or not knot

 Are we knotting t-shirts now? I thought it was a fluke when a woman at C’s end of year party complimented my outfit of my prairie maxi dress with C’s long sleeved, gray t-shirt knotted on top (it was COLD and I optimistically didn’t bring a coat.) But now I see The Mom Edit doing it too. Are French tucks out? Can triple c-section moms pull off the knot? Help!!

Evidence of my current t-shirt strategy, which is really to wave my hands in the general vicinity of a waistband and hope for the best