Limping along in 2011 (or don’t let the door hit you on the way out Old Man)

The New Year comes in as a baby and leaves as a little old man. I’ve often wondered what it takes for someone to feel stooped-over and hobbled at the end of the year as it seems to be such a depressing thought. However, I find myself at the end of 2011 understanding why it’s important to make sure that the door slams hard on the past year, while opening a new one into 2012.

This year did not turn out as planned (and as I often explain to my child there are many things in life that you can’t control, but the way you handle things is one). What started as an optimistic feeling in January (despite the bone-chilling weather) was gone by the first of March as I found  myself working in a miserable place in a career that I was good at but not sure I wanted. Not a positive place for me to be.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been defined by what I do. Suddenly, I felt boxed in by the compliance issues surrounding my profession. I found myself wanting to help others but tired of knowing everyone’s dirty laundry. And, when I kicked back and took a good look around, I was no longer surrounded by people that felt they could conquer the universe. I was stuck in a sea of people just trying to survive and they all appeared to be clinging to life rafts.

Not a good feeling and it set the tone for the year.

Ironically, at the same time I hurt my calf (little did I know it was the first of three injuries that would increase in severity over the year). Never having calf pain before, I asked my chiropractor what that represented. She pulled out a book and declared, “Fear of the Future.”

At first I scoffed at the idea as I’m not a fearful gal. But, the more I thought about it (and the more times I continued to pull the same damn calf), I started to pay attention. Maybe I was scared of the road ahead as I wasn’t quite sure where I was going. Maybe my leg was trying to tell me something that the rest of me subconsciously knew but hadn’t acknowledged. Still, I didn’t listen.

October arrived and I had no choice but to pay attention. I tore my calf in three places on the tennis court and had to be carried off. I sobbed as I watched my friends continue to play as I knew it would be a long time before I’d return to the court. It would be a hard recovery, but if I did it right, I’d never hurt my calf again (the beauty of the human body is it can compensate for the hole that you have in the middle of your leg by strengthening everything else).

I also knew that if I started to listen to the yearning in my soul for something new, bigger and better that my body and my psyche would heal as well. I would no longer be afraid of the future. I’d have a clear path and be in control. It was time.

Three months is a long time to rehab (I shouldn’t complain as I escaped surgery which would have been longer). I wore a boot for seven weeks. It was heavy and uncomfortable and with every step I took, it was a reminder that I wanted to heal and move on. It gave me a goal.

And where am I now?

I find myself at the end of this year not able to play tennis, but I’m taking baby steps back to the court. I can now walk on the treadmill without pain and I’m getting ready to try the elliptical at the gym. I’m trying hard to be patient as I recover because I want to some back in the Spring and play well without another injury. It’s a goal that’s well in reach.

As for my soul? I took baby steps (and a few leaps) in fourth quarter to discover what I truly wanted to do and who I really wanted to be. 2012 will be a year of change for me and I embrace the unknown and welcome the feelings of excitement that I have as I entertain the idea of having my dream career. I am getting closer to that goal.

As we ring in the New Year tonight, I say goodbye to the exhausted, decrepit man that leaves as 2011 and say hello to the bouncing new baby that is 2012. I spent most of last year limping both physically and spiritually. I look forward to the upcoming year as I’ll be able-bodied, optimistic, motivated and ready to grab at the future.  I am no longer afraid.


Help! I’m a holiday hoarder!

A couple of weeks ago I joked on Facebook that I had way to much wrap and might need a twelve step program. I had gone down to the basement looking for a gift bag and found an entire tub of bags, bows and paper that I didn’t know existed. It was bad.

This week, I discovered it was worse than I originally thought.

This was just the beginning....

In a bold and crazy move, I decided to eat my frog and organize the entire mess. I figured it would take me an hour or so to sort through it all. Boy was I wrong.

I’ve known for years that I have an after-holiday shopping problem. If it’s the day after Christmas (and in the Midwest it’s always that day because the Chanuka stuff doesn’t go on sale until then either) and it’s 75% off, I buy it. I don’t like to pay a premium for my wrap. So every year, I’ve stocked up after the holidays so I can get the best deal.

Then there’s been the need for three sets of paper and bags. The first is for Chanuka- blue and pretty with stars. Then there’s the regular Christmas finery and bows. And, then finally, what I like to call the Santa paper- it’s all child oriented and segregated from the rest as Rosie must  never suspect that Santa is not real (for those of you who missed my last blog, I blew the big secret and you can read it here.) Basically, I had holiday stuff all over the place.

Once I started digging in, I realized that my holiday hoarding problem was worse than I thought (especially since I found an entire cache of Santa paper behind a bunch of wine in storage). I not only had half an aisle of holiday cheer from Target in my basement, I had kept every bag from every birthday party and the tissue paper as well. It was time to pitch.

Parting is such sweet sorrow

It took well over an hour. Although it was painful, if it was crunched or squashed in any way, I forced myself to throw it into the garbage. I also parted with anything that was deemed to babyish or occasion specific (who did I really know that would turn 70 soon?) The result? An entire contractor’s grade can filled to the brim.

All of the bags were sorted into a tub with the tissue paper nearby (wish I had known how much of that stuff I had. I think I’ve bought new tissue for almost every gift the past decade when in reality, I could probably decoupage  one of my bathrooms). The paper all found it’s place in it’s own tub (when I hit 40 rolls I stopped counting). And, then there were the bows.

Yes, you are correct. That's an entire bucket of bows

There must have been bows and ribbon stored in a dozen locations. I found some in tubs, some in drawers and some just hanging out in bags. Needless to say, I won’t need to shop for any soon as I’ve been both buying and recycling them at the same time.

So, guess where you won’t find me on Monday? At Target, trying to get the best deal. After “shopping” in my basement, it’s safe to say that I’m probably set on wrap for at least half a decade (or until a cute kid comes selling wrap for a fundraiser. I’m a sucker for that Innisbrook stuff).

Santa’s not real. I know because my Mommy told me so

When Rosie was little, her daddy and I made a deal. As soon as she didn’t believe in Santa Claus, Christmas presents in our home would cease. Not the Rosebud, just for us (actually in hindsight I think I originally said the whole ball of wax would go away, but over a decade later, I’ve changed my mind). So, I figured that this was the year as Rosie’s eleven.

She no longer believes in the Easter Bunny (“Mama, he had skin in between his fur and his sleeve. I think he’s a fraud”) or the Tooth Fairy (“Oh come on, you forgot and then I saw you put the money under my pillow in the morning and try to fool me”). And while she once had a Tinker Bell room she now declares that “fairies are for babies.” So, I thought it safe to assume that she was pretending to still believe in the man in red.

Santa and his reindeer were well fed two years ago

So, I took a risk a week or so ago and approached the subject.

“Rosie, since you no longer believe in Santa, I want you to know…”

“WHAT DO YOU MEAN?” she cried. “Santa’s not real?’

And, then she flopped on the floor in despair and made a few dramatic noises. I cringed at her response. But I could have sworn I saw her peek out at me from under her long lashes and check my response.

“For real,” I said (cursing the place I probably secured myself in Mommy hell.) “I thought you didn’t believe in Santa. You don’t believe in any of the rest of the magical, mythical stuff.”

Her blue eyes were filled with tears as she looked at me and said, “That’s cause somebody WRECKED it all for me.”

At that moment, I could feel the flames flicking at my feet. But I knew I had to hold my ground. Christmas at our home (the way it had been) had to stop.

Every year my hubby and I wind up buying each other crap that we don’t need just to have presents under the tree so Rosie continues to believe in Santa. Let’s face it, when you get small kitchen appliances, pajamas and books every year, you know it’s been tough shopping for your spouse. Plus, if we need something, we usually just buy it so it makes it more difficult to find the perfect gift.

This year, money is tight. So the realization that we may spend a couple hundred bucks on non-essential items for each other was pretty frightening. So, I did what any good and frugal mother would do. I told my child Santa wasn’t real.

Rosie claims she still believes (and that I’ve completely wrecked the holiday), but the moment she discovered that she’d still get some gifts, I never heard another word about the big man in red. So, I think she’s full of bunk and just wants to hold on to the magic of the holidays. Some of her friends still swear that Santa is real so I’ve asked her to keep the secret a little while longer. At least until their mothers (or someone on the playground) wrecks the magic for them.

How old were your kids when they no longer believed?


Go ahead. Cry yourself to sleep (I’m right there with you)

Last night I sat and listened to my daughter cry herself to sleep. She sobbed for over an hour before she gave in to the uncontrollable urge to pass out. It felt like a lifetime for me (and probably longer for her). It was a little slice of mommy hell.

Before I had kids, I always thought of myself in the future as a  perfect parent.My child would never sleep in our bed. She’d always sleep in her room, without a binky and stay there the entire night. If she’d ever fuss, I’d tell her not to and she’d POOF like magic, just go to sleep.

It never happened.

Rosie came into this earth with a mean case of GERD and from the moment she tried to feed we knew we were in for a wild ride. So, I broke all those pre-mommy rules that I made. She slept on my chest. She dozed in the car seat in the corner of our room. We walked all night and rocked all day. We did whatever it took to attempt to sleep.

We never did.

Somewhere around the age of five, Rosie’s tummy problems leveled out a bit. We were able to put her in her own room. But, somehow, in the middle of the night she slept-walked back to ours. Time and time again.

We’d see her staring at us in the dark (or through us, sometimes we weren’t quite sure) and she’d mumble a bunch of gibberish. We’d spin her around and lead her back to her room. And, if that didn’t work, we’d have a sleeping bag ready so we could all get some sleep.

It worked for a while.

Until she was sick (which happens a lot with a kid with tummy troubles. With frequent nausea, it’s easier to have her close.) Or scared (we often found ourselves afraid to be sick). Or just wanting to be close to mommy and daddy.

Sometime around eight, she no longer wanted to be with us all the time. She wanted to sleep alone. And, she has.

Before I had kids, I was always going to be the perfect mom and my child would always go to sleep without me. And, if she couldn’t sleep, I’d always be tough enough to let her figure out how. I’d let her cry herself  to sleep.

I sat last night listening to my eleven year-old sob uncontrollably in my room in a sleeping bag on the floor. She’s worried about an EGD she’s having on Monday.  Her tummy troubles have never gone away. But, my desire to be the perfect mom has. If I could have done anything to soothe her, I would have.

It’s Been a Long Year (but I’ve sure learned a lot)

Today I blogged at my old stomping grounds, You can read my blog here.

Rest in Peace (but first, write about your life please)

I went to high school with around a 1,00o kids in a town where everyone knew everyone else and all their business (I joke as an adult that it was like Peyton Place. I’m not THAT old but Melrose Place seemed much more fun). It wasn’t totally tiny, but it was small enough to be connected with lots of kids. Even those that weren’t in your posse.

When I joined Facebook, I was pleasantly surprised to find classmates that weren’t my BFF’s in high school (which can change by the minute anyway) but were kind, nice, talented kids. They might not have been the most popular (neither was I ) or on my radar all the time (because I was pretty self-absorbed) but I liked them and they liked me. And, so in the virtual world, we became better friends as adults than we ever were as teens.

One boy that reached out to me was always one that I found to be fairly shy and sensitive. He’d moved away from town, married and had children older than my own. It was clear that he had pursued some charitable things and had diverse interests. Since he was always a nice guy, I accepted his friend request.

“You write.” he said to me immediately. “How do you do it? How does one start to blog?”

I answered back.

‘By accident. It wasn’t planned. It just happened. It flowed…”

We had lots of conversations like this. He wanting to know how to tell a story. Me, not knowing how to tell him how to begin. You see, I wasn’t quite sure how I had. I just did.

Then one day the conversation stopped. After months of him posting on my blogs and asking questions, he was gone. And, part of me wondered why. Did I offend him?

I later learned he unfriended me.

Tonight, I found out that he passed away. In reading his obituary, it’s easy for me to surmise that he had cancer. It’s clear that he was a contributor, made a difference and was much loved. He had a full life.

I have one regret. If I had known, I would have been clearer when we spoke online.

“Tell your story,” I would have said.  “Just begin. Sit down and write.”

I’m sorry it’s too late.

Can I survive the next decade?

I have been a parent for over eleven years and I’m thoroughly convinced that I have no idea what I’m doing (and I probably haven’t all along which is why it’s good that I can fly by the seat of my pants). I discovered this fact early today as my child was sobbing the closet for no apparent reason. As I climbed in there to soothe her, it hit me that I was completely unequipped to get through puberty (and that the next nine years could be rather long).

Am I ever going to learn what this parenting gig is all about? Probably not. But, let me tell you what I’ve learned so far.

Childhood is split into two distinct decades. The first is wonderful (once you get past colic, viruses and temper tantrums). The second not so much.

The first ten years, kids adore you. They want you to hold them and play with them. They let you wipe away their tears. You are the center of the universe and a freaking hero to match.

The second ten you become stupid (especially as you struggle to help with homework) and overbearing. It’s a good thing that they’re too big for a lap because they don’t want sit on it or sometimes even a hug. And, you’re no longer a hero, you are more of a nuisance.

The first decade kids look at you with big saucer eyes that make you want to melt. They grab your hand to cross the street and hold tight. Every night is magical with story time and snuggles.

The second decade is filled with eye-rolling and “the look” (you know the one that tells you you’ve said something totally dumb). Your hand is batted away lest someone see you hold it in public. And, bedtime consists of getting those reading minutes for school in and protests.

We as parents are constantly pushing our kids to the next decade. We do  a lot of “when you’re older….” and “you’ll be able to do that soon” when what we should be doing is savoring every moment of it. Because you hit the second ten years and all the rules change and so does your child (good news is that if you squint really tight when you look at them, you can still the the baby they once were).

Now, after saying all that, I do have to confess that every once in a while Rosie will still hold my hand or attempt to climb in my lap. So, I’m blessed. But, I do miss being the one who can magically kiss all the tears away and make it better because I’m discovering that I can’t.

Will we survive the next few years? Of course. Will they be hard at times? Definitely. Can I do it? Yes. I just need to relish the good moments to get through the bad.




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