I Bet You Aren’t Gwyneth Paltrow in the Morning, Either.

I can’t stand it. Everywhere I go lately I see morning routine lists. Have you seen them?

Cheerful photos, bullet lists and must-dos, snuggle time, gym time, and fresh smoothie recipes made from steamed baby spinach and organic fruits (guaranteed to be watered daily by the purified and desalinated tears of angels).

(The smug part is always in parenthesis.)

From Forbes magazine to blogs, your morning guides to success.

Now, by some measures, I could be considered successful. You know, if you don’t look at my house, my car, my bank account, or the fact that I have been known to bribe a seven-year-old child.

But my job rocks. I hold a titled position in an awesome, thriving company that lets me work from home. I am good at my job, and I love it, and the people I work with.

Which is why I read those stupid lists. Because honestly, who doesn’t have room for improvement?

But these people…their reality is nothing like mine. While most of them apparently perform their morning ablutions to a humming choir, I  comb my hair (sometimes) while digging through laundry baskets looking for one more clean sock while I sing Bloodbuzz Ohio.

I still owe money to the money to the money I owe….

My morning recipes will never be featured on Goop, and my routine will not be an inspiration to others. And I am betting (hoping) that your won’t be, either.

So here it is—a morning routine based in reality.

6:15 – Alarm – Move the cat off my face, hit Snooze. Push the 125 pound dog off me if I fell asleep on the couch last night.

6:23 – Alarm – Move the cat off my face, hit Snooze. Push the 125 pound dog off me if I fell asleep on the couch last night. Try to calculate how many times I can hit snooze before running the risk of missing the bus.

6:25 – Decide that math is too hard in the morning, move the cat off my face and get up. Try to wake up the kidlet.

6:27 – Let the dog out, light the fire, make coffee.

6:30 – Stare blankly at the kitchen wall.

6:32 – Pour coffee, go to my office and boot up the computer. Try to wake up the kid.

6:35 – Open work programs, email and social network sites. Realize I can’t see. push the cat off my lap and go look for my glasses. Detour to the living room to open the curtains.

6:38 – Check work email for anything urgent, answer any that can be answered in 2 sentences or less. Delete 111 client newsletters. Why is there no unsubscribe option on these? Where is my coffee?

6:40 – Decide I won’t find my coffee, pour a new cup. Detour upstairs to tickle the kidlet until he is pissed enough to stay awake.

6:45 – Social network review, liking or sniper-snarking friends’ posts. Post a complaint or statement of gratitude, depending on mood, weather and whether or not Mercury is retrograde.

6:55 – Open work websites and login. Setup work music playlist. Begin pulling reports that have to be in by 7:25 AM. Realize I can’t see, push the cat off my lap and go look for my glasses. Detour to threaten the kidlet with a morning round of Ethyl Merman if he doesn’t get up.

7:05 – Crap! It’s after 7:00? How is it after 7:00?

7:06 – “Youuuuuuuuuuuuuu’ll be swell! You’ll be great! Gonna have the whole world on a plate!” Laugh at the kidlet’s fury.

7:08 – Make the kidlet breakfast.

  • Good day – Multi-grain Cheerios, or oatmeal
  • Medium day – Toast on crappy white bread (1.19/loaf) with peanut butter.
  • Bad day – Have put off grocery shopping for so long the only breakfast options are ketchup or soy sauce, so remind the kid to eat at school.

7:10 – Tell kidlet to get dressed as soon as he is finished eating, and return to reports. Detour to bedroom because I remember I need to get him clothes. Find my first cup of coffee, wonder if he really needs socks.

7:18 – Finish timed reports, yell from my office, “You better be dressed!” Realize I still can’t see, push cat off my lap, go in search of glasses. Detour when I see the kid’s backpack under the kitchen table.

7:19 – Check folder for completed homework. 60% chance of searching for homework. Put lunch bag in backpack, if I remembered to pack it last night. If I didn’t, tell kid to eat lunch at school. Wonder when I last sent in lunch money. WHY won’t this cat leave me alone? Oh, I should feed her. And the dog.

7:20 – CRAP! The dog! Let the dog in, apologize profusely and feed both pets. Tell the kid to get dressed.

7:22 - Start morning reports for my staff. Wonder where my coffee is. Yell from my office, “If you aren’t dressed when I get out there I will throttle you!”

7:28 – Send first round of reports to staff. Grab cell phone and go freak out on the kidlet for not being dressed. Dress and winterize the kid, throw back pack to him while pouring fresh coffee. 30% chance of picking up contents of backpack that fell out because I forgot to zip it.

7:30 – Herd kid out the door to wait for the bus. Try to drink coffee and smile while dodging snowballs. Why am I not wearing gloves?

7:32 – Shake snow out of my shirt, and review my Trello work lists on my phone to see what the big project of the day should be.

7:33 - Bus! Give my kidlet a hug and a kiss, tell him to be a good person, and to take the bus home, like there is a magical alternative. There IS no alternative to the bus. But I have been saying that every day for 2 years. What in hell is wrong with me?

7:45 – Finish staff reports, realize I still haven’t found my glasses. And where did I leave my coffee?

7:50 – Drink my coffee while wearing my glasses, start playlist and open today’s big work project.

10:30 – Nuke a secret-stash peanut butter pop-tart (breakfast of champions), wonder if I remembered to have the kid brush his teeth.

So that’s it—a typical morning routine. There are variations, of course. Like Crap-I-Forgot-to-Take-Out-the-Trash Wednesdays, and I-Told-You-To-Find-Your-Library-Books-Last-Night Thursdays, but this is pretty standard.

And not Goop-worthy at all. No 20 minutes of meditation or yoga. No snuggle time with the little. No angel tears or spinach steaming. Just get up and go.

But this feels successful to me. Because when we come out on the other side of the day, I have time for snuggles, homework and video games after school. We all eat dinner together. The dog hasn’t frozen to death. My husband and I do a crossword puzzle together while we all watch Teen Titans GO!.

Sooo, I’m winning. Right?

A Lesson in Equality from a Dirty Whore

My hearing tests as perfect.

Hy husband disputes those findings, but it’s been consistent over a decade. My hearing is perfect.

Last night I was messing around with my new-to-me dishwasher, while my son played in the living room. I could hear him talking and singing as he made Mario commit suicide, just for the wah-hoooooooooooos.

Then I heard it.

“Get up, you dirty whore!”

Now, I’m not a headcase about language. I never tell him words are “bad,” but I do teach him that he shouldn’t say certain words out of respect, and to avoid getting into trouble elsewhere.

But “dirty whore” stopped me. Or rather, “whore” did. I went from June Cleaver to Sheila Broflovski in a fraction of a second.

If you don’t know who Sheila Broflovskit is, here you go—it will only take 2 seconds of your time.

“What, what, what?”

“Nothing important,” he said.

“It is important. I know I don’t get mad at language very often, but that is totally not okay.”

He came out in the kitchen and looked at me.

“Why?”

“Because that is a word that a lot of people use to make women feel bad about themselves. It’s not cool. None of those words are okay. People are people, buddy, it doesn’t matter what color they are, what gender they are or anything else.”

He looked puzzled. So I kept going.

“You know that the only thing that determines if a person is good or bad is how they act, right?”

“I know that.”

“Right. Well words like that are used to make people feel like they are bad, or feel like other people think they’re bad. And you never want to make people feel like that, right?”

“Right. Mama, which word?”

“The one you just said wasn’t important.”

“I said, ‘Get that up off the dirty floor.'”

—-

“You did?”

“Uh-huh. You said not to leave the blankets on the floor.”

“Oh. Well, then…carry on.”

Miracle ear.

What?

Turning 40, or How Pie and a Haircut Lead Me to an Existential Crisis.

Do you know who gets a hair cut once a year?

Mountain men. Charles Ingalls. Probably Lewis and Clark.

And me. Somehow this, along with so many other things, has slid into a strange dark compartment I call “later.”

charingal

This is Charles Ingalls. You were thinking of Michael Landon, weren’t you?

I haven’t “let myself go” after becoming a mom. I pushed and pulled and climbed until I lost the baby weight, I eat well (except those peanut butter pop tarts, but we shall not speak of those now), and I still do get all gussied up when I go out.

Which is usually “later.”

Next week I’ll turn 40. But that isn’t some angst-producing, chest-thumping, wail-to-the-heavens-about–old thing for me.

40.

Meh. Just another ring on my tree. I am a fan of rings. They mean I’m not dead yet.

Not dead is good. But somehow I have found myself drifting…out. It started on my last birthday, I think.  It was a craptacular kick-off to a craptacular year of every conceivable part of our world throwing up some obstacle or horror.

We also had some amazing gifts. Amazing.

And through the scary, and the stressful and the you’ve-got-to-be-kiddings we kept going, because that’s what you do.

But we went forward with an iron fist around money, 3 month followup tests for the foreseeable future, and a heaving effort against the inertia that comes from being totally, utterly overwhelmed. And it is exhausting.

I stopped writing. I stopped going out. I just did…stuff. Most of it by rote or obligation. I didn’t even get an ice cream cone once over the summer.

Spontaneous joy had become a relic and I didn’t even notice until I made pie.

Every Fall I take Q apple picking. This year, like we always do, we went home and made pie. And when it was done, it felt incomplete. We had a pie, and apple bars and…

Now what?

Then I realized we had no one to share them with. For the first time in my adult life, I would not be able to slice off a chunk and drive to my grandfather’s farm to share it.

It was his favorite. But his death was just one of the teeth-kickers we had last year.

It made me think about all of the traditions I had growing up, and how death and disaster had taken them all away. With both of my grandparents gone, there was no longer a family hub; no longer a kitchen with room enough for thirty-eight to share a turkey. Or two.

Both of us have lost our fathers, and one mother is far away physically, the other mentally. And we had relied on those homes for our traditions too. On decorating Christmas trees surrounded by framed photos of family, on circular arguments about where to order food.

Those things were good, and comforting, and made us feel like we were home.

And it wasn’t ’til I made that pie that I realized the house we’ve lived in for seven years isn’t really a home. It’s our house. It’s stopped actively trying to kill us, so there’s that, but it isn’t the cozy abode that inspires emotional serenity.

I look around and see the abandoned projects, stopped when money got diverted to the defense project and the school supply list. I don’t see the pictures on the wall that we need, and we have nothing to do to prepare for holidays except figure out what to eat.

It used to be a no-brainer on my birthday. Cottage Pudding Cake. A course, mild cake with a warm glaze of cinnamon and nutmeg. My father made it for me nearly every year, for as long as I can remember. But the recipe, though born of Fanny Farmer, was in his head. And it isn’t in her cookbook now.

The year after he died, my friend, Morgan, rummaged about online and in cookbooks trying to find the recipe, but it seems to have disappeared over time.

I need to build new traditions. I need to find things that comfort me and make me feel like I am home. I need to give that gift to my husband and my son.

It seems that really, I need to think about life. We’ve spent over a decade hunkered down, weathering one storm or waiting for the next.

We’ve lost those small little pieces that build a life, that create a home and glue together our families, ourselves. They were all the things that we would do “later.”

So easy to forget that later is the beast that never comes, yet comes with the every breath..

So for my birthday I am going to do some of those things I’d planned to do later. I’m going to buy some pretty candles and some picture frames.

I’m going to pick a new birthday dessert. (Moody’s banana cream pie, I’m looking at you.)

I’m going to remember the traditions that came from our families and try to find a way to build off them for us.

And maybe, you know, get a haircut.

 

 

 

 

The Spark of Madness

I am mad at the social media peanut gallery. It has only been hours since the news of Robin Williams hit the airwaves, and I have already seen the word “coward” bandied about. More comments about willpower and addiction recovery. And so, so many comments about “snapping out of” depression.

“Snap out of it.” Like you’re in a sad because someone else ate the last cookie. These are words of someone who has never really seen depression. It isn’t sadness. It isn’t a brief tangle with the blues.

It is being haunted. It is an insidious, lying demon that whispers, whispers, whispers in your ear of all that is wrong with you, and with your world.

It is being possessed by a dark nightmare rising up in your soul to block out the light and eat the self that you were, that you are, when you are well.

It is being forced into a quiet Hell of leached color, slain joys and crippled thought. A place that distorts images of happiness into dark reminders of past and future failures. Where a bad moment is magnified into a crushing, suffocating everything.

It is madness. On good days, you might keep the madness at bay. Some shape the madness into art, or humor, or words. Others channel it through physical outlets, pushing themselves to their physical limits.

On good days you become a conduit for madness, instead of its vessel.

MADNESS

But some days the madness is too slippery. There are not enough words, there is not enough strength to beat it back. On those days the demons come and their whispers drown out the laughter of your children, silence the sound of praise and twist your belief in love.

Waking every day with that battle before you, knowing that there will be days that you lose, it not cowardly. It is strong. And it is brave. And it is exhausting.

It is endlessly pushing the boulder up the mountain like Sisyphus—a punishment for the demons’ deceit.

Saying “snap out of it,” or “get over it,” is an unnecessary slap. Telling someone with depression to get over it is like telling someone who is drowning to take a deep breath.

So it that is the best you can offer, here is my advise:

RWSTFUFor those of you in the midst of a battle, remember that we all need help. No single warrior ever won a war. See your doctor, see a psychiatrist, and if you are in the darkest place, contact the suicide hotline.

For those of you that love someone fighting these demons, stay vigilant. Express your love out loud. And be sure that you, too, find ways to bring light into your own lives—when you live with darkness it is easy to close your own eyes.

Related Posts:

Depression Lies – The Bloggess

Thoughts, Musings and Ramblings.

You’re Ignorant

“Shut up, you’re ignorant.”

My brother, 8 years older than myself, used to throw that out while we were young as a means to end any argument or disagreement .

I came to associate that word with being stupid, and I’d hazard a guess that the majority of the US works under the same premise.

That  is stupid. Being ignorant is not.

In case you are unsure, here is a quick definition from Merrium-Webster:

ignorantCompare  that to stupid:

stupidSee the difference?

Ignorant is cool.

What’s cool about being ignorant? Ignorant can be fixed. But like my Dad always said, “You can’t fix stupid.”

But ignorance in some arenas is a problem. In others, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about context.

For example – I am ignorant about 3D printing. I mean, I can’t even wrap my head around it. I’ve read articles about 3D printed guns, printed cartilage (I want some!), and in a mobius strip of crazy, a 3D printer is in the works that can print 3D printers.

How does this work?

One of these days, when I have an internet connection and some free time, I’ll find out. But right now, it doesn’t really matter that I’m ignorant.

But. That cartilage thing has some implications for me. I have a weird, undefined disorder that pretty well results in my cartilage kind of eating itself (not the technical terminology). I have recently been told I need 2 knee replacements, a hip replacement and a tweak out on the artificial hip I already have. And an appointment for a shoulder specialist in August, because I currently have the range of motion on par with a T-Rex right now.

At the moment, my ignorance on 3D printing is no big whoop, because it’s not ready. I’ll go the cut open, sawing and hammering route.

But fake joints have a life span of about 15 years. I will outlive them.  And by the time they are ready for the scrap heap, that 3D printing thing will be on more solid footing. And I will likely have to choose between replacement of the traditional sort, or work done via 3D printing.

Why am I going on about this?

Politics.

Our local governor lately made the news for a smackdown on the Social Security and Medicare folks, calling them welfare recipients. Despite, you know, paying in out of their paychecks for years for the privilege of this whopping monthly payment in the stunning ballpark of a grand a month, their micromanaged care, slow paperwork and 9 month long approvals for wheelchairs.

In discussing this with someone as we talked about the upcoming election, I mentioned the New Deal. We’ll cut through the head-explosion inducing crazy to the stunning ignorance part.

He said, “That New Deal thing was garbage. Never should have been done.”

“But….you’re in a union.”

“So?”

“Well why are you in the union?”

“They stand up to those sonabitches in charge. Without the union I wouldn’t even have my insurance. And even with it, OT policy is shit.”

“Soo, the union is a good thing?”

“Fuckin’ right it is.”

“Yeah, you wouldn’t really have a union, or OT pay, without the New Deal.”

“Bullshit. (There was more here, but that pretty well sums it up).

“Yeah, it’s not bullshit. It was the Wagner Act. It brought back collective bargaining. And there was the whole Fair labor stuff too…OT, 40 hour work weeks and all that jazz.”

The conversation devolved from there, but the take away is that he was ignorant. Which is, in and of itself, not a bad thing. He could read up, get some learnin’. But he is so solidly set in his mind that he won’t. And that is stupid. Which of course, we have already established can’t be fixed.

And it is also why corrupt, out of touch politicians with deep, personal agendas are voted in time after time.

Because all that we are given in stump speeches and carefully constructed press releases is this:

pkgs

But…really, we are ignorant. So most of us will choose the pretty package tied up with bows, rather than taking the time to open the package to see what’s inside before we choose.

But it is what is IN the package that should count.

That pretty one? Often contains this:

snakesWhat comes in ugly old cardboard boxes sometimes?

kittensKittens!

So don’t be afraid of being ignorant. It’s kind of like being naked, only for your brain.

And what do you do when you have to interact the world while you are naked? You get dressed. Problem solved.

So if you are ignorant and about to interact with your world, and make decisions that impact other people, grab a book, or a newspaper and make your brain presentable before stepping outside.

The world will be a better place for it.

 

A Great Mom’s Break Up With Emma Thompson

No, no, no, Emma Thompson. No.

I have always admired you, and have been known to watch films purely because it was your work. You weren’t one of those famous-for-being-famous mouthpieces that I typically abhor.

But then. Then you made this awful, stupid, ignorant statement to the Daily Mail. I found it via the Huffington Post link here. You said, “You can’t be a great mum and keep working all the time.”

And you are wrong. I am a mom and I work too…a lot. I am the primary bread-winner in our 2-parent home, and there have been weeks that I have put in 70 hours, easy.

I am good at my job, too. I am good at lots of things, really—helping people understand complicated things, making people laugh, finding missing objects. I’m a pretty good cook, a good driver and a good friend.

But there is one thing that I am great at—being a mom. I’m not a good one, I’m a great one. I may poke fun at myself and publicly share more moments of failure than moments of grace, but I am great at this. Great.

Like you, I find motherhood “profoundly enjoyable” and love every late night snuggle and morning cowlick. On those weeks when I put in more work hours than I’d like, I miss my son with a deep, frustrating ache that pulls me through the day to the one precious hour I get with him.

That one hour is my divinity. It is light and love and gratitude. And there are some 24 hour moms that never get that.

It’s not the quantity of the hours that make me a great mom, it’s the quality. You may very well be a great mom, too. I have no knowledge on which to base that judgement, and refuse to do so in ignorance. I’d like you to extend me the same courtesy.

Do not assume that because my hours are limited I am not great at this. My time may be limited, but my son is happy, healthy, smart, funny and independent. He is gracious, well-behaved and curious. He stands up for himself and for those smaller than him, and he is gentle with the feelings of others. And his eyes light up when he sees me.

They light up because I am a great mom. He knows he has unconditional love, protection, and guidance. He knows I will show him new things, or make him laugh, or help him with his problems. He knows that when I make a promise that my word is good.

There are so many moms like me. Moms that are stuck behind a computer all day, moms that run restaurants, care for ailing parents, or travel for work. Moms that are great despite those things.

A long time ago, another great mom wanted to share her love of Shakespeare with me. So between her time crunch of caring for her terminally ill husband and working a full 40, she bundled myself and her son into a car to go see Much Ado About Nothing.

It was then that I discovered you for the first time, and where I came to recognize that the players are what bring those old words to life. I even remember the line that made both of those things click. It was a line from Beatrice. “Would my horse had the speed of your tongue.”

I laughed out loud.

Ironic that the speedy tongue that first inspired an appreciation of you and your work is the same device that has soured my opinion of you.