Tuesday, December 31, 2013

champagne wishes and unemployment checks

Hardly slept last night.  Admittedly, the baby kept me up...but my mind was maybe worse.  It's the last night at my in-laws, playing with kids, eating sugar, sleeping in.  And then, everything changes.  It's the last night of 2013 and then everything changes.

Before getting married at 34, I went to a lot of New Year's parties.  I drank a lot of champagne, I wore a lot of high heels, I ate some tamales, and I never had a date.  Now, since getting married I always have a date...I have diapers and breastfeeding and weather so atrocious I'd rather hide inside.

But back to the anxiety.  Tomorrow we drive home and I have to get an estimate and get my car repaired.  I have a legal battle with Iowa unemployment, labor people to call, lawyers to chat with, hearings to fit in.  I have jobs to apply for, my husband's job to apply for, weight to get started losing, a recital in 3 weeks to prepare for.

Eek.

My beautiful son is now speed crawling and the house is not baby-proofed.

So today  I found out I did not get a role in a show I auditioned for.  Perhaps I should have known better than to audition in 2013...a year that tried us so much.  Between us, the battles, the accidents, the child in NiICU, the out of control medical bills, the house fire....how did we make it???there is blessing here though.  I love my husband more than when we started....I kicked and punched my way to better esteem and 30 pound  of weight loss.  I made friends, and now have the most wonderful son ever.

For the first time in five years, I spent Thanksgiving and Christmas with my husband.  What a blessing!
We talked today... a bit with me crying.  We discussed resolutions, and I simply have none.  I think it's so hard to resolve a different behavior when I'm proud of this year's life changes, and I don't have any idea what to expect now.

I resolve that I will hope for something only God could surprise me with.  And I pray for patience.  Patience and a few unemployment checks that my husband deserved in the first place..

Friday, December 20, 2013

A little Bit Disgusting

I have been mulling over in my head whether to talk about my week in this blog post, or to talk about my thoughts on an audition tomorrow.  So here's my week in about two paragraphs.

I was teaching, exhausted, on Tuesday.  I left the school and the road was snowier than I thought it would be.  I saw a green light ahead, and I was going a little under the speed limit.  One woman made a left right before I got into the intersection.  I expected the next man after her to wait.  He didn't, tried to make a left when I had already entered, and I tried to brake, to not hit him, but it didn't work.  He had a truck, I had a car, it's pretty awful.  Had my first trip to the chiropractor ever, and I think I'm developing an ulcer.

I had spent all of Tuesday tracking down the number of students who thought they'd 'just pay me in January' for lessons they took weeks ago.  I had to say over and over again, "my husband lost his job, and twenty dollars matters to us right now."  it was awful and humbling.

The weather is very icy, and hubby and I are afraid to drive out there.  We have already lost one vehicle this week, and are paranoid about losing two.  Tonight, after a long day of hanging out and baking cookies (and students not showing up or cancelling), we received notice at 4:35 pm that my husband's company won the request to not give him unemployment benefits.  This also means we'd have to pay them back for what we've already received.  It would destroy us.  I had to ask my dad for money.  We have to appeal it over Christmas.  Corporations are evil.  EVIL EVIL EVIL.

Ok, so when I think about being young I liked stories of princesses.  Not excessively so, but I am girlier than I think.  I do think that a Christmas stocking should contain earrings and lip gloss.  That being said, I never really saw the appeal in wanting to play a princess.  I have some great pictures of me playing the witch in a play at 5.  There's something very freeing about being the bad girl on stage.  There's something freeing about being a little bit disgusting.

Now, I like costumes that make me look kind of cute.  I'm not that weird.  I like a little bit of awesome hair, and I like makeup. But those characters, complex in their brokenness, a little bit sick, a little bit strange, those are the best.  I loved being Mrs. Lovett....she was so strange, she didn't sing songs of longing, she tried to trick men into loving her.  She ran her own business, and she was a little bit gross.  I loved that part of her.

Tomorrow I am auditioning (if I can calm down this ulcer by then) for the role of the innkeeper's wife in Les Miz.  I get to sing Master of the House with a few dirty gestures and a big, ugly accent.  I will curse, though in life I don't curse.  I feel like after this week, I need it.

I am still dreaming of hurting the people who hurt my husband, and us, after he worked so hard for them, so dedicatedly, so long.  He never stole pencils, he never took lunches, he was so....exemplary.  And yet now the enemy is some big, nameless, faceless corporation.  I guess if you don't have a face, it's hard to have a heart.  And that's a real and scary part of our American world right now.  Lots of missing faces, missing hearts.  Random people online saying horrendous things about each other.  Companies denying a young family the chance to survive financially for what amounts to a few hundred dollars a month (essentially their lawyers' lunches?) in savings.  Disgusting.

BOth of my parents mourning over my situation, offering to help, insisting, and both of them said the same thing to me.  I need to use my gifts, I need to sing, not to forget that I could be the breadwinner here, and when will I get to school to get a full professor's job?  What can I do?  They know how hard it is, two little ones at my feet, at my breast, and hardly a moment for myself.  But somehow, it is true--find your talents, find your center. 

Hubby and I sent the 4 year old away tonight.  We held each other and prayed and prayed.  It was the longest we'd prayed in a while, and it wasn't long enough.  Sometimes 20 minutes without sound in the house is also pretty centering.  Still praying, while hubby kills people on the PS3.  We are doing whatever we can to hold it together.  I guess I do need the audition tomorrow.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Success

One of the first words I use with myself when I am walking down "that dark road" is Failure.

I have failed at singing.  I have failed by still being overweight.  I have failed at never having money, I have failed.

It's a horrible word.  It takes hope and rips it off you, like a bad bikini wax.  It's a word I am avoiding.

But I find another word that is difficult is the opposite word.  Will I ever feel like a success?  And I don't know if it matters if I will ever be a success, and will I ever stop caring if I am one?  I find myself these days, stressed out, ankle hurting, big bang in the back of my car, a bunch of medical bills stacked up on the counter...wondering why I have to feel so incredibly far from being a success.

To me, success means never having to call someone for money.  Maybe that's not right.

Maybe success is having a facebook full of pictures of myself performing.  Here I am, successful, singing.  Maybe success is getting called for interviews, or people from high school sending me emails that say, "wow, can I borrow money?"  I just don't know what it's supposed to look like.

Apparently, all I know is what it's supposed to feeeeel like.  I know exactly what it's supposed to feel like.  Like rest.  Like a big breath, like a sense of confidence and pride and some self-assurance and stuff.  It's supposed to feel like peace?  I think peace.  But then peace is different.

Today I found out I did not get the interview to teach at the local college (that would have been SOOO helpful financially and so much closer and so much less stress than driving my car with 110K miles on it an  hour and a half in the snow to provide my family with $200 a week).  It would have been that.  And so I don't feel very successful.

Then I got out of my car in the snow and stepped wrong, and wrenched my ankle, and now it's a little puffy and it hurts like a mother, and tomorrow I was planning on working out (because I feel like a success when everybody sees that I have the heaviest band in the class, ya know) and I don't know if I can.  I'm a loser, I guess.

I feel so little hope that hubby will get the job I am praying so hard for.  I think you're supposed to pray with faith, assurance, confidence!  I am praying like a groveling beaten-down shelter dog.  I am praying as someone who is absolutely convinced that God has God's plan, but not really so much of a plan for me.  I have kind of let that idea go over the years.  I am fine just being a part of His plan, if that's ok with you.  I want to be used for good.  But I don't have any expectation that whatever I think this "success" feels like comes with the package.

I ended my day crying for five minutes after chickening out from asking Dad for money for the medical bills.  I felt like such a failure.  Crap, I said I wasn't going to use that word.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Rules Change

Well the crying has begun.  It's just me.  Two days of crying in the evening.  I feel helpless.  I miss the days when there wasn't all this mess.  Of course, those days I was single and there was other mess.  For a year now, my husband and I have been saying, "something's gotta give".  He was miserable at his job, I was teaching 50 students a week to get by, we were struggling at every bill, struggling to have friends in this new city (5 years into being here), we didn't have the church we'd prayed so hard to find, it was just tough.  Something's gotta give, he'd say, and I'd put my head on his arm and agree.

And then last night, while I was crying, he said it again.  I looked up and said, "something did give.  The mouth of Hell opened up underneath your news station, swallowed you up and spit you out."  (I really do have a flare for the dramatic).  "you got fired."  He agreed.  It did give.  We were hoping for up before down, but you can't always choose direction.

This morning in the fog I hit a pole with the back of my car.  I knocked out the taillight and dented the bumper pretty badly.  That $500 incident (I'm guessing) stared me in the face and chewed up my insides.  All I could think was, "I wanted Tye to have a better December, and I ruined it."  And then I cried and went inside the house and broke the news to him.

I am a teacher now.  I mean, it took me a few years to admit the transition....I was a singer, and now I'm a teacher.  I'm not crazy about this change in title, though I think I'm good at the new thing. I still think it would be fun to write something grand, or have the time to do a big creative project....but I noticed the other day something that scared me.  In 30 days of giving thanks this month, no music ever entered into the list.  No music.

I don't feel like a music maker anymore.  And I'm pretty sad over this.  Honestly, it's hard to be anything and be a good parent to little kids.  So if you see a celebrity who is really working hard and doing all sorts of amazing things and they've got little kids--they're probably not the best parent.  The every day is so overwhelming.  I don't see this is as "noble".  I still see those titles as stupidly self-congratulating.  I mean, be what you want....be a superstar, be a parent, be a jock, be a comedian, be an accountant.  None of those jobs are more noble than the other by definition, not to me. 

I live day by day by day.  It's how we pay bills, it's how the kids see their world, it's how my relationship looks best.  But my endless journals, written between the ages of 12 and now, all have goals in them.  5 year singer goals.  10 year fame goals.  Songs written in the lining.  I am afraid in marriage and kids that I have lost that girl.

And this all seems like crazy rambling as I struggle to piece together mortgage this month.  Because now this is the thing that is big.  Pay the bills, get to work, stay healthy, try not to hit anything with the car.  My new life goals. 

Years ago a member of my husband's family asked him when he would shape up, quit the news thing and come home and take care of what matters.   I still have trouble liking that person, despite every other pleasant encounter.  Because...his news career, my singing dreams, they matter.  Once you start reproducing, taking care of elderly family members, taking care of each other, the rules change.  Happiness changes.

Everything changes.  Ha....I remember it's the one thing you can count on.  Change.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Take Me Now December

Here's a song I wrote in my early teens.

At the time, it was about addiction and hope.  Now it means other things to me.

It's another day in paradise with you
Your silver lining well secures my storm clouds
My hope's in Jesus

I mourn now for the second unanswered miracle
You're never doing what I tell you to.
It's so intensely crazy, and my skies are getting hazy
Just for today
My strength's in Jesus

Take me now December
I greet you with a passion from the past
The tears I know are almost gone
Take me now December

The winter of my discontent's arriving
The storm clouds are turning white to blue
Oh how I need your love, Oh how I need your love, oh how I need your love

Take me now December....

I thought that I would give up over and over
I learned that you don't change, I don't let go
There's more to this plan, and I don't understand
And here the clouds come again

Just for today
I hold to Jesus

Take me now December
I greet you with a passion from the past
the tears I know are almost gone
Take me now December
Take me now December
Take me now December


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Santa Claus and the month of November

This fall has been so tough.  When I think about it I feel a little sick to my stomach.  I am busy--pressed to make as much money as possible, as my husband lost his job about 2 weeks ago.  They did everything cruelly--filled a file with false charges, treated him like an outcast, sent him home for 4 days without pay before officially firing him.  He deserved none of that.  I suspect it just had to do with money, but it's hard to tell.  And then the last slap on the face--a check with no vacation pay in it today.

Others are suing.  We have heard countless stories of the incredibly unethical treatment of my husband, many things we didn't even know about.  And all I can think is THANK GOD he's not there anymore.  I mean, for the first time in 2 years, no one is witch-hunting my husband, lying to him, lying to us, and making him work on all holidays and his days off.  In fact, they re-posted his job with half the work, probably creating two positions out of his one.  All of this for probably....$8 thousand more a year than a few of the others doing his job?  THe punishment for his experience and his fairly decent contract (far less decent than like...a manager at Target, but still better than the people the news knows they can get to work for nothing) has been severe.  And we have all paid it.

His dog died.  This morning, on Thanksgiving, his grandfather died.  The pain seems so unfair.  But the bottom line is this is the first Thanksgiving I've had with him in 5 years.  And yesterday I caught him quoting funny lines to himself in the mirror.  We are hugging all the time, we are united, we are having so much blessed time as a family, and we may never have this again.  Jobs suck.  Even the good ones, because they keep you from spending time doing things you love without even thinking of money!  This will be a tough holiday season, and giving presents is so important to hubby, but I keep grabbing him by the face and saying to him clearly, 'You being here is better than gifts.'  We are still buying some, but a small fraction of past holidays....we don't have extra.  We will pay bills, we will get the mortgage in and keep the medical bills at bay, but we won't have enough for the perfect present.  We won't.

I have never been a fan of Santa Claus.  For the first time this year, with my daughter excitedly talking about the fictional fat man, I have started to get a sense of the appeal.  Santa--is the magic without the work.  He's the fun, the sparkle, the idea that the things you want don't cost anything.  I know, we are supposed to teach our children gratitude for all the very hard work that goes into everything, and a sense that not every kid gets that much, and blah blah, that's what builds their character.  But damn I miss a Christmas 34 years ago when I didn't know anything cost anything and all that mattered was candy and stuff wrapped in shiny paper.

I told my daughter a story (foolishly) of my getting a puppy for Christmas when I was 12.  I named it Angel.  Of course, in the story, Santa miraculously brings me a puppy.  In reality, my single mom, a year after her divorce, struggling with depression, was sometimes bringing us whatever the change in her purse could buy for dinner, because she had nothing else.  She would pray for something to put on the table (starting my love affair with Taco Bell I'm sure) and I had written some foolish innocent note saying that if I didn't get a puppy I didn't want anything for Christmas.  My mother prayed with friends, where could she find one that she could afford?  She probably worried about how we would take care of it, about so many things with a new puppy.  A few days before Christmas she found one she could afford, helped out by someone who'd prayed with her.  All for me to have the joy of a dog.

My daughter keeps mentioning the story.  In it, there is no cost of a dog.  There is no prayer, no single moms, no heartbreak, no worrying about dinner.  There is only Santa, the great whitewash of Christmas.  And when I think of it, I'm jealous of her.  So then I think, I probably owe her a few years of thinking something comes from nothing.  I owe her maybe a few years of magical Santa....where we are unemployed, and I am piecing together mortgage, and teaching until my fingers cramp up because an extra $20 is another Christmas present is nothing for her to know or think about.  Just pretty things, pretty boxes, candy with no calories, puppies that practically fall from the sky.

Santa, can we please have a great new job too?

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Showgirls

Last night I sat in bed with my 4 year old and insisted we watch Sondheim's "Company" (broadcast on public television, with a great cast).  I'd never seen it, and I needed a break from kidTV, so it seemed like a good idea.

My daughter spent the first 2 minutes crying that it wasn't Disney Jr.

Then after a bit, she was lying on the bed, face in her hands, mesmerized.  She looked up at me and said, "mom, I want to do this."  I wasn't sure what she meant, and she gestured toward the tv.  "You want to be in a show?"  She nodded yes, and said, "just like this.  Like this stage one."  And I smiled, and marveled that this desire could come so young, and then felt suddenly terrified that she might want a life like mine has been...running after a dream that is still as real and passionate as day one.  Though I work on setting it aside, like the desire to eat cake.  You can put it off for a day or two days, or as long as it takes to make sure you get to live life otherwise.

I look at my kids and I want for them exactly what Tina Fey writes to her daughter:
Lord, "Lead [them] away from Acting but not all the way to Finance. Something where [they] can make her own hours but still feel intellectually fulfilled and get outside sometimes. And not have to wear high heels. What would that be, Lord? Architecture? Midwifery? Golf course design? I’m asking You, because if I knew, I’d be doing it."

At the same time, I am touched and proud that I have a daughter who can be completely immersed in musical theater and ballet.  I am touched that she asks about the meaning of song lyrics, and I know that with a mom like me....how are you going to avoid it?  How am I going to talk her into being "less creative" when her weekends are filled with art projects that I adore putting together, because at the end of the day, that's what I want to do?  I just walked into her bedroom to find the tv off and her, peacefully making a "book"....a project I taught her to do on a desperate rainy day, which involves gluing together pieces of colorful paper and drawing pictures on each page, just like a book.  I was so enchanted and proud of her work, and yet some part of me thinks...."not tooo artistic...not tooo ambitious...."

I never know whether to be utterly thankful that I am an artist, that I have had already a lifetime of rich experiences creating and interpreting, or to wish that at the end of the day, I'd wanted to do something a little less turbulent, and maybe take more island vacations. 

The same thing runs through my head while teaching voice.  I feel that their lives are being blessed by each lesson, because you can feel the change in them...you can see the power of what singing does to people, and I'm not sure I could even describe it here.  But I carry with me bitterness, as much as I try to avoid it, for the starry-eyed me, who wanted big theaters full of audiences and often found cold audition rooms with people who had 1000 other singers to choose from and didn't care that it was my best day.

Hard to wish for any of that for my daughter, because all I want for her is the happiest life possible. 

But also, as I know well, it will be impossible for me not to kind of love every minute of my children learning the joy of being an artist.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November, New Hope, and a Time Change

October was hard.  I didn't write too much on the blog, I was just dealing with the blows of life.

But October is over, and November is here.  It started off rough again, but I'm going to assume it's just the dust of October and we will all be fine again.

I call the baby my "Everything's going to be fine" baby.  He was born in such stress!  Difficult pregnancy, sick all the time, in pain, scary and expensive.  Difficult birth, with pretty much the same description, except adding the waiting for him in NICU, the sadness of that.  But now- he's the opposite.  He smiles, even when he's sick.  He laughs by himself and holds his toes and rolls around, and he is a breath of fresh air.  When I look at him, I think, "Everything's Going to be Fine" and amazingly, it has been.  While I don't advocate going out and getting pregnant just to feel better about stuff, sometimes babies have a healing power that I can't possibly describe to you.  He is just pure magic.

I wonder if I can still sing professionally.  Is off the table?  Are those cards gone?  I am still losing weight.  My whole body looks better every day, and thinking about it the other day, I now weigh about 72 pounds less than the day my baby was born.  72!!!  That's amazing.  I am about 10 pounds less than when I got pregnant, and it just comes off, steadily every week.  Since starting Kickboxing, I have lost 28 pounds.  And my whole life people said, "Do this it will help your metabolism" so many times I have completely lost faith that anything could help my dead metabolism, but this has helped it!  I mean....my whole body is functioning differently.

So here's the tie-in with the professional thing.  I know I'm not 20, but when I used to go in to auditions, I unfortunately carried with me this baggage that I might be great, but I was still fat. I couldn't shake giving them (the people listening) a reason not to pick me.  But now, I might have the opportunity to sing an audition someday without that baggage.  I'll be 40.  But 40 is the new fit, right?  (I just laughed out loud).  See, hope?  Hope. 

Wanna hear the power of hope?  My husband is subject to a ridiculous "witch hunt" at work.  A small handful of people want him fired.  They are going to get what they want, I believe.  He's been spoken to by the new boss, who knows nothing of my husband except a list, which might as well be written in his blood, of things that are bad about him, presented by our new enemy, the recent college graduate who was appointed his supervisor last year.  All of that is stress, drama, argument-causing crap.  And all I can think of is that him being fired could be the best thing that's happened to us in a while.  He needs out.  I want a new job.  We both need a new city, I think.  We want a church, we want people who love us and invite us to eat at their houses.  We want weekends together. I am clear on what I want.  And it does not involve teaching so many students to make ends meet that I don't even know how well I could sing, as I end every day talk-sore.

40 is 3 months away.  Maybe it's the new free!  Maybe it's the new faith, the new fit, the new future.  And tomorrow when I wake up for kickboxing it will feel like it's an hour later.  Thank God for little hopes.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Blessed are those who Mourn (for they will be comforted)

Maybe the turn to colder weather has done me in.  I'm just not sure.  Maybe it's the hand-to-mouth week we've had, full of students cancelling when bills refuse to stop coming.  Or maybe it's our 5 month old, rushed to the hospital because his sister dropped him on the pavement, fine of course, but not good for the heart.  Either way, I am just down.

I received a note from the OB that I have sent a check to every month since my miscarriage in June of 2012.  It said, "since you are delinquent in your balance of 382.64 we will no longer be treating you.  Please fill out the enclosed form so we can send your info on to another doctor." Um, I missed the month of August apparently.  One payment out of 17?  I have broken my back to send them money every month.

I read yet another Obamacare-bashing thing.  I don't need to read these anymore.  I promised myself I would stay away from political crap, but this one posed itself as "non-partisan"  hahaha.  I am supremely bothered by the discussion of healthcare without compassion to those who have had none for so long.  No perfect systems exist, but doesn't Jesus weep for the one where we say, "sorry you have pre-existing leukemia, prepare yourself for bankruptcy as well."  We needed another system years ago, but we sat there in our comfy offices watching insurance pay $15k for our fifteen minute trips to the emergency room and we said, "at least I don't have to pay it."  So I weep for that.

I weep for every single discussion we have about gay people that doesn't take to heart the suffering that takes place for years when you have to be a type of different that is literally feared and hated.  It's that end I see, I guess.

I was thinking about mourning--Tuesday was Dari's birthday, and it's been...hmmm...6 years since we lost her.  I was thinking about the way mourning always feels like a piece of you, missing.  It's our world, always missing a piece.  Usually the piece is Grace.  Mercy.  Kindness, that type of stuff.  I've had my fill of good corporate math.  I have had my fill of government shutdown talks, and "nothing is wrong under the sun as long as there's love" talks.  Blech.  It leaves a film in my mouth.  We are supposed to be overflowing in generosity. 

My four year old is insanely selfish.  I mean--seriously, she cannot see beyond her own needs for a minute.  I am starting to anticipate and hate the act of crying and contrition in hopes that I will let her watch tv or give her a cookie.  I want her to see a need in someone else, and what have I done so wrong that she wants to "work" me?  My students are so selfish they do despicable things....cancellations, promises of helping me with something and last minute backouts...and don't get me started on the selfishness humans possess when they don't see the face they're letting down.  Let them suffer if I don't have to know their name, right?  The new rationale seems to be that Americans are SURE if you suffer you must deserve it.  I'm not suffering, we think, and that must be because I've worked hard, I've earned it.  You know what you all need folks?  A career in the arts!  That'll show you how unfair everything is.  The hardest workers get pat on the back and never hired...*sigh*  

But I suppose I mostly mourn myself.  Inside I will always see the potential for the kind person I imagine.  I will hope for opportunities of selflessness that I make excuses not to find.  I am, after all, pretty wretched.  I am not to be excluded from the head-shaking. Pipes, perfectly capable of selfish behavior so appalling it would make you wince.

Thank God there is comfort.  Thank God there is a good so good it makes all this look like a shooting star in a whole starry night.  Hard to imagine this makes me blessed, but I guess it does.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Time and Love (and Jesus Christ Superstar)

I keep starting blog posts and then abandoning them.  I am just going to write whatever I'm thinking tonight, in an oddly sad state, and publish it.  Sometimes you just have to keep going.

I am amazed by the changes in my body, but I am eager to get to the next stage...the stage where I haven't really been.  This is still about 10 pounds more than New York was, but only 10 is just amazing, and after the two babies, more amazing.  I can't wait until 15 pounds from now, where I start to leave NY weight behind.

I've had these moments this week of really missing being single.  I don't want that to come out wrong--I have had also these moments of strange awareness that the thing that works best in my life is my marriage.  I am utterly happy with hubby, pretty much all the time.  I occasionally snap at him, and get frustrated, but I feel such joy in being married to him on a constant basis, so that's definitely not what I miss.  The "men" that I dated in New York often hardly passed for men.  They were often selfish, immature, money-obsessed, body-obsessed and sad.  So what I miss maybe is life before kids.  I miss long dinners with quiet endings.  I miss drinking with a sense that it didn't matter what time I woke up or who would get me home.  I miss walking by myself, feeling unencumbered, light, quick, arms flapping, hair back.  I miss that feeling.  I miss New York's way of entertaining me quietly, and I miss not having a car. 

I miss frequent vacations, and sleeping on people's couches.

I saw a beautiful production of Jesus Christ Superstar this week.  Humorously, at the most intense moment of the show, when Jesus is raised up on a cross--beaten, tired, it's hardly watchable, the teenage girl behind me said, "wow.  this is really sad."  I wondered if she thought this show would somehow have a different ending.

This may be a cheeseball thing to say, but the wonderful thing about seeing a show like that, for me personally, is the reminder that after all the religion, politics, and morality fighting that I feel I have to do in my head every week, Jesus is still my best friend.  He's still the one I talk to all day long.   I adore the idea that he was (and is) the world's best friend.  In that musical, he just walks around with his apostles, they are so drawn to his glory and they don't even understand it, and in return he acts as friend to them.  I think it makes him so entirely different.  It also makes me think about that weird thing people who don't know Jesus tend to say....whenever they feel Christians are being judgmental they say something like, "don't you know Jesus was all about love?" but the truth is he was about every single aspect of your life, like your best friend is.  THat includes calling you out on your crap, and loving even the darkest places of you.  That's just not the same message as "it's all about love".  It's not.

I tell my students in voice lessons that breathing is just like love.  If you use all of it, you find you have more than you thought. 

The worst part of seeing a show is remembering how much I love performing for people.  I am petrified that I have signed up to sing in a faculty recital in January and have done nothing to prepare.  But the mad rush to prepare will be something to look forward to.

I miss how much time I had being single.  Seemed like there were all these weird hours of nothing.  Where did those go?

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Honor, Prayer, Husbands

For the past year my husband has worked for someone who seemed determined to undermine his sense of self-worth.  It started with the two of them arguing about things as simple as how my husband made phone calls.  After 15 years of working in the news, the "new boss" wanted to tell my husband how to make his phone calls.  Then he told him everything he did was sloppy.  He was part of the group that called him in to say that he should come in earlier (he was, at that point, working a 45 hour week with a young child at home and I hated them for that) so that the extra shows they'd given him would be better.

When that boss got "bumped up" after another left, this continued.  Scathing emails were sent every weekend.  Coworkers said "(this boss) is not your friend."  I always feared he would get fired, but that never happened.  Occasionally my husband would catch the boss flip-flopping, yelling at him for the very thing he'd asked him to do.  Blaming hubby for choices that he himself had made.  Most recently, it got difficult in new ways.  He decided not to give my husband as much time off over Christmas to travel with his family.  He hired someone just out of college to be my husband's direct supervisor.  She had barely done for a year what my husband had for 15, but she got his promotion.  We recently found out that he had even decided not to "approve" any of my husband's applications for other jobs within the company, saying my husband wasn't good enough to get those.  Our hopes for finding another job to finally get my husband some recognition seemed temporarily dashed.

Being someone's spouse is such an intense desire to see that person happy.  And their depression, their stress, their health problems are all yours.  I had dreams about this boss--confronting him, beating him up.  I wanted so much to shut him up, to get rid of him.  It was not just the boss but those he hired who seemed to be in a club against my desperately hard-working husband, a man who came home drained physically and emotionally.  I missed my husband more and more, and with that, the boss became more of the enemy.

This week hubby was called on his day off and told he had to come in to work for a meeting.  This happened once every 6 weeks or so and made me so angry.  I sat in a mall, because hubby was called in while we were out together, and didn't have time to go home and get my car.  The two kids ran over me in the play area, but it was over quickly.  Hubby called.  The meeting was simple.  The boss was fired.

News is one of the last jobs, it would seem, where people get fired all the time based on performance.  So much of American jobs now want to be so "positive" that they don't fire for bottom lines anymore, but in the news, they can fire you for anything!  And so boss was already sitting in his house for 2 days.  He was out.

Hubby's first reaction was so different from mine.  My reaction was immediate relief.  Fear of the next boss, joy to be rid of this guy.  Hubby's was to feel bad for the boss, as he knew what it felt like to be fired himself.  He knew the pain.  THe next morning, when the boss posted to facebook that he'd been crying over drinks all day, hubby sent him a long personal message.  It was encouraging, with no trace of the last year of this guy being a total jerk to him.

This is a big reason why my husband is the person I chose as my partner.  His sense of honor and empathy is incredibly strong.  He is sometimes my hero.  That night we prayed for his boss.  I started the prayer, and afterward my husband said, "thanks for doing that."  I said, "it wasn't easy." and he acknowledged that.

The boss required with the message, "Thanks.  I know we've had our difficulties.  You're still the best breaking news producer I've had."  His one compliment for my husband, which he'd heard before, might be the thing he remembers best.  But more likely it's that my husband wrote him a kind message at the end.

And I pray this boss learns to encourage from my husband.  I pray he learns what it is to treat someone with the kindness you wish you had.  I pray the next boss loves hubby for his character, like I do.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Scrambling (Or Why I Miss My Sister)

I am not someone who misses people generally.  I know it's hard not to miss children--they grow and change so much, and they forget you!  But adults, I guess I have never missed.  I make sure I see people I love frequently, whenever possible.  I might see ice on a tree, or a red bird, and miss someone, but I don't pine, long, or any of those things.  For years I thought this was a bad thing, and now, generally, I feel grateful for it.

My sister just left.  She was here for a week.  This was following my mom being here for about 2 weeks, and my in-laws for the week before that.  And I miss my sister.  I forgot what it was like to chat all day, to have someone agree with me about lots of things, and to have someone look at my clothes and say "damn you look thin" or "don't wear that again, it's not flattering."  I spend a lot of time in Iowa missing that.  I believe I have friends now, but I miss that kind of trust and intimacy.

And husbands, however good, are pretty bad at that.

The other day I looked at my husband, feeling worried about recent nutty behavior.  I said, "I'm not crazy am

I?" and he smiled and started to kiss me.  I pulled back, mad.  I said (off the top of my head)  "You are supposed to say, 'no dear, you are the glue that holds my life together but sure, you have crazy moments like everyone else'."  He won't say that.  Unfortunately you can't give people scripts.

I have not worked out childcare.  I am working this week, and I still have days with no childcare for my infant. I have tried for M O N T H S.  I can't believe how hard this is!  You don't want to pick someone off craigslist, you don't have the money to pick anyone, you have weird hours, no one wants a part-time kiddo.  IT BLOWS. 

You know what I want to be thinking about?  More singing.  I want to practice.  I do not want to be calling women who do at-home daycare and trying to investigate if they will secretly smoke around my child.  I don't want to be scrambling for cash to pay the teenager I found who can do it today.

I'm off to kick and punch right now.  I'm dreading it, as always, but I know I'll come home feeling positive.  I just wish someone would be waiting for me at the door, wanting to chat, offering to watch my kids, cleaning my living room.  I want a wife, I think.  Is that too much to ask?

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Without, Within

I sat tonight, in a rallying awards ceremony for the fitness program I have started and become addicted to.  I thought I might win $1000, because my entire body had changed.  In 10 weeks I weigh 17 pounds less, I have fewer inches on my body, and I can run a mile in less time than when I started.  The biggest feeling of accomplishment is that I can do "real" pushups now.  I can do "real" situps.  Doing something you didn't know you could do is amazingly empowering.

When I was 25 I would have done anything for a "thin pill", a simple, painless way to be the person I thought would be happy and loved.   (the skinny person, if you don't know) and what a journey I have been on, that now I am that person, and just have the body, the shell of myself to change.  I want to be fit, healthy, diabetes-free.  And I want to be proud of the work I've done to wear a smaller clothing size.  Not some perfect, idealized size.  Just the size the healthy me was meant to wear.

Is that rambling?  Re-reading it, it's what I wanted to say, but it sounds pretty confusing.

I guess what I'm saying is it's not the result, it's the work.  We knew that though, right?

So I didn't win, which didn't feel bad, except for the girl who won lost 30 pounds in 10 weeks.  Who does that?  All those years of fad dieting, starving, and I could never lose weight like that.  It makes me think of those who get the first thing they audition for.  I mean, yeah, they practiced, but why does my road have to be so much longer, so much slower?

One thing that separates me from, well, everyone, is that I love to speak publicly.  As each winner went up, they asked people to give an impromptu speech.  The horrified winners gave awkward, random speeches with an odd amount of cursing in them.  My speech, written in my head, that I never got to give is this:

I have tried everything.  I have painfully gone through fad diets and years of "working out" 5 days a week, and barely losing.  I wondered what I was doing wrong, and I just wanted so much to be healthy.  When 4 years ago I got pregnant, I found out I had diabetes.  I thought I was big but healthy, but everything changed when I had to be a 36 year old woman with diabetes.  I was officially unhealthy.  When I kick or punch a bag in this class, I picture those drugs, that diagnosis, and I punch the hell out of them.  I picture the horrible pregnancy, I picture all the things I wish I could do, all the swimsuits I have never gotten to wear, all the beaches I've never run on, and all the airplanes whose seats were just barely big enough to hold me.  I punch, and kick, and pull myself off of the mat.  And every time I get through that class, I win.  I win every time I eat mindfully, every time I guzzle water.  I win.

(end of speech)

And then it occurred to me halfway through the rally that maybe God brought me all the way to Iowa just so I could do this thing.  Just so I could finally get this prayer answered, that my life would change, that I'd toss the meds, that I'd run on beaches and kayak and look at myself in mirrors.  Just for a brief second, I thought it.   Maybe it was God's thought.  Crazy, small, snowy Iowa.  And all my future seemed possible.

The Step 3 Prayer from AA

(not crazy about the "old language" but still my favorite pre-written prayer)

God,

I offer myself to thee, to make of me and to do with me as thou wilt.  Relieve me of the bondage of SELF, that I may better do thy will.  Take away my difficulties, so that victory over them may bear witness to thy power, thy love, and thy way of life.

May I do thy will always.  Amen.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Five Hardest Things About Believing

“You can safely assume you've created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.”
Anne Lamott

I am starting this off with a quote by the brilliant Anne Lamott.  I feel like I should re-read her book on having a baby, now that I've had one.  But just for now, here's something on my mind this week.  I have read recently that being on facebook is bad for your mental health--and I understand that. For me, I can only enjoy that cesspool if I keep certain rules for myself.  I don't take anything personally, I never argue with people I don't know, and I assume people's lives are worse than they look on facebook.  It works pretty well actually.   Mostly, I like the pictures anyway.  I'm not a cat person, but I'd rather look at cat pictures then read yet another post insulting or judging an entire group of people ANY DAY.

And I don't really find any group of people exempt.

So here are the five hardest things about believing.

Thing one:  When you truly believe something, you are held responsible for EVERYONE else who says they believe it.  And in every group of people who believe something, there are people who are really annoying.  This reminds me of going (years and yyyyears ago) to hear Gloria Steinem speak.  She said some good things, some awful things, some in between things.  But when she asked people to stand up with questions (and most questions were just compliments) one guy stood up and suggested (no sense of humor, no tongue in cheek, really suggested) that we all live in a utopian environment where men were beaten for misbehavior and women ruled, and children were all ruled by the group.   See?  Every belief, someone who's kinda crazy.

Thing two:  There is suddenly a standard you don't control.  You cannot change the standard on your own once you believe it.  You can't say, "uhhhh, I know I said that I was going to follow this plan but I've decided to morph the plan so that what I did yesterday was not failing so much as the NEW plan"  No.  This is not believing.  This is playing by the seat of your pants.

Thing three:  When you really believe, it grows without your control.  One day you believe, you take steps to move forward, you commit to the plan, and then ten years later, your belief is either gone or it's wayyyy bigger than when you started.  And you have to love that, or I guess...leave.

Thing four:  Not everyone you love will believe what you believe.  And if everyone you love does, than you probably are kind of narrow-minded.  Because we are meant to be challenged.  If you can't think of anyone you love who votes differently than you, seriously, you need to look at that.  We are meant to love beyond what's comfortable.  At least, that's what I believe.  HAHA

Ok, that leads me to thing five:  What you say matters when you believe.  This is the worst thing.  If you don't claim to believe anything, your words can be quicksand.  They aren't always your heart.  And truthfully, I think we all say things we regret, we don't mean, we hate that we said.  Some things I have said (and have been said to me) haunt me terribly.  But what's worse is knowing that everything I've said has to be heard as something real.  And I don't take that lightly.

It has always bothered me that the Westboro Baptist Church gets to use the word "Baptist".  I mean, I'm not Baptist, but man I have known so many wonderful people who live loving lives, and are.  As someone who believes, and therefore knows the feeling of being held responsible for what another group says, I feel the pain of seeing that tag on so much hate.  I ask my husband, 'can't they sue for their name back?' but probably not.  You just have to trust in the justice at the end.  Trust, that might be thing number six.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Saturday Inventory

It's Saturday, and I have nothing to do.  I had to get up early (after going to the movies with my husband, crazy) and workout today.  After that the crashing began.  Baby's been asleep, and the blessed part of my 3 year old being in Michigan is that I can spend a whole Saturday sleeping.

Not that I don't feel guilty.   It's a beautiful day, the house is a mess.  I should be doing anything but resting.  That's my inner voice.

Every so often, my schedule of teaching, getting up every few hours at night to feed a baby and waking up early to kickbox for an hour catches up to me.  I am so exhausted I think there might be something medically wrong.  I guess lack of sleep is medical....with a fairly easy fix.

In addiction recovery, one of the main practices is "taking inventory".  It's a fantastic way to deal with your day.  Things aren't going well?  Stressed?  Pissed off?  Want to eat a whole cake?  Take inventory.

Who am I resenting?  Who am I REALLY resenting?
Have I been trading good snacks for bad?  Am I playing with what is good for me, replacing it with what's bad for me?
Do I have unrealistic expectations?  Am I seeking approval? 

All that kind of fun stuff.  It makes your bad day your choice, I guess.  And that's the opposite of addiction, where everything happens TO you, and the only thing you can do is run to that thing you're addicted to to make you feel better.

I am obsessed with the scale, and it hasn't budged in almost 10 days.  I am not supposed to be weighing myself.  All my clothes are looser, I did 20 sit ups, by myself, for the first time in my whole adult life!  All the way up!  Nobody holding my feet.  I am grateful and confident in that moment, and in the very next, freaked out that I haven't lost weight.

When I was 15 or so, I wrote a paper for school about how the bathroom scale was the God of my house growing up.  Here is my challenge....put the real God in its place.  There is true good, true forgiveness, love, hope, and change.  There is something better for me than the judgment of a scale.  But it is so hard to un-learn the things that were already cemented in my head at age 15.

Ok, now I'm realizing I need more of a nap.  Tomorrow is my day of rest from working out.  From thinking about food.  I can't wait.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Love in the time of Parenthood

I complain a fair share about my children. 3 year olds are damn-near impossible, if you don't know.  They have a list of demands a mile long.  Mine knows she is right about everything, and I am wrong, and she would love to tell you.  She sings all day long, endless made-up songs with no identifiable melody.  She asks me 'why' about things that do not have a freaking why.  Why is it 7pm?  I do not know!  She makes messes, vomits at odd times, climbs in my bed regardless of how many people are already in it, and sweats and kicks.  She wakes up at 4am occasionally and asks for pancakes.  After all of that, she complains. 

I also have an infant.  He has just started making eye contact. Other than that, I am a constant source of milk, and something that makes him more comfortable.  It is a hard time, before the first hug, the first "I love you", the first "mama".  Infancy, ugh.

So occasionally someone hears my complaints and says, "but you enjoy them right?  You love them?"  And this is a ridiculous question.  The problem with parenthood is I adore them.  I mean, seeing your children happy is fulfilling on a spiritual level.  It's like choking on a freaking rainbow.  It's beyond good.  As I typed this, my 10 week old spit out his pacifier, staring at me, to give me a rare ear-to-ear grin.  I can't describe that joy.  It is literally an indescribable feeling.  More so than a first kiss or a great job.  It's just satisfying.

I am the first to say that there is no biological imperative to kids.  If you can avoid it, do.  My body is a wreck.  My time is no longer my own.  I realllly miss pooping by myself.    I don't want to go anywhere that serves "nuggets" but I give in, I do.  I miss girlfriends, high heels, wine, smoking hookahs, and watching movies that have scary parts.

My daughter, not yet 4, has chosen to spend 3 weeks with her grandparents, and I am so rejected.  I sometimes don't realize how much I need her to tell me she needs me.  And now I feel like a hypocrite, for all the times I thought of parents, 'how can you be so insecure?'  I still want her to be independent, have friends, but to think she doesn't long for me is somewhat excruciating.  All of my "freedom" is only kind of worth the pain of missing her and wondering if she misses me.

Why do I miss her if she is so difficult?  And why did I have children?  I am so confused.  Love is so bothersome.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Soul Food

Here's an odd confession.  As a person with strong faith, the thing I find hardest to buy is the idea that we are more than just meat.  Human beings often seem to me...just like instinctual animals.  I find people predictable, usually in a sad way, and the idea of "spirit" is hard for me to accept.  Do we really have souls?  Imprints of some sort?  The idea that we go somewhere when we die has always been so strange to me, like the stuff of science fiction.

In the here and now, I feel like I have seen time and again the presence and power of something bigger than us.  But we, as people, seem so incredibly limited.  We have believed, for what seems like forever, that there is more to us than just our human bodies, that there is something spiritual, magical, a life that starts at some point, and is essentially sacred...and even people who don't believe in God, at least the way I do, they often believe that people are more than what you see.

But I am confused by that, I guess.  One thing that is true about me, however, is that I can be "lit up".  Things sometimes make me happy, unexplainably, throughout the day.  When I sang in Sweeney Todd two years ago, every day was as happy as a kid's balloon.  Nothing could get me down.  And when the Chicago audition was a major disaster, I was not myself for weeks.  Once in this state, it feels like I can't be mobilized, I can't be happy.  On Monday, I was in the car with my husband, giving him a speech about how things will get better for us financially...I mean, we are both people who are highly trained, with an enormous amount of experience and who love what we do.  SO at some point, a job that pays more than say, a manager at Kmart might earn, should be out there.  It's not just hoping, or trusting, it's logic, it's bound to happen.

My husband touched my leg with the back of my hand, an odd gesture he makes when he thinks he might get in trouble for something, and said, "Please don't take this the wrong way, but since you started doing this morning exercise, you are more yourself, you are perkier than you've been since Baby S was born four years ago, it just...fits you."  And I popped out of my positive diatribe and said, "of course."

I am not just exercising these days, I am clean.

You know what the problem is with addiction?  It makes everything worse.  Subtly, secretly, just having a little extra ice cream for me drives me deeper into a state of not being happy.  Painful as it is to not have it, and trust me, it's painful, it holds me down, makes it harder to say that things are going to get better, and makes it harder to love my husband despite his big bag of flaws.

So feeling clean, forcing myself to do the stuff that I was made to do, somehow surprisingly supplies me with the power to move forward and believe better things are coming.  And also reminds me there is a Master of this soul.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

First Days

I have been thinking all week about the phrase "the first day of the rest of your life".  I am easily inspired, I think, and have started a million diets, a million practice regimens, and multiple life changes.   Each time, I felt like it was the first day of the rest of my life (which implies that it will change what you've had to deal with and give you a new hope, a new direction).  Sometimes I was right, and sometimes wrong, but the day always felt the same, you know?  I didn't have like a "special tingle" when it was one that was going to work.  I always believed it in my heart!  I just couldn't predict what would change me.

I think about meeting my spouse.  Now, seeing him in the airport for the first time, that was the first day of the rest of my life.  But it kind of felt like just meeting some poorly-dressed dude in an airport.  I did not swoon, I did not feel like my prayers were answered.  A week later, I probably did feel that, but mostly I just thought, "huh, I'm really happy with this man" and that was unusual.  And that didn't feel so inspiring.

I have wanted my whole life to be thin.  Good lord, I talk about it here so much.  It occupies such a significant part of my little brain.  At this point, "thin" to me means 1. No diabetes meds and 2. not shopping in "plus size", and a million other little thoughts and goals that change over time.  I am hoping I'll be able to recoginize the goal when I get there.

So this month I started two things that I'd like to be a part of the rest of my life.  I started an eating and exercise program called Farrell's, which involves kick-boxing and strength training, led by a coach, every morning at 7.  It also involves being coached by other members, and planning menus and writing down food.  I LOVE it.  On the first day (of the rest of my life?) I showed up and all I could think of was the massive allergic reaction I was having.  Swollen right eye, blisters on my chin, a horrifying rash under my breast and on my hip, and a general sense of "oh crap this is awful."  Is that the way first days go?

I started practicing voice the week before and the first day was scary.  The second day was better, the third day even better.  I determined I have 4 days a week when it's easy to practice, so I better do it.  And here's my new life....emailing someone I just met with everything I've eaten, waking up at 6 to pump breastmilk and workout like a fiend, and practicing on my breaks while teaching.

I feel utterly fantastic.  I feel so happy I could cry.  My body feels good, I can't WAIT to see the doc in 9 weeks for my diabetes check up.  I can't wait until tomorrow's leg strength training class.  It's the 5th day of the rest of my life?  Or something like that.

I guess what I feel is that if you don't have a LOT of "first days of the rest of your life" you eventually die of boredom, right? 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Organic Living

34 days since my last post.  Wow.  So, when they say babies take over your life, they're right.

I have a 5 week old son and a daughter turning 4 in August.  She seems like she might as well be 14 at this point--she can do everything!  Yesterday she made pudding in the kitchen while I called out instructions as I breastfed the baby.  She did a decent job.  It was lumpy, but she is 3, after all.  She is the poster-child for ultra verbal children, and uses words that I find impressive in adults.  She is easy to understand, crystal clear, and writes songs all day long.  A lot of that sounds like me as a child, except that she is very social, and I wanted to crawl in the closest corner for me-time most of my childhood.

The 5 week old doesn't have too much personality yet.  He mostly likes to sleep and eat.  He poops a lot.  He is holding his head up when he wants to and he really doesn't like having his diaper changed.  He loves being cuddled and warm.  That's about it so far.

I want to say this week I've read a few things about parenting.  I have no idea why, as a rule I do NOT read discussions, articles or advice on parenting.  I think they're kind of crap.  I find that they're either the Christian ones, written by 50 year old white guys who have no similarity to me in terms of background, or they're written by "sassy" young women who have a totally different idea of who their children should be.  I guess I like funny stuff about parenting, and that's the end of it.

In my opinion, parenting is an organic experience.  Every child is different, and no parent knows what they're doing.  My chief (and possibly only) goal is to pray for my child, be driven by that, to make choices that give her/him more opportunities to have structure and be even-tempered, and to make sure they know that I love them endlessly.  All of that changes every day.  THe goals are there, but the way I reach them may change 100 times.  And I don't think that's wrong. I want them to show me a person I couldn't have imagined, not some "ideal person" I've created. I'll confess, I worry a lot about food, because the great heartbreak of my life has been my battle with weight and food and self-image.  But I also know the best way (of course the hardest too) to help them is to work on myself and make sure they see that it's possible to eat well and love yourself without being obsessed with either.  God help me there.

The other thing I need to somehow do organically is start singing again.  I cannot get freaked out about these notes not coming because I know it will only make me more freaked out.  I still can't believe how I didn't think twice about having easy B flats two years ago, when now I am struggling to hit an A that sounds different from screaming.  There must be some answers, but I know the easy one is to practice.  THis week I have had 4 days of practicing, and the last day was far better than the first, making me think, "hey, maybe this practicing thing DOES work".  Easy does it.  One day at a time, all of that stuff.

You know that Indigo Girls lyric that says "the less I seek my source for some definitive, the closer I am to fine?"  I have spent a lot of years wondering what that meant.  Is it an anti-Judeo-Christian sentiment?  Is it just basically a way of saying "relax?"   Maybe it's like "there's more than one way to skin a cat?" 

I haven't decided....but I think for me, I am closer to happy when I seek God for what I need but accept that it can change, that I can change, that the way to arrive at good parenting or good singing or any of that stuff is to make sure I let it move me as much as I move it. 

Ok, I am going with that.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Birth Story

I just read through the post I wrote 6 days ago, on my way into the hospital.  I don't know whether to laugh or cry reviewing the last week, really.  It depends, I suppose, on what time you ask me.  Today is our last day in the NICU (a term I didn't know before I had a baby of my own).  I guess I have a pretty intense birth story now, so before I forget it (the way I forgot my daughter's) I want to write it down.  I wish I'd blogged every day here, but physically I think I just needed the time to try and heal, to get myself back.  I am not yet back, just feeling like I'm ready to write it down.

On the way into the c-section I was so miserable.  I could barely walk, and I know pregnant women say that, but the immense, immense pressure of the front of my body was so different than the first pregnancy.  I had gained something like 60 pounds, I could feel a burning pressure at all times on my bladder, a numbness in my crotch which I can't even explain, pain in my legs, swelling in my hands, a constant feeling like I had to throw up, and even lying there, waiting to be "prepped" I found the pain of lying (in any position) completely unbearable.  It left me unable to breathe.

I had my question for the doctor.  Can we please avoid mag sulfate?  He said he would try, and said it actually looked like there would be no need, he just couldn't guarantee it.  I took it.  If I could avoid the two days of horror I endured on that drug during the last birth, it was worth trying.

I cannot describe how surreal it is to have a c-section.  You get wheeled on a bed down a long hall, and have no sense of where youre going.  Once you get there, it is almost unbearably cold, and you're in a little thin gown, fully exposed, paper hat on, while your husband waits in another room.  The anesthesiologist tries to calm you down and is generally funny, relaxed (must be a prerequisite for that job).  He numbs you, and gives you a shot, and then slowly you feel your body lose feeling. They move you to a super skinny bed, with barely room for your bottom, and places to put your hands.  I couldn't feel my hands either.  But I didn't know if that was from the swelling or the anesthesia.  I felt nervous, and weird, and aware of the number of people in that room.  There's the nurse with the pretty eyes, the joking anesthesiologist, the guy who's going to check the baby and the assisting him.  Nurses who will assist my doctor, and my doctor standing aloofly in the background, waiting for this prepwork.  I am only somewhat aware of my body being pretty fully exposed, waist-down to this room of people.  Mostly I feel so good being numb, having been in so much pain for the end of the pregnancy.

The husband is brought in.  He attempts to be reassuring, and they tell him the camera is ok.  He goes into "photojournalist" mode this time, and I miss a little the way he was my counselor the first time.  He takes my hand, but I barely feel it.  The surgery begins.  I feel nothing, but their goal is to not lose time once I'm open.  I hear the remarks, "wow, this is a lot of fluid, the uterus is very distended" and then something along the lines of "we need to get more of this fluid" and then the voice of the doctor gets more and more tense.  I have a vague feeling that things are not going perfectly, he is barking at the nurse a bit, "no, don't hold it there.  Support the head.  No!  The other side."  and a few seconds later, "this camera is driving me crazy" and my husband has been moved further away from the table.  I can hear the doctor sweating.  There is a clear moment when the baby is out, but unlike my daughter, no "crying goat".  No screaming.  Just waiting.

I hear the baby grunting, groaning, and then finally after about a million minutes, a clear, loud cry.  I look over at him, and he's pink, and he's got oxygen, and he seems ok, and I have no sense of emotions, like the first time.  I just feel relieved.  My doctor says he didn't see hair, and my husband corrects him.  There is laughing, because the baby has a lot of hair.  Then my happy doctor apologizes to my husband.  He feigns a bit of interest in me, he tells me, "i know that was just a minute but it felt like 5 hours" and he starts the stitch-up.  The neo-natologist says "we need to take him to NICU" and I acknowledge sadly there will be no face-to-face, no breastfeeding in the recovery room.  I'm nervous, but also vomiting from the medicine.

Wheeled into the recovery room, I vomit more.  I talk, I can't wiggle my toes, but they say that's ok.  Feeling comes back into me and it means a lot of itching.  My fingers are moving, but not well, and there's that darn IV that I don't want to rip out.  No baby.   Finally, eternally later, I see him, and hold him.  He has tubes in his nose.  The doc says he will be ok, but his lungs don't quite seem ready.  Tubes in his nose, IV in his arm, just like me, but I need to vomit, I need to close my eyes.  I can't really relate to him as these drugs wear off and take their toll.

The next few days were the hardest part.  The wonderful neo-natologist tells me it will be one of two options.  Either 48 hours in NICU, or 7 days.  And then the news that it won't be 48 hours.  He has "watery lung".  It's not very unusual.  It can happen in c-sections.  My OB comes to me and just says "it's the diabetes" but of course after several days in the hospital I learn how stressful the birth was.  The fluid was far more than any mother anyone in the hospital remembered seeing.  Over 4.5 litres of fluid.  If they hand't created a huge plastic bag to catch it all in, it would have flooded the operating room.  The rush of fluid, at the first incision, started pulling him out feet first.  We knew he was breech, but couldn't predict that the head would be stuck, the last to come out of a distended uterus, and honestly, though the fluid could have caused his time in NICU, so could a few big gulps of fluid into his lungs while the doctor attempted to wrestle him out.

Hubby spent every night in the NICU while I was forced to recover down the hall.  As soon as I could get on my feet, I was up, walking down the hall, just wanting to be with him and the baby.  Waking up each morning in that room by myself was excruciating.  The walk down the hall alone made me feel better.  I did the first one too early, and had nurses hold a bucket while I vomited my way down there.   The baby made me feel hopeful by trying to nurse for 5 minutes once, but then days went by without him being able.  I pumped, and pumped and went through the healing of the c-section, the bizarre diabetes management of the labor & delivery unit, and every day he got just a little better.  He seemed fragile, panting, tubes in his nose, IV in his hand, monitors on his chest, and every time his oxygen levels went out of acceptable, an alarm went off and a nurse came in.

On mornings when the baby seemed better my husband would come running down the hall, grabbing me to say, "he might be ready to nurse," and I'd try, and we were quiet partners in that.

Then I was released as a patient, and moved into his room.  My husband went home, looking as worn out as I'd ever seen him.  I would actually miss walking down the hall and finding Dad holding the baby, half asleep in the arm chair.

You cannot anticipate this feeling, of knowing, logically, your child would probably be ok, of dealing with the emotions of just having a baby, of reporting to teh nurses whether you've pooped yet, when all you really want to do is know that nothing was your fault, that nothing could have gone better.

The care of this NICU was so wonderful.  They never tried to keep us from being parents.  They allowed us to hold him when we wanted, they fed us good food and chatted with me to delay the other feelings.  And oddly, I felt amazing.  I am weaker, sure, having just had surgery, but the weight of the world has been lifted from my tummy, from my legs, and my swollen hands.  My blood is moving at its old pace again, no crazy pressure.  My blood sugars don't need as much help.  I am a real person who can walk and bend over, and THANK YOU LORD--SLEEP.  I can sleep on my belly and my side and my back! 

In one split moment, he got better, just as the NICU doc (did I say how amazing he was?) said.  Looking at him now, he is "wireless" as my husband says.  No IVs, no monitors, no tubes, just hungry, sleeping baby.  Last night he nursed for 50 minutes and passed out, milk drunk.  I adore him, I find, and 5 days with him here has helped me feel it.  I actually feel grateful for this time.  Nothing else pulls me from studying my baby here. 

We are about to be discharged.  Tonight is tying up loose ends, packing, heading home.  He is sweetly sleeping, though I'm about to wake him up to eat.  I feel insanely emotional, like I can't possibly face a change so big as walking out of the hospital, and how will I not panic as I listen to him breathe each night? I feel more overwhelmed than I thought, but I am one of the lucky ones, and I know it.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Birthday

Today will be my son's birthday.

32 years ago I watched my mom give birth to my youngest sister in my bed.  It is an experience I am grateful for.  It wasn't traumatic, it wasn't really "magical", I was 7.  It was normal.  I walked with my mom down the hall as she used the toilet 20 minutes later.  She winced from pain, but it didn't devastate her.  And I think that memory shaped my whole view of birth.  Women have babies, easily, with a little assistance.  It's not a secret, or a medical mystery.  Doctors are kind of...on the side.

Today I have my second "high risk" birth.  The term still leaves a taste in my mouth I don't like.  I want to write a great big story about how I sweat and screamed, and the baby popped out (as my daughter says) and I grasped him to my chest and every moment is as memorable as the first time I stepped on stage.  That won't exactly happen.

If I've learned anything in life it's that my expectations are more likely to ruin things than make them better.  Every year millions of people create an expectation of Valentine's day that it's going to male them feel whole, which ruins the day.  I mean seriously we all hate that day now, drowned in Expectations.

I read a few blogs this morning about peace in caesareans..

I prayed, and I reviewed how I can take this day back.  Sure my body has its problems, but ny daughter was easily conceived, perfect at birth and wonderful now.  God brought me to a park yesterday, where I met a woman whose 4 year old has had 2 open heart surgeries and a kidney removed.  She smiled and hugged him.  She was grateful and funny, and not caught up in comparing herself to all the moms with healthy kids.

Poor me.  She. Never said it once

This day is my 2nd miracle.  It doesn't have to be perfect, or lib  up to some lifelong homebirth expectation.  Thank God that although I have a disease that is the number  one cause of maternal death in undeveloped countries, there is a surgical option that will put a healthy baby in my arms.

And then I can get back to worrying about how to sing more often.

Sorry, Lord.  We both knew I had to say it.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Hippy Allure

I have had such a rough morning that I am choosing to shove it aside and deal with it later.  A large part of this involved once again having a huge corporation tell me I owe them a tiny amount of money (to them), which amounts to more than I earn in two months, and that there's nothing I can do about it.  That I couldn't have prevented it (though I tried) that I had no option (though doctors scared me into it) and that now I would either have to face the great CREDIT killer fears that everyone who is halfway down the income line lives under.  I am more than responsible....I'm like the crazy responsible kid who gives themselves hernias trying to do the right thing, sometimes.  But I am not immune to the dark and evil hand of greed that we are part of.

Anyways, that's the ranting section of this.  I called a few people.  My mom, who panicked about my blood pressure and offered me money, which I don't want to take.  I talked to my sister, whose perspective earning twice what I earn is that it's awful, unfair, but just not enough to get worried over (her lawyer bills alone from dealing with a crazy ex have given her some major perspective here), and my lifelong friend, who repeatedly called them f*ckers and shared my incredibly harsh view of the "man" for a few minutes.  It all amounted to some good crying time, and a chance to try to imagine how much worse it could be.

My lifelong friend has always had some different perspetives from me.  We have so many views that over time have caused almost a polar opposition to some thoughts.  But deep inside, we are both children of hippies.  And I have to be honest, everything good comes from hippies.

I mean--all that wonderful garden food, clothes made out of breathable fibers, diseases cured by eating healthy, not wearing bras, not spanking your kids, hating to hear them cry....not wanting to go to war, hoping to find some common ground with everyone you meet (which unfortunately often seems to require letting go of what you actually believe), that's the stuff of our hippy parents.  Vegetarian Mondays, people who talk slower, sandals, not bathing as much, accepting yourself for who you are?  Hippies.

Nowadays I find people who think of themselves as hippies unbearable.  I mean, you want to eat from the garden, but if you shop at Whole Foods and spend like $5 a pound on a vegetable, what the hell is that?  If you can't shut up about the legalization of pot and can't see that all politicians (even the democrats, man) are pretty yucky, I am already bored.  I want that utopia, I really do, where we're just good to each other, and where we can imagine a world in which a rich person sees a poor person and feels a RESPONSIBILITY to save that one person, well, that's where I want to live, but the middle road, eegads. 

I don't like the smell of new car.  I don't like 50 inch screens on my TVs.  I don't like knowing all my food is from a factory farm or made with  high fructose corn syrup, or that you're in denial about what's happening to the polar bear.  I hate credit scores.  But somehow I find those shared feelings unbearable in quite a few people.  I wish I could put my finger on it, the unbearableness.  I don't know if it's because they often seem to hate Jesus, or that they think they know who I should be?  Or their watchful eye makes me feel terrible about feeding my child chicken nuggets?  I don't know.  I just wish I could invent a new hippy.  That's the allure :)

I just noticed my sister sent me 100 bucks, by the way.  I got good people.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The 2AM Rantings of a Woman Close to Birth

As pregnancy goes, I fall asleep at 10pm with my dear 3 year old by my side and then wake up, disoriented, around 1:00...but tonight I am frustrated and angry, so...warning.  This blog may contain cursing.

I am 39.  I waited forever to find the right person, and felt no longing to have children until I made a home in which I knew a child would feel safe.  It doesn't really fit, this lifestyle I now have.  After all, I'm the child of an alcoholic, and a person who struggled with mental illness.  I am the child of musicians, who changed the word "sin" to have a million meanings over time. I am the child of a divorce, an affair, and a lot of screaming.   I am the sister of someone who abuses their children, but gets away with it.  I am the person who likely would have made only a lot of bad decisions.  And I think that one thing really changed me....my pursuit to be thin.

It didn't work.  I am still fat.  I have really, always, in every stage of my adult life, been fat.  I have been "healthy looking and pretty" fat, I have been "this can't be good" fat, pregnant fat, etc.  But in addition to diets, I sought for years a way to change my brain and heart to be thin.  I thought, maybe something internal will change, and I'll find a way to change my body.  And I never really did, at least not by societal standards.  However, all those years of counseling, of groups, of work, of prayer, of commitment....they changed the rest of me.  They changed the parts you don't see.  They made me choose a spouse who is consistent, faithful and won't touch a drop of something that might cause him to make a bad decision.  Those years of "work", I'll call it, gave me some peace.  Reassured me that I don't need him for happiness, but that I could choose a life of partnership rather than dependence.

But having babies changes things.  I am up and angry tonight and trying to decide what is the worst thing.  Is is the assumption that they were going to cut me open and take the baby from early on?  Is it the fact that the doc, two years older than I am, called me "kiddo" and patted my knee, or is that this doctor is a million times better than the last, and I still feel angry, out of control, unhealthy.  I am like a victim here.

I went to an "empowerment" page, of women who were overweight and pregnant, or mothers.  I felt better looking at pictures, hearing them talk about how they had natural births, home births, the "dream" I know I won't have.  I envied, and felt a sense of sadness.  I wished I could be somewhere and someone else.  I longed to not be part of this group that tries so hard not to feel shame, while made to feel it.

My OBs are always people I would not ever have hung out with.  They are always part of "normal", a part I was never that crazy about.  Maybe I would have liked midwives?  Maybe at least a person with a hippy background would be more like me...but I don't know.  I just think that shame, for whatever reason, always comes from a group that passes itself of as "normal".....like the medical community.   And here I am, fat, on the outside, being called "kiddo."

Part of me wants to desperately attempt a second time at this dream of being more involved in the birth of my children.  Part of me wants to get done and get out.  And part of me wants to mourn, to feel incredibly sad about the years of work, the change within me, the fruit, which no doctor will ever see, since what they see is "FAT".  They diagnose fat before me, they treat fat before me. 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Sooner or Later

I think that if I compare my life to others' lives, I am a person with more transitions than most.  I will have a few years of "being settled" doing something, being with someone, being someplace, and then that will change.  I cringe at job applications that want a list of 5-10 years of addresses.  For me, that is a long, confusing task which involves looking through old emails searching for mentions of where I've lived.  I don't think everyone has to do that.

I'm sure part of it is the pursuit of being an artist.  But here I am, married, home owner, mother, and we find ourselves anticipating change again.  A new kid, hubby interviewing for new jobs, me contacting jobs near the jobs he's looking at just to see if that's changing for me too.  It's enough to give one a huge headache, if being 36 weeks pregnant didn't do that on its own.

I've learned after time that you can be happy on either side of change.  You can be happy before a change but feel something's not right for you.  You can be happy after, as soon as the dust settles and the feeling that you've got no ground under your feet subsides.  Change is the biggest fear of most people, but as I've heard a dozen times, it's actually the only constant in our lives.

I am comforted by the thought that God never changes, but confused by it.  After all, EVERYTHING changes right?  

Last night I saw David Wilcox perform, and if you've read my blog before I am such a huge fan of his storytelling, and his honest music.  I see myself doing something like that.  Of course-- I see myself doing everything musical, as long as it doesn't involve tattoos and rock star hair.  I have been writing a few songs lately, frustrated that singing has been tough.  But I really long to sing again too.

It was a good concert, but he was sick, and so he chose to not take a break.  He worried about his voice cracking and strained for high notes, so I never felt swept up in his stories. I knew the feeling of struggling through a "sick" performance (although I would never perform that sick). 

There were so many changes I noted in that concert.  I had a friend with me, I had a baby coming, I had no coat on, and I was a teacher at a college.  Two years, and I can't even imagine what 2 more years would bring me.

Sooner or later, stuff changes.  Off to a Dr's appointment this morning, and of course I'll ask about the strange, sudden lightning pain in my lower abdomen last night.  More change, I assume.  More change.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

What Daddies and Mommies Do

I'm in so much back pain.  My stomach seems to be pulling downward at all times, as if the child inside me is headed somewhere (down) and needs to get there desperately.  I have a strong excess amount of fluid, which makes everything more uncomfortable, God help me.

My daughter says that "daddies go to work and mommies go to the gym."  I have ideas about where she got this notion (I never take her to schools to watch me teach, but I do take her to the daycare at the gym) but as at least somewhat of a feminist, I'm kind of horrified to hear it from her mouth.  I have told her a million times that both mommies and daddies work, but it's not a conversation she "gets", and I realize I can't get too caught up in a 3 year old's perception of the world.

I have learned so much in teaching how falsely the expectations of artists (and therefore my own) can be.  I got so angry at a student today who expected to sing in a contest this weekend.  She came in with the new music in the new key, that I had asked her to get.  I had given her a lecture that if she DID want to perform this new song, it would require a great deal of work on her part, daily work, and that she needed to commit at the very least to listening to a recording of it every day until the next time I saw her.  Easy homework.  Today she came in not even able to read through 5-6 notes in a row.  She didn't know anything, and obviously had not looked once at the music.  She honestly thought she was singing a competition in 2 days not able to perform the piece without my prompting EVERY single pitch on the piano.  It was so ridiculous I had a rare moment of actually wanting to just ask her to leave.  I was much nicer.  But I see parts of myself in this, parts of the dream without the work, or the idea that that would be ideal.  I see parts in those who work their butts off too, but this maybe more.

I also had one of my favorite students do her annual disappearing act.  3 years of teaching her, and 3 years of her disappearing when softball season starts, and reappearing at the end.  Only at the end this time she'll be moving, so I may not see her.  I feel so hurt....so attached to her beautiful voice and sweet personality, and sad to know I mean so little that she'll just disappear forever.  Teaching is full of relationships that feel one-sided, sad and happy, codependent.  How could I not love it?

When I read reviews from college students I find that often the comments "I thought the music was too challenging" accompany the line "I never practiced."  Hard to take those seriously.

Since I am focusing on gratitude, I should note how grateful I am that students wrote things like this
I love lessons with Piper.  I appreciate everything she has to say and feel like I am improving as a vocalist.  As a senior, I sincerely wish she had been my voice instructor for my first three years of college as well.

Trying to remember how Daddy never gets comments like that at work at all :)  And I sure as hell never get it at the gym!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Gratitude

I have no idea what day of this it is...like 8?  Mondays and Tuesdays feel exhausting, so I don't even bother with the old blogosphere.  This morning I am living in an infirmary...sick husband, sick daughter, pregnant mom.   BLech.  Hubby's home from work, which means he's REALLY sick.  And I'm kind of amazed I'm not sick.

I've been on the phone all morning trying to figure out how much the hospital will charge me for the 7 tests I'm required to take there.  So far my answers have ranged so broadly that I've asked them to "investigate".  It's kind of nuts.  Hospitals, if you don't know this, don't have REAL prices.  There is no price list.  There is only a 'range' for each thing you can get done.  All of these ranges are dependent on the insurance company you have.  Isn't that weird?  So your insurance company says, "ahhh, we'll pay 200 for that" and then the hospital says, "ok that sounds cool" and then the insurance company charges you 15 percent of that.  It's literally impossible to price shop.  How did we get this incredibly unfair system?  Anyhoo....trying to figure out who might be less of the two hospitals, blocks from each other.  So far the same procedure has been quoted to me as $162 and $365.  That seems like a big difference right?  Especially since I have to have SEVEN of them.  Oy.

So here's my gratitude.  I am so grateful for my immune system.  Eh, that just popped in my head.  But it's true.  My whole life, I have had short illnesses, short colds, short flus.  I have had entire illnesses pass me by and affect everyone else.  I am convinced I have a pretty kick-butt immune system.  This year has been the sickest of my whole life.  Teaching students, having a 3 year old in preschool, ugh, that has just SLAMMED me with various flus and bacterias, blah blah.  But at the end of the day, I know how much worse it could be.  I am so grateful that up to this point, I have had a body that if it fails me, doesn't fail me long.  I don't have to be afraid of people with colds, because if I get it, I know it will leave me soon enough.  No docs, no meds, Makes me feel pretty lucky.

And now, back to the phone calls.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Memories

I have had a few amazing and awful Easters in my life.  I used to think the holiday was dangerous, because it seemed a lot of strange things happened to me  on it.  But now, I wonder if my former life was just dangerous.....hmmm. 

In high school, I sat near a guy in science class who had an identical twin.  I can't tell you either of their names, but they were a little strange looking (to me) and very kind.  He talked to me with no agenda, he was funny.  He listened to me.  At Easter, he invited me to his church...and I have no idea why I went.  He was Baptist, and they were doing an "easter pageant" which seems even weirder that I went.  So here I was, 16 or 17, by myself, and I went Easter weekend to watch a pageant at his little church in Mesa, Arizona.  The music was atrocious.  I mean--they were so out of tune I couldn't believe it.  How could this many people sing this poorly together?  It was also cheezy...nothing original, low budget, strange robes and "middle eastern" looking plastic plants.  They told the story of Jesus.  And then Jesus came out, and my heart stopped.  I mean--this guy looked EXACTLY like I picture Jesus.  As if he was a professional Jesus look alike.  And when he spoke, his voice was soft, and strong and I swear, it's how I hear God's voice in my head. 

And then everything changed.  The church seemed special, the room seemed to be moving, breathing.  They beat him up, they marched him down the aisle on the way to the cross.  And his eyes were so beautiful.  He looked down at me as he walked past, and it was so surreal, I spoke out loud without realizing it.  "I'm so sorry" I said to him, and he walked to the cross, and tears were streaming down my face, and I have never in my life, felt more like I'd seen the face of God.  It was bizarre.  I went to my car, I drove home, and I'll never forget it.

Every year, I tell myself that story, to remind me of what we're talking about on this holiday.  It gets lost in all the other crap.

Gratitude Day 3

I suppose it's a good sign that I've been sitting here thinking about all the things I could choose today, and not knowing which to pick.   I've decided to go for a big one.  I am grateful that I get to do what I like doing.

I had this insane moment of fear two days ago, when hubby was talking about a few people that have contacted him about new jobs.  San Francisco (which would be awesome except we'd have to increase the money we make by at least 180 per cent just to break even), Virginia (seems so promising except the location is a little "country") Providence, RI (my husband is the most excited about this) ....among all of which, we find encouragement for him.  But I am now afraid of leaving a life of teaching students.  I miss the singing terribly, and still hold fast that if I keep practicing my voice will be back to some state and I can sing again....but when I think of the jobs I had that felt like a pain, a $12.00 an hour pain in the butt where I never did anything I loved or believed in, I just think NEVER AGAIN.

And I should be grateful that I can say anything like that.  Because for years, there was no option.  I did what I had to to stay afloat, and felt like the things that were specially my gifts could not be used.  Hubby once said something complaining about how depressed I was about working for Toyota.  I  still struggle forgiving him for that--didn't he realize that I felt like it would be better to live out of my car than work that type of job again?

So for now, let me offer up my crazy gratitude that I can teach students, one on one.  This job makes me remember how much I love vocal literature, how much I appreciate these beautiful teens and young adults who are discovering their voices, and how much I've learned over the years.  It makes me proud of the piano I can play!  Sometimes, when I'm at work at the college and I hear the hallway full of practicing trumpet players and students listening to recordings of Marriage of Figaro, my heart swells to its regular size.  I was born to be surrounded by music and performance.  It doesn't have to be a specific music, but it has to be part of that world.

I have written before that singing a role makes me more myself than anything else I've ever done.  I feel like, "oh yes, this is the person I sometimes forget." And I am so lucky to know that about myself. 

I will complain today that I have to clean the house and do taxes and WHY did I schedule 3 students, because that will totally mess up my schedule!??!!  I will complain next week that I have to teach SO many of them to survive right now, because of the unreliability of home students.  But I will also feel utterly and completely grateful that it's an option.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Gratitude: Day 1

I am wondering when facebook will make me angry enough to leave forever.  It's like a bad relationship....in one minute you feel both loved and crappy about the world and yourself. 

Now for something better.  I have decided (committed) after a bit of crying with hubby last night, that in the end of my pregnancy I want to talk about one thing a day that I feel grateful for.  I am going to pick this in a totally random order....and I'm not sure I'll blog daily, but I'll pick up where I can.

Day 1:  Parents who believe in me

I know, this seems like a no-brainer.  My childhood was far from perfect and everyone says "oh, but everyone's parents love them and believe in them."  It isn't true. So many people I've known have lived under the weight of either parents who expected little from them or seemed to be eternally disappointed in them.  Parents can be awful--they can abandon you completely, be wrapped up in their own issues all the time, or never expressing anything to you--leaving you to always wonder, "is my dad ever proud of me?" Until eventually you are forced not to care.

My mom and dad had a lot of problems.  They were divorced, they often seemed to make choices that weren't about us, and have not always been who I "wished" they would be.  But both of my parents, for the entirety of my life, have believed in me.  I believe my parents think I'm smart, attractive, funny, dependable, and loveable.  My parents tell stories that brag about my ability to match pitches (almost from birth), my early reading, my performances and now my family.  My parents are more concerned about whether the man I love loves them back then they are about judging him or me in our relationship.

When I meet friends of my parents, they talk about their love of me.  They mention how my parents are proud of me.  And I believe that this has given me an amazing boost in my  life.  This is such a challenge to me--as I struggle not to panic that my daughter will be a compulsive overeater because she ate 5 breadsticks yesterday, or that she won't believe in herself, I know there is one key....I must love and believe in her.  I must expect the best but see her as human.  I am grateful to God that I was born to two people who saw me as a miracle.  I am also grateful that they never chose to fight over me or put me between them.

I remember during the divorce it was hard for my father not to say bad things about my mother.  I hated every moment of that.  It's something you never want a parent to do--and like many things with my dad, a bad judge of boundaries.  But both of them really respected me enough to stop when I asked.  I still long to share every success with my parents.  I want to call my dad when I hear beautiful music and I want to call my mom when I find a twenty dollar bill in my pants pocket!

My parents take my successes as their own.  And though it's far from a perfect blessing, it is nothing short of a reason to be grateful.