Friday, April 10, 2015

Wisdom from my 40th Year

So tomorrow is my birthday and as I reflect back over the year I turned 40, I thought it might be worth dropping some things I learned (because we can always still be learning!).

On Writing:

1. Publishing is difficult and unpredictable and wonderful. It is not fair. You will likely always be looking up, wishing for more. This is good if it fuels the work. It isn't good if it stops you from getting your shit done. We all have one job: keeping people reading. You do that however you do that, but if you find yourself mired in shit that has nothing to do with that one job, it is a good idea to refocus.

Here's how I have convos with myself...
Me: Oh my God, did you see...?
Me Also: Yes, now get back to work.
Me: But...
Me Also: How do you keep people reading?
Me: Writing good books.
Me Also: Right. Carry on with that.

On Time:

2. No one is on time anymore. I think we live in a world of "over-promise and under-deliver" now. I've done this myself, because I don't like saying no and I bite off more than I can chew. I would like to say no more and pretend I'm not Wonder Woman. Everyone should do this. Everyone should also be respectful of other's time. A lot of people are not. It's okay, it happens, but I'm sorry goes really far.

On Faith:

3. The loud people do not speak for the rest of us. Most of us are quite fine with how you want to live and how you want to have a relationship with God or if you want to have one. As Momastery's Glennon Boyle Melton says, "Everybody's in, baby." That's the way God works. Anyone who tells you different has their own agenda. Look closely at agendas. Look at them the same way you look to see who's funding research studies. EVERYBODY IS IN when it comes to God.

On Anger:

4. I've been fighting against sexual violence for a long time. I will always work toward making this better for other survivors. But the fight drains me. Arguing on social media or even in real life—it's exhausting to me. However, I realize that talking with rape survivors, honoring their stories, helping how I can, that is what rejuvenates me. Yesterday, my friend Courtney pointed this out and I loved it: "Anger doesn't have the fuel that love does. It can't last as long." That might not be true for other people, but it's true for me.

On Parenting:

5. Show up. Ask questions. Talk to your kids about difficult things. Play, read, yell, apologize. Acknowledge that it isn't always awesome, acknowledge that sometimes it is. Have a life that isn't completely woven into theirs. Be patient when they give you lice.

On Friendship:

6. Ask for help. Offer help. Tell your people you love them. Laugh and cry and find the people who won't judge you for either. Don't put anyone on a pedestal. Don't think they're more amazing than they are. We're all flawed. It's okay. Everybody is still in.

On Courage:

7. Do something you didn't think you could do. Something very specific that is maybe a little crazy. You don't have to do something risky every day—because honestly, we're not extreme sports junkies—but this year, pick a thing. For me it was roller derby. For Julio, it was quitting his job. For Mandie, it was running a half-marathon. For Carrie, it was starting a podcast. One. Thing. That's it.

That's it. Love you, friends!


Monday, April 6, 2015

Confessions of the World's Most Crap Baseball Mom...

I'm a crap baseball mom. You'll try to make me feel better, I know, because you're nice and don't want me to feel bad. But it's okay. I've reconciled myself with it. I find the problems with baseball season nearly insurmountable. And there appears to be a divided camp on this issue: those moms who think it is NOT a big deal at all and those moms who look at me like I'm nuts trying to pull this off for yet another year because they were clearly smart enough to talk their kids out of this nonsense after the first season.

The difficulty for me is fourfold:

1. I am not a sports person. I have never been a sports person. I did not do anything really sporty until I was nearly 20, and even then it was teaching archery at summer camp, and I'm not totally sure that's considered sporty. (Note: I did play soccer, a little. But as I was neither any good at it nor actually liked it, I don't think that counts.)

2. I married a very sporty person. When I explain why it is a TERRIBLE IDEA for our children to be involved in baseball or any sport really, Julio gives me long speeches about team sports and the value of competition and a bunch of other stuff that sounds like that teacher in the Peanuts (wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah, wah). Then, I try to point out how ABSOLUTELY fine I am as an adult and I never did any real team sports as a kid. But this apparently is not that compelling of an argument for Julio.

3. I am a kind of churchy, Montessori person who wants everyone to win so I cheer for everyone, and occasionally shout out things like, "Be careful, buddy. It's okay. I still love you." OR conversely, I don't bother watching at all because it makes me kind of sad to see anyone feeling down about SPORTS, when they are frankly better than I will ever be at any of it, so I spend most of the game reading books.

4. I get overwhelmed with how sports seem to TAKE OVER YOUR WHOLE LIFE. Therefore, I shut down and don't listen to basic instructions. I find the barrage of emails involved in having 2 children on baseball teams very cumbersome so I mostly delete them. Consequently, I always forget snack when it is my turn to bring snack and then I look innocently at all the other moms and join them in their, "whose turn was it for snack?" conversation as if I'm not 99.9% certain it was probably mine and I deleted that email.

Most of the conversations around baseball or sports in my house go like this (I will put in parentheses what I'm really thinking but don't actually say):

J: I think all our kids should do baseball this spring.
Me: They'd be on 3 different teams. (Are you kidding me that you think I'm going to carpool this mess?)
J: We could make it work.
Me: I don't think Butter likes it enough. Maybe he could do dance.
J: Dance isn't a sport.
Me: *sputters* It is SO.
J: Honey, come on.
Me: Well, what about soccer? (Soccer only meets one day a week and it's on Saturday and Julio could take him)
J: Hmm. Maybe. 
Me: Also, I think I can just drop Jojo off and not have to stay for the whole practice because she's 12.
J: Yeah, but she's still learning and we need to hear what the coach says.
Me: (I don't understand coaches. They sound like the Peanuts' teachers.) Umm...well.
J: We have to know what to work with her on.
J: It's because you're on your phone.
Me: (YES, MAKING FB STATUS UPDATES ABOUT HOW MUCH I SUCK AT BASEBALL MOM-ING). I don't think I'm good at being a baseball mom.
J: *sighs* Yes, I know. I married that, though.
Me: Do you think there's anything that I am good at?
J: You're a really good dog walker.

It's possible Julio told me I was good at other things, but I kind of only remembered the dog walker thing because BEING A GOOD DOG WALKER IS APPARENTLY AN ATTRIBUTE I HAVE THAT NEEDS TO BE MENTIONED. I think Julio had to dig kind of deep for that dog walker thing, too.

We haven't had our first baseball game of the season yet and I'm already at the point of wanting to quit. Today, I told my son that something is going to have to give with all this baseball stuff, and he said, "What about showering?"

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Easter Lice Debacle

This story really needs to start a week ago when my dog caught an unsuspecting rabbit in our backyard. I'll spare you the details beyond saying that he flounced into the house with a bloody scruff looking so pleased with himself. Julio asked me, "Do you want to deal with giving the dog a bath or the carnage in the backyard?"

Now, here's a thing I know after being married for 15 years: Julio is not great with dead animals. Occasionally he's dealt with them, but the absolute relief on his face when I've stepped in to handle clean up is enough for me to be 100% certain that in the division of labor in our marriage, he's grateful this falls on my list. So with respect to last week's rabbit, I answered, "I'll take the backyard, you deal with the dog."

Imagine if you will me outside with two snow shovels scooping up bunny parts like they're potstickers going into an empty Jimmy John's box and you'll get the idea of how fun THAT task was.

Fast forward to yesterday when I wake up with lice. I know, I know, you're itching already. It happens to everyone. I'm sure you don't have lice, but I appreciate the sympathy scratches. So after getting on the phone with my lice friend experts, I go to the Walgreens for all the supplies required to deal with this. And then for about an hour, Julio had to give me "the treatment", which involved him combing nits out of my hair.

Now is the time to pause and look at your partner and wonder if they are kind and compassionate enough to comb nits from your hair and not say ONE WORD about how it's kind of gross. I used to have a long list of ideal traits in a partner, they've now been narrowed down to this one thing. It takes a pretty special person to do this, I will tell you that.

Anyways, after that's all done, I have to go downstairs and face the humiliation of telling everyone I've been in contact with over the past few days that this is going on. Mostly everyone laughed and said, "Yeah, we've all been there. Sorry you'll have to deal with all that vacuuming and laundry." (Yes, you do basically wash and vacuum everything in your house.) But it so happens that my inlaws are staying with us so I can host Easter dinner for 20 people, which made me feel a particularly deep level of shame. Only it was my inlaws so…

Me: I'm so sorry, Mum and Papi. I have lice. You're going to need to check yourself. We might need to cancel Easter.
Papi: I have no hair. It's fine. I don't think Haitians get this anyways. We'll have the party.
Mum: Yeah, the sun kills everything in Haiti.
Me: Are you sure?
Papi: Yes, you're worrying too much, sweetheart. Come listen to some music.
Me: Um... Okay. If you say so. On the plus side, the dog can't get it so he won't spread anything.
Mum: The dog must be Haitian.

So, I guess that's that. They laughed, and then I laughed, and then Papi told a story. And I thought again about how incredibly grateful I am to have these people in my life. To have married into this family.

We spent the day cleaning. We did NOT: buy groceries for Easter dinner, buy a new refrigerator because ours appears to be on its last legs and might not make it through the dinner, buy Easter baskets for the kids. So at about 10pm last night, I texted my mom.

Me: I don't have Easter baskets for the kids. I'm such a ball dropper.
Mom: I've got it. I have three baskets and a bunch of chocolate. Tell the kids their baskets will be later but they'll be there.
Me: Do you think my kids are going to grow up thinking they had this failure of a mom who couldn't do basic things?
Mom: No, I think they'll think you were perfect and they just got lucky in the grandparents department.

So this is my life. Filled with all this support and all these people who made a crap day into something pretty okay and even funny. And it made me so aware of all this netting beneath me. How it's really impossible for me to fall and hurt myself because I have all these people who have woven a net out of their love. And that is pretty amazing to me.

The last part of this story is that late last night I went downstairs because I couldn't sleep. Julio was still up doing laundry. Julio did all the laundry yesterday. And bought new sheets and pillows. Julio is a super hero in real life.

Him: I never want to do laundry again in my life.
Me: I love you.
Him: What? What's that smile?
Me: I just love that you think you'll never do laundry again when you're married TO ME.
Him: Yeah, good point. Division of labor...

Happy Easter, my friends. May it be lice-free or at the very least, filled with so much love that you forget lice is even a big deal.