Treading water

When I started this blog, I had the best intentions of blogging every day and I intentionally created this blog anonymously so I wouldn’t feel the pressure to always put a positive spin on things – so that here at least I could say what’s really on my mind, even if I can’t always say it here, in my real world.

The past couple of weeks have been rough and I haven’t wanted to blog about them, in part because I didn’t want to come across as depressed.  And in part, I suspect, because I didn’t (and don’t) want to deal with my own emotions either but as my stress-levels skyrocketed this week I realized that I did create this space for myself so I could talk about what’s going on for me.  Well.  A lot of that might not be so pretty.  But, I’m going to keep trying to talk about it.  To put it out there and say it, because I need to say it and because I believe that we may not come to an agreement on it in the end but we are better for having discussed it in the first place.

It’s easy to be mean and it’s easy to criticize.  What’s hard is trying to make our way in complicated times.  What’s hard is trying to support one another in the face of differing opinions because what we have in common is so much more than a few differing opinions. What’s hard is being honest and being open.  Open to change, open to possibilities, open to new ideas.

For us, these last two weeks have seen more casts for Charlie, more sleepless nights, a new brace, and now limping because of the new brace.  On the news we’ve seen children shot, a chemical-laden “meat product” (aka “pink goo”) has been added to the lunch menu in schools nationwide, speculation grows about the formation of a new economic bubble (college loans this time – yet another aspect of the american dream) that will be the next big thing thought to threaten our economy, this crazy election just keeps getting more and more strange and most of it is being taken out on the backs of women and, as my savings dwindles, there is not even a glimmer of a job interview for me on the horizon.

What’s got me going today is that I just read an article about an increasing number of after-school programs that are starting to offer dinners to kids whose families can’t afford to feed them and although the article was meant to be a positive note in an otherwise negative line-up of educational news, it nonetheless brought me to tears.  These programs are giving kids cold sandwiches for dinner.

What’s behind my tears isn’t the cold sandwiches, or even the gratitude I imagine the recipients feel for the meal — but the need for it in the first place.  What on earth is going on and why does it seem like nobody sees it?

I keep reading news articles about how the economy is improving and now, great news!  In the area where I live unemployment is down to just below 15%.   That it’s down from the nearly 20% it was is a huge improvement but let’s not talk down to the folks here and let’s don’t kid ourselves — an unemployment rate of nearly 15% is not good news.  If I don’t get a job soon it will be me signing my kid up for those school dinner programs. Will I be grateful?  Absolutely.  And I will also be outraged because I have a degree from one of the top universities in this country, I want to work, and I still can’t find a damn job.

Thank goodness that the schools are stepping up and putting food in the bellies of these kids but how much does it bother you that our schools need to do this in the first place?  And why is that our schools, that are having enough trouble just buying paper to print assignments on, are now tasked with feeding a growing population of kids whose families cannot afford to feed them at home?

I’m sorry to say that I don’t have answers to these questions.  Worse, I haven’t heard anyone who does; I think most of us are just here, treading water as best we can and hoping that one day soon this flood will recede and we’ll find ourselves back on dry land again.

The only thing I can offer is that we talk about it.  As hard as it may be and as likely as it is that people will just point fingers at us and blame us for our own suffering, we can refuse to look away from these problems and we can talk about them with the hope that, even if we can’t change the world, maybe someone will hear what we have to say and then maybe they won’t feel so alone.

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takesavillage

Yesterday morning we were jolted out of bed by what sounded (and felt) an awful lot like a truck rolling through (and over) our apartment. It was 5:30 in the morning and two earthquakes hit. Small ones, thankfully — the first a 2.9 then a 4.0 a few seconds later — but unnerving all the same and we are right on top of what was the epicenter so the jolts we felt were substantial.

It drives me absolutely crazy but since I’ve become a mom, I am the world’s lightest sleeper. Honestly, I can wake up if I hear even the slightest change in my son’s breathing patterns at night.  Crazy, right?  Or maybe most parents could say the same thing, I  don’t know.  Our rooms are close together so I have that excuse as well but, I’ve also just never been able to shake the idea that I’m the only one…

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Bra Nation

I had to meet with a teacher at Charlie’s school and so I was looking for some appropriate attire for the occasion and not having much luck.  I admit that since being laid off work my style of dress has gotten a little more…casual.  Ok, ok, yes, that means I wear sweats and a pony tail a lot.  I think it makes me look “sporty.”

But as I sit here squirming I realize why.  It’s the bra.  It’s the BRA.

Yes, it’s true.  I don’t want boobs that reach the floor (though if you could strap a Swiffer pad to ‘em it might make it worthwhile) but the point here is that, if we have to wear bras then why are they so darned uncomfortable?

One of my friends mentioned this change in my dressing habits the other day.

Her:  “So.  What’s up heeere,” she asked waving her hand around my frontal region.

Me:  “Um, whaddayamean?”

Her:  “HERE.  What’s going on?”

Me: “What?”  I say.  “Being laid off is kind of like the world’s longest weekend except, you know, without the actual fun so bra wearing is 100% optional.  In fact, if you do little more than wrap a scarf around those bad-boys then you’re totally over dressed for searching the job boards and writing cover letters. “

She sighed and picked a once-soggy-but-now dried Cherrio from my forearm.

Okay.  So, maybe wearing a bra isn’t the only fashion issue I’m facing these days but at the moment it feels like the only one that matters.  As I sit here, I feel like I’m being squeezed by a hungry boa constrictor and yet, somehow neither bra strap will actually stay up on a shoulder.  I dig under one side of my shirt, pull up a strap, remove a wire from the underside of my boob and then type.  Two seconds later, I dig under the other side of my shirt, pull up a strap, and type.  It’s like a weird kind of turrets.

On the bright side, after the parent-teacher conference I’m gonna stop and get some Swiffer pads.

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San Francisco Bay

San Francisco Bay

I like the tradition of Wordless Wednesday so I thought I’d adopt it. This is a good “intro” photo – this is my view when I go walking in the morning.

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Little Earthquakes

Yesterday morning we were jolted out of bed by what sounded (and felt) an awful lot like a truck rolling through (and over) our apartment. It was 5:30 in the morning and two earthquakes hit. Small ones, thankfully — the first a 2.9 then a 4.0 a few seconds later — but unnerving all the same and we are right on top of what was the epicenter so the jolts we felt were substantial.

It drives me absolutely crazy but since I’ve become a mom, I am the world’s lightest sleeper. Honestly, I can wake up if I hear even the slightest change in my son’s breathing patterns at night.  Crazy, right?  Or maybe most parents could say the same thing, I  don’t know.  Our rooms are close together so I have that excuse as well but, I’ve also just never been able to shake the idea that I’m the only one who’ll hear him if he needs anything so I have to wake up, and I do, a lot.  As soon as the shaking started  yesterday morning I was out of my bed and blindly bouncing down the hall only to realize that I really was blind and that I’d left my glasses back in my room — in the opposite direction of the way I was headed. I went back to my room, got my glasses on and made it to Charlie’s room but only after the rumbling and the falling of objects had stopped.

I stepped into his room and it was completely quiet.  No rustling, no crying, no scared sounds at all, nothing.  It was such a dramatic contrast to the earth-shaking roar from just seconds before that it was more than just a little eerie.  I called his name using my gentle, “everything’s-ok” voice and he let loose this little burst of air along with one tiny sob. I sat on his bed and pulled him to me; he shook all over.

Later that day we drove to Sacramento for a checkup with his orthopedic doctors for his feet. Charlie was born with bilateral club feet and bilateral hip dysplasia. He started treatment when he was just five days old and we’ve been incredibly fortunate that he has been treated by some amazing doctors. We’ve used mostly non-surgical methods to correct his feet and hips and, though it’s been a long road at times, for the most part things are going incredibly well.

Our Sacramento doctors are great.  They always talk directly to Charlie and ask him questions about his feet and his life but when it comes time to talk treatment, as you would expect, they talk to me.  On Monday when the doctor looked up at me and said that it was time to go back into a cast again and get more aggressive with treating that right foot (I am pretty sure that this is my son’s 53rd cast) again, I noticed that I couldn’t hear any sound at all coming from Charlie’s direction. There was a sharp intake of breath and then just…nothing.

I am grateful beyond words that my son can walk; that he can run and play.  I am grateful for so much in my life. I am grateful that, for the most part, these are just little earthquakes.  And, I  feel guilty as hell for wanting it, but I want a day with no earthquakes.  I want the jolts to stop.  I want to help him brush his teeth and teach him to look both ways as he crosses the street and I want to not doubt for a second that he is really safe.  Mostly, I want him to never have to muster all of his five-year old courage again and to have to do something that he doesn’t want to do.

I took a deep breath.  My heart sank as the doctor’s voice carried on.  And realized for the second time that day that as much as I want to, I can’t protect him – not really.  Not from the big things.  For the second time in just one day we were jolted from our comfortable sleep.   How easily things can change in the space of just one breath.  I can’t protect my son from the really scary stuff like earthquakes or surgery or the loud scary saws they use to take off those casts.  I can’t protect him.  All I can do is help him to breathe.

So as the doctor stood and started to lay out our new plan of action, I leaned over and took my son’s hand, “Just keep breathing,” I said.  “Just keep breathing and we’ll get through this together.”

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Being Five

Just now Charlie came into my room and threw himself across the foot of my bed in a sort of backwards half-backbend.  “Mom,” he said as his feet started going all spiderman up my wall.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
“Just trying to finish a little writing,” I said, as his body stretched out and made a stiff plank hanging between the foot of my bed and the wall.
“Momma,” he said this time; his feet hitting the floor.
 “Yes.”
He stood up, spun around, did a face plant on the bed and started speaking incoherently into the covers.
“What?” I asked, looking up just in time to see him come up, red-faced, laughing like this was clearly the best joke ever.
Another faceplant, more talking into the bed and now he is laughing like a wildman.
Five is the best age, ever!
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March Maddness

Really?  March already?  How did this happen?

I was laid off work in September because my boss (the big boss) literally ran the department out of money.  Two or three people were kept on and they took over the work of the six or eight of us who were laid off.  I know, it’s really better to be let go – a good friend is still working there and I see the strain in her eyes and I hear it in her voice.  And, at least she has a paycheck so I’m pretty sure there are no winners here.

I am looking and I have had interviews and most of the time I’m optimistic that something will turn up soon.  Most of the time.  There are other times when I start chewing the sides of my own mouth out of sheer frustration and worry.  Like today.  A whole new month has arrived and with it a new pile of bills and expectations.  And, March is spring so summer’s not that far off and that means, as a single parent, if I want to be able to work (assuming something comes along) I’m going to have to find a way to pay for good, dependable daycare.

I know it’ll happen.  I just don’t know how.  Yet.

 

 

 

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