Category Archives: Just me

Catching my breath…

Man has it been a whirlwind three weeks.

Between my contract position, my family, and my practice I have been averaging about 14 hours a day. I have been working on weekends. I have not touched a dish or the mop.

(I finally hired someone to take the housework burden off my husband, the dear man has had weeks of 14 hour days too what with all my slack lying around for him to pick up.)

I am struggling to decide if I should sign up for the next project. We are revelling in having enough money to go around for a change but I am losing my momentum, my sleep, and my mind. My son is miserable with me leaving for work everyday and has started crawling into my lap and crying “No work! No work!” when I get ready to leave in the morning. My daughter is acting out even more now that she is getting even less of my time and attention. I haven’t had a date with my spouse in weeks and I wouldn’t be able to stay awake for one even if I did.

On the other hand, the holidays are coming up and this is the first year in three when we have the opportunity to start the holiday season with surplus cash. We can get new loft beds for the kids room and open up more of their small space for play. We can get actual gifts for people this year instead of little tokens. We can travel to see family, splurge on a nice hayride or two, and enjoy a holiday season relieved of the stress of an extraordinarily tight budget.

All I have to do is continue with the work marathon and forgo many more weekends. I am not sure what I should do. On the one hand I am enjoying being a regular contributor to the family bank, on the other I miss slow days spent reading to my son and making pie with the kids. I miss my role as Mom more than I enjoy what I am doing but I am so tired of just not making it.

I wonder if I will feel like a complete failure if I walk away and go back to a paycheck to paycheck existence as I wait for my cases to close.

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Drawn and quartered…

Parenthood is being pulled in a thousand different directions by everyone you know and everything they need all day long, each and every day.

On one hand is a rope connected to my family. All of my family. My children, my husband, my mother and father, my pets. This rope pulls on me twenty four hours a day. Someone always needs me/wants my attention/requires my time. Most of the time it’s more than one person who wants me.

My son wants me to sit him in my lap while he eats syrup covered pancakes while my daughter wants me to watch a new magic trick while my husband wants my opinion on something in the office while my mother or father is calling on the phone while the dogs want a bit of the bacon please and the cats need more food in their dish.

Rarely, if ever, am I in a situation where I can focus all my attention on one person.

On the other hand are all the things I need to do to care for my family.

Cleaning my house, doing the laundry, shopping for groceries, preparing food for meals, changing diapers, emptying catboxes, shopping for clothes that fit everyone, making sure we have the necessary school supplies, providing entertainment and age appropriate toys, transporation to lessons and playdates, researching healthy eating habits, finding eco-friendly products that actually make a positive difference, running errands, paying bills, tracking the mail, medical appointments, dental appointments, vet appointments, eye checkups, etc.

On one foot is my law practice.

It demands my very best efforts, complete and total focus on tasks, a calm atmosphere for phone calls, huge piles of networking dinners/lunches/breakfasts/conferences, time to organize all the cases and papers, time to study for professional growth, web design, bookkeeping, personnel management, assignment tracking, staying abreast of all the clients needs and wants, staying in touch with clients, bill paying, troubleshooting, problem solving, learning new cost saving technologies that may help provide better service, blogging on up to date legal topics to increase my reputation, rainmaking, and many hours of time.

I am never done with work. There is always something that got put off because of the things pulling on my other limbs. There is not a single minute in any day when I can say I have nothing left to do in my inbox.

On the other foot is my social life. The people outside my family that want to see me in the few precious hours a week that I set aside for myself. Seeing these people is often refreshing to my soul and allows me time to regroup and prepare for encounters with other areas of my life.

However, I have more people than I do time, so much of my pleasure is often leeched out because I have to turn people away, put them off, or simply not see them for months because others require my time. Sometimes they are hurt and angry, sometimes I end up overscheduling myself and shortchanging everyone in the process.

Rarely do I feel as though I am at leisure and have the luxury of taking as much time as I would like with the person I am seeing.

In the middle is me. I used to have interests outside work and my family.

I used to be actively involved in politics. I used to study about the world. I used to be an amatuer photographer. I used to crochet, scrapbook, paint, write, sing, and dance. I used to do yoga everyday. I used to swim. I used to read over three hundred books a year. I used to blog every day. I used to think about writing a book. I used to go to the theater. I used to see movies on opening night. I used to do amazing decoupage with funky old vases and handmade paper. I used to design jewelry. I used to play games. I used to cook food to my liking. I used to wear high heels. I used to spend half an hour on my “look” in the morning.

I am in the middle of my life, being pulled apart everyday. I do not have the time to secure a little space for just me. Some times I am not even sure I know who “me” is anymore. Do I still like to crochet? How about blogging? What kinds of movies do I like?

At the end of a long day, after I have finally conquered the very last request for water/story of last year’s scary nightmare/spider in the bathroom scare/two year old strike against sleep/additional lullabye request/etc., I sometimes sit in the quiet house and think about running away. I look at my living room floor with its carpet of food crumbs, drink spills, and pet fur, and I think about walking out my front door and getting in my car. I think about driving until I run out of gas and then getting out and walking until I can’t walk anymore.

I think about gettting away.

I can’t get away. The truth is that this is the life I have worked for all my life. This is the future I wanted. Supportive and loving husband, beautiful and intelligent children, a career of my own, a lovely home, fuzzy pets all my own with no one to tell me the myriad of reasons why we can’t get another cat. (Do NOT get another cat. Trust me.)

Most of the time it makes me very, very happy.

Other times my life is so full there is no room for me left in it.

Relationship on a spit…

A few male friends informed me recently that I do not fully recognize how wonderful my husband is. I think they suppose that I take him for granted because I don’t talk about him much. Sometimes I will mention how much certain behaviors of his drive me crazy but other than that I pretty much don’t gush about his biceps, his fantastic personality, and how blissfully happy he makes me.

This isn’t because he lacks amazing biceps and a fantastic personality. Nor is it because I am not blissfully happy. It is simply that after nearly seven years together our fires are, as Hubby puts it, banked. (Actually, he described our fires as being an underground pig roast, with succulent fat dripping into the coals. Banked but delicious. This has led to me teasing him endlessly about sticking an apple in the mouth of our relationship and roasting it on a spit. It drives him crazy.)

I think they don’t understand exactly how much I do appreciate my husband. It’s not just that he earns a solid living, does dishes, likes a clean house, and is a helpful partner. I appreciate him because after nearly seven years of nigh constant contact I still actually like him. I like to be with him every day and I miss him when he is gone. I like to do everything and nothing with him.

Take right now for example. I am sitting at my desk and he is at his. He is torturing himself by looking at the houses we can’t afford on Google and I am writing in my blog. We are listening to Dave Matthews. Otter is asleep and Monkey is watching a movie. The house is peaceful and short of an occassional comment about the number of homes on the market or the fact that I am personally responsible for most of his gray hair, we are quiet. We are together, as one, at peace.

This is one of my favorite things about being married to a man with whom I can simply be.

I don’t mention all his wonderful qualities to all my friends all the time because they are the daily constant in my life. Without him my life would be less lovely, less full of love. I recognize this every day and simply love and enjoy him. Why do I need to tell everyone else about the love and enjoying I do? He knows I value him, I know I value him, enough said.

I like that our fires are banked, that our passion has become something we can warm ourselves with instead of something that sends sparks into the sky and carries with it the risk of burning. I am pleased to simply be with this man, forever.

Taut

stretched tight, skin aching,

heart beating, loud and frantic.

Afraid if the slightest rip appears, the band will snap!

The page will tear, the fragile hold we have on life will be no more.

So many of the people I know, or know of, seem to be desperately holding on to what they have, blindly putting one foot in front of the other, simply so they can continue to exist. Certain that this sort of blind continuing is what is required in order to survive.

I have discovered recently that the problem with this blind moving forward is that one doesn’t seems to be able to remember that sharing our burdens with each other lessens them, eases the weight they place on our shoulders. When the world seems to be crushing you with its unceasing ability to push your head underwater while you desperately try to breathe, calling a friend is often the best way to catch your breath. Even if that friend is going to spend as much time telling you about their personal suffering as you spend telling them about yours.

Actually no, I would say especially if that friend is going to spend as much time telling you about their personal suffering as you will spend telling them about yours.

I have been swimming underwater without air for so long now that my chest hurts with an almost constant longing for breath. Yet, regardless of how much I know my friends and family love and support me, I can see how tautly they are stretched too. I shudder at the thought of further burdening them with whispers of my troubles. So when asked how I am, I say “fine.” I soldier on. I choose not to burden them with my troubles, which means I also don’t make much time for theirs.

But the other night Hatchet and I took our girls out for an evening date. We set them loose on the park and she and I talked. Really talked. We talked about how much life sucks. She shared her life suckage and I shared mine. Suddenly, there were bubbles of air in my dark, oppressive pool of life. They tickled up around me, caressing my face, arms, legs, like a natural spring sauna, bringing with them life and laughter, smiles and breath.

Three hours of being sad together. Three hours of walking in our muck and shit together and I was lighter.

She and I aren’t stupid people, so we did it again last night, and today, I am lighter yet again.

My life is more possible based on three hours a week of shared suffering than I ever imagined it could be.

So I offer up a challenge I suppose,  make time for each other again. Break out of the routines you have locked yourself in, find that friend you have been convincing yourself you were saving from having to deal with your troubles. Call them up, share your burdens, and ask them to share theirs.

You will find yourself loosening up again, better able to breathe, simply by sharing in each other’s stories.

(Oh and Hatchet dear, this one is for you.)

I’m equal to it… fuck that… I am more than equal to it.

I used to believe I could do anything.

Over the past few years I began to realize that belief was born more of my youth and ignorance than it was of any innate capability or superhuman ability. I began to doubt myself, curb my own enthusism, stop tooting my own horn.

Well, as my dearly departed godmother Arie used to say “If you don’t tooteth your own horn, your horn will remain untooteth.”

So today I decided that realization was just plain wrong.

Clearly, whily my youthful self was woefully mistaken about things such as choosing first husbands and the wisdom of pairing three inch heels with stretch pants, she was wise beyond her years in the believing in myself department. This current me could stand to learn a lot from the sheer unmitigated temerity and chutzpah that younger me had when it came to believing what she deserved. Why is that?

Why should a teenaged girl with no credentials be more determined to believe she deserves the world on a platter than a thirty something with a resume peppered with successful interships and clerkships, a pile of degrees, and licenses lining her walls? If anything the roles should be reversed. I should be more willing to demand the world now than I have ever been, or at the least, more willing to believe I deserve it, should my hard work and diligence result in a nicely sized slice.

Yet, here I am. Can I?…. Should I?…. Have I paid enough dues?….Worked hard enough?….Do I have enough experience?…..Is everyone else out there better than me?/smarter than me?/more prepared than me?/better connected than me?…

Oh how that list drones on.

Today I decided to throw the list out. Tear it up, throw it out, tell my older, “wiser” self to shut the fuck up, and start believing in myself again.

Let me tell you something my teenaged self knew intrinsically; no one else out there in the world is going to come along and reinforce you. Your boss isn’t going to come along and tell you how amazing you are, and how much they need you at the company, and hand you a promotion. If you want to get ahead, you are going to have to believe you deserve it, and then make the people with the power to promote you believe you deserve it.

And if you are like me, and you have your own business, no one is going to walk into your door and tell you what an amazing business you have. You are going to have to sell them on it. Opening your doors to the world is like opening your heart and soul. You have to push them open, and them gather the world into them, so you had damn well better believe with ever fiber of your being that you are absolutely amazing. I have never met a client who went out of their way to tell me what an amazing lawyer I was, unless they started out as an old family friend.

So today marks the start of a new era of temerity and chutzpah.

Yes, I can do anything. I have my own business, I have a license to sue, and damn it, I am just that damn good.

Dragging Ass…

My medication’s most prominent side effect this week is an overwhelming need to sleep. This has been compounded by the mini-dictator’s sudden need to arise and begin conquering the world between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m. Sometimes, life and parenthood do not mix well, like high heels and tapered jeans. (Sorry y’all, this look will never not be tacky.)

I saw my doctor on Wednesday and she seems to think I am likely to adjust out of the “semi-comatose” phase I am currently in, get less distracted, and regain my appetite. However, my intense, sudden, and continued weight loss has gotten her to slow down my medicine ramp up, so I am still only half way to my expected dose. I will remain here until the sense of needing to sleep all fucking day goes away and I can start adding more pills again.

While waiting for my appointment I found a pamphlet from the Epilepsy Foundation on the table by my chair. I picked it up and was instantly struck by it’s heading. “You are not an Epileptic! You are a person with Epilepsy.” It shouted at me, clearly attempting to reassure me that my life was not about to completely change now that I had this … well… life changing diagnosis. (All righty Mr. cheerfully bright yellow pamphlet… I’ve got some time to kill… let’s see what you’ve got to say.)

Intrigued, I opened the pamphlet and began to read. The first two thirds were a very informative discussion about the wide range of variances between epileptic diagnoses, the differing treatments for them, and a fairly comprehensive examination of the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Family Medical Leave Act. The overall theme remained clear though, as a Person with Epilepsy, I can still work, play, run, lead a healthy, normal life, etc. I just have to make a few minor adjustments to my new, state shall we say, and I will be off and running again.

Then, just when I was feeling cheered and starting to relax a little, I got to the safety portion of the pamphlet. Not too surprisingly, here there wasn’t any header about being a person with Epilepsy instead of being an Epileptic, no here there was a lot of emphasis about having your floors carpeted in extra deep pile with added padding and “looking for rounded corners when shopping for furniture”. There was even a section on what to do if you need to wear a helmet at work.

After spending two thirds of the pamphlet assuring me that the my life would change only minimally as a result of my diagnosis, this cheerful bright yellow pamphlet was now urging me to replace my brand new, first ever set of designer ceramic dinnerware, (You know, my fucking post college, adult dishes that I finally bought last year and picked out all by myself) with plastic plates and cups to minimize cuts in the event of a seizure. Technically, I am not even supposed to be cooking with the stove, as the safest route for me would be to cook solely in the microwave.

It went further to suggest I use a cart to take dinner from the kitchen to the dining room, to insure that I avoid any dangerous episodes a “person with epilepsy” might have while transferring hot food to and from the kitchen. A cart, as in, at the Dim Sum restaurant cart, or the middle school cafeteria cart!

I won’t even go into the bathroom safety, except to say we will be rehanging the doors, so they open outward.

I have a small chance of having the kind of seizure these precautions are meant to protect against, but not such a small chance that my doctor has cleared me for bath taking alone. She even lectured me on how dangerous bathrooms are for Epileptics. Apparently this is my new life, I take these medications, hope they prevent these types of seizures, and then carpet my house in really deep pile. Suddenly I am looking at my house the same way I did when Otter and Monkey started crawling and walking.

If I ever develop petit and grand mal seizures, will I fall and bump my head on that? Could that hurt or kill me? Should I get rid of it and replace it with something less potentially harmful? Do I need to gate off the fireplace?

Am I, at 33, seriously babyproofing my house for myself?!

Coming out of the emotional closet…

Before I begin this attempt at unadulterated internet communication I feel it necessary to explain that I have become one of those “Pollyanna” people who rarely admit to being anything other than fine. I wish I could say it was out of some brave desire to save those around me from my problems, but in reality it stems from stress and exhaustion, and the fact that talking about my problems means dealing with them. Dealing with my problems, on an emotional level, is a lot harder than simply “moving past” them and on with my life.

Of course, I am perfectly capable of ignoring the effect this lack of dealing has on my life. Hence my reason for being here, tonight, and writing this.

I am not fine.

I am stressed, exhausted, overloaded, sad, and generally too busy to do anything about the above.

I am terrified that my new practice is going to fail, and that even if it succeeds it will happen too late to make a difference in our current precariously balanced financial situation. Everyone tells me it takes three years to make a go at a practice, but tell that to the fucking credit card companies and student loan holders who ask for a combined total of over $2000.00 a month. I don’t have three years to make this a success. I have to succeed at something now.

To top it off, in an effort to lower that frightening $2000.00 a month by deferring my loans, I have gone back to school part time. Therefore I am spending 10 – 15 hours a week on a classload I don’t need just to buy me time to build up the practice. My class time interferes with my practice time, and the babysitting help I have is used up for school and I haven’t even had time to work remotely close to as much as I should have in one class. I am bound to fail it, which shouldn’t matter, except that it will show up on my transcripts if I wish to apply for graduate school someday. Which I do.

I never have time to clean my house, we don’t have the money to fix the leaky roof or the swollen floorboards or hire an exterminator for the hideously large flying ants that have invaded the rooftop deck and pop into the masterbathroom for a shower or a spa from time to time. We have a broken dishwasher that we can’t afford to fix, even though that means more than tripling the time we spend doing dishes.

I am sucking at being a mom right now because I don’t have a lot of time to spend with my children and they are “babysat” by the television more than I ever wanted them to be. I don’t have the energy or the time to play a lot, and I often feel as though all I do is oversee them, instead of interacting with them. I occassionally remedy this by ditching work and school to play with them, but that always results in less success in work and school.

I am not the best partner right now because I am so stressed out that I never feel as though I have time to be a wife. I rarely play and laugh anymore, and I have developed an uncanny ability to fight and argue with my darling husband. I used to take all the things he said with the idea that he meant well, even if they came out really badly. This is an important thing to do when you live with an engineer, they really think from a different perspective and find nothing initially wrong with telling you a dress makes you look “hippy”. To them, it’s a problem solving thing. Thusly it is enormously important that I retain my sense of humor and ability to recognize that he means well and isn’t being a dick.

I am sad because as much as I love my life, and I do, I don’t dream anymore. I realize on every level that I am incredibly blessed. I have an amazing husband, who is a best friend and partner in addition to being a spouse. I have two funny, intelligent, caring, sweet, and lovely children who I get to spend most of each day with. I have a lovely home that, as of yet, is not in danger of foreclosure, and my husband has a job that pays most of our bills. I wouldn’t trade anything about my life at all. I look at my life and I feel like an ass for complaining about it for even a moment.

As a child I spent hours building castles in the air, dreams about what my life would someday be. I don’t do that anymore. It seems a waste of time to dream about things that will never be. I miss being able to lose myself in a rosy image of my future. I miss my dreams.

So I am not fine these days. I don’t know if there is anything to do about it, other than continue to move on with my life and do what I have set out to do. I don’t know why I finally felt like saying this, online, tonight, but I couldn’t help myself. I guess this is part of saying goodbye to my childhood, and hello to everything adult.

Thank you for listening.