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Sunday, November 27, 2011

traveling with children (formerly known as vacation)

Traveling with smalls is never easy.  Smalls usually ask way too many times how long it's going to take to get to wherever you are going.  Smalls also have a need to use the restroom at the most inconvenient times.  Inevitably, a small's hunger is inversely proportionate to how easily food is acquired, meaning:  if a small is hungry, there usually is no food around.

And while all of the above is challenging with smalls, nothing can compare to the actual travel itself. Namely, airplanes.  Oh yeah, and the irritating people you sometimes have to sit next to.

Take my most recent flight.  It was a red-eye and I was stuck as the odd man out; the only one not sitting next to a family member.  Instead, I was sitting next to a gentleman who slept the entire flight.  His eyes closed upon taxiing for take off, and didn't open until the seat belt sign went off upon landing.

Quite incredible.

Now, this gentleman clearly was not concerned with his airplane neighbors.  He hogged the armrests, splayed his legs open, and generally took up way more space than he was allotted, without regard for his cramped flight companions.  Miserable.

Nowadays, the average seat size, width, and distance from the other seats is meant for someone the size of Tiny Tim, which may be generous, considering that the smalls seemed miserable too.  I remember looking over at my smalls mid-flight, checking to see if they were ok.  They were squirming and shifting, complaining that they had no room and that they were so uncomfortable.  Wow, if THEY were uncomfortable, clearly we adults were going to be crippled.

Airplane travel nowadays is definitely an international Abu Ghraib.

Upon landing we had to go through customs.  The smalls were tired, not understanding why we had to wait on line.  And they were whining.  Oh, how they were whining!  We had a melt down at the car rental counter, and then the drive to our destination was charming.  And while we knew the smalls were tired and could barely help themselves, we were tired too, and on our very last nerve ending.

Not a good combo.

We made it to the house where we were staying; the melted turquoise Caribbean Ocean was calling and we all went to the beach to recharge. As I watched the smalls frolic, building sand castles, squealing with joy, it felt worth it -- the hell of traveling, and the hell of traveling with smalls.


Suddenly the sibling fighting began, complaints of hunger ensued, and I realized that it was really just like at home.  It was just like home -- except with a good backdrop.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

this is it?

After many sleepless nights, endless stressing, and various "what if" scenarios, I quit my job.  Or rather, I quit my career.  I blew it up with a metaphorical hand grenade.

People thought I was nuts.  Some still do.

My son was 3.5 and my daughter was 1.  I had juggled conference calls, meetings, and deadlines since the moment they were born.  At the time, I felt so under pressure that I could barely breathe, and now that I was able to breathe, I didn't remember how.  In hindsight, I think during the transition I created pressure so that I could just get things done:  HURRY, we have to get to the market.  QUICK, in the car, I don't want to be late...  We have to clean-up your room NOW, before we get ready for dinner...

The first year was honestly like a debriefing period.  I needed time to decompress.

And then the second year, it hit me -- what the hell was I doing?  Was I just a taxi service, short order cook, referee, therapist, nurse, laundress and maid?  Well, yes.  Apparently, I am.  I struggle daily with accepting that this is how life is now.  Not forever, but for this moment.

Reconciling this ain't for sissies...

That's why I started blogging.  Not to prove anything, or to get anything, but so I didn't go crazy and start believing the most important thing I had to express was whether or not X gym class for kids was better than Y gym class, strategizing battle on the latest diaper rash, or researching whether tea tree oil really does prevent lice.

Surely there was more to my life than this.  Had I become that uninteresting? Please, someone just shoot me.

I created the blog, because I decided that I needed some external validation.  Working life gave that to me every day...  Mommy life, if you're lucky, gives it to you once every six months, and that is usually in the form of some back-handed compliment from a competitive Uber-Mom type.  Not very satisfying.

Sometimes my smalls make me crazy, and the job of being a Mom is beyond stultifying.  But, I'm raising my kids.  They are being shaped by me, the good and the bad.  I am not missing out on their proud moments or their tantrums.  I get to watch them hurt and watch them heal.  I'm discovering their virtues and their vices, and slowly I'm starting to see the fog thin and a picture of who they really are become clear.  When one of my smalls hears or sees something funny and then looks at me, their eyes smiling, sharing their humorous thought just through a glance, or when one tells me they love me, but then adds for emphasis,"so, so very much" and I know they really mean it.   I love those moments...

Hopefully when the curtain of my life begins to close, I will look back on this mundane time and see that it was, strangely, the most beautiful because it was just every day. This is my gift, to them and to myself.

So, here I am.  Writing to prevent insanity.  It's as good a reason as any, I suppose.  I know I should write more often.  I should really set time aside and make it more "regular" than I've managed to do thus far. It's just that I'm still schlepping kids to 2 different schools, the house, the dog, lunches, the list goes on and on.  And when it's over, I'm tired.  I mean really wiped.  Jesus, I could barely decide between Pampers or Huggies.

But, I figure it's good to have something to strive for, and given it's November, I'm gonna need a damn New Year's resolution anyway...