Friday, December 30, 2011


So, I've been reading. Reading like an addict, which is something I've been accused of on more than one occasion, and by more than one individual: You're addicted to reading. You just check out. It's like you'd rather read than hang out. You totally zone out. You don't even hear us when we talk.

Which, most of the time? Yeah. Reading addict. Confessed.

I've been soaking up SAHM stories wherever I can find them, and I've come to realize: I'm not a SAHM. I'm a teacher. A part-time teacher, working MWF from home, but I'm still a teacher. The teacher in me bubbles up to the surface; there's not a whole lot I could do about it, even if I wanted to.

So: Reading Addict. Teacher.

I always wanted a mentor. I spent years fantasizing that I would meet someone who knew everything I want to know. She would be a yogi, and a poet, and a storyteller. She would have practiced ballet and studied neuroscience, with a minor in anthropology, and she would always effortlessly look good (without ever having studied fashion) because her skin glowed with fresh air, pine trees and the wide open mystery of living. I never found her.

But the reading addict in me (she devours the written word like a crack addict; makes no distinction between the back of the cereal box, the New York Times, a hand-drawn graphic novel found in the woods, someone else's junk mail, an old love letter from my husband, Anna Karenina, Brown Bear, Brown Bear), she read somewhere (self help literature maybe, or a quote from Ghandi) that if you can't find what you want, try to become what you want.

And so I became a teacher, and I headed down the road I imagined my imaginary mentor would have headed down. Except it's slow going, because there are no gurus here.

There is just me.

And so I'm a beginner at yoga: teaching senior citizens and learning from books, websites, and practice. And I wrote poetry for a few years, when I was younger, but never really progressed beyond loving and imitating the Beats. Now I'm a storyteller for children and -occasionally- in this space. The last time I took a ballet class was in high school. Actually, no, that's not true. I took a class with two of my sisters when we lived in Arizona. Spring of 2000, I'd guess. I loved the barre work, still. I liked barre work as a child, too. I've studied neuroscience in the context of early childhood education, but anthropology remains a pipe dream, right alongside looking great without effort.

There's this image I've long held in my head, about turning 35 (which I did last March), and it's been flashing through my mind again recently. I'm in a large crowded hallway. If I examine it further, the hallway is a replica of the first floor of the Catholic elementary school I attended, which housed kindergarten through second grades. We're all trying to get in line, and I'm late. The line starts to move forward, and I slip in at the last minute, and I don't get caught. I made it! I am full of relief.

Just before my 35th birthday I returned to work, following maternity leave after the birth of my second child. Married? Check! Kids? Check! Job? Check! House? Check! I made it. Full of relief.

And then it all went to hell. Well, that's not precisely true. Only my job went to hell. Or wherever jobs go when they're killed by Congress. The back of a very long line of lobbyists, perhaps. A purgatory worse than hell.

I thought I was going to stay home with my kids. And then, you know, babysit. No biggie. But the imaginary mentor I've been imitating all these years? It turns out she's really, truly come into her own as a teacher. And every time enthusiasm bubbles up inside me and then overflows into joy? It's because I'm giving her free reign.

I'm a teacher. Losing my job doesn't put a damper on that, because it's not just a job. It's a calling. But it's also my career, and I'd like what I'm doing now to further it, even if I'm not technically in the workforce.

So in 2012, I guess I'll have to figure out what it means to be a teacher, working from home, with no employer. I've put the imaginary mentor on the job. And if she can't do it? Well, I guess I'll just have to do some more reading.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Still here. Just hibernating

I feel bad about going missing from this space. I have a whole lot of half written posts cramming the crevices of my mind, but when I try to write, I ..... wander off. Into my mind, or into the other room where I find myself mindlessly tidying, or into the never-ending wormhole that is the rest of the internet where I read instead of write.

It seems as if time is just careening by me, and I can't catch up. My baby turned one, and I can't finish the post for her birthday. I love her so, but the cost of caring for her almost constantly is a certain lack of focus. My boy can say, and do, and imagine new things almost every day, and they're slipping by me while I run, run, run, race in place, just maintaining the status quo. Just getting us all in clean clothes, and bathing every other day or so. Just planning a week's worth of meals at a time and getting the toys back on the shelves.

It's not too much, although it sometimes feels that way. It's just enough that it stretches me in every direction, and anything extra means something else has to go. I watched a new baby for a friend of mine who was returning to work and had childcare fall through at the last minute. He was a sweet boy, who was happy as long as he was in my arms. But with my own daughter not quite ready to relinquish my arms full-time, and my preschool son, and the two toddlers I watch three days a week, it was a lot to take on. I survived, and then suddenly there was just a week until Christmas.

We've been hibernating over our holiday break. The kids play on the floor, and the husband and I cuddle in warm, snuggly blankets and try to trick each other into changing the next diaper. New Year's is coming, and I'm full of ideas, and excited for what's to come.

I hope words are among the blessings to come. I miss writing. I miss you guys. I hope all of your holidays have been wonderful.

But I'm not quite ready to disentangle myself from the snuggly blankets just yet.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Really Funny Story About The Time I Nearly Lost My Mind Taking Care of Five Kids Under Four For Ten Days

At least I'm hoping it's really funny, once it's over. Because right now I'm smack-dab in the middle of the story, approaching the peak of the narrative, which is probably where my brain explodes and my head shoots around the room like a loosed balloon slipping from your fingers before it's tied, or bounces off walls like a ping-pong ball in a greasy pizza arcade. Why? Because: BABIES!

Okay, perhaps I exaggerated. I blame: BABIES! I had five kids under four three days last week, and two days this week, and four under four today, and three under four the remaining of the ten days. But whatever. That's far more math than I'm currently capable of doing.

It's two: BABIES all ten days. An eleven month old (teething) baby, and a four month old (teething) baby, and for those of you who can't add, that's A WHOLE LOTTA MOTHERFUCKIN' BABIES!!!11!@#%! I warned you about math already. Brain no compute good. Because: BABIES. Need things. All time.

And the future love of my life, the cleaning lady, who is needed more than ever because: BABIES, has yet to start because I can't leave the house because: BABIES!

So all I'm saying is, there better be a really funny punch line coming up. Even if it's at my expense. Which I have a feeling it is. But I'm so tired I'll probably laugh really hard for a while before I even catch on.



Thursday, December 8, 2011

One Brand New and Marvelous Thing

I have so many things I could tell you about. So many nights I've planned to write, and then the couch beckons, and the soft, fleecy blanket gets tucked around my toes, and all my good intentions are fast asleep before I type the first word. So tonight I'll tell you just one thing.

Since beginning this new chapter in my life, as a SAHM, or a WAHM, or a homeschooler of the infant-toddler variety, or whatever it is that I am since losing my job, there is just one thing that has troubled me. Just one thing that makes me feel as if I'm failing, as if working as hard and as fast as I can will never be enough. Just one thing that overwhelms me, fills me with resentment, and makes me question my ability to continue on this path. And I know there's no one in my life who can help me overcome this. I love my husband, but he can't be there for me in the ways I need. I've known for a while now that I needed someone else, someone brand new.

Today someone came to my house. We met over Craigslist, exchanged a few e-mails, set up a time to meet. The car was late arriving, and I stood at the window, began to feel hopelessness creeping in. But then I saw a vehicle creep slowly down the street, pull up in front of a grassy patch in my neighbor's yard, and park. I rushed to the back door, waiting to answer it before I even heard a knock. We walked through the house together, spent just moments in each other's company, but before leaving, this person spoke the words that delivered me from doubt, fear, and resentment. Spoke the words I so desperately needed to hear.

Yes, after seeing the house, I can do it for the price I quoted you over e-mail. I use all green cleaning products, so it will be safe for the kids, and I use a steam mop on the hardwoods. I can start next week, so just e-mail me your schedule and I'll fit you in a slot.

I have a housekeeper.

And I won't know for sure until next week, but I think I'm in love.