Get Off My (Optimistic) Lawn

Get Off My (Optimistic) Lawn

It happens every once in awhile… I’d say about every two or three months. Just when I think I’m doing okay as a parent/wife/human. I’m sitting at my computer, sifting through my various social media outlets, and I see an article.

I think, “Oh man, I know exactly what that one’s going to say just from the headline.”

I think, “I should not click that. I do not need to click that; I already know what it’s going to say.”

I think, “What if the title’s just click bait and it maybe just brings a different perspective?”

I think, “Look, my finger is clicking on that link right now. Huh.”

I think, “Oh, look at that. It’s exactly what I thought it would be. Now I feel like punching something. Who am I kidding? can’t punch things without crying, that hurts.”

And then I question all of the parenting decisions I’ve ever made, fret over the state of the world, and wonder if my kids will be capable of becoming rational adults, even though I know that they will be… even though I’m generally pretty confident in the decisions I make, which I have fretted over time and again…

Which is, apparently, a flawed symptom of my existence as a Gen Y/Millennial parent.

You see, this article will have certain requirements, that will almost always be fulfilled. They are:

  1. Children who play outside in the neighborhood until the sun sets, and NOT A SECOND SOONER.
  2. A mother who is casually smoking a cigarette in the kitchen after sufficiently hurricane-proofing her home so that children cannot come in before said sunset.
  3. Total or near-total omission of any positive aspects that Inherently Evil Modern Parenting has brought to the world.
  4. Exaggerated examples of spoiled, lazy children who will surely bring about the apocalypse via their Youtubes and all things “on fleek.”

What article am I talking about? Why, let’s take a walk down the lane toward something I call the “good ole days lament” article. (I mean, I’m a Modern Parent, so I’m probably going to ask you to hold my hand while we walk, and I might ask you about your day and your friends, so I hope that doesn’t put you off too much.)

Now, I’m not going to pretend to be omniscient and say I know exactly what goes through the heads of these authors. I think that general assumptions are one of the key flaws of the GODL blog post, anyway, so we’ll avoid that route. I did sit down to write, though, because the blog post I read got me GOOD AND RILED UP, so I’ve got to figure out an angle that I want to take.

Sure, I could link to that article and counter the author’s thoughts, point-by-point, but my point is that these articles are (mostly) the same, and that they are unhelpful. They make me throw up my hands and say, “All right. Okay, so… what? What then? Clearly this is my responsibility, right? Am I supposed to fully separate my daily life from my kids so that I can, what, focus my efforts on my home or my phone conversations? Do you want me to stop talking to my kid about the ins and outs of human socialization? Should I not talk to my kid about the importance of standing up to someone belittling another human? Or DOES ALL OF THIS HAVE TO HAPPEN WHILE DOING KNITTING (if child is female) OR WATCHING BOXING (if male) IN ORDER TO BE ACCEPTABLE AND AM I SUPPOSED TO BE SMOKING CIGARETTES RIGHT NOW!?”

Now, clearly, this is a common reaction of someone who has just read a blog post that makes her want to punch things… not a thoughtfully penned piece of written brilliance from a cool-headed intellectual… which is what I’d like to create/be… but, like most things, I land somewhere in the middle.

So, I’m going to take the middle ground, which is (usually) the proper approach to any hot topic, unless you’re trying to be inflammatory or you have written something immediately after reading something inflammatory without sitting and thinking about it a bit. This blog post you’re reading right here? We’re at about 50/50 want-to-punch-annoyed and thought-about-this-for-awhile-now-cool-headed.

My angle for this post is to talk to the people who read a GODL article and feel dismayed. To you, I say: “Did you make all of your parenting decisions willy-nilly? (probably not) Are you proud of the person you’re raising? (probably) Should your kid maybe help out a little more around the house or maybe play fewer video games? (I don’t know, I’m not living in your house) Do you think you’d feel better as a human if you walked uphill both ways in the snow and then told your kid to do the whole thing again by him/herself without a coat so that they can learn life skills while you make a phone call and wait for them at the top of the hill? (uhhhh)”

Okay, so maybe I’m still feeling a little snarky and punchy, but my point is this: If you feel okay with how you’re parenting, good. If you feel not-so-good about certain things, that’s also a good thing. Balance. Balance, balance, balance. If we get too complacent in our parenting, we lose some of the ability to really learn and teach our kids… and if we sit and lament about the good old days too much, we lose the ability to embrace incredibly important advances in parenting and social progress in general. I’m sure, life as a kid in the 60s and 70s was great (if you were lucky enough to land in a safe and healthy home), and I’m sure that life as a kid right now (same caveat as before) is great… and I’m sure that both times offered crappy aspects, too.

I don’t know a lot, but I do know that many of us are genuinely doing our best, and that if you want to come over and talk to me about how you’re worried about your kid’s friends/grades/soccer team/ballet class/soccer-ballet team, then by all means, go for it.

The good old days will always be haunting us and those damned kids today will always be “lazy and disrespectful”… granted, they might be disrespectful on hoverboards (like actual ones) and the lawns that we’re yelling from might be made from futuristic Mars grass, but it’s not going to stop.

I hope I can remember that someday when I’m rocking away in the bionic rocking chair I’ve had grafted to my body as I look out at the flying-car-highway at the end of the lane.

Cue the nervous babble.

Cue the nervous babble.

Everyone has something big going on for them that probably seems small and silly to someone else. I, for example, don’t care too much about fashion or makeup, so I have a hard time relating to big decisions about those types of things… but that doesn’t make them any less significant for other people.

I know that fashion and makeup can tie in with freedom of expression, creativity, and self-esteem… and those things are not little by any means.

All that being said, my super big thing right now is the fact that I just auditioned for a series of student-directed one acts at the university here in town. The performances will be around 30 minutes each, one night only, and directed by college students.

Why did I start out this blog post on the defensive? I didn’t plan to start it out that way… but here we are. I can’t help but feel like this big thing seems small to others… to people with higher levels of theatrical education or people who are embarking on missionary trips or curing cancer. No one has said anything to make me feel this way; I just do… which simply reinstates to me that this is a big thing for me, and that I should think about it.

So. Here I go, thinking. Brain-spouting? Mind-barfing?

I’m thinking about trying out for these shows when I was actually in college. I’m thinking about how I would think, “Ah, these are open up to the community? Like, anyone can just come in and audition for these?” I would see the same “older” (*cough* in their 30s *cough*) people audition every time and think I was somehow… better… because I was younger? Puke.

Obviously, I’m not proud of those thoughts, but they came slamming back to me yesterday when I cautiously walked into the same theater I used to flounce into, and met the friendly (also mildly amused) faces of a few college students in their element.

Frigging weird, you guys. Just so frigging weird.

As I filled out the form I’ve filled out so many times before, I’m writing down the information of a completely different person. My weight is higher, I actually said I wouldn’t change my hair, and I heartily hesitated before the “scantily clad” part. Then I had to write down my most recent theatrical experience… which was about seven years ago.

I think, at the heart of this, are the questions this experience brings up:

“Was I ever any good?”

“Was I just super lucky?”

“Did I spend five years as a Theatre major for nothing?”

“Was it just my boobs?”

Who knows? Sure, these questions are a little overblown; there’s a pretty good chance the answers all lie somewhere in the middle… but I’m thinking them nonetheless.

I’m going to drive up to the theater tonight and check a cast list for the first time in seven years. I’ll let y’all know how that goes.

Winter Poem

Winter Poem

Winter Poem

 

Once a move of pregnant desperation,

Now a meditation of nasal salvation.

As a tea smith prepares his favorite brew,

I, too, mix a potion that shall see me through.

 

Like the grand canyon, carved by the winds of time,

This solution will erode my sinuses of slime.

 

A staccato drip, with hopes of a steady stream,

So that I may breathe silently, through both nostrils, and dream.

 

I meet my gaze, through tears, saliva, and saline,

In the mirror ahead, with its Crest-speckled sheen.

And I nod, nod with mildly disgusted appreciation

For the opportunity to experience this sublime irrigation.

Rhinitis, sinusitis, with whichever ailment I am fraught,

At my side you’ll find my hero, my warrior, my Neti pot.

 

I would bow my head in thanks, if I could,

But my left nostril shall fill, well, perhaps if I stood…

No, no, that still isn’t good.

 

So, indeed! Two pillows tonight it shall be,

If not for the pot, I swear twould be three!

Settling In and Giant Pickups and Stuff and Things

Settling In and Giant Pickups and Stuff and Things

One of my awesome friends just wrote a blog post focusing around the fact that she hadn’t blogged in a long time… which was a good jump-start for me. So, without further ado…

Updates, kids, updates.

Moving.

We’ve moved. We’re now living in the town where I went to college, and it is WEIRD. This is the town that watched me turn from an over-dramatic high-schooler to an over-dramatic college student, and now I’m here as a slightly less over-dramatic  adult. So weird. I don’t have a lot of intelligent things to say about that, except… it’s so weird.

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Kindergarten.

Charlie started kindergarten. His first two days were half-days, so it still felt a lot like preschool. We’ll see how things go on Monday when he goes ALL DAY.

K-Town

Kearney Observations:

-It is an amazing feeling to let your kid run off through a park with a new friend and not feel like they’re in danger the SECOND they leave your vision. I love Omaha SO MUCH and I miss it like CRAZY but also a woman got stabbed closing up her shop that was a few stores down from where I worked, and that is totally terrifying.

-I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had a GIANT-ASSED pickup pull out in front of me and then drive SUPER SUPER SLOWLY after doing so. Usually there are high school-aged dudes in cutoff shirts driving

-On a different but similar note, a policeman pulled out in front of me, then pulled me over to apologize for doing so, and provided me with the phone number to report him, if I chose to do so. I did NOT choose to do so. Thanks Mr. Super Nice Police Dude.

-On a note similar and also usually involving GIANT-ASSED pickups full of dudes, people seem to like to race when the traffic lights turn green. Like, there’s engine revving and a definite feeling of competition at 2:00 pm for utterly no reason at this random intersection. Am I sending off competitive vibes from the inside of my van with “Bananaphone” by Raffi playing at mild volume? Is the strawberry-flavored toothpaste stain on the front of my shirt sending out overly-dominant signals? Have I somehow offended the artificial testicles hanging from below their Ford F150? Is that how you write out “Ford F150?” Either way, I’m baffled.

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– The public library here is wonderful. They have a beautiful children’s section and a study room with a wall-sized window, which is amazing.

-The view from our house is gorgeous. I get to watch jackrabbits play together in the morning and have a full view of any weather rolling in. It’s surreal and beautiful.

Work

One of the main reasons I’ve been slacking in the blogging department is my work. Between moving and parenting and deadlines, I haven’t had much time for anything else. Here are a few of the things I’ve been working on that you might be interested in:

Mugs Half Full (An original parenting comic from Erin at Human Illustrations and myself):

Mission: Improbable –> This one’s about the difficulties of ACTUALLY getting out of the house… even for fun adult time.

Museum Memories: The Good, the Frazzly, and the Bubbly

Freelancing Stuff at ApproveMe:

Don’t be a Jack of All Trades… be a Freelance Superhero

How to Network (Without Feeling Sleazy) in 10 Simple Steps

Promises, promises.

My main goal this fall is to get a solid work schedule established, which will include keeping up this blog… even if it’s mostly just general updates. We’ll see how that goes, eh?

Stress and Stress and Stuff and Things

Stress and Stress and Stuff and Things

Oh man, friends. 2015 has turned out to be quite the roller coaster so far.

The M Word

I announced it on Facebook and in a blog post on Her View from Home, but I recently realized that I never announced it here. We’re moving. Paul got a full-time lecturer position in a smaller college town, and we’ve suddenly got a very small window of time to get our affairs in order and pack up our whole lives.

That’s a very dramatic way to put it, but dramatic is just kind of how I’m feeling right now, so since this is my blog, I’m not going to fight it.

There are more pros to this change than there are cons, but the cons, to me, are suuuuper rough. We’ve been mind-blowingly lucky with the friends in Omaha who have welcomed us into our lives. I already have incredible friends in this new town, but I’ve raised my babies with these other awesome people who have raised their babies with me. I’ve swapped baby carriers, dropped my kids off with friends for the first time, and talked about preschool with these human beings. I’ve had old friendships rekindled and cultivated, and become close with people I never thought I’d meet.

The part that gets me more than my own friends is my poor, sweet Charlie. He cries every time he remembers that we’re moving, and tells me which friend he’s going to miss. I can barely even type this without turning into a blubbering mess. Ugh.

My point isn’t to be a bummer… just to express how much I love all you Omaha people, and how all I want to do when I think of leaving you is this:

 

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(That’s supposed to be a gif, but it’s clearly not giff-ing. Oh well.)

E is for Excitement

Now that I’ve gotten the lamenting out of my system for the moment, I’ve got to talk about the pros. There are so, so many pros. We’re going from a grad school/adjunct family lifestyle to that of one that involves a full-time position somewhere. That is going to be a relief to us in so many ways, ranging from financials to family time.

Kearney is so much smaller than Omaha. So, so much smaller. We will spend significantly less on gas, and will be able to ride our bikes a lot and practically. I just got a totally awesome cargo bike that can haul everything from groceries to small humans. Our lives are going to slow down significantly. Charlie will go to school, and as much as it makes me want to find another Leonardo DiCaprio gif, I know he’s ready for kindergarten, and I am also looking forward to getting some of the one-on-one time with Lucy that I used to get with Charlie.

Because the rental market in Kearney is similar to that of the gasoline situation in a Mad Max movie, we’ve found a very expensive, very large place to live. The price tag is painful and it’s definitely more house than we need, but the thought of living in a big, new home has both Charlie and I warming up a little to this whole idea of moving. Upon realizing that there are four (3.5 but from what I understand about toilets that means four whole toilets, kids) bathrooms, Charlie’s eyes lit up and he said, “MOM. That means if EVERYBODY needs to poop and pee at the same time… THEY CAN!”

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And speaking of one-on-one time, I’ll get to see a lot more of Paul. Between the consistence of his new job and the proximity of grandmas and grandpas, we’re going to be able to have a little more “hey, we’re married people!” time than we have in a verrrrrrry long time.

And it’s not like I’m moving into some place hundreds of miles away where I don’t know a soul. I’ve got another friend who just moved across the country, and I’m pretty in awe of how she’s handled it with strength and grace. I’m very lucky to be moving to a town where two of my bridesmaids live, and where I already know more than, like, 50 people. This is not going to be a frigid tundra of loneliness.

W is for Work

I have to say that, despite how NUTS these past few weeks have been, I’m super excited about the present state and future of my writing business. With Charlie going to kindergarten (again, insert ugly sobbing here) and Lucy getting older and more self-sufficient, I’m going to be finding myself with a lot more time for more work and new clients. Here’s a little link roundup of some of the newer stuff I’ve been working on, if you care about that kind of thing:

Mugs Half Full: Dad Edition 

How to Build a Proposal that Wins over Your Customers’ Hearts 

Five Lessons Freelancers can Learn from Taylor Swift 

How to Get it Done (When You Just Don’t Want To)

I’ve also been taken on over at Her View from Home as a monthly writer, which I am excited and nervous about. My writing has really switched gears from personal to business this last year, and it’s fun and terrifying to force myself to talk about my feeeeeeeeeeelings again.

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So. There’s more to write about, but this post is pretty long. These are big changes and I need to write about them. I’ve written in the past about how my blog is like a super-understanding old friend who picks right up where you left off, regardless of how long it’s been since you’ve talked. I’m reminded of that again tonight, as I think about all the other friends in my life, and how grateful I am for their understanding, and for the beautiful pieces they add to this life-sized puzzle of mine.

(In case you’re wondering, the puzzle is 1000 pieces, and depicts a bunch of coffee paraphernalia that is covered in millions of coffee beans, and is titled, “Espresso Yourself.” It’s beautiful and fun and also frustrating and perplexing as hell.)

Thanks, friends.

Rain and May and Stuff and Things

Rain and May and Stuff and Things

It has been grey and drizzly all week and I just love it so much. Our windows have been open and the smell of wet grass and dirt has been wafting in, and I swear it makes my coffee taste better and my head feel clearer. If we could have four days of grey and three days of sun every week, I would be more than satisfied.

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The big 3 0.

I turned 30 on the 30th. I always kind of quietly viewed this milestone as something I’d be upset about, since Rachel got SO UPSET about it on Friends (which is real life, you know), but as I got closer I realized that 30 is probably going to be pretty awesome. I’ve got an actual real post about this brewing, but until then, let’s just leave it with the fact that my friends and family are incredible, and life is good. Life is good.

Mugs Half Full

Erin and I had a couple of Mugs Half Full comics come out a little rapid-fire, and I’d love it if you’d check ‘em out and maybe share them if you feel compelled!

Working out the kinks.  (This one’s about exercising with the kids around.)

Moms, Memories… and Toast. (This one’s about becoming part of a long line moms, and other sentimental-but-not-too-sentimental things.)

Her View from Home

I recently submitted a post to Leslie over at Her View from Home and got asked to send in some new material. The second post I wrote is about my transition from staying home full-time to getting a part-time barista job. It’s one of the first introspective family life posts I’ve written in a long time, and has kind of turned into one of my favorites. I’m hoping the post does well enough to warrant me a regular writing gig over there, so please click on over and share if the spirit moves you!

The Gluten

I’m currently trying to limit my gluten intake, as per the suggestion of my super smart functional medicine practitioner sister. I unfortunately made this decision right before a birthday weekend and another birthday weekend so I haven’t stuck to it like I should, but I think I’m actually able to tell a difference between when I’m eating it and when I’m not. (Insert a mental image of me here, crying giant tears of butter while sitting dejectedly on a pile of bread.) Anyway, now that the ridiculous numbers of special occasions are almost out of the way, I’ll do this for real, and I’ll keep you updated. (Takes sip of delicious local beer the same way a doomed convict would walk down the hallway on his way to a firing squad.)

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Home Life

Life is very satisfying right now. It’s also incredibly frustrating and exhausting sometimes, but my kids and husband are happy and healthy, and we’ve got a buttload of turnips growing in our garden, and I haven’t really had much to do with it, because Paul’s been the garden whisperer. (I solemnly swear to make delicious things with whatever comes out of that garden, though.) That Paul guys sure is pretty awesome, and if you see him anytime soon, you should probably give him lots of high fives.

We’ve got a new Betta fish named Goldie, and Lucy has been a kitty for about two months now. She will sometimes go an entire hour in the mornings only communicating with me by saying “meow.” Charlie is starting to be able to read, and it’s pretty awesome.

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Have I mentioned how grateful I am for my friends? I have friends here and far away that fill up my heart and my brain, and this person that I’m turning into owes a lot of that to them. So, thanks, friends. Friends that I see regularly and friends that I don’t: you guys are so awesome and important to me, and we should probably all go out for Karaoke sometime soon.