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Archive for October, 2006

I’ve gotten a couple of emails from kindly relatives, now that I’ve come out of the closet, wondering how I have the time to write this thing. I think it is safe to assume that really means: shouldn’t you be cleaning your messy house up, doing some laundry, cleaning the house some more and perhaps trying to find a job?

So I’ll tell you exactly where I get the time. As I think I mentioned, I have Fibromyalgia (FM) – those who know me know that. It plagues me daily – my whole day is structured around pain management. When it starts to get bad, I take my painkillers (before it gets too bad, or it is too late). And we aren’t talking Tylenol here. It takes an annoying hour for the drugs to kick in. I have discovered that if I just continue about my day, folding the endless laundry and picking up the endless dropped toys and making the endless meals, that the painkillers won’t actually make a difference. In order for them to start to work, I have to stop moving for at least half an hour before they start to work. Lying down is the most preferable, but also the most frustrating. Sitting in front of the TV works, and sometimes I do that with the kids or while writing my journal, but if I get it early enough, sitting in front of the computer works too.

Now, I could be working in front of the computer, and most of the time I do, but all work and no play makes me even crabbier than I already am. I like to write. I relaxes me. Relaxation is good, especially if you have FM, and so I do it. And if I am going to do it, you might as well get to read it.

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Speaking of the FM, I was talking to a good friend yesterday who is going through some health issues of her own. She’s always been outrageously healthy. She eats well and exercises, so she’s having a rough time with suddenly being less capable. She’s exhausted and frustrated with her inability to get everything done, or even to get much of anything done. I hung out and had tea with her and sympathized. Boy, did I sympathize. I told her about how I struggle daily with the same issues of exhaustion, frustration and inability to cope, which I think made her feel a little better, because at least she’s not the only one. The thing is, I’ve known her for at least a decade, and while she knows about the FM, she didn’t really know about any of the details before and basically said, “Why do you hide this?” By hiding this sort of thing, she pointed out, we isolate ourselves. We think we’re the only ones having a rough time, for whatever reason.

I hide it because no one wants to appear weak and incapable, or whiney. But she’s right – it is nothing to be ashamed of. And by hiding it, I ended up doing her a disservice, because she thought she was alone in how she felt. So I think I’ll talk about the FM here. I’ll try not to whine (too much) or go on and on about it. But it is a significant part of my life, a part that I have always tried to hide lest anyone think me less competent (it all comes down to that, doesn’t it?), but maybe that isn’t the healthiest way to deal with it.

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On a basic blogging note, I can’t figure out how to get the right time zone here, so it appears that I’m posting in the middle of the night. I’m not. I just have to figure all this bloggy stuff out. If that is the worst of my problems with this page, that isn’t so bad, right?

 

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Where are the damn manuals?!

One of Asher’s friends decided he no longer likes his own Yu Gi Oh cards and gave Asher his entire deck. Asher is delighted. I am less so. Now my bribery power has significantly weakened and he wouldn’t practice fiddle tonight. Much weeping and wailing. It wouldn’t be so hard if we had time to practice in the morning, because the poor boy is so wiped out by school that by the end of the day he’s too exhausted to do anything complicated.

I’m very frustrated, because he really has talent and I’d hate to see him quit, but I can’t force him to practice. I only get a tantrum from that. I told him I’d talk to his teacher about different songs – maybe slightly easier so he gets a quicker sense of accomplishment or something. I don’t care how fast he progresses. I just want him to stay with it.

Meanwhile, Maya started sighing and sulking because I haven’t bribed her to practice her piano. Maya is a typical responsible first child and fear of her teacher’s displeasure has always been enough to keep her practicing, but she’s outraged that Asher is getting something she is not. I offered her Yu Gi Oh cards. She was not amused. We’ve been trying to think of an equivalent, but haven’t been able to. So, listening to me negotiate with Asher, she decided that the reason I haven’t come up with something for her is that I just don’t love her as much. And when she told me she wanted to quit piano a couple of weeks ago, she complained, I didn’t sit and talk to her. (I did, but she was already feeling crabby, so she conveniently forgot that. Suddenly I never sit and talk to her. Ever.) So, I had both of them whining at me and no dinner started and it was 5:30.

Why do what seem like simple parenting choices – play an instrument, offer ‘incentives,’ sit and talk to your kid – suddenly get complicated? I yelled, “Aarrrgh! Where are the instruction manuals?! You know – when you get new stuff you get a manual. No one gave us manuals when we got you guys and I don’t know what I’m supposed to do now?”

So much for convincing them I have a similar level of competence as I always thought my mother had. Now they just think I’m insane. And they are probably right.

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To tell or not to tell?

I’m trying to decide who to tell about this blog. I’ve already told all my on-line friends, the june mommies. (I joined a ‘due in June’ listserve just about 11 years ago, back when the internet was young and I was pregnant with Maya, and they have been part of my life ever since.) And I’ve told one brother, who lives far away and with whom I communicate too infrequently. I figured he can keep up with his neices’s and nephew’s antics this way. But I haven’t told J. He won’t be thrilled. And I haven’t told relatives on J’s side who might similarly like to keep up with the kids’ lives, because then it would get back to J. And no ‘real life’ friends.

But I’m not sure why. I like the idea of just being able to present opinions and have them not come back to me in such a personal way. But then it occurred to me that I could keep it secret and therefore feel free to rave on about when J annoys me or personal opinions I haven’t yet shared (although, in truth, I tend to ‘share’ my personal opinions quite liberally with pretty much everyone), but then I face the possibility of being ‘outed’. That would be awkward.

It does seem absurd to tell strangers about my kids, but not relatives and friends. And I’ve already had to figure out how to straddle this awkward place between writing about my life and respecting privacy in the columns I wrote, so I think I’ll just go the open-to-all route and tell everyone. And save the bad-mouthing for strangers.

Hi, honey! Welcome to my blog!

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Parenting Through Bribery

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I love Yu Gi Oh cards. This is not something I ever thought would happen, but it turns out they are the perfect bribery for fiddle practice. Asher plays the fiddle. This is his second year at it. He’s got some natural talent, which means that last year was pretty easy for him, which means that he liked practicing then. When you get something on the first try and everyone is impressed, it is fun.

This year, he has to work a bit harder and Asher doesn’t like work. Once he gets started on practicing, he usually does just fine. J and I call it’ going into the zone,’ where he suddenly starts to concentrate and play beautifully. But getting him to that point can be tough, especially for a boy who normally has the attention span of a gnat. ‘Practice now and one day you find it easy again’ doesn’t do it for him. ‘Practice now and you will get this Yu Gi Oh card I am waving in your face’ does.

I believe in politically correct terms, we aren’t supposed to call this using ‘bribery,’ but rather, using ‘incentives.’ Whatever. It works.

So far, the only problem I have with the Yu Gi Oh cards is that he wants me to play with him. The friend who taught him the rules clearly just liberally made up his own version that actually makes no sense and, as I’ve found out, the real rules are hugely confusing too. He keeps asking me to play, but when J was away, I was always trying to do at least 3 other things in the evening and couldn’t concentrate on a game with him. Friday night, I tried to tell him this: “Tomorrow, Daddy will be home and there will be two parents in this house, so I’ll have a better chance of being able to just sit and play a game with you.” But I didn’t get past, “Tomorrow night, Daddy …” because he made this sound of utter disgust and yelled, “Daddy! Daddy!? Daddy can’t play this! He’ll never be able to figure it out!”

So I get to be the cool parent, but J gets the last laugh, because man is that stupid game boring.

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Well, of course

Boo has a great big snotty cold and her nose runs constantly. She demands I wipe it for her, running up to me and yelling dramatically, “Bugger alert! Bugger alert!” (Bugger/booger – both words are so gross there’s no point in correcting her.)

The other day, she was sitting on my lap while I put something away and I noticed the nose was running again. I absently told her to go get a tissue. She didn’t. I continued what I was doing, not paying close attention as she picked up my free hand and swiped it her face, wiping copious amounts of snot on my fingers. When I said, “Ew! What did you do that for?” she became sincerely offended at my lack of understanding and said in a hurt voice, “But, but .. that’s what moms are for.”

Just in case you didn’t know.

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but I’m going to do it anyway!

I have no idea how to blog, and really shouldn’t be doing it because the last thing I need is more distraction, but the idea just keeps pulling at me, and I’ve finally caved. Here we go …

The biggest reason I shouldn’t be doing this is that I’m already a writer, and I have so many other things I need to be writing. I have a couple chapters of a history book to be working on, primarily. I am an obsessive journal-keeper. Frankly, it is the journal that has been the biggest block to starting a blog, because I’m afraid my online journal will take up what little time I have to write my old-fashioned one, which I have been writing faithfully for 24 years now. But I suppose if I find that is the case, I could just quit. No one is making me do anything – it’s just all my own personal writing obsession here.

So, a little about me: I am a mom of three kids, Maya – 10, Asher – 7, and Boo – 4. I’ve been married to J for 11 years. I’m Canadian, Jewish, live in the burbs, recycle, a trained doula who doesn’t practice because I can’t get rid of my own kids easily enough, and I have Fibromyalgia. My house is a mess, but I never give up on the hope that I’ll one day win over the clutter. I quit my full-time job when my son was a year to be a stay-at-home mom (another stay-at-home mom blog – just what the world needs!) and freelance writer, but then Boo came along and the writing part has been slow to take off. Still, I manage some work. The most fun was a sporadic column in the city paper. As I go along, I’ll probably include those columns here, when the inspiration hits.

When I was about 20 years old and home from university for the summer, I remember watching my mother cope expertly with some crisis, probably involving my aging grandmother. I realized that my mother always knew what she was doing. She was competent. I felt in no way competent. But I was already 20 – technically an adult. When would I feel that way? So I asked her if she could please tell me exactly when I would actually feel like a capable adult. She told me, “I’ll let you know. I’m just making it up as I go.” And so am I.

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