Tag: Coping


The World According to Crap

The problem, as always, is perspective.

I fall, embarrassingly easily, into deep ruts. I go to sleep one night after a perfectly lovely day and wake up the next morning wrapped in pitch-black heaviness. Then comes the vast expanse of hopelessness, days thunking on like a parade of concrete tumbleweeds. I lose track of time almost immediately, and the hole in my mind chants its own dismal credo:
This is your life,
No one understands what you’re going through.
No one can help.
You are alone,
You will be washing dishes and mopping kitchen floors
and changing dirty diapers and crying in the shower
and forgetting how to create
and everything else about yourself—
you guessed it,

Even during the darkest bits, I know none of that is true. Yet I still think in those terms, doing anything I can to rationalize my senseless change in mood, grasping for something to blame. It’s just this house, I think. It’s too much, I can’t keep it clean, if only I had a housekeeper… Or, Two kids are too many, I can’t give them the attention they need, and if I hear one more whine, my head is going to roll out the door and find a new family to live with, if only we could afford full-time daycare… I think, If only I weren’t stuck in this daily routine, and If only I were in shape, and If only everyone else could be as miserable as I feel today… Perspective coated thoroughly in crap.

Of course, I never can articulate these thoughts when I’m in the midst of the muddle. I just operate under the whole weight of my feelings like a toddler, unable to form complete sentences, all fury and petulance. (Confession: I even threw a pillow at my poor husband, just because he was peacefully sleeping and I wasn’t. And I was still mad at him the next day for continuing to sleep peacefully with the pillow on his face. Because how could he sleep through my internal drama? HOW COULD HE?)

I’m familiar enough with this cycle after twenty-something years of falling to know I’m on the upswing again. Not bursting out of bed in the morning, mind you, but catching glimpses of sanity in my future. Very soon now, the rain will dry up, the pollen will settle, the stars will align slot-machine style—cherries all across—and my perspective will bob back into the light. I’ll remember how much I appreciate this little Italian apartment and the opportunity to imprint myself on it, always bettering. I’ll think of the time not too far from now when both girls will be in school, and I’ll remember how spectacularly fortunate I am to be home with them right now, always in the middle of their experiencing. I’ll realize how very gentle this daily routine is with me—how I can float on the soft structure when I lose my way—and how I need the challenges in my life, fitness, language, creative ventures. I’ll swell with gratefulness for the people who anchor me to reality, those who remind me to smile, and especially those who wake up with pillow-missiles on their faces and still hug me tight. And maybe simply writing this now will help me hold onto a glimmer of valid perspective next time I wake up alone in the dark.


Swampwater Poetry

I hate neediness, sometimes in others, always in myself. It feels like a sticky, leechy organism turning my control center into a swamp, wiggling occasionally out of my mouth in search of fresh blood to suck. It makes my bones extra-porous, as fragile as spidered glass. It makes me feel infantile, like some hideously anorexic, hormonal version of a baby. Helpless.

But sometimes I can’t help being a choking, splintering, blood-sucking mess. (Look for Dan’s upcoming book: Vampire Wife: Why Mommy Lives on a Dustpan in the Basement Now.) I run through the checklist of “I Needs”:

  • A nap every morning.
  • A nap every afternoon.
  • Some illegal, trucker-endorsed substance to keep me upright between naps.
  • A maid.
  • Regular exercise.
  • The energy to begin contemplating the idea of potentially starting regular exercise.
  • The energy to get up early, and thus be dressed and hygienic before breakfast, and thus feel less like a flea-ridden hag all morning.
  • My own personal motivational speaker. (That means you, Matt Foley!)
  • A lobotomy, or
  • A happy switch.

I hate this list. It’s like a swampwater poem. It makes me crave a chemical bath for this brain that can’t seem to find its self-sufficiency. It makes me want to tattoo a disclaimer on my forehead: WARNING: Flea-ridden hag, four months post-partum. Take her words with a grain of salt and/or a hormone pill, and if you value your own blood, KEEP AWAY FROM THE FANGS!!!!!

The doctor we talked to says that yes, of course, not to worry, this is all perfectly normal for a pregnant woman. Which–and let me be perfectly clear on this subject–I am not. Please, someone, tell me that yes, of course, not to worry, this is all perfectly normal for me, in my definitely and completely un-pregnant state of non-pregnancy. Please tell me that you’ve been here, done this. Please tell me that daily life will get easier and that I will be able to do a whole sit-up again and that this squirmy, slimy neediness will abate before I suck my family and friends dry.


Voodoo vs. Violence

This has been a weird week. I’ve woken up most mornings feeling like someone mixed together liver and onions in my soul and not even the largest tub of orange sherbet could alleviate the horror. (Not like we can actually get orange sherbet here… Excuse me while I weep.) I’ve tried blogging, but the High Voodoo Witchpriest of Blogger keeps sticking pins into a little model of my brain, particularly the part that controls EVERYTHING. Last night, some monkeys infected with rage escaped their lab and zombified everyone in England. Then this morning over breakfast, Natalie calmly said, “Mom, I don’t appreciate your singing.” (Weird, I know. I’m a wonderful singer! Which is why I don’t even sing in front of The Hubby, for fear of overwhelming him with my wonderfulness. Ahem.)

Sticker-nose 1

However, no matter how liverandoniony the last several days have been, they have been periodically jolted with a kind of happiness that voodoo can’t touch: Sophie grinning and kicking and exploding into little pieces of glittery happiness while she tells me all about her day (met a new boyfriend, learned the Riverdance, ate milk). Natalie spinning in clumsy, delighted circles, singing at the tip-top of her lungs about robots and slimy snails and how the writer’s strike should be over already and how she loves us. Dan walking in the door from work, smelling scrumptiously like his red leather coat, rain, and aftershave, his arms instantly open to wrap me up. That moment just before I crawl into bed when I peek into the girls’ room and hear them breathing in harmony, their precious little faces serene and dream-dappled. That moment just after I crawl into bed when I finally relax from the day, melting into my husband and knowing we’ll be tangled together in the quiet until tomorrow.

Sophie adoring her dad

So. Glasses are up there in our leprous credenza. Champagne is in the fridge. We’ll give away the furniture so that more than 2.5 of you can fit in our kitchen and invite someone who knows how to make a touching speech, and we’ll all share a toast to happiness. Then we’ll infect ourselves with rage and take it out on the world’s liver and onions, because everyone knows gratuitous violence is the secret to happiness. Who’s with me?


A Cold Start

Happy September!

To celebrate the beginning of a new month, my daughter thoughtfully gave me her cold. Now, while Natalie’s version of a cold involves running around the house singing at the top of her lungs while ignoring the occasional nasal drip, my version involves lying immobile with a refrigerator-sized head, an overflowing sinus system, and a profound sense of “OWWW.”

If I don’t survive the weekend, at least you’ll know why.


2 A.M. Delirium

Welcome to One Of Those Nights, the dark, sticky kind that prevents me from finding the magical hollow in my pillow that will quiet the clamoring from an entire unwritten week. Thus, my cure for insomnia: coaxing thoughts out of my tired brain and through my fingertips to freedom.

Of course, now that I’m out of bed and geared with laptop, I have no idea where to start. Every day is woven with countless emotions, a plethora of new vocabulary words, and a minute-hand steadily ticking off educational experiences. I couldn’t begin to accurately describe what my mind goes through on a daily basis, but I would hate to forget this time period… its unique mixture of confusion and satisfaction and — unbelievably — relaxation… the struggle of uprooting and the contentment of resettling.

Dan says I function much better as an Italian woman than I did as an American woman, and I think he’s right. All the repetitive daily activities that used to depress me seem to have a purpose here, even if that purpose is just practicing the language or getting some exercise. People’s genuine friendliness makes me want to leave the house and be part of society rather than hole up with my computer. Plus, I pretty much adore the built-in naptime that comes with life here. Every morning, I wake up a little less in the realm of the unfamiliar, and every night, I fall asleep feeling a little more at home.

I can feel this post teetering on the verge of incoherent rambling, so I’ll put my thoughts back to bed for the night. Stay tuned for next time, when I will try to write something that sounds a little less like 2 a.m. delirium…


The Cowardly Lion Learns Success

I’ve known for months that once I moved to a new country and had the daily shopping responsibilities all to myself, I would quickly need to become a Brave Woman. Now that I’m here, I feel instantly disqualified for two reasons:
1. Brave Women do not lie in bed in the morning wondering if they can push the snooze button just 599 more times.
2. Brave Women are not afraid of the grocery store.

I feel like I ordered a side order of change, but when I wasn’t looking, someone added a combo meal with extra fries and super-sized the whole shebang. Now, I’m enveloped by a newness that I expected only in a fuzzy, theoretical kind of way.

It’s harder than anything to be patient with myself, a life-long perfectionist thrust into surroundings where trial-and-error is the only option. However, I’m slowly learning the vital lesson of how to appreciate each day by its small successes:
Drying three loads of laundry on a clothesline…
Ordering lunch meat at the deli next door…
Lighting a gas stove without horrendously burning myself, passing out from the fumes, or destroying more than two matches…
Chatting for five minutes with another mom at the park…
Recognizing our bus stop…
Learning how to say “Don’t throw the gravel!” like a good Italian mamma…

I wish I could write more about the whole experience, but time seems to be slipping away in erratic bursts. These first days have managed to be ridiculously short and impossibly long at the same time, leaving me with twenty-four misshapen hours to navigate each time. Plus, the combination of jet lag and internet withdrawal has me in a very woozy state of being.

Now, to get Natalie out of bed (where she put herself, by the way… What mother has to forbid her two-year-old from napping before lunch?) and to sweep up the inch of high-quality Italian dust that magically appears on our floor every hour, on the hour. Another [completely, utterly, and exhaustively] new day is underway!


Brain Cell Exodus

Yes, I know, too long without writing. Inexcusable. (Except that it’s very, very excusable.)

While I’ve been itching for a quiet hour or four with my laptop, the world has been spinning a little too fast… cartwheeling too, and back-flipping, and careening through all known variations of insanity. If I survive it with enough brain cells to count past 4, this summer will end up on a “Top 5” list (most likely Top 5 Reasons I Can No Longer Count Past 4).

Natalie tends to say things best these days:
“Mommy, Mommy, Mommy, I love you, Mommy, I want to go home now.”

Me too, kiddo.

(Stay tuned for exciting news!)*

*As soon as I figure out what it is…

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