Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Anti-Supermom

I’ve made one of those classic mistakes of motherhood. DramaQueen had drama classes. What about Firecracker, I thought? We can’t afford classes for her, but what else is there? Girl Scouts, I thought. And since the Daisies and Brownies met at the same time in the same place, I thought they might as well both join. They can have fun earning badges and doing community service. I am such an awesome mom! I’m going to “get involved.”

Oh. My. God.

I am never ever ever doing this again.

Firecracker won’t even stay with her troop. She gave up long ago trying to follow what was going on. They might as well be speaking ancient Mesopotamian. The clamor of a herd of Daisies is not the best environment for those with learning disabilities. “They look at me,” she wails. “I’m shy!” So she hides behind the counter on the Brownie side of the room.

DramaQueen is having a bit more fun, in a lackadaisical fashion. She’s a sociable girl once she settles in, so no hiding behind cabinets for her. She went out on a service project and rather enjoyed it. We went to World Thinking Day and she enjoyed collecting SWAPS, which seemed to me to the only point of going. There didn’t seem to be a lot of thinking going on, and most of the posters and displays about foreign countries seem to have been created by, guess who, the moms.

That was a mind-numbing experience, btw. Firecracker refused to walk around the booths, so the event was painfully boring for both of us. There was nowhere to sit down. Thankfully there were some snack machines, and since it took hours for DramaQueen to make her rounds, I was happy to feed Firecracker whatever crap she wanted. We made our escape when I saw the People In Charge do the three finger GS salute that means Shut Up, indicating that some GS ritual was about to take place. When someone called for the girls to form a circle I knew it was time to skedaddle.

Over Christmas the troop leader cajoled me into being the cookie mom. I thought, hey, I really should do something for the troop. I said this despite the fact that I hate—let me emphasize HATE—any sort of sales. But stretch yourself a bit, I thought. Hah. I didn’t even take DramaQueen door to door. I hate it when people show up at my door selling stuff, even stuff I like, and no one likes GS cookies more than I do. Unless we want to develop a generation of car salespeople, I don’t see how this is supposed to foster “leadership” skills. Oh, I am soooo not a leader. Do I think it essential that my girls grow up to be leaders? Let me rephrase that. Do I think it essential that my girls learn how to sell cookies?

You know what, since GS is so gung-ho about parental involvement, I should have just admitted to myself from the start that I don’t want to be involved. I don’t want to be one of these moms who works full time, is room mom, volunteers for the PTA, and handles set design at the local community theater. I want to take my kids to classes and let them do whatever they need to do to acquire the skills that interest them. That, to me, is a valuable lesson to learn—taking charge of your own talents and interests through personal diligence and practice. I want to come home with some expectation of relative calm, not frenetic activity because I’ve sold my soul in exchange for a Franklin Covey planner. The stuff I want to learn about does not include camping, tallying up cookie sales, teaching girls how to sell cookies, making posters about countries that no one will ever look at, making SWAPS (for heavens sake), learning the GS pledge, shuttling girls to events, haranguing shoppers at the local grocery store to buy cookies, and selling calendars (because it’s not just about cookies anymore).

So far most of the GS year seems to have been about selling something.


So far, my girls seem to agree with my assessment. Firecracker has told me she wants to learn soccer. So I’m going to look into a nice recreational soccer program (cause I hate competition about as much as I hate leading) and let her try it out. DramaQueen can keep doing her drama thing. I’m going to follow my therapist’s advice: one extracurricular activity per child. Period.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We All Lived

Children did actually show up at Firecracker's birthday party. One didn't bring a gift and one brought his older brother, but who am I to complain? The room was full and my child was happy, and, best of all, two very competent women ran the whole thing. They played games and marched them outside and did more games and made periscopes and took photos and read them a story, and yet when it was all over they still looked tidy and in control, much to my amazement. I was exhausted and I didn't do anything more than cut the cake, pass out the snacks and hand over the presents. One little boy threw up. It's not really a party until one child throws up. That's how you know the party's winding down. And Firecracker did not receive any girlie presents, no Barbies that have to be passed along to DramaQueen. Her fave was a NASCAR race car that vrooms away when you press a button. Good stuff. Not that she's completely opposed to gentler activities. She used a gift card to buy a doll carrier to hold her little pink puppy, the one with sunglasses and a heart pillow that says Hot Stuff. I've had to buckle it into the car seat each morning on the way to the daycare and promise that I will take it into work. Shhh. Of course I take it into work.

I can breathe again. For a while.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The path of my life is strewn with cowpats from the devil's own satanic herd.

I wonder if I’m doing okay? Sometimes I’m not sure. Sometimes I’m not sure I’m that in touch with myself. Maybe I could send myself an email. My thoughts have been soggy. When we passed the anniversary marker for Firecracker’s surgery, and when I remember it, my stomach clenches its fist and looks balefully at me. What were you thinking? To put your child through that? And for what? Nothing!

I feel death wafting around me. Perhaps I will die this year. I don’t want to die. I’m really opposed to it. My nephew, my friend. My friend. Is it easier to meet death deliberately instead of waiting for it to snare you? Why did she feel that dying was better than living? I miss her. And what about me? I think of estrogen. Perhaps I should have gone on tomoxifin. Maybe estrogen is the enemy. I’m overweight, so I’m even producing more of it. I’m practically swimming in it. Perhaps it’s wreaking havoc even as I sit here so indecisive. Perhaps I’ll die from indecisiveness. And then there’s Dear Husband. Whenever he has a flair up I wish I could peek into his bladder and make sure all the cells are behaving, no proliferation. Everyone’s health panics me. What is going on that I cannot see? Death and his demons, where are the creeping?

It’s amazing what plastic surgeons can do with reconstruction, it really is. But my new breast will always be a…a… construction. It is better than cancer, but it is still this alien sculpture perching on my chest. How I wish they could have done the TRAM. I’m still sad about that. I’ve never intended to have another child, but the knowledge that I could never nurse one if I did makes me cry. Isn’t that weird?

I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not doing what I was intended to do. The problem is that I have no idea what I was intended to do. You know, that idea that God has a plan with a place for everything and everything in its place. Do I even believe that? What do I believe? How can I believe? When I think of death, it seems the most preposterous suggestion that we would go somewhere after. It pretty much looks like a blank wall: bye bye. But there are these stories, this scripture that says otherwise. I find it hard to swallow.

I find it hard to chew on most things Christian these days. The claims, the glib prayers, the churchy stuff, the inspirational books, the enthusiasm, the dull dull tumbling of words. The bright shininess and maudlin spectacle of it all. The music. Oh god the awful sameness and bouncy bouncy of it. Sometimes it seems that if I jumped in the river it would come up to my ankles, so shallow the water is full of silt.

And then there are these longings that I don’t believe in: to home school my children, or at least to be a SAHM there when school is over, when the bus drops them off. The mom who can visit the class with the cupcakes and a story to read, who may actually someday meet the other mothers whose children my daughters spend more time with than with me. It seems so out of balance, but who am I kidding? My salary is essential and always will be, even after we pay off the cars and the student loan. Besides, I can’t organize my own time. I’m useless at it. How can I organize anyone else’s?

There, I’ve written it out of me for now. Tomorrow Firecracker is having a birthday party. I’m afraid no one will come. That happened one year, or nearly. Only one child showed up. I’ve tried calling, and the moms either don’t speak English or act as if they are reluctant to admit that the live in this universe, the universe with the invitation, my child, their child, and their common classroom.

More on my adventures in dyspepsia later. The title of this post, btw, is from Black Adder, and it gave me the day's first laugh. If you aren't familiar with Black Adder, you need to correct that deficiency right away before it becomes a way of life.

RevGal Friday Five: Taking a Break

Songbird says: Where we live, it's February School Vacation Week!

Yes, that's an odd thing, a vacation extending President's Day. But it's part of our lives here. Some people go South or go skiing, but we always stay home and find more humble amusements.

In that spirit, I offer this Taking a Break Friday Five. Tell us how you would spend:

1. a 15 minute break
Coffee and a book, although sometimes a book is just too engrossing. So, coffee and a chat with a friend.

2. an afternoon off
Sit down with a good book and forget about any errands I think should be done.

3. an unexpected free day
Hmm, perhaps a walk if the weather is nice, followed by some puttering. Or a trip to the bookstore/library. A movie—I hardly ever actually go to a movie. Pick up the girls early and play Uno with them.

4. a week's vacation
A trip to Savannah, or to Alabama to see my side of the family, or to LA to see Dear Husband’s side of the family. Or maybe a trip to the Grand Canyon. I would love to show the kids the Grand Canyon, and hubby’s never seen it either. Or a trip to New York. I would really like the girls to experience that. Walk around in Central Park. Walk around everywhere. Visit my old neighborhood in Park Slope. Go to the Cloisters. Must go to the Cloisters—one of my favorite places—and the Botanical Gardens. Broadway’s overrated and overpriced IMHO, but a nice play…or opera, though the girls would be bored stiff. The museums, Indian Row, East Village. Sigh.

5. a sabbatical
We all take a trip to England and visit as many cathedrals and castles as possible, as well as stopping off in York to finally see Bronte country, and to Cornwall, just because I’ve never been there and it sounds pretty. And of course visit the National Gallery in London, and the British Museum, and whatever museum that is with the Turner paintings, and Hampton Court, and the Soames Museum, and there has to be some theater in there somewhere and and and.… I’ve never seen the changing of the guard or Buckingham Palace. Oh I have to have tea and scones as many times as possible, and ploughman’s lunch and those enormous British fry-ups that B&Bs give you for breakfast. Have to get to Cambridge, too, and, what the heck, Oxford. And I would really like to see that house where they filmed Brideshead Revisited. Go walking in the Lake Country—that sounds good.