Humor is also a way of saying something serious. - T. S. Eliot

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Go Ahead. Write.Me.Up.

Even though I can’t really see and I’m supposed to be working, I just have to take a time out from everything and type (with my eyes closed due to recent PRK surgery and eye irritation) my frustration out.

I am damn mad that mothers are being punished in our culture for staying home with sick children. Do you know how many moms I talk to as a clinician who have been either written up for staying home with sick children, or who are fretting being written up? 

And here I thought I was the only one.  I just had eye surgery. I should be home recovering.  My sight is so bad that I am not allowed to drive.  And I am high as a kite on narcotics and opiates for eye pain AND I have a doc note to take time off.

But still I come to work.


Because I don’t want to be written up for being out.  And I know that if I have one more absence due to one of my children being sick between now and February – and it will happen --   I will be written up.   

As a professional, I’m not a slacker. I don’t call in just because. I come to work and I work. I work as hard as I can. I don’t diddle around. I am focused and on my game.  My supervisor recently told me I pulled the most crisis calls from cue.

But none of that matters.

If you are absent more than 4 times in a 12 month period, you will be written up.  Will you be fired? Maybe. If they feel like it.

Any person who is a parent of small children knows that kids get sick. They get sick A Lot.  And daycares, preschools, and elementary schools all have rules that no child can come back unless they have been fever free, puke free, and/or on antibiotics for 24 hours.  

So fuck you, you motherfricking non-family friendly work culture in America.  F you, F you, F you.

And with this rant suddenly giving me some balls, I am leaving work today, just after lunch, to take care of my eyes. I am not employee of the year. Before I had kids, it was my goal to be a superstar at work, but when I came back to work as a mom, my goal was just to get by.  I knew my family responsibilities would limit me. (That’s not a very fair thought to myself, but it was one that crept up unconsciously.) 

 I am a mother, I am someone recovering from surgery, and if my kids get sick and you want to write me up.  Then go right. The. Fuck. Ahead. 

I will proudly join the ranks of many other women who appear to be less than stellar employees all because they are simultaneously raising the next generation and who don’t really care what their workplace does.  Go ahead. Write us up.  But it’s a systemic problem.  We working mothers and our sick kids who then make us sick ARE NOT THE  PROBLEM.  No matter how many times you want to write us up and blame us and verbally counsel us, we are NOT THE PROBLEM.  Our culture is the problem. 

 I’m feeling like a bad-ass little rebel suddenly. And so I say, to the beady-eyed, mustached supervisor who would marry a policies and rule book if he could and who I cannot STAND, take that pen, after you are done writing me up, and shove it up your yahoo.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

One Year and Counting

I hit the one-year mark at work last week.  It is hard to believe I have been back in the workforce for the past one year.  The original plan was to return to work for a year, pay our debts down, then resume stay-at-home motherhood.

Scratch the plan.

I like my schedule, I like (most) of my co-workers and my manager. I like the work that I do triaging people in withdrawal from substances, or who have suicidal or homicidal ideation.  They are in a moment that is ripe for change and opportunity.  And I like that Andi and the twins can hardly wait to go to school and that for the most part, they seem to have adjusted well to having a mom who has her own career. It’s been a good balance.  And I feel like I’m a better role model than I was as a stay-at-home mom.  (I am not slamming stay-at-home moms, I am just saying that I am not a particularly good stay-at-home mom.  Neither choice is better and I don’t like the whole “who works harder?” debate and I’m not taking a stance on that, either.)

I also like that after I find pee all over my counter, dripping down the cupboards and into the mixing bowls and onto the (just mopped for god’s sake!) floor because my three year-old couldn’t stop her hunt for the hidden tootsie rolls long enough to take herself potty – again – that I can hand my children off to someone else and go deal with other people’s crisis.  It gives me a chance to calm down and laugh at how Andi responded when I asked that she not let peeing her pants happen again... 

She changed clothes and put a panty liner in her underwear. 

Apparently she wasn’t taking any chances, though I don’t think a panty-liner could absorb the whole contents of her bladder.  But I’ll give her points for effort.

But going to work makes this blogging awfully difficult to get to.  I don’t know that I will keep up the blogging. I originally started it so family could see pics and read stories about the girls, but with an ipad that takes and sends pictures so easily and quickly, it’s made blogging less needed for keeping extended relatives mixed into the lives of the girls.

And while I do like writing, between cooking a weeks worth of homemade dinners during my three days off, getting all the errands run and bills paid and house cleaned and then trying to “just have fun” with my kids, Oh! and do the yard work, brush the dog, hit the gym and pump-it-up at Zumba twice a week, there just isn’t much time for writing.

But somehow, life feels better balanced – for right now… 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Skinny Corneas

I fear there is a chance that -- if I am able to vote at all on Nov. 6th – that my skinniness may cause me to vote in a harmful manner towards the general public.  I know that’s a big jump, but I promise you the thought makes sense.  Here’s the story…

 I may vote Republican, vote for VOTER ID in MN, and VOTE for ONE MAN ONE WOMAN marriage.  My brother -- who loves to freak me out -- pointed this out to me in a one line e-mail this morning.  I had not considered that my  “non-functional vision” the day of surgery could have a worse outcome than my not voting at all – the lack of vision could lead to me misreading and accidentally voting anti-woman, anti-minority, and pro-separation, pro-racism, pro-discrimination, pro-disenfranchisement.

Oh dear.

But I have no choice. The surgeon has 2 surgery openings left in 2012.  And only one day worked with Dave’s and my schedule.  That day is voting day.   

On November 6th, I go in to have PRK done on my eyes.  Just typing that out has made my throat constrict, I cannot breathe, and I am getting dizzy.  The recovery time is long, and I am told that for at least three days I will not be able to see in a functional manner and will likely want to sit in a dark room with my eyes closed.  And if I fall in line behind all the horror stories on the internet, it could be much longer than that.

Note to self: STOP reading PRK experiences on the internet!

Last year, I had the bright idea to put a big wad of money into a health or flex spending account.  I reckoned the “use it or lose it nature” of such an account would make me follow through on getting either my stomach surgery done or my eyes fixed with Lasik. 

It did not occur to me that I would not be a candidate for Lasik.  Though, it probably should have...

All my life my feet have been too narrow to wear the shoes I want, my waist too thin and legs too long to wear the clothes I like, my earlobes too tiny and thin to wear more than a diamond or pearl stud, my boobs too “lacking in tissue” to breast feed one baby, much less twins.

One time I tried on a very cute outfit at Banana Republic – a long skirt and v-neck skin-tight shirt. It was fashionable at the time.  I walked out of the dressing room and my mom and sister erupted into laughter…

The kind of laughter that brings tears rolling down their faces and wields their speech –non-understandable as they try to tell you, “You look just like Olive Oil!”

Oh Lordy.

So it should have been NO surprise when the opthamologist said, “Your corneas are too thin.  We will have to do PRK to protect your eyes.  Lasik is not an option.”


Luckily, I have two personalities.  One is highly neurotic, anxious, pessimistic, anxious, controlling and, did I mention anxious? 

The other personality is a licensed therapist who is calm, kind, patient, and a tad more realistic about things. 

So while I am FUR-REAKING out about:
  • Dave not taking care of …everything…while I am down for the count
  • Not being able to exercise, clean, and cook – my normal coping tools.
  • Being able to work
  • Being able to drive
  • Potentially never having the vision I want and completely regretting this decision or having long term negative side effects
  • Preparing to have horrible panic attacks
  • Catastrophizing about *just sitting* OH GOD I HATE SITTING! for three days
  • Wondering will I get to vote if I can’t see immediately after surgery on VOTING DAY? What if the republicans win? What if marriage becomes restricted and I.D.’s become a requirement of voting?  It’ll be ALL MY fault!!!!

And doing something that Dave would NOT be okay with since it is a “really, really bad idea,”
·         Driving around without my glasses on to *test* whether or not I can function with poor  vision.  I found that if I just focused on the fuzzy white lines ahead of me, I was able to drive to work and back home again – in the dark no less! 

The soft-spoken therapist is action planning by seeking out positive coping tools such as:
  • Listening to comedy shows on Pandora Radio
  • Finding audio books
  • Developing mantras such as, “I will get better. This pain is temporary. This blurry  vision is normal and it will get better. Breathe and calm down. There’s no reason to think you will have a negative outcome.”
  • Taking Omega 3’s and Vit C to help with recovery and really focusing on staying well hydrated.  Going into the surgery as healthy as possible – emotionally and physically as that helps with recovery.
  • Planning ahead to have meals frozen.
  • Giving myself permission to use sitters for extra help instead of chastising Dave for not helping.
  • Replacing intense workouts during recovery by identifying little stretches and gentle movements safe for and conducive to recovery.
  • Shopping for NON PRESCRIPTION sunglasses.  Who doesn’t love shopping? Actually, I’m not a huge fan of shopping.  It costs too much. And the temporary high of something new is not worth the depressed, guilty feeling of a dwindling bank account.

PRK was the vision correction surgery done before LASIK/LASEK came into play.  PRK is what the military still uses, so should I take that as a vote of confidence?  PRK does not “have the wow factor that Lasik has” according to the eye surgeon.  Vision with Lasik is clear 24 hrs later.  Vision with PRK is blurry for days, if not weeks, or even months (yes, I was reading horror stories online) and there is a pain element as well given that they burn off a layer of your cornea which has to grow back – slowly – hence causing vision disruptions.

Lasik removes a flap, but then puts it back. But this causes a person to permanently lose 20% of their corneal thickness. (If I understood my doctor correctly.)  Because I have skinny corneas, this is not a good idea.

And so, once again, my skinniness bites me in the butt again.  The plastic surgeon who did my tummy surgery eval did say he’d give me a discount, “you aren’t going to need any lipo when I sew your muscles back together. There’s no fat on you.” 

Well that’s something.  Perhaps I can put the saved money in an envelope, along with my apology letter to the democratic party…

I’m very sorry I voted for the enemy.   My Olive Oil Pippi Longstocking gangly skinniness is – in short -- the reason.  Please accept this monetary donation and spread it amongst all the populations that are suffering now that the Republicans are in charge. 

The Skinny Democrat Burning in Hell 

P.S. I thought Hell was supposed to be full of gays, women who aborted babies, welfare-crack-whores, and people who got divorces?  It turns out I am sitting with a bunch of CEO’s, bank executives, Republicans, and judgmental Evangelical Christians!  Who’d have thunk it?

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Apple Orchard 2012

I took Saturday off from work.  I put in 50 hours the week before and since Saturday was Dave's birthday, it seemed a good time to take back time with the family.  Since whooping cough is going around the twins school, Dave and I decided the whole family should head out to the Target clinic and get updated on whooping cough shots (mommy and daddy) as well as get our annual flu-shots.   With Dave's birthday off to a sharp start, we headed out to lunch, then the orchard.

When all was said and done, we had picked two bushels of apples.  I'm pretty sure that the $60 worth of apples is enough to make apple pies, caramel apples, baked apples, apples and peanut butter for snacks, apple sauce, and more.  I love fall...if it wasn't followed by MN winters, I'd probably declare it my favorite season.

Dave took off for the evening. He headed out to watch a soccer game somewhere.  I stayed home, cleaned up, and spiked a low-grade fever in reaction to my shots.  It was a pretty low-key day, but that's how we roll...

Clover helps daddy open presents

Someone starts the apple hunt with the grumpies

Oh good! She found giant apples and her silly smile!

Sophie and her giant honeycrisp

Good work farmer Ella!

Half way done
Yep, grumpies are definitely gone!

Andi and daddy pick Honeygold

Dave thinks this is the main shot for a movie about three little superheroes atop a mountain (of hay).

Happy "Natal Day," Dave -- as Nikki says.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Sophie and Ella: First Day of 1st Grade -- 2012

Start the day with a miniature egg casserole...

Hug Clover bye-bye



I can't believe they are leaving...for the whole day....what to do?

Bake them some cupcakes.  Andi picked rainbow colors.

They both came home with all positive things to report.  Even Sophia who has a  locker buddy  -- known as a "bully" as he stabs children with "sharp pencils and has to go see" the principal.  I'm glad Sophia didn't get stabbed today. I know she was a little concerned about that.  Oh dear.

Once off the bus they devoured their cupcakes.  As soon as they ate their cupcakes, it was off to Andi's preschool for open house. I almost cried when I found out Andi has Miss D.  Sophia and Ella had Miss D when they were three.  I love Miss D.  Andi was SO angry that she couldn't stay in her classroom tonight; and she wasn't very into doing the treasure hunt. She was more into checking out all the toys and busying herself with drawing and in the play kitchen area.  Another little girl came to play with a toy Andi wanted and I held my breath...was she going to scream.  She didn't.  She just let it roll off her back.

First day of preschool is two days away and Miss D has instructed Andi to bring her smile.  Andi was too shy to smile or say hi to Miss D, but she did let her hug her.  I'm pretty sure Miss D is going to be a fabulous teacher for my Panda Bear -- just patient enough, but also able to gently push her.  Fingers crossed.

On the way to Culver's after the preschool open house the girls nearly fell asleep in the car. All three were exhausted from their big day.  But they did mention they can't wait to go back tomorrow.  And Andi seems VERY ready to go to preschool.

I don't think I can ask for more. :)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

The Good-Byes of Summer Ending

I am agitated and depressed. Last night I was ready to crawl out of my skin.  Yesterday, struggling through work  I told myself it will pass, so just … be.  Be in it, don’t fight it thereby prolonging it.  

I couldn’t figure out why I was having such a mood nose dive and then I took an overall look at things now. 

******The nanny was done Friday.  She was reliable and kind.  She kept our children active, and she – for the most part – kept up with household responsibilities. (I’m a bit Kate Gosselin-ish – no one is going to meet my expectations 100%).

******The twins begin full-day school in four days.  Once again, I am having doubts about Sophia’s teacher.  Especially in direct contrast to Ella’s teacher.  I am a disgruntled parent in a school system that is supposed to be fabulous.  What is wrong with me?!  Andi starts preschool. I will be alone at home on Tuesday afternoons.  The other days it will just be Andi and I.

As much as I bitch that my children are going to make me crazy, let’s be honest.  I started out crazy.  And when it comes to children at foot vs. silence, it will be the silence that makes me crazier.  (Oh God I’m scared of getting OLD and having no children in the home…and not being able to stay active.  What if I get dementia? Or have a stroke? Or can’t move around on my own?  Which then led me to researching whether human euthanasia is legal. Hello Crazy Woman Starting a Mid-Life Crisis.  

And it really is mid-life.  “I’m half way to dead if the average age of death is still 73.” (is it?)  Dave tells me I’m such a sunny thinker. 

******Dave put in very long hours at work for almost two weeks – including two all nighters – leaving me with the responsibility of EVERYTHING.  (Which isn’t too terribly different than normal, actually.)  Hello Martyr.

******We spent my three days off this past week  running to the zoo, the orchard, the children’s museum, eye appointments, hair cuts, school open-house, first day of gymnastics (for all three girls).  With every single thing we did, the fact that is was the “last” time we would do that – all three together on a week day --  nagged at my brain.  Hello Sentimental Drama Queen.

For my kids, it was a chance to have fun.  For me, it was a chance to say good-bye to the days of mothering children too-young for school. 

If Sophie isn’t home, who is going to ask me, “Why are you so freakishly annoying?”

And laugh at me when my hands are shaking due to too much adrenaline and coffee as I try to paint a french manicure on her tiny fingers.

Who will stroke my ego in only the way that Ella does when she announces, “Mommy. Clover smells like you.  And you smell like a vampire.”  Sophie adds in the zinger, “And vampires STINK.”


“Mommy, you should be a witch for Halloween,” Ella advised.

When I asked why and reminded her that they also make princess costumes in my size she brushed it off. 

“Because you look like a witch.  You have pointy teeth.”

As I write this, it is clear.  I am grieving.  This depressed agitation is actually grief.  No matter what it is, the fix is still the same.  Let it be.  It will pass, as all things do.  Once I have made peace with good-bye, I can say hello to the things that come with raising grade-school age children. 

Or –- light bulb moment! -- I could put off good-bye and have another baby and start all over again.

Nah.  Hello Puffy Red Eyes.

Someone pass me a hanky, I think I’m gonna stick with grieving.

At the Children's Museum after they painted their faces at another exhibit

Even Andi showed signs she is growing up.  The little boy in red threw sand that hit Andi in the face. I held my breath as her eyes narrowed in his direction.  Then exhaled as she used her words to tell him, "You are NOT very nice." She calmly went back to playing. 

What a cool set up in a stream with paint brushes....

Our harvest of Cukenuts...and Ella's new bobbed hair.

Our harvest of greenbeans and Sophia's bobbed hair. 

At the zoo shortly before leaving after two short hours.  Going to the zoo in the 90 degree temp was not that much fun.   

Andi does homework with Natalie.

Last day with Natalie...The girls always thought she was like a princess, Ariel, to be exact, because of her long red hair.

Soccer Match: Mother-of-the-Year v Clinician Mother

As a mom, part of my job is giving my kids choices and supporting them in the activities they enjoy.    At least that is what I righteously believed when the girls were engaged in activities I liked – ballet and gymnastics. 

While I had acknowledged to the girls that team sports existed as well the martial arts, I put more hype and enthusiasm around my presentation of all types of dance and gymnastics.  This was going well and I was feeling like I had it made.  Not only were they happy in dance and gymnastics, they were excelling and recommended onto invitation-only pre-team.  I was going to make it through their childhood without having to watch them play the games I detested in all those horrible phys ed classes. 

Then their father entered the picture with his growing fondness for soccer….

I am not ashamed to say that I prefer the “girly” sports or loner, non-competitve sports like running.  There’s nothing wrong with that.  To say there is would be to devalue the athletic skill and rigor that dancers and gymnasts go through. Those sports take both major strength and skill. It might be cool to be a girl and conquer the so-called male dominated sports, but that shouldn’t take away from the cool-ness of doing something stereotypically reserved for girls such as dance.     

Power to the pink, I say.

I am happy to dress my girls in pink tutus or shop for sparkly tiny-hiney shorts for gymnastics.  I can coach them on  “butt in, chest up” pliaes.  I will put their hair up in buns, and smear bright red lipstick on their kissers for the end-of-year dance recitals.  Waiting outside of dance class I will (sometimes) tolerate small talk with the too-perky, Mercedes-driving blonde mother of Brittany “who just LOOOVES to dance and is SOO ready for pre-competition  dance because she’s ALWAYS wanted to be a dancer and cheerleader.”

But I cannot for the life of me pay attention when anyone – even my own children -- do anything that involves a ball.  Don’t get me wrong, I understand that being engaged in team sports can have beneficial effects on any child’s development.  I get that. And I get that I am very much in the minority when it comes to detesting team sports and the competition that goes with them.  The sound of the theme song for Monday night football brings tears of sorrow to my eyes and unleashes “Oh my God! I thought football just ended and it’s starting again?! Turn it off or shoot me, please.”

I get Dave’s irritation with me when I spaced out during our (then) 4- year-old twins’ soccer games and claimed, “I AM paying attention” despite the fact that I was not even facing the soccer field. What I don’t get, are all the rules and regulations of these games and how passing a ball

and forth

and forth

and forth…

For what seems like hours on end…

Is able to hold anyone’s attention.

There are no pretty colors to look at.

No fun music. 

No fun shoes to buy. 

No pretty leotards.

No glitter, rhinestones or sequins.

No pink…

or purple.

What there is, is an UGLY blue and yellow mesh reversible shirt.

And ugly black soccer shoes…they don’t come in pink.

Trust me. I asked. 

There is also wet, dew-y grass to sit on at 9 AM on a cold fall morning with plenty of bugs to swarm your hair as it begins flattening from the humidity.  There is a dirty wet ball that occasionally flies in your direction, eliciting the leftover panic and trauma of failed kickball days of grade school.

I was always the last one picked for the teams.  And rightly so.  I hated playing all those stupid games and usually just stood there and let the ball fly by me and let someone else chase it. If I caught it, it was only because it had bounced off my face or head and then landed in my hands. 

God, I hated PE class…

And team sports.  It was just a game and there was not a single ounce of me that cared if we won or lost.  If it’s all for “fun,” then why are people screaming and getting so worked up?  This is NOT fun.

It’s too much pressure.  And I don’t wanna play.

And the male PE teachers with their pot-bellies and whistles hooping and hollering “GET IT! RUN!”

Like. Really.  Who the fuck cares? I was pretty sure I had better things to do than get worked up and chase a god-damned ball up and down the grass.  I used to wonder who the hell these old fat guys were to tell me to run like the wind when it was obvious they were the ones who could use a little exercise.  If you want the ball in the goal, YOU do it, I used to think.

The summer is winding down, swim lessons are wrapping up, and I asked the girls what activity they want to do. 

“Soccer,” Sophia told me. 

My girl-y little brain must have misheard her.  Or perhaps she doesn’t understand what I’ve asked so I try again.

“It’s fall and ballet and gymnastics are starting again. Do you have a favorite?” 

“Yes. I like gymnastics.”

Relief flooding me, I swipe my brow realizing that was a close one.  I almost ended up having to trade in enjoyable May dance recitals and mock gymnastics meets for watching a bunch of un-coordinated kids chase a ball

and forth

and forth

and forth.

“Ok, Sophie. So you want me to sign you up for gymnastics?”

“Um. I think I’ll do soccer.”

Son of a bitch!  I begin cursing in my mind at Dave for his new found enthusiasm for fricking soccer. Not only does it distract him from his responsibilities, it’s now spreading down to our children.

Mother-of-the-Year begins tapping furiously on my shoulder telling me to lie to Sophie and tell her that soccer isn’t a fall sport. 

The Clinician Mother with two degrees specializing in human development and healthy  psyches who practices as a mental health crisis therapist sticks her damn big nose into the scene and reminds me “you have to support your children. This isn’t about you.”


“Ok Sophie. You know what? I’ll make an exception.  We’ll do two activities this fall.  How about soccer and gymnastics? Or maybe you’d like to do ballet and gymnastics?”

She doesn’t even think about it before agreeing that gymnastics and soccer sounds great.

“Are you sure? If you want to really excel at something it’s best to stick with it so you get really good at it.  You’ve been in dance and gymnastics for a few  years…” 

And Mother-of-the-Year jumps in, “If you don’t do dance, you don’t get to have the end of year recital. Or wear make-up and get a costume.”

The Clinician Mother jumps back in, “But if you want soccer….I can talk to daddy about signing you up.”


Rats!  I think I’m going to cry and  Mother-of-the-Year has all out lost it. She’s set off to find Dave and blame him for distracting her budding ballerinas.

The Clinician Mother grabs  Mother-of-the-Year by her arm and asks her to hold off on the witch hunt for a moment.  We must put this in perspective because things could be worse.  It’s not like the girls are shooting up heroine, dying of cancer, or voting Republican – an offense which would warrant disowning them.

Clinician Mother calmly asks self-centered Mother-of-the-Year who hates all things involving balls and bases to let go and allow the girls to follow their passions.  It is by following their passions that they are most likely to succeed and, more importantly, be happy. 

Mother-of-the-Year feels her heart sink far, far down and sighs.

So just as another mother may get annoyed that I favored all-things pink and girly for my girls, I get annoyed when people put down “girly” things.  Because, isn’t that just the same offense, only in reverse?

The twins start soccer in a couple weeks.  Maybe one season will be enough.  But if not, maybe the coach will be willing to consider pink and purple shirts for the girls with the numbers outlined in sequins and a round of Zumba dancing as the warm-up.  This blue and yellow mesh really has to go.

And I can always stare blankly at the

and forth

 and forth

and forth

of the ball and meditate on the fact that things could be worse….

At least they aren’t voting republican

At least they aren’t voting republican

At least they aren’t voting republican.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Last week I took the girls home to Iowa  where they celebrated Uncle Pancake's and Gramma Bobo's birthdays, took a couple private swim lessons, and spent time with their new little cousin.  In the 24 hours that we were there, we of course made time to go to the local Dutch bakery, the chocolate store, and stroll down Main Street. 

Fun in Gramma's pool

Clover helps us pack