The Quotideien

Ugh. I started writing almost two weeks ago and never got around to finishing because life feels like its mostly survival mode right now. As it happens, I have my full lunch break available to me before I need to leave to go give a training, and I am going to spend it updating because really, I need to write something for my own sanity.

I want to give an update on our lives because I use this blog so much as a virtual baby book/helpful memory tool for myself. But also . . .I feel like I need and want to address so much of the insanity of the world. I want to put down in words the anguish I feel that once again children were killed while going to FUCKING SCHOOL. I want to express my horror and outrage that these kids have never known a world that didn’t include regular school shootings – a utopia I was able to live with until my junior year of high school when Columbine happened down the street. I want to tell you that L and I are actually seriously saying things like, “do you think we should try and move somewhere that doesn’t have this problem before our kids are old enough to go to school?” and “yes, that or figure out how to educate them somewhere or somehow where this can’t happen.”

And I’ll sign all the things and donate money to all the organizations and march in the streets whenever there’s a reason to but it doesn’t seem to DO anything. Like, how many times do we let children get murdered in their classrooms before we actually address what’s happening? We’ll lock up tide pods and outlaw Kinder Eggs before we put any limitations on guns. My anger and my helplessness feels suffocating.

Of course, more than guns this is about the way we are raising boys in this country. Or, maybe not more . . .it’s the two together, the insane and sickening combination of the two. And I am doing my part to end that, but my boys are two out of thousands, the classes I teach are hundreds out of millions. I feel beat down and worn out and so, so scared for the lives of my little humans and all the little humans.

So. There’s that.

And also, my parents. My parent’s and their failing health and my distance and the guilt, but also the relief, that distance causes. My mom was in the hospital twice in a week – once for debilitating back pain they determined was caused by a stomach virus that had her down for the count, the second for a nuerological reaction caused by pain meds from the back pain + dehydration from the stomach virus. Those are unique things not chronic or regular conditions, but my parents are both limited in their mobility and really, honestly probably shouldn’t be living alone in a huge house. When they sold the home I grew up in, my brother and I were hopeful they’d look into a condo or apartment in a retirement community where they’d have access to some additional support. Instead, they bought an even bigger house but – at least – a ranch style with everything on one level. My brother had to go help my dad get my mom to the hospital and, because he’s a big selfish douchebag, was a real asshole about it but also it’s fair to set up boundaries and while I don’t think he can do that in a compassionate way, I do think he’s allowed to say no to some of this. But I’m not there – which saddens and also relieves me – so who am I to have an opinion?

 

Laurie is in tech this week (started Saturday with full day – 10a-10p – rehearsals both weekend days) which means there is no rest for the weary. These are longer nights and more involved rehearsals. They have preview nights on Thursday and Friday and then open this weekend. Once the show is officially open, things should slow down a little. I am doing a lot of breath work to let go of the things that I usually spend time on – wiping down all the counters every night, putting all the toys in their proper location – and focusing on getting the bare minimum done.

On the upside, Angus seems to have really turned a corner, going from still somewhat regularly cranky to a beaming ball of sunshine. This has been both slowly coming down the pike with age, but was boosted by getting him on omeprazole last week, which seems to have really improved his reflux. Like, y’all, he’s a different baby. Of course, our insurance doesn’t cover this medication because it’s compounded (hello, he’s a very small baby who needs things in small doses which are not always made by companies) and because it’s available over the counter (but only if you are an adult person who can swallow a pill in the available dosage.) So, we are in the process of appealing the decision, though we’ll likely fork over the $40/month if we have to because it’s made such a radical difference in his (and our) lives.

Ansel is also really on point with the cute these days (I hope I didn’t just tempt fate by writing that) and, mostly, not being too much of a turdler. He’s started being much more wildly imaginative in his play, which is SO FUN. He combines different universes he knows or has made up to create new ideas and has started telling hilariously outlandish stories. Of course, a lot of this is helped by his ever increasing vocabulary and understandability.

A few weeks ago, I decided to cut out our nighttime (before bed) nursing session to help make my life a bit easier when putting them both to bed alone. Nursing Ansel before bed, even for the limited amount of time I set up a while ago, meant having to either have Angus to sleep beforehand (a laudable, but not always achievable, goal), juggle him on my lap while Ansel is nursing (and he is a big back and forth guy) or lay him down somewhere and hope he doesn’t lose his shit. All of these options were stressful for me and ended up compromising my ability to be fully present for nursing or feeling bad for Angus or both. Once I’d made my mind up, I picked a day where L was home for a few nights in succession in case it really went sideways, then I told him it was the last night he’d have milk before bed. I’d done something similar with naps, so it wasn’t out of left field.

I was a little shocked to find that he took it in stride, for the most part. The first few nights he cried a little when I reminded him, but he was pretty easily distracted with books (I upped the number we read together) and snuggles. Since then, he has asked a couple of times, then acquiesced when reminded or, more recently, just stated “no milk” as a fact while getting ready for bed. Given his intense love of nursing, this is not what I was expecting.

So, that means we are down to just early mornings when he crawls into our bed and nurses. I’m inclined to keep this one for the foreseeable future, since it affords all of us a little extra sleep and without it, he’d likely just want to get up and go. So, for now, that one stays in place. Still, it feels huge that we are down to just once a day, since 6 months ago I was pretty well fair game when I was home.

Angus can sit with support, though he’s still working on his tripod. He call roll both directions, and loves putting things in his mouth. He continues to be very chatty, cawing and cooing and squawking all day long. He is beginning to settle into some patterns with sleeping that are making our nights less complicated. He has tried frozen banana (big win), a piece of waffle (which he gummed to bits and then easily swallowed) and tasted but disliked oatmeal. He already kind of seems better at chewing than his brother. We are proceeding with caution in terms of solids because he’s not sitting unassisted yet, but he’s SUPER interested in food and seems to be enjoying it, so we are gonna go for it. Doc, PT and IBCLC also seem to have varying opinions.

L started domperidone a few weeks ago to try and boost her supply and get Angus off donor milk (or at least less reliant on it.) It seems to be having the desired effect, though because the problem seems to be with his latch and frustration with slower letdowns, we are still using a lot of bottles. On her long days, she was easily able to pump the average/necessary 1 oz/hour and I keep reminding her that she is doing great. It’s much easier on this side of the pump, I must admit.

Angus hit 6 months on Feb 9th and Ansel will be 3 in less than a month. WHAT?!? Sometimes I still don’t understand how I am an adult enough to have two children but then I have moments of doing things that vaguely remind me of my childhood, but from the otherside and I’m like . . .oh, yeah. I’m a mom now. It’s mostly when I have a baby on my hip and am also cutting a sandwich into quarters or some other Normal Rockwellian type of shit. Strangely, when I am on my 5th cup of coffee in as many hours while attempting to both encourage the baby to move towards the light up turtle and fully embody Daisy Duck while she throws a part for the monster trucks, I don’t have that same sense of motherhood.

I think there’s more but this seems like a lot already and my time is running out anyway. But here are some cute pictures!

 

The Longest Shortest Month

It has been a VERY long month. February, despite lasting all of two days, will probably follow suit. It is a marathon, not a sprint . . .I’m trying to pace myself.

I finished up one of my busiest parts of the year, where I am teaching 5-7 classes every day for weeks on end (often without a ‘planning period’ off because I am trying to cover so many schools and get to all of the sections of health in each of them), sometimes providing 8 hour trainings for teachers (which is a 10 hour day, without any commute) and waking up WAY earlier than usual (or than any human should. Why in fuck’s name do high schools start at 7 am!?!)  I talked about birth control so much I’m sure I was reciting facts about IUDs (in developmentally appropriate, health literacy based language) in my sleep.

Having to get up so early (many days I was leaving the house at 6am or earlier) meant often not seeing my family until I got home in the evening. Ansel was less than excited about this turn of events. When he’d wake and find me not in my usual spot, where we usually have a little while to snuggle and nurse, he’d start sobbing and telling L he wanted her to go to work instead of me. So, all the exhaustion + some mom guilt + wishing I could save my partner from scorned toddler wrath.

When I have been home in the evenings and weekends, L has often been gone at rehearsal. After the first few tries of taking Angus with her and discovering that he was totally willing to scream his high pitched inconsolable wail for the entire drive from Tacoma to North Seattle (sometimes during rush hour), L called and told me she would have to quit the show – she couldn’t handle the stress of the screaming. Rather than do that, we decided she would just leave him home with me. The director also worked the schedule out so that in the early weeks, L was mostly just going on the weekends. Things are starting to pick up now, and will continue to do so for the next few weeks. Then, of course, they open at the end of February with a run through the first two weekends of March. Ships passing in the night, blah blah blah . . .

Shift parenting has been challenging. There has been reminding Ansel that I am also the boss of him (ha ha ha ha! As if any of us are actually the bosses of our toddlers!)and convincing him to nap when I’m home.  I held out one weekend, even though it meant he didn’t actually go to sleep until close to 4pm but since then, he’s gone down much easier for me, so I’m calling it a win. It did also involve a lot of him telling me ‘I’m crying!” and saying “No thank you Mama!” to my offers of back rubs or songs. Cute + heartbreaking. Then, there is what I am calling “The StruggleGus” – which are the nights (always nights) when Angus is virtually inconsolable and screaming while I am trying to put Ansel to sleep. This week, I had two nights where I felt close to losing my shit. Ansel was a terror, the house was a wreck, Angus screamed for hours on end, the dogs got into the trash . . .and I thought maybe I couldn’t do it anymore. More seriously, I thought I wanted a cigarette really badly which isn’t a craving I’ve had in a long, long time.

I’m looking forward to the shift parenting being over, in part because weathering the hard stuff is SO much easier with a comrade in arms. To this end, last night I called in back up and our friend who lives nearby came and held the screaming baby while I put Ansel down, then switched off with me trying everything possible to get him to sleep. It still sucked, but it was much easier to keep my wits about me.

L has a couple of solid leads on some jobs, and she’s very excited about the prospect (minus the anxiety rabbit hole of childcare. I have resolutely stuck my head in the sand on that one!) which will have the benefit of both boosting her self esteem and getting her back into work she likes + adding some $$ to our family (hopefully . . .again, the childcare thing . . .) There’s a newly opened performing arts complex in the city just north of us and she has some connections there. They are city jobs that pay well and while it’s not her 100% dream job, it would be a good step forward.

I have also been working on getting a ‘promotion’ (not exactly the right term, but . . .) at my job as well. It’s a little complicated because unions + county government and how all of that works. Essentially, I have been asked to do work above my ‘classification’ basically since I started here, because it’s work I’d done before and have the skill and knowledge to do. This wasn’t a big deal to me because it’s work I like, but over the last 18 months I’ve grown steadily more resentful about it, primarily because (a) one of the other people in my position who has been here for 7+ years (in the job, with the county much longer) doesn’t even do the work we are supposed to do in our classification and is making a LOT more money than me because of seniority and (b) we just hired new people who I am training and who didn’t come with the skill I have and won’t be doing the work I’m doing and I know they were both hired at the same rate as me. It’s hard not to feel kind of taken advantage in this situation.

The process for moving to the next classification, though, is a lengthy and bureaucratic one which I began in November. I had a meeting almost two weeks ago with HR and my boss (and bosses boss) which was nerve wracking and intimidating (I almost cried afterwards from the stress) and it will be another 3-5 weeks before I hear anything. It would mean a slight raise and a II instead of a I on my classification, but it comes with the benefit of being a slightly more protected role (for complicated union reasons) and recognizing my work, which is what I’m really after. I have a lot of anxiety about what I’ll do if the reclassification doesn’t happen, in terms of managing my own feelings. But, cart before the horse.

It’s taken me almost a week to write this post, and things have changed a lot even in those few days, in terms of what I want to write about and what feels important enough to share and process. I wanted to write about #metoo and how to raise boys in this world who aren’t just concerned with not raping people but are also genuinely interested in active consent and mutual pleasure. I wanted to write about the complexities and gifts of being a non-gestational parent to one kid and a gestational parent to another – the ways in which biology can get in the way of parenting sometimes. I wanted to write about our upcoming trip to Denver and our plans to hire a Minnie Mouse character to come to the birthday/baptism party we are planning. I wanted to write about how we are starting to have community in the ways I want and need as a parent and a person – people who come over to hang out even when its hard and not fun, people who will of course watch your kid he’s so great! On short notice and with no pay and how good that feels and how sure it makes me that Tacoma was 100% the right choice. And there’s more . . .But if I don’t post this now, I never will. And, Ansel woke up at 4am today and I feel like I’m barely forming sentences let alone able to write anything of substance.

So, at least there’s a list – for me, if no one else. Maybe I’ll get back to those, maybe I won’t. There feels like both too much time and also never enough. When I have a swath of time laid in front of me, I can barely manage to stare into space or at my phone (though I rarely am able to make the more beneficial decision to go the fuck to sleep) and the rest of the time is taken up with all the other things.

But, there it is . . .an update or something like it.