Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Booby Trap

Well, since you know about my anxiety, you may as well know about my breasts.

I may be the only woman in the history of the world who ventured to LA and hoped to return with smaller breasts.

It helps that my trip to California coincided with my efforts to finish weaning Miss Molly. I'd hoped to nurse longer, but now that we're all finished with that part of babyhood - FREE AT LAST! FREE AT LAST! GOD ALMIGHTY I'M FREE AT LAST!

Finally put away all maternity blouses, bras, pads, shields. Packed up the pump and all of its parts. Happily dragged out pre-pregnancy bras from...GASP! Victoria's Secret. Ahhhh...the girls are happy again. And small(er).

Now if only I could go to LA and return with a smaller butt, that would really be something to post about. Maybe next trip.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Welcome to Crazy Town

For those who are lucky enough to have nice, normal thought patterns, this post will probably sound like the rantics of a lunatic. I'm ok with that.

Living with (an unmedicated) anxiety disorder is like opening a white elephant gift every single day - - an unwelcome little surprise that occasionally makes you laugh at its absolute absurdity. Sometimes that laughter is a little high pitched and crazy, often through tears.

On a good day, I can laugh at myself and my spiraling thought process; on a bad day, I feel paralyzed by a hopeless despair and a frantic need to control whatever I can. Or maybe that's just a regular part of work, marriage, and parenting.

Last night was a bad night. I've tried to explain to my patient, wonderful husband what's going on in my brain, and his response is along the lines of "But that's ridiculous. Just stop thinking about it." That's the point though - I can't.

Anxiety is a maze of apprehension-you frantically race around corners, and on top of that, you're running late. The more you try to navigate, the more turned around you become. Your breathing picks up and becomes shallow - you break into a sweat - and you just think if you run a little faster, the maze will make sense and you'll be able to break free.

Last night I helped Johannah pack up for her trip to North Carolina with her dad and his family.
For several reasons it's a stressful situation - even in the best scenario, I don't see how joint custody can be perfect.

She was anxious to start, which was helpful because I could focus on calming her down: Outwardly, I am calm and loving. Everything will be fine, we've packed your favorite toys, here are some phone numbers for you -call anytime you want.

But if you've wondered what someone with high anxiety thinks on these nights, lying in bed thinking about sending her child off on a vacation, this is it:

I tuck her into her makeshift bed on the nursery floor (she, too, has some anxiety and needs to sleep near her baby sister).

"Good night, Mama. I love you." She has finally stopped crying and seems ready to fall asleep.

"Good night sweetie. I love you. Just get some rest; I'm going to wake you up in 9 hours and it will seem like a nap - you're so tired." I brush her hair out of her eyes. One more kiss, one more hug.

I sit next to her on the floor for a minute, studying her face. This is the last night I will see her face like this. Why didn't I take more pictures today to remember this moment in her life? If it's a car crash on the way down to the beach, the call will probably come sometime Monday, so I should make sure I'm home then. Or would they send the police if it's an out of state crash? Hopefully the crash isn't so bad that they would have to use dental records. When did she last go to the dentist?

She is asleep finally, and I kiss her forehead again before heading downstairs. The first thing I'd have to do is call my family. Would I call my parents first? What would we tell her sisters? I'll have to get some of the pictures I took today printed out for the baby so she will remember her. Nobody makes Molly laugh like Johannah. I will have to write down some of the funny things she said so Molly will have at least that to remember her by.

I'm lying in bed next to a snoring husband,staring at the ceiling fan. If they make it to the beach, she will probably drown. Last year she and her dad were caught in that riptide - he says he will be more careful this year, but I think they will both be over-confident because she was on swim team. She will be clinging to his neck and crying. He will be talking to her softly, trying not to panic. They will finally find their nearly unrecognizable bodies a few days later - when I go to the morgue, they don't want me to look at her so I remember her the way she was.

I go back upstairs to look at her again. I end up sleeping on the floor, knowing I look like an idiot and my husband will be annoyed at my ridiculous anxiety over this stupid yearly trip. And I do know it's ridiculous, but I can't stop.

Over the course of the night, I go through what will be said at her funeral. There is a letter she has, from a friend she made at camp. It describes how Johannah is the perfect friend. I will read it, doped up on sedatives. I arrange the program, which pictures will be used in the inevitable collages, what she should wear. I practice the phone calls in my head. I imagine the horror that a child's death can wreak upon a marriage. I imagine going back to the days of my own lonely apartment.

Then, somehow, I sleep for a few hours. When the alarm wakes me, I wake Johannah up, we feed Molly together, we sing some songs as we load up the car. Happily we head to her grandparents' house where the family is gathering to pack their cars. We stop for some Munchkin doughnuts for her to share with her cousins. We stop for a disposable camera- she wants a waterproof one to take to the beach. They'll find this camera after she's gone and it will have the last things she saw. I buy her two.

She falls in the parking lot and scrapes her knees, her forarms, even her cheek. She is crying, which is perfect - I go into responsible caregiver mode, washing off wounds and wiping away tears.

We say goodbye at the door, hug and kiss a few more times. Her younger cousins gather around her, first to make a fuss over her new wounds, but then to descend like little scavengers on the doughnuts.

She waves to me as I drive away. I will never see her again. I love her so much.

I arrive home, drink 3 cups of coffee, and write.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

California Girl (Temporarily)

A nice picture of the sisters #1-#3 after Sarah's show...

Back from a whirlwind weekend in Pasadena, California with two of my lovely sisters (#2 & #3 for those who are counting). Although I desperately missed my kids and my husband (who called frequently not because he needed anything, but just because he wanted to share cute Molly-isms), I did as I was told and relaxed. I learned several interesting facts this weekend:

1) "Just Groovy" by OPI is a fine shade of blue for a pedicure by a little Korean woman named Cindy, especially when it is sponsored by your sister, 15 minutes after landing in Burbank.

2) Coffee tastes better when it is sipped slowly in a living room, listening to hilarious stories by your brother-in-law.

3) Pasadena isn't the "LA" I envisioned. It's a nice normal place to live, except it costs about 8 times more than Pleasant Ridge.

4) Pilates is a fun class when it's taught by a sister!

5) Not just anyone can perform Shakespeare well...luckily, my sister Sarah is one of those few - - an outstanding Titania!

6) Working for Disney is as cool as I imagined, and not just because the Commissary kicks culinary ass. (Although my family does value good food quite highly.)

7) The Equinox gym in Pasadena is just like the YMCA I go to in Cincinnati, except there are no fat people. At all.

8) When you want to quit nursing a baby, it helps to actually LEAVE the baby for 3 days. Suddenly, my regular tops fit again! Woo-hoo!

9) Jason at the Burke Williams Spa may have changed my life. NOW I see why people get massages. Goodness me.

10) Skybus is the way to fly if you're into cheap flights!

11) The film industry is crazy. Listening to my brother-in-law Alex describe the hoops that must be jumped through just to get people on board for a project is mind-blowing.

12) My sisters and their husbands are truly interesting, talented people and I wish we all lived closer to each other!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Camp Requiem

First day of camp:

Last day of camp:Note that nervous smile of a newbie has been replaced with one of a confident, if toothless, camper...

Jo is home from camp, and loved it every bit as much as we suspected she would. She loved it so much, in fact, that she spent most of the day yesterday weeping. First she'd cry because she missed being at camp, and then she'd weep because she felt she might be hurting our feelings. Ah yes, that's our Jo - she came with built-in guilt trips.

We've been hearing camp song after camp song, which is killing Lindsay, who chose drama camp over "normal" camp this year. She moped the entire car ride to pick up Jo, but luckily (for her) managed to suck it up at the last minute and look excited to see her sister. (And she did a great job of giving Jo her moment in the sun.)

Brendan didn't come with us at the last minute because he injured his back the day before, and I told him to rest; I underestimated how much Jo wanted him there. A quick phone call alerted Brendan that he better look on death's door when we get home so Jo really understands he couldn't have come to pick her up.

When we arrived home, the house was dark, and in the back bedroom, Brendan lay motionless on the bed, wrapped in a sheet, with his hands on his chest like a corpse. Mozart's Requiem played on the cd player, and he reached blindly for Jo's face - "Jo? Is that you? Come closer?"

All was forgiven...

Monday, July 9, 2007

Camp Crazy Mom

The 8 year old is at camp this week. All week. Overnight camp, all week, without me.

I'm not sure how I feel about this.

When we dropped her off, (we - her entourage - Dad, Mom, Step dad, baby sister), she was reserved and into shy mode, which doesn't happen often. Her pitch goes up a few notches, her speech slows down, her eyes barely graze eye level before shooting back down to her feet. Definitely not the same kid who bounds around the house, giggly uproariously, farting on cue, hugging me every chance she gets.

I wanted to shake the nice teenage Counselor. Shake her hard and yell, "Do you know what you're doing? Will you keep her safe?" Of course, I just smiled and made some insipid joke about her state of mind to do this by choice.

I imagine she bounced back quickly last night when she figured out that a cabinful of 8 year old girls is a receptive audience. She won't be the ring leader, but she'll be the friendliest of the bunch. She's probably not the instigator of the pranks, but she's the one who will laugh hardest at the outcome.

I've done what I can do from this end - mailed letters ahead of time, sent a package, tucked secret notes into her luggage, along with some contraband bubble gum. Now I'm going about my day, occasionally checking her camp schedule and wondering what songs she is learning in the mess hall, what devilish plan they've cooked up to raid the boys' cabin, what she's thinking when she is going to sleep on the top bunk by the door.

I hope she's having fun.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Happy Birthday America!

Since no one says it better than my wonderful husband, I direct you to his blog tonight...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Baby Cakes

Just returned from a wonderful trip to Michigan where we had the chance to visit with one of my sisters and her lovely husband, in from California for the week. It was a great mix of folks, and a good mix of kid-inspired games (when's the last time you played CLUE? CANDYLAND?) and serious adult conversation...

The eldest of our little clan is now officially 12 years old, and we had her birthday party up at the lake - as much of a surprise party as it can be when it has occurred every other year.

The picture was snapped just after the baby put her fingers in the birthday cake's chocolate icing. What I love about this picture: 1) The 12 year old isn't self-aware enough yet to know to lick her lips and teeth after eating chocolate before a picture is taken 2) The baby has a little icing on her fingers and her nose 3) the 8 year old is tan and deliriously happy about the entire weekend, and looks a bit crazed.

Good times.