Thursday, July 23, 2015


I'm trying to identify and confront head-on sources of stress in my life.  In the last week I've been able to, with some pretty deep introspection, narrow down a few of the daily nuances that make me absolutely batshit crazy:

1.  Shoes.  Not being able to find my shoes, not being able to find Geneva's shoes, only being able to find one of the shoes...and don't even let me get started on finding fucking socks that match each other.  It's a Christmas Miracle in July if you can make that shit happen.

2.  Food.  Geneva's Lunch, my lunch, our breakfasts, snacks, morning coffee. Dinner - what are we having for dinner?  All are very important.  All are occasionally missed because I don't have my shit together.

3.  Clothes.  Knowing what I'm going to wear and being able to locate all of the pieces of said outfit.  Wash, Rinse, Repeat for Geneva and Cora. 

Sounds simple enough, right?  Shut up. 

I can recognize how silly and simple that list sounds, but I also know, from living in my daily reality, that those are legitimate, snakes-popping-out-of-my-head crazy-inducing triggers/challenges that can make or break my day before it's really even gotten started. 

I also know how to solve my problems, at least in terms of identifying the solutions - shoes go back in the same place after they come off, food is prepped the night before, laundry is done on weekends and work-week outfits laid out Sunday night.  I've tried.  Oh, how I've tried.  It's not easy being lazy, folks.  When it was just me and Jimi, oh, the lazy times we had.  G came along and required the discipline of every-other-day laundry and regular mealtimes, but she was settling into a pretty good lazy routine too.  Then we added Cora into the mix, and, through no fault of hers, just the pure fact of four people living under one roof, logistics got complicated and started requiring some real planning and execution and follow-through.  Things we're really bad at in the Fowler household.

I was doing great for a minute, though.  When I first went back to work after my maternity leave this last time, I had meal plans planned and prepped Saturday afternoon for the coming week.  Laundry was washed and folded and put away and laid out Sunday night.  Lunches were packed the night before; there was time for breakfast in the mornings before we left the house, rather than grabbing a granola bar on the way out the door.  We knew where our shoes were. 

Those things happened.  They did.  I distinctly remember.  And then we all got sick, and we passed some variety and level of funk around between us for the next few months and it just wasn't easy to keep on top of all of that neatness and organization - it makes everything run so smoothly, but man, it really requires work and staying on top of it.  Or, well, not being completely lazy asses and doing nothing. 

It made me feel better when I learned that there's an actual scientific theory out there that says chaos is the natural order of things - that no matter how nice and neat you organize things, the natural inclination is for those things to become disorganized and messy.  It made me feel like maybe I'm not such a complete failure in life.  Chaos is normal, and expected.  That was long before kids.  It's especially when you have little kids, though, right?  That's what people keep telling me. 

I called a family friend last week, a psychiatrist by trade, and told her that I was pretty sure I was going crazy, and asked her if she could refer me to someone I could talk to.  I don't want any meds or anything, I told her, I just want someone to tell me how to stop being so fucking crazy.  I'd cried the whole way to work that morning.  I was sort of a basket case.  She asked me to explain what was going on - what was my particular flavor of crazy, if you will.  I'm anxious all the time, I feel like I'm constantly going to fuck something up, or like I've already fucked something up and it's going to bite me in the ass.  I can't get my arms around anything, I feel completely overwhelmed and behind at work and at home and I fantasize about burning shit down or quitting my job because then I could start somewhere new and not be behind anymore.  She laughed at me.

"Natalie!  You're not crazy!  You're just a woman!"

dramatic pause

"That's what it is to be a woman in today's fucked up society.  With two small kids and a full time job, of course you're a little crazy."  We can't give enough of ourselves to any one thing to ever feel like we're doing enough or good enough, and then we've given so much of ourselves and our time to those two very important vocations that there's no time or energy left to give to ourselves.  It's a nasty vicious cycle and it can make your brain and your body sick.  She told me how for years she'd held out hope that women could come together, recognizing these truths we all experience every day, and help each other, or at the very least, band together to encourage some positive societal change wherein it was made easier for women to balance these roles.  What she found instead was a bunch of backbiting and judgment. 

Her advice to me was not to seek counsel of a local psychologist - she told me anyone I found locally to talk to would likely be a man, which no ability to understand the perfect storm of emotions i'm experiencing right now, and he'd want to throw a pill at the problem that wouldn't fix my problem.  She told me to hire someone to clean my house, or quit my job, or work part time, or come home and light up a joint to relax after the kids are in bed. 

So those aren't exactly the most feasible options for me, but she got me thinking - what are the sources of my stress?  What makes my day hard? 

I organized my pantry.  I cut up one of those over-the-closet-door shoe holder thingies I never use and put half on the back of the pantry door and filled the pockets with easy-to-grab snacks for us and the kids - fruit, babyfood pouches, granola bars, pretzels, oatmeal packs, fruit snacks.  Now I don't have to dig for nutritious things in the mornings when we're rushing to get out the door  - we have things easily available.  I made a meal plan for the week so we'd come home each night knowing what we're having for dinner and how we're getting it made.  I dug out an old CD rack that is a perfect fit for Geneva's shoes - retraining ourselves to use it is another matter entirely.  Jimi's been staying on top of the kitchen mess and the laundry so we've had things to wear and clean dishes to cook and eat with.  We're off to a good start, I'd say. 

Life is hard and messy and sometimes you just need a good cry and someone to tell you you're not alone, that you're not the only person who's ever gone through this or felt this way.  That you're not crazy.  Not in a "medicate me" sort of way - life is just hard.  And messy.  And chaotic.  Exactly as it's supposed to be. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The Best Parts of the Week

The Best Parts of the Week were, in no particular order:

Geneva told her sitter's husband this afternoon: "My mom is pretty."  I'm not sure where that came from, but man, it sure felt good.

Know what was even better though?  Last night, she and I went for a walk around the block.  "I love you, Mommy." and "I love walking with you, Mommy."  Wow.

This morning, Geneva was reading a book to Cora.  Those girls.  Geneva loves Cora so much, and Cora searches for Geneva constantly, her face lighting up in a huge two-tooth grin when she finds her sister.  Watching them together makes me feel like maybe I understand my purpose in this life.

Geneva and I went swimming Sunday and Monday nights.  The whole fam-damily went to Columbus OH for three days so I could do some training with my counterpart in that office, and the hotel we were in had an indoor pool with so much chlorine the water had a film over the surface and my skin started to burn after fifteen minutes.  G gave zero fucks about her burning eyes and skin, though - she was SWIMMING!  We took turns being sharks, holding our hands up like fins above our heads and saying "Do do, do do, do do" as we moved in for the tickle attacks.  I wish sometimes I had a videographer who could follow me around and record all of these precious moments i'm going to forget in the next twenty minutes.  I'm adding that to my list of shit to buy when I win the lottery or come up with a multi-million dollar idea.  Videographer.  I'll build them an addition on the back of the house so they can live on-site.

Full length mirrors.  I'm almost back to my pre-pregnancy weight - thanks only to the tandem breastfeeding and poor nutrition that comes from being a full-time working mother of two because I sure as fuck can't get my ass to the gym - and my body is something that gives me good thoughts more days than not.  I don't know how I look to other people, but when I see me, I see a strong woman who's given birth and life to two amazing little girls with this body...gotta respect it, you know?  And I recently bought some new clothes that make me feel a little more sophisticated than my usual uniform of yoga pants, nursing tank, light casual cardigan/blouse.  A few of the guys around the office have made some comments that tell me I'm not looking half bad for a 35 year old mother of two - a cheap thrill, sure, but a thrill nonetheless.  (she says as she slugs another mouthful of refrigerated cabernet sauvignon from the 375ml bottle her husband bought for $20 in the hotel lobby and they never got around to drinking together because the kids never go to sleep early enough for the grownups to enough energy to have grownup time...)

I'll get a check for a couple hundred bucks for my mileage for the trip at the start of the week.  Extra money is always good.

My husband is so awesome.  Wednesday was sort of, well, really hard for me.  For no particular reason, just because sometimes life is hard, even if the difficulty is of your own making or even in your own head.  Hard is hard.  I cried the entire way to work that morning.  I was miserable all day.  I got home that night and our conversation had me in tears again.  He  did what he's always done - he listened, and then he offered a couple of logical solutions, each with their own pros and cons he was patient enough to weigh out with me.  He listened to my pipe dreams and pretended with me that there was actually a way to make them reality.  He promised me that if I needed to follow through with those pretend fantasies, he'd work with me to ensure our success.  I can't make the sort of changes I'd really like right now, but it's so reassuring and comforting to know that my partner will be by my side to help me work out viable solutions to my problems every step of the way.  I love my Jimi.  For so many years now he's been my safe place, my confidant, my best friend.  The new and the shiny has long since worn off, but man, what we've got here, this beautiful thing we're still doing...we've got a special thing going, I think.  one that seems it had to have been inspired, on purpose, intended, fated, destined, meant to be.  Lucky, lucky us.

I have so many people who love me.  I posted on facebook Wednesday:  I'm struggling today with a lot of anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. My friends and family rallied to give me kind words of love and support.  They made me cry happy tears.  Sweet friends.

I harvested my first zucchini last night.  Jimi sautéed it with garlic, olive oil, then squirted it with lime juice.  Oh my goodness, it was so yummy.  I sure hope we get another one.  My eggplant flowered, I harvested one little pea pod that had the two most delicious peas I've ever tasted, we have about 8 tiny watermelons growing, and I think my seeds from Australia are actually growing.  The sweet potato vines seem to be doing well, my beans and cucumbers are flowering - even the black beans! Did you know black bean flowers are pinkish/purple?  They're so pretty. 

I made it to Friday.  Tomorrow's Saturday.  YAY Weekend!

What was the best part of your week?  And can you guess what this post was originally going to be about?


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