I am not a psycho, but I do find myself battling a darker, moodier, less pleasant me at times. We spent the weekend doing yard work. All 4 of us. We woke up, put on our gear, and went out into the grey raw weather and it was great. It was such a simple and obvious solution to grumping around inside the house. But living a good life is hard work, at least for me. In certain areas of my life my natural instincts seem contrary to those in my best interest. I tend to ignore the obvious when it comes to breaking up a black mood. I know what I need to do to feel better. I need to get out of my head and into my life. But that requires action. And when I am Mr. Hyde I am a lazy ass.
I have been giving into the lazy ass a lot these days. I have a strict inner critic, so hopefully it isn’t as bad as I think it is, ( I am trying to be kinder to myself.) Today it is time to start living a good life again even though it is annoyingly difficult at times, so watch out miss grumpy pants- you’re about to get your ass kicked.
Perhaps I shouldn’t have picked today to kick my alter ego’s ass. It is the end of daylight savings and this day with its extra hour seems endless. It is only 3:30 but the sky looks like this:
This year we are going to fight the winter blues and reward ourselves for all we have been through with a trip to Costa Rica in February. That’s right, our tickets and accommodations are booked: it is happening. We have our first three month scan to get through in December and then Costa Rica here we come, (and my man bought travel insurance just in case: cancel, cancel.) It’s a focus in our home at the moment.
I even indulged in a Spanish language learning program. Our daughter keeps asking me if she can try it, and tomorrow I will set her up with a user name even though Mr Hyde wants to hole away in the bedroom keeping all of the fun to himself. It will be my first “screw you grumpy mood” act of the week.
I find myself thinking often of my own parents these days: becoming aware for the first time of how much shit they must have been dealing with when they were raising us. But we survived , and (sorry dad) I think I’m doing a better job then they did. But not the other night. If I am a miss grumpy pants then my daughter is a junior miss grumpy pants. We arrived home from trick or treating freezing and exhausted, and my daughter was being a brat, so after several warnings about her behavior I threw away all of her candy.
Of course I didn’t really throw it away, but she didn’t know that. I regretted it as soon as it was done. She started to cry uncontrollably and scream to her father, “She threw all of my candy away, she threw all of my candy away.” It was heart breaking. I went to her later, tail between my legs and apologized. It was a bad parenting moment.
We all struggle with behavior in our house. Being polite to each other, treating each other respectfully sometimes these things elude us. We spend our days being polite and respectful. At home we can be our true selves: let every little mood shine in all its glory. I know I snap and yell and expect, in fact almost insist, that my family knows this doesn’t mean I don’t love them. It’s just me being my unfiltered self. So I shouldn’t take it personally when my children snap and yell at me.
The thing is someone has to be the grown up. We can’t all run around being our unfiltered selves. And seeing that I fit the factual definition it should be me. My behavior halloween night wasn’t very adult. My fake throwing away my daughter’s candy was really just a grown up tantrum.
We have a new system at our house: stickers and bad faces. A sticker is for being cooperative and a bad face is for being uncooperative. Too many bad faces = no halloween candy for the day. It’s a powerful tool. But it also seems slightly wrong: bribery in disguise. My man and I should be included in the system. I’ll take a bad face when I am being a snot. And I think I deserve a sticker for apologizing to my daughter for fake throwing away her candy. In addition to my advanced age, it is this ability to see and own my mistakes that me make me the grown up.
“Oh look, nasty me is back just in time for Halloween,” I cackled at my man this morning after I made an insulting remark about his mother. “What do you mean ‘is back’,” he countered. “Oh come on, I haven’t been this pickled in a while,” I insisted. And I think that’s true. I started to notice the bad mood creeping up on me midweek: waking up in the morning and feeling instantaneously annoyed, wanting to tune out and be left alone, etc. etc. It became official yesterday when I called my husband at work specifically to bitch at him for taking the left over eggplant parmesan and spoiling my plans for a stress free dinner.
To my credit, I recognized the absurdity of the phone call before it ended. My man gave me a big knowing grin when he walked in the door and we had a giggle. But I still woke up grouchy again this morning. There are certain things my man does that are a good indicator of my mood: swallowing too loudly, tucking his T-shirt into his pajama bottoms, or the light way he taps the keyboard mouse. I know I am in the danger zone when these things make me want to kill. “My computer doesn’t like the effeminate way you tap the mouse,” I shot at him this morning in response to some issues he was having on my computer. “You’re mean,” was his fair reply.
Well, yes I am mean. But not all of the time, and I am trying to be better about it. I encourage him to be mean back. “Come on, I can take it,” I urge him. “No, you can’t,” is his constant reply. Maybe he is right. In any case, I have noticed that I take myself and these moody spells less seriously and so does he. I’m grumpy- it’s not the end of the world, things could be a lot worse, and we both know it will pass.
In the meantime tomorrow is Halloween. We will have an Indian and a Policeman to escort around the neighborhood and perhaps one miss grumpy pants- although hopefully she will be gone by then.
Things are good. My man and I had a wonderful weekend. It was our first non cancer related get a way in 5 months, and it felt great. Plus it was a wedding. It is pretty difficult not to have a good time at a wedding. Especially when it is in a beautiful spot with beautiful people.
I really enjoyed being with my husband. I don’t always, and so I am grateful for the moments when I see clearly- without my judgmental lens. Cancer gave me these moments or at least the ability to recognize them. My man and I may have given up some of the quantity since life has returned to ‘normal’ but non of the quality. We really had fun. I was tipsy and sentimental from the wedding, so I wanted to touch him inappropriately all evening, but I showed some restraint. ”I wanted to make out at the bar,” I told him the next day as we rehashed the evenings details. “I know, you were embarrassing me,” he smiled.
At one point during dinner I shouted out a little too loudly, “because, he has cancer,” in answer to a question about my blog’s name and than collapsed into a fit of giggles. But it was okay. Even my man who is very private seemed at ease when we started to cancer banter. What a long way we have come.
My man made me a mixed CD and I have been listening to it for days. The tourists have cleared out, the leaves are amazing, the sun is shining and I have new music. I have been really enjoying driving the long stretches of back road that I drive. I have been driving along listening to this (among other things) and thinking that it is the most beautiful music I had ever heard and feeling overwhelming love and appreciation for my man.
But yesterday in the midst of all of the good feelings I took a little detour. Suddenly I was at my husband’s death bed sorting out the nitty gritty details and it brought tears to my eyes, (I put on a really good death fantasy.) It is some strange superstitious dress rehearsal that I put myself through. “Can I take it, how would I react, what would happen?” A preparedness course and a reminder, ” this could all fall apart at any second.” And then I remind myself that that has always been true, which causes its own little panic. But these death drills have become fewer and farther between.
And tomorrow we are off to another wedding. Just me and my man. We are leaving the kiddos with family and I am looking forward to it. We haven’t been out together in quite some time, and it should be a beautiful drive
Last night on the way home from work my man saw a cop shoot a moose on the highway by our exit. There were lights and orange cones- my husband was made to pull over and then the police man pulled out his gun. “I thought it was a shoot out,” said my guy. ” I heard a shot, and as I was driving away I saw the legs and hooves.” Lucky guy. We have lived here three years and I have never seen a moose. Neighbors have them tromping across their yards all of the time, but I have never seen one. I might be wrong but it seems like some sort of qualifier for living in this state especially for those of us that are from away: lobster, maple syrup, moose etc. Now my man can check that off his list, and he seemed proud to have glimpsed his first moose even if it was lying dead in the road from a bullet to the head. My day wasn’t quite so exciting.
My son and I had an impromptu play date at the playground. He is very social and will befriend who ever is willing to have him. Yesterday he needed a little support and I helped him woo a three year old (and his mother) out to the playground as we waited out their sisters’ dance class. My inner critic came too and this is what she saw: two lonely, intelligent women with a lot on their minds who hadn’t had a meaningful grown up conversation in at least a week. And although the other mother set the tone and pace-quickly pouring out her entire life story-I happily followed her lead. At some point after she finished telling me about her ‘dark’ years in counseling I figured it was time for introductions. “I’m sorry, I don’t think I caught your name,” I confessed. “Oh, it is Mary, actually it’s Mareth. Yeah, I have decided to go by Mareth,” she answered sounding like she had just made the decision. My inner critic loved this shouting loudly “she’s a quack, she’s a quack, she’s a quack.” But all the while I found myself easily relating to this woman. She was on the quirky side, but the most interesting people are. The truth is it was the most honest, interesting conversation I have had with a stranger in quite a while and I needed it. I am feeling a bit isolated lately. A couple of my usual confidants are missing and my man and I are wrapped up in our separate lives again. So thank you Mareth, I like your style.
On the drive home, I realized that despite our gold medal worthy share I had never mentioned my man’s cancer. It has faded that much into the background for now. As I began to analyze I was abruptly interrupted by our girl giggling and shouting, “Mama, you have a booger on your earring!” And while I am pretty sure it was the price sticker coupled with some hair product that resulted in a very boogerish mass (that’s my story anyway), I had to smile as I wondered what Mareth’s inner critic had made of that.
Today was a holy moly day. A quintessential New England fall day- sunny and brisk. We took advantage and decided to cram all our fall activities into one day. We drove 35 minutes this morning for breakfast, and it was delicious. Then we drove twenty minutes to an apple orchard where we spent approximately 10 minutes filling up two giant bags and enjoying the sunshine and colors.
Across from the orchard was a playground complete with a soccer field and basketball court. “A perfect place for the kite,” declared my man as he ran to the car to fetch the kite that permanently resides in the back . “Try it,” he yelled out to me, “it is guaranteed to put a smile on your face.” And he was right- it was good for a grin. We took the long way home and enjoyed a clandestine Sunday Drive. For my husband the idea off getting into the car to drive and see what there is to see does not compute in a Mr. Spock kind of way: illogical captain! But he only made me get the map out twice, and even he enjoyed exploring new territory and doing a bit of leaf peaping.
The day was only slightly dampened by a trip to the grocery store where the check out girl snapped me out of my euphoria when she failed to recognize an eggplant. “What is this?” she asked me fingers poised to type in a code, “Umm, it’s an eggplant,” I answered trying not to be a snot. “What kind of eggplant,” she persisted. “I should have told her it was an aubergine,” I later joked with my man. My husband forgave the girl her ignorance: ”did you know what an eggplant was when you were her age?” he asked. “Yes!” I screeched. “Yeah, so did I, ” he admitted. And as we walked to the car I felt old. One girl’s vegetable ignorance had me worrying about the future of humanity, but then I looked at our kiddos and thought- at least my children recognize an eggplant- if they didn’t I might be able to trick them into eating it!
Today was a rainy, windy one, but it is calmer now and we never lost power. I attended an all day work related meeting. I drove through the wind and rain to a country B & B to hear people speak about Career Pathways in Adult Education. And I thought about what it would be like to have a more substantial career in my field, and I wondered if I would like that. It doesn’t seem big or romantic enough to be the thing that I do after my man’s cancer. What happened to: my man was diagnosed with cancer so we decided to travel around the world. Instead I’ve got: my man has cancer, so I decided to go back to work. But that’s just Judgy McJudgerson talking.
After the meeting I picked up tired, cranky children and took them to the grocery store where things were not good. Our five year old boy oscillated between standing in the middle of the store arching his back and yelling up at the ceiling, “I have to poo, I have to throw up,” to asking if he could have every sweet junky thing in the place and then completely disintegrating when the answer was no. And amazingly I didn’t even really care. I didn’t get hot and itchy and slightly sweaty. I didn’t even get angry. I was calm, patient, and rational, so I get a gold star.
The kiddos watched a movie and ate dinner in front of the T.V.-a treat for everyone every once in a while.
Tonight my man is at the movies and I have a sappy movie with my name on it. I am going to snuggle in, watch it, and cry. It’s an old comfort I don’t get very often anymore, so I am looking forward to it.
A friend sent me a link to this. And in her words, “hope this doesn’t offend, it’s meant in love and humor.”
Post Script- I wrote this post late last night and was unable to post it because we did loose power. My movie was bad- I didn’t even shed a tear- maybe I didn’t really need a cry after all.
I am procrastinating. I should be preparing for some work related activities, but instead I took a break to write. The truth is I feel fairly prepared. I am halfway through my to- do list and have the skill set necessary to complete my tasks, plus I am awesome: whoops did I just say that out loud?
I am a strange mix of cocky entitlement and low self confidence (although this is improving.) When I was growing up my mother always told me that I was special and I believed her. The problem is that she forgot to inform the rest of the world. Somehow her message to me implied that everyone else would know I was special and act accordingly. Obviously that isn’t the case, and the result has been me resisting any opportunity where I have to prove in any way shape or form that I am the right person for the job, school, situation etc.
If they don’t know it already than phooey on them. But refusing to prove to anyone that I was ‘special’ left me with a fairly empty bag of professional tricks and therefore a lack of self confidence. A viscous cycle which I believe I have broken. Just like the cliche – you can’t truly love others until you love yourself- you can’t really convince others of your capabilities until you believe them yourself. And so I feel confident- I sill think I am special, but now I can prove it to you.
And that doesn’t negate the fact that there are others in my field who may be special and can prove it too. But that isn’t important and it is beyond my control. And although on the surface this has nothing to do with my man’s cancer, I can’t help but feel it is part of the ‘new and improved’ ness of our life. I don’t have time for a lot of my own bullshit anymore: excuses and insecurities are a waste of energy. So here’s to another pattern broken- way to go growth and maturity! and now to stop procrastinating on the internet.
Back from L.A and groggy from a nap. It was a sweet wedding and a nice chance to get to connect with family in a way I don’t when I have two kiddos in tow. I saw a movie at the Arclight, glimpsed someone famous, ate a pastrami sandwich, finally ate an In and Out burger and generally yuked it up. I’m an awestruck bumpkin in L.A. and I love it!!