growing up is hard to do

Sometimes when I’m around other women my own age, I feel like such a child. They have jobs and careers and goals and paychecks. They seem to know what they’re doing in life, where they want to go, what they want from the world. I feel like a giant immature idiot, drifting along without a clue or any achievements to my name.

I mean, I have achievements, but far too many of them feel not so much like achievements as things I’ve done that look good on a resume and make other people excited. The only ones that felt like achievements to me were my college diplomas. Even then, it (weirdly) felt like other people were making a bigger deal out of it than me — like I needed to pretend to a level of excitement I didn’t really feel. Sometimes I think … I think the only thing that would make me feel “successful” is to write and publish a book.

I’m 34 now, and I should know that none of us have it together … but I feel like I’m groping in the dark, lost and looking for advice. I feel like I can’t do any of it quite right … like (as my dad loves to describe me) I keep marching to the beat of a different drum. The way I would say it is “out of step.” The other moms I know got their degrees and careers first, and had their marriages and kids (multiple!) second. I got married, had a baby, and then went to college. 

The other women my age have jobs, or are in between jobs. Some have college degrees, some don’t. They earn paychecks and support their households. They have work histories that include publishing and teaching and banking and management and sales. They are professional women, with professional clothing and professional lives. 

These women often don’t know or care about canning and sewing. When we talk politics or social movements, my knowledge comes from news reports, college lectures, and research — theirs so often seems to come from experience and observation. I feel frumpy and childish and awkward, out of step and out of sync when I talk to them. I feel as though they pity me.

But then there are the women my age who are consummate housewives. They homeschool and cook gourmet meals and plan birthday parties down to the last detail. They scrapbook and hold stamping parties and whip up healthy snacks in fun shapes, and they like to talk about reality t.v. and the latest drama on Real Housewives of whatever. When asked what they like to read, they say Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey. 

With these women, I feel gawkish and nerdy and somehow … bad. A bad mom. A mom who doesn’t make home-made yoghurt, and who gladly passes the responsibility of his formal education off to others. I am too selfish to be a good mom, and I feel like they look down on me for my choice to have only one child, as well as my professional and educational aspirations.

My kid sister has traveled the world. She has been to foreign countries, lived on her own, gone white water rafting and rock climbing. She has learned a foreign language. She works for a non-profit to help change the world. I envy and admire her, and wonder what turns we took in life that took us on such disparate paths. I wouldn’t mind trading places with her for a day or so, as long as I could always go back home (or take John with me).

My older sister has 4 children that she homeschools. She is a devout mormon and a stay at home mom. She runs marathons and volunteers at her church. My feelings about her are more complicated … I admire her fortitude, and am in awe of the patience she has to possess. But I do not envy her. I would not ever want to swap places with her, even for a day, or an hour. 

I love my husband. I love my son. I love our animals, and I love my town. I love the life I have, the family I have, the opportunities I have. But at the same time, I so often feel as though I never quite fit the expectations people have of me. I always feel a little out-of-step, a little awkward. 

I think that when I hit adulthood, someone forgot to supply me with the How-To Manual. 

 

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sliding downhill

I’ve noticed that my happy/ energetic stages seem to be verging on the hypomanic, and my apathetic/ bored stages almost seem to tip toward a very mild depression. I’ve been tracking my moods again to make sure. I don’t think it’s bipolar … I think it’s just the time of year. Mom’s birthday and deathiversary and whatnot. Also, my circadian rhythms seem to be all out of whack.

I’m a natural night owl, so I stay up late, but I also tend to wake up every morning at 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. If I’m lucky, I get a mid-morning nap in. Otherwise, I’m usually draggin’ and kind of antisocial feeling until mid-afternoon, and then I’m usually vibrating with energy and wanting to go do something — a walk, a motorcycle ride, a visit with friends, whatever. But with the summer heat and John’s post-shift exhaustion and Kidling’s friends coming over, I usually just end up staying inside and playing video games despite feeling tense and irritable due to the unspent high energy levels.

We did go on a long motorcycle ride as a family the other day. People maybe don’t realize this, but riding a motorcycle in 88*F is actually super uncomfortable. There’s totally this assumption that motorcycles are great to ride on a summer’s day, and they are … but it is also meltingly hot. We were dripping with sweat. Kidling was whiny and frustrated, but I didn’t let it bother me. See, I had a surprise planned.

We rode out on this lovely, tree-lined and wood-shaded road that curved and twisted through sun and shadow until we arrived at an out-of-the-way creek. John likes to look for agates there, and Kidling and I love wading and splashing in the icy current. We’ve gone out there twice this summer with the dogs, but both times it was packed with people and their pets.

This time it was empty. Gloriously isolated and empty, and it was just the three of us. Over th last winter, the path of the stream had shifted, and now there was a deep water hole to jump into. Kidling and I splashed right in, gasping and shrieking at the unexpected iciness of the swift current after the long, hot ride. Within short order, we were soaked through from top to bottom — dripping jeans, shirts, and hair.

John shook his head in quiet disbelief at his insane wife and child, neatly rolled up the hem of his jeans, and waded in ankle-deep water looking for agates.

After an hour or so, Kidling and I were chilled to the bone and shivering. We finally convinced John to come into the deeper water, and the three of us goofed off a bit with splashing and dunking. We took a couple pictures for a family album I’m putting together, and then we got back on the motorcycles and headed home.

The combined wind of the ride and warmth of the afternoon sun soon dried our sopped clothing to a clingy dampness — the perfect air-conditioning solution for a motorcycle ride. Kidling enjoyed the second half of the ride much more than the first, and begged to know when we could repeat the experience. It was great.

Soon enough, he’ll be in school again. I’m looking forward to it. He starts 7th grade next Wednesday. His fall soccer practice started tonight, and he’ll be turning in athletic forms at the school, too. He’s also taking his first robotics course — the subject he plans to major in, eventually. With the demands that his academics and extracurricular activities will place on him, I should have plenty of time for creative writing and/ or studying for my LSATs. Just a few more days.

for mom

I was going to write a post riffing on moms talent for sewing, and the many (many) dresses, costumes, and outfits she sewed for me over the years. In fact, I started that post. I have pictures to scan and upload. I may finish it and post it on her deathday.

But today I feel drained of energy and weepy. I haven’t been sleeping well lately. I don’t know if it’s the time of year or the memories of what. After mom died, I had nightmares a la Fruma Sarah of Fiddler on the Roof, and around her birthday all these echoes of the past come haunting me.

I miss my mom, flaws and all. I was very lucky to have had her as a mother. I wish she could have seen the young man Kidling has grown into. I wish she could have watched me graduate. I know my mom would have been disappointed that I left the LDS church, but I also know she would have been proud of my achievements. I also believe that if mom had not died, my family of origin would not have splintered apart. I think mom was the glue that held us together and soothed our hurt feelings.

It’s around this time of year that I wish I believed in an afterlife. Because I would give anything just to see her once again, or at least believe I would see her once again.

Love and loss

Heartache is on my mind today. Someone I care about is going through a divorce, someone else I love may be moving away, and the memory of my mom is especially present today.

I feel lost, drifting, unable to offer advice or meaningful assistance. All I have to offer is moral support. I googled How to support a friend through divorce, and found numerous lists of do’s and don’ts. I probably should have googled that back when my brother got divorced, it might have helped me preserve our relationship. Too late now.

Speaking of family, I miss my sil lately. Not the most recent version, all stressed and angry and lashing out, but the older (younger?) version. The woman with cornsilk hair and a quiet observational calm and a sly, smirkingly subtle sense of humor. I miss her clever wit, her unpredictable generosity, and even her prickly standoffishnish. I miss her children and her husband.

Maybe it’s because of all the outdoor family time we’ve been having, and it reminds me of the outdoor activities we used to do with Missy and Sparky. Maybe it’s watching our puppy play, and remembering when Moose was that age. Maybe it’s watching Sirius grow old, and acting more and more reminiscent of Ginger. Maybe the distance has softened my memories of our disagreements. Maybe I’m just in a nostalgic mood.  It doesn’t really matter, I guess. It doesn’t change how they feel.

1997

are you ever afraid of love?
I am.
I’m afraid of falling so hard
I’ll hurt myself.
I’m afraid that I won’t love them enough —
or that I’ll love him too much.
I’m afraid they’ll leave me
to go somewhere else.
and I’m afraid that
it might just be physical —
that I will delude myself
emotionally.
I am afraid of hurting who I love.
Sometimes I’m afraid of hurting
who I hate.
I am afraid of being used
or of using someone.
I’m afraid of never discovering real love
or that I will discover it
and lose it.

this is the headline

John arrived home on Friday, safe and exhausted from his week-long motorcycle trip in the cascades. John apparently met some great people and saw some beautiful sights, but was also really frustrated by the ride organizer (a guy who owns a motorcycle shop). Apparently, he is an incompetent idiot who:

  • Didn’t stick to the itinerary he wrote.
  • Didn’t make sure all riders were present and accounted for when starting/ ending daily rides.
  • Provided poor directions/ GPS tracking.
  • Did not assign lead riders familiar with the route to the subgroups.

A lot of the riders were camping, because, you know, dual-sport adventure tour in the Cascade mountains. The ride leader stayed in hotels and didn’t bother to scout out affordable or accessible campgrounds. To add insult to injury, he dined with other riders who stayed in town and made on-the-fly changes to the itinerary at those dinners, which the campers were often not notified of until after he left the next day. Oh, yes, and he started the morning ride before everyone had checked in, leaving his wife behind to update the abandoned riders on the updated itinerary.

In addition to these issues, there were unnecessary expenses: The ride was billed as an “international, interstate tour of the cascades.” In actuality, they met up in Canada, camped overnight (just barely over the border) and then popped back into Washington the next morning. The next 5 days were spent in Washington, with a 15 minute (tolled) crossing of the Hudson river into Oregon at the very end of the ride. So … in other words, two unnecessary tolls, and one unnecessary EDL, just so the ride organizer could say, “Ohhh, we went on an international interstate tour of the cascades.”

John was also irritated because the ride organizer arranged for them to eat at fine, 5-star dining establishments along the route for their noon meal, despite the fact that they were completely out-of-place in such establishments. These were men who had been riding off-road through desert heat — they were sweaty, tired, filthy, probably smelly, and shedding dirt from their riding gear as they walked.

In other words, they were not dressed appropriately for a fine dining establishment, and had a difficult time enjoying the experience when they stuck out like a sore thumb. Plus, they wanted large, filling, and inexpensive meals — not exactly a defining feature of 5 star restaurants. Apparently these restaurants were chosen because the ride organizer featured them in one of his guidebooks.

At least he got two stickers and a bracelet. For $150 a pop, apparently the ride organizer couldn’t be bothered with commemorative shirts, or (for that matter) basic manners. Summed up, John’s account of the adventure is that he enjoyed it despite the ride organizer, and the behavior of the ride organizer lost him several previously loyal customers.

During the time John was gone, meanwhile, Kidling and I managed to amuse and distract ourselves. I kept the t.v. off for pretty much the entire week — it was on about 1 hour a day, if that. It was so quiet and lovely. We went on motorcycle rides, out to parks, and out to eat. We saw the film How to Train Your Dragon II. I briefly flirted with the idea of riding out to Yelm to see if Kidling’s uncle and cousins were available for a visit, but decided it wasn’t my place to initiate contact.

We also cleaned the entire house, from top to bottom, tidied up the yard and garage, and then I sort of completely reorganized our bedroom. Quite a bit. It’s somewhat unrecognizable, just a tad. I, uh, started cleaning and got irritated at the piles (I’m a bit of packrat, like my dad), and I sort of … went mad. I turned my closet into a tiny little writing nook/ mini office, then completely organized John’s closet (which now not only serves two, but also holds all our holiday item storage). Oh, and I buzzed my hair off. I also finally arranged to get my laptop fixed, so I’ll be laptop-less for about a week or so.