The Art of Repression

So the plan to distract myself from the upcoming (perfectly routine) surgery — still 10 days away! — is not working.

It consumes me. I think about it all the time. I am worried more about Kate than about M, and then I worry that if I don’t worry more about M something bad will happen, because of course worry and anxiety are prophylactic in nature, right? (No. No, not at all.) I am picking up little gifts for Kate: a duct tape art kit, a Bink & Gollie book. I bought M a water table for the summer. Because (perfectly routine) surgery.

The school is conspiring against me. Not in that they are going to give me a hard time for Kate being absent. As a matter of fact, Kate’s teacher is already making plans to help Kate plan her work around her absence. But there’s a fundraiser for which the stuff needs to be picked up and delivered that day; and Flora has a singing concert that night — and I keep looking at the date, and thinking, “Oh. I can’t do that.”

Now fortunately, I have lots and lots of support, and I suppose it’s as good a time as any to thank a bunch of people in advance. Of course, Dan is going to be at the hospital with us the day of the surgery, and stay overnight at least one night with us there. He promised Kate. My in-laws, as always. My parents are coming to stay with us, and make sure Flora’s routine stays as normal as possible. They are going to be the ones that make sure the fundraising orders get picked up and delivered, and the ones who will see Flora sing.

Aside: Flora kinda, sorta wanted to join a singing group at her school. I signed her up, and then she kinda sorta didn’t want to do it. I encouraged her, though. I thought it would be something she would enjoy and be good at. And now I have a 9-year-old who sings to herself all the time. I don’t even think she realizes it. She sings songs from Frozen, from Sound of Music, and a couple of religious pop songs. And love hearing her. And I’m a little heartbroken that after having been so encouraging about it, I am going to miss her concert.

Yesterday, I was talking to my parents about all the Stuff They Had To Do if they Didn’t Mind Too Much the day of Kate’s and Michael’s surgeries. I think I managed to keep the panic from my voice, and they were very kind and told me not to worry about this Other Stuff, they were on it, they’d take care of it, and I got of the phone and cried in my car for awhile.

So, trying to keep anxiety at bay is not really going so well.

I have bad tendencies. I have the tendency to be anxious. And although I fight it, I have the urge to want to be in control. If having children has taught me anything, it’s that there is no room for trying to control every — or even most — outcomes.

The prospect of this surgery is the perfect storm for my two worst tendencies to come together and drive me to distraction. It is completely out of my control, and even though I know and accept that, it’s still difficult. So I make long shopping lists (Gatorade, Italian ices, applesauce, pureed fruit pouches); I obsessively avoid thinking about the mechanics of the surgery; I haven’t yet prepared myself for what comes before; and I’ve no real idea what “after” will be like. Bad, I think. Not good. I buy little presents to appease the suffering children.

It’s exhausting.

These two!
These two!

Quandary: The Follow-Up

To review: Kate was acting sick in the morning. I suspected it had something to do with Classmate. I didn’t know what to do. (And THANK YOU to everyone who weighed in on that post.)

This is what happened since I wrote that.

1. I emailed Kate’s teacher Mrs. M about the situation. She emailed back saying she had noticed Kate dragging herself into the school, but said once she got into the classroom, all was fine. She proposed we meet to talk about Kate.

2. I ran into Mrs. M at Flora’s violin concert. I will tell you right upfront: I did not want to drag Classmate’s name into it directly. Maybe see if she was having issues in general with her classmates or something like that. I had no intention of even mentioning Classmate if I didn’t have to.

3. Mrs. M mentioned Classmate right off the bat, and said she noticed the two girls were having conflict. So that was out in the open.

4. Mrs. M and I did finally get together this week to talk about this issue, and to talk about what we need to do moving forward.

Here’s the upshot:

(I’m paraphrasing Mrs. M here) Kate is a bright and social child. She gets along with everyone and is very well liked in her class. She gravitates toward Classmate because Classmate is also bright and well liked. However, Classmate is also melodramatic and knows the fine art of manipulation. She is mature beyond her years — she’s kind of had to grow up fast.

(To review, again, Classmate is the child of divorced parents who do NOT get along. Her father has remarried and has another child with Classmate’s stepmother. The women do not hide their antipathy toward each other, and the mother… when she talks about her ex-husband, I cringe. I wonder if she talks about him like that in front of Classmate, and I wonder how her current husband takes it. This sounds all gossipy, and I don’t mean to be gossipy, but this is all directly affecting my daughter, and this is my blog, so there ya go.)

(Paraphrasing, again) Mrs. M said she keeps a close eye on all the children in her classroom, and will be sure to watch interactions between Kate and Classmate. She says that when Classmate seems to be getting dramatic (in general), she tries to step in and stop it. She also has been working hard to keep the girls occupied in activities not with each other. If there’s group work, for example, she doesn’t put them in the same group. As a matter of fact, she told me about a time where she distinctly put Classmate and Kate in two different groups on purpose, and somehow they managed to team up anyway. So she’s going to watch out for that.

Here’s my take: Yes, Kate is bright, and Kate is social. Kate is also a little sister, and as such, I think she tends to take a follower role rather than a leader role. She’s not very alpha, in other words. Which is not to paint my Kate as a doormat or wallflower — oh, no. She is incredibly energetic and outgoing. I think I mentioned that recently. She likes to be with people, and she likes to be with people who attract other people. There’s also the dynamic between Flora and Kate that Kate is probably used to. You know, the bickering dynamic. While Flora and Kate *can* play very nicely together, they don’t *choose* to play nicely together all the time. Probably not even half the time, frankly. There is also the fact that Kate lives in a safe, stable, and loving home environment with little serious conflict. As such, she doesn’t have (or need yet) street smarts the way Classmate does.

While Mrs. M keeps an eye on things in the classroom, I will keep an eye on things at home. I plan to check in with Kate often. We have ground rules for going to school, even when Kate feels sick (in short, if she’s not running a temperature, she’s going).

For the record, I believe that Kate *is* sick, so to speak. I’m sure some mornings her stomach is churning and her head hurts. She’s having anxiety about going to school sometimes. It’s actually pretty normal, probably, to be anxious about going to school. She’s got to learn to deal with it, with support from me and her dad. And she has to know we’re on her side. I talked to her about my talk with Mrs. M. I talked to her about talking to Mrs. M and me if she has a problem with Classmate (or any classmate for that matter). At home, I try to treat the girls fairly, and I try to give each of the kids a little bit of individual attention. Even if it’s just five minutes a night, focused attention seems to help them.

I hope I handled everything okay, and I hope I continue to. What do you think, readers? Did I do all right? Anything else I should have my finger on going forward, so to speak?

Random Thoughts: The Wedding Anxiety Edition

I’m kind of freaking out. And I’m not even the bride.

Next Wednesday — a week from today — we are planning on starting our eastward journey to Topsail Island, NC, for my little sister’s wedding.

I don’t feel ready.

I don’t feel ready, and I don’t know when crossing things off of my to-do list is going to make me feel ready.

I ordered Flora’s headpiece and basket, and had it shipped to Dr. Sis.
I reserved the rental car — a minivan, in point of fact — and Dan is set to pick it up next week. Canceled rental; we’re borrowing the IL’s Cadillac.

I still need to:
Write a toast.
Buy a tie that matches my dress for my groomsman.
Buy Flora shoes, and ship back the shoes I bought her that don’t fit.
Buy wraps/light jackets for the girls in case it’s chilly on the beach.
Buy foundation garments for me.
Write notes to Flora’s and Kate’s schools to excuse their absences.
Have my hair done.
(It was scheduled to be done last Sunday, but my stylist was ill.)
Have the girls’ hair cut.
Uh, pack for at least four people. (Theoretically, Dan will pack himself.) Figure out *what* I need to pack for Michael.
Email a shopping list for groceries to my parents.

I have a couple other anxieties about this whole thing.

For one, my eyes and contact lenses have not been compatible. Allergies seem to be making it blatantly impossible to wear my new soft contacts. Regardless of my eyedrops.

For two, my tooth. My new tooth.

It’s the wrong color.

And there’s nothing I can do about it.

The disappointment I feel about this is… keen. I mean, yes, it’s a first world problem and all, but after taking the leap to finally change the one single thing that made me horribly self-conscious, and being initially very, very excited about it, it’s very difficult to deal with the fact that all the money, discomfort, and, yes, even pain, DIDN’T pan out ultimately.

The tooth is a good looking tooth, but it’s darker toward the top. So, still wrong. It’s not AS BAD as it was, but it’s still not good.

I’m trying not to dwell. Nothing’s going to change, not before next Wednesday in any case. (No, whitening won’t work.)

Plus, you know, there’s that whole full-time work thing I got going on, and a few projects I’d like to get off my desk before we hit the open road.

Oh, AND, I need to buy leotards for the girls by SATURDAY because they started gymnastics this past Saturday — and they LOVE it — but I don’t feel like shelling out $30, each, at the class. Updated: My MIL found and bought leotards at KMart, $14.99! God bless that woman!

I need a personal assistant. And a tall margarita.

Week 27: Natural Woman

I daydream about giving birth naturally. About having contractions not brought on by pitocin; about my water breaking in my kitchen.

I know I’m getting some funny looks right now, virtually speaking.

I don’t really have a lot to complain about my induced labors with Flora and Kate. Well, maybe with Kate. Three-plus days is a long time to be in the hospital waiting for things to get moving.

I got healthy babies out of it, and I was relatively unscathed. (We won’t talk about 3+ hours of pushing or sleep deprivation because of ridiculously loud doors.) With Flora, I did not have an epidural, and I always say it’s a good thing because if I had gotten one, I would have ended up with a c-section. With Kate, I had an epidural, and it was, again, the right decision.

So far this pregnancy, things are progressing very well. (KNOCK ON WOOD.) The baby is growing well, so far there are no issues with low amniotic fluid. My weight gain has been steady. The second trimester has been good to me — feeling the baby move has alleviated the extreme anxiety that plagued my first trimester. Right now, my back hurts a lot, and I have to make chiropractic and massage appointments (as time and finances allow).

And it’s not that I am not without anxiety.

Some days I hope that in my 32nd or 34th week, they do discover low fluid. Not radically low — just like Flora had low fluid. (Kate, again, was such a special case when it came to things to worry us in utereo.) I could make arrangements about modified bed rest; we could monitor the low fluid; and come 37 or 38 weeks, we could just plan an inducement.

It’s what I know.

Other days, I think about being pregnant to 39 or 40 weeks. I think about going about my day wondering if I’m in labor or not. I think about waking up to contractions or — even more surprising — waking up to my water having broke (which probably would not bode well for our mattress). I wonder what it’s like to have to rush to the hospital to have the baby in the middle of the night.

Because, that, I don’t know.

We haven’t made any final decisions about inducement, and we don’t have to right now. As Dan says, “We’ll watch this baby like a hawk, and everything will be fine.” I think, regardless of natural labor or not, I would prefer to give birth at a hospital.

The big issue will be: once we get to 38 weeks, what will help any anxiety I might have? If the baby is fine and the fluid levels are normal and the placenta is healthy (yes, they can tell that on sonograms!), then my (hypothetical) anxiety is not enough reason to seek induction. I have to let nature take its course. I WANT to let nature take its course — it’s what I have wanted since I conceived Gabriel.

Nature has let me down. So I’m also a little concerned about letting nature take its course.

I don’t have to overcome that yet. But I will have to down the road. What are some strategies I can use?

The Straw

I had a generally craptastic weekend (with one or two high points). Last night, I finally threw in the towel at 11 p.m., even though it looked as if the Steelers were going to throw away a comfortable lead in the fourth quarter AGAIN.

I woke up at 3:15 this morning.

The children woke up at 3:45 a.m., which was just dandy considering I hadn’t managed to fall back to sleep in any case.

I tried to get to sleep in between the two of them, in the guest bed — because we hadn’t put clean sheets on our bed yet — and that didn’t go well either. Kate dropped back off, although she cried out for me a couple of times; and Flora was Squirmy McSquirmerson, and she kept sticking her elbows and knees into various parts of my anatomy. Between my racing thoughts — oh and what quicksilver, anxiety-producing thoughts they were — the mouth-breathing Kate, and the restless Flora (who apparently has Ginsu knives concealed at her knees and elbows), sleep proved impossible.

At 4:30, I went downstairs.

At 5 a.m., Kate woke again, sobbing for me. I ran upstairs. Dan took Flora to sleep with him, and I calmed Kate and laid down with her again.

At 5:05 a.m., I fell back to sleep. At 6 a.m., the alarm on my cell phone went off. After hitting snooze a couple of times, I must have turned it off.

Because the next time I woke up, it was 7:37 a.m. Which means I was already late for work, and it was entirely likely that Flora was going to be late for preschool.

And then, I walked into Flora’s preschool room at 8:30 a.m. (15 minutes late) and was informed that it was Picture Day (which I knew, I mean, I have a note on my calendars and everything, but I had utterly forgotten), and the money was due. I simply told the teacher (who was very kind) that I was sorry, I did not have the time to fill out the form, and in any case, I didn’t have my checkbook with me (primarily because I am out of checks; they are on order, and I hope they get to me in the next week or so). And it took pretty much all of my self-possession, which is in very short supply as of late, to not scream I’M ALREADY AN HOUR LATE, and break down sobbing.

I gave Flora a big hug before I left, and told her, in so many words, that I was so sorry for being a complete failure as a mother — you should have seen the girls in her class, in dresses with their hair done, and there was my little girl, her hair unbrushed (although clean!) in a pair of pink leggings and a flowered pink long-sleeve t-shirt. And then I pretty much ran to my car, where I proceeded to sob for about 10 minutes or so.

I’d like to close this post out in some positive or witty way. Like: the pumpkin scone and coffee from Starbucks saved Monday from being a complete disaster. Or: but then I dried my tears and resolved to be better at this whole juggling thing. Or, hell: I dried my tears and a voice from heaven said, lay down your weary head and rest my child, and I could call into work saying that God had ordered me to go home and go back to bed.

But instead I’m feeling just as bleak now as I was at 8:30 this morning. And, frankly, I don’t see it getting too much better. As a matter of fact, it may just get worse. And I’m not really sure what I’m going to do about that.

I Am Pathetic

Over the past two months, I have had increasing problems with tension headaches, sleeplessness, and neck mobility. (I hesitate to call any sleeplessness “insomnia” largely because when I go to bed, I do fall asleep; and if I wake up due to one of my children *cough*Bun*cough*, it’s more a matter of being kicked in the kidneys keeping me up, although I do have the occasional racing thoughts at 4 a.m.)

I took the opportunity over the weekend to see if my sister, whom I will now be referring to as Dr. Sis, could help me out with the neck thing. Using a combination of massage therapy and chiropractic, she worked on my neck for upwards of an hour Saturday and Sunday. I’m a tough patient, it turns out.

She adjusted my hips and back as well, which she thinks will help with my neck, too. But she was pretty honest: I have muscular and skeletal issues that are going to need care. She thinks there is some degeneration going on, as well. She prescribed daily heat and stretching. I should probably find a chiropractor, too, huh? My free adjustments will cease — or become far in between times — when she moves to Wilmington, NC.

She also warned me: “You’re going to be pretty sore.”

Boy, she wasn’t kidding. Between the ride back to Pittsburgh with two over-tired children who would not just pass out already and those adjustments, I was in considerable pain when I finally pulled into my driveway. DearDR was supposed to take over as POD (and I was supposed to go to a blogging event on the South Side), but his high-school friend who is living in Arizona was visiting, so that didn’t happen. Fortunately, my MIL once more rode to the rescue by serving dinner to everyone (Earthmom and her family were on the compound as well), and my SIL and BIL-IL took all the kids for a nature walk, so I took to my bed for about an hour with a heating pad and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (yeah, I know, I’m behind).

The major issue (it seems to me) is that when I have stress/anxiety issues, I tend to “store” them in the muscles of my neck and shoulders. In thinking about this more in depth, I keep coming up against: WTF do I have to be stressed out about, really?

Yes, we had repeated bouts of strep throat this summer — as a matter of fact, summing up my summer at my Aunt M’s 70th birthday party a couple of weeks ago went like this: a month of two rounds with strep, and a week in Cape Cod. Then lots and lots of other travel and activities coming up — a spa weekend for me, trips to Seven Springs a couple of different weekends, sundry summer stuff — into August. Plus the usual stressors: full-time work, paying bills, raising children — my wonderful, adorable, challenging children — maintaining a relationship with my equally overworked husband.

This is normal life, I tell myself. Why am I such a basket case? None of us (and I’m counting my parents and my ILs here) are dealing with life-threatening health issues (knock on wood); my children are not special needs children, or even particularly high needs; my husband and I are employed and have health insurance; we have a roof over our heads. Heck, we get to do things like take road trips to Erie, Seven Springs, and Cape Cod. I have good friends with whom I enjoy spending time; I have good family, ditto. Yeah, we still have debt issues, but they are resolving and not getting worse.

What is wrong with me that I find the relentlessness of my children so very exhausting sometimes? And their screaming — oh my gosh, the screaming has to stop. Even when it is in fun, it makes me crazy. They are so bloody shrill, my girls. The drama, too, simply escalates. I tell Monkey I can’t talk to her right now, and she wails about how no one ever is going to talk to her ever again. When things aren’t going Bun’s way, she stomps off in a pout and says, “I’m not playing with you guys.” Which, adorable, but so not to be encouraged.

At one point in Erie, I was on the back porch of my parents’ house with my mom and Dr. Sis. The girls were in the back yard. I was yelling down to them: “Bun, where are your shoes? Monkey, don’t climb that tree. It’s too little! Stop feeding the dog berries from that bush!” (Monkey’s response to that last one, “I’m just giving him the berries to play with.”)

My mom chuckled. “That’s your life, pretty much, isn’t it?” she asked me.

Yeah, it is my life. A constant barrage of guiding and asking and telling and saying no and re-direction (when I remember). And in response, pouts and yelling and reasoning that isn’t reasonable and (occasionally) “okay, mama”. (On the nail-biting thing with Monkey: “Monkey, stop biting your nails.” “I like them really short.” “Well, I’ll cut them, then. Just tell me when you want me to.” “Well, this is how I cut them.” “Monkey, that’s a bad habit. It doesn’t look nice.” “I like my nails to be really short.” *headpalm*)

Each Monday finds me more tired and feeling the need for more catch up — on laundry, on husband time, on sleep, on cleaning, on me time. At this point, I’m thinking of just throwing it all in until they are in college. Maybe I can start playing catch up then.

Count down to Spa Day (standing in for Girlie Weekend this year): Five days.

Also, this “news” article from makes me want to go kick some ass. Full-time parenting is a grind? Really? [Insert swear words of choice here.] My heart bleeds. With apologies to the full-time dads I know out there. Who get it, and don’t need a news article to point out what moms have been saying for centuries.

Random Thoughts: The Anxious Tourist

Something I neglected to mention yesterday is that I am an anxious traveler. I sound all confident & shit in yesterday’s post, but I am, rather, hyper organized to the point of panic attacks. I should get a prescription for Xanax just for traveling purposes.

And the length of the trip doesn’t matter. Even running to Erie for the weekend can cause palpitations. (It probably contributed to this fun.) It’s definitely one of my least attractive traits. Just ask DearDR.


In case you were wondering, yes, we are going to (attempt to) drive all night. DearDR says he’s up for it, and I believe him. And I trust him.

And, you know, they have these things called hotels if we decide we have to stop. It’ll be cool. What may suck? I don’t sleep so well in cars (also have a strong dislike of driving — driving, not riding — at night). Saturday is going to find DearDR and me very tired with (we hope) two children who have slept all night in the car. Hmm. Challenging.


Since we are staying someplace with a kitchen, I am planning on cooking the majority of our dinners. Aside from mac’n’cheese for the kids (at least once!), I am not sure what I want to throw together. I figure I’ll make a point of getting DearDR plenty of fresh seafood (duh). But I don’t know what to plan for the week. You would think I would have some ideas, but… coming up short.

The manager at the place we are staying mentioned a grocery store with “lots of organic”. Maybe I’ll just wait to see what’s available, and go from there.


It’s Thursday. Both kids still fever-free (knocks very hard on wood). I had a scare yesterday morning when Bun woke up crying at 6 a.m. But her temp was normal. When I asked if she had a bad dream, she said yes. And she fell right back to sleep in bed with me.

Some days, there is nothing sweeter than a few morning minutes next to a sleeping toddler.

I called my insurance company just in case the girls get sick on our “change of scene”. We’re covered in case of emergency, of course. Turns out, even if one of the girls just has a fever, finding a doctor shouldn’t be too difficult. I feel good about that, and I’m glad I called. And their customer service person was awesome. So that’s taken care of.

Edited to add: I wrote this last night. Bun woke up with a fever this morning. CRAP! I hope the doctor fits us in. I’m ready to argue my case. Bloody hell.

I guess it’s better it happened today, rather than Saturday morning. But it’s still a pain!


I haven’t exactly decided what to do with this here ‘blog while I’m away. My original thought was to just post a daily picture of the trip. According to the manager, though, the cottage we are in has spotty wi-fi. She mentioned there were plenty of hot spots around town, though.

I could schedule some things ahead of time, but they would probably have to be re-posts. I don’t have a week’s worth of material stored up.

I may just say, “See ya until next week.” That would blow Blog365 out of the window. C’est la vie.

The last thing I need is more anxiety.

What do you think I should do?

For the Benefit of Mr. P

Sorry, it’s a reference to my Dad, and a Beatles song. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart Club Band album. I grew up listening to it.

First of all, thanks to everyone who came out and supported me those last two posts. That’s one of the reasons I do this blog thing (can I confess: I hate “blog” — can we come up with something better? I know online journal is long, but “blog”… it just doesn’t sound pretty). The community is awesome.

Second: Dad, to address some of your concerns: DearDR and I have talked, we do talk, and as much as I plan and budget and so on it seems there is one week that I still feel short. I am hoping as DearDR gets more patients and gets into the billing cycle habit, that will stop happening. But yesterday was that day, and I had a doozy of a bad dream last night, and I was venting. It’s what I do. That is the other purpose this forum serves for me. I hope you understand that. Acutally based on our conversation, I know you understand that.

I do think financial anxiety is the worst. And in our case, at least lately (and I’m hoping into the future), it’s mis-placed anxiety. We aren’t going hungry; we are not in foreclosure; we’re fine. I just panic. I don’t know what that is.

I think the other sucky thing about financial anxiety is it can really wear at a relationship. When things get tight, it’s so easy (and tempting) to blame someone: why did you freelance all those years; why did you stay home; why did it take you so long to get your license. It’s unfair, and it’s insidious. And I’m pretty sure DearDR and I are above such things. Although I feel guilty about some decisions I have made regarding work and money, DearDR has never blamed me for them, or said they were the wrong decisions. I hope I have been able to be as kind to him.

I went back and fourth yesterday about posting about my anxiety attack. In the end, I decided this online journal I keep is for me. I started out thinking I would “just” be a mommy-blogger, and write about my children. But then I realized I need a place to write about the things that bother me or things that are on my mind. Like anxiety and debt and hormones and smoking. So many fun subjects!

But I feel better when I write about it and post it. It helps me process what I am going through. It keeps me grounded. And hearing from all of you helps too. It helps to know I’m not alone.

My stress levels are approaching normal today. DearDR and I had a good talk about money and about my anxiety. He suggested that when I get anxious, I say a rosary. I think it’s a good idea, and I’m going to try it. It’s not just the act of prayer, but it’s such a soothing meditation. I think the combination will help derail the anxiety train.

Thanks for all the virtual love, internets. And thanks for the phone calls from those who wanted me to hear their voices. Today will be a better day.