Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Why the Gym is a Mom's Best Friend

Now hear me out.  I know many of you are going to roll your eyes and think I've lost it.  But I haven't.  I have discovered the secret to being a happy stay at home mom.  Twice a week I take Riley to a playgroup at the library and once a week we go to a parent-toddler co-op preschool.  Those groups are great.  I have met all my local mom friends there and are always a great source for playdates.  However, the other two days I'm usually at a loss.  That is why the gym is a lifesaver.  It's guarenteed childcare, me time and a shower all in one.  I drop him off at the nursery and he loves it.  It took a couple weeks for him to get fully acclimated but now he runs in and says "Bye Mommy" before I can get him signed in.  There are new and exciting toys and he gets to be social.  The I get to go work out.  Depending upon how I'm feeling I may have a great workout or just take a stroll on the treadmill.  Then, here's the best part, I get to go take a shower and get ready.  By myself.  It is so luxurious!  And, if it's a really good day, I dry my hair and put make-up on.  I don't care how broke we are when David is in school, I will sell off my car if it means I can keep the gym membership.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Some things are better off forgotten We bury them in places that we really only visit by ourselves...--Stone Sour

One of my Facebook friends posted this as her status earlier today and it really struck a chord with me.  It is the opening line of the song, Imperfect by Stone Sour. Everybody has skeletons in their closet, that's no secret.  It's the part about only visiting by ourselves that I found compelling.  This past week, for some reason, has brought forth a flood of old memories and experience, some wonderful and some that I have had to process.

My sister is still in Salem.  She is in the hospital and is committed for 180 day.  This is a relief.  She will be there for my son's birthday, so I will be able to enjoy the day, knowing that she is safe and supervised.  She will also be there while my parents take their trek through Nepal, so they will be able to enjoy that experience.  David and I met in the midst of my sister's first hospitalization and he has never known her not to be ill.  His family has never known her or me either, without the chaos that accompanies a family who has a member that is mentally ill.  Tonight as we were out walking the dog, we heard the marching band practicing.  When my sister was a freshman and sophomore she was very active in band and my parents followed her around chaperoning her and her band buddies.  Every night our home would be filled with the saxophone part of the band songs as she diligently practiced.  She loved that sax and the band.  In some ways, I wish I could forget the memories of who she was before she was overcome with this ugly illness.  I miss the energetic, giggly blond girl who would bounce from band to sports to dance with such energy and zest all while maintaining impeccable grades and working toward her life long dream of being a pediatrician.  Those memories are buried and and at times all I feel I have left.  I visit those memories as I watch the band practice and when I hear a saxophone.  While David observed and relived his band days, laughing at the two guys hamming it up with their clarinets, I visited the memory of my sister.

I am back in the town I grew up in and swore I would never return to.  When I left in January 2003, I left a lot of wounds open and a lot of feelings and memories un-dealt with.  In late 2004, when I was attending Eastern Washington University, I went to a hockey game with some of my new college friends.  A friend of my friend poked me half way through the game and asked me if I knew the girls a few rows back from us.  Sure enough, it was two girls who were part of the popular crowd at my high school.  Nicole and Sarah.  I had maybe interacted with both of them a grand total of three or four times in my life.  She wanted to know if I knew them because they kept pointing at me and talking about me.  I immediately left and waited in the lobby for the remainder of the game.  When we got home I locked myself in my room and cried.  I hated thinking about those days of high school and elementary and middle school.  Back then, the memories were too painful to visit.  Now, I see people from growing up around town, and sometimes, it throws me.  Sometimes, I find myself feeling insecure and upset.  I want to go home and drown myself in food to try to stuff down the emotions and memories. But other times, I surprise myself when the reaction is positive.  A happy memory or a kind interaction.  Two Sunday mornings ago, I was at Safeway wearing an old sweatshirt, yoga pants, flip-flops and no make-up with my hair back in a ratty ponytail.  I was quite the sight to behold, but I was grocery shopping alone (!).  I saw one of the girls from the hockey game by the deli counter.  I threw the bagels in to my basket and put my head down.  Immediately I started thinking of a comeback or a look I could give for what I was sure was about to come my way.  I had been dreading this since we moved here and now it was happening.  I bit my lip and started to push my cart.  But instead, as we passed, we gave each other half smiles and kept walking.  Maybe it's parenting, or maybe it's just growing up, but up until that moment, as odd as it sounds, it had never occurred to me that maybe other people were softening.  Trying to become kinder and wiser, or simply had been in the trenches of parenting and understood that it can be a victory in itself just to get out of the house some days and could be empathetic.  So maybe it's time for me to do my best to let some things be forgotten.

And...not to drone on, but I think one of the greatest parts of being a parent is getting to share your memories and favorite experiences from your childhood with your children.  I love singing songs with R in the bathtub and Dave loves cooking him a huge breakfast on Saturday morning.  Dave and I laugh sometimes when we each have "ah-ha" moments when we realize that memories and traditions we have were not the norm in other families.  This past weekend we took Ri to the Chelan County Fair.  Growing up, the fair was a a huge deal.  We would go with our classes during the week and then as a family on the weekend.  It was one of the few times a year when all bets were off.  My dad would ride the rides with us and hand over dollar bill after dollar bill as we tried to win goldfish and other prizes.  We would always get treats.  My sister and I would indulge on cotton candy, curly fries, corn dogs, caramel apples, apple pie, chocolate dipped ice cream bars and frozen lemonade.  We would run around the livestock barns, looking at the animals and begging my parents to let us get a rabbit or a pygmy goat as a pet so we could show it in the fair the following year.  (They never indulged us with that one.)  This year, Riley rode in his stroller as we walked him through the livestock barns.  He felt a little intimidated by the animals and their enormous size in proportion to him, but loved walking through the carnival.  We ate corn on the cob on a stick and he ran around chasing after a balloon from a vendor.  After three and a half hours, he cried and had his public melt-down when we told him it was time to go.  I'm not sure if he'll remember the day, but I hope I can help create some memories that he will visit fondly.

Friday, September 3, 2010

All things considered...

My sister is in Salem, Oregon.  She won't tell us where she is staying or who she is with.  She calls twice a day from a pay phone or from someone's borrowed cell phone to let us know she is safe and fine.  We've given her numbers of family and friends in the area and notified them of what is going on.  She is still in the missing person database.  We haven't bothered notifying law enforcement because all they will do is bring her to a hospital and then release her onto the street within 24 to 72 hours because she hasn't broken the law and she is not in a crisis situation.  She knows any one of us is ready to go pick her up at moments notice.  In a few days her medicine will have worn off to the point that she will be in a crisis state and will be commitable.  Until then, we wait for her phone calls and pray she is safe.  And that is all we can do.  In a way it is easier to know she is alive and phoning us twice a day and letting us know where she is.  It's also harder.  What if the call doesn't come?  What if she gives us disturbing news?  My sister and her illness consume me.  Dave and his dedication to law school are consuming me.  My desire to be a good mother is consuming me.  I feel pulled in so many directions.   Today my mom and I went grocery shopping.  On our way home we saw a garage sale at a house on the next block.  I have been looking all summer at garage sales for a highchair and have not been able to find one.  But today, there it was.  A beautiful Peg-Perego Primma Pappa highchair for $30.  My jaw dropped.  Here was a $300 highchair sitting in someone's driveway for one-tenth of what it would cost in the store.  I immediately paid full price and loaded it into my car.  For those of you without children, that is the equivalent of finding a new Coach bag at a yard sale for $30.  When we got home, my mom's friend brought us a homemade, hot apple pie because she wanted to feel helpful.  Riley went down for a nap and I cleaned my highchair, ate some pie and watched some trashy television.  It's comforting to know that among all the chaos and tragedy, I can still have an enjoyable afternoon.


I know it's been a few days since I've recaped by day.  The best word to describe the past few days is simply CRAZY.  Crazy is a broad term.  It's used to describe everything from complete chaos, to mental illness, to being busy, being hot, busy, or tired or simply a little eccentric.  To say my life has been crazy is an understatement.  My sister, who has schizophrenia, was found it Portland, Oregon two nights go after being missing since Monday morning.  A lot of people write her off as crazy, but she's actually just incredibly ill.  She does not respond to medication and she constantly runs away, putting herself in vulnerable and dangerous situations and leaving her family scared to death.  It's really sad and disgusting how little resources there are for people who are mentally ill simply because society would rather write them off as crazy.  Because there are so few resources and so few people recognize mental illness as an actually medical condition, she was released back on to the streets of Portland with $3 in her pocket and no resources.  She does not have her cell phone with her either.  Of course we're all scared to death, pacing around, trying to go on with life as usual and trying not to go crazy. Yes, we exhausted every resource and tried every possible option to get someone there to meet her or to get one of us there in time, but, according to the hospitial, law and public policy, she has a right to be mentally ill and they have no right to or grounds to keep her detained and safe.  So now we wait and hope and pray.  Wait for a phone call, hope she's okay, and pray for her safety.  Crazy.  My husband, Dave, has started a part time job at a mens store downtown to try to bring in a little extra money.  He works three days a week, leaving him less time to study and prep.  I'm happy he has a job.  However, starting a new job and wanting to impress people makes people a little more crazy than usual.  My dad left for a fishing trip (he's an avid fly fisher) on Sunday morning.  He has been out of range for cell service since Sunday around 10 in the morning.  He doesn't know what is going on with my sister.  As far as he knows, she still at the group home playing Nintendo.  He will not be available until Saturday morning.  Who knows what will have happened by then.  Crazy.  If you read this, please pray.