Periods of Stress

I’m always amazed how periods of great stress can help me see things with such clarity. It isn’t the life altering events such as a death or a divorce that I am talking about, but the everyday grind to seem to crescendo like a great piece of music. The times in our lives when everyone, everything needs to be done. Right. Now.

2010 so far has been one of those periods. (I’m happy it hasn’t included those life altering ones since I’ve been there, done both and lived through them.) Lots of work, lots of baby growing and lots of juggling. I’m not a Master Juggler— one ball always seems to not get the lift it needs.

That ball is usually an important one. And lately, it’s either me, or M., or both. That’s unfortunate because if I can’t give attention to myself and my husband then I’m really not being a good mom and role model to Baby A. So, it’s during these times that I always seem to realize how off my life-work balance is and how it always seems to be off. I seem to be an all-or-nothing type of girl, even though I never used to be. At least, I don’t think I was.

Despite my frazzled disposition, I’m grateful for these times because they make me step back, take a breath, and make long-term changes that hopefully will ease the stress during the next busy period.

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Periods of Stress

In Anticipation…

M. is traveling this week and I have a confession to make. I can’t wait—not in the I-can’t-stand-to-be-around-him way because I will miss him terribly, but in the this-only-child-really-needs-some-time-to-herself way.

One of the things that I’ve had the most difficulty with since becoming a mom is striking the balance between the needs and wants of my family and the needs and wants of me. (What woman hasn’t?) As Baby A gets older, he seems to need more from me (a mommy who makes the pain go away, a playmate, a teacher) and M, like everyone, needs love and attention. Two things  I haven’t been good about providing lately.

It’s because I don’t juggle well. I don’t juggle working, parenting, being a wife and being me well. I have a hard time asking for time alone because I feel guilty asking someone, anyone, to watch A. This includes M. Even though he is the one telling me that I need to speak up, I still feel bad since he works hard all day, all week. Why should I ask him to take his down time to watch A? He’s exhausting.  But because I don’t, I won’t, do this; everyone ends up suffering.  I know this and I still have a difficult time. So instead, I stress out and allow anxiety to get the best of me until I can re-boot.

There are only a few times that I am able to do that— when there are no major  deadlines looming and I can concentrate on being a wife and mom (this doesn’t happen often anymore) and when M. goes away. This may seem strange since all the care-taking then falls on me, but here’s why M.’s traveling schedule gives me a break. Currently, I feel as someone always needs something from me every time I turn around. This may not be the case, but this is how I feel. The times that M. is gone that is one less being who needs me and my choices become less in the do-I-do-this-or-do-that game that I tend to live my life by.

I’ll miss seeing him in the morning and at night. I’ll miss spending the weekend with him. I’ll miss the way he seems to make everything more fun. But for the days that he is away, I hope to choose  me.

In Anticipation…

O, the Winter Memories

I love the winter Olympics. When the games are on, you can bet that I am watching. It’s been this way since I was a girl in the 80s.

Way back then, I just happened to live around the corner from the grandparents of a boy who was the object of my adolescent crush.  Actually, I really liked his family too. All of the kids had names that started with A. His mother was elegant and nice. His father was very warm. As a family unit, they were perfect (at least from my perspective). Anyway…during the winter Olympics of that year (which exactly I am not sure), I would go to the grandparents house each night and watch the games with my crush and his extended family. We cheered. We ate. We debated performances (since you can do that with figure skating).

It is a memory that I cherish. And was able to relive a bit of it when I watched the opening ceremony with my family in Chicago. Now, I watch the Olympics alone. M. isn’t into them and A. is too young to get involved. But I look forward to when he is older and hope that we enjoy the games as a family, just like the Crush’s.

O, the Winter Memories

Random Thought: The Big D, Part 2

When I was in college, I dated a guy that had come up with a philosophy about marriage. It was that in life all of us will have two spouses: the first gets us to where we want to be in life and the second helps us enjoy it. In essence, he believed that we would all be divorced at least once. He also believed that waiting until you were 30 to get married negated this theory and that was his intention. As a co-ed I was miffed that these suggestions. As an adult, I believe them to be true. Here’s why.

Besides my own experience, I have numerous friends who married in their 20s only to grow up and away from their spouse. Upon divorcing, they met people who completed the person they had become. And in most cases, they are truly happy now. Their first spouse allowed them to reach the heights and the goals they wanted to, usually professionally, but somewhere in the journey they lost track of them being a couple. And here is my Carrie Bradshaw moment: In our 20s, do we choose a spouse that can help us get what we want? I like to think not. Especially since I also know couples who married in their early 20s who are still together.

But the couples that I know who were smart and waited to marry until after they were 30, after they knew who they were, or after they had achieved some sort of financial individuality, those are the ones who appear to appreciate each other and their lives together. This included that ex-boyfriend.

Through my eyes, either way you could end up with the happily ever after and isn’t that what we all want?

Random Thought: The Big D, Part 2

The Big D

Maybe it was when my dental hygienist commented on how people at her 10-year high school reunion were (in a whispered tone) divorced. Or, maybe it was when my mother was digging for information about whether one of my old classmates was divorced (My response: I didn’t ask, I don’t care, Does it matter?) Or, maybe it is because my Yahoo news page had this headline, “Movement Underway in California to Ban Divorce,” that I feel compelled to be thankful that there is a way to dissolve a marriage that isn’t working. [Note: I’d like to preface this post with the statement that I am very happy in my marriage so this post isn’t a reflection on my current state of affairs, but more my past and how divorce allowed me to be in my happy place now.]

My parents divorced when I wasn’t even 10 years old.  I can remember them screaming at each other; I don’t know what about, but I do know that under separate roofs they were able to be friendly—even if it was just for my sake. When my father was in the hospital before he died, my mom was there visiting him often. He often told me that she was his best friend. Most of my junior high school classmates had divorced parents and their parents’ relationship post-divorce was not as warm and fuzzy as mine. I can’t imagine what life was like when their moms and dads were married.

My own story: I married young and somewhat impulsively for me. My ex is a great guy but the longer we stayed together the more we grew apart. Eventually, my discontent started to affect my health. (You can read all the sordid details of my first marriage’s demise here.) Deciding to get divorce was the hardest decision I ever made. Even when I knew that I couldn’t go on I had a hard time filing the papers. I don’t think anyone takes the decision to end a marriage lightly.

In the above news item, the gentleman spear heading this movement says that the ban is to protect the institution of marriage. Well, as I see it, such a ban will make the institution a prison for some. In my case, I would have probably ended up having a stroke with the amount of migraines I was experiencing. For others, living with an infidel or an abuser will be a painful reality.

No one enters into marriage thinking that they are going to get a divorce, but sometimes it is nice to have an escape clause. I’m glad I did.

The Big D

What I Love About M.

As I mentioned yesterday, I’m celebrating a wedding anniversary. Even though we’ve been married for only two years, that’s only a minute of the time that we have known each other. Like countless other relationships, we started out as friends so I have had time to amass a list of the things that I love about M. [Note: These are in no particular order.]

His mind is always working. Call him “The Energizer Bunny.” He’s a thinker and a doer. This can be a good thing and a bad thing depending on how you look at it. I tend to enjoy the part where his creative juices start to flow about anything: getting rid of 50 things, how to structure an article, saving for Baby A’s education, etc. I’m glad to know that he thinks about these things as much as I do. And he doesn’t sit around hoping that they will happen.

He’s kind to animals, including insects. There are two stories that illustrate this best. The first is when we lived in suburban Los Angeles, he and I would walk a 3-mile loop. Along the way he would stop, pick up worms that had found their way onto the highly-trafficked sidewalk and place them into the dirt or grass. The second is a time when Moo kitty was sick for about a week. Each night he would lay next to Moo on our cold hard tile floor in our tiny bathroom  and pet him for hours. Many times M. would fall asleep next to the big white and black kitty. Both of these times my heart melted.

He can be silly. Usually, this side of M. comes out when he’s playing with Baby A but there have been times when he’s done something that makes me laugh, shake up head and think, I love him. Of course, I do. Silliness is a sign of a sense of humor and M’s is multidimensional. Besides being able to be goofy enough for a toddler to laugh, he has a sharp wit that is brilliant and easy.

He’s talented. Both of us are writers and editors. For me, I work hard at it. Before I write I need to warm-up and do mental calisthenics (it’s why I blog). For him, he can sit down and create sentences that flow and have rhythm. No multiple drafts. No testing the waters. Just good prose. I love artists and M. can paint pictures with words.

He puts family first. Whether it is his sister across the country or my cousin up the block, if you’re related to M. (no matter how distantly) he’ll do anything for you. In a way it is chivalry at its best.

The Intangibles. Then, there are the characteristics of M. that just make me look at him and know that I was meant to spend my life with him: the times my heart melts when he’s with his son or just doing the dishes; or the times my heart feels like it’s breaking when he leaves to go on a trip or sometimes just to go to the office. I have never doubted our role in each other’s life because it is simple—he’s supposed to be here. And as corny as it sounds, I’m sure I didn’t know what true love was until I met him.

What I Love About M.

We’re Two

This week marks M and my two-year anniversary. We’ve decided to keep it low-key because the marriage has been eventful—in a good way (kind of).

Our union was bound in Las Vegas with 30 of our closest friends and family. It was a party weekend and things haven’t slowed down since. I got pregnant right away and nine months later Baby A was born. Sold our condo just as the bottom was dropping out of the real estate market. We moved to Phoenix and back. Dealt with professional obstacles along the way. And the whole time, we’ve been on the same page. (See “Here’s a Crazy Idea”). We’re lucky.

Marriage is difficult—no news flash there. Each day I feel blessed to have a partner in my life that just gets me. (Sometimes we find each other thinking the same thing at the same time.) But also, have a partner who tastes are different enough from mine to keep things interesting. Our marriage complements our lives. We’re two and I’m looking forward to growing up and old together.

We’re Two