Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I am struggling with surrender. There are things in life which I CAN...NOT....CONTROL...., much as I try and struggle and fret.  I am smack dab in the middle of one of those situations right now and it is snacking on a sizable portion of my soul.

There are things happening to and for people I love which I have no control over. I can not flag that train off the tracks, despite laying myself in front of the locomotive. It only runs over me and slices me up. Since there is a loud voice in my mind which yells "Surrender means Quitting - You're a quitter! You're LOSING", I generally patch myself up - leaving some essential and non-essential parts behind - to run to put myself in front of the train yet again.

Because this time it will work, you know.

Since this all also ties into my sweet, sweet abandonment issues, I get a two-fer.

1. Can't save you or help you/nobody likes a quitter
2. I am being abandoned.

The fear has been loud in my head. I spent last week sobbing off and on for no apparent reason. Fortunately, my husband has come to terms with his crazy wife and her "moods" so he merely offers beverages and food and keeps his own counsel. When I stand up and go to the shower at 11 o'clock at night, he just says "You OK?" before settling back into his spot.

Being "The Crazy" seems to have some small advantages. One of which is that I am rarely questioned when I do seemingly random things. Which I'll take as a gift.

On top of all of this is my consciousness of the non-negotiable quality of the Surrender. This event will happen, regardless of my feelings. My 20 years of therapy is kicking in the door to tell me all the reasons I need to back the hell off. Cripes, when you best friend says to you "You've been in therapy for YEARS longer than me - why can't you see that this is unhealthy?", my Head Agrees. Yes. I know. Logical Dawn is strong with her on this one. Logical Dawn knows exactly what she must do - which is surrender to the unknown future.

Taking the path of surrender is in many ways counterintuitive to my survival instinct. Survival says "Plan ahead, scheme, manipulate to make sure you get what you need. No one will take care of you BUT you." Surrender, on the other hand, says "Observe what is happening. Do not struggle against it. Watch. Learn. Stay Quiet You can influence nothing and trying will only exhaust you".

Not being able to control my environment is a lesson that I have a hell of a time learning. As a person who planned ahead for nearly every single life event ( wedding dress bought for three weeks and hidden at friends house before Terrance said "Let's Get Married"? Check. Insane chart to know exactly when I conceived Emily, Um, Yep. Box full of Baby clothes and toys purchased for five years before said Baby came into existence? Yes sir, that would be me. Person who buys Christmas Cards in January and then addresses them in August so they can go out the first week of December? Why, Hello there Me!) the idea of letting go is terrifying.

My inner voice shrieks "BUT! BUT! BUT! IF YOU DON'T CONTROL THIS YOU WILL LOSE FOREVER AND THEN WHAT? YOU WILL HAVE REGRET, WHICH YOU WILL HAVE TO LIVE WITH FOREVER!!" Anxiety creeps in behind and whispers "You also won't ever find happiness if you let go. You will never be happy again." Despair is sliding into the seat in the corner, knowing that she will not have to work hard once the rest of the gang has softened me up.  Her twin, Desire, knows that when I am weak enough from Despair I will simply cave inward....if there is anything left to consume.

And this is how, I suspect, Delight became Delirium.

She couldn't let go. Holding on made her crazy.

I have got to let go.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

I am not a squeamish parent in general. I try to tackle questions with as much honesty and forthrightness as I can humanly manage.

Cue recent discussion about what a "douchebag" really was:

Emily: "So boys are school are calling each other douche bags."
Me: "Do you know what a douche bag is?"
Emily: "No - what is it?"
Me: "Well, let's see. Many years ago, it was thought that ladies needed to clean out the insides of their vaginas, so they invented these bags filled with warm water. There was a hose that went inside your body and then you pushed the water into your vagina and let it come out. You know how "douche" is French for Shower? Ok, so essentially that is what they were used for..."
Emily: Silence.

More silence as she processes this.

Emily: "So the boys are calling each other Vagina Showers?"
Me: "Essentially, yes. Not as funny when you know what it means, right?"

Apparently, she shared this knowledge with the boys and the popularity of the word has plummeted.

That's me. Killing playground humor with knowledge.

Tonight however, I was caught off guard.

I can handle douche bag discussions. I can handle "what are penises used for?" and even bite back my smart aleck response of "If you're lucky, some mighty good things".... I can keep my hysteria under wraps when she has tried to massage me with the vibrator she found in my dresser with the phrase "Mama, you seem tense, let me massage you" as the hum of the pocket rocket came to life.

(And Yes, I have prayed, dear sweet jeebus, do not let her recall this when she finally figure out what those things WERE in her mothers dresser, because there is not enough therapy in the world - for either of us)

No, tonight we were watching a mediocre American History Documentary. I have taken to forcing her in front of them when I can find them as I feel slightly neglectful of her American History education. Since she has been in Canada for nearly 4 years now, she can tell you more about the Filles du roi of New France than she can of ANYTHING American.

While I don't view this as a totally bad thing, I also want her to know enough about American History that, should we return to the states while she is receiving her before college education, she would be able to get by without too much trouble. I am perfectly fine in the knowledge that she doesn't need the crazy indoctrination of  grade school history to be a perfectly Fine American. Maybe even one who is a bit more worldly and able to see that other places and peoples have histories as important and rich as our own little nation building fairy tale.

So, we had gotten through the first Europeans...onto the first colonies and into the Revolutionary War with very little problem. As Emily was born in New Hampshire and been through a majority of the New England states, she knew most of the place that were being discussed - Boston, Concord, Plymouth. Even in todays episode when they were discussing the industrial revolution and the fabric factories of Lawrence and Lowell, Mass - we could associate the history with places she knows.

I should have perked up when the building of the Erie Canal was being talked about. Now, we have seen many pieces of the Canal, as we like driving down that part of New York when we drive to the City, so I wasn't entirely tuned in to what was coming up.

Did you guess Slavery? Cause I was oblivious. Seriously.  I mean, as we were discussing why rivers and canals were so important to the economy of the US, no warning bells or whistles started sounding in my head:

"WAH! WAH! WAH! Uncomfortable moment coming ahead."

It was sneaky, this documentary. I was waylaid with a discussion of the wonders of the damn cotton gin when they got me. Bam! There it was. People being sold. Mothers having children taken from their arms. Free Men being kidnapped and sold back into slavery with no recourse.  The vague reference to "Light skinned women" and "breeding".

People who looked like Emily. Like her Father. But not like me.

Emily started to cry. It was the unfairness of it all. The terribleness of seeing women pleading for their children., and her ability to see herself in those children. Between tears she said "I don't LIKE this."

My mother instinct was to turn it off. Shield her from this. Mixed with that? Guilt. A terrible inability to explain Why to her that wouldn't sound apologetic or defensive or patronizing. An inability to vocalize why some people still hold very similar views - that some people are less than because of their skin color, or religion or sexual orientation.

I froze up a little. I didn't have any good explanations at hand.

What I finally came up with was "I know you don't like this - and I don't either - but it is really important to understand all of the parts of how America came to be - even the stuff that makes us terribly sad. The way we treated First Nations peoples...and later the way we treated Africans was just terrible.  But we can't pretend that it didn't happen or was different because we don't like it. Part of America has been thinking that we can boss other people around if we were stronger, or had better weapons, or more people. We got to do what we wanted because someone else was afraid of us and You are right - it isn't fair."

She was quiet.

"The Iraq War?", she queried.

"Yep, kind of like that too..."

and with that the documentary ended at the verge of the Civil War.

Emily Damali

Friday, May 21, 2010

Thank you for choosing me Emily.  Thank you for loving me when I was not loveable, for keeping me as your mother when I didn't want to be kept.

Thank you for being a joyful child, even when your mother could not be joyful.

We muddle through, the best we can, together. Usually laughing at something your father does not find funny.

I love you more than you can know - far more than I can tell you. And while I know that the upcoming years are going to be challenging, I think we can do it. 

Love you ,Schmoopa.  Happy 12th birthday.

Me and The Girls

Monday, May 17, 2010

When did bra shopping become so ridiculously complicated?

Unlike some arenas in my life, I like a very straightforward bra. In fact, these are the basic three criterion:

1. Fits
2. Has Underwire
3. Cotton

In sum, I want a bra that holds up "the girls" AND doesn't make me sweat.

Since I was down to my last three serviceable bras, I knew I needed to make the trek out and secure more. I mean, rotating the same three bras was getting a little depressing. They weren't looking so good and while Terrance doesn't require me to be any kind of Sex Kitten, I still retain some basic female pride in my appearance.

And honestly, I LIKE my boobs. We've been good friends, me and them. They have held up well under the demands of nursing a baby and retained a bit of their youthful demeanor. They aren't "perky" per se, but I stopped being perky about 22 years ago so I really can't hold my boobs up to a standard to which I can't measure anything else.

Imagine my surprise when faced with a sea of padded, molded cup bras...When the hell did THIS happen?? Who needs this padding? What the hell is going on with this scary perma-shape boob thing? Is there not a Bra for an adult woman without bells and whistles? Can I get one that fits the diameter of my body without making me feel as if I am being forced into the throat of a boa constrictor?

Maybe I can blame it on growing up in Vermont and then living in New Hampshire. I need a Yankee Bra, one that I can tend the garden, shovel the snow, wrangle the children and perhaps braid a wool rug if the spirit so moves me. You know - a PRACTICAL bra for PRACTICAL New Englanders.

Maybe I can blame it partially on my genetics - This is not a Victoria's Secret kind of body. My boobs Laugh At those bras. About three years ago, in an effort to make myself a bit more fancy, I tried - honestly I did. I went into the store and started looking and even tried on a few of the "XL" sizes in those types of stores. Not only could I not shove all boobage INTO the alloted space, but usually, I couldn't get the damn thing all the way around my apparently Freakishly huge ribcage.

My foray into the lingerie stores have taught me that I am an Unnaturally well endowed female with the rib cage circumference of a WWF wrestler. There might as well be a flashing sign shouting "THESE BRAS ARE NOT FOR YOU, GORILLA CHEST!" in the window. This does not encourage my shopping for new bras....which is why I was down to the aforementioned three bras. A white one, a pink one and one that had been brown-ish before being washed with a dark blue towel several months ago, so it now has the color of a healing bruise.


This is how I found myself adrift in the sea of Padded, Molded, Bedazzled Bras on a Saturday Afternoon.


Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dawn: "Wow, I am really dizzy - This fluid in my ear is throwing me off. I need to lay down for a second."

Emily: "If you die, do you want to be burned or buried?"

Dawn: "First off, the word is cremated, not Burned."

Emily: "OK, Cremated - do you want to be cremated or buried?"

Dawn: "I'm not sure it is necessary to have this discussion right now, at 4 in the afternoon."

My Body is their Wonderland

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

This morning:

Terrance: Emily, what are you doing?
Emily: I am going to get dressed in Mama's room.
Terrance: Don't go in there and wake your mother up.
Emily: I'm not.  (closing my bedroom door behind her)
Terrance: Open up that door Emily. I know you are going to try to wake your mother up.
Emily: No - I just need to , um, Use her deodorant. Oh, Good Morning Mama!

Later, once Em is at school.

Terrance: Wow. Your boobs are huge today!
Dawn: Yeah, they are really kind of sore

Long Silence.

Dawn: If you come over here and try to touch them, I am cutting off your hands.
Terrance: Ok, Then.

Traitor Tree

Monday, May 10, 2010

There's a lot of stuff to say, but I am oddly tongue tied. Nothing earth shattering, for sure, but there is an obstruction in my brain. I can feel it all IN there. I just can't direct it to move forward, move Out.

Normally, Spring is my most productive time, when the flow loosens like the streams which were frozen over all winter long. And am I productive? Yes, but not in things I should be doing. Which infuriates Terrance. He of the "I am forcing myself to sit here and be miserable until I finish it" work ethic. That is not my work ethic. The more I push, the more granite like the block becomes.  I must walk around the block, whistling, pretending not to be looking at it, at all. I must ignore the block so it does not feel threatened, and therefore will desist, laying back down to sleep.

While I want the PhD to be done, my fear of being displaced post degree keeps my other instinct - that of finishing and doing a ridiculously good job - in check.  A small panic attack rose up last week when I was asked first by Terrance what I planned on doing post-degree....then when I was explaining that this was throwing off my desire to write to my supervisor, SHE asked what I planned to do post-degree.

AAAAAHHHHHHH. I don't know. Can't I just do this? Think? Write? Wander? Discuss the uses and place of Memory in  Curriculum Theory?  You know? Stuff?

Terrance will want to move on when I finish, and I love Montreal. I am finally rooted here. The idea of having to be uprooted makes me want to stop growing altogether, like those trees who decide to lose all their leaves in August to prepare for the upcoming winter, the ones I call the Traitor Trees.

He doesn't understand that my need for stability goes so deeply that I would rather shut myself down than be forced out.

After 20 years, he still doesn't understand this.
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