Friday, April 29, 2005

The one where she loses her temper...

I'm ashamed to say that I lost my temper in front of my daughter this evening. I didn't lose my temper *with* her - she was not the source of my troubles. She was merely a witness, and I must say, I think it scared the bejeezus out of her.

To fully explain this, I have to explain that at the moment (and at several other moments during the course of our marriage) my husband is working on a different shift than mine. So, while I get up at 5:00 a.m., head out the door with the baby by 6:30, go to work, come home by 5:30 p.m. (on a good day), my husband goes to work at 2:00 p.m. and comes home by 1:00 a.m., if he's lucky. After that, he has to "unwind" before bed, so he usually crawls in at around 4:00, waking me up just enough that I can't fully enjoy my last hour of sleep because I know I only have an hour left to enjoy my sleep. Then, to sweeten the deal, he has to stick to this schedule on weekends, because lord only knows that if he gets off schedule, the world will fall off its axis and stop spinning entirely.*

At any rate, I haven't seen my husband (let's call him P) since Sunday night when I went to bed. I haven't spoken to him since Wednesday (I think... maybe it was Tuesday?). We leave each other little notes on the kitchen table, but those hardly count as quality communications. So tonight, I'm sitting, eating, feeding the baby, watching the Food Network, and I hear this strange tinny voice... I think, who in the world is talking? Radio is off, it's not the TV... Oh. It's the ANSWERING MACHINE. And it's P, calling me, thinking I'm not home, leaving me a message on said machine. And I MISSED IT.

At this point you're probably saying, "Idiot woman, didn't you hear the telephone(s) ring?!" I'm certain that I would have heard the telephones ring, had not every single phone in the house (all cordless) been completely dead - no battery charge at all? Oh, and where were all the phones? Side by side, where someone I know likes to leave them, because he is physiologically incapable of a) putting something back where he found it, and b) leaving the phone on the charger.

To ice my pity-cake with some irony-flavored frosting, I fished out my cell phone and called him back immediately, only to discover that he was out of the office again. I had missed him - twice.

My anger at this stemmed mostly from the fact that the phones didn't ring because they were dead and it was All His Fault. My sadness stemmed from the fact that I detest single parenting and just want to spend some damn time with my damn husband once a week. As though a five minute phone call during dinner was really too much to ask. At which point I lost my temper and started crying.**

This totally freaked out the Bear, as it's not something she sees Mom do very often, so she started crying too, and we had to sit on the couch together and weep and rub our snotty faces together for something like half an hour. And she makes the most pitiful Sad Face, which only made me cry more, since I was the one who provoked it.

I've been dealing with some emotional issues lately, in case you couldn't tell. I'm not normally the sort of woman who bursts into gales of tears over an answering machine. But, that's a whole different entry, and I'm not feeling up to it at the moment.

I'm off to my bed (alone) with a nice cup of tea and some comfort reading. ::does best Scarlett O'Hara:: Tomorrow is another day.

*I totally understand that it's hard to change sleep schedules overnight, but for godsakes, I used to stay up until 4:00 with him just to have some time together - and I was pregnant at the time! How effing hard can it possibly be to get up on Saturday morning and hang out with us?

**This is something that some women can do quietly, even gracefully. Not I. When I cry (not very frequently), it sounds like a banshee riding an elephant with a head cold. It makes noises that would frighten the bravest of children.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The one where time marches on...

The Bear is exactly nine months old today. She has four teeth, no hair, and refuses to crawl forward. Backward is the modus operandi of this child. A friend told me to put Cheerios on the floor in front of her to entice her forward, but all that taught her was the fingers-digging-into-the-carpet army crawl. All in due time, I suppose.

This particular un-birthday feels like a milestone to me... not sure why. Perhaps because the nine-month mark means she's officially been "out" longer than she was "in," although we hit that milestone almost a month ago. She's growing so fast, I feel like tomorrow I'll come home and she'll want to buy a prom dress or pierce her nose.

I should state for the record that general consensus regards me as the world's worst mother. I went back to work when the Bear was three weeks old (yes, that's weeks, not months. What is one to do when the school year starts, especially one's first year in a new district? They aren't going to move the first day of school back just for me, no matter how sweet my child) and haven't been home since. Fortunately, summer vacation is around the corner, and she and I have firm plans to get one of those little blue plastic pools and sit in the driveway all day, splashing and drinking lemonade. I refuse to teach summer school this year.

Back to my horrendous mothering record: the Bear started daycare at exactly six weeks (the legal minimum), and has spent 10-11 hours there per day ever since. She has also been (horrors!) formula-fed since that time. ::gasps in shock:: I have had so many people criticize my parenting in the last year (YEAR - it started before she was even born) that I've become almost entirely immune. 99% of it has no impact on me. I know what's best for my family - a) eating, and b) having a roof over our heads. Also, I would make a terrible SAHM - I get all frustrated and grouchy. I need to be out and about for my own mental health and well-being. At any rate, my working has had no negative impact on my daughter. This child is so damn happy it's surreal. She almost never cries, laughs constantly, and smiles in such a way to show off both her dimples and her chins. She has been sleeping through the night since three months, and is healthy as the proverbial horse. (Though what's so healthy about horses I have yet to figure out. I always thought they shot the horses when they got sick.)

The one critique on my parenting that I haven't yet been able to shake off came just this week, courtesy of my own mother. She said, in the most helpful and nonthreatening way possible, "It's okay if the Bear isn't as smart as you were. You can't expect her to be. After all, I stayed home with you for two years, and I could give you the attention you needed." As though my child will be some sort of stupefied imbecile because I don't spend every waking minute fawning over her. I could cheerfully shove the phone up my mother's nose when she makes comments like that. It's not as though every mother in the universe has the luxury / inclination to stay at home all day.

Before I become bitter here, I just wanted to commemorate nine months on the planet for my sweet Bear. She is truly the most fascinating child - she never ceases to amaze me. I'm a lucky, lucky girl.

The one where work is crappy...

75% of people think that their job sucks too much; 15% of people think that their job sucks just the right amount, and 10% of people wish that their jobs sucked even more. I am one of the fortunate few who fall into this last category.

I mean, who wouldn't want to go to work every day and be insulted by people half their age? I, for one, thoroughly enjoy this type of torture, and only wish that I could bring some of my students home with me on the weekends, just so that they could follow me around the house, randomly shouting insults and misbehaving. I find that on the days when you wake up in a relatively good mood, they can sense your happiness and set out to destroy it. My own personal happiness, for example, was gone before I had been in my classroom for thirty seconds this morning. That's a personal best, I'd have you know.

There are days (days like today) when I want to gouge out my own eyeballs with a rusty spork, just to have the pleasure of throwing something at people. The only thing that stops me from fulfilling this desire is the sneaking suspicion that a disembodied eyeball wouldn't cause the recipient nearly the amount of pain that I'm looking to inflict. Days like this make me wish I had never quit smoking, if only because then I might be lucky enough to die of cancer sooner than I could retire.

But then the kids pull through with the real winners, and you just have to laugh, because otherwise we'd all go nutty. May I offer as today's shining example this beautific opening line - "Parents: without them there would be no children." Things like this are what keep me coming back for more. That and the fact that I'm a ginormous glutton for punishment.

I love my job.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Welcome to the jungle...

Where to begin? This is my first foray into blogland, though I've been surreptitiously lurking and obsessively reading the blogs of others for quite some time now. I was seduced by the sense of community that so many people online seem to share. I've been searching for a place to feel that lovely sort of closeness for some time now, so... here I am. A bit about myself -

I am a twentysomething (cannot bring myself to label... myself... as a Gen-Xer) public school teacher living in the middle of ABSOLUTELY NOWHERE, five hundred miles from family, friends, and decent restaurants. I've been married for almost two years now to a delightful man (bit of a writer himself), whose fault it is entirely that I am now living in the middle of a cow pasture. Thank god the sex is good, or I would have bailed during the first winter.

The realio, trulio love of my life is nine months old at the moment, and currently in possession of only four teeth. She is affectionately known as Bear, because she is small, and fuzzy, and growls rather a lot.

I hope (devoutly, fervently, oh-please-for-the-love-of-all-that's-good-and-holy) that this blog will turn out to be a place where people stop by with whom I can discuss my thoughts on parenting, teaching, life in america (such as it is), and whatever else happens to come up. Some days, you feel the need to talk to someone intelligent after 9 hours spent with 16 year olds at work and a 9 month old at home.

(Note: I'm not desperate for *intelligent* conversation as such - anything will do. I'm perfectly willing to share my recipe for the perfect meatloaf or discuss why exactly it is that "The West Wing" sucks so abominably badly of late.)

At any rate, my life is a series of well-choreographed accidents, and I'm just along for the ride. So please, come talk to me, lest I be forced to discuss literature with my neighbor's goat (again).