Wednesday, May 28, 2014


If you look for perfection, you'll never be content.

-Tolstoy, Anna Karenina 

I currently have no teaching responsibilities.  Well, to clarify, I have no teaching responsibilities for which I receive a paycheck.  The absence of a schedule & deadlines & rooms full of students who expect me to pull myself together a few hours a week & impart knowledge is, oddly enough, stressing me out a little.

I feel antsy, & this blog is an attempt to work through my feelings by pinpointing their origin, & then assessing what I can realistically do to reduce the stress that I know I bring on myself.  Talking it all out with myself is so much cheaper than therapy, & like all worthwhile endeavors, it can be done while wearing pajamas.

I've thought about it, & what I've discovered is that since I have no adjunct responsibilities at the moment, I feel I should be able to accomplish all manner of other tasks, & yet, the items on the elusive to-do list in my head often remain unchecked, which leads to the aforementioned stress.  I am trying to lower my expectations of myself.  Noble of me, I know.  So we move forward with a list of the sources of the angst.

I want to read & I want to write; I want to spend copious amounts of time engaged in these activities.  I don't know if I am experiencing some sort of mid-life literary crisis, but I wish I'd been this interested in reading & writing when I was a twenty year old English major.  If only my 8am literature classes had been listed as "Book Club" on the schedule of classes.  The reality is that until everyone in my home can eat, use the toilet, & manage diabetes with only minimal supervision from me, I don't have ample time to do anything, & when time presents itself, it is almost always late at night when I probably should go to sleep (but I usually don't, because the house is so still & so quiet, & it's just too tempting to make decaf & read).

In addition to a lack of time to read, deciding what to read when is currently vexing me (I know, I know, my life is so hard).  The June book club selection is A Farewell to Arms (squeeeee!).  I am going to reread it, but am debating putting off the reread until I've read John Green's The Fault in Our Stars before the film is released on June 6.  I've waffled on reading this book for some time now (if you've read it & have thoughts on its merit, please, do share).  I don't know if I want to immerse myself in a world inhabited by two young kids who have cancer.  However, I am curious about the movie.  I want to see the movie if for no other reason than to wake up one hot Saturday morning in June & flee the house, telling Trey I am going to the movies & wishing him good luck as I jet away toward Tinseltown.

I also have a desire to read Anna Karenina.  I think this desire has arisen because at the last two book club meetings, this book has come up in discussions.  I've never read it, & everyone knows the best time to pick up a Tolstoy novel is when you have two young kids who totally depend on you for every last little thing.  Also in the queue is Ron Rash's Serena, which I want to read before the film, starring Bradley Cooper & Jennifer Lawrence (YAY!), is released in December.  Further compounding my reading dilemma is a text I got from a friend who is an avid reader, & whose book suggestions are always stellar, about a book titled The Bronze Horseman she recently finished & loved.  It is historical fiction, & you know how that stresses me out (is this part history?  is it fiction? ahhhh!), so I am trying to not pick up this book . . . yet.  I think I am going to read The Fault in Our Stars, sit through the movie & cry & eat popcorn all by myself, & then reread A Farewell to Arms before the book club convenes.  June is shaping up to be a rather melancholy month for me reading-wise, but I am completely okay with that.  I like books that make me ache just a little (maybe I'll talk myself through that one in another blog post).

I want to write another book.  It is SO THERE in my head; on the page, I am 8,000 words deep.  Anyone with any publishing knowledge would tell me to worry first with publishing the first book, because after all, there is no point in writing a sequel if the first book isn't published . . . unless of course you just want to write the second book because it would help you sleep better at night, regardless of whether or not anything you write is ever published.  If I ever manage a sequel, & the road to traditional publication for the first book leads where I expect (nowhere), I think I will likely self-publish both books as eBooks through amazon, which, upon doing minimal research, I've learned is much simpler than I thought.

Moving past my literary frustrations, I want to lose twenty pounds; I would not cry if I lost thirty.  This is nothing new, & if you recall was one of my stated goals after Henry was born (which, if you're watching the calendar, was almost a year ago).  I did begin exercising when Henry was still very small, but then mastitis got me, an absolutely horrific experience you can read about here, & then I was learning to balance teaching with two small kids at home, & then it was Christmas, & then the big boom was lowered in January when Reagan was diagnosed, so here I sit, typing away, weighing about what I did after Henry was born.  Despite a lack of exercise & a year spent eating basically whatever I wanted, I haven't gained weight, likely because I never sit down when the sun is up, but I haven't lost any weight either.  Oddly enough, Trey is inspiring my weight loss goals.  After me harping on him for five years, he has quit drinking Diet Coke & is cleaning up his diet overall.  He is making himself fruit smoothies in the morning using the Almond milk I buy for Reagan; this is a huge step for a man who usually puts nothing but Diet Coke in his stomach before noon, save the occasional Chick-fil-A chicken biscuit.

Again, as with the reading & writing, it is not a lack of desire to exercise, but a lack of time to do so that is often the culprit standing between me & adequate exercise.  I am figuring it out, sort of.  If nothing else, I go outside, sometimes after dark, & lap the medians on our street for a bit, or I run up & down the stairs in our house a few times (which totally confuses Sophie, our tiny dog who follows me all over the house all day long hoping she can claim my lap for just a few minutes).  Here's the kicker: I have actually done some running.  Understand that I am not a runner; there are few activities I despise more.  For two reasons, I've decided I have to run (some) if I am to see any weight loss results.  First, I am not twenty, & I think I am going to have to shock my body in order for it to get the message that we're attempting to shed a few pounds.  Second, running is faster than walking (at least in theory . . . perhaps not the way I do it) & again, time, time, time.

I want many things for my Henry man.  I'm frustrated because I can't seem to prevent the inevitable daily tumbles he takes as he insists he can not only crawl, but stand, walk, & fly.  I have yet to take any official eleven month pictures because for the past three weeks he's not been without a bruise or a scrape somewhere on his face.  My current words of wisdom for Henry come from Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, "Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall" (I Corinthians 10:12).  

I want to throw Henry an epic first birthday party.  He was born on June 6, which as you (hopefully!) know is D-Day.  I have been contemplating the logistics of a D-Day themed birthday party.  Is it appropriate?  Will everyone else be as eager as I am to watch YouTube videos of Ronald Reagan's famous D-Day speech?  Should I make some of the guests wear white to represent the French?  It would all work out so well if we were at the beach (in Destin, that is, not Normandy).  After all, a party has to have a theme, right?  Maybe the theme can be "Mama's Tired" & we'll all wear pajamas & eat chocolate & drink coffee.  I keep telling myself that Henry will not care, & likely most of the guests will not care.  Cake.  That's all everyone will want: cake.  I am talking myself down from the lofty birthday party expectations I've set up in my crazed mind & whittling the to-do list down to: cake.  
Lastly, I want Reagan's blood sugar numbers to be perfect.  I am slowly accepting what doctors have told me since January: her numbers are never going to be perfect.  I get this, intellectually, but it continues to drive me mad.  At any given moment in the day, this list is never far from my thoughts: (1) what her last sugar reading was; (2) what, if anything, she's eaten since then; (3) is there any active insulin (meaning the rapid acting insulin that covers her food & can cause lows during the day) left in her system, & if so, how much longer will it be active.  I am nearing a decision about which insulin pump I want to use, & soon will begin the process of doing what needs to be done to get her on the pump.  I have no idea how she'll take to this.  It will mean no more shots, but she is pretty cool with the shots, & the pump is a small device that will be continually attached to her.  We shall see.  Everyone tells me the pump offers better control, & if there are two words that make me jump, they are better control.  Well those two words, & hot coffee.  

 I took an introductory psychology class in college, & I have watched a lot of Frasier, & so I don't need a PhD to tell me that my fierce desire to control things - - what I read, & when, how much time I am able to spend writing, my weight, the success of Henry's birthday party, etc. - - is an attempt to overcompensate for what I cannot control to the extent I'd like, which is Reagan's diabetes.  I have no doubt that what has prompted me to run, which for me is revolutionary, is that while it may be difficult, it is within my power to lose the weight I want to lose (& to read Anna Karenina, & to write another book, etc.) & I am eager to do anything that is within my power because I am at my wit's end dealing with that which is not within my power.  No matter how perfectly I count carbs & calculate insulin to carb ratios, Reagan's insulin needs, & thus her blood sugar readings, are affected by so many, many variables that all I can do is manage the diabetes with the goal of seeing sugar readings within range most of the time.  I cannot control it.  I cannot control it.  I have to accept this so that I can teach Reagan, who will manage her diabetes herself one day, that she cannot expect to control it perfectly, &, perhaps most importantly, that it should not control her.    

These pictures below were taken by my father-in-law on Memorial Day.

(Yes, Henry's in his pajamas.  Sue me.)

Grandmama has a garden:

Trey took the kids to his parents' house while I went to see Moms' Night Out with my mom & a friend. The movie is good (sitting in a theater for two hours with popcorn in my lap instead of a kid was also awesome).  The movie fairly accurately depicts the trials of a mother with young kids.  It is rated PG (although I think it could have easily been given a G rating), & it is every bit, perhaps more, entertaining as films filled with nudity & profanity.  The overarching theme of the film, in my opinion, & what the protagonist realizes while having a conversation with a biker named Bones portrayed by Trace Adkins, is that being a mom is enough.  Raising small people, & all the details that endeavor entails on a daily basis, is enough in & of itself.  At the end of the day, if the house is filthy, & you haven't read a word of your book, or written a blog (or a book!), & you are still wearing the pajamas you woke up in (yesterday), & you had a few readings on the sugar meter that began with a 2, it does not mean the day has been a failure.  Or that you are a failure.  Sometimes lowering your expectations of yourself is the best thing you can do, for yourself, & for your kids.

So often I am frustrated because there are so many items on my to-do list that I am unable to check off during the day . . . read three chapters, write five-hundred words, wash, fold, & put away all the clothes . . . Reading & writing & being anal about laundry are all fine & good; they are noble goals.  However, I cannot continue to allow my inability to meet what are often unrealistic expectations I set for myself to frustrate me.  I might read Anna Karenina.  I might write another book.  I might lose thirty pounds.  I might throw Henry a legendary D-Day themed birthday party.  I might go a week with no sugar readings that begin with a 2.  But, if I don't do any of those things, I have not failed.  If I don't raise two kids who love the Lord & are happy, productive citizens, then, & only then, have I failed.  We so often want tangible, immediate results, & motherhood just doesn't offer them.  It is a marathon, not a sprint, (so I guess it's a great time for me to begin running).  It is why the headline of this blog boasts the wise words of Thoreau:

The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening.  It is a little stardust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.

Did you think the absence of cable would make the list of things currently irking me?  Interestingly, it has not bothered me at all (yet).  I can report that Jack Bauer's awesomeness is in no way diminished by watching him in action on my computer, as opposed to my television, screen.  This is the first time in my life I've lived without cable.  My mother was in the early stages of labor with me as the cable man installed it in my first home (seriously).  I will leave you with this bit of optimism: If I can live (happily) without cable, & Trey can give up Diet Coke, then anything is possible.  I admit it's totally a possibility that come September, Trey will be guzzling Diet Coke while I ignore the kids in order to watch four different college football games on various cable channels, but for now, we are holding steady; we are conquerors.


No comments:

Post a Comment