If you asked me to define myself, my greatest role and self-definition is that of being a mother. Once, someone told me that when you die, it will not say on your tombstone “She was a good employee.” I have tried to separate how I define what I do to make money and what I do with my life. And so the State of My Year (in response to the Daily Prompt “State of Your Year.” ) will include only this about my employment status: I got a job which I started in March. It is a job and I do feel I will be helping people. But mostly the State of my Year is about my kids.
The Boy has grown so much in the first 5 months of the year. Today is the last day of his junior year of high school. This past weekend, some of his best friends graduated. He is rapidly approaching adulthood and is really seeing for the first time how the choices that he is making now may affect him for the rest of his life. Visiting colleges with him, he finally understands what the Husband and I have been telling him – his grade point average equals money for college. And college then turns into his path for adulthood. He has been much more aware of his grades this semester and has been working very hard. I am very proud of this. There have been some areas of pain and sadness for me – he has decided he is an atheist and does not believe we should force him to attend church with us. He still does not want to participate in family activities. I hope and pray for a future with this child coming around at some point and wanting to be a part of the family.
A1 has blossomed into a beautiful young woman. She is as successful in high school as we wanted and hoped her to be. She has made new friends and is participating in new and different activities. Last night, we had the end of the season banquet for her swimming season where she was recognized for being a leader on the team. She received a varsity letter and was recognized as being part of 3 relay teams that broke school records. As she is only a freshman, there are great things in her future. I feel like I was such a better parent to her than the Boy, though I don’t know what I did differently. Maybe it is just that they are, in the end, two different people.
A2 just finished 5th grade and will be moving on to middle school. She is a funny, lively, amazing girl. She has grown up, up, up since the beginning of the year. Probably close to five inches. This age is such a time of growth and learning. Somewhere between childhood and teenager – so difficult. And to have two siblings in high school who want nothing to do with her, I feel for her. She is so active, always outside working on cars, in the garden, or inside cooking, crafting or building something. She is a bit of an enigma to me. At this age, with the Boy and A1, I could see into their futures and I was pretty accurate. But I don’t know what the next few years hold for this one. I will just have to watch and be there for her.
As for my state of the year – I am watching my children grow. I am making plans for my future, thinking about starting a crafting business on the side of my technical job. I am also looking forward at the aging of my parents and my in-laws. I am trying to prepare myself for their declines in health and what that will mean for the Husband and I. And my own brother I have somehow become a counselor for and because of his lack of maturity, I have taken over parenting his daughter and grand-parenting his granddaughter. Thus far, I will give 2015 a thumb’s up. But we’re not even half way through!
Before our big move to the city three years ago, the Husband had been un/under-employed for two years. This was a period of time we were prepared for him to be without employment and knew that the result of his job search would be us moving from rural farmland to a big city. One of the most annoying things about this time of his lack of employment was that I would come home and he would tell me about watching Mad Men or Breaking Bad in marathons on Netflix. At the time, I was working full time, taking full time coursework in an online Master’s Degree program, and keeping track of the house and the three kids.
Coming home at the end of the day to hear “What’s for dinner?” followed by the daily marathon antics of Walter White and/or Don Draper did not endear me to either of them. Or me to the Husband. That was a very stressful time in my life and my marriage. I would be lying if I did not admit to wanting to run away from home almost weekly during that timeframe. During this time, I was on prescribed anti-depressants which kept me on somewhat of an even keel. My relationship with the Husband endured and we are now in a much better place together. But I never latched on to Mad Men or Breaking Bad the way others did. But I did continue to hear about the ongoing escapades so I had some knowledge of the main characters and what they were up to.
In the past week or so, when the entire TV viewing populace was preparing for the end of the Mad Men era, I knew what was going on. I think the main reason I disliked watching Mad Men is because of the above described resentment. However, I also found almost no redeemable characters. They were smart and well written. The costuming and set design was incredible. I could admire the acting and the paintings on the walls of the offices. But I didn’t like the people. They were not people I could find myself caring about. But I committed to watching the final episode. And I liked it. I liked Peggy and Sears & Roebuck Grizzly Adams getting together because I wanted, of all the characters, Peggy to have some bit of happiness. I liked that Don ended up in a place where he was confronted by multiple demons while he was sober. And he, I believe, found something in himself that he could like. I’d like to think that he would stay sober and continue to search for the Don inside that has some redeeming quality and some likeability. And that is what the end does to us – allows us to project on Don a future for him that we would like to see. Is that how shows should end now? Others give us endings, points of time where things are wrapped up for the characters that we have lived with for years. But Mad Men, like the Sopranos before it, gave us no answers.
Over the weekend, the Daily Post prompt was to blog regarding a journey you have taken. Whenever someone asks about a journey, I think of the movie/album Rattle and Hum by U2. There is a section where the band was interviewed about what had changed from The Joshua Tree to this tour. After much hemming and hawing by all, Larry Mullen, Jr. says “It’s been a musical journey” and then repeats “It’s a musical journey” Then they all crack up and taping stops.
So when I saw the prompt for a journey coupled with the recent posts I have written regarding how music is the backdrop of my life, I had to start today with that quote. Because it is a musical journey even if I am not musical myself. Specific songs take me to a time and place in my life. Back on the Chain Gang by the Pretenders takes me to the bedroom of my high school years – I can smell the quilt, I remember reading on that quilt and hearing that song on the radio. Garth Brooks Friends in Low Places takes me to the summer after I graduated from college and specifically when Bill died. Bill was the Husband’s best friend. They were renting a house together and I practically lived with them. But after he died, the house was full of friends, all of us in shock, alternately staring into space and crying. No one talking, but Friends in Low Places on replay in the CD player. I still can’t listen to that song.
The Husband and I danced at our wedding to True Companion by Marc Cohn long before it was in whatever movie it was that made it popular. That song and my love for my husband are inextricable. Marcy Playground’s Sex and Candy was in constant play on VH1 in the middle of the night when I was pregnant with and then feeding the Boy and nothing was on TV. Bad Things by Jace Everett is the theme song from True Blood. While I didn’t like that show, I loved the theme song. The husband would watch it and I would stay awake through the opening segment to hear the song, sleep through the show, and wake up to hear the song again at the closing segment of the show.
These are just some of the songs that make up the soundtrack of my life. There are so many more that are tied to moments in time. Right now, my girls get in the car and change the radio from the ‘Classic Rock’ to ‘Pop’. I hate Pop. But I know that in the future Katy Perry will be in the soundtrack for them at this age. And for early childhood – the Doors and the Grateful Dead feature prominently. My life is, and always will be, a musical journey.
And now for some art for you. This is a small oil pastel I did a couple weeks ago. I rather like it.
After today, there are only 8 school days left in the school year. What that means is A2, who is in 5th grade, is done learning anything. They will be having field trips and doing fun stuff for the rest of the year. They are no longer allowed to check books out of the library. The Boy and A1 are in high school and are gearing up for finals. I am not too worried about A1 – she is doing well. Except for Civics. I can see the possibility of her failing the class completely and having to retake it.
The Boy? Well, he is a junior. We have been doing the college tour, take the ACT, discuss funding thing since the first of the year. He did well on the ACT so he’s got that going for him. But his grades/ grade point average? These reflect his laziness. He just doesn’t do his homework. Or he is insolent because the teacher insults something in his 17 year old sensibilities. At the end of the first semester, his GPA was sitting at 3.0. That is an okay GPA, but if you want any kind of scholarship money from the state run schools, it has to be higher than that. He really needs to get straight A’s from here on out. My expectations are low. I don’t expect him to get any scholarships.
Summer is coming soon and luckily we have farmed all of the kids out to have some kind of job. The Boy works at the Subway and has talked to his manager about upping his hours. I’d love to see him working almost full time. A1 is going to work for her cousin babysitting to save the cousin some money on daycare. She will work two or three days a week when the cousin has her daughter. And A2 is going to go to Iowa to stay with family where she will help babysit and stuff for about 2 weeks. I’m a pretty proud parent that all of the kids will be doing something to earn money for themselves. And get them out of the house for a while.
Today at work, I had my headphones plugged in and had on a playlist that I call Mellow Shit. Since I am of a certain age, it doesn’t have a lot of recent music on it. It is easy for me to work to because it is music I know every word and every note of and I can put it into the back of my head and it drowns out the noise of my office. Sometimes, though, I catch a line or a phrase or a whole song that brings me out of what I am doing. And sometimes the songs will bring me back to a book that I have read.
Today the song that pulled me was another by Gordon Lightfoot – If You Could Read My Mind. It always takes me into Jane Eyre. The gothic imagery in the song make me think about the tragic hero that Mr. Rochester is, about the way I cry and cry and cry every time I read the book. I even tried to watch the most recent movie version and started in about half way through and started crying immediately and didn’t stop until well after the movie finished. I am definitely a weeper!
One of my ponderings today is that I love the song Wuthering Heights by Kate Bush. It even inspired me to read the book about 10 years ago, but the book did not inspire the love in me that I wanted to have. And I have never read any Jane Austen or seen any of the movies based on her books. Am I missing something here? I just know that Jane Eyre takes me to a place that no other story does. And I always love reading other books or watching other movies and saying – Oh! They’re pulling a Jane here!
Today, I have no drawing for you, but I do have some new yarn that I just spun. I have just returned from a most successful Yarn School. And I dyed some fabulous fiber to make into amazing yarn. Here is the first of what I dyed and spun:
I have dreams like some horror movie. My fiber stash holds an uprising. Feeling neglected, it comes at me for revenge. I bet it could smother me with little effort. I don’t even want to count the yards of yarn, the pounds of fiber, the number of projects I am in the middle of. I don’t have any idea how many knitting needles or crochet hooks I have. And I certainly don’t want to have any idea of the amount of money I have spent accruing all of these piles of stuff and methods of storing them.
There are some yarns I am hoarding until something perfect comes up. I have this beautiful purple/gray yarn that is destined to be a top. I have some unbelievably beautiful sparkly yarn that is so dark green and purple that it looks black. That one needs to find just the right project. Then there are the 5 skeins of softness that would become a sweater, but they are in two different colors and I don’t really want a striped sweater in these colors. And so these are hoarded.
And sock yarn? Holy cow do I have sock yarn! I have two skeins specially dyed for me in deep dark red and black, a lovely lavender, a red white and blue combo that will be super cool when made into socks, a lovely spring green, and many self striping combos. But I don’t really want to make socks.
Then, there is the fiber stash. 4 pounds of raw alpaca, 6 pounds I came home from yarn school with, the multiple pounds from previous yarn schools, some silk that is too beautiful to risk screwing it up, bamboo with spins amazingly.
I work, I come home, I make dinner, and then I have to decide – what gets my attention until I am ready to fall down for the night. Do I crochet one of the 3 blankets I am working on? Do I knit this amazing shawl? Do I spin what is currently on the wheel? Sometimes, I just start something new. Like mittens or socks or washcloths. Something I could finish quickly but I don’t because by the next night I have forgotten about that.
Or I could draw. Or paint. Or sew. Or quilt. There is too much. Too much. But don’t ask me to give any of it up. It’s just not going to happen. I swear, one day, I will be done with all the things. Until then, let me keep worrying that it will attack me in my sleep.
Today, in a few short hours, I will be leaving home for the weekend. I am going alone – no husband, no kids. I made it through the birthdays of the week and the band concert without pulling out any hair. But now, I am getting ready to pack up the car and head on down the road.
Here is my conundrum: Strict diet vs. delicious Yarn School food. My strict diet is now 100% gluten free because I have found that it really does affect my Fibromyalgia and how I feel. I eat specific foods at specific times. The feeding schedule at YS is not really what anyone would call normal. Coffee is turned on by whomever is up first – usually around 6 am and is gone by 8:30. And there is no more. There is no formal breakfast – waffle batter and a waffle iron, yogurt in the fridge, bread for toast, maybe some whole fruit. Then lunch. Lunch may happen around 3. And it is usually a carb and fat laden choice of food – homemade mac-n-cheese, BLT sandwiches, etc. Delicious? Yes, but not timely or within the parameters of what I eat. And dinner? Fuggetaboutit! 9 or 10 pm if you’re lucky. BUT — the conversation and camaraderie is part of the experience.
So – am I strong enough to sit with the group of campers and watch them eat? Do I take a small plate and find food that isn’t TOO bad for me? Do I skip meals altogether and eat my own food at my own timing? Every party I have ever had at my house has been centered around the food. In fact, we almost never even leave the kitchen. In my poor little brain it seems that food and fun have been linked to one another. Part of my dieting is to sever that link and let food be food and fun be fun and ensure that I don’t have to have food in order to have a party be a party. I think this is the most difficult transition I am making in this diet. For Easter, we went to brunch and I ate too much. Next weekend, we will be heading to a family baptism and a friend’s graduation. Guaranteed eating events. It is so difficult. Even if I make ‘good eating choices’, I will probably be eating more than I normally would. And there will be desserts. I can’t be alone in this struggle. Obviously America has an obesity problem that I am trying to stop being a part of. My plan is to stay the course, eat on my schedule, and avoid the food that I should not eat. Thank goodness yogurt is on my list of things to eat, because this is the best homemade yogurt ever.
Anyone have any thoughts or advice on this? Have you been there? Let me know. I want to know there are others on the same life raft as me.
How many times do I spend my days wishing the time away – wishing it was 5 o’clock, wishing today was Friday, wishing it was spring or summer or autumn? Is it human nature to do that – to look forward to what we know is ahead and we perceive to be better than what we are doing today, right now? Today I am looking ahead and looking forward to several things – again, wishing today away.
Tomorrow night, the Boy will be celebrating his 17th birthday by having 7 of his friends over to have a draft for Magic the Gathering. His main gift from us is a new box of cards, chosen by him for this draft. I don’t pretend to understand what any of this means, other than a home full of hungry teenage boys. We are ordering pizza. Lots of pizza. And A1 will be making a double batch of Tollhouse bars. A1 is a fabulous baker and we have pretty much turned all of the baking in the house over to her. Then all of these boys will be spending the night. Where and how they are all going to fit into the Boy’s room, I have no idea. Nor do I really care. They are 17. They can figure it out. They will then be getting up bright and early (ha!) and heading off to Record Store Day. I hear there are some special records being released that are ‘must haves’ in the Boy’s world.
While the testosterone festival is leaving the building, A1 has a swim meet. It will be her third one this week. As a freshman, she is on the high school team for the first time and is still getting used to it. But I have to say that her swimming has progressed beautifully and she looks amazingly poised and confident at the meets. Her birthday is Monday and she has asked for it to be mostly ignored. She does want a hair straightener. Ok. I can do that. After that, there is a high school band performance on Wednesday. Both the Boy and A1 will participate in that. Their high school band is a joy to watch, so I am looking forward to everything about that except sitting on the bleachers.
In spite of having two birthday’s in the upcoming week, the one thing I am so much looking forward to is Yarn School. Yarn School. Friends, booze, spinning, knitting, dyeing, booze… How can I possibly wait! I leave in one week and drive for a couple hours to check in to an old high school building in a field in the middle of nowhere until Sunday night. There is something about this annual trek (this is my 3rd year) that makes me so happy in such unexplainable ways. There are so many things about it to not recommend it and yet, I keep putting my money down and keep going. I am pretty sure there will be an upcoming post titles Yarn School. Keep your eyes open for that!