Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Good Stuff

My last post was, though a true reflection of feelings at the moment, a little 51/50 hold at Cedar Sinai Hospital in LA...think Britney Spears circa 2008, so I decided to change it up a little.

I would love to have time to blog about everything that's GOOD in my life, because there is a lot of GOOD. And just as my little chubby fingers were a-strokin' these keys, I came up with (finally) my Lenten promise. I shall blog about the positive parts of my life, and the positive parts only. There's too much good stuff going on to ignore it.

... twiddling thumbs trying to think of all that "good stuff"...

OK, I have something. For the first time in my teaching career, I got a card today from a parent that was on an actual note card and a pink envelope and said that basically she understood that this was a stressful time with ISTEP and she wanted to thank me for being a caring teacher and she is praying that everything goes well next week.

This was very sweet and unexpected. So I had to take it to my colleague next door to show it off. Teachers just DON'T get this kind of mail. At all. Ever. We hear the "You screwed up my kid because you corrected his paper!" notes. We get the "Please call me to discuss why you won't let Johnny turn in the work that was due 3 weeks ago for full credit" notes. We get the passive aggressive "Thank you for letting me know that Susie has 100 missing assignments. I'm sure that it was not intentional and there must be something going on in the classroom for her to have done so poorly. I will discuss this issue with her and then call you and stalk you until you give me the answer I want, which is clearly for little Susie to still be on the All A honor roll despite said 100 missing assignments" notes. We don't get positive, happy, "I understand" notes.

So, to that parent, I am ever grateful, and the card is now in front of my computer monitor so that I can read and reread it daily (hourly?) as needed.

On another positive "note" (silly pun)...Luke and I decided to go to breakfast for probably one of the 5 times we have done so all year on Sunday. We got Noelle ready and went to this little family restaurant named Bruner's. It's really old school and not that modern on the inside (cough...at all), but the food is great and it's all for good money. I actually love their biscuits and gravy. YUMMY. Anyway...we ordered a host of food. Like...a lot. We were hungry. Noelle was pretty good throughout the breakfast, telling the waitress at any chance she got that "Noelle wants a waffle!" Well, one of our former high school math teachers and her husband came in and came over to speak with us. Her husband, who is super nice and not scary looking at all, bent down to talk to Noelle. Well, Noelle hated this and in an unprecedented move, she burst into tears and the silent cry...where her mouth was just frozen open, horrified, and big huge tears came down her cheeks. She reached for Luke and begged for his protection. I was so embarrassed and felt terrible for her husband, who sheepishly went back to his seat. We chit chatted a little longer and then our former teacher went to sit down, too.

Well, we went to ask for our check and the waitress said "Actually, that guy took care of it," pointing to our former teacher's husband. I don't know if he felt so bad about Noelle's meltdown or if it was out of the goodness of his heart (I'm sure the latter), but he paid for our bill (remember ALL that food) and even put money on our table for the tip. Crazy! We thanked him 100 times over and of course said how he didn't have to do it, but he insisted.

It was so refreshing to have that happen to us, and it really inspired us to want to do something for someone else. Pay it forward.

So, if this blog post didn't put warm fuzzies in your heart, then perhaps you should just go ahead and pull a Britney and shave your head and stab a car with an umbrella. No?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Another 5:00 a.m. wake-up call. I punch the snooze on my phone 1 or 2 or 20 times. Another morning of wishing it was Friday. Another day of picking something up off the floor to wear. I curse myself as nothing fits. Then I curse this life because I'm too busy to plan a healthy meal...or to exercise. I gave up the only exercise I really loved to move here, only to become a fatter, slumpier version of myself. I find the pants I wore yesterday, slide them on, and pray no one notices.

It's 6:15 a.m. Noelle's awake, her little biological alarm clock is trained to go off this time each day. The poor thing started school at 5 months old and won't finish until she's 22 or older. These sad thoughts fill my mind and will her not to resent me in the long run.

I enter her room and I see the shadow of a fuzzy-headed toddler standing in her crib. She's saying my name (to her, it's Mama) and bouncing up and down. I pick her up and hug her for nowhere near long enough because I'm working against the clock. I have 30 more minutes.

I bring her into the bedroom and toss her onto a sleeping Luke. She enjoys waking him up this way. I move to the bathroom to stare at myself. I'm tired. I'm unmotivated. I'm not excited about anything but the thought of picking Noelle up at the end of the day. I tell myself to stop with these thoughts-- to be grateful for the opportunity to teach-- but I can't fight it.

Luke needs to shower, so I manage to brush my teeth while succumbing to the endless request of "Mama hold you." I apply makeup to myself while she wears my bracelets. I put my hair into a ponytail for the 100th day in a row. No time for style. No time for "pretty." I just need to be appropriate.

I have 15 minutes. Change the diaper. Find clean pants. "Not those pants," she says. Find a clean shirt. Brush bangs out of eyes and pin with a bow that she will remove when I'm not looking in the car. New socks. Boots or tennis shoes? She chooses and we move toward the door.

As we round up her jacket, we say our goodbyes. Goodbye to Papa. Goodbye to Bella and blankie. I tell her she will be eating breakfast soon, which is about the only thing that makes her excited about walking out the door.

I open the fridge and look for something to eat for lunch. Leftovers. Hard boiled egg. Rotten fruit. Shit. I open the freezer and pray that one of the Lean Cuisines sounds good. I grab one and tuck it under my arm. No time for a lunch box. No time for breakfast, either.

I give my husband a kiss and I load Noelle into her car seat. I wonder what time I'll be able to get her this afternoon. I wonder what time Luke will be home. I wonder if we'll have time to be a family...play together...eat together...exercise together...clean up a little.

On my 5 minute drive to the daycare, I don't have near enough time to process my thoughts like the last 4 years when I had a 60 minute drive. Noelle points at the moon. She sings me a song. She chatters happily in the backseat. Inside, I'm dying because I have one left turn and a right one until we're there. Until I hand her over to someone else for the better part of 9 or 10 hours. Someone else will prepare her food. Someone else will change her diaper. Someone else will read her a book. Someone else will hold her when she cries...or will they? I don't know, I guess. I just hope she gets the best care my $120 a week can give her.

We walk in and my heart breaks. I sign her in. She's the first one. I curse the other parents as apparently they don't have to be at work as early as I do and their kids don't have to be in the room alone like mine does. It's quiet. It's sterile. It's not home, and she knows it. She hangs her coat up on her hook and looks around as if there's got to be something more exciting hidden in this room. Same old toys. Same grungy books with missing pages. Same red and green chairs. Today, she took her own chair from a stack in a corner and pulled it up to the table. She sat down, put her hands on the table, and waited. She looked sad. I contemplated just taking her out the door and back home with me, but I have far too much to do at school and a sub couldn't see the top of my desk anyway.

My guilt weighs 100 pounds on my chest as I stay for one more kiss. I hug her and tell her I love her. She's distracted by the breakfast being made at the kitchen area, and so I slip out the door. Tears fill my eyes as I fumble for my keys and my phone. Who could I call right now who could talk me out of feeling this way...or who could at least understand and feel this pain with me? No one comes to mind so I hit the Facebook app routinely and drift away into other people's pointless status updates.

I drive to school and get there with about 1 minute to spare. Even after waking up early and getting out the door on time, I'm never at school early enough to get anything accomplished before the kids flood my room and ask me 100 questions that I already answered yesterday.

I race into my room to prepare some things in the 10 minutes of freedom I have. This just isn't fun anymore. Why am I doing this? Does any of this matter in the end? I wonder what Noelle's doing right now. Will they call me to pick her up because she has a fever...I hope? I should be with her.

I muster a "cheerful" "Good morning," to the first student who enters my room.

The day passes. I teach the subjects. I do a good job. I'm so overwhelmed and exhausted by the workload at the end of the day that I decide to just shove it all in a bag and go home. Papers from 2 weeks ago linger in my bag as I heave it over my shoulder and race to get Noelle.

I walk in to see that whatever she had for lunch is all over her shirt. I'm glad she's feeding herself, but I hate seeing her with dried food on her shirt. Can't they put a smock or bib on her, I think to myself. I pick up her paper to see she pooped twice and "ate good; slept good." I cringe because it should say "well," but oh-fricking-well...I'm taking her home. Most days she doesn't want to leave, which I have been told is a good thing, but it only makes me feel worse and more like a failure as a mother. We'd have fun if we were home together, too, I think. We'd play and do crafts and play and read and when you ate I'd put a bib on you. 

We get home and she's exhausted. She asks for Bella and blankie and her pacifier. She makes the unmistakable tired toddler sound, and all she wants to do is snuggle on the couch. She doesn't want to play. She throws a fit at the first "no," and is so tired she could go to bed right then and there. I fight to keep her awake and happy.

If I'm lucky, I get 2 hours with her. In those two hours, I make dinner. I try to unwind. I think about exercising but realize that I would either have to put her back into a gym daycare or do something that somehow involves her and how productive can that really be? Luke gets home and is equally exhausted. He answers pages or returns phone calls. He plays with Noelle and tries to make the most of the waking hours he gets with her.

By 7:00, she's so tired that it's pointless to resist the bedtime. We read her stories, sing her songs, and lay her down gently. We say a prayer and linger as long as we can before it's time to turn out the light. As we walk away and shut the door behind us, our hearts sink a little. Our time with her is done for the night. We can't help but feel like someone else got the best part of her that day.

Feeling tired, helpless, and a little hopeless, I start work on my 2nd job-- editing photos on the computer. I do that while trying to find meaningful conversation with my husband and with one eye on the TV. I answer emails, live vicariously through others on Facebook, and when I can't keep my eyes open any longer, I head for bed.

5:00 a.m. will come too soon.

This isn't what I envisioned for myself when I was younger.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Super City

The Super Bowl is upon us, and after worrying all summer if we would even have a Super Bowl, I am really excited that it is here! Of course I would have loved to see the Colts playing in their home city, but I know the two teams that are here are the two best teams for a profitable Super Bowl. The Giants and the Patriots are bringing all kinds of fans, celebrities, and national attention, and that is all translating into money and publicity for our beautiful city of Indianapolis!

Anyone who is familiar with Indy already knows how clean, friendly, attractive, and fun Indianapolis is. However, we are now able to showcase our capital to the country and the world, and I couldn't be happier. I have never been to any other Super Bowl cities, but I have heard that Indy really did it right and created a unique and fun atmosphere for the big game.

Luke and I decided that we HAD to get down there and check out the village and see the sights, so we went down on Monday and had a little date night. Even though I saw plenty of children, I would never take my kids if they were under the age of 12. Little ones could get lost in a split second, and strollers are really cumbersome in the crowded streets. For that, we were grateful Noelle was with her grandparents.

We were worried about parking, but we found a meter actually very close to the circle and just paid 2 dollars. We stopped and got some hot chocolate at Starbucks and headed south of the monument to see the infamous roman numerals. Really impressive and cool. They are absolutely huge, too!

We then headed on to the village on Georgia. It was already crowded on Monday night, so I can't imagine what it is like right now, but we just walked around, listened to what they had on the big jumbo screens, and people watched. They had bars set up outside with flames for warmth, and I snapped a cool picture.
We tried to find the 33 Indy cars with all of the NFL teams on them, but they had already taken them out and distributed them to different cities around the state. They did leave the Giants car, Patriots car, and the SB 46 car.

Next was the zip line. We had fun watching people look like Spiderman as they flew down the line, some people upside down. If the line weren't long, I would consider doing it. The zip line was right in front of the conference center, which is where the NFL experience was. We didn't pay to go in there, but I've heard it's a great time, especially for kids and men who like to be kids.

We figured we had seen the sights and it was time to go home. We walked down Capitol to the state house and saw the JW Marriott with the Lombardi trophy on its windows. Very cool!
I couldn't get over how clean the streets were. Even with thousands of people drinking beer and contributing to litter, the streets were in pristine condition. I am so proud of Indianapolis-- proud to still be a taxpayer in Marion County, and proud to say we lived there for 4 years and enjoyed much of what Indy had to offer us.

Hopefully all their hard work means that Indy will get another Super Bowl in our lifetime!