Monday, December 5, 2011

I. Love. Contests!

So I'm all about contests, especially when they win me (otherwise expensive) baby stuff!

Check out this awesome contest from @TheBabyGuyNYC. 12 days, 12 prizes. That's 12 days of potential awesomeness! 

Follow him on Twitter and Facebook. Oh yeah, and he has other interesting stuff too :P 

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Times Have Changed. Or Have They?

In general, people throw that phrase around a lot. How many times have I heard elders musing, "Oh, my! How times have changed!" I've even said it myself on occasion. But lately things on my mind have caused me to wonder if they really have.

My mother is the second youngest of 6 children, having only Uncle Harry below her in line. My Uncle Harry has been on my mind more than usual lately (and I do think of him often), particularly since the wonderful changes in NY law. See, my uncle was gay. I say "was" because he passed away when he was only 26 due to AIDS-related pneumonia. I was only 8 at the time, and my memories of him, sadly, are few.

Unfortunately, what I do remember is not so much of his life, but of my family and what things were like when he got sick. It was the 80s, and the early 80s at that, so very little was known about HIV, let alone AIDS. I have vague recollections of being at my grandmother's house a lot. The adults would sit around the dinner table with sullen expressions, throwing around big words that I didn't understand. But every now and then they'd say things like "hospital" and "dying." Those words I knew, and I was scared of them.

So when my uncle was around, I would be so happy to see him. In my naive mind, if he was home, he wasn't dying. He couldn't possibly be sick, he looked fine! And if he looked fine, I could hug him, right? Not according to the fearful adults. With all the unknown about AIDS, my family really thought we could catch it by hugging him. I remember standing in my grandmother's kitchen, getting ready to leave and leaning to hug my uncle goodbye. That was until I was yanked away by my mother. She then whispered in my ear that Uncle Harry was sick and that I shouldn't hug him. I still recall the confusion and sadness I felt (sadness that I still feel). But hugs always made me feel better when I was sick! Why couldn't I make my uncle feel better? It wasn't fair, I thought. I went home feeling empty that night.

And that is my last memory of my uncle. He passed away a short time later, and I remember thinking that I never got to hug him. Almost 25 years later, I think about him often, wishing things had been different. Had he been sick nowadays, would he have been able to live a productive, happy life? I like to think so. But then I look at the state of society today and I find myself doubting it.

People are still that ignorant and afraid of things they don't know or understand. Other religions, other races, illnesses that cause someone to have an altered appearance or act "differently." These things "scare" people and so they look down their noses at them. Things that could potentially disturb or *gasp* shatter their sheltered suburban lives are to be looked at with disdain! Heaven forbid people should try to understand them or learn something before casting stones from their glass houses! This attitude sickens me. Call me a liberal, call me a socialist, call me a tree hugger, I don't care. It's called being a human with a heart. Different does not mean lesser. Who am I to judge someone else based on such superficial factors?

Perhaps it was my uncle's passing that taught me think this way. That his death taught me to hug everyone without fear. But it breaks my heart to know that he could be watching from heaven and is probably saying, "Gee, things haven't changed one bit."

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Ok, now what?

There have been a lot of "ends" this week. The end of the school year. The end of a graduate class (and with it the end of my graduate schooling). The end of my son's "infant" years. And while I'm sitting here reflecting on what it all means, the only phrase that comes to mind is, "Now what?"

I think of the next 10 weeks and I am virtually stricken with fear. How am I going to keep a 2-year old entertained? How am I going to stay semi-productive? How am I going to keep myself from taking a long walk off a short pier? What the hell am I going to do with all this time?

The writer in me says (as well as my ever-so-patient husband) that this would be a great time to really make some headway in writing the book. All throughout the school year I blamed lesson plans and grading for not having touched a single chapter. Throw on weeks and weeks of grad work and I really had no time for such frivolousness! Can't use those excuses now, can I? I suppose not, but the realist in me knows chances are it won't get touched for another 10 weeks, because LIFE happens.

Beginning next Friday, Lukasz will be home with me for the summer. He just turned 2 last weekend and I know this is such a huge milestone. My little genius (yes, I know "bragging mother" alert!) knows his ABCs and can count to 10. The kid repeats books back to me and sings the words of songs before I can get to them. Every freakin' day he amazes me with something else he's learned. So, how the hell do I keep him entertained/contained/happy all summer? Of course, the list-maker I am already has a spreadsheet of ideas (zoos, parks, yada yada yada), but I clearly cannot do those things every single day. Hubby would kill me (as he watched the bank account drain) and I just don't know how much I could take. But I also can't be Ms. Happy-to-Perfrom indoors 24/7 either. Please, someone, tell me there's a happy balance!

Oh, and not to mention that I have (stupidly) decided to (idiot!) try to potty-train (delusional!) Lukasz this summer (what is wrong with me??). Yeah, I have no clue how to do it, but my dumb-ass is going to "attempt" it (saying attempt will make me feel better about my impending failure).

Then I think about the last 2 years that I have worked and struggled and cried to finish grad school. My last class ended today and it was surprisingly bittersweet. While I am completely and utterly relieved to have finished (24 credits in 2 years - beginning when Lukasz was 2 months old!), I have always described myself as the eternal student. I have always enjoyed school and learning in general; I just love knowing things. So now that I'm done, where do I go from here? While I would love to get my PhD, my inner sensible side (she's in there, pretty deep in there, but she's there) knows that it'd be virtually impossible to juggle 1) work, 2) a toddler, 3) doctorate level studies and 4) possible baby #2 down the road. It'd be a death wish to put myself through that. Or I could just go back and get the Administration & Supervision certification - it's not a degree, but at least I could make myself eligible to be a supervisor someday. It's only 4 classes, how bad could it be? These are things I don't bring up to dear hubby...the daggers from his eyes are just too painful.

And so while I reflect on all these ends, my anxiety grows. Sometimes endless possibilities are truly gifts, but right now, not so much.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Guilty Conscience

I started this whole blog-thing over a month ago, and I just haven't been able to get my act together. Why, you ask?

Because I'm too effin busy trying to be super-mom-wife-teacher-human being.

I know, I know. I am far from being the only woman in the world who is trying to balance marriage/work/motherhood. I get it, I do. But knowing that I'm not alone does not make getting through every day any easier. I am exhausted from the time I wake up until the time I go to bed. I feel like I have zero time for me (not that I'd know what to do with it anyway - - read, maybe? ha!). And what's worse is that even with my attention so focused on anything but me, I know that I'm failing - maybe not failing, but I'm not succeeding either - at everything I do.

With every aspect of my life - hubby, toddler, job - I'm sure that each of them are getting the short end of the stick. I know I'm not pulling my weight around the house. I can't remember the last time I actually a cooked a real meal (the little guy seems to have something against me standing at the counter doing something that takes my attention away from him), I have slacked at getting laundry done (I hate, hate, hate having to lug the stuff down the stairs and outside to the basement), and I've become increasingly lax with cleaning (vacuum? duster? not in my vocabulary). And I swear that I was not always this way! I used to be fanatical about cleaning! Dust bunnies - never! Streaky mirror - no way! What the hell happened to the old Danny Tanner I used to be?? What's worse is that my poor, poor hubby gets virtually no attention from me. He brings down the laundry (which, at least, we do fold together!) and is usually the one to haul out the vacuum. But forget about any romance...and I feel like I'm to blame.

And my poor son. When he and I are alone together, do I get on the floor and play with him and be the silly goof I know is in me somewhere? Sometimes. (I don't know how you SAHMs do it!) If I can muster up the energy, I'll throw him on my back for a horsey ride or race cars with him. But usually I'm plopped on the couch watching his cartoons while he throws his puzzle pieces around. The most I end up doing is reading his books to him (which I do get great satisfaction from). It breaks my heart to know that I'm cheating him out of attention that he deserves more than anyone in my life. Will he remember that in 5-10-15 years? Probably not, but I will.

Then there are my students. Last semester, I had 72 15-year olds. Truth be told, they were decent kids (some better than others) and for the most part were well-behaved and willing to do their work. But boy did I shortchange them. There were many days where I just didn't have the energy or will to do what I would call "active" teaching. More than I would like to admit, I would give them something to read and then answer just to keep them quiet so I could sit and recharge. I don't want to go into 'teacher rant mode' but most people don't realize how difficult and all-consuming it is to be so "on" at all times. I remember days working in the private sector where I could sit, zoning out at my computer, thinking about nothing at all yet still making it look like I was working. These moments just do not exist in teaching. And when I give my kids their "busy work" or throw on a movie, I know that they're losing out on a potentially great lesson. I just can't do it every day.

Sigh. I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, I really don't. I love my life, my husband, my son, my job and everyone else around me. I'm truly happy. But no one told me that being happy would make me so tired or so guilty!


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