Saturday, May 31, 2014


So, no blog posts lately because I’ve been busy with mundane items on my to-do list.

It’s funny. I had a wonderful high school psychology teacher who compared depression to viruses. Everyone gets them. Sometimes it’s a three-day cold (or you’re a bit blue for a couple of days), but you shake it off and life moves on. It can run the gamut, though, and sometimes you’ve got viral pneumonia (or major depression) and you’re in the hospital with doctors prescribing meds.

I think recovery from depression also resembles recovery from viruses. I probably had a flu-level depression this time and, as after the flu, I felt better, looked around, and realized a Crap Ton (that’s a standard American measurement) of tasks had backed up while I wasn’t feeling well. Like after the flu, I’m still a little shaky, but I feel so much better than when I was sick that I plunged into catching up.

Well, it’s not working for two reasons. One, because I just plain always overestimate myself. That’s me, my Achilles’ heel, my fatal flaw. Two, because there’s no grace in this world. I’m currently obsessed with this idea, so I’m sure you’ll read more about it later, but for now, I’ll just share the definitions I’m talking about—Merriam-Webster’s second definition, meanings “d” and “e” if you’re counting.

--a disposition to or an act or an instance of kindness, courtesy, or clemency
--a temporary exemption: REPRIEVE

What am I talking about? Here’s a simple example. My dad talks about how folks used to send business letters. He’d have a day or two—a grace period, if you will--to think about a reply and then send a letter back. Can you imagine that today? Seriously. Can you imagine regularly taking a day or two to think before you reply to an email or voice mail now?

I get worked up about vacation days, too. A lot of folks in Europe get six weeks of vacation time every year. Why? Because we’ve proven people produce MORE if they get that much time off. How many of you get six weeks of vacation time? Can you imagine being gone from the office for two or three weeks all in a row? Do you even take the time you have as vacation or does it get sucked away in kids’ programs, field trips, and sick days? Or maybe you spend it doing big projects around the house? Do you spend it traveling to visit family for family events?

Or do you somehow, miraculously manage to regularly do something purely for pleasure and rest for a week or more? If so, tell me how!

And don’t even get me started on parental leave….

I have no idea how to fix this, save to cry out to you, my loyal two dozen readers. Maybe if we all yell loud enough some bureaucratic Horton will hear us and lobby for more grace in modern America. I do know that I’m surviving by giving myself mini-grace periods. I did not answer a work email last night; I went to bed instead. I have some low-priority tasks that are still piling up. And I listen to my “Help” playlist a lot. Everyone should listen to spirituals at times.

But that’s a topic for my next post!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Slipping Into Summer

This weekend, the house is a mess, we ate terribly, and I’m way behind on my work. This makes me pretty darn happy.

The whole situation sings of the transition from school to summer vacation. As the tide of summer life comes in, the flood of carlines, field trips, homework, packed lunches, early bedtimes, and last minute everythings recedes.

Right now, the porch and deck gleam a fresh white around a newly turquoise pool. We all glow a golden brown from outside chores and a morning at the beach. End of year gifts and notes cluster on the table, ready to give, and we’re choosing books to read aloud on our summer evenings.

Flip flops have joined crocs and school shoes at the door; soon the school shoes will vanish into closets along with backpacks and lunchboxes.

For various reasons, we won’t travel this summer, so the kids and I look forward to setting up a rhythm for our summer days--library day, beach day, splash park day. Sure, we have a few weeks of camp scheduled and, sure, S. will keep on with piano and A. will do tae kwon do, but without the tyranny of the bedtime required for early-rising, spirited school kids, the long summer evenings look luxurious.

Summer is also our time to grow comfortable with the independence the year has brought. I’m looking forward to helping the kids learn and master some new tasks. Not just because Big A. and I need all the help we can get, but because I know the kids will love the freedom that comes from doing things themselves.

So, despite the messy house and current lack of balance, tonight we put the bluegrass on the stereo, cooked up a pot of tomato sauce, and ate on the porch, enjoying the perfect weather at the turn of the seasons.

Soon enough, this transition time will pass into the glorious gifts of summer.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Ballad of Dust Bunny

So, somewhere on Facebook I saw that May 16 was Mental Health Blog Day. I, of course, believe in complying with these very important internet imperatives.

No, I don’t really. But parenting and PPD have been on my mind lately, probably because Mother’s Day was last weekend. I had a lovely day. Our children made me such incredibly thoughtful gifts—they overwhelmed me. I couldn’t help thinking how things had changed since my first Mother’s Day.

I wrestled with PPD for nearly a year after S. joined our family. Then, just as I felt better, I became very ill with thyroiditis and the resulting hypothyroidism. Between the two illnesses, I spent many days on the sofa while S. was small.

So, with mothering and mental health (health!) on my mind, I thought I’d post one of my attempts to write about those days. If this sounds familiar, please know that it doesn’t have to be this way. Tell someone, reach out, get help, and know that it can and will pass! Tell your family, tell a friend, tell your healthcare provider, or check out this list of resources--

I promise I'm working on an uplifting blog for next time!

The Ballad of Dust Bunny

From my angle, I spy
A compatriot
Dwelling in the corner
Beside the tv, under the chair
Just this side
Of the shelf
A shadow of more substance
Less linearity
Than the other shadows
In a day or so
He seems a little heavier
A little more rounded

From my angle, I suppose
Does he mutter
To himself
Does it cross his mind
To matter?
Does he think he should
Have one foot to drag
In front of another
Does he sigh for
A to-do list to
Wrap up in at night?
Would he give his form
--if he could--
To anchor himself
For motion, for change
So he might matter?

I change angles,
My side grown numb
A humid comforter
Hovers over
Monotonous green
From our window
We watch
The same plants
Growing the same leaves
Over and over
In weeks
Between clippings

He’s heftier now
And I …
In long hours
Interrupted by
Brief functioning
A meal to be had
Dirty laundry
Waded through
Sleep sought
And avoided
Guilt consumed
And abandoned

Another day
Another destiny

I watch
My daughter bustling
She whips up a lunch
Feeds bears and monkeys
With equal ease
Leaps block towers
In single bounds
Puts hordes to bed
And wakes them
Two seconds after
She even brushes
My fellow-sufferer
In her urgent reaching
For a miscreant toy
What will she do
With the next five minutes?

The constant
Between her eyebrows
Punctuated by
Disguised, quick
Shoulder glances

My indictment

At least
With a ball of fluff
She knows
To ask nothing