'Til Death

Partnership

 

Thank you.

 

For making it possible for me to do this important work.

For making it possible for me to do this important work.

 

I feel lucky.

 

To be the one who gets to pick her children up from school.

To be the one who gets fly away for an exciting project at a moment’s notice.

 

It is special.

 

When I get to be the one to fly away for an exciting project at a moment’s notice.

When I get to be the one who gets to pick his children up from school.

 

Thank you.


For taking care of us, often at the detriment of your time, your energy, your space, your you.

For taking care of us, often at the detriment of your time, your energy, your space, your you.

 

I wanted you to know I see you.

 

How hard you work. Every. Single. Minute. Of. Every. Single. Day.

Putting on your brave face every day. Your calmness when there’s a storm inside. Your certain tone when you don’t know the answer.

 

Sometimes it feels like.

 

We’re plodding along.

We’re ships passing in the night.

 

I didn’t want to let another moment pass without saying it.

Too far apart to see, to feel, to touch.

 

I love you. Thank you.

I love you. Thank you.

 

___

I wrote this for Brian and me today. I think I/we needed it. xo - kdahlface


Journal Day 23: Dazzled

"You must habit yourself to the dazzle of the light and every moment of your life." — Walt Whitman

Today's prompts were well-timed for me.

Today, I am dazzled by...my husband.

I want to pay attention more to…my husband and our relationship.

Thanks to a good, old friend of mine (and now ours) B got to play in a baseball tournament up in Cooperstown (home to the Baseball Hall of Fame and the famed Doubleday Field where the tournament was held) this weekend. For those of you who don't know, B is a HUGE, like GINORMOUS - like there are fans, superfans, and then there's B - baseball fan. It's been a lifetime, but he's a former player too. We decided to make it a family affair since the kids and I had never been. 

While I've discussed pre-kids and post-kids life in terms of me and mostly me - I mean, it's a journal right?!?- what I haven't talked as much about is pre- and post-kids life in terms of B and how little he does that just about him or for him. He works a lot, he supports us a lot, he's here a lot, he does domestic stuff a lot, he does dad stuff a lot, son, brother, son-in-law stuff...not a lot of B stuff. Aside from sports watching, paying attention to, writing, and talking, which he manages to squeeze in between all that other stuff.

So. This. Was. Special. And. Rare. 

The first part of the dazzle (don't tell him because I gave him a really hard time for it) was watching the "gear" arrive over several weeks. The new pants he needed ("you need special pants?"), the jerseys ("don't you already have a jersey?"), the cleats, 2 pairs ("really?" - to be fair, one was returned), the new glove ("you have a glove"), and on, and on, and on. He was excited in a way I don't get to see so often and sometimes probably I don't notice. But, this time I noticed. The twinkle in his eye. He was getting dazzled and I was dazzled by it.

I debated whether or not the kids and I should join, mostly because I didn't want us to ruin his moment. We have needs, issues, logistical constraints. I wanted to be there and knew the kids would get so much from seeing their dad on the field, but I didn't want us to mess it up for him - take away any of his dazzle, that he so much deserved. We risked it.

Right before we left, he asked me, "are you excited at all about this trip?" I was tired, anxious (as I often am before we leave), didn't feel awesome, and said, "no." It wasn't true, but in that moment it was about 96.5% true. I felt badly as soon as I said it. We packed.

There was a long drive. A mediocre motel, rain. Game cancellation. Not much immediately apparent to do with soaking wet kids. But, then, then there was baseball. And well, maybe it was a little bit the uniform, but I was dazzled. It's not often my job to watch my husband do something. To perform. To do something he loves. I've seen him speak a couple of times for work and had a similar feeling, but this was different. Cooler. More dazzling. He played well. He held his own. We cheered. We watched. We listened. We were proud. I was proud.

Maybe I was fulfilling some silly "player's wife" fantasy, but I think it was just kind of awesome to have this time to bear witness to my husband fulfilling a dream, and to really focus on him, and just him, for a whole weekend (minus all the day-to-day family stuff we/he squeezed in seamlessly between the baseball playing). And, well, the uniform(s) didn't hurt either.

Photo (4)

Photo Credit: James Pugner


Proof of Purchase

So, since forever (or more accurately since my high school trip to Europe for which my parents got me a credit card - a silver Citibank Visa to be more specific - at the suggestion of the trip chaperones to facilitate purchases with foreign currencies at better rates), I have tracked all my credit card spending. What this has meant is saving every receipt for every purchase I have ever made on a credit card and cross checking it with the statement that comes each month. I think my mom taught me to do this, more by osmosis than anything else. She was always "doing money." In the beginning, I found this quite a nice activity. It made me feel good; it fed my need for order, being right, being organized, and was yet another way to document my life. For several years, I also stapled all the receipts to the back of the monthly statement and put them in a folder. And for years, when I had few credit card expenses, and no points to earn, this amounted to 5-10 purchases a month. Easy.

Then I starting making a little bit more money. Then I got married and got a card for my husband, Brian, and me associated with points for frequent flier miles, hotel stays, etc. It got us a big discount on our lame honeymoon. Then I started to try to purchase everything on the card to aquire the most amount of points possible. Then I did things like buy more groceries, get a gym membership, become a regular newspaper subscriber, have medical expenses, graduate school, dinners out, and occasional $4 cups of coffee. Brian had the card too now so both of our purchases were on there. It was way more than 5-10 purchases a month. It was closer to 100. Cash was becoming irrelevant for most things in my world. And I loved that our card - now a Starwood American Express - sent me breakdowns of my spending by category, making even more tracking possible.

Somewhere in the middle of our second or third year of marriage - we had recently purchased our first home - I had a panic attack about the tracking I was doing every month. It was taking a full day to do. Brian did not have the same need to track - he literally had a need NOT to track - expenses the way I did. I felt like I was wasting my time but I couldn't stop myself. Online purchases sent me over the edge. I would go through my email and print out receipts and harass Brian for all of his. He was also traveling extensively for work and before we got smart and put those trips on a separate card altogether, they were all mixed up everywhere. I feel anxious just writing about it. I knew not everyone tracked things at this level, but I thought they should. Shouldn't they? I certaintly knew that Brian's laissez faire attitude of just skimming over the statement every month couldn't be right, could it? I had found mistakes before - a few cents here, a few dollars there, a wrong charge altogether. But was it worth it? I didn't know.

And then came the children. And monthly checking became bi-annual checking which meant DAYS of going through receipts. Then came, and I'm ashamed to admit it, a few MISSED payments because I literally forgot to pay them. I'd never been so un-on top of the administration of my life. It was shocking to me (though apparently not to other new moms or former new moms who thought I wasn't above these kinds of mistakes, harumph!). Then follow up calls to the credit card to remove the fee for being late: "I've never been late, except for that time two years ago when I was late paying you after the birth of my FIRST child." Shouldn't there be some kind of exception for mothers of babies? They made them for me at least. But I didn't. I was mortified. I finally put auto pay into effect on every account.

I continued tracking but started to loosen the reins the tiniest bit. The first big step was getting rid of receipts after I cross-checked them with the statement. This may not have saved any time but it certainly tidied up the file drawer and it made me feel good to throw things away. Then, I started to not "need" every receipt. I'd let things slide - a lunch here, a tax ride there. "Sure, that looks right," I'd say, acting for myself. "That amount sounds okay." I wasn't completely comfortable with it but I forged ahead. I started to consider the value of my time over the value of finding what would likely be no or very few small errors. When I was getting paid to work, this kind of attention to this kind of detail would not have been worth my hourly rate at least.

So, last month, I discussed my "issue" briefly with my therapist, oh, and more importantly, talked with one of my BFFs who feels similarly about money. Even she doesn't cross-check receipts and pointed me to Mint*. I signed up for Mint (and downloaded the free iPhone app too) and stopped saving receipts altogether. I don't ask for them, don't keep them, don't want them - except of course for major purchases or for things that I know might need to be returned, or donations to charity, or, no, I think that's it, really. I announced it to Brian and expected him to throw a party in my honor to celebrate but I don't think he believed me right away. It's been pretty freeing so far. I spend a few minutes each week checking my purchases on Mint, and that's it. Now I have time for more important things, like writing really long blog posts about receipts.

*This is not a paid advertisement for Mint. I don't know anyone there and they don't know me. I'm just pretty excited about what they're helping me do - for free, in terms of tracking all my money, debt, goals, budget, etc. and helping me allow myself to be free of receipts.


Best birthday ever

I got to sleep in a little bit, then go to the trainer, who beat me to a pulp (read: planks where I had to reach up and push a ball to her and alternatively slap her hand) and managed to laugh through it. A family walk to the holiday shopping tents at Columbus Circle, where H picked out a new ornament (a school bus) for our tree and we had "Henry and Lucy 2010" written on it. A stop at one of my favorite playgrounds (Heckscher) for some running around. A trip down to TKTS to wait in line - by myself. Tickets secured (at the box office). A night out on the town with dinner that included yummy lobster sliders and a show, Promises, Promises, with my favorite guy in the whole world. Parents to babysit the kids who didn't fuss or make us worry about leaving, and a night in a borrowed hotel apt thanks to B's parents, with window coverings that when fully utilized make me not know what time it is and enabled me to sleep until 8:30 when my body dramatically reminded me that I'm still breastfeeding. A spontaneous trip down to my old hood for the best vanilla latte and a surprising croque monsieur. An easy time hailing a cab in windy rain storm back home to happily engaged children who were so happy to see us. So lucky, so thankful.

There's only one catch: It was Brian's birthday, not mine. I hope he had fun too.


Little Things

Some things I'm thankful for RIGHT now:

1. Singing Empire State of Mind with Henry (accompanied by Alicia Keyes and JayZ) during bath time tonight and having him belt out, "New York, New York."

2. The anticipation of spending an hour with Henry tomorrow, just the two of us, in a cooking class. So thrilled to be able to focus on him completely AND maybe learn a thing or two in the kitchen.

3. A husband who rushes home in a taxi from the airport and asks me to keep Henry up so he can see him (and finish bedtime) because he won't see him in the morning.

4. Glee - and the Season Pass I created for it (don't ask why we didn't do this sooner) - and the fact that the last song of the premier episode tonight was What I Did for Love from A Chorus Line, one of my favorite shows EVER.

5. Speaking of Broadway, the fact that I got to take my 10-year-old niece to her first Broadway Show (Wicked) this weekend and she and I both had an amazing time...and hopefully it added a little magical inspiration to her life, like it always does to mine.

6. I thought Gossip Girl was on tonight, but it's on Mondays so I missed it. Ah, but Brian Season Passed it last week. That makes 2 for the husband (#3) and two for TiVo Season Passes (#4).

7. Infant Tylenol for baby fevers and teething. The newer non-recalled version.

8. A baby who through her fever and teething, went with me to an appointment, actually enjoyed most of her first music class with her big brother and a whole bunch of chaos there, and an afternoon trip to the park with more toddlers and chaos, even if she made me carry her all the way home (I forgot a carrier). It was a workout, but I loved being needed in that particular way in that particular moment.

9. The Double BOB, that allowed #8 to be possible. I don't think another stroller, with a toddler in it, would have done the same.

10. Which brings us back to the toddler again (#1, #2). Man, do I love him. Through all of our turmoil and battles of late, there's no one I'd rather learn about life from - the ferries, the puppets, the dogs, the people, the love...the fact that sometimes the only way to express himself is to cry and (standing barefoot on the sidewalk) throw shoes in the direction of my head as I sit on the steps outside of music class with his baby sister crying in her carrier, well, because, a stranger (a fellow music class adult) touched, or rather, helped move him (gently) out of the way so people could get by with a stroller, and he wasn't ready to move so he wasn't moving even though I had asked him to move several times already, but could not reach him to help him move myself. It's really tough to be two.


S***show

So, I'm pretty sure someone hacked my blog to write that last post about two not being harder than one. I mean, the sentiment is great, but it really feels like a s***show around here these days. I don't write posts like this often because I really, really don't want comments where people are all supportive and tell me it will get better and we're doing great, etc. Seriously, I don't. Ask my mom and my sister and my husband. I know all that already, but right now I'm tired and cranky and want to live in this moment.

I was having breakfast with a friend the other day - she also just had her second - and I was saying how I'm not being the mom I want to be right now and that's probably the hardest part of this. Not that H and I didn't have our tough days and moments before but we had our relationship down, our family of three, our individual and collective dynamics. And, well, now it's a s***show. I'm mourning the relationship I had with my son - I don't want to yell at him when he drops/throws his sister across the room. I don't want to tell him to stop turning the light switch on and off for the millionth time. I don't want to tell him to not go over to L's crib and try to wake her up from her nap. I don't want him to cry to me because HE wanted to get the wipes for me and I already had them in my hand. I know much of this is two and a half year old behavior without the baby sister part, but it does feel quite amplified. I want all the fabulous moments. I'll keep the ones where he kisses L all over and tells me that he loves her, or when he wakes up from a nap all tired and cute and puts his head down on her chest to rest a little bit more and snuggle with her. Or when he says, "I want L to come over and read the story with us." Or when he shows her a postcard of AMNH and says, "L, that's OUR museum." Or when he sees something and says, "L, did you see that?" I know, just like with one, and with everything else, you can't pick and choose which parts you want, but why not already?

I'm also mourning my relationship with my husband. We went through this the first time too, a period of unrest, needing to find our way again, our new normal. But like everything else right now, it just feels amplified. I think I'm also less patient - like yeah, yeah, I know we need to go through this, but can we move on already?

The same friend I went to breakfast with the other day told me about an analogy that her husband's best friend (who already has two) shared with her husband when he asked what he could do to not make her "hate" him right now. The more experienced father of two said (and I'm paraphrasing here), "You're like the president of BP, your kids are the oil, and your wife is the Louisiana coast line. Your kids are spilling out all over the place and severely damaging your wife, and there's nothing you can say or do to make it better." This made my day for several reasons: 1. it's so true, 2. it's so timely, and 3. it's so true. Hopefully, we, our husbands, and the Louisiana coastline* will all recover as quickly as possible.

I'd be remiss if I didn't say how much I am loving L. She's so damn awesome. She smiles at me - and other people too, and laughs, and watches and listens to everything her brother does. I really think she loves him already. She goes along for the ride, wherever it takes us, and is being very cooperative at night. Like her mom, she lets me know IMMEDIATELY when there's a problem and I do my best to solve it as quickly as possible. I go between wanting her to get older faster so I can discover more about her and how the family and sibling dynamics will work themselves out, and wanting her to be this cute little age forever. I could do without the blowouts though...and there, we've come full circle. It's all a s***show.

*And, no, I am not really trying to say that what we are going through is the same as the death and horrific devastation caused by the BP oil spill.


anywhere

Yesterday afternoon, B and I had several minutes to watch a TiVoed episode of The Amazing Race. Okay, I watched the whole thing and he watched much of it while he took turns packing for his trip to SXSW, cuddling with me, and becoming the fifth member of a marching band in our apartment.

Over the years, B and I have often fantasized about being participants on the show. With my navigational abilities and his strength and agility, we would most certainly be top contenders - even (or maybe especially) if they revived the failed Family version of the show.

The couple that was sent home in the episode we watched yesterday was a grandmother/granddaughter pair. As they walked off into the rest of their lives, the granddaughter said, "so what's the next adventure?" to which the grandmother replied, "I'll go anywhere with you." I nearly cried. Okay, there were a few tears. Just a lovely unscripted moment on what I think is the best reality TV out there. It's also exactly how I feel about B. And, it's the best feeling in the world.

Maybe we should sign up to try to get on the show. We might need to wait a bit, unless they bring back an infant and toddler version of the show.


fuzzy math

1. Me = too hard on Me

2. B = too hard on B

3. Me = too hard on B

4. B = NOT hard on Me

Would like to solve all four equations, but trying to change #4 to look more like #3 has proved wholly ineffective. I really need to figure out the key to changing the #3 (and #2 and #1, and yes, in that order) so they all look like #4. Luckily, I don't think H figures (directly) into these equations yet.

And, for the record, this post has been in my head for a long time. This is not a current current event.


Counting the ways

Seriously. I don't know what I did to deserve you, but thank you for quietly being patient with me - over and over again. Today's topic: window coverings. You listened, looked, and responded to countless "if, then" scenarios over two different sittings in an effort to help me try to figure out which window coverings will be best when you don't really care very much which one gets chosen. And, somehow, you managed to keep a straight face when the final decision was to order several swatches of the version you would not have chosen in the first place. You know what not to say and how to not say it and how to keep me sane while I'm likely driving you insane, but you somehow stick with me, far after I'm done sticking with myself.

And, to cap it off, you suggested and made tea - with just the right amount of honey - for me at the start of our evening and delivered three cookies when I asked for one or two at the end, just because.

Thank you.