January Registration- This Cannot Be Happening

January RegistrationA few days ago, I received an envelope in the mail… the one I’ve dreaded.  It was an envelope from the Registrar; the one that says “January Registration.”

I remember the first time I received this envelope.  It was January of 2012 when the registration forms for Buddy and Goose arrived.  I met that envelope with a mixture of excitement and worry.

Kindergarten will be so great for them!  They will learn so much! I hope they’re ready.  Of course they are! I hope they can make friends.  They’ll be fine! And so on until the day came that they climbed the steps of the bus for the very first time.

But this envelope is for Bear… and the emotions that go with it are more complex.  This is my youngest.  My baby.  The last.  I took the mail from the mailbox, saw the envelope, sat in my car and cried.  He is my baby, but he is also my partner in crime, my best friend.

When the Buddy and Goose started school, it was me and Bear.  For the first time, I have regular periods of time with one child… alone.  My attention is not divided by 3.  We have adventures.  We go to cafes that I wouldn’t dare bring 3 kids into.  I joke that he’s the best boyfriend that I’ve ever had, and it’s true. When we go to the diner and he’s impatient waiting for food, I tell him that while we wait we should talk because that’s what grown ups do.  When I ask what he’d like to talk about, he grins and says, “You, momma.  Let’s talk about you.”

When I’m shopping and manage to pick out a few things for myself, he insists that I try them on before we leave. “We have to go to the dressing room, momma.  I’ll hold the hangers.”  And he does.  And he doesn’t complain.  Ever.

On Christmas, the kids were all given Kindle Fires.  When I was setting them up the night before, I noticed that one didn’t seem quite right, but I wasn’t sure.  Confession:  I made a conscious choice to give the wonky one to Bear, because I knew that if it was defective, he’d be able to handle it without a meltdown.  It was broken.  I told him a replacement would come on Saturday.  He didn’t bat an eyelash.  When Saturday came and I was notified that the package wouldn’t arrive until Monday, again, no problem.  When UPS arrived Monday with his Kindle, he was SO EXCITED, but by a cruel twist of fate… it was also broken.  Disappointed but not a tear, he asked if I could order him a new one.  I said I would.  He moved on.  If it had been Buddy’s Kindle that needed  replacing twice, you might have heard him screaming clear across the globe.  If it had been Goose’s, there might have been weeping, or at minimum sulking. Bear accepts change and disappointment with an ease I wish I had.  He teaches me daily that an unexpected change of plans is an opportunity and not a crisis.

I’m going to need to channel his inner-calm come September, and I will because I have to, but it will still feel like a breakup.

And I Ran… Not So Far Away

Happy New Year!  Smoooooch!

Sorry that I’ve been away so long, but the holidays will do that.

Here’s the end of year synopsis: Party 2 (for my company) was a smashing success…. but the hoopin’ never happened. It was too hectic and too crowded to get a good hoopin’ going.

Christmas: we had guests in town.  I love them, but I cannot stand people in my house for more than 3 days.   I just can’t.  I go berserk.  I’m slightly antisocial.  Everywhere I went, someone else was already there.  I run into this without house guests (including myself, there are three adults, and three children, normally), add two more adults and it’s more than I can handle.  It’s a personality defect; it’s not their fault.  But I feel much more stable now that they have gone home.  Sadly, when I checked my fish tank (which is in the room they were staying in) after they left, I realized that Goose’s fish is missing and presumed to have been my tiger barb’s lunch.  So far, she hasn’t noticed.

My children received an excess of gifts. It absolutely makes me crazy.  We purchased two gifts per child to keep things reasonable, but the grandparents went overboard as usual.  I will need to cull the toy herd before the new semester starts and I become too tired to care that I’m being slowly suffocated under a pile of toys and whatnot.  On one hand, I’m happy we can give them everything they need and much of what they want, but on the other hand, they have so much and others do without food let alone a considerable bounty from China.

Tiny Blue Tree

Tiny Blue Tree

Next year, they will get necessities for Christmas: clothes, books.  No toys.
The grandparents do enough of that. We will find a place to volunteer or buy gifts for people in need instead of more junk for this place. We gave to Toys for Tots, but I know we can do better.  It seems like it becomes a circus regardless of how hard I try to make it something more significant.   I’d like to skip Christmas altogether next year… maybe just celebrate the change of seasons or something.

There’s a picture of my silly blue plastic $20 tree.   I really love it.  It’s silly enough to make me happy, in spite of putting up a tree when I would rather not, just to keep the grandparents off my back.   I know, I know…. “Bah Humbug”. I can’t help it, and the harder I try to like the holiday, the more I don’t.

Don’t worry, the kids had a fantastic time opening their loot (even without any of the Santa stuff), although they still haven’t played with everything. We had dinner at my brother’s in Connecticut. We had a lovely time visiting family and over stuffing ourselves.

So, how did I bring in the new year?  Bowling.  I am soooooo exciting, right?

2011: It’s off to a rough start.  January 1, I spent running software updates at work… epic badness.  They failed so fantastically that I had to restore the database and reinstall a former version of the software.  Since then, the phone system has malfunctioned and a print server died.  Lucky I’m not superstitious or I might think this is an omen for the rest of the year.

On Sunday, frustrated from the previous day’s mishaps in server-land, and encouraged by the reasonable warmth of the day, I ran for the first time in two months.  Granted, it was only two miles, but it felt great!  2 glorious miles of me, alone with my thoughts and some Black Eyed Peas in my iPod, running along slowly…. or maybe it was more of a jog then a run.  Does anyone even say “jog” anymore?  Seems like everyone runs and no one jogs these days.  Wasn’t it the other way around a decade to two ago?

Anyway, as I said, it felt great!… That is, until I returned home and promptly stepped in a giant pile of dog  excrement. Poo. Poo on my running shoes.

Oh well.

This year:  I’m looking forward to warmer days for more running (I’m too wimpy to run if it’s too cold),  maybe I’ll finally run a 5k, get another couple of semesters under my belt toward my MBA, complete some great projects at work, and spend some quality time with my family.  Those kids of mine are getting too big, too fast.

There’s much to do, but if I’m not busy, I’m bored.

So, bring it on 2011… and bring your gremlins and your poo, too.

“We should be painful for the things we love”

“We should be painful for the things we love.”

He meant “thankful”, of course, but was he wrong?

I started thinking about the holiday season and the inevitable pile of angst that it dumps on me like a steaming load of manure. Wonder what to get and for whom. Ponder if there’s anyone we can skip this year. Debate the relative merits of sending cards versus email notes. Rush around. Spend money (lots of it and mostly on stuff that won’t get used by the recipient). Rush some more. Curse Dominick the Donkey. Spend more money. Rush more just for good measure. And for what? A 20 minute cyclone of gift wrap and cardboard boxes followed by an epic case of exhaustion.

I don’t care for it.

But I started thinking about why Thanksgiving always seem to top my list of favorite holidays. It’s not the turkey, I rarely eat it. It’s not really the food at all, although it plays a part.

It’s the beautiful simplicity of it. Thanksgiving. Be thankful. Appreciate your life and the people in it. Beautiful. It’s secular, so it welcomes everyone. There are no invented characters involved, designed to sell me or my children anything we don’t need. It’s a day to get together with the people we love to share a meal and share ourselves.

For my family, there’s a gathering of some of my siblings and their children, some other family, and a handful of good friends. We usually net around 20 people. We talk, we reminisce, we stuff ourselves silly, talk some more and stumble home in our blissful turkey comas.

All of the goodness of the holidays with none of the drama. I love it.

But, as Buddy said, “We should be painful for the things we love.” And everyone I love seems obsessed with the holidays.

As such, I will, in spite of my misgivings, try my hardest to be sporty about the holidays. I will purchase the gifts, and wrap them. I will wonder whether the recipient will like it. I will stress about the expense. I will loathe the rushing around. I will put up a tree that will get knocked down (I just bought the world’s ugliest pre-lit artificial tree. It is baby blue. It was $20. I love it.). I will hang ornaments on it that will get broken by the children or smashed by the cats. I will mail cards to the people I wish I saw more often. I will smile my bestest smile, and secretly wish that every holiday was Thanksgiving.

Hope you all enjoy Thanksgiving with the people you love best.

I know I will.