Monday, June 27, 2011

The New Zoo Revue

Anybody else remember the New Zoo Revue from the '70s? Sigh. husband, stepdaughter and I took a trip to the National Zoo this past weekend...along with about 1.5 million other people. Seriously. 

Some things we learned at the Zoo: 

  • Cheetahs only eat prey 90 pounds or less...i.e. children vs. adults. No wonder so many adults bring their kids to the zoo. 
  • Maned Wolves have really really smelly pee. I think that there may also be a Maned Wolf living behind the dumpster at the movie theater across the street from our apartment because I smelled a similar odor on my walk the other day. 
  • Orangutans like to eat soap bubbles and then spit them out and then re-eat them over and over...similar to what many children do in the bathtub. The louder people gasp and "eww" the more fun the orangutan has with this activity.
  • Golden Lion Tamarins are really really adorable and I want one for a pet. So bad.
  • People will stand for hours in large groups in hopes of glimpsing a Giant Panda. The Giant Panda will hide for hours and hours and laugh mockingly at the humans.
  • You can take a child to the National Zoo where they will see a variety of exotic and unusual animals, but they will be most enchanted by the local chipmunk running amok in the park's landscaping. 
  • When a stranger's child points at a donkey and says "Daddy" is not ok to laugh out loud and say "Meh, same difference". The stranger's child's parents (and your own husband) will not find this amusing. 

Friday, June 24, 2011

Why I Am Not Allowed to Touch Anything

For the past 2 weeks, the 3 of us have been living in a furnished one-bedroom high-rise apartment. I'd like to emphasize the one-bedroom part here because this was not/is not my ideal living situation. But, to my husband's credit, it IS temporary, it IS much cheaper and it really hasn't been as bad as I imagined it would be. 

(*Sidenote: I have had the sliding glass door to our apartment unit balcony open all day to let in the pleasant fresh breeze...and once every hour or so, I get a waft of marijuana smoke through the door. Ah apartment living. I wonder what apartment its coming from? I bet they have a good stock of snacks...)

Anyway, I digress...the reason I started typing today's blog is because I got bored with my previous task. You see...I have spent the last 20 minutes or so (give our take an hour) attempting unsuccessfully to open the bedroom window. At first it was about the fresh air (and no, not the Mary Jane wafting in), but then it just became a task of will. A fight between myself and The Window. I fear I have been defeated. The Window has won.  And given my previous history of breaking things in this apartment, I decided it would be best for me to take a break from this endeavor and accept my defeat before I did some serious damage. What have I broken in the apartment, you ask? Umm...pretty much EVERYTHING.I.TOUCH. To the point where my stepdaughter informed me that I am not allowed to touch things. We will have to wait for daddy to come home and do it. 

Here's the list:
  1. Door handle to the sliding glass door (Popped right off while I tried to open the balcony door about 10 minutes after arriving). Cracked me up, but no one else found it funny. Hmph.
  2. Thingy you turn to open the venetian blinds and slide said blinds to left to allow light into the apartment (just detached itself right into the palm of my hand and despite multiple tries, I could not re-attach). My husband re-attached it in about 4 seconds flat and I haven't touched it since.
  3. The vacuum cleaner. (Vacuuming away and the rubber belt thingamajig popped right off). To MY credit this time, I fixed it myself and I do believe that said vacuum is working even better than before). Also to my credit, I vacuumed.
  4. A glass. Ok, my husband doesn't know about this and he would never have noticed if I didn't mention it here on this blog because he is infamously unobservant (sorry, honey) so I have no clue why I am outting myself. But, I learned that you should not stack glass glasses (or perhaps the specific kind of glasses that came with the apartment because when you try to unstack them, they will stick and when you force them apart, a shard of glass from the top of the inner glass with propel from the glasses and try to stab you. ( my husband...if you are reading...before you judge, let me remind you of the $10 wine glass you broke in NC and never told me about until I realized that one had "gone missing"). Love you.
Today, I almost ALMOST washed the remote control. It seemed to have somehow gotten wrapped up in the sheets of our bed and wound up in the washing machine. I suspect my husband, who loves the remote control so much he panics if he can't see it, may have cuddled with it last night while sleeping. Luckily, I made a great save because if something happened to the remote...that would have been the end of me. Seriously.

Two nights ago, I spilled not only a full glass of water but also a half glass of red wine (I spilled the water while making a save for the wine glass) all over the table and the game of Life and the floor and the chair. Huge disaster. I am actually pretty amazed at how calm everyone stayed. We all pitched in to clean it up and then continued with our game. My new family must be getting used to my way of adding excitement to their lives. :o)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Can't Imagine Why You're So Exhausted

A good friend of mine (thanks for the blog fodder!), after viewing my new blog, stated that she too wished she had been keeping a blog, but simply couldn't find the energy. My immediate thought to this statement was "well, have 3 kids"! Just thinking about that makes me feel exhausted!

Since becoming a stepmom, I have been left alone with my stepdaughter only a handful of times. Some of these moments have been pleasant and fun (fooling me into thinking that parenting or step-parenting must be a piece of cake) and other moments have been straight out of a comedic sitcom where I am left uncertain with which one of us has suffered the biggest meltdown. (*Some of my friends might recall the Saturday morning when my husband stepped out for short spell and within 5 minutes, the dog ran away, significant amounts of red juice were spilled on our cream-colored carpet and on my stepdaughter's beloved fuzzy blanket, and I sprayed an equally significant amount of aerosol carpet cleaner in my eyebawl...resulting in 2 people [myself and my stepdaughter] running around in tears and panic).

To be sure...if I didn't already have a great amount of respect for all who wear the title of  "Parent"...I certainly do now. Its no joke. And, as we have learned in the game of Life, once you open your life to offspring, you can't simply "give them back". As a stepparent, I suppose I have a little more leeway here (and I can't count the number of times in the last year that I have thought to myself "what did I do?"), but I love my husband and my stepdaughter too much to walk away from this...I married them both..."in good times and in bad." I have to remind myself that even biological parents don't know what they are doing sometimes and that after 10 months of being a stepparent...I really shouldn't expect myself to be great at this "parenting" stuff yet either.

So, as it happened, last week I was tasked with the responsibility of taking care of my stepdaughter on my own while my husband was at work. For 5 days. full-time parents...laugh as you will. A mere 5 days. Yet this was one of the longest weeks of my life. Not because it was wholly unpleasant, because it wasn't. But, because well....its exhausting. You can't just "check out" and God forbid if you try to, you will be quickly reminded that you are not alone and that 5 minutes of one activity is plenty and so its time to find something new to do. Now now now. In fact, just as soon as I got comfortable with one endeavor, my stepdaughter was ready to move on to the next. And, if were content reading quietly by the pool, your child will definitely want you to come watch what they can do in the water a minimum of 4 times every minute. And so it goes. 

If there was ever any doubt in my mind that stay-at-home parents have their work cut out for them...I know for sure now that they work harder everyday than I ever did in any corporate job. No breaks. No quiet commute time. No after-work happy hour drinks. Just back-to-back meetings with little humans, negotiating incentives and consequences; planning feeding times and play times; convincing them that your ideas are worth a try; and hoping, just hoping, that they will remember Boss Appreciation day this year.

I am glad that my stepdaughter and I have a bond. Especially since I know that it likely won't always be that way. I am also glad that I got to experience stay-at-home parenthood because now I know for sure it is not for me. I am too selfish and don't have the energy for it. And you know what, I am ok with that.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Game of Life

The last several evenings, we have been playing the boardgame Life before bedtime. I am a sucker for life's metaphors and this family pasttime provides many. Some things I have learned from the game of Life:

  • Life is a gamble...a mixture of both luck and good decision-making.
  • While a college degree is the way to go in doesn't guarantee you success and wealth. You still have to walk the same path as anyone else.
  • Its a good idea to buy insurance and to pay back your debts early in life.
  • Once you have kids, you can't give them back. (My 7 year-old stepdaughter posed this question).
  • Everything you have can be taken from you in a matter of seconds, so don't get too cocky or comfortable with your fortune.
  • Sometimes you actually have more than you realize you have, so don't waste too much time beating yourself up about being "behind".
  • Along the same lines, you should never assume that someone has more than you just by looking at what they have or seeing a certain confidence in their expression.
  • In the end, we all pretty much end up in the same place.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

"Go with the Flow"...


Nine years ago when I relocated from PA to southern VA, a wise friend gave me one piece of advice on handling the changes I would embark: "Go with the flow", he said. As a planner and, as my husband says, a micromanager, going with the flow is very much against my nature. And yet, when I do succumb to this piece of advice...I must admit I generally feel more relaxed and happy. Or at least that is what I am going to tell myself as I attempt to re-establish that go-with-the-flow mindset.

The past year and a half has brought me many opportunities to test this mindset. And I find that my aptness to fight against the flow, or perhaps my inability to jump into the flow completely without flailing about in resistance and rebellion for fear of losing my essential self, has caused me a great amount of distress, resentment and tears.

You the past year and a half, I have merged households, endured a mystery illness that has morphed my body into something of a stranger and have become a new wife and stepmom. I am now relocating with this new family (a process that feels never-ending) from NC to MD. During this relocation, I am learning about selling a house (I've never even bought a house), finding a new job (in a very different environment than the last time I was unemployed), being a new wife and stepmom (while clinging tightly to my old independent self), and acquiring a better or perhaps renewed self-esteem despite my newly (but hopefully temporary) morphed-out puffy roly-poly appearance. Just a little bit if change. Just a little.

The biggest change/challenge by far is that of becoming a stepmom. Learning exactly what role this is for me, where I fit into this family unit, how to establish boundaries without becoming a cold distant adult in this child's eyes or without becoming the family doormat (which is sometimes how stepmotherhood feels to me), has me tied up in knots of confusion. Recipe for an identity crisis for sure. I find that venting about my frustrations or conflicting emotions to my husband is unfruitful. I love him dearly, but as a non-step-parent, non-people-pleaser...he just doesn't get it. My girlfriends, who are mostly parents of children they birthed themselves can sympathize, but only to a certain degree. So...I turn to the world of stepmommy bloggers for support, advice and comedic relief. While browsing these blogs...I thought...why the heck not...I'll start my own new blog and see where it takes me...

Let this new journey begin...