To make a long story short, I have hypothyroidism. Only for real.
So I didn’t get the job.
Before you offer your condolences, I’m okay with it. Sorta. More along the lines of “You broke up with me before I could break up with you.” Ultimately, I knew I wouldn’t take the job, but no one likes to feel rejected. It is, in fact, only the 3rd time ever I have interviewed for a job and not received an offer. This feeling is weird, but I’ll get over it. (This is just me stating facts, haters.)
I found out I didn’t get the job the same week as my birthday. For the first time EVER, I was not looking forward to my birthday and that’s odd. I’m usually all into my birthday because I am awesome and like to take at least one day a year to celebrate said awesomeness.
Instead I spent the day in back-to-fricking-back meetings, doing double duty on pick-up and drop off because Mr. O had a haircut after work, then bitching him out because he didn’t actually wish me Happy Birthday until I reminded him it was my birthday… at 8:00 pm.
Then I cried. Then Chick fell and hit his head. And we both cried.
My birthday present to myself was a historic tour 5K. (#runningnerdalert) We were supposed to do it as a family– me, Mr. O, and Chick in the stroller. I was all set, but Mr. O fell ill so he stayed home with Chick. Instead of the family run I had been hoping for, I was going solo.
On my way to the meeting point (alone) I thought:
I’m just tired of being disappointed.
That’s where I’m at these days. I’m disappointed in so many things, I can’t even begin to list them (and we know how I love lists.) Nothing is out and out terrible any more –infertility and death of a loved one have a strange way of putting things in perspective. But I’m left with this general residue of severe let-down-ed-ness. And I don’t think I have been asking the Universe for too much. Honestly.
A few years ago at Christmas, my family requested a list of things I wanted as gifts. This has been a contentious issue for years– my family is notoriously cheap so you can’t recommend anything over $20 which is tricky because if I see something I want that is under 20 bucks, I’ll just buy it my damn self. Anyway… I spent a lot of time coming up with a few ideas that I wanted, needed, and magically came in around budget.
I had asked for a pair of black gloves and a Stevie Wonder CD. Instead I got a pair of socks from my brother, a book of poetry (by my dad’s favorite poet) from my parents, and a statement necklace from the J. Crew sale rack from my sister. Oh, and I also got the gift of white hot rage, because I was pissed. Why ask what I want when you’re just going to get me what you want anyway?! Then I felt horrible because I also felt ungrateful.
Because on top of feeling disappointed that my life right now is not what I would like it to be, I also feel immensely guilty for not being grateful. I have a good job, a roof over my head, a mostly decent spouse when he remembers not to be an idiot on my birthday… I look down at Chick and am filled with a wee bit of self loathing because he doesn’t make up for all the short-comings. It took me ages to have this baby, shouldn’t he just wipe away all my cares and woe? (Um, no… because it is uncool for a parent to make their child responsible for all the happiness in the world. Or at least that is what I tell myself for feeling like a bad person when Chick isn’t the only reason my day is awesome/shit.)
Should I pull an Oprah and list out my gratitude? That’s a little too Shiny Happy People for me… Besides, I’ve always hated this exercise because it seems to imply that if you have anything to be grateful for, you magically shouldn’t care about all the serious crappy things going on.
Good things in life don’t erase the bad ones. They just add to the texture.
I have cried every day since last Sunday.
I view what happened in Orlando as a deep, painful rupture of our humanness. 49 beautiful lives are gone. To say that this breaks my heart is a complete understatement.
As with all tragedies I’ve experienced over that last few years– the public and the private– I am shocked that the world has the audacity to keep spinning. In a few short days, we’ve turned from outrage at the shootings in Orlando to the regular drone of pointlessness that is American pop culture. The only related trending topic in my FB feed this morning was about JK Rowling sending flowers to victims. That’s nice of her and all… but.. What the actual f@ck, people?!
As much as this is devastating to me as a fellow human, I recognize that my friends and family who are gay experience this tragedy on a different level. I’ve done my best to avoid knee jerk reactions, to sit back and listen, to offer support when I can. I struggle to find the *right* words to say, worrying that I’ll contribute to hurt and fear instead.
Then I realized that perhaps my relative silence was part of the problem, because the rest of the world seems to be going silent or brushing this under the rug. I don’t want to be complicit.
Growing up, I went to a Quaker school. If you don’t know, Quaker service revolves around the act of silence. Imagine getting school kids to sit still for any period of time… Yeah, it was a challenge. And yet, it taught me that there is a value to periods of reflection, and there is a value to finding your voice and speaking from the silence.
My first instinct is Love. Because that has been my saving grace so many times before. It isn’t much, but it’s a place to start.
I feel like I should tell you all about my first mother’s day as a mother. It was, however, fairly uneventful.
Last year, it was an absolutely train wreck with much crying in public. I remember it was a beautiful spring day with flowers in bloom and trees being… trees. I feel betrayed by the weather, because in my heart it didn’t feel like spring. I was missing my mom, conflicted about pregnancy, and unsure how I was going to do any of this without her.
This year, the weather again thumbed its nose at my internal emotions. Because this year, I was feeling okay. And this year, it was cold, rainy, and generally miserable.
There is a mother’s day tradition in my neighborhood– Lilac Sunday. The arboretum near by opens its gates to moms, dads, kids, and food trucks, and gives tours of the lilac collection which is usually in full bloom by this point. There is usually sunshine. There are usually people picnicking.
This year, it was a rainy mess, but we trudged on anyway. I mean, after spending a week in the rain with a 10 month old in Amsterdam, how much different could it be spending an afternoon in the rain with a 10 month old in my hometown?
Truthfully, not that different. Again Chick decided that strollers were for chumps and insisted on being carried. (You’d think I would learn…) This meant that one of us had to carry Chick, and the other one had to walk behind carrying an umbrella to make sure the Supreme Leader stayed dry. I felt like a Victorian manservant. (Note: That might be the title of my parenting memoir, were I to write one.)
After that, we came home. Chick and Mr. O napped. I went to the grocery store and made Chick’s dinners for the week. I won’t lie, there is a part of me that is extremely annoyed that those roles were not reversed. Then again, I got a few hours of quiet which was also a nice gift.
So there it was. Nothing too special, but then again I don’t think I wanted much more. What I struggle with is why. Is it because I don’t generally get amped about holidays? Is it because mother’s day represents one huge-festering sore, one part infertility and one part mom grief?
I do not cringe when I see pregnant women anymore. This is a fairly recent development- I would say that in the last few months I have had practically no twinges when friends or colleagues announce pregnancies. It feels like progress, something like acceptance of the emotional turmoil of last few years.
I now cringe when I see women with their mothers. I also cringe when I see women who would have been my mom’s age. Or who have her hair, which was once thick and black but gracefully turned salt-and-pepper gray.
This whole dead mom thing… that still aches. On mother’s day, and everyday.
This morning, my coworker Robin came by my desk. The usual “Hi/Good morning/How are you” commenced. He responded with “*Sigh* I’m tired.”
Robin is the father to a three year old. He could be tired for a number of reasons. I didn’t pry, and continued eating my Cheerios.
But he lingered and we made a little chit chat until Pea came over (His daughter has been in and out of the doctor’s office with, it turns out, mono. Babies get mono. Who knew?)
Pea made an off hand remark about how things were with Robin.
“We lost it.”
At my desk. At 9:20 in the morning. My coworker is openly talking about how his wife miscarried this week at 8 weeks. As you may recall, Robin and his wife suffered a miscarriage late in their last pregnancy. They are facing it again, and my heart breaks for them. There was a part of me that wanted to scream “Good god, man… GO HOME!” But we all have our ways to dealing with grief. I told him that if he ever wanted to grab a cup of tea, just ask.
(Aside: This lead to a very odd series of comments from Pea about how this is okay, good things are coming, etc. I wanted to push him, because this is NOT okay, good things aren’t always coming along, and sometimes things are just fucking miserable. Pea, of course, comes with his own set of losses so he knows this sting. I suppose this is just my way of pointing out that people who experience pregnancy loss can still be emotionally tone deaf.)
With my recent CD1, the idea has cropped up that Mr. O and I might try for another baby. You see, we have one on ice. Just one. I realize the chances that this one will thaw and become an actual human baby aren’t terribly high. But hope is there, somewhere in cryogenic deep freeze. The other day, I was looking at Chick and Mr. O playing together and thought “There is a 70%* likelihood that this is it for us. This is my family.” And you know what? I am okay with that.
Until this morning, I hadn’t also applied this statistic to the other side of the coin: There is high probability that my hypothetical pregnancy could fail. I’ve fortunately never experienced a miscarriage, but I don’t know that I could handle it– especially if I lost the only embryo we have left.
I don’t know what my point is exactly… Maybe just to say that these are wounds that never really heal.
*Based off the statistic that only 20-35% of IVF cycles result in a live birth. I rounded a little to a 70/30 split. Sad sack stats, but thems the breaks for us infertiles.
Here’s my realization on juggling parenting, working, and life-ing: When it works, it is awesome. When it doesn’t, it is a complete shit show. There are no in betweens.
On a good day– when Chick wakes up well, eats well, gets to daycare on time, and my day is only 50% meetings– I feel like this is all totally doable. Harried, but doable.
If one tiny thing is off– say Chick pees and pukes all over the place, requiring two changes of clothes before 8:15 am– the rest of my day is off kilter. It’s like a domino effect of crap.
So when something big is off– say my daycare saying the our Early Intervention coordinator is no longer allowed to come for her weekly visits with Chick– it is like napalm has been dropped into my otherwise happy little existence.
I’m not going to go into details because this is an evolving thing– in fact, denying access to the EI coordinator could actually be illegal. I seriously doubt that this will end up in court, but you know… just in case.
I will say that on Tuesday I was given less than 24 hours notice, and found myself scrambling to make sure Chick could keep meeting with his EI coordinator. He has been making great progress, hitting all the major milestones, and I like to think that is in part because of the extra care and attention he is receiving. So imagine my surprise panic when the director told me that they wouldn’t be accommodating EI visits anymore.
The rest of the week has just been miserable. The emails back and forth, trying to understand what is going on with daycare, balancing this with work, all day trainings, presentations that I literally made up IN THE MEETING 5 minutes before I was about to go on, a job interview… On one hand, I give myself props for not completely dropping any one ball.
On the other hand, I’m tired. TIRED.
Then I got an email about sippy cups which sent me over the edge. As if it weren’t enough that I’m barely keeping up at work and daycare is being remarkably inflexible and vague, I’m apparently supposed to be introducing sippy cups to Chick now? WTF? How did I miss the parenting memo on SIPPY CUPS?! I AM THE WORST PARENT EVER!
After some sobbing (which may or may not have been in the shower at 6:15 in the morning while I was also trying to wash my hair and brush my teeth,) I got my shit together and realized I am not the worst parent ever. I’m just like every other parent– trying their damnedest to keep up.
The other day, my brother posted something ominous on Facebook. One of those “something isn’t quite right” posts. So I reached out to him over email and asked what’s going on.
A lot of no good, that’s what. I won’t go into details, but basically he’s dealing with his own shitstorm.
And I know a thing or two about shitstorms, amiright? Like a good sibling, I offered up my version of a pep talk.
ME: So often in the past few years, I’ve had to remind myself that we don’t pick the challenges we face in life. But we do decide how we’ll get through them. So I guess the question is, how do you want to get through this? This isn’t a question that you need to answer for me. More like a question I ask myself all the time (it seems like) and helps me refocus.
BRO: I choose to think of what is happening to me right now like living through a hurricane. You hunker down and wait for sunny skies.
My first reaction was “Wrong answer.” Amended to “Wrong answer for me. I need to scream into the storm.”
The trouble is that when you treat your life as a hurricane you assume that the hard stuff is temporary. That what you’re going through will pass. What if it doesn’t? What if these proverbial sunny skies don’t actually materialize?
Is this how we divide up the world? Into hunker-downers and storm-screamers? I don’t mean to imply one is inherently better than the other. My brother, for example, wouldn’t find my tactics of facing my trauma head on remotely do-able. Honestly, it would likely be more harmful to him. Just like for me, the hunker down method would probably deaden me inside. (Dramatic, but also accurate.)
There is, of course, a value to conserving emotional energy. I know now that I sometimes need help, to admit I can’t do “ALL THE THINGS.” This has been one of the many painful lessons I’ve learned. But there is a part of me that feels my brother is being naive in thinking that it will get better.
Does this make me a jaded asshole?