Wednesday, May 25, 2011

How I'm learning to marathon

It occurs to me that I am using this space intermittently to track my progress of how I'm becoming a marathoner in this life stuff (and the running sense too, ironically) but I'm not being explicit about why I'm doing that. Most of the time as I browse around the internet I see people documenting stuff in their life that is obviously the one and only corner of their life they are willing to let people see in that much detail... only I don't put it together like that. What I see is, "Look at how together these people are, aren't they better than me!" I'm really competitive. It's why I hate playing games. I can't handle seeing my constant life struggles made fun of. Losing feels traumatic. I feel like I just got punched in the face. I have thrown the board at people, decks of cards...

My mom. My mom and I played gin rummy for years and years. She gloated a lot when she won. Not in a severe way. It was subtle. I don't have a clear memory to explain why it bothered me so much but it really did. I was the loser at absolutely everything in my family. I'm tired of always being the one to be the pathetic one. The one who fails. The one who loses. So when I see these blogs all over the internet from these Perfect Attachment Parents! Who are doing everything Right! I feel like shit. I feel like a failure as a parent. I feel like obviously I am this horrible abuser and my children will be damaged and fucked up and traumatized... only they aren't. My children are wonderful. Everyone who speaks to them marvels about how they glow with life and vitality. "They just seem more...aware than most children!" I am truly not a bad parent, even though I yell sometimes. In fact, I am a good parent. And sometimes even a good parent says stupid things like, "If you do that again I am going to hit you. No I am not because hitting is wrong. But dangit Shanna I am going to scream until I feel like my eyes want to pop out of my head and then you will cry and I will fell bad just please stop doing that!!!!" And then she stops doing it and apologizes and I apologize for losing my temper and we hug.

Yeah, I do have anger issues. But in the process of becoming a marathoner I have to acknowledge them. I have to know that I am making progress on dealing with them. I have to know that I am actually proving, beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am a better mother than I had. Even if I can't make 200 cookies for Christmas.

My mother was a sprinter. She went from huge project to huge project. Sprinting isn't just about wanting to move, though that is a component. My mother, DOES CHRISTMAS. She makes pans and pans and pans of cinnamon rolls to give out as Christmas presents to every Tom, Dick and Jane she knows. Even people she frankly dislikes because she needs to be "fair". When I was younger the time to make this many pans of stuff to give away dominated a lot of my life. My experience of Christmas was my mother working and having nothing to do with me.

Just like I'm doing with my kids and documenting on this stupid blog. I don't think I am actually a Narcissist at all, but I think that if I have no formal documentation I don't know how to keep myself accountable. I love my sprints and sometimes I can do them in ways that are healthy for everyone. And sometimes I can't. And it is obvious in my writing when I can't. If I am in here writing that means I am making no progress on my side projects because I am spending all of my other time with the kids and trying to keep the house at a hygienic level.

I don't think I am addicted to substances, though I do use them to help me work (mostly sugar and caffeine). I am documenting my sprints here. Y'all don't know that I didn't start blogging about the gardening stuff until I had done massive amounts of work to get it to a level where I don't feel too pathetic starting off. And the remodeling stuff... you'll notice I haven't posted pictures lately. That would be because I am not willing to put my pride on the alter and show you how messy it is. I want to show final product but I am running out of time. You aren't seeing pictures because I am consciously choosing to spend my time in the house with my kids. I am lowering the stress in my life by resting after my sprint. I am hibernating with my babies.

We are playing and doing tons of arts and crafts. I'm taking pictures. We are learning and growing and talking and exploring. We are back to two movies a week: one on Monday, one on Friday. We have been getting out into the community in small quiet ways. We have been making a point of going to the local breakfast places more and settling in as regulars. We haven't driven down to San Jose just for breakfast in a while. But I love that Donna, at the local Original Pancake House, lights up and yells "Shanna!" and runs over as quickly as she can. Donna's grandsons live across the country and she doesn't get to see them much. She adores Shanna. Randy at the building department went and found his card and told me to call and email with any house owning questions I ever have. He thinks his job as a civil servant is to help the community. I am getting to know my building inspector because I have the same guy every time.

I have small one on one interactions like that and I manage them. There has been a plumbing fiasco, but that will be fixed soon and I am dealing with resolving it bit by bit. I can't handle it in big chunks or my stomach acid production goes through the roof and I am suddenly nasty and yelling. So I am learning that if I have to call the plumbing company I medicate first. Now that we have reached the point of impasse I am writing them a letter and I will mail it as a registered overnight letter so that I don't have to speak to them on the phone again. I am going to schedule the work for the weekend so Noah is home and I am going to sit in my room. It's not rational, but I have ridiculous fear right now. So even though it is irrational I will ask my husband to handle it and I won't be macho because I would start a fight. I would escalate tensions. Noah will passively observe work being done.

That's how you become a marathoner. Right now I have to walk very very slowly through life. I catch up on work and lightly jog a little through the day playing with the kids and doing dishes. Mostly I'm resting. The sprint with my incest stuff is too fresh and if I try to be macho right now I will injure myself metaphorically. It's just not worth escalating my stress levels like that.

This being a grown up thing sucks. Which is to say Liz, yeah. I think you are right.


  1. Blogs are funny things. Just like speech, they can be used in so many different ways and for different purposes, but it can be hard to really understand that all the time. I think Soulemama has a pretty good bit about that written in her "About" section..IIRC she was just saying pretty much that she tries to use her blog to create something beautiful, and that's pretty much what I do, too. Or in my case, more a combination of updating about my major news and trying to show beautiful moments and things from my life to a larger audience (and, if I'm being really honest with myself, to get positive feedback for doing so). One thing for me is that a lot of my family reads my blog, which is ok, we mostly have pretty good relationships, but there are plenty of things I don't feel amazing talking about in that context. Sometimes I toy with the idea of starting an anonymous blog, but that mostly just seems like a pain.

    I've seen discussions about unschooling blogs as too super-optimistic/cheery (and maybe you've seen them too, I think there was one on MDC not too long ago) and while they don't generally strike me that way, I was thinking about that criticism with my own blog. I could read unschooling blogs all day long so that makes me want to write that type of content, but I definitely censor it in certain ways. The main one I think about is food issues. We pretty much do radical unschooling and we certainly don't do food controls, for a variety of reasons. There are articles all over the internet about how they let go of food restrictions and their kid ate a giant back of M&Ms then went back to broccoli, yay. Which, I believe. That's how River was with screen time. He watched and watched and watched for a few months, and since then I've never worried about his self-regulation. But food... it's been a couple of years and he eats, for the most part, pretty terribly. Very terribly, at times. I keep going with it because I still can't think of an idea that seems like a better choice to me. And I think about writing about it, and then I think about the comments about abuse and neglect that even the most positive unschooling stories seem to get sometimes, and I worry, and I don't blog that.

    I was also reminded of this recent article on Offbeat Mama (which kind of rubs me the wrong way a lot of the time, but sometimes there's something):
    I really struggle with both ends of this dichotomy (I wrote a comment about it on the post) and try to think of other ways to present things. And then I get busy, and don't blog at all.

    We've been trying to take things slowly and simply, here, too, and mostly it's going pretty well. Maybe some day I will get around to blogging.

  2. I had a comment and my computer ate it. I'm too lazy to recreate it. Damnit.