And That’s One Ugly Cover

March 2, 2009

I’ve mentioned once or twice in the past that M and I play World of Warcraft (or WoW, as it’s commonly called).  It’s an awesome game, something that has actually helped me grow in many ways, one of which is admittedly embracing my own geekiness.  If you’re in the mood to find a totally addictive, time-consuming hobby, this is a good one.

One of the benefits of WoW is that it encourages social interaction among its players.  There are many goals to be reached in the game that require teams to work together to accomplish.  As a result, I have met many interesting people through the game.  There are stories of people even meeting and marrying through the game.  (Not that it’s that unusual; after all, M and I did meet online as well.)

Some people get to be real friends, even if you have never met them.  It sounds geeky to have happened through an online game, but I suspect all of you can understand.  I’d like to think many of you are friends as well, and I’ve never met you.  Somehow you can get a better idea of who a person is when you get to know them online than you can in person sometimes.

Lately M and I have stumbled across a group of friends who know each other in real life.  Several of them work together, and the others live close enough that they can get together for parties from time to time.  M and I have become observers in the dramas of their lives and how they interact.

One of these new friends is a French guy.  The first time I heard his voice (we often play with voice chat enabled with these friends), I had to laugh.  He sounds exactly like Kermit the Frog with a French accent.  Despite my initial reaction, however, I found myself liking him.  He is a guy who has been through some real crap in the past but has come through it optimistic and good-natured.  He is clearly a loyal friend who would do anything for those he calls friends.

I made a mental picture of him, of course, like I do about anybody I meet online; I’m too visual a person not to.  I assumed he was of a medium height, kind of skinny, dark hair cut short, and probably with glasses because the odds are good anyone you meet through the game is a nerd.  I could tell he was a little introverted from the way he interacts with his friends.

Well, a week or so ago, one of the other new friends we have made friended M on myspace.  She of course has many of our new group of friends on her friends list as well.  M and I spent some time browsing through them all to see how close their pictures matched the mental pictures we had of them.

Most of them were pretty similar to what I’d expected.  The only one that wasn’t even close was the French guy.  He was short, fat in an awkward way, with long, greasy hair.  If I saw him on the street, I would run in the opposite direction, sure I had encountered a pedophile.

As soon as I saw the picture, I discovered why the others treat him the way they do, much the way you would humor a pet.  They take advantage of him, and while they can be nice to him, they also tease him unmercilessly in rather cruel ways.  And if any one of them is upset with another from the group, they take out their frustrations on French guy, like kicking the dog when you’re mad at the world.

Since then, I have realized I have a lesson to learn from this.  I still like French guy.  The guy I’ve gotten to know online is someone to respect, someone I would be proud to call friend.  It does not matter what he looks like, even though I can’t get that awful picture out of my head.  Of course it helps that I will likely never meet him in person, so I can continue with the first mental picture I had of him.  But if I did ever meet him, I would make myself overlook his outward appearance and see only the kind man inside.

It’s a simple lesson–don’t judge a book by its cover–but it’s amazing how learning it firsthand can still take you by surprise.

A Busy Week

August 26, 2008

We’ve got a fairly busy week ahead of us–at least busy for us.  This evening PJ has another ECI evaluation, something that he wasn’t tested for last time.  I’m already expecting it to show a deficit, so I’m really not worried about the evaluation.  It won’t determine whether something is wrong but rather possibly identify better where the deficit is so that we’ll have a better idea of how to work with him to help him improve.

Anyway, that evaluation is tonight, and I really need to do a little cleaning before letting people in my house again.  It’s been embarrassingly long since the floors have been vacuumed.  Oh, and the boys need bathed.  PJ still has cheese from yesterday’s lunch of mac and cheese caked on his nose.  I’d probably better get to that before naptime.

Thursday we have another normal session with his ECI teacher, and I discovered yesterday that PJ’s open house with his MDO isn’t in the evening like I’d assumed.  It’s actually in the morning, about the same time as his ECI session.  We’re going to have to get up early and rush to the open house to be there the second it starts and then make sure we’re out of there in less than forty-five minutes to be home in time for the ECI session.

Then next Tuesday, a week from today, he starts school.  Sigh…not thinking about it today.

In the middle of all this busyness I’m finding myself struggling with myself again.  I have this awful feeling that I’m only giving a half effort into everything I do.  I know I could be doing better as a wife, mother, housecleaner, and even myself.  I could blame the lack of effort on the headaches I’ve had every day or the tummy issues that don’t seem to go away, but I don’t know if that’s it.  I don’t know whether I would really be able to do more if I pushed myself.

Part of it is frustration with my weight.  I’ve never struggled with my weight.  I was that skinny kid who could eat anything in sight and never gain an ounce.  I filled out some in college but still didn’t gain much weight.  I didn’t have a problem after PJ was born either; the pregnancy pounds just melted right off and stayed off.

Right now I’m fifteen pounds above my pre-pregnancy weight and close to twenty above my ideal.  It may not sound like much, but when you consider how tiny I am, it’s a lot.  I’m bordering on overweight for the first time in my life (pregnancy obviously doesn’t count).  I’ve been trying to eat better and exercise more.  Every time I have a good few days with it, a pound will disappear only to be replaced by two more–while I’m still doing better.  So I give up until more weight appears.  Then I try again with no success.

That’s a fast way to lose motivation to take care of myself, when taking care of myself doesn’t have any effect.

And from there I lose motivation elsewhere.  It’s a bad cycle, and I don’t know how to pull myself out of it.

On top of everything, I’ve been struggling a lot with a complete and total lack of energy.  It could be related to the weight issues or the headaches or any number of things; maybe it’s a sign of something different altogether.  Whatever it is, it’s even more frustrating.  When I get motivated to exercise or clean or do whatever, I run out of steam before crossing the first thing off my mental list.  I give up and end up sitting around being lazy, feeling sorry for myself and hating myself for not being a better wife/mother/housekeeper.

I’ve been trying to get better about things, a little at a time.  I’ll make very reasonable goals: cook once a week, do one cleaning chore each day, exercise once a week.  I fail at every one, sometimes before doing it the first time.  It makes me less inclined to make goals when I keep failing at even the easy ones.

I’m sorry this post has turned into such a pity party.  That’s not entirely the intent.  Yes, I need to vent it and get it out there, but I’m also hoping that maybe you guys have an approach to overcome this that I haven’t considered yet.  I’m tired of being like this, otherwise I wouldn’t have mentioned it here.  I just don’t know how to start fixing the problem.  Do you guys have any suggestions?  (And if you don’t know me, please refrain from criticizing me right now.  That’s not going to help the problem.  Please limit your comments to something helpful.)

Some Me Time

July 14, 2008

I guess technically I hit a milestone this weekend.  For the first time since either boy was born, I left the house by myself.  I drove over an hour across town to hang out with my pre-marriage friend and a few of her friends.  We had dinner together and then played the nerdiest game in the entire world (Trivial Pursuit: Book Lover’s Edition), which I discovered I also own later in the evening.  Then I drove a full hour or so back across town.  All by myself.

It turns out I don’t much mind my own company.  It also turns out that I can indeed go five hours without once mentioning a poopy diaper.  My friend and her friends were all single; only one even had a boyfriend (what do you expect from a group of nerds who spend Friday night playing Trivial Pursuit?).  I knew they didn’t really want to know what cute things my kids were doing, so I didn’t even bring it up.  I’m not sure they knew I was married, much less had two kids.

As much of my identity is wrapped up in being a wife and mother, it was a good exercise for me to not be merely that for a few hours.  I was able to be the part of myself who is not dependent on others to provide her identity.  In a way, it was a time for self-discovery.  Who am I really when I don’t have my husband or kids to fall back on?

In this ongoing theme of rediscovering myself, this evening fell in perfectly.  It was great timing and very healthy for me.  I don’t know that I’ve really solved anything, but it reminded me that I do need to spend some time by myself every so often, to do things that interest me, not that I think my kids or husband might like to do.  I need to spend time with people who are like me in ways other than being a mother.

And I think it was good for M as well.  He got to spend an evening alone with his boys and test out how he is as a father without me around hovering.  Apparently the boys were absolutely perfect.  PJ was helpful and didn’t throw tantrums at all.  M did great and had an easy time of it.  Lucky man.  I hope he doesn’t think my job is that easy all the time.  But at least now that he knows it’s not that bad, he may encourage me to go out on my own a little more often.

Change of Heart

July 9, 2008

Ha, I told you that break probably wouldn’t last long.  I don’t know that I’m back for good or on as regular a schedule as I’ve kept up until now, but things have certainly changed around here since Monday, things that I can’t just leave unsaid.

In the course of a couple of hours yesterday, I was asked for my photography expertise and then told I was a writer.  I don’t think it was mere flattery either, which I find outright surprising.  I’m a lucky photographer, which means I have a decent camera and take enough pictures that eventually I capture some awesome ones now and then.  Good editing makes me look a lot better than I am.  Yet even after explaining this to my friend, I was still asked to take pseudo-professional pictures of her little girl for her first birthday.  Yikes!  I hope they ended up liking them as much as they said they did.

The friend is a fellow blogger as well, so we got to talking about blogging at one point yesterday.  She mentioned how difficult it was for her to blog because she didn’t feel like she was a writer like I am.  I wanted to laugh at her.  I’m no writer!  I can convey my thoughts reasonably well most of the time, but I have not mastered the craft of writing by any means.  I don’t know where she gets the idea I’m a writer; she must not read much if she thinks that.

Still, I was flattered.  And oddly enough, that flattery pointed out to me where my passions do lie.  (Remember that post from a week or so ago?)  I might get frustrated with my writing from time to time because it’s not nearly as mature or interesting as I’d like it to be, but in between those frustrated moments I actually enjoy attempting to write.  And I love, love love taking pictures.  I love sifting through the moments I have captured and editing them until they look really special, not like a sorry attempt from an amateur.  I know I don’t have the artistic eye to do anything professional with it, not like my brothers, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love trying.

Perhaps yesterday was motivation to actually seriously work on both hobbies, to get myself more comfortable with both writing and photography and ignore my pathetic amateurish attempts at both until the practice has turned my passion into skill as well.

On a totally unrelated note, we also got PJ signed up for MDO yesterday.  It’s official now, now that they have our money holding his spot.  Maybe I’ll have more on this later, in another separate post.

And PJ’s ECI teacher wonders whether we’ll need to continue in the ECI program after this month.  He has his six-month evaluation on the 31st, and she thinks by then he will have made enough progress that we may decide not to continue with the special visits anymore.  I know he still isn’t nearly caught up, but he’s talking much, much better than he was six months ago.  Hmmm, maybe I should do a whole post on PJ in the near future.

Oh, and be praying for Erica today.  She’s having another MRI to find out whether her cancer is back.  No cancer, no cancer, no cancer…


June 30, 2008

I feel like I need to write something about what’s going on with me again, even though I don’t feel like it, purely because you have all put up with the boring ramblings about the kids and their sleep patterns a lot lately.

The problem is that I just don’t quite know what I need to write about me.  There’s nothing important going on, or anything remotely interesting.  I’m tired, like always.  I feel a little like I might be getting sick.  Shrug.  Nothing that really matters.

I’ve been handling this down time pretty well lately.  I still get into a funk every now and then, but it doesn’t last more than a few hours at a time.  I can feel it coming on and can keep it from overwhelming me.  I just ride the waves for a little while and then pull myself out of it.  I think I’ll probably be past this phase altogether in another week.

It helps that I’m reminded of how lucky I am regularly.  The boys have been crazy lately, making me laugh all the time (between screaming fits that is–their screaming fits, not mine).  Even BabyN has been getting into this whole silly thing and deliberately tries to make me laugh.  There are so many women out there desperate for one baby, and here I have two of the cutest kids ever.  I’m also blessed with an awesome husband.  It’s crazy to think I was at the point of settling for just about anybody willing to marry me four years ago, and now I’m married to the absolutely perfect man for me.

And ever since I was little, I never could figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I always reluctantly returned to teacher as my future profession, while secretly I wanted nothing to do with any of them; I knew all I ever wanted to do was be a mom.  Now I have that perfect job.  I may not be perfect at it (which drives the perfectionist side of me crazy), but my kids seem to be thriving in spite of it.

But if I have everything I’ve ever wanted, then what is there to look forward to, to hope for?

That’s why lately I’ve been trying to determine what my passions are.  What is it that I’m totally passionate about?  How can I turn that into something to expand my horizons beyond just being a mom?  I know what I’ve been told from day one of being a mom, that I have to continue doing things for myself, but I’ve clearly ignored that advice.  I think getting myself out of this tiny box I’ve constructed around myself will help keep me from falling into the habit of self-pity again.

Of course, this is where I need some help.  I have no idea what my passions are.  I love to read and do so daily, but it’s just a passing hobby.  I don’t see how it helps me out of this problem, how it could give me something to really look forward to.  So far, that’s the closest to a passion I’ve discovered.  What are your passions, the aspects of your life (other than your spouse and kids) that you couldn’t live without?  How have you turned these into a way to keep from trapping yourself into the role of wife and mother?  Is there anything you’ve heard me say in the blog that you think I could turn into a passion?

Observation or Revelation?

June 23, 2008

You know what I just realized?  I was reading through all of the new blog posts, and it suddenly dawned on me how different from me all of you are, both you whom I read and you whose blogs I stalk.  I know this shouldn’t be that surprising, but I guess thinking about having my best friend come over to visit today has got me thinking about all of that.  She’s practically my twin, even though we look nothing alike.  There are very few ways that we’re different.  It’s obvious that our numerous similarities are why we get along so well.

So why do I get along with all of you so well?  I mean, I have similarities with just about everyone I read in at least some way, but most of them are pretty superficial.  So we’re both mothers.  Is that enough?  Even when our parenting styles are totally different?  When our religious beliefs are on opposite ends of the spectrum?  Our political beliefs never coincide?  I have read so many posts from so many of you that I have refrained from commenting because I would rather avoid creating that kind of controversy.  On a PMS-y or argumentative day (okay, they’re pretty much the same), I could really get defensive about my opinions.

Yet despite all of the differences, I obvioiusly still feel some sort of connection to you.  It’s okay with me that we don’t necessarily agree on everything.  It would be nice if I could convince everyone to think like me, but I still like hearing about your opinions, even if I am totally opposed to them.  How boring would it be if I only bothered to associate with people who were exactly like me?

No point to this post, apparently…just merely an observation about myself.  It makes me wonder why I get so upset when people comment something that I don’t agree with, why I’m so nervous about saying something that creates controversy.  I obviously don’t want all of you to be exactly like me, or I wouldn’t read your blogs in the first place. 

Did I just realize that I’m a bit of a hypocrite?


April 24, 2008

When I got that first comment yesterday, I was hurt, even if it was at least partly true.  That happens every time I get a critical comment.  I don’t take criticism well.

I debated about what to do about it.  Do I delete it?  Do I ignore it?  Or do I defend myself?  I tried to deny her the satisfaction of getting a response out of me, but it was tough.  Finally I realized that I was torturing myself for nothing.  As hard as I tried to hold myself back, eventually I would give in and reply to her comment.  What was the point in putting off the inevitable?

And that taught me one of the most important lessons of my life: I am who I am.

I can fight my nature or hide certain aspects of my personality from people, but that won’t actually change who I am.

I took some time last night to evaluate who I really am.  I started listing in my mind all my good qualities as well as my bad ones.  I am learning to embrace my true personality, even my flaws (of which there are many).  Until I can do this, I will continue to be hurt when others point out these flaws.

Okay, truthfully I will probably be hurt anyway, but I’ve decided that I’d rather open up and let myself be vulnerable.  I don’t want anybody reading my blog out of pity for me or to see what outlandish thing I say next; I want all of you to like me for who I am, flaws and all.  And even if you choose to point those out to me, I will graciously agree with you about them.

Because I am who I am, flaws and all.  I simply can’t continue trying to be someone other than who I am.  I never should have tried in the first place.

For once, my new header is more than mere whim.  Since I took this picture, I have felt drawn to it.  I want to be like my little boy, able to open my mouth and let whatever comes out do so.  I want to be that uninhibited and shameless.  While it is against my nature to be like that in real life, this blog is my place to stand and shout out for whoever might be listening.

So I am taking back my blog, as many of you have said many times (yes, it took that long to beat it through my thick skull).  No longer will I edit as I write out of concern for how any of you might react.  If you don’t like me for who I really am, then what should it matter to me?  I’d rather you give up and move on to someone else’s blog than stick around to hear what I have to say when I’m pretending to be something I’m not.

And to those of you who have stuck around through this whole process of self-discovery and liked me all along, thank you.  Hopefully I won’t disappoint you by going back on my words anytime in the future.