Monday, January 25, 2010

All In A Day's Work. *updated with appropriate linkage*

By the end of my pregnancy with Nate I was tired in ways that I hadn't experienced with the other two. I'm sure we can add up all of the factors: the house hunt, the closing process, the packing, the moving, the adjusting, the unpacking, and well, the gestating.  Perhaps more than the physical exhaustion was the emotional one and, let's face it, I was just DOWN.  Really TIRED.  And really DONE WITH EVERYTHING.  A sort of pre-partum depression, if you will.  Honestly, by the end of a pregnancy you don't need to do anything beyond wake up to make you ready to get back in bed.  So combine the whole Waking Up Thing with everything else and I was just plain overwhelmed. And sad when I would hear about how many wonderful Fall-type things my friends were doing with their days. Up early with comforting meals in the crock pot. Apple picking. Fall walks.  It was really quite disgusting, to be honest with you. Just hearing about all of the things you were all doing was exhausting. I wondered where you got the energy. Where you got the desire.

Now that I carry my baby outside of my body rather than within and I'm starting to feel more like myself, I'm finally taking the opportunity to do all of those things and have a busy day that doesn't result in the bottom half of my legs ballooning to three-times their size. And so, without further ado, I present to you:

Things I Did Today Because I Can Function Like A Normal Person:

  • Hung three pictures on guest bathroom wall
  • Hung two pictures in our bedroom
  • Talked to my mom. Twice.
  • Talked to my mother-in-law. Twice.
  • Talked to my Nonna. Twice.
  • Called Comcast (again) and politely explained to them that after FOUR service calls last week our telephone issue was still not resolved and now our cable box was broken and no I would not bring the cable box in because it's only been here for 8 weeks and is therefore brand new and should not be broken and I have three babies at home and it's raining outside and PERHAPS Comcast could show a little customer service and have the guy who is coming AGAIN to fix the phones just fix the cable while he's here because he is trained to do so and that's his job.
  • Told Comcast Guy (still politely) (but much more sternly) (to put it lightly) that no tomorrow morning was not acceptable and that if the first guy had just done it right we wouldn't be having this conversation and that if the third guy (who actually was the first guy again) hadn't decided to leave immediately upon arrival on Saturday night with the promise that he'd come back Monday morning actually CAME BACK MONDAY MORNING then, again, we wouldn't be having this conversation. And thus scheduled ANOTHER service call for tonight. During the dinner hour. Again.
  • Printed out the remainder of Nathaniel's baptism invitations.
  • Made lunch for my family. And, not surprisingly, ate lunch alone at the table after everyone else was finished.
  • Put Jake down for his nap. (Always easy. Always want to stay in his room and hide just a little longer.)
  • Stuffed envelopes and found addresses off of because I STILL CANNOT FIND MY ADDRESS BOOK while nursing Nate.
  • Plopped Christopher on the counter while I made Paula's Beef Stew, peeled potatoes and set them in water for boiling and mashing, crushed garlic, brushed bread and set aside for broiling garlic toast, and made my mother-in-law's most delicious chocolate bundt cake EVER. (All by 2:30)
  • Switched the laundry, put away clothes.
  • Called the salesman from Macy's (because he said he'd call me today and it was 4:30 and I felt like he was avoiding me) to see when our new chairs would be delivered.
  • Told him that I was disappointed, but understood, that MY chair would not be delivered until AFTER I have 50 people at my son's baptism reception because he made a mistake and misread his computer screen.
  • Complained to Tim that HIS chair would be here next week but mine would not.
  • Complained to my mother-in-law that Tim's chair would be here next week but mine would not. (Okay so maybe I talked to her THREE times.) 
  • Told BOTH Tim and his mom that, no, I didn't want to call the manager and complain in an effort to get my furniture here when it had been promised because REALLY I have more important concerns in the next two weeks and is a CHAIR really that big of a deal and besides, what can you do?
  • Ultimately agreed with both of them that the answer to "so what can you do?" is "GET MY CHAIR HERE ON TIME."
  • Told Tim that I had dealt with enough service calls and managers and blah blah blah in the past week so if he wanted the chair here HE could call and complain and I would support him 100% but I just was not going to do it myself.
  • Listened in awe as my husband left a very diplomatic message on Macy's Guy's voicemail. (We'll see what comes of that.)
  • Invited my sister-in-law over for dinner.
  • Tested all the phone lines in the house with the comcast guy and they actually work. For now.
  • Cleaned up dinner.
  • Put all four Troy men to sleep. (Seriously. Tim is out like a light too.)
  • Had my first date with Jillian since I found out I was pregnant with Nate.
  • And, you know, wrote this.

Whew!  It sure is good to be back!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sure Target Has Moved On To Valentine's And Summer, But I'm still Back At Christmas.

Today I was sitting in the play room, gazing upon my still-stacked-high-with-Christmas-stuff dining room table and lamenting to my mom about how much I hate our dining set.  Perhaps, I told her, I would hate it a little less if it weren't taunting me with its resident mess that should have been packed up weeks ago. Perhaps. My mom, in her loveliness, told me not to worry. She said she'll help me pack everything up while she's here visiting and then maybe when I can SEE the dining room set we can figure out how to make it so that I LIKE it.

She's a smart lady, my mom.  You see, the issue of my frustration today had really nothing to do with the dining set (which, really. I really dislike it. REALLY.) And more to do with the fact that I just can't get that Christmas stuff out of the way. It's not getting done. It's there. It's looming. I should do it and I can't. JUST. CAN'T.

If I were looking for a way to describe how this Christmas was for us, that sentiment nails it. This was the Christmas of "I just can't get it done."  I think what it comes down to is that we were SO looking forward to the holidays this year.  We had our new baby. We had our new big, beautiful home.  We wanted to decorate. We wanted to make it magical. And, you know, maybe somewhere in there we'd fit in a little bit of Holy too.  That's the important part, right? Don't forget The Holy.  Riiiiiight. HOLY. Jesus is the reason for the season and all that.  To be honest, this Christmas blew past me so blasted fast that if I were to put on paper my mental calendar of the past few months, it would go straight from Thanksgiving to today.  It CHAPS MY HIDE that this was our reality - that there was no Advent this year - but that's how it happened.

Make no mistake - our Christmas was lovely. But it was fast. It was exhausting. And? Many parts of it were a chore.  Getting the Christmas tree. Putting it up. Decorating it.  You name it, it was on the To Do List just waiting to be scratched off. Just so we could say it was done.

We have our own little traditions that we're putting in place for the boys, among which include my in-laws joining us for breakfast on Christmas morning so that they can see the boys open the presents that Santa has brought.  Once gifts were opened and little people were distracted, I sat down with my coffee and my mother-in-law to enjoy a nice visit.  She began telling me how, the day before, she had turned off the TV entirely. She knew that Christmas day would be too hectic to truly meditate and recognize Christ's birth, so she did it the day before.

Truly meditate on Christ's birth. Attempt to comprehend the love behind the Incarnation. Ponder what humility came with that Divine Condescension. I can't remember the last time that I had that privilege...that I made that time for myself.

Days later, in the car by myself, I found myself reflecting on this conversation.  The time goes, I realized, we'll be deep into the season of Lent. Another penitential season. Another time of preparation, this time for the holiest days of the year.  Another season that, if I'm not careful, will blow past me with little more observation than a few meatless Fridays. In considering these two holy holy seasons, I became frustrated by the fact that (especially now that I have children) they always seem to just pass me by. Sure, I make efforts to recognize the seasons, but year after year they pass before I even realize what's going on.

While I cruised down the highway that day, I began to get a little down on myself.  My spiritual life is so different now than it was as a single person, most specifically as a college student living on a campus where you were inundated with holiness. There was no escaping it, no ignoring it. During those years I found it nearly impossible to be too busy to pray, too distracted to meditate, too tired to devote myself to the observance of the life of my Lord. I wondered how I could be a good example to my children in what is TRULY important when, this year, I couldn't even get it together enough to finish the superficial stuff.

As my mind drifted on to my sweet little boys - those little Men In Progress whose souls have been entrusted to me - I started to fret about how in the world I will be able to adequately mold those souls when most of the time I feel like my own is barely hanging on.  How can I show them the holiness of Christmas and the love of Good Friday when my own daily prayer consists mostly of a frantic glance at my crucifix and a whispered, "Help me, Lord! Hold me up, Blessed Mother!"

On the verge of despair, a little angel must have whispered in my ear. Nudged me with a gentle reminder of  what a priest friend of ours said to me not long ago.  He said, "parenthood is not a contemplative vocation."  Thank God for guardian angels whispering in ears!  It's true, isn't it?  Every once in a while when I make it to daily Mass, I always marvel at the fact that I can sit and listen to a homily from start to finish with no distractions. No one squirming. No one falling off the pew. No one putting stickers up and down my arms or rearranging the missals and hymnals.  Right now, what makes me holy is the daily sacrifice of being Christopher's mommy. It's the tenderness with which I hold Jake THE WHOLE ENTIRE TIME I'M COOKING DINNER just because he still wants to be my baby and it's one of the few times I'm not holding his new baby brother. My holiness comes in the exhaustion from staying up all night with newborn Nathaniel who thinks sleeping is for babies. know what I mean.

What I didn't understand in the conversation with my mother-in-law is that she has a privilege that I do not simply because of the season of life in which she currently resides.  That is not my season. Not yet. Mine is one in which she has already lived, and through it, she has earned her contemplative time.  My time will come. Until then, my holiness is to be found (as a blogger who I'm continually learning from says) "in the trenches of motherhood." That is where my soul resides and where my children will learn all of those things for which their souls thirst.

But in the meantime? I have GOT to put away those Christmas decorations.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I Do Believe We're Due For A Rant From My (Self) Righteous Soapbox.

Several years ago (back when I was young and carefree, living in San Diego with my fabulous roommate) there was a notepad-sized piece of yellow paper affixed to my bathroom mirror on which was A List. The List contained bits and pieces of conversations with others that, when taken out of context, could be deemed as nothing better than completely inappropriate for mixed company. Or any company, for that matter. One of the items on said List was spoken by yours truly, and I believe it said something to the effect of:

"You know, Shelby. You should really try to be more like me."

Ha! I remember exactly where I was when I said that. And I remember it being added to The List almost immediately as it really was said in jest. Who can remember the original context? Not I. And that's not what's important here. What's important is that, lately, this has really come back to haunt me. The difference? Now I'm dead serious.

I said it to Tim the other day. "You know, my life would be SO MUCH EASIER if people would just think the way that I do and then BEHAVE PROPERLY." Being the loving, obliging husband that he is, he agreed with me and we moved on. (I married a very smart man.) I'll admit that I did feel a bit snobbish after uttering (okay SPEWING IN FRUSTRATION) these words and figured that perhaps I should examine my own self before declaring myself Miss Manners And Good Behavior. So, after a good deal of self-reflection, I've figured it out. It's not that I wish people would think more like me (well. okay. I do, really. But read on.) but rather that I feel as though the ways that I think and the manner in which I behave are deeply rooted in common sense. And common courtesy.

Two things that, frankly (and I don't care if you're name's not Frank.) aren't that common anymore.


Today I filled my car up with three sick, almost sick, and very sick little boys for an impromptu visit to the pediatrician. Christopher has been alternately hacking up his left and then his right lung for a week now, Jake started in with the cough yesterday, and little Nate is on day three of the saddest sounding little cough you've ever heard. It was one of those mornings that I was watching the clock hit 9:00 so that I could call to get the in as early as possible; and yet, I was dreading this call as well. DREADING talking to the receptionist who has never gotten a single appointment scheduled correctly for me. Never. (Honestly, I'd rather pull out my own teeth than deal with this woman.) (I'm sure she's a lovely person, but she can't schedule an appointment to save her life.) (Really.) Lucky me, I called the advice line and when the nurse did end up recommending that we come in, she scheduled me herself.

I will be doing all of my scheduling through the advice line from now on. One way or another I'll find an excuse to do it.

When we arrived for our 10:30 appointment at 10:28 (!!!!ontimewiththreekids!!!!) I had the boys wait outside the door while I popped my head in to say that we were there. They have a sign on the door requesting that any families with flu-like symptoms come in through the back door, and while I was confident the boys don't have the flu, I also didn't want to get any of the other babies in the waiting room sick. (See? Common Sense! Common Courtesy!) Unfortunately for me, of the two receptionists, the only one at the desk was She Who Cannot Schedule. And, no surprise, she was dealing with another mom and clearly was in the middle of Something Confusing. (I will refrain from commenting on the "confusing" in the interest of being charitable. Mmmkay?)

Clearly she was busy. So, I made eye-contact and then closed the door and stood outside the window in the cold with my three snot-faced babies. Certainly they could hear the coughing from inside. Moms with kids went in. Dads with babies came out. Everyone exchanging pleasantries. "Oh what a cute baby! He's just a week older than ours!" "Oh thank you for waiting for the other door. We really appreciate it." "Oh there's another door? I didn't even know!" (First timer.)

Did I mention that it was cold outside? Did I mention that my kids were sick? Did I mention that Receptionist SAW US STANDING OUT THERE as I repeatedly stuck my head in the door?

I was getting angrier and angrier with each passing minute. I really felt that it would be wrong to take my germ-laden kids into the waiting room where they could get the other kids sick. But you know what? MY KIDS ARE SICK AND THEY'RE STANDING OUT IN THE COLD. What a conundrum. Finally, Receptionist Who Gets Things Done, returned to the desk. It was 10:35. All I had to do was say hello before she knew who we were and was hopping back out of her chair to run over to the back door to let us in out of the cold. You see, friends? Common Sense. Common Courtesy. Sick kids inside a warm doctor's office.


This whole common sense thing has been nagging at my brain for the past couple of weeks. It didn't just start today with my poor little children standing out in the cold with snot icicles dangling from their noses. The pressure is starting to build within me, though, and I'm afraid that my Common Sense volcano is going to erupt one of these days just because someone leaves an empty glass on the counter rather than putting it in the empty sink.

Ah, pet peeves. Aren't they delightful? What are yours?


By the way, we came out of that visit $90.00 poorer, but three kids healthier. Chris has a cold along with his first ear infection and a prescription for Bubble Gum Medicine (amoxycillin), Jake's already downed his second dose of cough medicine, and little Nate was sent home with a nebulizer with saline solution that steams up in his face and makes it look like he's taking a little smokey tokey. Hey, you have to find the humor in this somewhere, right?