Archive for the 'everyday' Category

Mourning

My dad died on October 17 of this year and I haven’t been doing so well with it.

I see his name here – in recent comments – and the waterworks start. I had thought for so long he wasn’t interested in the blog, but of late he was one of its few readers. Everyone keeps commenting to me on how we had such a “complicated” relationship. But really, it wasn’t that complicated. I loved him. Like, it broke my heart how much I loved him. And he loved me. The part folks describe as complicated, I guess, is that he was never able to love me for who I really am. And that broke me. He was forever upset at how sensitive I am, constantly telling me to toughen up. He was always criticizing my taste in things — movies, art, books, tv. He didn’t like the way I played sports, criticizing me for generous calls I made in tennis. I was just under the omnipresent understanding that I was doing it all wrong. But it wasn’t all that complicated. I loved him. He loved me. I just knew he wanted me to be a different me.

He also always made me know that he’d had it so much worse than I could know. His parents had been blindingly horrid to him and his brother. And I believe and believed it. But what was I to do with that as a seven-year-old? Or now? I was always taught that I was lucky that my dad was as “normal” and kind as he was; I should be grateful: it could be so much worse. As if any of it were something I had a part in.

I’m not exactly sure what lessons to take from my dad. I know that he gave me extraordinary gifts and tools. But he also gave me heightened sensitivity and anger and depression. But besides Molly, I know that he gave me tangible good. The thing that makes me more grateful to him than I can articulate is my love of art. It’s what makes me get up in the morning and what makes me believe in humanity. It’s what gives me hope. And I thank my dad for giving me that gift. My mom fanned and fans it for sure. But it was my dad’s passion. And I’m grateful forever to have been born in its shadow.

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Day X

So, on Day 19 we fell a bit off of our Monster 30-day plan to be our best, calm selves and get our lives in order. This Administration and, well, life proved too much for us. Instead we said screw it to the mess in the house and the House and everywhere, had some nighttime cocktails and binge-watched some telly. It was cathartic in its own right.

And now, ten plus days later, the house is still a mess, the chaos in Washington is bigger than before and I’m dealing with a flood of emotions at having just celebrated Mollybear’s fifth birthday. With every one of these birthdays – or any milestone really (like, for example, she’s taken to saying, “Oh. My God,” which has to be a rite of passage) – I seem to die a bit on the inside. As cliched as it is to say, this parenting business is not for the weak of heart. And weak of heart I am.

On that note, I give you this article, which I thought was written by me at first. What tipped me off wasn’t the name of the author (I thought that perhaps I had submitted under a nom de plume), but that I drink coffee, Coke Zero and icy cold water in the morning. And then it struck me that the voice seems to be somewhat younger than I. And I don’t have one of those fancy towels she speaks of. And she showers more frequently than I do. And she’s funnier. And a better writer. Look, I didn’t write it. I get that. But still. For just a moment, I thought, “Wait. Did I submit an article to Slate?!”

This is 40 (Yahoo!)

A billion years ago, my mom told me that it was perfectly acceptable to decline to be weighed at the doctor’s office. Years later, Doc Heather confirmed the accuracy of my mom’s report. Despite these wise women’s words, I never used my voice to ask not to be put on the scale. The most I had ever braved on this front was saying meekly to the nurse, “I don’t want to look.” Often, this was met with mucho respect. The nurse would go out of her way to shield me from the computer screen or whatever other papers would show the numbers. Other times, not so much. Today, though, I was staring down the barrel of a doc appointment to look at some itchy splotches on my right calf that have been there for months that, according to the interwebs, could either be (a) eczema or (b) cancer. What’s more is that said appointment was going to directly follow a lunch I was required to attend to listen to the Administration defend its budget proposal. Add to that that I’m swamped at work and feeling like there’s not enough time to do anything well in any arena, and I was just not feeling the scale. Plus, I have a regular physical in June so what in the world is the point of adding insult to injury? I remembered my mom and Heather’s advice, and told myself, “Today is the day. Today is the day I say, ‘Uh, can we skip that wretched machine that discounts all of my positive attributes and shows me an ugly number that will make me feel bad forever? Please!’ Yes, today is the day.” So, I steeled myself. I drove to the appointment, parked, checked in, got kicked off of the self-check-in kiosk because I admitted I’d traveled outside of the country in the past 21 days, was gently told I broke the kiosk, was asked about Ebola and corpses, used the restroom, sat down in the waiting room, stood up when a nice woman asked if I were ‘Kate’ and told me that the nurse had called my name, and then nearly lost all of my resolve when I relaized that the nurse assigned to my appointment was male. Why would this matter? I’m not so sure, except I think I worried that maybe by asking not to be weighed I’d be fulfilling some sort of stereotypical ‘women can’t handle the truth’ nonsense. In any event, it didn’t take long before I snapped back to reality and my courage returned. The nurse made his polite introduction and said, “And then if you’ll just come this way and we can get your weight.” He swerved to the right, ever-so-slightly. I said, quickly, “Actually, can we not do that?” He swerved back into his lane and took a left, saying, “Sure. No problem.” And that was that. And this is 40.

RIP, Robin Williams

I can’t say anything meaningful on the passing of one of the world’s most vibrant talents. I’ve been devouring the tributes and the memories that have recently been written about him. Given how much of him we have seen and heard over the years, it’s obviously not shocking to learn that he was dealing with such horrible demons, but it’s nevertheless devastating to hear that he fell to such ultimate pain. I am immensely sorry for him, his family and, frankly, for all of us. Robin Williams was one-of-a-kind and, I think, that this is a brilliant story that beautifully illustrates his importance. Kudos, once again, to Dahlia Lithwick for having such a lovely (and I mean that literally) voice.

No!

Molly’s new favorite word is ‘no.’ Sometimes it’s a curt ‘no’ and sometimes it’s a very dramatic and emotional ‘NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’ What’s confusing (read: frustrating) is that sometimes it doesn’t mean ‘no’ at all. It might mean ‘not right now’ or ‘maybe’ or – despite all of the PSAs to the contrary – ‘yes’ (gasp!).

Anyway, just today I was revisiting a Slate article from earlier this year that a friend had recently posted to her Facebook page. It’s all about why we should be cool with toddlers’ freakouts and tantrums. After a four-day weekend home with a 20-month old (21 months today! Happy day Bear!), it was especially reassuring. My favorite part? This quote, from the all-knowing Harvey Karp:  “It is hard to spend all day with a 2-year-old, and they don’t really want to spend all day with you anyway.”

So true. This morning, as we were driving Mollybear to school, I turned around to face her in her carseat. I smiled and said, “Hi.” She smiled back at me, giggled and said, “No.”