Saturday, April 23, 2011

Some Days I Need the Rain

A little over two years ago, my big sister died.  Dee had been fighting breast cancer for a long, long time and it finally got the best of her.  I always knew she was an amazing sister.  I just didn't know she was also my best friend until after she was gone.

While I think about Dee every day, most of my days are filled with the stuff of life.  I feed my family, I go to work, I do laundry, I read stories to Trevor and help Eli and Sydney with their homework.  I see Dee's picture on my fridge as I pass it and I think about how much I miss her.  I call her young daughters to see what's going on their lives and plan shopping days for them with Aunt Kaycee.  I talk to Dee's widowed husband and make sure he's doing okay.  Most days, I can tell a story about Dee or remember the times we had without shedding a tear.  Most times, I am fine.  Life goes on.

But after a few weeks or months of taking care of the stuff of life and moving on and being strong, I hit the proverbial wall.  Suddenly I want there to be a rainy day where I can just stay in bed all day and read or watch movies.  I don't always understand right away what it is that's triggering my melancholy, but I know that my heart is hurting and I need to curl up in a ball.  I don't realize at first that what I'm craving is to cry.  I need to let myself cry.

Movies do it every time.  I choose the saddest I can find..."My Sister's Keeper" is my choice of late.  I'm thinking I should just buy it so I don't have to keep renting it.  There are others, though, and it helps if they are about dying, or sickness.  My husband says I'm a glutton for punishment, but he doesn't understand that most days, I am just strong because it's what I do.  I'm strong because there are people depending on me to not fall apart.  He doesn't understand that I hold it together so often and for so long that I sometimes don't feel like I am allowed to lose it.

So I find a day that I can be alone.  I stay up late, and I curl up under my down comforter, and I lock the bedroom door, and I put in the saddest movie I can find.  And it's then, when nobody is watching and when I can pretend that it's "just about a movie" that I fall apart.  It's then that I let the tears run until they are dripping off my chin and my pillowcase is so wet that I have to get a new one.  It is then that I allow my hands to tremble and my shoulder to shake with the weight of it all.  I cry and I sob until I can't catch my breath.  And it's then that I admit that it's not about the movie, and I let the sadness come. 

I think about the days sitting next to my sister in the hospital, trying to feed her yogurt and smoothies and hoping a little of it would get past the sores and lesions in her throat from the chemo.  I remember the day she almost choked on her medicine and I sat her up because she was too weak to sit up herself.  She called me her hero.  I think about the jokes we made when she had to wear inflatable stocking on her legs to keep her blood flowing, and how we laughed at the patterns of bruises on her legs and arms.  I think about how she insisted she saw an angel one day and it looked just like my Sydney.  She was hallucinating of course...her ammonia levels were too high.  But she was convinced.  I think about the last night she was lucid, and how she told me to take care of her little girls and teach them the things they needed to know.  And I remember the night before she died, and how I would pull back the soft pink cap she wore, to kiss her bald head and tell her that I loved her.  She never woke up, but her lips would move a little sometimes and I told myself she was telling me that she loved me back.

Those nights, the nights of sitting alone and allowing myself to fall apart for a little while, are cleansing for me.  I need them.  I need the tears to run down my face and soak my shirt.  I need to sob until I can't breathe anymore.  I need to hear myself make sounds that I can't control as the hurt and the loneliness and the pain overtake me.  I need to feel the sadness.  I need to let myself fall apart.

The next day I am always okay again.  I am ready to be strong, and to take care of the details and busy-ness of life again.  I put the movie away and I help with the homework and I take my neices shopping and I check on my brother-in-law and I cook dinner.  I laugh with my kids and I hold hands with my husband and I sit on the front porch with my face tilted up to catch the sunshine.  Life goes on. 

Most days, I am fine.

But some days, I just need the rain.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Kid Just Stole My Car!!

Well, okay, not really.  He didn't steal my car.  Technically, he asked before he left.  And really it's the car we said he would be able to use once he got his license.  And truthfully, he's a very safe driver and I think he's going to be fine.  But when we went to the DMV this morning to get his driver's license, I had a little bit of a lump in my throat.  And when we left the DMV with his license in his wallet, the lump got a little bigger, and we added butterflies in my stomach.  But then....THEN....when we got home and he asked me very nicely if he could drive up to the mall with a friend, I had to close my eyes for a second and catch my breath.  I thought that was hard.

It was nothing compared to watching him drive off in the car by himself, carefully signalling at the corner before he made that right turn.  That's when my heart, I think, literally stopped for a second.

Eli's a great kid.  He's doing great in school.  He's respectful and kind.  His favorite place in the world is church.  He's truly a great kid.  But let's face it:  great kid or not, he's still a 16-year-old boy.  He's still going to roll down his window and blast his music.  He's still going to take a chance now and then to look "cool" (that's such an 80's word...insert the current word here) in front of the cute girls walking down the street.  He's still going to be a 16-year-old boy. 

So he didn't steal my car.  He asked, and then he drove carefully off.  But there's still something so....wrong about it.  There's still something so wrong about my baby boy gaining enough independence to drive away in a car without me.  I'm so proud of him for the kid he is and the man he is becoming.  But it's official;  life will never be the same.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

This Post DOES Actually Have a Point

Today I interviewed two people for the job as my administrative assistant at work.  I had interviewed two people a few weeks ago, before I went on vacation, but one of them was a definite "no", and the other was a "maybe", but I had enough doubts about her abilities to want to see other candidates.  The two people I interviewed today were both great options, but totally different from each other.  One is a self-starter and possibly over-qualified for the job.  She's professional, detail-oriented, and probably won't need a whole lot of direction from me.  On the other hand, I really like things done a certain way, and she's a bit of a stronger personality; she might decide to do things HER own way.  And as a boss, I tend to be a little too nice, and not always able to assert myself as strongly as I should (I know, I know!  I'm working on it!!) so I'm afraid her personality might overpower me.  It would be so nice, though, to have someone that is self-directed.  And I think she would definitely get everything done that needs to be done without me having to bug her too much.

The second candidate, though, would also be great in the position.  I think she has more of a passion for our business, and I think she would take direction really well.  I think more than the other candidate, she would really look to me for direction and would be eager to do things exactly how I want them.  I love, love, love that.  On the other hand, the person that just left this position was a lot like her, and I had to remind her often about the more subtle parts of the job...the things that were more of a monthly task or an "every once in a while, check on this...." type of task.  She needed too much direction at times, and I couldn't give her any tasks with too much "weight".  I think this candidate is more "mold-able" though, and that I will be able to train her to do things just like I want them.

So I'm left with a decision.  And much of the decision points back to what I want in an assistant.  What can I handle?  I'm afraid of being overpowered just a bit by the first candidate, but maybe this is an opportunity for me to learn to be more assertive.  Maybe it's time I started being a little more confident about my abilities and that I truly am good at my job, and not be afraid that someone else will "take over".  Maybe it's time I learn to take charge and take my "boss" role more seriously.  She will be my assistant.  It's okay for me to tell her what to do and to work her hard when I need to. 

But I'm also a good boss in other ways.  I'm good at training someone to be detail-oriented.  I am a team player who doesn't mind coming alongside someone to teach them the right way to do things.  I can lead.  I can direct.  I'm good at that part of it. 

My decision feels harder because it feels like I am not only deciding on who gets the job, but also on what kind of boss I will need to be for the next period of time.  More assertive?  Or more "friendly".  Someone who maybe lets go of some of the things I've always controlled in order to hand them off to someone else, so I can concentrate on some of the things that have been taking a back seat?  Or someone who still controls everything I have, but directs someone else on how to take care of them for me?  What kind of boss will I be?  What kind of person will I be? 

Grr.  Can one of you just make this decision for me?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

It Starts Today

I am not hugely overweight.  I definitely need to lose about 40 pounds or so, but I am not so overweight that it is hard for me to be active or play with my kids or get up off the floor.  And yet, I am uncomfortable.  I have been slowly putting on weight over the last five years or so, starting mostly during Norm's last deployment and putting on several more pounds during the first part of his current deployment.  I eat to relax.  When the kids are all finally in bed and the house is quiet, I find some ice cream or cookies to de-stress.  I am at the heaviest I have ever been, and I'm really starting to notice that I am uncomfortable.  It is getting harder to find clothes that fit me right.  When I sit, a roll of fat on my belly pushes against the underwire on my bra, and it hurts.  I find that when I come home I like to change into sweats or yoga pants because they are more comfortable.  I am feeling that I am "fat" more than ever.

But beyond the physical effects of my extra weight, I'm finding that it's starting to affect me emotionally as well.  I guess it always has, a little.  But this is different.  This time I'm doubting my abilities as a result of my weight.  And I'm not talking my ability to run five miles (because we all know that's not going to happen!).  I'm talking about my ability to do my job well.  I don't think people see me as capable because if I can't even keep my weight under control, how can I do anything else right?  I am afraid to try.  I am afraid to hope for more.  I am afraid to be confident.  I know I'm good at my job, actually.  It was the job that was meant for me, and I do it well.  I know that.  I just don't think anyone else does. 

I never think people like me when they first meet me.  I always think I have to "grow on" them.  I think that the first thing people see about me is that I'm fat.  I think that their first impression of me must be that I am not as good at others, based on my weight.  I know it doesn't make any sense.  I try to talk myself out of feeling these things.  But still, they remain.  I hate shopping, I hate having my picture taken, I hate going to the pool or beach.  My weight limits me, or maybe I limit myself based on my weight.

So it's time for it to stop.  It's time for me to take my life in my own hands and do something about it.  It's not going to be life is stressful right now as a pseudo-single mother with a husband in the Middle East.  There's not a lot of time for exercise, or cooking healthy, or even grocery shopping for the fresh ingredients I need to eat right.  But those are all just excuses, aren't they?  Yep, it will be hard.  But if it's not hard, it's not worth doing.

I have nine and a half weeks until New York City.  My goal is to lose twenty pounds before that trip.  It's a big goal, one that Norm says is too ambitious and I may be setting myself up for failure.  But I think it's possible.  I'll need to lose more after that, but it's a start.  It's just over two pounds a week, and I know I can do that.  I want to shop in NYC and not be embarrassed about the size I'm trying on.  I want to feel good in my own skin.  I can do this.  And it starts today.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

I'm Not Australian, I Just Play One on TV

I am not a "Mommy" blogger.  Yes, I am a mom.  Yes, I am a blogger.  But to say that I'm a "Mommy" blogger, to me signifies that my identity is just as a mom who is looking for a way to express myself.  I can express myself just fine.  I am my own person aside from being a wife and mom.

It always bothers me when people (specifically mothers) say that they "live for their kids".  Listen, I am a damn good mother.  My kids are polite, well-behaved, well-rounded kids.  I take great care of them, I talk to them and they even talk back, and I am involved in their lives.  They know I love them more than anything.  But they also know, I think, that I have a life apart from them.  I have a life at work.  I have a life with friends.  I have a life with Norm.  They know that while I love them with my whole heart, I am also a person apart from them.  And I think that's important.

In a couple of months they will all be going away to church camp for a whole week.  And since Norm will still be deployed, I will have an entire week all to myself.  I can't wait.  I can't wait to be myself all by myself for a whole week.  In fact, I've decided to take a trip to New York City that week.  I've already booked my flights and hotels, and I'm looking into a couple of Broadway shows.  I know there are some people who think it's strange that I'm going to NY all by myself.  But the truth is, I don't mind being by myself.  I don't mind seeing a show or eating on my own.  I'm excited about wandering around the Met all alone and taking my time.  I can't wait to eat what I want, when I want, and not worry about if someone else is hungry or if they're in the mood for the same food I'm in the mood for. 

A few years ago I was in Europe visiting my sister, and I got one whole day in London all by myself.  My friends have all said I was crazy for being someplace where I didn't know anyone else in the entire country.  But I loved it.  I grabbed a sandwich at a corner store and ate while watching ducks at a pond in Hyde Park.  I went to Harrod's and bought an odd dinner of garlic Naan and Spanish olives and Swiss chocolate, and ate while looking at a British Vogue in my hotel room.  It was fabulous.

And here's how weird I am:  a few months ago I spent a weekend all by myself in a city a few hours away.  For the entire weekend, I spoke with an accent, just because I could.  Sometimes I feel so hemmed in by my life.  It seems that it's already set out for me:  a wife and a mom and a daughter and a sister who have so many people depending on me.  If I act strange for a day, everyone asks me if I'm okay or what's wrong.  I can't change my behavior from who I have always been without people questioning me.  While I love my life, I like knowing that sometimes I can be someone different for a while.  It was fun being able to pretend for a while.  It was fun to act like I was a girl with an accent.  It made me feel like I could explore my options a little.  And then I was ready to go back to being a mom with a Midwest accent, taking care of my kids and my husband, making sure my parents were okay, being a responsible aunt and sister.  All of that felt welcome after being someone else for just a couple of days. 

My point is:  I am who I am, and who I am doesn't revolve around my children.  I can talk about things other than my kids.  I have interests apart from my kids' interests.  I am more than a wife and mother.  I'm just me.

So don't call me a "Mommy" blogger, okay?  I'm just a blogger, who happens to be a mother.  And knowing that I can be all of it at once makes me love all of my jobs even more.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Obligitory Intro Post

Okay, so a little about who I am:  I am Kaycee, a thirty-something wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend.  I am an Army wife who currently lives in the mid-west.  I am a devoted Christian, I work part-time, and I love to travel.  My husband Norm* is currently deployed to the Middle East...we are seven months into a year-long tour.    My kids are Eli (16), Sydney (12), and Trevor (7).  I read a lot, am secretly addicted to reality television, and am usually pretty honest about who I am.  I am average in intelligence, appearance, and personality.  I could really stand to lose about 40 pounds, and am just starting to work on it, but for real this time. 

So that's who I am, in a nutshell.  What I'm hoping is that over the next weeks and months, you will get to know me so much better than that as you read my posts.  I will be real.  I will be honest.  And I can't wait to get started in getting to know you, too.

*Names have been changed to protect both the innocent AND the guilty!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Me Without A Filter

This is not my first rodeo.  I've done this all before.  I've blogged before, a lot actually, and I was good at it.  I had tons of readers and comments on my daily posts, and it was great.  But while I was honest to a degree, I was not completely honest.  My parents read my blog.  My husband read my blog.  My neighbors and my in-laws read my blog.  My ex-friends and my ex-boyfriend and maybe even my kids read my blog.  This time, the blog is for me.  Just me.  Well, and you.  But ssshhh!  It's a secret.  I'm not telling my family about it.  I'm not telling my friends.    This is me, without a filter.  And this time, I mean it.