Monday, March 18, 2013

No Turning Back

My past is everything I failed to be.
~ Fernando Pessoa

I just finished reading a Jen Lancaster novel called Here I Go Again, in which the main character travels back in time - more than once - to revisit the changes she should have made in order to restore balance in her current life (and the lives of those she impacted).  Although the concept of this is certainly not new, and the notion of changing what has happened in the past is not realistic, it is undoubtedly a concept many have pondered.  If given the chance to go back in time, and possibly rewrite your future, would you do it...and where would you begin?

Were I able to revisit my past, I would certainly change the simple things like bad haircuts and fashion disasters (perms and denim on denim, for god's sake), and most definitely some of the dating choices I made throughout high school and college.  I would travel more, try harder, worry less.  I would put more energy into understanding the world around me and less into fear of the unknown.  I would be more outgoing, more well rounded, and more secure.  Granted, these are all things I could actually apply to myself as simple as it seems to tell myself I would do it differently given the chance, it doesn't go unnoticed that I do have the chance to change if I so desire.  Or do I?

I tend to think a lot about the person I wish I were, the things I wish I'd done in my life...but when it boils down to it, aren't we pretty much the sum of our parts, for better or worse?  I'd love to be more adventurous and outgoing, but the fact remains that I'm not.  I adore the daydream version of myself, and while I can certainly strive to make her a reality, am I fooling myself if I think I can can change who I am at the core?

Going back in time and changing instances that have had no long-lasting impact on who I am today, such as prom night when I fell asleep early and woke up to my date making out with someone else right next to me (if I had stayed awake, he still would have cheated on me eventually) seem wholly unimportant.  Larger decisions, such as where to go to college, where to live, where to work....these are the ones that I could see having a more profound impact on where I am today.  But in what form?  Sure, if I had gone to college in another city, or taken the first job offered to me after graduation, I'd likely be in a different place.  But would I be a different person? 

The "what ifs" in the world can be paralyzing if left to roam free in our minds.  There are millions of permutations that can result from any given decision, and it's much simpler to abide by the notion that every tiny little ripple will not result in a tidal wave...but rather, a lazily flowing current.  I have a handful of significant regrets when it comes to the choices I've made...but as they all led me here, how can I question them?  If I hadn't taken that job, I wouldn't have met Ray.  If I hadn't dumped that idiot of a boyfriend for not supporting my decision to take that job, I wouldn't have been single when I met Ray.  If I hadn't met Ray, I wouldn't have Merrill....and so on and so on.  The mistakes I made were part of a learning curve, and I will undoubtedly continue to make mistakes as I continue to learn.  At the end of the day, it can be overwhelming as hell to try to compartmentalize your past into something neat and tidy, something to be packed up in a box and stored on a shelf with all the other boxes comprising the history of who you are and how you came to be.  There aren't enough boxes or shelves to hold the weight of a person.

Friday, March 8, 2013


Everyone has their own mantra.
~ Russell Brand

As a parent, it is certain that there will be times you have to talk to yourself to keep from going mad.  When you've answered the same question seven times (and it's usually a question that makes no sense, has no bearing or importance, and has no great definitive answer), when you've asked your tiny comrade to put their shoes on for the past twenty minutes with no response, or when you're just so completely exhausted and delirious that you've begun to lose your mind...muttering under your breath soooo works.

A mantra can be quite meditative and can transform you to a more peaceful place.  As a mom, I rely heavily on my self-delivered pep talks to get me through the day...or, as I like to refer to them, my "momtras".  Below are the typical "momtras" I frequently draw from:

Slow Down.  I tend to work through my days with the clock as my enemy, in that I cannot get quickly enough to the point in the evening when she is asleep, the house is quiet, the toys have been put away, and I have a glass of wine in hand.  From the moment I wake up, I feel as though I'm aiming at naptime, and once naptime is over, I begin to barrel towards bedtime.  Inevitably, though, once she is asleep at night, I find myself missing her and wanting to wake her up for a chat or a snuggle.  So throughout the day, I try to remind myself to stop gearing for the day to be over, and instead savor the time with her. 

Lighten Up.  I'm an exceedingly anal, Type A personality.  This can benefit our lives in a handful of ways, such as always being on time, never running out of the essentials (fruit snacks, toilet paper, wine), and having an organized home.  However, it also serves to our detriment because I tend to take things waaaayyyy too seriously.  One of my sole desires for Merrill is to ensure that she never takes herself or anyone else too seriously, that she is allowed to have a carefree fun childhood, and that she understands the importance of fun and spontaneity in order to keep some semblance of sanity.  It starts with me, and so I have to remind myself to just chill the fuck out at times and realize that in the grand scheme of things, crumbs and mismatched socks really won't cause the world to stop spinning.

Dig Deep.  This one is kind of a catchall for any variety of situations.  Whether it's my need to find the inner strength to play that game again, read that stupid story for the eleventy millionth time without losing my shit (seriously, why don't I ever remember to get rid of the books I loathe when she isn't looking?), or simply to get through the day without the desire to stab myself in the eye with a sharpened pencil, I have to often remind myself to dig deep...very deep...and find the patience lurking within.

Be Better.  Again, this one is pretty grandiose and wide-reaching.  It has a direct tie to "dig deep", except it relies more heavily on tapping into the ambitious part of me and forcing my lazy side to take a damn break already.  (My lazy side likes to dominate.)  I call on this momtra when I am reaching for a quick and easy dinner option instead of making sure it's nutritious and fortified with something other than sodium and saturated fat.  I repeat this one to myself when I'm tired and feel like doing little more than watching cartoons and pretending they are educational.  This is my go-to when I really don't want to do what Merrill is asking me to do (the 437th game of hide and seek, the alphabet puzzle that drives me batty because she says that every damn letter is a "c", etc.), and this is the one that forces me to be aware of my role as parent, guardian, educator, playmate, example setter, and so on.  This is the one that reminds me to be better for her, because damn if she doesn't deserve it.

                                            You know you're crazy, right?  K.  Just checking.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

When Trying Becomes Too Trying

The "what should be" never did exist, but people keep trying to live up to it.  There is no "what should be", there is only what is.
~ Lenny Bruce

For the past two years, I've been trying to get pregnant. 

Two years.

Writing that makes it seem both finite and abstract, as though two years is simply a number plucked out of thin air, a segment of time in which nothing has evolved...but everything has.  When we started discussing the notion of adding to our family, and when we agreed it was time, Merrill was almost two.  A barely talking, short haired chubby toddler in a crib.  Now her hair is longer than mine, her bed is bigger than the ones I had until I was a college graduate with a job, and she won't shut up.  So yes.  Things are evolving...just not the things I thought about when this process began.

Two years ago, I jokingly said "I hope you're ready", because I got pregnant with Merrill at a lightning fast pace and felt sure it would be that way again.  As in, maybe we should have a baby...and guess what?  Bam.  Now, after months and months and months of ovulation kits, calendars, fertility drugs, doctor's visits, and more negative pregnancy tests than I care to admit, I'm so depleted and discouraged that I want to walk away.  I don't want to try any more.


I'm not done.  I'm not done with this family, and I'm not done with the plans and hopes I had for us.  At this stage, our family feels like a three legged man, and I'm not done hoping that we will find his missing limb.  I'm not done crying, I feel sure of that, and I'm probably not done with the fruitless and meaningless question of "why?" that I throw out aimlessly into the air when no one is even around to hear it.  I'm not done with looking at babies and feeling a sparkling twinge of hope that one day, Merrill will be able to have a baby brother or sister.

I haven't handled it well.  I've existed precariously on edge, riding the wave of roller coaster emotions every given month...determination, hope, excitement, fear, nervousness, disappointment and devastation.  I've marked them off an imaginary to-do list every month, going through the motions and getting downright fucking pissed when I realize I have to start all over again once the page on the calendar is flipped.  I've tried to use sarcasm and forced humor to help ease the bitterness that rises in my throat.  I've enlisted the help of sleep aids to prevent the crushing sadness and anxiety that takes over every night, causing me to lie awake staring at the ceiling.  I've futilely attempted to get all philosophical about it, and pretend that I believe there is a reason for everything, and we just don't know what the reason for this is yet.  I've vaccillated wildly between my desire to keep going, and my desire to give the fuck UP and let it go, focus on what I do have and stop wishing for what I don't.

I find it shameful that every time Merrill acts up, or pitches a fit, my first thought is "if she weren't an only child, if she had a sibling, this wouldn't be happening".  Yes, I know that is wholly inaccurate, and sibling rivalries could put her little tantrums to shame, but it still floats through my mind each and every time.  Each time someone innocently asks me when we're having another one, I have to bite the side of my cheek, force a smile, and get through the words of "we're talking about it, we'll see"...words that feel like broken glass in my mouth.  When she conversationally tells me that she doesn't have a baby brother like her friend Brody from class, I can't decide if I want to cry or laugh.  I feel like I've spent so much time lately trying to think ahead, waiting and waiting for what comes next....if anything will come next...and I need to stop.  She is my baby, and she is my world, and while there is plenty of room in my world for more, she needs to be given every ounce of space available in it right now, while it exists for her and her alone.

I think I've traveled quite far past the point of making sense when it comes to this topic.  The uncertainty paralyzes me and the myriad of emotions make me feel trapped in my own mind, as though I've lost a solid grasp on how this all began and where it can go from here.  When it comes down to it, the helplessness and lack of control over the situation are things I need to accept rather than fight, because as much as I loathe letting go, I have no way to shape this to fit the way to put my foot down and make it happen.  It will happen, or it won't, and that's all there is.