Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I'm a Good Mommy

It's true.  My husband has said so more often than I can count recently...but best of all, my three and a half year old bundle of perfection just told me so!

We seem to have what many would consider a "tough year" most years in this family.  It all simply amounts to being the stuff of life that all the good moments happen around, but this year in particular, we started with close to $100K in consumer debt (not counting mortgages and car payments), and we are now exiting the year with half that problem.  While we started out fighting every unknown bug that could affect a tiny little human, we are now exiting with very distinct bugs and we've not had too terrible a time of it since tonsils and adenoids were removed in February.

And while we're much, much, much happier than we were last January (anti depressants and half the debt problem with limited illnesses is the magic answer), we're sending 2013 out with what appears to be a flaming stake up the arse hole.  In our general geographic area, the kids have been plagued with an outbreak of gastroenteritis in epic proportions, and now we're dealing with one hell of a head cold, which is robbing people of their will to live.  And I without a sick day left to my name, my grandmother has had an accident, my mother has needed help taking care of her, and I have been trying to be the model parent of a sick kid at the same time that I'm trying to be a model employee and model grand/daughter.  Them's the breaks.  I always told my mom I wanted to be supermom...now karma's kicking me in the teeth...asking me how's that feel?

But I'll tell you, the suffering, the sleeplessness, the emotional binge eating and general slavery for others is worth it, when your husband hollers from the rooftops how much he loves and appreciates everything you do.  And when in a moment of pure perfection, your sick child looks over at you, strokes your cheek gently and whispers "you're a good mommy".

I wish we could ring the bells on 2013 right this very second.  I want to leave it feeling like this.  I want to greet 2014 with more optimism, hope and energy than I had last January.  God I hope nothing else tries to kill the holidays for me between now and then.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Make the Good Things Count More

I've come to the conclusion that every good deed we do, should carry more points than anything else we do just to survive or even more, than those we do to disrupt someone else negatively.

I'm addicted to doing good.  I often don't give myself credit for that, because well, in every day ordinary life, that sounds precocious and snooty.  But I honest to goodness believe that my purpose in this life is to make the world a better place through small acts of goodness every single day.  Yes, selfishly, I long to hear someone...anyone...say that I've made a real positive impact in their lives.  But before you get all "look at the self egrandizing bitch go", it's not really because I want accolades or applause.  It's because I look for the confirmation that my purpose is being lived.  I want to make a difference.  I HAVE to make a difference every day.  I think my mom would be surprised to hear this, but I know I learned it from her and my dad.  In some way shape or form, I learned to appreciate everything in the world they gave to us.  I saw what they sacrificed, and appreciated what I was given.  This has made me the person I am today.

I HOPE that over time, those little differences through goodness amass to a whole lot of people who truly miss me when I'm gone, and who truly appreciate what I've done in my life and what my life has given to the world around me because then it was meaningful.

This week we delivered our hamper for a family we adopted for the Christmas holidays.  It's a first for me.  I've organized toy drives, and I've coordinated food drives.  I've even donated toys to the toy drives run by the police brigades and fire halls...but this was different.  This was my family giving Christmas to another family in our community, because we wanted to.  We wanted to teach our daughter through example the absolute awesomeness of giving to others when we have enough to share.  And I'll be honest, I sat on pins and needles waiting for the agency to come back with our match.  I waited on the edge of my seat, hoping against hope, that we wouldn't be matched up with a family whose wish list consisted of video games and designer purses.  I prayed we wouldn't get a family who were so adamantly opposed to birth control that the whole reason they had to apply for assistance in the first place was that they had 6 kids and not enough income to support their sex habit.

And don't get me wrong.  It's not that I believe some kids shouldn't get what they wish for at Christmas. Christmas is about the magic of being delivered miracles...no matter how big or how poor your family is.  BUT there is a certain degree of responsibility that needs to surround the charitable gift and the charitable receipt.  It's that whole idiom "if you give a man a fish, he eats one meal, if you teach a man to fish he eats every meal" in play here.  When I give, it's with the hope that it will give a lift to someone who is already actively trying to help themselves, and for whom it will have real meaning. Someone who asks for charity, but isn't responsible or thoughtful about their requests, isn't going to pay it forward and isn't going to be mindful that the gift came with heartfelt thoughts and meaning.  In any regard, we were blessed with a family match who made us want to give more and do more, and delivering that hamper made me feel awesome.

And so I've been thinking, as I wrap gifts and continue to teach my daughter that these gifts are ones we're giving the people we love to show them how much we appreciate them, that this is indeed my purpose, and probably the unclear path for so many others.

A lot of the things we do on a daily basis out of habit, are indeed acts of kindness for the people in our lives that we love.  These are the small things that overtime make a difference.  As a wife and mother, I cook the meals, do the dishes, tidy up, run kids to dance class, take little adventure trips through new neighborhoods on the way home from preschool.  I get the mail, do the shopping, host the parties, give the smiles, the kisses, the hugs.  I call my mother daily, and make time for my elderly grandmother.  I take time off work to be at my mother in law's bedside and be her medical advocate when no one else is willing or able.  I offer to help a colleague, I take a deep breath and cushion criticisms at work.  I actively listen in meetings, and when I do have to deliver bad criticisms, I remind the person first what I think they do great.  I put myself out there.  I wear my heart on my sleeve.  And more often than not, I wish there was more I could do.  I am living the Christian life so many other "christians" have stopped living.  I am by no means perfect, but even trying has to be worth something.

And while I'm not naive, I do believe that if this world is operating on a points system, virtual or otherwise, if even half of us could do more of this every day, even just acknowledging it all for ourselves, we might
feel better about ourselves and be able to deal with many of the symptoms of mental illness in a much better way
we'd be better capable of coping with the onset and the triggers for depression and anxiety and
we'd maybe just maybe, be able to create a system in which doing good trumps doing bad.

We could shift social paradigms that seem to be rife with "I got mine.  Go away."  I smell a personal project brewing for me in 2014.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Frying Pan Meets the Fire

So, I've been frazzled, and busy, and talking on and on about feeling depressed, anxious and teetering on the way less than awesome quotients I impose on myself.  And now there's pile on happening at work.

It's a classic case of the guy who makes more money, hasn't been able to do what's required AND he's drowning, so the shit flows downhill, lands in my lap because well, I can manage it - but it comes without any additional money, no atta girls...just a "got this?  Thanks." and a whole bunch of high tailing it to the rear corners of the auditorium so they can watch in near absolute darkness.

mmm Yeah.  Alright.  So I've let people know I have concerns absorbing someone else's 50% of work load and trying to fit it into my 20% available time, when all the projects that he's downloading are high profile, high stakes, highly volatile, and totally cluster fucked.

And that was met with abject silence.  I guess in silence I have my answer.  And to be honest, with just 2 weeks left of the work year, I'm less than energized, motivated or proactive to be jumping in and throwing anyone a life raft.  I got my own shit to worry about yo.

So now I guess it's a waiting game - I almost don't care that when it blows up, it will be on my watch.  Maybe then, they'll think twice before ignoring an email.