Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Oh, so THIS is why I've been trying so hard to live in the moment...

Little did I know when I made that resolution, that it would be tested on such a regular basis. Perhaps it's just because I am focusing on the present and my own engagement with it, but the past few months have been a real exercise for me in breathing, accepting what is, making the best of it, and realizing that pretty much everything is actually good at it's core. I don't think I'm just trying to make lemonade out of lemons, but really digging deep to find the potential positive that lies inside every situation. And I find that doing so is continuously rewarding in terms of my realization of myself and what matters to me.

This evening, after a day of tantrums (Ethan) and crankiness (me) and mind-numbing exhaustion from working until 1am (Husband), your whole garden variety "woe is me" attitude looming over the whole family, we received a phone call from our landlord. Landlady? Landperson? Whatever. The person we write our rent check to called. To tell us we have to move. Move out. Move out of the house we've been in for almost a year and have slowly starting to call "home." This is, mind you, a mere month after she told us that she was happy to have us stay through June of 2010.

I was stunned. I don't WANT to leave this house. I don't WANT to be told what I have to do, let alone by someone I've never met. I just got back to a state of feeling like I'm in control of my life (to the extent that anyone can ever be in control). And now this. Like a nomad, once again. I have to move. Pack up everything I own and find a new place to call home.

Let's face it; I'm at an age where I kind of want to be living in my dream home. The one Husband and I raise our kid(s) in and endure empty-nest syndrome through until we down-size to a small place in the city where we can peruse art museums and sip coffee at local cafes (I want to vacation in the islands, not retire there). I'm not psyched to be living in a house that someone else owns while someone else is in DC, living in a house that I own. But that's how it is. And, as this particular house was starting to feel more like my home, I was becoming more comfortable with that. The flowers are blooming (not the ones I planted, mind you, but the ones that grow and crawl across our front porch eaves and carport), and friendly neighborhood children are stopping in our driveway asking, "Can Ethan come out and play?" It's pretty freaking close to Wisteria Lane (without the crazies--I think).

The point is, initially, I was preparing myself for panic. Looking around at the house, waiting for the anxiety to set in, the sadness and the general "woe-is-me-iness" of it all to kick in. And for a minute or two, it really did. I sat on the couch with my arms folded, my brain spinning about all that "what if's". What if I get pregnant and we have to move while I'm on bedrest or recovering from a cerclage surgery? What if we can't find a place in the same neighborhood? What if we end up in a less perfect neighborhood? What if Ethan struggles to adapt to yet another move?

But those moments went by quickly as I realized that I can do nothing about all of those particular "what if"s in this exact moment. I'm not pregnant, so really--it's not a factor in the move at all. This neighborhood? Didn't seem "perfect" to me until we'd been here for awhile; perfection is far more a state of mind than an actual reality. Of course, I had a hard time finding "perfection" when we lived across the street from a crack-den in Adams Morgan in DC several years ago, but within reason, you make your own perfection as you go. And if Ethan struggles to make this transition, it won't be the last time he faces a challenge in his life---and we'll deal with it. And whatever "what if"'s come up along the way will work themselves out, too, and aren't worth the energy of a panic attack in this moment.

Once this sense of calm came over me, I suggested to Husband that we toss the tantruming almost 3 year old into the jogging stroller and walk through the neighborhood, to see what "For Lease" signs we could locate. We saw several. We called a realtor whose name we saw on one of the signs---he showed us a gorgeous house in our neighborhood. Out of our price-range, but not by much.

It was reassuring to see that perhaps, our money will go farther now than it did a year ago in this rental market and perhaps, we'll find something that makes us just as happy. It was reassuring to realize that, having conquered the move across country as a family, we can be pretty sure that a move across town won't throw us for too big of a loop. We'll be together for yet another adventure. Another chapter.

We walked home, feeling fairly comfortable and confident. It's okay. For now, we still have the flowers in the front yard and the lemon tree in the back. We still have the kids calling for Ethan to come play. And we may as well enjoy those moments while we have them instead of kvetching over how in a few months, we'll have new flowers and new neighborhood children. For right now, I'm just going to be happy with what my "now" is, and let my future nows sit quietly waiting for me somewhere up the road.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Trip Recap

Can you hear that sound? It's probably audible from one side of the country to the other. It's the sound of me sighing the epic sigh of relief (my apologies in advance for my new-found adoration of the word "epic"--I cannot get enough of it and I am guaranteed to use it until it loses all meaning and just sounds like a gibberish modifier placed in front of discernible nouns). I also apologize that this entry will probably bounce all over the place like a 3-year old's story, because trying to fit 2 weeks worth of vacation into a blog entry, in my head, just isn't condusive to great writing.

We've been home for several days now, and though Ethan is still waking at ungodly-ish hours, we are otherwise back in our daily routine of pre-school, play dates, intermittent potty-training and way more Noggin than some would approve of. Life is good.

So was our trip. For the most part. We stayed with family and friends, basked in the cool, cloudy weather that is the East coast in the spring, visited some of our old stomping grounds, enjoyed a fabulous Saturday afternoon BBQ with our nearest and dearest friends, revisited our weekly playgroup and caught up with some of my favorite moms and their amazing kids, and generally felt peaceful and at home in our surroundings, as though no time had passed.

This is of course excluding the drive by our currently rented house, where we noticed the tenants, who are supposedly real life rocket scientist types, have put a tiki torch on our front porch. The front porch with a wooden overhang and roof. The roof that currently has black scorch marks immediately above said tiki torch. I asked Husband if we had fire insurance because what could be less cool than our tennants burning our house to the ground?

But in good news, the Squirrel Mansion I used to kvetch about during my pregnancy (the abandoned, boarded up house next door to ours) is currently and finally condemned, so with any luck it will be torn down and gone by the time we can sell our house and our property value won't be adversely impacted. Although, in true bleeding heart form, I am concerned about where all those poor squirrels will live once the place gets demolished. Well, as long as they don't try to set up shop in my walls or attic; then my bleeding heart gets overtaken by the agony of my bleeding wallet and I'd happily blow the little fuckers up with the condemned house (okay, that's not really true, but still...squirrels, stay away from my hoooooooouse!!!)

We spent 5 days in MD/DC/VA and then Husband hopped a flight back to LA for work and Ethan and I drove with my dad down to South Carolina to spend a few more days with family before heading back to LA. Let's just say that parenting in front of one's parents can present some interesting challenges. Especially when one's parenting style is slightly or vastly different from one's parents. Especially when one is without their significant other, and their pre-schooler (he's not even really a toddler anymore, is it?) has just hit the phase of "Let me see if I can get my way by throwing screaming fits and tantrums and whining until you want to gouge your eardrums out with forks just to make it stop". For the record, he doesn't get his way, and I have yet to gouge my eardrums out, but I have definitely eyes the forks longingly when we're in the middle of one of these epic battle of wills. And they are infinitely worse when they happen in front of the judging eyes of ones own parents, whether that judgment is perceived or real.

There were countless wonderful moments in the trip, not the least of which were the beautiful golf-cart drives just before sunset over the golf course where my mom let Ethan sit on her lap and steer the cart with her. As they drove the cart on the path over the marsh to the 13th hole, I couldn't help but sit back (in spite of my history of generally loathing golf) and think that this was one of the greatest childhood memories Ethan will have, and how peaceful and beautiful and wonderful it was to have this opportunity.

Having my mom share what is essentially her element with Ethan brought me back to my own grandmother trying to teach me how to latch hook on one of her giant rugs, or plant flowers in her garden, or draw with pastels---sadly all things I never quite got the hang of, but that made me love my grandmother with a swelling, awe-filled love that I never let go of. Perhaps Ethan will never be a great golfer (which is pretty much a foregone conclusion given that he handled his toy golf club and wiffle golf balls more like they were an oversized game of tiddley-winks than golf), but those moments of driving the course with my mother, yelling, "hi birdies!!!" as we passed lounging snowy egrets and stopping to quietly watch people tee off at whatever hole we were approaching, will weave their way into his memory forever, I hope.

Okay, but enough of that waxing poetic stuff. Can we talk about the trip home? Where I traveled, alone with Ethan, from South Carolina to Los Angeles? This in and of itself would not be a horrible thing; Ethan is a fairly good traveler--give him some stickers and DVD of Dora and he's pretty much self-sufficient for a good portion of any flight. But when you add Delta Airlines to the mix? You basically get an travel disaster of epic proportions (hello, hyperbole, my old friend; I've missed you!).

We left Myrtle Beach on the tiniest plane ever. Thank god that as we were walking across the tarmac to climb up the stairs of the teeny tiny plane, Ethan decided to be the cool, brave kid who was jazzed by the idea of being on a plane that was small enough to probably fit snugly into his toy box at home. I, on the other hand, nearly took us both plummeting down the steps to our deaths (okay, maybe just to our sprained ankles) as I tried to carry him and our two carry-ons up the ridiculously steep stairs to the plane. As an aside, "Thank you Delta flight attendent, for watching me struggle up each and every step with my unbalanced load of cargo, and not once even considering to offer me a hand as you stood at the top step, smiling. Had I known that your aloof disregard for your customer was an indication of your entire organization's general suckiness, I would have stepped off the plane right then and booked a flight home on a different carrier."

We were supposed to be leaving early (a Delta habit that was to bite me in the ass later in the day), but ended up sitting on the tarmac for upwards of 30 minutes so we could let a couple of fighter jets take off. Don't get me started. Don't we have military bases for that kind of stuff? And then, when we got into the air in our tiny almost-not-even-really-a-plane plane, we ended up circling Atlanta for 45 minutes for some reason that never became clear to me.

What did become clear to me was that said random circling was going to jeopardize our connecting flight. The pilot told us we'd be landing at 2:30 in terminal D. Our connecting flight was at 2:40, from terminal A. Very few people in this world suck at math as badly as me, and even I knew that was not a good equation. So I flagged down a flight attendant to ask him if he knew anything about the connections, figuring he might tell me that they were aware of the delays and were holding other flights, or that there'd be someone at our gate when we landed to call ahead and let them know that people needing connections were on their way---you know, things normal airlines do when they've made their customers late to connections and whatnot. Basic customer service type things. It's not like I was expecting anyone to bend the time-space contiuum to give me those 45 minutes back or anything; I mean, I'm reasonable.

So when I said to him, "Excuse me. I have a connecting flight at 2:40," you can imagine my reaction when the only response out of his mouth as he scoffed his way by me was, "That's not my problem."

Jaw. Dropping. Blood. Pressure. Rising.

If I hadn't been seat-belted and trying to entertain Ethan, I probably would have gotten up and chased him up the teeny tiny hallway, shaking a finger at him and telling him that's not a nice way to talk to your paying customers. I was that angry. Indignant old-lady angry. But I'm one of those people who adheres freakishly to all lighted placards, so I stayed seated with my seatbelt securely fastened and muttered angrily under my breath. Crazy old-lady angry.

We landed just before 2:30 and the few people on the plane with us parted for us like the Red Sea to let us get off to make our connection. I am eternally grateful to them for their kindness, but given we were trying to make a Delta connection, fat lot of good it did us.

I strapped Ethan into the Ergo (one serious bonus of having a 24lb almost 3 year old), our carry ons, and ran. Ran to the shuttle. Ran off the shuttle. Ran up an escalator, huffing, "excuse me", "excuse me" the whole way up. Ran to the gate. Stopped running at the closed door to the jetway. At 2:36. Four minutes before the plane was set to take off. Barely breathing. No one in sight. Tickets in my hand.

When the Delta person finally emerged from the jet way, I literally begged to be let on the plane. He said, "Sorry. The plane's full. You were late." Meanwhile, Ethan is whining in my ear, "I want my daddy. Where's daddy?" He was under the impression that getting off the plane meant the trip was over and we were running to meet Husband, not another plane. Poor bean.

If the flight attendant on the first plane made my blood pressure rise, this guy sent me somewhere between apopletictic and homocidal rage. I tried to be as nice as I could whilst begging for our rightful place on the plane, explaining that it's not like I was late because stopped off for a latte, made a phone call and lost track of time. I pointed out that it was THEIR plane that was late getting me here in the first place and that my tickets had been purchased more than a month ago (sorry to pull rank on the stand-by flyers of the world, but really).

When it became obvious to me that this guy was just a colossal dick and wasn't going to help me, I let stomped off to the ironically named "Delta Help Desk." I believe my parting words to him were, "You people are fucking useless!", and I hoped the whole way to the help desk that he didn't walkie-talkie ahead and give them a description of me for further screwing over.

At the "help" desk, I was initially told that they would put me on a 9:30am flight the following morning. This, thankfully, may have been when the anger drained from me and the tears started instead. I took a deep breath and said to the woman in my best damsel-in-distress-near-tears voice, "I don't have a carseat. I can't leave the airport. I can't keep my kid in the airport overnight. I don't have enough diapers. I need to get on a plane today! Pleeeeeeease."

More flies with honey. Thank goodness, she put us on a flight that just moments before she had called "completely full" (how the freaking hell do they do this shit???!!!), and we were sent with new boarding passes to Gate 27 to wait for another 2 hours.

We were seated in the midst of a group of teenage boys traveling home from spring break. For the tiniest of moments I missed teaching high school. High school boys are the best, and I don't mean that in a Mary Kay LaTourneau kind of way--they were just funny and sweet to Ethan and were a nice change of pace from your average business traveler.

In some sort of Karmic way, I should have known not to fly Delta. A few years ago, I participated in the nurse-in protests that were held across the country after a Delta flight attendant booted a nursing mother off a plane before take off for refusing to cover up her nursing child with an airplane blanket. I should have known the Delta gods were just waiting to fuck with me. Oh well. Never again.

Pictures? You want pictures? You got 'em....

Still in his jammies, Ethan is ready to go w/ his paci and his "super cool bag"

Remote control? Check. Head phones? Check. Window seat? Check. Let's go!

Ethan and Grandma Judy
Ethan preparing for his foray into the Baltimore Harbor's dragon boats.

Mama and E

With Ethan at the helm (and some serious help from Husband), we did not hit one boat. Impressive.

The obsession w/ "Judy's keys" continues. True love knows no boundaries.

At the Barnes and Noble Thomas table. Pure joy.

A few too many blue-coated after dinner chocolates--the Jewish equivalent of an Easter treat.

Me and Mah Friends!

Mah Friends' Babies!

Ethan doing his best Handy Manny impersonation.

Karen and her cute-enough-to-eat baby, Sammy.

In lieu of an Easter egg hunt, Ethan hid himself in the bushes of the National Cathedral.

And smelled some tulips in the National Cathedral's gardens.

ohdeargod, stop me before I chew on him. He's too stinking cute!!!!

Lunch with the play group.

playgroup fun!

swinging on the tire at our old play ground.

Chillin' at the Hammock Shop in South Carolina.

Ethan's first ride on the twirling tea cups. Still not sure if it was a hit or miss. But at least there was no vomiting.

Ethan tries to golf with a football...

Until Grampy gives him a lesson in the world's biggest sand trap.

looking for seashells with Grampy.

Notice there are no pictures of the way home? 'Nuff said.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Where to Begin?

Well, thank goodness April isn't NaBloPoMo, or whatever it is called. That would be an epic FAIL on my part (oh. wait. I've never actually accomplished the whole NaBloPoMo thing anyway).

But here I am, so what would you like to hear? About my trip to DC? About my trip to South Carolina? About my flight o' hell via Delta Airlines back to Los Angeles?

All in all it was a lovely time. Did Ethan start whining, "I want to go home!" sometime around Day 2, and continue to whine it with such urgency that by day 7 we were actually researching the cost involved in moving our flights up to get home sooner? Sure. Did he try his hardest to wake the entire household every night we were staying with friends in DC? You betcha. Did he throw a head-exploding tantrum our first night in South Carolina with my parents that led to some fabulously tense moments with the entire family? Why wouldn't he?! And did our trip home test the very limits of my sanity and my ability to deal civilly with annoying people? Indeed. But it was good.

I will post more later. Right now I have about 2.5 weeks worth of blog reading to catch up on. I have missed reading everyone's posts while I've been away. Here's a little something for your viewing pleasure...

Friday, April 03, 2009

The Road Not Taken...

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth.

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
---Robert Frost

Last week, Husband and I discussed the future. Specifically our future as it relates to this journey we've been on for the past year. You know? The one where I keep trying to get knocked up, but don't? The one where we thought that by now, we'd be walking around in the sleep-deprived haze of having a newborn? The one where I've been letting people stick needles and dyes and herbs in my body in the hopes that those things can figure out how to make a baby magically appear in my uterus? The one where I'll be adding fertility drugs to that mix of needles and dyes and herbs next month? Yeah, that one.

We discussed just how long we're willing to keep this up. I know if we were younger, if we didn't already have a child, the answer to that question would most likely be: "Forever," or "However long it takes." But I'm almost 38 and we do have an amazing and wonderful son already. So the answer becomes far more ambiguous.

I think about the past several months and sadly, the first thing that comes to mind is the failure of trying to get pregnant, and the energy spent on that pursuit. How is that right? Shouldn't the first thing that comes to mind be the child I have and adore, and the husband I love? How can the absence of something that doesn't even exist become the center of my sense of being? How is that right?

It's incredibly hard not to measure out the months as failure versus success when you're trying to have a baby. And as such, every month for the past year has felt, on some level, like a failure. I continue, in general, to be in a good mood and outwardly am very positive (I think??!), but somewhere on the inside, that nagging sense of failure is catching up to me. And it's detracting from all the amazing and wonderful successes and joys that we've experienced in our lives alongside this ever-frustrating attempt to bring another child into the world.

So Husband and I have come to the decision that our baby-making days are numbered. Emotionally, it's just not healthy for us to keep going beyond a certain point. Limbo is a pretty sucky state of existence. Next month we will start Clomid, give it 3-4 months to see if it can do what everything else we've tried for the past year or so hasn't been able to do, and if not, we are done.

There's something very freeing about having made that decision. Especially given the complications of pregnancy (at least in my life), the idea that it either will, or will not, happen in that given time and then we move on with the future, whichever road that might be, is incredibly liberating. I know that I will not still be trying to have a baby when I turn 38. I will either have that baby or I won't. And I will move on with my life accordingly, and happily.

A part of me has struggled with this decision--if I can so easily put a time limit on trying to get pregnant, does that mean on some level I don't really want a second child? What if I look back 10 years from now and hate myself for not pursuing it further? Will Ethan be happy as an only child?

The truth is, I want a second child almost more than anything. The only thing I want more than a second child is for my first child to always know and feel that he is loved and adored. And there are days right now when I am so busy going to doctor's appointments and acupuncture appointments that he gets a little lost in the shuffle. The days when my period shows up are rollercoasters for us because I am battling the inner voice of failure yet again. And in general, so much of my emotional energy is placed on the non-existent instead of the perfection and potential that is living and breathing in front of me. That's a price I'm not willing to pay.

And will I look back 10 years from now and regret not purusing it further? Maybe. I have no way of knowing what Sarah at 47 will think or feel, or need, or want. So I can't live for that Sarah. She'll have to find a way to be at peace with the life she has, no matter what it looks like when she gets there. And part of me thinks that perhaps giving up this seemingly futile quest is actually a step in the right direction to ensuring that when I do get to that point in my life, I am at peace and content, and appreciating what I have and what I am capable of, instead of focusing on what I seem to be incapable of, or don't have.

So perhaps the next few months will be wrought with even more of the anxieties and pressures that trying to conceive brings. Because they are the last months, and they are going to be the months with the most interventions. But that's okay. Because either way, they will result in a wonderful and amazing new life.