Friday, November 17, 2017

Pauses

About 6 months ago, the Beats and I established a new morning ritual. Following a 6 am wake-up call (side note: I haven't needed an alarm clock in over 4 years), both the Beats and cats lead me downstairs to help empty the dishwasher and feed Jaxson and Daisy. Once completed, we begin breakfast. On days I don't have my act together, it's cereal and apple sauce. But on other days, it's a ritual of preparing waffles, with them loading their breakfast into the toaster to be warmed up. The weekends are more involved as I'll make said waffles, allowing them to help with preparing the recipe: 2 cups flour, 1 Tbsp sugar, 1/2 tps salt, 1/4 tps baking soda, 1 1/2 tps baking powder, 2 egg yolks, 1 tsp vanilla, 1/4 cup melted butter, 1 1/2 cups cultured buttermilk and 2 egg whites (beat to slightly-stiff peaks).

It's these morning moments, even though my brain is barely awake, that have been staying with me. The forced pauses in the rush to get out the door in the morning. They're reminders for why Grey and I fight to carve out a space for our family in this world. From seeing Jaxson sit up on his haunches, eyes trained on the bowl of food He-Beat is bringing him; rewarding He-Beat with a quick head butt to say "thank you" as soon as his bowl is placed on the floor. Or seeing She-Beat as she hands me spoons or glasses out of the dishwasher, her face frozen in fixed concentration as she remembers where all the dishes belong. Or seeing both Beats wait patiently by the toaster, all the while informing me about the art of waffle warming and the next steps of maple syrup application and cutting that need to happen.

All of this is in stark contrast to the rest of my day. The rushing around, frantic checking-off of items on the to-do, the job applications and planning for an uncertain future. The feeling of having to race to the finish line, be it the day, the month or the contract with no clear end in sight.

Not surprising, it's not the rush, but the pauses that give me peace; that form the memories and magic moments. Starting with memories from long ago of sleeping in late, cuddling with Grey. Of kitten Jaxson curled up on Grey's lap in the car as we drove to see my in-law. Of the hikes through cedar forests and camping trips by hotsprings. Of morning playmat sessions while I was pumping. And now with unloading the dishwasher and warming up waffles.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Dive

Job hunting has put me into a weird headspace. Scanning job boards, drafting cover letters and reaching out for new network connections has been a draining process. On some days, I'm able to kick out at least 2-3 applications, finding a way to muster the energy to seeing myself in the role and how bringing me in as part of the team would benefit that company.

What's hard, though, is expecting the rejection. Knowing that most of the time this ad was written with a particular person already in mind and that rejection letters will likely follow.

All of this reminds me of infertility and being in treatment. The mindset that can readily set in from too many failed attempts of doing the same thing over and over.

I've been thinking about this all morning as I ran my first educational program. One that I helped design and was in charge of executing. In so many ways, there's how I wanted it to play out and how it actually went. How even though the outcome wasn't what I expected, there was a lot of amazing things that came from it.

With fertility treatments, Grey and I ultimately did get the expected outcome. We got to experience pregnancy and bring home our babies. But the road we traveled, the people we met along the way and seeing the paths towards resolution most wouldn't consider were unexpected outcomes. I exited the infertility waiting room changed in a way that I never expected, teaching me to dive into realms of possibilities that have shaped me for the better.

So that's what I've been holding on to. The assumption that there are things I shouldn't consider or paths I shouldn't follow has been thrown out the door. Because at the end of the day, who knows what the outcome will be from that increasing pile of rejection letters or failed endeavors. What if it was all about just having the courage to try, diving into the unknown?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Slow

This morning, I took with the Beats with me to visit She-Beat's new school. He-Beat had zero trouble integrating, but She-Beat took her time. Within a few minutes, she was settled for Circle Time, participating in the morning activities.

Yesterday, I reached out to a recruiter to begin the process of finding contract work. Given my extended stay in academia, I know industry has zero idea how my skill set will transfer, so I'm in need of help with this transition. The recruiter did a nice job asking needed clarifying questions, giving me guidance on what not to do and laying out a plan for next steps.

Later today, our landlord is having a HVAC professional come to our rental to assess the oil tank and furnace, hopefully also identifying why we have no heat in our bedroom.

Finally, Grey has been given some clarifying news about his situation. The fact that there are competing parties who once again are competing for him, but also the suggestion that he apply for a position that he was told wasn't for him (that hiring manager apparently was reprimanded as they've been backtracking a lot).

All of this is happening slowly. Bit by bit, the pieces are coming together. There's still a lot of fighting and hard feelings; grief over what has been lost (trust being a big one). But there's movement. There's change. With me praying that it will all be for the better.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Coming out of it

So yeah. Yesterday. . . .

The interview was awesome. Truly. I love the team, the mission and what they are envisioning for the future. And I could see not only how I could fit into the group, but could grow. I truly felt that a younger version of me who didn't have to worry about silly things like finances would thrive there.

But that's thing, I do have worry about finances. I do have small children to consider and all financial support for my family comes from Grey and me.

And so I spent yesterday facing a very hard and fast reality that I can no longer pursue this work. That as much as I believe in what I've been doing, it's been hurting the Beats and Grey. I've sacrificed them for too long and it has to stop.

We live in a world where the focus from our leadership is "me and mine." As those in power point fingers at one another, spending their waking hours trying to shuffle blame, what they fail to see is how avoiding the needed hard work is hurting the majority. Those that serve our communities and help them grow (teachers, social workers, emergency personal) have been minimized and punished for too long. Greed has become the driving force for those who lead this nation and our world. And it's a scary thought as greed, fear and hatred have never been rallying points for building and overcoming hardship.

Today I'm closing the door on a chapter that I truly loved. I'm beginning the process to apply for positions that will allow me to use my science training in more corporate settings. It all makes me so sad as it's not what I wanted or envisioned.

But the truth is neither the world we currently live in. And I'm beyond tired of fighting a battle at the expense of those I care most about.


Monday, November 13, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Visualize

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

This morning I had an interview for a new position. It went very well, with a fruitful discussion afterwards. I love the mission of this organization, which is job training and placement for those who are socio-economically disadvantaged. 

The problem is the pay. The insanely low pay that doesn't cover childcare. 

Years ago, a woman I was climbing with had an affirmation in her kitchen reminding her to visualize her end goals. In her case, it was finding employment that would allow her the ability to pay her bills while giving her the freedom to pursue rock climbing. But the affirmation was a universal one.

And that's what I'm trying to do at the moment. Instead of panicking and throwing all this hard work out the window, I'm trying to put together an image of what I want. Even if it's just for the short-term. To visualize an end-goal that promotes my family.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Punching back

I'm exhausted. After a running an educational program yesterday (which went very well and was a lot of fun), spending the evening filling out new enrollment forms and prepping for an interview tomorrow, a nap is what I was looking forward to today.

Until I learned that our bedroom doesn't have any heat. Making it not habitable. And it would be one thing if this was the only issue, but when the lawyer mentioned "Board of Health" combined with "shutting her property down," I found my head spinning.

I'm so fucking tried of fighting with people. Of being treated terribly by others for no reason other than I don't come from specific social circles. Now that we've hit the unlawful end, though, it's time to start punching back.

And that's probably the most baffling of all. That it takes setting boundaries and informing people of "no" in order to get them to behave. Sure, there's in initial argument. Them fighting to convince you that the problem actually lies with you. But when the dust settles and the facts are laid out, these same people them treat you better if for no other reason than that they hate the bloody nose or cracked teeth they received in the process.

So we're contacting a lawyer again, figuring out what we can and cannot do. We're looking for options for housing, but also for jobs elsewhere in the country and/or the world. Because after living with a leaking oil tank, a broken furnace and so many other problems, why not.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Fighting together

Yesterday was pretty shitty. Following spending the morning crying my eyes out during the enrollment termination meeting, I spent midmorning reviewing the course I'm helping with (the graduate students are being buttheads, but the thought on how to address said buttheadedness has revealed polar opposite viewpoints). I ended the day with another rejection letter (not the position I'm interviewing for on Monday), leaving me feeling extremely deflated.

None of that was helpful to Grey when he walked through the door and announced that work is fucking with him again. He's frustrated as they continue to give him stellar reviews, but then dick with him about his contract. They did this a few months ago, hemming and hawing his employment status and only got things together when they got word another company was interested in hiring him (this lead to more infighting when it also became apparent that each group leader wanted him on their project, meaning he was booked up 200%, which has since been rectified). He's been feeling like the dirty secret in this relationship with them sending signals they aren't interested in truly committing. So coming home on the heels of a shitty news combined with more shitty news didn't combine for a great evening.

One of the things Grey and I have been struggling with is how to fight together. Part of this comes with feeling safe to vent frustrations with one another, but being frustrated by more negative news that adds to the frustrations. The additional part is just being so exhausted. Our careers haven't been stable in a very long time and the training we've received never truly prepared us for what we're both facing now. The mental gymnastics we both do for our careers is exhausting in and of itself, never mind throwing in all the recent drama with daycare and our housing

The thing is, I also know that when we fight together, we're a pretty amazing force. I've lost count of the examples I can give you where we've tackled a problem together resulting in an outcome that exceeds expectations (if not frightens the offending party). We're pretty damn awesome at playing to each other's strengths, covering for the weakness or struggles and building towards what we want. It's just a matter of setting the stage, giving us both time to plan and assess. And not feeling attacked or undermined.

That’s the part that messing with us: setting the stage. Identifying what we both want and strategizing each of our roles in order to get to that end goal. Because as of late, there’s been way too much to navigate. With the daycare, it’s buying time until we can firm up enrollment at the new schools. With housing, it’s deciding if our landlord is moving fast enough vs deciding to find a new place (though we did learn she has violated the lease). And with our careers it’s a matter of figuring out what we’re each willing to live with. Each of these is a project in and of itself.

So we’re trying. Often unsuccessfully, but still getting back on that horse. Because the only other option is to fight one another. And frankly, that would be the worst fight of all.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

The Breakup

This morning, I gave notice at the Beats's daycare. The director and I had already scheduled a meeting the previous week to follow up on the assessments, but everything had gotten extremely bad since the initial assessments were sent in. It was clear that the director's goal was to reprimand me for my outburst on Monday, schooling me on proper communication. She left the meeting expressing shock over the complete failure of communication from her staff, both to us but supposedly to her and was visibly upset when I told her about the Beats actively expressing they didn't like school.

My phone conversation with Grey helped me remember that it's always a warning sign when people who supposedly have a track record tell you that your situation is something they've never dealt with before. I first experienced this as a young adult when my landlord misplaced my rent check and called demanding a replacement. When I informed him the check cancelation fee was coming out of my rent, he threatened me with eviction and informed me that he had never heard of such a practice before (I would find out later he regularly did this and was on the city's slumlord watch list). We went through this again with Cyrol, with his insistence that no one ever had a problem with him. More recently with our last landlord when she informed us she had never had a conflict with tenants (even though she had previously confessed to the contrary). Sadly, this is more of the same. The difference is we also have documentation from an outside source supporting otherwise.

As of today, a clock is ticking for transition. Yesterday I signed application forms and put down a deposit for a new preschool. Plans are already moving forward with the new institutions. In addition, I have agreed to be respectful, emphasizing that I need the same in return (which hasn't been happening). But that's the thing about breakups: no one really leaves the situation happy and the goal with terminating the relationship is to do so in a way that is least destructive. Considering the Beats are on the line, it's even more important.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

When it pours

Yesterday, as I settled into doing some last minute work prior to picking up the Beats, I got a phone call from their daycare. The teacher was calling to let me know that She-Beat had a rug-burn mark on her body, but that she had come to school with it so it wasn't something they were going to document. As the teacher began to hang-up the phone, I informed her that She-Beat hadn't left the house with any marks on her body.

45 minutes later, I would be standing in pediatric urgent care, begging the nurses to an appointment. They got her in as soon as they could, where the doctor assessed the raised marks on her body, declaring it some sort of bug bite or allergic reaction that she had been rubbing and sending us home with a dosing recommendation for Benadryl.

I would then end the night with trying to return some rotting vegetables that had been purchased a couple of days earlier (the store's policy allows for it), but being treated terribly in the process like I was somehow scamming the system.

It wasn't a good night.

Today has been a hard one. Despite having two good tours for new preschools, news from our landlord that she's moving forward with repairs and a pending interview for me next week, I'm really struggling with feeling hopeful. A big part of me wants to fight, laying into the people that have been the sources for so much anxiety and pain. It's because of this that Grey and I have been fighting as he really wants me to avoid burning bridges (and I do agree with him). But damnit, it's hard not to go off the deep end for things that make everyone in the room quickly fall silent and stare at you with wide-eyes.

There's the saying "when it rains, it pours." Hell, there's even a country music song and rap song about it. The bad on top of the bad. But like with any storm, the downpour can only last for so long. I'm just wondering how much longer this downpour is going to go on for. Because I would really, really like to see a rainbow very soon. That instead of feeling a need to scream, there's just a sense of peace.

Monday, November 6, 2017

#MicroblogMondays: Meraki

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

Meraki: putting yourself into something; usually described doing something with soul, creativity and/or love. 

Given the complete shit-storm that was this weekend, I've been craving creativity. So last night, instead of ordering delivery,  I pulled some pizza dough out of the refrigerator and learned how to toss it. 


The end result was far from perfect, with there still needing to be some experimentation. But spending those 20 minutes doing something outside of problem-solving a situation that has been draining my soul, filling it again felt good.


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Baby steps through trauma

This morning, as I went down to the basement to grab laundry out of the dryer, I discovered standing water around the washing machine. Because it's never just one repair. After alerting Grey and allowing him to do some investigating, I contacted our landlord to alert her to the problem. Which is when the angry phone calls started. The frustration on the other end of the line from two people, making it clear that they were well in over their heads.

Later that afternoon, I ran into our landlord's aunt, who happens to be our neighbor and a conversation began not only about the ongoing maintenance problems but also how the family is trying to help our landlord manage the current situation. And though the future isn't terribly clear for how all of this will play out, what is increasingly clear is the need for moving forward was tackling the issues one at a time, taking baby steps to overcome now two massive maintenance projects.

It's been odd to be in the middle of all of this, hearing the panic from someone where it's clear that all of this is the most traumatic set of situations they've ever faced. To see this newness of pain and trauma following having lived through so much loss myself. To be clear, I'm not judging the pain. After all, Grey and I are the ones who are currently living in the middle of it. But whereas we have a honed strategy and a tiredness after years of dealing with trauma after trauma, its very odd to observe this fresh sense of shock and grief from people who have never faced anything like this.

So in a weird way, we've become the teachers. We're guiding our landlord through dealing with all this uncomfortableness and unpleasant surprises will reminding them that they cannot put their heads in the sand. In short, we're acting as guides on how to do baby steps through trauma. The identifying priorities and helping them address what is immediately in front of them.

All the while being mindful that the Pain Olympics serves no one. Because at the end of the day it doesn't get us to the end goal we desire.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Deferred Maintenance

Midmorning, Grey, the Beats and I made our way to the U.S. Post office to deal with passports. For Grey and me, our passports are expiring and require us to submit renewals; for the Beats, it's the first time we've applied for them. Following pictures being taken and both Beats settling in with our phones so we could finalize applications, the postal worker asked us why we haven't applied sooner. After all, most people pursuing these applications when their children are infants. The quiets pause that followed with her scanning the looks on both our faces basically gave her the answer she needed with her announcing "Say no more!" in order to proceed with the process.

Yesterday, Grey and I learned the oil tank for our heating system is leaking. Our landlord, who inherited the property from her mother, has been completely beside herself with the knowledge that this not only has to be replaced but is going to be far more expensive than if she (or her mother) had done the preventative maintenance. Thankfully that replacement is scheduled to happen (otherwise this would be a very different post), but it's gotten me thinking more and more about maintenance and how Grey and I have been finally doing a lot of it after years of deferral.

The passports are one sign. This is something we should have done long ago, but were unable to (read finances and time). Household technology has been on that list and so has car maintenance (Lenny is long overdue for a full detailing job). But there are other things too. Purging has been happening as well as doctor's appointments. Dead last on the list that neither Grey or I have touched has been self-care. Both with pulling out his bike and me just getting time to take a long, hot bath.

One would argue that parenthood has been the issue, but the truth is a lot of this deferred maintenance stems from years before. With fertility treatments, where all extra time and resources were being sapped to dealing with the condo (and all the problems there) to even helping family. Time and again, we've put ourselves last, hoping for a period where we'll find some time in order to catch up.

But the truth has been, that time has come due to the need for it to happen. The oil tank is an excellent analogy for this as that sucker is extremely corroded. And yet, until yesterday, everyone involved with the property was telling us not to worry and that it would be taken care of at a later date. Even though planning out a replacement would have allowed for time to shop around and plan, allowing for a smoother transition instead of the situation that they are now facing (compounded by the fact that our lease is official broken and we are legally free to leave, leaving the landlord to lose tens of thousands of dollars if we do). Grey and I are in a similar boat with parts of our lives.

Because the reality is, we couldn't afford to tend to ourselves until now. We couldn't afford to think about anything beyond basic survival for years. And the sad thing is we are not abnormal. So many around us are forced to make similar choices that those in positions of privilege fail to see. So many of us are beyond burnout, craving time to heal just a little bit but cannot afford to.

So we slowly chip away at the things we can. Passports, updating legal information, careers, dreams and life.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Iron mom

I have vivid memories of the parents and caregivers of those with special needs. Starting from elementary school, with the teaching aids and parents of the children that were in class with me; later it would be as a young adult where I helped run programs that included special needs adults. There's always been two camps these people fall in: either clueless and not caring (these were few and far between) or some of the most incredible human beings I've had the pleasure of knowing. It's the latter camp that has made an impression: kindness and patience abound when working or caring for the special needs individual, combined with a firmness for advocating what is needed and a strong set of problem solving skills. These individuals have always left me in total awe, but also with a sense that there is no way I could do what they do daily as I lack so many of these qualities.

I'm not a patient person. I'm also not overly kind. I struggle with daily interactions with most people, failing to assert myself and my own boundaries in a constructive manner, which usually results in me either swallowing hurt or coming across as being an asshole. I lack grace in conflict and skill to navigate delicate matters.

The problem is, I need to somehow master all the above in order to move forward. She-Beat needs me to in order to make this transition and get her the help she needs. And hence a major reason I've been in a constant state of tears for the last 24 hours as I'm convinced I'm going to fail my daughter.

Yesterday I blew off work in order to hunt for new schools, fill out paperwork and to contact the Beats' current daycare to request a meeting. Like a chickenshit, I avoided talking with the director when she immediately demanded a meeting as I was convinced it would only result in a screaming match. I also began contacting family to let them know what was happening. My aunt and uncle were amazing (see above description for why), but my MIL wasn't happy about the news or the decision to pursue services, suggesting that maybe it would be much better if we waited to see. I spent most of this morning's commute hiding behind sunglasses and staring out the window as those silence tears fell, feeling utterly ashamed with myself.

This isn't the first time these feelings have surfaced. While in the thick of infertility and loss, I regularly had similar thoughts as my inadequacy as a human was the reason I wasn't able to conceive. I know what so many are going to say ("Why?" "It's not true!" etc, etc), but the truth is that having spent years where my self-identity has been so negative, it's hard not to come to these conclusions when faced with them. The problem is now I have to counter them and fit myself into a role that I had previously determined I could never do.

In a world of Dragon moms and Tiger moms, I have to figure out the path of a special needs caregiver. Somehow I have to figure out how to be patient in the face of frustration, to show kindness when feeling the exact opposite. I have to figure out how to assert unapologetically for what is needed while also doing so in a way that opens doors and builds bridges. I have to become skilled at finding the light, even when things seem so dark. And though I have some amazing role models, both in this community as well as in real life, the truth is I don't know where to begin to make this transition. I don't know how to recover when I make mistakes as it's not me that's on the line.

In short, I'm afraid I don't have what it takes to be an Iron mom. To protect my daughter and help her move beyond so that she can grow to her full potential. And that She-Beat will be further harmed because of it.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Assessment results

This is still fresh, so please forgive me for the fragments and typos. I'm still reeling, but writing helps me process.

This morning, I met with the team for Special Education at the local school district to talk about the results on the assessment on the Beats. With He-Beat, despite some concern about hyperactivity, it's been determined that he is developing normally and does not need services at this time. But She-Beat is another story. After an hour of walking through observations and results from each team, it was concluded that she does qualify for special education services and an IEP is currently being put together for her so that we can get moving on getting her the help she needs.

Somehow I managed not to cry in the meeting, focusing on what was being said and making plans for what needs to be done in order to expedite this process. But afterwards in the car, I weep like I haven't weep since infertility.

There are so many negative emotions at the moment. I'm angry at myself for missing this and not acting sooner, I'm so sad that my little girl has been suffering, I'm frightened about what lies ahead, especially as I'm now looking at terminating me working in order to make sure she gets the help she needs. But I'm also angry at their current teachers, as part of the evaluations reflected that they view the Beats in a hostile manner. I'm angry with the rollercoaster Grey and I have been on that has inhibited us from being able to see this. And I'm angry with those we have supported who have completely failed us. Any guilt that remained about cutting those people out of our lives is now completely gone as they truly do not matter.

I don't know what to do at the moment. Phone calls have been made this morning and I will be reaching out to others in order to get additional support and guidance. All I know is I can't afford to do nothing. Nothing is not even an option.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Ghosts

Two days ago, I found a letter addressed to my landlord from a company that specializes in foreclosure assistance. Immediately recognizing this type of letter, I put it to the back of the pile of mail and brought it inside. All the while my heart pounding. Later that evening, as Grey was inspecting the recently repaired furnace and leaking oil filter, I showed him the letter. And that's when the old ghosts were allowed to emerge for both of us.

It's hard to believe that a year ago, Grey and I were in a situation where we were unable to sell our condo and facing the prospect of foreclosure. Throughout the recession, we managed to hang on to the property, making sacrifices in order to make sure we never fell behind on a payment. But when we faced not being able to sell due to a toxic resale certificate created by our property management company, we found ourselves in a situation where we wondered if foreclosure would be our only way out.

Thankfully, that wasn't the case. Through some gymnastic-style negotiations and the help of our rental manager, we were able to convince the Board to fire the association's property management company, replacing them with a company that is much more ethical. In addition, through more guidance from our rental manager and due to an insanely hot real estate market, we formulated a plan to sell that involved absolute transparency (something that scares most realtors). In short, we were able to turn an insanely bad situation around, getting out ahead.

But the scars from that trauma are still very fresh and this trigger was a reminder of that.

There's this odd assumption most have that with time, the scars from a traumatic event will magically disappear. Very often, I'm told that "time heals all wounds," but what people fail to understand that healing does not equal erasing. Pain can become less acute and relief can come from the triggers, but the ghosts remain.

Part of that is a good thing as the learning that has happened has shaped how we live today. Part of knowing about the foreclosure process means that Grey and I are also aware of what our rights are as renters (which are fairly substantial). We cannot be evicted because of our landlord and any new owner will either have to take up our rental contract for buy us out of it. We also have basic rights to living conditions that have to be maintained and we know the channels to use if these aren't met.

But the other part is processing all that happened. Of allowing us to confront those ghosts once again and acknowledge they were extremely scary and awful. That what happened was beyond simple life decisions and/or choices, but an actual robbing of a simple desire that most didn't have to worry about.

In the meantime, we have an 8 month warning about a pending move, giving us time to hunt and hopefully a chance to find a better situation.
 
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