Thursday, June 28, 2012

Soap Box

If you hear my 800 word soap box in favor of Barack Obama, I will hear yours.  Republicans are hung up on the national debt problem, and I agree that it is bad. However, economic recovery is not possible without a cost. (don't we go to college and buy a house and a car and have student
loans and car loans and home loans and business loans before we have a high enough earning potential to have a positive net worth by the time we retire in 40 years???)

This is how I see it:
Think of the relationships of businesses and consumers and employees.  A lively and profit-earning consumer-driven economy (yes, you are a consumer) produces revenue for the country, which needs taxes in order to function. In return, the country provides its citizens with protection (law enforcement, military), roads, libraries, schools, the freedom to work and play, access to fair medical care and fair credit and fair pay (Lilly Ledbetter--really? You want to repeal an act of law that allows women the opportunity to sue their employer if they are paid unfairly because of gender!?!?!) I need to go on?

The recession marks the loss of millions of working-class jobs (and subsequently those individuals' ability to continue as the same type of consumer they were beforehand) and then they lost their homes (because if you don't have a job, you can't pay your mortgage and your credit cards) and then the housing and financial market collapsed and those people lost their jobs, and it's a big domino effect... Okay, you get the picture.

President Obama is not responsible for the recession as some people think, since he took office AFTER we were already knee-deep. After President Obama took office, the downward-spiraling economy (think of a fast-moving train) had to be slowed in the direction it was going before it could stop and start going back in the other direction. Well, in this kind of recession that we are in, when the economy is crumbling exponentially, there would obviously be a increase in government spending in order to quickly implement programs that would help the working class get back on their feet, boost business small and large, support consumers, reboot the housing market, etc. This kind of recovery would cost the government dramatically more than during a Presidency where there isn't a national economic crisis to be corrected. The national debt is increasing exponentially yes, and this
fact by itself is disturbing, but in order to improve the economy, these programs cannot be overlooked. If opposing political parties argue that these programs are too costly and should be eliminated, they are saying that the people should be left to themselves to improve their economic circumstances without government intervention. How will existing companies keep their
workforce? How will small businesses get started? How will families be able to afford homes? And healthcare? How will they be able to catch up on the high-interest associated with credit card debt? (There are consumer behaviors that need to change here, too. How else do you explain how our economy got here in the first place?)

The Republican party is focused on simply saying "no" to Obama no matter what it is, with the intention of denying him a second Presidential term and repealing everything he has done. Why not look at the individual policies to determine their merit, instead of rejecting the whole package that is President Obama? Why turn a blind eye to the accomplishments and economic progress of the past few years simply because it has come with a cost? I do not agree with every single opinion and point of interest as this man, but I support him as the President of the United States because I see how much good he as accomplished in such a short amount of time; good that affects everyone!

This is positive progress for our nation, and electing someone who intends to undo everything that Obama has instituted will put this country farther behind on the road to recovery. We need to let these
programs pan out so that we fully benefit from the economic reconstruction they are designed to produce! Our nation is not united: we are divided in a blue- and red-sided tug of war. But I am willing to give a little on some of the smaller points of view in order to accept the improvement our nation can accomplish with the programs that President Obama has instituted. Put aside your political biases and see which compromises you are willing to accept for the betterment of our nation and its citizens (that would be you.)

This video is an understandable illustration of the ways that President Obama has made policies and programs that will help individuals, businesses, consumers, and the country. Please have an
open mind and consider that this is good progress that should not be discarded!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Mom for a day

So Friday was my day off!  Just kidding.  Friday, I worked twice as hard as usual to facilitate Leah being Mom for a day.  She got to serve breakfast, do laundry, dishes, sweeping, mopping, vacuuming, diapering, etc, all with my coaching and assistance.  I wanted her to get the feel of all the things that Mom does every day.  Well, the things that Mom is supposed to do every day.  She was excited and willing all day.  She kept forgetting that she was the Mom and I would remind her that we had more work to do before we could sit down and relax, and she would jump back up again to get back to work.
Her main motivations for being mom for a day were so that she could choose what we ate for our meals, allow movie and computer playing times whenever she wanted, and mostly so that she could stay up late.  We had chocolate milk with our breakfast and snacks at will, and she made what she would make every day if she could, Fruit Salad.  (She did a very good solo fruit salad!)

I interviewed Leah today to find out how she felt about the experience.

We ended up having free lunch at the school, and Leah was disappointed that she hadn't gotten to serve the meal herself.  On the other hand, earlier when she had asked Samuel if he wanted Macaroni and Cheese for lunch and he had replied with enthusiasm, she then replied dejectedly, "Oh, except I don't know how to make that."

She said that the experience was a lot of work.  However, she managed to go the entire time without complaining!  She commented that some parts were fun, but there was a lot to do at once and that she didn't want it to take so long.  All that work made her hungry.  She said it was especially tricky when the baby was awake and needed attention.   

I asked her what she learned.  I had high expectations that she would have a renewed sense of appreciation for me and a greater desire to make my work easier by being more helpful.  She halfheartedly agreed that she should probably be more willing to clean up after herself and complain less.  She was undecided on whether or not she would appreciate me more. I think she learned that I make decisions because I have reasons.  She did also ask me when she can be Mom again...

Well, I learned that Leah is a cheerful helper when she wants to be.  When the incentives are in place or when the suggestion of independence is appealing enough, she can be a great assistant.  When she's had enough, however, she checks out and returns to her own imaginative world. 

If we've learned nothing else from this experience, it is that in the hard moments when I'm overwhelmed and Leah is impatient or demanding, I can remind her of her day as Mom and ask her if she could have done it by herself.  With all we accomplished on Friday, I know for sure I could not have done it by myself.  I just need to put her (and myself) to work every day so that she knows she should always be my little assistant, and all that practice will help her be prepared for her next chance at being Mom!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Being Mom

Today I became totally exasperated over the insistent demands, manipulative pouty faces, and utter impatience of Leah.  I refused to be a short order cook for lunch, which was unacceptable.  I forced her to help me while I made dinner, with her options of setting the table or keeping the baby happy (aka playing with her).  When I told her I would cut up her orange after she changed out of her swimming suit, she complained that she was too hungry and couldn't wait that long.  Yes, this all happened after we had spent the entire morning at the water park.  So in a nut shell, I was totally fed up.

Behaviors such as this are not infrequent.  She's a good kid, she just doesn't get that the world doesn't revolve around her.  And that my sole purpose in life is not to cater to her every need at a moment's notice.  I think you could file this one under "attitude."

So I hatched a plan.  I told her that she can be the Mom for an entire day.  She can say no and yes as much as she wants, just like mom does.  She can stay up late just like mom.  She can pick whatever she wants for breakfast.  And lunch.  And dinner.  As long as she makes it and feeds everyone and cleans it up, just like mom does.  Because in Leah's world, Mom says yes and no arbitrarily, and does certain things just to be mean.  And stays up late watching TV just because she can.  Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

I need her to realize that I work hard all day to take care of everyone else.  I want Leah to understand that I sit back and put my feet up at the end of the day because, more often than not, it is the first time I've sat down all day.  I want her to understand that I say my yeses and nos because there are reasons.  I want her to understand that as a grown up I have knowledge and experience that counts for something.  "I know you don't like vegetables! Do you think I'm trying to torture you, or can you believe me when I tell you there is actually a purpose to this?"

I want Leah to be excited about her own future motherhood, and I hope that I will be the one to teach her many things about nurturing and taking care of a household (notwithstanding my frequent absences of sanity lately).  But I also hope that this exercise will help her understand what goes in to being a mom and make her want to stay a kid for awhile, only having to help out some of the time, instead of doing all the work always.

Most importantly I hope she learns that I am not a waitress or a genie or a superhero.  Her needs will be met, but not at her beck and call.  Her preferences and tastes and whims are not the order of my life.  She will eat what is served.  She will have clean clothes to wear because someone purchased them and washed them and put them away.  Rewards and outings will occur because the children have been helpful and cooperative, because I have planned my schedule and done my chores and spent my money on it, and it is important to me, not because my six-year old is the queen of the universe.  I just want her to appreciate me and all the work I do.  I don't want to doom her to failure, I want to help her succeed, but to also understand that it is a lot of work for parents, and that is why the children are expected to help and not complain.  So that when she goes back to being a kid again the next day, she has a better attitude and more gratitude.  Is that too much to ask? 

We decided that Friday would be the day that Leah is the Mom.  This gives her a day and a half to practice.  So tonight as we sat down to dinner (the children each shoveling down their second pancake while mom has yet to take her first bite), I decided that she could practice being the mom tonight.  I had her do the chair-bouncing thing back and forth to the fridge.  She decided that everyone could have chocolate milk with their dinner (yes, pancakes), including the baby.  She was the one to pour the syrup, spoon-feed the baby her applesauce, and then to mop up the resulting spills.  She did all the baby bathing, with the washcloth-ing and the shampoo-ing.  I helped her have everything she would need to dry, diaper, and dress the baby for bedtime, and I'm hoping my detailed diaper-changing demonstration will prepare her to do it by herself.  Then we spent an hour together doing dishes and cleaning up dinner.  (How long has it been since I played in the dish bubbles at the kitchen sink?)
It only took a few minutes of Leah being the Mom for the true nature of its poeticity to shine through.  All those things that moms say that make kids roll their eyes?  Well they must be true because Leah said it: "I'm already getting you something, I can only do one thing at a time!"  Ah, Samuel and I had a good laugh with that one and I saw Leah hide a sheepish smile.

So here's to Friday.  I have some important things I hope to teach her, and in the process I expect she will teach me a few things in return.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Smell the flower, blow out the candle

So I realize that I have ignored my blog for three months.  It has been so much easier to post one sentence updates to Facebook than actual blog posts, but this is not fair to my friends and family who actually want to know about our lives.  And its not really fair to myself, because blogging is a really good way of expression.  We are still here.  We are all alive and breathing.  We only had to call poison control once. 

I am just going to announce that I intend to come back to blogging.  Mostly because I like the sound of the keyboard clacking on my new computer.  It is very pretty and I named her Violet.  It is so fast and does not overheat, it has Windows 7 and the number three on the 10-key actually works.  These are good things.

I realized today that at 28 I have officially been dealing with depression for half of my life.  That darn puberty thing really screwed me up.  I am going to therapy and breathing deeply.  I am adopting the mantra that life is hard and that I can do hard things. This may or may not be working.

There is this thing about Survival Mode:  In order to survive, you must make sure your children are fed and wearing clothing (bonus points if the clothes are clean).  Breakfast for dinner is acceptable, however cinnamon toast can only be used as an entree once per week.  The house should not catch fire, and showering should be attempted at least every two days.  Makeup and hairspray are extra credit only.  If you have a job, you should go or they might fire you, but you don't really have to look nice unless you must interact with actual professionals at said job.  You should probably at least lay a towel over the spilled milk in the kitchen, and make sure the sheets are washed after a bout of vomiting.  Actually putting away laundry is more of a maintenance, cruising mode kind of thing, and doesn't really happen in Survival Mode. Survival Mode is marked daily by curses over missing keys and persistent alarm clocks.   Going visiting teaching is out of the question.

In addition to the necessity of keeping the children alive and safe, there is an Activity of Withdrawal from responsibility that usually lasts a couple weeks.  I played a lot of Solitaire for awhile.  Sometimes it is sleep, thanks to electronic devices that four year can operate by themselves.  Sometimes I do nothing but read murder mysteries.  Or design and construct skirts.  Sometimes it is Angry Birds.  Often it is Facebook, where I can stay abreast of important events in the lives of my former junior high acquaintances and receive validation from people without actually having to interact with them.  Sometimes I do nothing but watch Grey's Anatomy.  I really miss George.  There were two weeks where all I did was Rubik's cube.  You get the picture.

Every once in a while I emerge from a cocoon of bedsheets and drawn curtains and become myself again.  I actually take dinner to people I care about that are having a rough week.  I might make biscuits from scratch, paint with the kids, or genuinely laugh at a joke.  I might go to story time at the library and pack a picnic lunch at the park.  Sometimes I wear make up and once last month I actually blow-dried my hair

I miss being me.  I want to be me.  I hope to get to the point where I can look back on the Survival years and be grateful for a healthy, New me.  An involved and cheerful wife/mom/food buyer/individual whose socks are predictably matching, does not have a caffeine habit, is not running late or scrambling for a babysitter, and whose keys are not lost.  Her history of Depression is actually history, with wonderful lessons learned and an inspiring story to boost and encourage another who is still in the thick of it.  I will be someone who doesn't get her feathers ruffled because life isn't fair.  I don't want to continue on a path that makes my years of depression outnumber my years of wellness.

That's it.  That is where I am and where I want to go. In a recent epiphany, I realized that feeling hopeless is not actually because there is no hope, but because some evil spirit is sneaking into my qi and trying to make life seem hopeless so that I will just Give Up. 

So now that I know that all is not hopeless, I know to pray away the adversary and try again to be Me tomorrow.