Men Who Cry

My sister got married the weekend before last and, while reading his vows, her husband began sobbing. I, along with the majority of the crowd, found this incredibly endearing. It reminded me that, several years ago, at my friend Amanda's wedding, her husband, Wayne, also got very choked up during the ceremony. At my wedding, nine years ago, there were no tears. My husband exhibited very little emotion, positive or negative. This may have been because he had stayed up all night the evening before playing video games and was so tired he could hardly function, but I thought it was worth it to bring it up.
"Did you see Nick crying at the wedding?" I asked.
"Wayne cried at his wedding. Remember?"
"You didn't cry at our wedding."
"Why didn't you cry?"
Jason gave me a withering look. "Rachel . . . I'm a MAN."

He has a point. I may sometimes like to think that it would be nice to have a husband who bought me dozens of roses, wrote me love poetry, and sang me romantic songs. But the truth is? I kind of think all of that stuff is ridiculous. When I am flipping through channels and come across The Bachelorette, and I see some bare-chested guy sitting on the ground, surrounding by rose petals, singing an original love song and strumming his guitar, I don't swoon ... I guffaw. The truth is: I'm not very attracted to sensitivity in others, especially not in men. What DO I find sexy?

1. Someone who knows the difference between the words "less" and "fewer" and always chooses appropriately
2. Someone who talks about characters in literature as if they were real people
3. Someone who does not let himself get stepped on by others
4. Someone who is not afraid to interrupt a speaker and say, "You are totally WRONG about that," and then proceed to rationally explain why

So, men who cry? Sweet for others. Not for me.

How to Think Like A Republican about Sex and Reproduction

1. Try to control sex education at the state level. Insist on abstinence-only curricula. Ban any discussion of birth control pills or condoms. Stress to children that ANY marriage sexual activity outside of heterosexual marriage is an abomination before God. End up with a population of teenagers too ashamed and afraid to go to the adults in their lives with questions about STDs, pregnancy, or prevention.

2. Make birth control as difficult to obtain as possible (after all, only whores need it!). Insist that the morning after pill is too dangerous to be sold over the counter. Press for religious exemptions so employer-provided health care plans can opt out of covering the pill. Foil the efforts of college campuses to distribute condoms.

3. Work stringently to tear down abortion rights. Roe v. Wade may not allow states to outlaw abortion outright, but it can be so tightly restricted that it becomes virtually impossible for a woman in your state to find a provider.

4. Once the woman is pregnant and you have ensured that she cannot have an abortion, STOP CARING. Do not make sure the mother has access to prenatal care. Do not pass laws to make sure she keeps her job while on maternity leave. Do nothing to address her lack of access to affordable child care and quality preschool. Do not make sure she has a social safety net so she can care for her child in the event that she loses her job. After all, if her circumstances are less than ideal, that's HER FAULT. Right!?!?

Sam's sleep

I was just re-reading my journal entries from the last year, and I think I should note that Samantha is finally hitting her bedtime groove. She is old enough to communicate her desires now. I can hold out my arms and say: "Ready to take your bath and go night-night?" and she will either respond, "Yeah," and run to me or completely ignore me and continue playing. It is not unusual for her to decide she is ready for a nap and to come lay her head on my lap. She is still waking up at night, but usually it is short-lived. Typically I can lay her down, say: "It's still night-night time, Sam," and pat her back and she will go right back to sleep. She is in her crib 100% of the time for bedtime and for naps. It is SO much better than it was even a few months ago.

She is nursing frequently, which is a surprise. Three weeks ago, I would have told you we were basically done with breastfeeding. Then, suddenly, within the last week and a half or so, she decided she wanted to nurses before bed. Now, she is also nursing before the majority of her naps. I do not mind nursing her, but I am surprised that she has decided to pick it up again.

Back to school tomorrow... =(

Cancer . . . again

It is a bad idea to compare tragedies; I know this. What is a catastrophe for one person may have no resonance at all for someone else. There is nothing to be gained from an attempt to grade and measure our sorrows in this manner. But when the veterinarian sighed and said: "It's a mast cell tumor," I started weighing woes. My best friend Jenn's mother has been going through cancer treatments. Surely having a mother with cancer outweighs having a pet with cancer by such an immense margin that it is hardly worth mentioning the two in the same conversation. Having a parent with cancer, I imagine, is a heavier emotional burden than having a grandparent with cancer (which I went through a few years ago). I can also clearly conjure worse scenarios. A mother with cancer is devastating but, perhaps, predictable given that we are adults and our parents are growing older. A spouse with cancer might be a harder blow. A child with cancer? Unimaginable.
So while I am trying to come to terms with Winnie's diagnosis, I am also battling with myself over how to classify this particular event. Part of me says: "This is WINNIE. This was your first baby. She has CANCER. This is f---ing devastating!" But another part of me says: "She's a dog. A relatively old dog. She's had a good life. Something like this was inevitable." I keep telling myself that I have been through this before. K.D., our rabbit, developed a strange neurological condition overnight (the vet eventually decided he'd had a stroke) and, after a week or two, I made the decision to euthanize him. I didn't know that was suffering, but I didn't know that he WASN'T suffering, either. Frodo, our ferret, spent several days at U of I before we decided putting him through any more treatments would be cruel. I have walked this road. I have made the decisions. I have been there at the final moments. This is not new territory for me.
I am sad -- but I am also okay. I know I will make the best decisions I can with the information I am given. I know that, no matter what happens in the next few weeks or months, the good in Winnie's life will have outweighed the bad. I have always known that we would eventually be a one-dog household again. I just hope we have a little time left before we get there.

Smiles & Frowns

Samantha will be one year old in less than a week. Her party is this Sunday, and I can hardly believe we have come this far. As I contemplate what an amazing year it has been, I'll throw out some highs and lows for the day.

1. Hanging out with Jason after work today ... we seldom get any time off together
2. Wearing an outfit to work that actually fit and did not make me feel like a stuffed sausage all day long
3. A relatively peaceful bedtime with my daughter (minimal crying and fussing before settling down to sleep)
4. Planning GOOD lessons for next week (I feel like I hit this mark about every other week)
5. Two caramel macchiatos today

1. Not enough sleep
2. Taking home way too many hours of schoolwork
3. Realizing there is no food in the house AGAIN. I SWEAR I live at the grocery store, and there is still nothing to eat!!!

Smiles & Frowns (Thursday edition)

1. Carpooling to school with Amanda
2. Salted caramel mocha and spinach/egg white wrap for breakfast -- yum!
3. Simile poems at school today
4. Good evaluations for all my proteges (my lack of attention has not completely damaged them)
5. Hanging out at my parents' house after school

1. Poor dogs hardly saw the light of day today. Sam went to sleep at 6:30, so they went in the bedroom.
2. Rowdy boys at school = stressed teacher
3. Mandatory GCN training. Much more palatable when done with the volume turned off, but JESUS CHRIST! WHY must I sit through four hours of computer training on blood born pathogens and diabetes every year?

Samantha has been sleeping IN HER CRIB -- ALONE. It seems like a miracle. She is still waking a few times during the night, but I know how to accept a gift. She can wake up at 1:00 and 3:30 every night so long as I am not nursing eight solid hours while lying on the couch.


A flurry of text messages were scurrying back and forth yesterday surrounding the questions of whether or not today was a casual day at work. While those involved debated whether our casual days were the 14th and the 21st or whether those were NEXT month's casual days, I was wondering: "When the hell were we even TOLD about casual days?" My guess is it came in yet another E-mail that I half-heartedly skimmed to make sure no one was immediately dying and then deleted. LOTS of things are falling off my radar because I don't have time for them. Teachers all over our building were walking around yesterday wearing stickers that said: ASK ME HOW I HELPED A KID TODAY. (I didn't ask for fear that I was supposed to have helped a kid, too, and failed.) When students ask me why the gym is decorated, I shrug my shoulders. I do not know what days the fruit cart is coming for snacks, and I figure the kids don't really need to know the deadline for their reading goal until it gets closer (and I have time to find the E-mail where it was mentioned).

My priority at work right now? The kids. My priority at home? MY kid. Everything else? Blah.

A List of Things I Suck At (Minus the obvious ... grammar)

10. Laundry - I notice the basket is overflowing when I run out of nursing bras. Many of our clothes have mildew spots because they sit in the washer for days before I realize I never threw them in the dryer.

9. Pet ownership - My dog Bishop bit me today. Seriously. I don't blame him. I would bite me, too.

8. Mentoring - My poor proteges are most unfortunate to have been assigned to me. I am so stressed out these days that when they peek in my room, I am just as likely to bark: "What's wrong NOW?" as to smile and offer them a seat.

7. Union duties - The completed membership list is due Friday. I JUST started asking people to collect the data on Monday. Ooops! There was a mandatory meeting after school today for all treasurers in this district. Not only did I not go, I didn't even bother to tell anyone I wasn't going. Suck it!

6. Being a wife - When I talk to my husband, it is mostly to complain that he has not completed a household chore I assigned to him. My second most common topic of conversation? Whining about my day.

5. Cooking - The only thing I ever want to eat these days is spaghetti, so that is all I make!

4. Returning phone calls - When I am feeling depressed/paranoid, telephone skills are the first to go.

3. Sex - When you have to use your Lamaze breathing to get through it, it distracts from the process.

2. Teaching - Maybe it's because I was thrown a class full of kids who are just learning English along with a smattering of autistic and BD children in one classroom with no aide . . . but I feel like I am losing my mind. I was MEAN to a child today (this is very unusual for me). He asked me to write down the definition of CHARACTERS on the board and I snapped: "You don't NEED it written down! It's CHARACTERS! USE YOUR BRAIN AND REMEMBER WHAT I TOLD YOU!"

1. Getting my daughter to sleep! If I weren't so gosh danged dilly exhausted, maybe I would be able to do SOMETHING competently!!!!

On a sidenote, Go Picnic boxes are the best invention of all time. I take one for lunch every day. Sunflower butter, yummy whole grain crackers, applesauce, dark chocolate squares, black bean dip. YUM! (I do NOT suck at choosing delicious lunch items from the grocery store.)

In search of peace!

I think I may be suffering from post-partum depression. A little late in the game, maybe, but breastfeeding is protective. Now that I am back to work and Sam is nursing less, I am starting to feel slightly crazy. Yesterday while cleaning the house I began to think: "I could just burn the house down. Then, people would feel really sorry for me. I'd get at least a few days off work. We'd have to buy a new house . . . maybe it would have a playroom for Sam. And I WOULDN'T have to clean today!" I instantly realized that my thought process had taken a turn toward Wackadoodle World, which is good, but I think it's a bad sign that it went there at all.

Working and mothering is heinous. I don't feel like I have the time and energy to either be a good teacher or a good parent -- or a good ANYTHING for that matter. Right now, I suck at every aspect of my life. I'm a solid C- in everything from job responsibilities to cooking to being a wife. It occurs to me that maybe this is what people talk about when they reference "balance." We all know getting ready good at anything from playing Chopin to running marathons to designing clothing is a tremendous time commitment. Perhaps balance means sacrificing achievement. Maybe lots of people feel like peanut butter spread way too thin on wheat toast.

My kids are in the computer lab taking their beginning of the year tests today. If the lab computers are running correctly, it should be an easy, peaceful day. (Keep your fingers crossed.) I am not sure how many times I was up with Sam last night, but I do know we woke up at 2:30, worked on getting back to bed until 3:45, and were then rudely awoken at 5:15 by my alarm clock. I need a peaceful day (or at least a peaceful nap!)


Jason and I have been talking for weeks about who we want to have custody of Samantha in the unlikely event that neither of us is around to take care of her. The deliberation is agonizing. While some people can be easily eliminated, there is a small pool of contenders that is extremely difficult to wade through. You realize very quickly that NO ONE is going to care for your child like you do. So what, then, is most important? Someone your child is already very familiar with? Someone who is financially secure? Someone who shares your core values? Someone who is responsible? And you realize that the things that matter now are not necessarily the things that will be most important five or ten years down the road. Right now, Samantha needs someone who will sing to her, rock her to sleep, and give her lots of hugs and kisses. Later, she will need someone to read to her and help with her homework. Further down the road, she'll need someone to guide her as she navigates through high school and finds the right fit with college or a career.

I am trying NOT to use my head to make this decision. I know that sounds bizarre, but it's true. This is not a time for pro/con lists. This has to be a "heart" decision. I hope the people closest to me realize it's not a competition. The person who is ultimately named as Sam's guardian will not be the person I like BEST. It won't be the person who had the highest score on a checklist I put together. It won't necessarily be the kindest person or the wealthiest person or the most likely person. It will be the person who feels most "right" -- even if no one else understands why.