(AKA Le Freak, C'est Chic!)
The good news is that I've been taking decently good care of myself lately. I haven't had a cigarette in weeks. I'm eating again. I've been really good at setting boundaries with family and respecting the needs and boundaries of those I love. I've even been practicing extravagant benevolence! Or at the very least, acceptance. I've been making sure my kids stay active and forcing myself to run every chance I get. Even if I only have ten minutes, I'll put on my shoes and hit the road. I figure a mile is a mile. It's my way of putting my own oxygen mask on first. If I don't take care of myself, how the fuck can I take care of anyone else?
The bad news is how often it turns out I need that oxygen mask. Things have been STRESSFUL. In every imaginable way. I've got money stress, family stress, work stress, love stress, kid stress, and now, because I'm apparently a glutton for punishment, I've decided to add even more to that list by applying for graduate school.
Little Mommy pretty much HATES me right now.
Sweet Jesus, I haven't talked about Little Mommy yet, have I? If not it's only because the whole concept is very personal, even for me. But let's just say that from a very young age, I took care of the people around me. To excess. More than any child really should have. I changed diapers and fixed bottles at 3AM and made sure we didn't miss our planes. I was capital "R" Responsible from my very first memory.
Little Mommy is the source of my panic attacks. Every time she rears her ugly little I CAN HANDLE THIS head, suddenly REAL Mommy can't breathe. It's super fun!
So when I decided a week ago that I was fucking sick of being poor and that I needed to finally mow myself down a future and go back to school, Little Mommy wasn't so happy about it. I researched and researched and found out that the only place I can get my Master's in Marriage and Family Counseling within driving distance is at Portland State.
So NATURALLY their application deadline is February First. You know, one WHOLE week away.
As a way of coping with this Magic! New! Stress! on Friday I went for the most magnificent run I've had yet - along the Vancouver Waterfront.
It was frigid and sunny and after about a mile, I got a terrible stitch in my side (which is when I stopped to take this picture), but I walked it off and kept on going. I felt like a champ when I got to my car an hour later, but as soon as I started driving home, Little Mommy took over and decided my to do list was waaaaaay to long for her little 8-year old brain to handle. Not even runner's high could shut her up.
Eventually I texted said list to Joel in the hope that just getting it off my chest would help me breathe:
Go to Costco for Rx
Finish blog post
Order rush transcripts from:
San Jose State
Finish PSU application online (both)
Clean the kitchen
Take down the Christmas tree
Put away the rest of the Christmas crap
Mop the dog piss so my house doesn't smell like ass
(All this during a weekend with the kids!)
Telling Joel helped. It always does. But when he decided to stop what he was doing, drive to my house with Liza and clean my kitchen for me while I was at work? Well, duh! Even Little Mommy cried. Who wouldn't? Especially since he'd already bought me a book of Billy Collins poetry that day. (My favorite poet.) And that same night when we all met at the roller rink in Gresham, he bought me a plastic rose and had the DJ call my name to come get it, love note and all. (Winning much, Mr. Gunz?) (It's no wonder I've lost interest in all the other boys.)
On Tuesday my therapist told me she was proud of my recent progress, which meant a lot to me given I want to be her when I grow up. (I've been seeing her through the same Counselor Education Program at PSU to which I'm currently applying.) She told me a great story about the first time she took her own kid to therapy. When the counselor asked what she wanted for him, she said, like ALL parents do, "I just want him to be happy."
The therapist's reply will stick with both of us forever: "You have no control over your children's happiness. All you can do is teach them to cope."
Little Mommy is 36, but I'm beginning to think she might be learning to cope.