Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Out of sorts

I'm feeling a bit out of sorts today.  I need to finish my paper, which I'm presenting at a conference this weekend.  I also need to finish the reading list for the literature class I'm teaching next year so that I can get my book order in.  I need to do about a million other things as well.  What have I done this morning?  I've booked my shuttle to the airport and made an appointment with a flooring store.  Oh, and I've had some coffee.  To tell the truth, I'd really just like to go back to bed.  I have lots of other things to do before I leave--like writing a note to Wild Man's teacher, checking in with Wild Man's soccer coach, prepping a few meals so life is a bit easier on Archer while I'm away, etc.  I think the inertia is do to the plain and simple fact that I really don't want to go away.  Do I need the time away?  Yes.  Do I like the place I'm traveling to?  Yes, in fact, it is one of my favorite cities.  Will I get to see old friends and colleagues?  Will I get to hear smart people talk about smart things?  Yes on both counts.  In fact, I'm rooming with one of my closest friends from Southwest College Town.  But I still don't want to go.  I don't like leaving my family, plain and simple.  It always makes me a bit sad.  I also don't really like being gone on a weekend.  I know I'll have fun, but right now, I just don't want to go.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Are you my mother?

My mom called today for our weekly chat (yes, that's right.  My mom and I only talk once a week.  If I call her any other day, she immediately thinks something is wrong.  Seriously.  She seems my number on the Caller ID and answers the phone saying, "Are you ok?  Are the boys ok?  What's wrong, M?").  As we were getting off the phone, she said, "Oh, by the way, I booked a ticket to come visit for Bear's birthday."  I said, "Um, what?"   She said, "I booked a ticket.  I'll be in CU Land for Bear's birthday.  If you sell the house by then, I can stay longer and help you pack."  I wanted to say, "Are you my mother?"  Instead, I said, "That's great!  I can't wait to see you."

Now, why did I want to say, "Are you my mother?"  In the almost 13 years since I've lived in my Home State, my mom has come to see me many times.  Almost every time she flies, so in 13 years, we're talking about 12 visits or so (there was a 2-year period when we lived in the Northeast that she didn't visit for various reasons).  Every single time I've gone on-line and booked her ticket for her, using her credit card number.  I even booked her ticket in February when she flew to the Midwest to stay with my sister, who had a depressive episode due to bipolar.  Yes, I live in Canada, my mother lives in the South, and my sister lives in the Midwest.  And I booked my mother's plane ticket to fly to my sister's.  So when my mom told me she booked her ticket to come see us all by herself, I was more than a little surprised.  I was downright shocked.  When I told Archer, he said, "Say what?"  I can't express how proud I am of my mom, and I said as much to her.  I'm thrilled that she did this for herself, and I'm even more thrilled that we'll have some family here to celebrate Bear's birthday.

Saturday, May 21, 2011


So house hunting in CU Land is super frustrating.  Archer and I are still about a week away from getting our place on the market--maybe a bit longer, depending on how long it takes to get carpet installed.  We haven't looked at any places, but I have been checking the MLS website every day.  In the last week 5 houses in the neighborhood that is walking distance to CU and in the FI district we really like have been listed.  Each of them have been in our price range, which tells us they likely need a bit of work, but based on the pictures on the website, they are in good condition.  Because of their price range and their location, we decided to try to see them.  I contacted our agent yesterday, and we've been emailing back and forth since then.  It turns out three of the houses have contracts on them, one is a rental, and the agent for the last one won't return calls.  The three that have contracts on them were listed this week.  So it seems if we really want to be in the neighborhood (and it is one of three we'd like to be in) we'll have to move fast if we see a house in our price range.  This means putting in a contingency offer, which I'm not comfortable with.  So I've just emailed our agent with the list of houses we've compiled over the last 10 days or so.  I've asked her to figure out which ones are still available, and we'll go from there.  Have I mentioned I'm not a fan of hunting for anything?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Paper Update

I have written 3 1/2 pages and have a clear outline for the rest of the paper.  I have to write about 7 pages between now and Wednesday, the day before I leave.  It is completely manageable, so I'm not worried about that.  As an added bonus, I'd forgotten how good it feels to write something and to get the ideas churning again. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Um, seriously?

So a suburb of Atlanta has made it illegal to breastfeed a child older than 2, in an attempt to curb public nudity throughout the city.  I have lots of things to say about this.  First, doesn't the city council have more important things to deal with?  Second, how is breastfeeding a child equated with being nude in public?  I mean seriously.  Why are Americans so flipping prudish?  Why is a breast such a horrific thing to see, especially when it is being used to feed a child?  I so prefer Canada and Europe when it comes to things like this.  Bear was 18 months when we traveled in Italy at Christmas, and he was still nursing.  In fact, I let him nurse whenever and wherever he wanted while we were traveling because we were often off-schedule.  I nursed him at the Colloseum, I nursed him outside the Duomo of the Florence Cathedral, I nursed him sitting behind Michelangelo's David, and I even nursed him in the Vatican Museum twice, not to mention on the train, in the airport, in the lobby of every hotel we stayed at, and almost every restaurant we were in.  I did my best to be discreet because I'm not comfortable having strangers see my breast.  But Bear was interested in looking at things, so he often lifted the cover so he could look around.  On several occasions, as I struggled to keep us the cover over us, people came over to us and pulled the cover away, so they could get a good look at Bear.  I was told over and over again how beautiful he was, and no one said anything about me nursing in public.  Why can't more Americans treat breastfeeding like this--as a beautiful thing between a mother and child?

Because that's how I roll

So I'm going to a major conference in my field one week from today, and I still haven't written the paper. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's not about me. . .

is my new mantra when it comes to dealing with Pita.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Yetta's Visit and the Aftermath

As I wrote on Saturday, this visit with Yetta has been good. Archer and I talked a lot about it before hand, and we did quite a few things differently. All of that, as well as the simple facts that Yetta seems to be happy now and that she came without Pita, have made for a fairly relaxed and enjoyable visit. That isn't to say, however, that the visit hasn't been without its moments. Yetta has, as is expected, shared her opinion on several things, and she has also vented quite a lot about Pita. In an attempt to process it all in preparation for our visit to Homestate in July, here is a smattering of what has been shared.
  • Canada is a country without religion as no one ever talks about church. As Yetta hasn't really spoken to anyone but us during her visit, this statement translates to: I want my grandchildren to go to church, and you need to do something about that. This is something that is fairly easy to ignore. She isn't here on a daily basis, and she doesn't really know what we teach our boys about religion. Nor is that really any of her business. 
  • Pita knows I've deleted her off of FB, which must mean that I hate her, that I think she's stupid, that I think she's unworthy of being my children's aunt, that I won't allow her to spend anytime with the boys when we're in Homestate, that I think she's untrustworthy, and any other number of things. I told Yetta that if Pita wants to discuss this with me, she knows how to get in touch with me. Yetta asked point blank why I deleted her. I said that I use FB as a way to keep in touch with people I don't see regularly. I don't want to log on to see pictures of my friends' children and find a message from Pita telling me that I'm a hateful, horrible, ungrateful person who doesn't understand what it is like to be as single woman and that as a proclaimed feminist I should understand what a single woman like Pita has to go through (yes, friends, that is essentially what her last FB message to me said, and that is why I deleted her). I said if Pita wants to communicate with me she has my email address and phone number. I also said that I don't hate her; I do not, however, feel called upon to deal with such messages from anyone. If my own sister sent me messages like that I'd delete her too. As I tried to explain to Yetta, it was a means of protecting myself. I left the conversation at that, but I know she brought the issue up again with Archer. 
  • Pita is also convinced we've spent the entire visit talking about her. Has Yetta vented? Sure, and we've let her vent while keeping our comments to a minimum. Here's the thing. Two adult women live together in what can only be described as a co-dependent relationship. Pita is not the easiest person to get along with (and neither is Yetta, but to her credit, she admits this), so Yetta needs to vent. Yetta knows we won't turn around and tell Pita everything she's said, so she vents. And on some level, I think Yetta actually thinks she can "fix" the problems in the relationship by meddling. 
  • Pita apparently thinks I'm dismissive and short with her on the phone. This came about when she called at 8:40 on Friday night. We'd let Wild Man stay up past his 8:00 bedtime to watch a movie with Yetta, and as he was getting ready for bed, he complained that his finger hurt. I looked at it and saw he had a splinter. Archer and I were in the middle of trying to keep Wild Man calm while we tried to get the splinter out of his finger when Pita called. I answered the phone and said, "Hi, how are you? I can't really talk now. I'm trying to get a splinter out of Wild Man's finger. Here's your mom." Apparently I was rude and hurt Pita's feelings. I apparently do this on a regular basis. When Yetta told me this, I said, "Well, maybe I do, but Pita routinely calls at dinner time or bed time and wants to talk to Wild Man and Bear. She then gets upset when Archer or I tell her that it isn't a good time to talk. She knows our routine. We've told her that the best time to call is Sunday morning." 
  • From this exchange, Archer learned that it is my responsibility to make sure Pita has a good relationship with Wild Man and Bear. I am the one who is supposed to call her when it is convenient and when the boys want to talk on the phone. Yes, that's right, it is my job to ensure Wild Man and Bear have a close relationship with their father's sister. After all, Pita talks to J, her's and Archer's brother's wife almost every single day. J makes sure that her children talk to Pita several times a week. I need to take a lesson from J and be a better sister-in-law. 
  • I could go on and on, but rather than helping me process all of this, I'm just getting more irritated. 
  • What I've learned in the last week is that Pita is angry at me--or she is directing her anger at me. She is convinced I hate her and that I will not allow her to spend anytime with Wild Man and Bear. She thinks I don't trust her and that I will sabotage her relationship with the boys. I haven't, nor will I, respond to these statements from Pita via Yetta. Really, I think it all a bit absurd. Actually that isn't true. I think it is hateful, antagonistic, and mean-spirited. I think all of this is a precursor to the inevitable fight that will occur during our visit. I think Pita will be nasty and mean, and I think she will start the fight in front of my children. Archer said as much to Yetta, and Yetta said, "Oh, I think it will be okay." I then said, "I need you to know that I will do my absolute best not to engage her and that I will try my hardest to keep my temper. But if Pita starts something in front of my children, I will put them in our car and go to my parents' house for the duration of the visit. I fully realize that isn't fair to you at all, but I will not tolerate my children being exposed to the kinds of outbursts I have had to endure." Archer then added, "Wild Man will not forget such an outburst. If Pita yells at me or M in front of him, he will be very, very upset, and he won't forget it. It will change his perception of Pita, whom he loves dearly." Yetta said, "I hope she won't start anything in front of the boys." I wanted to say, "Having the boys in the room didn't keep you from calling me a horrible, selfish daughter-in-law the last time we visited," but I didn't. 
  • So there will be some sort of altercation during our visit. I will be the object of said altercation. After the said altercation, I will be expected to forgive and forget. I will be expected to act like it never happened. I will be repeatedly told, "That is just Pita. She isn't going to change, so you should just forget about everything she said." The visit will be ruined because any outburst she has will be the only topic of conversation with Archer's family for the rest of the visit. Any support Yetta has promised in the past week will not appear because Pita is her daughter and they live together. I will cry. I will get sick to my stomach from the stress. I will want to leave and go home early. I will be expected to put on a happy face and get through it. I will be expected to make up or else I will be called a bitch (or much, much worse) behind my back. Archer will be forced to hear Pita say all sorts of awful things about me as a way to bait him into a fight. He will be told that I'm selfish, that I don't value family, that I privilege my family (i.e., my siblings and parents) over their family, that I'm an overprotective mother (okay, so that one is true), that I don't like to have other people take care of my kids (and that is also true), that I don't think anyone can do it as well as I can (well, no one other than Archer), that I think I'm better than her and everyone in their hometown.  Archer will be so stressed out that he will inadvertently snap at me, and I'll burst into tears because I'll be stressed out from being on edge waiting for Pita to attack. Then we'll have a stupid, pointless fight even though we're not mad at one another at all.
  • And they wonder why I don't want to visit more.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

A good visit

We are midway through Yetta's visit, and I am so pleased to write that it is going well.  She seemed really pleased with the plans we'd made and how we'd arranged things.  Yesterday we kept Bear and Wild Man home from daycare, although we did send Wild Man to kindergarten in the afternoon.  We're planning to do the same for Monday.  She's gotten outside with both boys a lot, even pushing Bear on his ride-on truck.  She and Wild Man have done several craft projects, and she has read to both boys a lot.  In fact, I think this is the most involved she's been during a visit since we left Southwest College Town.  It certainly helps that Pita isn't here (Pita is like an adult-sized 8 year old, and frankly, it's hard to compete with her for the boys' attention).  It also helps that Bear has come out of his shell.  He no longer clings exclusively to me or Archer.  He is much more comfortable with new people, and he has spent the last two afternoons bringing Yetta various toys and telling her all about them.  Yesterday was her birthday, so Wild Man and I made her baked french toast for breakfast.  I took her shopping at one of her favorite stores and bought her a scarf that she picked out.  For dinner we took her to our favorite pizza place.  She told us repeatedly that she was having a wonderful birthday, and I think she meant it.  She has been very relaxed about food, staying out of the kitchen almost completely.  I have to say it has been a lovely, relaxed visit. 

Pita has, however, been making some drama long distance, but you know, I'm having such a nice time with Yetta that I'm going to focus on that.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Being Judged

I'd never heard of the blog "Too Big for Strollers" until I read this article.  But I complete agree with the author about being judged as a parent.  I have lots more to say about this (including recognizing that I'm guilty of judging other parents), but for now, I will just say that it seems like parental judging has become so pervasive that it is almost impossible to have a conversation with anyone about my children without feeling like I'm being judged.  And that isn't a nice feeling.

Monday, May 09, 2011

Rethinking things

Yetta arrives on Wednesday for a week long visit.  In preparation I'm consciously rethinking things.  I want her to have a good time, and I want her to feel welcome.  To that end, I've done some things I don't normally do. 

First, I've borrowed a queen-size air mattress (you know, the kind that is like an actual bed) from a friend, which I've set up in my office (which is almost entirely packed up in preparation for showing our house).  Thus she can have her own space.  This means she won't take over my living room and that I won't have to continuously tell Bear, "Don't touch that!"  If she feels that the air mattress is uncomfortable or too hard for her to get off of, she will sleep in our bed.  This is a minor inconvenience to me and Archer, but I really think this will stress me out less than having her things all over the living room.  Plus, it means she'll be more comfortable as she won't be on our couch.  As an added bonus, it means that Archer and I will still have the couch to retreat to on the odd night that Bear is really restless (on these nights, one of us inevitably ends up on the couch with Bear).  So everyone will get a normal amount of sleep, and if Bear has a bad night, we won't have to worry about waking her up.

Second, I made Archer call her yesterday and get her to give a list of things she wants from the grocery store.  We have never done this because she is incredibly particular about food.  Typically Archer takes her to the grocery store on the first day of her visit, and she buys what she wants.  This stresses me out immensely because she brings all kinds of junk food into my house, which means I'm constantly explaining to Wild Man why Yetta eats X type of food that he isn't allowed to eat.  Although she protested, she told Archer what she needed, and he bought it.  I'm hoping this will allow me to maintain some control over what she brings into the house while also making her feel welcome, like we've actually prepared for her visit.

Third, Archer and I have already decided which days the boys will be out of daycare.  I think this is important because, again, it shows we've prepared for her visit.  I am hopeful that telling her "We've planned these activities for these days" will show her that we're looking forward to her visit.  The only caveat is that Wild Man will not be missing kindergarten at all.  That means that we have to stop what we're doing and have him at school every day by 1, which will certainly limit what we can do.  This is, however, non-negotiable.

Fourth, I have reminded myself that I have no control over her reaction to anything.  I can prepare myself, and I can hope for the best.  That said, I am going to do my best not to get upset if she is unhappy with anything we've planned.  I am going to ignore passive-aggressive comments.  I will be accommodating and welcoming, but I will not be a doormat.  I will also not be aggressive.  If an argument begins I will simply remove myself and my children from the room.  I will not be disappointed. 

Keep your fingers crossed for me that all of this works.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Random Thoughts

Life is more than a bit hectic right now, and here are some random thoughts rolling around in my head.
  • Two of my best friends are in Korea right now adopting their son.  I've been thinking about my friends and their family a lot this week.  
  • Archer and I have decided to stop looking at houses until our house is ready to put on the market.  Despite seeing (we still haven't been able to get an appointment to see the inside) what I think maybe the "perfect" house, we know there is not point in looking.  At best, we'd only be able to put in a conditional offer, so we're pulling back until our house is on the market.  We won't feel comfortable putting a bid in on a place until ours is sold.  If we don't move this year, we don't move this year.
  • Archer and I have started the necessary improvements to our house.  I organized our office this weekend, and it looks really good.  We've scrubbed the walls in Bear's room, and Archer has taken down all the pictures and patched the holes.  We were both pleased to discover that Bear's room only needs to be touched up.  
  • This weekend I'm going to go through all the boys' old clothes to figure out what we can keep for Bear and what we can get rid of.  This will be incredibly hard for me, as it reaffirms our decision not to have a third child.  Getting rid of Bear's and Wild Man's baby clothes definitely signals the end of babies in our life.
  • As for Wild Man and school, if we don't move, we've decided to keep him in kindergarten at the school affiliated with his daycare.  Honestly, this is primarily for convenience (and yes, I feel like a horrible parent for admitting that).  But it is also to prevent him from going through two major school transitions in as many years.  To prepare him for French Immersion, we are planning to hire a tutor to work with him 2 days a week.  I've already emailed some people in the French department to get recommendations for tutors.  We're hoping to find a grad student who is looking for extra money.  
  • Bear has settled into his new room at daycare very well.  He is now in a toddler room, and he will be there until he is two and a half.  Since leaving the infant room (b/c our province offers a year of paid maternity leave most babies don't go into daycare until they are 10 months or older, so they stay in an infant room until about 18 months old), his vocabulary has exploded.  He is already talking in short sentences, and he repeats everything.
  • Yetta arrives next week for a week long visit.  She has called Archer every day for the last four days asking about what sort of "special" things she can do with Wild Man.  She's upset that he isn't in swimming lessons right now, not to mention the fact that she's annoyed that Canada's growing season means she won't get to take Wild Man to pick strawberries or to pick anything else, something she always does with our nephews who live in Home State.  Does anyone else notice that she seems to have forgotten that she has two grandchildren living in Canada?
  • I have a meeting with Dr. English next week to ask all sorts of questions about research.  I've been looking at the faculty profiles online, and let's just say that I'm a bit intimidated.  I've asked myself more than once why he thinks I am a good fit for this school.  Archer keeps telling me to stop questioning myself.  His logic is Dr. English thinks I can do it, so just do it.  It is good advice, and I'm working on silencing the voice of self-doubt.  I have some ideas, and I want some feedback as to whether or not Dr. English thinks they are worth pursuing.
  • I have to finish inputting my grades for my Women's Studies class--the last class I will be teaching for that department for the foreseeable future.  I'm equally happy and sad about that.  I'm happy not to have to be a part of a department that I never felt like I was a part of, but I will miss the students.
  • That's it for now.  I could write a lot more, but I need to get to work.

Monday, May 02, 2011


The news this morning is disturbing to me, for lots of reasons.  First, I want to say that Archer and I lived in upstate New York on 9/11.  I was working for a non-profit, and Archer was a Ph.D. student.  I knew several people (primarily through the board of directors) who were killed, and Archer had 5 students who lost parents.  Add to that the fact that my father was a fire fighter, and 9/11 hit close to home for us.  In fact, I had panic attacks for months after 9/11. 

Today's news is disturbing because I find it hard to swallow people's reactions.  My aunt, who is a devout born again Christian, thanked God on her Facebook page for yesterday's events.  It seems very odd to me to thank God for the killing of another human being.  Was the killing justified? I find it hard to say no, but I also find it hard to say yes.  Did it accomplish anything?  I can't see that it did.  The 3,000 plus individuals who died in the States on 9/11 are still dead.  There are still wars going on in Iraq and Afghanistan, both of which we can connect directly to the events of 9/11.  The Middle East is still in turmoil, and this man's death* will not end the terrorism that he started.  Someone will simply take his place.  So while justice may have been done in some small way, I'm don't like the fact that a man's death has been made into an international celebration.  It all seems oddly political to me. 

*I'm purposely not using his name as I don't want traffic from this post.