Wednesday, June 3, 2015

In Response to Mom: The Designated Worrier

The New York Times published an article entitled Mom: The Designated Worrier. I started to share it on Facebook and my response turned out to be way longer than a Facebook post. 

Yes. I am the designated worrier. But I'm pretty sure that's mostly on me.

I have said something to my husband, Chris, before about the sheer stress of being the one who keeps the tally of #ALLTHETHINGS in my head. Meanwhile, his response is that he never keeps things in his head. If he kept things in his head, he'd be too paralyzed to act. 

He follows the Getting Things Done method of time management and having stuff in your head is against all its precepts. Worrying is meant to be completely eliminated. There is only time taken for thinking and action. He is very deliberate in this way.

Meanwhile, I argue that that works fine for one person, but kids throw curveballs, like coming home in the midst of a crying hormonal meltdown after being the recipient of some good, old, girl-drama shunning. It only takes one sobbing child and one other child having a potty accident to derail an otherwise well-planned afternoon. I'm actually pretty good at micromanaging my time if there are no major emotional crises, but when the crises do hit, I'm the one with the household stuff in my head.

To be fair to my husband, Chris has the money in HIS head. He doesn't mean to. He tries to keep it within the system, but I promise you if I ask what day a certain bill gets paid, or how much the power bill was this month, he'll know. But, money is fairly easy to schedule (at this point in our lives. There was a time Chris keeping his eye on that ball took him two hours every day so we could stay on top of being broke and not be dead broke). Our bills don't usually have meltdowns. They don't contact us at the last minute to help with a class party because somebody got sick. They don't get ear infections on the one day you only have one driver and the other kid needs to be dropped off and picked up and and you need to run ear infection kid to the doctor but you don't really know enough people yet to call for help. On the other hand, if money is really tight, the bills need shuffling to deal with crises. I know there are lots of families where the moms handle the bills, too.

I'm lucky to be married to someone who appreciates just how much I have in my head. And the real truth is Chris functions beautifully when I go away, and I don't prep  for him. I used to get a lot of stuff ready for him. Now, I don't. I leave a list of what I do each day with the kids when he's not around so he doesn't get a ton of, "But MOMMY* does it this way." But he cooks, does laundry, plans lunches, and makes sure everybody is dressed and the house is picked up and the dog gets fed just fine.

I's not how I would do it, but it works. I don't worry about it when I'm gone. So, for my generation, I often think it's more about how much we take on and how much we hold tight to our power in the family, than it is about men's willingness or capability. I think the guys are willing to deal. But we women have to be willing to let things go, too.

The hardest thing for me to let go of is the fear of being judged by other women for my mothering, my decorating, my cooking, and my housekeeping. Apparently, I'm a child of the 70's and 80's with a 1950's Mrs. Cleaver living in my head. And that's not my husband's fault. It's my responsibility to kick Mrs. Cleaver out of our house. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go hot roll my hair and get out of this bathrobe before I pick up the kids from the bus.

* Mommy is always said in all caps. Always.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

What's New?

This website is a testament to something my mother is fond of saying.

"Life happens while you're making other plans."

Actually, until she spent time with my husband and I, I don't think that was a big phrase for her. But Chris and I are planners. We like lists and spreadsheets and calendars with automatic alerts. Eleven years ago, our plans went a wee bit astray. I became pregnant with our first child, and while we'd planned on her, she wasn't actually on the calendar for another year or so.

That's the first time mother told me about life and plans. She and my father weren't big on plans. Their plans tended to change in an instant. After almost fifteen years with my husband (and twelve and a half of them, married), we have finally started to accept that our plans are, well, nebulous. People ask us what we'll be doing in a few months.

"We don't know what we'll be doing next week."

I made a lot of plans for my writing career. I wrote two manuscripts. I did a small bit of querying. I joined RWA. I went to conferences. In 2013, I decided to go the self-publishing route. I made a business plan. I got excited. And then I got the agent call. So, I scrapped some of my plans.

2013 was a crazy year. We moved from Virginia to Texas. A year later, we moved from Texas back to Virginia, but to a different part. It was a hard, hard time for my family. My kids suffered, my marriage suffered. Hell, even my dogs suffered. Through it all, I wasn't just suffering emotionally, I was suffering physically. I wrote very little. I slept very little. I worked with a personal trainer. I changed medications. I found a fabulous therapist. And then I got a diagnosis.


It was both a massive relief and a terrible burden. This pain was never going away? Never?

I'm still working through that grief. But I'm trying things. I have a doctor who listens to me--for the first time in my entire life. The only other medical professional I ever trusted, because she listened, was one of the midwives at my old OB's office.

Now, I'm writing again. I'm trying something new. It's an adventure. I don't know how it will pan out. Maybe this is the thing I've been working towards for years.  Maybe it will be a disaster! I have a lot of varied interests. This book combines many of them, history, mystery, romance, perhaps a whiff of the paranormal. We'll see. I'm also hoping to try my hand at a different sort of blog, probably not on this page, but who knows? Maybe I'll find the courage to do it here.

The main point of this post is to answer the question, "So, Jenn? What have you been doing?"

The answer is both complicated and simple. Surviving. Taking each day as it comes. Living in the moment. Finding my way back through the thicketed woods. Making a new path.

Oh, and look, I wrote a blog post. So, I'm also writing.

It feels good.