Tag Archives: aging

peace or something akin to it

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it settles,
a quiet, heavy curve
in me,
like a dune where i hide
and hear ocean noise as a child.
it settles in a place where i feel
all the old aches of everything.

someone once told me
scars are beautiful,
as they traced mine in the dark.
someone once urged me to believe
but I don’t remember who,
or if they could be trusted,
so my mind flops now,
a breathless fish on land.

if you allow your fingers
to move, to hold the space
around me,
maybe things would quiet,
maybe the moon would not tug
so mercilessly at my eyes
and i would know peace
or something akin to it,
as the tide goes out for good.

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Haunt

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Driving through the lot
I realize how it feels
to be a ghost,
haunting old haunts,
incapable of reaching you.

Time passes,
people age,
weight is gained and lost
around bones that creak.
Situations change, and yet,
there is this part of me
tender and raw, hard and fast
all at once,
which stays
the same.

Like a rabbit I catch your scent
on the crest of a wave
as it whispers into
the crescent of shore.
I realize perhaps,
you are a ghost as well,
like me.

But then, we always were
precisely the same.

My skin twitches,
wondering if you hear me think
I’m here, I’m here, find me!
wondering if for a moment
it would be tempting
to open yourself,
allow me to pass through you
with all the memories of all
the little deaths we died,
only to rise
and fall again.

Because, reunion always was
so sweet and savage.

We are lost,
and so I realize
what it means
to be a ghost,
with no beginning or end
that feels quite right,
slipping through night after night,
trying to bury bones
only to exhume them,
and turn them over and over
in my hands,
without a moment’s rest.

James Spader Stole My Orgasm (and Other Mid-Life Crap I’d Like to Blame on Him)

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Trigger warning for way TM of the I and lots of nerdy sci-fi and fangirl crap.  

  

I feel fairly confident James Spader stole my orgasm.

Let me back up.

I’ve always had a health sex drive and have been able to enjoy sex.  These days, as exhausted working parents, my hubs and I focus on quality over quantity.  Our sex drives have slowed to a cruising speed that match each other and we are satisfied with having sex three or four times a month.  I jokingly call this “our quota”.

We have a pedestrian, no-nonsense style that works for us.

A friend of mine was talking about trying to jazz up her love life and she asked me for some ideas.  I shrugged and said that I usually just flash an asscheek at him from across the living room and ask, “wanna’ bang?”

Or I remind him we have a quota to meet and he almost always eagerly obliges.

Like I said, no-nonsense works for us.

Of course it is nice to be intimate and feel close with one another after days of working and child rearing and basically forgetting about one another’s existence.  It is nice to connect.

It is also nice just to get off while The Walking Dead records on the DVR.  Then we can fast forward through all the commercials as we bask in a post-coital glow and watch zombies bite it.

But lately, there has been something missing for me.  Namely, my orgasm.  Not every time.  But more frequently than ever before, which was never.

I don’t know if it is just being really tired, or lazy.  Or maybe it is the darker days and the chill of winter in the air.  Maybe it is that my lower back is sore or that my hormones are shifting with the finality of weaning Em.

I’m not exactly sure how or why the thought that James Spader stole my orgasm came to me with such rampant certainty.  Maybe it is just an easier and more adorable explanation than the complexities of mid-age.

Pregnancy.  Birth.  Aging.  It all changes shit up.

When I had my miscarriage, in between Jack and Emily, I felt truly betrayed by my body.  It was like what I had come to expect from the vessel in which I lived for so long was suddenly not guaranteed.  I had trusted my body to gestate that fertilized egg, and it didn’t.  No.  Instead, it expelled it in a crimson torrent that lasted for over a month, sent me to the hospital ER on more than one occasion, and culminated in a pricey emergency surgery.

I was so angry with myself.  I felt like a failure, which is more or less the Siren Song of my entire life, but the fact that my very own body let me down so deeply. . .

This morning I felt a shadow of that betrayal as something coated my legs in a sticky trickle as I poured my coffee.  This cannot really be happening, I thought, still half asleep.  But as I peered into my pink, terry robe, I saw it really was happening.  My menses was adorning my kitchen floor.

WTF?  I thought as I raced into the bathroom.  I calculate my cycle down to the moment, and there is usually a gradual build up to the, uh, heavy days.

Again, let me state, this is something that has never happened to me.  Ever.  Never.

It sort of wasn’t that big a deal.  I kicked my hubs out of the bathroom and hopped into the shower.

But on the other hand, it just felt crazy that I was getting this gushing period out of the blue, completely unprepared.

My cycle has been like clockwork, even if it is every 23 days now.  So, it is yet another stupid change in the laundry list of my body getting freaky because I’m in my forties.

WTF, Body?  What?  The?  Fuck?

Of course my anxious mind takes this minute change of getting a surprise period and turns it into the realization that this is life.  At any moment, anything can happen.  We can trip and break a hip.  We can burst an appendix.  We can pop a hernia (which I am pretty sure I frequently do, and ouch!).

We can get cancer.

And god I love James Spader with all my heart (I mean not quite as much as I love the hubs, but. . .) but if I fucking get cancer, I will probably blame it on him too.  And the hernia while I’m at it.  Let’s just blame that fucker on Spader.

Don’t ask me why.  I don’t really know.  I think it is probably just as good a rationale as any, that a movie star on whom I’ve crushed since the 1980s (OMG, Steph in Pretty in Pink–  SWOON!  Yes, I had a “thing” for “bad boys.”) could be remotely causing my ailments.

  
Maybe it is a phenomenon Mulder and Scully can investigate in a special, new episode of the X-Files Revival. (Pssst!  Call me Chris Carter!) Or, more likely, maybe I have just been watching too many old X-Files in preparation for said X-Files Revival.  (Cue X-Files theme music, in three, two. . .)

At any rate, it feels a little less scary to blame Jimbo than to admit I’m aging and crippled with stress and debt and maybe I made some half-baked career choices.

I know.  I know.  It is really not very mindful of me to be shaming and blaming a celebrity as opposed to taking responsibility and being in the moment, softening and accepting my pain and fears.  I actually AM mindful of that one detail.

Sometimes being mindful is hard, and I just don’t wanna’.

Eventually I’ll get around to that breathing, allowing, and acceptance stuff.  Eventually I’ll chat with my husband a bit more about these changes and see if bedroom accommodations can be made.  Eventually I’ll have my doctor check out the painful thing that intermittently protrudes from my side.

But for now, I’m just going to blame the Spades.

Anyway, all he will have to do is bat those golden lashes and maybe do that thing with his tongue, or bite the inside of his cheek and I will forgive him.  Which is way easier than I ever actually forgive myself.

See how that works?

Your Daughter Thinks You’re Beautiful

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In the summer I am way too hot and frazzled to do much with my hair.  Up it goes into a lazy ponytail or sloppy bun.  We don’t have central air conditioning so, I do not usually have a lovely blow-dried coif from about May to October because it just makes me too darn sweaty.  And frizzy.

But on this one morning, I was wearing a lovely dress.  I’d washed my long, blonde tresses and it was cool enough that I gave it a good, round-brushed, blow-out.

IMG_8842Emily approached the bathroom door as I was about to scoop all my hair off my neck and into an elastic.

“Oooohhh, Mama,” she gasped.  “Just yeave your hair yong.  You yook just yike my Baahbee doll.”

Yes.  My daughter has Barbie dolls.  And she adores them.  And she thinks they are all kinds of beautiful.

“Baahbee even has bwuue eyes yike you, Mama.”

It was her way of telling me she thought I looked beautiful.

And to her, I am beautiful.

She doesn’t know I am 35 pounds overweight.

She doesn’t notice the bags under my eyes.  Eyes that are also starting to sag and wrinkle.

She doesn’t realize or care that my face is riddled with adult acne.

She doesn’t mind that my boobs hang down to my arm pits, or that sometimes I forget to shave.

To her, I am silky and creamy, safe and warm, soft and inviting.

To her, “beauty” is a place that is squishy but strong, fun but predictable.

We can sit here and debate about why it is “wrong” for little girls to think Barbie is pretty.  We can talk about standards for “beauty” and how Barbie gives women a bad rap.  I feel you.  I do.  If you know me at all, and if you have read any of my posts about self acceptance, you know I do not subscribe to “traditional” ideals of cosmetic loveliness, and how much I despise the diet industry and how it preys on vulnerable women.

I’m not going to lie.  I’ve been compared to Barbie before, and I get a little lift from it.  One time someone even told me that if I were a food, I would be a Barbie cake.  Whatever that means.

Maybe that is wrong and embarrassing and bad.  I don’t know.  But I’m almost six feet tall, have blond hair and blue eyes, and up until the last decade was skinny with big boobs.

I also struggled with huge issues around my body image and self esteem.  But that was not because of Barbie.  That was some inner struggle that had way more facets than a simple doll could craft.  There are, I am aware, many who would like to blame the ills of society on Barbie, but I think that oversimplifies things.

Barbie was one of my favorite toys.  I spent hours dressing and primping her for fancy dinner dates or for a casual walk with her doggie.  This didn’t make me a bad person, nor did it force me to believe that anyone who did not look like Barbie was not worthwhile.

But here’s the thing:  I was also raised to consider the beauty of classical music, nature, and theater.  I was taken to art museums and exposed to all manner of human form and figure.  I plan on raising my children in the same way, and showing them that beauty comes in many more shapes and sizes than 36-24-26.  Or whatever that formula is.  I don’t do numbers.

We have the power to teach our daughters and sons what beauty is.

To raise them with a healthy sense of self, a strong will, and an appreciation for all the things their bodies can do.

To teach them that beauty has to do with acceptance of self and others, openness, and kindness.

So on that day, I left my hair “yong” per Emily’s wishes.  I kept it down all day and flew high on the compliment my little girl had bestowed upon me.

It feels good to know my daughter thinks I’m beautiful, despite my many, many flaws inside and out.

That’s love.

And I bet your daughter, or son, thinks you are beautiful too.

Don’t Sneeze

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It was the first time in my life that I was going to my grandfather’s village, and Grandpa wasn’t there.

He had transitioned over to the realm of pure love and light over a week ago, but it only struck me as we were driving up there that I was not going there to visit Grandpa.

At least not in the way we did before.

If you are lucky, no one loves you like a grandparent.

A grandparent’s love is uncomplicated, unconditional, fun.

I can’t tell you about my grandfather the man. I can’t tell you when or where he served in the military, or how he met my grandmother, rest and bless her soul. I don’t even know what his favorite song or color was. Those would be nice things to know, but I do not know those details.

I can only tell you about my grandfather as just that– a grandpa.

It surprised how many memories bubbled to the surface, in light of his death. For my whole life, I’ve lived several states and hours away from Grandpa, so I didn’t get to see him as often as some of my other family members. Especially over the past decade of marriage and young children who do not do particularly well on long car rides, I did not get to visit with Grandpa as much as I would have enjoyed.

One of my favorite memories of Grandpa is of going with him, when I was a very young child, with my brother and sometimes a cousin or two over to the barns. He would take us to see the sheep and cows. It was particularly exciting if there were babies to pet and love on in the clean straw.

His tour eventually lead us to the milking parlor and then he would take us to the place where the milk was stored, in a huge, stainless steel tank. He would allow us to climb up a narrow, always taking care that we did not slip and fall, and as we would peer in to the gallons and gallons of milk below, he would say, “Don’t sneeze!” Least we contaminate the milk with our germs.

I remembered him at the head of the table for many special meals. I remember sitting on a piano bench beside hm at the crowded and festive table, and if we kids acted up, Grandpa would threaten “I’m gonna take a hold of you!” But I never felt particularly scared or threatened in the least by that statement. It always seemed like it was meant in good humor, but somehow did the trick to get us back on track.

Speaking of humor it always seemed like he had a good one, at least with us grandkids.

I remembered waking up the day after Thanksgiving before dawn to find a few inches of snow had fallen. My brother and I ran exuberantly down the hall to wake the house. Grandpa told us to go back to bed but he wasn’t mad.

I remembered so many visits, they blend into one memory. The horses and cows and rides.

I remembered him swirling a glass of eggnog as he played trivia pursuit with the whole family, Christmas songs playing on the old record player and an air of contentment all around, the savory scents of turkey mingling with the sweetness of warm pies.

I remembered him taking me aside as a newly graduated high school kid, the summer before I went into college and tellng me how important education is, and his generous offer to help support my college education.

I remembered him trying to get us all to try this fruit cake, promising is that it wasn’t like any old fruit cake and it would be delicious if only we ate it with some cheddar cheese. We never took him up on that offer but I so respect his perseverance.

I remembered his special love of animals, how I grew to be a dog person while visiting the many special dogs at his and nanas house.  In fact, I think I can attribute my love, respect, and admiration of animals great and small to Grandpa. Although I’m afraid horses will always terrify me.

I remembered Grandpa’s handwriting in the many letters and cards he sent over the years. He wrote to me about the fair when I couldn’t go, and about his favorite barbecue chicken and corn on the cob.

I remembered watching slideshows of Grandpa and Nana’s travels, projected onto the old living room wall. He loved history and respected other cultures and explored the world. On my desk at home I still have an authentic Matrioshka doll that he and nana brought me back from Russia. Sometimes I allow my little daughter to play with it, and the squeak with which it comes apart always reminds me of Nana and Grandpa.

I remembered how excited Grandpa was when I told him I was honeymooning in Hawaii, which he said had been one of his favorite places he’d been. I also found Hawaii to be life-altering, and I really like to think that was a special bond we shared. That amazing spirit of Aloha.

I remembered the joy and gentleness with which Grandpa met my children– his great grand kids, well two of them anyway. It always seemed so special to him. I’d think that after all the grandkids and great grands that it would lose its luster. But it never did. He got to meet my son, Jack, twice and he got to meet my daughter Emily once.

I have a really special memory of my son approaching Grandpa. Jack just cozied up next to him, posed for some pictures and chatted with him a bit. Jack was barely five at the time, so I don’t even know if he remembers. I was struck by how natural and comfortable it seemed. It warmed my heart.

It touched me because it seemed like Jack just instinctively knew this old dude was cool. Like he knew there was love there.

Because, if you are lucky, no one loves you like your Grandpa.

I feel sad about not seeing Grandpa again. But I know his pain is nowhere.

And his love is everywhere.

And love never dies.

Musing on Aching Ovaries, Weaning, and the End of the School Year

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It helped more than you can imagine that you took the time to read my incredibly neurotic last post about wacky mid-life hormones.  And to those of you who commented to let me know you are in a similar boat–  well, you just rock.  Sometimes I guess bemoaning my aching ovaries has its place.

So thanks for that love and support.

I had another thought that made me wonder. . .

. . .  as my journey towards weaning continues with Emily, how is that affecting my hormones, and how is that affect on my hormones affecting my emotional/physical state?  My three and a half year old daughter continues to nurse one or two times per day, usually.  Sometimes she goes a couple days without nursing, and I’ve been practicing the whole “don’t ask, don’t refuse” thing.

Breastfeeding is all about hormones.  I’ve noticed that there are times when the oxytocin rush from breastfeeding is more effective than a dose of Zoloft.  But then there are other times when it makes me want to claw off my skin.  So, I wonder if my hormones could be additionally out of whack, not so much because I am going into perimenopause (which I don’t really think I am yet), but because my body is just confused from this whole march towards weaning?

Do any of you know anything about that?

Today was also Jack’s last day of second grade.  He’s had a great year, mainly because he had a phenomenal teacher who really supported and inspired him.  We have had no tantrums about school or homework, and more importantly none of the somatic complaints that he was voicing last year.  I’ve felt so blessed that he’s had this safe space to be in during the day, and I really think it has allowed him to grow and learn emotionally, intellectually, and behaviorally.

That said, I sort of dread the summer.

Jack and I both have a hard time with change.  It really rocks our boat in a big way and can lead to anxiety and anger.  I totally understand where he is coming from in this regard because I am really right there with him.  This year, he is doing some summer day camp about which none of us are particularly thrilled.  I’m praying there will be nice kids there, attentive staff, and that Jack will not be miserable all summer because of it.

This morning I sort of broke down and cried.  I was just so overwhelmed and sad about not being there for my kids as much as I want to be, as much as they NEED me to be.  It is really, really hard.

My husband took this job in February with the expectation I would be able to cut my hours at work.  This has not come to pass as I cannot leave my program in the lurch with no staff, and financially we are still digging out of a pretty deep hole.  So, we are both at our limits and have not really been available to each other.

So, this morning when my daughter wanted to look at books instead of put on her shoes, everything just crashed around me and out came the tears.  I pulled it together pretty quickly, and Emily’s hug was like magic.  I got the kids out the door and felt a surge of pride watching my little-big-boy march into the playground for his last day of school.

So, it’s not all bad.

And you all are still here.

So, it’s not all bad.

One random final thought:

When Jack was a newborn and I was struggling with postpartum depression and anxiety, my husband would take our colicky little son and walk him around the house.  The Spouse would sing this chant that I believe is from Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.

It went, “I have arrived, I am home, in the here and in the now.  I am solid, I am free.  In the infinite I dwell.”

This little chant came to me today and gave me comfort.

So, yeah, I am home with my achey, breaky ovaries, my mommy guilt, and my anticipatory anxiety about the summer.

In the infinite we dwell.

Momaste.  xoxoxo.

I’m a 40 Year Old Having Trouble With Hormones and I. Can’t. Even.

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After the parade, we were suppose to come back home, rest a bit, then go to the family cookout.  

But the parade left me feeling like my punching fist was going to come out if anyone even looked at me sideways, so I stayed back and let Spousal Unit take the kids to the cookout.

I felt sad watching them drive off, as I put the wooden pieces of a Melissa and Doug puzzle back together.  My sadness quickly turned to frustration with the puzzle.  Have you ever done one of those stupid puzzles?  They are no joke, and certainly not something to mess with during the roller coaster of PMS.

Well, it’s not just PMS.

It’s a rabid combo of stuff.

Work has been stressful and exhausting.  My program is understaffed and I feel like I am doing shitty work because I can’t see my clients frequently or consistently enough to really help them progress with their treatment.  The mantra, “Your work sucks balls,” is definitely not uplifting my spirits on a daily basis.

Next, there is the stress my husband’s new job is putting on the family.  In some ways his job is heaven sent–  I mean, it is nice being able to pay our mortgage, you know?  

But it also means he doesn’t have the same flexibility to be with the children and they are in extra daycare, being shuffled around from one thing to the next by family members, because my job has zero flexibility either.  This situation pushes every button on my mommy-guilt-sensor panel.  And guilt is draining.  And frustrating.  And futile.

It also seems that now he works full time (and often much more when he stays up doing additional freelance projects at night), I am picking up more slack at home with the chores, grocery shopping, and cooking.  Don’t get me wrong, he is still super helpful.  The other night I went to bed and he stayed up to fold a basket of the children’s clothing, so part of this might just be my own perception.  Or full blown psychosis. Who knows?

The increased stress plays on my nerves as an introvert.  

Extroverting myself takes more effort than usual and is more uncomfortable.  I need more down time to recover and recharge, which I usually do not get.  

Being a social worker takes a shit-ton of extroversion.  Being a mom takes a shit-ton of extroversion.  Being a human on the planet, interacting with other humans on the planet takes–  well, you get the picture.  

Age and exhaustion have made me even more on an introvert than I ever was.  It’s almost like I don’t enjoy the world anymore.

Situations like going out in a huge, noisy, inconsiderate crowd to a parade reeks havoc with my sense of safety.  It is like my skin gets peeled off and everything is just stroking on raw nerve.  Ouch.  It’s physically painful.

And it’s hot.  It is no less than 90 degrees in my huge, loft-like bedroom.  Oh my, do I love my bedroom.  But I hate the heat and haven’t slept, and we haven’t figured out the air conditioner situation yet.

Add to this mix the fluctuating hormones of a 40 year old woman, and it’s not pretty.

There are moments I am actually frightened I will completely lose my shit and scream at someone.  Like the woman on the cell phone who wouldn’t get the fuck out of my way.  Or the dude smoking a smelly cigar over my children.  Or the cashier at CVS who can’t figure out how to access my extra bucks and find the price on a greeting card.  Don’t even get me started on the municipal worker who needed to get into my basement for 20 minutes right as I was walking out the door to drop the kids off and go to work.

It seems like every month since I turned 40, my PMS gets longer and harsher.  It’s at the point now where I have it about three weeks out of the month.  Yeah.  No fun.  The slightest thing sets my blood boiling and I feel I am careening out of control on the world’s scariest roller coaster.

It sucks when this gets projected onto my kids.  I try with all my might to be happy and calm with them, but I’ve noticed that lately I am raising my voice more often.  It doesn’t help anything, since it really just pisses my kids off and they don’t respond to it.  Plus it makes me feel shitty.  But it happens more than I would like to admit.

In addition to all the emotional crap, there is a physical side.  I feel constantly bloated and sausagy (efff you autocorrect, sausagy is a word, dammit).

At times my energy drops to non existent and I feel sluggish.  My stomach swirls with a nauseous blend of anxiety and anger that has nothing to do with what I ate, or didn’t eat.  Doing even the simplest thing feels excruciating.  My back hurts no matter how much I stretch.  There is an ever-present kink in my neck.

So, of course, in light of all these symptoms, the logical thing was turning to Dr. Google and pecking in, “Having trouble with hormones at 40.”  Web MD took me to a list of signs and symptoms of perimenopause.

OMG, people.  I.  Can’t.  Even.

“Perimenopause,” for those of you lucky ducks who’ve never heard of it, is apparently the pre-game show to menopause.  This is the bad news.

But the good news is that the cure is oh so simple.  Apparently if I give up salt, sugar, flour, fat, carbs, caffeine, wine, and basically everything else in the world that I like, I will feel a drastic reduction in my symptoms.

OH, and I also should not be too overweight or too underweight.

Awesomesauce.

This information literally made me want to cry. Or scream.  Or throw stuff.  Or eat a pint of ice cream.  Because apparently it is like I am 13 and going through puberty all over again in terms of wild mood swings and irrationality.

It feels like there is a storm brewing in my body.  Thick, puffy, slate grey clouds swirl around in 97% humidity in my chest cavity.  At any minute lightening could lash out, or a tornado could form.

If you are a woman of a certain age, you might understand where I’m coming from.  If that’s you, then give it up top, Lady-Friend!

If you are a perfectly balanced woman, or my husband, you are more likely to think I am being histrionic.  That I need to stop being so selfish and cook some dinner for the kids.  That I need to have better manners and not sigh heavily at the person who is in my way at Target.  That I should not become so easily angered with Emily when she is being obstreperous about taking a bath, or with Jack after the 40th time I’ve asked him to turn off the TV and put on his shoes.  That I should shut up and quit whining. 

I ended up lying down for a while after Spouse left with the kids for the cookout.  Beached like the world’s plumpest whale on an isle of tempurpedic, I took some deep breaths and tried to accept my age and station in life.  With every breath I was able to stitch back on a few inches of skin, and the world stopped hurting quite so much.

I’d like to enjoy the world again. . .  but in the mean time, there is a pint of gelato, a bowl of pasta, a bag of pretzels, and a bottle of wine with my name on them.  I joke!  I joke!  

If you have been through any of this and can resonate at all with me, please leave a few words in the comments. . .  and if you have any tips, feel free to leave them too!  xoxo, Momaste!