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Welcoming Unwelcome Feelings

Sometimes I wake up in this awful shame cycle and think, “I’d be better off if I just locked myself in a basement.” Does that happen to you? Like, you do something or say something and realize you are really not fit for society? Initially, I woke up today feeling that angst and did everything I could to recalibrate and combat that feeling, like go on my new elliptical machine for 45 minutes while watching reality TV, walking my dogs, and now writing. But, I think, as the poet Rumi suggested, maybe I should just welcome this feeling and sit with it, because it may bring me guidance.

Do you ever feel like this?

In his poem The Guest House, Rumi uses uses the image of a guest house as a metaphor that each day is an opportunity to experience something new in our lives, even if it’s unexpected, and each feeling should be welcomed, no matter how unpleasant. We must welcome these “guests,” or feelings of happiness and joy as well as shame and depression. In treating these visitors with equal respect and courage, no matter how unwelcome the feelings are, we can learn from them, and perhaps use them to navigate moving forward.

Okay, so I am sitting here now, welcoming these feelings…and eating pretzels #truth. That is one thing I feel gross about: I ate like 9,000 carbs yesterday, including hot pretzel nuggets with cheese and, that’s not all, it was followed by a bowl of pasta. That’s so not on the diet. However, I did run 7 miles, so maybe that’s allowed! Don’t runners maul pasta before a race? Okay, so I did it afterwards, with a glass of wine…maybe not a tip in Women’s Fitness magazine.

I also can over-share. I do this like every day. I mean, I guess being a blogger, you need to share yourself. If I didn’t write anything personal, it would not resonate with readers. I so envy those who wear their cards close to the vest: the keen listeners and observers who probably never leave a party and think, “Wait, WHY did I say that?!”

So, on the flip side, here I am criticizing myself AGAIN, adding to the shame cycle, which I should in fact be instead welcoming. What can I learn from that? I guess to shut my yapper? Become a different person? I like myself though! I just wish I could be myself, but alone in the basement. I care too much about what others think.

Who are your “house guests” today? Please leave a comment. Oh, and if you don’t know the poem, here it is:

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

— Jellaludin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

Revisiting Being a Stay-at-Home Parent

I am revisiting being a stay-at-home mom since the pandemic and brazenly quitting my job. I haven’t done this since 2007, and I have to say it’s interesting? Well, first off, looking for a job, particularly now, is fairly rotten. I hit up all the job sites, like Indeed and Glassdoor, in addition to going to actual websites of places I might like to work, and I have not had much success. It takes forever, and you have to enter a lot of search filters, leaving you eventually tired, exasperated and cross-eyed. Plus, I don’t even know what I want to do. I clicked on a wide array of positions, including being a Door Dash delivery person, an online social media designer, a development director, and a reporter. I freaked out that I’d get murdered with being a delivery person, so I opted out of that search.

But, then, I stumbled upon what may be my real talent and niche: Camp Counselor Philanthropist! Since school has yet to begin here in our town (first full day is October 13 #brutal), I started Camp Alex: Endless Summer. It’s essentially impossible for working parents now when kids are home all day, so I am helping them out while simultaneously entertaining my own children by having them over for camp. Win-win!

Here’s a look at Camp Alex. First, we have Puppy School, in which the dogs do math and get grades. The kids do “drop-off,” bringing the dogs upstairs with treats, and I do “pick-up.” At this time, I am versed on how well they behaved. For example, today, Poppy got an A+ and Winnie struggled with some addition and got a B+

Didn’t make Honor Roll

Around noon, we have lunchtime, which consists of whatever I can find in my fridge that they might like: edamame, french fries, grilled cheese and gummies.

Healthy!
Questionable

Next, we have play time on the trampoline and on the slide. One of their favorite games, which I created a long time ago as a disciplinary method, is “The Crab.” It’s really quite simple: find some tongs, and chase them around with the tongs biting at their ankles (gently, of course) and their knees. This is the crab! They absolutely love it, and it only costs a pair of tongs! Cheap, officious and fun. Next, we have pool time, in the baby pool, and finally quiet time with puzzles and crafts.

It’s interesting how we fall into things and unknown talents, like me being a camp counselor, during difficult times. I’m making the most of my staying at home during COVID, because I know it could be short lived. I don’t miss being in the office cubicle even one bit. The paycheck? Er, well, that’s another thing. For now, though, these kids laughing is a pretty good payoff.

My kindness rock garden

A Happy Family, or Just Make Believe?

What defines a “Happy Family?” I ask this after buying a Barbie set that was called “Happy Family,” and it was comprised of a pregnant mom, a dad and one little girl.

I have never seen a pregnant Barbie before, and I was excited to play with it. To my ultimate shock and surprise, her belly actually comes off, and a tiny baby is in it! Like, a full-grown, breach baby (head up). And, you can even turn her stomach inside out, and it’s flat again. Like, the “Happy Family” Mom loses the baby weight immediately! She is as good as new!

The Happy Family did come with some accessories, including a brush (for post-birth glamour shots on Facebook?), a pre-digital camera (imagine waiting to see the photos of the birth after developing the actual film?), and two cell phones. There was no laptop, so I don’t know how the toddler was going to go to school on Zoom, or how the Dad would surf the internet while mom was in labor.

And why are they happy this way? I’m thinking this mom’s not so happy. I mean, she can’t be! First off, she had to give birth in her underwear (see photo). Second, in the accessories, there should have been a bottle of wine and some Chinese food for post-delivery. Third, they could have added in a nanny or a wet nurse? I mean, just to take the pressure off when they get home…

The real question is: what would the “Unhappy Family” look like?

I, too, used to think that a Happy Family looked very similar to what was in this toy box: a mom, dad, and two kids. Well, now, I have the two kids, but I am divorced and their dad lives fifteen minutes away. I would say we get along well, so we can also be called a happy family. And, if you add in new spouses or children, that can be an even bigger, happy family? I don’t know! I wonder if Matel would be open to creating a new “Happy Family” comprised of two sets of parents and stepchildren? Or maybe a single mom and a sperm donor? Or a single dad, or two dads, or two moms and three kids? I know several happy “families” likes that! The list could go on, which leads me to the next point.

I am pretty sure this barbie was recalled, and we found like the last one, an aberration, in Marshall’s yesterday. I bet others took issue with the idea of a Happy Family being depicted as such.

What do you think? Please leave a comment!

BEWARE! Of my Life… (Scary Image Included)

Last night, the kids were terrorized! They went on the swing set in the backyard in the pitch-black. They had flashlights and wanted to do a “scary night walk.” Well, they got their wish and then some when they were, in fact, scared to death and screaming after spotting this horrible looking carcass stuck in our outdoor shower! Does anyone know what this is?? Squirrel? Rabbit? Oh, and when I went to photograph it this morning, I was so nervous that I dropped my phone, and I think it touched the skeleton head. ICK.

What even is this???
Can you see the little flashlights in center? I took this of them on the swings last night.

In other news, my daughter caught her first False Albacore! She went fishing with her dad, and I was so happy he included her this time. She recited the names of all the fish she knows during a game of Barbies with me last night: “Okay, mommy, there are False Albacore, Tuna, Striped Bass, Bluefish, Fluke, Flounder…” She’s a regular salty dog! She held the fish for a photo, like all those men do on Facebook, so she, too, could have her day in the fisherman sun, if there is such a thing… Oh, and I guess she’s a fisherwoman? Or fisher-girl? She’s not the Fisher King. Remember that movie with Robin Williams? Aw, I loved him. Good flick, too!

It is officially Labor Day weekend here on Cape Cod, a time when the year-rounders often rejoice to reclaim the beaches and avoid traffic. However, those are days of yore, because people are staying now that they can work remotely and go to school online. I guess my wish to have a “Forever Summer” has finally been granted! Oh, and we got an email last night from the superintendent, and it turns out that the first actual full day of school for the kids here is October 13! I mean, the CHRISTMAS DECOR is out at Target and CVS by then. So much for back-to-school shopping. I might buy some pencils AND a new ornament and tree skirt!

Here is this year’s tree. Maybe it’s time to get rid of it? I used the branches to make fires in my fire pit.

Oh, and this happened…my son asked me to get the plunger….This is never a good thing. So, I asked why, and he told me the toilet was clogged, because–get this: he threw a NECTARINE CORE in it. I mean, really??? Like, who thinks that is a good idea? Here is what it looked like before I had to manhandle it and get it out.

SERIOUSLY??

Last, but not least, I am 35 today! (er…) I am so excited, because my son told me I actually look ten years younger since I lightened my hair and cut it! Now that I have no job, I actually have time to go to the hair salon, since it honestly takes three hours (I timed it both times). #silverliningofpenury

(My) School is in Session! And, Home Ec Returns!

I have officially taken matters into my own hands, and I began homeschooling today. I needed some sort of routine, not only for myself but also for my children. Here was the situation: I was on the couch with coffee, thinking of maybe turning on Bravo to waste away the early morning hours while the kids were asleep, and, lo and behold, they were awake! And again on their iPads.

I started to feel pangs of guilt and was torn between Million Dollar Listing and being a good parent. It was a tough one… Ha! But, I am proud to say, I yelled up the stairs, “Kids! Get dressed! Brush your teeth! We are having school today!”

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Breakfast is served (Dannon smoothie), and pencils are sharpened!

They were confused. “Wait, what?” That’s right, peops. Make the bed, pull your act together, and we are done with this lackadaisical, sedentary, gluttonous behavior (I was sort of talking to myself). I had them each pick out a chapter book. She picked Junie b. Jones, and he picked out something about sharks and walruses, one of those “Who Would Win?” books. You know who is winning today? ME! I kicked it into high gear, created some math worksheets, and I taught her about carrying over and subtraction. (Oh, and I had to use my fingers to count once. That’s kind of embarrassing? Shhh).

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She even got dressed in a glitter headband. I think she was excited!

We did reading, wrote an essay (okay, a few sentences about the problem in the book and the solution), math, and then…get this: I had them do laundry! That’s right. This school brought back Home Economics. Remember that? That’s kind of old-school. Well, it SHOULD be mandatory curriculum, because my children are seriously lacking in the folding laundry department, and I could use some little elves to help around here.

Remember when our parents had kids just to do chores? I feel like I was born with an apron and a dusting mitt on. (Sorry, mom. No, you did a good job, but I mean so did I…with cleaning).

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Cursory folding job. Grade: B-

It’s only 11:00, though, and they are done with school. Next up: recess outside. I guess this is a half-day. Contact me if you’d like to sign up for my school. There will be an (A) cohort and a (B) cohort, scattered drop-offs, mercurial schedules, lots of emails, and no remote learning. Mmmkay? Oh, and have them dressed ready to do chores!

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