May 11, 2017

Well, it’s May 11. The second year anniversary since The Day.

And I have to say, I feel pretty great.

I have done it, friends. I have scratched and crawled and screamed and cried myself to the other side and it took me two years, but I did it.

That’s not to say that there won’t be moments of sadness. Sometimes, I miss the people I’ve had to excise from my life, but I know that my life is better without them in it. It’s a paradox, to be sure, but I know my decisions are the right ones.

There are moments when I still panic a little, like when I come home and the house is silent and I worry that something terrible has happened to the kids. (The reality is that Cooper is playing video games and Emma is watching TV on the iPad, just FYI.) But I still have those moments–echoes of my own childhood laced with fear of something terrible happening to me. Now I have moments where I fear it for my own children, but those moments are fleeting.

And the anxiety is different than it was before, because now I can own it. I can name it when it happens, briefly feel the feeling, acknowledge it, and then let it go. It is so freeing.

You guys, I FEEL JOY. I never thought it would be so exciting to be able to say that. I laugh for real. I recognize how good life is and how lucky I am to be living this life.

I am happy.

I am okay. I am fantastic, even.

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I have to compare what has happened to me over the last year as the feeling you get when you’ve been in extreme physical pain and then suddenly it is gone. Like the moment the epidural takes effect during labor.

Or, when you are having a gall bladder attack and it’s so bad you have to go to the emergency room and when they finally, finally push the morphine and your whole body relaxes and you can’t stop thanking the nurse for making your life so much better. (Why yes, that is a true story and I am thankful to say that the offending gall bladder with its godforsaken gallstones is getting removed next week.)

If you’ve had an experience like this, you know the sheer exhilaration that comes with NOT being in pain anymore. The joy that comes with just feeling normal again. That is how I’ve been feeling. Normal, like a real person living her life, not a sad zombie stumbling through her days listlessly. And it is amazing.

I am so very grateful to be back on the shore with the people I love instead of drowning in the murky depths, or trying to swim in against the current.

I am so very grateful to no longer be thinking about my past every waking moment. To have it haunting and torturing me. To feel like it was the only thing I could talk or write about. I have made peace with it, and it is no longer my present…it is only the past.

A year ago, I couldn’t wait to go into therapy and verbally vomit all the bitterness inside of me. I had so much to say and get out of my soul that I thought I would never be able to stop talking about it.

These days, I may spend a half hour trying to figure out what I am going to talk to my therapist about in my next appointment. My gall bladder? My annoyance that my son plays too many video games? My daughter’s seeming inability to clean up after herself? These things are so trivial, so I mostly talk about the kids and my husband and how proud I am that they are my family, my rocks, the loves of my life.

And I’m proud of what I’ve overcome. Dealing with these kinds of issues is not for the faint of heart, and it would have been so much easier for me to drown it all in alcohol, drugs, or whatever other unhealthy coping mechanism I could find. I could have kept using food as my comfort source, as I have done for most of my life.

But I just had a gut feeling that there was something better on the other side that would be worth the pain and the grueling work.

AND THERE IS.

There is love and happiness and laughter and joy and friendship, and I am so very grateful for all of it.

I am grateful for the people who have stood by me through this, who have helped pull me out, and who have loved me through it.

Life is good.

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Holy Crap, Am I Grateful

I’m typing this post from a Starbucks. Because I like to leave while the housecleaner is at my house, cleaning.

For awhile I left because I just felt really awkward having someone clean my house, and escape was my avoidance-of-awkwardness-strategy. Because it really is awkward for me to have someone come and clean my house.

But my GOD do I love it.

I hired the housecleaner about 8 months ago, and I think it has become less awkward for me, because I am paying her a good amount, supporting a woman-owned business, and making my life more convenient by farming out a job I hate (scrubbing tubs and toilets, UGH.)

So in the near-absence of awkwardness, why do I still flee to Starbies when I could just be chillin’ at home?

1) Because I love a two-pump Peppermint Mocha

2) Because I love even more the magical feeling I get when I arrive home and the house looks and smells immaculately clean and it’s almost like a group of benevolent fairies have come and done the work for me. Or, maybe, house elves, but ones that I treat really well and DEFINITELY have given clothes so they know they’re free and they get  paid for their hard work.

It’s really that magic that I’m leaving for.

And as I sit here, sipping a craft coffee beverage and pecking away at my computer, doing a job that I love while my house is getting beautified, it hits me that I am incredibly privileged.

It’s hard to recognize how privileged and lucky we truly are in the day to day muckity-muck.

When the dogs are barking and the bills are due and the kids aren’t following the frickin’ to do list and I will LITERALLY have 90 minutes of driving to bring them to their various activities in the afternoon and DEAR GOD HOW AM I GOING TO GET ALL THE COOKING PREP DONE???

When all of that is flowing through my mind, it’s easy to forget that all my complaints come from a place of amazing privilege. So, on this most grateful of days, allow me to flip my complaints:

  • How lucky am I to have these two adorable animals in my home, who love me unconditionally and are the most kind and companionable of friends every day?
  • Even if organizing and keeping up with our banking and monthly bills is like a part time job, how lucky am I to be able, without worry, to heat my home, feed my family, PLUS have a glut of entertainment options like cable and Internet as well as Hulu and Netflix?
  • How lucky am I to be able to kibbitz about my kids not doing their homework or their chores right away, when so many children have to worry about hunger in their bellies, or where they are going to sleep tonight? My “worries” about my kids are laughable in comparison to the worries of parents who have to be concerned with how to meet their children’s basic needs.
  • And even though the incessant driving is annoying, how lucky am I to be able to offer my kids’ these opportunities? How lucky am I to have not only a reliable vehicle, but one that warms my ass when it’s cold and can seat more people than I typically ever have in it? How lucky am I to have two healthy children who can participate in lacrosse and gymnastics and all their other activities?
  • And even as I whine about Thanksgiving prep, how lucky am I to be able to buy and prepare more food than the 5 people at the table will ever be able to eat in one sitting? My dad, who has battled and overcome brain lymphoma (in remission for 2 and a half years now!) will be at that table, along with my husband and my kids. I’ll be surrounded by love, warmth and good food. How. Lucky. I. Am.

My life is one of extreme privilege…of excess, really, and holy crap, am I grateful for it.

Just for the record, that doesn’t mean I’m not going to whine and complain sometimes. But in these moments, and especially during Thanksgiving week, how can I not just take a moment and recognize the incredible bounty of my life?

Happiest of Thanksgivings to you and yours. xoxo

Home Office Mom: A Love Story/Tale of Woe

I moved to a new team within my company about 7 months ago. Most of the team is remote, and for awhile I was doing a couple of days in the office per week, and a couple of days at home per week. But that just changed a month and a half ago–I am now officially a home office worker since my office consolidated.

I freakin’ LOVE working at home. I start early and I’m raring to go at 7am. I can get stuff DONE before the kids even leave for school. I have gotten into a pretty good groove where most days I have finished the bulk of my work to-do list by late afternoon and can help the kids with their homework/yell at them from my desk while I reply to emails/wrap things up.

I like the quiet. I get a lot more done at home. Of course, I enjoy office chatting, but it could always be disruptive to my work flow. Now, most of my chatting takes place via Skype and I can reply to a friendly chat in a few minutes after I finish up whatever I’m working on. Which is nice, because not replying for eight minutes to someone who is physically standing at your desk saying, “How was your weekend, Steph?” is just…awkward. But on Skype, it’s all good.

Also because of Skype, which captures my likeness in video from the waist up only, I can wear shorts/jeans/comfy pants every day and still be totally professional. I know there are some who would one-up me and say, “I work from home and I don’t wear ANY pants!” but I have not ventured into that expert-work-from-home-person territory yet. Maybe someday I will be so bold. Today is not that day, and tomorrow is not looking good either. I guess I’m just a pants person, ya know?

Anyway, I also find that since I’m already home and working away on the computer, I might as well just eat my lunch as I continue chugging along on my daily tasks.

Sometimes I admittedly play with Photo Booth during lunchtime.

Photo on 10-17-14 at 1.50 PM Photo on 10-17-14 at 1.52 PM

coffee

I do drink coffee until, and sometimes beyond, lunch. Coffee is delicious, and it loves me.

 

Anyway.

My point is that working from home is amazingly flexible, which is definitely what I need right now, and helps me get shit done better and manage my life with two kids who need me to drive them to all of their many activities.

But…but…

It also poses an inherent dilemma. Because I’m home every moment with the unmopped floors and the dirty socks and the dogs (who, I have learned, bark at Every. Little. Thing. All. Day. Long.) Because I’m supposed to be working but there’s laundry and dishes and even though I got the client input on the second round draft and I created a sales training and I kicked off a new poster program and sent about 50 emails of some level of business importance, it still feels like I’m a lazy slob if the house isn’t tidy at the end of the work day. Because I was here all day, after all, and I didn’t even walk the dogs.

And the kids, holy mother of gym socks, the kids.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they came home and just took care of the stuff they know they are supposed to take care of so I could finish my work and we could all have a lovely evening together? Wouldn’t that be lovely? Yes, yes it would.

But does it happen?

Nope.

I’m not sure why it can’t happen that way. I think it’s because my kids WANT me to drink more wine, but that’s just a guess.

Because really, my kids are old enough to know better. To get that they have responsibilities. They have A List. A List of Things for Which They Are Responsible for Doing After School, Even if Mom Is On A Call When They Get Home.

But they don’t heed the godforsaken (kidforsaken?) list. Why? Why don’t they heed the list? The list is easy. It is just four things:

  • Empty your lunchbox and backpack
  • Do your homework
  • Pack up your homework/folder/lunchbox for tomorrow
  • Do your chore from the posted list

Seems simple enough, right? Common sense, even. These are basic responsibilities that my old-enough children should be able to manage without me berating them. Maybe they like to be berated? I can never be sure, but it seems to be the only thing that actually works.

It often goes a lot like this:

Me (to child engrossed in iPod): What are you doing?

Child (with deer-in-headlights look): Playing on my iPod.

Me: Did you do your homework?

Child (honestly not sure): Yes?

Me: All of it?

Child: I think so?

Me: Did you get your lunchbox/backpack/folder cleaned out and ready for tomorrow?

Child: Oh, I forgot.

Me: What’s your chore today?

Child: Oh, I don’t know. I forgot to check.

Me: (dies a thousand deaths, then begins berating)

I just don’t understand it. We have had endless conversations where they repeat back the four simple things on the list. We have had meaningful and productive discourse on how quickly they can complete their responsibilities, and then have scads of free time to do whatever they want. They have each independently learned this lesson in a multitude of different scenarios. For example:

  • You were right, Mom. I wish I had started this project much earlier; I wouldn’t have had to give up my entire weekend to do it now. I’ll know better next time. (FALSE.)
  • Ugh, I should have listened to you, Mom, and put the clean sheets on my bed right after I stripped the dirty ones off four hours ago (said at 9pm by an exhausted 12 year old who had to make up his bed…but then did the same exact thing next time.)

Don’t they understand that hearing them say these things should be a cause for me to celebrate a parenting win? Don’t they get how hollow it makes my mom victory when they can’t keep the lesson in their head? How I can’t truly enjoy being SO RIGHT when they keep forgetting how right I was the very next day? It’s maddening.

If I was in the office all day instead, they would complete all their homework under teacher supervision at the after school program, and I could pick them up and badger them–I mean, talk about responsibilities with them–at home without having to divide my attention with work.

So, in the end, I learn again that no solution is perfect. I continue to try and focus on being grateful for this nearly-perfect-but-not-without-its-drawbacks solution that I am lucky enough to have, and wait for that glorious day when the lesson finally, blissfully sticks in their heads.

(That day is coming. It must be coming soon. IT HAS TO COME, RIGHT???)

 

 

 

If this is not the epitome of the new blog tagline…

Then I don’t know what is.

You have to watch this TEDx talk with Lizzie Velasquez. Seriously.

No matter how bad we think we have it, we can always find the positives.

She is so amazing, inspirational and funny. One of my favorite lines: “I’ve had a really difficult life, but that’s OK!” Challenges are ok. Overcoming them to find the positives makes us stronger, better, more grounded in ourselves and who WE are.

Take a look…it is so worth the 13 minutes.

In which I make a complete ass of myself. And learn some stuff. (As usual.)

It is rather fitting that this is the first post on the new blog, since I am writing about an utterly humbling experience I had the other day. A serious “DUH” incident in which I made a complete ass out of myself and came off looking like a total moron.

So fitting that I should be terrified of coming forward and saying “I am Steph Nash, not some persona I have created, just me, and that’s enough!” and the first story I tell as Just Steph Nash is one that ensures I am not too big for my britches.

Life is good that way. It keeps me in check. (Said without any sarcasm, for realz.)

(‘God, Steph, stop rambling and spill the damned story!’ you say.)

OK, OK.

So I had signed my son up for a sports conditioning class at the Y and it started at 5pm. That is a challenge for me for sure, and I was going to meet that challenge through a carefully coordinated plan of attack. BOOM. Here it is:

  • Leave work promptly at 4:30 (early, but doable).
  • Race to pick up the kids at after-school care (they were under strict instructions: at 4:30, Coop was to go change into his workout stuff, and Emma–my slowpoke–was to come RUNNING as soon as they were called down for dismissal)
  • Try to get in and out of the school in 5 minutes or less (a major accomplishment)
  • Jet to the YMCA and hustle him in, likely at the stroke of 5:02.

At 4:31, I was KILLING IT, you guys. I had packed all my crap, closed down my computer, flew down the stairs and was in the parking lot approaching my car. My beautiful, new 4 month old car that has made driving so much more delightful than I remembered it could be. I remember thinking to myself, “You GOT this, Super Mom! NAILED it!”

(insert lolz from those of you who know that pride goeth before the dumbassery)

I hopped in the seat, turned the ignition and turned to start backing. Woops, guess I turned the ignition too fast because I didn’t QUITE get the car started. Silly me.

So I turned the ignition again, carefully and with meaning this time, and nothing happened.

Hmmmmm, strange.

Let me try that again!

Nothin.

4:33.

DO NOT PANIC.

I stopped, I looked around my car. Nothing unusual. I hadn’t left the headlights on (my fancy new grown-up car has lights that shut off AUTOMATICALLY…wow, technology!) or the interior light, so it didn’t seem like it could be a drained battery.

I had a thought that maybe the keyless ignition wasn’t working, so I dutifully pulled out the key and tried to turn the ignition with that.

You guessed it, nothing.

I took a breath and came to terms with the fact that Cooper was not getting to the Y today. Shit! I exhaled and let it go.

I tried to call the husband, who always has a way of talking me down from the ledge and helping me see if I am missing something. Voicemail.

OK, I’m a big girl. I can call AAA without consulting him and then go in and sit in my office until they get here.

AAA told me they might not be able to get someone out there til 7:40. SERIOUSLY? I’d given up on the Y, but I had to pick the kids up by 6pm at the latest, so that was just too long to wait.

I felt the panic rise up. Drew was in Hartford, so he couldn’t get to the kids on time.

I thought it was the battery, and I noticed my boss was parked right next to me. I texted her to see if she could give me a jump. Five minutes later, she was in the parking lot with me, along with the building security guard who had jumper cables. We hooked them up. She started her car. I tried to start mine.

And nothing happened.

My boss was freezing out in the parking lot with me in her light coat. The security guard was looking on with mild interest as we tried to figure out why my new car wouldn’t start.

We tried several times. Nothing.

And now, I am seriously panicking.

Well, just me panicking, really. Everyone else was just freezing their asses off while I tried to figure out what to do.

Well, just me panicking, really. Everyone else was just freezing their asses off while I tried to figure out what to do.

How will I get my kids? Who can I call that could pick them up? Jesusgod, am I really going to have to wait here til 7:40? What about my dinner in the crockpot: is it going to burn? Can food in crockpots actually burn? Why isn’t my NEW EFFING CAR STARTING?!?! The dog has to go out–I don’t want to clean up pee and poop when I get home. Will Drew skip his workout to come get me instead? WHO WILL GET THE KIDS? The school is going to judge me for being THAT MOM AGAIN!!!! OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG!!!!!

I looked up from my panic and saw my boss on her phone. It took me a second to realize that she was arranging to catch a ride home with a co-worker. She told me I could use her car to go pick up the kids and go home and then she’d have her husband drive her into work in the morning. My boss was going to lend me her car. I was so grateful for her kindness in the moment, and in general to have such a great boss.

So, resolved to all the inconveniences of having a broken car (including what I was sure would be a hefty mechanic’s bill) I shut the hood down and grabbed my purse. I closed the car door and the car beeped at me.

What the hell?

I opened the door and didn’t see anything strange. The trunk, all the doors, and the hood were all shut. I closed the door. The car beeped again.

My boss looked at me, probably with the same confused look I had on my own face.

“Is it in gear maybe?” she asked.

The car was in reverse.

THE CAR WAS IN REVERSE.

THE CAR.

WAS IN.

REVERSE.

THE WHOLE EFFING TIME.

I put it in park.

It started right up.

And I died of shame.

shame-600x320I mean, we laughed in the moment but I really wanted to die.

She had just frozen herself for like 30 minutes helping me, offered me her car and inconvenienced herself, all because I was an utter moron.

And I went and got the kids who dutifully hurried out, Cooper fully dressed and ready to be sports-conditioned in his lacrosse shorts and sweat wicking shirt.

When I told him what happened, he just hugged me and said, “It’s ok, Mom. I’m sorry you had a bad afternoon.”

And my heart melted and I loved my life and my kids and my husband (who had reassured me on the phone while I drove from the office to pick up the kids that it was an honest mistake anyone could have made) more than anything.

Because even at my most idiotic and hare-brained, I am loved. I am enough, even when I screw everything up because I am in such a rush to get everything done IN JUST THE PERFECT WAY THAT I HAVE PLANNED.

Lesson learned. Again.