Perspective

It goes like this: make a career choice on the cusp of choosing something else, embrace and love career whilst parenting . . . get a little grief . . . get a little tired . . . then quit your fucking job on a wing and a prayer.

There’s a little more to unpack there, but later. Here’s my new About page. 

While planning my transition out of secondary education and into healthcare I realized that I needed some skills, vocabulary, and experience. I’m used to being good at my job and, on the days where I’m not, at least having the knowledge TO do it well. I couldn’t enter school without a base, so I decided to take a Nursing Assistant course at our local technical school. I’m not going to lie – taking this as a compressed course is both easier and more difficult than I thought it would be. I’m learning how to study again, how to maneuver a foreign language, and how to be human.

These last couple of years have left me a little pruny, and wondering if my warm, nice self was ever going to return and send this really cynical and kind of bitter lady packing. But leaving my clinical this week, I felt a little tweak in my chest as I realized: I don’t hate this, I smiled at work, I am literally IN the shit but am leaving tired, satisfied, and maybe even a little happy?

Classes were running three days a week for about 7 hours a day. We split between lecture and reading and lab. I’ve been terrified all along that I am only good at thinking about things and not at the actual doing of things – so I’m happy to report that I can take your blood pressure and get a reasonably accurate reading. Let’s be clear that I’m still better with my brain than my hands but goddamnit I’m learning. Now that we’re in clinicals were in class some days, clinicals others. Our clinical experiences are all in a local nursing home and after we’ve met requirements for certain skills we just get in there.

I cried on the way home from my first clinical day because I couldn’t find my way around the building (it’s not that big or that complicated) and I couldn’t figure out how the nurses and aids kept so much information in their heads at one time. I diagnosed my self with a processing disorder and decided that I was one of those people who just couldn’t do anything and was going to die squatting in houses like an old crazy cat food eating poet.

I was fine by the end of the second day. Not proficient in any way. Like, I am sometimes working under a teenaged CNA with way more experience and working knowledge than I have.

There’s really something to going back to the beginning. There is no option but for me to be humble because while I may have a whole set of professional experiences and knowledge, it is of little consequence here. I’m learning to be grateful for my healthy working body, for the ability to shower and toilet and eat and dress with freedom, and for my readily available friends and family. I’m also learning to shut up, listen, and ask for help.

I leave at the end of the shift tired (but let’s be REALLY honest – I’m doing about 1/8 of the work of the CNAs on shift) but I leave having had ZERO time to navel gaze and contemplate the state of my existence or any of the other stupid shit I’m consumed with on any given day. I love this so much. And this is on top of the fact that I’m helping people with immediate issues, making them more comfortable, and being in the company of elders whose life experience makes me feel like an infant.

On that – I feel 20 years younger as a student, but as my classmates reminded me when I cut up vegetables and cheese for them at lunch – “you’re such a mom!”. Feel younger, am not actually younger. Oh well.

While this is all good, I’m feeling the looming economic crisis within my household. I know the CNAs all scramble for overtime and extra shifts and I cannot imagine how their bodies can take it. I realize that I have done very little actual HARD WORK in my life. And I certainly question my ability to teach part time, pick up CNA shifts, and attend school full time. I felt a little Barbara Ehrenrich-y  when clinicals began, but then I realized that this isn’t an experiment and I don’t have any back up money or a book deal. Mine is the best case scenario of on-your-actual-own because I at least already have housing and transportation and have had recent health care.

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The end of school, some animals and the sweet spot of parenting.

It’s been a doozy, friends. One for the books. A year to remember. Interminable, exhausting, exhilarating, and joyful. But sweet hallelujah — the school year is OVER.

Have I told you this already? With my endless bitching and moaning and OHMYFREAKINGGODAMIREALLYSICKAGAIN? book slamming? Sorry. Really. No one likes a Crabby Patty, and I ended the year like a napless five-year-old with uncomfortable clothes. In the classroom I was all smiles and “These things happen, guys” when my students were concerned. In the office and at home, well, not so much smiling – a lot more napping and stomping and unremitting diarrhea. But you know what? These things happen.

A student of mine had a similar year; it seemed like they couldn’t catch a break between crisis and injuries and illness. I’d like to write a revisionist history where I handled my setbacks in the same way as my student. However, I didn’t, but I learned a lot.

Some chronic health issues have colored the last few months. While untimely, it has forced me to examine the ways in which I spend my time and energy.

How I spent the last week of school - alternately titled "barfing during finals"
How I spent the last week of school – alternately titled “barfing during finals”

 

And the dogs. My God The Dogs.

Sam is recovering from surgery to repair her cruciate ligament and meniscus. Everyone is saying “poor Sam” but you know who you should feel bad for? Her poor mom. Literally. Poor. She’s being spoiled and loved and well cared for. Her sister is pissed.

Sam demands to be wrapped like a burrito while we ice her knee. She says it's too cold.
Sam demands to be wrapped like a burrito while we ice her knee. She says it’s too cold.
And Bella is BORED.
And Bella is BORED.

Sam has doggie rehab/physical therapy once a week. Consequently, Bella likes to terrorize her at least once a day. Now Bella looks like this as she goes to doggie daycare:

Actually this was on the way home. She loves her new friends.
Actually this was on the way home. She loves her new friends.

Then they can snuggle like the best friends (bahaha!) they are.

It's rough, right?
It’s rough, right?

Oh, and we’re trying to keep the chickens and garden alive. What? Oh yeah. By ‘we’ I mean Matt. Obv.

None of the chickens were harmed in the making of this post . . . yet.
None of the chickens were harmed in the making of this post . . . yet.

 

So between illness and runaway chickens and injured or otherwise assholish dogs, I nonchalantly asked Matt if he would want to go to the beach with us this weekend. July is a hot, uncomfortable mess with Colby going between our house and with his dad. I desperately wanted to do something fun – with all of us. I was so surprised Matt agreed that I kept waiting for him to come up with an excuse not to go. I was okay taking the kids to the beach on my own – I always have been – but I was really hoping for his company.

We made arrangements for a friend to come along (lest Colby be stuck with the old farts all by himself), and I packed the car last night. I took sandwich orders: pb with fluff and nutella (x2), gluten-free pb and nutella (x1 and g.r.o.s.s.), pb with nutella and a banana (x1). I packed drinks and four tubes of sunblock and hats.

I had us in the car by 8 a.m. and we were off.

9 a.m. gas station Red Hot. Great idea, right?
9 a.m. gas station Red Hot. Great idea, right?

We drove and listened to the radio and barely heard a peep from the kids. Thank you teenaged sleepiness and Nintendo DS.

See the kids? Way up there?
See the kids? Way up there?

As I scrambled up some rocks, it dawned on me that we are still in the sweet spot of parenting. (I’m sure you’ve heard me say this already – and I’m sorry if you’re not there yet. I’m not trying to throw this in your poor, sleep-deprived and over-stimulated face. I’m just letting you know: Trust me. It gets better.) I was ahead of the kids, not directly behind or beside them. I could climb a bit, stand ahead, and know that they were coming along (instead of being convinced of their imminent deaths). Matt and I could carry on a conversation EVEN IF THEY WERE OUT OF EYESIGHT. I knew that they were okay.

I run anxious already, but it’s like I never knew how debilitating it was until the fabric of worry and doom and danger that had covered me all started to unravel. I think I lost a strand in the third grade when Colby could finally tie his shoes. Another when we entered into a new school community. Another with some honest conversation. Another here, another there, until WOMP – here I am.

We got home from super-awesome-beach-day a couple of hours ago. Not long after that, Matt left with the dogs and Colby left with his dad. Even a year ago – the sudden absence of all of my people (yes, dogs included) from my immediate reach would have sent me into a vortex of nothingness: where I couldn’t concentrate on anything less something catastrophic happened and I needed to be ready to run. But – here I am, sitting on my front steps with a glass of Pinot and talking to you!

I don’t know if THIS is the result of Colby’s independence or my, uh, maturity (does that make me sound geriatric?). I guess I hope it’s both.

We spent our day here..
We spent our day here.

So I spent the day in thanks. Thankful for the warm air that felt better than my heated blanket EVER will, thankful for the company of my husband who will swim in the cold, cold ocean with me, the soft breeze and the sound of the waves. Most of all, I was thankful for the opportunity to read AN ENTIRE SECTION of the weekend Times, on the beach, knowing that my kid was just a half a beach away, and he was just fine.

Surprise!

http://wakemedvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/fireworks.jpg

Gotcha!

Nothing juicy here, just a little Sunday morning productivity. To me, the productivity part is a bigger surprise than an unintended pregnancy.

I’ve been up since 4:30. I had a dream that I was signed up for a sprint triathlon (which I recruited friends to do with me) but I was late because I was folding laundry at my parent’s house. We made it there as the starting gun went off but I couldn’t find my bike and watched all of my friends start without me. As-freaking-if any of those things (aside from my lateness) would ever happen. Surprising I couldn’t fall back asleep after that . . .

Some good came out of that adrenaline-producing dream, though. Both of my yearly syllabi (behemoth-like documents including yearly plans, quarter-by-quarter schedules listing all school events, expectations and grading guidelines, sample assignments and more) are FINISHED. Finished as in: spell-checked, date-checked, major assignments and due dates included complete.

I’m mad proud people.