On Thursday, I finished up NaNoWriMo – a full day ahead of schedule.
Well, it was huge for me.
I’m not sure why I needed the “win” so bad, but I think it had a little to do with becoming a stay-at-home mom, and the move to Portland, and… well, everything all wrapped up all in one big ball.
One of the things that happened, right after I moved here to Oregon, was that my words left me. I don’t know how else to explain it.
Under normal circumstances, most of the day, as I go around doing my stuff, I have stories and scenarios playing in the back of my head. I don’t know if that’s how it is for other people, but it’s how it is for me.
It could be something as simple as seeing an interesting character on the street and recreating a back story for them, to playing back an argument I had with someone coughTHEBEANcough and inventing a newer, better ending for it (I’m always brilliantly witty and verbally annihilate the opposition, in case you are curious). Sometimes I just imagine how I can best use to describe something I’ve seen, tasting the different words in my head until they feel just right.
This blog has always been my happy place. Back when I started getting more readers – not because I was actively recruiting anyone, but because you guys became my friends, in a weird sort of a way – I started playing around with the idea of trying to make it a big blog. If I had about 100 people when I was only updating about once a week – what if I tried harder? What would happen then?
What if I promoted myself, and tweeted about it, and created a Facebook page, and posted 3-4 times a week, on a schedule, and tried harder with my stories, and, and and….
And seriously… who needs all that headache?
So, this blog has been my happy place.
I may share some of the trials and tribulations of parenting, and stupid stuff that I do, but I’m not really complaining – and that’s on purpose. Because, honestly, even when my life gets hard, or emotionally draining things occur….
Seriously. I’m a “rich white chick” (comparatively speaking, at least) who grew up in Orange County, one of the wealthiest sections of California, one of the wealthiest states of the United States, one of the wealthiest superpower nations of the world.
If I start complaining about my life, I give you full permission to pick me up, stick me on a plane, and drop me in the middle of refugee camp in southern Somalia. You know who has free reign to complain? Them. Not me.
So, I try not to complain.
That last year in California- the last two years, really – they were not easy years. We worked our proverbial heinies off to make it happen and to get where we are. I got up, I went to work, I came home, I fed the kids, I did a chore or two, I went to bed.
Over, and over, and over.
It wasn’t all hard work, but the majority of days were like this.
That’s okay, though. It was worth it. I’m not complaining.
It’s just that – when we got here, after the initial excitement wore off, I was left with a kind of “Well, now what?” feeling. I’d been “Becky who loves horses and works 24/7 and wants to move out of California” for so long that I wasn’t really sure what to do now that I was “Becky who loves horses and lives in beautiful Oregon and only has to keep two kids alive during the day”.
It was hard enough to deal with without my words leaving me. I rely on my words to help me process my life, even if they never even make it onto paper. Not only was it very quiet in my head (that makes me sound creepy and schizophrenic, doesn’t it?), but every time I went to go write something, it took days, instead of an hour or so, and it felt forced. It wasn’t depression – I’ve done depression – heaven knows I’ve done depression.
It felt more like I’d had one of my senses amputated. I’m not sure what caused it, but time was the only thing that fixed it. I think I just needed to be quiet for awhile, and that was okay, because my words are back now.
Still, by the time my words started to come back to me, I was caught up in trying to figure out how to be a stay-at-home mom again. The Bean’s hours this first year at his new accounting job are…. are pretty horrendous. So, most days, it’s just me and the boys, from the time they wake up until about 30 minutes before they go to sleep.
I love my children. I love them, I love them, I love them.
But sometimes, when I hang out with them, and only them, for days on end, they make me want to poke a fork into my eardrum so I can remember what quiet sounds like.
The problem with being a stay-at-home mom is that, well…. errr….
I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing much.
I know, I know, them’s fighting words. I’m not saying that I’m not doing anything, because I’m actually working my a@@ off trying to keep my two little mongrels alive, and fed, and teaching them manners, and the alphabet, and reading, and counting, and skills, and all that necessary human crap that none of us actually remember learning, even though someone in our past worked really, really hard to teach it to us. .
I work hard, I just don’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything.
I went from a pretty decent job as an office manager/executive assistant to running around and saying, “SQUID, get away from that toilet! DragonMonkey, put some pants on! SQUID, FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY, PLEASE JUST STAY OUT OF THE STUPID BATHROOM!”about ten times a day, with no noticeable effect.
I trained the dog how to sit in three tries. Why can’t I get through to the boys that easily?
When I work with my children, it seems never-ending. The progress is so slow that looking for results is like trying to watch grass grow. Some days, the only thing measurable thing my hard work seems to produce is diapers full of poo— which I hate, because when the kids are going poo it means they’re making room for more food – and holy crap, you two are hungry again?! Already?
This makes it sound like I don’t love them, and I don’t appreciate the chance to be home with them – I do, and I do. It’s just that me, on a personal level – I like seeing results. I like having a tangible feeling of accomplishment at the end of the day…. and that’s something that’s hard to find as a stay-at-home-mom.
I started writing.
And then I won NaNoWriMo.
And you know what?
That felt incredible.
And then, on Saturday, I got up early in the morning, and I went out and ran a 5k – an actual 5k race, with an official time, and everything.
I’ve never run in a race before. In fact, I’m not really a runner. I am really, REALLY not a runner, but I used the Couch to 5k program (I highly recommend it), and I went from running a 14 minute mile (for reference, people walk a 15 minute mile), to a 13 minute, to a 12 minute….
…..and on Saturday, my jogging partner and I crossed the finish line with a 36:57, which means we ran an 11:53 pace.
To really understand what that meant to me, you have to understand that back in April of 2010, I was walking with a cane. I know that’s not really that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things, but it really bothered me.
I hate Rheumatoid Arthritis.
I hate it. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it. I hate that there’s no real cure, and I hate most of all that it is nobody’s fault but my own, really – that it is my own stupid body destroying itself.
I hated the pain – it wasn’t so bad, compared to some pain – it was just that it didn’t stop.
There was no respite.
Pain isn’t so bad in small bursts- but when it never lets up, even for five minutes – when you spend all day trying to ignore it, and then all night, and then all the next day… and the days meld into nights, and then back into days, and back into nights, and that pain is still there – gnawing and chewing at you with its hot, pressure-filled little fangs—-
I only had to deal with it for three or four months before the immune-system response from pregnancy knocked it into something manageable again.
There are people out there who deal with flares that last for years – even decades.
I don’t know how they manage it. I really don’t.
So there I was 28 years old, and hiding my cane in the trunk of my car like it was an illicit drug habit – gritting my teeth and faking a limping “real” walk in front of my family so I didn’t look broken or weak….
….pulling into the parking lot at work an waiting for it to be empty so nobody saw me using the cane…..
….staring at the stairs in front of my work – should I use the cane and try to hop up one-legged? My knee hadn’t bent out of its locked position for almost three months, so there was no way to fake it up the stairs, not anymore. Should I try it, or should I take the long-way around to the elevator, doubling my distance when every step really, really, REALLY hurt?
Anyways, you get the point.
People – I FREAKING RAN A 5K YESTERDAY. IN 36 MINUTES.
Do you have any idea how good it felt to do that? Yesterday, I didn’t just run a 5k. Yesterday, I owned this body.
If you’ll pardon my french, yesterday this body was my bitch. Boo-yah.
Something about the jogging seems to be making my joints feel better, so I’m going to keep on doing this and see how far I can run (ha, ha, pun) with it. My knees hurt at first, but if I push past that first bit of hot pain, it actually recedes and I feel better than if I don’t run at all.
Even better, it feels so incredibly empowering to actually be doing something to beat back my idiotic immune system, instead of just passively watching it eat my joints.
Take that, body.
On Thursday, I finished NaNoWriMo.
And yesterday, I ran a 5k.
And it feels good. Really, really good.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go to bed. I’ve got to get up early so I can go jogging in the morning before I take the boys over for a “Thomas the Train” playdate. Then, if they both take a nap at the same time, I’m going to go back to my NaNoWriMo story, to see if I can finish it up over the next month.
Because I can. Because, lately, I’ve been good about finishing things I start…. and that feels good.
Nah, forget that.
That feels great.