Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Ahoy, Hola, and Aloha One Last Time

I always wonder when a blog I've been following doesn't get updated... for weeks... then months... what happened to the person? Why did they stop writing? Are they writing in a new blog somewhere else? What's going on in their life?

Now my own blog is one of those mysteries. Not so mysterious, really. I stopped writing because I didn't think anyone was reading it. I was weird and protective of this blog anyway and didn't tell any of my real-life friends about it. For some reason I only wanted people I didn't know to read about my life - but I wanted a whole lot of them, an outpouring of interest and support from a vast anonymous slice of humanity. I think that was too much to expect when my life is not that fascinating. And when I'm too nervous about privacy issues to post any pictures.

I think I started writing to express some of my sadness and insecurities. At the time they had to do with my relationship and my career, such as it was. Later on I was all mopey about being infertile. A blog is therapeutic in the sense that writing down a problem can often bring the solution into focus. But it's not a good way to get sympathy from the world at large. I only realized that that's what I wanted after I stopped writing.

I'm in a better place now, as maybe my last post indicates. I was grateful at the time I wrote it for more than just the things I mentioned. I was afraid to mention it and jinx myself, but I was incredibly thankful because I was pregnant again. I needed a lot of help to get to that point. Luckily I got that help, and I have a wonderful baby now.

So this is Erin signing off - not exactly 'mission complete,' because relationships and families are works in progress, and let's not even talk about the career right now - but at least 'mission under control.' And 'mission moving to alternate forms of expression for now.'

Thanks for reading. :)

Saturday, December 18, 2010


Last night we took our daughter to a Christmas party. It was all adults, all couples, so there wasn't really anything for her to do. And dinner wasn't even served until 8:30 pm, about half an hour after she's usually in bed. But she was soooo good.

I had brought a book and a stuffed animal for her, and after I read her the book once, she curled up on the sofa and quietly read it to her cat. Then she toddled around nestling up to various adults, talking to them about her cat, and giving them shy smiles. I was proud of her social skills. She sat next to me at dinner and tried a little bit of everything on her plate. Then she played quietly by herself the rest of the evening. At one point, one of the women at the party, someone she had never met before, was asking her interested questions, and after a short conversation with her my daughter smiled and said, "I love you." I gotta teach her to hold her cards closer to her chest. :)

Honestly, I have nothing to complain about. I have an amazing, dishy, multitalented husband who I was so lucky to meet and marry. I have a beautiful little girl who is just the light of my life. We have a lovely home, and general security, and we're all in good health. I am blessed.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Canine Phobia

I used to think, when I was a kid, that as soon as I was grown up I would fill my house with pets. I'd have dogs, cats, guinea pigs, birds of all descriptions - my house would always be full of activity and interest, and I'd never feel lonely. I guess my experiences with animals up to that point had all been pretty positive. My own pets could make me happy on the worst of days - so I didn't see why you wouldn't want to open your home to as many of them as possible.

Now I understand. It's not just the maintenance and cleaning that, as an adult, I'm now responsible for. It's also the experiences I've had with animals who weren't as friendly and loving as the ones I grew up with.

I have a regular route around my neighborhood that I like to run. On the course of this run, I'm routinely barked at by large dogs who lunge up against their fences aggressively. Even though I've learned where they live and am expecting it, it still scares me when a dog barks at me suddenly. More than once, a dog has jumped a fence or come through an open gate and come after me. I always stop running immediately, so I won't look like prey, and turn to face the dog and try to look alpha. Then I gradually back away until the dog appears to lose interest. I've never been bitten, but that may be just luck so far. I wish the owners would train them not to bark at passersby (our dogs never did that) or would make sure they couldn't get out and chase people. For the first time, since we've lived here, my dominant feelings about dogs have been that they are potentially dangerous.

I definitely don't want my daughter to feel that way or to realize that I do. When I'm pushing her stroller around the neighborhood and a large dog barks at us, I try to make light of it, saying "Hello dog!" So far, I don't think she's scared of dogs, but if one gets out and charges us when she's in her stroller, it will probably be frightening for her.

One of my friends also adopted a dog recently who is pretty much completely untrained and has a lot of energy. When we visit her, the whole time the dog is jumping on us, trying to chew on our feet, or racing around the room. It's difficult to have a meal there because the dog is constantly trying to get the food off the table and doesn't listen when my friend says "no." The dog also has growled at my child. After two visits, I don't feel safe taking my daughter over there any more. My friend doesn't use any discipline, beyond the occasional suggestion "please don't do that," which the dog totally ignores and probably doesn't even realize is directed to him. I feel like I can't visit my friend again until she either gets rid of this dog or it mellows with age.

I remember feeling total love for the dog I had when we were growing up - she was my best friend. But my daughter doesn't love dogs like that, and no wonder. I feel disinclined to get a dog as a pet in our family (even though I would train it, and wouldn't tolerate bad behavior), just because being around unpleasant dogs has soured me on the whole idea.

Another childhood dream, up in smoke?!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

The Circle

Today I had the day off from work so I joined my mom at her weekly sewing circle - a morning in a comfortable room flooded with sunlight, chit-chat, and animated discussion of projects, grand-children, holiday plans, and other pleasures. We drank tea and ate cookies. We admired one another's quilts. I sewed a potholder. It was so pleasant and peaceful and full of good female energy. At one point, as the group discussed all the things they want to do and see, my mother said, "How could anyone ever be bored?!" and many of the others laughed in agreement. I can't wait until I retire so my life can be filled with mornings like that.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

What's Gonna Work, Part II

I had a thought. I was reading about Sarah Michelle Gellar, who was married for eight years before having her first baby. She talked about how being with her husband for that period gave them time to grow and change together, so that they were a team when they finally had to deal with the stress and excitement of caring for a newborn. It sounds so sensible.

When I was younger, I always thought I would like to live with my husband-to-be for about five years before we actually got married, just to get used to being a team together. In the end, that schedule got compressed a bit. We weren't lucky enough to find each other until we were in our late twenties. I started to get scared that marriage would never happen, so I pushed for it to happen sooner, and then as soon as we were hitched I started pushing for a kid because I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to conceive.

Maybe some of the challenges that my husband and I have faced - the frustrations of not working together, not agreeing on priorities, not agreeing on whether to have a second baby - are due to us having a baby so soon after we got married. We didn't have a lot of time to just play around together - go on trips, learn about each other.

It was a relief to me when I got pregnant so quickly the first time - whew, met the age 30 deadline - and I have loved raising our daughter. But perhaps there would have been less stress and more teamwork if we'd waited. I often felt when our daughter was brand new that I had to shield him from the inconvenience or difficulty of the baby by handling what I could by myself. I did all the feedings, most of the diaper changes, all the laundry and planning and doctor's check-ups and scheduling and packing. He never had to get up in the night with her when she was little.

It wasn't until recently that I felt at all resentful of that - when I heard a friend who's expecting a child of his own soon mention confidently that he expected to take the late shift and feed the baby before going to bed, so his wife could go to bed early and catch up on her sleep. I felt sad that I didn't get help like that. (Realistically, I don't know how he could have helped, since I was nursing and didn't want to skip a feeding for fear of having my milk production drop. But I would have liked him to offer. Why couldn't he have magically read my mind and known to make such an offer so I could have refused it?)

Anyway. The thought was about how our lives might be different if we'd waited. Or if we didn't have children. Maybe we'd have more time for each other. Maybe we'd see each other more as partners in this whole endeavor. Maybe I'd feel more united with him and more trusting of his decisions. Sometimes I have the sense that everything (the joined lives, the house, the child) are my ideas that I've talked him into, and whenever it's not super-fun I feel apologetic. I promised it would all be great and I feel that it's my fault when it's not.

Is it too late for this to change, I wonder? Are my choices just to accept that he's the way he is, and not try to make him different, or to have serious conversations where I try to bully him into being different - is there no organic way for us to get there together?

Or are we just "in the belly of the beast" raising a small child, and things will all get easier as she grows older and more self-sufficient? Perhaps child-rearing is a challenge to the best of marriages, and there are better days ahead. Not that I think our marriage is strained. Just not as perfect as some other people's seem to be.

Saturday, November 27, 2010


There's some old poem about how your kids will never remember that your doilies were starched, but they'll remember the trip to the park one summer day, or some such thing. It always makes me feel obscurely guilty to read it. I do take my daughter to the park, and we bake cookies together and do fun stuff like that. Every Wednesday we go to storytime at the local library. Every Saturday we do arts and crafts at the local nature center. Pretty much my whole emotional being revolves around her and being her mother.

But I also spend a lot of time cleaning, and occasionally ignore her in favor of cleaning. There are days when she's whining for attention, dragging on my arm or whatever as I'm trying to dust, and I go on with what I'm doing or tell her "Play by yourself." At those times, I know I'm putting the cleanliness of the bookshelves over her immediate happiness.

One of my mom friends is kind of the opposite of me. I think this particular friend is awesome. I have so much respect and admiration for her, and also just think she's a really nice person. She has been so supportive of me during my hard times. She's different from me in that she has a hotshot career she's not putting on hold to do child-rearing; she basically single-parents her son most of the time while her husband is on frequent business trips, but she's also working full-time and a rising star in her field. She's also different in that she does not spend time cleaning. Their house is always kind of chaotic and filled with a million half-finished projects, lonely socks, dog toys, etc. - the kind of house where the clutter alone tells the story of artistic, energetic people who have better things to do than dust.

Sometimes I wish I was more like her. I'd like to send the message to my daughter (and anyone who might visit our home) that what matters most to me is the time we spend together.

Other times I think of justifications for my cleaning obsessions, like:
Keeping the house relatively clean helps justify my working only part-time. I'd feel bad if my husband came home after a long day and found the house a disaster zone.
This way, I can always find stuff - I don't have to hunt through clutter looking for those missing jigsaw pieces or my green earrings. Everything is pretty much back where it belongs, at the end of each day.
If visitors are coming over, I don't have to make a special effort to clean up.
I like doing it. When I'm in the midst of a routine yet satisfying cleaning job, I feel like I'm achieving "flow" - that state of total absorption where you don't really notice the time passing, that comes as near to a definition of happiness as anything.

I'm not sure I can turn it off anyway. Last time we visited my friend, I had to fight the impulse to start cleaning her house, even as we sat around and talked. If she went out of town for a weekend, I would love to go over there and just wash dishes, do laundry, glue broken toys back together, and sweep until the house was clean. It's sick, right?

Saturday, November 20, 2010


Why in the world are some people so flaky? I have a few old friends I'm trying to keep in touch with, who just aren't returning the effort. I email them from time to time, call and leave messages, but no response. One of my friends, an old college roommate who I haven't seen in a few years, actually stood me up at a restaurant where we planned to meet to have lunch. I was looking forward to catching up with her, but she never showed. I called her and got her voicemail as always. Later, when I emailed her to ask what had happened, she wrote back that she decided to take a nap instead. She didn't even apologize.

I tried to toss it off like it was no big deal. But I was so hurt. When I think about it now, I'm still hurt, even though this was some time ago. I don't think I've ever done anything to offend her or been anything but a loyal, fun friend to her. I guess she just has bigger fish to fry.

I have enough friends who do seem to care about me and whose company I really enjoy. For some reason I feel compelled to try to keep up the friendship with these few, however, who don't seem to be giving anything back. I wish I could just let it go. I'm like an ex who can't come to terms with the fact that I've been dumped.