Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lost In Translation

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to come to terms with what things about me I can change and what I can’t. I was horribly out of shape for most of my twenties, but by my thirtieth birthday, I’d changed that. I not only adapted to a new healthy lifestyle, but I actually became addicted to it.

I’ve also made progress with computers and technology. Granted I’m still the most tech-inept person I know, but believe me I was way worse five years ago. I’m better with money and time management; my Valentine’s gift to my husband is that I’m sticking to our budget like glue. That may not sound romantic, but to him it’s like I hung the moon.

But some things I’m starting to realize are just part of who I am, and always will be. One is that I’m navigationally challenged to the point of it being a physical handicap. I could maybe…MAYBE, find north if I had a compass. Even then….?

Unless I’ve been somewhere at least seven or eight times, there’s a good chance I can’t find it. It doesn’t help to tell me where it is in location to somewhere else, because odds are, I don’t remember where that place, street, store is either. It especially doesn’t work if someone says that my destination is just south of…or west of… x, y, or z….because again, I don’t know those.

And don’t give me that whole the sun rises in the east and sets in the west crap because I’m never going anywhere at seven a.m. on a cloudless day. NEVER! And even if I determine east and west “from the sun”, I don’t know if I’m facing north or south in relation to it!

Last week, I went with the girls on a field trip to the children’s museum downtown. I’ve been downtown maybe a dozen times in the seven years we’ve lived in Raleigh, and was probably only driving on three of those occasions. So, I knew going into it that I should pay attention, i.e. don’t get caught up singing along to the radio at the top of my lungs or talk on my cell phone as I guessed my way through one way streets.

I did okay finding the museum, but then got completely turned around three hours later when I came out of the parking lot. I needed to return to the preschool to reclaim my girls, because they were riding back there on the bus, a wise choice given their mother’s total lack of an internal gps.

A few minutes after I left, I realized I’d probably never see the girls again. I made a literal and figurative wrong turn because I was headed into a part of town that was not ever going to end in a preschool.

I tried to call my husband, but he has this serious full-time job thing that often results in him being unavailable to act as On-star. So, next I called my friend J, who is a very navigationally capable woman. A woman who has lived here longer than me and confidently learned her way around downtown Raleigh.

Thank God she was home because if I didn’t get on the right track really soon, I was going to earn a starring role on a 48 Hours mystery. My choices would be to embrace a life of crime, possibly through being jumped into a gang, or to become statistic and headline of the six o’clock news.

My friend helped me and I escaped back to the suburbs, but, for the record, I’ve always understood why Hansel & Gretel needed to leave a trail of breadcrumbs to find their way home. I feel like I need to do that when I go out to get a jug of milk.

The other thing that I’ve been totally unsuccessful in changing about myself is my propensity for saying exactly what’s on my mind, the very instant I think it.

Case in point: this Sunday, in our Sunday school class, we were listening to a really great lesson that was both uplifting and challenging. Near the end of the discussion, the teacher used a football analogy, as an example of how people recall the same event with different details, like how the apostles recount Jesus’ time on earth with slight variations. Variations, not contradictions…it’s just that some of the things they saw him do stood out more to some of them than others.

Anyway, the analogy started like this, “Remember that sideline catch that the Giants had in the second half of the Super Bowl?” There were lots of nods, and, at the same time, everyone’s eyes turned to me, a well-known lifelong Giants fan. I guess I was completely beaming because the teacher said, “Wow, Heather, you look like you’re remembering your wedding day instead of the Super Bowl!”

That was NOT an appropriate time for the next words that came out of my mouth… “The Super Bowl was way better than my wedding day.” LET ME EXPLAIN! First of all, the couples in that class that know us the best laughed right along with us, because they know that neither my husband nor I enjoyed our wedding all that much. Luckily, you can have a good marriage, even if your wedding wasn’t what you had in mind.

And my husband, who is ever more tolerant of my missing filter, smiled at me, took my hand in his…with the whole class looking on…and said, “It was a really awesome catch!” Basically agreeing that we’d rather toast the Giants’ two recent Super Bowl wins on our anniversary than a stressful wedding day we had twelve years ago.

My mouth and my lack of direction are liabilities, but hopefully I’ll always have people around to get me out of the dangerous situations they both get me into on a regular basis. Because I’m pretty sure that if either of those things was going to change about me, there’d be some sign of that by now.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Just Take My Word For It....

I had this rogue notion to get my Mommy-act together one night last week and update the kids’ baby books. If I had known how far I’d fallen behind or the extent of the things I’d have to try and recall, I would’ve just watched TV, like the actual surviving-day-to-day Mommy that I am.
First up, Brainy. That one seemed promising because a great deal of it was filled out lovingly and methodically back when he was an only child for two and a half years. I even managed to keep up with it for about a year and a half after the twins came home. Because I didn’t leave the house back then. But suddenly, there are no height and weight recordings from his check-ups, though I’m certain he’s grown since he was four. No problem, I’ll call the pediatrician and get those. My goal is to do it before he turns nine.
Next, in an effort to crush my own spirit, I decided to do some work on the twins’ books, which I haven’t touched since they started walking. I recorded that accomplishment for them and have been chasing, wrangling, and peeling them off the ceiling ever since.
Their books start off like a good read, basic information about our family, where we live, the pregnancy, etc. The handwriting in theirs is markedly sloppier than my son’s. Everything I’ve done since August 22nd of 2006 has been rushed. In the section I was supposed to list gifts, I put toys, clothes, diapers…whereas in my son’s book, I described the clothes and wrote out what toys exactly and from whom. I stopped recording the twins’ growth at age two, so I’m going to have to get a cheat sheet from the pediatrician for that too.
It was the next section is where it got sketchy. Where this blog started to write itself. It was the page of “firsts”. Again, I was recording things left and right until they started walking, then nothing. So, as my husband, mother, and I sat down in the family room that night, I had to rack my brain for things like “First dressed yourself”, “First went potty”, “First brushed your teeth”, “Drew a picture”, “Wrote the alphabet”, “Made a Friend”….Uh-oh, I don’t remember. How exact do these need to be? Can I ballpark it? Like, “Well, I know you were older than one and younger than six.”
I thought maybe my husband and mom could help me piece it together. But, actually, we couldn’t even always agree on what the question was asking. “Do they mean when we brushed her teeth or she brushed her teeth?” “She’s been friends with A for her whole life, but is that a friend I made for her?” “I think they mean when she made a friend by herself.” “A trip where? Like to Nana’s house, or a vacation?”
Okay, wait. One at a time. Stretch…“Dressed yourself”.... Do parents record a certain date. Like Wednesday, April 27th? We agreed that she was probably three. Sometime that year? We also liked 3 as the answer to when she first drew a picture. We voted on four for her brushing her own teeth… “So, we’re going with four, right?” I asked, pen poised over the book. We exchanged glances, a silent agreement that these made up guesses would become fact in the baby annals. Nods. Done.
That’s when I decided to just fill the rest out with whatever seemed reasonable or appropriate. How will they know the difference? And it’s not a science exam; there’s more than one right answer. There’s only one “true” answer, but I don’t recall it, so que cera cera! Won’t they just be pleased that I took the time to fill it out? It’s very likely that Stretch DID get her first pair of shoes when she was ten months old, at Stride Rite. Stride Rite for sure. Ten months??? She wasn’t walking yet, but I don’t think I took her to church barefoot like a vagrant.
For her first haircut, which was when she was about four, I think….I was supposed to put in a before and after picture. Ooops! I could put in a newborn picture and one from this week. Technically, that’d be before and after.
The book has a place to fill in the address of her first pediatrician. Seriously! I mean, obviously I could look that up, but why? Will thirty-year-old Stretch ever need to know the address of her first pediatrician? Please tell me she’ll have more important things to fill her time with than doing a nostalgic drive by of her childhood doctor’s office. So, some things I’m skipping on principle!
I want to catch up on these books and then find some quiet corner of the attic for them to gather dust. The moments are happening now, and I don’t want to miss them because I’m caught up in recording them. I can just make up something realistic later and none of us will know the difference twenty years from now.
Just another helpful blog on short-cut parenting :)