Conferences, the Double Edged Sword

I have a love/hate relationship with conferences. On the one hand, a good way to network. On the other hand, I have to network?!!! fuck that.  

This one was especially fraught. Shit hitting the fan on a couple of my projects. Blowback from people who should know better. Whose. job am I supposed to do? Everyone's? 

I'm hiding for a little bit before the closing banquet. 

 

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The Fading Pain

X received a birthday card from S's aunt. This birthday card came in the same envelope with another birthday card.

S was confused for a minute, and turned to me kind of laughing. At first, I think he thought his aunt got Baby Z's birth date wrong.  Staring at the envelope with the name on it, it took a few seconds to sink in.

"Happy Birthday Axton."

Now, the realization that said aunt is totally clueless about our family could have hit me like a ton of bricks, but it didn't. Brick, by brick by brick, little by little I broke down.

1st reaction: You've gotta be kidding me.

2nd reaction: Is she that stupid?

3rd reaction: I need to sit down on the bed for a minute and then I can join the rest of the family for dinner.

4th reaction: Sobbing at the dinner table.

I was surprised at how hard it hit me, considering that I really don't think about Axton much. Every now and then, I come across pictures that I can't seem to delete from my computer and I wonder what he's like. At this point, 3 years removed from the failed placement, the acute pain has faded, yet, I can still be brought back to the phone call I received right after snuggling down in the couch for some kangaroo care and guilty pleasure TV on my first day of maternity leave.

It's like that for infertility too. When in the grips of infuriating cycles resulting in BFNs; invasive testing; invasive homestudies; long adoption waits; failed placement; failed match; it seems like nothing will ever feel the same again. It feels like the pain will haunt forever. Except that it doesn't. I wonder if everyone going through this experiences the same trajectory. It's just not at the forefront of my mind, and pregnant women elicit more of a 'gee they're lucky' response instead of the 'that fucking bitch has no idea how lucky she is response' I used to have. 

The biggest issue I have right now is wondering if I might magically get pregnant when I don't want to (S is a big fat chicken who won't make his appointment). I obsessively track my cycles hoping for a period to show up, and I don't think about infertility much....is what I was going to say until I realized that hoping for a period every month is an indication that I still have, and will always have emotional issues related to infertility until I hit menopause full bore. Obviously, I need to push S again on his OUTPATIENTNOBIGDEAL procedure because I'm afraid to get busy around ovulation. I haven't wanted to get pregnant after adoption, and even explored the idea, going so far as another R.E. consultation during our wait for Baby Z. Suffice to say, I have been deep into my own psyche trying to figure out if I really needed to be pregnant, but as I said when I first decided on adoption as a option, I wanted to be a parent more than I wanted to push a kid out. Funny how that now translates to the idea of a positive pregnancy test being the worst news ever. I'm 42, and have been off of birth control for almost 10 years at this point, never saw a positive pregnancy test and perhaps had one chemical pregnancy. Chances are slim to none that I'll ever get pregnant, but I still have a weird what if knocking around my head.

Since infertility I've also pushed my body harder than ever by participating in 100-mile bike rides, and most recently joining a gym that pushes me to the edge every single workout. It's like I do these things to remind myself that body still works despite not ever working in the most basic of ways.

The pain fades, but it never goes away.

 

 

 

 

The End of an Era

 

I officially resigned from Jazz.ercise.  I haven't had so much as an inkling to even take a class, it's like my brain has finally moved on. I tried quitting before, but that lasted less than year and I re-instated my franchise thinking I was refreshed and ready to teach forevermore....

Fast forward another 5 years, and I changed jobs, putting myself in an exhausting position at work that requires a lot of energy and more travel. When I tendered my resignation at the center last Fall, I don't think I thought I'd actually quit for real, but here it is. I did my last set of taxes for my business (in which I made a whopping $2k a year, but still have to pay taxes!) and I sold my microphone to a friend of mine when hers died. Now I need to trash all my notes and figure out what to do with all my routine DVDs. Maybe give them away to new instructors, maybe toss them in the trash. I'll have a half empty desk once I'm done with the purge. 

I don't feel much of anything, maybe a little sad, but at the same time, I think I worked through a lot of stuff these past few years of teaching. I always struggled feeling like I was a good instructor, and had a really hard time with the students who were constant critics, often forgetting to focus on the students who loved my classes. Over the last few years, I finally got to a point where I didn't care as much and I knew I was a good instructor. I was having fun teaching classes and not berating myself over missed cues or forgetting routines (yeah, it happens). I also started having chronic injury issues that were getting to be difficult to fix. The repetitive nature of what I was doing, and not being in a position to modify while leading the class seemed to be leading to chronic tightness that my chiro couldn't work through as easily. He started telling me a year ago to quit and find something else based on how many times I would have to see him with an acute pain, and then I got really sick a couple of times, including Influenza. Over and over, I heard, "you're doing too much, you need to get rid of something." It took a while to listen, but I finally did. 

Jazz.ercise is an experience that I'm grateful for. I'm glad I pushed myself to not only become an instructor, which was way outside my comfort zone, but that I stuck it through for 13 years. It helped me maintain my fitness, but it also helped me in my job. When I gave a technical talk last year at a conference, it was surprisingly void of nerves. I've never eschewed public speaking, but I've always done it under the cloud of stage fright complete with sweaty palms and shaking voice. Finally, that seems to have ebbed and I've gained a lot more confidence being in front of big groups. 

These days, I go to a gym where I'm swinging sledgehammers, jumping on boxes, lifting weights, and generally getting my ass kicked. I completed Project Management training and a Leadership class at work, and I'm starting to work on big changes in the way I do things to make a $200+ million project successful. Things are happening, and they're happening fast. It's the end of an era, and the beginning of a new one. One in which I kick fitness and my career path into high gear with a new gym and a clear desire to reach the higher echelons of management in my organization.

Stay tuned....

Why am I the only brown person in this family?

I was reading the book Ron's Big Mission, a book that I, as a white woman, can't get through without the white tears spilling all over the damn place. The story is about a little boy who is black growing up in South Carolina in 1959 and the day he took a stand at his local library demanding that he be able to check out books.

The positive side of reading these kinds of age appropriate books to my kids is that it provides an opening to a dialogue. X has flirted with discussion about skin color, but hadn't expressed dismay over his skin color compared to the rest of his family and extended family. He did this particular night, and we had what I hope was a good talk about how it's different even though it shouldn't be, and how it will be hard for him. I pointed out his other friends who are the only POC in their families, and he pointed out that a black kid at his school doesn't have white parents.  I also pointed out that his therapist is an adoptee, like him, and she was adopted from India.  She will understand why he feels uncomfortable sometimes and that he can talk to her about it as much as he wants. He can tell us all his big feelings too, and we'll do the best we can to help him.

The moment that I've been dreading as a parent has come, and whether I should have or not, I admitted that maybe Mommy and Daddy made a mistake when we adopted Baby Z. That maybe we should have waited longer for a baby who had brown skin like X so that he wouldn't feel so alone in our family. I don't know how that will ultimately play out, if X will resent Baby Z, or if admitting that was the right thing to do. I rationalized the placement by thinking, well, we've been waiting for almost 2 years and we've now been matched with 3 white boys despite our openness to race. I guess we can navigate this, because lots of other families do whether one kid is lighter skinned than the other, or whether there are multiple children of different races in the family. On the other hand, I know families that draw that line and say, my kids need other kids who look like them in the family. I don't know why I didn't draw the line, but I admit it was selfish to just want to be done with the process instead of being a forward thinker to years down the road. 

If I begin to think about the fact that we were open to adopting a baby of a different race to us in the first place, I begin to wonder if that was a good decision. When we were going through the process the first time, it was made abundantly clear to us that if we wanted to adopt a white baby, we'd be waiting a very long time. Considering it took 2 years of waiting to be matched with X, it's hard to think about waiting even longer. We were naive when it came to race relations today and we've both been woke to how far there is to go, especially in today's political climate. I'd say that despite the adoption agency we worked with being pretty good in terms of preparation for the realities of adoption trauma even in infants, they miss the mark on adopting children of a different race. I don't know that it would have changed anything for us given the length of both of our adoption waits, and in X's case, he likely would have been adopted by a white family because that's the harsh reality of adoption. White people typically have the means to pay for expensive adoptions. Adoption is inherently racist, taking brown kids from brown families and putting them into white families because we theoretically are better. I call bullshit. We aren't better, we have the upper hand when it comes to everything. 

 

You Know When

You're feeling so shitty about yourself and your inability to deal with your kids/career/family that you fly off the proverbial handle, tell your husband to fuck off ad make him so upset that he screams expletives all the way down the stairs?

That was my Friday night. 

 

probably hormonal bullshit.  

 

I don't know how to control it.  

Driving Home from the Airport...

I was traveling and spent my flight home watching "Pretty In Pink" for what I swear is the first time. (for realz!) Driving home from the airport, I hear an iconic song from my youth on the radio.  (Lovesong)

On a station I don't listen to because it plays music I associate with my parents. Now it plays music associated with people my age. 

You guys. I am f*cking old. It never ceases to amaze me when I have that flash of holyshitareyoukiddingme? 

 

 

Sick

“You’re doing too much, that’s why you’re sick” 

I heard those words last spring when I got influenza. My chiropractor was concerned that I was seeing him too much for injuries and that my body was too stressed. Thus began the slow mental journey to leaving Jazz.ercise behind in order to spend more time with my family on weekends. My job was ramping up and becoming a bigger stressor than I realized, and with increased travel, I finally tendered my resignation at the center last fall.

I joined a new gym, and we changed around our routine to accommodate early morning workouts for me. Everything was copacetic. I pick up the kids a little earlier and S gets to work out in the evenings. Everybody wins, right?

Now I’m sick. 3 viruses in a month. The first hit right before our Annual Meetings with the Region. I couldn’t travel, but dragged my sick, flu-ish body into the office to attend via videoconference. The meeting stressed me out beyond belief. Now that I’m a full year into this new position, I’m finding all the problems between my office and the regional office. They are huge.

The second virus was a rebound from the first one (lots of peeps around here have had similar experiences). I was pretty darn proud of myself for taking lots of oregano oil and zinc and Vitamin D so that it wasn’t too bad. That one hit during a project management training class that I also found to be stressful. Learning about project management only highlights all the problems I have between me and my counterpart in the region.

And now the third, coming off a week in which I had to get my boss to talk to the head of the office in the region in order to make sure that we could award a construction contract this fiscal year. Why did I have to get her involved?  Well, because after stressing over and over in meetings that we need to award in this fiscal year, the contracting person sent a schedule showing that she wouldn’t award until the next fiscal year. Team player everybody!

The school communications from X's school have also been annoying. They ask us to volunteer 15 hours a year per family, so I signed up to help plan a big celebration thinking I could knock out as many hours as possible all at once. Well, I'm new to the PTA system and the divisiveness between working parents and stay at home parents. I was never tapped to help plan, yet they kept sending out all these e-mails about needing volunteers. In my most rigid and stressed state, I got bitchy about it, complaining to my friends and S and being really annoyed by the whole thing. What's the point of signing up at the beginning of the year if the damn PTA is just going to take the reigns then ask for parking lot volunteers 2 weeks before the event?  I'm now volunteering to take tickets for 2 hours. What the hell ever. I should be fine with it, but that's part of my ISTJ'ness that always gets me. My brain: "They had a sign up at the beginning of the year, what's with not contact the people who signed up in the first place? Who the hell is running this, and why are we getting information from 3 different places to put together the whole picture!" Plus, the after school program sent out an e-mail last Friday saying they were going to have a Valentine's party but didn't say how many kids were in the program. When I asked on Monday, I find out it's 40. I had to get 40 more valentines for X to give out because I don't want him to left out due to poor communication. It brought the total to 71 total between his kindergarten class, his teachers and the after school program. *headdesk*

These can’t be coincidences, or maybe they are?  I exercise regularly, am good about getting sleep. I’ve been unplugging more and more at night due mostly to the state of this country and the wholly unfit person in the highest office. My diet is pretty damn good, and I've reduced drinking to weekends only. So, what’s up with getting sick like this one right after another? It’s like my body isn’t really recovering so I can’t fight off whatever virus is brought into my house by my cute little germ factories.

Clearly, I need more therapy to help me separate my job from my self-worth. But even that stresses me out. I spend so much time at appointments for therapy, for chiropractic, for Baby Z’s latest foray into ear infection combined with Impetigo that I constantly feel like I’m spinning. S is only 6 months into his new job and his leave balances are so small that all kid related things fall to me (especially because I travel and that’s a hard ship on him and his hours) 

I don’t know what the answer is. But today I'll go home sick an hour after getting to work.

If You Have a Child Of Color Who is Adopted

Things that should be high on your to-do list right now: 

1) Get them a passport and make copies for you and your child to carry at all times.  

2) If they are an international adoptee, make sure you have their citizenship papers. Read here for more information: 

I can't believe I'm writing this.  

Dropping the Ball

X is supposed to do some reading every night. Now that we're into the second semester of kindergarten, this also includes reading a book (Spanish) he brings home from school. He's supposed to practice it at home, and on Fridays read it to his class.

ha.

The first week he had to read the book and bring it back to school we were on top of it. The second week, Baby A got an ear infection the same day I was to travel for work. Because, of course. On the Friday of that week, I asked X if he had read his book to the class. Nope. Why? S didn't remember to have him practice in between dealing with a sick and cranky 2 year old, and no one remembered to bring it back to school. That's pretty much how it goes these days. It's a constant dropping of the ball. We read to both kids at night, but we aren't necessarily teaching X how to do homework. It's damn near impossible for me to have him sit down and do anything when we get home. I leave work earlier now, but it's still a scramble to get dinner cooked and us fed before bedtime. Couple that with X being soooo tired every day lately and these things fall by the wayside. Now that travel has started, it's going to get worse.

*sigh* Sometimes I feel like the worst parent ever.