First Day of Kindergarten. July 20, 2012.

 

I expected tears. And clinging.

And begging. “Please don’t go!”

I expected feet stomping and balled up fists and squinty-mad eyes to delay the process. After all, it’s worked before.

Today is Buttercup’s first day of kindergarten here in Arizona. And I expected hell and mood swings and hand baskets. We may have two years of preschool under our belts, but that was different. She had supervised potty trips and only 12 kids in her classroom and the school day was only three hours and the school week was only four days.

This? Today? It’s the big time, people. This is elementary school with independent trips to the bathroom and 24 friends to make and a full day of school that starts before 8 a.m. and a school week like the big kids where they go Monday through Friday like the days Mommas and Daddy’s work because that’s what big kids do.

This time it’s different because it’s kindergarten and that’s a major milestone and her having asked me sweetly if I could please sleep next to her last night, maybe because she wanted to gather the courage she needed to draw from today as she slept in my arms, is probably why the unexpected happened instead.

I expected tears this morning when she waved at me as she walked into her classroom with her first day of school outfit and her new big kid back pack and an entire day to learn and explore and experience. But I was surprised. As the door closed behind her, I was beaming, proud of my growing girl, and walked back to my car.

I hadn’t shed a tear.

 
This would be the BEFORE picture

This would be the BEFORE picture

I got high just one time while in college and that was only after I called The Pre-Husband to make sure he wouldn’t hate me in the morning for satisfying my curiosity. He laughed at me and told me I was adorable for asking permission to smoke pot and I was all I’m not asking for permission you chauvinistic asshole. I make my own decisions. I just wanted to make sure you happened to be okay with this one. Totally not the same thing. That’s when The Pre-Husband laughed again because, he said, what I just said was pretty much the very definition of asking for permission and that he thought it was sweet I was so concerned about what he thought of me and my partaking of illegal substances.

You still didn’t answer my question, I said.

Go ahead, he told me. Just don’t drive anywhere.

After he hung up and before I took my first hit, I admit that the thought of calling my mother and running this whole me and this joint thing by her before I fully committed to that evening’s activities. And then maybe my best friend. That’s right about the time I realized that concern over What Other People Think accounts for entirely too much of the time I devote to contemplating life and Other Important Things (like what I was going to wear tomorrow), and I inhaled. Depending on what your definition of is actually is, anyway.

The moral of this story, kids, is that while Drugs Are Bad Bad Bad and I am Not Condoning or Promoting Illegal Behaviors Because That Would Just Be Irresponsible, I am condoning and promoting freeing ourselves from putting too much stock in Other People’s Opinions because that whole thought process just takes too much work.

Take, for instance, a recent instant message from BFF Mel.

Want to get our noses pierced when you come to visit?

HELL YES my instant response. We’ve been going back and forth on the idea of a teeny little stud for about five years now but have never even gone as far as pricing the procedure or looking up where to go to get it done. Excuses have always been easy to come by and with her work schedule and my constant over-thinking about the riot act my aunts would read me for putting another hole in my head, it only made sense to go for it during our trip back to Detroit. She had a day off and I had finally reached the point of not really giving a shit who might get pissy if I decided to have some fun. So the timing was right.

We landed in Detroit last Tuesday and met up with BFF Mel and her husband, Bob on Friday. After BFF Mel scared herself shitless by looking up YouTube videos on nasal piercings, Bob and The Husband took the initiative, started the car, and dropped us of at Eternal Tattoos. We had an appointment with a woman named Sam.

 

Sam is the piercing professional at Eternal Tattoos in EastPointe, Michigan. And when I say professional I mean it because not everyone can answer questions on the phone about piercing penises while immature assholes like me try not to laugh and get all superior because I'm subjecting myself to public scrutiny with a piercing I can't hide in my pants, which obviously makes my nose stud more badass than that extra hole in your nethers.

BFF Mel has to go first or she’s going to back out because she’s an idiot and YouTube is evil. That’s what I said first and then maybe I introduced myself.

Sam nodded. Bff Mel giggled because she does that a lot. And I took pictures while Sam talked BFF Mel out of the clear crystal stud she had come in for and into a light purple that Sam was sure would look fabulous on her. And then it was done and BFF Mel looked fabulous and Sam breathlessly awaited her client’s reaction and BFF Mel scrunched up her nose and looked into the mirror and said I dunno…what do you think? It looks bigger and more noticeable than I had imagined.

 

Seriously...does it look okay?

You look incredible I said. And that purple is perfect I said. And now it’s my turn so move so I can sit down I said.

Sam nodded. BFF Mel giggled because she does that a lot. And then she took pictures while Sam talked me out of the clear crystal stud I had come in for and into a pretty blue that Sam was sure would look fabulous on me. And then it was done and BFF Mel said I looked fabulous and Sam breathlessly awaited my response and I scrunched up my nose and looked into the mirror and said I dunno…what do you think?It looks bigger and more noticeable than I had imagined. But yours looks perfect I told BFF Mel.

Because this nose stud trumps your penis piercing any day of the week, y'all, because I can't hide my nose in my pants if I get shy after the new hardware has been inserted. Also? I did this the day before a Mexican wedding and that, my friends, takes some serious juevos.

I think yours looks perfect, she told me. I’m just not so sure about mine.

So I showed her the photos I had taken and pointed out that what she was looking at now was what other people would see.

That looks good, she said, a smile lighting up her whole face. Here, lo0k at these of you.

So I looked and I saw what other people would see when they saw me and that was enough because I only needed to see myself through Other People’s Eyes for just a moment to realize I look beautiful when I don’t give a shit what other people think.

Yeah, I said smiling. That does look good. And we left with our aftercare sheets, giggling and feeling very badass, indeed.

 

Jun 132012
 

And then she was like, HAPPY BIRTHDAY and I was like, THANK YOU, NANA!

She turned five while she was sleeping. That’s what she told me while she was waking me up, anyway. And while I sleep-walk my way through making her chocolate chip pancake birthday breakfast waiting for the ADHD meds to clear the fuzz from my brain, I silently thank the Universe for her birthday request of a Do Nothing Day. We haven’t had very many of those lately. So she stays in her jammies and I go without a bra and we bake and we spend way too much time on the phone or video-calls with family and friends wanting to wish Princess Buttercup the happiest of five-year birthdays and skipping swim class so we can eat dinner at home with Daddy. And after a Too Late Family Movie Night served up with Ice Cream Too Close to Bed Time Just Because It’s Her Birthday,¬† it’s time for a quick story and turn out the lights and holding hands while I sit on the floor until she gets brave enough to ask me to get in bed with her just until she falls asleep because five-year-olds don’t need their mommies to sleep with them all night.

I smile into the dark because she’s my baby always and not my baby anymore and everything in between. There are dishes to do and blog posts to write and emails to try and catch up on and a new manuscript to neglect and a writing platform to build and a two week trip to Michigan to agonize over for an upcoming wedding and shoes to obsess over online simply because hyper-focusing on something inconsequential like what I’ll have on my feet for no more than five minutes into the reception lets my mind avoid things like two weeks away from my world my bed my routine.

My thoughts are always racing and Then I Cans are the name of the game. While I’m making breakfast I think I’ll unload the dishwasher because Then I can empty the sink before I sit down to eat my own little meal but wait because now that the sink is empty I should wipe off the counter tops because Then I Can get the dehydrator out to make the jerky out of the meat marinading in the fridge and Then I Can sit down to eat…

And then two hours have passed and my big girl has long since finished her breakfast and set her dishes in the sink and sat herself down at the kitchen table to work on a crafty thing she unwrapped at her birthday party and the kitchen is cleaner than it’s been since..well, since last time. I’m starving.

We have a quiet day. I know the drill and on both sides of the family it’s expected that the birthday child will be ready to receive phone calls from all of the major players. I try to plan by making a few phone calls myself early in the day so as to not bottle-neck our evening, which is meant for relaxing with Daddy, but people are busy and three hours time difference makes life harder than it should be and I give up and she gets an afternoon birthday bubble bath before dinner.

I want to pay bills and start the grill for the chicken and put away two baskets of folded laundry and get started on that mess on my desk but time is limited so I move as fast as I can and only manage to put the laundry away before The Husband gets home and the phone starts ringing. My mother, his mother, her godfather, my sister, my other sister, my aunt, my godmother. The calls come in one on top of another on one cell phone and numbers are given for who get to go next on the other as Buttercup ends one conversation and starts another and loses enthusiasm with each rendition of This Is What I Did Today. Eventually, our families go to sleep and it’s time to sit down and watch that movie but now The Husband is looking at me and ordering me to sit down and just relax for the rest of the night even though my brain is now playing the But I Should Have game. All that time on the phone when I could have been quieting the buzzing in my head by crossing things off of the never-ending To Do list.

I want to do things now so I can have less things to do tomorrow and maybe, for once, have a day like I imagine others to have frequently with no crazed sense of urgency and permission to sit down after the kids are in bed and enjoy some trashy TV Just Because…

I want to know what it’s like just to breathe.

Buttercup is sitting on the couch patting the cushion next to her because she’s not letting me off the hook, either. So I sit. And when she pats the spot she just made for me on her little twin bed, I cover up and wait for the softness of her cheek against my own to slow time and space and grant me this one moment to just be.

 

 

My usual nighttime routine is to get Buttercup in bed with a book or ten before turning off the light. No matter how quickly she falls asleep, I always stay for a bit, tracing my finger over her cheek and marveling at the fact that Universe granted me this one wish.

Around 9, I make it back downstairs to the kitchen table, where my Mac is waiting patiently for me, and I get to work. First I procrastinate. There’s the internet to roam and email to check and pins to pin and George Takei Facebook posts to like. I get up for a bit, put together The Husband’s lunch for the next day, and place it all on the second shelf of the fridge in the exact same spot because it’s at eye level and easier for me to make sure I haven’t left anything out. I might let the dogs outside. I might even turn on some music. Either way, by 10 or so, I’m back at the kitchen table and writing something. Maybe it’s a blog post or an essay or another small piece of the novel in progress that won’t allow itself to be written any faster than a few sentences a month.

In any case, I write. And when my head is empty and my thoughts no longer racing, I sleep. And then I wake up to do it all over again.

But there are times when the routine is interrupted by noise. It might be while she is falling asleep at my side. Or while I wait for the dogs to scratch at the back door. This is when I blink to clear my head and realize an hour has passed while I focus on picking at an invisible imperfection until skin breaks. I tell myself to stop. Normal people don’t do this kind of thing, you know. And I’ll move on. Chin to that little bump between my eyebrows. From the eyebrows to the forearm. The forearm to the breast. Too much time passes. There’s no time for words.

Buttercup’s swim instructor asked me today if I had been in a car accident since she saw me last. I told her I was dealing with allergic reactions, which is partially true. I am. It’s what got me scratching to begin with, anyway, and I’ll share the laundry list of reasons why I am now officially The Dinner Guest from Hell later. The Husband has stopped yelling at me about this little OCD issue of mine and instead instructed me to make an appointment with my nurse practitioner about my ADHD meds not working for me anymore. I nodded, only slightly surprised to see how quickly we have both adapted to the reality that ADHD is more than just being forgetful, which came as a surprise when I noticed the need to scratch at my surface had instantly disappeared when I first was diagnosed and began a regular medication schedule. So I went in to see my nurse practitioner on Monday and started the new meds on Tuesday. It’s Wednesday now and I’m noticing the insomnia seems to be fading as my eyes get heavier just a bit earlier than the 4 am I have become accustomed to over the past few weeks. That’s a good sign.

I resume my usual nighttime routine. Buttercup falls asleep. I procrastinate. I empty my mind of the words.

 

It’s not often that life kicks my ass so hard I can’t make five minutes to at least repost old material with a brand new headline, but it does happen.

In the last few weeks alone, I’ve dealt with a lot. Some big, like being diagnosed with adult ADHD (and suddenly high school makes sense) and some not-so-big but totally drama worthy for an ADHD/OCD woman barely holding on to the keeping it all together. Not that I’m naming names but this woman mayu or may not have three dogs, one husband who just announced he is switching to swing shift right about the time a certain girl child starts kindergarten, effectively erasing all chances¬† to pee in peace for at least three months. She also learned how hard it is to apply red lipstick from an adult-sized tube onto the tiny red lips that would smile big enough on stage for me to see from where I sat. So she asked another mom to do it, which is probably why my child looked like a demure ballerina princess in the enchanted rose garden and not a toddler in a tiara.

Every missed opportunity to save a moment with my words for posterity is still stored in my head. But between the two weeks of digestive hell I’ve been dealing with and today’s craziness, I think it would be extremely responsible of me to be proactive for once in my adult life and sign up for a sponsor and the nearest AA group before getting all I Love You Guys drunk and sloppy.

Buttercup and I left the house at 10 a.m. this morning for the hike across town to see the first of three doctors, all scheduled for the same day because they all happen to be five minutes from each other whereas I live 45 minutes on the other side of the world. My super-powered nurse practitioner figures my fingers look like I ran them over with a lawn mower because I was in desperate need of an ADHD medication change, the ENT guy agrees with my crazy bloodshot eyes being caused by the mesquite currently burning in New Mexico that I should probably not only Stay Indoors At All Times but that if I leave my house it should only be to get the hell away from the Southern border, because of the Being Severely Allergic thing, and my naturopath walked me through my food allergy panel test results (hint: air and water are on the safe list. Except for the air currently filled with the pollen from the burning mesquite carrying over from New Mexico. That air is totally the opposite of being on the safe list. Also? The last time I looked like this, I was sitting in a college dorm room wondering why feet suddenly turned into ice and why she had a towel tucked under the door and that was accidentally way more fun.

I’m exhausted and want a new hobby that doesn’t involve insurance co-pays and waiting rooms. And a pony. I’d totally love one of those. But I’d settle for trashy daytime TV and time to pretend I’m a famous blogger. My head is spinning with thoughts like what I’m wearing to my cousin’s wedding in a few weeks, dealing with a cross-country flight and family members and Routines that Are Not My Own. I’m crazy with worry over finding the perfect shoes for BFF Heather’s wedding next March, how the hell I’m going to get any work done with The Husband home all morning and Buttercup all afternoon, and how behind I’ll be tomorrow with my to-do list if I don’t have time to finish it all tonight.

And that’s when I remind myself that blogging is on my list of things to do because it matters and keeps me sane(ish) and sane(ish) is a good place to be. So I force myself to sit back down, turn the Mac back on, and log back in.

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