Saturday, October 17, 2009

Late and Lucky

After a tragedy it is easy to focus laser beams of envy upon that parallel universe where the chromosomes divided neatly, the other car stopped for the red light, that blood vessel didn't burst. Everything over there is so normal and perfect and utterly different. For me the craziest thing about parallel universes is that the people in them there have NO IDEA what fresh hell they've missed. They live this miracle every moment after our catastrophes but for them, it's just hohum blah blah blah.

Today I can't help but thinking that in another universe, Parallel Big A didn't dawdle getting dressed, and we made it to the playground exactly when I'd intended -- which is really only 15 minutes earlier than we actually did. That would put Parallel Wabi & family directly under the 100-year-old pine tree when it did this:

To put it more precisely, that would put Parallel Big A & Little A on the swing set. The girls absolutely love those swings.

Or at least they did.

And so the weekend goes on as scheduled for lucky, late us. Only I'm more than happy to rate it as a miracle, if others are so inclined.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

For Better and for Worse

When DH came home early from work Friday the kids were excited. But I knew what it probably meant and was leery. Sure enough, the company's latest project got canceled. In the tech industry, progression from canceled funding to job losses can happen within hours or days. That was the case this time -- sixty people given pink slips when the week before everything seemed like business as usual. The entire studio shuttered.

The friends, family and neighbors who know DH lost his job have all responded with sympathy and kindness. It's really lovely on one level. And on another ... misplaced.

"How are you doing?" they ask.

"Oh, we're pretty ok," I answer.

"No really, must be so worried! Such a terrible time to look for work," they persist.

I'm not deluded. This is not a good time to look for work. We are not doing cartwheels over the prospect of holidays on unemployment, three out of four family birthdays in the next two months on unemployment, or even just life in general on unemployment. We have two children, two goldfish, preexisting health conditions, and a house that is worth less today than what we paid for it six years ago. Oh, and we'd promised the kids we would all go to West Virginia to see the recently relocated cousins this Christmas ... I'm really not sure if that can happen now. Yep. Life without money SUCKS.

But still, I also feel a decided lack of worry.

Part of it is that I have faith in DH. He's good at what he does, and if there are jobs to be found, he'll discover them.

More of it has to do with this little moment between DH and I a year or two ago. It was at the end of a conversation about DH's angst over us not being able to save any money since we had kids and bought our house. DH really likes to sock it away for a rainy day. It makes him feel warm, fuzzy, and cocooned. My dwindling income, the collapse of our house equity, the deflation of our 401ks -- they all bug me. But they have haunted, taunted, demoralized DH in many ways I see, but cannot fully understand.

So that evening DH griped about his disappointments. Then he shrugged and said, "Of course I would have given everything we have -- all of it -- if it could have saved the baby." After that he turned off the TV, brought his empty glass to the kitchen, and went to bed.

That little shrug of his shoulders, my half nod back -- it was truer than our wedding vows 13 years ago. We have learned so many things that we didn't ever want to know since we got married. But what we learned also allows me to pick how I'm going to deal with issues that are not life and death.

Right now I choose to be fearless.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Playdate Reject! (That would be me, not the kids ...)

Hello, my name is Wabi, and I am a playdate reject.

I HATE playdates. I've always been shy and reserved -- not completely antisocial, but sort of sub social. Wall flowerish. Mind you, I volunteer for projects at my kids' schools and in the community. I am quick with a wave and a smile if I see someone everyday. And if you lean up against the wall with me, you might just enjoy some of my jokes and snark. Our kids might also like meeting up on the playground to knock heads on the jungle gym while we chat it up on the bench nearby. Maybe.

But for a sub social like me, setting up those playdates and breaking the ice with parents I don't know is awful. Watching me is pornography for anyone who gets off on social awkwardness. I wonder what the other mom thinks about my kid/mothering style/appearance/house/professional status/etc. There is a voice in my head that narrates in much the same tone of voice my father used when teaching me to drive:

That's a cool bracelet she has ... Say something nice about her bracelet. Say it now... SAY IT SAY IT SAY IT! Ok, so why did you tell her the bracelet reminded you of something you made back eighth grade art class? Now she probably thinks you're comparing her jewelry to pipe cleaners and bottle caps -- not exactly a compliment. Go on, what are you waiting for? Say something else to change the subject. Say anything, it doesn't matter wha -- OH JESUS, DID YOU REALLY JUST TELL THAT JOKE?
Yeah, add kids and juice boxes, and that sums up my entire experience with most first playdates.

In the preschool years, it seemed a little bit easier. I would get to know other moms slowly in the parking lots next to nursery school or daycare. After awhile going to the playground together would just naturally occur. The kids and I didn't click with everyone we met up with, yet somehow we ended up with a handful of friendly families we socialized with regularly.

But now that Big A is in kindergarten, it's back to square one on the social front. It's like I'm having junior high lunchroom flashbacks. (When all my friends got assigned to a different lunch period than me and I didn't know who to sit with ...) Ack. I still cringe at the thought.

Who knew that starting kindergarten could be so challenging ... not for the kid, but for the 38-year-old woman hanging onto her student's hand?