Monthly Archives: July 2011

On Relationships, Past and Present

As I prepare myself to travel to be with my parents, I remember something I wanted to discuss with y’all. It’s something many others have blogged about, most notably Stumbling Gracefully. But I was able to observe at close range a good case study.

We all know that once you have children, couples report a decrease in happiness, while couples who don’t have kids are more happy. I would be curious to see a study done asking those who had gone through infertility on both sides how happy they are. But, I think in general it’s probably true that the relationship between partners suffers when children enter the picture.

When Darcy and I lived in London (in a grimy flat) we became friends with another couple. (The woman lived in the grimy flat below our own.) This couple, I’ll call them the “Fabs” because they are, now live in an incredible magazine-worthy penthouse filled with spiral staircases and other deathtraps for parents. You see, the Fabs have decided to be childfree by choice. They have never TTC, they have no desire to even try. They want to travel, live together, and be fabulous.

I stayed in their penthouse for two days and the main thing I noticed was how attentive and sensitive they were to each other’s needs. They were very careful to take each other’s gym and travel schedules and work commitments into account. They worried about each other: “Mr. Fab has an early morning, so he should go to bed early.” Or: “Let’s make sure to park nearby because I’m not sure Mrs. Fab has her umbrella with her.”

Uh, I can’t remember the last time I asked Darcy if he even OWNS an umbrella. OUR conversations are rushed, kinda harsh in tone, as if the load of responsibilities on both sides is too great to add being solicitous into the mix. Often I feel like we are two workers on a factory assembly line on different shifts, briefing each other on the crucial tasks that need to be completed before one of us steps out for a break. To be honest, I was quite envious of the Fabs’ relationship. Because Darcy and I used to have that kind of relationship. Before infertility, anyway.

Did you have a more connected, solicitous relationship with your partner before infertility and/or parenting? Or have you been able to maintain that? If so, HOW?!? I really want to know.

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Filed under Parenting After IF, twins, Uncategorized

Upon Jet Lag, Being Among the World and Finally, Bad News

My unexpected trip to Europe was like dropping an Amish person among the “English.” I didn’t realize how isolated and sheltered from the world I have been. I once directed campaigns and events for world players in business and politics. I had actually totally forgotten that part of myself. My friends in London and Europe are tasked with leading parts in managing the debt crisis. Their decisions matter tremendously. It was eerie to be among my peers who are in a sense making history.

To be on my own, making my own business decisions, was, I’m not going to lie, exhilarating. Peers respected me. London feels to me, much more than when I lived there like a major world hub. And I loved being there. Me: the suburban hausfrau. It’s the first time I didn’t feel that way.

I cam back exhausted from jet lag, but in another way refreshed. Until my parents called. My dad has been diagnosed with more cancer and has a big operation on Monday. It’s devastating. The procedure has a good rate of success, but it’s scary. My poor dad, who leads the healthiest lifestyle of anyone I know, has had so many
medical complications in his life. He’s such a wonderful father and grandfather.

So I’m headed out on Friday to be with him (he lives in the South) and it will be the second time the kids will be without me in less than a week.

Oh, life. Would that I could be more like bamboo and blow with these events as they happen as opposed to being the mighty oak: stiff, resistant to changes. Brittle. Broken.

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Filed under Family

Insert Lame Tuesday/Belgium Joke Here

Once, many years ago, I traveled alone abroad for work. That was back in the days when I had competence and self-confidence. And my stress levels were much, much lower. I didn’t have kids and I saw travel as an adventure.

I have to go to Belgium for a family obligation for a week. I know, I know. No one wants to read about someone HAVING to fly to Europe to eat chocolate and waffles. The family obligation is no fun and will be very stressful. But, I need to suck. It. Up.

I hate flying. I used to love it, but then there was the plane ride where the pilot kept getting on the intercom to tell us that they had to dump a bunch of luggage because we might NOT clear the mountains in our way. Flying scares me and I had a nightmare about my upcoming plane trip to London. Let me just say that if I see Kurt Russell boarding my plane, I will run a mile.

Mostly the thing that bothers me is I have only had three days to make this happen. I’m a planner, I like planning for every eventuality. I absolutely HATE the idea of being away from my kids for seven days. And not just in another town a few miles away. I’ll be 3,000 miles away. It makes me feel helpless. If I had had advance warning, I would have adapted to this in my mind, and best of all, gotten the twins ready mentally for the fact that Mommy is going away. They are super-attached to me and I have never left them for more than three days, and that was when they were much younger. I am worried that they are going to be traumatized by my leaving so suddenly.

I’m sure this trip will help me develop self-confidence, independence and moxie. I have no moxie any more. But right now I want to hide under a rock and ignore the whole thing.

Do you find that your sense of adventure is not the same since you have become older and more responsible? Or do you thirst for greater adventure in a life that may seem full of structure and routine?

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Filed under Discovering joy, Fear

On Being A Mediocre Parent

There is a promo for “The Next Food Star”, a show I have never seen, which regularly interrupts my enjoyment of “House Hunters”. The promo features many quick shots of people frying, wokking, wearing white hats and crying. Then there is a woman who briefly interrupts the action to say: “I am in NO way mediocre!” She seems very emphatic and angry.

I’m going to shuffle out an old chestnut and tell you how Webster defines mediocrity: “Ordinary. Of medium-grade quality. Neither bad nor good.”

I recently read an essay about Dan Savage (I would link to it but the NY Times pay wall is now up) and in it, women are taken to task for idealizing their male partners. Savage doesn’t want women to think of their husbands in a romanticized way: he specifically states that he doesn’t like women bloggers who code-name their husbands after heroes in any Jane Austen book. Right, so I call my husband Darcy. Guilty. However, I MOSTLY think him similar to THE Mr. Darcy because he in no way censors his opinions. You get the truth from him, even if it’s ugly.

So last weekend we were having a rather heated discussion with friends about SAHMs, parenthood and other troublesome topics. The tone was fairly defensive: many parties were deflecting sore spots by attacking others’ choices. Finally Darcy declared:

“Jjiraffe and I are mediocre parents. I have accepted that and moved on.”

I was rather flabbergasted by this statement. ‘Tis true, I am struggling with aged three, daily and nightly. I often think I am failing. But to be declared mediocre? That I was NOT expecting.

I have asked him to explain himself in detail over the last week. He thinks exemplary parents wouldn’t yell ever, would play more games, read to the twins more, be more engaged, be more patient, do more one-on-one activities with both and most damning of all: they would have potty trained their children already.

It is my deepest, most embarrassing secret that I haven’t been able to accomplish this. The twins just don’t CARE. It’s not that they can’t do it: they can. They just don’t want to. And nothing I’ve tried (rewards, M&Ms, the entire Toy Story character kits, special underwear, peer pressure, “naked weekends”, potty dolls, special potties, big special potties) works. Also, I don’t bathe them everyday. Three times a week if I’m really on a roll.

As an infertile, I vowed to never be a bad mother. I would NEVER yell at MY kids in a Target, I would never let them watch TV (ha!), I would never let them eat anything non-organic (double ha!). I have been so worried about not being a bad mother that I never realized that I was in danger of being something else: a mediocre one.

I get why the woman on the “Food Stars” promo was bristling because someone called her mediocre. It’s a loaded word: one that brings images of George Costanza, Michael Bay, Nicolas Sparks and The Olive Garden to the brain.

My mother was an extraordinary mother. I never remember her ever losing her patience with me. She made tasty, well-balanced meals, she took me to the park and library every day, she taught me manners. When I was sick she would drop everything to make my chicken noodle soup, keep me comfortable. She expected a lot, but never made that seem daunting.

I fail to live up to this standard. Every. Day. The twins’ demands, the yelling, the fighting: it frazzles me easily. The pickiness around food, the rejection of all types of dietary matter except five things: it drives me nuts. I shrink into myself, I get on my iPad, I tune out the noise. This doesn’t make me a bad mother, but it doesn’t make me a good one, either.

Justine said something that reverberated with me a week ago: she said there are mothers she looks up to, whom she aspires to be like. I aspire to be like HER: she makes yummy-looking, healthy food for her son, involves him in the process and is generally very thoughtful about being a SAHM. Then there’s Mel, who goes on geo-caching expeditions with her kids and got a really famous businessman to encourage her son’s love of computing. Then there’s Lori, who is extremely open and accepting and delighted about being a mother. And Esperanza, whose joy in her daughter shines on everything she does and thinks. I could go on and on…and there are so many wonderful mothers, whether they have had children who have passed on, or their children are yet to be. There are so many extraordinary mothers in the ALI community.

I need to work on being one, too. I owe that to the ALI community.

Who are mothers you look up to? If you are going through infertility, do you think that when you become a mother you will hold yourself to a higher standard?

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Filed under Discovering joy, Family, Parenting After IF, twins

More Harry Potter Discussion And Top 50 Mom Bloggers on Babble

I do believe this is the first time I have engaged in a popularity contest. It will probably be the last. But this is a big one, and I’m hoping you all can help 🙂

Babble is having a voting contest for the Top 50 Mom Bloggers, and I am (barely) in the running. So, I am asking for your vote. Mostly because I think it would be awesome to have an infertility voice in the mix. To that end, I’d like to ask that you also vote for the other ALI voices also in the running. Some of them have a real shot.

Here’s the instructions on how to vote:

Go here

Click on the “alphabetical” tag

Scroll to the bottom

Click on the 9 button on the list of pages, then click on the 17, then the 19.

My blog is called “Too Many Fish To Fry”, so it’s towards the end of the list. Other ALI blogs in the running are: Creating Motherhood, Four of a Kind, Here We Go Again, Once a Mother, Stirrup Queens, The Kir Corner, Write Mind Open Heart. Please let me know in the comments if there are any other ALI blogs also in the running.

OK, onto to the Harry Potter Discussion!

In my last post, I was discussing what I loved and didn’t love about Harry Potter. One thing I really didn’t love was that Fred perishes. Fred is one of favorite characters. I mean, how can you not love a character who exits Hogwarts triumphantly by blowing up the school with firecrackers that spell the word “Poo” repeatedly? Mommy Odyssey rightly points out that this wasn’t in the movie and that stinks.

Anyway, I saw a tweet from Amy the Bookish hinting that Fred maybe did not meet his end at the battle for Hogwarts. I was intrigued. Herewith follows her five part theory about Fred. It’s too fun not to share.

Hee!

This one has real promise. I’m going to have to look up that story.

Inneresting.

Word. And I say this as a mother of twins. I can’t bear to think of twins separated.

I like this. For more, read Amy’s brilliant post. I really like the way she explains how we become emotionally invested in characters and tie them to events in our own lives.

Do you read Harry Potter Fan Fiction? What would you like to change in the books, plot wise? Would you rescue any characters from death?

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Filed under Discovering joy, Uncategorized