Two weeks left of maternity leave

Today my parents came over to help us move our elliptical trainer a few feet from one wall to another. Tomorrow I’m building Monito’s crib. In three days my son will be three months old. In two weeks I’m going back to work.

It’s all happening so fast. Way too fast.

I’m not ready.

I’m not ready to leave him every day. I’m not ready to negotiate the very early mornings and all I have to do and all the ways both my children need me. I’m not ready to have to think about what I’m going to teach every day. I’m not ready to be prepared–mentally, physically and emotionally–to stand in front of middle schoolers and keep them engaged. I’m not ready to wear so many hats over the course of the day. I’m not ready to keep all those different balls in the air.

I’m just not ready.

This maternity leave has been so nice. It got off to a rocky start and the transition with Osita has been challenging, but the six hours I have with my son each day have been amazing. I so enjoy just staring into his eyes. He smiles all the time now, and laughs. He grabs at things. He is so happy, almost all of the time. He sleeps like a champ, day and night. I am so incredibly grateful for my son. I’m so incredibly thankful for this time. I’m not ready for it to end.

We’re so lucky that my in-laws will be watching Monito while I’m at work. I’m so lucky to be part-time so I can still see him for the better part of each day. I was so fortunate to have over three months at home with him in the first place. I don’t feel like I have any right to complain about how hard it will be to go back. We really have the ideal situation.

And yet here I am, writing this post.

Because honestly?! I DO NOT FEEL READY.

And I suppose I never will. My sweet baby boy is already sleeping though the night–10pm to 7am–every night. I can get plenty of sleep. I should be able to manage going back to work. And yet… the idea of it fills me with fear.

I really like being home. I really like having some time to work on small projects, to get the laundry done, to empty the dishwasher while I listen to a book on tape.

I really enjoy giving back to people. I feel like, since having my son, a part of myself that wants to give back as been reborn. That giving part of myself was such a huge piece of who I was before I started TTC. I didn’t realize at the time, but I totally shut that part down when we were trying to get pregnant, then dealing with our ectopic loss, then trying to get pregnant again, then having our first baby, then dealing with secondary infertility. And now that our family building journey is behind us, that part of myself has reawakened. Suddenly I am compelled to do things for others. I am clearly aware of how I would want to be treated and I am trying my darndest to treat people accordingly. Even here, I’m trying so hard to be a better commenter. I’m trying to link to at least one post on Mel’s Round Up every week. I’m trying to give back to this community, because for so long, this community has given so much to me.

I’m trying to give back to my family and my friends, who have been so, so good to me.

And the only reason I have the time or energy for all that is because I am not at work. As soon as I go back, I’ll be thrown into survival mode, and all these things I’m doing that make me feel good are going to be pushed to the back burner.

The next 4.5 months are going to be totally crazy. It’s going to be a challenge just to keep my head above water. I have no desire to be at school, which is going to make my time there even harder. I want to do more than the bare minimum to get by. I want to write posts and comment on them. I want to make things for my friends and family and gift those things, just because. I want to have the time to appreciate what I have in life, and let people see that appreciation.

Blerg. I’ll quit complaining. Like I said, I have no reason to. We are so, so lucky. We have the ideal care situation. I need to suck it up and face the music.

But it’s going to be hard. So, so, so, SO hard.

A Poignant Reminder

Today I tried really hard to be a part of the 8th grade promotion festivities, both student and staff oriented. My part time schedule has made me so isolated this year, I’ve literally missed every single staff event, even the free PTA-provided lunches. So today I set things up so I could go to graduation, and then dinner with the staff and then the dance. It was supposed to be a really good time.

Isa and I got to promotion late because she slept for a while. That was fine, we missed them reading the names but we heard all the speeches. Then all the staff high-tailed it out of there super fast to beat traffic and make it to dinner. I had to drop Isa off with my mom and move the (still vomit covered) car seat into her car, where I needed to set it up and get my less-than-impressed daughter bucked in. By the time I got back to my car traffic was bad and it took me forever to get to dinner. I had a lone seat at the end of the table where almost no one talked to me.

One the way back to the dance I offered my front seat to one of the five women who had all piled into another woman’s car to get there. Not one of them wanted to come with me. It was the most awkward moment, having offered a space in my car and having them all tell me, “no it’s fine.” So they all walked away together and I sulked to my car alone. It was then I realized I don’t have any friends at my work anymore. Not one. It was a chilling realization.

I used to have friends at work. Some of them were good friends. A few moved away, a few drifted away. I used to actually be friends with that woman who cried and called me a bitch last week, but she was obviously annoyed with my when I was pregnant and we’ve never really been friends since. So now I have no friends. There are a lot of reasons for this, most noteably my part-time schedule and the fact that I live in the city. Those two things, coupled with my need to get home to be with my daughter have made me somewhat of a social pariah at work. I can’t stay for social events and friendships are formed without me there. I can’t blame anyone for it, it’s just what happens.

Tonight was a really sad reminder of how difficult it is to have my life divided between two far away places. Living in the city and working 30-45 minutes away is tough. It’s tough to have half you life, and the people in it, in one place and the other half in another. Having my parents live near where I work helps, but also makes the divide that much stronger. It’s a situation I don’t want to stay in forever, and I’m relieved I’m feeling so ready to close that chapter of my life when the time is right.

My mom just came in and talked to me about friendships and work and all manner of philosophical things. She understands so many of the situations I’m in because she’s in them too, or has been at one point or another. It was so nice and I am reminded of how incredibly lucky I am, even when parts of my life leave much to be desired.

Tomorrow is the end-of-the-year staff party. I had plans to go, and I suppose I will. The only way to combat isolation is to show up at stuff, right? I could only handle the dance for 45 minutes, I just couldn’t stay any longer after that embarrassing fiasco leaving dinner. I suppose I should show up tomorrow. It’s the mature thing to do.

I just gotta get through this week to next Tuesday. Next Tuesday Ben’s friends will be back in San Diego, I’ll for sure but done packing my room, a temperature drop will have confirmed my suspicions that this month is a bust and I’ll be starting my first writing class, something I’m trying my best to look forward to.

Six more days. I can do this.

It’s not about me

Last Friday was Mi.Vida’s self imposed deadline to talk to his boss about getting a more significant raise to accompany his very significant promotion and significantly augmented responsibilities. You may remember that Mi.Vida was given this promotion at the beginning of the calendar year. For almost five months he’s talked about asking for a raise but not actually done it. We’ve established in our counseling sessions that Mi.Vida has (mild) disordered anxiety about confronting his boss for a raise, though when I ask if he wants to see Sara, our counselor (not her real name), by himself, he says he doesn’t need to. From what I understand, Mi.Vida has spent the last five months not asking his boss for a raise for various reasons: he doesn’t think he’ll get one, he wants to leave anyway so he doesn’t see the point, it would be better if his direct boss were there to support him (she was on leave for a while), he’d rather avoid the conflict, he’s anxious about it.

As last week wore on, I had a feeling Mi.Vida wasn’t going to talk to his boss about the raise. At first I felt frustrated and betrayed but as the day loomed closer I realized Mi.Vida’s reluctance to ask for a raise has nothing to do with me. In couples counseling he promised himself, in front of me and Sara, he would talk to his boss, but he never promised me. His failure to do so is not a betrayal of our trust or his love for me, it has everything to do with him and his issues. And with that realization, a deep understanding washed over me: so many of the issues between Mi.Vida and I don’t involve me. They are HIS issues and they have little to do with our relationship. It’s an incredibly freeing realization. It’s also terrifying.

It makes sense that I made all this stuff about me. I mean, it seems, for all intents and purposes that these issues are about me, or us, because they directly affect our family. How much money Mi.Vida makes, how happy he is at his job, the standard of living we hope to achieve, these are all very important to our family as a whole, but they aren’t integral issues to our relationship. They are Mi.Vida’s issues, that he has to figure out for himself. For months I’ve thought that the answers to these questions were wrapped up in me and his feelings for me, but they aren’t. Mi.Vida needs to think about these things for himself.

Why is he not asking his boss for a raise, really? Is the anxiety of the actual moment really paralyzing for him? Is he ambivalent because he doesn’t want to be there? Is he reluctant to ask for more money, or look for a new job (there has been glacial progress on that front for the past year as well) because he doesn’t really want to make more money? What standard of living does Mi.Vida hope to achieve? What sacrifices is he willing to make in his professional life to achieve that standard of living? These are the questions Sara asked him to consider before our next appointment.

In the past I would have believed his answer to any of those questions was a reflection of how he felt about me and our relationship. If he LOVED me he would want what was best for us. If he really wanted to be a part of our family, he would make that work. Of course, in my mind, what was “best” for us and what would make it “work” were what I wanted for our family, or followed the compromises I was willing to make. But Mi.Vida’s answers to those questions are about who he is fundamentally as a person. It’s not about me. At least, the actual answers are. The only thing that concerns me is the steps he wants to make after he’s figured out the answers.

Mi.Vida has a lot of soul searching to do to figure out what he wants in life. Right now he is paralyzed, by a belief that there is no job out there that could provide him the money he needs to support his family AND the fulfillment he hopes to achieve personally. Basically he thinks he can be happy making not enough money or miserable making too much but that there is nothing in between. I know how he feels, I feel the same way. It’s a hard wall to come up against. But just as my struggles with this issue aren’t, at their core, about him or our relationship, neither are his about me.

This morning I tripped on a box of law books that have been sitting in our hallway for over three years. For THREE YEARS I have asked Mi.Vida to get rid of those stupid law books. Every time I give up and say I’m just going to do it, he swears he’ll do it himself. But then he doesn’t. For the past three years I’ve seen those law books (every time I pass them in our narrow hall) as a reminder of Mi.Vida’s shortcomings, as a reminder of how, even when he knows something is important to me, he still doesn’t follow through. Today I tripped over those law books and started my same internal monologue.

But then I stopped myself. Those law books aren’t about me. I tried to make them about me by asking him over and over to move them, but they aren’t about me. They are about Mi.Vida and what motivates him to follow through and do something. That box of books is never an issue for Mi.Vida, he doesn’t have to move it away from the wall and sweep around and under it once a week. He doesn’t have to find places for all the other crap that doesn’t fit in our house. He hasn’t moved those books not because he doesn’t love me or doesn’t care about me but because he doesn’t care about those books. They are constantly overshadowed by the millions of other things that are more important for him to do.

Mi.Vida and I are different people. I can’t determine what I would do in a situation and then use that same expectation to judge why he is or isn’t doing something in the way I would do it. And I can’t see all his decisions as a reflection on how he feels about me. That is not an accurate representation of things.

Our counselor (who I swear is pregnant and not telling us, and it’s really starting to make me mad) is going to be gone for two weeks. After that we’re supposed to get together again, the three of us, and see where we are. Then we both need some individual sessions and hopefully, by the end of the summer, we’ll have a general direction mapped out. And while there is a part of me that feels incredible frustration that it’s taking us so long to get wherever we are going, another part of me is grateful we’re at least trying. Hopefully, some day, this will all be resolved and the effort we’re spending now will feel so worth it.

But the trudging through of it is hard. And I’m tired. And I can’t wrap my head around the fact that we seem to have made so little progress while also coming so far. The whole thing feels like a constant contradiction.

Round Two

Last week was hard. Things don’t seem to be getting any better. In fact, it seems like I’m in the opening minutes of Round Two and I’m not sure I have it in me to fight back.

I went off my meds cold turkey last Monday. I spent all last week famished. I didn’t think I ate so much more than usual but I promptly gained three pounds. I was hoping that when I went off my meds, and officially started TTC, I’d go back on a loose version of my past TCM diet, cutting out processed grains and trying to eat more fruits and veggies. Oh, and I was not going to drink even one diet soda. I’ve failed on both counts, miserably on the latter. I know that women do worse than drink a few Diet Cokes when they are trying, so why do I berate myself so much for this shit?

Luckily the uncontrollable appetite has died down and now I feel almost like I did before, hungry for meals and not so focused on food between them. I’m still eating more than I would on my meds but I don’t feel out of control, so I’ll take it.

One thing that has been hard is the exhaustion. I knew my meds made me feel alert and focused but I didn’t realize that off them I’d feel like I’d been hit by a mack truck. There has been a lot of face slapping on the drive home and frequent attempts to get in bed earlier each night. Slowly but surely I feel less tired and more ready to face each day, with or without a Diet Coke in hand.

I have to admit, I think a lot about TTC. I’m temping so of course I know when I’ll likely ovulate and when we should have sex. I realized last weekend that I never got Pre-seed and immediately ordered some online. Today I realized we should have sex tonight or tomorrow and that the Pre-seed wouldn’t arrive at my parents’ house in time (I have to send everything there lest it get taken back to the post office for me to pick up). So I checked on their site to see where I could buy it and wouldn’t you know, that shit is sold at Walgreens and CVS now! When I was last trying, 4ish years ago there were only two random pharmacies in all of SF that sold it and now you can get it anywhere.

Anyway, after having to ask two older gentlemen where to find it, and then quickly covering it with a box of M&Ms when I passed not one, not two, not three, but FOUR students (two current and two alumni) on my way to check out, I left with the fertile friendly lube in hand. Pulling up to my parents’ house after tutoring later that day, the first thing I noticed was the Amazon box. My pre-seed had arrived a day early, making my CVS trip totally unnecessary. Touche two-day prime shipping. Touche.

Of course Mi.Vida and I got into a tiff tonight about how both of us feels we sacrifice more than the other in this gig called parenting. It was a long and difficult conversation, one that deserves its own post, but needless to say, both boxes of Pre-seed will be factory sealed tomorrow morning.

I don’t think I’ve mentioned here but things are pretty bad at work. Last week I was told I will be moving rooms (I have over 25 things on my walls alone) and then asked to consider if I would teach a 5th grade, double-period English core next year when I return full time. I don’t want to go into the details of why teaching this class would torture my soul but I will assure you that it would be bad. So bad, in fact, that I realized if I have to teach it next year I will be incredibly miserable at my job. Like crying myself to sleep each night miserable. I sobbed most of yesterday about it. I’m lobbying for another class and may or may not be successful but I’ll definitely have at least one period that I really don’t like and have never taught before, which will require an incredible amount of prep work on my part. This is along with the FOUR OTHER DIFFERENT CLASSES I will already be teaching. So yeah, next year is going to SUCK ASS. Big time.

The only light at the end of the tunnel right now is getting pregnant relatively quickly and spending a good portion of next spring NOT at work. Of course that puts more pressure on me to get pregnant quickly which I absolutely DO NOT NEED right now. So yeah. Work not helping my state of mind, or my attempts to be super nonchalant about TTC.

I spent much of yesterday scouring on-line teaching boards, trying to find a promising prospect. Nothing doing. Man, it is cut throat out there, let me tell you. At one point I was actually considering going back to get my Ph.D., that is how desperate I was feeling. There is NO WAY I’m going back to graduate school in this lifetime so I’m going to have to keep hoping for a K-12 or community college opening that I’m qualified for. For now it doesn’t look good.

Of course this morning a position I qualify literally landed in my reader. So I spent much of today typing an outline of a letter of rec for my vice-principal to write for me and trying to get a hold of my graduate professor (the one I SWORE I’d never speak to again) to see if she’ll write me one too (or just sign one that I write for her). I also dropped $40 on official transcripts from my grad school. Man, what a racket.

Of course I’ll apply and put my best foot forward doing so but I don’t have a lot of hope. I’ve applied to four similar positions and never even got confirmation that they received my application. I doubt I’ll get anything from them either.

The final pin ball rattling around in my head is about some creative writing classes I want to take this summer at my lovely alma mater, UC Berkeley. There are two I’m interested in, one on writing children’s picture books (5 Mondays) and one on developing the idea for a Young Adult (YA) novel (8 Tuesdays). Together they cost a considerable amount of money and require me being away from home two nights in a row for five weeks. The reasons to take them both are I’m not really sure what direction I want to go with my writing right now, and while I have ideas for both, I need direction to develop either of them. Also, it will be summer and I’ll have some time to dedicate to both projects, which I would love to do. I feel both classes would get me to a good jumping off point for the rest of the year. Also, and of course this is uncertain, I might be either very pregnant or having a baby next summer, in which case I couldn’t take either class. I also know that taking them while working just won’t be an option of me. So yeah, I’m toying with that idea. Of course the idea of being with Isa for two nights in a row is what started our little tiff today about carving out equal time for ourselves. I guess I really do want to much. I always guessed that was the case but now I’m sure.

I’m sorry for that incredibly long and sordid vent. I really needed to get that all out. I hope you’re all doing better than I am right now, and if things are shitty I send my love. Shittyness sucks, as you well know.

Using Motherhood as an Excuse


Last week I lost my work key. AGAIN. You might remember that my lanyard, the one I’d had for seven years, the one with my work keys AND my staff ID, disappeared over the Thanksgiving break, much to my complete and utter panic. I was given a single key to my room when I returned to work and now, less than four months later, that is gone too.

In seven years I never lost my work key. Not once. Now, in four months, I’ve lost it TWICE.

The day I accepted the fact that my work key wasn’t just hidden somewhere in my house (or that if it were, I wouldn’t be finding it), I also realized that I hadn’t submitted one class’s grades for report cards. By the time I went online the window was closed, my opportunity had passed. Even though I figured it wouldn’t be a huge deal and that I could resolve it the next day I felt horrible. In almost eight years of teaching I had NEVER been late with my grades. Every trimester, for 22 trimesters, I had turned them all in on time, even when I had eight classes to submit. And then this year I just forget, for no good reason. I just let it slip my mind.

I spent that night feeling really, really, supremely disappointed in myself.

At work the next day I was lamenting both the lost key (I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that I can’t find that key, it was around my neck when I came home on Monday, where the eff could it have gone?!) and the forgotten grades with my fellow co-workers and not once, not twice but multiple times I got the same reply: Well, you’re a mother now. Evidently it was as obvious as that.

I know these women mean well. I know their intentions are good. Their point is only that mothers have a lot on their plates, we have a ton of shit to do and when we are scrambling to get it all done things are bound to fall through the cracks. The truth is, I probably did lose the key while I was clambering to get Isa down for her nap before straightening the house for afternoon guests. And the day I forgot the grades I was home from work with Isa because our fragile child care system breaks down when Mi.Vida is out of town. So both times I could easily attribute my fuck ups to being a mother.

The thing is, I don’t want to.

For the past century women have been trying to convince men that we can do it all. We’ve argued over and over again that just because we are mothers doesn’t mean we can’t also be doctors or lawyers or senators or the president of the United States. Millions of women have pushed past expectations and conventions to give us the opportunities we have today. They have proven that being a mother and being anything else don’t have to be mutually exclusive. If I blame my fuck up on being a mother, am I undoing all that countless women have done before me?

I feel like I have two options: (1) berate my scatterbrained self for totally messing up things I’ve never messed up before in my life or (2) chalk my mistakes up to being a mother and therefore simply too overwhelmed to keep up with everything. Neither seems fair and frankly, both are probably true, at least partly. So where does that leave me?

Is it true that, as mothers, we take on too much, that we’re setting ourselves up for failure? Can we successfully juggle our careers and aspirations while assuming the bulk childcare and household responsibilities? And if not, where does that leave us? Doomed to failure? Left with no other possibilities but to meet the lowered expectations of the men around us? The whole thing just seems so fucking unfair.

UPDATE: I just wanted everyone to know that I found my work key today. In my daughter’s laundry hamper (where I already looked, it was inside something obviously). THANK GOD I FOUND IT!

If you’re gonna spew, spew in this…

I’m sorry you guys. I can’t help it. I’m standing here with my hand over my mouth willing it to stay back but I just can’t contain it.

I’m about to thought-vomit all over this post.

Let the spewing commence.

I know I’m supposed to be imparting sage advice today but the truth is I can’t think of one measly piece of wisdom to bestow. Not one. I’m not all that good at anything and I don’t have any tricks up my sleeve. If I do they’d be copyrighted anyway (Ha! Irony is not dead!) I’d tell you to be mindful but I suck at that myself and if there is anything that really busts my chops it’s a blatant hypocrite.

The truth is I’m totally drained right now. I’m emerging from a cave of strangeness and my mind is murky. Also, in the space between that sentence and this one, Mi.Vida and I engaged in a terse exchanged about money. Isn’t it peculiar how the sentences on the page sit together like they were born that way, one after another with no pauses in between when in reality dishes might have been washed, teeth brushed, showers enjoyed, dinner eaten, all between the keystrokes of one word and another.

My 9:30pm alarm just went off. It’s called 30 MINUTES BITCHES and is supposed to remind me to stop whatever I’m doing and get ready for bed. I never, ever heed its call.

I can’t believe I haven’t written since Thursday. I can’t believe my Found Book Tour post has been at the top of my page for six days. Man, that post sparked some intense conversation. I think that was part of the reason I haven’t been back in so long. I needed to clear my head… and my heart. I needed to let the dust settle from what felt like (very respectful and well intentioned) conversational scuffles. That whole exchange was a thousands times more intense than I was expecting. It sent me reeling, caused me to retreat. I still haven’t read any of the third day posts. For that I feel guilty.

Other responsibilities conspired against my writing this past week. Real life obligations that pulled me away, that busied me. None of them were of much interest and so I won’t touch on them here except to share what I learned.

1. Weekends where Mi.Vida and I stay home with Isa are long and friction inducing. By the end of them we’re both almost itching to return to work, or to just get away from the other for a while.

2. Mi.Vida and I have very different parenting techniques. This can be difficult. See number 1.

3. I need to always have at least one “event” planned during the weekend, lest I lose my mind. A trip to Trader Joes is an insufficient substitute for said required event. Also, see number 1.

4. Yeast rashes suck. Yeast rashes with cloth diapers sucks big sweaty balls. Also, tea tree oil is fucking expensive and treating every piece of our cloth diapering arsenal for yeast costs us over $30 in quarters.

5. I will never truly be happy in life until I own a washer and dryer unit that resides in my personal living space. See number 4.

6. Not grading papers for a month and a half will have serious and unavoidable consequences, such as many hours of marathon scoring over several days.

7. Also the accuracy with which one is able to score papers is directly proportional to the amount of time one has to score them. See number 6.

7. Yoga is one of the most positive influences in my life. I have reason to believe it has bolstered my immune system as well as improved my general health and emotional well being.  It also makes me look and feel fantastic. (So I’m told. ::blushes::)

8. My parents are incredible and my quality of life would be greatly reduced without their presence and support.

9. My daughter is amazing. The extreme highs and lows I experience with her are without parallel.

10. The time it takes to create sub plans for a day of missed school almost negates missing that day of school. Almost. 

Our apartment is under construction. By some miracle our landlord not only agrees that our mold problem is serious but is replacing several windows in an attempt to reduce moisture in our unit. The work was supposed to be done today but (not shockingly) wasn’t. Currently four of the six rooms in our apartment are basically unusable. Only Isa’s room and kitchen are untouched. Tomorrow I have to schlep everything I need to shower and brush my teeth into the bathroom, then I need to shlep it all back (to where exactly?!) when I’m done. The greatest tragedy is that I’ll probably be too lazy to move the space heater in there when I shower and change. Normally I wouldn’t be too concerned but it’s been getting down below freezing in San Francisco lately. We’re not used to that kind of cold around these parts! (Have I mentioned we don’t have central heating?) I am not looking forward to 6am tomorrow morning. Not one bit.

I have been having a hard time writing about my daughter on my blog. I hardly mention her on Twitter anymore either. I’m not sure what that’s about. Like right then, at the beginning of this paragraph, I considered writing about what a great day I had with her at a local children’s museum but in the end I just couldn’t do it. I don’t know why. It’s not that I don’t adore her more than words can say, because I do, I just don’t feel all that compelled to write about her right now. Or do I feel guilty doing it? I don’t know what that is about and I oscillate between should-I-be-concerned? and genuine curiosity. I really want to write a post documenting all that she can do now, because the last month has been insane in terms of her development, but I just can’t seem to put the words on the page. Hopefully I can man up and just do it (and figure out what my deal is in the process).

Yesterday was Time Warp Tuesday and I missed it. That makes me sad. I thought long and hard about a “turnaround” post to revisit. In the end I decided I’d go back to my TTC days and talk about how much has changed since then. But then I started thinking about how scared I am to TTC again and how most days I just wish, more than anything, I was done building my family because then I could release the myriad fears and anxieties I have about all the gazillion things that could go wrong. Sometimes I feel like every day this community introduces me to some new and horrifying affliction my future child might die of either in utero or shortly after birth. Just having another baby, and knowing whether or not I need to face one of these insurmountable challenges will bring me such incredible piece of mind. Even if something bad happens at least I’ll know what it is and deal with it. It’s this not knowing that kills me. Sometimes it’s too much.

It’s these times when I realize how scared I am to start TTC again in a few short months. I feel like I need to build up my reserves, both mentally and physically, for the path that lies ahead. And while I still have hope that I might enjoy the journey, most of the time I just want to get to the destination already. Seriously, I just want to know.

End hurl.

Man, I feel better already.

Two steps forward…

This Tuesday Mi.Vida’s colleagues were informed of his promotion. In the New Year he will become the managing attorney at his non-profit. He’s known about the promotion for almost two months and while he was told it would include a substantial raise, he was never given an exact number. This was great news for us because our financial plan for a second child required $10,000 more a year from each of us. I figured I could make my$10K tutoring and giving private classes in the evenings. Mi.Vida’s $10K was going to come from his raise.

This Friday Mi.Vida was finally given an offer letter. His raise was substantial alright-substantially smaller than he had expected. All the plans we’d spent three months in therapy working towards seemed to be unraveling before our eyes. It was a difficult afternoon.

In the hours after I heard of the raise debacle I felt a number of things, primarily anger, frustration, despair and panic. I wanted Mi.Vida to march in there and demand an explanation. I wanted him to say that he would have to leave because (a) the compensation was not adequate for the amount of work he’d be doing and (b) he couldn’t support his family on the salary they were proposing. I wanted resolution and I wanted it now.

Of course even if Mi.Vida didn’t avoid conflict like the plague, he would never had done any of that. That isn’t his style and it’s probably for the best. I can’t imagine my plan would have produced the desired result anyway.

The next 24 hours were difficult for me. I lamented the fact that our plan was basically ruined, as it hinged on money that we falsely believed we’d be earneing. I feared the conflicts this would create, as Mi.Vida handled the disappointing raise, and eventually finding another job, in ways I didn’t understand or endorse. But really, the thing I was most upset about was the uncertainty. I was so looking forward to knowing what at least one large part of the next couple of years would look like; now yet another piece of our future was completely unknown.

Turns out uncertainty stokes my anxiety big time.

Once I was able to articulate that realization I felt better. Just knowing that the uncertainty was what bothered me most made all of it more manageable. I no longer felt overwhelmed by all of it.

On Saturday I initiated sex with Mi.Vida during Isa’s nap. Our joint “homework” from our couples counselor was to spend 30-60 minutes a week doing something we both enjoyed and to have sex once a week, whether we “wanted to” or not (you can imagine who that last bit was aimed at). We’d barely fit our first sexual encounter in the week before and I was determined to get the second one done as well (I’ve always been a straight student and I NEVER turn my homework in late). Initiating sex on Saturday felt like checking a task off my to do list but in the end I was so glad we did it. It’s true that being intimate can help kindle a connection between two people, even if one (or both) lacks the urge to do it.

On Saturday night I went to my staff party and told Mi.Vida to spend the evening with his friends. While I carve out time to meet with my girl friend he almost never takes the same initiative. I knew he wouldn’t mind going to my staff party but I also guessed he’d prefer to take advantage of “guy time” so I pushed him to do that. We both ended up enjoying the evening immensely and were happier to see each other the next morning than we might have been had we forced a shared experience.

On Sunday we went to couples counseling. Mi.Vida’s homework was to agree to the time line I’d proposed at the last meeting. I was sure that the new financial uncertainties would determine his decision but they didn’t, or at least not in the way I expected. He felt we were doing much better emotionally and that the financial piece would fall into place. He not only agreed that we could start trying in June of next year, but conceded that we could even begin earlier if things continued in a positive direction. I couldn’t believe it.

The rest of the day Mi.Vida spoke with sparks of excitement about finding something new. As a someone who’s never been a self started he believes this raise debacle might be just the kick in the pants he needs to make a move to something new and hopefully better. And while I’m still anxious about the uncertainty involved, I feel more hopeful about the eventual outcome than I did about the original (assumed) raise.

Two weeks ago I was wondering if the time, effort and money we’d been spending at couples counseling was worth it. While some days were obviously better, there was a lot of that “two steps forward, one step back” sentiment. I doubted any real progress would ever be made. It seems, though, that it has. I see it in the disagreements we have that don’t ruin our time later together, even if the issues haven’t been resolved. I glimpse it in the renewed support we show each other at home every night. I recognize it in the way we handled the bad news this weekend, in the honesty and acceptance present in our discussions about the future.

It’s true that we’ve been taking two steps forward, one step back. I’ve been so focused on the back steps that I forgot one simple truth – the final sum of that equation is still one step forward. It may take a long time to get anywhere when you’re making a go of it one step at a time, but you will eventually get there. And it seems, slowly but surely, that we are.