Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A Better Option

In the car I listen to the radio. The songs of this alternative rock scene have a theme of egocentric emotional pain. It makes me sad. And then I get disgusted when I hear a song about what to do after the singer has died... I understand death is an inevitable and normal part of life. But it sounds like this guy's given up already and it bothers me.

There's a news article this week about a guy who killed his three kids, his wife, and then himself because he and his wife both got fired or laid off or something and he decided it was just time to stop living in this world. So many suicides lately by people who are giving up on life... I understand being so tired and hurt that you don't want to live anymore. I understand being so hopeless or disgusted with this world that you don't want to be a part of it anymore. But I also think that out of all the possible choices one can make, suicide is so far down the list that you can't even see it as an option.

If you're really that desperate or in that much pain, then choose a surrender of a different sort. Go find someone, anyone, and plant yourself in their path and say, "I need help, or I'm going to die." I guarantee you that you will get help and you can survive. Your life may be miserable but you will be ALIVE and therefore there is hope for a better tomorrow.

There's a quote I really like from the television show "Firefly". It goes something along these lines:

"If you can't run, walk. If you can't walk, crawl. If you can't crawl, find someone to carry you."

I may not have had that word perfect, but it's the same idea. Also, there's a song that I've had in my head for a couple months that goes, "And even when your hope is gone, move along just to make it through."

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I Need A New Attitude

My attitude towards parenting sucks.

Let me explain. I feel like a bad parent. I can't really say I feel like one of the worst parents ever, because my children are alive, fed, unharmed, etc. But they lack training, attention, discipline... Their mom (that'd be me) can't seem to find a balance between wanting to control everything they do and getting frustrated when they don't live up to perfection that I give up and letting them do whatever they want as long as they're not destroying anything or harming themselves or others. And even then, my son (3) picks on my daughter (1) enough and gets away with it because I feel powerless to get him to stop.

I feel like nothing I've done with them works, so I just want to give up. I feel I've already failed and I feel I have no other options besides continuing to fail, because all the things I need to do to succeed take more energy/persistence/determination/patience than I feel I have. If I try to be determined today, I know I will fail tomorrow when I'm tired after doing so much today, and so I'll be inconsistent, and I'll be torturing my kids for nothing... All I can see is failure failure failure.

I've read half a dozen parenting books cover to cover. Logically I know the things I need to be doing. Establish rules and stick to them. Set logical consequences to discipline problems. Teach life skills. Praise a job well done instead of blanket "you're great" praise. Keep food in the kitchen. Put away toys you get out. Introduce my 3 year old to appropriate chores like folding towels or putting napkins on the table for dinner. No hitting, kicking, biting, yelling, or temper-tantrums or you go in the naughty chair for as many minutes as you are old. Keep a regular routine so kids have structure and know what to expect. I'm not STUPID, I'm just...stupid. *hangs head*

I get tired. It seems I'm always tired, no matter how much sleep I've had or how little I've done. And no, I'm not pregnant. I get resentful. I feel sometimes that my life has been invaded by little monsters who don't respect me or care about me enough to not drive me insane and who love to destroy everything and keep me from doing things I want to be doing. And I'm caged here as a slave to the little monsters, and I'll be judged by how well I take care of them. That's not a very good viewpoint if you're trying to inspire love instead of resentment. And then I get depressed because I love my kids and want the best for them and I'm failing them miserably.

So there's the problem. What's the solution? I've had enough experience working away from my kids to be grateful that I'm a stay-at-home mom. Maybe I can try a to-do list... Ha. That's not really working so well. I've read enough parenting books. They all say that I'm at least semi-normal in my feelings, and that I need to take care of myself before I take care of anyone else. So I had a babysitter take kids for an hour and a half today to try to reset my temper, which usually works. I was pretty happy when my kids were gone and I thought of all the things I wanted to do... and then when I went to pick them up my son threw a fit and my babysitter's having trouble with them because my kids always get their way after I've told them "No," so now they expect that "No" means "Pester Mom more until she gives in or completely blows her top."

I've lost my train of thought because my son's bugging me and I can't handle it and I've just thrown his coat across the room because he put it in my face. I can't get myself to behave. How can I get anyone else to behave? I just want everyone to GO AWAY.

Somebody please tell me how to stop being a moron. And if you hand me a book on parenting, I will point out the whole bookshelf I have of them already.

Progress Report

So far this week I'm lucky to get maybe half of the things on my daily to-do list done. Maybe there's too much on there? Maybe I need to spend less time on the computer still and more time being productive? The house has been mostly maintained, I've made zero progress on Institute class lessons or scrapbooking besides printing a few pages and stuffing them in my binder... the kids have been pretty well played with. Blah. I'm getting enough sleep. I drank 32 ounces of water one day and learned that if you suddenly drink enough water after being dehydrated, your body stores it and you instantly gain ten pounds. I hate drinking water. Today we're starting with a huge glass of cocoa and then maybe we'll move to water because yesterday I tried to stick to healthy foods and felt like I was starving the whole day and therefore got very little done.

The EVIL month of January is almost over. One week left, and then my husband will have a day off. Of course, on that day we have dentist appointments for the whole family and a vision appointment for me. I've got one eye that's totally changed color over the last year, which I figure can't be good. And my long-distance vision is dying. It's probably time to get glasses and actually wear them. Anyway, I hope to get a break soon. I need one. When one starts feeling homicidal towards anything and everything, it's time for a break.

Um, besides being stressed and cranky, I think I'm okay. Yay!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cat's Basic Daily Needs

I need to be the best at basics. I will excel at basic personal and household duties, until I put Martha Stewart to shame. Oh wait, she already puts herself to shame. Never mind. ANYWAY, what are my basic needs and duties, you ask? I'm glad you asked. You asked, right? Well, here they are:

basic things I need done every day:

6 hours sleep
get dressed
one meal at the table as a family
prayers & scriptures
read with kids for 20 minutes
15 minutes one-on-one time with each kid and spouse
brush teeth (kids and self - with toothpaste!) before bed

basic things I want done every day:

8 hours sleep
healthy breakfast at table with family – 1 fruit, 1 vegetable, 1 protein, 1 grain, 1 dairy
make beds / tidy bedrooms
tidy bathroom
healthy lunch at table with family - 1 fruit, 1 vegetable, 1 protein, 1 grain, 1 dairy
drink 64 ounces of water
family prayers
1 Institute/scripture lesson done
1 scrapbook page done
15 minutes one-on-one time with each kid and spouse
read with kids for 20 minutes
play with kids actively for 1 hour
take care of any papers on desk / needing to be filed before bed
tidy front room before bed
tidy kitchen before bed
wash and fold and put away one load of laundry
brush teeth (kids and self - with toothpaste!) before bed

weekly needs:

exercise 3 times at gym
update checkbook / pay bills / update budget
get groceries
put gas in car
run any errands
date with spouse
family game/activity night
update family journal
plan to-do list for upcoming week

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wondering How to Let Go

I've accepted the fact that nothing I do will change my parents or their behavior. My mom will always be depressed and self-hating and my father will always be an alcoholic until they choose to modify their own thoughts and behaviors. What I still have problems with is accepting my parents and their faults without getting sad or bitter or angry.

I realize they're human and both came from really really nasty upbringings that make mine look like a cakewalk. There's no way they're ever going to be perfect. I'm very thankful they did so much better for us than their parents did for them. In some ways they've done wonderful jobs: we always had food and shelter, we always got as many books from the used bookstore as we wanted, we got to go on awesome trips around the United States and to beaches and amusement parks. I know they're doing the best they can. So whyyy am I still so angry?

My father's still an alcoholic. For a few years he was sober, so I got in the habit of saying he "used to be" an alcoholic, but he still is. And he's drinking again.

Today's my mother's birthday. I called home to see if she was there to wish her a happy birthday, and my dad was drunk to the point he could hardly talk straight and will be passing out shortly. My mom, when I got ahold of her at work, sounded happy. It breaks my heart to know that she'll come home to a passed out, reeking husband who may or may not have made it to the bedroom. Have you ever seen someone passed out while sitting on a toilet with their pants around their ankles? It's funny… and yet, not.

So that makes me want to take a baseball bat to his head and beat some sense into the man. Buuut, it won't help any. I know logically that alcoholism is a disease and you can't just shake yourself out of it like you can't shake yourself out of deep depression. You gotta take steps and keep working at it and keep on top of it or it will swallow you again. And the steps my dad tries to take don't seem to work very well.

His doctors have tried putting him on every kind of anti-depressant or anti-anxiety pill I can think of. Paxil, prozac, zoloft, effexor… His body's reaction to those drugs turns him into a happy man who can't think and can't function, and then he STILL drinks. So instead of a cranky man who works part of the day efficiently and then gets smashed in the afternoon, you have a happy man who doesn't do anything but drink. And did you know that combining anti-depressants and alcohol is a very bad, unhealthy idea? Like, a potentially lethal idea?

Under it all, I think he's extremely stressed about life and hates himself. He's been to therapy many times and I don't know that any of it's helped. I can't seem to do anything for him except try to express love instead of anger. Keep the bridges open and whatnot. The anger only hurts me, so I'd like to let it go but don't know how.

I can't help but think that if things had been a little bit different, we would have been very good friends. My father and mother would have been a good, equal match instead of the conflict that is there. Sometimes he does nice things for her and sometimes he tells her she's fat and stupid and lazy. Thinking about the life that I think should have existed makes me bitter. Sad, bitter, and angry. It's like my mantra: depressed, frustrated, and angry about soooo many things.

I dunno. I just needed to vent. Nobody really wants to hear these things, so I'm dumping them here instead of somebody's IM window. I would like to be able to let go of my anger and replace it with compassion (even while I hold onto anger as a young child clings to a familiar, comfortable teddy bear that protects her from the world).

I keep waiting for the phone call that tells me my father's had a heart attack. He's moved on to Jack Daniel's, a step up from vodka (his previous drink of choice). I wonder and wonder and wonder if he's just trying to kill himself. His father didn't live to age 55, and I don't think my dad expects to, either. He can't have much of a liver left. He's combining drugs that don't mix well. He's drinking and driving. He's been taking trips to Hawaii every six months.

There's nothing I can do. So I dump it here, give a voice to the feelings and thoughts that I prefer not to think about before I bury them again and move on. It's not my problem. It's not my life. It's not my responsibility. It's not my fault. There's nothing I can do or should do to try to "fix" things.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Trying to Find...Something.

This life bothers me.

Being the best at basics is one of my goals. It involves spending so much time and energy maintaining a better status quo - to be healthy instead of just getting by. I spend hours cleaning and cooking and running errands and changing diapers, and then I'm tired for the day and spend the evenings dicking around on Facebook. It chafes. I feel like I'm wasting my life. This goal is good and necessary but it conflicts with my other goal: to create something, to accomplish something good...

I want to write. No, blogs don't count for this goal. Years ago I had this dream that I could write something that would be encouraging to young adults who are stuck in a lousy situation to give them the strength to keep fighting and hoping for a better life. They will not find this blog that is geared towards adults anyway, but they might find a book in a bookstore with my name in the author's line.

I want to get a(nother) college degree to have tangible proof that I've used my time productively. I can see you nodding your head with sympathy and also thinking that it's just a need for recognition or whatever that I should just get over or find recognition elsewhere.

What I NEED TO BE DOING and what should be my biggest accomplishment is my children. I have been blessed with having a part in the creation of two little people who need love and guidance and lots and lots of teaching if they're going to survive this world intact. And what am I doing? Cleaning my house, running errands, but mostly dicking around on the internet. Anything but doing the things with my children that they need that bore me to tears... play toytrains. Read the same books over and over. And over. And it's too cold to go outside. *hangs head* This sucks.

The lazy part of me says they're fine, they actually get more attention and mommy-time than a lot of other kids in this country. The meaner part of my brain, the one I think I should listen to more because it drives survival, is stabbing the lazy part of my brain with an ice pick. A very pointy, cold, metal ice pick. Because the lazy part of my brain is the creation of American culture, and it says I should play all day and eat junk food and make fun of people and it just needs to die.

So! What does the mean/intelligent part of my brain say? First, it's going to take a shotgun to the television and blow it into itty bitty pieces. Then it's going to TURN OFF the computer unless I need it for work or educational purposes. Then I'm going to find new, fun, educational things to do with my kids that do NOT include Dora or Thomas the Train. And when I'm tired after dinner I will not sit down and stop, I will keep going and finish my chores for the day instead of letting them pile up like they have. And that way I will have time to write and create things. I will grow up and shut out the distractions that are meaningless and make more time for good experiences with friends and family. I will remain focused on what's most important and leave the rest behind.

I am angry. I am frustrated and angry. But at least I'm not depressed. Ha!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

An Unexpected Break

We are all feeling much better today than yesterday, which is wonderful. Also, my husband's workplace called today and said they didn't need him to come in since work was slow for the New Year's holiday. So he packed up the kids and took them to his mother's house to give me a much-needed break from toddlers and a chance to clean my house. Yay for good health! Yay for breaks! Yay for clean houses! Yay for wonderful, thoughtful husbands! Yay for bleach wipes! Yay for not having to listen to Dora the Explorer all day! WHEEEEE!