Friday, January 28, 2011

Lullabye and Goodnight....

I don't sleep.

I haven't slept for 8 years.

As a result, I was sitting at a red light, waiting for it to turn green, on my way into work this morning and realized after several minutes I was actually a block away at a stop sign.

Hyperbole aside, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've had a good night's sleep in the past six months. I can't remember any farther back than that due to sleep deprivation. It got so bad this fall that I broke down, went to my family physician, and practically begged the woman for a prescription sleep aid. She quickly wrote me a prescription for Ambien CR and gave me careful instructions on how to use it.

A lot of my friends warned me not to take it. They told me horror stories of people THEY knew waking up next to plate of nachos and not remembering having prepared them. Or of waking up in their birthday suit in a different room in the house. I didn't care. I would gladly eat nachos naked if it meant getting a good night's sleep.

Night one was bliss. Night two I sent some text messages I don't remember ever having written. Night three, I was wide awake and staring at the clock by 1 a.m. And so it went from there.

A few months later, after having bought stock in the Garnier Nutritioniste Skin Renew Anti Puff Eye Roller, I was back at the doctor's office, and this time my doctor just looked frightened. I mean, zombie chick is making a comeback, but the look just hasn't caught on in Tyler yet. She gave me something "stronger." 

Night one, I finally fell asleep at 3 a.m. Night two, same thing. I stopped taking it. Took it again a week later. Felt drunk and slurred my texts. And still didn't sleep.

My friend Connie has suggested yoga. I'm too tired to go. I've heard to take warm bath before bed.  Drink a glass of red wine. Take Benadryl. Watch the Golf Channel.  One extremely misguided individual whose name I will not mention has suggested that just lying in bed is getting enough rest. 

I don't know what the solution is and I'm too sleepy to figure it out.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Once Upon a Time...

Once upon a time, there was a group of about two dozen girls.

Or hundreds, really, but this post is about a special two dozen or so. Probably fewer although I haven't really stopped to count.

Back in the olden days, of 1999 and early 2000, I joined an iVillage group lapse....something about Weddings 2000. Or Planning Your Wedding. Or something of that nature. Bottom line, everyone on this international message board was newly engaged and planning a soon-to-be-wedding.

And there I met them. The women who'd see me through good times and bad, happy and sad, the vast majority of whom I've never met, yet would count among my closest friends.

I was embarrassed at first. Friends with people I'd never met?  Never seen, never had lunch with? Bah-humbug, I first thought.

Then we discussed bridesmaid dress colors. There was me, who only had one (pregnant) bridesmaid and let her choose her own dress, to L, who had at least a dozen bridesmaids at her sophisticated ceremony and had them wear a shade barely distinguishable between "silver" and "pewter." And  we posted hundreds of threads over whether a sit-down dinner or a buffet was the better option for an evening reception for 200. And whether our engagement rings were the stuff dreams were made of. And if our dads, or both parents, would walk us down the aisle. We argued over vows (do we, as women of the new millenium, say "obey?"). We argued over honeymoon destinations. We heatedly discussed combined finances, shared surnames and destination weddings.

After a year or so, we were mostly married, many of us within several weeks, or days, of each other. We "graduated" to another message board, Beginning a Marriage.

There we pontificated over dual income households, shared holidays with in-laws, shared chores, different schedules, shoes left in the middle of the bedroom floor and flannel sheets versus cotton. Always the message board was our inner sanctum. Just the girls. No boys allowed. No holds barred because we didn't have a stake in each other in real life. Or did we?

It didn't take long before THE TOPIC was broached. TTC was first and foremost on our minds. If you don't know your message board acronyms, or if you're  man reading this blog post, TTC is "trying to conceive." In short, we had baby fever.

Because many of the details of TTC are too personal for a public forum, we, the group of about two dozen who had that magical online connection over the years, started a new message board, a private group, for only us.

On that board, saying "no holds barred" is probably the understatement of the first decade of the new millennium. If it was to be discussed, we talked about it.

In great detail.

I will not divulge all here, I'm saving that for my tell-all book, but suffice it to say we knew the most intimate details of each other's lives.

We started our families. We were there, online, posting at 3 a.m. when another mom was there, online, at 3 a.m. posting. We talked each other through labor, childbirth, the first weeks with baby, milestones, vaccinations, discipline, sibling issues, teething, breastfeeding, bottlefeeding, changing diapers, dads who didn't help, dads who did. I always knew that if I needed support, or a real opinion, I'd go to THE BOARD.

I talked about these ladies as if I'd just seen them at a playdate earlier in the day. And in fact, THE BOARD became a 24-hour, multi-year playdate.

We saw each other through births. Miscarriages. Trying to conceive. Secondary infertility (mine). Children with disabilities (Curt with autism, another boy, E, born 5 weeks later, also with autism (his momma is a rock star); a little girl with a tethered cord (her mom is the most laid back momma I know) and various other developmental challenges). We saw each other through natural disasters (wait - those were mine too and I DELIGHTED in spending the Pier 1 gift certificate the girls gave me after Hurriance Ike). We had a member who worked in World Trade 7 "lost" for several hours on 9/11. Her TTC chart, on her office calendar, was lost with so many other lives and valuables on that day. Luckily, she was not. We saw each other through preterm births (K is a champion) and adoptions (M has two birth boys and a beautiful girl chosen with her heart). We kicked two people off (too much drama) and lost one or two others to personality conflicts, beause, let's face it, when you get a group of more than two girls together, there's drama. A few of us got divorced. Others have endured marriage challenges of the nth degree. We stopped having new children and got the ones we have off to school. We went back to work. Or stayed home. Or became self-employed. Or championed the poor economy. We have been together through breast cancer, through lupus, though depression, through the loss of parents. We have members in each corner of the country and everywhere in between.

In the past two years, I'd say, traffic to THE BOARD has dropped off considerably. And then, A had the brilliant idea to start a new private group, on a site most of us frequent. It brought tears to my eyes to reconnect with these ladies, whose lives have been so intrinsically linked with mine over the past TEN, count them, TEN years. I've only met a handful of them. I'd LOVE to meet them all. I'd love to go to a Buffet concert with L or MN. I'd love to scrapbook and exchange snarky comments with MG. I HAVE loved meeting A and spending time in her home. I'd travel to California in a New York minute to meet S or L. I think getting together with T in Florida would be enlightening. I had a blast in Seattle with J and MW. K contracted work with me in past years and is soooooo smart I think I'd be intimidated to try to talk to her! E is my kindred spirit in the Northeast and LM, who is embarking on her new life, is an inspiration. SL has an amazing new job! JH was my TTC buddy with my No. 3 (which as you know didn't happen) and her No. 2, who is beautiful, just like her momma. I credit her with keeping my spirits up every time I had to POAS and it was a BFN. If you don't know those acronyms, I'm not telling. ;-)

I'm glad we're all back together. I hope we stay together. We will take a Carribean cruise someday together, when the kids are all old enough to stay at home. ;-) I do plan to write a book about you all someday. You are the most colorful, vivid, strong, well-defined, spirited, smart, diverse and beautiful group of girls I have ever known. If you are ever in East Texas. Call me. Until then, look for yourself in a future bestseller.

All names will be changed to protect the owner of the egg whites.

"Old" Friend

Today my old (no pun intended) friend,  BG, because she doesn't need to be known by any other initials, turns 29. Again.

And since she has been my dearest friend for years, I can't help but, like I do with my children, be thankful for her very existence on this day that we celebrate her birth. (29 years ago.)

"A friend is someone who understands your past, believes in your future and accepts you just the way you are." I don't know who said that. In all honesty I just "borrowed" it from ThinkExist. But it's true.

BG has been there through huge amounts of laughter and possibly equal amounts of tears. Road trips to the beach. Even in the rain. She brought me Jason's Deli chicken pot pie, a 30 mile round trip for her, on the night before my movers came and I was up to my ears in packing boxes. She knew that I didn't like the snack mix at school, but preferred the Cheese Nips. I've Trick-or-Treated with her (I had to be the Bad Witch because she's too good to ever be considered that!), shopped with her, sat in the emergency room with her, celebrated our birthdays with her, celebrated our kids' birthdays with her and we've made road trips to see each other since I had to go and move away. We've sipped key lime pie martinis on occasion, cosmos on more than one. I laughed my head off at her zeal for last year's Super Bowl (because if you know BG, you *think* she's not the type to holler at the television set.) We text every day. Talk several times a week.

I miss you. And I'm thankful for you. For all "29" years you've spent on earth and the years you've spent being my friend.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

All I Really Need to Know...

...I learned long after kindergarten.

About 30 years after, as a matter of fact.

Because all though the wisdom from Robert Fulghum's sage words is timeless, all I really need to know about how to live and what to do and how to be I learned once I had children. And they started kindgarten.  I thought I had a broad base of knowledge, having lived for more than 30 years, obtained a college diploma and a graduate degree. But wisdom is not dispensed with sheepskins, but at story time, or in the grocery store, or doing a third grade science project on Jupiter. These are the things I learned am learning:
  • Share everything (including all your waffle fries at Chick-Fil-A, the last Oreo Ball in the container, and a sip of your precious Diet Coke - germs aren't harmful if they're from your kids, right?)
  • Play fair, this means NOT moving the neopolitan ice cream card to the bottom of the deck in Candyland so there's no hope of drawing it as you're approaching the end of that interminable game).
  • Don't hit people. (This is a tough one as a well-timed swat on the booheiney was rather effective in curbing certain preschool behaviors)
  • Put things back where you found them. (This includes your school books, shoes, bath towels, Scotch tape and Mommy's hairbrush)
  • Clean up your own mess. (Yes, the crayon shavings and wrappers on the dining room floor constitute a "mess")
  • Don't take things that aren't yours. (This means Mom's waffle fries!!!)
  • Say you're sorry when you hurt somebody. (And give them a hug and a kiss).
  • Wash your hands before you eat. (Yes, you have to wash them again if you pet the dog on the way to the kitchen).
  • Flush. (Calling all boys who live in my household: this means YOU)
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. (as are Oreo balls and Diet Coke)
  • Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. (And homework shouldn't take all afternoon. Play outside. Run. Scream - outside only - laugh with your friends. Then come in and help me set the table).
  • Take a nap every afternoon. (Or at least go to bed without much complaint)
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together. (School pick up time is a particular hazard. So is the Walmart parking lot on a Sunday afternoon).
  • Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that. (Dream about aliens. Imagine yourself a ninja. Keep thinking the Wild Bird Walkabout at the Caldwell Zoo is the  most magical place on earth.)
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup - they all die. (So do two frogs and countless goldfish). So do we. (even if it's incredibly hard to explain to a 5 year old and a 3 year old that PawPaw went to heaven, then have to explain it again just a year later when Mimi followed).
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned - the biggest word of all - LOOK. (and it's often better to watch and listen than it is to speak)
"And it is still true, no matter how old you are, when you go out in the world, it is best to hold hands and stick together." Even 30 years later, when the hands I'm holding are much more diminutive than my own, and sticky rather than sticking, the world is always a better place when that little hand is warm and trusting.