16 October 2007

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve had the energy to sit down and write anything. Two weeks has been a long time, especially considering the roller coaster I’ve been on during that time.

It’s been a rough couple of years around here. To say anything else would just be sugar-coating the truth. And considering the size of my hind parts, sugar-coating is the last thing I need. Amid all the promises that things will calm down, soon, Marc and I have found ourselves with less and less time for things that matter so much to us, namely ourselves. We’ve been living in a pressure cooker, and it’s been ready to blow up for a while now.

Neither of us are ready to pick up what’s left after a nuclear meltdown and restart. We’ve got entirely too much invested in this deal to let little things push us over the edge. Three kids in three years, the constant battle of making the farm work, the nightmare of the house, the utter and complete lack of space around here, all of it has been dragging us down, but in a hidden way. Child rearing fatigue has turned me into someone I hardly recognize, so you can imagine how changed Marc has found me. And all the stresses from his work, on that infernal farm, has turned Marc into someone who no longer knows how to relax and just breathe. We’ve come a long, long way from the ideals we set out with almost seven years ago.

It’s been tough.

So we’ve laid all our crap out on the table, opened up all the closets and let the skeletons see the light of day, and realized we have a hell of a lot of little problems we need to iron out. Big problems are usually easy, ya know. One big problem, even though it’s HUGE, can be resolved easier than a heap of small problems, all of which are intricately linked and need to be untangled first, then fixed. So that’s what we’re doing.

And that’s why, in a little over a week, Monkey and I are flying Stateside. I need to recharge my batteries, touch base with my roots and take a much needed break from all the crap floating around in the air here. And I seriously need a HUGE dose of retail therapy, in the form of the great Walmart, because I have finally realized and come to terms with the fact that I am just displaced white trash. I mean, shit, I live in France and I very literally have dreams about shopping in Walmart. It’s sad.

It’s been almost four years since my last trip home, and four years, for me, has just been too long. I’ve never really claimed to suffer from homesickness, probably because there’s really no home to get sick for. My parents are both gone, my brother and two sisters, with whom I am admittedly not close, are scattered all over hell’s half acre. My brother and I did see a bit more of each other than we do now, but mostly because we lived close enough to not have an excuse to do otherwise. My sisters I saw only at my parents’ funerals. We’re not exactly the kind of family that pines for each other.

But apparently homesickness is a bit more than just missing family. There are my friends, my culture, all the food I love, the lifestyle I was so used to, the ability to find clothes to fit my ax-handle-and-a-half-across ass, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and a whole list of other things that, while not quite as obvious as missing family, have created a hole in my tiny, frozen heart.

Since I was last ‘home’, I’ve had three kids, built a falling-down house, changed cars twice, changed jobs, changed my hair twice, given up on wearing contacts, gone gray(er). I’ve gained and lost what seems like hundreds of pounds, and while my weight is actually lower than that last visit, my form has changed significantly—thank you babies. I’ve gone from the euphoric high of being a first-time mom to the darkest low of second-time baby blues and hovered around the third-time nonchalant-who-cares-anymore-this-is-reality-deal-with-it-ness that has probably been more destructive than any of my other moods. My self-esteem has really suffered there, and that’s been very bad for all concerned.

My clothes, most of which were purchased pre-France, are in such a state that even the recycling folks look at me like I’m off my rocker when I bring them in. I can fit in them, really, but not comfortably (again, that changing shape thing). And honestly, I have only one pair of jeans that isn’t in tatters. There’s nothing left to sew back together. It’s not like home—I can’t just pop into the local boutique and find replacements because 1. French women don’t come in my shape and 2. Holy Price Tag Batman! I can find shoes here, and on sale, but shoes, sadly, do not cover my butt. And my butt? It needs covering. I’ve spent the last few months dressed as a modern-day version of the Matchstick Girl, and dude, it’s been rather hard.

Lest you think it’s just my vanity that’s been sucking me under, let me assure it goes a bit deeper than that. I live in a world completely different from the one I grew up in. I can fake certain things, like Thanksgiving for example. But how does one fake Halloween? My kids are half American, and I feel an obligation to raise them with as much of my old country’s customs as I can. But Halloween? Ya kind of need community participation for that. Either that, or a lot of patience to drive to all the Americans’ houses Trick-or-Treating—because around these parts we’re all rather scattered. Monkey’s at the age where Halloween can be something special, and I want, I NEED for him to have that.

And the language thing. Oh God, I’ve been so terrible about that. He understands me, or at least he fakes it pretty well, whenever I talk to him in English. But switching back and forth between French and English turns my brain to mush, and the look he gives me when I do use English with him, that look of ‘you are using that made-up language again, crazy lady’ is a bit discouraging, too. And what better time to toss him into the fray than now? He needs to see that Mama isn’t just speaking gibberish, and I need a bit of outside reinforcement.

So next Wednesday Monkey and I are flying out, first to London, then on to the Big Bad USA to fix a few of the things that need fixing. And I am, for the moment, trying to tackle to little problems that this trip is creating. How do I deal with leaving more than half my family behind? How to handle a monkey on a very long trip? How do I not spend every single centime we have left? (that’s the hardest one I think)

I’m not too worried about leaving the girls with their papa. Marc is a good dad, and while I often bitch that he isn’t around enough (because of the farm), when he is around, he does take good care of his babies. We have a very different approach to certain things, but I think that’s probably a good thing. And he isn’t suffering from an overdose of child rearing. Honestly that’s about all I’ve done for the better part of two years, and I am worn the hell out. Marc’s much more likely to try new things with them than I am because he’s got the energy for it. I do not. So while I’m on the other side of the world with Monkey-1, Marc’s taking Monkeys- 2 and -3 on a road trip of his own, possibly dragging Vivi & Mô along for fun. He’s going to get a dose of what I deal with everyday, and while that sounds rather snarky, it truly isn’t. He can’t help me find solutions if he doesn’t know the problems.

And when we all come home, after our healthy doses of fresh air and not-so-healthy doses of missing each other to the point we hurt, we’ll tackle the rest of that pile of little problems, because when we put our minds to something, Marc and I, we’re unstoppable.

posted by Doc at 10:29 | Permalink | 14 comments
01 October 2007
My ears totally bled
To get the full effect, turn it up loud--and remember, I was LOCKED INSIDE with them.

For my next trick, giving as how this was my stupid idea, I'll teach them the Haka...

...because they could totally scare the shit out of some folks!
posted by Doc at 16:30 | Permalink | 5 comments
A visit to the school…
Last Friday was the first time, exclusive of the first day of school of course, that we parents have been invited inside the school where Muppet is supposedly learning all kinds of new and exciting things. I say supposedly because, to hear him tell it, you’d think all he does is ride The Bus back and forth. In fact, The Bus is about all he talks about. The Bus even has a name! And the most tragic incident in his life was when The Bus Lady (not the driver, but the woman who rides with the kids to make sure they don’t do stupid things—like my son did), yelled at him (in a firm, yet correctly polite manner) because he decided to unhook his seat belt and stand up while The Bus was in motion. Yes, he was upset because The Busy Lady yelled at him, but he was even more afraid of not being allowed back on The Bus.

So last Friday, after The Bus brought him to The Bus Stop (most important piece of French real-estate ever), and after our visit to the new Village Library, and the hike/run back home while pushing an empty stroller, being drug along my Pooplette and trying to get Monkey to Just Stop Now DAMMIT Before You Get Run Over, Monkey and I set off for his school, and to see his Maîtresse.

Please tell me I’m not the only one cracked up by the idea of my three year old son having a mistress.

The place was less than packed. Either a lot of folks don’t care about meeting their kids’ teachers or Friday evening is not the time to invite the parents to the school. Or maybe those who have been there before are rather put off by sitting on teeny-tiny little-person sized benches. I, myself, am not a bench person on a good day so I can sympathize with those folks afraid of a bench that seats you in a rather GYN-visit fashion. Staring at a bunch of folks with their knees up around their ears brings back too many birth class memories for me, thankya.

The news on the battle front is all good. Monkey is doing just fine, a bit independent, a bit curious, a bit of all things boys are at his age. He’s not a trouble-maker or the class clown. I’m not too sure how I feel about that last bit—thought maybe I could pass on some ideas…. But there are moments, apparently, when he wants to do his own thing:

Now if we can just get his teacher to learn how to spell his name.

*Tear the paper into little bits and glue them on. Mathieu (sic) did it the quick way.

posted by Doc at 16:17 | Permalink | 4 comments