Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Wouldn't it Be Funny?

Wouldn't it be funny if, now that I'm free most of the day, I hired myself out to homeschooling moms as a tutor/schoolwork supervisor so they could have extra time to themselves? I don't think my kids would think it was that funny. Some of them (I won't name names) are asking (regularly and loudly) to go back to homeschooling. I am standing by my decision to send them to public school despite the teeny incidents involving other children who: eat hand santizer; act like total brats; don't take their meds and therefore are exceedingly disruptive. Yep, in three weeks I've seen each of those things and more! Just ask! I've been telling the stories non-stop and I have them honed so they're pretty funny when you're not crying about them.

Anyhoo.... back to the subject at hand, which, contrary to appearances isn't homeschooling or public schooling -- but hiring myself out. Let me catch you up on what I've been thinking:

I gotta get a job.

I gotta take some time off now that I'm not full-time mothering small children or homeschooling.

I gotta get a job.

There's no way I can work and still deal with the drop-offs, the pick-ups, the homework, the meal-planning, the grocery-shopping, the errands, the housecleaning, the laundry, the Facebook, the coffee-drinking, the book-writing, the...

I need to work to earn money because suddenly I have a kid in ninth grade. Ninth! He's an official high-schooler with official plans to be a college-goer and before you can say "Geez, he's tall! I remember when he was a wee lad!" I'm going to need some resources to at least partially support him in his pursuit of higher education. After all, I want him to be successful and happy so I can finally let go of all the guilt over how bad I think I've botched this most days AND so he can help support Kevin and I on our trips to Europe in our senior-citizenhood since we could never afford it when the kids were growing up.

If I work, I will be miserable and bored because I can't think of one single job I would enjoy that doesn't require another degree or two. And if I take the time to pursue another degree or two - there goes all that time I could have been earning money! And there goes all that money I could have put aside for degrees for my kids! Today, as I poured my coffee, I had a revelation: If I get started now, and work my butt off, I can have a Master's degree before my oldest reaches his junior year. Then I have TWO FULL YEARS of earning before that same kid graduates and requires help with college. But then I remembered all the Master's degrees I'm interested in and how the jobs they're associated with don't pay squat - and how people who use phrases like "don't pay squat" probably won't even pass the GRE. Hell, I couldn't even remember what the GRE was called and had to text my friend for a reminder. I'm doomed.

I've read *several* (read: one) studies that say that teenagers need a parent's presence even more than young children or else they will devolve into sociopaths. If I'm going to work, better to choose something I'm not passionate about and educated for so it's not hard to leave it at the end of the day to go home and supervise the homework and the lunch-making.

If I don't work, I will find myself mid-day on a Tuesday writing a blog viewable by the public which outs me as a bored, neurotic, over-thinker who is CLEARLY drinking too much coffee.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

On Mammograms (and therefore Frigidaires, I guess)

Right on the mammogram machine there are two packets of smelling salts* taped at eye level. "Do you need those very often?" I ask the technician.

"No, not often, but when I do, it's good to have them close." She reiterates that a mammogram isn't that painful but people sometimes get "worked up" and pass out. I'm glad I'm not "worked up." I'm standing there with a gown draped first over one shoulder, then the other, trying to seem nonchalant about having my breast maneuvered onto a tray and then flattened by what really resembles a refrigerator drawer. It does, I swear. I could remove it from the machine, take it home in my purse, and fill it with fresh vegetables before installing it in my Frigidaire.**

I find myself thinking about how this is what this woman does all day long. She dons her gloves, positions other people's breasts onto the tray, then stands behind a shield and pushes the button that takes the picture of the breast. Over and over and over again. And presumably, goes to lunch mid-day and is able to think about other things. I don't envy her job, I really don't. I don't want to have a job where I may or may not have to deal with people passing out. And... I'm losing sight of the bigger picture here - I also don't want to have my hands on other people's breasts all day. I hope she earns a good salary.

Days after the mammogram experience, women get their results. I've done this before, and thankfully,  last time there wasn't anything abnormal. But my friend in California had her first mammogram within days of mine and her results were different. And then she started her cancer treatment. I'm happy to say she is here today, having survived the cancer. I sat with her after her first reconstructive surgery and thought back to when she got her results and I got mine and our paths diverged.

More recently, two more women I know got breast cancer diagnoses. So, today when I stood there trying to relax as the machine clamped down, I thought of them. Prayed for them. It hurt a little at one point and I remembered my friend's husband's description of the skin stretcher she was coping with at home as she recuperated from her mastectomy. I can handle a little pain. Especially compared to a skin stretcher. If it comes to it, I'll deal with the skin stretcher, too, if it means I get to live a little longer with my family.

Why am I talking about mammograms and breast cancer? I'm certainly not a good advocate for regular mammograms. Today's was my first in three years. I'll know the outcome in a few days. But the experience, whether it brings relief until the next one, or produces the news that changes your life, is something many of us women are going through or being encouraged to go through once a year, much like dentist appointments and pap smears. And I like to talk about things like that. Unpleasant but common experiences. Just to reiterate the "you're not alone" message that so often gets me through things like mammograms.

*ammonia inhalants, or ammonia carbonate if you want the fancier, more medically accurate term

** I do not actually own a Frigidaire-brand refrigerator but I'm not writing from home and can't actually recall what brand I own. And I'm in good company this way. Shel Silverstein used the Frigidaire brand in his lustrous poem "There's a Polar Bear in My Frigidaire." Go pick up a copy of "A Light in the Attic" and read it. It might help get your mind off the subject of mammograms.