Friday, January 29, 2016

Baseball, Starting School, and One Lazy Mom

The Overlord has been talking to me about wanting to play baseball. I know next to nothing about sports. Thankfully, my husband knows what's up. After talking to him about it, I realized I better start looking into getting her hooked up ASAP, because I guess it's a spring and summer thing? Who knew!?

I did some digging around and found the local Little League group. I emailed the guy in charge to ask how I could go about signing my daughter up. Apparently there's a North and South league in my area, and I had no idea which one she belonged to. It's arranged according to the which school she'd be attending, I guess. I had to find out which one that is, and while doing so found a notice on the district's webpage telling me about a New Kindergarten Information meeting.

"Well," I said to myself. "That's coincidentally convenient."

I spent the first five years of my daughter's life researching schooling up the wazoo. As you all know, I've been undecided on the matter of sending her to school or homeschooling her myself. I told myself that ultimately the decision was up to her. If she wanted to stay home, I'd school her. If she wanted to go to school, I'd send her. But a lot of factors regarding the public school system in America these days gave me reservations about sending her.

So I said to myself, "Couldn't hurt to go to this meeting to learn more." And we did. Boy am I glad we did!

First of all, I had no idea that registration could begin so early. I thought it was one of those things parents rushed to do at the end of the summer. "Holy crap my kid is five/six now! I better enroll her in school!"

To my surprise, by the end of the night at this meeting I was signing my name to a paper to schedule an appointment in which to register her for school. We did that today. A friend of mine asked me why I decided to enroll her in public school instead of homeschooling. As I told her, there are a lot of factors.

Number one: The school district impresses me. Some time last year or the year before I read in the local paper about how they are taking education to the next level and have divided the high school into four basic focus groups of learning. Kids graduating with a diploma in this district also have the opportunity to graduate with an associate's degree in something on the side. That means they're entering college at 18 as Juniors. That's pretty impressive!

The presentation showed me that in kindergarten they use tablets and computers in their daily learning, along with everything else I remember from the pre-computer age. They aren't trying to keep technology from the children, and I approve. Electronics are our future and they should be regularly exposed to them. My kids already know how to work my NOOK, the TV, the DVD player, the Wii U and more. Our library has touch screen computers they can operate on their own chock full of learning games.

An amusing and shamelessly honest factor I like to throw out is my aversion toward teaching art. I've bought finger paints and play dough and all kinds of things, but I honestly don't like my children having them because of the mess. I also don't have an artistic bone in my body and think that the Overlord will benefit from having some outside instruction on that matter.

Now... I know. There are all kinds of programs available that I can sign my kids up for if I choose to homeschool. The other factor that I'm not ashamed to admit is that I'm lazy. The thought of scouring the Internet in search of places to go to where my children can learn something about something makes me tired. I'm an introvert and don't like leaving the house. I avoid doing things at all costs.

This is probably why I keep subconsciously putting off getting my driver's license again. I let it expire a long time ago. Oops. Now I have to go through the temps process all over again. The fact that I cannot legally drive and do not even have a car of my own in which to do so puts a damper on ideas such as daily road trips for learning. Sorry, kid. I just don't want to do it.

My daughter likes people. She's very outgoing and friendly. She asks me every single day, "Where are we going today? Where are we going tomorrow?" She wants to get out and do things. Somehow I gave birth to an extrovert, and she's exhausting. I'm frankly looking forward to the five-day-a-week break from her presence. I'm not sure her sister will survive, but that's another matter.

Another thing that ultimately eased my worries and solidified my decision to send the Overlord to school was when I independently researched the dress code. I am super pleased to discover and report that the dress code is completely nondiscriminatory where regarding gender. It is all-inclusive. No "girls have to" this "because distracting to boys." I'll have to look up the high school dress code when the time comes, but so far it seems that I do not have to destroy the school for sexualizing my little girl and prioritizing the rights of boys to learn over her.

It's all very reasonable and the faculty seem like intelligent, good people. The only worry I have left is religious exposure. I have it in mind to ask about the Pledge of Allegiance at the open house before the start of the school year. If I find out standing and reciting is mandatory, there will be hell to pay. I did wince slightly when the principal of the school she'll be attending mentioned Christmas parties, but in the same breath she said Halloween parties, so I think I'll be okay with that. So long as nobody in a position of authority is shoving Jesus down my child's throat, it's all good.

And oh yeah. About baseball. We'll be registering her for that tomorrow.

All these activities are going to be the death of me.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Mournful Reminiscences

Today I am 36 years and 13 days old. My birthday was back in December, like it is every year. Four days after Christmas. Two days before the turn of the New Year. The day of my birth has always seemed to be lacking in celebration, overshadowed by these other holidays. It's the sole reason why I try to make my girls' birthdays something memorable and special, and probably why I don't like Christmas too terribly much. I didn't much at all until my girls were born.

We celebrate my birthday quietly. I don't like parties, personally. Either I've grown accustomed to the quiet of "oh by the way happy birthday" or I actually do like it this way. It was a normal day like any other. The weekend before, my husband took me to see the new Star Wars film. I'm not as big a nerd for that franchise as I am for some others, but it's nice to know that they have planned another series of films for me to look forward to seeing for my birthday for the next several years.

On our way home from the movie, my husband and I stopped at Dairy Queen for dinner. There's one right up the street from us and it's hard not to eat their every day, never mind not being able to afford to. While waiting for our food to be finished to take home, I saw an oreo cookie crunch ice cream cake in the freezer and had an unreasonable craving. I pointed it out and said, "I want that for my birthday." My husband brought it home to me on his way from work that night several days later.

Half of it is still in my freezer. Please come eat it.
This year is probably going to be the hardest for me. I'm reminded of a concept I read about in the book Motherless Daughters by Hope Edelman. Something to do with how women who have suffered the loss of their mothers trudge through the age in which they died, feeling a heavy shadow of fear and oppression, until that year passes and they can say, "I survived."

It feels utterly ridiculous for me to think that way. My mother wasn't terminally ill with some life-threatening disease that claimed her. I'm lead to believe she suffered mental illness, though. Some very strong depression in which she was on medication to try to combat. Her death certificate reads that single, pit-dropping-into-stomach word of suicide. Since discovering that "truth" in my teenage years, I have long since told myself that no matter how hard things got for me I would never be like her.

It's a conviction I've held onto strongly. I can say with satisfying honesty that there was only one point in my life in which I felt so downtrodden. And that was years and years ago, a lifetime before where I find myself now. I never attempted it. Only having the thought was enough, and I never had one like it again.

So it seems silly of me to think that I just have to make it through this year to have beat my mother's record, as it were. I can't say it's going to be hard. I like myself and my life too much. I love my husband and my children. I'm content. Though as a mother I definitely feel my daily stresses, I don't feel at all compelled to even remotely entertain the idea of ending it all. I want to see tomorrow, and all the days after it. I want to see my children grow. I want to see the adults they will become, and meet any possible grandchildren they might have of their own.

And yet... That heavy black cloud of mourning hangs heavily over me, making me think, "I only have to get through this year, and I will have surpassed her." She was 36 years and 256 days old the day she died. Her birthday was in September. She died in May. This year she will have been gone from my life for 28 years, and not a day goes by in which I do not miss her.

My father's birthday was two days ago. He would have been 72 years old. It was a cruel twist of fate that had him dying ten years, nearly precisely to the day, after my mother, his first wife. I imagine when I am 54 years old I will feel even more weighted down and terrified of the age. For that was how old he was at the time of his death, when his last and final heart attack claimed him. A family history of heart disease is more terrifying than one of suicide to bear, I think. Not to mention the breast cancer and bone cancer possibilities from my grandmothers on either side.

The one comfort I can find is in knowing, as my brother said, that my parents would be proud of the woman I have become today, of the choices I made to get where I am now. I know they would adore their grandchildren, though it saddens me beyond comprehension when I remember that they never met them. My children will never known their maternal grandparents but through pictures and the spotty memories I have of them.

I miss you terribly, Mom & Dad.
This is, I know, not the most uplifting way to start the year, but they are thoughts I felt compelled to get off my chest, to share. It has not been easy, raising my two baby girls without any parental support on my side whatsoever. I envy all my friends and neighbors who still have at least one living parent to support them, if not both. And I'm grateful for my brother, who helped me as I helped him, during the first few months of my Usurper's life.

Speaking of my Usurper... In just 23 days we will be celebrating the day of her birth, quietly. She turns three in February. Of course I have a big party planned for the weekend after her actual day of birth, but on her day we're going to go do something special as a family. I won't ruin the surprise by talking about it now. Hopefully I won't neglect to write about it later.