Sunday, September 27, 2015

"A courageous -- subversive, almost -- act of resistance"

I have all these dog-eared pages of Brigid Schulte's Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has The Time (quoted above), and yet I keep putting off actually writing about the book.  So, here are things about my life as a female parent I'm changing after having read it:

I am prioritizing my need for play.  It has always been difficult for me to really take time for myself that is equal to the time Patrick takes weekly with his two bands and the shows that other people schedule (for here, for Charlottesville, for Philly).  I cannot change the band, so it does require that I give up some things; a fire pit hangout at a friend's house got trumped by being the parent at home while the other parent plays drums in Cville -- though my biggest question was more along the lines of, "There are metalheads in Charlottesville??  Where???  Poor souls."

But within the framework of my marriage, there are still some things I can do even while being flexible with the bands.  (Because who wants to be the perceived Yoko (who didn't even actually break up the band! Yet gets the finger-pointing blame!)?  Nobody.  It is hard to be a ~band wife~ (that sounds so gross, I hate defining myself as a _____ wife, yuck, never doing that again not even with ~~) when there's such a stigma against interfering in any way.  I did put my foot down about the band paying for a sitter the last time there was a show that interfered with my job though, and they ponied up, so there's that.))

Anyway.  I'm doing more for me.  I'm starting up riding lessons again as soon as I can.  It's something just for me, that brings me joy, and dammit, I refuse to find a hobby that I can do at home easily, because all these sanctioned, safe female hobbies are things done in the home and it's a TRAP.  This isn't to say quilting and knitting and cooking aren't good things, it's that the way society views women's -- especially mothers' -- hobbies is through a framework of things that are done for the family, for the good of others, and I want something that's entirely my own that I do for fun and out of zero sense of obligation or necessity/health (aka, exercise is not the leisure I'm after).

I want to play for the sake of play with it having nothing to do with productivity or professional development or motherhood, and I'm going to be doing way more of that.

I have the urge to go, "World's best mom, lol" here but no.  That kind of wry self-belittlement about taking time for myself is no longer allowed in House DeRoche.

Monday, September 7, 2015

All the posts I didn't publish

There is never enough time.  I finally started reading that book about time, and I don't ever seem to find the time to read as much as I want of it.


Bedtime sometimes takes an hour and a half of sobbing.  Sometimes it takes 30 seconds.  There is no way to predict which it will be!


First Gestures
by Julia Spicher Kasdorf

Among the first we learn is good-bye,
your tiny wrist between Dad’s forefinger
and thumb forced to wave bye-bye to Mom,
whose hand sails brightly behind a windshield.
Then it’s done to make us follow:
in a crowded mall, a woman waves, “Bye,
we’re leaving," and her son stands firm
sobbing, until at last he runs after her,
among shoppers drifting like sharks
who must drag their great hulks
underwater, even in sleep, or drown.

Living, we cover vast territories;
imagine your life drawn on a map--
a scribble on the town where you grew up,
each bus trip traced between school
and home, or a clean line across the sea
to a place you flew once. Think of the time
and things we accumulate, all the while growing
more conscious of losing and leaving. Aging,
our bodies collect wrinkles and scars
for each place the world would not give
under our weight. Our thoughts get laced
with strange aches, sweet as the final chord
that hangs in a guitar’s blond torso.

Think how a particular ridge of hills
from a summer of your childhood grows
in significance, or one hour of light--
late afternoon, say, when thick sun flings
the shadow of Virginia creeper vines
across the wall of a tiny, white room
where a girl makes love for the first time.
Its leaves tremble like small hands
against the screen while she weeps
in the arms of her bewildered lover.
She’s too young to see that as we gather
losses, we may also grow in love;
as in passion, the body shudders
and clutches what it must release.


Sometimes I feel like I don't talk about hard stuff here anymore.  It's not that hard stuff doesn't exist in my life, it's that a lot of it feels very pedestrian.  Constant exhaustion from a long commute that we sometimes argue about, and which at the end of the day logic decrees is mostly my domain (fuck you, logic); trying to navigate friendships into our thirties (thank god for uncomplicated people);


I don’t know anything about light, from where
it comes nor where it goes,
I only want the light to light up,
I do not ask to the night
I wait for it and it envelops me,
And so you, bread and light
And shadow are.

--Excerpt from And because Love battles, by Pablo Neruda

When I have a horrible no-good rotten weekend (as is inevitable in our endless numbered days) I am going to look back on this weekend and it will warm my soul-y bits.  I hesitate to use the word perfect, because there were the imperfect moments--but nothing so terrible as to cloud the weekend as a whole.  It was close to perfect.  We listened to Kaki King and let it filter through the house for hours, we baked challah bread for the first time, we took multiple walks so we can try and get our overweight Corgi down a few pounds.  It was good.  Really good.

I struggle a lot with feeling a weight of pressure to be "on" every moment I'm with the baby, though.

Interlude: I should note, I'm writing this while the baby is screaming over the monitor.  She's just tired.  She is fine -- I've checked!  It is so hard to write while there is screaming that does not end.  No wonder fewer women are published.  They should make a FitBit that tracks every time your "flow" gets interrupted -- like the sleep tracker, but...better?  Or more demoralizing?  

Interlude the Second: Screaming has been soothed!  We'll see how far that gets me...

So.  I struggle a lot with feeling a weight of pressure to be "on" every moment I'm with the baby.  Not just the picnic-ing, but the mundane stuff that happens in the home, too.  I feel like working full-time outside the home is definitely a good fit for me, but it is tiring--Monday mornings I work the 1-9 shift, which means I'm on baby duty alone on the morning after the weekend of trading and sharing baby duties, and I'll be honest: I sometimes look forward to Monday mornings and sometimes, they are also hard.  I'm exhausted from the weekend of being "on" but also gearing up for the workweek where I have to be ON on, and thinking ahead to projects, and basically straddling the weekend and the workweek in this final few hours of in-between-ness.

Is it because I'm not with her during the week that makes the weekend hard, that makes those solo Monday mornings hard?  It's not that I can't parent as well during these times--it's that I feel like it is so draining because I'm not there for her weekly daily routine, I'm not there to read all those cues, and I don't feel guilty over that, but not feeling guilty for being my family's head breadwinner doesn't mean it doesn't cause exhaustion, fatigue, and frustration from time to time.  M-F (and sometimes Sat when I'm the Saturday Librarian) I see my daughter for about an hour, tops.  So, when it's suddenly multiple hours in a day, it's this weird jarring experience.  I don't transition smoothly, ripple-free, from being on the library management team with my head in the workflow to being a parent at home trying not make sure my baby doesn't lick the walls, comforting, maintaining CONSTANT VIGILANCE, and trying to write stuff in the in-between moments (freelance work with deadlines, stuff I promised friends I'd write).


I looked at all the drafts in my blog queue, and decided to hell with it, here's everything.  A blog post buffet.  Funnily, most of these things (as is typical in life) have smoothed themselves over (we split the commute, defying logic, for example) or are no longer frustrations (she's sleeping with very little fussing before bed now).  Or are actively being smoothed.  I guess not having much to blog about isn't a bad thing?  My daughter is a delight.  Sometimes parenthood and partnerships are hard, and sometimes they are not hard at all.  My career brings me a lot of satisfaction and stress in turns.  Patrick has an interview on Monday for his, which would be great, Universe, if that could come through.  But you know, we're captive on the carousel of time, the painted ponies go up and down, etc.

I want to bottle everything up.  But I don't know how to do that anymore.  Everything seems to slip through my fingers.  It's like trying to gather up chicks.  Or bottle fog.

Friday, July 24, 2015

One morning

One morning we went to Scuffletown park.  It was glorious.  

It's funny I got these sent to me today, since earlier this morning when I went to drop off Winnie with my mom, my dad had a bunch of old family photographs spread out on the dining room table.  It was a family-photo centric day.  We don't have a particularly detailed family history -- I know there was Ellis Island in the not-too-distant past.  A few other random things.  Not much, really.  But I've seen so few photographs so when I saw a great-grandparent wedding photo, I was struck to see someone with features that resembled my own, because I've never seen a glimpse that far back before.  

This is why I love family photos.  Because they mean something now.  And they will mean something later, too (I hope) to people I may never even see.  We are but a blip.  A wonderful, wonderful blip.

A huge thanks to the lovely Sara Jones for taking these photos for us so very early in the morning, and for being so wonderful.  She was kind enough to auction off her talents for my brother to go to Tanzania.  (I would link to her work, but she's teaching instead of doing pro-photography right now.  We got so very lucky to pull her out of retirement!)   <3

Friday, July 17, 2015

That thing

That thing where you write an honest post about marriage and finances and how it's no fun to be the family fun police/nag, and then you realize it's probably too personal for a public blog, but you wrote all these pithy asides and what's the point of being so CHARMINGLY WITTY if it's just going into the paper journal?

So I guess my point here is that if when I die Google Drive is still a thing, that's where the real juicy stuff is.  Ignore that paper journal, y'all.  Yawnsville.

[Insert commentary about the nature of the public vs private self and the age of instant digital sharing, etc.]

Thursday, July 9, 2015


Sometimes, I look at her and I see a baby.  Sometimes, I look at her and I see a toddler.  Other times, I see a young woman, hiding in there -- who will that young woman be?  Will I meet her in the blink of an eye?  Who is my daughter now, who is my daughter becoming?  

We celebrated her first birthday at Scuffletown Park.  It is one of our/my favorite places in Richmond, and one of the places I missed most when we left (thankfully) briefly.  I love that I can share this place with her.  That I can share all my loves with her.  Pocket parks.  Green grassy places for bare feet.  Chimes that aren't too insistent, just chimey enough.  Hidden places not immediately knowable -- secret spots known only to people who have discovered them, or people who have asked.

I wore rabbits.  I remember wearing a different rabbit shirt when we went to the clinic.  I wore rabbits because I wanted every shred of luck I could conjure up.  Now I wear rabbits to celebrate.  She fills my heart with springing joy.  A whole bunny warren lives in my heart now.

I want to help her become the best version of herself.  I know she's helping me become a better version of myself, that's for sure.  Parenthood has made me more direct.  More grateful.  More open, more honest.  I have fewer figs to give.  Is that a good life lesson to learn?  To give fewer figs?  It feels grand.

So, my sugar plum, my ginger snap, you are one.  You love when Patrick or I take off our glasses -- perhaps you can see our eyes better?  You love rubber ducks.  You love risotto.  You are a discerning giggler.  You think dogs are funny.  You are gentle.  You like being surprised.  You are a wiggler, never still, not for a moment.

Who will you be next year?

Friday, June 12, 2015

Muumuu madness!

who wore it better?

Oh hai, blog-I-haven't-updated-in-over-a-month.


I took over project management of the library's summer reading/learning program.  INSANITY.  I basically do that all day (back-end website stuff -- it's The Great Reading Adventure open-source stuff if you're nosy) then come home, and write 2,000 words or so of freelance/eBook material, watch some OITNB, then go to sleep, rinse, repeat.  The good news is I am being super productive, hustling at work and rocking at it (*preen*).  The bad news is, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz lol blogging nope!  I'm still writing the Wee Morning Tea updates on Thursday mornings when I can, but I'll admit that the summer reading program has basically sucked up all of my headspace.  

And yet.

I really like digging into huge projects like this.  I feel so ALIVE when I'm doing them and Making It Happen. 

Am I seeing Winnie as often as I would like?  No.  And the days I'm home with her longer than an hour, I'm often trying to figure out how to spend that time as wisely as possible.  But that will change as she gets older and bedtime isn't at 7pm.  Summertime is bliss because we can sit outside on the lawn for 15 minutes before bed with bubbles.

Life is so good.  EXHAUSTING.  But good.  

I am slowly learning that life is what you make of it.  You can either step up and tackle shit, or you can...not.  I choose to say yes, I will tackle this.  And this, and this, and this, and that, and this.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Spring cleaning, KonMari-style (cuz we're trendy like that)

My house has become embarrassingly messy.  All except for the nursery, which I'm rather proud of, because it's orderly.  Orderly!  As for the rest of the house, I have photos to motivate myself into some sort of before-after transformaaaaation.

I'm trying the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up book that everyone's been raving about, partly because we need to tidy and I don't like having a lot of STUFF that has no reason for being in my house, and partly because the doctor told me I'm not healing well from my surgery and they think I'm dealing with some major allergy of some kind, so it's time to SERIOUSLY assess what we can do because I am not going through that surgery again.  Throwing out stuff that gathers dust is a good place to start.  

Kondo was a quick read, and I appreciated that its approach is very minimalist, and argues firmly against merely organizing stuff (all those life-hacks for sorting your shoes, keeping your collection of scarves in order, etc are No Good in KonMari world) and more for the drastic reduction in the amount of stuff.  The problem with the KonMari method of cleaning is that (LIKE ALL OF LIFE) it works better if you have money.  Getting rid of stuff and saying if you really need it again later, just buy another is fine and dandy if you have money to spare.  It's probably easy to pare down clothes to only the things that "spark joy" if you have a fair amount of clothes from which to choose.  That said, I still managed to cull a ton, so that probably speaks in favor of the KonMari method in that even though I don't have a knee-deep pile of tops to choose from, I still weeded and felt refreshed for doing it.  Point Marie.

I appreciate the concept of acknowledging that things can bring us a certain kind of pleasure, and that happiness things brought us doesn't have to be stretched through infinity until we die with a house full of stuff that at one time brought us a spark of joy.  Things can be enjoyed fully and deeply, and then gently let go once they've completed the job they came to do.  You don't have to drag everything out.  It seems very pragmatic and practical to assess things not by what they have given us, or might give us in the future, but by what they're contributing to our lives now.  The practical nature of this type of assessment speaks to my sensibilities.  

Of course, we're nowhere near done.  

Clearly.  Ugh.  The bedroom became the dumping ground for all the little things without homes in the house post-baby, AND we took down some stuff from the walls because when we had the crib in the room, it was up against that wall there.  So now the crib is in the nursery and the dresser is back where it belongs but the walls are bare and sad.  And since we don't own, we aren't investing in painting the ick walls.  D:

Here, have some pictures of a cute out-of-focus baby instead.

So many socks have been found.  So many socks, so few mates.  Sorry socks.

Wrist chub!