Orange


Back when I was younger, I always listened to what “they” said.

“Don’t wear orange,” they said.

But I like orange, I thought.

“Pretty girls don’t wear orange,” they said. “Pretty girls wear pink and lavender.”

So I wore pink.

I like pink, I told myself.

“You don’t want to be a writer,” they said.

But I like to write, I thought. It’s part of who I am.

“Writers are weird. Nice girls aren’t weird.”

So I decided to study other people’s writing instead.

It’s okay, I thought. I love language, so this works, too.

“You want to be scientist,” they said. “Smart people are scientists.”

So I got a degree in a field where I could both study language and be considered a scientist.

I did what they said. I abided by their rules. I kept trying to be who they thought I should be.

And then, one day, something changed. I had children.

What “they” said still mattered. Until I realized I didn’t want my children to listen to them like I had. I didn’t want my babies to be constrained by what others thought they should be. And that I didn’t want to be like them.

I’m a writer, I thought. So I wrote. I started writing a romance novel.

“When are you going to write something someone will actually read? No one will read that,” they said.

I kept writing my romance novel, because I liked it.

“You’ll never get published,” they said. “Don’t do it anymore.”

I kept writing my novel. I submitted. Got rejected. Submitted some more.

In less than a year, I got published.

“Well, no one will ever read it.”

Meh. Some people have read my books and most people haven’t.

So I’ll keep trying.

I’m a teacher, I thought. And I’m good at it. So I started thinking of myself as more of a teacher and less as a scientist. And I discovered I never needed to feel bad about doing what I love and what I’m good at. I don’t need to be ashamed that I’m not working in a hospital anymore; I can say, “I work at an elementary school with children with autism,” and be proud of that.

What they say shouldn’t have mattered, but it did. It shaped who I became, until I took me back. Until I realized that I can wear any color I want. Until I realized I could do what I loved and be proud of it. Until I realized that everything that makes me a writer–the wild imagination, the penchant for daydreaming, and sure, the quirkiness–had always been there, and would remain there even if I never put a single word on paper.

I don’t want the kids to listen to them. I don’t want them to give up on their dreams because of what they  say, because the great and powerful they say a lot of things that are, simply put, shit.

As long as the kids aren’t hurting anyone, then whatever they decide to be will be just fine by me (I do put caveats on the dreams and aspirations, because well, there’s Dexter and Breaking Bad. Some dreams and aspirations I just can’t get behind). I don’t care what the kids do, so long as they’re doing what they love, with people they love who love them back. I hope  they don’t forget to chase their dreams. I hope they know that today’s failure is just a temporary set back. I hope they know that the only real failure is in not trying at all.

So today, the kids and I wore orange.

The Long Silence


I’ve been quiet lately.

Well, not verbally so much. Lord knows that the sound of my melodious voice continues to float the halls of my workplace. Oh, yeah, I can be heard from a mile away. By everyone except my children, but that’s a story for another day.

The last few weeks have been trying. Monk started a new school, and the rigor is…intense. I looked at her homework the first week of school, and I sort of freaked out. I mean, I had specifically asked, “What do I need to work on with her over the summer?”

The program director replied, “Oh, nothing. We’ll do that when she gets here.”

Now, bear in mind, she’s in third grade. She was introduced to multiplication in second, maybe a little division and area. We reviewed some math facts, but I didn’t teach her division because, well, it’s not a second grade standard. And, of course, the “Oh, nothing. We’ll do that when she gets here.”

She came home with homework that had to do with area of irregular shapes. For a kid who doesn’t even know division, it was tough.

But Monk has rallied, and the tears of the first few weeks of school have started to dissipate. We’re still having crying jags and panic over tests, but again, this is what she signed up for. I would have been content to keep her with me until 6th grade; she wanted the harder program.

But that’s beside the point. I guess I should just say that we have invested a considerable amount of time in her homework, and leave it at that.

Then there’s work. Work has been, well, work. Some years start off easier than others. This year has started off pretty darn hard. And Lord, for a full week, I didn’t go longer than a day without flashing someone. Sometimes it was the result of unfortunate fashion choices (super cute snap up dress, I’m talking about you), but most of it was about small hands finding collars and pulling. Or, pulling on the elastic waist skirt. That’s a fun one, too.

And it’s been busy.

I get up, make lunches and snacks for the kids, make sure everyone is packed for the day, do a load of dishes, and try to straighten up in the morning before 8AM. I’ll make myself a cup of coffee, but I won’t sit down to drink it. That happens in the car.

Then I work all day long.

After work, there are various kid activities to attend to: Scouting and piano and swimming for now; add in baseball and softball in the spring, and two kids who want to move from swimming lessons to team sometimes this winter. There’s PTA at two different schools. I’ve got a private pay client that I see once a week, and that takes a good two hours out of my after school routine (since I don’t leave school until 4:15 and they’re half an hour away, it makes for a long night). We are rarely home before 5:30. On Wednesdays, we don’t get home until 7:15.  Oh, and did I mention that I’m doing some editing, too?

By the time I come home, there’s dinner to cook, dishes to put away, a table to set, and homework to supervise. If I’m good, I’ll do the dishes at night. More often than not, they wait until morning.

I’m tired.

Tonight is laundry night, which means that I’ll be up until midnight trying to do two loads. Because I’m so disorganized that I sort of didn’t start a load until almost 10:00.

Ugh.

Anyway, something had to give. Eating out is too hard for us–with all the food allergies (and the general pickiness of my small people), it’s just easier to eat at home. That, and it’s expensive. I could cook all day on the weekends, but I’m not really organized enough to do that. So instead, I find myself pulling meat out of the freezer in the morning and hoping it defrosts well enough by the time I get home. If I’ve been really good, I have something ready to go into the crock pot in the morning.

I’m not giving up the editing and the critiquing, because I enjoy that way more than I like a clean house.

I can’t cut out helping with homework, because, well, I at least want to try to be responsible.

And I can’t flake on work until I hit the lottery or make my fortune writing books. Sadly, I think both of those things are equally likely to happen.

So, in the end, the blog was ignored.

Not because I don’t love it, because I do, but because I have other things to do with my time. I want to have a clean, organized house, because maybe then I won’t feel guilty about the chaos, but I hate to clean, and there’s so many other things that occupy my time. Writing. Editing. Work. Kids. Husband. And occasionally, I want to sleep.

I’ll never be the mom who throws Pinterest-worthy parties. Mine are slapped together at the last minute for the kids. If I’m having guests, I really only invite the people who I am pretty sure won’t judge me for my dirty house.

I’ve always maintained that I’m not trying for perfection. That I’m just trying to get to “good enough.”

Right now, I’m struggling with even “good enough.” I feel like I get stuff done, but it’s by the skin of my teeth. And my house… oh, ye gods, it is a disaster. I want to hire Stanley Steamer to come in and clean my carpets, but that means that I actually have to get the (not usually literal) crap off the floor.

“Good enough” is looking harder and harder.

I might wind up settling for mediocre.

MCC