Friday, July 29, 2011

How Much We Give Away, the Marrriage

I have always been a “closet” writer.  I write everything.  I love to journal, I love to write my thoughts and feelings at the moment or look back on an event and write what I think about it now. And one of the things I’ve taken up recently is writing quotes in a mini journal that I have.  One of the most recent quotes I found that I absolutely love and describes how I feel perfectly is:

“Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away”
                                                --Barbara DeAngelis

Spot on!!  Le pegaste al clavo!!  (You hit the nail on the head)And it doesn’t only describe me.  It describes every woman out there!!

So, that started me thinking about how much of myself I give away on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis.  And honestly, I don’t know how there’s any of me left!!  I think the fairer question is “How much don’t I give away?!”  I’m gonna take you on a trip with me and I’m sure most of you will relate to my story.

I’m not going to pretend that my childhood was sad and difficult.  It wasn't and neither were my teenage years.  They were pretty quiet and uneventful.  I am an only child and my childhood was pretty boring or average and any boyfriends I had were not serious until I met my now husband.  So, before marriage, I didn’t give away too much of myself.  But after marriage, boy did that change!  I wasn’t just responsible for myself anymore, now I was also responsible for my husband, too.  

Now, ladies, please think about this:  If you were to leave on vacation, today,  for a week, without any warning, just a note that says "See you in a week, have fun, don't tie up the kids, don't burn down the house", would your husband survive in one piece and with all his sanity? Don't try to be nice and give him the benefit of the doubt.  Be honest.  Don’t pretend that your husband is a man who can take care of himself.  He can’t. My husband asks me on a DAILY basis, after he takes a shower, where his dirty clothes should go.  My response?: "????????????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"  and I know, chicas, that you know exactly what facial expression goes with this response because I'm sure you've used it before.  

We've been married 12 years.  The dirty clothes go in the basket that has been in the same place for 6 years (that's how long we've had our home).  The answer never changes but he still asks me.  And it never ceases to amaze me that he still asks.  And then I ask myself why am I amazed every time he asks?  I know he's going to ask.  I know what it is!!!  It's because God made me in such a way that I block out the fact that he asked me yesterday so that today won't be the day I throw the basket at him.  It's sort of like the pain of childbirth.  You felt the pain while in the process but as soon as that baby popped out you can't remember all the screaming agony.  Which is why two years later you're doing it again.  Must be some sort of survival mechanism . . .  for the husband and kids.

When I first met my husband he shared an apartment with a couple of roommates.  He was definitely the most responsible.  He was independent.  His mama raised him right.  He cooked for his roommates (they paid him, of course), and he was the tidiest man I knew.  He lived by “a place for everything and everything in its place” *cough* anal.  I’m sorry, had to clear my throat.  He cooked, he cleaned, he was tidy.  He was perfect.  Was being the operative word. 

I think that as soon as the words “I do” came out his mouth some sort of mechanism clicked in his brain that rendered him unable to perform those chores.  I think his brain gradually started playing “It Takes a Woman”, you know, the song Mr. Horace Vandergelder sings at the beginning of “Hello, Dolly” and everything slowly started shutting down.  

I think this happens on every man’s wedding day.  I'm pretty sure that if I go watch my wedding video (yes, video, no DVD) I can literally see his eyes glazing over as the process takes place.  I'm hoping it's an involuntary reaction because if I ever find out that he makes a conscious choice not to help me I might have to tie him up and use his head as a bongo drum (I love you, honey).  

Now, let me clarify, he can still do those things.  He has the ability just not the inclination.  He leaves it to me and on those rare days when he does help it’s like the heavens open up and I can hear the heavenly choir.  And the even better part is when he does help me, I'm GRATEFUL!!  Que que?!!!  When did I go from that idealistic young girl who swore that the man she married would be her equal partner to "OMG honey, thank you so much for helping me, I really appreciate it!"  Ugh, I'm not going to delve into that particular conundrum because my head might explode.  Taking care of a man is such hard work.

Stay tuned for part two of this series: How Much We Give Away, the Kids


**No husband was harmed in the making of this post.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Really?! Our Kids Need Less School?

So, I just recently found out that the Department of Education in my state is open to considering four-day school weeks.  What was my reaction to this?  I wanted to around my house screaming “Ay, Dios mio, porque? Why, God why?  Are you freaking kidding me?!”   Why would anyone (other than a teacher) want to do this?  After having regained my composure and stopped feeling sorry for myself I started thinking like a parent/adult, yes, I do that occasionally.

While I understand the reason behind this idea “school districts look for ways to save money” I very seriously wonder if this is the way to do it.  Is more time out of school to save money really worth the sacrifice?  Don’t our children need more time IN school to improve their education? Not out of school.  To be fair, I believe that they are considering making the other 4 days longer school days but I don’t think it’s a fair trade off.  Isn’t almost 3 months off for summer vacation already too much time off of school?

A recent article in Scholastic.com says that “American public schools are in crisis, experts say. Students in the U.S. are lagging behind those in China, South Korea, Germany, and other countries.”  Well, just how much is the US lagging?  Is it really that bad?  I decided to do some research and the information and the numbers are a little scary.

There’s an article in the HuffingtonPost.com that says “The United States has fallen to "average" in international education rankings” and that “America has received scores around 500 on a scale that goes up to 1,000: 487 in math, 500 in reading and 502 in science.”  Another article says that “The OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) report  ranked the United States 14th out of 34 OECD countries for reading skills, 17th for science and a below-average 25th for mathematics.” (click here for full article)

What does this mean to me?  It means that I should be worried.  These statistics are nationwide, never mind that they vary by state and by city.  My kids, ages 6, 8 and 10, have been in private school for the past 6 years.  They have never gone to public school.  This year that’s going to change.  They will be attending a public school in our area.  Even though I’ve been reassured by other parents that this school is one of the best public schools in the area, I’m still a little worried.  Kids need more time in school and parents need to reinforce that learning at home.

When I was in school I remember I loved summer vacation, we all did.  I liked not being in school and just vegetating for the entire summer (a la Phineas and Ferb style)  What I didn’t realize then that I realize now with 3 of my own rugrats is that my brain actually was vegetating.  I remember going back to school in September and the teacher “reviewing” what we learned the previous year and I could literally see the little swirls in my eyes from the overload.  When had I learned all this?  I could only conjure up little whispers of memories of possibly having heard the word algebra, or geometry, or DNA vs. RNA, blah blah blah . . .

This is exactly why the solution presented in the Scholastic.com article is SO appealing to me.  School all year around!!  It has absolutely nothing to do with that I don't want to deal with my kids over a summer break.  PERFECT! LOVE IT!!!  I am not biased whatsoever with idea.  But seriously the idea is a great, solid one.  And from what I understand there are already more than 3, 000 schools that have classes all year around.
So, moms and dads, you can stop running around your house screaming and asking God for patience not to tie them in chairs all day .  Instead go beg your school to have year around classes.  I know I am going to personally pitch my tent in front of my kid’s new school and beg and plead for them to keep my kids for the whole year.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Frenemy

Do you think of your “time of the month” as a separate person?  I’ve come to think of her as my “FRENEMY” or my “ENAMIGA”.  Someone I need to deal with because I have no choice but I hate with every fiber of my being.  By the time you’re finished reading this you’ll be putting on your bulletproof vest, picking up your weapon (a la Sucker Punch) and joining my side in this longstanding war.  Although, I’m sure most of you are already on my side of the battleground.

Over the centuries and millennia “she” has been known by many names:  Aunt Flo, the Crimson wave, my period, estar en regla, and on and on it goes.  In my personal war has “she” has become Nessa, there’s a reason for this name, and maybe someday I’ll share but not today.  Today it’s all about her. 

I hate Nessa.  La odio con toda mi alma!!  I know she does good things for me and is probably a necessity for me to stay healthy and, you know, live, but I don’t care.  I also know that I can’t blame anyone else because it’s a normal bodily function but, being me, I need to blame someone.  Someone has to pay for my pain, suffering and mental anguish (wait, can I sue her?  I mean, if a guy can sue God maybe it’ll work.  I’ll have to keep that on the back burner).  So, to keep my sanity and to save myself from cursing . . . myself, I have come to think of “Nessa” as a separate entity from the rest of my physical being.

Nessa has made me suffer the worst pain and torture I’ve endured in my life.  I mean my life is complicated enough!!  Why does she need to bother me at the most inconvenient times?!  All those times I was going to the pool and oops I can’t, it’s that time of the month.  Or all those embarrassing moments when I was still learning trying to make everything is in its place so there are no mishaps and then they still happen.  All the times I would sit for long periods of time (like, the school bleachers or in the classroom) and I finally stood up and felt that “whooshy” feeling (don’t pretend you don’t know) and I swore that I had stained my pants and everyone knew what Nessa was doing to me.  Only to then run to the bathroom and realize everything was fine there but now I’m late for my next period (ha ha) class.  Oh the horrors I’ve endured because of that chabona!!

And my husband has the nerve to say to me “Es solo una vez al mes”.  ONLY ONCE A MONTH?!!!!  Que que?!!!  Do you have a death wish?!  How would you feel if once a month you felt like someone was pulling one either side of your body as hard as they could without actually pulling your arms or legs off?!  WAIT, isn’t that how they used to torture men in Medieval times?  They attach a rope to each limb and there’s a horse tied to the other side of the rope and the horses start running in separate directions.  Yeah, dismemberment.  At least those men were lucky enough to actually die.  We have to do this every month.  How would you feel if you still had to go about your day while this is happening?  What would happen if men got periods instead of women?  I’ll tell you what, our species would die, because men can’t handle it.  Men are weak, yes I said it.  Get mad if you want.  Doesn’t matter, it’s true.  

Oh and honey, you’d better sleep with one eye open tonight because I might just strangle you in your sleep and not a single jury would convict me.  Why?  Because I didn’t do it, Nessa did.  Wouldn’t it be great if that was a valid legal argument?  (maybe it already is!)  Like a kind of split personality (please tell me I wasn't the only one who saw the series Heroes, remember Jessica and Nikki?)  “I’m sorry, judge, I didn’t mean to beat him to death with the frying pan, I blacked out and Nessa took over.” Or “I’m sorry, judge, I didn’t mean to repeatedly back my car over him, I blacked out and therefore am not responsible for what Nessa did”.  I would totally win that.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my husband but we’ve all been there and if you say you haven’t you’re lying.  It’s true.


Anyway, I hate “her”, she sucks!!  She can’t get her cycle together, she screws with my hormones, she’s messy and she makes me sick!!  And can she please send me a memo about when and where the heck she’s going to screw up my life?!!  On Tuesday, while I’m in the office?  On Friday, before I’m supposed to leave on vacation?!   On my wedding night?  On the ONE freaking weekend I have to go on quick getaway with my husband and have wild jungle drum beating sex?! When?!  When?!  Just tell me when!!

And just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, I became pregnant!!  At first it was wonderful because I didn’t see Nessa for more than nine wonderful, glorious months.  But when labor came around I remember alternately cursing her and my husband.  They were both at fault for my pregnancies, not me!!  I hadn’t had anything to do with the process.  How dare she (and he) put in me in so much pain and discomfort?!  Of course, I couldn’t blame the babies either; they weren’t at fault for this unspeakable agony they were making me suffer.  So I cursed “her” and her damn “wonderful” abilities to make the “miracle of life” possible.  Dumb miracle.

So now, I’m going into my thirties and I am done with childbirth.  I mean, seriously done, I even had my tubes tied!!! So now the question becomes why is she still around?  I’m done, go away now.  There’s no good reason for you to be here!  You have outlived your usefulness.  All you’re doing right now is pissing me off once a month or you’re pissing me off the rest of the month reminding me that I’ll see you in a few weeks. I hate you!!

And now that I have 2 girls, 10 and 6,  I'll get to deal with them and whatever they decide to call their frenemies.  I feel for them I really do, but right now it's about me and my enamiga.  I guess I should look at the bright side, she’ll be gone in about 20 years.  But until that glorious day:  Fight on ladies, fight on!!!!