I was talking with someone the other day about taking risks.
The background isn't overly important but essentially this person was worried about the results of a risk that they really wanted to take. They were worried about the possible fallout. The possible negative associations and consequences.
All things that are completely normal to think about when considering risky behaviors and choices.
My thoughts for them were that the possible positive outcomes, possible positive consequences were so much better than the possible negatives that the risk was worth it. It was worth taking that leap, that jump and putting yourself out there.
I am not a huge risk taker.
I definitely don't make stupid risky choices, such as driving with no seat belts or driving after tying on a few. But I have made choices that I guess some would consider risky.
My biggest risk?
Probably carrying and giving birth to my second child.
I will never forget the well meaning nurse who, after hearing my entire situation and all of medical issues and circumstances, posed the question to me, "Is this really a pregnancy that you want to carry on?"
Yes, seriously. She, in a roundabout way, was asking if I wanted to keep the baby or possibly consider abortion.
I had been exposed to high dose radiation, as had my baby. I had a fairly serious medical condition that would require constant monitoring- weekly. This condition would also threaten my life and the life of my child. It was not a positive situation that I was in. It was so far from ideal that it resembled life alteringly bad. Her question was not unexpected. It was not meant in a mean way. It was matter of fact. It was honest. It was what she felt to be appropriate.
I was taken aback. There was a brief moment in my mind after that second line popped up that I wondered if my child would have 4 arms and be missing life sustaining parts due to my exposure and illness. There was a moment of question, of fear. But it quickly dissipated.
I looked at her, caught my breath and answered, "Yes, of course it is."
I wasn't completely sure that we were ready. I wasn't completely sure that I would be able to handle the weeks and months ahead. I wasn't completely sure that this wasn't going to kill me or the life inside of me.
But I was sure that as soon as that second line popped up I was having that baby. Regardless of anything else.
I was high risk. I saw doctors almost every week of my pregnancy, sometimes twice or three times a week. I landed in the hospital a few times for monitoring and had more blood drawn than I care to remember. And I peed in more containers than anyone should EVER have to.
The possible positive outcomes of my choice. My decision to have our baby. Which was never really a choice. It always just was. Those positives FAR outweighed any possible negative. Any possible chance that could happen.
That life FAR outweighed everything else.
I took the risk. I risked everything and yet it was nothing. It was exactly what it was supposed to be.
Risks are scary. I was terrified during my ENTIRE pregnancy.
Risks are stress inducing. My blood pressure went up and hovered somewhere around 190/100 for a good portion of time.
Risks are fabulously rewarding. I have a gorgeous carrot red haired child that most days is one of the most fabulous gifts I have ever received.
She is my greatest risk.
What is yours?
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
I was talking with someone the other day about taking risks.
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 7:44 AM
Monday, September 29, 2008
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 5:02 PM
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
A very good friend of mine informed me the other day that I could not "do it all". I needed to stop worrying about everything else and everyone else and just stop for a moment.
I hate that.
Why can't I do it all?
Why do I feel like I have to?
I'm the only one who does it right. I know exactly how I want things done and when and if I leave that up to someone else, it won't be done the right way.
Think I have some control issues?
I have a lot on my plate. All of us do. I don't care if you work outside the home or you work inside your home. I don't care if you have 1 kid or 5 kids. We all have a lot on our plates and more often than not it's too much.
What do we do about that?
Do we make the plate smaller? Weight Watchers suggests that you eat off a smaller plate so as to keep your portions smaller and thereby trick your brain into thinking you're eating a lot because your plate looks so full. Is that the trick with all we have to do, too?
Do we get rid of something or not pick from what is offered? How? What do I get rid of? Grad school? Work? My PPD group? What do I throw away? Certainly not my kids.
There is no simple solution. There is nothing out there letting us know how to do it all and still stay somewhat sane. There is nothing out there that helps us figure out what to let go of. What to give up.
It is not an option for me to make my plate smaller. I am a perpetual "overeater." My plate needs to stay platter sized so that when the new things arise, I have room for them. It is not an option for me to not tackle something. And I hate when I decide to tackle something and I have to either hand it off or postpone it.
Again, do we think I have some control issues?
Clearly, I need to learn to say no. I need to learn to say enough is enough. But I can't. I don't have it in me. I feel as if I don't do it, who will?
I don't think I'm alone in this. I have to believe that there other people, moms, dads, whomever, out there who feel the same. Who believe that they can and have to do it all.
Being busy makes me feel good. It lets me know that I'm getting things done. That things are getting accomplished. That I'm productive.
But I'm still mastering the balancing act. I'm still working on keeping my platter steady in one hand while I take on a few more things in my other hand.
I know that I can't do it all. I hate that. I know that I need to delegate. I know that others are perfectly capable. I know all of this.
Why can't I just do it? Why can't I just accept it and let others tackle something? What is stopping me?
Do you feel like you can do it all? Do you feel like you are? How do you handle it?
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 2:31 PM
Friday, September 19, 2008
*Disclaimer: This is quite the disjointed post. I think I got it all out. I think I said all I wanted to say. I think I conveyed in a way that I wanted to. But I also think this is all brain vomit. Enjoy!*
I'm young. I know that. Compared to my co-workers. Compared to some of my friends. Compared to some moms out there. Compared to a lot of people I'm young.
So, I feel like I get judged based on my age. I feel like people look at me in a different way because of my age. I feel that people don't take me as seriously because of my age.
When I started my current job the women who work in the office thought I was a new student. This was also the case at my last high school teaching job. Personally, I don't think I look THAT young but who knows?!
Last night was back to school night. Normally, I loathe back to school night but last night was not so bad. I'm having a lot more fun this year. I'm enjoying myself and my job and I think that makes a HUGE difference! At any rate, last night the parents have the opportunity to come in and go through their child's schedule and meet their teachers. Each class is brief. We give a short presentation, answer a few questions and move on. Nothing too exciting.
The look I get from parents bothers me.
They look at me as if to say "she's way too young to teach my child."
They look at me as if to say "she could not have the experience required to really handle a classroom full of kids."
They look at me as if to say "what could she possibly know about theology?"
Or maybe it's all in my head.
Maybe it's my insecurities.
Maybe I'm imagining it.
I had a parent roll their eyes at me last night. Literally. She rolled her eyes and shook her head as I described a year long project we're working on. As I talked about ways that her child could gain extra credit. She almost stopped me in my tracks.
I don't know if she was shaking her head because she thought my ideas were ridiculous.
I don't know if she was shaking her head because she knew that her daughter would never attempt the extra credit project I was suggesting.
I don't know. But I do know that I wanted to walk over to where she was sitting and punch her. I wanted to scream at her, "What the hell lady?!?!" I wanted to ask her what she found so ridiculous that she had the balls enough to sit there and roll her eyes and shake her head at me.
But I didn't.
I packed up my room. Chatted with some friends. Headed home. I drove and thought about how people perceive me. I thought about what those parents must have been thinking as they sat in my desks and hung on almost my every word. I thought about the fact that at 28 years old I've been teaching high school for more than 5 years and teaching in general for closer to 7. I thought about my age.
I don't know if my parents- meaning my students' parents- judged me based on my age. Part of me thinks they do. They don't bother me nearly as much as the other moms out there that I think judge me based on my age.
I've encountered moms that won't take my advice or thoughts on a particular subject because clearly, I'm too young and couldn't possibly know anything about childrearing. It doesn't matter that I've managed to keep two children alive for close to 4.5 years (including pregnancies). It doesn't matter that my kids have run the gamut with problems, illnesses and experiences that have given me new wisdom on things. It doesn't matter that before I had kids I was a nanny, a baby sitter, a pre school teacher.
What seems to matter to them is that I appear to be far too young to know anything. Or at least that's my perception.
Why do I think this? What makes me feel this way? Why do I care?
I think this because I've watched as moms have asked advice on something and listened to what I've had to say and then ignored it. Until another mom, older than I, gave them the same advice.
Maybe that's a trust thing. Maybe it's a comfort thing.
I'm not sure why I care. I guess it's because I feel that I've got a lot in me in terms of experience and knowledge and know how. I've got a lot to share. I'm a lot more than a number.
But maybe it's all me. Maybe I'm perceiving wrong. Maybe I'm paranoid. I really don't know.
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 7:27 AM
Sunday, September 14, 2008
I diffuse situations with humor. Not all situations, but a lot of them.
I sometimes have a hard time finding the words. Great, right? This from the person studying to be a counselor. Here's the thing though, I can find the words for strangers or for people I don't know all that well. Finding the words for friends is harder for me. It's almost impossible sometimes.
I have a friend who is hurting. She is struggling. She is having a hard time getting back to work. She desperately misses her kids. She wants to be home with them more than anything. Her pain is palpable.
I have no idea what to say to her. I offer her my shoulder. I offer her my "condolences." I offer her whatever compassion and friendship I can. She is miles away. My words, because they come in the "written" form hold so much more weight for me. I feel they should be perfect. I feel they should carry with them relief and love and kindness.
I think they carry bits and pieces of those things. But I do not think they are perfect. I do not think they convey how much hurt I feel for her. I do not think they hold the weight I want them to hold.
This is not the first time or the only time I have felt that my words do not carry the magnitude that they are meant to carry.
I don't know how to present my words so that they convey what I want them to. I don't always know what to say. I know that sometimes that is ok. But I still feel like I need to be able to come up with the right words. Come up with the words that will help. Come up with the words that will comfort.
How do I do that?
How do you come up with the words?
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 11:29 AM
Friday, September 12, 2008
I spend a lot of time on here bitching. I spent a lot of time everywhere bitching.
I bitch about my kids and how they annoy me and I need a break.
I bitch about my husband.
I bitch about my job.
I bitch and complain. Complain and bitch.
Today I went to Happy Hour with my
co-workers friends. It actually was more like Happy 3 Hours, but whatever.
I love my job. I really do. I love where I work. I love my students, even when they are total shits. I love the people I work with. I really am very happy at my job. That being said, there is always something to bitch about. There are always negatives. I just choose not to focus and harp on them. I really enjoy what I do. I hate getting up in the morning but I don't hate going there.
Spending an extra three hours with the people I work with was wonderful. I've had jobs where an extra three hours with my co-workers would have been painful. Just not the case anymore.
We laughed. We shared. We talked. And it wasn't all about work. It wasn't all about our students. It wasn't all about our jobs.
It was about us. It was about being friends. It was about community and family and bonding. It was fun and I was a little sad when it ended.
Four of us were left in the end, three of the four of us are actually pretty good friends. The fourth fit in perfectly. We parted ways and each of us went to our respective families and homes. Each of us departed and began our weekend.
I drove through the rain and thought about the past week and the conversations and experiences I've had. I thought and thought. I do that when I drive. I get lost in all of it. I get lost in my head as I listen to music and drive.
I realized something.
I am so damned lucky. Seriously. Lucky. Fortunate. Blessed.
I am so grateful.
I have the most wonderful people in my life. My husband has the most wonderful people in his life. We are blessed to have to the individuals that we do in our lives, both separately and together.
I drove home, walked into my house and was greeted by both of my kids wrapping themselves around my legs. Again, lucky. Definitely not annoyed. Those hugs wipe away any possibility of annoyance.
I listened as my son regaled me with stories from his day at school and presented me with a giant life sized portrait of himself, with 42 eyes on it. Again, lucky. And a little creeped out by the eyes.
I watched as my daughter danced around in her mismatched outfit of extra clothes because clearly she had somehow soiled the dress my husband sent her into school wearing. I laughed at her pigtails that her teacher had put in. I sat on the floor in my kitchen and she snuggled into my lap. Again, lucky.
I read over text messages from my day. Responses from a text I sent to a bunch of friends letting them know how grateful I was for them. Many of them inquiring about my mental well being and my alcohol "status". But all of them returning the sentiment. Again, lucky. And amused that they all think I would either need to be off my gourd or drunk to text them something heartfelt, rather than my normal BS texting.
One set of messages was from a friend I've known since I was 5. We lead totally different lives. But at the same time we lead very similar lives. We have been friends, in some capacity, since kindergarten. We have drifted together and apart. We have shared ups and downs. We've shared weddings(both) and babies(mine) and divorces(hers). And for her, I am lucky because I know when we come together it is as if no time has passed. We are back in my parents basement having sleepovers and watching "Dirty Dancing".
It is incredible to me the paths that we walk along and the people that accompany us. Some starting off with us and staying for the long haul. Some drifting off never to return. Some coming in and going out and coming back in. All of them important. All of them impactful.
You know, I bitch and I moan and I complain. And I whine and I vent and I bitch. I do it on here. I do it at home. I do it at work. I do it in the supermarket. But God, I am so freaking lucky. I cannot believe it took a Happy Hour, time with friends, laughing, enjoying each other's lives, to really awaken that in me again.
I forget. I don't see it always. I ignore it because sometimes the crappy shit, the annoying stuff, the whining is just easier to deal with. It's just easier to have. It's just easier to live within.
I cannot always promise that I'll remember how lucky I am. I cannot always promise that the bad stuff won't take over. I cannot always promise that I won't bitch and moan and complain. Because I know that those are promises I would never be able to keep.
I can promise to remind myself often of how lucky I am. I can promise to let those in my life know that they are valued and I am so grateful for them and I am better off because of them. I can promise to try and stop myself when I see the negative trying to overtake the positive and I will do all that I can to reverse it.
And I can definitely promise that there will be many more Happy Hours, or three, in my future.
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 9:21 PM
I shared my little black box with you below and it's entertaining. I'd like you to go and read something else today.
Oh The Joys has posted an editorial from a friend of hers and I think it bears sharing. Go take a look.
I try to stay away from politics but, like OTJ, I think it's an important perspective to consider.
Oh, The Joys
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 12:07 PM
Click the black box or the satin right in the middle and don't blame me if you can't walk away from your computer once you start.....I blame her
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 12:02 PM
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I'm sure this topic is going to be all over the blogosphere today. As it should be.
It should be all over everywhere.
Do you remember? Can you say exactly where you were and exactly what you were doing when it happened or when you found out?
I wasn't alive when Kennedy was shot but my parents were. They can recall pretty vividly that day. They can recall random details and moments about that day. It lives for them on November 22nd each year. But really, I don't think it's the same.
I was alive for the Challenger. It was the day before my birthday. I remember it. Sort of. Again, I don't think it's really the same.
September 11, 2001 I remember. I see it in my head. I relive those moments.
I was not in the city. As a matter of fact I was in Philadelphia that morning. I was living there. I was a senior in college. One stage of my life was ending and another was getting ready to begin.
Like everyone else, life was going.
I skipped class that morning. Ethics. I'm not sure why. I was tired, I guess. But I did. I slept in. I slept through my home phone ringing again and again. I slept through my cell phone ringing again and again. In my half sleep I thought it was my professor calling to find out why I wasn't in class.
Finally, I got out of bed. Finally, I answered the phone. It was my mom. The moment I heard her voice I thought for sure she was calling to tell me my grandfather had died.
I was wrong.
Planes were flying into buildings. I needed to come home before they shut down Philadelphia. NOW.
I turned on the TV. I saw the second plane hit. I nearly vomited my empty stomach. I hung up the phone. Maybe I showered. Maybe not. I made a point of grabbing my dirty laundry. I loaded myself and as much crap as possible into my dad's Volvo that I had for some reason. I can't remember why. And I fled.
I drove fast that day. The fastest I had ever driven. Everyone seemed to be driving fast. Everyone seemed to be fleeing.
I cried most of the way home. I listened to the radio, unable to tear myself from the news. I listened as the first tower came down. I listened as speculations flew over the airwaves. I listened as silence came over the NY airwaves. I searched for any news that I could.
As I drove I called people. I called everyone I could. Everyone I could think of. I was dating my husband at the time. I must have called his phone and his cell phone 25 times in a 5 minute period. The phone lines were tied up but even when they weren't he was not answering.
He had no reason to be in the city that day. He really had no reason to be in the city at all, ever. He wasn't in the city but I was sure that he had woken up that morning, extra early, and decided to take a trip into NY.
He was upstairs. His father had woken him up just after the first plane hit. They were watching the coverage. He was fine. I drove on.
I arrived home. Home, 35 minutes from the city. Home, where from the right vantage point you could see the plumes of smoke. Home.
I watched coverage until I could watch no more. There was nothing anyone could tell us. It was what it was. We called to make sure people were ok. We awaited word on those that might not be. My sister went into the city that day. She was a first responder. She worked for the Red Cross then. She has had Bronchitis and Pneumonia a number of times in the past 7 years. Life has changed.
I finally went into work. I went to the job that I worked at on the weekends and during the summer. They were my second family and a community. I could not sit at home any longer. I could not watch the coverage.
Work was a distraction. Until it wasn't. Until the trains started emptying. Until the people were getting over the bridges and off the buses. Until they started coming into my work, my store. Then it stopped being a distraction and became a reminder of the reality.
I will never forget the man who came into the store in his business attire. He was dressed nicely. He had his wife and child with him. His pants were khaki. His shirt was blue. He was covered in blood. I didn't know whether to cry or vomit. He paid for his items and you could see the strain and stress on his face. And they left. They were going to get donuts because his son wanted some Munchkins. I don't know why they told me that, but they did.
I can't even begin to tell you the things I learned about people that day. The things they shared. The number of people who came into my store covered in dust or blood or dirt or debris. The number of people with tear stained faces.
They marked me. They marked my brain and my heart. They are there forever. The people I knew that no longer are, are there forever. I still see my neighbor jogging even though he perished when one of the towers came down. I see him jogging through my old neighborhood with his walkman wrapped around his upper arm. I see his face as clear as day.
I had nightmares for a long time after that day. Nightmares about being on the planes. Being with those men that flew the planes into the buildings and into the field. Seeing their photos burned into my brain. They still are. I think they always will be. Those faces haunt me. Frighten me.
That night I lay in my childhood bed at my home, the windows open. And I listened. I listened as helicopters flew overhead. I listened as fighter jets patrolled the airspace. I listened to sounds that I never thought I would ever hear. Sounds that signaled a beginning that I was not ready for. Sounds that penetrate the heart and mind.
Seven years ago a new stage of life began in a way that no one expected. Today, I remember it as if it were yesterday. Today, I think of it and it makes me sad.
I hope to never hear those sounds again. I hope to never see images like that again.
I hope that our beginnings come from good from now on and the images that haunt us are those of laughter and happiness.
I hope for peace. But I always remember.
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 7:29 AM
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
I've had this post about guilt brewing for the past few days but I just haven't been able to sit down and write it.
I will. Maybe today.
Right now, though, I am in such a foul freaking mood.
My daughter brought home the daycare plague. You know the one. That cold and runny nose that never goes away. At least not until it either become pneumonia or you take them out of daycare. Since she is a bottomless pit of food and likes to taste everything we eat, even after she's consumed 4 chicken nuggets, two pieces of cheese, 3 strawberries, a cup of milk (we're not dairy free anymore), some grapes, some corn, and half of her brother's dinner, she has been eating off my plate and off my utensils. She has ever so kindly shared her "disease" with me.
I was out cold by 7:30 last night. DEAD.TO.THE.WORLD.
I was not ready to get out of bed at 5:15 this morning. So I didn't. I got out at 5:35 instead.
I awoke in a foul mood. I'm not really sure why.
I couldn't find anything to wear and when I did I decided that it looked like crap but I was late and I wasn't changing.
I decided to only dry a piece of my hair...my "side bangs" so that they looked halfway decent. Now the rest of my hair looks like crap rolled over. Half curly, half frizzy, half shitty.
I left my lunch at home. I left my giant water bottle at home. I had to eat a Fiber One bar for breakfast and while it was tasty I know I'll be paying for it later.
I have not waxed my eyebrows in weeks and I'm approaching Bert status.
FYI-I had this awesome shot of Bert and Ernie but because the internet blows ass right now at work, I can't put it up!! Why doesn't Ernie have eyebrows?!?!
The internet is spotty, at best, at work right now which sucks because it hinders EVERYTHING I need to do!!
One of my bfs has been away since Saturday and I've had no one, except the husband, to vent to. And venting to him just doesn't always work. Plus, he doesn't always enjoy it when I yell at him about him!
I am spitting fire right now. I have no clue why. Well, it could be because I feel like crap and I'm totally disorganized and grad school starts this week but no one let us, the students, know and I really need a break from-uh- life at this point!
When is Summer vacation?
Anyone else need to vent.....feel free...the comments are waiting!
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 7:36 AM
Thursday, September 4, 2008
The back to school outfits are laid out.
The Lunches are packed.
The diapers, wipes and extra big boy underpants are sitting on the front seat of the husband's car.
The extra clothes are just waiting to be worn after a good soiling or some mud on the kids' "real" outfits.
Everything is set.
Tomorrow my boy goes to Pre-K 4. I found that out today. We were unsure of which class he'd be heading to but when I called today to discuss potty issues we decided on the 4s. WOW. He's too advanced to be in 3s. 4s will suit him well.
I'm sorry when exactly did I have a 4 year old child. Or almost 4 year old child.
The girl? Well, she'll be in the toddler room. With 2 year olds. She's talking too much and, again, too advanced, to be with the babies. Good lord. And they, the school, is perfectly ok with potty training her. So, she'll probably start seriously in the next week or two.
Tomorrow my kids go back to school and I'm not sure how I'll handle it or how they will.
I'm busy at work tomorrow. I think I'll be ok. I have a feeling I may be in K or F's rooms temporarily wallowing but I don't think it will be bad. Maybe a tear or two shed. Not sure.
The part I'm most upset about? I won't be here tomorrow morning to take the pictures. I won't see them off on their first day of school. I won't be dropping them off. I won't be here when they walk out the door.
That upsets me.
There is nothing for the husband to do tomorrow morning except dress our children and get them out the door. EVERYTHING is done for him. I made sure that it was complete so that tomorrow he could take the pictures. He could document the first day of school for me. He could make sure I see their back to school outfits before they are soiled with pee or mud.
I worry about the kids, too. I worry that my son will have potty issues. But then I think that this may be the very best thing for him. He will be surrounded by kids who don't crap their pants on a regular basis. There will be peer pressure. Hopefully, we'll come out of tomorrow and maybe next week and be done with pull ups except for bedtime.
I worry that my girl, my precious little princess who is a monster in her own right, will have separation issues. She's a tough little cookie but strangers are not her favorite by any means right now. I think the new toys and other kids will help the situation but there is a little part of me that is glad to not be there when she gets dropped off. It would just break my heart too much if she cried when I left.
Tomorrow is the first day of school for my kids and I think it's going to be great. I think it's going to be hard and I'm going to miss them. Even more than I have the past few days. I think it's going to be fun for them once they get settled and comfortable. I think it's going to be a mixed bag and it's exactly what's supposed to be happening.
Tomorrow my kids go back to school and I'm sad that I'm going to miss it. But I cannot wait to hear the stories and get the hugs and kisses when I pick them up. Sometimes that makes it all worth it.
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 10:07 PM
A few weeks ago Momo did a post about smells. Smells that bring back memories. She asked us. her readers, to try and name what smells made us remember. At the time, the only one I could really remember- and it was only because Momo brought it up herself- was the smell of the hospital from when the boy was in there. I cannot smell antiseptic or hand sanitizer without being brought back to those days instantly.
Since she wrote that post I have not been able to get it out of my head. Each time I smell something and it triggers a memory it brings me right back. It instantly reminds me of her post and makes me focus on the memory.
Lately, I've found that I've been remembering a lot more. But it's not just smells.
My triggers and smells and moments.
I walked into the gymnasium at the school in which I teach and I was immediately brought back to February of 1995. I teach at a school that has my high school alma mater as a rival. We both had, and have, incredible basketball teams. We fought each other on the soccer field and the softball field. We were rivals in every sense of the word.
My basketball career was cut short on the court at the school in which I currently teach. I was a freshman in high school. I was starting on the JV team and swinging up to the Varsity team regularly. I was really doing well. I had coaches that encouraged me. I was having a pretty good time after a rocky start with grades. I remember the ride in the school van to the game. Our coach was a psycho driver. The windows didn't open on the van all the way and he was a dipper. He would spit into a gatorade bottle and then open the van door to dump his "juice" out. It was gross.
I was the only one "Brave" enough to sit shot gun.
It was supposed to snow that night. My dad was meeting me at the game. We were all geared up and excited for this contest. It was going to be a great game most likely followed the next day by a snow day.
It was early in the game. Probably close to second quarter, maybe about halfway through. We were on offense. I was down on the post and I planted my left foot and was trying to get free. The point guard, a sophomore girl who was pretty ok but basketball was not her ticket to celebrity or college, was bringing the ball down and looking to me under the basket. She wanted to get the ball underneath so we could score.
I was ready. Planted. I pivoted. And that was it.
The action was so fluid and effortless I don't remember how it even happened. I had made that move a million times before and never had the end result be what it was. I twisted, my leg twisted and yet it didn't. I wanted it to twist. I wanted it to turn towards the ball and be ready to turn and make the layup.
No. Such. Luck.
My leg stayed where it was, my knee did not. That was it. I was done. I was on the floor and could see that everything was wrong with my left leg. Things were in places where they were not supposed to be. I remember screaming. I remember the pain. I remember the sounds. I remember the way the bleachers looked full of people from my spot on the floor. I remember all of it.
Everytime I walk back into that gym and I smell it. The smell of varnish mixed with sweat. I remember. It's my trigger. It's my reminder of when I first allowed fear to take over.
I tried to get back in the game that night. No one would let me. I spent weeks on crutches and in therapy. I sat at practices and eagerly awaited the day that I could return. It did not come that season. I was not allowed to return my freshman season.
I chose not to return my sophomore. My fear of injury and pain and failure wouldn't permit me to. I wouldn't allow myself.
I smell that gymnasium on a daily basis now. My first year teaching was a constant reminder each time we held an event in there. Each time I saw a game. Each time I walked past. A constant reminder of how I allowed fear to take away one of the things I loved the most. One of the things that could have gotten me college for free at D-III school.
I was young. I was afraid. I hated pain. And it was easy to give in to the fear.
The car accident I had last year happened moments from my house. It happened on a road that I drive every day. On a curve that I take just about any time I go some place.
I don't remember every time I drive that road or that curve. But the times that I do, the memories are vivid and painful.
I remember seeing the car come at me. I remember thinking, "Oh, Shit, they're going to hit me." I think I may have even said that out loud. I remember the moments after when my children were silent and I was afraid to turn around for fear of what I'd see. I remember calling 911. I remember the phone call I made to my parents after my husband. I was hysterical. I remember hanging up with my mother and wanting to just pass out and the EMT in the car with me, not allowing me to. I remember the pain and the rain as they removed in my collar and on the back board.
All of those images run through my head when I remember that day. And more often than they bring me to tears. They regurgitate all of my fears from that day and the days that follow. Those images are what make me afraid to drive some days.
Those images, like that smell, are what keep the fear alive.
After getting hurt and abandoning my beloved sport I knew that I never wanted to allow fear to reign supreme again. I knew that I couldn't allow it.
In the weeks and months that followed the accident I worked very hard to put the fears aside. I worked very hard to get back into my car and drive it without thinking about every single other driver plowing into me. I worked very hard to feel comfortable in cars where other people were driving and I was not in control.
I worked very hard to make sure that I did not allow the fear to stop my life and take over.
The triggers are still there. They always will be. There will always be the memories and sometimes they may make me pause but they will not stop me.
The smells and the moments are not all bad. I recall the good things too. But sometimes the fear is what overwhelms us. The pain and the memories. It's in those times that I try and recall the good things. I try and remember the good smells and the good moments so that they can replace the fears and create new triggers.
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 7:33 AM
Monday, September 1, 2008
I can't tell you exactly when it was.
I can't tell you exactly where it was.
I can't tell you exactly you what brought it on.
I can tell you exactly what I was wearing. Jeans and a hot pink polo. My hair was in a ponytail.
I was probably at a family party. I think it may have even been an in laws' party. It may have been after the party.
It was Summertime. I think. I can't really be sure.
The husband was there. I don't think we talked about this. The boy was walking at this point.
I don't know why I remember what I was wearing or what my hair looked like and not anything else that could be significant.
What I remember were the thoughts that I had before my second child came to be. Before she came into our lives unexpectedly.
What I remember crystal clear was thinking how nice it was that the husband and I were coming out of that baby stage with the boy. We had a great baby sitter which meant we had alone time and date nights and time as a couple. The boy was at an age where, at parties and gatherings, he could play with other kids a bit and we didn't have to be on top of him completely. We could trade off responsibility. There were no more middle of the night feedings, there hadn't been for months. We were off formula. It was like we were starting this whole new chapter of our life as a family. It was freeing, in a sense.
I knew that we wanted more kids. I was just beginning to think that maybe we didn't want them so soon. Maybe it would be ok if they were further apart than we had originally thought. My sister and I are close to 6.5 years apart and while I had a sibling, I also had the chance to be alone. It was a nice balance, most of the time.
I envisioned our son being 3 or 4 years old and running into a hospital room to meet his new baby sister or brother. I envisioned mornings dropping the boy at pre-school and his new infant sibling and I going to the supermarket and the park and mommy groups and gymboree. I envisioned the years before those mornings being all about the boy and our family of three.
I was young. I had plenty of time. I had no concerns of infertility or complicated pregnancies. And I really was not in the mood to relive the pregnancy I had with the boy any time soon.
We had no plans to have another baby any time soon. It just wasn't right, yet.
Less than 4 months later I took my 5th pregnancy in a week and it came back positive. Life had already begun to change.
No longer would my visions be of the boy being 3 or 4 and waltzing into the hospital room. It was more like 2.
No longer would it be a family of 3. It was at least 4 from now on.
No longer could we trade off or play a zone defense. It was now one on one or man to man with our kids.
Life was different and unexpected and scary and out of control.
I would share with you what I was wearing when that test came back positive but I don't know that I remember. I do know that I have no idea whether or not I washed my hair in the shower that morning.
Two years ago this week I was a month pregnant.
Now I am the mother of two kids and life is still different and unexpected and out of control.
Now I am quickly approaching 30 and the question of infertility is more than a real possibility.
Now I am looking forward to exiting another baby stage and getting rid of all and every diaper in my house, car and desk.
And yet the wonder still looms. Is two where we stop? Is my last pregnancy really the one I want to remember as my last? Am I really ok with never feeling a baby move inside me again? Am I really sure that I could never attempt natural childbirth again?
I don't know.
I know that right now another baby, another child, is not in the cards. At least not in the current hand we've been dealt. We may have to toss a few cards in the years to come and see what comes back. I'm hoping for a Royal Flush, but we'll see.
I wonder if a few years from now, if there is a positive pregnancy test, if I'll remember this night? If I'll remember what I'm wearing and what's on the TV or how I spent my day?
Part of me hopes that I will. The other part of me hopes that I am so excited by the prospect of bringing a new life to our family that it will overwhelm my memory with new memories that I can think of when I think of how our third child came to be.
And how it was just as wonderful and unexpected as when our second child came to be.
Well, maybe not THAT unexpected!!
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 10:20 PM
Potty training is going ok.
I thought you all deserved an update seeing as how you've been waiting so patiently! ;)
The boy has mastered pee. I knew he would. He's mastered it to the point that he woke up this morning and was dry. He mastered it to the point that we went out yesterday afternoon and stayed dry- even though he was in a pull up. He mastered it to the point that he asks or tells me he has to pee and he actually does.
For that I am super proud and happy. He's been trying really hard and really loves his big boy underwear. He gets that babies wear diapers or pull ups and hates wearing them now.
Pooping is our obstacle. I don't know how to surmount it. I think he's holding it in until he can't anymore. I think he's afraid to let go of it on the potty. He knows where it's supposed to go but either doesn't get there in time or is just afraid.
I'm on constant poop watch. CONSTANT. We sit and push. Push and sit. Nothing. He didn't poop at all yesterday. It's making me neurotic and sick because I'm stressing out over it so completely!
This morning he woke up. He peed and sat for a bit. I knew the poop had to be coming....he couldn't hold it forever!! It came. 25 minutes later in the big boy underwear!! GAH!
The part that gets me is that he apologizes when it happens. He KNOWS that it doesn't belong there. He KNOWS that he was supposed to go in the potty. He KNOWS how this is supposed to work but for some reason his brain and his sphincter aren't communicating!
And , for the life of me, I can't figure out how to get them to do so.
So, the toys sit unopened. The Giant Red Wagon that was the ultimate poop reward still sits in my hallway, in the box. The boy sits in a pull up right now because we're out of clean big boy underwear. And I sit here scouring every inch of the internet to figure out how to get this child to release his feces into the toilet!!
I know it takes time. I know that it's probably going to be that he'll wake up and the poop part will just click. I know that I can't force him. I know he has to be ready.
I happen to think he is. I happen to believe that he's so smart that he knows how to do all of this but there is something. Something I can't figure out, that is holding him and his poop back.
I don't know what to do. I don't know how to make this work. It's going good. Seriously. I'm really proud of him. He is trying so hard. I just wish I could figure out how to get the poop in the potty and out of the underwear!!
Posted by Alison McGeary-Stella at 9:07 AM