The Only Problem with Low Expectations…

Oh, Christmas.  The one part of Christmas Jimmy and I were looking forward to was being Santa Claus and seeing the look on Daniel’s face Christmas morning.  That assumed bright spot kept us going through ennui, a scorched dinner, disappointment, passive-aggression, depression, narcissism and omni-present illness that characterized the holiday this year.   Christmas Eve we made cookies for Santa, had a great dinner, drove around the neighborhood to see the lights, and threw out the food we made for the reindeer.  We read The Night Before Christmas before tucking in Daniel as is our tradition; once we were sure he was asleep, we set about being Santa. Jimmy and I had high hopes for the next day.

Cookies for Santa

Cookies for Santa

Santa on Christmas Eve

Santa has been here!

When we heard him stir on Christmas morning, we got up, turned on the tree and went to get him out of his room. The first thing that greeted me was an overturned potty and a naked little boy.  Cleaning up pee is always my favorite thing to do first thing in the morning!  Once the room was clean and he was dressed, we urged him to go see what Santa brought him.  And urged him.  And urged him.

Daniel wouldn’t go into the living room.  He informed us that he couldn’t and instead ran into the guest room to hide. No amount of coaxing could get him out.  We implored him.  We begged him.  We cajoled him, incredulous that our 3-year-old didn’t want to see his presents.  The more we asked, the more defensive he became, informing us that his name wasn’t Daniel.  It was Diesel.  His “I can’t”  became higher and whinier.

We were flabbergasted.  What the hell?  We had bought wonderful gifts that we thought he’d like.  We had cherished making Santa magical for him, but he wouldn’t even take a look.  We looked at each other, speechless, and feeling bad that we felt so irritated with our child on Christmas morning.

We should have expected something to go awry Christmas morning.  In retrospect, Daniel had been shy and avoiding all surprises lately; what is Santa but one huge surprise?  It was still a kick in the gut, and maybe if we felt better, we would have laughed it off.  It’s just that this part of Christmas – being Santa for Daniel – was the one thing we had thought would go well, would be a no-brainer.  It was the only part of Christmas that mattered for us.  And so Jimmy was speechless and I wanted to cry at 9 AM on Christmas Day.

We finally managed to coax Daniel into the living room, and once there, he was as excited as we hoped he would be.  The bittersweet feelings remained, though.  I felt like we were the worst parents in the world having to guilt our child into enjoying Christmas, and his initial reluctance was just one more reminder that this holiday has been less than ideal.

Christmas Day

Christmas Day

Here are a few more ways in which the holidays have continued to be less than ideal:

  • Jimmy contracted my pink eye
  • Jimmy finally was struck down by whatever Frankenvirus I have
  • I made my third trip to the doctor on 12/26 because I still felt like crap.  I was given a second dose of antibiotics and Claritin D (I’m happy to say that only 2.5 weeks after I got sick, I began to feel better.)
  • My pink eye is better, but my new supply of left contact lenses haven’t arrived, so I’m alternating between glasses that occasionally hurt my face or one right contact
  • I’ve cried twice
  • We have no energy
  • Daniel is being very 3, very contrary.  We’ve taken away toys every day and instituted a reward chart.  We have good days and bad days.  I know it’s normal, but it’s frustrating and depressing to feel like you are constantly disciplining your child and then the more you have to discipline, the more you worry you are crushing his spirit.
  • We are not enjoying this time off. Daniel probably isn’t either because he thinks we’re yelling at him all the time.

In short, what I’ve learned over the last 2 weeks is that you can accept and prepare for low expectations, but sometimes, those expectations aren’t low enough.


We’re two-thirds of the way through December 31 in my neck of the woods, and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  It has been a shitty year for my family, and Jimmy and I cannot wait to see the year depart.  2012, it’s not your fault explicitly, but I have no problems blaming you.

Tonight, I will raise my glass of champagne high in celebration and joy as the last few seconds of 2012 tick by.

Goodbye, 2012.  I won’t be sorry to see you go.

May 2013 be kinder to us all.

The Second Day of the Year…

Dress pants & no bedroom slippers

Found me back at work.  While my employer is generous with holiday leave, they decided that we needed to return to work on Jan. 2.  As in the day after New Year’s.  As in Monday.  No extra day to ease us into 2012 and the return to work alas.  Since our response to a new year tends to be draconian resolutions and vows to whip ourselves into shape/cut out destructive behavior of choice/ruthlessly tamp down personality traits we don’t like, perhaps throwing us back into the cruel world of work was the right thing to do.

Get to work, slacker!  You need to exercise that brain before it turns to mush from all that crappy tv viewing, celebrity gossip blog reading and Twitter surfing you did over the last two weeks!

This morning I hauled myself out of bed and put on makeup.  I brushed my hair (no joke – I think I finger-combed my hair most of vacation) and stared dumbfoundedly at the clothes in my closet, wondering if it were possible to have lost the ability to coordinate an outfit in such a short period of time.

Daniel had become used to being able to play with his trains immediately upon waking and seemed a little subdued by the return to routine, though he was pleased to be going to see Ama (MIL).

We dashed out the door and encountered no traffic. I briefly wondered if the Rapture had occurred and I had not been one of the chosen (very likely), but then I remembered that more likely, everyone else was at home.  I think I made it to work in 15 minutes.  Clearly, we are the only poor fools who had to work today.

It has been a quiet first day back.  Several coworkers are still on vacation until tomorrow and the rest of us remained in our caves, er offices.  My office is on the second floor of our suite, and we are an introverted group on this floor, so we kept to ourselves.  We must be eased back gently into the company of others lest our heads explode.  I suspect several sports-minded coworkers were watching football games online but I name no names.

I deleted emails.  I did not check voice mails.  I filed a travel reimbursement.  I tried to remember on what I was working before the holidays.  Did some work.

At least the first day back is over.  2011 was a busy year at work, and I have no doubts that 2012 will be any different.  Sometimes it seems like there is so much to do that I don’t know where to begin. I suppose I’ll tackle it one bite at a time.

How many days until Christmas?

If you had to work today, how was your day back?

2011, You Sucked. Oh, How You Sucked

As the current year hobbles frailly to whatever afterlife years have, it’s time for me to join billions of others in the annual rite of passage of being introspective and musing over the highs and lows of the past year and trying to decipher what, if anything, they mean.

Without further ado, I give you my verdict on 2011:  It sucked.

I don’t mean to be so dark and cynical; I had optimism this time last year that 2011 would be better than 2010, but the universe laughed and proved me wrong literally on January 1 when Jimmy and I woke up with colds/flu that kept us home from work the first two working days of the year.  And it went downhill from there with a speed that would be fascinating if it weren’t happening to you.

2011: Craptastic

  • Jimmy’s father was diagnosed with Stage 4 gastric cancer and died suddenly a month later
  • Colds and illness for all three of us throughout the year including croup for Daniel and the two month flu/sinus infection/bronchitis hell that was our Autumn
  • The beginning of job uncertainty for Jimmy as his employer “merges” with another company
  • Friends moving on (no longer my coworker) and away (to Florida)
  • Preschool woes and the beginning of worry about what’s normal for my toddler
  • Worrisome and expensive pet illnesses
  • A speeding ticket
  • An infestation of carpet beetles and/or moths that have eaten several suits and sweaters in our closet
  • Jimmy’s grandmother being diagnosed with a gall bladder blockage, then pancreatic cancer.  Chemo before and after successful surgery to remove the cancer.  Then the discovery of a bladder polyp which is likely cancerous because they usually are.  Sudden bouts of extreme confusion, lethargy and unconsciousness and several hospitalizations.  This is where we are now.  She was taken to the hospital two days after we celebrated Christmas, comatose and is still there.  It might be a stroke.  It might be a heart attack. 

2011: A Few Bright Spots

  • I graduated from grad school after 5 years!
  • I still have a job
  • I started blogging again
  • I had a conference proposal accepted and will be heading to Florida in May 2012
  • Seeing Daniel’s face light up on Christmas morning when he saw the train table Santa brought him
  • Jimmy and I celebrating our 10th anniversary in December
  • The stunning and awe-inspiring strength displayed by Jimmy’s tiny grandmother over and over as she encountered another hurdle in her recovery

I think it is safe for me to declare 2011 an awful year despite some wonderful things that happened, but I wouldn’t change anything about 2011.  I believe that life happens how it happens and no one is owed or promised sunshine and roses; it is how you respond to it that matters.  I can acknowledge that it was a really bad year with a lot of terrible events, but I hope that each one has acted as a crucible to make us stronger.

I started this post yesterday, and it would have been a lot darker, but I feel more at peace and with a tiny glimmer of hope for 2012.  Jimmy’s grandmother is now breathing on her own and awake.  We’ve been down this road before, but for now, maybe it’s enough.

I make no resolutions other than to be mindful and kiss my guys. We know too well how quickly things can turn to crap, and I want us to enjoy each other and each moment.

Good bye, 2011.  Perhaps 2012 will be peaceful after all.

Happy Boy on Christmas Morning