Thursday, August 29, 2013

That I Might Not Shrink

I’ve been open about the fact that I had to seek outside help during a rough patch in my life.  Depression hit me rather soundly after my son was born - it took me a year before I realized I wasn’t going to snap out of it on my own and I sought the professional help of a therapist.  I’m not ashamed of it.  The 12 oz bag of milk chocolate chips that was on my shelf yesterday and is now mysteriously gone, THAT I’m ashamed of.  Beginning my morning with toaster strudel and a game of Candy Crush, not super proud of that either.  But therapy…I recommend it.  If I had $100 a week just sitting around, gathering dust I would still go but with the skyrocketing costs of milk and butter and no plans of becoming a vegan it’s just not in the budget.

We had some good times, my shrink and I.  We laughed, we cried, and on some twisted level I convinced myself that he must have really enjoyed having a client like me that wasn’t as troubled as some.  (You think I’m narcissistic because I have a blog?  Ha!  Child’s play.  *I* thought my therapist LIKED ME BEST.)  “I bet I’m a joy to have in class!” I would tell myself.  Then, as I handed him my last check and told him I would call if I had any relapses he informed me that I was his last client – he was hanging up his hat on private practice and was going to write a book, attend to corporate level needs, and focus more on talking to larger groups about parenting and the like.  I went home and wrote in my notebook 150 times, “This is just a coincidence.  This is just a coincidence.” 

Then again when I dig deep, (AS HE TAUGHT ME TO DO) I realize that we had some rocky times, too.
Shrink:  “You seem to have a lot of irrational fears.  Where do you think that comes from?”
Me:  “Oh, I don’t know.  Maybe because my home was robbed three times as a child and strangers went through all of my stuff?”
Shrink:  “Really?!  I guess I missed that.”
Me:  “It’s in the file of 75,000 questions you made me answer so you could get to know me better.”
Shrink:  “I should totally read that sometime.”

I haven’t seen my therapist since I walked out of his office on that last visit.  It’s been ten years.  Sitting in church on Sunday the woman standing at the front of the room was announcing the details of an upcoming event.  “You and your spouses are invited to attend this Parenting class.  It’s going to be really good.  Our speaker is going to be Vern’s Therapist.”  Of course they didn’t say “Vern’s Therapist”, but DUDES.  Let’s not miss the point.  The point is: My therapist.  Is coming!  TO CHURCH! 

The lady at the front of the room was trying very hard to convey that this guy was going to be really good.  Should I pipe in?  “Hey you guys, she’s right.  I used to pay this dude a hundred dollars an hour to complain about all of you and he totally took me from zero to hero by the end of the year.  Mark your calendar.”  I chose to remain quiet.  (And now I have that in writing.)  The truth is, it will probably only be awkward if he doesn’t remember me.  THEN what?  I’ll be standing there going, “Remember?  I shut me eyes, you told me to visualize So-And-So’s head and I threw stuffed animals at the wall as hard as I could?”  Then, if it still doesn’t register I could just lean in, smile, look him in the eye and give a quick nudge to his side and remind him, “You know, I was your favorite? Then all of the sudden it will hit him like a Viking during hard labor and he’ll be like, “VERN!  Oh my gosh!  How ARE you?”  Then I will regale him with all of the details about how awesome the last 10 years have been.  

And then maybe it won’t be so weird that my shrink came to church.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

80 Year Spin

Last week my Dad turned 80 years old, and soon my mom will follow suit.  We decided to celebrate with a big party and with half our constituency already in Utah, that became the center of our festivities.  Some of the adults smuggled in caffeine and there wasn't a single jell-o dessert, so it was pretty much a rager.

The older I get and the more I learn about my mom, I am blown away at our similarities.  This thrills me and terrifies her, though in her defense she has never been skinny dipping and in MY defense I have never tried to pass off carob as a suitable chocolate substitute.

Recently my parents were here visiting and my mom said she wanted to go into a clothing store.  This was highly uncharacteristic.  She couldn't have shocked me more if she had said, "I'd like to send the Obamas some flowers."  So I quickly obliged, wanting to support her in this sudden act of bravery.  She was looking for an outfit suitable for an upcoming wedding, so I began flipping through hangers.  Before offering up any particular suggestions she coached me what to look for by saying, "I try to stay away from the manlier looks.  I haven't been called 'Sir' in a while."  Oh the huWOmanity.  At the same time I also knew that mom was not the shmoofy type either, so I set out to find the most egregious assault to her senses as I pulled out a black organza ruffly number covered in black and white overlapping hearts and said, "Hey Mom, what about this one?"  I held it up, assuming she would instantly recognize my jest but she surprised me and responded with a cursory glance, "Oh yeah, that's pretty."  I dropped it to my side, disappointed that she didn't realize what I was doing and said, "Mom!  I was just kidding," to which she answered, "Oh good, I was just being polite."  And all was right again in my universe.

I really, really love my Mom.

During our party there was a point where the siblings gathered together and presented my parents with their respective gifts.  My mom received emeralds, her birthstone.  My Dad received a canvas collage of every single member of his posterity from his children down to his great grandchildren - proof of a promise made to him long ago.  My oldest brother, Mitch, shared a story as he presented our gift to my Dad that I had never heard before.  I'm sharing it again here, because I don't want to forget it.

Mitch had just returned from a two year stint as a missionary for our church in Argentina.  He was trying to figure out what to do next with his life, and had wild aspirations.  One day he sat in the front yard talking to my Dad about it while I and my younger brothers played nearby.  (Twelve years separates me from my oldest brother, so we would have been roughly 9, 7 and 5.)  Per Mitch's account he turned to my Dad at one point and asked if he was happy with his life's choices (becoming a high school Biology teacher, having 7 children, small income, big responsibilities) adding, "I mean, Dad?  Haven't you ever wanted to change the world?"  At which point my father gestured to me and my younger brothers playing in the distance and said, "I did."

I really, really love my Dad.

The last 80 years have been good to my parents and as you can see, many of those years have been good to us too.  So, here's to my Mom and Dad.  For not setting fire to the joint when we made them blow out their candles, and of course, for changing the world.

With my kids at the Broadmoor Hotel

Blowing out their candles

Friday, August 9, 2013

Once Upon A Time...A Fairy Tale For The Underprivileged

Once upon a time I went five whole days without showering and nobody even died.  Yes, I survived Girl's Camp.  It wasn't even that bad.  A fairy tale, really, if you happen to find cleanliness and civilization to be cumbersome.  Yesterday I was in a store looking at birthday cards and there was one with a cartoon sketch of two bears standing outside an apartment door.  The caption quotes one bear saying to the other, "Look here Earl, all you have to do is push this little button (the doorbell) and out pops a snack!"  Maybe that's funny for regular folk, but coming face to face with a bear has a way of making bear jokes seem...not hilarious.  But despite our bear sightings prior to camp, we didn't see one all week.  We made sure of it, which is why when one of our girls was barfing outside her tent because she was dehydrated we were there shoveling it into a bag.  I guess bears like human vomit.  Filthy animals.  That's when I decided that shoveling vomit at camp is the equivalent to pricking your finger and becoming blood sisters at a teenage bonding ritual.  I'm just saying if any of my camping cohorts ever needs a kidney....

Once upon a time I went five whole days without using a real toilet and I almost died.  I'm pretty sure you don't want me to elaborate on how 250 people went a whole week on 6 port-a-potties, but I'm also pretty sure I never asked you.  Here's the thing - it's not great.  As in, the gas station Subway bathroom we hit on the way out felt like a Marriott in the springtime.  At one point some well meaning campers tried to label one of the "bathrooms" a #1 zone only to allow for at least one stall that wouldn't stink to high heaven.  That turned out to be...ineffective.  Also, high heaven = not far enough away.  On a positive note, the graffiti on the port-a-potty walls was quite motivational at this Christian based camp.  I'm just saying, have you ever witnessed a line from Lincoln penned at a KOA?  I DON'T THINK SO.

Once upon a time our Camp Directors were mistaken for lesbians and I laughed so hard I could have died.  One night our tent and cars were decorated with rainbow colored plates by some "neighbors".  We thought we had cleaned them all up but the next day when our leaders drove to town for some emergency supplies they stepped out in all of their back to nature glory and discovered a rainbow of color still attached to the front grill of the truck.  I'm sure the guys at Ace Hardware didn't judge.

Once upon a time I climbed a massive tree and jumped off and totally didn't die!  And just for good measure I did the Karate Kid stance from the very, very top.  With my tongue sticking out, because apparently I want to send the message that this activity is a Gene Simmons kind of crazy:

 Once upon a time I woke up from 5 days of camping and it was time to go home and all I could think about was getting a shower so when I walked in nobody would die.  I was met with this lovely display - Cory's idea, Samantha's execution, Drew's signature channeled from the 1st grade:

Once upon a time I went five whole days without a shower and a toilet and I jumped off trees and shoveled vomit by flashlight and nobody died.  And then I came home and showered and caught up on Drop Dead Diva and we all lived happily ever after.