Back to School Breakdown

Posted: September 24th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Career Confusion, Misc Neuroses, Moods, School | 11 Comments »

I’m here to bust some myths, people. Now that school is back in session mothers aren’t worrying about whether they bought the right Toughskins and Trapper Keepers for their kids. They aren’t fretting over whether Jasper will be okay on the bus, or if the lunches they packed reflect the new food pyramid. (There IS a new food pyramid, you know. But I figure it’s like the metric system and won’t ever really catch on.)

No, now that kids are back in school and structure has been re-established in homes after the carefree, chaotic days of summer, mothers are freaking out about what to do with their lives.

Or at least, I am. And I’d like to think that I’m not alone.

So humor me. Please.

In all the time I haven’t been blogging I’ve been busy having an excellent and comprehensive panic attack about my life. I’m questioning whether our kids are at the right schools, whether we live on the right coast, whether I should forge into a fulltime take-no-prisoners job, or should stay home and hand-sew clothes for the whole family and churn our own butter.  I’ve even been questioning whether I should be doing yoga, the Dailey Method, or just walking.

Oh, and I want a dog. And a new car. And after 30,000 hours of watching HGTV (a feat for which I feel I should be awarded some kind of doctorate in interior design) I want a house. A big swank fabulous house perched on the edge of a cliff in Malibu.

That’s all.

It turns out that when I decide to have a crisis it decimates everything in its path. It’s like some ginormous house-sized meatball rolling around rampantly picking up mailboxes, Priuses, and alley cats in its wake. It sees another anxiety and heads for it at full bore swallowing it up in one gulp, burping loudly, then moving on to find more.

Oh, my poor sweet husband. He comes home from work and really should have a riot shield at the ready to deflect my assault of ideas.

“Should we really be paying so much freaking money for private school? With Paige starting kindergarten next year maybe we should rethink this whole tuition thing.”

“Should I cut my hair short? Or just let it go gray?”

“I was thinking we should switch from Skippy to Jif. Thoughts?”

Okay, so I’m not really wavering in my allegiance to my my hair color, but I am considering jumping ship on our peanut butter.

Other thoughts I’m wrangling with: Is California really worth it? Or more specifically, the freaking expensiveness of the Bay Area? Would we be just as happy in Indiana? Tennessee? New Hampshire? Or maybe happier because, I don’t know, we’d live in some subdivision like the rest of the universe and eat at Applebee’s and life would be simple and easy and all-American?

The other day I even had the thought that I should get fake boobies. I mean, this was a fleeting thought and I honestly don’t remember what brought it on (I was clothed at the time), but it DID drift though my mind. Crazy, right?

Wait, this is seriously starting to sound like a midlife crisis. Pardon me while I self-diagnose here…

But now that I’m thinking of all this I will say that [WARNING: Over-sharing about my body] I’ve been having the most hellishly colossal periods lately. (I know, suddenly we are talking about my menses. This has gone a place you have totally not expected nor wanted to go to, but I’m telling you, that is how the meatball of my life has been working lately. Welcome to my world.)

Yes, so I’m doing things like sitting on my daughter’s bed and standing up later to see a marvelous pool of blood that I’ve left behind. (Guess it’s time to have that “Us Girls Get Something Called Periods” talk.) I mean, I like a good laundry challenge as much as the next masochistic housewife, but leaving large blood puddles around the house? I’m happy to revel in the traditional realm of grass stains.

Anyway, I went to my Girl Parts Doctor, who’s office happens to be on Bush Street. No joke. She took a look under the old carriage (or rather into it) and announced that all was in order. This, she said, is simply what one’s mid-forties are like.

Perhaps this Back to School Mental Maternal Meltdown is simply related to oldness. Like, maybe if I buy a red sports car and have an affair with my secretary—after getting a secretary—I can work through it all like men have been doing for generations before me. I’ll start wearing my hair in a comb-over and will blow all our savings on a bungee jumping trip to New Zealand.

Wait for THOSE blog posts, people.

More likely though it’s not about age at all. If I know me it’s prolly just that I have too much time on my hands. I guess I’m like a blender that way. Last week while making a smoothie our blender started to smell like it was going to explode. The Husband, a.k.a. Mr. Gadget, walked through the kitchen to inform me that it would work better if I turned it up. Like, when it’s on Low and I think I’m coddling it the engine is actually angry and impatient, but when it gets fired up and can work hard it’s happiest. That is SO me. I’m like a blender. Who woulda guessed?

Until I find the perfect part-time job or project I’ve channeled all my energy into signing up for every frickin’ committee at Kate’s school. I’m so typecast as an urban/suburban mother it’s ridiculous. I can’t even have a crisis like a man (read: car, secretary, Grecian Formula). Plus I don’t even know whether I’m urban or suburban. If someone knows where I live and can help me identify the nature of my surroundings I’d appreciate it.

Well then, I think that about covers what I’ve been up to. [She smooths her skirt over her thighs and smiles serenely.] I’d love to hang out more but I have cupcakes to bake for a fundraiser, parents to enlist for a field trip, and I need to make the crippling decision about whether to go to yoga, hop on the elliptical, or take a hike.

Wish me luck.


11 Comments on “Back to School Breakdown”

  1. 1 Virginia said at 7:22 am on September 24th, 2012:

    I can answer at least some of your questions!

    1. Yes, California is worth it. All the other places have bugs and humidity. Or else they’re deserts.
    2. Yes, private school tuition is worth it if you love the school. Public schools can have dedicated teachers and caring administrators, but thanks to years of politics and high-stakes testing, they tend to operate more like grade factories than places of education.
    3. Jif is in fact better than Skippy.
    4. All joking aside, perimenopause can come with very noticeable mood changes. In my case, I found they were seriously exacerbated by caffeine. Just sayin’.

  2. 2 Katrina said at 8:39 am on September 24th, 2012:

    Oh, man. I so relate. It’s the careening between being too busy trying to juggle everything, and then, after carefully arranging to have some sanity and time with the kids, getting the perfect part time gig, I wonder why I’m so bored…

  3. 3 Jan said at 8:53 am on September 24th, 2012:

    You’re not alone. I don’t quite have time for my breakdown just yet, but I’m planning to start in on it right after Xmas! Feeling like it’s going to be an impossible feat to find a 20-hr/week job that is at least mildly rewarding.

  4. 4 kristen from motherload said at 11:05 am on September 24th, 2012:

    Oh no… you too, Katrina?

    I think the medical diagnosis for what we have is called something like Grass Is Always Greener Syndrome.

    Good luck battling your case, and call if you want to go for a hike some time!

  5. 5 RookieMom Whitney said at 11:22 am on September 24th, 2012:

    Great post, Kristen.

    Heather and I have had a prior disagreement on urban/suburban. Let’s discuss.

    I went to pick her up from her house and there was a stranger sitting on her front steps, smoking pot without concern for his lack of relationship with the homeowners. Therefore, I say urban.

    I can talk to my neighbors on both sides through open windows without shouting. Therefore, I say urban.

    I can walk in 3-minutes to buy fancy coffee, liquor, fresh fish, and cheeses from around the world. Urban.

    True, it’s not San Francisco. But we can take buses and trains to our own downtowns. We fuss with parking meters and other bewildering street signs all day long. And, it is Raider Nation. Urban.

  6. 6 Polly I said at 4:53 pm on September 24th, 2012:

    The term I’ve always applied to our little slice of paradise here in Rockridge/Elmwood is “semi-urban” – we get the sidewalks and the walk to gourmet eats and transportation, but still have earth on all four sides of our houses (even if it’s just a little bitty strip).

    Kristen, I sympathize with your crise de coeur and wrestle with the same job-related see-sawing.

    If it’s any help, I think you already know where I stand on the topics of exercise and schools – happy to work harder to convert you to the other side on either of those :-) Since my kids are a bit older, I got over the sudden urge to volunteer a couple of years ago. Yours will pass, too, I promise.

    As for the peri-menopausal symptoms, those may be here for a while, and you have my complete support. I highly recommend the Mirena.

    Yours in suffrage…I mean, suff’rin’…

  7. 7 Glen said at 2:28 pm on September 25th, 2012:

    Sounds like you live in Oakland, Bezerkley, or the hills ‘tween ‘em. Urban. And I’m a West Philly boy who lives in S.F., so I know urban.

    Found you through my wife’s good friend, the Bearded Iris. Yo, girl, you are one funny motherload.

  8. 8 kristen from motherload said at 11:20 am on September 26th, 2012:

    Thanks, Whitney!

    Okay, so here’s the thing. It’s not utterly uncommon to hear the rattle of a shopping cart being pushed down my street. On the other it’s also not out of the ordinary for a neighbor or friend to leave us muffins or cookies on our front porch. I drive nearly everywhere (in a station wagon) and kids wade through the stream at our farmer’s market a few blocks away. Now, we DON’T eat at Applebee’s (I don’t even know where one is) and we are super close to a BART station.

    On the East Coast anyone who I tell that I live in Oakland thinks I’m either in a gang or have random gunfire across my front lawn every night. And only one of those things is true.

    I think we’re some kind of urban-suburban hybrid. Through the tunnel is no doubt suburban. That’s were moms use that weird paint stuff to write Go Badgers! on their mini-vans and have stickers on their rear windows showing how many kids and pets they have. Not that I judge them. Okay, I do.

    As for that person smoking a joint on Heather’s front steps? That was me.

  9. 9 kristen from motherload said at 11:22 am on September 26th, 2012:

    I’m cracking up realizing that in the 3 minute exchange we had at the farmer’s market I managed to besiege you with so many of my recent hit parade of neurotic thoughts! See? I don’t lie in this blog. It’s ALL TRUE. (For better or worse.)
    Thanks for readin’ dear.

  10. 10 Tricia said at 7:17 pm on September 26th, 2012:

    Grey hair-yes. Fake boobies- no.

  11. 11 kristen from motherload said at 8:54 am on September 27th, 2012:

    Hey Jan: I realize now that this is YOU! Yeah, the part-time gigs aren’t falling off trees, but they’re out there. Also, freelance work. Just got to work hard to find them. At least, that is what I am telling myself!

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