42nd-birthday weekend, part 1

Tomorrow I will be 42. I have so much on my mind I fear it might explode.

First of all: My baby S. Who will be 14 months soon. Walking and running. Dancing to slow beats with his little head dips and wavey arms. Sticking both fingers up his nose and laughing like a madman when I say, “Don’t you do that don’t you do that,” and pull them out. Feeding our shoes crackers and our belly buttons milk from his Ba-ba. Squealing when he sees his stuffed chocolate lab, Chocolate, and kissing him by putting his entire snout in his mouth, patting and rocking him like a baby, falling belly-down on him and going, “Awwwww,” with so much love in his ridiculous-huge heart.

“Dadaaaaa,” he says when DH leaves for work, waving slowly and sadly after the door has closed. Then he whispers it, passionately, to himself, Dada, Dada, Dada. And if he sees a photo of DH, he cannot wait to kiss his Dada’s face. “Mwah! Mwah!”

He and I are adventure partners, dancers, singers, lovey and snuggly mother-and-son. We have many inside jokes. I know him better than I’ve known any other living thing. I can sometimes tell what’s happening with him before he’s even begun to express it, just by noticing slight shifts in his expression or body language. So strange.

I continually try and fail and try again to master the art of self-care while taking care of him. The biggest obstacle is fatigue—even when I push myself out the door to a yoga class or the gym in the evening, there are times when I just do child pose or end up half-asleep in the sauna because I’m blasted. More often than not, I end up with a cocktail and The Mindy Project or a cocktail and the Am.a.zon app on my phone, with which I buy cocktail tools like Boston shakers. But more often I buy toddler stuff. WAY more often. I swear!

Money. Holy balls. What the hell. I spend a lot of money. Living in LI, one hemorrhages money as one walks out the door, but with a toddler, it’s like The Shining.

Enter our crazy asshole landlord, who has always been a crazy asshole, but is surprising even me now with his assholedom. We are month-to-month with tacit understanding that we have a 1-year-old and it is freaking winter, but he is saying that he wants us out by March 1st. He said this because we have continually mentioned a concern we have about mold and have had the audacity to mention the perpetually leaking sink (but how I love emptying a bucket of sink water into the toilet every so often) and cracks in the ceiling which often leak in the bedroom and bathroom. So sorry to bother you with these petty concerns, sir! Don’t get me wrong: if you walked into our place, you would think it was nice. It looks nice. It’s not a dump. But it has many problems.

So we are scrambling, looking for a place, and everything is more expensive than you can imagine. We want our own home, but that will run about 2300 a month, on the low end. Buying something is out of the question. The place we saw last night is within biking distance of the VA, which is good, because we cannot afford to buy a second car.

Pittsburgh is still our Promised Land, but DH has not even been selected for interviews there. He has applied for jobs in other places, as well—Asheville VA, Nashville VA—where we could see ourselves raising S, but no dice. He has been applying to jobs for over a year now, and the strain is difficult, because I end up with zero break—I watch S often on the weekends, too, while DH works on CVs and cover letters. We are holding out for VA positions because of the pay, benefits, and security, but it is notoriously difficult to relocate, especially since VA’s often hire their own interns, even if the position is open to all citizens.

And so here we are, raising a growing toddler in one of the most expensive areas in the country, on one income, with gross income of 90K but take-home of 60K. DH recently got a raise and his paycheck is less money because of higher taxes taken out. It’s mind-bending.

So it is my long-awaited birthday weekend, one I have been looking forward to for ages because all I asked for, all I wanted, was time to myself. I was going to write and read and reconnect with myself. Instead, I’ve gotta run because I have to go see a house for rent for $27,600 a year.

I have a suprisingly good attitude, though. I am evolving as a human being! Of course, this evolution is a fragile state that could crash and fall at any moment BUT at least for now I’m being pretty Alan Watts about the whole thing, without the goatee. Yesterday, I woke up and told myself that I maintain my belief that this is a benevolent universe and that it is throwing us multiple curve balls because life is a game we are playing, etc., and what are we going to do about it? How are we going to react?

DH got two calls this past week from Pittsburgh, and he became so excited, thinking he was getting interview offers. One was a call asking for a donation. The other was a scammer. Last night I made my first signature cocktail, a Salty Red-Orange, which I served in frosted Champagne glasses with salty rims, and we laughed about this. Absurdity.

I have so much more to say but I have to get out the door, as I’m writing this while naked and unwashed. More from Birthday Weekend soon.



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  1. There’s so much in this post – so much real raw love mixed up with the everyday struggles of real life! I so enjoyed this update! And know just what you mean by your toddler being your best bud. I too agree that the universe is kind and that so many good things are headed your way!

    • Thanks so much for saying so—I hope so, so badly. We are overwhelmed, but we always manage to figure out tough situations…I think that is the gift of the infertility road, knowing you can handle all the stresses life throws your way.


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