You’ll pay more for that

Photo by Chasefx photo 

Theme of the week?  You’ll pay more for that. All I want is a good home, in a good neighborhood, with a good school district, and nearby water. But I guess I am of the class that isn’t allowed good things because I just keep hearing that I cannot afford it.

It seems following the rules, showing up to work everyday, and working hard isn’t enough to secure you a good life for your family. I am good at my job. Awesome actually. So good, I do my job and the jobs of several other people. Somehow, hard work isn’t enough.

I want to live in a small coastal town where I can feel safe letting my child play in the front yard and where we can spend Saturdays swimming without fear of contamination poisoning. Apparently, my husband and I don’t make enough money for that. 

Test scores are low as well as the rate of students entering a four-year college in every single neighborhood we can afford. Teachers need salaries and the former middle class can’t afford them so students in middle to lower class neighborhoods go under-educated. Seems education is a luxury ’round these parts. 

Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that my middle-classness puts me at a strong advantage over the poor folks trying to raise their kids up to middle class status. I know that as nervous as I am for my son’s safety it’s nothing compared to the mom raising her kids in a poor inner city neighborhood but that doesn’t diminish the sentiment. Why should anyone have to pay extra for safety, security, and a good education for their children?

Be grateful that you have the rich to tolerate your middle-classness 

There’s this commonly-held belief that when you don’t have wealth (of the dollar variety) you should be grateful for any little thing you have. As if you didn’t deserve even that much. 

The belief is that when you cannot afford to own a house you should be grateful that a landlord is willing to rent to you. And if they want to kick you out to make room for their son and his new wife, be sure to appreciate the entirety of the 30 days they graciously provide you to find a new home. Understand that they expected the house repainted before you left so be grateful for the bill you’ll get instead of your deposit returned. 

When you find another such generous soul to rent to you, you should be grateful to pay rent even if your family suffers periodic bouts of salmonella because the fridge that came with the house keeps breaking and the landlord is far too busy and important to fix it. You should be grateful for the broken fridge. You could have no fridge at all.

You should be grateful for the 60-hour work week and the time away from your child because lots of people are unemployed. You should be happy for all those hours you work while still finding no way to make ends meet. Be grateful for the execs who force you to work holidays and weekends to earn them their end of year bonuses while you struggle to keep the broken fridge stocked with food to feed your child.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter who wins the election. It’s all just a game of thrones between a group of wealthy people who either have no idea or have forgotten what it’s like to have to feed your kids McDonald’s because the big box meal is $12 while buying a healthy, fresh dinner is upwards of $30 and you have to pay the daycare to watch your kids so you can work the 60-hour work week that gets you no closer to ok.

But you should be grateful for them because they’re going to make this country great again while taxing the middle class who, in their minds, aren’t paying enough for the privilege to live “free” and work to support that “free” life. 

A typical day in the life of my anxiety 

I wake each morning to a pounding in my head: all the thoughts that congregated in my dreams overnight. There’s a pit in my stomach and a knot in my throat. It’s not that it’s difficult to breathe, it’s just that I’m so distracted by all the things that could go wrong today that I forget how to swallow the air I’ve captured. 

As Mothra dances the Harlem Shake in my belly I convince myself to ignore the bad thoughts and get dressed. Failing that, I remind myself that the kid needs a roof over his head and food in his belly, and if at all possible, he’d like Devastator, the $100 toy my husband made the mistake of showing him and he hasn’t stopped talking about. This all requires money.  More money than the hubby brings in so I just have to suck it up and get dressed. Best motivational speech ever!

During my 7 minute drive to work I plot through the things that could go wrong: 

  • Angry supervisor
  • Angry manager
  • Angry supervisor and manager
  • Staff quitting
  • Lay offs
  • Zombie apocalypse

Yes, I worry about zombies. Yes, I do blame my husband for this one. Yes, I have mapped out several escape routes. 

I have a few work friends. They came easily enough. I don’t trust it. I am not a person who makes friends easily. My filter is almost non-existent and I inadvertently offend people, rather easily, it would seem. 

I am the girl who the cheerleaders shoved into lockers. I have, on more than one occasion, accidentally walked in on my girlfriends making fun of me behind my back: 

  • too many freckles
  • gross hair
  • hand-me-down wardrobe… 

You name it, someone probably said it. So this next part seems like a very reasonable jump for me; although, my therapist says it’s just me carrying the old stuff with me.

I am super busy at work. So busy I probably shouldn’t take extra breaks but I do. My work friends like to take extra breaks. They’re smokers. I am not. But I go with them on nearly every break to the smoking section. They never come with me to the non-smoking section. I go in part because I want to be less socially awkward but also in part because my anxiety has convinced me that they will be trashing me if I’m not there. 

I know.

I know. 

I do my job, as well as the jobs of several people in my team, because I’m  still the nerd who got stuck doing the group project while everyone else went to a party. Mostly, I’m scared that a team failure will result in a cleansing starting with management and ending with the team lead, me. As mentioned earlier, I have a kid and he’s getting expensive. I need the money. 

On the drive to my mom’s to pick up the kid a truck stops suddenly and I veer off the road to miss it. Three guesses what the anxiety does next. 

  • I don’t have a will. 
  • What if the husband is also in an accident and the kid is left alone?
  • We need a will. 
  • But isn’t that really just tempting fate? 
  • And who should we trust with our kid’s life.

When we finally get home there’s dinner to make, dishes to wash, lunches to pack, and the kid needs a bath. I start to convince myself that we aren’t spending enough time with him. I worry that the lack of time is permanently damaging him. Then I think about the overtime I’m in for and worry about even more time I’m missing with him.

Bedtime is easy enough; until I fall asleep. Pretty sure I’m a super tense sleeper because my body feels like I worked out when I wake up. I do not workout. 

When did 35 become old?

I remember my mom at 35. I was 15. She was young, thin, and beautiful. The eating disorders and decades of abuse hadn’t taken their toll yet. Looking in the mirror now, as I use an anti-aging cloth to cleanse my face and replace the makeup with moisturizer, I see my mom’s clear, youthful face at 35 and think how old I have become.

It happened gradually, without my notice. One day I looked in the mirror and somehow, the face looking back was so much older than I remembered being. This face full of wrinkles and worry, this was not the face of my mother at 35. How did I become so much older than she ever was?

I remember my mother at 35, buying that Avon anti-wrinkle serum. I remember thinking she was crazy when I heard her complain to her sister on the phone about the wrinkles the same day she’d been carded for her pack-a-day habbit.

As I check in on my sleeping boy I feel creaks and cracks of life creeping into my bones. I wonder if he heard them. When did my body decide 35 was old age? My mom’s body never creaked when she stood up. Why didn’t I get the youthful gene?

I trace the lines I cannot bring myself to regret. The lines of laughter I refuse to give up and smiles getting me through the rough weeks. Even the canyon result of the worry line developed between my brows cannot be wished away. I am somehow stronger for it.

I remember my mom at 35, so much younger than I with so much less laugh lines. Perhaps joy is the cost of the youthful gene.

My kid hates brushing his teeth; and other battles we fight daily

Every day starts and ends the same: the battle for good oral hygiene. We get his toothbrush ready and he runs away. We even turn on toothbrush app to make him think it’s a game. To no avail. 

Invariably,  he wails and fights. When that doesn’t work he moves on to distraction. He’ll try anything, even talking to us about Super Mario Bros, Yokai, or Angry Birds. This goes on for a couple of rounds until he begrudgingly ends up brushing his teeth.

I’d like to say this is our only battle.  I’d like to say that. However, he is still my son; the product of 2 super strong-willed people who excel in stubbornness, so this is not the only battle. 

He battles everything. Cleaning his room. Clearing his dish. Eating. Side note: he even argues against eating the food he picked out. Yup,  he’s a stubborn little guy with the ability to argue his point. I’m not gonna lie and say it doesn’t get frustrating.  Honestly, most time I want to pull my hair out or hit my head against the wall or just just give in because it’s easier than dealing with the histrionics. 

But I can’t do any of that. I’m a mom and my job is too teach him to be a good person and to stand on his own two feet. If I’m being honest, as irritating as it is to be in the middle of these battles, I have to recognize that my baby boy is developing reasoning skills and a sense of self, and as much as I may want to lock him in room until he learns how to bend to my will, my job is to teach him how to express himself in a reasonable non-histrionic way.

Please pass the manual.