Tuesday, April 12, 2011

"it is what it is."

Subtitle : Jen invokes the privilege to engage in indulgent navel-gazing

"It is what it is."

My husband says this phrase a lot. I get incredibly irritated every time. I told him it sounds awfully condescending to me. Why not just say,
"I am mature enough to view this problem that is making you curl into a fetal position and sob as the simple event it is, all contentedly set in its proper place in the universe and I'm cool enough to shrug it off with a flip saying."
or more succinctly,
"I'm not stupid enough to make a big deal over this."
(I know. Poor John. Sympathy donations to him for dealing with such a shrew are welcome)

So then I started noticing that at the many band boosters meetings I'd go to, the band director would very often shrug at any given complication, give a half smile and say "It is what it is."

(Of course, I initially had a different reaction when he said it. I thought it was cute and laid back...the first 100 times or so. Now, I'm having a reaction more similar to the one I'd reserved for John).

I've started to notice more and more people throwing this phrase around. And my dislike/morbid fascination for is increasing. Why does this phase make me so completely crazy?

Here's what the urban dictionary has to say about it. Some of the suggestions resonate with me and my annoyance:
A way of demonstrating apathy; an unwillingness to evoke change; a way of saying "It's not of interest to me."
OOOOhhh. There you are. That's exactly why that phrase makes my toes curl. Apathy is one of the things I hate most. Ever. I despise apathy. Apathy is lazy, and I hate lazy almost as much as apathy. Apathy is action by inaction; committing yourself to live in isolated boredom. Passion is where it's at!!!! PASSION and engagement and putting yourself out there - now that's the way to be, right?

But as my recent "beloved-teacher-from-my-past-getting-irritated-at-my-posting-a-link-to-an-article-about-cutting-spending/raising taxes-and-my-general-liberal-crap-and-then-calling-me-a-bitch-on-facebook" episode might have taught me, putting myself out there - embracing my passions and wearing them on my sleeve has certain drawbacks. (I am still smarting from that episode and trying to figure out if there is more than a negligible smattering of bitchiness to me - I think there is - and I'm trying to come to terms with it). But even still smarting from that virtual bitch slap, I can't retreat in how I attack life.

Life is a sine curve. You can let life wash over you without engaging, and flatline. Or you can engage and actively push those peaks up there and ride the resulting wave, including the valleys. It only is what it is if you let it stay that way. Change can be evoked, and it's passion that evokes change.

Did you read that?

Change can be evoked.

And thus is the conundrum of my life. While I am not a fan of change in the "Lassie is going off the air respect", I don't feel engaged and alive unless I invoke it. So I engage and push for change and feel wistful for the way things used to be. Repeat. It's just the way I am.

Indeed, you might even say, "it is what it is".

Sunday, April 10, 2011

My second inaugural post

I miss blogging. It's been 1.5 years since my last blog post and I think that hiatus has been long enough. Part of the reason I stopped blogging is because it was simply easier to communicate in sound-bites on Facebook, and I didn't feel the need to sit down and take the time to think things through on a broader scale with enough depth to create a blog post. I think I've had enough of that strictly fast-food diet now though, and am ready for some home baking again.

So in my second inaugural post, I figure I have several ways that I can proceed.

I could reintroduce myself and give a quick outline of the last year and a half - but I imagine most people are not exactly on tenterhooks to hear a year and a half of trivia.

I could explore the various options about what this blog should look like and be about and hear back from my readers - but it's awfully narcissistic to imagine that I have enough "readers" at all, much less enough readers that have an opinion about what I should blog about, to poll. That's just a silly option.

I could just...start back up. I'm going with this option.

Lassie is going off the air.

When I was a little girl, back in the wonderful world of 70's TV, one of my favorite shows (along with millions of other little girls) was "Lassie." There are several youtube clips from old Lassie shows, but this particular one is what I remember. The theme song is important. That sad, wistful melody, played in a whistle... At the end of the show, listening to that theme and watching Lassie stand on a hill with the wind blowing through her fur, I would just bawl. I'd sit there week after week and just sob and cry at the end of every show. I can't imagine what all my mom was thinking about me. She finally asked me why I cried at the end of every show. I don't remember the conversation we had, but I must have finally been able to articulate to her that I was crying simply because it was over. I'd spent the last 30 minutes enthralled with being a part of the world of Lassie, with all of its lessons about love and friendship and love and devotion and love and family and love. (I know - isn't this just the SAPPIEST?????) And after 30 minutes of heaven always came the same realization: that the show was over.

Ever since, the code phrase in my family for what is wrong when I am distraught in one fashion or another over some change or another, is that "Lassie is going off the air."

My baby - he just turned 15, and my other baby, the littlest one, is 12. I am in the twilight years of being a mom of schoolage children. For many years there, my house was one of toys scattered across the floor and a pantry full of juice boxes and applesauce. The laundry was copious and consisted of lots of dirty bibs and tons and tons and tons of socks. Currently, the bibs have been replaced by black vintage 80s rock band t-shirts and middle school uniforms, but the socks are still multiplying. I've finally gotten the lunch-packing business down to an art now, whipping out a couple of mostly healthy lunches packed in mostly reusable containers in just a few minutes every morning. I can cook up a homemade dinner with separate versions available for vegetarians or mushroom-haters. I sign off on tests and write letters asking for excused absences when my kids stay home from school sick, and I no longer feel like I'm forging the official mom signature. I'm no longer at a loss about how to let my kids hold a sleepover, and dutifully buy bags of cheetos and plenty of rootbeer just before pumping up the air mattress to throw in front of the TV/DVD player with movies carefully selected to just barely toe the line between parent-approved age-appropriateness and coolness. I still spend hours sitting and watching practices for soccer, baseball, and volleyball, and watching rehearsal for school plays and band concerts, and of course, attend said plays and concerts. I've moved away from volunteering each week in classrooms, but still chaperon dances and school trips, and hold offices in the PTA and band boosters. My life was and is defined by being mom.

And I see the end coming, as it must, as it should, as it will. I'm helping my son to structure his activities to look good for college applications. The prospect of paying for college is no longer something that I put way off into the future. I recently realized that the dozens of family vacations I've always wanted to take with the kids is going to need to be whittled down to only a few, because time is....well, it's finite. Before I know it, the frustrations of finding socks stuffed behind the couch cushions, empty soda cans in the playroom, and candy wrappers scattered over my buffet are going to be solved....because there will no longer be children in the house. Didn't I just start this journey? Wasn't it just a few years ago that I fell to my knees sobbing in front of the perfect baby boy in the bassinet because I suddenly realized that his only mom was... me? who had no idea what to do with a baby boy? Wasn't it just yesterday that I made my first batch of birthday cupcakes to take into school for my kindergartner and was buying adorable little girl dresses at Target? I entered the parenthood years with trepidation, but with more enthusiasm than I've ever had in my life. I had the wind knocked out of me with the transition to being a parent, but it was the most invigorating rollercoaster ride I'd ever been on.

Yet, I really don't want time to stop. I adore the young people my children are now. I adore them. I have the most amazing conversations with them, and I often walk away feeling humbled by their depth of feeling and their depth of understanding of very complicated issues. They are amazing people. What I do miss is the job I used to have. Just when I finally started to get my footing and figure it out, it is time to think about moving to the next phase. I'm excited for the future. I'm excited to see what my kids end up deciding to do with their lives and see who they become. But I hope you all understand if I occasionally make cupcakes with sprinkles and topped with a Hershey's kiss. I hope you allow me to occasionally watch reruns of "Little Bear" and "The Wiggles" without judging me. I will miss wiping fingerprints off the TV and buying orange juice by the gallon.

I never want to lose the people that my children are at the moment where we are. It's just that..I'm a little sad/wistful. My job as mom is slowly moving from being the center of their universes to being someone who is merely very important. I will no longer be the architect of their every activity, the artist who colors their world. They will appreciate my cooking, but my job of feeding their souls will be gone. As it should be.
I'm just a little sad/wistful, because Lassie is going off the air.