This Thanksgiving, Balancing Gratitude with Complaints

I have a confession to make:  I struggled writing this post.  It’s Thanksgiving, so naturally I wanted this week’s post to be about giving thanks.  I started writing about all the things for which I am truly grateful — my supportive family, my good health, my comfortable home, etc. — but I felt like a fraud.  The kids were fighting, my head was aching and my house was a mess.  Instead of being grateful, I was screaming at the boys, whining about a head cold and bitching about having to clean crumbs off the kitchen counter for the fifth time in one day.  The more I forced myself to write, the more I felt like a liar … So I stopped writing.

Then this morning I woke up, worked out and got over it.  I put on my big girl panties and moved on.  Some days suck and it is difficult to see the blessings through the bullshit, but deep down I know my life is pretty good.  I am lucky to have so much to complain about.  It’s all about perspective.  As bad as you think it is, it can always be worse.

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Don’t get me wrong — this “revelation” doesn’t mean I’ll stop complaining.  Complaining is part of my charm.  Give me an hour and I’m sure I’ll have something to kvetch about (traffic, unruly kids, a stomach ache perhaps).  But at the same time, I’ll do my best to look for the silver linings.  For example:

  • I may complain about not being able to see, hear or control my bladder, but I will be grateful for my health.
  • I may groan about gray hair and wrinkles, but I will relish my maturity.
  • I may moan about sore muscles, but I will be invigorated by my morning workouts.
  • I may grumble about never-ending housework, but I will be appreciative of the roof over my head.
  • I may whine about having to drive the kids all over Southern PA for practices and games, but I will feel blessed that they are healthy, happy and engaged.
  • I may bitch about the mundane crap that fills my days, but I will be thankful for not having to work to make ends meet.
  • I may bellyache about feeling under-appreciated, but I will be humbled when readers tells me I’ve helped them feel less isolated and more understood.

Bottom line: This Thanksgiving, I feel lucky.  Lucky enough to complain and even luckier that the people and things I was grateful for last year still hold true this year.  Today I’m going to hold on to that lucky feeling and try really hard not to complain about anything.  I’ll go back to complaining tomorrow.

47efb9633bb2eddf5fa0c9db748431a8– LJDT

(Not) Music to my Ears

I do not come from a musical family.  No one can read music, play an instrument or even carry a tune.  Nonetheless, where I grew up, joining the school band or orchestra was a rite of passage.  During elementary school, my sister tried to play the flute.  When she couldn’t get a sound out of it, she switched unsuccessfully to the clarinet.  I played the violin and erroneously thought I was pretty good because I was second chair.  In hindsight, I think I was just the second best of the worst.  In any event, a music career was not in either of our futures.

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This horrible photo is the only hard evidence that I actually played the violin.

Fast-forward thirty years and the tradition continues.  When my oldest was in fourth and fifth grades, he took up percussion:  A relatively safe choice that included a simple drum pad and bell kit (think xylophone, but metal and high-pitched).  He practiced regularly that first year and was pretty good, so listening to him was relatively painless.  It was even more painless the second year when he lost interest and conveniently “forgot” his instrument at school each week, which meant he stopped practicing at home.

Now my 9-year-old is playing percussion and it is anything but music to my ears.  At first, I was thrilled because (1) we already have a perfectly good drum pad and bell kit so we didn’t have to pay for another instrument and (2) listening to my first newbie drummer wasn’t a horrible experience, so I figured it wouldn’t be this time around either.

I was wrong — at least on the second count — and now the thrill is gone.

As much as my boys look alike and enjoy many of the same things, they are very different in many ways.  Learning how to play an instrument is one of those ways.  My 9-year-old struggles with the notes and does not understand how to control the volume.  Every drum beat is deafeningly loud.  Every bell note is deafeningly loud and high-pitched.  And because he hasn’t mastered the notes yet, the deafeningly loud sounds he produces are anything but melodious.  I love my son, but listening to him play the drums/bells is killing me slowly.  I realize it’s only been a month since he started lessons, so I can only hope for both our sakes that he improves over time.  He can’t get any worse, right?

So what’s a mom to do until practice makes perfect?  I, for one, am going to search the house for earplugs, put on my ‘good mommy pants’ so I can praise his dedication and fortitude and then say a little prayer that he occasionally “forgets” his instrument in school … Just don’t tell him I said that!

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He looks cute, but he’s no Ringo Starr.

– LJDT

Early Menopause … Living the Dream

ATTENTION TO THE MEN WHO READ MY BLOG:  Talk of periods, poop and PMS to follow.  Proceed with caution.

Getting older sucks.  Gray hair, wrinkles, constipation and, as if that wasn’t enough, peri-menopause and menopause.  Welcome to the world of irregular periods, hot flashes, night sweats, weight gain and severe mood swings … Good times!  Think lions and tigers and bears are scary?  Try living with a woman going through menopause … Screaming and crying and swearing, oh my!

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T.M.I. Alert:  I haven’t had a period since November 2012.  Thanksgiving day, to be exact.  Almost three years ago.  Menopause at age 40 … Yep, it’s true.

Between the ages of 38 and 40, I experienced typical peri-menopause symptoms: hot flashes and night sweats, sporadic periods and severe mood swings, sleepless nights and unexplained weight gain.  I thought I had severe PMS.  My family thought I was a crazy bitch with an attitude problem.  It sucked.  A LOT.  For me and everyone near me.  But it’s over now and I have to admit, being on the other side of menopause does have some benefits.  Here are the five best things about being post-menopausal:

  1. I save money not buying tampons and pads every month.
  2. I can wear white whenever I want.
  3. I spend less time shaving your legs (less body hair is another fun side effect of menopause).
  4. Three words: No more PMS.
  5. Two words: Safer sex (no birth control required!).

Jealous?

But for every positive, there’s a negative, right?  For example, …

  1. All the money I save not buying tampons is now spent on Poise pads and Benefiber.
  2. I still use “protection” when I wear white — just in case (you never know!).
  3. Less body hair applies everywhere, including eyebrows (although, I am constantly checking for old lady chin hairs).
  4. No PMS means I have no excuse for my bitchiness.
  5. No eggs = no more babies … Actually, at 43, I’m not sure there is a down side to this one.

As my sister says, it is what it is.

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– LJDT