Strolling down Melancholy Lane

I’m completely out of sorts.

It’s not just that I got so sick, and then recovered just in time to catch some sort of sinus thing, instead, although I’m sure none of that helps. And it’s not just that we’ve now been away for over a week, and I’m learning that in my old age a week is about my limit before I start itching for my own space. It’s not even the various and sundry family drahhhhhmaaaahhhs going on, or the fact that I’ve seen my poor husband going through a level of stress this past week that I’ve never seen before, not even when his mom was in the ICU this summer and we didn’t think she’d pull through.

It’s all of that, and also being back in New England, and driving past my old house last night, and a hundred other things. Taken individually, each thing is small and manageable, and collectively, it just makes me feel heavy and slow and sad.

And then I went and checked my IRA account this morning, because apparently I didn’t have enough to be depressed about. I honestly have no idea what I was thinking. That, of course, prompted Otto to check his. And while we were both well aware of the state of the economy (DUH) and all of that, it was quite another thing to be sitting in bed together with our laptops, discussing how really, it’s fine, it’s all fine that we won’t be able to retire until we’re 105 and 106. No problem. We LIKE working. Forever. Apparently.

(Do you think I’ll still be able to blog when I’m old and arthritic? Maybe I should start saving up for good voice-recognition software, just in case.)

We’ve seen friends who have changed so much since we saw them last, and missed seeing other friends for various reasons (which means another long stretch of time before we may see them again), and I’ve had a lot of friends on the brain who have slipped out of my life in this past year. Some have gone quietly, and others with raucous exits, but the fact remains: Relationships are unpredictable. And there are people I miss, regrets I have, and situations where I’m not particularly proud of how I handled myself or others. I was telling Otto the other day that it took me over 30 years to stop expecting everyone to live up to my (usually impossibly high) expectations, but now I think I’m quicker just to back away than I used to be. I used to stay and argue. Now I shrug and move on, or move away. It makes for a lot of changes, feels like.

I’m missing the kids, too. We pick them up tomorrow morning, and not a moment too soon, because Chickadee is having a little too much fun tormenting me. She’s at that age, you know, when she’s not only figured out the difference between harmless and truly obnoxious ways to push my buttons, but she just finds it hilarious.

The kids call every day. Monkey’s conversation is always the same, you know: Something along the lines of, “Well, hi Mama, I’m being a good boy, and I love you, and I miss you, and I’ll talk to you tomorrow night! Okay! Bye!” If I ask him a specific question (if I can get a word in edgewise), he’ll answer it, sure. But he doesn’t really feel the need to “report” much.

Chickadee, on the other hand, is having wayyyyyyyy too much fun yanking my chain.

I mean, I figured out a long time ago to not ask questions to which I don’t want to know the answers. Needless to say, the kids’ dad and I have different philosophies on many things. So I’ve adopted a don’t-ask policy, which worked really well while the kids recognized that their corresponding role was to DON’T TELL. But now Chickadee is positively GLEEFUL to tell me anything she thinks might cause my head to explode.

“Hey Mom,” she started out the other day, on the phone. “Do you think that four cups of lemonade in a day is too many?”

I sighed. “Gosh, honey,” I said, “I have no idea. What did you do today? Did you go anywhere?”

“Well,” she responded, “I was just WONDERING what you thought. Because that’s what I had. Today. FOUR ENTIRE CUPS OF LEMONADE. Full of SUGAR.”

I studied the ceiling and shifted the phone to my other ear. “Wow,” I said, keeping my voice as flat as possible. “That’s something. Anyway—”

“No milk,” she added, barely keeping the giggle out of her voice. “No water. Just lemonade. FOUR CUPS.”

“So, can I talk to Monkey?” I said.

“No,” she answered. And then laughed. Somewhat demonically, I’m afraid.

And then another day, this:

“Mom, remember how I was worried that Daddy wouldn’t know what to feed me now that I’m a vegetarian?”

“Yes…?” I was a little worried about where this was going.

“Well it’s FINE, because I’ve been having cheesy scrambled eggs!”

“Oh, well those are a good choice once in a while,” I answered, walking STRAIGHT INTO HER TRAP.

“Yes! Every day! SOMETIMES TWICE!” She laughed merrily, and I tried to redirect the conversation. After we got off the phone, I asked Otto if they do angioplasty on 10-year-olds.

But it’s fine. It’s all fine. Tomorrow we’ll be back together again, we’ll head to my folks’ and the second (and final) leg of our trip, and soon I’ll be back home. To my house, my bed, my stuff, my children back on their routines, our diets back to normal, and (hopefully) back to good health and a sense of control.

I’m sure this is all just control-freak me feeling out-of-balance because being on the road means being at everyone else’s mercy (no matter how gracious) all the time. Still. I’m sort of looking forward to being extra mean to whip the kids back into shape next week.

In my head I just said “No lemonade for you!” in my best Soup Nazi voice, and it cheered me up immensely. So, you know, there’s hope. Onward and upward.


  1. JennyM

    I think most of us have impossibly high expectations for The Holidays as it is, and about December 29th, when the sparkly glow wears off and OMG are we having dadgum PIE for dinner AGAIN, and you realize, yet again, how hard it is to meet and sustain what we’ve conditioned ourselves to expect from this time of year…. well, you have the makings of a serious Post-Holiday Funk. At least, it happens to me every year, and that’s without adding family dramas and heinously lengthy road trips and the Ghosts of Relationships Past into the mix.

    Here’s hoping for a peaceful return to points south and a righteous laying of the smackdown for the New Year! Just contemplating a diet of lemonade and cheesy scrambled eggs is making my stomach hurt.

  2. Jenny

    And apparently, I’ve been logged out of WordPress for the past couple of months. All those terribly insightful comments from JennyM are me!

  3. Lori

    Perhaps you need to tell Chickadee what eggs are. Then again, that may cause her to live solely on lemonade and cheese while at her Dad’s. Maybe it’s better just to go to your happy place for a little while…

  4. Barbara

    (I just love getting to be one of the first ten commenters!)

    This is typical. As I read your post I worry for you, start thinking of anything helpful, or not, that I can leave in comments, and then you solve your own issues by the end of the post. You are so WELL, Mir.

  5. daring one

    It’s amazing how so many seemingly small things can build out of control. Sometimes my last straw makes very little sense to Dan but then I try to explain everything that led up to it and how overwhelmed I am. I get it. Very recently have I gotten it again.

    You’ll have you kids back soon. You can torment THEM in person. Just let that thought light up your face for a moment.

  6. Lauren

    When I was a kid visiting my dad, I remember once he got us donuts, for BREAKFAST!!! My sister and I just looked at each other and silently swore never to tell my mom.

  7. Karen

    At 43 I’m too old for longer-than-a-week away from home too. Who woulda thunk it.

  8. Shannon

    Regarding cheesy scrambled eggs: I definitely would not tell her about the plight of egg laying hens OR dairy cows, lest her diet become strictly lemonade.
    Just take a deep breath and remember that active kids can get away with eating a lot more crap before they need angioplasty than adults can.
    Soon she will be back in your clutches and you can torment her by refusing to let her drink bags of sugar. ;o)

  9. Half Assed Kitchen

    Maybe it was skim cheese? And those Omega-3 eggs?

  10. Kath

    I recognize all the symptoms. Holidayitis. I’ve diagnosed you and I’m not even a doctor, I only play one in blog land.

    You are weary. You need home. You need to wrap your arms around those kids. You need to not look at your retirement account right now, you weren’t going to retire this year anyway, things will get better. You probably need four cups of lemonade (gin laced) and scrambledy cheesy eggs served to you in bed, on a tray.


  11. Paula

    Well you found it out, two weeks is – lets say – a bit long, I think. Dont’t worry about the lemonade and the scrambled eggs, the more you worry the more you make her “hot”. And, besides, the most actual scientific research about cholesterol says that eggs are not half as dangerous as asumed.

    Relax! Nothing drives daughters more to eating disorders than overconcerned and controlling mothers.And, by the way, I never understood why Americans call their normal daily food “diet”. In our language “diet” means something special, reduced, irregular, once you are ill and have to avoid certain food. “Diet” sounds like “sick” to me.


  12. Meg

    “Regarding cheesy scrambled eggs: I definitely would not tell her about the plight of egg laying hens OR dairy cows, lest her diet become strictly lemonade.”

    Shannon said EXACTLY what I was going to say. Although I might suggest telling her all about the cruel treatment of sugarcane and lemons before lemonade reaches her…

  13. bob

    visiting get better as kids get older. duh. like you couldn’t figure THAT out. Our trips to KC (usually a week) always end too soon, wishing we could stay longer. We make our own plans while there, the kids participating or not as they please. Of course, I think I’m a bit more easygoing than you, happy to go along with what others want to do or doing my own thing the rare times I don’t want to join in.

    Sorry Otto is stressed – hopefully that is lessening now that you’re feeling (somewhat) better. Maybe you (and he) will feel better at your dad’s.

    don’t forget to relax and go with the flow. after all, it’s your vacation!

  14. C.J.

    Come on Mir! You must know somewhere in your heart that eggs, cheese and sugar really will not hurt your child for a few days or even weeks. It’s really just the conflict with your ex that makes you crazy. And I agree with Paula. Being too controlled at that age can trigger eating disorders. I speak from experience. Kids gotta rebel at something!

  15. Gem

    It’s so hard to maintain a happy and relaxed exterior 24/7, even when you are happy and relaxed! So when you are staying with someone else, no matter how nice they are and how hospitable they are, you have to do that, and it is very tiring. Add in to the mix memories of your old life, missing the kids, financial worries, Otto’s stresses and not feeling very well and it’s very easy to see why you might not be feeling great. You need time in your own home with your kids and Otto and your own routine and all will be well, or at least improved!
    I was a great believer in routine and limits when the kids were toddlers and babies but assumed the need for this would pass. Now I find the teenagers need limits in the exact same way as toddlers need them and I need my routine to keep me on an even keel!! I guess you don’t go backwards so I will never have that ability to disregard everything again that I had in my 20’s. Now that’s depressing. LOL

  16. just beaux

    I think you’re homesick. You have a 10 year old vegetarian? My 9 yr old leans that way and I thought it was kind of strange. But now I’m hearing more of it. Huh?
    Hope you two still manage to find sometime to enjoy your vacation. Not the greatest time to be looking at your retirement fund. (Like any other time soon would be.)

  17. Stephanie

    Retirement is overrated! LOL Looking at your portfolio is a shock, I’m sure, but just try not to think about it. There’s really nothing that can be done, anyway…I just wish I had known you were contemplating looking…I would have warned you off.

    As for Chickadee…this is just the BEGINNING of the button pushing. You’re dealing with it well. As soon as she realizes the buttons aren’t working, she’s going to try to find something *else* to use to drive you INSANE. She’s not going to get an eating disorder because you care about what she puts in her body. You love your kids and you’re being the best, most educated parent you can be. You’re not berating Chickadee…you’re just not responding to her button pushing. THAT is EXACTLY the way to handle it.

    Hang in there…the holidays are almost behind you. :-)

  18. Lylah

    You are awesome and pretty! Things will go back to normal soon. Hope you have a safe and sane drive home.

  19. Brigitte

    They didn’t give you any extra morphine to take home, huh? THAT’S when you should be looking at your IRAs!

    Once you’re home, I hope you vow to take at least one January day to lay on the couch in your slippers eating bonbons, when you are perfectly healthy (so decadent)!

  20. tj


    I love you. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  21. Mom101

    Aw you seem so melancholy, even with the optimistic endign. I think it’s an end of the year thing. I get it too.

    (Bad time to check the IRA by the way. As I just learned this week.)

  22. carolyn

    When my ex and I divorced, I was super-strict with the routine, just to compensate for the lack of anything even remotely resembling a routine at their Dad’s house. Eventually, I learned to relax my expectations and sort of go with the flow. And now, many years removed, my kids are flexible, mostly well-rounded and happy teenagers.Please don’t worry too much about them, Mir. Ten years from now, you will look back fondly and not really remember the lemonade and eggs….I promise.

  23. Giyen

    Bring on 2009. Upward is the only direction we can go.

    Me hopes!


  24. Catherine

    I’ve read, loved, and flat out enjoyed your blog for some time now. I live in the boonies, and would like to think that if we lived in the same town, we might find the same things to complain about.

    I, too, am the stricter parent in my family of “Fairly Strict Parents.” I also teach middle school, and deal with a share of divorced parents. So, I do know about some things. Some.

    What you are complaining about—OMG. LET IT GO. Double Blech. Cheesy eggs and lemonade. I do think that you Ex sucks lemons and eggs, and clearly, he can’t do better!!

    You should offer to make this dish upon her return home whilst the rest of you eat actual tasty food.

    If she brings up the “off limits” things, you should laugh and say, “I think you already had fun with that.” Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Hope I didn’t make you mad by saying you are a control freak, but a well-meaning one…


  25. Flea

    Holidays begone! There. All better now.

  26. ChristieNY

    Oh Mir. You are so shiny and pretty and need a vacation from your vacation. And a day full of yummy food, after the Christmas cracker diet.

    Glad you’re feeling better in body. Hope your spirit is feeling better soon too. I think a Chickie, a Monkey, an Otto, your Dad, and eventually your very own pillow will make you feel a hundred times better.

    Hang in there and Happy 2009! <3

  27. Megan

    But it was real lemonade, right? Made with lemons and sugar and not from a tin with powdered stuff? Because real lemonade would at least have fresh fruit juice and vitamin C while the powdered stuff… Perhaps you and Chickie could have a happy hour or two reading the ingredients list and trying to draw the molecules of the various bits and bobbles that go in. Educational fun! Ooh! And you could both work out just how many spoonfuls of sugar were in each glass and then make a visual display of her day’s consumption! On second thought, I just looked those facts up so my second suggestion is that you inform Chickie you trust her ability to make wise choices about her diet since she’s such a mature, responsible creature and then cultivate a saint-like calm by chanting over and over, “she will survive and so will I, she will survive and so will I…”

  28. frogmama

    Hang in there! There’s always hope, and getting home usually puts things back in order. Usually! Happy New Year.

  29. Katie in MA

    I’m sure part of it is just feeling out of control. (I have huge control issues, I’ve just learned. You’d think I’d have noticed before, but noooooo.) Maybe the next time Chickie pulls that, you should tell her it’s okay when you’re on vacation, but 4 cups of sugar certainly makes her tease and be mean to her mama, and that’s not nice at all. It’s what I call my Berenstein Bears tactic, because, boy, did Mama Bear sure know how to pull a good guilt trip.

  30. Neil

    Wishing you a healthy New Year. Stay out of hospitals. The food is usually pretty bad. And they make you were those shirt/dress things that open in the back, showing you off to everyone.

  31. Trish/Astrogirl426

    Maybe this will cheer you up:

    8 hours and 2008 will officially be OVER.

    And Obama will be president in 20 days.

    And you are so very, very pretty. And your shoes! Oh! To die for!

    Happy New Year, Mir and Otto clan! We love you all here at the bunker!

  32. susie

    I too am on “vacation” visiting family in New England and can’t wait to go home. Except here the four cups of high fructose syrup juice is coming from Grandma rather than Dad. Happy New Year!

  33. momzen

    Even when you’re home, it get’s a little wierd. I finally got through all the holiday stuff, and my (former) best friend just sent ANOTHER batch of cookies. And white-chocolate-dipped pretzels. Oh the pain.

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