My big girl panties look like running shorts

This week is Operation Rejoin The Human Race.

Oh, I know, you weren’t aware that I left. But I did! Every now and then my natural tendencies towards hermit-tude intersect with massive life suckage and then I go underground (metaphorically—the clay in Georgia is far too hard for actual tunneling) and the extent of what I say in public is limited to things like, “The sunlight! IT BURNS!”

At a certain point, my darling husband starts looking at me with a gaze tinged with equal parts pity and fear, and then I know it’s time to pull myself up by my bootstraps. Or shave my legs again. Whatever.

This week has been highly cooperative in that the weather has been gorgeous. So, step one of my plan: Licorice and I have gone for a long walk every day. This is especially exciting because there’s a dead squirrel along our regular route. I KNOW.

So we go do our daily jaunt and Licorice’s tongue flops out of her mouth (floppy dog tongue = instant hit of happiness) and I listen to an episode of “Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me” (I’m only about three months behind on my podcasts) and by the time we get back to the house, I feel almost virtuous. (I’d probably feel more virtuous if I was actually running, instead of just wearing running shorts and walking like the lazyass I am, but whatever. Details.)

The walking itself is not going to fix everything, of course, but it’s a crucial component of… um… reinvigoration. Which is a fancy word for “stopping me from sinking into my customary groove on the couch.”

As for fixing everything else….

Ha. Hahahahahaha. HA.

Ahem. Oh, right. Let’s see.

The dog situation: We have decided not to go with the facility we visited, due to the long wait, expense, distance, etc. I’m open to working with a local trainer if we happen to trip over a suitable dog, but realistically the chances of that happening are slim. We’ll see.

The school situation: It’s very important to me that Monkey feel like his change in schedule next year is TOTALLY AWESOME, because if he feels like he’s missing stuff on the days he doesn’t attend Hippie School, that’s going to be a disaster. So. I spent some time on this issue this week and yesterday I proposed my solution to him and he was completely stoked. Here in Georgia we have an online Virtual School system available to all high schoolers; it allows homeschoolers to take more structured classes, plus it gives a wider availability of classes without having to hire additional staff at the public schools. (For example, Chickadee is doing Virtual Math this year because she’s taking a 9th grade class which isn’t taught at the middle school.) I casually suggested to Monkey that he continue at Hippie School three days a week, but on the other two days we’ll start doing Virtual School, instead, because that will allow him to start high school early. He’s totally on board, and at just a couple of classes per semester, it means that when he actually DOES start high school, he’ll be a year ahead.

[Sidebar: It’s not perfect. I still wish we didn’t have to do this. But it is what it is and the reality is that we have no clue what Monkey will be ready for when it comes to high school, anyway. Do I think he’ll be able to do ninth grade work as a seventh grader when he doesn’t have to sit in a classroom and deal with other kids? Sure. Do I think it would be a good idea to skip him up a grade if we choose to place him back in public school for high school? HAHAHAHAHAAAAAAAAA oh good God nooooo. It could be that Virtual School works wonderfully for him and that’s how he’ll end up completing high school. It could be a complete disaster. ARE WE HAVING FUN YET?]

The everything else situation: So you know how there are five stages of grief that apply to many of life’s upheavals? I have discovered that as soon as it became clear that my kid wasn’t, you know, going to die or anything—and I’d finished whiplashing my way through the five stages in regards to her illness—I started going through those five stages as regards my ability to work.

First it was OH NO, I can keep working through all of this! I will just take my laptop to the hospital! No problem!

Then it was SCREW THIS NOISE, I can’t be expected to work while this is going on. How can you even suggest I should?? You’re an ass.

I rather enjoyed the bargaining. For me, that was like bargaining with a double side-order of guilt. “I will be WHOLLY PRESENT IN THIS MOMENT with my sick child, but when the minute hand gets to the 6 I am allowed to leave for half an hour to get some work done so that we don’t all STARVE TO DEATH.” Yeah, that felt like stellar parenting, lemme tell ya.

Otto was required to be extra-patient and encouraging through the depression stage. Because she’ll never be healthy again! And my clients are all going to ditch me! And we’ll be destitute! And she’ll be sick! WE’LL BE SICK AND DESTITUTE AND IT TOOK ME YEARS TO BUILD THIS CAREER AND IT’S ALL GONE TO SHIT AND WHAT DO YOU MEAN I’M YELLING? Good times, man. Good times.

Here in the acceptance phase, I am still prone to the occasional tantrum, but it’s getting better. Chickadee is getting better every day (except on the days when she’s not; LALALALA I can’t HEEEAR YOU), and I am just going to have to take a clue from my youngest and work on being more flexible. Some days are all doctors’ appointments and I just don’t get to work very much. OH WELL. Some days are “regular” days but my productivity still isn’t where it was before, and that’s okay—the earth is not going to open up and swallow me, the sky isn’t going to fall, etc. Is my income down? Yep. Does it suck? Eh. We’re okay for now. I am lucky to be in a position where I can take all of this time off without ending up completely unemployed. I am lucky to have a spouse with a secure job.

I am lucky to be periodically worrying about my career instead of still sitting in a hospital wondering if my kid is ever coming home. That has a way of putting things in perspective, no?

In other words: Onwards and upwards. Licorice and I aren’t solving the world’s problems on our daily stroll, but some fresh air and a floppy tongue can only help. When we get back, I drink a glass of water and Licorice laps up half a dish of water and then curls up for a nap under the futon in my office. I listen to her snore and nothing has changed, really, but it all seems a little more manageable.

It’ll do, for now.


  1. amy

    Hang in there! The sunshine will come through the clouds!

  2. Amelia

    I’m so happy to hear that you’re grabbing Hope by its wispy little tailfeathers and hanging on tight. Good for you :).

  3. dad

    Stated with grace.

    Love you.

  4. Mandy

    Oh, Mir. So glad you’ve been able to keep your wicked sense of humor in the midst of all these challenges.

    hugs to all!

  5. Amy

    You know, just from your posts in the past, I can see Monkey loving the idea of a virtual school. It really does seem right up his alley. I mean seriously, school, on a computer, how cool is that?

    Also, in regards to the hippie field trips that he might miss…I know lots of farmers in your area who would probably be more than happy to let you bring him over for a day out communing with the land :-).

    And I’m so glad that things are looking up for you guys!

  6. Karen R.

    Best wishes on everything that is going on in your life. Perhaps there is a Hippie High School?

  7. Melissa

    Thank you for the update. We’re all rooting for you.

  8. Peg


    Glad to hear you’re hanging on and coming through.

    I don’t usually comment, because so many others say what I’m thinking so much better than I can, but I just want to drop in and let you know I’ve been worrying about you and your family. Sending good thoughts and all that. I’m a very long time reader and as creepy as it sounds, you and your family have a space in my head that is part of my life. Like friends, only more stalkerish, ya know?

    Anyway. Thanks for writing, for sharing, and for letting us be part of your ‘family’. Good, warm, healthy thoughts to you all, including Licorice.

  9. Megan

    How cool to have an online option for Monkey! We didn’t have anything nearly that good or flexible when I wanted to homeschool my kids for a bit. Of course, I wanted to homeschool partly ’cause the school system sucked so deeply and thoroughly so maybe it’s not surprising there wasn’t a super awesome online option?

    ANYWAY, it’s so good to have some flexibility right when you need it. And even if it’s a long shot, I’m gonna still cross my fingers that The Very Right Dog comes into Monkey’s life.

  10. Alison C

    You might say that walking is not much but the fresh air, sunshine and a little exercise might just be what saves your sanity.

    I work all day and love the hour I spend wlaking my dog in the evening. I am listening to the Hunger Games at the minute and loving Audible because I want to keep listening and this encourages me to walk even when I don’t feel the enthusiasm. I am really looking forward to when our clocks go forward because then I get the bonus of walking in daylight!

    I am glad that Monkey seems keen on Virtual school and still send ing healing thoughts to Chickie.

    Hugs for you & Otto too.

  11. Barbara

    Floppy dog tongue, NPR, sunshine, dead squirrel…wait, one of these things is not like the others….

    Glad you’re finding amusement. :)

  12. Stimey

    It’s all so much. Little steps are the best way to start. Hopefully they will lead to all kinds of happy and well being for everyone in your family.

  13. Aimee

    Never underestimate the power of a floppy tongue. I have that same hermit tendency when the going gets difficult, so I sympathize and applaud you taking walks and finding solutions. It isn’t easy, but I know you can do it :)

  14. Rita

    I have a boy who is, um, quirky (this is putting it mildly). I took him out of public school for a variety of reasons and put him in a school that only meets two days per week. The other three days he’s “homeschooling” with me (although really I’m just managing his homework, his teachers introduce all of the lessons at school). Anyway, we LOVE this setup. It works so well for him. It gives him a chance to be social (at school), but he doesn’t become overwhelmed by the crazy madness of 5 days per week with a bajillin other kids.

    Just thought I’d offer up some encouragement. My kid is happy and (surprisingly) I haven’t gone insane yet. So yay!

    P.s. I live next door to Susan Wagner from Friday Playdate. I think you know each other? Maybe?

  15. Katie

    Glad things are calming down for you a bit. I think you have coped amazingly well. Hope Chickie’s recovery continues. You will figure things out for Monkey. Things have a way of working out the way they are supposed to if you just get out of the way and let them happen. I resisted the homeschooling for my kiddo, but at 3/4 of the way through our first year, I would call it a success. He is a much happier guy, and it is less stressful than having him in school.

  16. Another Dawn

    Dog snores are one of the most highly underrated curatives on the planet.

  17. Beth R

    OMG Dead Squirrel!!! A happy Licorice leads to a happier Mir. So it’s all good in my book.

  18. Liza

    *hugs* Good for you for getting some exercise. It sounds like it is helping. And I’m stoked that Monkey is excited about Virtual School. Maybe he can get all the way done with high school early and have some other new adventures before you let him launch into the world.

  19. Little Bird

    Walking is good for what ails you. Assuming that one is mobile I guess. My mom and I are big walkers. By the end of the day I will have walked about nine miles. My mother says walking makes her feel better, it helps her mood.
    Besides, jogging is too akin to running, and running is something I only do to catch the subway train before it leaves the platform or to escape a fire.

  20. Jeanie

    Dogs can definitely help to ease weary souls.

  21. Marie

    Virtual school sounds like a good option. I am a speech
    Language pathologist and do teletherapy for a virtual
    School in Indiana. Many of my students sound like Monkey
    and are adjusting well to a different service delivery model. Good luck!

  22. Marie

    Sorry for the crazy format on my previous post. Dang iPhone

  23. Katherine

    Sounds like a good plan. Also sounds like one where you could choose to go join hippie school on a field trip and do the virtual school later.

  24. danielle t.

    i feel like i would understand all of your posts better if i knew what was going on with chickadee?? because part of me feels like its cancer and the other part feels like it’s not–just wanting some clarity here! either way, lots and lots and lots of love!

  25. Mir

    Oh lord, I’m sorry. NOT CANCER. Chronic but manageable (we think) at this point.

  26. Sheila

    (Heh. You said ‘panties.’)

    Meanwhile, yes, onward and upward. That has a nice ring to it. Enjoy the fresh air and road kill!

  27. Reb

    Brilliant solution for Monkey. I’m really impressed.

  28. Sarah

    About the therapy dog — you may have checked out this group already, but they sound amazing and do dogs for kids with a lot of different concerns, not just the usual. I have no idea about their wait, but wanted to pass it along anyway!

  29. Little Bird

    I can’t tell you how relieved I am (and probably everyone else) to hear that whatever Chickadee has is manageable! Yay for manageable!!!

  30. victoria

    I echo #29 Little Bird’s comments! And I hope that ”managable” will some day be the point from which you have come, (can look back on) rather than the hoped-for objective. That things get better for your daughter.

  31. Brigitte

    Um, well, your 2012 tax return ought to be pretty good, what with less income and more medical and education expenses, eh?

    OK, floppy dog tongue and snoring are better cheerer-uppers.

  32. Lara

    I haven’t commented in awhile though still reading! Sorry it’s been so rough lately. I know that it will all work out because you fight so hard to find the best solution for your kids! Wish it was a little less challenging though ;) I keep reading that exercise is the best thing for emotional health so good on you for getting out for those walks! I recently started exercising on the elliptical and it has made our challenges here more bearable – and that’s without a floppy tongue so you should be feeling re-energized soon ;) I really hope Chickie stays out of hospital and hopefully gets her old energy back. P.S. Curious (but feel free to say none of your business!) whether Chickie’s ongoing rash issues are related to the recent crisis?

  33. Kindra

    Aww hang in there the weather should help, it has helped me :)

  34. Daisy

    I love my job teaching online. I hope your online experience works well for Monkey. Our program is very structured, and I know Monkey (like my boy) thrives on structure. I hope Georgia’s virtual school is exactly what Monkey needs.

  35. carson

    K12 does a virtual homeschooling thing that at one point at least was part of the GA system and was also all ages. I looked into that years ago. BTW, if I can get my aspie to the point where she could do the virtual school, I AM SO THERE.

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