Family Camp

We recently got back from a truly great family vacation. We were in the north woods of Minnesota for a week, staying at family camp. Our family camp was with a YMCA camp that was described to me as being “magical” before we left. The camp is so popular that there you have to enter a lottery to get a chance to sign up for a week and I was a little concerned at first that it was overhyped. Like, could it really be *that* great?

Short answer: YESSSSSSSSS

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View from our bed. Clearly the worst.

 

For a week, we lived in a little cabin with no bathroom and hiked, kayaked, made art (there was an amazing art center at family camp, which was Ev’s favorite part), and swam in an icy cold lake (because: Minnesota). We had basically no cell service and my phone couldn’t connect to the internet.  I thought that would make me feel anxious but instead it was a relief. I went to bed early, I got in an average of 15,000 steps a day, I played with my kids and laughed with my husband. I ate chocolate peanut butter ice cream cones every day and still came home weighing less then when I left.

 

I don’t think the kids bickered with each other once during the whole week. I was reminded once of how hard it used to be to travel with them, not because they were especially difficult but just because babies and toddlers are just more work than bigger kids are. They are 5 and 9 now and are at peak family camp ages, I think. Every day at camp started with 2.5 hours of age groups, where the kids were in the custody of some aggressively cheerful and extroverted counselors. They got to go explore the woods. My husband and I got to do whatever we wanted for 2.5 hours. I read three books in seven days and it was glorious.

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Although there were a lot of other families there, nobody got on my nerves, except for one other family. However, they got on my nerves in a specific way that I could gossip with my husband about them later. Everyone who is married knows this (the shared experience of social interactions and the debriefing of them afterwards) is one of the perks of married life and can be highly satisfying, especially if you and your spouse are annoyed by the same people.

We ended up spending a lot of time with another family that we clicked with and that I’m hopeful we might be able to transition them into real life friends, not just camp friends. I need to get over my post-camp shyness and invite them over for dinner or something. And also convince them to move to our neighborhood. Maybe start with dinner first.

My husband fell in love with kayaking, which reaffirms my belief that we as a family were not meant to keep living in Arizona. #Lakes4Ever

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This water is not warm. At all. There is a reason that she is the only one in the lake.

The only downside of family camp was that we were in a “rustic” cabin with no bathroom facilities and one of the kids got a mild stomach bug that led to several frantic middle of the night trips to the outhouse and the more than one occasion where we didn’t quite make it in time. There were no laundry facilities, so I ended up boiling water and using dish soap to try to clean the poop stained underwear, just like the pioneers must have done, if pioneers listened to podcasts and drank icy Diet Cokes while doing their chores.

This week has been a difficult one, in terms of re-entry into real life. I’ve been struggling with not resenting my job for making me come back while also recognizing that my job gives me the money required to go to family camp. Sigh. This is one of those weeks were I really feel like I could adapt well to be independently wealthy, if only given the chance.

 

 

 

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One Good Day

In a few minutes I’ll start the process of getting ready for bed. My process is pretty simple: brush teeth, wipe face with a diaper wipe (My baby has been potty trained for a year but you’ll pry the diaper wipes from my cold dead hands. #wipesforever), and then I take 10 minutes to update my bullet journal.

Now, I should note that there are beautiful examples out there of what bullet journals can look like, so if you are unfamiliar with the concept, look at these lovely examples and then immediately forget them because mine is not nearly so fancy. I use markers but that is about it. In my journal I have a monthly to-do list, a monthly calendar, and then a section with daily goals. The daily goal section is the most fun to update: I have a list of goals and then each day has a box that I can fill in if I’ve met that goal. This is where the markers come in. The goals section has enough space for about two weeks and then I start a new page, sometimes I carry goals forward and sometimes I start some new ones, depending on various life circumstances. As any list lover can imagine, filling in the boxes is very satisfying.

But here is the thing that is vexing me: I have yet to have a day where I fill in every box. And it is kind of starting to drive me nuts. I want a day with a full line of boxes stretching down the page. I want the invisible gold star.

My upcoming week is a less crazy than usual. I’m only working three days and I’ve got a little more breathing room than normal. If a perfect day is going to happen, this is the kind of week where it seems possible. So let’s talk about the daily goals and my current success rate in meeting them:

  1. Read: I realized that I’d gotten out of the habit of reading books in favor of endlessly scrolling on my phone. Not only was this bad for my hands (I get carpal tunnel flare ups from too much Twitter on the phone. Yes, I realize how deeply sexy that sounds) but I also just missed good stories. So I put this on the list and so far I’ve got about a 90% success rate in doing this on a daily basis. This goal isn’t a problem.
  2. Bed by 11pm: HAAAAA! Yeah, I’m currently writing this post at 12:47. I’ve gotten into a serious night owl habit which is not great since I have to be at work usually by about 8am or so. But I’m having a super hard time getting to bed earlier because late at night is the only reliable alone time I get and I like having some alone time. So far I’ve had 0% success on this one. This goal is probably the top of the list in terms of unlikely to happen.
  3. 8000 steps: I’m just trying to make sure I’m moving more since my work days are long and very sitting on my ass intensive. I’m about 60% at this one but getting better. The odds of getting this one done are good.
  4. Exercise 15 minutes: I’m about 50% on this one. 15 minutes is not that long, I realize, but I’ve had a very sedentary year and am trying to get back into something that looks like a regular exercise habit. This one is doable though.
  5. No candy: I loooove candy. Candy is a problem. I’m at about 20% success rate on this one. I may have to write “no candy” on my hand to remind myself because there is definitely a mindless candy habit at work (so many bowls of candy just sitting around…)
  6. Three servings of vegetables: I put this one on there when I realized how easy it was for me to not get that many veggies on an average day at work. I’d have some oatmeal in my office, then a cup of soup or a sandwich for lunch (the cafeteria at work is a vegetable desert), and then something quick for dinner like noodles or pizza and at the end of the day I’d barely have had a full serving. Since I added this to the list I’m at about 70% completion which is a huge improvement. Smoothies for breakfast that include spinach and carrots are super helpful and very tasty.
  7. Five minutes of cleaning and/or listing something on the buy/sell/trade page for my neighborhood: This helps me feel like I’m not letting our relatively small house become overrun with stuff and/or dust bunnies. I’m at about 50% here but have also made almost $300 this year from BST posts, which is very satisfying.
  8. No fast food: There is a McDonald’s on my way to work and McDonald’s Diet Coke is one my favorite things ever. But a daily McDonald’s habit is bad for my wallet and my health, so I’m working on it. About 80% on this goal so far, which is extra impressive when you realize that McDonald’s is doing the all sodas are $1 promotion right now which means my delicious bubbly treat is cheap.
  9. 100 words of fiction: I have a story I’m not working on. 0% completion so far this go round. Sigh.
  10. Family connection: One of my most personal goals is to make sure I’m having at least one interaction with someone in my family each day that isn’t transactional/informational or while I’m distracted by something else. Maybe other people don’t struggle with this but on a weekday it can feel like family time is spent telling kids what to do or arranging life’s logistical details with my husband. I want to make sure each day that I’m stepping out of that mode, even if it means going cross-eyed doing Perler beads with Ev or listening to Miles share facts about Michael Jackson that may or may not be true. So far I’m 100% on this one.
  11. No clothes buying: I started a new job about a year ago and did a fair bit of shopping this year to make sure I have good work clothes. I also did a more than fair bit of retail therapy (the need for which was caused by the new job) on Zulily and the ever tempting Target clearance racks. I was cleaning out my closet to make room for summer clothes and it became very clear that I have more than enough stuff for every season. I’m now trying to see how long I can go with out buying anything new. So far 100% on this goal (I’m at two weeks of no new clothes, which is a great start).
  12. Vitamins: Did I take my fish oil, probiotic, cinnamon, and b12? Boring but I’m trying to develop a habit here. So far about 50% here.
  13. Friend connect: Did I do something today to build or maintain a friendship? Sending a text or FB message counts, liking something on FB or Twitter doesn’t. I get sad when I don’t feel connected to my buddies, so I’m trying to be more intentional about that. So far about 70% on this goal
  14. Knit: I’ve been working on the same damn infinity scarf for months. It is gorgeous yarn but teeny tiny stitches and I worry I’m never going to finish it. I’ve promised myself three rows a night. 50% success rate so far.
  15. Weed yard: Our yard has weeds. I hate weeding but I also hate having a yard that makes me feel like I’m bringing down the neighborhood property values. The goal is to do a little every day so it doesn’t get so overwhelming. About 40% success rate on this but part of this is weather related. I can get this one done

Theoretically, I should be able to do all of these things in one day. So far the best I’ve done is 11 out of 15.

Is this my week? Stay tuned…

Walking

I’ve recently started trying to walk more when I get home from work. There are several reasons for this.

The first is that it turns out that sitting on your ass for 50 hours a week at work might not actually be that great for your health. My back has been finicky lately and worrying about how my back is incredibly boring to me and makes me feel aged in a way that seems unfair, given that I am also worrying about the large zit on my cheek at the moment.

The second is that I live in Minnesota, where we are required by law to do outside things when the weather is nice. We get snow in May, so we are obligated to be demonstratively appreciative when we are in the sweet spot between snow and mosquitos.

I’ve also discovered that I really, really enjoy the podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour and have made a deal with myself that I can only listen to it while I’m walking. I currently have 13 episodes in my queue, so that bodes well for my fitness this month.

But one of the biggest reasons is that I just really love my neighborhood these days.

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We’re coming up on three years in this house, which is the longest we’ve lived in one place in almost 12 years of marriage. I feel more home here than I’ve felt anywhere else.

My neighborhood also currently smells amazing. The flowers are going crazy and sometimes I just have to stop and take a deep breath. There is no perfume that smells quite as good as a lilac bush in full flower.

Sometimes I feel a little bit of yard shame. Some of our neighbors have really beautiful yards. We have children instead.

I did plant some purple flowers in my window box, so I made an effort. They’re still alive and everything. *pats self on finicky back*

Our neighborhood also has poetry.

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I enjoy coming across a poem in the sidewalk I haven’t seen before — this one was from tonight’s walk and I found it satisfying.

I’ve been walking basically the same route lately, an ever expanding rectangle that leads from my house, past our local park, down past streets filled with old houses and, increasingly, new construction filling small city lots with gigantic houses. There is much distress in the neighborhood Facebook page about these new houses being built where old, small houses used to be. I’m pro-old, small house but I try not to think uncharitable thoughts about the people who will live in the 4000 square foot houses sandwiched between two 1400 square footers. Sometimes I try to peek through the windows. The kitchens are awfully pretty.

Although our neighborhood isn’t economically diverse and isn’t as generally diverse as we might like it to be, I notice the rainbow pride flag hanging from one house and other signs that tell me that my neighborhood is probably a political bubble, but it is my bubble, so it feels comfortable.

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I’ve been restless most of my adult life. I’m home now*

*Unless we can figure out how to move to Canada. Because, reasons.

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Rain Rain Rain

It has been raining basically non-stop for almost a week here. It’s gray and dreary. The temperature hasn’t hit 50 degrees yet today, which makes the fact that our summer vacation starts in three weeks seem rather improbable. The kids are almost out of school for the summer and we’ve had maybe three days so far this spring where they could wear shorts. I know I live, happily!, in Minnesota and that we aren’t exactly known for having toasty weather, but I’m beginning to fear that we’ll be able to grow rice in our basement soon.

(Can I just say that “worrying about the dampness of our basement” is item #458 on my list entitled “Ways in Which Being a Grown-Up is Boring”?)

As someone who grew up in the desert and who was scared SHITLESS as a kid by an episode of Highway to Heaven that feature a future with major water shortages, I’m hard wired to believe that rain is a Good Thing. I actually don’t really even mind the gray and the dark. I’m a little annoyed with myself for giving into premature gardening enthusiasm* and spending five hours last week putting down seeds that are now very likely to going to need to be replanted, but that is more my fault than the weather, I suppose.

(*#367 on the list of ways in which being a grown-up is boring: the amount of emotional investment and willingness to talk at length about gardening, even if one is, at best, a very half-assed gardener)

It’s just that I find it ridiculous that I am expected to keep having to do things and, you know, actually parent my children in these current conditions.

All I want to do is stay in bed and read a book, preferably while eating a large bowl of buttery popcorn. I’d get out of bed to bake things that are carby and sweet and to see if I can get one of the kids to come snuggle and watch Harry Potter with me. Sadly the one who is always up for a snuggle is too young for Harry Potter and my Harry Potter appropriate aged one is allergic to snuggling these days. He is made up of nothing but elbows and knees and is only physically capable of being still for 3.4 seconds before he is flopping around like a fish and demanding to be wrestled with. This is the same child who sets his alarm on the weekends for 6:30am so he doesn’t accidentally sleep in. I love him but he is clearly broken.

Maybe I should go make some hot chocolate and take a nap.

Questions I Didn’t Ask Myself

I was sitting on the couch last night trying to plow through some work emails (work emails are my Sisyphean task) when my husband set up the ironing board and began to very carefully iron our daughter’s latest Perler bead creations. At one point something happened and some of the beads spilled out (because the preferred state of the Perler bead is “recently spilled”) and, after some mild swearing, he began to painstakingly reassemble her design.

I watched him and couldn’t help but think about how funny marriage can be.

When I was in college, I wrote a list of about 50 things that I wanted my future husband to have or be. Because I was 18 years old and had never been in a serious relationship, my list was both utterly shallow (he must be over 6 feet tall! He should have broad shoulders!) and completely naive (he’ll never have loved someone before me! He’ll love all the exact same books that I do!). I tucked the list into my Bible and prayed nightly for my future husband. Yes, I went to a Christian college. This is what we did instead of drinking and fornicating.

Before I was married, I was pretty certain that the key to marital happiness was having lots of things in common and your husband being taller than you. Even when I met my not-exactly-six-foot tall future husband and realized that I was in love with someone who was not what my list had in mind, I still didn’t know enough to ask myself questions about the things that actually make my marriage work:

  • Will this man be the kind of father who takes care of the things that are precious to the kids? Not that Perler beads won’t make him swear and groan in frustration when they inevitably spill all over the floor, but when the kids create something that feels beautiful to them, will he see their delight and help them make their thing, whatever their thing is?
  • Will this person honestly and sincerely still be attracted to me when my body at 38 looks very different than my body at 28?
  • Will I almost never have to do laundry if I marry this person?
  • Will this person say “No problem, take as much time as you need” when I call him, again, to tell him that I’m going to be home late for work? More importantly, will this man be fundamentally okay with being the primary parent most of the time? With my job being the driving force behind many of the decisions we make, like where to live and how to handle childcare for the kids?
  • Will we both be okay that the list of overlapping TV shows, movies, music, and books that we both love — or even like — is fairly short?

I’ve been thinking a lot about lately about how who I married has changed my life. On Friday, I’m supposed to be giving a talk to a bunch of grad students about my career success* and I find that when I think about my path, who I married feels as important to me as the graduate degrees I’ve picked up along the way. I currently have a slide in my presentation that reflects that “choose your partner well” is one of my top three pieces of career advice and part of me wonders if that is weird advice to give in 2017 (does it sound a little Mad Men-ish?). But a bigger part of me feels like this is advice that I’m really including for the female students in the room and that there is value in saying out loud what so many of us know to be true: if you want a big job, choose a partner who is comfortable being the caboose so you can be the engine.

I can’t remember when or if my husband and I talked before we were married about this or if I just got lucky made a good choice. I 100% never had anyone else tell me that I should ask my future husband if he wanted to be a stay-at-home dad. At 18 or even 24, I don’t know if I knew myself well enough to know that this would end up being a really important question to me. But maybe my job is to be the person who tells the next generation of women in my field to ask that question…

*It feels weird to write “my career success” because a lifetime of absorbing the good girl lessons of “be quiet, be humble, don’t brag” makes saying that feel weird. But I’m good at my job and I’m working on being more comfortable acknowledging that.

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In case you missed it, the swimsuit article is here .

Nine suits of varying styles and not a single boring one in the bunch!

Hell Yeah Songs

I finished writing the bathing suit article. No word on when it will run, so until then I’m going to listen to my new “Hell Yeah” play-list, which features only songs that make me feel extra comfortable in my own skin.

This list starts, as it must, with Lizzo who is my new favorite.

 

Another recent discovery is Tunde Olaniran’s Namesake. The chorus makes me want to go running just so I can listen to this while I run and feel like I’m in a movie montage. That feeling might be specific to me, I realize.

This next song is not going to be your jam if you don’t like the work bitch. And the video is fairly NSFW or kids. But I dig Lily Allen’s sense of humor and the song Hard Out Here.

Shakira’s La Tortura makes my booty forget that I don’t actually know how to dance. I like the song more than I like the video.

No “Hell Yeah” playlist for me is going to be complete without some Beyonce. There are several songs on there but my favorite is a tie between Flawless and Countdown

 

Sia’s The Greatest is another song that makes me wish I was a runner so I could put it on a running playlist.

There is also room for mellow songs on the Hell Yeah list. Tilted by Christine and the Queens makes me want to be French

And I need to add one more Lizzo song for good measure. Scuse Me is perfect for listening to while trying on swim wear.

Any songs I should add to this list?

Fat and Lazy

I’m in the midst of working on a freelance article that fills me both with righteous fervor and abject anxiety. The basic gist of the article is a fashion road test of plus-sized swimwear to find some items that are actually cute. This is a topic that I, as a fat person who LOVES to swim, feel very strongly about. I’m tired of apologetic black tank suits. I’m tired of swimsuits (and brands) that treat my 200+ pound body as a problem in need of solving. I’m tired of feeling like the doing the exercise and sport that I love is made harder because I can’t find functional swim suits.

So, yes, I’m on board with doing a story that points out that there are some actually great swim suits out there right now

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This one, from Lane Bryant, has the most amazing bra support ever. I love it .

But the story is also going to feature pictures of me in various swimsuits. And here is where the conflict comes in. On the one hand, I’m an actual fat person and I think there is value in letting other plus-sized women see what swimsuits look like on non-model bodies. I also told one of my best friends that my new year’s resolution this year was to do one thing every day that would annoy Donald Trump, and I feel confident that putting myself out there and not apologizing for the fact that I have big boobs and thighs that touch and a belly that is soft and stretched marked would 100% annoy our misogynist in chief.

But on the other hand, I also know with 100% certainty that I will get some shit about this article. The shit might take the form of comments that say my body is gross or people who tell me that I’m brave — which is meant to be nice, of course, but also feels icky and condescending. I’m not brave. I’m just existing.

But the thing I’m most pre-annoyed about is that there is will almost certainly be someone who calls me lazy.

Fat and lazy.

See, the thing is that I’m writing this at 11:15pm, because I just got home from work. I was at work from 8am to 10:15pm. I average about 55 to 60 hours a week at work. When I’m home, I’m usually working after the kids go to bed too. I have a to-do list that is a mile long and I’m always trying to cross off one more thing before I go to bed. I’m fortunate that I like my job and I’m fairly compensated for it, but I work my ass off.

Just, you know, not literally.

I work a lot but I don’t work out a lot. I work a lot and so sometimes often I grab what is quick and easy for lunch. Today I had McDonalds, which is of course what many people think a fat girl like me eats every damn day. Yesterday I had a salad, but don’t let that distract from the fact that I ate fast food and I’ll do it again. Bad fattie.

It makes me angry when I think about the fact that there are people who look at me and think lazy. Can’t you hear the sneer?

Fat and lazy.

Maybe I’d exercise more if I worked less. Maybe if I wasn’t so busy hustling to be a bad ass boss and mom and friend, I’d have a better ass. Maybe there’s a way that I get skinnier and then people see me as the hard worker I already am. But maybe there’s not.

Being fat is a weird experience sometimes. Some days I hate my body. Some times I feel militant and strong. I feel invisible some times and horribly exposed others. But damn it, I’m not lazy.

Someday

I believe that someday the phrase “Mom, my stomach feels weird” will no longer fill me with instant anxiety.

Today is not that day.

My son isn’t feeling well. He missed school yesterday and today. The husband and I are both hoping he can go to school tomorrow so we can avoid the “who has to stay home and miss work” conversation. I was feeling pretty good about our chances — the kid has no fever and his strep test was negative– and then he barfed a little bit tonight. I feel like an asshole, but my first thought upon hearing from my husband that Miles threw up was something along the lines of “damn it” and not “oh, my poor sweetie”.

In the last week, we’ve had to take Ev to the ER and dealt with some midnight barf attacks for her. I threw out my back picking up a Cheerio this weekend (this is the most frumpy mom injury I can imagine) and missed work yesterday. Miles has… whatever he has. Only my husband has been free of illness/injury this past week but he’s pretty obviously exhausted from dealing with all of us.

I have a good life. I know I do. It just feels like a slog right now.

Searching

I was at work late tonight, desperately trying to read through a stack of resumes and cover letters before a search committee that I’m the chair of meets tomorrow. By my estimation, I’ve been on or in charge of probably 25 searches in the last decade, which is kind of a lot for someone who doesn’t actually work in human resources. I’ve now spent much more time on the deciding side of the interview table than on the trying to get a job side, which is an interesting perspective.

(I still remember the candidate who had a 10 page cover letter that included a picture of herself and clip art. Please, no. On so many levels.)

The candidate pool I was looking through tonight was fairly small — less than 30 that made it through the HR screen that rejects anyone who is obviously unqualified. I’ve been in searches before where there were over 100 applicants to review and that is a daunting and exhausting task. I suspect that many times candidates have no idea how much time is spent on the hiring process. For this current search, I’ve probably already put in close to 40 hours of work already and we haven’t even picked candidates to interview yet. To get to the interview stage, I had to:

  • create the job description
  • get budget approval to post the position (requiring multiple check-offs and signatures
  • figure out the when/where/how long of posting it
  • get together a search committee
  • play schedule Tetris to find a meeting time for all members of the committee to meet to talk about candidates
  • sign confidentiality forms and watch a video on good hiring practices from HR
  • reviewing all of the applications that come in
  • ranking all of the applicants
  • meeting with the search committee to determine a pool. This is sometimes super easy and sometimes takes hours
  • call the chosen candidates and play schedule Tetris with them to get interviews scheduled

I find that searches take so much longer than anyone thinks they will because it just takes so much work to hire someone. In some ways the interviewing and choosing the candidate is the easiest part of the process. I generally know within two or three questions if I think the person is going to be a viable option. Sometimes it is a struggle to sit through an interview where a really good candidate is clearly very nervous. I always want to tell them, but can’t, that the committee is on their side. We want all of the candidates to be awesome. We are rooting for them to be great, largely because we don’t want to have to fail a search and start all over.

Sometimes interviews are actually fun. You get a candidate who is relaxed and the interview starts to feel more like a conversation. As a committee member, this fills you with optimism that this person will love you back and want to work with/for you. Sometimes they pull out of the search afterwards and it feels like being broken up with before you even got to the second date.

And some interviews are fun because the candidate says something ridiculous that will be burned in the collective memory for years afterwards, like the guy who gave a long and rambling answer when asked a question about diversity on college campuses that included the words “well, you know how Native Americans get when they drink…” or the person who answered a question about his leadership approach by saying “First off, I just think, well, don’t be an asshole, you know?” (I don’t disagree with this but perhaps it could have been more elegantly put?)

The candidates we don’t pick will get a rejection email and I know that will be a big disappointment. I wish I could tell them this: There are a lot of reasons you might not get the interview. A lot of those reasons will be out of your control. Some searches are about looking for people with experience, some are about looking for potential. Sometimes there is a great internal candidate that is going to be hard to beat. Sometimes you just aren’t as qualified as the rest of the pool. Very often, I can read an application and think “Hmm, this person sounds cool and like they are doing great work” and I’ll still pass because they don’t have the particular thing we are looking for this time. I reject a lot of people who I’m 100% confident are great at their job. Very, very rarely is it personal.

Unless you use too much clip art. Then it becomes personal.

Terrible Milestones

When you have a baby, hitting milestones is usually a fun thing — first word, first step, first time sleeping through the night (BEST ONE). But as kids get older, there are milestones to hit too, but here is a thing that nobody tells you before you become a parent: some of these milestones SUCK. We’ve recently hit some of them in our household and I’d like to discuss them in order from mildly annoying to actually terrible:

Mildly annoying: My son’s school is working with a charity to raise money to fight a particular disease. The charity is, as far as I know, quite reputable and I agree that this disease is a thing that we should fight. But, ugh, I’m finding the process of my kid raising money to be SO AWKWARD. In past years, we’ve usually just thrown the fundraising form into recycling and hoped he wouldn’t notice. There was a little bit of sadness on his part about this, mostly due to the fact that he didn’t get to “win” any of the “prizes” (read: cheap plastic crap) that kids get when they hit various fundraising levels. One year, a girl in his class won all the prizes, having raised over $1000, and he was mightly jealous. I thought about how much work that girl’s parents must have done to get her to that level and sighed wearily.

But this year he really wanted to do it and was willing to donate his own money, which seemed like a thing I want to support. I also know that it sometimes sucks to be the kid who doesn’t participate in stuff like this, especially when your friends are raking in the cheap plastic crap. So I grudgingly agreed when he wanted to go door-to-door in the neighborhood. I told him he could go to a few houses, only people we know, but then I felt weird because I know *I* would have a much easier time turning down a random child I didn’t know but would feel obligated to donate something to the child of a friend or friendly neighbor. So far he has asked a handful of people and they’ve all said yes. This is very exciting for my kid but also makes him want to go ask more and more people and I, well, I just don’t want to. I feel sort of mildly annoyed about this whole thing.

Most exhausting: Last night we had our first late night trip to the ER with the girl. She’s doing okay and there is nothing seriously wrong. But, man, the children’s ER is such a heavy experience in some ways. Everyone is kind and nice and there is clearly a lot of effort put in to making a scary experience easier for kids. But there is a weight there. You know that you are in a place where there are kids hurting or desperately ill. There was a very new baby crying — wailing, really — off and on most of the time we were there. The cries would go quiet for a while and then suddenly begin again, shrill and insistent. I couldn’t help but think about the parent holding that baby and how worried they must have been. Bringing a child to the ER also puts me in a weird head space where I don’t want there to be anything really wrong, but I also have this anxiety that nothing is wrong and the doctors will be annoyed with me for wasting their time. What if I’m ending up paying a big deductible in order to find out that my kid just needs to poop? But what if it was something and I didn’t take her in? The opportunity for guilt abounds.

Ev and I got to the hospital at 10:00 pm and left a little after 2:00am and it was 3:00am before I was asleep. I had can’t miss meetings at work today so it was a woefully short night of sleep.

Most enraging: My daughter, age 4, asked me “Am I fat, Mama?” Four years old. I only got four years before we had to have the fat conversation for the first time? RAGE.

Actually terrible: My son’s first pet, his crayfish name Cristal (the take home product of a class science project), died on Saturday night and Miles raw grief was heartbreaking. He cried for two hours and asked all sorts of questions about crayfish heaven and if Cristal would haunt his room (to be clear, this is a question he very much wanted a “yes” answer too). He was just so sad and it made the whole “having a pet that you love that will eventually die” thing just seem like an awful idea.

He, of course, wants another pet. I’m not sure my heart is ready.