A Rollergiraffe Explains Her Whereabouts

Tap, tap, tap… is this thing still on? Right, well, whether it is or not, the magnanimous BroJo mentioned that he was keen to get back here. I prodded him, he prodded me back, and well, here we are.

It’s been nearly a year since I was active on WordPress. It was mostly a conscious choice. The last 12 months were not kind to me. I suffered a miscarriage, I lost my aunt. My grandma died; a woman who was much more important to me than I understood during her lifetime. Other relationships in my family changed for reasons that are too fresh and too big to talk about. Loss brings about a new order as everyone tries to fill the holes and let the earth settle.

Alas, I have small, active children, who were at school for a grand total of two hours a day. I had bees to keep, a garden to fuck up, camping to do, and friends who were in the middle of all manner of things good and bad. Life was too busy for me to spend any amount of time tamping down the earth.


I did catch a bass in July, that was pretty fun. He lived to bite another hook.

I powered through all of this, natural born martyr that I am. By April, I was tired. By July, I was exhausted. By August, I was depressed. And in September I took to my sad bed. My kids at school full time, I gave myself until Christmas to let all this sort itself out in my mind. I needed rest, I needed to shut down. I could not talk, I could not listen. In the past, I would have scribbled all of this out as it was happening, or denied the shit out of it all, or come up with whatever comfortable narrative I could and run with it. But I couldn’t do that from my sad bed. I had to sit with my thoughts and let them grate against me rather than finding a way to smooth them, to soothe me.

Around October, the world started to creep back into my consciousness, and the sadness gave way to discontent.

The thing about discontentment is that you can’t get used to it. Sadness, hopelessness, despair, all those other states I have traveled through this year, can start to feel familiar. You can lay in bed and wallow in those things. You feel heavy, pressed under a brick, unable to move even if you wanted to. People recognize those feelings enough to either avoid you or offer you some sympathy. Medicine, alcohol, sleep; many things offer temporary escape. There is no momentum in sadness.

Discontentment is too uncomfortable. It keeps your brain racing and your eyes pinned open. It is standing on a ball; you might be able to balance for a moment, but you have to hope that the wind stays just right and the earth doesn’t shift beneath you. There’s no rest, and you’re uncertain which direction to head at first. Fortunately, it doesn’t take long to master, and from up there, you can see far in the direction you want to go. Everyone around you is jangled because discontentment precipitates change, but you’re traveling so fast you can’t especially sense it.

I am not content. I view this as the best possible place to be at thirty-eight. The world is in a state, there is much to do, and I am hitting my stride up atop my ball.

October 6th: Ruination Day

So. It’s been exactly one year since I came home expecting a nice hot bath and found my ceiling on my goddamn floor. That turned out to be the high point of the last 366 days (Leap year! One bonus extra day of misery!); at least we were giddy and insane with grief at that point. The ensuing incompetence, maliciousness, and random bad luck that followed aged and embittered us enough to fill therapists pockets for years to come. But it’s been a year. The acceptable period of grief is over. The unfortunate legal battles and insurance bullshit is not, but there comes a point where we either get sucked under by it or we move on with our lives.

But I am still sad. And unmotivated. I have terrible first world problems like hating our house. Every little detail from the reno represents some sort of loud discussion compromise or hasty decision we had to make. We keep trying to divert our attention to fun things, but you can only go to so many amusement parks before you figure out that amusement parks are creepy and contribute to malaise. My hobbies are emotional eating and insomnia. Basically, I am in a giant rut. And this time I don’t have any cow bones or a spirited little partner to help me out of it.

But the time for that is over too. I need a goddamn plan. Although I mostly feel like laying down most of the day, I am tired of feeling that way. Being the proactive beast I am, I drank a bottle of a very small quantity of wine for inspiration (and perhaps a whole lot of a teeny amount of Balvenie Double Wood.. heh, insert adolescent sex joke here) and concocted one.

A Rollergiraffe’s 7 Point Plan for the Future

1. Get a damn job. I need to use my brain again and earn some money. This is likely going to be in the industry I worked in pre-kids, without the benefit of the last four years of training, networking and general career trajectory. And I would have to go to interviews which make me sweat and self-deprecate. I am still a little traumatized from getting laid off by voicemail from my last job, and I have no filters left that will allow me to function in an office setting. I might try to give my co-workers time outs when they disagree with me. Ok, so this might not work out in a hurry.

2. Do charity work. In the absence of a paying job, I should be giving back to the community. I am pretty sure I have a lot to offer in this regard, with my environmental experience and all. Right? It doesn’t matter that the only journal I read in the last four years is US Weekly, right? People are dying for celebrity news, aren’t they? And I would need to pay for child care to do charity work which .. or I could do it in the evenings, right? After the kids go to bed and the house is somewhat restored from the garbage dump look we’ve adopted through the day? Ok, so this one’s out too for now.

3. Exact revenge on the contractor fuckstick weasel who wrecked our house and tried to ruin our lives. This one is just a fantasy. He’s already sitting on a heap of debt, both karmic and financial. And I am an adult who is able to control their emotions (totally not true except for the legal adult part). Plus, I am way too lazy to do a good job, so I’d just basically annoy him a little and then end up on Canada’s Stupidest Criminals, if such a show exists.

4. Become a domestic goddess. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Nope.

5. I am still laughing over the domestic goddess thing. Mount Washmore is so goddamn high, you guys.

6. Spend time preparing for the zombie apocalypse. I am on Love and Lunchmeat’s Zombie apocalypse team (even if I can’t figure out how to put badges on my blog. Fuckballs, I am hopeless at the internets), so I am sure this would be a worthwhile endeavor. If it’s not the zombies, it’s going to be something. Except all that canning I did totally went to waste and my shoulder is ruined from carrying twins around all day so I am not sure improving my marksmanship is really a good idea. And every time I think about the apocalypse I think about The Road, and I am not sure at this point in my life I would be the one who filled the bathtub when the loud noises were heard. My survival instinct is kind of dull right now, is what I am saying.

I was only ever good at shooting quarters anyway.

7. Have another baby. Because less sleep is totally the answer.

So obviously I have no plan. Tell me, gentle readers, have you ever been stuck in a rut before? How did you get out? Do you think I should keep my hair short? Why does Mitt Romney want to fire Big Bird? What is your favourite snack? Why isn’t anyone talking about the Higgs Boson anymore? Is it because they accidentally made themselves a big black hole? Answer any of these questions below in the comments.

P.S. If you read the Ringmistress’ blog, Laments and Lullabies, a 35 year old having a mid-life crisis will sound disturbingly familiar to you. I totally drunken plagiarized her, and then apologized, but she laughed at me and told me to post it anyway because she’s amazing that way. And lots of other ways too.

You should have kids. Or don’t, or whatever, it’s really up to you.

A friend earnestly asked for my thoughts on pregnancy and childbirth recently, and I was drunk enough from crappy draft beer and was coming off a cruddy week so I was terribly cynical. I believe that I told her that it was like a grenade went off in your vag, and went on to discuss the various body fluids and such at length until she presumably left to go get her tubes tied.

I’ll let you form your own opinion about what kind of a-hole that makes me, but I am here to rectify that. Because you see it’s all fine to be cynical and self-deprecating when I am drunk and trying to be humorous, but I actually find my kids delightful. I enjoyed pregnancy and those early days even though I was crippled by anxiety and depression. I am proud of my boys and proud of myself for making it through the hard bits, and I would never want anyone to think otherwise.

So, my dear friend, this is what I would say to you if I was being honest:

There is no real apt comparison, but pregnancy and childbirth is a bit akin to the wedding before the marriage. Everything is about to change again. Use this time to find your voice, rely on your body, start discovering how you want to raise your child, building your network of trusted sources, and learn what your own limitations are. Mourn or celebrate the changes in your body. Learn to cut out the chatter of parents, relatives, friends, experts, and google.  Everyone has an opinion, and the only one that matters is yours (and maybe the opinion of a caring and competent midwife or obstetrician). While ideally you have an easy pregnancy and a joyous birth that leaves you with a euphoric start to parenthood, it may not happen as you planned it. That’s ok, mourn that too.

And once you get over that hurdle, the real work begins. Your body will be a mess for a while as it knits back together, but you’ll hardly notice because you are in the kind of sleep deprivation state normally reserved for torture tactics and vision quests. You will both love the little being (or beings!) and be drained by it’s endless need. You will feel like you are doing everything wrong during the bad phases and everything right during the good phases, but recognize that it is all a phase. Everything is a phase. Enjoy the good ones, endure the bad ones and know how much wine you can safely drink before breastfeeding if that’s how you roll.

You have to deal with the various plagues and teething and other people’s terrible kids. Your kids will like things that make you feel stabby and they will flush all your preconceived notions about parenting down the drain (literally, if they’re written on something. Everything goes in the toilet). Your efforts will be spoiled by well meaning grandparents and you’ll have to navigate the wilderness of choices over babywearing, breastfeeding, toys, tv, feeding, sleep training, daycare, preschool; the list is virtually endless. And the worst part is that you will be in charge; you will hate making decisions. But, you will also have instinct on your side and develop a keen eye for things that will work for your family.

And they get bigger and become little kids at a furious pace. Kids are sticky and cuddly and surprisingly strong and louder than you think at 3 am. But they are delightful. Truly. All the magic that you lose the first time you have to pay for car registration or realize that you’re on the hook when the faucet breaks comes rushing back to you when you find yourself blowing bubbles in the middle of a Tuesday. Sure, it’s bound to end in failure and tears, but very few things are as freeing as staying in that moment. They come to you when they’re happy and when they’re sad and both of those are gratifying. There is nothing more powerful than when they snuggle into you or grab your face for a big messy kiss.

My boys saved me, healed me, and helped me become a more fully realized woman in ways that I never expected. They humble me and make me eat my words often and I am frustrated every single day.  But they also make me slow down and appreciate things I had forgotten about. I feel things with more depth because I bear the weight of their emotion too. They still have all the best qualities without the cynicism that comes with age; curiosity, humor, generosity and kindness. It’s impossible not to let that rub off on you a little. And they are watching, so you become a little more mindful of your actions and hopefully a little bit of a better person.

But this is my experience and yours might be different. You are already amazing, and your kids may not have the same effect on your life as on mine. Maybe you’re up for it, and maybe you’re not. Maybe you are really looking forward to getting tapped on the forehead at 3 am or taking the little beast everywhere under the sun. Or maybe you dread the thought of touching all of someone else’s body fluids and maybe a grenade vag is enough to put you off forever. Maybe you like being untethered. That’s all cool by me. Just don’t fail to do it out of fear or because parents complain all the time because those are just the surface bits. It’s harder to talk about how crazy in love you are with your kids than playing along with the narrative that parenting is terribly hard. If you decide you want kids, don’t do it expecting happiness or exhaustion or perfection or anything at all. Do it expecting your life to be ripped wide open and to keep expanding.

And you are totally going to rock this.