07 February 2009

the lonely scrapbooking Jew

Well, I tell ya.  When you ask for a sign, YOU GET ONE.  Or in my case, three.

Last night, I went to All About Scrapbooks for an "open crop."  This is when all kinds of ladies go sit in a tiny back room and cut up paper, and glue it to other paper, with EMBELLISHMENTS.  Wooo!  I went because I was hoping to get some quiet time to work on something crafty, and also because I thought they'd have free stuff to use (they did, but it wasn't anything fantastic).  I ended up only staying about an hour -- it just wasn't for me.  Too many women in too small a space.

Anyway, while I was there, I noticed that a lot of women were working on religious-themed pages (Xmas, Easter, etc.).  There was also a lot of talk about pastors, "my" church, and Veggie Tales (which I've since learnt is a Christian-themed kids' show).  Don't get me wrong, I thought it was great!  I love it when people are excited about their faith.  But instead of that sad, longing feeling to be like them, I felt kind of proud to NOT be like them.  Does that make any sense?  Proud doesn't seem like the right word, but I can't think of something different.  I kind of wanted to whip out a Passover-themed scrapbook layout -- do they make a gefilte fish die-cut? -- not to be all "I'm Jewish, in YO FACE!" but ... I don't even know what.  It just made me happy.

When I got home, Charlie had cleaned up all the dinner mess, Austin was in bed asleep, and everything was quiet.  After a little TV (and reorganizing my craft stuff, which had gotten all messed up on the way home) I headed upstairs with my latest Real Simple magazine.  I flipped around and found an article called "Good Advice for Tough Times."  It featured five people talking about how to survive crises.  The second page of the article had advice from Rabbi Niles Goldstein, who leads the New Shul in NYC.  His advice:

"View life itself as a condition without guarantees, one in which anything can happen to anybody at any time."


"Muscle tissue gets stronger after being broken down.  I believe the same is true for our souls.  Feeling broken from a crisis opens our hearts and helps us appreciate things we previously took for granted."

I got tinglies up my spine when I read this.  It was EXACTLY what I needed to read.  So, Rabbi Goldstein, if you're reading this, THANK YOU.  And yes, I will be getting off my heiny to count my blessings.

It occurred to me that I've been whining a lot lately, and whining about things that I totally have the power to change.  Weight?  Yeah, I can fix that.  Spiritually hungry?  Yeah, I can fix that.  I just have to do some work.  It's not going to fall in my lap, and I certainly won't get much help if I don't make some effort myself.  And as far as the stuff that's beyond my control (i.e. surgery, no more bebes), well, I can't control that; I can only control how I deal with it.

My third sign actually happened before I went out last night, but I didn't put it together until this morning.  Right before Charlie came home from work, I was flitting around, finishing up dinner and straightening up the house.  I looked around and didn't see Austin.  The downstairs of our house is baby-proofed, so he has free run, but I still like to keep him in sight (or at least in earshot).  I walked over to the front door, because sometimes he'll sit there with 'Bama to wait for Daddy to come home.  He wasn't there.  I turned my head, looking up the stairs, and he was HALFWAY UP THE STAIRS!  My first reaction was, "Holy sh*t, I'm a terrible mom, he could totally die if he fell! And it would be my fault!"  I ran up and got behind him, but I didn't stop him climbing.  He kept on going, and got all the way to the top without any help from me.  I couldn't believe it.  My little guy, not even a year old yet, not even WALKING yet, climbed up a steep flight of stairs all alone.  This little tiny person used all of his effort and will and did something that probably seemed terrifying and impossible.  He did it without whining or crying.  He did it without help (just a watchful eye behind him).  If he can do all that, I can, too.  I HAVE to.  Otherwise, what kind of example am I setting for him?

05 February 2009

an update, long overdue

Well, it's been almost a full month since I posted last.  There's many excuses I could make, but what it boils down to is that I totally fell of my fitness wagon, and I've been too embarrassed to write anything about it.

It started with my birthday dinner at Rajput, where I ate a huge and fattening Indian dinner.  Then we hit up Doumar's, where I inhaled a root beer milkshake.  The following weekend, I had my birthday party, slammed down Jack n'Cokes and cake like there was no tomorrow.  I kept saying, "I'll start over tomorrow."  But the next day always ended up with me stuffing myself on leftover party food, and shoving my Jillian Michaels DVD into the back of the disc wallet.  

This is my standard cycle:  I eat crap, which makes me feel bad, so I eat more crap, which makes me feel worse, so I eat still more crap.  It feels like it never ends.

And to top it all off, about a week after my birthday, I visited my doctor to get a mystery belly-bulge checked, and he said I couldn't work out any harder than walking on the treadmill until he determined what it was.  I have, of course, used this as yet another excuse to do absolutely no exercise and to wallow in pity for weeks.

Fast-forward to the first week of February, and I've now had a CT scan of my belly which shows that I have an incisional hernia.  Basically, a loop of my bowel (intestine) is sticking out of a tear in my C-section incision.  I have to meet with a surgeon to decide if we need to operate, and if so, what sort of repair needs to be done.  If you don't know anything about hernias, or rather incisional hernias in particular, it's caused by tension on a previous surgical incision.  So they can't repair it with regular sutures or staples, because that creates more tension which will usually lead to another hernia.  Most of the time, they put in a piece of surgical-steel mesh to cover the hole, and your body grows tissue over that mesh.

Sounds pretty straight-forward, right?  Go in, throw in a patch, get out, boom, we're done.  Here's the kicker:  I will most likely not be able to have another baby if they do this.  The mesh will not stretch with my abdominal muscles as the baby grows.  But if they DON'T fix it, and I get pregnant, my whole C-section incision could rip open and cause my uterus to flop forward and potentially kill the baby (or me).  

So I'm basically up poo creek in terms of having any more kids.  I have said many times that Austin is the perfect kid, and if I was only going to have one, he's the one I'd pick.  But ever since I was pregnant with him, I knew I wanted more babies.  I have always imagined myself with three rough and tumble boys, Austin taking charge of his little brothers as they do all sorts of little-boy things.  Six little feet slapping along the floor, six little hands pulling on mine, three little voices yelling "MOMMMYYYYYYYYYY!" from the other end of the house.  And now it seems that dream is going to stay out of my reach...and all I can do is wonder why this is happening to me.

It's times like this that I really envy my friends who are what I lovingly call "Churchy," people who can give their worries up to God, pray, and be okay.  I don't have that kind of relationship with my faith.  My faith says that good things happen to people who lead good lives, and that's pretty much it.  So what does this mean, that I'm not a good person?  Or that this is a good thing and I just don't see it yet?  I'm sure I could dig through the Torah and find passages that make sense, that help me see what I'm supposed to see.  But I don't even know where to start -- I had to put my studies on hold so I could work on Sundays.  I feel very disconnected, adrift, sad, lonely.  I wish I could have some sort of sign or experience that would say, "Hey, see this Jesus guy?  He can work for you."  I have thought numerous times about calling Peggy, going to church with her, letting her pray with (and for?) me.  I don't know what that means, or what it means that I'm embarrassed to even mention that I'm considering NOT being a Jew anymore.  It's like being excited about a new boyfriend, talking about him constantly, and then not wanting to tell your friends when it didn't work out a couple of weeks later.  Not the most respectful simile, but that's all I've got.

So, here we are.  A little hopeless, a lot fat (again), and desperately wanting something, ANYTHING to change, but with no idea how to make that happen.