Tuesday, February 17, 2004

in search of praise


DH has "Seinfeld" on, and it's very distracting. Everyone on that show was nasty and obnoxious, but it is really funny. So now I don't know what I'll be able to write...

So, today: good thing I baked last night, as I finally dragged my butt out of bed at 8:20AM this morning and got dressed, expecting to find DD up and ready to go to school (as usual), but no, she slept in and I had to get her up and cook breakfast for both her and DS2, and even so we broke a speed record getting out the door at 9:07. We got to school a little after 9:20, and I'm pretty sure I was supposed to deliver those muffins earlier, but I didn't hear anyone complaining. Hee!

Came back home and toodled around on the computer all morning, I'm not exactly sure where the time went. Between TWoP and the discussions of the penultimate "Sex&TheCity" episode, and the LCT forums and journals, there was plenty of reading material.

After I picked up DD from school, I decided I needed to focus and actually did some real work, and made some major progress with a bunch of copy. I can finish up that memo tomorrow and send it off, that will be nice. Three and half hours and it didn't seem to phase the kids one way or another. I have to break periodically to referee something or get someone a snack or something like that, but that's OK, it didn't interrupt the flow too much today. I'm hoping I can continue to work like that after my mom goes back to MA. I don't want to have to pull late nights to get my work done, and I would love to hang onto this job as long as possible. There was a mention of other projects, once this one wraps up -- hope springs eternal.

After supper and with the kids in bed, I got even more motivated (perhaps by the example of the late-baked muffins last night) and baked a coffee cake. I've been craving it lately, and I have all the ingredients, so I just did it. I still have the dishes to do, but the house smells all cinnamon-y and yummy, and I have great snacks to look forward to, for a few days at least. Of course tonight I had brownies for a snack, and not low carb brownies, either, the real deal, sugar-laden and delicious... and deadly.

So. The surgeon tomorrow at 11AM, we'll see how that goes. Harumph.

Totally out of the blue, I got e-mail from my "Big" (see "Sex and the City" references), who is in Phoenix for one more day, he tells me. Lord knows how long he has been here, and he has not had "one second" to himself since he arrived. I "harumphed" at him that he hadn't even told me he was coming, then "just kidding", and wished him a good flight home tomorrow. Still, I'm thinking, WTF was that? Part of me says, "go have a drink with him," just because I want to gloat about how fabulous my life is (OK,except for the ongoing health crap). Plus, in spite of the ongoing health crap, I look fantastic, especially if I camoflage my under-eye circles with makeup. The immature part of me wants to show off what he has been missing all these years...

The rest of me says, "Are you nuts?" It just isn't done, is it, having drinks with an ex you almost married? Or is it OK if a dozen years have gone by and you are both happily married to other people and have kids and everything? Doesn't matter, ain't gonna happen.

I admit, I love positive feedback of any kind. My writing, my recipes, my looks, my outfit, my children... I'm a praise-hound. Can't help it. I love that little warm glow I get from it. That's not to say I can't be happy within myself for my own accomplishments, because I am. I just like it when I get something external.

I don't think people realize how hard it is to transition from a regular job where you get reviews and feedback constantly, not to mention adult interaction, into what I would call a "domestic situation" LOL -- staying home with the kids. And since the beginning part of staying home with the kids is staying home with an infant with extremely limited communications capabilities, it's complete culture shock.

I went from being immersed in communication of different forms all day to being in near isolation, with a wee one dependent on me for everything. I am basically too lazy and selfish to be an uber-mom, but I do a lot for and with my kids, neglecting the house terribly while I'm at it... thinking about things, I realize how much happier I am now because all 3 of the kiddos are extremely verbal and we actually talk to each other, it's not all a one-way stream anymore. Thank God, they grow. And they are so interesting, and they ask such good questions.

But still, I don't get any reviews or feedback at all as a Mom, except the occasional compliment from a stranger about how well-behaved my kids are. Parent-teacher conferences are great, too, but they are few and far between.

How am I doing, "job"-wise -- the real job, being a Mom? I think I'm doing OK, but sure as shooting I'm not going to get a raise (not that I need one, money is not an issue) or a promotion -- hee! I recall vividly being annoyed with my pediatrician because she ragged on me for letting the kids watch 3 to 4 hours of TV a day. Look, big brother is in school and I have work to do, and they aren't watching commercials, they're either watching Noggin (no ads at all, looooove it) or PBS or DVDs. IOW, give me a break, woman, better my kids watch TV while I'm tap-tapping away at the keyboard, than they get shipped off to daycare, where who knows what would happen to them. At least, that's how I feel.

Years from now my wee ones will say something like, "I was so jealous of all the time you spent on the computer," and I'll have to fire back something like, "and I was jealous of all the time you spent with the TV." They know I'm here and more or less available. Not for aimless idle conversation, but for something real, like help with a problem, or breaking up a fight, I'm here. It's great because my desk is in the family room, so I'm in the middle of things. It's also great that I can still focus with chaos going on around me!

So, yeah, after 15 years of getting that feedback and now having been through more than four years without it, it sure is nice to be getting some again. Maybe that's why the freelance job has helped my mood so much, just working productively with a small team and getting word back on what I'm doing? Maybe I am addicted to praise? I didn't think so, but it seems that there is some evidence for it. And I remember feeling insanely good when my new dr. asked me if I had any kids, because it meant he couldn't tell just by looking at me or listening to me that I was a full-time Mom. He respected my writing credentials and dealt with me as one professional to another, which so does not happen when professionals are dealing with stay-at-home-moms very often. I was practically giddy. What does this say about me?

Seriously -- one of the main reasons I would like to get together with this ex is to get his assessment of how I'm doing. We were always brutal with each other (me more than him, honestly), judging behavior and calling each other up on the carpet if either one had behaved like an idiot. We've all had our moments, right? It's very valuable to have a friend like that, and I know, that if he told me I looked great, that I am great, that it would be an honest opinion and more importantly, one I could trust.

But why in God's name do I need anyone, much less him, to tell me that?

I don't really need it (I tell myself), I just really like it. Is that OK? Does that make it any better? This desire for "external validation" has crossed my mind before, but this is the first time I've explored it in any detail. I think I am being honest with myself when I say I don't need it, because in my heart there is no upset, only peace. The constant agitation I was battling a few months ago has dissipated, the questions have been resolved. For now, I'm calm. I like the path I'm on, and I'm glad I waited for it to be revealed to me.

I am a little peeved that my health has continued to suck in one way or another, but otherwise things are really good. Really, really good, so good it's almost scary because it makes me think something bad's going to happen to balance it all out. Then I remember, yo -- impending surgery, again? And think, oh, yeah, right. OK. I can handle that. I will handle that.

Wow. This was an illuminating process, tonight. Cool.

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