The Next Step   

...getting through life one step at a time.

...getting through life one step at a time.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

"The Talk"

I have dreaded this for 6 years, 8 months, and 26 days.  And it just happened.  On the way home from getting cupcakes, and playing one of those pianos out on the street.

"Um, Mommy?  I have been thinking about T a lot lately and I'm wondering, why she doesn't have a dad."

"She doesn't need a dad, she has two mommies who love her very much."

"Oh, um, but, I thought *everyone* had a dad."

"Well, no.  Maybe it started out that way, but lots of people don't have dads.  Their dads could have died, moved away because the parents got divorced, or they might not have been able to take care of a baby so they gave the baby up for adoption."

"Adoption?  What's that?"

"Well, that's when the woman and man who, um, *had* the baby couldn't take care of it, so they found someone else who would love it and take care of it.  T is adopted."

"What?  So she *had* a dad?"

"Uh, well, yes.  Everyone starts out with a dad, that's um, that's how we get babies.  You know about blood cells right?  All the tiny little blood cells make up the blood, right?"


"Well, it's the same with babies.  But instead of just blood cells, there are mom-baby cells and dad-baby cells and they come together and become one bigger cell and then start growing into a baby.  And the baby grows inside the mom."

"Do the people eat the cells?  How do they get in there?"

"Um. No.  How much do you really want to know here?"

"I want to know EVERYTHING!"

"Oh.  Okay.  But this is NOT something you discuss with your sisters, they are too young, and this is NOT something you talk about at school - it is NOT appropriate school conversation."


"So, no, they don't eat the cells.  The dad has a penis, you know that, right?"


"And the mom has a vagina."


"So the man puts the penis in the vagina and squirts the baby cells into the mom, where they meet up with her baby cells and start growing a baby.  And when the baby is born, it comes out of the vagina - or like when I had your sisters, because there were two in there it was too difficult to do that, so the doctors cut me open to get your sisters out.  The mom and the dad who do that are called the "biological mom" and the "biological dad" but that doesn't mean they will be the mommy and the daddy."

"Oh. So, WHY doesn't T have a dad?"

"Well, because her biological mom and biological dad couldn't take care of her, so on the day she was born, they gave her to her two mommies who love her very much and have raised her and taken care of her.  Families don't all have to have the same parts - they just have to have people who love each other very much and take care of each others.  Like Auntie Heather, she's not related to us, but we love her so much she is part of our family."

"Oh, right.  Okay."

****Silence for the rest of the ride home as she mulls this new information over.*****

"So, um mommy?  I didn't know about that other part - I thought all babies were cut out.  Was I cut out?"



(And I swear I heard her gag just a little.)

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Next NEXT Step

I have posted ONE time so far in 2014.  That post was called "The Next Step" because we moved from Massachusetts back to Virginia.  I haven't posted since then not because my brain isn't constantly thinking of stuff to share, but because the rest of me has been fully occupied in going back to school.

So this one is the next, NEXT step

It's not something I wanted to share when I started.  There was the fear of failure - what if I wash out and then I have to TELL everyone about it?

I aced my intro course, got a B in the prerequisite Human Biology class, and final grades aren't in yet for Therapeutic Massage I/Anatomy, but if I didn't get an A, it's a HIGH B+.

Yep, I am changing gears in my career once again.

My very first job was at a Bakin-Robbins ice cream store (at age 15), and from there I graduated to restaurants, an airline (packing bags in the belly of the planes), a non-profit environmental organization, a real estate settlement company, a law firm (where I spent lots of their money buying toys and planning parties), became a real estate agent, then back to a non-profit association pushing for better ways to handle traffic, and finally struck out on my own as an independent marketing consultant.  That lasted for all of 3 months as I attempted to work from home when the twins were two years old.  Conference calls?  Forget it!!  I continued with my gig working for free (sort of in-kind as I got major discounts at my favorite art center for the work I did for them) but I didn't feel write working for salary when I could barely give them my undivided attention for 1 hour per week.

After that revelation, and after the oldest kid started public school, I spent more than a year trying to figure out HOW I could go back to work, and work around my kids schedules.  Any part-time job I could walk in off the street and get wouldn't pay the babysitter and I would be bound by set schedules which I am sure would be akin to waiting for the cable guy - either making it impossible to drop my kid off at school, or making it impossible to pick her up.

WHAT job, out of the house, could I get that I could do for just a few hours a week, that wouldn't cost me more in babysitting than I was bringing in?

I spent that year reading all about the mommy-wars.  Moms who stay home with their kids look down their noses at women who "let other people raise their kids."  Moms who commute pity and deride those women who "don't really work, and have nothing better to do than sit around all day, siphoning off their working husbands."

I had been in both worlds and I was torn up a little about this decision.  And my husband was pressuring me to find some way to bring money in again - the pressure on him being the only wage-earner was immense.

Not that I was worried about what anyone would think of my decision - I hated the whole mommy-wars thing and felt it was really just trumped up by people seeking clicks and controversy.  I have always believed that whatever decision someone makes for their family is the BEST decision they can make at that time; it may not work for me, but I have different kids, a whole different family. 

Then one day, when I was still living in Massachusetts, my mom sent me a gift certificate for 3 massages at a local place.  (God bless you Mom - that is STILL the greatest gift ever!!)

I looked on with intense interest as the massage therapist walked in the door at the same time as me, minutes before my appointment.  I enjoyed the massage, and took note the next time of the therapist's schedule.  I talked to her.  I questioned her about her training - how long did it take?  how much did it cost? where did you go?

These thoughts mulled around in my head for another year.

If you recall, I hate feet.  Even baby feet.  So I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to jump into a new career that would require me to TOUCH other people's feet.

In fact, that is the first thing my husband said to me when I broached this subject with him:  "How can you do this?  You HATE feet!"

Turns out - I just hate LOOKING at feet.  And since you massage with your hands and not your eyes, I'm all good!  (So stop posting pictures of your feet on Facebook!  You are giving me the heebie-jeebies!!)

I investigated the three local massage schools, and it really came down to price.  National school: $13,500; Northern Virginia school: $8,500; Norther Virginia Community College: $3,025.

I'm usually leery of the least expensive item, adhering to the old adage: "You get what you pay for." But the first two are private schools, and with a community college, it's a state-sponsored institution so they are getting funding elsewhere in addition to tuition.  (And the $95 PER SEMESTER parking pass!)

Since fully committing to this path, I am glad that I did.  I have heard anecdotes from doctors and chiropractors that they have high regard for the quality of education I am getting.  My instructor is an expert in her field, and really cares about the kind of massage therapists we will become some day.  She is hard on us in the tests, but fair in her assessment of our knowledge. 

Comments from my instructor after a 15 minute back massage that was part of my final exam: "Well, you definitely got an A." - "That was VERY relaxing." - "The pressure was just right."

I have been trading massages with my classmates every week as well as giving a massage to someone outside of class every week.  I have really gotten used to weekly massages!  I've learned Swedish, Hot Stone, Sports, and dabbled in Reflexology, as well as gotten instruction in Yin-Yang massage by the very man who invented the technique!  (And I have been fully instructed in the correct pronunciation of "Yin-Yang" - it is "In-Young")

So I'm really happy with this next step I have taken.  I feel successful, and smart, despite the difficulty in learning all the anatomy that has been thrust upon me in the last 12 weeks.  (I EVEN went to a cadaver lab at Howard University to see what the muscles and structure REALLY looks like!)

Summer semester starts next week and I'll be jumping into Therapeutic Massage II/Physiology, Entrepreneurship of Massage Therapy, CPR, and working an internship that will require my presence in a massage therapy clinic every Saturday for the next 12 weeks.

While I will not be telling stories on my classmates and clients (because that would be way beyond unethical), I will share with you some of the stories of massages I have received - because there have been some BAD ones!

Have a great summer - I probably will not have time to write again until after my ankle surgery in August!  (Did I forget to mention I have a cyst in my distal tibia?  Oh well, that's another story.)

The website is under construction, but you can follow me on Facebook by clicking this Relax & Heal link.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Next Step

Yes, I know "The Next Step" is the title of my blog, so why would I make it the title of a blog post?  Well, because that's what this blog is all about.  Navigating the next steps in my life, and sharing with you the laughs at good times and the laughs at the misery along the way.

As you can see - the last time I posted was ONCE in December.  And before that it was a couple times in  October.

Do you know what happened in November?

We moved.

Yup!  All that whining and complaining I've done over the past few years about being so far away from home and my long-time friends, and family - that's all done now.  We moved back to our little house in Virginia that we had (almost 10 years ago now!) remodeled and designed perfect for us.

The packing, the moving, the unpacking 2300 square foot of stuff into a 1300 square foot house.  So the house isn't SO perfect for our size family anymore, but we squeezed in and are managing. The twins are sharing a room, 6yo has her own space but no closet, and Hubs and I are shoe-horned into a room that just barely fits.

Then getting our 6yo settled into her new school, trying desperately to get spots for the twins in a preschool (fail - they are all booked up until next fall).

Then Thanksgiving.

And play dates and parties with so many of those friends I missed so hard!

Then a four hour car trip south to see my parents for Christmas, and fun side-trips along the way to avoid the car-sickness erupting all over the car seats.

Then New Year's.  (ha! Who am I kidding?  New Years was such a non-event for us.)

Then snow days on top of "closing for cold" days on top of snow days. (One super fun thing about living in Virginia is that they don't know how to handle snow - so when we get 3" starting at noon one day, the schools close that day, and for two more days, because the municipalities have not only not pre-treated the roads before the storm, they waited until it was all done before the started clearing and treating, which took them all the way through day 2, and then what they pseudo-scraped off the roads on day 2 melted in the bright sun and then promptly froze overnight giving us no school on day day.  For 3" of snow.)

And I look wistfully at my paintings above the fire place and wonder when I'll have the time to paint again.

And I look at the box marked "Garage China" that makes me laugh so I don't really want to unpack it.  (It's full of breakable stuff off a yard sale table that was in the garage - so the packers marked it "garage china.")

And I think about lots of things to write about, like the move home with kids strapped into car seats and the only way to get the carsick one to stop thinking about her churning stomach was to encourage the "knock-knock" jokes that all ended in "poop" or "pee" or "guts" or some other distasteful topic that elicits raucous laughter from all three girls, but I get distracted before I make it to the computer.

And I'm contemplating a whole new career path - so that's taking up some serious real estate in my head.  But I'm not ready to put that down in writing yet.

So for now,  we're home, still unpacking, still squeezing in, and reveling in the sunshine that comes with knowing friends for so long that you can see them three years later and feel like you just saw them yesterday.

Should I unpack it?  Or just take it straight to Good Will?

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