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Everything Will Be Awesome

So we recently watched The Lego Movie and I’ve pretty much had the song, “Everything Is Awesome” in my head ever since. Which, to be honest, isn’t so awesome. However, I’m feeling really pumped right now (and it’s a pretty good “feeling pumped” song) and I think it’s safe to say that while things have not changed much for the better as of yet, things are looking up up up.

We are moving. Yes, that’s right. Moving to an ENGLISH. SPEAKING. COUNTRY. Yes, I was yelling. That’s how excited I am. We’re moving to the U.S. in September; specifically, to New Jersey. I know it seems awful and cliche and like I’m setting myself up for failure, but I’m pretty sure we’re going to win at life once we move. We’re going to save money and possibly even buy a house! We’ve got quotes from lenders and everything! I’m going to exercise and everything will be fantastic.

Okay, I know it won’t be that easy, but it will be easier and right now, that’s huge. Because it’s been so hard for so long, I’m ready to give up. Except I don’t have to.

What I’m going to do, though, is start setting goals. During the week, I’m going to do one thing for myself every day. Saturday, I’m going to yoga (Starting this Saturday – Eek!!). One day (TBA), I will blog. Another, I will paint. The others will be exercise related. I will also stretch and clean every day for fifteen minutes each. No more, no less. Beyond, of course, the laundry and dishes.

What inspired this? Besides the fact that I’m “thinking” of doing this all the time? My husband said that we weren’t ready to own a house. And though he’s right, I want to prove him wrong. I want to be ready. I want to take my life back because I’m ready to have one and I finally have the opportunity.

More to come.

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Postpartum

I really didn’t think postpartum depression would be an issue for me – mainly because I’m already depressed. How could you have two forms of depression? Well, it turns out, you can. Postpartum, it seems, is much more physical. Or perhaps that’s just because it’s anxiety? Really, I don’t even know how to write about this because I don’t even know how to feel about it. Frankly, I don’t understand how to even feel it, let alone analyze or describe it. It’s new, and different. And with my history of depression and anxiety, I wasn’t expecting that. I was completely sidelined.

People keep saying to me that I’m just being too hard on myself and expecting perfection and having two kids is supposed to be hard. I know that it is. But, even though the boy is in Kita, I still can’t seem to function. Even though the girl sleeps pretty well at night, I still don’t seem rested and up to the task of caring for them. My nerves are on edge. Just a little whine or cry sets me off and I am horrified to find myself thinking about shaking her or throwing her or punching him or just leaving them on the train platform and walking away. Now, scary as that may sound (and believe me, it scares me), I know that I’m still “together” enough not to actually do those things. But it is still pretty scary. And horrible. I look at their little faces and my heart breaks because I love them so much that I just can’t.

I wake up and try to prepare myself to have a good day. After all, I’m pretty lucky. My husband takes the wild child to school every morning so that I can sleep in with the baby. I have a cleaner that comes once a week. My husband will also pick up the slack in the evenings: he makes dinner, he cleans the kitchen, and takes over caring for the boy. Literally ALL I have to do is get out of the house around midday to pick up the boy, get home, put him down for a nap and put on a movie when he wakes up (or better yet, actually play with him, but that’s another level entirely). That’s it. I should be able to handle that. And some days I can. Occasionally I can even do it without breaking down and crying.

But most days, she doesn’t cooperate. Or he doesn’t. She would usually fall asleep on the way to pick him up – Great! Then, there is something about his school that wakes her up. Always. So I try to put his coat on and get him out the door as quickly as possible so that the movement of the stroller/carrier (I’m willing to try anything) will lull her back to sleep quickly so that I can give some attention to poor little boy who I love so much I start crying just thinking about it. However, said beautiful little boy rarely cooperated. He would lag. He would stop to look at sticks. He would try and run in puddles. It would be raining and of course he won’t carry his umbrella or keep his hood up. It would end in her screaming and then him screaming as well, seemingly trying to match her in volume, all to get my attention.

I bought a double stroller. That solved the problem with him, yet she still wakes up and cries and then he cries. And then I cry. On the train. In public. In the rain.

Often, she falls asleep again before we get home and I put him to bed fine and honestly, the rest of the day could proceed well. But it doesn’t. Because that in and of itself is enough to completely destroy me. I’m shattered for the rest of the day. So that when, during our movie (AKA my minimal parenting time), she wakes up and I have to feed her, I sob when he looks at her and moves slightly away. Then of course, he starts crying and saying, “Stop, mommy. Stop. It’s OK. Stop, mommy.”, which just makes me cry all the more.

Those are good days. When she sleeps. When it isn’t raining or snowing so much that taking her out isn’t just ridiculous.

I’m so tired. My body feels slack, like there is nothing holding my shoulders up above my back and head up on my neck. I have actually body aches like flu symptoms and searing headaches.The instant the baby cries, I start having a panic attack. Yet I try my best to smile at my boy and tell him it’ll be fine and that his baby sister just cries sometimes and that that is OK. And it is in that trying that I lose it. It is somehow that trying that is too much for my heart.

Apparently my husband, who doesn’t understand at all and who is getting more and more frustrated with me and with whom I have resorted to communicating with in either passive aggressive or defensive snaps and snarls, was worried enough to call my mom. So she flew out. Which helps, in that I now have time to sit here and drink tea and write this while someone else tries to put my two beautiful children to sleep. And I’m eating much better. But I’m still crying. And I the baby crying or fussing still makes me so anxious, my stomach hurts. And my little boy’s face still breaks my heart.

I have called my midwife and emailed a therapist. I am going to call my doctor tomorrow, but I don’t have a lot of hope that this will be cleared up. And I really worry about what it’s doing to my marriage.

But then, I worry about everything.

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My Own Personal Hunger Games

Or, as they call it in Germany, the Standesamt. Though, to be honest, I’m not sure that’s what they call it. I know that Standesamt is something, but I’ve also heard it called the Rathaus, the Bürgeramt and the Bürgerbüro. As far as I know, which is not much at all, they all have something to do with what we’d call City Hall. I believe one of them might be the Foreign Office. I have no idea and I should because I’ve had to spend far too much time there.

Today, we were going to get a paper stamped and signed for our Kindergeld, the money that we should be getting, and have yet to get, for our little man. Isn’t that amazing? Have a kid in Germany? Here’s some money. However, they fool you because to get it, one has to trudge through a mess of German bureaucracy. It has taken us over a year now to do. Mostly because we had no freaking clue what we needed to do.

Now, as anyone knows, if you want to really experience the worst (and at times the best) of any given culture, go to a government office. You want to really see that no one in California speaks English (and that we, as a state, are incredibly, amazingly multicultural) and that the state is bankrupt? You want to finally understand that absolutely no one wants to do ANY work in Barcelona and they will outright lie to you to get out of doing it? Go to the DMV or the Ajuntament.

So, what have I learned about the Germans today? For one, they are amazingly adverse to integrating other languages into their services. I had always wondered how it was possible that EVERYONE in Germany speaks English quite well until you step into City Hall, where they all just stare at you blankly, as if they’d never even heard the word Englisch. Especially in the Foreign Office, where you’d think at least someone would understand that they are dealing with foreigners and therefore, you know, foreign languages. Well, today I learned that they are actually not allowed to speak any language other than German, whether the person actually can speak it or not. At least I think that’s what I learned. I’m not sure because it was in German…

Secondly, they are the worst at queueing. You would think they’d be excellent. You think German, you think stiff and precise (ignoring the other stereotype of Heidi’s grandfather of course). However, not so. They are officially the worst. I thought that the Catalans were funny because upon entering a building, be it the Ajuntament or a bank, they would ask who the last person in line was and then sit or stand wherever they please. That way they don’t have to actually wait in line, but there is still an order involved. Until you get to an FC Barça game, then all bets are off and those little old ladies aren’t adverse to throwing elbows. Here, however, there is no order. It is entirely chaos.

We arrived at the Standesamt (or whatever the hell it’s called) at 8:00 in the morning. Because that is what time they open. Well… except Tuesdays, it turns out. They open at 9:30 on Tuesdays. Of course. So after 15 minutes of moaning about why we live in this country, my husband decided he couldn’t wait the hour and a half and so, went to work. I decided that it was worth me waiting and trying without him because I did not want to come again. The boy and I went and had breakfast (Quiche, which is the closest thing to “breakfast” I’ve been able to find anywhere. A post on that to follow.) and returned around 9:00. There were already about 15 people waiting around in the entry hall. Some were sitting on benches, some were standing ridiculously close to the door, waiting for it to open and some were standing and smoking in places I would bet money they were not allowed to smoke. I let the wild one out of his cage (stroller) and spent the next 15 minutes or so chasing after him whilst trying to drink my tea (which I almost spilled on his head. Twice.).

At that point, I figured we should get close to the door. I’m glad I did because there were then about 30 people all “queueing” at the door – meaning, they were bundled around the door and they sort of kept inching forward every few minutes, especially if they saw their neighbor moving even a millimeter in front of them. Now the child did not appreciate being put back in his cage (stroller) and was at this point, protesting. Not embarrassingly loudly, but to the point where I was starting to panic a little bit. Did that keep people from inching in front of me or actually physically moving the stroller so that they could make it known that they were before me (even if they had just appeared out of nowhere from behind)? No, it did not.

When the doors finally opened, after two full minutes of door-banging by two old ladies at the front, everyone moved. There was only one door, yet everyone seemed to fit through at once. No one thought to hold the door for the poor ladies with the Kinderwagen (there were 3 of us), so I had to sort of prop it open and push through, while bodies were slipping and sliding past on all sides. Once inside, I expected the lines to form. I mean, without direction, fair enough, but now inside, there were those line dividers made out of seatbelt material (I’m sure there’s a word for that, but having lived in foreign lands for 7 years, I can no longer be expected to speak English.). Line dividers = line. Right? Wrong.

They were STILL just inching forward and pushing me/my child out of the way. It was ridiculous. And as he got more and more fussy and actually began to cry, and as I got more and more sick of singing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes (his current favorite), I expected someone to show mercy. People were looking at me with pity just oozing from their face; A man tried to fan the little one to keep him from crying; A woman kept looking over and making faces at him, trying to get him to laugh. You could tell they cared. Did that mean that man didn’t drop his fan and rush in front of me when the attendant called ‘next’ (or whatever it is she called) even though he very definitely arrived after me? No, it certainly did not.

Luckily, as I finally pulled to the front, the child was still crying and pulling hard against his restraints, trying to slide out of the cage so the woman took pity on me and signed and stamped my paper even though it was in my husband’s name and he had left, happily avoiding all of it. Now I have to take my stamped paper along with a different stamped paper to an entirely different government office tomorrow.

And so it continues.

It should be noted that this lovely woman also complimented me on my German, and though I know very well that she was lying, it made me feel better all the same.

 

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Happy Birthday to Me

While I am writing this, it is not only pouring down rain, it is storming. I mean a full-on thunder, lightening, dark grey sky sort of storm. I should be happily cuddled up watching Harry Potter (I don’t care how many times I watch those movies, whenever the weather turns stormy, it’s like the first time all over again). Instead, I am staring at the computer, which never makes me happy or grateful. I am reading horrible drama-filled posts on Baby Center (Yes, I know. I should get a life. Thank you.), playing Candy Crush and once again, eating cheese in my pajamas. Seriously, do I have a protein deficiency or something (or is cheese just awesome – note to self: I am very grateful for cheese)??

I don’t know why I’ve been so negative lately. My husband took me out to dinner on Saturday for my birthday (his sister is visiting and stayed home to watch the wild one, who was a very good boy) and instead of being grateful (Damn it! Missed opportunity!), we got in an argument on the way home which basically boils down to me feeling angry at him and down on myself but most of all, confused and overwhelmed. I’m overwhelmed by my sadness and negativity, if that makes sense. I’m overwhelmed at the amount of things there are to do and overwhelmed by how difficult even the simplest thing is because we don’t speak the language of the country in which we live. I’m confused about whether or not my husband is being a jerk or I’m just being über sensitive.

It seems that not a day goes by without some little argument with him. Are they serious? Not really. But are they troubling? Yes. I told him on Saturday that I was thinking about counseling. Of course, he thinks that is something that the Americans invented just to be more self-involved nancies.

I am worried, though, because the last time I felt angry like this was because I was severely depressed. We lived in Barcelona and I wanted to leave. I was done with it there, I wanted to be home with my family and friends and I couldn’t because I didn’t want to leave this man that I was dating. I loved him and wanted to give us a chance. I’m very grateful that I did, because now we are married with an amazing little boy. However, we didn’t move home. We moved to Germany. And here I am again, three years later, desperately wanting to be home with my family and friends.

We are in the process of finding out what it takes to get us home (well, to my home) – but of course moving countries without a job and a plan in place at the other end is stupid, so it is going to take some time. But in the meantime, how do I deal with this huge amount of negativity that is just crushing me? How do I hold on for another year?