I love getting yearly letters from friends and family, I like the photos and the updates, I like to stay in touch. I also like the inner chuckle I get when I read the subtle bragging that some people include, the aside references to the shiny new car, the number of degrees their kids have now, the successes that they feel proud of and want everyone to know about. I chuckle because I know that those letters don’t tell the whole story, and I enjoy the irony of keeping in touch with people by only showing the best face to them, and never letting them get too close.
I get a lot of news letters, my dad is from a family of 11, my mom is from a family of 8, and I have many friends as well who keep in touch this way. While most of the letters I get are the typical look at our beautiful children, life, home, cars, vacations, etc. Some few of my aunts and uncles have decided to break out of the mid-western best face forward mode and actually share how they really are, what they have gone through that year, and what they have learned. I LOVE those letters. I feel closer to those family members because they have dared to be vulnerable, to let us see where they are really at. Maybe I also feel close to them because I have a bad habit of being uncomfortably honest with people, though I’m less so than I used to be, so I feel closer to others who are the same.
The Genius Husband doesn’t like year-end letters much. Words like cheesy sappy drivel quaint and trite spring to mind when I think of his past expressed opinions about them. He has suddenly announced that he wants to send a letter this year, complete with kid pictures and news since we are so far from many friends and family. "But it can't be fake like most of them are." he stipulates.
So now I am trying, while also figuring out Hanukah presents for next week, and the Girl’s birthday two days before Christmas and getting all things ready for when this baby decides to come sometime around the end of the month what exactly he means by a not fake letter. Maybe I should just line everyone up right after they get out of bed in the morning and snap a not fake picture of messy hair and cranky tears and then say things in the letter like, "Well, our year sucked, how about yours."
Here is a first draft of the said not fake newsletter. First we will have close up photos of the staph infection that the kids have been plagued by. I’ll give you one of the more tired looking pregnant photos where I look exactly like my mother in ways that aren’t flattering. I’ll get the GH to scowl for a close-up of him, and then we’ll move onto the text.
This year we gave away everything we had that didn’t fit into two minivans, left the country we have lived in for the past 4 years, the birthplace of our first two children, and all of our friends, and moved to San Diego for a job, and a chance to be closer to family. While we enjoy watching our children bond with their grandparents and aunts and uncles and we know from looking at them that it was the right move for their benefit, that’s about the highlight of the year.
The Genius Husband continues to work at a job that he hates. For a man whose main gift is teaching and communicating, spending all of his time building houses for other people is frustrating, and draining, and depressing. He continues to notice the ways that his body is being damaged by the constant work load, he deals with long hours and bad help, and surly homeowners trying to save a buck, and employers who don’t have the best management experience. While it’s the best income he can make right now, he’s not actually making all that much considering the cost of living. We have suffered a drastic reduction in quality of living since leaving Vancouver for here. I watch as the days begin to drain him of all vitality and turn him into a shell of his former self. All searches for opportunities in other fields that he is more suited for continue to come up dry, especially considering the financial burden of a wife and children.
I found out I was pregnant in April. The baby is fine and while we are happy to welcome another child, we were not happy to see the return of mad pregnant woman disease whose symptoms are constant crying, loneliness, irritability and irrational anger, and extreme lethargy most of the time. I have wasted a lot of time just wishing we could go back to Canada.
The children have been sick now for almost a month, but before then they were well most of the year. They continue to grow and thrive in spite of us, and hopefully our best efforts to parent them well will be enough. They are smart, and beautiful, and funny, they love their larger family, they miss our friends in Vancouver still, and anything you can find in them to criticize can be laid squarely at our feet and point to our own shortcomings as parents.
Slowly it dawns on us that Jack Nicholson may have been right, maybe this is as good as it gets, and we’re not adjusting well to that idea.
We’ll send baby pictures sometime this year, and we’re positive we’ll be stupid in love with this child once it shows it’s adorable face and we’ll force you to look at every picture and tell you about every burp and poo. Until then, happy holidays, love to you and yours.
(I’ll have to see if that’s what the Genius Husband had in mind when he said “Not Fake”.)