Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another Birthday...

In the spirit of "keeping it real"...

Yippee. Today... It wasn't too great. Rather crummy, actually. It doesn't help that this is the most depressing time of the year in Moscow. It's already been winter for months and it won't be nice outside until the end of April.

I had wanted a peaceful morning of some coffee in bed (and maybe some fresh strawberries I bought yesterday)... NO illusions about breakfast in bed; it wouldn't be worth having to clean up the disaster in the kitchen later on... Then some snuggling on the couch while we'd watch some TV together... Maybe the girls could put on one of their little performances... Then go to the gym as a family, maybe out for an inexpensive meal afterwards... Back home at an early hour so we could just hang out some more...

I also really wanted some homemade cards by the girls. 

Not too much to hope for, I think... Any part of it, really... 

I didn't even want a present, since by virtue of being expats we pretty much stock up on anything we could foresee needing/wanting (within reason, of course) when we're in the USA -- and we had just done that after Christmas. Since we moved here five years ago, I don't think I've gotten an actual present on my birthday -- so that's not a big deal. (My parents celebrated my birthday while we were together over Christmas). 

But then Chris worked late, not getting home until almost four a.m.... Forget coffee in bed. I was up with the girls at seven a.m., exhausted. I'd been woken by both girls during the night and by him when he had returned home. 

After my medical problems this week, I'm supposed to be RESTING and avoiding stress. (The right side of my face has regained most sensation, but still isn't 100% back to normal). How I DREAM of being able to sleep in some time... It only happens a few times a year on some miraculous occasion. 

We DID have some nice snuggling on the couch, but the girls kept fighting with each other so much that it ended up being really disappointing and unpleasant. 

You know what it's like... Break up fight, enforce time outs, serve breakfast, clean up breakfast, deal with laundry, more refereeing, time to make lunch, clean up lunch, more laundry... 

Chris was up for a while at lunch time, but still really tired... His job is so darn draining and it never seems to end. Then he went to sleep again, right when we'd planned to go to the gym. Figuring he needed the sleep, the girls and I waited... But by the time he got up, I was so darn tired from the long day with the kids and dealing with housework (there was a LOT to do), I didn't have the energy. (I have fibromyalgia and it really flares up when I'm tired or under stress, so this week has been rough). I took a nap for a whopping forty-five minutes. By then we'd missed the kids' classes at the gym and it was too late to go without feeding them first.

I headed into the kitchen to make eggplant parmigiana, and I even got a little help from Katya... but then they started painting and ended up making a big mess. (It had been under control and neat while I supervised, but not once I left). Katya supposedly did paint me a card, but somehow it was destroyed. Natalia made one, but I haven't seen it yet. 

The painting lead to a few loads of laundry. (Our washing machine can only handle 10 lbs of laundry at a time. Since we have to do laundry "Moscow-style", I won't finish it all until tomorrow -- four 1/2 hours per load from beginning to end).  

Sensing, perhaps, that I was about to snap, Chris suggested that we get some Indian food delivered. Good call. I'll complete the eggplant tomorrow. Getting food delivered is something we've done less than five times in five years. It takes forever, the food is usually COLD and it's ridiculously expensive... Truly, it's easier to just make a pizza from scratch than it is to order one... (This isn't true in all areas of the city, though). 

By the time the food arrived, the girls were cranky, I had reached my maximum level of tolerance for stress and whining, and I was feeling utterly disappointed about the tiring day during which I'd accomplished almost nothing. I didn't even have an appetite... I know I'll really appreciate the yummy leftovers tomorrow, though...!

Thanks so much to those of you who knew it was my birthday and sent me good wishes via the internet! And to Julie who even called me on my mobile from California! It really helped. This morning my first "Happy Birthdays" came from my cell-phone provider and the customer service rep from our gym.

If we were living in the US, I don't think I'd really care... But birthdays are HUGE, HUGE, HUGE here! For people of ALL ages. It's a major holiday. 

I think this year it's so hard for me because of something the neurologist said when I was in the hospital on Tuesday... One of the reasons she thought I might have had a blood clot was because of sagging in my facial muscles. Then she later realized, "Oh, good!! You just have wrinkles!"


When did I get OLD???!!!!!

I never thought I'd be getting "old" and still not have begun the life I always thought I'd live -- settled in a house, in a town we'd be part of for the rest of our kids' educations (at least), and teaching foreign languages (not English -- that's not my profession) at a school where I could really grow as an educator. 

It's hard being on this path that I didn't choose and not knowing how much longer I'll be on it. I try to make the best of everything, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't hurt sometimes. Sometimes a lot. 

All that said, I know that my family really does love and appreciate me -- and that they really did mean for my birthday to be nice... Maybe from now on I'll take over more of a role in planning it so that their actions end up matching their intentions. I plan for everyone else, I might as well do it for myself! 


Annie said...

Goodness. Happy Birthday. I was sitting here just about to cry myself, and maybe you feel even worse.

That would be an interesting post for everyone: how your life differs from the one you'd planned. I just listened to This American Life; the topic was "Plan B". You are clearly on Plan B. But your life seems to me to be so much more than I ever even dreamed of in my Plan A.

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday!!!! miss you more than you know!!!


katbat said...

happy birthday!!!
Sometimes "life" just gets in the way:) This is from Susan, Katherines mom. Im at her house, on her computer!!

Rachael said...

Happy Belated Birthday!!! It can only go up from here. Right? Wishing you all the best this year. And, big long distance hugs to you. (Also, next year, I will remember, since yours falls right after Katya's.)

Anonymous said...

Anyway you look at it - Happy Birthday!
This is the writing on the Christmas card I got from my Catholic friend on our first Christmas in US - it was a square card with a abstract bird sitting on the tree branch - it looked funny, sort of wrong, I turned the card around, it still looked wrong, I opened the card and it said- "Anyway you look at it - Merry Christmas!". So, anyway you look at it - Happy Birthday!

Anonymous said...

I was listening to the same program today. I thought it was good, if little bit too real.

Tina in CT said...


I felt so blue after talking to you this morning hearing about your day. Wish you'd been here as I'd have had the girls for the weekend so you could sleep, sleep, sleep, read a trashy book and eat bon bons.

I think you need another night at the Moscow Marriott. This time be there when you are able to check in, bring your bathing suit, workout gear and a good book. You deserve a get away!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I want you home in a white house with a picket fence too.



P.S. I didn't notice wrinkles when you were here in January but I'm your mother.

Anonymous said...

I had a second take on the birthday thing.
You are right about planning your own.
My lowest point came some years ago. I knew that my son (a teenager at a time ) and my husband (who still thinks that all holidays, including St Valentines Day come on Sunday)forgot about the Mothers Day.
I did not give them any clue, and let them fail miserably by allowing them to forget the Mothers day. I enjoyed the misery I wrecked upon them on Monday after, when they discovered that they missed the Mothers Day. On Tuesday, I was really ashamed of myself, I never done that again, and came to the same conclusion as you did - if I want something, I better plan it as everything else in our life.

Katya said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katya said...

Oh, Tamara. I was thinking of you today and remember the awesome dinner we had at Sweet Tomatoes when we were in grad school... Miss YOU!

For the past couple of years one or more members of my family has had the flu for my birthday... one year all 3 of us had the stomach flu. Bleh...

Anonymous said...

I just realize, your are willing to open a very interesting can of worms - did we even had a plan A, and if so, what was it?
It can lead to very interesting conversation.

Anonymous said...

I don't even know you, but have fallen in love with your blog. Your life sounds so exciting to me. I know your life can be difficult because day to day things in Russia are much more difficult than those here in the US. You are getting to see and do things most of us will never get the opportunity to do.

Anyway, hope your days get better soon. Your blog entertains me so much. I'm so thankful I found it.

Happy Birthday!


Susan said...

your poor mom sounds as sad as I am.
And Katherine hasnt even left!!

The Expatresse said...

I thought it was just me. February is tough, no matter where you are. Knowing we have MONTHS more of this doesn't help.

But I hear you. I think we all have days like that . . . nothing truly disastrous (and when I think about the fires in Australia and other real problems, then I feel guilty). But, yeah: it can be a drag. And exhausting. And thankless.

This too shall pass.

Big hugs.

MoscowMom said...

Hi, guys--

Feeling a little better today... I think my birthday just coincided with a "living in Moscow can be really depressing" day...

About what you said about Mother's Day, Olga-- You NAILED it. My family has forgotten Mother's Day and my birthday several times... Last year they didn't know they'd missed Mother's Day until the next day. I don't think they'd have even realized it until, perhaps, we celebrated Father's Day if I hadn't said something.

Living here, there aren't any reminders in the media (well, on msn there is...), so that makes it bit more understandable...

March 8th could count as a type of "Mother's Day," (it's International Women's Day here), but it also happens to be Chris's birthday...

Tami said...

Oh, Tamara...I'm so sorry your birthday was so rough. I know its a matter of expectations being different from reality, but it still hurts.
So here's a very heart felt belated HAPPY BIRTHDAY for you! ((hugs))

Melissa said...

Happy belated Birthday. my friend. Hang in there.