Because this is going to be a heavy text post, I'm going to share some pics of Gatsby of late because he's cute and we haven't seen much of him on the blog lately.
I always seem to hibernate in February and March before I feel myself thaw in April when spring comes back. I seem to bloom when the jacarandas do: April and October. Then there's Christmas and New Year's and I don't really notice the cold and dreariness until February and then bam, I'm down and out for a while. I feel like it's good that I recognize these patterns in myself, though.
I haven't been holed up at home or in bed for weeks on end, though. Quite the opposite, I've been insanely busy. After my February doldrums expired, March roared in like a lion and out of nowhere I had a new bi-weekly babysitting job out in Rancho for a hyper-active 4 year old, retreat season in full swing, and the possibility of a new roommate. The good kind of roommate.
The bi-weekly babysitting job is going really well. It's a very nice family that pays well. My charge is a generally sweet kid, though he has been a bit spoiled and really needs the structured routines I'm helping to put in place for him. In the month and some that I've been a regular household fixture he seems to have improved a great deal. Of course we're at the point in the learning curve where he is testing boundaries and my authority, but I think that's good. He's figuring out that there are things I will usually concede to (e.g. a drink of water after brushing his teeth, one more bedtime story) and things I won't (e.g. ice cream for dinner, not washing his hair, or whining more than absolutely once). I think part of why I like this period of testing is because after it's over, it's smooth sailing. The only thing I dislike about this job is that he really struggles with staying asleep, but I think I've figured that one out. It involves Mary Poppins's lullabies.
My Saturday night babysitting is still going, and it's going pretty well. I've been part of these girls' lives since their infancy so there's no real learning curve, but a lot of boundary testing. It's primarily the 5 year old. I know that part of the problem is a lack of consistency on the part of her other caregivers (I'm the weekend babysitter, but she goes to school and has a weekday nanny and mom and dad aren't always consistent with discipline and being firm on rules, though they try their best), so I stick firm to my rules and when the consequences are unpleasant for her she seems to begin understanding that Willow doesn't mess around. Basically, I can out-will a preschooler. I thank my stubborn Spanish and Basque ancestors for this gift. Her little sister is at the point of being almost 3 and learning to obey, and she's also learning that I will physically intervene if she doesn't listen. Because that's what you do with 2 year olds: you reinforce verbal warnings with physically removing them from situations that are causing them trouble. Like a birdbath, which is not to be confused with a splashing pool.
Retreat season was nuts and I'm so, so grateful I don't ever have to do it again. Six weeks of weekly meetings that aren't really about anything and never start on time is a recipe for a very cranky Willow. It's not until the last couple of meetings that we actually work on retreat-related things. I don't know if this is specific to the way my parish's youth minister runs things or if it's endemic across LifeTeen programs, but it made me crazy. The retreat itself was a rewarding experience and I'm glad I went. Unfortunately I was violently, terribly sick through the entire landing mass. It was awful. Thankfully my sisters and their peers had a wonderful time and that always makes it worth it. Also, the weather on the mountain was beautiful.
Confirmation is in 2 1/2 short weeks which is so hard to believe. I started this crazy journey almost 3 years ago and it's been amazing and humbling and frustrating and heart-wrenching and probably the best thing I've done since I left school. I've grown so much closer to my sisters and I've learned so much about my faith. I've met some truly great Catholics and some really amazing teens. As wonderful as the experience has been, I think it's time for me to step back and rest. I need to focus more on my own faith formation rather than forming others for a while. I plan to continue to counsel my sisters (as their sponsor it's part of my job) and of course be available to the teens I've taught in the last 3 years, but I need to work on myself now.
Which means I'm changing churches. I've been wanting to do this for years, and I've been actively planning it for the last 8 months. It's time for me to leave the parish I grew up in and strike out on my own. I've never (and I mean never ever) felt at home at this parish and I've never had a place within it where I fit in. There's also a large vacuum where the young adults should be. They just don't seem to exist and if they do, they're involved in the LifeTeen leadership. I'm done with LifeTeen (let me be frank: I've been done with LifeTeen since I was a teen) and I want to find people my age to fellowship with. I'm looking at two parishes right now, one that's a lot closer to my home and one that I have fond memories with. Both have young adult ministries. I think I'm going to spend the summer discerning which one will be a better fit for me, but I'm really excited to make this change.
Speaking of other changes I'm making, I'm getting a roommate!!! I'm so excited! She's one of my dear friends from college (one of my only friends from college) who is itching to come back to LA. I'm delighted to accommodate. I'm feeling really optimistic about it, though I recognize that it's going to be a major adjustment. I've been living on my own for 5 months now and I've enjoyed it. I like not having anyone else around and I'm happy in my own company. But I think I'll like not being lonely even more. While living alone has been nice, it's incredibly isolating, especially for someone like me. I'm hoping that my new roommate and I will occasionally be able to go out together and experience the world outside of the condo and my office. Last time I checked there was still a world out there - I kind of want to experience it again. Also, this is kicking my butt into gear about actually getting the house clean. Semi-permanent company and all that requires that the house be hospitable.
So that's most of what's going on in my little world. Now that life has started to shift out of survival mode and into something resembling normalcy, I'd like to get back to blogging more regularly. I got my laptop up and running again so I can blog at home instead of just during my lunch break at work. Woohoo!