STDSANHK: Nieces and nephews

I love being an auntie. Hubs and I have eight nieces and nephews whose ages range from 1 to 22 years old, and every one of them has brought so many smiles and wonderful moments to our lives. I've often wished we could provide some cousins for our little tykes to play with, but since that dream has gone by the wayside I've become more appreciative of what we have.

I myself have more aunts and uncles than you can shake a stick at, and growing up the ones who made the biggest impression on me were those who were childless during my formative years. When the whole family got together, they were the ones who had the time and energy to hang out with my siblings, cousins and I, while the moms and dads enjoyed grown-up conversations away from the kids. The childless aunts and uncles woud talk to us and tell us jokes and funny stories. They taught us how to play pool and they played games with us. They were the easygoing, fun, exciting family members that us kids looked forward to spending time with almost as much as we looked forward to spending time with our cousins. The childless aunts and uncles were the Big Kids.

Now it's my turn to be a Big Kid with my nieces and nephews. When our siblings are tired from working and parenting all day (all week... all year...), Hubs and I have the energy to run around after their kids. We're happy to listen to them chatter incessantly about their latest obsessions from Dora to video games to *gasp* love interests. We're happy to push them on the swing, sit on the floor and color with them, and let them show us their rooms for the fifteen hundredth time. And I in particular am always happy to hold the baby until she falls asleep when my siblings are busy getting ready for birthday parties for the older tykes!

I feel that Hubs and I are so willing and able to do all this stuff because we don't have kids of our own. We're not required to do it every single day the way a parent is, and we get plenty of breaks in between the times we see our nieces and nephews, so there's no burnout. When we hang out with our nieces and nephews we're on top of our game and can be the most fun Auntie and Uncle possible!

The best part is, I know my siblings and sibs-in-law appreciate our "help." It's funny because Hubs and I want to and enjoy playing an active part in the kids' lives, so when our siblings thank us for spending time with their kids I think, there's no reason for that. I think we get as much out of it as the kids do, and we benefit as much from it as our siblings do. Nevertheless, it's nice to know that we're taking some of the pressure off of them, and that we're making a meaningful contribution to the well-being of our family.


Back to reality

If I thought work couldn't get any worse, I was dead wrong.

My vacation was wonderful. I spent many days swimming in the ocean, lying in the sun, and not giving a single thought to the Seventh Circle of Hell. I even got a lovely tan that's still sticking around. There were walks on the beach, wine tastings, gambling, fun with friends, bike rides and way too much food! I wish it could've lasted forever.

Then the day I went back to work, that was all shattered. Yet again, I got written up. Not only that, but I'm on probation as well. It's about 95% BS. I figured I'd get written up for one of the things on there, as ridiculous as it is, because I know my boss and the way she thinks. The other item I got written up for is 100% BS: I was empowered to make a decision, but when I didn't make the decision that my boss wanted me to make, she got pissed. Instead of simply overriding me, she waited until I was out of the office for two weeks to write me up for it. Wanna know what the decision was? Whether or not to allow one of my employees to leave work an hour early. I wrote a lengthy response to the write-up and didn't get so much as a nod from my boss in return. All I got was notification that my response was placed in my personnel file.

Nothing that happens there surprises me anymore. My probationary period is up on Sept 6 and I'm hoping against hope that I'll get the axe by then. In fact, every day I go to work with a wish in my heart that they've found some reason to let me go. I've done my homework by talking to my friend in HR as well as my sister (a.k.a. my attorney), and as long as I don't get fired for "cause" I'll get unemployment. After many conversations with Hubs, we both agree this would be the best thing for me, and for our marriage. I realize it's not PC to want to be on unemployment especially in this economy, but I've been through eight straight months of overwhelming stress on the job, and no matter what I do I can't seem to be what they want so I've given up trying. I need to be out of there any way I can at this point.

In the meantime, I am finally learning to manage my stress. I'm reading an awesome book called "The Joy of Living," which describes how and why science backs up the pracice of meditation, and it details several types of meditation. I had no idea it was so simple! I've been able to practice for a few minutes here and there, and even those brief moments are enough to help keep me feeling more balanced.  Maybe soon I'll have plenty of time to practice all I want!  I can feel the stress melting away even as I type...