A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.

Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving Happened

The annual shaking of the spices was taken over by the female. It's been the oldest boy's domain for 13 years and he didn't seem to even notice we passed the torch. I think perhaps he wasn't as in love with it as I was in love with the idea that it was tradition for him to do it.  After the spices are shaken and mixed they can go on the bird.

It was a little funny, the girl did a little silly dance just like he always used to do, before he was too cool for such things.

The night before Thanksgiving I fell into bed so tired I could barely think.

And then I could not stop thinking. I wasn't thinking about anything in particular. I wasn't thinking "oh I'm so sad because my parents are dead" or anything like that. I was just unable to let my mind slip into darkness, into peaceful sleep.

I ended up getting out of bed at 1 am and watching tv for an hour with the husband, and having a bowl of cereal. I took two benadryl to induce some chemical tired and finally my brain lost it's battle and I had to crawl into bed to finally sleep for real.

I baked the pies of my people, the sugar cream pie. It's never exactly like what we had in Indiana. Somehow those were more custardy or something. I don't care. I kind of love these. They're more like the tarte de sucre I get in Montreal but they're amazing and full of sugar and cream and there is nothing bad about that.  I gave one to our neighbors, the oldest boy's best friend.
The day was without incident. A wonderful meal was prepared and I was surround by the family we've made. I didn't feel a big sense of loss of anything else. Maybe that's because I haven't been "home" for a Thanksgiving since 2002. I'm not used to being with my parents on that day, so not seeing them didn't mean that much to me. Not being able to call them is less and less painful and yesterday was just another one of those days.

It might've been harder for my brother's family who would always make a pass through my parents as they were doing all the family visiting. My other brother has lived away from home a while too, so perhaps he felt a bit more like me.

It's not that something was missing on this day, because it was a wonderful day. Something's just missing from my life.
Not monkeybread though. Monkeybread I totally had.

At dinner, after we eat our feast, we always say what we're thankful for.

That was the moment for me. I wanted to say that I was thankful that my parents weren't suffering any more but I couldn't get those words out. I couldn't say them because it felt too much like saying I was thankful that my parents are dead. I am not by any stretch of the imagination thankful for that. But they were both suffering, I cannot being to elaborate on the degree to which their lives had devolved into hell.

I am thankful my parents aren't suffering. I am thankful for things I cannot name but that I can feel. I am thankful for the people who have shown me who they are whether that is good or bad, because I have learned where my love is best spent. I am thankful for my husband who has endured my tears and my craziness and my irrational rages. I am thankful for my two brothers because now we are the family and our families are the greater family.

I am thankful to be. That's all, just be.

Monday, November 23, 2015

This Is Better

I woke up this morning with various complaints. My eyes were crusted shut. My left arm was basically asleep from being held wonky under and around a five year old who was tucked beside me so I could listen to her breathe (she's sick). My throat felt like a desert of fire. I was exhausted from having also woken up repeatedly to listen to the sounds of terrible coughing from the next room, to evaluate and worry - how sick are they? Who was that? My sinuses ached and throbbed, and as I slipped out of bed I realized something surprising.

I felt better.

Gone is the shaking weakness, the incredible aching, the fever, the overall feeling of doom settled over me has faded.

Oh god I'm better thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not WELL. But I have moved into some different phase of sick and that means it's passing and I did it without antibiotics (always a win).

Now my children are heartily sick - the girl has been sick all along, probably patient zero, and I have energy to worry about them. I have a terrible feeling they're about to spend Thanksgiving break sick as dogs.

Poor kids.

Now I need to go face the scale and see what damage I did while sick. Pretty sure it was intense.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Look At Poor Barbie...

The girl was playing with her Barbies at the hearth yesterday, playing something with Hamm and her dollhouse and there seemed to be goings on having to do with sharing and having good manners and there was possibly a picnic happening.

I was sitting on the sofa, swirling in a cloud of sick and Contac watching Mickey Mouse clubhouse because the remote was so far away, when she came over to me with a concerned look and Barbie in her hand.

"Mommy, how can Barbie be happy?" she asked.

I was thinking of the tee shirt from the 90s "because the bitch has everything" as a valid response but refrained as she's only five. "What do you mean?" I asked.

"Look at poor Barbie, look at her tummy it can't ever be big. She can't ever have babies. How can she be happy without babies?" the look of concern continued.

Now I'm sick and on a slippery parenting slope. I want to say the right things here. As a post-feminist believer and a woman I want to convey that having babies isn't the only road to happiness, that having a family is a choice women can make willingly but that women can use birth control and never have babies and be very happy because it's their life and finding fulfillment isn't only met via reproducing.

I consider all of this and decide oh god that's a lot to lay down at a five year old so instead I say "Well, does Barbie WANT babies?"

She answers "Look all she has is a pig, who can be happy with that? Mommy her tummy will never be soft for cuddles, it's terrible."

I decide to gear up for a positive role model type of speech when she says "I know, Snow White can be her baby! PERFECT!" and runs off. She returns with Snow White and Aurora and says "TWINS!" and then proceeds to play.

Well I probably missed a moment but I guess in a way I'm flattered that she thinks that having a soft tummy and being a mommy equals happy. I guess it means I portray both of these things in a positive light.

I either missed a parenting moment there or made too much of a passing fancy, or somewhere in between. I'm sick it's not my fault.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

I Hate Being Sick Part Two

It was my hope that a solid night's sleep would change my world. A solid night's sleep was not mine for the having.
Around 3 am I realized my cough had transitioned from tight.dry and painful in the throat to deep, wet and rattling. My sinuses began to burn and ache, and the sinus draining and filling from one side to the other kept waking me up. By the way, apparently if your sinuses drain and fill based on the side you are laying on you have a deviated septum. I learned this when I got mine fixed about oh, 25 years ago. Apparently it's grown back deviated. They warned me it would happen so I'm excited about that.

At around 5 am I staggered down the stairs in search of medicine for me and Julia, who had crawled into my bed with her own wet, rattling horror show of a cough. Two contacs were consumed and I got her inhaler and had her  breathe in & sent her back to her own bed so I could be sick in peace.

Of course at 7 am Charlie decided I had to get up.

Contac nuit formula working full strength makes you feel like your sinuses are a desert and your head is the size of a giant boulder. It also makes you lethargic and slow. I'm four cups of coffee in and I'm still combating my lack of hand-eye coordination. However I managed to feed the smallest offspring and got the oldest boy to agree to bus the dishes so I could return upstairs.

I don't know if I want to go to sleep or what I want. My throat hurts, my body hurts, my ears ache, my sinuses hurt, my teeth hurt, everything is bad. My goal today is simply to remain in my pajamas and only sit at the computer, on the sofa, or lay in bed. Possibly to lay on the sofa. These are my lofty goals.

I can't actually imagine performing more activity than that.

I just had the butteriest toast in the world because I couldn't quite scrape off the butter properly and decided fuck it, and because I realized my body needed some sort of fuel or my blood sugar was gonna go wonky. So I consumed it, not even groaning at the carbs. Who cares? NO ONE.

Being sick derails every single thing I hoped to accomplish this weekend and I'm so frustrated. I'm trying hard to be at peace and focus on getting better, I'd like to get better without having to go to the doctor but it's not looking good. I'm thinking of things like chicken soup, and orange juice, and other things that are supposed to make you better. Zinc, that's one right?

That being said, it might be time for a lie down.

I wonder which of these work? Maybe I need to do them all. Assuming it's a cold....and spice tea? WHICH SPICE?

Friday, November 20, 2015

I Hate Being Sick

It all started with an intense need to clear my throat. I realize that now, this urge wasn't allergies, it was the hearkening of legitimate illness. I was in Montreal, working, enjoying the icy cold air (man it was cold) and really my other idea was that if it wasn't allergies it was simply the dry air playing hell with my windpipe. It wasn't a tickle or an ache, I just had to keep clearing my throat.

Late night into watching TV it turned into a feeling of sort of being congested, but still not sick.

Morning came and when it was early morning it still felt like "oh not so bad". I was still deeply convinced that dry air (did I mention it was cold, super cold) was drying out my sinuses and so I didn't think I could be actually sick. Then the chills started.

Being sick when you aren't at home is about the worst thing ever. Being sick when you can't go home RIGHT THEN is even worse. At least when you're sitting in your office and a fever spikes up you can usually go home. "Hello boss, sore throat, hella fever, shaking, might die, gotta leave," something like that.When you are in a whole different country though it's not that simple.

I made my way to a pharmacy and acquired a medicine I recognized (YAY CONTAC!) and purchased it. The lady checking me out told me I should go lay down. I apparently looked lovely.

There is nothing like anticipating a 2 and a half hour flight when your entire head feels like it's melting with snot. Then your medicine kicks in and you feel that otherworldly medicine head that so many profess not to cause (lies, all lies). Contac is apparently loaded with enough speed to cause you to feel other worldly as well as full of false energy. My brain knew it was false as my entire body was screaming REST REST NOW as my brain was saying NO LETS GO! I entertained my brain by engaging the passenger next to me who is a physicist collaborating on a paper with someone here at Georgia tech. They are doing something where they say that micro lasers pointed into a molecule in short bursts will illuminate electrons within the molecule.

I was actually stoned enough on cold medicine that I dared to ask what the practical application of this technology to me would be. He had an answer as to why it would matter, beyond just because we can do it, even. However I've lost the thread of what he said. It made sense at the moment. I felt like I had communed with Sheldon and been accepted into his world.

He probably thought I was crazy.

By the time I got home I was deep in the sick, deeper than I had been. I was vaguely aware of my husband covering me up with more blankets in the night as I chattered and shivered in my sleep. I'm now two solid days sick and I'm hoping I get to turn a corner. Such as my throat could stop hurting or maybe I could stop sounding like Kathleen Turner.

Before I left I stopped and picked these up for my kids.
If you don't know what these are, it's ok, they're illegal here. Or they're something. NOT ALLOWED. There probably isn't an actual LAW against them. They are chocolate eggs with toys inside of them. Yes they're a choking hazard. Don't let your kids eat them unsupervised, right? I am excited to have them, I've never seen them in the wild so I think the kids will really think they are fun.

Now, I'm home and sick, have on my jammies and I'm done for at least the next 24 hours. I am hoping that by Sunday I feel like a human again.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

My Tag Along

My mom always said that from the time I was able to pull myself up, I was attached to her right leg. I would stand with her while she did the dishes, or toddle along holding her apron (back when she still wore them) or her pants, making sure I was never out of reach of her. She told me that quit wearing shoes in the house after stepping on my tiny toes one too many times.

I've realized after two months of her being gone that I never stopped doing that. It became mental, my attachment, but I think somehow I always resented when they cut the cord. I had to be attached to her. I had to tell her every random thing. I needed her to be there at any moment when I reached out, to keep me from falling, to help me stand, to just be there, the giant solid presence before me.

That was still true when suddenly I was bigger than she. When disease shriveled and shrank her she still loomed huge before me, my touchstone, my longest relationship, the one formed when cells began to split becoming me along the way.

Death cut the cord finally and I think it's part of why I struggle.

Suddenly this morning, as I've considered this fact I am realizing I have a tiny human who is exactly the same. When I am home she has to be where I am. Today I asked her to go play and give me some space and she replied "How am I supposed to play without you?"

Oh god.

There I am. There I am in a tiny form. She follows me everywhere, into the bathroom still, into my bed, into the shower. She has to be with me. "I have to be with you," she says.

The truth is, I have to be with her. As much as I love the boys, there is something to this bond, something I didn't expect and wouldn't have believed. It's true. It's not that the love is different but the understanding is. The depth of the understanding, the sameness.

I'm going to leave her some day, and crush her world.

That's hard to swallow.

I guess it's just a measure of love.

No Time to Stop

I wonder how those Duggar people do it really. I suppose that they aren't actually all that involved in all of their kids activities, there's almost no way they could be. I feel like with four we never stop. I guess when you harness older kids into slave labor of caring for their siblings then that gets you off the hook for the frontline parenting.

Clearly I'm doing this wrong.

We went back to our elementary school and got to enjoy another sub-par Thanksgiving dinner. Julia however thought that it was the best thing EVER that we were there and I suppose it really was. I couldn't help but remember the first time she was there as an infant and how her brother pushed her up and down the aisles in the cafeteria, showing off HIS baby. Now it is her turn to be the one who goes through the line and gets food, she shows us how to do it and introduces US to everyone she sees.

We have apparently completely quit dressing up like Pilgrims and American Indians for Thanksgiving at school. While I can see perhaps it's appropriate to not dress up like American Indians for fear of being perceived as not PC, (or actually not being culturally sensitive etc) WHY CAN'T WE HAVE PILGRIMS. Really you invited me to Thanksgiving dinner and didn't even so much as have pilgrims? Rip off. Also there was NO TURKEY! The ham was delicious but seriously - no pilgrims and no turkey?

Dude, that was just school lunch with table cloths.

But it meant the world to her, so it was worth it, even if that WAS the worst cranberry jelly ever.

Also on the need to do list was purchase shoes, so off to the mall. And then since at the mall HEY CAROUSEL.  Mom always said that the entire story of my children's lives could be told by the carousels that they have ridden.
To me that sounds perfect actually.

To end up our week soccer wound up with it's last game and we all went out to watch the girl kick the ball and do a great job.

Despite the fact that they don't officially keep score, she and her little team creamed their opponents every game this season. The fact that they all seem to be about a year older probably helped. A lot.

That's not even everything we did in the past few days. No wonder I fall asleep like the dead every night.

God Bless Caffeine.

Now It's 8:20 on a Sunday morning and I've got a ton of things to accomplish and 1200 miles in front of me. My therapist was right, I never slow down. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. It's just a thing.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Moving On

That's a sign at my therapists office. I sat next to it and laughed a little while I waited. I'm not always the biggest on motivational stuff but I know that one happens to be a thought that rings true. That's the midwesterner in me, the mentality that you just need to suck it up and deal with what happens. I'm hardwired that way, there's just no way around it.
While I waited I stared at the ceiling and the waiting room which was actually the foyer of a really lovely craftsman style house. I'd like to live there. The patient before me was having a meltdown in the office. There was a LOT of yelling and crying, there was a lot of emotion. I hoped that wasn't requisite. I don't do big emotional displays well, again, that's a midwestern thing.
They went long, the earlier patient and the doc. I sat and watched the clock until I realized that it was stopped. Beside me was a blue book with no words on the cover. At first I thought it was the bible until I realized the words were EMBOSSED - Alcoholics Anonymous. I didn't know there was a book, so I flipped it open and read some of it. It was kind of interesting, it's not something I know anything about despite having lived with an Alcoholic my entire life.
We will call this my "I am nervous about going to therapy" face.

I went in shortly  after I took this picture.

It was amazing.

I learned some powerful things. I learned that communicating with people who love me and care about me is frustrating as shit because all of these people seem to get motivated to FIX me or the situation. There is no fix. I think it's a natural response, you don't like to see someone you love so completely sideways.  You want to make it better. You want to help someone you care about out of the hell they are in. Communicating with my therapist who just simply agreed with me how terrible it is was so incredibly refreshing. It was like catharsis. I wanted to scream YES YOU GET IT OMG YOU GET IT.

I learned that it hasn't been long enough to feel better. She asked me what was something that keeps hanging me up, or causing me heartache. I responded "Well for a long time I kept reaching for the phone to call my mom at night..."and she held up her hand and said, "A long time? It hasn't BEEN a long time..." and that hit me like a thunderbolt. God it hasn't. A million things have happened. I've traveled TWICE. But all of this JUST happened.

I also learned that I'm ok. I'm not in depression, I'm just grieving and this is all so very normal. She was really surprised by my lack of time off, my lack of stopping for a while and we both agreed that it's probably increasing my stress a little around this.

I'm going to feel less bad about being selfish with my time. I'm going to not be hard on myself when I don't quite feel like pushing myself physically, or I eat stuff I shouldn't. I need a break from everything. When I can't get that, I need a break from feeling bad when I fail.

I left there feeling empowered and strong. It was the most incredible thing I've felt in a long time. I've felt loved and cared about, I've felt empathized with and sympathized with. But I felt like I was lost and alone in the midst of all that. Suddenly I don't just from talking to her for an hour.

I have another appointment after the holidays, the first week of January. We said it was just to check in after the holidays and see how it went and we can decide our course of action then. I really feel like maybe I might keep going, if for no other reason than just to dedicate an hour a month selfishly to me.

It was amazing. I was feeling weird and nervous about it but I was wrong. It was absolutely amazing.

I really can't wait to go back.

Friday, November 13, 2015

November 13

My name has 13 letters in it when first and middle are added together. 13 is a magic number in my family, or that's what my parents always told me. My parents met on February 13th. They, along with another couple, all met that day and ended up getting married. Three of the four of them had birthdays that landed on a 13. My dad was the odd man out.

Today is one of those 13s. It's Mom's 71st birthday. She isn't here to celebrate it. She used to talk about "When I get old....". I can't help but feel she never got old. It's a very weird feeling, I know it's one  many of my friends have endured, the parental birthday with no parent.

On her birthday there have been great and terrible things happen over the years. Once I went for an ultrasound during a very hard pregnancy, I had hoped that after that milestone I could call my mom and give her a birthday surprise of a new grandbaby on the way. Instead I called to tell her I had lost a baby, and she grieved with me. I had a mammogram that turned out ALL CLEAR on her birthday. And six years ago today, I had an ultrasound with the perinatologist who said "Well, that really looks like a girl."

On Mom's 30th birthday she had the first of many gall bladder attacks. I remember this because I was tasked with fetching her water as she vomited nonstop. I remember her sitting on the floor of our bathroom, white as a sheet in massive pain, laughing though and saying well she'd hit 30 it was official she was falling apart. Shortly after that the ambulance arrived and took her to the hospital.

Today I'm going to go to grief counseling to talk about what it's like to be an adult orphan. I can admit confidently that I'm better, but I would like to be better than this. I'm going on Mom's birthday because it's a good landmark for me. It will be a point to look back on and see how I am.

Happy Birthday to the woman who made me who I am, both biologically and personally. She gave me the greatest gift you can give another human besides life. She taught me to think. She always said it was the most important thing anyone could ever learn, simply to THINK.

Happy Birthday Mom.

Nobody said it was easy. Nobody said it would be this hard.

That's a pic of two of my favorite humans ever to walk the planet, my grandfather and my mom.

I miss them both today.

Monday, November 09, 2015

The Things That Stop

In the face of mind numbing grief, I'm realizing that a lot of things don't have the power to bother me anymore. Someone was rude to me on the internet? Hmm, ok whatever.  I'm finding myself just noting things, injustices, things that I might have become incensed about and just saying "yeah ok that happened" and moving on.

I don't know if it's good or bad but I know it's the person I'm becoming.

Today this thing happened where I was interacting and someone who has openly made fun of me in the past starts talking to me. Now, I know that this person doesn't realize I KNOW it. They did it over in their own friends list, but thanks to the power of the digital age someone copied and pasted it to me. I don't know the person at all. I don't know who they really are or what they love or what keeps them up at night. I don't know anything about them at all. What I know is that once I shared something personal and they decided I was too stupid to live, and made fun of me like a mean girl in high school.

At the time, man maybe two years ago now, I was LIVID. Who is this bitch, I wondered. WHAT THE FUCK? Other expletives ensued. I didn't know this person from anyone and they're being a dickbag about something personal? What the hell?

Of course that's just the internet in various forms, isn't it? It's the crazies in the comments.

So today when it happened, I observed it. This is happening a lot more. Where I once would experience something and feel something strongly about it, I find myself in a place of feeling that I am "observing it". I'm not mad. I'm noting it occurred. Part of my brain thinks "thanks bitch" but it's so fleeting, it's almost like a reflex rather than a real response.

I think that's the thing. A lot of my reactions now are reflexes and then just...observation. I say something, usually more benign than "thanks bitch", and then I just observe and watch whatever it was. I am struggling to feel anything about stuff.

Part of it is just ennui with internet behavior in general, I can't be terribly moved by internet people for the most part. But it's bigger than that.

I'm out of patience, and I'm out of energy for caring about every damn thing that happens. I'm out of energy for people who aren't real.

The weird part is, it's not like I'm in some ZEN place where I'm at peace with the evil doers. It's more like, they're just behind a wall and inaccessible to me. My brain won't let me deal with them. Maybe that's ok.