A Mommy Blog About Raising Men, Not Boys.
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Saturday, October 31, 2015

This Is Halloween This Is Halloween

Today we are ridiculously over scheduled. The week has not gone as planned and now everything has collided into all of the things we MUST DO TODAY including HALLOWEEN.

I love Halloween. I have absolutely Halloween failed this year. We didn't do any special treats or do anything fun at all, we only watched The Nightmare Before Christmas BECAUSE it happened to be on.

It's all my fault because I'm just not functioning at top speed, and I'm kind of sad that another Halloween is passing and I did literally nothing to make it special this time. My oldest child is going out Trick or Treating WITH HIS FRIEND without us.

He's going without us.

You don't understand, we don't do holidays apart. He's going to some block party and trick or treating and we won't be there and...it's HALLOWEEN.

When I was 13 I would've taken my brother trick or treating by myself up and down Walnut Street and ALL of the side streets and my mom would be horrified at the amount of candy her 3 year old would come home with. I was an AWESOME sister. I can't very well say no kid, don't go have 13 year old awesome fun. Don't stretch your wings and spend time out of the nest baby bird. Just stay here and do the usual.

But I want to.

My mom would tell me frequently, with a bit of bitterness, that her parents didn't want her to go to college. Her parents didn't want her to have a job. Her parents didn't want her to leave the HOUSE really. She said "They'd have been thrilled if I got a job at the dime store and lived in my bedroom my entire life." It always made her sad that her parents didn't have any urge to kick her out of the nest, to send her out to fly and be free.

Well, I heard that lesson enough that despite the fact that I'm a little teary eyed about it, my kid is going to his Halloween party with his friend.

This morning I'm going to soccer, then it's pumpkin carving, then to run errands possibly (the boy has new glasses to pick up and a cell phone to switch out), then he has to go to his party and we have to take the little ones trick or treating. Then it will be Halloween over and I will have failed to make it special and we will have marked the end of the age when he goes out with us.

Nothing ever stops moving.

Can it just STOP for a minute?

And with that, I have to wake up the girl. It's time to get up for soccer. Farking 9 am game.

Friday, October 30, 2015

The Bail Bondsman's Children

I flew to Chicago for work on the 19th with plans a spending five days there with my team from work.

On the 20th my brother called me and said "It's about that time. The hospice nurse said..." and recounted the signs of death that were upon our dad. No pulse in his extremities, no body fluids exiting as normal, labored breathing, non-responsiveness etc.

My brother had to be there, face to face, to see it. I feel two things about that, On one hand I'm so sorry he had to witness that. On the other hand I'm relieved that he, the new head of the family, was there to shepherd the process. I knew things would go as they should with him there.

The next morning he called me to say dad had made his exit. It was time for me to go home, one more time.

And since then I've been ...I don't know what.

I've come to think that there is a grief threshold. As in, you can only feel SO MUCH grief and then you can't feel any more. It is a well that is not bottomless, there is a bottom and when you are full you can't experience more sadness. It's not that it's less, it's just that it's not more. I find it a little disturbing in a way because I expected to be MORE sad, or additionally sad.

I'm not. People ask me how I am and I say fine. They ask how my family is and I say fine. That's true. I'm not ok. But I'm FINE. I'm numb. I'm functioning. I laugh and have fun with people but part of me isn't there. I suppose it will pass. Maybe. Probably.

Orphaned at 47, my brother at 36, my other brother at 26, we're now at a different place and it's nice to have someone standing here with me. But by the same token it's the most alone feeling.

Grief is weird. Grief is hard. You're just supposed to get over it and I think that's unfair.

In your grief, as you mourn your parents, you learn what you've mutually taken away from them. We could say Mom taught us to THINK on our own, to be strong, to read, 100000 awesome things that made us who we are.

And we decided that among the things dad taught us, is very definitely who NOT to write bail for. Roofers, painters, landscapers, lot lizards - these people are NOT good bets for going to court. Don't write their bail. Strippers? Heck yes. They'll go to court. They gotta keep earnin! We realized that "You wouldn't write their bail" is a judgment we use - and cracked up when it occurred to us.

We're the bail bondsman's children, now orphans. Seriously, don't write bail for roofers. Just don't do it.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

And Just Like That, It's Pumpkin Time

The temperatures dropped right on time, declaring that once again it's time for our annual pilgrimage to Burt's Farm to gather the bounty of the earth etc. It's everyone's favorite thing to do once the leaves change, and DESPITE what Matt Bellassai says FALL IS AWESOME. He's funny he's just wrong about fall. That's all.

There was a slight tragedy yesterday, and we can say it's my fault and let it go at that but I have blue hair. No need to talk about it. Let's pretend it's intentional and I'm having some sort of midlife crisis and think I'm a rocker. We don't need to acknowledge that I don't know how to use chemicals correctly. Nope.
Everyone chose a pumpkin as always, and we'll either carve (I will carve) or they will paint them up to their heart's delight in about a week. I picked a moonshine pumpkin that glows sort of green or yellow. Not sure I want to know HOW they got that effect but it's neat. Julia picked hers first and could barely lift it. She's in that "I CAN DO IT" phase of being a big girl. It's kind of adorable.
I almost always pick out a blue pumpkin but skipped it this year because those things are a BITCH to carve, they are super dense and just ugh, a pain. So we got one for decoration anyway - we chose this deformed one. It's ok, you can live with us on the islands of misfits. I shouldn't say deformed. I should say "DIFFERENTLY FORMED" amirite?
There is something about this place that is peaceful, despite the throngs of people, the children running, laughing, crying, sitting on pumpkins (which is NOT allowed), etc. There is something about it that's just perfect in a way I can't describe. The air is fresh, cool and crisp and the smell of baking pumpkin pie fills the air - I don't like pumpkin pie much but the warm smell of it is intoxicating.
We paused in our pumpkin revelry and obtained hot apple cider and pumpkin spice rolls, I don't even like them much and I had a bite.

This is a place where I always wish my entire family was there, having this experience with us. My brother and his family, my parents, everyone. That is unlikely to ever happen but it's idyllic to me, in that way. Or maybe it's just me wanting everyone with me always, I'm not sure.
There has to be something perfect about a place that makes a five year old run while shrieking "DADDY JUST FOUND THE BEST THING EVER!" as our differently formed pumpkin joins the group.
We picked a smaller family pumpkin this year because I'm weary of carving GIGANTOR THE PUMPKIN every year. Plus it's hard on the husband to pick up 80 pound pumpkins and lug them onto the porch. I have no idea what that goofy face is she's making.
We carve out "family time" every day and usually watch TV snuggled up together. But it's our days at places like Burt's Farm that are the best family time when they happen. It's one of the best things we ever discovered.

We were talking yesterday about how our first year here, we tried SO hard not to be sad about being here. We didn't want to live here really, we missed Tampa. So we tried to do ALL THE THINGS locally, embrace this place and everything there was to do and enjoy. We tried to make it our home.
So from there to here, it's fair to say we did make this place our home. I love living here, I can't imagine living anywhere else at least not for a long while.

Our first trip to Burt's looked like this...
It's been a lot of years and not all of them were awesome, including this one, but in some way I guess they really were. We're all together, we went to Burt's and there were pumpkins and treats and a hayride and joy. It doesn't get much better than that, I certainly can't ask for any more.

It's easy to forget how lucky you are when things are going to shit. But I am so very lucky, and Burt's helped me remember that yesterday.

Friday, October 16, 2015

No Really I'm Fine

Yesterday was one of those days. I had this really good day. I came home in a pretty good, upbeat mood and had my plans for the evening in my mind. I was going to spend a little time talking to some friends, I didn't have long but I was looking forward to it. I had worked out, I was in a pretty good place.

Then one child who is sick made another child who is autistic start screaming. I was seconds away from a nice normal chat with nice normal people and then...

From that moment on I didn't have one moment that wasn't filled with rage or sorrow or manic laughter I think. I didn't get to talk to my friends. I exploded at the sick child because WHY WHY WHY would you do that why would you make him scream?

I sat and cried and cried by myself on the sofa, inconsolable. I could've waited till the screaming stopped and then talked, but I can't explain the feeling of just being defeated by life. I didn't want to call people and start sobbing on the phone. Who the hell wants to talk to someone sobbing?

That's it in a nutshell. Last night I was defeated by life.

Maybe it was stress and emotions I've been tabling built up. Maybe it was just one of these so called waves of grief that people like to make little inspirational pictures about. Maybe it was just me coming unhinged. Every single thing that happened (nearly) made me cry, or want to rage.

I just know I failed at dealing with myself and I hate that.

I'm not fine. But I don't know what I am or what I need.

I just know that whatever it is, probably doesn't exist.

Picture of Pee Wee, because why not?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

This Time Thing

So it's been a lot of days since I made time to sit down here and put my thoughts together. I think part of that was because I began to felt like over thinking was driving my depression. But the other part was I decided maybe I just needed to BE for awhile and not worry about some things. I got through a birthday and a lot of other days and I seem to have fallen into normalcy.
It's not that I'm all better and I've moved on and time has healed etc yadda yadda. It's just that every motion, every thought no longer resonates the words MOM IS DEAD into my brain. I've slowly moved into a place where I can function again and resemble a person not grieving, at least to the outside world.
I've realized over the past few days how much I did every day was for mom. Snapping pics of the kids and putting them on FACEBOOK or emailing them over to her. Sometimes maybe even what I wrote. My mom being apart from my kids is my greatest regret, because they won't ever know a fraction of how amazing she was. Their version of her is diminished because distance. I know I did my best, with phone calls every day and visits when we could get her here or we could go home, but that's my biggest regret. 

I had the luxury of being able to go to MY grandparents every day. I wish my kids had that. They aren't scarred or damaged because they didn't, but they missed something and now it's over.

Julia had soccer on Sunday and after her game we all went up to the lake for a hike. Everyone needed to stretch their legs and get some fresh air. I found myself again taking pictures for mom, only to realize she won't ever see them. I've got to stop doing that.
I've read a lot about grief over the past month. Basically what I've read has shown me that I'm not unusual, that what I'm struggling with is completely normal. Society puts too harsh of an expectation on us all to just get over it and move on. I feel some better realizing I'm not completely out of whack with how I feel.

I feel better, and I'm not going to push myself to pretend to be ok. I'm not ever going to be OK on this subject, but at least I'm not completely crippled emotionally. I'm tired of talking about it with my friends, and with my family. I'm tired of explaining sudden sobbing, or why the Polar Express broke my heart the other night, or why driving down the road and thinking of anything brings me to tears. It's a short answer, "Because Mom died."

It's a longer answer. "Because my best friend, the one person in the world who knew me inside and out, the one person I could always count on, the deepest love I ever knew, the first person I ever wanted to tell everything my entire life, the person I trusted infinitely, the best friend I will ever have, my PERSON....died."

I can't explain to anyone who died, not accurately. Saying "Because Mom died" is the shortest wrongest answer despite how right & concise it is. It does not even remotely cover my loss.

So I'll do life things with my four children and find my mom in each of them, and remember how she always told me that your children are your immortality.
That makes my children HER immortality. That's a pretty good thing, in my opinion.

We made our hike another opportunity to do my kids favorite activity - hunting mushrooms. Our finds this time were pretty good.
Time doesn't heal all, but distance seems to be building a barrier. I'll take it.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

For the First Time In Forever...


So tomorrow at 7:36 am I turn 47. That photo is from the day I was born. I was born 9 pounds and 1 ounce with a head full of red hair that fell out the first week. 

I realized today while doing something close to nothing (but different than they paid me for) that this is the first birthday in my life without my mom. Without my mom I wouldn't have a birthday. Now, I have a birthday without my mom. That's a terrible concept. But it's a reality, one of many firsts that are rolling past me and my family between now and NEXT Sept 1st. We'll have the first of everything without mom.

They'll all be worse.

Ok they probably won't. But sitting her considering it, I can't imagine that they wouldn't be better if she WERE here. I can't manage to factor in how ready she was to die, how ok with it all she was. She would be suffering if she were here, she wouldn't be herself. And I definitely loved my mom more than to want that for her.

I managed to go nearly a week without breaking down crying out of the blue but now I've failed because I've realized I won't call Mom in the morning to hear her tell me Happy Birthday. I won't call Dad either, because he can't hold the phone.

I'll do me things, and I'll do family things, and I'll do things with work friends and that will be fine.
It'll probably even be great. 

But it won't be the same ever again, and I kind of hate that this is how it works.


My mom made the doll I am holding in this silhouette she had made of me when I was little. I wish I still had it. It was wonderful. 

Happy Birthday to me tomorrow. I made 47. I wouldn't mind another 47.


Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Resting My Brain

The culminating stress of two eleven year olds who never, never, never stop crapping their pants, a dead mother, a dying father (ok who is "in decline"), the chaos of being a mom, hospice, mom of four, DNRs, LIFE finally made me raise my hand for today and say "I can't do this any more."

So I took a day off.

If you know me, you know that I don't really like taking days off of work if we don't have "plans" with the family. I certainly don't want to take days off when it's busy, when I have tons of projects in mid air and I feel like I am needed to steer - or at least advise in some way.

However, I just needed everything to stop for just one single day.

So after I put the kids on the bus I walked back into the house and didn't go to work. I poured a cup of coffee and pondered the fact that I had just been to the bus stop in the shirt I had slept in, and some very baggy unattractive capris. #NO1CURR as they say on the internets. My shirt had stains but at least I put on a bra AMIRITE?

I'm rife with the internet lingo today.

Yeah, I said rife.

I had a date with my husband, our first in years. We went to lunch to the Genghis Grill and I can't say enough how awesome the food was. I have lunch from leftovers for tomorrow and I kind of can't wait to eat it. We went to see a movie (wow the Martian was crazy good) and spent time talking and doing stuff without our four additional companions.

First time in years.

And now I'm tired. They're all home, and I'm mentally just kind of wiped out and think I'm going to do not much except what is required. I don't know if my batteries are recharged but they are off of zero that's for sure.

No matter what is going on with me, I know for a fact that I'm doing WAY better than this frog.
Perspective is everything.


Monday, October 05, 2015

DNR&R


There is a lot to be said for the distraction of the arts. I am beginning to appreciate why tortured souls gravitate toward the creative. It's an outlet, a distraction, it's something besides the terrible shit you are feeling inside yourself. 

This, for instance, is Coke poured on paper, as captured by Andy Warhol.

Andy was weird.

We took Yoda with us, on loan from my friend Allison, and had many fine adventures at the High with him. For a while, I forgot the adult things weighing on me, the loss of my mom, the pending loss of my dad, the grief that is swirling around. 
There has been a lot of types of Coke bottles. WHO KNEW? 

We went into a little hidden alcove and found lots of fancy porcelain objects, of various ilk.  According to the placard this next one is a sweetmeats dish. What the hell is a sweet meat.
According to Google it's candy or confections. Ok fine. CANDY DISH. Got it.
The truth is, as much as I want to lay in bed and stop existing for a while every night that's not a luxury I have. Yoda would tell me there is no TRY as we all know, so while I like to lay in bed and cry and say I'm trying to get over it all really I just have to keep getting up and living.

Do, or do not. There is no try.
My brother did the hard thing but the right thing of doing the paperwork for dad's DNR and some hospice paperwork and we chatted about it like it was normal. It IS normal, it is NOT normal. We're imminently adult orphans. Not yet, but probably soon.

So I watched my food all day, and I didn't have the fucking apple pie in the machine, and I worked out when I got home, and I'm thinking of trying planking because Christa says she thinks I can do it and it's good for my core where I have zero strength. 

And as for me, I am thinking about my brother facing the grim reality that is my dying father face to face. I am thinking about my mom is who is gone and lost to me forever. I am thinking of the family vacations we took before Matt was born, when my dad was still spending time with us. I am thinking of the lost days and years that my dad's mental illness kept me away from the people I love. 

Mostly though, I am thinking about how everything ends, and I feel so sorry that some day my children will have to go through this - no matter how natural this is. I regret so much that I'm going to die and make them this sad.

Do no resuscitate. Let him go. 

Mom was right, he went to hell. He's there now, desperately trying to follow her.



The Yoda Weekend

I spent a weekend full of distraction, forcing myself to do things that I didn't want to do. That's progress. We had Yoda come for a visit and took him on many adventures. Soccer was rained out, but we were able to go to the High for some exhibits and he was our very happy guest.

Yoda likes art, who knew?

And as for me I decided to kick off the excuses of grieving and tired and get back to my dieting and working out as of yesterday. I didn't enjoy it. I spent a lot of my day reading about things to eat, things to not eat. These are things I already knew but it felt good to put my mind back in the game.

Ok, dieting is boring. Let's be real. I'd like to say that I eat six lemons a day and that's all I eat and the weight drops off like magic. That's not it. It's all about making different choices, and sometimes understanding that the foods you love best are the worst possible choices.

It's hell to be a fat girl from the midwest. Bring on the gravy oh wait no.

So I've got my day mostly planned food wise, and my work out planned, and my snacking planned because that's the kind of glamorous stuff losing weight is about. I'm pretty fancy, I know.

I spent a lot of yesterday just being selfish and reading or playing a dumb video game but I did take a break and spend some time with the girl child who deserves more of my time than she gets.
The plus side was that I didn't cry all weekend.

People, that's progress.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Lessons In Your Past

My Sister in Law found this picture of me going through some of Mom's things. I saw this picture every day for years and years, it was framed at my Grandma's house. This was the picture Mom had taken of me for my third birthday, and I think she sent it to people in cards around this time or something. I am pretty sure she did.

My Mom had this beautiful writing desk that now lives at my brothers, and she kept her stationary in it, along with sealing wax in deep green and a deep purple. Her seal was a scorpion - a nod to her zodiac sign. When I was little, she would get the mail, fold down the front of this desk, and sit to read through the mail, noting any cards or personal correspondence. I remember watching her take a match to the sealing wax and dropping it on the back of envelopes, and gently crushing it with her seal.

I thought it was magical and elegant.

I looked at this photo and I was surprised at something I either didn't know, or had forgotten. It's odd because I have this picture hundreds of times. But despite that, I missed this one fact.

My teeth are rotten. Look close - you can tell.

How does a child of three get rotten teeth? It happens when you are the first child and your parents are the lucky recipients of a baby who won't be comforted, who screams all the time. A baby who won't sleep except tightly in her mother's arms, this baby eventually found that if she just had a bottle - she would sleep. She would fall asleep drinking her bottle, and her parents would lay her down with the bottle still in her mouth. It was the only rest they got. It was the only reprieve they got from a very demanding baby.

The milk pooled in her mouth while she slept, and rotted the baby teeth under her gums.

And then there I was by the age of two, with a mouth full of rotten baby teeth. By about age three we had to start visiting the dentist because they started to crumble apart - and the extractions began. Sometimes they would pull out pieces. Sometimes they would shatter into tons of pieces as they pulled them out. Weirdly seeing this picture reminded me - I had dental work done regularly for about three years. I have always known it happened, it's not like a LOST memory. It's simply something that had slipped into the cracks.

I think that even though I KNEW I had rotten teeth I never considered myself a PERSON with rotten teeth but man there they are. Thank goodness they were just the baby teeth.

So it's weird, two memories conjured from one photo. One is of my mom sending those photos out to people, to my dad's family, to my Aunt Suzie, to her girlfriends. The other is my rotten teeth, now just a memory but staring back at me from my cheery round cheeked face. That's a happy kid. She's well loved, and lives in a new house that has a huge backyard with a fence. In about a month, on the day of the first snow, her dad is going to build a swingset in the backyard for her. The first things she will do is swing so high it tips over.

The next day her dad will set the posts in concrete.

It's strange all the things one snapshot will show you. It's also wonderful.


No Surprise No Mystery


We had planned our annual trek to the fair and decided to go back to the fair that is closest to us because traditionally they've always had the superior selection of FAIR FOOD. My friend Christa had told me tales of a bacon wrapped corn dog but that wasn't to be found here. What WAS to be found....was PULLED PORK AND STEAK SUNDAES. That's right.
French fries, sour cream, bbq sauce, cheese and meat - not the most traditional sundae but honestly super yummy.

Corn is always required. It's not exotic. But roasted fair corn is always awesome. 
The down side was that it had rained like mad the entire previous day and was sprinkling and misting THIS day so under our feet are inches of mud and water, and red Georgia clay is everywhere in muddy sloggy messiness.
Despite that, the fair must go on. So we ate our muddy lunch and made our way to the midway for some rides! 
It was just too wet to do too much. But we did a few things and it was awesome. Julia got a pink Scooby Doo (why...) and the lady running that game realized Charlie and Miles were autistic and gave them a prize just for playing.

Yes - a giant red ball. We pushed it around in our stroller all day like this. 

We got wetter and wetter as they day went on. Shoes got more covered in clay and soggier. It was pretty gross.
We wandered in to the mildly soggy 4H tent to pretend to milk cows and pet the baby animals. Everyone's favorite part of this tent, besides the animals, is that they give us milk from the Mayfied Dairy at the end. This day was no different - ice cold chocolate milk is yummy any day.
The harvest was good it seems, we wandered the tables reviewing the entries and the winners. I have to say that my favorite items this year weren't in the food section. First up - baby Cthulu made an appearance.
Come ON - third place for the devourer of worlds? That's just lame.

Then, we have this very intimate moment with SUPERMAN and BATMAN...

Look closely - you'll see what I mean. We all stopped at this and went, hey, what's happening here?

As always the people who want to tell you about DOOOOOM were at the fair. 
I think based on their own DOGMA there better be nothing under those doors. I always want to talk to these people but I'm afraid I'll get annoyed and set them on fire.

End of night we tried Oreo Churros, potato twist things (the earlier treat in a different shape nearly), cheesecake on a stick and the girl just wanted some ice cream. 

It was a soggy, muddy, mostly miserable day but somehow we had a really fun day. It was a good day full of distraction for us all but I think mostly for me. I need more days like that.

Now I need to stop eating everything in site or I'm going to get big like Jabba again.