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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Together

There should be some kind of boot camp for new parents that requires them to put together toys on Christmas day while simultaneously entertaining their child(ren) who are on a Santa-induced high and have the attention span of a meth-addicted gnat.  It also should be required for Marines to have to do this as a part of their basic training.  It totally would help them to withstand torture.

First, there is the whole having to get the fucking parts out of the box.  Truly, whoever invented those stupid twist ties to hold the toy in place to look pretty and lure your child into desiring it...this person, who ever you are, you are an asshole.  Then there is the plastic encasing the toys, that when you try to cut it magically becomes razor sharp and rivals a surgeon's scalpel.  Doctor's Without Borders should investigate this as a potential source of medical equipment for them.

Once you manage to get the stupid piece of plastic out of the box, you have to read the directions.  Which really, I understand why men stereotypically skip these because I often end up more confused after reading shit like, "Take the left weight-bearing panel and insert it into the f slots of the upper upper shelf.  Insert the turnscrew and turn until it clicks into place."  And of course, the arrows that are meant to help are usually totally NOT pointing at the fucking f slots and the pictures they have of the weight bearing panels do NOT match reality.  And it NEVER clicks like it is supposed to, leaving you haunted that somehow you will be contributing to a future maiming of your child because of a poorly put together Christmas present.  Meanwhile, you have lost the fucking screwdriver that they told you you needed but you have not quite figured out for what and the kids are literally climbing up the walls.  You frantically start to search for some Xanax and/or massive quantities of alcohol.

So let's say that you actually get the fucking thing put together and it is semi-sturdy and appears somewhat functional.  Out of the bottom of the box floats a whole new form of parental torture...stickers.  Stupid, brightly colored, products of some demented bastard's imagination.  The adhesive on those things is stronger than most welds.  Seriously; you put the sticker anywhere within 1 inch of the toy and some magical force propels it to stick to it.  Unless, of course, it is where it needs to go.  And if you get the stickers in the wrong place, all sorts of wailing and gnashing of teeth will commence.

Then your kid will play with this toy for the next week, if they have not already abandoned it for the packaging it came in and/or some junk mail that is laying on the counter.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Void

I imagine that there are not many people out there tonight who are not horrified today.  Who's hearts are not heavy, minds are not troubled.  People who have shed tears, held their loved ones a little longer and a little closer than usual.  Who all of a sudden realized that bitching about the price of gasoline is crass when the price of another's violent action was so dear.

Today's events are truly evil.  People will fling out there gun control, mental health, parenting, warning signs.  The public will be horrified for a while, and then slowly, but surely, we will go back to our daily lives.  The victims' families will have to live their lives; the town will have to heal.

But nothing will change.

To quote one of my favorite bloggers, "This shit doesn't happen in a void".

We live in a culture that glorifies violence.  Especially violence against women, children, the poor, the disadvantaged.  We also live in a culture that commodifies people.  People are viewed as objects to bend to the will of certain authorities.  Consent is optional.  We also live in a culture that values rugged individualism.  Reaching out for help is a weakness.

What does all of the above have to do with today's events? 

First of all, violence is normalized.  Look at our movies.  Look at the video games we see.  Look at all of the bullying that goes on. Humans have a great capacity to be inordinately cruel to people.  I am not just talking physical violence here; people are frequently mentally and emotionally violent as well.  Bullying is accepted, despite the efforts of many to raise awareness.  Maintaining privilege for a few is valued over bringing everyone to equal ground.  What does this have to do with violence?  Violence changes people.  Exposure to violent acts desensitizes people to it.  I can't tell you how many times people come into my office and tell me there was no domestic violence in their home and then in the next breath admit their father "only" slapped their mother, there was "only" shoving, there was "only" things thrown at each other during arguments.  What is acceptable to some is a direct product of their environment.  Most of the time, someone was trying to exert  power and control.  This leads to the second point- people as commodities.

People are frequently viewed as beings who need to submit to authority, to other people who are hostile to the idea of consent and autonomy over their own body and destiny.  Most frequently, this is tied to the idea of abortion, but it goes much deeper than that.  Anyone who is not one of the privileged ones does not deserve to have authority over their lives.  People are disposable, to be used as weapons; something to take anger, fear, frustration, out on.  They need to be just like everyone else.  There is no room for differences. No room for the mentally ill, for those of different cultures, for those who won't submit.

The third point, that people are supposed to be "rugged individualists", ties into the idea that today's events HAD to have had some warning signs.  If I had to guess, I would say that there was some kind of decompensation.  Some kind of "joking" about violence, that was probably accepted because of my first point about living in a culture of violence.  That may have been questioned by one of the "unprivileged", but dismissed because they have no authority.  Or that may have been outright ignored because of fear, because of not wanting to believe it, because people don't want to get involved or make someone get angry.  The idea that you have to take care of your own problems; that society has no responsibility to you.

In order for meaningful change to occur, we have to attack the very fabric that supports these acts.  No one likes to think that we support this kind of thing, but society does in fact do so.  Stigma about mental illness.  Poor access to services.  Easy access to guns.  And a society that gives our children games that make it fun to kill, that makes it OK to exert power and control in unhealthy ways, that makes it normal to marginalize people, and then wonders why we have a 20 year old who commits such atrocities.

No, not everyone who is mentally ill will commit such acts.  No, not everyone who watches or plays violent games will commit such acts.  No, I don't blame the people who could have seen signs and possibly stopped this and did not.  Who do I blame?

Us.  I blame us.  We keep wondering why things don't change; yet we expect that it will be the "others" with the "problems" who change.  When will we see that WE are the problem.  No othering here.  US.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

Elf

So there is this new trend out now...Elf on a Shelf.  I am hoping and praying that none of the kids in Alexis's class pick up on this phenomenon, and that it fades away by the time Charlie starts school.  Why you ask?

Well the short answer is that I am lazy as hell.  I see all of these people posting pics of the cute things that their naughty elf does, and in the words of Sweet Brown, "Ain't no body got time for that."  I mean, I guess I could succumb to societal pressures to be the perfect parent, but honestly having to figure out things for that elf to do would cut into my youtube video watching time.  Plus, I would have to remember to move the damn thing every night and I am lucky I remember to put my shoes on in the morning.  My hats off to the parents who do this for their children and have fun with it.  I will make it up to my kids in other ways, I suppose.  Like their knowledge on how to use a wine cork or how to beat that one level on Angry Birds...

Truly, though, the whole concept is a bit creepy.  This naughty elf who stalks you and leaves little "presents" behind for you like some kind of demented spirit hell bent on fucking with your mind...I am truly starting to question the sanity of America.  First Katy Perry sells a bajillion records, then this psychopathic elf who comes into your house and fucks things up?  In the name of Christmas spirit?  That is almost as demented as the concept of the Tooth Fairy.  Sure, let's remove body parts and place them under our pillow to get cash.  And we wonder where the concept of the black market for kidneys came from...but seriously, who the FUCK thinks of this shit?

(On a side note, conversations about the Tooth Fairy in our house usually go like this:

Charles:  Alexis lost a tooth.

Me:  Shit.  Do you have a dollar?

Charles:  No...I do have this Canadian dollar coin though.

Me:  How you know when the Tooth Fairy hates you...you get a Canadian dollar.)

If I am going to get my children to behave, it is going to be through emotional manipulation and empty threats.  Not some creepy toy that magically comes to life.  I have my standards for how I am screwing my kids up.  Not sure if they fall below or above Elf on the Shelf...I'll leave that for the general public to decide.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Santa

Conversations overheard in my house while watching Elizabeth's Portable North Pole video:

Santa, when talking about the video cameras that are all over the Portable North Pole:

Santa:  Now we have installed cameras all over the village...

Elizabeth (jerks back from the screen and darts eyes around the room):  Uh, cameras?  Oh God...

Santa:  Here, in my huge library, I have a book about every child...

Elizabeth:  HOW HAS THIS GUY NEVER BEEN INVESTIGATED???

Santa:  Santa Claus knows you very well...

Me:  God, I hope he does not mean in the Biblical sense...

Santa comes to a picture of my sister and I pretending to be zombies on bath salts and eating Elizabeth...

Santa:  You are lucky to have family that loves you so much...

Later on, Santa says:

Santa:  Elizabeth, you have been asked this year to not sulk when you are angry.  Let's see if you have been a good girl this year....(elves pull the lever on the machine, and it comes back she is on the nice list...) Elizabeth, you are on the nice list!

Elizabeth:  Yeah, I nailed it.

Santa:  Now I want to show you my most secret place...

Elizabeth:  Yeah, I bet he has candy there too...

Me:  Well, there are a bunch of toys there...

Charles:  Toys, candy, and cameras.  Sounds like a pedophile's paradise. 

Me:  Only in America would we encourage this.

Santa waves good-bye, Elizabeth gives him a high five.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Anxiety

One thing that I don't talk about much is all of the anxiety that I have on a regular basis.  I am constantly having to talk myself down from the ledge of a panic attack because, say, I become convinced that I have left the iron on and the house is going to burn down and kill all of our animals and the resulting trauma will be so devastating to our children that one is going to start selling crack, one is going to be a serial killer who wears people's skin like a dress and one is going to be a Katy Perry fan and get arrested for stalking her.  All because of my negligence in failing to turn off an appliance.

Makes a lot of sense, right?  I mean, for God's sake if my children are going to be fucked up, it is going to be because I parent inappropriately and because their mother is a therapist, not because I forgot to turn off the fucking iron.  (And let's be honest, it is more likely to be a dryer fire because the iron does not get turned on all that often in this house...)  However, at that exact moment I become firmly convinced of this dire outcome and my body starts to ready itself for fighting or flighting.  It often takes all of my strength to talk myself down and to reassure myself that my outlandish beliefs are incredibly unlikely.

I am more successful at times than others.  This Christmas season is a perfect example.  I normally have most, if not all, of my Christmas shopping completed by Black Friday.  I usually start shopping early in the year, looking for items that people would like and picking up stocking stuffers etc., as I go along.  This year I decided for some unknown reason to ignore my crazy and to try shopping like normal people do.

WTF was I thinking?  This must be the same force that makes people with diabetes stop taking their insulin, or people with alcohol dependence say "I can have just one..."  My anxiety level has been THROUGH THE ROOF the past few weeks.  I tried valiantly to tell myself Dec. 8.  Charles and I are going shopping on Dec. 8.  I tried to point out to myself that I did in fact have quite a few gifts.  That I did get a lot on Black Friday.  That I was ALMOST DONE buying stocking stuffers.

Nope.  I became increasingly convinced that my children were going to have a horrible Christmas because I was not done shopping.  That we are somehow going to face financial ruin because I was not done shopping (cause you know, all of the debt we are currently in plays NO ROLE at all...).   That I was going to forget someone because I was not done shopping, ruin their Christmas as well, and create yet another serial killer by doing so.

I wish this was hyperbole; that I was exaggerating. It is not.  Being unorganized and not having a plan or things together...add that to my list of things that the devil will torture me with when I get to hell, along with people walking around saying "I seen" and "You was".  I was getting increasingly distressed because I was not done.

I caved.  I placed an amazon.com order today and finished my shopping.

This, people, is my Christmas gift to you:  If you ever feel as though you are losing it, come back and re-read this post.  My crazy is sure to make you feel better about whatever you are facing.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Validation

After Alexis came inside from playing outside one blustery day, she turns to me and goes, "It smells like cold  outside."

Yes, child...yes it does.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Shopping

So my husband must have mixed some bath salts into my coffee this morning because I decided that it would be a fine idea to go grocery shopping this afternoon.  At Walmart.  On a Saturday.  Only bath salts could possibly induce the delusion that this is a fine idea.

So I pull into the parking lot and find a spot that is close to a cart corrall and far enough away from the entrance that I can lie to myself and say that I am walking for my health, yet close enough that I don't actually break a sweat.  I get out of the car and narrowly avoid being clipped by the 100 year old lady driving a car that I am pretty sure doubles as an aircraft carrier while she is trying to park in those handicapped spots that run parallel to the flow of traffic.  Apparently to park in these one requires the dexterity of a surgeon.  She had the dexterity of Lenny from Of Mice and Men.  Despite what should have been a warning to get the hell out of there, I cheerily walked in and selected a cart.

Foolishly believing that because the first one I got did not have any annoying squeaks or require an alignment it was going to be a great trip, I briskly walk through the entrance.  On a related note, has anyone ever bitched about the exposure to whatever mysterious forces works the alarms at department stores?  I mean, really, aren't they somehow altering my DNA?  Maybe that explains the force that is Charlie...it is some kind of weird force like the radioactive spider was for Spiderman.  Or perhaps that is why I walk into Target to get laundry detergent and end up with a new bed set and shoes for the entire family...some kind of mind control.

Anyways, I am not 50 feet into the entrance when someone from 100 yards away spots the Thanksgiving display (the whole two foot by four foot display, that was the only one in the entire store, might I add).  She swoops in for the kill like a perigrene falcon does with a mouse.  Frightened that I might snatch up all 14 turkey tablecloths and 27 paper plates and napkin packages that there were, she darts in front of me and cuts me off.  They really need to equip those carts with horns.  Gritting my teeth, I walk around her and to the health and beauty section.

There, I search for an aisle that is not overly crowded to cut through so I can get to the back where the children's Zyrtec is.  I finally find one and sneak back there, only to find the mystery cart.  The cart that is half full, yet with no owner.  WTF, people?  If only they made it so that carts were able to go with you to where you needed to go....

I grab what I need and attempt to get to a main aisle.  There, at the end of the aisle that I had the misfortune to choose, were two old ladies chatting up a storm.  And blocking the whole fucking aisle.  Having no choice but to press on due to the traffic behind me, I politely say, "Excuse me".  They turn and glare at me.  I fully expected their eyes to roll back and to see flames dancing in them.  Indignant at being asked to be polite, they begrudgingly move out of the way, giving me the stink eye the entire time.

I head over to produce.  While examining the lettuce, those fucking sprayers come on to lightly mist the veggies.  I never understood the reason for that stupid spray...Because apparently, the same logic behind a wet t-shirt contest works for selling veggies?  Slightly damp now, I press on and turn the corner.

I run smack dab into someone who is re-stocking the shelves.  Because you know, it is super important to make sure that there are 4, 798 additional packages of hot dog buns on the shelves to supplement the 7,906 that are already there.  Super important.  There might be a run on hot dogs.  They are really popular right around Thanksgiving, I hear.

Aggravated, I finally finish up and head to the checkouts.  People joke about the number of checkouts that are open, but really, I think that the powers to be at the stores really make sure that there is an inverse relationship between the number of people in the store and the number of registers open just to fuck with the general public.  So I get in line and wait.  I see a client and quickly duck down to read a magazine cover until they pass.  I check my phone to see if perhaps time had stopped because that line sure wasn't moving.  I finally get to the checkout.  I wince at the total...I spent how much and got nothing but a cart full of things that will last us a week...then I get to have the privilege of doing it all again?

The real kicker is...I didn't buy ANY alcohol.  Really, they should hand that and/or Xanax out at the doors just for surviving. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Immunity

One of the hardest things for me to come to terms with in dealing with two separate autoimmune diseases is the fact that I now have a compromised immune system due to the medications that I am taking.  It is quite ironic in a way...the very medications that slow the progression of my diseases and keep my own body from attacking itself, my blood from clumping and killing me, my immune cells from making my salivary glands produce spit, my nasal cavities and my lungs from drying out, are the same medications that make my immune system not attack the very things it should attack.

Don't get me wrong...it is not like I have to go around wearing a mask or a full body suit or anything.  I am not on my way to be the next bubble boy (or girl, since I lack the requisite penis to be a boy...).  It just means that a simple cold can very quickly progress to a sinus infection, bronchitis, or even pneumonia.  Secondary infections are very quickly becoming a given with me versus an occasional occurrence. Flu shots are no longer optional as the flu could very well kill me.

This is hard for me to accept sometimes.  Just the other day, I had to leave work because I got violently ill. I puked twice there, then twice more at home.  I am still not sure what was going on there...I wonder if it was something that might have given someone else just a rumbly in their tummy.  I hate that I have to use sick time, to leave work, because of this.  I hate that a simple cold forces me to have to take cough medicine and decongestants in the hope that I can stave off a bacterial infection.  I hate that I feel so badly when I get sick.

I would estimate that about 95% of the time, I feel good.  My meds work.  But that other 5%...ugh.  It is the ultimate betrayal when your own body turns against itself.  Then when you fight back and cause other issues...it is hard.  Especially when you are one who is used to just working through illness.  Having to accept that I physically CAN'T anymore is hard.

It was a lesson I needed to learn though...how to care for myself.  Most women tend to need this lesson.  It is a shame that it took this to get me to learn it.  It is more a shame that society will look at me and tell me that I need to just buck up and deal with it.  If I could not feel this way, I wouldn't.  I would trade all of my sick days for never having to deal with these issues.  But the reality is there is not a cure.  So I trudge along and hope that one day there will be.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Dog

Spartacus was barking hysterically this evening.  Now, that dog does not bark usually.  It is actually a pretty attractive trait of his, unlike his tendency to lean into you while you are petting him to the point that he knocks you both over.  He then pouts and simpers when you stop petting him but for the love of GOD DOG I AM ALREADY BRUISED UP ENOUGH FROM CHARLIE!!!

Deogie is the one who barks because he has little dog Napoleon syndrome.  He also has a bit of an identify crisis, mostly due to him not being a Pitt Bull like he wants to be.  Maximus is just a moron and if you push him over, he just falls over and lies there.  Which is nice when you want him to stay, but kinda sad when he can't find his way out from under a blanket.

But Spartacus, unless you have a bowl of food or a bone, does not like to exert even a quarter of the energy that Deogie so effortlessly expends being a ball of anxiety or that Maximus spends being floppy.  So when he barks, I usually look immediately whereas with the other two, I take my time.

Looking outside tonight, across the empty field just beyond the walnut tree at the edge of my property, there was a man emptying his truck into the yard waste bins.  No immediate threat, except I guess Spartacus did not like the lights on the top of his truck.  I stepped outside to yell "Hush!" at him and no sooner than I did than that truck took off and left.

Spartacus turned to look at me with wide eyes.  His reverential stare said, "OMG!  You made it go away!  MY HERO!!!"  He then laid down contentedly with a happy grin on his face.

If only my kids stayed thinking I had magical powers like the dogs.  Instead, they grow up and realize that I am imperfect.  That I can't give them everything their heart desires.  That I am human. 

You can learn a lot about how a dog loves his or her human.  Sometimes, we need to be reminded of why we love the ones around us.  We need to return to that simple way of being.  Minus the leg humping, cause that might get you arrested.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Delusional

There needs to be a Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders diagnostic code for the psychotic state that is toddlerhood, I think.

Seriously.  Toddlers are some of the most rapidly cycling, labile, and quite frankly DELUSIONAL individual people on the planet.  Teenagers run a close second.

I have both in my household.

I also consume alcohol.

There may be a correlation.  Or causation.  Just sayin'.

Back to toddlerhood...they have some of the most firmly held beliefs in recorded and non-recorded history.  Ever try changing a toddler's mind about wearing a coat?  Eating dinner?  Not playing in traffic?  They hold onto their delusional beliefs with a steadfastness that cult leaders should study and try to perfect.  So do teenagers, but the bad part is they can argue back and aren't easily manhandled into doing what you want.  I can't exactly hold Elizabeth down and shove her into a coat.  Though I imagine it would be entertaining to a lot of people should I try.  I might also make the news for my 15 minutes...

I have been trying to change Charlie's mind about calling me Mommy.  It is too goddamned big for her to do this.  I am Mama and she is my baby.  End of story.  I was trying to get her to call me Mama instead and she just looks at me like I am smoking crack and goes about her day.

I tried to push the issue with her.  I told her, "Mommy is not an option here.  I am Mama.  You call me Mama and you are my baby."

She looked me directly in the eye and goes, "OK, Dada."  Then giggled.

Pass the martinis....

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Saved

One thing that I repeatedly hammer home to my chemical dependency group is the disease model of addiction.  Chemical dependency is a progressive, chronic, treatable, and fatal disease, just like diabetes, thyroid disease, or heart disease.

And Sjogren's.

I don't often think about Sjogren's in that light.  No one really wants to confront their own mortality, let alone the possibility that a condition you have could potentially hasten it.  My father died from complications stemming from it.  It is a treatable, but not curable, disease.

I don't often think about the fact that my dry eyes will get worse.  That I might lose my teeth due to the dry mouth.  That my sinus infections might get more frequent and severe.  That I am more susceptible to pneumonia.  Neuropathy. Lymphoma. 

I never know what kind of day I am going to wake up to.  Most mornings, I move like an old lady getting out of bed.  The early morning stiffness most days lessens and I can function.  Then there are days when my body just aches.  When walking hurts.  When sitting hurts.  When the fatigue is so mind numbing that even sleep is not a relief.  Getting a simple cold is not simple for me.  It always almost develops into a sinus infection or bronchitis that requires antibiotics.

That being said...I can treat all of this.  I take medications to slow the progression of the disease.  I can limit my intake of gluten to help with the inflammation of my joints.  I can use eye drops, drink plenty of water, and suck on sugar free hard candies.  I can take antibiotics when I get an illness that other's immune systems would be able to fight off.

I know that how I feel some days is not normal.  I know to do all of this to take care of myself because I have a diagnosis.  I have a diagnosis because of my son.

Had Gabe never died, I would never have stopped to take a look at my own health.  I would have continued to think that the mind numbing fatigue was a function of being a parent.  That the joint pain was just from over use.  My eyes and mouth have been dry for so long that I don't remember what they feel like normally.

Had Gabe never died, I may have had many complications.  Not only do I have Sjogren's, but I have a clotting disorder.  What would it have taken to get my attention?  A stroke?  Pulmonary embolism?  Permanent incapacitation?  

I now focus on the fun in my life, precisely because I don't know for how long I can fully enjoy it.  I try to laugh at myself and the absurd around me because there are days when I don't want to.  I try to be there for my children who are living to the fullest I can now, because I don't know for how long my health will stick around.

I don't want my kids to remember me as being sick.  I also don't want Gabe's death to have been in vain.  The greatest gift that my son gave to me and his sisters is the gift of that diagnosis and the treatment that accompanies it.  Because of Gabe, I can eliminate that fatal part of the disease definition.

Thank you, son.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Tongues

Elizabeth:  Have you ever noticed how disgusting your tongue is?

Me:  OMG, I was JUST thinking about this the other day...yes.  It is like a throbbing mass of nastiness, this ORGAN that you can just stick out...

E:  Yes.  I wish that we had thin tongues like a dog.

Me:  That would make it hard to talk, I think.  (I start typing this post...)

E:  I think I want a tongue like a camel (Don't ask, I have no clue...)    Wait...Are you Facebooking this?

Me:  No, not at all...

E:  You're blogging it!  You know, if it wasn't for me you wouldn't have any content...

Soup

Dear Tomato Bisque Soup,
      
       I am sorely disappointed.

       I bought you expecting a delightful culinary experience.  The picture on the front of the can advertised a thick, creamy soup resplendent with chunks of tomato.  The label proudly proclaimed, "NOW EVEN BETTER!" and "100% Natural!"  I had high expectations for you, soup, and I am let down.

       What I got instead of a homey, delicious, soul-warming bowl of yumminess is a slightly thickened, over-peppered bowl of tomato juice.  It appeared that the few chunks of tomato that were in it were either an after thought or ones that did not make it through the blender.  There were mysterious specs of some kind of seasoning it it (parsley?  oregano? basil?) but I could not discern what they were due to the overpowering flavor of the pepper.  In fact, at first I could not taste the tomato, the pepper was that strong.  And on second thought, perhaps that was not spice; but rather some kind of "natural" mold.  It has to be good for me, right?  It's all natural...though 'shrooms are all natural too...

       My experience with you, Tomato Bisque Soup, was akin to going to a high end strip club, expecting a visual feast, spending a few bucks, and leaving slightly excited and spent at the same time, but then finding out that the main show is a cross-dressing midget with a beard and his pet sheep.  While that may be some one's cup of tea, it is certainly not mine.

Sincerely,
A Sorely Disappointed Soup Lover

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Shocked

Late last night, I found out that my brother-in-law's brother died in a horrific car accident.

I cannot even begin to fathom the pain there. Wife, daughter, mother, brother, sister.   My heart goes out to them all.  I am still a little shocked myself.

My training professionally has equipped me to deal with this. My personal experiences also help.  But...

It hits close to home.  A young couple.  Sudden death.  But for the grace of God, it could have been me mourning right now.  Today is Alexis's birthday.  We get to celebrate life while someone mourns a life cut short.

Life is precious.  We need to remember this. Go hug your loved ones for me today.  Spend a little extra time to let someone know you care.  It can be taken from you all too quickly.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Communication

Charlie's language skills have exploded recently.  Just today, when I was outside with her playing on the slide, I was completely amazed at how she is now able to communicate her wants and needs with me.  She climbs up the ladder for the slide, goes and sits down, and says, "READY! SET! GO!"  She then slides down, laughing gleefully.  "Mama, I did it!"

Earlier that day, I yelled up the stairs for Elizabeth to ask how many eggs she wanted for dinner.  Charlie, helper that she is, ran up the stairs and asked Elizabeth if she wanted eggs.  Probably about 10 times in a row, up the stairs, then back down, then up again to ask again.  I guess she wanted to make sure.  Then she came running back to me to tell me, very seriously, "Boo wants eggs, Mama."  Thanks, child.  Then she peers up at me and goes, "Whatcha doin', Mama?"

I very clearly remember the first sentence that Alexis spoke.  We were having ice cream with Elizabeth and her best friend Jewel.  Alexis turned to me with her cone and proudly says, "I a big kid."  I asked, "Are you a big kid cause you have ice cream?"  She nodded and grinned.

All of these little instances of early communication.  Burgeoning skills.  Laying the foundation for a lifetime of communication.  I say more often than not now, "Use your words!" when Charlie is trying to get a point across.  She is hovering at that boundary between crying like a baby would and speaking.  Of course, she will cross the line and (hopefully) move to a majority of speaking. 

It is amazing sometimes how even grown adults can revert back to that toddler way of communicating.  We become self-centered; incapable of seeing the other point of view.  That toddler impulse, the id if you are a Freudian, comes out in even the best of us.  Communication breaks down.  Feelings get hurt.

What do people do who don't have someone to guide them into that capability?  What must that be like, to have all of these feelings that you can't put into words?  That you never even learned the words for?  Or even learned to acknowledge their existence?

I make my living communicating.  That does not mean that I speak a lot.  In fact, quite the opposite.  One of the first things I had to learn as a therapist was how to shut the fuck up.  To give people the chance to speak.  The power of silence.  How to listen.

How to help people find their voice.  I am theoretically doing this with my children.  The hope is that they will learn how to communicate in an effective manner; to avoid the heart break that can come when you try to connect with another human being.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Conversations X

Charles:  Where is the rest of Charlie's outfit for tomorrow?

Me:  Oh, I just haven't gotten her jeans out yet.

Charles:  Oh, I was just wondering...I saw Alexis's skirt, shirt, shorts (we make her wear shorts under her skirts due to her propensity to try to do head stands while in skirts...), and just socks and shirt for Charlie.  I know she goes to day care and all, but...

Me:  Pants are optional.

Charles:  Well, she IS young.  It's cute, right?


Yeah, our kids are so fucked....

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Separation

Charlie never really had separation anxiety as a baby.  Despite being the holy tornado that she is now, with a temper to match the hair and Irish heritage, she was actually a very happy, easy going baby.  She slept well, loved to be held and talked to, and was just generally content.  Then she started to move and learned about rage when things don't go her way, and it has gone to hell in a hand basket.

But I digress.  Happy Charlie.  Yes.  She never really went through those stages, even as a baby, where she would cry whenever I left the room.  I used to wonder and worry...is my child not developing object permanency?  Is she cognitively delayed?  Is she autistic?  My mind went a hundred thousand miles a minute in the way that only the severely anxious amongst us can understand.  I researched social delays online, convinced that this one aspect of her personality was going to doom her to a lifetime of institutionalization, medications, and therapy.

Yeah.  It is in full bloom now.  The separation anxiety, not the need for therapy.  That will be coming years down the road.  She cries every morning at drop off at daycare.  She follows me around the house like there is an invincible force field pulling her into me.  She panics when I try to close the door to poop.

It is so funny how OPPOSITE she and Alexis are in that regard.  Alexis was born with separation anxiety.  She hated everyone until about the age of two, when she figured out that being her cute stuff made people want to pay attention to her and give her stuff.  Then she was off and running like a good little con artist.  Charlie was pretty much OK with anyone who had a pulse and the capabilities to cuddle her as an infant.  Now that she is emerging into toddlerhood, that fierce independence that she always had is checked a little bit.  She needs that secure base to come to now, the way that Alexis as an infant needed it at that point in her life.

The therapy...well, as I have said before...she is the child of a therapist.  OF COURSE she will need it.  I am just relieved it is not because of whatever a lack of separation anxiety implies.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Grey

So.  I read the first two books.  And if you have to as me what books, what rock have you crawled out of recently cause seriously...

I never thought that I would see the day where a series that talks about anal fisting, hard limits, and kinky fuckery became so popular.  While I love the fact that the books are exploring alternative, non-traditional sexuality, I was a little disturbed by how they continued to buy into the old tired tropes about relationships:

1.) Older, rich man.  Really?  Can we just perpetuate the myth to women out there that you have to land a man with cash for it to be a desirable relationship. Granted, the age difference is not that great...but really, how many billionaires are there under 30?  Like Mark Zuckerberg.  And....uh....

2.) Virgin woman.  Really?  You are only desirable because of the state of your hymen?  Oh, that is right; Fifty can then shape her into his own personal little sex slave.

3.)  Woman who is unaware of her desirability.  Really?  Of course.  If she knew that she was desirable, she would not have saved herself.  Therefore, she would be undesirable per #2.

4.)  More experienced man sexually.  Really?  This one ties into #2 and #3.  Let's just perpetuate further the idea that women simply exist to serve men...trade off I guess for #1.  She can have his money if she serves to please his every sexual whim.

5.)  Woman "saves" man.  Really?  She is going to wash away all of the black on his soul, save him from the horror of his childhood, simply with the power of her love?  Sorry, that kind of shit only exists...well, nowhere.  It is possible to overcome horrible childhoods...I see it every day.  It is not due to a virginal submissive who makes you realize the errors of your controlling ways and how horrible it was that your mom's pedophile friend twisted your view of sexuality as a teenager in a matter of weeks.  Maybe she could help, sure...but the idea that a woman can make a man change and that a guy who is controlling is actually a really nice guy who just wants to make sure that the wittle woman is taken care of (you know, because she would never be able to do it on her own) is actually a pretty worn out one that gets re-packaged pretty nicely in this book.

I guess I should keep in mind the fact that this is supposed to be a fantasy...but I get tired of being told that my fantasy should be the old worn out love story that is hawked to women.  It is a step in the right direction, for sure.  I just wish it did not continue to perpetuate the same old gender based stories that serve to keep women in their place.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hyperbole

"Considering the asshole that Charlie was today, I am super proud of myself that when she ran directly into the cupboard that I had just opened, I did not point at her and go "HA HA! Serves you right, jerk!"--My actual Facebook status yesterday.

I had more comments on this post than I thought I would, both private and public.  It surprised me, to tell the truth.  I was a little harried, a little flustered, a little frustrated, when I dashed off those words.  I was letting off steam.  I had no idea people would be so shocked.  I figured people would know enough about my warped sense of humor to know that I was exaggerating slightly.  
I was wrong.
I don't know if people thought I would actually call my child an asshole.  I don't know if people thought that I would ignore my child after she just got injured.  I don't know if people saw an opportunity to make them selves feel better about their shortcomings as a parent or a person and grabbed it with both hands to give it a big ol' French kiss while dry humping its leg.  I do know that I got a heaping dose of judgment.  It surprised me.
 Any parent that says that they never get frustrated with their child is, as I retorted on my comments, "a damn liar or a saint".  People are not perfect.  Charlie can be an asshole.  Elizabeth can be an asshole.  Alexis can be an asshole.  I can be an asshole.  Charles can be an asshole.  Every single person, on this planet, has had a bad day at some point and been an asshole.  In fact, probably the only people who can't claim to have been assholes are babies that are pretty brand spanking new.
I fully understand that my daughter is a toddler.  She is unable to reason.  Unable to regulate her emotions like a sane person.  Unable to put her pain, hurt, fears, and wants fully into words yet.  I get that.  
But.
That does not mean that her behavior is acceptable.  That does not mean that I am not going to give her a consequence when she acts on her aggressive impulses.  That does not mean that I won't give her a consequence when she throws a fit.  It does not mean that after a particularly trying day I won't look at her and not like her very much.
Like.  I said like, not love.  I will always love my children.  The implication that I got from someone, that my children will ever question my love...that is extremely offensive to me.  I would take a bullet for my kids, no questions asked.  I will not eat lunch for a week so they can get new shoes when money is tight.  I will make them ridiculously elaborate cakes for their birthdays because the days that they were born were among the happiest of my life.  Each of my children is a miracle in their own right.  The fact that they are even here is a miracle, and more so than children even are.  They should not exist because the odds were stacked against each one of them.  And yet here they are.
I will always love my children unconditionally.  And yet, when they are being jerks, I might not like them.  I might not want to deal with more of their bullshit.  I might want to sell them to the gypsies.  But I can guarantee you,  I would be running after that caravan not 5 minutes later, ready to sell my soul to get them back.
What I did not say on the post, what I did after she ran into the door, was what was appropriate.  I picked her up, gave her a hug, kissed the boo-boo, and set her back down on the floor to redirect her.  I tried not to show her my impatience at yet another distraction from making dinner.  I was successful that time.  I am not always.  I am human.  I make mistakes.  I snap at my kids, even yell.  I hurt their feelings.  I am not perfect.
The so-called "Mommy wars" drive me nuts.  I really don't have any commentary about that subject that is new, so I won't bore you.  People will probably say, well, don't put it out there for the public to comment on.  
My response to that is:  What about all the people out there who feel guilty as hell because they feel the exact same way on occasion, but are too afraid to voice it?  I don't lie to myself and pretend that I have some huge audience or something...but a lot of my friends are parents.  And parents sometimes struggle.  And sometimes, knowing that you are not alone makes a world of difference, even if it is just to one person.  And that makes it worth all of the bullshit that I have to take...because I know both what it feels like to feel that you are alone, andthat you are horrible because of your feelings.  
If I can help it, my kids will know they are loved.  If I can help it, someone out there will know that parenting sucks monkey balls sometimes, and that is OK.  So all the haters out there can suck it.  We don't always have to agree...but that does not give you license to try to make me feel like shit to make yourself feel better.
 
 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Texting III

Me:  Did you feed the doggies?

E:  Ya

Me:  Cool beaners.

E:  Wow

Me:  What?

E:  Cool beaners?  Seriously?  Lol

Me:  Yes. All the cool thirty something's are saying it.  You should too....start a trend.

E:  That's an old trend.

Me:  I am an old lady

E:  Not really

Me:  U r my favorite daughter now :)



Later that evening:  (and yes, she was upstairs in her room...feel free to judge me...)

Me:  R u going to homecoming?

E:  Ya probably its sept 15th

Me:  U have a date?

E:  Nope

Me:  What r u wearing?

E:  Probably clothes

Me:  Good plan.  I like ur thinking!

E:  Ya I know I am pretty much a genius!

Later on, talking about shopping for a dress:

E:  Can we go to aunt alicias mall?

Me:  I guess

E:  you dont sound excited

Me:  I hate the mall.  It ranks right up there with Katy Perry.

E:  Where else would we get a dress?

Me:  IDK?  Marc's (local discount store that has, in fact, sold formal wear)?  Goodwill?  

E:  Lol fantastic idea!  Ill take aunt alicia then

Me:  I will come with u.  Just remember this moment when I am old and senile.

E:  Alright I will

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Teeth II

In an attempt to pretend that I am a conscientious parent, I make Charlie brush her teeth twice daily.  She has her own little tooth brush and fluoride free toothpaste, and we have this "brusha brusha BRUSHA!" song that we sing while shaking our asses and brushing our teeth.  Beyonce, step aside; there's a new booty shaker in town and her name is Char-rizzle.

Today a new twist was put on our little song and dance number.  As we were singing the brusha song (well, I was; Charlie had her toothbrush in her mouth) she pulled it out of her mouth and stuck it in mine to "brush" my teeth.

Time froze.  I have revealed on here several of my neuroses and phobias...food touching, water, my obsession with post it notes, my hatred of Katy Perry.  In an attempt to fool people into thinking I am saner than I am, I have not revealed yet another one of my phobias until now.

I hate teeth.  Rather, I hate teeth that are not clean.  When I took some time off work to stay home and care for my father, if I had to handle his nighttime routine, we soaked his false teeth versus me brushing them.  I would struggle to not gag when he would brush his remaining teeth in his mouth and spit the toothpaste into one of those kidney shaped bed pans (cause the wheel chair did not fit into the bathroom).  I barely held back waves of nausea when I would take those false teeth and put them into the cup to soak.  My very own special circle in hell will surely involve me being up to my neck in water, being forced to do a dental hygienist's job while watching people mix their food on their plates.

You get the picture.  I gave up trying to figure out what I ever did to karma to deserve this torture and tried to keep the panic out of my voice when I told her, "OK!  Mommy's all done brusha brusha!  Charlie's turn!"  She happily stuck the toothbrush back into her mouth and kept brushing her teeth.

That, bitchez, is love.  I better get put into a damn fine nursing home.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hugs

Today Charlie threw a fit.  This in and of itself is hardly news because she is at the age where she throws fits for everything. Stop playing with your toys because you  have to eat dinner?  Throw a fit.  Mama grabs your arm to keep you from running into traffic?  Throw a fit.  Your parents have expectations of you, things like EATING and BREATHING?  Throw a fit.

What was different today was that while she was in the process of running into the living room to overturn the laundry basket of freshly folded clothes in her fit of rage (and if you know me and my abhorrence of folding laundry, that is a big fucking deal in this house...) I grabbed her and on pure instinct just folded her into my arms for a hug.  I just held her for a moment.  She then pulled away and asked me, "Pizza?" in a hopeful tone.

Just like that, the fit was over.  It was almost as if she needed an anchor in that minute, someone to just hold her and make her feel secure.  I don't know if it was a fluke, if it just was novel enough to catch her off guard, or if it was and is truly what she needs when she is that upset.  I do know that some days, there are times when I wish someone would just grab me and hold on because I feel like I am in such a whirlwind.  Like I am flying by the seat of my pants; like I have no right being an adult because I am totally faking it.

I can only imagine what it is like to be that young.  Everything is new.  Everything has the potential to be really cool or really scary.  It is simultaneously exhilarating and horribly frightening.  I need to remember that more often.  Maybe she does really just need a hug when I feel like throwing her across the room.  Maybe she does just need to know that she is safe.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Elmo

I have a confession to make.

I am not a fan of Elmo.  I was secretly relieved when Elizabeth and Alexis skipped over the whole being in love with Elmo thing.  I could put up with Blue's Clues, watch hours of Phineas and Ferb, and play Miss Clavelle all day long (though really, Elizabeth, a nun?  You had a great imagination...).  I was so glad that they did not get bitten by the whole Sesame Street bug.

Then came Charlie.  One day, the girls were bored and we were looking up videos on you tube because why the hell would I actually want to PLAY with my children.  I decided to go and look up this kinda cute video I had come across once:  a parody of LMFAO's "I'm Sexy and I Know It" called "I'm Elmo and I know It".  This was back before Charlie became obsessed, when the idea of a fuzzy red monster was cute in an arm's length sort of way.  You know, like when someone shows you a baby Tasmanian devil...adorable but definitely not something you want to get involved with long term.

Charlie took one hit off of the crack pipe called Elmo and was hooked.  Had he been a real drug she would be pawning her stuff and trading sippy cups of milk for her fix.  It was that instantaneous.  Now every time I try to ignore my children and go on the computer, she is all "Elmo?  Elmo?".  No, child, how the fuck am I supposed to ignore you if you are sitting on my lap smacking my arm every five seconds during the video that is playing?  Don't you know Mommy has important things to do on the computer?  Like Facebook?

I don't know what it is about Elmo that irritates me so.  He is my favorite color, after all, and at first glance is pretty cute.  Maybe it is his annoying laugh.  Maybe it is his inability to refer to himself in the first person.  Maybe it is the whole Tickle Me Elmo thing, where he looks like he is either epileptic or making inappropriate body movements.

All I know is...Elmo has made it so that I can put Charlie's ear drops in without sporting bruises worthy of a cage fighting match.  For that alone, I am eternally grateful to the little fuzzy bastard.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tosh

I guess recently there is a huge uproar about comments that the host of Tosh.0 made towards a female in the audience when she challenged him on rape jokes he was making.  He responded by inviting people to rape her back.

My job exists, in part, because of people who are raped, who are sexually abused, who are victimized.  Survivors are some of the hardest cases for therapists to work with sometimes.  Yet, on a daily basis, I am left helping people pick up the pieces from a rape.  From being molested.  From maybe having had one too many drinks and being taken advantage of.

Very few of these people have had their perpetrators come to justice.  Very few reported it.  An astounding number still have to interact with the person who victimized them...sometimes daily.

Sexual assault is a boundary crossing to the max, amongst other things.  It is a symbol of the misogyny in our culture.  What man regularly has to "be aware" of being in a parking lot at night because someone might jump them?  What man has ever had to leave a room, cross a street, call a friend,  because a stranger was creeping them out?

Rape is not funny.  Extorting someone to commit this violent act is not funny.  Doing so to silence someone who dares to challenge you...isn't that part of what rape is?  Keeping people, mainly women, in their place?  Power and control?  Objectifying?

Pretending rape jokes are humor is no different than pretending that drinking a case of beer daily is normal consumption.  Both reek of denial.  Both take a huge cost...unseen at first, but eventually devastating in what havoc it wreaks.

I admit that I thought Tosh.0 was funny.  Not so much any more.  I can't support someone without basic decency.  I am sure the next outcry will be about how he really is a nice guy.  And so is that rapist sitting in the audience who is taking your jokes about it as normalizing rape.

Monday, July 2, 2012

7/2/2008

I realized that I have never ever written out the entirety of my son's birth story (or any of the kids', for that matter).  Seeing how today is the day he was born, I thought I would do so.

His story actually starts on June 30th, the day we were supposed to find out the sex at the "big" ultrasound.  It was a really shitty day, weather wise...pouring down rain, and kinda cold.  I had to go into Fairview Hospital for the ultrasound because Dr. Gingo makes me get Level II ultrasounds because he always disagrees with me on my due dates (and for the record, I am always right...)  Charles and I dropped Alexis off at the daycare, then headed out.

We get to the hospital, and get ourselves checked in.  I had to drink the 12 gallons of water that they make you drink and of course had to pee.  We get called back to the room, and they ask if we can have a student observe.  Sure; why not?  That student sure got a lesson that day, poor girl...

They put the gel on my belly and start.  Here, Charles said that he immediately knew something was wrong.  There was no flickering heartbeat on the screen.  I was just smiling at seeing my baby.  The technician starts to take measurements.  The head is around 15 weeks.  I say, "No, I am about 20 weeks."  I start to get worried.  Is there something wrong with my baby?  They measure the arms.  17 weeks, 3 days.  OK, a little better...maybe I am wrong on my dates.  They they try to get the baby to move so they can get better measurements.  Pushing, poking and prodding on my stomach does nothing.  The baby is just lying there.  They make me go pee because my bladder is about to explode.  Nothing.

The doctor comes in. At this time, I am mildly alarmed because I knew from experience that the doc does not come in till the end.  Dr. Moodley (the specialist I had to see) looks and frowns at the screen.  Then he turns on the fetal heart rate monitor.  Silence.

He turns to me and says, "I am afraid that there is no heartbeat.  The baby is very small and has died.  I am very sorry."


I ask if I will have to deliver.  He says yes.  It seems like torture to me.

Someone called Dr. Gingo's office.  We are told to go immediately there.  I am sobbing at this point.  I had texted everyone who was waiting eagerly to hear the news.  I leave the hospital and get in the car.  I call my mom.  I  make Charles call Matt to tell Elizabeth.

We get to Dr. Gingo's.  They set up an induction for the next day.  At the time, again, it seemed like torture.  What I did not realize at the time, and what I will forever be eternally grateful to Dr. Gingo for, is that waiting that one day put me at 20 weeks exactly.  I got a death certificate for my son becuase of that one day.  Otherwise, his birth could have been considered a miscarriage and it would have been a royal pain to get him cremated.

I called Elizabeth.  Besides from when I had to tell her that her beloved Papa, my father, had died, that was the hardest thing I ever had to do.  She had been so excited, and had just bought him a t-shirt.  In fact, that shirt is currently on the Build-a Bear that my sister had bought for us.  Gabe's death also prompted her to text me for the very first time, and earned him the nickname of "The Gabe".

That night, I got online and started to research.  Part of me is wondering what my son will look like.  If you ever want to torture yourself, look up "macerated fetus".  On second thought, don't.  There are some things people should not have to see.  I stumble across the statute that explains the whole death certificate thing.  I finally go to bed, and I completely lose it. I just remember begging my husband to not let me lose my mind.  I was convinced that I was going to, because at that moment I was out of my mind with grief.

I slept some.  The next morning comes.  I don't want to get out of bed.  I do; we drop Alexis off at the in-laws and go to the hospital.  When we get to the maternity ward, the first thing I hear is an infant crying.  I almost lose it as I check in.  The nurses at the hospital were fantastic.  As soon as they realized who I was, I was immediately whisked into a room.  There were two doors to this room.  I requested to have them both shut.  I did not want to hear those babies when I would never hear my own.

Dr. Gingo popped in and explained that the on call doctor would be monitoring me that day.  I was given another ultrasound.  The doctor explained to me very gently that this was just to "make sure".  I looked right at her and said, "There better not be a heartbeat, cause there is surely something horribly wrong then cause there definitely was not one yesterday."  There is none, and she confirms that the baby is really small.  They start me on the meds, some kind of vaginal suppository to start labor.  The ones that I had always been told to avoid because of the risk of still birth.  Guess it did not matter at this point.  I was told that I could get an epidural whenever I wanted.  I almost asked for it right there, but I wanted to be able to move if I wanted for as long as I could.  Then we waited.

I went into the hospital at 8 AM on July 1, and did not deliver until 2:45 AM on July 2.  I got the epidural at some point.  I had started to have some mild discomfort in my back, and asked for pain meds.  I expected to be given Motrin; they offered the epidural instead.  I sat and read my book, a marital therapy one by John Gottman.  I was still in school for my master's at that point.  We looked at the funeral information that had been discretely provided to us.  We called the first place listed and made arrangements for the cremation.  I got several more shots for my epidural, and then finally a pump.  The epidural made my blood pressure bottom out (got as low as 50/24 at one point).  My sister brought Charles lunch.  I got Jello and ginger ale.  Dinner came and went; my mom brought Charles dinner at some point too. I slept a bit.  During this sleep, I saw my dad with my son and was comforted somewhat.  I told Charles about this; he visibly relaxed too.

At about 2:30 AM, I shifted slightly and felt something between my legs.  I had started to bleed a little bit, so I thought nothing of it.  I sat up at 2:45 and delivered my son.  It was literally that quick.  At the time, I did not know that; I just knew that something had come out.  Charles got the nurse, who got the doc.  She picked the baby up.  He was born in the caul, and I delivered everything at once.  I was lucky...I did not have to have a D&C after.  They allowed me to hold him briefly, then took him away and cleaned him up.  They brought him to me again, on a tiny pillow.  He was wrapped in a blue crocheted blanket and had a tiny cap on.  I can fit three fingers inside that cap, that is how small he was.  I remember his tiny little finger nails, and that the way that his chest meets his arms is exactly the way that Alexis's was as a baby.  He had big cheeks and looked just like Charles.  One of my regrets of that day is that I did not take pictures of him. I was not aware of organizations such as Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep then. I had the camera; I just did not get it out.  We just have a really crappy one the hospital gave us.  It does not do him justice.  He did not look as bad as I feared.  In fact, he was perfect. 

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Parenting

So since I am a therapist and all, one of the basic premises of my personality (besides being a glutton for punishment) is that I want to make people feel better about themselves.  Keeping that in mind, here is my contribution for the day towards that cause.  After reading these gems, you are sure to feel better about your parenting and mental stability in general.


Charlie is playing with a bunch of bowls of water and some cups and spoons.  This usually keeps her entertained for almost a full hour.  I happened to look over at her and she is standing on top of the picnic table where she is playing.  I tell her to sit down and she sits...on top of the table.  Advantage, Charlie...next time I will need to be more specific.


When Elizabeth was about five or so,we had a Jack Russell Terrier named J.D.  Charles REFUSED to get this dog fixed.  REFUSED.  J.D. was lying on the ground one day, and his balls were sticking out from under his butt.  Elizabeth, of course, notices them and turns to me and says, "What are those things under J.D.?  Those...balls?"  I lost it and laughed and probably peed myself a little.  I figure that probably tacked on a minimum of 6 months of therapy...


These weren't my children, but just to show you that my stellar skills extend to other children as well (you know, in case you were ever contemplating leaving your children in my care...)...I worked at a daycare for years on and off.  My last stint was in a 3 year old preschool classroom, co-teaching with my sister.  We were talking about traveling or some shit, and what the kids would pack.  We got all of the typical stuff...clothes, nightgown, blankie, etc. (Though one kid did throw out "ointment", which of course I cracked up about...what three year old says "ointment?")  We were almost done when this one very sweet little girl pipes up with her contribution.  Now before I tell you what it was, keep in mind that her father always complained about how old he was to all of us.  Her contribution?  "My daddy packs little blue pills when he goes out of town."  The poor children did not know why their teacher thought that was so funny.  I told them all to ask their parents, cause I am so good at deflecting like that.


Both Elizabeth and Alexis could use fuck as a noun, adjective, and a verb by the age of three.  Charlie is probably well on her way there too.


Charlie comes walking into the kitchen in nothing but her diaper and a shit load of Mardi Gras beads.  Charles turns to me and goes, "Well, I guess she earned those beads, didn't she?"


Alexis is driving along in the car with me when Rhianna's S & M comes on.  She goes, "Oh, Mommy, turn this up!  This is my song!"



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Toddlers

Toddlers can be such assholes.

This was my status on Facebook today.  And it is the honest to God truth.  I have said it before, but living with Charlie is like living with a person who has rapidly cycling bipolar disorder with psychotic features and who is quite possibly withdrawing from a substance.  In this case, that substance would be the crackers and marshmallows that I have the nerve to not allow her to subsist on.  (And hell yeah I just ended my sentence with a preposition.  That is what living with a toddler will do to you.  Their assholery will make you do things like have poor grammar.  And make up words like assholery.)

I could not even begin to imagine the emotions that that child must experience, not just day to day but minute to minute.  She will go from throwing herself down on the floor in a murderous rage when I won't allow her to climb inside the stove to running up to me with those big baby blues and asking sweetly, "Outside?  Play?".  She is very good at knowing exactly which buttons of Charles's to push and will do things like look him directly in the eye while turning a cup of milk over to pour it all over the floor.  She has perfected this unholy screech that makes angels cry and shatters crystal.  She can arch her back in the midst of her temper tantrum and put the back bend of an Olympic gymnast to shame.

But then there are moments like tonight, when she calls plaintively for me from her crib.  "Mama! Mama!"  I go up there wearily, bracing myself for the onslaught of passionate, unbridled emotions that she can sling my way.  She is standing up in her crib, holding Doggie in one hand and her blanket in the other.  She wants me to pick her up and hold her.  She snuggles into the center of my chest like she did as an infant, tucking her butt under her legs and just melting into me.  And I think, "What did I do to deserve the love of such a passionate, dynamic creature?  Why does she need me so when she is so capable of doing and being whatever she wants?  How did I get so lucky?"  All is forgiven and I can laugh at her toddler antics.

Yes, toddlers can be such assholes.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Rainbows

So because I really like to put my Zoloft to the test, I decided today that I was going to join the community garage sale. That was today from 9-4.  At 11 AM.  I put my stuff out and got rid of a lot of baby shit...and made enough to go buy Alexis her bike. She wanted one for her birthday, but I am not so mean as to make her wait until the end of September (though certain other of my children may dispute this point...).

I felt a twinge or two as I was shameless giving away crap that I don't ever have a use for ever again.  It is quite public knowledge that I hate being pregnant.  I am happy about the size of our family.  The twinge was not about that.

Rather, it was more about giving the damn Bumbo seat, the red toddler bed, the Jumperoo, etc. away before ALL of my children had a chance to use them.  I had overheard Alexis telling her friend on the porch today as they colored, "I DO TOO have a brother!  He is in heaven!  I don't see him, though..."  Talk about being shot through the heart.

I went about my day.  I ran out to do the grocery shopping, and of course as soon as I get out of the grocery store, it LETS LOOSE.  I turn and look at the west...sun is shining as brightly as can be.  I am torn.  It is pretty much a tie between what I hate more...water, or being pregnant.  (This only applies to water that is on my body.  I drink tap water like I am getting paid to do so.)  Do I stay facing the east, in the rain, and look for the rainbow, or do I get my groceries, the crabby baby I  have with me, and my tired ass, in the car and headed in the opposite direction?

Practicality won out.  Plus I was cold.  I got in the car and headed home, convinced that I was not going to see the rainbow.  Disappointment was felt by all involved (which pretty much was only me).  

You see, rainbows have had a special significance for me since my son's death.  When I was in labor with him, I saw my father.  Big deal, right?  Yeah, except for he is dead.  He was holding a baby, wrapped in the God-awful receiving blankets that hospitals use, and singing this God-awful song he used to sing to all of the grandchildren:

Teera, Leera, Loora, 
Teera, Leera, Lie, 
Teera, Leera, Loora, 
Hush, now, don't you cry.

That was the first time since I had learned that I was going to have to deliver a dead baby that I felt comforted.

Fast forward about a month.  We were on vacation, and it started to storm again.  In the sky, there was a gorgeous double rainbow.  It was almost as though my dad and Gabe were saying, "Be at peace; we are here."

Since then, it has always seemed that whenever things were tough, or I was thinking about Gabe a lot for whatever reason (well, more than usual I should say...) a rainbow will come out.

It did not fail me today, either.  Looking in my rear view mirror, I saw the biggest, most beautiful rainbow against the dark slate gray storm clouds.  I almost drove the car off the road; I literally could not take my eyes off of it.  It was THAT brilliant and beautiful and big.

Thanks, son.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Unhinged

Some days I feel as though I have my very own special psychiatric ward here in my home, filled with bipolar patients who rapidly cycle through their moods. Between having a toddler, a teenager, and a 5 year old (I am firmly convinced that children at that age have little mini hormonal cycles just like a woman...), there is enough lability of mood to make the makers of Depakote go nuts.  Between Charlie's dramatic temper tantrums about being prevented from running out in traffic, Alexis's conviction that she is the ONLY ONE IN HER ENTIRE GRADE who had to wear long sleeves, and Elizabeth's just general teen-ness, I am about to go completely unhinged myself.

And yet...I would not trade it for the world.  My children are both my sanity and my madness.  I come home from work on days like today, when I am surrounded by desperation and pain and hopelessness, and I see why I do what I do.  It is because there is hope in Charlie's "muwah's"  (kisses) that she gives me when I get home from work.  There is still innocent joy in Alexis begging me to play on the trampoline with her.  There is promise in my conversations I have with Elizabeth.  There is sheer delight in the way that they all play together.  The simple pleasure that I get in making dinner for my family, in watching them grow and learn and become women.  In seeing the development of their personalities, their growth as human beings.

I am humbled by watching them become just generally fantastic people.  Bright, creative, funny, caring.  It makes all of the insanity worth it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Conversations IX

My brother in law, after eating a sundae that consisted of a peanut butter sauce filled chocolate mini cake, hot fudge, peanut butter sauce, a Reese's cup, and peanut butter and fudge swirled peanut butter cup ice cream (with some whipped cream and two cherries on it):

"I have not put anything this unhealthy in my body for a long time, and right now by body is saying to me, 'You asshole'."


Elizabeth's father texted her a picture of her sister with their cat and the message that the cat had died.  I asked her if they were going to get a new cat.  Her response?

"No, Mom.  You can't just get a new cat to replace the old one.  It is just not the same.  They have their own personalities.  It is like asking someone if they were going to have a new baby to replace the old one when it died.  That's just wrong."

I did ask her if she realized that she just compared a cat to a baby and she just shrugged.  I may  need to rethink this whole baby-sitting thing here...


Talking to Charles's cousin about her new baby:

Cousin:  Yeah, she has a lot of hair on her head.  And some on her back too.

Cousin's husband:  Yeah, she is going to be like her daddy and just have a blanket.

Me, to Charles:  Maybe that is what I need to do!  I need to grow some back hair!  I wonder how I could make that happen so I am not always cold...

Few minutes later, talking about covering yourself up while in bed because if you don't the serial killer who lives under your bed will GET YOU AT NIGHT!!!

Charles:  Eh, I  always have to have my arms out.  I can't stand to have my hand covered, even if they are cold.

Cousin's husband, to me:  See?  If you figure out the back hair thing, he can just bury his hands in there to keep them warm!  LIKE A BLANKET!!!

(Obviously it takes a special kind of person to marry into this family....)


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Random III

Charlie came home from daycare with a rather large goose egg down the middle of her forehead.  She was running and tripped and bashed her head into a table.  I guess she made that table her bitch.  She OWNS that table now.  Honestly, I am just glad that she was not climbing on that table and dancing on it.  She is my child, though to look at her appearance one would have to strongly question her maternity.

She also has another fucking ear infection and her tubes are clogged again.  What is the average cost of raising a child up to now?  All I gots to say is, she better go to a cheap ass college or get a full ride scholarship because she is totally using up all of that money on her medical bills now.  Cause you know, once she hits that average I am so cutting her off and making her get a job...

Alexis has learned the art of stalling.  Specifically, dragging out bedtime routine so she does not have to go to bed.  I decided to go all Love and Logic on her ass and stop nagging because really, it is way too much effort.  I told her that she would have to start making up the time the next day, meaning that she would have to go to bed earlier, and that by my calculations she needed to go to bed now.  Parent of the year I am not, but it got my point across.

Elizabeth just told me that there was a slug on her shoe (which was really my shoe she was wearing...) and that she had wiped it off.  Not only did she wipe it off, but she disinfected the shoe.  Then she told me that she had a slug in her hair as well.  I did not ask questions.  Sometimes it is just better that way.  Though I do wonder if she disinfected her hair as well...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Deception

Charlie looks very angelic for a demon child.

Seriously.  She has these big blue eyes, this creamy soft skin, this mischievous little grin...my little ginger baby is adorable if I do say so myself.  But good God almighty, that child is hell on wheels.  Or rather, hell on tiny size 4 sneakers.

I went to the Children's Museum with my sister-in-law this weekend.  After watching Charlie climb up (and almost fall down) a set of stairs, pick up several chairs (and throw one in a fit of rage when it wasn't doing exactly what she wanted it to...), arch her back and throw herself around when I dared to stop her from falling off of a bench, and attempt to climb up the side of the car that they had for kids to pretend to drive, she turned to me and said, "I see now why you call her Char-Rambo."

Exactly.

Charlie is a tank.  She knows what she wants and she goes for it with a passion that only a toddler can muster.  She sits and concentrates and figures things out and by God, if it does not do what she thinks it should do, her head starts spinning and green vomit comes out her mouth.  Kidding!  (Well, maybe just a little bit...)

When do we lose that single-minded determination to figure things out?  When does the child learn to temper the emotions to more socially acceptable responses, like binge drinking and cage fighting?  I wish I knew the exact moment, because I want to tell Charlie to never lose that passion.  Learn to control it, to direct it in a positive direction...but to never stop feeling the sting of that chair not doing what the fuck you want it to when you have tried so hard to figure it out.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Conversations VIII

Charles:  (referring to the TV show Swamp People)  They are making this appeal to people who think that women aren't as good as men.  I'll bet Liz could kick most men I know's ass...

Me:  I am just so proud of you right at this moment...

Charles:  Well, you could give me a blow job...

Me:  And then you just kept talking...


Monday, April 9, 2012

Miscellaneous

Do you know that there are entire television shows dedicated to filming people (mainly men, with a token woman thrown in) hunting wild game? 

There are also shows dedicated to guns and target shooting.

This was information that I could have gone pretty much my whole life without knowing, and still felt that I was a pretty educated individual.

Just sayin'...

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Memories

The aroma of vinegar is forever associated with the dyeing of Easter eggs by me.  I remember the excitement of coloring eggs every year for Easter, using the Paas kits.  They have not changed much in the 30+ years I have been doing this...still the same little tablets that bubble, the same clear crayon that magically makes words come out on the eggs, the same wrappers that you can put around the eggs that crack.  There are a few minor differences in what I do and what we did when I was young...I don't keep the eggs out on the table for weeks at a time and then allow my children to eat them (MOM!!!), Elizabeth is way more creative with her decorations than we ever were as children, my kids actually eat the eggs we dye (to me, any egg tastes like a tiny bit of hell in your mouth).  The act of dyeing the eggs, though, is essentially the same.

When I have grandchildren I want to do this with them.  It might just be eggs, but there are memories there.  It was a time from my childhood I can remember being happy.  It was fun and innocent.  I want that to keep up throughout the generations.  There is wonder in the fizzing of those tablets, the creation of something pretty from something plain, the time spent together.  It is worth spending time on, because the payback is rich.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Heartbreak

One thing that no one tells you when you sign up for this crazy thing called parenting is how much it really sucks monkey balls sometimes.  All you hear about is the intense love you have for your child, this sweet innocent babe who will always turn to you for comfort and sustenance and will make your heart swell with pride and joy.  No one really mentions the swollen, rock hard boobs, the wildly fluctuating hormones, the fact that it is actually possible to get a negative number of hours of sleep in a day, the fact that someone can regurgitate on your shirt and you may stay in it for hours, if not the entire day...and that is just the first week of being a new parent.  That shit is glossed over.  Ya know that whole birth control/abortion debate out there?  Maybe it would not be an issue if we didn't gloss over the whole suckage factor that sometimes goes along with being a parent.

That is not to say that there are not really awesome moments.  Of course there are.  There has to be, evolutionarily speaking...or we would have evolved to eat our own young.  Sometimes, though, the amount of heartbreak that you have to go through with a child gets overwhelming...especially when the heartbreak is caused by things that are totally out of your control.  Or, even worse, things that WERE in your control.

Life throws shit at people.  This is a fact.  As a parent, we want to shield our children from this shit.  We can't.  You can't protect your children from life.  The worst feeling in the world, though, is when the things that you so desperately want to protect them from, you had a major role in creating.  The helplessness that goes along with that position is beyond description.  Watching your child struggle with emotions and get put in the middle and be basically torn in two...yeah.  Sucks monkey balls is just the tip of the iceberg.

As a therapist, I know I can't do emotional work for others.  They have to process, they have to make the changes...no matter how much I WANT something to happen, there is that old saying: "You can wish in one had and shit in the other...see which one fills up first".  I can't take ownership of other's emotions, nor can I wave the magic wand I don't have (despite what my clients believe) and make them be what I think they should.  I can just listen and be there and provide limited direction.  All of which is mostly easy to do because I am not involved.  I didn't go through the whole sour milk stinking, negative sleep, crying right along with the baby thing with them.  I am outside, neutral, and they don't know what buttons to push.

If only it were that easy with your kids....

Monday, February 27, 2012

Trigger

What thoughts must have been going through his head, right before the finger went on the trigger?

What does it take to make someone actively contemplate taking another's life?

What more does it take to make someone act on those contemplations?

How tortured must someone be, to search out people to kill.

How heart-wrenching for the families, friends, survivors, witnesses, staff.

Tragedy all over.  Tonight, sounds of sobbing where there should be a parent being ignored by their teenager.  Sounds of grief, of heartbreak, when there should be sounds of life.

Death, when there should be life.

People will start to point fingers.  Who missed what.  Who should have done what.  It has already started.

The parents will be blamed.  Society in general will be blamed.  Liberals will call for more gun control; conservatives will call for a reversion to the days when corporal punishment was allowable and preferred in school.

Yet...none of this answers that basic question of why.  And what.  And how.

Words escape me at this moment.  It is a parent's worse nightmare.  And so close to home.

Just a trigger pull away. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Zombies

I had a conversation tonight with Elizabeth that concerned rabid zombies with feelings in a Will Smith movie that I am convinced was an allegory for the so-called homosexual agenda in the US.  A dog died in this movie, apparently after turning gray and losing all of its hair.  I am not convinced that this dog did not have just rabies and mange vs. being infected by zombies, but whatevs.  I also learned that becoming  a zombie is comparable to most communicable diseases in that it is spread through contact with saliva and blood.  It involved a thorough discussion of what we would do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse as well as much detail about the comparison between zombies and gay people.  Zombies don't want to change, y'all...they just want to be allowed to be who they are.   (And for the record, I was not comparing gay people to zombies; I was merely using this as a teaching moment to illustrate to my child how easy it is to rationalize the marginalization of an entire group of people when you lump them into the "other" category.  I do occasionally parent responsibly...)

These random products of our somewhat twisted minds; this conversation that would concern some people were they to overhear us...these are the things that I enjoy the most about the teenage years.  The developing adult sense of humor, the ability to appreciate satire and to engage in witty back and forth banter.  It on occasion makes the sullenness, the lability of mood, the general attitude of OMFG MOM!  YOU CAN'T DO ANYTHING RIGHT AND IF I WOULD NOT GET GROUNDED FOR LIFE I WOULD TOTALLY TELL YOU TO FUCK OFF! much more bearable.

In these moments, I get a glimpse of the woman that my daughter is going to become.  I see beyond the torture that is the adolescent era to the strong, intelligent, and capable adult that will be.  And I think, "I was responsible for this.  I helped create this.  I helped shape this."

Truly, a humbling experience. 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Texting II

Me:  Wanna come watch me play in a concert in May?

E:  Play what?

Me:  My violin.

E:  Oh duh ya sure but if it sucks I want my money back! jk

Me:  It is free. Nice try tho.

E:  Well I will still expect some kind of compensation if it goes down in flames.

Me:  I'll spot you a ride home then

E:  Oh, OK, that will work!

The goal here, people, is to minimize the decades of therapy required...

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Dukan

As I have mentioned before I went on the Dukan diet Memorial Day weekend of last year.  I have lost over 50 lbs.  I feel better than I ever have (well, except for the raging cold I currently have, courtesy of my children who still feel that the directive to share means germs as well.  Assholes...).  My joints don't ache nearly as much, I have more energy, I have learned how to cook with spices and flavor again, and I have realized that, like the majority of people out there, I don't eat enough vegetables.

That being said....I don't recommend the diet, really.  Why?  It is super restrictive.  Ironically, that is one of the things that really appealed to me about it.  They tell you exactly what you can and cannot eat.  I did not want to have to count calories, or carbs, or grams of fat.  I was given a list of foods I could have, and I could eat as much as I wanted to off said list.  Removal of having to think was a big part of the appeal for me.  Especially someone who tends towards emotional eating, which we all know=carbs.  The grains I was consuming then contributed to my flares, which made me feel like crap, which then led to more emotional eating.  It was a nasty cycle.  And I finally broke it.

I will soon be "allowed" to re-introduce grains back into my diet.  I have to admit, I am a little scared about this.  It is almost like an addiction for me...will I totally lose control?  I surely don't want to gain that 50 lbs (well, 60, once I lose this last 10 to get to my goal weight...).  Will that be motivation enough for me to keep up my progress?  I am also just scared that re-introducing grains will make me flare again.  Don't think I have not cheated on this diet...I TOTALLY have.  When I did, the aches I got the next day didn't really make it worth it.  Seeing the scale jump, say, 5 lbs, even if it was mostly water weight, wasn't worth it either.  I just FEEL better.  Really, that is what I set out to do.  Feel better.

Has this cured my Sjogren's?  Fuck no.  Do I feel I can manage it better now?  Absolutely.  At this point in my life, that is what I want.  I will never be a model.  My belly is ravaged from my children and sports a C-section scar.  My breasts are pretty saggy without a good bra.  I have stretch marks and bruise super easily.  A few years ago, all of that would have really bothered me.  Apparently I grew up...because now, I just feel better (well, mostly; I still have bad days...) and that is all that I want.  The looking better thing is a bonus.

Though I still maintain that it is totally unfair for a person who has such difficulty having children to have child-bearing hips...maybe I have not grown up that much after all :p




Monday, January 30, 2012

Conversations VII

Elizabeth, to Charles: You have glitter on your face.
Charles: So do you.
Me, to Elizabeth: Are you a vampire?
E: You don't know that? Way to parent there, mother.

Touche.
Elizabeth:  What if I grew a mustache  like this? (takes hair and holds it over lip)                                                                                          
Me:  I think I should get you one to wear for Halloween.
E:  Halloween?  I was more thinking for every day purposes.