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Saturday, June 21, 2014

Relaxation

This year's vacation involved going down into the mountains.  It was a totally different experience from Hilton Head last year.  Mostly because there was no sand to exacerbate eczema this year.  And also because the little girls are steadily getting better at traveling.  Granted, Charlie did her share of whining in the car, but on the way home we were able to make it the whole 8 hours without stopping for an extended period of time.

It was as close to a perfect vacation as I could get, really.  Busy enough that I was not bored, slow enough that we did not have to rush around and feel stressed.  I went ziplining and go carting and went to places like the Dixie Stampede and Clingman's Dome.  I made fun of (mostly in my head, because my mother was with me.  I do have some sense of decency.  Sometimes) the blatant Christianity that was pushed as well as the southern pride and male privilege that was rampant.  I will admit that I called a huge cross a lightning rod, and to my mother to boot, but I figure that that joke would be the least likely of my sins to take me to hell anyways so it was totally worth it.

We went on this vacation with my niece and nephew, my sister, sister in law, brother in law, and mother.  It was quite amusing to watch Halle, my niece, and Charlie interact.  It was reminiscent of the sorority girls that they will be someday.  A lot of stumbling around, consuming lots of drinks and junk food,  running around naked or in their bathing suits asking to get sprayed down with water, and vacillating from "You are my best friend cousin EVER"  to "You're mean!" before finally passing out in someone's bed.

When we got home, though, the change in Charlie was noticeable.  I don't know if it was because I was more relaxed, she was more relaxed, or if she was just fucking with me...but she was very sweet.  Now this kid loves to be a helper, don't get me wrong...but it is usually in the capacity of wanting to learn to be totally independent vs any sort of altruistic tendencies.  Today was different though.  She was caring, attentive, and far less intense than she usually is.  She went from "don't fuck with my sister or I'll cut you" to "I'm going to help my sister myself".

It was a refreshing change, to tell the truth.  Usually Charlie is firmly convinced that the world is out to get her through such devious means as forcing her to eat vegetables and to do things like sleep and share.  Tonight, she went out of her way to be nice to Alexis.  She shared my phone with Alexis to play games, cutting her turn short so Alexis could go.  She went and got Alexis a glass of water so I did not have to get up.  She was giving her sister hugs.

It is amazing how getting away from it all can change a person. I feel so incredibly lucky that I have the means (well, sorta) to take the time off to spend with my family.  Soon, Elizabeth will be going away to school.  Alexis will not want to spend time with us.  Then will come Charlie.  I am trying to treasure the time we have as a family in our day to day lives as well as on vacation.  They are short lived, indeed.  So yes, I am going to grab a hold of the feeling of relaxation and make memories with my children while I can.  I am going to renew my soul so I can get it sucked out again at work.  And I am going to grip onto a changed child, even if it might only be due to a desire to mess with Mommy mentally.

I am going to relax, dammit.  It's just no one told me it was going to be so much work.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Hope

After Gabe's death, some of my very dear friends got together and sent me a flowering myrtle tree to plant.  Someone else had given me a rose, but they tend to commit suicide when they see me (and in fact, I did manage to kill it off...) so having something that I was not likely to kill was nice.

The tree has provided us beautiful blossoms every summer.  It is a lovely reminder that my son is not forgotten.

After this winter, though, I was not so sure it would make it.  This winter was brutal, cold, and brutally cold.  It was a winter that a lot of people, myself included, struggled to make it through. There did not appear to be any new growth on the tree.  It seemed to have succumbed to the cold.

I started to clear away the dead wood as best I could.  It left a bunch of pointy sticks that I was going to grab a shovel to dig up.  The tree was dead anyways; why leave something in the ground to potentially impale my children (or, let's be honest, myself) on?

Then I saw it:





Hidden amongst the dead was new growth.  New life.  Tiny, persistent, struggling to get air and light and water...but alive.

A new reminder that life goes on.  After I lost my son, I begged my husband to not let me go crazy.  I seriously feared that I would go off the deep end.  One might argue that I did, but I say I was this wacky before.  I am talking the kind of crazy where I would take out my whole family and then myself.  The kind of crazy where I would dump his ashes out and smear them all over me.  The kind of crazy that people fear when they hear the words "mentally ill".

I know better now.  The mentally ill are not to be feared.  They are no more likely to hurt you than anyone else; in fact you are more likely to be harmed by a loved one who is not mentally ill.  I have a mental illness; and I abhor violence and probably couldn't hurt a flea.

That new growth, coming up out of the ugly, pointy, dead wood...hope.  That is what kept me going on.  That is what keeps all of my clients going on; why I do what I do day in and day out despite people demeaning my profession; despite the stigma; despite the fear and desperation and frustrations.  

It was what kept me going after Gabe died.  It is what keeps me running outside when it rains and is sunny at the same time, looking for the rainbow.  It is what keeps me saying the same things day in and day out.

Hoping that it will sink in.  Hoping that it makes a difference.  Hoping that it will get better.

Because it does.  The new life will spring up from the carnage.  That it will be just as beautiful.  

That it will persevere.


Sunday, June 1, 2014

Growing

One of the best parts of being a parent is watching the process of your child growing.  You know, the enthusiasm that they show when they learn a new skill.  The amazement, the wonder.  Everything is brand new.  They are not jaded yet.  Your child sees and experiences things in a way that you don't.  Hell, in a way that you don't have time for, in between bills and laundry and having to feed and clothe them as well as make sure that the exploration of their universe does not include a little experiment on what a fork does when it goes into the outlet or what bleach does to Dorothy the goldfish.  We are too busy being focused on keeping the little explorers alive that we don't have time to appreciate the wonder that is that lovely three leaved plant over there.  We have to snatch their asses up before they roll in the poison ivy and make tea out of it.

Charlie is beginning to discover her literacy skills.  Which is both awesome and terrifying because, hey, she is starting to read and spell!  and FUCK, she now is starting to know how to read and spell!  When children start to learn this shit, a major mode of communication for the adults around them disappears and the ability to have an adult conversation or to talk about the children in front of them is decimated.  It is both a moment to be proud as well as a moment to slightly panic because that is one step closer to not being able to keep the lubricant out on the bedside table. "Mommy?  What's Ky Jelly taste like?  Why can't I eat it?  I want a peanut butter and jelly!"  You just know that they are going to go to your mother in law and complain about how Mom is hiding the new flavor of jelly in her room right next to the funny shaking rabbit and her police man fuzzy handcuffs...

The whole sex thing is slightly terrifying too.  I tend to be slightly (ok, way) liberal when it comes to these kind of discussions with my children because I firmly believe that knowledge is power and my girls sure as hell don't need to be popping a baby out at 16 like I did (even if that whole situation did turn out well for the both of us, surprisingly.  I thought for sure Elizabeth would have been in a mental institution by now with me as a mother...).  It still doesn't mean that I don't die inside a bit when I get questions like, "Can you have sex with more than one person at a time?" or "But why would you let Daddy put that in there?  That sounds gross..."

Elizabeth is currently taking a class where they get to bring home the baby that cries and you have to tend to it.  I suppose that this is an effort to scare the teens into abstinence by illustrating that parenting isn't all cute babies and whatnot.  I was cracking up looking at her sheet she had to fill out about when the baby cried and what the reaction was...99% of the time she was annoyed by it.  Guess that one learned her parenting skills from her mother (or this is directly related to what I was talking about above...).  Good thing she recognizes this and has informed me that I will not be getting grandchildren from her.  Anyways, she asked me to baby sit for this "kid" while she went to commencement this afternoon, so I get to play at being grandma for a bit.

I hope that in real life, any grandchildren I might get aren't as creepy as this thing is.  Seriously, this thing is like the devil baby.  I feel like I need to cross myself every time I handle the thing.  It's cry sounds like the hounds of hell are being summoned back to their lairs.  Plus, it's arms don't really bend so they are outstretched like it is beckoning you to come over to the dark side like some kind of diaper clad zombie:

 Come to me...I will eat your soul...

I think I will be scarred for a while from this experience.  I can only imagine what it's mother feels like, having to deal with the Infant of the Inferno.   If the school's objective was to scare teens into abstinence, I think that this would do it because after caring for this thing, I never want to have sex again and I have my tubes tied.

Could you imagine the stuff you would have to stop this child from doing?  "No, honey, you can't skin the cat and drink it's blood."  "No, sweetie, Daddy does not steal Mommy's soul when he puts the baby in her uterus."  Guess I should be happy with just having to walk into the other room when I want to say something adult to my husband.