The world as seen through the eyes of an exhausted, caffiene addicted, homeschooling, atheist mama.

Archive for the ‘Parenting’ Category

A Very Long Night and a Very Exhausted Mom

When Hubby is out of town, I sleep terribly.

It’s not so much that I’m afraid something will happen and I won’t have anyone to protect us.  I’m pretty sure that our two big dogs would do a fine job of chasing off an invader. Mostly it’s just that I miss him and I can’t seem to get my brain to slow down and rest if he’s not around. I guess I better get over that crap sometime soon. I have weeks to go before he comes back!

So last night I stayed up way too late watching crappy shows from Netflix and eating way too much chips and salsa. When I finally did hit the sack, it was about 1am. I’m a 10pm kinda gal, and I’ve even been known to go to bed at 9, so one o’clock in the morning is friggin’ late for me.

I did a door and window check, I turned off the lights, and I  looked at Tippee:

Look at her! She’s so cute and asleep.

and wondered if I should make he get off the couch and go to her crate or if I could trust her all night. The last time we tried leaving her out, she ended up leaving smelly brown pools of watery poo in the laundry room.

Well, she must have been sick last time. She does’t normally need to poop at night, much less have diarrhea . I’ll give her a chance.

I woke her up, sent her to her crate, shut the door, but didn’t lock it. I just made a show of shutting it. Then I went to bed and hoped to fall asleep sometime in the near future.

A couple of hours later, I feel hot breath on my face and there’s little Tippee, happy as can be. But something feels wrong, so I get up for a drink of water and a quick poo check.  And yep. She did. At least this time she wasn’t sick, but boy was it smelly. Out come the plastic bags, out come the paper towels and the heavy duty cleaners I never use because I don’t like chemicals, and I get to work. I double bagged the mess and put it in the garage for later disposal. Tippee  got sent to bed and I made a huge show of locking her leaky butt up for the night.

I went back to bed and chased sleep for about 45 minutes before I fell back into a deep sleep.

At 6:30 Harvey:

Actually, this is a pretty common look for him. He’s the biggest goof ball ever.

Starts whining. And barking. Because he’s a responsible doggie who doesn’t poo all over the house, he gets the privilege of sleeping where ever the hell he wants. When he started to cry and bark, he happened to be on the floor right next to me. If you’ve never heard a barrel-chested, 120lb dog bark at 6:30 in the  morning, you’re missing quite the adrenaline rush. It’s a deep, window rattling, floor shaking WOOOF of a bark. I thought for sure he’d wake BB.

I toss the covers off and follow Harvey to the back door where he starts scratching. I let Tippee out of her crate and let them both out to pee.

Have I told you that Tippee is a freak? Have I mentioned that she is afraid of absolutely everything? I mean really, everything. Well last night the wind blew a plastic bag into her usual potty spot and she stood on the porch growling and barking at it like it was Bigfoot or The Creature From the Black Lagoon.  I’m standing there in pajamas shushing  her, soothing her, trying to get her to shut the hell up already. But she’s too afraid of The Zombie Bag From Hell (it turned out to be a Wal Mart bag, so she was kind of right–it did come from hell).

Jeez, Tippee. Fine…I’ll go get the bag so you can go potty.

So out I go, across the dirt and gravel in my back yard to get a bag out of her potty spot so she’ll shut the heck up and pee.  On my way back the porch, where said freakish dog stands cowering and growling, I realize I had left the back door open and Sofe:

This cat is the dumbest cat ever. Tippee is Mensa worthy compared to this cat.

decides that it’s the perfect time to go on the lam. Awesome.

She runs around the side of the house  and hops the fence while I hobble and limp, barefoot, across the gravel so I can get back to the house and hopefully catch her in the front yard.

I don’t even stop for shoes, I just rush out the front, pick a direction, and run. Fortunately, I find her by the trash can.

But seeing the trash can reminds me that it’s garbage day and I had failed to put out the trash and recycling because it was so windy when I went to bed.

I pick up the world’s dumbest cat, toss her inside, quickly look for my shoes, which I can’t find, and grab the recycling. Then I remember the poop in the garage and I grab it too. And, still barefoot, I haul the trash and recycling to the curb.  At this point, my feet are throbbing, I’m relatively pissed off and extremely tired.

I bring the dogs back inside and fall into bed without even bothering to lock Tippee up.

Harvey hops right into to bed with me. Tippee follows his lead and curls up on my feet, and we all three fall into a deep sleep.

Two  hours later, BB:

Coolest kid ever!

comes in with a smile on his face and a mug of coffee in his hand. A wonderfully dark, perfectly sweetened mug of coffee that he made just for me. He ground the beans, he added the water, he made a pot of coffee just for me…because he loves me and saw that I was really tired.

Luckiest mom ever!

Yeah, he absolutely made the whole not-getting-any-sleep thing worth it.

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On Being a Mother and a Daughter

Four years ago, I cut my mother out of my life. I have mentioned that I talked to her while planning my brother’s funeral. Of course, I had to. Stuff needed to be done and I had to have some of her input. Her son had just died and she needed help planning things. My brother had just died and I needed to take care of things in a way that I felt would honor him. I went out there to lay my brother to rest, not to mend fences or re-hash the past. I drove 12 hours through barren dessert for a reason that was much bigger than her or me. I went out there with the intention of putting all of my own baggage and shit aside for a few days so that I could focus on the task at hand.

But I hadn’t spoken to her in years, and I’ve spent those years agonizing over whether or not I did the right thing in telling her to back off. I spent those years mourning for the mother I needed but knowing I’d never have her, no matter how many chances I gave. I spent those years fighting the demons of my childhood–trying like hell to be the kind of mother she wasn’t. Trying like hell to be the mother that my son deserves.

When you grow up in an abusive home,  that abuse is always inside you, just looking for a crack in the armor so it can get out. As a mother, I’ve struggled with finding appropriate ways to deal with appropriate childhood behavior in my son. The appropriate reaction to a kid who doesn’t want to eat his salad is not to throw him into a wall or force the food down his throat. Hell, even toddler could tell you that. But that reaction is in me and it takes a lot of work and self reflection not to let that reaction out. When you grow up hearing that you can never count on anyone, that everyone will eventually let you down, that you should never get your hopes up because you’ll always be disappointed, when you you grow up hearing  “get the fuck outta my sight” , “you ruined my life” and “it’s your fault”, you start to take it to heart; you start to believe “it” is your fault, whatever “it” may be. You start to believe that since your own mother felt you ruined her life, then clearly you must not be worth much to anyone else. You start to think you are worthless, ugly, stupid, unlovable, unloved. When you grow up knowing these things are truth, it’s hard to back up enough to realize that what you know as truth is nothing but a pack of lies that were spoon-fed to you so that you wouldn’t struggle, so that you wouldn’t question, so that you wouldn’t complain or cry. They were lies that were spoon-fed to you so that the one who was really and truly responsible could absolve herself of responsibility.

It has taken years of anguish and hard work to realize that I wasn’t at fault and that putting up clear boundaries wasn’t selfish or wrong, it was a necessary step in becoming the mother I want to be–the mother my son deserves.

While driving through all that barren land, between calls to the funeral home and family members, I was trying to wrap my head around seeing my mother again. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared shitless. I didn’t know how I would feel or react when I saw her. The ball had been in her court of a long time and she never bothered picking it up and tossing it to me. God, I was terrified that seeing her would make me feel like a small child again. I was so afraid that I’d just fall right back into the role of trying to please and appease, knowing perfectly well that I would fail.

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried. Apparently, all the agonizing I had done over the years since I cut her out had been part of a healing process. I saw her, I hugged her, I let her hug me, and I took care of business. But I never felt that rush of guilt I expected to feel. I also didn’t feel an overwhelming need to mend the fence, either. I pretty much felt…empty. I felt like  the desert that I drove through–capable of sustaining life, but just barely.

A desert landscape

I was capable of being gentle with her, I was capable of  being kind and compassionate as she dealt with her guilt and grief. I was able to be patient as she tried to find the words she needed to express her wishes or thoughts concerning my brother. I was capable of keeping things on task as we sorted through his stuff and chose clothes for him to wear. I was capable of holding my tears back so she could shed hers. It turns out, I was totally capable of being a wonderfully decent human being.

But I was incapable of falling into those old patterns. I was incapable of just forgiving and forgetting. I was incapable of pretending that my brother’s death was the thing that would make me see that life is fragile; life is tenuous and unpredictable, so I need to patch things up with the only mother I’ll ever have, before it’s too late.

My brother’s death helped me to see that by letting go of my mother, I have become a better mother. His death has showed me that I am a strong and healthy woman in part because I was able to put up boundaries with my mother. My brother’s death helped me to see what my son and husband couldn’t: It’s not my fault. I am not a horrible, vile, evil person for making the choices I have made. I am a good mom, I am a good wife, and I deserve all the love my family has to give me. I deserve to be happy, I absolutely deserve everything she taught me I didn’t deserve.

I wish her well in her life. I wish her happiness and love. I wish her health and friendship. And if or when she can do the things I need in order to have her a part of my life, I will be here. The ball is still in her court, I’ve just stopped caring whether or not she throws it my way.

I’m With Stupid

When I was about nine or ten, I had a favorite shirt that I wore everywhere. I wore it to bed, I wore it to school, I wore it to the store…Hell, I’m pretty sure I even tried to wear it to my grandparents scary, tongue-speaking, hands-laying-on, rolling on the ground with the love of Jesus church.

Even decades after it was lost or left behind somewhere, I remember exactly what it looked like; exactly what it felt like. It was positively the bestest shirt ever. Wait, not just ever. EVAH!! It was a soft blue tank top with two-inch shoulder straps. On the front was an iron-on decal of a yellow diamond with a Left Turn Arrow and the caption: “I’m With Stupid”.

I'm with stupid

Oh, my god. I can’t even explain how much I loved this shirt. When I was in the fourth grade, I wore it so often that my teacher (Mrs. What’s Her Name) asked me if I had any other clothes at home. This shirt was a warning bell to her that something wasn’t right at home–mainly because I wore it in November in Colorado. She worried for the little me that wore it like a security blanket.

I remember wearing it and walking to 7-11 with my little brother, who couldn’t yet read. I made him stand to the left as we walked, and he knew the arrow was pointing at him, but he didn’t know what the shirt said. Being the big sister that I was, I told him it said “This person is awesome!!!”. Poor kid totally believed me.

When I hit my twenties, I told a boyfriend about this shirt and we had a damn jolly good laugh over it. How funny it was that he had a girlfriend (sometimes fiance) who had parents trashy enough to let her walk around in a shirt like this! Oh! Dear, sweet, Momseye, what would have happened to you if I hadn’t come into your life to show you how fucked up you were as a kid? How adorably white trash you were!

This boyfriend (sometimes fiance) and I didn’t really mesh and we most certainly didn’t make it past the boyfriend (sometimes fiance) stage. But when BB saw this shirt at Target and just had to buy it, I thought of him and his mockery. I thought of little me and my adoration for the snarky, and I let him buy it. Well, Hubby and I agreed to let him buy it.

And he wears it proudly; A look of devious satisfaction on his face as he suckers someone  (Dad) into standing next to him. Now the message is tempered with Mickey Mouse, but the feeling of power and strength it brings to the wearer isn’t.

I can’t wait for the day that someone holds a camera and takes a picture of me with my son, his shirt proudly proclaiming that “I’m With Goofy!”

Goofy and his son

And Hubby, I absolutely love you for letting your son feel the awesome feeling of pride and power he got from “tricking” you into posing with him. You are an amazing dad. I love you–Goofy (tee-hee!)

Guilt and forgiveness

I got a call from my grandmother today.  She told me that my mother was in the hospital because “she’s depressed and had a nervous breakdown”.  She asked me if I can forgive my mother and get back in touch with her, to have a real mother-daughter relationship.  I can’t even express how much this pisses me off.  My mother has had 35 years to build a mother-daughter relationship with me and she always chose the drugs and men over a relationship.  Why should I suddenly feel all warm and fuzzy about her now that she’s been hospitalized?    Actually, she’s not even in the hospital anymore; she was released yesterday.  Oh, and apparently I should allow that woman back into my life because she’s being punished enough by her own guilt.  What am I supposed to say “Oh, gee…I didn’t realize she’s depressed and feels guilty for the way she’s always treated me.    That makes the black eyes and beatings a-okay now”.

I’m glad if she feels guilt.  She should feel terrible, soul-crushing remorse for her actions as a parent.  But I don’t think she really, genuinely feels badly.  She’s always been prone to depression around the holidays;  they make her feel alone and empty.  My dad’s birthday is Dec. 6th and the anniversary of his death is in January, and I’m sure that adds to her depression.  But if this is the same “depression” she had when I was a kid, it’s just another excuse to drink and drug her way to oblivion until it all passes.  I’m certain that by February she’ll forget all about this crushing guilt she’s whining to my grandmother about.  If I open the door *again* to a relationship with her, I’m also opening the door to more pain and disappointment.  I don’t know that I can do it.

My grandmother did a lot of crying.  She told me  how much it hurts her that I’m not speaking to my mother and how it’s just better to forgive her.  Forgive.  Forgive.  Forgive.  Why does everyone use that fucking word all the time?  What does that word mean?  Does it mean that I tell her I’m not bothered or upset about the shit hole that was my childhood?  Does it mean that I don’t mention any of it to her?  That I can’t ask her questions to make sense of things?  Does it mean that she’s absolved and can have a clear conscience?  To forgive her gives me power that I don’t want.  I don’t want her to need forgiveness or anything else from me.  Her demons are hers to exorcise.  By saying “I forgive you” I take possession of her pain so she doesn’t have to deal with it anymore. What I took away from that conversation is that my mother is being punished enough by her own guilt, therefore I need to forgive her and make her life a little easier.  What I didn’t hear was that she was being accountable for her actions then and now.

What they, my mother and grandmother, don’t understand is that I’m not choosing to hold a grudge or dwell in the negative.  More than anything I want to forget the pain and abuse and replace those memories with positive ones.  But we are only raised one time.  Parents only have one shot at raising their children and like it or not, kids don’t always turn out fine.  The lessons we learned in our childhoods will always be with us, whether they are positive or negative.  The way I was raised will always live inside me.  It doesn’t matter how hard I try to be and do better, I will always be an child abuse survivor.  And as sickening as it is, I can feel my mother’s reactions welling inside me when BB is being difficult.  I try so hard not to repeat the patterns of my childhood.  I don’t hit him, I try not to yell at him, I try to understand where he’s coming from and to meet his needs appropriately, but my mother is always there and sometime I fail miserably at being the mom I want to be.  Just a little while ago I got so mad at him that I threw an orange against the wall.  He’s never seen me lose it quite like that before so he freaked out and started crying and said he’d never feels safe around me again.  I went and apologized to him, but he wants nothing to do with me.  I have to believe he knows that I’d never hurt him, but I have to live with the knowledge that he’ll most likely always remember the time his mother went ape-shit and threw an orange against a wall.  I could ask him to forgive me but even if he did it wouldn’t change that, for a moment, he was terrified of his mother.  I could tell my mother that all is forgiven, but that won’t change anything but the way she feels.

I told my grandmother that I didn’t want her in the middle so if my mother had anything to say to me she could write me a letter and tell me herself.   It would be wonderful if this is what I have been waiting for my whole life; if she’s realized the enormity of her loss and she has decided to clean herself up and be a mother to me and a grandmother to my boy.  But as she always said “You can’t trust no one”.    I’m not even convinced she’ll take the time to write me the letter, but I guess time will tell.

It happened without my noticing

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how I’ve become different from what I always thought I’d be when I was younger.  Oh, sure, I had the usual thoughts of being a famous novelist or kick-ass bounty hunter-what kid doesn’t?  But while I imagined tackling down the bad guy or posing for jacket photos, I knew those were pipe dreams and childish fancy. 

 And I grew. 

 I discovered that I loved working with children, and I discovered a love for the Montessori Method.  I decided I was going to get my Montessori certification and never have kids of my own.  I sat back and judged, sometimes quite harshly, parents in my preschool for making “alternative” health care decisions for their kids.  Nursing till the baby is 1? Eww.  You want me to give him chamomile for a toothache?  As in the tea?  Wait it comes in a pill? Ooookaaayyy.  You’re kidding.  Seriously, you’re not going to demand antibiotics for that cold?  What are you, negligent?  Good night, Irene, why have kids at all?!

And then I grew.  I got married and then SURPRISE found out I was pregnant 7 days after the wedding.  I was still working towards getting my certification, and I still had strong opinions.  But now that I was going to have a baby, my opinions were based on what I would or would not do as a parent.  My baby would not sleep in bed with us…it would spoil him.  Of course I’d nurse him, but only for about six months.  After all, if they can ask for it, they’re too old to need it, right?  There is no way I’d pick him up and hold him all the time…that would ruin him and trap me.  If he ever got sick, I’d be damn sure to rush him to the doctor to get him some medicine right away, but of course, I wouldn’t be one of “those” overbearing, hyper-sensitive, over-reacting parents who calls the Dr. for every sniffle.  No, I’d have balance, clarity and levity on my side. While I knew I’d never be named Mother of the Year, I did figure I’d at least get Mom of the Hour.

Then I grew.  BB was born and my husband and I raised hell in the hospital because they wanted him in the nursery all night and we wanted him with us.  We left sooner than they thought we should because we were ready to get on with our lives as a family.  That first night in our home with our new baby was surreal.  I couldn’t stop looking at him and holding him.  I couldn’t imagine laying him down in that expensive crib we bought and then sleeping in another room.  But I had my convictions and I wasn’t going to back down from them.  When I couldn’t stay awake any longer, I took my sleeping newborn to his room slid him out of my arms and placed him in his crib.  I felt empty and wrong, but I went to my own bed and resolved to force myself to deal with the guilt.  After all, he was safe, he was loved, he was fed, and he was asleep.  What did it matter to him if he was in bed with me or not?  After a few minutes, Hubby declared that it was ridiculous to have him so far away when he’d been with us for so many months, and then, to my great relief, he got up and brought BB to bed.  And that’s pretty much where he stayed for the next several years.  Before I knew it, my baby was teething and I didn’t know what to do.  His pediatrician (yes, I called the Dr. about teething…) suggested I give him some chamomile teething tablets.  I did, but with a degree of skepticism.  To my surprise, they worked!  But still, I’d never be one of those herb giving, wacko, pseudo hippie moms.  No siree.  These tablets came from Walgreens so they must not be too alternative.  When he hit six months I decided that nursing was great and we’d keep on going.  We introduced solids.  Homemade baby food.  I was heading down a path I didn’t even know was there.

When he was two, my other mom friends started thinking about preschools for their kids.  I did too.  I figured that I would just get a job in a Montessori school and BB would go there too.  Of course I’d need to find a way to get him to nap without nursing to sleep…but that could be done.  Later.  Maybe.

And I grew.

When he was almost four I was offered a full time position in a well respected Montessori school in town.  They would take BB and it would be ideal.  No, he didn’t need preschool, but soon enough he’d be in kindergarten and it’d be a good thing to get him going to school a little early.  Get him used to it.  But I couldn’t do it.  It felt as wrong to me as putting that two day old baby in a crib. It just wasn’t who I was.  So I turned down the offer and decided to homeschool him for the preschool years.  Only two years, right?  No problem.  Preschool is just icing anyway. 

Then he grew.  He turned four.  Then five.  Five.  Kindergarten age.  For five years I had this wonderful, kind, smart, funny, sweet child with me day in and day out.  Was I really expecting to cart him off to school all day out of the blue?  School registration came and went and BB never stepped foot in a kindergarten class.  It felt all wrong to send him.  We had a system that was working and I didn’t want to fudge with it.  If it’s not broken, don’t fix it.  He’s six and a half now and at this point I don’t anticipate ever sending him to school.  But, what I’ve learned about myself is that I never really know.  Some day he may ask to go to school, or circumstances may change and there won’t be other options.  I hope nothing ever does, but I’m prepared if something changes.

BB is a really healthy kid, and I’m grateful for that.  But he has been really sick a couple of times.  The most recently was just a few weeks ago.  And guess what.  I gave him herbs.  And tea.   I did not call a Dr. demanding antibiotics.  And he got better.

As I sit here at midnight, sick cat in my lap (I’ve never even liked cats.  I’ve always been a dog person) I hope that he starts responding to the medicine the vet gave him soon.  But I have to be honest and say that she is an amazing holistic vet.  A vet who sent us home with. . . herbs.

He gets it from his father

Hubby love the theatre.  Loves it so much he spells it theatRE instead of theater like most people. BB, it seems, has also developed a love for performance.  Lord knows he didn’t get that gene from me, so I can only assume that’s something he got from his dad.

The poor kid was sick all last week, but he really wanted to audition for A Mirical on 34th Street this weekend.  As luck (and some wonderful tinctures) would have it, he was well enough to attend the last day of auditions yesterday.  He was still kinda under the weather and certainly not at his best, but he was in high spirits and was absolutely adorable and confident.  He didn’t show any signs of nervousness that one would expect from a first time auditioner, and he later told me “Anyway, what’s the point in being nervous?  I had fun at the audition and that’s what it’s about”.  Wise kid.  He gets that from his mother.  As we left, we were told call backs would happen later that night, so we went home, grilled some hot dogs and decorated the house for Halloween.

A few minutes before dinner we got the call, and he was cast.  Tonight is the first rehearsal and BB is so proud of himself and so pleased to be going to this “very important actors meeting”.  Looks like I’ll be getting to know the staff of the community theatre pretty well.  Currently, Hubby is assistant directing a production for them and he’s up there M-F  6-9.  BB will be up there 3x per week from 6:30-8:30.  My ultimate hope is that someday Hubby and BB can do something together.  I think that would be an experience they’ll both cherish for the rest of their lives.

I’m really proud of my kid.  Not because he was cast, but because he was brave enough to audition to begin with.  There is no way you could have dragged me to an audition when I was a kid.  Not even with the promise of a million new books.  I was too fearful and filled with too much self doubt and loathing. But BB, I’m learning, isn’t me.  He’s not like I was as a kid because he doesn’t have to be.  He has a vastly different childhood and the result is that he’s a sweet, smart, funny, brave, confident and wise child.  Sometimes I look at him and actually see that glow of childhood around him.  I hope that he will carry that distinct glow for the rest of his life.

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