Sunday, October 15, 2017

You Smell Like Babies and Wine

The things I overhear sometimes make me want to plug my ears and pretend to be somewhere else.

Like, for instance, yesterday.
We're in the car, driving to some god-awful rock shop so my oldest child can spend her allowance, when I hear the following exchange from the back seat:

Kid #1: "Ugh, you smell like a single Mom."

Kid #2 (blank stare, holding her new Baby Alive): "What?!"

Kid #1: "Yeah.  Like a single Mom.  Like babies and wine."

OK.  First of all, my 11 year-old does NOT smell like wine, unless day-old Capri-sun smells like lonely nights and Netflix... but what do I know?  Secondly, the baby smell?  That was the brand-new plastic/baby powder smell that toy manufacturers seem to think smells like an ACTUAL BABY.

What does this say about toy manufacturers?  And worst of all, what does this say about my beloved wine?  Maybe I'm sending the wrong signals here, if wine is equated with quiet desperation in my kid's eyes.

Maybe TOO MUCH has sunk in... does she see it as a panacea for the trials of parenthood?  That was never, ever my intention.

I'm going to be brutally honest here: I come from a long line of alcoholics.  I never knew it, not really, until I started researching my family history.  There are at least three generations of alcoholics, and three generations of death via lung disease (COPD/Emphysema) on my Dad's side.  It's scary.  Scary as hell.  God knows what happened before these generations, because most of it is lost to time....

I am not sure how to handle things.
There is also a long family history of severe anxiety, which I suspect my forefathers self-medicated, because they had no other options.

I know this feels like a digression from the subject at hand, and it probably is, to a degree. I just really hope that I'm not raising a new generation of people who think alcohol is the answer to anxiety.  I want to find a better way... I want to teach my kids more productive ways of managing negative emotions.  I don't want to pass on a shameful legacy.

I don't believe I'm an alcoholic, but I definitely believe that it's a slippery slope, and I could easily become one.  I don't want that for my kids.  I don't want it for anyone.

A lot of people are alcoholics because they are trying to manage something, bury something, or kill something... it becomes a coping mechanism.  They're the other half... the half that develops an addiction because of what it helps bury, rather than what it does for them.  I have seen it, and I don't ever even want my kids to glimpse it.

It's a weird, funny quip from a teenager, but yet, not.
It tells me that she maybe doesn't have the healthiest view of alcohol, and I need to change.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Just Grab The Pliers

So, last month I went to the dentist.

I've never really liked going to the dentist, so I wasn't overly thrilled about it, but I wasn't dreading it either.  I assumed I'd go in, get my teeth cleaned, get lectured about flossing, and get out.  Boom.  Done.

I was wrong.

They took a panoramic x-ray, and when the dentist looked at it he said "Um.  Do you have jaw pain?  Popping, or clicking noises, anything like that?"  Well, yeah... for years.  He says "I'm not surprised... your x-ray shows that your jaws are literally grinding bone on bone.  You need to see a TMJ specialist.  But not until AFTER we do the two fillings and two crowns you're gonna need."

SAY WHAT?  Crowns?

I come back for the crowns and fillings... they sedate me, and do their dirty work.  And... the pain starts in earnest.  A week later I go back to get my permanent crowns seated, and they put the kibosh on that when they learn that I'm still in 'round the clock pain.  Turns out, I didn't JUST need crowns, but root canals as well.  Fun stuff.  They refer me to an endodontist.

Said endodontist is out of network.  Because, of course.
I find two places that are local and in network.  The first doesn't 'do' root canals (alllrighty then) and the second schedules me for an appt. just days away!  Hallelujah!  I mention that I want sedation, so I have to go in for a consultation.  That was this very morning... my appointment for root canals had been scheduled for tomorrow morning.

I arrive.  I wait.
I wait some more.
I wait some more.

Finally the endo comes in, pokes and prods and says "Yep, you need root canals."
Then she says "Oh, um, you're grinding and clenching.  You need to see someone to get a mouth guard ASAP, your teeth have stress fractures."


Still, though, I'm getting my teeth fixed tomorrow, and my weeks of pain will be at an end!  Right?
WRONG.  The MENSA candidate who scheduled my initial appointment didn't get the memo that two root canals can't be squeezed into one appointment slot.  Their next available slot to accommodate two root canals?  10 EFFING DAYS from now.

I'm taking an Advil/Tylenol combo around the clock to keep the pain at bay, my stomach is a mess, and I have 10 more days to go.

I swear, a bottle of whiskey and pair of pliers are looking pretty darned good right now.

My innocent cleaning ended in this hot mess.  Root canals.  TMJ.  Stress fractures and mouth guards... eff this.  My mouth has betrayed me horribly.  After all the amazing food and drink I've gifted it over the years (I have the stomach to prove it), this is how it repays me?!


So, hey... if you run into me and I bite your head off (oh wait, I can't do THAT, can I) please know that it's not you, it's my dirty rotten traitor of a mouth making me mega-cranky.  Send painkillers.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Livin' For The Weekend

How is it already October?
Time has flown by in an utter whirlwind of 'stuff' that have made it seem like days, or weeks, rather than MONTHS since I last posted anything here.  (Not that it's at all unusual to go long stretches of time, it's just that this time it doesn't SEEM like a long time. Blah blah blah....)

Kiddos obviously started school, and this year it's Middle School for one and all!  (Or the only two mammals in the house who attend school, anyway.)

There's dance, violin lessons, theater, choir... performances to attend, popcorn to sucker people into buying, classrooms that need a responsible person to come in and wield an exacto-knife (really... have they met me?), appointments to make and keep, gear to buy, lunches to make, papers to keep track of (that I inevitably lose), and last minute picture day outfit vetoing to do.

Time flies when you're having fun, y'all.

I was remarking this morning that I'm really looking forward to the upcoming four-day weekend, and P looked at me with a look of confusion and said "WHY? The kids will be here, being human wrecking balls."

I just shook my head and said "I don't have to wake them up and do the morning crap for FOUR WHOLE DAYS!"

Our mornings look like this:

Me:  "Hey, good morning sweetie!  Time to wake up!"
(10 minutes later) "Seriously, kiddo.  Wake up."
(20 minutes later, in my "I will cut you" voice) "TIME TO GET UP."

Kids:  "I'm sooooooooo tired."

Me:  "Me too.  Up."
Me:  "What do you want for breakfast?"


(gets breakfast going)

Me:  "Have you brushed your teeth?"
         "Have you washed your hands?"
         "That's not appropriate, go change."
         "Seriously... TEETH."
         "What do you want for lunch?"
         "USE A TOWEL, FFS."
         "Get off the computer and brush your TEETH!"
         "Where's your backpack, it's not on the hook!"
         "Where's your water bottle?"
         "Did you take your medicine?"
         "I don't KNOW where your homework is, I didn't do it!"
         "Why didn't you eat your breakfast?"
         "Why are you eating a popsicle?  Now your lips are BLUE."
         "Go brush your hair again, there's a massive knot in the back."
         "Are you SURE you took your medicine?"
         "I DON'T KNOW where your shoes are, I don't wear them!"
         "I'm sorry you're phone isn't charged, but we HAVE TO GO."

Legit.  Maybe not every day, but a disproportionately large number of them.  So, yeah... a four day weekend is sounding like a pretty solid plan right about now.
It's good.  It's GOOOOOOOOD.  LOL!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Back From Vacation

The kids and I took a road trip this summer for the first time.  We drove from Austin TX, to Gastonia NC... 1200 miles one way, just the three of us.  We stopped in Fairhope AL to see family on the first leg of the trip, then stayed in NC for three weeks.

I wondered if I was crazy, honestly, but everything went so very well.  The girls were angels, the drive really didn't bother me, and we had loads of fun and adventures!  I would do it again in a minute.

We are back now, though, and I miss vacation.

Actually, more to the point, I miss home.  I miss NC more than I thought.

I miss knowing everything about the area where I live, always having someone around to talk to, always being included in outings, and being only a few hours from both the mountains and the beach. It can get mighty lonely living in a city where you only really know a handful of people, and in a state that is so big it takes you the entire day to drive across it (lookin' at you, Texas).

So, yeah... I'm a little bummed to be back in TX.  I miss my people, and my nice little home state.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

I'm Awake, Because This Parenting Thing Is HARD

It's nearly one o'clock in the morning, and even though I am bone-tired and utterly exhausted, I'm awake.

Tonight I took some cold medicine, and curled up in my bed with a book.  I was feeling sleep curling around the edges of my body, seeping into my bones, and dragging me into that peaceful place you only know when your eyes are closed and your brain is resting.  Was.  Then there was a knock at my door.

Kid 1:
"I don't know what's wrong with me.  I feel so depressed."

We've been so sick the last week, the two of us.  She's been on a new medicine, and it's not quite ingrained in my head yet that it's a fixture, and I MUST REMEMBER.  I've been so focused on getting her well from this monster cold that I completely spaced out on giving her this medicine - for days.  The medicine for her anxiety.  Great job, Mom.

I go upstairs to try to help in any way I can, soothe her, give her the meds, get her into a warm bath, etc.

Kid 2:
(stops me)
"Hey, Mama.  :(  I'm so lonely."

The kids have been having trouble finding common ground/getting along these days, more than ever. Their interests have diverged widely, one of them is in the clutches of puberty while one is still clinging to dolls, they fight, they hurl insults... it's been a rough ride lately.  This is VERY hard for Kid 2, who is incredibly sensitive, and craves the connection she's not getting.

I do what I can, promise that we will find a place tomorrow where she can get plenty of interaction with other kids her age.

The long and short of all this?
I feel like a failure.
That lovely sleep that was closing in on me was gone in a flash, replaced with worry, my mind tallying up all the many ways I'm screwing my kids up.

I love them so much it takes my breath away, but the emotional toll of parenthood sometimes makes me want to buckle.  I don't just feel badly for them, I FEEL it too.  I feel it, and I feel the weight of failure like a brick tied around my body, because I couldn't or didn't stop it.

I'm up in the early morning hours now, wondering how everyone else does it.

How do other parents weather this without drowning under the weight of the emotions?  How do they keep it together, and when they don't, how do they keep the worry and guilt from rendering them sleepless and anxious?

I never knew how lonely and emotionally taxing being a Mom could be.
I'm not really sure I would have believed it if someone had told me... at the very least, I wouldn't have grasped it, not really.  I've been through a lot, so I thought I was prepared.  I wasn't.  I'm not.  You're never prepared.  There's a saying that being a parent means having your heart walking around outside your body... there was never a more accurate statement.  I wasn't prepared for what it would feel like to have my heart walking around outside my body, unguarded, and not be able to protect it.

This is effing rough.  It's rough, and I'm awake, but I'm sure I'm not really alone.

I wonder how many other Moms are awake worrying, and beating themselves up over their failures tonight?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

"You, yourself, as much as anyone in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." - Buddha

How many times have I done something that diminished, devalued, or sabotaged myself?
So. many. times.

I have prostrated myself at the feet of people who didn't deserve my submission.
I have taken shit from people and gone back for more.
I have accepted apologies given insincerely.
I have accepted apologies that were never given.
I have allowed myself to be used by people I loved, because I wanted their love.
I have believed awful things people said about me.
I have believed that I'm not worthy of love, because love has failed me so spectacularly in the past.
I have talked badly about others to make myself feel better, or powerful.
I have drank to excess to avoid my bad thoughts about myself.
I have hidden under a million excuses, because I'm so afraid of failing.
I have rejected love from those who give it to me, because I'm afraid to become attached/get hurt.
I have accepted little more than scraps from people I cared deeply about, and told myself it was better than nothing.

This shit is horrible.

If my daughters came to me and confessed this, it would break my freaking heart.
Imagining my little girls thinking so little of themselves, or being so afraid that they would do the things I've listed, breaks my heart.

Frankly, I've always thought of the things on this list in terms of ME... what I can handle, what I can deal with, how much I can take.  A few times, I've let my mind wander to a place of 'what-if'... what if my girls were telling these things to me?  How would I feel? It didn't have the impact it should have, because it's a theoretical, I think.  But today, in the car, I thought:

"If my Mom really knew all these things, she would be so sad."

My Mom would be sad.  It's a concrete thing, not a theoretical.
I have done so many things, and diminished myself in so many ways, and my Mom would feel sad, and like a failure to know that her daughter has rolled over so many times, has internalized bad feelings about herself, and allowed fear to dictate so much of her life.

I don't want to do this anymore.
How can I be a strong role-model for my daughters if I'm hiding, afraid to love, afraid of confrontation, afraid of loss?

Turning this around is going to have to start with allowing those who don't really care for me to slip away, focusing on those who love me, and being brave enough to live my life on my terms.

I wish it was simple.
I wish I had my old, fearless ways back.
I wish I hadn't wasted so many years feeling diminished and unworthy.

It's not simple, but I have to believe that it's doable.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Mortality Sucks

Sad post today, y'all.

I'm feeling very shaken up and out of my comfort zone these days, especially today.  Mortality is a bitch, and every once and a while she likes to remind you that she's part of your story, too.

I'm staring 40 in the face (T-minus 4 months, 4 days) and mortality feels less and less like an abstract concept, and more like a waiting game, or a roulette wheel.

December 19, 2016 my sister lost her 20 year-old son, while he was in the Army, stationed in NY. The details of his passing aren't known, but he wasn't ill, wasn't in an accident, no foul play... just gone.  20 years old, and gone.  The unfairness of this just takes my breath away.  As a mother, it terrifies me and breaks my heart to the core - her baby is gone.  How do you keep breathing, walking, driving, working, paying bills, etc. when your baby is gone?  It is incomprehensible.

Today I received bad news about a friend.  This friend is almost exactly the same age as me (within months) and she had a heart attack a few months ago.  She was saved, and has been waiting for months to get stronger so that she can have a heart pump, and eventually a heart transplant (her only hope, as her heart only operates at less than 20% now).  Today she found out that neither the heart pump or the transplant are an option anymore.  Her body is too weak, and can't tolerate the drugs she would need to be on to make the procedures successful.

This woman, this friend of mine, is my age.  MY AGE, and she found out today that hospice care is how she will spend the remainder of her 6-9 months that the doctors estimate she will have until her heart gives up the fight.  6-9 months.

Did I mention that this woman has two little girls, younger than my own?  The news has knocked me for six - I fully expected her to triumph.  If anyone, I thought it would be her.  She's an amazing woman, a kind, compassionate soul, and a fighter.  I can't believe that she's been stripped of her tools to fight this.  6-9 months to live a life that should have been 40 years longer.  It's not fair.

The day after Christmas, my siblings' cousin died from cancer.
Rob was only in his 50's, and he's gone.  His daughter moved up her wedding day by a year so he could be there.  He fought hard, but it wasn't enough.  He died calling his dead uncle's name, with one of his four brothers at his side.

Several months ago, my oldest brother had a stroke - his second, according to doctors.  He's 58, and has had two strokes.  The fear I feel thinking about this makes me sick to my stomach.  We are so lucky that he survived and is recovering well... so lucky.  But my God, does it make you sit up and take notice.

Suddenly the things that happened to 'other people' are happening all around me, to those I know and love.  When I see these things happening one after the other, 40 doesn't seem so young anymore.  40 seems scary, because after that comes 50 and 60, and more risks, more health problems, more people that I know and love succumbing to the trials of life and health.

Life is so uncertain, y'all.  It's so beautiful, but so uncertain.
If you love someone, tell them.  Don't assume they know.  Do it for them, and for yourself, because life is short.