R E S P E C T (just a little bit, Big Daddy)

Yes, I know...this is the year I'm going to stop being divorced.  I KNOW. But when something happens that makes my divorce-senses tingle, I can't stop myself from writing about it. Kind of like when your teen has a big white pimple on his/her face. On one hand, you don't want to do anything to make their teen angst flare up..on the other hand, who hasn't spent a day walking around on sunshine like Katrina and the Waves only to get home, look in the mirror and see that you've been conversing with humans while sporting something that looks like a giant sesame seed on your chin/nose/forehead. I always tell them about it, along with saying, "Sometimes it's okay to pop them."

Where was I? OH YEAH.  Divorce. I'm really looking forward to the day it doesn't feel sharp and icky when my ex-husband's name pops up in an otherwise mild conversation. Talking about life and kids and other things and then his name comes up.  His given name, the name I used to write and say with love. 

This happened the other night at William's hockey game. I was chatting with a mom I hadn't met yet. Our boys are on the same team, and attend the same junior high. William has what I think is a darling and completely hetero boy crush on her son.  She and I have crossed paths, but never officially met. So she came up, introduced herself and we got to chatting.  She is a divorced mom herself, and we were talking a little bit about that (see, you can say you're not going to be divorced anymore but it's kind of like saying you're not going to have freckles anymore).  She said, "I've met XXX (Big D's real name) but not you..it's so nice to finally talk to you." That name..ugh. I felt my lips curl up into the snarl/grimace that occurs naturally whenever I hear his name...honest to God I never knew I did that until one of the kids pointed it out not too long ago: "Mom..how come whenever someone talks about Dad you make that face?"  Me: "What face?" and then one of my little carbon copies tried to show me.  It was a wake up call.  Now I notice it, and stop it.  Like I did when my new hockey mom friend said his name.

She stopped abruptly, put a hand on my arm and said, "I'm sorry.  I know things aren't good between the two of you."  I smoothed out the snarl/grimace and put on my EVERYTHING IS GREAT face. "Oh, don't be sorry. It's okay.  It's fine.  We've had some issues between us, it makes things uncomfortable."  She replied, "Mine too.  But for whatever reason we still act like friends.  In fact, XXX (Big Daddy) even said something to me about it."

I was torn, for a second. Part of me was thinking, "find out! find out what he said!" and the other part, the cool girl leaning against her locker holding her Trapper Keeper and Le Sport Sac was thinking: "who gives a crap! Talk about something else!".  Cool girl lost this one and I heard myself say: "Wow. What did he have to say?"

She said, "He came up to me after a game a couple of weeks ago and remarked how impressed he was that my ex and I have a good relationship.  He said, 'Jenny and I don't speak at all.  I really respect the fact that you two are friendly'".

Cool girl wrestled the controls away from the other one and I simply said, "Hmm. Interesting.  Hey, we definitely need to hang out sometime."  Our conversation continued down an ex-free path, plans were made and we parted with a big hug. 

But I couldn't stop thinking about what she had said.  I was even inspired to sit down and write a little bit about it that night, only to abort that post in favor of taking the high road and all of that Not Divorced stuff. 

I thought I had pretty much forgotten about it until last night.

For some reason, William started talking about what it's like for him when he visits Big Daddy's house.  He said how different it is, how at my house we all end up in the same room, talking or reading or watching something together.  Like a family.  And how at his dad's house, it's not like that. He said, "I spend literally every minute down in the basement."  Then he dropped this in my lap:

"They got rid of our bedroom (the room he and Henry shared) and made it a playroom for the baby.  We don't even have beds anymore."

I am certain that my snarl/grimace was in full force, and I was ready to pounce.  Then my sweet and loving and oh-so-Switzerland child, Henry chimed in:  "Shut up, William! We do too have beds. Stop telling Mom this stuff." Henry has a heart the size of the Goodyear Blimp. He's so loyal and loving and diplomatic..he is the one kid, out of four, who has never, ever tried to play us off of each other or said a single ill word against either one of us. This talk of things that had to do with his other parent infuriated him. William muttered something about beds and basements and "not a bedroom" and then I declared, "Conversation over."

But, the conversation raged on inside my head. The talk I'd had with my new hockey mom friend kept coming back to me. Especially the part about how Big Daddy "respected" her friendly ex relationship. Big Daddy, and the word 'respect'. It struck me as ironic that a man who has shown so little respect for his ex wife, and for his own children, is able to respect something like another divorced couple's public behavior.

Respect?  Does he know what that word means?  I have to wonder where the respect was when he decided to start a relationship while we were married. When he would come home at two, or three, or four in the morning and angrily throw his shoes on the floor instead of answering my questions.  Where was this respect when his new and improved wife slowly but surely scrubbed every bit of evidence of the "old" kids out of his life?  If he has respect for something like two stranger's amicable relationship, how come he has none for his own flesh and blood? 

The room that used to belong to Charlie was made into a nursery.  Now the room that used to be the one space Henry and William could call "theirs" is a playroom.  Where is the respect there? 

With all due respect...I don't think he has any.


I'll Huff and I'll Puff and I'll Toot My Own Horn

I am working so hard on the second part of my What's Sex Got To Do With It post (tentatively titled, 'The 46 Year Old Born Again Virgin') but I have some bragging to do.

I don't think I've posted this on my blog before..I know I have shared it over and over and over again with my facebook people and those of you who once clicked my Twitter button are reminded of it quite often..but I have been named an official Huffington Post blogger (insert gasps and trumpet noises here..or crickets).  So far I've had three pieces published, and so far they have all been posts I originally wrote for this here blog. 

Now that I am actually thinking about it, that's probably why I haven't blabbed about it here..because you've already read them.  But I digress:  it's official.

No money, no limos, no corporate Amex card that's all black or silver, no personal assistant to remind me that the kids want tortilla chips.  But it is pretty cool, if you ask me.

The last one they ran was my Broken Bowl story...I personally love that post, because it made me think about older times that didn't suck, times when life really did seem kind of charmed. Of course that passed, as quickly as a tainted glass of water in Mexico, but it was nice while it lasted.

So, if you would like to see what my dreams look like, just click here and check it out. 

We now return to our regularly scheduled programming.  Have a sweet Saturday night, friends.


What's Sex Got To Do With It? Part One.

A while back I posted my thoughts regarding Sesame Street's decision to start addressing Big Bad Divorce.  I received some very interesting feedback..some of it I expected, some of it was a surprise.  One of the comments really stuck in my craw, in a good way.  It made me think, and think hard.  In fact, not a day has passed since that I haven't thought about it.  Sometimes for just a second it will flash in my mind, other times it draws me in and I dig deeper into what this person said and how it applies to my situation and my life.  I'm not always happy about what I find.

The person who made the comment is Becky, and she writes a tasty blog called Eating the Scenery which is about her quest to eat "real" food, and how she cut out grains and sugar.  When I finish up the 8 pack of Progresso Light Chicken Noodle soup in my cupboard I'm seriously considering hopping back on the no-grain train myself.  But that's not what we're here to discuss today.  Becky has always provided supportive, thought-provoking comments but the ones she left on the Sesame Street post were particularly so.

Here is a chunk of her first comment on that post:

It's elsewhere, too. Think about the movies, even "good" ones, where it's STANDARD PRACTICE for a girlfriend and boyfriend to live together but not be married. Same message: Living together but not being married is NO BIG DEAL. But it is. There are real-world consequences to sex outside of marriage that the movies never show.

Kids still need the live-in examples of parents and adults around them showing them the healthiest way to live.

I'm no religious zealot, but it seems a number of basic ground rules that worked for our generation/our parents have been morphed by the media, to our peril, into quaintly passe. It's the thin end of the permissive and "progressive" wedge. Not that I'd want to peg out in the other direction, but there are a few rules in life that, as you expressed in your last post, set off a chain of pain when broken.

She wrote this (I think) in response to the gist of my post which was:  I don't like how the Sesame Street-ification of Divorce makes it all look so normal and easy.  I don't like how our society, in general, has made it seem like divorce is a super easy, non-harmful way to get yourself out of a bad or boring or lousy marriage.  I don't like how easily my ex-husband slipped out of our lives and into a new one, and how hardly anybody batted an eye when he did it.  I think it's indicative of the breakdown of morals and ethics and values in our world.

And Becky agreed.  Then she threw me this morsel to gnaw on:

Jenny, I met my current, wonderful second husband in May, 18 years ago. We didn't even kiss until September, and I didn't meet the kids until October. He and I had both been pretty badly scarred by our first marriages, so we just spent lots of time doing a variety of things together, seeing how we felt.

We both agreed that sex belonged in marriage, so it wasn't even an issue. Many, many times through the years we have said to each other, "I'm so glad we waited!" Because the waiting was what helped build the respect, friendship, trust and love that, taken together, formed the strong foundation for a healthy physical relationship in a context of true commitment.

Reading your blog, I have come to respect many things about you and your outlook on life. I would encourage you, for the sake of yourself, your children, and our country, to take a strong position, in principle and practice, for the values you are beginning to realize are being not just trivialized, but vilified.

In the media-driven culture, many perverse and dysfunctional actions are accepted as "okay," and except for a few extreme exceptions, the only things allowed to be labled perverse and dysfunctional are traditional values and the people who hold them. That is just one of the many conversations Americans need to have with one another. We need nuclear families, kids need two parents and role models. We all need stability and accountability. Unhappy kids do stupid things, and often parents slack off into their own brand of la-la land, dismissing the true consequences of their parenting or lack thereof. 

This is what has been rattling around in that drafty, airy place I like to call my brain: 
I would encourage you, for the sake of yourself, your children, and our country, to take a strong position, in principle and practice, for the values you are beginning to realize are being not just trivialized, but vilified.

I think sex, or the lack of it, is what killed my marriage.  I think the fact that sex between my ex and I had become a quick, furtive act done in the dark with the door locked and one ear open listening for kids and pajamas left halfway on so if one of the aforementioned kids somehow walked in we could quickly cover up, led to him wanting more.  I think the fact that he found a willing partner, a woman who conveniently overlooked her lover's marital status (and her own) led to him not even trying to have sex with me, his wife, anymore.  I think the fact that he no longer seemed interested in me "that way" led to me feeling defensive and insecure and worried and quite frankly, absolutely unappealing.  I think all of these things led to the death of my marriage. 

There are two things I remember him saying regarding the sex:  The first was in the office of the pastor who tried to offer us some counseling.  We met with him once, a few weeks after Big Daddy left us the first time. I remember he showed up at the pastor's office wearing a new shirt, and he seemed a little put out about having to be there.  He kept looking at his watch while I tried to tell the pastor, through my sobs, what happened.  At one point the pastor looked at Big Daddy, and said, "What would you like to say about this?".  He sat there, in his new purple shirt and ring-less fingers tapping the table and said, "She gets undressed in the dark. It's not exciting to me anymore." 

That summed it up for him. It wasn't exciting anymore.

The second thing my ex-husband said regarding sex came out during a heated phone call between him and me.  Someone from his office had insinuated that perhaps there was Another Woman involved, and I called him to find out. He denied it, up and down and all around.  And then he said:

"I think you're the one who's been screwing around."  Listen..even in my flustered, desperate, scared state of mind, I found what he said to be hilarious. I laughed. Out loud.  I replied to him, "Like I have time to have sex with someone else!".  I can still hear his reply:

"Well you sure weren't having it with me!"

And that, folks, is why I think sex killed my marriage.  But what sex did to me, after my marriage died?  That may be even worse.

I have way too much to say about this, so I'm making it a two-parter.  Stay tuned.  

I'm going to leave you with a quote from a good man, a man we celebrate today:

There is no more lovely, friendly, and charming relationship, communion, or company than a good marriage. - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.


"Let's just have one more!" And William Makes Four

Hey awesome readers:  My friend who has taken me under his wing and is helping me with my book gave me some homework last fall.  He said, "You've written stories about all of your kids and their birth stories..except for your youngest, William.  You need to write one for him."  Now, this was a few months ago, and I can't tell you how many times I've hunkered down in front of the laptop and started a "Happy Birthday William" post..only to either give up in blocked frustration or to be distracted by something shiny or a t.v. show.  Today, I forced myself to do it, in between episodes of Castle (damn you, Nathan Fillion).  Here's what I came up with.  I'm PMSing, and I have a thing for Nathan Fillion, so I caught myself getting weepy.  Let me know what you think.      P.S. William's real birthday is in May.  So you'll see this again.

To some extent, I blame Ben Affleck.

You see, back in the late 90's, I had what some people call "a little crush" on Mr. Affleck.  Of course, those in the legal profession sometimes call it "stalker-like" and "obsessive", but for this story we're gonna stick with crush.

So I was into Affleck.  He just so happened to be in a little movie called "Shakespeare in Love" which came out on DVD in the summer of 1999.  This was around the time that I was feeling that little itch. No, it wasn't chlamydia, it was that "oooh I think I'd like another baby" itch. There is no antibiotic for that.

We got the three kids to bed one hot August night (Charlie was 5, Molly was 3 1/2 and Henry was almost 2, so you know bedtime was a freaking blast, right?), opened a bottle of wine and sat down to watch some sexy Shakespeare.

When it was over, the bottle of wine was empty and the small cluster of dividing cells that would become my fourth child was implanting itself in my gently used baby oven.  Because wine + sleeping kids + Affleck speaking all Shakespeary = baby making math.

This wasn't a spur of the moment thing. I'd been thinking about having another baby, in the 2 or 3 minutes of clear thought time I had every day.  I'd felt the same thing after each of the kids were born:  I wasn't done...my set wasn't complete.  There was a piece missing.  I remember bringing it up to Big Daddy and he did his shrug thing he always did, saying, "I don't care.  If you want another one I guess it's okay."  I know, right?  WHY DIDN'T I HAVE 12 KIDS WITH HIM?

Probably not the best time to procreate, now that I look back on it.  This was smack dab in the middle of Big Daddy's Willy Loman career phase.  He had decided to take a stab at being a financial adviser.  A financial adviser who was paid commission-only.  It was, without a doubt, the most stressful phase of our marriage (good thing I had no idea how much more stressful it was eventually going to become).  We had to beg my dad to pay the mortgage, we charged groceries on a handful of credit cards...so yeah, why not make another mouth to feed?  

Things began turning around shortly before William was born: Big Daddy decided that the financial advising field wasn't awesome and thanks to a friend-of-a-friend, he landed a fabulous job with an equally fabulous salary.  I sometimes look back on this short chapter of our marriage, and wonder if that's when things started falling apart. Big Daddy needed a cheerleader at that time, a supportive spouse.  I wasn't either one of those things.  I was pregnant, with three little kids.  I was out waddling into garage sales every weekend, trying to find things that I could sell to Once Upon A Child for a little extra cash.  I can still remember, as if it just happened last night, the humiliating experience of a credit card being declined and having to leave a full cart of much needed groceries at the register while I high-tailed it out of the store before anyone could see the tears.  I didn't understand why this was happening...I didn't know anything about the whole male pride thing and how you're supposed to believe in your husband even when he made really stupid decisions.  And yes, I'm painfully aware of the fact that I made a few not-so-bright choices, too.

Sadly, there's nothing that can be done about the past..so we file these things under "Lessons Learned" and get on with it, right?  Right.  Now back to my boy William:

We decided that with this baby, the gender would remain a secret...to us, and to everyone else. This leads me to wax on for a moment about what is my biggest regret regarding my pregnancies:  I wish I hadn't know any of their genders before they were born. The beauty of the unknown made this, my last pregnancy, the most magical.  Despite the uneven keel of our lives at the time, when I went to bed at night I'd cradle my belly and tried to imagine what this little mystery was going to look like.  I tossed about names all the live-long day:  We liked Julia and Lucy and Grace and Jane for a girl, for a boy I thought about Walter (yes, yes I did. It was shot down though..go figure). We liked Philip and George.  Mitchell was a front-runner for a while.  And then one night, while I stood in front of a shelf of movies at the video store, my eyes stopped at Shakespeare In Love and I knew that if this baby was a boy, his name was going to be William.

William was, and still is, my most "serious" child.  He was born with a worried look on his face, and I always felt bad for allowing him to gestate in what must have been anxiety-ridden waters. As far as babies go, he was an awful lot like his older brother Charlie was as an infant: he cried. A lot.  My former BFF, Big Red, had her fourth child just six weeks after William was born, and of course she was an angel baby.  I recall going to PTA meetings with our babies in tow, and how hard it was to focus on what was being said because I was silently counting the seconds until William's eyes would open and the screaming would begin.

But it wasn't so bad...after all, this was my fourth kid.  I was no rookie.  I became an expert baby-wearer, and had that kid strapped to me for most of his first year of life.  You haven't lived until you've perched upon a toilet while wearing a Baby Bjorn filled with baby.

William mellowed out after a while, and his soft-spoken, serious personality began to emerge. Not to say that life with him was always quiet:  He was my first child to break a bone (playing horsey on the back of the couch when he was two), he has a nice Harry Potter scar on his forehead from the stitches he got after cracking his head open on a wall (yes, a wall. Long story.), and he's the child who got to meet the nice paramedics after mommy called 911 to report that her curious toddler swallowed a coin while she was changing his diaper (he turned blue but it went down sometime after my shrieking phone call). 

William was only four years old when his father left us for the first time.  His memories of our family, the one that is no longer, are few and according to him, very fuzzy.  I used to console myself with the thought that he made it through this mess with the fewest scars, due to his age.  But lately, I've begun worrying that he does have scars, they've just taken longer to show themselves.  I see him struggling with his feelings, see him mentally wrestle over things that have to do with Dad and Mom and the brokenness.  He was the littlest victim of our divorce, the smallest and quietest member of our clan.  It fills me with fresh anger and grief when I think of the normalcy he missed out on, how he only had four real Christmases with all of his relatives together, how he loved to have me push him on the swingset in the backyard of our old, lost house.

Then, I'll watch him saunter up to home plate during baseball season, how calm he is and how confidently he swings his bat. I'll remember our seemingly endless conversations we have, just me and him, where we talk about whatever is going on in our worlds.  There are tiny moments during his hockey games, where he'll look up from the ice and find me in the stands..our eyes will lock and I'll see his smile.

My sweet William.  I see him smile and I know he's all right.

Happy Birthday to you, my serious fourth child.  You completed my set.


Some Wednesday Observations

How are you?  Me, I'm okay.  I've decided that this world is a little too harsh for me, though, and if I could I would crawl into an escape pod and jettison off to some other, more peaceful, planet.  A planet where kids don't get cancer, where creepy mother-effers don't destroy children's innocence, where men who are true and good fathers and husbands don't die.  Is that too tall an order?  I guess so.  As one of my lifelong friends said last night, and she is a woman who has faced one of the blackest maelstroms a woman can face...she listened to me plead with the universe to STOP THE SADNESS and when I was done she simply said:

"That's life, Jenny." 

Truer words were never spoken.  But I still think life needs to be a bit kinder and a bit gentler for a while.  A  girl can dream, right?

So here are some things I'm thinking about to try and take my naive little mind off of the darker stuff:

1.  Please tell me you've seen the movie "Almost Famous"?  I try to watch it once a year or so.  If for no other reason, it's fun to see sexy Scientologist Jason Lee looking all dirty, flea infested 70's rocker.  Here's my favorite scene:

2.  Still waiting to see what the judge from my child support hearing has decided.  We went to court on October 29th, and Aladdin, my attorney, said it would be a "couple of weeks".  It's going on three months now and to be honest, I'm getting kind of antsy.  Aladdin says "don't worry, no matter what the news is it'll be good" but I keep having visions of my icky ex sitting there in his ugly tweed jacket (yes, a tweed jacket complete with elbow patches...the a-hole left his $1,000 dollar suits at home that day) next to his harsh lady attorney who looked and dressed exactly like Jill Eikenberry on L.A. Law.  And how Jill Eikenberry had the stones to look at me and say I'm purposefully under-employed and how my kids are all old enough to raise themselves while I go out and work 4 part-time jobs. You know what?  Suck it, Jill. You and your pathetic client can take your burgundy ruffled blouse and his "look at how poor I am" assistant-professor tweed coat and suck it.  Hard. 

How do you sleep at night, Jill Eikenberry?

3.  Speaking of the poor bastard, I'd really love it if he would ask his wife for access to his balls once in a while.  Like Tuesday and Thursday nights, for instance.  I have started a new part-time job (for the record, Jill Eikenberry, my FOURTH job) and now I'm working until 5:30 every week night.  For the first time, ever.  At first I was hesitant to take it simply because my kids have never come home to an empty house...or if they did, I was always just behind them in getting home. But now, it's about 5:45 before I walk in the door.  And that has taken some getting used to.  I was kind of hoping that Tuesdays and Thursdays would be a little easier, what with those being "Dad's Night" and all.  The two older kids don't go over there anymore but Henry and William still go once in a while.  Until now. They seem to be taking advantage of their mom-free time and using it to come up with excuses as to why they can't go with Big Daddy. Their favorite one is "I have a lot of homework".  Now, here's the deal:  Of course I don't mind seeing my kids when I get home. I love them.  It's just that every once in a while, a break is nice.  Like last night:  a friend of mine lost her husband yesterday morning. Not like she lost him at the mall, her husband DIED. I went to her house to help out, to give her company and love and support.  But what to my wondering eyes did appear?  Two boys who skipped going to their dad's house. One who kept bugging me to come home and make him mac and cheese, and the other one who had decided to go home with friends and started calling me every two minutes for a ride home.

This is exactly what "co-parenting" is not supposed to be like.  These are the nights that Big Daddy needs to extract his testicles from the jar Secretary has them in and tell these boys that THEY ARE GOING TO SPEND THREE HOURS WITH HIM.  I don't care if he comes up to the door, and demands that they come with him. I don't care if he yells at them or acts in a forcible manner or threatens or cajoles them.  Last night I needed to be with a friend and he needed to be a parent.  I ended up doing both, and you know who paid the price?  Me. I was tired and pissed and resentful, and that's not fair. Time to nut up, Big Daddy.

And now I'm done with all things scrotal.

4.  So while I recovered from the Plague, I decided, "Hey, this would be a great time to become hooked on a long-cancelled t.v. show." And thus began my relationship with "The West Wing" on Netflix. Where was I when this show was on? Oh yeah, I was giving birth to my fourth child and also gearing up to battle the office skank in the reality show "Who Will Get Big Daddy" (spoiler alert: skank wins).  But back to me and my new obsession: I love this show.  I am hopelessly in love with everyone on it, from Martin Sheen to Bradley Whitford to Allison Janey and even to Good Times dad John Amos (it's DYNO-MITE!).  I'm 28 episodes in and so far I'm still smitten.  Already looking forward to the cold snap this weekend (a high temp of 4 below zero?) so I will have some guilt-free couch time.

5.  Hey Jenny, why haven't you posted anything about Weight Watchers lately?

Hey, why don't you mind your own business.  And no, you most certainly do not smell sweet potato tater tots.  Okay, truth is I have once again fallen off a wagon (insert big sarcastic "NOOOO!" here).  I have gained 7 pounds back and I have to say, this is like watching a car accident in slow motion.  I had to cancel my Weight Watchers membership after I found myself perusing the canned goods at the local food shelf in December.  I decided that $46 a month is something that should be spent on oh I don't know....food for my kids rather than a way for me to try and rein in my food issues.  Someone who just had her closest paycheck-to-paycheck dance ever (managed to make it to the 15th with $2.48 to spare!) certainly has no rational reason to be on Weight Watchers. Looks like I have to take what I've learned and decide to either apply it or shut up about it.

And by the by..funny how the mind works. I weighed myself and saw that I gained 7 pounds. I said to myself, "Self, it's only seven pounds.  That's not so bad."  Not so bad?  I'm having trouble buttoning my jeans and my bras are suddenly very tight and not providing the coverage I'd become accustomed to (meaning my boobs are literally POURING out of them, giving me that awesome "quad boob look" that's so hot).  So I had to turn to my best friend, Google, and found this picture:

Yeah.  Seven of these makes a difference.  *sighs while tucking breasts back into bra*   To say I'm disappointed in myself is an understatement.  To say I'm not surprised is sad. 

And on that chipper note, I'm off.  I hope you are well.  Please hug those you love, today and every day.  Be a good friend, a good parent and a good person...when we're gone, people aren't going to remember what we wore, or how many cute purses we had or what we drove or what we lived in.  They're going to remember who we were, how we chose to dole out our love and our hate.  Choose wisely.


What do you do...

What do you do, when out of nowhere you find yourself


What do you do when one or two or ALL of these feelings barge in and make themselves at home in your


What do you do when you're trying to go about your day, your life, like you do every single day.  Being

A mom
A friend
A daughter
A sister
A neighbor
A co-worker
A teacher
A wife
A person

What do you do?  Here's what I do.  I

Acknowledge what I'm feeling
Think about why that feeling found me
Allow that feeling to stay, but just for a moment

Then, I

Think about what has happened in my life
Think about what I've overcome
Think about what the 90 year old me would have to say about what I was just feeling
Think about where I was 20 years ago, then 10 years ago, then 5.  Then where I was last year.  Last month.
Think about who my friends were back then.
Think about who they are now.
Think about all the good that has flowed my way.
Think about the good I've tried to pass on.

And then, I

Try to imagine what my children will be like as adults. As spouses. As friends.  As parents.
Try to imagine what I would tell my children if they asked me what to do when they start feeling


What will I tell them?

I'll tell them

That they are perfect.
That they are loved.
That they are good.
That they matter.
That they have made my life better
and fuller
and richer
and happier

Just by being born.

Lately I've found myself in a good spot.  A healing spot.  A happy spot. But those feelings, they surprise me.  They come out to play now and again. They ambush me. Sometimes they knock the wind out of me, and sometimes they are as quiet as a spider spinning a web.  Sometimes I know exactly why I'm feeling that way. Sometimes it's a mystery.  

I'm trying to navigate this life, and some days it's hard. Some days I breeze through it like wind through a screen.  And some days, it's a little bit of both.

There are days when I want, more than anything, for time to stop, and go in reverse just so I can try to fix whatever broke.  There are days I want time to speed up, just to get us through a rough patch.  But lately I have been accepting time for what it is:  it is a never-ending, always-changing gift.

I can choose to sit here and think about the past and the stress and the wrongs. Or I can choose to open up each day, each gift and try to

Love  and


Today, I live.  I will learn, I will teach, I will heal, I will comfort, I will nurture, I will laugh and I will love.

Today, I will live.


Happy Pneu Year...Think I've Gone Viral. Finally!

Sadly, this isn't like Momastery "Carpe Diem" viral..I'm talking literally viral.

Like, pneumonia.

Friday morning I decided to head over to the Urgent Care clinic since my "cold" wasn't getting any better.  I just felt icky, in general, and for someone who rarely gets sick, that's not cool.  So I said goodbye to the angels, one of whom bade me farewell with these words:  "I can't believe you're going to go pay someone to tell you that you have a COLD".

Take that, angel o' mine.  Your mama has a legit illness.  Kind of.  The final verdict was "It may be pneumonia, or it may just be a nasty viral illness."  Either way, treatment was the same:  fluids, Tylenol, rest.

I dread going to the doctor.  I don't know why..I think it may be the fear of that initial intake procedure by the nurse.  She eyes up one of my upper arms, and then slyly reaches for the "extra long" blood pressure cuff.  You know, the one they could wrap around a redwood tree and still have a little flap left over.  Sigh.  When that happened yet again on Friday, I sort of shrugged and said, "You know, even when I'm skinny I still have bigger arms.  So does Julia Roberts.  I read that in People magazine once."  The kind nurse smiled and wrote something on my chart.  Probably, "Patient might need a psych eval".  Or it could have been, "Does she realize that when her mouth moves, sounds that people can hear come out?".  Kind nurse beat a hasty retreat, but not before telling me to take off my clothes and put on a gown.

I paused for a moment, thinking about the Yeti forests that used to be my legs (oh sweet freedom of sleeping alone) and asked, "Take off everything?"

She looked back over her shoulder and said, "From the waist up, honey."  Phew. 

The doctor was a nice looking older gentleman.  Strike that.  Every time I use the word "older" to describe someone, it's inevitable that I later learn they are about the same age as yours truly.  So let me start over:  The doctor was a nice looking man of a middle-ish, not elderly at all, age.  He was pleasant to me, didn't hit on me even though I was wearing a super sexy, too-small zebra striped bra under my gown, and didn't take this opportunity to tell me that "losing a few pounds probably wouldn't hurt".

He also didn't throw anything at me when I answered the standard "are you pregnant" question with the very original, "Oh ha ha now that would be a Christmas miracle! HA HA HA HA!!".  Doctor friends, how do you stop yourself from stabbing people in the eyes with tongue depressors when you hear that one for the millionth time?  You know what...next time, I'm going for the shock response.  When the unsuspecting Doc asks me, "Okay, and I have to ask this next one, are you pregnant?"   I'm going to pat my belly and say,  "Yes! How did you know?  It was a total surprise but we are thrilled beyond belief!"

So he examined me and then sent me for a chest x-ray, which "kind of" showed that I "might" have pneumonia.  But not the kind that needs drugs, sadly.  I'm not big on pharmaceuticals but sometimes just the act of having a prescription filled makes one feel like they're on the road to recovery.

He sent me home with instructions to

Drink plenty of fluids
Rest and
take Tylenol.

I didn't hear him actually say to "sit on the couch, watch every single thing on t.v. and milk this vague diagnosis for all it's worth until your kids are back in school" but that's what I decided to do. I'm not one to send my kids packing for big guilt trips very often but when the opportunity not only presents itself, but climbs into your lap and hands you the remote...you'd best just go along with it.

And by the way, OMG, GAME OF THRONES.  Hopelessly sucked into that one.  What's that? Did the good middle aged doctor write me a prescription for HBO?

No...you may recall that I recently sold my soul to Comcast again, after being cable-free for six month.  Well, turns out they gave us a faulty box and when I called to bitch about it (in a very friendly way) the guy on the other end gave me HBO and Showtime free for a few months.  Sweet!  Needless to say I have been taking advantage of my "old farm lady" wake up time of 5:15 by watching Game of Thrones before the kids wake up. Only because it's Renaissance Porn. I'm done with both seasons now but cannot wait to see what happens:  Will Queen Bitchy Face become a full blown wino?  Will the crazy prisoner lady who looks like Jillian Michaels save the crippled Stark boy?  Will Pinchy Face Joffrey get his skinny ass kicked?  Will I learn the real names of the characters before Season 3 starts?  All of that remains to be seen.  Also, I'm finding myself wondering what a midget looks like naked.

On that note, I must sign off now. There are only about 8 hours left of winter break and the guilt-tripping must continue.  Plus, I've stumbled across old episodes of  The Mentalist.

You all take some Vitamin C, and stay healthy. 


You're a Single Mom. You can't get sick, silly.

Luckily my body knows it can't be sick for long.  The last time I was sick was about 6 years ago.  A coworker took me aside and gently told me, "You look like shit. Go to the doctor."  Turns out I had pneumonia and I missed three days of work.  My only lucid memory of that time is me staggering to the front door to acknowledge Big Daddy, who stood a safe distance away from Plague House and shouted to me, "You look like shit.  If you need anything lsjsfafjeio;gj;h........"  I didn't hear the end of the sentence because he was driving down the street.  Did I mention he didn't take the kids with him?  Pneumonia was fun.

I started feeling not-quite-right a few days ago.  My head had that swollen, stuffed feeling.  My muscles were sore, which I know wasn't the result of anything exercise related.  A couple of the kids had been down for a few days with low fevers and coughs, but nothing too bad.  I work with hundreds of kids every week...I shudder to think of what sort of germs and microbes or virulent strains of Black Death you'd find on me at any given moment.  So I figured I had just picked up some random cold.

Bitch, please.  The swollen stuffed head started pounding.  The sore muscles and joints forced my limbs into fetal-like positions and even doing something simple like giving my 18 year old the finger became excruciating.  My eyeballs felt like someone had removed them from my skull, dipped them in kerosene and then stuck them back in.  Even my hair hurt.

That night I fell asleep on the floor, like a dog.  In fact, Walter sprawled down next to me, grateful to have a canine companion for the evening.  Just for giggles, the kids decided to watch "Contagion" and as I drifted in and out of a feverish coma I heard one of them ask the other, "She didn't touch the remote, did she?".  They're sweet angels.

But, as those of you who parent solo know, we aren't allowed to be down for long.  The next morning, I jumped up off the floor and felt almost human again.  I went grocery shopping, gave kids rides to work and hockey and to friend's houses.  Cleaned up the rest of the Christmas mess (except the tree.  Right now I'm ignoring the tree).  It was New Year's Eve, and the two younger boys and I had planned on having a pizza/movie night at home.  I loathe driving on that night, and will very rarely venture out even if it means missing kick ass parties thrown by fabulous hens.  I'm weird like that.  

So New Year's Eve was mellow and nice and not sickly at all.

New Year's Day, though?  Holy crap.  One minute I was fine, rolling my eyes at all of the New Year's resolutions people were posting on facebook, the next minute I was doing the army crawl to my bedroom, shivering like a mofo and trying to see through kerosene-soaked eyeballs again.  I pushed aside the four baskets of clean laundry and the scattering of sexually ambiguous, comfortable shoes littering my floor and heaved my bad self into bed.  Where I stayed for the remainder of the day, aside from the times I had to pick kids up and drop kids off and the time one of the kids started crying because he wanted scalloped potatoes at 9:00 p.m. and couldn't figure out how to do it.  Oh, and the times I had to yell at the 7th grader, who decided to come into my room at half hour intervals and ask me to a: drive him and his friends to Super America so they could get Flaming Hot Cheetos and Icees or b: please let him have a few more friends sleep over.  I think I might have let it slip that he was no longer my favorite child.  The scalloped potato kid took that spot because after I made him the bowl of cheesy dried tater slices he came into my room with a "thank you" glass of water.  That's all it takes, kids.  Hope you're making some mental notes.

Sleep didn't come easy that night, I found myself in the vice-like grip of a horrifying cough.  Not just your standard two-pack-a-day cough that usually accompanies this kind of illness..no, my lungs decided to go big.  I coughed the kind of cough that I'm sure has only been heard before as echoes down the long sterile hallways of typhoid sanitariums.  The fart-inducing, uterus-expelling kind of cough.  Thankfully, the kids slept through it.

In between coughing fits I alternated between stripping down to a 3/4 length sleeve knit shirt in a desperate attempt to stave off the fever sweats, and stealing blankets from other rooms along with putting on my long down coat and a scarf when the chills kicked in.  It wasn't a peaceful night.

But, like a dutiful single mom does, I got up today, feeling better.  I smell like an old sick lady, my ribs hurt and I'm not sure if I still have a uterus or not but I feel better.  And that's a good thing, because apparently while I slept someone moved me into a crack house.  

There are chip bags on the living room floor, the kitchen is filled with food and dishes and empty ice cube trays, the garbage is overflowing, the dog has no water or food, and at some point during the evening somebody made both a frozen lasagna and a pizza.  The only thing I haven't found are sleeping hookers and used needles.  But I haven't gone down to the mancave yet, so I'm not going to start feeling all proud and optimistic just yet.

The thing about being a single parent is this:  most of the time, I'd go as far as to say maybe 90% of the time, it's okay.  It's not only doable, it's enjoyable.  Most of the time I'm able to pull it off and at the end of the day feel like I've done a decent job at it.  

But..during that 10% when it's not okay?  It sucks.  I remember at one point last night, when I was crying a little because I didn't feel good and wanted someone to sit by my side and put cold washcloths on my forehead and make me a bowl of soup, I remember wishing I had someone here to help me.  Someone who could have made the effing scalloped potatoes, someone who could have helped pick up their kids, someone who could have maintained a bit of order and calm while I did what a sick person needs to do:  be sick.  

I can deal with having to do everything.  Not only deal with it, but do it with a smile.  I'm okay with managing a household, four other people's schedules and school stuff and appointments while simultaneously working three part time jobs and trying to stay somewhat sane.  I'm okay with it because I have no other choice.  And usually, I don't dwell on the "why" and the "what if" aspects of it.  

But every once in a while, like last night when I really and truly felt awful, it made me wish for just a few seconds that I was still married.  The only other times I feel this way are when there are mousetraps to be taken care of and very high lightbulbs to be changed.  Luckily, two of my boys are now over 6 feet tall and the 12 year old will do the mouse traps if I promise him some Flaming Hot Cheetos.  But the sick thing..that's different.  That's not something tangible like a lightbulb or a mousetrap.  

Luckily for me, it only happens every six years or so.  The next time it hits, three of my kids will be in their twenties and the other one should be able to procure his own Cheetos.  

In the meantime, I will be over here taking Vitamin C and washing my hands repeatedly.

Be well, friends!     





Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...