Send Me the Love

I woke up this morning in something of a blue funk; I had hoped I would feel better for longer after getting home from Seattle, had hoped that the rest and relaxation I got would carry over into my real life for more than a day, but that hasn’t been the case. The house is still a crappy mess, the kids still fight all of the time, I still have some major financial issues that I am trying to address but is taking much longer than I thought; basically, it is still my life. Not that I thought it would somehow magically transform itself while I was gone, you know, but-I don’t know, I just thought I was in a better frame of mind and would be able to see things differently with some fresh perspective. Not so.

I am just so tired. We live in this really small, crappy house that is suddenly falling apart, and my landlady just doesn’t have the money to fix the things that are going wrong, so it just gets worse. I hate it, and we looked at another house yesterday after work, one with an extra bedroom and bathroom, but I just can’t swing it financially; not just the increase in rent, but the increased heating costs (it is a two-story older home). Which is why we have been stuck where we are, because it is more than I can afford to get into another place. Yes, I am on the waiting list for the Idaho Housing Authority, no, we don’t qualify for a low-income apartment (for those of you who are inevitably going to make suggestions, I have tried them all. Don’t qualify to even apply for Habitat for Humanity, cannot get a home loan, etc…). I went home last night and just felt so discouraged I wanted to sit down and cry; there are clothes in laundry baskets in one corner (my “closet”), books piled on every available surface, the closets (all three of them) are filled to overflowing, and we just don’t have any room. Therefore, the house never looks clean even if it is, and it makes me feel like shit that I can’t even really invite people over or anything because it looks so awful. I do what I can, but it just doesn’t seem to be enough.

I usually do pretty well with accepting that this is where things are, and I can only do so much to change things. In a general sense, I am maybe not wildly happy but am at least content, because things are better than they used to be, for sure. Right now, though, I just feel like a rodent on one of those wheels that run and run but never get anywhere; I have entertained more than once the idea of getting a second job, but then there are all of the repercussions of that, like not being able to be a parent, of having my 15 year old daughter assume the role of parent to the younger boys, which isn’t an option. Neither do we have an after-hours daycare in this area, so I couldn’t take Owen to a babysitter while I worked at night; which I wouldn’t want to do anyway, after having had him in daycare all day. Goes back to this thing called parenting, which I want to be able to do. So I stop and think about all of these things, and realize that even though on paper, a 2nd job makes sense, in real life it doesn’t. It would create more problems than it would solve, for sure. And none of this has to do with the house specifically, that is just the one tangible thing to focus on that make sense, you know?

I am so fucking tired of being alone, too. Yes, I have an amazing group of friends, yes, I have a lot of love in my life; I know this, and am continuously grateful. It just isn’t enough sometimes. I am so tired of being the only parent in my kids’ lives. I am tired of looking around me and seeing that everybody else seems to be doing it so much better than I am. I know all the right things to do; eat right, try to get enough sleep, let myself feel however it is I feel and then move on. I know well that it is better to be alone than in a shitty marriage or relationship. I know firsthand that me alone is better in SO many ways than some of the people I know who AREN’T alone; I know on a deep, elemental level that I provide for my kids some really, really important, life changing/affirming things. I know that. But knowing all of that doesn’t always help; it doesn’t change the fact that at the end of the day, I am still alone. I used to have this, I don’t know, vision? Dream? Whatever, about the kind of person I would be with, and let me tell you, that has changed dramatically; instead of a rich man who would take care of me and, by proxy, my kids, I just want someone who loves me. Who wants to be with me not for what I can give him or how good I can suck him off, but because he thinks I am something pretty special. It isn’t settling, it is just-different.

God. I am in kind of a bad way here. Maria was asking for donations awhile back for a new computer, and I am thinking about asking for donations for a life. This guy, has one for sale; any takers? Not really, but-I just don’t know anymore.

I need some love, guys. I need you to lie to me and tell me how great I am, how any guy would be so lucky to have me and Steve is stupid for not seeing that. I need you to tell me that I am not totally fucking up, and that things will somehow, some way, get better. If you are a believer in anything, send up a prayer for me. When you are done with that, head on over to see April, because she needs to feel the love, too.


Tuesday: Post Vacation

It is Tuesday morning, and I am back from my vacation as of 6:00 last night. It was an absolutely lovely time, I am so grateful I was able to go.

I stayed with my friend Camille and her husband, Dan. They haven’t been married very long, just about 5 months, so this was the first opportunity I had to meet him-and what a lovely, lovely man! When we got to their house on Thursday night, he had a simple meal and fresh coffee waiting for us, and I immediately felt his warm and welcoming presence. He is retired, but is anything but your typical retired person. He cooks, for one thing-and not just hamburger helper but these lovely, huge meals with beautiful presentation and high-end restaurant quality. I think he was slightly taken aback by the huge amounts of food I managed to shove down my gullet, but it was that good. Also, what it felt like to me was being nurtured, which is something lacking in my daily life. Food is, for me (and if you know me at all, you know I have all sorts of very traumatic food memories, and I have had a love/hate relationship with food my entire life), such an elemental need that goes far beyond simple fuel, and Dan was an excellent caretaker in that sense. There is nothing so comforting as feather-light biscuits with real butter and homemade jams, or homemade guacamole that tastes fresh and creamy, or halibut and asparagus with homemade Hollondaise sauce. I could wax euphoric about all of this wonderful food for days-but the significance of it for me had, quite simply, to do with the fact that he was taking care of me; what a blessing!

And he is good to my Camille. I won’t go into too much detail because it is her story to tell or not tell, but let’s just say that she hasn’t had it easy-in relationships, in life. A fellow (but now former) single mother, she has had a hard row to hoe, but has managed to put herself through law school and become a kick-ASS family law attorney. Now, she has this great partner who loves and nurtures her the way she has always deserved, and while I don’t think she was unhappy before Dan, I can also see very clear signs of contentment from her. This alone would make me love Dan, because Camille is such a freaking amazing woman who deserves someone who so obviously loves her and just wants her to be happy, and that hasn’t been the case for her.

While I was there, their home was a refuge for me. I hadn’t realized how strung out and on the edge I really was until I had the chance to just stop for a moment and rest. I am not talking about a short rest after strenuous activity, but rest in the far deeper sense of the word. I really, really needed to be able to sleep when and as long as I wanted, to eat good food and drink coffee and have conversation if I wanted it, but it wasn’t a necessity. I read books and “helped” Dan make a pie while Camille was occupied with her son, and we went shopping and they had mutual friends over for dinner to celebrate my birthday on Saturday night, but there was nothing required of me. Camille is gifted with the ability to see me as I am and loving me anyway, so there was no need to worry about fitting in or feeling self-conscious or trying to pretend to be anyone I am not; that is truly a gift.

There will be more post-vacation posts, of course, because Seattle? Blog fodder for WEEKS. but for now, it is enough to be home and be happy to be home, and to feel so blessed in these people I can call my friends.

I just can't do it…..

You all know that vacation I am going on tonight? Four days and nights with no kids? I have, quite simply, decided that I can’t go. I mean, really; look at these photos; can I really leave all this?

Here is my Eli, looking oh sweet at his birthday last year…..

And Sambo, who though you can’t see it, is holding his bunny who has actually lived for an entire YEAR!

Owen camping last summer; the only thing missing from this picture is a can of beer; doesn’t it look like he should have one?

So. Look at these sweet faces and tell me if you really think Ican do this. Haven’t been anywhere without at least one of them in, oh, ever. Do you blame me for getting a little teary-eyed this morning and kissing Owen so many times that he finally pushed me and said “GO!”, or for telling Hannah about 11 times that I love her…

Am I really thinking about leaving?

You bet your ass I am!

To Hell with Conflict-It's My Birthday!

You lucky folks, you get a double post from me today, being as it’s my birthday and all. I thought I would give YOU all a present by posting twice. Yeah, right, whatever.

In all seriousness, though, I got some rocking presents this year, and I wanted to share some of them with you. I am leaving for vacation tomorrow after work, thanks to my friend Camille who got my plane tickets for me; how freaking cool is THAT? I have NEVER been on a trip without at least one child with me, so this is quite a gift, and I am so grateful. Next, dude, I got THE coolest smoker last night! Yes, for those of you who are not as white trash as I am, it is a receptacle in which I can put charcoal and wood chips (the preferred flavor at our house is hickory) and actually smoke me some MEAT. Or fish, which is my personal favorite. Or turkey. Or ham. Anyway, I have really been wanting one, and Steve got me one. Along with some wool “Cabin Slippers,” which really look cool on me. They are green and cream wool, with a leather bottom, and they lace up at the knee. Love them. From the kids this morning, I got two Oreos and lots of hugs and kisses. A few checks in the mail from various family members….and an awesome fucking birthday post on my behalf from my friend April.

But to wax sentimental here, the presents are, of course, really nice, and I am grateful, but the things I have this year are so much more than that. I keep looking back at the last year, from #35 (AKA the Kiss of Death) to this one, the big 36, and it has just been such a crazy, awful, wonderful year, and I will be the first to say that I am not the same person I was a year ago. I have learned and grown so much, from people I would never have expected to learn things from, and no matter how I might feel tomorrow, today is a good day. I have been heartbroken for the LAST FUCKING TIME in the last year, I have been literally bankrupted by an ex-husband, I thoroughly got screwed by this online group of mommies with whom I fell in love and I had to leave (for some reason, those conservative Christians women tend not to care for me; can’t quite figure that one out. Do I maybe swear a little too much?). I have experienced all sorts of craziness, a lot of major things and even more minor ones, all of which make up this thing called life-and I am still here.

And here is my little thank you to a few very important people: to my April, for the same reasons she posted on her site about ME. Believe me, honey, I would be even more fucking nuts and emotionally unbalanced than I am without you to vent, cry, yell to-and then to laugh with and talk about how much we love our kids and want better for them, for ourselves. To Jacquie, who is my best IRL friend, and Janet-two strong, beautiful women who do all of those things that women do for people they love: they have fed me, cried for me and with me, wiped snot and tears from my face, and then told me to get my shit together and take another step forward. Without these three women, I know I wouldn’t have made it through the last year with any semblance of grace or dignity or sanity.

There are so many other people, though, online and IRL, that I can’t and won’t list them all. Not because I don’t want to acknowledge them, but because hey, it is almost 5:00; time to go to Jacquie’s, where we will be feasting on steak and potatoes and birthday cake.

Life is so good, SO beautiful, and if you can’t see a glimmer of that on even the worst days, open your eyes a little wider. We don’t have a lot of time here in the greater scheme of things, and I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to waste anymore of it.

PS: NappyRash? Good luck. I will SO be praying that Spencer swims long and hard, my man!

A Continuation….

I wasn’t actually going to waste anymore of my time on this much-debated issue brought about by Discovering Dad, because it is, really, beating a dead horse. Neither he nor I are going to agree, nor is he even willing at this point to see where or why he might have struck a chord with me or any other person with tits. He wants to talk down to me and be condescending? great. His wife wants to step up and defend him and basically tell those of us who had the balls to disagree that we are pussies? No problem; I can deal. But let me clarify a little bit about why I-and a whole lot of other people I know-feel the way I do.

Whether you people with testicles want to admit it, we still live in a YOUR world, and our choices, thoughts, feelings are based on the fact that we still get fucked because we have a vagina. I get so fucking sick of hearing men talk about all the great things they are doing for their kids and their families-because they want some kind of medal for doing what they should have been doing all along. That fucking sucks. I think it is a really great thing, and one of THE most important things a man can do for his children-whether married to their mother or not, dads need to do the awesome things that men like Discovering Dad, BusyDad, and lots of men I know in my real life are doing for their kids. Because you ARE; I have never disputed that, and won’t. Just don’t expect me to do a happy lap dance for you because you are doing what you signed up for. I mean, if you want to get all technical about it, the fact that you poor men have gone under appreciated and unacknowledged for all of these years is your own fault-after all, isn’t that how you wanted it? For we women to stay home and cook your dinner and take care of your kids and put out whenever you want it, all while you get to go out and make the money? And then one day, you all woke up and realized that you wanted better for your kids, for your wives, for your selves, and you finally stepped up to the plate-better for everyone, obviously. However, one of the biggest problems that remain is this mindset that you are entitled to special recognition and special treatment for, again, doing what you signed up for. THAT is what I don’t understand.

To clarify another thing: there is a difference between mutual love, respect and a willingness/desire to do things for your partner because you want them to be happy and the reward system. Like my good buddy XBox4NappyRashsaid, “I don’t take an extra breath mint to reward her for bringing me a cup of tea, and she doesn’t offer sexual favours when I bring in the mail.” We do-or should do-things for our partners because we want to, not because of what we think we might get out of it. Nor should we as women have to coerce, manipulate, bribe, or cajole our men. For any reason. In my opinion, whoring myself out-allowing you to do it, either-is wrong, and when I feel like I have to do X, Y, or Z in order to convince you that you WANT to do that which you SHOULD do, well, you’re my pimp, baby, and if I am going to allow myself to be victimized that way, I should be making a fuck of a lot more money than I am. And that really has nothing to do with sex, but the whole mindset.

I agree that when both partners are doing things out of a desire to make the other person happy, everybody benefits. When Owen’s dad says, “Let me take Owen for a couple of hours so you can go bowling,” that makes me happy-which in turn makes me much more willing to be generous when he says, “I can’t take Owen tonight because I am going to see a movie with my sister.” Last night when Owen dumped the entire box of matches in the back of the truck and screamed when Steve told him to pick them up, Steve acknowledged to me-as the primary caregiver (in addition to having three other kids and a full time job and no husband)-that it is hard work having a two year old, and I didn’t feel the need to say, “No shit, you fucking dick, why do you think I am such a bitch all of the time?” Instead, because he acknowledged that the work I do is both important AND difficult, I gladly helped him and Owen pick up the matches. And I really think-and could be wrong-that this is what Discovering Dad was trying to get at-that when both partners are willing to do things out of a desire to have things run smoothly, it works. What I totally disagree with is the added responsibility we women are being given by saying that we should be taking on the additional role of cheerleader and Chief Motivator. I have enough responsibilities as it is without taking on another one, and I don’t see it in any way my job to make sure you do yours.

And no, I don’t agree with the reward system, EVER. Not after the toddler years are over, anyway. And this is probably arguing semantics, but I don’t see praise as a reward. I don’t have a single problem with giving praise when it is deserved-but by the same token, doing your chores at home? Doing your homework? Sorry, you don’t get praised for doing that which is expected and part of being a team. Now, if one of the kids goes above and beyond what is expected, then they absolutely get a pat on the back-but they are never “rewarded.” I don’t bribe my kids, nor do I offer them something-monetarily, physically, emotionally, in exchange for doing their jobs, so to speak. I offer love and respect freely to my children, we spend huge amounts of time together as a family, we are big on hugging and kissing and telling each other how much we love each other. Is that a reward? No, I think that is normal and healthy. I believe in doing the right thing because it IS the right thing. I believe in actions and consequences. I don’t reward good behavior because I EXPECT good behavior. I don’t reward passing grades because school=job for my kids. I don’t give the baby a cookie for not throwing a tanrum or for peeing in the potty (which, okay, is NEVER going to happen, he will be the first of my children to go to college wearing a diaper). If he does something wrong, there are consequences. That is the way things work best at our house-that doesn’t mean that is how things have to be at yours.

It is so easy to cloud the issue with perceptions and ideas, and it is not wrong or abnormal to use our own life experiences as a springing off place. I have never made a secret of the fact that I have had some really shitty men in my life, so of course I am going to use that to draw upon. But I am also adult and self-aware enough to know that this kind of attitude-that I should be the one to motivate my partner-would never work for me. that doesn’t mean it is wrong for YOU, as men and fathers and partners, nor for your spouses. I really and truly believe that the bottom line is that you talk about what works for you, and if someone else gets something useful out of it, the more power to you. More importantly, more power to ALL of us. No matter what tools we use, whatever it takes to make our families stronger and happier is a good and powerful thing. I don’t have to agree with you, and vice versa-but it doesn’t mean that you OR me are bad people. I liked the debate-I LOVE a good debate-and also believe that if we are all talking about it-even if we disagree-then only good can come of it. Do I disagree with the attitude? You bet your ass I do. But do I disagree with what you are trying to do? Never, not in a million years. Kids need both their parents-and as long as each pair (be it lovers, spouses, co-parents but not “together,” gay or straight, whatever form that takes for each of us) is committed to raising healthy, happy kids who are getting what they need from both parties, then we are all doing the right thing. It just doesn’t have to be the same for all of us.

Sex is SO Not Happening!

I was feeling like I had a little bit of writer’s block this morning, and was toying with the idea of just not posting anything today-because I actually do that a lot (meaning NOT POST), as those who read this regularly know. However, I followed a little blog trail and came across this post by Discovering Dad. Now, I will put in my little disclaimer here by saying that I have absolutely NOTHING against this guy personally. Like many, many parents, he is just trying to find his way to being a good father, and God knows that we all have to do that our own way. We all have our own perceptions about what that means and how we are supposed to go about doing it, and I give him a full 10 points for making an honest effort. ESPECIALLY when he told those slacker dads (of which there are millions!) to STOP giving real dads a bad rep-I hear that, and give a resounding Hallelujah to him for making that statement.

That said, this particular post really pissed me off. Again, not at him personally, but about this testosterone-laden, oh-so-manly-mindset that is portrayed in it. See, I don’t understand why men feel like they deserve some kind of accolade for being a parent; I don’t get why they feel like they have to asked to do something around the house. I mean, if the garbage is full, the baby is messy, why the fuck should I have to ask you to dump it or change him? Unless you are blind and have no sense of smell, you should be able to see what needs done. Just do it. And quit bitching about how picked on and overworked you are. By nature, that is the definition of being a parent; if you really want to BE one, get used to it.

He also talked about the “reward” system; being a guy, of course his idea of a reward is sex, but also mentions that there are other kinds of rewards. And I am thinking, um, again, why should you get rewarded for being a parent? Maybe after spending the day working either outside OR inside the home, then having to spend the evening cajoling, asking, begging, and bribing you to help out, giving you a happy blow job to reward you is SO not happening. I am tired. I have been puked on, done four loads of laundry including your dirty underwear (can you not freaking WIPE?), I have made dinner and asked you nicely to take out the garbage and get Baby ready for bed, and when that didn’t work, I asked again, not so nicely, and when it still didn’t happen and the six year old has homework and the 13 year old is pissing and moaning about how hard HIS life is, while you watch the game, well, honey, ain’t nobody getting fucked tonight. Rewards? Please.

I understand this thought process, though, I really do. Many, many men are trying to take more an active part in parenting, and I commend those who do. It IS work-which Discovering Dad acknowledges freely. To be fair, men are living with stereotypes that are hard to overcome, because they are “supposed” to be the bread-winners while mom stays home and takes care of the kids-to do anything less than that (or MORE than that) just isn’t the accepted thing to do. By the same token, though, expecting your wife or partner to feel like she has to teach you to do the right thing, to ask instead of tell, to respectfully and lovingly ask you to mow the lawn and if you DON’T, to not take up the slack, and then blow you, well, you ask too much.

I have come up with my own little list of Do’s and Don’ts for those of you with a penis:

1. Don’t pretend you don’t smell the shitty diaper. Just change it already. It can’t smell any worse than the bathroom after you have spent 20 minutes in it. Just think: you might be rewarded for this one! The reward would be a clean, sweet-smelling bottom that DOESN’T HAVE A RASH. This is why we do it when you don’t FEEL like it; it isn’t about taking up the slack, it is about making sure our kid is clean and comfortable.

2.Don’t pretend that you are going to mow the lawn as soon as the news is over. You know you aren’t going to. Also, don’t bitch when I don’t pick up the slack and we get ticketed by the city for having an overgrown lawn. Cut the grass, pay the ticket, or hire the neighbor kid.

3. Do give me the same respect you think you deserve. We don’t care if it is chicken from the grocery store deli, provide dinner one night. And then make sure the dishes are done afterward. I might really like the chance to have 20 minutes alone with the teen aged daughter who just had her heart broken for the third time this year.

4. Do fix the fucking fence instead of yelling at the kids for not watching the dog closely enough.

5. Do thank me every single day for not only squeezing these kids out of a very small place, but for not killing them within the first month. Thank me for making the choice to stay with you even after I have asked a thousand times to have the leaky sink fixed. Thank me for putting up with your mother and pretending that it doesn’t matter when she tell you that you could do better.

In short, you are asking for a lot, you men, but don’t seem to be willing to do the same in return, and even more a problem, you don’t see why we think we deserve more from you. In your mind, it seems like as long as we women are getting SOME help, we should bend down and kiss your sweaty feet-and then give you a reward for being a parent? I commented on this post about how I am better off being single, and I think I am right-because if this is the kind of 50’s behavior men think they deserve, no thanks.

Birthday Blessings

My birthday is coming up in a couple of days. Last year at this time-hell, last year a month EARLIER-I was in a depression about the upcoming date. I turned 35 last year, and I dreaded it terribly. I cried and felt depressed and figured I might as well just give up because I only had like three good years left.

I don’t know-it seems like once I passed the actual landmark date, though, everything changed. Another year has gone by and I feel maybe better than I have in years, as far as life stuff goes. It doesn’t seem to matter much anymore that after four kids, my bra less boobs hang down to my waist and my ass keeps on jiggling long after I have stopped shaking it (which I really only do when I am in the grocery store and the kids are with me and they are pissing me off so I want to embarrass them). It doesn’t seem to matter as much that I am not where I thought I would be at this juncture in my life-because I LIKE where I am, for the most part. I believe that there are things about my life that could be different or better, but perhaps for the first time in my life I am confident that with time and hard work and the occasional small bit of luck, I will get where I want to be. Believe me, this is not my nature-for a lot of reasons, I have spent a large amount of my life just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. Now, though, I am well aware that bad things ARE going to happen-because hey, it is LIFE-but that I can actually be content even through it all.

And I have these wonderful friends who remind me that I am loved. Jacquie took me to lunch and shopping on Saturday, to pick out a new outfit to wear to Seattle. Yesterday, my dear friend Janet fixed a feast for me and the kids, and also gave me a new book, one I had read and loved as a child. On Tuesday, Steve is making dinner (my favorite that HE makes, hickory-smoked pork chops), and then on Wednesday-the actual day-the kids and I are going to Jacquie’s for dinner. Thursday night, then, I fly out to Seattle, the tickets for which were given to me by the friend with whom I will be staying. This type of largess is not something I have had in the past, and maybe for you “normal” people this kind of stuff is daily fare, but for me, this is what gets me through the day. Not just on my birthday, but every day. I think I have just been paying better attention this week, because I have been the recipient of so much love in such a short period of time.

I think-believe-that it is true that the more love you give, the more you get in return. Part of my recovery-from alcoholism, childhood abuse and trauma, a terrible-on-a-thousand-levels-marriage-has involved both learning how to give AND how to accept love and kindness and generosity, which is never very easy for me. Because, you know, I like to do things myself. I don’t need help. I am strong, in control, have it all handled. But all the years that I lived that way, things were slowly falling apart at the seams, and I had to start all over and learn how to say “I can’t do this. I need advice/a listening ear/a shoulder to cry on/a safe emotional haven.” In doing such a simple thing like asking, I have been given so much more than I would ever have believed possible. By the same token, I am so much more able to give those things in return.

Along with my book, Janet gave me the best possible card she could have. On the front, there are pictures of four sets of legs-three dressed in high-falutin business shoes, dress pant, heels. The fourth? Blue jeans and tennis shoes. Inside was the caption, which applies to my birthday and my LIFE: “It’s your birthday. Accommodate NO ONE.” I love this. This is who I am learning to be, and am finding that people love me more honesty and fully than they ever have before.