Sending you Somewhere Else-But Stop Here First

I just started a new 30 Day Guided Journal thing, but I won’t subject you all to it; instead, you can find it HERE should you be so inclined.

That said, there is always something to write about; my newest thing is this, and it isn’t a new thing by any means. Call it another episode on “Kori’s Soapbox of Single Parenthood,” call it me just being a bitch AGAIN, call it whatever the hell comes to mind, but I am feeling just the slightest bit pissy today. And actually, I didn’t earlier, because I hadn’t really thought about anything one way or another. But now this whole dating thing comes to mind again, and I am just-well. I’ll just start right here where my thought processes are, and see where it leads.

Why in the hell is it that I should have to question whether or not I choose to date anyone? Let’s pretend that this man who asked me out is perfect in every way. Let’s pretend that he isn’t on the way to being a convicted felon or that he just has a few months sober. For the sake of argument, let’s pretend he is Mr. Right all the way around. You know what the bitch of it is? I would still have to say no, or if I DID say yes, I would have to second guess my every decision and would still probably end up saying no. All of this fucking bullshit about how “we” are supposed to put our kids first and be very careful about who we date or about jumping into a relationship with someone….and yeah, sure, that all applies, but tell me this: why the fuck doesn’t it apply to the men? Tell me this: in what instance in the last five (and oh shit, a half!) years, when have I NOT put the needs of my kids first? When have I not taken into account how every decision I made would affect them?

This is what I get so fucking sick of. In the media, we single moms are single-handedly ruining the economy by living off of welfare and working shit two-bit minimum wages jobs; we have also created a downward spiral of morals (anyone remember Dan Quayle/Murphy Brown besides me?) in America, which in turn causes more and more children to be born without any kind of a conscience. When you get a Michael Phelps, it is in spite of his mom’s status as a single parent, when you have a kid from a single-parent home who gets in trouble. that is the reason. Wow-who knew how very powerful we really are? Those of you with testicles (and you, too, Sarah Palin) had just better watch the fuck out. I will note here that I DO receive help with my childcare and with medical-which is a national problem and not one that only effects single parents. However, I neither receive food stamps or cash benefits or reduced income housing or WIC-so is that welfare? I don’t know, you decide. Oh, yeah-did you know that I ALSO do not receive child support? Yeah. All powerful.

So we have all of this power, yet we aren’t supposed to date. We aren’t supposed to “expose” our kids to “that” part of our lives, which means we either have to date secretly and lie to our kids about where we are going/who we are seeing, or we are supposed to simply not date. We have to come face to face with the statistics on a daily basis about how boys with single moms are 60% more likely to end up in prison, yet also with the fact that the majority of sexual abuse under the age of 16 is perpetrated by a step-father or boyfriend. So if we have girls, we are not supposed to date at all for fear he might hurt our daughters, and if we have sons we had just better hope they don’t become a statistic. We also have to face up to the realization that men who do want to date us really don’t want to date us-because at some point they might have to face the reality of helping raise someone else’s kids. And God knows men don’t want to do THAT; hell, most of them don’t even want to help raise their own!
The thing that really pisses me off-like, so much so that I am shaking-is that these same things do not apply to men. And yes, yes, yes, I know there are good dads out there; if this makes you uncomfortable, then I am probably talking about you. I have made the choices I have made, and have owned up to them tenfold (and for the record, I am going to stop feeling guilty. TODAY.). However, I am not the one who emotionally and physically abandoned my kids. The older two? Their dad went through a long string of women, including one who would call weekly to tell me that he beat the shit out of her AGAIN. This relationship ended up with the two of them leaving town in the middle of the night without saying anything to the kids. And yeah-THAT is so much better for them, right? Or with this same one, he was supposed to pick up the kids after yet another court date and instead she said, “I don’t want those fucking kids in my house,” and he drove off without them, leaving Hannah at five on the sidewalk, wondering what SHE had done. Who is holding him accountable for that? Who, pray tell, will stop and think that maybe, just maybe, it isn’t always our “fault” that we are single? At what point is the world at large going to stop and say hey, wait a minute; something isn’t right about this?

So the world tells us that we should take care of ourselves and learn how to get along without a man, because if we date we are causing harm to our kids. The world tells us that WE are the only problem-because all of us got here by ourselves. We get told that it is okay for our exes to date and fuck whomever they want, because it doesn’t have any effect on the kids; after all, we mothers play the most pivotal role in their lives, don’t we? We are the nurturers and the caregivers, and now tha
t we are single we are also the breadwinners and the medical providers and the financial directors of our children’s lives.

Yeah-if we have such a huge role, then why is it that daughters have relationship issues with men their whole lives because they are looking for a father figure, and why are our sons lost without a father to guide and love them? Has any one man with the authority to change things stopped to think, for one minute, that maybe the reason we are such a fucked up nation is because men got the idea in their head that they get to have/be/do whatever they want, with no repercussions? When did we stop holding men accountable as well for the problems that beset our youth today?

Bah. I digressed; I am still holding firm to the whole I am not dating The Boy decision, because it isn’t good for me, which in turn isn’t good for my kids. But you know, it will be like this for the next 16-yes, guys, 16-years, because that is how long I am also supposed to put my life on hold because I fucked and got caught holding the bag. And do you know what is going to happen in the next 16 years? The same thing that has happened in the last 15. My two ex-husbands have moved on with their carefree, no responsibility lives, and Steve is well on his way to doing the same thing. I have had to watch two of the three try different women on for size, discarding them right and left with no regard for how that might affect their children. I have had to sit back and watch them get remarried, and will have to do the same with Steve at some point, but if I go out on a date with someone, the whole world will be watching me, just waiting for me to screw up.

*****I haven’t felt the need for a disclaimer for awhile when posting, but this time, maybe I should include one: this is not intended to be directed at any of those whom commented on my last post. My use of “you” and “your” and “we” are all used collectively, NOT to accuse or pinpoint any one person or persons. And no, this isn’t about me being some martyr about making the ultimate sacrifice for my kids, nor am I trying to hold myself up as some paragon of virtue. I am, quite simply, ranting and raving about the inequality and unjustice involved in being a single mom.*****

Weekend Recap of My Own

Talk about an eventful weekend! I got asked out on a date on Friday, we trimmed the huge tree in the backyard and made bread and cookies on Saturday, we played baseball on Sunday….and I also got the chance to spend time alone with each one of the four children over the weekend. I call that a success.

Starting with the date, there is a guy I met at AA, and he “likes” me (he really doesn’t LIKE me, he wants to nail me, which are two entirely different things), and I am SO crushing on him. He is really, really cute. And funny. And did I mention that he likes me? Yeah. Very, very tempting. Last week, J and I sat with him, though, and I was kind of flirting with him, and-well. I did not do anything at all inappropriate, but there were vibes, and he asked me to go to dinner with him, and I had to say no….

I know I said before that even though I am in love with Steve, I would go out with someone if I were asked, simply because I am not going to put the rest of my life on hold because of Steve’s issues. However, I have discovered that it isn’t as easy as all that. For one thing, this J. is the first person who has asked me out. And yes, he is cute, and like I said, funny, but he is also not quite 6 months sober, which immediately rules him out. Also, he is going in for sentencing on a felony DUI in a few weeks-two really great reasons why I need to stay away from him. Not because I think any less of him (hello, I hang out with a bunch of recovering drunks-believe me, a felony DUI is pretty common in my group!), but because after going through some of this stuff with Steve, it isn’t something I am willing to even think about until/unless he can get it all taken care of. And by time he DOES, I might be 40 years old. I did tell him, “Tell you what; you ask me again after you have a year sober and get through the worst of the legal crap, and then I’ll give it some thought. Until then, no.” It is both powerful and a little sad to be in a position to tell someone “no.” I mean, like I have said, it isn’t as if men are knocking down the door asking me out, so it is kind of sad to have to tell someone no-God knows when someone else might ask! At the same time, this is one of the hugest benefits about being sober and having gone through this kind of stuff before-no matter how cute, no matter how appealing, I have at least learned that I am not willing to take on another set of problems; I have enough of my own stuff to take care of, thank you. I also know enough to be able to think clearly-is the temporary fun and distraction (because there is no doubt in my mind that this would only be just that) worth it? Not today it isn’t, not for me. So yeah-I feel a little wistful, yet at the same time very powerful-I made a decision that was best for me at that moment-that is huge.

On Saturday, my friend Chuck came over and we mostly finished trimming the tree in the backyard. My landlady has been telling me for three years that she would get someone over to get it done, but finally we just took matters into our own hands and did it ourselves. It is getting closer to winter here, and we get these really high winds, and the branches have been brushing on the power lines for at least three years. This year, they have grown enough in that they were actually weighing down the lines, so it HAD to be done. Plus there was a HUGE branch that hung over the clotheslines, and even though I know it is there, I see it and tell myself to duck, I have hit my head on it more than once. Anyway, it was a lot of work, but well worth it-the tree looks SO great, and the boys now have a huge tree-branch fort (which is actually quite cool, they have it set up like a tepee, kind of , where they crawl through this hole and there is a big bare circle inside), which will stay up until they dry out enough to be easier to cut. Chuck is much more patient than I am; he was letting both Hannah and Eli do the cutting, guiding them gently in how to do it, and I was really grateful. He says we are his second chance at having a child and grandchildren-due to his drinking history (he has 12 years), he is estranged from his family, and has kind of taken us under his wing. The whole family got involved. The big kids and Chuck cut down the branches, and Owen and Sam and I (and the dogs, of course!) were in charge of dragging them away, and it was just really, really neat. Afterward, Chuck wanted to take the older kids out to lunch, and he also apparently wanted to spoil them a little-all three came home with something. Sam now his his first and very own Scooter, Eli got the new book in the Eragon Series, plus some new school supplies, and Hannah got new undies and bras (yes, it is a big thing for she and I both, ha ha) and school supplies as well. Chuck says they need spoiled sometimes, and that it is his “right” as their adopted Grandpa. How do you argue with that, really?

Yesterday we did some of the household chores, and then headed out to Freddy’s again with the dogs; we had Steve’s again this time (I laughingly say that I have partial custody; I get to have her about every other Sunday), so the three of them were in hog heaven. We cooked hot dogs (and I had the foresight to take the chicken I wanted to use for the pasta for dinner and grilled it as well-wonderful!) and ate chips and played a few innings of baseball;. It was hilarious-since we play with everyone, we just use tennis balls so Sam and Owen don’t have to worry about getting hit, but Eli’s dog loves them. We had to take three balls because every time one of us would make a hit, the dog would chase after it. It was so much fun; I am sore today, though, from swinging the bat so much, and even from throwing the ball. Those are muscles I haven’t used for a long time.

When Steve got back from his class, I made him take Owen for a drive while Hannah and I got dinner ready. O. has been driving me insane lately because he wants to “go bye bye daddy car!” And it just doesn’t occur to Steve to ask if it is okay to take him for a ride or something like that. We had already talked about him coming over for dinner, so I just asked him if he could take O for a ride before dinner. And he was all like, “Oh, yeah, that’s a great idea!” Duh. What is it that makes men so clueless sometimes? Why should I have to prompt him to do those kinds of things? He wants to complain sometimes because he doesn’t get to see/spend time with Owen, and it’s a little frustrating because a lot of the time he just doesn’t see the opportunities.

all in all it was a good weekend, and I am back at work feeling rested and in a good place emotionally. Again, not that things have changed so much, but just because I am in a place of acceptance and humility. It will be a good day, I am sure of it.

So I Pissed You Off…..

It is apparent that I am not going to making any friends in my class. I started off the evening last night with a bang, and it just progressed. The Mom about whom I wrote earlier in the week had the balls to come up to me before class started and say, “We waited for you to come pick us up. You are lucky we decided to just go on ahead and leave, or it would have been your fault if we had missed the class. And what is the deal with telling your daughter she can’t talk to my son? ” As she was talking, she wouldn’t look at me, and spit was flying out of her mouth-I guess she was pretty mad? One of the things we talked about last week was all about making eye contact, so I waited until she WOULD look at me and said, “It is not my job to make sure you get to class. If you can afford to kill time by driving around, you can afford to get to class. And I do not owe you an explanation as to why I do not want your son to call my daughter and vice versa.” Then I went to one of the instructors of the teens and asked her to please make sure that the two of them (H. and K.) did not huddle up together. She was all, “oh hell no, this is NOT a dating service!” Which made me laugh, and also rest easier. Mom? Well, she very pointedly looked at me and chose a table as far away from me as possible, as if I really.fucking.cared. Meh.

We ate, which was good-tacos, with this killer homemade salsa that I could gladly have slurped down out of a cup. Lots of cilantro, just the right amount of jalapenos-perfection. It was actually really nice to sit down with just Hannah and Eli and talk. We did not talk about anything spectacular, just chatting, but it was really nice. I don’t now how THEY felt about it, but I really enjoyed the half hour with just the three of us; even in the midst of this hustling and bustling room, we were still alone as a little family unit, and I can see that becoming one of my favorite moments of the week.

We then went into our separate rooms, and I tell you, wow. The dynamics of the class are already changing, and it is really interesting to see and be part of. We are all a little less nervous, the facades slowly peeling away to reveal our true nature, and I am loving that. I am pleasantly surprised to say that one couple in particular has totally changed in my mind; some of the things that they went through this week with their child, in addition to some of the consequences they set down, floored me-and last week, I thought they were very cavalier and like, “oh, whatever, let’s just get through this class.” Teach ME to make judgements, I tell you. Some of the others, though, well, let’s just say I wasn’t wrong. One of the couples were all up in arms because their 14 year old daughter skipped school and came home with hickeys all over her neck-and yet were adamant that she isn’t going to get pregnant because she isn’t having sex. Well, she might not be yet, but she WILL be. A select group of us parents (and one of the instructors) were all “Is she taking any kind of birth control? Know how to use condoms?” and he said, “No, but she doesn’t NEED to know how to use them, that is the boys’ responsibility, and if we go put her on birth control, she is going to think we are telling her that it is okay!” THIS made me want to scream. I kept my hands clenched together until they were white, my teeth clamped so that I wouldn’t lose it, but alas, I couldn’t keep it up. Finally I said, “Um, why is it solely the boys’ responsibility? So when she comes home knocked up you can blame it on him? And by knowing she is already engaging in risky sexual behaviors, by choosing to not provide her with birth control and STD education, you are telling her not only that you don’t care about what she does, but also that you don’t give a shit what happens to her!” My way of thinking is that we do our children a grave disservice by not addressing things like condoms and birth control and risky behaviors-while I am not looking forward to teaching Hannah and Eli how to put on a condom and taking them both to the clinic to show them where the free condoms are, I am also not willing to send them out in the world to take chances. I can’t be there with them (thank you Jesus, I don’t WANT to be!) to make sure they use them, but I can certainly make sure they know what the consequences are; and in this day and age, pregnancy is not EVEN the worst think that can happen. I finally just shut up and shook my head, because he and his wife don’t want to hear it, they just don’t.

I have a really, really bad tendency to want to force my own views and opinions on people, or try to “make” other people see things from a different perspective. Because I am right. Isn’t it proof enough of my rightness that neither of my teens have ever skipped school gotten jailed, gotten drunk or high, and are still virgins? Yeah-and you and I know that it is dumb luck more than anything else. Anyway, when I realized what I was trying to do, I just had to stop myself. I can rant and rave here, and to my IRL friends, but I have two choices in the class: I can give my input and let it go and instead concentrate on those things I might be able to use, or I can bash my head against the wall and try to make these people somehow suddenly change their entire belief system and forget that I am there for my kids, and for myself. So I am really going to work on learning what I can from them-all of them, the what to do and what NOT to do, and let them do what they will.

There was a lot of really good stuff last night about rewards and praise, about choosing your battles and listening actively, and I can see already how I have failed in some ways-but one of the things both instructors harp on is that guilt is useless, and it is not too late. Not too late for ANY of these kids (though I do have my doubts, but not because of the kids!), and not too late for us as parents. They both said last night that if we take this class yet refuse to get anything out of it, then we are equally responsible for our kids making the choices they make. And you know, I agree.

So. Lots of stuff to process over the next week, and I am SO glad to have been able to go ahead and take the class. I think that anything I can do or am willing to try can only help, and I am grateful over and over again to be able to be teachable!

Untitled-With an Unrelated Update

Angie died just over three years ago, on a hot summer day in June. Strange, she is as present to me right now in this moment as she ever has been, as if she is sitting just over me at the desk, her fingers guiding mine over the keyboard. I have missed her daily, have often-even three years later!-thought, “oh, I can’t wait to tell Angie!” or have purchased an especially lovely purple-flowered paper with the intent of writing to her on it. In all this time, though, three years which seem both like a lifetime and a heartbeat, I have never felt this kind of manifestation; I am not sure whether to weep with sorrow or to laugh with carefree joy. She is here, I want to yell, and in the same breathe scream that she is gone.

There was a song on my playlist a little while ago that reminded me of her~I am sure she never listened to Tom Petty prior to befriending me, yet I hear “Learning to Fly” and it is gift she gave to me. In the top drawer of my desk, looking for something entirely different, I found a piece of that paper, the purple irises catching my eye and my heart. All of these small things, the details of my life that are not just mine, but hers by default. Even now, I can’t think of the two of us as separate; her breath is mine, and mine hers, only one of us has stopped. Sometimes I think it might have been me.

And when asked, I will tell you that from her I learned that there are no guarantees; that you have to either live or just exist, but either way, life is going to go on, with or without you. That even in the midst of pain and uncertainty and fear, life is good. Every breath we take, every action for good, every small green leaf in the wind or the way a lover’s hand looks on your thigh, every moment is something to be relished. I don’t know right this second if I can make it through another day, yet in the same breath I can tell you I am equally sure that I don’t want to miss what might be coming. For good or ill, I am in this thing called life, and I don’t want to just exist; I want to live, to love, to find a way to live in the moment and not lose another little part of myself in sadness and fear and uncertainty. I want to walk outside in the clear, windy light of Autumn, to go home to the people that I love and know that what I have, in all of it’s manifestations, is really, really quite beautiful. I want to touch Steve’s face with my hands and tell him that I love him, to watch my daughter’s sleeping face transform itself into sweet babyhood one more time, to remember the day when Eli first told me he loved me. I want to watch Sam when he thinks no one can see, marveling in the fluid grace of his hands, and mash my lips up against Owen’s sweet fat cheeks in an effort to become part of him one more time. Oh, this life; so beautiful and sacred that sometimes I just can’t bear it.

***The unrelated update is that my first ex-husband just called me a little while ago to let me know that his dad has had a stroke and is failing quickly. He (R.) has had just a ton of health problems over the last year, including heart/lung issues and cancer. K. (the ex) was in tears, just sobbing uncontrollably, and this is one more blessing in my life: that our relationship over the past 15 years has evolved to the point where he can call me and cry and I can cry with him. There is no love lost between my ex-MIL and myself, but my heart just breaks for the whole family, and I am so grateful that I can be in a place to be helpful and calm and reassure him that I will help him in any way I can. If you guys have a minute, send up a good thought or 6. For a peaceful passing for R., for his wife to have the strength to let him go, for clarity and love for all of them.***

Do I Have To Love Her Close Up?

Another quiet night at our house last night. Sam was supposed to have a Pack Meeting for Scouts, but at 6:55 still had been unable to locate his shirt, kerchief, belt…despite my reminder after school to get them gathered up. I told him that we would just have to go to the next Pack Meeting instead, at which point he had a major meltdown and got sent to his room. He fell asleep by 7:15, poor kid, and did not even stir until 6:30 this morning. Apparently he needed to sleep a lot more than he needed to be at a scout function. I like Scouts and it has been good for him in many ways, but I don’t understand a few things. Like why they hold their pack meetings at 7:00 on a school night; are my kids the only kids who go to bed at a normal time? If it starts at 7:00, it really doesn’t “start” until at least 7:15, and we are usually finished by 8:30-not late by any means, but usually O. is in bed by 8:00 and Sam by 8:30. I don’t ever really say anything, though, because I don’t want them to volunteer me to run them-no thanks. Scouts is already a lot of work and I don’t want to create more!

One thing I am noticing about our house is that already the kids are starting to take me a little bit more seriously these days. Don’t get me wrong; there are obviously still issues and problems that need resolved and a lot of new things to learn and implement. Hannah and Eli both are actually challenging me a little bit more, which is probably to be expected. I think it might have to do with seeing just how serious I am about making changes, seeing just how far I am willing to bend. The answer is, not at all.

Sitting in that class last week, and gearing up to go again tomorrow, I see very clearly what I do NOT want for my kids, or for myself. I think I wrote about my struggles with feeling superior to these other parents, and trying to keep an open mind and not judge them. However, on Monday, the mom of the kid Hannah is not supposed to call or text (did I tell you I had to take her phone away?) stopped by the house with this boy, and it was all, “I hate that fucking school, I hate that Principal, he has does nothing but try to get my son in trouble…” I thought, hmm. With an attitude like that, it is no wonder to me that her child is in trouble; he has clearly learned early on that everyone else is responsible for his poor choices, and he is of course blameless. They live in one of those rent-by-the-week hotels, she does not work, and I don’t know or want to know much else about her. She said to me,”We are just out driving around killing time,” and in the same breath asked if I would give them rides to “that fucking class.” Because she was having a hard time affording the gas. God knows I understand that; I really and truly do. However, she chooses to not work, she has a terrible attitude and is simply showing up at the class in order to prevent her son from going to jail; she has no intention of taking seriously anything talked about. I told her no; I also made a point of telling her about how good our experience at the school has been, and how much I like Mr. A. (I may have exaggerated how “great” it has been, but I really do like Mr. A), and how I did not feel comfortable with her son coming over to or calling or texting my daughter. It appears that I am not going to win any friends here; she kind of sniffed as if to say,”Fuck you,” and drove off throwing gravel. Whatever.

However, it is hard for me to look at my own situation and not feel some empathy for her. I would be willing to say there are probably a LOT of similarities between she and I. She is “with” someone, as there was a man at the class with her last week, but she still seems like a single parent, and it seems pretty obvious to me that where she is, is the result of some poor choices she has made. What I don’t understand or have empathy for is the attitude she carries around with her, that the whole world owes her something and she just wants to sit back and wait or it to happen.

Here is something I have been thinking about a lot in the past few years, but even more so at this moment. On the outside, maybe, I could be this woman. I mean, I might not live in a motel, but I do live in a pretty junky little house (but we ARE on the “right” side of the tracks, if just barely). I am poor, have no education, made really crappy choices in men more than once, which is in part why I am where I am. However, I look at her and think, “White trash,” whereas while I might JOKE about being white trash, I know we are not. What makes we two women in such similar circumstances so different? What made it so that I was able to get this job (sell myself) with little or no skills, start out as a receptionist, and then work my way toward my agent’s license? What is stopping HER from doing the same thing? Or the fact that I can manage to scrape together the $5.00 a month to rent Sam’s violin from the school so he can be in orchestra and she can’t get together $1.00 to buy a bar of soap, yet was smoking and drinking soda? Not that I think she should have to go without those things; that isn’t the point I am getting at. I guess I am just curious as to what makes some of us have different and better priorities than others. It can’t just be circumstance; like I said, ours are, I am fairly sure, very similar, yet the two of us are night and day in how we approach things; what is it that makes us so different?

I can’t pinpoint any one thing, but I think that attitude has a lot to do with it. I have my moments-days and weeks sometimes-where I feel overwhelmed and hopeless; they don’t last, though, and somehow I get up and keep going in the meantime. Is THAT what the difference is? I don’t know, I really don’t. I just know that I don’t want to help her-which makes me feel selfish and hateful as well as ungrateful; after all, I have gotten a lot of help in the last few months. I have gotten cards and treats from friends, I have gotten some money and a gift card, I have gotten clothes for Owen. Isn’t it terrible that I don’t want to do anything for this woman? But then I stop and think about it and realize that it isn’t that I don’t want to help; I have at different times bought groceries for a friend, given money anonymously to one of my customers, sent cards to cheer up a friend, sent flowers to a women having a hard time. It is that I don’t want to help HER. and I really think that is more about her than me.

This is what I think: that we all need help at one time or another, be it financial or emotional or just a sweet, thoughtful card in the mail unexpectedly. However, if people give and give and give and the recipient continually refuses to do the work it takes to get things back on track, they kind of get tired of it. They get tired of the “poor me, my life is terrible and it is ALL someone else’s fault” attitude. This must be what God feels like sometimes, looking down at us. He gives us all this…stuff. Friends and (sometimes) family, myriad opportunities (like totally opening up the door for me to take this class with the kids), a thousand and one different opportunities to make positive changes in our lives, one tiny little step at a time. Yet we sit back and wait for something more, wait to wake up one day and have everything perfect. Though I am not comparing myself to God in ANY way, I imagine he must shake his head and say, “For shiz, people, get off your ass and DO something!” Like I am doing with this woman. People would help her if she wanted to help herself, you know?

I want, every day, to be worthy of everything that has been given to and provided for me. And for my kids. I want people who have helped me and continue to do so to look at me, my family, and think it was time, money, a card, a stamp, a hug, whatever that was well-spent. I look at my life post-divorce and can clearly see how it has gotten better. Slowly but surely, there has been forward movement; I want at some point to be able to sit in front of the Big Guy and have Him say, “I gave you all of these opportunities and you took every one of them. Even if I had to humble you more than once, you accepted the help of my people, you worked hard, and well done.”

Aarargh. The part of this that I hate is that I should probably be more open hearted and generous with this woman, too. Because He has also told me I have to love everyone. I hope that he doesn’t mean I have to give her a ride, too; I hope it means I can just love her from afar.

Rolling Along….

Most of the day, my little “Create Post” window has been lurking around my PC screen. I have started to write something, then stopped and deleted, started all over again, and then just left it alone. This is what I have so far, after 7 hours. Impressive, isn’t it?

So. I am sitting at my desk eating Dove chocolates, feeling a variety of different things, but none of them are forming into any kind of cohesive thought. There are a few good things that have happened, which somewhat balance out the less positive things that are going on, and somehow I am managing to simply get up in the morning, put one foot in front of me, and get through the day. It isn’t a depression I am feeling, it is simply a matter of taking care of those things which need to be taken care of, and trying hard to simply let the rest go.

I think there are times when things just simply become too much to cope with, and therefore there comes a period of internal quiet; I don’t know how to describe it other than that. It isn’t depression, it isn’t craziness, it is simply that there are things being worked out, both internally and externally, and I have really done all I can do right this moment. I do not believe in the old credo “There is ALWAYS more you can do,” because when I fall prey to that attitude, I either run in circles or end up banging my head against a wall because I have tried to force an issue that simply won’t be forced.

I have made a great effort in the last few days to be more aware of the good, too, and the beauty. On Saturday, the three older kids went to the City of Rocks with my friend Janet, and I was able to spend the better part of the day with Owen; that rarely happens. It was marred by a fight of sorts with Steve, but I was able to successfully deflect his issues back on to him and not take them onto myself; that is a sign that even though I have been feeling nutso, I have not forgotten everything I know, and is in fact something to celebrate. I actually got an apology from him as well, which is something close to miraculous. Later, I made soup and homemade noodles, and there is something very therapeutic about kneading, rolling, and cutting dough. The kids came home tired and damp and chilled, and we were able to have a basically good evening at home together.

On Sunday afternoon, we went back to Freddy’s Pond to let the dogs run again; the light was beautiful so I got an opportunity to take some photos of the kids in a tree I really love, so that was fun, too. I like being there; I like that there is all of this room to run, there are frogs for the boys to try to catch and geese for the dogs to chase. Eli had a kite he was attempting to do tricks with like in The Kite Runner, and Owen spent a lot of time pulling the reeds along the water apart to hear that “pop” sound. I said “For Shiz” at some point, and Hannah about fell over laughing; apparently I am too old and not cool enough to say that phrase.

So these are the things that keep me going. Like I said, I am not depressed, I am not feeling crazy, I am just here, sitting quietly and waiting for all of the balls that have started rolling to carry us-me-forward. Thanks to all of you for rolling right along with me.

In Which I Say Thank You

After dinner on Wednesday night, I washed walls. I usually do it a couple of times a year, anyway, but haven’t done it since I was pregnant with Owen over two years ago. Can you say eeeeew? But you all know where I was, emotionally and mentally, on Wednesday and Thursday, and you know, I just didn’t want to yell at my kids. I was also feeling restless, irritable and discontent, and well as being Hungry, Angry, Lonely, and Tired. Those are for me, even after some years sober, MAJOR triggers; I am still SO vulnerable to alcohol, to the sweet, numbing effects of drinking large quantities-so when I get to the point where I was on Wednesday/Thursday, I really just need to stop and reevaluate. I am not AT ALL going to say that I am not worried about money or my kids or that they don’t cause me stress, but at that moment, the most important thing for me to do was not drink. It is so scary sometimes to realize how easy it would be, how all it might take is a bad day; and yet, I have been given all of these tools in AA that when I use them, I don’t drink.

So I took care of the most basic needs: I ate dinner, I called a friend from the program, I made sure to take some extra time with each of the kids, I called another friend from the program, and then I washed walls. It seems so silly, but it works for me. I cried while washing, but it felt cleansing (no pun intended). Steve came over to give Owen his bath and read to him, and I took the time to go outside and sit on the porch for 15 minutes before having to go back in and engage. And I made a conscious decision to stop fighting. Not meaning giving up, not at all, but accepting that this is life at this moment, and just because it sucks right now doesn’t mean it is going to suck forever. And that I need to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and doing what I can do on a daily basis and things will fall into place. Or not. But the key for me is to focus on the things which are right in front of me, and trust that if I keep doing that, it is going to be okay-whatever “okay” ultimately looks like.

Through some creative financing (and thanks again to my friend Chuck, who certainly doesn’t read my blog because he doesn’t trust computers and I wouldn’t want him to ANYWAY because he still thinks I am sweet and kind), between the $$ that he stuffed in my pocket last week, the returning of the bras, and Eli’s mowing money (no, I did NOT borrow money from my kid; I TOOK it from him. He owes me the mowing money and any other $$ he earns for the foreseeable future), I was able to pay for the first half of the class last night and put gas in the car in order to make it to and from the class. I am grateful; above all else, this is what seemed the most important to me at this moment. I also spent a good part of the day yesterday (I posted in the early am, or rather scheduled the post I wrote on Wednesday evening to post early) making phone calls and trying to get things taken care of as best as I could. It is just a matter of getting through this next little while, and with the help of some people who would rather remain anonymous but know who they are, I will get through this next six weeks until everything gets back on track. Thankfully, I have not had to contact my mom, and with luck and careful management, I won’t have to.

I want to rant and rave again about how crazy it is to still-at 36 years old!-be in a place where ONE major deviation from the budget is a tragedy, but I don’t have the energy today. Instead, I am feeling tired and weepy but quiet inside. I don’t have any answers; I know that I made certain choices a really long time ago that led me to this place, but the time for blame is long past. I also know that thing have been progressively getting better (I used to live on the edge like this ALL.THE.TIME. Literally). What can I be doing differently? I don’t know. I can’t pare the budget any closer; therefore, I think I just need to keep doing what I am doing. That pretty well sums it all up for me; this is where things are, and as long as I don’t GIVE UP, they will get better.

I look around and see so many things going on and know that while money is and has been my biggest personal issue, we all have something. I was at that class last night (about which I will blog another day) and we are the only family who doesn’t HAVE to be there; Eli might be in a terrible place right now, and I have no doubt that we are ALL going to learn from what this class has to offer, but neither his nor Hannah’s behavior can be compared to that of the other kids. There was a group of kids who had absolutely NO respect for anyone in that room, including themselves. I was in a classroom later with the other parents, realizing that I was the ONLY single parent there and thinking that maybe I am not doing such a terrible job after all. I know and read blogs of other people who are struggling with family issues or health issues-terrible ones-and while it doesn’t negate my own experience, neither does it mean I get to corner the market on pain and suffering.

I had a whole eloquent paragraph I wanted to write just then, but really, I just don’t have it in me today. Just know that what you guys say-not just the blog folk who really ARE friends (and wow, how strange is that, really?) but my in-real-life friends-it does matter. It makes a difference. It makes me feel not so alone, not quite so crazy. And whether it is a financial way or otherwise, I simply cannot repay back those who have given me just what I need at the time when I need it. I hope to, at some point; to be a good friend, and a good support, and just be able to help.