An Interview with ME

I am actually quite thrilled with this particular meme, partly because it is one that I haven’t seen before and partly because I like the kinds of meme’s that actually require me to think. In three minutes I could come up with some smart-ass answer to all of these, and that would be that-but I really like to have some questions that require me to actually contemplate the answers. So a special thanks to Kerrie over at Life at Number 14 for both the idea and the questions.

1. If you could have one wish granted for 2009, what would it be..??

Only one? That really isn’t fair, I have to say. There are so many things I would like to see happen, so many people I want to wish good things for…How about if I just say that I wish for every single person I love to have the kind of year they absolutely need, want, and deserve?

2. What do you find the best thing about being a sole parent..??

I am glad you didn’t specify “one best thing” on this one, because there are many. For one thing, I really enjoy knowing where my money is going. I might not have enough 90% of the time, but at least I know that our very basic needs are going to be taken care of. I also really enjoy being able to cook what WE like for meals, as opposed to things we will tolerate in order to please the Great God Husband. It has also been really, really neat to get to forge new traditions with each other, and to learn how to simply enjoy each other for who we are. Those are things none of us had when I was married, so they are all the more special now. We were all so sick and dysfunctional that we spend the majority of our time trying to please The Man, and the pieces of us that were blighted by that behaviour (and his abuse, let’s not forget) are just now beginning to bloom again.

3. …and the most difficult..??

Everything else.

No, there are many facets to this one, for sure. From a strictly parental standpoint, I would have to say the fact that I am IT. I am the one the kids come to for support, guidance, love, money, things, as well as the one they take it out on when they are pissed about something. I am also operating one one income, which is hard. ALL of the discipline falls to me, and I am the only driver in the house as well so the taxiing to and from different things is on me. When one of the younger kids is ill, I have to stay home from work, and every medical-related thing is mine as well. I also have a hard time with not having the emotional support and backup when making tough decisions or going through struggles. I see sometimes these couples who just have that knowledge and certainty that the other one is going to be there to reinforce decisions and help with the follow-through, and I don’t have that. From a purely personal standpoint, I miss having someone to sleep with at night. The dogs just aren’t the same, and if they were, well, I think that is illegal.

4. What is the one vice you have that you could never give up..??

Oh fer shiz. Is drinking a gallon of coffee while smoking AND having sex-with a dessert plate balanced on my stomach as well-considered a VICE?

5. Where or when do you feel most at peace..??

It sounds silly and probably IS, but when the bills are all paid and there is food in the fridge/cupboard. When I can snuggle up on the couch at night with my book or my Gameboy or my journal and listen to the kids breathe, giggle, snuggle in their own beds. When I am with someone who doesn’t look at me as if I have grow two heads when I tell them how much I truly, deeply, passionately love my kids. When I feel just the smallest sense of how sacred and beautiful life really is, that there is just the one life and I better just live it.

So there you have it, my very own interview! How cool is that? If you would like to play along, post a comment saying “Interview me!” and I will send you some questions. Make sure I have your email address, though.

Happy New Year to all of you, and may it be a blessed, safe, and joyous year for all of you.

A Post About Excess

I want to talk about excess here for a minute. We went to a birthday party for Steve’s niece last night; she will be turning a year old tomorrow ( a YEAR. Yes, that is important to embed in your minds. One. Year. Old.). the family always has parties at a local pizza joint, so the venue was no big thing; however, we usually go in the back and sit at a couple of long tables they have back there. Last night, we were directed upstairs to the banquet room where there were, I kid you not, at least 50 people there. For a first birthday party.

*** I will freely admit here that part of my annoyance is petty and ridiculous; the only reason anyone came to Owen’s first birthday party was because we had it at the same time as Steve’s mom’s 60th birthday, and only a couple of people brought Owen gifts. No one in the family save Steve’s parents came to Owen’s 2nd birthday party, and they bought him two cheap outfits from Kings and a couple of balls. So to sit there and watch the baby rip open these really expensive toys and clothes and such, surrounded by such a huge number of people, kind of made me see green for a minute (I am over it now, as I am well aware that Owen has a whole lot of things that this baby is NEVER going to have that have nothing to do with material shit and who shows up at a party).***

Anyway, there were games and gifts and balloons and cake and ice cream and more gifts, and all the while I was looking around thinking two things. 1. Is this really necessary? and 2. Good thing the baby isn’t going to remember this party, because she will totally expect this every year if she did. Am I the only one who thinks this is just a little ridiculous? I am all for celebrating birthdays, don’t get me wrong, and of course we buy gifts and have a family party. However, that whole renting-a-banquet-room-to-accommodate-everyone-thing just seems nuts to me.

While we were there (and continuing on with the whole theme of excess), I was talking to another of Steve’s sisters (she has two kids, one boy who is 8 and they recently adopted a little girl the same age, or close to) about the holidays at their house, and she was just livid. Apparently, the kids were not impressed with their gifts from mom, dad, or Santa, and threw a couple of them away and then threw the brand new Wii on the floor and broke it. Can you believe that shit? Come ON, if they didn’t want the damn Wii they could have given it to us; really. I have several different thoughts about this as well. One is that this is not the first time either of them have done something like this. Two years ago when camping, the boy broke his Gameboy (and who lets a kid bring their portable DVD player and a Gameboy camping?) and then told MY kids, “It doesn’t matter, my mom will buy me a new one, and I didn’t like this color anyway.” And then he took a steak knife and sliced the upholstery on the seats in their $50,000 camp trailer because the DVD player was skipping. This kid is a menace, and now that they have adopted the little girl, they are BOTH like that. So mom gets all bent out of shape and hurt and angry when they pull something like this, but at the same time really does nothing to prevent it from happening. I shudder to think of the pain those two are going to have to go through when they get into Jr. high, when their shitty attitude and sense of entitlement are going to have people running away from them in disgust.

I just don’t understand the mentality of some parents; I mean, really, can they not SEE that nobody really likes their kids (not the baby; despite the ginormous party, I think her mom and dad have enough sense to make sure that she is well-balanced)? They are cute kids, sure, and somewhere under the spoiled rotten mess they are surely sweet, but even adults (meaning other adults, not JUST me) have a hard time being around them. I don’t get it.

However, it makes me grateful that my kids are NOT like that. Don’t get me wrong-they can be real jerks sometimes, and lately Sam has been on a kick of pestering everyone in the house to the point of needing to run for fear of being grievously harmed, and they all get shitty attitudes at times. We are far from perfect, nor are we even close. However, it would never occur to my kids to throw brand new toys away, or break them simply because they don’t like the color, and it would never even cross their minds to pick up a knife and slash the upholstery on a piece of furniture. First of all, the things that they have are pretty important to them, they have generally had to wait to get whatever it might be, so they tend to take pretty good care of them. Second, if they did something like that, they know well that they will experience the Wrath of Mom, and it won’t be pretty.

And selfishly, there is this as well. Here I am, doing it alone and having done it alone for quite some time, and yet my kids are the ones that people-other adults and kids alike-genuinely enjoy being around. Go figure. Kind of warms the cockles of your heart, doesn’t it?

Christmas Wrap-Up

I don’t even know where to begin. Perhaps you would like to hear about the fact that the kids were so excited by the sheer number of gifts under the tree that they were up and down all night wondering, “Is it time to get up yet?” We are talking at 2:00 a.m., again at 4:30, and finally at 5:45. Apparently at some point I had told them that I would NOT get out of bed before 6:00; I heard them all wake, and Steve kept poking me, and the very second the clock ticked over to 6:00, Eli popped up and sang, “Merry Christmas, it’s time to get up!” Just to be naughty, then, I made them ALL wait in the bedroom while I went out and started to coffee and stood outside having a veeeeerry leisurely smoke while the dog went potty. The absolute amazement when they walked out into the living room was definitely a sight to see.

Maybe instead you would like to know that after we got done setting the “Santa” gifts out under the tree on Christmas Eve, I sat there and cried like a baby, completely at a loss for words. Or that even later that afternoon when April called me, I was still in a daze and could not form a coherent sentence to save my life. The things sent were nothing short of a miracle; there were toys (to the person who sent the Nerf dart guns: you will be pleased to know that the boys have delighted in shooting darts at this snowman we have hanging on the wall, laughing hysterically every time they hit it because then it appears as if he has a tiny orange penis. Perhaps I should be more strict about stuff like that, but since I thought it was funny as well, hard to do. We are a simple family, easily amused), there were games (dude. Man Bites Dog is THE funniest game in the world, hands down. As is Scattergories, because I read so much and am so nerdy that I kick.ass. at. it.), there was jewelry…the list goes on.

So a special, huge, heartfelt thanks goes out to Mr. Lady AND to April for ensuring that we had such a wonderful Christmas. I believe it was Mr. Lady’s idea, and she harnessed her powers for good to convince people I don’t even know to send us things. April was, I think, sort of the liaison as well, since she knows me so well. I am not sure how many of you want to remain anonymous, so perhaps I won’t mention any other names, but thank you all, so much. Also, there are many who I couldn’t name if I tried, as there were no names provided. So thank you for the lovely earrings, and the gift cards, and the necklace for Hannah with the beautiful star on it. Thank you for the tent, and the BOOKS (how did you know that Calvin and Hobbes AND Ripley’s Believe It Or Not would be huge hits at my house?), and the yummy foot scrub stuff that makes my feet look so pretty. Thank you for the marshmallow shooters and the Nerf football and the Frisbee, for the aforementioned Nerf dart guns and the Iron Man Robot. The trucks and cars for Owen, the really neat puzzles for him, the t-shirts for Eli and the Tommy Hilfiger boxer shorts ( he told me to specifically mention those, because he said he feels like a real man when he wears them), the journal and the cross-stitch kit for Hannah. Thank you SO much for the gift cards and, yes, the money, because for the first time in a long time we have a full fridge. April and someone else helped pay for Sam’s spiffy new glasses (which are SO cute, and thank you Jebus he can SEE!), someone else some new clothes for Hanna, and in fact all the kids got new clothes AND shoes. Sam got the coveted Easy Bake Oven, and all of it-ALL of it-was paid for by all of you.

I know I have missed a lot of you, left a lot of you out, and please forgive me. Please forgive me for being, still, so stunned and grateful at the generosity of strangers, the willingness of people to organize this whole event and make sure we were taken car of. And yes, taken care of in the material sense, but also on a much more fundamental level than that. The simple act of gifts sent nurtured my spirit, that part of me which has seen a lot of the really unsavory aspects o human nature over the last year. Thank you all for reminding me that for every really, really crappy, lowlife human being out there, there are ten to make up for it. Thank you for making my family and I feel so loved and yes, special, cherished, pampered. I truly don’t have any more words now than when I started, so please, accept this as the genuine thank you it is.

Christmas Eve Post

In a few short hours, my kids and I will be in church with Janet and Rob; their church is a simple one, with old wooden pews that have been burnished with years of sliding into them, standing up, kneeling. It will be dark outside, so the sun can’t shine in through the stained glass windows, but there will be candles and the secret smell of people congregating to celebrate this season. We will pray and sing, and I will go to the front and kneel to have that smooth, sweet wafer placed on my tongue, and I will stay there for a moment with my head bowed in gratitude and humility.

Tonight we will be at Steve’s, and we will eat dinner-we have a tradition now, of smoked pork chops and snack foods and, of course, milk and cookies-and watch a Christmas movie of some sort before the kids are all reluctantly tucked into bed. Tonight, too, I will be able to set out presents; presents sent to us by people I don’t even know and people whom I know and love, all because of this crazy blogging thing I started a year or so ago. There will be the coveted Easy Bake Oven for Sam from Santa, complete with an apron that Jacquie decorated for him and several additional mixes-paid for with gift cards sent by some of you. There will be candy, and stocking stuffers, and gifts under the tree in amounts they have quite literally never seen before. I truly do not have the words to let every one of you know how thankful I am for all of you-the surprise and wonder on all the kids’ faces has been a sight to see, and I wish every one of you would be able to be there to see what you have given them. Given us.

It isn’t about the presents; it is about people who have reached out and showed us love and support. People who have, in my opinion, gone out of their way to be of service to someone else. To us. Not because they feel sorry for us, not because they pity us, but because they simply want to make it better for us this year. I know some of my readers don’t believe in God or a Higher Power of any kind, and that is okay-but to me, this is evidence that God works in my life. You can’t know how much of a relief it has been to not have to have the constant, gnawing worry about money always there. You can’t know just how huge it has been to be able to take time off for the ongoing situation with Hannah and have to count the financial cost; you can’t know how overwhelmed and grateful I feel for the fact that this huge group of people has made it so I can clearly concentrate on being there for my family in the midst of the turmoil and uncertainty of things.

And tonight, I will say a prayer for every one of you. That your holiday will be as blessed and full as mine will be, that you go to bed feeling peace and joy and wonder. That you will rest in the knowledge that there are a lot of really, really good people out there, and that you are not alone. I will pray for certain ones of you to have a moment or two of true grace, for others to have blessed, much needed solitude, for one in particular to have really great, impregnating-type sex. I pray for the babies growing in several of you right now, and for the kids some of you already have. And for each one of you, I pray for you to feel just the tiniest bit of what I am feeling today, and know that you are loved.

And this? THIS is for April.
Happy Holidays!!!!!!

The Party Is Over

One more hurdle over with; the office dinner last night is over, and I managed to get through it relatively unscathed. There was one awkward moment when the boss’ wife said, “So are we expecting another person?” after the rest of us had congregated, but I just laughed and said, “Heavens no!” and that was that. The food was good, although there was way too much of it (which you will not often hear me say), and the company was also good. I like that part of it, the talking around the table and keeping it light; what I DON’T like is the cozy atmosphere afterward where someone might get me cornered and ask me things I don’t want to answer. It is funny; everyone in the office KNOWS about the ongoing situation with Hannah, but I have tried very hard to not let my true emotions come out. Have to maintain the image of being okay, have to make sure the boss knows that I am truly dedicated to the job and am not going to let the outside issues affect my performance (which I have been, but I fake it well). Amber, the receptionist, is the only one who knows how I REALLY feel, partly because she reads the blog and partly because she is nice; she doesn’t ignore the crying in the cubicle, and I don’t have to feel embarrassed about tearing up in front of her if she asks how we are doing. I was thinking, too, that it is a blessing to have at least one person who will not shy away or cringe when I answer, “No, we are not okay” when asked; that is such a freeing thing. It doesn’t CHANGE anything, but it is nice not to pretend all of the time.

Anyway, I skipped the whole going to the boss’ house afterward, using the excuse that I did not want to leave Eli home with the little boys too long. While under most circumstances that would be true, I also knew that Owen would be in bed at just after 8:00, so I was stretching the truth a little bit. I think that is a truth-stretching with which I can live, though. When I got home, Owen was waiting in bed for me to come sing to him, and Sam was all sleepy and curled up on the floor waiting to say goodnight, and I would much rather be there than at a party.

I feel very calm and quiet inside today. We still have all of this stuff going on, of course, and after the new year we will have to jump right back in to the reality of trial dates and counseling appointments, we will have to deal with this situation head on again, but for now it feels really nice to not have that looming over our heads. So far as another income goes, there are a couple of possibilities out there, and while again that doesn’t solve the problems right this minute, it does bode well for the future. What I like is not feeling so stuck; I always feel better after I have taken action of some sort, even if it doesn’t GO anywhere or turns out to have been a wrong choice.

And today is my 200th post; shouldn’t there be some sort of fanfare, some waving of flags or a celebration of some sort? Hm. Perhaps I will go in the back and get another cup of coffee and a chocolate cookie and call it good.

P.S. I have gotten requests from a few of you to follow me on Twitter, and I wanted to let you know that I am not simply ignoring you or declining. Instead, what has happened is that I cannot remember my password and, okay, I never could figure out the whole thing. So there. I still adore all of you just as much, I just haven’t had the time or the inclination to retrieve my passwird and try it again. That is also why I quit Plurking; I only lasted two days and felt like was trying to read the dictionary while on crack.

Monday Schmonday

It is a beautiful afternoon here, with the snow still soft and deep, not yet marred by wind and leaves and garbage and dog shit. I went home for lunch and the boys were gleefully gearing up for an afternoon out of doors, carrying empty laundry-soap buckets with which to make perfect squares for their forts. They have all been cleaning furiously today, without being asked, in preparation for Christmas Day, which makes me smile. Of course, their method of cleaning involves putting things wherever they can find room, which in our tiny house is no small feat. It will inevitable involve cries of “Where is my other red shoe?” and “Why are there packages of Ramen in the toy box?” but I am going to make a concerted effort to NOT get angry with them when I can’t find something. They are working really hard, and are obviously proud of themselves, and I am just going to try my hardest to make sure they continue to feel that sense of accomplishment. I also do not want to upset the balance so that I might end up doing most of it myself-so I am not being completely altruistic here, in case any of you were under the mistaken impression that I might be. I am just lazy, really.

Funny, I just had to call one of our companies in the Pacific Northwest to make a change on a policy, and they are closed due to weather conditions. A week ago I would have laughed and thought, “Oh, what, they got an inch?” but my friend in Seattle emailed me photos this morning and they are getting totally hammered with snow as well. Going back to the being lazy thing, this actually makes me happy-this company in particular is not one of my favorite ones to deal with, so I can actually put it off for a few days without feeling guilty; cool beans.

Get this: a woman called the office to tell me blah blah blah I just can’t afford to pay the insurance right now (this is the same woman who, about two weeks ago, called to say, “I JUST got in an accident, is there any way you can start up my insurance again effective today?” Um, no. Illegal, baby, plus perhaps you should have figured in the cost of insurance before you bought a 2008 Dodge Pickup? Just sayin‘.), but I know for a fact that yesterday she went to town and bought a Playstation 3 for her son for Christmas. These people are friends, or rather friends-once-removed (their son and Eli are best friends, have been for several years), so that’s how I know this-and it drives me crazy. Eli spends a lot of time at their house and gets jealous of M. because he has everything-the Guitar Hero thing, PS2 and now PS3, all of the newest and latest clothes/styles/whatever; what he doesn’t see is the nasty underneath like no insurance and worrying all of the time about their home getting foreclosed on. I understand about wanting your kids to have nice things, but not at the expense of regular bills being paid. I don’t understand that kind of mentality, I really don’t.

My company party is tonight; we are going to a local place for dinner and, I think, have our little gift exchange, and then we are supposed to congregate at the boss’ house for games and such. I don’t mind so much the dinner part-we will all be sitting at one big table, so my alone-ness won’t be so obvious. However, I am really, really dreading doing the game thing. We always play games that need teams, and it feels like grade school where I know I am going to be the last one picked for a team. I hate the whole “cozy up on the couch with your partner” thing, I hate the casual kisses and the goddamned hand-holding. Yes, yes, we are spending time with Steve over the holiday, and yes, I am grateful and all of that, but it still sucks to show up at a company party alone. And I swear, if the server this year says ,”Where is your date?” like the one last year did, I might run out of the room screaming.

Otherwise, I have nothing else to report-and with all that has been happening here the last few months, it is almost nice to have nothing new to say.

The Bonus of a Sunday Post

The stomach bug that Owen had has ripped through our entire house like wildfire; Sam was stricken Friday night and into the wee hours of Saturday morning, then Eli came home form his friend’s house sicker than sick. By Saturday evening I had it as well (and it is the true measure of friendship that we were shopping with Jacquie and Hannah and her boys, and Jacquie patiently waited outside the bathroom for me to make sure I hadn’t vomited up a vital stomach organ. Also, on the way home, she had to pull over once so I could barf on the side of the road; I didn’t even get the truck door closed before spewing everywhere, so she and all the kids had to hear it. Believe me, all barriers are down now. It struck me, though, that I haven’t had to have someone pull the car over so I could puke since I quit drinking-a bonus even in the midst of shit. Literally). then, early this morning, Hannah got it as well.

The best thing about this bug is that it is relatively short lived. I am fine now, as are all the boys, and I think Hannah is fine, just tired. We are at Jacquie’s as I write this doing some Christmas baking; cookie dough is chilling, we have peanut clusters and chocolate-covered spoons hardening, and fudge is next on the list. It has been years since I have done any kind of holiday baking; I can’t remember why I ever stopped, unless it has something to do with all these kids and no money. To be in the house of a friend and be very companionable baking together is really, really neat.

Sam finally had his eye appointment yesterday; poor kid, he can only see about 8 inches in front of him, so I am amazed that he is still doing well in school. We get to pick up his glasses on the day after Christmas, and Sam is completely thrilled with the prospect of it. Steve’s mom had Owen and Sam all day yesterday, so she is actually the one who helped him pick out the glasses; I told her what I DIDN’T want for him, and they came up with some round metal ones; he says he looks like Harry Potter, which is funny to even imagine. I feel like shit that his eyes were SO bad, though. I have had the money saved for the exam but didn’t have enough for the lenses and such, which is why it has taken so long. Still, the fact is that this kid has been basically half-blind for several months now, and here I am yelling at him for sitting so close to the TV. I have ALSO been yelling t him because he acts like he doesn’t hear me half the time, but the eye doctor told Linda that Sam has been using his ears to help him make up for the things he can’t see; therefore, when he hasn’t heard me, it is probably because he has been focusing on listening to the TV to make up for the stuff he can’t see. Odd. Anyway, Sam is excited, which is good, and thinks that the glasses are part of his Christmas present, which is also good.

Another good thing: we were all still gone when Steve got home from work, so he went over to his mom’s and picked up both Owen and Sam and took them to his sister’s house. His nephew just got back from a mission, so there was a big family thing going on-dinner and visiting and candy making, and I know it really meant a lot to Sam to be included. Even better than the chance to go was when they got home and Steve was telling me how GOOD they both were; I could see Sam visibly puff up with pride when Steve was so complimentary toward him. So no, Steve isn’t his dad, and never will be, but he can give Sam some of that attention he so desperately needs, and for that I am grateful.

There is much to be grateful for today. I am grateful for the snow, for the smell of chocolate cooking, for the fact that I am no longer sick so I can eat large amounts of it. I am grateful for the help of those who have made this Christmas be one of hope and joy instead of fear and worry and sadness. Someone recently said to me that she hopes I can feel the joy of the human spirit; along with the lovely sentiment came a door-hanging that says, “Believe in the magic of Christmas.” and I think I am, I do. There is an entire blog post just waiting for Christmas to be over before it can be written, but for the moment, none of this wonderful stuff, feelings, events have been MY doing, and I am so grateful.

And speaking of gratitude, I won a Hot Blogger Calendar from Mama Smurf and can I just say a heartfelt “Day-ummmm.” Because I thought BusyDad was hot, but Mr. December? Whew. I would like for him to sugar MY cookies, I tell you. Just sayin.’