Archive for the ‘O discordia!’ Category

Don’t worry: I’m still swimming.

March 25, 2017

I’ve been having quite a time of it lately. I don’t know how it works for you, but when I’m wrestling with something – an idea, a problem, demons, ghosts, tweenagers, break-ups, and the worst of them all, feelings – well, I shut down. I go into power-save mode so I can ensure that I have energy for the most important things. I feed the kids. Supervise homework. Buy groceries. Go to Beauty in the Beast. Force myself to go to work. The girls know I’ve been…not my best. They think I’m sick. [And, honestly, on top of everything else, I have been sick. I made them draw blood to see if I had listeria because of the constant stomach issues and the fact that I’d eaten some of the recalled Sargento cheese. Why you play me like that, cheese?]

Depression isn’t an easy thing. Yes, that’s the most obvious statement I could possibly have made, but here’s the thing: saying it out loud helps. Writing it helps me even more, given my affinity for writerly occupations. Writing is my oxygen. Writing and reading, they’re one of my best measurements to gauge my mental health and overall well-being. This past week (and maybe longer? I don’t know, honestly, how wide this pond has stretched) I haven’t been able to post because I haven’t been able to write. I couldn’t think of anything worthwhile. When I did think of something, I couldn’t imagine that it would hold any value for any one reading it. Why post useless material? But I persisted. I sat every morning and tried to think of anything of value; things that would necessitate more than three sentences to sum things up. Because I wouldn’t let myself just throw my hands in the air (metaphorically; my depression sucks all energy out of me and I couldn’t even throw my hands in the air in exasperation in my head). I made myself type things out, start stories I didn’t like, just to go through the motions. To fucking do something. I have a couple dozen drafts from last week. I might have written something, but I couldn’t post it. I wasn’t close to swimming to shore, but at least I was treading water. When you’re in the muck as bad as I was, “just” treading water is amazing. It’s a gold star. Getting your mind to loosen the grip on the thoughts of uselessness, panic, anxiety, and general despair…it’s exhausting, but also rewarding because a tiny voice is in there telling you that you made a bit of progress. There’s hope. I was still swimming. Or, trying to anyway.

Gracie kept asking for blog posts. A few book club partners asked if they had missed my Thursday reviews. I imagine Kathy is probably one step from boarding a plane and showing up on my doorstep. But other than that, it’s been quiet. Either everyone is giving me space. Or they have been busy and don’t notice. Maybe I’m barely a ripple in their pond.

But that’s okay. Them, waiting it out. It’s what I needed. I don’t know why I was moved to finally write a post tonight. I don’t know why I wanted to explain all of a sudden. I’m not embarrassed by my conditions. Depression and anxiety are heavily stigmatized in our society, and that’s not right. You can’t seek help if you’re afraid to say what’s wrong. If you’re afraid to admit even to yourself what’s wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being depressed. It’s not your fault if you are. Tell yourself what’s wrong. Tell someone else what’s wrong (if you can). And seek self-care and let others care for you, too.

I’m doing better. I kept swimming (just keep swimming – Dory gives the best advice). I know that I have a wonderful village standing by, ready to throw in a life preserver if I need it. I know that things will get better. It won’t always be like this; it won’t always feel like this. I’m okay, guys. I’m writing. And in just a few seconds, I’ll hit the publish button. I’m back. Ish, but hey! I’m here!

Oh, trust me – it would be justifiable homicide.

March 15, 2017

I was thinking of how many people would be mad at me – my cousins, my friends, my siblings (well, one of them), my girls, myself (…eh)… And so I didn’t open the gate. I grabbed that dog by the collar and I started the trek across the grass, through the mud, flung open the gate (with my hand very firmly on the dog’s collar), and marched him over to the neighbor’s house. For the fifth time in three days.

Everyone on Facebook has heard the complaints already. My neighbor means well. He does. He tries to be a good neighbor, a good father, and an honorable man. The problem is… well, there are a few of them. There’s a language barrier, which makes any interaction with him a struggle. He works two or three jobs to provide for his large, extended family who live with him. He spoils his two sons (ages 7 & 9 maybe?) rotten so that they’re absolute brats when he’s not around (uh, which is any time between 6a and 10p, because two jobs). So, yeah, a few problems. The latest of which is that they have too many dogs and not enough f*@)s to give.

The first dog the family has is not a favorite in our end of the neighborhood. It’s allowed to roam freely and it will charge and nip you (or just plain terrorize you) if my neighbor isn’t out. And the boys? I mentioned how terrible they are; they don’t care to make the beagle/Jack Russel terrier mix stay in their yard while they play. So I was a little leery when I found out about the second dog, a pit bull/rhinoceros mix who is so sweet, but so huge! and likes to jump on you from behind and smother you in puppy kisses.

I found out about the second puppy, Brownie, the last time I had to go yell at the neighbor for leaving the dog(s) out all night and letting them whine under my bedroom window for two hours at 2 a.m. [That’s also when I saw my neighbor hit his son for leaving the gate open and letting the dog get out at night. Which, uh, no thanks.] I really got to know Brownie, though, when neighbor caught me one day when I came home from work. Sidestory! I had just put down the garage and heard someone banging on the garage door just before it finished sliding all the way down. Who does that?! Creepers and serial killers, that’s who! The “knocking” continued, so I went into the house, stepped around a frenzied Fenway, looked out the front window and didn’t see anyone. Because they were already knocking on my front door. The peephole (god bless peepholes) said it was my neighbor, so I went out and we struggled through a conversation (the man speaks three languages, I’m not knocking him; it’s just painful) about replacing the fence on our shared side of the yard. I knew it was something I was going to have to do after I got my taxes back – that fence is beyond rotten. Slats are missing. We’ve patched the holes as best we can to keep the dogs away from each other. And his kids like to throw things through the missing parts because: brats. So I had unlatched the gate and we were walking back there and talking and Brownie was with him, unleashed, just jumping on the two of us and trying to love on everything. And marking his territory everywhere. Pooping in my yard. You know. Neighbor dude mentioned how the puppy was eating everything in his house and wasn’t training up really well, but his boys loved him. I noted how friendly the dog was cried a little on the inside because all we needed was another problem dog.

And problem dog he was. Thank GOD the sweet pup-pup was as loving as he was. If he was mean, I’d probs be dead or mangled by now. Because that dang thing can wiggle through some pretty small holes, which is a doggy miracle, given the size of the thing. He immediately started busting into our yard, trying to get to Fenway. Or see what there was to see. Or just because – who knows. I just know that half the times I looked up into our yard, there would be Brownie. At first I just coaxed him back through the holes left by the missing fence slats. Neighbor and I kept replacing them, or jimmying together some temporary fix that we thought patched the fence good enough to prevent jailbreaks. But there would be that dang dog again. Brownie would come up to me when I went outside to “fix” it – eventually. He might dance up and dart away a few times, wanting to give me some puppy kisses, but knowing I was going to send him away. If I wasn’t so frustrated, I woulda laughed at how obviously torn the puppy was.

I kinda lost my patience after this weekend, though. Five jailbreaks in three days. FIVE. The dog was tearing my screens trying to see in the house, chewing on my patio furniture, and pooping on the patio! (The poop ended up over the fence on top of the neighbor’s a/c unit. I don’t know how. Honestly. ish.) I was all done being a good neighbor.

I started bringing the dog to their front door, thinking that would emphasize to them how often this was happening. Then I put the dog on a leash to give them an idea that they could let their dog out on a leash. In fact, when the boys answered the door, I started making that suggestion. “You guys need to get this under control, or maybe use a leash.” And then, “Tell your dad that he needs to hurry up and fix the fence, or you’ll have to use a leash for the dog every time because this is getting ridiculous.” That was the time the boys slammed the door in my face as soon as they had the puppy. And I might have yelled through the door exactly what I thought of that response when I was being pretty cool about the dang dog. I thought about telling my neighbor about the door being slammed in my face, but since he had hit the boys before for not listening to him, I didn’t want to be a party to whatever fallout would happen if he knew his kids had disrespected me that way. But I did plenty of fuming.

This is when everyone started telling me to start documenting the problem, or maybe call animal control. But I hated to do that. My neighbor genuinely is a good guy. He’s just not there because he’s trying to live the American Dream and you need a lot of paychecks to do that when you’re making what we’re making. He’s a guy who patched my roof once and has offered 2938209348 times since then to help with it again. He always waves and would help with any problem I had. When I went over to complain about his dog, he thought I was talking about the stray dog that had attacked him, and so he took a butcher knife because he thought he was coming out to rescue me. Neighbor is a good guy – just absent and not able to easily communicate when he is there. So I don’t think he’s manipulating the situation or trying to take advantage of me. The neighbors would judge me if I called the cops on one of us (we’re a tight-knit community and we try to handle our problems inside the family first), even though I’m sure they’d understand once I explained. So I don’t think Neighbor was banking on me not breaking the code, either. I think he just doesn’t know how often it’s happening because he’s not there and his bratty boys aren’t telling him.

I was already past the point of caring how mad anyone got because I was done. I had had a long day at work, I didn’t need to chase down and drag the neighbor’s dog back to his house twice. I wanted to unwind and go to bed in peace. But I couldn’t, because the doorbell rang at 9 p.m. I stared at the door, jaw agape, wondering what the heck. I had just started shutting down the house for the night, but the lights where still on so they could see someone was up. That doesn’t obligate me to answer the door, but I had a sneaky suspicion that it was the neighbors. I had heard a noise outside and did a quick scan, but didn’t see Brownie. Then again, it was pitch black. Which also meant I couldn’t see who was at the door without putting on the porch lights. I couldn’t put on porch lights without them knowing I was up. The doorbell had run again and knocking had started while I tried to decide what to do. Finally I decided that if I didn’t answer and it was the neighbors looking for their dog, they’d probably just open my gate and come on in. Which, after I opened the door, saw it was one of the boys, and let him through the house to go get the dog from the yard, I found out is exactly what happened. But no dog. I hoped that the dog had escaped and was running around the neighborhood, never to be found (yes, I’m a bad person going to hell), but after I ushered the neighbors out of my house and my yard, I heard them out in their front and back yards yelling and shrieking and whistling – but mostly shrieking – for more than thirty minutes. Yes, Spring Break week, but who lets their kids be that loud outside after 9p on a weeknight?!

So I’m done. Done, done, done. I haven’t quite figured out what that means, but for sure there’s going to be a firm discussion with my neighbor. And I’m going to hand him one of my extra leashes, because I’m pretty sure he’ll follow through on that plan. But something has to be done. If the fence can’t be fixed right now, then maybe they need a run for their dog. I’ll tell him that the last thing I want to do is create hard feelings by calling animal control to report the dog when it’s gotten loose, but the situation has gotten out of control.

Like I said – justifiable homicide. The problem is, at this point I’m not sure if I’m more upset with the dog, the neighbor, or those two bratty boys!

Spring break is broken.

March 13, 2017

I don’t know if I can write when I’m this tired. And, you guys, I am exhausted, no matter how you say it. Tarrrrd, as you’d hear down here. Tie-yid, as you’d hear back home.  Mmmphmph, as you’d hear muffled against my pillow.

I knew taking such a late nap yesterday was a mistake. The problem was, I was so exhausted yesterday that I nearly as dangerous behind the wheel, and I knew I wanted Lebanese food later. So I need a nap. At 2 p.m. On a Sunday, without a day off behind it to buffer any wonky sleep patterns I created.

Guess what I created?

Wonky sleep patterns for the win.

It didn’t help that we sprang? sprung? sproohovened? forward, further breaking my sleeping habits. [Confession: my habits weren’t all that habitual. The delayed-sleep/early-wake insomniac will step aside now.] So, yes, I needed a nap yesterday at 3 p.m. clock time. Which was, uh, 2 p.m. body time. Not terrible, but not great. And, like I said, utterly exhausted. So I let myself lie down for just a few minutes. At 4-friggin-thirty, I got up. And I was tired again for bed at 8, so I didn’t think I’d done that much damage. Until I watched the clock tick by without any sleep. How can a person be that. tired. and not fall asleep? It baffles me.

I finally fell asleep about midnight. And woke up every thirty minutes or so. I’m sure that was incredibly restorative. At 3 a.m., my body could feel me mocking the sleep I was getting and decided to give up the ghost. There’s just a certain feeling that some not-sleeping has wherein it lacks the optimism that other not-sleep still maintains. In other words, sometimes I still hope I can fall back asleep, and sometimes I just know with absolute certainty that I won’t.

Last night – this morning – I knew I wouldn’t. And so I got up, popped on some bad TV, and gave myself an hour. An hour would still give myself two hours of sleeeeepy time after I went back to bed. It would be cool. That wasn’t too mean. Right? Except it took me a while before I fell back asleep and then when my alarm finally went off, I cried a little bit. And by “a little bit”, I mean that I thought about chucking my alarm across the room and calling in sick…

But I didn’t do that. I shut off the alarm clock, dragged myself through the motions of getting dressed, and then decided (the one morning I feel like breakfast) to forego it because I had time for either a nap or McDonald’s. The nap won.

I wish I could go ahead and skip coffee for another nap. That would be just what I needed. Just the ticket to get my spring break back on track. Because adulting for spring break? not how I think it’s supposed to be done.

Five for Friday.

March 10, 2017

I can get through this day. I can. And you can, too. C’mon, one foot in front of the other. And one bullet point in front of the other, too. C’mon, Katie…

1 The tree in my front yard is beginning to bud. Just teeny, tiny little green buds right now, so small you can only see them if you unfocus your eyes. But the buds are coming, and then there will be leaves. And even though I know allergies will kick it up a notch at Casa de Katie, it still fills me with hope and happy every time I see my tree come to life once again.

2 My mom’s birthday was this week, and I got to talk to her a little bit after the girls took turns. It wasn’t for very long because she was tired, and I could only make out a few words, but my mom rallied at the end long enough to yell at me to make everyone call more often. I sighed (to myself) and promised I would, but really I was thinking that my mom was going to garble the story with my aunts and you just know I was going to get yelled at for not calling my mom on her birthday.

3 I stopped at my favorite local Lebanese place for take-out last night. Um…again. The girls and I stopped on Wednesday, too. Yes, that’s two dinners in a row <insert Count von Count cackling muppetly over some thunder>. I walked in the door and stopped short when I saw it was the same waitress as the night before, but that’s okay because she did the same thing, too. We averted our eyes. She didn’t say anything about me being in two nights in a row for the same exact meal, and I didn’t mention that she was wearing the same clothes as the day before. Win-win!

4 I’m trying on a different outfit today, one that requires skinny jeans, Barbie sandals, a blousy shirt, and a fancypants spring-weight scarf. The scarf is killing me. I feel like I’m choking! I have to remind myself not to disassemble the scarf (who knows how twisted on it is at this point) and tear it from the outfit; that it’s the one piece tying everything else together. This is why we can’t have nice things. Friday is for comfort dressing. Not fancy dressing.

5 Here’s hoping I can bust through a few books from my backlist this weekend. I’m feeling like shaking off the cobwebs and curling up with allllll the books. Maybe I’ll treat myself to a coffee or four from my local bookstore and curl up on a chair there. It’s a good way to try the books on for size (and read an expensive hardcover or two).

There we go! Not a very glamorous list, but it got me through. It’s been that kind of week. The only excitement was when my brother turned the corner last night to find the house surrounded by fire trucks and ambulances. My mom fell – not seriously, she’s okay. They just needed help getting her up and my dad is nearly as bad off as my mom. I told my brother to tease my mom that there are easier ways to get our attention during the first day of free agency. And so she whacked him, which was my whole point. Heh.

Hope your weekends are the same: full of jusssst enough content that you keep from pulling crazy stunts to get attention. (But if you have a really good diversion tactic planned, let me know!)

Five for Friday.

March 3, 2017

Of course today would be Friday, the easiest day to blog, when I actually feel like myself and want to blog about something. Okay, let’s go with it and hopefully this Can-Do Katie is still here on Monday. (Or, you know, I write a coupla drafts in a few minutes…)

So what do we have shakin’ today? A few things! (Five, in fact, Sarcastic Katie would like you to know.) Ahem.

1. Poor pitiful penguin (that would be Gracie) is home with the stomach bug. It hit her like a truck last night – fine one minute at choir rehearsal, then halfway home she slumped against the door. I thought maybe she was tired from a long day, long week, but she said she didn’t feel good. She helped me move the trash bins back behind the house and then bolted for the bathroom, and that was pretty much the last time I saw her all night. She was still pukey this morning, and I’ve told her I trust her judgement when it comes to school or no school, so my penguin is home, making out with the toilet from the looks of things. [Side note: bet she doesn’t argue with me about cleaning the bathroom next time. Hmph.]

2. Before Gracie got all pukey, she was quite adorable. Yesterday she had a full-scale choir rehearsal for their competition that’s coming up. It’s like nerd Olympics, but for middle school choirs. They’re judged on a song they’ve rehearsed, a song they’re given, and a short bit of sight reading. And it’s all done full tilt – which is why Gracie needed black flats and why she was so adorable making all the arrangements like a little grown-up. First she arranged it so that she and a few friends were walking the two blocks to the high school (it really isn’t far and is a good [though busy] neighborhood, so as long as there’s a herd of them, I don’t mind a middle-of-the-day romp – they have to grow up some time), and then one of her bestie’s mom was going to drive them all (because she did mind about them walking alone), and so all I had to do was pick Gracie up at 6p because her dad was busy. She did that all on her own, made sure she had the shoes, and made sure she brought the shoes to school early enough so her choir teacher could hem her formal black choir smock dress.

3. The dress! It was the dress that killed me, because Gracie hated it. As all choir members do, I believe. I told her how Kim and her choir friends (the Altos, natch) from college had dubbed the dresses the Black Frocks of Doom. Even Pukey Gracie collapsed in appreciative giggles at that. I offered to help her take off the BFOD because it still had pins in it (I had offered to help hem all the dresses when Gracie told me on Tuesday that her choir teacher was doing them all; because hemming sucks, I have a sewing machine, I know what I’m doing, and did I mention I know how much hemming sucks?), but Gracie said her teacher was tape-hemming. So I was a little surprised to see the dress was still pinned, but meh. Whatever. Gracie didn’t want my help anyway – the BFOD was off before I finished offering even. And when I asked her why she did it so fast and casually when there were pins in it!!!, she looked at me like I was nuts. She looked down at it and so I did too and then I noticed the pins were SAFETY PINS. Safety pins!!! What the man! Mum never used safety pins! We got straight pins and you learned pretty dang fast to stand still when Mum was pulling the dress over your head because pins hurt. Safety pins. Pfft. Those kids don’t even know.

4. So with Gracie running between the bathroom and sleep, glorious sleep!, in her bed, I was experiencing some major role reversal at my house last night. Usually Bee is in bed way early, gripping her emergency bucket (Bee’s migraines make her pukey), and Gracie is in the living room, chatting with me and playing Rummy 5000 (we have a constant tally going) while we watch TV and talk about our day. Last night, Bee was my companion, as she sat on the lounge chair, playing a game on her computer, while I ate a late dinner. We were chatting and watching TV and having a good time while she did whatever she was doing with her game, when suddenly I heard: “Sugarfingers!!” I about died laughing. It’s the cutest like fake bad word and Imma steal it.

5. It’s cold! [Here is where my sisters in Connecticut where it’s negative degrees reach through the screen and murder me.] I mean, not freezing, because 39°, but my point is that it was cold enough for me to wear my scarf! I’ve worn it a time or two, but this has been a pretty mild winter, so even though February is usually when we get our ice storms, I haven’t had a chance. This morning? Totally needed it. I thought about changing my shirt so I would match, but I decided I still wanted my orange stripes because they made me happy. And so matchy-people can bite me – it makes me happy, damnit. And it’s gonna be 70° later, so the scarf is temporary anyway.

scarf2

 

I hope you all get to do something today that makes YOU happy!

Monday morning hit hard.

February 13, 2017

Whewww, what a morning Casa de Katie experienced! I am thankful that all the childrens are dropped off and I am where I need to be for awhile.

Firstly, I slept last night. After getting maybe two hours of sleep each of the previous two nights, I slept hard. Like, so hard that when my alarm went off, I was still walking into things, trying to get everything done. It was like I was underwater. So that was fun.

I also had set my alarm 20 minutes earlier so I could straighten my (very short) hair that I chopped off. And I mean, chopped. I get 2-3 inches by straightening it, so that’s what I’m going to do. It’s like an adjustment period to the length.

So because I was up early, I walked out to the security alarm, shut it off, let the dog out, got the dog’s breakfast and basically just started the morning at Casa de Katie. I always check the cracks under the girls’ doors to make sure they’re up. Usually they’re both out on the couch by the time I walk out there, but this morning there was only Bee’s light on under her door, and Gracie’s was dark. I thought about waking her up, just to be safe, but she never forgets her alarm, and I had set mine much earlier than usual. Probably her alarm just usually wasn’t going off yet.

You know where this is going.

I got ready and walked out into the kitchen and living room at my usual time. There’s Bee on the couch, playing Minecraft. But no Gracie.

I walked to her room. Darkness in the crack under the door. Ominous confirmation. I fling open the door (sorry, Gracie) and if I can describe my tone, it was gently frantic. “Gracie!! It’s 6:30!!” Really it was 6:24, and yes, those 6 minutes are important. It was a half-hour later than she usually gets up. She didn’t have tennis, so her carpool from her dad’s house was a little later. We had some wiggle room. But I didn’t want to be late either. I urged her to get ready as fast as she could, and hoo boy was she flying around.

Of course, Fenway chose this morning to be one of the mornings she refused to go outside. Thankfully, she happily pranced out the door when Bee put on her shoes and went with her. I hate reinforcing that trick, but I really couldn’t deal with it this morning.

I put some cereal in a baggie for Gracie to wear in the car. She came flying out of her room, hair brushed and all dressed…in shorts and a tshirt. (She did have a sweatshirt that she threw on the couch to bring with her.) I reminded her again that it was supposed to be a lot colder today. High of 54°, not the 80s we had all weekend. She said she had pants on the chair and she would change at her dad’s house. But we’ve been having an issue with all their clothes ending up at their dad’s house and having nothing at ours. (Stepmom just sent back an entire canvas bag filled with Bee’s clothes after she went through her laundry and dresser, bless her heart!) So I made Gracie change right then. No shorts necessary. Especially since her cough is getting less asthma-y and more head-cold-y. (Poor pitiful penguin.) She grumbled and I swear to god actually stomped her foot, but she changed.

Gracie came flying back into the kitchen, four minutes before we were supposed to leave, and started making her lunch. “Shoes first,” I told her. She takes forever with her shoes in the morning. “But I can put them on in the car!” Nope. She was mad, but she can buy lunch at school; she just prefers to take one. Shoes were on in record time, and lunch was assembled. I nixed some of her snacks because three cake-type snack? Nope. I might need to supervise a little better because the rule has always been two healthy snacks and one “good” one. They used to be good about it, but…

And so it came to be that we actually left the house on time. Gracie had her arms crossed in the car, but assured me she wasn’t mad at me, she was mad at her alarm for not going off. She even checked it. I suggested setting her phone for 5 minutes after her alarm tomorrow, just to be sure the alarm clock wasn’t malfunctioning. I mean, it is just a cheapo $5 clock from a box store. It might be the clock’s fault.

But really, I think it’s Monday’s fault. Monday morning – eesh!  Here’s hoping for a better day for all of us. I’m choosing happy. Please comply, Universe.

Three years.

January 19, 2017

I saw a dad on the side of a the road, blinkers on, helping his kid change a tire on their own car. I couldn’t help it; I started crying out of the blue. If that wasn’t the signiest sign.

Then I started laughing, like I was nuts – crying one minute, laughing the next – because I wasn’t sure that a bigger sign wouldn’t have been the dad standing there, patiently explaining what the kid needed to do next to change their own dang tire.

In either case: you are missed.

Teenagerhood is coming. It is coming.

January 18, 2017

<….sound of goblin drums…>

<Oooh, wait…maybe of Twister violins….>

Because it’s already here!

Yes, go ahead and ask me how my day was yesterday. Oh, I’m so glad you asked! My ex-husband called last night. On the home phone, no less. We never use the home phone any more. The only peeps who use that are my parents and telemarketers, neither of whom usually call that late. (It wasn’t that late, maybe 8ish?) I don’t know what made me look at the home phone, because I never do that any more either. But I did. And it was my Ex. So I answered.

Gracie was insisting she had to bring her lunch to school the next day (today). Did I know anything about that? Uh, no. But yesterday was her first day back to school since the weekend. So maybe something popped up? Oh, but she was refusing to tell him why.

Oh, yes – you read that right. Refusing to tell him why. REFUSING.

You can see why steam was pouring out of my ears.

Anger wasn’t even my first response though. I was so happy my Ex had called! I love this whole Pull Together, Win Together thing. It bodes well for the next few years. You know, the Tough Teenagery Years that were suddenly dumped right in our laps.

After I cheered a little in my head, I moved right on to confusion. Because Gracie hasn’t once ever pulled anything like that. She’s a goody two-shoes. She might whine when she’s in A Mood. And yeah, there was the whole “lying about texting her friends” thing. But one bump in all the tween years we’ve braved so far? Not bad. So what was with the sudden obstinence? And how the heck were we going to deal with it?!

I told my Ex that I would call her (he was out with Bee), and see if she would talk to me, and get back to him. So I called Gracie-girl, who sounded as confused at a late-night call (I never call either – we’re a texting family) as I was. I explained what was going on, using my best concerned voice, and she still sounded confused. And maybe a little whiny. She had told Dad, she said. She hadn’t refused, she said. She told him she wanted to take her lunch to school, just because. Not that she needed to take it.

I don’t know what happened. I don’t know if she just kept saying she needed stuff from the store to take for her lunch, and when pressed for a reason she said just because, and the manner in which it was delivered came across as less than straight. Or if her version of what happened was completely different from what actually happened. I have no idea. And that’s between my Ex and Gracie.

However: I explained to Gracie that she can’t ever not answer, if that’s what happened. I patiently explained to her that her dad must have been so worried and concerned if he called me. She seemed to understand. I told her that if it’s a want, not a need (language we use frequently at home), that she can’t expect her dad to drop everything to go to the store if he doesn’t want to. That it’s selfish to even get whiny about it. She could negotiate it, ask nicely, trade chores, whatever, but it’s not something he has to do. And that she probably owed him an apology when he got home. That they needed to talk it out.

I called my Ex back and told him what I had found out. He said he would talk to that Gracie-girl of ours.

And I spent much of the night texting my bestie whose (amazing) daughter is a senior in high school. They have had a very similar relationship as Gracie and I. I knew she would have ninja mom answers for my new teenagery kiddo issues. She not only had all the answers I needed, but she immediately asked the obvious question that I had completely overlooked: was Gracie feeling left out, or was she being teased for buying her lunch? Which, dude, would explain so many things. Kathy gave me the best advice, talked me off the ledge (with a later assist from my sister Rhi), and made sure I was able to sleep instead of mulling over the problem all night long. AND Kathy did it all in the late hours of Eastern Standard Time, and I know she’s not a night-time person. Because I needed my friend. And my sister finished up our talk with the magic good-night tradition – a magical incantation she would say to everyone every night before bed when she was a teeny tiny toddler. Those magic words actually were just what I needed to hear before bed, and I didn’t even know until I heard them. My village is awesome, you guys!

So, I guess Gracie and I will be having a conversation tonight. I don’t care if she takes her lunch every day or some days or whatever – as long as I’m not making it! All that matters to me is that she eats, and not just junk food. If she’s being teased for buying her lunch because she’s the only one, then she can take it. That’s never been an issue. I just want her to be honest with us. And for sure she needs to answer when we ask questions. Or some poor pitiful penguin with be without a phone for a certain length of time. Not answering is a no-go.

The teenagery years. I thought I had more time. But at least I know I’ll have a lot of help as I muck my way through them!

Heartbreak, one more time.

November 29, 2016

When I was in seventh grade, I lived exactly one mile away from the junior high school I attended. Several of my friends I grew up with lived off of the same major road, about a mile further down, and because we all lived too close to the school for busing, but because the road was considered too busy and too dangerous to walk, the school district decided to issue us city bus passes. Every morning without fail, my mom  would stop what she was doing at 6:45 a.m. and walk with me down the block to the city bus stop where three other kids (who attended the vocational high school) waited. She’d chat with me, see me on the bus, and then walk back home and get the other kids ready for school. It didn’t occur to me to mind that my mom still walked me to the bus stop. At least not until my friends (who got on the bus before me) asked me why. I saw my mom as company. They saw her as an embarrassment.

That Christmas, when break was over and school was about the begin, I asked my mom if I could walk myself to the bus stop. She almost didn’t falter as she said it was okay with her. She hid the mountain of hurt and sent me out. I was ready; why shouldn’t she be?

My mom is a bigger person than I am, and a much better mom.

Last night, Bee asked if she could take her lunch to school the next day. Fine; that was okay with me. She would just need to make her sandwich, and gather some snacks. Gracie quickly asked if that meant she could, too, and I agreed. So as Bee pulled out her brown paper bag, I pulled out a Sharpie, to keep the girls from mixing up their lunches.

But what I heard was, “Mooooommmm! Nooooo!” from Bee-girl.

See, when she used to take her lunch every day, I would draw cartoons on her bag. She used to love it. That and the sweet note I’d write on her napkin. Now, however, I was apparently a great, big embarrassment to her. And rather than accept it with any sort of graciousness, I let all of my sadness show on my face and simply wrote her name. Hey, at least I choked back the tears.

Bee told me, fine I could draw on her bag – after her sister whispered that she should just let me do it. But I told Bee that I knew she was only agreeing because Gracie had told her to. Yes, it lacked all of my mom’s tact and diplomacy. I wasn’t letting my kid grow-up when she was ready. But you know what? I’ve been through a lot this week and I was just. wiped. out.

Tomorrow maybe my heart will more healed and I will be more ready to face more people who need me less. Today I needed those I love to need me back.

I am imperfect. And, boy, don’t I know it.

Remembering I was thankful.

November 28, 2016

I’m back! I was gone for what seems like ages, and I have so much to tell you about!

  • Jeff left. Yes, it is a huge change in my life and I’m trying to find the right words to tell you what happened while still being respectful, and also still being cognizant of the fact that the story is still unfolding. For now, let me say that our relationship became extremely unhealthy, very quickly. We decided he would move out at the end of the year, except he decided to leave suddenly on Tuesday night, just before Thanksgiving. It’s been a long, crazy, weird week for me.
  • We had Thanksgiving! And hoo-boy was our day one for the ages. In fact, I think I only survived because I narrated the chapter of my memoir (as it will undoubtedly go down) in one of my best friend’s voice, and kept imagining myself as Anne Shirley. Because it was mouse-in-the-pudding, sold-the-wrong-jersey-cow kind of day. After successfully making four pies, fudge, and buying half the groceria on Wednesday, I started Thursday by opening the fridge door and the lemon pie fell out onto the floor.

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  • So I re-baked the pie. It was the one both girls had asked for, and Gracie’s favorite food of all time. Re-baking was my only option, and it justified always over-buying and having extras. Extra filling and extra ingredients for making pie crust. (Because homemade. Every time.) So that happened, and I pulled it off, and then I put the turkey in the oven. Gracie and I were getting out Christmas decorations and then we heard the explosion. Yes: explosion. It actually happened as we were talking to my family back home, and “I have to go, Mom says the kitchen is on fire,” isn’t exactly a good way to finish a phone call. Someone who was trying to make a pot of tea turned on the wrong burner, and the pumpkin pie that was resting on the stove in a glass dish exploded. All over the kitchen. I ran in just in time to see the pie on fire. And the other pie catch. So I put out the fire(s) by carrying everything out to the middle of the patio (the door is right next to the stove and a huge slab of concrete seemed my safest option). There was glass all. over. my kitchen. The other pies were ruined because: covered in glass shards. So Gracie and I picked up the glass, vacuumed and swiffered twice, and still found glass. My feet are so embedded, I sparkle like a vampire. My hands were shredded. But! I re-baked the pies for a second time.
  • We hung out all week, put up the tree, my partner-in-crime came over every single day. Oh! We made ornaments! I’ll have to post about those. That was a good day.
  • The girls were AMAZING. Bee dragged her mattress into Gracie’s room (after asking if it was okay), and basically camped out in there all week. They have never, ever done that. I don’t know what made them like each other all of a sudden, but I’m liking it! Okay, okay, it might have something to do with the fact that they discovered that they could Minecraft in the same game. There were whole chunks of days when I didn’t hear anything from them. It was creepy.
  • Then there were other chunks of time when all the girls did was hang out with me, like miniature grown-ups, and converse and crack jokes and help around the house or watch TV with me. It was great! Gracie has discovered The Office (which, yes, maybe she’s a bit young for, but whatevs. I know she’s fine.) and we had a blast watching episode after episode. We watched Christmas movies as we decorated the living room, and we laughed until our cheeks and sides hurt and so many stupid things. Talk about thankful.
  • Oh! And we decided on a theme for our Christmas pictures – Be Who You Are! It happened because I am half gung-ho for everything in a screw-you, mid-break-up kind of way, and half ugh-I-don’t-wanna-put-any-effort-into-anything. So I thought about going fancy, like we usually do. And I thought about doing just flannels and jeans. Gracie would never take off her flannel if I allowed it. So that would work. And it’s a pretty flannel – mostly white with blue. I asked Bee, but she wasn’t having that idea. She would wear fancy dress all the time if I allowed that. And she found her favorite fancy dress while we were out and demanded I buy it (which I did, just in cases. And because it was crazy cheap.). And then I was inspired. Bee’s dress is the same deep blue that runs through Gracie’s flannel. So I bought a similar one from the wall of flannels at the red big box store. And came up with this:

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  • And that was pretty much my week and now I’ll have nothing to talk about this week. Heh. But that’s okay because I will be so tired from the single parenting and returning to work and school after a week of frivolity and staying up til midnight and 2 a.m. will leave me no desire to do anything other than hold my head up. Which, frankly, is what I might need to be focusing on.
  • So, yes, I am thankful. Thankful for my girls, who surprised me in so many delightful ways this week. For my best friend, who made sure I was in one piece, and kept me busy, and also hydrated. And for myself, because I did a damn good job, considering. Oh, and also because I asked for help when I needed it. Good job, me.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope that whatever happened for you, this past week, that your head is held high today.