April 4, 2013

Just the facts.

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:02 am by openendedcomment

What do Henry XIII, Jerry Falwell, and the Nazis have in common?  Well, I think I’ll just let the facts speak for themselves.

1533

Criminalizing sodomy began with a proclamation from King Henry VIII. At the time, sodomy was defined as any non-procreative sexual activity.

Really?  King Henry VIII?  The greatest womanizer of all monarchs, a man who clearly had lots and lots of non-procreative activities, a man who actually changed an entire religion and murdered hundreds (thousands?) in order to be able to marry his mistress, a man who killed off wives who didn’t give him sons…this is the morality police who started all of this legal BS?  OK…

1871

Germany criminalized homosexuality with Paragraph 175 of the Reich Criminal Code. In 1929 a committee in the Reichstag had voted to repeal Paragraph 175, but the Nazi rise to power prevented any action from being taken and the law would remain on the books until 1968 in East Germany and 1969 in West Germany.

Wow…we’re taking legal advice and moral direction from the 1920s and 1930s Germans.  Brilliant.

1945

Allied troops liberating inmates of Nazi concentration camps do not release those imprisoned for homosexuality. Instead, they are forced to serve out the full term of their sentences under Paragraph 175 of the Germany legal code criminalizing homosexuality.

For shame.  That’s right all you “sanctity of marriage” peeps, you side with…wait for it…NAZI’S! 

1961

According to the Vatican, anyone who is “affected by the perverse inclination” towards homosexuality is not eligible to take religious vows or be ordained within the Roman Catholic Church.

Well, here’s the problem: Lots of Priests are gay.  Lots.  Some of the great ones are gay; one in particular that kind of saved my life when I was only 22.  Further, many preaching against same-sex marriage are also preaching against the Pope and Catholic Church.  So, which side are you on, kids?

June 12, 1967

Decided: Loving v. Virginia A Virginia law against interracial marriages was struck down, with the Supreme Court declaring that marriage is a “fundamental civil right” and that decisions in this arena are not those with which the State can interfere unless they have good cause.

This didn’t decide it?  Sure looks like it did…

1972

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in the Netherlands rules that lesbians and gays could serve as pastors, becoming the first European Christian denomination to do so. Many other protestant churches would issue similar rulings in the following decades.

The European Evangelicals are starting to come around….

1973

The American Psychiatric Association votes 13-0 to remove homosexuality from its DSM-II (the official list of psychiatric disorders). The APA also passed a resolution urging an end to all private and public discrimination against gays. Conservatives would accuse the APA of giving in to “political correctness” for this decision, arguing that homosexuality should continue to be treated as a disorder.

….or maybe they realized that the weight of empirical data was overwhelming and they were idiots for having this in the books. Just sayin’…kind of like they also removed Learning Disabilities and Downs Syndrome as a “psychiatric disorder” a few decades before.

July 4, 1983

Rev. Jerry Falwell described AIDS as a “gay plague” and decries homosexuality as immoral and against God’s law.

There’s a guy you want to agree with.  Jerry Falwell, a segregationist who spoke out against Dr. King, supported the apartheid in South Africa (he actually sent money to help them during the sanctions against apartheid) and blamed 9/11 on “feminists”…yup, he sure knows what he’s talking about.  HenryXIII, Nazi’s and Falwell…good company!

June 30, 1986 

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 in the case of Bowers v. Hardwick that homosexual activity between consenting adults in the privacy of the home was not protected by the Constitution.

Epic Fail

1996

DOMA signed into law.

Again, for shame.

2000

The Netherlands legalizes same-sex marriage

April 19, 2000

Vermont approves same-sex unions, thus entitling gay couples to rights and benefits normally available to married couples.

Better

August 01, 2001

Angelika and Gudrun Pannier become Germany’s first gay couple to legally wed in a civil marriage ceremony.

So, Germany figured this out before us.  Not cool, Americans, not cool.

2003

A letter published by the Vatican’s Congregation for Worship asserts: “The ordination to the priesthood of homosexual men, or men with homosexual tendencies, is absolutely inadvisable and imprudent, and from a pastoral point of view, very risky”

But keeping child molesters in the church is OK…as long as they make confession and repent.  This wasn’t really addressed until 2010.  Way to prioritize.

2003

Belgium legalizes same-sex marriage

2003

U.S. Supreme Court rules it is unconstitutional to criminalize sodomy.

Baby Steps…
November 18, 2003

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-3 that government attorneys “failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason” to deny gay and lesbian couples the right to marry. The court gave the Massachusetts Legislature six months to rewrite the state’s marriage laws in order to fix this. This ruling was hailed by many liberals but denounced by conservatives, especially religious conservatives, who began to work for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution defining marriage as being between “one man and one woman.”

Many of whom are now changing their view and publicly supporting full and equal rights regardless of sexual orientation. 

February 04, 2004

The Massachusetts high court stated that only full, equal marriage rights for gay couples, not civil unions, would be constitutional. “The history of our nation has demonstrated that separate is seldom, if ever, equal,” an advisory opinion from the four justices who ruled in favor of gay marriage stated. A bill creating only civil unions, not full marriage rights, would be “unconstitutional, inferior, and discriminatory status for same-sex couples.”

It’s about damn time…and 8 more states fell in line.

2005

Spain, an over-whelming Catholic nation, legalizes same-sex marriage.

July 20th, 2005

Canada legalizes same-sex marriage

2006

South Africa legalizes same-sex marriage

Really, America?  We’re behind South Africa on human rights?

2009

Norway and Sweden legalize same-sex marriage

2010

Portugal and Iceland and Argentina, another very split Catholic and Evangelical nation, legalize same-sex marriage

Wow.  We’re also behind Argentina on this…wake up, America!

2012

Denmark legalizes same-sex marriage

February 12, 2013

France legalizes same-sex marriage

February, 2013

Great Britain House of Commons legalizes same-sex marriage

2008-2013

President Clinton, who signed DOMA into law, speaks out against it and calls for its repeal.  For the first time, a sitting President states his support for same-sex marriage.  Several Republican Senators and Congress Members speak out against DOMA and state that they support marriage equality.  Iowa, Connecticut, Maine, New York, Maryland, New Hampshire, Vermont, Washington, the District of Columbia and three Native American Tribes legalize same-sex marriage.   California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, New Jersey and Wisconsin have created legal unions for same-sex couples.  In 2012 Minnesota voted against Constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Just as it did on the matters of women’s right and civil rights, the United States is moving to equality.

March, 2013

DOMA and Proposition 8 are argued before the Supreme Court of the United States.

Stay tuned…

February 11, 2013

Married: With Children.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , , at 12:31 pm by openendedcomment

In the past several months (years) I (like every other married person) have had countless conversations about what it takes to make a marriage work.  There are a million books on the subject and each proclaims to have the special sauce/secret recipe/ultimate rules for making it successful.  But they can’t, right?  No one book or one Doctor or one Marriage Counsellor could possibly know what it takes to make a relationship that is unique in every situation apply to all situations.  What about blended families?  What about young couples without children?  What about mature marriages after divorce or death of a spouse?  How could one set of rules possibly fit for such diverse situations?

They can’t.  They never will.

My family is a blended one with three exes and four children, three of whom we have full custody of, one who we share with his dad.  We’ve been married for eight years and have been together for ten.  We’ve been through three custody battles, job loss, family loss, new homes, new careers, a special needs child and are in the teen years with two.  In reflecting on how-the-hell-we’re-still-together I’ve compiled this list. Our rules, our secret sauce.  Use at will.

1.)  Go to bed angry.  I don’t care what the books say, sometimes it’s best to be angry and just sleep on it.  The biggest fights in my marriage have taken place late at  night because neither of us will back down. Chances are, when you wake up and aren’t so God-Awful-Tired things will look better.  If it’s a weekday you’ll have even more distance to calm down while you’re at work or doing dozens of other things.  By the time you see each other the next evening, you’ll either be over it or be too busy with life to really find it important.  If it’s a major deal, send an email and let the other person think about the issue and respond without the heat of in-your-face emotion. But…and this is important…do not sleep apart because you are mad.  Sleeping apart is saying that you’re done sharing that martial bed space with your spouse and that is not OK.  Get in bed, turn your back if you must, shut the fuck up and go to sleep.

2.) On that: It’s OK to talk it out electronically.  If you have children in the house, it’s actually better.  They don’t need to see/hear you arguing with each other.

3.) And on that note: Don’t worry if your children do witness the occasional argument.  It is fine for them to know that adults who love each other don’t always have to agree and that if a relationship is important, you work through the hard times by talking it out with (hopefully) some respect.  I think this is especially important for blended families as these children are already aware that marriages can end. But do try to limit the yelling and details when they’re in ear-shot.  It’s amazing what they hear and repeat…invariably at the most inappropriate times.  My youngest once detailed a disagreement over beard trimmings in a sink.  The way he explained it we (husband and I) both sounded bat-shit crazy, which we may be, but that’s not something the neighbors need to know.

4.) You’re going to fight about stupid things.  Really, really stupid things.  You’re going to do this because you live together and sometimes you’re going to want to hurt that person who makes you nuts and leaves socks in the living room and dishes in the sink but you won’t…you’ll just imagine it, and that, in my mind, is fine.

5.) Accept that your spouse isn’t going to parent the way you do (especially true in blended situations) and that as long as you know when to hold your ground and when to concede, that’s fine.  If the “other” parent is involved, you are not the parent.  You are an authority figure in your home, you do deserve respect, you do get to make rules and you do deserve to be heard.  But…and this is a tricky one…if the other parent is not involved or minimally involved, you are the parent and you need to accept it and behave like one.  If you can’t accept this or don’t want this, you have no business marrying someone with children.  Even if the “other” parent has custody now, that doesn’t mean they always will.  I’ve seen this countless times.  Bonus children are a wonderful blessing and a massive source of conflict.  The children may question your right to have a say in their lives and your spouse may over-ride you.  You’re going to be livid and you’re going to argue about it.  OK.  As long as you love those children and treat them as your own (both the good and the bad, i.e. praise, love, kindness, care along with discipline and consequences) you’re most likely going to be fine.  Insane, but fine.  Worried sick, but fine.  In other words, exactly like every other parent that’s ever existed.

6.) Siblings fight.  Parents who aren’t in blended families worry about this.  Parents with blended families obsess.  It’s perfectly normal.  They aren’t always going to get along and as long as it doesn’t escalate into something dangerous or destructive, calm down.  My sister once broke my brother’s leg and then, jealous over the attention he had in his cast, she bit his good foot.  And they love each other.  They really, really love each other.  These things happen…find me a set of siblings who never fought as children and I’ll find you a purple unicorn with glitter hair.

7.) Don’t let your children’s fights become your fights.  If your children are arguing with each other, it’s natural to want to get involved and end it.  To a degree this is fine.  But only to a degree.  When you and your spouse are pitted against each other by your children and find yourselves saying things like “But, he pulled her hair!” and “She started it!”…you need to knock it off.  Part of how children learn to handle conflict as adults is to handle it in childhood.  Let them.  Save your sanity and wash your hands of it.  Unless it’s dangerous/destructive…then see #5 and be a parent.

8.) Teenagers suck.  Teenagers will fray your nerves to the point you want to flip out on the nearest individual. Unfortunately, this is usually your spouse.  Vent, but don’t yell and please remember that being teens means they’re leaving soon and despite your current feeling, you will miss them.  Terribly.  I haven’t yet experienced this but I’m told it’s true.

9.) If you don’t have sex at least twice a week/four times a month/whatever the book says, it doesn’t mean your marriage is failing.  It means that you’re normal, you’re tired and sometimes, you haven’t even had time to shower.  It happens.  As long as you touch each other, kiss and are available physically and emotionally, all will be well.  We once read a book that said we should be intimate at least four times a week for optimum satisfaction in our marriage.  We (I) panicked.  Four times a week?!?  I mean, maybe on vacation, but…were we failing?  Doomed? Now, my husband and I are both perfectly functional and attractive (to each other) people with normal sex drives.  But for a few months, things had stalled (see 1-8) and we were worried.  We were worried because our friends said they had sex all of the time and we knew we weren’t so naturally, we felt there was something wrong.  We followed the book’s lead and after three weeks we decided that a. we were fucking tired b. being “ready” as in shaving, lingerie, staying up until the kids were all asleep is way too hard to do that often and c. our friends were lying bastards.  We let it go and just pipe up if one or both feels like things are slipping.  Pressure gone, sex life better.  Point is: Relax.  Every couple has their own rhythm and own times when infants, jobs, teens, whatever makes intimacy a challenge.  It always sorts itself out.  If not, don’t worry, there are pills for that.

10.) Do new things.  Together.  Remember that you aren’t as old as life makes you feel and figure out how to try to enjoy life…not just each other, but life itself.  It’s worth it.

11.) Don’t share the bills.  Most couples I know who “share” or “split” bills argue about it.  We made a decision many years ago that one is charge of them, updates the other and both have equal say in how it is handled.  No “his” and “hers” accounts.  Separation leads to questions about “fairness” and that leads to resentment.  This is especially true when one spouse out-earns the other or is tasked with giving the other “spending money” this is not a parent/child relationship, you are partners and partners share the business.   Generally one is in charge of payables and both partners have equal access to the information and resources.   If you must have your “own” access to funds, do it with a credit card that is in your name only and pay the damn thing off regularly.

12. Set goals together, both financial and lifestyle. By doing this you’re working toward something as a team and being a team is what it’s all about.

13. You don’t have to share everything.  Really.  Maybe you’re the type of person who has to tell your spouse every single detail of your day, but we aren’t those people.  We’re happier with the highlights and when both parts of a couple are as busy we are, relaying the work day on a play-by-play level is not only boring, it eats up the “off” time…which makes no sense.  Most people work to live as opposed to live to work.  If you work to live and then spend all of that living time talking about working, what’s the point?

14. Cut out the assholes.  We all have them.  Friends and even neighbors or distant family members who bring drama to our lives.  If someone disparages your spouse to you or, worse still, is disrespectful or down-right mean to your spouse in their presence, you need to get rid of them.  By all means, try to have a conversation about the situation with the offender first, but if it doesn’t get better, cut them the fuck out.  Your marriage comes first.  Your spouse should never have to ask you to do this.  Be a grown up, recognize the situation and protect what is most important to you.  It may be hard, but it is the right thing to do.

15. Embrace the crazy.  There are things about your spouse that are utterly, totally, unquestionably strange.  Chances are that these are the very things that person you adore is most sensitive about.  Love them for it, not despite.  Do this and you are validating that you love that person because of everything they are, not even though.

16. Score cards are fine.  Everything you’ll ever read will tell you not to keep score.  I disagree.  Keeping score and fighting about it constantly;  not a good thing.  Being aware when you’re doing way more than your share and making your spouse aware is a way of communicating before you get to the point of seething resentment.  And that is a great thing.  You’re in this relationship, too, and you also have a right to be supported.  In our home, I’m the one who’s usually accused of “keeping score.”  I do the vast majority of housework, children running and almost all of the errands.  I tend to get pissy.  But, I also don’t want to let these things go to “his” list of responsibilities as I want it done my way.  Needless to say, this has been (by far) the hardest one for my husband and I.  We’re  getting better at it though (as in I’m trying not to be impossible and he’s trying to let me talk about without getting angry at the utter insanity of the situation)  and the more we talk about it, the less anger we feel.

17. Go away.  Get out of your surroundings, even if it’s just checking into a local hotel for the night.  Not everyone can afford (much less has access to the child care it takes) to go on a  two-week romantic vacation or to have “date night” weekly, again, as all the books say.  But, that said, almost everyone can manage a night or two away a couple of times a year.  Take what you can get.  Hole up in a room, order dinner and just be together.  It is worth every penny.  And don’t feel like you have to act like you’re on your honeymoon.  Do whatever you feel you need to do as a couple to rest and enjoy.  My husband once slept for twenty-two hours of a thirty-six hour get-away.  I ended up reading and enjoying a long soak in a  hot-tub alone.  We’d planned for dinner, dancing, hiking, swimming, golf…none of which happened unless you count ordering a pizza to the room as dinner, but the fourteen hours of “vacation time” we had together were far better for the twenty-two hours of sleep he enjoyed and the relaxation I found.  Whatever works.

18. Be adaptable.  Things are going to change, likely more than you (or I) can possibly fathom.  Be committed to changing with each other and refuse to be fixed in the person you married as your ideal as opposed to the person you’re going to be married to three, five, ten or even thirty years down the line.  Sounds simple, but failing to do this is the cause of most marriages ending.

19.  Failure is not an option.  It just isn’t.  If you refuse to allow your marriage to be something that could end, chances are it won’t.  My dearest friend, Glitter, doesn’t use the “D” word in her home.  She uses the F word and the S word…lots…but not the “D” word.  This is her rule, but I’ve stolen it and I’m pretty sure she won’t mind.  Think of it  like Voldemort.  If you don’t say it, it doesn’t happen.  Again, sounds simple, but it’s the little things that matter.

I suppose I should do a number 20 to round this out, but really, that’s about it.  That’s how we do it. We don’t over-think the details and try our best.  We do fight and we do occasionally feel the need to run screaming from each other.  But for the most part, we love and respect what and who we are as a family, a couple and people.  These are our rules.  I am sure there are tons of happy marriages who keep it together by doing the exact opposite of what I’ve written.  No relationship is identical to another and no set of standards works for all couples at all times.  As it should be.  And as the blog states in title, this too remains open-ended.  As our lives change so will our rules, we’ll adapt and learn and hopefully do so for many, many decades to come.

January 8, 2013

My own advice.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , , , at 12:23 pm by openendedcomment

Until I was thirty  I made resolutions…and each year I managed to break them, one by one.  At thirty-one I stopped and allowed myself to just accept the way life is/was and to not put such pressure on myself to change.  Through the past five years I’ve learned that while acceptance and peace are good things, so is the occasional kick in the ass and measure of accountability.  Sometimes, you, or in this case I, just need a Mom.  As my Mom has already raised me and as I don’t feel like fighting with her all over again (teen years were staggeringly bad) I’ve decided to treat myself the way I treat my children.  To expect from me what I expect from them.  If I were to look at myself as a Mother as opposed to…well…me…would I be proud? What would I tell myself to do?  What advice would I give?

1) Get healthy.  This encompasses many things.  Instead of stating I’m going to drop 20 pounds and work out five days a week while cutting all nicotine I’m wrapping it up into one…good health.  My goal is to be better to myself.  To care about what goes into my body and how it functions. 

2) Study and have my work reflect it.   If I am to take a really objective look at myself, I’m not doing as well as I ought to be and that needs to change.  I’m going to learn more about my industry and apply new ideas to my position and company this year.  It’s time to make 2013 a profitable one.

3) Do my chores.  This is pretty obvious..my house is sort of falling apart as I’ve become rather lazy.  I used to make sure dishes and laundry were done and that beds were made before I left for work, but in the past three or so months I’ve let it slip.  Time to get in gear.

4) Go to bed on time.  I need more sleep and there’s just no excuse for this.

5) Take my vitamins. 

6) Give it my all…in all things, even when it’s hard.

7) Don’t swear (I have the mouth of a sailor when angered/annoyed/etc…) 

8) Reward good behavior.  This goes to treating myself well, something I forget to do and something that may seem odd as a goal but one I think it’s time for.  My husband and I don’t even buy each other birthday or Christmas gifts.  We spoil our children, but never ourselves.  In truth, he’s better about this than I am.  If he really wants to go to a game, he goes.  If he decides he needs some new clothes, he buys them.  If he feels he needs a night out, he takes it.  I don’t…I always feel as though it is selfish of me and that is something I have to get over.  Maybe it’ll mean buying myself a new bag, even if my old one really could go another season…or getting a manicure more often…or nights out with friends, just because.  Whatever it is, I’m going to recognize that it’s OK for me to have things, too.

Last but not least…to work on what I started in 2012.  Forgiveness, peace and learning to let things and even on rare occasions, people…go.  To move toward a life filled with the people, values and experiences I choose as opposed to those I feel forced to deal with.  To me, to have that kind of life…that is the ultimate goal.

June 12, 2012

List and Pissed. AKA: Mom Guilt. AKA: Angry Wife Syndrome.

Posted in Parenthood tagged , , , , , at 10:41 pm by openendedcomment

I’m trying desperately hard to stay positive.  To stay the happy, calm and loving wife I want to be and strive to be and really do try to be each and every day because 1) I love my husband 2) I know that there are many, many people both married and single that would give up pretty much anything to be in the kind of  relationship that my husband and I share and 3) I don’t like myself very much when I’m bitter/angry/flat-out-pisssed.  But I am.  Pissed.  I’ve been trying to call him all day to no avail as I have a TON to do and just want to know when he’ll be home and if that time will work with everything I have to do (read: can I run errands alone or do I need to take all four with me and what time should I have dinner ready so that we are not eating in shifts.)

I am pissed and I’m tired and I’m guilty and I’m pretty close to panicked that I am not doing enough while at the same time wondering how on earth I can do any more than I’m already doing.  Likely didn’t help that I arrived home to a less than happy sitter as my children made her mental today.  Awesome.  Day two and she looks ready to bail. Not that I blame her.  They…the combination of them and Summer can be a bit daunting.

When I’m in this sort of situation in any other area of my life I make a list. I write down what is happening in black red and white in order to actually “look” at it as opposed to just “think” about it.  The looking allows me a different perspective and oddly enough, more often than not, provides me with the clarity I need to get my shit together and move forward.  This is why my offices (both at my actual office and my home office), though equipped with  perfectly functional computers, are also full of notepads.  I need to write it out.  By hand.

As it works in every other aspect of life I’m trying it with this one, too.  The issue to be resolved is the lack of shared responsibility for our home, children and lives.  Now, I know that only a few months ago I was writing about the sheer joy of my husband having a new career.  And there is still joy in that.  Really, there is.  I am thankful and happy and thankful that that he is happy.  BUT…the happiness is slowly but surely being replaced with some serious resentment.  You see, I work too.  I work and I still do almost everything around here…look, I’ll show you.  This is the list based on yesterday to help me “see” what is/is not reality.  Yes, it’s in red.  I’m at home and the children stole all of the working pens.  Note: buy pens.

                   

So…while yes, he wakes at dawn (he always has and does even on weekends)…he just…leaves.  I never really leave.  Ever.  I am taking calls and fielding texts and emails from my home while doing the same for clients in four time zones.  It’s a miracle I haven’t tried to ground the owner of an agency or advise a producer to just put an ice pack on it and I’ll be there soon.  And while this may seem petty to some; it actually does give me clarity.  A little anyway.  I forgot to add the dishes…twice (morning and evening) and the cat box and the errands I ran, not to mention the super-fun conversation with our insurance company regarding the calls to the Doctor(s) offices.  We both work hard…but I can’t help but feel as though I work a bit harder…like I do more than my fair share.  Or perhaps I’m being utterly delusional by thinking there is such a thing as a “fair” share in a marriage.  He does do most of the hockey running (I make the games, not the practices)…but then I do the vast majority of LaCrosse…are there any marriages or relationships in which one party doesn’t feel as though they do the lion’s share?  And, if I’m being honest, do I even want him to handle these things?  I mean, the dishes and laundry I’m fine with passing on but the calls and the organizing…as much as it bugs me…I don’t really want to let that go.

Which leads me to the question:  How do I do all of this and still feel as though I need to be doing more?  Today when I left my office I felt an overwhelming sense of guilt for leaving “early” (3PM) even though I did work as soon as I got home and will work still more tonight…I hate not being present. Then, when I got here…my youngest was sad that I had work to do and couldn’t hang out right at that moment (that always just kills me) and I saw that there was still more laundry…and dust…and the security company people called; my card expired and they need a call now…and it’s all on me.   I haven’t seen my friends in…well, let’s just say it is terrible; I blogged about it…so… April?  Not that I can’t, I just do not have the time.  At all.  I suppose when I really look at it; he doesn’t do more because I do it…and there’s no point in doing it twice.  Perhaps I just need to piece a few things off to him and see how it goes…or perhaps I just need a vacation.  Which we’re taking.  In three weeks…at a resort in a lovely townhouse that will need to be cleaned with beach towels that will need to be washed constantly and Wi-Fi so I can still work…ugh.  Scratch that vacation comment.  What I really need is a hard stop.  A power outage that lasts for at least 24-48 hours that prevents me from doing anything but just being still..present…quiet and really with these five people who do make me mental but also keep me whole.

C’mon Xcel…do what you do best…crash.  Mommy needs a break.

June 4, 2012

Fore Play.

Posted in Life Lessons tagged , , , , at 12:28 am by openendedcomment

I am typing this with a blistered left hand.  And I love it.

I am reminded with each little twinge of pain that I actually can and do still enjoy new experiences in life.  Like golfing with my husband, which I did for the first time today.  I’ve golfed before, just not with him.  I hadn’t swung a club in years and in the past I wasn’t much good and had no motivation to be good as I didn’t like my golf partner at the time.  Therefore I had no equipment.  Read: no glove.  Hence the hand. I had no equipment and my husband had no equipment because even though he enjoys the sport and has friends who enjoy the sport and would like to enjoy it with him…I haven’t exactly encouraged it.  At all.  Which is really too bad becasue he’s actually pretty good.  I’ve known this and I’ve heard this from buddies of his when they return from a best-ball or a corporate outing.  He is a hockey guy and he wields his driver like he’s taking a shot from the blue line in the Stanley Cup finals. Despite the knowing, I never appreciated it.  At all.

I had no valid reason.  I had several reasons/justifications/excuses that were utter crap and rooted in very old baggage that I had thought I’d left behind me.  I hadn’t.  I actually like the game.  I watch it, I know who the players are and I happily engage in conversation regarding it.  I appreciate people who play.  I remember having enjoyed it before.  A couple of months ago as my dear spouse was lamenting that he really, really needed clubs in order to continue joining his friends (apparently renting regularly is frowned upon) and bemoaning how awful it was that his had been ruined (long story; I didn’t do it) I actually started listening to him.  Now, we’ve had this talk before.  Rather, he’s complained and I’ve dismissed it as unnecessary and an expense not needed and how he didn’t have time for it anyway and, and and…always an and.  He, being a pretty great guy, understood that I was for whatever reason not down with him engaging in this particular activity.  He respected that and didn’t press the issue.  That’s actually pretty cool of him, and pretty crappy of me.  I listened, I got it, and I started thinking hard about how to correct it.  Yesterday, I stopped thinking and just did something instead.

I bought him clubs. Good ones. I brought him to a great course right down the street from us and made a tee time for this morning. I asked which friend he wanted to call.  He said me.  Did you catch that? He said me.

So today, in a highly unattractive outfit (I don’t didn’t golf and therefore don’t have much golf clothing to choose from) we arrived and rented a set of ladies clubs which were placed in the cart right by his lovely new Octanes and Burners.  The first hole didn’t go well.  At all.  I hadn’t even swung a club in literally years.  Looking back, the driving range may have been a wise move, but we were already out.  The gentleman at the first tee was kind and understanding and reassured me there were no other groups for another 30 minutes.  Thank God. I cringed and apologized profusely to my husband as I took swing after pitiful swing.  He just smiled and told me to relax.  He said he was just glad to be with me…sweet, but certainly not true.  What man wants to be out on a course being forced to watch such a thing? By the second hole, this great guy I married had gently and sweetly encouraged me to actually hit the ball with some force.  By the third with a touch of accuracy, this as he stood behind me and corrected my grip…if you’ve never had the man you love correct your stance and grip…well, you’re missing out.  Fifty Shades has nothing on a quiet and beautiful course with a husband dressed in an ice blue Nike golf shirt behind you, hands on your hips turning you while nuzzling your neck and whispering to you to grasp the..well..you get the drift.  By hole four I eagled.  We laughed, we joked, we flirted, we found the drink cart, we had an absolute blast.  And as we neared the end of our round, he asked me if I’d be willing to  go on couples night at some neighborhood courses.  Like as in a date.  He then smiled and blasted a ball 300 yards.  Swoon.

It was and as I type is our anniversary.  Today was not only fun, sexy and smart…it was enlightening.  I always say that there are a million reasons I love him…but today there are a million and one.  He reminded me that I can be fun.  That I can try new things.  He reminded me how much I love doing things with him and how great we are together away from the ever-present demands of children, careers and life.  He gave me something awesome on this seventh year of marriage…aside from his glove around the ninth hole…he took off that very last layer of hesitation that he would ever make me feel the way I had before…he never would.  He never will.  He encourages and he uplifts and I needed to see that again.  To be reminded of why we are who we are and do what we do.  Why even when he acts like a monumental ass…and anyone who is married has thought their spouse is a monumental ass at one time or another so don’t judge…I adore him.  Because the ass isn’t him…this guy, this great guy that asked me out today…the guy with the wicked swing and the shit-eating grin when I bend over to set my tee…this is the guy I married.  And that fun, happy, relaxed and determined chick on the course today who made out with her husband behind a tree?  She’s here to tell the angry, tired and occasionally even bitter woman who was forgetting herself under the weight of a mid-thirties life to get lost.  I’m back.  We’re back.  I love this.

FYI: I will be at the driving range.  Often.  Despite his sweetness, I’m competitive as Hell and I’ll never shoot that high again so help me God.

April 15, 2012

Nothing but a Stem.

Posted in Life Lessons, My Five tagged , , , , at 4:11 pm by openendedcomment

As we age, we learn.  This is not news.

As it was in school; some lessons are harder than others and some take longer to sink in.  The difference in the lessons of today is the inability to avoid them…back in high-school, when I didn’t want to attend a class (geometry) I would simply skip out, head to the library and read until the class had ended.  Yes, I was a nerd.  So what.  The point is that back then, I had the ability to avoid the unpleasant lessons life was attempting to force on me and opt for more enjoyable ways to spend my time. There were no real consequences aside from my lack of knowledge regarding obtuse/right angles…or whatever Mr. Swenson was trying to say.  I seriously have no clue.

These days, the lessons of life are harder to avoid.  To avoid is to incur real consequence.  That, combined with my older, wiser (I hope wiser) self that actually cares about doing the “right thing” makes it harder for me to avoid the unpleasantness of difficult moments.

I had one last night.

Glitter’s anniversary.  She was, as I had predicted, lovely and radiant with adoration of and from her husband.  Her mother was warm and funny.  Her Virgo sister teared up and still managed to look perfectly poised. Two more women I knew in childhood are expecting children of their own.  All was as I had thought it would be.  Well, almost.  I wished I could have stayed and celebrated with her longer, but to do so would be to allow my husband to be hurt further and though I love her dearly, I love him more.  That’s just the way it is and I hope she understood.

He was ambushed, or rather we were ambushed.  I could take it as I had many other friends there, him, not so much.  It was my group, not his.   For reasons unknown to me; a woman I used to know (yesterday’s Rockstar, today’s sad remains) found it necessary to be as hateful as a person can be.  I will not write what she said and I will not call her by name.  Suffice to say that the worst case scenario I could have come up with in my head regarding her possible behavior was vastly surpassed.  Stunning.  Her viciousness and lowliness was stunning.  I should be hurt…I should be sad.  But I’m not.  In order to feel those things I would have to care.  I thought I did, only yesterday I was certain I did.  It dawned on me…as I saw the anger and the pain in the eyes of the man I love caused by someone I had called friend…that woman no longer exists.  I cared about someone who had ceased to be…like holding onto a stem after all of the petals had dropped and still insisting on calling it a flower…it’s not a flower anymore…all of the good and beautiful parts that made it a flower have dropped away, one by one, leaving nothing but a barren stem, a sad reminder of what it once was.

For me, that was where the lesson lay, in the recognition that as we grow and as we change, not everyone changes for the better.  Some bloom and other wither and the wisdom lies in being able to see clearly enough to recognize the difference and have the strength of self-preservation to walk away from what used to be instead of trying to resurrect something that will never bloom again.

And that’s OK.  That is necessary.

I feel no need for vengeance; there is nothing to say.  There is no damage I could do that she has not done or is not in the process of doing to herself.

Is it sad? Sure it is.  But is it a tragedy? No.  The tragedy would be in convincing myself that a new bloom can come from an old stem and being disappointed when those petals never appear.  Life moves on.  Some people we move on with and others without and in the end, if we can look back and smile on what we had in the years before; regrets don’t factor in.

We’ve all had friends like that, the people who let us down time and time again.  For me, though the lesson was drilled into me repeatedly, it took seeing my husband attacked to finally get the damn point.  It’s time to let go of any hope of her ever being a good person.  Or healthy.   I don’t have to and nor should I put myself or those I love in the line of fire again.  She is now no more than someone who I used to know.

I still believe that some people and some friendships are worth fighting for…but now I also know that others, no matter the history, are not.  If she were to ever find herself at peace again and come around…maybe.  I’m not the type to close a door forever, but for now the handle is secure.

Oh, and if you’re wondering,  my husband and I had a great night after all.  We walked to a cute little place near the party.  We talked it out and ended up laughing and sharing more than we had in months.  We took other lessons from last night, too.  We made the best of it.  We are lucky people.  As some move out of our lives, others move further in.  Our friends that our children spent the evening with are a great example of that.  I know in them my trust is never misplaced.  My husband loves them.  As we fell asleep in each others arms he told me he was, despite it all, glad we had come.  This morning he told me he hopes that I feel for him what Glitter feels for her husband…and that he understands why she means so much to me.  I could not ask for more.

April 14, 2012

3521 Days…

Posted in Life Lessons, My Five, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , at 3:35 pm by openendedcomment

Ten years ago yesterday; Glitter got married.  Tonight is her anniversary party.  She has asked that those of us that were a part of her wedding wear our original dresses (if we have them and if we can still fit into them,)  Even though I regularly purge my closet, this is a dress I happen to still own…and, shockingly enough, still fit into.  Sort of.  Ihavn’t worn it in a decade and it still has the original cake stains inside of the bodice…memories of a bridesmaid and me having far too much fun supported by a liberal amount of wine.  Glitter claims to have pictures of this and has hinted at them being part of a slide-show.  Shit.  I mean, awesome.

For some reason, or rather for an obvious reason, I find myself nostalgic today.  And a bit stunned.  In the grand scheme of things, ten yeaars isn’t all that much time…yet I’m amazed at what has happened and how we’ve all changed this past decade.

I’m wearing the same dress; but I have a different date.  I had my youngest son 8 months and three weeks after that wedding.  I met my husband the following July.  We will have been married seven years this June.  One of the original bridesmaids (my ex-step-sister…long story) has gone AWOL and another that met her husband at the rehersal dinner is currently in divorce proceedings.

Rockstar (the cake fight counter-part), also an original bridesmaid, has since been married and had two children.  As has the maid of honor; the sister of the bride.  At her wedding my now-husband then-boyfriend was accosted by the mother-of-the-bride and told he had better put up or shut-up when it came to me and his intentions towards our future.  He proposed within the year.  Note to self: buy that woman a drink tonight.

My 25 year old self had a blast that night.  I loved these girls.  They were my family before I went and created one all on my own.

Looking back, I took it for granted.  I still love them, God knows I’m thankful for each of them,  but I’ve done a piss-poor job of showing it.

Glitter and I are good, though we’ve had our moments of not good.  Thankfully, all has been repaired and I can’t wait to see her and her wonderful husband re-commit to what they’ve built over the past decade.

Rockstar and I also had our moments.  We grew closer than ever through these last ten years and intermittently further apart.  Right now we are in the middle of an apart moment.

I’m not a fan.

Not a fan of what’s happened and even more so not a fan of where we are as friends.  Thing is…I don’t know how to repair this.  I don’t know the right or appropriate way to make that call or send that email.. Would it simply be ignored?  Would she snap back as opposed to ignoring resulting in things getting even worse?  Rockstar is not her real name (duh) but it’s a fitting one.  She is one of those women that when you look up the word “intense” in the dictionary…you expect to see her smiling face…either waving at you or flicking you off.  It depends on where you’re at.  It’s actually a positive trait.  That woman can have more fun in the most random of ways and make you have more fun than anyone else I know or have known.  She’s intensely loyal and intensely fun and intensely…intimidating.  At least to someone like me.  Now, I’m not a scared little mouse, far from, but I do admittedly suck at personal conflict. The closer I am to someone or the more that I care the harder it is for me to talk to them when there’s a problem. I know, I have it all bass-ackwards, but there it is.  The bad thing about this intensity of Rockstar’s is it makes reaching out kind of difficult. The good thing about Rockstar, actually the great thing about her (among many others) is that you always know where you stand.  There is no ambiguity.  I’m not standing in a great place.

I’ve been thinking about her and about our friendship a great deal as of late.  She’s been an important part of my life and of  the lives of my family.  She’s helped me thorugh serious problems (those occur more than anyone likes in the decade of 25-35) and she’s laughed me through some (I thought)  utterly unlaughable moments.  She is great like that.

I’ve spoken about my “five”…and she is one of them.  Even though we aren’t close at the moment, she’s one of those few people that know me…and I’m afraid that is exactly why we aren’t speaking.

We didn’t have a fight.  She saw me at my worst, one of the low points of that lost year from a few posts back, and after that, we just didn’t speak.  I didn’t call.  She didn’t call.  Neither of us wrote.  I was certain that after seeing me in that state she’d never want to speak to me again.  It appears I was right.

I played it off to the select few that knew we’d had a falling out as “we’ve just grown apart…I’m not at all mad, I hope all is well with her”…like it didn’t really bother me.  Total lie.

It bugs the shit out of me.

I miss her and I love her and I have no clue how to fix this.

In the initial few weeks I wanted to call…I even wrote about a dozen emails…but I didn’t send them.  I didn’t send them because she didn’t send them.  I was afraid of the rejection.  Now, I ask you, how pathetic is that?  Here I am, a 35 year old mother of four who is strong and independent and able to handle royally difficult relationships in business without batting an eye…but in my personal life…with someone I should feel comfortable saying anything to…I was unable to make a damn phone call?  The longer it had been the harder it became.

We’ll see each other tonight.  I’m both thrilled and petrified.  Rockstar, being Rockstar, will be working the room and having the time of her life.  I hope that somewhere in the middle of it, I can find some vodka courage and start with something simple…like “Hi”…when really, I’d love more than anything to warp back to 2002, hit the dance floor like a maniac, drink copious of wine, whip some cake her way and fall into a hug while laughing at each other the way only the dearest of friends can.

At any rate, and however this evening turns out, tonight isn’t about me.  I’m privileged and thrilled to know that despite the challenges of all our growing pains we are all going to be together.  Glitter will be gorgeous; madly in love.  Her sister will make sure everything is organized before hand and then cry, because that’s what Virgos do. Her Mother will make us all feel like we’re in high school again and my husband will dance exactly one dance.

It’s going to be lovely.  What better, after ten years of marriages, children, homes, divorce, funerals, careers found, lost and changed, than to remind ourselves that some things, the best things…like love…love between a husband and a wife and the love between girlfriends..that love like that, despite the challenges faced and storms weathered…is worth fighting for?

Thanks again, Glitter…for the umpteenth time since I’ve known you…you managed to point something out to me that I should have seen all along.  Some things matter, other things don’t.  Hold onto and celebrate the ones that do.

Happy Anniversary to one of my five.  Love.

April 3, 2012

100 Pounds.

Posted in Life Lessons, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:28 pm by openendedcomment

Yesterday morning, my husband woke up, got ready and left for work.

It was a defining moment.

Christmas Day, 2010, my husband was fired.  By his step-father.  For personal reasons.  Yes, this is a personal blog and yes, in order to tell this story I have to mention some personal things.  If you don’t want to know, don’t read it.  It’s that simple.  I’m not going to shy away from the truth and I’m also not going to delve into anything that doesn’t apply to this exact topic…that being a career, a marriage and the journey to finding yourself after devastating personal loss.  Now, with that out-of-the-way:  I think it’s fairly obvious that there was a great deal more to it than “just” losing his job.  He lost his family, too.  That is a shame and that is terrible.  That is also a story for another time…perhaps…it is still too raw.  His brothers, his Mother, some aunts and uncles…all lost and all at once.  You see, there are two parts to this story…the job loss and the family loss.

The job loss is this tale.

There were financial losses, too.  He was the main bread-winner in our home.  He had the benefits…our eldest has special needs…and $1500 in monthly medical expenses to go  along with those needs.  Unemployment didn’t even cover the COBRA…much less the deductible, which was large.  We didn’t qualify for MNCare or any other medical assistance program as I earned “too much” but I am a contract employee and have no benefits.  Self insuring was going to run, at a minimum, $900 a month…with a four thousand deductible.  Per person.  But there was no choice so pay we would.  On top of firing him and stripping their grandchildren of medical coverage; they also denied his unemployment.  Initially.  He won the appeals…they did this twice.   After a few months of zero income from his end while we were dealing with that; we figured other minor things, like mortgages and prescriptions, out.  I worked harder.  I budgeted like a champ and proceeded to work some more.  He did anything and everything possible to make things work while looking for a new position. We made it through.  And I digress.

This post is about the JOBNot the money and not the people who stripped it from him. The blessed, needed and long-awaited JOB.  Which, incidentally, if you’ve ever been without you know is not “just” a job. My husband, like many men and women, found and finds much more than an income in his career.  It is a part of a person’s identity. For my husband, It. Was. His. Identity.  Who he was.  What he stood for.  What he had built.  His source of pride and his place of belonging.  He helped to build the company…literally, he helped to design and then put the building up.  Brick by brick.  He designed the products.  He hired the staff.  He chose the equipment.  Cultivated the clients.  Knew every single detail of every single order, person, issue…you name it.  He had been there since he was fourteen.  He began under his grandfather.  Whom he adored.  Who was, after losing his Dad at a young age, the closest thing to a “real” Dad my husband had from age twelve on.  The JOB was not a job…it was his tie to the man he loved, admired and respected above all others.  Even after his passing several years ago.  Each day when my husband walked through those doors he saw his grandfather’s name on the building and it filled him with pride.

When he lost that, he lost almost everything.  He wasn’t himself.  He couldn’t breathe for the first few weeks…he didn’t eat for two…sleep came, finally, at week six.  I had to remind him to do simple things…he just wasn’t tracking.  He felt as though he had failed everyone and everything.  There were no words I could utter that would have changed it or that could help. Eventually, as with all things, with time, he got better.  By Spring of 2011 he was starting to find himself again…to learn for the first time who he was/is without that integral part of him.   Spring was difficult but far preferable to the Hell that was his Winter; Summer was better still. By Summer he was able to go on interviews with his head up. By Summer, I was pushing him.  I was, to be honest, nagging.  I was tired…stressed…carrying the weight of all of us on my shoulders and trying to find a way to get him to share the load.  He wasn’t ready.  He lost weight.  Alot of weight.  I backed off.   By Fall, he had identified what he could bring to the table and why a company would want him.  He was learning his worth.  He has so much.  By Winter he was frustrated but focused.  Positions in manufacturing in Minnesota are hard to come by these days.  Especially C-Level ones.  He lowered his sights…it was about more than a title or pride by that point…it was about survival.  Our survival.  Pushing resumed.  With force.  He had road-blocks and I was going to make damn sure he plowed right through them.  It was the only way.  No references?  Fine.  We’ll handle it. (Yes, a 25 year career with no references…difficult at best to explain away but equally impossible to give given the situation.)  We were getting him hired come Hell or high-water. I applied him to hundreds of positions.  I am not exaggerating.  Hundreds.  At first because he couldn’t bring himself to admit what had and was happening and later because we established a sort of routine.  Other families that have fought through job loss know what I’m talking about here.   He went on interview after interview.  I hated it for him…the look on his face when he got the rejection letter…the look when I tried to blow it off with “Honey, it’s OK…there are so many applicants these days.”…he knew the reasons just as I did.  We didn’t speak of them.  No references.  No history.  He kept going.  He kept going and I kept pushing.  Full steam ahead.

Perhaps in all of this there weren’t my best moments or my most perfect of all actions as a wife…but I was tired.  I needed help and I needed him. Fifteen months of me carrying it all.  Them all.  Fifteen months of budgeting and scrambling.  Fifteen months of reassuring him and supporting him through all of the hurt, the doubt and questions.  Fifteen months of keeping it from touching our children…or trying to.  Fifteen months of chin up in public…and private…acting like it was all OK…when it wasn’t.  Even.  Close. Fifteen months of trying to find a way to keep us moving forward without sacrificing the medical care, tutoring and sports for my children.  Fifteen months of saying to everyone that asked  “Oh, everything’s fine.”   “Yes, I’m sure you’re right.  Something will turn up.” Or, my favorite “Yes, I know.  Just like you, we will be so much better off because of this.” When really, all I could think of at those moments was how on earth I could ever articulate the immense pressure I was feeling…that no, we were NOT better off.  That no, it is and was not “the same thing”  that happened to you or to your brother-in-law.  That they had lost a JOB…my husband lost most of his life.  The people, the places, the who and the what of his very self…all of it…all gone and all with no warning and little reason.  That he wasn’t “just” looking for a JOB…that he had to come back to me.  To us. That for fifteen months all I had was the hope of him…the prayer that someday, somehow this would work out…that he would return…the him I love and missed desperately.  I lost friends during this…I’m not the type to speak about what is bothering me while it is bothering me…after is fine, but not during.  This made any real connection next to impossible.  I had and have regrets about that…but at the time it was all I could do to handle this issue…others had to be set aside.  Some I may never have a chance to repair.  Casualties of our lost year.   Never had I been so lonely with someone at my side.  My husband.  My children’s father.  My friend.  Not the man who brought home a check…I have and did do that myself.  (It is of course better to have us both working…but that wasn’t the point.)  The point…the need…was and is to have him look at me again.  The man who is sure of himself.  The man with pride.  The man who I married.

God I missed him.  God I hated what they did to him.  God I wanted him back.  Anything.  Please, anything to have him back…I would have given and done anything to see him again…the way he was.  The way I knew he could still be…the him that was buried under all of that pain and rejection; not from a paycheck that no longer arrived but from a life he no longer led.

Two weeks ago Friday, he had two offers.  Two. Great. Offers.  No “Setting lower sights” offers, either…really, really great offers that really were better than what he had had before.  Places he wanted to be and jobs he wanted to do.  Was thrilled the have the opportunity to do.

Last night, at 6:12 PM, He walked through our kitchen door.  He hugged me.  He came home.

And in that moment, as I pressed against him and felt his arms actually holding me…100 pounds lifted from my shoulders.  I’m not on my own.  I never was. I don’t have to do this alone anymore.  No matter what happens or if, God forbid, one of us may ever find ourselves without a job again; we know that we can make it through.  We proved that.  We damn well proved that.  He and we will always know that our worth is found in ourselves and each other…not in where and for whom we work.   He will always know he can survive and he will always be assured that he can come back from any adversity.  As many times as it takes.  He came home.

March 1, 2012

Zomberella

Posted in Parenthood tagged , , , , , at 2:21 am by openendedcomment

They are strange, gross and highly entertaining creatures.    They kick up their “baby testosterone” during football and hockey games…grunt, growl (I’ve heard it) and spit…only to get into the car (away from all team-mates) to shove their lower lip aaaalllll the way out and sniff to me “Mommy, that mean #27 elbowed me and it hurts a LOT and he called me a jerk.” With big puppy dog eyes…delivered in the saddest, most pathetic voice you’ve ever heard or imagined.   Tough in public, big babies at home.

They are boys. And despite all of the equality speak; they are different.

Take my 10-year-old for example.  He was given a perfectly good name.  A saint’s name; an apostle’s name.  A boring, stoic and respectable name.  In Kindergarten, he began to refer to himself as “Dog.”  I declined and dismissed this.  He wrote on his papers.  In the upper right-hand corner.  I corrected him.  He persisted.  I came to class to volunteer to teach art.  Twenty-Four short people had not received my message, which became clear as they stated “Ummm..Dog’s Mom?  Would you look at this?”  and “Can Dog and I have a play-date Friday after school?”   I spoke to his teacher.  Apparently, Hamster and Cat’s glue-eating were more pressing than my son’s new moniker.

After a year of this, I gave up.  He now goes by his first initial-Dog.  As in D-Dog or G-Dog….you get the point.

The point IS that Dog does whatever Dog feels is the manliest thing to do.  He is not alone in this.  Dog has a brother, Captain America.  Captain is 9.  Captain, unlike Dog, hates all organized sports but instead idolizes all things military.  He knows the name of every tank and plane ever in any battle in most countries.  Captain and Dog share a room that reeks of baby-testosterone.  And of said boys…because no matter what anyone else tells you, boys don’t like to shower.  At least not with soap.  My daughter thinks they are the height of rudeness and points this out at every opportunity.  She also sprays them with Febreeze.  Sometimes, I thank her.

Boys will be boys is a saying we hear in my house daily.  It’s not said to dismiss poor behavior, rather to calm my daughter down when they do things like glue their butt shut with gum while attempting to blow a fart bubble (yes, you read that right.) Or when they take every. Single. Cabinet.Down in the kitchen at 5AM because Wonder-Dad taught a 5-year-old how to use a power tool.  We say these things so that when they are who they are…we don’t feel the need to commit them…or at least seriously consider an evaluation.

We need to understand in our home (and in our world) that boys and girls, men and women, though not better than each other are very, very far apart in what we feel/think/do on an instinctive level.

Name a woman who, at any point in her life, would think to eat a blow-pop with the express purpose of getting to the gum as “it’s the stickiest” in order to place it…ahem…and then pass gas in an attempt to make a bubble.  Beuller?  Beuller?  Thought so.

Sometimes, in order to preserve my marriage, I need to remember that.  Sometimes, as a wife, I need to remind myself that just as boys will be boys, men will be men and sometimes I have to let it go when he watches Speed channel in bed…or when he misses the fact that I am not, in fact, the laundry/dish/cooking fairy.  Sometimes he needs a little reminder….and sometimes I have to remember that reminders do not equate to nagging.  It’s all in the delivery.

It starts at birth.  My daughter potty-trained with little issues and sat like an angel to “do her business”.  Not my sons.  1) They wouldn’t sit.  They had seen Dad and Dad didn’t sit.  2) Dad would not sit as an example to them…he was actually pretty amused that I even brought it up.  So 3) I had to make it a game.  Super fun to explain to guests for about 2 years (they are 18 months apart) why there was a bowl of Cheerios in every bathroom.  “No, it’s not gross…it’s how they pee”  insert shocked look from everyone that entered my home during that time “I drop it in the toilet and they have to try to sink them.  It’s the only way they have any aim at this age”  Yes, I resorted to teaching my sons how to “sink” the cereal and basically tuned “it” into their first joystick.  Whatever.  It worked.

As they grow older, nothing changes.  You have to break it down to their level and actually think at their male level… if you don’t, bad things happen.

When I say “please find somewhere to put that frog that isn’t in your room or any common living area” I have to be more precise.  Or it ends up glued to my daughter’s pillow (yes, true story…apparently it wouldn’t “stay there”…don’t worry, frog lived) or when Dog is told to write a “modern fairy tale” for school…and I am called about it…because he wrote a book called “Zomberella” in which the title character is bitten by flesh-eating monsters and at the end of the gruesome tale bites her prince so he can enjoy the wedding feast with her.  That was today’s reminder…think like a boy if you don’t want to deal with the boy.

There are wonderful things about these little males.  Aside from entertainment value.

Instinctively, my boys are protective of me and of their sister. When they aren’t trying to ruin her life.  They know how to love but they don’t wear their emotions on their sleeve.  Except with me.  Which I hope never changes.  They burp and they fart but they also have an amazing work ethic.  They would rather pee on a tree (we are past the Cheerios phase); but they know how to take care of their home.  They are good with their hands and quick on their feet.  They can not dance but they do sing.  Loudly.  Off-key. They are men’s men in training and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  They are, come to think of it, exactly like their fathers.

Boys will be boys. And I for one am damn glad.

January 5, 2012

One step away…

Posted in Parenthood tagged , , , , , at 7:13 pm by openendedcomment

I am petrified.  Tonight we receive our son’s three year evaluation paperwork.  Next week we sit down with his “team” and discuss his “plan”…and everytime this happens (and it happens every year in one form or another) I want to scream and throw things and in general act like a 2 yr old instead of the “Mom” because when we deal with this, I don’t want to be the Mom.  I want to be a kid.  I want someone else to be the grown-up.  I want someone else to deal with it, to handle it…to do the right thing.  I want that so badly because in this situation, I can’t screw up.  I don’t get a re-take in the test of major-parental-duties.  I hate this.

I hate this even more for my husband.  I just called him and offered him a night out with his friends.  He will need it.  I will need it.  I will need to read through this alone, before him.  I need to know how to prepare him.  It’s what we’ve always done.

Our DS15 is my step-son.  I’ve raised him with my husband with little input from his biological mother for the past 7.5 yrs, so in almost every respect he is “mine”…but really, he isn’t.  His brother, for instance, my DS10, is “mine” all-the-way.

I love my children, all four of them.  I would die for them, I cry over them, I am filled with joy when they have one of those “moments” in life, but there is a difference with my eldest.

It’s hard to define where the difference lies.  I love them the same.  I worry about them constantly, perhaps DS15 a bit more than the others.  I am involved in everything, attend everything, do all I can…but DS15 has always been just a little less “mine”.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where the difference lies, it is there and despite it and maybe because of it, most of the practical and emotional toll of this “plan” falls on me.  I am one miniscule step removed and it allows me to see the whole situation from a somewhat detached view that we’ve learned actually does matter in order to get through these meetings and constant barrages of “issues” and diagnoses with a semblance of sanity and, so far, without actually harming any of the “team” members…though its been close a few times.

My DH is devastated.  He’s been devastated for years.  It is heart-breaking beyond belief to have to realize and then accept that your son is disabled.  It is made harder when his parents and ex don’t choose to/want to believe it…they seem to be of the opinion that 5 private psychiatrists/psychologists, 4 IQ tests, 3 school psychologists and 2 pediatricians counting are wrong.  I can even sort of understand that.  It took my DH at least three years to accept that he wouldn’t just “grow out of it”.

I always knew.

Maybe that’s why I’m one step-removed.  Someone had to accept it all.  Someone had to deal with the situation and help this child in the most appropriate manner possible.  Someone had to drive him back and forth to his Doctor twice a week, 25 miles each way for years on end.  Someone had to do that who could handle what she would hear at said appointments and not break down twice a week, every week.  Someone had to be the bearer of bad news heard at these visits.  And, if you were ever curious, they do indeed shoot the messenger.  I am riddled with holes and learned, finally,to wear my Kevlar vest at all times.  Some say I am cold and other say I am cruel.  I had to detatch…just a little.  I had to keep a safe distance or my heart may have never recovered.

The thing is, after so many years of love and worry, I’m still not as removed as I need to be.

Next week I’m going to sit in a room with seven district employees who are going to tell my DH and I what they recommend for my son’s “plan”…not for high-school, but for his life.  They are going to use words like “group home environment” and “intellectual capability”…they’re going to hurt us in there.  Little needles of words that will poke and prod our souls while they remain clinical and maddeningly accepting.  My DH is going to squeeze my hand.  His nostrils will flare and his voice will grow stern.  He won’t be angry with them or him but at Him and IT.  I’m going to whisper in his ear “calm down, honey” and “it’ll all be OK, I promise” and “we will help him”…as I feign reaching for a pen in the bag I will hang on his chair.

I will ball my fists and walk out with crescent-shaped marks in my palm, but I’ll do it under the table so they don’t see.  I will leave there and drive straight to my office, stopping only once to breathe.  Breathe.  Breathe. Breathe in as there is no out.

I will call my DH; console him.  I will hold him that night.  I will listen and I will support.

I will remain one-step removed.  Even when it breaks my heart.