Tag Archives: children

Catching up…..Life as a Badass

Dear 23 Readers:

Oh my gosh, it’s been a long time since I sat down to write an update. I’ve been thinking of you, though and decided today is the day to reach out. There’s been a lot of change lately – nothing negative – just different. My mom is selling her house and that’s very emotional for all of us. It’s definitely time. She and Dad bought it 27 years ago and it is the “stable” home my nomadic children have known. We’ve moved so much and 1141 N. Nielson has been the port in many storms. We had Easter dinner at Mom’s and realized it will probably be our last holiday in the house. Matthew (#4) and I sat by the pool and started to talk about it but tears threatened and I am way too macho for that crap. Mark and I found out, recently that our good friends are moving back to Boston due to a job offer. Then, at work, we promoted my assistant manger to store manager at a different location. Which means a promotion for my key holder and hiring someone new for her position. Which means I have to talk to and play well with others I just met….. See? All good stuff, but change in the people in my peripheral and that always freaks me out. <sigh>

In other news, we camped Easter weekend with the fam. Part of it anyway. Loran (#3), Matthew, Kache (grandbaby) and Mark and I headed out for the last desert camp of the season. Lots of fun. A little too much tequila Saturday night after Kache fell asleep. Matt played guitar and I may or may not have sung “How Great Thou Art” acapella, at the top of my lungs, around midnight.

#momsdrunkrealizesitseasterandhastodosomethingreligious
AKA
#youcantakethegirloutofthechurchbutyoucanttakethecatholicoutofthegirl

Kimmy(#2) and her husband, Matti (note the i at the end of the name as I also refer to #4 as Matty and we try not to mix up the two. It’s worth noting we also have two Brandons – #1 as well as my nephew Casey’s husband, Brandon – differentiated by the spelling of their middle names Jeffrey for #1 and Geoffrey for nephew Brandon or by referring #1as Bubba or to Nephew as Nephew or Uncle Mooney, referencing somewhat dated family redneck jokes. Don’t ask.)

What the hell was I talking about?

Oh! #2 and Bodington went to England on a vacation I am openly envious of. They’ve been all over the place – South Africa, Ecuador, Japan – and that’s lovely, but England is on my bucket list and they got to go to Hogwarts and have high tea and see the Queen and Prince William. I am jealous.

It’s later now.

Pops left for New York (more change). Mom flew with him and will hang with family and friends that still reside in the frozen north. Her house sold, things are moving along nicely at work and my assistant moved on to his own store. <sigh>

Due to all the above mentioned change – not to mention the state of the world – I’ve been somewhat grumpy and have been making an effort to take myself out of a negative state of mind. I tend to be, by turns, cynical, annoyed, snarky and bitchy simply out of habit that is exacerbated by watching the news or Saturday Night Live and getting the latest Trump update. The negativity is like a cassette tape that’s on repeat in my head, when basically, I’m a very nice person.

Ask around.

What got me thinking about my own state of mind was Brandon’s. Admittedly, his is a bit of a challenge to me as he is Mr. Spock and I am a cross between my Aunt Gertrude, Karen on Will and Grace and the old bat Shirley McClain played in Steel Magnolias.

Don’t ask.

Anyway, one of Brandon’s favorite comedians is George Carlin. I get it. He was a funny guy. Sardonic, ironic, brilliant, fast and – largely negative. While I understand it is a comic’s job to point out the irony, etc., in daily life, depending on who they are and what their style is, things can get really dark. Carlin’s style fell into that category. I mean really, really bleak. So if Mr. Spock is listening to this guy who speaks the “truth” and does it loudly and in a somewhat angry voice, how exactly is that going to affect Mr. Spock?

Well, I don’t know. But it’s not good for Brandon.

For instance, Brandon is Agnostic. Fine. It’s his choice and frankly I don’t think God cares either. I mean, really, if God is all powerful and good and whatever, he knows Bran’s mind and heart and could really not give a shit less if #1 goes to church, a baseball game or the living room couch on a Sunday morning. However, Bran has been getting adamant about it. Even a little belligerent. And I’m like, “Dude, what? Okay. You don’t believe in the religious God. I’m good, and seriously, Supernatural is about to start. Please don’t get in the way of my Sam and Dean time.”

Yesterday we were on our way to an appointment in BFE and Bran brought his George Carlin CD. I listened for about 15 minutes, turned it off and looked at my son.

“Jesus, no wonder you’re half crazy over this crap,” I said. “You’re living your life based on the gospel according to George freaking Carlin.”

Thank God I know how to be subtle.

“You may not believe in the stuff written by whomever claims to be the scribe of God in any given part of the Bible, but please please give the same discriminatory once over to Carlin’s material. This is his schtick. You get that right? He was apparently one angry fu—.”
“Mom!”
“Sorry, but jeez! All this time I’ve been worried that you’re gonna end up punching pro-life marchers in the forehead or telling little old Mother Theresa look alikes that they’re full of sh-uh-baloney because you don’t believe so much and it was just a stupid recording of George Carlin warping your good sense!”
“Well,” said my completely unimpressed by my rant son. “If you look at things logically, he’s right about almost everything he says.”
“Perhaps if everything was black or white, but the gray areas count, Bran.”

There was more, but it got me thinking about what I listen to and what floats around in the space between my ears. In Awakening To Your Life’s Purpose, book I read and re-read endlessly, Eckhart Tolle talks about the ego and the recording it plays in our heads. A constant diatribe of discontent and negativity. We’re always something whether it’s annoyed, irritated, entitled, deprived, anxious, resentful, victimized – made up stuff that keeps us enslaved to negative feelings. Some of it, of course, can very well be rooted in real events or needs and wants, but most is habit. Think about when you’re driving and someone zooms in front of you. It startles you and you immediately decide that person did it on purpose or without any thought for you so they are suddenly the enemy and you can call them a worthless ass hat or perhaps a douche lord. Or a freaking jerk or a f&^$ing a$$hole…….. I digress.

I read something in the Buddhist Bootcamp blog that said (paraphrasing) You are not stuck in traffic. You are traffic.

Sing it with me : e – PIPH – any.

Of all the things that annoy me, it annoys me most that I am them. (That one is mine)

My point is not to demean anyone’s space. We are where we are. And I would never suggest that anxiety and/or depression are a figment of imagination. I’ve been there with both of them and for whatever reason they might exist for someone, they’re real as hell.

So are the voices.

Just kidding.

For the daily, though. The recording that plays over and over – maybe we could change it up. It’s surprisingly easy to do. The first step is to realize your ego is a separate entity from who you truly are. Your ego believes the guy cut in front of you in traffic ON PURPOSE to RUIN YOUR DAY. Sanity tells you he, like you, is just trying to get where he is going in one piece and he did a bone-headed thing. Maybe today you can refrain from telling him how many ways you’re going to eff him up when you get a hold of him the next time you see him on the freeway. Perhaps when someone walks into your store to ask directions or for something you clearly don’t sell you can summon a smile, even though they’re the 73rd person to do so, and give them the information they need instead of the finger.

Do you get where I’m going? Away from the edge and today I’ll take you with me if you want. Tomorrow I may be calling you for a lift.

Next up: Depression and Naked Disco Dancing.
……………My second cousin, once removed asked for advice, via her Facebook page, regarding something she could do to channel some extremely negative energy and (as I read it) sort of clear her space. I didn’t answer at first because, though I’ve come to think a lot of her and I adored her grandmother (my first cousin, once removed), I don’t know her well and it felt presumptuous to offer said advice.

I know. She asked. But my answer was a very personal one and it felt strange putting it out there.

Like I was naked.

Then she posted again, expressing surprise at the number of constructive suggestions she’d received when she sort of expected irreverence. SC chose a couple of the suggestions and shared her plans to follow through on them, but there was no irreverence. No silliness. No outrageous behavior to upend the blues. I responded thusly:

You wanted something irreverent? I’ve got it, I think. During times when life overwhelmed me, when sadness curled me into a fetal ball of fear under the blankets in my bed, behind closed and locked bedroom doors, my husband – whether reacting from concern or just not knowing what the hell else to do – marched in, turned on Donna Summer or Gloria Gaynor or The Bee Gees and told me to dance. I said “I’m naked under here.” He said, “Perfect! It’s pretty hard to take anything seriously when you’re dancing naked to ‘I Will Survive!'” I protested. I bitched. I cried. But he wouldn’t take no for an answer. So just to get rid of him I danced. Naked. To disco. There was some serious stuff bringing me down. Those dances became my fuck you to losing my mind to them. Irreverence matters. Do the constructive things you’ve mentioned but grab some irreverence as well. That’s just for you.

Just for you.

And, so you see, I was naked. And it was frightening. Not that anybody saw – except me. And nobody cared – even me – which was weird because we all know exactly how vain I used to be.

Shut up.

When I danced I discovered a kind of freedom that I hadn’t known since I was a child. It was a letting go of energy that children know instinctively how to release. As we grow into adults and buy into the trade offs that life inevitably brings – you know – make the deals to get the stuff, I think we tie up the instinct piece by piece and sell it, accidentally, for shit we never needed in the first place. It takes a level of consciousness of which most 12 to 30 year-olds are unaware to say no more often than not. And, frankly, I thought I’d said no. A lot. I thought I was pretty Zen. However, I forgot – or more likely – ignored the fact that pretending the deals I was making weren’t, in fact, deals and stuffing fear and anger in my “I’ll deal with that tomorrow” file like I was Scarlett O’Hara isn’t the same thing as being fully centered.

As if “fully centered” actually exists on this plane……

Adulting is hard. There’s no way around it. I knew it and I believed it. I just didn’t make room for it. And so, in that first summer and fall we spent in New York, when I was away from my two oldest daughters and my mother and Mom had cancer and I was still reeling from the loss of my father and I hated my job and Matthew hated me because I’d gone back on my word never to move one of my children from their home during high school and all of that didn’t even scratch the surface of the guilt and grief I was carrying from years of deals, I curled up in my bed one day and thought – well I stopped thinking. I was afraid to think. Or feel or move. I was afraid.

Which is where Mark and Donna Summer came into play.

It wasn’t the last time he found me that way. The first time wasn’t the last time I danced. And I still make deals. But I make them more fully aware of what I’m doing. There’s less idealism involved but there’s also less fear. I traded the need to have everything in its place for learning to live in the moment and be thankful for it. I traded wanting everyone to like me for liking myself. I traded religion for faith and I traded feeling like a victim to living like a badass.

I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t she sell sunglasses? Yes. I do. But what one “does” isn’t what makes one a badass.

I dated a guy in college who was, in every sense of the word, unavailable to me. It’s okay. It was my pattern as a commitment-phobe to choose those whom I could not have – which is a story for another time. With the advent of social media, this person and I crossed paths again five or six years ago. It was hey, how are you? Tell me about yourself…… We caught up a little and that was it. Except for one thing. He said to me, I’m happy to know you’ve lived a joyful life.

I hadn’t told him that. I mean, we’re basically strangers and I certainly didn’t reveal anything deep. I had a moment of what does he mean by that? Was I not joyful back then? Is he judging me? Which sounds like pure egocentric paranoia.

You’ve met me, right?

But once I dismissed Blanche – which is what I call my egocentric personality in honor of the character immortalized by Vivien Leigh in the movie Streetcar Named Desire – I was able to take the compliment for what it was. An impression given. My aura. It’s basically who I am. Really am. When I look at the things I’ve been through in my life – the good, the not so good, the horrifying – and know that who I am now, at the heart of it is the same happy, loud, curious, open, joyful being I was as a child and that all of my personalities get out of bed every single morning – THAT makes me a badass.

I’ll bet you just figured out you’re one as well.

It’s been lovely catching up!  I’ll try not to wait so long before sitting down to write next time because I have been known to go on and on………..

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Poof! Anxiety is Gone… or something… And I do not have ADHD… Yet

I have spent the last week with an old acquaintance named anxiety.

What a jerk.

He comes over uninvited, makes himself at home, doesn’t explain the reason for the visit and commences to wreak havoc. I did what I could on my own then threw up my hands and called my good buddy, tequila. We sipped a shot together and my stomach untwisted enough for me to get my shit together and show anxiety the door. The problem is, anxiety has his own key.

And we all know tequila can’t stay forever or he turns from the solution into the problem.

Like I always, eventually do, I started the backtracking inventory, researching and figuring out why my head seems to be so far up my – uh – why I’m anxious. Is it psychological, physiological, work-related, stress-related? Am I not getting to the gym? Am I not saying no enough?

For me, anxiety is almost always self-induced by the mythological I-can-do-it-all syndrome that affects women from 9 to 90. I work full time and have a lot of obligations, just like millions of my sisters around the globe. Is it menopause related? I don’t know. I can’t tell you what point of menopause I’m in because there’s no map supplied by life – thanks God – and we will be discussing this later….. I have a mental picture of me saying these things to God and God sitting at his laptop reading them, eyes going wide, clapping his (we’re going with ‘him’ as no woman would ever do to herself or another female what menopause does) hand over his mouth to smother naughty giggles…….

Yes, I personify The Almighty as a 13-year-old nerd, pranking womankind.

Sometimes.

In this case.

It’s a testament to how close to the edge I can get when desperate for answers. I mean, come on. I can’t walk around with my heart in my throat all the time. It makes me grouchy as hell. Neither do I want to be zonked on Benadryl constantly. That stuff makes me cantankerous after a while too.

<sigh>

……….I went to have my hair colored yesterday.

Not cut. Just colored.

I’ve never split my appointments up before, but because I waited until the last minute (read three inches of roots) to schedule them, my colorist and stylist couldn’t be booked on the same day for a month out. I took what I could get, which was a color appointment right before Mr. Smooshy Kissy Cheek’s Kindergarten Moo-sical. I was sure I’d have at least 45 minutes between completion of the appointment and the start of the barn show. Plenty of time.

And I don’t know what my colorist was doing with her time but I felt neglected. She put the foils in my hair, had someone else wash the color out (which is normal). She put toner in, plopped me in a chair and I never saw her again.

I sat, waiting, for long enough that I wondered what the hell was happening. There was a brief moment of fear in which I remembered the girl who does my color was a classmate of one of my daughters and said daughter told me they did not get along – in fact the words “can’t stand,” “mean as hell” and “such a b!#ch” might have been thrown around. However, as that was 10 years past and the “mean as hell” girl is nice to me, does fabulous color, and it’s my hair, #1 agreed sucking it up was in order. But – had my colorist suddenly remembered the animosity between them and decided to take it out on my hair?

I tried not to panic. It wasn’t as if I could just leave. There were mysterious chemicals on my head, of which I was (and am) completely ignorant.

I took deep breaths and watched a girl sweep the hair from three different stations, empty it into the garbage and take the garbage outside. She then came back, introduced herself as Maddy and said she’d been sent to wash and blow dry my hair.

Okay.

Everything was good. Normal.

The speed at which Maddy moved was neither. It took her five actual minutes to comb out my hair and 32 actual minutes to attempt a blow dry. I knew she was a student and learning and was fine with that – unlike the student in the teaching hospital where Kimberly was born…… I made it clear, at that time, to my doctor that I wanted no residents anywhere near me. Brandon’s birth had been a horrible ordeal, during which we both could have died and I wanted nothing but seasoned professionals around for the birth of my second child. So, when the unfamiliar doctor came in to check my progress during labor I asked if he was a resident. He said yes. I said how happy I was to meet him and that he should take the goddamned glove off because that hand was going nowhere near my cervix…….. But this was just hair.

“Just hair.”

Seriously. 32 minutes.

At minute 20 I told Maddy how much I appreciated her efforts but was in quite a time crunch.

“Oh, of course,” she said. “I understand schedules.”

At minute 30 I released a sigh that sounded more like a growl. Maddy just continued on with the little, tiny section of hair she was drying.

“May I ask a favor,” I said at minute 32. “Give me the dryer. Just hand me the dryer.”

I grabbed it, flipped my head over and had the top of my head, which was literally still wet, dry in about 30 seconds. I mean, Jesus, it’s the desert and I have fine hair. Unless I’m standing out in the 100 degree sun and am in the middle of a frigging hot flash, it takes me, at the very most, 10 minutes to dry and style my locks.

Finally all was well.

Then I saw it.

In the middle of my head there was basically a big blonde mass. A forelock so brightly colored it looked like a bald spot.

“Is everything okay,” Maddy asked nervously. She reached toward my hair.
“Don’t touch me,” I said. “I’m going to use the restroom, then pay and I have to go. I’m late.”

I walked away and reached the bathroom right before I burst into tears because damn it, now I’d have to think about my hair and that’s my one rule. I don’t want to have to think about it. I get it cut and colored three or four times a year and I don’t have to think about it otherwise. But now I would because there’s a big blonde bald-looking spot right in the middle of my face…………

………And it’s a couple of days later…….. I’ve calmed down and had my hair washed and cut and the “spot” is blended and makes sense with the style……. Sort of……..

Maybe I’m just too picky. Maybe it’s wrong of me to insist that my hair look more like my natural color from 25 years ago and less like a photo of Bonnie Raitt.

Does anyone get that reference?

If you want to feel old, make jokes around people in their twenties. One of the guys at work started complaining about his hair the other day. Because it resembled Greg Brady’s from The Brady Bunch I said, “Oh calm down Greg. You’re getting it cut this afternoon, right?” His face was completely blank.

“What? Why’d you call me Greg?”

I had to explain the joke and show him a clip from The Brady Bunch. He’d never heard of it.

And just in case anyone wonders, google photos of Bonnie Raitt.

Later I was on break and scrolling my Facebook feed. Sean Hayes had posted one of his lip sync videos and I was watching it and laughing. Another of the babies who works for me asked what was so funny and I said I was watching a Sean Hayes lip sync video.

He gave me a blank stare.

“Sean Hayes,” I repeated. “You know, Jack, from Will and Grace.”

Same stare.

From somewhere in my brain I heard the words, fire him.  Instead I threw him a nasty look and told him to go back to work.

Almost everyone with whom I work is younger than I.

And it’s okay. I don’t mind. Most of the time.

It’s just…… Well, if there’s any levity it almost has to be on their level because it’s one thing for me to stay current but if we have to go back in time, I have to give history lessons and we all know I have no patience for that crap. I mean, I know Will and Grace has been off the air for a while but….

Oh God. I am a dinosaur.

Seriously. I just looked up when Will and Grace was on the air and I can’t believe it’s been OFF longer than it was on.

What about Friends? BRB

12 years off the air!

<sigh>

So my humor, my newest humor, is at least ten years old because, seriously, I don’t think much of what’s on now is funny. I like The Big Bang Theory and Amy Schumer, but Vine and Snapchat? Ugh. Olivia will, every now and then, find me in a weak moment – I’ve just gotten out of bed or the shower and can’t move quickly enough to avoid what I know is coming – and force-feed me six and a half second videos that she swears will simply tear me up with laughter.

They don’t.

I’m sure some are funny. I just haven’t seen those. Yet. Because my daughter insists we keep on trying. And because it puts me in close proximity with my youngest, I agree.

But they’re not funny.

Karen Walker is funny. Lucy and Ethel are still funny. Barney Fife is still funny. That big, dorky guy who does the Chrysler Pacifica commercials – Jim Gaffigan – is hilarious. So I guess, if you count him and Amy Schumer, I like current stuff.

Over 30 stuff.

To each generation their own.

I remember when Mark showed a clip of Robin Williams Live On Broadway to his father and Pops very calmly told us exactly how unfunny Mr. Williams and his crass, profane brand of humor was. Pops hates swear words. Robin Williams used them liberally. Mark and I use them liberally – unless Pops is around. I tone it down then. Mark, not so much.

I’m a lady.

See. That, right there, is funny. If you know me.

And the kids at work are getting there.

They laugh. At me. When I dance. And trip. And am myself. And I laugh back because – because it’s just the best thing and –

Then.

Poof……….

……..Anxiety is gone.

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Filed under Daily Life, Lady stuff......, Parenting

There Were Moments

Mother’s Day is this Sunday. I have, over the years, written about the women, my own mother in particular, who have inspired me. This time, as I contemplate the stages of life my children occupy presently, I’d like to write about the people who made me a mom.

Pure indulgence, maybe – well, I guess a little. Fine. Total and complete indulgence because they’re growing up and if I don’t discuss it a little I might cry…..  I’ll get emotional…..  I will break down and throw a sobbing fit requiring valium and time in an ashram – or a padded room – whichever is easier to reach.

Kimmy and Loran are graduating from college.

Nothing to cry about there.

Kimmy “retired” last Saturday night, after 11 and a half years working as hostess/expo/server/bartender/manager at the Taco Shack. Through the money she earned there she supported herself, bought cars, travelled to some magnificent places and put herself through school, up to and including a Master’s program at one of the best universities in the country.

Loran, likewise, has occupied space in all of the above categories and has put herself through school – she graduates next week with her Bachelor of Arts degree in Education – and supports herself and the light of all our lives, Kache Monkey Head. She will soon move on from the Taco Shack, leaving space and memories behind the bar where I’m not sure I’ll be able to sit for a Margarita or Corona again, because in spite of all the country songs about it, I don’t think crying in your beer is something anyone wants to see.

Maybe when Olivia (she’s a server now) becomes a bartender I’ll be able to drink publicly again. Until said time, I’ll do my drinking out of a vat with a straw at home because I’m old, shriveled up and my kids have all left me…….. Well, except for Liv and Bran. But damned if they’re not on their way.

I figure I’ve got another couple of years till the bookends are on their own. What then?

Mark and I are looking at mini motor homes. More on that later……..

People have asked me, over the years, questions about what it’s like to have a lot of kids.

First, let’s establish that we are not 19 Kids and Counting. I won’t begin to fathom what the hell is in the minds of the parents in that family. It’s not my business, which doesn’t always matter, of course, but I’m not here to judge anyone…….. Don’t you wonder, however, if those two people even know all their children on more than a Hey, how’s it goin’ basis? I mean, kids are such individuals. And I don’t know if it’s only my little tribe, but they each have several, separate and distinct personalities. You know, just like their father. As a parent, it’s a challenge to know and be open to more than one child. Five was definitely pushing the envelope. 19? The very idea makes me want to lay down and take a nap. If I was Mrs. Duggar, I’m sure I’d be pregnant by the time I got up.

I don’t feel too bad slinging big family jokes. I was certainly on the receiving end of many. For the record (pretty sure I’ve said this before), yes, I know what causes it, yes, I know how to prevent it (or we would be the Duggars) and yes, we meant to have this many kids.

Kimberly asked me not too long ago if I was ever overwhelmed by her and her siblings while they were growing up. In the moment I said no, but it made me think.

The answer is still no.

There were certainly moments. Do I really have to make macaroni and cheese again, moments. Oh my God, school is out for the summer next week, moments. The health scares. Matthew’s near drowning. Brandon’s diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome. The letting go moments. Everything from watching them walk away on their first day of Kindergarten to knowing I couldn’t save them from disappointment and the deepest kinds of pain – to Matthew’s move to Colorado earlier this year and Kimmy’s impending move to California.

The only thing that ever overwhelmed me, honestly, was and is joyous gratitude to whatever Divine Universal Spirit exists that allows me to be the mother of five such unique and amazing individuals.

My father used to bore his friends and really, anyone who would listen, talking about the love and pride he had in my brother Micah and me. My friends (children of his friends) would tell me how it drove them nuts to be privy to any of these conversations. They always said it with a smile – not because they thought my dad was so right about us – but that Dad said it and meant it. It was that he loved us so much and couldn’t help but express that love.

I totally understand how Dad felt. I would extol the virtues of my children to the moon and back – discussing it with anyone who would sit still long enough – because I am captivated by them and have been from the moment I met each one. There are not enough gig-a-whatevers in the world to contain the only thing that ever truly overwhelms me – my love for the family my darling Mark and I were blessed to have created.

I’m contemplating a very different kind of motherhood this Mother’s Day, as my children grow and move on. I’m here for them. I pray for them. I support them in all aspects of their lives. Just like always. It’s from the stands now, though. More of a spectator sport – not that I am afraid to be vocal if the need arrives – but I’m no longer the driver for them. The change was gradual and it started, literally, the moment each was born.

Moments.

Yes, Kimmy…. and Brandon and Loran and Matthew and Olivia……. you have each given me so many amazing moments. I would not trade a single one.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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Filed under Daily Life, Memories, Parenting

Transition Smansition

     I am a woman, in transition, who, in spite of the fact that I’ve had to deal with the same my entire life, does not embrace change.

     I am trying.

     In the last few weeks, three of my kids have moved out.  I knew they would.  It was the plan.  Mark, Bran, Liv and I are moving out at the end of September as well.  Our year of all being together again, under one roof has come to an end.

      We’ve had a great time, for the most part.  I won’t dissect the ups and downs of the Waite-Feldbauer clan beyond saying we had a lot of really good times, a couple of blow outs and we are still The Loud (Loud) Family.

     My current heartburn exists, in part, due to being the last one left in the house, except for the above mentioned loved ones and an inordinate number of wolf spiders the size of my fist.  I’m okay when Mark or the bookends (children #’s 1 and 5) are here, but when I’m alone?  With the spiders?

     Not pretty.

    This house is huge.

     And empty.

     So much stuff has been removed, it’s starting to echo.

     Matt left last week for a month in Buffalo.  He’ll be back in mid-October with his Jeep and some money saved up from working a job back there.  Can somebody tell me why, when he is 22 and made this decision himself, I still felt like I was sending my 7-year-old out the door to fly cross country alone?

     Can you tell me why I feel horribly guilty that I couldn’t help Loran or Kimmy move because I had to work?  Am I holding onto the mommy guilt as a method of keeping my children, “children,” at least in my head?

     Sighhhhhhh………

     Don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want them to be little again.  While I miss the closeness we had, I do embrace who they are as adults.  I like them as they are and am totally cool with not seeing them each and every day.

     Sort of.

     This transition is a good one.  There’s no real negativity beyond the residual fall out of adult siblings living together for a year and finding their childhood roles haven’t changed and that they really need to figure out how to move beyond them.

     Or not.

     I’m told that shit is out of the scope of my current managerial duties.  Besides, I’m not especially skilled regarding the sibling thing, as is illustrated by non-existent relationships with my own brother and sister.

     Anyway………

     Transition.  Good.  Moving on.  New life.  New dreams or new opportunities to pursue my dreams.  More time to devote to child #1, helping him move on to independence and autonomy.  More time to help #5 find her way through college.

     More time to give to the man I love more than my luggage.  More time for yoga and stress relieving activities – which, by the way, said man claims to have copious amounts of ideas for…….

     I certainly hope so.  Because currently I have a rash.  And a shoulder injury.  And hot flashes.  And short crying jags brought on by everything from a picture of my little Kache to the mere mention of the onset of the holiday season.

    I’m praying that getting into a house I don’t have to move out of till I’m good and goddamned ready will help dissolve the knot in my gut.  Not that we won’t be moving again.  We’ll be renting this year and buying next fall.   

     Maybe.

     If we want to.

     If I say we can.

     If I’ve calmed down somewhat.

     And haven’t lost my mind……   

          

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September 20, 2013 · 10:25 AM

I’m old………….. Part One

It’s been a month since I’ve managed to get a blog written and I’m not completely sure today will find me any more successful than the previous 30.  I want to write and I keep thinking up things to write about, but between work and having that last kid still at home, insisting I give her the same level of care and attention the other four enjoyed, I’m freaking exhausted.

Turns out full time jobs cut into a person’s schedule.

It’s not that I haven’t worked full time before.  Plus, if anyone tells you that being a stay at home mom isn’t full time work, they’re either Ann Coulter level ignorant or they’ve been watching some stupid housewives, “reality,” show and are sadly jealous because they think being at the beck and call of a bunch of curtain climbing hooligans somehow involves breakfast in bed, leisurely shopping and no-strings-attached massages from the live-in male maid/nanny.

But enough about my fantasy life.

The truth is, from the time #1 son was born, I’ve worked sun up to collapsed in a chair, passed out on the floor or sleeping standing up in the shower.

This. Is. Harder.

I’m more tired, my body aches and dragging myself to the gym, the grocery store or the damn computer is a bigger challenge than ever……….

You don’t think?  It couldn’t be……  Maybe it’s because of my……….

Shoes.

That’s it!

Everyone told me to stop wearing the little ballet flats and sandals I sported at Retail Hell (“Little,” being a subjective term here, as anyone who has seen my feet realizes that, attractive though they are, “little,” they are not).  But I haven’t listened.  Oh, I throw on my hideous black, “comfortable,” “supportive,” shoes at least once a week.  At the end of the day, my legs are much less tired, my feet aren’t swollen and my lower back doesn’t ache.

What is that, though, when my fashion sense is completely demoralized?  After a day of indulging myself in feeling physically good, I have to wear heels just to regain equilibrium.

Plus, there’s something about being elevated that makes me forget the real reason for the fatigue.

It’s my hair.

I am four weeks past due for cut and color and thinking about how to style it so the roots don’t look so dishwater greasy and the ends look less like Bette Midler’s broom in, Hocus Pocus, drains my last wearied nerve.  Then there’s working an appointment into my schedule.  I don’t know where the time goes.  And it takes hours to get this shit done.  I am so unwilling to spend an entire afternoon at a salon on my day off.

After all, I could be sleeping – in an actual bed – or shopping for shoes.

It was much less trouble to fit this stuff in when the kids were younger because I actively looked for reasons to get out of the house and into a place where there were humans who spoke something other than Sesame Street lingo.

There’s less reason to want to run out now and between my work schedule, my sore feet and hair shame it’s really a wonder I can drag my butt out of bed in the first place, which brings me to one simple conclusion.

I’m old………

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Happy Senior Year, Munchkin-Honey-Bear

Olivia starts her Senior year on Wednesday.  I don’t know how to handle that as I’m not yet over the fact that she left me to go to Kindergarten.

As my youngest child enters her last year as an official schoolgirl, I want to mark the occasion by attempting to make everyone else cry as hard as, 1.) I did on her first day of school, 2.) I will when she leaves the house Wednesday morning and, 3.) I will on God only knows how many subsequent mornings/afternoons/evenings/sleepless nights in the coming year.

I wrote the following poem for an assignment in a writing class I was taking when my five-year-old abandoned me.  I showed it to her a year or so ago, thinking it would, you know, like, really move her.

Yeah, no.

It was something like, “awww, sweet Mom.”

First she deserts me, then she learns the art of condescension…….

My throat tightens after the first line.  I remember all the first days of each kid vividly.  Half way through, tears are streaming and by the time I hit the part about how short a time I had when my children were really mine, it’s full on heart wrenching sobs.

I wish the same for all three of you who read this.

I wish the same for my Olivia, for all my children, someday.

To my darling girl, Happy Senior Year, Munchkin!

In Livi’s Eyes

 In Livi’s eyes I see them all

as they took their Kindergarten steps away from me.

Brandon laughed his excitement, that first day.

Kimmy bounced hers.

Loran’s solemn little face, the only one to cry

when I left, tore my heart.

Matty, “Mr. Cool.”

Charmed the faculty

before first bell.

Now Olivia.

We take the last few steps

toward the end of her baby years,

and I cling.

Like a drowning woman to a life preserver

am I

To her hand.

I feel her smile, but stare straight ahead,

lest I dissolve,

folding in upon myself.

Freedom calls me outside the classroom door.

The many things I long to accomplish still,

whisper my name.

Choked by a grieving loneliness,

I am deaf.

My eyes hold fast to my youngest child.

She runs to join new friends,

while around her dance the shadows

of her sisters and brothers.

Of my memories.

She turns to blow me a kiss

and it floats on the wind, filling the space between us

with a sweetness only a mother knows.

They were mine for such a short while.

I swallow hard and meet my daughter’s gaze

locking this moment forever in my heart.

It’s safely kept.

I’ve seen Heaven.

In Livi’s eyes.

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Pool Safety Twenty Years Later………

June 23, 2012 will mark the 20th anniversary of the day I pulled a lifeless Matthew James Dean Feldbauer out of our pool and, together with my heroic little girls, Kimmy and Loran, a wonderful neighbor and the amazing emergency teams of fire fighters, EMT’s and Children’s Hospital staff, brought him (brought all of us) back to life.

I write about this every year – because I promised myself I would, as a way too small measure of gratitude for my son’s life – but this year it’s different.

Many nights – too many nights – on the news, there are stories of children who have drowned or nearly drowned.  I keep thinking, Isn’t anyone listening?  But that’s not the case.  People simply don’t believe – I know I didn’t – that it can happen to them.  To their child.  Let me tell you with all the certainty of someone who knows exactly what it’s like to pull a dead baby out of the water.

IT CAN HAPPEN TO YOU.

When I reached down and lifted my 11-month-old son out of our back yard pool, he was bloated and so blue his body looked like a giant bruise.  He wasn’t breathing and I couldn’t find a heartbeat.

The world stopped and yet I could feel time – and Matthew’s life – rushing out of my hands.  As I held him, I fought the hysterical urge to run where nobody could find us – for a part of me was sure he was already dead – and I knew I couldn’t go on without him, nor could I let anyone take him from me.  Instead, thank God, I laid him on my bed, sent Kimmy and Loran for our neighbor, and began the little bit of CPR training I remembered from 18 years before as a Girl Scout.

I breathed into Matthew’s mouth and nose.

Matthew took a breath, spit up water and – nothing.  He stopped breathing again.  But he wasn’t dead.

I repeated my action and so did he.  Our neighbor rushed in and took over CPR.  Somewhere in there – I couldn’t tell you at what point – I called 911.  The EMT’s were there within just a few minutes.  They life-flighted my baby to Children’s Hospital in Phoenix, where the doctors and nurses went to work on him.

They put me in a small waiting room at the hospital, while Matthew was being treated.  I spent a tortured, guilt and grief ridden ten minutes? thirty minutes? an hour? I don’t remember – waiting to hear if my little boy was going to be all right.  Knowing that if he died, I’d have no one else but my own stupid self to blame.  How could I face Mark, face the kids and tell them I’d killed our Matty?  How had he gotten out of the house?  I’d locked the back door, hadn’t I?  I was always hyper-vigilant about that.  And he’d been out of my sight for such a short time.  I pictured him toddling out to the pool, climbing down on that first step – then slipping under the water.  God, how frightened he must have been – did he try to call for me?  And I didn’t come.  Christ!  How will I die, I wondered.  For there was no doubt in my mind that I’d have to go with him.  Living without him just wasn’t an option and –

The door opened and someone entered the room.

“There is a little boy out here,” a doctor said, smiling.  “He’s crying for his mama.  Would you like to hold him?”

What does it feel like to be reborn?  What did Matthew go through?  Did he leave us only to have someone tell him it wasn’t his time?  That we needed him?  I’ll never know and he, blessedly, doesn’t remember.  I do remember, very clearly, what it was like to have his chubby little hand touch my face that day and bring me back to life.  If there is a Heaven – and I believe there is – I tasted it that day.  The paradise of unconditional love was contained in the warm, squirming, terrified-till-he-saw me, body of a little boy I still believe was a special gift – the first time he was born – and the second.

Mark arrived a few minutes later, relief flooding his eyes and dripping down his face as he held our son and spoke his gratitude out loud to God.  He never blamed me and I wonder still at his goodness, his capacity for forgiveness.  I’ve never quite let go completely of the guilt over nearly losing our son.  I was the adult.  I was responsible.  I know, with the ‘rational side of my brain,’ it was an accident.  And Matty didn’t die.  But he came so close.  What kind of mother lets that happen?

Matthew stayed over-night at Children’s.  While Mark and I spoke with doctors the next day, Matty ran around the lobby of the way-too-quiet ICU under the watchful eyes of a couple of nurses.  All evening long and most of the morning, EMT’s, nurses, doctors – some who’d worked on him and many who hadn’t – had stopped in to check his progress.

“This little guy means everything,” one of the nurses told us, with tears in her eyes.  “Most kids who came in the way Matthew did, don’t leave through the front door with Mom and Dad.  He’ll keep us going for quite a while.”

Twenty years later, I still go cold when I think of how close we came to losing our child.  All that he is – all that the world is because Matthew exists – would have stopped in that one moment.

Put up fences and lock them.  Teach and enforce safety rules.  Teach your kids and grandkids to swim.  At parties and gatherings, appoint at least one lifeguard.  Be smart around water.

Your child’s life depends on it.

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