Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Sharing children, a picture of me pouting

Last night I drove my babies to their mom so she could spend some time with them.  The plan was that she would keep them until Saturday, drive to my house, we would do Christmas on Christmas eve and she would drive home on Christmas. Driving on Christmas sucks, I know, but she had to work the day after Christmas and did not have a baby sitter. I was excited about having the kids for Christmas. I have had them for most of their childhood and for all of their Christmases. The same is true of their older sisters.

While we were switching out their car seats my sister told us, Ramona was with me, that she was not coming down for Christmas. She has to work the day after and cannot afford the drive now, because she spent all of her money on presents for the kids. This is not unusual. She has never been good at managing her money. She gets excited and goes shopping and then can not afford necessities. That is one of the reasons I have her kids so often. She has rarely been able to budget for daycare, but she can always afford cigarettes and beer.  I was hurt and angry when I heard this, but I just finished putting in the car seats, which is a job I hate, buckled the kids in, said my goodbyes and drove the 2.5 hours home.

My sister never intended for me to raise her children. She loves them and wants to raise them, she just struggles with the day to day parts of it. She is great at buying gifts, taking them to concerts, Disney on ice, taking pictures, all of the really fun parts of being a mother. It is in those in-between weeks, when kids just want to play outside, or have fun that she struggles. She spends too much time ruminating about her life, about how other people have wronged her to focus on the much more important time at hand. I cannot say I am not unhappy about this. Sure, I wish she would be healthier mentally and be happy, but I have loved the time with her kids.

Once she became pregnant she quit drinking. I am always proud of how quickly she just quits when she is pregnant; I have seen other addicts unable to do that.  Now that she has quit drinking she wants to get her life together and have the kids move back in with her. She kept them for six weeks this summer because Beezus went to stay with her and babysit. When Big Mac came home he was a little more clingy. I think he had felt a little abandoned by me. That is my biggest worry. Mac is all sunshine and smiles. He loves to take my hand and run through the yard. I worry that we are damaging him, by the long periods away from me, because he does think of my as his primary caregiver. Yesterday, he would not let Ramona put him in his car seat. She came in to and told me that he was afraid I was not going so he would not get in. I went out and buckled him, he gladly got in once he knew we were all going.  When I had buckled him in the second time, in his mom's car, he was fine until I said goodbye, then he started screaming. He was still screaming when I left. It broke my heart.

I realize that this is what many divorced families go through and that most kids do deal with it in time, but I hate it. That is one of the reasons I decided to stay married to the boys' father for so many years. I did not want to share holidays or have them leave me for weekends. Childhood is short and I wanted to be selfish with theirs. I really did love the time spent raising my boys, and maybe I am using this bonus time with Mac and Madds to relive it.

I started the drive hurt. I was crying. I could not believe she was being so insensitive to me. I felt that after all of the help I gave her it was a slap in the face to promise Christmas until I took her the kids, than to take it away without a thought. I felt like just quitting. I do not have to come running when she needs help. I could not answer my phone and let her work out raising children on her own. Then I progressed in my pity and wanted to run away from everybody and live as a hermit. That wiser part of me was listening to this and saying things like, 'you are just angry because you are hurt.' and 'how will this help Mac with dealing with this.' I also know that my sister does not hurt me on purpose. She is more considerate of my feelings, than she is of most peoples. She just does not have it in her to consider most peoples' feelings at all. By the last hour of the drive I was more reasonable. I know that I will continue to help raise these kids, because I love them. I will do it on their mom's terms because I have no legal rights. I also know it will turn out ok because I have been through this all before. The hurt, anger, tears, and resolving to do what is best for the kids, is all part of helping to raise other peoples children. It turned out well with Beezus and Ramona, it will be just fine this time. To be honest, I will take all the in-between days of playing, eating, hugging, and normal childhood days over the Holidays. Those in-between days are when childhood happens.

Friday, November 03, 2017

In the middle of a conversation my niece, Ramona, and I start to giggle. I had just said the sentence "Practice saying  'I don't like it when you act like a bully Grandma." The ridiculousness of the situation had suddenly struck us as funny. I was having to train the children to stick up their grandma, who just happens to be a bully.

Like any true bully she only picks on the people who will not stand up to her. Being strong willed and bossy Ramona and I are rarely bullied. She uses manipulation on us instead. Fria Chica and her son are compliant, so they are bullied often. Just the other day my mother stood in the Fria Chica's house and called her a piece of shit. She is in her thirties and raising two children, and still my mom treats her like she did as a child.

As an adult I have guilt that I did not stick up for my sister more when she was younger. She is nine years younger than me, so she was still a child when I was moving out. I do not think I realized how badly my mom talked to her until I was older. She talked to my older brother like that his whole life. When you are raised in the situation it can be hard to recognize until you get out and learn more about life.

My older brother had the same mental illness my mother does. I suspect that both of my parents had undiagnosed mental illnesses. In all six of their offspring, that lived to adulthood, I see traces of one or the other illnesses. I suspect my father was bipolar, and have no clue what my mom's would be classified as. I do not think she will ever admit there is anything wrong with her. When I was a child she would often say that every thing wrong with her children they got from their dad.  My older brother could be a bully to children at times. He and my mother spent a lot of time together as he got older but much of it was spent fighting.

She would insult him and treat him like he was stupid until he would explode. His explosions were childlike. He would tear up something he had created, give away his beloved possessions, get out of the car to walk home, no matter the weather or distance. It was tedious by the time he was in his forties.

 My mother can be equally tedious.  She has an air about her that lets you know she thinks she is smarter than everybody else. When with a group of girls that are talking about attractive men she will say, "I don't think he is that good looking, but I think I must have better taste than most people." She must forget I have seen the losers she dates. That was a hateful thing for me to say, but I do tend to get hateful inside when she is like this. Maybe that is why I find her tedious, she brings out the worst in me. She has better taste buds than everybody else too. That is why she can only drink filtered water. The thing is we grew up poor. Now she is retired and poor. I cannot figure out what in her life has given her this arrogance. It does not stem from her accomplishments; she seems to have been born with it. She still tells me how much better she is than her sisters and brothers.

I wanted my children to have a good relationship with their grandmother so I never talked to them about how she was. I just limited their time at her house so she would not get annoyed and insult them and invited her to my house instead so they could spend supervised time with her. They do all love their grandmother now that they are adults, but they have learned to limit their time with her themselves as well. Not because she bullies them, but because they too seem to find her best in small doses.

She did not bully them much as they grew up. Instead she tended to spoil them. I remember her saying something rude to Lee once when was under two, too young to remember, we were making the long car trip home from Oregon to Kansas and had stopped to get dinner. She said something, I can't remember what, to him and I snapped back, "He is not your kid." She never said anything like that to one of my boys again while I was there.  One day when Jason was about four he told me that Grandma had something rude to him while he was at her house. He wondered why she would say that. I talked with him about it and was quietly trying to decide how I was going to talk to his grandmother about this. I did not have to. The next day was Easter, and a beautiful day, so we had walked the park to play as a family.  On the way home Jason was in front of me walking with his grandmother and he asked her why she had been so rude to him. She was clearly flustered and as far as I know never talked to him like that again. As a matter of fact they got along really well. One day he jokingly told her to 'go to hell.' She told him he could not talk to his grandma that way. Later that night he called her, told her to 'go to hell', and hung up. A few days later she called and did the same to him. It became a running joke through all of his teenage years.

Every time I start to remember all the negative with my mom I realize that there was positive as well. The reason I had to try to think about how I was going to talk to her was because I am protective of her. She seems fragile to me. As if she needs this arrogance to survive. I do not remember when I started watching what I said to her to protect her feelings, but it was before I entered jr. high. She is a complex person, like most of us.

Friday, October 13, 2017

It is late, so I will make this short. I have promised myself I will start writing something everyday, even if it is just rambling about my life here. For the past few years I have been trying to learn to live the fullest life I can while walking around with a dark hole inside of me. For the most part I am doing better. This summer though I have started having a dense depression deep inside of me. It doesn't keep me from being happy and enjoying most days. It is just so heavy to carry around. I takes all of my energy. Not one of my summer projects were completed this year.

Last night I had an emotional breakdown and talked about my childhood, while crying, and drunk, with my boyfriend. This is something I rarely talk deeply about with anybody. Not because I don't like talking, but because there are so many better subjects to talk about. Today I decided to get a better grip on my mental health. Part of my self prescribed treatment is to start writing down my feelings about my childhood. So, even though this intended to be a fun blog when I started it is certainly slipping down the slope to cathartic.

The breakdown was triggered by watching the movie A Glass Castle. I had already read the book, and knew what I was in for, but did not expect it to cause me so much pain. I read the book before Jason died I don't think I realized how much more fragile I am now until last night. Tomorrow I will go into more details about my reaction to the movie. I need sleep.


*The new baby is a girl, due in March.

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Oh, and my sister is pregnant again. I like to think that she will decide to grow up and raise this one, but since she started the conversation with "I am sorry," I assume life will follow its course and I will be raising a new baby this time next year.

I am happy with Big Mac being the age he is. A new born is a lot of work and we are past that, or so I thought. I guess it does not matter how I feel about it, the baby is coming, I may as well get happy.

My last post was raw. I only noticed it in the re-reading, but it was. Now I feel I have had time to process my brother's death, but I have not accomplished what I need to. Who was he, my brother, I feel I need to answer that, but I dread the attention to detail it will take. My life is bogged down in the day to day problems of dentist appointments and dinner parties, this will be satisfying work, but it will be work.

Monday, May 22, 2017

I haven't talked about my brother much on this blog. I don't know why that is. He has been as much a part of my life as my sisters have been, but much less dramatically. Fria Chica had a new baby last month, a long story. My mom carried the baby to my brother's apartment, he lived next door to her, and found him dead. He was only 46, three years older than I am. What the fuck? We are too young for sudden death. I am racked with guilt for not spending more time with him. Sometimes I would not answer the door when he came over. I valued my time in solitude over talking to him, but I thought we had decades left in front of us. Going through his apartment I have found that he had a rich life all of his own. Not everything is about me.
My little guy is still living with me, he goes home to his mom periodically, but is usually to be found here making me smile. I do still live with the constant fear that something will take him away from me. I feel that I love him too much. When I used that phrase in front of his mother, Drama Queen, she laughed and told me I can't love somebody too much. She is right, but I still feel that way. He has been sick, a cough and runny nose, common childhood illness, but I lay in bed and worry about hantavirus.  He is sleeping well tonight and seems to be on the mend. Maybe soon I will have to find another reason to beat myself up.

That last sentence was a joke I have with myself. I portray my life as endless angst, but am generally a joyful person. Honestly the two live happily side by side in my soul. I planted my garden today. May 21st seems late to plant, but the weather has been crazy here. We had over 10 inches of snow earlier this month. I put my potted herbs outside today and am now listening to the wind beat them up. My little niece, Rapunzel, helped me plant today. She has been a bit of sunshine in my life. Some days I feel like I do not give her enough attention because I am busy with her little brother, so I have been trying to make sure we have one on one time everyday.  I really do love these little people.

Thursday, October 06, 2016

movies

So, I'll preface this emotional rant by saying that I had the most lovely night tonight. I went to the movies with a couple of friends to see Florence Foster Jenkins and thought it was on the best movie  I have seen in a while. I laughed, I cried, it moved me Bob.

But, while watching the previews, while drinking a Blue Moon with the obligatory orange slice,  the preview for Collateral Beauty came on. I'm sure this will be a good movie and I will like it, but tonight all I could think was "Fuck you." Don't send your personifications at me and tell me to move on. Don't tell me how beautiful life is, don't call it a gift, until you realize how soul shattering it is to lose a child. I'm sure be the end of the movie Will Smith's character will buckle to reason and get over it. I'll cheer for him and love him like the rest of the crowd, but as for myself I still say "Fuck You!"

Still, if you live near an independent theater which will serve you a beer to watch the movie with go spend your money there. It is worth it.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

New baby boy

So, what is new? Everything, nothing, for the most part my life stays the same, but there always seem to be new kids.

     My sister, Drama Queen had a baby boy in November. I was not stressed out when I heard she was pregnant again, like I was when she had her last baby girl. When I found out Drama Queen was pregnant with her I did not think we were in a good place to have a baby, but it turns out she fit right in.  This time it was easier because I love that little girl so much so, I was happy to have another baby. I went to stay with my sister when he was born and I fell in love with that little guy.
     He came to stay with me when he was two months old and other than the occasional week or two has been here every since. Then, quite suddenly, he has went home to his mom. Ramona and both of the little ones went home. Now, with just Beezus and I, my house seems amazingly quiet. I'm not sure to do with all of my time.

     What I did not expect was the amazingly high anxiety levels having a new baby have caused. I had them when his sister moved in at eight months, but Jason's death was still raw then so I thought I would be better. Before, I have always been extremely confident with babies, much like I was confident with life. I always just assumed everything would be fine. Now, I am sure something will go wrong, somebody will be hurt, I will allow the new baby to die. As he reaches ten months my nighttime anxiety has lessened a lot. I feel like I am sleeping better, but I have been in a serious funk for the last month.
     What works best for me is to meditate and spend time alone trying to find the root of my sadness. Finally it came to me that I simply love this little guy too much. I am living with the constant fear that something will happen to him. To counter act this fear I have been meditating on the idea that nothing is permanent, and that I can't let fear of the future keep me from enjoying every moment I have with him. It is helping; I am coming out of my funk.

#bragging moment: He is learning to walk and is so stinking cute.