Tuesday, November 24, 2009

It was positively CornMaizing....

I've lived here in Louisiana for a little over 7 years now.  In all that time, although I've been invited and heard it mentioned every year about this time, I had never made it out to the Hickory Corn Maze.  I can now not only check that off my list, but also check off conquering my fear of evil eyed children coming out of the rows of corn in order to kill me with sickles (thank you Children of the Corn).

I don't know that I was actually invited along this time.  Hannah was for sure invited, I think I then invited myself when I heard that my friend was insane enough to not only let my daughter come but also allow each of her other two children have a friend thus making the ratio 6 to 1.  Thus putting my friend at horrendous odds.  She obliged whether it be for the company or for safety reasons.

We made the ride out to the maze and along the way realized that we better stop to get flashlights lest we lead 6 kids (two of which are 5 yr olds) into a dark cornfield.  Sadly this thought didn't occur to us while we were at home and could take the flashlights that we own and would cost us NOTHING.  Nope.  We were two complete and total jackasses and made it almost 1/2 way there before making this stunning realization...it was almost 5p, it gets dark around 5:15p...we will be traipsing through a darkened maze....nah, we don't need lights!

We pulled into a Dollar General and made a beeline (after getting mumbled directions) to the "hardwares section".  Section, to me, would denote that this was an area...in reality it was maybe half an aisle long.  There sat our gleaming torches for just $1 a piece.  We snagged 4 for the group then headed to the front to grab batteries. 

My friend may have rationalized that we needed these flashlights for "safety" reasons like tripping or falling, but me?  I saw things in a different light, per say.  Maybe no one else cared about being in the dark and spooky cornfield but I know for a fact that I had to fight the urge to buy 5 flashlights, just for myself, and a role of duct tape.  NO the duct tape was not for the childrens mouths although in retrospect that would have been an amazing idea for the 5yr olds...it would have been to secure 3 of the 5 flashlights to the following areas, one on each foot and one to my head like those coal miner hard hats.  Then of course the other two would have been for my hands.  Did I mention my huge slight phobia of corn fields and the demonic children, particularly the one named Malchiah from Children of the Corn?  Did I??  DID I???

But I put on my big girl panties and only bought my alotted two.

Deep breath.   Ahhhhhh.......

I may have taken my calming breath too soon because when we made it to the front of the shoe box sized store we found that although there were two able bodied individuals up front with two cash registers, there was only one woman working.  When I turned to look at my friend I noticed that although we were third in line we weren't last.  The line was stretching down the stationery section aisle and people were looking pissed!

At that very instant I felt that being in the car with 6 moody kids was better than being in here.  My friend and I just kept exchanging glances with one another and I kept looking outside to see if A) any of the kids had jumped ship from the SUV left idling in the parking lot or B) was it rocking back and forth to the point that we may need to worry that someone was being attacked by one of the other occupants of the vehicle. No one jumped out or was maimed in our absence although I cannot be sure as to how the clerks in the store fared once we had purchased our items and left the remaining long line of customers. 

A good 20 minutes later we were making our way back out to the parking lot.  We made a mental note that we would allow one flashlight per pairing.  One for the moms, one for the 5yr olds (which was sure to start an argument), one for the teenagers and finally one for the middle kids.    We made sure that the flashlights were all the same color for the kids to prevent blood shed.  Our flashlight was a different color and would have gone completely unnoticed as such if we had been just a tad bit quicker when installing the batteries.  As we tried to get the flashlights ready I revisted the idea of the duct tape when the 5 yr olds became obsessed with the idea of holding the flashlights and kept asking over and over and OVER to "just hold em, not use em...just hold em".

Another 10 minutes of driving and we were at the corn field.  We made our way down the winding  driveway and into a clearing with the cornfield set back a ways.  There was no one there and no lights.  What the hell??  It looked closed.  Immediately the kids started asking if they could get out.  My friend and I just stared blankly at one another.  Again...what the hell??  I picked up my Crackberry and quickly found the website for the corn maze.  Right on the first page of the website it listed the dates and the times.  Only one problem.  The thing opened at 6p and it was currently 5:07p.  We would either need to spend 53 grueling minutes (yeah...7 minutes less than an hour) in a vehicle with the kids -OR- attempt to come back another time before it was set to close for the season.

We weighed our options, with each ticking second which happened to feel like minutes but sadly were not.

The Pro's to staying....

1) We had already driven out here.
2) We had the flashlights.
3) The kids each had a friend with them.
4) This would really be the only time we could do it.

The Con's to staying...

1) Shit seriously making this list only ate up like 1.5 minutes...OMG, that means like another 51 1/2 more minutes of sitting in this vehicle with these kids???

We went with the pro's list and then after waiting in the car for another 20 minutes, let the kids out to tear up the place.  That bought us another 10 to 15 minutes and the final 15 minutes was spent telling them (mainly the 5yr olds) to stop running and slamming themselves into the ticketing building and the port-o-potty and each other and "for the love of God put down that stick before someone seriously gets hurt".

Mercifully 6p came and we bought our tickets.  We had already squashed the dreams of the tweens who had wanted to go through the maze unaided by saying "that we should all stay together it will go quicker".  Apparently the ticket taker didn't know this because one of her first questions after asking if this was our first time at the maze was to ask if we would like to go in separate groups to see who could make it through the fastest.  The tween girls bout came out of the their clothes thinking that this meant that they could go alone.  Thankfully we didn't have to be huge meanies because then she clarified that they would need to be accompanied by someone 16 yrs or older.  Luckily, we had two of those so after some quick deciding we chose to let the teens take the tweens and that left us sporting the little ones.

We all had to stand and listen to the rules of the corn maze before we could enter.  These are the ones that I can remember:

1) There is no screaming or trying to scare people while in the maze. (I liked this rule because I felt it would keep me safe from some jackleg trying to reenact Children of the Corn)

2) If you ever get lost or need help just call out "corn cop" and someone will come and assist you.

3) There is no use of fowl language used inside the corn maze, remember the corn have ears so they are always listening. (I'm not making this shit up...these were her EXACT words)

The teens with tweens in tow made their way into the maze first.  I had to keep myself from doing the happy dance because on the upside for me, 5yr olds tire quickly of holding things like flashlights thus allowing adults to carry them and therefore decreasing the chance of sickle carrying demon children from jumping out of the cornstalks to slay me.  Just a thought.

We made our way into the maze and I gotta be real honest within the first 30 seconds I thought to myself "what the fuck are you doing here this is downright creepy"...but then one of the little ones started talking about poop and I figured no scary movie I've ever seen has the mom dying while trying to dissuade a child from talking about bodily functions.  Figured I was safe so I relaxed and enjoyed the trek.  And oh what a trek it was.  We were so turned around that within 15 minutes of entering we were right back at the entrance.  The lady that took our tickets said that if you ever get to a point where you need help just call out "corn cop" and someone will come to help you.  I foolishly thought that these individuals would announce themselves.   Feeling completely overwhelmed and going in what we believed to be circles we called out for what we deemed to be our corn savior the almighty "corn cop".  That son of a bitch came out of no where through the corn and I am pretty sure I peed my pants a bit.

I told my friend that the next time we think about calling out for one of those fuckers I need to prepare my bladder.

We finally began to move and make our way to the different points on our map.  This years maze was  the phrase "We Stand Up For Freedom".  We began in the "M" of Freedom and began to get truly lost around what we believed to be on of the "E's" but were then corrected by the first "corn cop" who said we had made it to the "F".  By the time we made it to the half way point we'd been scared half to death by a shadowy "corn cop" who seemed to appear and reappear as if out of thin air.  I disaffectionately named this person Jedidiah because it sounded creepy just like him and we all agreed we didn't like him one bit.  We felt victorious that we had made it halfway through without any major incident of demonic sickle wielding children or accidents with the two boys we were coraling.  We purchased some drinks and momentarily contemplated leaving the maze but figured we made it half way, why not finish it.

About 10 minutes later we were cursing ourselves, albeit silently so as not to be thrown out of the maze.  The friend that my friends little boy had chosen to bring along as his companion for the outing began to describe in detail how he hadn't been feeling well earlier that day and was punctuating his story by farting every so often and burping in between that.  I don't know how I had gone from leader to caboose but this was the most unfortunate timing for the switch.  Another 20 minutes and we, well mostly me, had given up the silent cursing for actual audible commentary of our completely lost status.  We called out for a "corn cop" who told us we were close to be on the right track to finding our way out.

We bought what he was selling about how we were at a certain point on the map and this is how we should hold the map and blah, blah, blah another 15 minutes or so and should be out.  Then he went off to help a crying child that was part of another group and once again we were in the corn...lost...and frustrated.  We tried to figure out where we were on the map.  No dice.  The kids were getting tired.  Hell we were getting tired.  We called the teen and tween group and swore that we could hear their voices just a few rows over.  They were of no help to us.  The boys complained more of being tired and we continued to march them up this row and arrow that corner and "just down here" and "hey I think I see a light over there" and finally we had had it.  We began a somber "corn cop...oh, corn cop".  Then it began to sound desperate "corn cop...we need you...please, corn cop".  The boys even chimed in a time or two.

I then contemplated getting completely belligerent in an attempt at being escorted out of the maze, but decided that wouldn't be a good example for the boys.  But a few seconds later both my friend and I were feeling desperate and I told the boys that if the "flippin corn cop doesn't hurry up and get his butt out here  I am gonna make one or both of you cry so we could get some speedy help like that other crying child from earlier".  Amazing what the treat of child abuse can do for you...we had a corn cop on us like white on rice.

He asked, ever so politely, if we would like him to show us where we were on the map so we could finish alone.  We emphatically and in unison answered NO we just wanted to get out.  I have to admit the poor guy was super nice and even took us to some of the few last clues on our map and let the boys do them.  One was saying your ABC's while alternating your arms in an up and down position with every other letter.  For instance you started with your hands in the air for A then down for B and so on.  Wherever you landed determined whether you went left of right.  The boys started out in sync and then lost it around F which made me laugh and make a joke about "this is what we get for sending them to public school" to which our guide said he was homes schooled.  Way to bring on the creepy Children of the Corn feeling dude!

Another 10 minutes and we were free of the corn.  The boys were ecstatic, but I think we were happier.  We waited for a few minutes for the other kids but then we saw them coming from the car and realized they had finished WAY before us.  As we loaded up the kids we commented on how much fun this turned out to be and as we made our way back out onto the road and on our way home we looked back to catch some of the kids sleeping in the back seat clutching the corn they had gotten as a souvenir. 

Not every night that you choose to have 6 kids can turn out so well, but we had to admit it was pretty fun.  The best part was that after traipsing them here, there and everywhere through a cornfield for 2 hours they would sleep like logs and truly that is the most precious thing of all.

I slept pretty good myself and I didn't have one nightmare of a sickle wielding demon child although I couldn't seem to get the smell of the one little one's farts from my nostril.  Kids...they are just plain cornmaizing!


Monday, November 16, 2009

Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it could be what saves a marriage....

Jon and I went on a date on Saturday.  Shouldn't be like a huge announcement I know...but for me it is. 

Marriage, relationship....hell, life hasn't been going all that happily for me or for Jon, so a date was a miraculous occasion. 

It wasn't extravagant, it wasn't even overly romantic...but it was enough to give thought as to whether there is still something to work with. 

In the win column went the fact that we were at a steak restaurant and I didn't once think about stabbing him in the jugular, hand or even male appendage with the knife that sat in front of me for the entire meal.  Also in the win column was the fact that although the conversation did slip towards the angry unsaid stuff that had been building up from our last argument it went back to the easy casual conversing of people who still very much love one another.

Jon took it upon himself to utilize some of the techniques that he had picked up from a program that he purchased in order to assist him in our marital discord.  He was asking questions to try anything to start communication between the two of us.  He would ask, I would talk and he would listen.  Then it just felt natural for me to ask him something and let him talk while I listened.  The listening part is a little hard for me since I seem to feel the need to interrupt.  That's just a little something...okay a big something that I need to work on.

Instead of going to a movie after dinner we opted to go to a local bar and have a drink while sitting outside on the back patio away from everyone and just talking.  I wasn't willing to let go of the conversation that had started at dinner and while I would have loved to see a movie, my priority right now is to keep the line of dialogue open.  We sat for almost an hour just laughing and talking.  It seemed natural and easy like it's supposed to be.

In the loss column, which wasn't anyone's fault except for possibly cold and flu season was the fact that we needed to cut the night short because A) he was having pain just talking from a sore throat and then B) he started hacking.  Yep, that's a mood killer. 

We called it a night and haven't had an argument.  I guess there are still some things left to be curious about in our relationship and that may just be what we need to work our way back to a new start.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Here's a little story about a fancy party dress....

Never underestimate the changing fads of teenagers.  Just when you think you may have mastered what it is that they like or possibly, foolishly, think you may have stumbled upon something that they may...do I dare say it...love...you will undoubtedly be making the drive of shame back to the store...broken hearted dress in hand from whence you purchased it.

See when you saw it there hanging ever so lovely upon it's silver rack you pictured your daughters adoring face staring back at you proclaiming how you "are the best mother ever" and "how did you know that this is the EXACT  color and type of dress that I was wishing dreaming for".  This is the trickery of motherhood.

So now just a few weeks past homecoming I accompanied my friends for that dreaded drive of shame.  Of course we had to pull back the bag and admire the dress once more.  First glances were for admiration.  Second glances were to make sure the tag was still affixed and that there had been no harm to the garment that while we loved still needed to be in pristeen condition in order to return. 

The bitchy blessed teen swore that it wasn't worn other than to be tried on.  We had born witness that the dress that was purchased by the mom was not the chosen one and was not worn to the dance, but still how can we predict what kind of diva dancin around with a brush in hand may or may not have taken place on late nights in her room as the dress SHOULD have been hanging in it's protective plastic bag cocoon.  We did the once over, head to toe checks for any damage and came up with the all clear sign.

We made the drive across the lake talking all the while about how it was so pretty and how wonderful it would have been.  Once we arrived the mom that had originally purchased it was terrified to go in and return it given the time that had gone by.  I didn't understand her hesitation and nor did my other friend, but being the team players that we are we took her card, the dress and the receipt in for the return.

As we made our way to the formal department we began to feel a little uneasy as if we would be sent to the department store jail for trying to return a dress.  Before we could really think too much about it we were front and center at the dress counter.  The sales girl was polite and asked if we had the receipt.  We handed it over.  She pulled the dress out of the bag and began to locate both the tags that needed to be affixed in order to return a garment.

It was at that precise moment that my eyes fell upon a small stain that I hadn't noticed when we were back at the house.  I didn't dare look to the left of me at my other friend who was doing the bulk of the talking.  Another sales person walked up and bent down to grab something from underneath the counter.  Out of the very corner of my eye I could see that my girlfriend was getting a little antsy.  I was still VERY unwilling to look over at her. 

As I began to get jittery the transaction was done and we were on our way.  As we made our way to the exit of the  store I could barely contain myself and said, "oh my God did you see that stain"?

Her eyes got as big as quarters and said, "the stain....my God did you see the rip"?

We double stepped it out of the store in hopes of not being dragged back in and thrown in the mall jail.  Just another Wednesday in the land of parents with teenage daughters.  It's glamorous and oh so exciting!


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Not by the hair on my double chiney chin chin...

Okay...now mother nature is just being fucking cruel.  Is it not enough that I am dealing with the ever present possible demise of my marriage?  But now I have to be reminded of my ever present age.  That is just TOO DAMN CRUEL!  So, I tried to go to sleep but of course insomnia was just too much of a bitch to let that one slip by her.  I laid there for a good hour before I finally gave up and retreated to the couch to take in "Dancing With the Stars" via DVR.  I stepped into the bathroom to piddle one more time before retreating to the couch because alas two kids and multiple surgeries in my Southern nether regions has put a tax on my bladder and THEN....there is where it became ever present that my double chin was NOT alone.

At first I thought "damn, not another zit" seriously I'm in my 30's people when will puberty end?  Must I really give into the ads for the Pro-Active face wash that Jessica Simpson is pushing at 2 o'clock in the morning.  But upon further inspection I found the actual culprit for the raised bump on my chin was the EVIL chin hair.  Must we really be dealing with this RIGHT NOW!?!  Really RIGHT NOW?!?  My marriage is hanging by a thin, thin....did I mention THIN thread.  Yep...I put it out there and still the chin hair is there.  Right there.  Front and center.  Life is so frickin cruel like that. 

Thank you Mother Nature for reminding me that while I think I have found the true reason to focus my attention on you have found your own cruel way to focus my attention on very superficial yet yucky things.  GREAT...just when I had scoffed at waxing...now I've got to go work on my chin region.  Damn you Mother Nature....DAMN YOU TO HELL!!!!


Finding common ground....

I stayed up all night last night.  Big shocker.  I had spent the last several weeks pouring through web sites about marriage and repairing the damaged marriage, fixing the broken person...blah, blah, blah and I remembered last night that a friend of mine had given me a book a few years back called "The Five Love Languages: How to Express Hearfelt Commitment to Your Mate".  I became obsessed with finding that damn book.

First I thought I might use it to bludgeon Jon to death with but then I figured it might be more useful if I actually read it and then tried to utilize the tools that it may teach me.  Thank God it wasn't in the garage or attic or in a box that was still packed from when we moved into this house just a mere...ummm...cough...ergh, 5 years ago.   But this post isn't about my inability to unpack boxes, fear of garages or attics in the middle of the night or even my fantasies of beating Jon to a pulp with great works of self help books...it's about this book and how I HAD TO FIND IT.

Priorities people...priorities!

Once I found it....conveniently located on a bookshelf, who'd of thunk...I then became obsessed with reading it.


In one night.

I have an addictive personality...once I set my mind on something...it becomes a friggin obsession!

It was as if the expanse of the past three years of fighting and silent treatments, ultimatums, asking him to leave, letting him come back and then me leaving and the final action of taking off my wedding band and telling him "I'm done" was boiled down into to what the hell I was gonna do in the span of time that it would take me to read all 175 pages.

I'm a fast reader and I literally read this book until I could no longer hold up my head or hold open my eyes.  I fell asleep reading it then woke up and finished it.  While I slept though was when I received a message from Jon who had taken it upon himself ,without talking to me, to find his own guidance in the midst of our seperation.

We have spent a great deal of time standing on separate sides of what should be one unified relationship.  Being pig headed and stubborn has not served us well and we've both held on to the "I'm right and you're wrong", mentality so long that I don't event think we care to explain what it is that we think we may be right about.  After three years of battling you gain a great sense of entitlement to your feelings. 

After three years of battling you also get a lot of looks from the other people that have lived in the house with you through that period of time.  I'm pretty sure if we allowed the girls to use curse words, they would have some colorful choice ones for us.  I'm also pretty sure that is why the dogs piss and shit near our belongings.  It's their way of saying..."dude, either work it out or split up...this shit is annoying".

Tonight was different though.

While we have gotten good at silence and catty glances, making mountains out of the proverbial mole hills and hitting below the belt with words, tonight we simply chose to compliment one another.  It was a suggestion in the book that I had ravenously consumed and thought about bringing up to Jon but then felt like I shouldn't have to because...again...I feel that I am right in my feelings of how the past few years have gone and that would make him wrong.  I'm pretty sure it is becoming abundantly clear as to why there is no resolution to our problems.  I seriously think I may make a shirt that says "I'm right.  You're Wrong.  What's the problem again?"

So while sitting in that self entitled mindset I was shocked when he sent me a text asking if I had read the email he had forwarded me earlier about the things he was reading in order to help him better understand where he and we had gone so wrong in our marriage.  I responded that I had and I tried very hard to keep the sarcasm out of it.  Again that little voice of entitlemnt was rising up and trying to bang on the keys of my Crackberry.  I fought if off though and remained both civil and intrigued that he was making a first move.

It was a cautious feeling of intrigue though.  I mean come one, I may be on a euphoric high from the book but I'm not stupid, we've been down the heartfelt rosey posey road of make believe before.  It got us a $10,000 bill for therapy and here we were no better for the experience.  But I was good and told him that I had.  He asked if I had read the part about making the list of 3 good things about your spouse/partner.  He told me that I would need to write them down and we would share them when we saw each other later.  I said that I had written them down, I didn't bother to divuldge that this was along the same lines as what I had read in my book and had actually mentally completed the night before.  Fixing this marriage is not about what came first the book or the text.  It was about both of us trying.

I feel like I've been the only one plowing through the trenches for the past few years so for the first time in a REALLY long time I was struck by his initiative.  You gotta know this, therapy...was my idea.  Seperation...my idea.  Reconciliation...my idea.  Seperation again...my idea.  I'm thinking you are getting the picture.

With the therapy it was an ultimatum put to him when he had made what I deemed to be the biggest mistake to have happened in our marriage at that particular point in time.  My husband, in all his infinite wisdom, had chosen another woman's feelings over my own.  I'm not talking his mother or his sister.  Nope I am just talking about an old friend.

Yep, that man I love so dearly and had created a life with and was busy raising two children with had stood in our driveway and with my pleading eyes upon him had chosen her over me.  When all was said and done, I knew something in him had changed that day and with all that I could muster I told him it was counseling or he could pack his stuff....he chose therapy.

Now looking back and knowing some of the other things that transpired to keep him coming back to sessions week after week, sometimes twice a week, it is no surprise to me why the years worth of marital counseling did nothing more than to fatten our therapist bank account and keep us emotionally bankrupt.  Another factor for me at least has been watching the systematic demise of some of my friends marriages.  It's hard to remain upbeat about your own future when those around you that you care about are hurting.  Watching their struggles amplified my own and thus created this feeling of just wanting to break free of all of it.  It was getting to the point of suffocation because all around us there was seperation, infidelity, mistrust and discord.  

I don't in any way blame our failures on those around us, but when you are struggling to bail yourselves out of a precarious situation it helps to have some solid ground around you...for us there wasn't anything like that close by.  We were forced to rely on each other and THAT was a huge problem because I no longer trusted him and I was pretty sure he felt the same way about me.

Now that we've come to the point of sink or swim, we've decided that it's every marriage for themselves and we cannot rely on what is around us in order to decide if we will fail or succeed.  I think, for myself at least, that realization made his gesture so powerful. 

Could the feelings of goodwill die tomorrow?  Absolutely.

Will the road to our security and a strong marriage be rough?  Absofuckinlutely.

But do I think it's possible to come back from the abyss of "I'm done" and possibly find more than just this tiny sliver of common ground?  I have hope that it is and that is far more than I had within me when I went searching for that book.

I'll take my common ground.  I am thankful for it and I look forward to what may come as I take ever so tiny and well thought out baby steps towards something better than where I am right now.


Monday, November 9, 2009

The problem with truth telling....

Before I ever thought of having kids or becoming a mother I had what I thought was a VERY wonderful idea about raising my imaginary offspring.  I told myself that I would never lie about the important stuff.  I'd never tell them that loved ones or pets don't die.  I wouldn't lead them to believe that shots won't hurt and I'd never tell them that they'd always be happy and never have their heart broken.

Simple right?  Wrong. 

The easiest of my "promise" seemed to be the shots.  From the time they were babies I'd tell them these words before shots, "big stick, bee sting, cuddles and then a prize".  It served me well for the most part.  The only time it truly backfired on me was when the girls needed to get their shots up to date for school here in Louisiana.  I inadvertently mixed up who needed what shots when I was preparing them with the whole "big stick, bee sting...." yada yada yada.  I had told Olivia she would be getting one shot and that Hannah needed three.

Olivia, while she was not overly joyed about needing any was completely over the moon with the idea of torturing her baby sister who'd have to be stuck not once, not twice but three whole times.  "That's two more than meeee"...she sing songed all through our wait time.  She'd reach over and pinch her baby sister which would send Hannah to wailing and then Olivia would say..."oh come on...that's just one stick...imagine three of those back to back", and so on and so forth.

There was two things that Olivia didn't count on and they were karma and my ability to keep the kids shot records straight.  When Olivia galantly led her little sister to the slaughter...ergh, I mean chair, she all but passed out when the nurse stuck Hannah once then released her from the seat and handed her a lolly proclaiming that she had been a "very big girl" and that she was "all done".  Those two phrases and the fact that Hannah knew the difference between her getting three and her only getting one.  She'd done the quick math and trained her eyes on her sister.  Olivia chose that exact moment to turn into a psychotic animal who first tried to run out of the building but was strong armed by Jon and then as she wailed like a banshee she attempted to hold onto the door while bracing her feet against the frame.

Yeah, my honesty about shots wasn't going too well on this occasion.  All Jon and I could do after they were finally able to immunize her,  was to walk out shaking our heads and apologizing to every one we came in contact with in the building.  I do believe we apologized to a janitor that day and to be honest with the way our kid was screaming I think he appreciated it.

My first go around with using honesty in regards to death of a loved one was when my grandmother died and my oldest was on a Girl Scout camping trip.  It's not that Olivia hadn't dealt with death before, on the contrary actually...the poor kid had her 7th birthday postponed because my grandfather, her great grandfather, bit the proverbial dust.  Nothing like blowing out the candle on your one piece of restaurant cake while the entire family is gathered sniveling and trading stories of the dearly departed at an elongated table of a bar & grill that just happened to be conveniently located next to the funeral home.    Well that and the fact that she was actually at the nursing home visiting him with my parents when he died.  Yep, that's definitely one for the scrapbook!

While I rushed to Florida to console my mother and help with the funeral arrangements, poor Jon had to make up some kind of song and dance about where I was when she returned from camp so as to allow us both to be there to break the news to her.  From that experience I learned never to wait 5 days until I am in the same state to break news of that magnitude.  While she was upset about her great grandmothers passing she was more upset that she was not notified immediately.  Jon and I learned that Olivia was not one of those kids that dealt well with being the last to know anything.  Hell, if we run out of toilet paper you better go notify her first or else there will be an issue.  That's just her thing.  She likes to be in the loop.

On the other end of the spectrum is Hannah.  When my first min pin Aden passed away suddenly over the summer while the girls were away we made a point to tell them both.  Fearing a repeat of great grandma and the wrath of Olivia not being notified we figured that honesty when the event took place was the best policy.  With Olivia that was fine.  She took the news, was saddened and moved on.  Hannah on the other hand who had been too young to really comprehend the news of her great grandmother's death, when it occured, was a bit trickier.  She had a meltdown of unworldly proportions and we were almost deemed horrible parents for breaking the news while she was close to 600 miles away.

When we were plagued by a second pet's death less than a month later Olivia was back at home and unfortunately along with us had to bear witness to the little guy drawing his last breath.  She was heartbroken as were Jon and I but seemed to process it and deal with it fairly well considering it was her dog.  We didn't tell Hannah this time and instead saved the news for when Jon could be there with her.  She was upset, but took the news far better because she had Jon there to hold on to.

So with death and shots my plan of honesty has been doing pretty good with preparing the girls with the realities of life.  When it comes to heartbreak though, I've had a bit harder time sticking to my rule.

As the minutes and hours have turned  into days, weeks and now months of Jon and I grappling with the state of our marriage, one of the things that has weighed heavily upon my mind and heart has been my kids.  What to tell them and when.  Olivia being older and of the mentality of tell it to me now and let me process it myself I chose to be a bit more forthcoming with her.  Hannah being the baby and the one that would rather not know something until it's actual, factual and has already taken place has been pretty much left in the dark although I know she's not blind or deaf to the amount of tension and arguing that goes on between her father and I. 

Tonight though I was backed into a corner while we sat at Sonic to pick up something to eat.  Hannha had just returned from a weekend soccer tournament with Jon and I was taking her for ice cream.  While we waited for our food she began to ask questions.  I figured they would come seeing as Jon and I had a rather loud verbal exhange within minutes of him coming in the door.  It's sad that after 30+ hours apart we couldn't make it a full 30 seconds without launching into a disagreement.

The questions came quietly and timidly from the backseat.

Hannah:  Mom, are you and Dad angry at each other?

Me: (don't lie, don't lie, don't lie) Yes.

Hannah:  How is that even possible...you like, just saw each other?

Me:  (don't lie, don't get defensive, don't lie) Well Hannah ya know how sometimes you and your friends don't get along...even when you haven't seen each other in a day or two?

Hannah:  Um, yea....

Me:  (don't get defensive, be honest, don't snap at her) Well, me and your dad are like that right now...we aren't getting along....

Silence falls uncomfortably in the car and then the food comes.  I contemplate just letting the discussion go but as I look into the rearview mirror I can see tears in the corners of her eyes and I know there is more she wants to say.  Part of me wants to scream at her to just stop it and let it go, but then I have to remember that she is only 10yrs old and this very much affects her life.  Be honest, I keep reminding myself.  Be honest in 10yr old terms...don't lie.

I remember back to when I was younger, after my sister had been killed and my parents would argue so much that I thought they would never get along again, I take a deep breath focus on that feeling as probably the one that she is having at this very moment and hope for the best.

Me:  Hannah, if you have something on your mind that you want to ask me or talk about you should just put it out there.  No matter what it is, I will answer you honestly and I won't be angry...I promise.

Hannah:  (hesitant but looking very determined) Are you and Dad gonna split up?

Me:  I don't know Hannah and that's the truth.

Hannah:  Ok.  But....ummmm.....but.....

Me:  Hannah whatever it is just ask me.

Hannah:  Do you still love him?

Me:  Very much.

Hannah:  Does he love you?

Me:  Yes.

Hannah:  I don't get it.  If he loves you and you love him then why do you fight ALL of the time.

Me:  Because sometimes people that love one another have things that take place that make them so angry that it becomes difficult to just be happy loving the other person.  You want to know that the person you love is being honest with you and if you think that they aren't or know that they aren't it tends to make it very difficult to just be happy being in love.

Hannah:  Oh.  Well, hmmmm.....do you think you guys could, ya know...just work it out or something cause I'm tired of listening to you not get along and I'm sure Olivia is tired of it and well....yeah....you guys should just work it out.

I sat quiet for a really long time.  Hannah didn't even seem to notice because she was over the moon for her Oreo ice cream blast.  Then she spoke again.

Hannah:  Mom?

Me:  Yeah Han.

Hannah:  I'm sorry I asked about you and dad.

Me:  Hannah, don't apologize.  You have a right to know what is going on to a point.  I know that these things affect your life.

Hannah:  I know.  But the reason I said that I was sorry was because you looked really happy before I asked you.  Like...just sitting here you and me...you looked happy. 

Me:  Well I am happy just sitting here you and me (I let my face break into a goofy smile to get her to laugh).

Hannah:  (she chuckels at my face and then turns serious again) I know....but I think you were happy because dad wasn't here.

Me: (unable to speak)

Hannah:  It was nice to see you happy for once.

Silence became all consuming and the only thing I could hear was her scraping ice cream out of her cup and the wheels of the skating car hops.

See, that's the trouble with truth telling...it brings with it a whole new line of questions.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lowering expectations in an attempt to lessen dissappointment...

Ok.  I've decided I need to make a new plan.  The old plan which has been revised a million few times over the past 3+ years ISN'T WORKING!  I had formulated this plan when I found out that Jon had basically sold our marriage down the river in an attempt to prove a point about how...oh, fuck...I have no idea what the hell he was trying to do but lets just say we went from happily married to spending close to $10,000 in therapy.  You figure out what that means.  Oh, and when you do...please email me.

Anyways, I am DEFINITELY almost pretty sure that the reason the original plan didn't work is because of user error and not a fault in the actual plan.  I mean seriously...how could a plan that started out with the words "hibernate for 7 straight days living off of only Hagaan Daaz and peanut butter toast"....possibly have turned out so poorly? 

I swear, please remind me never to write a mission statement because CLEARLY I am not able to inspire anything more than a 3 year downslide of emotions, confidence and the ability to actually tell the difference between the top and bottom half of my body.  Seriously people...I SWEAR I had a waist.  It was just here, like....okay...so it's been awhile but I have pictures...it did exist!

I went and took a walk tonight at the park and seriously contemplated jumping over the safety railing and into the bayou.  But if it didn't result in serious bodily harm by being eaten by ravenous crocs that were just waiting for a fatty to hurl herself over the rail...all I'd have to show for my failed attempt to "end the madness" would be a short swim in freezing water followed by a walk of shame and possibly pneumonia and or flesh eating bacteria.

And thus the cycle of mediocrity would continue. 

So instead of taking the deep six I decided to bring it on home, sipping a chai and lay here in my comfy bed contemplating the meaning of my life.  I had just about resigned myself to the idea that I would make it to sleep before midnight when my hacking teenager comes strolling in talking so loud that our next door neighbors could have heard her conversation clear as a bell.  It pissed me off to no end.  Not only did my "plan" become an epic failure now my children have decided that they no longer need rules and can come and go in the house as they please, making their own bedtimes and having no regard for the fact that people have jobs that they need to get a goodnight's sleep in order to be at peak performance.  I mean, I am totally NOT talking about me because once again I fall into the unemployed and complete failure category.  But there is still Jon for us to hang our families hopes and financial dreams on.

Do you see why maybe I should REVISE the original plan to oh, I don't know...start with the words "be gainfully employed individual who sets and enforces rules and boundaries"??

But even that line seems as though I am aiming to high.  Maybe I should focus on keeping my expectations low therefore ensuring that the possibility of dissappointment is less likely.  Instead of stating that I will go to the gym 5 days a week, I should instead say that I will make a definite effort to walk to my mailbox to retrieve the mail.  Lower expectation...better chance of success. 

I think I will sleep on this and see what other winning suggestions I can come up with.  It's a lot of pressure...I hope I don't crack.


Monday, November 2, 2009

Maybe it's time to rewrite the traditional fairytale.....

Once upon a time.....isn't that how they always suck you in?

Well this ain't no fairytale.  That's for damn sure.

Back when I was younger the only thing that I seemed to want was to be part of a two some.  A couple.  I probably should have been a twin.  That fact would have more than likely resulted in my mother going crazy faster than she actually has.

It seemed from birth I was just one of those individuals that flourished in an environment where I could be with someone else.  My mom probably fostered this by allowing me to sleep in her bed until I was a toddler.  Then while she was a single parent we almost always shared a room.  That continued until I was 11 years old and she married my step-dad.  I had my own room for a whole 7 months.  Then came my first sister and then my second sister a mere 15 months later.  I shared a room with them until I visualized smothering them both in my sleep.  My parents realized teenage-dom was upon them and I evicted myself from the co-op bedroom and out to my own space.  Sadly it was the front porch.  I mean what can you expect when you are living in a 2 bedroom house with 5 people, 2 of which are a screaming baby and toddler respectively. 

The "porch" as it was named was actually the standard Florida "sun room".  So it was completely enclosed.  The stupid part of my move was the fact that my room was the first thing that people saw and had to walk through when they came to my parents house.  Let's just say I had the cleanest teenagers room EVER!

It was also one way to insure that your teenage daughter doesn't do anything inappropriate with any boys in her bedroom.  There are times that I wish we had this same arrangement now that I have older daughters.  But then I take a stroll into their rooms and realize that if we did have that set up we could never have anyone over.  They'd never make it through the sea of crap in order to make it into the rest of the house for a visit.

But enough about my bedroom from age 12 to 14 years of age.  After the death of my sister Alicia I would go and lay in bed with my baby sister Nicolle in order to soothe her.  From the day she was born she had shared a room with both me and Alicia and then just Alicia and now she was alone.  So I'd lay with her.  Then just a few short years later I had a little one of my own to occupy my bed. 

It wasn't just sleeping either.  It was life in general.  I don't think I was ever meant to be a singleton.  At a young age I befriended a neighbor and we became the best of friends.  From the age of 3 up until 16, I don't think there is one good memory of my life that doesn't include her.  We were like two peas in a pod and I liked it just fine. 

After friendships came dating.  I always seemed to be happier when I was part of a couple.  I'm beginning to see that there is a pattern of confidence issues.  So now 12 years into the longest pairing I've had since the birth of my first child I am lost in the fact that we are taught young that every fairytale is all roses and fairies and pumpkins turning into carriages.  Outside of the mother's being audibly missing out of almost EVERY Disney story for as long as I can remember just about ever story of falling love has no mention of depression, finances, liars and heartbreak. Yeah they may start out realistic with the orphans and the working in your own home for your evil step-mother but then you are whisked away and have rodents to do your housework.  That's a step up in my books.  Not reality and yet we eat it up and ask for seconds.

Now I sit pondering the last few years of my life and as I think about the ever changing dimensions of my coupledom I wonder if my inability to stand on my own two feet and worry about what I want and what I need has possibly left me contemplating how a lifetime of being part of a two some has made it next to impossible for me to think of just myself.  Alone. 

As a mother I can never truly be alone.  Hell just trying to pee is a friggin affair.  If I don't announce it I will undoubtedly have a knock, a random walk in or an all out search and rescue mounted if I don't answer when yelled to from another room.  I'm in the bathroom.  I'm taking a piss.  LEAVE ME ALONE!  Sadly I feel I should mention that my kids are 15 and 10.  They are walking, talking, thinking, able to make toast and not burn down the house, wipe their own ass, tie their own shoes and probably do more on a computer than I ever care to know how to do...individuals.  But the second a drop of my piss hits the toilet water....they become so unbelievably needy.  It's a curse of motherhood throughout the world.  No matter what their age....from infants to adults....you go to cop a squat and they are on you like white on rice!

Every decision that I have made since my children's conception has been with them in mind.  Whether it be at the forefront or in the back of my mind, I try to keep them ever present in everything I choose to do.  Sometimes I wonder if never taking a step back and making a choice solely based on what I would like, enjoy, want or so forth has been the best mode of thinking.  Then add in the partnership of marriage and suddenly I find myself farther down the pole of priorties. 

Even when I try to make what I deem to be a semi-selfish decision I find myself second guessing it and wondering how it will affect the ones I love most.  Never once thinking about how I should be loving myself which would in turn allow me to be a better _________ (fill in the blank with title) to __________ (fill in the blank with recipient).  Yet out of selfless decisions comes pretty selfish children and at times a selfish husband.  How I have managed this...I still am not sure.  I know that I cannot control Jon's mindset or behavior, but my kids... it is the age, for the most part, but sometimes you just wonder....if Mother Teresa would have had kids...would they have been selfless saints as well??  Hmmmmmm.......

Here was my attempt at doing something just for me tonight.  I left the house to go take a walk at a local park and then decided to stop for a some chai tea on the way back to the house to warm me up.  Now I am sitting here thinking there were probably at  least 10 other things that I could've/should've done in that 45 minutes and with the $5 that I just spent.   This line of thought then leads me to going out last night with a girlfriend of mine to VooDoo Fest.  I haven't been out like this since....hmmmm....April.  The tickets were free.  Parking was free.  And yet I feel like an ass for not including my family.

It's borderline ridiculous.  Where is the pill that turns off the "over caring about every little miniscule detail of every second of my day and what I am doing with it and how it may possibly be affecting those around me"? 

Where's the fairytale about the princess that falls madly in love with her prince and then he does something ridiculously stupid and leaves her in a depressive tail spin without any dwarf's or magic fairy godmother to snap her out of it??  Where's that story?

I think I shall write it.....right after I stop feeling guilty for sitting back here on my laptop and not being out in the living room with my kids who are glued to one or another multi media device.