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A Beginning and an End

Welcome to 2013!

Let’s not talk too much about 2012, m’kay?

It wasn’t all bad, but… I went through a couple of heart breaks. I dealt with stress at work.

However, I realized I’m pretty good at the mom thing.

But I also realized I don’t need this blog the way I did in 2011…it started to feel more like work for me…I’ve taken my writing to different places and am doing different things with it on a personal level. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to share it…but it’s personal on a level that writing about my angst isn’t.

I started this blog because I needed the therapy it provided. It’s seen me through divorce, personal strife, professional strife, parenting disasters and questions…and although, I know I still don’t have a clue what I’m doing most days, I don’t need the therapy it provides, anymore…and it’s hard for me to write without a purpose…just chronicling my day isn’t something I’m good at…

So, in 2013, I’m walking away…I debated shutting it down completely, but I know that life could throw me a curveball in an instant, and I may need the comfort of this space again…until that day, I’m still around…I’m living life, raising those darned Benjamin Boys, and doing my thing…

For those who had the patience to follow the insanity, I adore you all…

I’m looking forward to what 2013 brings…hopefully, it brings me NOTHING that I need to blog about…

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Of Two Minds

The sad state of affairs is that many (not all, thank God) single parents have to be both Mom and Dad to their children. I’m no exception, and I think I need more practice.

At times, I want to be the softer, indulgent Mom who says, “Oh, they’re so sweet, it will be ok. Come give me a hug.” But then I remember that I’m trying to raise them to be good men, so I have to become a hardass with them again.

I watched my mom and my YY with them over Thanksgiving and was simultaneously jealous and a little frustrated at how indulgent they could both be. I forget though that for me the antics and craziness of the boys is common and therefore annoying…but for family who don’t get to see them, it’s cute and playful, and “Aren’t they adorable?” No, actually, they aren’t. I’ve told them 10 times NOT to say “butt” at every opportunity. It ceased being cute about six weeks ago.

I’m not out trying to get re-married anytime soon…and the way my personal life has gone in the past few days, the odds of it happening are even slimmer than a week ago…but, there are some things that I hope I don’t have to do and that by the time we get to these milestones, I’ll have found them a father…and in some cases, any ole father will do – even their own…

Puberty – please don’t make me explain why there’s hair down there…please. And God help us all if I have to explain what happened to a boy in the middle of the night and why the sheets have to be changed.

Sex – my idea of dealing with this is to make sure they have a supply of condoms, because I refuse to raise grandchildren while my own children are still in high school. But at some point, a conversation is going to have to occur with regards to Tab A and Slot B. I really don’t want to be in the room for that one.

Driving – I didn’t get my license until I was 19…because I was just that bad. And I’m a cautious driver who, when nervous, drives like an old woman.

The proper way to treat girls/women – Ideally, they would see this done the right way, but my life doesn’t seem to want to cooperate right now, so someone’s going to have to explain it to them. I could do this, but don’t these lessons sink in more from a guy who can tell you what happens when you don’t?

While I’m not on the prowl or anything, I hope that a miracle occurs, and I’m not doing the single mom thing until they’re in their 20s – at which time, I shouldn’t be doing anymore raising of anyone.

Remembering What’s Important

It’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day, forgetting what matters most…intellectually, I know that my children and my family are what matters most…the people I love matter…but it’s easy to take that for granted – until you’re reminded…

This week, for the first time in my life, I feared for my children…I’ve been nervous before…I’ve been anxious, worried, stressed before…I’ve never feared for them…thankfully, they were ultimately fine, but I spent a nervous night wondering if I had made a horrible decision leaving them in the care of their now ex-babysitter…if you’re going to go all crazy on me, I’m going to assume you’ll do it with my children…if you’re going to make unreasonable demands of me, I’m going to assume that you’ll do that to my children…once I lose trust in you, there’s no way you can be around my children…that’s just how I roll…

It’s a long, dramatic story that ended up fine…for various reasons – Mom #2 being the main reason…I’m not sure what I would do without her sometimes…but, for the first time since I began travelling for work, I was ready to go home because I needed to hug my babies tight…I needed to feel their warm little bodies close to me…I needed to see for myself that they were fine…

Sunday, I came home and their excitement to see me was contagious…I bravely decided we would go out to dinner…just the three of us…we survived…sort of…Sean has a new habit of telling me he needs to use the potty, requiring that I take him to the bathroom, only to sit down and then say he’s “done” when he never did anything in the first place…thanks, dude…this immediately requires washing of hands, because, well, ew, gross! Aidan likes to make paper airplanes out of his place mat, but I get to be the one who threatens his life if he throws it…

The fun didn’t stop there…because I effectively fired my babysitter, I had no childcare on Monday – Veteran’s Day…schools were closed and so were daycares…we’re doing this wrong, I think…I worked from home…well, I struggled to concentrate on the task at hand while mini tornadoes tore through my house for about 8 hours, but let’s call it work…fun times…fun. times.

My eye started twitching around 3:00 p.m…I haven’t been so happy to go into the office in a long time…but despite all the insanity, the whining, the crying, the punching, the wrestling, the tearing apart of my clean house, I noticed a difference in myself…I signed up to attend Aidan’s Thanksgiving lunch at school…which means I’ll attend Sean’s (gotta be fair, you know)…Santa is coming to the mall this Saturday, and I asked the boys if they would like to go…by the way, a resounding, “YES!!!” on that one…

I’m so happy to be back with them (despite the twitch I’ve developed every time one of the boys says, “Tell me to fart!”) that I’m taking advantage of opportunities to spend time with them…if this had been a “normal” trip away, I would have dreaded coming home to the routine…I would have dreaded the return to their normal selves after the excitement of my return wore off…that didn’t happen this time…this time, I was forced to remember what’s important…I hate that I spent even one moment afraid for my children…but I’m happy that my perspective was forced to change a bit…

A Year Later…

A year ago today (my birthday, by the way), I started a new phase of my divorced, single mom life…we moved – new town, new home, new school…I can’t help but look back on the past year and marvel at how I’ve changed…

I’m better at the mom thing…by no means perfect, but better…

I can’t imagine living with another adult anymore…I’m used to my own space…not that I want to be single for the rest of my life, but I’m so used to being alone and doing (for the most part) what I want to do that it will be a big adjustment if that ever changes…

I’m more comfortable in my own skin…and growing more comfortable every day…

I know that I can handle whatever life throws at me…I still stress (a little)…and I’m a natural worrier but I’ve become less anxious…I don’t fret about the what-ifs…if something bad or crazy is going to happen, I have little say over it (assuming I’ve made good choices all along)…but I know that I can ride the wave of craziness and come out fine on the other side – maybe a little bruised and sore, but I know what I’m capable of…I know I can handle shit…and I know it’s ok to cry my eyes out while I’m taking care of things…

A year later, I got this!

Chatterbox

I know, I know, I suck…I’ve been silent for a couple of weeks (or longer)…I guess that’s what happens when life gets to a place that might be called “normal” – there’s nothing to bitch about…And while the boys are usually all I need for a little blogging fodder, they’ve been downright boring lately…well, until recently…

I don’t notice it until I’m alone with him, but Sean is a total chatterbox…yeah, ok, I hear the snickering from my family…it’s genetic…I know…his ramblings are cute and funny, but not so memorable that I can hold them in my brain long enough to blog about them later…

He chattered away today, but it made me sad…

“I miss my daddy…Mommy, did you know I miss my daddy?”

“I want to see my daddy…he’s in Georgia…can I stay with my daddy, Mommy?”

“My daddy tickled me and tickled me…and I laughed, Mommy…do you hear me laughing now, Mommy? Daddy tickled me, and I laughed.”

He hasn’t been around his father since August, so I can only imagine that was the last time The Ex tickled him…and my heart breaks, because Sean still has memories of his father, good ones…and they make him miss The Ex…

I received a text from The Ex today…”My phone is getting turned off tomorrow.”

I think that was his way of telling me that instead of talking to the boys once a week, they’ll get to hear from him once a NEVER…

In other news, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west…

Le sigh (that’s all the French I remember from high school, in case you were wondering)…

Regardless of the topic, I’ll let Sean chatter away…he’s always thinking (a little like his Mommy) and I never know what’s going to come out of him next…

So This Happened…

So this happened this weekend:

Yeah, I’m one lucky girl.  2012 Toyota Corolla, only 20 miles on her when I drove off the lot VERY late Saturday night…thank God for The Step or it never would have happened…I have an amazing family, and while I’m always thankful for them, I will be even more thankful each time I get behind the wheel…

For the first time since 2003, I have a brand new, never been owned, pretty AND reliable AND fits my personality car…and I shall name her Ginnie…no, not Ginny or Jenny…or Virginia or Jennifer or any of that…Ginnie…think of it what you will…that’s who she is…and I love her…

I bought her first accessory today:

 

Her first piece of jewelry – and a nice-smelling air freshener.  It sparked a teaching moment for Aidan…

Aidan: “I, um, looooove the new air freshener, Mom.”

Me: “You do?”

Aidan: “Well, I don’t want to hurt your feelings so yeah, I love it.”

Me: “You don’t have to love it.  And as long as you speak nicely, you can share any opinion you have with me.”

Aidan: “Oh? Ok…I hate the air freshener, but I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”

Me: “Why don’t you like it?”

Aidan: “It’s too girly! It has flowers and stuff. Oh, but there’s a spider up top. I like that!”

For the record, it’s not a spider, it’s a flower, but I didn’t tell Aidan that.

Lesson learned (hopefully) – be nice and respectful and feel free to give your real opinion…I hope that sticks…I’d rather he be different from me in that area…I’m always nice and respectful…but I white lie to protect feelings with the best of them…

Oh yeah, and this happened:

 

Sean’s birthday! It was actually Monday, but we celebrated on Saturday when Mama and The Step could be here. We were supposed to do presents and cake in the middle of the afternoon, but the car-shopping experience took the entire afternoon and evening. Birthday festivities were at 8:00 p.m. while we waited for pizza to arrive. The adults, who hadn’t eaten since breakfast (myself, I’d had a whopping 250 calories 12 hours prior) scarfed down cupcakes and then stood in the kitchen and ate pizza hovering over the sink, as if we were in college and had no home-training…

 

You had to know it was going to be Thomas the Tank Engine, right?! And that little mark down at the bottom? Aidan’s finger just couldn’t help itself, apparently…

Oh, and if all of THAT wasn’t enough, this happened, to:

 

That’s Aidan, at a Cub Scouts Shooting Sports Day program, learning about BB gun safety before he was allowed to go near the BB guns. I wish I had a picture of him attempting to shoot, but Mama and I wrangled Sean…and bought a Cub Scout uniform…and drank water like we were in the Sahara…

Aidan attempted to shoot the BB gun…and never hit the target…but that’s ok…he tried archery…and hit the target twice – when the adult leading the archery pulled his arm back for him…but that’s ok…he’s not a natural athlete – he’s my literary, sensitive, loves art and music child…Sean, I think he’s going to be a linebacker or something…

He had a great time, scarfed down his hot dog lunch in record time, and declared Cub Scouts, “Awesome!”

And yes, every bit of the above occurred on Saturday…and I’m still freaking exhausted…but I have Ginnie…and I’m happy…and I have one less thing to worry about…and life is good.

 

Happy Birthday Sean

Sean’s entire three years on this planet have been documented via Facebook and WordPress.  Go ahead, crown me Mother of the Year.  Within moments of his birth, his picture (which included me looking like I’d been drug outside, beaten, run through the mud, and put up wet) was on Facebook.


I hope you didn’t think I was exaggerating.

The polar opposite of his brother, Sean keeps me on my toes.  He looks at the world and comprehends more than I think a toddler should.  A prankster at heart, he likes to make people (especially himself) laugh.  And there is no greater joy for him than antagonizing the hell out of his big brother.

I admit that I pay more attention to his development and growth than I did to Aidan’s.  Does it count that I took a few hundred more pictures of Aidan?  Probably not.

Sean knows his letters, his colors, and his shapes (including octagon, y’all!).  He knows his friends’ names and who he would prefer not to have to hang out with.  He is naturally shy with new people and dogeys (aka dogs), but once he loves you, he loves you with his whole heart.

Happy birthday, Sean.  I hope one day you appreciate that your brother is the one I practiced on first.

$&!# My Kids Say

I’ve discovered a purpose for Twitter…or at least my Twitter account…shit my kids say…I’m sure I’m not the first to use #shitmykidssay, but I’m definitely using the heck out of it now!

In the past few days, here’s what I’ve heard:

Aidan to Sean: “Be a man!”

Sean: “Don’t race, Mommy.  The wheels spawn and spawn.”

Sean: “The rain makes me sick.”

Sean: “You heard me? I was farting.”

Aidan: “When will I get my tonsils out?”

Sean: “When we get home, I’m going to poop in the potty, Mommy…and then show it to you.”

Aidan: “My teacher said if its your mess, you clean it up, even in the bathroom.  And I’ve never had a drip until today.”

Yeah, that’s Twitter GOLD right there, people…so if you’re on Twitter, feel free to follow me and find out what one of them says next.

Oh Isaac

Let me get the serious stuff out of the way first.  I’m lucky that Isaac (hurricane or tropical storm depending on when you’re reading this) is basically missing my area.  I recognize how fortunate I am.  I worry for my family who will get a much more direct impact from the storm than I will.  I worry for those who survived Hurricane Katrina and now get another storm on the anniversary of her arrival.  I hate it, it sucks, and it’s the one downside to living where I do.

But can I continue to be completely honest?

I am SO freaking tired of talking about Isaac!  In my neck of the woods, we’ve been talking about Isaac since last week – Thursday, I think.  It wasn’t even on top of Cuba yet and there was conjecture, there was supposition, and of course, there was panic!

I’m so tired of talking about Isaac, I wouldn’t even want to talk about Isaac Hayes, if I had a reason to! And yes, I recognize the irony that my entire post is dedicated to Isaac –  I get it.

My world was dead center of the “cone of uncertainty.”  Damn cone of F-ing uncertainty.  My mother began requesting constant weather updates to the point that when she called, I stopped saying hello.  Instead I said, “We’re still in the center of the cone, it may be a Cat 1 by landfall, who knows. Yes, I will be prepared. No I’m not evacuating. Yes we’ll be fine.”

But as I explained to countless newbies who had not gone through a hurricane before, until it gets in the Gulf of Mexico, the cone, the trackers, and conjectures are basically bullshit.  Nobody knows – they’re just guessing based on the weather at that basic moment and what they think the weather’s going to do next.  Have you watched the local weather lately?  When was the last time they got it 100% right?  You really think I’m going to start panicking a week out??

If you’re not aware, the Gulf of Mexico, during the summer, is like soup.  Warm-ass soup.  And we had a really mild winter, which means the Gulf never really got that cold.  NO ONE wants a storm to reach the Gulf.  No. One.  Sure, give a storm that loves a warm bubble bath time to churn for a while.  What could go wrong?  Everything.

Just to give you an idea of how I feel about hurricanes – I don’t evacuate.  I don’t throw a party and I don’t go to them, either (because it’s really illegal to put your children on a shelf during a hurricane party…the authorities frown on that.).  I get my crap inside, I hunker down, I wait it out.  That’s what I do.  I’ve said that I would evacuate for a Category 3 storm, but I’m not even sure I’d do that.  Everyone who’s lived through more than one hairy hurricane season has their threshold for when they’ll leave – some never do.  I never have.  No place to go, no money to get there, and my worst fear is being stuck on the interstate as the storm hits.  And of course, sometimes if you leave, you can’t get back in – I want to be able to get back to my stuff, even if it’s strewn across the damn highway.

Back to the Gulf, soup, and the unpredictability of stupid cones.  Let me share with you how the cone and Gulf don’t always communicate very well…

I lived in south Mississippi when Hurricane Ivan hit.  I don’t even remember what category it was now (guess I should Google that, huh?).  But I remember distinctly that it was coming straight for Biloxi, MS.  I settled in to my mom’s house with The Ex (before he was an ex), my roommate at the time, and my mom’s dog (Mama was already remarried, I think, or close to it so she was with The Step).  That was the SCARIEST thing I’ve ever sat through.  Wind howled, things got picked up and flung at the house, and of course, the power went out.

We weren’t watching TV at that point, so while we thought it was coming straight for us, Ivan actually did what a lot of storms do in the Gulf, it veered at the last minute, and pounded Pensacola, FL.  Ironically, six months later, I would move the panhandle area and witness a sea of blue roofs (from all the tarps).  We were sure it was headed for us, because that’s what the damn projections said.  The storm and the gulf had other plans.  That’s how these storms go.  ALL of them.

So, now, can you understand why maybe I’m a little annoyed that on THURSDAY the world began to panic slightly about my area being in the center of the cone.  I was one of a few voices saying, “Can we wait until it’s in the Gulf of Mexico?  Please?”

Now, that being said, I did get my preparations done Friday and Saturday.   Mostly to avoid the rush of the Monday afternoon people who were waiting for the magic 24-36 hour time frame to ransack every store in the tri-county area of bread, water, and peanut butter.

The joke, for those of us who live in these areas, is that the moment you buy your supplies, get your windows boarded up, and prepare for the worst, the storm won’t come to you.  So all weekend, I did my part to insure that Isaac went elsewhere.  On Friday, I bought 2 gigantic cases of water from Sam’s (the last two they had in the store, thankyouverymuch).  On Saturday, I bought way too much bread and peanut butter.  And then I refused to buy a full gallon of milk (opting for the half gallon) in case I lost power for more than a few hours.  All of these things mean that I won’t need all the damn water or the bread.  I comfort myself with knowing that they won’t go to waste, so it’s not a total loss.

For all my annoyance and flippancy, I do worry for the people who will take the brunt of the storm.  When you live here, you always want it to go somewhere else.  In my area, we just pray for west, WAY west.  I like the idea of Mexico…don’t they need rain?

I am ready for the storm, though.  The car has plenty of gas, we can go a few days without electricity if we have to, and I’ve pulled in all the big chunks of crap to lessen the amount of debris that could get picked up.  I do all this simply because I don’t want to be the crappiest mother alive for real, NOT because I think there’s much to worry about.  Panic is contagious.  And since we’ve been talking about this since THURSDAY, I’m pretty much trying to keep my perspective here, and not let everyone else’s worry get to me.  Especially the people who’ve never been through a storm.

One last piece of advice for those of you who have never been through a hurricane – if the people who have lived in the area ALL THEIR LIVES aren’t panicking, please calm down.  You don’t know more than they do about a hurricane, I promise.  When they start to freak out and pack up their crap, THEN it’s time to panic.

The Benjamin Boys’ Mean Mommy

Bet you didn’t know I’m a mean Mommy, did you?  Yep, that’s me…Mean Mommy.  I wear that title pretty well, and I’m pretty damned proud of it.

Sean ratted me out at daycare this morning.

Sean: “My mommy made me mad this morning.  She made me cry.”

Daycare: “How Sean-Sean?” (Gotta love that everyone calls him Sean-Sean now…)

Sean: “She made me cry because she wouldn’t listen to me.”

This is the same child who ended up at the office in a time out because he was so bad for his teacher today.  Sweet Sean-Sean?  Yes, I know, I was shocked too.

He woke up crying, because Mean Mommy made him get out of the bed and try to use the potty.  Mean Mommy also made him put on clothes, socks, and sneakers.  Mean Mommy gave him a banana for breakfast and couldn’t pull the coveted Brown Sugar and Cinnamon Poptart out of her butt (that’s what happens when little boys get a hold of the Poptarts while Mean Mommy is sleeping on a Saturday morning)…

And that “she won’t listen to me” line?  Straight from Aidan…

*****

Aidan (sobbing): “You aren’t listening to me, Mom!”

Me: “Well, tell me again.  Help me understand.”

Aidan (wailing): “You don’t understand me, Mom!!!”

Me (confused): “Help me understand.  Say it again.”

Aidan (sobbing and wailing): “You just don’t get it!!!  You never listen to me!”

Me (annoyed): “WHAT don’t I get, Aidan?!”

Aidan (sniffling): “I didn’t want pizza, Mom.”

Oh holy hell, really?

*****

Mean Mommy makes Aidan do homework, eat dinner, and shower before watching Netflix (no more cable) or play on his Nintendo DS. Mean Mommy requires that both boys pick up (most of) the toys each evening.  Mean Mommy doesn’t tolerate whining, complaining, backtalk, attitude, lying, and not listening.

I think I like Mean Mommy…

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