Monday, August 31, 2009

10 Year Old Mortification

Yesterday, on a day long trip to and from N’s first soccer matches (two hours over, half hour warm up, two hours of game time with an hour break in between, two hours back with an hour break for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants) of the season (won one, lost one, thanks for asking) we spent a good deal of time listening to hip hop music. It isn’t my number one choice but it keeps the boy content and quiet so it’s a small price to pay.

What nobody imagined was the effect that hours of hip hop would have on me. About halfway home I got the bright idea that I should start my very own hip hop group, with me as lead singer naturally, made up of middle-aged women with children. Given the amount of time I had left in the trip (about an hour) and sparse traffic on the interstate, I was able to devote much attention to the development of my new group even to having some ideas of who to invite to join me (a couple of fellow soccer moms came to mind immediately).

Now keep in mind that all of the following details are copyrighted by me so if you try to steal any part of my ideas I will hunt you down and sue you for every penny you earn from them. You’ve been warned.

Name of the Group: M.O.M.S. (Move Over Mom Slackers)
Wardrobe: Leather – lots of it along with plenty of bling and neon pink highlights in our hair
A few tracks from our debut CD:
PTA B Itches
Bullyin’ da Bullies
Soccer Moms Extraordinaire
Wine’s the Only Way (Makin’ It Through the Day)
Workin’ Moms Laundry Day

And our big hit:
Grocery Shopping

Here’s an excerpt:
Goin’ down da produce aisle lookin’ at da lettuce
Hopin’ that e coli ain’t comin’ out to get us
Pickin’ out the cauliflower
Hey them lemons ain’t too sour
Bring it to me, bring it to me
Make me salivate some more.

Indeed, I regaled N with my grandiose ideas. He went from laughing to rolling eyes to searing stares and eventually to “Mom you wouldn’t dare do this would you?” as I continued to go on and on about it including plans to solicit band members via Craigslist, performing in local clubs, and auditioning for next year’s version of “America’s Got Talent.”

Yep, wanna mortify your own ten-year-old? Threaten to start a hiphop group. Works every time.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Late to the Party

Is it a surprise to anyone that I would be late to catch on to certain modes of communication? (Anyone? Anyone?) No, I thought not.

My latest addiction is texting. It isn’t that I haven’t texted in the past. I have. . . sporadically. . . short little messages. . . very rarely. . . However, I have now discovered the joys that most teenagers have known for some time now – the text conversation carried on throughout a prolonged period of time. I think one reason I have gotten more comfortable with texting is that I finally figured out a couple of months ago how to use the mode where the word is “guessed” by the phone based on the numbers pushed rather than having to go letter by letter painstakingly pushing “2” three times to get a “c” and so on. See? I told you, late to the party.

Anyway, it just took me one day to get hooked. Last night I was at N’s baseball game, and as exciting as Little League baseball can be I was bored. I didn’t really want to call anybody (even if I weren’t phone phobic) because I wanted to be able to pay attention to the game at least a little, particularly when N was at bat and got a fabulous RBI double at one point. So what’s a girl to do? I texted a couple of people just to say hi and see if anybody was available to “talk.” Lo and behold, I found two friends ready to chat away, and we did for the remainder of the game. It was awesome! Two conversations at the same time, yet still I could take a short break to watch the action on the field when there was some. Thank you girls for keeping me from falling over from boredom last night! (Yes I know you’re both reading, and please forgive me for telling you that the game was a loss. It was actually a win for N’s team. I was misinformed by a mom who obviously didn’t know any more about what was going on in the game than I did.)

So, oh dear, now I have a new addiction. Be careful. If I have your cell # you just may be my next target.

And you know what else I’m learning? I do actually have friends. I really do. Sometimes I’m just too damned blind to see it, but thanks to all of you who I confided in this week who gave me support and helped me through a bit of a crisis (that I’m not just prepared to share here at the moment). Now, if I just had some friends who actually lived close enough to get together for dinner or coffee occasionally. Sigh. . .

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Big Sigh of Relief

Indeed, if you heard or felt a huge whoosh yesterday evening that would’ve been the result of the huge sigh I let out upon hearing from N that yesterday was awesome, the best first day of school ever. My body released about 10 tons of pressure stored up in every fiber of my being.

You see, school is not necessarily N’s thing. Every year we dread the first day of school because it will bring tons of unknowns with it – different teacher, different kids (well, not all different but they remix the class each year plus this is a pretty transient community with lots of comings and goings), different rules, different expectations. It’s just different, and different is something N approaches with much trepidation. Therefore, I can’t help but feel nervous about it myself. Of course I want things to go well for N. I want him to like school. I know he won’t like it as much as I did. After all, I lived for school. I loved school. I loved to learn. Very few feel about school the way I did. I know that. But I sure don’t want him to hate it and to dread it every single day, and there have been school years when that has been the case.

There were a few things that W and I did to try to make this year better than some others. Because W was a volunteer at school last year he had the chance to interact with both of the fifth grade teachers and to observe how they interacted with and taught their students. It was his opinion that for a few reasons one was significantly better suited to be N’s teacher than the other. I agreed with his reasoning and together we submitted a letter to the principal requesting that N be assigned to Mr. T5’s (stands for Teacher 5th Grade) class stating our reasons for it. We knew that school policy is not to guarantee placement in accordance with parental requests, but we also knew that at least one reason for that is that if a preponderance of parents request one teacher they can’t very well load up 80% of the class on one teacher and 20% on the other. We hoped that not every parent was requesting Mr. T5 for their child.

Room assignments were posted late last week, and N was among the first to go check them out on the front door of the school. He was ecstatic that he got Mr. T5 as a teacher so that was our first hurdle down. From then on N was actually looking forward to school starting yesterday. He double checked his backpack repeatedly to make sure all his supplies were ready to go. He plotted his opening day outfit (something he has never cared about at all before), and insisted on getting a haircut before school started even though it meant having someone new do it because C wasn’t available to do it until after school started. I hoped against hope that he wasn’t building himself up with expectations too high to be met.

And yesterday? Well, yesterday went just about as perfectly as anyone could hope. N loves Mr. T5 (in spite of him being an Ohio St. fan) which is awesome because N can use some good male role models in his life. N loves being one of the “big kids” at school and the fact that he can sign up to participate on the safety patrol. N loved that the only homework Mr. T5 sent home last night was homework for the parents (a page of questions about contact information and anything he might need to know about the student).

So yeah. That big rush of air last night? No call for alarm. That was just one huge sigh of relief from me.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

How Are Things at the Trueself House?

I’m so glad you asked. What with it being late summer and all it’s been busy. A little rundown of the latest activities:

  • Back to school shopping, at least for required classroom supplies, ended up being one stop shopping this year. Yay! Not only that, it didn’t end up being too outrageously expensive which was a pleasant surprise.

  • N continues to outgrow footwear at a pace that must be unprecedented so new shoes all around – new sneakers, new school shoes, new cleats. What I didn’t spend on school supplies didn’t come close to covering the shoe bill.

  • I have turned a blind eye to whether his pants still fit. He’ll be in shorts for another month or so, and then I’ll worry about buying pants that are long enough.

  • Big Brother 11 is on CBS, along with BB After Dark on Showtime, just as happens every summer. Along with this I have become, as always, completely and totally addicted, shunning family and friends in order to watch every moment possible. No, I didn’t pay for 24/7 live feeds. You wouldn’t hear from me at all during July and August if I did that. (Oh, and Go Kevin!)

  • BJ and I went to a trivia tournament last Saturday hosted by his workplace. The team he and I were on won third place, thanks in part to my knowledge of Michael Jackson trivia and BJ’s knowledge of popular music trivia. Each of the team members got a basket full of goodies. Our team totally rocked, and we had a great time.

  • As far as the depression goes, it’s always there in the background. Sometimes it moves to the forefront like it did yesterday, and sometimes it backs off a bit like it did Saturday. Today it’s there, but not the all-encompassing thing that it has been at times and not like yesterday. It seems the depression is at its worst when I am trying to ignore things that I really can’t ignore. Trying to ignore doesn’t work and only makes things worse.

  • N is playing fall baseball and soccer. This keeps him busy about four evenings a week and will start occupying many weekends starting this coming weekend. However, fall baseball will end in a couple of weeks, and that will help slow the pace a bit.

  • Today is the first day of school. N had me color his hair bright orange (don’t worry, it’ll wash right out) for the occasion and wore an Illini shirt and Illini shorts. This is his way of welcoming his teacher for this year who is a rabid Ohio State fan. Let the games begin!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Adoption Part 4: Where Things Get Ugly

Well, I promised you a three part adoption story and look what you get – bonus coverage!

Yes, I realize now that when I originally wrote about adoption we were actually embroiled in part four of the story. I just didn’t at the time feel up to sharing the story in real time. Now that I look back, this part of the story could truly be considered the beginning of the end for W and me. Sigh. . .

Picking up where we left off at the end of Part 3:
So W and TS happily brought N home with all intentions of living happily ever after. We were happy, just us three, or at least we were at first. We got through the first year, you remember that year, the one where you rarely sleep, where you alternate between thinking you’ll never survive and being absolutely entranced by having the most perfect baby ever.

As N grew, his personality became very apparent very quickly. He’s an energetic, outgoing and charming boy. He can enchant new acquaintances at first sight. He is also headstrong, convinced that he’s right and you’re wrong, and ready to stand up for his position vocally and physically if he feels the situation calls for it. N was, in most ways, the typical toddler, into everything, a daredevil, always exploring and forever testing to see if Mom and Dad were serious about rules. W’s idea of parenting was basically drill sergeant mode: W ordered and N should immediately obey. N learned quickly how to be combative and learned that W would give up and back down. W had no clue how to hold firm. He was quick to say “No” before thinking through the situation and then when realizing he should’ve probably said “Yes” he’d do an about face that taught N that if you complain long and loud enough things will change. So in essence W would put up the drill sergeant front, but when challenged would quickly disintegrate into "Fine, do whatever you want" mode. W was home with N all day while I worked so I had less influence than W although goodness knows I tried. W accused me of being to easy on N. I claimed that I was simply choosing to pick my battles, choosing to shrug off minor things like toys left in the middle of the floor and coming down hard when N refused to stay off the glass coffee table (This was one of the very rare times when I used spanking, but I told N that every time he tried to get on the coffee table I would spank him. He tried twice. I spanked him, one swat, each time. He stopped trying to get on the coffee table.) because of the danger if that glass were to break. I was anything but the perfect parent, and I did go overboard sometimes on the easy side trying to counteract what I saw as W being too tough. W and I were clearly not on the same page parenting-wise. From our parenting it’s a wonder N didn’t become psychotic.

When N was five, W and I decided to adopt again. (I know, I know. What were we thinking? I know. . .) We wanted N to have a brother or sister. We decided we didn’t really want to do the baby thing again (okay, so W decided this, but I went along because he was, after all, the stay at home parent) so we decided to pursue adoption through the foster care system. W and I took the required classes, first the one required to become foster parents and then a second one required of those wishing to adopt foster children. As part of the process we were assigned a social worker to complete a home study. As part of it, she interviewed N. It was after her interview with N that she addressed with us some concerns she had about W’s parenting style. She also expressed concerns she had that W and I weren’t on the same page and were giving N inconsistent messages. W was furious that anyone would dare question his methods and flew into a rage, giving the social worker no reason to think she was off base in her assessment.

The social worker refused to approve us for adoption, or even fostering, unless we saw a counselor to hone our parenting skills. W had always been anti-counseling. However, I managed to convince him to go with the persuasion that this was the only way we could adopt another child. He resented it, but he went. We went to SHDTMYF (so-how-does-that-make-you-feel). She would sit and listen as we argued in front of her about our childrearing differences. She would occasionally ask one of us how we felt about what was just said. Eventually, W told her he felt he’d learned all he could from her (which was actually really diplomatic of him since truth be told he felt she hadn’t done jack shit), and asked if he had changed enough for SHDTMYF to recommend that the social worker let us adopt. SHDTMYF was completely snowed by W’s ability to lie to her about all the changes he was making, and I was too weak to speak up.

So we were approved to adopt. We went forward with the process. However, unbeknownst to W I dragged my feet on as much of it as I could. I knew, absolutely knew deep down in my heart, that he hadn’t changed one whit and that he still wasn’t good parenting material. I was just too much dependent on him and our relationship to risk it all by standing up to him. There were a few occasions when this child or that would tug at my heart, and I would allow us to pursue adoption. Fortunately, none of these situations ever got beyond us expressing interest officially with the state. I can’t imagine how much more difficult things would be now if there was a second child involved.

Writing this out and thinking back over those times makes me really sad at how messed up I let things get. I was weak. I was weak because I thought I couldn’t survive without W. I thought that I had to have him there to take care of me and was willing to let him treat N badly in order to hang onto him. I was a complete effing idiot. I look back and just wish I could’ve been stronger and would have stood up to him when things were going badly instead of backing down or turning a blind eye. There was a part of me, though, that knew better, a part that tried desperately to speak up only to be quashed by the fear within me, all of which lead to my descending deep into the black hole and the very beginning of this blog.

Now I feel the need to go take a really hot shower and scrub myself really hard. This whole post leaves me feeling like there is a really ugly layer of muck all over me and more than just a little nauseous.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Adoption Part 3: Finally!

I posted this series (three posts total) a few years ago on my old blog so if it sounds familiar you probably read it there. I have done some minor wordsmithing (mostly to be consistent with how I refer to certain people on this blog) on it but it is otherwise the same. Also, you can thank Desmond Jones for me posting these. He asked, and I am happy to oblige. You can find Part 1 HERE and Part 2 HERE.

We were introduced over the phone to Marie (names all changed here) through her adoption attorney when she was about 4 months pregnant. Marie was in her early 20's, already had given up other children for adoption, and was determined to give up this one also. Marie was a talker. She liked to talk to me on the phone. I think she was a pretty lonely young woman, kind of lost in the world, unsure of how to make her life better than what she had with her drug dealer, gang banger boyfriend. She is an intelligent woman and had attended college but just couldn't seem to break away from the wrong crowd. She explained to me that she had spent much of her childhood in foster care and did not want the same thing to happen to her baby.

When Marie got an ultrasound pic of the baby showing a little boy, she sent us a copy of the picture. She also sent us a couple of pictures of herself. She is a very petite person, very cute, looks like the all-american girl, but with a certain aura of sadness around her. As you can probably tell by now, I really feel for Marie. I think of her often, wondering about her, hoping that somehow she has found a way to make a better life for herself, but we don't continue to have contact with her so I don't know.

We spent the summer in anticipation of the arrival of our new baby boy. We struggled to select a name. We had lots of girls names we liked but not boys names. We finally settled on a biblical name along with a fairly random middle name just because it flowed well between the first and last names. That summer we moved from a fairly small mobile home to a good size house. We prepared the bedroom right next to the master bedroom as a nursery.I had to adjust to the idea of having a boy. I had so wanted my little girl that we had lost the winter before. It was probably good that I had a few months before he was born to wrap my mind around having a son rather than a daughter.

Unlike with the first two adoption attempts, we didn't tell anybody that all of this was happening. It had been so devastating to have to tell people about losing our other babies that I just didn't want it to happen again. Well, I shouldn't say we didn't tell anybody. I had to tell my boss at work to arrange for leave. We then also had to tell the person that was to cover for me during my leave as well as the HR department. That was the entire population that had any idea. I publicly scheduled a two week vacation at the time our son was due to be born. If the adoption fell through, I would return to work from vacation, and nobody but a select few would ever be the wiser.

We were scheduled to fly out on a Saturday close to Marie's due date. On the Thursday before this, we received a call from the attorney that Marie had given birth that day. It was a short labor, both the baby and Marie were doing well. The baby was small, just under 5 lbs, but appeared to be healthy. We changed our plans and flew out on Friday morning. By the time we arrived it was mid-afternoon on Friday. Someone from the attorney's office came to our hotel and took us to the hospital to meet our son. When we went up to the nursery, N was not there. He was in Marie's room with her. We went there and met N, Marie, and N's birthdad, Reggie. We sat in Marie's room and talked at length with her and Reggie. For much of the time that we were there I held N as he slept peacefully. He was tiny, but perfect. Reggie regaled us with tales of his life on the streets and showed us the scar on his abdomen from when he was shot, and nobody thought he would live and how many weeks he was in the hospital recuperating. I listened and feigned nonchalance over such tales. Finally, we said good evening and returned to our hotel.

There was nothing more for us to do according to the attorney until N was discharged from the hospital which might be the next day, Saturday, if everything was alright. On Saturday morning the attorney's assistant called to tell us the hospital had decided to keep N until Sunday as they wanted to make sure he was getting the hang of sucking. So here we were, 1500 miles from home with nothing to do but wait. We found a local museum to visit to kill time and try to take our minds away from the whole adoption thing, and this baby that might or might not be ours.

On Sunday morning, we decided that if we had heard nothing by 10:00 a.m. we would attend a local church for worship. We dressed for church and were close to leaving the hotel room when the phone rang. It was the attorney's assistant. N was being discharged that morning, and we should meet her at the hospital nursery. Plans immediately changed, and we went straight to the hospital. It took what felt like forever for the paperwork to be completed. Marie came to say goodbye to N. She held him in her arms and cried as she said goodbye. She told me it was the hardest thing to do to give up your child. I so feared that she would change her mind. W went to bring the car around to the entrance as directed. Marie came along with me and the attorney's assistant as I carried N down to the car. Marie helped me place N in his carseat, and she leaned in and kissed him on the forehead. She and I hugged as we said our goodbyes. W then drove us back to the hotel.

We had our baby, or did we? We couldn't feel sure, couldn't feel comfortable given past experience. Fortunately for us, a week later, per the state's laws, both birth parents signed away parental rights. Reggie threatened to back out and basically extorted money from us in order to get him to sign. I know such things are illegal, but when we talked to our attorney about it he told us that if we held firm and refused that we would lose N and Reggie and Marie would just find some couple willing to pay. They had us over a barrel, and they (much more Reggie than Marie, I think) knew it. With just a bit of ambivalence, we gave in and paid them a five figure settlement in order to get Reggie's signature on that paper. Although the adoption would not become final for more than a year, the attorney assured us that the birthparents could not legally change their minds once they signed.

Once the birthparents relinquished their parental rights, we celebrated by sharing the news via phonecalls to people back home. The first call was to our pastor, and she assured us that she would arrange for someone to pick us up at the airport when we returned. Other calls followed to family and friends who, though quite surprised, were very happy for us.

We had to wait to return home until all the proper paperwork was in order so we returned with N on the day he turned two weeks old. It was a Thursday. True to her word, our pastor had talked a member of the congregation into coming to the airport and driving us home. He was a Godsend and so kind and helpful to us that day, helping schlep baby stuff through the airport (of course, back then he could meet us at the gate rather than at baggage claim), driving us back to our car where we'd left it parked when we caught the airport shuttle into the city.

Friday was a busy day. We made the rounds. First stop was our family doctor. Somehow, no matter how good and competent the doctors had been at the hospital where N was born I couldn't believe he was truly okay until MY doctor saw him and pronounced him perfect, which he did. We then visited my workplace and our church, showing off this perfect, wonderful, special child of ours. He was the most beautiful baby ever, at least that's what I proclaimed to everyone, and nobody dared argue.

And so began a new life, a different life than I had ever had, a better life for it was filled with all the joys that a new baby brings to your life. I can't imagine life without N. He makes each day worth living. Thanks Marie and Reggie. You gave the most precious and generous gift you could ever give. I will forever be grateful.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Sunday Stealing: The Blame Tara Meme

I have no idea why this meme is called The Blame Tara Meme. It just is, and we must accept that as it is without knowing why. Not that you care nor do I really, but it does perplex me when I don't know the why behind something. Enquiring minds want to know. Anyway, on with the meme.

Question 1: Who do you think is the hottest movie star? I know most people wouldn’t agree, but my choice is Jodie Foster. Totally hot, totally classy, totally awesome.

Question 2: Apart from your house and your car, what is the most expensive thing you have ever bought? My baby grand piano.

Question 3: What is your most treasured memory? The very first time N ever hugged me back when I hugged him. Of all the baby memories, and really of all my memories, that is my most treasured.

Question 4: What is the best gift you’ve ever received as a child? The Christmas when I received all camping stuff – sleeping bag and pocket knife are the two specific things I remember, but it was all about equipping me for Girl Scout camp. It was awesome.

Question 5: What is the biggest mistake you’ve ever made? Marrying W.

Question 6: Give four words to describe yourself. Logical, methodical, analytical, unhinged.

Question 7: What was your highlight or lowlight of 2008? Oh there are so many in that roller coaster year. I think the one that will stick out the longest though is when I got hit by a car.

Question 8: What was your most embarrassing moment? Oh there are so many in my lifetime, so very many from which to choose. Hmm, I think I’ll go with the first one to pop into my head when I read the question: 7th grade concert when I totally botched my oboe solo. Aack.

Question 9: Tell something not generally known about yourself. Well, there are lots of things not generally known about me in real life, but there aren’t so many if you’re a regular reader of this blog. The facts that I am both bisexual and an adulteress are not generally known, but they are pretty common knowledge among my blog readers.

Question 10: If you were a comic strip/cartoon character, who would you be? Charlie Brown.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Adoption Part 2: Over Before It Began

I posted this series (three posts total) a few years ago on my old blog so if it sounds familiar you probably read it there. I have done some minor wordsmithing (mostly to be consistent with how I refer to certain people on this blog) on it but it is otherwise the same. Also, you can thank Desmond Jones for me posting these. He asked, and I am happy to oblige. You can find Part 1 HERE.

Good Friday. Less than three months after we returned home childless from Michigan. I am in my office working on month end reports when the phone rings. It is the adoption facilitator with whom we are working. There is a baby boy available just 80 miles south from us. He's a month old. Due to some medical problem that has cropped up with the adoptive father, the adoptive family has decided they can't adopt the baby. Any possibility we could go down there that very day to get the baby? I don't even hesitate before saying yes. After getting directions to the social worker's office I hang up. I call W and tell him about it. He is at home and agrees to throw together the things we will need to bring the baby home. I track down my boss, explain the situation and leave work for the day although it is before noon. I arrive home. W and I put the diaper bag and car seat in the car and away we go.

It is early afternoon when we arrive at the social worker's office. She is very pleasant, very positive. She calls the other adoptive mother and asks her to bring the baby into the office. She then interviews us briefly asking fairly standard questions of prospective adoptive parents. During the interview the first adoptive mom arrives with the baby. We can hear them in the outer office, and we go out to meet them as soon as the social worker concludes our interview. The first adoptive mom hands the baby to me and starts telling us things she thought we should know about the baby's habits and routine. The social worker comes out of her office and asks us to leave for an hour or so while she prepares some paperwork. I hand the baby back to the first adoptive mother.

At this point it is around 2:00 p.m. but we haven't had lunch so we figure that would be a good way to spend the hour. We find a nearby sandwich shop and order lunch. While we eat, we speak happily about our new baby. Yet something seems wrong to me. Something doesn't feel right to me about the way the social worker asked us to leave and return. W chalks it up to my normal overly pessimistic attitude and convinces me (sort of) that all would work out.

After we finish lunch, and the hour has almost passed, we return to the social worker's office. As we walk in we see that the first adoptive mother and the baby are still there in the outer office just as when we left. The social worker ushers us into a little room to the left of the outer office. She quickly and rather brusquely tells us that "this situation isn't going to work out" and we should leave immediately. Bewildered at what had happened, we begin to ask questions, but she cuts us off and tells us we weren't going to get the baby and that we should leave immediately. At that point, we leave and head home.

I will forever wonder what happened. Did we say or do something that caused the social worker to dismiss us? Did the first adoptive family change their minds? Did the birthmother not agree to allow us to adopt her son? We'll never know. Unlike with Victoria, I rarely think of this baby or what may have become of him. I had so little time with him it was really like never having him at all.
I promise this is the last of the sad adoption stories. I have one more to post, but it has a happy ending.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Just Wanted a Little Light Reading

Maybe I'll read my horoscope this morning. Maybe it will help me feel better about today.

Someone's unexpected behavior might rattle your foundations today and impact your home. You may be quite effective at handling the situation, but you still don't like it when your plans need to be changed suddenly. Don't waste energy worrying about something else going wrong; concentrating your full attention on what's important should minimize any further problems that might arise.

Hmm, maybe not. . .

Monday, August 17, 2009

But He'll Always Be My Baby

Sometimes raising kids is just really a judgment call. What one kid is mature enough to do at a certain age another kid just isn’t ready to do for a whole lot longer. I know kids who I wouldn’t trust to stay by themselves for a few hours who are teens while I know some kids who can be trusted for an hour or two as young as nine or ten. Every kid is unique, and with their uniqueness comes the need to parent in such a way that guidelines are treated as nothing more than that – general guidelines from which you deviate as called for by particular children and circumstances.

It is with this thinking and attitude that we arrived at yesterday. N wanted to ride the bus all by himself, just to explore and see “the world” and be back home no later than six in the evening. My heart did cartwheels. My baby, he’s only ten (almost eleven he reminded me), and oh my goodness this idea just took my breath away. However, here are some things I know about N: He is energetic, resourceful, outgoing, clever, self-assured, inquisitive, and street savvy. As much as I want to protect my baby, he is not a baby anymore. He reminded me that there are children in New York who ride the subway by themselves to and from school. (Is that a fact or a fiction from his mind used to persuade dear old mom? I’m not sure, but it doesn’t really matter. Our town is not New York. Our bus system is not the subway. Whatever. . .)

The upshot is that I did indeed let him spend his Sunday afternoon exploring our town armed with a bus pass, his MP3 player and the $20 he has earned recently with lawn mowing and such. And guess what? He survived and returned home with bus pass and MP3 player intact and with most of his $20 (he bought candy and soda, surprise, surprise, with a couple of bucks). Not only that he had a great time and was quite proud of himself for having such an adventure.

I know a lot of parents today say you can’t or shouldn’t let kids have the freedom we had when we were growing up. The world is too dangerous. I disagree. I don’t think N is any more likely to be kidnapped than I was at his age. It is a danger, a real one, but stranger abductions are quite rare, just highly publicized, much more so now than when I was a child. At some point, you just have to decide that the risk is worth it for the rewards. The rewards, as I see it, are a child who isn’t neurotic and paranoid, one who can confidently go out into the world and navigate through it. It seems to me that the rewards far outweigh the risks.

Or I’m just a nut who lets my kid run amok. I’m sure some will see it that way.
Meh. . . whatever. . .

Friday, August 14, 2009

Sunday Stealing: Janana's Now Vs. Then Meme

Even in the depths of the black hole, it isn't always all bad. I do see streams of light here and there. I do enjoy certain things. I do have fun. I do smile genuinely occasionally. One of the things I've been enjoying recently is doing the Sunday Stealing memes. So here's the one from this past Sunday. It's a good one.

It's been a while since we had to post rules. But here we will list the relevent ones:
*Think back to ten years ago on this month.
*Write truthful answers and ELABORATE. This makes it more interesting!
*If you don't have a scanner you may omit #14 but I think if you do you should totally do it!
*It's about personal changes. Have fun with it!

Then: August 1999

1. Age: 38

2. Romantic Status: Married

3. Occupation: Accounting Manager

4. Fun night out: With a baby not yet a year old, these were so few and far between I haven’t a clue what we might have done for a fun night out.

5. My BFFs: Nina, Peg

6. I spent way too much time: Obsessing about how much I wanted a new job.

7. I spent not enough time: Appreciating everything I had, including a good job with great benefits and a beautiful wonderful baby boy.

8. I wanted to be when I grew up: Director of Finance

9. Biggest concern: Lack of sex, as it had been for several years.

10. What my biggest concern should have been: W’s lack of parenting skills, particularly since he was the stay at home parent.

11. Where did I live: Northern CA

12. Dumbest thing I did that year: Ignored the warnings both of W’s grown children gave me about his lack of parenting skills.

13. If I could go back now and talk to myself I would say: Appreciate what you have now, because it isn’t going to be long before things get much, much worse.

14. Picture of me then: Sorry, but if you know what I look like now you pretty much know what I looked like then. It was right before I started my weight loss journey and weighed then almost exactly what I weigh now.

Now: August 2009

1. Age: 48

2. Romantic Status: Separated

3. Occupation: Sr. Financial Analyst

4. Fun night out: Dinner and a Movie

5. My BFFs: Drama, C, Kristi

6. I spend way too much time: Obsessing about money.

7. I spend not enough time: Working on getting the divorce accomplished.

8. I want to be when I grow up: Mature

9. Biggest concern: Whether I’m being a good mom to N.

10. What my biggest concern should be: Pushing harder for a solution to my depression.

11. Where do I live: In the most perfect place on earth.

12. Dumbest thing I have done this year: Am I limited to just one? Because really I’ve done some pretty dumb things this year, most too dumb to even share here. Ok, ok, one of the dumbest things I’ve done this year is to wear brand new flip flops on water park day of our vacation which resulted in a massive blister under my second toe of my left foot. It took more than a week for it to stop hurting with every step.

13. What I think I would say to myself in 10 years: Less thinking and more action would have served you better.


1. What do I miss most from 1999: having a baby in the family.

2. What do I miss least from 1999: having a baby in the family.

3. What have I accomplished in 10 years that I am most proud of: passed the CPA exam on my first try after a 20-something year hiatus.

4. What have I NOT accomplished in 10 years that I wish I had: I never did find the job of my dreams, even though the one I have now comes close. I miss the supervisory role that I used to have and the insight into the company one gets at the management level.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hanging on by a Thread

So here’s the deal. Here’s how I’m feeling these days.

I am a failure.

Why? Because I have sought help for the depression. I’m doing the talk therapy. I’m taking the pills. AND.IT.ISN’T.WORKING.

I am not “better.” I continue to battle the depression. I continue to fight against falling deeper into the black hole. I continue to have days where every damn thing seems hopeless.

Do I want to end it all? NO!

Do I want to live? YES!

The thing is though that I am not living. I am breathing. I am going through the motions. I am keeping it together the best I can so that people don’t see that I am not living and so that N is none the wiser. I keep on putting up the front, but that’s all it is. . . a front. I am not living.

Sometimes putting up the front is so hard it makes me wonder just how long I can keep it up. It makes me wonder if someday I will be so tired and so weary and so unable to carry on that death will look like a relief. That’s what I see when I read of others’ suicides is that they were so tormented internally that they eventually got to a place where the only relief to be found was in death. I don’t want to get to that place. I don’t. I want to find the help that will bring me back to life, to make life enjoyable enough to sustain me rather than drain me. I just don’t know where to look.

I’ve been to several different therapists and counselors. I’ve seen two different psychiatrists and tried different combinations of prescriptions. I’ve even asked about being admitted as an inpatient on a couple of different occasions but have been turned down as I am apparently not mentally ill enough for it. (Apparently, one must be currently suicidal to be admitted, and that I have not been and am not now. It just scares me that I have made the turn to seeing it as a possible future outcome if something doesn’t change. Apparently, that is not enough to qualify one for inpatient care.) There just doesn’t seem to be the right cure for me. I just can’t seem to find the key that would unlock the door that would allow me to live again.

Over and over again I hear after someone commits suicide “If only they had reached out. . . “ or “If only they had asked for help. . .” What about those who do reach out, who do ask for help, and yet can’t find the help? What about people like me? What is there for us? At what point is it okay to say “Enough!” and accept defeat and accept that there just may not be a livable solution? At what point is it okay to say “I’m tired of asking for help and not finding what I need”? And if there isn’t ever a point when that is okay, then what? Where does one turn when they feel they’ve exhausted all options?

Truthfully, I was more hopeful before I sought help because I truly felt that if I sought help I would get better. Now, after seeking help for several years and not getting better things feel much more hopeless.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Seems I Really Am the Snob I’ve Always Been Accused of Being

I recently overheard a conversation at work amongst coworkers (they were in the next cubicle over so they could hardly expect the conversation to be private) and struggled some with my internal responses to the conversation.

Assertion in Conversation: One particular coworker gave his tried and true speech about how it doesn’t matter where your college degree is from or what your GPA was just as long as you have a degree.

My Internal Reaction: As I rolled my eyes I once again thought that only those with low GPAs from second rate colleges would make such assertions.

Assertion in Conversation: The ACT test is really hard and not a good measure of how well one will do in college.

My Internal Reaction: Do NOT be knocking those of us who did really well on our ACTs and got into prestigious universities.

Assertion in Conversation: One coworker’s score of 17 on the ACT might have been enough to get into U of I if she’d wanted to attend there. After all, she doubted very much that many of the Illini football or basketball players had scores much higher than that.

My Internal Reaction: While I have no facts to back me on this, my guess would be that almost the only way to get into a major university with an ACT of 17 would be to be a highly recruited athlete in a major sport like football or basketball. Okay, just checked the U of I website and found that for 2009 admitted freshmen only 5% have an ACT of 22 or below. I think that supports my reaction pretty well.

Assertion in Conversation: The only way to do well on tests like the ACT, SAT, GMAT, and so forth is to study like crazy in preparation for them.

My Internal Reaction: People study for those types of tests?!?!? I thought you just went in and took them to get a measure of what you already know.

Oh, how I wanted to just pop over to that cubicle and chat about my 32 ACT score, my ranking in the top 2% of my graduating class in high school, my excellent GPA from high school, all of which allowed me to attend the University of Illinois on a full tuition scholarship for four years, in which time I earned a bachelors degree and all but one semester of my graduate program. But I didn’t. I didn’t because I know how I would come across as an elitist snob if I did. I didn’t because I felt kind of (kind of but probably not as bad as I should have) bad having those elitist snobbish type feelings about the whole situation. Listening to the conversation made me feel like these conversations always make me feel: All I have going for me is a high IQ, and in the real world a high IQ just doesn’t count for much.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Sometimes I Just Plain Scare Myself

The thinking. . .

It started just recently. . .

First, during and after watching a documentary, Boy Interrupted, on TV. . .

Then again, when I read of George Sodini and his writings prior to shooting several, killing a few, in a workout facility before killing himself. . .

I hate the line of thinking these things set off in me. . .

I have always said, and believed deep in my heart, that I could not commit suicide. . .

Until the thinking started. . .

I see the world so much as they see it. . .

I feel as helpless as they seemed to feel. . .

The hope to which I’ve clung so long seems to get harder to grasp every day. . .

Could I?

Would I?

I want to scream, “NO!! OF COURSE NOT!!”

Yet the best I can honestly say is, “I hope not. I really sincerely hope not.”

It makes me feel physically ill when I feel and think this way. . .

Nausea waves over me. . .

They were convinced the only relief was death. . .

And I wonder if they are right. . .

I wonder how long fighting the good fight is worth it. . .

And when it is time to let go. . .

And it scares me that I even dare to think such thoughts.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Traveling in Circles (Sort of Mishapen Circles)

N and I went on vacation last week.

It was not a long vacation, nor did we go very far. It was a vacation I could barely afford, but it was tons of fun. I think the good memories are worth the cost. We didn’t just go somewhere and then come back though. We kind of made a sort of an angularish (I don’t care if Spell-check says it isn’t a word. I like it, and I’m using it. So there.) circle through the lower half of Indiana.

If you look on the map up top both Star A and Star E are located in the same place, which is why you can’t see the A but only the E. This was the start and end of our loop. Yes, we may have come from somewhere else to start here but this was the start of our Indiana angularish circling loop. Day 1 saw us traveling from Star A to Star B, which is Holiday World in Santa Claus, IN. Days 2 & 3 were spent enjoying the attractions there with the evening of Day 3 ending with us driving to Star C where we spent the night on our way to Star D, the Indianapolis Zoo, where we spent a few hours on Day 4 before returning to Star E/A.

Well, there you have it. Our vacation in a nutshell, and that should about do it. Well, that would about do it if someone less wordy than I were writing this. Unfortunately for you this is but the beginning, the part where I have told you briefly what I’ll be telling you, to be followed next by the details to flesh out the story, and finally summarized at the end by telling you what I’ve just told you. (Oh, and you didn’t think I was listening during Public Speaking 101, did you? Ha! Fooled you.)

Day One
We were supposed to do the loop in the opposite direction, starting with the Indianapolis Zoo on the first day. However, work being a priority so I can continue to feed and clothe and house myself and N, I ended up with only a half day off instead of a full day off. Also, W was going to take N to the county fair so I thought we wouldn’t leave until early evening and would drive down south and find a motel near Holiday World so we could get an early start there the next morning. It turned out N decided he didn’t want to go to the county fair so we ended up leaving mid-afternoon. The weather was beautiful as we made our way down through Terre Haute and was just clouding up a bit by the time we reached Vincennes. Our plan was to stop for dinner somewhere near Evansville and then to start looking for a place to stay that night between Evansville and Holiday World. All was well until we realized that our route didn’t exactly take us all the way to Evansville and that we had seemingly left the civilized world behind upon our entrance to I-64. Then the rains came, not drizzle, not showers, not a light rain, but a downpour the likes of which cause many to pull to the side of the road and wait. We waited. We started again as the rain slacked off from buckets to cats and dogs. We, along with many others, made our way eastward at something around 40 MPH. This, my friends, was the most desolate stretch of interstate I’d seen since driving across Arizona and New Mexico. Oh sure, it was anything but desert with its trees and greenery and driving rain, but motels? Not a one! Restaurants? Ha! Apparently no one eats or sleeps between Evansville and Louisville. We finally made it to an exit where we found a small oasis of motel, restaurant and gas station. Hallelujah. Thanks to the raging storm we had dinner delivered, ate in our room, watched a little TV and then slept like babies.

Day Two
When I awoke I saw that the storm had passed and blue skies awaited us. N slept late, and I didn’t have the heart to wake him while on vacation. Once he was awake we headed off to our first day at Holiday World. Since I am the palest woman on earth I wore pants instead of shorts and slathered on the sunscreen on my face, neck and arms determined not to end up sunburned at the beginning of vacation. We hiked all over that theme park from Christmas to Halloween to Thanksgiving to Fourth of July repeatedly. N rode lots of rides. I rode a few. Mostly, he’d just go get in line, make a few new friends and ride with them while I was more the store-all for various things like his sunglasses, his drink, whatever assorted stuff he had with him. While he waited in line and rode rides I saw shows and looked in gift shops and sat on benches people watching. At the end of the day, N proclaimed it to be the best day of vacation ever.

Day Three
Again N slept late, but this time so did I. We barely made it down in time for free breakfast in the motel lobby, and when we did we had just thrown on some comfy clothes and hadn’t bothered with any of the niceties like hair combing or teeth brushing. We did all that after breakfast and before we headed out to the water park portion of the park, Splashin’ Safari. I believe it was on this day (though it might have been the day before) that I saw a man wearing a t-shirt that said:
Jesus loves you
(but I’m his favorite)

That made me smile.

What I saw much too much of on this day, however, were inappropriately dressed people. I have no idea what possesses women with large rolls of fat to wear bikinis. I am fat. I wear one-piece swimsuits. I do not wear bikinis. If you have multiple rolls of fat on your body you should not wear bikinis either. Get a one-piece or lose weight. Those are your choices. I also have no idea what possesses parents to dress their little girls in bikinis. They have nothing to keep the top in the right place thereby more often than not exposing the very parts those little flat triangles were meant to cover. Mostly it was the female gender with the fashion faux pas that day. However, there had to be a few guys, mostly of the teen to twenties set, wearing their shorts so low that had they not had on boxers underneath their entire butt would have been exposed. I told N that I’ll string him up if he ever dresses that way. He replied that only gangsters and gangster wannabe’s dress that way so I wouldn’t have to worry about him ever dressing that way. Thank you son.

We didn’t leave the park until it was almost closing time, just in time for the lightning and thunder and rain to start. Again it rained hard on us, not as hard as the first night but hard enough that traffic was slow. With it getting late and us not having had dinner yet, N slept fitfully as I looked for a place to stay. That place was Corydon, not too much before getting to Louisville. I was never so happy to see an exit with so many choices of chain motels and chain restaurants. We ate our only fast food meal of the trip that night, going through the drive-thru at McDonald’s before settling into our motel room. We slept really, really well that night.

Day Four
I knew it would be hard to get up that morning so I set the alarm for 9:00 which would give us time to get downstairs for free breakfast before 10:00 and checkout at 11:00. When the alarm went off I got up, showered, and dressed. N was sound asleep. I hated to wake him, but he’d been so upset at having to rush to get to breakfast the day before that I tried. I gently shook him and called his name. He grunted at me. I asked if he wanted to get up for breakfast, and he again grunted at me. I said that he could choose to get up, or we could have breakfast somewhere else later. He rolled over and pulled the covers up tight around him. I took that as choosing the latter option. By the time he finally woke up I had to call down to the desk to ask for late check out as it was clear that 11:00 was not going to be possible. They gave us until 12:00, and we were out by 11:45. We had brunch at Ryan’s Buffet before getting back on the road. We still had one more stop to make at the Indianapolis Zoo. We arrived there around 3:00 and stayed until they closed at 6:00. Then we headed on home, stopping for dinner on the way.

We got back four days ago, and I’m still tired. It was a good trip though. N loved the coasters at Holiday World, he loved Splashin’ Safari, he loved the zoo. I loved that he had such a great time. Neither of us loved traveling in rainstorms. Also, just in case you’re thinking of following our trail, be aware that there doesn’t seem to be any highway in Indiana without major road construction happening right now. They would probably be better off if they had just closed the whole state for the summer and fixed all the flipping roads and then reopened. Sorry to those I know in Indiana that I didn’t attempt to see you while I was there. It was a whirlwind trip, and focused on N, so I just didn’t have the time or energy for it.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Sunday Stealing: The Alpha Meme

I feel like I may have done this meme before. I’m too lazy, however, to go back and look. If I did and I ever do look for it and find it, I will be fascinated with the consistency (or lack thereof) in the two.

My roommate and I once: carried on a passive aggressive feud until I finally became frustrated enough to move out.

Never in my life have I: ice skated.

High school was: mostly a good time, but only because I got involved in every possible activity so that I was busy every possible moment.

When I’m nervous: I become incredibly chatty just to distract myself.

My hair: sucks.

When I was 5: I wanted to go to school more than anything in the world, but I couldn’t because the school in our town didn’t have Kindergarten so I had to wait until first grade when I was six.

When I turn my head left: too quickly I get dizzy.

I should be: totally and completely different than I am.

By this time next year: I will be another year older and hopefully wiser.

My favorite aunt is: an aunt by marriage, and I wish she didn’t live 1200 miles away.

I have a hard time understanding: why businesses have the A/C turned so cold that I’m miserable if I’m dressed in summer clothes in the summer.

You know I like you if: I actually talk on the phone to you.

My ideal breakfast is: Crunchy granola bar, banana, yogurt, coffee

If you visit my home town: you will find it filled with high school sports fans.

If you spend the night at my house: I’ll make something special for breakfast the next morning.

The animal I would like to see flying besides birds: pigs, so all those things that will only happen “once pigs fly” will happen.

I shouldn’t have been: as hasty in choosing the person I married.

Last night I: fell asleep very early after being exhausted from vacation.

A better name for me would be: Wilhelmina.

I’ve been told I look like: my dad.

If I could have any car, it would be: a classic late 60’s Mustang.