Thursday, December 31, 2009

new blog

I'm attempting to start and keep up with a new blog:

I hope you will visit and read and comment and all that jazz...

If you don't follow me, that's cool. I will, however, still be following you. :)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Year in Review - 2009

It’s that time of year again. But, please, hold your applause until the very end. Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office deputies could shoot more people by the time I finish writing this post.

January: I totally kick ass in court! (Sadly, Mr. Dumas is dragging me back in January 2010) However, I do feel like I lose big in the White House. I’ll proudly admit that I voted for McCain/Palin because, while I like Barack well enough, I strongly believe our Commander in Chief should have some military experience. Another big win for me was finding my personal pilot in Captain Sully! I have a sickeningly phobic reaction at the thought of even getting into an airplane and the thought of it leaving the ground makes me feel…well, I dunno. I just sort of tend to black out. The good news in January is that I don’t end up in a river after I meet that creepy guy named Dole in Brunswick. Captain Sully would’ve rescued me. Maybe. Eh, probably not. Sadly, my grandmother passes away while my brother is visiting. He’s the same brother who was visiting when my other grandmother passed away in October of 2008. He’s not cursed, though, because he isn’t visiting when my house gets sprayed with shotgun shells. Or maybe I have that backwards…

February: Not even a full two weeks into the month and JSO shoots suspect #5. President Obama promises me money – it isn’t anything like what the Bank of America dudes are getting, but I’ll take whatever pennies he’s willing to shove into my cupped and begging hands. This month seems a little uneventful, though, as proven by my own personal 2009 wall calendar that screams out (with much red-inked importance!) that Elle visits the dentist twice. Nothin’ to see here, folks. Move along…

March: Does anything exciting happen during the cold months? Nope, not really. Unless you count President Obama comparing his bowling scores to those from the Special Olympics team. On late-night TV. Dumbass. There is a rather aggressive reaction by the American public when we learn just how our taxpayer-funded bank bailout is really being divvied up. And you thought your refund goodies were a bonus! It’s around this time that I publicly acknowledge on my blog how much I ******g hate my job and vow to do something about it. So, because I’m about 34% insane, I decide to go back to school and look into a useful Bachelor’s program, because working on my first degree with a full-time job and full-time mom duties didn’t make me apeshit crazy enough. My family now has only 9 months to prepare for spring semester 2010…

April: I can’t get my hands on any Purell for the office and it’s really starting to piss me off. H1N1, I just call it Piggy Flu or Hiney Flu, makes everyone absolutely batty and all of a sudden people worry about hand washing. Whatever. Nobody gave a crap about it before and I’m sure 99.9% of men still don’t wash up after touching their no-no place in the bathroom. But I brave the public and immerse myself in a crowd of a few thousand to watch Ben Folds git jiggy wit his piano. It is badass. Even better is his opening band, Jukebox the Ghost. Immediately after the show, I buy a CD and each band member signs it, except it gets hijacked by my then-7-year-old daughter. I haven’t seen this CD since May, but at least my kid isn’t listening to Hannah Montana.

May: DeAnna and Delilah visit us but I sure wish it was under better circumstances. Elle and I later visit them in York, South Carolina, where we also stop overnight at my brother’s new place in Rock Hill. It is here in the apartment complex’s pool that Elle decides to give swimming a good college try. Or even a good elementary try. She fails. Miserably. One the way home, we stop off in Pooler, Georgia, to visit the Mighty 8th Air Force Museum on Memorial Day. My grandfather was part of this and I recommend it to everyone! I can’t be more proud of Elle when she very carefully and respectfully places a small American flag near a veteran’s memorial. Well, that's not entirely true – I am extremely proud of her when she participates in her gymnastics club’s annual Flip Fest, konks her head on the uneven bars, and earns the nickname “Bar Girl”. I hope this name doesn’t follow her into her high school years…

June: On the 2nd day of the month, JSO shoots a suspect. On the 12th day of the month, JSO shoots another suspect. I lose count. Anyway, Jacksonville is hit by a MONSTER KILLER WATERSPOUT!! Just kidding, but they talk about it on the news for like five straight days and you think it takes out half of downtown or something. JSO should’ve shot it. I celebrate Father’s Day by patting myself on the back because not only am I mom, I am dad. The girl at Cold Stone Creamery puts me on hold for a good 8 minutes while I have an allergic reaction to some ingredient but instead of insisting the doctor feed me allergy pills, I beg for Yaz. It’s been a happier household ever since! Unfortunately, my 1-year Quit Anniversary is overshadowed by Farrah Fawcett’s death, which is overshadowed by Michael Jackson’s death, which is overshadowed by disbelief over Michael Jackson’s death, which is overshadowed by…oh, nevermind.

July: I drive to Savannah to meet some friends for the weekend and we decide to make another long drive to Asheville the following weekend as well. That’s a lot of driving. I do not, however, blog about my Asheville experience because, well…I couldn’t get the hell out of there quickly enough! Asheville is not the Hell of Brunswick, so I’ll give Asheville another try but I have yet to recover from Round One. Anyway, I return home eager for hurricane season, only to be disappointed months later. You’re welcome, New England.

August: I ship my daughter off to South Florida for an entire week and sit around wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do by myself for an entire week. By the time I figure it out, it’s time to go pick her up and bring her home to a redecorated bedroom and half-dead fish. At least she finally learns how to swim while she is in Fort Myers! Ted Kennedy passes away, Elle ends up hating the Edison House tour in Fort Myers, and JSO shoots another suspect. I’m beginning to detect a problem here. School starts back up again for the kid (hallelujah!) and my child care bills go waaaay down!

September: Oh my word – she’s a Girl Scout! Elle becomes a Brownie and I’m suddenly bombarded by cookie requests. Hold your fur, people. I’ll let you know when it’s cookie order day. One of my directors at work involves me in a very sexually explicit conversation about bunnies (and I had no idea!), but I will never look at her the same way again. I slam the door in the face of a would-be Senator and I FEEL NO SHAME…well, months later, at least. I did feel bad for a while, though. Art Graham is a huge supporter of JSO, our lovely police organization that manages to shoot yet another couple of suspects throughout the month of September. Maybe government-run healthcare will work for them.

October: IT’S MAH BIRTHDAY!! Guess who gets a big present on mah birthday? Obama – he’s get a damn Nobel Peace Prize! I got…a supercool insulated lunch bag. Betches!!! It’s Elle’s birthday, too. She gets earrings. That’s more bling than your stupid prize, Barack. Anyway, I survive a terribly violent and bloody cat attack and a painful yoga session with Rodney Yee, who’s been shelved since mid-October on account of me being lazy. I end up going camping with the Girl Scouts and freeze my ass off. However, with the upcoming holiday season, there is no concern about my ass not coming back.

November: I spend an entire day breathing the same recycled air as my black, married, political boyfriend – Colin Powell (squee!!!). I spend another entire week recovering from some freaky ass quasi-cold/flu (not Hiney!) and somehow manage to teach a few little Girl Scouts how to rollerskate. For FOUR FREAKIN’ HOURS. The bad germs aren’t finished with us yet. While we drive to Rock Hill, South Carolina, on Thanksgiving morning, Elle complains of a tummy ache. I should have known as soon as we hit Brunswick that the demons within the city limits would unleash themselves on us. Elle hurls all the way through Brunswick and all the way back home. Thanksgiving officially SUCKS. Wouldn’t you say so, Tiger Woods?

December: I think Tiger’s Christmas is gonna suck, too. Mine is great! I’m officially a full-time college student once again and I haven’t been shot by JSO. The kid develops a mysterious case of hives (which disappears just as mysteriously), I manage to buy four Christmas gifts for Elle while she stands right next to me, and I don’t know anyone who personally thinks putting explosives in their underpants is a good idea. However, I don’t even think flying is a good idea. Or government-run healthcare, for that matter. And, for the record, my ass came back. Mmm…cookies, cakes, pie!

JSO police shootings count as of 12/30/09: 15


Monday, December 28, 2009

The Mighty Explosion of Tangerine Chaos!! With a matching area rug!!


This is how my boss views me.

“You keep me focused and you don’t feed into the chaos. How do you stay so calm?”

I don’t drink. I don’t do drugs. Hell, I even quit smoking eighteen months ago. Yet I told her something like, “Well, if nobody’s bleeding profusely or dying because something has gone wrong, why worry?”

That’s pretty awesome advice, isn’t it? Too bad I can’t follow it. Although my years on Wellbutrin following my yet-to-be-shared-with-the-general-public battle with post-partum depression are far behind me, I still can’t forget how unbelievably and undeniably terrified I was of being uncomfortable.

Yep. I said uncomfortable.

Just yesterday, I removed my writing desk from my bedroom and put it in my daughter’s room. It will become her homework station/art project table/writing desk. That is our intention, at least. But if she’s anything like me, it will become another flat surface on which to throw and stack useless crap. I have to monitor this very carefully. As a result of losing a piece of furniture, I have gained an extra three feet of wall space and rearranged my own bedroom furniture to give myself even more floor space, you know, so I can do my yoga (that I’ve been talking about doing for over two months now).

The bed is now against the wall, on my left side. Positioning the bed against this wall totally opens my window and I love that! But, like I said, the bed is against the wall on my left side. This is a problem. I am left-handed and I feel absolutely crippled by the fact that everything within reach of the bed is also what is in reach of my right hand. I’m so out of whack right now. My world is jerky, uneven, severely unbalanced, and right-handed.

How freakin’ lame is that?!

As if that wasn’t neurotic enough, wait’ll I tell you about my nervous stomach, my rapid/non-existent breathing patterns, the lightheadedness, the tingly sensation in my extremities, the dry mouth that I’m convinced will make me swallow my own tongue before the week is over. There, I guess I just told you about it.

And how freakin’ lame is it that right now, at this very moment, I’m having one of the most intense anxiety attacks I’ve had all year…over a new comforter.

This new comforter, which I will refer to from now on as The Mighty Explosion of Tangerine Chaos, is on my bed. I am also on my bed, trying to absorb the good vibes that everyone else has been able to pick up from The Mighty Explosion of Tangerine Chaos’ feel-good aura. If comforters could have auras.

I am all about color, don’t get me wrong. I even had to be the one to convince my mother to paint the living room in a terracotta shade. I am the one who chose to cover my own bedroom walls in a deep, dark purple and then, just last year, turn it around into a cake-batter yellow – the current wall color. It’s gray and cold and miserably wintery outside and I need, desperately need, warm colors. The cranberry reds, the chocolate browns, the cozy caramels – the tangerines?

It’s a beautiful color and The Mighty Explosion of Tangerine Chaos is a lovely comforter. Really, it is. Did I mention that it is striped? Yes, it does somewhat remind me of those ten cent candy sticks in the general store section of a Cracker Barrel and I feel like I’m living in Lollipop Land.

My parents like it, my daughter likes it, my cat likes it, the mother/daughter duo from Target liked it, and even the lady at Sears who sold it to me liked it. I like it, too. I think. No, no…I do. The Mighty Explosion of Tangerine Chaos is the warm, summery color I needed in this bedroom to get me through the next few months. Is it the color? Would I not be so screwed up if I was right-handed? Is that what’s causing this feeling of being so uprooted and unsettled?

Why, oh why, can’t I just be $%^#^!@ normal?

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Christmas Hangover

Santa was good to us this year.

Elle woke me up around 7:30 on Christmas morning and was quick to rally the troops around the tree. It was full of gifts and the kid had contained her excitement for as long as was humanly possible. Which, in all honesty (and in the mind of anyone who cares for small children), means she lasted about three full minutes after getting out of bed.

The gifts were opened very carefully, not as violently as when I was a kid...surprise, surprise. In fact, we had to tell Elle to hurry it up since we were all getting hungry (and in this family, hunger leads to grouchiness - like houseplants, we wither without food first thing in the morning). I love how everyone got what they wanted and I'm especially proud of how grateful my daughter is for everything she received. Even the dogs got gifts.

However, Jack Mikerson (the dachsund) became a little greedy after his first taste of PPPPRRREEESSSEEENNTTTSS!!! and we found him nibbling on the other dog's gift, Elle's new latte scented lip glosses, or my brother's Vanilla Cupcake candle. Jack eventually got what was coming when Elle chased him around the house with her remote control car, aptly named The Sorceror, the master of mobile magic, the protector of yummy-scented Christmas gifts, the wizard of I'ma kick dat dog's ass!!

Oh, the things that make us smile.

I fell asleep at 10:30 last night (I don't usually go to bed until midnight). Considering I sat on my ass all day yesterday, I did find myself involved in physical activities - such as unwrapping gifts, shoveling food into my mouth, crossing and uncrossing my legs while watching "Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian", and shoveling even more food into my mouth. Let's not forget when the pies and pannetone were unveiled since this led to yet another round of shoveling food into my mouth.

And to my own amazement, I can still type this blog on account of my arms staying intact. Forks are not that heavy. I did play with a Bow & Arrow set in between rounds of stuffing my face and that's considered a sport. Thank goodness, I have that to feed my self-esteem. (Again with the feeding)

So Elle and I sit here today, in a quiet house due to the Crazy After-Christmas Sales Extravaganza for which I did not get an invitation. Only crazy people get this invitation. I have all week to make returns and go shopping since I do not have to return to work until Monday, January 4th. So while the wackadoos duke it out for parking spaces and test their own stamina in the return lanes, I am home watching "Chowder" and listening to baby animals cry and burp on Elle's new Nintendo DS game.

Jack Mikerson is snuggled up right next to me, afraid of leaving the couch for fear that The Sorceror (aaaahhh!!!) will chase him down once again. Little does he know the battery died an hour ago.

Friday, December 18, 2009

One more year

Elle's at that age when she's beginning to question Santa's existence. She is asking if he's a real person or a spirit, if he brings gifts to little girls who backtalk their moms, and if he might have a tummy ache from all the cookies he eats before he gets to her house. She has even written him a Christmas list with a P.S. at the end explaining that her friends think he's a fakey but that she still thinks he's real.

I think this is our last year of Santa. Or of believing in a child's Santa, at least. And it makes me a little sad. Our children have to grow up so quickly these days and it's just not fair. To them or to us.

They can't rides their bikes around the neighborhood alone anymore. They can't play dodgeball at school anymore. They can't go to music class, or art class, or P.E. anymore. They can't even watch Cookie Monster anymore because Cookie Monster teaches them bad eating habits and will make them fat. They can't go to the toy section alone in a department store anymore while their parents shop for barbecue grills, bathroom towels, or something else equally boring. They can't come directly home from school anymore because both of their parents work (if they're lucky enough to have two parents). They can't listen to the radio anymore without hearing "ass", "crap", or "damn". They can't watch a television show with their parents anymore without being reminded that an erection lasting more than 4 hours requires emergency medical intervention.

STOP IT. Just stop it. Can't they just be kids, for cryin' out loud?

And this is why it makes me a little bit sad. I was into the whole Santa thing for a long time and would have continued to be had my older brother not shown me the stash in Mom and Dad's closet. And it probably happened at a reasonable age...eleven or twelve. An age when I had yet to learn about birth control (or even birth, for that matter) and had probably just seen my first boob on TV.

"Mommy, do you believe in Santa?"

And I told her the story, a very true story, of when I was in a panic about being able to get her what she really wanted for Christmas one year: The Disney Princess Vanity Table.

"Would you believe that I didn't have enough money to buy you that gift? That I was around $50 short of being able to afford it? And that a very generous man I worked with handed out gift cards to our entire staff? That my gift card was worth $50?"

She smiled..."So, what happened?"

"Of course, I got you that vanity table!"

"I remember that!"

"And just a few days ago, I got an unexpected bill in the mail. But I also received an unexpected gift yesterday that included a $100 bill."

She put two and two together. "Santa did that?"

"I think so."

And she believes. And so do I. It's hard for me to not look at each coincidence as of late. The fact that financial aid paid for my APA Manual. The fact that Elle's school daycare waived the December fees. The fact that my lawyer didn't ask for a $5000 (yes, folks - five thousand dollars) re-hire fee. The fact that so many of my co-workers were kind enough to send me home with gifts for myself and my daughter.

My obvious issue is money. But around this time of year, it's not the money, or lack of money, that bothers me. I live year-round with very little of it, as it is. It's the stress that having no money puts on me by forcing me to choose between two gifts I know she really wants and can only be justified by wrapping it in Christmas paper and ribbon. It's that time of year when I can give her all the things that she wants because she already has everything she needs. It's the joy I see on her face when she opens the box and looks at me with a smile and talks to me with her eyes..."I've waited all year for this. Thank you, Mommy."

That is what Santa gave me this year. A worry-free Christmas.

So, yes. She still believes. And even decades after being shown the stash in Mom and Dad's closet, I still believe, too.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Itch. Scratch. Worry. Repeat.

For a week, Elle's been complaining of being itchy. It started a few weeks ago, actually, with a bottle of cotton candy scented body wash. I thought that was the culprit originally. I was wrong. She would still complain of being itchy even when she hadn't used the body wash. And to quell the complaining, I drugged her with Benadryl to "either make you stop itching or make you fall asleep. Win-Win!"

Elle was awake until 10:30 last night (against my wishes as I'd been in a meeting from 6-9pm and specifically instructed my mother to have Elle in bed, under the covers, by 9pm. Yeah, right.) I got home around 9:30 and tried to make a sandwich for nearly 45 minutes (I hadn't had dinner yet).

"I'm all itchy!!!!!" Whiiiiine...Oh, god I hate whine.

(I sound like such a horrible parent, mocking my child who is obviously experiencing some discomfort, but seriously - I believe if you feed a child's ridiculous claims with honest-to-goodness attention that the ridiculous claims will never go away and the whine will never stop.)

But suddenly there were welts. What the hell?

"Stop scratching!"
"I can't!!!"

That's not imaginary. Now I wonder, where did they come from?

There is only one answer (and no, I haven't consulted a doctor yet but I will when we're both out of work/school for Christmas break - I'd like to find out if I'm right!)


Yes...stress. My kid is stressed.

Mostly because her dumbass father explained the events of September 11th as follows:

"There is a war going on in another country because the American soldiers chose to fight over there instead of fighting over here. If the snipers get over here, they'll try to take you from your bedroom and make you one of them. They tried to get into America once before and they killed alot of people that day. They'll try it again."
~~~ obviously, not word for word but you get the idea.

Thank you, ASSHAT. Ahem...I mean, Mr. Dumas. So now instead of worrying about the standard Monster-In-My-Closet mystery, she is also on the lookout for Al-Qaeda terrorists roaming the Oceanway community in the city of Jacksonville, looking to snatch little girls and whisk them away to Iraq.

So, yeah - my kid worries about "snipers" coming to take her away and fluff off into another country with her to make her "one of them". I had to explain to her how safe our neighborhood is because of all the cops who live here. I swear, on my block alone there have got to be four or five. And let's not forget about the Angry Marine who lives around the corner. He is humongo and angry that his deployment is over. He looks forward to returning to the land of terrorism and kicking terrorists' bums. But, back to the cops. They're every-freakin'-where in this neighborhood.

"Even Papa was a cop once, Elle. He knows how to protect us."
"Yeah, but really he's just a security guard now."

Uh...okay, you got me there. But have him tell you about the time he tackled a foreign country's Prime Minister to the ground because Papa thought the PM was the bad guy. See, Papa would be willing to take down a world leader in the name of America's security. Imagine what he'd do to keep his grandchild safe.

But, anyway, this whole "worry" business is a family thing. We are reallllly good at it, too! I once worried so badly that I stopped breathing and passed out!! My mother used to worry so badly that she'd throw up!! Our new family symptom: HIVES.

I have passed the gene to my daughter. You, dear Elle, are one lucky, lucky girl. Welcome to a life of tummy aches, social awkwardness, lightheadedness, and an overall feeling of discomfort. 24/7!! And like I said, Nana and I are the Queens of Worry and we know all the tricks to making your brain stop worrying. Ask us, we'll share our tricks. Nothing is too "silly", as you say, to worry about. Because when you're a worrier, everything matters...nothing is silly because it's all too real.

Hives, huh? That's a humdinger. I think I'd rather pass out.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Rejects

There's only so much fun to be had in the rain when a car accident on the Dames Point bridge halts traffic. After about 10 minutes of cursing at drivers who use the right lane to pass stopped traffic (and subsequently making fun of them when nobody lets them in), I was stumped by a Kid Question.

Elle wanted to know:
a)more about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and,
b)more specifically, if he had brothers or sisters and
c)if so, why Rudolph was deemed The Chosen One.

"Well, would you want some reindeer named Gluedolph in charge? I mean, he has to glue his nose on and sometimes it doesn't stick. He's completely unreliable."

So, in no particular order (except probably alphabetically, because I can't remember all of them), Elle and I would like to introduce to you Rudolph's brothers and sisters:

Bluedolph: He's, uh...well, he's blue.
Cluedolph: Now a detective with the North Pole Police Department.
Doodolph: I think the name says it all.
Goodolph: A total drip.
Whodolph: Who? Yeah, exactly.
Jewdolph: The convert.
Loodolph: Spend most of his time in the loo.
Boodolph: Obviously, he scares the children by peeping in windows, as shown in the picture below:
Moodolph: An adopted sibling who is not like the others. Moooo!
Newdolph: Oh, this one will throw you off because he's not the newest member. That title goes to...
Brand Newdolph: The brand newest member of the family.
Poodolph: Has a close relationship with Doodolph and Loodolph.
Suedolph: Works with Cluedolph.
Twodolph: The conjoined twins.
Woodolph: Enjoys going to concerts, bars, graduation parties, etc...and screaming Woo!!!
Zoodolph: He's locked up, thanks to Cluedolph and Suedolph.
Choodolph: A train conductor on the Polar Express.
Shoedolph: Running out of closet space.
Achoodolph: stays home from school alot with...
Fludolph: Ick. And...
Spewdolph: Ickier.

And my personal favorite:

Kung Fudolph: He's one bad ass reindeer.

(I totally high-fived Elle after that one. My kid, she's clever)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

How I turned someone's home into an even BIGGER castle!

"Nothing will turn a man's home into a castle more quickly and effectively than a dachshund."-Queen Victoria

My neighbors across the street have three dachshunds, all black and tans. There's Milo, Trixie, and the new addition, Sookie. They bark alot and they get loose alot. It's not uncommon to see the three of them raising hell in the 'hood - traveling the paved circular street like a gang of mini-thugs.

I wasn't entirely surprised to hear little doggie nails scrapping up my driveway when I pulled in after work tonight. I thought it was my dachshund, Jack. I turned around to see not my own Piebald doxie, but a little male mini black and tan.

"Oh, Milo! You got out again? Where are you sisters?"

He didn't answer me.

I had all of my stuff from work in my arms - a huge tote bag, my lunch bag, my jacket, my purse, my Vanilla Coke - and Elle had her arms full with her bookbag and jacket and a drawing she was working on. But instead of putting our things away, I decided we could just walk Milo home and have a good chuckle with Brenda (the neighbor) about her dogs and how I surprisingly was able to wrangle this one home without having to grab him in a chokehold. When the three of them are running the streets together, they're impossible to catch. Tonight was too easy. I was only responsible for the one.


Elle and I stood on Brenda's porch with Milo and waited. And waited. And waited. Nobody answered the door.

"Elle, hit the doorbell again."


"Milo, where's your mother? And are the other two running around, too? Goodness, where is everyone?"

Milo, at this point, got very cuddly with me. Like a cat, he started rubbing on my leg, begging for physical contact and dying for some cuddles. I knelt down, put my bags on the porch, and rubbed his back. Poor little guy - who knows how long he had been loose! He enjoyed the cuddles and he even propped his little front paws on my leg.

Elle cooed. I just melted.

It was obvious nobody was home. Jack would never allow me to bring in Milo, even just to babysit until Brenda made it home from work. But I decided to try to get into the backyard - I wasn't about to break down the fence, but this dog is a mini and could probably fit through the slats. Elle and I moved around to the side of the house, jiggled the gate, and I was able to walk Milo into his yard where I happened upon two other dachshunds. I was relieved to find the other two safely at home and not running amok. They seemed to be happy to see Milo, too. One of them even went straight for Milo, very happy-like, and the two dogs ended up in a friendly wrestling match.

There. Problem solved.

I finally walked into my own house and started putting my things away, all the while I relayed to my family how I had come across this lone dachshund and had to put Milo back in his yard for the umpteenth time. What a cuddly puppy, so well-behaved! Then it hit me...

Oh, shit.

Milo is NOT a mini dachshund.

RING-RING (damn, voicemail):

"Hi, Brenda. It's Dena from across the street. Um, I found a dachshund in my front yard when I got home from work tonight. It was about 5:45. Anyway, I tried your doorbell and nobody answered, but I was able to open your back gate and put the dachshund in the yard. I really hope it's yours. The other dogs seemed to be okay with him. So call me back if there's a problem. Oh, my goodness - I hope it's yours."

Maybe Sookie is a boy. I truly hope Sookie is a boy. And if Sookie is not a boy, well, sorry, Brenda.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

"We just thought you were okay."

Tonight my mother and I had a discussion about our family and our two families. Our two families that live under this one roof. We talked about how she never imagined having to consider what her life with be like with two adult children still living at home, one of whom has a child. Or of how difficult it would be to live in the same home with her granddaughter, never expecting that this is how it would be. Mom and I have butted heads many times, usually over her expectations of how I would raise my child. Proud of herself when she sees me use some of her parenting tools and offended at times, even hurt, when I argue that something she did to me as a child made me feel awful and I vowed to never do that with my own daughter. I think all of us, when faced with the real possibilty of parenthood, flash back to a moment or an emotion in our childhoods that had such a lasting impact on our self-esteem, self-acceptance, or any other measurement of our own self-worth, that we shudder at the thought of making our own child live that same awfulness or awkwardness or whatever you have flashed back to.

Our conversation tonight led to some openings of sorts, some insights into each other's worlds and why we choose to parent our children the way we do. There were no parenting books involved in our decisions that led us down two different parenting paths. It was pretty much simple observations and how what we lacked during our childhoods was what we wanted to provide the most of in our children's lives.

My mother, as a child, lacked stability. I can't get into any more detail than that. However, those exact details are what drove her to provide for her three children the way she did: we had clean clothes, clean beds, three meals a day, discipline, hugs, and the basic comforts of daily life. We never thought we were missing anything. She did everything she could for us. She still does.

But there is one thing she feels she didn't have with me and that's a close relationship similar to the one I have with my own daughter. I don't tend to beat around the bush often, but I had to tread these waters carefully because, in no way, shape, or form, did I want my mother to feel like any blame has been pushed onto her for our lack of communication during my teenage years. As a toddler and elementary school-aged kid, I was a pain in the ass. It took until the age of eight to actually detach myself from her leg and learn to function as my own person. From that point on, she was lost to me.

When I was a teenager, our family struggled for a few years with a number of issues, mostly because of us kids. Again, I refuse to go into further detail, but my youngest brother had overwhelmingly won the "Hey, ALL EYES ON ME!" contest around the same time my oldest brother up and joined the Air Force. I soon became stricken with Middle Child Syndrome and did what any other mopey teenager would have done - I pretended there was nothing wrong. It was too late for me, though. Depression had kicked in and was accompanied by its dirty little friend, Anxiety. Except I didn't know what was wrong, I just knew that I hated it. And I hated me.

On my own, I fought through it. My emotional outbursts were blamed on my teenage hormones and the ever popular 1992 version of angst. I spent alot of time in my room and I spent alot of nights awake. Insomnia got into my bloodstream and created even more frustration in me. I sought out a diagnosis and, eventually, a support group, on my own. I started having difficulty just leaving my house. I'd had a gun pulled on me in my own backyard and I was convinced that someone was out to kill me. The mail could wait to be picked up - I wasn't going out there in that big, scary world! I skipped so much school, but enough to pass, and I remember my mother saying, "I don't care what you do anymore. I just don't want them to call me about it." And I had nobody to tell. Or so I thought. My folks didn't seem to be worried about me. As a pissed off teenager, I took that to mean, "They don't care."

And this is what I use to drive my parenting choices.

My mother pointed out how close Elle and I actually are. And it's true, we are very close. Our relationship is all I have to hold on to right now, while she still trusts me and values my opinion. This kid is a true individual, so I don't have to be too concerned about her losing herself completely even though I do admit she's a worrier with some social anxiety. I try to encourage her to be different, to be herself, to be as goofy as she wants to be so she will never feel like she's not enough for me. Or for anyone else. The geeks run the world and everyone looks back fondly on the "weird" kid and wishes they'd had the balls to be their own person back then, too. I have to convince her that it's okay to stand up to her father when he insults her or makes her feel like she's a disappointment. It's my job as her mother to make her feel safe and secure in this world. To make sure she knows that I DO CARE.

Mom: "You never told us you had these problems. We just thought you were okay."
Me: "You never asked. And I wasn't okay."

I still believe my mother had too much on her plate when I was a teenager (my father was in the military and not home too often) and, to be honest, my antics were kept quiet for the most part and I got away with alot. Until just a few years ago, I was convinced that if they'd paid more attention to me, my parents would have been able to just know that I was not in a good place, mentally and emotionally. I shouldn't have to tell them. Believe me, I know better now.

Amazingly, there were no tears and no accusations - just realizations. This is why this...this is why that...and so on. It explains why I like to bake with and take road trips with my daughter - because spending time with her is what makes her continue to trust me, to know I'll always be there. It also explains why cleaning my room has never been a priority. That was my mother's concern, to keep things clean and orderly.

That is her definition of a safe and secure childhood, for us. Mine is just different.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Fortunately and Unfortunately

It's beginning to feel alot like winter here in Florida. Our version of winter, at least. The dullness tends to stick around all day and wraps the whole city in a blanket of gray. The air is chilled and moist, sunset happens before dinner, steam rises from the sun-warmed ponds and puddles, hot chocolate becomes a staple in the pantry, and my flip-flops are restricted to indoor use only. It's like North Florida goes into a hibernation of sorts. Life, in general, seems to slow down.

And I don't normally react to the change so agreeably.

For some reason, this year is different. I'm taking this punch of cold air with a bit more enthusiasm than usual. I am finding myself quite contented to huddle on the couch in my Winthrop University hoodie, laptop at the ready, with a big cup of hot tea and honey. At bedtime, I sleep with the window cracked to let in the cool air and I turn the heating pad to low before I slide it under my blankets. It only takes a few minutes to warm up the exact spot where I'll eventually fall sleep.

Most of the lights are off and have been replaced by the comforting glow of candles all around my house. At this moment, French Vanilla is in the living room, Almond Cookie is in the kitchen, Cinnamon Apple is in the main bath, and Apple & Warm Caramel is in my bedroom. I love the warm glimmering of candlelight. It just makes everything, well...warm. Needless to say, I have a newly discovered aversion to lights. I'll tolerate lamplight, but I prefer my Lemon Cake & Vanilla candle over the blinding glare of a stale 60-watt bulb. It smells better, too.

I'm simply shocked. Early in the fall season, I submissively accepted summer's end, although I had no idea what was happening to me at the time. My instincts to bake kicked in and since the beginning of September I've been fulfilling myself with cookies and cakes, much to the enjoyment of my We-can't-eat-that,-we're-on-a-diet family. Actually, it's more like my If-you-bake-it,-we'll-eat-it family. Nothing gets wasted in this house.

However, winter in North Florida doesn't last very long. I say However only because I can't decide between Fortunately and Unfortunately. I'm enjoying this weather but I'm not in love with it. Because, deep down inside, I truly believe there is no such thing as too much summer.

Oh, that's just laughable.