Monday, November 11, 2019

Hi. I’m awkward and complicated.

I’m a sucker for starry cold nights, but I’ll also talk to you like you know the names of the constellations I’m talking about.

I like coffee, but to me an iced espresso is far superior to a cup of hot black coffee.

I’ve enjoyed all genres of movies, but my (not so secret now) favorites will always be obscure artsy films.

I don’t hate any particular style of music. Music has to hit me emotionally for me to thoroughly enjoy it. No goosebumps, no repeat. I listen to classical when I need to get zoned in. I like hip hop, rap and classic rock when I’m driving as I want to feel it down in my bones; my driving anxieties need me to feel grounded in the vehicle so the bass vibrating through me gives me that peace. If I want to come unhinged and wild, I’ll play Florence or another melodic soulful singer and dance around my house, hair wild and arms wide; singing along from the depths of my being.

I romanticize a lot of life. I want to feel and experience love without all the trauma of my past relationships like a rag being held over my face.

I want the silent stillness of dark, cold nights under starry skies and in warm arms. But I also want the indulgence of crisp sheets against my skin, endless coffee and a porch view that reveals miles upon miles of uninterrupted solitude.

I want to worship our God without feeling guilty that you’re not by my side or worse, embarrassed because I felt Him move in me and I made a joyful noise during worship music.

I want to get my hands dirty creating art, breathing life into my works, and tending to my plant babies as well as my real live in the flesh (not quite babies anymore) babies.

I don’t want to chew you up and spit you out. That’s not fair and it’s demeaning to you as a human, whoever you may be. I simply want to live as a house cat; willingly loved on my terms but allowed to soak in the radiant warmth of the sun alone some days.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Can it please be Friday already?

It's no surprise that I live where I grew up. I am comfortable with the health care providers in the area, my kids oftentimes have the same teaches and my family is a stone's throw away. Well, not an ACTUAL stone's throw as I've never been a sure shot and 3 miles is a bit dramatic. Everyone for the most part, knows EVERYONE here. If I have an emergency, the odds are good I will be met with someone I either went to school with or is married to someone I went to school with or I've run into through one of the jobs I've worked in my lifetime.

The job I currently work deals with 200ish people at any given point, so the odds are good that someone is going to get in trouble with the law at least once a season whether it's criminal or not is another story. When the officers come through we know the drill; we'll identify them (or not), gossip for a bit and then get on with our days. One officer in particular I went to High School with and he has asked me out for a drink on multiple occasions and I've shot him down for one reason or another, but mostly because I've been in a relationship for the past two years. I knew that after last week's shenanigans I really wanted to just go out and decompress, so I flipped through my business cards till I got to his and shot him an email.

I didn't expect a quick response, but when I got into the office Monday morning I found that he'd responded back with his number. We spent most of Monday texting back and forth about making plans, what kind of drinks we like, and then he showed up. My coworker of course thought there was criminal business being handled, but nah girl, I was the official business. We made tentative plans for this Friday night and I'm so ready. It's exciting knowing that there's something in the works as far as hanging out with PEOPLE! NEW-ISH PEOPLE!! I even flipped through my High School yearbooks Monday night as even though I can remember his presence in school, I'm fairly certain we didn't hang out with any of the same crowds.

It was a trip to have my kids pick me out of the Drama and Creative Writing club photos of so many years gone by. Apparently Mom hasn't changed her look in 20 something years and that's not TOO terrible in my opinion. I mean, I do wake up every day thinking I'm still 17 until my body reminds me that I've birthed 3 bowling balls and this skin (and these hips) are scarred for life. My innermost dialogue still sounds like 17 year old me.

So here it is, not even halfway through the week and mama is THIRSTY and ready for adult conversation!!! BRING IT ON.

Monday, November 4, 2019

I made a mistake.

Because I become fully absorbed in the lives of those I love, I have a tendency to come off as leading someone on. I don't mean to, but I did. I like the closeness of a hug or the rhythm of a good slow dance. Of course, touch is only welcome on my terms as I'm pretty big on people not coming into my personal bubble unless initiated. So, my fault. 100% my fault. And I'm owning this because at the time I didn't see the issue.

I broke up with Anthony two weeks ago. The first week was HARD because I so badly wanted my friend and he wouldn't open up to me. That's fair, I mean... I broke up with him. I pulled the plug and ended our two year relationship. We had spent most of every other weekend during the first 75% of our relationship together, and the rest of that time was spent long distance. Upon his move back home, it became increasingly clear that our relationship had played out; our purpose for one another had come to an end romantically. However, this past reason I needed to relax and I wanted a drink, so I visit him at our local tavern where he was working for the night. One beer, two beers and then we were dancing. I can't even remember the songs, but I remembered how nice it felt to have my head on his shoulder and how comforting it was to breathe him in. There was nothing else as far as touch or affection went, but it felt nice enough that I ended up arguing with him about it later that night and being accused of playing with his emotions. Ouch.

So now there's distance, which is expected but necessary. Before I left the office last night my son asked if he could hitch a ride with Anthony to see his friend's band performance. Of course I let him, Anthony is a big part of his transition from 2 parent household to 1 and all the emotions he dealt with during so many changes. His sons and mine are friends now and that's amazing for a kid who is surrounded by kids at school who he shares no commonalities with aside from Drama class and being an awkward angsty tweenager. I love his kids, and it's more than obvious he loves mine. 20+ year ago me would be doing back flips over having our kids be friendly and sharing experiences together.

That, THAT is what I don't want to lose. I don't want to lose the connection between our 7 kids. I don't want to lose the relationship they've built with "Mr. Anthony" as they trust him and love his silliness. I don't want to lose my friend either.

So now I need to set up healthy boundaries for the both of us and boundaries are the worst.

Thursday, October 31, 2019

The real concern here is that no one likes when I make chicken.

The big kids have a therapist I gladly waited months for them to see. He won't let you NOT talk about something weighing heavy on your heart, and these kids NEEDED someone to coerce them to vomit all the thoughts and feelings building inside of them, spread them around on the floor and make THEM dissect and analyze the why's and who's and what's.

Lo has been adamantly protesting having to spend time with his father since day 1 of the divorce. He is uncomfortable in his presence and the thought of having to go is giving the kid ulcers and increasing anxiety. I don't like sitting in on their appointments with the therapist, as that time is between them and the therapist. This past week, however, I wanted the therapist to witness and help assist me in handling Lo's interactions with Lou. Meaning I actually had to be in there. Between interactions with Lou, we spoke about Logan's anxiety in regards to going to his father's house. We broke down the issues that cause the anxiety and anticipated outcomes. His father is unpredictable at best when it comes to confrontation of any kind. The not knowing will make you crazier than you actually are. We discussed what to do in any situation that felt like an emergency and this lead to code words and phrases, which is when I learned none of my kids like my chicken. And that's how the phrase, "Please make your chicken on Sunday" was born.

Last Friday, Lillie's anxiety was explosive from the moment she got off the bus. Her words kept falling out and it's like her verbal filter was broken. She couldn't stop talking and finally, right as I was about to step out the door to go back to work, she said that she no longer wanted to feel obligated to go to their father's house on his weekends. I stopped dead in my tracks. This child. The one who "willingly" would spend an additional week with her father if "given the chance" is either lying to me or is finally dropping her mask. In speaking with my mom late Friday night, Logan had told Mom that Lillie doesn't want to stay extra. They pressure Lillie to stay when she only wants to go home; restricting her technology so she feels she can't reach out to me.

The work day was coming to an end and my phone started blowing up with calls and texts from Lo. He threw up twice before his dad showed up and he really, REALLY did not want to leave with him. I told him that he had to talk to his father, that this wasn't something I could do FOR him. Before I had a chance to close the office properly I started getting texts about chicken. My blonde ass couldn't figure out what meal he was referring to. Did he want me to make some chicken alfredo? Country fried chicken? What the Hell. And then he called and I could hear it in his voice. He was terrified. "PLEASE MAKE YOUR CHICKEN, MOM, HE'S COMING." This was followed by frantic texts detailing that he had escaped the house after his father threatened to make his weekend a living Hell if he kept up his behavior. His behavior being keeping to himself and keeping his mouth shut. Before they'd even made it home, he had puffed his chest up and lunged at Lo at the grocery store; threatening to beat his ass for being dramatic. He stated that his dad had been glaring at him ever since they'd made it to his house, and so he ran outside. I didn't know what to do so I called the cops.

I didn't have them go to the house to check things out. I had them meet me at my mother's house because I honestly had zero clue what I wanted or how I needed to proceed. While talking to the officers, Logan Facetimed me stating that he was making a run for it as his dad was looking for him. He darted across the street in his socks into the woods of a neighborhood facing his father's home. The officers dispatched and met with him, talking to him and his father before I pulled up into the dizzying lights of the cop cars.

Not once did his father come over to speak with us. Logan was tucked into the front seat beside me; he was hysterical and obviously frightened. I still didn't know what his father's motives were, but I was sure it wasn't to have his ex-wife and oldest son surrounded by officers defending the psychological and emotional abuse he drowned this kid with. I was elated to hear that he was "releasing" Logan into my care and my eyes couldn't have rolled any farther in my head unless they were bound for the next county over when they said he was tearful and worried for Logan's safety.

Was he thinking about his safety when he threw things at him in the past?
Was he thinking about Logan's heart when he began courting the team mom of Lo's baseball team claiming Logan was too innocent to know what was happening?
Was he thinking of Logan's psychological safety as his wife shoved her childhood Bible at him and robbed him of fellowship?
Was he thinking of Logan's emotional safety when he cornered him in the grocery store and hammered empty threats, but threats all the same, down upon him?

No. His irrational anger and blatant narcissism has blinded him. It has always colored everything he's touched. No one should be afraid and sick to their stomachs when they know they will be seeing their parent. NO ONE should be too scared to enjoy life because of what will await them after.

Later that weekend his father broke the zero communication to ask if Logan and I were ok. I told him Logan was fine. He stated that he no longer wanted to "force" Logan to come on his weekends if that's his wish. When I broke that news to Logan, his smile lit up the room.

I hope now he knows this isn't normal. None of what he's doing to our kids is any SEMBLANCE of normal. He is a stranger to them just as much as he was to me the day he changed everything. And I hope now he knows I'm serious, black and white. There's no gray area in what I have to say to him when I do say it. No matter what he or his wife thinks, I DO NOT WANT HIM BACK, I never have. The primal part of me that had to claw her way back up to normalcy wanted the man she thought was her Husband, but did not want HIM this man he had become. The primal part of me is alive and well and will do ANYTHING to keep our kids safe from him.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Single in the suburbs.

I have not been single and on my own as an "independent woman" in 16 years. Sixteen.

Even before then I was in a SEVEN year off and on relationship with my High School Sweetheart.

Last night, after dating an outstanding guy for 2 years, I called it. I pulled the plug. Not because he'd done anything wrong or because he was a terrible human, no, I did it because it felt as if it had been over for a few months. He should never have got the "forced" version of me and I didn't want to continue a relationship that required me to be untrue to myself AND everyone else.

The relationship had run it's course and at some point in the past 6 months things just started feeling wrong. Everything about the time I was spending on myself and focusing on my own "little nest" in the home felt RIGHT, but nothing about forcing myself to make time for another human outside of the 3 I'd created felt right in my soul.

My heart breaks not for the relationship, but for him, because I DID and DO love him dearly. He rescued me from myself when I was killing myself slowly as the divorce process began. He showed me how it felt to be truly adored, cherished and loved. And then I started adoring, cherishing and loving myself again. Something that shouldn't have ever been put on the back burner every time I got into a relationship.

Now that my kids are reaching a pivotal point in their psyche and need my presence more than ever before shoving ME to the back burner because EW OMG MOM NO they're almost teenagers now, now I need to help them untangle the mess I helped make from having sacrificed my own happiness for their father and all the other human beings who said they needed me. (I know I know, TERRIBLE run on sentence). I was an awful role model in that aspect and they are going to need me to be much stronger and much more focused than I was then. They need me to be someone they can look up to and emulate (Lord help me, you know I can't control the profanity.) I hope that I'm technically that now, but they will one day be my legacy. They are who I am leaving the world to. They're also the ones who decide whether I go in the home with the good looking nurses or if I get shoved in one of their basements with all my cats. But I also want them to succeed and know that they are fully capable of being alone, that they don't necessarily need a partner, that THEY are stuck with themselves for the rest of THEIR lives and they gotta love themselves first.

What is it I used to preach at 35,000 feet? Oh yes...



Friday, October 25, 2019

Inclusion.

I want so badly for Lou to be included; to hear a friend call his name, to see his siblings stop in their tracks to help him when he's overwhelmed or to even have one of his grandparents, aunts or uncles to step up and ask if they can spend some one on one time with him.

The older kids get that. I hear and see these things happening for them constantly, but not for Lou. I know I look and act like I'm the only one who knows how to handle him, but no one else will unless they forge that time with him.

This evening I saw one kid picked up from school by Grandma, another one crying because they too wanted Grandma time, and then Lou? They left Lou alone with my Father where he curled himself up and took a nap.

My heart exploded when neighborhood kids his age asked if he could come out and play. He put on his puppy house shoes and bolted out the door. He didn't care that he didn't know the rules to whatever game they were playing, but you could see it on his face that he was so excited to have kids saying his name and interacting WITH him and not simply interacting AROUND him. There's an enormous difference between including and allowing space.

Including Lou would be asking how his day was and reading his body language when his tongue fails him. Including Lou is asking for a hug, but not getting upset when he says "No thanks, not today," and then follows up with asking to play hide and seek. Just because he recoils from touch does not mean he doesn't want to enjoy your company.

Allowing space for Lou means inviting, but not actively interacting with him. He can play with your things, but you have no intention of playing alongside him. And this is what I see more often than not. Space is reserved for Lou until his behaviors push YOU away from HIM, not the other way around.

And I'm not immune to this. I was the kid allowing space but not including because I too felt uncomfortable being around the "too touchy" or "too loud" kids. Maybe I'm not unlike them or even unlike Lou. Sometimes I'd rather live on autopilot in my bubble; I don't want to be touched or questioned. I just want to live out my predictable day and be done with it. And then other days I want to be in the middle of all the things and feel like an accomplishment gangster knocking tasks and conversations out of the park, fist punched high in the air.

Autism is funny like that. What might have overstimulated you one day could be the thing you crave the next because you just want to put that mask on and be included. And just because "that kid with autism" spoke one day, does not mean they're going to be holding conversations the next. They want the interaction without the uncertainty that sometimes comes with it.

We roll with the punches, Lou and I, and I pray he knows deep down in his bones how much I adore him. I hope he knows that I'll always include him to the best of my ability because I don't want him to ever feel he's completely alone.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Southern Sibling Sleep Voodoo

Let's just label this under "stories of the strange."

In the past week, all 3 kids (presuming Lou's outburst was in response to a dream) dreamed about losing their toes.

First, Lou woke up Monday morning, clutched his blanket up under his neck exposing his feet and screamed, "MY TOES! TOES!!!" Being that he has been mostly non-verbal, or at least not for communicative purposes, hearing him scream about his appendages and then exposing them seems like he's surprised they're even there anymore. He's not since spoken about his toes with the exception of me "eating" them. In which, what small child doesn't force feed their feet to their parent post bath? I hope and pray he never loses this innocence.

Second, Lillie woke up yesterday morning and while I was making their lunches exclaimed that she'd had a dream in which she was wheeled into my room on a stretcher so they could amputate her toes. She was frantic and anxious over the procedure (but wasn't surprised??) and fought while going under anesthesia. She woke up believing she hadn't gone under yet and then quickly realized it was all over. As she finished her story she told me, "It didn't even hurt! They'd taken all of my toes and I didn't even feel it!"

Lastly, Logan... This morning I was gathering his morning medications and his breakfast shake ingredients as he came down the hall bewildered and in a state of half sleep. "Mom... you remember the rock wall (retaining wall) at Grandma's house?? Well, I was running around her hard and flew up the wall and tripped in front of the trampoline and managed to rip all of my toes off. Her next door neighbor was an evil Surgeon and she came over to the house and sewed my toes back on. She didn't even give me anything for the pain."

None of these kids were in each other's presence during their retelling of their toe stories. But, They have had some pretty intense life stuff happening the past few days as well, which is crazy because of the interpretations I've found online. Now, a quick scroll over to www.dream-of.com states that "to dream of losing toes represents a loss of confidence or feelings of insecurity. Something that was reassuring you has been lost." Meanwhile, www.dreammoods.com states "To dream that you lose or gain a toe(s) suggests that you are lacking determination and energy needed to move forward in some situation. To dream that you hurt your toe or that there is a corn or abrasion on it, means that you are feeling anxious about moving forward with some plan or decision."

For Lou, he's been struggling behaviorally in class. This is his first year of mainstream Kindergarten after two years of special needs pre-k. At home he's excelling by leaps and bounds, but in class I hear often that he's not doing classwork or he's become frustrated and disruptive. He has behavior issues at home, but nothing from a mother's point of view that isn't abnormal for the baby of the family in having to deal with siblings and life frustrations. His responses are more carnal and at times funnily feral. (Funny to me because if I don't laugh, I will for sure cry.) He's started clawing the walls, biting his shirt while simultaneously pulling on it, kicking the baseboards... it's been SO! MUCH! FUN!

As for Lillie, sweet girl... bless her sweet bones... Last year, she signed herself up and ran with an idea alongside a new friend for the Student Technology Competition that won her County, Region and then Statewide recognition. Towards the end of the competition season both girls were at each other's necks and ready to draw blood. When they weren't focused on the social media platform they'd published, they were the BEST of friends. But ONLY when they weren't working. This past summer, both girls had worked on separate projects for this year's competition and upon seeing each other in school decided they were going to work together again, MUCH to their mother's disappointment because for the love please Jesus no. NO. But then they did and subsequently did not. After a long weekend together, her teammate's mother text me to inform me that the girls came up with a mutual decision to withdraw from this year's competition. Good! Great, even! I couldn't have been happier because I don't think any adult involved would have been able to survive another 6 months of manic dramatic 10 year old girl. And then, two days later, Lillie did not get off the bus with her brother. My heart leapt into my throat and I scrolled through emails, checked my family calendar, and text the other girl's mother. Did HER daughter stay late today?? What time is pick up?? She didn't stay?? I flew to the other side of town to pick her up at the scheduled practice end time and there she was, with her technology coach. Coach looked a bit shell shocked and wide eyed asking me with her hands resting on Lillie's shoulders, "did YOU know Lillie is going to fly solo?" I shook my head, "Yeah, NO. I didn't see that coming." We both looked dead at Lillie and we agreed that if she should show any sign of stress, anxiety, or changes in behavior she was out for the rest of the season. She agreed, but by the look on mine and Coach's faces we didn't totally buy it.

Then there's Logan. Poor Logan has been a ball of nerves for the past few weeks after an incident at his father's house that made him question his father's intentions. While I won't comment on that situation just yet, the kid has been trying to find creative ways to keep from having to be present or worse, alone with his father. We discussed this all in depth with the family therapist this week in a hopes to assist Lo in giving him the confidence to just SAY what he needed to his dad without fear of angry repercussion. On the way home from the therapist he got the guts to text his father questioning if he could maybe skip coming this weekend. He got a resounding no with a series of rapid fire texts leading to an angry phone call. The remaining car ride involved lots of tears and zero words. We all felt his anxiety in this and as much as I'd like to take all of his worries from him, I know them all too well unfortunately. The entire time it took me to make dinner once we were home was spent listening to Lo cry tucked inside my closet in the hopes we wouldn't hear him, and of course we all shook our heads fervently NO in response to him asking if he had been too loud. When it comes to his relationship with his father, Logan struggles to receive any sort of true recognition or praise. He's been whacked upside the head more times than he's been hugged by his father at this point. Listening to him from the other side of the therapists couch broke my heart, as it really opened my eyes as to how terrified he is of his father. In response to his dream, I'm sure he would very well rather have his toes stitched back on not medicated than spend time with his father.

Or maybe... none of this means anything and it's merely coincidence... or is it?

This post was written as a part of Mama Kat's Writer's Workshop, "Write a blog post inspired by the word: sleep."

Mama’s Losin’ It