Tag Archives: children

Next time I go naked

Next time I go naked

I went to the Boyfriend Candidate’s house the other night.  I think the relationship is getting stale, and I’m concerned.

I walk in his door, granted the three kids are in tow.  Also I must say, he was sick and I was having neck pain.  We are old indeed.

I call out, “Hello?” And the three kids start calling out his name.  We go to the living room.  Empty.  The playroom.  Nothing.  On to the kitchen.  Here we find him.  He is reading the Economist, glasses at the end of his nose.  He delivers this heart-felt welcome.  “Oh hi.  I didn’t hear you come in.”

I have problems with this and if the kids hadn’t been bouncing around the kitchen, I would have called him out.  Not hear us?  We are a herd; that’s not possible.  There was a time when he would have been sitting on the front porch looking for me, waiting for me with some anticipation.

He didn’t even stand up.  It was disappointing and hurtful in the way you would expect, but I immediately went to the bigger picture.  Do I want to come home to a guy who doesn’t stand up and embrace me?  My marriage degraded over the course of 20 years into that kind of nonchalance and mutual apathy.  What does it say that that the BC and I have already hit that mark?

Then again, I know I should give him a break.  He’s sick.  I’m edgy.  The children can have a numbing effect.

Next time I may have to walk in naked and check his response.  Then I’ll know if I’m really in trouble.

To wake, perchance to exercise

To wake, perchance to exercise

I was thinking this morning, as I hit the snooze button for the second time, that my good and bad days are determined by one key event: getting out of bed.

To be more precise, getting out of bed when the alarm actually goes off.  For the first time.

It’s psychological and also physiological.  If I get out of bed when I’m suppose to at 4:45am I have an immediate sense of accomplishment.  I did it, I got out from under the covers! I can do anything!

After that I make coffee and get on the treadmill.  I’m taking care of myself, increasing my metabolism, burning calories, and waking up the engine that will power my day.  I can listen to Bill Handel and his morning crew and nothing makes me smile like an irreverent cynic with great sound bites.  He’s an equal opportunity offender and I am in love with him.

I pound out two miles, sometimes I even run for some interval training, and I’m good to shower and beautify.  Then, with the extra time, I can make my lunch and fix myself a couple of boiled eggs.  I can safely and cleanly eat these as I drive to work.  As everyone in LA knows, you have to multi-task when you drive or it’s a missed opportunity.

All of this happens while the children sleep.  I’m alone.  I’m uninterrupted.  I’m self-indulgent while still being responsible.  It’s truly the best feeling and tees me up for a productive day.  Sometimes I even have time to accessorize!

Mind you, I’m having this epiphany while continuing to hit the snooze button.

You know, maybe every day is too big a reach.  Maybe I need a day off so my muscles can recover.  I heard that somewhere.  So every other day might be more realistic.  I could live with good days 50% of the time.

And that’s about the time I notice I’ve “overslept” about 15 minutes and now I’m late.

But it’s totally worth it because of the invaluable epiphany.  I can’t wait to see what my epiphany will be tomorrow.

Get off the chandelier, your child needs you

Get off the chandelier, your child needs you

At our slumber party last weekend one of the boys came to me at 1:30am and said he was sick.  He was crying, and I was quick to dismiss it as homesick or fear of a dark, strange house.  I really did not want to call his parents in the middle of the night.  They had a kid-free evening and were probably swinging from the chandeliers or playing naked Twister.  Of course, if they were anything like me, they may have been so excited to be allowed their exhaustion, they smiled at each other before the sun set and fell asleep.  

Naturally, the boy had a temp and was mortified that he might throw up in front of all his friends.  We made the call.  No answer.  Visions of two middle-aged people bitterly wiping off whipped cream, cursing the whole time, danced through my head.

It took about twenty minutes for one of them to pick up the phone.  The boy spoke to his mom.  He was really crying hard.  Still, just like me, he had to sell her on the idea that he was sick.  About forty minutes later, his dad shows up at our house.  You could tell by the way he slammed the car door he was not happy.  But I opened the front door and his sick little cherub limped out, now hysterical upon seeing his father, and dad’s angry melted.  It was heartbreaking. 

I promised right then I would never doubt my kids when they called at an inconvenient time to tell me they needed me.  Naked Twister be damned!

My oath lasted all of four days.  My oldest called from school.  He thought he broke his thumb and wanted me to take him to the hospital.  If this was true, I reasoned, the school would have called an ambulance.  I told my darling, brave, crying child that unless there was blood or bone I wasn’t leaving the office.  I wasn’t even torn; there was no way I was leaving work. 

Like most parents, I live for my children.  Unless, of course, it’s inconvenient.

Deck the halls with boughs of brag

Deck the halls with boughs of brag

Actual photo from my 2005 Christmas card. I made some quip about "all through the house not a creature was stirring.... just not my house."

I haven’t sent holiday cards in three years.  I use to love creating holiday cards.  One time I drew a Christmas tree on each card, just the outline, and used my children’s toe prints to create the ornaments.  This year, I’m finally in a financial position to send cards, and I have some things to communicate.  There have been some big changes.

I haven’t decided how exactly to say all that I’d like to say so I’m paying attention to the letters I’ve been getting and, unfortunately, they annoy me.

I don’t like the impersonal trend toward ink jet address labels and Shutterfly messages, but more than that, they are all braggy brag.  “Our son was accepted into the Global Leadership Program for bilingual children with a political interest, and after graduating from first grade this year, he will embark on the program in Spain.”  Or the most irksome, “Our daughter has mastered the moguls and won her first competition.  Dad doesn’t understand why this second home in Aspen which was suppose to give HIM the opportunity ski is instead making Olympic hopefuls out of his children (Darn that work!)”  Seriously, this was in a letter I received today.

My letter would read something like this: “Dear friends, what a year!  I’ve finally hit stride as a single mom.  After a year of searching and hundreds of resumes sent, I’m back with my old employer, something I never envisioned myself doing.  I realize now how important stability, a pay check and benefits really are.  Big adventure and risk-taking are overrated.  It’s all about the orthodontic coverage, and I know that now.  My oldest son is gaining confidence although his daydreaming is reflected in his grades.  My number two son is doing well with his support systems and warming up to reading now that he’s in the third grade.  We’ve tackled many of his food sensitivities and his nose stopped running after three years!  Who knows how number three son is, I haven’t had time to look at him.  That’s right dear friends, I’m now solidly on the road to healthy mediocrity and couldn’t be happier!”

Twelve and counting

Twelve and counting

My son turns twelve today.  As I type have ten boys running unrestrained and untethered in my house, junked up on caffeine, chocolate and the adrenaline of a post-Nerf war victory.  I’d be lying if I said there was anything unusual about that.  My three boys all by themselves can create quite a lot of noise and mayhem.

It is time for reflection.  Twelve years.  What the hell?  I’ve never had anything for twelve years.  Not a plant, a dog, even my husband, one could argue, punched out long before we got to twelve years.  Of all things I might imagine myelf to have for twelve years – a car for instance, maybe a mattress – I would never have imagined a human being.  And my son seems happy to have me.  Of course I gave him a PS3 with ensures (and insures!) his devotion so I can’t be sure how sincere his undying affection is, but I really don’t care.  I have it.

So tonight, I’ll listen to him and his friends scream like girls, echoing down the streets of the neighborhood.  In a year or two they won’t sound like little girls any more so I’m going to enjoy this before they get neck deep in testosterone.  They are a great group of boys.  I’m not concerned about a single one of them.  We’re really fortunate.  I have a beautiful boy who made me a grateful mom.  I love him in ways that can’t be expressed.

A year or two ago, I was really worried about his life and how it might turn out.  Not any more.  I’ve got it covered.  And for those times when I’m not there, his trusted friends and their families will be.  All things considered, it’s good to turn twelve.

Oh my beautiful Calvin

Oh my beautiful Calvin

Calvin at 7.

So Calvin says to me tonight, “Mom, you’re really clever, even though you’re old.”

He almost had me.  It was so close.  But he followed it up with this beauty:

“You have so many things in your head.  I don’t have as many things in my head.  Not yet.  As you get old, you get more knowledge and it all fits in your head.  So a person’s head always fits their knowledge.”

My Calvin with his unique and wonderful brain can come up with things that give me pause.  How does it all fit in there?   I don’t know.  Our feet grow, but our heads don’t.  Weird, right?  You’d think if anything would grow it would be your head to accommodate the wealth of information, the daily memories being saved for later use, the sounds and textures and smells of a lifetime.  It’s such a cool observation.  Cool and twisted.

Hello, goodbye, repeat as desired

Hello, goodbye, repeat as desired

The Boyfriend Candidate and I broke up not too long ago.   Again.  We do this about every three weeks, and we’ve each totally lost credibility with each other on the break up front.  This time I was picking on him — pretty much all day — most likely as a result of general frustrations with the relationship.  I was indirect, provocative and uncommunicative.  So we got in a fight.  He called me an ugly name.  And then defended it when I graciously gave him a chance to retract.  I was done.

So a week goes by and in that week I’ve been really asking myself hard questions about why I’m dating in the first place.  Are my frustrations with the relationship because it doesn’t serve a purpose relevant to my life any more?  I think I’m on to something.

I’m 46.  I have three small children who deserve my time and energy.  Now that I’m working, which means I can provide everything I and my children need, I’m not looking for a man to save me/us, to be the responsible party or to fund us, if you will.  I’m in bed weeknights at 8pm because I’m up at 4:45am.  When exactly am I suppose to nurture an adult relationship anyway?  So seriously why am I dating at all?

Sex is an obvious answer.  Adult companionship generally.  To be adored in that way a man adores you has particular attractiveness to me.  And you know I got all those things from the Boyfriend Candidate.  What I didn’t get that was frustrating me was “traditional marriage material.”  He isn’t that Prince Charming.  He’s a salty old curmudgeon, truth be told.  I don’t want to be with him every day.  I don’t want to live with him.  I can’t imagine the nightmare of merging lives.  But you know, I don’t think I really need that.  If he gives me the adoration, even part time, might that be enough?  I think anything more is an old dating paradigm from my early twenties that has expired.

I can reinvent the adult relationship now.  So I’m taking some time to figure out what that will look like at this point in my life.  Naturally I spoke with the Boyfriend Candidate and, as usual, we’re back together.  This time I am relieving him of those traditional expectations which aren’t relevant (or possible) any longer.  Maybe I can be more tolerant.

Honestly, he never thought we split up which slightly irks me.  I did make a dramatic exit.

Little things that change my life

Little things that change my life

I’m divorced.  At the time of the Great Divide, I was a stay-at-home, home schooling mom to my three sons – one of them with entry level autism.  I hadn’t worked in years.  Divorce was a big thing that changed my life.  I still grapple with the meaning of it.  My kids are back in brick and mortar school.  I’m back at work after 8 months of bitter unemployment.  I’m raising three boys to be men without a male presence.  I yell a lot.

What I never anticipated was our ability to adapt and the beauty of the unexpected simple solution.  The little things.  I have a day job, but as soon as I get home, I’m in the home office doing my part time work.  There are never-ending interruptions from the boys which always makes teleconferencing a challenge.  Most of my clients are resigned to the screaming in the background or the occasional “Mommy I have to poop.  Will you wipe my bottom?”  Right now they are in my office arguing over boiled eggs.  They don’t even like boiled eggs.  I repeat myself with withering conviction throughout the day.  “Get out of my office!”  “Let me finish my work!” and my favorite “I’ll be there in a minute!”  This is a good one: “Stop touching your brother!” That one works 24/7.

Anything I can do to reduce the stress I’m game for.  TV, for which I have a love-hate relationship, is a big trigger for tension because the boys only have a love relationship with it.  When it’s time for bed, it becomes all out war.  They’ve developed effective strategies.  The ear piercing whine is fairly reliable.  But a couple of weeks ago they did something exceptional.  They turned the volume down so I would think they had turned it off.  They faked me out.  Now I have to stop what I’m doing to get a visual on what they are up to.  I cannot trust my ears which for a mom is a really big loss.

Last night a little thing changed my life.  The guy I’m dating, the Boyfriend Candidate, is a problem solving junkie.  He must look at my house with the same glee as a mosquito in a blood bank.  He gave to me a most powerful weapon: a remote control power switch I can use on the TV’s outlet.  From my office, without warning, I can turn the TV off at its power source.  They cannot turn it back on.  They may yet find a go around; they could outsmart me.  They are younger and more flexible.  But for now, I’ll take the peaceful resignation of “What happened? Why isn’t the TV working? Barnacles.”

Adaptation is a small and beautiful thing.

What happened here?

What happened here?

I haven’t posted in a while because I’ve been completely overwhelmed by the whole process.  I’m writing an explanation in hopes that this will jump start me again.  I hear that works.

When I started blog writing over a year ago, I had tight deadlines, daily writing assignments on all kinds of topics.  There was a sense of urgency, I felt a responsibility, and I got it done.  I still get it done.  I write daily for several websites.  In the course of those writing gigs, I also was asked to blog from my unique perspective: the middle aged single mom, three young boys, one autistic, dating after 20 years, perimenopausal, retiring parents, one with Alzheimer’s point of view.  That’s a lot and you’d think there would be tons of material.  But even then, posting once a week, I would get stuck.

Then I lost the self absorbed blog.  Seems the demographic and I didn’t exactly mix.  And I missed it.  I missed the objective musing on this life and the hysterical qualities it had somehow acquired.  And speaking of acquisitions, I acquired in the last few years a boyfriend candidate, a hippie room mate, a really good friend, the belligerence of my absent-almost-ex-husband, an estranged brother, a circle of divorced mom friends, a full time job, a new set of co-workers, an old car, a crazy young guy friend, an old rock star, and a ton of threatening letters from CitiBank wondering when I’m going to pay off my ex-husband’s exorbitant debt.  Yes, bat shit crazy indeed.

So my life is richer than ever.  Almost always almost too much to handle, but one way or another it gets done.  And I’d love to write about it again which is why I started this blog many weeks ago.  But I find trying to pull together my old posts, new essays, ideas on post-it notes, memos to self in the margins of my Franklin, all just a bit daunting.  I found a note “fart on demand”.  I can’t remember for the life of me what that meant.  See, now I have to do research.  Add that to the list.

It’s sort of a big philosophical as well as practical question: how do I get on with it?  [Even at this moment, while I’m trying to think and organize ideas my Calvin is sitting at the desk across from me barking, literally. He’s my 9 year old.]   I think in the end I just have to do it.  My friend Belinda at the office told me yesterday that the only real great advice she got from her years of therapy post divorce was this:  In order to live your life, you must go through it.  So put your head down, aim forward and just go.  So that’s what I’m doing now.  But first, I’m going to give myself a break.  These postings won’t be perfect.  I’m mixing past and present, musing on the future.  Sometimes it won’t make sense.

It really is just like life.

 

A view from the laundromat

A view from the laundromat

Maybe two years ago my clothes dryer died.  At first I was broke and couldn’t afford to get it fixed.  Now, I’m just obstinate.  I could get it fixed, but I rebel against the plumbers that charge a $90 house call fee.  They tell you what’s wrong and how much it will cost.  They then apply the house call fee to the cost of repair.  It guarantees that there is no problem which is going to be less than $90.  What if it’s a loose wire or it can’t be fixed at all?  Really?  $90?  I also discovered that my electric bill went down $20 when I quit drying in the house.

Do the math:  I do two loads of drying a week.  That’s eight a month.  Eight loads for $20 in electricity and who knows in water and gas.  So let’s say clothes drying costs me $25 a month at home.  A fabulous local laundromat charges thirty cents for 10 minutes of drying in a double load dryer.  So I can dry all my clothes in one load for 30 minutes.  That’s $1 a week or $4 a month.  So I save $21 dollars a month by going to the laundromat.  Plus the freakin’ $90 for the house call.

And I have fallen in love with it.  Every Sunday at 4pm I pack up the kids and we drive a few blocks to the Clean Scene.  There’s a pizza place next door that sells $6 cheese pizza.  We go, we start the load, we walk next door and order pizza.  Ten minutes later either Steve or Mario will deliver it to us at the laundromat.  The manager of the laundromat – Andrew – is a really nice young man.  He is the middle of three boys so when my three little guys come in, I think he looks at me like an echo of his own mother.  There is a big screen tv and he’ll usually change it to the Simpson’s or some other kid friendly kind of thing when we get there.  I always offer him pizza and he always very politely declines.

There are lots of regulars and I’ll talk about them another time.  I find it mesmerizing being a part of this community.  It’s an intimate thing: washing your clothes.  It reveals so much about you: what you think about material possessions, how you care for them, personal taste, the types of people in your family, what size bed you have, the level of clean freak that you are.  The relationships are amazing.  Who do you bring to the laundromat?  Why?  There’s a woman that brings her grandmother who is in a wheelchair.  I imagine for the same reason I bring my three kids:  she won’t leave her alone and doesn’t want to get a sitter.  But maybe I’m totally wrong.  Maybe Grandma just loves it the way I do.  You can’t make any assumptions about the people in a laundromat.

It took a while for us to become regulars, but we are, and it’s some kind of weird wonderful.  I wouldn’t give it up.  For one hour on Sundays my kids and I are part of this tenuous, ethereal thing.  It’s a microcommunity.  We come together for such a short time then fall away. Then back again.

Kind of like a tide – or maybe I should say Tide.