The Boyfriend Candidate is really cute but he so exhausts me. We got into a rift. In truth he got into the rift by himself while I painted my toenails.
As I’ve mentioned before, my guy is a problem solver. I don’t mean with the admirable skill of analytically attacking a challenge. I mean he cannot function without a problem. And when there isn’t a problem, he can always make one up.
The problem he was making up was not original: job dissatisfaction. this is one of those unsolvable problems that keeps him invigorated and me drained. On cue, he asks for my advice. I always say the same thing: fix it, live with it, or get out. If you can’t change the company from within, then you must accept one of two things; learn to live with it by appreciating a less than perfect situation OR look for another job. I mean just look around because often times by looking you realize what you have ain’t so bad. But wait, my advice might actually solve his problem leaving him problem-less, so it’s ignored.
He went off on me for being dismissive. I rolled my eyes; I’m so bored with this. He likes being the underdog, the disenfranchised. Having the odds against him helps create focus. So, in fact, he is exactly where he needs to be in order to excel. I told him that too. I’ impressed with his creativity an his ability to manipulate a situation to his advantage (jeez, I even managed a compliment). But I wasn’t getting sucked into some made up drama that he had no real intention of relinquishing. I continued painting my nails and tuned him out.
He looked completely rejected — probably because he was. Only a sick woman would indulge his delusion of insignificance. I’m not that woman.
And he was disappointed. That’s kinda sad.
When I hired my morning sitter to manage the boys before school, I lost touch with my children. The full impact of that really hit home this morning when my sitter had to cancel. She called me at 6am. Her car wouldn’t start. I said ok, no problem, I got it from here.
I hung up and suddenly realized I had no clue. What time should I wake them up? When does school start? Oh jeez, does Calvin have his reading class this morning? What do they eat? What about lunches? Do they take their tennis racquets to school? Is today the tutor?
And I quickly became an anxious wreck. I was convinced at 6:05am I was running late when I was almost certain school didn’t start until some time after 8, or maybe 8:30. The next two hours were hell.
I did everything wrong. I woke them up too early. It was too cold for cold breakfast. They no longer eat oatmeal. They were suppose to have hot chocolate waiting for them on the table. “Elizabeth doesn’t fix it this way. Where’s my marshmallow?”
Jack insisted on waffles. “Mom, I eat three, not two, I’m not a little kid any more.” He grabbed the plate from me and lifted it just high enough to dunk my just washed hair in the syrup. They fought over toothpaste and who got to walk out the front door first.
Finally we load up and hit the road. I turn the first corner and Sam knocked my coffee over, the whole cup into the driver seat where I was sitting in my go to work clothes. Of course there is no towel in the car. That would make too much sense. “Mom, you shouldn’t have put your coffee there. Elizabeth doesn’t drink coffee. Why do you drink coffee?”
It’s a bittersweet thing, losing control. I mean I feel like it should be a bittersweet thing. It’s anything but. I blew kisses to them as they walked away like I did when I was a stay at home mom. Then I sped away as fast as the school zone allowed.
Target, the parking lot. Me and my troops.
“OK,” I say generously, evenly, not betraying my entire lack of confidence in what I’m about to say. “We are going inside Target. We are going to do this fast. I have a headache. We are late. You have been awful for the last hour and it ends now or no movie, no pizza, no fun. We will leave. Understand?”
Three heads bob in affirmation from the backseat.
“OK, hit it.”
We are out of the car and walking with purpose. First stop: Alleve. I really do have a headache. While I am calculating cost per pill for the economy size, they start in. Sam has decided to push over all the pill boxes. Calvin decided to discipline him. I grab the largest box imaginable and escape to the pizze aisle. Cost to keep Calvin from corporally punishing Sam: $15.75.
Here things got weird. All three boys want a different four cheese pizza. Like the difference is nuanced and discernible to a boy who picks his nose. A small skirmish breaks out and Calvin says if we don’t get his pizza he’s not going to eat – ever. Jack says he must have rising crust because the other is flat like cardboard. Sam says he must have the thin smear of tomato sauce between the cheese topping and the crust just like in the picture or he’ll throw up. I can’t take it. All three pizzas go in. Cost to avert vomit: $18.00.
Off to dvds in spite of my threats. This is only because we are going to the Boyfriend Candidate’s house and if the kids don’t have something kid-like to do they will act like themselves and I can’t have that. All the moveis stink and we already have every other G/PG film out there. We end up with two B level movies. Why? Because they are fighting about it, playing two against one games. “We want the owl movie, and two against one. We win.” The older boys taunting the baby. I got both movies. Cost to avoid years of therapy for Sam: $45.
At this point, I want out. I need to get these belligerent, ill-behaved, disrespectful, spiteful angels over to the BC’s house where he’s likely to take one look at all of the chaos and reconsider his relationship with me. The evening has taken a turn for the crazy and it hasn’t started yet.
Going into Target I thought we’d do a quick driveby. $30 and done. Nope. Keeping the peace cost right under $100. A babysitter would have been a helluva lot cheaper. And I might have maintained my sanity.
This Christmas I decided to give my children my office. I’m completely redecorating with desks and bookshelves, lots of space for school projects and floor to ceiling whiteboards. It’s costing more money than I have , but it really has to be done. My kids are struggling at school.
I openly stressed about the money and the transition to my mother over the holidays. She completely missed my bigger issues which makes sense because she is a woman of another generation. My open stressing rendered no support, instead some small condemnation.
My mother suggested I was redecorating because I like to do that sort of thing. She suggested that I not make financial expenditures which could deprive my children. This was merely a luxury I should forego.
She was missing big points and I couldn’t convince her otherwise. She was a stay at home mom most of her life. She married my dad when she was 21 and raising children was all she ever knew.
My kids have me for only a couple of hours every night – for homework, dinner, chat and cuddling. They are now at an age where they need space to open books and make projects. The three of them share a single, small bedroom. They need my office space more than I do. My single, imposing desk which accommodates one will not help the four of us muddle through the three Rs. No question: they need a functioning room and the expense is just one of those things I’m going to have to shoulder.
But the bigger heartache in all this is losing my office. I had an occupation and a profession which gave me satisfaction and independence. I had barely begun marketing myself and enjoying the thrill that comes with building a business. I’m turning my back on that, giving it away to the three people I love the most who depend on me for everything. . . and it hurts. It hurts to realize I’m not that zippy independent professional I once thought I could be. Calling the shots from my seat of power, making things happen and influencing the world. I’m simply not important in that way and handing off my office seals that fate and acknowledges my own impotence in the adult world of movers and shakers. It’s really quite sad. I could feel like a failure except that I see this step as one toward creating success in other areas, other more important areas, like the development of children.
This really is their time. I suspect my time is over, my arc has ended. Whatever chances I had to “be something” have now dissolved except in ways that pertain to or at least include consideration of the kids. I’m really ok with that. It’s an adjustment period certainly, but I feel triumphant in that it was a hard decision. . . and I only hesitated about two days to make it.
I am irked by the holidays. I’d go so far as to say I hate Christmas, but I think God would be angry and I can’t have that.
I have a fake Christmas tree on my front porch. It’s a hand me down from my mother. I already had very nice compact tree for the inside of the house so this big tall one got relegated to outdoor decoration. And amazingly, it gets lots of compliments from the neighbors who enjoy seeing a big 10’ Christmas tree all lit with multicolored lights and metallic bows. Now, not only because of the God thing but also because the neighbors expect it, I have to put that frickin’ tree up every year. I go to war with this tree every December.
I got new lights this year. I thought I would do something nice for it and it might return the favor. About 2000 tiny jewel colored flickering lights in the night. At least for a few hours and then they sputter out. I’ve change the fuses now three times. I’ve changed the way they link together so that they don’t. Each strand has its own independent extension cord. Wires flow from under the tree skirt. Very high tech. I fear I can only keep the lights on for about four hours at a time and then they blow out. I’m so irritated with the outdoor tree I could cry. I don’t even move the ladder back to the garage any more. It’s on standby.
The indoor tree has proved just as uncooperative this year. It’s a conspiracy of ornamentation. It’s a prelit tree which came with now lost guarantees. I stacked it up and plugged it in and several of the strands don’t work this year. So off to Target for replacement lights. A couple hours later and it’s up and down the ladder filling the voids.
My faith in the indoor tree is lost so I won’t decorate it. It’s a naked tree. As soon as I hang something on it, I know a strand will go out and I won’t be able to do anything if balls are on it.
The last few days I walk into the living room, glare at the tree and challenge it to screw me over. Then I hold my breath and plug it in. Whatever relief I may experience when the lights turn on is short-lived as I realize I need to walk to the porch and have a show down with Tree Number Two.
Considering my investment of time, these trees are staying up until Valentine’s Day.