Friday, September 1, 2017

My grandma died today.

I've read accounts of people who were with loved ones at the time of death. It's supposed to be this peaceful, quiet last sigh where everyone is sad together but knows their loved one has moved on, guided by family and friends who preceded them to the afterlife. Everyone then continues with their lives, comforted through their grief, knowing that it will all be okay, fine, and dandy and the rest of us will feel that way, too.

I'll tell you what it was like for me.

Terrifying. Sweet. Horrible. Tender, yet gut-wrenching.

Friday, October 14, 2016

The Art of Drama

When I was in High School, I lettered in Drama. I loved the the soliloquy the best. Getting into someone else's head and expressing that emotion from the depths of one soul was one of the things that got me through high school. I loved that. It was my escape.

My children also are drawn to theatre and drama. It makes me happy to see them on stage singing, acting, getting to be someone else for a while.

That's the happy kind of drama. I LIKE that kind of drama.

And then there's the other kind of drama. The kind that tears and rips at your soul, trying to hurt your everything - intentionally or not.  I usually think it's intentional because somewhere behind that drama lurks selfishness or extreme insecurity - or both.

This week, month, no, last couple of months has been drama filled. And not with the good kind.

Firstly, there's a wedding coming up in a day and a half. My 2nd daughter is getting married, and she has put a TON of effort into planning, crafting, and making sure everything is done and prepared on time. Her fiance works with her, and they take each other's opinions and feelings into account. Choosing the venue for the ceremony was a joint decision. The date of the wedding was a joint decision. The invitations were approved by him, while she picked the pictures. I could go on and on.

I'm proud that they're working as a team.

I want to scream in frustration at the drama surrounding the whole thing. It's a wedding. It's a celebration of two people coming together and pledging their lives to each other. And, most importantly - to me - is that it's my daughter's wedding. It's HER day. And someone else is trying to make it about them.

Someone else is making her life miserable and instead of looking forward to this, we're all just hoping to survive it and get it overwith. Because drama. This other person will not stop with the temper tantrums (I am not kiddng. Adult temper tantrums) or the whining. Neither my daughter or her fiance should have to deal with that. The hardest part is that her fiance is the one directly being whined to.

I'd love to shout their name and disparage them to the internet, but I won't. But I'm angry and protective of my daughter because someone else is trying to steal her day. These feelings are making me extremely anxious, and I dread having to do anything wedding related now.

This wedding is something that I don't want other people to whine to me about. My daughter can complain to me about it, but I am not able to handle hearing other people complain about times, dates, or location. It's two days away. RSVP or not, just show up or don't show up at this point. Don't whine to me about it. I cannot handle it, and I don't want to hear it. It's happening whether anyone wants it to or not.

Personally? I want this wedding to happen. These two make each other deliriously happy. He treats her with respect and honor - the way I would wish for any man to treat one of my daughters. She loves him and values his opinion. She takes his feelings into account when making any decision. I am kind of jealous of their relationship. (Ok, hers and my older daughters. Both have husbands who treat them as precious and valued partners.)

Secondly: My husband lost his job a couple of months ago. Now, usually this means tightening the belt and getting through the job hunt. But it's been more drama filled than I can handle. I overreact and freak out about the food in the house. Or lack thereof. For a couple of weeks there I would look at the fridge in despair, trying so very hard not to revert to childhood.

And the rent. Oh my goodness the rent. I do not want to lose my house. For the last two months, our landlords have been extremely gracious in letting the rent be late. They are not the cause of drama, I am. I had to cut my hours at work because the stress was making me inefficient at my job. I feel ineffective at life. I feel like I should be stepping up and fixing the situation, but I am emotionally and chemically unable to succeed at that. But I feel obligated and guilty that I can't fulfill that obligation.

Thirdly: This parenthood thing. Drama. My adult children don't want to confide in me. It hurts. Being put on the 'direct to voice mail' and 'no return text' list makes my heart hurt. I honestly don't know what I've done. I would do my best to rectify it if I could, but I simply don't know. And that feels like drama to me.

My smaller children feel the stress in the household and are acting it out. And I want to cry because more and more they are emulating the short fuse tempers, the harsh words, and the sometimes very mean things that they've heard from their father. Well, I have a temper and super grumpy moments, too, but ... well, maybe I am just as mean? I certainly hope not. But it's hard to see this behavior in my children.

It's even worse given the fact that my 9yo has become terrified of the weather. Any wind, rain, thunder, anything, and she is reduced to a terrified ball of tears and worry. There is no logic to fear, and she won't listen to the logic and comforting words that I can think of to say, hug, reassure.

I can't say she's needlessly worried, considering that there was a tornado in our area a couple of weeks ago. There were some massive thunder storms a few weeks prior to the tornado, some rumbles that shook the house - some lightning flashes that were right above our house and startled all of us.

Fourth: Well, I am a drama queen myself. I feel something and I over-feel it. I recognize the hurt that is under my angry emotions, and I feel both so powerfully that at times I can only send myself to bed and hope the feelings go away. The pity parties over what I don't have and feel like I will never have. The frustration at having so many skills and talents and not being able to fully utilize them anymore. I am angry with myself for feeling this way, because I know very well that I draw on those skills in many different aspects of my life, even though I don't use them 40 hours a week.

I'm angry that I need a doctor's note to prove that I am not capable of working more than part time. And that I have to repeat that it's not temporary. My BiPolar disorder is not going to just go away. Neither is the anxiety. I do what I can to manage it. I do hard things, but it's NOT GOING AWAY.

And... there's me being dramatic. This morning I had to have a meeting with an employment counselor because we had to ask for state help. It's humiliating and awful, but it is what it is. She wants me to be able to work 30 hours a week, and given my management, training, and degrees, I should be able to find work. Yeah. I know that. I HAD management jobs before I became a stay at home mom.

Yes, some days I will admit are simply lazy days. And some days are "hey, I made it out of bed today" Today is an "I need chocolate and lots of it because I'm an emotional ball of cry" day. Today I hate life. Everything - every single stressor, obligation, expectation, and hurt feels like it is weighing me down.

I'm supposed to read this certain thing daily. I do, but today it just made me angry. I'm supposed to pray daily. Today I don't know how to have a conversation with god and sit there for five minutes and listen to him. I don't want to listen. I just want Him to fix things. I know, of course, that's not how life works, but that's how I want it right now.  I want my children comforted, at peace. If they don't want that comfort from me, or if I'm unable to say the right words and offer the right things, that they can get that comfort and peace from some source. Any good source. I wish it were me, but I don't always get my way.

So. whine, whine, whine, drama drama drama. I'm so picked on, me me me.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

It was my birthday, so I had thoughts

43 years ago at 12:48 pm on the 18th of June, my mother gave birth after 12 hours of labor.

Completely natural: no pain meds, no husband in the room. In labor. For twelve hours. All to bring me into the world.

12 hours may seem like a breeze to those who have horror stories, but to me the idea of being in labor for twelve hours makes me quiver in fear. The idea of doing it without pain meds??  AACK.

Me, I had one child completely natural whose labor & delivery lasted all of 20 minutes. I was convinced I was going to die, that the nurses were trying to kill me, and vowed to never, ever, ever, EVER have a child without an epidural. In fact, I swore on tape I would never have another child because that experience sucked so bad. I STILL remember the pain. (I had four more kids, but it took almost 5 years before the next one came.)

So 12 hours of labor? Oh heck ya, my mom is a super hero!!

What did she get for all that hard work? One horrendously ugly baby.  I'm not even joking. Teensy new little me was NOT pretty.  I weighed in at exactly 7lbs. Not exactly small, not exactly large, but I was the largest of the children she's had.

See??  Not cute.

My extended family insists I was cute as can be, but that's because I was the first grandchild and they're completely biased.  Now, maybe I could have been considered cute at three months?

Umnmm, maybe. If you're feeling generous. 

By the time I was five, I was definitely cute.

Aaaand then I ruined it by cutting my hair:

Not only did my mother get an ugly baby, but she got a tomboy who hated wearing dresses and wanted nothing to do with being a princess or sparkly. Oh that made her sad. (I provided her with some very sparkly and princessy granddaughters, though.)  I did, however, love dolls. The smaller and more miniature the better, but dolls of all sizes made me happy and she loved sitting with me to dress them up and do their hair. 

I should probably also note one other thing.  In addition to being as reckless and tomboyish as possible, I hated having my hair done. Hated it. Allowing ribbons or braids or anything was a battle that was only won if my dad got involved. I would purposely lose my hair brush just so she'd leave my hair alone. (Can you say snarls? Oh yeah, snarls)

In addition to fighting over hair, I had three brothers. As the oldest child, and only girl, I was determined to keep up with them. I raced my bike, jumped off ramps, flew down steep hills on roller skates and skateboards just as fearlessly (well, maybe not as fearlessly) as they did.

There were some pretty deep ditches where we lived, and we would bike down one side and up the other to see who could do it and land perfectly. Pretty much our version of the x-games but on dirt.  There was one day my brother and I were doing the biking down/up/down in the big ditch and we both ended up crashing. The day before school pictures.

Aren't we just the cutest pair? We had even more scrapes and bruises on elbows, knees, hands, etc. Were we sorry about our wrecks? Heck no! My mom, however, sighed and fretted over these pictures. I can't really blame her. At least my brother is cute!

Now... the next couple of pictures might not mean a whole lot to you, but when I saw these pictures I wondered who that girl was. It took a while before I realized that since those were my brothers, my mother, and my grandparents, then that too skinny girl had to be me. I was always hungry. There was never enough food in the house unless we were visiting grandparents.

We sure were a happy lot. /snort  

My best friend in the whole wide world, Kelly, had shared her ice-cream cone with me!!!  Oh it was yummy. I can still remember the taste of the strawberry ice-cream and the feel of the sun on my face. Mom snapped this picture. Probably because I was wearing pink. --At that point, I wore what fit because that was all we had. Being picky wasn't an option.

I don't know if you can tell, but my brothers and I were smooshed into one bedroom. I had the rollaway bed which folded up. My brothers had the bunk beds with trundle. In order to have room to play, we'd fold up my bed and roll the trundle under. I can't count how many times I pinched my fingers on the metal latch that kept my bed together when I folded it up. I never minded, though, I had a cool bed compared to everyone else.

Mom , bless her heart, did the very best she could to wrangle her very hyper, very curious, and very rowdy children. I think the only peace she had was when we slept.

When I was in Jr. High, I was snotty, bratty, and horribly disrespectful to my mother. We fought over everything. One time she took the hinges off my door because I'd blocked it off with a chair. I hadn't wanted to talk to her or do whatever chore it was she had in mind for me. -- My brothers tease me endlessly about this whenever we get together --  I grew out of whatever teenage angsty anger that was, and wow do I regret how I treated my mother. (insert jr. high pic here.)

Thankfully I did grow up. Here's my High School self, who grew out of awkward and into kinda pretty.  I love this picture. I think it captures my feisty, snarky, impish, intelligent, and playful traits.
Obviously, six children and nearly 30 years later, I do not look like my high school self anymore. However, my face and height are pretty much the same. I think. 

Today mom and I exchange jewelry; she fusses over my princess daughters who love sparkles and pink. She loves on the others, taking pride in their accomplishments, and sits on the floor to play with my little ones and her great-grandchild. 

She's pretty awesome. 

Thus my awe at her 12 hours of labor for me. I took the longest for her to birth, she was the sickest with me, and, oh, did I mention that I had colic? yeah. I cried ALL the time until I was 9 months old. 

She deserves flowers every year on June 18th, a certificate from Daryl Hoole and Dr Laura (two of her heroes) applauding her efforts to feed and clothe us, and a big gold star that allows her automatic entry into heaven.

Friday, June 17, 2016


Today was my psychiatrist appointment.

In the past few months since the last time I saw him, I've had a drunk day, some pretty low days where it was a giant effort just to get out of bed, and some normal I'm fine days.

I was reluctant to go see him because I did not want to report on the homework assignment he gave me the last time.

Homework: Approach my marriage like I approach Christmas. Figure out a way to make it fun.

Yeah, I did not like that. He told me my face was going to stick in the expression I was making.

When I reported back to him today, I let him know flat out that completing that assignment was flat out impossible. How in the hell does one make verbal abuse fun????  Is that even possible? I'm thinking whoever managed to do it would be some kind of masochist.  Who in their right mind likes to be criticized and made to feel 2 inches tall and stupid constantly??  How is that fun?

It's bad enough that my daughter has moved out for the rest of the summer and moved in with her fiance. I certainly don't blame her. She deserves to live in an environment where she feels safe and loved and allowed to make mistakes without a huge and loud freak-out session.

So... yeah. I tossed that homework aside and did something else. Bought some books. Had a frank conversation with Mr. Grumpster. Started reading. Told him he needed to get some therapy. He doesn't believe me - he thinks it's just a temper thing. It's not. It's a 'watch what words come out of your mouth' thing. It's a 'stop blaming everyone for not being perfect' thing.  It's a 'do you love this person more than you love ' thing. 

My doctor asked about my energy levels, my ability to focus, my appetite, and on a scale of  1-10 with 10 being the worst, where would I rate my depression. Oh, and any thoughts of suicide. (I can at least say no to that one.)

He feels that my stress levels are contributing to my need for constant sleep and low everything else. I'm pretty sure he's right. He also says that my 'drunk' moments are my brain's version of mania. They're tiny in comparison to regular bi-polar, but they're mania all the same. So... yay. I've gotten stressed enough that mania is back in the works.

I love my doctor because he's very frank with me. He looked at me and said, "We could change up your meds, but you're extremely sensitive to side effects. Not only that, but taking a pill is not going to fix your stress levels at home."

That is true. Messing around with the chemicals in my brain and my body causes all kinds of issues. Right now I'm totally fine with dealing with the nausea/dry-heaving caused by the Effexor. The side effects of the other stuff I've been on so far were soooooo not worth it.

He said the following were my options.

* Therapy - for me. If nothing else, I need someone to talk to in order to face and handle the stress of my marriage and coping skills.  And this was not a suggestion, it was something he said I NEED to do. Not really an option if I want to feel better instead of continually getting worse.

* Couples therapy. I don't know if hubster's willing to do that. He's not even willing to talk to a therapist on his own.

* Um... there was a third thing, but I've forgotten it.

Money might be tight, but I am going to spend the $90/month on the therapist visits. She's worth it, she's amazing, and even though I should probably see her more often than once a month, it's better than nothing.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

To-Do list

I am feeling overwhelmed by the things on my to-do list. Some are more important than others. Some are things I *want* to do vs things I *need* to do.

Today they all seem to be bombarding me at once.  Therefore, I'm going to type them all out so that maybe I can look at them instead of having them roll around in my brain demanding attention.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Save The Date!

I did manage to complete this project for my daughter! Yay!

Here are the three options I made for them. She and her fiance will take their favorite and mail out 300 of them to their closest friends and family.  :)

Friday, June 10, 2016


Family dynamics are so different on each side of my family.

The side I primarily grew up with and spent the most time with are very tight knit. We're there for each other, we see each others' warts and spend time together anyway. There's a knowledge that if there's a problem, any one of us will step up and help the other.

Well, maybe I'm wearing rose-colored glasses about it, but that's how I feel my family works. That's always been my experience.

Now, the other side of my family has completely different dynamics. They aren't close-knit at all. I have recently connected with the few relatives I have left on that side and have enveloped them in my heart, whether they want me to or not. I have memories of them from my childhood that are happy and fun.

I know life happens. I know 30+ years have happened since I have seen these folks. I have no idea what has gone on in the details of their lives, what choices they made, what hardships they suffered, or what crosses they bear.

I do know that I love them. Probably more-so because I can see and feel their pain, even though they've not discussed it with me.

Today I saw a comment on one of these relative's FB posts that horrified and broke my heart. My 7yo asked me why I was crying, and all I could say was that I read something that made me sad.

Now, I have no clue what happened in their past. I have no idea what the child or parent went through. I completely understand child/parent trials, and struggle myself with forgiving past hurts. "hurt" being a serious understatement, but I'm not getting into that.

Part of my heart being horrified was the fact that I cannot fathom or understand treating a parent so awfully in public for the world to see. Part was the venom bitten out in such a brazen and unforgiving way that I can't wrap my head around it.


Why do people do this?

Why, if you feel someone is negative and constantly bringing you down, do you interact with them on social media? Why even connect with them there? The folks I have issues with I may not be able to "unfriend" on FB because I don't want to cause ripples, but I unfollow their feeds so I don't feel invaded or that my vulnerabilities are being threatened. And if I don't like their comments on my feed, I delete them.

Now, granted, those are my choices. And I would never, ever, leave inflammatory comments designed to bring someone to tears and humiliate them in front of the entire world. That only serves to make *me* look like an inconsiderate ass.

I truly don't understand.

Emotional wounds cut deep, bleed for a long time, and take years to begin to heal. I am well aware of this. But, why share those hurts with the world? Why? It makes me want to wrap the attacked person in a large warm fuzzy hug and let them know that I love them in spite of all their imperfections.

I'm not this way with everyone. There are a few people I've given my heart to who have smashed it to bits, and I can't trust them with it anymore. It doesn't mean I don't care, but it does mean that I hold myself aloof  let someone else do the hugging and healing for them.

But the public trashing, swearing, and tearing down of a relative? It hurts to read it. It hurts to know that people feel it's right and ok to treat other people so poorly.

Why is it acceptable? And why do they tear their own wounds even more open by lashing out at others? It doesn't help heal, it doesn't make anyone feel better; it simply increases the pain and the bloody mess.

They may not reconcile. I hurt for them. I understand how a child can feel that way; I fully expected my oldest to resent me and hate me after the post-partum years when she had to play mother and I didn't function at all. She had to take on more responsibility than any teenager should have.

But so help me, I wish I could fix it. I wish I could wrap them in hugs and let them know they're lovable no matter what.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Rose Bushes Are Snobs

I am not the world's greatest yard person. I claim to love yardwork, but getting myself out there to actually DO it is something else entirely.

Due to city ordinances about weed height, I have been trying to clear up the front sidewalk area that has grown without restraint since spring happened.

While weeding, the stickers and flag grass wanted to complain and fight about being uprooted. I reminded them that they knew good and well that they were just going to grow back, and to suck it up.  They shrugged and let me go on with it.

In the back yard, however, it's a completely different story with the rose bush. The homeowners planted a rose bush in a corner next to the patio and the gate that leads from the back yard to the front. I'm not sure why they picked that location, but whatever. The white roses are gorgeous when they bloom.

The thorns, however, are another matter entirely. They are not small, and they are extremely sharp.

I had a talk with this bush today. I informed it that it was growing into my children's play space, and that I needed it to bush out in the other direction, please. Also, it would be great if it would cooperate so we didn't get scratched to bits getting the lawn mower from front to back.

Needless to say, the Rose bush felt like I was being unreasonable. How DARE I snip and trim at it. How DARE I prune off dead stalks. It is a rose bush, and deserves to use whatever space it wants.

I insisted that it be socially acceptable and child friendly. It fought back. I won, but did not come out unscathed.

The wild roses that grow along my fence are much more reasonable. They have smaller blooms, but they are so much nicer and easier to get along with. They're still somewhat snobby, but at least they deign to allow me to trim them when I ask.

Blackberries are eager to please, lilacs are more than willing to take direction, and honeysuckle is sweet no matter what.

Roses, however, are snobs.

Monday, May 9, 2016


Yesterday was Mother's Day. I would like to note that I am extremely grateful for my mother and all the mother figures in my life. I love them all dearly.

My kids gave me the sweetest and funniest gifts. I love that my two youngest wanted to sit in my lap and hug on me all day. My 16yo made pancakes several times. My two oldest sent me some long and beautiful texts.

--bit of a self-pity party, so read on at your own risk--

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Little Bit Sentimental

Ok, a LOT sentimental.

My father-in-law made this shelf for my 9yo daughter. Why? Because she asked.  She wanted/needed a shelf to put her Equestria Girls High School on with shelves underneath to hold the dolls and ponies and other toys she might want to play with.

She decided how tall and wide she wanted it, helped measure, wrote down all the numbers, and then helped text the information to grandpa.

Grandpa used leftover and reclaimed wood to make this for her:

Look at that. This wasn't some super-fast thrown together shelf. No, he cared about the materials he chose. He used the best parts of the reclaimed wood, stripped it down to the beauty under the old ugly veneer, and put together this incredible piece of furniture for a nine year-old. For her toys.

Because she asked and because he loves her.

Not only was he happy to build it for her, but he took the time to show both her and myself how he was building it, what tools he was using, and how he was putting it all together.

This dad knows how to be a dad. This grandpa knows how to be a grandpa.

When I do wood projects, he shows me how to use the proper tools and lets me have at it. I now know how to use a drill press, select proper routing bits, use a hand router as well as a routing table, use a dremel and its various bits, as well as circular saws, jigsaws, and other machinery that I can't remember the names of. I love it so much that I started receiving power tools for Christmas.

I will never claim to be a master craftsman or carpenter, but I feel comfortable with the big kid toys and have absolute confidence that if I go to him with a question, he will be more than happy to answer it and show me how to do it.

Dad. Father-in-law. Grandpa.

These are things most people take for granted, but it means the world to me that he shows up to my children's weddings, blessings, baptisms, etc. When they tell him they're in a play or have a rugby game, he tries to be there. He's excited for his grandkids' achievements, endeavors, and lives. He's INTERESTED in them.

He doesn't just claim to be interested, he actively cares. For Christmas, he called and asked what the kids might want that he could build, and then had the items built and ready for Christmas. He follows through.

He builds special race cars, vintage cars, and trucks for his grandsons. -- don't get all feminist on me, because I guarantee that if one of his granddaughters wanted a car, he'd build one for them, too.

When my daughter's son was born, he had a handmade vehicle from Great-Grandpa V waiting for him.

He doesn't wait for us to contact him, he asks about things, calls or texts, and remembers birthdays. He initiates contact if we forget or overlook things.

He was there when I miscarried twins, holding me as I sobbed on his shoulder. He then went across the street to his friends who run an alternative funeral home and asked the wife to come over. She took the little 14 week old babies and cremated them, bringing me the ashes in a beautiful little porcelain Angel nick-nack so that I could have closure.

He CARES; he's made me feel like one of his own daughters.

Now, please don't think my mother-in-law isn't active in my kids' lives. She definitely is. Perhaps I take that for granted because I've seen/had that example from my own mother. She cares and loves her grandkids as fiercely as she loves her kids.

But the dad thing-- You have no idea how much that means. I can't explain. Well... I could, but it's not right to put all that out here. Just know that for me, having a dad show up, to be there, to be involved. To WANT to include me and teach me the hands on things, not caring that I'm a girl, well, it's a very big deal to me.

This Grandpa came to my oldest daughter's wedding (the oldest grandchild, just FYI.) He was early and ready for my son's blessing (my ONLY son, so it was a very big deal to me that I'd finally had a boy after five girls.)  Ok, so Grandpa V was excited because his only son had finally a son to carry on the name. But still, he was there and he was just as excited and happy as we were.

He was there. He came. And it means the world to me that he's come to everything important to us or to his grandkids - even things that I didn't think were a big deal.

I will forever be grateful that I married into such incredible parents.