A Tale of Two Mommies

…because more seems excessive…

Tag Archives: grief

Life as Pictures…outings, interactions, and decisions to make

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My husband and I are lousy with planning for the weekends, resulting in doing nothing particularly memorable that’s procrastinated until we are bumping dangerously close to naptime…I experience a lot of guilt about this, yet simultaneously not motivated to change the behavior…the story of my life. Little Man was in too long and behaving like an epic douche all morning. I wasn’t feeling well, and my husband decided at the last minute to whisk Little Man away for some errands. One of those stops to the grocery store, which includes a cookie for the kids for your parenting trouble. These days Little Man is often too excited to nap when his daddy is around, but Warrior Queen usually will, especially if not tempted with older brother wrestling and bed jumping. But, leaving her at home also translates to a meltdown that can easily consume forty-five minutes to an hour when she’s overtired…which she was. But, as the gents headed out, my little girl was rightfully wailing. No way she would fall asleep in the ten minutes until quite time, and I generally felt lousy that essentially Little Man was rewarded for his antics, and a mildly less horrible Warrior Queen remained indoors. I took her out to a local coffee shop where she was allowed to pick whatever single treat her mighty heart desired. She chose chips. I like chips, don’t get me wrong, but why not a cookie? This place has pretty awesome ones that she requests almost every day, especially when I arrive at her school in the afternoon for pick-up.

I had a troublesome day a couple of weeks ago, all the more troubling because the outing is reliably delightful. I took the kids on a Sunday to give my husband a break. One would assume that having the kids all week I’d be bothered to take them an additional day when he’s around. Oddly, in some respects it’s much less stressful because I have my routines and rituals that don’t require compromise with another adult present…I’m weird that way. We were at one of the malls I love that contains a free play area that my kids can occupy themselves at for easily a couple of hours. Little Man is doing better with social things these days, namely he will seek kids his age to play with, and provided the other kids aren’t terrible, it will go well. This day in question was not one of those days.

My son was visually obscured, but I could hear him, and it didn’t seem quite right. He often makes weird noises when he’s excited. It seems to be a type of stimming for him. The noises I heard him making had a similar feel to me, but not something I’ve heard from him. It was strange, though. I could tell it was him, and I’m not sure why. I moseyed over, and there was this other child around his age pretty hard core assaulting him. Little Man is not new to kids getting uncomfortably handsy, and he can usually manage well enough on his own…sort of; this kid seemed to really be hurting and upsetting him. While I couldn’t really get up into the structure well, my voice disrupted what was happening, and my son climbed down.

The thing about Little Man is that he doesn’t process intense emotions well. It’s something I’m trying to work on with him, but this is a big ticket thing that doesn’t come up so often that I feel I’m making a dent. But, my sweet boy stood in front of me with his eyes outlined in red as they get when he’s on the verge of something he doesn’t know what to do with. This instance he didn’t start crying; sometimes tears leak from his face without any other noticeable change in his expressions. It’s moments like these when I know he will start hitting, punching, scratching, and kicking me quite hard. At least two weeks later, and I still have some of the markings on my forearm from his nails that almost drew blood. I’d actually never seen him quite so upset as I had particular moment in time. He was having a tremendous amount of trouble processing his feelings, and his contact with me was hurting quite a bit. I’m not sure what ultimately got him to calm down…not that he really calmed completely. He didn’t want to leave, so we didn’t. He went back into the structure to play, which went well.

Then that kid returned, but I had been standing around for this particular reason. There is something about that other boy. He was mean to others as well; children much younger. I think he scratched another little boy’s face. If I had to guess, that child was in the two-and-a-half-year-old neighborhood to my son’s five years. I couldn’t figure who was in charge of this abusive child that seemed in the five realm as well, but I seemed to have scared him once he attempted to lay into my son again…I’m very scary, even when I’m not terribly mean. All I said was for him to please not hit my kid. He stopped, and left Little Man alone after that. The first time I redirected him for hitting, he ceased in that moment. This second time seemed to finish the behavior altogether. Interestingly, my son was peaceful after this…played fine, and we went home.

I mention this because Little Man is getting picked on at school…maybe? I’m not sure what’s happening, but I don’t like it. There is this one kid that my son has issues with. I don’t think he’s a bad kid, not really. I don’t know that he is especially mean either. That said, I have a focused problem with him, and have since the beginning of the year when similar situations presented themselves. And, frankly, I’m not quite sure how to manage it. Several things bother me about the dynamics that are occurring during this parent supervised outdoor play after school, and I’m left wondering if I’m the only one in the parenting lot of Little Man’s class who holds their kid accountable. That sounds very judgey, and I don’t like thinking it. But, my friend witnessed the situation the other day, and thinks I’m too charitable with regard to the jerk kid’s mom. This is a thing with me. I tend to recognize my possible bias in any given situation and overcompensate by dismissing behaviors more than I should.

The event started with me looking over and witnessing Little Man swatting this child who he towers over…My son doesn’t usually do this kind of thing unprovoked. The problem is most of the time don’t see the precursor to these events, just my kid assaulting someone. But, my friend noticed that this kid looked to have said something mean to Little Man just before. And, as my friend is telling me this, I start seeing this same douchemonger kid becoming abusive while his mom isn’t watching…not that it would matter. She thinks boys will be boys anyway…how nice for her.

I reprimand Little Man for hitting. Hitting isn’t a good answer, as much as I understand that he should defend himself. I approach this from a different angle…a more jaded one. My son is quite tall and very strong. He is also a different kind of kid, the peer is among the cool kids…as are his friends. I’ve seen time and again how these things go down. It’s usually the different kids who bear the brunt of discipline when fighting back…one way or another. As is the friends of this jerk kid have grasped that I will hold Little Man accountable for inappropriate behavior, so they will tattle to me about things he does. I recognized it the first time it happened, and pleased that I under reacted to the statements of whatever “mean” thing Little Man managed knowing there was likely significantly more to the story they weren’t revealing.

But, watching the interaction with his peer rapidly unravel, I lightly redirected Little Man’s hitting, and asked if he was ready to go. He left immediately for the car…that NEVER happens. There is always some degree of teeth pulling to go home. I lasso the ignored Warrior Queen into her car seat, and walk over to Little Man who is sitting on the ground by an open car door. I don’t know what to do with this situation. This can’t be a terrible problem because he isn’t refusing school like he did in the beginning of the year for a spell…due to this same dick kid. I ask him if he’s okay, saying I noticed that kid was not treating him well, and asking if he wanted to talk about it. He balled his fist and hit my foot a couple of times. I responded how I usually do…validating his feelings, but saying I don’t deserve to be hit. In this instance I didn’t have to set the limit that I will walk away if he continues to hurt me. Those two relatively half-assed motions and he stopped. As usual he didn’t want to talk about it, but was peaceful in the car.

Later that night I asked him again if he wanted to discuss the situation; he didn’t. Five minutes later he’s eating a snack at the table suddenly saying, “I love you, Mommy.” Another minute later adding, “so much.” And, I still don’t have an answer for this.

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I’ve needed a good deal of self-care these days. A friend said not long ago that as you get older, things get more complicated as life experiences become more involved. I see that with my college students, particularly one of them. I suppose the most obvious change with the passage of time is that I’m not as angsty as I once was. I’m probably more focused on self-care than your average bear…especially your average-bear-mom-with-small-children. My exercise has been all over the place…my hip bothering me earlier this week…missing exercise is an extraordinarily big deal for me for emotional regulation. I’m isolating these days…I don’t want to, but I also can’t bring myself to be social. I need to force myself because this will not end well. One of my things is that when I’m feeling low or powerless, I tend to do some kind of community service thing…some have a greater impact on my well being than others. Postcarding is a surprisingly profound lift for me that I don’t really understand, though it’s been derailed by sick kids more often than I like. It’s a crazy thing that I volunteer so much that it seems I’m volunteering to do things I didn’t know I signed on for…good causes, but amusing, I guess. Right now I’m in a space of resignation for a couple of things. I have my self-care measures…some I manage more than others. There’s my latest afghan I never quite drag myself off Twitter to work. It’s amazing how much it’s grown. With life decisions made, this project will have a definite home, but I can’t bring myself to work on it, even though I figured this outcome was inevitable…I suppose things aren’t really inevitable until they are. One life lesson that’s strengthened over the years for me is control…or lack thereof. I don’t know that I’ve found a hard and fast answer about things out of my grasp, except an awareness that almost everything is to some degree. That’s actually fairly unsettling. But, I’m middle-aged now…my remarkable, marvelously different boy will likely have a hard path in school…like his mommy on at least one front. I don’t think there is anything I can do about that. Too many other things I can’t change as well. But, I have things like this afghan that is looking beautiful with each colorful row…cheery and festive when I’m not. I’m in a position, for a while anyway, to pursue my bucket/ambition list…things to distract me as I seek to add another prison facility to my list, and a remote chance to make it a longer term thing…It’s important for me to have things to work toward. Most efforts fail and are disappointing, but I never seem to have a shortage of projects for toiling. I have a Warrior Queen who loves my snuggles, and a Little Man who sits next to me on the sofa with his head on my shoulder. I ask him how he slept, and he tells me to, “Focus on making my dinner.” There are so many things I wish I could control, but sometimes the things I can’t are heartbreakingly sweet.

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Trying…

It’s Thanksgiving again…

I’m thankful there are so many establishments around me that make unbelievable chocolate chip cookies. I’m sure they have other confectionery marvels, but I guess I’m a traditionalist…not that I would decline any kind of cookie, but I have my preferences. Along that same line I’m grateful to have a friend that periodically bakes me chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. They always turn out perfectly soft, and the oatmeal makes me feel like I’m doing something positive for my body. On impulse I tried making cookies from scratch a few weeks ago. The baking soda was a relic from quite easily a decade ago…the cookies were flat, but I still managed to eat most of the batch in one day. They didn’t come close to my friend’s cookies, but morally I will not leave any cookies feeling unwanted or unloved…I’m generous in spirit that way.

I’m thankful almost all of my pregnancy losses the past couple of years have been so early that holding weight is the only real bodily disturbance. I’m thankful that my weight gain allows me to look like a drawn 1950s pinup. While I would prefer to fit into things more easily and buy a bra that fits, there are worse outcomes in life.

I’m thankful that I was so close to someone that even a year after he shuffled off this mortal coil I can still envision perfectly how he would respond to my various antics. I often craft texts and emails to him in my mind; before long there is a vivid exchange. I don’t believe in an afterlife. He’s lost to me forever, but I like to think that his memory isn’t. I had another successful class at the prison; perfect attendance once again despite some really screwy lock-ins lately that yielded one random student arriving. I can practically hear his responses to my stories…his laughter. I’m indescribably grateful for that, but I miss him. It isn’t much of a substitute, but I didn’t have these kinds of things when I lost my best friend at sixteen. I wasn’t able to stomach those thoughts, so I pushed everything down trying to escape the effects of losing someone so vital to my existence and happiness. I didn’t though…not really.

I’m thankful my husband is so funny. I’m not very good at communicating things. He sometimes reads this blog, but doesn’t tell me when or comment about the content. He knows I’m having a hard time, but probably not the details. I’m better at sharing things these days, but I never reveal the complete picture to anyone. But, my husband has always loved me for my faults, and no one makes me laugh as he does. I’m grateful that he provides me one of my life’s greatest pleasures: laughter.

I’m thankful for middle-age…really. I love the feeling of what this point in my life quest reveals. I now suddenly have this impenetrable armor I had spent my youth unsuccessfully trying to mold. For so long there were all of these notions I internalized as weakness, but as a middle-aged woman these vulnerabilities and my humanity are what make me strong…less fearful…more joyful. There is no better shield from a foe.

I’m thankful my kids are so snugly. I’m grateful for their chatter and smiles. I’m thankful that they have the capacity to remind me of the best parts of myself. I’m thankful that they will eat my cookies happily even though they are nothing more than a smear on the baking sheet. I’m thankful that while they will eat them, they won’t eat too many.

Oddly, I’m thankful to feel loss in it’s lonely grasping pain. I’m finally ready to attempt justice for the memory of such remarkable people. In my middle-age I’m secure enough to preserve the most hallowed parts of who they were, and continue the legacies I’m sure they never considered. I’m thankful I can give them such honors, and hope it offers me peace at some point.

Currents and Tides

This is a painful post to write. I’d been holding off and hoping that the context of the terrible would be cloaked in good news…but it will never be good news. This will not be a footnote for things turning to something I desperately wish; such is life.

Important details I’m leaving out, but I can speak of sufficient pieces for this to hold some weight for others. I blather on abstractly about the challenge of things, especially in the last year. Some I’ve disclosed, other things I don’t. They are important for me and my life, but I’ve found that this blog is a practice in narrow compartmentalization. This just one more compartment that will sting for…maybe forever…maybe it will pass. I’m too weary to think beyond this moment until the next moment arrives. Eventually the day ends and I pass into a new series of moments and things happening around me that I try to appreciate. I’m intermittently successful, even if the high is short-lived.

It’s funny; I had been so ambivalent about having children, and now from my very core I curse my cowardice. If I’d been more purposed with starting the childbearing process, I’d be able to have a third. I regret that most during most of the passing moments. I try to remind myself that an earlier start would be a different Little Man and Warrior Queen…or maybe neither at all, but it’s not much consolation. I hope some day it is.

But, it’s more cruel feeling than that. We weren’t supposed to expand the family beyond what we have, at least that’s been the official stance. I just lost another pregnancy…another pregnancy I was never supposed to have, and there is some inkling that there were several more before that. I’d kept it hidden, and mostly suppressed it for the duration for various reasons. It’s been a horrible six months of uncertainty; plagued with timelines before heavy bleeding begins…again. The slow emergence of devastation as the quantity increases. I’m middle-aged. It’s to be expected. If we were trying for another, then it would be a brief grief. I’m well practiced at such things…I lost four babies before my pregnancy with Warrior Queen. The hurt of the loss significantly lessened with the baby as it should be growing and on the way.

That won’t be the case this time. I’m certain of it, and I’m left feeling this emptiness and gnawing incomplete thoughts of my family. I hope some day it leaves, but it isn’t so simple. Some women never shake it; or if they do, it’s decades later. It’s hard to explain the phenomenon. It isn’t that I’m unhappy about what I have; something just feels missing.

Walking Little Man to class, and subsequently retrieving him at the end of his school day has been mostly heartbreaking for me…SO many pregnant women…SO many babies…SO many families of three. It’s something I won’t have, but I’m not allowed to ignore it until the information resides in the back of my mind collecting cobwebs and dust. Even the ultrasound tech was in the sunset of her pregnancy. I couldn’t stop staring at her belly as she tried to comfort me sobbing from information I already knew. At another time it would have been amusing, her thick Russian accent and facial expressions hinted at a kind of conversation foreign to her. But, she did a good job; I’m appreciative of her…the doctor didn’t bother to meet with me. I’m bitter about it for no reason because I’m simply bitter.

Right now the pain is oppressive if I think about it…I can’t stop thinking about it. At the moment my time with my kids has a lingering loss of the addition I hoped would work…this time.

The finality has been unfolding this week, but I’ve been consumed for months, five or six maybe? I’ve lost track…maybe more? I’ve become increasingly weary from this process. I’m sleeping, but I wake-up tired…from this, and everything else going on that I’m not mentioning. I’ve been stumbling over and having trouble retrieving words, and doing more than the bare necessities the past few weeks as I’ve pushed myself to take life action.

I’d been realizing what a lousy friend I’ve been the last year. I was confronted with it again yesterday. A friend just had a baby…I didn’t know she was pregnant. I had been so good at keeping up with my various connections over the years, but I’ve let so many lapse in the last one. I’m barely seeing or talking to people; keeping my world small.

The past month my calls to Congress and various other entities have lapsed significantly. I manage once a week maybe? So many important things I need to be present for, but I can’t bring myself to because getting through at this moment requires so much.

My main coping skill, exercise, has dropped significantly too. Happily not entirely, but my legs are heavy and I’m tired…so I rest instead. When I don’t have the motivation, I’ve learned to take the signal seriously.

Last week was the final class at the prison. It was a good class, tough group to reach. Midway through I learned this was a group of men who mostly struggle to complete programs. My attendance was phenomenal; perfect or one absence for the duration. There are no longer as many people in my life who get that bit of data, so it’s that much more sadness. But, it’s old sadness; I’m used to its weight so that I hardly notice anymore. I started a new group this week; it’s a good group. The first class had been dodgy for me with my other runs, but this time I think I got it right…If they show next week, I’ll know for sure. I mention this because I left feeling a high I needed, and the float persisted on the ride home. No real thoughts flooding my mind; I simply felt good. For once in my life I didn’t overthink it. It faded when I entered my house; a slow seep before I’m back to that nagging sadness. But, it can’t be so bad because I’m writing even if the content isn’t so cheery. Once again I didn’t make my calls, but maybe I’ll get something else done.

My doctor went over the various tests; everything is normal and nothing is wrong. At the end she paused; in kindness said she’s concerned. I don’t look good. I know what she means. I don’t know that I’ve seen friends for a while, especially in the last few weeks when things have been so horrible.

This doesn’t need a label, nor will this feeling be forever. I’ve encountered my fair share of bad things, some surpassing this batch of terrible. At some point things will be better…eventually. But, right now it’s not.

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