Friday, September 9, 2011

The Next Larry Flynt?

Since the beginning of time, parents day dream about what their children will do for a living.  Will they be a doctor, police officer, tycoon or even a preacher.  A mother can only hope.  The Babe wanted to see want this whole kindergarten thing was about that brother keeps talking about.  In an effort to placate his curiosity, The Dad took The Babe to lunch with The Kindergartner the other day.  For those that are not privy to the inner workings of the elementary school lunch room these days, it hasn't changed since you were there.  Apparently The Dad was sitting with his boys at a long narrow lunch room table with about 20 other kindergarten aged kids the other day.  On this particular day, the lunch time convo steered toward the topic of movies.  In an attempt to include The Babe in the lunch time banter, a boy asked The Babe what kind of movies he liked to watch.  The Babe, without hesitation, looked at that boy and told him "I like movies that show ladies private parts".


The Dad seems to think The Babe forgot The Dad was present.  As the table was recovering from the response to The Babe's declaration (apparently the group thought this was quite hilarious), The Dad looked at The Babe with surprise (what the...where...who...).  The Babe knew he was busted.  As his eyes welled up with tears he placed his head in his hands.

I got a call from The Dad the night of what I now call the "incident".  Although we were able to laugh about it, and I was able to say "better you than me", I had a number of thoughts swirling in my head:

  • This is not one of those funny kid stories I can retell.  Think about it; if I retell this story people will wonder what in the hell I am letting my kids watch on TV.

  • Why on earth would he say that?  Has he seen movies like this.  With whom?  Where?

  • Well, I guess I know what he will do for a living.  Yay me...lifetime supply of adult entertainment.  As long as he is happy I guess.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

Everything I need to know, I learned on the first day of Kindergarten

Last week I experienced one of many firsts; the first born started Kindergarten.  As you can imagine, it was a very exciting day for all of us.  The Kindergartner didn't think it was all that big of a deal really.  After all, he had been going to "school" for some time now.  In his mind, it was just a new building and new teacher.  The kid was calm, cool and collected.

The Kindergartner and I entered the cafeteria at the school with The Dad.  We were met by the soon to be step-mom and her daughter that is in fifth grade at the same school.  This was basically command central.  The principal welcomed all the new and returning students and offered some general info.  As The Dad and I walked The Kindergartner to his classroom, The Step Mom and Step Sis walked behind us.  The Dad and I held hands with The Kindergartner, at which time he tried to get The Dad and I to hold hands.  Ugh.  I play it off with desensitizing statements like "gross, your dad has cooties", and "that is The Step Mom's hand to hold, not mine".

We enter the classroom together and begin the transition.  Pictures, hugs, "I'm so proud of you", "have a great day".  The usual.  I asked The Dad if he would like me to take a picture of the three of them together.  He accepts.  He takes one of me and my big kid.  We all say goodbye and go our separate ways.

I had heard stories about moms and dads that get emotional on the first day of school for their first born.  I understand why.  I, however, was not emotional during this transitional moment.  That is, not until I got in the car to go to work.  It wasn't like someone turned on the facet full speed.  It was more like when you turn off the facet but you still have a slow drip.  As I sat in the parking lot of the school, I realized something.  I realized I was doing something right.    The Kindergartner has a lot of people in his life that love him and want what's best for him.  Although it sucks to see him loving on another woman like he does The Step Mom, it illustrates that he knows he can love both of us.  We were all there for him on his big day.  Together. Co-parenting.  I am not sure with whom I was more proud, The Kindergartner or us.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

She is more precious than rubies. Nothing you desire compares with her.*

I figured it would be a lot like the last 364 days.  Better yet, I hoped it would be like the last 364 days.  I hoped  3.15 would not impact me any differently than every other day since my mother died.  I couldn’t imagine missing her any more than the day before, or the one before that.  For example, my sister sent me a text the night before 3.15 and asked if I was thinking about mom.  I am still curious what answer she was expecting.  Sis, if you are reading, here is your answer.  What the @#!^& else would I be doing?  I think about her every day for god’s sake!

Everyone handles these situations differently.  I am not the type to get down in the well, or better yet, get a bottle of wine and ball up in the fetal position in a dark corner.  I got up and went to work like I do every day, like I attempted to do 3.15 last year.

I can remember every detail of that day.  I wore a sea foam green mock turtle neck with tan pants.  I can remember thinking, as I walked to the car that morning, I should have worn heels with those pants because they are just long enough to drag the ground a bit with the ballet flats I chose.  However, I was in a hurry to get the boys to their grandma’s and did not have time to change.

They boys go to their grandma’s every Monday.  They play with their cousins and at the end of the day the whole family comes together for a meal.  This has been a tradition for about five years now and even after the divorce I made sure the boys get to maintain this tradition, so they are with their dad on Monday nights.

I took the boys inside, gave hugs and kisses to them and headed back to my car.  One missed call.  From my step-dad.  No message.  It was 7:40 AM CT.  I knew I needed to remember the time.  I called him back knowing exactly what I was going to hear.  After all, we had all been waiting for this day.  Mom had been in so much pain since they found her brain tumor in January that we all prayed she would find peace.  My mom, being the tenacious woman I love, had things to do and say before she was ready to take her eternal sleep though.  On 3.15.10 she had done all she needed to do and said all she needed to say.  After taking her morning meds and talking with my step dad briefly, she closed her eyes for the last time.  My step-dad described to me, the details of the morning.  We cried together for a moment and I got busy.  First I called my sister, then my dad, then a close friend.

I went back inside the home of my former in-laws and before I could get the words out of my mouth, my former mother-in-law spoke for me.  Having lost a parent herself and knowing the situation, she could apparently read my face.  I later learned the boys were a little confused and in the afternoon had to clarify with their grandma that it was in fact their Nana that went to live with Jesus, and not mommy.

I think about my mother every day.  Although I don’t get to see her or speak to her daily like I would prefer, she has eternal life.  She is with me everywhere I go and softly encourages and motivates in all I do.  I can still see her face and hear her voice as if I saw her yesterday.  On 3.15.10, it felt like I had just seen her the day before.  On 3.15.11 it felt like I just got the phone call from my step-dad.

Proverbs 3:15

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Limping In A Winter Wonderland

patella-fig1I dread this time of year. For many reasons. It is as if Father Time is hell bent on getting to, and then through the fourth quarter while the rest of us are merely innocent bystanders as we slide into the home plate known as New Year’s Day.

It seems like we all get so distracted by getting through the holidays, we completely lose sight of what is important. Even with months of warning, the fourth quarter “sneaks up on me” every year. How many years do I have to live before I will plan better? How many years will I find myself saying “I can’t believe it is almost Halloween”, “Thanksgiving”, and finally “Christmas”.

Nearly a decade ago, I vowed I would not enter Wal-Mart between Halloween and the New Year. I doubt I need to explain the rationale behind this vow but that won't stop me.  It all started one year I was almost assaulted at the Wal-Mart in Roeland Park Kansas during the season of “giving”. That woman was giving all right. She was giving me the what-for when I had the last of an item that she wanted. In addition, the carts are too big and the aisles are too small. To put it simply, there is not enough room for “both” of us there. At this point, people in my life have gotten used to stocking stuffers from the gas station by now.

To add to my bah-hum-bug attitude, I despise cold weather. This is a little more than my constant inner debate with myself about why I moved from the fabulous sunshine state. This is the dread I feel anticipating the first cold snap. The dread I feel from my left ankle all the way to my left hip.

When I was first diagnosed with RA in 2005 I laughed. Don’t get me wrong, I think the world of my orthopedic surgeon and my rheumatologist. I just thought they had the wrong girl, or the wrong chart. Over the years however, I have slowly conceded, much like Wal-Mart in Roeland Park.

I need to make something clear. My pain is nothing compared to some; but it can be everything to me. My first flare up has been the worst to date. I can recall begging Brad to take me to the hospital and have them do something. Anything. At my lowest point, I swore amputation was not out of the question. Looking back, I realize I was being dramatic. In my defense though, my knee was a big grapefruit. A big, black grapefruit.

The worst part about my version of RA is the waiting period; those eight blissful months between “potential” flareups. On the flip side though, their timing and characteristics are pretty predictable, so I can prepare myself.

While I wait in wonder this season, I will focus on stuffing stockings with goodies for the boys and not stuffing a brace with what is left of my left knee.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Twitter makes me love those I haven't met. Facebook makes me hate those I know in real life.

chickennarcissisticIf you are anything like me, you have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I fought it as long as I could and finally joined back in 2008. As Facebook evolved, I began to use it more and more for work while managing various business pages. What annoys me about Facebook is the constant self-promotion by those that obviously need affirmation that they are attractive, smart, or funny. I also get a little irked when married people communicate with each other on their respective "walls". Can you not walk down the hall or into the kitchen and tell your partner what you need to say? Is it really necessary to piss so much on your territory that I can smell it on my computer?

I read an article recently about the amount of narcissism on Facebook. The article says "Narcissistic tendencies in many people fuels a need to have a large group of 'friends' link to their pages and many of these people accept cyber-friends that they don’t even know" . I know you have a few of what I like to call “friend whores” on your list of “friends”. They will friend everyone they meet; no one is exempt from their reach. From grocery store lines to the shower at the gym, they will “friend” you.

Which brings up something else to consider. Do you think Facebook has devalued the term “friend”? Sure, I know all of the people on my Facebook page. Some I have known nearly all my life and some are new acquaintances. Some only keep up with my through Facebook and others I see on a regular basis and have a deeper understanding of the person I am today.

Another article I read notes for the average narcissist, Facebook "offers a gateway for hundreds of shallow relationships and emotionally detached communication."; More importantly for this study, social networking in general allows the user a great deal of control over how he or she is presented to and perceived by peers and other users.

Maybe this is why I do not like Facebook. Maybe it is because I am comfortable in my own skin and want others to feel the same way. It takes a lot of time and effort to create and maintain the perception people are presenting on Facebook.  I don't think I could maintain that facade very long without losing it on some level.  I would probably have to lock myself up in my house due to fear that I might run in to someone in real life that would call me out.  Frankly I prefer real people that admit they are not perfect because I certainly am not.  The only perfect person I know of died on a cross.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.

throwingstonesSome of my fellow “Christians” are disappointing me. Again. This time the subject is divorced women. Why is it, when I go to church the married women treat me as if I am not invited to the party? Have any of you divorced women experienced this? You know what I am talking about. Just because I am divorced does not mean I want your husband. I literally had a woman tell me they were not comfortable hanging out anymore because I am a threat to them now. Do their husbands tell divorced dads the same thing? Do their husbands say to their divorced friends, “dude, we can’t hang out anymore because I am afraid you are going to snatch my wife from me”. Adding to my frustration is when the person throwing the stones has been DIVORCED too!

Now, for some reason when a single dad enters church, or any other place for that matter, he is treated as if he is a saint. “Oh, poor guy. He is a single dad doing his best to raise his kids the best he can”. I guess they forgot I am a single mom doing my best to raise my boys.

Is it because I was the one that “filed” for the divorce (I suppose in this case they forget that marriage includes two people that contribute to the success or demise of the relationship)? Is it because they take Mathew too literally, when it says:

“It has been said, ‘Anyone who divorces his wife must give her a certificate of divorce. But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for marital unfaithfulness, causes her to become an adulteress, and anyone who marries the divorced woman commits adultery.

I suppose if they are taking the passage literally, they would agree that men too, would be committing adultery if they remarry. Maybe it is because they are just hypocritical busy bodies that would rather throw stones at me while they live in their glass houses?

I’m gonna go with the latter and let me tell you why. After a brief hiatus from church due to traveling and the death of my mother, I returned with my boys one Sunday morning in the Spring. Upon entering the children’s room, a woman approached me and whispered she had heard about what happened and wondered how I was doing. I thanked her for her concern and added losing my mother was hands down the most difficult thing I had ever been through. With eyes as big as silver dollars guess what she said. Wait for it.

“I’m so sorry, I had no idea your mom died”. I smiled at her and said "Oh, you must be talking about my divorce".

Other than seeing this woman at church, I did not socialize with this woman. I did not confide in her about my personal life. Apparently, I did not have to. The other busy bodies at church can spread my news for me. Well if you are going to talk about me, tell the whole story. While your airing my dirty laundry you might consider washing yours too.

Monday, October 25, 2010

You Can't Handle The Truth

tpa0694l2Everyone has trying times. We all experience loss in one form or another. These events can happen to us one at a time like a slow leak or they can come at us all at once like a roof caving in. The great thing about being human is that we can all empathize with each other during strife and triumph. Not everyone handles success well. I have met a few people that actually sabotage their own success because they do not feel they deserve it. Fortunately I am not one of those people, I deserve every bit of it! Not everyone handles stress well. On the other hand, some of us shine brighter than ever when they are in a pressure cooker.

Problems are not really the problem. Coping is the problem. Not everyone is equipped with the necessary tools to get through the times that challenge them. I used to be the type of person that, under stress, would withdrawal from others. My theory was “why do I want to bother others with this”, this is my deal. What I have learned over the last few years is that these are the times I need to reach out even more than usual. Of course I am selective to whom I reach out, not everyone can handle the truth about other’s vulnerabilities.

After one particular year of growth, I had many friends say to me they could not imagine how I got through it. A divorce, the death of my mom, job loss, and a whole lot of heartache can test the strongest among us. Although I understood what they meant, I think what they should have said was “How did you get through it”.

For those that cannot tell the difference between the statement and the question, let me elaborate. The statement focuses on the situation. The question focuses on the person. I admit I am guilty of this too. I want to show my compassion but I do not want to bring up a sore subject. Are we all so self absorbed we do not realize there is a difference? Is it that no one wants to hear it? Are we afraid of what we will hear? Do we think what we hear will make us look at ourselves in a way we may not like?

No man is an island. If we would stop and listen to others, we might learn something about them, and maybe ourselves.