Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Conversations From Back There

Like a lot of parents, I spend a good deal of time between here and there with my kids "back there". That no-mans-land in the car that is both with you, and completely separate. That place where they can be dreamy little movie watching zombies or screeching, seat kicking, fighting, monsters. It can be a  place of constant kid chatter too, depending on how much you want to hear and how much they think you are listening. Mine assume I am listening almost all of the time (which I am not) so they chatter in my general direction at a pace that you would think defies breathing. Now, I my not be listening in the best sense of the word (because frankly my ears hit an overload limit), but I am in fact listening. I have a very keen sense of when to reactivate the more active part of my listening, that is revert from filter mode to mom mode and really pay attention, and its a damn good thing. If I didn't, how else would I know when to say "dahhhhhh.....???"
Like when Kiera reports that a boy in her room told a little girl that he was going to marry her and Kiera objected that no, he couldn't because she was going to marry! My ears caught that one because I was very interesting in who of the two she was saying she was going to marry! For cripes sake that boy is a beast! So she clarified that she was defending that she had dibs on her little girl friend (what a relief, really that boy is a nut!).
Ben tells Kiera, "girls can't marry girls."
To which Kiera replies, "well of course they can Ben," with a shake of her head.
Ben tells Kiera, "no, girls marry boys and boys marry girls. Girls marring girls isn't allowed."
Kiera tells Ben, "Ben, that just doesn't make any sense at all. When people grow up and they are in love they marry."
To which Ben replies, "I don't think that's legal Kiera."
Kiera asks, "Mom, is Ben right? Girls can marry right?"
At which point I notice that our favorite Christmas song is on and thank everything shiny that my kids are still young enough that they can be easily guided into loud car singing rather than continuing this conversation with a big fat dahhhhhhh????? from mom. It's not that I don't have an answer, oh I have so many answers for this one, it's just that I don't want to give you one just yet. You don't think there is anything wrong with two boys or two girls holding hands right now and I don't need to give you the burden of anyones bullshit that might be tied inadvertently to any bit of my answer. Be a child for just a minute longer OK?
Songs over, wait what? Did you just say lets play the pretend we're smoking game? Dahhhhhh?????

Monday, December 19, 2011

Crab Lucky Crab

Almost exactly eleven years ago I had a human arm (not mine) in my body, through a tiny opening in my neck. This fantastic woman (who's are it was) was removing my cancerous thyroid, several lymph nodes, and exploring every inch of what she could reach from my ears to my armpits. You should see my scar, or not see it really, it's a dream come true. How this woman did the work she did and left my neck with a barely visible white line I will never know, but I will always remember her name with a level of awe and appreciation. She put in one long interior stitch that she pulled out a week later, my head didn't fall off, and she left me cancer free. Truly amazing. The result of having no thyroid and my kind of cancer is that you take thyroid replacement and enough of it that your pesky body doesn't try and regrow cancer growing thyroid cells. Tada! Hyperthyroidism! Side effects include- irritability, stress, increased appetite, insomnia. (Notice I've left out weight loss, I don't have trouble with that side effect)
Now I also have another pain in the ass issue that hasn't been much of an issue until this year, and that is a seizure disorder. The number one cause of break through seizures is lack of sleep. Some other high up causes are not taking you medication, stress, and not eating correctly. The side effects of the medications that I take for this are- irritability, anxiety, lack of taste sensation, insomnia, anger and stupidity. I'm not kidding. They don't actually use those words on the websites but the words most affectionately associated with my meds are "rage" and "dope".
None of these fancy aspects of my life let you sleep which is why I am up right now bitching to the wide sleeping space of the web. So here I am with my interesting problem, I'm hungry but food doesn't seem as appealing as it once was, which adds to the irritability because I'm freaking hungry and I can't get to sleep which stresses the crabby mom even more and the circle continues because I am still hungry and by goodness I am so bloody tired and the kids are going to be up in 4 1/2 hours and what I wouldn't give for a bag of gummy bears and I am just so tired and tired of being a crab and tired and tired of be stressed about being tired, when oh when does this merry go round stop?

And how fucking lucky am I that eleven years later, I am waking up cancer free to look at my beautiful children. One of the luckiest women in the world.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

We joke a lot about Kiera's future. Girl can talk a stranger out of their savings without their noticing AND she works a pole like I have only seen in the movies. It's not hard to joke about the myriad of professions my strong willed (and legged) little blondie might get herself into. She'll be OK, with some (OK a ton) of guidance, she'll be OK. I was OK. A different kind of OK then I was after I met Dave, but still OK.
You see, Dave had his shit together when he met me. I didn't even know what that meant. I had gone to college with a good GPA and scholarships but the discovery of a seizure disorder and my dads ALS blew that all to hell so I failed (or tried) myself out and came home. Got a job I loved that didn't pay for shit, and did my best to keep my head above water while I literally got my affairs in order. The benefit of having friends who had suffered tragically similar loss is that they tell you how to do it as well as you can, so that is what I did. I adjusted to new meds, learned how to pay my own bills, and watched my dad die. I can say looking back that I think I did it right, I said everything I needed to say and did the best I could for him, so who cares if I never learned how to return a movie on time. The point is, the important stuff, the stuff that really mattered, got done. I was OK. Broke, a bit reckless, but OK. Kiera will be OK. She is a little version of me with hopefully enough of Dave mixed in that she wont trash her credit rating by the time she is 19.
We don't joke about Ben's future. It is no joke. We don't even talk about it too much. Those are serious conversations, set aside for serious times. Where is the money going, who will have responsibility, who can best manage if we are unable. Like I said, serious conversations. Part of the reason is that we simply don't know what we are dealing with. We have no idea where his life will lead him and we never have. How do you plan ahead for a child when the doctors say he will never hold his head up, then he does. You plan, but with every plan you make contingency plans. So, he has a college savings account but it is the kind that can be withdrawn and used for things other than college because WHO KNOWS. He has never performed below grade level academically, but he's in third grade.
I have been playing catch up with school for years now because it turns out, when  you drop out and go back 17 years later in a totally different field, you pretty much start over. I went in to campus today and watched a kid walk in ahead of me with a gait that looks all too familiar to me because I see it every day, and I started to think about how many times I see this gait around my little community college. Then I saw it again. Walking into a different building, another kid who in 10 years could be my kid. Who knows. By the time I made it to the computer commons I was deep in mind fuck (where I try to steer clear) wondering about these guys I'd just seen. Who are they? What are their issues? Where do they live? When I had a seat next to an older gentleman who, guess what, had something going on. It's like the day in the grocery store when they want you to buy comfort food so they play every sad song, today was the day that I had some thinking to do I guess. This fellow held one arm at a distinctive angle, had the hand of that arm folded in a familiar way, had a thinner leg, had one ankle bent in Ben fashion, but corrected all of these positioning issues to make use of the computer and pull around his used physics book. I did my work and busted ass to my car where I burst into tears. Not because there a damn thing wrong with the man sitting next to me, but because I just didn't know if that man had anyone who loved him. I cried the whole way home wondering if he was happy. If he was OK. He looked to be in his 60's but was he, or is that how life had treated him? Is he OK? Will Ben be OK? I believe with every bit of me that we can move forward in a direction where he will be OK, just like Kiera will be OK. But it is the variables, the player that we can't see on the other side of the chess board that keeps us from joking about his future.
Tears are dry, we are still thinking three moves ahead, we'll be OK.
All of us.

Monday, December 5, 2011

"What do you want?"

"So what so you want?"
I would like a large order of deck that is not rotting off the back of the house, ready to fall off at any moment...a roof that isn't leaking directly into the main bathroom AGAIN since we just replace the entire roof a few years ago...hmmm...a furnace that doesn't miss fire and run endlessly without heating...and a side of non-dripping kitchen faucet. Oh, and can you add door knobs for the front and back door that actually have working mechanisms so we can use them instead of relying only on the dead bolts? For dessert I would like a ramp and hand rails on the front porch and an adapted bath. Thanks.
Dave was actually wondering what I wanted for dinner.
"I know," he says.
We got Chinese.
Every one of these things are on "the list", not the little can be tackled today list but the BIG list. This list has to wait, for what, I'm not sure. For a windfall. For us to finish paying off old debt to make new debt. For me to finish school to get a job. For me to find some spring of inner motivation that drives me to refurbish and...We'll let that thought lie. I'm not a carpenter so even given proper motivation, I'm not going to build a deck. Motivation could take me a long way though and I have been doing some searching for what it is going to take to get it back. Where did it go for that matter?
If the question was properly worded (where did mom's energy go?) my kids might tell you it was sucked out of me. They have heard me say it feels just like that when they are forgetting to love each other. That is exactly what it feels like when my little family, which is so "normal" in so many ways is just not "normal" in any way. I get it, parenting is hard. There are no instruction manuals blah blah blah but there is no place for those of us who don't fit to carve out a niche and get comfy. There is no down time to get your bearings and fix your brain so you can deal with things like door knobs. How can you explain to anyone that Ben's day yesterday was so exceptionally exhausting. How many times I was right there molding the day to make it manageable for him and us because I knew he was so excited that it was his dad's birthday. The amount of effort that it takes to make our world feel effortless is crazy. Maybe that's where my motivation went.
Every now and then Dave and I have a conversation that takes one of two turns. The first is when Ben has had a  particularly hard time around other kids and Dave is reminded that Ben isn't a typical third grader. The second is when Dave completely forgets that Ben is anything but just another regular old kid. Both conversations kind of break my heart. I think we have these conversations because Ben has different levels of interaction. Dave sees snippets of the day so sees different sides of Ben. I however, sit more square in the center. Seems like a more balanced place to be, but that's just it, its a balancing act always. I guess that's what we all do really. It is this crazy balance between need (you do not actually need working door knobs and the deck hasn't fallen off yet) and creating a warm loving home for our whole family (water dripping on Kiera's head in the bathroom doesn't count). It is so crazy important that Ben get what he needs to thrive in this brutal world that he has been thrust into but he has this wonderful, brilliant, strong, opinionated little sister who needs him to show her the way through it as well.
Back to motivation...Haven't gotten very far on that one, but I have begun my effort to reduce brain clutter. You're looking at it. My mom used to tell me to go clean my room. If I think of my room as this crazy thing that has turned into my life, I guess I better get started.