Enough

When is enough, enough?  Is there ever a time, as a wife and a mother, that I can throw my hands up in the air and (not wave them like I just don’t care…) say – to hell with this, I’ve had enough!  Theoretically, I did just that the other day.  I went on “strike” *insert hysterical laughter here*.  What was I thinking?  That all of a sudden the kids and husband would hear the archangels singing and try to fix everything that I’ve been bitching about?  Pfft.  Yeah, right.

I have teens.  I don’t have really young kids.  In less than 6 months I will have an 18-year-old, a 14-year-old and a 13-year-old.  Oh, and a 38-year-old…*ahem*.  Yet, at some point these four individuals must have fallen and smacked their precious heads on some sort of hard surface and have completely and utterly forgotten how to use their senses.  Particularly the sense that tells them there are chores to be done – your bathroom looks like it’s growing something in the sink, the dogs have no water, you might have worn that a time or two since the last wash cycle, there’s a smell coming from your bathroom that is going to disturb the neighbors, and OMG you must be sleeping with a zombie because that’s what your room smells like!

So, I lost my shit.  Again.  I explained how absolutely tired I was of being the maid.  Because that’s how I feel…blah blah blah yadda yadda yadda (like Charlie Brown’s teacher only more life-like).  Most days it’s not worth the fight and I just handle it all myself – working, cooking, cleaning the bathrooms, sweeping and mopping, doing the leftover dishes that must have been wearing an invisibility cloak the night before, cleaning the house, and doing every stitch of laundry Mr. EMT and I own because otherwise he will attempt to ‘do’ laundry and we’ll forever be throwing shit in the dryer on wrinkle-free.

The strike lasted a day and a half.  The day I lost my shit, Mr. EMT was home from work and school, a rarity these days.  Thus, I sent him a message and explained what I saw that morning and that I was on strike until I saw the rest of the family learn to pick up after themselves and do their chores.  He had them clean, and clean well – for exactly one day.  It lasted for one day.  Because the dishes wore an invisibility cloak yet again last night, I refused to cook.  Make yourself something to eat, I said.  Heat up leftovers, I said.  AND DO THE MOTHERFUCKING DISHES, I said.  Well, not so drastically, but that’s how I wanted to say it.

I woke up in a little better mood today and I decided I would rather be pissed off and bitchy than to live in a crappily maintained home.  I was going to buck up and do all the stuff I didn’t do since Tuesday when I got home today.  However, insert a call from The Little’s school and I’m right back to wanting to scream ‘Enough is Enough’!  He got into trouble….again….albeit the first time in 3 weeks.  He’s a work in progress, but that’s for another post in the future about dealing with middle school kids with two parents who don’t often agree on parenting style.

With all that being said, I realize I cannot actually give up.  I have to remain married to Mr. EMT even though I wanted to punch him in the throat this week; I have to remain a mother to three unappreciative adolescents and try to remember that one day they will thank me for this shit; and I have to remember to buy another bottle of wine before I get home….because enough may very well be enough, but that does not count for wine.

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Oh Alice, how I love thee

March 12

Bedtime stories

What was your favorite book as a child or adolescent? Did it influence the person you are now?

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll has long been one of my most favorite and influential books to date.  Though in truth there are so many that helped shape who I have become.  Each time I read Alice I take something new from the book.  It’s the only book that I can say has grown with me when reading it during childhood, adolescence, and adulthood.  In my opinion, it makes this particular story timeless.

The loss of childhood innocence, learning quickly that the world will think you too small or too tall, never really being the right fit for what is needed.  As an adolescent, this struck me to my core.  In fact, I held on to it for far too long.  During puberty and into early adulthood I had the horrible feeling of not being enough.  It took me a long time to grow out of that – to figure out that I’m good with me and I don’t need approval to be me.  Through this story, I, like Alice, learned that I am the right size, after all.  I learned not to let the opinions of others dictate who I was to become.

The Cheshire Cat, with his broad grin and fearless behavior, can be thought of in so many translations. As a child, I thought him to be the secret, imaginary friend that tried to get you in trouble by leading you down a path you didn’t know and then disappearing.  As an adolescent, I thought him to be cunning and too knowledgeable.  The best line, for me, was when she asked which way to go and after she answered she didn’t know where when he asked, he simply said it doesn’t matter she will end up somewhere.  How true is that?  We never really know which path to take, but no matter which one it is, it leads us somewhere.  There is hardly a right or wrong.

The Caterpillar is another example of changing each time I read this story.  A simple three-word question and with it says everything.  “Who are you?” She has such a difficult time answering him, you can only assume she doesn’t know who she is anymore.  She’s changed.  Don’t we all?  She insults the cantankerous caterpillar by explaining it is dreadful being only 3 inches tall after all the caterpillar is only 3 inches tall.  Alice who struggles with her own image judges harshly the caterpillar’s size though it’s the same as hers at the time.  We often run into cantankerous, confusing people, but it doesn’t do well to insult them.

This story mostly taught me about adversities in life.  How the world constantly changes and confuses.  It taught me to expect the unexpected and learn that sometimes there is no logical answer to it and that’s ok, we’ll get through that maze one way or the other.  In this way, the story taught me to be more open-minded, not to follow simply to follow and to go with my gut in all journeys through life.  Life is a mess of puzzles, problems, oddities, and no two people are the same or think the same; we have to learn to accept it and move on.

 

Other people’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality
Les Brown

 

1996

March 5

Buffalo nickel

Dig through your couch cushions, your purse, or the floor of your car and look at the year printed on the first coin you find. What were you doing that year?

1996

I rummaged through the crap mess in the console of my truck and not only realized I desperately need to clean it but found a dime and on it was stamped 1996.

It was 1996, the year I graduated high school.  It should have been a time in my life of festivities and prepping for senior prom and senior skip day with my best friends while making memories of a lifetime; instead, I saw it as utterly painful.  I didn’t realize then that I was still making memories of a lifetime and that I would make a new friend to carry with me the rest of my life.  I lived in Ohio at the time because my father was transferred there during my senior year.  I met one of my very best friends there.  Both of us were dealt the horrible fate of spending our senior year away from our original high school and all our friends.  I moved from Atlanta and she from New Jersey (though originally from Alabama).  We formed an instant friendship.

We both had to leave high school boyfriends behind, obviously and neither of us was too pleased and we bonded over that quickly.  We became a quick cliché of Misery Likes Company and we kept to ourselves for the most part.  To make sure everyone knew just how miserable we were, we dressed in head to toe black on Valentine’s Day because, well, why not.  It was still the grunge era so we had a lot of black hanging around.

I graduated in May and by that time my father had been transferred again, this time to Florida though I was convinced I would be stopping and staying in Georgia.  I was eager to get back to Mr. EMT and could see no reason why I couldn’t stay on with a family member and attend college there.  1996, coincidentally was also the year the Olympics were in Atlanta so my parents rationalized that it wouldn’t be a good time for me to move back, and I should just wait a little while longer.  I didn’t realize at first that it was a ploy to try to keep me in Florida where they knew my future would probably be brighter since I would be in college.  They were smart, my parents, they knew me far better than I knew myself.

Fast forward to the end of 1996, after a few new friendships and entirely too much partying, I decided it was time to go back to Georgia.  I secretly bought a bus ticket, gave my 2-week notice at my job, and was prepared to leave my parents in almost a haste.  I knew they wouldn’t approve.  I knew they would be desperately disappointed, but I missed Mr. EMT so much that I felt I would lose him completely if I didn’t return.

My mother, being the brilliantly smart woman she is, somehow found out that I was leaving and she drove me there.  In almost complete silence.  It was one of the most heartbreaking moments of my life.  I could feel her anxiety, I could feel her fear, and I could feel her love.  She was going to let me go, but it was going to break her heart.  She knew the struggles I would face, but I was 18 and I wouldn’t hear anything about it.

1996 was a monumental year for me, almost as much as 1997 when Mr. EMT and I welcomed The Eldest long before we were prepared to be parents and started going through the struggles my mom knew were coming.

I’m losing my shit, y’all

I’ve recently opened up (a little) about this little alien disease that seems to have taken up residence in my body.  Depression.  I really didn’t think I would have it or be diagnosed with it, but what do I know?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Yesterday was some interesting business.  Thank God for medication and my husband because honestly, I don’t know how else I would have made it out alive.  Oh, and my new doctor.  I guess I should thank him, too.  Any who…

Yesterday started off as any other Monday does…with eye rolls, sighs, grunts, feet stomping, and whines – the kids felt the same way, too.  It was their first day back after fall break (what the fuck is that by the way?  They get a break because of a season change? Pfft).  About an hour after I get to the office I get a call from the middle school that my kids attend.  Lovely.  I answer, hoping and praying it’s some stupid “will you bring me a book” phone call so I can tell them they’ve lost their ever-loving mind and go back to class.  No such luck.  It’s The Middle’s counselor.

I listen as she explains the events that have transpired this morning, concern from a friend of The Middle’s led them to an investigation and a sit-down.  She’s been self-harming and that one single time that happened months ago “as an experiment” has been on repeat for a while now.  It’s at this point I can’t breathe, I can’t see, I can’t think and I have no idea what happened to my voice.  I don’t know how much time passes before I’m able to mutter a cognitive sentence explaining I’m on my way to the school.

On the way there I call Mr. EMT, who’s exhausted and hasn’t yet fallen asleep from working the night before, and crazily go through what was just explained to me.  He’s still dressed and he will meet me at the school and suddenly I feel a little better.  He’s home, he’s awake, he’s going to help us through this.  I love my Mr. EMT.

At the school The Middle is in tears, Mr. EMT is his perfectly calm self, and I’m shaking uncontrollably as the counselor goes more in detail to what happened.  I’m numb.  I’m scared.  I’m broken.  My heart hurts for The Middle and all I want to do is grab her and hug her, all I want to do is tell her she’s going to be ok.  I wait for that until we’re in the safe bubble of our living room, away from prying eyes and awkwardness.  Here this beautiful little child sits and she’s scared, and she’s broken, and it takes everything inside me not to join her in the endless tears.  But I have to be strong.  I have to be the mom and her backbone.  We talk at length and we look at the paper her school counselor gave us with the name and number of a therapist who specializes in this and we all three agree it’s the best thing.

Mr. EMT eventually goes to sleep and The Middle and I spend lovely moments together talking about anything she wants to talk about.  It’s like any other day, but more.  I hate to leave her, I hate that I have an appointment with my new doctor, but I need to go to this more than ever.  We spend an hour going over me, what’s been going on, how I cope with things, and I let him know about the events of earlier and I lose it.  I crumble and I just cry.  It’s too much.  Everything is just too much.  I feel like a rubber band must feel when it’s stretched so far that it’s developing a hole just before it breaks.

He speaks of depression, how my medicine will help me out of it, and he mentions seeing the possibility of a nervous breakdown.  I’m not there yet, he says, but he fears I’m pretty close.  Maybe I am.  I gather myself back together and we talk for just over an hour.  He told me the one thing I’ve read from The Bloggess countless times that has always resonated with me, Depression Lies.  It’s not hopeless after all.

I left his office with a sliver of hope.  I might be losing my shit, but I have help finding it and putting it back together and most importantly, so does The Middle.  I think The Middle and I can both become better and we can do it together.  She won’t feel alone going to therapy because her mom needs it just as badly.  The scar we both carry inside and outside will heal with time.

This week’s prompt from Tina, at Not Just Another Mother Blogger.

“Best hidden away” and/or “scar”

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Parenting, it ain’t for the light hearted

Going into parenting, I was a nervous wreck.  I got pregnant young, almost too young to be a parent.  I was an adult, but only just barely.  Looking at my 17-year-old son today, I cannot imagine him becoming a parent in a couple years, like his father and I did.  I was a wreck somewhat because of our ages, but mostly because I had no idea what the hell I was doing.  I was going to be responsible for another life.  How was that going to work?  I still could hardly separate colors successfully and not turn white underwear pink.

I was given this awesome book, ‘What to Expect When You’re Expecting’.  I read it cover to cover 3 times before I ever laid eyes on the kid growing in my stomach.  Then, when he came I read ‘What to Expect the First Year’.  Again, I read it cover to cover countless times.  I was ready.  I was prepared.  Turns out there was no way I could turn him pink during bath time (well, except that one time with the bath paint, but let’s not go there).  We were good.

I went blithely through colic and the toddler stage to preschool and then had a couple more kids along the way.  I was becoming a pro at this.  I was raising three kids and no one turned pink again.  We taught them ‘stranger danger’, how to escape during a fire, where to go if they got lost, code words for people claiming to be sent by us, and all the likes of parenting 101.  Parenting magazines were a Godsend during the younger years and we thrived as a family.  We read advice columns, we exchanged ideas between our friends, and we relied on the past experiences our parents had and combined them all for super parenting, like a superpower.

All those years, all those books and not one time did anyone mention what could really hurt your kid.  Adolescence and hormones.  I didn’t read anywhere about what to do if your child experimented with cutting.  I didn’t get any advice about what to do when your child withdrew and started listening to questionable music and wanting to dress in all black.  Nowhere in those books did I read what to do when your sweet children are replaced by kids full of eye rolls, blank stares, deadly stares, exaggerated sighs, unanswered questions, phones glued to hands, and mood swings that would make even the scariest roller coaster jealous.

Cellphone etiquette wasn’t listed in those books, either.  Sure, we made rules as we went, but this isn’t something that was an issue during our upbringing so we were just winging it.  There was no parenting book that told you exactly how to handle apps and social media and sexting.  There’s no ‘What to Expect’ about those things.  We try to be reasonable parents, trusting parents.  We take lessons friends have learned and parents have learned and we try to apply them as best we can.  There are all types of parents out there.  I know parents that are too lax, I know parents that over-parent, I know parents that try to be somewhere in between, and I know parents that seem to have all the answers and they just seem to do it right.  However, then I learned those parents, the ones who appear to have it all together and have parenting as their superpower are just as scared and are going through just as much as the rest of us.

Maybe there’s no ‘What to Expect’ book out there for adolescence because no one really knows what to expect.  No one has mastered it well enough to write it all down.  There’s no way someone can prepare for your child to admit they’ve been a “cutter”, there’s no way to prepare for your child to make a decision to share intimate images of themselves to someone on the internet, and there’s no way to have all the right words and all the right actions for things you never thought could or would happen.  I’ve learned that as a mom I just have to admit when I don’t know what the hell to do and then I have to rally with other moms who are experiencing the same thing.

In my advice and edition of ‘What to Expect’ during adolescence, I will say this – expect everything and befriend the parents of your children’s friends.  They are your only hope to getting out of this alive….well, them and a nice big bottle glass of wine.