Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Selflessness - A forgotten trait

**Note:  Silly pseudonyms have been used in place of real names to protect the innocents.  I know this is an annoying practice - heck, it even annoys me - but it's necessary, so get over it. 

So.  If you haven't already figured it out, I'm going through a very ugly divorce.  So ugly, in fact, the word ugly doesn't begin to touch it.  

Most definitely.

Pretty much.

Let's just call it the most ug-in-nasty divorce ever in the history of divorces.  That is, of course, just my opinion.  But it's my divorce so I can have that opinion, right?  Right.

Moving on....

I've had quite a few low moments since this whole thing started.

Like every time my children leave to go spend their night and/or weekend in Utopia.  

Down - because I don't like being without them. 

Low - because I don't like being alone.  

Lower - because the quietness of my house only amplifies their absence and brings on the lonely aching that grows out of divorce.  

Lowest - because I know so well the insinuations and cutting remarks that are being made about their mother in the presence of the kids.  Whether the adults involved care or know if they're listening or not.  

Oh - they're listening, alright.  More on that in another post, another day....

One of my lowest moments was about 2 weeks ago.  It was my baby's birthday and she wasn't going to be with me.  It was her weekend to visit Utopia with her brothers.  

My sweet baby girl.  My last one.  And I wasn't going to see her on her birthday.  For the first time in ten years, I was not going to be with one of my children on their birthday.  The actual day of their birth. We always had a little celebration and danced at the exact time of their birth.  

Thank goodness all three were morning babies!

I know - there are worse things in life, but this was hard for me.  She's only five.  Birthday's are still a big deal.  I want to savor that for as long as possible because I know it will eventually end.  I did get to speak to her early that morning, but after that I pretty much just cried for the entire day.  

A few days later I was speaking with one of my neighbors.  She reminded me that it was her daughter's birthday and we both remembered that our daughters are only 4 days apart in age.  (For some reason we always forget this.  Every year.  Until right before or right after.  Some neighbor I am.)  The Good Neighbor invited us to Little Miss's party the upcoming weekend.  

Then she asked the question.  The one I was praying she wouldn't.  "Did y'all have a party for Toodle Butt?"  

Of course she was going to ask.  And I was going to have to explain.  Oh. Hell.  I could not hold back the tears.

Out it came.  All of it.  Thank goodness they already knew about what was happening with Crazy Kinky Boy, so it wasn't that much of a shock.  But I could not stop the tears, no matter what I tried.  I held my breath.  Looked at the sun.  Nothing worked.  

So, I just kept talking.  I told her how it was Toodle Butt's weekend with her brothers at Utopia and I only got to talk to her for a few short minutes the morning of her birthday.  How much I'd missed her that day and hated that I couldn't be with her.  I even shared just how broke I was. That all I could afford was a few dollar store toys as a gift.  

She asked me the ubiquitous questions anyone would ask...."Did *they* give her a party?  Didn't they invite you?  Couldn't they have let you come see her even if only for a few minutes?"  It all made me cry more.  My sweet neighbor was furious for me.  

I finally slowed the crying and chest heaving to a lull.  We exchanged giant bear hugs and I actually felt a little better getting it all out to another mom who could understand.

The party day came for the Good Neighbor's  Little Miss.  Mr. Good Neighbor had come by twice just to make sure we were coming and reminding us not to be late.  (Weird.  I couldn't figure out why, but it was weird at the time.)  

Luckily the location wasn't far from the house, as we had very little gas in the kid bus.  I'd saved what was in the tank just to get us to that party and home again.  The kids donned their bathing suits and we loaded up the towels and took off.  I was determined to enjoy being with my babies on the bay....splashing in the water, playing in the sand.  

We were the first guests to arrive.  Mr. Good Neighbor told me an earlier time on purpose.  That's why he'd come by the house twice.  Little stinker.  He had a surprise in store for me & my brood.

All the kids were happy to see each other.   Hugs were given and squeals rang out.  Then the Good Neighbors took me and Toodle Butt aside.  There were two cakes on the table.  They lifted the top from one to reveal a homemade creation of the most beautiful kind.  

A cake that said 
"Happy Birthday Toodle Butt".  

They made a cake for my little girl!  And brought it to their daughter's party.  Too much.  Just way too much.

Then Mr. Good Neighbor explained that the party was for BOTH Little Miss and Toodle Butt.  He and his wife could not stand that I was not able to be with her on her birthday or even see her for a moment, much less give her a party.  They had to do something for us.  They told me how much they loved me and my kids and wanted to do this for me.  

Of course, I cried like a baby.  Again.  I really could not stop this time.  But at least they weren't sad tears.  They were joyful, blessed, supported, touched, heart-warmed tears.

As if that weren't enough, they had a huge bag stuffed full of trinkets and toys for my precious girl.  A belated birthday gift that I couldn't afford to give her.  Blessing after blessing.  My cup was definitely overflowing. 

That's a pretty special story all on it's own.  But it's even more poignant once you know more about the Good Neighbors......

You see - these people are not your average family.  The mother is 40 something (close to fifty)and the bread-winner of the family.  The father is almost 70.  He had triple bypass surgery roughly six months ago.  He's unable to work and the wife supports all four of their family on a $9/hour job.  They barely have two nickels to rub together.  Their children are 7 and 5.  Yes.  You read that correctly.  7 and 5 years old - the same age as my middle and youngest kids.  The kids were obviously a surprise.

So much for vasectomies!  

I do believe this family would fall into the poverty bracket if placed on an income scale.  Their house is tiny.  Some would refer to it as a 'shack'.  It's old and rickety and falling apart.  4 rooms total.  The yard is full of junk, complete with the even tinier home of their ancestors in the front yard that's falling in on itself.  With Mr. Good Neighbor unable to perform any kind of work, things are really hard for them.  He's been a fisherman his entire life and their dinner often consists of his catch-of-the-day and a can of beans.  Seriously.  

Over the years, they've always been good neighbors.  Watched out for us.  Brought us fresh mullet or stuffed flounder to return the favor of some fried chicken or homemade cookies I've shared with them.  But I never knew just how good a neighbor family they are until now.  

They exemplified the meaning of the word SELFLESS.  

selfless |ˈselfləs|adjectiveconcerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one's own; unselfish an act of selfless devotion.DERIVATIVESselflessly |ˈsɛlfləsli| adverbselflessness |ˈsɛlfləsnəs| noun
These sweet people.  They've taught me one of the biggest lessons of my life.  A lesson that churches and the people in them *talk* about all the time  -  but do not live.  
They didn't have to do any of it.  No doubt they could put the money they spent on my daughter/family to very good use of their own.  For their own.  But they chose to give instead.  And they gave from their heart.  Much more than anyone has given to me in a very, very long time.  Because, let's face it - they did what they did for this Mamma.  They have left their mark on my heart and I am forever changed.
Selflessness.  Too bad it isn't the newest fad sweeping the globe.  It'd be a different world if it were.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Technology - Schmechnology

The kids are in Utopia this weekend. I'm sitting at the house alone. Bored. Flipping through the boob tube.

Up comes a commercial for a Sony Reader

Now, I'm sure there's a slew of people out there that are ecstatic about this little gadget. I mean - we have come a long way, baby. Really. It's amazing what technology has done to our culture. Both positive and negative.

The negative is what concerns me.

A whole generation of kids already think of books as archaic nostalgia from eras past, thanks to television, movies, video games, and other handheld devices. The cute, shiny, blinky, beepy things grab ones attention with a stealthy, unyielding grip. 

What are we gonna do when one day a child doesn't even recognize what a real book is? I know. Maybe a little extreme. But is it? Really? My nine year old only last year learned what a cassette tape was. (I grew up on cassettes. sheesh!) We had to struggle to find a radio in the house that even had a tape player in it, but after much digging we were successful. It was back in the deep, dark recesses of our storage closet. 

What I don't want to see unfold in our society's future is books being relegated to our storage closets, bins and boxes - hidden away. Only to be pulled out for history lessons on bygone "fads" of culture, or when we're feeling sentimental and want tangible reminders of our past.

It could happen. Maybe.

I would think if you're a traveling person, always on the go, a snazzy reader may come in handy. Hopping from plane to train to automobile with a stack of books under your arm isn't very conducive to smooth globe trotting.

But is it really that hard to make room for a real book in your carry on? Purse? Briefcase? 

Just one...please?

Admittedly, I myself have succumbed to the techno age temptation of reading on a device. However, I found it to be extremely annoying.

Earlier in the summer I acquired an iPhone. I didn't want it, but nonetheless found myself a proud owner of one and before I knew it.... I was hooked on apps. I came across a free download for the book "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and immediately clicked. Since the only time I go to the movies is to treat the kids to something cartoony or 3D, I thought I'd at least be able to read the story and have an idea of what the movie must have been like.

Three-quarters of the way through the first chapter my head started throbbing. I put the phone down and went to the kitchen to do the dishes. Within the hour my head had cleared and I decided to try reading on the iPhone again when I headed to bed. Again - headache. I tried yet again the next day and - yep. You guessed it. My head was killing me. 

Eventually it dawned on me that it must be from reading on such a tiny scale. Sure, I had the option to enlarge the words, but then only six words fit on the screen and I was scrolling so much my thumb hurt. Wah-wah.

Of course, I do need glasses, have for years, but that couldn't really be the problem. I read lots of other things all day long and don't get headachey. 

I picked up a book and before I knew it had read two chapters. Nope. Not a single throb in the 'ole noggin. No bifocals for me. Yet. Whew!

While I was performing my very scientific reading/head pain test, I noticed something. Reading an actual book is fine. It's great, in fact. I'd read more of that bonafide book in less than an hour than I had in 3 attempts at reading one on my phone.

So, the moral of the story is this:

Read a REAL book! I promise, you will not die from this. No one will make fun of you. You can read more words more quickly than on that tiny screen you hold in your hand. Your eyes will be relieved they no longer have to strain at those teensy little words. Your head will quit throbbing. And your thumbs and fingers will not lose their texting/scrolling/typing skills while not in use. They actually need a rest and this is a really good way to give it to them. All they'll have to do is occasionally turn pages. That's it. Your digits and eyes will rejoice! 

I'm off to don my pj's, jump in the bed and read a book. While wearing my magnifying granny spectacles I bought at the drugstore yesterday. You know - the ones you wear way down on your nose. 

Yeah, so maybe those headaches weren't 
entirely the device's fault.

Dear Delusionals,

I am stronger than you think.

With love,
And I do mean love. I may be hurt, angry and fed up with all of your behaviors and shenanigans toward me, but I do still love you all. Oddly enough. I know for sure I will always love my husband. He helped me (with a hand from God) make the three best things I've ever done in my life. Because of that we will always be tied together. To the end of this earth and beyond. It will always be important to me that he gets the help and treatment he needs for both his emotional healing and mental health. That will never change.

Your wife and daughter-in-law,
Because that will never change, either. No matter if in the end a piece of paper says it is no more, that doesn't mean it never happened.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

We now interrupt you. . . . .

. . . for no good reason at all. Daily. Repeatedly. Just because we feel like it. And you just have to deal 'cause there's nothing you can really do about it. If you do try to thwart us, we'll just label you 'uncooperative'. Should you choose to ignore us, we'll call you 'unresponsive'. In fact, any action you attempt at deflecting our maneuvers will be met with unrelenting accusations that you cannot possibly overcome. You cannot disregard the power we have over you.

We will wear you out. Beat you down. Erode your determination and self-confidence. You will give in and give up because we are better than you.

You are weak and stupid.

Getting under your skin is our main objective. Plus, it's just plain fun! Once we get under your skin, it's just a matter of time before you crumble. You will roll over as a dog does to its master for a belly rub. We can't wait for you to flip out, tell us off and break every rule you're supposed to be following. It's our Grand Plan and we're sure it's working! Yes - we are superior and eventually you will give up your fight and we will claim the victory.

So, enjoy the 3-4 emails a day from us. Telling you what to do where the kids are concerned. They'll only increase with frequency and intensity if you try to resist. We won't pick up the phone and call you about anything because we're just way too slick to do something as sensible and normal as that. Besides, there would be no record of you not doing what we demand. Emails are much better for that kind of evidence.

Keep looking for us to visit the property there where your house is. The only land we can't come on is where the house is located. We'll be there any time the mood strikes us. Day. Night. In between. All the land around you isn't in your name, so technically - we've got you surrounded. HA! Sorry if it disturbs the kids during school time. Too bad if it distracts them from their work, chores or routine. Hopefully it'll bug you really bad and one day you'll come out there and let us have it. I just know you will.

And we definitely plan to continue our phone calls around town to the homeschooling community to check-up on you and see where we can catch you doing wrong. Yeah, yeah - we know that it's a parent's right to choose the way their children are educated. And we also understand that both you and their father made the choice to homeschool together long before you separated. But even though he's made statements to many, many people about not trusting the government to educate his kids and not wanting to expose them to the indoctrination of the public school system and all that entails - it's clear now that you duped him into that decision. We really believe that you seduced him into homeschooling the kids. Basically (even though he's our son) he isn't smart enough to make that decision. He didn't know what he was getting into. And you led him down a path so that you could do things your way. He's not strong enough - mentally or emotionally - to make sound choices where his kids are concerned. We know you held a gun to his head and forced him to go along with you. And we plan to take away your power to raise your own children, much less teach them in a homeschool setting. You're an idiot and couldn't teach a dog to sit.

We believe the best education for our grandchildren is to put them back into the same school that, back in first grade, let your oldest son go without food for an entire day just because he didn't get his lunch out of his backpack in the morning and put it in his cubby. Yes, policy was more important to them than a child having food and no, they didn't even call you to bring him something to eat, but so what! He should've followed the rules, even if he was only 6 at the time and still getting used to the routine there.

We want to put the kids back in the same school system that now allows children the choice of whether or not to say the pledge of allegiance to the flag each day. The same one that does not allow prayer or talking with other students at lunchtime. You know - the one that shuffles kids through from grade to grade whether they're learning or not. Yeah, we know they could end up in high school reading on a 4th grade level, but what's the big deal? They'll be in high school like they should be by society's standards and that's what really matters. Status quo is what's important to us. More so than what the kids really need and what works best for them.

I'm sure we've made it abundantly clear that what's in their best interest, all the way around, is NOT our first concern. Of course, not! What WE think is best is what we're after. Because we are all knowing. We might have raised someone who became schizophrenic and homosexual and lied about it, but that's not our fault. He was given an idyllic, perfect little childhood, as far as we're concerned. It was great for us! So therefore, we bear no responsiblity in his outcome as a person. And we are the only ones capable of raising your children, no matter how they may turn out.

Our track record is irrelevant.

We even claim 'God's will' when things go our way. When they haven't gone exactly as we expected, wanted or tried to control, we just sit back and blame you. You manipulative, scheming bitch. We hate you.

Though no one will ever hear those words leave our lips - not even to each other. But it IS a fact. We never even liked you one little bit. Not even when we acted the part. We were successful in fooling you, though. There's great satisfaction in that. One of our favorite memories was when one of us came to you in church, of all places, and asked your forgiveness for our treatment of and attitude towards you for the past 10 years. The best part was when we asked if we could start over. YOU FELL FOR IT!! You were so relieved, happy, felt so much better about our relationship. Of course, our only goal was to gain your trust so you would share your thoughts and plans with us. And it worked! Like we said: you're such an idiot!

So. Here we are. Divorce papers filed. The battle begins.

You might as well give up now. You are not strong enough to fight us - The Great Three Musketeers from the Dark Side. Christianity may be our declaration, but winning is our goal. At all costs. There will be no compassion, common sense, respect or cooperation from us. Much less conducting ourselves in the manner of Jesus Christ, as we pretentiously claim to live. We will annihalate you by any method possible and be in total control of everything.

Give. It. Up.

Please enjoy our constant interruptions. They will not cease until we are victorious. You will be under our feet, where you belong.

With all the artificial concern, love, outward show of being 'normal people' so no one knows our real beliefs and plans that we can muster,

Your soon to be ex-husband and in-laws
a.k.a. Walking Hypocritical Contradictions

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day pains

It never fails that when it rolls around every year Labor Day is fraught with labor for the mothers out there.  I've managed to scoot by with very little this year.  Only because I've forced myself to, though.  I swept.  I mopped.  I've done a couple of loads of laundry.  Saved the cooking for tonight - a feast of grilled ribeyes with onion-blue cheese sauce (ala The Pioneer Woman), roasted potato wedges and mini chocolate lava cakes for desert.  

I can hardly wait!

My babies have been delivered home safely after a fantastical visit to Utopia.  aka The In-Law's House.  It's back to reality for them now. I'm such a horrible person for turning off the Wii by 6pm and making them {gasp} talk to me! I've given ample warning, though, so there's no room for fussing. 

Tomorrow's our first day of school.  The kids are actually happy about it and I'm pretty psyched myself.  It'll be nice to get back into the routine of it all and be done with open-ended days.  Those get old after a while for all of us.

I'm just hoping we all don't have a giant brain freeze tomorrow morning right out of the gate. But I'm betting it happens.  In fact, I'd bet the farm.  If I had one.  

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Once upon a time . . . . . .

In a land that seems far, far away.  I was a gorgeous filly with a flowing mane and legs that went on for ages. (hey - it is my story, okay)  I was hot stuff.  But I was the last one to know.  Always a little insecure about my looks, whenever I was complimented it would go to my head a bit.  Even got me into a few complicated situations a few times.  Luckily I always managed to escape unharmed.  Until one night.  

I had gone down to a legendary hole-in-the-wall beach bar with a friend.  I was standing at the bar waiting to order a drink when it happened.  He walked up and stood right beside me.  

Not one for shyness, I blurted out:

"Don't I know you?"  Knowing full well exactly who he was. Looking at the picture in my mind of him in 9th grade in the school parking lot.  Hoping I wouldn't be embarrassed if his memory failed him.

He finally replied:

" you?  You look familiar but I just can't remember your name."

There it was.  I could feel it.  The heat rising up to my face.  My cheeks getting hot.  Yep.  There's the sweat popping out on my forehead.  Great.  What if he still doesn't remember me even after I tell him my name?!  Oh why, why did I even open my mouth?

"Yeah - um - we went to school together at ...."

"Ohhhhhh - yeah!  I remember you now!  Wow.  Wow!  I can't believe you remember me.  You were one of the 'untouchables' back then.  No guy ever thought he'd get a date with you."

"What?  What are you talking about?  No one hardly ever asked me out.  Are you telling me there were guys that wanted to ask me out in high school but never did because they were scared of me turning them down??"  (This can't be right.  But it does explain a lot, if it's true.)

"Yeah. Yep.  You were so beautiful.  And tall.  All the guys wanted to go out with you but didn't want all their friends to laugh at them if you said no.  So you were dubbed 'untouchable'.  Looks like you still are."

whaaaaa???   This is all news to me.  I went the entire four years of high school wondering why I didn't get asked out like some of my girlfriends did.  I thought it was because all the boys were scared to death of my father.  But because I was pretty?  

                            That's. My. Luck.

After I picked my jaw up off the floor, he asked me to join him and a couple of friends at their table.  I did and he continued to tell me stories of specific guys and how they'd talk about me and how they were going to ask me out but then would chicken out in the end.  I was stunned.  

This was one of the biggest compliments ever, I thought.  In a back-handed, round-about, decades later kind of way.  He continued to regale me with stories from the highschool boys' club he was a part of.  Even included his own story of how he'd planned on asking me out and then didn't follow through because he thought I'd say 'no' since he was a good 3 inches shorter than me, at the time.  

Good thing he grew, 'cause I was hooked.  He was handsome, smart and made me laugh.  Plus we had a connection that went back beyond highschool, all the way to elementary school.  Raised in the same town.  Knew some of the same people.  It was, initially, a match made in heaven.  

From that night on we were attached at the hip.  Two peas in a pod.  A couple of renegades taking on the world together.  I even rode off into the sunset with him.  Straight down to the ends of the earth where the sunset lasts for ages....the Florida Keys.  Those were crazy fun times.

Then we came back home and started making a life together. And babies.  Wonderful, sweet, beautiful babies.  Things were hard in the beginning, as they usually are.  I wish that was as hard as it ever would've been.  

I couldn't have imagined or manufactured the hell our life has become.  I wouldn't even wish what's happened to our family on my worst, most hated enemy.  There was no way to predict or stop it, either.  For now I've just got to go with the flow.  Not rock the boat.  Try to find balance in it all.

A blog? Why not.....

I feel much like that lady up there.  The one with the giant boat on top of her head.  How could she not know it's there?  It's soooooo obvious. . . . but where did that come from?  

Recent events in my life have had me asking that question constantly.  Where did these huge children come from and what did they do with my sweet little babies?  Five dogs?  5??  A couple of peacocks ready to hatch yet another?  A husband who's gone off his rocker?  And where did all of this homeschooling stuff come from?


Things are coming out of the woodwork all over the place and multiplying before my eyes.  Good.  Bad.   And ugly.  The very, very ugly.

I need a place to put it all out there and hopefully figure it out along the way. So I won't feel like I'm walking around with a ship on my head for all the world to see.  Even though, I sort of am.  By starting this little online journal, I realize I'm putting my ship on display.  But in a semi-private, nobody really knows me, I'm just a non-important blip on the screen kind of way.  

Prepare to be shocked, amazed, horrified and even maybe a little offended.  Not that I'm intentionally offensive.  In fact, you may be offended FOR me about some things.  I know I was.  Hopefully there's a few kindred spirits out there who can understand where I'm coming from.  
Header PS Brush by