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Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Broken Bill Blog. Or, the Mindful Mommy Blog

It wasn’t until I took a couple hours to work outside in my garden while Bill watched both kids one sunny Saturday that I realized I may actually be getting the hang of this ‘mom’ gig.  

I came back in, sweaty and streaked with dirt and tomato juice and covered in red-ant poop.  (I can only assume the poop, judging by the amount of red ants in my front flower garden that my soil now consists of roughly 50% dirt and 50% red ant poop).  I think they eat their dead, don’t they?  Seems like an efficient-ant thing to do.  So at least there’s no ant-graveyards I’m mucking through.  Just ant-landfills.  Wait - do they eat their own poop!?  That would be REALLY efficient.  

I digress.  There were a lot of red ants.  I don’t like to use pesticides in where I’m digging around so until I find the nest I’m enduring the infestation, carefully, for now.

I grabbed a quick shower while they both cried.  Then I fed Benji and got him down for his nap, gave Ellie her second breakfast, and started folding the laundry.  All while Bill sat in the big brown chair in the living room, TV off, gazing out the window without moving.  

Have you ever seen someone in a catatonic state?  They’re there, but no one’s THERE, you know?

I waved my hand in front of his face.  I asked if he was ok.  Slowly his head turned to my direction but his higher-order brain functions were slower to react.  No sound came from his mouth as he stared bleakly at me.

“Are you ok sweetie?  Did they break you?”  

He seemed unable to speak.  I do so have compassion for broken things.  

I ruffled the little hairs on his head.  “Why don’t you go wash the cars?”  I said gently.  He loves to wash his car.  That seemed to perk him up because although he still wasn’t speaking, he did shuffle out to the garage with only a minimum of strange ‘nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh’ sounds and repetitive rocking.

It took him until the next day to be back to his usual self.  And that’s when I thought, huh.  I’M not almost ready for the loony bin.  Well, I am, but in the high-functioning wing at least.  That’s when I realized, wow.  I’m DOING THIS.  And since everyone is healthy and safe and (mostly) clean at the end of the day, I’m doing a pretty good job, too.  Good job, me.

It’s nice I had that revelation because he’s been away this weekend on a quick weekend trip with some friends.  Before you react, let me tell you I had two choices for this trip.  

1) Tell him no, you can’t go on your yearly trip.  (Ew, hate that).  Stew in resentment and bitterness and begrudge every tantrum and epic mess I have to clean by myself and ensure HE has a terrible time, knowing I’m suffering and he’s living it up.

2) Store up some good karma for me by blessing his vacation and sending him nothing but good thoughts for a relaxing and fun time away, knowing my time will come too, it will just take a little longer.

I’ve opted for ‘storing up good karma’.  

Why?  Because it makes me happier.  And, this weekend hasn’t actually been too bad.  It hasn’t been EASY, but it’s been fine.

My mantra for this weekend (Mantra being something you say over and over again) Be here.  Now.  

It blows my mind how often I’m not here, now.  I’m driving but my mind is on tomorrow, or next week, or next year.  I’m showering but I’m thinking of what happened yesterday, or what I need to do tonight.  It is rare, extremely rare, for me to just Be Here.  Now.  And I’m like, the ‘mindfullness lady’.  I am always trying to be ‘present’ in the moment, trying to let go of plans for tomorrow and my obsessions over what happened yesterday.  Just focusing on what is happening around me at that moment.  

And you know what?  It’s usually pretty pleasant, right now in THIS moment.  Being able to let go of the frustrating things that JUST happened (the tantrum about getting water instead of juice in the sippy cup.  Or the shock and indignation of yet another diaper change).  

Everyone is quiet RIGHT NOW.  The sun is shining.  There are cookies to eat.  Here.  Now.  Everything is wonderful.

I might lose my cool in two minutes.  But right now, I’m patient-kind-mama.  The kind of mom I want to be.  And in three minutes, after maybe I lose my cool, I’ll be patient-kind mama again because I’m not dwelling on my mistakes.

It’s not a bad way to live.

"You cannot both be unhappy AND be fully present in the now."  Eckhart Tolle.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

TINY TANTRUM TIME-BOMBS. AKA, my adorable children.

Let me set the scene.  

I got not one but TWO boxes of my favorite cashew-milk ‘ice-cream’ treats, as a special treat to me after an exhausting hour at the grocery store.  

I’m rushing to get the last few items before they kick me and my adorable SCREAMING progeny out of the store, the city and possibly the state, for disturbing the peace.

I get us all home without losing my mind, despite the screaming continuing in the now tiny confines of the family-mobile.  (For those of you without young kids at home, I can assure you it doesn’t matter WHY, because, for the record, they don’t need a reason.)

Benji’s crying and screaming because he’s tired and teething.  (Or his onsie is too tight or he’s too hot or…)

Ellie is screaming because he’s screaming.  Or because I wouldn’t get her gum.  Or because I told her to stop hanging off the cart handles.  Or because her shoes got wet.  Or because I didn’t let her close the freezer door in the frozen food section.

Point is, WHY never really matters because there is little you can do to prevent the tantrums.  All you can do is pull on your ‘I’m the adult so it’s up to me to not lose my cool’ big-girl panties, grit your teeth, and like a good colonoscopy exam, grin and bear it.

Anyhow, I’m home and although the screaming continues off and on at least there is no one glaring at me or clearly wishing me and mine would disappear out of their line of vision not to mention hearing range.

I digress.

I rush to get the cold stuff in the freezer.  Only ONE box of my super-special non-ice-cream-caramel-chocolate treats.  


I briefly consider going back for it.  Ridiculous.  Both kids are still hungry, whiny, and in general ticking like the tiny tantrum time-bombs they are.  

Fuming about my box melting in the corner of the cashier’s counter, wondering, did I lose a whole bag?  I'm blaming myself.  I'm blaming the cashier and bagger - what were they, 14?  Clearly they didn't know what they were doing.

After feeding the kids, and finally winning the twice daily fight to get Benji down for a nap, I run out to the garage to check the bag for the receipt.  

Got the receipt.  She only charged me for one box.  Well, that's good I guess.

That’s when I remembered I only put ONE BOX IN THE CART.  They only had one Vanilla so I only got the one box.

What.  Is.  Happening.  To ME!?

When did I devolve into this crazy, absent-minded, last-night’s-mascara-smudged, bewildered, exhausted, just-hanging-on-to-sanity MESS OF A HUMAN BEING!?  

Oh.  Right.  About 8 months, five days, and 22 hours ago.

And THEN, Ellie, just before nap time, asked if I was feeling ok.  And then gave me a big hug.  And patted me on the head.  And told me she loved me.

Then I ate half the box of my special chocolate treats while they slept and decided it was a pretty good day after all.

“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice safe playpen.  When they’re finished, I climb out.”  Erma Bombeck

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Dysentery Concerns and a GET OUT!! Review

Ellie and I were out in the garden today, watering the cantaloupe seedings, checking on the withering tomato plants and gathering some of my organic green peppers.  Well, Ellie was using her trowel to fling dirt around the garden.  I was muttering, weeding, and batting away the bugs.

Sounds idyllic doesn’t it?

I used some of the water we were watering the plants with to wash off a couple lingering red tomatoes.  Hours later, when I began to feel a little sick to my stomach I realized that water had been sitting in the Texas sun for about 3 days…

You see, I fill up the jugs and let them sit overnight so the chlorine settles off, then water the plants the next morning.  Only, it had rained the last couple days so I hadn’t needed to water them.

In any case luckily two of my very good friends are nurses so, they assured me all I had to do was mix some bleach with a gallon of water and drink it and I’d be fine.  

It’s hard to find good friends these days.  In their defense they DID stop me before I actually drank any bleach.  (Do NOT drink bleach if you think you have dysentery…) It sounded just fine to me, let’s kill all those…whatever’s that must have been teeming, squirming, multiplying in that warm water for three days.  

Anyway since I was up late obsessing about what the heck was percolating in my stomach, Bill and I watched a movie.

We watched ‘Get Out’.  Which, if you haven’t heard of it, is like a horror movie for people who don’t like horror movies.

It was about a young black man that gets trapped with some crazy rich white people.  It explored subtle and overt racism all while being suspenseful and entertaining.  There was a line from the movie where the main character says that being around too many white people make him nervous. 

And you FELT nervous for him.  You felt the looks, the on-the-edge anxiety, and I’m WHITE.  So, so white.  Surrounded as I am by white people in my little white bubble of a life. 

I think any movie that can transport me out of my life and into the shoes of someone different (a young black man) and make me feel what he’s feeling is, magic.  It was like a good book, building on mood, making you identify with the character so you feel like you’re a part of them, and they’re a part of you.

I turned to a friend the other day and said, so, where’s all the black people?  They aren’t where I shop, where I live, where I get gas, or where Ellie goes to school.  And then I went to a part of town kind of far from where I live because there was a second hand kids clothing bazaar thingie they have twice a year.  

Anyway, it was in a run-down gym, and on one half of the gym there were basketball games being played and I said, oh.  Here they all are.  Here at this gym in this poorer neighborhood and THEN I thought, this is evidence, right here.  

Evidence that there is a divide, that something has happened, and is continuing to happen to a whole group of people right under our pert little noses.

If you look around you, and all you see is white people, GET OUT!  Ok, no, but just think about it.  There are lots of black people in America.  Where are they?

Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob, and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
 -Frederick Douglass (Speech on the twenty-fourth anniversary of emancipation in Washington. D.C.)

Sunday, July 09, 2017

This 'Girl' has something to say

This blog is late.

It’s late for two reasons

 It’s my birthday MONTH!  I’m turning 25 again.  I’ve been busy making myself cakes and going to painting classes (no kidding!) and in general making such a fuss over myself I haven’t had time to think about what to write.
Dean Koontz has another book out and EVERY SINGLE MOMENT I have free has been spent reading ‘The Silent Corner.’  If I could have multitasked by showering and catching up on a few pages and not ruining the book, I would have.

I have a love/surprise relationship with Dean Koontz novels.  I started reading them when we still lived on Ryan Road.  (A looooong time ago!)  Dad had brought them home from work because he was reading them.  Which is strange now that I think about it because he doesn’t really read anything other than westerns, usually.

I digress.  I read ‘Dragon Tears’ maybe?  And was hooked.  I remember I read a Stephen King novel around the same time and I couldn’t help but compare the two, as they were both technically ‘horror’.  But Dean’s novel was so much more than that.  It was scary, yes, but it was also beautiful, and poignant.  It was dark but with ribbons of light and humor and hope that were all the brighter because of the shadowy events that occurred in the story.

All that to say, when I was 15 or 16 and reading both Stephen King and Dean Koontz for the first time I realized that I wanted, as a writer, and what I didn’t.  (I was a serious writer at 15 you know…I get less serious about it the older I get.)

I even made myself a little plaque to hang above my computer which I’ve since lost but it read something like ‘The monsters will never win in my stories.  Justice will prevail, goodness is more powerful than the vilest evil, blah blah, blah, lots of pretentious verbiage, etc, you get the picture.

It made me feel less silly to hope for miracles, and to believe in things I couldn’t see but could feel.  (Like God, and intuition, and gifts like discernment and other non-corporeal things).

So now you know how important these books were to me, and even, I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch to say, helped form my very character.  Or at least, encourage it in the direction it was already going.  Anyone who knows me well knows I was also facing my own death at this time.  So, lots of ‘big’ questions swirling around my soft teenage head.  Questions these books seemed to ask and answer, all the while entertaining me mightily.

And now.  I’m turning 25 (again for the 12th time) and I’m reading his newest novel and I love it but, like an old friend you haven’t seen in awhile, you realize if you met them RIGHT NOW, and you didn’t know their history and already love them, you might not be friends with them.  At least, not close friends.  You realize they hold opinions and beliefs that you don’t share, that you even (maybe aggressively) disagree with.

Or maybe it’s just little things that tweak me the wrong way.  I’ll give one example and then I’ll wrap up - you’re busy.  I was watching al old Kirk Douglas movie while trying to get Benji to sleep last night and one of the characters kept referring to ‘that girl’.  ‘The girl’ is coming to dinner.  I pictured a 10 year old girl and didn’t realize it until it panned to ‘the girl’ and it was a 30 year old WOMAN.  I was confused.  That isn’t a girl, that’s a woman.  What are they talking about?

I didn’t think anything more of it until, in this newest novel, there is a scene where a kindly older character refers to the main character as ‘ the girl with eyes as blue as the sky’ and then apologizes later saying some people (obviously boorish and vapid and full of themselves) that would feign offense at him calling her ‘a girl’.  She agrees.  Political correctness run amuck, she says.  (Paraphrasing)

And so, yes, and no.  The character in the book is no more a ‘girl’ than my almost 50 year old husband would ever be called ‘a boy’.  

“Let’s invite that boy to supper!”  Said no one, ever, about a grown man.  Unless it’s the south and he’s black and it’s derogatory.  

So, things like that where on the surface I agree, but then in reality, no, it ISN’T ok, and yes, it IS annoying.  Unless you call all men boys and all women girls than, ok, call me a girl.  But there are connotations and assumptions when you say ‘girl’.  Sweet.  Little.  Quiet.  Innocent.  Helpless.

Which I think we can all agree, most of the women in our lives, the real ones, and the character in his newest novel, are not.

So, anyway, there’s that.  I will still buy anything he ever writes, in hardcover, because his writing is captivating and beautiful and makes me sit on the edge of my seat and bite my nails, makes me laugh and cry, shudder with horror and grin with delight.  And I have hope.  I’ll end with one of my favorite Dean Koontz quotes:

“If there’s cake, there’s hope.  And there’s always cake.”  Dean Koontz.

Saturday, July 01, 2017

There’s mac and cheese for dinner tonight (again) and other reasons I’ll never win ‘mom of the year’.

When you let your three year old go on her iPad while she eats breakfast, she will begin asking for it AS SOON AS SHE WAKES UP IN THE MORNING.  

If you’ve been up half the night walking the floors with a teething 7 month old, your reply will be ‘sure.’  Enjoy that with a dollop of guilt and a dash of ‘I’m not a worthy human being already today and it isn’t 7:15am yet.’  Simmer for 24 hours and enjoy while still hot.

I punished myself yesterday.  

Ellie had a melt-down in a restaurant and actually hit me.  I have been using time outs when needed but difficult to do that in a crowded restaurant.  So.  “No electronics for the rest of the day!”  I said firmly, my heart sinking.  

Around 5:23pm while I was trying to make supper, watch her squish play-doh cookies into being, and soothe a cranky baby I thought, this is how ‘mom of the year’ mom’s feel.  

Cranky, exhausted, snappish, but with a wonderful sense of entitlement and the haughtiness only a willing sacrificial lamb could feel.

Fortunately the feeling was short lived as Ellie was back on her IPad today at breakfast.  

Back to a calm (ish), manageable household, and my familiar guilty conscience.  Back to the ‘I’m not worthy’ pie I eat morning, lunch, and dinner.  (Supper, to my Canadian friends).

  For Brunch, tea time, and seconsies, for my Lord of the Ring fans.  

I won’t waste your time with all of the many reasons why I’ll never win ‘mom of the year’ - suffice to say, that particular award will never sit on my dusty, dusty mantle.

I always wanted to be ‘fun parent’.  Why?  Because I’m really just a huge six year old at heart, and I love all the things kids love.  Painting, playing with play-doh, coloring, trampoline, swimming, singing off key.  Eating ice cream for breakfast.

I digress.

It is clear to me now, if not before Benji was born, that whichever parent is the main caregiver, cannot be ‘fun parent’.  Or at least, not all the time.  Not even half of the time.  Why?  

Because you’re forced to spend all day telling them what they CAN’T do.  Here’s an accurate recording of what went on last night, while I was trying to make Kraft Dinner for supper…


"No, please don’t jump off the couch arm onto the other chair.  Let’s play play-doh?  Ok mommy will open the jars for you.  Here’s your toys that go with the play-doh.  Yes, I will look for your Beauty and the Beast play-doh knife.  Here it is.  OK?

No, you can’t eat play doh it’s just for play.  Even if it looks like a strawberry.  No, Ellie, please don’t EAT THE PLAY DOH.  Don’t put the play-doh lids in your mouth either.  Why don’t you go see how Benji is doing?  

Ok. please stop hugging your brother now, he can’t breathe.  Hey, Ellie, where’s the dog?  Where’s Toby?  Oh you found him good job.  Ok Ellie let go of Toby’s tail now.  Ellie.  ELLIE!  LET GO OF HIS TAIL RIGHT NOW…"

And now it’s 5:27pm...

And I must say, to all my fellow bewildered, exhausted, scatterbrained mommies, I love you.  

You are doing the most important job on the entire planet.  You know it is, it’s REALLY for real important because no one thinks about it.  No one thanks you for NOT raising a sociopath.  No one is fighting to give mom’s who stay at home a livable wage so they can take care of their kids.  That’s how you know it’s really, really important.  Because the world doesn’t have it’s priorities straight.  Yet.

And for those moms who have it ALL TOGETHER and love every minute and never suffer one moment’s self-doubt while they stay up until 2am sewing their children their school uniforms for the home-school program they developed themselves…I have nothing to say to you, because I’m pretty sure that, like unicorns, perfect mom’s don’t exist.

After all, I’m pretty sure if you asked, your kids would say they want a happy mom, not a perfect one.

"I don't care how old I am.  If I lose my mom in the supermarket I will panic."  (Anonymous)