Coffee & Alone Time

Standard

So the short kid started 7th grade today. I know it sounds super cliche, but I swear, she was just a toddler who was working on potty training. Now she’s an angsty preteen in middle school. The old adage of “You’ll blink and they’ll be grown up” is really true.

I’m definitely proud of how far she has come, and what she’s accomplished thus far. I know she’s going to grow up as a intelligent, down to earth woman. In the meantime, I hope she doesn’t flunk out of Honors Math.. as it was damn close last time. Haha.

As odd as it is to have everyone out of the house, I am enjoying it. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve had alone time since the beginning of summer.. and still have fingers left over. It was a very, very hectic summer, and to be frank, I’m glad it’s over. Just having the house to myself, being able to tackle the chores and start dinner is glorious.

Just attempting to get back into the normal flow of things, now that life has settled down a bit. The last few months just really wore me down. We had a lot of issues with Jon’s daughter, and without getting into it too much, she needs very intensive long term therapy before she can come back to visit. Now that that seems to be underway, it’s time for me to focus on my own daughter and my own life.

One thing I’ve learned, or rather re-learned this summer, is that when you are trying to take care of everyone else, you cannot neglect yourself. It becomes all to easy to just throw yourself into holding your family or friends together, that you just forget about you. It’s easy to brush off “me-time” with the excuse that you’ll always have time later. It’s easy to put off activities and hobbies that you enjoy because it’s just too hectic.. or worse, it seems wrong when everything else seems to be going downhill. I’m definitely guilty of it, and especially so this last summer. Now it’s time to get back to my life and the rest of my family.

Other than all of that, things are pretty okay in my world. Just paying attention to the shit show that is our political climate in the United States, and trying to enjoy the rest of the warm weather for the year. Our garden didn’t fair too well this year, so I’m trying to salvage what I can out of it, plan out how to prep it this fall, and what to plant next year. I’m going to add fertilizer & soil this fall and make sure it’s all weeded, and hopefully with a different layout next year, it’ll do better. I hope. Planning on laying some grass seed around our new fire pit and in the front yard this fall too, trying to get grass to grow in the shady areas is super difficult for me.

So that’s it for now. I figured I’d do an update post as I haven’t had much of a chance lately, and am also stuck with writer’s block again. Hope it lets up soon. Happy August y’all.

Advertisements

Friends & Differing Political/Moral Opinions

Standard

For about a year I kept seeing this meme float around Facebook & Twitter:
Politics and Friends

Fucking wrong. This shit irritated me any time I saw it.. because what it’s essentially saying, is that you should respect someone even if they believe in taking your rights away. That you should continue to remain friends with someone who has vastly different morals from you, or even no morals, despite the fact that it makes you uncomfortable. It essentially says that you should shut up if one of your friends believes in some horrible shit.

It’s fucking wrong.

You do not have to be friends, or hell, even tolerate someone who is morally corrupt, or actively working to/or voting for politicians who are taking away your rights. You do not have to be friends with, or respect someone who is racist, homophobic, sexist or is literally cheering on the concentration camps at our border.

You also don’t have to be friends with someone who slut-shames, someone who participates in class warfare, or someone who doesn’t believe that the poor deserve healthcare and education.

You should not be friends with, respect, or remain in contact with someone who is actively demeaning a social class, race, sex or anything of the sort. You know why?

  1. You’re enabling them.
  2. You’re letting them know it’s okay to be homophobic, racist, classist, sexist etc.
  3. Because you do NOT have to respect, stay in contact with or even be around someone who is in favor of stripping your own rights, or rights of those you love. You are not obligated to love, like, respect, or be around ANYONE. Period.

There’s a clear difference in differing opinions and having polar opposite morals.

I am friends with a few conservatives, but there is a clear understanding that A. They don’t have to be friends with me if they don’t want, and B. That their opinions do not effect my autonomy. I am however NOT friends with people who are racist, homophobic, who wouldn’t support me if I ever needed an abortion or who are blatantly classist. I will not be friends with someone who instead of talking with me about women’s healthcare rights, accuses women who need abortions of being sluts. I will not be friends with someone who believes that just because you can’t afford healthcare, that you don’t deserve it. I will not be friends with someone who hates someone else just because of the color of their skin, who they fall in love with or their accent.  I will not be friends with someone who supports life in jail for a woman who gets an abortion, but not only lets a rapist go free, but ALLOWS THEM VISITATION OF THE CHILD. (FUCK YOU ALABAMA).

By “respecting” someone who is literally striping the rights and lives away from others, you are just enabling them.. and thus you are part of the problem.

Family Isn’t Just Blood, and Blood Doesn’t Mean Family

Standard

I come from a very blended family. My immediate family consists of my Dad, Sister, Step Mom, Step Sister & Brother. My extended family is the same, with random marriages here and there, step siblings, grandpas, parents. We’re a pretty mixed bunch, and I completely love it.

Though as some of you know, I don’t stay in touch with my mother’s family. 90% of it is we are just living different lives, and lost touch over the years. Some of them I avoid because they’re toxic human beings who made me miserable and influenced my life in negative ways. Hell, while I now know my Dad’s side of the family (estranged for most of my not-adult life thanks to shit I had no control over), and I love talking with them, I’m also not super close to them. It is what it is, and just because we share some kind of genetics doesn’t mean I have to force them to hang out with me, or go out of my way to hang out with them.

I will go out of my way to help or spend time with my immediate family, not so much outside of it. However, I also include other people in my “family”. I have close friends who I consider family, people who have been there for me during the rough times as well as the good times. Hell, I would drive across the damn country if I was needed. That’s what family does.

My point being, is that it doesn’t matter your actual blood relation, adoption, or marriage for that matter.. what counts is your actions. Just because you’re related to one another doesn’t mean that there has to be some sort of relationship, that also means that you don’t have to tolerate negativity from someone just because they’re “related” to you.

While I learned this lesson long ago, someone close to me is learning it now, and it’s hard to watch it unfold even though I’m happy to see them standing up for themselves. This person has been struggling with their family’s constant monitoring of them, and their need for constant contact for years now. I’ve watched it unfold as they were expected to drop everything, regardless of their plans to preform some menial task for family. Over the years, as this person learned tasks that are pretty essential to being an adult, they started to wonder why their family didn’t teach them any of this, and why it seems like they were set up to fail. Hell, I wondered that much myself. All it took was them standing up for themselves and asking their parents to stop doing something illegal and frankly absolute bullshit for the threats to begin.

It was the eye-opening moment for them, they were able to see that if their family doesn’t get what they want, or the control they apparently crave, they will attempt to undermine this person’s livelihood. 

Unfortunately, sometimes that’s just the way it is. All you can do is accept whatever behavior your “family” has, accept their attitude, and ask yourself: “Is this what I’m going to subject myself with for the the foreseeable future?” You can either deal with it, accept the negativity or back away, limit contact or cut them out of your life.

No one should have to put up with blackmail, negativity, abuse, or any of that in their life just because “they’re family”. That’s an absolute horseshit excuse. Just because someone is “family” to you, doesn’t mean you get to use them, threaten them, or control them.

That’s not what family is, and family is more the blood.

Doubting Your Parenting Abilities : How You Know You’re On The Right Track

Standard

My short one came out of her room the other night, talking about how she only had one pair of jeans and couldn’t find her leggings. I asked her if she had gone through her clothes lately to see what fit and didn’t, and she exclaimed she did (she didn’t) and actually got teary eyed.

In reality, it’s about the time of year where I buy her a few pairs of jeans, some decent tops. Then in the spring, she gets tank tops and a few shorts. Then around her June birthday, she gets clothing from her grandmother (who picks out really good stuff). We’re not destitute, my child does have some leggings (they’re just too bright colored! Not cool enough for her punk look she has going on) and she has jeans, somewhere.

Yet that night, I sat there after she went to bed and beat myself up. My god, my child only has one pair of jeans that she wants to wear! She had a growth spurt and didn’t have anything to wear! I must suck as a parent. Then I thought about how I picked on her for her part in her hair the other day. I told her she looked like Avril Lavigne, instead of remembering how we chuckled about it, I worried that maybe I had hurt her feelings. After that I worried about how cooped up she has been since it’s winter. I felt like a bad mom because I hadn’t done anything outside with her (despite her thinking she’s too cool to play in the snow).

It was a long road down into a worry filled well of self doubt. Then I remembered what I’ve told numerous other mothers, and reminded myself that I need to take my own words to heart.

If you worry about how good of a parent you are, you’re fine. It’s when you stop worrying, stop caring, that’s when you’re in trouble.

A lot of my friends have children now, and a lot of them are reaching ages where they voice discontent with their parents. Time and time again, I see my fellow moms on facebook beating themselves up over whether or not they’re a good mom. Hell, I’ve even seen a couple dads do it. Our kids whine, our kids complain, and we look at other parents and compare ourselves to them. Are we good enough?

We wonder if not buying our kids the newest tablet makes us a bad parent because “all my friends have one! Why can’t I?!” We wonder that the new tablet we did buy our kids makes us a bad parent, as we’re being bombarded left and right by the news and other parents about our children’s time spent on electronics. Our kids don’t seem to have the right looking clothes, or the right sizes (damn those growth spurts!) or the right BRAND of shoes. They don’t have the newest gaming console, or maybe they do? Does that make us bad parents because they’re spoiled? We had to ground our kids for not doing their chores, and we can hear them crying in their rooms. Did we make the right choice? Our kids don’t have set chores and we all help out, are we ruining our children?

Noticing a trend here?

We all worry, and in this current day and age, we are blasted with articles about different ways to raise our children. Every time we turn around, we have social media posts from other moms and dads about how their way is the best way, some of which blatantly say those of us who parent in a different way are damning our children. The fact is, is that my generation, our generation is has so much information about how to parent thrown at us, we struggle a lot with double guessing our own decisions.

I don’t think that’s going to change any time soon, but at the end of the day we need to realize something. We need to realize that we worry about our parenting because we’re trying to do our best by our children. I’m sure we’ll all make mistakes, we’ll all look back and regret some of the choices we’ve made raising our children.. but that’s what makes us good parents. Worrying at night if you did an okay job, proves you’re on the right track.

It’s when you stop worrying, that you have a problem. When you give up on parenting the best way you know how. It’s when you stop caring, that you’re not doing right by your kids. We just need to remember that when we’re beating ourselves up over things, actions, choices, and such.

So to all those parents who haven’t yet purchased the new Xbox.. or who did! You rock! To all those with kids who swear up and down that they have NO clothes to wear! Hang in there! To all those parents who kids are grounded because they acted like an ass.. you’re good! To those parents who just discovered a mountain of clothes in their child’s closet! Buckle in, you got this!

To all those parents, who collapse at the end of each day, wondering if they’re doing a good enough job at raising their kids, relax. You’re doing great!

Winter – Depression & Crohns rear their Collective Heads

Standard

Winter has always been rough for me. My depression and anxiety tend to get worse, usually from late December until spring. Usually my Crohns Disease acts up (my anxiety levels up my symptoms) as well. However, I tend to look at it like this: There’s no better time to be sick and depressed than winter. Why? Because fuck the cold and snow, that’s why.

It’s not big deal though, although I hope my (few) friends understand why I’ve been so distant lately. Sometimes it is just hard to push through the brain fog. So for now, I’ll remain cuddled up on my couch with my books and Reddit.

Life other than all of that is alright.

The kid is doing fantastic, she’s not the biggest fan of school this year, but she’s doing great. She’s got one hell of a personality now, she’s like my little punk rocker. She’s super open minded and accepting of others, and thanks to the current political climate has a firm dislike of racists and nazi-scum. She asked me to give her an undercut the other day, so now she has the underside of her ponytail buzzed and the bottom 4″ of her hair is sea green/blue. She is definitely something else, and despite the daily video calls with her other little gremlin friends, I am indefinitely proud of her.

The boyfriend has been job hopping. Trying to find one that is a good fit for him, might as well take advantage of the interviews and look for a great position and company to work for. Things are going great with us, so nothing new there.

Our Animal House has been good too. Vader (our neighbor’s old cat) has settled into the house fantastically. Smudge is still not too fond of him, but they get along. I do have to say that I love Vader dearly. He is such a sweetheart, I couldn’t ever imagine losing him even though he hasn’t been here nearly as long as Smudge or Thumbs.

Things calmed down with Jon’s ex. That’s something I’m glad is basically over. She had denied him visitation over the summer (I guess she got angry that we questioned her parenting choices and called her bluff on abandoning her daughter at our house). So we took her to court, and her lawyers basically told her to go kick rocks and give us our visitation, do half the driving and let Jon in on all decisions. Unfortunately Jon is still stuck paying for the son that is not biologically his (Ex cheated on him, got pregnant, tried to pin it on Jon) as Pennsylvania will not cancel child support, despite paternity unless another man takes his place. Unfortunately they do not require her to work, so she’s still living off of CS & Welfare. Alas. Just like with my daughters dad NOT paying child support, EVER.. we are completely okay with the kids knowing who does what for them, and seeing us as examples. Neither of us will bad mouth our exes in front of our children, but we also don’t lie.

As for me? I’m still on hiatus from work. I’ve interviewed with a few places over the phone, and turned down several in person interviews. I’m not sure what my plan is for right now, but our situation works for us and I’m enjoying finally being able to spend (forced) time with the kiddo even if she’s at the age where she’s not so keen on it. Ha.

As the months drag on, I still do not regret quitting my last job. I’m reminded almost daily by Timehop showing me the posts about how miserable I was from the last 8 years. I may have my normal depression and anxiety, but I am no longer having daily anxiety attacks about going into that toxic environment. I hear from old coworkers and work contacts every once in a while, and it seems like it hasn’t gotten much better beyond a crackdown. All I can say there folks is I learned a life lesson, one that I’ve drilled into Jon (as he walked from one recently in order to take another higher position) and one that I’m teaching my daughter. Work is work, don’t let them destroy you and your health, because at the end of the day, you are expendable. No job is worth being miserable. Not even one you devoted the better part of your 20’s and early 30’s to it.

So beyond all that rambling, hey. At least I’m writing again. I have been slowly working myself into writing again. Even if it’s just free writing a few sentences a day. I’ve just got to get into the habit. Writing is the easiest way to clear my mind and lift my mood.

On that note. I’m off to eat some chocolate and cuddle with the pupper.

21 Years Long

Standard

Twenty one years ago, I was Ashley’s age. I was in the 5th grade, I had long brown hair that my mother refused to let me cut, and I was even more of a dork that I am now. I still liked to read more than I liked to talk to people, and you could still find me hanging out with animals more than with my friends.

Today, in 2018, we had a pretty standard day. Jon and I had to work, and Noodle had to go to school. So the day started off with Jon getting to work, me having coffee in bed, and Noodle playing around with the cats. A pretty relaxed morning before I had to drop her off at school. She had a regular day at school, I had a regular day at work, and we both got home and are relaxing while Jon makes us stuffed mushrooms for dinner. Right now I’m writing, Ashley’s harassing my sister on Snapchat, and Jon’s listening to his videos while dinner is finishing up. It’s a decent day.

In 1997? It was a much different day. I had woken up in the early morning hours to use the bathroom, only to find out that my mother had fallen into a coma. I remember mumbling “uh okay” and going back to bed just to dwell on the fact that my mom had been too tired to sing her “good night” song to me before bed the night before. I had insisted my little sister go first.. trying to be a good older sister and all. A few hours later, I crawled out of bed to be informed my grandparents were coming to pick my sister and I up for the day. 

We spent the rest of the morning trying to be .. normal? I don’t think my brain quite understood what a coma was being in 5th grade and all. All I knew is that my mom was asleep and not waking up. It was pretty surreal, even when my grandparents encouraged me to crawl into bed with my mom and say goodbye. I remember laying there and praying to whatever god I believed in to let my mom be okay.

Because what 5th grader understands “terminal cancer”? 

I realized maybe 15 minutes later that she wasn’t going to be when my grandmother started describing her version of heaven once we got into her car. 

I don’t remember the rest of that day from 21 years ago. 

… 

21 years have past. Each year that passes I reflect, I remember, and I learn. This year I think is a bit special to me since Ashley and I are the same age. She’s the age I was when I lost my mom.. so this year it just hits a little closer to my heart. So this year? I am grateful for the very simple things. 21 years ago, I was exactly her age, in exactly her grade, and had *just* lost my mother. I was starting on a new, seemingly horrific part of my life. 

Today? I’m sitting next to my own daughter, listening to her send her screeching raptor noises over snap chat to my unsuspecting sister and cracking up. We may not have done anything super fun today, or anything she’ll remember in 21 years, but that’s okay with me. Considering what I remember 21 years ago? I’ll take it. I’m grateful for the simple things, and how lucky I  really am.

 

I miss you mom.

Step-Parenting: Working as a Team

Standard

I don’t think anyone really sets out to be a single parent. I know I didn’t. I had delusions of a wonderful husband, 2.5 kids, and white picket fence.. unfortunately the man who I chose to be my husband was actually too full of himself to treat my daughter and I right. So here I am, or was, a single parent.

As a mom, my kid comes first. She comes before me, she comes before my boyfriend, friends, wants and even needs. I will and have burned bridges for her, and have made sure she was cared for and happy even in my sickest days. My daughter is even the type to like to be tucked in at night, so even when I was in the hospital (if she wasn’t with me), I’d call just to say goodnight and sweet dreams. She is my first thought upon waking up, and last thought upon going to bed. I would cross the world for her, because, that’s what mother’s do!

So when I meet a man I’d like to have a relationship with, I make it known that my kid comes first. I make it damn well known that we are a packaged deal, and if he doesn’t want responsibility down the line, or to forge a relationship with my girl, then he knows to take a hike. I’m very up front about it.

(Jon’s and my first conversation went like this – on both sides: Hi, I have kid(s) and a chronic illness. If that’s a deal breaker.. bye.)

Now days, well, we’ve been dating for almost a year I think? We work as a team. He relies on me to help with his daughter, and I rely on him to help with mine. We may be step-parents to each other’s children, but we work as a team.  Our end goal, is two happy, well-adjusted kids in a stable home. Now that’s not to say that a child can’t live in a stable home and be happy with a single parent, (she did, trust me) that’s just our goal since we’re living together.

We’re a team in our love life, so we’re a team in our family life as well. The point of bringing someone into your home, is to envelope them into your family, so we both raise both children.

This came up recently because someone we know doesn’t feel that way. She’s in a long term relationship with someone, and she also has 2 kids with another on the way. She doesn’t feel like it’s responsibility to help care for the kids since he didn’t father them (oddly enough, she has another guy paying child support for a kid that isn’t his.. so that doesn’t make much sense to me). That baffles me, you have someone that you love and supposedly loves you back, that is living with you and your children, and you don’t expect him to help out with your kids? You don’t have your boyfriend care for them? Does he not pick them up from school? Comfort them when they have a fever? Does he not love your children as part of you? If not, then why be with him?

That baffles me. As a mother, I try to be there as much as possible, but with working full time, I’m not. What I can’t fit into my day, Jon does. He cooks meals, drives her places, picks her up, and has basically taken on a fatherly role for her. The love between those two makes me so happy it’s ridiculous. I know he would go to the end of the earth for not just his daughter, but for mine. I am so proud to have him in our lives, he’s a great dad (Noodle doesn’t call him dad, just Jon FYI).

To think that there is a child out there, with a step-“parent” that can’t be troubled to pick his girlfriend’s daughter up while she’s indisposed… disgusts me to be honest. It just continues the horrible step-parent stereotype! “That’s not my kid, so I’m not doing it”. The worst part is? It shows the child that she isn’t loved, it shows her an unhealthy relationship, which of course she will model as she gets older.

I don’t know, it just really confuses me. Why create a family with a man, but exempt your previous children from it? Why be with someone who you don’t trust to care for your kids, or who doesn’t WANT to? Why fail your children like that?

I’m just confused and disgusted.

 

I’m also grateful for the man I have, and that he and his daughter are part of my family. I will kick some ass for that little girl of his, she deserves the world, just like my Noodle.

20449103_10211478600814454_8727250446140011582_o

We are a Team, We are a Family.