21 Years Long

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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.

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Step-Parenting: Working as a Team

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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.

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We are a Team, We are a Family.

People. Hermit crabs. I want to be a hermit crab.

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So wow. It’s um.. June. Apparently I’ve slacked off on the blog, but I’ve been keeping busy in my physical journals, so it’s all good. Honestly, I’ve been struggling with writer’s block for the last few months, and I can’t seem to break through. Most of my journaling has become diary-esque entries, just to empty my brain.

I haven’t really wanted to write anything political on here. Well, because it’s too easy. Has anyone seen the state of our government or current administration? Red or Blue, it’s basically a shit show, and nothing I say is going to change anything at the moment anyway. I’ve stuck to picking fights on facebook posts to amuse my political side.

Other than that, everything is pretty good. Jon’s daughter is here for the summer, she’s a few years younger than Noodle, but they get along well enough. No blood has been shed anyway, and they both have someone to play with if they want. Definitely a cool little squirt though, can see a lot of her Dad in her. Although there is some issues with her mother, Jon’s been trying to get a hold of her about some things he wants to discuss regarding their child, and she hasn’t been answering for almost a month now. I’m willing to bet that this is going to go the same way my past relationships have re: lazy baby mamas. Joy. Whatever though, thanks to the last two major relationships, I have enough experiences with boyfriend’s exes to tide me over for a lifetime and a half.

Jon is home for the summer too, switching jobs currently, looking at working at a local PD. So while he tests/trains for that, he gets to hang with the kids (which is also a bonus because we avoid childcare then). Plus, I think it’d be nice for him to get to spend the summer with his squirt, who knows what shift he’ll be working next.

However, with the kids being home all summer, I’m definitely not minding going into work nearly as much as I normally do.

I jest.

Kind of.

Beyond that, the garden is in and thriving. We’ve got 3 different pepper plants (one of which is bearing fruit), 4 different tomato plants (including, cherry, roma and an heirloom). 2 different kinds of lettuce, carrots, green onions, green beans, cucumbers.. and my blueberry bushes are actually producing this year! I’m thrilled.

My health is actually okay. I still have some bad days with the headaches, crohns and IST, but it’s much more manageable now. When I have a flare up or episode, it’s more of an annoyance instead of a do-not-pass-go-do-not-collect-$200-go-straight-to-bed.

Noodle is doing great too! 10 years old now, she just had a birthday a couple weeks ago and a family party at the house. Spoiled kid got even more spoiled. She’s been having fun this year riding her bicycle and little dirtbike, now she’s got roller blades to learn. She’s definitely growing up so fast, and I’m more than proud of the lady she’s growing into.

Well other than all of that nonsense, it’s business as usual here. Thought I’d pop in and write a little. Hope everyone is having a great summer.

 

 

Twas a 4 Day Weekend..

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So today was the first day back at work after 4 days off. The prior week we also had a long weekend, and only worked 2 days. Lets just say it was a lot more needed than I originally thought. The stress from work and every day stuff had really been building up, and I hadn’t noticed how bad. So it was bliss. I could tell the difference while I was driving into work this morning, (Stevie goes in before me.. haha) I wasn’t making a list of the things I’d need to take care of, and my shoulders weren’t up to my ears. It was very fun, and very laid back and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Thursday, my family came over for the short one’s birthday, in addition to two of her friends. It was so relaxing just to chit chat, have some beers and grill (the new grill rocks!) while the kids tore around the yard. Noodle LOVES her new bike, and is having conniption fits over all her other toys and clothes. She had the biggest smile on her face the whole day! Birthday Number 9 was a success!

Friday was for relaxing. Just took care of some things around the house, and then Steve and I sat outside and had some beers with the neighbors. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again, I adore that family. They are like my second family, and if they end up moving this year, I don’t know what I’m going to do without them.

Saturday we had Steve’s uncle and aunt over for more grilling. Noodle went and played next door and got spoiled. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard in a long time. Seriously, it was one of those laughing fits where you know there’s a distinct possibility that you might pee yourself. I absolutely adore his family so far, which is a bonus!

Sunday, we worked on the yard and garden. I had already planted, but I wanted to weed again, thin the radishes and put my tomato cages up. We cleaned and organized the shed, put my AC units in, and finished up the house. The end of the weekend was spent sitting on the deck for dinner and enjoying the beautiful weather. My little Noodle was at a sleepover, so it was a kid free evening too!

Seriously, it was a wonderful weekend. Between my daughter making me smile, and Steve making me smile, I don’t think I got grumpy at all (well except before my morning coffee, that’s a given). I can’t wait until our mini vacation next month, it’s going to be great.

I do have to say that I’m really happy with the way things are going with everything. The house, work, Noodle, my relationship with Stevie. Everything’s pretty smooth. It’s been a while since I’ve been consistently happy. I’m glad life took this turn, it’s about time. :)

 

Fear and Loathing – IBD/IST and New Friends/Relationships

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Hi. My name is Sarah. I like animals, crafts, and the outdoors. I like to read and write, and oh yeah! Before I forget! I also have a couple random chronic conditions that unfortunately occasionally put my butt in the hospital, and require paramedics. Don’t worry about that though! You can save up all of your bitterness for years down the road and throw it in my face when we argue! It’s all good.

Yeah, I’m not very good at meeting new people. Friends, Lovers, or otherwise. I’ve had the same group of friends (most of whom I consider my family) throughout the majority of my illnesses. It took me a long time to cultivate those friendships from hospital beds, and ambulance bays. I learned who my real friends were, and I also learned that my being ill, can destroy relationships quicker than a bullet to the gut.

I’ve learned that even the most caring people can’t take loving a friend with a chronic illness. Romantic relationships seem to take the hardest hit. Eventually there is just this large amount of bitterness, resentment almost, because I intentionally or unintentionally change plans and lifestyles. Over the last decade, I’ve watched relationships crumble, friends fade away, and family get frustrated. It’s not for everyone, and it takes an extremely strong person to stand by someone with a chronic disease.

Naturally, after all this time, I’ve become almost.. paranoid about telling people about my illnesses. I try to take care of it right up front, just to get it out of the way. That way some people just back out right then. Either way, it’s out in the open. However, if I’m actually sick, like most other people with chronic illnesses, I tend to hide it. I walk through the pain, I make excuses for when I cancel plans, I pay extra care to my make up and clothes. We are experts at hiding what’s going on inside of ourselves.

Of course, I meet someone when I’m sick. I meet someone when I’m headed down a rough road. So of course, I try to hide it, “I’m fine” and “I’m okay, I’m sure”. However, sometimes you just can’t hide it, no matter how hard you try. The truth is right out there, in their face. Right out in the open, obvious. You. Are. Sick.

Well, here I go, I guess it’s just another risk I have to.. no, want to take. I just have to learn to be honest, and up front. Hiding it from someone I care about isn’t fair, they won’t know what’s real, and what’s fake.

So, hello. My name is Sarah. I have a chronic illness called Crohns Disease, as well as Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia. My life isn’t simple, but it’s one hell of a ride, welcome to it!

 

It’s been a long month.

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It’s been a busy, busy month. As most of you know, I have some health problems. Apparently, in addition to Crohns, my heart apparently has some quirks too.

My heart itself is fine, it just decides to beat excessively fast than it should at inappropriate times. It’s called Inappropriate Sinus Tachycardia (which is part of SVT). It’s practically harmless, but insanely terrifying, especially if you don’t know what’s going on.. which I didn’t for the first few weeks it was happening. I’d be sitting down relaxing, or in the shower, and my heart rate would shoot towards 200.

So this month has been filled with appointments with cardiologists, kidney specialists, and an electrophysioligist. I had an heart study last week, with the hope to pinpoint and maybe to do an ablation if possible (before they thought it was IST).

For now I’m just going without medication. I had tried one, but it dropped my heart rate too low and I need to think on it. I have another appointment with my EP in 2 weeks to discuss. I guess I’m just happy knowing what’s going on, not as scary otherwise.

Beyond that, things have been pretty good. With all the crap going on, I was able to realize what was really important and what I actually wanted out of life. I’ve been spending a lot of time hanging out with Noodle as well as working on projects at home. Now that I have the heart stuff starting to get figured out, I’m going to focus on extra curricular stuff for Noodle and new social ground for myself. I do have to say, thinking you’re having a heart attack a few times, really helps you get over a break up. Haha.

Now it’s just time to weasel out some good swimming classes for the kid, and I’d like to find one of those beer & book clubs for myself. Wish me luck!

Christmas Time Lessons

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When I was in 5th grade, Christmas was looking pretty much like hell. My mother was dying of cancer, bills were abundant, and my parents were miserable.

My parents friends and co-workers got together and bought us presents, all of us, dressed someone up as Santa Claus and showed up at our house one night. That was looking like a really hard Christmas, and thanks to the goodness of our community, our last Christmas with my mom was great! I remember tearing through presents, while my mom sobbed with happiness. As I got older, every year I’ve reflected on it and felt blessed.

A month ago, my ex left. When he left, he took things I’m still discovering are gone. I came home to an empty house, with a beat up couch, the freezer, 2 plates and some glasses left. I was given one month to get a replacement for the couch and freezer on top of trying to figure out how to afford pots and pans, lamps, tables, plates, utensils.. the list goes on.  I had to figure out how to replace stuff I had taken for granted since my first apartment.. then pay my ex’s portion of the bills he flaked on. It honestly looked like Christmas was out of the question. My heart broke, not just because I was betrayed, but because it looked like I wouldn’t be able to give my daughter a decent home AND Christmas presents.

So after I cleaned up the mess he left the night I got back home, I put Ashley to bed and sat on my kitchen floor and tried to figure out what I was going to do.

In the month since, I’ve found out horrible things about my ex, heartbreaking things, it’s been rough facing them, but this whole time? My family, friends, even people I haven’t seen in years, even people I’ve never met in person have rallied around Noodle and I. From couches to tables, to plates and silverware, pots and pans to hand towels started arriving or being dropped off. Books and pens, more cards than I can count. So while I covered bills, people who care about us covered what I needed, provided support and an ear. More recently.. presents. Noodle has received presents from family I haven’t seen in forever, and dear friends, I’ve gotten a few too. Hand delivered, fed exed, and left on my doorstep. I had managed to use what little money I had saved to get stocking stuffers and a few small things, but friends chipped in so I could pick out a few more.

A month ago I felt lost. I was worried, in tears and scared. Almost two decades after family and friends took care of my family the first time, it happened again.

The best part of everything that has happened? In one month, I went from feeling so incredibly sad and alone, to knowing I’m far from alone. In one month I learned how much people care for Noodle and I. I was lucky enough to watch a community rally behind us and stand with us, not once but twice. I am lucky enough to know, that while things will be rough for a little while, I know that we’ll be okay. I know that I have friends, that we’re not alone. I went from dreading Christmas to looking forward to it.

I think I learned the best Christmas lesson, twice. The world may be a scary place, but there are a lot of good people left. Knowing this, is the best Christmas present I could ask for.