I Get By With a Little Help from my Friends

In my tweet for my last post, I wrote “I get by with a little help from my friends.”  And I do.  Seriously.  I don’t know what I would do without my amazing friends.

I lean on several to get the stuff out of my head.  I talk for hours about my fears and troubles and craziness.  And they listen and give comfort and give advice.  They’re so amazing.  Sometimes I feel like I’m vomiting words, trying to make sense of my life and how I feel and what I will do, and then I apologize for monopolizing the conversations and (lately) always being a downer.  Because they are awesome, they tell me it’s ok and this is how they support me.

If that isn’t enough to have them lend their strength and wisdom, they try their best to take care of me.

My Favorite Freshman drove two hours to be with me on the night I learned of the ruling.  Every time she visits, she thrusts clothes and random stuff for the boys and me into my arms.  She insists on feeding me and donating to the inevitable garage sale coming my way.  She’s promised to drive two hours to sit for me if I ever need it.  Seriously, how lucky am I?  For Mother’s Day, she bought me a family pass to the zoo because “you need to be able to be the fun parent too.”

Another friend insisted on taking me out to the movies the other week because I needed to get out and have fun.  I tried to give her money for the ticket, and she waved it away with “it was my idea.”

I could not function without Wally and Cat.  I know if I needed them, any time of day, they would move heaven and earth to help me.

An old college friend messaged me out of the blue, asking to talk.  We hadn’t talked on the phone for years.  (Stupid Facebook for making us believe we know what was going on in other people’s lives.)  We talked for several hours, and whenever I tried to turn the conversation to her, she would insist that she called to hear about my life.  Then to top off her awesomeness, she sent me a cookbook for cooking for one or two servings.  I thanked her, and she told me she did it to honor my new life and it would give me a reason to stay in contact to tell her how the recipes taste.  And to think, when we met as freshmen in college, she thought I was a bitch and we would never get along.  (She was only half right.)

Then there’s the Unicorn.  Who Tornado A blacklisted on my phone, so we fell out of touch for a few weeks.  She’s so awesome.  I’m so happy for her, and her texts make me so happy.  Then she sent me a whole bunch of stickers and candy and salsa spice mixes.  Yea surprises!  Now if only I could get to the post office to mail all the stuff I’ve been hording for her.

I’m lucky to have more awesome friends.  I know there are several that if I just called, they would talk with me for hours as though time never passed, and if I needed anything, they would totally be there for me.  I told Wally I was blessed.  Then I laughed because I hate using the word “blessed.”

For a while, I felt really guilty for being so lucky.  Then one day it dawned on me that if roles were reversed, I would be doing the same thing.  Before I was poor, I was treating my friends out for dinners and movies and buying them little “smile” gifts.  Before I became really poor, I was sending stickers, cards, and presents when I could.  I look forward to the days I can do that again.  In the meantime, I’m always happy to listen and console.  I’m always happy to babysit and feed people.

Even though a lot of parts of my life suck right now, I’ve got this amazing group of people supporting me.  If I keep my eyes on the prize, nothing is going to stop me.

A little vacation

I took the boys on a little vacation last week.  Just 5 days up to Phoenix.  Two nights with one friend in a two-bedroom apartment.  Two nights with another friend and her husband and son in a two-bedroom apartment.  I was worried about imposing and being the poor relation but . . .

 

My first friend is my Favorite Freshman from my senior year in high school.

And

She bought the boys toys and several outfits, including bright yellow shirts for them to wear to the children’s museum.

She insisted on taking us out for pizza and video games and paying for the children’s museum (“because that’s what sisters do.”)

She stocked her kitchen with tons of kid-friendly food.

She played with us at the children’s museum and at splash pads and watched movies with us.

Aidan: can we stay here?

Me: For how long?

Aidan: For lots of days!

 

And then

We spent the next few days with my close friend and her son.

Before her husband left for a friend’s house, he downloaded Plants vs Zombies for my boys to play.

She got us into the zoo for free.

She insisted on taking us out for pizza and video games and splitting meals we had out.

She has the cutest boy, and my boys love him.

And splash pads!

Aidan: When can we go to Cat’s house?

Me: Soon.

Aidan: YEA!!!!

 

Seriously, one of the best vacations ever.

And I’m seriously one of the luckiest people to have such awesome friends.

A Mother’s Son

While staying at a friend’s place this weekend, I fell asleep with Tornado A and Tornado S, who was suppose to be reading us a story.  My friend tried to keep Tornado E occupied, instead of letting him wake us up.  So she asked him questions.  He told her about the book he was reading and his favorite animals and all about dragons.  A lot about dragons.  For an hour, he talked all about dragons like they were a real, scientific species.

She shook her head and whispered, “You are your mother’s son.”

When I woke up and joined them, she told me the whole story.

My friend: He is your son.

I smiled.

Tornado E: Of course, I am.  Why wouldn’t I be?

I love that kid.

Missing them

My house is quiet.  And empty.  And quiet.  Of course, it’s 11pm, so even if my boys were here, it would be relatively quiet.  Except Tornado S snores.  And someone is always turning over.  And someone gets out of bed once, twice, three times a night.  Even though it’s night and quiet, if they were here, the house would feel . . . full.

I’ve had the boys five nights in a row, and I hate when I have to turn them over.  My house, my life seems so empty and quiet and dull.  When I signed up for this parenting gig, I knew for next ten years or more my life would be wrapped around their lives.  Not in a complete, my-kids-are-my-life way, but in a dinner-has-to-have-one-child-friendly-part way or weekdays-are-for-homework-and-child-activities way or a-sitter-needs-to-be-hired-a-week-in-advanced-for-a-few-hours-a-couple-of-times-a-month way, a vacations-will-mainly-be-about-the-kids way, a money-goes-to-kids’-needs-and-most-wants-before-my-wants way.  Let’s just face it.  I will never be one of those moms who is excited the ex is taking the kids for the weekend.

Every time I think about the ex having 50% custody or that the judge added her opinion of calling me “restrictive and unreasonable” over custody for those nearly 3 years of separation in the ruling, I get angry.  It’s not my fault that the ex decided he preferred to visit the kids on his time when he wanted to at my house, but that’s how his lawyer made it look.  Like I was keeping the kids away from their father.  The ex lied and said that I knew he was  living with his girlfriend (instead of the alcoholic roommate that he told me he was living with, which I didn’t want exposed to my kids) and that I refused to let my kids over to their place.

So it sucks.  Because I don’t always get to talk to them every night, even when I call every night.  Because I can tell they’re not getting enough sleep.  Because we don’t get to do all the crafts, activities, and science experiments I want to do with them.  Because they are adjusting.  Because this is hard on them.  Because I don’t get to cook and bake for them every day.  Because they are pushing at the boundaries and exhibiting unhealthy coping strategies.  Because I don’t have the money to take them to counseling anymore.  Because part of my heart resides somewhere else and I feel helpless to protect them when they aren’t here.

With any luck, I’ll have them tomorrow because the ex works and it’s summer and I’m a teacher.  We’ll fight over doing workbooks, and I’ll send someone to time out for hitting his brother.  We’ll go grocery shopping and maybe to the craft store for supplies for Papi’s birthday present.  We’ll argue over video game playing and candy.  I’ll listen to Tornado S read, and I’ll continue to teach Tornado A to swim, and I’ll have interesting conversations with Tornado E about superheroes or Skylanders or dragons or animals.  Tomorrow is going to be a great day.

Clever Boy

We were watching Tornado E’s karate class, when Tornado A noticed the woman in front of him was playing some sort of Bejeweled game with a Frozen theme.

Tornado A: That’s a cool game, Mommy.

Me: Yes.

Tornado A: Can we get it?

Me: I don’t know.  We’ll see.

Tornado A: I can get it.  I’ll sneak and get it tonight.

Me: What?

Tornado A: Tonight I will sneak out.  You will be reading, so I will sneak out to the car.  And I will get it then.

Me: What will you do at the car?

Tornado A: I can drive it.

Me: Oh.  How will you get the game?

Tornado A: I will sneak out and get it.

Me: Oh.

Tornado A: Do you have a tablet?

Me: (Dear Lord.) No.  I don’t.

Tornado A: Then I will get it on your phone.  It will have to be smaller.

Me: I love you, kid.

Tornado A: I love you too, Mommy.

Note to self: Hide the credit cards and block the app store on the phone.

Just Working This Out

So I’ve got writer’s block.  Sort of.  I know why I can’t write.  Usually writer’s block has no reason.  But I figured out why I haven’t been able to write much and why it feels so forced when I do.  Because I’m hiding secrets.

This was suppose to be a safe and secure place to write.  I was suppose to be anonymous as I worked on my craft.  It would be my journal to record the little things of motherhood I’m sure to forget.  I didn’t expect much from it, but I made some really cool friends and felt like a community.  Before school sucked my time, I was proud of my little following.

But the ex knows about the blog.  Because I told him a couple of months after I started to show that I was working on my craft.  He was quite proud.  Then the divorce became nasty, and his lawyer tried to use this blog against me.  That I was spreading libel about the ex, that I was “wasting” my time on the blog instead of getting a job.  (Never mind that I was going to school and taking care of a toddler or that the ex and I agreed on this lifestyle over and over again.)  And the ex has made several threats about exposing my “lies.”  So it occurred to me that he could out me.  More so than I already am.

If I’m honest, the worst part of being exposed is most of the posts are unedited, filled with grammar errors of someone who is writing too fast.  I’m trying to secure a job as an English teacher.  I hope to one day be a professional writer.  I’m going to have to revisit my posts to edit them.

This blog was suppose to be only about motherhood.  I didn’t write much about my marriage.  I did write once and a while about my life.  Sometimes I used the site like a think tank or therapy.  I had no intention to turn my cute, little mommy blog into a break up blog.

But this divorce has soaked into all aspects of my life.  I’m a single mom.  I’m a divorced mom.  I just went through a nasty divorce.  I just got handed a gut-wrenching ruling, leaving me in poverty and debt and splitting custody 50% of the time with a man who chose for nearly 3 years to give me full custody.  While I’m angry and hurt and trying to desperately figure out how I’m going to pull us out of this hole, I try very hard not to let on to the boys.  They don’t need to know about all this stuff.  (Well, at least, not until they are old enough and they ask.)  I don’t feel like letting all this stuff into my blog.

But this is where I am.  I’m fighting dragons, trying to survive.  Trying to get a teaching job.  Trying to figure out how to survive on income that was so drastically slashed.  Trying to figure out how I’ll pay my parents back for funding my legal battle and whenever the ex decided not to pay.  Trying to figure out how I’ll pay a huge IRS debt.  Trying to figure out how to shield my boys from as much of the divorce as I can.  Trying to figure out how I can coparent with someone who doesn’t know how or want to coparent.  Trying to figure out how to let go of all this anger, hate, and hurt.  Trying to be a good parent.  Trying to not be bitter over the fact that the ex makes so much more than me and can give the kids so much more than I can.  Trying to dig deep and find strength to carry on.

When I was a child, I was bullied.  I still remember the fear of never knowing who was going to pick on me that day, what he/she would say, when I would be attacked.  My mom maintains that some kids act like victims and therefore become victims.  I maintain victim blaming is bullsh–.  I’m not a victim.  I don’t like being forced to be someone I’m not.  I don’t like waiting for the next blow in fear.  The next blow is coming, but I rather carry on with my life and carve out a piece of happiness and respect than wait around in fear for that next blow.

 

Not my Mom

Me: What’s wrong?

I had just picked them up from their dad’s house.  Tornado E looked unhappy.  He sighed.

Me: What’s wrong?

Yeah, like I’m going to let you close down on me, kid.  Good luck with that.

Tornado E: Sometimes I get so mad at the L & R.

The boys that lived next door to their dad’s house.  One is a year older than Tornado E.  One is in between Tornado E and Tornado S.  It’s been really neat for my boys to have neighborhood kids to play with.  It’s been since Orange since the last time we lived next to neighbors with kids.

Me: Why do you get so mad at them?

Tornado E: Because they call The Girlfriend my mom.  No matter how many times I tell them she is not my mom, they still call her that.  I don’t like it.  You’re my mom.  The Girlfriend is not.

There’s still a lot of anger and hate in me.  But my son isn’t complaining about The Girlfriend.  He’s upset with his friends not listening to him.

Me: Baby, I don’t think they mean to make you mad or hurt you.  They’ve known The Girlfriend longer than you, and she is the mother of The Daughter who is their sister’s playmate.  They just don’t remember that you have a mom.  They only see her with you, not me.  It’s a slip of the tongue.  It’s easier to say “mom” than “your dad’s girlfriend.”

Tornado E made a noise of not being convinced.

Me: Besides they don’t understand.  Their parents live in the same house.  They may not understand that it makes you mad because you have another house and a mom who doesn’t live with your dad.  They probably don’t understand that sometimes that’s really hard.  So I want you to tell them nicely, “She’s not my mom.”  Can we practice?

Tornado E made a noise of yes.

Me: Tornado E, your mom wants you.

Tornado E: That’s not my mom.

Me: Ok.  Be nice.  They’re not being mean.  Try again.  Tornado E, your mom just called you.

Tornado E: That’s The Girlfriend, not my mom.

Me: Ok.  Much better.  You could also say, “Please call her The Girlfriend.”  Remember they’re your friends and aren’t trying to make you mad.

Tornado E: Ok, Mommy.

Me: And, baby, you can always talk to me.  I’m always here to help you find solutions to your problems.

Tornado E: Ok.  I love you.  Hey, what are we going to do now?

We’re going on adventure.

Why I Don’t Sleep

It’s been noted that I birthed three morning larks and that I’m a night owl.  This is a problem.  But I have naps.  This last quarter, I worked from 8am to 3:30 pm officially. (Unofficially there’s another two hours of grading and planning, and more time on the weekends. Woo)  Naps became a problem.  I began to go to bed early.  Like midnight.  Which is like early for me.

But now it’s summer.  And I can have naps again!  Since I’m up later, and the boys are up earlier.  (The sun!  It’s up!  The day must start NOW!)  Oh, but wait.  Two boys don’t need naps.  They need to read.  And one needs to read out loud, so I can make sure he is actually reading.  Or the boys need to do their workbooks, if they hadn’t already done them.  Or maybe we’re working on a complicated craft.  Goodbye, naptime….

Then there are nights like last night.

I crashed early because … ok, fine… I was sleep deprived from the night before.  I fell asleep over a book.

Then at 12:15.  One.  Two.  Three boys jumped in my bed.  Nightmares.  What could I do?

1:15. My God, where’s the AC?  Why isn’t it on?  I pushed aside two bodies to make room to get out of bed.  I stumbled to the thermostat and adjusted it.  I stumbled back to my bed and pushed aside bodies to make room.  (This is probably where I should’ve carried boys back to sleep, but my brain stops functioning logically after I fall asleep.)

2:15 My God, are there dwarves with pick axes inside my head?  I pushed aside two bodies to make room to get out of bed.  I stumbled to my bathroom and took pain relievers.  I stumbled back into bed and pushed bodies away to make room for myself.

3:15 My God, why must they be glued to me?  I need air!  I pushed aside two bodies to make a little more room.

Please God, let me sleep.

6:00 GOOD MORNING, MOMMY!!!!

Oh, for the love of God!

That’s Me Part 2

To go along with the commercial theme, again we were watching TV.  (It’s become very educational.  I think I’ve got Tornado S on the side of the good guys with Teen Titans Go.  Fingers crossed.)

Then the Capri Sun commercial came on the TV.  The one where the moms are debating who is the cooler mom.  At the end of the commercial, one of the moms gives her son Capri Suns to give to his friends, and she says to her friend, “Wait for it.”  The kids in the background shout, “Cool!”  And the mom says, “That’s me.  Cool mom.”

Tornado E turned to me with a smile.

Tornado E: That’s you!  Cool Mom!

Me: Really?

Tornado E and Tornado S: YEAH!

Tornado E: Yeah, you’re the coolest mom I know.

Yup, that’s me.  Cool mom.

He’s going to hate that in high school.  I did.

That’s Me

Because of my student teaching, my sons have been exposed to commercials at my parents’ house.  Back a few months ago, Rice Krispies was running a commercial with an African-American mother and her two kids, making Rice Krispie Treats in egg form and placing a couple of candies in the middle.

We were eating a snack at the breakfast bar in my parents’ house, watching TV, when the commercial came on.

Tornado E: Mommy, that’s you!

Me: What?  (I mean.)  Why do you think that’s me?

I’m just a few shades darker than albino with blonde hair and light eyes.  I don’t tan.  I become a darker shade of white.  I do not look anything like the mother in the commercial.  Besides my hair is a lot longer.

Tornado E: Because you like making things with us, just like the mom in the commercial.

Oh.  Well, there’s that.

Me: (smile) Thanks, baby.  I do like making things with you.  Should we make those?

Tornado E: YES!

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