Carbs and Calories

All day Tornado E had been saying “carbs and calories” to anything that was bad. Often with a shake of the head.

We sat at dinner at Panda Express eating Americanized- fast food Chinese. The boys eating their favorite offerings but mentioning they wished I would cook more at home. As we were in California for a wedding, it really wasn’t an option that night.

Tornado E: Mommy, why are grown ups afraid of carbs and calories?

For years, my boys have been exposed to their father’s dieting habits and my mother’s comments (to me, to my dad, about herself). Long ago I resolved that I would never “diet” in front of them. I would model healthy eating habits. I would not do fade diets, yo-yo diets, weird dieting concoctions, or deprive myself. I promised to be careful what I said about my body and my weight, to monitor what I said about their bodies and other people’s bodies. I would not fat shame or thin shame within my boys’ hearing. They heard enough negative body comments from others.

I don’t want my boys growing up with body or food issues. I don’t want them to stay away from food for their body images. I don’t want them to look in the mirror and have demons criticize their bodies. I want them to be happy and healthy.

Me: Well, baby, many adults don’t run around and have fun like children, so they have to worry about what they eat instead. Many adults are not happy about their bodies. Sometimes they have to worry because of their health. Sometimes they just don’t like their bodies. And that’s sad.

Tornado E: Yes, that’s sad.

Pause.

Tornado E: But not you, Mommy. You like your body. You’re not afraid of carbs and calories.

I smiled and bit into a piece of orange chicken. The demons that lurk behind my mirrors were safely locked away from my boys. Maybe one day I won’t meet them in dressing room mirrors or when I take a closer look at my outfits.

Fake it until you make it.

Vacation Recap

The weekend of the wedding began our fall break. I did a mini-vacation with the boys.

  1. Highways make the drive so much smaller. But you get to see interesting things.
  2. The Salton Sea is creepy, isolated, stinky, and creepy. I’ve got to do more research on it. Tornado E said it was something out of his nightmares.
  3. My body reminded me that I’m no longer 21 and can’t eat fast food several days in a row. Next time I’ll save more money for real restaurants.
  4. Tornado S left his toys, books, and DVD choices in Tucson. We discovered this 45 mins out of town. I decided to buy all the boys a toy and Tornado S a DVD at Walmart in California.
  5. It’s so awesome to see, hang out, and catch up with old friends. It was so sad not to have more time to hang out longer.
  6. Everyone reads every day. Those are the rules.
  7. Tornado A was thrilled to share a bed with me.
  8. I think I can do this single parent thing on vacation. I just need more money. Like a lot more. I’m not greedy, just really, really poor.
  9. When we got home, we still had several days together. So we did the zoo, worked on Cub Scout stuff, and worked on school work.
  10. Tornado S likes being dragged across the finish line of school work. He fails to realize how much he’s missing. Like movies and crafts. And ice cream.
  11. Tornado E built a fire and grilled hot dogs and bratwurst for dinner one night. For Cub Scouts. With Papi’s supervision.
  12. Tornado A has a new baby. A baby narwhale. Because it was the closet thing he could find to a unicorn at Walmart. It joins the baby unicorn, the tiny baby unicorn, the mountain lion cub, and the leopard cub. So cute.
  13. We have decided on Halloween costumes.
  14. I filled everyone’s tummy with fruits and vegetables to make up for the 5 days of fast food.
  15. After 9 days with the boys, it was hard to let their dad take them.

Empty

The house feels empty. No screaming; no yelling. No whining; no fighting. No video games; no cartoons. No toys- scratch that. There are toys scattered through the house. I let them swim to the last possible second, instead of making them pick up toys.

But without my boys running amok, the house feels empty.

In theory, I could go out and see a movie right now. I can go out with friends, grab dinner or drinks and dessert. (You know, if I wasn’t poor and unemployed.) In theory, I could sleep in tomorrow. I can read in bed. I can have ice cream for lunch.

But I would give it all up for more time with my boys.

The hardest part is when I don’t get to talk to them. Every night they are at their dad’s house, I call them at 7pm to ask them about their day and to tell them I love them and to wish them goodnight. Even if I’m out with friends. Even if I’m out of town. 5 minutes to know my boys are fine and to let them know I love them.

More often than not, the ex doesn’t answer his phone. Some times he lets them call me back. Most of the time, he doesn’t. When I had more money, I bought them a cheap little flip phone with monthly prepaid minutes, but they often did not answer.

After two years, it still sucks so very much not to talk to the boys. After two years, the ex still doesn’t think it’s important, even though we agreed upon the phone calls in mediation and it’s in our divorce agreement. At least, I got to be with them after school for a few hours.

It’s harder after having the boys for a long stretch. I had them for nine full days because the ex had a business trip. I’m grateful to have them so long. It reminds me of the first three years of the separation when the boys were always with me.

Tomorrow I’ll bug my friends with texts and calls, asking to go out. I’ll wash the sheets and pick up the toys. I’ll scout the bathroom and go through the piles of weekly school paperwork. I’ll get the last few things for our trip next week. I’ll figure out a bridesmaid hairstyle I can do. I’ll take the Cub Scout volunteer classes and tests. I’ll brush up on 7th grade math and prep some cool activities. I’ll write poetry and edit the novel.

Tonight I feel like eating chocolate and staring at the TV.

Or eat chocolate as I do laundry and clean my room.

Because I just realized I have a lot to do.

Sleepless Nights

My boys, mainly Tornado E, have a hard time sleeping through the night. One, two, or three boy(s) end up in my bed sometime in the night. Before in the last house, it was just annoying. Now it’s difficult because I sleep in a double. Three kids and an adult don’t fit. When this happens, I slip out of bed and crawl into a twin bed in the boys’ room. If I’m lucky, I sleep through the night and wake to my alarm in the next room. I’m rarely that lucky. Usually a boy or two slides into bed with me. The third child is told to sleep in one of the other beds.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a good night-parent. I get grumpy when woken up in the middle of the night.  With a good reason, I become less grumpy. Trying to crawl into my bed is not a good reason to wake me up.

Last night Tornado E was already in my bed, when Tornado A started crying out to me because of a nightmare. When I cuddled with him to make sure he was fine, he asked me to stay. I slid into bed for just a minute when Tornado E entered the room.

Aha! A scheme! I would let Tornado E fall to sleep in his bed; then I would creep back into my own bed to sleep alone. What could go wrong?

An hour of whining, arguing, pleading, Tornado E begged me to return to my bed. Somewhere in the middle of this barrage of craziness at 2:30am, he threatened not to go back to sleep.

Right. That’s it. This was the hill I was dying on tonight. I will not negotiate with terrorists.

He fell asleep. Finally.

Only to wake up 30 minutes later to resume his whining, arguing, pleading, begging-0h-my-god-stop-it! He went on for an hour as I dozed off and on.

Finally Tornado S asked me if he could play video games.

Me: What time is it?

Tornado S: 5.4.5

5-4-5? Right. 5:45.

Me: No. Not until 6:00.

A moment passed.

Tornado S: Can I play video games now?

Me: No. What time is it?

Tornado S: 6.

Me: Yes.

Tornado S and E jumped out of bed.

Me: Except Tornado E. He has to stay in bed until 6:30 because he was up all night.

I left the room before he could start whining.

I really could use a nap.

Changes

So I got a job. As a teacher. But with a mandatory 8-5 schedule. Which is nice I am forced to work 40 hours. Which is horrible that I can’t be with my kids during the afternoon.

And then there’s the commute. Which in the grand scheme of things isn’t really that bad. It’s under an hour. Supposedly just over 30 minutes. But that’s another 30 minutes not being with the kids.

And then the next three weeks my parents, The Friendly Giant, and my grandma (AKA my first line of defense in childcare) will be gone. Yea. I nearly forgotten what it was like to not have a support network. No. I didn’t. It sucked. This sucks. I luckily still have a support network of awesome friends to help. Fingers crossed on the ex’s help.

So in four weeks, we’ll see how everything is going. Perhaps I’ll love this, and the boys will adjust fine, and everything will start getting better. Or not. Or I might be in a middle of a move to somewhere I have reservations about, but yea that place between a rock and a hard place.

So I’m going to dig in some time to write here and follow other bloggers. Because I need this space. And I like the bloggers I met so far. It would be nice to meet more.

So wish me luck. I’ll see you around.

I’m a Comedian

The ex dropped off the boys after their bedtime. Tornado E was wearing a white shirt. It was an emergency shirt. I never buy white shirts. Because they attract dirt. Tornado E was splattered with chocolate all down his shirt. He still had chocolate stains on the corner of his mouth, dribbling down to his chin.

Tornado E: Mommy, you were right.

Me: Say that again. Hold on; let me get my phone so I can record that.

Tornado E: Mommy, you’re funny. (No, I’m dead serious. I need the proof.) You were right. A brownie fudge sundae is too much to eat.

Me: You look like you’re an undead thing covered in blood.

Tornado E laughed.

Tornado E: I look like I ate chocolate.

Me: Let me take a picture. Don’t wash yet.

I snapped a picture.

Tornado E: Mommy, when you put it online, write, “I didn’t eat your chocolate cake.”

So I typed it into the post. Then I typed, as Tornado E read over my shoulder out loud to his brothers, “Me: Seriously, he looks like the undead covered in gore. But a zombie or a vampire?”

The boys broke into fits of laughter.

Tornado E: Mommy, you’re so funny.

Tornado S: You’re hilarious. (pause) But not as funny as Daddy.

Me: WHAT?! I’m like so much funnier than your Daddy. Like by tons.

The boys laughed more.

Tornado E: No, Daddy is funnier.

Me: Oh my god. Obviously I have been laxed in your comedic education. I’ll have to fix that. Movies. Music. Videos. Because seriously, I am so much funnier than your dad.

The boys: No.

By this time, I was gently pushing them up the stairs.

Me: Yes! And smarter. And prettier. Most definitely taller. And so much younger. So, so much younger.

They kept laughing.

Tornado E: Mommy, you’re hilarious.

Damn straight.

 

Thanks, Mom

The Ex took the kids to Disneyland. For four days. Out of state. Like an eight hour drive. With four children.

Obviously I was worried. I was married to the Ex for a number of years.

Will someone get lost? Will someone be misplaced? Will some sort of emotionally crushing event occur?

I knew the boys were going to have a great time. I mean DISNEYLAND. And I’m sure my boys don’t curl up into little balls and sob, “I want my MOMMY!” I’m hoping they remember me beyond that-woman-wh0-makes-our-food-and-makes-us-do-chores-and-homework.

But I still worried.

Car crashes. Earthquakes. Drunk drivers. Relatives that don’t like me and don’t mind talking in front of the boys. Lightning strikes. Dust storms. Freak accidents. Ride malfunctions. Kidnappers. About the last couple, I realized I was getting a little paranoid. I mean DISNEYLAND. That stuff doesn’t happen there.

So I was worried.

But I went on my merry little while, doing my best not to think about it. I had a plan. It was working too. Until I wasn’t able to reach the boys on their first night of their trip. (Breath. Stick to the plan.) Or the second. (Breathe. Stick to the plan. Don’t freak out.)

On the third day, my mother called. At 8am. Um, woman, do you remember I’m a night owl without my morning larks to wake me up?

I was thinking you should’ve written your phone number in permanent marker on their bodies. (Um, you know the Ex would just wash it off.) What if they got in a car accident? And the Ex and his girlfriend are knocked unconscious? It would be days before you found out. The Ex probably doesn’t have you as the boys’ mother on his cell. (But the boys know-) What if they are knocked unconscious too? (Someone woul-) You don’t know that. And the Ex never keeps his eyes on them like he should. What if they wonder off? Who would know? (Disney has like tons of-) And would they call you? Probably not! (I do have friends who wor-) What if he takes them Fae? What if he never comes back with them? When would you know? What would you do? (Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! I don’t think the Ex would-) You don’t know. You never know. Did you talk to them last night? (Um, no.) So you don’t know how they’re doing? (Um, Mom. I’ve got to get some stuff done. I gotta go.) You should come over for dinner. (Yeah, sure. I love you, Mom. Bye.) I love you, sweetheart. Don’t worry too much. Bye.

I sat there holding the phone. Breathe. Don’t panic. Stick with the plan. Breathe. Don’t freak out. Stick with the plan. Breathe. They’re ok. Stick with the plan. Breathe. Dear God, protect them. Stick with the plan. Breathe,

Yeah, I’m totally not going over for dinner. I can’t handle another conversation like that.