Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Seventeen

And just like that, Alyssa is seventeen.

I mean, sure, those early days were so long but these years have flown by.

She's so amazing. Her talent, her kindness, her joy and just living her life is inspirational.

She deserves so much more than these few lines but I didn't want this day to pass without acknowledging how proud I am of her and who she is becoming.

She's a loving daughter, a sweet sister, an amazing friend. She adores her grandparents with just the right amount of exasperation over how 'old' they are.

She is beautiful, she's strong, she's so darned smart.

I marvel on a daily basis that she's mine even as she spreads her wings and prepares to take on the world.

Happy birthday, my sweet, wonderful girl.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Dismissed

I wrote this before Christmas break even began but it is an excellent example of how I need to start using my words, so I'm putting it here just because:
I hate confrontation. Maybe my total discomfort with that is why I push down my own thoughts and ideas and just roll with whatever the loudest personality in the room says.

I can almost always see the other side of an argument.

I mean, okay. There was this time when a boyfriend wanted to write a bad check to Meijer for cash. That was a no-brainer for me and we fought bitterly over that one. That time, no, I couldn’t see his side. He wanted me to do something that was so fundamentally wrong that I didn’t even try to see his side of things. Let’s face it, he was trying to get me to BREAK THE LAW and I refused. Never is beer worth the risk of prosecution. Honestly, I can’t believe I even need to put that into writing.

But most of the time, the issue is over opinions rather than right and wrong. Most opinions are neither right nor wrong. Obviously there are exceptions. Like if your opinion is that 45 is an excellent president, your opinion is WRONG. But most opinions, like preferring green grapes over red grapes, well, that’s okay, it’s just an opinion, it’s not right or wrong.

Which is why I am not usually willing to debate or argue an opinion. I don’t like to argue unless I know I’m right.

So when Tom got all opinionated about which mug we should stuff with candy and send with Olivia for the sixth grade mug exchange and hot chocolate party, I kind of shut down. His opinion was that the dippy little mug with the picture of the snowmen was better than the taller one that was shaped like a snowman.

I disagreed but I didn’t have a reason for my opinion other than the taller, snowman shaped one was cuter.

His opinion was based on the fact his belief the shorter, more traditionally mug-shaped one would be less-likely to be spilled by a rambunctious (or just clumsy) twelve year old.

My own opinion was based on the fact that the sixth-graders in questions are typical twelve year olds.

I truly believe that Tom was basing his opinion on his belief that Olivia is a typical twelve year old. She’s not. She’s just not.

Where she’d very likely spill that mug, the kids in her class…probably would not.

I started to tell him about seeing one of her typical classmates the evening before at a basketball game (I was there to sell beef sticks, not because I enjoy watching high school basketball. I do not enjoy watching high school basketball…in fact, I do not enjoy watching any level of basketball, be it high school, college, professional, junior high, little tykes or even geriatric. No. I will pass on all basketball, thank you ever so much.)

Ahem, back to the game where this classmate of Olivia’s walked by me several times and then stopped to say hi and ask me how Olivia is doing.

Can you even imagine? A twelve year old girl stopped to say hi to the mother of her classmate and ask how the classmate is doing. She looked and acted fifteen freaking years old. She’s not even going through that awkward chubby stage a lot of twelve year olds go through. She’s beautiful and kind and smart and social and I’m damned sure that if she had a hot chocolate-filled mug that looked like this:


Or this:


She would not spill it. She wouldn’t need this dumpy little mug just to keep the hot chocolate from meeting the desk and the floor.:


And you know what? Who cares if they do spill it? These teachers, the people ORGANIZING this shindig, know these kids. They know them better than Tom and I do. We know Olivia and we know that she’s not a typical sixth grader. And hey, if a kid does spill their hot chocolate (Olivia?) the teachers are the ones who have to clean it up, not us.

But back to my starting to tell him about seeing T at the school that night. I was going to try and explain to him about how mature she seemed and how capable of sipping hot chocolate out of a snowman-shaped mug she probably was but all I got out was, “I saw T, Olivia’s classmate last night at the school-“

And at that point, he kind of moved his hand in a way that came across as dismissive and said, “Yeah?”

I shut down. I shut my stupid mouth and I started to move away.

Tom put his hand out and asked incredulously, “What are you doing? Were you just going to walk away?”

I was. I’d been dismissed so I was done.

He swears he was just doing the hand movement thing to move the story along and that he was waiting to hear a story. There was no story. There would never be a story. I was no longer interested in defending my opinion.

Then…THEN I felt bad for thinking he was dismissing me and my stupid eyes got teary. I hate that so much. I also hate that instead of shutting down when he ‘dismissed’ me I didn’t just call him on it.

My opinion is no less valid than his just because it’s different.

But my aversion to confrontation is so strong that I’ll just meekly walk away rather than ‘argue’ my point. I put argue in the quotes because it wasn’t even an argument. It was a discussion but that man has a strong opinion about everything. And his voice is loud and can be booming. It feels like a confrontation even when he doesn’t mean for it to be confrontational.

Sigh. I don’t know where I’m going with this. Maybe I’m just getting it out because it’s been bugging me for days.

For what it’s worth, he put the dumpy, dippy mug away and insists that we’re sending the cute one since that’s the one *I* want to send. Whatever. Sometimes getting weepy is the only way I can get my way. I hate that that is true.

Thursday, January 2, 2020

Words

As the new year begins, I am thinking about how to make 2020 better than 2019. First, Tom can stop acting like he’s twenty years old (or hell, 40!) and doing things that are going to hurt him. No more climbing twenty feet into trees with a chainsaw.

Second, I want to start using my words.

I want to stop using the word, “I’m sorry.” But I want to use words like, “That makes me feel like crap, stop doing it.”

I want to stand up for myself and stop apologizing for taking up space.

To my credit, I’ve stopped saying “Thank you” to people for whom I am doing a favor. I will say, “Okay” if they want me to acknowledge something but not thank you. For example, there is this woman at my work who will bring her PERSONAL mail down for me to take to the post office when I go to drop off business mail. As she’s dropping her mail into my inbox she’ll say, “Here you go.”

I used to say, “Thank you.”

Now, I simply say, “Okay.” Because hello, I’m doing her a favor, not the other way around.

So yeah.

There was this moment recently where I felt like Tom was dismissing me. And so I started to walk away, feeling dejected.

I want to be the type of person who simply says, “Are you dismissing me?”

And then waiting, letting him either acknowledge his shitty tone or deny it.

Either way, I want to use my words. I want to voice my worries, my fears, my triumphs.

Here comes 2020.

No resolutions but I am determined to use my words in this coming year.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

From 19 Into 20

As years go, 2019 wasn’t a bad one. I mean, compared to 2017, the year in which I was diagnosed with cancer and was told that my job was being eliminated all within a two-week time frame…yeah, 2019 wasn’t bad at all.

Alyssa turned 16, she failed her first attempt at getting her driver’s license, much to everyone’s surprise (No sarcasm there, we truly were surprised she failed.) She did pass on her second attempt and was rewarded her license to drive. She drove away from us alone for the first time. It was only a four mile trip to the dollar store but still…these days, she drives herself twenty miles to Bryan for voice lessons, to school every day, to work a few days a week, to hang with friends, etc. She’s so independent and it makes me proud and sad all at the same time.

I worked. I ‘celebrated’ my one year anniversary at my ‘new’ job. I’d have celebrated 19 years at my old job if it those at corporate hadn’t decided they could make more money by sending production to England. Sigh.

Oh hey, I ‘earned’ three whole days of vacation for all of 2019. They were parsed out sixteen weeks apart. Yeah, that was fun.

Shall we remember how many paid days off I had at my old job? Why not? Let’s wallow a bit longer, shall we? At 19 years of service, I’d have received 4 weeks (that’s 20 days) of paid vacation and one week of paid sick/personal time. I also received 11 holidays, two of those were ‘floating’ holidays, to be taken at will, as needed, the same way vacation days worked.

Enough wallowing, let’s look in the bright side. As of today, January 1, I will have a WHOLE WEEK of paid vacation. That’s FIVE WHOLE DAYS. Yes, those words are dripping with sarcasm. I’m not so much looking on the bright side, am I?

Wait, I take it back. 2019 was actually kind of sucky. I almost forgot about Tom and his ‘year of injuries.’

He spend the last half of 2019 broken.

It all started in June, when he tripped and fell into a wall, hitting the corner with such force that it broke his clavicle. That put him out of commission for almost eight weeks. It was awful.

Then…THEN, he was back on his feet for two whole weeks when he fell from a ladder he was using to trim my mom and step-dad’s tree and…he broke his right foot. That was back in late August. He’s still in pain. It makes me sad.

Speaking of being sad, Olivia is in sixth grade and I think this has been our hardest year yet. She’s being left behind by her peers. I knew this was coming. I thought I was ready. But it just makes me sad.

She brings home homework that she simply isn’t able to do. She doesn’t think like a typical sixth grader. She can’t read a passage about Mesopotamia and take key points out of that text and then answer questions about the agriculture or geography of that area.

She’s so smart in her own way. She’s got so much going for her but school work on the typical level isn’t one of those strengths. And it makes me crazy when I sit there for forty minutes doing her homework myself because she isn’t getting anything out of that, even when she’s sitting right there with me.

I wish I could rewire her brain, replace that missing part of her chromosome, ‘fix’ her while retaining the things that keep her so very Livie.

Alas…

A few other tidbits on 2019: My auntie Nell had a stroke and spent a couple of months in the hospital, only to be moved to a nursing home for rehab. She’s STILL there but is making a little progress. I pray for her each night. This auntie is Amy’s mom so her illness is big blow to her immediate family.

My dad’s sister, my Aunt Esther died in October. She was 94. She lived a good, long life. She left behind a legacy of children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. She was my dad’s last living sibling. Now he’s the last of his parent’s children to be alive. I am sad for him even as we celebrate the life she lived.

Anyway, let’s raise a glass to 2019, while it wasn’t as bad at 2017, it can still go screw itself.

Monday, December 2, 2019

That One Monday When I Was Cranky

One Monday night as we were heading to bed, Olivia asked me AGAIN, why I was always so tired and cranky.

First…it was a Monday.

Second, she asked me this at 9:30pm. I’d been awake since 5:30.

But to give a rundown of all the things that cumulated to make me cranky that night here’s the list:

I got home twenty minutes later than usual because I had to stop at Walmart before going home to buy packing tape. Do I use packing tape? No. I do not. But hell, since I am in town every single fucking day of the week, (you know, since I GO TO WORK) it’s no big deal to run into Walmart, is it? It’s way more convenient for me to do so than for the person who actually uses the damn tape to make a special trip to town to buy the tape. I mean, he never has to leave the house but we wouldn’t want to put him out and make him GO TO TOWN to purchase the items that help his business thrive. No, he has an assistant for that, right?

Ahem.

So, I walked in the door at 5:20. I’m informed that one of my children is on the toilet pooping. I’ll let you, dear reader, figure out which one. I mean, one of them wants help after she poops and one of them would rather die than require help from her mother after she moves her bowels. Again, I’ll let you decide which is which.

I leave the tape on the table, put the cash that was requested with the purchase of the tape on the counter. I look through Olivia’s folder and find her homework packet.

The pooping child announces, “I’m dooooone!” as I’m heading down the basement stairs. I suggest none-too-gently that perhaps she should wipe herself since I was BUSY.

Tom declared he was doing the dishes and couldn’t assist in the butt wiping.

The other child in the household said she was too busy doing her ab workout and couldn’t help either.

I transferred the clean, dry sheets from the drier to a basket. I put the clean, wet towels in the drier. I started the drier.

I paused and started watching HULU on my phone, a moment of peace in a world of chaos.

I finally headed back upstairs.

Guess who is STILL sitting on the toilet, waiting for someone, ANYONE other than herself to come and attend to her butt.

I stalked into the bathroom, told her to GET UP from the toilet. I gave her a wet wipe and told her to wipe her butt. She did and then she tried to hand me the used wipe! I told her to throw it away!

You guys.

I am so tired of dealing with anyone but my own bathroom issues I can’t even tell you.

I KNOW we’re lucky. I KNOW she’s doing great. I KNOW THIS. But I’m tired of it. SO TIRED.

Finally, we sat down to do homework. Sigh.

Through all this, there are sounds being made by several people in our house, (all of them except me) about us going to my mom’s house that evening.

I didn’t want to. I was tired. I just wanted to be home.

When homework was finally done at 6:05, I called my mom to let her know that we were JUST finishing up and she shouldn’t expect us.

She said that if we were hungry, we could come on over because she had food ready.

Fine.

At least I hadn’t taken my shoes off.

We drove to my mom’s. We ate. Olivia told stories and Alyssa amused my mom and Lloyd with her antics.

We got home at 7:15.

I went up to see if I needed to change the sheets on anyone’s bed. What does that entail? It requires me to SNIFF the sheets to see if they’re stinky. Yes. Let that sink in. I have to SMELL the sheets to see if they smell like urine.

It’s as gross as it sounds.

And she wonders why I’m cranky.

For what it’s worth, on this night, those sheets were not stinky. I repeat, NOT STINKY. So no beds needed to be stripped and remade. A small spark of joy in an otherwise long drudge of a night.

I just…I don’t even know. I don’t hate my life. Really I don’t. I know how good I’ve got it, relatively speaking.

I do realize that I don’t do more than any other mother and/or wife out there. It’s just that at the end of the day, I would like to be done. I’m tired, just like every other overworked parent in this world.

I would like my family to know that I’m sorry for my crankiness, though. They don’t deserve that. When I get like that, I need to just go find a quiet corner of our house and settle myself down.

As we settled in that night, Olivia said in the dark to no one in particular (I was the only other person in the room but whatever), "At least Dad's not tired and cranky all the time."

Yeah. At least she can count on Dad.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Notes to Self

You don’t have to tell every single person you come into contact with that you’ve had cancer and been through chemo.

You don’t have to bring up the lymphedema every chance you get.

No one really cares.

So yes, they make all the right noises when you bring it up but you could just…not.

Practice a little introspection and figure out why you feel the need to share that stuff with everyone.

Do you want them to feel sorry for you?

Is it because you want them to appreciate all your glorious post-chemo hair?

Is it because you feel like a freaking hero for all that you’ve been through?

Well, guess what? Everyone has been through their own hell. They don’t necessarily need to know about yours.

Maybe you’re hoping to make yourself approachable. Is it working?

Are you looking for a common bond among your fellow humans?

I’ll be honest, that’s annoying as hell. So maybe just stop. Stop telling people about the dry mouth that comes from chemo. Stop making a circle around your face and saying something along the lines of, “This is nineteen months of growth.”

Stop mentioning the lymphedema, stop drawing attention to the compression sleeve. Stop talking about cancer altogether.

If people want to talk to you about it, they’ll bring it up.



Is it obvious that I’m annoying the shit out of myself these days? Time to breathe and stop being so hard on myself I guess.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

A Few Thanks

Since I bitch and moan pretty much non-stop these days, let me tell you something that isn’t a complaint.

My feet don’t hurt.

Will they hurt tomorrow? Maybe. Will they hurt sometimes next week? Probably.

But they don’t hurt right now and that’s awesome.

I can go up the stairs at work and not get winded. Will I get winded next week? Maybe but right this second, I could trot right up those stairs and still have a conversation at the top of the stairs. I feel pretty darned good about that one.

I just wanted to share some non-complaints for a change. You’re welcome