changeyourunderwearchangeyourlife – If only it were that easy…
New outlet for me to let off steam…thanks guys!!
changeyourunderwearchangeyourlife – If only it were that easy…
New outlet for me to let off steam…thanks guys!!
Parenting is a constant battle. It’s a battle for your kids’ life. You want them to grow up and be respectable citizens who bathe and keep jobs. That’s why we potty train them. When you get a call from the school that your kid is biting kids, you fight for THEIR life by grounding them and trying to figure out what the fuck they are doing and why. Their productive adult life counts on this proactive ness of you. It never ends. You want them to have nice things. Even if they live three thousand miles away and call you about getting fired. You fight for their life and say things to them to encourage them and help them and better them and then you lose sleep and wonder where you failed. It’s a constant battle.
You show them how to wash their hair and say thank you because no one likes to sit next to a stinky, rude asshole on the bus. Most of the time during the early training years, they are ungrateful, selfish little bastards but their future lives are at stake. Making them clean their room, making them sit down and shut up, making them ditch the flip flops and wear boots when wintertime rolls around is helping them in their future, adult job finding skills for instance. Taking their laptops away, making them wear clean clothes, shutting off cell phones, driving them to school like a bitch before coffee, all helps in this future fight we are in even though they hate you for it and have no idea what they are in for.
Getting fired yourself from jobs because you are in this battle while you miss work to have a teacher conference, or to better a kid who hates you for making him practice piano or play soccer, taking any jobs you can so you can buy food and be there to yell at them when they suck at life, this is our compromise. We as parents don’t have nice things so that THEY CAN someday. Yes it would be easier to shut down and not care, you might get more sleep and finish a goddamn Netflix series for once or have nice things, but you have put a rude, sloppy, uncaring asshole out in to the world to someday be someone’s boss, or drug dealer, you decide.
Its a thankless, messy, ugly, battle. There are no fancy dresses to wear to awards ceremonies and no one gets a statue for the mantel. Every once in a while though some light shines down. Your kid gets to be the tree in the school play and you see them beaming up there onstage and you see them be proud and it makes you want to give them more of that. Every once in a while they make a shitty drawing and write the word ‘Mommy’ at the bottom and you cry over this. Every once in a while you can see the human being that you know is in there and you want more of that person FOR that person. Kids don’t want to grocery shop at Walmart at midnight or hang out at a bar because you are still trying prove you are cool even after you’ve had kids. These are our battle compromises. We stay home so we can ruin their present lives for their future lives. Its what we do.
We stay home a lot not because we are not cool but to create ‘family’ and show them how people eat and make beds and play games and laugh in their own little clan because someday they will have to join a clan of their own. Then in what seems like one moment that happens inside the millions of moments of kid life, they are suddenly grown and have beards and drive and they move out and you still have baby pictures of them on the wall. Will they use a napkin at mealtime? Will they get arrested? Drink too much? Keep a job? Make friends? Hopefully all of these good things happen and you yelled at them and loved them enough for them to be able to think on their own and follow their dreams so they can try to have nice things of their own too.
It never ends. You signed up when you pushed that thing out of you,and you sign up every single god damned day after that even when you are both old. Its valor. Truly and deeply.
So I wasn’t ruining my life with beer. I just got sick of drinking too much whenever I’d go out for one beer. So we’ve been playing with the idea of having one or two beers when we go out. And we have been playing with the idea of only going out once a week. This, opposed to going out four nights a week and having 9 beers each time. We have definitely saved money and although I’m pretty disappointed I haven’t lost 40 pounds in doing so, I am happier being out of a constant hangover fog that always seems to be residing with us. We are definitely clear-er headed and dealing with shit and I like that. Alcohol tricks you into thinking you’re having fun but really you’re just setting aside reality for another time which never shows up.
HOWEVER, without being able to take that edge off I am a stick in the mud, poop face, anxious before I turn every corner and plotting and planning my next moment ahead of me constantly. I’m sure there are pills for this. I’m sure exercise and a healthy diet would also help. But PBR’s are $2.50 and I miss all my friends. We are attempting to drink like civilized, normal, controlled people do and it’s been working out.
I didn’t have a drink when I was angry or stressed out or upset. I had a drink for the simple fact that an ice cold beer sounded really good and I’d have one ice cold beer and we’d go home. It feels adult. I like it. Sometimes I even leave beer in my glass. I don’t feel I need to slam every drop. I like that too. So this experiment in Middle Ground is working out well in all arenas.
Last night Michael and I had another discussion about me locking myself away in my room and how dumb I feel and how really important it is to me to just at least have the kitchen cleaned. I think when I explained to him that all day long, for my job, every day, all I do is clean up after people. It’s not just about me being spastic in an unrealistic way about someone leaving a spoon on the counter. I clean houses for a living. I clean kitchens all day long. And in verbalizing this I realized that’s what it is. I want to walk into the room and go ‘ahhhhhhhh.’ Just like my clients get to when they come home. That’s it. Our space is small and the common area is right off the kitchen and there’s nowhere to go to get away from the mess. There’s never an ‘ahhhhhh’ moment for me. I even said we can make all the blanket forts we want, we can leave shoes out, play like wild banshees; we have to live here, it’s our living space, but the kitchen and the dishes drive me nuts. After one meal there’s 5 cups, five plates, five sets of silverware and five messes to clean up. If stay on it like a jerk, I end up spending the whole morning and afternoon in the kitchen. LIKE MY JOB.
We came to a compromise thingy. If I feel better because four minutes are invested in helping the kitchen stay clean, thus making it easier for the kids to just load the dishwasher instead of loading the sink up, and THAT will make all the difference in the world, he’s in. We have a small space to work in, we don’t have a kitchen table, we can’t go downstairs and get away from the kitchen, everything is all in one room. If we all work together, Mommy doesn’t go cuckoo. Done deal.
If two beers helps me shut off my anxiety one night a week, I’m drinkin’ em. Suck it.
So last week was amazing, we dressed up as Zombie Bob’s Burgers and did the Zombie Crawl. And the kids couldn’t clean enough. We were minor celebrities for a day and it cost a whole seven dollars for my peace of mind. (The payout for chores done.) This weekend however, was off the rails and I lived on the Planet of the Apes all weekend. In a cage in my room. Well, I spent Sunday in my room.
I’m really struggling with not being these kids’ mom and not really being my own kids’ mom either, therefore who am I? I am A mom, to two other children, but not these three children. It’s like being out of the workforce for 20 years and then having to learn computers. These three kids are going through a divorce and they are completely chaotic. When I was going through a divorce and my kids were chaotic, it was an inside job. It’s very hard to do this from the outside.
Every time I see a parenting article, it’s about being pregnant or having a new baby or toddler. I always think, “Oh, the good old days when they couldn’t talk. Just WAIT you ignorant, blissful parents. You will wish your biggest problem was putting protective devices on all the electrical outlets.” I’m bitter. So sue me.
I actually don’t know my role. I know I’m an adult and I know I’m good at taking care of people but there’s a lot more going on here. In trying to respect everybody’s situation, I’m losing myself a little bit. My biggest fault is needing permission for my actions. Like I don’t want to yell and scream all weekend but should I? Michael and I are pretty newly in our relationship here so are the days of being cute and sexy over already? The answer to that last question is yes. The days of being cute and sexy are over. We are now dealing with something people who have been in a relationship 10 years don’t even want to deal with. The reality of raising three children. Whom, I might add, have previously been raised by wolves I’m convinced. Annie Sullivan only had one kid to deal with, we have three.
Michael takes these blog posts and my rantings rather well I must say, and I give kudos to him for that. In reality, given the fact that he is 10 times more patient than I am, is the main reason we are all still alive.
I think the biggest thing I must do; that which is hardest for me to do, is face the fact that I can’t control this. I can make rules and scream and yell if I want and we can have peace on some weekends some of the time. One thing I could do to take the focus off of them, that which I cannot control, and back on to me, that which I can control, is: I need to make plans and get out and do some things for myself on the weekends in order to keep my sanity. They are still struggling with using utensils to eat and I saw one of the kids chewing on their feet the other day. How did such vile creatures come out of such a kindhearted, giving, loving man? This I might never know.
I did say something to the kids last weekend along the lines of ‘sorry I’m not kind and gentle about things and I just kind of bark orders.’ I said, I never say things like ‘hey sweetie you know what? Let’s try that a different way!” (spoken with a very sugared up Pollyanna voice.).
They howled with laughter. Even they know I never act like that. And then they said something that made me feel like Sally Field accepting her Oscar. “No, we like it. We know what you want.” The heavens parted.
I still don’t want to be the evil stepmom and I need to give them a break and let them spend time with their kindhearted, loving, gentle father without me standing there yelling at them to put their shoes away. So there’s a give-and-take in this blended, step, divorce land, new relationship, tiny apartment living thingy. It just really makes me regret quitting drinking at this time basically. Because I could use one right about now.
So we are on our road to four days of recovery and this starts all over. Again, really sorry I stopped drinking.
The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance is the subtitle to Birdman, the movie. I got stuck on this in my brain for a while. Is ignorance a virtue? Virtues by definition are the ‘essence of our character.’ Can ignorance be counted to be of this ‘essence’? In the case of Birdman, it is about ignorance being bliss, or being stupid working out for the best in the given situation. Can this be a true virtue?
I found this bit of information helpful as pertaining to Riggan Thompson, the character Michael Keaton plays:
“Intrinsic motivation gives you the drive to create out of pure, personal satisfaction, while extrinsic motivation aims to gain a positive evaluation or reward from the outside world. Since making something creative often means overcoming many hurdles, working hard and being persistent, intrinsic motivation is much more important when you want to create something that redefines the creative domain.”
In this piece (and book) by Wouter Boon, he describes the fact that by creating something new, does that alone make it relevant if there are no masses to appreciate it? Boon explains the process of how far must one go to please their creative self as opposed to pleasing the masses as something ‘new’ doesn’t have any masses.
So in essence, does Riggan create something for himself, or something to please the masses? He mistakenly does the opposite for both.
We all get stuck on this at some point in our lives. The idea of wtf are we doing here and what is our passion and why are we on this planet? Sometimes the milling over of this is all a big folly. I couldn’t agree more with Mark Manson in his article Screw Finding Your Passion. It’s all in the game. THAT’S the game. PLAYING IT. There are no losers and no winners. It’s the playing that matters.
So I got stuck on all of this while riding in the car. Here is the trail of my brainwave mapped out for you:
I want a change.
Should I dye my hair?
Do I find a new job?
I want a new life.
My life now isn’t so bad.
Maybe I’m never happy.
NO, maybe there’s nothing wrong with striving for more.
I would look good as a blonde.
Yeah, I want my hair chopped off and dyed blonde.
No, I don’t look good with short hair.
Maybe I don’t care anymore.
How does one really change your life?
(A song came on the radio to help.)
Song: (by 21 Pilots called ‘Stressed Out’ it states: Wish we could turn back time, to the good ol’ days,
When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out.)
I think: Jeeze, this guy must be young, I wouldn’t turn back time THAT far. How far back would I go to make my life different now?
I would go back to high school.
Get better grades.
Get a scholarship.
Go to college.
Wait? Why do I always shoot for the bottom rung? Scholarship?
I want to go WAAAAY back and be born into a family with money.
Have my college paid for.
Have trips to France in my childhood of summers.
I go to law school.
I have a house.
Yeah, that’s it.
I practically change my DNA so I’m a different person who had made better choices.
So, if all this took place, and I had gone to law school, I’d be someone who’s been practicing law now for over twenty years.
I’d be in the same spot I’m in now.
I would want a change.
I would quit law and be searching just like I am now.
So yes, ignorance is bliss. Don’t research too much. Do what you love. And not in the sense that that is ALL you do, or that you must love your JOB, or make what you LOVE your JOB. But you have to play. What is it you are already doing that makes you smile? Feel good? Who cares if it makes you money or is relevant to anyone else? THAT’S how you PLAY. Read Mark’s article. Go collect bugs, who cares if it pays the rent.
Me? I’m going to spill my guts in this blog that 8 people read. I’m going to write my novel that I’m halfway through writing that is completely irrelevant on my hard drive and known to no one. I’m going to just keep doing stuff each day that sounds fun to me and quit checking my brain too much to see if it all matters.
So I can’t be the Clean Police ALL MUTHAFUCKIN’ weekend. Nothing else would come out of my mouth except demands and orders. So I have to let some things go. That’s the great thing about living in a tiny space; this mess took eight minutes to clean up. And a dishwasher does my dishes. I just wish I didn’t have to worry about it or say anything in order for it to get done. And I act like I’m not gonna touch it but it doesn’t bother anyone else as much as it bothers me and I can’t let it sit there. So I still end up cleaning like an idiot after the kids go home so I can sit in a peaceful, quiet, comfortable, free of chaos, clean environment.
It’s in my nature to make order from chaos. I’m a Virgo. I have OCD. Combine the two, it’s a curse and a blessing what can I say? So I let it go, but I really don’t. My brain never shuts off. “Oh my god you’re getting crumbs all over everything! Oh my God pick up your socks for the hundredth millionth time! Oh my god that doesn’t go there! I can’t even sit on the couch because of all your shit all over it!” This is the dialogue in my head. It’s never really off. Just my face is off. But it probably isn’t either.
They are doing so good and being patient is a virtue. Which I don’t have. I don’t want to ‘nag’ Michael either. There is a balance. They are cleaning ten times more than they were. I need to recognize that and praise them and move on, otherwise I’ll feel like an Ogre. I also need to own that I am a neat freak and move on.
I make everything so black and white too. Yes, I think they should all clean up after themselves. So I don’t. So nothing gets done, then I’m mad. Then I’m mad so long I lose my shit.
There is moderation to everything. I am learning the mucky, grey area of it. There is probably a ‘gentle’ way to do this. I do not know of this ‘gentleness’ however. I am learning. To me it is common sense to clean yer shit up. But this is coming from a woman, who cleaned her room and made her bed when she was a two year old child. My mother thought ALL children were like this which probably attributed to her having three more. Which after that I’m assuming, she realized I was an anomaly. (I always knew I was left on the doorstep.)
So I shut up around Sunday mid morning because I will breathe fire if I open my mouth. It’s not fair to them, we are having a good day, I don’t want to be an Ogre, so I drop it. Maybe this week I will do that gentle thing and have a ‘talk’ thingy. I will own up to my heightened level of what CLEAN means and what efforts are truly being made in this small apartment living arrangement by everyone around me and find that middle ground on a map somewhere and pitch a tent. But throw the GODAMNED RING ALREADY SMEAGOL!!
So yeah, this quitting drinking thing…blows. Its making me actually HAVE all of my emotions. I made the ‘Rules’ list for the fridge, for the kids, for a reference, so I can point and not yell. Then I took a weekend ‘off’ and told Michael I quit. The house was a wreck, the kids went ape shit, I hid in my room the whole time and felt like a jerk. Then Michael quit drinking and after I ripped the rules down and threw them away, because that’s what I do with dormant emotions, let them rip; together we made the new ‘Rules’, as a team. Michael wanted to play, I felt a million times better and we started over.
Emotions still running wild and I have noticed that I want to drink sometimes when I feel them rise up. I drank mostly because these emotions scared me. I thought if I let any leak out, the dam would burst and the village would be drowned. Or maybe not even all that dramatic, maybe I just wasn’t used to having them. They were uncomfortable. Why do you think I do comedy? I can be awkward with a whole bunch of other awkwardly type people and we are friends.
And every weekend the kids keep showing up. They keep making me be a PERSON. It would be rude and weird if I stayed in bed the whole time because of SAD. It’s 80 degrees out goddammit. It’s beautiful outside!! This is Colorado…these are people. People that like YOU. Little people that like you and want to call you Weekend Mom. Snap out of it. Sometimes ya gotta fake it til you make it.
Another thing that is working with this ‘list’ thingy…is that Money Talks. We listed various chores they can do for money. Some chores come with just being in a home and living in a family. Like doing dishes, cleaning up after yourself, behaving like civilized humans. Eating with forks. Then there are extra chores that can be done for cold hard cash. These chores are inspected of course, no cheaters, no corners cut. Michael’s 5 year old asked, ‘What else can I clean?’ I immediately thought we had picked up the wrong children and brought home impostors. His middle child has diagnosed me with a cleaning problem. The oldest is just here for the dough. But the place is clean and my heart rate stays down.
We also listed rewards that can be chosen if all goes well and there are no small animals hurt in the survival of the weekend. Places they like to go, activities they like to do and all there for their choosing. So cash and fun motivate. Taking away fun and adding chores for no pay…also motivates. Just like in adult life. We are teachers folks. It’s all in a days work. Oh yeah, so is everything I learn from them. Goddammit.
I signed up for five yoga sessions. Will be hitting the first one today. (Should I be saying ‘hitting’ if I’m going to yoga?) I thought since I’ve been pooping my brains out for two weeks and eating a bland diet and not drinking and doing much reflecting on my entire life as of late, now would be as good time as any to take up yoga seriously and not just in my living room.
So of course I’m bleeding like Carrie on Prom night and am gassy with my healthy new diet. Thanks UNIVERSE!
Despite my war on manners and my Weekend Strike and making the Rules and feeling like telling everyone to fuck off; I got very humbled by my own children in this Parenting Regime. Each of them calling me at separate times over the last few days and confessing some pretty life challenging struggles. One is re focusing their life after a big wake up call, one is battling depression and eating disorder issues. Without taking away from their own experiences as separate people; I can’t help but feel I didn’t give them something I should of when they were small. I mothered badly somehow. Even in realizing that is a selfish position to take, ‘it’s all about me’ kind of attitude, a mother can’t help but feel that way. As parents we tend to take all the blame.
In some ways, this may be easier in a martyr-ing type of way; in an Italian Mother type of way. But really, in an accountability type of way, once we move out on our own we start making choices for ourselves. I would love to blame my mother for all of my issues right now. Or go to AA and ‘give it all to God’, but I don’t see any true accountability in any of that. Once we move out on our own, our decisions are up to us. Yes we may have learned things by good and/or bad parenting, but we can make up new things, discover our own paths and make new decisions once we are adults. There’s certainly nothing wrong in me reflecting on things I could’ve done better as a parent, but reflecting on what I can do better NOW is a much better use of my time. I love and support both of my grown children, I am always honest with them, and they are always honest and open with me, I appreciate that more than anything in the world and am proudest of that fact more than any other aspect of our relationship.
So, after quietly speaking to my kids and worrying like an Italian Mother, I confessed to Michael, ‘ I don’t know anything about parenting. I don’t know what I’m doing, I have two adult children in the world struggling, I know NOTHING.’ Eating a little crow after ranting and raving for three days, making my dumb lists and feeling like I was on a pedestal; I confessed to not knowing what the fuck I’m doing and cried.
This man gently lifted me up off of my pedestal, laid me down beside him, and told me simply, ‘None of us do.’ Adding that they (meaning our spawn) ‘are going to do whatever the fuck they want whenever the fuck they want no matter what we do.’
I kissed this man, forgave us both, and we moved on with our night.
THIS is parenting. It’s messy and sloppy, it’s a roller coaster of rewards and deep ditches of dark holes, it’s smiling and crying at the same time, and then you just eat ice cream and go to bed.
love you guys!!!
I’ve got another thing coming, I don’t know what that is, but I will find it. I really am in the winter of my discontent right now. I turned 49 a few days ago and that would probably explain a lot of it. Shouldn’t I be somebody by now? As much as I hate that question, and know better than to ask it, I’m still asking it.
Yeah I made the Rules List. Who fucking cares? Lately I have felt very sick and can’t seem to spend much time out of the bathroom. I’m having to revamp my diet and health. It has made me slow down. It has made me feel weak. It has made me not drink. Which means I’m in my head. A lot.
So I will be eating the bland diet of a two-year-old. Lots of rice, lots of oatmeal trying to add fruits and veg, drinking a lot of tea. It’s made me stop and slow down. I know I need to stay positive and a positive mind is everything. I just can’t muster that up right now. Not only that, but I don’t care that I don’t care.
I’m just going to do what I’m doing, and I don’t care if anyone uses a fork anymore. Or cleans their room. I don’t give a fuck. The rules are posted. I’m going to head out and do some yoga and go on some hikes this weekend. Michael can tame the shrews, I don’t care anymore. I’ve spent the last eight weeks trying to be the mom I thought I was. I quit.
For now I think I’ll eat my baby food, go on some long walks, BECAUSE I CAN, and quiet my mind a bit. My body will probably immediately go into shock but C’est la vie.
The Blended Family. In the past, I WAS THE ONE WITH THE KIDS. The people I was dating had to fit into OUR mold. Now I find myself the one ‘without’ kids trying to live inside another mold. Someone else’s mold. So I’ve let the tail wag the dog a little bit here as I try and find my place with Michael and HIS kids, where I fit in, where my place as an adult person in their lives really lies.
I still am a human who lives in this apartment. I donned armor and a sword this weekend and THAT wagging the dog thing is all done. After a trip to the grocery store and ten minutes in the car alone with three fighting kids, I have changed the way we will be living together on the weekends. The ONSLAUGHT of the Children of the Corn ends. No more Miss Nice Weekend Fun Mom.
This budget thingy has got us staying home much more. I’ve learned that our spending was just part of a big distraction to some of the things we need to focus on. And that thing is the chaos of three young kids. Yes they are going through a divorce, but it is an amicable one. They have a home and love. It’s time they also have manners and discipline. We were not put on this earth to entertain and serve three kids like they are Kings and Queens, waiting on them hand and foot because they are ‘getting divorced.’ It is not serving them well.
They will now learn to eat while sitting down the entire time. To use silverware. Have table manners. Clear their dishes. Clean up, participate in the preparation of the food. TO EAT A PEACEFUL MEAL. It will be like Annie Sullivan training Helen Keller. But I’ve got my sword now. And some markers. ‘THE RULES’ have been posted. The gauntlet will drop. THIS IS WAR.
One must strategize. The kids have worked out how to beat us down. The Phoenix Rises. Divorced parents are tired and shameful and living in the cloud of shit that divorce brings. I am NOT in this cloud. I want my life back.
There has to be consequences for rules not being followed. Which means US suffering sometimes. They don’t have separate rooms, we have one tv, but where there is a will there is a way to remove these luxuries from their lives. I have the will. Michael and I have devised a WAY. Thy will be done. We are totally fine sitting at home all weekend. We never have a DAY OFF. We will make them.
I will not have another weekend of screaming, fighting, rampant chaos. I have done this before. I had a little Helen Keller once too. Me and my kids lived like ‘Lord of the Flies’ when I first got divorced. There was a pig’s head on a stick outside of our apartment until I decided to stop feeling ‘bad’ I got divorced. My little Helen Keller now lives in New York City and eats with a fork.
So this weekend will be the first weekend the gauntlet comes down. There will be hell to pay. And Michael and I can cash that check. Just watch.