I Almost Got Struck By Lightening While You Were Gone

This post is one I am moving over from my other blog, Welcome To CABsPlace, where I am pretty certain I will not continue writing.  That is…unless…someone can come up with a really good reason why I should write two blogs that mostly deal with the same stuff.  This particular post, speaks of doing the single parenting job with four kids and how sometimes, for no seemingly apparent reason, you just encounter turbulence.  I wrote this post originally in June, 2008 and have made only minor revisions. Enjoy, and let me know what you think.

Summer 2009 033 A sunny summer June Monday morning started out peacefully but soon deteriorated into complete and total chaos, then, just as suddenly as it erupted, the chaos evaporated. This kind of disturbance happens routinely in my home and I am often perplexed as to why or how it starts and what to do about it when it does. Today, I did nothing. That seemed to work.

I awoke, as I normally do to the peaceful music of the birds outside my window. These wonderful sounds were angrily disrupted by the grumbling, groaning, clanking, banging noises of the garbage truck makings its rounds on the block behind mine. My oldest daughter, who had rolled in well after midnight last night from an out-of-town choir tour, continued to sleep undisturbed. Now, she doesn’t usually share the bed with me, but this last week she was gone and her room became the laundry room. When she returned in the wee hours of the morning, I was unwilling to move the laundry and my bed, so though I hated the thought of enduring the battle of the bed sheets and her snoring, I suggested she just crash in my bed tonight. I figured if it got bad enough, I’d just go sleep on the couch.

The night passed uneventfully, meaning I slept without disturbance, until around 5:30 or 6, my youngest decided she wanted to crawl in with us. Once cozily sandwiched in between her older sister and me she drifted off into blissful sleep. I rolled over to try to catch a few more winks myself. That’s when the fun began.

j0422197 I was just drifting of into some nice REM sleep when the warm blankets were abruptly pulled off me. I was startled awake by the chill morning air and the loss of the covers. My youngest, sweet cherub that she is, had become too warm and kicked off all the blankets in her sleep. I glanced across the vast bed to my oldest. She was still sleeping soundly. So was my youngest for that matter. The kicking clearly bothered no one but me. I grumpily pulled the covers back up, rolled back over and went back to sleep again. I’m not sure how long I was sleeping before the covers were suddenly pulled off me again. This time, knowing it was my daughter’s kicking problem, I just reached out grabbed the blankets and pulled them back up over my shoulders. I burrowed down into the bed cinching the covers close around my neck. I closed my eyes. I waited. Sure enough, it was only a matter of a few moments when my daughter’s began flailing in an attempt to rid her body of the constricting sheets. That was it for me. I slid out of bed and padded into the kitchen to start the coffee. I was officially up for the day.

Connecting through Random Sound Bites

Later that morning, as I was putting away dishes, my daughter (Number 2) was mixing up pancake batter when an argument arose between my son (Number 3), and my youngest daughter (Number 4) about who woke up first this morning.

I mean, what’s up with that and who cares?

Then there was the confusion about how Number 1’s dirty clothes got mixed in with the clean clothes in spite of the fact that she’s been gone for a week. This then moved into a discussion (okay, it was really an argument) about moving the family computer out of my oldest daughter’s (Number 1) room to the kitchen/dining area where I am now typing on it. Never mind that all school year she complained about having it in her room because she needed to study and no one else was allowed in there to use the computer while she was studying. Sigh. Then there’s the breakfast table conversation which went something like this:

Number 1: I know for sure I’m not going to Elite Private School in That Big City by Puget Sound.

Me: Oh, why not?

Number 1: I’m not so sure I like the city. (She’d just returned from a week long trip to That Big City.)

Me (raising my eyebrows internally): Well, that’s definitely a consideration.

Number 1 (to Number 2): I got some really neat things while I was gone. (Note the random and sudden change in conversational direction.)

j0422455 Number 4: Pass the syrup.

Number 2 to Number 1: Did you get me anything?

Number 4: Is the first gallon of milk already gone?!

Me: No, it’s right here.

Number 1 to Number 2: No, but you can use some of it if you want. (Referencing the stuff she got on her trip but which was not for her sister.)

Me: Number 2, I don’t think we have enough pancakes here. Does anyone want some more? We can mix some up.

Number 2: You mean, Number 2, can mix some more up.

Number 1: Number 2, are you going to be in Youth Ensemble next year?

Number 2: While you were gone I almost got struck by lightning.

I kid you not, that is how the conversation went. That is how the morning went. One random thought after another. Sound bites of our lives, disconnected but fitting together.  The heartbeat of a family simply comfortable with being together.  It sounded like no one was listening to anyone else, but that wasn’t the case.  It seemed everyone was content just to say something, anything even if no one responded to it.  It is enough to make the thinking adult go nearly mad.  Except that somehow, almost miraculously it seems, there was actual dialogue and forward progress on those daily activities that keep a household afloat. Have you ever stopped and listened to the flow of the daily conversation in your home?  Close your eyes for just a second and listen.  What do you hear? Keep your eyes closed, now what do you see?

Expect Occasional Turbulence

Number 2 did tell about her close encounter with lightning, we did finish breakfast fairly uneventfully, the laundry is getting folded and put away, in spite of Number 2 and Number 3 creating an alliance against Number 4. Currently, Number 3 is attempting to avoid changing the sheets on his bed by suddenly developing an interest in reading, Number 1 is agonizing through her allergies by doing the dishes with Kleenex packed firmly in each nostril and Number 4 is refusing to let me type one more word until I give her permission to scoop the dead worm she found out of the pool. None of this would be a problem except now the older kids are accusing Number 4 of digging up the worm and putting it in the pool instead of finding it already there. Hmmm, how would a worm get in the pool on its own anyway? And then, Number 4, when passing through the sliding screen door knocks the screen completely out of its tracks, you’d have thought she was struck by lightening.

There are days in a family that pass by fairly uneventfully, like when all the kids are gone to their other parents’ homes or spending time away with friends. There are other days, when we are all here and things still pass fairly uneventfully but that seems to occur only if I let the kids do whatever they want and make no demands on them. Since that is not  our reality, it is more common that there is going to be some turbulence at points along the way. I know this. I understand this. I expect and accept this. But I don’t always like it.l_60fb08cb5f694286b3a6544b7f9c3f53

At this very minute, there seems to be an unofficial cease fire and things are calm. I wonder how long this will last? It baffles me how the tone in a home can go from blissfully serene to completely insane in seconds and then just as suddenly back to peaceful. It is not unlike being struck by lightening. Sometimes in family life, it feels like you end up dead too.

On the other hand, it can also leave you with the feeling of being more alive than ever.

Conversations With Men…and Some Women Too

Christmas Day, 6:00 a.m. 

j0440978 I wake up, stumble through the house turning on the Christmas lights on my way to let the dog out for her morning romp in the back yard.  It is a frosty, cold, foggy 28 degrees in Southern Oregon.  I change the laundry, start another load of the eternal never ending chore and move back into the kitchen automatically, thoughtlessly, still somewhat groggily to begin the task of brewing coffee. 

My house is silent except for the soft sound of heat being forced out through the furnace and the low rumbling purr of my cats who float ethereally in and out of rooms.  Noiseless vapors appearing and disappearing of their own catlike determination. Once the coffee is brewed I pour a cup, add a bit of cream and a touch of the homemade peppermint schnapps a colleague gave me for Christmas.  I pad silently to the living room couch where I plant myself, laptop on lap, facing the tree centered in front of the large picture window which looks out onto my quiet street. My mind and my heart are filled with thoughts and feelings. You would think that these thoughts and feelings would center on the fact that I am alone this Christmas without my children to share in the traditional holiday festivities.  Such is not the case, because I know I am not alone in my being alone on this day.  All over this country there are many men home alone without their children or families with them.  This is the ugly sad side of divorce.

Men are often denounced and disparaged as being focused on sex over relationship.  Women on the other hand place relationship as a higher priority than sex.  These are broad generalizations and there are many exceptions to every rule, but just go with me here.  Men, in general, are often villanized for being so very sexually oriented. 

I’d like to suggest a different idea.  I’d like to suggest the idea that men are every bit as interested in relationship (that deep, emotionally gratifying connected relationship) that women are touted as desiring.  I just think they go about it differently.  I don’t think that the differences in approach necessarily presume a difference in desire or ultimate goal.

j0402650I’ve been divorced exactly two years and four days now.  In that time, I’ve had the freedom to meet, have coffee with, have drinks with and converse with many members of the opposite sex.  I’ve had more freedom to engage in these conversations than I would have had I not been single even though many of these conversations have been completely platonic. I’ve learned a lot in these conversations with men.  While most of them have been single, some of these conversations have occurred with men in relationships with other women, while the woman was there of course, and other conversations have occurred with men who are still married but separated (a definite indicator that the relationship will never be anything more than platonic where I am concerned) and still others have been casual encounters at Christmas parties or social gatherings with husbands of my colleagues and friends.  These particular conversations all have one thing in common.  They have at the core of them the question, “What is it that men really want?”

One thing becomes clearer to me, as I have these conversations.  We really do all want the same thing.  Some of us are fortunate, we’ve found it, we enjoy it, we are grateful for it.  Others continue to look and wait and hope that someday we too will experience it or will experience it again.  Still others of us have given up hope that this reality will occur for us and some of us might even now be in the process of giving up hope that we will ever experience anything like it. 

What is it?  What is this thing we all want?  I suspect it is the same for men as for women though the sexes have very different and often opposing ways to go about getting what they want. This thing is love.  This thing is trust.  This thing is relationship.  It is relationship that is deeply, emotionally intimate and fulfilling.  The relationship that continues to be such after time, and change, and aging have taken their toll. 

j0440312 So as I sip my morning coffee and think about all the conversations I’ve had over the last two years and specifically some of the conversations I’ve had recently I want to extend a big hug to all my dear friends, male and female, married or single who’ve walked part or all of this journey with me these last two years.  Thank you for conversing with me.  Thank you for sharing your lives and your hearts with me. You’ve certainly enriched me.  I wish you all the love you seek and all the joy that comes with that love.  If you’ve found that in your life I wish for you a lifetime of experiencing it with that one special other. May you always be grateful for what you have in each other.  If you still await that experience then I hope, dear friend, that 2010 is your year! 

Merry Christmas!

The Wild Mind

“When the world says give up, hope whispers try it one more time” ~ Author unknown.

Blonde Moments

I’m not a news junkie.  I barely keep up on the current events. By keeping up, I mean, I’m lucky to find out something happened within a week of it actually happening.  I’m also not someone who follows the lifestyles of the rich and famous or the rich and political and famous.  I know I should be more informed, but, really…I could care less who slept with who and who did what where under who’s desk and why.  Nor do I care how many of my tax dollars were spent on a designer dress to adorn the current first lady, if even my tax dollars are going to that.  I should be more informed about things that are going on, and in other posts I’ve alluded to why I’m not (i.e., because I think the media in this country is warped, slanted, biased and anything but objectively informing us of anything).  Anyhow, I even reached new heights of uninformed blondeness for me today.

Really.  Sometimes I let those blonde roots show just a little too much.

Today my son was watching the news (yeah, my 14-year-old son watches it…never mind that I rarely do) and he noticed that Senator Edward Kennedy died.

“Oh wow!” he exclaimed.  “Ed Kennedy died?”  Like he couldn’t believe it but also like he knew who this was.

“Yeah,” I replied.  “Do you even know who he is?”

“Yeah, he’s the brother of…” he started to reply.  He seriously was going to tell me all about him!  I was floored.

“The brother of all those other Kennedys who died,” I impulsively interrupted. Somehow I felt I just had to know more than my son about this. 

My son just rolled his eyes, shook his head and clicked the remote to another channel.  “Mom, sometimes you are so blonde!” he sighed. 

Geez.  Now that was impressive.

April Fools

Yeah, it’s that month.  The month of fools and I am one of the biggest.  I know it.

The first part of the foolishness is the part where The Beau strung  me along for months, all the while telling a girlfriend from his past about me but failing to tell me he was talking to her about me.  He only tells me about  her and how he “really” feels about her until after he’s met back up with her…after dating me for about two months and after being assured that he can woo her away from her fiance (ha!ha!) of five years.  I had no information about the potential meet up or about the dialogues all along.  Is something there really screwed? I mean, he was the one who promoted the “exclusive relationship” thing, not me…yet he was just unable to be exclusive…and he wonders why women leave him for other people.  Hmmm, could it be that they also read that he is just not that into them?

April Fools. 

Then there is the Friday night meet up that ended up with me meeting up with a guy that so misrepresented himself that I nearly walked out.  I guess I’m too much of a Fool to do that. Or maybe…I’m enough of a Fool….

April Fools.

The “meet up” Friday night actually crossed paths with Monkey Sex Man, a guy I dated up with about a year and a half ago.  He happened to be at the same place.  He called me today.  Left a message.  I called him back.  We talked at length. He point blank told me I deserved better than to be dating someone half my height who was wearing a baseball cap in a fairly upscale trendy pub in town.  “I mean”, he said, “There are certain social expectations that a guy should be able to live up to.”  Sadly, I tend to agree with Monkey Sex Man’s assessment. If the guy can’t float between completely casual and laid back to the appropriate attire for the occasion, I’m so not interested.  I mean, after the “I do'” are said is it really going to get any better?  I can just visualize the guy slurping beer sans shirt on the new couch and ordering me around.  Sorry, been there, done that…or maybe I’m just an…

April Fool…

Message on my phone today from Monkey Sex Man.  He wants me to call him back, so I do.  We talk. He’s bitter about life and relationship for many reasons I understand.  However, I think I’ve gotten to the place that I’ve accepted that the world is just this stupid fucking way and he has not gotten over the idealism that it just shouldn’t be that way. We talked for a couple of hours.  It was nice.  He off gassed some frustration.  He’s far too sexually experienced and, if I may say so, arrogant.  It will never go beyond friends.  But it was nice to talk to another intelligent single person who is experiencing the same dilemmas here that I am. But maybe I’m just the biggest…

April Fool

because I wonder.  I wonder about male/female friendships.  I wonder about respect and where it’s gone.  I wonder about love, loyalty and wanting to hook your wagon to another’s star in hopes that both of you will reach your dreams. I wonder.  Is it all possible or have we all just become a bunch of self-serving liars who only hope to get what they want out of life even if it means quashing someone else in the process? 

April Fools

are everywhere.  Some of them are victims of misplaced trust or hope.  Others are perpetrators of selfish scams.  Which am I?  One then the other, sometimes both?  Which are you?  Which do you choose to be?  Why?  And the best question yet, “How’s that working for you?”  The next  question is, “How’s that working for the others in your life?”

April Fools

…seems there are so many of us out there.

Having Those Difficult Conversations

Into every relationship some difficulty or tension must fall.  It invariably happens when the two people have differing needs, desires, expections, wants, limitations, boundaries.  I have a friend who says there are no conflicts, just differing wants and needs.  I think he’s delusional.  What happens when your differing wants or needs abuse my right to live peacefully in my own space?  Conflict is what happens, among other things.

I have another friend who shared with me today of his experience with several women who seem to be out of touch with their emotions or, at best, who are unable to admit that the emotion they feel is anger.  So…instead of dealing openly and honestly with the emotions, these people chose to shut down and, well,  get vicious or go silent.  I wanted to say that women aren’t the only ones who are out of touch with themselves and their feelings. 

My last marriage was rife with attempting to deal with a man who was incapable of addressing his emotions in a healthy manner.  Well, I personally am not the psychologist of the world, but I’m not afraid to face the yuck in myself when I need to.  No, it isn’t ever all that fun, but in the end, it is a much more practical and healthy way to go than to try to pretend the problems away by ignoring them.  I tend to want to deal with things straight up rather than ignore them.  This didn’t work well in that marriage as you can imagine. 

I am currently dealing with the same situation with another friend.  Platonic relationship only.  But I recieved an email that said something was bothering him. (I’m thinking, “What could possibly be bothering him?”)  Then he went silent.  I didn’t know what to make of that so, I gave it some time and responded with, “I’d be interested in hearing anything you have to say.”  Silence.   Two days of silence, which wouldn’t be a problem really, had he not said anything.  I would just figure he’s busy with life, as I’ve been.  But, I can’t help wondering if he’s playing some kind of control game here.   If he needs time to process it, great!  I have no problem with that.  Take all the time you need to deal with whatever it is you are feeling.  But…how hard it is to drop a note to that effect?  Or am I simply expecting too much out of the average individual? 

Why can’t people simply make the attempt to figure out what’s bothering them and then ask honestly for what they need? Sometimes life and friendship require that people have those difficult conversations.  One thing I’m certain of, I simply won’t last long in a relationship with someone who is unwilling or incapable of having those conversations when they need to be had.  This doesn’t mean I expect everything in life to be a big serious, introspective discussion either.  It just seems to be pushing into the realm of cowardice when folks avoid having those difficult  conversations.