let’s do this

I’ve had a podcast for over two years. We average about 200 listens per episode, but it takes a good long while and a blood sacrifice on a full moon to reach those numbers. I haven’t paid one bit of attention to anything blog related in years, and I log in today to find that I had over 200 visits on any given day last week. What the hell?? Is blogging making an actual comeback? Because I am down to clown if so. God I love writing nonsense and getting immediate feedback from the people that read it. It’s honestly the second best high I’ve ever felt. We won’t talk about the first…

In my years as a writer, I’ve blogged about everything from my literal babies (who are now grown ass adult-ish) to my kid’s autism diagnosis to the time I went to see male strippers in a dive bar in the armpit of the Pacific Northwest. There is no subject I won’t beat to death with my laptop. I love it to the deepest part of me.

So, why don’t I ever do this anymore? I mean…huh. Good question. Commitment issues? I don’t know. One time about 12 years ago I got writer’s block and I never got over it. The world changed from people creating communities around blogs to cramming creativity into140 character tweets. Then we went all “60 second soundbites” and fuckitall I’m not cut out for that life. The world of podcasts is amazing and I do love it, but the back and forth community just isn’t there for me. Plus, I like to write at all times of the day whenever the hell I want to and… I don’t know. Why am I even thinking about this. Just write, sister.

This is what I do. This is how I process. This is who I am.

For about eleventy-five years I joked that blogging was my “free therapy.” Well, cut to now and I am ass over teakettle in actual therapy (that is definitely not free,) but when I need to work some shit out it’s right here. I currently have 147 unpublished drafts that will never see the light of day. This free-flowing stream of consciousness is my love language.

The only difference is, I’m ready to start pushing “publish” again. And I really hope I stick with it.

What’s changed and what has stayed the same?

Well, you can always count on me to be full of piss and vinegar, as my Papa used to say. My mouth still rivals that of a trucker, my sass abounds and my heart is still full of love for absolutely everyone except assholes. Jimmie is and will forever be my soul mate, and he drives me batshit less and less as the years go on. This November we will celebrate 20 years and that is just insane to me because I’m still 22.

More has changed than we even have time for. My babies are definitely NOT babies. Sis is 19 and has been living on her own for the past year. Bub is 16 and about to start his sophomore year at a new high school. We’ve moved back and forth across the state of Washington more times than I care to count during the past 20 years, but we have settled back in Eastern WA, and this is where we hope to spend the rest of our days…for now. I do miss the coastal breeze, so I will be taking lots of trips back to my favorite beaches.

The biggest change, though, is in me. As I said, I’m in the thick of some pretty intense therapy. I started personal therapy about a year ago. Sis left for college and I decided to get serious about caring for myself. During Covid and about a year of being stuck inside with myself, I got real with myself about needing professional help. Like so many others, my anxiety and overall mental health was a shit show. I went on meds, and shortly after we began family therapy. Our family therapist is the gift of a lifetime, and now she sees both Sis and I individually. I am not overstating it when I say she has saved our lives.

When I was ready to start being honest with myself about the trauma I’ve experienced in my life, I really started to see how much it was affecting not only me but my relationships with my kids, Jim and all the important things/people in my life. Choosing to face the excruciating realities that have dogged me since early childhood has given me a whole new life. It’s nowhere near as easy as that sounds, but a huge part of this blog is going to be me talking through that.

All jokes aside, that writer’s block that started oh so long ago? Well that was just me not wanting to dig into the story of my life. It was more than writer’s block. It was me shutting down and not being able to process and feel the hard stuff. I reached capacity and made a choice to embrace survival rather than living. Sure, sometimes we have to do what we have to do to make it through, but merely surviving sucks. I don’t ever want to choose to simply make it. I want to live and I want to do it in a way that makes other people want to live.

It would be super for me if writing here again is part of that.

I even ripped off my super long nails that made it hard as hell for me to type. So I guess I’m really invested now.

Let’s do this.

when the sh*t hits the fan

If you’ve listened to this week’s podcast, you know this shit hit the fan around here this week.

This mama snapped. Words were said. Hands were thrown. Tears were cried. Shame was HAD.

You know the old saying, “If you think life is hard try raising a mini version of yourself during a pandemic?” No? That’s not an old saying? Well it fucking is now. Only my mini version is bigger than I am now and maybe more ruthless. God I do love her so.

We are living in some really weird times. Seriously, think about it. Have you ever even in your life imagined that you’d be forced to stay home for weeks on end, not even be allowed to work or go to school or do whatever in hell you do, oh and by the way, you may or may not be drawing a paycheck to pay for your life?! No?! Yah, no. Me either. Never crossed my mind. It does things to us. It makes us crazy(er). And it’s just hard as shit.

But you guys, we’re doing it. We’re surviving all this. We’re growing and figuring it out. We might even come out of this better people. But it’s sure as shit going to be messy in the process. Right now…my life, my brain, MY EMOTIONS are really messy. Somehow though, it feels like part of the process. Part of the becoming. I’ve got no idea where this ship is sailing, and I just feel along for the ride.

Part of this process for me is overcoming a lot of self-doubt and a lot of shame. There’s one thing I know for sure: if I didn’t have my people in my life- the ones that get into the shit with me and help me find my way out- things would not be good for me right now. Not good at all.

Please find the Everything’s (not) Fine podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. I’d love to share this part of my world with you.

Here’s a link to this week’s episode, “when the shit hits the fan” on Apple Podcasts.

Love and peace to you. Stay safe!

should i make a pencil bouquet or a xanax cocktail?

This time next week, I will have just tucked my kids into bed in preparation for their first day of school.  This time next week, I will be an emotional wreck.

As internet friends all over the country have been sending their babes off to school this week, I have been watching closely.  I’ve been reading their posts and emails about feelings on loosening the cord and saying goodbye for seven hours a day.  I’ve also been reading article after article about easing the transition and offering the right kinds of support to the people we are sending off.  Some might say I’m working myself up over nothing.  I say, I’m arming myself for the battle.  “What the hell is so stinking bad about sending your kid to school?” you ask.  Nothing, I guess.  For most moms.

I; however, am not most moms.  Among a myriad of personal issues too neurotic to name, I’m also a mom of a kid with Sensory Processing Disorder.  You may be wondering what SPD is.  You may be rolling your eyes and guffawing that another mom is buying into another “disorder” to make excuses for their bad parenting.  I know there’s plenty of people in my life happy to have that same response.

For those of you eager to pass judgement, save it.  Just save it and keep moving on.  For those of you wondering what SPD is, it’s a neurological condition that makes it difficult to process and act upon information received through the senses, thereby creating challenges in performing countless everyday tasks.  To the average person, the child may look like an incredibly shy introvert that hides under her mom’s skirt and refuses to play at recess, or he may look like a wild maniac that bounces off the walls, runs over the other children and refuses to settle down and obey even the most basic classroom rules.  (Some children that look like this, simply are those things, and some children aren’t.  It’s up to parents to investigate and decide what category their children are in, and I’d happily support all parents in their decisions.)

Just like thousands of other parents in my position, I’m anxious about many things as the beginning of the school year approaches.  Have I been too lax this summer and created a monster for his teacher?  Will he be able to grasp a new routine, new rules, new environment that is different from last year’s?  Will the support the school has promised in order to help him succeed truly be there?  Will he come home every day with sad faces on a report regarding his classroom behavior?  Will his report cards hold all ones and twos or will he be on “grade level” threes and fours?  How the hell am I going to do this?  Am I a failure as a mom?  And a thousand more questions just like these.  On a loop.  In my head.

More than anything right now, I hear these words: “Do not let that school put a label on your son. It’s not worth it.  You know he’s a good kid.  He’s just a little boy.  Don’t you dare let them label him.”  As much as I have struggled with the decision, I have let them label him.  Do you know why?  Because I’m not too proud to let my son get the help he will desperately need to succeed throughout school.  Do you know what the label means for my son?  The label means the difference between him growing up to be a tow truck driver or an engineer if he wants to.  (Not that I would have a problem if he wanted to grow up to be a tow-truck driver.  God bless the tow-truck drivers.  But if he wants to be an engineer, then he should have that opportunity.)  As much as I know in my gut that I have made the right decision, because I know my son, the people in my ear that don’t agree with it, wear me down and make me question myself.  I’m not proud of it, but it’s true.

And then I remind myself: that label, those extra classes and the special seat he gets in the classroom?  Those are the difference between success and failure.  The therapy he receives?  That’s the difference between learning to read fluently by the end of the year, and it taking until fifth grade to read at a first grade level.  That file? The one that they keep in the office that says my son has special needs?  That file doesn’t mean shit to me, except that my son, the one that I am responsible for, he gets to have his best shot at life.

I cannot wrap my mind around stubbornly refusing my son his best shot at life just because I am too proud to let someone evaluate him and put a label on him.  If every time he ran around the track in PE he turned blue and couldn’t breathe, would I refuse to let a doctor check him for asthma?  If they found he had asthma and I refused to let him have medication to treat it, would I be a good mom because I wasn’t letting someone label my son as an asthmatic?  Would I be teaching him a special kind of discipline that would turn him into an Olympic sprinter later in life or would I be hamstringing him for the sake of my own pride?  Does that make any sense whatsoever?

This year, I will be entering new waters.  In the four earlier years I’ve had children in school, I’ve never been the mom that had to attend IEP meetings or therapy sessions.  I’ve just been the mom with the smart kid and the cute kindergartener.  Now I’m the mom that decided not to take that great job so I could be the mom that goes to school and helps with the hard days.  I’m the mom that packs the special bag and does the extra work to make sure things go smoothly.  I’m the mom that makes sure the label doesn’t mean he gets stuck in the seat in the corner, but gets all the special help he needs to be the brilliant kid that proves you wrong.  I’m that mom.  And I’m bad ass.

*I feel badly that I didn’t add this earlier, but I also want to make clear that my husband is also that dad.  He supports every decision and makes every hard sacrifice right along side me.  When one of us has lost our focus and determination to give Jordan his best shot, the other is there to remind us why we’re doing this.  He lovingly watches me devour books and articles and try crazy-brained ideas to help ease life around here.  He sacrifices for all of us.  And he is most definitely bad. ass. :)*

mean girls

Being a mom is my biggest challenge in life.  I’m decent at being a wife.  I’m decent at cooking and cleaning and making sure things run smoothly around here. I’m also a good mom.  It’s the one thing I work really hard at.  When I say it’s my biggest challenge I don’t mean it’s the hardest thing, although it might be.  I mean it’s the thing I work at the most.  I have to- it’s constantly right in front of me, staring me in the face and asking for a cookie.

Just when I think things are running smoothly, something else comes up that we have to maneuver and find our way through.  And damn it if this child raising stuff didn’t come with a map of any kind.  Having one girl and one boy is it’s own set of problems.  What works on one definitely doesn’t work on the other and none of it makes any real sense whatsoever anyway.  Having a boy is physically exhausting, but having a girl is emotionally and mentally the most life-sucking task in the history of forever.  God made girls last because he knew it was going to take it out of him for a while.  That’s why.

So the little diva is eight.  Mostly, I don’t care for this age, but I think I get off pretty lucky because my kid is pretty awesome no matter what her age.  BUT, girls in general… not easy! (We covered that already.)  If it were just us in a bubble I think it’d be cake, but add in all the outside influences and crap and it’s just not.  Our most recent struggle and one that I fear will be a long-term pain in our collective butts: the mean girl.  How in the holy hell does The Mean Girl rear her ugly head this early on?  You just try dealing with pint size mean girls. It’s the worst!  And try raising a girl that can overcome the mean girl without actually becoming the mean girl.  GAH!

This started for Sis last year and even though we’re in a new school and it’s SO much better, there are still days.  Oh man are there days.  Yesterday we had one.  I can’t even say it was a Mean Girl episode because I don’t even know.  I do know that my girl ran from the bus and into my arms crying and wanting to crawl into her jacket and hide (her words.)  I know I still don’t know what all happened because she starts sobbing when she talks about it.  I know I almost didn’t get her to school this morning and then as soon as her spelling test was over she called and said her stomach is hurting so bad she’s going to throw up and I need to come now.  (She’s already on meds for acid reflux and basically an ulcer because she’s an internalizer like her mother.)  So I went and got her.  Who needs this crap?  We’re going to cozy up on the couch and watch girl shows and enjoy the fact that she’s a good kid.  Tomorrow we’ll talk again about being strong in the face of the mean girl.  Today I will do the mom version of taking a hurting friend out for drinks and a night of dancing to forget the crap.  That’s ice cream and making glittery crafts in front of a marathon of Victorious followed by reading “The Hunger Games” together.  Dude, I told you I’m Mother of the Year.  Don’t try to take my title.  The only reason I’m here right now is because she’s eating lunch and told me she wants some time alone before we start our date.

And in case you think I don’t give meaningful advice, last night I wrote her a long email about friendship and reminding her that she is a good person and so on and so on.  This is basically what we talk about every time this situation comes up.  I just decided to write it all out so she can refer back to it in her “Emails from Mom” (where I give all my best nuggets of motherly advice and she usually loves them.)  This time she responded back with “This email is to long, to long, to long, TO LONG.”  To which I responded, “we need to talk about the difference between to/too/and two again.”

If you have any great motherly advice for traversing the shark infested waters of raising little divas, I’d be ALL for it!  Okay, better run… she’s finished with lunch and ready for some ice cream.  (Yes, I realize it’s only 11:30 am. Shut up.)

 

 

i never claimed to be ‘average’

This morning my littlest bug had what’s apparently a run of the mill surgical procedure, removing the metal plate that was attached to the femur at the beginning of the summer.  You might remember me freaking out that the babe somehow broke his femur just days before we were scheduled to move.  It made for an interesting summer and moving process, but he took it like a champ and today was months ahead of when we were initially told the removal procedure would happen.

He went in like a champ and only got a little teary and nervous that last minute when they took him from pre-op to the OR and mommy wasn’t allowed to go.  We were then escorted to the waiting room where I’d spend the next couple of hours, and well… send myself into a panic attack and state of overall emotional wreckage as only I can.  I don’t know what’s wrong with me that I always dwell on the WCS (worst case scenario, for those of you not currently undergoing dozens of hours of therapy,) but I do.  I sat there thinking about how they were working so dangerously close to his femoral artery and it would be so easy to slip and ohmygod I don’t even want to think about it.  We were in the day surgery area which isn’t completely attached to the hospital.  Which got me thinking if an actual emergency did occur it would probably take too long to get to the actual hospital in order to actually save a person’s life.  So that was disconcerting.

I sat in a seat that enabled me to look back into the pre and post op areas, just feet from the OR.  I figured if there was something bad going on, I’d definitely be able to see the nurses and emergency type people scurrying around back there looking for crash carts and screaming “CODE BLUE, ROOM TWO, STAT!”  I wish I could tell you I casually peeked through the frosted window panes occasionally, but in all actuality, my eyes were glued to those windows all 127 minutes I sat in that room, just watching for someone to look a little concerned.  Every time the door to my area opened, I accosted the nurse with my jedi mind tricks to ensure they weren’t hiding anything from me.  I’m confident they all started to wonder if I was nuts.

Then, when the doctor came out to tell me all was well, I confirmed all of their suspicions that not only was that freaky ass mother in the waiting room possibly crazy, but someone should call Psych a freaking sap and get her admitted.  Because, you see, as the doc was talking so calmly and reassuringly about how well things went, I freaking burst into tears.

Now, I have had an interesting couple of days.  I have a lot of… emotions, if you will, running about just under the surface of sanity.  So, I’m not sure it was 100% nerves about the surgery that I was letting out.  But I released what some might consider a metric shit ton of emotion.  And made a complete ass of myself.  Everyone was quite reassuring, telling me it was nice to see a mother that cared so much about their child and blah de blah blah.  But I saw them running around the post-op, making sure all the sharp objects were properly stored.   Jimmie could barely contain his laughter as he watched me.  Oh sure, he was hugging me and telling me what a great mom I am, but I saw that twinkly glint in his eye that tells me he’s mentally going over the checklist of padded room necessities.  I know inside he was trying not to laugh and what a loon toon we all know I am.

Then we went back to post-op.  And the PA was telling us all the particulars of recovery.  And at the end, I winked at him.  I don’t know why.  It just happened.  My left eye closed in a definite winkish sort of way.  And I wanted to crawl under the bed.  But when he came back, he winked at me!  So I think we have a date now.

And Jordan is fine.  Watching Batman cartoons and sipping on a vanilla milkshake.  Enjoying the benefits of Vicodin.  Wonder if he would consider sharing.