This Week in Gratitude

The first time I saw my kids' father, he was sitting in the solarium at a Bennigan's in suburban Denver, where I worked and he was about to. I will never forget that moment - the clothes he was wearing, the jewelry around his neck, the angle at which he leaned in his seat, and the way my ovaries lept out of my abdomen and tried to drag him back inside with them. It wasn't attraction, it wasn't nerves, it was my 20 year old body saying MAKE BABIES WITH THAT NOW. 

It took him a really long time to acknowelge my existence, and a longer time to tolerate my presence, but something deep inside of me, something I was wha-hay too young to understand at the time, knew from the first moment I saw him that I was going to have a lot of children with him one day.  

Seventeen years worth of moments later, he and I are teetering somewhere between not acknowleging each others' existence and barely tolerating one another's presence again, but what we have that we didn't have then is three perfectly amazing children between us, and while maybe I don't actually like him anymore, and he doesn't actually like me anymore, I really am glad that my ovaries got what they asked for, and we - he and I - made these extraordinar(il)y (ridiculous) people together.

I watch him with our children in his new-found sobriety and as much as I wish they'd had more of this, more of him, when they were younger, I am so happy they get him now. I am so glad he didn't manage to drink himself to death, I am so glad that they get to know the father I chose for them to have, the man underneath those demons he had to battle his way out from under, and maybe still is. 

I am grateful for the way he loves his children, for the silly things they share even though I am no longer a part of them. I am grateful that he is working so hard to be present for them, to be an emotional support for them, to be a healthy and productive man so that they will have a father in their lives for as long as a normal child should, until he grows to a ripe old age surrounded by grandchildren and/or grandpuppies, depending on who's future plans you're working off of. 

Almost every alanon person I've ever met had also at some point wished their qualifier dead, and I am so grateful that those late-night wishes made over my tears and his gugrling, gasping, nearly-asphyxiating body were not granted. I am so glad that that I was so very wrong about so very many things, and my children, his children, our children get to know that their father is wonderful, good, and so very madly in love with them. I am so glad that they will come to think of his stuggles with alcoholism as an inconvenient bump in the road of their lives, because they will love him, and be loved in return by him, on the other side of this journey. 

I see glimpses of him in their faces all the time - mostly when they are annoyed as all hell with me, but also when they are completely captivated by some new thing they are learning, and when they read or hear something so funny they laugh until it hurts. I hear him coming out of their mouths, in bursts of intellectual snobbery and cuttingly-sharp sarcasm. They are as smart as he is, as hilarous as he is, and at least one of them is as tall as he his, plus a hellofalot.  

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The easy thing, in the throes of this divorce stuff, is just to hate him. Mostly what I hate is what I let myself become with him, and that oh right, a lot of that was your bad pill is an awful one to swallow. I don't know that I would bother to swallow it, were it not for these kids. Hating him is easy. Remembering the shit is simple. I'm a professional people hater, born without a forgiveness gene. Our kids, however, force me to be gentle and kind when I am talking about him, and that forces me to remember the good while I tally up the bad.

I'm not saying I have this all right - I was nothing shy of a flamming bag of shit to him today when we switched kids for his visit, and I probably will be about the same to his face into the indefinite future. And in a lot of ways, it's desevered. But when I look at these three children whom I love more than any one single thing on this earth, and I see him bursting out of their hair and their eyes and their fingernails and their voices, I remember that once upon a time, I loved him that much, too. And in a lot of ways, it was desereved. I am reminded of everything lovely and captivating and and endearing about him, and I am grateful that it was him, they they are of him, and that my children get to have him as their father. 

This Week In Gratitude

Only a minute ago she was walking into her first day of first grade, and now this.

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She came home from her last day of school today and I squeeled OOOOH! A SECOND GRADER IN MY HOUSE! and she rolled her eyes at me in that way children do when they are faking annoyance at your utter uncoolness because they can't let you know how much it means to them that you're still so into them that you can't help but squee all over them.

Pro tip: I dont actually think that particular eyeroll ever goes away, so long as you keep unreasonably and insufferably loving the goddamn shit out of them.

Anyway, once she was done NOT SMILING AT YOU MOM and rolling her eyes, she came up to me, climbed in my lap, and once she was all snuggled in tight she asked, "Mom, what did you learn in 2nd grade?"

I thought. I really thought. I can still remember what that room looked like, the way the hazy east coast sunlight shone through the aluminum blinds and on to the wood grain desktops. I can still smell every smell in that room; dust, humidity, sweat, cocoa butter, rubber cement and chalk. I *cannot* remember any one thing that I learned inside of that classroom, however, save one thing: Adults can be very, very cruel to children.

It's weird that it took my grade two teacher to open my eyes to this. I lived with two of the cruelest, most sadistic adult human beings I will ever encounter in my life, but that is what is amazing about children - their infinite ability to love unconditionally and forgive repeatedly, and also to buy into your shit about "religion" and "discipline".

But my grade two teacher was not my mother. She was not anyone's mother, so far as I knew. She was the teacher-stereotype they make movies about, Ms Agatha Trunchbull in the flesh. She was a small woman, and grey all over - from her hair to her heart.

She particularly hated children in my cult sect of Judean-Christianity, as if we had some choice in the matter. I can't remember her name, and I don't remember the sound of her voice, but I remember the way her dingy blouse hung away from her flabby arms as she, every morning, would pull my friend's uncombed, unwashed red air up into tight ponytail with rubbber bands, and the way it hung stained with sweat every afternoon when she would rip those rubber bands out of her hair, not caring how much gorgeous read strands of hair she took with them.

I think that she hated poor people, that she was digusted by dirty children, that she dreamed of teaching at the school down the road from us full of middle-class white children whos parents packed them sack lunches and made sure their hair was combed and clothes were cleaned every day, not just on the first day.

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We were not middle-class white children. We were children that they all wrote off, the ones they tucked away inside a high-security Section 8 neighborhood and left to play in dumpsters or the woods or the basketball court until we all got good and hooked on our parents drugs or vodka or hopelessness and rendered ourselves obsolete.

Almost no one cared about us, but few dared to show it the way my 2nd grade teacher did. She actively despised us, even the few of us that showed the promise of some potential. We were lost children, lost causes, social waste - and she made damn sure we knew it.  

I read somewhere that a child's perception of themselves is defined by the time they reach ages seven or eight. That gives us a very narrow window of time to instill a healthy perception of self. I can't remember if grade two was the year that I learned cursive, or the year I started to multiple large numbers, but I do remember that grade two was the year I realized someone thought I was worthless.

And I'm glad for it. 

I'm glad for it because it reminds me every day to tell *my* second grader how much I value her, respect her, adore her, love her. It reminds me to be kind to every second grader, every third grader, every eighth grader I come in contact with, because maybe they just need one person to counter some really horrible message someone else is trying with all their might to instill in them.

In second grade I learned that adults can be very cruel, and I am grateful for that, and for her, because in so many ways she taught me exactly would grow up not to be. 

This Week in Gratitude

After barely-squeaking through a week of being too sick to do much more than work and sleep - and neither of those things to any real degree of effectiveness - i have never been more grateful than I am right now for Platex Purple Plastic Dish Gloves

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I try to keep the a/c off as much as possible when the kids aren't home, because (like pimpin') a/c ain't easy. When my March electric bill, with no ramp up or warning or anything, leaps straight for the clitoris and exactly doubles itself, I find myself willing to endure a little more in-home sauna experience than usual. Which you'd know is really saying something, if you've ever smelled me in the summer.

Sex Education aside, because you totally forgot about this, didn't you? You're welcome:

My kids have pretty much been left to their own devices this week, because my skin, something inside and under both my right rib cage and right hip bone, and all the glands from my belly button up declared mutiny this week, and so there has been a lot of breakfast-cereal-with-a-side-of-Xbox for dinner which is great in an air-conditioned college dormroom, but isn't so idea inside the tandoor ovens they try to pass off as Real Estate in the Sun Valley. 

Lucky-Charms-milk left out on the counter for just two or three hours in the desert heat turns was the inspriration for The Leprechaun. Fact*. You should probably just take my word for that.

And so now it's Mother's Day, I'm off the Lance Armstrong dose of predanose, and I have a week of dishes to catch up on. Because nothing says Happy Mother's Day like opening up your dishwasher and finding all your good mugs stained damn near black from tea, and probably your mother in law's soul. 

You see, my mother in law, who I've managed to say pretty close to not a single word to since her son and I broke up once and for all, came to spend some quality grandma time with 3of3 while the boys and I hit the road for Mom 2.013. Which was very nice of her. I kind of thought the giant super fancy dishrack on the counter, the purple dish gloves hanging over the faucet, and the utter lack of dishwasher detergent in the cabinet would have been clue enough that we don't really use the dishwasher in this house, and if you leave all of your dishes in there, I'm going to find them a week later having just come off of Autoimmunopocalypse and you are going to cease being my best friend. 

It wasn't.

Maybe I should stop talking to her in smoke signals and hints and grow the fuck up.

Nah.

And so I'll be spending most of Mother's Day wearing a scrunchie and Playtex Plastic Purple Dish Gloves, scorching the last week's yuck off of our dishes, then our floors, then the laundry, and bleaching my ex-mother in law out of my Starbucks Architectural Mug collection while my not-so-little one spend the day with their father going to see Iron Man and swimming and yard-saling and doing whatever it is they do on his days with them that don't have anything to do with me anymore - so that when they get home tonight, we can just be. Together. With no distractions. Because the only Mother's Day present I need or want is to be theirs**. 

*ish.

**That, and I have the a/c set to 76 today. And I have the whole house to myself. #rebel