Distance Makes the Heart

My kids left yesterday to spend half of their spring break with their dad. There is nothing in the world more bittersweet than having the house stay exactly as spotless as the housekeeper left it 24 full hours ago.*

There are traces of them everywhere: the humming of the Wii left running, the smell of teen spirit wafting from my oldest's bedroom, the T-Rex frozen in time on the Whiteboard of Glorious Correction and Societal Alignment for the Advancement of the Revolution, whom I've named Fupa. Because shut up. 

Fupa the Mighty TRex.jpg

The fact that I can't figure out what to do with myself when they're gone tells me that it's important they go. The fact that I have spent 12 straight hours in this same spot on my couch hyper-focused on work in the first day they're gone tells me that I need them to go. 

Minutes take hours and hours pass in the blink of an eye. I check my phone and my watch and my phone again for text and right at the moment I stop waiting for them the phone finally rings, and they are short-spoken and distracted on the other end of the line, somewhere on the road between this life with me and that one with their father. I am relived. They are perfectly happy. They don't need me the way I need them. They are going to be just fine.

I have to get through six more days of this quiet, but I only have six days left of this quiet. I try to remember to save each extra fragment of time these elongated minutes give me, because it will be an even longer time before I hear this silence again. I close my eyes and try to conjure the things I like to do when I have any option in front of me. The smell of bath salts, the way the hair behind my ears clings to the cold of nighttime air, the taste of a cocktail at the audaciously early hour of 8pm.  

I break the silence, turn the TV on, and catch up on all the shows the show I like. I work and work and work and work and work and am grateful for the luxury of time to see something, anything from the beginning to the end, without once having to make the impossible choice between my children and anything else.

I pass each of their rooms and whisper goodnight to them, just like I do every night and I imagine I will continue to do so long as I am able. I crawl into my bed and drown myself in the tiny sounds I can almost never hear - the creak of the house, the chirp of the crickets, the buzz of the streetlamps. I cherish this fleeting eternity without them, and in their absence I am reminded that my choice to be some small part of their lives has always, and will always, supersede my obligation. 

(And no, I cannot believe I have a housekeeper, even one who only comes every two weeks. I have a ton to say about it that I just may, someday, but if you want to read a really thought-provoking post on the subject, click here.)

If You're Going to Be the Worst Parent Ever, Make Sure You Have a the Best Co-parent Ever

The Tooth Fairy didn't make it to our house last night. This is a huge problem.

In the decade that she and I have had to work together to manage the extraction of baby teeth from out of little faces and under little pillows, she's not been able to complete her end of the deal a only a handful of times. There are numerous reasons why the tooth fairy has missed picking up a tooth - usually, it's simply that the tooth was dirty. Everyone knows the tooth fairy doesn't take dirty teeth. This is why you have to brush twice a day every single day, because you never know when one's going to fall out. Once she had the stomach flu (no one is immune from that BS),  and once or twice she's embarrassed to admit she's been a little drunk. What? Tooth fairies have parties, too. Who's going to be the DD for the freaking tooth fairy? You want her to drink and fly? Didn't think so. She very responsibly stayed home, feels terrible about the entire thing today, and won't be making that mistake again for a very long time.

But last night, conditions were perfect. It was Thursday night, a work night and hardly a night for revelry. We waited until every single one of us was home from work and school to go out back and call the tooth fairy, making a wish on the brightest, firstest star we saw that night - and we all made really good, sincere wishes out loud that she'd come and take 3of3's tooth. The tooth itself was carefully tucked under the perfect spot on the pillow - not so deep that she wouldn't be able to reach it, not so close to the edge that it might fall out onto the floor if 3of3 had a restless night's sleep.

We did everything exactly right, and still the tooth fairy didn't come. Needless to say, 3of3 was devastated. 

When she handed her tooth to me in the kitchen this morning, I looked closely at it. "It was probably dirty, honey. You know she doe...." "No mom, I brushed it extra last night before i went to be to be sure it was super clean." 

Oh shit. 

"Well maybe she...maybe we...um..."

"She just didn't COME, mom. She just FORGOT about me."

My 15 year old walked in, and I asked him, "Hey, why did the tooth fairy miss you when you were little?" He grumbled something very tired and 15 back at me. I tried to find a silver lining. "But didn't she always leave you extra when she missed a night?" He glared at me and said, "I don't remember. I just remember her not coming."

Ouch. 

I went over to 3of3, offered her a baggie for her tooth, and gave her a hug. Jim came into the kitchen and asked what was up. We told her the tooth fairy hadn't come, and 3of3 was just so sad about it, and he said, "Well of course she didn't come. Didn't you read the news?"

3of3 looked up. So did I. So did the 15 year old trying to not be a part of any of this. 

"Polar vortex," he said, while he brewed his coffee. "Reuters had a whole article about it. Public service crews are all jammed up, up and down the eastern seaboard. The tooth fairy was grounded, like my plane was the other day coming home from my trip to New York. She didn't get to a single kid last night."

"OOOOOH," 3of3 said. 

"I'll print the article out for you today while you're at school," he said back to her. 

She smiled, and went back to eating her oatmeal. I offered to put her tooth back under her pillow, in case the tooth fairy spent some school hours catching up on pickups, but she said she didn't think that was very likely. 

She went off to school, and I went upstairs and got to work. I was on a conference call when Jim left for work, but I found the news article on my desk for her, printed out just like he promised. Apparently, she's so backed up FedEx has stepped in to help her out, and they're expecting possible delays of up to two days. 

Thank goodness someone in this house knows how to read the news in the morning. Also, Photoshop. 

42 Ways to Write a 309-Word Freudian Slip

Every day in my social media streams I see a handful of 15 reasons to ____ or 7 way to ____ and it is driving me crazy because I'm in marketing, I see what you're doing there, but also because I have been doing this for nine years which means I am an overbearing preachy know it all who had to code her own sidebar content boxes that weren't even called widgets yet uphill both ways in blogspot and do you even know what FTP is? Get off my CSS. 

But thankfully, my dear friend Denise Tanton reminded me - with her signature graceful eloquence - that there are multitudes of opinions about how we write blog posts, which work together to create a vast and diverse blogosphere, and each viewpoint is as valuable and important as the others.  

And she even went so far as to demonstrate her point for me. Read it here.  And that got me thinking about all the great (read: not pseudo-marketing formulaic SEO click bait pointlessly numbered) list-posts I've read over the years, and the few I'd even written myself (there are a few here, here, and here) before I decided no one should write them anymore, and that somehow turned into a group of us co-chairing The Sigmund and Freud Cross-Dressing Six Flags Sexy Sexy Safari Tours, or something like that. 

I'm not entirely sure.

The internet moves fast.

Keeping up is hard. 

Awesomely enough, this random post I was writing so I could keep avoiding the giant herd of elephants in this here room on the internet has somehow brought me around to that giant herd of elephants in this here room of the internet, comprised of everything I haven't found a way to publish yet, for one reason or another.

The human psyche is a dick.

Bygones. I needed a segue into the rest of my life, because really, two months of dodging elephants is exhausting. Also, not as good for the glutes as you'd guess. 

And so partly to let Denise know that I heard her, and hopefully avoid getting thrown into the lesbian tiger pit (though if it's the lesbian cougar pit, SIGN MY SHIT UP) and more-partly because I now have more posts in draft than I do published, I thought I would write a list post of my own, wherein I gloss over a whole lot of pretty important information* that really should go into a series of long, deep, meaningful posts, or, you know, MY BOOK, but you know. 

Things ain't nobody got time for:

  1. That.

HOLY DIGRESSION. I think it's time to just list out everything I'm not writing, and then maybe start publishing all the posts I have in draft line item number by line item number.

Color by numbers blogging. And I bitch about the list-makers. 

So. 

  1. I moved.
  2. To Northern California.
  3. And to Busy Dad.
  4. Over the first week of July, which was in-between BlogHer Food and BlogHer 13. Which is the perfect time to move. 
  5. If you hate yourself.  
  6. But I hate Arizona, and love Busy Dad, more.  So I moved.  
  7. And here is where I have to give my kids' father massive props for letting us go, because really, he totally could have said no and then we would have been stuck in that god-awful place for like ever and really, i would rather not-quite-die but you know what I mean than stay there one more day.  
  8. Of course, he has been nothing short of a  
  9. Chump ass
  10. Crying in his beer
  11. Breast-feeding
  12. Motherfucker
  13. To me ever since we moved, but he let me move. There am I happy. 
  14. And I know he's reading this, which is a lot of why I can't write anything anymore, because try having your ex of 20 years read your diary as you write it, but I found and read some of his journals, too, so quid pro quo, bitches. 
  15. And of course my daughter started having massive panic attacks the day before I left for BlogHer '13. 
  16. And her fish died the morning I left. 
  17. Because GAH. 
  18. But my teenage son stopped talking about killing himself. 
  19. No, I am not telling you which one. That's his business. 
  20. But you should watch this video from VOTY or read the post here on Adrienne Jones' blog No Points for Style, because we have to be talking more about our kids' mental health as a community and I for one have no idea how or where to start, so I am eternally grateful that she started for us.  
  21. Also, I got to spend, like, quality time with
  22. Queen
  23. Motherfucking
  24. Latifah
  25. at VOTY.
  26. There isn't one single picture of us together. 
  27. But man does she say Mistah Laydee just riiiiiight. 
  28. And now BlogHer is over and I am at the doctor kind of a lot with my daughter, who seemed to turn a really large corner a few weeks ago and is even putting herself to sleep at night again. 
  29. Baby steps on the bus.  
  30. And then I learned exactly how fun it feels to have your child tell you he hates you
  31. And mean it
  32. And have reasoning and facts backing up why
  33. And not being able to do a thing about it, because being the sober parent means you get to take the punches and keep wobbling back up and being the consistent, even, rational, not-emotionally-outbursty one and just hope he remembers it on the other side.  
  34. Which I think/hope he will, because holy SHIT do I love him
  35. Even if I never even wrote a post for him on his 15th birthday which was 4 1/2 months ago
  36. Best. Blogger. Ever.  
  37. But I'm getting much better at Facebook
  38. Which really isn't something I ever wanted to brag about, but here I am, checking Facebook alone in the dark and getting busted by my step-son who makes really funny faces at you when you get busted checking Facebook alone in the dark
  39. But not as funny as this face 
  40. Nothing is as funny as that face
  41. Except maybe watching BusyDad load up a grocery belt
  42. But that is a story for another day. 

And hopefully now I can start writing it. 

 

*For me. It's possible that maybe it isn't as important for you. 

R is for Reason. Let's Show We Have Some.

He's why. His brothers and sister are why. My little sister is why. Every kid and every family of every kid who has to live with the reality of how hard physically, socially, and emotionally being actually, really physically or mentally delayed/retarded is, they're the reason we have to think about the language we use, and teach our children to do the same. 

That little boy up there sat up and looked out a window all by himself yesterday. That is the single biggest accomplishment of his life so far, besides you know, survivingThat's why not tossing retarded around like it's some flippant joke matters. We may have freedom of speech, but we also are able to, you know, sit up whenever we want. Power/Responsibility.

It isn't enough to just not say that word anymore. You wanna end war n' stuff, you gotta sing loud. The symptoms of the disease range from flippantness and callousness to  racism and bigotry, but the disease itself is fear and ignorance, and it is super contagious. You can actually carry it and pass it to people and and not even know you're doing it. If we want to eradicate this word and the disease that it is leached onto, we have to make sure our childrens' comfort zones and social circles expand well beyond that which they see in a mirror. We have to make sure that they know other children, ones who aren't abled as they are, ones who aren't colored as they are, ones who don't dress or eat or pray or talk as they do. 

You make it personal for your kid, and he will defend it to the death. Kids are way cool like that. You once explain to a kid where the N word came from and he will forever take head-smashing on school buses by thugs who say it, because he will stand up and shame the hell out of said thug. You introduce your kids to their fake Canadian cousin Jumby and they will forever stand up and stop anyone who they hear say the r-word like it's a joke, and not a war their family member fights and wins every day.

My kids are healthy, mentally and physically  and I know exactly how lucky I am for absolutely no reason at all to be able to say that, so it's my duty to make sure that my children, my family, each of us show respect and love with our words, thoughts, and actions. Not saying one totally insignificant word is a teensy price to pay for that cause. And if we can't think of a better one, one that doesn't make a mockery the heroic, brave, beautiful lives of children like my fake Canadian nephew, or my little sister? Well then, there's only one thing left for you to do.

 Poster by  Alison Rowan  - $12.00

Poster by Alison Rowan - $12.00

Spread the word to end the word. Pledge your support here.