It Was The Best of Decades; It Was The Worst of Decades

The decade ends tomorrow. I've seen the 70's, 80's, 90's, 00's all roll out. Christ, I feel old.

The 70's taught me to hate tie-dye and to love Joni Mitchell. The 80's taught me that you can't trust anyone, not even your own flesh and blood, especially not men who wield Aquanet. The 90's taught me that I can hold down whiskey, but not vodka. The 00's taught me that I was wrong about everything I'd learned up to that point.

I learned to love with everything I have this decade. I learned that I do know what I want to do with my life, and that I'm capable of it. I learned to forgive, I learned to accept blame, I learned to accept help. I learned who I am at the peak of my game and at my lowest point.

The best thing about this decade was that I lost my husband, my marriage, and most of my mind....and I got it all back, plus. If you were there for that, thank you. Thank you to each and every one of you that held me hand through it. You know who you are.

The best thing that happened to my husband this year is that his job got yanked out from underneath him, and then re-offered to him. In another country. You know when you first take on a project and you do the very best that you can with it, but the next time you have to try that same thing again, you realize that you're a bazillion times better at it the second time around than you were in the beginning? That's his career right now. His last gig, in Canada? Was fine. He was good at it. This one? He shines. He smiles when he comes home from work. He knows he's doing something right; he's not doubting himself all the time, he's confident and kicking some ass. It's pretty fucking hot, I'll admit.

The best thing that has happened this year to my oldest son was going to junior high. He gets up every morning and brushes his hair. He puts on cologne and arranges his hat just so. He tells me he thinks he looks like Chris (his godfather) when he wears his hat a certain way. He washes his face and uses astringent. He generally gives a rats ass.

The thing with this kid is that he's very cocky. He's very confident. He very much so does not give a flying fuck what you think. (I wish I was more like him.) But getting on that school bus full of strangers and getting asked out by some girl on his very first day in the biggest school he's ever seen in his life has changed him somehow. He's becoming a young man, and it's beautiful to watch.

The best thing that's happened in relation to my youngest son is that he finally hates math. See, he's the kid that will tell you that your dinner is FANTASTIC and SO GOOD and he CAN"T WAIT FOR MORE and all of that means that he will not eat one stinking bite of it, but you won't realize that because he's so busy LOVING it that you can't see him hate it with all his might. He's brilliantly manipulative that way. And when he comes home, day after day, singing the praises of math class because it's HIS FAVORITE and he's SO GOOD at it and he CAN"T WAIT FOR MORE math class, I know he's struggling. And a few weeks ago, when I asked him to practice math facts with me and he ughed at me, I asked him why he was being so crabby. He said, "Because, mawwwm, I HATE math."

And now that he is willing to let down his guard and not try to charm his way out of this, now that he can admit it, we can finally make some progress.

The best thing that's happened with the girl is that she's totally sick and she slept with her daddy last night.

She loves her daddy. She loves him a lot, but he's pretty busy most days scrambling to provide Every. Single. Thing. from Q-tips to cars for 5 people, and that takes up about 27 hours of each of his days. She doesn't see him a whole lot; none of us do. Naturally, when she's sick, it's all momma. But about two months ago, daddy lost his job and we got shipped across a country for the new one and he had just about a month during that transition time with us, at home, every single day. She remembered who her daddy is. And last night, burning with fever and restless from exhaustion, she wouldn't be anywhere but in his arms as she slept.

My family; we've made some progress.

As for me? Well, it's been a year. I'm glad it's over. We laughed, we cried, we hurled. I suppose I should figure out what the best thing that happened to me in 2009 was, huh? I don't know if I could pick just one.

  • Best internet tool in 2009: MySpace. Why? Because of MySpace, I found my long-lost brothers, that's why. Truth is, I found them in 2007, but we really found the connection again in 2009. When the last time you saw someone, you were changing their diapers/getting your diaper changed by them, it's hard to just pick up where you left of, 25 years previous. We did, finally. And it is good.

  • Best overplayed inside joke that no one gets and certainly no one thinks is funny anymore, but we do: Hey! Did you know that me and Greeblemonkey used to be neighbors?

  • Best neighbor to have find you online, if you happen to be so cursed lucky as to have your next door neighbor find you online, twice, even though you're totally anonymous: Luke In Van.

  • Best cooking blog to find that just so happens to be written by a guy who was in your wedding: Christopher Cina {dot} com Especially if you haven't really seen him since.

  • Best blogger to find out you're sleeping with half-way through a conference that all of your peers are attending, by way of whispers and hush-hushed conversation: Busy Dad. Because even though you're devastated for, like, an entire 10 minutes, not just because a rumour like that discredits one of your most valuable friendships, but it also discredits everything you've done in the past two years to save your marriage, and no one warned you so you didn't even shave your legs that weekend, after those 10 minutes are up you get to take a really quick inventory of your life and decide what actually matters, and that's when you realize that your friendship does. As so you take your husband's advice, which was, "Fuck. Them." and you proceed as usual. And you win. And your fake internet mommy persona gets to fake internet sleep with the one of the hottest fake internet dad persona out there. Coattails, Jim...coattails. I ride them.

  • Best blogger to actually sleep with every night of a conference that all of your esteemed peers are attending, and most of them are sharing a room with you: Tanis. Especially when she mistakes you for her Boo and burrows her fluffy blond head under your chin and drools all over your nightshirt. Because nothing says, "I love and value you" like, "I find your chin-stubble to be convincingly rugged enough to allow me to mistake you for a 30 something Canadian lumberjack." Also? I've never slept so well in my damn life. That's how you know it's true love.

  • Best hour and a half I spent this year: Speaking at that conference about health and those of us whom, occasionally or not, blog about it.  Never, NEVER in my life have I been more moved by the power of what we as bloggers can do. Never have I been so touched by so many amazing women and their stories. Listening to her speak and watching her be truly brave and just being able to participate in something that, well, was an honor. Well worth the nightmare that getting the paperwork to leave Canada was.

  • Best thing I did to totally fuck up my chances of ever doing anything cool for my kids ever again: Letting them hang out at EA for a weekend and then with Tony Hawk for another one. It's going to be really ugly when they realize it's all downhill from here on out.

  • Best blog I'll ever have the honor of being associated with, even in some minuscule sort of way: Violence Unsilenced. THIS is the reason blogging matters. This is where there is change being effected and a difference is being made.

  • Best list I'm ever going to appear on, because at some point, someone is going to catch on to their mistake and I'll fade back into obscurity and go on being Greeblemonkey's Pony-Boy, which is all I ever really wanted anyway: The Babble Top 50 Mommy Bloggers. Partly because now I can say that five fucking years of doing this shit and someone finally noticed, but mostly because I've struggled so much with being labeled a Mommy Blogger. I don't think of myself as one, but you know what? I AM ONE. And I think I'm finally ok with it.

  • Best post that will keep me from shutting this blog down, no matter how many times I want to every single day: On All You Need, by ZoeyJane.

  • Best thing I was ever kind of trapped into doing, even though I knew I had to do it eventually: Tell my mother in law my blog url. I mean, I walked out of my bedroom and she said, "Good morning! So, what's your blog url?" I kind of had to give it up then, right? And you know what? I'M GLAD. I'm glad it's out. I'm glad that it's all on the table now, that I don't have some big secret hanging over my head anymore. Because seriously, do you have any idea how hard it is to keep something you do daily a secret from 95% of your family for five years? And now that she knows (everyone say Hi, Sarah!) the rest of the family is going to know and that will be the last of my super-secret-stealthy online identity. I will be public to those whom it matters most, my family. And I don't think anything will change. At least I hope it doesn't. You'll tell me if it does, right?

Here's to a new decade, a new adventure, a new me and a new you and a new us.

Mr Lady, out.

Christmas: In Like A Lion, Out Like A {Bleep}

I do my grocery shopping for Christmas dinner on Christmas Eve, and I have every year. Because I'm an idiot who cannot learn a lesson, but also because it's the closest I ever come to getting in a little whips-and-chains style sadomasochism. Next Christmas, I'm resolving to shop early and ask Santa to give me Kristen's book. Give it to me good, big boy....

Did I just say that out loud?

This year, her book isn't out and my mother in law is here, so I had to settle for searching for a roll of frozen bread dough at 7pm on Christmas Eve. Which? Mission Impossible. So impossible, in fact, that this post may self destruct after you read it.

I took my daughter with me because she was driving everyone fucking nuts super duper excited that Santa was coming. She was so excited, in fact, that she decided to get to sleep early.
Asleep behind the wheel.
Except that I still had an entire shopping list to go and a veritable throng of people to beat my way through. And you know those bastards bought all the salmon before I could get back to the seafood counter.

So off to another store we went. And she stayed asleep. We found salmon, but not bread dough, and she still slept, this time in the seat of the buggy using my boobs as pillows.

We got home three hours after she fell asleep. I handed her to her father and we waited for her to wake up. She didn't.
Full Of Christmas Spirit
She slept through football, through getting passed to Gramma, getting changed into her jammies, through us giving up and making Santa's cookies and the reindeer's food without her.
Taste Testing the Reindeer Food Is Not For the Feint of Heart.
She slept through all the last minute moving around and wrapping and digging out Christmas gifts and general asshole loudness Santa and his reindeer coming to our house. And at 3am, when the butter was made for the turkey and the wild rice stuffing was cooked and wrapped up, when I staggered off to bed bleary-eyed and drunk with exhaustion, I just knew that Little Miss I Fell Asleep At 6:30 on Christmas Eve would be waking up right about when I was laying down.

I was wrong. Her brothers woke up instead. At 3 in the morning, right when I'd pulled up my covers and closed my eyes, they came downstairs, turned all the lights on and did I don't fucking know what until 6am when they came in to wake me up.

I did what any good mother trying to preserve the last little remnants of Christmas spirit in her children would do. I told them, "Fuck you, no" and went back to sleep until 8, when those sneaky little bastards woke up Sleeping Beauty and made Christmas begin.

And it was totally worth it.

I Also Believe in the Lock Ness Monster, and That The Government Killed JFK. Sue Me.

See me on kirtsy! title=
{Thanks to Goon Squad Sarah for sharing this post on Kirtsy}

Mom, do you believe in Santa Claus?

I get this question more than I get any other one. June 8th, they'll be asking me. I think it's because they want to believe what I believe, whether or not they know it can't be true. They want to believe in me, so they believe in Santa.

I tell them yes every time they ask. When they ask if I ever doubted, I tell them no, but that Santa didn't come to my house when I was a kid, so I never really believed or didn't. I tell them that when 1of3 was a tiny baby and I saw the magic of Christmas, the true meaning of it, for the very first time, I had to believe.

That is true. And I do believe in Santa. I believe that you are Santa and I am Santa and that guy in the grocery store who bumps into you and doesn't even apologize? He's Santa, too. We parents, we are magic personified. Everything we do is of fairy dust and pixie wishes in the eyes of our children, if we let it be. We are legends, we are gods, we are giants. We are myth and legends. We are earth and sky to these children who just want to believe in us.

We Santas aren't just the fat guy in the red suit how drops gifts off...we are the symbol of hope and of faith to our children. We are what teaches them that their actions matter, even when no one is looking. We are what allows them to realize that, even though they maybe totally fucked up, there is always the chance for redemption, that no one actually ever leaves coal, that there is always forgiveness and love waiting for you, dry and toasty over the fire.

I believe in Santa Claus, yes I do. I believe in me, I believe in you, I believe in all of us. My son believes that the beams of light that cut through the clouds after a storm and slice the sky in yellow shards are the fingers of god, and he believes that his mother has faith in something purely good and loving and generous and beautiful, and so he knows that he can believe in those things, too.

And that is the greatest gift Santa could ever give a child. Or his jaded old broken grown up mom.

Little White Maybes

I've found that, as a parent, there are days when it becomes very important to be able to plainly, sincerely and most of all honestly lie my ass off to my kids.

Today was one of those days.

It wasn't so much that Christmas is four days away, and it wasn't so much that my grandfather died before I was born and I never knew him, just like my kids' grandfather did. It wasn't just that my other grandfather had some twisted, weird relationship with my father, and didn't really have all that much of an interest in us, his grandchildren, and he died with that being the only thing I ever really knew about him. It isn't exactly that my father and I have that same, weird relationship, or that he hasn't seen or spoken to me or my kids in four years and three weeks. It isn't even that he's had, I'm pretty sure, four open heart surgeries in a decade, and I don't know how many times the human heart will let you look at it before it melts your face off all Raiders-style.

What it is, I think, is that I have this thing for birthdays.

I didn't care that I never had Christmas. I rather enjoyed laying under our car, waiting for the kids in the neighborhood to come egg our house because we didn't give out trick-or-tricks, and grabbed their ankles right before they could toss their eggs at our windows, which scared the holy fuck out of them and made the whole lack of candy thing totally worth it for us. I always cared about the birthday thing, though. I always wanted to celebrate everyone's birthday. It seemed like something that should be a big deal, something note-worthy at the very least. When I stopped being Insane Fundamentalist Judeo-Christian Girl, which is so totally a superpower, birthdays were my first indulgence in pure, unadulterated sin.

Turns out, there were funner sins to be had, most of them adulterated, but I still enjoy a nice birthday. And today was my father's 60th.

Thirty years from now, when he's long gone and I am the 60 year old, when I have grandchildren of my own and am staring down the business end of a life-span, what is ultimately going to matter to me? That I was right? That I made my point? More importantly, what is going to matter to my kids? What story will they carry with them of their grandfather, who is, in his own right, just maybe not so much as a parent but still, an amazing slice of human being? Will they tell their children that their mom's dad just wasn't that into her after all, and that he died before they could know him?

Do I want to pass on these cycles in my family, in my babies, or not?

These are things easier said than done. I preach about breaking cycles of abuse, of perpetuated victimization, but here I sit creating the exact same story that shades my past. I can say I'm "protecting" my kids from some mythical man who lives 3,000 miles away and never saw them much anyway, and I can create the memory of him that fits that, or I can realize that either way, it's a created memory. Either way, your grandparents are not the people they are in real life. Grandparents are superheros. They wear big, red capes with G on them and they fly into your life and heal wounds with tea and beat off monsters with books and build bridges to your past out of the ether.

So today, I knelt down in my kitchen and I lied to my kids.

I told them that my issues with my father have nothing to do with them, that we're both stubborn and old and dumb and that's why he hasn't called in four years, but that he's 60 and there really couldn't be any better gift to give their grandfather than them. That is was the right thing to do. That they didn't need to stick up for me, because I'm just being an asshole anyway and this is all going to work itself out soon. And then I dialed his number and handed them the phone.

And then I smoked a pack of cigarettes outside while they talked to him inside.

The boys talked to him for almost an hour. They talked to him about what hot copy of what movie he's got his hands on this week, about girls at school and the weather, about video games and new bands, and as I listened from the other room, I was 12 years old, sitting on my living room floor, talking to that same man from 3,000 different miles away about those exact same things all over again. He hung up without asking to talk to me, which stung, but he hung up with two very happy grandsons who smiled the entire night and planned what they were going to text him tomorrow, and bragged about his band, and giggled over his jokes, just like I remember doing some lifetime ago.

Today, I gave my father the greatest gift I could ever give anyone, the most precious thing to me in the whole world, for his 60th birthday present. Today, I gave my children permission to create their own stories and their own memories of their grandfather. Today, I gave our family a maybe. We'll see where it goes.

The Nothing

My mother in law is staying with me for the next three weeks, and you all know what THAT means.


Not one fat fucking thing, that's what it means. Well, except that I'm lonely.

See, my mother in law and I have never had the best of relationships. We've gone from 'Maybe you're gonna be the one to save me' to 'Mortal Kombat' to 'Half a world away' and yes, I realize that those three things aren't the same, and therefore make for a pretty weak analogy, but I also don't thing Analogy is what I'm going for here but I went to high school and this is a personal blog which is, like, one ill-placed semi-colon away from; being a rough draft, so whatever.

We liked each other moderately, then we wanted to beat each other's brains out with a herring, and then I moved to a different country and she moved to a different continent.

Does the possessive plural of other need an apostrophe?

Can you tell I've been doing a LOT of 4th grade catch-up homework lately?

And that the last time I was asleep, it was for three hours, and it happened 19 hours ago?

So, she moved back from Africa after 2 1/2 years and then came to see us in Canada for a few weeks. And we both acted like complete assholes during the whole lead-up to that visit, because we have drama between us and we're, um, the exact same person and it annoys the fuck out of both of us? Yeah, that's about right.

But like they say, or at least he says, the anticipation of death is worse than death itself and once she was here, we realized that we'd actually both grown up ever so slightly and that we not only could co-exist without the world ending, we could even enjoy it a little.

So this time she came for three weeks over Christmas and New Year's, and no one is the least bit worried about it. I'm letting her wash the dishes, which is one of those things my 'I don't need you' pride and my 'My momma dropped me too many times' stupidity kept me from ever letting her do before. She's letting me cook for her and not apologizing or over-thanking me for it.

There is balance in our lives. It only took 14 years.

She and 3of3 were playing hide and seek, and she walked right in on me in my bathroom while I was only wearing what my momma gave me, and my momma is slightly smaller than one of your average freeways, so what she gave me isn't actually fit to be seen in the light of day by the guy I'm banging, let alone his mother.

But there she was in the entry and there I was in front of the Wall of Mirrors, so she pretty much had Full Monty, and I almost but didn't exactly so much as bat an eye. Because for one millisecond I wanted to, but then I remembered her standing over me, holding a thigh in the air, spending the better part of an hour watching someone who looks slightly like her worm his way out of the one place goddammit she told her son to stay away from because this is exactly the sort of things that happens when you dumb kids get drunk unsupervised.

She's seen me in worse conditions, that's all I'm saying.

And we're at that point where we can look back over these past 14 years and sort of laugh off a good deal of it, because our priorities in life are changing and it's not so important to feel right anymore, or we're both just too old for this shit.

So she asked to come for three weeks, and I thought that would be absolutely lovely, and then I accepted three days of meetings at work. 2,000 miles away from home. I'm not THAT reformed.

So I've left my children alone with my mother in law for four days while I gallivant across the west coast over what are the first full days I've spent without my children in six months. And I don't feel the least bit bad about it, because I've been with them EVERY DAY STRAIGHT FOR SIX MONTHS and she hasn't seen them in over a year and I needed to take this trip 2 months ago to catch up and mother in laws are supposed to help you with your kids when you need them, right? And I'm finally comfortable enough with her to ask her to do this for me, and not grovel or over-explain it.

And here I sit in my pretty little hotel room with a great big bed that doesn't have a 4 year old that got kicked out of her room for the next three weeks so Gramma could have some privacy in it, and my clothes are hanging up on hangars, not scrunched in the corner of the closet because the kids' stuff needs a proper space, and my makeup/jewelry/stuff I'm not born with is lined in on the bathroom counter where I can just grab whatever I need, whenever I need it, and not have to dig through 15 Dora backpacks to try & find my q-tips and it's perfectly quiet here.

There is silence in my life for the first time in 6 months. There is deafening silence surrounding me. I can sit at a desk and actually work, I can lay in my bed and actually sleep, all because my mother in law got the balls to just ask for what she wanted, and I grew the balls to do the same.

And I'd give anything to be home with them all right now. Someone punch me in the face until I come back to reality, please.