Sevens

I was gone for seven weeks. 

Correction: I came back on the first day of my seventh week away from my whole entire life. 

It's been so long since I've written anything here, and so much has happened in that expanse of time, that I can't even remember what's already been said. I suppose I could go read my own archives, but that somehow feels like cheating. On myself. With myself. There's a vibrator joke in here somewhere.

I was gone for seven weeks. So much has happened in that time.

My oldest son's voice dropped while I was gone. I called one day and had no idea who was on the phone. I wasn't even sure it was a *human*. That boy is going to make some choir director's baritone dreams come true. He also got his schedule for high school while I was gone. After 14 years of parenting, I have now officially missed a milestone. I can't believe how awful that feels.

My youngest child, my daughter, she kept her squeak but refined it. Like the baby fat that sheds itself overnight, the roundness of her words molted away and was replaced with sharp angles, strong bones, and complex adjectives. I came back to a girl-child, a woman-in-progress, someone who spent the summer learning, for the first time, how to be feminine from someone other than me. Now I condition her hair all wrong, but she'll still gives me butterfly kisses in the early hours of the morning when no one else is looking. I'll take it. 

My middle son is the most eerily inconsistently consistent human being I have ever met. Nothing about him has changed in the slightest. It is amazingly comforting to come back to one familiar thing. 

I left Phoenix with a 10X15 storage locker and the hope that everything would work itself out...and not much more. I had to go; I had to go for my job, I had to go for my sanity, I had to go for him and his family to start finding their own way through this together. I had to go, and I went, and I had no clue what was going to happen once I was on the other side of more flips of a calendar than I'd ever relinquished control of my family to before. 

Relinquishing control is not my strong suit. Josh and I got into a massive fight in, oh, week two because he and his sister were being such control freaks and undoing each and every one of the many meticulous plans I'd so carefully laid out, all pressed and starched, on the edges of the beds for the time I would be gone. Because I'm not a total hypocrite, oh no

Turns out, letting go is a lot easier when you're in free fall and there is nothing to latch on to. 

This summer was a long, slow, drawn out, slow-motion leap of faith. It wasn't even a leap so much as a leaning over the edge until I had no choice but to fall. It was terrible and frightening to be gone for so long, and I am so glad that I was. I think I had to be. I think I had to let everything settle down the way it wanted to, not the way I wanted to orchestrate it to.

I think I had to let the kids father spend the summer with him in his own way - not the way I would want, expect, or even tolerate, honestly, had I been within a 10 hours drive of them, but it wasn't my summer with them so really, it isn't my place to dictate how it went.

They lived.

They're happy as shit to be home.

The end.

I think I had to be very, very humbled by the love and support that I sometimes forget I have in my corner of the ring. My kids' godfather and his brand new wife and their brand new baby basically gave me a home when literally did not have one, some company, some perspective, and the best homemade ice cream you will ever put into your body. My best friend talked me off a lot of ledges, and watched over me even when I wasn't sure I wanted to be watched over.  My old, old buddy (who *gasp* doesn't have anything to do with teh internetz and is therefore unlinkable) fed me some wine when I needed it, played me ridiculously loud rock and roll in the parking lot, just like we used to do a million years ago, and reminded me of who I used ot be before I tripped and fell into this damn hole again. 

I think I had to be ready to let everything change, and I think I was gone just long enough that everything did exactly that. 

And now we have this home - a house that I took sight me-unseen (the kids and their dad came to check it out, and the kids said, "uhunno, i guess it'll do, grunt", and that, like cookie, was good enough for me). We still haven't met our neighbors (though I've met their unsecured wifi signal, howdy) (don't you judge me) and my garage still looks like this:

But my living room, MY living room, myveryownlivingroom without a drunk guy on the couch sucking all the energy out of it, looks like this:

And my daughter's room looks like this:

And my sons' room looks like this: 

And that is, of course, blackmail for later, when they are really being a-holes and also have girlfriends. Have blog and iPhone; am not afraid to use them. 

(Also, judge not the dorm room. They had loft beds which clearly will not fit. Ikea run for twin frames forthcoming. Until then, that room is merely a crystal ball of their almost-immediate future, with less ramen and porn.)

I am not showing you my room. Last night, my son told me to flipping clean it up already, mawm, jeez. When a 14 year old is disgusted with the way you're living, it's time to reassess. 

But really, what matters to me most right now isn't the way the couches I got for $125 on Craiglist while I was gone (score) perfectly fit this space I accidentally ended up in, or the way the sun rises through the blinds in my windows and makes everything look sparkly and full of promise every single day now that I'm back, it's that under this roof, there are three smiles. Three real, relaxed, not contrived, not manic, not hiding anything behind them smiles. 

I was gone for seven weeks. That's why. And now I get to start on forever, finally.

This Week in the End of Denial, Folk Music, and Fight Club

My son has a lot of band concerts as we come to the end of the year. There are regional competitions he has to participate in; the cumulation of so many god damn hours before school and after school and on the weekends, and his band is kicking major ass through them all. 

He has to wear a tux top, black slacks, and black shoes, which makes him look awkwardly like his father (only really awkward for me, for obvious reasons I'd rather not say and make real *shudder*).

He's been wearing his dad's pants and shoes, which has allowed me to imagine him tiny, playing dress up in dad's old work outfits, and has kept reality at a lovely little bay. 

But now the band shows are coming hard and heavy, and so we took him out to get his own black dress shoes and slacks. Oh, hai, reality, your baby actually *did* grow up and no, that foot wearing a shoe one full size larger than mine now will never again fit inside my mouth. 

Matthew 13:42. That's all I'm saying about that. 

And while his father and he were busy fucking my entire imaginary life, this gongshow happened. 

    We can just go right ahead and file that under "Shit That Was Not in the Original Contract."

He sat on my knee and looked at me with those gorgeous green eyes and he promised me he'd stay little forever and I looked it up - staying little forever does not include doing Movember with all his friends next year.

The good news is that I got to have a lime and a coconut and a sleepover with my Texas bestie, which, contrary to the song, is exactly what the doctor ordered.  

I was also interviewed on ABC News about letting my kids practice MMA, which while not exactly an extreme sport by my definition, is extremely awesome and hopefully maybe a few other people will realize that.

This is me, trying to save the world - one bloody nose and molestache at a time. 

Four Foot Ten Inches Is Plenty Tall

My middle son is no stranger to being bullied, and if I was a better blogger, I'd have tagged and SEO'd the three or four posts on this blog about various incidents with "bully" or "stupid little a$$h*les who messed with the wrong mama bear" but no. No tags, so I can't find any of those posts to link back to anything. 

Things I can link back to aside: This is why I will never succeed as a mommy blogger. That and the fact that I hate both cupcakes and bacon - but to my credit, I've got the xanax thing daaaaoown, yo.  

Better blogging through $ymbols aside: I'm trying to swear less on my blog, partly because I have a job that inspires me to play a professional adult on the internet now, but also because swearing on your blog screws up your SEO, did you know that? It's true. Google is not afraid to wash your potty mouth out with a bar of Lowered Page Rank. 

All of these confounded asides aside: My anti-anxiety meds are working really well. (confounded: excellent substitute for bull$h*t; totally SEO friendly.) Maybe too well

So my teency tiny little snack sized blue eyed precious little munchkin-butt came home from school yesterday in tears. Tears, friends. By the time they hit 6th grade, I expect them to come home weepy because the girl they like is into some other boy, or because they accidentally smelled themselves in PE class, but what I do not expect is for them to come home crying because some kid decided to choke them in 4th period over a Pikachu origami. 

Choked my child. That happened. 

This came after a bunch of kids called him an over-sensitive bee eye tee see aych in 3rd period, and was followed by the kids from 5th - 7th period laughing at him because he cried, which made him cry more, which made them laugh more, and this is why the poor bugger begged me to let him stay home from school today.

Which I didn't.

Because I suck. But also because if I let him stay home, the terrorists win. 

We talked about my thoughts on why people were calling him names - that it was just his turn in the Junior High School crappy day rotation and that tomorrow, they'd probably move on to fresher meat. We talked about the kid grabbing his throat and I reminded him that he's trained to fight, and that kid probably isn't, so if push came to shove he could most likely lay that kid flat f*ing out with very little effort.

Bad Language for Good Aside: I find a well-placed f*bomb in the middle of an inspirational speech to be a more effective morale boost than all the homemade cookies and glasses of cold milk in all of the whole world. 

So my point was merely that the worst thing that could happen is that people could say more words, and maybe he'd have to knock a fool out - and sure, he'd get suspended for that but, you know, bygones. I told him that the sad fact of life is that the world is full of a whole lot of raging a$$holes and the best you can do is stick by the people who aren't and stand tall. Going to school is standing tall. 

So he went to school, white-knuckled and trembling. Sometimes I hate being the one in charge of making adult decisions. 

But he came home sunshine and roses and I found out that the counselor who'd spotted him crying at lunch yesterday pulled him into the office and had a long talk with him about how awesome he is in general, and the kid who choked him yesterday forgot he existed today, and the kids who thought he was an over-sensitive bee eye tee see aych yesterday didn't think anything of him today at all.

And he learned that sometimes, his dumb old mom is right, but more importantly he learned that we never, ever have to let the terrorists win. At least not without a fight.