August 15, 2008

Memories, Love, Time

School starts on Monday. My oldest, C, will be in 2nd grade this year. My baby, J, is starting Pre-K. Until today, I've been able to convince myself that it was only Pre-K, not "real" school. But today we went to school and met the teacher. And now it's all too real to me. My baby is starting school. He's not my baby anymore. This is not something that is easily realized. This is hard to accept, to deal with. It seems like only yesterday that I gave birth to him, and yet here he is starting school.

C is in 2nd grade, and though I had a rough day the day he started kindergarten, I am now comfortable with his first days. I make sure he knows where his classroom is, give him a hug and a kiss, and we all go on our merry ways. I'm afraid, though, that I will have a much tougher time come Monday with J. Even though I knew this day was coming, and have known for a very long time, it just seems to have snuck up on me. Here I am, rolling along with a soon-to-be 2nd grader, and my 4 yr old baby, and then BOOM! It's time for my baby to be in school.

There are too many things in my life that I want to change, and can't do anything about.

July 30, 2008

The Passage of Time

I have 2 sons, as I've mentioned before. I also have a rather large extended family. I have a cousin who is soon to be sent to Iraq or Afghanistan in the Army. He's an...interesting young man. He's a father of one son, divorced, and for a long time, we thought he would be on a downward spiral to nowhere good. Several years of bad choices landed in him in a variety of jailed situations, and gave him a little list of felonies. The birth of his son apparently changed him, though, and after countless futile attempts to find a job, he did the only thing he could think of to do: he went to the judge, and pleaded to have his felonies converted to misdemeanors so he could join the Army, and therefore support his son. He's just completed basic training, and once he completes this other training he is in, he will be off to Iraq or Afghanistan. I can only hope he comes home safely, for the sake of his son, his parents, and the rest of my family.

Around the same time that I learned my cousin was doing this, I heard on the news the story of a little girl who's gone missing in a nearby town, and her mother did not report her missing for 5 weeks. Every time I've seen the mother on the news since then, she seems to show no concern, no fear, no sadness that her daughter is missing.

When I found out about my cousin, my thought was: Ok, he's doing this to support his son, and that's wonderful, but what happens to his son if something happens to him? Has he thought of that? Don't get me wrong, I'm not judging him. I just wonder, as a parent, has he thought of that possibility, or has he put it out of his mind because it's just too horrific a thought to consider?

When I heard about the little girl, my thought was: How the hell does your child go missing and you don't report that for 5 weeks?! If my sons were to go missing, it wouldn't take me 5 minutes, maybe not even 5 seconds, to report them missing. Her excuse is that she was using "other resources and conducting my own investigation." Huh? What other resources are there? What better resource is there, than the police, who have the equipment, the resources, the ability, and the manpower to mount a true search and find my missing child(ren)? They've found pictures where she's been out partying at clubs since her daughter went missing. What the hell kind of parent can go out clubbing while their daughter is missing, her whereabouts and safety unknown? With the fear that her daughter could be hurt, dead, or having who knows what done to her, lurking in the back of her mind, she can go out and dance, drink, and have a great time? I find that interesting.

My oldest son, C, made me a little felt and popsicle stick picture frame when he was in Kindergarten. He glued a Kindergarten picture of himself to it, and put glitter around the edge of the picture. The frame had gotten put up for a while, but my son found it the other day. He hung it on the doorknob of the linen closet of my bathroom. Last night, I saw the frame hanging there and I plucked it up and looked at the picture. What I saw made me cry.

My baby was 5 yrs old in the picture. Chubby little cheeks and chin peered out at me, framing a quicksilver innocent grin, the grin of a little boy whose life couldn't be better. His eyes were bright, eager, curious. The photographer was his friend, you would think. Wearing a blue T-shirt, his hair just a bit too long, brushing against his shirt collar, he looked like a baby.

Now, my baby is 7 yrs old. Time has carved away the chubby little cheeks and chin, bringing to the surface the bones that will give him the face of a man. His hands are already showing the veins and the strength of a man. His eyes are more guarded now, he's begun to realize that not everyone is his friend, and that some people can't be trusted. That loss of innocence has changed his smile, too. It's no longer so innocent, so fast to form. It's slower, a bit wary, as if he wants to be sure there's a reason to smile before he does so. It's a smaller smile, as though he doesn't want anyone to know he's happy. He's not as cynical as an adult, he does still laugh and smile, just not with that same bright innocence.

He's nearly as tall as I am already. Granted, I'm short, so it doesn't take much, but still. His height, and weight, prevent me from picking him up anymore. He will still crawl into my lap and cuddle with me, but more and more, he doesn't want to hold my hand, and he certainly doesn't want to be treated like a baby. He'll still come to me when he gets a boo-boo, and wants a kiss for it, but the kiss is becoming more and more of an afterthought than a necessity.

When I look at him, I see the baby he was, the child he is, and the man he will become, all rolled into one little body. And it's strange. I always wanted him to stay little forever. But, I always thought, as he got older, and began to look more and more grown up, that it would be easier to let go, to let him grow up. But it's not. In fact, I think that makes it even harder. Seeing him need me less and less makes me want to grab hold all the harder, and squeeze him even tighter.

My 4 yr old, J, he still looks like a baby. Still has the chubby cheeks, the little belly, and needs his Mommy's boo-boo kiss to make it all better. And yet I know, all too soon, he too will begin to look more and more like the man he's going to become than the baby he is. He starts Pre-K this year. The first steps toward that fateful day. I look forward to it, and yet at the same time, would be perfectly happy if time stood still all of a sudden for a few years.

My oldest will be in 2nd grade. He'll show the baby the ropes, help him find his classroom, all that good stuff. I asked him to do that. It was a bittersweet moment, to ask my firstborn baby to be a grown up and show the baby what to do.

These moments, these realizations, are what makes it so hard for me to understand a woman whose child goes missing, and she, from all appearances, does nothing about it for more than a month. Every day, my children are growing and changing, and I don't want to miss a moment of that. She's missed a month of her child growing, and if something has happened to that child (I hope nothing has), then she may never again get the chance to see her daughter grow or learn something new. How does she live with that knowledge?

My cousin, I can understand. I couldn't do it myself, but I can see what he is doing. He's doing what he can to ensure his child is taken care of, is healthy and happy and has what he needs. What excuse does this woman have? She let 5 weeks go by without telling anyone her daughter was missing. 5 weeks....her child could be anywhere; anything could have been done to her by now. Any clues they might have had could be gone by now. According to the news, she keeps asserting that the person who has her daughter loves the girl. All I can say is I hope she's right, and that if the person who has her does love her, then perhaps she's better off there. It would appear her own mother doesn't care.

May 29, 2008

Good news/Bad news

So, I have an assortment of good news/bad news scenarios going on right now.

Tomorrow is my last day at my current job. This is a combo of good and bad. The other good/bad aspect of tomorrow is: I have a Skills Verification Test for a new job. It's in the middle of the day. So I have to leave for a while to go do this. It's bad because of the timing. But it's good (and the good considerably outweighs the bad!!) because it's for a job I really want, and that could be a really incredible opportunity.

I got J into Pre-K at his brother's school. I was really worried it wouldn't happen, because you apply and then they draw names to see who gets in. But he got in! This is really awesome, because he so desperately wants to go to school with his big brother. I got the call this morning, and I can't wait to tell him tonight. He's going to be so excited. The bad side to it, is that I have to hurry up and get him into the doctor and make sure that all his shots and stuff are up to date, before the sign up date at the school. Which, with my current job situation, is an expense I really didn't want to have. But....gotta do it.

Back to the work situation...this last month or so has been kind of surreal. I've never before worked at a job with an end date in sight that I didn't set myself. I've given notice at a job. I've been laid off - but always with that day being the end. This time, they asked me (us) to stay on to help with the transition. It's very weird to continue doing your job when you know that what you're doing is pretty much a waste of time. And of course, it's much harder to bite your tongue and be nice when you've got nothing left to lose. Well, except a good recommendation - but even that is sometimes barely enough to keep you from saying the thoughts that come to mind when someone says something really stupid or really insulting.

Even with the surrealness to the situation, and even with the urgency that I feel to get another job, I somehow don't feel panicked. I don't feel as though my life is going to get really really bad after tomorrow. I feel this is meant to be, and it's all going to work out. It's a good thing. As the old REO Speedwagon song says, it's time for me to fly. This job helped me spread my wings, learn new skills and master my temper and my patience, and now it's time to take what I've learned and apply it to a new, better job.

C is getting an award at school next week. They do an awards assembly at the end of the year. His behavior last year meant he didn't get one. He does this year, though, and I am so proud of him. In the less than 2 months since he started his medication, there has been a total turn around in him. His grades shot through the roof, his conduct grades went up to where they should be, and his attitude at home has gone to normal child attitude. He knows he's getting an award, and he's excited, but I know he doesn't realize the significance of this. To me, this shows me that I did the right thing by going against my own feelings of doubt and putting him on the medication. It shows me that he truly is the good kid I always knew he was, and that he just needed that little bit of help. And it shows me that the improvement I see is not just wishful thinking, but it truly exists. He's gone from being on the verge of suspension for his behavior, to getting an award. In less than 2 months. Miracles do happen.

How odd is this, with my unemployed status looming ever closer, gas prices through the roof, and not knowing how I'll pay my bills soon...but yet I couldn't be happier with my life, and wouldn't change it for anything.

I guess that's the good news and the bad news.

May 14, 2008

Oh, what fun....

I really try to stay a positive person. I try to be optomistic and look at challenges as chances to grow and to learn.

Here's my situation right now: I'm out of a job as of May 30th, I have 2 sons in glasses, and the youngest has to go back in about a month to ensure he's got the right prescription, my oldest has ADHD which costs me $116/mo in meds, and $125 every two months in dr. visits, and it looks like my youngest will be following in his hyperactive, unfocused older brother's footsteps. No insurance. I have a $900/mo mortgage that my family has to pay b/c I can't, and miscellaneous other bills that my current paycheck minimally manages to cover with the assistance of my very meager savings account.

Can you see where I'm having some trouble staying positive right now? I mean, let's not forget, gas prices no longer creep up, they are pogo-sticking their way higher and higher every single day, and food prices are not far behind.

I try to keep my kids from knowing how bad the money situation is. I don't feel they need to know, or worry about that. But, when gas prices go to $3.77 a gallon, it gets harder and harder to tell them no on other things without having to explain what's happening.

Fortunately for us, we have lots of home entertainment. A satellite dish with 200 channels, tons of DVD movies, a pool, a swingset, and grandparents right down the road. Now, before you say I'd have less money trouble if I got rid of all that stuff, let me clarify that first, the money came out of my tax refund for the pool and swingset, I've had to DVDs for years, and the satellite is #1 a contract I can't get out of and #2 a necessity with 2 kids, no gas money, and living in a state known for horrendous summer weather. Although we are in a drought right now...we really need some rain. Do a rain dance for us, will you?

Being serious, our situation isn't desperate yet, but it could quickly get there. And I know we're not the only ones feeling this way. We have to do something. We have to figure out a way to bring gas prices back down, to bring jobs back to America, to increase pay, all kinds of things. It's just sad that we feel so powerless.

Ok, time to lighten the mood. I was driving home from the grocery store with the kids the other night. And so I don't have to keep saying "oldest" "youngest" all the time, let's call my oldest C and my youngest J. So, we're listening to the radio, one of those dedication shows. This girl called in and had the same name as me. C's like, "Mom, that's your name!" I said, "Yeah, it is." Then the girl says she's 17, and C goes, "Oh, that's not you, Mom. You're not 17." So, I tease him. I say, "Are you saying I'm old?" (I'm 29.) He gave me this look, the one that males give you when they don't know what to say because they think any answer they give will get them in trouble. So, J pipes up and says, "No, Mommy, you're new!". I absolutely cracked up. C quickly changed the subject. I have to teach him the fine art of telling a woman what she wants to hear...or maybe I'll let his brother teach him.

So C gets done with school in just a few weeks. I'm so proud of him. The improvement in his attitude, grades, everything, since he started his meds is just amazing. And he's so much happier now. I've found out that the manufacturer of his meds provides assistance if you can't afford your meds, so I'm in the process of applying for that. That will take a huge weight off of me. At least until J needs meds. I'm still hoping to avoid that, though. Just not sure how.

Oh, well. Off to work now.

May 9, 2008

Can you say unemployment?

Last week, at about this time, my co-workers and I got called into a "short" meeting that sent us all into a tailspin, and everyone went home early. We were informed that our particular branch of the company we work for is being closed at the end of May.

So, I've spent the last week alternately ignoring my situation and frenziedly sending my resume to any phone number that seems to even remotely resemble a business' fax number. Ok, not exactly like that, but I've definitely been responding to lots and lots of job ads.

They are giving us a nice "completion package", which is corporate speak for "we're laying you off, but we want you to stay and be nice until we're ready to really do this, so here's what we'll give you to smile and pretend you don't want to murder us in our sleep."

I'm not too panicked, yet. With the job market the way it is, and the economy the way it is, panic is not too far off, though. It's hiding behind the bedroom door, actually, breathing heavily in the night. I usually jump into bed, because you know, monsters behind the door can't get you in bed.

I have to make jokes, even if they're bad ones. If I let myself think about this in any serious way, I might cry. Seriously. This was a really big shock, and as a single mother with two kids, and an ex-husband who doesn't pay child support, it's a major reason to freak out. Oh, and did I mention that my mother also got laid off that day? Hers was effective immediately; at least I have until the 30th.

I'm looking into working at home. Gas prices are making it harder to even go to work. How sad is that? It used to be people wanted to work at home b/c they wanted to wear pj's all day, or be home with their kids. Now, they do it b/c they can't afford to go out and drive to work.

Ok, enough with all the whiny, poor me crap.

My son is doing awesome on his meds. He had his follow-up appt on Wednesday, to see how the meds are working. It's amazing. He's even stopped grinding his teeth at night. He brought home his interim report on Tuesday, and he had all S and E grades. I'm so proud of him, I can't even stand it. And he's so funny now. He tells me all the trouble other kids are getting into and saying "don't they know they can get in trouble for that?"

It's great to see him so much happier, though. And that's what's really important. He was...not miserable, but he wasn't a happy boy for a long time.


Back to work.

I'll keep you posted.

April 13, 2008

It has been many moons since my last post...

Sorry, I just watched an old western type movie with indians and cowboys and stuff....the title was a bad attempt at humor. :)
So, in seriousness, it has been quite a while since I posted. Things have been stressed around my house for a while.
My oldest son was getting into lots of trouble at school, and at home, too. For a while, I was living in denial. And I don't mean the river in Eygpt, although I would like to visit that one. But, anyway, I kept telling myself he just needed....well, anything but what he really needed. I tried changing his diet, to eliminate preservatives and artificial colorings, flavors, etc. Which I needed to do anyway, just because it's healthier. That helped, but not a lot.
So, in the end, I had to suck it up, gather my courage, and let the dreaded question pass my lips: Does he have ADD? And to my horror, disappointment, fear, but not surprise, yes, he does. Massively.
My whole reason for dreading this diagnosis is that they generally medicate. I've always felt that medicating a child to get them to behave the way you want them to just isn't right. Don't misunderstand me....ADD/ADHD does exist, and there is nothing wrong with parents who medicate for that purpose. I just lived in that wonderful non-reality where I didn't believe my son needed medication to behave. I believed that I just needed to discipline more, praise more, something.
I was wrong.
My son's doctor put him on Focalin XR, and I'm in the midst of preparing to climb Mt. Everest and sing the praises of medication. OK, not really, but close. My son has totally turned around in the 4 days he's been on his medication. He listens, he remembers, he focuses, and he doesn't argue nearly as much as before. He does things without prompting, and doesn't fight doing chores any more than any normal 7 year old. Still fights with his brother, but hey...they're brothers. Can't fight nature.
The relief I feel over this situation is amazing. Or maybe that's just vacation.
I've been on vacation this last week, while school was on Spring Break. I had a whole week off with my boys. We spent every day outside, pretty much all day. It was beautiful. Here's one picture from the week (it might make you cry...get a tissue):

OK, I gave ya two. We went fishing, too. That's the lake. Beautiful, isn't it? Too bad the fish weren't biting. They apparently went into the witness protection program to hide from the cold front that has moved into our area. It's freakin' cold today! Well, not cold, I guess, but compared to this week when we've been getting sunburned and baked and roasted and fried outside, it's cold!

Still, all in all, vacation has been awesome. The tension and stress from my job has gone away, and I feel ready to face it again. We'll see if that feeling sticks when I get up and go in tomorrow. But, my sons and I have used this opportunity to reconnect and get close again. Work, school, and daily stress make it hard to feel close on a day to day basis sometimes, when it seems to them (and to me) that all we do is work, homework, cook, bathe, eat and sleep, with no time for pleasure, fun and just being together. This week has been awesome. We've had lots of time to talk, to play, to relax and enjoy each other's company.

We even went swimming yesterday. The water was really cold, which is why we usually don't swim until around Memorial Day. But once you got in, it wasn't bad. Or maybe that was hypothermia setting in. I'm not sure. If my lips go back to their normal color by tomorrow, we'll say it wasn't bad. If I never post another blog, well....then you'll know not to go swimming in April. :)

Meanwhile, it's a cloudy day today, with a chilly temperature outside, but nice and cozy inside. The kids are watching a dinosaur cartoon on TV, and I'm getting ready to put some stuffed shells in the oven for dinner. My mom made them for us. :) She's awesome. She made sure I don't have to cook on my last day of vacation. And she even made me some pasta salad for dinner tomorrow night, so all I have to do is figure out a meat to go with it. She made my first day back to work a bit more bearable, too.

I love my mom.

I love my kids.

I love my vacation...wish it was longer.

I love my life.

I love my job....well, let's not get to carried away here with the lovey-dovey crap, shall we?

February 4, 2008

Learning to Fly

I've begun spreading my wings, and opening my mind further than before. I've always been a pretty open-minded person, willing to be friends with anyone, try just about anything, and learn anything anyone was willing to teach me. But, I've done two things in the last three days that I used to swear I'd never do. We'll start with the easy one first.

I ate venison tonight. It was good. I was quite surprised. I know people eat it all the time, but the idea of eating deer, that someone shot and prepped themselves, that didn't come from a store, always just kind of grossed me out. But, this particular venison came from a close friend of the family, someone whom I trust with my life and that of my children, and so when my mother made it, and asked me if we would try it to (she swore it was very good), I did. I did not tell my kids what it was though. They loved it, but I have a feeling if I tell them what it is, they will be like I was and not want it. It's funny...I live in the redneck capital of the state, and I've only just tried venison at the age of 29.

Now, on to the bigger thing. I've had to eat my own words. I used to be the type of female who said there would never, ever be a snake, lizard, or any other reptile in my home, no matter what. Meet the new members of our family, Kaitlyn and Evan:

Yep, lizards. Baby Dragons, to be precise. We went to the Medieval Faire in a nearby town, and my boys saw these almost as soon as we came through the gate. Throughout the rest of the fair, all I heard was, "Are we gonna go back and get the lizards now?" and "But, I want a lizard, Mom!". Grandma and Grandpa were the ones who took us, and they wanted to buy them for the boys. And, I have to admit, as pets go, these are not bad. Cheap and easy to feed, you give them a nickel sized slice of banana or a capful of banana or peach baby food, and they're set for about three weeks. No clean-up - spray the tank with water twice a day and it evaporates all their little...potty. Although, we have a Betta Fish, and he is not real thrilled with his new neighbors. He was fine all day yesterday, but when I came home tonight, he was over in his tank right next to theirs, all blown up and agitated. I had to put a piece of paper between their tanks so that he would calm down. But, seriously, the lizards are pretty cool. You can hold them, and the clincher on the deal was the fact that they will mate. She will lay an egg that will hatch over a six hour period after a 45 day incubation. Great science and life lesson for the boys. I'm happy about that, and they just can't wait. They were told that they would know she was ready to lay an egg because her tummy would be fat, so they ask me about 20 times a day if her tummy is fat yet.

I still maintain there will NEVER be a snake in my house.

January 27, 2008

The Past Rears Its Head...

I was playing around on the internet the other night, just bored and looking for something to do. I started thinking of the names of guys I used to date and people I used to be friends with. Just for the sheer fun of it, I started looking up their names on the internet, just to see what might pop up. I found some of them, and my....what a shock.

They are nothing like I would have imagined. You know how, when you're dating someone, you kind of picture yourself in the future with them? You know, trying to see what it might be like? These guys were nothing like what I figured. I mean, we're talking balding, beer-belly types, or worse, no different, AT ALL, than high school. Still toking, still acting like they're 16 or 17 years old.

It's funny the things that will change how you look at the world, or at your past. I wasn't wearing rose-colored glasses, per se, but I did have this somewhat...soft view of the "old days". I'm a mother of two now, and so of course, on those long, hard days when nothing more than sheer determination and will power gets me through, I think back on the days before I had kids. How easy it was, how "nice" it was. This has changed that, though. The guy who's no different, it's made me look back on those memories and see that I knew, even then, that this was how he would turn out. Which is really a shame, because he was really a nice guy, very intelligent, with a lot of potential to do great things. The one who's balding with a beer belly, I've realized that I never really knew him at all, even though I thought I did at the time, and until now, would have continued to think so. Dated him for several years, in truth, and he as actually "the first". And although I still will say that I did honestly love him, I can see now that what I loved was what little I did know of him. Not that he's a bad guy. I don't think he is. Based on what I read about him, he's probably still a nice guy. It's just that I now realize that I only knew little bits and pieces of him, the ones he wanted me to know. He held back from me, which considering we were young teenagers, makes me really wonder. What on earth does a young teenage boy have to hold back from his girlfriend?

However, all this sifting through the past has done something else for me. For quite some time now I have wanted to lose the weight that I gained when having my children. I've just never found the strength, the will, the energy, the whatever to do it. But in looking back at the past, I also saw myself. And I'm not much different than I was back then. A few pounds heavier, two more children, and an ex-husband, but still much the same. Smart-mouthed, bitchy, opinionated, confident, and wanting to find a decent man.

Finding a decent man won't happen though, as long as I feel bad about my weight. But it's not just about finding a nice guy. It's about feeling better about myself, about looking better and being healthier, and setting a good example for my kids. Therefore, I have gotten serious about it now. I am eating healthier, and less, and drinking water. I now spend my time running back and forth to the bathroom. I've come to the conclusion that the only way water helps you lose weight is all the calories you burn on the bathroom runs you make every five minutes. And this week, I'm going to start working out. I'm determined now. I will not give up, I will not give in. I will lose 30 pounds by the beginning of May, and will set a new goal to lose another twenty or thirty after that.

I want my kids to be proud of me. I want to be able to play with them. They are my motivation. Sometimes, pure determination is the only thing that gets me through my day. I hate my job, I hate my financial situation, and there is no reward at the end of the day. Pure determination and grit, the simple thought that "I will get through this day" is all that gets me through, and now I will use that determination, that grit, that thought, to get me through this. I will do this. I will not stop.

January 21, 2008

Inspiration...and the lack thereof

As you may or may not have figured out by now, I enjoy writing. I write stories, short stories, and poetry. I've generally been much more prolific with my poetry. Lately, though, I just can't come up with anything. I'm surrounded by the beauty of nature, the beauty of my children, my family, my home, friends and just the general beauty of life. And yet...nothing.

I sit down with pen and paper, and if I'm lucky, a line or two will dribble forth as water from a nearly but not quite frozen pipe. I'll feel the poem building like storm clouds in a Florida summer sky, but like those same clouds in recent times, nothing seems to fall from that building sensation. I end up sitting there, feeling abandoned by my ability and hating the feeling.

I used to be able to sit down and bang out a rather decent poem in 20-30 minutes, one that often made family and friends have a tear or two in their eyes, and even on occasion, had some asking to use said poem in a wedding ceremony, for an anniversary, or what have you. This complete lack of inspiration has me stymied.

It's just beyond me that after years of writing poetry about so many things, about love, and life, and abuse, and children, and everything else, that I just can't do it anymore. And I think maybe that's what bothers me the most...that this lack may not be just a temporary block, but a permanent end to my writing days. And that doesn't just bother scares me.

I have other hobbies and talents, yes. But this is the one that has always been there, that I've always turned to, that I've been able to do anytime, anywhere. It's the one that has always helped me work my feelings out, sort myself out, express myself and show people what I'm feeling at any given time. And now, what do I do?

I think I've found an answer. One of my other big hobbies is photography. I'm actually kind of the family photographer. I use my digital camera to do my family's photo every year, and my son's school photos. I seem to have a knack for catching people in natural poses and coming out with an awesome photo. I enjoy taking pictures of nature, too, and just any little thing that grabs my curiousity at a given time. So...I think I shall start carrying my camera with me everywhere, and see what develops. Sorry...bad joke. Seriously, though, I've given this quite a bit of thought recently, and I'm thinking this may be a sign telling me to embrace this hobby a bit more fully than I have in the past. I've generally just used it to capture my children, to make concrete memories that will never fade. I've only sometimes used it to capture nature, and other things. I feel that maybe this is a knock on the door from opportunity, telling me to use this lack of inspiration to create other art. I've always been a creative person, and desperately need that creative outlet. Photography may be the way to keep that outlet open.

On a different note, have you ever suddenly seen someone you thought you knew pretty well in a completely different way, and it made you feel...I don't know, just very differently about them? I recently had that experience. Someone I'd known for a while now, nice guy. Someone I'd always thought was a pretty decent kind of guy. He was former military, which almost always means good guy. He was the kind of guy you can see yourself dating, but you hold off on because you don't want to lose the friendship. He knows of my woes with my ex-husband, and has often told me what he thinks of my ex. He often expounds on his theories of men who don't care for their children, take responsibility for their families, etc. He has a child himself, has shown me the pics. Cute little girl, too.

So he tells me he's finally gotten around to creating a MySpace page. He wants me to check it out and give him some feedback. So, I go, I check out, and not bad. then I get to the bottom where you do a little fill-in-the-blank on your basic stats. Under children, he puts "Someday". Huh? He's got this little girl, she's, I don't know, 3 or 4, around my son's age, and he doesn't acknowledge her in his MySpace profile? The same guy who tells me what an ass my ex-husband is for not taking care of my kids(which he is, but...) is now not acknowledging his child? I, with my big mouth and my inability to shut it sometimes, ask him what's up here. He says he doesn't want to chase women away. Hmmm...yes, I run screaming into the night when I find a nice guy who takes care of his responsibilities and is proud of that. I always avoid the men who take care of their kids, because God knows no one wants a man who's being decent.

This has been an enlightening experience for me. Don't get me wrong, I'm not perfect. But I try really damn hard not to be a hypocrite, and finding out that my friend is one is...difficult. It has me wondering if I can continue this friendship. It's not exactly a betrayal to me, but it is...something. It's a side of him that I never thought I'd see, and definitely not one I wanted to see. I just feel that it's not something that I can just overlook. And the saddest part is that it has me wondering just how many of my other friends are just as hypocritical, lying about who and what they are to others, just to make a different impression. Notice I said different, not better.

I'm just completely disgusted with the world tonight.

January 20, 2008

Memories...and confidence

Have you ever noticed how odd some memories can be? Well, not the memories themselves, exactly, but the fact that you remember them. I mean, I can remember this one guy, we only had like 5 or 6 dates, but I remember him more clearly than the guy I dated for 5 yrs just before and throughout high school. The 5 or 6 date guy was named Bryan. Bryan took me to see George Carlin live at the O'Connell Center in Gainesville, FL for our first date with a couple of his buddies. He kissed me in my car right after that show. On a later date, he took me to Outback for dinner and proceeded to tip our waiter $16 because he was so focused on me and getting me alone. Yet I can't for the life of me remember exactly how I met the guy I dated for 5 yrs.

I suddenly thought of an old friend from high school the other day. His name was Dylan. I don't even know why I thought of him, his name just suddenly popped into my head one day, and I started wondering how he is doing these days. I've thought about looking him up, but...I don't know. We always had this kind of rocky friendship/half-relationship kind of thing going on, and I don't know that I'd want to rekindle something that unstable at this point in my life. It's been 11 or 12 yrs since I saw him, I know he's changed, but I've found through experience that relationships like that tend to keep the same characteristics no matter how many years pass. Maybe I will look him up, just for the hell of it. Maybe he has a MySpace page or something where I can see what he looks like these days. I recall him being pretty hot, but that's the other funny thing about memories...they tend to dull the sharp edges and make things seem better than they really were. I had another old...friend, and I happened to come across a recent picture of him the other day....the only thing I could think was, what the hell was I thinking? I was in love with that guy, and it's become real clear now that it WASN'T based on his looks. In total honesty, I do remember why I was in love with him, and they were reasons that I am sure still reside behind the oddly unattractive-to-me-now facade, but it was just very weird to have that awakening to him. It was as though all those years of friendship and...other stuff, I was moving around with my eyes closed and never saw him, only heard his voice and felt his touch. Now I've seen him, and it's kind of a shock. I don't I said, weird.

On other things, have you ever looked at where your confidence comes from? I started thinking about this the other day. I'm not sure why (I have a very boring job that allows lots of time to think of the oddest things). I remember, before I had my sons, before I got married, before all this crap that became my life happened, I used to date. A lot. Had tons of boyfriends, a date pretty much every Friday and Saturday night, and occasionally during the week too. My confidence was through the roof. I knew that pretty much all I had to do was crook my little red or pink nail painted finger and I'd have 1 or even 2 guys tripping over themselves to get the door for me. And no, I'm not being overly cocky. That really was my situation.

Now I have 2 kids, I'm overweight and out of shape from having them (but I am working on that), and I don't date. No time. Yet, my confidence level is even higher than before. It no longer comes from my ability to get a man, which I now realize was a pretty shallow and stupid reason to feel such confidence. My confidence these days comes from who I am. I am a single mother. I support my children with no help whatsoever from their father. I am sole financial, physical, and emotional support for my children. My children eat a healthy meal each and every night, because of me. They take a bath and get clean, and go to bed on time, because of me. My confidence now stems from the knowledge that I am taking care of my kids, without anyone's help, and that I'm doing a damn good job of it. My ex-husband once told me when I told him I wanted a divorce that I could never make it without him. I laughed in his face when he said that, but deep down, I wasn't so sure. Although I'd been ready to raise my son by myself if his father hadn't stuck around, now I was a stay at home mom. Could I really take care of him, and the child I was currently carrying, alone? Could I make it without him?

I took that chance anyway, and hoped for the best. And now, everytime I take him to court to be held in contempt for his failure (read that:refusal) to pay child support, I look him in the eye with my chin held high, knowing that I have proven his attempted prophecy wrong. I am making it without him, quite literally. I am taking care of my family, entirely on my own. And yes, it is stressful. It's hard, and it's exhausting, and there are times I feel ready to throw in the towel and cry defeat. But, I don't. I push through and I keep going, because there's nothing else to do BUT keep going. And that is where my confidence comes from now. And that confidence is what helps me push through the day when I'm having a bad day at work, and hating my job, wishing I could quit. It what keeps me from giving up when I can't get my son to understand his homework from the way I explain it to him, and gets me to explain it to him just one more time, in a slightly different way, until it clicks.

Where does your confidence come from?

January 6, 2008

Happy Birthday To Me!

Today's my birthday!! I am....29. Wow. That's a big number, isn't it? I still remember 21...hell, 18...and I feel 16 most days. Still, I don't really feel...older. It's just kinda...ok, I'm 29 now. But then there are moments when it will hit me....kind of a holy sh*t, I'm 29!

How is it, though, that turning a year older myself doesn't make me feel older, but my child turning 7 next month does? Isn't it strange how other people can affect us more than we ourselves do? My turning 29 almost just feels like just another day, but when I think of planning my son's birthday party next month, I sit back and feel like years and years have passed. Which, I guess, 7 years is quite a few...and yet, in some ways, not so much. It's odd, the way time seems fluid and passes slowly or quickly based solely on our perceptions of specific conditions and circumstances. It reminds me very much of how slowly time passed during the most hated classes in school and yet flew by during lunch, but in a larger sense. No longer the passage of minutes or hours, but huge chunks of time, weeks, months, years that pass by and you look back and wonder where it all went.

It's 2008 now. And it is funny, because I remember how panicked everyone was over the year 2000, all the horrible things that were supposed to befall us, and yet here we are, all still healthy and happy, and using the items that were supposed to destroy us with the simple stroke of midnight. That was the year that I met my former husband...hmmm, it would seem that was the year that almost destroyed me, I guess. I met him, I got pregnant, and my life changed forever. Not for better or for worse, but for better AND for worse. The better being my 2 awesome children who've made my life more meaningful, more important, more worthwhile. The worse being the hell I went through in order to have them. But, would I go through the worse all over again? As long as the outcome was the same, and I got my two babies, ABSOLUTELY. No doubt. Life can be hell, but the rewards for making it through are incredible.

So...I sit here tonight, divorced, single mom to 2, and 29 years old. One year shy of 30. An age that once upon a time seemed absolutely ancient to me, that seemed a lifetime away, and now it's upon me. And it definitely does not feel as old as it once seemed to be.

It was a wonderful birthday. My mother cooked dinner for me, had a cake for me. My wonderful babies sang "Happy Birthday" to me first thing, and then they all sang to me later. My grandmother called, which was wonderful. I haven't talked to her in a long time, and it was so good to hear her voice, to tell her that I love her. My boys picked some beautiful flowers, camelias, for me, from Grandma's flowerbushes. Had to stop them before they picked them all, but still...a very sweet wonderful gift.

Since I last posted, my oldest son finally got the training wheels off his bike (they were stuck on, and we had to wait for Grandpa to get the tools and time to come take them off), and has learned to ride on his own! He's ridden (while I walked behind) to his grandparents house twice now. He loves it! And I'm so proud of him!! My youngest is still riding a tricycle, although next year, I may bump him to a two wheeler with training wheels. They both love riding their bikes though, or just being outside period. They are so active, so energetic. At times, it's frustrating, like at bedtime or dinner time or just when I want to sit down and relax for a couple of minutes, but at the same time, it's a wonderful thing to see, because I know they will never be overweight, they will never lack for things to do. They both have such vivid imaginations, too, which is another thing sthat I am so grateful for. I'm a big believer in imagination, that if you have imagination, it can take you anywhere, you can do anything, be anything, achieve anything.

Enough reflecting for this year. I'm off to take this 29 year old soul to bed.

Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday to me!
Happy birthday, dear me!
Happy birthday to me!

Had to have it one more time. :)