February 27, 2010

Why my kids don't have birthday parties...and other thoughts

So today is C's 9th birthday...wow, where have the years gone? I'm seriously having major issues with accepting that my firstborn, my baby, is no longer my baby, but now dwells in the realm of a land called "tweendom". My son is a tween. That's just...not right.

I had a friend ask me the other day (after she invited us to her daughter's 10th birthday party tomorrow - her daughter is 364 days older than C), why my kids don't have birthday parties. Well, it's pretty simple. One reason is that we live way out in the boonies and our current neighborhood does not contain a lot of kids around C & J's ages. Most of the kids are teens, or really, really little. Depending on where D & I eventually find a place, that may change, but that's what it is right now.

The other reason is the school policy. School policy says that you cannot invite selected, specific children to the party. It is all or none: either you invite all of the kids in the class, or none of them. And naturally, there is no real way around this.

Now, I kind of get why they do this: it sucks to be the only kid in the class NOT invited to a party. And yes, I can understand they would want to avoid the hurt feelings as much as possible, especially in this world where kids bring guns to school or commit suicide for no apparent reason. BUT...

I have more than one issue with this. One being that it's not fair. It SEEMS fair at first glance. All the kids get invited, so it makes it fair. But, it's really not fair. I mean, seriously, people that I don't know, or that I do know but don't like or they don't like me, don't invite me to their parties. And I wouldn't expect them to. I grew up getting invited only to those parties that I knew and generally was pretty good friends with the person having the party. So as an adult, I get the concept that if I don't know you, or we don't like each other, I'm not getting invited to your party, and you won't be invited to mine. I think this whole "invite all or none" policy is going to kind of screw with that. We'll have adults running around expecting to get invited to a party that the cashier at Walmart is throwing, even though they don't know said cashier.

Another issue is this: C is in the same classroom as a little boy we will call S. In Kindergarten, C & S were in the same class, and in the after-care program together. S's mother runs the after-care program. C & S were constantly, and I mean constantly, in trouble together. Every day in class, in after-care, these two were up to something. The teacher made specific notes that they were not to be put in the same class together in future. That worked...until this year. They are in the same class. And S has gone from annoying little troublemaker to full-on bully. He's been suspended for fighting. He picks on other kids, he pushes, hits, trips, kicks, slaps, smacks, punches, teases, threatens, you name it, he's done it. C realizes this kid is trouble, and wants nothing to do with him. Now...knowing that this kid is likely to try to start a fight with one or both of my boys, and has probably in some form or another abused at least one other kid in the class, who would likely be at the party, WHY on earth would I want to invite this child to my home? I mean, seriously, that just makes no sense to me. There is a person who has never met me, but doesn't like me. She's made threats. You don't see me inviting her to my home. So why would I want to invite this kid to my home?

Those are the reasons my kids don't have birthday parties. And just to clarify, it's not that they don't have parties. They do. We have a birthday dinner, where the birthday boy (or person; the adults get it too) gets to pick what they want for dinner. We have the cake of their choosing (C chose German Chocolate this year...yummy, but very very rich), ice cream (or in some cases, ice cream cake...very convenient), and presents. It's just a family thing. The kids, me, grandparents, and D when he's home for it. We keep it as a family event, mainly for the reasons listed above, but also because it's just nice to have it as a family event instead of turning it into some big, materialistic, can we spend more money then they did monster. We even have a $20 limit on the gifts. I am trying very hard to make sure that my kids don't turn into materialistic little snobs, and I think keeping their birthdays as a family event is one way to do that.

I'm not saying that my friend's daughter will be a materialist snob, my friend and her husband are much more levelheaded than that. And I know not all kids turn out that way. But so many people today seem to think that birthdays and Christmas are all about what you get and it becomes a competition to see who gets the best stuff. I want my kids to realize that these events, and all holidays like that are supposed to be about family, and friends, and celebrating an event, not spending money and getting stuff.

I am still very much in shock over this particular birthday. I'm not sure why exactly. Nine is not a milestone birthday, at least as far as I know. Next year, when he turns 10 (I really don't want to think about that!), that's a milestone. When he turns 13, or 16, or 18, those are milestones. Then of course, there's 21. Really, even 25 kind of counts. But this year, turning 9, there's nothing super special about that. And yet, more than any other birthday so far, I'm having trouble accepting it. When he turned a year, I was shocked, but I was also super excited, because it was his first birthday, so I guess the shock was kind of blunted by the excitement. I just can't believe he's 9 now.

I've reached that point where my birthday is really kind of just another day for me. The only reason I got excited this year (when I turned 31...which I would like to forget) is that D was home for my birthday. That made it special. Going out to dinner with him and spending time alone with him made it special. Otherwise I wouldn't have really cared. I'd have had my birthday dinner (stuffed shells) and cake (ice cream cake) and my babies gave me my gifts (little bath soap sets), but it wouldn't have been a big deal to me.

C was excited for his birthday. In fact, he got mad when he realized (on Thursday) that it wasn't yesterday, but in fact, today. He was ready for it.

J broke the nosepads off his glasses Thursday night. So after school yesterday, we had to go get them repaired. As I was driving home from this, with the boys fighting in the backseat, the song "Then They Do" by Trace Adkins came on the radio. I was listening to the song, and I kind of got teary, what with C's birthday today and all, and it occurred to me that their Sperm Donor not only probably doesn't remember that C's birthday was today, but probably couldn't tell you how old he turned either.

I used to feel bad that my boys had a "father" that didn't give a crap about them. I felt bad for my boys, felt that they were missing out on something. This year, I don't feel that way. Part of it is D. He's stepped in and wholeheartedly embrace the fact that my kids and I are a package deal, a ready made family. He has no issue with stepping up to put the boys in their place if they do something wrong, or doing family things with us, helping with homework, or thinking of us as a family instead of just a couple.

I've always believed in the statement that any male can be a father, but that it takes a real man to be a dad. But given that for the last 6 yrs, the only male figure in their lives was my father, I felt bad that their "father" didn't do more. My dad is great, don't get me wrong, but he's Grandpa. He does a lot for them and with them, but he shouldn't have to act as their father. So when D met my kids and easily found a relationship with them in which he steps into a somewhat parental role, and they so easily accepted him in that role, it made me fall all the more in love with him.

I've always tried to teach the boys that family isn't just about blood. I have uncles who are absolutely no relation to me at all. They are just incredibly close friends of my parents, but to me, they are uncles because I have always been able to count on them. One of those uncles was my ex's best man at our wedding; he informed my ex that if he ever hurt me, my uncle would hunt him down and kill him. He's not followed through on that threat, but that's only because we won't tell him where to find my ex, and he knows I don't want him in jail over my ex.

I have friends that I've known for years, and even when we've lost touch, I still consider them to be like sisters to me. We're just that close.

These are things I've tried to teach my sons. And to meet a man who also understands that is such a wonderful thing. It's...comforting to be with a man who understands that family is not about being able to trace a bloodline, but about love, and commitment and loyalty. And yes, I do consider D to be a part of my family now. He has become a very important part of my life, and I would do for him what I would do for any member of my family: anything. He comes second only to my kids.

Back to my original point though (if I can find my way back to it), SD made no effort to contact C for his birthday, as usual. He, I'm sure, doesn't even realize it's his birthday. And that's fine. I've finally realized that my kids don't need him, in any way, and they will not suffer in any way because he's not around. Between me, D, and my parents, they will have enough love, enough male influences, and everything they will ever need. There is nothing that he can provide for them, nothing that he can do for them, that I, D, or my parents can't provide or do. And the boys will never miss what they don't know.

One day, SD will realize what he's lost. He'll realize he missed out on the chance to be a father, to make a mark and be an influence in someone's life. He'll realize he had that chance, and that he chose to step back, and instead someone else stepped in and gladly took on that role. He'll know that another man was happy to be a dad to my sons, and loved my sons even though they weren't his blood. And SD will have to live with that. One day, he'll be a bitter, lonely old man with no one to care about him or visit him or talk to him, because he'll have chased everyone away. And he'll have nothing else to do but reflect on the fact that things could have been different, if HE'D been different.

Maybe that's why I'm having such trouble with the idea that C is 9...maybe it's that realization that C, and J as well, are growing up so fast, and that someday they will be adults and have their own lives. And all I will have left of their childhoods is memories. Maybe I actually feel a little sad that SD won't even have those memories. I don't know that I'd say I feel bad for him, but maybe...maybe it's that I know that the opportunities to make those memories are fading fast, and I want to grab hold of as many of them as I can, and as tightly as I can. And I feel...sad that he doesn't have that same urge, and won't until it's much too late.

Ok, enough depressing thoughts for one night. Off to bed.

Happy Birthday, C!

February 24, 2010

Ugh...I'm having one of those weeks, I think

So my friend Caroline's son, who happens to be friends with C & J, is having surgery tomorrow. On his eyes of all things. I don't know all the details, but the basic story is that he was a preemie, something is up with his eyes, and they have to snip the muscle between the eyes. She is freaking out, and broke down in front of him the other night, which of course made him freak out. She's a very strong woman, so I know she will be ok, but I'm still worried about her.

We stood around talking for a bit this morning. Somehow, in talking about surgery, school, teachers, and bullies, the conversation came around to the fact that D & I are planning on moving in together. In the course of this conversation, I mentioned that D is a truck driver and has just changed companies. Someone else joined our conversation, but at the worst possible time. She joined just in time to hear me mention how much money D hopes to make (thankfully I gave a lowball figure, lower than he actually gave me, or I'd be in even bigger trouble right now), but not in time to hear all the whys of changing companies.

You see, he changed companies partly because they were just screwing him over in general...or I guess maybe that's the most basic explanation of everything. He was getting crappy loads, not making any money, and frequently owing them money for the "pleasure" of hauling their loads. He was buying his truck, which meant he had a truck payment to make, and was responsible for any repairs and problems the truck had. Basically, he was broke, working pretty much for free and miserable. There was no way we'd be able to get a place together, even if I found a great job.

So, he found another company. One that he could be a company driver, which means no truck payment, and no responsibility for the repairs and problems. He'll make more money, because driving their truck means they will make sure he gets a load.

But...the person who joined our conversation simply heard what D hopes to make and saw dollar signs. Now, in my defense, I DID try to tell her why she shouldn't get so excited. She was determined to go home and tell her unemployed husband to go to trucking school. I tried to tell her that D has several years of experience, and therefore gets a higher pay rate, but she didn't want to hear that. I tried to tell her that as a new driver, he's probably going to get stuck working for a crappy company (like the one D worked for), and he'll make no money, be miserable, and gone a lot. Didn't want to hear it. I told her how he'll be gone for weeks at a time, and only home a few days, and that if she thinks he doesn't help with the kids now (she complains he's lazy), just wait til he's gone 3 weeks, and home for 3 days, 3 days during which he wants to sleep, and has to clean out the truck, take care of things that he can't take care of on the road, and is not really in the mood to go do anything. Her response was to tell me that I deal with that.

Which was when I tried to explain that D is not my kids dad, and therefore is not responsible for helping me take care of them. Yes, he does help me when he is here, but that is his choice, not something I asked him to do. I am glad he does it, I appreciate it, I'm glad he wants to take on a role in my kids lives, but it is not something I forced him to do. And I don't push him to do anything when he's home, except to spend some time with me, and naturally, the kids, since locking them in the closet is illegal. :) In seriousness, though, I also tried to tell her that yes, I deal with it, but not as well as she seems to think. I told her if she asked D, he'd probably tell her that I drive him nuts with all the "I miss you" and "I wish you were home". And I go in and wake him up a million times and get frustrated when he doesn't want to get up. I understand he's tired, but that doesn't mean it's not a little frustrating.

I also pointed out that I did a considerable amount of laundry for him, much more than you would do on an ordinary basis if he were home everyday. Now, don't get me wrong: I offered. He tried to refuse ("You're my girlfriend, not my slave." I know that, silly, now hand over the stinky socks). I did it because I love him, but it's still a lot to do, especially when he's only home for X long, and you have to hurry up and get it done otherwise he's screwed and leaving with stinky socks and dirty underwear. I'd rather not think of my boyfriend wearing yucky undies, thank you.

Again, she says I'm dealing with it, so she can too. Gritting my teeth, I at this point try to remind her that this is how my relationship with D has been from the very beginning: I knew even before we started dating that he would be gone much more than he was here. I made the choice to move forward anyway, because I love him and I want to be with him, even if that is only a couple of days a month. I can live with that, because I've never known it to be different. Do I wish it were different? Of course. But D wishes he could win the lottery. We both have wishes that will probably never come true. That's life.

She's lived with her husband the entire 10 years they've been married. According to her, they've never spent a night apart. And...she thinks that her hubby can be home every night. Uhhh...did you miss the part where I mentioned how this last time D was gone for 5 weeks? While admittedly, that was longer than usual, it wasn't longer by much. But no, she thinks her hubby will be different. I tell her that if he wants any shot at all of making the kind of money D hopes to make, he has to be over the road, and that means being gone at a minimum of 2-3 weeks, but she doesn't want to hear that. Whatever.

She somehow came to the conclusion that the reason I don't work is that D takes care of me. Ummm....nope. I don't work cause I can't find a damn job. D and I have discussed the possibility that if he makes enough, I might not have to work. But it is not something I am counting on. Frankly, I feel weird even considering letting my boyfriend support my kids and I like that. Tried to tell her all that. Didn't do any good. She thinks she can get her hubby on the road and be able to quit her job.

I give up. I tried my best to get her to see reason. She only wants to see $$$$. So, ok, send your hubby off to trucking school, let him hire on with a really crappy trucking company that doesn't pay for crap, treats him like a slave and leaves him sitting at truck stops for hours, or even days on end. And when you come to me, months from now, to say I didn't warn you, I'm grabbing Caroline, and we're both going to stand there and say that yes, I did tell you so.

I did have one good thing happen this morning though. Well, good for my family, not so good for someone else. There was a little boy that C was friends with back in Kindergarten. A little boy that C often got into trouble with. Fortunately, it didn't take long into first grade for C to realize that this child was trouble. And the school assisted me in separating them.

I just found out this morning that this little boy has become quite the bully. Pushing kids, hitting, smacking, tripping, yelling, making fun, teasing, anything and everything. You name it, this kid is doing it. He's been suspended a couple times.

I'm so grateful that C has realized that this kid is not the kind of kid he wants to be friends with. When I think of what kind of trouble C would be in right now if they'd stayed friends...well, I'd rather not think about that.

I think I'm off to bed now. Hoping to hear from Caroline tomorrow afternoon that her son came through his surgery without a hitch.

February 21, 2010

Laundry...pretty sure I hate it

Doing dishes was always the bane of my existence. I despised them. Laundry ranked right up there after dishes. Then I got a dishwasher. I no longer despised dishes. Heck, I loved dishes. Now, laundry has moved up the ranks to the top of the list.

I don't mind the whole loading the washer, switching to the dryer part. That's the easy part. It's the whole fold and put away part that makes me crazy. It's so...tedious and boring. I mean, not that my life is just teeming with excitement or anything. But I'd just rather be reading, or taking pictures, or playing with the kids, or hanging with D when he's home. Not doing laundry.

And then this last week...I did so much laundry that I think the washing machine thinks we're getting married. I did my laundry, the boys laundry, D's laundry, and then mine and the boys again. D has so many socks that I think he could open his own sock store...well, if there is such a thing as a sock store. Is there? Maybe I should check into that. See...this is what I'm talking about: the excitement in my life is thinking I should research the potential existence of sock stores...and laundry is boring.

Seriously, though, if socks could procreate, D's would be bunnies. In fact, I'm not entirely sure his don't. They might very well be in the back of the truck doing all kinds of dirty little things to each other. I'm picturing D driving down the road, a little Marvin Gaye "Let's Get It On" on the radio (although why D would listen to that when I'M not there is questionable, but I digress) and the socks are hooking up:

Sock #1: hey, cutie! Wanna mate?
Sock #2: Are you gonna call me after?
Sock #1: Sure. After we get washed and dried, sure.
Sock#2: Uh-huh. I've heard that before. You're going to go thru that hole in the back of the dryer and disappear.
Sock #1: No, baby. I wouldn't do that to you. I love you.
Sock #2: Ok. But what if little socks come from this?
Sock #1: Oh, that can't happen. I can't have little socks.

And that's as far as I got with that conversation. That was when I finally fell asleep. See...I don't sleep well when he's not here. I sleep, but I wake up constantly. I fell asleep around midnight, then was up at 1 til 1:30, then up at 3 til 3:15ish, then up at 5 til 5:45. Then I got up at 7 for the day. So, yeah, sock conversations are still running through my head. Sorry about that. I definitely need to sleep.

On a completely unrelated note (or kind of related, I suppose, in an odd way)...have you ever noticed how sexy it is to watch a grown man interact with a child? As I mentioned yesterday, D took the boys for a ride in the truck. We met up at a truck stop for this. The boys must hold my hand when in a parking lot, or at least the hand of an adult in our group. So, first J wanted to hold D's hand, and then later, C wanted to hold D's hand. I don't know if the fact that he's not their father makes it more so, but it was just so sexy and sweet to watch him holding their hands. If I'd had my camera (which I intended to take, and then completely forgot), I would have taken pictures. I didn't think I could fall more in love with him, but I did. There is something about watching him interact with my kids that just gets to me. I don't know...maybe part of it is the complete lack of involvement and interest from their sperm donor. Knowing that D actually takes an interest in my sons and wants to interact with them and take on a role in their lives means a lot.

But...to get back to my original point. Laundry. Specifically, D's socks. Seriously, when I was matching and folding his socks, I could have used them to create a fake him in the bed. I get why he needs so many, but wow, it's a lot. He made the comment that you can never have too many socks. I informed him that when I'm the one folding them, yes, you can.

It's kind of odd. I hate laundry. I try to get it all done in one day so that I don't have to think about it all the time. But when I was doing D's, I didn't really mind it so much. I mean, it was just as boring and tedious as ever, but for some reason, I almost enjoyed it. I wouldn't call it fun, exactly, but it was...nice.

I still hate laundry, though. Don't think that has changed, because it hasn't. I still say someone needs to invent something that will fold and put the clothes away for me. Once that's done, then cleaning the bathroom can move to the top of the list and well...I'll just make the kids clean that, and my life will be perfect. Well, nearly perfect anyway.

Ok, I think I should go sleep now. Clearly I need it, since I think not having to clean the bathroom would make my life perfect. Good night.

February 20, 2010

Here and there...little notes of the past week or so

So D got home super late Monday night. He's been looking for another job (I think I may have mentioned this previously). He'd finally begun making some very hopeful progress with a company, so he was kind of hanging around, getting things done, but hanging around in hopes of being able to turn in his truck with the current company and start with the new one. Turned out to be the way to go. When he left today, it was to turn in his truck and head to start with the new company.

So, after a much longer separation than I like, I had more time with him than usual. Although it did make it much harder to let him go today, it was wonderful to have that extra time. He thinks I will sleep better without his snoring...he doesn't know (well, I suppose he might when/if he reads this) that I sleep for crap when he's not here. It's really rather ridiculous, but his snoring actually is almost like a fan running for me. His snores are white noise. Or maybe it's his arms around me that help me sleep. Or his warmth. Or just knowing he's there. Who knows? Ok, enough oversharing.

So, while he was home, I didn't really get online much. I paid a bill that came due and that was about my limit. I like to spend as much time with him as I can. Computer goes way down the priority list when he is home. In fact, everything but the kids goes way down the priority list when he's home.

We did have some interesting happenings this week, though. One of which...I am still trying to wrap my brain around. C & J had tipped C's bike up on it's handlebars, so the wheels were up in the air. They were spinning the back tire and skinning clumps of dirt on it, when one of them got a "brilliant" idea. One of them decided that J's...manly parts, shall we say, should be put on the tire. I'm still trying to figure out how this came about.

J: Hey, let's put my peepee on the tire and see what happens!
C: Cool! Let's do it!

C: Hey, I have an idea! Why don't you put your peepee on the tire. I bet that'll be really cool.
J: OK.

Either way, I know the end result: J comes crying, clutching his goodies like he just got kicked a good one, and sits in my lap for the next half hour, continuing to clutch the boys like they're going to fall off if he doesn't. He ended up with some nasty looking bruises, but luckily, it's not broken. Not that I'd know if it was, cause...well, I don't have one and wouldn't have the first clue how to know if it was broken or not. In fact, I sat there holding him, wishing D or my dad or even the Fedex guy would show up to assure me he'd be fine.

I just wish I could understand what on earth made them think that was a good idea.

And then there was yesterday, when C proved himself to be utterly, completely MALE. He wore dress pants to school, with a nice button down shirt. He had a belt on, because as always, his pants were a bit too loose. Apparently, while at school, the belt broke. So, how did he keep his pants up? A zip tie! Yes, really. He used a zip tie to keep his pants from falling down around his ankles. With dress pants, no less. D joked that he wanted a paternity test because it sounded like something he would do, and my parents both almost fell out of their chairs laughing when I told them.

Before D left today, he took the boys for a ride in his truck. Quite a long ride, too. Thrilled them to no end. J kept complaining of boredom, but when we got home, all he could tell his grandparents about was the ride. They were both fascinated by all the trucks at the different truck stops we stopped at, so they could switch seats and each have a turn up front. They were amazed at all the things on the dashboard, and thought the oddly placed (to them, anyway) window in the door of the truck was really cool. He honked the horn at one point at a car, and they both thought that was really awesome, too, although they tried to play it cool in the truck. It wasn't until we were in the car on the way home that they gushed about that. How loud it was, how cool it was, how they didn't know what that car did but they were sure it deserved to be honked at. I'm sure D will be pleased to know they are firmly on his side in that situation, even when they're clueless.

So, now, here I am. Saturday night, with two or possibly three weeks ahead of me. The first few days after he leaves are the hardest. It gets better the longer he's gone, but I strongly suspect that is more a matter of I begin getting excited that it's closer to him being home again than anything else.

It's really kind of funny. When I was married to my ex, if he'd been a truck driver, we'd probably still be married. I couldn't stand being around him, so him being gone 2-3 weeks at a time, or more, would have been ideal. Now, with D, it drives me nuts. I want time with him, I almost crave it. He was home nearly a week, and it still doesn't feel like enough time. We've only been together just over three months, but in that three months, he's become my best friend, and I love him more than I've ever loved anyone else in my life, with the exception of my children. But that's a totally different kind of love, so there's really no comparison there.

And now I'm on the phone with D, so I'm off now.

February 16, 2010

*sigh*...killing time...

So, here it is, a quarter after midnight. I'm up. Why? Because I'm waiting for D to get home. He's finally getting home again after, umm...5 & 1/2 weeks? Roughly that, anyway. I don't know exactly, I just know he's been gone and I've been missing the hell out of him and he's almost here. He's so close I can almost taste him (hmmm...that didn't quite come out the way I intended, so please clean up your mind so that you'll see how innocently I meant that!).

The boys are in bed, sound asleep. Well...one's in bed sound asleep, one's on the floor sound asleep. Don't ask me. They both started the night in the bed. Somehow, they migrated. In their sleep, no less. Didn't even wake up. Just somehow...slithered to the floor. They were both on the floor at one point, but then one had to potty and got back in the bed. And...you really didn't want to know about their potty habits, did you? Sorry, it's late, and I'm tired, and missing D and excited and well...I tend to overshare a bit when you combine all those things.

I talked to my grandmother today. My will-be-80-next-month grandma. I love her to death. She and my grandpa have been married for 61 years. Talk about inspiration. We talked about a bunch of different things, but one thing was said that scared me. And it's not so much what she said but how she sounded when she said it. Her brother has cancer. It's been determined to be Agent Orange related, meaning the VA is covering it. It started out in his lungs, he had surgery and chemo and went into remission. Now it's back. And it's spreading. Now, about 5 years ago or so, her other brother died of colon cancer.

I was working as a phlebotomist in the hospital he was in. My grandma asked me to go see him on my lunch break, and I naturally agreed. When I got to work the next morning, I saw his paperwork on the board. The night shift had had difficulty drawing him, so though I was new and rather inexperienced, I decided to go give it a shot, and see him. I still intended to go see him at lunch, but figured I'd go above and beyond.

There are a lot of things I've done in my life that I was later glad I did. But this, by far, is the one thing I am most glad that I did. He was dying when I went in. He had no idea who I was, who my dad was, or even my grandma, his sister. Less than an hour after I left his room, he was gone.

I was the last member of our family to see him alive. I was the one who had to inform my parents of his passing, which was the hardest thing I've ever done.

So, in talking about Uncle David (the brother who currently has cancer), thoughts of Uncle Dick (the one who already died) often come into everyone's minds. When she mentioned David today, she said "Things aren't looking good."

Now, this news was not a shock to me. She'd called yesterday and talked to my dad, and he'd told us the cancer was spreading and things don't look too hopeful for him at this point (although we are all still hoping for the best). But it was her voice when she said it. Her voice shook. Not old-lady shook. Shook like absolute fear shook.

My grandma is afraid. What scares me is not knowing what she's afraid of. Is she afraid David will die, leaving her as the only member of her original family? Is she afraid of her own future death? My great-grandmother, her mother, was 79 when she died. 52 days before her 80th birthday, according to my grandma today, a fact which my Uncle Mark shared with her. In his quest to make her feel better, he pointed out that she'd already passed that 52 day mark. This did not seem to make her feel better. Thanks, Uncle Mark. I love you, but right now I could shake you.

I hate thinking that my grandparents will be gone one day. I was fortunate enough to have my great-grandmother (my grandpa's mom) until she was 98 years old, although she did have alzhiemers and was pretty much blind AND deaf toward the end, so she really wasn't herself anymore. My grandparents are both pushing 80. I'm in my 30s, and the majority of my friends lost their grandparents not much later than high school.

I'm veyr much aware of how lucky I am to have had my grandparents this long, and that I am very lucky to get whatever time they have left. But that doesn't mean I don't wish that it could be put off indefinitely.

And wow...this was so totally not the direction I intended this to go tonight. Again, that whole tired, excited, missing, blah blah overshare thing. Sorry about that.

Ok, only another half hour or so till D calls and tells me he's on his way here. How to kill another half hour? I'll find something. Even if it is sitting here and bouncing until the phone rings.

February 13, 2010

Facebook and MySpace...I don't know why I use them

I have both a Facebook profile and a MySpace profile. The main reason I have them is to keep in touch with family and some friends that are not nearby (and a couple of friends that are nearby).

I've had ex-boyfriends from high school find me on these sites, and want to add me as a friend. It is beyond me why they would want to be friends, since generally we weren't friends before the relationship and we didn't stay friends afterwards. Depending on the ex, I sometimes add them and sometimes don't. And sometimes I add them, and then delete them. Not sure why I do that. I also get friend requests from people I used to be friends with and then stopped being friends with for one reason or another. My favorite is the friend who allowed (still allows? I don't know) her new husband to molest her daughters from a previous marriage. I don't know the entire story, most of it is rumor in fact, but there is enough truth in what I heard that I know I don't want to be friends with her.

But anyway...I got curious today. I used to work for this really great company, and had a group of about 3 really great friends among a group of about 10 of us that used to go out on Fridays and hit the bar at Chilis (I was underage, my friends would occasionally buy me drinks anyway, but that was not the sole reason we were friends). I lost touch with them years ago, around the time I got married.

I decided today to look up the one friend whose full name I could remember. I can't find her. She was older than me by about a decade, I'll admit, but still...my parents (well, Mom anyway) have a Facebook. So she should (ok, yes, I know, not everyone has one. But this is my fantasy world, and in it, I dictate that everyone I might wish to look up should have one). Nor does she have a MySpace apparently.

I've considered the possibility that she got married and therefore changed her last name. This is a very real possibility, as the last time I talked to her she was living with a boyfriend, and they were throwing around the idea of getting married. Problem with this is that I can only remember Boyfriend's first name. And it's a very common name, so I can't really look him up in hopes of finding her.

So here's my question...why is it that people I don't really want to talk to, and in some cases, kind of hoped had fallen off the face of the earth, can find me, but I can't find someone I DO want to talk to? How is this fair? Everyone I hate can find me, but I can't find someone I like? Seems like a real rip off to me.

Sometimes I think I'd be better off if I just deleted them both. But then I wouldn't be able to keep in touch with my family and I'd be less inclined to keep in touch with some of my friends. So, I guess I'll just be grateful that no ex-boyfriends or other non-friends have tried to find me recently.

February 12, 2010

Big Oops (also known as open mouth and insert foot)

So, D gets upset with me when he thinks I'm not talking to him. I think, after last night, though, that he might be finally getting that it's not that I don't want to talk to him about stuff, it's just that I really suck at it. I tend to say things that are either really stupid, or that come out in a completely unintended, and usually screwed up, way. To fully understand the oops I made last night, I have to go back a bit and explain how D & I actually met and what happened before that.

So, we all already know that SD was a total loser who treated me like absolute crap and really messed up my self-esteem and left me with massive trust issues (which I am working very hard on eliminating, by the way). Well, there's one other ex you need to know about to really understand just where I was when I found D (yes, I found him...not the other way around).

When I was 17, I worked in a grocery store where I met this really cute, quite a bit older guy. He crushed on me just as hard as I crushed on him (granted, being 17, it was mostly, well...lust, but hey, I was 17!). Over a 4 year period, we had a very rocky, very confusing, on and off (but mostly off) relationship before I met and married SD. About a year ago, I got the really brilliant idea to look up this particular old boyfriend, since I'd always remembered him as being really great. He'd always kind of been like the fantasy guy that everyone else had to live up to. Which was really the problem.

I found him in May of last year. We got back together...again. Only this time, at the advanced age of 30, I finally saw him for what he really was: an alcoholic with some serious mental instability going on. He's a really sweet guy, but he drinks too much and gets violent (never with me, but I think that is only because I was never physically there when it happened), and well...he thinks aliens are his best friends. He pushed too hard, too fast, for way more than I could or would give. He wanted to live together...then he wanted to get married...he wanted to meet my kids...he wanted to be their dad. All things that I really want, with the right guy, but just absolutely scared the sh*t out of me when he talked about them. I mean, seriously, he would bring up marriage and I'd ask him if he'd seen the weather report yet today.

The final straw was when he called me one Saturday night early in September to tell me he'd been in the hospital for the last week with pneumonia (that explained the total absence of contact). Naturally, I was concerned. Until I realized that he was seriously doped up on pain pills and drinking. When he started talking about how thoughts of me and my kids were the only thing that kept him from dying, I began to squirm in my chair. I was so uncomfortable with this conversation it was all I could do not to drop the phone, grab the kids, and run away to some deserted island or mountaintop somewhere where no one could find us. Then, he tells me that there are aliens on his front porch looking in the window at him. This was when I said, "I think we should see other people" and then promptly hung up on him. He's called a time or two since then, but I've avoided his calls and now that my number has changed, I no longer hear from him. Definitely cured me of my idealized fantasy of how great he was. I got over him pretty quickly...like as soon as I hung up.

So, given that little history lesson, you can see why I might be a bit leery of men. But yet...I still wanted to date. I wanted to find someone, someone I could eventually have that future with...the one that included marriage and being there for me and my kids. So, I decided to sign up on a couple of dating sites and just take things nice and slow and see what happened.

I signed up on one site in the beginning of October or the end of September. There wasn't really anyone on that site. So around the middle to end of October, I signed up on okcupid.com.

I got a lot of responses to my profile, but no one that really interested me. A couple of guys who were outright liars, which holds absolutely no appeal for me at all. One guy was so desperate he practically had the word "desperate" tattooed on his forehead with a flashing neon sign pointing to it.

I got bored one day and started searching the profiles. D's was the last one in the search list that day. I can't remember why (it was either because he was selective in who he responded to or he hadn't been contacted in over a week and okcupid wanted to suggest I send him an e-mail). In the search list, it shows you their picture, their age and location, marital status, and a little peek at what they've said. I read D's little bit, but didn't open his profile yet.

The next time I searched, his came up first. Different little peek, and I read it again, but still didn't open it. The thought that I had that time was that I was intrigued...which meant he must be crazy. I mean, look at my track record: a cheating loser and a crazy loser. Can you blame me?

The third day, I got him again. I saw a different little piece again, and this time it mentioned about being a truck driver. Well...he's not home much, so it wouldn't take too much time from the kids, and if he IS crazy, at least he's not here to be crazy, right? So, I moved the mouse to click, and left it hovering a moment. I hesitated to open his profile, thinking that although I couldn't have any idea what was going to happen, that somehow I knew this mouse click was going to change my life.

Then I clicked. I read his entire profile (D is quite the talker, both with his voice and with his fingers), and I laughed through all of it. I never got the creepy feeling I got from other profiles, didn't get annoyed, and somehow...didn't sense any craziness.

I moved the mouse to the send message button, and again I hesitated. Why did I keep hesitating? I don't really know. Mostly fear, I guess. Fear of rejection, fear that my incredibly poor judgement was about to make its presence known again, or maybe even more than the rest, fear that this time I might actually be making a good choice and that this might actually be it.

Finally, I clicked and sent him the first message. I tried to be kind of funny and light, and I'm not sure I did such a good job. But either I did, or he just didn't notice or didn't care, because the next morning I had a response from him, a positive response. I nearly bounced in my chair with excitement. My fears weren't completely gone, but at least the fear of rejection was somewhat lessened.

Over the next couple of weeks, we e-mailed and chatted through instant messengers, both on the site and off. We talked about a lot of different things. One night, he finally got up the nerve to give me his phone number and tell me I could call him if I wanted. I had been trying to get up the nerve to give him mine, and hadn't quite gotten there yet.

The next day I called him. His voice was amazing. He's got a very sexy voice. He probably doesn't know it, or wouldn't admit it, but he does. As we got to know each other over the phone, his intelligence became quite clear, which was yet another thing that got to me.

We finally met around mid-November, about three weeks or so after that initial e-mail. The first time I saw him I knew I would end up dating him. I didn't know how long it would last or how serious it would be, but I just knew we would be together. Our second date was the very next day. When trying to plan it, he commented, "I know I want more time with you than we had today." I think I started to fall in love with him when he said that.

Our second date was breakfast and going to the local museum. That was when I knew I was in love with him. He would hold my hand, he would stand close to me, he would kiss my forehead, touch my back, smile at me. So many little things that I don't think he really thought anything of, but really melted me.

So....all of that to tell you about how I really put my foot in my mouth last night. I don't recall how, but somehow we got on the subject of how we met. I mentioned how I had hesitated to look at his profile, and he made a comment about how it was nice to know he was my last choice. I think he might have been joking, but I'm not entirely sure.

I do know that I feel really bad, because I didn't mean it that way. What I meant by it was...well, I'm still not entirely sure how to explain it. It's almost like I knew that he was going to be more than just some guy I talked to online, or some guy that I dated briefly. And even though I've been looking for this kind of relationship, I was still scared of it. So, I hesitated.

Our relationship is, by far, the best relationship I've ever had. I don't get scared when I think about the future. If he brings up anything that even remotely hints at marriage or years down the road, it doesn't terrify me. In fact, it actually makes me happy that he thinks about things like that. I no longer feel the need to ask about the weather report. :)

I regret that hesitation now. I'm glad that I e-mailed him. I'm glad that I met him. He's made my life so much better, and I cannot imagine my life without him in it now. And he was NEVER my last choice. In fact, if I could change anything in my life at all, it would be to go back about 10 years, and find some way to meet D, instead of SD.

And yes, I know...this is all mushy. What can I say? He'll be home soon. I miss him. I can't wait to be in his arms and kiss him again. I'm allowed to be mushy. Right?

February 11, 2010

I'd forgotten about this...

So, I had to go to Walmart this morning. Second time in two days. Went yesterday to get new pillows and snacks for the boys Valentine's parties at school. Got the pillows; forgot the snacks. So I headed back over there this morning and got them.

Years ago, I worked in a grocery store. As shy as I am, I always made it a point to smile and be friendly to my customers. Apparently, my cashier this morning missed that lesson. She was not outright rude, but she never once smiled, never said please or thank you. In fact, the only words she spoke to me at all were "You can go ahead and swipe your card now" after she rang up the first item. I didn't say anything to her, but I wanted to tell her that she needed to be a little nicer. But, whatever.

As I was driving home, thinking about this experience, the local radio station I was listening to was having listeners call in and tell what the nicest thing a stranger had ever done for them was. I had to think really hard, because it's not very often anymore that a stranger does anything nice for anyone. And then I remembered.

When C was a baby, he'd gotten some kind of eye problem. I don't even remember what it was, just that it caused his eyes to be really goopy and yucky. SD and I were still together, we had two cars at that point. SD left me the cell phone we'd recently gotten and I was taking C to the dr. On the way, my car got a flat. I didn't have AAA or anything like that. I couldn't call SD because...well, I had the cell phone. I called my dad, but he was working about 3 hours away. I couldn't change the flat myself because I didn't want to put C in his carseat on the side of the road and I didn't want to leave him in the car while it was up on the jack. Oh, yeah, and there was also the fact that I didn't actually know HOW to change a flat. But that's just a minor detail; I'm sure I could have figured it out.

Anyway, as I'm standing here on the side of the road, freaking out, with C in my arms, this lady in a very nice car pulls over behind me. She gets out and asks me what's wrong. I explain that I have a flat and I'm waiting on my dad to come change it. She says she'll wait with me. I tell her that I appreciate that, but it's not necessary. She insists. I relent, because I don't want to be rude to this lady who's trying to be nice. She asks how long it will be until my dad gets there. When I tell her 3 hours, she says I can't wait that long with a baby. She grabs her cell phone and her AAA card, and calls it in, telling them that she's on the side of the road with a friend and her baby and we really need someone to get there ASAP.

As we're waiting, she asks me where C and I are going. I explain the goopy eye thing and how we're going to the dr. She tells me that she is a dr. She stood there on the side of the road and examined C, diagnosed him, and gave me a prescription for some meds that cleared it right up, saving me the expense of the dr visit. An expense we couldn't afford. She did all of this for me and C, and the only thing she asked in return was that I call her and let her know how we were in a couple of days. Which I did.

Almost 9 years later, I can't recall her name. I only vaguely remember what she looked like. What I do remember is that she went well above and beyond what any stranger would do for another person. I remember that without her, SD and I would have ended up a couple of hundred dollars in debt for a dr visit we couldn't afford, my dad would have lost time at work, and I would have been siting on the side of the road with a cranky, sick baby for hours.

When that tire first went flat, I thought it was the worst thing that could happen to me. It turned out to be the best thing that happened that day.

February 10, 2010

Follow Me

There have been a couple of different people and situations recently that have had me thinking of my ex. Not missing him or anything like that. But I have one friend who is in the midst of figuring out her marriage and whether it's worth staying (personally, I think no, but it's not me or my life, so...), and D is making changes to his life, and doing something he's been told he could never do for a very ridiculous reason(the reason he was given was ridiculous, not the fact that he's doing it. In fact, I'm very proud and excited that he's doing it).

I have always maintained that I would never badmouth my ex to C & J. Regardless of how I feel about him, unless and until D (or someone else...but I think I'm pretty much done. I think D's it for me) adopts them, SD is still their father. He may have treated me like absolute crap, and he may completely ignore their existence on this earth, but he is still their father. And I am always very careful to watch what I say about him when they are around. As they get older, there are certain facts about him that they will be told, facts that are very unpleasant but nonetheless true and they need to know. Those facts are not badmouthing him, they are a simple statement of fact. I don't play him up as a good guy, either, because that's not really true either. IF the kids ask, and that's a big IF, I simply answer their questions with facts whenever possible, and if I can't answer with fact, then I am careful to answer as neutrally as possible, so as to not make him sound better than he is or to badmouth him and press my feelings toward him on them.

But, my friend asked me the other day if I've ever regretted leaving him. The answer to that question is a resounding no. I NEVER once regretted that decision, I never once looked back and questioned it in any way. By the time I ended things, our relationship had deteriorated to the point that there was no relationship left to regret or even to try to salvage. We were two people who just happened to share a house and a bed and combined DNA in the form of one child and another on the way. There was nothing left to regret.

I'm not going to get into D's situation, simply because it's very personal, and I don't feel I have the right to tell the world. But between listening to him about his situation and my friend's next question, which was if I have any good memories at all of SD, I began thinking about SD and this memory is what comes to mind. In fact, I think of this every time I hear this song.

I don't remember exactly when this happened. I think it was before we got married, but it may have been after. It's very vague, probably because for the most part, I've gone out of my way to block a lot of the memories of my marriage. I can't recall if I was pregnant with C or if he was in the car with us.

But anyway...SD and I were in the car (the only car we had at the time, and one that only ran sporadically, leaving me at least terrified that we were going to be stuck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere, and we couldn't even afford a cell phone. We were going to visit his parents, two people who quite possibly hated me more than I grew to hate their son.

Uncle Kracker was one of SD's favorite artists at the time. The song "Follow Me" was getting quite a bit of airplay at this time and it was a particular favorite of SD's. It came on while we were stopped at a long red light. He started singing to me, waving his hand in front of me when it got to the part about "swimming through your veins like a fish in the sea". When he was done (he only sang part of it), he kissed me, a very sweet kiss. Part of what makes that such a good memory is the fact that it was such an ordinary thing - couples all over do this. My dad does this to my mom on occasion, I have watched some of my friends husbands do this, too. It was so ordinary, so normal and natural, not forced. Part of it, too, is that in that moment, it really felt like we were together. His parents couldn't stand me, but he (I thought) loved me and was on my side.

Now, yes, I am well aware that the lyrics of that song really could be interpreted as being about cheating. I am also well aware that at the time this happened, in all likelihood, he was cheating on me, had cheated on me, or was planning to cheat on me, or quite possibly all three.

But, I still choose to ignore all of that and keep that as one good memory. There are others, of course, because we did occasionally actually get along rather well. Unfortunately, the majority of them are tainted, by the lying, cheating, fighting, ignoring, or any of the other countless things he did. For example, the roses.

Again, I don't remember exactly when this was, I just know it was sometime between when C was born and I got pregnant with J. He was working full time, possibly even two jobs (it was rare, but he did occasionally), so that I could stay at home with C. One day, he came home from work with two dozen of the most beautiful purple roses. I have a tattoo which has a purple rose in it, so he knew I liked them. I was totally blown away by the generosity, the thought that I thought he'd put into it, and I even took pictures of the roses, so that even after they died, I'd still have them. Shortly afterward, it came out that he'd been cheating on me (again) and that he'd bought the roses out of guilt. Which is why I now associate roses with doing something wrong. If D brought me roses, my response would not be "Oh, babe, they're beautiful!" but instead "What the hell did you do and am I going to kill you or is my dad?" So, D, if you read this, remember...no roses. Any other flower is fine, but not roses. :)

So why do I choose to remember him singing to me as a good memory even though I could think of reasons not to? Well, it's really pretty simple. Some day, C & J may come to me and ask me if there were ever any good times between SD and I. By not tarnishing this memory with all the reasons why it shouldn't be a good one, I can honestly tell them yes, and have one memory to share with them. One that I won't feel the urge to add, "But he was (cheating, lying, whatever) so it really wasn't all the great" when I tell them about it.

So, that's my one really good memory of my ex. And the fact that it's really the only one should show exactly why I chose to end things. In the short time that D and I have been together, I have already gathered countless good memories of him: the first time we talked by e-mail, the first talk on instant messenger, first time on the phone, first time I saw him, our first kiss (and second, and third, and the fiftieth...yeah, I really like kissing him). The first time he told me he loved me is a very special memory. The first time he met my kids. Several of our phone conversations are favorite memories because of something discussed during them. If D & I broke up, and my friend asked me the same question about our relationship, my answer would have to be yes, I would very much regret it. Whether it was his decision or mine, I would be devastated and I would definitely regret it. I'm sure eventually I would move on, but it would not be the way I did when SD and I ended.

Ok, so that's all I have to say right now. Now, I'm off to support those I care about in figuring out their lives. And to tell my kids that I love them and they can do anything they want in life.

February 8, 2010

I do this every year...

I will confess up front that I am not a huge fan of Valentine's Day. Don't get me wrong, I'll celebrate it. But I just don't get why I'm supposed to feel so special to get flowers, chocolate, dinner out, whatever, on the same day when everyone else is also getting it. To me, those kinds of things mean so much more when done on an ordinary day for no other reason than that he was thinking of me and wanted to.

So, with that out there...every year, since C started school, they do the little Valentine's parties and card exchanges. C has been in school now for 4 years. By now, you'd think that I would remember this and buy the cards, right? Wrong. I never remember. Even when I'm reminded right beforehand, I still don't remember. I do my grocery shopping on Friday mornings after I drop C & J off at school. C reminded me as they were getting out of the car that I needed to get cards. Naturally, by the time I got to the store, I had forgotten. I find tomatoes and carrots to be more important, I guess.

So, now, today I have to take the boys to the store, get cards, and THEN come home and do homework and address all these cards. Now, fortunately, both of them are writing and able to read, so they can do the cards with little to no help or supervision from me. But, still...it's daunting. Between the two of them, there's about 40-45 cards to be addressed. My hand already hurts at the thought of all the writing they are going to be doing.

I also have to get them some kind of snacks to take in for the party. They'd like me to bake something. And with the new stand mixer I got for Christmas, it's tempting. But I'd have to bake soooo much (again, remember, enough for 40-45 people..well, kids). And I love my mixer and I love to bake, but that's just an awful lot of work to do for kids who may or may not eat whatever I make anyway. Plus, the school seems to change its policy almost daily on whether treats have to be prepackaged and unopened or not.

So, since I said that I'm not a big fan of Valentine's Day, you're probably wondering if I have plans for it. Well...yes, I do. Sort of. Not so much because of the day itself, but just because it so happens that D is hoping to be home for it. He's putting in for his home time today, and hoping to be home Friday. I'm not going to mention my plans, simply because he does have access to this, and I want to surprise him.

We're also hoping to take the boys to the zoo while he's home. They have no idea yet. I just felt this sudden urge to do something, to get out of the house and go somewhere as a family. And what better time to do that than when D is home? The boys have never been to the zoo. They've been to Silver Springs, and they've been to a local petting farm. But never the zoo. I'm actually quite excited, and definitely planning to take my camera. They both absolutely adore animals, and I'm so excited to see how they're going to react to seeing animals that up until now, they've only seen on TV. Granted, it won't be in their natural environments, but hey, I can't afford a trip to Africa or Egypt or wherever right now.

February 4, 2010

Following talent...

My friend Caroline has been trying, for about a week now, to convince me to sign J up for T-Ball ("it's free for first-timers this year!" she says), and C for baseball ("it's only $80!" she tells me). Aside from my financial situation, it kind of seems like a good idea, but also not such a good idea.

Both boys are the long and lean type. They have energy like nobody's business. I'd kill to have just a third of their energy (mainly so I could keep up with them!). Being outside, running, playing, riding bikes, these things are pretty much what they live for. Rainy days, super cold days are the end of the world for them; you could literally think someone died the way they act.

C has a good arm. He can throw a ball pretty far, and I think he throws like a boy (I wouldn't really know; I throw like a girl. What can I say?). The whole hitting the ball with the bat...well, we're working on it. J throws pretty far as well, but he's more into tackling, so I think he'd probably be better suited to football.

Here's my thing, though. I'm a very creative person. I've never been into athletics. Just not my thing. And I'm fine with it if it turns out that athletics are their thing. I used to write poetry and stories (I've lost my inspiration for that though.). Most people who read my writing think I'm pretty good at it. I'm also into photography. I can't draw a picture to save my life, but I can take one with a camera, and my family and most of my friends think I'm pretty talented.

My grandfather (my mom's dad) had an amazing ability with a camera. He could take the most incredible pictures of the most ordinary situations. He could also draw a picture. My mother has a picture that he drew of a log cabin in the woods. I thought that picture was a professionally done picture until my mom told me one day that my grandfather drew it.

The best compliment I think I ever received was when my mom was looking at some pictures I took one day and told me that I had my grandfather's talent with the camera. My grandfather died when I was only 4 or 5 years old, so I have very limited memories of him, but those that I do have are filled with love.

I think C has inherited my grandfather's drawing ability. Obviously, he's only 8 (I'm trying really hard not to think about how he's almost 9), so his work is still a little crude, definitely not perfect, and mostly limited to Spongebob Squarepants and lizards and the like, but what he does draw he does amazingly well. He also seems to have that same natural ability with the camera that my grandfather and I have. I let him take a camera on his field trip a few months ago and he took some photos that were really great, and on other occasions, he's swiped my camera and taken some good pictures.

Which is why, although I appreciate Caroline's enthusiasm and her wish to see my boys play ball and hang out with me while our 3 boys have fun, I think I'm not going to do it.

I think I'd rather encourage the talent that I see in C. He may be great at baseball. And if he wants to play, now or in the future, I will encourage and support him every step of the way. But he shows no real interest in it. His interests really seem to lie with drawing, and other more creative pursuits. I want to encourage that, support that, and know that he is truly enjoying what he is doing than to encourage him to do something that doesn't really seem to excite him.

Everyone has something they are passionate about doing. Those are the things that we most enjoy, and would gladly give up just about every other activity to do. C seems pretty passionate about his drawing, and I want to stoke that fire and keep that passion going. Maybe someday he'll become a professional artist. Maybe not. But I know he has the ability, and I'm going to make sure he doesn't waste it.

As for J...well, he's only 6, and we're still trying to figure him out. He likes to do a little bit of everything, it's impossible to narrow him down just yet. He, too, has swiped my camera and taken good pictures, so maybe that'll be his thing. Or maybe playing football and trying to break bones will be his thing (is it bad that I'm hoping it'll be the camera that he'll go for?).

Now I just hope I can explain all this to Caroline in such a way that she won't be upset with me. Maybe I can offer to come take some pictures of her son at practice to appease her? We'll see.

February 2, 2010

Has it really been that long?

This month, C turns 9. I shouldn't be surprised by this...after all, I was there when he was born. I remember the pain quite clearly, thank you. But still...it shocks me to realize that he is going to be 9!

I look at him, and sometimes I still see my little boy. My baby that I brought home from the hospital, stayed home with and took care of, and couldn't bear to go back to work when my maternity leave was up. The little boy that I stayed home with and then couldn't stand the thought of going back to work when my marriage ended and I had no choice.

Other times, I see little hints of the man he's going to be someday, someday sooner than I expect or want. His hands are already getting big, and getting the prominent veins that men often have. His face is starting to change too. Probably not in any way noticeable to anyone else, but I see it. He's nearly as tall as I am now, probably by his next birthday, he will be as tall as me, if not taller. His sperm donor was quite tall, as are my parents, but I am on the short side. I used to joke when he was just a baby that one day he would be taller than me, and now that day is almost here.

I also used to joke that I wanted to keep him little forever. I used to swear I was going to invent something, anything, that would keep him my little boy forever. Now, more than ever, I find myself wishing I could do that.

He's growing up way faster than I am ready for. This year he's 9, but soon he'll be 13, or 16, or 18, and I'm not ready. I mean, the first 9 years passed in the blink of an eye, so I can't imagine the next 9 are going to be any slower.

I'm so scared that I can't do a good enough job as his mother to keep him from making huge mistakes that will alter the rest of his life. I worry that he's got too much of his sperm donor in him, and will turn out like him. I know everyone says that the way I raise him is what really counts, but who really knows that for sure?

And yet, at the same time that I have all these fears and doubts, I also can't wait to see what kind of man he's going to be. I want to know what he will do with his future, who he will marry, what kind of kids he will have. Will he be a better father than his own was? I hope so.

I hope he's had enough good male influences in his life to make him better than his sperm donor. My father is a great man, and has always been there for me and the kids. I hope C has paid attention, and is learning from my dad. D has only been around a few months, but I hope he will be around forever. I know he is a lot like my father, and there is a lot about D that I hope C will learn from him about what a man should be. I've had a few male friends, but I've always been hesitant to bring them around the boys. Not only to avoid confusion over whether we're friends or more, but also because those friends are not always the best example of men. They're nice guys, but...sometimes they have issues. And unfortunately, my grandfather, uncles, and cousins all live in another state, so even though they are all wonderful men, they're not in positions to have any influence on my boys.

I've dated since my divorce, but not a whole lot. Part of the reason was that I didn't want to take time from my boys, part of it was that I didn't meet guys that I really wanted to date. After my divorce, when I realized I was going to be raising two boys on my own, trying to make them into men without any real clue how to do that, one thing I did know was that my relationships with men were going to influence my boys. The type of man I would bring home to meet my children would teach them what I think a man should be like, and I didn't want to give them the wrong impression by bringing home the wrong kind of man. Which is why it took 6 years and meeting D before ANY man met the boys. No other man met my standards for what kind of man I would want my sons to look up to. That's not to say I'm dating D just because he could be a good influence, because I'm not. It's just a great added bonus that he's the kind of man I would want my sons to look up to.

Sperm donor is a great example of the kind of guys I used to date (well, except for the whole cheating, lying, blah blah blah):fun to hang out with, intent on showing me a great time with concerts and nightclubs as our dates and not much more than that. Intelligence was a hit and miss thing, and the seriousness of the relationship often depended on how hard I wanted to push for a label. If I didn't push for a label, it wasn't very serious. If I did push, it either got serious or it ended. Either way, it was for the best, but I hated having to push.

Which is another reason I am glad I have my sons. They are the reason that I realized that I needed to change the kind of guy I date. I wouldn't have given D a second look before my kids, because he's gone so much, and he reminds me of my dad. I just never pictured myself with someone like him. Someone who works so hard, even if it's not worth it, who cares so much about everyone around him, who treats me the way a woman should be treated, who looks at me as more than just a girlfriend. He actually wants a relationship, something that can actually lead to a real, long-lasting future. Deep down, that was always what I wanted, but for whatever reason, I never really tried to get it. Without my sons, I might never have found D. I would have kept dating the same kind of guys and spent my entire life miserable and missing out on what I really wanted.

I can't believe C is going to be 9 this month. When I was pregnant with him, I remember wishing that he could be born already, because I was miserable with morning sickness and various pregnant aches and pains. My mom told me I shouldn't wish that, because once you have kids, the time flies by. I didn't take her seriously then, but I do now. I can still almost feel the weight of him in my arms as a newborn, I can still clearly see myself putting him in his bassinet, or crying right along with him when he was up half the night with an upset tummy or teething. And now, he's lost several baby teeth already, he often doesn't want a kiss goodbye or good night, and he already has the attitude of a teenager (those moments are when I most wish he was still a baby!). And J is not far behind.

As much as he will hate it, and as mad as he will get at me, I am going to grab C tonight and give him a huge hug and a kiss, and if I can get him to hold still long enough, I am going to hold him and pretend he's still my very little boy.