Friday, December 21, 2012

Endings, and floating around

Today is a day of many endings, or as I prefer to see them, beginnings.  It has been a long time since I feared an ending; I was always taught that in order for there to be beginnings and new things, other things have to end.

Though the world did not end today (though you could have fooled me with the snowstorm outside) it is the end of a Baktun in the Mayan calendar.  It is also The winter solstice, or yule, where the darkest part of the year is over, after that we start regaining daylight.  It is also my birthday in a few days, and the start of a new calendar year soon too.  As with most people, this time of the year gets me to thinking about the state of my life, am I where I want to be?

For the past few years I kind of chuckle when I think of this question, mostly at the thought that no one really close to me expected me to make it past 27.  I have a long history of depression, with suicidal tendencies, paired with a lot of really reckless behaviour during my teens and early 20s.  Put those two together, and it is the perfect recipe to die young.  I, and a lot of other people just assumed that one day the depression or the recklessness would get the better of me.  It really wasn't a negative thing, more of a sad acceptance thing.  I never really imagined myself past that age, so I didn’t plan.  I spent those years living like there would not be a « next year ».  I didn’t put much thought into what I wanted after 30.

Then for the past couple of years (28-30) I have been kind of floating by, seeing what would happen, part of me just happy to still be around, barely knowing where I am, let alone where I want to be.

In a few days, I’ll be 31, still young by most standards, though older than I ever expected to be. This year is different, I actually feel 31, I am on pretty solid ground and I know where I am in my life, even if this place scares the bejeezus out of me sometimes.  I feel like a grown up, I have a grown up job, and a family, and a partner.  I feel mostly secure in my « me-ness », I feel like I know who I am.  It’s like I’m in front of one of those « you are here » maps.

The question is, where do I want to go?  I know who I am, but not who I want to become, where I am, but not where I want to go.  I have a tattoo that id the runic symbol that means « voyages », I got it to remind me to never stop moving, evolving, or taking risks.  To not just take physical voyages, but internal ones as well.

So I guess that is what I’ll be doing for the next little while, taking a long look at all of the roles I play in my life, for myself and others, and trying to figure out the next plot line, the next story arc.  From what I see around me, looking forward and mapping out one’s life is second nature, for me it is a brand new experience.  I don’t expect, or want, to map out my life, but I do feel like I need a general direction.  I’m tired of just floating around

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Some random things I learned recently

Despite what people told me in my childhood, cobwebs ARE spider webs, not just accumulations of dust.  I’m sure the reason that they told me this was so that I would stop going all « ninja karate chop freak out » when I encountered them during spring cleaning, but still, not cool.  The thought that I have been nonchalantly brushing aside spider ass excretions for the past 20 years or so grosses me out.

At almost 30 years old, you would think that I am old enough to have finally grasped the concept of not licking/eating things that I am unsure of, but apparently not, as evidenced by the fact that I licked what I thought was a sprinkle off my hand, but it turned out to be dried soap.  In my defence, it was pink.

Being in a confined space with about 50 or so people dressed as Santa, but in spandex, is unnerving to say the least.  Still, props to the people raising money by participating in a Santa fun run.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Gifts and expectations

One of the best, albeit harshest rules I learned at a young age was that life’s not fair, and you can’t have everything you want.

My mom was young, uneducated, and single with no help, frankly  I’m pretty amazed that she succeeded in keeping us in basic necessities.  There was no money for things like video games, or even a VCR.  There are a lot of things that people around me take for granted that I never had, a washer and dryer in the house, a dishwasher, or an air conditioner.  My mom didn’t have a car, we took the bus.  There was only one thing that she always found money for, and that was books.  If I wanted a book, she found a way to get it for me.

To this day I still marvel at how convenient it is for me to just throw in a load of laundry whenever I fell like it.  No more having to plan out an afternoon at the Laundromat.  I still don’t have a dishwasher, or air conditioning, or cable.  My definition of necessary is very different from other people.

I remember one Christmas I got a TV, it wasn’t big, 15’’ I think, but I remember how happy I was to have my very own TV for my room.  Now I think about how much my mom must have scrimped and saved to buy it.

This may be the reason that I have so much trouble dealing with other people’s expectations of Christmas.  This year the BF and I have dealt with some pretty harsh backlash because we have said no to overspend on gifts, and stuck to our guns.  I think we’ve gotten to the other side of the gauntlet, but it has been a pretty rough ride the past couple of months dealing with everyone’s projected expectations.

The fact is this has been a very expensive year for us, what with the move, and getting the kids set up etc.  And we just don’t have the money to be spending hundreds of dollars per kid. 

The ex told us that she had decided to buy the boys Nintendo 3DS each and she wanted us to go in on it with her.  Of course she had not asked our opinion.  We said no, absolutely not.  My BF had bought the boys a Nintendo DS each for the birthdays last year, and sent them to her house with them, despite our usual rule about not sending things over there.  Within a few months, they had lost one and broken the other.  We saw no reason that we should help pay for new ones when we had already bought two.  We told her that we were keeping Christmas simple this year, no big gifts.  She kept bugging us until November.  We didn’t contribute, and she bought them anyways because that was what they wanted.  No thought about what they needed, or the consumerist message that there are no consequences for not taking care of things, just buy new ones.

Then in October, it was the eldest birthday.  He told us that he wanted the Skylander starter game.  We had already bought him a small gift, but we looked online to see how much the game was.  When we saw that it was 75$ for the starter pack, but then there were about 50 other characters to buy at 10$-20$ each, I said no way.  Especially for a video game.  My BF hesitated, wanting to make the kids happy, but quickly came to the same conclusion as me.  We had been working on limiting screen time for months, and this would not help.  We told him that no, we would not be buy the game, and we told him why, it was too expensive.  He wheeldled and cajolled and tried everything in his eight year old’s toolbox to convince us, and finally understood that it was no.

In the end my father in law bought it for him, and you know what, he appreciated it immensly.  He started to understand the concept that things cost money, and that things are not a right, or essential, they are just things.

The kids aren’t unhappy at our house without cable, or air conditioning.  Kids adapt to what you teach them to expect out of life, and while I wholeheartedly agree in teaching them to aspire to greatness and reach for the stars, I also plan to teach them that aspiration is not expectation.  That while you should strive for more, take time to apreciate what you have.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Love on its own is not enough

I was 19 and unexpectedly on my own for the first time.  My mom had moved away, and despite my dad’s family wanting me to move closer to them so they could help, I decided to stay where I was.  The reason…a guy.  Not just any guy, this was true love, The One, or so I thought at the time.  Within a couple of months, I had found my first « grown-up » job, in an office no less.  There I met my first mentor, everything was perfect.

She was smart, quirky, and exactly the kind of person I wanted to be.  She taught me how to navigate office politics, manage my time, and juggle priorities, most of all she let me learn.  I learned most of the skills that have allowed me to work as an admin assistant at that job, but the most important lessons she taught me were life lessons.  The first was that you really can be true to yourself, and do your own thing, and still find a place in society.  She taught me to compromise, but never to conform.  The other lesson was one that would save me a lot of heartbreak.

After about a year of working there, things were not so great with the guy I was with.  We were just too extreme.  We loved fiercely, and fought fiercely, everything was either really great or really bad, but we were in love, and at the time, I was young, and naive, and I believed that we would be together forever, because it was love, and when you are in love things always work out (at least according to the movies).

One day, after a particularly harsh fight with the guy, we had broken up, again.  We were in her office and she just said « you know, sometimes love isn’t enough. ».  I remember looking at her as if she were crazy.  She continued « I could meet some wonderful man tomorrow who makes me feel crazy head over heels in love, but I would be foolish to run off with him.  I love my husband, and more important, we have built a life together of common goals, values, and respect.  Love on its own is not enough to make a relationship work. » I replied « but relationships take work, it can’t always be easy » she said « there is a big difference between something taking work, and something being destructive.  A truly great relationship is when you both push each other to be better at being you, not trying to change the other person »

At the time I dismissed it, we were in love and would be together forever, end of story. 

About a month or so later, her words were still swimming around in my head.  Here was this woman whom I respected immensely, who had taught me so much and had yet to lead me in the wrong direction, telling me to let go of my one true love.  Could she be right?

Within a few months after that conversation, I left that guy, after two years of trying and failing to make it work.  I also left that job not long after, and moved to be closer to my family.  I have never regretted my decision to initially stay to be with him, mostly because if I hadn’t I would probably still be wondering « What if? ».

Her words have stayed with me ever since, and while I still love being in love, I never settled for just love, and I let go of the idea that things will work themselves out if you love each other enough.  Her lesson has allowed me to stay grounded in my relationships.  I wish I were still in contact with her, so I could tell her that I finally found my « great relationship » of love, respect, and common values and goals.  I wish I could thank her for putting a fork in the road of my life and helping me see the right direction.

Inspired by Mama Kat’s pretty much world famous writing prompts 12.10 - What did you learn from your best boss?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Monday, December 10, 2012

Sometimes parenting hell is worth it

We had a fun filled weekend planned.  Fun activities, Santa, the whole deal.  The kids however, had decided otherwise it seemed.  Instead of bouncy castles and the such, we got full fledged parenting hell.

First off, one of the boys decided that he didn’t want to do anything. Nothing at all.  Every request to participate in an activity, whether it was getting dressed or hockey was met with a no so fierce I almost expected father Karras to knock at the door.  The oldest, whether it was in solidarity to his brother or just plain rebellion, decided to do the exact opposite of anything we asked, all the while singing an annoying song over and over and over.  The youngest, usually my sunny princess, apparently decided to catch up on all the terrible two-ing she missed.

It was one of the rare weekends where the BF and I both kind of look forward to them going back to their mom’s, essentially, they were jerks.  Our patience was nearing its limit.

Sunday afternoon came, and it was time to go to my office’s children’s Christmas party, and we seriously considered not going.  Did we really want to show this side of our family to my colleagues?  In the end we decided to use the party as a last ditch effort to salvage some semblance of family fun this weekend.  So we bundled the grumpy kids (and adults) and went.  At first they were shy, reserved, and not talking to anyone, but the girl in charge of the event was great, and soon the kids were having fun.

Santa came and there were presents, they played, we rested.  Then the girl in charge brought out a parachute.  Almost all of us adults looked at eachother with knowing smiles, remembering the sheer joy we had felt when we were kids and someone brought out the parachute in gym class.

There were not enough children for all of the parachute handles, so the BF volunteered.  They were playing a game where one person is on top of the parachute, and one under.  Everyone else shakes and moves the parachute making it difficult for the person on top to see the person under.  The person under tries to avoid capture.  After my BF had had his turn under the parachute, and was to be on top, the organizer suggested that since I was so good at heckling/teasing my BF, I should take a turn under the parachute.  I, being a participator by nature, took off my shoes and got under the parachute. 

Our oldest, the one who had held out hope for so long, as all children of divorce do, that his parents would get back together, the one with whom we’ve had the most trouble, loudly and proudly exclaimed « Those are my parents playing, those are MY parents! ».  It was the first time he had ever referred to me, in public or private, as a parent, or as anything other than his dad’s girlfriend.  Then the youngest begged to replace her dad as the person trying to catch me, he conceded.  The middle boy, the one who had spent the weekend grumping and growling cheated and helped his sister catch me.  All the kids were laughing as I got up, brushing off my pants.  Then I looked up at the BF, and we smiled at each other while thinking the same thing, we are a family, and it was all worth it. 

It was one of those spontaneous moments where you know right down to your core that you are in the right place, at the right time, and doing the right things.  No matter how hard it is.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Mommy issues

Lately I have noticed that most of my writing, as well as my life, has revolved around my relationships with other women, my mother, my mother’s in law, etc. 

In the past, this has always been a subject that I pushed to the background, mostly because they were either painful relationships, or unimportant ones.  I have a few, fantastic, female friends, who for the most part I have been friends with for over half my life, but other than them, my relationships with women have been strained at best.

Lately, this has been changing, for the better.  I don’t know if there is some weird cosmic thing going on, but the dynamics with the women in my life have been dramatically changing, and while it is mostly positive, it has also been exhausting.  I am pretty good at adapting to change, but when I am in a period where many areas of my life are changing at the same time, I get tired, both physically and emotionally.  The fact that all of this is happening around the holidays does not help things.

That being said, it has helped a lot to write it and get it out there, even if no one reads it, its therapeutic.  So I guess this was all to say that for those of you who do read this, bear with me, there are a few more mommy issue posts comingJ.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Mothers and daughters 2

I took Friday afternoon off work and went to pick her up.  My insides were a pit of nausea and anxiety.  She looked much the same, but her voice had changed, much deeper and raspier than before, but she has been a smoker most of her life, so I guess it’s to be expected.  She got in the car and we headed to my place.  We chatted, mostly small talk about her trip.  Neither of us too sure of how to act.  We hadn’t seen each other in over 5 years, and before that visit was another five.  A lot had changed.

We got to the apartment and my BF had made lunch, so cute.  Clearly trying to impress his mother in law whom he had never met.  She was duly impressed.  We ate and then headed to my hometown, to see my dad’s family, none of whom she had seen in almost 15 years.  I hadn’t warned anyone other than my one cousin, I figured I may as well have fun with this, see the look on people’s faces.

They were all completely dumbfounded, seeing me with my mom in their town was probably the last thing they expected short of a zombie apocalypse.  The last stop before going home was to see my dad.  And this I dreaded more than anything.  They had both expressed a desire to see each other, for curiosity or old time’s sake, who knows.  All I knew was that having my parents in the same room was never a happy memory for me, and the last time my mom punched my dad.  Despite everyone’s assurances that they had grown up since then and water under the bridge yadda yadda, all I could see in my head was essentially a parental cage fight with some passerby yelling « finish him! »

Surprisingly, it went well, they talked about old times, about how foolish they had been, and how proud they are of me.  This was the first time I could remember seeing my parents smile while in the same room.  I took pictures to prove the event really happened.

Then we went back to my place for a quiet night.  I barely slept.  The next day she met the kids, we all had fun, and because the kids are awesome, she fell in love with them.  When the kids left we took her out for dinner.  Then another quiet night in.

She talked openly and honestly about her family, my childhood, and her life.  It was refreshing.  My BF would later tell me that he had always had a small lingering part of him that wondered if my childhood and family was a messed up and weird as I said it was (which is natural given that his ex is well known for her talents of exaggeration) but that having my mom there, saying all the same things was a relief, sort of.  On the one hand he was relieved that I had not overly exaggerated, but on the other hand, holy crap was my childhood screwed up lol!

On Sunday, when it was time to take her to the station, I was relieved that it had gone so well.  I was happy to honestly tell her that we would do it again.  Things had ever been so close to normal between us.  I watched her get back on the bus, and for the first time in as long as I can remember, I felt hope for us.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Mothers and daughters - Part 1

People who know me know that my mom and I have a difficult relationship.  I have seen her 3 times in the pas decade, one of them recently.  I have two main reasons for not being close to her, the first is that we are just not compatible; we have very different personalities and would not hang out together if we weren’t related.  The other is that my mom, until recently, was part of a dysfunctional and abusive cycle lasting at least three generations, a cycle I have been determined to break out of.

The first thing they tell a recovering drug addict or alcoholic is to avoid the people they used to associate with who were part of the habit/problem.  For me it was the same, if I wanted to break out of the cycle, I had to stay as far away (physically and emotionally) as possible from the people still in it. 

I come from a long line of women who got pregnant young, had severe daddy issues, and who were alcoholic and/or abusive to their daughters.  A quick summary:

My great grandmother: When she was young she came to Canada with her parents, her father then abandoned the family to return to Ireland leaving them to fend for themselves. Was furious and generally horrible to her daughter when she got pregnant at 15, attempting multiple times to get her to miscarry.  She would go on to treat her daughters with contempt for « dishonoring the family »

My grandmother: Got pregnant at 15 in the 50s by a married man.  This man divorced his wife and married her.  They were both alcoholics with severe mental health issues, him a paranoid schizophrenic, and her bipolar.  The got divorced, then remarried, then divorced again. He abandoned the family twice.  She never got over it, and never got treated for her mental illness.

My mother: Left home at 15, pregnant at 19 by a man whose divorce wasn’t final and she didn’t know had been married. Both alcoholics with substance abuse and mental health issues.  They never married, and I’ve never known my parents as a couple.

All three of these women were an important part of my childhood.  My great grandmother was only in her 50s when I was born.  My great grandmother was wonderful to me; I would only realize how she treated my grandmother once I was an adult, long after her death.  My grandmother and I were never close, but I loved her and learned from her mistakes as much as I could.  My mother, well, things were harder for us.

One thing I was certain of, I would not repeat their patterns.  I did everything possible to avoid unplanned pregnancy and became the first person in that family to finish high school in the normal timeline.  I started working as soon as possible to gain as many skills as possible to avoid having to go on welfare.  When I decided to break away emotionally, I cut off contact and moved closer to my saner family.  Throughout the years, my mother and I re-attempted contact a few times, but she had never really gotten her life together, and while I had forgiven her long ago, and I understood now that she had done the best she could with what she had and that she gave me all she could, I could not have that toxic cycle in my life, and I could not clean up her messes for her or watch her destroy herself.  She understood, even though it hurt.  She was proud in a way that I had the strength to break out.

A few years ago she started therapy, and started working on her issues in earnest.  She no longer drinks the way she did, and she has her life mostly under control.  She told me that the isolation I had caused her was a good thing because it forced her to focus solely on herself.

This past year my grandmother died.  It was hard for my mom, and my grandmother had many regrets, most of them regarding my mother and I.  When she was hospitalized, we were going through some pretty heavy stuff with the kids, and I made the decision not to go see her one last time.  We had not seen each other in over a decade, and had spoken on the phone for the first time in about 8 years a few months before.  I decided that I had to take care of my present family, I made my choice.  I explained it to my mom and grandmother, and my grandmother understood and even stood up for me to any other family members who made comments about my absence.  The only thing my grandmother asked of me was to see my mom, to try again.

I talked it over with my BF and he agreed.  She could come down for a couple of days.  My mom was overjoyed at the chance, and assured me that it would not be like before.  Nonetheless I was stressed in the week leading up to it.  I even broke out in hives.  I’d be lying if I said the thought of cancelling never crossed my mind.  But I am a firm believer in second chances, especially when they are earned.  She had been working on her life for almost three years now, it was the least I could do.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012



It’s funny the oddball places that you learn important life lessons.  I learned this one in elementary school choir.  I loved choir, and eagerly skipped off to every practice to sing my little heart out.  Unfortunately, I was terrible, to the point where once I was deemed old enough to not be completely destroyed emotionally (about 8) they kindly asked my mother if she couldn’t encourage me to quit. 

This experience taught me two important life lessons.  The first was that being passionate and devoted to something does not necessarily mean you will be good at it, we all have our limitations.  The second was how to sparkle on demand.

One of the first things the choir teacher told us was that you should never smile with your mouth while singing, as it can deform the pitch and note etc., so we had to learn how to smile with our eyes, and the rest of our faces.  She would say "don’t smile, sparkle".

It may seem silly, and a completely useless thing outside of singing, but it has served me well.  I had trouble with it as a kid, so I used to practice in the mirror.  I learned how to make my face look genuinely happy on demand.  The one thing that always gives away a fake smile is that the smile is limited to the mouth, the eyes and face don’t follow.  By learning to « sparkle » I learned how to control the rest. 

The first and most frequent use of this is pictures, I often get the comment that i am photogenic, that my pictures always look so happy, so sincere.  While a lot of them are moments of sincere happiness, some are sparkle.

The second use is less frequent, but in my opinion more useful.  I am prone to depression and anxiety, and when it’s just a mild attack, I consciously sparkle.  I make my face be happy when I’m not.  Numerous studies have proven that smiling on purpose helps people with depression since your body is apparently stupid and doesn’t always know the difference.  Also, when you sparkle, people are happier to be with you, which often results in good times and real happy smiles.

I’m not saying that it’s a cure all, but when it’s just depression tapping on my door trying to find a way in, sometimes the sparkle scares it away.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Monday, November 26, 2012


I’m just going to say it…I am NOT a Christmas person.  I never really have been, even as a kid I didn’t get all excited to decorate and the Santa at the mall always gave me the creeps.  It certainly didn’t help that my first 20 were with a highly dysfunctional family or that my birthday is the day before Christmas.

Because of my birthday being so close to Christmas, I’ve only had 3 actual birthday celebrations, my first, my 8th and my 16th.  My mom’s side of the family always did their Christmas gathering the 24th, so my birthday was pretty much ignored.  The holidays were pretty much comprised of family arguments, and my mom crying.  The result of this is while I don’t go all Bah Humbug, I can’t get myself to be excited or jolly at this time of year.

Since moving closer to my family, who are all very pro-holidays, I make an effort.  I respect the fact that as much I really don’t care, other people do.  I have even gone so far as to play Santa for the kids.  My BF, well, he is pretty much the same as me, his birthday being less than a week before mine.  If it were up to us, there would be no decorations, no obligations, just time to relax. 

Last year, things were easier; we didn’t live together, so other than being present, nothing else was really required on my part.  This year we had a dilemma, do we go balls out and fake it for the kids, or do we keep it minimal and risk the kids’ disappointment.

We gave it a lot of thought, and decided that faking it would send them two wrong messages.  The first would immediately reinforce the message that Christmas is about stuff and decorations, neither of which is in our values.  We are pretty minimalist, and try to focus on people and experiences rather than stuff.  The second message would be later in life when they are old enough to realize we were faking and that would send the message that you need to conform to what society expects, again, not in our values.

So I made a small tree out of tinsel that we will use to put the gifts under, and they have made some decorations that we will put up, and we will do to all of our Christmas parties where I’m sure everything will be Christmassy and merry.  We are letting other people buy them the big consumer items they want, we are sticking to smaller, more educational or useful items.  At home it will be minimal and all about the people and time spent together.  They may find the difference between our house and their mom’s to be huge at first, but in the long term I think they will appreciate the honesty and the traditions we will start together.  At least we hope so.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Precious moments

This morning I woke up, hit the snooze button, and spent the next few minutes relishing being in bed, alone, after a great night’s sleep.  I was fully aware that i twill be my last such morning for a while, probably January at least. I love it when you are actually aware of a moment being precious and you can relish it fully.

My relishing was abruptly ended with a fat cat jumping on the bed demanding to be pet, then the other cat, wanting his share of attention too, and at that point I figured that I may as well get up.

This past week has been pretty great.  After a weekend filled with people (my mom, the kids, etc) I got to spend the whole week alone and drama free, and I enjoyed every minute of it.  Other than the required texts related to picking up the kids tonight and planning the holidays, I had no contact with the Ex.  I spent my evenings either in super productive mode, organizing everything in sight, which is hard for me to do with other people around, or in total lazy mode getting into bed at 6pm snuggled up with the cats and a good book, but the wonderful thing was that I could do what I wanted.  Other than work, I had zero obligations this week, and it was wonderful.

Tonight I pick up the kids at their mom’s, tomorrow morning I have to get up at 5:30am for SS2’s hockey practice (Which thankfully his grandpa is taking him to so though I do have to get him up and ready, I don’t have to get all 3 up and ready and at the arena).  Then the BF gets home Saturday night and the following weekend the holiday parties begin.  From then to January i twill be rushing, and planning, and logistics hell.

But this morning, that few minutes alone, in silence, it was simply wonderful.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The giving of thanks

Here in Canada, thanksgiving is in October, but hey, my mom’s side is American, so I figure, why not, one can never be too thankful right.

My new year’s resolution was to try and be more grateful for what I have, and though I am far from perfect in this regard, I think I have much improved and I almost hate to say it, but all those people who claimed you can become happier by actively being grateful, they were right.

So here is my list of things I am grateful for

·         My BF, who really is the best possible partner/teammate I could have.  He may not be perfect, but neither am I, and together we usually bring out the best in each other.

·         My friends, though we have many miles between us, they are still just a text or phone call away when I need them or they need me.  Long distance friendships are more difficult to maintain, but for these gals, it’s totally worth it.

·         My step kids, who accepted me into their lives almost immediately and have given me a new purpose in my life,.

·         My Dad’s family, because I have never regretted moving back here to be closer to them.  They are an incredible support system.

·         My sister’s family, because they too have always made me feel a part of their family, especially my sister’s mom, who even though she could have easily been jealous, or even just ignored me, has said that she loves me every time I have seen her since I was 6 and always believed in me.

·         I am thankful that my mom has finally gotten her life mostly together and that we can be a healthy and positive part of each other’s lives.

·         My BF’s family, who have become another family for me.  They have all embraced me and my role in my BF and step kids’ lives.

·         My step kids’ mom, who even though she drives me absolutely crazy as a person, I have to recognize that I wouldn’t have my wonderful step kids without her.

I didn’t really have a plan when I started this post, but I do find it interesting that all of the things I’m thankful for aren’t things, but people.  It just goes to show that money and things are very low on the list of important things in my life now.  I wouldn’t want to give up money and things mind you, but I am glad to see that my focus has shifted to what’s really important.

I just love it when you unexpectedly learn something good about yourself J

Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Four more years

I have to admit, at first I didn’t pay as much attention as I usually do to the US elections this year because frankly, at the beginning, it seemed like a no-brainer for me.  Of course they would choose Obama over Romney, no contest.

Then, as things went on I honestly started to get more and more worried.  While one side of me was realizing that Romney may actually have a chance at winning, the other side kept saying, no way, they can’t possibly be considering this.

I admit, Romney has his good points, much like our own Stephen Harper, he’s good with money.  As much as I dislike the Conservatives here in Canada, I have no shame in admitting that Harper was the best choice to get us through the financial crisis.  The main difference is that in Canada, we are very attached to our individual rights, and no matter how much someone in power may want to, public opinion isn’t going to let them take any rights away once we have them.  It’s just the way we are, once we have fought for and won a particular right/freedom, it’s unthinkable for us that someone would take it back.

I guess you could say that I am very Canadian, though on my mother’s side, I am first generation Canadian.  You see, my mom is American, even though she has been living in Canada for over 30 years, she is proudly American and has never gone for a change in citizenship.  Her family is from the Bible belt, and even has a few soldiers in the US army.  I grew up knowing that I always had the option of moving to the states, and of becoming American, and my uncle still tries to convince me.  Alas, I am Canadian.

I completely agree that the economy is a priority in any country, and I sure love being in a thriving economy where my work opportunities are plentiful. In politics, as in life, I am a very liberal person.  I believe that as long as you’re not intentionally harming anyone, do what you want.  I don’t presume to know what other people should or should not do with their lives, and I greatly appreciate when people accord me the same respect.    

That being said, personally, if I have the choice of having a government that is so-so with money, but will uphold my individual rights and freedoms, and a government that is great with money, but will try and intrude into my personal family life, I choose the first, no hesitation.

Maybe it’s because I believe that it’s those basic freedoms that allow for me, as a woman, to have any sort of financial say in my life.  It’s the very basic rights that previous generations had to fight for, like voting, working, access to education, and reproductive choice that have allowed me to be an independent working woman at all.  Take all of those away and we go back to being stay at home baby machines, and frankly, what does a stay at home baby machine care if the government is in a deficit or not.

They say that absolute power corrupts absolutely; I say it goes a step further, with increasing degrees of power; you get increasing degrees of corruption.  All governments are made up of many human beings, and not all human beings are immune to corruption.  This does not make them evil people necessarily, because we don’t know what led them to their corruption.   They could be power hungry greedy people by nature as easily as they could have an extreme situation in their lives that caused them to accept a bribe « just this once ».  My point is that no government is 100% free of corruption, whether that be financial, moral or another kind, and if I have to choose between a government that is going to cost me financially, or one that is going to cost me the right to choose how I live my life, the choice is an easy one for me.  That was the choice I made during our elections.

So I had a lot of trouble wrapping my head around the idea that some Americans would put money so far ahead of basic rights on the priority scale.  How could anyone, especially a woman, want to put people who believe that there are different levels of severity in something like rape.  I know that I could never consider voting for someone who straight out tells me that they know better than me what is best for my body, life and family.  How can someone who doesn’t even know me or what I’ve lived through possible be allowed to define whether or not my family is a valid one.

One of our pas Prime minister’s, Pierre Trudeau, once said « there's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation", adding that "what's done in private between adults doesn't concern the Criminal Code"  He was referring to homosexuality, but I think that it pretty much sums it up.  Government is there to decide on the big issues, economy, industry, foreign policy, war, etc.  There is no place for government to decide what goes on in my home, or how my family is composed, or what I, as a responsible adult, decide to do with my body.

And I am beyond relieved that enough Americans agree, and that none of our American sisters will have to watch the rights our grandmother’s fought for get taken away.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Xylophones and mothers

Conversation a few weeks ago at my place

Me : (Hangs up cell phone) Question.
BF : What?
Me : How do you feel about Xylophones?
BF : (Looks at me puzzled) What do you mean?
Me : I mean, how do you feel about Xylophones? As in, would you like for us to have one?
BF : (still puzzled) Xylophone as in the musical instrument? What kind of Xylophone are we talking about?
Me : A six foot long wooden one.  It’s from Africa.
BF : Why are you asking me this?
Me : Because my mom wants to give us one?
BF : Why?
Me : Because she thought We’d like it.
BF : She’s going to mail a six-foot Xylophone?
Me : Of course not, she’s bringing it.  Oh, by the way, my mom’s coming to visit, you finally get to meet your mother in law.
BF : With a six foot wooden Xylophone?
Me : Yup!

And then he walked off mumbling something about genetics and it being hereditary.

A few hours later

BF : Is your mom seriously going to show up with a six foot Xylophone?
Me : Yah, why?
BF : Where are we going to put it?
Me : I dunno, but it would be rude to  refuse it.  I mean how many people would go to the trouble of lugging a 6 foot Xylophone on the bus.  Plus, I haven’t seen her in years, and it’s her way of showing she cares.
BF : With a Xylophone?
Me : A Xylophone from Africa!
BF : Did she go to Africa?
Me : Of course not, who comes back from Africa with a huge Xylophone?
BF : The same person who carries it on a bus.
Me : Don’t mock, it’s not nice.
BF : I’m not mocking, I’m confused.
Me : Do you want me to call her back and tell her we don’t want the Xylophone?
BF : No, because then I’ll be the jerk son in law who doesn’t like her gifts.
Me : Then why are we having this discussion?
BF : I give up!

So my mom’s coming to visit, possibly with a Xylophone.  I’ve seen her twice in the past decade, so I’m kind of freaking out, but not about the Xylophone.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Where we are

I must admit, the past couple of months have been pretty rough for our little family.  At one point I took a step back, realized that I while I may not be drowning; I was flailing, and decided that I needed to take action.

I went online, and started searching for resources.  I admit, I was a little disappointed by the resources available.  Most resources about being a stepmom kind of assume that you have/want kids of your own and focus on the blending of the families, which is not the case for me.  The stuff I did find, however, was pure gold.  I must admit that just the realization that I am not alone has done me as much good as the meeting with my lawyer.

A couple of articles that particularily helped were:

I also bought myself a copy of The Happy Stepmother by Rachelle Katz, and A Career Girl's Guide To Becoming A Stepmom by Jacquelyn Fletcher.  The first I chose because it was one of the 2 most recommended books I saw.  The second because when I read the description I felt it would be a good match.

I think a lot of people make one very bug mistake when it comes to self-help books, they tend to focus on book that are all the rage thinking that it must have the answers.  Me, I tend to read the descriptions (and the preview pages when possible) to see if the subjects apply to me.  There is no sense in me buying a book that spends most of its pages talking about balancing my kids with his, when I don’t have kids, or one that focuses on difficulties with the step kids when that is a non-issue for us (for now at least, I’m crossing my fingers and touching all the wood I can find on that one).

I guess you could say that most of October was spent on recon by my BF and I.  He went to see his lawyer too, as well as made calls to all of the social workers, doctors, etc. that are involved with the kids.  We both wanted as much information as possible to get a really good idea of where we stand before going any further.

All of this mostly just confirmed that we are on the right track for the most part, and that other than the babymomma drama; things can’t get much worse than they have been.  She can’t get any more child support than she currently gets (which is a lot, 40% of my BF’s net paycheck, not including the health insurance he pays for them), she can’t touch anything of mine, and as much as she may threaten and bluster, she has absolutely no grounds to prevent him seeing his kids.  This pretty much covers our worst fears, so this confirmation has really gotten rid of the huge elephant in our home.

So I guess now that we know where we are, we can start thinking about where we want to go.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween, and Boundaries

In general, I am not a holiday type person.  I’m not a fan of Christmas, or Easter, or almost any family related holiday, mostly due to the fact that most of these holidays are connected to really crappy childhood memories.  All but Halloween.  Halloween was always fun, my mom rarely got drunk, and we always went all out with the costumes.  Never store bought costumes, the kind of costumes that you start a month beforehand.

To this day, Halloween is the one and only holiday that I hold sacred and still go balls out on my costumes.  Since Halloween usually falls on a weekday, my BF doesn’t get to take the kids trick or treating, so we found an activity during the weekend before that we can still all get dressed up, eat some candy, and the best art…it’s a huge scavenger hunt that my aunt organized in my hometown every year.  The best part was that I hit the jackpot when it comes to costumes.  I found a very Marie-Antoinette style pink dress for my stepdaughter at a second hand shop.  It had a few stains, and needed some sewing, but it was only 7 bucks, and I knew I was up to the challenge.  I also found a lovely blue princess dress for me too.  After some sewing and stain remover, I showed the dresses to her and she just glowed, asking me more than once if it was really « all for her ».

So all in all we had a great time last Sunday, 2 princesses, 2 ninjas (the boys) and a Greek God (the BF).  My cousins and their kids were there too, we scavenged, we hunted, we played and ate candy.  We stopped by my BF’s mother’s to show her the costumes and she ooohed and aaahed and gave them more candy.  Then we got them changed and brought them back to their mom’s.

Then, last night, we get a phone call from my oldest stepson.  He wants the costumes that we used this past weekend.  My BF asked to talk to their mom, she explained that she brought out their costumes from last year and they don’t fit, and since it’s the night before Halloween, she doesn’t have the time to get new ones.  My BF said that he’d see and call her back.  He told me what the call was, and I was furious.  After all the attacks and insults she has poured on me lately, she has the gall to use the kids to ask me for the costumes.

First of all, I bought the costumes myself, they are a non-essential item that I wanted, so I paid for them and did the repairs myself.   Second, why did she wait until the last minute to try on their costumes, it’s not like she didn’t know when the 31st was.  Third, she wasn’t even offering for us to go with them, she just wanted the costumes.  As far as I could tell she assumed that we would say yes to the kids if they were the ones asking and so didn’t have to spend money on costumes.

My BF and I discussed it and decided that no, we would not bail her out.  It sucks for the kids, but at the same time, we did our part to make sure they had a fun Halloween activity with costumes; it’s not our responsibility to provide for hers.  We are responsible for the kids’ wellbeing and happiness when they are with us, and we make sure that they have everything they need at our place, but other than the child support my BF pays, we are not taking any more responsibility for providing for her.

It was hard for us to hear the oldest upset, and we know that she probably spent the rest of the evening dealing with an inconsolable 8 year old, but this time we are setting our boundaries.  It’s not the first time she has assumed we would pick up the slack, and it probably won’t be the last, but it was the first time we’ve said no, and I think it’s a good start for us.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

12 lines – Questions that are swimming around in my head

Writing prompt from Mama's losin it, write a post in just 12 lines.  These are the questions swimming around in my head.

1.      Will I be able to keep my job?
2.      Will I ever get out of debt?
3.      Will my BF’s ex ever just leave us be?
4.      Will my relationship survive all of these external influences?
5.      Will I be able to keep depression at bay through all of this?
6.      Are we really doing all we can for his kids?
7.      Am I a bad person because I kind of hope he doesn’t want custody?
8.      Will things go ok when my mom visits?
9.      Is my dad ok?
10.  How am I ever going to get everything done?
11.  Where the eff are my effin keys?
12.  Am I forgetting anything?
Mama’s Losin’ It

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

More than I bargained for

Before I met my current BF, I had always said that I didn’t want to date a guy who had kids.  My reasoning was that if he was a good dad, I would always come second, and I didn’t see the fairness in that (since I don’t have kids, the guy would be first for me) and if he was the type of guy who would put me first, he wouldn’t be a good dad in my opinion, and therefore not the type of guy I could be with and respect long term.

For me it was pretty cut and dry, and for all of my 20s I avoided guys with kids.

Then I got to the end of my 20s, and my cousin helpfully pointed out that in this day and age, finding a guy in his 30s who didn’t already have kids AND didn’t want any (as I have no intentions of having any myself) was a pretty unrealistic expectation.  She also pointed out that I was at a stage in my life where even if I met Mr. Right the next day, there would be plenty of people who would come before him in my life.  I was past the age where a man could be the center of my world, so why should I expect to be the center of theirs.  This didn’t worry me, since I have always been very ok with the single life, but it did get me thinking, so I decided I would set aside my « rules » and see how it went.

Then, breaking all my rules, I met him.  He was everything I never wanted, and he was the one for me.  We went really slow, dated for a few months before even considering bringing the kids (or the ex) into it.  I thought long and hard about what I though dating a guy with kids implied, and whether or not this guy was worth it.  I thought about what kind of role I wanted to play in these kids’ life.  I decided that I would be the same as with my niece and godson, and extra adult in the support system.  I knew that the situation with his ex was, shall we say, difficult, but my mom’s side of the family are pretty much all crazy as a bag of hammers dysfunctional, so I figured if I survived them, I should be good.  I knew his mother was imposing and one of those people who is « always right », but I have no problem standing up for myself when needed.  I decided to dive in.

What followed was a whirlwind of family and household dynamics that I never could have prepared for or imagined.  Within a year, everything I knew had changed.  I ended up in a family and home that I never saw coming, but it was still good.

I developed a pretty great relationship with the kids, and the healthiest and most fulfilling relationship with a man that I have ever had.  His ex and I seemed to be able to work together.  His mom and I have found our common ground, and she has even acknowledged I was right a few times.  I figured we were on the right track.

Then, for some reason I still don’t know, his ex decided I was the enemy.  Where before she often asked me to get involved, now she was aggressively excluding me.  Where once she expressed the desire for us to be friends, now she is attacking left and right, to the point that my BF, his mom and brother have felt the need to intervene and defend me.  It’s gotten to the point that I have felt the need to consult with a lawyer.

Perhaps due to her animosity, we are having more trouble than usual with the oldest.  Definitely due to her animosity, my BF is stressed .  On the one hand, he doesn’t want to fight with her, but on the other he knows that he needs to have my back.

In the past few weeks, I have realized that as much as I love my BF and his kids, this whole stepmom gig sucks.  I never expected it to be easy, but I never expected to live in a minefield either.  I also felt my nemesis depression trying to sneak up on me.  I don’t think I ever expected his ex to have this much of a presence in my day to day life, even when the kids aren’t there.  It had been a long time since I had felt this isolated.  I guess I just generally realized that I was overwhelmed and under-equipped.  

I bought myself a couple of step-mom books and decided to take a step back, focus on me a bit.  I know I can’t avoid the ex, or the resulting drama forever, but taking a break and trying to find a new game plan is about all I can do to keep sane and not run for the hills.  There is no way in hell I'm going to let her team up with depression to take me down.

Friday, October 19, 2012

On being selfish

For the past couple of weeks, my BF has been gone on a business trip.  The day he left, his ex decided to unleash a huge pile of drama.  Enough drama that he actually reconsidered leaving because he didn’t want to leave me alone to deal with whatever she may do.  Enough drama that I actually thought it time to consult with a lawyer.  I told him to go, that I would be fine, and that I would just do my best to avoid her.

I consulted with my lawyer, and without getting into the details, he reassured me that things couldn’t get any worse than they had been in the past year, at least not legally or financially.

After seeing my lawyer, I decided that I would spend the second week avoiding all thought of her.  I would focus on me and that’s all.

This past week felt a lot like how things were when it was just me and my old cat.  The dishes didn’t pile up, neither did the laundry.  Things were quiet in the house, I slept soundly and in general things were serene and drama free.  I hadn’t experienced this in a very long time, as in over a year, and it brought me to a realization, I missed this.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore my boyfriend and his kids, I am happier and more satisfied with my life in general than at any other time in my life, but I miss being able to be selfish.  I miss being able to ignore the phone, not having to pick up after anyone but me, not having to worry about if someone else is forgetting something.

I also miss being able to choose who is part of my life.  There are a lot of people that I have minimal to no contact with that surprises people.  When I tell people that I have only seen my mother twice in the past decade, they are shocked.  I made a conscious decision a very long time ago that I refused to have people in my life that did not have a positive impact in my life, no matter who they were. 

Unfortunately now I have to deal with someone who seems hell bent on making my life difficult on a regular basis.  I can’t get rid of her unless I am willing to sacrifice the 4 people that I love that are attached to her, and that is too much of a sacrifice.

I guess I miss the control I had over my life before.  I could make decisions without having to think about how they will affect these other people, or what his ex will do if I do such and such.  I’ve been reading up on the subject, and it seems that I am not the only exhausted step-mom out there, and that my biggest mistake was trying to fix everything and doing too much.  So I guess the easy answer is to step back, take care of myself for a while, let everyone else work it out on their own.  Frankly, I don’t know if I can do that, I’m a doer/fixer by nature, it’s not in me to just sit by when I could be doing something.  My biggest fear is that if I don’t DO anything than things will get worse and people I love will suffer, but if I keep this up, I’ll suffer. 

I honestly don’t know what path I’ll choose.  All I know is the BF comes back tonight, and we go get the kids tomorrow, so I guess I’ll find out soon enough.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

In defense of the cleaning lady

These days my BF and I are doing our best to cut expenses wherever we can, but there is one expense that we both agree is necessary, no matter what other people say…My cleaning lady.

Even when I was living alone with my cat in a one bedroom apartment, I had my cleaning lady.  She came every 2 weeks for a couple of hours and took care of all of the grunt work.  My cousins (stay at home moms) used to tease me and say that they just couldn’t understand how I couldn’t manage when they had whole families to clean up after and I only had myself.  I tried many times to explain that I worked full time, and did a lot of overtime, so all of the errands that they did during the day, I had to cram into my evenings etc. etc.

I will also willingly admit that I despise cleaning, I have never been a tidy person, and no matter how hard I try to discipline myself, I just don’t care enough.  I love having a clean and pretty living space, but when push comes to shove, it’s low on my list of priorities.

But it was also more than that.  The feeling of coming home after a long day at work to a spotless home is worth every penny.  I’ve had my current cleaning lady roughly 6 years, so she knows me, and how I like things organized.  She pays attention to the little details and honestly gives the impression that every 2 weeks, a fairy godmother has gone through my home giving me a clean slate for the next 2 weeks,

Now that I have the BF and 2nd cat full sharing my space, plus the step kids on weekends and bigger apartment, she has really become indispensable.  Especially since she is scheduled for the Tuesday following the weekends with kids, and we have moved her up to 3 hours each time. 

The fact that we don’t have to worry about scrubbing floors or toilets etc. gives us the chance to be fully present with the kids when they are there, instead of worrying about cleaning up after them.  The kids spill something, no big deal, I wipe it up with a rag to get most of it, but it doesn’t make me mad because I’m not thinking « Dammit, I just mopped ».

This past weekend I was watching a friend’s 10 month old baby while she was in the hospital.  Needless to say, at the end there were carrots mashed into the carpet and fingerprints all over any glass or screen within baby reach, but I wasn’t stressed, I was able to focus 100% on comforting a baby who was very stressed out because she missed her mom.

I haven’t even gotten to how having her means that my BF and I never fight about domestic chores. He does the dishes, I do the laundry, and we both pick up after ourselves.  We each only have to worry about one main housekeeping task, so when we get home from work, we can just enjoy each other.

It also helps that I never have to worry about the stress of having people over unexpectedly, since the worst case scenario is that there are dishes in the sink.

I don’t consider my cleaning lady an employee who does my grunt work, she is an essential part of the team that helps my family run smoothly, and me keep my sanity.  I will be cutting out many other things before I touch that expense.

Friday, October 12, 2012

My place

For the past couple of months, my BFs ex has been telling me (in rather rude ways and in public) to stay in my place of a stepmom.  She has gone so far as to tell me that if I wanted to have an influence in a child’s life, I should have given birth to one.

My first instance was to reply that anyone can give birth to a child and that in my opinion giving birth is not an indicator of parenting ability, but I held back.  In fact, I have avoided replying and interacting as much as possible.  The main reason being that this was totally unexpected and out of the blue.

For the past year, she has been the one asking for my help and support, even encouraging me to get more involved.  Until a couple of months ago, she had never put up any sort of barrier between me and the kids.  Then in July it all changed.

In July we moved into the new apartment, where the kids have rooms and a yard.  We had the kids for a week in the summer, and I took them to their appointments, except for the ones that she had indicated that their father had to take them.  After that week the first shot was fired.

She called my BF furious that I had taken one of the kids to a psychology appointment, an appointment that she had not indicated that I couldn’t.  I hadn’t even participated in the appointment, I dropped him off, and picked him up, that’s it.  She said that I had no business bring the kids to anything official.  We chalked it up to her usual controlling ways.

Fast forward to September.  She tells us that she may be going away for a few weeks in January, and asks us to take the kids.  We agree.  She calls a week later to ask my BF to go to a parent night at the boys’ school, he replies that we’ll go.  She forbids me from going.  We are confused, she had asked me to be there with social workers in the past, why not this?  We reply that it would be good for the teachers to meet me in case I had to go get the kids while she was away, she says no, it’s not my place.  She says that she doesn’t need to have « his girlfriend shoved in her face during the week ».  Again I am confused, we had been shopping for the kids together a mere month earlier.  She goes on a tirade on my Facebook wall, again saying it’s not my place. 

My BF had been asking her for months to go with her for the reports and information, but she never called him, just went herself and then gave him a summary.  My BF decided that enough was enough and that he would go himself to see the psychologist and get the information about his son himself.  He and the psychologist ask me to join them, they say it’s my place.  What we learn is stunning to say the least, but I won’t go into that here.

Then this week, she finds out that my BFand I have been to see the psychologist.  She is furious, and attacks and threatens.

So here I am, trying to figure out where my place is exactly.  My BF says one thing, the specialists another, the kids another, their mom another.  I feel very alone, and very much an outsider, it’s hard to not know where you fit in your own home, your own family.

Who decides my place, her or me? Can she change her mind at any time and redefine my place?

She claims I am trying to take her place, I’m not.  I don’t want her place, I don’t want to be mom.  I just want to be me, wherever that place is.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

September month end

Last night my BF and I had our first month end talk.  For the past few weeks, we have been on a sort of spending fast, trying to curb our impulse buys.  We did pretty well actually, better than we expected for the first month.

All in all, we only had 2 impulse incidents.  The first was when we went to a festival with the kids.  We had planned a picnic lunch and brought water bottles to avoid kiosk junk food, but when we got there, we found out that there was a boil water advisory for the town.  The bottle we had brought lasted for most of the day, but on the way home we bought some drinks and baby carrots at the grocery store, grand total of 10$.  The other was when we were rushing between dropping off the kids and heading for an out of town event.  Neither of us had eaten lunch and we wouldn’t be served dinner until 8, so we made a stop at McDonald’s.

More importantly, we stayed within 50$ of our planned budget, and reduces our spending by over 200$ compared to last month.  Woo-freakin-hoo!

One other thing we noticed was that in total between the two of us we had made 15 trips to grocery stores, 15, in a month.  We decided that our next plan of action is to plan our meals better and reduce that by half.

I think the best part of this whole thing is that now that we are open about our finances, we are working as a team, which makes it a whole lot easier, kind of like having a workout buddy, but for your budget. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Between a rock and a hard place

Something happened recently that made me remember something from my childhood, something that lead to lots of therapy.  My childhood was far from easy, I was raised by a young single mom, who came from an abusive background and had alcohol and substance abuse problems.  My dad was present in my life maybe a day or two a year.  I am very lucky and blessed to have a wonderful extended family of aunts and uncles and cousins who have been there for me my whole life, but I remember asking myself, and God, often, why did no-one come get me and take me out of the situation I was in?

I lived far from this side of my family for most of my life, visiting a month in the summer and march break.  I remember my aunts and grandparents crying when they came to get me, and crying when I left.  I remember them saying that they wished I could stay forever.  I told them what it was like at home, they knew, and yet, no one came to get me.  Eventually I stopped talking about home, it changed nothing, and I poured my energy into making the most of the little time I got to spend in this stable, loving environment.

When I moved here at the age of 22, to be closer to them and the support/love they offered, I finally asked, why did they leave me there?  They explained that they had offered to take me when I was very little and my mom wanted to move away, but my mom refused, and said that if they ever tried, she would run away with me and they would never see me again. 

They also explained that this was in the early 80s, and the mindset at the time was that a situation had to be extreme to get the law to take a child away from its mother, hard enough if you were the father, nearly impossible if you were only extended family.  Since my father was worse off than my mother, they weighed the situation, and saw that the chances were remote that they would win, and that if they tried and lost, they were afraid that my mother would make good on her threat and they would lose me forever.  They decided that it would be better to give the best they could while I was with them.

I realise now that they made the right choice at the time, had they tried, they would have lost, and my mother, being a US citizen, would have been able to disappear easily.  The reason I am able to have the life I have today was because of that decision.  I avoided the common trap of thinking that things were normal at home, or that that was just how things were.  Because of that, I was able to get help sooner, and begin the therapy process much earlier than most people coming out of that type of childhood.  I was able to have great role models, and aspire to a better more stable life and loving relationships.

That is not to say that it was easy, or that there still isn’t that little kid inside me that doesn’t understand why no one will rescue her.  I spent a lot of my life doubting other people’s love because the people I loved, and who said they loved me, seemed to just leave me there in a terrible situation to fend for myself.  I was too young to understand how complicated it was, how heart wrenching it must have been for them to put me back on that plane every year, knowing exactly what I was going back to.

Now it’s me who is the one wondering what to do, what’s best.  The situation in question is not as dire as mine was, but when does it become too much?  Times have changed, but the situation isn’t any simpler. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

The money talk - Part two

I think we were both surprised and relieved at the information that came out.  When I analyzed our joint spending for the past 7 months, we saw that a huge chunk of the overspending was related to the new apartment (moving costs, furnishing the extra space etc.) and the kids (we set them up with clothes and pretty much everything they need at our place so that they don’t have to have luggage when they come and see us.)

The good news about that is that it was 95% one-time expenses.  The apartment is furnished and decorated, and neither of us are the type of people who are constantly repainting and redecorating.  My old apartment stayed pretty much exactly the same for 6 years.  As for the kids, thanks to some help from the people around us and some bargain hunting on my part, they are fully equipped for at least 2 more growth spurts.

The other main areas were food and hygiene products.  The funniest part of the conversation was when we realized that we had been buying a lot of stuff individually that we could have been buying the same.  We both thought the other was brand specific when it came to shower gel etc., and it turns out neither of us are, so right there we can start buying bigger sizes and common products.

As for food, we decided to make an effort to eat together more often, we would buy a lot of ready-made stuff, and different stuff, and we realized that it would be much cheaper if we would just plan a bit.

We also made a pact to rein in spending.  We decided that we would discuss all spending, and track all spending, it may seem extreme, but in just the past week I know I have reduced impulse spending a lot just by having the thought of having to justify it to someone.  We don’t plan to do this forever, just long enough that we can discipline ourselves a bit better and become more aware of our, and each other’s spending habits.

So that’s the plan, I think it’s a good one, here's hoping

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Tooth Fairy (or a tale of innocence lost)

I saw this writing prompt on Mama’s losing it and just had to tell this little nugget of my childhood. 

I was about 5-6 years old and I was in my mom’s bedroom for some reason and I found a little box with teeth in it.  At this point in time I was still a Tooth Fairy believer, so of course my first thought was whose teeth are these, and because I knew mine had been taken away by the Tooth Fairy.  I was totally freaked out and demanded to know whose teeth these were and how/why my mother had them.

My mom was in one of her long-term relationships, and the boyfriend in question saw this as a great opportunity for him to get more involved with me and proposed to my mom that he be the one to explain it to me.

So he took me to my mom’s room, where I had made the gruesome discovery, and started to explain to me about how the tooth fairy was made up by moms and dads, while my mom sat in the living room waiting apprehensively to see how this would go.

Next thing she knew, I was wailing and crying and running from the bedroom into her arms, the boyfriend following behind me totally confused by my reaction.  My mom couldn’t understand a word I was trying to say because of my big gulping sobs, so she asked him what had happened.

He told her that all he did was sit me down to explain that the Tooth Fairy was something that moms and dads made up to make things more fun for kids, just like the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

My mom looked at him, furious, and explained that I didn’t know that the other ones weren’t real, and that he should have just stuck to the Tooth Fairy.

Bam!…my childhood innocence shot to hell with one sentence.  All of the childhood mythology gone at once.  Now I laugh about it, and can imagine how horrible the guy felt, but I remember it took me a very very long time to get back to liking that particular boyfriend of my mom’s.

Mama’s Losin’ It