Saturday, June 29, 2013

Why Think When You Can Pin?

Holy moly, do I love Pinterest. There are so many great ideas on there, that I could conceivably never have to think again. It led me to this great tutorial to make magnets from those little clear rock things that you can put in vases, and teachers like to use as math counters...


And bam! Cheap and cute teacher's gift the kids can make themselves, and I can package so they look all adorable. I never would have thought of this on my own. (Or this, for our principal. We did that too.)

Tonight I'm using some printables I snagged off of Pinterest to make summer journals for the kids to write in while we're on vacation. Tomorrow I'm going to put together the nifty fire starters I found for camping... It never ends, I tell ya.

I love not thinking. It's fab.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Defender

I talked to a close friend of my dad's about all of this mom stuff a few nights ago. I knew what he would say, but I still wanted to hear him say it... I knew my dad. Any mistakes he had made were covered by the blood of Christ. He was a changed man, and what I saw, what we all saw, was who Dad was.

But first he said something else, and it resonated with me. It convicted me. Right off the start he said I needed to grasp and hold onto the truth that God is my defender.

I have trouble with that. If I see something that I feel is wrong, or unfair I often take it on as my resonsibility to fix it. I find it incredibly difficult to sit on the sidelines when someone is breaking the rules. This can be one of my strengths, because I am one of those people who takes action and tries to stand up for what is right. It can spur me on to help people who are suffering.

But, it can also be one of my biggest weaknesses. It can make me judgemental. It can make me critical. It can even make me into a busybody, butting in when the injury isn't mine. I have a really hard time seeing a wrong go unnoticed, unremarked-on, unpunished.

So when all of this stuff started happening with my mom, guess who thought it was her job to make it right? And when my mom started dragging my dad's past mistakes into the open, and blaming us for her distance from us, guess who thought it was her job to defend us? But it's not my job.

I know my heart, and I knew my dad's heart, and so does God. He knows. And if it's right, then it's right. And that's it. That needs to be enough.

I'm not saying I should never have tried to make my mom see what she was doing or told her how I was feeling. I'm saying I wish I had approached it with that assurance in my heart. Maybe if I had, my anger wouldn't have got the best of me. Maybe I wouldn't have felt so frustrated that I wasn't getting through to her, that none of us have got through to her for almost two years now. It's incredibly frustrating to feel like you are failing at something you think it's your job to do. When you feel like you MUST succeed, or all is lost.

If God is my defender, then all I can do is all I can do, and that's enough. The rest is in His hands. All is not lost just because I've failed. It's not my job to make my mom see, to convict her, to punish her for the ways she's hurt me and my family.

So I rewrote my letter again, this time much shorter. This time I left out all of my defenses for my actions. I left out the explanations for the things she's accused me of that weren't accurate. I left out the lists of hurts and proofs. Not that my second letter was a bad letter, but it was written with the belief that it was my job to get through to her, and it's not.

It's not my job... It's not!!!!!

I don't know how I missed it, but thanks to God, it's not.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Sunday is No-Funday

I had to move my counter back again.

I'm on a losing streak. Two Sundays in a row. Next Sunday either we're not going to church, or Glen is going to need to do Hannah's hair.

OR I'm going to have to learn to be a grown-up when Hannah starts swinging her head around like she's watching a tennis match.

Whichever.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Crazy, Stupid, Love


I watched Crazy, Stupid, Love tonight.  What a great movie! I laughed, I cried, it moved me Bob. (Gold star to the person identifies the episode that quote comes from.) But seriously, it moved me. I think maybe it was just the right movie for me to watch tonight. I think there was something I needed to hear, to think. Ever since getting my mom's horrible letter something has been changing inside me. Melting, is maybe a better word. And I was ready to hear something.

"I have loved her even when I hated her... only married couples'll understand that one..."

I've screamed "I hate you!" at Glen in a lot of fights. Not until fairly recently, but once it was out the first time it got a lot easier, and came a lot more often. In my head, if I hated him I couldn't love him. In my head that part of me was gone. I'd fought hating him for so long, I'd held onto loving him, to TRYING for so long. And I was tired. So I gave up. And I hated him. And in many ways, it was a huge relief.

It never occurred to me that love could survive that kind of hate... Because I didn't want it to maybe. Or because I don't put that much faith into anything anymore. Loving is hard. Hope is HARD and it HURTS when, well, you know. I know I've said that before. That hoping Dad would be okay HURT. That hoping God would come through HURT. I feel the same about my marriage. In many ways giving up has been easier. And for a long time I've been a coward.

But lately, new thoughts have been finding their way to the surface. If Dad could do the things my mom said he did, and still be the person I loved, the person I LOVE, then maybe couldn't I find that same kind of knowingly blind love for Glen? Were the things Glen has done any worse than the things Dad did? If I keep hating him the way I do, will I end up like my mom? I know I've said that I am too tired to try again, that Glen has let me down too many times, and it's stupid to keep hoping something will change... but what if I gave up one time too early? What if the very next try was the one that made all the difference, and I quit and let all that happiness go (and not just our happiness, but our kids' happiness) because I was too tired and too scared to try again.

And what if, all along, I loved him, even when I hated him?

What then?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Divide and Conquer

It's that time of month again people.

I say this, not to explain my post from yesterday, but to explain why tonight I did something different. Here's some more background information: It's hot out. I'm crampy. I'm grumpy. I had a long day of subbing. The house is a mess and it's hot out. (I mentioned that already, but don't you think a messy house is worse when it's hot out? I do. I can't explain why...) And I feel the usual monthly migraine coming on. Right now it's still just my neck, but it's coming and all I want is to lie all still in a cool, quiet, dark, CLEAN room.

Since it's June, off-loading the kids on Glen and disappearing isn't an option. No quiet dark room for me. So, I had to come up with a plan. And it worked so well I wanted to share it here. I bet you can guess what it was.

Divide.

The kids have taekwondo on Tuesdays, which means they come home from school, have a quick snack, go to taekwondo, come home, BATH, eat, and then pretty much get ready for bed. In between these things they need to change three times and they work really hard at wandering off from what they're supposed to be doing to do things like bug the cat, bug each other, and bug Glen and me. It's usually pretty chaotic. And I couldn't face it.

So tonight when they came home from taekwondo I left them outside and brought them in one at a time to bath and feed. (And by feed, I mean make what they wanted, put it on a plate, and send them back outside with their food to eat in our sunroom.) And let me tell you... Genius. I swear it didn't take much longer than it would have to do them all at the same time, and there was SO MUCH less madness.

Ohhhhhhhhhhhh yeah. Conquer baby. Try it sometime. Especially if you have a migraine coming on.

Or if you're all out of booze. Whichever comes first.

Monday, June 17, 2013

My Downfall

I knew it.

I knew eventually doing Hannah's hair would be my downfall. There's only so many times a mom can tell a kid to stop moving their head before they yell it... "HANNAH, FOR THE LOVE OF EVERYTHING GOOD AND DECENT AND ADORABLE... HOLD!!! STILL!!!"

And it's not just the fact that I have to say it over and over. Every now and then when I tell Hannah to hold still for some reason her brain translates my words as "Hey kid, shake your head from side to side a whole bunch really fast." I don't know why this happens, but I do know it makes me crazy. I also know it takes a LOT of intense concentration to resist yelling in this circumstance. I'm getting really good at it, as my previous 35 days without yelling can attest to. 


BUT, every now and then she does that AND I'm in a really big hurry. It's the perfect storm. This is what happened yesterday before church.

So I'm back down to zero. I yelled... And not just my exasperated yell, my mean yell that makes her cry. We both know the difference and yesterday I crossed that line. Poor Hannah. Is a straight part and even pigtails worth sad little tears rolling down her freckled little cheeks?

We all know the answer to that question.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Worries

It's a little after 10 pm. The kids have been in bed for an hour and a half. And Ben comes down the stairs. His lip is quivering.

When his lip quivers my heart always breaks.

I open my arms and he comes and lays beside me on the couch. His head rests on my chest and he's crying. He's worried. He figures he only has 18 years left with Fritti before Fritti dies. And then I can't understand what he's saying. I rub his back while his tears soak into my shirt, and I wait till he can talk again.

He doesn't want to move away from home. He only has 10 more years to live with us, he says. And then more tears. And more words I can't understand. I stroke his back some more, and wait a little longer till he runs out of things to say.

And then I tell him he can live with us as long as he wants. I tell him we will never make him leave. He only has to move out when he's ready.

And I think of the day when he will be ready. I know he'll be ready long before I will. I imagine I will send him on his way and think of the night he came down the stairs in the Transformer pajamas that are too small so that his ankles and wrists hang out. I'll remember lying on the couch with my arms around my little boy who just wants to stay with his mommy and daddy in our house forever...

Sigh.

I want him to stay with his mommy and daddy in our house forever.

Monday, June 10, 2013

I Don't Get It

So.

I want to finish this story. I thought I actually had. It went like this: A bunch of crap happened between my mom and me. I got mad. I told off my mom and Dave. I said something I shouldn't have. She wrote me a horrible letter. She said stuff she shouldn't have. I burned it. She said she just wanted to live in peace and I was okay with that. Done.

Then she called Gramma. My dad's mom. And she continued her efforts to drag the past into the present by telling gramma the things she'd told me in the letter and then some. She also made sure to explain to my gramma how awful I've been. And then she told my gramma all... ALL of the things I'd ever told my mom about my marriage in confidence, years ago when things were at their worst. Things I haven't told other people. Not just things about me. Things about Glen.

She also called my aunt. And I...

I mean, why?

What could possibly motivate a person to do something so hurtful? I have a few theories, but honestly, none of them seem to answer that question as thoroughly as I'd like.

I just...

WHY? And how? How could she possibly justify telling a mother who's lost her son things like that? Who does that?

(And let's be clear here. Those things, whether true or not, happened more than 25 years ago. Those things happened before he turned his life over to Jesus. Those things were put as far as the east is from the west by God years and years ago. Those things do not, in ANY way, change who I knew my dad to be or how I feel about him. I need to put that out there. I know you all know it, but I needed to say it anyway.)

Since my mom met Dave I've told her off three times. I'd like to be able to say (like Ang can) that I talked to her instead of told her off, but there it is. I know she thinks that I'm acting like a spoiled child having a temper tantrum because I can't get my own way, but even if that were true... Even if all the things she has accused me of and blamed me for are actually all my fault...

Still. Why?

I got why she sent me her letter. She was out to prove a point, and get me back. In a twisted way, it made some sense. But that begs the question... Why my gramma? Why my aunt?

And why the Glen stuff? What could she possibly hope to gain?

I'm baffled. I was hurt, but now I'm mostly just totally and completely gobsmacked. I really have no idea who she is now, I really and truly don't. I also don't know if I'll ever send the letter I've been working on for a week now. There doesn't seem to be much of a point. I can't find the words anymore.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

And Then I Did This


And I felt much better.

And then I tripped over the gas can that I had carefully set away from the fire. And then I thought I should probably do something about the gas that had spilled on the lawn so that the next time we have a fire a spark doesn't set off the gasoline under someone's lawnchair. So then I lit the ground on fire. Which would have been a better plan if a little trail of spilled gasoline leading to the nearby can hadn't also lit on fire and then lit the gas can on fire. So then I tried to pour the fire out of the gas can onto a nearby flower bed. That didn't work. So then I ran around the yard a little with the flaming gas can in my hand looking for something to smother the flames with. I found a piece of cardboard. That worked. So then I just had to put out the fires in the flowerbed and lawn. Which I did. But then I rememebered my original concern about the lawn starting on fire from a spark. So then I lit the lawn and the flower bed back on fire and dug up all the gasoline covered dirt and lit that on fire too.

And then, just as the flames were finally dying, a thundercloud passed overhead and the rain came pouring down. 


And as I stood there with the rain landing on my face and the flames and ashes, I felt God say, "It's okay." I heard it in the gentle rumble of the thunder, "It's okay." Not in a way that meant what had happened was all right, but in the way that a mother strokes her child's hair when she's crying... In the way I said to Dad when he breathed his last breaths, "It's okay. It's okay. It's okay."

And it's not, but it is. I felt better.

Letters

I wrote a letter to my mom after I called her on the phone the other day and blew up at her and Dave. I left it on my computer for a few days so I could edit it before I sent it. I wanted to make sure I didn't say anything I'd regret.

Here it is: (I've taken out a few things that mention how Mom has treated other members of my family, for obvious reasons.) 

Mom, 

I'm sorry I said **** off. Not because I didn't mean it, and really I meant it more for Dave and his intrusion in the phone call than for you, but I regret that I said it. Partly because it's not a nice thing to say, but mostly because it means I let this situation get the best of me and I let my anger speak for me. Again. And that wasn't the plan when I called. The plan was to calmly tell you what I think of who you have become, before I close the door on this part of my life. And I did that. 

I'm pretty sure you didn't listen to any of it though. So here is what I wanted to say. 
First, I'd like to thank the woman that was my mother and best friend for the first 36 years of my life. I miss her, and I imagine she must be still down deep in you... ... ... She's the person who loved her grandchildren before they were even born, and couldn't help but shop for them while Melissa and I were pregnant. She's the person who called me for big things and small things in her life, and who was always there for us when we had big things and small things to talk about. She's the person who went missing pretty much right away after you met Dave. And you can think this rift between us is all about how awful your children are, but the person who was my mom and best friend would never have done some of the things you have done, including not visiting Ang the day Becca was born. I have no idea who you are anymore. I find your actions completely shocking and confusing when I look back on who you were before you met Dave. Everyone does.
You shouldn't have to choose between your spouse and your kids EVER, but you have, time and time again. And you haven't chosen us. I could write a list, but you know it. You and Dave can go right ahead and put this all on us, but I know you know. You aren't stupid. You are deluding yourself, and doing it very well, but you're not stupid.

Last year I said I was done with you. I meant it. I gave up on getting back any part of the relationship between you and me that was such a big part of BOTH OF OUR lives for so long. We had a two-way relationship that was meaningful and important to both of us, but last year I finally gave up and let that go. Since then you haven't hurt me. You're actions make me miss Dad more, but I haven't let you hurt me. But you have hurt other people I love... ... ...

And so, I'm done again, except this time I'm totally done. I had told myself that for the sake of my children who still love you even though they barely see you, I would maintain some kind of a relationship. I am no longer interested in that. I don't think you are either. You've seen my kids 4 times in the last year, and on one of those times when I asked to do something with you on another day your answer was no. You and Dave were going to take out your new boat instead. That's not a sign of a grandma who misses her grandkids. You've spent somewhere around 12 hours with us, and how much of that was actually spent interacting with the kids? Half an hour? Not much, that's for sure. You're with him all the time, but you can't spare some of your time for your grandkids who you hardly ever see? And Becca lives nearby and you barely see her either, so it's not just because we live farther away and don't visit as often as we used to. It's not just your kids you've turned your back on, it's your innocent grandkids. And whether or not their parents are horrible, you've lost all interest in Ben, Sam, Hannah, Noah, Abbey, Nathan, and Becca too. And they're not horrible. They're amazing. More amazing than any of us deserve, but you show almost no interest in them.

So, I'm done. No more. You've been doing exactly what you like with no reference to any of us, and from now on I will too. No more feeling obligated to keep some kind of door open between us. I'm good with closing it. I think it's best for everyone, and honestly I'm relieved it's finally over.

That's all I had to say, I wish I'd just written you a letter in the first place, I should know better than to think I can keep calm when I am talking to someone who I am so angry with.
- Becky
I got a letter from her today before I had a chance to send my edited version. My mom didn't bother editing. She sent me a seven page letter. Express. My instinct was to return it without reading it, but since I had a letter of my own that I wanted her to read I felt I owed it to her to hear her out. So I read it.

And I wish I hadn't given her a chance. And I feel less remorseful about telling her to **** off. And I feel even better about my decsion to never see her again.

I can't tell you everything she wrote, it was too awful. She was determined to show me that she's the victim and not only am I a horrible daughter, but my dad was a horrible husband. She went into intimate detail. Things that she'd hinted at before, things that had happened when she and my dad were crazy partiers walking far from God, she now went into intimate detail describing. Because, in her view, I thought my dad was a saint, and it was now her job to disabuse me of that notion.

I wrote her a new letter. I didn't edit it. It's long, so I won't post the whole thing here, but I will post a part of it:

I'd like to thank you for the lesson you just taught me today. I will NEVER tell my children any of the things their father has done to hurt me. I never intended to, it seemed obvious that it must be unhealthy, but this has locked that intention in solid. Your letter has shown me what an incredibly selfish thing that would be to do. (Especially if their Dad is dead and can never hurt anyone again.) Just so my kids can think that our crappy marriage was ALL his fault and not mine? I would hurt them like that? NEVER. So thanks for that. Now that I know that pain first hand, I can at least spare them. I will NEVER tell them the intimate details of our marriage.

There's another good reason that I won't "tell on" Glen sometime in the future, and your letter has taught me that lesson too. (I knew it before, but now I really KNOW it.) The fact is, people who try to make someone else look bad so they look good often find out that the opposite happens. They look bad. You told me this because of the "fact that (you are) shit under my feet"? Trust me. I have never thought that, and if I did this letter would most certainly have only confirmed it.

You have also taught me that I need to either forgive Glen and really love him again or GET THE HELL OUT. That's my choice and it was yours too. All those years of your anger and bitterness that I thought was just you and sometimes that I thought was all my fault, all those times you screamed at us sometimes out of nowhere and I promised myself I would never do that, the time you called me a "stupid little bitch" for stealing your socks, I can look back and imagine that if I was you, I might do the same thing. Your years of "unprovoked" (I thought) anger was provoked by my Dad, but you chose to push it down and store it up and then scream at us and now throw it all in my face in a letter. But thank you again. The next time I am really mad at Glen, but want to yell at my kids, I will think of you and your bitterness and what it has led to. And I will find a way to let his sins go FOR GOOD, for my sake and my kids. I don't want to be like you someday. I don't ever want to hurt them like that.
I still feel pretty shell shocked. WHO DOES THAT? What kind of sick do you have to be to describe things like that to your daughter? Nevermind that I'm an adult, and I know people aren't perfect. I'm not that shocked that any of it happened, I've been around long enough to know things happen. Mom said in her letter that she kept her mouth shut, but she has told me things before... Vague, undetailed hints at things that happened when I was quite young. Her letter blew me away because I was shocked that she would throw it at me now in descriptive detail. And of course, that wasn't bad enough. She also made sure to imply there was more and it was worse.

And then there was some ranting about how we all expect her to be at our beck and call, and jump to do what we want... Yeah. That's the problem. It's unreasonable of us to expect her to remember our birthdays and show up when babies are born. I'm a hateful horrible person for expecting that meeting someone new wouldn't change our friendship. Why should she have to call me when she gets engaged? What kind of daughter am I to think that my mom should come take care of me when I broke my ankle and was stuck on my back, or even call just once in more than two months to ask how I was healing? I mean, her boyfriend of a few weeks was expecting a new grandchild. She clearly had more important things to do. Busy busy.

She told me off for calling Dave disgusting, which was actually meant for her since I hadn't realized that she hadn't just put Dave on the other line, but handed off the phone completely. She won't stand for any more of my anger and "judgementalism." So that's that. Since I am angry, SO ANGRY, and I DO judge her the break is mutual and I don't have to feel guilty about cutting her off. She signed off that she just wants to "be and live in peace." I told her I was okay with that.

And I am.

The only thing is that for my own good I will have to someday find a way to forgive her for this, and I don't know how I will.



(P.S. In case you're wondering if it was deliberate, I did notice that I've finally come out and said Glen and I don't have a good marriage. Frankly, it's probably about time, and I'm sure it was pretty obvious to most of you. I'm also feeling an intense aversion to covering up crap like this right now or going into details. I really am thankful for the lessons I learned today. That wasn't sarcasm. She has done me a huge favour.)

Monday, June 03, 2013

I'm Done

I yelled today. But I'm not turning back my counter.

First off, let me just say that I believe no one should ever have to choose between their spouse and their children. Love should be multiplied, not divided. (Gold star to the person who knows where I got that line from.) But that choice has been made. By my mom. Over and over.

I haven't really written about it here because I think some things should stay private. I try to think about my kids reading my blog someday in the future. Would I be okay with my kids reading about all the nasty things I have to say about their grandmother? And then, would I be okay with my mom reading those same things? Up until today, the answer to that question was, "No."

I don't feel the same way anymore.

So prepare yourself for the whole story. I've told it to some of you, with many tears, and frequent breaks for chocolate or hugs or laughs. I'd like to write it out though, once and for all. Like a purge.

I'm done with her. I've said that before, to her, and to others. When I said it then, I meant I was done with my relationship with her. I was done trying to get back the person who was my mom for 36 years. I was done trying to find my friend somewhere inside the PoD. (That's my nickname for her. It stands for "Pit of Dave" and encompasses all the nuances that go with the word pod in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.) I was done trying to hold onto a relationship that she no longer wanted, and was now only adding pain and stress to my life.

I was still willing to "keep up appearances," mostly for the sake of my kids. Her grandchildren.

I'm not anymore.

And really, the excuse of doing it for the kids was losing ground quickly. She has seen them for a total of 4 days this past year. And those days weren't whole days. I would be shocked if the entire time amounted to more than 12 hours.

365 days. 12 hours. Including Christmas.

If you are a friend or family I am pretty sure you can think back and remember how things were between us before my dad died. Actually, you can probably also remember how things were after my dad died. We spent hundreds and hundreds of hours together. Vacations. Shopping trips. Just sitting around in eachother's homes.

And then she fell into the PoD and that ended. She made a choice and I fought it for a long time. But I'm done fighting, and I'm done with her.

I've never written that here, because I've always hoped that things would straighten out. I didn't want to burn any bridges. I love my kids so much. I would never ever ever ever want the bridge that joins our lives to be destroyed. I'm pretty sure she's good with that though. Going from almost no contact to no contact at all will be a breeze for all of us.

So I'm going to tell you all about what's been going on. I'm going to do some purging by lighting some matches and burning the crap out of some bridges. I have no place in my life for the selfish, twisted, self-absorbed, and deluded pod that is all that remains of my mom. Not even for the sake of the 12 hours a year we have spent together since she traded all of us for her new and improved life.