Get Lost, Mama

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I dreamed I was pregnant, and my thought about it was, “Eh, I have four, may as well make it five.”

I was happy to be pregnant.

So weird.

I found myself wondering during the night.  I used to have a bumper sticker that read, “I do whatever the little voices tell me to do.”  It is mostly true.  Except, ever since Thing One was an only child, the little voices have been telling me to get the fuck outta here.  I think, “But if I had, I wouldn’t have Thing Two, Shrieking Pee-bot, and the baby.”  Then I wonder if I would have found a decent guy and would have still had the entire crew—but with better genes and a more stable household.  That thought made me sad.  How bad have I fucked up my life by not listening to the voices?  All for a set of big blue eyes….

I think I would like to become a recluse.  A hermit.  But how do I do that with four kids?  I wonder if I will ever find my home.  The place I fit in.  I think, I just have to make it work where I am.  But the Midwest is so awful.  People are phony and self-important.  Self-involved, and they just don’t get me.  I liked the South where people were genuine.  But I hate the heat.  So I came back to the region of my creation—the one place I know for sure I do not belong.  I hoped Wisconsin would be different, but Madison is a snooty town.  I need to see what the 150 mile radius is so I can see where I can even go from here.

Is there something wrong with me that I don’t have friends?  Is there something wrong with me that I seem to repel people?  Why can’t I just fit in?  How come I am always such an outcast?  Is it just who I am?  When was the last time I felt comfortable in my own skin when I was around people other than my kids?

This is probably a big reason I stay with the Dad.  He doesn’t get me either.  But at least he is someone to talk to.

Forty years later—staring at the horizon—just wanting to run away.

Caught in a Whirlpool

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Captain’s Log…August 18, 2014

3:17 pm

Yesterday morning the baby crawled into the Dad’s room and promptly found a marijuana pipe to play with.  I found him with it.  I alerted the sleeping Dad, took the pipe away from the baby, and said to the baby, “Let’s go wash your hands.”

The Dad scoffed.  “Alcohol is worse,” he said as if I were over-reacting by washing the baby’s hands.  Alcohol may or may not be worse.  That is a difficult and many-tiered argument.  However, I would have washed the baby’s hands if he had been playing in a puddle of vodka.  He wasn’t.  He was playing with a pipe with marijuana residue on it.  I don’t know how or if it would affect him, but I do know that washing his hands will not hurt him.

So far I have had to take a marijuana pipe away from Shrieking Pee-bot, twice, and the baby, once.  I have also, twice, found one just left on the stairs up to our apartment where the kids keep their scooters & helmets.

Close to everyday there is one sitting on the counter.  Often they are left, face down, on the cutting board.

I drink some.  I drink beer, and occasionally, I drink whiskey.  I keep my bottles of alcohol out of reach—empty or full—as well as my glass when I am drinking.  I know a little beer probably won’t hurt them, but better safe than sorry.  When I asked the Dad not to leave his pot & pipes on the kitchen counter, he replied, “You have a bottle of whiskey in your bedroom!”

“Yes,” I replied—confused, “that is the safest place for it because they get on the counters; they get in the cabinets.  They do not get on top of my dresser.”

I do not understand his reality.  I’m not sure we are on the same planet, much less the same page.

Captain’s Log…August 23, 2014

2:02 pm

My family legacy, like a lot of families I suppose, is one of abuse.

Captain’s Log…September 3, 2014

10:29 am

I should be writing.  I should always be writing.  Why am I not writing?

I am back in school.  Watercolor & Extinction of Species.  Should be fun.

Captain’s Log…September 5, 2014

10:53 am

The Darkness descends once more.

I have had several good days.  But lately I am weepy again.  Disheartened again.  Feeling lost.  Feeling a failure.  Having those, “Why even try?” feelings again.

Maybe because of housing situations.  I found a house.  A three bedroom with a den.  A backyard.  A full basement with washer & dryer.  In the neighborhood I want to live in.  A landlord who is willing to work with me.  A landlord who is offering to let me borrow his chicken coop and chickens.

A landlord who is asking a better than reasonable rent.

But my roommate is waffling on me.

And I am trying to figure out how I will survive.

And I worry that I will end up having to ask the Dad to move with me just so I can afford the place and because he is that good at manipulating his way back in when I am pushing him out with all my might.

And then he will take my dream house as his own.  Like he took the co-op I found to live in.  Like he took this apartment I found to live in.  And my life will belong to him again.  And I will be lost.

to be continued….

I say “no” & “stop” & “go away” so much to poor Thing Two.  I worry about the damage I am doing to him.  He is so overwhelming to me.  He is so much chaos.  So much chaos.  I try to embrace it.  Sometimes I succeed.  Other times I send him this message that something is wrong with him.  I don’t want to send him that message!  He is perfect.  He is.

Our stupid neighbors have been complaining about him to the apartment management.  In a perfect—or even half-decent—world, they would talk to me.  They would tell me what is happening.  Then I could work on it with Thing Two.  Instead, they complain to management that then tells me I have to “supervise my children until they are old enough to behave.”  That’s fucking helpful.  And what crap-ass, two-faced neighbor of mine doesn’t have the decency to think, “She has her hands full with a baby and a toddler.  Maybe I can’t help her, but the least I could do is not make her life more difficult”?

People suck.

And it’s not as if he is the only problem child out there.  He isn’t.  We have several naughty children in the mix.  But Thing Two gets targeted.

I’ve seen this happen before.

People either get him…or they really don’t.  Much like his mama, he is often misunderstood.  There are the people who celebrate him.  There just needs to be more of them.

Thing Two rocks.  He is incredible.  How do I prepare him for a life of assholes who don’t get him and then reward him for their own ignorance with negative re-enforcement and criticisms aimed at him?  How do I build him up so they don’t crush him?

I could try my own mother’s tactic, tell him, “They’re just jealous,” every time he comes to me in tears for an unjust interaction with some asshat.

Would that work on him?

I think I kinda believed it.

Captain’s Log…September 14, 2014

7:45 pm

Here’s a poem I just wrote:

your brother is sleeping!

your brother is sleeping!

your brother is sleeping!

Shhh!

Don’t!

Wake!

The baby!

This morning I tried to explain to the Dad—thinking that if I opened an avenue of communication we could go somewhere—I tried to explain to the Dad why I am grumpy when I come home from an outing with the kids, at 10 pm, to find he has company over & the baby is awake.  I wasn’t trying to make excuses for my behavior that is known far & wide for it’s anti-social tendencies.  I was merely trying to explain myself.  I told him.  I told him I am an introvert and it is very difficult for me to deal with people I am not comfortable around being in my home.  I need time to adjust.  I need time in order to not be rude.  And maybe a beer.

The Dad, however, told me I was rationalizing and added onto his already lengthy list of why I suck.

Yay.

Awful morning.

But at least there was a parade.  In Madison, Wisconsin there is always a festival nearby and today was my favorite.  A parade of freaky east-siders.  I am a freaky east-sider.  And I love a parade.

Rock the Boat, Don’t Tip the Boat Over

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Captain’s Log…August 6, 2014

9:57 pm

He did come home eventually. I talked to him. He played his video game and resented me. I told him I thought we should work on this together—stay close—so we could both be there for the kids….

“I have to work every day for the rest of my life,” the Dad has taken to saying now. It’s not that he wants me to stay. He just doesn’t want to have to pay me child support.

And, of course, you know—I don’t work. I just stay at home and enjoy myself.

 

I hit the Dad with my car yesterday. He does this thing where he sees the kids off to the car with me when we are leaving—then, as I am pulling out, he walks in front of or behind the car as it is moving. I have stopped myself from accidentally hitting him a few times now. This last time, I was too tired…too distracted…too convinced that an adult knows to stay clear of a moving car. I looked in my rear view mirror & the limber fucker had just managed to leap clear as I tapped the bumper of the car behind me while backing up to pull out of my parking spot.

The weird thing is—is that I got really mad at him for almost making me hit him.

He probably thinks I did it on purpose.

If it was on purpose, I wouldn’t have missed.

 

The Dad is angry at me for planning on leaving him. This morning he told me I had to give him notice. That I had to find someone to sublet. “Is that what you want?” I asked. He said, “no.” Later that day I realized that I don’t have to give notice—I just am responsible for my bills until he finds a roommate. I can leave anytime I want. I just can’t shirk my responsibilities to the apartment until someone has taken over for me.

 

Today I saw him walking home with one of the girls he wanted to have a polygamous relationship with when he & I were still fucking. We weren’t in a “relationship.” He made sure that I knew we were not in a “relationship.” But he still wanted to be a family with me. And to fuck me. As long as he could fuck other people too. He is dishonest to me about this girl. I don’t know if they have a “relationship” or if they are fucking. I just know he is dishonest to me about it. I know because I let him borrow my phone when he didn’t have a phone & then I got a frantic voicemail from her, thinking that my number was his number—calling him to come to her.

I do not like dishonesty.

I do not like him. I do not like her.

 

Captain’s Log…August 7, 2014

11:43 am

The baby claps now. I thought he was a genius, but I guess they start clapping at about 7 months, according to “What to Expect.” The baby is 9 months. I still think he is a genius.

Thing Two used the expression, “I stand corrected,” the other day—in context—I believe him to be a genius as well.

Shrieking pee-bot kills at physical humor. Genius.

And Thing One is just perfectly brilliant with Legos and everything science & art.

 

Meanwhile, I look around me at other people being successful with art, writing, food, etc. thinking, “I could do that.” But why aren’t I? What is stopping me? I was in a local art store the other day, realizing that everything on sale for big prices—I could make easily. But why am I not doing that?

 

Focus, love. Focus. (I am in a bit of a British accent today, which might be reflected in my word choice even though you cannot hear my accent.)

 Start of a story:

Stella came home to the ghost of David sitting on her front step playing his harmonica with a focused, knit-brow, expression. David is not dead. At least, Stella believes he is still alive. But this ghost is of the David she knew, over twenty years ago. Young, curly headed, and annoying.

Up the stairs was no better. Stella found the ghost of Steven digging around in her refrigerator, complaining that her greens were wilted and her plums had lost their spunk.

“Well, it has been nearly 17 years,” Stella muttered to herself. “One’s plums can’t stay spunky forever.”

 

Captain’s Log…August 9, 2014

9:38 pm

Tomorrow the shrieking pee-bot turns three. Three years ago tomorrow I had an accidental unattended birth because I could not find a Madison midwife who would support my HBA2C choice. I am a bit bitter. I knew I could do it. They were not willing to risk lawsuit, insurance, reputation, whatever. They were willing to leave me stranded. One did come to the rescue when my baby girl was having seizures and not breathing correctly. I am thankful for that. I believe her quick recovery didn’t have as much to do with the anti-seizure meds as it did with my attachment parenting. I wore her (still do), breastfed her (still do), slept with her (still do)—even though the NICU nurse wouldn’t let me snooze with her in the cozy chair at the hospital, saying to me, “You people can do that at home, but you can’t do that here.” Three years ago tomorrow was a wonderful and powerful day and a scary-ass day that left me questioning my own instincts, thinking I had permanently damaged my baby girl.

She’s fine. She just leapt from an armchair to my lap, grinning. “Best case scenario, she will have learning delays and be uncoordinated. Worst case scenario, she will have epilepsy or cerebral palsy,” the neurologist told us on August 11, 2011 after an MRI showed a branch of her brain was dead from lack of oxygen.

Today, I wonder how many of us have extensive brain damage and just don’t realize it because our brains knew well enough to compensate and re-direct.

Speaking of brain damage, the Dad’s brother who a few weeks back approached the Dad about their abusive childhood and all his memories of it, is now obsessed with what would be classified as conspiracy theories. I will not say that our government is not out to get us, but the stuff the Dad is reporting to me seems a bit…well…crazy. And tonight, as I was thinking about how I was going to ask/convince the Dad to move out of this apartment, the Dad started spewing these theories as if they were absolute truth. And he included his paranoia about how members of my family are involved. He said, “I am not paranoid,” and “I am not crazy,” without my having said anything. His saying those two statements made me suspect that he is. Well, I know he is paranoid. He is one of the most paranoid people I know. But now I am pretty sure he is also crazy.

Here’s the thing: I’m scared.

 

Captain’s Log…August 12, 2014

8:32 am

Last night I asked the Dad to move out. I survived it. Am I paranoid? Or is the Dad capable of dark things? Negligent things? Dangerous things. Wait, he is capable. But would he?

3:22 pm

I made an appointment to talk to a DAIS person tomorrow. I also have therapy tonight. I am expecting more fallout from the Dad. I am exhausted and listless and unable to function. I can’t even make it to the library with my kids. The baby won’t sleep and that seems so little but feels so big.

 

Captain’s Log…August 15, 2014

11:03 pm

My therapist seemed really unenthusiastic our last session. I found myself worrying that she had grown as tired of my problems as I have. I find myself telling people, “I need new problems.” Seriously. The Dad sits about 15 feet away from me playing his video game—pretty much where I can find him if he is in the house. I want to say, “So, about your moving out….” But I am afraid to. What am I afraid of? I don’t know. Terrified of confrontation in general, I guess. When I was a kid, I learned not to rock the boat. But I do it. I do. It just scares the ever-loving crap out of me, but I do it.

 I’m not sure what I expected from DAIS…a fast-paced helicopter rescue jetting me to that happily ever after? I always feel like I am over-reacting when what I experience is labelled as “abuse.” But then I get shown that “Power & Control Wheel” and there is the Dad, taking up a big chunk of it, over half of it. I think if the Dad found out I went to DAIS—or if I start hitting the support groups and he finds out—I think his biggest concern will be that someone else will find out and what will they think of him? He doesn’t seem terribly concerned about my happiness or mental health. I would think it would carry some weight. I am extremely concerned about his depression, self-destructiveness, and paranoia.

Tomorrow I am going to go check out an eco-village that is forming about an hour or more from here. Maybe it will turn out to be the fast-paced helicopter rescue that will jet me away to my happily ever after.

Down with the Ship

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Captain’s Log…July 30, 2014

 9:53 pm 

Okay, so I homeschool my kids, and I tend to pay more attention to the activities of the older two—neglecting shrieking pee-bot’s enlightenment. This became apparent to me today when I chanced upon a story-time after dropping the boys off at their gardening camp in Middleton. I went to the library and after picking up some graphic novels for me, I was waved into the “story-time nook” by a very pretty Indian woman. I was sure she was waving at someone else, but shrieking pee-bot (already better socialized than I am) said “Hi!” and we went into the room.

I panicked, being in an unfamiliar library. Middleton is one of Madison’s conjoined twins, not quite as liberal and “hip” as Madison, but a really nice town with a beautiful library (they have a bearded dragon!) I feel like as soon as I appear anywhere in Middleton, they all think, “Madison East-sider,” as the East side is where all of us freaks & hippies live.

Anyhoo, I was assuring myself that I had a right to be in story time and doing my best to blend in (picture the survivors towards the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers,) when I realized that—much like me—shrieking pee-bot had little idea of what to do in a crowd of her peers. Then I realized I have never taken her to a toddler event. Poor thing! She watched warily as the kids clapped & counted & danced & participated. She wouldn’t even chase bubbles due to her uncertainty about the event. She did, however, pick up her little mat & put it away at the end of the night like all the other kiddos. So smart! I didn’t push her to participate, but I did make a mental note to get her to more toddler events. Fuck, maybe she’ll start talking if she has a crowd who gets her.

As I was being the supportive only-participate-if-you-want-to-mom, I was sitting next to the get-your-ass-in-there-&-sing-along-dammit mom. She was the story-time equivalent of those parents that go to their kids baseball games & scream at them from the bleachers. If one of her little boys didn’t do what the librarians asked the kids to do, she would hiss at them to do it. If they still didn’t, she would give them a sharp nudge with her hand or her foot. I don’t know. Maybe she was having a hard time. She was watching three boys. Maybe she was worn out. But her kids were sitting there pretty calmly (compared to my kids!) and she was attacking them if they moved off their mat or didn’t chase the bubbles when the other kids did. So weird. I’m glad I’m not “that mom.”  Of course, she is probably blogging right now about the freak mom who let her kids do what they wanted to do.

Meanwhile, on my own homefront, I had a rough day yesterday. A bit better today, but Thing Two has me worn out and shrieking pee-bot and the baby are trying to finish me off. If I just had one of them, just one, it would be challenging. All three of them?? What the fuck am I doing? Do I have something to prove? Am I trying to show off that I’m a stud in some fucking parent triathlon of torture?

Yesterday, as the morning began with threats and challenges from Thing Two, I yelled from the safety of the bathroom, “I’m not going to do this again! I’m not!” But then I thought of the alternatives. What was I going to do? Run away? Check into a psyche ward? Start using physical punishment? Threaten, belittle, and shake my kid? What was I going to do, really?

I was going to face the day and—yes—do it all over again if I had to. Because I’m a mom. Because I’m not going to give up on the idea that there is a healthy and positive way to deal with the way Thing Two is acting out. Because I do believe that he is in pain when he lashes out, and that I need to offer him a safe place and boundaries for his behavior. So, yeah, doing it again. Hiding in the bathroom and crying some of the time, but doing it again. And again. For as many times as I have to.

 

Captain’s Log…July 31, 2014

 2:09 pm

I have to laugh…or I cry.

I feel overwhelmed.

Saturated & empty all at the same time.

 

Captain’s Log…August 1, 2014

1:48 pm

Everything I was worried about about having another baby has come true.

 9:09 pm

The dad just came home to say that his brother, who seems to be having a paranoid break from reality directed at the government, has decided that “love is the answer.”

I laugh.

Why?

Because I have never experienced that.

I feel like I do not have a heart.

I feel dead inside.

I spend my mornings trying to be so fucking goddamned positive, only to be brought to my knees by a six year old. What kind of mother am I? I don’t know how to make him feel better. I don’t know how to make myself feel better.

Every morning.

Every day.

Like some horrifying limbo.

The dad gets ready to leave this morning, his dirty dishes everywhere. I ask if he could be sure to wash dishes that we only have one of (one pot, one strainer—both dirty in the sink) so that I can use them during the day.

He tells me his day awaits him at work.

I tell him, I have worked in restaurants. I know what he does all day. And I know how that compares to what I do all day. Working in a restaurant has never left me feeling completely defeated.

Fucking exhausted.

I used to go out on the town after a double in a restaurant. I would work 6 hours. Go home. Go back for 5 more hours, and then go out drinking.

I didn’t fall asleep at 8 pm—so fucking tired—but knowing I would have to get up again because things weren’t done.

I don’t feel like a good person right now.

Much less a good mom.

All my life, I have felt unlovable. Unworthy. Why? Why am I so damaged?

 

Captain’s Log…August 4, 2014

10:38 pm

I am tired. The baby has been restless and not sleeping well. He usually invites me to join in his baby misery. I am tired.

Today wasn’t too bad. We went out to a friend’s house with minimal fighting. Minimal bickering. I was minimally grumpy. I was able to step back and parent like a sane person.

I thought tonight as I was laying the shrieking pee-bot down to sleep. “I’m a good mom. I sincerely want what’s best for my kids…but sometimes I’m a bad mom because I expect too much of my kids.”

Lately I find myself laughing instead of crying. I’m not sure if that is a good sign…or a scary one.

Lately I think people who give parenting advice are filled to the brim with stinky poo. Someone once told me, “Boys start out hard & get easier. Girls start out easy & get harder.”

LIAR!

People have also told me, multiple times, “Going from one kid to two is the hardest transition,” and “Once you have three, four doesn’t even make a difference.”

LIARS!

Or maybe they just didn’t have kids like mine. Passionate. Spirited. Intelligent. Creative. Determined. (That’s the good way of putting it…the positive spin. That’s where I’m going tonight. The positive spin.)

I am sitting here at my laptop, one beer drank, waiting for the Dad to come back from wherever he disappeared to at bedtime rather than reading to Thing One and Thing Two. He disappeared almost two hours ago. I want to talk to him about my impending departure from sharing space with him. Is he staying in this apartment? Can I stay in this apartment? What about kid placement? Can he handle all four? Should we split them up? Can we postpone overnights with him for the two youngest?

But he is not here. I finally prepared myself to talk to him, and he is not here. He knows I am looking for somewhere to live, but he is in denial. He won’t respond much when I bring it up, and he never brings it up. We need to fucking talk about this. We so rarely have a chance to talk. But he is off somewhere with his brother who is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Yay that he cares enough to watch out for his brother—but what about his family that is falling apart? What about figuring out his own future? What about making sure his kids aren’t acting out because they are freaked out about this upcoming split? What about us?

This is the way it is with the Dad. He likes to rescue other people while neglecting me & the kids. For some reason, he always has a better cause than us—even if it is just a virtual one in a video game. For some reason, we don’t compare. We don’t register. We fall through the cracks of his never-ending efforts to avoid his own reality.

So I sit and wait. Hoping to sort out my near future. The kids’ future. His future.

Maybe I will leave a note taped to his laptop.

I am so tired.

toddlers and other things that go bump in the night

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Captain’s Log…July 28, 2014

10:28pm

Before we get started, let me just confess that I have been drinking some pretty liberal bourb-a-lurb-a-nades and may not be fit to fly this ship. With that out of the way….

Toddlers…let me tell you about toddlers.

I like toddlers, as long as I do not have to live with them. Toddlers are diabolical. Severely deranged and possibly evil. Again, I have had quite a few snorts of bourbon—mostly, but not entirely, because of toddlers.

Today, the shrieking pee-bot dropped my laptop on the ground, destroyed my ink block for my art, raided my art box, peed on my pillow, ate the cat’s food, ate a fistful of butter, stole her father’s coffee, dumped milk all over the furniture and floor while I put the baby down for a nap, took down her eight year old brother by grabbing a fistful of his hair as he tried to get in his seat in the car, tormented her very sensitive eight year old brother repeatedly as he tried to reason with her, raided her brother’s Lego collection, spat food all over the floor of any room she happened to be in, tortured the baby—repeatedly, and many other things that I have most likely blocked out.

I am toast. I am done. I am defeated. Quite clearly defeated. Between the shrieking pee-bot and Thing Two, I am ready to turn in my motherhood membership card.

How many times in a day can one mama hear, “You’re an idiot! I hate you! I wish you never existed!” mixed in with “Nobody loves me. You all hate me. You want me to starve to death”? (said after I fed him a lunch that he rejected.)

I am so tired of trying to remain calm. I am so tired of using the soft, “let’s be reasonable” voice. I am so tired of re-assuring him as he attacks me. So tired of saying, “It is not okay to say that to me. I do not like your saying that to me,” and it seemingly falling on deaf ears.

Is this even working?

I’m sure I’m not supposed to just burst into tears and collapse on the floor.

That’s probably the wrong approach.

Is he going to remember me as his weepy mama? Is he going to resent crying women because of me? Is he going to learn to tune out other people’s pain because mine keeps splashing out of me?

God, I’m tired of feeling like a failure. Did I do something wrong? I know I love him. I love him to bits. I would do anything for him. Yet, somehow, I have failed him…and he is this angry little beast. Eyes red and wet yet squinted at me in anger and hate. I would die for him. Doesn’t he know that? I would lasso the moon for him. How is it that I could have possibly failed him in six short years?

There is hope though. Every time I call him in for a hug—he comes. He plays the tough guy, but he still wants a hug from me.

There is still hope.

slacker mom revisited

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Okay…calm down…don’t get excited, but Thing One and Thing Two just shared their feelings with each other in a mature and caring way as they re-did a fight they had where both of them got physically and emotionally hurt. Wow. Sometimes I feel like I’m not a complete goon of a mom.

Which brings us to slacker mom II electric bugaloo (for those of you who don’t remember or never even experienced the ‘80s—almost everyone of that era adds an “electric bugaloo” to a sequel. just accept it.)

Today at the zoo. Today. At the zoo. For the record, the only animal we saw at the zoo today were the seals. Okay, and the flamingos. That’s what kind of day today was.

I was sitting with a friend, at the zoo, while our kids played in a fenced in area close by. The baby was squirmy and wanted to crawl around, but we were by the sidewalk and I was afraid he might get trampled. So I took him to the other side of the fence to crawl around inside the play area while I sat three feet away and visited with my friend. He was right in front of me, three feet away. As babies will do, he found a chunk of wood to chew on. It was not a choking hazard nor would I fret too much if it were because he spends his day with plenty of Legos and marbles to choke on and chooses not to choke on those. But a concerned patron of the zoo became alarmed and started questioning random people to ascertain whose neglected child this was. I was not paying attention until I was questioned.

“He has a piece of wood in his mouth,” the woman told me.

“He always has something in his mouth,” I replied, but I did get up to take away his latest teether.

As I was walking to him, a man passing by said, “He’s not mine. If he were, he would not be alone.”

I turned to him and said, “He’s not alone. I am right here.” Me, part of my head shaved, nose ring, tattoos, stripey socks up to my knees and motorcycle boots. People rarely challenge me in public. I don’t think I am scary…but I know I am hard to read. And I have the stereotype of moms who look like me. The stereotype of anybody who looks like me. Not mommish. Assuredly, not mommish. Which brings me to my earlier encounter this week. I was at a park where a church group was having a free crafts & sno-cone day. The church guy went up to every mom but me…every mom but me…to invite them to crafts and sno-cones. I wasn’t hurt. I have a big pagan tattoo on my arm. But, fuck. They could have at least cared enough to try to save my kids….

Dad at the zoo apologized. He explained that someone had asked if the baby was his. But, seriously, did he think that just because he was not hovering over top of my baby that that meant my baby was neglected?

I am not a helicopter mom. Again, X-generation ‘80s kid here. I survived, and I had crappy parents. My kids will be fine.

Maybe I should get a t-shirt that says, “Slacker mom”

crash & burn

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I feel like a failure today. I feel like maybe I shouldn’t have been a mom. I feel like this just isn’t working out and “they” win.

The day started rough. I don’t know why. Maybe not enough sleep. Probably not enough sleep. I knew I wanted to get out of the house—if not for their sake, then for mine. Then I got an email from another unschooling mom I wanted to hang out with. She also has four kids. She also does home birth. And she seems pretty cool. We had run into her family at a few different events, but this was our first purposeful meeting. Because the morning was already rough, I fed the kids a big breakfast before leaving the house so I wouldn’t have to take food with me. For the record, that never works. If I don’t bring food…if I do bring food, they beg it off of other moms. At least if I do bring food, I don’t look like a total slacker. Of course, I had no food for my kids who started a chorus of “we’re hungry” when they saw the other mom brought food to the park. Additionally, Thing One and Thing Two were wearing shirts that they had been wearing for at least three days. Maybe longer. Thing One’s looked shabby, but then I got a closer look at the plaid shirt that Thing Two refused to change out of—and it was just plain gross. The plaid kind of hid the dirt and food and whatever else habituated that shirt, but up close it was all very visible. Strike two, slacker mom. Then Thing One & Thing Two spent the time being rude and violent with each other. Thing One didn’t stop with being rude to his brother, he decided to be rude to every living thing in the park as well as some inanimate objects. Both my lovely things were displaying their most unattractive personality challenges at full blast. Thing Two had his energy ramped up to 100 mph and could not keep his body off of everyone else. Thing One, my introvert, decided that he didn’t even want to be there, so he was on full display of his anti-social, first-born, small child hating behavior.

Strike three, slacker mom.

And here I couldn’t pull my usual, “I have four kids,” slacker excuse because she also has four kids and she had burritos & watermelon and she had clean children and she had kids who were not behaving as if they had rabies.

And I feel like a failure. Not because I am a slacker mom. I know I do a lot of other things even if I am slipping on the spot checks before leaving the house and even though I am idealistic in my attempts to only feed my kids at certain times so I don’t pack snacks. And sometimes—often times even—my kids really are pleasant and fun to be around. It was just a bad day.

I feel like a failure because I could not cope with it all. I could not understand why they wouldn’t just talk to me so I could fix their issues. I tried. Thing Two just bounced away. Thing One just stalked away snarling. So then I lost it. When I can’t fix a problem, I collapse. And feel like a failure.

Worse of all, I pushed my kids away from me because I no longer knew what else to do. I remember the first time when Thing One was a baby and I realized I didn’t know how to help him and so I ended up pushing him away thinking, “Is this when I inevitably fuck up my kid?” But if anything, kids are forgiving. They forgive me.

They will forgive me…right?

journaling…

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Okay, so I have started journaling on a document instead of wasting all of my creative energy thinking up Facebook posts.  Which is cool.  I am writing more.  I have documented information about my kids that I can transfer to their much neglected baby journals.  And I have fodder for my blogs.  What follows are excerpts from my Word journal, which I call my “Captain’s Log” because it is more fun that way.

Captain’s Log…July 16, 2014

11:55 am

“I either need more alcohol or more time to do yoga,” I think as I deal with the shrieking pee-bot and her supremely shout-y brother. At least he hasn’t wished death on me yet today. She won’t leave the baby alone. Presently, she is doing a downward facing dog with her rear side pointed at his face as she shrieks between her legs at him. Poor baby.

12:30 pm

More alcohol. Definitely more alcohol. Thing One is freaking out over his Legos. Thing Two is still shouting at me. He does not like my attitude. Can’t buy me love with Neuman-O cookies, it seems. So we will make lunch and have a mandatory walk. (Did I dream about my father? I think I may have dreamed about my father last night. Either that or it is the essays on feminist motherhood I have been reading….) Lunch and a walk. As if that will fix anything. But The Dad says they don’t get enough stimulation—hence their behavior. Roughly translated, I am failing them and that is why they suck. I don’t think they suck. The Dad does. Apparently he thinks kids should be a good time all the time with no issues ever. He needs to live in a Disney movie.

Why is the shrieking pee-bot jumping at my elbow and screaming at me?

1:06 pm

I think the shrieking pee-bot is trying to wean the baby so that she can do all of the nursing without him interfering. She will be three next month, and I fear I will be unable to wean her when I planned to. She is determined to stay latched to my nipple. She locked herself in the bathroom with the baby & gave him her bottle of cow’s milk.

I also catch her copying my dance moves when “Smooth Criminal” plays. I’m not sure, but this may be considered child endangerment. Hopefully she’ll figure out her own moves.

Meanwhile, the baby follows me around the apartment at a Night of the Living Dead pace of crawling, his little hands slapping the wood floor to accent each painstaking move.

Captain’s Log…July 17

Every day I think, “Tomorrow has to be a better day.” Every day I am wrong. Are the days getting worse or just not getting better?

I tried to take Thing One on an outing, just the two of us, to a beekeeping workshop. As usual, I half-assedly look at the directions & think , “Oh, I can find that.” And then I can’t. Plus it was 5:30 in downtown traffic with construction. We spent two hours in the car trying to find the place, failing, trying to go to an art store downtown, stuck in traffic, unable to find parking…two hours in the car. We could have made it to Chicago in that time. We could have made it to Green Bay. But we were stuck in Madison the whole time. In maybe a two mile radius, maybe less. Two hours in the fucking car. When we went home, I looked at the map and realized I passed right by it several times, the beekeeping workshop, but failed to look in the right place. I felt like the biggest loser in the whole world. How fun the workshop would have been. How fun just going to the art store would have been. Instead, I am a loser who leaves us stuck in the car for two hours for absolutely nothing.

To make matters worse, poor shrieking pee-bot got me in a bear hug as I was trying to leave on our misadventure. She held on tight & would not let go. My heart breaking as I had to pry her loose and the dad says, “She’s the one you leave the most.”

Thanks, asshole.

Today, somehow, at only 12:05 in the afternoon, is no better. I could not wake up this morning. The baby did though, at 6 am. I tried to call for help to the dad, but he slept through my trying and shrieking pee-bot’s asking him for help. He left for work, and I crawled out of bed—though before I left bed, I did have all four minions with me, harmonizing the sound the baby makes. We did that, giggling, until minions started pissing off other minions which eventually pissed off her majesty—so everyone was summarily cleared out of my bed.

I then spent the next two or more hours making pancakes, doing laundry, feeding minions, refereeing minions, trying to make a cup of tea, doing dishes, cleaning around the dad’s messes as I refuse to clean up after him anymore.

I lost it. Thing Two was tackling Thing One and then throwing Duplos at him. In my scariest voice I hollered (yes, it was a horrible & scary holler calling up the ghost of all the abusive scary men in my life) at Thing Two, and the poor little thing scurried away to a corner to hiss at me but was too scared to leave his corner. For the record, I have never sent them to a corner. I guess he just felt safer hiding there. I am an evil queen sometimes. “Off with their heads,” I holler before realizing they are all I love in this world. I did apologize to him once I cooled down. I did. I know that does not make it okay. Is there anything that can make it okay?

My throat hurts.

I never should have yelled at him. I never should have. I hate that feeling of helplessness when I feel like there is nothing I can do to get him to listen to me. No matter what I do, he is defiant. I respect & love that he is defiant…but can’t he be reasonable sometimes?

Even more I hate the brief feeling of relief I get when I lose my temper and blow up like that. Blow ups do not happen often, but when they do, right before the feelings of guilt and regret, there is a brief feeling of, “That’s what you get.”

My children are not my enemy. The dad isn’t even the enemy. Not my parents either, while we’re at it.

Thing Two draws me a picture as a peace offering. He does this often after we fight. I should be drawing him more pictures.

10:24 pm

I wish I could say the day got better, but I just got in another fight with Thing Two. I don’t know what to do. I don’t like saying the same things over and over and over. I don’t like his violent, hands-on approach to everything…everything. It seems like everything, anyway. How can such a sweet kid be so angry & hostile? What have I done to make him so angry & hostile?

Captain’s Log…July 18, 2014

9:30 am

The baby is nine months old today. He is crawling like a big kid. Though he does stop to protest and demand to be carried. A bit of a complainer. That’s okay. Welcome home, kid.

I made an appointment to see an ophthalmologist. For about a month now, my right eye has felt weird. Sometimes painful, like a spoon is stuck in the eye socket and I’ve gotten used to it. So last night I started worrying that it’s a brain tumor and that’s also why I am so grumpy lately, uncharacteristically so. Usually I pop out of a grump after a day or so. But this one is lingering so long I feel as if I’ve lost my sense of humor. So it’s probably a brain tumor, right? God, I hope this is just another neurotic episode of mine, but I would feel stupid if I keeled over in a month and the doctor’s all shook their heads saying, “If only she had seen a doctor a month ago, we could have saved her.”

I asked the dad to help with childcare, but he has to work. I asked if he could go in late, etc. Nope. He offered that his ex-con (armed robbery)  brother could watch the kids. Um…. No. So I say I will get one of my friends who has a history of being with my kids watch them, and he says, “I don’t want her in the house.” ??? Well, you know what, fucker? I don’t want you in the house.

This better not be a brain tumor.

I can’t die.

10:14 am

We had a family bout of yoga without incident! Sure, it was extremely casual and completely freestyle and only lasted about ten minutes, but no one started squabbling. Then “Smooth Criminal” came on my mix, and I declared a dance break—even though no one will dance with me except for the shrieking pee-bot and the baby (who really has no choice.) Which, again, brings me to my fear of her copying my dance moves and forever being crippled for it. So I was going to put on a Janelle Monae video to give her a better example, but then I remembered Weird Al Yankovic’s latest release, “Tacky,” and decided to give Thing One and Thing Two an unschooling lesson on parody. Thing Two set at my laptop watching it over and over, backing it up to watch the same part again and again, with his guitar in his lap. Yesterday he told me he wanted to ride in a limousine. He wants to be rich and famous so he can have a chauffeur and a butler.

My therapist thinks my “Captain’s Log” is a very good idea.

 

Captain’s Log…July 19, 2014

10:49 am

Eleven years ago today I married The Dad. It seemed like a good idea. My mom fell down a hill and postponed the ceremony until she got back from the ER. The Dad’s alcoholic uncle got crazy drunk and then helped The Dad drive the kegs back to the restaurant we got them from after the wedding. I was sure I would be widowed before my wedding night. Otherwise it was a perfect day & a beautiful pagan ceremony.

I am trying a different dance with Thing Two. When he starts to ramp up—yelling and calling names and stomping and his little eyes turning red & teary—instead of raising my own voice, I lower my voice and call him to me (or go to him if my hands aren’t full) and offer a hug and soft words of concern and offers of comfort. So far, he calms right down.

I had a surreal visit to the eye doctor, partly due to an anxiety attack, and partly due to David Lynch apparently orchestrating my experience. I will write more of it later. I need to get the minions to the farmer’s market before I lose my nerve or my sense of humor. Diagnosis so far for my eye pain is old age. Oy!

10:50 pm

We survived a Saturday Farmer’s Market in Madison, Wisconsin (home of the largest farmer’s market ever) once more. I shouted this triumphantly when we reached the car. I was there with my four kids. Before we got to the market, we were across the street to go to the bank. At one point, Thing Two crawled into an empty newspaper box with the word “Free” across the top. He drew an audience of passer-byers who laughed as the shrieking pee-bot opened and closed his box. Next, the shrieking pee-bot crawled into a newspaper box so that two of my children appeared to be “Free” to the public. At one point someone did ask to take a picture. I suggested to my children that the next time they decided to do performance art, they should throw down a hat. My kids are adorable. They are. They are gorgeous. The Dad and I look a lot alike (both of us are narcissists?) We created four little clones with huge blue eyes and cherubic faces. There personalities are as outstanding as their looks. People stare at us whenever I go out with them. I do not know what they are thinking. I do not know if we are a freak show or a circus act or performance art, but we always seem to have an audience.

real help?

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I feel like crap.

My birthday is on saturday. I think that may be a big part of it. I used to love birthdays because they were all about me. And being the 4th of six kids, being quiet and shy, being sensitive and afraid of attention–rarely in my life has it been all about me. Except on my birthday.

Then I became a mom. After that it was no longer about me. Ever. Not even on so-called “Mother’s Day.”

Plus, some of you may know this. My big brother, the other “em” in my life, was killed five and a half years ago. We weren’t close-close…but we were? We were the “ems” in the family. Mike & Mary. When our parents had us do the “See no evil; Speak no evil; Hear no evil” family pose, he always put his hands over my eyes. Though he was very active in the Catholic church and was dangerously Republican, he never judged my Punk rock Pagan Socialism. He accepted that that was who I am. At least I felt that way. I may never know for sure how he felt because I never got a chance to ask. I was always too busy. Then I decided I should get to know him better–after talking to him on his birthday. Twenty days later, he was dead.

http://lostmamablog.com/2014/03/02/you-may-not-know-this-about-me-but/

Anyway. One time I always heard from him was on my birthday.
But he doesn’t call anymore. And I know that now, going into each birthday. So I feel sad.

And I found myself browsing the DAIS webpage wondering if I should talk to someone. Am I really being abused? Are the kids in danger? Am I over-reacting?

The dad has a bunch of stuff coming up about his own so-awful-no-kid-should-ever-ever-ever-have-to-experience-that childhood. And I find myself void of sympathy. Have I always been void of sympathy? Am I terrible and that is why he treats me badly? I wonder these things.

Then I see how people grossly misunderstand my six-year-old, painting him the bad guy. And I think, “He gets that from me.” And I wish it were different for him because it really sucks being misunderstood all your life. My older son gets his father’s ability to charm and woo no matter what behavior he exhibits, but the six-year-old constantly gets judged and labelled for his behavior.

Then I read one of those so-called inspirational I’m-a-Mom-so-I-know-what-you’re-going-through blogs that is addressing the anger a mom feels. And the moms are all like “give your kid a hug & a tickle.” And this just makes me more angry because it is not helpful. Is this helpful to someone else? Are there Hallmark moms out there who respond with, “Oh, of course, put down the cleaver and just give the little beast a tickle.” No, I would never take a cleaver to my kids, but I do have some pretty dark thoughts that don’t just go away with a hug.

No, it’s not these fucking Hallmark moms’ fault that I have a dark voice inside me from growing up abused and having subjected myself to abusive, non-supportive, non-validating relationships all of my life. It is not their fault that I want my roommate/ex-husband/co-parent to just move the fuck out, and he won’t. It’s not their fault that I am seemingly unable to give myself enough self-care to keep myself out of these horrible dips of depression.

sigh….

I should say something whimsical and quippy here to lighten the mood, but this is not a true mommy blog, so I’m not gonna.

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