I am annoying myself.

Today would have been Stephen’s 36th birthday.  Today is Stephen’s 36th birthday.  Stephen is 36.

Which one is correct?  I don’t know how that works. 

Every once in a while you hear about a dead celebrity on their birthday…Elvis would have been 70…Princess Di would have been 40…Ronald Reagan would have been 100…

But I have a hard time imagining Princess Di as a middle-aged mother of the groom.  Or Elvis old enough for his military pension (or, maybe he would be as well-preserved as Bob Barker who, I am convinced, died in 1998 and has been cleverly replaced by a Disney animatronic).  I have a hard time, too, imagining my husband pushing 40.

He is six weeks older than me.  For six weeks of the year I refered to him as “my old man”.  I forget about those things with more frequency.

I am annoying myself.

All the time…the hours and days and weeks probably spent on pining for a man who was such a part of me.  Is.  Would be.  Shit.

How is it that I keep thinking about him and about us as a family when we barely got started?

Ella is 6 and a half (officially) (and will tell anyone that asks).  She has lived more of her life without him than with.  Amelia reached that dubious honor several years ago.  They are more curious, lately, about their brother than their father.  This is the life that they know and, honestly, they are okay with it. 

Which makes me think I should be okay with it.  And part of me is.  Okay.  Part of me.  And that might be all that will ever be okay. 

This spring marks four years since his diagnosis.  Four years is a long time, relatively.  We are getting into “Really?  Has it been that long?” range. 

And I am annoying myself.  I can’t even imagine what others think.  I honestly don’t care and don’t want to know most of the time.  But if I am annoyed?  You all must be really annoyed.

Today is Stephen’s birthday.  He would have been 36.

And I am still in pieces.  Not itty bitty pieces, not anymore.  I’m more like the books that the bully knocked out of some wimp’s hands and she hurries to pick them all up before anybody notices or makes the situation worse.  All while trying not to be late to wherever she was going.  Wait?  Am I the wimp or the books? 

Either way, it’s not like trying to sweep glitter (the herpes of craft supplies: it never goes away).  The pieces are much easier to find.  There’s just so damn many of them that it is overwhelming sometimes.  Most times.  All the time.

One piece at a time.  And, really, who cares if I ever get there?

By asking the question, I am still…annoying myself.

Escapism.

I have a confession:  When Ella gets on the bus at 7:19am, I usually go back to bed.  Okay, I almost always go back to bed.  Shit.  Always.  I always go back to bed.  My phone even knows to alarm me so I can get Amelia to school on time. 

I’ve been all wrapped up in several book series, most of which are Young Adult.  I’m not embarrassed.  Okay, maybe a little.  I tried to read a non-YA book and it took me a week of stops and starts.  Adults are way too complicated.  I much prefer the simple “I like him does he like me; OMG there’s a killer vampire” storylines that appeal to teenage girls. 

Let’s just call it prescreening.  You know, for that time in the not too distant future (name that theme song!) when my littles will have their noses stuck in various and sundry steamy teen romance novels.  I always consider myself lucky that my own mother wasn’t much of a reader and didn’t bother to pick up some of the paperbacks I found in my grandma’s back bedroom.  (Some of those romance novels are thinly veiled erotica rags.)  (Thus was the beginning and the entirety of my sexual education.) 

The gist of this is that I stay up far too late reading.  Life as I have always known it has ceased for the most part.  Only recently have I ventured past city limits for a reason other than my weekly trip to the library.  Notice that I’m not mentioning the gym.

Let’s not talk about that.  Please.  It’s been a whole week without it and I already feel squishier.  Granted, I’m working again.  Sort of.  I’m volunteering my time to pull flies for A Christmas Carol again this year.  It’s a pain in the ass to find a babysitter all those nights (and somewhat expensive for a volunteer gig) but totally worth it.  My triceps aren’t squishier that’s for sure. 

I’m still in a funk.  I thought it was seasonal but it might be something more.  I have a near constant low-level frustration and maybe even anger.  And it’s not going away.

Maybe I thought things would be different after three plus years. 

I feel like there is so much I want to do and either the drive is gone or what I want to do is not possible, either logistically or financially.  And then there are the things that are out of my control. 

I have applied to Grad school.  I have been kicking it around since summer and I finally did it two weekends ago.  It’s a four semester fast track program for people who already have a BA.  After four semesters I will have a teaching certificate for secondary education.  I’ll be able to teach anything in the language arts field: literature, creative writing, drama, speech and journalism.  I’m not so sure about the journalism thing.  I can copy-edit the crap out of an article but I don’t think I could show someone how to power up a Mac much less do a page layout.  Oh well…the other fields are a natural for me.

Part of the application process is providing a writing sample (250 words) stating why I want my teaching certificate.

Yeah.  About that.

I’m going to go ahead a guess that “It fits in my kids schedule” isn’t an acceptable answer.  Nor is “I’ve never had a pension” and “I’m tired of paying for my own crappy insurance.” 

I suppose that I should talk about my “scope of practical knowledge” and “life experience”.  Or some such.

I’ve taken the first step.  I’ll write their essay.  Eventually.  I’ll find 3 people to write a letter of reference.  (I know of two and need to find a third.)  I’ll arrange to have my transcripts sent.  I’ll go for an interview.

I feel like this is the right thing to do.  I’d say that this is for me but that’s not true.  Not entirely.  I’d like to be a useful contributor to society again.  I’m tired of living like this, afraid every time the van clanks funny and sticking cash into an envelope for late in the month trips to the grocery or doctor co-pays long past payday.  I hate that.  It can’t be helped at this point, not without professional intervention.  The only answer is to get off my ass and get a job.

If it plays out right, I will be in my very own classroom the same fall that Amelia starts Kindergarten.  See?  Just like I planned it.  Sort of.

This?  Is not going to be easy.  I suspect I will come through it just fine.  I feel like I know what I’m doing.  It’s the logistics that are dragging me down but, as I’m fond of saying, we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it.

In the meantime, I’d really like to not feel like I’m being sat on all day.  I mean that figuratively.  There was a time when somebody was always on me.  Now, they use their words (whiny and demanding by late afternoon) to attract my attention.  I just have this feeling in my chest, a tightness, that isn’t going away.  It’s not a physical thing.  Physically I still feel healthy and strong.  No, this is something much more sinister. 

And it just isn’t going away.

Everywhere I turn, I am reminded of what I don’t have.  And I’m not talking about a new car or a bigger tv.  You and I both know that I am not talking about anything material at all (although it would be nice to have something under the tree that I didn’t pick out/purchase/wrap for myself). 

The feeling isn’t going away.  And I’m not sure I can get past it to even enjoy what I do have.

Has, is, will.

Let’s file this under “shit I don’t want to do”, shall we?

When looking for a 5k in the not so distant future (name that song and I’ll buy you a beer…”In the not so distant future…”) I came across Teddy Bear Hollow.

Teddy Bear Hollow is a local group to support grieving children.  Of which I have two.  Or, one.  Usually.  Anyway, I am interested.  And I am really interested in supporting such a worthy organization.  (I will be running August 28th…and asking for donations this summer so save your nickels.  Don’t worry.  I don’t run fast.) 

I notice that they have a second Saturday of the month meeting for the children.  Crafts, activities and they would maybe meet some friends who are in the same boat.  Ella has been talking a lot about families and how our family is different from her friends’ families.  I thought it would be good for her to meet some other kids who are missing a mom or a dad. 

My littles?  Did me proud.  The place is run by volunteers, which is totally fine, except for the director.  All women.  All of the “Ladies who Lunch” variety.  Oh, and some sophomore Social Work majors looking for some resume fodder.  All good.

The head Lady Who Lunches (LWL) says to me at registration “So, who have you lost?”

Ella says “My daddy is in heaven.  He sick and died.”

Without missing a beat Amelia says “Our baby brother died too.  He’s with Daddy.”

Oh man.  I choked up.  And LWL needs a moment.  It might have been too much information coming from two tiny people.

So there are 19 kids and 11 parents/other caregivers.  The kids range in age from 3 (Amelia is the youngest) to 17.  The kids are split by age (bigs and littles) and sent off to do whatever it is they are doing.  The parents gather.

LWL asks us to introduce ourselves and talk about why we are here. 

I am just about beside myself.  Talk about a group of folks lost in the world.  Some have lost children, some spouses, one grandparent.  Lots of cancer.  A suicide.  A heart surgery gone very wrong.  And 19 kids between us.  Mostly women.  One daddy (who was hot and had a very interesting tattoo) and one grandpa who brought his granddaughter who was missing her mom. 

It is 119 degrees in this room.  I am sweaty and, thusly, refuse to remove my hoodie.  Also, I’m in a new bra and a little uncomfortable because I’m not used to an underwire (too much?).   My face is hot.  My eyes are already burning and I am trying to hold it together.

I am not meant for support groups.  I loathe support groups.  I didn’t go to one when Will died.  My doctor offered to connect me with one after Stephen died.  I’ll say it again:  I loathe support groups. 

And not because of the crying.  After almost 3 years of being medicated to the point of almost never crying except in anger and almost never in sadness, the crying is almost welcome.  Except in public.  With hot daddy sitting right next to me. 

What got to me was that most of the people in the group had a more recent loss than mine.  And, as we went around the table, they would say something and I would think to myself “Yep, I did that”  or “Oh Em Gee, that was me 18 months ago”.  

I could see exactly where I had been.

Huh.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t much to see on the “exactly where I will be” front. 

In the end, I blubbered and blathered for my five minutes about Stephen and about the girls and about getting up and changing diapers after the funeral and how there was never time for myself until just recently and the littles being so little. 

I did learn something…one thing…that I don’t miss having Stephen around anymore.  That isn’t to say that I wouldn’t give anything for him to walk through the door but I have learned to live without him and how to be the double parent and how to get through the day. 

What brought me to tears today was thinking about all he has missed, is missing and will miss.  In theory, he sees it all.  In theory.  I don’t believe.  I don’t think that time is the same in Heaven as it is on Earth.  It’s just my theory but a lifetime to us is a blink in the grand scheme of things. 

How can he see my baby becoming a little girl almost overnight?  And did he catch that Ella spent a good 10 minutes at supper tonight telling my dad all about lemurs? 

He missed it.  I just know it.

And then I cry.

And I am so tired.  I forgot how tiring it is to grieve. 

And how we never run out of tears.

I don’t know that we will go back.  I need to suss out what the littles got out of the experience.  I just…can’t.  I don’t think I can.  I will…if they find it helpful…but I don’t like this feeling of getting better and feeling okay about the whole thing.  And then everything comes crashing back.

Fifty thousand.

Fifty thousand hits in just over 2 years.

Thanks, internet, for the love.  I would not be where I am today without this blog. 

When I started writing, it was entirely for me.  I had to keep a record of my Ambien induced ramblings about life and death.  Mostly about death. 

And you try to celebrate little victories like everyone sleeping past 7am and potty training and that first plane ride together. 

The big, fat losses fueled by depression and Absolut vanilla would have been debilitating if I didn’t have somewhere to sort them all out.  And get a little comment love too.

But I’m not a comment whore.  I don’t ask for opinions and I rarely answer questions directly or respond to comments in any way.  Rarely.

Now, the Fat Camp thing is entirely different.  I feel like I have information to pass onto others…to do some good with my time and my words.  So, ask away.

But really, who has done what I have done?  How many of us (and I’m positive I’m not the only one) have buried a son and a husband, less than five years apart?  Seriously.  It’s a lonely place to be. 

I watch people all the time.  It’s my favorite hobby.  And I wonder what it would be like to be innocent again.  And I’m not talking childlike innocence but I’m talking about the whole “everything will be fine because everything has always been fine” kind of thinking that appears to prevail.  Parents whose children’s most traumatic issue is a broken arm. 

I don’t know.

I still have a chip on my shoulder, fifty thousand hits later.  I still feel like the universe or God or some-freaking-body owes me something.  Anything.  A couple really good years would be nice.

Wait.

What if it’s now?  What if these are my good years?  I mean, things are pretty good right now.  I’m in a good place.  The littles are thriving.  We have everything we need.  What if…what if…

Would it be selfish to want just a little bit more?  Some security, financial and otherwise, would be nice.  A date.  I could use a little positive male attention.  Time away.  Really away.  Far away.  Like, in the woods…away. 

Well anyway, thanks.  Thanks to anyone and everyone who reads this now or in the future.  I started this for me but I’m glad you’re along for the ride.

My collections.

I am a collector.

I come from a long line of collectors, you see.

My grandparents had to be cut off after going to one too many estate sales.  They would buy a whole box full of “treasures” just for one little piece.  Not to admire.  Not to sell.  Just to own.  (Years later, my grandmother took up oil painting and started painting the furniture.  The antique furniture.  Nothing is sacred.)

My grandma (the other side of the family) saved all the dried out flower arrangements she was ever given in the 80’s and 90’s.  In the same decade, my grandpa (God bless his German soul) collected used tires, lawnmowers and nurse’s shoes.  Women’s nursing shoes.  The white ones with the thick soles.  He never offered an explanation.  He just started wearing them.

My parents throw things out just for the sake of getting rid of things.  Maybe this skips a generation?

Anyway, I am a collector.  I collect raw materials: paper, pens, blank journals, fabric and patterns, paint, crayons, spices and herbs (I can’t write “herbs and spices” without thinking of KFC), cookie sprinkles, tea bags…

I can probably add some more later but they have one thing in common: every item in that list is used to make something else.  To create.  Not that I have ever “used up” anything from that list without immediately replacing what little I have actually used.  No, no.  In fact, I’m somewhat methodical in my replacement timing and strategy, keeping in mind cost and possible future use. 

I have other collections.  Unframed photos, meant for a scrapbook or album.  Recipe books for meals not yet eaten.  Heck, my stack of unread books is almost to the point of being overwhelming.

I collect movies on Netflix.  My queue is over 300 movies long.  I’ll never, ever, not in a million years watch them all.  I’d like to fancy that I don’t have the time but you and I both know that I do.  But I’m not always in the mood for what they choose to send so it sits on top of my TV until I’m ready.  (Romantic Comedy and Documentary, I’m talking to you.)

I collect books on Goodreads.  335 books on my “to read” shelf.  Most of them recommended by someone else.  And then what do I do at the library?  I find 3 or 4 books NOT on the list and try to read those first. 

And we all know about my sock and underwear collection (times three people). 

I might have a problem. 

Maybe “collector” isn’t the right label for me.  Maybe I get to be a hoarder.

Nah.

The point of this (and there is a point) is that this week I have collected something else.  Something new.

I am in an advanced stage of “Don’t give a shit”.  It’s chronic.  If not terminal.  I really just don’t care.

Now, this isn’t a bad thing.  Not at all.  Actually it’s a good thing.

I have given up on stressing about things that don’t matter.  Seriously.  I yell at the kids less.  I breathe deeply when Ella is jacking around in the van instead of putting on her seat belt.  I used to stare her down and make threats.  And yell.  Amelia peed in my bed last night.  She’s been sans pullup since early December and pretty proud of it.  I don’t know what happened but it involved an extensive bed change very late at night.  Don’t care.  Did laundry and cleaned the mattress today.  Doesn’t matter.

The table is covered in crayons, leftover from a before bed coloring spree.  The littles made for me a dozen pictures in the span of thirty minutes.  I taped them all to the closet door.  Every one.  Ella and I purchased and played Mouse Trap today and played for almost 2 hours.  She was home sick today.  On the one day that was supposed to be my kid free day.  We watched an hour of Looney Tunes and then Smurfs.  We napped.  We made jello.

There was a time, just a few months ago, when things like crumbs on the counter bugged me.  Not that I wanted to do anything about it.  I didn’t like it.  And I was resentful that if I wanted the counter clean, I was the one to do it.  (And, frankly, I’m having a hard time giving up that resentment but that’s a different day.)  So the crumbs would sit there.  And I would get pissed every time I walked by them.  I could see them in my sleep because I knew that they would still be there in the morning.

And now?  I care so little about the crumbs, that I sweep them into my hand and drop them into the sink.

Huh.

Makes no sense.

Anyway, there is a change happening.  The littles can see it.  They don’t know what it is but they are enjoying it.   I play.  And I haven’t played in years.  We read.  We all read a lot now.  They see me reading while they are playing and making messes.  And I don’t care about the mess because I’m into my book.  I’m cooking again and forcing them to eat what’s there because “it’s on the menu” and, because of school, they can wrap their brains around it.

And it’s all because I stopped.  I’ve stopped making my heart race with anxiety and worry and anger.

I’m collecting again. 

I’m collecting memories with my girls.  I never want them to remember how I turned a room upside down looking for a puzzle piece and throwing a minor tantrum in the process.  But I am hoping that they remember the day that mommy played UNO all afternoon and how we all drank peppermint tea and used the  “fancy sugar” to sweeten it.  I hope they remember watching movies and eating popcorn.  Dressing up all the dolls to play school where I am never allowed to be the teacher.  Making brownies and eating the batter off the spatula. 

This is what happens when you stop to sweep the crumbs off the counter.

And get on with life.

Absolut Valentine.

Oh, eharmony, how you vex me.  My brain is feverish trying to outwit you.  All I want is a sign of life.  Some form of personality that is sure to exist.  Is anyone out there?

I tried to change my profile picture but you rejected it:

I figured I could get a response that I would not get if I used the tried and true profile picture.  Lack of mascara and all.  But, no, eharmony.  You had to be an asshole, didn’t you?  Why do you hate on creativity? 

So I changed my responses from tame to…unusual?  I’m considering pretending to be a man just to see what kind of things women are posing.  Posting.  Whatever.  Think like a man.  I know they are visual and since I can’t possibly pretend to be the hot chick, I have go with booze and food. 

Question 1: What are you most passionate about?

My new answer:  The perfect fried cheese, books that keep me up late at night, making sure my daughters do not grow up to be tramps and the owners of trucks with a bumper sticker that says “Save a horse, ride a cowboy.”

Question #2: What are THREE things for which you are most thankful?

My new answer:  Clean laundry, laughing until I pee, Miller Lite

Question #6:  What is the most important quality you are looking for in another person?

My new answer:  I am looking for a grown up.  I don’t mean an old fart, set in their ways, eats dinner before the news kind of grown up.  I mean somebody looking for a real person.  Oh, and a sense of humor is always nice.

Question #9:  How do you typically spend your leisure time?

My new answer:  Planning the next nap.  Barring that, I bake.  I bake cookies and bread and snacks and dinners.

Question #7:  Other than appearance, what do people typically notice about you?

My new answer:  I’m usually the funny looking friend of the hot girl.  Because of that, I’m not noticed until much later.

Question#11:   Describe the last book that you read and enjoyed. What was it about? What did you like most about it?

My new answer:  I devour books like most people devour a taco.  I would have to update this every day or so and that would just get annoying.

Question #12:  Describe one thing about yourself that only your best friends know.

My new answer:  I laugh at things that twelve year old boys find funny.

Seriously?  Does anyone actually read profiles anyway?  I didn’t get a single match today.  (Oh eharmony, are you on to me?  Will you honestly take my money for a fourth month and not even get me a little over the sweater action?)  If I had more ambition, I might call the better business bureau and have them come after Dr. Quack and his ultimate compatibility formula. 

Still, the experience is not nearly as bad as Weight Watchers.  Who knows?  Maybe somebody out there will share my love of Nutty Bars.

Date by number.

For the record, this is the fourth storm of the year and the third time that we have been snowed in.  Seriously.  Worst winter in half a century.  Most snowfall since 1948.  Average temperature for the year is 3 degrees.  Ella has been to school only two days in the last three weeks.  My dad has occupied my chair (and my Aerobed) for two nights.

*Sigh*

At least I have the internet to keep me warm: Facebook, yahoo mail, Barnes and Noble (so I can window shop the Nook and pet it with my eyes), Twitter, gmail, Goodreads, Netflix, eharmony.  Repeat.  Ad nauseam.

Wait?  eharmony?

Yeah.  It turns out I’ve been watching lots of USA network and Discovery Health.  I am wooed by the slick and happy ads with happy and beautiful couples holding hands and dancing and making out in front of my children. 

I had to make the choice, this week, whether to continue my paid “membership”.  What would you have done?

In three months, I have been sent approximately 600 matches from a 60 mile radius.  The first month, I was getting 8-10 a day.  Today, I got one.  Out of the 600, I immediately rejected about 100 for reasons that began with “I can’t stand someone who is overweight” to writing only in text speak.  Another 100 rejected me for reasons such as “other” and “I’m in a relationship” and “I don’t feel the chemistry is there.” 

400-ish left in the shallow end of the dating pool.

I’ve cast a wide net, just so you know.  Age 31-45.  Don’t care about race.  Care a bit more about religion but nothing other than “prefers the company of men” is a definite deal breaker.  So for the remaining suitors, I make the first move. 

If you have never been on a dating site like eharmony, you make a profile and answer questions about yourself.  Who has influenced your life, what can you not live without, what are you looking for in a partner, what your friends would say about you.  Blah, blah.  I filled out every question.  More than half of the men I was “matched” with couldn’t be bothered to finish their test.  If you can’t take the time to fill out a questionnaire, will you call me on my birthday?  Right.

So then, one party or the other can send a series of 5 multiple choice questions to make the first move.  This?  Has always been me.  I have made the first move 400 times.  It’s my default.  Everyone gets the same questions.  It’s my double-blind litmus test.

Out of the 400, I have had (ready for this?) 34 responses to those first questions.  That’s. It. 

Out of those 34, only 10 have gotten to the point of “open communication”.  Which is about eight back and forth communications of multiple choice, list memorization and essay questions except that nobody needs a #2 pencil. 

Sound like high school?  Because it feels like it.  Maybe that’s why dating belongs to youth.

So out of the 10, two were total creeps.  I mean, creepy heeby-jeebie I hope he doesn’t trace my IP address and show up in my driveway kind of creepy. 

Eight remain.  I exchanged email addresses with four of them.  The other four fizzled one we reached open communication.

Out of the four, two never responded past the first email exchange.

I dropped the ball on one and maybe I can get it back but probably not.

And then there was one that I was into.  And, he must not be that into me because 2 emails in, he just up and quit.  And I can’t stand thinking too hard about it because then I shatter my already fragile ego.

600 matches in three months.  Two I liked and would consider meeting.

*sigh*

I should not renew my membership.  The success rate isn’t what late night tv would have you believe.  At least for me. 

My guess is, I should leave off the picture next time.

Next time.  Next time, I’m going to fill out that questionnaire and say what I really want to say.  That I want someone who has read a book in the last 5 months.   Someone that doesn’t spend more on his haircuts than me.  I would like somebody that works for a living and might even have a callous or two.  I really want someone who wants kids.  “Maybe” is not a good enough answer for anything.  I’m not looking for someone who wants a running partner or someone to clean fish. 

But I think the key here is the picture.  Men are visual learners, dadgumit.  I can wax poetic but all they see is a year old profile picture of someone who has been through the ringer with grown out highlights, linebacker shoulders and a barely there layer of makeup.

I think I’m wasting my money.

A responsible adult.

The letter read:

“Der Snta I wt a kteeen. Sat is awl. Luv EllA”

Translation:  “Dear Santa I want a kitten.  That is all.  Love Ella”

This is the letter to Santa that I find in the aftermath of Nutcracker.  (The post-show party that usually contains tantrums and button pushing and boundary testing.  Who are these children?)  Anyway, so I find this letter in her school backpack.  All she wants for Christmas is a kitten.

And because I could not give her a live kitten (Santa doesn’t bring them, I told her.  She told me to go and get one at the shelter and bring it to her myself.  Smarty pants), Ella got a litter of kittens.  Five of them.  In a basket.  And a vet set. 

Amelia got a newborn Cabbage Patch baby that smells just like a Cabbage Patch should…little girl baby powder and PVC.  And a doctor kit for her dolls.  That she largely ignores because “me be mommy, not doctor.” 

My babies.  One more Christmas.  One more time of playing Santa, listening to Christmas music, having a cocktail and waking up too early to the excited squeals of tiny people. 

Is this really our third Christmas without Stephen?  Has Ella had just as many without him as with him?  His ornaments are on the tree.  We bless him every night when we pray.  But how much do they remember?  And is it a good thing?

This is my third year without anything under the tree for me.  That’s not true.  Ella made an ornament at school for me and I wouldn’t open it until today.   And my aunt got me a book.  But, really?  It’s been all about the kids.

And Christmas is about the kids.  It is in every house where kids live. 

But part of me wants to pitch the biggest effing fit you ever did see. 

I have been trapped in this house (other than an ill-advised trip to Target for pre-blizzard supplies late Wednesday evening) since Tuesday night.  I have made 9 meals.  Only 4 of them were even touched by the littles.  They are high on Christmas magic, bubblegum and chocolate milk and can’t be bothered to consume either protein or vegetables.  I have done 3 loads of laundry, picked up the living room 4 times and vacuumed twice.  I have attempted two naps, both thwarted by cunning five year old.

I have checked Facebook feed no less than 18 times today.  I have called just about every relative in the US Cellular network.  Only taken one shower.  Eww.  But have taken out the trash 3 times and have made 2 loaves of bread.

What I could stand is a little human contact.  Not, you understand, contact by little humans.  I have enough of that thankyouverymuch.  I could stand to have someone who eats what I cook and who laughs at Randy Quaid in a bathrobe, unleashing holy hell into Clark’s storm sewer and looking like he’s taking the world’s biggest pee the whole while.  “Mornin’.  Shitter’s full!” 

I miss my husband.  I miss being married.  Christmas sucks.  The holidays suck.  Being stuck at home sucks when you’d rather be somewhere else, having a conversation with a live person and eating something that somebody else cooked.  I don’t even mind doing the dishes.  This is really hard.  This holiday stuff.

I should have seen it coming.  It crept up on me.  My first relatively unmedicated Christmas.  My first time we were really alone.  We couldn’t leave even if we wanted (and we did, trust me).  Nobody could come over because of the drift taller than me outside my garage door.  We’re all Little House in the Big Woods out here.  It’s a wonder that the settlers didn’t commit some kind of felony just out of boredom. 

And I hate relying on other people.  For anything, really.  I like doing it all myself.   And I can’t.  I learned that two Christmases ago.  I hate asking for help and I usually don’t have the extra cash to pay for the help.  Except in the case of mowing and snow removal.  I have a wonderful 15 year old boy across the street, hungry for a little extra cash which I am only too happy to hand over.  You know, when he digs the door out so I can open it and give him the money.

So what did I want for Christmas?  You didn’t ask.  But I really still want a Nook…an e book reader.  I’d take a Kindle at this point but I’m still looking hard at the Nook.  I’d like an itouch.  A flip video camera but just because I regret not having one when the girls were babies, if only to hear Stephen’s voice again.  (I’ve forgotten…so I know they have too.)  I’m really looking to get a real camera.  Like a Nikon.  And then I’d have to learn to use Photoshop.   And I need another hobby like a hole in my head but that’s okay.    So it could have been a gadgety Christmas.

Instead, I was responsible and put new tires on the van.  It was approximately the cost of both a Nook and an itouch combined.  A week before Christmas. 

I hate being a grownup sometimes.  I want to be Ella.

Dear Santa, I want my husband back.  That is all.  Love, Jenn

Determined.

Ella was in a bubbly bath tonight, making a bubble beard when I hear her call out:

“Mom.  Mom!  Know what?”    Sidenote: She rarely calls me “mama” anymore.  That hurts a little.

What?

“Santa Claus isn’t a real person.”

Who told you that?

“Nobody.  He’s just a guy in a suit.  There are lots and lots of them”

Huh.  Who brings the toys then?

“Wellllll…I think maybe the persons who made them.  Like maybe elves.”

I see.  You might be right.

“Yeah but there’s no Santa Claus.  There can’t be that many guys with a beard.”

When did my kid grow up?  And why are we having this conversation at the ripe, old age of 5?  Amelia stood next to me the whole time and didn’t say anything.  She is probably forming her own hypothesis about it all.  Or maybe she’s considering her next tactical manuever regarding the acquisition and consumption of her almost empty candy pumpkin.  She might not be thinking about Santa at all.

We don’t do much concerning Santa anyway.  One gift is all he brings.  The rest are from me or whomever else is on the tag.  But still.  Next will we talk about how babies are made (both girls know how they are born courtesy of Discovery Health)?  Or will be discuss the relative merits of Disney versus Dreamworks?  I am not ready for the world of big kids.  Not at all.

I went to Matty’s funeral today.  I had twitched my breakfast away by 9am so I was starving which made me kind of nauseous the whole time but I think that was to be expected.  The funeral was very generic.  It was organized and given by people who, I think, never really knew him.  The pastor seemed like he was trying to convert every butt in the seat.  He probably knew that he was preaching to the theatre heathens and thought he should do his best.  I think it was simply that he didn’t know Matt so he needed to fill the time.  I suspect his family never really knew him either.  If they did, they would have had one of us speak a little about him and our memories of him

In a big way, I’m glad that I was mildly annoyed with the whole situation.  That, and the whole large crowd of strangers issue.  I wanted to hide.  Actually, I wanted to not be there but I felt it in bad form to stay away.  No, my annoyance took away from my own reflection on Stephen’s funeral and Will’s funeral too.  It kept me from being all wrapped up in my own dark place and made me remember that this day was about Matt.  And not about Stephen or Will or me.  Especially not about me.  I was determined not to be a wreck.  I would not look at anyone. 

But times like that…funerals, weddings, family functions, reunions….that I really miss being part of a couple.  I could have leaned a little on my husband.  Been comforted by his presence.  His familiar hand.  And even if he wasn’t there, couldn’t be there, at least knowing that I could re-hash the memory for him over crock pot chili or at a commercial after the children were in bed would make the whole thing that much more bearable. 

This?  Is doing nothing for my hermit tendencies.  Even eharmony has given up on me.  They’ve sent me 200+ presumably single fellas in the metro area and there might be one to consider.  My standards have been raised.  I was totally spoiled. 

There is no such thing as Mr. Right Now when you are pushing thirty-five with two littles.

Hamthrax.

If this blog were a child, someone should have called CPS by now.

Sorry about that.

In my defense… (sidenote:  What do you say to a stagehand in a suit?  “Will the defendant please rise.”)

In my defense, I had an opera to do.  And a computer with a battery that won’t charge.  And we all had the Hamthrax.  Or at least I think we did.  In hindsight, the girls and I had all the symptoms.  Which spares us from the rest of the booger eaters out there.  The girls were each out of school for a week.  I took my Mucinex (sent straight from heaven) and went to work.  The opera stops for no pandemic.

What else?  I went to Philadelphia for 3 days, also sans computer.  I am still fearful of airport security and I think they would have made me turn on my computer and the battery issue rears its head again. 

I am trying this new thing.  I’m going to bed at a reasonable time.  Ebay is no longer interesting.  I have disconnected myself from all message boards.  Facebook is kind of like brushing my teeth.  Twice a day, every day.  But going to bed “early” after working for real all day means that my house and my blog and my pile of laundry have all suffered.  There just aren’t enough hours.  I’ll get it figured out.  One day. 

Will’s seventh birthday was last week.  Hard to believe that I could be the mom of a seven year old.  My friend’s youngest daughter is one day younger than Will so I get to see him grow up through her eyes.  If that makes any sense.  That little girl will always have a special place in my heart.  And she will probably never know why.

I am in the constant quest for balance.  I’m in the swing of working a little too much.  Parenting too little.  Not sewing at all.  My house is trashed.  Real meals are few (Lucky Charms for supper anyone?).  A stack of mail a foot high. 

But I’m okay.  We’re okay.  And I’ll be around.  You know, unless the Hamthrax strikes.  Again.