Stairway to Imagination

Fostering his love of reading has been one of the best things I have ever done. At 8 years old, he regularly reads two hours a day, many days much more than that. He is an expert on Abraham Lincoln, and loves Davinci’s inventions. He is bright, sensitive, and is a terrific big brother.

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For the Photographers:

My 50 1.4 is acting up, so the focus is soft, which really pisses me off. Captured with on camera flash and a Gary Fong Lightshpere.

“Are you socializing him?”

When I was a kid, I remember my mother getting off the phone with my grandma and remarking to my step-devil, “She is repeating her stories, again”.

At that age, I loved my grandmother’s stories. Over and over. I loved the way she talked to me about the same things. I had no idea why my mom was so irritated.

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I don’t call my mom after 4:30. She is usually on her way to drunk after that time. I now know why my mom was irritated all those years ago. It’s because talking to an alcoholic is annoying. They hold onto one subject and find a way to say their piece every time a window opens. I know this because now, my mother does it to me.

“Are you socializing him”? My mother asks….. AGAIN. It’s almost drunk:30, and I am fucking sick of this conversation with her.

“Mom, seriously, he is fine. He is in basketball, and Lego Club. We just moved here, friends take time to make”. Please leave it alone.

“It’s a big deal”, she replies. I am so fucking pissed that she even questions my parenting given the obvious deficits in her own ability to mother me.

“Mom, you are going too far, I don’t keep him locked in a basement, we get out, we do stuff”.

She continues with her psyco-babble until I finally put my foot down. When I say finally, I mean we have had this damn conversation at least a dozen times since I moved here. Seriously. No joke. A dozen times. Conservatively.

“Mom, I can’t talk to you about this anymore, I am getting off the phone”.

“Alright bye”, she replies, words starting to slur.

Then she texts me: I LOVE YOU.

I give no reply. It is so condescending and coming on the heels of her tequila filled state, I can’t reply.  The next day, she texts the same, and a 31 year old woman, parent to two replies, “I love you too Mom, I will not discuss my children’s socialization with you again. I am doing a fine job of giving them what they need, If you can’t trust that and move on, there is not much else I can say”.

She texts back, “I’m sorry, you are the best Mom ,wish I were u”.

Yes, thanks for that mother, it’s four hours past drunk:30, that means a lot.

Step-Devil and 8 year old me

Dear Reader,

This recounting is one of several I will share with you. I open up so you might know you are not the only one. To the teen or the young adult with similar backgrounds, I got through it, and so will you- if you fight for yourself. Don’t take on the inheritance they have given you. Create your own, change the meaning and the outcome of your story. It is not easy, but breaking those chains is one of the most liberating and validating victories you will experience. All my love. N.

“She’s a drinker”. “I’m a drinker”. “He is a drinker.” All these phrases are said with a tone of reverence in my family. We do not use the word alcoholic, but being a drinker is a badge of honor. Unfortunately for my brothers and I, the affect of the drinkers in our family didn’t bequeath us any sense of pride or honor. What we received instead was uncertainty, dysfunction, and pain.

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Step-devil was drunk in the dining room. My mother was yelling for me. I hated when they did this. I hated when they fought and brought me into it. I hated when the cops came, and took one of them away, or escorted us to my grandmother’s. I hated the stuffed animals the officers gave us. This night didn’t end with the cops, but it ended up with a little blonde girl standing up for herself the best way she could.

I came out of my room. Telling myself to not make any faces. Faces are bad on nights like this. My eyes meet his. His face was angry, and he was cruel.
“Did your mom tell you she is a slut’? He spat with all the vengeance he could muster. “Did she tell you Robert is not your dad”?

“Yes, she told me”.

The acidic words rolled off his drunk breath with unbelievable ease. He took pleasure in making other people feel small and weak. What is worse, is she didn’t stop him. She allowed him to hurt me. As a mother now, I cannot fucking fathom standing by watching some asshole hurt my kids, but she did. She always chose him.

Much of that night has been faded with time. What remains crystal clear is how I stood up for myself. After he was done, I went into my room. I took down all the things he given me. My New Kids On The Block poster, and sleeping bag, various toys and things. I took all that shit, and I dropped it by his feet and told him, “I don’t want this stuff anymore”, and I walked into my room, head held high.

I believe this was a defining moment for me. It planted a seed in my heart to be a fighter, to stand up for what is right no matter how terrifying it may be.

I made my kids smell my poop

Listen, sometimes mothers have to take drastic action, or the nuts will run the nuthouse.

Before going to the bathroom, I told my kids, “unless you are bleeding or dying, let me poop in peace”.

Thing 1 and Thing 2 in unison, “Okay Mom”.

Just as the grand finale was beginning, I hear in the other room, “No! Stop! It’s dark in here!” Then a series of thuds, bangs and yelling between my cherubs.

This is not the peaceful dump I had imagined. Drastic action must be taken, a precedent must be set so future poops will not be compromised.

“Get your butts in the bathroom, now”! I hollered. I hate sitting on the toilet longer than necessary. It isn’t comfortable, I don’t know how my husband can treat it like a day at the spa…. The kids open the door and immediately plug their noses.

“If you choose to be mean to each other while I am in the bathroom, I am going to call you in each and every time I poop, just so you can smell it. Be nice, or smell the funk”.

In unison, “Yes, Mom”.image(1)

Keep that in your back pocket, moms. You’re welcome.

What Can I Tell Jill on Wednesday?

“What are your three goals for the coming week”? Jill looks at me with her caring inquiry.

“I need to spend time alone. I value being alone. Intentional time with my kids. We are together all day every day, but intentional time is different than idle time. Home school doesn’t always lend itself to connectedness.”

I pause. Fumbling through my Rolodex of commitments, perceived obligations, and desire; what is most important for me to invest in this week? “Working out. I always feel better when I do. Riding my bike with the sun on my face. It helps.”

I felt satisfied with the answers. Confident Jill would approve, I gave a “that is my final answer” nod.

Are my goals genuine? Did I just say those things because I care for her approval? Maybe a little bit of both. They are certainly good goals, and I do care what she thinks of me. I shouldn’t, I know I shouldn’t. I usually don’t care what anyone thinks of me. I am going for help, why do I care if I look put together. Fuck. She knows I’m not put together. That is plain as day. Yes. Those goals, genuine for sure… I think.

Alone time. Check. Me, food, beer, and a book. It’s like a mini vacation. If you are ever in Boise, go to Sockeye Brewery. They are fantastic.

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Intentional time with my children. Check. Tim and I took the kids fishing.

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Working out….. It’s only Tuesday, I have until tomorrow to accomplish that. Oy.