The Kindness of Strangers

Twice in my life I’ve been a single parent. This post from Bob and Emily very accurately relates how people will treat you when they observe that you are on your own. They sniff out my crackhead prostitute self with my ankle-biters from hell faster than they can notice a ring missing from my all-important digit. NOT ONCE has anyone “assumed” that I took my kids and left an abusive marriage for the safety of all of us. But… fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke, right?

Except this one time. There was one moment where someone either didn’t assumed or didn’t care about my lifestyle as a welfare-reaping gutter slut. 

It was one of those days where I had to work later than planned and then had to rush around town with tired, hungry children to get errands done in the evening. Truth be told, I was equally as cranky as they were. So, for simplicity sake, I stopped by a diner near our home. We were able to order food, take three different trips to the bathroom (because they never have to pee at the same time), and get through the meal with more or less success. The only real issue was that The Boy was being super squirrely and climbing around the empty booth behind us and sometimes he was louder than most would consider restaurant-appropriate. I smiled apologetically at the tables even though I didn’t really care that they were annoyed. We have just as much right to be here as anyone else I thought to myself. As I finished that thought, the manager of the restaurant approached our table. Well shit… “Excuse me,” he said. “I’m so sorry, we are all just really tired. We’ll get out of here so we don’t bother people.” I quickly interjected. “Actually, he said, as another customer was leaving, they purchased ice cream sundaes for your family. I just came to ask what kind you guys wanted.”

Because I was over tired, and more because I’m a baby, I cried a bit. The kids FINALLY settled down out of shock and confusion. It was so refreshing that somebody wanted to do something nice for us. As we ate our ice cream, the girls kept asking me why someone would just buy us dessert. I decided to use the opportunity to teach them about “paying it forward.” I told them that I really didn’t know, but that we needed to be on the lookout for people who we might be able to help sometime. We finally decided one day that we would buy breakfast for the car behind us in the Dunkin Donuts drive-thru. 

The moral of this story is this: when you see a mom who is on her last nerve trying to wrangle unruly children, instead of trying to figure out her relationship status or critiquing her parenting skills, smile and be nice. It will make you stand out in her mind as one in a million and can really turn around a crappy day.

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When Superwoman Eats a Fistful of Kryptonite

Yes DC fanboys and fangirls, I understand that I am not appropriately referencing Superwoman as she’s been used in any of the 9 billion upheavals since the 1960s, but as you’ll come to find out, my brain hurts, and that’s the best I can do, so bug off…

In my house, I am the Ringmaster. I get everyone where they need to be. Most of the time they’re even dressed and more or less on time when they get there. I do all of the grocery shopping and food preparation and make sure that everyone has at least a chance at proper nutrition. I do the laundry and the cleaning, and throughout the remodel, I’m doing the painting and the decorating. More or less, I kick ass. Furthermore, I kick ass while holding down a 40 hour/week job and winning the family bread. I love every minute of it and wouldn’t have it any other way.

Then there’s this whole issue of my brain. The beast inside my head that is supposed to be my greatest ally in all of the singing and dancing that is life, has turned on me. It takes over my motor function and gives me the tremors. It takes the words in my mouth and spews them out as garble. It makes me so dizzy that I get motion sick just from keeping my eyes open. But you know what, not even that can stop me. Through a fine balance of pharmaceuticals and adaptive strategies, I can have my fucked up brain and ringlead too- for about 360 days/year.

This week the bastard got me. It started with a migraine. Not my typical down-a-few-pills-and-it-will-go-away migraine, but the come-and-get-me-I-can’t-drive-home variety. After 14 hours of restless sleep and a steady diet of ibuprofen, electrolytes, and caffeine, I made it to zombiehood and that’s pretty much where I’ve stayed ever since. I’m back to the daily grind, but it’s a very half-assed grind. I feel myself working back up to full speed, but I’m pissed.

I’m pissed that I have to do this, even if it is for one week or so a year. I’m pissed that my kids are old enough to notice and comment on my shutting down. I’m pissed that Man of the House finally witnessed it (although he’s always been warned that it’s a possibility). I’m pissed that when I try to explain to the rest of the world that I don’t feel well, they look at me like I need to buck up.

So, next week, I will be better and back to myself. Next week this will be nothing more than a bad memory. Let’s just hope that it stays away for another year…

Round Up

I’ve been working pretty hard to keep up with the Zero to Hero challenge, but almost fell off the wagon tonight. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been feeling well, but the whole round up idea wasn’t really tickling my pickle so to speak. But then, I went through my reader and started feeling a bit better. I realized that there are a few bloggers out there who I really look forward to hearing from. So, without further ado, here are a few of the blogs I love:

SnarkySnatch NEVER fails to make me laugh. Hard. To the point my nightly bevvie threatens to come out my nose. The point of view reminds me of my own shenanigans before I had children. The brutal honesty, brilliant use of pictures and videos, and hilarious word-smithing get me every time.

SendtheBus is probably one of my favorite parenting blogs. I like the little stories that remind me of my own kids. Plus, it’s reaffirming to know that I’m not the only one who silently asks “what the fuck” while parenting.

Finally, this post by Itscomplicated has moved me more than any piece of writing I’ve read ever. She is the first person who I’ve ever seen adequately describe some of the pain/shame/discomfort/agony that comes with a neurological condition. Finally, I had something that I could share with those closest to me that would help them understand why I had to go sleep for 14 hours.

Of course, I love all of the bloggers that I follow and know that there are several more I haven’t discovered yet. These are the highlights for now. Maybe, just maybe, when I’m a big girl my blog will end up on someone else’s round up too.

The Brady Bunch Ain’t Got Shit on Us

For anyone to truly understand who I am and what I’m about, you probably need to know a bit about those closest to me. My family is my everything and for better or worse, they define who I am and what I believe. Without further ado…

The House: The house is not technically a family member, but it is where most of the family events take place, so it is important to understand it’s role. The house is a triplex that is owned by Man of the House. We live in the basement and are currently in that special place of hell that people refer to as remodeling and expanding. Once it’s finished, it will be amazing. While under construction, we’ve got a little more than 700 feet for 7 humans and 2 dogs. Sometimes, I run errands to get some personal space. (My old strategy was to sit on the toilet endlessly, but as we only have one bathroom at the moment, that one fails me more often than it helps.)

In the garage, which is now a remodeled studio apartment, live Man of the House’s best friend from the Army and Man of the House’s best friend from the Army’s girlfriend. They’re cool, we hang out sometimes, but for the most part, they do their thing and we do ours.

Upstairs is where shit gets shady. The Upstairs is inhabited by Man of the House’s ex-wife. Yes. It blows. For every single reason that is flitting through your mind at this very moment, it is heinous. I knew what I was getting into when I moved in though. Here’s why I did it: their kids get to see BOTH of their parents every single day. I would give anything to be able to provide my kids with that kind of security. I even asked their dad to move into the apartment complex next door. So yes, it is awkward. Yes, it makes for some interesting power struggles. No, we aren’t best friends, but we share a common goal: we want the kids to be happy.

Man of the House:

Oh my sweet, sweet, Man of the House, where do I begin? I guess you should know that he is 9 years older than me, which doesn’t really get in the way of anything except for when we listen to music together. We have a lot of the same musical preferences, but once in awhile he will throw in something that was written before I was even born. Starting this summer, Man of the House will be a stay-at-home dad to all five of our combined children. I expect a bit of spilled blood and am trying to rearrange my work schedule to limit the amount of time that he is left so helplessly out numbered, but I think that they are all going to do great. A season pass to the pool and a weekly trip to the Mickey-Donald’s with a playland, and I think it will be the kind of summer that kids’ dreams are made of.

Man of the House is also a retired military service member. Like full on, served 21 years, retired. He joined when he was still in high school and doesn’t know much about life outside of government agencies. From stories I hear from his colleagues (because he is far too humble to tell them), at the peak of his career he was a very important dude and an real life American Hero. At the moment, he’s tired, defeated, and working through some serious PTSD. If anyone tries to downplay it or tell you that PTSD is not a real thing, please punch them in the face on my behalf. It is a real, scary, debilitating illness that affects not only the soldier, but everyone that soldier loves, hates, talks to, thinks about, or looks at in the grocery store. He’s well-treated and recovering, but believe me when I say we’ve been through some shit.

Mini Me Extreme:

Why do I have to add the extreme? Because Mini Me just isn’t sufficient. Not only does she look like me and share my mannerisms, but she’s got my attitude. Cute, right? NO! Have you ever gotten into an argument with yourself about why you can’t wear shorts to school on the first of March??? Too many of our discussion have ended with, “because I’m your mom.” That’s it. I have no better reason. I have lost all of my wits trying to negotiate. Respect your elders, damn it.

MME is also a very sweet kid. She’s a bit socially awkward, but has a sense of humor that is far beyond her years. (Gee, wonder where she got that from?)  She’s reached that darling upper-elementary girl age where she knows just enough to get herself into trouble. I think they call them “Tweens” these days. I call it Ohmyfreakinghellhowwillthischildeversurviveherteenageyears.

The Shortest One:

The Shortest One is not the youngest, just the smallest. So small that we had to have dwarfism ruled out, in fact. What she lacks in size she makes up for in sass. She is brilliant and knows how to ask all the right questions (to make a situation ridiculously awkward, that is). She is a social butterfly and the center of attention in any group she’s in. The best descriptor that I’ve ever hear of her is “spicy,” to reflect the fact that the little lady has a temper. Her token phrases are: “I’m not tired!” at bedtime and “but it’s gonna take for-ev-eh!” when anything she is waiting for is more than a millisecond into the future. She’s the kid who has given me the most gray hairs, just because she’s the kid who is constantly requiring insta-care visits for head injuries and asthma attacks. She’s also a kid who knows how to make her Momma proud.

The Boy:

A year and a half ago, I would have told you that the boy was the tiniest terrorist known to man (even though he is anything but tiny). This was the kid who, at 11 months old, took the baby gate off of the top of the stairs and turned it into a sled. The kid who was power-washing my kitchen with the sink sprayer and then waterboarded me as I tried to stop him. The kid who has locked himself in and/or me out of so many different places that I think I could be a professional locksmith. He has mellowed out a lot though. I still remember the first time I went looking for him because it had become too quiet and he was kicked back looking at a book. He HATES change but is willing to go with the flow if given enough warning. He is an incredibly sweet boy who helps me make dinner every single night. He’s a little Romeo who has all of the ladies at daycare cooing over him day in and day out. Before you worry that my boy may have been abducted by a pod person, rest assured, he maintains his slightly naughty reputation by torturing his sisters.

The Stepkids:

I’m keeping info on Stepkid #1 and Stepkid #2 short and sweet only because I don’t feel at liberty to share too much information without consulting their parents. The important part is that they are really, really sweet kids who have stolen my heart. I can’t imagine life without them (except for those rare moments when all of the kids are out of the house and I remember what having a complete thought feels like).

Bitch and Puppy:

So, what should you do when your house is a construction clusterfuck and there are already five kids and a dog running all over the place? Why, you should get a puppy! That’s how they finalize your diagnosis of being REALLY mentally ill. Bitch and Puppy are slowly, ever so slowly learning how to live under the same roof. All at the cost of shoes and carpets.

So, there you have it. Our little crew. Sure I could tell you all about Mother Dearest and Baby Brother and Baby Sister, (ooh and Judgey McJudgeypants Dad and Stepmom) but I think I should keep it to the nuclear for now. If ever, you are reading my blog and think I might be insane, well, this post should just justify those thoughts.

A Letter to a Realistic Fictional Audience

Dear Dream Reader,

I’m guessing you’re here because you saw another post of mine about Poop Throwing or Toddler Tea-Bagging. I hope that you are enjoying those, really I do. Also, I promise to keep trying to get better at this. Writing has never been my strong suit, and it’s the school subject that I still struggle with the most. Believe me when I say that I am trying. Furthermore, I promise to keep finding myself in silly situations.

I’m guessing that another reason that you are here is because you’re actively avoiding something. For me, it’s usually writing a report at work or laundry. Here’s another trick: go grab a cup of coffee, a soda, or a beer (pick your pleasure) because then, long after your eyeballs have scanned this text, you’ll still have a beverage to finish before you have to get up and write that report or fold those clothes. Believe me, I’m a professional-level procrastinator.

I’m thinking that you find my posts funny because you are a parent and can relate. Or, because you aren’t a parent and I am just providing more justification to your choice (not that it needs justified). One of my favorite blogs, and an inspiration for this one, is written by my friend’s son-in-law about his parenting adventures. My kids are the best thing that ever happened to me, but they are also the cause of every gray hair on my head. There is not enough warning in the world to prepare you what the true adventure of parenting is.

I’m hoping that you do, in fact, find me funny. Sometimes I am caught in really tough circumstances, but my coping mechanism is to laugh at the tough stuff. I’ve learned to keep a lot of that laughing internal, because social norms just don’t allow for one to burst into laughter while, say, standing in line at the grocery store. The same goes for crying, but I must admit that it is far harder to hold back the tears.

The purpose of this blog is to relate to someone. Whether it be a parent, someone who works with the mentally ill, someone with a neurological disorder, or someone who is just a plain ol’ smartass like myself. I think it is important for everyone to feel like they can relate to someone. Otherwise, the world feels like a mighty lonely place.

If this is the first post of mine you are reading, please do me a favor and look at another one or two. This does not feel like my strongest piece. If you are already one of the 11 (double-digits, baby) that are following me, please don’t stop because of this. In fact, invite your friends to follow me too. That’ll put the pressure on me to deliver something brilliant. For now, thanks for making it this far.

Love, Me

Don’t Fuck With Someone Who has had Poop Thrown at Them (A survival guide for children)

Today was a shitty day (pun intended). Quite honestly it is the roughest day I have had in quite awhile. I am a patient and tolerant person, but this is ridiculous!

I work with mentally ill children. “Oh it takes such a special person to do that!” “There’s a special place in Heaven for you!” “You are so selfless!” Yeah. Fuck that. I’m a sadistic psychopath myself. What other explanation can you give the fact that I went to graduate school to make blue collar wage and get the shit kicked out of me. Have you ever heard the saying: “Sometimes it’s hard to tell if you are staring into the void or if the void is staring at you?” Yeah. It’s like that. Anyway, one of the sweet little darlings that I choose to spend my days with has labeled me as Public Enemy No. 1. After all, I live by rules. Not one time today, not two times today, but THREE times today, he and I went on a walk to a timeout room with him kicking the holy hell out of my shins the whole way. Actually, kicking the holy hell out of my shin. I don’t know what my left shin ever did to him, but a baseball bat would have done less damage. After our third tiptoe through the tulips, I was beyond done. So, what more could my little buddy do to add sunshine to my life? Well, he could take the largest shit I have ever seen come out of a single human being right inside of the time out room, that’s what he could do! As I stared at the turd that stuck to the small observation window, sliding it’s way down the glass, I decided that there is not enough booze in the world to erase a memory like that. Once my shift was over, I literally ran to my car to avoid any further encounters with beatings and/or fecal matter. (*** See footnote***)

Here is a countdown of how the rest of my day went:

10- The number of web sites I trolled in hopes of finding a new job

9- 10% of the number of edits I’ve had to make to this post because I cannot spell and get drunk at the same time

8- The number of dollars it cost me to buy three slushies and chocolate bars

7- The number of seconds it took me to regret that decision

6- The number of people I share a single toilet with

5- The number of years taken off of my life because The Shortest One fell off of the bunk bed and cut her head open

4- The length of the video that I took of Mini Me Extreme while she was high on gas from the dentist’s office

3- The number of completely different dinners I had to make to accommodate everyone’s strict dietary preferences

2- The number of times I went back and forth to the elementary school for various reasons

1- Raging tantrum complete with storming off, door slamming, and incessant wailing (probably NOT my finest moment)

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Literally

Tomorrow has GOT to be better than this. I’m going to bed.

*** Please be aware that my telling of this story is less about sharing factual protocol and procedure, and more about entertaining others with my pain. My employer goes to great lengths to make sure that our staff (myself included) is certified and re-certified to handle emotionally escalated people. Physical holds and timeout rooms are last resorts, after a multiple-disciplinary team has conferred and reviewed individual incidents. I hold no ill-will toward this particular young man, in fact, I think I’m relatively well put together after the type of day we shared.***

Today’s Zero to Hero challenge was to write the post you had in mind when you started your blog. While I had not yet experienced this day, these are the kinds of tales I was hoping to share.

I Am So Many Things and I Come Here By Request

I took this pic from the balcony of a cruise ship. If I had a happy place, this would be it.

I took this pic from the balcony of a cruise ship. If I had a happy place, this would be it.

This post is a direct response to the Zero to Hero writing challenge.  I really do want to get good at this.

At this point, I don’t think that I will ever use my real name in a post and I haven’t come up with the perfect pseudonym yet. I am in my thirties and have a Master’s degree. I have one of the craziest (literally) jobs you have ever heard of. I have an unspecified disorder of the nervous system which may or may not turn into multiple sclerosis and it has made me approach life differently. I live with Man of the House. We are not married, and don’t plan on being married anytime soon. I have three children: Mini Me Extreme, The Shortest One, and The Boy. I consider Man of the House’s kids to be my step-children. I will refer to them as Step Kid 1 and Step Kid 2. I love them as if I have lived with them their whole lives. They are super cool little people and I am lucky that they allow me to hang out with them. Despite some extreme circumstances, I live a really great life. I am happier than I have ever been, so either things are going really great, or I’m delusional (the jury is still out). I could give so many more details, but want to save them all for future posts. I don’t think I can describe any single person or element in my world in just a few words.

I am here, literally, by request. When I share stories of my extraordinary days (all of them), people often comment that I should write a book. My rebuttal to them is that my autobiography will be shelved in the Fiction section, in response to some of my day-to-day ridiculousness (truly, check out my spiritual enlightenment a la Mouse Jesus). I think I have a pretty good story though and I am narcissistic enough to think that a lot of people can relate to elements of my story. I want the rest of the world to laugh with (or at) me. I want to tell a story of optimism and making the best out of each day. Hell, maybe this blog will be my legacy. (Please know that I am laughing at myself for being lame right now).

In all seriousness, welcome to my world. Feel free to comment or spark a discussion. Just be nice when you do so.