Friday, November 8, 2013

Onward and Upward, Poppy In Hand

My dear husband has had yet another job transfer.  Onward and upward, we are now ex-pats.  We've been in our new digs six weeks or so, and I've had my head down with the unpacking and attempting to keep the kids in upbeat spirits.  Never did I think I would be living outside the US again, and being in a county that is so similar actually makes it harder.  I feel fairly sure I blogged about this before, but moving to a country that is completely different from your own means you expect everyone and everything to be different.   Moving to a country where so many things are similar means I end up letting my guard down and get caught out on things I am supposed to know because I look like I belong when really, I have no clue.

Case in point, with Remembrance Day right around the corner, everyone around me is wearing poppies on their lapels.  I don't have a poppy, I don't know where to buy a poppy.  I don't want to seem as if I am not being supportive, but fuck if I know where to go find one.  As much as people in the US get their flag-waving on, I have never seen support for this holiday like I have here in Canada, and I would like to participate.  This morning, one of the grandmothers at the school was sweet enough to offer a poppy to my son.  He declined because he will be getting one in his classroom, I sheepishly stepped up and asked if I could have it.  My daughter is reading at the assembly this morning, and I want to look the part.  I am loving getting to see other sides of shared traditions, and I love that my kids are getting to learn other sides as well.  Global citizenship starts at any age, and this move has already expanded our horizons.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Shaking Fists Skyward

My husband called me from work a few weeks back, and from his first intake of breath I knew something was terribly wrong.  He could barely choke out the news he had received--one of his friends had killed himself over the weekend.

No one seems to know anything of value.  No why, just the where and how.  All mutual friends are at a loss to understand.  My husband is devastated, and I?  I am angry. Spitting, snarling mad. 

I am furious at him for hurting all of us like this.  It makes me so angry to think of how this is going to be explained to his beautiful neices and nephews.  At the loss of their innocence.  At the guilt children internalize within themselves.  My heart is in agony for my husband who has so few people outside our family to whom he feels close.

Within the confines of my anger is an enormous well-spring of sorrow for the pain and loneliness our friend must have felt.  I spent the week after his death yelling at him through my ceiling.  Shaking my fist skyward, I have shouted all manner of hypothetical questions at him. At this point, the only positive aspect to his being dead is that I can yell at him and he has to listen.  My grief, my rules.

It brings to mind another man we knew within the past few years who also killed himself.  He left behind a wife, two toddlers and a torrent of unanswerable questions.  At the time, I had a frank conversation with my husband about the importance of communication and the perception of a successful life.  Now that suicide has once again touched our lives so intimately, I sat my husband down to reiterate a few points.

I told him I was saying all of this for my own benefit, but that I needed to know he heard me.  It was important for him to look me in the eye and hear me say that the only thing that matters is the four of us.  That if the job and house should slip away, we would always be okay.  No matter what.  That the conditions of where and how we lived were far less important than us having each other.  I also made it very clear that if he ever tried a stunt like that, I would revive him just to beat the everloving shit out of him.

This horrific news has reinforced my belief in the importance of telling people.  Something as inane as seeing something at the grocery store and it reminded you of them. Nothing is inconsequential.  You may think the people around you understand, but I am not taking that chance.  It is so easy to take for granted that the ones you love KNOW you love them, KNOW you need them.  I am devastated that our friend didn't know.  There may have been nothing anyone could have done, that the darkness he felt could never have been brightened by any of us.  We will never know, and that is the most painful bit of all.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Proper Apologies

I get that texting has become the norm for communicating with friends. Hey let's grab drinks. On my way. Running late. It's quick, efficient, and lets people respond in their own time.

And sometimes people hide behind it.

I was recently involved in a huge blowout with another parent. She handled an incident completely inappropriately and flipped her shit. There was screaming, flailing of arms, and threats which resulted in terrified sobs from my son who was one of the targets of her wrath. This was all done very publicly, and it took a lot of clean up on my part for my child to feel better.

I received a text message from the woman later on that same afternoon explaining that she'd been having a bad day, and that she realized she had reacted poorly. I appreciated her candor, but things have been insanely awkward since that incident. Now, I did not expect her to apologize over and over and beg to make things right. However, her freak out was of epic proportions, and one text message pawning it off on a bad day and PMS does not cut it. We teach our kids to look the person they wronged in the eye and say they are sorry. All I wanted was for the next time this mother and I were in the same space for her to say to me, in person, Hey, I'm sorry about went down the last time.

Didn't happen. Not by a long shot. And I can see the attraction. Fuck something up? Fire off a quick SMS and never actually have to face the person you hurt. I am probably in the minority here, but I think that kind of sucks. I make an ass of myself? You'll probably get a text, eventually an actual in-person apology and probably a hug. I don't think this makes me an awesome person, I think it makes me accountable for my actions. And that's one of the examples I want to set. I hope my kids pay close attention because I want them to know that when their words hurt another person, part of the forgiveness process is to allow the other person to express that hurt. Not hide behind a phone and pretend like it never happened.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

I'm Happy, Damn It!!

I think that most people don't reflect on the fact that they are happy until something awful befalls them. It usually takes an episode of grief and heartache to realize, damn, things were really good. How important to come to that realization before the other shoe falls. While you are in the moment.

Because guess what? I am happy. As a clam. Like a pig in shit. I am happy, and it feels so damned good. We've been in our new digs for nearly a year now, and it is the first time in long time I've felt this way. As in twenty-two years long time. For the first time since my parents first moved me out of my home state, I love where and how I live. I've got a fantastic circle of friends who want to hang and listen to my stupid stories. They can match, and often trump them. My kids are well-adjusted, and every now and then I even get to see my husband.

Life certainly hasn't been smooth these past eleven months, but I've had love and support from amazing people I never thought I'd meet. I am having fun, and I love it. I mean, how many people do you know will pick you up a couple of bottles of margarita mix from Costco just for the hell of it?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Food Bandit

So, here we are. Everyone has been on their best behavior. Polite and smiley and overly concerned for each other's feelings. Fuck that shit. The cracks are already forming.

In the two days they have been here, I have heard about how unsafe our swingset is. Yes, I know it's rickety. Yes, I know we need to re-anchor it. My husband, your son, actually has to be home to do it.

Yes, I know the cats have scratched the hell out of our couches. Yes, I know they are ten years old. Yes, I do know they look ugly when we have company. No, I don't agree (or care) that people will not like our couches and judge us for it. Yes, I've heard of slipcovers. Your son doesn't like them and doesn't want to pay for any. Yes, I will discuss it again with him.

Yes, I would love it if you made a salad for dinner. No, I did not mean just for yourself. I did not give you our single, last tomato only for you to put it on your own plate and not share it with any of the rest of us. Same goes for the cucumber at breakfast this morning. When I come back from morning school drop-off, starving for breakfast and coffee to cheerfully have you announce that you have finished off the remainder the breakfast food, damn. That's just not right.

Looks like I need to start hoarding food under my bed.

Monday, April 4, 2011

In-Law Olympics

After quite a long hiatus, here I am. We've survived four months in the high desert, and life is finally settling into a good routine. We've have bumps along the way, but most issues have been resolved and put behind us.

Which means the universe wants to throw me a curve ball before I become too complacent.

My in-laws arrive tomorrow. That's right, you know the ones. They haven't darkened our door in four years, and whatever the reason, they have decided to come and stay with us. For a month. We're not even done unpacking our crap, and we're now repacking to make room for two more adults in our household. We've moved the kids into one room in order to create a guest room and are now trying to consolidate all the things I just found space for in their rooms. I knew settling for three bedrooms would bite us in the ass.

So I will spend the day today continuing to purge vestiges of my daughter's existence from "their" room so there will be no issues of not feeling welcome. I have tried to cook and freeze meals so that we are stocked up in order to lessen the tension as to what to make for dinner. For Lent, I promised myself that I would not speak ill of my MIL. It has been very, very hard. I have not always been successful. If nothing else, it has made me much more conscious of what I am saying and how.

In any event, it looks like MIL Monday will be up in full force again. I'm hanging on to the hope that this visit won't be a repeat of the last. For insurance, I've got my Guadalupe candles lit. That's what you do around here when you need a miracle.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Let's Get Together, Yeah Yeah Yeah

We are into our final two-week countdown to our move, and the past two months have taught me two lessons I didn't really want to learn.

The first lesson involved dropping the we're moving bomb. This was universally followed with the We gotta get together before you go! response. With all the enthusiasm and promises of help, I had hope that maybe this process wouldn't be too bad. Well, I've been on my own with the kids since the middle of September, and until this past Saturday I had zero dinner invitations. Zero. I understand families are busy, but this has been ridiculous. Any adult company, no matter how brief, would have been a much needed breath of fresh air. Now that we are into our final two weeks, I've had offers to take the kids so I can get things accomplished. I am deeply grateful for these offers and am taking advantage of them when I can.

I've come out of this phase realizing that if and when I have a friend that is going through a move, if I promise help I need to follow through. I will go to my friend's house and help with the bedtime routine so she doesn't have to go it alone, if even just for one night. I will bring her a bottle of wine and help her fold laundry while we watch some bullshit prime time television show. I will ask her how she is managing. I will give her a hug and let her know it's okay to be sad. That now that the kids are in bed she doesn't have to be strong.

The second lesson is that adults handle a move very differently. Now that we've found a house and the move is officially under way, my closest friend here has not asked a thing about it. Not the house, not the kids, not me. I have come to realize that in some way she needs to distance herself. It hurts, but I get it. We all have our coping mechanisms, and I do not begrudge her the way in which she needs to deal. I've been surprised, sad, and now resigned. I've realized that all the while I worried about how my children would cope, I never dreamed that the adults wouldn't be able to handle it. I don't love her any less, it just makes the journey a lot more lonely.