Thursday, November 29, 2012

On friendship

I believe God sent me angels to get me through the tough times in my life.  These are people who have given me hope, courage, support, etc when I most needed it.   Some of them are the same people over and over again, like family or those few friends that have been a part of me for so long, I don't even remember when they weren't.  Those would be: Paul, mom, dad, Pat, George, Brian, Jason, Lisa, Amy, Laura, Maria, Denice, Julie, Michelle Watwood.

But I have also delighted in new friendships.  As an adult, those types of relationships involved taking risks.  They required trust and courage.  I have never been afraid to put myself out there either, never in all these years of meeting new people and falling in love with people over and over again.  Never, until now.....

People who renew hope can also take it away.  I am not a complicated person when it comes to accepting and owning my failures.  When I screw up, it does not take me long to realize it.  I have been humbled time and time again.  Even when the stakes get very, very high, humility is something that has come fairly easily for me.  Trust has also been unguarded for me.  I assume people who chose to get close to me are always going to feel that way.  But this year, I learned that was not always so.  As 42 years have gone by, I have seen people come and go in my life.  In looking back, I suppose those constituencies have made sense for the times in my life.  When I was in my 20's, my group of friends consisted of other young married couples with no kids and lots of time to do things like play co-ed sports, ski, go out on Friday and Saturday nights, and stay well-groomed and up to date on current events and happenings (being in the know).  Then as my 30's set in, this business of having babies moved in.  It was much, much harder than I expected for a million reasons.  It seemed that the circles I ran around in developed in different directions in the childbearing years.  Those who started earlier tended to get closer, and those of us who had babies later fell into different groups.  Then there was the inevitable subdivision of those of us who worked and those of us who stayed home with our babies.  These years, more than any others, really shaped, shifted and filtered that fast-track group of 20 somethings who were so well informed and well manicured. While I still consider that group friends, I don't spend anywhere near the amount of time with them.

Even though I was a working mom, I never really fit that group; and I obviously had little opportunity to fit in with the moms who were at home.   Oh, how I longed to be home with my babies.  My marriage paid a hefty price for it.  My hubby and I had tons of resentment toward each other associated with it.  I'm sure he thought I was not even a fraction of the women he had just spend a third of his life with, and I couldn't stop resenting him for being the EXACT same guy I just spend a decade with.  Eventually, and at a huge cost, it all came together like it should.  I became a stay at home mom, and much to my surprise, my husband has been doing his very best to support and appreciate the benefits that far outweigh the costs of that.  It has been a tough road, and it still offers challenges, but I know we are were we are supposed to be.

However, as my friendships go, most of them have just ridden a parallel with my life, like a glassy lake at sunset that reflects every stitch of detail of the mirror image above it.  When I am supposed to have certain influences and people in my life, they are there.  People come and go for reasons.  But this year, I learned that I may not always know or even begin to understand those reasons.  My good friend Shelly, whom I really believed was a gift from God, decided to exit my life as a close friend.  Now we are mostly acquaintances.  And it's not ugly, we have nothing but good exchanges when we are around each other. ,But there is an underlying sense of loss there now, where it used to be such a great feeling of peace and joy.  I am not sure I will ever really understand it-maybe later in my life.  But for now, it is just a huge and incredibly painful disappointment, and feeling of failure.  One of those things that I get a bit of a tummy ache when I think too much on it.  Partly because of the rejection I feel from being swiftly escorted out of the life of someone I so loved, but also, and maybe more importantly, because my little boys also fell in love with them-and I let them.  I suppose learning that people will let you down and break your heart is a lesson in life that you are probably never too young to learn.  But why is it at 42, I am still so depleted by it?  You might think I would be more seasoned and hardened to it by now.  But no, it still hurts, it still confuses me and I still feel amazed that I have not figured out how to avoid this.

I have had a few other notably difficult failed friendships.  Cindy, my former neighbor.  Of course, in that case, it was so very clear-I completely betrayed her, lied to her and turned into a monster.  I think jealousy and pure hatred for the life I was leading drove that disaster, but at least there is no ambiguity surrounding that one.

My closest friends Debi and Kirsten from my 20's/early 30's and I have grown apart too.  As have Michelle Watwood and I; those friends are working mamas.  And try and we may, our worlds just don't line up like they used to.  I can accept that as a part of the choices we make that just boil down to who we are-and essentially doing the best we can with what we've got.

So, why then, have I lost a hop in my step?  Why do I just want to bury my head in the sand so often?  I don't know.  I worry that I am unloveable.  That I have just screwed up too many things in my life to be rewarded with such kindnesses and gifts as dear friends that cost nothing but love.  In a world obsessed with money and things, those few treasures as these, elude me.  And in the end, that is all I ever wanted.

Life's Irritating Mysteries.....

These are examples of things in my life (and many other people's lives) that are just WRONG:

One shoe;  Is there anything more irritating in life than losing ONE shoe?  Why not just lose them both?  The one is a constant reminder of the fact that you have lost the match.   It also makes me want to throw it away.  But then the minute I do that, the other one will show up, like sunglasses or an ID I just replaced.

Fire alarms; first of all, we have had one fire in my kitchen-and not one single alarm in my house went off.  But every time I use my ovens at a temperature over 400, they just go off like a bad episode of Seinfield (which is a show about nothing).  Second of all-and FAR MORE IRRITATING, is the fact that the batteries always seem to run out at 2 in the morning, and that mind numbing beep/chirp sound is completely insufferable.  I don't know if it's because it's 2 am, or because they are just designed this way, but it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to tell which alarm the chirp is coming from.  It is only after smashing every single one that the chirping stops=and even then, it's like it keeps on chirping from the dead.  It takes HOURS for it to stop, even when each one of them has been smashed to pieces.

Speaking of sounds that drive me crazy.  I cannot stand the sound of my dog licking his fur-especially in the middle of the night.  It's like that faucet dripping sound, or one of those old fashion clocks that tick so loud that it feels like your heart is beating.  

Another thing I cannot understand is people who act like they don't know you, but you know they do.  In fact, you have met them many times before.  I have neighbors like that.  Every time I see them, they act like they have no idea who I am, and we have lived 4 houses down from them for 10 years.  SO annoying.  What this really says to me is that I am not very memorable. 

Is it just me, or is it the most annoying thing ever when a you cannot find the beginning on a roll of tape.  Then you find one little strand, and it just peels off in tiny little strips.  Is there no better way?

And why, in such an advanced day and age of technology, do we still measure first downs in professional football with a couple of men holding sticks?  I mean, if we can see the red or yellow lines on TV, why can't they?

And don't you hate achronymns that make no sense?  Who thinks DVD stands for anything? It stands for digital versatile disc.  WHAT?  That's a real common term.  Good thing they abbreviated that!  Oh those wizards at Sony and Phillips!  And SOS, what is that all about?  Save our Ship?  Save our Souls?  Save our Sh*t?  How about just the word help?  Is that just too difficult?  VCR (now I am showing my age) is Videocasette Recorder-which is two words.  TV is television which is one word-television.  It's madness I tell you!

While we're at it, why not talk about compound words that are just ridiculous?  Like breakfast-how do those words fit together to describe a meal that is different to every person?  Bookworm?  What is that, someone who likes to read?  A worm is not something i associate with those who are passionate about something.  Do worms even have brains?  I mean, they stay alive if they are cut in half?  And egg nog?  The word nog is so goofy, that I can't even take anything seriously that uses it, but why egg?  I spend most of my picky childhood life thinking it was just a bunch of eggs hanging out in a glass.  When I finally worked up the nerve to try it, I could not believe how far the name and the taste were.  

I really could go on all night, but simply because I too tired, and completey irritated by my own ramblings, I will save it for another blog!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday blues

A job is usually something people get paid to do that they would otherwise NOT do.  The degree to which the task is involuntary and undesirable is directly in line with how much people get paid.  I do realize that is not a very positive outlook, but some days I just don't feel like being so positive.

One of my good friends (Michelle) was demoted today because she didn't pass a Series 6 or S or some other stupid insurance license.  It was one of 3 tests-she passed 2 of them.  The real irony is she was the top producer in her branch this month.  She is one of the brightest people I know, hard working and honest to a fault.  Unfortunately, she is not a suck-up, and does not have a fake bone in her body.  While I respect that about her, I suppose in the ugly,corporate landscape where most of live , it is something she probably needs in her arsenal at times.

I got the memo about life being unfair, and I suppose stories like hers can just be filed in the "reality" column.  Right next to my husband who is stuck in a job he cannot stand. By stuck, I mean, he does not want to leave, and he does not want to stay.  Somehow, his job went from something he did to subsidize playing to something that defines him.  As men get older, the rules change.  Now his boss expects him to eat, sleep, breathe Comcast.  When did that happen?  We all knew those guys earlier in our careers-that guy who brought his pager to social events; loved to name-drop, wore that stupid blue tooth just to look important.  I couldn't stand that guy.  And yet, now, on the back nine of life, it seems that guy will come out ahead.  Paul has always been so above that, like my friend Michelle.  I just can't make sense of it.

Another mystery to me is the whole "it's not you, it's me" line.  I was recently given that line by someone I thought was one of my closest friends.  It seems our sons seeing less of each other will benefit her family somehow.  By them seeing less of each other, I mean she requested a change of teacher for her son so they would not be in the same class.  As much as I want to believe and understand the reasons, I cannot escape the elephant in the room~what she wanted less of was me.  I don't know how else to interpret that.  Not only efforts to minimize our sons interactions, but also the unmistakable lack of interest in me has been very hard to overlook.  It's not business as usual, it feels completely different.  I don't feel welcome anymore; I don't feel close to her at all.  Her son's birthday party was the following week (naturally); and I noticed there was plenty of room in her car for such socioeconomic equals as the heirs of the Coors dynasty and fellow "village" residents.  But when I asked about my boys being able to ride from school to the party, I got the whole-"sorry, all full up".  That would have been true if they hadn't driven 2 cars.  And if the last two years hadn't almost always meant our kids would ride together.

Do I sound like a 3rd grade girl who got told she couldn't sit at the special table at lunch anymore?  Well hell yes I do.  And that's how I feel.  I'm not particularly proud of that.  And I have been here before, probably more than I want to remember.  I am too sensitive, and I know that.  And if I could flick a switch to change that, I certainly would.  But I am the way I am.-the good, the bad and the ugly. And if I am no longer supposed to be a part of that family I had come to love so much, then so be it.  I cannot control that.  I just don't want my kids to constantly be paying the price for my shortcomings and mistakes.  They are both such great kids-and they will be just fine.  I just keep hoping they don't figure out what failure I have turned out to be.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

My little TC

This is Tyler at a private horseback riding lesson.  It is unmistakable how animals take to Tyler.  He just has an intrinsic ability to connect with them.  Jake is our black lab, but really, he is Tyler's buddy.  Tyler was only 2 when Jake joined us.  They have a unique bond.  Tyler is also the most accomplished horseback rider in our family-at the ripe age of 7.  He is still just learning, but honestly, his lack of fear and level of comfort just blow me away.

I am so proud of Tyler for the baby boy he used to be, the little boy he is today, and the big boy he is becoming.  He continues to amaze me everyday of my life.  His creativity, ingenuity and intelligence never stop growing.  He is curious and inspired.  He is a scientist and an explorer.  He has an endless imagination and an unparalleled memory.  He has been able to assemble Legos and transformers for as long as I can remember.  He loves the outdoors-swimming, fishing, crawdad hunting-you name it.  I just don't know how Paul and I are the parents of this precious little gem.

I remember being so worried about him.  He has such a non-conforming disposition.  He has no interest in being the center of attention, having an audience or making headlines.  He just wants to do his thing. As he grows and matures, so do I; and I am learning from him.  He walks to the path of his own beat, and I embrace it more each day.  What a ride it is to see him growing up-and it's only the start.  I know the best is yet to come.

It is all equal

Favoritism....the practice of giving unfair, preferencial treatment to a person or group at the expense of another.

In families, this term gets thrown around a lot.  In my family growing up with my siblings; and now in my own household with my two boys.  I worry about it so much.  My oldest is such a people pleaser.  He is very easy to get along with, has a very kind heart and a soul that is older than his years.  He understands compassion, empathy, integrity and honesty.  He is a stunning athlete, which, like it or not, in this world goes a long way.  Oh, he has his moments, and he can be a little handful, but all in all, he certainly has the ingredients for the child who gets favored.  Mostly, because he wants to  be.  My younger son is quite different.  He is not as concerned with pleasing people, he wants to do what he wants to do.  He is often oblivious to empathy or compassion.  His affection and emotions are only offered to a select few people.  He is shy which makes him hard to get to know, almost making him seem rude.  Introverts always stress me out because I cannot decide what to do with I try harder?  do I leave them alone?  am I annoying them?  am I excluding them?  am I over-thinking it?  He is also very prone to have nothing to do with things that his brother, father and I enjoy terribly-sports being the most notable.  He would much rather be alone than participate in most things we are doing.  His interests involve activities that do not always include people like playing with his toys by himself.  He can hang out in his room our outside by himself for hours.

But I love each of my boys just the same.  I would take a bullet for either one of them without even thinking.  It's possible favoritism is just wrapping paper for having more in common.  Having more in common does not have to mean anything more or less than that.  We weren't all meant to be exactly the same anyway-that's why God made us the way He did.

If in no other record than this one, I want my Tyler and Jackson to know how much I love and truly appreciate both of them.  I love each one of their unique and different talents and attributes.  They are God's perfect gifts to me; and I thank Him for them each and everyday of my life.

Road trips

The times have changed, and will continue to change.  But taking a trip with your family in a car for an extended period of time will transcend generations.  There is a picture that comes to mind for each person when you reminisce over those many hours spent getting from point A to point B.  It's no Norman Rockwell painting; and yet a milestone in the family album.

I do love to travel, well, actually, I love to be at the destination.  The getting there-not so much.  I know deep down that important bonding happens in those close quarters only a road trip can provide.  Some of the things that come to mind are sharing, comforting, entertaining, visiting, playing games, and compromising.  I also think about things like the foul smells, the constant getting lost, the incessant pleading "are we there yet?", the proverbial gas station bathrooms, the yoga-esque sleeping poses, and the complete lack of ability to distinguish night from day.

My 7 year old Tyler and took the road trip to Arizona, and met up with Paul and Jackson.  Then we all flew home.  Did I mention the driving part was with Paul's parents?  I love Paul's parents.  They have always been very good to me, treat me like their own daughter.  However, the older they get, the more their little quirks and idiosyncrasies start to wear on me.  For example, they might actually believe that Paul and I would be living in the streets without sense to get in from the rain without their constant direction.  In other words, it's possible they believe we are 12 years old.  The number of times both Tyler and I were instructed to put on our shoes, wash our hands, and put on our selt-belts was unbelievable. And then there was the constant bickering between the two of them over directions.  Traveling has a way of bringing out the worst in people at times.  And yet, as it gets further away in our memories, we tend to reflect upon the good parts.  Much like childbirth, the ability to forget the painful details is what makes it possible to do it again.

I don't know

It is such an uncomfortable feeling when you don't know the answers.  My kids think I know everything, but I feel like the meter is running until they figure out that I really don't know everything. My oldest is in the 5th grade, and I am already struggling to help him with homework.  Even if I can figure it out, I don't do it the RIGHT way.  You would think some things would never change-long division, fractions, etc.  Though the answers do, now the methods of getting there look different, therefor rendering me even more of a dinosaur.    

But that's just the beginning.  I cannot explain things like war, child abuse, birth defects, poverty or wealth, cruelty to animals, natural disasters, cancer and other diseases, etc.     

Sometimes I glad I don't know.  Maybe I just don't need to know.  An now it reminds me of a post I read on another blog a long time ago-before I started writing this one.  I do know one thing:  I know why people love babies so much.

You do not have to know the answers with babies.  Sure, you have no idea what you are doing most of the time, but the baby doesn't realize that. And sure, you are sleep deprived and smell like spit-up; but you do not have to explain why he/she was not invited to a birthday party, or why the other kids make fun of you, or why people get divorced, or what an alcoholic is, or why people are not always nice.  There are times you can just hold your baby; and it is as if time stands still.  I was a working mom when mine were little like that, so my most cherished moments were often in the middle of the night or early hours of the morning when I did not have to share.  Times when I felt like I knew all the answers-at least at that moment in time.  Watching my little boys sleep while I held them gave me a comfort that did not leave me questioning anything.

An naturally, as my two little boys grow up, that has gradually slipped away.  In its place is a whole lot of uncertainty and insecurity.  I wonder how I will manage some days.  Will they be okay?  Will they lead fulfilled lives?  Will my best efforts be enough?  Will my mistakes leave a mark?  Will Jackson grow eventually?  Will Tyler be comfortable around strangers?  I hate not knowing.  

Friday, March 30, 2012

Enough is enough

I have heard  couples refer to the term, ten-year plan in recent years.  What does that mean?  It's basically the waiting period where cowards like myself and my husband feel like we can wait it out until our kids are essentially old enough where a split would not be as detrimental to their childhood.  The plan assumes that once they have reached a certain age (in our case, 20 and 17), they are busy developing their own adult lives, and are hopefully less dependent on our foundation as a family.  In theory, that should work.  But the reality is, that foundation is a bit shaky isn't it?  What does that foundation look like for those 10 years?  If we are both counting the days?  And how does that really translate over to the posterity?  And yet, what are the alternatives?

I think my husband cannot stand the sight of me.  I think he is counting the minutes until I am no longer a part of his everyday life.  A divorce at these ages would certainly not facilitate that.  So staying together means he just tolerates me.  However, in cases where I try his patience, he has zero tolerance.  For example, when I forget something (all the time!) or misplace something(my keys) or just plain screw up (his cell phone on our trip to Arizona); his reaction is considerably more harsh than is reasonable.  Oh, I'm not saying he can't get angry with me, but there is a difference.  His reactions are quite far from those of someone who loves and accepts me-faults and all.  What I can't reckon, is whether it's my inherent character flaws that he hates so much the problem or does it just boil down to a basic lack of forgiveness, grace and compassion.  I remember that I once had to force myself to concede those very things in order to regain the once compromised feelings I had for him.  We have both been in each other's shoes, so-to-speak.  I don't advocate one of us is better than the other.  Perhaps I have just been there longer.  I have a few years on him when it comes to dealing with the pain of being let down and hurt by the one you love the most.  But I don't think so.  I don't think it will change.  And it scares me.  How does that really affect our kids?  Are we really doing them any favors?

I was getting dressed for a game, and my sweet friend Shelly was putting on my make up and doing my hair.  She kept going on and on about how beautiful she thought I was.  But I don't feel beautiful.  I never really have.  She went on to suggest that Paul thinks I am too-she says she can tell by the way he looks at me.  And I have not felt those gazes in so long that I am wondering if it was just a figment of my imagination.  How can others see something I do not feel?  And the strangest part is, I wasn't sure I felt that way about him either.  But then, out of nowhere, we were standing in the hotel lobby waiting on the elevator.  One of the housekeeping ladies was trying, unsuccessfully, to maneuver her cart into the elevator as a group of us just waited and watched.  After a couple of minutes, Paul took the cart gently and guided it with ease where it needed to go.  Then she looked up at him, and he just smiled.  Just a simple smile.

It was a smile I used to know.  One I have not seen for many, many years.  It actually took my breath away.  In that instant, he just looked like my Paul.  He looked so beautiful, so kind, so warm.  I  can hardly put it in words.  It was just that side of him I used to know that said, "I will take care of you.  You will always be safe on my watch."

Now I feel more like he is just existing to meet obligations and because he loves his boys.  And I understand that-I do.  I feel the same way sometimes.  And yet, I get these fleeting glimpses like that of what it used to be or what it could possibly still be, and I find myself wondering-are we just on the ten year plan now?  Are we just waiting it out until he can go find a younger, newer model-someone who has no mileage and who doesn't have the faults I do?  And I will go live in a condo in Aurora with a cat?

I don't know the answer to that.  I don't know a lot of things.  I do know that it is not what I want.  It is not the best option, even it if is the easiest one.  I do know that smile, and I would give anything to have it back.