Monday, November 23, 2009

and that's why i make my cranberry sauce with rum.

so it's thanksgiving. again. funny how when the holidays come around it feels as if they were just here. what the hell happened to 4th of july? did we even have halloween? i can't remember halloween!

and every year as we're pushing through the crowds at the market, hoisting the turkey into the cart, checking items off our list, and seeing the sour looks of the people around us i always turn to my husband and say, 'next year, we're going away for thanksgiving. just us.'

and we never do. because thanksgiving is our favorite holiday and because the boybarians love it and because i think we signed some sort of contract in hell, in blood, and maybe even a little plasma, that we are bound

so it's not surprising that it's this time of year i most miss having a matriarch of the family. when i'm gathering all the serving platters, and planning the menu, and pulling out the tablecloths and assigning chores to the boybarians, coordinating who will bring what, worried there won't be enough of anything, tired by tuesday evening and wishing it was already over. but with two days and the big event left to go.

i remember going to my grandmother's house on holidays. the table was already set, everything in its place, snacks set out, ready. it seemed so effortless, really. at least to a little kid like me. like it was no big deal.

i'll tell you what was a big deal was that damned tomato aspic with the gollop (yes. it's a word. even if i made it up.) of mayonnaise on top. and not even best foods brand name mayo. the cheap store brand. not that it really mattered. or would help. bleh. all the kids were expected to eat it. all of it. i thought my grandmother loved me, but that aspic really makes me question a LOT. to this day i just can't think of it without getting really really angry.

anyway, now that i'm doing holidays, have been doing them all these years, i realize that it wasn't effortless. that it was and is always a lot of work. but i am lucky to have the best husband in the world, who is also a fabulous cook, so it's not just me on my own. and i've got help from the boybarians, too. guess who WON'T be mopping THREE rooms of 100 year old wood floors (and one room of laminate wood flooring. it looks good though! really! not all tacky like some of that laminate can look!) OR washing windows this thanksgiving!!! nice.

and yes, my extended family appreciates all of the effort and says so. and i appreciate that. so if you have a moment on thursday, go and kiss the cook. or at least give them a hearty handshake or a slap on the back. offer to do a dish. or take out the trash. or get them high. i don't know, whatever it takes to show your appreciation because it will be much appreciated.

okay, so it sounds like i'm complaining. but i'm not. okay, that's a lie. i'm complaining a little. i was hefting furniture about last night trying to figure out how to seat 14 in a place meant for 6. because this year i want everyone at the same table. and i figured out how to make ONE big table. but not before dragging everything (including a door and 4 sawhorses. don't ask. didn't work. had to take them back down. oy.) out of the basement to try and construct the ONE big table.


i figured it out! of course there's no personal space to speak of, and once you're seated you can't get up again. ever. but what's a holiday with family if you're not all trapped and sweaty?

and while it's a lot of work, if i didn't enjoy it i wouldn't do it. okay, that's a lie, too. i do a hell of a lot of things i don't enjoy. but that i *pretend* to enjoy. i have two kids, have been married twice, and am related to crazy people. i've had a LOT of practice.

all right, where am i going with this?

oh yeah. family.

and that's why i do it. and ultimately i love doing it. my family. from my own little foursome to all the rest of them.

the past few years have seen some changes in my extended family dynamic. and some changes in my own little family. and because of that, as this year draws to a close THANK YOU GOD IT CAN'T COME SOON ENOUGH! i am reminded that when push comes to shove maybe they aren't who you would have chosen, but they are there. your family. and it seems a trite thing to say, especially this time of year, but it's what you got.

oh sure, toxic relatives and all that aside. sometimes there are issues and they must be dealt with properly. there are some people you simply cannot gather together with. in some cases restraining orders making it legally impossible to do so.


the rest of them? that's what you got. flesh and blood and crazy and all. and just so you know, they probably think you're as whack as you think they are. but that's what you got. did i say that already? and there's a reason for everything. even that weirdo you share DNA with seated to your left.

or perhaps you've pulled off the greatest escape and share your holidays with NO ONE who is remotely blood related to you. there are all kinds of ways to be a family.

so i say this year look around whatever table you've happened to gather at. whether it's your flesh and blood for life family, the one you married or got folded into, the one you've created over time and distance, or just this year's thanksgiving dinner family, look around and just be thankful to be a part. to share this meal on this day with these people. find one thing to be grateful for in each person seated around you.

because eventually each one of those seats will become empty and there just won't be the chance.

and life is just too damned short, and getting shorter still, to not take a moment to look around and be grateful. even it's just one day out of the year.

and even if you have to pretend.

it's worth it in the end.


Friday, November 20, 2009

the build up lasted for days. lasted for weeks. lasted for years. lasted not long enough.

the duke never did any of the things the books said he would. at least not when they said he would do them. he was always on his own schedule and there wasn't a thing i or anyone else could do about it. from sleeping (or NOT as the case may be) to nursing to everything else, his babyhood kept me on my toes.

when he became a toddler all the books said he would 'LOVE to help mommy around the house!' give him jobs to do! helping sort socks! and then when he became a preschooler...emptying the paper waste! sorting recycling! etc. etc. give him these jobs because he will beg for them anyway!

yeah, not so much. not only did he have no interest in all the things they said he would, he did not want to stop nursing on his own because he's a 'big boy now!' ditto for moving to his own bed, using the potty, etc. and because i am his mama and love him beyond belief i didn't worry about these 'schedules' and let him be who he was. is.

(okay, i know, i said long ago i wouldn't blog about him anymore because he's getting older and it isn't fair to him. BUT i have to get this out.)

so, all those things he did on his own time frame i suppose i thought that growing up would be different, too. i thought it might happen, you know, later. shit, i really thought i had more time.

but in the last week he's asked for skinny jeans (in red), is wearing plaid because he knows it's 'in,' and started combing his hair (!!). and this may seem fairly benign to some, but to me it's huge and sweet and sad.

i'm not ready. while i have spent since the day i conceived him, before even, preparing him for every step, for every development, for being an actual autonomous human being, i'm not ready for it.

okay, he's 12. i get it. it's age appropriate and he isn't moving out anytime soon. so again, to some it might seem a bit much to be boohooing over now. but it isn't a bit much to me. i'm his mama. how could anything ever be a 'bit much?'

and before i know it, this ride is done. and i have to be supportive and happy about the next ride. and did i mention that i don't like it? one little bit? and no, i don't want to tie him to my apron, but i also don't want him to start wanting to do other things. you know, away from us. his own things with other people. and eventually, just 'away.'

i don't know if it's because being his mama is what i 'do.' the stay at home, home schooling part. in essence, raising him is also my 'job.' hmmm, could have planned that one better, huh?

oh crap. now, i'm no expert, but i'm almost certain there's a therapy session, or two, in there somewhere.

but really i think it goes beyond that. because for 12 years he's been here. i mean physically *here.* in reach. for a hug or a snuggle or to just hang out. and there is a part of me that thinks that as this phase ends and another begins that perhaps i took a lot of it for granted. did i do enough? did i cherish it enough?

oh jeeze, that'll tack on another session right there. and i'm almost certain once i start there isn't enough money in the world to see me through therapy.

because as my children move from one phase to the next, i'm always wondering if this is the age where i drop the ball. that i finally lose my shit and can't handle it. nobody teaches you how to be a parent, and as much as there are books and 'experts' and well intentioned advice thrown your way, parenting is often you on your own little ice floe just waiting to either be rescued or eaten by the polar bear. do polar bears even eat people? see! i don't even know THAT! how am i qualified to be a parent!

ah, and the 'Either, or' sentence gets put into play. hmmm, what if those are both whack choices? non-choices? am i screwing my own self with fucked up logic?

jesus. i need to get out more. i suppose i could start with the therapy. or just simple interaction with other adults. drinking. a drink sounds good right about now.

anyhow, the long and the short of it is that i really like the duke. i think he's truly a neat kid. he makes me crazy and he makes me laugh. and i want him around. and i'm sad that as he does his normal human development thing that that may not always happen. and eventually, will not always happen.

and i know i'm supposed to appreciate the time i have and all that. but i will tell you what, my heart is sticky. and if it attaches it's all i can do to just not miss the hell out of people. jesus if i'm still writing about the college boyfriend i loved who dumped me almost 20 years ago (fucker) then we all know i have a problem. or two.

so my own child? yeah.

and again, i know this is all premature, because as i speak he's on the floor bopping along to whatever is in his headphones, constructing something or other out of legos. speaking in the eastern european/columbian accent he's perfected. thinking about what soda to choose for family movie night tonight, if he'll play all game again tomorrow in soccer, if this new friend zach might become a really good friend. good enough to have over to start his D&D club. he's just the duke. not some boy on the edge of breaking his mother's heart just by doing exactly what he's supposed to do.

god how do any of us ever survive.

i know it's going to be worth it in the end. separating healthily, me putting my big girl panties on and being the parent. letting him go with support and a smile. letting him know this is 'okay.' him becoming his own person. even while my heart is cracking just a bit inside. and there's parenting in a nutshell. i should make bumper stickers.

but this is what we want as parents, right? to be able to cast them gently out? right? this is normal. necessary.


oh god. and i haven't even covered 'dating' in my little bubble of tears and what ifs, etc. etc. etc.!

jesus. screw therapy. what does a girl have to do to get a drink around here?

and red skinny jeans? really?


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

she blinded me with logic.

in Logic recently i've been instructing the duke on the 'Either, or' sentence. and in Logic you get sentences that say things like, 'Either you have three arms, or you don't have three arms.' and 'Either all the animals in the world are giraffes, or all the animals in the world are elephants.' you know, fun stuff like that. and you have to decide whether, based on the 'choices' given, the sentences are true or false.

the thing about Logic is that it is, well, logical. free from emotion and personal interest. it is what it is. which i find refreshing. oh, sure, i enjoy the conversations the duke and i, and wingman and i for that matter, have stemming from what he may be learning in history, okay WE because i never learned it the first time around, or a book we're reading together. but there is something freeing in the concrete. for just seeing something for what it is, free of true interpretation.

so, that being said, teaching a near teenager Logic, which i once feared, has turned out to be brilliant beyond belief. because yes, while he is finally getting the tools to see the flaws in *my* arguments to him, he also has the tools to properly argue. which means if he's being irrational and not properly arguing his point, i can point out why and he understands. he may not like it, but he understands.

it's nearly genius. i say nearly because he's smarter than me. he just doesn't realize it yet. and when he does, well...

but what i like most about Logic brings me back to the 'Either, or' sentence.

now, there are lots of ways to use this sentence. like the mother may say to the toddler, 'you can either have grapes or you can have raisins.' which is less a logic question and more a choice. and yeah i see that it's not presented in the classic 'Either, or' pattern. and yes, grapes can be a choking hazard for toddlers and raisins stick on teeth and cause cavities. okay, so i suppose this whole analogy is shit. BUT you get the idea.

so, there's choice.

and then there's the *idea* of choice. and this is where the 'Either, or' sentence gets tricky. and sometimes mean. often, mean.

now this one is from the cesspool of parenting tools, 'Either you stop crying, or I'm going to give you something to cry about.' really? i'd like to meet the bastard that came up with this one.

or from FOX news and its ilk, 'Either you're with us, or you're against us.' one of my personal favorites.

or from a date/boyfriend/girlfriend/friend with benefits/spouse, 'Either you do *this*, or I'll do *that.*' crossed arms, bitchy face, wash. rinse. repeat.

now. none of these are 'choices.' sure okay yeah, they are *technically* because they are being *offered.* but if you're employing logic they are not.

stop crying. how is that a choice? it's a command. and the whole i'll give you something to cry about? who chooses this?! ever!

either you're with us or against us. this is just crap. because so often politics are NOT black and white and yet the most strident of political players want us to believe they are and choose from two non-choices. they CREATE the dividing line exclusively *by not offering any choice.* i don't want to be with you, and yet i am not *totally* against you. (okay, yeah, mostly...but still!) how is that a choice?

and the whole intimate partner ultimatum. how is this EVER a choice? it's not. it's manipulation by one person over the other. if you do not do what *I* want you to do then you will suffer. so it's 'Either this, or that.' and NEITHER *this* NOR *that* is an actual freakin' *choice. * okay, rarely.

it's usually 'Either you put your balls in this vice grip, or you string them from that flag pole.' or, you know, something to that effect. (you can insert your own gender specific metaphor)

just because somebody presents something like it's a choice doesn't mean that it is one. not by a long shot. and it's your job to figure it out.

so when, for instance, the sentence in the Logic book says 'Either you have three arms, or you don't,' you have to ask yourself if you are being given actual choices to consider. and yes, you are. you either have three arms or you don't. so the sentence is T for true. and so i mark it T. it is true that either i have three arms or i don't.

but when the sentence in the Logic book says 'Either all the animals in the world are giraffes, or all the animals in the world are elephants,' it's obvious, after you ask yourself of course, that you are NOT being given a choice. there is NO way all the animals in the world could be one or the other. and yet it's being presented to you as if you ARE being given an actual choice. and so the answer is F.

so using these examples, i gave the duke another lesson. and the lesson was as follows;

if someone is trying to manipulate, bully, guilt, or ultimatum you into choosing one thing over another when neither are proper choices then you should refuse. don't buy into it. further, if they keep pressing and won't let it go, you should say the following, 'what you are saying is completely illogical. either you give me two proper choices, or you can...'

and then i gave the duke some very choice phrases to choose from. ACTUAL choices. some of which may or may not have been instructions on activities the other person could perform on themselves. but i can't share them with you here because they are trade secrets.

the bottom line is while foul language and vulgarity (two things i LOVE) in general are discouraged here at the big red house, there is a time and a place. and one should always have an arsenal of choice phrases at the ready should the need arise. and i say adolescence definitely presents those opportunities for the need arising.

and then at the very end of the lesson i did have one more lesson for the duke;

if your mother is royally pissed to the point that she offers you two completely illogical NON-choices to choose from, it would be in your best interest to be smart and just choose one and don't. say. a. word. above all, whatever you do, DO NOT try to employ logic in that situation. ever.

motherhood does come with its perks.

and hey, in my defense, *i* never took logic.