WOOHOO!!! We’ve got a new home .. we’ll keep this site up for a short while but please make note of our new location:
See You There!!
WOOHOO!!! We’ve got a new home .. we’ll keep this site up for a short while but please make note of our new location:
See You There!!
Days like this are the kind of days
that have me questioning everything, mostly myself. I have come so far, and
just about the time I think I’m gaining momentum, I hit a speed bump emblazoned
with the letters…. FAIL. I envision them painted in bright, neon green for some
It started at around 4 a.m. I was
having a dream that I needed to go to the bathroom. It was the kind of dream
where you are awake enough to somehow tell yourself , “Don’t wake up and go to
the bathroom because you’ll have a hard time falling back asleep and the alarm
is surely going to go off any minute now. You need sleep.” The dream won. Sure
enough, it was 4:12 a.m. I did my thing and realized instantly….the dreaded
UTI. Sorry guys, but it’s a girl’s worst enemy. Nothing can ruin a day’s plans
quite like this, short of getting hit by a bus. I rummaged through my stash of
expired medicine to see if there was anything left to take—nada. I tried to
fall back asleep—double nada. I downed water hoping to flush it all out…more
pain. I was literally counting the hours until the kids woke up so I could take
them to school and I could get myself to one of those doc in the box type
places for some drugs, stat.
This little illness follows the
Fifth Disease diagnosis my pre-schooler had last week and the little bladder
infection she had herself right on top of it. It’s been fun times around our
house for certain. Oh, and off topic – speaking of pee…the “sweet” kitty cat I
got for my daughter out of guilt for giving her dog away three years ago (which
she hasn’t forgotten and reminds me of almost weekly AND writes about in school
every chance she gets) is in perpetual heat. Since there are no male cats to be
found, she “releases” herself all over the house by marking her territory every
few inches along all of the baseboards. Pee sucks, especially around this
house. I hate pee.
OK, back on topic….I continued to
do my work, writing profiles and the like while trying to ignore my little
illness, praying the drugs I scored earlier would kick in. They never really
did. Finally, I gave up around 4 p.m. and called my personal doctor who said she could squeeze me in at 5. She had
a feeling this had gone to my kidneys or I just needed stronger medication. She
was right on both points and by 7 p.m., I was in a much better place. Still in
pain, but nothing compared to earlier in the day when it was so bad I was
nauseous with chills.
I managed to get some things done
around the house while tuning into Idol and called the kids in from outside to
get ready for bed. The oldest child came in on the first call, but I don’t know
who it was that tagged along behind her. It was a child that looked like
Olivia, but certainly didn’t act like her.
“I’m NOT going to bed and YOU CAN’T
MAKE ME!” (Said in an almost laughing/almost crying hysterical whine.)
(Insert howling wail/moan/mating
call from cat as she humps the laptop.)
Then, she pushed me. Not the cat –
I did the whole “you are on thin
ice, missy” routine. It didn’t affect her one bit.
So she pinched Kate.
“OWWW! Did you SEE that Mom?”
Kate takes off running with Liv
right behind her, kicking her whenever she gets the chance. Kate is yelling
while Liv is laughing, watching me with these daring eyes… “So, lady, what
are you going to do now?”
By this time the noise is at a
deafening level right when the phone rings. Kate recognizes it’s her dad’s
ringtone and immediately picks it up to tell on her little sister. The drama
escalates as Olivia takes a full glass of iced tea and proceeds to dump it out,
looking right at me, all over the coffee table as I watch it drip—wait, make
that pour—down onto the rug, creating a nice tea stain that will be impossible
to remove. Olivia laughs, delighted and proud of herself for making me scream
out in horror at what she had just done. Kate is giving her dad a play-by-play,
much to my disdain as I’m sure he’s reveling in the “I told her it would be
like this” glee.
Unfortunately, the pain pills haven’t
kicked in yet, and I’m feeling just about as bad as I felt earlier in the day,
but there’s no rest when there’s a spilled iced tea emergency and an ex-husband
laughing at your failure as a parent. I had to stop Liv from her rein of pre-K
terror. Kate keeps talking to her dad while I simultaneously clean up the mess
and deal with Olivia. Then I hear a WAIL, almost as bad as the cat’s, coming
from Kate’s room. Olivia had taken a large cup from the bathroom, filled it
with water, and dumped it right in the middle of Kate’s room, just to see what
This is what happened: It ruined
the art project she had been working on since December – colors bleeding
everywhere off of the poster.
“I HATE YOU OLIVIA! I HATE
EVERYONE! I HATE MY LIFE!”
SLAM. And then she cries to her dad
on the phone. I’m tempted to listen in, but I have bigger problems.
I continue to deal with Olivia –
grounding, stern voice and face, go to your room….all of it. She runs from me
and locks herself in the bathroom screaming at the top of her lungs, “I WANT A
NEW MOMMY! I HATE MY MOMMY! I WANT TO GO HOME TO ANOTHER HOUSE AND NOT THIS
HOUSE! YOU MAKE ME GO TO BED ALL THE TIME! I HATE EVERYONE IN THIS HOUSE! I
HATE EVERYONE IN THIS WORLD!”
By this time, I’m on the phone with
their dad talking about this new phase Olivia has entered into, which
apparently she showed off for him on Saturday night as well. He tells me to
ignore her. That’s what he did, and according to him, worked.
Kinda hard to do, but I try. I
continue to clean up and do things around the house while she continues her
rant. She tries to go into her sister’s room but realizes it’s locked. So she
starts kicking it and ripping the papers down that had been carefully taped up.
She finds me on the floor, sopping up spilled tea, and proceeds to kick me
square in the back and grab my shirt telling me she wishes I would go away
I sternly and rather forcefully
take her and sit her down right on my lap telling her that I know she’s tired
and doesn’t always like the rules but that she has lost all privileges for a
week, including coloring, play time, outside time….. I go on and on and talk to
her about apologizing to me and her sister. She runs to Kate’s room and screams
“I’M NOT SORRY!” She sees one glass of water left and throws it on me. And
laughs. I cry. I just start to cry.
Fine, go ahead. Tell me how I lost
all control at that moment and let a five year old defeat me. I was tired.
Sick. Nauseous. Earlier in the day, I went through all of my bills, paid them,
and realized yet once again that I work like crazy for pennies and every penny
goes to the house that I can’t sell. The same house, apparently, that both kids
hate and look at as the reason they aren’t in their “real house” anymore. I
hate this house. I really do. (Gee, I wonder where they get it?)
Off topic again. This house is too
much work. It’s too big for us. The rooms we don’t use are too big, and the
rooms we do use are too small. It’s a crappy floor plan. And speaking of
floors, they have cat pee on them in most every corner. EW. The yard is way
bigger than we’ll ever need. And guess what that yard does? Yep, grow. Guess
who sucks at using the lawnmower? Yep, me. It dies every few feet and I kill
myself starting it back up. Up until last week, the weeds were taller than Liv.
The HOA has killed countless trees sending me certified letters warning me to
fertilize and weed-eat my lawn. A lawn is a single working mom’s nightmare.
OK, sorry….back on topic. So I
continued with the bedtime routine. Helped her into her nightgown as she
struggled to fight me. Consoled my oldest daughter while she got into bed,
crying herself to sleep that it was “the worst day ever.” Turned off the light
while the youngest kicked and tossed and turned in her bed reminding me in her
loudest, yet broken with sobbing tears voice, “I hate you. You are the worstest
mommy ever, and I am not going to give you what I am making you in school for “modder’s
I calmly told her that it’s too bad
we had such a hard night and that tomorrow morning she needs to apologize to
her sister. That she has lost story privileges for the night and mommy’s going
to bed now. “I HATE EVERYBODY. EVERYBODY IS ANNOYING. EVERYBODY DOESN’T LOVE
ME!” I, of course, remind her that while I’m very disappointed her behavior tonight,
I love her very much. I pray it sinks in, but it doesn’t seem like it.
As mad as I am at her, my heart
breaks for her. She’s five and she’s beyond tired. Beyond upset. She realizes
what she’s done and doesn’t know what to do next. I tell her than when she
calms down I’ll come lay beside her. “You won’t. You always say you do and you
don’t. You lie!”
I remind her that I lay with her
every night until she falls asleep. She argues that point, but I let it go.
The tears dry and the
cry-breathe-thing slows down. She’s, at last, asleep.
I check on the oldest and she’s on
the floor, still in tears. Her bed is wet. Apparently, we missed it when Olivia
poured water on the bed as well. She looks at me with the “please let me sleep in
your room tonight” eyes. So I just say, “Come with me and go straight to sleep.”
We don’t really discuss anything.
She asks if I think there’s any way to save her poster. I tell her I don’t
know, but that we’ll try. And I remind her that it’s hard to be the youngest
when it seems like everyone else gets to do everything and you’re always “too
little.” She’s going on 9 ½, so she understands, even if she doesn’t like it.
I don’t like it, either.
When I finally sit down to finish
up some work, I realize I’m exhausted to the point of not even being able to
sleep…yet. And the tears just start to fall. First, a little here and there,
and then a floodgate. I thought maybe writing about it would help. It usually
does. And it already has. Not sure why, but it works. And whatever works,
I hate it that he got to literally
hear my FAIL tonight. He even got a play-by-play as it happened. Nothing I can
do about it now, but it admittedly bothers me. I thought abut calling my mom,
but I know she would just worry. There’s only so much your parents can do for
you when you’re a month shy of turning 38. This is my bed, and I’m all the way
I took some more medicine and
noticed that the pain has noticeably faded. I don’t know if it was because of
the medicine or because I was so incredibly distracted. As I wrap this up, I’m
happy to finally be tired enough to sleep and just annoyed enough to realize
the cat (MEEEOOOOWWWWWW) is going to keep me from it until she realizes that
there is no late-night bootie-call delivery service for male cats.
To my left is a pile of work which
is just going to have to wait until tomorrow. I think I need today to
officially be over. But before it is, I’m going to go check on the little one
and pull her covers up…make sure she has her ducky. I’ll keep telling myself
that this would be happening at this stage no matter where we lived or what our
life circumstance, but I have my doubts.
Today sucked – for me, for my
bladder, for Kate, for Liv, and yes even for my revved up, over-sexed cat.
Guess that’s why God gives us
tomorrows. To try again. I failed today. I’ll be feeling pretty good if I can
just get a C tomorrow. Extra credit for a smooth bedtime, too. A girl can
The first show was one of those investigative channel, figure-out-why-she-died type of shows. Something about a marriage gone wrong, did husband murder her or not, turns out he didn’t, but wait maybe he did, blah, blah. After many years, new evidence surfaced which required a team of investigators to exhume the body. Note YEARS later. The autopsy dude (probably not the title on his business card) was so excited about how in- tact the body was after all that time. And then they showed it! The dead, decayed body! First, the opening the coffin…and then its contents. She was still holding a picture someone placed in her hands prior to the big send off to the sky (let’s hope.) She still had her hair (curly) and even some skin. (I know, ewwww.) But wait! There’s more! THEN they showed what she looked like after they cleaned her off. Now that’s the stuff nightmares are made of people, maybe not yours….but mine. I keep trying to busy myself with other things around the house but every time I pause for just a second, I get that visual and I kick myself for giving that show more than a half second of my time. Like I said, scary as hell.
I admit to a few guilty pleasure shows but rarely get to watch any of them thanks to my crazy schedule and those two kids the hospital sent home with me. However, today I caught up on one of them — Tough Love. Side note: First of all, I’m guessing Steve is the perfect guy, right? Somehow (because his mother says so, it appears) he is now some expert on everything these women do wrong (although my five year old could point out the error of their ways, too) and he knows everything about how a man thinks, what a man wants, and what a woman needs to do to ensure she’ll never check "single" on a form at the dentist’s office again. (Double side note — why does the dentist care if I’m single, married, divorced, or other? Do tell.) Anyway, if Steve’s so smart and perfect, shouldn’t all these Tough Love women try to date Steve????
So, back to scary… in this particular episode, the all-knowing and often angrier-than-necessary Steve has Hollywood make-up artists make each chick look 40 years older. OH C’MON, they’re all in the 25 range today. If the way they look post make-up is the new 65, then please let me end it all today. Seriously. I’m fine to get off the bus right now. No wonder they were so horrified. I’ve seen younger-looking women at my granny’s Alzheimer’s nursing home. Argh.
After their extreme (-ly awful) makeover, they go into a room and witness a mock SWA meeting. (I know right? Why would anyone stage a pretend Southwest Airlines meeting?) Actually, no, turns out the meeting was Single Women Anonymous. That’s when I got somewhat scared. Is the desperation so bad out there that we should now be embarrassed to be single? We need meetings? We need to be anonymous? At what point am I supposed to consider attending something like this? So many things to consider. Again, moving on.
You have to see this show to appreciate its hilarity, or lack thereof, but after the shock of seeing what they might look like in 40 years (if indeed they age at a rate of 10 years annually), they listened to a panel of three older single women (probably in their late 60s or early 70s who actually look their age) tell them why they are single at this stage of their life and recount the mistakes they made that caused them to suffer such an awful fate of permanent singlehood. The girls listened, horrified, as one woman explained how she had never been married or had children (GASP). Another explained that she wasted too much time chasing a married man (as the camera pans to the chick who recently admitted dating a married man….sorry sugar). Another married for the wrong reasons and ultimately got divorced, and just about the time she found a new love, he passed away. Wiping their tears, the girls all agreed they could never, ever let this happen to them! They had to hurry up and get married NOW! They saw the light! They’re going to do everything Steve tells them to do from now on. They realized if they don’t hook up now and slam Steve’s token promise ring they wear around their necks on some poor sap’s hand this very instant, they would eventually wind up horror of all horrors….single forever!
I can’t decide what scared me the most….watching the sheer magnitude of mascara that can run down Taylor’s face when she cries; Taylor’s confusing hair extensions; enduring Tanisha, period; imagining the hole in Angel’s pierced dimple when an earring’s not in it; Angel’s teeth; enduring Rocky, period; watching bad-drunk Jenna literally drag a guy into a hug; or …..actually somewhat identifying with these sappy, single, and pathetically desperate chicks’ fears about growing old alone. When one of the older women on the panel said something along the lines of “my life has turned out so sad and lonely,” I realized that good ‘ol Steve is, in fact, a genius.
If he can’t TEACH these girls how to get a guy the old fashioned way by locking them up in a mansion-style boot camp for six weeks and then unleashing them on men at lame pool parties armed with only a bikini and a steady supply of margaritas, then he can just scare the hell out of them with major wrinkles, saggy boobs, grey hair, ugly old lady pajamas, and a lifetime of solitude. See, told ya – scary as hell.
When I served my oldest daughter
two plates of spaghetti in a row last night, I was finally convinced that, yes,
maybe I need a break.
On autopilot, as usual, I prepared
(a mostly out of a box) dinner for my daughters. I put the spaghetti on the
plate just like the oldest daughter likes it – extra noodles, medium sauce not
mixed up with the noodles, and “shaky cheese” on the side. I took the plate to
the table where she was sitting and doing her homework.
Within seconds, I repeated the process.
Kate: “Uh, mom? Why did you just give me another plate of
Me: “What? Huh?”
I look over and sure enough, two
full hot plates of spaghetti were sitting in front of her.
I couldn’t even use the excuse that
I meant the second plate for her sister. She was already devouring her bowl of
pasta, prepared just the way she likes – bow tie pasta, butter, a tiny spoonful
of sauce on top, meatballs, no “shaky cheese.” I completely forgot that I had just
served my daughter dinner, thus the second dinner.
Me: “Well, I guess if you want seconds, then it’s ready for
Kate: “Mom, I think you’re losing it.”
She may have a point. This is just
a small example of my behavior lately. In a month’s time, I’ve managed to lose
then find my phone and keys at least a dozen times. I don’t mean lose them for
five minutes and check the usual spots until I find them. I mean lose them and
find them in the pantry or in the guest bath. Sometimes I lose them right where
they should be – in the front pocket of my purse. I’ve lost two pair of
sunglasses this year. I’ve been wearing a pair my sister left behind, but only
when I’m driving. I’m afraid to wear them outside of the car, because I don’t
want to have to replace them. I can’t afford her taste in protective eyewear. I
can’t find my favorite pair of black pants. I’m embarrassed to even tell you
where I found the remote control last. This morning, I back out of the driveway
and glance at the trash cans in front of the neighbor’s house. “Why would they
be putting their garbage out a day early,” I ask….out loud, to no one in
particular. Kate asks, “What day is trash day?” “Thursday,” I reply. “Um, mom,
it’s Thursday.” I can’t risk Kate being tardy so I drive her to school, navigate
the carpool line, then rush back to the house to get the trash can to the curb
before pick up time. I have, literally, seconds to spare. Trash guy gives me a
big grin and a wave. Yeah, as far as he knows, I knew it was trash day all
along. I just like to live on the edge is all. That’s my story.
I’ve left my garage door open twice
this month. We’re all still alive, so clearly no one made themselves at home
thanks to that mistake. Last night, I dropped my daughter off at her piano
lesson 40 minutes early. I thought her lesson was at 5. It’s a 5:30 – every week.
How can I forget something I do every week? When I came to pick her up, I
waited with her little sister in the car. We played “I Spy” until it became too
dark, then we discussed the highs and lows of your average day at preschool. As
I watched the clock tick past 5:30, I started to silently curse the piano
teacher. “How dare she keep an eight year old this late! The poor kid has
homework, and it’s well past dinner! Give her a break!” Then it dawns on me. My
“poor kid” has been at the piano teacher’s house for almost an hour and a half
– because of me. I got the times wrong.
Kate: “MOM! Do you know how many lessons I had to sit
through? Do you KNOW how starving I am? My teacher said next time you shouldn’t
drop me off so early and I couldn’t even get a drink of water!”
Me: Well, there isn’t a quote here, as I drove home in
stunned silence, glancing from time to time in the rearview mirror to see if
CPS is following me.
heck is wrong with me lately? For the love of all things Pledge and Pine Sol, I
cannot keep my house clean. It’s a disaster area 6.5 days out seven. I have to
push piles of sheer CRAP to the sides to carve a path to the bed every night so
that I can at least collapse on something soft. As tired as I am lately, I’d be
more than happy to sleep on the dining room floor, mostly because it’s the only
room in the house that’s clean.
When I get a call from my Realtor
asking when the house will be ready for an open house, it takes everything I
have not to pull the sign out of the front yard, whack her a time or two with
it, and just scream “FORGET IT!” I mean, seriously, apparently the only reason
anyone looks at my house is to relieve themselves after a night of bad Mexican
food. That’s right, during a recent showing, a man (obviously of epic
proportions in size based on what he left behind) decided to use my guest bath
as a public urinal. It took professional plumbing equipment and sterilization
techniques like those used in an OR to get my bathroom back to working order
and suitable to re-enter. It was a crime against humanity. During the chaos of
The Bathroom Incident, the cat managed to run away. This is the same cat that
also bit me just weeks ago, right in the stomach. Did I let it run? No, because
clearly I love pain and punishment. Instead, I scoured the cul-de-sac with a
tiny Tinkerbell flashlight, yelling “here kitty, kitty” shaking a jar of
treats….looking for a solid black cat…at night…in the rain and mud…wearing flip
flops….while my sobbing children are on the front porch whining, “Mommmyyyyy
you haaaave to find Coco! You just haaaaaaaave to!” (Yes, I found her. No, I’m
not happy about it.)
see….. not enough? Ok, then. What else? I apparently broke my pre-lit Christmas
tree when stuffing it back into the box last year. Well, I broke one-third of
the Christmas tree, as the bottom branches all droop way down now. Have you
ever taken a match to a few hundred dollars? Well, that’s kind of what it feels
like to break the pre-lit Christmas tree you bought just a year ago.
taking a match to something (sorry PETA) but I’d like to take a match to the
tree every time the damn cat climbs up in it, swiping at me with its devil claws
when I try to coax it out from the branches. Every time I lunge, she swipes and
every time we go at it, more ornaments crash to the floor as the tree sways
forward, almost on top of me. By the time the cat is out, I have scratch marks
all over my hands and wrists, at least five more broken ornaments, one cussing
mama, two crying kids, and a fallen (grapevine wreath) angel. It’s kind of like
a partridge in a pear tree, minus the partridge and the pears.
found all of the remote controls to the televisions after one year of living in
the new house, which I’m now selling thanks to me NOT KNOWING WHAT THE HELL I
WAS THINKING BUYING A HOUSE LIKE THIS IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE DURING A
RECESSION…. But I digress……Thing is, I can’t figure out which remote goes to
which television. I tried to match up the brands but only one works. I think.
So I threw them back in the box. I’m kicking it old school and turning the
television on and off by getting up off the couch and physically doing so.
We’ve done it for a year and no one’s died from it. Sigh.
thing I found? Artwork! Not stored paintings I forgot about, but artwork done
by my youngest daughter, Olivia. At almost 5, she has discovered the joys of
expressing herself on walls, doors, coffee tables, my shoes, her shoes,
herself….the list goes on. I thought this was more of an age 2 or 3 thing. I
finally found all of the paint samples underneath all of the Christmas
decorations in the garage, which were next to a dead snake in my garage. At
least I can cover it up so she can start over again. I can’t even talk about the snake. (shiver)
And if her
“doodling” around the house isn’t annoying enough, let’s talk about the cost of
this kid’s baby teeth. Annoying doesn’t begin to describe this. Since her first
dental visit at around age 2, her dentist has said she has “weak teeth” as
evidenced by a fine white line on her teeth, just under gum line. Apparently,
they were strong enough to chew up lots of candy and keep a death grip on the
sugar. More than $3,000 in out of pocket dental expenses later, her teeth are
nice and patched up…and ready to fall out and be replaced with permanent teeth
in a year or so. I wonder if we can eat off her teeth at Christmas, like fine
china? Maybe I can frame them since they cost about as much as a nice piece of
art. Get them made into jewelry, possibly?
it’s no wonder I literally fall into bed every night…..it’s two against one in
my house and I’m barely staying ahead. I love my kids — honestly I do — but I’m seriously considering applying for a zip code for my own butt because every time I turn around, that’s where they are! Can I enroll them in self sufficiency boot camp? It’s like they’ve taken up residency there! Working full time at a very demanding
job downtown, commuting two or more hours a day, homework, housework, laundry,
bills, errands, house being on the market, and being on duty for all things
“mommy” 24/7 might be reason enough to forget I just fed my kid dinner and then
feed her again.
I’m so distracted trying to figure out where all of my money went this year
that I’ve become a bit forgetful. Yes, this has also been the year of
disappearing cash. I realize most parents experience this every time they get
paid. It sits in the bank for about a day and then, just like that, it’s gone.
It’s like children are a magnetic force field that automatically sucks up every
dollar and cent, gobbling it up then coming back for more. And if it’s not the
kids, then it’s the house. If it’s not the house, then your sister decides to
get married in Puerto Vallarta
this spring. And if it’s a trip to not Puerto
Vallarta (which by the way won’t suck once I get over
the sticker shock and love you Deb), it’s a pediatric dentist bill that costs
more than a mortgage payment. If it’s not a dentist bill, then it is Christmas
presents for two kids. If it’s not presents, then it’s the HOA threatening to
sue you for having “overgrown grass in the flowerbeds.” If it’s not the
flowerbeds, it’s time to pay the bill for your daughter’s “one year no
interest” furniture. If it’s not trying to back interest penalties, it’s paying for
parking at work. (WHAT? Yes, really.) If
it’s not parking, then it’s trying to pay off the divorce that made me so poor
in the first damn place.
And then of course, there’s the
little things – school pictures, school book fairs, school fundraisers,
“supply” fees at your daughter’s preschool, lunch money, new shoes every time
you turn around because the kids’ toes are busting through the edges, a new
coat to replace the lost coat, ballet shoes, sheet music for piano….and on and
on and on. I have writer’s cramp from handing out so many checks lately. Now
that I drive the tollway end to end every day, I also spend the equivalent of a
moderate car payment in gas each month. Don’t be surprised to see “gasoline” on
my Christmas list this year. Really. I’ve decided to take up sewing because the
only two purses I have that are even decent to carry both have huge rips in the
lining. Many of the things I’ve lost, I find down in the abyss of these rips –
except the sunglasses of course. Because of “all of the above” I can’t part
with the cash to buy another purse, but I think I can afford a thread and
That is, if that damn HOA lady will
stay away from my flower beds this month. And if I don’t lose the thread before
I even get it home from the store.
Especially with a glass of Bailey’s
…. Til next time….
A friend of mine from college recently revealed he’s having
trouble in his marriage and admitted that he thinks the problems are mostly his
fault. He has followed my blog for awhile and heard through mutual friends
about my life. I guess I now serve as an official warning for him, because he
also admitted that he doesn’t want to share my fate….divorced and/or alone
facing 40. (Yes, one of my proudest moments.) He wanted to know what he could do to turn things in his marriage
back around. He said he knows she has her issues to deal with but was mature
enough to realize that he can only deal with his own, rather than doing to the
proverbial “waiting for her to change.” (Shout out to wife….this is GOOD. Notice this!)
As much as I’d like to help, I have to also laugh. I
envisioned a scene from a movie, where he has an earpiece as I coach him
through things to say to make his wife fall in love with him all over again. I
also want to laugh because I hardly feel qualified to help him keep his
marriage in tact. When you think about it, I’m anything but an expert on how to
keep a marriage together. But then again, my mind was filled with ideas for him
before we ever finished our conversation Maybe my misfortune has taught me a thing or two? Isn’t that what life’s all about? Learning from mistakes…sharing the wisdom of experience? I don’t know his wife very well, but
in a way I know her all too well because she is a wife and mom in her late 30s
who obviously feels very alone even though she isn’t. She’s starting to shut down and he has a small window left to keep it from happening. I’m almost certain I know
exactly what she wants even though she’s never told me. I now also know what he
wants – to keep his marriage in place and to make sure she knows that he really
does love her, even though he (stupidly) hasn’t told her or showed her in far
too long. And what’s that old saying? Stop telling your wife how much you love
her, and eventually, someone else will? Well, that’s what he’s afraid of. So
here’s my best guess on how to keep your fear from ever becoming a reality,
friend….. And may you never have the terms “decree,” “visitation,” or “ex” fall
from your lips.
Don’t assume she knows how much you love her. Tell her. Even
if you’re bored of saying it and even if she has irritated you enough all week
that you don’t even feel it at the moment, tell her that you love her. You don’t
have to exchange “I love you’s” like two soap opera stars going at it, but at least say the
words once a day. Try really hard not to walk out of the house without saying
it. And just like your grandmother told you, don’t go to bed without saying it,
either. I can now vouch that hearing those three words right before you fall asleep can make all the
difference in your attitude and even your relationship. It sounds cliché, but you really just don’t know
what’s going to happen after you part ways. Try to remember that if something
bad happened, you would always wish that your last words to her were “I love
you”… so say them. There are times when it will start to feel awkward to say it
simply because it’s been so long, thanks to the mundane, daily routine of real
life that gets in the way of feelings. When that starts to happen, make it a
point to say “I love you” even more so you never get out of the habit again.
Don’t assume she knows how much you love her. Show her.
Women love words but they also love a man to back up what he says. I don’t mean
show her by buying her gifts. Sometimes, believe it or not, that’s too easy.
Show her in little ways. There are things she either can’t do or just doesn’t
want to do even if she says she doesn’t mind. (Trust me.) Take the trash out to
the curb on garbage day, clean out the garage before she starts nagging, fix
whatever it is around the house that needs fixing, have dinner ready when she comes home, start
cleaning the kitchen after dinner before she even gets up to start….or just get
up and help her, pick up that "whatever it is she’s been wanting lately" on your way home and surprise her on a random Tuesday.When she sounds tired, bring home take out. When she’s sick,
take care of her. Take the kids out for an hour or two without her begging you
to do so, so that she gets some alone time. Don’t judge what she does during
her alone time, either. It could be a nice, long nap. It could be organizing a
closet. It could be watching back-to-back tivo’d Oprah’s. And when life’s
special occasions come along, even though you might feel silly doing so after
all this time….celebrate them. They matter to her. A lot.
Tell her why. One of my favorite movies is The Last Kiss. In it, the dad is telling his son-in-law, who is fighting with his daughter and wants her back, "Any asshole can say ‘I love you’ — it’s what you do with those words that counts." Now and then, let her know you love her or what you love about her. Chances are, she sometimes wonders….especially if a lot of what she hears is things you do wrong or things about her that bother you. When you magnify her character flaws — yes, we all have them — she more than likely dwells on that. Give her a break and let her blush a little when she hears what you do love about her.
If she has questions, answer them. Don’t roll your eyes or ask
if you can talk about it later. Most of all, don’t ignore her questions. If she
is feeling uncertain about the relationship, there must be a reason. Like it or
not, women are “feelers.” They like to gauge where the relationship is and
where it’s going. If she thinks your relationship in trouble, respect her fears
and feelings, even if she’s way off base. Maybe you’re stressed out about
something at work and your distance has nothing to do her or the relationship.
When she asks, tell her what it is and what it isn’t. More than likely, she’ll
stop asking and you can go on about your daily life. And if there is something
wrong, then you might as well get it out there. Problems in a marriage or relationship sit on
both sides. If you’ve been harboring resentment and anger about something,
there’s no better time to talk about that when she brings it up. Women start
shutting down when they begin to feel like their feelings aren’t being
validated. An easy way to keep that from happening is to listen and validate.
It’s a lot easier than it sounds – promise.
Address her complaints. Is what she’s asking for really that out of the question to do? Maybe it’s to call her in the day…answer her texts….acknowledge
when she does something nice for you. Maybe it’s to sit at the table with you
instead of in front of the television during dinner. Maybe it’s to take her to lunch now and
then. Maybe it’s to be nicer to her parents when they visit. Maybe it’s to try
to avoid talking about politics at a dinner party. Maybe it’s to lower your voice when you’re angry. Maybe it’s to take turns
changing dirty diapers. Maybe it’s asking you to be more forthcoming with
affections and affirmations so she doesn’t worry so much about you. If it’s not that big
of a deal….then just do it. Address the issue and then “poof” – like magic – it
Notice her. Women are born with a need to please. They’re
doers. Givers. This is especially true when it comes to the person they love. Most
women are nurturers from the time they get their first baby doll to when they
get married and have children of their own, and then grandchildren. They just
never seem to run out of love to give. Giving and nurturing is as natural to us
as peeing outdoors is to you. Every time you don’t acknowledge something sweet that she
says or does – even if it’s the simplest gesture – she shuts down a little
more. Keep it up….take it for granted… and over time, she will shut down
completely. Some women have the capability to open back up when their men
scramble to make it up to them. Some don’t. I said in a blog once that when I
love someone, I will color outside of the lines with wild abandon…..but
eventually, I will run out of crayons. It’s a flaw of mine, I suppose. I am a giver,
and I will give and give and then give some more…..but eventually I run out of
give and I’m done. The simplest thing you can do is just acknowledge the gift –
whatever it is. It might be a note she left for you, a sweet text she sent
during the day, a suggestion to dance to a song she likes, that she washed,
folded, and put away all of your laundry for you, or that the house is sparkling
clean when you get home after she’s worked all day, shuttled the kids around,
and put them to bed. Notice it. OUT LOUD. Reciprocate the favors when you can
but if nothing else, I can guarantee you that what she wants more than reciprocation
Do you think she’s pretty? Tell her. I bet you told her how
great you think she looks quite a bit when you first got together. You probably
couldn’t keep your hands off of her. Maybe she’s older, but so are you. Maybe
you’re tired, but so is she. If you notice that she looks particularly pretty
tonight while she’s putting the dishes away, stop her and tell her so. If you
love the way she looks when she hugs your daughter, tell her. When she’s off to
work and dressed up, let her know she’s dressed to kill that day. Even though
it’s ancient thought and a bit sexist, women spend a lot of time and energy
trying to look good for men. They need and want to feel desired by the man they
love. Nothing makes a woman feel more sexy and confident than when she is
certain the man she’s with thinks she’s the most beautiful woman in the room….or on
the planet. One way to let her know how you feel is to initiate affection. Note
I didn’t say sex….. but affection. If you can initiate affection and let her know
you think she is, in fact, the most beautiful woman in the room and on the
planet, there’s a good chance it will lead to what you
want anyway. Women think about getting attention; men think about getting “it.”
The first almost always leads to the other in a relationship. Try it out. If
you start out at the “last step” every time you’ll eventually get into the
habit of skipping the “first steps” and women are wired to require the steps in
order. Well, most of the time anyway!
Value her mind; not just her body. This said, as
much as a woman loves feeling beautiful, she also wants to make sure the man she’s with knows she’s about so much more than the way she looks. (Well, most women
anyway.) If you’re intimidated by an intelligent, independent-thinking woman,
then you probably shouldn’t have married or dated one. A smart woman can, for
awhile, try to be “small” to fit inside an insecure man’s world. But
eventually, a smart-enough woman will no longer be able to stay small and she’ll
settle for nothing less than being her intelligent and capable herself.
Appreciate all of her gifts….intellectually, emotionally, and physically…and
then there will be no reason to feel insecure because you’ll have the love and
devotion of a whip-smart, driven woman who knows what she wants….you.
Belittling her or making fun of her to make yourself feel better or more important will almost
always – if she really is that smart – backfire. She’ll get tired of it and
leave, making your jokes hardly worth it.
You’ve probably noticed by now that the woman you’re with is
unnecessarily complicated. You’re right. She wants you to read her mind, romance her, acknowledge her, and
do things for her all while maintaining she could do it all on her own if she wanted. But when you ask her what’s wrong she’ll say “nothing.” If
you ask her what she wants she’ll say “you should already know.” Or worse, she’ll
answer “fine” to everything. I hate this part about being female. I’ve been
guilty of it. I guess in this department, what I can tell you is that if you
sense something is wrong, it probably is. And if you ignore it, it won’t go
away. It will get worse. She’ll pull away emotionally and then physically. And
then you’ll complain that she’s not affectionate anymore and that she withholds
sex from you. She’ll say that’s just what happens when she starts feeling
unloved and underappreciated. The talking stops, unless you’re fighting. And
then you find yourself fighting about anything but the true problem at hand –
that you’re both scared of what’s happening and unraveling right before your
very eyes. By this time, resentment has built up on both ends so no one does
anything about it. Life alternates between being completely numb, to completely
silent, to screaming at the top of your lungs at each other to…. the end. Well,
if you’re not careful anyway. Find the way to communicate with each other….by
actions, words, affection…..It may not be the same for both but find what works
for each and use those tools. As long as you’re “talking – in whatever form that
is – then you’re together. And that’s what you said you wanted, right? Now, stop reading this and go give your wife a big hug. And then take out the trash.
*** Disclaimer: I wrote this off the top of my head in about
30 minutes while monitoring homework, boo-boos, and while on cold medicine. I
don’t speak for all women. These are just a few tips I picked up on the way. And if you’re doing all of this stuff already and your relationship is still headed for the toilet, I’m guessing you have bigger problems than texting back "i love you too" during the day. Also keep in mind that most of the time, I have no idea what I’m talking about. Now and then a nugget of wisdom is released….maybe you’ll find one here. (P.S….have you taken out the trash yet?)
Go ahead and wonder what the hell is wrong with me when I make this statement: “I don’t really like animals.” There, I said it. Hit delete or read on. I come by this honestly. My mother doesn’t like animals, either, as she reminded me over and over growing up. Seeing her pet a dog is one of the most unnatural scenes I’ve ever witnessed. It’s like oil and water—doesn’t mix.
By not liking animals, I don’t mean I advocate their abuse and I don’t drive 30 miles out of the way to avoid catching a glimpse of the zoo. I like them, just not in my house. I don’t like paying for their various needs, as I have two children that consume every dollar for their various needs. And I happen to like my children, so if I have X dollars the X goes to them, not to the cat. I want what’s left of X to go to a new pair of shoes for myself.
I wasn’t always like this. Like any other American child, I begged for a dog. Our blended family, I thought, needed a pet to make it complete. I vaguely remembered the responsibility speech as the four of us chanted “pleeeaaaaseee” to our parents. And then Hershey came along. To honor our family’s two last names, we called Hershey (girls’ idea) Boy (Chris’s idea as he was the only boy in the family) SanDob (a mixture of Sander and Dobbins.) We played with him all the time for maybe a weekend or two. And then there was Lucky. I’m not sure how we got either one, but I know we loved them a lot for a very short amount of time before we got distracted by other things. I remember watching them outside our window as they jumped up begging for attention. I wanted to watch Brady Bunch so I’d just turn the other way trying to ignore their sad faces. Left to come up with their own entertainment, they became fairly wild dogs and would jump on us with such force, they’d usually knock us over. They knew where they weren’t wanted and dug under the fence again and again trying to escape their lonely lives, only to be caught and thrown in the pound. I’m surprised my parents kept bailing them out. I think after that we had a bird dog, Lady, but she wasn’t really “our’s” as much as she was for my brother and step-dad for hunting. I can’t remember which combo wound up with puppies – Lady and Lucky or Lady and Hershey – but at one point, we had puppies. Not sure where they went, either. As you can tell, I was very involved in the lives of these creatures. And the last thing I remember is noticing one day that the dogs were no longer in our back yard. They went to that proverbial farm, and that was that. I felt relief that I no longer had to get attacked every time I fed and watered them. I also felt a sense of relief that I didn’t have to feel guilty every time they stared at me, begging to play outside with them while I stayed inside with my Barbies or whatever it was I was interested in at the time.
And then I got the critter fever. My best friend Renee had a hamster. And that hamster was just tons of fun, I thought, except when it peed on me. I had to have one, too. Somehow I convinced my mom to get me one. I already had a parakeet, Pretzel. I suckered my grandparents in that on my seventh birthday. He had an affinity for Michael Jackson music, and I actually took really good care of him. But when he escaped, it was my mom who coaxed him onto a pencil and back into the cage, cursing under her breath the whole time. Back to the hamster…. For some reason, it would only sleep under the water bottle, which dripped and it wasn’t long before (was it Cinammon? Ginger? I don’t remember) started looking sickly. During a weekend away, I let my best friend and fellow hamster fan take care of my hamster for me. Seems Ginger took a turn for the worse one day and they actually took it to a vet. The hamster was diagnosed with pneumonia and died a few days later. My step-dad made a tomb stone for it and we buried it in a shoebox in the alley. I got another one soon after. Renee and I wondered what would happen if we let our hamsters “play” one day. Well, 13 baby hamsters later, we found out. Since I had the girl hamster, I became a grandmother to the babies. My mom wanted them gone—fast. I gave a few away to neighbor friends and sold the rest for $2 apiece at a local pet shop. That’s when I saw a gerbil. Why I wanted a gerbil, I don’t know – rat-looking thing. As most critters do, the gerbil escaped. We never found it. But we could hear it – in our walls. The gerbil, who I named Fonzie, spent his evenings chewing through the inside of our home. Every time mom could hear him, she would give me “the look.” The “I’m so disgusted right now” look. But I ignored her. I wanted Fonzie to come home to his cage and join me and my little critter family of hamsters and parakeets. And one morning while getting ready for school, there he was on my bedroom closet floor. He died about a week later. He joined the other critter in the alley with his own tomb stone.
This brings me to the present. I’ve managed to go the rest of my life without a pet. I haven’t had a dog since I was a child. I’m allergic to cats. I’m over the critter phase. However, there I now have an eight-year-old girl who is a self-admitted “tree hugger.” She is a lover of all things “living,” particularly animals. She reads about them, writes about them, researches them, and pets and loves on them every chance she gets. About two years ago, when she met her Aunt Deborah’s Yorkie-Poo’s, Tiny and Louis, she fell in love with the idea of a small lap dog. That also was the time her parents were divorcing. I felt the perfect band aid for her pain would be to get her a dog like that. So we drove to a breeder, and I plunked down a few hundred bucks for a Yorkie. He was cute for about five minutes. “Pepper” pooped and peed everywhere and at all times. I couldn’t train him. He could jump on the counters, like a cat, and would eat the dinner on the cabinet in a heartbeat. He yapped. All the time. Barked. All the time. Pooped. All the time. He was too little to be an outside dog, and we were gone all day which made him a “laundry room” dog. And he was pissed. Doggie school didn’t work. It was a failed experiment. When I learned we would be living in hotels most of last summer, I knew Pepper had to find a new home. He stayed with my best friend for awhile who loves dogs, and even she couldn’t handle him. He went to a good home, an older lady who has bred Yorkies most of her life. Adios Pepper.
My oldest daughter still cries about Pepper today. What was supposed to help, wound up hurting her worse. Before the dog, we went through various fish and hermit crabs who all eventually met their maker as well, mostly because we didn’t care for them the right way. And now and then, she’ll shed a tear for them too. She still misses “Pishy,” her Beta from when she was a year and a half year old. Yes, in fact I DO have the most sensitive and dramatic child on the planet, thankyouverymuch. But what comes to mind is the funeral I wanted in our alley for the hamsters and gerbils. I cried, too. So I can’t blame the kid. Much, anyway.
So last year, about this time, we’re finally settled into our new home. The talk of a dog to complete this new life comes around again. I think of the potty training, the vet bills, and the fact that we’re never home. I just can’t go through with it again. So she asks for a cat. Yes, I’m allergic but only if I touch them then touch my face. I somehow find myself on Hwy 380 meeting a girl who has one runt kitten left from a litter of “mistakes.” She breeds Siamese cats and mom cat got out one night and messed up the plan. Fine with me. The kitten is cute and doesn’t cause any problems. The care is rather easy and the maintenance is low. So is the cost.
Then the cat turns into a she-devil…pouncing, knocking everything over, shedding…. ACHOOO!!!!!!!!!!!! She claws the kids, claws my furniture….and did I mention she has turned my laundry room into a toilet? She loves to chew up toilet paper and string it through the house…. She pees in the shower…and she likes to chew up pictures for some reason……She knows who loves her – Kate. And she is nice to Kate but that’s it. I want to get her de-clawed but when I think of where to spend $300, it’s not on a cat right now. But we have her. And whenever I talk about finding her a new home, out come the tears.
And this brings us to Layla, the lizard. “Mom can I have a lizard?” I hear this about six months ago, and it continues. Every answer is no. No. No. No. No. Finally I tell her that if she researches lizards and learns about them, then we’ll talk. She basically writes me a college thesis on lizards. She catches one at her dad’s and it gets away. She catches another, and her little sister “accidentally” kills it. She has done everything possible to convince me that she “haaaaaaaas to haaaaaaaaave a lizard.” I ask her why she wants a pet that won’t love her back. “But it will, mom. You just don’t like pets and don’t know when they’re loving you back.” OK. I ask her if she’ll take care of it like she (doesn’t) take care of the cat. Like all kids I get the “I promise.” I don’t believe her, of course. And on it goes.
Finally, I cave. I think….how hard can a lizard be to care for? Find a lizard, throw it in a cage, and toss in some lettuce, right? Wrong! Your basic lizard grows to be really, really big. Big as in gross big. Those are the cheap ones. I don’t want a big lizard in a big cage in my house. Ever. And they’re not “cute” says Kate. But what IS cute is a leopard-spotted lizard for the bargain price of $27. They grow to be about six to 10 inches, which is manageable but they need a 10 gallon tank. Not aesthetically pleasing in my home, I think. Oh, and they also need sand, a place to hide, a heat lamp so your $27 purchase doesn’t die the same day you bring it home, a water dish, and vitamin dusting powder for their food.
The “lizard sales guy” is a lizard expert, I gather. He reveals he owns about a dozen or so himself, including an iguana which he walks daily on a leash. It looks like he takes time out of his day from gaming to work a few hours at the pet store, get his discount on lizard supplies, and goes back home to game some more. I am basically his worst nightmare – suburban mom, grossed out by reptiles who at first glance was probably a cheerleader in high school and chewed gum a lot and said “like” like every other word. Yeah, he hated me. But he bonded with Kate. As rattled off various lizard facts, his face lit up….ahhhh, a kindred spirit. They both spoke reptile. As Kate’s little sister Liv bounced through the aisles, dancing to Miley’s “Party in the USA” I realized that I’m in trouble here. Kate has the critter disease I had at her same age—a fascination with something…ANYTHING….to love and care for. And it came about the same time for her as it did for me…a few years post-divorce and at a time when I realized I’m a little different than other girls in my class. While they talked about boys, clothes, who is friends with who and who isn’t, and getting their ears pierced….. I wanted to dive into a new book, write stories, and still play pretend. So does Kate. I don’t know if it’s a part of our personalities or if it’s a product of divorce…maybe both.
As I totaled the price in my mind of what this lizard experience was going to cost, I felt a little faint. This comes at the same time the kids are needing fall clothes. The timing couldn’t be worse. But we had been to the pet store before to look and research. I didn’t let her get the first time out. I made her think about it until finally she just wore me down. She held up her end of the deal with research and putting in $25 of her own money she had saved for it. I needed to hold up my end of the deal.
Then I ask… “Oh yeah, where is the food for the lizard?” I am looking through various cans and don’t see “Lizard Food” anywhere. That’s because there isn’t “Lizard Food.” But there is, however, live crickets. And that’s what we will feed the lizard, twice a week. In addition to commuting two hours a day, getting kids to school, piano lessons, dance lessons, and everything else, I now have to add a trip to the pet store twice a week for live crickets. In my mind, I said the longest string of cuss words imaginable. The lizard sales guy looked pleased with himself….He had defeated the cheerleader.
He might have kicked me but it was paying the bill for these lizard treasures that truly defeated me. We get home, too late on a school night, and start to set up the lizard’s home. The heat lamp scares me. I’m sure that will be what sets the house on fire. The crickets gross me out. And I can already smell that “smell” that only comes with having a living creature in a small room. And then there’s Layla, the lizard. She’s OK I guess. We don’t really hold or touch her, and most of the time she stays in the $9 shade hut I bought for her. She sure makes Kate happy though, at least for the next few days until she gets bored of the novelty of owning a lizard that her mother takes care of for her.
And then I get a lot of “what the hell were you thinking?” “Your daughter has so manipulated you.” “She plays on your guilt.” “You have got to learn to say no to her.” I can respect and agree with all of this. But if you know Kate, then you just know…she’s a sweet, tender-hearted girl who is in a stage of childhood where she just loves pets and wants to care for them. She doesn’t ask for every toy on the shelf, and she certainly doesn’t get them either. She barely knows what an I-pod is and doesn’t really want one. She’s not that into fashion and doesn’t give me fits about clothes or what’s in style. She’d rather have her nose in a book or work on the book that she is writing. She’s starting to collect more journals than I have. She takes dance lessons but only because I make her. She loves her piano lessons, which thrills me. She might want to get back into theatre someday, but not right now she says. She’s counting the days til summer just so she can see the horse she rode during horse camp. She just doesn’t really ask for much. She made straight A’s the last two years in school, and has never been in trouble at school or even at home, really. She’s a good kid. A good daughter. A good sister. A sweet friend.
What does bother Kate and causes her to act out, although mildly, is the fact that her parents are divorced. She hates it. She wants it all pasted back up the way it’s supposed to be. Unless you’ve been through it yourself, you will never know true self-loathing until you are on your closet floor, holding your sobbing daughter as she begs you to reunite with her father. The absolute heartbreak of wiping her tears as she hears the news that her father is getting married and that there is no chance her parents will ever get back together is something that words can’t describe. Moving your daughter out of the only home she really remembers – the place where she felt safe – into a home where she clings to you at night because she’s too scared to sleep alone….it will make you feel like the worst parent on the planet. Yes, she will come to understand why. Yes, she will come to accept. Yes, she will heal. And yes, she will be stronger for all of it. But today, at age 8, she is heartbroken. She is sad. She misses life as she knew it, and I don’t blame her one little bit. The one thing we give children as parents, or at least try to give them, is stability. And I was selfish enough to rip it right out from under her.
So Kate wants a lizard? OK. After all that, it seems like the absolute least I can do, even to see a smile on her face for awhile. If it, even for a few moments, erases the memories like those that occurred on the closet floor, I’ll keep feeding it live crickets and spraying her room down with Febreeze. In the grand scheme of things, it’s just a lizard. But she’s more than just a kid. She’s my daughter. And if she continues falling into my footsteps, it won’t be too long before she’ll stop liking animals so much too. And then I’ll be stuck caring for a forgotten crazy cat, creepy lizard, and whatever else she talks me into. To be continued, I’m sure….