Monday, April 23, 2012

Shame and Solution

It started slowly, a problem here or there. noticed.Startled by this new development, I began looking for ways to hide it from my peers, Then as the shame grew, I cast about for something to blame. Certainly I had to be the one at fault, this couldn't be happening to my friends as well or I would have As the shame grew, so too did my need to pinpoint and alleviate the problem. It was all in vain. The problem continued.

Then in utter frustration I finally called out to some friends, and realized it wasn't just me...The shadow of shame lifted as we discussed our futile attempts to fend off this ever increasing problem. I learned that I was not alone in my fear of leaning against counters, or bulging belt buckles. We had all been battling this with vague ideas that the problem was of our own creation, possibly by opening bottles with our shirts, or over-filling washing machines. The problem however, is not of our making it goes well beyond us.

The problem of the little holes that magically appear in new shirts after wearing them as few times as twice is hounding not just me, but many women in this country. Coming clean helped me to realize this, and has allowed me to move beyond shame into problem solving.

As we discussed the tormenting pinholes, the conversation also led into the alarming, and continually increasing, sheerness of the shirts we are forced to buy because nothing else is available. This in turn brought to mind fabric and sheets eventually halting at the idea of thread counts. People are willing to pay more for better thread counts in sheets, knowing that the product is more durable and will give lasting quality. So too am I willing to pay a few dollars more for a shirt that is not disposable after one or two wearings.

I believe I am not alone in this. We do not want throw-away clothes. We do not want to continuously shop for the same items, and after finding a top we love we do not want to see it ruined after one use. So, I challenge the manufacturers - give us options! Let us know the quality of your products! Label our shirts with thread counts so we can choose for ourselves!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Do I Look Like a Teacher to You?

Students - they're everywhere! Now, don't get me wrong, I love my students. They are quirky, often silly, and surprisingly insightful at times. During an average day, we laugh together usually at me and sometimes I even manage to teach them something. I understand it is my job to model sound morals as well as elements of literature, but during my off hours I want to be me and not role model extraordinaire.

So when I am trooping to the beach with the kids and maybe a beer or two in the cooler, I am glad I live 20 miles from my work. Trust me on this, no teacher wants to run into a student and his parents while wearing a bikini - a fate a dear colleague had to endure over break; or while putting a 12 pack into the cart at the grocery store - different friend same mortification. I hear these stories and sympathize, thankful I have my buffer zone to shield me from such interactions - and allowing me to be just a person at home. But do I?

A few weeks ago a much anticipated movie was released, and after coming to terms with the fact that Teen and Boy were going to ditch me to watch it themselves I made plans with Sister2 to see the show with her on a Saturday afternoon. Upon our early arrival to the theater we were disappointed, but not surprised that the theater was very crowded. I was sitting beside a gregarious young man who was quite disposed to chatting with me as we waited for the film to begin, and for Sister2 to return to her seat. He was asking if I had read the book upon which the movie was based. Of course I had, but this young man hadn't and he was talking about how his teacher had highly recommended it to him. Being a mom, and a reader, I strongly seconded this recommendation. We talked a bit more I said we were early and he asked, "Did a lot of your students read this book?"

Huh?!? I am sitting in a crowded theater in my favorite ripped up jeans and T-shirt. As far as I know there is no sign declaring me a teacher stamped upon my head...I took a moment to respond and he followed-up with, "You are a teacher, right?" I told him I was, the previews began, and I thought to myself there is no buffer. They don't have to be my students - apparently any middle-schooler worth his salt can spot me for a teacher a mile away...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Gut Punched By Reality

I was recently watching a movie with Youngest and the concept of risk/reward was introduced. Youngest being the empath she is stopped the movie to say the girl in the movie should not take care of the dog knowing it will leave one day. "But think of all the great memories she would be missing, memories she can make by taking care of the dog," I told her. "If we don't risk being hurt, people would have no memories." She considered this, watching her eyes I could see the gears turning in her head weighing a life of no memories with one of possible pain. I knew she had reached her conclusion when she said, "And memories are the only things we can keep forever, so that's good." She pressed play and the movie continued, happy ending and all.

After another court date for Baby K, with another continuance, the reality that this will never end (or will possibly end badly) struck me square in the gut. Along with my breath I lost my perspective and positive attitude in one well-placed jab of reality. Throughout lunch I was sullen despite Hubby's best efforts to keep things in perspective and not to take a fatalistic view. I needed to process. So, alternating between melancholy and frustration I withdrew into my thoughts, thankful I was driving my own car and could take the 30 minute drive home to dwell without further upsetting him.

Sadly, no epiphany moment struck jerking me back to my happy medium. Instead it was a culmination of little things. Baby K blowing raspberries a trick she has turned into a language all her own in response to a kiss, A song that played on the muszac while I was picking up a prescription that reminded me my loved ones who have passed are watching over me, the beautiful tree growing in the yard that has been around despite all the puny problems of man, and remembering Youngest and I talking about memories. 

This is real life and there is no guarantee that things will end happily, or even well. But there is a surety that despite whatever outcome the future holds we are building memories that will always be dear to us. And like my thoughtful daughter decided, "memories are the only thing we can keep forever, so that's good."

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Moment in the Sun - Eclipsed

Not being particularly crafty, I was quite pleased with myself for embarking on a new Easter craft Saturday. The kids and I would not just dye eggs, we would go a step beyond and hand blow a few to keep.

As I outlined the process for the kids, using my tablet to reference the site that inspired this idea, Boy said, "Oh, I have those directions somewhere - we need an empty egg for school on Monday." Huh? It is Saturday night and we would be picnicking at the beach most of Sunday...when would this information have broken if I hadn't begun this craft? my best guess is Monday morning Well at least I had Boy bought into the project. He was assigned a girl egg baby, so he got busy dying an uncooked egg in acceptably boyish girl-colors.

Everyone was gathered around the sink to watch the process of draining the egg. I had not only Boy and Youngest completely focused, but also Hubby, who was resigned to my way after I told him he could not drill through the egg to make the hole and the neighbor who happened to be over and decided dying eggs sounded good to him. My moment in the sun so speak.

I have the holes done, and am referencing the directions for the next step, and I notice I am being nudged. Hubby is slowly sneaking into position. He leans in and takes the egg, to "help" with the blowing part. Before I even know what has happened I am behind the crowd gathered at the counter and Hubby is working to drain the egg of its goop!

Completely puzzled I look around at the guys all discussing the best way to empty the egg, laughing at the goop, I see my moment has passed and say, "Great, I have a fun idea and it's stolen."

Youngest hears this and responds, "Oh Mom, they aren't  stealing your idea...they are embracing it."

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Keep a Teen Handy for the Unexpected

If you ever have occasion to be out and child services comes calling because a woman who you are helping refuses to be accountable for her actions and instead calls in malicious complaints about the family who is raising her baby, and I hope you never do, have someone like Teen at home. The great thing about teens at least in this situation is they know they are right. Deep in their bones and everywhere else, they know with an unapologetic certainty what justice entails and are more than willing to lay it on the table.

In this case it presented itself in the form of Teen answering the question of "are you cleared to care for [Baby K]?" with the flippant response of, "I've lived here my whole life, so I would assume I've been cleared." Directly followed by a full description given to the poor investigator (who had the misfortune to be next-up when this blatantly false call was received) of the previous antics of baby-momma encountered by my family in the past 10 months. All done while inspecting the investigator's ID at least that is my sincere hope and showing Baby K's not surprisingly pristine back, arms, legs, face yeah, you get the idea to the investigator.

Now, mind you, I have no problem with Teen's handling of this situation. In fact, I believe she did a stellar job; which was only reinforced when in speaking with the investigator the next day I was told, "Your daughter is amazing with her and the baby is so bonded too. She laid her head right down and rested on your daughter's shoulder."

Who knew that upon taking in a child you should prep your children not to talk to authorities of any kind and to have them say something along the lines of, "My parents aren't here right now. I will call them immediately and until they arrive you may wait on the porch?" I mean honestly. It had never occurred to me that someone could question my child without me being home...

So, yes I was angry. At the situation, not at any one person. I was angry that my children can have their lives disrupted by this nonsense and that while there are 50billion ways the parent's rights are protected, I often feel like we are hanging in the breeze waiting for the next emotional storm to erupt and our reputations and lives to be questioned. I was angry that I had to tell my children that they are not allowed to talk to people of authority unless there is an emergency or we are present. I was angry at the hassle of it all.

Would I ever say, "Enough - take her back?" HELL NO. Who else knows all her cries? Who else can see her scratching the back of her neck and know it means she is overwhelmed and exhausted? Who else can get her to belly laugh from across the room with a well-timed expression or reaction? We are her family. And she is ours.

So we muddle through the bureaucratic BS and hope her life is never touched by the chaos. We give her all of our love and affection while creating a safe harbor of stability in an otherwise hectic world. We parent.

*Note: For those of you concerned, a police officer has contacted me and is looking into pressing charges against baby-momma for false reports. He said he hopes he can make a case the prosecution will take. We shall see...*

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Another One of Those Days

Have you ever had a day when...

a fervent desire to be a stay-at-home mom was your first full thought as you pictured the day ahead?

you leave work early to complete pick-ups from the daycare and the high school in order to bring Teen to her early admissions orientation, only to be forced into the hall because Baby insists on banging her cups together and happily hollering loudly to the room at large?

you are driving home, yearning for nothing more than simply taking off your shoes and you remember the fridge is practically bare - necessitating one more errand before you will reach the harbor of home?

you check your phone and see Boy called and upon returning his call you are forced to cajole him into cleaning the mess the dog left, hoping against hope that he will actually do so before you arrive with a trunk full of groceries?

you arrive home 12 hours after leaving it, to an unloaded dishwasher, causing the cluttered counter as you try to locate areas for all those bags of groceries that now need to be put away?

you realize that not only has Boy cleaned-up the dog mess, he has also made dinner for Youngest, and is now emptying the dishwasher of his own volition, and you realize just how responsible he has become in the last year?

even through your exhausted state, as you watch Youngest reorganize the craft closet simply because it was messy, it dawns on you just how lucky you are to have this messy, errand-causing, amazing, caring thing we simply call family?