The Shit Whisperer

We’ve been busy at Bebe’s for a while now. The current issue at home is poop. I once thought poop was hilarious, because deep down I am a 12-year-old boy when it comes to stinky humor. However I have currently become overrun by it at home and it’s causing me to really lose my mind when all I would really like to lose is my sense of smell.

The boy has been inflicted with chronic constipation since birth. We have tried everything to help him with it, and some days are good. Some are bad. This has developed into Encopresis, which is a behavioral disorder. He holds in his bowel movements as a matter of control, and to avoid pain while going. And this causes more pain when his body eventually makes himself go. And go he does. He might only go every few weeks but when he does, he breaks my toilet. I am not even kidding. We have done diet changes, bribery, rewards, kisses, seriousness, jokes, yelling, and against my better judgement I looked up the patron saint of constipation. He exists. The Catholics think of everything! In between shitting out meteoric sized balls into my now delicate and frightened toilet, his body compensates for waste removal by expelling brown liquid, day in, and day out.

It’s messy. It’s stinky. We have underwear drying out on every railing in our house. I smell like shit every night. I wipe it from remote controls, bath tubs, toys, walls, floors, socks, pants, carpets, beds and shirts. On some days, I get beaten up and scratched trying to get him for a sit on the toilet. I try to calm him down and let him know that I know he is angry and scared, and that’s okay. But hitting your mom or anyone out of anger and fear is never okay. Honestly though, if I didn’t have a fear of raising an abusive man, I would let him hit me all he wanted if it made him feel better. I will just lie and say I am in a roller derby league to explain the scratches. For a family experiencing constipation, we are in the throes of shit.

All of the time.

We do attend psychiatric counseling with the boy, to learn new parenting techniques. To try to understand where his mind is when this happens. To be less frustrated, angry and confused. It’s helped us as a family a great deal. I wish it could cure him but it hasn’t. My husband has learned a bit more about himself and his role as a parent, and even though our Saturday is really busy and sometimes sad, we are chipping away at years worth of issues that needed to be tackled. So hey, that’s good, right? All it took was my kid being in pain, afraid of what should be a hilarious rite of passage for any 4-year-old, and my sudden need to gag whenever I see anything brown, up to and including chocolate. Is nothing sacred, man?

I have questioned why I have been going through this and felt great sympathy for myself. Aggravation, frustration, disgust, and pure anger are also feelings that pop up now and then. It stays with me quite a lot, until I remember a couple of things. My kid is really fucking cool. No, I don’t really need to add the curse word to accentuate how much I love him and how cool he is. But some people deserve the added color. And he does. Aside from his issues, like his possible Aspergers, his SPD, his delays, and his iron strong will, he is healthy to the core. He eats, plays, grows, smiles, laughs, and has no other problems in life, other than future embarrassment of his parents, and with good reason. He is profoundly lucky and in turn, I am profoundly lucky. So many parents with so many more issues, their babies being very sick their whole lives. Or worse, dying. Those parents, they just do what they do. It’s not easy for them. I know that. I really do.

More importantly though, when my son is in pain, or has neurological issues, I just try really hard to know that this is HIS reality more so than mine. I am his mother and it’s MY job to help him through this and be strong, be patient, and be his biggest advocate when doctors blow you off and your best laid plans don’t seem to work. I cannot imagine what it’s like to BE HIM. I would love to learn what makes him tick, and I hope to really tap into that. So I keep working for it. If I have to be knee-deep in shit to learn to stay the course and keep fighting for my kid, then so be it. Jesus H, if you read my posts regularly you will know I just shit my own pants not too long ago. It’s my destiny, people! 

The Shit Whisperer. That’s my roller derby name.

Bebe

 

You Spin Me Round Round Baby Round Round

There is a lot going on in Bebe’s World, everyone. A lot. So much so that you are going to be subjected to about 3 events worth of babble in one post because it’s my blog and I’ll do what I want. I’ve been struggling with this bizarre feeling that I hadn’t really been able to explain before but I finally managed to come up with an apt description. I have fallen off of my axis. I’m not quite spinning out of control across the ether or anything, but I just kind of feel like my gravitational sanity axis is amiss. I know why and how this happened. I am just now trying to figure out how to get it back so I can go on about my crazy ass life. You know I should state that I don’t like country music all that much yet somehow, someway, my life could be turned into a weird country song. I would title it “My Trash is Pearly White”.

So let’s start off with Theo McCancerPants. If you have been following along with my stories you will know that my mentally ill drug addicted brother is suffering from cancer. I went to see him a few weeks ago. We were supposed to attend a family session through his rehab joint to discuss how his decisions have affected our lives. We made it as far as the parking lot of the church it was being held. I knew he would back out at the last-minute and not go in. When we were kids he would mysteriously vanish right before family portraits. Security guards would have to chase him down in hospitals when he was sick with his stomach problems and he would try to escape. I knew when I pulled up and saw him sitting there that we wouldn’t go in. I explained that perhaps this flight philosophy he believes in so much isn’t working for him. It didn’t work though. We sat in the car for a while, and then went for coffee. It was the first time in about 5 years or so and we didn’t miss a beat when we saw each other. Still felt the deep sibling love, and the total inescapable feeling that I am sitting with an alien in my car.

By the way, in case you ever wondered what he looks like, I will go ahead and put it out there that he is from the stereotypical crazy addict school of design. I know that mental illness doesn’t always have the same face, body or spirit. Some look sharp and relatively normal, ala Patrick Bates. Others, like my brother, go the long scruffy beard and layers route. His vague notes of stale smoke and his grandmother’s polish cooking kind of permeate around him as well. I’m kind of shocked he is wearing shoes, as I remember a few years ago he vetoed them full-time, along with car insurance which he didn’t believe was necessary.

Aside from his physical appearance, health wise he looked ok. He tried to tell me his cancer came because of the nuclear disaster in Japan and called it The Simpson’s Theory. I can’t tell if he is serious or joking, so I just look at him sideways and he awkwardly laughed. Historically speaking this means he isn’t sure if he is joking or not either. We drink some coffee, we take a picture together, we hug, and I drop him off around the corner of his house and he walks through the neighbor’s yard. I wouldn’t be surprised if he crawled through the basement window to get in.

I talk to him briefly a few weeks later, and the following day I find out he arrived at court for a date with a judge regarding a prior incident he was involved in. He was supposed to have reported to a rehab facility a while back and didn’t. He is now in jail with a very high bond. I am not surprised or even disappointed. He is, relatively speaking, safe. He is warm. His medical needs are being taken care of. Perhaps he will be there long enough to become lucid enough to try and get it together just a little bit. The saga of Theo McCancerPants is not over though. Stay tuned.

The reason I only talked to Theo ever so briefly was because I was dealing with issues with my mother in law. Some of you may remember her as the culprit who has a brief shout out in Inflatable Metaphors for Life for bringing a Little Caesars Pizza to Thanksgiving dinner one year. She said she needed something to eat with her pills. So she brought an extra-large shitty ass pizza. Makes sense right? Yeah well, the issue with her was that she died. She hurt her back somehow, got stuck in her lazy boy, went to the hospital for 11 days and died. My husband traveled halfway across the country to be with her in the hospital because he just knew she was going to either leave the hospital and go to a nursing home, or leave there dead. This is all sad because it wasn’t necessary for her to die. Also, she was young. Really too young to be so old. I feel badly for my husband and his sister. They are good people, and their relationship with their mother was complicated at best. My relationship with her was almost non-existent. She was a hard woman to respect. I pitied her in many ways. But all I ever saw in her was the negative effect she had on her kids, who are mostly my responsibility. It’s like having 2 teenagers to take care of because their most basic emotional needs weren’t really always met. I have to give it to her though. I have never truly believed one could will themself to die. And she did.

I’m completely afraid of her haunting me. So much so that at the wake, I apologized to her for making so much fun of her to my friends. They all played Mother In Law Bingo at my baby shower. They should be sorry too. In case you were wondering, I created a list of things I knew she would do at my shower, and made a game out of it. In a completely coincidental event, I created a party game based on my life long friend’s equally as annoying mother in law who had her foot amputated. Needless to say, Pin the Foot on Peggy was a secret hit in our minds. We didn’t have the heart to actually play it live for real. Jesus, I’m as asshole. I am prepared for the karma I will receive when the boy marries one day. Fully.

I guess what I am trying to say is, I am certainly sad that she died so young. I am deeply saddened for my husband who is left with a vague memory of good moments with his mom. She is now in whatever better place she imagined herself to be  when her time came. I still can’t look at a Little Caesars without wanting to scream. But somehow the anger seems wasteful and sad now. So I will work on making peace with her, and with crappy pizza.

Last but not least, no post of mine would be complete without the mention of poop. The boy has encopresis, which is a behavioral issue that means he withholds his poops for fear of painful movements, which in turn, cause awful horrible painfully enormous movements. Humans are so silly with their survival instincts. It’s not at all uncommon among kids like him, and it hinders potty training like nothing else. He is on a special diet, stool softeners, extra fiber, the sticker on the potty chart plan, and “let’s kick mom in the face as many times as possible” self-defense plan.

Every night I come home after 12 hours of working to the boy and the dad. The dad tries his absolute hardest to understand that much of the boys poop problems are not within his control right this second, but honestly, dad’s best isn’t good enough. He is a nervous wreck that the constant pants pooping is going to destroy the boys chances of being President, or at the very least, an Elks Club Member. So I have to work on calming them both down. The boy poops a ton now, but the consistency is never typical, and mostly, it’s a mess. He tries to clean it up, but mostly, it gets everywhere. I mean it. Everywhere. Floors, walls, blankets, towels, me, him, pajamas, probably even the ceilings. I am covered in poop every night. Until I figured out that wipes of all kinds burn the living shit out of my son’s ass, literally, I would get kicked in the face. Every night. He wasn’t aiming at me, he just flails around in pain, and I’m just the right height. It’s awful to see my guy go through this. I know it will come together eventually. I know that we have made a lot of improvements. I know that a large part of being a mom is to be prepared for shit your whole life, one way or another. But honestly, it makes getting off the train, getting into my shit free zone car, and pulling into my garage nightly really hard.

Last night, a few hours after I had my axis epiphany and right after a shitty emergency bath, I am reading books with the boy in bed. He is reading his numbers, telling me the story, and gets pissed when I ask him to read the numbers in Spanish. It doesn’t matter to me really, I just like to outwardly acknowledge my kid is bilingual and confident enough to be all “screw you, only one language tonight!” I am not bilingual by the way. He just goes to a really fantastic preschool. I turn off the lights and lay (lie?) down with him for a while. This is a new thing. He usually tells me to leave so he can go to sleep. He has a spot in the bed, we aren’t to fuck with it. But lately, he has been kind of dependent on me and I like it. So help me, I like it. Just please goddess don’t let it get really bad. I’ve been slightly spoiled by a kid who loves to sleep. He whispers to himself that he is going to sleep by mama. He crawls up by me, and spoons with me. He holds my hand and buries his hair into my nose. He is perfectly still. I smell his hair. I pick up subtle scent of menthol from his Johnsons & Johnsons snot clearing bath wash. A slight sprinkling of fabric softener coming off his pajamas. A deep earthy whiff of shit, possibly vintage 2 weeks ago?  A dash of jerk here, a sprinkle of pure angel heaven there. When all of these scents combine I determine that this is what my axis must smell like. It’s within my grasp. Close by. I know it.

Bebe

Now

I do not know where I will go with post. I have a lot going on in my mind and I feel compelled to type until something concrete comes out. As stated in my previous post, my brother has been diagnosed with cancer and it’s put a bit of a crack in our hard-fought for and fiercely maintained foundation that we built. Our family was blasted apart years ago due to alcoholism, abuse, depression, and poor choices. Actually we weren’t blasted apart; we just kind of disintegrated because we weren’t that strong to begin with. Enough of the construction metaphors, though. We are sadly just a typical family.

My husband told me recently that he doesn’t know what to think about my brother and his diagnosis, mostly because he has only known him as a mentally ill prick. Yes, he is mentally ill. And yeah, he is a prick. The two are sometimes related, and sometimes not. Sometimes, someone can just be a prick. I can relate to his feelings. More than once Theo did or said something foul and rude and harsh, often in the middle of a perfectly nice conversation. His triggers are really sneaky and you really just never know what’s going to set him off. I guess my husband heard me sob in the bathroom after talking to him one too many times and put the kibosh on giving a shit about him. I can dig it. So in a display of newly found empathy and surprising articulation, hubby asked me exactly what it is I needed from him from here on out, because he cannot find any emotions regarding the subject. In the past, he would have just acted like a giant brick wall and quite possibly not have noticed had I started on fire. But that was then. His actions with this one request show why we are still married, and why we work when we probably really shouldn’t.

My response to this was that he is to just be there when I react however it is I am going to react when the tough stuff starts to happen. And by tough stuff, I mean making contact with my estranged brother. Namely, speaking with my estranged step-grandmother or seeing my long estranged and very much ex-step-father. He raised me for roughly 20 years, and I never really considered him a step father until it occurred to me that he had let go of any rights to any loyalty from me a long while ago. I made a long and conscientious decision about cutting ties for my own mental health and well-being. It was a good choice that I don’t regret. Next to being in that circle of people again, my brother dying is secondary to my fears. I say that only because I know my strengths, and I have been with two different loved ones while they died, and while I am not a stranger to the harsh realities and emotions that come with this, I know I am equipped with a weird and uncanny measure of accepting what is in front of me and knowing that death is a part of life, and being there when that happens is a rare and profound gift.

The next thing I told my husband I need is to be in charge of the boy, who will have nothing to do with this process. He has no clue who these people are, and he won’t have to. He has two fully functional sets of grandparents; my mom and her wonderful husband and my dad and his incredible wife. In the process of cutting ties and figuring out my life, I found a whole different level of relationship with my biological father and we have worked our way to dad and daughter. My kid can be in the same room with his grandparents, all of them, and enjoy life. Something I didn’t have the pleasure of experiencing.

On the flip side to this really positive interaction between hubby and me, I also warned him that if he felt like saying something dumb, or felt like looking at me like I was a fool, he needed to remember the following: the word of the day, month, and year is compassion. And I have it in spades, by nature, nurture and sheer force of will. While I did segregate myself from my family members, I didn’t stop loving them in a certain way. I didn’t stop thinking about how they wasted every chance they got in life to be better people, and it didn’t escape me that in doing what was right and continuing to love these people and hope the best for them, that my immediate family will benefit. I helped to raise my brother from the time he was born until the day I left home. He has known only small amounts of joy in his life. He is dying. And if hubby were dying, and had all sorts of baggage (which, he does) I would hope and pray that his sister stood by him no matter what. I told him to know that the reason why we are always such fucked up humans is because very few know how to be compassionate, or just don’t want to be. Rightfully so for some people. I am not here to judge other people’s emotions. The reason why I called my family typical is because the pain never stops and the compassion never overcomes and it goes on and on and on. I don’t know one family who doesn’t have some kind of family dynamic that never changed because no one thought to change it, or heal it, or lay it to rest, or whatever healthy verb that needed to happen to set it right. No one taught anyone in that family what was acceptable, what was right, and what was healthy. My mom slowed that cycle down by leaving and working hard on a new life. Now it’s my turn to slow it down a little more. Maybe even stop it.  

I asked him if he understood what the ramifications would be for our son, and for him, and for me, if I chose to not care about my brother, ignore his suffering, and not work with the people who scare me the most throughout this unfolding drama. How would I handle that? What regrets would I have? I am already beginning to mourn the loss of a big part of my mom’s spirit during all of this. She will never be the same, and I need to accept that. Would my son see me crying for hours on end on some random Sunday three years from now? Will he look into my eyes one day and think to himself that there is something wrong with mom? Will he say she has never been the same and I don’t know why? No. Don’t misunderstand, I don’t intend on sheltering him from the realities of the world, and emotions that he will need to have and learn to process. Lord knows I can list right off the top of my head the various things about me he might find himself being embarrassed by, annoyed at, or struggle with. But none of that will be something I carried over with me from my old life. Not if I can help it.

That sounds so loaded and so sanctimonious and I truly do not mean it to be. I am not trying to be a martyr or a saint, and I am not going to turn the other cheek when things start to get hairy, which I know they will. But I am a different person now than I was all of those years ago. I see them differently. I see myself differently. No one is allowed to mistreat me or speak ill of anyone I love, whether it be from Sickly McCancerpants, Chief Drinks Continuously or Old Spirit from Enables-Alot. I will state my business and do my job as a sister, a human being, and someone who to bring love, peace, and fond memories with him to where he goes.

I called him a few days ago and he was asleep. He called me right back though, and we spoke for about an hour. He immediately professed his love to me, how much he misses me, and what life has been like for him without me. I ditto all of that and more, but I also winced every time he opened his mouth, because I was waiting for the trigger to go off. It didn’t. We ended the conversation with the hope that we could slowly talk and piece ourselves together. Prognosis, timelines, angst, and kin were not mentioned. With the exception of how dumb the spelling of my nephew’s name is. I couldn’t argue with that one. I don’t know what my sister was thinking.

I think that from here on out my portion of The Bucket is going to be primarily about this cancer business and how it affects my already fractured, fragile yet resilient ridiculous family. It will be about the various ways I choose to react to what is put before me, because that’s the only thing I can control. My reactions. Theo’s prognosis right now is fairly decent, but not permanent, as nothing is, and while he isn’t at death’s door at the moment, the path seems to be paving itself. Of course this time should be spent praying for miracles and tracking down Dr. Greg House to save the day. Of course I would rather I work on finding a cure and imagining my brother alive and well in twenty years. But it’s not twenty years from now. It’s now.

Bebe

Dear Theo, Letter Two

I posted something deeply personal to my dearest brother a while back https://thecrabbucket.wordpress.com/2011/03/15/dear-theo/ and left it to the air in prayed for healing and resolution. Last week I walked into a cathedral during my lunch break to sit and meditate. To reflect on my issues of the week, to feel closer to the center of everything in my life, and to be calm. As I walked out, I noticed for the first time that there was an open book in the corner with a pen next to it. I went to see what it was and it was the prayer requests for the Sunday mass. Without much thought, as if on autopilot, I wrote Theo’s name down. I never stop thinking about him, and while I know he isn’t of sound mind to appreciate others praying and putting out positive love for a complete stranger, I know I would.

I found out yesterday that he is suffering from pancreatic cancer and it’s not looking good. Actually, I was informed a few days earlier that he had cancer through the grapevine that I typically try to ignore. I didn’t believe it. I discussed it with other siblings, and they didn’t either. We had no doubt he was probably ill. He has been ill his whole life. Stomach problems, arthritis problems, mystery illnesses, asthma, basically everything. Looking back now, I feel like Theo’s whole existence was akin to when foreign matter enters your body and your immune system won’t accept it and tries to destroy it. He is the foreign matter and life is the immune system. The fact that he is now dying of cancer only makes it far more literal.

My siblings and I held a quick meeting about the validity of this claim and I decided that our mother, who made the difficult decision a long time ago to cut Theo out of her life until he could get better, should know about this. She would clarify this with one phone call and we would do what we could from there on out. And it was true. She is understandably beside herself with confusion, fear, sadness, regret, and insurmountable motherly love, and has nowhere to place it. He most likely will not agree to see her or spend time with her, or any of us. My hope is that his physical sickness puts to rest his mental sickness if not only for a moment, so that he will allow his mother to do what she does best. Love. Nurture. Nurse. Make everything ok.

As for me, I still only picture him as a small child and I feel helpless and sad for all involved. I’ve allowed myself to think that when he dies, he will finally be at peace. It’s not something that I will broadcast to my immediate family. I think that they probably feel the same way.

As someone with a strong viewpoint and belief that lessons are to be learned from everything and that death is all part of the whole river of life, I have already seen some good come out of this. Within the one phone call my mom made to her ex-mother in law, kind words were spoken between two women who had a very complicated relationship. The words “I never once doubted you loved all of your children” was said with the same voice that defended her abusive son. The same woman who very clearly stated that “perhaps if more meat and potatoes were on the table, my boy wouldn’t be so angry with you.” As this process takes its course, the only line of communication will most likely be between these two women. One that picked up the pieces of her life and created a brilliant new one, and the other too old to change now and in a weird prison of her own. One that wants desperately to nurse her son; the other who will be doing the nursing. I don’t know if that balance is harmonious, or even fair, but it’s balance. And hearing her say those words brought a lot of closure for my mom.

I do not know what happens next. I do not know what else to think. I will keep writing my brother’s name down in that book and I will keep meditating and carrying Theo on my hip.

Bebe

 

No Fear of the Water Logged.

I had a good parenting experience this weekend. It was one of those moments in parenting where you find yourself thinking “Holy shit, I might have some parenting skills after all!” It was one of those moments where everything I do wrong or half assed could possibly be eclipsed for a few minutes in his future therapy sessions when the boy’s therapist asks him to recall positive mom moments that couldn’t have possibly have contributed to his current issues. It’ one of a few things I really hope he remembers, above and beyond what I can only hope would be a lifetime of lessons and embarrassments from the likes of me.

I went tubing on a lake. Simple enough, yes. But let me break down a little bit my feelings on water and my place in it in general.

I have never been particularly keen about water. As a child I knew swimming in a pool on a hot summers day was a lot of fun, and I spent summers near a big lovely lake in Wisconsin where I would paddle boat, fish, and jump off of piers into the unknown. It was just a way of life and something I did, and I am sure I had fun. But over time I began to realize that I didn’t like it much. I didn’t like pools that much because I just kept thinking of them as crowded toilets. I hated water in my ears or in my nose. I hated the feeling I would get when I felt like I was being consumed by all of that water, or the highly ridiculous and farfetched idea that some criminal mastermind was going to cover the top of the pool with a heavy piece of Plexiglas and I would die there. I hated the feeling of walking around wet and touching things while wet. To this day I have to go to bed with my hair bone dry. I hate seeing wet towels anywhere near fabrics or on beds, and there is this scene from Will & Grace where Grace breaks up with Woody Harrelson and goes right from the shower dripping wet into bed under the covers. If I could surgically remove that scene from my head and replace it with visions of dogs pooping day in and day out, I would.

Lakes were no different, though my stance on lake swimming was a bit more nature-conservation based from a very young age. I stopped fishing once I hit a certain age, not from an animal rights point of view or affectionate feelings towards worms or fish, I just felt like it was sort of an unfair advantage on humanities part. There was an entire civilization of creatures under those waves, out of sight, minding their business, and here are all of these people teasing them with worms, catching them, killing them, or even worse, throwing them back. I felt it was such an invasion of privacy, if that makes sense. I hated that boats and jet skis dumped pollution into the lakes too. They are out of our sight, so I feel that they should be out of our minds too. And don’t get me started on sharks, and my completely absurd fear of them in any kind of water, salt, chlorinated, lakes, puddles, dunk tanks, etc. Interesting side note: I found out my grandfather never took actual baths in his lifetime because of the same fear, and my cousin also harbors the same stupid issue as well. Come to think of it, this is the same grandpa who threw us into deep water as children to teach us how to swim. Maybe he is to blame. I will jot that down later for therapy purposes. Back to the subject at hand here.

We spent the weekend with family at their lake house, and went for a ride on their pontoon boat. It was really quite lovely and I have to say very relaxing for what it is. I appreciate things as they are and I am not personally offended by much. Just because I wouldn’t do that type of thing every day doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the beauty of it overall. I want to enjoy everything life has to offer me, and this weekend, it offered me family time on a lake. It also offered me going tubing. Yikes.

The boy is developing a fear of water and not being able to touch the ground when we are in a pool. He fell off some pool stairs at a party and took in a lot of water and now is visibly nervous and shaky at the thought of being near water. I hate seeing that. After his initial fall, I held him for a while, put a life jacket on him and took him to the deeper part of the pool so I can just hold him and let him float and learn to trust me. It wasn’t my favorite thing to do, but I owed it to him to not run out of the pool and never climb back in. I gave him a few minutes and then we got out of the pool. It’s been shaky ever since but I don’t regret that decision. The tubing, I felt, could be a great example for me to show him that you don’t always have to like something, but you should never be afraid of it. As part of my life appreciation project, I decided to kill two birds (or fish) with one stone (or one chunky girl in a seal black swimsuit) and teach both myself and my kid a lesson.

I got on the tube.

I don’t have a lengthy description of what this was like for me. I got on, I got knocked around, I laughed, I put my head down, and I peed myself a little bit, but honestly, I probably would have done that anyway. I heard the boy yelling “hi mommy!” for about 3 minutes until he got bored and went about doing other things. My shoulders felt like they were going to fall off, and I just spent the rest of it killing time until we came to a stop. Silly me, I thought we were done. They took off again, and the tube went underneath the water, the water went up my nose, down my throat and over my head. The rope connected to the vessel of doom wrapped around my ankle, and I panicked. In my mind, the fish were pissed I invaded their privacy, sharks were hungry and found lake life boring, and perhaps this whole zest for life thing was just a precursor to me dying out in the middle of a stupid lake. I made my way out and uttered a string of obscenities at my cousin, who only replied “she’s done, let’s reel her in” and they got a picture of my face as I was cursing up a storm. I looked like a beauty queen while in labor compared to that picture. But I kept a smile on my face, kept staring at my son, and climbed up and gave him a hug. I told him that water can be fun too. He was thrilled. I was feeling accomplished, for the both of us. I won’t do it again though.

We went to the nearby beach and the boy promptly ran from the beach into the water and jumped. No bickering about sand or weeds, no nervous tension other than walking on the rickety pier, and no tears. He was having a blast and didn’t want to leave. He even proclaimed to have found a chunk of ham on shore. I was initially completely afraid of both real ham on the beach, or whatever it is that looks like ham on the beach. It was giant chunk of driftwood, thanks be to Ariel. When we left he just kept singing “the beach is closed, the beach is closed” and “I love hot dogs”. Just as it should be for a 4-year-old, right?

I touched on this when I wrote Inflatable Metaphors for Life as well. I really have no clue what I am doing a lot of the time with him. But sometimes, big lessons do happen along and I am so grateful to know them when I see them, even if that means him having the memory of his mom looking like a manatee on a tube on a warm summer’s day.  

He may not like water as he grows up, but he sure as hell will no longer be afraid of it.

-Bebe

And Thank You!

Today is a post of happiness and pleasantries. For the first time in I don’t know how long, it’s not putrid and humid or morbidly sultry out. It’s warm, sunny and breezy. My legs aren’t sweating to high heaven and I don’t have a raging case of road rash on my thighs. This is big, people. You would think I got tossed from moving vehicles ala Fall Guy with all of the heat discomfort I get, which is embarrassing considering I work in a luxurious office all day.

I took a walk for lunch and stopped at the local farmers market. White tents everywhere, bright flowers in buckets on the pavement, a terrible live band playing on the stage. The sounds of the fountain in the center of the plaza, ethnic food stands celebrating this week’s contribution to our melting pot. Fruits, vegetables, breads, and even scary ass live bees at the honey stands mix in with the earthy scent of all of the fresh herbs. Honestly, it’s my absolute favorite place to be in the city from summer to fall. I don’t leave there with a trendy reusable bag full of strategically placed baguette and bundles of bright flowers like the polished women do in every movie I have ever watched, but I do get honey for the boy and berries for myself and just kind of feel part of it all when I am there.

On to the cheese portion of the market. More importantly, those who sell the cheese. I always walk to the Amish stand that sells bakery goods and cheese, for I love the Amish so. Especially the men. No, they don’t always look conventionally handsome and it does appear that they in fact, really do not use any electricity at all. But I will keep this short. They aren’t preoccupied with all of the filler and garbage in life. They build the communities they live in, the furniture they sit in, and they grow righteous beards when they marry in lieu of wedding rings. All of this and cheese too? Sisters, please. Judge all you want, but it makes me want to give it all up and build a cabin somewhere and render my own lard.

The snooty French crepe guy sweats his ass off making sweet and savory crepes for us, all with a look of sheer disdain for the portly Americans waiting in line for his goods. He seems actually annoyed that we patronized his business. I think he just wanted to stand there, be French, and let us all know that he makes crepes that we don’t deserve. But it’s hot, and he wears sexy t-shirts, and I can’t judge him because this post is about pleasantries. Besides he once made me a wickedly delicious fresh blueberry, lemon and goat cheese crepe. To that I say Merci!

I stop over at the fancy natural soap stand, hoping to find fancy, natural women working there. But instead I find a hipster. I ask if any of their fancy natural soaps are suitable for washing my hair with, because my hair is a mess. He says “sure! I do!” and I look at his hipster mop and could feel the grime itching my scalp as we spoke. So no. However, olive oil soap that smells like basil and lemons really should have its place in society. It also doubles as emergency pesto. Thanks, hipster!

I stroll over to buy some giant sunflowers for the older ladies I work with because it just seems like that kind of a fucking day, you know? The flower lady is all sunshine and smiles and acts like anyone would if they were peddling petals all day. By this time, you should just picture me skipping through the crowd, blue birds flying around my shoulders, cellulite free, no debt, and no need to ever wax my mustache again because it mysteriously vanished. Because that’s how I felt. It’s how I genuinely really felt. Moments like this are seriously worth remembering and sharing. To know they exist and will exist again the next time I am feeling like I ate dirty sand for dinner and then had no toilet paper afterward.

I grabbed a delicious cold leek quiche on the go from a pastry stand and ate it on the way back to the office. It was absolutely divine. I walked past a church and made a last-minute call to drop in, say thank you and leave. Regardless of what my thoughts are on religion or God or Buddha or Goddesses or The Golden Girls, someone or something deserved some props for this day. I came back to my office, distributed my sunflowers to the ladies, grabbed a glass of water and then welcomed a visit from my boss who stopped by to show me plans for the new space where I will be Grand Poobah. Honestly, what a soul-sustainer of a day, dudes.

I have some theories on good moments and  the people who worry about the other shoe dropping so much so that the moment is no longer good. It’s two-fold. The first part is that when you wear ill-fitting shoes, the shoe will drop. Just like when you are living in a manner that isn’t you, or when you are making the wrong decisions, or compromising things you shouldn’t. Of course it will drop. The second part is that if you just take the shoes off and skip through the farmers market, you have no shoes to worry about. Only flowers, Amish men and their cheese, and the sounds of the fountain in the center of the plaza. Pleasantries. See?

Bebe

Turns Out I Won’t Swing.

Previously on Bebe’s Planet:

If you dared to read my post Down in the Dumps you obviously shared in my bizarre revelation and epiphany about where I was in life, and how the bountiful bowel movement changed the course of my life. God I cannot believe I can truthfully type those words. Or you know, I guess I can believe it.

I have been in hiding for many many months. I was on the verge of a very serious breakdown. I had just broken apart. My body broke down and my mind melted. If you are a regular reader of The Crab Bucket I am sure you noticed a pattern in my writing as it became more and more like a personal journal, and less and less like a fun blog about crazy mother stories and weird son anecdotes. I wrote sporadically because the words just got a bit deeper and deeper and I backed away because I felt I didn’t have much to say anymore, and I certainly didn’t think you would want to read my diary.

My company had turned to shreds, long profound friendships and relationship that bloomed in our unique office became fractured because the family had been forced apart. It was a systematic and needless breakdown of something that was very important to all of us. It broke my heart. After years of joking about the man, the man really did flex his muscles and punch me in the gut. My work, and my work friendships (which have since just become friendships, no adjective needed) provided me with a home away from home. I laughed, I talked, and I took pride in everything I did. It was a shelter. And it was gone.

My home life was strained. We only have one income, which only put my work issues on volume 11. We have a learning disabled son and my husband is still recovering from spinal surgery. It’s been the hardest 5 years of my life, and I have had a lot of hard years. I had become bitter, sad, and angry. I cried at everything, eye contact was almost impossible for me, and I hurt every day. My neck and shoulders felt like I was literally balancing a picnic bench on my shoulders, all day and every day. I found no joy in my home life, and I no longer wanted to be any kind of caretaker for my family. I was done. I sat in my bathroom and stared at the shower curtain wondering if it would hold me. If you know me, you know it wouldn’t. I laughed. Even then, I was able to laugh at myself because that was just so absurd. But when I walked into my garage to get something to drink, I looked up and saw the rafters. Suddenly, my absurd thought wasn’t so absurd anymore. It was quite doable. When that became a viable option for me, I knew it was time to seek some help. So I did.

I made an appointment with my husband’s doctor and as soon as he asked me what was wrong, I just mumbled that I couldn’t take much more stress and I needed to function again. I cried a little, and he was really good about it. He wasn’t convinced my neck and shoulder pain was emotionally based though, so he took x-rays and he was right. I have bone spurs and neck straightening. That is where most people have a natural curve in their neck, where mine is straight and rigid. Having this my entire life, I had no idea that it wasn’t normal. When he tried to get my neck to move, it wouldn’t. It wouldn’t crack, it wouldn’t stretch, and it wouldn’t budge.

He made me promise to commit to working hard to make myself better, and he put me back on medication for insulin resistance that I gave up taking ages ago because I gave up on myself. He prescribed a very low dose of an antidepressant just to help me up and out of this hole I was in. I didn’t want to not feel what I was feeling, but I didn’t want to sob my way through talking myself out of hanging in our shitty garage. That is not a stylish way to kick it. He signed me up for six weeks of physical therapy for my neck, and told me that he would hire me in a second if he could. I walked out of there hopeful.

Physical therapy was a dream come true. Three days a week of deep tissue massage, stretching, and electro-heat therapy for a month and a half? Uh…yeah. After a few days of that, I was driving and turned my neck all the way to the side for probably the first time in my life. It was unreal. Every day got a bit better. I was able to wake up in the morning. I was able to stop crying, but not at legitimately sad things on television, which is what I wanted. I wanted to work through this, not fly over it.

I made the decision to look for another job. It was time. I realized that if I was going to make improvements in my life, I had to go all of the way. I wasn’t going to let them eventually push me out, and I wasn’t going to walk into the office every day and circumvent all of the bullshit and navigate around douche bags if I could help it. I found an opening at a highly respectable place with a brilliant reputation. Someone I had known professionally for almost a decade through my current position worked there. I took a deep breath and emailed him and asked his advice. He told me that after 8 or so years of me helping him, it was his turn to help me. He submitted my resume, and after many hoops, I was hired. It’s the work I love doing, in a place that wants me to be happy and healthy. Yeah, it’s still the man, but he is polite and well mannered, and instead of being beaten over the head, it’s a long slow massage. I will take it. I will make more money, have better benefits, and work in a calm atmosphere. In this day and age, to say I am lucky is an understatement. This gentleman stuck his neck out for me based on all of those years at a job that I loved and had to give up. That makes it all worth it, and that is probably one of the proudest accomplishments in my life.

I said goodbye to coworkers and we had a big party. They miss me and I miss them. I was thinking that some sad moments in life are some of the happiest. When you have the problem of people loving you so much that they are sad to see you go, it’s really not a bad thing to be sad about. It’s a bittersweet joy in life that I don’t think people realize. When I think that way, I know that my meds must be working. But maybe not, because I have always been a fruity eccentric Oracle Delphi. I buried my guinea pig in my yard when I was 10 years old and had to comfort the neighbor kids. I just knew Herbie was in a good place. What I didn’t know was that burying him in sand on a dirt bike trail probably wasn’t the greatest idea. Give a girl a break. You can have inner peace at 10 years old but you aren’t an earth scientist.

When all of this came together, I lost 15 pounds. I caught on at the new job and people are getting to know me. My husband and I are working hard together to keep our family afloat and focusing on getting through each day and respecting the basics in life. A roof over our head, an education for our son, and food on our table. Lots of laughter at ourselves, and a fight or two when we need one. Things are looking up for us in a few different ways and we are slowly planning a party at the right time to celebrate our life as it is, and surviving 10 years of marriage. We want to renew our vows, and show our family and most importantly our boys that we can do this, even when it seems like we can’t. It’s fun to have something to look forward to and plan.

Every night without fail I take my medicine, still the same dosages, still with the hope of staying functional without pickling myself. I think the changes have affected the whole house. The Mr. and the boy went away for a week to visit family and left me alone. And I was lonely. I don’t think I was ever really lonely before. I know, a working mom with a chance to be alone is a miracle. And it is, and on behalf of all of my other working moms out there, I respected it as such. But I felt the absence of the very thing that I wanted to run away from. No, I stand corrected. I wanted to cease to exist, and free them of me, and me of them. This time around, I just wanted them near me. It was such a relief. When they did come home, my son, who is never really affectionate, wouldn’t stop kissing and hugging me, and hasn’t stopped since. We make a game out of it. Whatever clicked in his little mind regarding me was a welcome change. He was able to determine that I was gone, and he knew he wanted me back. With most kids that’s a given. With a child like the boy, it’s a gift. Actually it’s a gift for any parent. But for me, it was and is by far the most thrilling thing I have felt in a long while.

I was snapped out of this funk by the fact that I shit my pants and laughed my way out of a coma. It carried on because the shower rod was too flimsy to hold me when I thought about swinging from it in a moment of desperation. I obviously don’t need the shower rod anymore although I guess technically the thinner I get the easier it would be. How ironic. I am not going to lie, I am petrified of sneezing now and constantly think I am going to shit myself all of the time. It’s the equivalent of that fear of falling asleep we all had in the 80’s after watching Nightmare on Elm Street the first time. I think that I might need therapy for it one day. That’s okay though. It’s a healthy fear that I can definitely live with.

-Bebe

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