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

Pleasantly Surprised

There have been many surprises in the last 2 years.  I didn’t expect, on top of everything else going on, that one area of my life I’d need to deal with was the magnifying glass that was put on my relationships with family, friends and even my job.  A year later I’m incredibly grateful that this magnifying glass exists.

I don’t know that any one relationship completely changed with my divorce, etc. but more like I was put in a place to really see how those relationships were all along.  How they affected me when I was my most raw.  When you get to the bottom of the “crab bucket” ahem, you are smacked in the face with every single little issue if you open yourself up to that level of sensitivity.  I admit, it’s painful as hell but I highly recommend it.  Like labor & childbirth, it fucking hurts but the result is life-changing.  No one ever says “Yea, fuck that.  I started to go through labor and just said it isn’t worth it so I stopped pushing.  My kid is still in there, but who cares.”

I eventually welcomed that rawness because on some level I was tired.  Tired of being half of me.  Once I let go, I saw this great opportunity to just get it worked out.  Have my best life.  When you get to the bottom you’re only destination is up if you choose.  Starting over was my theme and still is.  I think this is what ultimately saved me.  This choice of directions and the way I decided to go.

Being raw certainly isn’t easy and I did my part at times to put back on that thick coat to survive the hurt.  I’m not proud of putting on that coat, I admit.  I know now that rawness is a healing pain.   It’s almost as if your skin is peeled off and all you have are your nerves, bare and feeling every single emotion: hurt, joy, even a gust of wind, a kiss, a hug feels intense on a level not previously known.  As you grow back your new skin, your new life, it dulls but I believe, and I’m GRATEFUL, I was changed by that time of rawness.

It’s Halloween, indulge me in some disgusting visuals. 

Those I thought would support me didn’t always.  Those that I didn’t know were able to came to my aid in ways that still ripple though my daily life.  I formed close relationships with people that are healthy and I am thankful every single day.  Other relationships I thought were originally close are now set with healthy boundaries around the areas I need.  The biggest piece to all of this that I learned, and even about myself, people give to you what they can through their own filter.  No one I’ve met can give you everything of what you need.  Not a spouse, friend, child, etc. nor should they be expected to.  You cannot and will never be able to offer the same to them.  I think I’m slowly learning that you have to give it to yourself first.

 You can only control yourself and you can only provide everything you need to yourself.  I’m starting to believe that if you care about yourself first, you end up surrounded by people that fill in the spaces in a very good way.

 The harshest reality that brought me to this ultimately positive conclusion was that my family wasn’t my rock.  My family and the way we act, including my ex-husband, was not helpful or loving or supportive.  That vicious “I’m just joking” follow-up after biting responses to one up each other constantly, the resentment disguised as sarcasm would just build and build all in the guise of jealousy and hurt we each were feeling personally.  Maybe not even hurt towards the person we were “kidding” with, but it was put on each other in handfuls.

 I know now it’s disgusting and I don’t want to do it any longer.  It masks resentment and it’s hurtful.  I can’t stop those I love from doing this, however, all I can control is me.  I’m hopeful if I ask for an apology for every single bit of unhelpful “joking” someone will get the hint eventually and direct it elsewhere.  Regardless if they say a real “I’m sorry” or not.  I will still ask.  I hope my daughter will see this and never have to reach 33 years of age before she stands up for herself.  The important change in me is I will do my god-damndest not to have to ever apologize for being this hurtful to someone else again either.

 As my very wise friend L says: “You get back what you put out there.”  Surprise, surprise.

 I’ve tried to be in the habit lately of being thankful whenever possible.  Even if I am unsure of the reaction, I’m trying to put it out there that I am so grateful for my life, even the bad bits.  So I recently started a love letter to give to my boyfriend one day, possibly Christmas.  I got 2 sentences in and realized I should be writing this to myself first.  It applies to him, it applies to some of my friends, including BeBe, but ultimately it needs to be said to me first.  Afterwards I’ll start a new letter to him, to all of them.

 “ You get back what you put out there.  You get back what you put out there.”  I hear you loud and clear, L.  For the first time, the surprise now is this letter is very easy to write to myself and actually believe.   

 We’re all going to be okay, folks.  We really are.  Just choose to be.

Dear Self,

You are important to me.  You make me feel at peace even when everything around me is in turmoil.  You center me and keep me grounded and focused.  You make me feel loved and known.   I am thankful for you in ways I will never be able to fully articulate, but I will spend my our time together trying.

Xoxo,

-LuLu

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

Strollers at the Zoo

It’s been a hell of a life lately. The boy has been busting his ass in therapy and it paid off; he is now officially almost 3 years old, literally and figuratively. No more delays. Still a lot of quirks and a sprinkle of jackass here and a dash of OCD there. But overall, his therapists, teachers, and parents couldn’t be more proud of his stunning success.

The husband is now officially an extern for 4 months at a lovely hospital. He bust his ass at school and made it. Now he has a real job, sort of. We just have to make it to February, and he is done. An accomplishment that I couldn’t describe to you in any language, on any blog, on any planet. Too big.

Now, that leaves me. Yeah. Well, I was up to my ears in diarrhea today, since the boy had been on some strong antibiotics and insisted on eating more than his share of fried onions. You know, the kind you put on that gross green bean casserole? I coughed so hard this morning I peed myself. My eyebrows are now very similar in shape and form to Larry King’s. Only I don’t have a desk and microphone to hide them behind. I had a dinner today that consisted of a lot of bacon and red meat. My job and firm have both positioned themselves beautifully in between the 6th and 7th level of hell, and I have acne behind my ears. I suppose that I could be grateful that I don’t have it on my face, but they hurt. Obviously you can tell by now I am in the mood for some self-reflection.

It’s October here in the midwest, and all signs point to family togetherness, pumpkin farms, carving, and moms in nice jeans and boots wearing crisp shirts with fashionable scarves, holding their equally fashionable child in one hand while lovingly embracing a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte in the other. They have already taken their wonderful fall family pictures, and their homes are filled with Febreze Fall Amish Acorn Apple Pie Cashmere Scented Decorative Shades and they used all of their coupons at Michael’s Crafts to construct an aerodynamically politically correct black widow spider to sit on their porch with their whimsical jack o’ lanterns. In the meantime, I just tossed the last of last Christmas’ candle because it got too dusty and I am fairly certain there is a real spider living in the boy’s play kitchen. Hell, I can’t keep my own kitchen clean, now I have two to clean? And one of them doesn’t even have real running water? And besides, these festivities of which I speak aren’t really ever a success for me and the family anyway. Why you ask?

My husband is kind of tightly wound. He just as well would not go anywhere if he doesn’t know what’s in store. He himmed and hawwed for a good two weeks when I said I wanted to take the boy the zoo. Knowing him as I do, I finally got the bottom of his hesitance. He was worried about the stroller. He didn’t know if there was a spot to put your stroller when you went indoors, so he just plain ol’ thinks we shouldn’t go. Yes. That is what I chose, quite deliberately, to marry into. And trust me, every second of my life with him is pretty much exactly the same. I will go anywhere, do anything and try it all. But this is the life I chose, and part of the special nature of my relationship and marriage is seeing his eyes kind of light up when he ends up having fun doing something he is forced to do. Example: he was petrified, and I mean petrified to go to Mexico with me; until that is, he realized he could have two plates of food and all of the beers he wanted because it was all-inclusive and the trip was paid off months before. Now he wants to live there.

However, one doesn’t realize how complacent one becomes until that very personality that you have become accustomed to gets handed down genetically to your offspring. Which leads me to the boy. He looks like me through and through. But he is very much his father’s child. Actually, given all of his issues and delays, it kind of leads me to think his father had his own undiagnosed and ignored issues as a youngster himself. In fact, I know it now. The boy isn’t a sheer joy to take anywhere. I mean, he isn’t a hunchback or anything. He doesn’t wreck the place like a crackhead. But it took a long time before we could figure out where we could take him, and which one of his quirks would wreak havoc on our time out. Just when he became socially pleasant to be around and we dropped our guard….it happened.

He became his father.

He is picky about where we go. He flat-out refuses to try certain things. A simple day out doing something fun, and productive, and “normal” becomes an earth shattering disappointment. There are tears, and tantrums, and regret that we even stepped out of the house. And that is just from my husband. Ha. But really. I get angry and disappointed because he isn’t laughing and running and enjoying himself like all of the other kids. And my husband is saying “we shoulda…(insert plan B) or we shouldn’t have (insert leave the house here.) And all that is left is me. Mad at a 2.5 year old because he can’t enjoy himself, and mad at his dad for being who he is, and mad at myself for not thinking about the power of genetics when I allowed myself to fall in love with a roughneck at a biker bar 14 or so years ago.

Mostly, this is about my expectations and how they are just too high at the moment. I have socially awkward people who need my love and sense of humor. Because that really is the only thing that I have going for me right this second. And I don’t want the boy to grow up with that kind of anvil in his gut. Something inside of him stopping him from doing things because his brain can’t sort out what the outcome will be. The good news is that the husband doesn’t want him to turn out like him either. See? He recognizes. That’s all that I can ask for in life.

As for me. I need to figure out what I can do on my own. For myself. I need to figure out where I can find my own sense of who I really am on the inside. I need the cash to get my brows done. These two socially inept nut jobs need me. And besides, the boy didn’t totally become his dad. He memorizes music like no ones business. He fixates on certain cool songs and his face is full of sheer enjoyment and thought when he sees someone singing something he likes. He is also pretty hilarious. He has a bit of my genes too. And I shouldn’t let you think I am perfect either. This kid has a huge chance of becoming kind of a slut, a little crazy, a drunk, or a Republican. Yes, we have a little bit of everything on my side.

Mostly though, I just want him to be his own set of genes. Make his own decisions about what he likes and how he lives. I don’t want him to be a slave to his genes, or his environment. I want him to breathe deeply, smile, and not worry about strollers at the zoo.

Bebe

This Furniture Made Possible by the Family Tree

I am due to inherit some furniture from my grandmother. She is still alive and still very young for having a large family and great-grandchildren. She has early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease and has Parkinson’s Disease. She simply cannot live alone anymore. She has always given her most precious stuff away through the years, even in the best of health. She found it creepy to imagine fights between people for stuff after she dies. It was a sound plan, and we all appreciated her gifts and I believe it made us respect living and dying more than if she had waited until she was gone.

My family is probably no different than a lot of families. But they are certainly different. We are huge, for one thing. And very segragated. The siblings are, at least. The 2nd generation, the cousins, are not. We are a pretty tight unit, despite our parent’s weirdness. I am grateful.

My grandfather was an incredibly loving and accepting man for his time. Had no notions of what was or wasn’t appropriate, knew right from wrong (and did both, alot) and loved his children, until the disease of depression kicked in and took that all away from him. He once removed a door to a bathroom that his unwed teenaged and pregnant daughter was hiding in, only to hug her once he got inside.

He stood by her side from beginning to end. He accepted and loved his first grandchild, me.  He broke his daughter out of a home for unwed mothers to spend the holidays with his family, and when he was questioned about what others might think, he replied “fuck ’em”. Kids ran in and out of that house all of the time. My aunt’s and uncle’s spoiled me rotten. That one city block was my entire world. I had no clue anywhere else even existed.

My grandma was a bit different. She was a bit cooler minded and worried about social norms than my grandpa was. But she was a wonderful grandmother. She put up with a lot of philandering from my grandpa. She was very much in love with him, even after they divorced. I had no idea that grandparents were even allowed to divorce. But they did. I have always had a closeness with my grandmother. We look exactly alike. We had the same aspirations, the same voice, the same attitude.

The thing that I don’t understand is that even now, with all of it’s arguments, separations, taking of sides, tragedies and outright denial of the simplest things, every last one of these people shine, in one way or another. They are hilarious. They are sharp. They are extremely loving. They keep the “kids” out of the “adult’s” issues. For every ounce of ridiculous, they are extremely hard to dislike. It’s very hard to stay loyal to the person they are tormenting at the time, but it’s just as hard to take sides. You just want to love everyone.

How can such a phenominal group of people turn out so twisted? Is it the result of just too many kids and not enough parents? Too many drugs and too much beer coupled with 10 generations worth of depressive and crazy genetics? My aunt is our family historian and after she did her homework, she determined that genetically speaking, her mom and dad really never should have gotten married. There would be no hope for two sides of nuts like that. And she was right. But here is to hoping that it skipped a generation. I think that is has, fingers crossed.

My grandpa is gone now. My grandma is leaving…one way or another. My aunt’s and uncles are all in their own groups and don’t seem content just avoiding each other. The only thing the masses seem to agree on is that at one point in time, we were quite perfect.

My furniture awaits.

Talking Heads

My son was recently diagnosed with Sensory Processing Disorder. In simplest terms, he is unable to take what he hears and feels and process it into thoughts and actions. As you already know from earlier posts, he has been in therapy, doesn’t say much, and has a compulsive attachment to doors and buckles of every kind. The SPD is something the professionals thought could be borderline but soon it was clear that it wasn’t, and he needed more help. We had a change with our speech therapist and at first, I was pretty sad. But this woman is a breath of fresh air and she was able to get the boy to a whole new level in a matter of 3 sessions. Change isn’t always bad.

So starting in about a week or so, he will be spending 4 days a week getting occupational, speech & developmental therapies. That and 5 days of good old-fashioned day care. That boy is busier at 2 than I ever was in my lifetime as a little person. He has a great attitude about it and loves his therapists. He gets pissed when he has to work, but who doesn’t, right? I want to report to you that I see this fantastic change in him every minute of every day. But I don’t. That’s not to say that he hasn’t improved. He really truly has. He mimics us a bit now. I imagine Daddy and Mommy should curb our swears and random ridiculous conversations starting soon. We got into this ridiculous and hilarious argument in the car this weekend and he sat in the back, laughing his ass off. That smart ass kind of laugh where you could totally tell he thinks we are both assholes. My boy might be a little slow in the head, but he ain’t stupid. He knows assholes when he sees them. We were laughing and yelling at the same time, so it’s not like we acted like Ike & Tina or anything. But my point is, he knows.

I don’t always see his improvement because now, he acts out the most with me. I arrive at the time of the day that is hardest on him. He is so over excited to see me that he cannot take in what is going on around him. Nothing is routine with us, yet everything is. It is literally our routine for him to spaz out when I walk through the door and have him screech and get frustrated. We have a lovely time in the bath tub but when I am drying him off, I get smacked and kicked. Hard. Until recently, I didn’t really know how to help him down from that. Now I know to take my glasses off, hold his arms down a bit and give him a good strong hug. I sing the 50 states in ABC order because I learned them in the 5th grade and never got the song out of my head. And it actually helps to calm me down. This doesn’t work on him all the time. But the few times that it does really helps. I don’t feel so out of control. And as badly as it hurts my feelings and my self-worth when he is knocking the shit out of only me, I feel that much better when only I can calm him down.

I am unable to sleep in on weekends now because the second I walk down the stairs, his morning is in shambles. He isn’t used to seeing me all day. He had a morning routine with dad and while he loves that I am there, he is physically and emotionally unable to convey that he wants me there. So in other words, I have a 2-year-old teenager. “Oh look! There’s mom!! There’s mom!!! I love her soooo much!! However, I don’t know how to deal with her presence or my feelings, so begin breakdown before she hits the bottom stair. Annnnndddd GO!!!”

We have to work with the therapists on how to help him on weekends. And I guess on how to help us. I stayed home all last week on what was supposed to be the great clean up of 2010. Instead, it was the 2 year old’s great ear infection of 2010 and he stayed home with me all week. Nothing I planned went right. Not one thing. I had some good moments with him. I really did. But others, not so great. I had to keep telling myself that I am here for him, not the other way around. I had to keep telling myself he was very sick, and in general, even those “normal” little kids are jerks when they are sick. But all I wanted to do was run away or go back to work. Until a couple of things happened.

He pretended to talk on the phone. He babbled his heart out and even said “buh” before he hung up. This shows that he not only knows his own place in society, but he also wants to talk to other people in his world. That guy was saying something to someone on the phone!! Most likely he casually mentioned his fat ass mom hasn’t gotten out of her bright red bath robe in days and she was starting to kind of resemble the planet Mars. But fuck it. I will take that. Besides, that shit is true.

Our friends gave us some special sensory specific toys. He took to them straight away, and even sat down with us, and more specifically me, to play with them. It was a family effort and it went swimmingly. It was the end of the longest most unsuccessful week I probably had in ages, and here we were, playing as a family unit. I felt just about as calm as he was. And I guess that sometimes even when I am not realizing it, I am probably just as spazzy as he is. Something for me to think about the next time I am helping him out of the spiral.

Last but not least, something else entirely caught me by surprise. My husband started school the same week I was home. He was highly overwhelmed and emotional, but fiercely dedicated and steadfast. I had some music on. The boy sat in my lap on the living room floor playing with his new keyboard. Daddy was walking around reading medical terminology flash cards. I had slightly homemade Bisquick shortcakes in the oven and berries in the refrigerator. I kind of looked up and saw that moment for what it was. It was exactly what I have always wanted for myself. An evening with my family. No yelling. No farting. No cartoons or sports or empty television. No squeals of frustration from my son who lives in his own mind. Music, baked goods, education, culture and affection paid a visit to my home. It was genuinely who we were that night. It was a lovely moment and I am blessed beyond reason to have had it, and grateful beyond measure to be able to notice it.

My shitty week and sweet weekend ended today with the boy leading us in the song Itsy Bitsy Spider. It’s been one of his favorites for as long as I can remember. He would look intently at us and laugh when we over exaggerated the sun with interpretive dance. Only this time, it was his idea to start the song, and he did the movements with us. When he wanted to do it again, he used his sign language and asked for more. So of course, we did it again. My 2-year-old teenager changed back into a 2 year old boy, and when we put him down for bed, he yelled “BU BYE GOGO” He then reached out of his crib and slammed his door shut.

We have no idea what BU BYE GOGO means. But it’s cool. I am sure he will tell us someday.

Bebe

Not Guilty

I am back from my writers block! My vacation was postponed so I can’t regal you with stories from the great scrub-down of ’10 just yet. I worried for a bit that my kinder and gentler state of mind might impede on my writing and The Bucket would be Bebe-less due to clear thinking and rational behavior. Not to worry though. Yes, I have been feeling good and I have my health issues on track, but I still completely maintain a certain amount of absurdity that hopefully still comes out and touches people’s hearts here on the Bucket.

Anyway, in the past few days it’s been made abundantly clear to me that I am quite big on accountability and how it shape people’s lives. My mom was married for a lot of years to a pretty simple fellow who was, and most likely still is, a raging alcoholic with a dependency on his mother that was none to healthy for anyone involved in his world. He made countless mistakes in the course of our life and created a lot of long-lasting havoc for members of my family who are still struggling in their own ways today. He has never admitted to any wrong doing, and confronting him about anything is a fruitless and frustrating task.

After my mom finally divorced him and created a far better life for herself, I still maintained a certain allegiance to him. I don’t know if it was misguided loyalty, pity, compassion, or habit. But I did.  His final blow to the family is when he stole my sister’s identity, more or less, and ruined her finances for quite a while. His mother bailed him out of trouble, and both denied any wrong doing at all. That was the final straw for me. He no longer deserved anything by way of me, and I no longer felt the obligation to maintain a relationship.  I haven’t talked to nor seen him in years, and I am okay with that. What I am not okay with is that he is so far gone and so up his mother’s ass that neither one of them will ever realize or care that I am gone. I am sure that it is all my fault, and my mothers, of course. I will not be respected in any kind of way, and most of all I will have to live for the rest of my life knowing I told them how wrong they did us, and they don’t get it. It’s not even that they don’t care. They honestly don’t have it in them to have any accountability at all.  I can tell you for a fact that in my experience, not being able to vent your guts out to someone at all is far better than venting your guts out and being met with complete ignorance.

I can say I made my peace and spoke my mind and moved on. And I have. But that’s me. I have fine tuned my ability to weather a storm and for that I am quite proud. But for others, it’s not always that easy. My stepson has gone through hell and back with his mother. She has a lot of problems and she has made a tremendous amount of mistakes and she has openly stated she has no idea why her kids hate her. She really and truly doesn’t know. I think that is part of her sickness and I try to show compassion for her overall. But my stepson is 18 years old now and has already stated how much he wished that she would just state the obvious. She fucked up. She is sorry. But no. Instead he has to deal with making peace with her and himself. That’s a lot to ask a kid, and I am whole-heartedly sorry that he has to make that decision.

Yes, I know adversity should make the average person strong, and a strong person stronger. Yes, the lessons we learn in life shape who we are. Obladi, oblada and all of that noise. But really, the satisfaction of hearing someone say “I did this. I am sorry.” makes up for all of the therapy, booze, antipsychotics and ice cream in the world.

In the end, consequences are always paid out. The old drunk husband has no family to really speak of and can’t function on his own. The grandmother is no longer a grandmother to a couple of kids, and is a great-grandmother to no one. The stepson’s mother will have a lifetime of only getting a fraction of  love and acceptance with an insurmountable amount of pity from her son. Will they ever realize this? 

Most likely not.

Lucky them.

-Bebe

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