Monday, November 24, 2008

Worst. Day. EVER! Well, Almost.

OK, can I just say being a single parent sucks?

Yesterday, I was supposed to go to Cyd's school to meet with her counselor to discuss her classes for next year, then take Mychael to the orthodontist. I printed out Cyd's appointment when I made it on-line, but for whatever reason, did not write it down in my little appointment book. I remembered to call The Tool (easier to write than "my Soon-To-Be-Ex") to tell him about the appointment, though.

And, the orthodontist's office is really good about sending reminder e-mails and phone calls before the appointments, too. And, just as a safe guard, I did write this one down in my appointment book.

So there I was, just going along with my regular day, when I get an e-mail from my friend asking me if I want to go to lunch or dinner one day this week. I get out my appointment book to see what I have going on, and realize that I have completely spaced the orthodontist appointment! No worries, though - I still have about an hour and a half or so before I need to leave work to grab the kids on the way to the ortho.

I am working, working, working, and as usual, leave it until the last possible minute to squeak out of there and race to get the kids. I belatedly realize that I so entirely, completely, just plain forgot about this orthodontist visit, that I didn't even remind the kids about it! So, I hurry and text Mykie on the fly. Or at least, as fast as I can, given my limited texting ability during the best of times, let alone while walking to the car.

Just as I hit "send," I remember Mychael has lost her phone, and won't get the message, anyway. So, I think, "No problem! I'll just call Bretten!" Which I do, and she answers as she is on the bus home. I tell her to tell her sister to be ready as soon as she gets off the bus because I'm on my way to get them to go to the orthodontist.

Bretten says, "Well, Dad just called and says he already has Cyd and he's going to meet us at the first bus stop and take us from there."

"What? Why?" I say. Bretten starts to explain, but I can hardly hear her for all the background noise of the junior high bus. Frustrated, I say, "Nevermind. That's fine. I just wish someone would tell me what's going on," and I hang up.

I build up a head of steam as I call The Tool, all ticked off because, no matter how many times I have asked him to communicate with me directly, it seems he is prone to make plans with the kids, and none of them remember to tell me what's going on - or, I get bits and pieces of things from the kids that I can't decipher and then they feel like they're in trouble when I quiz them to try to figure out what is happening, when. I hit "send" and wait for him to pick up, ready to pounce as soon as he answers.

"Hello?" he says.

"Hi," I say. "What's going on? You're taking Mykie to the orthodontist?"

"Well, yeah," he says. "I figured I'd better. I tried to get ahold of you earlier to see what was going on when you didn't show, and I couldn't find you, so I just planned on doing it."

"Didn't show? Didn't show for what?"

"Cyd's appointment with the counselor."

It had completely, and I mean completely, slipped my mind. The appointment was there, written down on a paper, and I had totally, 100% forgotten about it. Suffice it to say, I was mortified. I hate messing up. I am not good at it. I am not gracious about it under the best of circumstances, though I manage to apologize to The Tool and figure out what's going on now and what I need to do to get back on course.

The Tool takes the kids to the ortho, and shows up at the house about an hour later. We exchange information about Cyd's appointment and Mykie's next ortho appointment, and then he says, "By the way - I forgot to change the direct deposit on my travel checks. They have been going in to your account, so I am just going to deduct that amount from the child support check I give you this weekend."

Not that I don't trust him, but I don't. I went and looked at the bank account, and sure enough, there is a deposit that is just labeled "Federal" but it is a weird amount - obviously not my regular salary. So yeah, I owe him the money. I never did the bills when we were married, and I have been really trying to get the financial crap all squared away because he always told me I wasn't good at it. I had kind of been thinking, "See? I can, too, do it!" because I've gone five months now with no late payments, no bounced checks, etc., etc. I even managed to pay for San Francisco and fit Christmas shopping in there, too, with minimal impact to my savings. And yet, here was evidence that I am not nearly as good as I thought I was, as I will only have half the money I was counting on for December.

So after absorbing that blow, he leaves and I turn to the girls to tell them the plans for the rest of the day. Before I can even open my mouth, one of the twins (I won't say who, to protect the guilty), says to me, "Where were you?!? Why did you forget?!?!"

Well, I'd had it. I got all teary (I usually try to do my crying in private) and just said, "Well, excuse me. I've had kind of a crappy day!"

And of course, the sight of me in tears immediately has her crying, too.

So now I am thinking I can't manage the kids' scheduling crap, I can't manage the money, and I can't even manage to be "The Mom" without falling apart! It seems I can't do anything right today!!

But then I remember some wise words from one of my cousins, who was born and raised in the southeast (North Carolina). "It's okay," she said. "Tomorrow is another day, Scarlett."

It's true. Oh, sure, it feels like the most totally craptastic day, ever. But I'm alive, I'm healthy, I have a house to live in and food to eat. Most importantly, I am surrounded by people I love and who love me back - who remind me that tomorrow is another day, when I need reminding. What would I do without them all?

So it was not the Worst. Day. Ever. Just almost. ;)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Make It A Good One!

I am not the best housekeeper in the world. In fact, I am pretty much a sucky housekeeper. I don’t clean my house at all – I pay to have someone else come in and do it. I manage to keep the surface of things picked up pretty well, but the interiors of my cabinets, drawers, and shelves mostly have all sorts of junk stuffed in them higgledy-piggledy. My desk at work is no better, and neither is my car.

My car is probably the worst of the three, because I have no cleaning company or janitorial staff to take care of it for me or to force me to pick it up in preparation for the deeper cleaning of their visit. In fact, I am often guilty of leaving a half-empty bottle of juice, a handful of receipts, or an unwashed lunch container in my car for several days (geez, I hope it’s not weeks, but time does fly….) at a time. In my defense, though, it’s not just me: my kids help contribute to the mess by leaving candy wrappers, fast-food bags, school papers, and dirty socks in the back seat, too.

So, although it doesn’t happen all that often, it’s also not horribly unusual for me to get in my car, breathe in, and say to myself, “Whoa!! Time to clean out the car!!” Yesterday was such a day.

I picked the girls up early from school for an appointment to go get flu shots. I picked Cyd up at the high school first, and then went over to get the twins at the junior high. I parked in the visitor’s space and asked Cyd if she wanted to go in with me to get her sisters.

“How long will you be?” she asked.

“Well,” I said, “Not that long, but I’ll have to get them checked out and everything so it might be a little bit.”

Cyd decided to wait in the car.

I went into the school and walked to the attendance office. It is run by students so it’s kind of a slow, laborious process to fill out the papers, have the student look up the class, call the teacher on the loudspeaker, and repeat the process for the other twin. Then, of course, both girls are on opposite sides of the school, about as far away from the attendance office as you can get. They finally appeared, and then we had to stop by the locker to drop off books and pick up backpacks, too. So, by the time we got back out to the car, probably close to 10 or 15 minutes had lapsed.

As soon as I got in the car, I immediately noticed a rather unpleasant odor. As I prepare to pull out of the parking lot, I have my "time to clean out the car again" thought and begin mentally running through the checklist of things I may have left in my car that could be the origin of such a funky smell: hmmm, haven’t been through a fast-food drive-in for a while, didn’t take my lunch to work today, Mychael washed her gym clothes over the weekend…what could it be?

Then it dawned on me. “Cydanie,” I said, “while I was getting your sisters, did you make a fartie in Mom’s car?”

There was a long pause, and then she finally replied.

“Well,” Cyd said, “it was only one!”

So, the moral of the story is, if you’re only going to make one, make it a good one – whatever it is.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's Been A Long Time - Next Time Will Be Better, I Swear!

I have been so busy at work lately - I have sort of fallen out of the habit of posting. I know that I am being paid to actually work while I'm at work, and believe me, I feel plenty guilty that I don't give it my all, all the time. But let's face it: between the stuff at home (kids, cars, house, etc.) and the divorce crap, a half hour or hour at work is really the only time I have to do it, when I also have the energy to do it! I could give you a list of stuff that has happened lately, but it's all gross and I don't want to think about it, let alone write about it.

Suffice it to say that my car broke only 6 weeks after the warranty expired, and it cost me over $200 to get it fixed - it was possessed by something otherworldly, which caused the lights and dials and gauges and stuff to go on by themselves, even when the switches were off. Oh, yeah, and it wouldn't start. On the bright side, it turned out to be a relatively simple problem which was corrected by replacing the battery, and it didn't cost the $400 that the dealership told me it would. But it was still a lot of running around for parts and stuff, and I had to make my dad help me (I still suffer guilt because he is 70 and I should be helping him, not him still taking care of me...).

One of the twins is not turning in her math homework again. On her first junior high school report card, she got around a 2.9 or 3.0 or something like that. Which I would say was fine, except that I know she can do so much better than that. Her sister got a 3.9, fer pete's sake - all A's and only one A-! I know that one just "does" school better, but still - I would've thought their grades would have been a little closer. That is the downside about having multiples - the regrettable tendency to compare them to one another, and always find one of them "less than" the other. Don't get me wrong, I love them equally! But I catch myself thinking, "I wish this one was as organized as that one," or "Why can't that one be as accommodating as this one?" For me, at least, it is a constant struggle to appreciate them each for their own individual strengths and not always be wishing that each had the other's strengths, too. And this is not helped by the fact that THAT one won't do her math homework!!!

And since I am complaining about school stuff, I might as well tell you that Cyd growled at her Foods teacher (sigh...). I guess I am used to it when Cyd goes "Urgggggh!!!" at me, and I just laugh it off. However, I can see how a teacher might be shocked if she got that noise, just for asking Cyd to copy down a recipe. So, now I can't laugh about it anymore; I need to train Cyd to realize that growling is not "socially appropriate."

And then there's the whole divorce thing. We are still battling over finances and assets and all that. I long for the day when my description of "me" can just be about me, and not include "soon-to-be-divorced" as one of the qualifiers.

I am truthfully less angry with Mr. Soon-to-be-Ex about all the mechanics of the divorce than I am about the idea he seems to have that you can divorce your kids as easily as you can your spouse. Sure, we have been squabbling back and forth about possessions. I continue to doubt his continuing denial of the existence of any type of "inappropriate relationship" with a woman he works with. I am irritated that I have just now discovered a mysterious multi-hundred dollar expenditure in an out-of-state jewelry store that occurred back in April, especially since the person he is NOT having a relationship with (yeah, right!)happens to live in the town where said jewelry store purchase occurred. Hmmm, I think I would remember if I were the recipient of anything from such a store, don't you? But that's all petty crap which, in the long run, doesn't mean much.

However, I am completely bewildered as to how Mr. Soon-to-be-Ex either is not aware, or just plain doesn't care, that his slavish devotion to his own happiness has so negatively impacted his own children in one way or another. I have had to explain to Cyd more than once that the whole concept of divorce means that Daddy doesn't get to have a birthday party at Grandpa Bob's this year, even if Dad's birthday is in December, because that was Daddy's choice. Do you think he's even explained that once?

I have another child in therapy now because she is struggling so much. All the therapist had to do was ask her where her dad lived, and the shaky hold she has on her emotions just burst. She could barely choke the words out through her tears. Why doesn't he get to witness this, and feel the knife twist in his gut the way it twists in mine when I see how miserable they are? The therapist asked her what her dad was like, and the only answer she could think of was, "He's in the Army." You know, I think I could tell you a dozen things about my dad, and never once mention what he does (or did) for a living.

Granted, I am an adult with supposedly better communication skills, but still....I would be embarassed if my kids ever thought of me as such a one-trick pony. And I'd be ashamed if any child of my own grew up to be that way, too. How could I have lived with and loved a man such as this for all those years? Were those years a lie, or is who he is now the lie?

Oh, now look: I wasn't going to write about any of this crap because it was just all too gross, and here I ended up doing it anyway. Next time, if I can't think of anything more fun, I am going to borrow a cute idea from my cousins and make a list of 100 things about me which WILL NOT contain anything about car trouble, kid trouble, or divorce crap.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Blog Thievery

I am super busy at work this week, and so likely won't have time to do a "proper" blog post. However, I read a blog today that I thought was totally hillarious and worth sharing. If you have ever heard of Natalie Dee, she is kind of a sureal, off-the-wall, web-based comic artist who, in my opinion, is extremely funny. I won't pretend to "get" all of her stuff, but the things she draws and writes about her pug, Chester, are absolutely hillarious. As is 80% of the rest of the stuff she does. If you have ever seen Dana's shirt that has a cupcake plus a multivitamin on it, with the caption "Super Breakfast," or my cat-in-the-catbox shirt that says "Free Samples," those are Natalie Dee.

Anyway, Natalie just had a baby, a little girl. The baby was born prematurely, as Natalie had fairly severe pre-eclampsia. In addition, the baby was breach, so not only was Natalie on bed rest, she also had to stay in the hospital for longer than normal, have the baby via C-section, and take home a 4 lb. baby. All of you who have ever been on bed rest, had a C-section, had a preemie, or even just a lot of swelling and/or a really, really tiny baby, will recognize just how accurate (and yet, bitingly funny!) Natalie's portrayal of those experiences is. I am warning you in advance, though, that she swears. A lot. Try to overlook it, though - you don't want a little thing like freqent use of the f-bomb to keep you from enjoying such priceless observations.

So - here's the link: Go to the October 30th entry, and I challenge you not to laugh.