God Be With Us

a00167a2-26ec-4975-89bb-baf407264096.pngI just read Mark Manson’s short on The Subtle Art Of Not Giving a Fuck.  It made me laugh, but then it made me cry because this is one of those occasions the fucks have taken over.  And it pisses me off a little, too, because I make a pretty decent effort to see the sunny side of people and most situations.  Except lately the people in my family have been thieving the last joule of energy from my being and so the fucks have been mounting exponentially for about, lets say, four weeks…or like 40 years, who’s counting?

So in today’s news, my husband’s career took an interesting turn into the shitter.  Let’s clarify: it’s not swirling down the drain, just plopped in for a second and already in a bag of rice.  Or a bag of fucks, whichever.  They both annoy the hell out of me when they spill out.  My habit of not giving a fiddler’s fart has waned and the fucks these days are growing, but not exactly waxing poetic.  Usually my deepest cares are sweeping moments of nostalgia for the sweet innocence of my children’s early youth, when I believed in the dream of their budding virtues and the plans I held for gifting the world with fragments of my love, my spirit.  The sacred parts of my soul untouched by the weathering of life.  My children would be, above all things, my legacy of love.

Yet that faith from its nascence has been tested on many occasions.  These teenage years have not been kind, but this past month is the first sign that somewhere I went wrong.  In my own weakness or in my overcompensation, or just the brokenness I’ve tried so hard for too long to conceal.  Something went terribly wrong.  These children are not good to me.  I was so focused on the development of their self-worth I had altogether failed to include any measure of my own worth into the equation of my parenting.  I failed to teach them to honor their responsibilities to this family, each other, their mother and father.  Mother Teresa reminds that if we want to change the world, we must begin with our own family.  For more reasons than one this was far more complex than it should have been for us, but I believe this recent tumult is an opportunity to strengthen the foundation of this family and to experience the blessing of God’s love through this test.

The fuck I give today about all this comes in the form of some painful self honesty:  about the lasting affects of my childhood dysfunctions, how they factor into the way I relate to my husband, how we’ve impacted the way our kids relate to each other and us.  I put my finger on all this years ago.  Possibly made a few weak attempts to “be the change”, but by and large have mainly attempted to escape from these issues or hide among the crowd in a perceivably healthier community than the tiny one within my home.

I’m mapping this period in my life carefully because I have faith that these pains are messengers, an opportunity for our family to grow closer through a painful adversity.  If family is my center, I’ve got to be willing to overcome the illusion that we can continue to keep these hungry wolves at bay with money, and rebuild this family’s foundation with the core values of those hopeful times of our early beginning. The financial stability of my husband’s career has managed to provide a little comfort through the tough dynamics of this household, fooling me into believing it will make up for the resources I lack as a mother.  It’s so paradoxical to me when in my own childhood, being a mother was clearly written on my soul.  I had an unshakable desire to love and nurture children, it was like a superpower.  My baby dolls transfixed me into a fairytale world of maternal bliss.  At the earliest age, swaddling and holding my dollies felt as natural and sweet to me as mother’s milk.  It would eventually become my life’s purpose.

These days I feel I’m losing my foothold.  Hopes and dreams have turned into grand disappointments.  My children as citizens, I am proud of.  I observe their character to be sound in their dealings with others.  But their lack of contribution, kindness, goodwill, personal accountability, and mutual respect within this home is nothing short of a devastation to me.  With my husband’s job loss, this family currently stands at a critical juncture.

This is it guys.  Sink or swim.  I’m no longer your lifeboat.  I’m worn threadbare.  It’s going to take the effort of the entire team to survive this with a positive outcome.  Dig deep, and may God be with us.

 

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The Amazing Peanut

E0F460B9-B922-4A6E-92BC-33D3EEAE5EF2Somehow it seems that in my earlier years writing when the kids were younger, I don’t believe my sweetest little one has had many posts devoted just to her.  This one’s for you.

First year of high school and today was your last day of midterms.  The results are in: you are an amazing student.  THIS is one of those moments in parenting that makes the seemingly endless ingratitude and unrewarding parts completely worth it.  I am so proud of this love of mine, words cannot convey.  She dances four nights a week and somehow has time to maintain her grades and a very lively social life on top of that.  What pushes a kid to work as hard as it requires to be a highly successful student?  Actually, I can think of many things that do but with my daughter, it’s a little perplexing.  Her oldest sister has modeled an exemplary work ethic her entire educational career this far and perhaps that may factor in, but she finds assessments challenging so often her grades do not measure accurately her investment in her education.  We don’t make a fuss over B’s and C’s and even an occasional D if we have reason to believe it was unavoidable.  My middle son has high intelligence, low performance at times.  We’ll leave it at that.  The point here is, in this house we don’t get too bent out of shape over grades.  There are various reasons beyond parenting laziness behind this.  I have never in all my years of parent-teacher conferences had it been reported to me that my children were anything but decent young humans exemplified by many, many eye-witness accounts of solid character.  This is what is most important to us:  character.

So this little chica could probably be getting away with academic mediocrity under the radar and spare herself the stress, time, effort, and pressure it takes to be a high achieving student.  Her dad and I have enormous respect and admiration for the pride, dignity and self respect we know is behind many things she accomplishes.  All of my kids exhibit this in their unique ways, definitely.

And they are all so very different.  This little one is such a mini-me, we are both Leos and I love having another fire sign in the house brimming with the joie de vivre I had at her age. She’s the biggest pain in the ass; complicated and needy and immature and MESSY!  But she’s worth every ounce of it.  She’s a beautiful soul and one of the greatest blessings of my entire life.  My love for her abounds every time I just think about her.  She’s the greatest gift to this family because she models love and loyalty through every storm and reminds every one of us what it takes to be a family.  I celebrate you today, my sweet baby girl.  I love you infinitely.  You are my treasure.

Welcome to I Don’t Give a Fiddler’s Fartsville!

67A78CEF-7B1F-4DD5-9B80-7948A0300C9BIt’s been so long since I have written at the Sass Box.  My big girl is a graduating senior this year, I need to catch up!

She’s 18 and finishing her high school career in 4 months.  It’s hard to believe (but totally believable-it’s been a long journey).  Next year the boy is right behind.  I will be 44 and have two graduated from high school!  Ahhhh...  I don’t care how many people want to tell me that my job is nowhere near finished (duh) I still do a happy dance for getting this far.  So far, so good.  They are good eggs.  Not perfect, but I am a very, very grateful mother.  I feel the weight lifting just a little.  It makes me exhale knowing that after they turn 18 and graduate, anything I do from there on is charity, not my job.

Unthinkable!  The Nerve!  What mother says that?  This lady right here with two thumbs and grown-ass kids, that’s who.  Oh God they’re going to hate me when they read this, oh yes they will.  They’ll think I’m a slacker, a lazy mom who of late loves to sit on the couch and have Netflix marathons, not clean the house, not make dinner…  I’m either in a rut or just over it.  One can never know when the old spark of domesticity will jolt me back to a former version of the mom we all mourn.  One just never knows.

But seriously, there is now a household of almost 4 adults and a 14-year-old with peculiar eating, sleeping, and hygiene habits so she doesn’t count.  I could cook and clean all day and it really would get lost on her anyway.  So tell me again why I would go to work every day and then come home and bust my butt as maid service?  nah.  (Good Lord I’m going to hell for that.  And my poor husband…)

Anyway, just swinging by, I’ll be back soon.  I have to keep up on the daily grind.  Hopefully this little trip down memory lane will jog my sentiments just enough to revive my dead inner housewife.  If not, welcome to I-don’t-give-a-fiddler’s-fartsville!

Sojourners

I just had an interesting insight.  I always blame my mother for having selective perception about my childhood and our relationship over the years.  It has dawned on me that my children will most likely do the same, and that made me wonder what they may glean from reading all this many years ahead.  Will it be very detailed accounts of the way I chose to see our journey together?  Is it indeed the way I actually see it, or like our friends on Facebook, is it a very polished version?  Will they be endeared or enraged?

Maybe a little of both and that’s the beauty of it, I suppose.  Being a family is a collective journey, yet along the way we are all sojourners of our own truth.

A New Era

Today my kids are 15, almost 14, and soonly 12.  Who are those little creatures that used to dwell here?  They are not the children sleeping near me right now.  Looking back I realize why I probably stopped writing for a while.  Puberty hit and things got ugly.  The “crazy fun” I used to write about in all our “togetherness” when they were small – the frustrating, mind-boggling, exhausting, bliss of motherhood I once reveled in has turned a corner and what was around the bend has brought me into the light.  *I did not say it led me to the light, this light I speak of is more like a blinding flashlight shining into my eyeballs at 4 a.m…  Yet here I am, still alive to write about it.  I love them, those three.  They are still my precious loves, somewhere inside their hormonal bodies.  Past the bitter words they spit out before they’ve even tasted them, outside their phones where they transport themselves for easier access to friends away from that annoying reality where time cannot stop and start at the push of a button.  I’m too tired to get into detail about the ways in which they’ve “grown”, I can only say for now that I understand something profoundly important about Wordsworth and his appeal for childhood innocence.  I’m making an appeal for it too, here in this house with these loves of mine.  As my littlest chicka sleeps next to me while her daddy’s out of town, I felt compelled to come here for my nighttime prayer.  Thank you God, for getting us this far.  So far so safe.  Please protect us and guide us as we navigate these tumultuous years ahead.  So far so safe and if all I ever have to endure is constant worry and occasional verbal abuse, I’ll be blessed.  I’ll age in dog years, but we will survive.  They are good souls and I realize now that that has always been my greatest hope.

Had I foreseen a D in math 4 years ago I’d have hung up my apron right then, grabbed a case of Slim Fast, and bought a one-way ticket to Morocco for my failing.  Had I foreseen the maturing of integrity, honesty, compassion, self-pride, and love which I could not possibly introduce anew today should these have been deficiently sown, I’d have realized a D in math is completely surmountable compared to higher mountains.  Thank you, God, for these three blessings.  For helping me make them a gift to this world, and for the many gifts they have given me.  As I watch over their expanding souls, I can think of nothing that truly grows a soul like motherhood.

2 Beats 1

There are undeniable benefits to any number of children that complete your family, as well as drawbacks. When we had our first daughter, my boss with three children would laugh as I went on in detail about the most minute aspects of parenthood, like fussy napping or figuring out how to shower when just she and I were in the house alone. He told me having one is like “playing house.”

Then when we became pregnant with our second and learned it was going to be a boy, a friend of the family said, “The perfect family, one of each…a real millionaire’s family! I would feel proud with my swollen belly and glowing cheeks, and my beautiful blonde daughter in my arms. I felt wrapped in the warmth of a growing family and enjoyed the excitement of having “kids” instead of a baby. There was just something that felt official about this second on the way, and I liked it! Then he came, and it was BUSY! A 22-month-old who didn’t like sharing, and this little fella at the breast. Our friends without children would stop over and marvel at the carnival act we had going on. In the space of 200 square feet we had a high chair, swing, bouncy seat, carseat and playmat. But we weren’t out numbered yet. We could still manage things with a fair and equal team effort.

I just began to settle into this new life and decided to embrace motherhood like a seasoned vet. I was excited about one day adding another to the clan, and the sooner the better. When my darling boy was around a year and a half, we discovered we were expecting AGAIN! It was Christmastime, so I put the test into a long, gold jewelry box, wrapped it and gave it to my husband one evening. When I handed this unusually timed special present to him, he had a worried look on his face. I didn’t think he could possibly know…so I asked him what was wrong, and this is what he said: “Well, I’m just a little nervous to open it, it looks expensive and money is really tight for us.” Little did he know this would be the gift that would keep on giving…in diaper bills! But of course he was thrilled and reminded me we would now be out numbered. My mother-in-law couldn’t wrap her brain around the fact that trips to Cedar Point and Disneyland would be disastrous with an uneven number of kids to pair on the rides.

And of course after that, unending comments from every direction would remind me of the chaos I was about to enter. The old boss was delighted to see I was no longer playing house. The perfect family friend couldn’t understand why. WHY? She wanted to know why we would go and mess with a good thing. You’ll be outnumbered, you’ll be outnumbered, YOU’LL BE OUTNUMBERED!
When a dear best friend of mine told us she was pregnant with her fourth (in 5 years), my son had the mother-of-all-takes on the number of children in a family. He said that one’s too easy, two’s for wimps, three’s for quitters but four is just plain CRAZY!! Secretly I envy this friend, because in my experience, three has been crazy.

We are outnumbered. We can only go to Cedar Point with another family so no one get’s stuck on rides without a buddy. My daughters are complete rivals (read: three bedroom house, three kids). There is constant ganging up on someone. Three has been a charm in terms of my ideal number of children to fulfill a need for a “fuller” family without going bonkers, but it’n not without challenges.

There is, however, one way in which my number of three comes in handy to be the absolute perfect number when taking votes, which we do everyday, all day long, about everything. Because with three, there is no chance of a tie, it’s either unanymous or TWO BEATS ONE!
Settles everything without holding me accountable!

And when I think about those early years when my husband and I had to field comments from this person or that one, I remember how proud we were of our family and how we would look at each other and not give a fiddler’s fart what they were saying. We were on the same team and had plenty of confidence on the matter. Two beats one!