Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Games They Play

Did I ever mention that Mad came along within a few weeks of Tom and I mutually agreeing that we weren't going to have children together? It's true.

The short version of that experience is this:

I told him on a Friday night, "I'm either really sick, like cancer, or I'm pregnant. I looked it up online. I'm not sick. No, I'm sure. I'm pregnant."

And then he saved my soul by saying, "Well, this is just another adventure for us, isn't it?"

The next day we sent Corey to my mom's, went straight to the store and home with a pregnancy test. He made me wait to look until after the full two minutes and he had to be right by my side.

Within a few days we were at my OB's office, getting official confirmation. That afternoon he insisted I find a better doctor's office because, frankly, that one was crap. By the end of the week we interviewed a new OB, loved him and signed up with him on the spot. He went ahead and did a preliminary exam that day, including an ultrasound.

We will never forget the awe and joy and love when we saw that little tiny peanut with a flickering heartbeat.

And I will never forget how surprised I was when I learned not long after that Tom felt we really needed to have another baby, too. Like, the one in my womb didn't even have more than arm flaps and a heartbeat yet and he was on to the next one.

Eventually he wore me down and I agreed.

And now we have Madelyn and Fynn filling our days (and sometimes our nights) and I know he was right. At four and two, they are (mostly) a lot of fun, individually and together.

That does not mean I will ever understand some of the games they play. (You will see that Mad's nickname, The Director, is well earned.)

Madelyn to Fynn: I say "no" and you say "yes." And then one nods and the other shakes her head. Sometimes they switch. This game lasts 5-10 minutes.

Madelyn to Fynn: I'll say "now?" and you say "no!" and then I'll say "agh!" This game can go on during the entire trip down the Cajon Pass... about 15 minutes of Now? No! Agh! *giggle*

There's also the time out game, where one person will say, "You hit me! TIME! OUT!" It's a taking turns game. The "hitter" gets off the naughty mat and immediately repeats the key phrase. Sometimes this leads to actual hitting. No bueno.

Right now, as we all wait patiently for Daddy to come out of the potty (there's a whole post in that statement) so we can go to the park, they are playing the napping game. This one can be particularly cruel if Mama is tired because they yawn (which makes me yawn), say "I'm tired" (which makes me tired) and get in bed (which is no fair). One lays down and the other tucks her in. "Sleep" lasts about two minutes before the sleeper wakes up and asks for permission to get up.

Sometimes I wonder if we should fill our house with electronic games and the apps that accompany them. We've considered buying a Kindle or something like it as a joint Christmas gift. Mostly, though, I love their creativity, even if I don't always get it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Claws At My Heart

This blog seems to have turned into a mommy blog, which was never really my intention. At first it was just a place where I could pour my heart out in badly written excruciating detail. Those first posts? Awful. Read further into my blog and you'll find a few years where I laugh at all my own jokes. (Full disclosure: I still do, I just refrain from adding the hahahas and LOLs now. Most of the time.)

One thing I have done well is compartmentalizing my life. Apparently that's a "guy thing." Spend your life growing up around a bunch of alpha male biker types and see if you don't pick up a few things along the way. Right?

Over the past several years I've switched from pouring my heart out to recording things. First it was for my kids and then it was for my girls. A lot of things involving Corey weren't good. And who wants to hear about the bad stuff? And why bother telling it when I can say things like, "And then I told her not to wipe her nose on the table"? (Twice, people. I had to tell her twice.)

It feels awkward and kind of scary to open this door, but I am going to anyway. It has become more than compartmentalizing lately. It's become avoidance. Some of the stories I have put in a box and set to the side? They are not funny. Unlike my last post, I sincerely doubt many people would find them moving. They are angry, confused, hurt stories that make me wonder what the hell happened and where do we go from here?

So this, I think, is the post where I let you into the biggest, darkest, saddest and hardest part of my life.

Let's talk about Corey.

There are several posts on this blog about my son. I came across a couple recently that surprised me with their candor until I realized I posted them when I had two followers and one regular reader, someone I never met in real life. So different than now, when I know a few of you and and feel like I know a few more.

There is a lot more to Corey than those posts and this one and any that come from here on out.

He is the first pure love I ever experienced.

I still love him just as much today as ever before. Please keep that in mind.

Two years ago I kicked him out of this house.

It had started as "I'm onto you. Get back on track with attending school and doing the work and stop spending so much of your time with a stream of people you hardly know. It's damaging the trust and respect within your family."

You know how people say, "It was like he flipped a switch"? It was like that. The tenor of the conversation was light but serious. And then...

And then, honestly, I don't even remember everything that happened.

But I know that I thought he was shooting into the front door from outside. (He wasn't.)

And I know that he shredded our Christmas lights with his bare hands.

Shredded. I still don't know how that is possible, except that he was so enraged.

Tom wasn't home. Fynnie was a wee baby; I don't really remember where she was, but she was most likely in my arms or a carrier because that is where she lived. Madelyn was about two and a half and clearly frightened.

I grew up in a home where explosions like Corey's were frequent and living in fear and walking on eggshells were not uncommon. I would never tolerate that for my kids... not even if it was my kid who was scaring the hell out of us. And the dog.

I told him to leave and not come back or I would call the police.

He called my mom and she drove up here, picked up his medicine and then went to find him.

She didn't plan to keep him long-term, but he has this way of explaining why things didn't pan out that can be very difficult to cut through until later, when you're looking back and asking yourself how the hell he managed to do it again.

He did not graduate from high school.

He did not finish enrollment into Job Corps.

He did not get a job.

He did take money from my mom. Cash and credit, thankyouverymuch.

He did spend a lot of time eating and sleeping and playing games and buying access to porn online.

He did gain a lot of weight.

He did not help around the house aside from taking out the trash occasionally. Because, you know, she asked too nicely about the other stuff.

He did, however, threaten to kill himself last year and landed in a mental hospital because she told him he had to start helping out around the house more. (His version is different than this, but not significantly.)

Staying with my mom was a blessing and a curse. I knew where he was. That he was safe and warm and obviously fed. He was with someone who loves him. But there was no accountability. No demands were made on him to do anything, especially after what happened last year. And my mom kept keeping cash around the house!

Seriously, if you know you have taken in someone whose parents have put locks on every door and window with access to electronics, jewelry and cash, then DO NOT LEAVE ANYTHING VALUABLE LAYING AROUND. And no, the fact that you put money in your bible is not going to make him not take it. It just isn't.

Sometime around the end of August or beginning of September, my mom told Corey he had until the middle of October to get a job and start contributing to the household or he would have to find somewhere else to live.

A couple weeks ago she got more specific and decided on October 15.

For some reason, even though I had long-standing plans for Tuesday the 16th, I kept thinking about how hard it was going to be on Tuesday (the 15th in my mind) when he had to leave. Because he was not getting a job.

A surface conversation would lead you to believe that he'd been doing everything to find work. Dig a little deeper and "everything" turned out to be "I bookmarked, like, three sites. But they're not hiring right now."

I provided job leads and offered to help get him ready to interview... because getting people ready for a job is what I do. And if he wasn't comfortable with me helping him, there were other people he could talk to from my work.

I was pulling for him and hopeful that he would finally step up and meet his responsibilities head on.

And, frankly, full of bravado with Tom and my mom and Nance about how "he cannot come back here. It is not an option. He scared the crap out of Madelyn!" (And me. And the dog. And he still scares me now. He scares my mother sometimes, too.)

Monday afternoon I spent four hours on the phone with my son. We rehashed the hows and the whys of that night 22 months ago. I was pelted with his blame.

"If anyone else had been in our house, doing what you were doing with your sisters right there, what would you have me do?"

It was the first time I felt like he understood why I reacted like I did. He loves his sisters, especially Madelyn, more than anything.

In the midst of the conversation I had to get off the phone and get rid of pretty much everything I'd consumed in the past three weeks. And then I called Tom.

"I am not sure I can do this."

He brought up a few very salient points. I knew he was right, even though I cannot tell you now what those points were.

"I know. You're right. You're not going to get a rational argument from me. *sobbing* My son is about to be homeless."

Because he didn't really do anything to prepare. Not look for a job. Not look for a home.

The thought of leaving him out there was awful, repulsive. Terrible.

The thought of bringing him back into our home was frightening.

Do we have a bed for him? Yes. Not his old bed. He had pretty much destroyed that and it was thrown out not long after he was gone. But there's a sleeper sofa in the loft. Right outside of our room. Which would have to be kept unlocked in case the girls wanted to come to us in the middle of the night.

He would be between us and the girls.

Laying it all out there, I am afraid of my son. I love him. I don't trust him. I am not entirely alone.

A few weeks ago my mom and Corey came up to the desert so he could see a girl friend and then he and my mom would visit with us and the girls. My mom hung out with us until it was time to go pick him up.

An hour later he and his friend still weren't back at her house, so my mom came back and had dinner with us. Two hours later she went home. Alone.

Over five hours after he was supposed to be hanging out with his sisters, he called. Tom took him back to my mom's.

I would not have taken him and I didn't think Tom should go out of his way to drive 90 miles.

Tom's unassailable logic?

"I am doing this for your mom. She'll feel better knowing where he is and that he is home. And so will you. And I don't want him roaming around our neighborhood."

And so, on Monday, I did not ask him to come on home.

He did not ask to, either.

I did not ask where he was going.

I did ask if he packed ID (just in case) and a toothbrush.

I asked him to meet me every Tuesday afternoon. He chose the park with the cannon where we would go and eat on special occasions back in the days when it was just him and me.

Tuesday would mean that I would see him in less than 24 hours if he was willing.

This might be hard to understand, given all that I have said already, but part of me was hoping I could convince Tom to open our home to my son during those intervening hours. I am not expecting that to make sense, but it is true nonetheless. 

Corey told me how he didn't think it was possible to go up from here because he didn't have a high school education.

And then I told him a story about me he had never heard. About how my boyfriend, Travis, graduated at the end of my junior year, and then my mom got engaged to this man. The man had just bought a little house that had a room for them and a room for his daughter... no room for me. So I dropped out of school my senior year, took the equivalency exam (only good in California, damn it all) and went to work. (And then my mom realized that all of her friends and family thought the man was creepy and whatever hold he had on her was broken, but it was too late. My high school wouldn't take me back.)

I tried to pull from my own life to show him that there are always options if he will only work for them.

Somehow we made it through that conversation without him blowing up. We cleared up some misconceptions but we didn't exactly solve anything.

A little while later, I spoke to Tom. He had done a fairly speedy research into shelters and found a few that might take Corey.

Called my mom, but he was already gone.

I sobbed like a baby.

I can imagine how hard it is understand how I let my son go.

So many of my friends, both online and in real life are surrounded by toddlers and infants. Every single one of those children is a bundle of hope and expectations and wonderful possibilities.

So was Corey.

So he is.

The next morning during a field trip, Corey called.

He went to a friend's house and she directed him to some people who had taken her in when she ran away.

They have taken him in.

In order to stay he has to fill out seven job applications. A day. He is following through, but slowly.

He was calling to see if he could have Nance's information for a job reference.

It is short term, this help from nowhere. But it is here for now.

Corey went by my mom's place today to pick up a few things. He said the lady he's staying with is pretty upset that Corey was tossed out, "but she doesn't know all the stuff that went on before."

The woman made Corey ask if he could come back if he did get a job. He asked after my mom had spent several hours cleaning up the grossness of a teenage boy's room, so he probably didn't get the most positive response.

He has put my mom through the wringer. I feel for her.

But, because we are crazy and because he is my son and the first pure love I have ever known, I am pulling for Corey. So is Tom. If Corey gets a job, we will probably offer to bring him home. He may or may not accept.

I suspect we'll feel conflicted either way.

Monday, October 01, 2012

On Time. And Wounds. And Healing.

Today a young woman I know found out that, yet again, her pregnancy has ended without a baby.

When she announced the pregnancy, it was with the wild abandon and hope that this one was gonna take. A baby had to come this time.

Because the first time it happened? Who knows?

And the second? Well, he was just about to leave on a yearlong deployment and so maybe it was god's way of saying this was not the right time. Right?

But he's home now. Life is beautiful and happy. Just the way you dream of life when you're a child. It should really work out when everything else is going so well, shouldn't it?

Only it doesn't always. And it doesn't so often that I find myself hoping I can somehow absorb the worries of my friends' hearts. Like that will raise the chances of a happy outcome.

Because I never want anyone to feel that kind of loss.

Do you even know how quickly an entire life can be imagined? From the realization that a pregnancy test is in order to the confirmation of life, plans are already hatching. Dreams are already forming. A future life is already being lived.

How many times have I sat in front of a monitor in a dark room and seen the still shadows on the screen?

Saw the words, "NO FETAL HEART TONE"? And why do those words have to be in all caps?

I have to say, the best part of getting my tubes tied two years ago is never having to worry that much through another pregnancy.

Okay, yes, until someone is carrying my grandchild. And then, hopefully, I will do what I do now. Cheer and celebrate and hope for the best while silently sending out little pleas that this one will make it.

Last week I was going through an old magazine that we have laying around. There's a note in the back from the editor. To the infant son he lost 36 years before.

It was one of those pieces that slammed into my head as much as my heart.

It never goes away.

I am not a freak because I look at young adults around me and think I could be their mother. I mean, not theirs, but the mother of a friend that they never got to make. A brood of young men and/or women could be filling my life, along with the son and daughters I know.

Where did they go?

And at the other end of this babyloss-marked life, I have to say that I'm grateful to the little being that never was, who gave way to Fynnie. We could not have had that baby and Fynnie since they were created less than two months apart. I cannot imagine choosing anyone else.

October is a somber time for many people. It's National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Did you know that? Did you know that people all over the country will be lighting a candle at 7:00 P.M. on October 15 in remembrance of the little lives lost? It's to create a wave of light.

That saying about time healing all wounds? I suppose it does. To some degree. Define healed, right?

I am heartbroken for my friend and a little sad for me. I hope she feels the light on October 15 like a blanket. Between now and the peaceful sadness and wonder I think she'll eventually come to find, I hope there is a rainbow in her arms.
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