Rabid Interest

I forced myself out of bed at 5, dying a little. Feeling the whole weight of eating a cow and drinking a bowl of gin. My eyeballs ache. I have to force myself into the car and to my office. Struggling hard with a headache and a desperate need to nap. Not just tired.

Bothered, and not in a good way. I had to silence my phone to stop the whistling. Mr. Grey doesn’t wait for me to text him back and when I look at my phone there are 11 new messages from him. I feel inundated. I’m especially annoyed because Incredicock’s text tone cracks me up and I’ve missed it three times now because Grey can’t pump his brakes.

There’s a fine line to holding my interest. I’m not afraid to admit that. If I feel like I have to hide from him, I don’t want him anymore. I have a million things going on in a day and I don’t care what he ate for lunch. Not. At. All.

I actually have no desire to talk to him during his lunch break or on his drive home. I’m not a pacifier.

For the love of God. Why do all the wrong men chase me like a deer on the first day of hunting season?

I realize by going silent that I’m making the problem worse. If I want him to chill out, I have to out-text him, call during dinner and send him animated gifs all day. I know the path out, I just don’t care enough to follow it.

G- You must be busy today! Have a good one, gorgeous.

G- Flying Sunday?

G- I can fly over and pick you up so you don’t have to drive so far.

G- We could get lunch in Kalispell, Montana?

G- It was great to catch up with you.

G- Navy pinstriped tie today.

Sigh. I wish I cared, but he’s annoying the shit out of me. I feel like there’s a target on my back that I don’t know about. Yeeesh. I finally snapped.

J- Hey Chatty Kathy, I’m at work. I’ll text you when I get off.

G- Sorry babe, I woke up thinking about you. When do I get to see you again?

Where’s that annoyed emoji when I need it. I put my headphones back on and prayed he’d shut the fuck up. No luck. I finally Googled how to silence him, and a lovely little moon popped up beside his name. Finally, peace.

I raced to get my little Dumpling from school and took her to the park to play. It’s getting colder and darker earlier these days, so we’re trying to squeeze every last bit of playing outside. We walked home in the dusky twilight, holding hands.

This is why I don’t want a boyfriend. She’s my +1. I don’t want her to have to share my time with anyone. That may sound a little dramatic, but it’s really important to me. I only date when she’s asleep so she is none the wiser. She is really excited that my heels have come out of  storage, though.

We walked up to the house and there was a long white box waiting by the front door.

D- PRESENTS!!!!!

It’s from Mr. Grey. I lifted the lid and it’s a big bunch of gorgeous pink roses.

D- Daddy sent me flowers!!!!

J- He’s such a nice daddy. Let’s put them in some water.

D- I want them to be in my room!

I thanked Grey for the roses and let him know it was a huge hit with the little one. I stopped short of telling him they were in her room.

G- Call me after she goes to bed.

J- I have to run. I’ll text you.

… … … ……………………..

I didn’t.

and woke up to 14 messages, including some song lyrics and hearts.

FML.

spoiled

Glasses

My little Dumpling is reading and we spend many hours sounding out words. Many. So when her teacher pulled me aside, I didn’t expect what she said.

C- I think she needs glasses. She strains to see and rubs her eyes a lot.

I looked over where she was playing and began to worry. It’s funny how you can completely miss something until someone points it out. My mind started to mull over every detail of the last 5 years. How in the hell did I not know?

I picked her up that afternoon and started questioning her.

J- Do your eyes hurt? Can you see my face?

D- What are you talking about? I can see your head but my seat is behind yours, mama.

I tend to panic a little when something is potentially wrong with one of my babies. My son was born with a rare eye condition and we spent his first year in scary pediatric ophthalmologist hell. I’m aware this is routine for people who wear glasses.

I’m just one of those lucky assholes with perfect vision. It breaks my heart that I have it and she doesn’t.

She does not share my sorrow. She counted down the days to her appointment and marched in with glee. Her initial exam was difficult to watch. The Dumpling is blind as a bat. She could pick out one or two letters correctly, but even at 2″ tall, she struggled. I fought back tears, feeling like the worst mother in the world that my poor blind child has just been stumbling around in a blurry world.

That glee she rode in on turned to horror with a few well placed eye drops to dilate her eyes for the exam.  She climbed into my lap, buried her face in my chest and sobbed.

D- I don’t want glasses anymore.

Out of nowhere, the Long Island Medium of eye wear appeared.

LIM- OH HONEY!!! DON’T CRY! LET’S PICK OUT SOME GLASSES!!!!

Dr.- Full time. She’s nearsighted with pretty serious astigmatism. If she were just nearsighted then she’d see clearly up close, but with her degree of astigmatism, everything is blurry.

Thanks doc. I didn’t feel horrible enough yet. I do now.

The spikey haired screamer is handing my Dumpling a pile of pink frames. Oh no.

LIM- OHH LOOK!!! PURPLE?

D- No thank you.

LIM- HERE! TRY THEM ON?

D- No.

She’s specific. She’s half shielding her eyes and frowning quietly at anything less than shocking pink. She will not even try another color on. Her patience is running low with the excited saleswoman.

D- Can we be done?

I love kids. I wish I had the balls to say the same.

LIM- I SAVED THE BEST FOR LAST!!!!

Fuck.

VB Ada

She runs over and grabs a sparkling pink pair of frames from the top row of kids glasses. I know to stay away from the top row in the store. Regardless of where you are. It’s just as deadly at the liquor store as it is shopping for glasses. I see the tiny one sit up straight and grin.

Fuuuuuck.

She slips them on and flashes my own naughty grin back at me.

D- I want theeeeeeeeeeeeeeese.

Of course she does. She’s my daughter. Her father is equally as bad. We are absolutely doomed when she’s a teenager. I shoot a murderous eyebrow at the Long Island Medium.

J- Do I even want to know? Let me guess. They’re the very most expensive, aren’t they?

She smiles, guiltily and nods her head yes. Fucking awful lady. My patience is draining from my already strained face.

LIM- They’d run around $400 with lenses.

J- Absolutely not. We’ll take the $150 version and call it good. Thank  you.

I picked the Dumpling up and carried her back to the waiting room, where she gave me hell.

D- But I don’t want those. I want the ‘spensive pink ones.

J- Sorry love, we’ll find them somewhere else for less. That’s wayyyyy too much money for glasses. That lady is a jerk for showing them to you.

Yeah. I hope she heard me.

We went back for her exam after her eyes had time to dilate and I honestly can’t even put it into words. Seeing her take the test again after he’d fine tuned the lenses to correct her vision, was amazing.

The letters started to get smaller and she started to guess faster. I watched them shrink on the screen, heard a giggle catch in her throat… and I bawled. I can hardly wait for her glasses to come in. It’s going to be really amazing to see her see everything again for the first time.

That damn woman followed us out, shouting at the Dumpling that she had  14 sleeps until they were in. I could see the confusion on her face as I pulled her out the door.

D- 14 sleeps? I want to go to school.

J- Don’t listen to that woman. Two weeks and your glasses will be in.

D- WHAT?? That’s the whole reason we came here.

J- They have to make them for your eyes. Patience is a virtue.

D- I’m patient for those pink ones.

J- Damn that woman.

D- POTTY TALK!

Life with a five year old co-pilot is hilarious. I’m awfully excited to see what she thinks when she finally gets to see the world around her. ♥

Free Range Parenting

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I’m trying not to be an old mom. Really, I am.

I remember crossing paths with “old” moms when I was a first-time mother at 18.

They weren’t any different when my second child was born, at 24.

The smug air around them rarely invites you in, so it was a rare occasion that I found myself with a group of “old” moms. One memorable occasion still sticks in my craw. A friend of mine had an accidental baby in her late forties, and we were all regularly tortured by their presence as a result. She loved to drop him off at my house with a satisfied smirk around my messy life. She patted me on the back one day and said “Oh honey… you’ll have so much more patience when you’re an older mother.”

My blood boiled.

Her little prince was more like a case of Shingles, and we’d had him for 8 hours that day… about 7 hours too long.

Why?

Because he didn’t have rules, he had “loving guidelines”. He didn’t have to share if he didn’t feel like it, even when the toys he was deciding whether or not to share, didn’t belong to him. He didn’t have to nap, didn’t have to eat his food, didn’t have to take a bath if he didn’t feel like it and didn’t have any sort of behavioral expectations, either.

He was a garden variety spoiled brat, in my book. All the touchy feel-y words in the world can’t make a spade anything but a spade.

I refused to accept her judgement, and moved on. We saw them less and less, thankfully.

Then I had a baby at 37 and realized that she was kind of, sort of, right about everything.

I feel bad for my older kids for having such a demanding mom with too many ideas in her head about how things had to be, and how it had to look and why we had to go to church and blah, blah, blah.

None of that shit was important, and I wasted so many precious moments, barking. That one last baby, has taught me how vitally important it is, to listen.

So if she only eats her noodles with butter and parmesan cheese, ignoring the homegrown veggie medley I harvested, washed and roasted for her… Oh well. Maybe next time. I even let her have the ice cream anyway. I’ve completely gone soft.

Childhood is so painfully short. You should eat all the ice cream you can.

I’ve learned which battles aren’t worth more than a giggle and which demand a firm resolve.

My eldest children are successful and beautiful members of society. They work hard and I am very proud. I hope their little sister follows in their impeccable example.

Being an old mom means you’ve learned that despite your best efforts, your children grow up to be who THEY are. The secret is learning to just enjoy it. To treasure each moment even if it looks nothing like you thought it would.

Days here are wild. I wake up to her screaming “MOMMMMMMMMMMMY!!!!!!”

After the adrenaline subsides and I explain to her (again) that I think she’s in danger when she screams my name when I’m sleeping, she wraps her tiny arms around my neck and says:

B-I love you SOOOOO much.

Which is totally worth the mild heart attack & reminds me again that the most important thing is this snugly time spent together because the rules sort themselves out. Life is too short to be a grouchy, demanding mom at ANY age.

I try to love more & yell less whilst doing my best to not raise a free range asshole. ♥

Playgroup

It’s the great American dream to raise your children in a cozy small town, especially if you grew up dreaming of Mayberry.

I grew up IN Mayberry… or the closest thing I’ve ever seen to it.

I STILL live in Mayberry, which is not my dream come true.

Don’t get me wrong, I have an incredible bunch of friends, all of whom are amazing women and men, and my children have grown up in the safe cocoon of an impossibly small and close knit town. There are great benefits that I wholeheartedly appreciate… but it’s not all rainbows and sunsets.

My sweet baby girl loves a local playgroup that is held once a week at a local church. There are a few moms I really like, but ultimately… we’re in it for the bouncy houses and free-range room full of small people. Its not religious, though you are welcomed to join their church services. We went regularly when she was a baby, and have started going again recently.

It is interesting as hell, to say the least.

I’m a lucky mom, because my baby is sweet and shares happily. She doesn’t have anyone in her life that doesn’t share with her, so it’s more a wonderful consequence of the 13 years between her big sister and her, than it is a reflection of my fantastic parenting. The downside, is that she gets a little mowed over at playgroup. It’s good for her, and she’s learning to defend her stuff these days.

She was happily marching a little hot pink double stroller around the busy room, when another little girl ran up and ripped the stroller out of her hands. She stared at me in horror, turned and stomped her tiny right foot.

B- NO! Be nice! Shaaaaaare.

The thief’s mother had appeared to return the stolen stroller. My little dumpling smiled and thanked her. Offering one of the babies to the angry little girl, who promptly threw it back at her.

Playgroup offers more than just bouncy houses. Playgroup is her first lesson that some people are just assholes.

Which is when I spot one I remember from high school. Great.

Remember that god-awful popular girl in high school who liked to call attention to people in their worst moments? Yeah her. The bad news is that she’s spawned. The worse news is that one of her little carbon copies is the same age as mine.

She has ankle boots like my teenage daughter, full hair & makeup. She’s smirking down her nose at the clusters of pajama clad moms, throughout the room. She’s eyeing up my Yoga pants, ponytail and complete lack of so much as moisturizer with more contempt than I’ve seen since 1993.

Her Irish twins are in the bouncy house with my Sugarplum and her eldest is trying to face stomp her baby while she lovingly “guides” her children with kind words.

Y-“Milwaukee, use your body with kindness towards Wenatchee. Wenatchee is small and needs you to help her learn. Milwaukee don’t use your feet for hurting. Milwaukee use your feet to jump and see how happy it makes you feel”

Milwaukee is attempting to break Wenatchee’s leg.

I am subconsciously peeing my pants in hysterical fits of laughter every time she says their names. I love uppity women who give their kids elitist white trash names. LOVE them.

I looked my daughter in the face and set the whole house straight.

J-“Don’t jump by that baby. She’s tiny and you need to be kind. Got it?”

B- “Got it!”

Miss Popularity frowned at me and I saw the recognition hit her. Uh oh.

Y- Jenni, isn’t it? We went to school together.

I smiled at her and she sort of half-sneered in my general direction. I’m easily 50 pounds heavier than her, in yoga pants and what’s left of my makeup from work last night… but she looks twenty years older than me, has bratty kids and too much patience.

Playgroup never disappoints.

I escape the high school reunion, only to run into another. A stay-at-home mom of one and only. Ugh. She wants to talk about poop and pull ups and all I can think of is signing up to be a foster parent so that we could have a built in playmate and avoid playgroup altogether.

A little singing and we’re out the door and home to the safety of the four walls that keep the familiar strangers, away.

Until next week, Mayberry.

tp

Along the way…

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I’ve been silent… and just plain exhausted, for two years. Somewhere along the way, I got lost in my own head and stopped writing. Having my words held against me during my custody battle, stole the joy out of blogging.

I’m really sad that I’m missing those two precious years from my journal. Regardless of the very public nature of my blog, it keeps the significant moments in my life that run together in the daily chaos, somewhere I can find them. The struggle of single parenthood means you spend twice as much time doing, and half as much time reminiscing. Blogging has allowed me to do both.

I burn the candle from both ends at an Olympic level. Last week, it caught up with me. I’d been up for 3 solid days and nights with a sick toddler, and our entire world was peppered with vomit, diarrhea and snot. Hers and my own. We were a hot mess, literally. Flu, my ass… I’m pretty sure we had the plague.

And I needed to wash diapers. FML.

Sneezing, coughing and struggling to throw the wet bag full of ungodly-smelling diapers into the washer… whilst sterilizing jars in preparation to can chili and black beans, because I STILL have tomatoes from the garden this summer.

Oy vey… I had to sit down and laugh/cry… because this was certainly not the Happy Ever After I envisioned when I fell in love with her father.

I wasn’t all wrong about her Dad. He helps in the ways he can from a few states away. He lets her live the life of a normal kid, and not one forever split between two parents that wanted her more than they ended up wanting each other. It’s not her fault that we aren’t together, and I’m thankful her life isn’t fractured on a weekly basis. He got engaged this fall, to a woman that suits him perfectly. They’re a happy couple and he’s a father to her three kids. All is well that ends well… aka: I work hard to bite my tongue. I lose my temper and text war breaks out every now and then, because while his not being here allows her to live a normal life and I’m grateful, she also deserves to have her dad around.

After the most recent argument, I spent a little time cleaning up my blog and deleting random mindless crap from the past few years. Reading back through the blogs I wrote is always good for a healthy reminder of why things are the way they are. I don’t always like to read back, but it always reminds me that once upon a time, I thought he was the one. I’m glad I wrote about it because it reminds me not to be a bitch to him, now most of the time.

I do believe my ten days two years of puke, mucous and shit entitle me to a little righteous indignation, but my 39 years should also grace me with enough maturity to be kind. I’m grateful that I gushed embarrassingly then, so that I can remember now to not say what does not NEED to be said.

I’ve learned a lot by being quiet. Leaving something unsaid is far more powerful than having the last word, and given how short life is, I sincerely hope that the words I leave with people on a daily basis, are kind.

Except Thomas. That guy can still go fuck himself.

Write on…

It’s been a long year. In fact…it’s been a long decade.

I finished planting my garden earlier than ever last year. My corn was a huge success for the first time! The pumpkin patch of my dreams, was a reality. Through morning and afternoon baby naps, I managed to get it planted and weeded. It was actually beautiful… but sobering. I CAN grow an acre of vegetables and bottle enough to feed an army, but I don’t NEED to. I’ve given up on the fantasy of my children loving to garden, and I remember clearly how much I hated it as a child. I’m determined to cut back this year so that it’s a blessing, not a burden.

I figured it may be relaxing to write again, if only for myself. I get the nicest emails from people, asking me why I don’t write anymore. I’m not sure how to answer that?

I’m a different person than I used to be. Growing up, and more importantly fucking up; changes you. I guess you could say that I finally learned from my mistakes. As a result of my relationship failing, finding myself as a single mother with a teenager AND a newborn and a side of heartache… I grew up. I’m slowly finding my footing again, while carefully choosing each step with the knowledge that the wrong one can have lasting consequences.

I’m a little sad to see my tiny one grow so fast and I miss her infancy when I see newborns. She lights the whole world up with her constant smile, hilarious laughter and baby chatter. I don’t know how we ever lived without the joy and love she brings to everyone and everywhere. She’s nothing short of magical. I’m that annoying friend on Facebook who shamelessly inundates everyone with baby pictures and videos.

The teenager is absolutely frustratingly normal. Most days I’m the stupidest person in the world and live purely to thwart her plans for part of the day, and her best friend the other half. I am proud of the young lady I know that she is, and hopeful she’ll escape our small town after graduation to pursue her dreams. I’m grateful for the friendship I have with her dad and step-mother.

All in all, and in every aspect; life has calmed down. The custody war has long ended and my relationship with my baby girl’s dad is peaceful and friendly. He’s dating an old friend and has moved back to Colorado to live with her. He calls regularly and I hang pictures of him around the house so she sees his face. She’s just begun to say Daddy. I’m grateful she will grow up surrounded with love, not hostility. I never dreamed in a million years that I’d be raising a baby alone, but I treasure every single second and appreciate that he does everything he can do from thousands of miles away.

We’ve learned to coexist, sleep, love and make the most of every moment in the last year. We’ve weathered financial devastation, laughed through a lot of creative pasta and rice dishes and have found a new-found peace in being carnivorous vegetarians. We all love a good steak but we can afford veggies, and I grew enough to feed us all winter.

Life has changed and it isn’t what I thought it would be, but it is absolutely joyous and full of everything simple and sweet that I treasure most.

The last vestiges of babyhood have been hard to pack away. A long-outgrown bassinet stands in the corner of my room, because I love it too much to part with it. Baby shoes, pacifiers and miniature socks clutter the top of my dresser. It’s a strange mix, no matter where you look. My black work apron, a few pens, a wine key and wilted gardenia still hooked by the bobby pin that held it in my hair all night. A school progress report for Little Red, lipgloss and an antique jar of buttons. My latest knitting pattern, some industrial foot cream for my mangled server feet and a stack of bills. As always, my crafts create a happy clutter that reminds me to take time to create. My vices are all healthy, and I am definitely guilty of being a little boring these days. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m only growing three varieties of tomatoes this year. I did away with my whimsical round garden and have practical, straight rows. I wouldn’t say I’m disenchanted… more so that I’ve gotten an epic reality check. I don’t want to be bitter and jaded, but my fairy-tales turn into nightmares when I least expect them to and my heart is not a good judge of character. Consequently… I have taken myself out of the pool, entirely, and permanently.

Never. Another. Boyfriend. I have two cats… and I’d be delighted to adopt a dozen more.

IMG_7334Being boring is awesome. ♥

The Holy Grail of Knitting Patterns

I learned to knit when I put my children through Waldorf school. My poor son hated knitting and would offer to trade me chores for my knitting his flute bag. I loved it. He did not understand.

I decided the first year that I’d learned to knit fairly well that I’d make them stuffed animals. I bought an adorable pattern on Ravelry, ordered beautiful yarn for each of them and sat down to whip them right out.

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Holy hannah… they were made with tiny needles and there were stitches I’d never seen and didn’t make sense to read. I got the first half done and ended up with a blue trunk/head object that looked like blue fuzzy scrotum. Ugh.

I’d already fantasized about  a darling matching set of hand-knit Elijah elephants dangling out of stockings on Christmas eve/morning. I knew I didn’t have time to spend the time getting them done by the holiday, so I started to search for someone that could make them. I Googled “knit animals, knit toys and knit for children… and found the most amazing and inspirational woman.

Julie Williams, of Little Cotton Rabbits.

Her blog popped up and I fell in love with her little English garden. I grew to admire her as I read about her knitting peacefully with her Autistic son. I loved how she spoke about her daughter. Most of all?

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I wanted one of her little animals so badly I was considering bribing someone who won to let me buy theirs. Julie was a mother and woman first and the demand for her beautiful creations far exceeded how many she could produce. People stole her ideas left and right and still, and whilst defending herself; she did the best she could to knit as many as possible. People began to complain the sales were rigged and whined that they were being intentionally denied an opportunity to have a coveted Little Cotton Rabbit. She would list them randomly and it was the basically the luck of who got there… but there did seem to be people who sat and did nothing but hit the refresh button in anticipation of her listing one for sale. I remember reading a comment from a woman that had three of them. I was instantly bitter and could not believe she would continue snatching the treasures up while some of us didn’t even have ONE yet! I realized I was obsessed.

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I was never lucky enough to win the opportunity to buy one.

She finally had to resort to using a random number generator to choose who got to the chance to buy one. I gave up.  She’s been the first link in my computer for years.

My ex got married a few years ago and my daughter was nervous about her first trip on an airplane without me. She was clingy weepy about it and I wanted to send something small and made with love to comfort her in my absence. I sat down with my needles and copied the bunny I coveted, to the best of my ability. It was absolute hell, but Bailey the Bunny was exactly what my baby girl needed to feel safe. I sprayed her tummy with my perfume and wrapped her in her suitcase. She loved her and I swore I’d never make another one…. until my favorite Aunt had a baby girl. I used the beloved Alpaca yarn I’d had stashed for a special project, and Vera the bunny was sent off with great love.

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I’ve tweaked my pattern over the years, but I always felt a little… wrong about the whole thing.

I’d absolutely copied her pattern as best I could- and it wasn’t to cheat her or avoid paying for something. I couldn’t buy one…. and she didn’t sell the pattern.

Bailey and Vera were gifts of great love and SO hard to knit… but more than that- I’d loved those cotton bunnies for so many years and wanted my little girls to have one.

Along those lines, I’m making all of my Christmas gifts this year and I’m determined to knit something for everyone. I would love to knit everyone something special, though I can’t imagine being able to pull it off this year.  I tucked a sleepy baby in my bathrobe and sat down with my tea this morning to look at patterns on Ravelry. I clicked on the Little Cotton Rabbits page and nearly fell off of my chair.

You can buy the bunny pattern.

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You can buy the dress pattern.

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There is a Santa Claus.

I bought them immediately and opened directly to the foot, which is knitting purgatory. Baby Quinn’s bunny still only has one leg. I read the instructions and nearly cried. It’s so perfectly neat and beautifully simple. Just like everything I’ve seen about Julie.

I’m both honored and excited to share this link. Go buy this pattern and fill the lives of the little ones you love…

With REAL Little Cotton Rabbits.

I’m still so excited I feel like Santa came early… and seeing the little foxes lets me know that someday… if I’m patient and wait my turn…

She’s going to sell the elephant pattern too.

I’m beside myself with geeky knitter joy that I can actually make my babylove a REAL rabbit, just like the beautiful creations Julie’s made that have evaded capture.

Now I can give my darling knitter friend S the link to the REAL pattern… because I still can’t find one of the 5 post-it notes I wrote my borrowed pattern on.

I’m so incredibly happy to be able to support such a wonderful woman. I have 2 bunnies already started and I’m happiest most of all that two of them will be dangling out of stockings this year!!!

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