Being Alone

As a parent you don’t get much alone time. You get the kids off to school, you go to work, you get the kids from school, you get them to activities, you get them home and to bed.  And you try to squeeze in spouse time and bills or housework.  At least that is how it could be for me.  So I learned to enjoy the drive to and from work.

I work 15 miles from where I live. In freeway time that is a 45 minute drive from September through March, and over an hour if there is an accident.  The rest of the year it’s about 30 minutes.  In the morning I turn on my favorite radio station and listen to the morning team, and the music they play.  On the way home I plug in my iPod, or listen to the CD Oldest One made me for a birthday gift.  It’s luxurious time alone, where no one needs me or wants me, and where I can transition from home to work, or from work to home.  I really enjoy my drive time, which is one of the reasons I don’t carpool or take the bus.  I’m selfish, and I won’t give up my time alone in the car.  Another plus is I don’t get upset with traffic delays, because I’m on me time.

As I’ve been at home since June I haven’t had the drive time. But something weird has happened; instead of enjoying the quiet of the house when I’m alone, and the me time, I now dislike being alone.  Too much time with just myself makes me sad, and a bit depressed.  I used to enjoy the brief bits of time alone in the house.  Now I just cringe.  I’m sure it has to do with medication (which I loathe taking) and the situation, but knowing that doesn’t help.

Husband had to go into work today. He’ll be gone about 3 hours.  Our work buildings are close to each other, so when I’m at work it’s a treat when he has to go in.  We drive in together in the morning, and drive home together in the evening.  He’s the one person I’ll give up my me time for.  Today he’ll have to pay to park (I drop him off and then park in my work space), and I’ll be alone in the house.  I have a book series I’m reading (yes, it was so good I allowed myself to buy book 2!), and of course blogs to read, but I can feel the loneliness setting in as soon as the front door closes.  It’s only a few hours!  Geez, show some backbone Broad!

I don’t like these new feelings, and want them to go away.  I want to enjoy time alone again in the quiet of the house.  I know I’ll get there again, once I am able to leave the house and get life back on track.  But right now, today, it’s not like that.  Maybe I’ll get the dogs riled up, barking and chasing each other.  It’s hard to be lonely when silly dogs are playing.

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Halloween is Coming!

Halloween is in a few days. I like Halloween.  I enjoy seeing the little kids dressed up cute, and I love the candy.  Oldest One and I have a thing for candy corn, which Husband and Little One think is very wrong.  I know you can buy candy corn all year, but it only feels right to eat it around this time.

I’ve done a lot of Halloweens with the girls. Oldest One wasn’t quite 2 months old for her 1st Halloween, and I dressed her up in a clown outfit my Mom bought to hand out candy.  Sometimes all of us dressed up, and sometimes only the girls.  It was always a big deal at the beginning of October to talk about costumes, and figure out what to get.

I love looking at the pictures of past Halloweens. Little One wore a great lady bug costume one year that Husband made huge wings for.  They both spent a couple of years in the toddler blue and purple clown outfit, complete with a shiny blue tinsel wig and lipstick red nose.  Little One went as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz one year, and she looked just like her, except her skirt was sparkly.  Sparkle and glitter are very important for my girls.  One year I ordered a pirate costume for Oldest One, which was too short when we got it, so she had to wear shorts underneath to not flash everyone.  Last year, her senior year, I bought her the Sandy from Grease outfit of black leather pants and the black shirt.  I curled her hair, and she looked amazing.  Her friend dressed as Danny, and they were so cute together.

This year Little One was supposed to be cheering a football game on Halloween, but parents and athletes weren’t too happy with that (I was fine, candy is expensive!) so the game was moved to Thursday. Little One isn’t sure what she is going to do, but all I know is she has no costume, and time is running out, and teenage girls can get very upset if the costume isn’t right.  Husband has to go buy candy, but that is the easy part.  Oldest One needed 3 costumes, but traded with friends so we didn’t have to buy all 3.  I’m hoping to see pictures, but since she was a cat at the sorority meeting last night, and I didn’t get sent anything, I’m probably not going to.

I think I understand why those whose kids have left home might not be as excited about Halloween. It reminds you of the fun you used to have dressing the kids up and taking them out, and that those days are over.  That everyone is getting older, including you.  That time marches on, no matter how much you try to slow things down and live in the minute.  That those pictures taken through the years are worth more than any artwork.

Well, I think right now I’m going to go get my valuable artwork, and spend some time with it. And then eat some candy corn.  And brace myself for the costume chat with Little One.  Because I want to be fully in the moment this year, and remember it always, so feeling sad is tempered with feeling grateful all of us made it through sane.

The Hovering Helicopter

Helicopter Parents. I’ve read articles about them, and how not to be one, and I try.  I’m sure in some ways I am, because I worry about the girls.  But I’ve always tried to let them solve their own problems, because I won’t always be able to help.

When Oldest One was in 6th grade – I think – she ran for a class office.  We made posters, and helped her write her speech…the usual parent things.  Problems came about when the girl she was running against started to take Oldest One’s signs down and put them in the trash, and started bad mouthing her.  Oldest One told us about it, and that the principal had called the other girl in, and her parents were called.  We talked about it, and how she felt, and what she could do about it.  Ultimately the other girl won, and Husband bought a beautiful vase filled with flowers for Oldest One to cheer her up, and which did put a smile on her face.  A co-worker berated me the next day, saying I should have made a big deal of what the other girl did, and I should have demanded she be taken out of the running.  Basically, she was saying I didn’t do enough.  I told my co-worker I could have done all of that, but what would my child have learned?  Life isn’t always easy, people aren’t always nice, and you don’t always win.  Better for her to find those things out now, and learn to cope, then to be a 20-something having a major meltdown at her first job.  Oh, and Oldest One went on to hold offices in high school, so, yes, it all worked out.

This was all brought to mind as I texted Oldest One today. Although she went and paid her parking ticket last week, it is still showing on her Bursar account.  I have to pay the balance on the account today, and I’m not including the ticket, since I know it’s paid.  I texted her to remind her to go to the Bursar’s Office with the receipt to have them remove the ticket charge.  She is busy today, can she go tomorrow is what I received as an answer.  She can, but there might bet a late charge, so I told her she needed to make sure it was removed along with the ticket.

Could I call the Bursar’s office myself? I could, although since she is 18 I don’t know if they would talk to me.  But I don’t want to.  She needs to start handling this stuff herself.  I’m reminding her, but ultimately she has to do it herself.  She needed to go to Student Health, so I told her to take her insurance card, pay for the visit with her debit card, and I’d put the money in her account to cover it.  Because she is old enough to make the appointment herself.  She still needs our help, and our advice, but she is at college now, and needs to start doing things and figuring out things.  I haven’t talked to any professors or her advisor, because I shouldn’t.  I don’t want to either.  But I’ve suggested she do it, when the situation seemed to indicate it would help, and she did, and it was a good result for her.

Letting go is tough. Kids grow up too fast for us parents, and our instinct is to throw our arms around them and protect them from the world.  Doing everything for them is one of the ways to do this.  But it doesn’t help the kids grow and learn, and understand what to do next time.  I’m always just a phone call away, and I’ll always stop what I’m doing to listen and to chat.  But it’s time for her to start making her own appointments, and to figure out how to get the Bursar to remove a charge that has already been paid.  Bigger challenges are on the way, and if we don’t give our kids a chance to conquer the little stuff, how can we expect them to be prepared for just living?

My Little One

I love watching Little One cheer. She completely lights up, and she is charged with energy.  Cheer coaches have told me how electrifying she is when she is “on”.  I like that she has so much fun doing it, and that it makes her happy.

I remember her very first cheer competition, when she was in 2nd grade.  She had spent the previous year watching her big sister do competitive cheer, and she couldn’t wait to join a team.  She was super nervous when the day came to compete, and she wouldn’t smile at all until it was all over.  I have a great picture taken of her right after it was over, and she has a big smile on her face.  That entire first year she couldn’t smile or do facials while competing until we were at nationals.  The very last competition of the season she finally smiled while doing the routine.  It was great!

I have always done her hair for cheer, except now she is so tall I need her to sit in a folding chair in the bathroom. She does her own make-up now, and likes to make sure there is some sparkle to it that the lights of the football field will pick up.  When the cheer team takes a water break, or has a break after their half-time routine I’m lucky to get a brief kiss in passing, because she has so many people to talk with.  That’s okay, because I’m just happy to be at the game to watch her cheer

She isn’t doing competitive cheer this year, due to my medical issues and her knee problem. She’s in a high level tumbling class once a week though, which she loves, and I’ll probably give in and let her take a 2nd one after the first of the year.  She comes home so happy, with such a big smile, ready to sit down and tell me all about the class and her accomplishments.  I look forward to that.

I tease Little One that she can’t go to the same university as Oldest One, that she has to live at home and go to the local university. She isn’t having any of it.  I told her to have fun in high school.  She can look forward to college, but she needs to live high school, and make good memories.  She can’t wait for her senior trip, and to start having the experiences she’s seen her big sister have.  I wouldn’t mind spending another hour with the 2nd grader who just finished her first cheer competition.

Bad Girl for Volunteering!

At Oldest One’s University there is an Alternate Breaks program, where during spring break student’s go to different cities and work with the homeless and underserved populations. I had told Oldest One about this program last year, and she recently applied to take part in it.  She was accepted into the program across the country, which costs a bit more than those in states closer to us.

We were still fine with it, since the program gets grants and solicits donations to make the fee the students have to pay very low. It is a fraction of what we paid for her Costa Rica trip.  And, since there are a couple thousand kids that apply, and she got chosen, we are also very proud of her for getting a spot.

She set up a GoFundMe page to try and get donations to help pay for the trip. She posted it to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  I only have Facebook, and I shared it asking anyone who wanted to support her to please donate.  Most people either ignored it or commented they thought it was great she was doing this.  Except for one person.

A family member’s fiancé, who tends to be negative (one day I’ll tell you all the story about meeting her…Oy Vey!) commented “Why leave the state to help the homeless? Couldn’t you help locally??”  Oldest One does help locally, and through University groups does volunteer projects to help the underserved populations.  I was just amazed that someone could look at her trip, and make it seem like a bad thing to be doing.

Oldest One could have asked us for money to go to Florida for spring break, where I’m guessing things go on I don’t want to know about. But instead she asked to go as part of a college program and spend her break helping those having a rough time of it.  Yeah, she is a rotten kid.

Oldest One answered the comment before I did, in, as one of my friends said, a very mature and articulate way. She very nicely pointed out that she will be able to do more, having an entire week, and that she will be able to interact with them in a very different way than when she only gets a few hours.  And she also pointed out how many students weren’t able to be a part of this.  My comment was how proud we were she wanted to help people on her spring break instead of partying.  Not surprisingly, the negative commenter didn’t say anything else.

With all the stories we hear of kids the age of Oldest One doing idiot things, and being narcissistic, you’d think Oldest One would get this person’s support for getting into this program and for wanting to do this. It shows a different side of this age group, and one I’ve seen in a lot of kids, that they care, want to make a difference, and are worried about the plight of others.

I didn’t delete the comment, or de-friend this person, even though several people told me I should. That she is negative and possibly narrow-minded is her loss.  I also don’t know how to de-friend someone, and I’m too lazy to figure it out.  I support my daughter, and many other people do also.  I’m proud of her, and excited for her that she has this opportunity.  One Negative Nellie isn’t going to change that.  Oldest One, and Little One too, are going to help make the world a better place.

Pet Therapy

Being stuck in the house and sitting in the recliner all day can drive a person crazy. I don’t think I’m quite to that point, but some days are harder than others to not be able to get outside and see people.

Luckily, I’m easy to entertain and I have pets. I’ve mentioned that we have 2 dogs, 2 cats and a bunny.  I don’t do much with Bunny, because she is Little One’s, but I love to watch her when she is out of her cage hopping around the house, thumping, and scaring the other animals trying to make friends.  You just haven’t lived if you haven’t seen a bunny go up or down stairs.

Fat Gray Cat has been depressed with Oldest One at college. Before she left Oldest One spent 2 weeks sleeping in the same t-shirt to leave for Fat Gray Cat to lay on.  And she did, all day, for about the first month.  Oldest One has left before, but not for too long.  When Fat Gray Cat realized she wasn’t coming back I was the recipient of her affections.  She would jump onto my head as soon as I got into the recliner each morning and demand to be pet.  And then when she felt she had been pet enough and wanted to thank me she would rip some skin off with her teeth or claws.  I try to take pictures each day and Snap Chat them to Oldest One, who misses her baby.

The dogs are always good at cheering me up. White Shaggy Dog, in a perpetual state of confusion, is the best.  He jumps up on Husband’s recliner, right next to mine, and hangs between the two chair arms for me to pet him.  He doesn’t like me to look at him when I pet him (he gets embarrassed), so I look at blogs or FaceBook.  White Shaggy Dog grunts and groans in happiness when he gets pet, and when he falls asleep he snores.  He furiously wags his tail when I talk to him, and he is good for a hug when I feel sad.

Silver & Black Dog is a bit more aloof. She needs to sleep in the pantry most of the day, where the pets’ food and water is, and where the doggie door is.  She will alert us when one of the sketchy (to her) cats comes in by barking and hopping around.  Silver & Black Dog loves to have her tummy pet, and she will lay right by or on me all day as long as I pet her.  She gets super excited when we leave and come back, even if we only left for 5 minutes.  I love how she welcomes us home, leaping around, giving little cries and wagging her little tail stump as fast as she can.

Last is Tuxedo Cat. She spends a lot of time outside patrolling our house and some of our neighbors to make sure no gophers think to move in. She purrs all the time.  She is Little One’s cat, but she is always happy to come lay on me so I can pet her.  For hours.  The only bad thing about her is she sheds, so Husband can’t pet her.  Tuxedo cat is scared of Fat Gray Cat, but good friends with Bunny, the only one not afraid of her.

I’ve gone on way too long about my pets, but they have really helped me feel better being stuck in the house. There is something so wonderful about petting a dog, cat or bunny that makes you feel better, and makes the world look better.

Loving the Laughter

Husband always makes me laugh. I rarely get mad at him, but when I do it really isn’t worth it because he’ll give me a little while to be grumpy then make me laugh, and you just can’t be mad at someone who is making you laugh.  Try it.  You’ll see.

He especially loves to make me laugh when we are going to bed. We rarely go right to sleep, we usually chat for a while.  Even now, when I’m here with him all day, bedtime is when we often have our best conversations.  Unless I’m laughing so hard I can’t talk, in which case it’s me gasping and him talking, seeing how long until I need to run to the bathroom.  Hey, I’m mid-40’s, gave birth twice, and it is what it is.

Last night before I got into bed I grabbed one of the water bottles on my nightstand to take a drink. It was the “older” one, and been sitting there a couple of days.  I opened it up, took a big swig, and then the smell of the bottles inside hit me.  I have no idea why it smelled like a sewer, but I wasn’t going to swallow what was in my mouth.  So I spit it back into the water bottle.  Which has that really small opening.  Which meant that the water actually landed on my pajama top, the floor, and the bed.

I have no idea when Husband looked over, but when I looked up he had the “what the heck are you doing” look, and he was off. I was then wet, laughing, trying to put socks on, and unable to do much more than lay there and laugh as he kept going on about this.  I know I’m not describing it well, but trust me, he knows my buttons, when to push them, and how to keep me laughing.

Even now I’m laughing thinking of last night. It’s a good feeling to smile and laugh, and I’m so glad Husband likes to make me laugh.  I can’t imagine our lives without all the laughter and silliness, and I hope one day the Girls, when they are around 30, will experience this with their husbands.  Life is too short to not laugh as often as possible.