Friday, March 22, 2013

Well, la dee da.

My mom wouldn't say "wow" or "Oh my gosh" or anything like that when she was pleasantly surprised when I was a kid. She could cuss like a Russian sailor who ran out of vodka when she was mad (though she doesn't remember that now), but her pleasantly-surprised phrase of choice was, "Well... la... deee... da."

I got one of those moments yesterday when I opened my e-mail, and it made me cry.

The fight with my husband a few weeks ago was the only one we've had since January 5, and things have been steadily improving. He listened to the things I insisted had to change and has been working to change them. He really hasn't helped much more with chores, but it's okay, because he's appreciative of what I do and doesn't focus on what's still to do. It's like a light came on and he understands now how much work there is all the time, and that it can't all possibly get done. He's kinder, he backs me up when I tell the kids to help, and he helps when he can. He's enjoying the kids more & our relationship has improved.

He has also been trying to counsel a young couple at church with two babies who are so in love but can't manage to be able to live under the same roof. At first, it was highly hypocritical, because he was still doing things that he was telling this young man to stop doing. But he'd occasionally ask how a behavior made me feel, because he was trying to get the guy to see what he was doing to his wife. My answers frequently began with, "Well, when you do that, I think/feel...", and he'd be surprised that I thought he did the same things. I'd give examples - gently and nonchalantly so as not to start an argument - then continue whatever I'd been doing, leaving him to ponder his revelation. Lately, though, I've been able to answer with, "Well, when you used to do that, I'd feel... but you haven't been doing that lately, so now I feel...". Apparently, this tact has worked, along with prayer and fasting.

So I wanted to share this blessing I received with you to remind you that prayer and perseverance do pay off, and that I appreciate your prayers for me.

This is yesterday's email from my husband. The subject line simply said, "You".

Talking to [our young friend] last night reminded me of all the stupid, self-centered, damaging things that I have done to you and our marriage. I don't know if I ever really apologized to you or told you how much I appreciate you.
I am sorry for ALL of the muck and junk that I dragged into our lives and made you deal with.  I don't know how you put up with it but I praise God that you did and are still here. I know it wasn't easy sometimes. I'm glad you are still my wife and best friend.
I do appreciate you and all that you do; around the house, taking care of the kids, teaching /training the kids and keeping me involved in everyone's life.
I love looking at you in the morning!
Have a blessed day!
Are you teary? I am. Again.
Praise the Lord.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Funny kid & Crazy Mema

Last night while I watched Castle, the characters were discussing a serial killer. And hour and a half past her bedtime, my six year old daughter walked in the den & overheard the Castle case.

"Mommy, I can't sleep. What's a serial killer?"
I answered, "He doesn't like cereal. He smooshes the boxes whenever he finds them. Cheerios, Rice Krispies, all of them."
She looked confused. "So... he doesn't like cereal, so he kills it? Dat's weird."
I win at parenting.


A few minutes ago my phone rang. I knew better than to answer it, because if it's dinnertime, it's my mother-in-law. Every single night. But I answered it.


"When G spends the night, he doesn't ever turn off the DVD player."

"OK." (Does she want him to do other things, not just watch DVDs?)

"He should turn it off because my body hurts."

"Um... okay." (What?)

"He left it on and I don't remember where the power button is and I've hunched over to try to find it so my knees hurt and neck hurts and arms hurt and all over my body hurts."

"Oh. Sorry. I'll tell him to turn it off before he leaves next time."

"Can he or your husband come tell me where it is?"

"They're both at men's Bible Study and won't be back until around 8:30. They can call you then."

"Oh, that'll be too late. E wants to watch a ball game at 8:00."

(E is my brother-in-law who is crazy, too, but mostly just as lazy as a $2 ho who's already got $10 in her bra. He also makes a sadistic game out of seeing how much he can get other people to do for him.)

So I ask, "Why don't you just tell E to find the button? His vision is fine."

"Oh, E doesn't do anything. He expects me to do everything for him all the time. So I guess I'll have to kneel back down and find it myself. You know if I kneel I can't get back up, right? <long sigh>"

"Yep; some days I can't walk, my knees hurt so bad. I guess if E wants to watch the game, he'll have to help find the power button."

"Well, you don't think your husband could leave Bible study early and come do it for me?"

(Church is 20 minutes due north. Her house is 30 minutes due east.)

"No, I don't think so. He's got to come home so G can go to bed on time - it's a school night, and he's got to get up for work at 5am. But I'll tell him to call when he gets home."

She hung up on me.

And she called back while I was typing this, but I didn't answer. I'm making dinner. Really, I am. Shut up. There's an egg boiling for the chef salad.

Knowing E, he was snickering through the whole conversation, knowing that he can manipulate his mother like that. Some days, I'm just proud of myself for not punching him at family events. Those two are the definition of co-dependant & enabler.


I'm going to go laugh at my funny children some more so I don't dwell. I'm so glad I have y'all to vent to.

Have fun, y'all!  :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

How to tell you're startin' to get old

                                                  YOUNG                             OLD

Hot bath means...              relaxing and shaving                 trying to make
                                         before a night out.                  knees not hurt.

Adding bath salts means... touchably smooth,                  epsom salts for
                                        vanilla-scented skin.                those knees.

Tweezing is for...               perfectly sculpted                  random wiry
                                         eyebrows.                             chin hairs that
                                                                                     grow an inch a night.

Lotion will...                      keep your golden                  make you think you won't
                                         tan from fading.                    wrinkle into a prune.

Soft skin is...                     tight and smooth.                  like an over-ripe peach.

Aphrodisiacs include...     strawberries and                    someone else doing the
                                        chocolate.                           dishes and leaving you
                                                                                   the heck alone.

Date night is...                  dinner with a glass                 Home Depot and
                                      of wine and a movie.               Books-A-Million.

Lotion smells like...          coconuts.                               BenGay.

I'm almost 35... and I seem to already be gettin' old. But it's okay. I'll take it over the insecurity of youth any day.  :)

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hangin' Tough

Yesterday morning, I introduced my children to the glory that is '80's music. They saw a video of  The Freedom Sound doing a spoof-compilation song of lots of different pop songs that all use the same four chords.

But my short people didn't know any of the songs.

YouTube to the rescue!

First, a-ha!'s "Take On Me."
Then MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This."
And then Boy George's "Karma Chamelion."

And so on, until they were so apalled by the comically horrifying fashion designs that they couldn't bear to watch anymore. I swear, they acted like they were being scarred for life.

Maybe they were. Looking at '80's fashion is like looking at a traffic accident. One involving a clown car. You can't look away, you feel confused, you know you shouldn't laugh. But you do.

The kicker was when I said, "That guy's name is Boy George."

To which they replied, "What guy?"

Exactly. "Him. Singing. That's a man."


They walked away, shaking their little heads.

M was not too thrilled when I pointed out that the boys in One Direction dress a lot like the New Kids, with their stupid striped pants. She objected to their hair and earrings, but not their clothes. She just thought it was odd. And she thought Joey was cute & Donnie was scary - just like I did when I was 10.

But what blows my mind is that the retro teens are trying to bring back what was torturous the first go-round. Yesterday afternoon, three teenage girls were walking in the neighborhood, smacking gum and talking so loudly that I could hear them inside my house. Their bangs were so big you ride a surfboard on them. Except for the one with the afro. And big hoop earrings & skinny jeans & big glasses & big baggy shirts? LEG WARMERS for cryin' out loud!!! They looked like Denise & Vanessa Huxtable plus a friend.

Gimme a break!

(Ooh. That was a good '80's show. Useless factoid of the day - Nell Carter was from Birmingham, AL.)

The only thing different was that they had iPods instead of Walkmans. (Or is it Walkmen?)

OH. And GET THIS. New Kids, 98 Degrees, and Boyz II Men are on tour together. Like, now. For real. What?!  And they're probably better now than they ever were, to be honest. Boyz II Men were always incredible, but I bet the other two bands can actually put out some quality harmonies since they're not trying to do dorky boy band dance moves. And I'm ashamed to admit, I might would be willing to go to one of those concerts. I didn't want to when I was in 6th-8th grades, but maybe now I'd enjoy it.

And Donnie's totally hot now.

So, now, I'm going to go play some Bell Biv Devoe.  That girl is poiiisonnnnnn!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

How The Fast Worked Out

At the beginning of January, I told my sister that I was done. Three of our four children were done. And as soon as the fourth child gave up on Dad, we would officially be done.

The next day, our pastor called us to fast. I did. My husband did. And an amazing thing happened. For the entire 21-day fast, we did not fight at all. He was kind. He was caring. He helped with chores. We enjoyed each other's company. The kids got along. It's amazing how the family dynamic shifts when you're not living in fear of receiving a screaming fit of rage. It was wonderful!

But I didn't let myself hope. Because we've had spurts of happiness along the way, and they always passed. They always petered out until he was sure he was a victim again, and everyone was supposed to serve him until he felt better. And if he didn't get his way, then he was entitled to show all of his feelings. "It's unhealthy to bottle up those feelings. I should be able to let it out so we can work through it." And he could never understand that the way he let himself think dictated his feelings, and the way he chose to express those feelings burned everyone around him. So I didn't hope.

His fast was from unhealthy foods that he couldn't seem to stop eating. Mine was from Castle boards, where I got the lion's share of my support/ distraction. He lost weight & felt better, and I had to learn to talk to him again instead of avoiding. (By the way, I gave up unhealthy foods like two years ago, and have lost 15 pounds total. He dropped 10 pounds in 3 weeks. SO not fair.) So he continued the diet (still calling it a fast), in order to maintain the health benefits. The difference, though, is that a fast is denying yourself something that you need in order to rely on God and let him work in you. So continuing to call it a fast did no good when he was no longer seeking God in times of temptation.

So through February, he quit helping. He cheated on his diet, so he didn't feel as good. He got grumpy. He got self-absorbed again. I could see it all dissolving and I cried. I guess I had started to hope, after all. So last Thursday, after he and two kids had stomach virus for three days each, and I felt sick but never actually got worse than a stomach ache for five days (but I didn't take a break) and I had dislocated my knee and couldn't walk for a day, the house had gotten messy. Not terrible, but messy.

He watched TV. I cleaned. He read. I made dinner. He came to me and said, "I'm not trying to upset you, but, you need to know that if I come home from work tomorrow and the house still looks  like this, I'm going to be a bitch all weekend." So I walked up to him and very calmly said, "I need you to listen and really hear me. I have worked my butt off, despite how bad I felt. I am doing the best I can. And you do not get to say one negative word about the house when you have not done a single thing to help in the last two weeks. That is not okay with me."

And he went apeshit.

Our 8 year old daughter was standing between us, because she was helping make dinner.

And he was a screaming, cussing, insulting mess.

Nine years of trying to stay calm and take the higher road has brought us to this point. Being reasonable, respectful, trying to listen to his point of view, hes not worked.
I said, "You will NOT talk to me like that."

He continued his tirade.

I yelled, "You will NOT talk to me like that."

He continued.

I marched up, threw down the bowl I was holding, and screamed, "YOU DO NOT EVER GET TO TALK TO ME LIKE THAT AGAIN. I WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO DISRESPECT ME LIKE THIS."

Our little girl ran out of the kitchen. And I told him what a self absorbed ass he was and that the kids didn't want to live with him anymore up until he started that fast. I'd been heaping praise on him, especially when he wasn't around to try and make the kids see his improvements so their relationships could heal, but I expected it to all go away, and I was right. He'd quit helping and now he's out of control again, and I would not stand for it anymore. I could not go back to the way things were. He had plenty of criticism and blame and excuses but finally quit yelling after about 15 minutes. We argued for a good 45 minutes. I continued making dinner all the while.

M came back in and hugged me, trying to make me feel better. She hates to see me cry, and she thinks it's her job to cheer me up. That broke my heart more than anything.

I served dinner, but didn't eat. The fight had left me with no appetite, and for some reason that seemed to bother him. "Venting" makes him feel better, but he always forgets that it crushes me.

After dinner, M decided to dance & sing & tell jokes to try and make me smile, so I just hugged her & apologized that she saw that. She said it was okay, that we hadn't fought all year, and he seemed to listen this time.

He sent me a scathing e-mail in the middle of the night for waiting until things "got explosive" to address problems, and that he's trying to do all the changing, but I'm not doing anything.

I ignored the e-mail. We cleaned house the next day, not for him, but because it needed to be done. The kids cooperated more out of fear that another fight would bring divorce. I guess that means their relationship with Dad has healed enough that they no longer wanted him gone.

He got home, and said it looked better (not nearly the overflow of praise I wanted after 5 people cleaning for 10 hours, but at least he said something). He apologized for making me cry and for not helping. He said he doesn't want to be the horrible man I described the night before, and he'd keep working on changing.

I said thank you and offered no apology in return.

And I went back to doing my best, trying my hardest, keeping the house, raising the kids, etc. He settled down. He apologized to M & told her he knows it was wrong to be so mean to me and that he knows he's got lots of changing to do. He hasn't helped with chores, but he hasn't criticized my work, either. He's been nice. He has spent time with the children, he's done the couple of things I specifically asked him to help with. I've given him his "cave time" when he gets home from work. I made sure to explain to the kids that our fight had nothing to do with them and everything to do with kindness and respect, and I let them know that I fought because I wanted things to be fixed instead of giving up.

And for the first time in a very long time, I feel like there might be hope. He finally heard me. After 9 years, I think he finally heard me. Plus, that's one fight in 7 weeks; so much better than our previous track record.

I'm still frustrated, because I don't think it should be this hard. I don't understand why we have to go through all this hurt. My kids don't need it. But I'm hoping that there will be great returns on the effort, and there will be something great later. Maybe we'll be one of those stories where we go tell young people how, if they stick with it, they'll end up with something remarkably beautiful. I hope.

(I'll post something funny in a few days. I'm tired of being a downer.)

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Dating Advice for my Daughters

Just so you know, I am no longer plotting my husband's accidental death. Not that I would have ever plotted that in the first place. Never crossed my mind.

But my children have been discussing of late to whom they shall be wed. Being that the twins are five (for one more week. Le sigh.), and that M is 8, they are far too young to be discussing such matters. Alas, they persist. (No, I haven't been reading sonnets. I don't know why I'm using flowery prose.)

So I started telling them tonight what they should be expecting from the ones who receive their hearts.

To BA, I said, "You are an awesome boy. You make sure you grow into being an awesome man," and, "You're my Super Hero. Do you know what your super power is? The power to make people laugh and smile. That's a very important power!"

To GA, I reminded, "You are beautiful. And you are a princess. You know why?"
She squealed, "Because I'm the daughter of The King!"
"Don't you forget it. That means you have to act as a princess, Daughter of The King, and you should expect to be treated as a princess, too."

To M, after she fussed about boys being stupid (which I simply could not make myself correct), I told her that a lot of them are. She can be friends with plenty of them, but to never date someone who seems just good enough. From there, I kinda rambled, giving what I hoped was sound (but basic) dating advice to counteract the terrible Prince Charming expectation that Disney Princess movies instill. Here's what I told her, plus a few more:

1. It takes a heck of a man to be better than no man. Don't settle for 'good enough.'  (Thanks to blogger "Jen"e Sais Quoi's mom for that one!)

2. When you find someone who is just so awesome that you feel lucky to get to be with him, AND he thinks you're so awesome that he feels lucky to get to be with you, then he's probably a good choice of someone to go out with.

3. You and the guy you go out with are both children of the Most High God. Act like it. And if he doesn't want to act like it, move on; he'll only drag you down.

4. If you like talking and spending time together, but you don't have common interests, move on. If you can't have fun together - biking, hiking, building stuff, whatever you enjoy - then you'll always be missing out. And if you don't even like each other's favorite hobbies, then there's unnecessary conflict already there. Find someone you can play with.

5. There's no place for insults in a caring relationship. Period. Not even sugar-coated ones or ones veiled in a joke.

6. There is no such thing as perfect on this side of Heaven. Don't expect perfection of yourself or of him; and make sure he doesn't expect perfection, either.

7. Relationships that are 50/50 don't work. You both have to give 100%. Do your best. Some days you best will be great. Some days it won't, especially if you're PMSing or pregnant. His best will fluctuate, too. Both of you should have high standards for your own selves, and you will be required to give grace to yourselves and each other.

8. Men need respect. Women need affection. Give your spouse what they need.

9. I'm already praying for y'all's future spouses and marriages. Regularly. Just so you know.

I'm sure I'll add more over the years, but that's the best I've got for them now. I think that if I drum this into their pretty little heads, then they'll be in the kind of marriages that I've been envying for the last 9 years. Because picking a spouse based on attraction and the pitter-patter of your heart is simply a bad plan.

Feel free to share, or comment and add your own.