Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bow Chica Bow Whatever...

I apologize to my regular readers who might get a bit squeamish about this post, but I'm going to talk about sex in this one.  Using euphemisms, of course, because at heart I'm still that 14 year old girl in my Catholic school uniform, but I've found myself thinking about K and I in that arena this morning on the way into the office and thought I'd drop a few thoughts down on the old blog.

While K and I often get offline when it comes to logistics, family stuff, etc., we tend to stay on track, if you will, in the bedroom.  I found long ago that when he's happy in that area, he tends to help out a lot more around the house and with the kids. We also tend to be much more connected emotionally when we connect at that more primal level.

K is certainly not a hand holder or overly romantic kind of guy.  He does however like to linger over hugs, though, and simple moments of affection often turn into a grope or need for more on his end. Lately, this drives me bonkers.  Especially if it's when the kids are still up, or when they've all gone to bed and I finally have some physical distance from them.  At this time, I NEED NO ONE TO TOUCH, TALK OR GO ANYWHERE NEAR ME.  I capitalized these last words, because that is often the level of desperation I'm at to have a break from EVERYONE IN OUR FAMILY.

Unfortunately, this includes an often horny, just trying to get a little something, something 44 year old guy.  I totally get that biological need and probably emotional need that he has, but seriously it is usually the exact opposite of what I'm feeling and my response is often not very nice.  When it is nice, it's usually just a promise of "later, after I make lunches, clean the kitchen, fold laundry, get some work done."  By the time my laundry list of stuff gets done, which most times includes watching some escapism tv and reading, I'm physically exhausted.  Even if sex was on my radar, I'm too tired to even roll over.

When I do garner enough energy, I'm always happy I did.  After almost 18 years of marriage that is definitely something we have perfected. I don't want to be an ice queen who often gets to the point that any human touch might send me over the proverbial edge.  And I certainly know the benefits of keeping him happy...the dishwasher gets emptied without asking, dishes get done, his whole demeanor is better.  My focus is most days is on being a good mother, and often my role as wife falls to the bottom of the list.  Sex is a great stress release, but I'm usually too stressed to have sex (if that makes any sense at all).

As I was typing this up, he just sent me a few flirty emails.  Silly stuff, but the first sign in knowing what's coming down the pike later tonight.  Frankly, all I want to do tonight is watch Greys Anatomy and switch off between Elementary and Parenthood while folding laundry.

Wait, isn't there Thursday night football on?  Maybe I'm off the hook :).

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Between a Rock...

We are starting to come to head with CA with issues with the little girls.  Sister C and I have been talking on the phone and in person in the last 2 days about our worries about MG (age 7), in particular, but the girls' overall well-being.

According to CA, MG is being referred to a psychiatrist because her therapist she was seeing says she can't do anything else for her.  We got this information from my dad, and none of it makes sense.  She is supposedly having huge meltdowns and "spiralling out of control" since my grandfather died in April and father's day.  None of this makes logical sense.  She supposedly has no issues in school and whenever we see her, which isn't that often, she seems completely fine.  The "fits" CA describes sound exactly like a 7 year old tantrum when she doesn't get her way.

What is most disconcerting is that we get no information from CA about MG.  I think she feels so defensive about sharing with us, that we are left in the complete dark.  Unfortunately, though, what she does share with us just doesn't make any sense.  C and I are both raising kids the exact same age AND I've gone through that age 2 other times. None of the anecdotes make sense and at times it appears that she is projecting adult feelings and reactions to a kid.

The strange thing also is that we never hear anything about KT, whose social behavior with the other cousins is often unsettling. 

My mind at 3am starts running down explanations for what is really going on.  Is she having issues?  Why is she still having such severe problems when her original therapist (someone we trust implicitly) graduated her from therapy over 2 years ago.  Is something going on at home that we don't know about?  What about the creepy nanny that we all can't stand?  Is all of this just a bunch of lies from CA in order to get attention and sympathy from all of us? 

The big problem is that we (C, S and I) feel completely paralyzed.  If we try to approach CA about it, we all worry it's going to backfire again and she'll pull the girls further away.  I can't afford to do this again for E and M's sake.  My parents are absolutely no help at all.  C got screamed at by both my parents last night when she mentioned to them her doubts about CA's explanations.  My mom's mental health right now is so fragile that she wants to live in la la land and not want anything to be wrong.

I could stick my head in the sand with a perfectly reasonable excuse of having too much on my plate.

But these little girls are E and M's sisters.  They are my sweet, funny nieces who didn't deserve any of this and do deserve and happy, fun-filled childhood.

They are Jeanne's babies.

The one thing I do know is that I'm sick of worrying and complaining.  Something needs to be done and I hope we have the courage as a family to address it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Mother's Guilt and a Family Affair

Saturday night, as A and I walked through the pouring rain, trying to dodge huge puddles while I carried the umbrella and he manned the flashlight, we started talking about the comedy of errors that led us to that sopping baseball field.

"It's basically been a family affair Mom...everyone contributed, but I still think it's D's fault."

It all started with a typical Saturday around these parts with D and L both having baseball games AND pictures, and L having a soccer game sandwiched in between.    D's game was very early, so the day started with early rising and making sure that I had all of the various uniforms and gear for L's transitions between sports.

Oh, and we had snack for L's baseball game, which plays an important role later on.

D had a great baseball game, pitching three great innings, hitting two doubles, scoring three runs and making some other great infield plays.  He was really stoked.  L and I left early from the baseball game to rush over to his soccer game in which he was equally fierce.  I swear, that kid is SO tough and works so hard running up and down that field.  He had three great goals and was also very happy with his game.  After the game, he and I swapped uniforms in the car, while K and D went to grab a sandwich and pick up the snacks for L's baseball pictures and game.

At this point, everything was running like clockwork and I was secretly patting myself on the back for managing the logistics.  (on the backside it's important to note that I arranged E's pickup from the airport for a college recruiting trip and the other two minions were fed and occupied). 

L and his cousin W both had some great hits and fielding plays and loved batting back to back with their "cousin" bombs into the outfield.  D came back to the game with his dad because his friends were playing on a field next to his brother's. He walked up to me sitting in my green, sideline chair and handed me his itouch. I have told him a million times NOT to bring his touch to games, the beach, etc. and once again he didn't listen.  I told him as much and then he placed the touch in the cup holder of the chair.

Game over, I went over to bring the kids snacks, while K wandered over to the majors game next door to watch D's friends.  I hustled L through getting his gear together, grabbing the leftover snacks, because we (me, K, A and M) had to get home to get ready for the b'nai mitzah of a boy on A's team and his sister. 

Are you still following?  I was rushing because we all needed to shower AND I still had to iron A's shirt.  While walking out, I arranged with one of the dad's of D's friend to let him stay till the game was over and give him a ride home.

Again, virtual patting on the back occurred as we all pulled up to the country club right on time where the b'nai mitzvah was taking place, looking lovely and ready to enjoy the evening.  And enjoy it we did with the moving ceremony, great food and fun dancing.  A and M had a blast.

We got home around 8:45 and D asked me where his itouch was.  I immediately said, oops, must still be in the car with the green chair. As I walked into the garage I yelled back over my shoulder, "D I've told you over and over you shouldn't bring this thing to games!"  I opened the hatch and, as I'm sure you've figured out, the green chair wasn't there.  I'd left it at the field.

D started crying and went into his bed.  I yelled for A to change quickly and we'd headed over to the field to see if it was there.  At this point, it was pouring down rain and had been for several hours.  I hoped that I had just left the chair in it's bag next to the spot where I parked and that the touch would be okay.  I also thought we could use the rice trick and dry it out if it was caught in the rain.

Much to our dismay, we found my chair sitting exactly where I had left it, and no itouch.  Someone had taken it.

I got home and felt terrible.  He loves that thing.  We got it for him when he turned 10 as a way to try to show him that we thought he was a grown up boy and in an attempt to break him out of the funk he was in at the time.  It is such a stress relief for him.  He listens to music, checks sports scores, texts with his friends (under my supervision) and plays fun interactive games with his soccer buddies.

Somehow, I got myself to sleep knowing that I had an early morning drive an hour away in MD the next day for soccer.  I woke up at 3am, however, physically feeling awful.  I could not go to sleep.  The anxiety was terrible.

So I did what every logical person would do at 3am and ordered him a refurbished itouch from the same generation on ebay for $129.  I even bought him another VT silicone cover on amazon.  As I clicked the buttons, I felt a calmness come over me and the physical symptoms left.  I was able to read on the couch for a few minutes and then fall right asleep when I went back up.  I went completely against all of my parenting instincts, but at that point I would do anything to stop feeling the way I was feeling. The thought of him not having it for 3 more months pushed my mommy guilt in major overdrive.

The next morning, I started to tell him about my middle of the night purchase when he said, "I know it was my fault Mommy, I can wait till Christmas."  I could have kept my mouth shut, but I told him what I had done.  We are going to work out a contract for his behavior to see if this will be an incentive to keep the touch.  I'm crossing my fingers.  I'm not sure what I'm going to say to the other kids.  I also haven't told K yet (he's in a totally stressing about money mode lately).  Not sure how I'm going to swing that one. 

While it was D's fault, it was also totally my fault for leaving the chair.  He is only 11 after all.  K also dropped the ball by not helping me get things together after the game.  A even added (dripping with sarcasm) that if I didn't have to iron his shirt that I wouldn't have been rushing.  Hence, the family affair.

I'm proud of D for processing the situation overnight and taking some blame.  He did show me how grown up he can be.  I'm not very proud of my parenting in this situation, but can forgive myself for once again doing the best I can do at the time.  I think holding him to some changes in his actions around here might work.

Mommy guilt and a crazy schedule can create a formula for a hopefully minor parenting blunder.  It's at least nice to see my little boy smiling that his mommy did something just for him that didn't involve laundry, feeding or driving.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Yesterday was a very scary and sad day in our area.  Once again our country was faced with an active shooter incident and this time it was close to home.  A lot of us spent the day sending texts to make sure friends and loved ones were safe and accounted for.

It struck me, as I was dropping off D at practice last night and jumping in and out of facebook throughout the day, how people need to make a connection to the event when a tragedy happens. 

A good friend walked up to me at the field and commented that the NAVSEA building hosted one of her clients.  She had posted it earlier on facebook and I noticed another friend commented that her husband's clients were in building 197 too.  As I walked through the field to get D from baseball and off to soccer, I overheard pockets of conversation about who they knew there and how they experienced this sad and terrifying day. It reminded me of how people re-tell their "where were you" stories from September 11th.

I felt compelled to mention to my friend that my brother-in-law was 6 blocks away and was also on lockdown, and that the husband of a third grade teacher at our school whose son is A's best friend was in the building.  He was feet away from the gunman.  He heard him click his gun.  The other connections to the tragedy came easily.

K saw all the police cars rushing to the scene on his way to work only a few miles away.

I have been on the Navy Yard installation many times.  I worked a few blocks from the main gate.  One of the pictures shows a man lying in the street right next to my old building. I've walked those streets on the tv screen constantly many times.

My client's whole existence is based on the shooting at Ft. Hood.  I read about and study acts of terrorism, violence and the things we do to mitigate them every day.  The terms "shelter-in-place" and "active shooter" are part of my daily lexicon.

However, nobody directly related to me was killed or actually there.  Why did I feel the need to make a connection to the tragic event and share that with others?  In some ways it becomes the Kevin Bacon game or how many degrees of separation we can achieve.

It also, of course, reminded me of the accident.  Perfect strangers have come up to me to establish the connection to my sister or the girls.  Other people mention to me that another person has told them all about the accident and their own story and remote connection our family.  I still get the "we're praying for all of you" from people I don't even know.  It feels intrusive, like they are taking a piece of our tragedy and making their own.  It drives me crazy.

Didn't I do the same thing yesterday?  Is this simply human nature?  Despite my very real connections to yesterday's events, this was not my tragedy.  I am not sitting at home reeling in the first moments of shocking grief wondering how this could have happened.

M doesn't like to tell people her story.  While most people know that I am her aunt, we still sometimes feel the need to explain that I'm not her mom and the boys aren't her brothers.  Recently, we've been dealing with it on her new soccer team.    As 13 year girls will do, some of her new teammates have gotten upset hearing the news and there was a crying incident at soccer camp this summer.  This infuriates M. 

"I don't understand Aunt Peg.  I'm not crying so they don't need to.  It's not THEIR story, it's mine."

I'm determined from this point on as more about the Navy Yard shooting unfolds NOT to make this my story.  I feel for those families that lost a loved one in such a senseless act.  I certainly know how that feels.  I also will try to send positive thoughts to those families who sat for hours wondering if their loved ones were safe.  I hope for healing for those who actually lived through the day both as first responders and Navy Yard personnel.

I'm going to learn from my very wise niece.  It's not my story.  We can only handle one tragedy around these parts anyway.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

There is no manual

I tend to write a significant amount on this blog about my challenges with parenting the girls.  When I talk about the boys, it's usually a quick snippet of pride or cuteness or vacation smiles.

This will not be that post.

I am really struggling with our 11 year old D.  Outside of our house, he is the perfect child. At school, all we hear about from his teachers and peers is how kind he is, what a good student he is, how responsible and well-behaved he is.  On the sports field, we get constant feedback on what a great player he is, not because of his natural athletic ability, but his work ethic and what a great teammate he is.  He's got wonderful friends.  He loves his little cousins and goes out of his way to teach all of them his "fist bump" or high fives.  He's funny and interesting and silly.

Within the four walls of our house (or in the car on the way home), however, it is a different story.  In short, he is driving me crazy. He doesn't listen...EVER.  I have to repeat myself twelve times to get him to do what I ask.  Most of these things are simple tasks.  Go to bed.  Eat your breakfast, lunch, dinner. Stop leaving your baseball, soccer, (name another sport) stuff by the front door, family room floor, or kitchen floor instead of on your designated shelf.  Get out of the shower (after 30 minutes).  Go to bed.  Stop reading the paper, playing your itouch, checking scores on the computer and get in the car, got to bed, eat your dinner, or do your homework.  You see the pattern.

All of these seem like typical parental complaints.  Kids aren't little robots and expected to follow directions to 100% perfection.  I get that.  But if he would just do it 50% of the time our lives would be so much easier.  What is more difficult to handle is how he treats everyone in the family.  He simply CANNOT stop bugging everyone, especially in the car.  Touching them, teasing them, getting in everyone's personal space.  Last week, I had to tell him to sit in the car with his feet on the floor, hands folded in his lap and eyes closed so he wouldn't be tempted to tease his little brother sitting next to him or his cousins behind him.  He is exhausting.

At times he just seems so angry.  He is the middle child on steroids given our new family situation.  He just wants to be noticed and it doesn't matter if it's negative or positive.

My guilt is on serious overdrive on this one.  He was 7 when Jeanne and Mike died. He knew exactly what was happening and saw all of us fall apart.  He had diarrhea, wet the bed and clung to me whenever I was around.  I don't think I really addressed this at the time since I was trying to keep our household running while helping with the girls. I wasn't the best mom in the first 9 months after the accident, and then his cousins moved in causing all kinds of turmoil.  He was just a little boy.  He still is a little boy. Despite knowing all these things, my typical reaction to him is frustration, anger, and yelling. He knows exactly how to push all of my buttons and I let them all be pushed.  Ugh.

At back-to-school night last week, his religion teacher pointed out a project their class had on the wall.  Each student was asked to cut out three leaves from construction paper, writing an adjective to describe themselves on each of them.  A fourth leaf was created to write down a time when they knew God is with them.  I scanned the wall as the other parents filed out to the next class, trying to find D's leaves.  I noticed other students' work.  "God is with me when I take tests."  "God is with me when I play baseball." "God is with me when I try something new."  All typical, mundane 11 year old items.

I found D's first three leaves.  Adventurous.  Kind.  Hardworking.  Definitely three words I'd used to describe D.  Tears welled in my eyes as I read the fourth leaf.

"God was with me when my aunt and uncle died and when my great-grandfather died."

My sensitive boy.  When I still want to scream "Fuck you God!!  Where were you??!!" my wise pain in the ass points out that he knows God was with him at those times.  And, once again, I get the reminder of how the accident profoundly affected my kids.

I'm not sure what to do about D.  In my head, I know why he might be acting the way he is.  For some reason, though, I'm having a hard time breaking the cycle and usually my frustration wins out over reason or at least a cooler head.  Our crazy schedule and the sheer number of kids definitely doesn't help the situation. I sometimes wonder if the boys are still having delayed reactions to the trauma.  Their needs have certainly always seemed to be pushed aside to the more acute and, frankly, louder needs of the girls.  There are moments when D is especially being difficult that I can still see that little seven year old through his deep blue eyes. Scared. Angry. Sad.

I am probably the millionth blogger to write this statement: PARENTING IS HARD! There is no customized manual for each kid.  While I'm still questioning my faith in all of this, maybe I need to follow in D's steps a bit and try to feel God's presence in the times of struggle.  Maybe this recognition will give me the calm and understanding I need to tackle my difficult boy.  At this point, anything is worth a shot.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


We were talking tonight at dinner about monthly family dinners my sister and I are trying to get going.  M was wondering why we're doing them and I explained that we just want to try to make sure we get together a little more often as a larger family.  E followed up with, "it would be nice to see MG and KT more than once every two months like it's been lately."  Sad, but true.

Then A said, "When are we doing the balloons again?"  A simple observation.  E explained to him that not till October 24th.  He shrugged and said, "Oh yeah. It kinda feels like that time of year though doesn't it?"

Moments later I was driving in the car to elementary back-to-school night for L with my mind starting to follow the familiar road of memories propelled by A's comment. Car crashes. Disbelief.  Pain.

Then I passed the cemetery.

At the same time "Lover's Eyes" by Mumford and Sons came on my Ipod.

But do not ask the price I paid,
I must live with my quiet rage,
Tame the ghosts in my head,
That run wild and wish me dead.
Should you shake my ash to the wind
Lord, forget all of my sins
Oh, let me die where I lie
Neath the curse of my lover's eyes

I tried valiantly to hold the tears in, but finally let the floodgates open,   My body shaking and feeling my stomach drop and the physical pain of my loss.  It's still strange the way it hits me sometimes even almost 4 years later.  I pulled myself together by the time I reached the school parking lot, thankfully a few minutes early.  The release of tears breaking the physical manifestation of my raw feelings like a massage releasing a knot in your muscles.

Grief sucks.