5 years

My baby girl is turning 5 in a few short hours. I am not prone to sappy Mama type posts since on some level I don’t do sappy, more like sassy. But as I get ready to celebrate 5 years of this beautiful girl’s life I realized while I love her and wouldn’t trade her for anything, she has tested me as a human.  But not all tests are bad in fact in many cases they can help us grow.

When I was pregnant with her I dreamed that she’d be a child similar in temperament to college boy, in other words laid back. In my mind I saw us doing sweet activities together, sharing hugs and kisses on the couch, creating projects and so on. Well, that’s not the kid I got, rarely is there a drama free day without one of us raising our voice or breaking down in tears, she taxes me to my very core and pretty much all the parenting advice I have ran across when it comes to my girl makes for great toilet paper. She marches to her own beat and in learning to parent the child I have rather than the one I wanted I am more secure now as an adult marching to my own beat.

Happy Birthday kidlet! Thank you for choosing me as your mother to guide you on planet earth!

Got vice?

Lately when I am not bemoaning all the shit going down in my life or working hard to stay cool. I have noticed that it’s no longer acceptable to have bad habits or vices. One especially does not wish to let the world know they have any vices if they are a parent because good gravy parents must be perfect. We must model exemplary behavior lest our progeny be doomed to a lifetime of good psychotropics and an even better therapist.

So what brought this on you ask? Well yesterday when I was waking up and checking in on some of my good time-wasting sites online, the issue was raised of how many people would admit to eating fast food on a regular basis?  I actually saw someone say that fast food is so reviled that people would sooner admit to smoking rather than admitting the Colonel calls out their name with some crispy chicken, or even better that the smells at McDonald’s occasionally lures them in, come on you know the fries smell good. I swear every time I go past a McD’s for a moment I think french fries!

Now it would have been easy for me to dismiss this as internet rambling until I thought about my personal circle of friends and at this point I feel I must admit that yes I do have a vice. I am an on again, off again smoker. I quit for some years, life gets rough, I light up again. Most people until now have no idea that I battle the butts, because I don’t smoke around others for the most part and that includes, my house, car. at the job. you get the picture. By virtue of the fact that everyone gives smokers the stank eye keeps me in line. And before anyone feels compelled to lecture me, save it, my mother died of lung cancer. I know what can happen if I don’t get a hold of this vice. On the other hand I am human and humans are weak no matter what we think, we all have our weaknesses that we cannot avoid.  For some people its gambling, food, drugs, shopping, even love one of the purest of emotions can be stretched to vice if its excessive. I am a big fan of life in moderation.

So now that I have outed myself completely and fully (believe I have hinted as this in the past) lets talk about the fact that in my immediate circle of real life peeps just in Maine, I have about 4-5 who are also undercover smokers. Except for one person, they are more undercover than me, to the point their partners don’t even know they occasionally hit the butts. One of these folks is 50. I don’t know about you but why the hell at 50 is one hiding any habits? Why? Because people look at you like you are crazy if you admit to having a  vice.

By the same token I have been in spaces where admitting that I occasionally feed my kid fast food was met with an icy glaze. Um….I said fast food, not rat poison. Look, some of us have become so damn high and mighty we forget to just be. Seriously, just be in the moment and not feel the need to put value or judgement on people or things.

So what about you? Do you have any vices, habits or weaknesses?

What do we owe them?

I have been unusually quiet in this space even by my own standards, I wish I could say it was strictly because it’s hot as hell (global warming is real, we had tornadoes in Maine last night!!!) but truth is I am bogged down with family issues. This is one of those times when maybe I am about to share too much of myself in this space, but the truth is for me letting things out is often healthy. So here goes.

Right now as I type this, my remaining parental unit stands on the brink of homelessness. I am talking the odds are high that tonight he will sleep on a bench or in a shelter. I wish I could say it was because he is a super asshole but really he is not. No, he is just an aging hippy turned preacher turned widower yet a man who instead of planning chooses to live on faith. Long story short when the feds decided to play games with the extended unemployment benefits, my Pops got caught up in that mess. It’s been a month since he last received an unemployment check and living in a rooming house where rent is due weekly this is real bad. Regular laws governing eviction processes don’t apply to him and while I have been able to ensure he isn’t starving, there is no way I can pay my bills and his damn near $200 a week room rent.

My father is a prideful man, so rather than go to his family and by my last count he has at least 9 siblings still alive, he waited a couple of weeks before sharing this news with my brother and I, neither who are in a position to do much. Like I said we are keeping him from starving and I have extended an offer that he is welcome out in my neck of the woods and I can probably pony up the cash for a bus ticket to get him out here but really that is the best I can do.

Having worked with the homeless in Chicago I am quite familiar with every shelter or source of help for folks in Chicago yet he has not wanted to discuss those options, though he did call 311 the city’s homeless prevention helpline though without a guaranteed source of income he was pretty much shit out of luck.

My heart is heavy this morning, but at the same time feelings of anger are creeping up. See, to some degree we have been here before. When my Mom was at the late stages of her battle with cancer I helped my folks out, spending thousands on rent and her insurance. When my Mom passed, I helped out even more. None of that money was ever repaid back and really it wasn’t my money I spent it was money I owed to the IRS. This is one of the reasons I have that pesky tax problem.

See, my natural instinct is to help folks but the older I get, and as my own responsibilities mount its pretty clear that I can no longer dive in head first to help loved ones because in my mind I owe it to my kids and husband to make sure their needs are met. Yet I am struggling with the very idea of what do we owe our parents? Presuming they were decent folks who loved us and raised us, do we owe them anything? Two old friends of mine admit they have always admired the lengths I have gone to, to help family but also admit they would not sacrifice their own financial futures to do so. On the surface that pains me yet deep down I am starting to think it’s true. Part of me feels like due to past help, perhaps I have set a bad precedent in helping. I have family members who assume based on silly superficial shit that I must be well off financially…um, no. I still struggle with money like many I suppose but I also know that I try to stay one step ahead and plan for shit and deep down it bugs me that others don’t.

Anyway that’s what’s up with me. Is there anyone out there that is struggling with family in need especially parents? If so I would love to hear from you.