Once there’s car bling, it’s official

When Chickadee decided on Tinytown College (not its real name), we made several trips to campus before she began her time there. Every time, we went to the bookstore and accumulated more Overpriced Licensed Stuff™, of course, including shirts for the whole family, which was ESPECIALLY important because we have since discovered that perhaps the REAL reason Chickie picked this school is because every occasion merits a free shirt. She has the shirts that we bought her and a shirt for every activity she’s in and a shirt she got at freshman orientation and a shirt for her dorm and a shirt for the Honors program and a shirt for having accumulated shirts and don’t forget the free shirts for things she doesn’t even belong to which are apparently rained down on campus at regular intervals. (Me: “Where did you even get that? You don’t live in that apartment complex.” Her: “Well, yeah, but they were giving them out in the quad, soooo….”)

Chickadee also owns a licensed lanyard, TC-mascot-themed earbuds, some sort of Terrible Towel-esque scrap of cloth (hilarious, as this school doesn’t have any Division 1 sports teams), and so on. MANY MANY MANY licensed Tinytown College THINGS.

(In case you’re wondering, I also received a licensed mug for taking her to their scholarship competition and a licensed logo imitation Tervis tumbler for taking her to orientation. That seems like a fair return on the tens of thousands of dollars we pay them, right? Sure!)

What I did not buy, initially, was a decal for my car. I don’t know that it was a conscious decision. I just… didn’t. It didn’t occur to me, I guess? I was too busy gasping for air once I saw the price tag on the “TC MOM” shirt my child insisted I needed? Who knows. When she left for college, my car did not yet proclaim OH HEY I RAISED A CHILD TO SEMI-FUNCTIONALITY AND COLLEGE ATTENDANCE IN ANOTHER TOWN yet, or, you know, via shorthand: Tinytown College. (more…)

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Perhaps the most exciting time of my life

If pressed, I am going to tell you that the best two days of my life were when my kids were born. (If pressed further—and/or if Otto is there—I will slot my wedding to him in a very close third place.) Bringing forth new life and the miracle of birth and oh hey ALSO having two human beings grow from screaming lumps into semi-functional adults is pretty nifty, not gonna lie. So let us assume that those are the “best” two days of my life, okay?

THAT SAID, the last few weeks of my life contain two notable events which are giving my children a run for their money. Not only that, but my husband facilitated both of them because he is the greatest, and while it is always true that my life would be much more boring and significantly less joyful without him in it, he gets extra gold stars and a lifetime of adulation for these things in particular. Marriage is always an adventure, but y’all, Otto is the world’s best tour guide. For real. [Also? This is a really long post. Go get a cup of coffee and/or a snack. I promise to try to make it worth your while.]

We started with this: If you live anywhere in Georgia, chances are you know someone who has taken themselves down to Maranatha Baptist Church some weekend to attend the Sunday School taught by President Jimmy Carter. Otto has been talking about us doing this ever since we moved here (ten years ago), but it never quite happened. Life, the kids, etc… it was never the right time. But then one day we were hanging out with friends and the topic came up and someone (probably Otto) said, “We should all go. Let’s just plan it and go!” So we did. (more…)

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Learn a little, screw up a little, rinse, repeat

Otto and I spent most of the spring and part of the summer talking about, planning for, and perhaps-a-little-too-gleefully anticipating our empty nest. It’s not that we don’t adore the children—of course we do!—it’s just that… one, we’ve never been “just us” the way a traditional first-marriage couple gets to be, and two, have you met my children? They’re amazing, but I’m tired. We’re tired. It’s been a long nineteen something years since I first surrendered myself to motherhood.

Raising kids on a completely normal/expected trajectory is hard, I assume. I mean, people tell me that it is and I believe them. I don’t know about that, firsthand, on account of my children have never been normal. (I say that with love, you understand.) So: normal childrearing is hard. Childrearing with divorce and remarriage and special needs and giftedness and trauma and mental illness is HARD. And yes, sure, it’s the toughest job I’ll ever love and all of that, but: hard. No one gazes into the eyes of their newborn and thinks, “Wow, I can hardly wait until the first time he swears at the principal,” or “She’s so precious, it’s hard to believe that someday she’ll have a middle-of-the-night nightmare/flashback/sleepwalking episode and flee the house and wake up barefoot and distraught in the middle of oncoming traffic while we and the police are searching for her!”

It has been worth every single moment and every gray hair. (And I’m not just saying that because my kids will read this, even.) But we are tired. So of course we saw what seemed to be a logical endpoint and upcoming reprieve and we were giddy. And then it didn’t happen. (more…)

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Irma and others

Don’t try to have a conversation with me this week. I will, at some point, mutter darkly about throwing away five pounds of PERFECTLY GOOD shrimp. It will not need to be relevant to the conversation for me to bring this up, either. I am bitter and it’s stupid that I’m bitter and yet: five pounds of shrimp. It’s become the focal point of every feeling I’ve had the past few months.

But let’s back up.

When I last left off, we were mostly all about Monkey’s immediate needs and making sure he was okay. It was all… well, it was a lot. Me imitating Oprah and randomly pointing and shouting “YOU get an ulcer, and YOU get an ulcer, and YOOOUUUU GET AN ULCER!” did little to alleviate either his immediate health crisis or his mood, which is just crazy because I am exactly like Oprah but he never seemed all that excited about the ulcer. But time (and meds and modified diet) heals a lot, and although we are all still working on the game plan for moving forward next semester, Monkey is Monkey again.

At the same time, Chickadee was getting ready to head back to school, and I needed to be there for her, too. In particular, I needed to sit in her room while she cleaned it. Because my adult daughter is a toddler and cannot accomplish household tasks without me prodding her continuously loves me so much. Ahem. And somehow, Chickadee owns more STUFF than anyone else in our family, so the room clean-out we did last year before she moved away was amazing and then over the course of the year (take one thing, leave twelve more on every visit…) and the final move-back-with-a-dorm-room’s-worth-of-stuff-while-deathly-ill somehow culminated in four times as much stuff as we’d started with, seemed like. (more…)

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Course correcting

Hello! Greetings from the land of Never What You Planned, But Somehow It More Or Less Works Out Eventually. I feel like I’ve spent the last 19 years exhorting my kids to be flexible! Go with the flow! But don’t be afraid to change course! There are no wrong choices, only “right for right now” choices, and if/when they stop being the right choices, you’ll make another choice! It’s all part of the journey to where you’re supposed to be!

A lifetime of trying to convince them that life throws us curveballs and that’s okay, and they can handle it, and yet… they struggle with this. I do, too. Sometimes people who live in this house cling to a plan like it’s life or death, and when the plan goes awry or stops being the right plan, the death-grip-holder-on-er in a question has a very hard time letting go because THAT WAS THE PLAN, world without end, amen.

Anyway. Learning! Growing! Changing! And—sometimes—hurting. I don’t like that part quite so much, but no one asked me.

So that’s preamble to two things I have to share today. First, I have a new post up at Alpha Mom with yet more advice for your new college student. And second, remember how we started this summer with Chickadee being deathly ill? Well, why not just make this The Summer Of Pestilence, bookended with sick children? Sure, WHY NOT. We headed out last week to pick up Monkey from his summer program and attend his college orientation and, um, it did not go entirely as planned. See, somewhere along the line my son decided that “work hard” was synonymous with “just keep going even if you’re so sick you can no longer keep food down and you have lost the will to live.” I’m telling you it was like a bad Monty Python sketch, with him assuring us over and over that he was fine, except instead of severed limbs laying around it was slightly (only slightly) less obvious how sick he was, at first. Without going into details I will just say that he made the very difficult (but wise because OMFG) decision to take a medical withdrawal/deferment for the fall semester. We have several months to 1) get him healthy again, 2) teach him about this whole BALANCE thing where you DON’T jeopardize your health, and 3) make absolutely sure that this is what he wants and he’s in a place for college to be a great experience rather than, say, the self-imposed death march he was apparently on for a month without telling any of us.

We are learning ALL OVER THE PLACE, yes we are. Onward.

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News you can use (for… umm… something?)

Chickadee has been giving me a hard time lately about the blog. “You never write,” she complains. “Why don’t you write anymore?”

I look at her, and she looks at me, and I shrug. Sometimes I follow it up with the usual excuses—I don’t want to violate anyone’s privacy; my life is pretty boring; there’s other stuff that’s more important right now. Those things are true, but another truth lies between us, unspoken: It has been a hard summer, for all of us, but especially between her and me. And the kids are theoretical adults (or close to it; heavy emphasis on “theoretical,” too) and whatever I may struggle with relative to them might’ve been a funny anecdote when they were little, but not so much, now.

Still. She asks more often when things have been difficult between us. She wants affirmation that I still love her, but it is easier to needle me about my blog than to admit she is affected by anything I might do. Dear Chickie: I still love you. For the love of all things holy, please clean your room and the bathroom and maybe eat something with some protein in it and perhaps consider generally working on taking care of yourself and being kind to those around you. Love, Mom.

Anyway, she is right, a number of things HAVE happened, and we are long overdue for an update, so I will try to hit the highlights here as best I can. I do not promise that any of it is interesting, but what can I say? You always get what you pay for, with me. (more…)

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Hello yes hi we are alive

A very patient reader pointed out over on the Facebook page that I never updated after the last post (about Chickadee being in the hospital). I’m sorry! I wasn’t trying to be a giant jerkface, but it just happens naturally, I guess. So, to clarify:

1) I suck.
2) Chickie was in the hospital for 5 days and then was released to us.
3) She is feeling a billion and twelve percent better than she did during the acute phase which landed her in the hospital.
4) She does, however, still have mono, which means…
5) … she sleeps roughly 16 hours/day, and…
6) … she had to resign from her summer job, and…
7) … her liver is still Not Happy and being tested every couple of weeks, and…
8) … she is well enough to do things she likes but not well enough to unload the dishwasher, okay??

We are getting on each others’ nerves but she is recovering. And I will take squabbles about the dishes all summer long over literally carrying my child into the ER because she’s too sick to walk. So. Practical take: Also let us not forget that timing-wise this was pretty much best case scenario; if she’d gotten sick earlier in the semester it would’ve been catastrophic. Opportunity to torment our child take: Jokes about who your kid was swapping spit with while away at college never get old!

So that’s that. Everyone lived and the folks at the hospital were great, but we sure are glad to be home. (more…)

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Hold on to your liver!

Honestly, I have a million things just from the last week… er… crap… week BEFORE last… that I am still going to tell you about. Pinky swear. I totally intended to get RIGHT back to you on all of that after I told you about the Toepocalypse. Because we had our familyversary! And it’s been TEN YEARS, which is a really long time, and kind of a big deal, and also we all got each other very thoughtful gifts, some of which I will tell you about another time, but I will tell you that what I got Otto was that I very super-sneakily planned a little vacation for us. And by “us” I mean “just me and Otto,” because despite it being our FAMILYversary, Otto and I haven’t had a just-us vacation in… well, ever, seems like. And here I am with two grown (or nearly grown) children at home who can both 1) take care of themselves, 2) drive (!!!) (not that Monkey has driven more than once since getting his license, you understand), and 3) take care of the dogs. I could plan a whole trip and then just spring it on my husband, and then we could just GO in just two short weeks—this week, that is, two weeks after the reveal—which was one of the few totally clear weeks on the calendar this summer.

Otto was, indeed, surprised and touched. I was so excited! I really LIKE that guy and spending a few days away with him was going to be the best.

I mean, it still is. When we go. Sometime. But not this week (SUPPOSED TO BE ON VACATION RIGHT NOW, NOT AT ALL BITTER), because this week turned out to be the wrong week for a vacation.

Last week—the week after the familyversary, but the week before the supposed-to-be-trip—was graduation week. Everything was counting down to Monkey’s graduation, and my parents were slated to come into town on Thursday, and on Wednesday night—of course, of course the day before their arrival—Chickadee was holed up in her room after passing on dinner, and Otto and I were watching TV before going to bed, and around 9:30 I texted my daughter (yeah, I’m lazy) and suggested she come eat something, and she texted back, “Can you come take my temperature?” (more…)

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Because I am a delicate, delicate flower

Hello! All last week I kept thinking, “Oh, I finally have something to write about! I shall write! About it! All of it!” And all was very busy and before I knew it, 1) time had passed, 2) I had not written about any of it, and 3) “it” had become far more than one post could reasonably hold, even if you’re me, the person who believes that brevity is when you eliminate three adverbs from your 3,500-word post.

The good news is that this means you’re in for several posts in a row, assuming that a piano doesn’t fall out of the sky and flatten me, cartoon-villain-style, before I can manage them all. I’m not saying I EXPECT a piano to fall on me, you understand. I’m just saying I’m me and it could happen. Also I want the excuse out there in case it does. (“See? She must’ve had a premonition or something.”)

I think I’ll work backwards, in part because I want to cover what’s freshest in my mind, and in part because the most recent thing is the grossest, and I’d like to just get that out of the way. There are no pictures in this story because I love you all and also because I don’t want to make my father faint. I come by my delicate flower-ness honestly, it seems. So don’t worry that you’ll suddenly have your eyeballs assaulted with visual proof. I shall just stick to DESCRIBING this lovely incident for your entertainment. Buckle up! (more…)

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There are two types of people in this world

Listen, I understand that genetics are complicated and sometimes recessive genes do funky things and all of that, but I’ve recently made a horrifying discovery about my offspring. I’m not the tidiest person in the world, not by a long shot—I tend to have tidy areas of the house and then a few small dumping grounds (see also: my desk, my bathroom counter). It’s been a lifelong (their lives, not mine) struggle to be okay with a certain amount of mess in my kids’ rooms, because that’s their own space and there’s a line between “my standards” and “health hazard” and they have to both avoid Ebola and learn for themselves. I get all of that.

And when it became clear that Chickadee never pairs her socks, I kind of gave her a pass on account of the mixing-and-matching she tends to do with said socks. Also, she’s a slob, so no surprise there. But Monkey is much less of a slob and I have only recently discovered that he also no longer pairs his socks. SOCK DRAWERS GONE WILD. Honestly, why wouldn’t you pair your socks?? I do not understand. This is beyond the pale.

(I feel better, now that I’ve shared that with you.)

Other than lecturing my children about their sock habits, not all that much is happening here. BUT I did write some stuff over at Alpha Mom for you recently, so feel free to check it out. First, if you’re not tired of hearing me gush about how exciting it is to have finally get diagnosed with and treated for ADHD, I have a few more things to say about that. And second, if you—like me, and lots of other folks—are starting to plan for a college launch, you’re likely wondering how to pick the right meal plan for your freshman. But please do not ask me how to get your college student to pair their socks, because I clearly have no idea.

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