Life with a Flipper

This past week (Monday), I had oral surgery.  I need to start further back though to help you understand.  When I was seven, I fell on the pool deck and ended up with 2 root canals on my two front teeth.  This was horribly traumatic and led to my intense fear of dentists.  Thankfully, it is really the only issue I’ve ever had, so my trauma was minimized. However, a couple weeks ago, I began getting terrible pains in my mouth just above my fake teeth.  I knew something was wrong.  I made a walk-in appointment with a highly recommended dentist who has evening and weekend appointments.  He confirmed that there was something wrong with  my posts.  He recommended emergency surgery the next day (Monday).  It was one week prior to my winter break, so I knew I could not take another week off on top of the two that were coming up. My son ended up waking up with croup on Monday, so we used the day to hit the doctors.

In the end, I ended up needing to extract my two front stubs, two wisdom teeth, get a bone graft, and have to implants inserted into my bone.  The worst part pre=procedure was that my appointment was at noon and I couldn’t eat for 8 hours prior to surgery, so I hadn’t eaten since 10pm the previous night and I was hungry. During surgery, I remember nothing, but some vague recollection of pounding into my mouth with a hammer.  That was not very comfortable, but I was only minimally aware of it.The pain afterwards was excruciating.

To add to the pain, I have no front teeth.  I have a flipper, which is like a retainer with fake teeth and gums attached to it.  It is incredibly uncomfortable.  The little pageant girls wear it for a few minutes, maybe an hour at a time.  I am wearing mine all day.  It makes my mouth ache. The roof of my mouth is blistered and I can’t eat with it.  Like I cannot tear any food.  I also cannot way on my back teeth because I had my lower wisdom teeth removed. So I am at soup.  Now the thing with a flipper is that all liquid gets trapped between it and the rook of my mouth.  It feels freaky.  I cannot really taste anything either. The teeth that the flipper  wire hold onto ache like there is no tomorrow.  Oh, and I have a freaking lisp.  I had to go to a speech pathologist when I was little for a lisp.  Endless readings of tongue twisters and Dr Seuss and enunciation all to have it come right back at me.

This is a special kind of torture.  And I get it for 4-6 months.  O.M.G. Now all of this sucks, but the reaction from others has left me nearly speechless.  I am a thick girl.  I always have been.  Even when I was in great physical shape, I have never been skinny.  I was “built,” “muscular,” “toned,” but never skinny.  The majority of my life, I have been fat.  I have come to terms with this.  I work out.  I eat better and less than the majority of my skinny friends.  I have had to reflect the patronizing comments from doctors about what I should be doing as if I have not kept food journals and exercised and tried Weight Watchers and walking and water, etc.  I even had one doctor suggest a fad diet.  It was my last trip to him.  All research shows that those are ineffective and ultimately result in more weight gain after the initial loss.  I work out regularly. I drink water. I watch what I eat.  I do not obsess.  I am stressed out.  I am a single mom.  I work 2-3 jobs. I do not have the luxury of making all my meals. I lack time more than anything. So I have come to terms with where I am and am fine with it.  I am a sexy bitch.  I love who I am. So, having said all this, when I tell people how I pretty much have to go on an all mush diet, the FIRST reaction is, “well, at least you will lose weight.” This also tends to be the first reaction when I get sick.  If I get a stomach bug, people do not tend to say, “it is going around;” they say, “well, you better watch what you eat.” They do not say this to my skinnier counterparts.  It’s an interesting insight into what they actually think about me.

I am not, in any way, lazy.  I do not think you could find a single person in my life who would choose “lazy” as an adjective to describe me whether they like me or not.  However, they imply this when their first comments are that I must be forced to lose weight as I obviously have chosen to be too lazy to make those decisions myself. Here’s a thought: Perhaps since I am not lazy and do work out and do not eat fast food multiple times a week or day, maybe my body is different and requires more time than I have to be skinny.  If I have to choose between spending time with my child and exercising, then that’s an easy choice for me.  I will be fat.  I know when I was at my smallest, I was working out twice a day and eating only salads with no dressing and drinking alcohol – a lot.  That’s way less healthy than this body I have. In order to have a “healthy” body, I would have to have an unhealthy relationship with my friends and child and pets as all I would be able to do is work out. I am fine with what I look like.  I am fine with where I am.  I hope that someday you will be fine with that too.  If you are not, that’s fine.  If you get sick or have to go on a special diet, I promise to simply say, “I am so sorry.  I hope that it goes by quickly.” Or,  “If you need any recipes, I will be happy to try some new mushy, liquidy meals with you.” I promise not to make this misery include anything about your physical condition.

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Dear Ben,

Since I found out that I was pregnant, I have been keeping a journal for Ben.  I write him notes.  I try to do it multiple times a year, but lately – sadly – it has come down to once around Christmas or New Year’s and again around his birthday.  In those letters, I tell him what is going on in the world around him.  I tell him about his world.  I remember pretty much nothing from when I was six, and I wonder if that will be the same for him.  I hope that by keeping this for him, it will be a way for him to look back and see how  much I love being his mom and what an amazing and funny and smart kid he always has been.

Each year, I read back over the letters myself. They start when I first found out I was going to be his mom.  When I was not even sure if he would be Benjamin Sebastian or Hannah Rose. I talk to him about the ultrasounds and the books we are reading to him. As he grows up, I talk to him about his big life changes.  School, his teachers and best friends. I talk to him about my favorite moments from the year.  Like the time he streaked through Chick Fil A (before they were banned from our home), or the time he accosted some poor woman at Costco over her milk.

This year, I get to talk to him about some really special moments.  This year, he has had to test out his strength.  He has had to stand up for himself and others when he has seen things happening that are wrong.  I am so proud of him for doing this.  It is easier for him to do this right now when everything is so black and white.  Next year and the year after, that line smudges, so I want to make sure he understands just how big a deal it is to “stand up for what is right, even if you are standing alone” as my bulletin board border states. I get to talk to him about fishing.  It has been a big part of this year.  It has also shown me a side of him that I need to nurture.  One that is hard for me to nurture because it is the opposite of me and my life – that calm, take it easy, sit and allow the day to sweep over you side. I am lucky being a city girl, to have help for this side.  I have my friend, Tina’s husband, Tom; my brother-in-law, Kevin; my brother, Rob; my brother-in-law, Chris; my co-workers, Kamelio and Donnia; my ex-student, JT; not to mention YouTube;  I could go on and on. I appreciate you answering my mundane and asinine questions and helping him with this as country knowledge of which I am wholly and completely ignorant.

Ben’s other big moment is him claiming and holding tight to his love of My Little Pony.  He is so afraid of people making fun of him, yet does not shy away from telling his friends that he does like it. He even gets them, somehow as only Ben can, to watch it and play it and love it a little, too – much to the chagrin of some of my friends – sorry :). But I love how he looks those gender roles in the face as says, “f*&k it. That’s not who I am .  I love to fish and play My Little Pony.” And why not? We allow little girls to be muddy Tom Boy princesses, but we do not allow boys the same leeway.  I do not push Ben to continue or to discontinue what he likes, I simply follow his lead.  I hope that he will continue to flip society the bird, but I am sure he will spend at least some time in assimilation alley.  I am proud of him for standing up for what he loves and not being embarrassed by it.  He also loves to get pedicures with me. And who wouldn’t? That is some relaxing shizznit. 

So, Dear Ben, thank you for another amazing year. Thank you for choosing me to be your mom.  Thank you for putting up with my sarcastic over-worked life.  Thank you for your smile and warm hugs.  Thank you for your sensitivity.  Thank you for your calm.  Thank you for you.  I love you, Babydoll! To the moon and back and around Uranus! 

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Merry Christmas to Me. . .

It all started fine.  I volunteered this morning.  At the shelter I volunteer at, they take your cell phone because the women that are at the shelter are victims of violence and they do not need any stupid posts to put anyone in danger.  As I am leaving, I get an email which starts my day great – My son has an emergency cell phone that he uses to call me and his dad, his baby-sitter, his grandpa, and 911.  It is used mostly so that I know he is safe after school and so that he always has the opportunity to call the other parent without asking. At any rate, Ben left his cell phone at his uncle’s house.  “If you need to get a hold of him in the meantime. . . ” Are you kidding?!?! It is Christmas.  Of course I need to get in touch with him.  Really?!?!  I knew this was not a good omen.

I was supposed to get picked up again at 4:30 to volunteer at the shelter for the evening dinner (I am on a later pick up now due to this), so Ben was supposed to call me at 4.  Of course, he did not. I called him.  He was so excited!  Santa got him an XBox 360 and Minecraft, and Halo 4 . . . .WHAT?!?!? Halo 4?!?!?! Now, I am no game aficionado, but I know that I have heard some off-hand things about Halo 4 and so had to break the news to him that this may be something we need to discuss.  I would check it out later. I did.  Even from the people that question the rating of M (For Mature 17-year-olds or older), they still recommend it for kids over the age of 11 (see the review here.  So then I asked him about the two dogs that stay with his Nana and Papa and his response was, “I haven’t seen them.  I have been stuck at Jessica’s* for three days!” This is a conversation that I had with Ben’s dad two days ago.  Ben is not to stay overnight with people who are not family.  Ben’s dad (whom I will call Joe) agreed.  Come to find out, this is not true.  Ben then yells to his dad, “I came here to see Nana and Papa, not Jessica*!” I warned Joe that this would happen in our civil conversation two days ago.  So now I am livid. The last time Joe came to see Ben, he stayed in a hotel with Jessica* and her teenage daughter.  Ben came home really upset and crying that his dad was ignoring him.  I spoke to Joe about this then.  Apparently, he does not realize that Ben is discussing this with me.

Now I am screaming and telling him how selfish this is of him.  I told him that the reason that I let Ben go for Christmas is that he have family to spend time with since I do not have that to offer him here and yet this is what he is stripped of.  Ben woke up on Christmas morning in a house that he did not want to wake up in.  My heart is bleeding. Then, Then, I hear Ben whimpering in the background. What?!?!??!! He had this conversation, this heated conversation with my child in the room?!??!  Ben is literally hyperventilating.  I get him on the phone and he says, “I can’t breathe and my stomach hurts so bad!” I can’t hug him.  I can’t reach through the phone. I cannot do what I want to do.  I had no idea that Joe had him in the same room when this fight was going on.  Of course it comes up that Joe has not paid a dime to help with Ben in 18 months. And his staple response is, “I’ll pay when it is court-ordered.” My response, “Oh yeah, you’re Father of the Year!” To this he says, “It is not like i’m a deadbeat.” Yes. Yes, it is.  In fact that is the only definition that fits someone who leaves the state, sees his son three times a year, and never helps to pay for a thing.  Not school pictures, medical bills, swim class, swim team, clothes, NOTHING. That is the definition of deadbeat.

So I do all that I can.  I tell Ben that there is nothing he can do or say that will make me not love him.  He says he wants to sleep.  I know the feeling. This is what I do when I cannot handle it all.  I sleep. I work. I keep myself busy.  He is 6.  He has one option – to sleep. All I can think is, “that mother fu$#er.” But then I know, I should have known.  I let him draw me into that fight.  I let him get inside my emotions because he hurt my child.  No one f%#*s with my child. I am ready to drive my a$$ there myself to get him.  I want to wrap my arms around my little boy and protect him from this.  This is why I made Joe leave.  To protect my child.  I caught him taking money from his piggy bank.  His fu$%*ng piggy bank. He put a title loan out on both of our cars. He forged my signature,  He kept my car , the one that I carried Ben around in, uninsured.  He kept the joint bank account consistently drained.  I still have no idea where my salary went because he was not paying the babysitter, the rent, the utilities, the cell phone, the bills consistently. 

I had to save us.  I opened my own account and all money that was to be paid, I paid in cashier’s checks and money orders since he would endorse any checks I wrote and use them for whatever. I still do not know. I saved up enough and I made him leave. He did not have to go six states away and stay there.  That was his choice. It has been his choice to opt out of his 2 weekends a month and Thanksgiving for the past two years.  I know fathers who live in different states than their kids, but still go back multiple times a month to be sure to see them.  Not Joe.  Joe thinks that everything is someone else’s fault. Joe cannot take responsibility for being fired multiple times. For letting down his family.  For hurting his son.  For making bad decisions.  

How do I protect Ben from this?  I never speak ill of his father in front of him.  I am careful to protect his memory of his father.  I want Ben to be a good dad.  I need him to have a solid relationship with his dad so that he doesn’t get screwed up. I need him to talk to someone.  I surround him with great men.  My friends have amazing husbands who are awesome dads and who are kind enough to take Ben on when they do things with their own kids.  I need this for him.  But I wish his own dad would step up to the plate.  Ben is such a fabulous kid.  You can ask anyone.  He loves everyone.  He is sweet and kind and generous and so loving. He is not perfect. But dammit, he is so close it breaks my heart.

This new writing thing is helpful. I see why people do it.  I need the outlet too.  

Merry Christmas to me.  Thankfully, both me and Ben get another shot at this day.  I am so grateful for that. Thanks for reading and listening.  I am not good at sharing my feelings or talking to people. I am a hard person to know and deal with. I know this. Maybe this will help me with that, too.

Sometimes and at some moments, the holidays just aren’t that great

Getting a divorce was the best decision I have made.  I do not regret walking away from a relationship that was damaging to me. I do not regret standing up for myself. I do not regret showing my son that when people do not treat you the way you deserve that you do not have to stay.

But it is on these days that I grieve. There is no NORAD Santa tracker for the parents who have to do Christmas on a different day.  There is no all-day Christmas movie marathon on the 29th.  There are no Christmas carols playing on the radios.  I have to fake it.  I do.  I fake it all pretty damn well, but in some moments, it just sucks.  This is that moment.

I do not have family to go to.  There are no Christmas dinners for me.  Not that I am not invited.  It is just too hard.  I send Ben with his dad because his dad does have family to go to.  Ben has cousins and second cousins that he would not be able to get to know if I do not let him go to Michigan for the holiday.  But it kills me. It tears my heart apart.  I literally feel my heart shred every second that he is not with me. I know this is selfish as I get Ben for 90% of his life. I also am his sole provider. I work multiple jobs to make sure that Ben wants and needs for nothing.  I sacrifice time and position at work to get him to or from his activities.  I beg and borrow and trade with my friends to get him to his practices. I sacrifice any hope of a love life to be sure that Ben gets every second of mine.  I do this because I want to.  I do this because that is the decision that I made when I decided to have a child.  I just thought that his father was making the same decision. I do not mind doing it alone. Most of the time, I kinda love it.  Ben and I have a strong bond.  We are a team and we have our own “things.” The decisions I make are not second-guessed.  If they are, it is for a week or two and then it is back to us. But because of this, too, it kills me that I do not get to spend these HUGE holidays that I have literally spent all month building up for him with him. I know it is just a day and hopefully when he gets older, he will not ever know that I felt this pain and that everything was happy for him.

I keep thinking.  There has to be others out there who are going through this.  Who feel this way.

With a divorce rate of over 50% in this country, why don’t we have this type of stuff extended? Even before I dealt with the division, it saddened me not to have the Christmas Carols on  the radio on the 26th.  I always wished they would delay them until New Year’s. Maybe wean us off of them. Maybe have letters from Santa that include a version with 2 houses.  A plan for the Elf when the child goes to the other parent’s home. Phone calls from Santa and elves that include two addresses. NORAD extended for those that have second homes.

And for the divorce widows who stay behind on Christmas Day, something.  Anything.  I keep myself busy.  I volunteer. A lot. But more to keep my mind off of everything. My friends always invite me to their houses and I do appreciate it, but it tears me up inside to see all these happy families – my families – just with each other, when my family – my one – is not with me.  I can fake it with strangers better. Can we have a divorced singles party for people over 30?? Not a hook-up scene, just fun!  Just a place to meet people who are going through something similar.  I do not have time for groups at any other time.  This is when I need it.

I count down the hours until Ben is back in my arms and home with me.  Right now, I am at 83 and a half. I can do this.  This is all I say the entire time he is away from me.  “I can do this.”  Sometimes, I can’t lie, it is so nice to just have some alone time.  Some time just for me.  That time is never Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. Any other day, there’s a piece of me that loves being able to go eat wherever I want (which I cannot do right now, but that is a different sob story); run into a store – quickly and without a dissertation about how we are not buying any toys, food, Icees, candy, etc; being able to go out with friends, which I really do not as they are all moms themselves :). My non-mom friends pretty much give up on me going out because I do not tend to when Ben is home and he is home all but three times a year.  He is my life.  They accept that and, God bless them, do not hassle me about it.

So, for today and tomorrow, I am logging off the social networks.  I cannot handle it.  I love my family and friends, but it is not Christmas for me until Ben is back with me.  It is just torture.  We will have our Christmas on the 29th, maybe the 30th.  We will have our big Kids’ New Year’s Eve Bash with our closest friends – both new and old – on the 31st.  We will enjoy each other for a week until we return to our crazy never-ending schedules of go, go , go when school starts back up.  I will figure out how to get a place for him and I to live that I can afford on my own. I will do my best to do this without uprooting his life any more than it has been.  I will try to keep him at the same school because it is the best in our district.  I will try to stay in the area because this is where all the people he loves live – his nanny, his BFF, his neighbors, his fishing pond, his circle of support. Not to mention mine. I could not have gotten through these past couple years since and before the divorce without my people.

So now, Merry Christmas to those who celebrate tomorrow, or the next day, or the next.  Or to those who do not celebrate. Merry Day, Happy Night.  As my cousin says, may you have the Christmas or the Day that you have.No expectations.

Laying it all out

Like most, I live a chaotic life.  

I am blessed to have been chosen to be the mother to the most amazing child on the planet (your arguments about your own amazing children are invalid, but will be heard 🙂

I am ecstatically divorced. 

I am an educator.

I am starting all over and am nearly 40 (I rarely admit that as I am determined to jump from 29-65).

I have a rock star support group

These are my rants, my thoughts, my desires.

Welcome to 2014.Image