It is the eve of the anniversary of my 29th birthday. I do not feel the numerical age that I am, so I refuse to accept it :). When my great-grandmother died, she had lied about her age so much that they got it wrong on her tombstone. I hope to someday have the same issue.
I have worked so hard the past couple of years to try to accomplish everything and not change Ben’s life to much since I told his dad to leave. I feel like I am doing all right. I am pretty proud of myself. I have improved my credit score by nearly 200 points – much easier to do when you do not have someone actively sabotaging you; I have enrolled in a degree program and will have my adolescent literacy Master’s in December and be actively working to complete my doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction; I have a new dog who is way better than I could ever imagine a little dog to be; I have a killer support group. Ben is doing great in school – the occasional behavior hiccup, but 98% of the time, he gets his sticker and his “5.” His academics are stellar. He is well on the way to be in an honors program. We are looking for a house – something I though unimaginable 2 years ago. I have worked out some health problems and am solving a big one now with my teeth.
So, why do I fall into old habits around my birthday? I pull away; I shut down. I hibernate and wait for someone to pluck me out. I have been doing this since I can remember. I am trying not to. I am trying to force myself to go out. I am trying. This year’s teeth issues made it harder. Typically my friends and I do dinner or potluck or something, but I cannot eat in public. I cannot eat anything but soft or liquid foods. I was hoping they would suggest something different. But no one did :(. I know this is my doing. But it is still hard when I work so hard at their birthdays to arrange gifts and to keep surprises. I should not expect the same and I do not, really. I love giving my friends their gifts and seeing their reactions. I am one of those people who get joy from giving.
So for my birthday this year, I got Ben a fishing pole that is appropriately sized. The one Santa brought was too big. I then accidentally ran over said one-hour-old fishing pole. I feel terrible for Ben. I feel terrible. I know it was not my fault. He should not have left it there. He should have put it away or at the very least out of the way, but I should have looked. I did not see it.
So tomorrow, I go look at a different house. I decided that my hesitation meant something. My gut was telling me that the house was not right. It could be a money pit and I do not want to get Ben and me into that kind of a situation. There were some big issues and I am learning. I am so happy to have so many people who help me to ask the right questions. Who help me to stop and think. I think the best advice came from my coworker, Kamelio. He said, “If there was one thing I wish I could change, it would be that I wish I didn’t rush into my decisions so quickly.” I think I am ad-libbing a bit, but that was the essence of it. I think I was so worried that I wouldn’t find a house/condo where I wouldn’t have to upset Ben’s world that I was rushing into something that I wasn’t in love with. I was not even the slightest bit excited about that house. Only anxious. The anxiety is good and a healthy amount is necessary, but this was not the healthy amount.
Well, no cake for me. I cannot eat it. No Carrabas for me. I cannot eat it. I will get me some Marble Slab. I may even have that for dinner. In fact, that is exactly what I will do. Watch out Double Dark Chocolate! Hear I come. And next year, I will not pull away. I will plan a kick ass party that we will celebrate in my first house with a crapload of food that I can eat because I will have wonderful new teeth.
So I am looking to buy my first house. It is terrifying. It is exciting. It is truly daunting. I have narrowed it down to two choices: a house and a condo.
The house needs some love, but it doesn’t seem insurmountable, until you start talking to people who know things. I will need to pull up the carpet and lay floor. It will need paint. It will need a roof soon and it will need, apparently, a water heater. It will need a section of fencing and it desperately needs a stove. Plus, the washer/dryer connection is in the middle of the house on an interior wall. Where is the dryer vent going? I did not think to ask this. Is the water heater up to code? What does that mean? There were all these questions asked of me that I did not even think to ask. Is the garage wall Level 2 Fire Code?? I do not know. I have to find out. I was pretty certain, and now I am not. I am scared out of my skull. The house is in the right neighborhood. It keeps Ben at his school and with his beloved nanny. I do not want to cause him any more distress than he has already had to bear. The school he is at is ranked much higher than the other option and I have seen and run after-school programs – they vary widely and by day.
The condo is gorgeous! It is the epitome of “move-in-ready.” The kitchen has a beautiful open floor plan and all appliances convey (new appliances, to boot). It is larger, but a good amount. There is plenty of room for us to live and be comfortable. The community is cute and has a pool and it is such low maintenance, which is what I desperately want. However, Ben would lose his school and his nanny. I cannot bear to do that to him. He has lost so much.
I do not know that I have the time, ability, knowledge, or money to put into this house. I do not know that I have the heart to put Ben in a dangerous position. He is already really fragile.
What do I do? I gathered my friends. They seem to be in the same quandary as I am. I asked Ben – whatever it takes to stay at his school and with DJ. I asked Siri, she was useless. I spoke to my sister and brother-in-law and they asked the questions that I needed to hear and consider, but I am terrified now. I was certain that I could handle it and now I am not.
Please assist me airwaves. Give me some guidance. P.S. Tuesday is my birthday and since I am celebrating in no other way, please give me the gift of wisdom to make the right decision, or will someone just decide for me, please????
Today, my son had a swim meet. He kicked butt!! This is his first year swimming and he has consistently made improvements. He is not the most dedicated at practice, but give me a break, he is 6-years-old. I am not trying to create an Olympian; I want him in a sport. He has tried t-ball, soccer, gymnastics, etc and has liked nothing. Then came swimming. He loves it. I love that he loves it. I was a swimmer and the lessons that I learned from this sport are immeasurable. The work ethic of swimmers has few sports that can compare. How many other sports do two-a-days with one practice at 5am and the other after a full day of school?? Ben practices 4 days a week and has meets 1-2 times a month. Today he improved his time in 2 different events by over 4 seconds each. He also swam butterfly, a very difficult stroke to coordinate, for the first time and did not get disqualified – a feat in and of itself. His time for his fly was faster than his backstroke time. He was two-tenths of a second from the heat winner against a teammate who has been swimming for 2 years and is a year older. In short, he performed phenomenally and I was so proud. But he didn’t win any ribbons. In his little world, he failed. So as we were getting dressed his response was, “I just wish I was dead already. I want to kill myself.” Where did this come from?!?! It scares the Hell out of me. I constantly tell Ben how much I love to watch him swim and how the only thing that matters is that he loves swimming and is having fun. I tell him to do his best. I instruct him so he doesn’t get disqualified and feel like “he did all that hard work for nuthin’.” Where did I go wrong? Was I in some implicit way telling him that all that matters is winning? I immediately start crying because, of course, that is the right answer?!?! I tell him how much I love him and that I am so proud of him. I talk to him about how well he did and how he dropped so much time. He seems to understand.
Later that night he tells me the same thing. This time in a conversation about his dad. He tells me that he thinks his dad no longer loves him because he has a girlfriend and he will marry her and they will have a baby and he will never talk to his dad again and he wishes he never had a dad and he just wants to die and be an angel already. WHAT?!?!?! How did this backhand me? I have tried so hard to run interference. I have had the courageous conversations (as coined by my awesome co-worker) about how Ben is not to stay the night at the girlfriend’s house. I have had to explain to my ex-husband that this is not about him, it is about Ben and while he may be ready for a new girlfriend, Ben is not ready for this to happen. Nothing changed. Ben lamented about how he didn’t get to see his Nana and Papa. I am lost. My son is feeling so distraught over something he has no control over. He finally said to me. “Momma, I tried to talk to him, but he just won’t listen. So now I think I need help from an adult.” How is my 6-year-old the adult in this situation?!?! I am devastated. I am enraged. I am unsure about how to protect my child from something he nor I can ultimately control. Now, I get to find a child psychologist with late hours. I just want my son to enjoy this magic age with no worries, yet that has been taken from him by the people who should be protecting it, his father and mother.