Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Total Phone Revisited

Does anyone remember the 80's when "Total Phone" came out?

Does anyone remember when you would call someone and, God forbid, they were on the phone and you got a busy signal?

At first we thought Total Phone was awesome - you had this thing called "call waiting" so we didn't have to worry about talking for hours on the phone and Dad getting angry because he couldn't get through. (Actually, it was Mr. Murphy who would get angry. The Murphys had 6 kids and lived two doors up. Many times around dinner we would get a call from Mr. Murphy asking us to run down to his house and "tell those damn kids to get off the phone!" (apparently he was trying to call Mrs. Murphy?))

One cool feature of Total Phone was the ability to get all your friends on the phone together. We figured out who of us had Total phone, then we'd call 1 person who didn't have it, and 1 who did. The one who did would call another friend who did, and etc. until we ran out of kids with Total Phone. Then all 6 or 8 or 10 of us would try to talk at once. Hilarious.

Last night, my sisters & 1 brother brought me right back to the 80's as we conference called each other. I had no idea my phone would still do that - apparently "Total Phone" is now standard. I was talking to my sister K, who had talked to Brother T. They hung up so Brother T could call Brother G & then get back to K. K called me, then T called back K on call waiting. She told him, "Hang up, we'll call you back." 5 minutes later and 10 failed attempts by K, I gave it a try and it worked. Then we realized we needed sister J on the phone. So Brother T tried it - we already ruled out K as a total failure. Oh My Goodness, that was pathetic. I am the baby of 5 and clearly the most technologically advanced, which is not saying much at all.

It went something like this:
T: What do I do?
ME: Hit flash, dial her number...
T: No no wait I have to write this down. Where's a pen. Damn that one doesn't work. Ok now I need paper. Yeah, this will do. Ok, What do I do?
ME: H-i-t Flaaaash
T: (writing) Flaaassh... (speaking) OK now what?
ME: Dial her number
T: What's her number? (she has lived in her house for 25 years!! Same number!!!)
ME: (tells him number)
T: ok then what?
ME: Hit flash
T: Do I have to wait until she picks up?
ME: (exasperated) NO! Just hit flash just like when you picked up your phone both K and I were on remember?
T: Oh yeah. Let me try this (mutters to himself "Flash, number, flash...")

Amazingly it worked. And I only pulled out a few hairs...

Very funny. I don't think we'll be trying that again. God Forbid I tell them about Skype or Oovoo!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Defining M.E.

This fall has brought bigger changes in my life than the fall 3 years ago when Ex moved out. This fall, my identity left. And I didn't know who I was. I'm still figuring that out, but finally realizing why I was feeling this was has gone a long way to healing me.

Thanks Captain.

Yes, you're right, the Captain and I have officially taken a break, but of course I still talk to him and he sends me the most amazing and insightful emails. And he suggested something last week that I have been mulling over. And like Charlie Brown shouts out in his Christmas Special, "THAT'S IT!!" I have had a revelation.

No laughing now when you see how obvious it probably is.

For 18 years I have been a mom. OK I've been a wife, a law student, a business owner, a lawyer, a daughter, a sister, an aunt, a cousin, a friend. But first and foremost and above all else, I have been a mom.

I know how to do mom. I'm good at mom. At least I'm good at "full time mom." This far-away mom stuff? Not so good. I'm the kind of mom who bakes 125 cupcakes for the twin birthday - two classrooms, soccer practice, Brownie party, football practice. Yes one birthday they had ALL those things on their birthday and they wanted cupcakes for every event, so I baked. A lot. It was fun! And they were happy. We still laugh about that day and the cupcakes that were everywhere. I went to every game I could (which was almost every game). I volunteered in the classroom when certain teachers asked for such things. I went on field trips when the kids wanted me to. I played games in the backyard. I played video games, board games, taught them to sing & dance. I was involved. I tried hard not to be "that parent": the one who interferes. I made them stand up for themselves, sort out their problems with teachers, take responsibility for their actions. But I was always there for them.

Now they are gone. And along with all the things they took to college - their computers, posters, cds, bedding, shoes, and pjs - they seem to have taken my identity. I have been so focused on the kids, particularly this past year when I knew it was the last year, that I kind of forgot about me. All the sudden I have lots of free time and energy, yet I am so unfocused. I flit from thing to thing, from place to place in my head. Yet every day I keep searching for that elusive something.

Tuesday night, while I was home with the kids, cooking, laughing, joking, genuinely having a blast, the house full of their old friends, the feeling of overwhelming happiness, safety, contentment came over me. And then it hit me. The things the Captain said came back to me. He suggested that perhaps I have been so focused on the kids, I never truly dealt with my feelings about Ex, about the Captain, about my career, about my life. And now with the noise and bustle and chaos of the children gone, I am left with the quiet and the question, "What happened to me, Who am I now, and who do I want to be when I grow up?" Those are tough questions that I wasn't necessarily ready to face.

I think now I am ready to face them. Maybe that's what the bluster was about the day I proudly (prematurely) declared I was going to Take Back My Life. I was catching a glimpse of it, but only just figuring out where I really need to go.

I'm not really much closer to that goal today than I was that day. But I think now I understand some of the angst I am feeling inside. I'm still not ready for a relationship. I am taking baby steps trying to figure out M.E. But at least I feel like I have some direction, some sense of what it is I'm trying so hard to figure out.

Yeah, I know, OBVIOUS! But sometimes when you're in it, it's hard to see it. Like seeing the forest through the trees.....

Friday, November 19, 2010

Where Personalities Clash

I have teenagers - twins in college - and therefore it should come as no surprise there is a communication gap.

My difficulty lies in the fact that because I do NOT have a communication gap with Daughter, I feel slighted by Son. Instead of looking at the glass 1/2 full, I seem to be feeling the glass is 1/2 empty.

My head tells me my relationship with my Son is probably the "normal" one, and my relationship with my Daughter is just a crazy gift.

I suppose if I were still married that would be easier to swallow. Instead, I wonder. Does Son talk to Dad? Would he rather be with Dad than me? Does he complain to Dad about me the way Daughter complains to me about Dad? The secret stalker in me is dying to know.

OK the answer is obvious probably. I do try to keep communication open with the Son. I text him, call him, email him (not obsessively but enough once or twice a week to let him know I'm alive. And if he calls, no matter what time, I ALWAYS take the call, even if it means hanging up on a client). He is coming home tonight from college for Thanksgiving break. Es is picking him up this time (I picked him up from fall break). Part of me is sad about that - Ex arranged a ride through someone he knows at work. Ex has lots of connections to Son because it's Ex's alma mater. I can't help but feeling that Ex is smuggly content in his "leg up" on me. He refuses to communicate with me about anything. He has made lots of trips down to see Son this fall and I think he must have connections that get him hotel rooms in a town where you have to book at LEAST a year in advance on football weekends. He has lots of ticket connections, too, I think. I know he makes nasty references about me when I am not around. And so, I let the stress of a relationship with my Son - a normal stress for any parent of any college teen - be compounded by the interference (perceived or actual, who knows?) of the Ex.

I made some definite plans with Son to do things on Sunday. I let him know that he is free to bounce between houses but that I need to know if he's planning on being here because I care that he is safe. I let him know that he's spending Thanksgiving with Dad and that Mom would like to spend time with him, too. Not all his time - he wants to see friends and do stuff. But Mom wants to Do Stuff, too. Ya know?

My head gets it. The Heart is the one that needs some convincing.

Edited to add: Thanks to all for the comments and to Mom for calling me up personally. You are all right (well except for that last "Anonymous" one who is too chicken to give a name and too shallow to know what this blog is about.) I think most of this was angst over my current personal situation with the Captain and some things I have come to realize, along with the incredible and overwhelming love I have for the kids and the desire to be what they need me to be that is best for them. As it turns out, Son and I had an AWESOME weekend, a great day Sunday, and he has been in and out a lot thus far over break. He went with me Tuesday to pick up Daughter. He is an amazing child. I know he does love me. I underestimated him, too, about Thanksgiving. He said to me the other night, "I want to spend some time here because I'll be with Dad on Thanksgiving." My Dear, Sweet Boy. Amazing.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Dealing with the Hater

Ex still hates me, will always hate me, has a twisted version of the past and sent me a long letter a couple years ago about why he hates me. Actually, I understand his misperception and his feelings. I didn't say I agree with them, but I understand them.

So what's the problem?

Daughter is royally PO'd at her father for his hatred. She is hurt. She wanted me to go to Thanksgiving with them - and I would have been invited by my former Sister-in-Law, but Ex graciously said I could "celebrate another day." Daughter knows this. Daughter is angry, confused, hurt, annoyed, and feeling uncomfortable.

My challenge is dealing with all these feelings in the best interests of my kids. Part of me wants to scream out, "He is a JERK! An unfeeling, ego-centric, maniacal, narrow-minded BASTARD and you should hate him!" no no no no no that would be very bad for Daughter. And for me.

Instead I keep telling Daughter that Ex loves her and that's all that matters. Lately I had to swallow an even bigger one. When talking about Thanksgiving with Daughter, I said, "I understand Ex. I understand who he is, how he feels, and the way he is about relationships. I know that once he makes up his mind about someone, he will cut them off forever and never forgive them. That is just the way he is. You can't change that. I can't change that. So you have to accept that he's got it in his mind that I did something evil to him, and right or wrong, that's where he is. We will never be friends. He will never want me in the same room with him."

Daughter didn't like that answer. But it's the truth. I have prayed for him to have an epiphany for years. It ain't gonna happen...

Then I jokingly threw out there, "Maybe he thinks you're going to have two weddings?!" To which Daughter angrily replied, "NO F*ING WAY - UNLESS HE'S GOING TO PAY FOR BOTH OF THEM."

I think I'm taking the right path with this. She needs to love him, warts and all. Even if he didn't get her anything for her birthday....(I told her he didn't get her anything "yet" - he's a late kind of birthday-gift-buyer). She has to come to her own Truth about him, without my jaded opinions. I do try to give her strategies for dealing with him. E.G.: she says he never remembers anything she tells him and therefore he doesn't care. I tell her he has short term memory issues and therefore she needs to email/text him every little thing so that he can remember it.

He's not a terrible person. I think she needs him in her life. And I think as her mom I need to encourage what I think is best for her -and what's best is to love her Dad and try to improve that relationship.

Sometimes I wish I were that horrible, selfish, self-centered Biotch he thinks I am, because then I could really have some fun with this....

Monday, November 15, 2010

One Dilemma Solved

Thanksgiving Issue: Not an issue.

One of my friends who had previously invited me to Thanksgiving called me this weekend and said, "No Really I meant it - please come. You'd probably be the only one to help me anyway! No one else cooks!" This friend is a good friend, her daughter is my daughter's best friend. Honestly I had two major hesitations on accepting: 1) would Daughter feel weird that I was with her friend and not her? and 2) would I freak out upon being with this awesome, extended family (many of whom I already know) and think about my own family and turn into a blubbering idiot? [yes that could really happen. I'm a sap. S-A-P].

I talked to Daughter this weekend about the offer. She is royally P-O'd with her Dad. She sees no reason why I can't just spend the holidays with his family (yes I was going to be invited until he told his sister, "She can celebrate Thanksgiving some other day!"). I told Daughter that I understand Ex and that he will never forgive whatever perceived wrong I have done. Leave it at that. Daughter thinks me celebrating with this particular family is an awesome idea. She said, "I know you'll have fun! They are awesome. You should go." I think, as many have pointed out, she'd be more upset if I were home than if I were with her friend's family.

Why no I did not ask Son about this. The lovely yet ego-centric child has not given 2 seconds of thought to "what is mom doing on Thanksgiving?" That's ok. It's who he is right now and I know he loves me in his way.

And point number 2 about freaking out? I decided to be totally honest with my friend and shared my concerns. She said she understands but that I will feel like part of the family - heck in some ways they have made me so over the last couple of years. It's going to be a tough Thanksgiving for them - her very dear friend and neighbor passed away recently and she's having the friends' family over. I think she's counting on me for some support and comic relief. If I can be there to help cook, clean and crack some jokes, then maybe she needs me just a little bit, too. Being a Friend in return - that I know how to do.

Thanks to all of you near and far for your offers of places to go. The reason I don't want to leave the area is the kids are only home for a few days, and I don't want to miss that. I am hoping to hang out with them Wednesday and Friday, so I need to stay close to home.
Thanksgiving - no longer an issue.

Wow I am so silly sometimes!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Missing in Action - Again

Sometimes I get all good at the almost daily blogging thing, other times I get distracted. Obviously I have been distracted of late. Life is changing, throwing challenges and I'm just not sure how it all fits in. So I work hardly and on the weekends I play very hard to avoid decisions that must be made.

And then sometimes someone very close to you (niece) gets very sick and you are beside yourself. But then by the grace of God they get better and it's all good again.

It's been that kind of two weeks. All is well on the health front we think. But on the ME front? Not so good. And it should be good - I have a great job, got a great evaluation the other day, love the people I work with, have a kick butt family.

But something is missing.

or someone.

And as much as I am sure I need to be "not in a relationship" right now, that doesn't stop me from missing someone all the time. And I can't drag myself out of this funk.

It's only been 6 weeks. We dated for nearly 3 years. Yes, right after Ex moved out, the Captain came along and moved into my life. We still talk to each other (is that good or bad? I don't know? I think it's good?). We haven't seen each other since Labor Day. No plans to see each other ever again, although I think we both think that someday we will see each other again. But not until next year...

Last week I got a phone call from someone in Florida with a job opportunity. It was so thrilling and exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. Unfortunately they haven't called back so I'm thinking I wasn't the right fit (and probably I wasn't). But it awakened in me the reality that I really do hate being cold and I really want to move to Florida. It just seems like a gigantic undertaking to make that happen. And a scary undertaking because have I mentioned I have a great job and work with great people and I have a mortgage to pay and kids to put through college?? And no my firm won't move me to Florida. We've already talked about that.

Sooooo I wallow in my indecisiveness, wondering what to do with myself. I'm still missing the kids, not looking forward to the holidays. I decided, for various reasons, that it's in the kids' best interests to be with the Ex's family for both Thanksgiving and Christmas. I'll be with my family on Christmas day, which I'm excited about, but I haven't yet decided what to do on Thanksgiving day (my family is too far away). Yes I've had offers because people rock, but I just don't want to be with someone else's family, you know?

And so the blogging goes on only in my head....