Monday, August 29, 2011


"Sunday mornings are all about laziness at our house. I typically do not work my 9-to-6pm job on Sundays, allowing them to be the only day of the week that I can turn my alarms off when they buzz, instead of just hitting "snooze". (Of course, Sundays are also the one day of the week that I consistently wake up before the alarms.) I'll sit on my bed with my laptop, catching up on emails and playing games, sometimes even getting "other work" taken care of, such as paying bills or blogging. But it is never rushed on Sundays, there is no thought of what I "have to" get done before Agent M wakes up. When he does crawl out of his bed, it is just to crawl right into mine. He'll bundle into a blanket-cocoon next to me and sing little songs to me while petting our cat. No rush to get up and dressed, no real worry as to what we have to get done. After all, it's Sunday. The one day of the week where time stands still in our house, when you can just about forget about the week gone past and the week yet to begin."

Yeah, so that was the post I started Sunday morning.

Apparently, Sunday's don't like to be called "lazy", because our day was a mess. 

Agent M greeted me with a grumbled, "I want to go on the computer" as he belly flopped onto my bed. When I told him I was working and he could go on it later, he threw the blanket over his head, turned his back to me, and began a tirade on why it wasn't fair that I always got to be on the laptop. I was attempting to chat with The Swede, play Words With Friends, and get some writing done, so I really did have every reason to not give up the laptop. I attempted to distract Agent M by talking out what we had planned for the day - a trip to the pet store for snail food and litter, pay a bill, then off to the lake for the day. Usually at this point he'll get excited and start singing songs about our day. Today, instead he scowled at me and demanded breakfast. 

The rest of the day became a jumble of making sausage gravy from scratch while still attempting to chat with The Swede, explaining 1,573 times to Agent M why I was not going to pull out my bank card to pay 5$ for a so-called "free" bonus item for an online game he was playing, and dashing up and down our stairs while trying to gather together library books that needed to be returned and plastic toys for our trip to the lake. Which, I must add, never happened. Instead, we left the house 4 hours later than I had hoped for, returned the library books, picked up a could things from the dollar store, and decided while en route to the pet store that we'd rather go to the lake after school during the week so that we'd have more than 35 minutes of sunlight. So much for Sunday's not being rushed and stressful.

Despite the day being totally backwards from what I had hoped for, and the fact that Agent M pretty much was tap dancing on my last nerve for most of the day, it was a decent day in the end. I made sausage gravy from scratch, with no recipe, for the first time and Agent M devoured it. We laid on my bed and snuggled while reading some of his library books. At the pet store, I let him pick two new fish and then picked up cheeseburgers for dinner on the way home. After our fast food dinner, we planted wild flower seeds around the pink flamingos on the patio. Then, before bed, we opened up a huge pack of new Star Wars toys that he's been dying to open for he past few months, but we just never seemed to have the time. Bedtime was a relief, we were both exhausted and snuggled for mere moments before we both fell asleep with the cat purring contently, wedged between us.

So, may not have been the lazy day we are used to and envisioned. But you were still pretty decent and that's good enough. 

Monday, August 22, 2011

More Than Just Back to School

Surprisingly, the thoughts of Agent M starting getting older, starting 2nd grade, and being back in a classroom all day were not what got to me the most today.

It was the forms. Filling in only myself and Agent M in our household when signing up for the free-meal program. Filling in the Emergency Contact Card and realizing that I have no idea where his dad works, what his work phone number is, and - while I know where his dad lives physically - I have no clue what his actual address or home phone number is. It was checking the box for living with "Both parents" and having to write "separated" next to it.

It was scanning the playground for Agent M before class started, and realizing that I had no idea what he was wearing, since it's his Dad's week. When the bell rang for classes to line up, this became a tear-threatening fear that I would not see him before classes started.

It was getting into the car I borrowed for the day and looking at the clock and thinking, "I should be trying to park for class right now." But classes are not in the cards for me this semester. With needing specific days off each week for Agent M's soccer practices and games, that makes me unable to request two more days off for classes. So I have to drop out again. It was not a difficult choice to make, but it is a sad one for me. I finally finished a semester, petitioned to be allowed to continue despite my poor grades in the past, hoped for weeks that my petition would get approved (and it did), but am dropping out again anyways. My consolations are that I don't have to shell out the money for books, parking passes, and I was still pretty low on the wait lists and may not have gotten in anyways.

It was looking through his folder of "Parent's Homework" after class was over, and sorting out which to give to his Dad and which to make copies of so that his Dad and I each would get a copy.

It was Agent M telling me, as he put on his shoes when his Dad came to pick him up from me, that the reason he growled at me when I asked questions about what his day was like was because "Dad doesn't ask [him] questions like that, ever." It was the smile on his face as I pulled him close and told him that was what it was, but that I always wanted to know about his day and would always ask.

Those were what got to me.

But while all of these moments made me cringe a little inside, I still found myself excited for Agent M. His teacher seems to be amazing. He was so happy to see his best friend before and after class. And even though he is getting bigger, he is still my little guy who sat in my lap while we played an "I Spy" type of game after we got home from school and settled. It could have been worse. It could have been his first day of high school.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Reminder.

Yesterday, I woke up feeling defeated.

I woke up wondering if the toilet would unclog, or if I would have to find somewhere to board our cat for the day so that maintenance can come in and look at the plumbing. We had plans to go to the beach but after plunging the toilet for an hour the night before, then enlisting the help of a friend for another hour with none better results, I felt like the trip was out of our reach. It was supposed to be our one last trip before school starts next week.

Shortly after waking up, my phone chimed. Only one person sends me text messages at 6am, so my heart lifted a little. But instead of being a sweet "Good Morning!" message, it was from my bank. A "Good Morning, your account has less than $10 in it" message. Not so sweet. I pulled my laptop over and checked the account in more detail, only to realize I had forgotten about an automatic payment and seriously have screwed myself financially until the next payday. Oops.

My head was pounding. I had not slept well after reading two local news stories of children going missing. One was a child who went missing after it was determined that her mother would get full custody. This girl was eventually found with her father, but in a state that makes custody not a concern anymore. It broke my heart and plagued me with nightmares.

Yesterday, I was angry at myself for forgetting about the bill payment. I was anxious that the toilet was becoming a bigger problem than I could solve myself. I was sad for the mom who no longer get smiles from her daughter and even sadder for the father that thought there was no other solution.

When trying to unclog the toilet the night before, realizing I needed help was a smack from reality. Like a Gibbs to the back of the head, I realized that outside of my parents and a couple friends who were unavailable, there was no one I felt I could trust enough to call and ask for help. After a problem with a former friend, I don't let people know where I live easily, and with the massive purge I have been putting the house through, it is a wreck that I wouldn't want just anyone seeing. But unfortunately, a majority of the people I trust the most (with the exception of the people mentioned above) live out of state or country. I took a chance, contacted a friend that I figured was as trustworthy as I could get, and luckily was right. (But that is for another post.) But the fact still bothered me when I woke up yesterday. Most of the people closest to me are the ones who live the farthest away.

My phone chimed again. My former Mother-in-Law wanted to know if Agent M's great-grandma could watch him one day this week so he could play with his cousins. I never know what to say when she asks. I don't have a problem with it, generally speaking, but the weeks I have with Agent M are also the weeks for my parents to see Agent M. We plan each day to the hilt with fun. With this week being the last hurrah before school starts, each day is full. There literally is not a day that would work, but I still hate saying no, out of fear. It is my time with Agent M and I don't say no out of malice, but I always fear that his Dad will try to use each decline against me. I worry he will try to twist it into "you don't let my family see him", when it simply is not that. Mentally, I added the message to the ever growing pile of worry that seems to sit in the corner of my thoughts these days.

Yesterday, I was tired of time zones. Tired of distance and miles and oceans that were beyond my reach. I was frustrated with worrying over every move and comment I make. I was angry that my divorce is still not finalized and that a large chunk of my life feels is constantly waiting in limbo, playing in a chess game with a player who is not always fair. I was fed up with with the unspoken worries and wishes and all the waiting.

Then, I saw a post on Facebook from a cousin.

A friend of hers was asking for prayers.  Someone who I have not met, whose story I do not fully know. But the child they are adopting, who is already their's in their hearts, is in a place that no child ever should be in. The woman was asking for prayers for help speeding up the adoption process, to get her daughter to her new home for better care, better medical treatment.

My heart broke.

This woman and her family know time zones. Know of having divided time. A clogged toilet is nothing when your child is oceans and miles away.

Feeling selfish and defeated by everything, I finally broke down while making breakfast. I cried as the blender ran, glad that it is older and loud enough to cover the sobs I could not choke back. Agent M was sleeping peacefully upstairs. Even when apart, his other house is less than 15 minutes away. This mother had to go through security, customs, and car rides just to hold her daughter.

I have nothing to complain over. I have so much more to celebrate and be thankful for. Some of my loved ones might be far away, but they are still there for me. I might not trust many people, but my family is here for me. My time with Agent M might be crazy and prone to changes, but I still have it. As if to further reinforce this, one of my friends from overseas sent me a message soon after I broke down, wondering what was wrong and if there was any way from miles and miles away that he could help. My Mum came over and tried to fix the toilet, and got maintenance to come over shortly after that. (The problem is beyond his ability to repair, but it is logged and a company will be coming out to fix it soon.) Agent M woke up and came to me with smiles, hugs, and singing Beatles songs. How could I break down when I am so lucky?

The rest of the day was not exciting - we ran an errand, bought new fish, and did the tug-of-war dance of trying to get Agent M to clean his room with me. But nothing felt as big. The waiting, the wishes, the worries. They are all here. But so is my amazing son. Who builds forts in our living room, loves my cooking even when I burn dinner, and who took great delight in trying on all of his play clothes last night, as we sorted out what to sell and donate.

And today, we might try for the ocean. We might not. Either way, my toilet will still be clogged, and I will still be in limbo with my divorce. But Agent M just woke up and came running into my room, diving under the blanket I held out for him, singing songs about being a popsicle.

I am not defeated. I am beyond blessed and just lost sight for a day.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


Today's agenda is simple.

Well, I'm trying to keep it simple.

It started out yesterday as "Plant strawberries in the strawberry pot, clean the fish tank, tattoo each other". (No, I am not contending for The Worst-Mum-Ever Award - Agent M has a toy tattoo machine that has been waiting on the top shelf of his closet for us to try it out.)

Then, I got the email from Agent M's soccer coach last night. Practices start next week. Agent M still needs cleats. And has not played soccer all summer. So.....I added "Get cleats" and "Run soccer drills" to the agenda.

When Agent M grumbled into the house this morning, moping that he wanted to go to his Nana and Baba's house today, like he had yesterday morning when his dad went to work. I remembered that I had also promised him we'd get ice cream today and found this to be the perfect time to remind him. "Go for ice cream", added to the agenda. (As was "Check the bank account" and "Look in the change jar for ice cream money".)

Of course, now that Agent M is back from his Dad's for the day, I am up and moving around the house instead of my usual hermitting around the upstairs bedrooms. I am seeing the dishes that need to be done (which remind me of the laundry waiting to be folded upstairs, for some reason...), walk past the boxes that need to be taken for donation and the microwave that we can not seem to give away that now resides on the floor by the front door. I'm seeing the carpet that needs to be vacuumed, the stack of bills that needs to be filed, and I can't miss the art supplies that I abandoned all over the living room table a week ago......and I want to add more to the agenda.

But school starts in two weeks. Our time to sit at home and talk about video games and leisurely water the plants is slipping away. The hours we usually have to lay on the bed reading graphic novels and discussing different forms of zombies (a common lazy past time here) while be reduced to minutes.

So, today the list stays simple. I can race around to finish the dishes and laundry while he is at his Dad's house. The bills are paid at least, so filing can wait a few more hours. There are strawberries to plant and ice cream cones waiting to be eaten. And tattoos, even fake ones, take a while to draw.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Letting Go

Over the years, I have accumulated a lot of stuff. Which is kind of like saying, the ocean is rather big.

When I left my husband, there was no deciding what of my belongings I really didn't need, which clothes didn't fit right, what books I really wanted to keep vs. donate. Instead it was just a quick sorting of "mine, mine, his, his, mine, his, mine, his" as I tossed things into boxes. Then, most of it went into a storage shed for a year. All my art supplies. All my fabric. Bins and boxes of books, clothes, papers, momentos. My little apartment just didn't have room for it all, and then came my shoulder injury, divorce filings, custody issues, surgery, and moving again. In between it all, going through the storage was far down my To-Do list and usually forgotten about completely.

When I moved again this January, the shed was emptied. All the boxes and bins were stacked on my patio, filled my closet, stacked almost fort-like around my home office area, and lined along a wall of my bedroom. Bright orange bins with black lids clashed with the pink lanterns hanging in my bedroom for months. I learned that when the first rain heavy rain floods your patio, cardboard boxes will prove to be no match for the elements. Eventually, I enlisted a friend's son to help toss the soaked and ruined boxes into the dumpster, and after slowly going through a few boxes here and there, I enlisted him again for help loading my car with the boxes that I had filled with things for donation and to be sold at my parent's yard sales. But, our house was still packed. To the point of embarrassment. Every time I watched the show "Hoarders", I became more and more fearful that that was to be my future. But between work, school, recovery from the surgery, and all the little day to day bits that keep a parent busy, I could never seem to find the time to just go through it all.

Finally, I have had enough. Enough excuses, enough wishing I could find something, enough with not inviting friends over because my place is messy. Over this last month, sort of enlightenment set in and I became focused and determined.

My enlightenment is not all to my credit though. It came in the form of a visit from one of my closest and dearest friends, who I had not seen in over three years. He commented that my place didn't look bad, I just had a lot of stuff. While looking at a map one day and talking about all the places he has lived, I got to thinking. He's former military. He's moved countless times, lived in more places than I will ever visit, and his last move was from here to half way across the world, where he lives now. This last move I was witness to his packing process: the purging of most of his belongings, the packing and shipping overseas of what was left (and the nightmare as the shipping company tried to charge him extra once they had his things, and the frustration when half of his things were "lost"). The more I thought about it, the more I realized if I was to move that much, I wouldn't want to move half the stuff I have. It would not be important enough to move that many times. The clothes overfilling my closet, the drawers filled with cards, momentos, and little dust collectors, the unused art supplies I've had for years just in case I need them. All of it would be costly dead weight on a move halfway around the world.

In the weeks after his visit, this all kept eating at the back of my thoughts. Every trip to the store, I found myself buying less and more thoughtfully. As I did things around the house, more and more began to be tossed into our perpetually-waiting-to-be-being-filled "To Donate" box. Then, on one sleepless night, I started to pull clothes out of my closet. Shirts that "looked nice, if I ever have jury duty" - tossed to the floor. Dresses that "looked good but need a few alterations" - added to the pile of shirts. Like a woman possessed, I soon had half my closet cleared out and an impressive pile of empty hangers at my feet. I slept soundly that night, happily dreaming up a plan to finally let go of years worth of stuff.

With Agent M gone that week, I spent every moment of free time going through each drawer, each tucked away box, and even the bins of costumes and nicer dresses that were stored under my bed. (There were two, now there is one) Every inch of free space, every card, every sock was analyzed over the next three days. I  emptied every single box and bin that had been sitting in my room and filled five boxes with things to be gotten rid of. The day Agent M came home, I was working on the main part of our three-section upstairs bathroom. After two hours of going through each cabinet, the formerly overstuffed linen closet had more open space than filled and the unmarked travel sized containers of "mystery soap" had all been tossed.  Yesterday, we began working on Agent M's room. What had been almost impossible to walk through at the start ended up having enough room to put up a play tent and table after three hours of sorting, tossing, and reorganizing drawers. I plan to finish his room and my vanity area (the third part of the upstairs bathroom) this week, which will finish off the upstairs.

Once done with the upstairs, the real job begins. The downstairs. Where I have most of my art and crafts supplies, where my home office resides, and where I have the bulk of my magazine "collection". It's going to be a long process, but I am ready for it. I just keep repeating the same phrases to myself when I get stuck - "Would this be worth packing and moving again? Would this be worth shipping halfway around the world?" - and like a former addict reciting the 12-steps, I feel solid in my focus and keep moving forward. In a lot of ways, I feel renewed and excited about all the purging. Finally, I will have the home I have wanted for us but always held my self back from having. My goal has become to get rid of between a quarter to half of all of my things, and I plan to have a "Pay What You Want" sale on my parent's lawn this weekend. I am even considering finally breaking down and buying a camera to document this process. No more excuses, no more procrastination. All I have to lose is junk I don't need anyways.