Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Regrets

I regret a lot of things that I have done in my life. I've lied, cheated, been rude, and so much more.


Honestly, I feel like if I told anybody close to me that I feel like I'm a bad person, they would tell me I was a amazing person and not to feel bad. People may think this, but I know deep down inside that I am truly a bad person. I don't try to be such a bad person. It just kind of happens. And, honestly? It hurts deep down inside, so far down that sometimes I feel like I have a boulder pushing down on me. I feel like there is a lump of coal in my stomach that makes me so nausea.


You are probably wondering right now, "Why is this girl getting so down on herself?" Well, like I said, I've done some terrible things in the past, but nothing can match up to what I have done to persist me to write this. So, here it is…


I stole money. Not just from anyone, but from my own family. I stole a great deal of money over the past few months from my mom and step-dad. It all started around the third trimester of my school year. I was really down, because I didn't have much money, which meant I couldn't hang out with my friends much. So, one night, when I was down stairs alone, I got to thinking about how much I wanted to hang out with my friends. I got this idea, that I could steal money from both my mom and step-dad. I stole $20 each from them. I thought this would last for a while and that I would never do it again. But, then I didn't get caught and I got stuck in the same situation. So, I did it again. The same amount and the same way. I didn't get caught. I continued doing this, because I figured no one knew, and how much could it really hurt? A lot. It hurt a lot.

So, then summer rolled around. I was really excited and was going shopping like almost every week. My mom kept asking me, "Where's all this money coming from Grace?” Conveniently, my aunt, uncle and cousins (on my dad's side) were visiting from over seas. My aunt has always spoiled me in the past. So, I used that as an excuse. I would just tell her, "Oh! My aunt gave it to me." I lost track of how much I spent.


So, the other day my dad dropped me off after having dinner with him. When he came to the door, my mom asked me if she could have a few minutes to talk with him… alone. I didn't think anything of it. Then she came into the living room and asked me if she could speak to me. They, my mom and step-dad, had known the whole time of my horrible acts.


Do I regret? Hell yea. I would do anything in the world to take it back. I wish I could take back every moment of it. But, like when you squeeze too much toothpaste out of the container, you can't put it back. I've gotten myself into some serious shit. I don't even know why I thought it was a good idea. I don't even know why I kept doing it. God, I feel so stupid. I feel horrible. I have a continuous sick feeling in my stomach… and I don't like it.


Mom and Step-Dad, if you're reading this, I'm so sorry. I wouldn't be surprised if you never wanted to talk to me again. I wouldn't be surprised if you never wanted to even look to me again. I wouldn't even be surprised if you never wanted to hear from me again. Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if you hated me forever. I don't blame you. I would probably do the same thing. I would defiantly feel the same way. You guys have always helped me succeed, encourage me, teach me, and showed me nothing but love. What did I give you? Distrust. Lies. I hurt you. I am sorry.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cancer

A few weeks back, I wrote about my relative callous towards breast cancer awareness at Midwest Parents. About how easy it was to look at pink stuff in the store and buy a pink piece of jewelry or a pink silicone mixing bowl and feel good about myself even though I hadn't done anything to really become more "aware" of breast cancer. Or to help people who are suffering. Or to stop and think at all.

My sister-in-law goes in for a second biopsy today. First biopsy showed breast cancer. I'm not even sure why they're doing a second instead of just starting treatment immediately. She's 45.

She's always been the one who worked like a horse, the one who took care of everyone else, the one who told her sisters they were whiners when they felt ill. She's the one who never gave up. From what I hear, she's scared for the first time in her life.

And I'm scared. It started when I was about 35 or so. My friends, my young friends, started getting cancer. Cervical, breast, colon, lung, you name it. In their thirties. What is going on? When did it become the case that everyone gets cancer? I used to think the question about getting married for life was whether the relationship would last; today I'm wondering what the chances are that neither person will battle cancer. And maybe lose.

I know I'm late to the game on this one. Bubblewench wrote last year about her husband getting testicular cancer. And suddenly she questioned whether they really were sure about never wanting kids. I'm sure there are others out there that I'm not even remembering right now. Even when I wrote that post a few weeks ago about not being touched by breast cancer, a flood of people started filling my mind:

- a cousin, 70, just lost his four-year battle the week before I wrote that post
- a good friend's husband, 38, just had surgery for colon cancer that metastasised to his lung. They have an 8-year-old daughter. Chemo starts again this week.
- Grace's grandmother, 60-something, had breast cancer when she was in her early 40s. So has every other woman in her family (her mother, three aunts, one niece). One didn't make it. Now she has stage 4 lung cancer that's metastasised to her brain.
- A distant family member, early 30s, just had a double mastectomy because her mother died of breast cancer and she learned she had the same marker on her DNA.
- Another distant family member (my sister's mother-in-law) has been on death's door for about a year due to some unusual strain of cancer attacking her vital organs.

And now my sister-in-law who I just stayed with for a month. The one who teased me because I was so sick and had to go to the ER.

I don't think it's that I'm unaware; it's that I'm desensitized.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Mind your own damn business

Grace is a contributor to this blog. This blog is public. Sure, we don't advertise it to our friends and family, but it can be found. So I gotta be careful what I say and don't say.

Same goes for Facebook. Grace and I are friends on Facebook. Always have been, hope we always will be. She's never done anything to make me want to limit my profile to her, and I've respected her "space" in the social networking world.

(That being said, I'm thinking her honest comments on this matter would be priceless ;-) )

Moving on.

While I was growing up in my family, there was this curiosity about my romantic feelings that induced well-intentioned intrusion. My mother would question me about every boy I mentioned. And then she'd speculate about it with my grandmothers. Or my sisters. Or her friends at church. I hated it. It made me never want to date anyone. By the time I was in high school, I avoided discussing boys with my family at all costs. I had one boyfriend during all of high school (it lasted less than two months) and the rest of the time I hung out with gangs of friends. I remembered this feeling of resentment when I came time for me to parent my own adolescent daughter.

When Grace started high school, my advice to her was to have fun and not to get too serious with any one guy. Why? Because what's the point, really? You've got a lifetime to settle down with someone and commit a good bit of your time and resources to them. But you only have one chance to be a teen. One chance to make friends and hang out with them without too many time pressures. One chance to be carefree and find out who you are. In my opinion, the best shot a teen has at figuring out who they are is to do that independent of an attachment to a significant other. I told her that while she's a teen, she should look at romantic relationships and dating as like a best friend you happen to kiss sometimes. You don't start that relationship by someone walking up to you and saying, "let's get together this weekend." You don't have that friendship to the exclusion of others. And you don't hold on to that friendship if the other person isn't being a good friend.

Grace has been interested in boys on and off since she was in 7th grade. In these four years, there have been many episodes of fluttering feelings, heavy beating hearts, excitement and nerves, followed by cooling offs, mellowing outs, and resolutions to "just be friends." All in all, I'm fine with all of it. She seems to be able to identify the deadbeats and steer clear of them, regardless of how many times they hit on her. In the last month, she's been hanging out with one guy, trying to decide if he's someone she likes. Good, just as long as she keeps me up to speed on what's going on.

See, I figure she doesn't want me meddling in her life and getting off on the emotional volatility and possibilities of her romances. The best thing I can give her is a solid foundation to lean on when she needs me. She needs me to protect her, but not in a meddling way. I protect her because I love her, not because I find it exciting. I am not a matchmaker, an advice columnist, a gossip blogger, or a girlfriend. I am Grace's mother. I need to behave accordingly when she is a teenager in love.

Unfortunately, I'm not the only adult in Grace's life. There's lots of people who do get off on her possible romances. And meddle.

A year ago, Grace had her first real interest in a boy that she wanted to go on a date with. Nice kid. She mentioned it to her father. Who said he wanted to meet him. He told his sister. Who flew in to visit without Grace's knowledge. And at an orchestra concert where both Grace and the boy were performing, Grace's father waited to be introduced after the show. Grace's aunt pulled me to the side and said, "I hear Grace has a boyfriend! Was that him sitting to the right? With the brown hair? What do you think of him?" Ahem. Grace was 15 and the boy was 14. I think they are friends.

And then there's the times people meddle on facebook.

The last time Grace had a boyfriend, her father took the liberty posting on his facebook wall that he had just friended the boy as a way of keeping up with who he was. I think he was trying to say something witty about how technology today had completely changed his role as a responsible father. The romance was over a week later, in a quiet way. I don't know whether the boy retained his facebook connection with Grace's father.

Every time Grace puts up a picture on facebook of herself with a boy, my mother calls and asks who it is. Truth be told, most of her friends who are boys are gay. I never know what to tell my mother at that point. And I can never figure out why she asks me who the boys are and never who the girls are.

And then there's the latest event, the one that set my mind to blogging on this topic. A few days ago, Grace wrote on her facebook status that she went downtown with a boy. One of her aunts opened a facebook account less than a day ago. When she saw the status, she wrote, "Your aunt is asking who's [insert boy's name here]?" Subtle.

Is it any wonder teens avoid letting their parents see their facebook profiles? Grace happily accepts friend requests from all sorts of family and adult friends of the family. And she allows everyone to see her complete profile. Both her grandmothers, all her aunts and uncles and cousins, her parents and stepparents, and troves of friends of all these adults. All wanting to get a deeper look into the life of this teen. And comment on it. I give Grace a lot of credit; if I were her, I would have cut most of these people off a long time ago, what with their constant commentary on everything in her life.

Adults, remember what it was like to be a teenager. If a teenager allows you to take a peek into their real life, don't abuse that permission. Respect who they are and don't make embarrassing comments. If you do that, you only reenforce the teenager's desire to limit your access. And some of us parents are grateful that the teens trusts us with that peek.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Meddling, being honest, and how to keep friendships

Grace was at music camp last week. Choir concert, Grace looked and sounded great, I loved seeing her enjoy herself. Last night she told me that there was some drama during her week away. You know, the kind where the girls all talk late at night in their cabin and one girl confesses her undying love for a boy? And then some of the girls decide to intervene, you know, to help the fledgling lovers out? 'Cause their communication is breaking down? Except that by intervening, the girls make things worse. By the end of the trip, the one girl who was in love asked Grace what she thought of her. Grace was more than blunt. She told her she was being bitchy.

Did I mention that Grace didn't know the girl a week earlier? That she's an incoming freshman?

I told Grace she might not want to be so brutally honest with the girl. And that she shouldn't meddle. I don't know whether Grace is going to take my advice.

The whole story threw me back to my own middle school and high school experiences. (I confess, getting an invite to my 20th high school reunion this week helped the speed of my total recall significantly.) Remember when it was so exciting to be "in the know"? To be the one who was the facilitator? The helper? The one who was just trying to make everyone happy? I do. I seem to also recall stirring up quite a bit on controversy. Which was also exciting.

The point is, being the girl who was meddling oftentimes meant I was the one who caused unpleasant situations to come about. In the midst of my conversation with Grace about the situation, I told her that there are precious few times in which it's worth telling someone what you really think of their romantic inclinations towards another person. As soon as the words came out of my mouth, I started challenging my own advice.

Is that true? As an adult, there are so many of my girlfriends who have gone through dating and marriage and divorce and cohabiting and reuniting...and on and on and on and on it goes. Most recently, one of my longest-term friends asked me to meet her boyfriend. Her idea was that I am one of her dearest friends, one of her closest and most intimate friends, and someone whose judgment she trusts. She wanted my opinion on the boyfriend. It's not the first time she's asked. Anyways, the end of the story is that I told her I thought he was great. Was that the truth? I ask you a more relevant question: Does it matter what my opinion of her boyfriend is?

Being honest with a close friend, especially about someone they are involved romantically with, is dangerous stuff. When you're in love, when you're physically close with someone, you really don't want to hear an objective opinion on what someone outside of the relationship thinks of your lover. Sure, you want to hear that your lover is great, fantastic, friendly, kind, smart, clever, funny, generous, thoughtful, or talented. That's the feedback you're looking for -- a confirmation that, in spite of your giggling and silliness and inability to see things objectively, you are being wise and smart and making good choices. But when you're in love, when your heart is spilling over with admiration and adoration of another human being, you don't wanna hear anything negative about him.

So here's my dilemma. When is it safe to be honest with a friend regarding a lover? There are clear times, like if he's abusive or extortive. But what if he's just a jerk? What if you question his ethics? What if he just rubs you the wrong way, over and over and over again? What if you just don't click with him? I find myself weighing the value of what I think is best for a friend versus what is really best for that friend. So what if I don't agree with someone's politics or ethics? Or if I find them a jerk? Does that outweigh a friend's potential for unlimited happiness? Isn't it a bit arrogant of myself to believe that my long lasting friendship with someone is more valuable than someone else's relationship with her?

Of course, there is the other side to this dilemma. Live and let live, que sera, sera, and such. It's so easy to stay out of someone's business. So much easier than speaking your mind and risking the backlash. Then the question of what is more important is between my comfort and a friend's well-being.

Where does the line lay? Is there any way to formulate a rule that works in every situation?

I would love to hear the stories out there. One friend has already given me her sad experience, the moral of the story being, NEVER tell someone what you think of their lover. EVER. And the story really was very, very sad. Another friend, one who was separated from her husband when he was exploring the kinky side of middle age, she just reunited with him after six full years of feuding. They are happy as ever. Unfortunately, I was brutally honest with her and way over-involved in their complications. Now I'm wondering if we'll ever get the intimacy of our friendship back.

I'm just trying to figure out what I should tell Grace, you know? 'Cause like every good parent, this really has nothing to do with me (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, say-no-more, say-no-more).

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Some new posts & photos

For the month of August, the bloggers at Midwest Parents are posting pictures of their summer adventures. Yesterday and today I posted a couple.

Hopefully I'll put up some more later this month. So far I've just been able to go through the literally hundreds of photographs we took while in Brazil. I still need to go through the literally hundreds of pictures we took on Stella's birthday and at her birthday party this past weekend.

Sometimes I think digital photography is a blessing, sometimes it's a curse. Remember when you used to spend time setting up your picture in the frame and worrying about whether the lighting was the best?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Our lousy house

The mystery of my health prevails. I was still having some symptoms up until yesterday. But today I seem to be back to my normal self. Just in time for our next big adventure.

The cat.

My dear, sweet, terminally ill cat.

Who always lives inside and yet somehow contracted heartworms. Maybe. Or maybe she just developed the antibodies and the worms never got a chance to reproduce. The story goes that she has antibodies and the vet insists that we have to have the aforementioned feline cardiac ultrasound to confirm or deny that she has heartworms. (But if she has them, there's nothing we can do about it. So, what's the point of the ultrasound?)

Which leads me to my next big mystery. How our cat, who always stays inside and never is in contact with other animals, managed to contract LICE while we were away for a month to Brazil. She's in the house, with no other animals, and has someone coming to check on her each day. When we come home, there are clumps of cat fur and little, tiny, grain-of-salt-looking white balls on every horizontal surface. We noticed yesterday that if you give it a day, you also get some black stuff. And that the black stuff moves.

FUUUUUUCCCCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKKKK.

I've never had to deal with lice, whether the human or cat variety, before. Stella's birthday party is tomorrow afternoon. Children are coming to my house. And we can assume that there are little tiny bugs on every single textile in the house.

Let the de-lousing begin. Every bed, every couch, every sheet, every rug, every carpet, every surface, ugh. At least the house will be spanking clean for the party tomorrow, right?

Can someone out there please tell me whether I have to shampoo the cat? Because everything I've read seems to indicate that I do.

One of you out there will say, why don't you just take the cat to the vet and ask your questions there? Mostly because our vet costs a fortune. We take her there because she freaks out around other animals and this vet only treats cats. So we accept that it will be about $100 to walk in the door. But here's the ironic part: the only place I can think that the cat has been in contact with other animals in the last 2-3 months was at the vet's office! I wanna call them and tell them they need to pay for all my delousing paraphernalia plus give me our next visit free.

I think I'm never taking my cat to the vet again. All they do is tell me she's getting more ill and that I need to have really expensive tests done that we can't afford. And the trip to the office makes her freak out and that makes the heart condition worse. And now, she seems to have contracted lice at the office. What is the point?

Grace has to vacuum her room, sort all the laundry and then fold the clean laundry when it comes out of the dryer. Stella has to steer clear of lousy areas of the house. I have to go to the pet store and get lots of shampoo and powder and anything else I need to deal with this issue. And then keep sweeping, vacuuming, laundering, bleaching, and on and on. As for coping with this, I need to keep my head firmly attached to my shoulders. And I will visit my therapist this afternoon.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

I'm not going to ask "what next?" ever again.

I figured we needed some lightweight banter from Gracie before I jumped into what fresh hell has broken forth here in the wintery southern hemisphere this past week. Grace is a breath of fresh air, no?

Let's see, where to begin? First, a shout out to my good friend Little Miss Sunshine State. She and I are currently competing in a "who's on the worse run of bad luck" contest. If you'd like to enter, you'd better come up with something more exciting than what we've got. She's so much better than I am, though; she actually knows how to serve up fresh hot hell and make it sound pleasant and serene.

Roseola. That's what Stella's three-day fever of 103-104 was. It was followed by a nice, good, two days of rash. And then she was fine. My husband was just about over his week-long cold at that point, when it became clear that Grace and I had caught it. He went to the pharmacy and bought extra tissues and cold medicine. Then it got a little nutty.

Sunday was Stella's baptism. It was lots of fun, very nice. Hours of preparation and hours at the church. Lots of picture taking. Lots of smiles. Stella looked marvelous. But somewhere in the midst of my adrenalin, I knew something was not right. I felt tired, weak. By the afternoon, every time I ate or drank something, I felt nauseous.

(I know what you're thinking: she's pregnant again. Well, no, no such luck. That explanation would be oh, so simple.)

By Monday, I was thinking I should fast. Clearly something was up and I just needed to give my body a chance to purge itself and then start over. By Monday night, my body started involuntarily purging my digestive tract. On Tuesday morning, I decided not to eat anything and stuck with a few glasses of warm water. Some apple tea. Then about mid afternoon, a banana and cinnamon tea. Still, something was not quite right. I fell asleep.

Fast forward to that evening. I know something is very wrong. I'm having very bad abdominal cramping. No one is home with me and Stella, so I nurse her at 7p, lay her down in her crib, and pray she falls asleep. And she did. And then I lay on the couch, moaning, trying to visualize a focal object as I breathe through pain. Trying to imagine myself wrapped in a protective cocoon and relax my muscles. Trying to stop whatever is happening.

At 9p, Grace came home. I told her to be quiet so Stella wouldn't wake up. I couldn't stand up for more than a few seconds without feeling faint. My brother-in-law (who gave Grace a ride home) asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital. I said, no, there's no need. And really, at that point, I believed that.

Really.

The truth of the situation is, I have been trying to stay out of the hospital for twelve months straight. It's a modest goal, don't you think? It's been at least five years since I was able to do that. Every time I think things are wrapped up nicely and that I'm healthy and can go about my merry way, WHAM! Something hits me upside the head and there I am again.

This week, on Tuesday night, it was that around 10p I broke out in tiny little red bumps all over the top of my thighs. I took benadryl. It kept spreading, up my torso and around to my back. My sister-in-law came home (an RN no less), took one look at my legs and asked, "what is that?!?!" I guessed maybe allergies. My husband came home a few minutes later. The look on his face said it all. I took a second dose of benadryl and a shower. Then I laid down to rest. Still, stomach cramps, body rejecting everything in my GI tract, and hives spreading everywhere, from the tip of my head to the bottom of my feet.

By midnight, I told my husband to take me to emergency. By the time we got there, I couldn't walk anymore. By the time I had been triaged, I couldn't sit up anymore. It's the only time in my life I can remember thinking, 'Don't let me die right now.'

Three hours later, and lots of injections and blood tests later, the news came: I've got some infection.

The last time this happened to me was November 2009, while I was on antibiotics because there was some uterine infection of leftover placenta. After I saw my allergist, I was left with the same thing I had before: this isn't something from the outside that's causing this reaction, it's on the inside. My body has some infection and it doesn't know what to do, so it does everything it can to get rid of it. The problem is, it's killing me while it's trying to get rid of the infection.

But, what's the infection?

The last piece of evidence came by Wednesday morning. Those horrible stomach cramps? Period. Way too early. WAY too early. By this point I realized, I gotta call my reproductive endocrinologist and find out what's going on inside my body. The office scheduled an appointment for me the morning after we return home.

I'm hoping for the best. Next week Grace is having her wisdom teeth removed. I have to sort things out with the insurance adjuster as per our car accident of exactly four weeks ago. I need to plan Stella's first birthday party, taking place less than two weeks from today. I'd like to take some time to go to the pool with the girls, maybe trim boxwoods in the back and transplant some to the front yard.

But I've got a sick sinking feeling, somehow I've got to be ready to accept that I may have to schedule a surgery for myself in there.

Friday, July 23, 2010

My Addiction: McDonald's


I'm just going to come out up front. I love McDonald's.... it's as simple as that. My mom, stepdad, sister, and me are all in Brazil. I have been training by myself for swim team. I hadn't eaten fast food in like 3 weeks!... that's a long time for me. The last I had gone to McDonald's was with my best friend on June 26. I go to McDonald's almost once a week... yeah, I know, it's bad.

The other day, my mom, one of my tias, and me were coming home after my swim training. There was a lot of traffic (it was Friday night) and the ride takes about 20 to 30 minutes. I was supposed to have gone to McDonald's that night after practice with my stepdad, but he stayed home with Stella, so I couldn't go. I was quite pissed off about this new change of plans. Anyways, we were driving home and I talked about McDonald's the entire ride. When I say "the entire ride", I mean the entire ride, from the time I got into the car to the time when I got out of the car.

My mom started to get really fed up with my persistent talking. We were about 100 yd from the house when my tia got out her cell phone to call my stepdad. She said she was going to ask if I could go get fast food. My hopes were high at first, but nobody answered the phone so I just dropped it.

The next day, Saturday, my stepdad, mom, sister, another one of my tias, and I went to the hospital. We gone for the entire day. I was getting tired and bored. My mom and tia started telling me that if I did a runway walk down the hospital hallway, that we could go get McDonald's. I said no... of course! I mean, it's a hospital not America's Next Top Model! I asked my mom later if we were going to McDonald's, and she told me that she gave me a chance but I refused! As you can imagine, I was pissed off. I had spent the entire day in a hospital with nothing to do and now I couldn't even have McDonald's!!!

We went home and I started taking off my jewelry and shoes, when my stepdad told me we were going out to eat. I asked where and he said.... FAST FOOD!!!!! O.Mi.Gawd! You should have seen my face! I went from neutral to pure over ecstasy. The best part was that, I could see all of this unfold because I was in front of a mirror.

We got to the food court at the mall, I saw the golden arches, and I swear I had a heart attack. Mom: I think Grace is going to pass out if she can see the golden arches but she can't taste them.

My stepdad wanted to look around at the other places and I started to get a desperate look on my face. Mom: Grace is getting a desperate look on her face like she might not be getting McDonald's. I think you need to reassure her.

I went up to the counter and ordered a number 1 meal. The price? About $8.50!!! That's proof of an addiction right there. I sat down with my meal while my stepdad, mom, and tia (yes, another one) were still deciding what to order. I said that I would wait to eat. I ate one fries, two fries, three fries... so on and so forth. I offered fries to my tia and she took a couple. That's when she said she was going to get Giraffas (a Brazilian fast food chain). By that time I had already eaten all my fries.

Baduh duh duh duhhhh I'm lovin' it

 
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