Boiling Over

Its day 2 of my new job and I’m exhausted. Last night I was sicker than a dog. I have no clue why. I think I really may have IBS or an ulcer or something, because these “episodes” are getting more frequent and have brought me to a whole new level of scary. I was sweaty and chilled last night. I went to bed wrapped in my hoodie, shaky as hell. My head hurt, I had shooting pains in my gut. I felt like I was reenacting the scene from Alien, waiting for a tiny green monster to come shooting out of my belly.

At about 2 am, I refused to consider calling in to work. I was GOING TO BE BETTER BY MORNING. LB climbed into bed with me at about 5 am, so I figured I might as well get up and see if I could maintain a lucid state. I got out my morning injections and held the needle over my belly for about 5 minutes. I thought about the evil gurgling pain underneath the skin, daring me to stick a pin in it. I thought about the soon-to-be mom in California, praying that her unknown single mom donor was following directions so she could finally get a positive pregnancy test.

3 weeks to go.

I weakly managed to scrape my windshield, get the toddler dressed and fed, pack her pajamas (per Blondie’s request), drink some green tea and get to daycare before passing out at the wheel. Upon entering the office, my new boss exclaimed “Yay! We didn’t drive you off after the first day.”

I nibbled on some toast at lunch, but I’m really thinking about going home after work and taking a nap while LB is at her dad’s. I turned in my 30-day notice and last month’s rent today. Now I wait for the federal lease-break guillotine to begin. 

Of course I had to use a stove/cooking analogy in my last post, and here’s our horoscope for today:

Moon joins with Aquarius so that can make today a HIGHLY EMOTIONAL DAY! Especially if it is about community or collective energy where you have to cooperate with a group. Uranus has stressful aspects so things can come flying out of seemingly no where. In fact, this situation has been boiling and stewing for quite a bit now. It just boils OVER the pot lip today. But, fess up, haven’t you been a bit annoyed for a while already?

‘Nuff said.

Mommy, you make me cry.

I walked into work crying today, and my boss immediately called her hubby to come “tap” on me. They really care about me, which is going to make leaving this job (if it ever happens) even harder. Last night was rough.

Rooferman actually picked up LB at daycare for the first time (and before they closed!) and continued his “I’m the best father in the world” 2-day streak. I went to the gym to burn off the anxiety I had been feeling all day, and went to pick Boo Boo Bear up at 7:30.

Ignoring the McCain/Palin sign that’s still in their window, I knocked on the door and was greeted by Blondie’s 5-year-old daughter demanding “Why can’t LB stay the night?” I told her that she sleeps at her own house, in her own bed. Blondie then gave me a dirty look and said “Don’t worry honey, she’ll be sleeping over very soon.”

Okayyy. Was that a threat? Rooferman didn’t say a word, other than directing LB to “give your sister a hug.”

I asked him if he had any trouble finding the daycare. He ignored me.

Blondie daughter #2 came up to me and asked, “Why are you so mean to my daddy?”

I looked at Rooferman and said, “Same thing Thursday?”  He ignored me.

On that note, I turned on my mean mommy heel and left.

 Driving home, LB said from the backseat “I have two mommies.”

I almost threw up right there.

 When we got home, she told me she was hungry. I asked if she had eaten any dinner. She said, “I eat candy.”

 Great.

She wet herself as she was eating some toast. I asked her if she went potty at daddy’s house. She said “I don’t like to go potty there.”

She then proceeded to cry from about 8:30 to 10:30, as I was trying to get her to sleep. Eventually she was so hysterical she didn’t know what she wanted. She was yawning and screaming. She was asking for her blanket and then throwing back at me. I sat outside her bedroom door and sobbed, wondering if my worst fear had come true.

The door opened. A tear-streaked LB came to me and said ‘Mommy you make me cry.”

I gave up. She slept in Mommys’ bed last night.

Is this what the rest of my life is going to be like?

Too much on his plate

Since the Judge ordered Rooferman to attempt to see his daughter 3x a week now, I got a call from His Deadbeatness to set up last night’s visitation. He was as sweet as pie to the Judge, professing he ‘hadn’t seen his daughter in a long time, and that’s all he wanted to do.”

So I requested he actually show up on Sundays, and that he see LB for 3 hours on Tuesday and Thursday. Since I don’t have him on the daycare pick-up list anymore, I told him I could pick her up and drop her off at his house. He told me he wouldn’t be there until 5:30 pm. I said “LB’s daycare closes at 5:00, so I usually pick her up at 4:30.” Like he cared.

So I brought LB back to my office for an hour, which was fine because I work in education, and its a kid-friendly environment where everyone lavishes her with attention. Afterwards, I drive to Rooferman’s house, and low-and behold he’s not there. He calls and says he’s running late, but to “hang tight” until he gets there.

Sigh. Deja vu.

He pulls up in his shop truck, and out pour 3 little girls, Blondie and himself. I extract LB from her carseat and start ushering her up the hill. Then I notice Blondie is crying. Rooferman wraps her in his construction-worker embrace. I stand awkwardly with our daughter, waiting for her dad to acknowledge her presence. Finally he says hi to LB and with some prodding, she goes to hug him. He looks at me and says shortly, “What time?”

“7:30.”

“Judge said bedtime.”

“No, he said 30 minutes before bedtime. She goes to bed at 8:00 pm.”

He and Blondie give me the look of death, and he says “Well we’re running a little late, so how about 8?”

This is NOT happening. After all the times I’ve been flexible and let him get away with showing up late, or switching days, or bailing completely and covering for him, I have no tolerance anymore. I tell them I’m just going to the gym and I will be back in 2 hours. Next time he can pick her up from daycare and have a full 3 hours.

I’m sure after I left he and Blondie had a “curse the ex” party, because LB came home saying “F-U.” Apparently that’s what “daddy says.” Great. Blondie was still crying, and even Rooferman’s eyes looked wet when I returned. Kids were strewn about the living room, watching TV. Blondie kept calling more adults in to say goodbye to LB. I kept thinking, how many people live here?  I decided it was Blondie’s sister and her boyfriend, because she told LB to call them “Aunt and Uncle.”

Sigh.

Who knows what drama was plaguing their lives. But its obvious that Rooferman and Blondie are struggling and overwhelmed. I wonder how much they have on their plate right now. How many people they are responsible for? How far behind they are on rent? How many jobs does Rooferman have lined up in our sad-ass economy?

My friend who works at the county, said that last year over 200 building permit applications were submitted. This year, there’s been less than 75. How does that translate to roofing jobs? As you drive through the county, you can see construction sites that are like ghost towns; half-built grocery stores without windows or paved parking lots, homes without siding, still wrapped in Tyvec. You can walk through my neighborhood at Three Springs, and inside the office buildings you can see insulation still covering the walls. No businesses have shown interest in moving in, so why finish the job?

Winter is coming. We’ve already had snow. I know how hard its going to be on Rooferman. I remember the frostbitten fingers, the frozen shingles, the dangerous, icy roofs. There’s a reason why roofing is in the top ten most deadly jobs. The first winter I was with him, I came home to him slugging off a bottle of tequila. Earlier he had watched a man slip off a 3-story roof and impale himself on the scaffolding below.

I really don’t see how he’s going to be able to follow the Judge’s orders. I’m pretty sure both he and Blondie hate my guts right now, adding more stress to their lives. I actually feel kind of sorry for them. I’m also shocked how devoted and involved Rooferman is to his new life. Its like he’s wiped the slate clean and created a new identity for himself.

Mostly, I’m just relieved my that’s not my life anymore. Wow, do I sound like a heartless bitch or what?

Aftermath

After court, I returned to my office and went directly to the restroom. I’ve been hiding in the girl’s room for purposes of crying since elementary school.  I think its a female tradition (or maybe just mine). As I lurched out of the stall, I felt a sick wave of white light pass over my eyes. It felt like I had just donated a gallon of blood, or had a limb removed. I felt like I might blackout.

I pulled myself together and went back to my desk, where I sat staring at my computer for the rest of the afternoon, a dull glaze over my eyes. I had nothing more than one word responses for people after that, even though I had text messages flying in, emails popping up, people wanting to know how court went.

I had been trying to nibble on a Luna bar all day long, so my brain would have some protein to present to the invisible Judge I was going to see. At about 1:30 pm, it was obvious my stomach was not going to accept more than 1/3 of the bar, so I tossed it. I had tossed my Republican blazer due to the profuse amount of sweat I was contributing to the cloth’s synthetic texture. I looked like a sad, naked, hungry, smelly dog someone had abandoned.

The lightheadedness eventually was replaced by total body shut down. I was more exhausted than I have ever been in my life, even after labor. I felt like I had climbed Everest, run the Boston Marathon and participated in Final Jeopardy all at the same time. I was mentally, emotionally and physically done. Stick a fork in me. I got home and curled up in the fetal position on the couch while LB watched Winnie the Pooh.

I’ve been fearing, obsessing, dreading, thinking, planning, preparing and talking about this day for almost a year now. I may not have realized how much I had built my first court appearance up. It had been sitting there in the back of my mind constantly for half of LB’s life. As much as the “tapping” and blogging had helped me deal with the stress, it was evident that my body was still suffering the effects. I don’t know if fasting all day added to it, but everything came crashing down last night. The floodgates had been opened, and I was completely drained.

My lovely sister sent me a text that said, “Hey, at least you’re not constipated anymore!” Thanks sweetness.

At least the proverbial cherry’s been popped. I’m officially part of the court system. Thank God I have the wisdom and grace of the rest of the blogging world to give me strength. You don’t mind if I mainline it directly, do you?

Uncanny

I’ve been feeling a uncanny sense of peace this past week. I don’t know if its because I’ve been practicing some hippie stress relief tips (and no, its not weed smoking), or if its the comforting repetition of last year’s egg donation process.

Once again I will be lining up vials of medicine, attaching needles, drawing up solutions, numbing my rear end with frozen green chilies. Last year, I was filled with apprehension; wondering if I were administering the very expensive drugs (without any assistance other than phone instructions) correctly. Hundreds of miles away, another woman was doing the same thing, praying nightly for the careful preparation of her body and the financial investment to result in the much-desired pregnancy. 

I have no fear this time.

The counselor who conducted the Parenting Class got to watch me wig out and completely lose my s***. The kind-hearted old hippie immediately told me to drop everything and follow his “Woo woo” instructions (yeah, he actually said that). I was to take two fingers and tap firmly on 11 different “meridian” points located on different parts of my body. Standard Traditional Chinese Medicine, the same idea behind acupuncture.

 I’m about as jaded as any other kid raised on hippie voodoo. I’ve watched my mom throw the I Ching . I’ve helped my dad make Macramé owls. I’ve listened to Living with Joymeditation tapes my mom gave my 7-year-old sister to help her fall asleep. I learned how to read Tarot cards at age 12. In other words, I’ve be exposed to a lot of Artsy-fartsy, “alternative lifestyle” mumbo jumbo, which has helped mold the fabulous person I am today.

When counselor man told me to start tapping, I was thinking, my issues are more than just skin deep, this is ridiculous. But with my court date approaching, my mind was orchestrating a custodial Greek Tragedy there in front of the judge, and the anxiety surrounding that image could not be vanquished. It had been a constant presence in my life for the previous 10 months. So I started tapping.

I’ve tapped on my skin every night since October 8th. Then I say my prayers and ask for courage, strength, confidence, peace and justice. And guess what? I’ve managed to keep my blood pressure at a normal rate when I’m calling the Sheriff’s Office, or the Courts. I don’t get sweaty when I’m going over my statements, or typing up my legal journal, and I no longer feel like puking when I think about standing in front of a judge.

And Rooferman? Well, I think about it like this: He’s in his own little bubble, where he makes his own rules, acts the way he wants and talks in a language only he understands. As long as I picture being him enclosed by that bubble, where his words and actions never leave the atmosphere of his world, it can’t affect me. When he talks in a language I can understand, ei: with respect, the ability to negotiate, openness, and without anger and immaturity, then his words mean something to me. Everything else that happens in his bubble has no affect on my life whatsoever.

Rooferman will still be talking from that bubble when he’s in front of the judge next Thursday. He will probably live in that bubble for the rest of his life. Hopefully he will be able to communicate with the outside world, and have a relationship with his daughter. Until now, I thought it was ME who needed a protective bubble in order to be strong, but really its the opposite. He’s the one who doesn’t feel safe in the real world. As for me? I’m thriving.

I don’t know if I can credit “tapping”, blogging, reading other blogs, reading Anne Lamott, the moon, or what, but this week has been good. I hope I’m not jinxing myself.

Single Mom, Interrupted

I know everyone keeps telling me that the season change effects everyone in different ways. At 6500 feet, people complain of vertigo, nausea and headaches this time of year. The first fall cold has been running its course through the office and daycare, and yes, there’s the horrid aspect of losing soul-feeding sunlight.

The combination of earlier bedtimes and darker mornings puts everyone in a pissy mood, but my 2-year-old has brought “pissy” to a whole new level. I would really like to blame this new development of anti-bedtime on the kamikaze daddy appearance 2.5 weeks ago, but like everyone keeps telling me “its probably just a phase.”

This phase got to me last night. I’m pretty good at keeping my cool. I’ve seen some moms go off at the drop of a hat. Luckily, for parenting purposes, Pisceans are understanding, empathetic and in tune to people’s needs. However, the Aries Moon and Taurus Rising add impatience and stubbornness to the oh so sweet fishy personality.

I was on a roll last week with working out. I successfully completed an aerobic DVD each night of the week. I also hijacked my friend’s Wii Fit and learned that I am just .25(units?) away from being overweight, so I want to make sure I don’t slack this week. Did Hula Abs & Buns on Monday. Score.

Last night was not so easy. I figure if I start the whole bedtime process around 7:30 pm, with a bath, a little playtime in her bedroom, and end up with a story and song, then said Kiddo should be ready for lights out at 8:00 right?

WRONG. DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS PLAN. In addition, DO not even THINK about trying to workout until 2-year-old old has stayed in her bedroom for more than 30 minutes. Otherwise, you are sentencing yourself to this fate:

  • Get your love handles to break a sweat
  • See toddler peeking around corner
  • Push stop on DVD
  • Usher child back to bed
  • Return to DVD, attempt to re-break your sweat
  • Hear toddler’s bedroom door opening
  • Yell at toddler to go back to bed
  • Hear “I want Water”
  • Push stop on DVD
  • Give child water and stand in doorway until she lays back down
  • Return to DVD, where the hot bodies are glowing sufficiently, while your heart rate has dropped
  • Hear door open again. “Mommy!”
  • Yell “Mommy needs her exercise! GO TO SLEEP!”
  • Hear toddler cry
  • Furiously push stop on DVD
  • Stomp up stairs and herd daughter back to bed
  • Return to DVD, start crying at the lack of calories being burned, and the mean mommy ‘tude
  • Hear door open.
  • Ignore evidence of toddler emerging, teary desperation taking hold of me.
  • See daughter’s face peek around corner again.
  • Beat stop button with fist, haul child back to room, slam door in fury.
  • Cry through rest of workout, feeling fat, angry and exhausted

This has got to be one of the hardest things for me, as a single mom: Trying to complete a task without major frustration at being continually interrupted. My entire day at work consists of being interrupted, re-assigned, asked to do other things, coming back to assignments, getting interrupted by the phone, email, fax, people….

I know MOST people do this. Its called multi-tasking, and being a mom, I really should become adept at this skill. Last night I had this bitter fantasy of having a husband who would take bedtime duty while I could finish a simple 30-minute workout, which took me over an hour and a half to complete last night.

 I fantasized that if I were married, my hubby and I would take “shifts”, like any other job.  I could schedule my workout when I was “off the clock” on my parenting shift. I wouldn’t have to worry about the 10 times my daughter got up, because it would be her father’s responsibility.

Sadly, LB does not have a daddy who takes responsibility, and therefore, I am always on the clock. I try my hardest to be attentive, supportive, involved and enthralled by every waking moment I have with my daughter, because I only have those 4 hours between daycare pickup and bedtime to do so. Those moments are so valuable to me, that I have refused to add yet another hour to her daycare life, so I can workout at the local gym.

Once she is in bed, that time is golden. Its precious. After the dishes are done, the crumbs are dust-busted, the laundry started, the mail sorted, the bills paid, the toys picked up, that’s when I can try to squeeze in a workout and netflix. Since this time is as valuable to me as the time I spend with my daughter, maybe that’s why I become so upset when its interrupted. In my brain I’m angrily thinking “No. This is MY time. I was a good mom and gave you YOUR time. Now you go to sleep, and I get to de-stress, THAT’S HOW ITS SUPPOSED TO WORK! THAT’S WHAT’S FAIR! I CAN’T DO THIS ANY OTHER WAY!”

Goals as a single mom: De-stess. Stop getting frustrated. Accept interruptions as a part of life.

I’m screwed.

Hurting the Public

I had absolutely no time to blog yesterday. I didn’t even have time to eat lunch. I lost count of how many angry phone calls I answered. Here’s a recap:

  • One mom told me I obviously didn’t know what I was talking about, and I might as well forward her to someone who “can actually make decisions.”
  • Another mom screamed and threatened and eventually started crying after 15 minutes on the phone with me.
  • A grandma came into my office and asked if there was “anyone here who actually knew what they were doing.”
  • Another mom told me that the way we are running our program this year is wrong, completely unfair to working parents, and she will take this up with the board of education.
  • The most common response was “You’re kidding, right?”
  • The nicer parents were the ones who told me “Well, I know this really isn’t your fault, BUT….”

Due to confidentiality, I’m not going to blog about what program is being met with such resistance. Those of you who live in Durango and have school aged kids, I’m sure you know what program I’m talking about. Ever since my boss was told that changes needed to happen this year, or else the program wouldn’t exist, I have been dreading the beginning of this school year. Why? because I feel for the parents. Hell, I AM one of those parents. I don’t have alternative options, extra resources and a variety of choices.

How do I tell a mom who is crying because they are about to foreclose on her house that, no, I can’t make an exception? I can’t defer her payment until September. How do I tell a mom who is currently going back to school that she needs to pay for services upfront, even though tuition, books, and college supplies have drained her entire bank account for the month of August? How do I tell my single mom neighbor that her three kids are going to be turned away from the program because she hasn’t pre-enrolled them?

I hate my job right now. I hate hurting parents. I hate being the bad guy to people I don’t even know, and who definitely don’t deserve to be screwed over. I can hear people’s voices cracking over the phone. I can hear them trying to keep it together, hoping they can keep themselves under control. I hear that aching silence on the other end of the line after I give them an answer they don’t want to hear.

You can feel the tension everywhere: at the gas station, in the grocery store, at the bank, and by the time moms & dads get to my office, its the last straw. I’m cannon fodder for people feeling the squeeze.

My boss came over to my desk at the end of the day and said “I think you should talk to my husband.” Her hubby is a therapist. She also offered to watch LB so I could take her tickets to the Bar-D Wranglers last night.

Man, I must look pretty busted.

I thanked her and politely declined. I didn’t have the energy to be social, to fake another smile. I just wanted to go home and sink into the couch. I did exactly that, while LB played on the floor with her aquadoodle. As I stared up at my ceiling fan, and felt the heat of my apartment surround my already sweaty body, I wept.

I wept for the mom who is going to lose her house. I wept for my neighbor who was fired from her job yesterday. I wept for LB, who keeps coming into my room at 4 am, shaking with sobs. I wept for the woman thee doors down who was thrown through her bedroom window Tuesday night . And I wept for myself, cause school hasn’t even started yet.