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Archive for August, 2007

I did not give birth 13 years ago

Why is my eldest acting like a teenager?  She is not a teenager.  She is a couple years shy.  A couple years and one month.

she’s sulking today about the party we are to attend tomorrow.  Part of it my be her lingering disappointment that she’s missing a visit with her Auntie J, but that’s not what she’s talking about today (that was last night’s string of accusations toward ME!).  Today she is talking about the fact that with 20 kids and 80 adults, she is the only person her age, and she may as well just bring 20 books to read, since none of the 20 kids are people she can play with.  She also complained that she can’t bring any of her favorite DVDs to watch with the kids, because those kids are so little, they’ll be bored to death before the credits are over.  (She may have a point – the movies she adores:  Singing in the Rain, The Music Man and J’s choice – The Sound of Music.)

Now we’re home and she should be packing, but every time I turn around, she’s off in a corner reading a book that she won’t put down (Thanks, Beloved, you’re a star).

Why this behavior?  Why so early?

It’s not fair!!

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The girls’ lemonade stand was a success.  They were good planners, and took care of everything on their own.  They forgot something from the store, and E went right back out and got it, bringing back little 5 cent candies for each of the 4 kids as a treat.

They earned approx $20, which I thought was pretty good.

And in the meantime,  I did 7 loads of laundry, caught up on e-mail, and prepped dinner.

I ended up keeping both of the girls’ friends for dinner, and when their moms picked them up, we ended up chatting on my couch for almost 2 hours.

Now I’m just beat.  Beat!

I’m going to CT tomorrow for my nephew’s birth-party (not his birthDAY – he’s 14 weeks old.  It’s a post-baby baby shower).  I offered my services to my mother, since I am not working and she is, and she just e-mailed me a rather long grocery list.  We’ll be leaving here mid-day, and I’m crossing my fingers that we won’t hit traffic.

Quote of the Day:

As I’m tucking the girls in at the end of the day (much later than it should have been):

J:  [big, deep, heavy sigh]

Me [from E’s bed]:  What was that?  

J:  A sigh.

Me:  What for?

J:  I was a big day today.  With no sighs. 

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When Chaos Brings Peace

Beloved just remarked that I am a “better person” than he, because I have 4 girls in my care today.  Four real girls — not my 2 girls acting like weird people I don’t know.  Each of my girls have a friend over.

But this is not a problem.  This is better than it would be if only 3 girls were here, and likely better than if I had just my 2.  It’s not that I’m a good person, it’s that I’m a good planner!  They each have a friend.  No one is feeling left out, no one is being shunned, no one is forced to try and blend in with their younger/older sister and her friend.

See, a good thing.

__________________________

Update:  I spoke way too soon.  I have a mob in my house.  A mob, I tell you.  First, they come up with the grand scheme that I will take them all to a toy store, and buy them all TOYS.  Huh?  These toys.   Since when is my job to take kids out and buy them toys?  They’re supposed to be playing.  We planned a trip to the pool.  They were gonna bring bikes.  We didn’t plan to buy them all TOYS.

Of course, I said, “Absolutely not.  Do not even raise it again.  There is no way we are doing that.”

Next brilliant plan:  A lemonade stand.

My kids have wanted to do this so many times, and every time I say no.  This time, I decided NOT to say no, but to require them to think the entire thing through.  All four of them went into the bedroom and came up with a plan.  I donated all the cash I had to the endeavor:  $5.  Oooh, big spender (at least it isn’t TOYS).  The older girls just left to buy lemonade mix, the younger girls are making a sign.

I don’t think it’s a bad thing.  They’re all working together, and thinking it through.  They’re busy and focused.

And they’re old enough that I have no problem saying, “hey, I’m doing laundry, y’all work it out on your own!”

At least they stopped asking me for toys.

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Sisters and In-Laws

I have blogged in the past about my ex-mother-in-law. She bugs me. No secret. She is really freaking annoying, and I never liked her.

Notice, however, that I never speak of my current mother-in-law. Or sister-in-law. Or father-in-law. Or brothers-in-law.

I’ve never met them. Not in person, that is. My sister-in-law has e-mailed me a couple of times. Mostly as a gateway to her brother, with whom she has not had a relationship since she was a child. Since he was in his early 20’s.

Remember earlier today when I said Beloved is 45?

Yeah, that means it’s been 20 years.

20 years since he’s had a relationship with his family.

Even longer since his father threw up his mental hands and checked out of the family (and society at large). Likely the beginning of the end for Beloved. Perhaps it would be for me, too, if my father struck me, sending me flying across the room into a wall and knocking me unconscious in the process.

It’s odd, then. Knowing that his sister has this window into me and my life. What seems a bit odder is how much she’s looking through it.

Why this way?

Why not a conversation?

I’ve made myself available.  It’s clear that I’m independent-minded, and capable of an emotionally-detached exchange.

I really don’t pretend to understand cutting oneself off from one’s family. My family drives me up a fucking wall 80% of the time, and to think of being cut off from any one of them makes me unbearably sad.

I’m told that it’s because regardless of the wall-driving, we have relationships. We have a history of dinner table conversations, of sharing, of honesty. I know things that happened in my siblings’ lives. My mother and I have honest conversations.  My father never abandoned me, leaving me, his oldest child, to shoulder the responsibilities of an adult at the age of 15.  He made it clear that he loved me, regardless of viewpoints that we didn’t share.  Regardless the 1,000s of things I did of which he didn’t approve.

Hell … I know where my ancestors come from. And not because of internet genealogy searches, but because my parents shared it with me.  Story after story.  The great-great uncle who was shot and killed while trying to climb the wall out of Lithuania, the villages in Ireland where the great-great grandmother came from.  The Czech roots of my name (where my blogging name comes from). The struggles that my family went through in their early days in this country.

We spent years cuddling.  Of sharing things we read. Of reading books out loud. Even our arguments, I’m told, are proof of our closeness.

While my sister and brother and I all argue, I know that if we had to, we could pull together. We have before, and we would again.

If one of our parents were to fall ill, we wouldn’t use it as a power play amongst ourselves. We wouldn’t look for ways to control one another, to throw the past in one another’s faces. We would cry, and we would hug, and we would do everything we could to give our parents full access to ALL of their children.

We would help each other to resolve that which required resolution, and help to support each other through that which could not be resolved.

My sister left our family for a little while back in mid-90s.  We all mourned the loss for the entire time that she was out of touch.  I dreamed about her several times a week.  Yes, I was angry, but mostly – I was sad.  Her absence was a hole in my life.  It wasn’t something to sneer at, or to capitalize on.  It was something to mourn.  I did not spend the time convincing my mother of the evil-tude of my sister.  I did not point out to my mother all the wrongs my sister inflicted upon her.  Instead, I tried to help my mother find acceptance of who my sister was, so that healing could take place and a relationship could be rebuilt.

And when my sister returned to our family, and when she and I rebuilt our relationship, I never pretended that the only way she could bridge the chasm between her and my parents was through ME.  I never thought it would be appropriate to put myself in the way of a direct relationship – because it wouldn’t have been.

So while I don’t understand, I know that it’s apples to oranges.

I still hope, sometimes, for forgiveness.

Because as much as I know that my daughter experience was an apple, I’m not sure that a mother’s experience comes in different fruit varieties.  I think a mom is just a mom. We all do our best, and we all love our children.  We invest so much in them.  We give up an early start to a career and we give up freedom – we give up time that could be spent on self-improvement, and on adventure, and we pour it into our children.

And always first is the oldest (duh).  The first bond, the first priority-setter, the first one to shape what we think is necessary.  To shape our role.  Of course the role shifts and changes according to our younger children’s needs.  But really, the oldest?  They are the initiators.

It must be impossible to forget.  I cannot imagine forgetting.

A mom is a mom.  A mom isn’t an apple or an orange.  It’s like us moms are all Jolly Ranchers.  You may be apple flavored, you may be watermelon (gross, gag, puke), but you’re still a Jolly Rancher, and that Jolly Rancher taste is present in all the flavors.

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Whirlwind!

J’s BFF stopped by today. Her sister and E are also friends, so there were 4 girls very happy to see each other. Beloved and I chatted with their dad about our respective summer travels. One fun tidbit to share:

Zuska, you are noticeably more relaxed and upbeat now that the bar exam is over!

Me. Relaxed. Upbeat. Happy.

I need to enjoy my time off. Soak it up. Find a way to store up some reserves. So that when work starts up, I don’t seem “unhappy” or “tense” or whatever other opposites were lurking in my compliment.

Because that’s what I do. I look for opposites.

Well, that’s what I would do. If I weren’t so relaxed.

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J did not need shots.  She deserves a break like this, since she’s really in turmoil over the braces.  Poor kid.  She wants her teeth fixed, but is not happy about all she has to go through in the meantime.  She is actually quite stressed.

J’s BFF just returned from a several-week vacation, which overlapped with J’s 5 week stint in the Middle of the Country.  So we’re hoping that they will be reunited today.  Firm plans are in place for tomorrow.

I have done some cleaning.  Not a lot, but some.  Which is, of course, better than none.  And I also tinkered with the blog, if you hadn’t noticed.

The girls are reading and waiting for return phone calls.  I will eventually have to leave my air conditioning to pick up a few small items at the grocery store for dinner.

We are going away this weekend.  I sort of don’t want to.  As much as I felt yesterday that I’m ready to go to work, I am today feeling quite content in my home with my girls.  I have a lot to do around the house, because I host book group on Tuesday.  It would be nice to be home this weekend.  But there is a Big Celebration going on in the home state, and my presence is mandatory, and I will have a good time.  It’s not that I don’t want to be there for it, I just am comfortable.

I do know, however, how fleeting this type of comfort is.  It transforms into boredom in the blink of an eye, and I become Bitchy Zuska, rather than comfy smiling Zuska.

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Craftiness

Not as in sneakiness. As in making things.

The other day, I took E and a friend to the Clayroom. I believe these places exist all over the country – where you go and decorate cups, mugs, dishes. I used to think they were pottery places, and I think their name infers that. However, you don’t get to make the pieces. They’re already made. You just get to paint them.

When I thought of the idea as a birthday present for E’s friend, I worried that perhaps the girls were too old for this. E was excited by it, though, so I checked with the friend’s mom, who said her daughter would also LOVE it. This was in June. Camp happened. The girls’ trip to the Middle of the Country happened. Lots of time went by. Finally, in August, I said, “Let’s go to the Clayroom!”

When we got there, I hadn’t yet decided whether I would participate in the pottery-painting. I had no idea how much it would cost (yeah, I should have done the research before making the promise, but in June, I had not yet spent a summer spending money, and wasn’t worried about it), and if it was $30/person, I was going to sit on the sidelines and read a book. It was not $30/person. It was more like $15/person, and seemed reasonable. I realized that E’s choice was a complicated one (a box, with a lid — and the design she came up with was quite detailed), and that I’d be bored if I just sat there. And I forgot my book. And, honestly, it looked like fun.

I looked around the room (which was full), and saw that other than the 2 kids I had with me, there were mostly adults in the room. Couples and 20-somethings on their own. Two people were painstakingly painting intricate designs onto piggy banks, and my guess is they were baby shower gifts (and the two people were not together). One group was some sort of shower or party, and this was their second stop. I am not embarrassed to admit that I recognized the picture on the bags which clearly came from their first stop. We’ve already established that I am a sexual being. They were making gorgeous serving bowls. Bowls that if I received as a gift, I would never have guessed were “home made.”

So I chose a little something to paint. It was a little pencil holder. I thought I could bring it to my desk at my new job, and have a little personal touch. I wanted a peace sign, you know the sort:

peace-sign1.jpg

But they didn’t have any templates of one. Which did surprise me in this town. I didn’t trust my artistic skills enough to make my own free hand, without a template, because I can’t draw. I can’t draw one of those M shaped seagulls, even. I can’t draw a stick figure. (Stop yelling at me, Beloved.) So I kept looking. I found a Chinese character which had the word “peace” under it. Hmmm.

I chose colors. This is what I ended up with:

img_1979.jpg

I was happy with it. (Note that I did not put the word “peace” on it. Because it would have looked stupid.) But the girls weren’t done. Or even close. So I decided to do something for Beloved. I didn’t think I had time to do something bigger, and so I stuck with the theme. I made him this one:

img_1990.jpg

E and I had really wrestled with whether we should have done a black or red background. I vetoed her, and went with the red on black, and am glad I did. His means “Happiness.” (Or so the stencil said.) Because for him, in all of his recent endeavors toward his goals, I wish for him happiness.

The girls’ pieces came out great, too. It was a lot of fun. I think we’ll be going back. I’m actually already thinking about what to do next. I think I am going to do a serving platter, which can go on the counter or on the table, and in which all my crap can collect. It’s inevitable. I collect crap. Right now, it just gets randomly thrown on the dining table, and when the girls set the table, they scatter my crap to different surfaces, and then I can’t find my crap. If I have it all on a dish, right? Then they can just move the dish to another surface. And when my dish is full, I can set to putting things away.

So I’m gonna make a dish.

Or a mug.

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