Always adapting

This weekend I moved a bunch of furniture. Now my Bonus Kids have space for them. So that if my kids are being twerps about “Come in my room so I can throw you out” Bonus Kids don’t have to sit in the living room crying feeling like they don’t belong here. You belong here. want you here and I love you. You can have your own spot where you can kick people out. I can do that.

Of course now I find out they might be going home this week. Life is hilarious.

I won’t lie, it’ll be nice to have my house back. But we will be really sad when our friends leave. We’ve been enjoying this time a lot.

Today is the Christmas Cookie Exchange. The house is tidy!

I worked and worked and worked. The house looks pretty darn good.

Also: I noticed that I’m driving to Cupertino twice this week for dentist appointments. Damnit.

I’m really happy about so much cleaning being done. We can walk through the house without getting hurt. Oh blessings. On our travels I was reminded that we live in a fairly small house. Most of our friends had more space than we have. But you know what?

My house is easier to clean. I learned so much appreciation for my house this year. I can manage it all by myself. That feels good. The number of my friends who don’t clean their own houses staggers me. Everyone thinks of that as being one of the first chores you dump on someone else when you have enough money to do something better with your time.

But but but… I like knowing where everything is. That works best if you are the one to put it all away.

Also: I have major issues around paying someone else to clean for me. Who the fuck do I think I am?!

Definitely not the sort of girl who pays people to clean her house. I’ll be the one on my hands and knees with a scrub brush, thanks. I can’t wait till the house is settled enough that I can go outside and start yard work again.

I think only one more day of solid work in the house and I’m ready to go outside. Maybe two days of work in the house. Yes, there will be more later. But I’ve really gotten a handle on the big part of the mess. Yay.

We had some hilarious/frustrated exchanges yesterday. Eldest Child wanted to have a nice restful day. I said, “I told you I would like to skip having parties in December and you begged me to schedule them and you said you would do a lot of prep work. You told me you would help because I wanted to skip this entirely. It’s not fair for you to keep resting after you already had a no chore week.”

Seriously. She didn’t do much last week. I didn’t ask for chore help. I promised them a week to rest and I was serious. Buddy your week is over. Are you a worker or a shirker? If you are a shirker how about if we email our friends and cancel these damn parties cause I don’t give a shit and I’m tired.

She got up and did a prodigious amount of work. Like she can when she puts her mind to it. Oy.

I was an asshole for the first few minutes. I started to shout. She told me that wasn’t necessary and I could talk instead.

I left the room to cool off.

I started to shout because she had iPad time in the morning then I told her she was done for the day (once the sun came up and the house was awake so we could do work without bothering people) but… She’s seven. She decided to take a little break after the first two minutes of work and sit down for some nice screen time.

I was a bit cranky and I started yelling. It didn’t last long.

This child blows my mind. I love everything about interacting with her. “You can be mad at me. Stop yelling.”

“Stop yelling. I wasn’t thinking about it being rude. You can talk to me, don’t yell.”

She has so much control it blows my mind. She’s been doing this every day of her life. This isn’t hard or difficult or conflicted for her.

I have so much internal conflict around defending myself verbally. I’m more likely to flee a situation than to tell someone to stop yelling at me. I think I deserve it most of the time and I just crumble under people getting mad. Unless I feel waves of righteous indignation then I light up like a candle with fury and scream at people. I’m a mixed bag.

She isn’t. She is consistent in a way that blows my fucking mind. I can’t imagine having such consistency in personality.

It’s really cool.

I don’t think I insist on consistency and I don’t think I require them not to have emotions.

After she told me to stop yelling she cried. She says it really makes her sad when I yell like that because it feels like I’m mad at her instead of being frustrated about something she’s done and she doesn’t like that feeling at all.

We hugged it out and talked. Of course I apologized.

I’m starting to think my apologies have about as much value as Monopoly money.

I’m sorry I over reacted. It felt like a lie. I am such a complete asshole about that. You said you would help then you weren’t doing it. I’m an asshole about that. I really am.

Later in the day she told me she can’t wait to grow up and move out so she doesn’t have to live with a neat freak any more. She said it with a grin and a twinkle in her eyes. I said, “Whatever. You’ll probably ask me to come over and clean.” She laughed and agreed that she probably would. Then she hugged me. She said, “And you’ll do it, grumbling the whole time. Because you love me.”

God damn she’s got my number.

I like to complain. Everyone needs a hobby.

I’m feeling horrible anxiety because I’m still getting tons of hits from the trolls. It feels really bad knowing that I write for myself and my husband and my friends and to document my behavior for the sake of my children…. and that means people want to make fun of me. Because that’s just how human beings work. We like to ridicule others. It’s a game. Everyone needs a hobby.

It isn’t that I believe I am above reproach. Ha ha ha. Anything but. I just like my criticism mixed in with people wanting me to still continue living and doing things. It doesn’t feel like that when anonymous strangers want to dissect you for shits and giggles. It feels like, “You aren’t a real person who matters. You are a thing to be mocked. Awwww, does that feel bad? Well you shouldn’t have existed where people can see you.”

Oh, I know.

Believe me believe me believe me it has been drummed into my head that every bad thing that happens to me is my fault.

I know.

I wouldn’t have been raped if I hadn’t put myself in those situations. I wouldn’t have been beaten if I hadn’t opened my stupid mouth. I wouldn’t be made fun of if I would just shut the fuck up.

I know.

I’m very aware that choosing to continue existing in the form I exist in is inviting contempt.

I know.

I can pretend to be more like other people. I could be quieter. I could choose to share less about my internal process.

Quite frankly if something happens to me and I die, I think my children will feel a lot of comfort in reading this shit. It’s conflicted, it’s confusing, it’s all mixed up. But that’s their mom. Yup, that’s how I am. I’m also intensely, fiercely loving. My children know how I treat them. If they grow up and read this shit and contrast it with the behavior they experienced from me….

I think it is going to be intense and powerful. Yes, I fucked up. But really not so much compared to what I was afraid I would do. I barely fucked up compared to the damage I am capable of inflicting.

I choose not to. It’s a choice. Every single fucking day I choose to be careful and gentle with my children just because that is who I want to be.

I think my children will be interested in this process some day. EC says she’d already like to start reading my writing and I told her I really really really need her to get through puberty before she reads my books. Preferably adulthood. “It isn’t that I want to keep it a secret from you. It’s that I want you to develop without having those pictures in your mind because once they are there they can never be taken back. You will be happier for your whole life if those things don’t imprint on your brain in childhood. When you are an adult you could choose to be a sympathetic friend if you want… not as a kid. That could hurt you.”

We talk about the fact that trauma (and having really detailed pictures in your head of your parents being hurt traumatizes kids) changes your brain forever. The absolute best thing you can do for your whole life is minimize the early trauma exposure you have so that you can develop a strong core identity and that will lead you to being more able to handle rough life bumps later. It may not occur as trauma if you have a solid enough base. So we are working on your base.

She agrees that sounds like an awesome approach.

A lot of these conversations come up because she’s been saying she wants to be a doctor for four years. I take it seriously. We have lots of intense conversations about what it means to help people take care of their health. That includes mental health and psychological boundaries.

“You can’t take care of other people if you are destroyed. You have to care for yourself before you have anything to give.”

She tells me often that when she is an adult she wants to be able to help a lot of people. I tell her that it is extra important that she spend her childhood learning how to adequately and appropriately care for herself so that she is strong and capable and she will be able to do those tasks more automatically. You must have the habit of self care if you are going to spend your life focusing outward in a healthy way. If you don’t care for yourself, you have nothing to give.

This is hilarious sometimes because she notices that I have issues caring for myself. I tell her, “You know how you talk about being a doctor or the president or both and you want to go out and help change things for lots of people? Notice how I don’t have dreams like that? I can’t do those things. I am not good enough at taking care of myself to even consider taking on such work. I have to do work that can be dropped when I’ve gotten into a state where I’m not caring for myself and all work must halt. Other jobs don’t work the same way. You have to figure out what you can carry because you aren’t me.”

I like writing books so that people can share what I know even at times when I’m hiding in my closet. I can’t be a doctor showing up to work every day to give people my all. Some days I have nothing to give. It is important to know yourself. Everyone is different.

Not everyone is cut out to home school their kids. I think this is a magical, wonderful journey and I am so happy to be on it. It takes all kinds.

Seven kids in the house today. It’s going to be a circus. I can’t wait. I should probably dig the Christmas presents out for this family. I’m not sure I’ll see them again in December. I’ve missed them.

I can’t wait to see how much the kids have grown in half a year. That excites me a lot. The little ‘uns coming over today are some of my little buddies. I think it is funny how much I love being friends with kids now and I hated it when I was a child. These kids like me and talk about me, apparently. That’s super wonderful.

The baby is probably going to be a kid now. Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

I’m sure I missed a big transition into kid-hood. I’m trying not to be sad. BUT THAT IS SUCH A COOL TRANSITION AND IT SUCKS I MISSED IT. Yes, I know it is my fault I missed it. I had to go.

I’m super happy I got home for the trailings ends of Bonus Kid slipping the shackles of babyhood. I love watching the kid blossom open from the baby bud. Love. Love. Love. Love.

You’ve always been you. Since the day you were born. The only trouble we’ve had is figuring out a language so you can tell me how to treat you. It comes in stages.

This weekend I went to a three year old birthday party. I was told I couldn’t sit on the huge bean bag because that is her special place to nurse with mommy.

You know what? Even though I’ve been sitting on that damn thing longer than you’ve been alive I got right up. Yes ma’am. I am sorry I intruded on your special place. I wasn’t trying to be obnoxious. If I sit over here are you less miffed with me? Yes? Awesome.

I’ve got a long game in mind. Who gives a shit if I can sit in a particular place on a particular day. I want you to think I am safe and trustworthy to set boundaries with. That takes respecting some obnoxious whims as children are going through the toddler/preschool stage.

Guess what? Most adult boundaries are obnoxious whims too. Children aren’t less important. They are just less good at being insistent about their random stupid preferences. So they normally get railroaded and they internalize that their boundaries don’t matter to people.

Guess what, honey. Your boundaries matter to me.

I want to respect your boundaries when you are three the way I will when you are twenty-three. You deserve that from me.

I’ve never really been a fan of hierarchical displays of dominance. Who cares if you are bigger or older? That doesn’t mean you actually know what someone else needs. I god damn ask kids.

I wish more people did. I think kids would throw fewer tantrums. Not none… kids do need tantrums. But it could be managed differently.

Shit I throw tantrums.

I was insecurely talking to my friend last night about how I explain things. I told her that I know that the perception exists that I drop too much on a kid and that isn’t fair. I “shouldn’t” process things as much as I do with a seven year old. Her basic point is those criticisms only come from people who don’t know my children and never from people who do know my kids and that is probably a big deal.

If everyone who knows my kids agrees that they are absolutely thriving then… they are probably not being abused. Instead they have a really deep and full understanding of the people around them.

Frankly my seven year old makes intuitive jumps that shock the shit out of me. I have no idea how anyone has the ability to make so many emotional connections so young. I surely didn’t.

I suspect it helps that she’s heard me say approximately 12 billion times, “This explanation is simple but the answer is actually very complex. Let me know when you’re ready for more levels of information.” She is so hyper aware that for every level of understanding there are dozens of deeper, more complex possibilities. She loved The Golden Compass. The alethiometer just set her mind to buzzing.

I swear that is how she thinks anyway. My mom always used to marvel at my brain. She would say, “You access things like a computer. If data has been entered it is there forever and you can cross reference it with every other piece of data you have ever been given and that’s weird.”

My mom said this to me because she read a Sun Signs book. She never used computers. She didn’t really understand them that much. Which always made that reference a bit more odd to me. She said it a lot. That was how she saw me. Complex and able to memorize things she couldn’t remember for more than a few seconds.

Then I turn around and look at my kid and think Holy Shit you have the memory I’ve always wanted. She has her father’s memory. NOT FAIR. God they can remember things.

Noah pisses me off. Give him a three word combination to trigger his favorite books and he can recite pages and pages. NOT FAIR. I can’t do that. It is one of the reasons I never tried acting. I don’t memorize like that. I don’t do verbatim.

I do connections between things that other people can’t imagine a connection between. That’s my thing.

It is a different way of thinking. It’s not better. In many ways it is frustrating and inconvenient.

Oh I envy my child’s memory. She picks up languages the way Noah does. We need to start classes soon. She wants to be able to talk to more people. I think she will succeed.

I am pretty sure I have never in my life met someone as hungry for connection as this child. Not because she wants support or attention. I’ve seen that. I know child actors. She believes she has an endless amount to share and that other people don’t have enough. She wants to give. Time, energy, help, attention, money… she’s not too particular what she gives. She just knows she has it to give and she wants to.

She has this internalized view of herself that blows me away. She has no rapacious need to acquire. If someone gives her an absolutely gorgeous present and another kid walks up and sadly says, “I wish I could have something like that” my kid will hand it off without blinking. “Oh well here then. I’m sure you will get more pleasure out of this than I will.”

Things don’t motivate her. Hugs motivate her. Connection motivates her. The option of seeing dozens of people she likes motivates her.

You have to get to know the children you have.

Strangely enough she’s also really concerned about learning how to make money. She says, “Well if I learn how to be really good at making money I can give more away.”

That is my sentiment exactly. I don’t want a bigger, fancier house. I want a small plain, easy house. I want to have more than I need so I can give it away. I don’t hoard. I do save up for a rainy day but I know that there are limits to what I’ll need and people who have real need today.

It is fascinating to me how stingy people are. They are so worried about someone not “really deserving” help that they often refuse help to anyone and everyone. That blows my mind.

If some rich asshole asks me for $5 and I hand it over I’m not hurt. Even though they might not actually need the money.

Most people who ask are sincere. I’ll keep handing over the money. Does that mean I’m used sometimes? Yeah. Oh well.

I’ll survive.

I think it is flat hilarious that I act more actually Christian than many people who loudly profess the faith. Help the unfortunate. Help the stranger. Be compassionate. Love thy neighbor and give him comfort.

Yes, I will.

I don’t do it because G-d told me to. I do it because I have been given so much help in this lifetime there is no chance for me to pay it back. I could work every day of my life and I could never pay back what I have been given. I am so very lucky.

I would not be alive if it were not for the kindness of strangers. I can hand $5 to anyone who asks.

I’m not a good person. But I am a compassionate person. I am not a nice person. I try very hard to be generous anyway.

I think that if we want to, we can all rise together. Given what I’ve seen this year, I want people to rise. Not because everyone is going to make it to a privileged first world existence. Because no one should be dying slowly and painfully in squalor. That is not necessary any more. People living like that now is a choice on the part of the people who have enough resources and who refuse to share.

That’s a real problem to me.

Today will be great. They will probably visit for 3-4 hours. Visits with families with kids rarely go longer than that. Then I get to putter organizing cupboards and drawers because I’m at that level of cleaning.

If these folks decide to decorate for Christmas we are about ready. I ain’t doing it. Fuck it.

My hands hurt. I’d rather talk to myself than decorate for Christmas. I am a nicer person that way.

I confess I do want the house decorated. It excites me. I just… need to have limits. I hurt so much.

I’m almost to the point of making more doctor appointments. Ugh. No fun.

Stupid bodies.

Maybe if I make these entries long enough the trolls will go away because I’m one of those mean people who write too much. *cross fingers*

2 thoughts on “Always adapting

  1. Noah

    > Strangely enough she’s also really concerned about learning
    > how to make money. She says, “Well if I learn how to be really
    > good at making money I can give more away.”

    Sounds like once she’s reading (or I want to read a lot to her) it’s time to pick up that Rockefeller biography.

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