Stop and take a breath.

The only time we have to leave the house today is for martial arts. The school refers to this class as “BBC” meaning Black Belt Club. But I don’t feel like I should talk about my kids needing to get to BBC much. It has too many interpretations. Ahem.

This is good. The past few days have felt slammed. Saturday was busy alllllll day. Sunday we had a guest until dinner time so it wasn’t restful. Monday we had stuff going all day. Today… we get to do academics and chill and then go to one class. It’s like having a rest day.

I think I have screwed up on something. My kids don’t talk that much to my adult friends when they come over and I think part of this is my impatience with them interrupting me. So they just aren’t trying very much in front of me and I need to figure this out. I know the kids like my adult friends but I fear I have been a jerk and made that tricky.

They do interrupt to the point where I feel like I’m going to lose my mind because I can’t finish a fucking sentence some days.

This is going to be a tough issue for us to figure out. I love that they volunteer their voice and opinion. I wish they could let other people finish a sentence first. I need to find a way to access some tools around this problem. I can manage this in a classroom of 32. Why can’t I manage it in my house? I suspect partially because in my classroom I just ride roughshod over every one and say, “This is how it’s gunna be. Play along or sit outside.” My kids… I don’t actually ride roughshod over them much. It’s a point of policy. So they are kind of entitled twits sometimes.

I still have an ongoing struggle with just how fucking entitled my kids are even as I recognize that it’s my fault. How can anyone believe with a straight face that they just deserve life as good as my kids get it?

It blows my mind.

My kids are trying as hard as they can to understand lives that aren’t like theirs… but they are so sheltered. Years ago Pam told me that my kids were So Not Sheltered. Sweetie… as someone who grew up in abject poverty surrounded by violence… let me tell you… my kids are fucking sheltered. They aren’t ignorant but they are sheltered.

I did this. I sheltered them. I have kept them from dealing with the brutality and selfishness and indifference that waits just outside our door. Life is shitty and hard. My kids… sort of know that from books, movies, and stories.

Sometimes it feels really alienating that my children have no scope of reference for almost anything about me. Sometimes it feels like I have arrived at success in life. The truth is somewhere in the middle.

My kids will never truly have the reflexes of little ninny white kids. But they won’t have the instincts of folks who have been abused. I really wonder how they are going to be as adults.

Last night EC was snuggling up to me… I don’t remember what she asked exactly but I said, “I love you so much. Not because you are perfect, sometimes you are quite the little punk. I love you because you are real and interesting and HERE.” She smiled and grabbed my hand and drew it to her face and she said, “I love how you say that.”

My kids don’t aspire to being perfect. They know that life is a balance of being thoughtful and being a selfish asshole. I mean… other people frame it differently… but I feel this is an important lesson. We aren’t striving for perfection. We are striving to be thoughtful as we deal with our own selfish needs. I don’t really know a “better” than that to shoot for in terms of behavior.

Oh the first day of me being irritating to verbal rebuffs… uhhh…went. I saw so much cat butt face it was hilarious. FMC insisted that if I was going to work on that with EC I had to work on it with them too. Suuuuuuuuure. I’m not being mean (I’m not doing anything that my Uncle Bob did to me on a near daily basis) but I am poking and being obnoxious. We are definitely improving the speed of verbal response instead of just flinching. And several of the times I kept going once I hit the first no. I said, “Ok. If that first soft, quiet no doesn’t stop someone… how will you step it up? If the person says ‘What? What did you say?’ how will you enforce your boundary?” We are talking a lot about gradual escalation.

If you move immediately to hitting lets talk about the consequences. EC is *thrilled* to be gaining weight but I point out that I still have over 90 lbs on her. If she escalated to hitting and I was less of a nice person…. how would that go for her?

She kind of flinches and contorts her face and says, “Probably……. not so well.”

“Ok. What will you SAY next so that you aren’t the person escalating things to blows?”

Both children are coming up with much better scripts with pushing.

I want my children to be ready and able to use physical force to defend themselves. I want them to understand that 999/1000 it is better if you deescalate verbally. I use the lesson of my cousin (the one I talk to on the phone in Kentucky) being a physically aggressive person to talk about this. She was always a fighter. That was her go-to solution for most things. She was the biggest, tallest, heaviest person in her grade until high school so it worked. At 19 she tried to use this way of solving problems with a large adult man. He beat her so badly she was in the hospital for weeks.

Don’t pick fights unless you have no god damn choice. Because it will end poorly for you most of the time.

I’m still proud of myself for the verbal deescalations I’ve managed over the last few years. I have come a long way. I don’t escalate things any more. I don’t want to. I don’t want explosions that hurt people. It’s not my goal. I’ve come a long way.

One of my buddies in the bdsm community told me that I’m a topic of conversation. People bring up how terrible it is that I have children because clearly I’ll be an awful mother.

Ok. Well near as I can tell that’s a common opinion for folks in the scene. Ok. You can have that opinion.

I’ll sit here with my joyous, independent, funny, vibrant children and be awful. Sounds dandy.

It’s hard for us to go to bed when Noah isn’t around. He gets way more impatient about the giggling and the silly conversations at night so he shuts us down so we will Go To Sleep Damnit. When it’s just the three of us… it’s so lovely I can’t shut it down well. FMC has been up till 9 or 9:30 the last two nights because we are so damn happy to be able to chat until we pass out. It’s so weird to me how giggly and happy they are.

I can’t remember being like that as a child. I mean, I can remember laughing…. but I wasn’t like them.

I feel so grateful that I get to be around them.

Even if I am a train wreck in motion… my sparks are pretty glittery.

We trade food a lot with one of our elderly neighbors. She’s really sweet. Sometimes when I interact with her I get the impression that we are the first white family she has ever befriended and I feel sad about that because she has been in this country a long time. She’s so nice. She should have had friends for all the decades of her life here. I mean, she does have friends. She knows the other elderly Chinese immigrants in our neighborhood and they lunch together a lot. But if she has been here and no white people have stepped up to introduce themselves and be friendly…

Well I always knew my race sucked.

Our new next door neighbors are really nice. They are very recently come from India and the local wildlife is scaring them to death. We get opossums. We had a lovely chat about how not scary these animals are. They were so relieved to hear that this animal is not aggressive like a raccoon. They had heard horror stories about raccoons.

Hey Noah! I asked around! Rattlesnakes *are* considered normal around here. I feel so ignorant and wrong. I will have to go apologize for my ignorance. I’m not sure how I’ve lived in the bay for 30 years and I didn’t know that rattlesnakes are normal in this region.

See, my ignorance is vast and hard to encompass.

This is why I tell my kids not to cite me as an authority. I’m wrong all the time. Look up a credible source if you want to say for a fact that something is true. I misremember. I am misinformed. I just plain understand things wrong. It’s life.

I tried to sleep without my pillow fort last night because both kids wanted to sleep with me. Ugh. I’m glad Noah is coming home soon so I can go back to using 2/3 of the bed with impunity. He’s so tolerant of me bed stealing the entire fucking bed. The kids… no. They just climb right fucking on top of me.

It’s a good thing I love them so much I feel like I am drowning in feelings.

Both of my dear friends couldn’t make Skype yesterday. It was a good day to have extra down time. I’m not mad. I am really enjoying having the space reserved to talk to my friends every week, it feels psychologically reassuring and it also feels nice that sometimes it doesn’t happen and I get an unexpected hour to rest my brain. I schedule my brain for too damn many hours a day.

I feel bad about flaking on a friend who was going to come over and help me this weekend. I just had no brain left and I would have stood there and cried if she had tried to help me be productive. Brain power is a resource and I run out.

I feel like I am trying to figure out where my actual limits are and retreat to them more than at most other points in my life. I’m trying hard to take it seriously that Noah put it in my contract that I have to take care of my mental and physical wellbeing. Which means I need to stop working until I am numb and I have damaged myself more. That’s hard for me… I’m a tool and it’s hard to let a tool stop and rest just out of the kindness of your heart. The tool isn’t broken completely? Keep fucking working.

But if I’m trying to stick around for decades I can’t anymore.

Once upon a time my first Owner used our M/s relationship to force me to learn a lot of executive function skills. We didn’t talk about it like that, but with the perfection of hindsight… that’s a lot of what we did. I had to learn how to manage a household so that someone else didn’t have to think about solving problems. That was the most clockwork I have ever been about household chores. ( had a fuckton of free time.)

It is very complicated at this point. Homeschooling uses my brain for 10-30 hours a week. Managing my children in general requires…. as many hours as I don’t forcefully dragoon into other service.

That leaves me with less for everything else and that’s complicated.

How do you juggle? Which balls do you drop?

I am struggling with this phase where we are introducing ourselves to therapists we will eventually not see very often but for now we are still in the getting-to-know-you phase. The current plan with all therapists is that we will see them intensely for 3-6 months then start tapering frequency. We want to maintain a relationship but the therapists are all clearly stating that as long as we have no crisis… they are somewhat superfluous. But the single factor I consider most significant in life is the fact that…. there will be another crisis. It’s just a matter of time.

So I persevere. They will have therapists they can go to when things melt down. It will be in place for them. They will just have support there when they can’t carry their own troubles.

I wish I got to be the boss of the world and being a therapist was a much more plum assignment so that every child could have this kind of relationship. Not constantly in your life but there in the background as a tool.

I think it is kind of funny that the thought of people sitting around and discussing what a shitty mother I am makes me kind of giggle. I am so much better at this than I expected that you can’t even imagine. It’s a fucking miracle.

9 thoughts on “Stop and take a breath.

  1. Dana

    I was never exactly in the same scene but I think you’re an inspiration as a mother, and I’ve been using the techniques you talk about in my life for years (lots are applicable to adults, too.)

  2. Shelly

    I guess I’m out of the loop. I haven’t heard anyone speak of you other than me to my roommate “K is taking the kids to Disneyland. They’re gonna have so much fun.”

    But then again I kind of enforce boundaries and call old, rich, white men out on being stupid so they tend not to say stupid things in front of me.

  3. Pam

    You absolutely, successfully, have sheltered kids.

    In context, I have xshelteredx, edit, better wording: I have overprotected and yes, ignorant 14 year olds who did not at age 14 have the verbal capacity and comfort to talk about bodies the way that your 3 year old did. They were like me at age 14. Overprotected and somewhat ignorant. So that is how I handled them, like mini-me’s.

    (You are cursed with having me as the friend with the memory of all the things 🙂 . Though I admit cheating and confirming my memory by looking at my comment / explanation on the post in question.)

    Your lovely, capable, sheltered children are not overprotected nor ignorant about age-appropriate body topics.

    In retrospect, it is kind of ironic the email I just sent you, which I swear I did before opening this post.


    My mom does not have white friends. In fact I’m not sure anyone in that generation of my family does. Maybe my oldest aunt? No close friends, for sure. My older cousins also seem to have mostly Chinese-speaking friends, with a few exceptions, like parents of other children. I don’t think this is the fault of the white people at all. I think it is a problem of language. You’ve heard my theory, about social groups breaking along language lines. I wonder as the millennials start to pick up Mandarin as an offered language in schools, whether there will be more interaction this way.

    I should be asleep sigh

    1. Pam

      eta: My family do all have full social lives and friends though, and always have. They’re just not white.
      They don’t need to be pitied because they are lacking friends in their life who are white. 🙂


      1. Krissy Gibbs Post author

        I don’t think that people need to be pitied for not having friends of any particular race. But I think it is sad that people live next door to folks for decades and never get to know them at all. I can’t do that.

    2. Krissy Gibbs Post author

      So like having friends who have different language abilities is a good thing though. A bunch of my neighbors knock on my door when they get official letters or government communications they don’t understand and I break things down into more colloquial language for them. I wish that all immigrants had people in their lives who were happy to assist them in such a way. I imagine it to be very hard to be in a place where you struggle to understand and… no one will talk to you about it. I’m projecting my biases about loneliness.

      You’ve sent me emails like the ones today before but I’m not 100% confident with all of the same content.

      I don’t think I’m cursed with having you.

  4. Noah

    I’ll keep that in mind about rattlesnakes.

    I’ve had a huge amount of fun, but *man* it’s time to be home again. Though it’ll be another day before I even get on the plane :-/

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