Category Archives: disneyland

My children continue to be my favorite people.

I mentioned to my kids yesterday that I had mentally observed that our Disneyland trip was scheduled for when I am 35 weeks pregnant. The first thing my kid said was, “Wow mom that’s really late in the pregnancy. I think we should cancel.”

Then the other kid suggested, “Would it be possible to move it up and go earlier? It’s really not wise to go at the very end.”

My kids are so awesome and wonderful and nice to me.

So I called DVC (the Disney time share company) and explained my situation. Of course they were happy to find a way to get us in early. In fact… we are going in two weeks. The week between our anniversary and my birthday.

It’s a really good thing I hadn’t invited someone else and scheduled around their conflicts. I get to just… do what I want. That’s so much easier.

We are looking into what California missions we are going to visit on the trip. It’s 4th grade time… we need California history this year….

And we are debating between 2 and 3 days in the park leaning heavily towards 2. Because mostly we want to go rest and just be mellow together.

I love my family.

Trying to defrag

I think of my brain as needing defragging. For me, some of how I do this is dreaming about future plans–especially plans at Disneyland–because I’m revisiting a topic I’ve visited many times before and it is the opposite of stressful. I can have bad days in Disneyland (especially if my kids spend my entire birthday bitching about doing what I want to do) but I don’t have bad trips to Disneyland. It is the safest place I return to.

When I think about Disneyland I stop thinking about things that are stressing me out. I stop mentally rehearsing how terrible I am for not having already made my house completely tidy.

When I think about Disneyland I sit still and I feel excited but in a quiet way. I don’t need to get up and expend energy right now. I need to reserve it. The more thinking I do now the more automatically the trip will go. The more automatically a trip goes… the easier it is for everyone.

Noah in particular struggles with making decisions when in a crowded, busy environment. He can get overwhelmed. If I’ve thought a lot about Plans A-E then when he gets a spark of panic I say, “No worries! We will do ______.” He calms down.

This is harder in almost every other environment in the world. Disneyland is predictable. I mean the lines aren’t predictable but that’s the only thing. And my family only walks in with 1-2 rides we REALLY want to go on in a day. We go to those first. Then we wander around and enjoy being in Disneyland and rides are a bonus. When the lines are heinous, I hang out and people watch and have a wonderful day.

I don’t have to work in Disneyland but it is pretty and well cared for. I feel well cared for there. I have almost never in my entire life had a *Disneyland* employee respond with anything other than complete willingness to meet a need no matter how odd. (Disney employees on cruises, at the World and especially in France are not so predictable. They can suck.) I’m completely devoted to the California Disney experience. I just flat think it is better.

Thinking about what to eat there makes me happy and sad at the same time. (Whyyyyyyyyyyyyy does it have to be that expensive?) Because it does. Because that’s what it costs to pay that many employees and that many shareholders.

I want the experience, so I suck it up.

In January we have a room where we could have a guest. I’m not inviting anyone because I can’t cope with the possibility of rejection right now. It’s a me problem. Right this minute I can’t hear where I am in someone’s priority list so I can’t ask. It’s a lot of money. We go at times that are inconvenient for basically everyone (thus why the room and the park are cheaper and less crowded) and that means people need to say no. It’s not a personal rejection. Life just… yeah. Priorities are real things and I respect all of my friends priorities.

So I’ll go with my family. And just be grateful I have a family.

I read frequently about friends going down to Disneyland with their friends. I…

I’m just grateful I have a family. I’m kind of mixed at the friends-outing thing. My needs aren’t simple. The only person I seriously travel well with outside of my family is my Sarah and that’s because her disability needs aren’t that different from mine and we are both SO HAPPY to have someone be nice about our limitations that we don’t mind accommodating one another.

But she’s going in October. And she has a life. (I think the October trip will be wonderful. She gets to be part of a big deal event in her brother’s life and I’m really thrilled for all concerned. Besides, being at Disneyland with her brother is an EPIC experience. Good for her. He’s so much fun.)

Calm that anxiety down, Krissy. You are lucky and blessed. You have people in your life to the degree they can be. That’s so kind of people. It’s ok that you never figured out the “big group of friends who do things together”. You can’t figure out everything in life.

I’m really shitty at matching schedules.

One of the funnest parts of going to restaurants with my Sarah is when she tries a dish, makes a slight face, and says, “I can make this better” and I know she’s right. Knowing that she isn’t idly boasting feels like intimacy.

Notes for me:

definitely not interested in Napa Rose for dinner. The whole menu screams “Don’t eat here, Krissy!”

Storyteller’s Cafe has buffet breakfast with characters (enh), lunch looks good, brunch looks tasty, dinner is either buffet or same menu as lunch.

PCH Grill is buffet for breakfast and dinner. Neither sound overly amazing nor gross. Possible.

Ariel’s Grotto is so over the top expensive. It only works well for us if we go there on lunch early in the trip so we can eat the leftovers for two or three meals before going home. There is a set menu that’s just way the fuck too much food. I mean, you have some choices for the courses but you have to get each course.

Bengal BBQ is always a favorite. They are the best “We must eat soon or I will hurt someone” place.

The kids prefer a meal in Blue Bayou at some point.

I’ve only ever eaten at the Carnation Cafe for breakfast (Oscar’s choice, because Oscar is a smart guy) but the lunch menu sounds really good. Everything sounds good right this minute. THEY HAVE FRIED PICKLES. Ok, we are going to have lunch in the park one day. Yup. I don’t even care if I eat anything else for the meal. Fried pickles for the motherfucking win.

We are thinking about getting tickets to go into each park on one day and that’s it. That means pre-planning food choices in the park or I’ll miss what I want. Everyone in my family is looking forward to just relaxing and hanging out for a bit. The day we get down there we will just chill and look around Downtown Disney. Then we have a rest day. Then two days in the parks. Then we drive home.

I did not know that the Disneyland Hotel does afternoon tea.

But… the French Market… technically they have the Jambalaya in the Blue Bayou. I could skip it. I guess. That’s one of my favorite restaurants.

I gotta stop. I’m making myself really hungry.

We’re heeeeeeeeeeere.

At Disney World that is. Yesterday was intense. It took more than eight hours to get from one hotel room to the next. It was about four and a half hours of freeway driving. I’m not counting the driving time where I got lost in forking Orlando. That took a while. Grocery shopping was sorta epic.

As we drove out to the resort I started shaking and my stomach hurt and I felt like I was about to puke. I kept up a steady chatter to myself, “Krissy it’ll be ok. This will go fine. This is Disney. You are late for check in… they will have people waiting around who are happy to help you. It’ll be fine.”

It was rather ridiculous but hey, do what you gotta do.

We got to the driveway and I started asking just about anybody in a uniform, “I’m new here, which step do I do first?”

They all smiled at me and directed me to where I needed to be.

They are all thrilled to get a Californian. These are the Disney Vacation Club properties, so they see owners and that is a fairly set group of time share people. Variety isn’t as common as you’d think for a hotel.

I had a lot of questions and I said flat out, “I’m going to feel anxious until I have a few concerns addressed.”

You know what? Like magic extra employees kind of backed over to where I was talking to the nice desk clerk. They all smiled like they were super excited that they might get to help.

fucking love this place.

You know what? They addressed every concern right down the list. I do have to unhitch my trailer, but that’s ok. It means we will be more likely to sneak off to Universal Studios to see the Harry Potter exhibit and that’s exciting.

Oh, parking is right next to our room. This is so fabulously convenient I have no words. I thought it would be a hike. I feel so spoiled. After three months of continuous travel I now think that one of the biggest luxuries in hotels in nearby parking.

I had a very nice person help carry my stuff in from the van with a dolly so I didn’t have to make eleventy billion trips. He thought it was hilarious that I wouldn’t let him carry the heavy stuff up the stairs. It was his first day back at work after a back injury. You aren’t carrying my heavy fridge up the stairs! Heck no!

He thought that was funny. He asked a lot of questions about me and what I do. He was thrilled to meet a writer. He said he had never met one before. Over and over he said, “Whoa. You are one hard working woman. I’ve never seen a woman rush to carry heavy stuff up the stairs for me before. And you home school your kids. And you travel around the country. And you write books. Whoo. You wear me out.” He must have said it twenty times. I laughed.

He asked for information about my books. I gave him all that he needed to find me. Who knows if he will follow up.

It’s a bit awkward to tell people, “I wrote about my experiences growing up in an incestuous family. It’s intense.”

Trigger warnings, baby.

This was all after a hilarious incident with a conservative postal employee in Georgia. I’ve never seen a federal employee retract their implication that there is anything wrong with being queer so damn fast in my life. With a smile.

It’s funny what conclusions folks jump to when they find out you are home schooling.

Nope. I ain’t teaching the Bible. We don’t pray.

I mean, we have many Bibles in the house… but I teach it as one set of mythology among many that humans have come up with over many thousands of years.

It’s just one path out of many. They are all ok.

We were kind of a hilarious experience for my newly adopted niece in Georgia. (Long story.) she is growing up with a Baptist mother and a Catholic father. They attend church regularly. It’s a big deal.

I leaned over and said, “I’m a Godless Heathen.”

Her eyes went wide.

Yeah. That was wonderful.

I said, “You are going to hear a lot about people like me and when you hear those things you can decide for yourself if you agree or not. I’m just one person out of many. I don’t represent ‘all the weirdos’ of the whole world but I do represent a lot of them. When you hear people say nasty things about people like those know that they are talking about me. And think about that.”

She nodded slowly. I was an intense experience for a 9 year old.

I really loved settling into the room here at the resort. We have a system. I explained it to the kids. We all relaxed once the system was discussed and the kids stopped chafing at boundaries every other second.

It was palpable. I didn’t take my medication until after this experience occurred so it wasn’t just that all of a sudden I was stoned and I didn’t care any more. The kids stopped fighting.

It’s been a rough few days. I’m not proud but I screamed and screamed and screamed in the car. They would not stop beating on each other. I mean… they stopped when I went a little nutty. But they would not stop until I went berserk screaming about how they had to Stop Stop STOP.

I felt kind of bad about it until we talked about it later in the evening. I said I was sorry that sometimes I was an asshole when more gentle methods failed but sometimes I really need to be effective. You can’t hit each other.

Eldest Child nodded and said, “Oh I know. We really couldn’t even hear you until you broke our concentration.”

Youngest Child nodded and said, “Yeah… uhh… it’s hard to hear you sometimes when we get into it.”

Then my eldest child looked down, and brushed her head bashfully like we were in a damn movie and apologized.

It was… kind of weird.

YC didn’t apologize exactly but there were amends made. At five it isn’t always a verbal apology yet and that’s ok.

I asked if we could make an agreement to ask for rest any time and every time we feel tired so we don’t whine or get cranky with each other and everyone agreed. They know where their free feeding snack food is. They don’t have to ask me every other minute if they can have _______. It’s glorious freedom.

I think it is hilarious that they both, separately, echoed something that Noah said to me a long time ago in almost exactly the same tone of voice.

“One of the things I like about you is that you make every place feel like home” with a happy sigh to follow. This is in reference to how I set up and organize hotel rooms to within an inch of their lives if I am going to be in them long. I have to or I can’t find shit and that makes me crazy. I have to know where all my stuff is. We have a lot of stuff. That’s a lot of things to put my hands on over and over and over so I can know exactly where it is when I need it.

This is how I comfort myself. This is how I create the order I need. This is how I create the structure and the scaffolding to teach the lessons I want to teach. We are not working on the in-the-room-manners here. That lesson happens elsewhere. Here, we rest. It’s so relaxing and nice.

Only we rest and relax with a pool and a playground a 3 minute walk away so we get lots of exercise right before bed so we go to sleep easily.

This is why I pay for this. Because having people leap to help me with a smile has a cost and I am happy to pay it. I’m told that privilege can’t be bought, but advantages can. If I’m going to be a fucking rich person I’m going to occasionally pay for some fucking advantages.

Oh this is wonderful. And I have to not swear so I’ll get it out now.

Ahhh. Maybe not. I’m feeling pretty mellow. That was a happy fuck.

Cause I’m like that.

Thank you Noah.

I have quite the set up for our little mini kitchen. We don’t get a stove or a full size fridge so I brought our fridge up. The freshest food goes in the apartment fridge so the kids eat it first. The stuff they are allowed to grab at will is in an open container at a tempting eye-height. Other snacks are organized by priority in drawers cause I’m a neurotic fuck.

Tier two foods are things that we will access a lot on the trip for breakfast but they shouldn’t be freely snacked on during the rest of the day or we won’t have breakfast for the rest of the trip. We’re here almost three weeks. Be strategic.

Tier three foods are meal foods that probably require adult help because the microwave is hecka high.

Seems reasonable, right?

Ahhhhhh. Freedom.

It is funny watching them stop asking for things every few minutes. It is kind of weird every time I see this tremendous example they just want to find out what the boundary is.

I can work with that.

Apparently, there is a certain level of beating on one another in the car that brings very unpleasant screaming.

Dude, I was going 60 miles an hour on the freeway, how am I supposed to react? I’m in an unfamiliar area during a frigging interchange. STOP FIGHTING RIGHT NOW.

I get kind of upset sometimes. I’m told I can be intimidatingly loud.

Well if you’d stop when I asked in a more moderate tone dozens of times.

I genuinely don’t know what else to do. I mean, sometimes I use the radio to startle them. But a good loud blast of sound is the only thing I can figure out to do when they go at it in the car.

I do not use the screaming method outside of the car. I separate them. In the car… THEY HAVE A TUMBLING MAT BETWEEN THEM AND THEY STILL REACH AROUND IT TO BEAT ON EACH OTHER.

Oh my. Yeah. Sibling stuff is complicated.

Mostly they get along really well. Sometimes… yeah. We have a long way to go on impulse control. But I don’t have a lot of room to complain. I was way the heck more violent than them.

This trip has had highs and lows, like all trips. I think being at the resort is going to be a high point. We are really excited to explore. We are ready to not be in the car.

The first thing we are doing is going over to child care to talk about options and schedules so the kids can pick times they want to be there.

I’m not sure what I’ll do. But I’ll go do something.

I feel a little weirdly guilty and ashamed. This is such a stupid thing to want to do. What a waste of money and time.

But it will be… so fun.

I love you Disney. Thank you for smiling at me.

Think I’m good.

After three phone calls, an hour on their website, and a password reset… I think we are good for Disney World. Turns out I was dumb and I missed a night in between Orlando and Vero Beach. Hm. Not sure how I’m going to handle that. Also, I hadn’t double booked things… I just went back and forth with my original reservations and I have too many emails in my inbox. Oh. That’s better than I thought I did.

I have so many awesome options.

You know what fucking rocks? My life. I’m an emotional, hysterical whiner… but I can throw money at problems and have fun. I am so ridiculously lucky.

 

Weirdly accomplished

You know what? I’m feeling proud of myself right now. I had a bad weekend emotionally. All I did was sit quietly and read and cry. That’s pretty fucking awesome. I had a lot of desire/impulse to hurt myself and I just let it be. I was not capable of letting these feelings just be ten years ago. I had to hurt myself.

Even three years ago.

I take this “modeling” thing seriously. I’m home schooling for reasons. Some of those reasons are so that I am forced to proactively deal with my mental health because I have genetically susceptible children and they need to be taught coping methods as easily as they are taught to tie their shoes. It’s just necessary for our genetic material. If you proactively handle your problems… they don’t turn into problems.

The funny thing is: I’m covered in bruises and I have no idea how I got any of them. So maybe I’ll dissociate a little and get in a tiny bit of self-harm. It doesn’t count though. I can’t remember it.

I played with the kids a little but not a lot. I participated in meals (that Noah made because he is so ridiculously nice). I didn’t spend the whole weekend ranting. I snuggled people. I wasn’t completely avoidant.

I just made sure that I spent time sitting in the sunshine enjoying my plants and bugs. Holy shit we have a lot of bugs in our back yard. I completely didn’t notice until I sat out there for a few hours. Then I realized that there were hundreds of bugs on each planter bed. Lots of different kinds! I need to figure out how to get more beneficial insects into my yard. Ladybugs, oh ladybugs… where are you? I saw a butterfly! My garden is attracting butterflies!!!!!! /me happy dance

(That’s an IRC reference; the /me thing. IRC is a chat room program. I’m kind of a nerd.)

I’m in a lot of pain, but it is an amount of pain I can work through. I will probably try to run when the babysitter is here today. I have been feeling yucky stiff. It is weird how much better I feel when I’m exercising more consistently. My foot is finally feeling better.

I made a DMV appointment to process the trailer. I’m plugging right along on getting ready for the road trip.

I have made most of my Disney World reservations. It’s kind of funny that I pushed Disney World further back date wise to accommodate other peoples needs. Now they don’t want to go. So I’m not going to be there on my birthday like I had originally planned because instead I wanted to be with friends. But now the friends don’t want to go. I didn’t want to be there in October. October is more expensive points-wise.

Yeah, that’s how scheduling goes.

Hell, I scheduled Calli’s birthday around being in Boston with the Godmama. Maybe I should just fucking change all of the scheduling again. I’m feeling shitty about scheduling around people who dump me.

I have feelings. I need to stop acting like people are ever going to be a significant part of my life. It is folly. I am going to do my shit alone. Why is this so hard for me to accept?

Because I know a lot of people who are part of tight friend-networks and I am so jealous I can’t see straight. I don’t even know how to follow a group to be part of events like that. I’ve tried. I just… never make it.

It’s a good thing I’m not the kind of person who requires other people to go do interesting things.

I feel sad in the same way I felt sad when I stopped hanging out with the people I knew at Los Gatos High School. I feel like I wasted a bunch of time and energy on people who are never going to think I am important. I feel stupid.

I’m taking the no-shows very hard lately. It is especially hard that the home school group is amorphous and I have a lot of very different experiences with the families in it. There are consistent, dependable people. But they are busy. The people who are eager to make plans are the same people who just don’t show up and never remember that they had plans in the first place.

Each no-show, unfortunately, balances out against 10 successes. It’s stupid. I should try to count them in the other direction. I should try to emotionally feel like each success balances out 10 no-shows but…

But I’m digging out of a big black hole anyway. I don’t have that kind of slack to give.

Outside of parks I have two home school events on the calendar between now and the road trip. That may be good enough.

I don’t think the people in the group are doing something wrong or terrible. I think they are living their lives as if I am not important to them… which is simply literally true and accurate.

Sometimes I can handle it and sometimes I can’t. When I can’t, best I stay home. No one is interested in feeling guilty or ashamed because they are not prioritizing me. They shouldn’t prioritize me. It would be kind of weird and fucked up if they did. I’m nothing to them.

That’s the problem. I’m nothing to pretty much everyone. It’s a lot of why I feel like I am nothing.

But I have three people. And they were so nice to me this weekend. That has to be good enough. It is what it is. It is all that I will ever have.

It is three people more than a lot of people get. My mom has never in her life had three people be nice to her the way my family is nice to me. I shouldn’t be so ungrateful.

Just a fabulous experience

I was really scared before the trip. I was sure I would wreck everything and no one would have fun. I would be too bitchy and by the end I wouldn’t have friends any more. I like it when my paranoia is proven wrong. Still friends.

My best moment came on the third day in the park. Miss 2 Year Old was pretty darn worn out. When we sat down to eat lunch her mommy gave her a water cup to share with Mr 5 Year Old. Miss 2 Y.O. thought that was the worst thing evar. Lots of crying and screaming. The parents of Miss 2 Y.O. were both kind of frustrated and fried at that point. It had been a long week already.

I scooped Miss 2 Y.O. up and walked outside with her. We had a lovely chat. We talked about how much sharing sucks sometimes. It doesn’t feel fair. We talked about how sometimes when you have big feelings you just have to use a big voice and when we have to use a big voice… ask a grown up to take you outside until you are done using your big voice. It’s ok to have big feelings and a big voice…. but we don’t do that inside the restaurant. We talked about how it wasn’t brother’s fault they have to share–that was Mommy’s decision. It isn’t very nice to scream at brother because you don’t like something Mommy decided. I told her that she probably made her brother sad and she had this dawning horror facial expression.

I fucking love two year olds. They wear their hearts on their sleeves.

When we went back inside she apologized to her brother for screaming and the rest of lunch went pretty well. She was ready for a nap after lunch, but that happens when you are two.

Helping people negotiate their big feelings feels so rewarding for me. I love it. That right there was my favorite moment of the trip. I felt proud of her, I felt proud of me, I felt grateful that I learned the words to help the process go more smoothly. When I get a moment like that right I feel like I should jump up and down and scream from joy. I did it! I did it! I did it! I DID IT!!!!!

Ahem. Which is to say–I get such moments wrong pretty often. Sometimes there isn’t a thing I can say to help it work out. Sometimes I don’t have the patience to walk a kid through the steps. When I do it right I feel waves of relief. Oh thank goodness I didn’t do everything wrong.

Overall I feel that Miss 2 Y.O. and Mr 5 Y.O. were better behaved in Disneyland than many older children and adults I have brought to the park. I was ridiculously impressed with their stamina given that they are not used to so much walking and physical stress. I can’t walk out of there saying, “We did _____ wrong.” Which is pretty perfect. Usually I spend trips being upset with myself for something I did wrong. I think we collectively nailed it. Even the grown ups did well. We got tired and kind of cranky by the end but we did well.

Yay all of us! I’m so excited when a group event goes well. I’m having more of those experiences and I feel so grateful. Frankly, this went about as well as the group camping trips have gone and those were my previous positive most-successful stories of group trips. I’m so excited. We had a trip together and we are still friends and they still want to do things with me in the future. I’m not in trouble. I’m not bad.

Oh thank goodness.

Part of what made it so awesome was, no one acted like they are too good to work. Not everyone had the ability to contribute in the same ways every day–people vary and all that–but everyone worked. The kids did stuff when they were asked to help. All four of the grown ups cheerfully took driving/cooking/cleaning shifts without acting like there are any genital configurations that indicate abnormal abilities in any of these areas. No one acted entitled. Everyone acted like they were grateful to be there.

I feel like I am having great success with teaching my family culture “We do not shirk”. If there is work to be done no one sits on their fucking ass to watch me fucking work I don’t fucking think so. As a result we were unpacked from the trip by 10am the next day. Then we can have a day to sit around on our screens being idle and resting. No resting until the work is done, yo.

I had such issues around everyone watching my aunt work when I was a kid. We will not be reenacting the Auntie-As-Martyr role. Nope. Auntie thought it was easier to just do things herself than to teach other people how to do things. As a result she got into her 70’s and she was still waiting hand and foot on her three disabled almost totally incompetent-at-caring-for-themselves adult children. Their various disabilities aren’t why they can’t care for themselves. They couldn’t care for themselves when they were healthy, either. The disabilities came long after the incompetence.

To this day I consider one of the greatest compliments I have ever received to be when a friend saw me at an event and told people to get out of my way because there is work to be done, “If there is work to be done Lenora/Krissy won’t be sitting down until it is done.” Now that’s the kind of recognition a service slave lives for. Made my heart beat faster. I’m viewed as a worker! That’s not really a high status occupation or anything. Shouldn’t be such an honor, but I’ve worked damn hard to be perceived as a worker. Heh. Everything is relative.

It will be a few years before I have the points to take these friends to Disneyland again. I can’t wait. It will be fun and wonderful. I’m super thrilled that I am going to get to see these kids age in the park. Lots of pictures were taken. Many will be taken next time too as a comparison.

Sometimes I feel weird about the fact that I’m getting more mercenary as I age. If someone won’t allow me to feel competent and ok when we hang out together… I need to spend time with people who will allow me to feel like I’m ok. I’m not perfect, I’m not ideal, I’m not a goddess or anything like that. But I need to have my friends think I’m ok and not bad. I still set people off so often. It feels very important for me to self-select into the company of people who think I am doing ok.

Which is probably why the vast majority of my relationships are with other traumatized people–they have more patience with me. People who don’t understand “why I’m freaking out” don’t have patience for the fact that I’m actually doing well these days. Really well.

I feel a little cocky. See! I can make it work such that no one leaves feeling annoyed with me! I just have to pick the audience really well.

I feel like in the past there were always some people in groups who were ok with me and I have a bad habit of only focusing on the people who I have issues with. If I have issues with one person out of eight I might remember the trip as a failure because I’m an idiot. I’m not saying that everyone else is a problem, I’m saying I have issues with having one emotion break out and completely dominate all of my other emotions. I’m saying it is hard for me to feel good about things that are a mixed bag. Not because it is anyone else’s fault.

I’m frankly shocked that I kept my emotions in line for a whole week such that my friends got a halo-effect from me being happy and thinking they were awesome. It’s as much about my emotional/chemical soup as it is about other peoples behavior. Which feels kind of awful. I know that when I’m having bad days I perceive other people negatively in ways they don’t earn. I feel pretty bad about that.

But right now, this last week I had a victory. It’s ok to celebrate victories. I wasn’t a horrible person. I wasn’t an asshole. I didn’t alienate people. They still want to be friends with me. We left talking about the next time we will do this together. (It’ll take a few years to save up points after the cross country trip.)

That’s a win.

I feel kind of twitchy about dropping as much money on the bi-costal pass as we did. I spent more than $3,000 on Disney passes. I feel like I’m about to choke. But that is all-access to both Disneyland parks and all five amusement parks at Disney World and the two water parks at Disney World. We will be in Florida for three weeks. We will have eight days in Disneyland over the year. That’s enough days that passes are paid for in terms of days in the park. Kind of insane. Not kind of–completely and totally overwhelmingly insane. Being rich is crazy.

I’m really enjoying my life. I feel so lucky.

This is so rad

I spend a lot of time feeling like I do everything wrong and I am “bad”. When I was a kid I was told I was bad a lot–so that made sense then. I haven’t been told I was bad in a long time. It’s just not a current issue in my life, but the feeling still continues.

This trip to Disneyland is going phenomenally well. I’m having fun, looks like most everyone else is having fun too. I’m getting to have a lot of the kinds of interactions that specifically make me feel better about myself as a person. Even more specifically: I feel useful.

JFK said, “Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country.” I have spent most of my life feeling like I have very little to offer that is of any value at all. This feels tied in with the general devaluation of women, but on steroids. I’ve always noticed that the men in my life expected me to cook and clean for them like magic so I had skills they just weren’t valued.

Yesterday was our first day in the park. It was the very first day ever for the dad and two kids I’m with. The mom has been here before, but she hasn’t been in decades and she has fuzzy memories. This means that I’m getting to play tour guide. I feel like my sense of direction is paying for its keep.

Not only do I feel useful because I know where the physical locations of things are: I get to interpret the park. I get to teach this family about the Disneyland that I am obsessed with visiting. I get to talk about waiting in line. I get to talk about having patience and preferences and no we don’t have to do it all to have fun.

I got to talk about things like, “Yes eating protein is important… but today don’t get upset at your kids for carbo loading. Let’s talk about the physical strain we will be under for the next few days and why it is unusual for our bodies. Carbs are appropriate.”

I have worked so hard for this knowledge that seeing it be useful for not just me feels really wonderful.

Like waiting in lines. One of the things that I like most about myself is that I take the party with me wherever I go. “The whole point of Disneyland is you hurry up and wait. But while you wait, they play music because they want you to dance!” I play games with the kids in lines. I give kids snacks every 15-20 minutes (not a lot at a time… but I ensure that they will be in a good mood) and I insist on frequent sips of water even though I normally don’t micromanage that kind of thing. But like I tell my kids (and I told the other family today) “We will be walking several miles on concrete in the sun in a huge crowd–we need to adapt how we treat our bodies.”

I didn’t learn that till I was an adult and my friends had problems with me not taking care of myself very well. I learned from my friends what I should have been doing all along.

Shit dude, even I wear sun block in Disneyland. And a hat. Don’t bitch about your hat buddy, you want to have a nose when you are 70.

All of these stupid little things were so hard for me to learn. I feel really good about myself when I can turn around and verbally instruct someone into having a better/easier time than me.

My friend’s husband is not going to experience the miserable trip I’ve had several times. I don’t want to go through it again and he’s going to get dragged along on the benefit of my experience. Yes, I know you are feeling no pain at four hours in on the first day.

Trust me.

After the multi-hour nap in the afternoon he decided I was probably right about pacing. It wears you out more than you think at first.

The other couple got to have a date night last night, so I got to put their kids to bed. It was lovely. It gets more lovely with every visit we have. Bonus Boy asked to not sleep with my kids tonight (four in the bed was a bit crowded the other night) and he was sad that his sister didn’t want to sleep with just him so I offered to stay with him. He was really excited. He chattered my ear off for over half an hour. We talked about the visit to Disneyland and having preferences (he did not like the rides that were dark) and how to phrase those preferences so you get to have the most fun.

Things like: “I have learned that I don’t have fun on rides that are really dark. I want to ride things that are outside in the sunshine because those are fun for me.” We talked about what kinds of questions he should ask about rides before getting on them so he can decide what he wants to do. I told him, “You are not required to go on every ride here. You only have to go on the things that interest you. But you will have to figure out what interests you and you will have to say no in a polite way to things that do not interest you.” He practiced a few different ways of doing that. I told him about different rides in the park and asked him which sound interesting. It was a great conversation. It may be the most intense conversation we’ve ever had about something other than going to space.

I’m enjoying this trip so much. A big part of what I’m enjoying about it is introducing the kids and making it good for them. I have weird, mixed feelings about that. It feels a bit creepy.

In particular, I have known these kids for a long time. I pay a lot of attention to them and I try very hard to really see what kinds of accommodations they need. The IEP/504 training that was part of my teacher credentialing was my favorite part. How do you look at a child and decide what kind of scaffolding this child needs to learn best?

It feels creepy because it makes me think about my Owner, who only really enjoys introducing people to new things. He doesn’t enjoy doing things with people who already know what they are doing. It’s boring. He doesn’t want to follow other peoples preferences, he wants to inculcate people in his preferences.

It’s a lifestyle choice.

I want to like people at all stages of life, not just a stage where I get to control them. That’s pretty wacky. I think I do. I certainly didn’t go into preschool teaching or anything.

Good golly do I enjoy helping other people get the support they need to be successful. I live for that feeling. No, I don’t. That’s a lie. But I feel rejuvenated by that experience. Validated. All the years of reading and study and practice and failure have paid off.

Is Disneyland the real world? No. But the skills you learn in this safe environment are directly applicable to the real world. Making mistakes is safe here. It is like what school should be if it were done right. Mistakes are part of learning and you should be forgiven instead of shamed.

This environment is dripping with privilege. Only privileged people are allowed to fuck up. That is so sad. Poor people can’t afford to make a mistake in the process of learning. It isn’t fair.

Yesterday when I was feeling cranky Noah spent time with the kids while I got to be alone. This entire situation is dripping in privilege. It is smoothing over the rough spots and making everything easier and more fun.

Sometimes I am confronted with how wrong I am about people when I assume they are like me. I forget that anger is a privilege too. One afforded to women in different ways than men. Women and men are taught different appeasement strategies. I am sometimes so wrong in my assumptions about men. This trip is going well on a variety of levels. Because sometimes it is a very good thing to find out you are wrong. Then you can work on changing your beliefs.

For a little while I was afraid I should cancel this trip. I was convinced everything would blow up and it would be all screaming and fighting and awful. Of course my assumption is that I would be an irrational crazy bitch who exploded at something that is no big deal–I’m not saying stuff about other peoples behavior.

Instead I am asking for support and getting it. I am napping when I need to. I am saying, “I need to sit here and read and not have a conversation for a little while” instead of being mean. I am eating regularly and staying well hydrated. When I started feeling tired I didn’t keep my mouth shut. I husbanded my strength really well. We had a really great day from start to finish.

I anticipate napping again today given my sleeping schedule. Apparently I needed to wake up in the middle of the night and talk to Noah. Sorry, Noah. If you weren’t such a conversational studmuffin… I wouldn’t bug you so much. (Now that’s victim blaming.) (Noah will probably provide a link to the comic where I get the conversational studmuffin reference in comments. He’s like that.)

I write so much about my bad days, I like to make sure I record good ones too.

Disneyland Day 1

I am so tired. Resting all last week (by ‘resting’ I mean ‘being sick’) actually probably means I’m less energetic/tough than I otherwise would be. I’m depleted.

It’s been a really fun day. I had moments of grump, but mostly I think that has been just fabulous. My moments of grump were always because of things that aren’t anyone’s fault. I’ll get over it.

It’s going really well.

Two days of plans gone.

Shanna seems to be mostly better. Her fever is over, she’s eating, and she’s drinking a lot more without complaining. Yay! Calli is still a little warm, but she never got as sick. She’s eating and drinking well. *phew*

If they are basically healthy by Thursday I won’t feel guilty about going to Disneyland. So today we are once again spending the day sitting on our butts and resting. Seems prudent.

I’m told yesterday’s post is hard to follow. Fair enough. I am self-referential and stream of conscious. I think you have to be on the train a while before it makes sense. I’ve read other writers like that. The first few pieces are confusing and hard to follow until you really understand the rhythm.

I think it is funny that I no longer take such feedback as criticism or as evidence that I suck as a writer. Nope. Some of my pieces are genuinely hard to understand, yesterday just took serious thinking. No, I’m not someone you can skim half-heartedly and get the gist. Nope nope nope.

My goal in life is not to appeal to the lowest common reading level. Lots of other people write there, I don’t have to. (I’m glad other people do! It’s important.) My goal is to represent what I think. That means it isn’t always going to be simple or linear. I don’t think that way.

It is kind of funny how my goals as a writer are not for money or fame. It is to make people like me more comprehensible to people who are not much like me. I’m told regularly that I’m pretty good at doing that. Yes, I am confusing and hard to follow sometimes. I have a habit of directly addressing one person in one paragraph and then directly addressing someone completely different in the next paragraph and that is totally confusing.

Yup, that’s how I think. I’m trying to represent my thinking. Frankly, I’m amazed I have as many faithful readers as I have.

Having three days in a row of sitting around and resting has been lovely. Really it was four days of sitting around plus a 5k on the first day. But I sat the whole rest of the day.

(Jumping topics to Disneyland trip.) I’m trying to get my anxiety down low enough that I won’t freak out when someone else’s kids scream and I can’t get away from them for a few days. I love and adore these children with all my heart. I don’t begrudge them the screaming. I think they are behaving in a way that is unfortunately appropriate for them giving all of the factors in their little bodies. I’m not upset with them. But I have to be calm and accepting and the fucking grown up. I’m really shitty at being the grown up sometimes. I’m kind of an immature brat.

I understand the impulse that leads to shaken baby syndrome. I understand why parents beat their children. I understand why foster children are abused so much by their non-birth parents. It is much fucking harder to be patient with children I did not give birth to and I am not that patient with the kids I did give birth to.

But I’ve babysat these kids before for weekends and had a lovely time. We can get through. We will manage. It will even be fun. I just need to focus on managing my anxiety so I can be support in the ways they need me to be.

Yes, they will have their parents there and their parents will mostly handle things… frankly that makes it harder for me to manage my anxiety. When I’m the one who has to handle it and suck it up about my feelings… that’s easier. When I have to mask my feelings and remain inactive… I suck. I suck. I suck. I have such a hard time not flipping out.

But I’m going to do it! I will! Damnit. They will have a lovely introduction to Disneyland and I won’t be a raging bitch and it will be great. God damnit. If I have to fucking force this to happen through sheer force of personality.

I will not interfere with how other people parent. I will not lose my temper because other people are having feelings at a volume that is hard for me. I will medicate on a schedule so that I can be calm and accepting of other people having ups and downs. I have to be placid. I’m so shitty at placid. But! I have apathy enhancement medication! Apathy can be had for a price. Oh yes, it can.

Some day these kids will be fully verbal and the screaming will be less frequent. At least that is how it is working with my kids, I cross my fingers. Until then, I want to demonstrate that I can be safe when other people are having big, overwhelming feelings. When I am the adult in charge of them I can hug them and walk with them until they calm down and we do ok. I will find a way to be an ok presence in the room without being the adult in charge. God fucking damnit I will find a way.

A few years back the four of us went up to visit a friend I don’t see very often. I’ve only seen her in person half a dozen times. She has an autistic son–at that point I think he was around 13. When I walked into the room I was feeling cranky about something and her son started visibly flinching away from me. In a light, upbeat voice my friend told me that her son is really sensitive to people being angry and it would be nice if I could kind of reign it in.

I really struggled that day. Being told that me being angry and silent wasn’t ok… that I was still a problem… that was hard. Frankly it may be part of why I just don’t go to her house any more.

It’s true. I’m a problem even when I’m silent and angry. People notice and get upset and feel threatened and scared. I’m so sorry.

This feels unfair all the way around. Other people have the right to not feel threatened by me and I have the right to get angry about things.

It’s a lot easier to take all my anger and shove it in a box to keep it away from a 2 year old who is having a bad day than it is to keep it away from just about anyone else. I can (and have) successfully adapted for these particular kids in the past. I don’t know how I will manage to continue to put them in the “safe zone” as they get older. I’m so bad about partitioning only a few classes of people. I’m only willing to be protective of people who I perceive as deserving my protection in ANY case. I’m not very willing to shield people from my anger if they are otherwise not someone I would take care of.

I was thinking the other day about a friend of mine. She’s kind of sensitive after a life of people treating her pretty badly. Other people taking out their bad day on her is a serious problem for her. She needs to be treated how SHE needs to be treated regardless of how other people are doing. I totally get that. I think I have an interesting time thinking about her because I am projecting onto her. I certainly am the same way. I need people to learn what things are and are not ok to say to ME.

I’m a complete asshole about wanting to treat people however I’m in the mood to treat people today while simultaneously expecting other people to be rigid and predictable and perfect in how they treat me.

Once in a while someone tells me I’m “so brave” because I am “such an individual”. I always feel very confused by those statements. I am who and what I am. I did not become this on purpose. I didn’t start out with a goal of being a weird asshole. It just… happened. I’m not much like most other people I know.

That is not a negative statement about the people I know. We are all shaped by our experiences. I’ve had an unusual array of experiences.

I believe these children deserve to have me be nice to them as much as my children do. I think they deserve this because they have never done a thing in the world to try to hurt people. They are as innocent as the day is long. I am helping to shape their experience of the world. If I am loving and gentle and patient… they will learn how to be too. If I am impatient or a jerk just because they have feelings… they learn that they are an inconvenience and that they aren’t loved enough to deserve space for their feelings.

Really, I think all kids deserve me being nice to them. The trouble is coming up with the juice to be that nice. I’m really not that nice of a person. I think pretty much most adults deserve me being nice to them. Holy crap the sponge is dry. No more niceness soaked in to squeeze out and share. Sorry! No one filled me up.

I feel like I pass along the niceness I received from Miss Leslie. She was the yard-duty lady at one of the elementary schools I went to. She is the one who brought me to church and taught me a gentle, kind love for Jesus. She showed me how children should be treated. If I think back to the people who interacted with me during my childhood she stands out head and shoulders above everyone else in kindness.

It may be why I am so nasty when atheists attack Christians. Miss Leslie loved me and was so nice to me.

For later inspiration for older kids I go with Jenny’s mom. Jenny’s mom was a middle school teacher and she had an ability to deal with mouthy adolescents that really worked well with me. Ok, I have since learned she can be very wrong about some things. She doesn’t have accurate information on breastfeeding for starters. I feel like she was a very positive influence on my ability to be a teacher, though.

This is what I mean when I say I pick models and I try to be like them.

I feel like I should go meet a whole bunch of parents of autistic kids. There are a lot of autistic kids in my life. Several dozen if you look around widely enough. My friends are the parents of the very young ones. I need to talk to the parents of the teenagers. I’m not the parent of an autistic kid, but the parents of autistic teenagers can probably give me good advice about how to be an appropriate supportive person without overstepping boundaries.

Those boundaries are super important. And I suck at finding them on my own.

Work in progress. That is what I am. A work in progress. I’m trying. I am improving. Ironically it will be 8 weeks in between therapy sessions this time. I’m feeling more “ok” than I usually do with more frequent therapy visits. Hm. That’s funny.

Find gratitude.

My life is not short on excitement. It is now pretty clear that this elimination diet journey is going to take many months. Deep sigh. At least I have the ability to do it. Be happy about that. Takes privilege.

Beyond food being hard over the next few weeks I will have Thanksgiving. I have no idea what I will eat (even my “yes” list is suspect given how much diarrhea I still have) but I will be with the three people in the world who are obsessed with me. It’ll be a good day.

Christmas should be fun. We are starting to gear up.

January will hopefully be very slow. Glacially slow. We’ll see. February we go to Disneyland for a week. March has FOGcon. April has My Little Pony Convention (Called BABScon). May is Shanna’s birthday. June is Noah’s birthday and then we run away.

Just over six months away. I’m starting to look for specific data on where to camp and store stuff while we site-see and such on the big trip. My data-filled-book grows. I’m excited. What to do in different places? Oh so many choices.

Whatever negative things I can say about my life… it is full of wonder and joy. I’m grateful to be doing the things I get to do.

I’m sure we will sneak in another weekend or two camping once I get the trailer put together. Yes, I need to test it in cold weather. I want to live in it for six months. There will be cold nights.

Today I go back to the woo-doctor again. A friend invited us to go ice skating this afternoon. Then we see Pam for the penultimate time before she runs off to see her family on another continent. She’ll be back but she’s going to be gone a while.

Next week no woo-doctor. I get to go be frustrated by Kaiser telling me they won’t help me (wait and watch) and on Wednesday I get a crown put on the tooth I cracked. Yay! Or something. So today with the woo-doctor and then two weeks till I can see him again. (Saying that mostly so I remember later when I talk to him.)

Progress

The kids have blasted through a few different milestones this week. I should record this so I don’t forget. Both kids are now swimming without a life vest. This is huge. Both kids got off the bucket support in ice skating (Calli is doing better than Shanna). Last, but not least, both kids have suddenly decided they are interested in long bike rides.

I find it fascinating how neck and neck they are for physical skills. In a few years Calli will probably be far more advanced than Shanna at the rate she picks things up. They aren’t equally skilled in all areas of knowledge, but Calli has a great relationship with her body. Shanna reminds me of me. Ha.

I feel guilty anytime I say that they can be assholes, but when it comes to dealing with people who might take care of them it seems like fair warning. They can be sweet as pie and they can be serious assholes. You have to be prepared to hold boundaries and really fucking mean your “no” or they will make you sorry. They are tenacious and pushy in a way rarely tolerated in children.

I’m crossing my fingers it will work out in the long run. For now there are days when they are pretty hard to handle.

It isn’t about you (whoever you are) because they do it with me, Noah, K, and everyone else who has ever baby-sat. Children are supposed to test limits. I also believe that children are supposed to run smack into the brick wall of limits and be told NO. Because that is part of life. You don’t always get what you want and learning to manage that frustration is easier when you are under ten than it is over thirty.

I feel scared that I am doing them a disservice by allowing them to push as hard as they do. Most children are “broken” of that habit. I try to break my kids of the habit of shitting in the back yard. Backtalk is ok with me.

Pick your battles.

I want my daughters to be able to grow up and speak as assertively as any man. I don’t know many women who can. I know a few, because I hunt for such Amazonian Goddesses.

They bug me and delight me. They frustrate me and fill me with so much hope I feel like I will explode. Every day. I am grateful every day that I get to be with them. I stop and make time even when I’m being a pissy bitch.

“Today is kind of hard. But it is the best kind of hard I can imagine. I am grateful I get to be here doing what I’m doing.”

Shanna and I had a fight about something…can’t remember what about. It wasn’t a big one. She went to her room to cry. When I checked on her after a few minutes she said, “It feels like no one loves me today.”

I said, “Do you love me?”

“Yes.”

“Do you get mad at me sometimes?”

“Yes. You deserve it.”

“I’m not quibbling. But you can get mad at me without it taking away from how much you love me. Why do you think it works differently for me? You are the best thing that has ever happened to me and I love you to the moon and back. And sometimes you piss me off. Life is like that.”

She kinda laughed and hugged me.

When I really think about it… I feel bad for my mom. She probably does still love me. Even though she didn’t want me to start with. Even though she wasn’t very good at taking care of me. Even though I have pissed her off, maybe more than all her other children combined. She probably loves me.

I really hope my kids never need to pull away from me for their own safety.

This week has been tumultuous emotionally. But we’ve had internet connectivity stuff that prevented me from boring anyone with it. Huzzah?

Apparently today we are going dancing. Because someone finally responded with a yes. I was getting emotionally ready to back out on going. We don’t really have appropriate costuming. And Noah is not interested in dancing. And managing the kids while dealing with Noah’s unhappiness about being dragged to something he hates is always fun.

I was hoping that everyone would tell me no they weren’t going so I could skip it too.

I like to dance. I love dancing. Sometimes dragging a whole crew of people who need care of coaxing isn’t very fun. It is sounding really hard today. But a posse was formed so now I can’t back out. Even though it sounded like way more fun when I first heard of it months ago it doesn’t sound real fun today.

Noah didn’t go to bed last night. He’s probably going to be cranky. There is always the double whammy that being sleep deprived makes him cranky and then he’s extra cranky because I woke up in the middle of the night and yelled at him about not sleeping. Because when he doesn’t sleep at night he sleeps through the weekend. And we don’t have children who wake up at night anymore so I’m really sick to death of a partner who is cranky because of sleep dep. There is no excuse.

Only there are dozens of excuses and I’m an asshole for wanting to control his sleep so much.

Well, there are weeks when he naps enough during the days to make up a whole extra work day of time gone. Given that his time off amounts to a day of work amount of time off… he is effectively not available 7-9 hours of the day 7 days a week. And it’s not like he hangs out with them for all of the 4-6 hours he overlaps awake with them. Not even close.

The mothers helper kid stopped showing up. That’s a write off.

Getting actual, consistent support is hard. I’m tired.

I’m having a hard time with some communication stuff too. I don’t feel heard very much. When other people act like “they’ve heard all my shit because they’ve read the blog so when we get together it is their turn to talk” I feel… really shitty.

Writing on the blog doesn’t increase my sense of being seen all that much. I think it is important. I think it is helpful with a lot of my relationships. But I never blog about everything going through my head. I have so many layers of filters. If I mentioned x on the blog there is usually about fourteen layers of shit associated with x that I didn’t dare write about.

And people don’t really want to hear about it. I’ve already used my word count up for the day. Without ever once opening my mouth.

I’ve been wanting to bang my head a lot lately as a reminder to shut up. Shut up. Just shut up you stupid bitch.

I’m supposed to stand there and smile and be supportive about someone else’s issues and not say anything that might make anyone feel uncomfortable. Just shut up shut up shut up.

I don’t think it is “personal”. If I asked people about why communication stuff is wonky I would be dismissed or told I was imagining it or it was just my perception.

Ok fine. Maybe I should just stay home with my perception then. In my home with just my kids it doesn’t feel nearly as bad that I’m not allowed to talk about my shit. I knew that was the deal before I got into this situation. It doesn’t bother me very much with kids. I don’t want to hurt them and I know that knowing too much about people like me will hurt kids.

It is harder with adults. So much harder.

Today I run 4.5 miles before the dance event. Thank goodness today is a massage day.

For all that I seem to live at my pity party table I know I have a pretty fucking good life.

I’m going to go cry out my misery at Disney next year. Hilarious.

If I could stop wanting people and if I could start being happier with just being alone as I do things my life would probably be perfect. I really like what I get to do with my time in the main. Yeah, I won’t fill my hours exactly the same way when the kids are grown but I’m content with where I am for now.

If I could just stop feeling sad. If I could stop missing my mommy so much.

Shanna and Calli call one another “Sissy”. I’m not entirely sure how/where they picked it up but now I’m copying it with both of them.

That was what my sister wanted to be called. She would hit me if I used her real first name when I was little. She was Sissy. End of story.

Sometimes when I hear Shanna and Calli say ever so sweetly, “Sissy will you please help me?” “Oh Sissy I’d love to” I walk away and cry.

I feel like an asshole. Why am I crying? Because I’m so fucking jealous. My Sissy hated me so much. Get over it. I’m trying. Thus the crying in the early morning hours. Because crying is how you get over it.

I feel really sad. I did sleep well last night. A good 7.5 hours. That has been my sleep cycle for most of my life. I’ve been trying to eat those shitty vegetable things everyone tells me are “good for me”. I’m mostly eating them cooked, so I don’t get massive diarrhea but sometimes people put them in front of me raw and I try to be all GGG and eat them anyway. And I burn with punishment.

It is funny how suicidal thinking works. There is a difference (for me) between suicidal ideation where I feel like I am working on A Plan and the sad anxious feeling of wanting to give up. The wanting to give up feels like a dog whining in the corner. Small, helpless, not able to get up and do much for itself. Pitiful and pathetic and not worthy of notice. It isn’t threatening. It isn’t real.

There is a difference between the days when I have to more or less crawl across freeway overpasses because I want to jump so fucking badly and the days when I want to just hide under the desk rocking and crying and beating my head.

Hiding this from my children for 7-9 hours a day 7 days a week is really hard.

I need to just be grateful that I don’t have to do much cooking. That is the most frequent point at which I fail to keep my shit together. Thank you, Noah. I really appreciate it.

I need to give my arms a break. Is it bright enough outside to run yet? This time I need to eat something before I leave. That last weekend run where I took off having eaten nothing felt really bad. You require fuel in your tank.

Good thing I pack little squeeze packets of peanut butter and chocolate just in case. I’m smarter than I look. Or, more accurately, I’ve been stupid a lot of times and eventually I learned. So I’m probably not smarter than I look.

I need to give Noah a chance with today. No, he doesn’t like dancing. He tries to be nice about it. He will help with the kids. He will in general be reasonable company.

My expectations of him are really unfair and ridiculous. I’m sorry. I expect Noah to be cheerful and upbeat about pretty much everything and it isn’t very nice of me.

When I’m around someone who is in a shitty mood I tend to sink to their level and keep on sinking. When I’m around people who are upbeat and perky I can ride the wave with them. I feel like a jerk for needing other people to lead my emotional experience.

Sometimes it is hard for me to feel happiness at all without someone modeling how it is supposed to work. That’s a lot of what I like about my kids. They are so happy. Yes, they can be abrasive assholes and they will scream when they don’t like something. (working on that) But mostly minute by minute they are just…. happy. Life is really good. They get their needs met.

That’s a lot of why I like hanging out with them so much. I will fake happiness in order to buy the relationships I want. It is part of why I have such trouble at jobs. I don’t care that much about money. Beyond subsistence and minimal safety I was never real motivated to work hard for money. Enough was good enough.

At every job I’ve ever had there is far less impetus to be in a good mood. Why, so I can make a customer happy? What fucking ever.

But if my attitude is the difference between Shanna and Calli having a good day or a bad day, then I need to work on my attitude. As one of the moms in our group says, “You’ve got to have a good attitude…”

I can’t control the fact that I have mental illness and it has impact on my kids. What I can do is work to mitigate the damage. What I can do is behave in such a way that they will grow up and be able to understand how hard I worked at being good to them. I hope. Who knows. Maybe they will never give a shit. Most kids don’t seem to care about their parents much.

Doesn’t everyone want to feel appreciated?

One of my neighbors is talking about home schooling her kids next year. She talked about wanting to do it from the first day we met. I asked her what was stopping her and it came down to fear that she couldn’t do a good enough job.

Then last year she had a bunch of problems with the school. Her children are really not being appropriately served. So she’s considering home schooling a lot harder.

She asked a lot of questions. I feel I was pretty balanced. I started with my normal, “Of course there is a whole spectrum of opinions from radical in the direction of no direct teaching to school-at-home with every minute scheduled. I’ll talk about what I do first and then I will move on to different points in the spectrum and talk about the pros and cons. The important thing is to figure out what works for you and your child because there is no universal right answer.”

I’m a good advocate.

I really hope she will consider it because she REALLY WANTS TO and she is incredibly organized and focused. She would be good at home schooling. She’s big on answering questions with, “I don’t know the answer to that yet, let’s find out.” Perfect. That is the attitude you need. And she’s super happy to hang with her kids all the time.

I told her the only think she is potentially going to lose out on for her kids is the time they get to spend with her. If you miss a year of public school you can catch up in summer school if you are bright and motivated. Whoopie. Her kids are quite smart (fully literate in two language before third grade is amazing–she mostly taught them) and I don’t see a down side. The only thing holding her back is fear. (That’s what she said. I’m not projecting.)

But it is her life. Who knows. It would be cool though. Even though we probably wouldn’t be live-in-your-pocket besties (even though she lives ONE BLOCK AWAY) it would be nice to have another home schooler in Fremont.

We are going to have to join or create a Fremont home school group or something. Yes, we will still love all the Castro Valley and San Leandro and Oakland people…. but the road is equidistant in both directions. I can only do so much driving.

I wish I felt less desperate. I know that desperation is one of the fastest way to drive people away from you. The depth and intensity are scary. I don’t have a good reason. I’m sorry. Just breathe. Go get some food. Read a few chapters. In about 40 minutes it will be time to run.

Now I will nom a muffin that is poison for Jenny.

Just another whinging Friday

It isn’t that I think my kids are bad or anything. They are just excellent boundary pushers. I want them to push boundaries. I flat encourage them in that direction. I want children who are tenacious, stubborn, and sure that their idea is A Good One. But. But sometimes I wish I could say, “I know I’m willing to argue/negotiate with you all day every day but can I please have a friggin break on my birthday.” They just aren’t old enough to understand.

We did have good moments. I feel really bad that it seems like all I do is complain. Doesn’t anything make me happy? Am I ever satisfied? Is there any point in reaching for satisfied or is that just not something I can feel? I feel really guilty for not being able to turn this into a fun trip. It should have been a fun trip. I hate that I am such a downer all the fucking time.

But it felt really bad getting yelled at for what I wanted to order for lunch. I fucking told them four days in advance, “On my birthday I want us to have gumbo and papas fritas and beignets for lunch. That’s what I want.” They were enthusiastic and supportive until we got to the park. Then I was a mean and terrible person for not letting them have popcorn for lunch. Or ice cream. Or a Dole Whip. Or…

My kids rarely have extreme cases of the gimme’s. I don’t buy them things all that often on our outings and I’m kind of nasty about being pestered to buy stuff. Holy.Fucking.Shit. This trip was the most gimme-gimme-gimme I think Shanna has ever been. She actually sat on her ass in the middle of the store and started yelling at me because I wouldn’t buy her a FUCKING SECOND MUSIC BOX. SHE HAS ONE AT HOME THAT SHE BOUGHT WITH HER ALLOWANCE ON OUR LAST TRIP.

I almost lost my shit. If we had been within an hour of home I would have left the park fifteen minutes into the day.

The really funny thing is the DMV portion of the trip was the best natured and happiest all three of us were on the whole trip. We played games and met people and it was a really enjoyable 3.5 hours. Hell, I’m talking to a lady via email after that. She’s nice.

I think it is that whole kicked puppy thing. I was acting like a kicked puppy. I was begging them to please let me have a turn. When you act like a low status person you get kicked like a low status person. So my kids kicked me (only literally a few times figuratively much more often) all day.

It all feels like my fault. If things go badly it is because I planned wrong or anticipated wrong or… something.

Having them both scream at the top of their lungs that I was mean and nasty multiple times before 10am felt really hard. I know this is a current tick. I know that the best way to handle it is to not engage. At this point in time I am having trouble not bursting into hysterical tears or hitting them. I have strong impulses to do both. I’m not doing either but I want to.

Just breathe. This moment will pass.

I have spent ~15 hours over the past week and some working on scheduling. I’m getting close to knowing the shape of my days all the way through the end of the year. If I stick with my schedule. Ha.

In order to make it so that I can potentially accomplish what I want to accomplish I need a schedule with a lot of rest time scheduled. I need to not be booked all day every day. I have to have multiple days in a week where what I do is hang around the house and putter. I need to have scheduled “sit on the couch and read books and snuggle” time with the kids just about every day.

I have to run more. I just have to. Not running is feeling a lot worse than running. Which is hella funny. We have gone out all four of us a couple of mornings in a row. We hope to get the kids used to going for a morning jog. Noah and I take turns doing sprints up the block and back to the family because the kids are a lot slower.

Outrunning Suicide is starting to take shape. I have mostly written several chapters. I have a skeleton. This one is very different than No Secrets. The entire writing process feels different. This will feel more like a collection of essays than a story, but there needs to be some sense of story in it as well. I am trying as hard as I can to be conscious of the fact that I want this book to be appropriate for twelve year olds. Even though the mothers of twelve year olds will say that it is too mature. The mothers are wrong.

I need to start working on painting in the back yard. All of the stuff that was built this year needs to be painted so it doesn’t rot quickly. Oh man.

I don’t want to go out very much over the next few months. I want to get work done. I want to home school my kids. I need to stop looking outward for a while. We will go to park days. I will continue to try to make time for Noah’s friends who have all had kids and the few people I have hanging on who had kids.

I need to stop looking for new people. I don’t have the bandwidth. My monkey spheres are full.

I like having a lot of… I’ll call them third tier friendships. People generally don’t want to think of themselves as third tier, but oh well. At this point the only person I have near daily contact with who I don’t live with is K. Thank goodness for her. That is the first tier. Second tier are all of the people who have kept contact with me for long-stretches of time and they know real things about me and I know real things about them. These are people who very consciously schedule with me and make sure that I know that they think about me. The third tier are the people I don’t see a lot of and they know very little that is real about me but I want to feel acceptance and love so I try very hard to maintain Appropriate Behavior around them and I know there are consequences if I slip up.

The third tier is where you get into the idea of Community. These are people I want to know. They add value to the world and to my life in particular but I don’t think they actually like very much about me so I have to carefully construct what they see or I will be shunned again.

I can’t overload my second tier. When I overload my second tier then I see the ending of nearly-decade-long relationships and the backlash hurts me for years.

The third tier is where I spend most of my time. I carefully dole out just small bits of my personality to people. It all tends to feel very artificial. I know I need to be careful not to be too real. I need to not saying things that will upset people. Good fucking luck guessing who is sensitive to what.

Why is the third tier so important? Because I have absolutely stressed the first and second tiers to the limits of their ability to support me and if I have free-floating miasma of need and I get it met in bursts of random kindness from the universe. I depend on a lot of Pay It Forward. Mostly this has worked out fairly well. Humans in general are loving, kind, and they want connection.

But then we get to this punishment thing. I think that most people have trouble understanding that they are punishing people. I know that I struggle with understanding how and where I punish people. I do it but it is hard for me to understand the mechanism of it. It is hard for me to understand that I have the power to punish people. I don’t feel like I have such power. I feel weak and powerless.

My second tier has worked very hard to step up since I had kids. As much as I am still in a place of great hostility towards the idea of “chosen family” (given that most of the people who have emphatically told me that I am their family no matter what no longer speak to me I think I get to be hostile to this concept) I… feel conflicted. Clearly I have friends who have moved into family roles.

I feel like I am understanding how other peoples limitations work better as the years go on. Like, I’m not inviting people on trips. It isn’t that anyone wants to hurt me (I don’t think that the desire to hurt me played any part in people not being able to go on the trip–major health concerns came up for everyone) but I am still here hurting. How do I move towards hurting less?

I have been asking for help with things where I can’t handle the answer “no”. That is always where I get into trouble. This is consistent for me. I wait until the lack of support will be crippling then I ask for support then I get told no because other people don’t have the bandwidth and I crumble.

I need my life to require fewer spoons. I need to not need help.

Having children has been humbling and humiliating. The amount of help I have needed has been really hard. Things like going to the doctor for an ultrasound of my abdomen. That turned into a huge long lecture at Kaiser about how I need child care or I can’t get health care. I understand why my dentist pushed me to get the dental implant I needed while I was pregnant even though the pain meds aren’t optimal because “Mothers don’t take care of their teeth when they have children under ten.”

It is kind of weird and hard to talk about but since having children I am more house bound than I was before simply because of how my bathroom habits changed. I have always had a small and urgent bladder (common problem with early childhood sexual abuse) but after the kids my life-long diarrhea problem became urgent and explosive too. And then there is how my periods have changed. Having a body sucks.

Having kids is hard but I did not anticipate the specific ways this would be so hard. I anticipated getting sick of laundry and wiping up poop and being screamed at. I didn’t understand that after having children it would be a rare thing for me to be able to handle three hours between bathroom trips–I get a few freak days once in a while. I normally go to the bathroom every half hour or so. I don’t think I would physically be able to teach right now. I used to have 110 minute class periods. I can’t hold my bladder that long any more. And it is illegal to leave in the middle of a class to use the restroom. I did it anyway but you aren’t supposed to and there are severe potential punishments.

You want to know why I have so much anxiety about neglecting my children when they are playing in another room and I can’t see them but I can hear them? Because I went through teacher training and discovered just how much trouble I can get in if I don’t “properly supervise” other peoples kids. Apparently properly supervise means sit on top of the child and physically prevent them from ever breaking the rules. Good luck.

I swear this all ties together in my head.

I have historically depended heavily on the third tier. Why do I consider them third tier? What I can ask of them is much smaller and more limited and I have to be careful of watching how often I ask. The tiering is how much of my need they have demonstrated an ability to handle. It isn’t about me judging them negatively or thinking they are bad people. I’m intense. I hurt people without trying. I need to be careful to notice when I am hitting stress points for people and withdraw so there can be a next time. If I push third tier people too hard they eject me from their lives.

With children this is different and difficult. At this point I feel like a user if I ask people for anything. I try hard to bully K to let me come do work at her house because I feel like such a user all of the time given how much support she gives me. It isn’t actually a better dynamic.

I have a hard time knowing that at this point in my life I need more support than I give. It has been true for years. Maybe for all of my life. This totally plays into being financially dependent. I feel ashamed of myself. I look at the women in my life who are not dependent and I feel pathetic. This is part of that defining myself by being not-like other people. It isn’t good for me or anyone else.

I don’t feel like the things I do are good or worthy. And yet I really really really want to do the things I am doing. With fervor and intensity I want these things in the world and I don’t think anyone but me will do them. I take that as a sign they probably aren’t worth doing and I am just a waste of resources.

Part of the problem with an extensive third tier is someone always needs help. People are always struggling and I wish I could help more. I wish I had more to offer. I wish I had more energy. I wish I had more time to give them.

But instead I will stay home and weed my garden and write a book and paint. I am selfish and small. My life is limited and unimportant. I totally struggle with that Gen Y thing of, “But I am SPECIAL”. No. I’m really not. I don’t have anything unique and special to offer the world.

But sometimes I feel like I do. Sometimes I feel like I am good at helping people see their own value. Because I think so little of myself I view basically everyone in the world as higher status as me. When I explain to people all that I see about them that is good and wonderful they tend to be surprised. They are not able to see themselves that way. Isn’t that ability good and useful? Is that enough? What is enough? Enough of what? Enough for what?

I don’t know.

But I need to pull back into my little shell. I need to count my spoons and carefully lay them next to tasks. I want to read more books this year. I want to look out my back window on New Years Eve and see a rainbow castle. I want to finish writing the book that I really needed to read when I was twelve. I want to teach my children the daily habits of picking up after themselves. Even though it is hard. Even though you would rather do it later. If you do it now then you are free to go do anything you want on a whim. It takes practice to learn these habits.

I want my children to think that physical activity is just part of life. So I have to model it every day.

I want to not be fucking screamed at. I have already made a lot of progress on my own screaming. I will figure this out. It is going to be hard and it will take patience. We will figure this out. Without anyone getting beaten. There may be a fair bit of time out in our future.

I don’t think that anyone did anything wrong per se on my birthday. But I think that at this point my birthday is such a thing that I’m not sure anyone can do right. I don’t think it is anyone else’s fault at this point.

Rope bridges last a long time but eventually decay. You aren’t doing anything wrong by jumping up and down as you go across a rope bridge. Sometimes a log may break and you could plummet to your death. No one actually did anything “wrong” but there are still end results that suck.

I don’t know how to feel special. I want that feeling so bad. I want to feel loved and appreciated and like people are really really glad I am alive. I don’t feel that way. I feel like people tolerate me so long as I can fill their needs and not be too annoying. I know that people don’t actually feel that way about me. I don’t think I offer enough trade to actually justify that belief.

It isn’t that I believe that Noah and Shanna and Calli secretly hate me. It is clear that they all love me with great intensity. But something inside me is broken. It is like pouring boiling water into a tank of liquid nitrogen so that you can warm it up. That just isn’t going to work how you hope.

I feel raw. I know I am “over sensitive”. I know I “shouldn’t take things so personally”. But I am. I just am. Maybe I shouldn’t be. Maybe I shouldn’t exist. But I do. And this is how I feel. And I can’t make it go away just because it is inconvenient for me or for other people. The only thing I can do is try to stop being in a room with anyone else on my birthday so that it is very very clear that this problem is in me and not because of anyone else.

My birthday is really hard for me. I’m afraid it always will be. I desperately desperately want a kind of feeling loved and cared for and appreciated that I’m not getting. I don’t know what it is or how to get it. Everything I have tried so far has failed miserably. I really and truly have tried to change this pattern.

I wish I could stop feeling like it would be better if I was dead. Then I wouldn’t be so fucking inconvenient.

I know it isn’t “true”. I had kids so that I would know beyond the shadow of a doubt that my labor is necessary for a few decades. Nothing would be better right now if I was dead.

But I don’t know how to feel loved. I feel despised. I feel unappreciated.

Which is ridiculous. Noah couldn’t work harder than he does. And he clearly is doing it for me–he didn’t work like this before me. My Owner was a workaholic. Noah was kinda lazy when I met him. He was certainly unfocused–that is probably a better word than lazy. He works like a dog, largely because he is doing it for me. He wants to make all of my dreams come true.

And I reward him by crying and crying and crying and feeling like a worthless piece of shit. He is very confused. If I knew what to ask him to do he would do it. I don’t know. I don’t know how to stop feeling this way.

I mean, in the abstract I know how to deal with this feeling. Feel it. Cry while you have it. Wait. It will end.

That’s the awesome thing about feelings. They change.

Sometimes I do feel that Noah loves me. Sometimes I do feel that my kids love me. But somehow when it comes to my birthday that is broken. There is this big brick wall. I don’t feel attached. I don’t feel love or loved. I feel worthless and stupid and pathetic and bad and mean and unwanted and like I should just die.

And god I miss my mother. I miss my mother so much I want to curl up into a ball and never eat again. I am not worthy. I dishonor the woman who bore me. I am a piece of shit. I am not protecting her and taking care of her. I know she needs it. She has always needed it. She has always needed to be taken care of more than I need it.

And I think my kids need more taking care of than I need. Except for one day a year. Where I think I am going to need to have different boundaries.

I have started grieving really hard for the apology I was told I would get and I didn’t get. That guy in the scene I went and talked to who said he would write an apology. I’m sorry I made myself vulnerable to that.

I’m even more grateful for talking to the guy who made me uncomfortable at the wedding.

I know that I have to keep trying with people. Every relationship is unique. Every dynamic changes over time. I need people to jump over hoops for me. I need it. I’m pretty clear and direct about how and where I need it. I try not to be too demanding of any one person. But I do ask people to jump through hoops for me.

I want people to show me with their actions that I am actually as important as they verbally claim I am. I want my body to matter. This is a really dangerous kind of validation to want. Because I am not going to get it. People will say they will do ______ and not do it.

Do you know what makes people happy? Giving help to other people. Do you know what makes people feel shitty? Needing help. I hate my neediness as much as other people resent me inflicting it on them.

The kids are slightly sick. Runny nose on elder child, both are coughing. Younger child keeps telling us she needs a bucket but she isn’t vomiting. I’ve been crying so much I don’t know if I am sick or not. I scheduled a potentially light weekend because I am S-M-R-T.

I am looking forward to fall and winter. It will feel really nice after the frantic work pace of spring and summer. It is a puttering kind of day. I will go grocery shopping. I should wash the windows. Then they can color on them again. Ha. Right now they are too full to be fun.

I should stop typing. Annnnnnnny minute here……

Well, I’m older.

I learned a few things on this trip. I will never again plan a trip around someone coming with me. I need to assume that I will be alone and I need to make my spoons cover the whole time I will be there. If I plan around not being the only adult and then I am stuck being the only adult things don’t go very well.

We were gone for 60 hours. I drove for 14 hours (traffic was heinous). Slept for 16 hours. ~6 hours of the kids yelling at me at the top of their @#$#%@#% lungs that they want to go into Disneyland NOW when they wake up 3 hours before the park opens (times two days–see how that works?)

3.5 hours in the DMV. That was entirely my fault for not doing better planning.

So that leaves ~20 hours to be in our hotel or in the parks. We made dinner in the room each day. The kids were very angry with me that I would not take them swimming at the exact same time as I was cooking dinner. It turned into two hours of Shanna yelling at me about how it wasn’t ok to bring bathing suits and not use them.

I think this is the worst set of behaviors I have ever dealt with during a short period of time from my kids. By the end of the trip I felt no love at all. I cried for five hours on the last day including about three hours of the drive home.

My kids were not nice to me. They both screamed a lot. I got hit multiple times when I said no to buying things. I don’t know what the mother fuck happened.

Well, I asked them to please let me pick what we did for one day. Please, just one day. Apparently that wasn’t reasonable to ask for. (The developmental books talk about all of their shit being right on target. Calli is right in the middle of the stage where my FAVORITE AUTHOR EVER says, “Put them in daycare and get a lot of babysitting because no one likes their kid at this age.” It is a rough stage. I remember it with Shanna. She outgrew it. She is currently in a different annoying phase but it is very very different. Give them credit and all.

But it was a rather shitty trip. A long ass time ago when I thought I was going alone I planned for five days in a studio. (Not a lot of points and I would get three days in the park without driving.) Because I asked people to go with me I ended up booking a one bedroom for three days because other people have obligations. Then I got cancelled on. Then I hunted hard for another person and got cancelled on. Then I asked dozens of people and was told, “How about the week after?”

I don’t think I will schedule with other people any more. I keep hoping that I will have the kinds of friendships where I can do that kind of thing. I don’t have them. Wanting them is hurting me very badly and I need to stop wanting that. I need to stop thinking I will ever be someone who is part of a group.

I feel pathetic for how jealous I feel of the big families at Disneyland. I’m not that jealous. I understand that a family that size comes with a dogmatic religion I don’t want to follow. But it looks so nice to have a bunch of people who love you and want to do things with you.

I need to assume my travel is alone and just for myself. This is a tree I have to stop beating my head against because I just flat don’t handle it well when people back out. Then I’m stuck with a reservation that I can’t handle very well. I didn’t plan around my spoons. I planned around someone else’s spoons. I shouldn’t have. That was stupid.

Most of the drive home pretty much all I heard in my head was how stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid, stupid I was for thinking that the trip would work out and be fun. Instead I spent the whole time being yelled at and feeling like I was about to burst into tears because no matter how much I do for my kids they yell at me and scream at me and tell me I am mean and nasty for not doing EVERYTHING they want RIGHT THIS VERY SECOND. I know it is developmental and all. I think I deal with it ok most of the time.

It sucked golf balls through a tennis ball to have that happen on my birthday at Disneyland. At one point in the day when Shanna was being really snotty I started crying. Then she backed off. She said, “Oh, is this a big deal? I guess I don’t need it.”

I didn’t do very well with having to be the heavy mean person. I just wanted to be allowed to decide what we did on one day. My kids steer the vast majority of our days.

Next year I have every intention of waking up alone on my birthday and spending the entire day alone. Preferably hundreds of miles away from anyone I know so that I have no expectation of anyone being nice to me so that I won’t be disappointed.

Every year after my birthday I feel sad. It always feels like this sadness is all my fault. If I just chose to be happy everything would be fine. It is all my fault I am sad. Shut the fuck up you self-involved, pretentious, selfish bitch.

It really doesn’t help that driving down I-5 is a trip through my hellish past. “I was raped in that town. I was sexually assaulted but not raped in that town. I was beaten up every day by a group of six kids in that town. I was raped in that town. That is the town where my father held a gun to my head after raping me. That is where I was born and where my father started raping me.”

I don’t especially enjoy driving that freeway. It is very innately stressful for me. I have so much bad history there. And it all feels like my fault. If I hadn’t been so stupid…

I really don’t have a lot of respect for my intelligence right now. Right now it feels like there are lots of nice people in the world who like me and things don’t work out better for relationships because I am stupid and I want inappropriate things and I don’t know how to be nice enough so I just flat don’t deserve to have better relationships with all those nice people.

I want to cut so much. Still haven’t. Still not modeling it as a coping method.

People said happy birthday to me and I appreciated it. Thank you. I don’t actually think that “no one likes me”. I think my friends share what they have to give. Unfortunately sometimes I try to cobble what they have to give into what I need and it falls short. It isn’t my friends fault. I’m a black hole. I’m not sure there is “enough” anywhere in the world. So I have no right to complain about any of my friends.

But I’m still a black hole. And it hurts. It hurts.

I don’t know how to stop feeling like I should die because then the world would be better for everyone else. They wouldn’t have to hear about me and my stupid whining. I would finally shut the fuck up.

Assuming I will ever be anything but alone is stupidity. It is hubris. Stop being stupid, Kristine.

I’m not alone. I have Noah and the kids. But you know what… for the life of me they don’t seem to have much collective interest in being nice to me on my birthday.

I think that next year being literally alone is the right call. Less disappointment. Less being reminded that no, I’m not remotely special and people have absolutely no need to be nice to me on my birthday. It’s just another fucking day.

I forking love this time share.

I feel very lucky and very privileged at this point in life. I appreciate the fact that I get to share my privilege with other people.

I just booked a week at Disneyland for an online friend from New Zealand. I have known her since MDC. I have watched her pine for years. Now she gets to go. And stay in the fancy hotel. She is very exciting.

A different friend will get a week in Hawaii next year for her tenth anniversary.

Being able to give these gifts makes me feel rich in a way I can’t explain. I have so much goodness and fun in my life I can give it away. How cool is that?

Can’t complain

In the past week I have had good moments and bad. The good has so significantly outnumbered and outweighed the bad that I don’t want to record my done-me-wrongs. I am lucky and happy to have the life I have right now.

I have a five year old now. She takes my breath away. My younger child will only be a baby for five more minutes. Then I will never have a baby again.

I try hard to stop every day and look at them and feel gratitude. I get to be with them. I get to love them. This is what I always wanted. I just wanted to love like this.

All the other stuff seems less important right now. I am so very lucky.

I have a very fun life when you stop and think about it

I’m packing for Disneyland. It is raining so I don’t have to water or garden. Ok, it isn’t raining hard–I could go put seeds in the ground. It would be a great time. But I’m hanging out in the house instead.

The girls told me that I could pack for them. They expressed preferences for matching beautiful dresses. Luckily we have a week of those. Because they are into that kind of thing. They pick these dresses out. They go into the store and say that they want matching stuff. I don’t push this.

I feel a little weird about how much they want to be like one another. I think I am afraid of doing that.

I get to have a really easy life. I get to have all the wonderful fun stuff I can imagine having in a childhood.

Today, despite anxiety, I’m in a good mood. I love the planning stage.

And I have home made cupcakes. Banana-pecan-chocolate chip cupcakes. We win. It’s the little things, right? My day is going to be very good. Next week will be very good. I’m limiting my life down to what I can do.

And it’s going pretty well.

Dreaming of the Mouse

I have been talking to people about my travel plans. That means people have been indicating interest. This pleases me. I have a friend going to Disneyland with me and the girls this year. I don’t have 2014 in Disneyland locked in yet. Someone said that she and her family might be willing to meet me at Disney World for part of our time there in 2015; I know that a friend in Georgia wants to meet us there for part of that time too.

In either 2016 or 2017 I will spend two weeks in Hawaii in a really nice resort for my birthday.

This is why I bought the time share. If I only have to come up with air fare and food it’s not nearly so hard. I like running away from home. And it’s really nice running to places where I know the price I have to pay in order to have people be nice to me.

I don’t bring up the idea of traveling with people more because I’m really difficult and particular. I figure I’ll spend a lot of time with my mouth sutured shut for the rest of my life. That’s the price of having friends, right?

I know people with a wide variety of destressing activities. I plan Disney vacations. Yay prepaid vacations for fifty years. That’s a lot of destressing.

emptying my brain

I just had a brilliant idea. I need to get my hands on more big boxes. Then the next time we get rained out of the park I can tell folks to come over with markers. I think that having an activity will be useful. The pack of wild children running and screaming can’t be a full time gig. We have this construction kit we were given for building with cardboard. I am totally sure I could come up with something awesome given who the biggest five kids are. Those girls are clever.

I started working on the childrens book while we were at Disneyland. We mailed all the Christmas cards to the home schoolers but I’m not done with my cards. I have emails I want to write but I really want to see Noah too. And we have a tea party today that I need to prepare for. Luckily Noah cleaned the house for me while we were gone. Now that is true love.

I feel like a terribly ungrateful person for having this sad track in my head but I don’t know how to turn it off. My life literally has all of the elements I ever said I wanted. Oh, except for a mother. Or a father. Or a sister. Or brothers. I wanted to have those relationships too. I wanted to have people who would actually learn about me and be able to help me. I wanted to have people who felt obligated to help me. I’ll say it. I don’t have anyone who feels obligated to help me. I have people who feel bad for me and help me when they can. It really is different. I’m fucking grateful for what I have.

I feel constantly sad that I was not good enough to deserve a family. Having children and a husband is different. I’m grateful for them. I want them. Please God let nothing take them from me. I need them so much. But it’s different. My children know a very small part of me. And that is how it needs to stay. That is really hard. I don’t feel like anyone knows me very well and it makes me so sad.

I feel so unimportant. It really feels like the death of who I was. My children will only know me Post-Rape. No one knew me before then.

It is very overwhelming feeling. Like I really have to kill who I was. Like it should become my shameful silent secret. Even though it still feels like it is happening in my body sometimes. I don’t know how to make it stop. I don’t know how to stop hearing them tell me over and over that I am worthless and stupid and bad.

So I look at my nice family, my good family. I feel like I am going to hurt them. I feel like I am going to poison them unless I find a way to wall off the toxic waste that is my body. Unless I can learn how to pretend that I never had a persona that was raped over and over and over then I have to try harder to be silent. Be silent. Be silent.

No one wants to hear that shit Kristine. Shut up. Shut up. No one fucking cares. Why are you so stupid?

Noah noticed that Calli had a ridiculous language jump during the trip. I think it was because I felt safer talking there. It’s ok to talk in Disneyland because I am describing physical objects the whole time and answering their questions. I’m on task and I can relax. I can’t spontaneously talk about what I am thinking almost ever in my life. I just can’t. I have to be extremely conscious about what I talk about. It is easier at Disneyland where I have a job in front of me. I am interpreting this world and giving them my view of it and explaining to them what I want them to get out of it. I don’t go to Disneyland with the same agenda as other families (sorry folks). Shanna likes to play. We find places to hang out and she recruits kids into games. I need her to be adaptive to a wide variety of people. I take her to a lot of different kinds of places.

We need to be able to negotiate crowds. Disneyland is a very low stakes place to practice this. We go when it is not busy and we rehearse how to act. We talk about how far apart to be. We specifically talk about how many steps you are allowed to have between you and Mommy. Count them off. How do you look around you and determine where is safe to run and where you must walk? I need them to be able to evaluate environments and figure out behavior.

Shanna knows my full and complete name and knows that if she gets lost she is to walk to a cast member and say “Excuse me but I seem to have lost my mother. Not to worry, I know her phone number.” She sings it. I taught it as a song. That makes it easier to remember.

I am not trying to raise compliant children. But I am trying to raise children who have habits I can stand. We can argue and bicker all day long–but you’ll keep a civil tongue in your head or I’m not talking to you. If I yell first I acknowledge that I started it and I apologize. I expect Shanna to do the same. We don’t need to yell at each other. We can just talk.

By the end of the trip Shanna said we should have brought the double stroller. Ha. I hated having a stroller. I really did. I felt boxed in and controlled. I was pissed off by having to remember it. I took to forcing one child at a time into it because that way I could follow the pace set by one kid at a time. I was not capable of following two kids with a damn stroller. I hated it. Oh man they used it. I hated it. Thank you D. I really appreciate the loan. I will get it back to you soon.

I have to go in. Thank goodness this is a Godmama weekend. I can use some time off. I’m feeling very overwhelmed.

I’m doing it.

I spend a fair bit of time trying to figure out how to appropriately talk about mental illness with children. I also feel compelled to figure out how to explain stuff to friend’s kids some day. I will get questions. Recently I was relaying the story of shooting my mom in the face with the kitchen faucet (one of those neat ones with a tube so you can rinse off the whole sink) because she was being nasty and a kid asked me what she said to me. I told him I would tell him when he is older. He didn’t like that.

My kids need to understand why I medicate. They need to understand why I keep them away from it. Bodies are different. People have different needs. I assume that diabetics explain to their children why they must never play with insulin.

Right now the explanation that in my head feels “age appropriate” is “I had a lot of very unusual life experiences. I felt scared a lot. My body forgot how to feel not-scared. The medication I take lets my body understand oh yeah–nothing bad is happening because my body gets confused. It’s very annoying and inconvenient. This is why we ensure that you don’t spend much time feeling scared. I don’t want you to need medications to correct problems in your body so we are going to try to avoid creating them. Medicines are extracted or created in a wide variety of ways. This plant releases its medicine best by burning. But any kind of smoke at all is very bad for your body–it’s an irritant. It is hurting me. Right now the balance of my life is such that I need the help in my brain enough to deal with the fact that I am hurting my body. It’s not forever. Your body is perfect still. Let’s keep it that way as long as possible. All medications should be prescribed by a doctor.”

That feels kid-appropriate to me.

Yesterday was nice. I had several moments of reflection throughout the day where I managed to shut off the hand-wringing-oh-no-I-can’t-do-this voice that lives in the back of my head. The voice that occasionally rises to a panicked frenzy and it is all I can do to not find a dark closet and hide in it and beat my head till I drown it out. I used to do that, before I had kids. Now I don’t really have time for that.

Now mostly I mutter “shut up” every so often and try to ignore it. But it is a loud voice. It counts as background noise in my hearing and makes it harder to follow conversations.

Shanna climbed in bed with us in the middle of the night. The thing I am looking forward to the most about our trip to Disneyland next week is sleeping with the girls in a large and comfortable bed. I really like sleeping with them. They make me feel good about myself because they love me so much. And they do not fear me.

Looking into Shanna’s face in the middle of the night is one of the only times the I can’t do it voice is silent. When I look at my sleeping daughter I think I’m doing it. She is so wonderful she takes my breath away. I do not understand how I was blessed this much. We have such a pleasant relationship. We are really nice to each other.

My kids want to be near me because being near me is a pleasant experience. That feels so good. My children do not flinch. We are all yellers–they don’t take it as threatening. We just happen to express ourselves with force.

I like to let Shanna run and run and run and run in a field until I can barely see her and then I scream, “Come back now” and she does. She turns on a dime. It is miraculous to me the way she knows how and when to push the boundaries with me. She only rarely is impulsive in inappropriate places. Mostly, because I over-explain everything, she knows what I want from her behavior in different environments.

“In Disneyland you don’t have to hold my hand the whole time–I know that irritates you–but you do need to be able to reach out your hand and touch me the whole time. That’s how you know how far away to be. It’s a big crowd and you could get pushed away from me easily.”

I’m starting to feel excited about the trip. We plan to spend most of the days in the pool at the water slide. Ha.

I like being forced to look at them. I probably won’t really carry my phone around. Unschooling is a way of life. I try really hard to not distract myself during the day. My job for the next fifteen years is to be available to them for help with learning.

I feel the most joy I have ever felt. I confess that I partially feel a bit cocky that I’m not trying to actively teach Shanna anything “academic” at this point but she’s learning it anyway. Oh wow! It works! She has mostly taught herself to read. I will give 2-5 minutes of feedback at her request once in a while and I think that’s only happened three or so times.

I want to find out who she will be. I’m really interested.

It’s really kind of funny how “gendered” behavior is working in my house. They both have “intensely male” interests and attitudes right along side their uberfemme girly stuff. I really like that the princesses are exploring outer space. With a sword. That pretty much exactly seems right to me. We aren’t so big on the guns. Hand to hand combat is much more fun.

Today I’m packing. And cleaning. I have to get the whole house picked up and prepared because Noah is going to steam clean the carpets while we are gone. I feel very weird that my instant impulsive follow to that statement is, “I’m a lucky bitch” What in the hell has happened to me? Ok. Yeah. I’m kind of a freak now.

If you aren’t a parent–strongly consider whether you want to be deeply grateful for carpet cleaning. If that seems icki–don’t have kids. Heh.

Calli is past potty training. We haven’t had an accident on the floor in months. Oh man.

I’m going to have a more difficult relationship with Calli because she resents the fuck out of sharing me with Shanna. She doesn’t ever seem to feel like she gets enough of me. I do give her one on one time every day but I can’t get rid of my older child. There has been a rough bump around language acquisition. She gets so frustrated with having Shanna nearby and when she is trying to talk and Shanna talks over her… woo boy. I remember being the baby.

The dynamics here are interesting. We have specific dogma around behaviors in order to smooth things out. I hear lots of screaming recitals of “Moms rules” when I’m not in the room. Uhm, well it’s a process.

Shanna’s favorite is, “We are a sharing family.” She has a hard time with the fact that this doesn’t mean she gets to eat her share and my share and Noah’s share and Calli’s share. We should share with her after she finishes eating the fastest–right?

The flip side is she will hand her bowl over to someone if they ask before she has bolted the food down. She isn’t attached. She’s just ravenous. It is really interesting to watch them share. They share food with joy. I like it.

Toys… well they will have a long life of working out conflicts. We are working on doing so without hitting, biting, kicking, screaming, pinching, spitting, pushing, or intimidating someone. You have to be persuasive. Make your case. Oh, and no whining. Or pestering. Asking more than three times is pestering and then you get an automatic no for the day.

I’m firm but not mean. I think. I am really controlling. I feel very weird about that. But I’m very controlling about how they treat me. I have to believe this is healthy. You can’t hit me. You can’t kick me. You can’t spit on me. You can’t scream in my ear because it causes blinding headaches that last for days. etc and so on.

I believe with every part of me that if I want my kids to be nice to me I have to show them what it is like. I have to let them know that I feel frustrated with them sometimes and that’s ok and they will frustrated with me sometimes and that’s ok too. Even when we feel frustrated that is no cause to go being mean to someone you like as much as we like each other.

I’ve had several what I think of as Zen moments lately. All the bad tapes stopped playing for a few minutes. I felt really good about what I was doing. The kids and I were working on something together and I felt actively instructive in the good ways and they were thrilled I was paying attention to them and teaching them and I felt so fucking lucky that I get to have this life. I get to find out what a happy childhood looks like. That is not lost to me. I don’t get to have it–that is past. But I can see it. I was told that people like me couldn’t create one.

I’m doing it.