Category Archives: house rules

Peace

This morning I had a peaceful moment. One of those true, Zen moments of “I am happy and this is where I want to be.” Eldest Child woke up to use the restroom too early. I was awake doing chores, like usual. She asked me if I would climb in bed with her so she could sing me a lullaby. Twinkle Twinkle was the song of choice. Then she spent a while talking to me about why she likes me.

This is kind of a habit I have with the kids. I don’t put them to bed all the time, probably not even half the time these days at home. Maybe a quarter of the time? But we had the road trip and all the years before that of shared bed times. At bed time, what we do is we cuddle up close and spent 15-20 minutes talking about all the reasons we like each other. “You did ____ and I was so impressed with your thoughtfulness. You did ______ and I was shocked to see that you have made that developmental jump. I thought that was a (age inflation) thing and I’m really wow’ed. You said ______ word today and that was surprising because I didn’t know you knew that word!”

We bookend that with waking up to morning snuggles. During morning snuggles we talk about what we need to do today and how the schedule will work.

I can understand why my children insist I’m not an asshole and I just have bad moments. I don’t understand it so much from other people. Sometimes I feel like my children get to have a relationship with someone that no one else even gets to meet.

Sometimes I am capable of seeing myself as kind, giving, and loving.

That doesn’t change the fact that I’m an asshole.

Contradiction is necessary for life. For survival. You can be kind and an asshole.

Why am I so convinced I’m an asshole? Because I lawyer up fast when my contractors give me trouble. Because I find that swearing at men really harshly is one of the best ways to convince strange men I’m not interested in their attention. Because I find that sometimes it is necessary to kick people really hard to get them to let go and I’m willing to do it. Because I’m going to keep talking about why the word whore is eating my brain even though people with sex work careers twitch and feel really upset about it.

Want to hear something wild? Yesterday one of the most famous sex workers of our era gave me permission to use the word whore however I need to in my processing. She says if anyone questions me again I can send them to her.

That is… incredibly validating. Wow. Thanks.

I’m not sure I’m ever going to pull that card. But I may print out that tweet and cut it up small and put it in my wallet next to the permission slip from Noah. Just so that I think about it.

I have permission to look at this however hard I need to in order to get over it. She said so.

I am so fucking weird about permission. I’ve spent my whole life cringing, crying, and hurting myself because I felt that was the only thing I was allowed to do without permission. I need permission to stop. I need permission to feel something else about myself.

Why does that have to be the default? I mean, blame your parents yada yada, why does that have to be my default?

Why do I have to assume, in every moment, that I am the least valuable person present and if someone should die it should be me?

Not that I want to get to the point of wanting to sacrifice other people for myself.

Wait, maybe that is it.

I have never known a white person with really high self esteem who isn’t willing to throw other people under the bus for their own advancement. I have known people of color with high self esteem whom I have never seen sacrifice a friend. I know people of color who are exploitive assholes, too.

I’m trying to think through my white friends… y’all make very self absorbed choices. I do too. I’m not sitting on a high horse. I’m sitting flat on the ground. I’m not high and mighty here. I’m trying to figure out how this works.

I am willing to throw people under a bus if I feel I have to do so in order to be effective.

That’s why I’m an asshole. I need accurate labeling so other people know they have to protect themselves from me.

want to help you. I will try to help you. But if I feel I have to be effective in some area for Reasons…

I’m a selfish piece of shit. That’s why I’m alive. I’m willing to say that Safeway doesn’t matter as much as me, I’m stealing food. I’m willing to say, “Being around people who make choices like x is so problematic to me that I will bug and bug and bug people who make choices like that until they don’t want to know me any more.”

I’m an asshole because I make a lot of assumptions about people and I don’t check my privilege nearly often enough. I’m trying to get better. This is hard.

My life has been kind of hard to adjust to.

I spent my childhood moving like a ghost through different communities. I never stayed long enough to belong. I lived in a lot of neighborhoods where we were the only white family. I grew up feeling like being white was a bad thing. Know why? White people don’t care about their kids very much. That was how I experienced it as a child. I don’t think that is literally true across the board. That was my experience. In white neighborhoods there were always packs of unsupervised children doing horrifyingly inappropriate things. In neighborhoods of color there might be much older teenagers or 20-somethings causing trouble, but the kids were god damn watched.

I was chased out of so many homes for having bad behavior. I was told I was a bad girl dozens, maybe a hundred times.

It’s funny how my memories of these things change and drift. I remember them very differently as my understanding of the situation changes.

When I was 21ish I honestly didn’t remember all those lectures about being bad. I had kinda blocked them out. I knew I was bad but it was a fog hanging over my life. I didn’t have all those disparate voices going through my head.

As a parent watching my children be children (by which I mean breaking rules and fucking up) I hear those people in my head over and over more and more clearly. Oh. That was why they said that.

Click.

Now I get it.

Shit.

I have always felt like I was living in many ages at once. But I feel like my future selves have changed a lot over my life. My ability to perceive who I could be has changed.

These days I can picture having grandchildren who scornfully tell my children that they should be more patient, like Grammie. I will giggle. My children will say, “YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT SHE WAS LIKE TO GROW UP WITH.” I will giggle.

Do you have any idea what having that vision in my head means to me? I have the belief that I might be able to arrive at having the kind of experience of being in my body that I want to have. I believe that I might get to the point of being actually regulated and calm.

I have hope for something I was not capable of dreaming up 20 years ago.

It’s amazing what ten years of safety can do for a body. I see it in myself. I see it in my children. That is something that home schooling does for me that isn’t necessary for almost anyone else I know.

I require this specific time to be set aside in my adult life where the entire point of my day is to model how to have big emotions, get them under control, deal with them appropriately when they come up, and then keep working.

Not suppressing. Not denying. Not minimizing. Not avoiding until it comes crashing down on you at some inappropriate time in the future. Your feelings matter. They live in you and they serve a purpose. If you ignore them in the moment you will pay a price later. There are times and places where emotional displays are not appropriate, but get that stuff out as fast as possible so it doesn’t become a poison.

I am grateful every day for the life I am leading right now.

I have the safety, the money, the access to care providers, and the education to do something about the trauma in my body.

That is magical. This should be available to everyone who has experienced trauma. We would be a better world.

People deserve to be seen in context and understood. Most people who seem “crazy” to you wouldn’t seem so crazy if you knew more about their story. I tell my children all the time, “Weird just means you aren’t used to it yet; eventually it is just normal.”

My mom used to say, “The only norma people are the ones you don’t know very well.”

One of my neighbors is stepping up the offer of maternal-nature-friendship. I have mixed feelings about this. On one hand, Thank You Oh Universe, You Sure Do Like To Hear My Calls, Don’t You?

On the other hand… I’m scared of blowing up what we currently have if she finds out more about me. I’m not exactly the uhhhh conservative type and she is quite shy, scared, and sheltered. I don’t want to hurt her. She will need a lot of boundaries around the kinds of things she can handle hearing and I’m not sure how to find those boundaries without fucking up pretty badly. Once you say something it can never be unsaid.

We have a really solid, positive relationship. Losing it would be brutal. This feels really tricky. Our families are fairly strongly connected at the level we have now. I feel really like this is a big risk. Much bigger than telling all the strangers on the internet about my raunchy sex life and habit of beating people up for fun.

I’m kinda weird.

My superego is fucking developed at this point, ok? I’m growing up.

I’m an asshole and she is not. She wants to mother me. What will she do when she finds out I have approximately 500 x’s as much life experience as her?

There is a thing I think about. When I was in the bdsm community I was really serious about learning all I could as fast as I could. I played a lot with a lot of people. Basically I spent more time on bdsm than I spent on my college education, which I was pursuing simultaneously. Much Much Much more time on bdsm.

I was a serious slut and it was really fun and I have no regrets. I learned what I wanted to learn from that experience. I’m shocked at how often I find ways to apply the lessons I’ve learned, not in ways you’d expect.

I had more life experience at 25 than many people have at 50. It isn’t hyperbole, it is simple fact. I say yes to almost anything that comes up. I know very diverse people in many communities. I’m a moody bastard with a short attention span.

I’ve done a lot of things. It is something I notice when I meet new people these days. I sound like a lying braggart. Nope. I got receipts. I did all that. Why? Because I never felt like I had a better choice than to do what I was doing so I did it all in. As soon as something stops feeling like the best choice in the moment I break down, fall into a deep depression. Go home. Hurt myself until I figure out that the boundaries required in that community are not things I can maintain long-term. Then I heal. Then I try again.

It goes faster and faster as I age and get boundaries carved out of granite. It is harder to change them. I am less tolerant of my internal, “I need to conform by doing x in this environment” sensor and I just flee.

I have a home now. I have less reason to tolerate your bullshit rules. Wanna know why I know they are bullshit rules? Cause this ain’t my first rodeo. Don’t worry, I think the rules in my house are bullshit too. They are all weird and arbitrary. They are made to suit the moods of whichever asshole in the vicinity is loudest.

I know.

I used to know a man who liked to say, “I’m the only psycho in this relationship” or maybe he said he was the only one who gets to be crazy? I may be misremembering. I’ll cop to that.

I need to be the biggest asshole in the space I’m in. So Noah is an asshole, but I know that I’m much more likely to be the one to bulldoze than him.

It works for us. Picture a heart emoji here, but I have technically banned them so this will have to do.

He doesn’t think I’m an asshole. That’s part of why this works. I think we are both assholes and I’m just a bigger one. But he’s all mellow and tolerant so it works out. Do you however you need to, ok?

I’m going to be kinda passive aggressive here and say: if you are one of Noah’s friends… this is a great time to ask him to go out some time. He needs to talk. To more people than just me right now cause life is like that sometimes.

I can’t fill his tank as much as he needs me to right now. Because I’m dealing with the remodel and and and. His job is kinda hard.

I need to go beat the shit out of people. I don’t know what he needs. But right now, he’s wilting like a flower and that’s a serious bummer. I don’t know what it is that is missing right now, but clearly all the right nutrients aren’t in place.

This is the kind of micromanaging, paying attention that I want in my life. It is why I appreciate the people who have stuck with me and really got to know me so much. Because I’m more pushy like this by the year. Because people do it more with me. It’s a careful balance. How much controlling and influencing other people should we do?

I really don’t know where those boundaries ought to be. I’m not pulling up Noah’s email account and making plans for him. That’s over the line.

Where is the line?

Everyone is different. I want you to get to be who you need to be. I want to figure out who I need to be and I want to just do the shit out of it.

This feels like baby steps towards self love, doesn’t it? This morning feels good. I have to say that these piles of tile are inspiring. I may be jaunting off to get more sparkly tiles today. I’m really excited about the snow wall. I want to build that first because I have so much white and it would be nice to get it mostly used up and out of the way so I see how much I need to still buy in terms of tile for the rest of the bathroom. I really can’t tell yet.

It depends on how high up the walls I want to go, right? We’ll see!

Youngest child’s half bathroom is spring. Other half bathroom is summer. The bathing room is going to have autumn and winter. I can’t wait to look at the sparkly snow while I take baths in candle light at night. That will be so beautiful.

I’m serious my friends, if you want to come take a bath… let me know.

I’m thinking hard about how I want to make the tree of life that will climb up the wall over the bath tub. I need to look at more pictures. That will probably be that last bit I design because much of it might be painted, I haven’t decided.

I know that “traditionally speaking” you want flat walls. I’m not going to have flat walls with perfectly level tile. It’s going to be pretty rough and it will be on purpose and structured and artistic. I think it will work.

Oh please God let this work cause this puppy is going to be expensive if I fuck up.

Go big or go home, bitch.

Oh goodness what did I get myself into?!

Have I told you that the floor will have a stone path lined with green tiles to look like grass?

I’m having SOOOOOOOOOO MUCH FUN.

If only the roof weren’t uhm, being tricky. We are still negotiating. I’m blathering on Twitter but I won’t rehash it here. Just… gotta keep walking on. I’m trying to not be angry. At this point all of the guys in the company have apologized for making decisions without me when clearly they made the wrong choice at a critical juncture. I had preferences and they didn’t ask. Even though I’ve told them over and over and over I want to be asked.

Ok. Trying to move on. Have to get this shit finished. If it’s beautiful… I will still write positive reviews with caveats about how I had to be fierce in advocating for myself.

I made it very clear that from here on out the crew was not to dump their lunch garbage all over and leave it here for weeks. Saw blades are all over the ground and that’s not cool. My lawyer was at this meeting. I should stop talking about it for all kinds of reasons.

I wanted to write something down here for documenting purposes. Instead, I hit cut’n’paste and sent it to my lawyer.

That seems smart just now.

Past self, you picked this woman out based on proximity and hope. Well done!

Today will be a good day, I think. I hope. I believe. Oh yeah, a friend asked if she could come over to dinner. I should tell Noah. Ha. Surprise. We have six people coming over for dinner.

Roll with it. Life flows like that. If people ask to come over for dinner the next night and I have no plans…. I’m weak. I have no willpower for that kind of rejection. Because you hit my sweet spot. Basically no output of energy and lots of input of attention. Yeah, you can do that. Sounds awesome. I have to cook anyway. Don’t worry. I always have enough food around.

You never know who might be coming to dinner.

 

Hosting is always a learning experience.

I understand that the below bit sounds a little ranty. It is not actually something that ruined my day or anything. It was a really excellent party. It was lovely to see everyone. 35 people came which means we lost about 10% of the RSVP list and far exceeded my catty assumption. Ok, I’ll be less suspicious next time.

I had great verbal exchanges with every single party guest I think; I managed at least a sentence or two. The kids got along pretty well once we instituted the “only soft swords” rule. (Err, technically another mom was there and did it. Thanks!) Much candy was consumed by all. We have very little left and most of what we have left was delivered by a neighbor as an auxiliary present. We have tasty leftovers for days. I’m thrilled. The house was entirely cleaned up by 2:30. Well… there is one more load to go through the dishwasher. But that’s it.

All told I think I spent about sixty hours on this event. Shopping, cleaning, more cleaning, more fucking cleaning, gardening, food prep, egg prep, decorating, etc. When we are going to have a party that is the time when I go through and actually clean off all the surfaces because usually they are piled high with shit. I do this for two reasons:

  1. If people walk into a clean house then they try to clean up after themselves because it is obvious that they have made a change in the environment.
  2. People are less likely to break things. I don’t know why this is true but I’ve tried experiments.

All that extra cleaning is pretty hard work. Even just filling the fucking eggs. That took like three hours while I sat and watched The West Wing. Again. They are starting to feel more like my friends than any of my friends. I think there might be something kind of wrong with me.

Some of the things I learned for next year: the hunt is only for kids ten and under. I have feelings. I am not angry about anything, but I want to have a different outcome to a particular situation.

I spent a lot of money on toys for the eggs. Probably actually more than I should have. I bought a bunch of My Little Pony figurines because all the kids are really into them. I divvied them out into eggs knowing that I would *have to be ok* with the possible outcome of most/all of the toys going to one or two kids and everyone else getting none. Including my kids getting none.

Yup, my kids got none. That’s fine. We don’t exactly need more shit. I’m pretty happy that the only “things” they came through Easter getting are some bubble wands they will break in two weeks, a lunch pail, handle bar streamers, and two small stuffed animals. Sweet. The nice great aunt who usually sends them so much shit I can’t count it all went light this year.

But I’m having some feelings about the big kids who don’t actually play with my kids getting all the toys so they can bring them to school and share them with their friends there.

I didn’t intend to donate a bunch of toys to middle schoolers I don’t know.

I’m having feelings. I feel kind of like I did something for my community of kids I know and have relationships with and… this kid I only kind of know decided that it should instead go to this outside community. It’s not the kid’s fault that we don’t know each other very well. I sort of feel like I am punishing and I don’t mean it that way. If this kid wanted to come to the party next year and be a big kid helper I would be thrilled. It isn’t that this persons presence is a problem.

Feelings.

I could solve this by not buying toys next year but I don’t think that is the solution. I think the solution is saying that the hunt is for kids ten and under. Even if it was one of our six year old friends who got them all to take home I think I would feel differently.

The toys would probably be things that my kids could go and visit and play with that way even though my kids didn’t “get” them. I’d be throwing a line out into the community and creating a path for more friendship and play.

Instead someone we don’t really see much and who doesn’t play with my kids much will go give them away at school.

I have feelings.

Kids ten and under. Kids over ten can buy their own damn toys.

No one did a darn thing wrong. I didn’t realize that I had this underlying need/hope thing about the toys. That was my mistake for not knowing in advance what kind situation I was trying to create.

I *don’t* want to shun older kids (especially not the kid in question) but life moves in stages. There are things you do at some ages that you stop doing at other ages. That doesn’t have to be a mean, terrible punishment. Maybe I could figure out some kind of big kid alternative activity for next year.

Actually, that would be awesome. I bet I could come up with something that would be more interesting than just walking around picking up eggs from the middle of the grass.

don’t want to punish. But sometimes I do something with a really specific goal in mind and once I understand what that goal is then I want to work towards it as much as I can.

There is a place for big kids in our house and at our parties and in our lives. But they do different things. We have enough up and coming babies that I think that having a slower paced hunt where the little kids don’t have to run to find stuff… would be more what I’m looking for.

I’ll have to think about what the big kids could do. Luckily I have a year to plan.

I am really enjoying throwing an Easter party every year. Every other forking holiday is already solidly overbooked for everyone in my life. I’m camping on Easter in a totally-non-Christian way. This is about the American holiday “Easter” rather than Christian beliefs and it is kind of interesting to see how that is shaping out.

Atheism is kinda weird, yo. Not that our kids are atheists. Shanna is very firm that she believes in God. All of them. You just need to call on the right one for that day. I love my kid so much.

Go find the ally you need today. You won’t always have the same needs. You will change. Your needs will change. Some people will be good at taking care of you under some circumstances and really bad at taking care of you in other circumstances. Life is about finding balance.

I started working at 4:30 this morning. I stopped at 2:30, Then I sat down to type for an hour. I’m tired. My arms hurt. The rest of me feels better than it has in ages because Tay the magnificent was here. Best fucking massages ever. I am a lucky person in so many ways. Tired. Go flop now.

Easter morning

Kids will start arriving in five hours. I feel pretty ready. I counted the eggs. I do, technically, have 300 but 15 of them are out of general circulation because I turned them into games. I can live with that.

I’m putting 100 in the front, 100 in the back, and 85 in the house.

Big kids will be told they musn’t look lower than their waists. There are plenty of high up eggs and then some. You can only pick low lying fruit after the little kids give up. There is plenty of candy. If you get zero candy from eggs, go take some off the table. I have enough to cause comas in at least ten kids. Hopefully spread out among 20 kids and 20 + adults it will just lead to stomach aches. Or people will be smart and take most of their share home to savor over multiple days. We’ll see.

Other people are bringing most of the real food. Thank you all. I’m so glad someone is a responsible adult around here. Yay!

It should be a lot of fun. The house is ready. I have ~30 minutes of decorating to do once the sun is up. You can’t put crepe paper outside before the day you want it. I learned that the hard way.

I’m sending Noah and the kids to the farmers market so that I can stay home and hide eggs and finish the clean up. I will assemble the fruit and vegetables we have in the house while they are gone and Noah will finish the food set up when he gets back. By that point I will be on the driveway trying to corral a growing horde of children. It will be fun. I’m going to put the giant chess set out there and chalk. I can keep them entertained for at least 15 minutes. I will probably also get the kids to chant the guidelines in a group. That way they won’t break things. “The top shelf of EVERY BOOK CASE is off limits to kids.” “Big kids look for eggs above their waist.” “No eggs in the bedrooms or pantry or bathroom.”

As of this moment I have had 45 people say they are coming. Want to make bets on it being closer to 20 people? People like to change their minds at the last minute.

Either way it will be fun.

The preparation for parties is hard. Yesterday I was grumpy. I yelled three times. Four? Maybe a fourth. Once when Shanna was hitting me with a balloon and accidentally knocked over something breakable. I yelled to get out of the kitchen. Not great.

I wasn’t even that *mad*. I just screamed it. I had been in the process of asking her nicely to take the balloon out of the kitchen and then there was a loud noise then broken glass then… I screamed. Get Out Of The Kitchen.

When I was cleaning up their stuff and sorting things into piles to be put away properly Shanna came over and spread all the piles out and started recombining them because she was making an “art gallery”. When I noticed I yelled at her to get away from my piles. That’s not nice. I could have asked.

I don’t feel like I had a lot of “ask nicely” left. The kids have fought me really hard on every step of party prep this time. When I say, “Please pick up x” instead they go dump the whole box that x goes in and leave that in the middle of the floor.

I don’t think I’m up for more parties this year if this is how they are going. I’m not going to fight the kids tooth and nail so they can have birthday parties. That sounds hellish.

Lately we are having a hard time with them believing they should not ever have to do anything. I understand this is a common belief and all but I don’t share it and I kind of don’t like people who have it. I know lots of grown ups who think it is fine to not do anything. I am not nice to them.

Entitlement is a real issue for me. I am not here to serve you.

I am being strict but I don’t think I’m being completely unreasonable. I’m not making them clean up stuff that is my mess. I want them to pick up their toys and empty the dishwasher and set the table. If that is too much to ask then I think that I am all of a sudden out of energy to cart you around to do every fucking thing you want.

I just…

I don’t know if I am being a petty asshole or if I am setting appropriate boundaries. I don’t make them pick up every single toy every single day. I do ask that they keep the main walkways clear because I don’t appreciate hurting myself just because they wanted to dump out a tub of Lego’s and walk away. Not cool.

I’ve screamed a lot this week. Way up from average. But I feel more pressure to clean up the house. And when I feel more pressure to clean up the house and the kids consciously go on a destruction binge…

I don’t know how this should be handled. But maybe Step A is that if I am going to be fought every step of the way for parties we won’t have them. I’m not up for battles like this. It’s shitty and no fun and stressful and it does a lot of damage to our relationships.

I can’t do all the work with a smile on my face while I am also tripping over the stuff I have asked you 1,362 times to clean up because it is hurting me and you haven’t played with it in three days anyway.

I get mad. Very mad. I hate you and don’t want to be in a room with you because I am afraid I will lose control and do something I will regret.

I regret yelling. I don’t want it to escalate. I can live with some regrettable yelling. That’s not going to convince me I’m a shitty parent who should die.

I don’t call them names. I don’t say things that attack their character. No matter how angry I am I stop to clarify. “I love *you* but right now I am very angry about the way you are behaving. Your behavior is not working for me.”

And when we are not stressed we talk about the whole “sometimes your behavior won’t work for people and you will have to decide how much you care. Sometimes it is expedient (yes I defined it for her) to conform and do what people want and sometimes you have to harden your heart and do what you know is right.”

Life is complicated.

Mostly we get along so well I feel like the fact that we usually get along so well handicaps me for handling it when we are in discord.

Last night as we were going to sleep Calli stroked my face and said, “Mommy, sometimes when you get mad you are SO FIERCE. I like it. It makes me feel safe.”

That kind of statement both comforts me and scares the shit out of me. Am I training them to be attracted to intense, violent, angry people? Oh that’ll go well.

Sometimes it is really hard to know if I am doing right. I don’t want them to believe that it is ok for people to scream at them. We talk a lot about how it ISN’T OK EVER for someone to scream at you. Sometimes it happens anyway because bad things happen to everyone. You can either internalize it as a sign that you deserve such treatment or you can think, “Wow they are having a bad day.”

You can’t do anything to deserve people treating you badly. Them treating you badly is about them.

Sometimes that is hard. Sometimes the only thing you can do is get away from the person. That is so very hard.

But that’s not true. There are things you can do. You can ask for boundaries. You can ask for concessions. You can state what you need and you can leave if you don’t get it.

You have lots of options.

When I’m getting too nasty my kids stop me and say, “Mom I think your tone of voice is way more fierce than you mean it to be. I feel scared.”

I stop and hug them and apologize for scaring them.

I am a very fierce person.

Is it ok to be fierce and a mother? I’m not sure I have a point at this time. I will never be one of the gentle ones. I will always be one of the loud, scary, aggressive ones. I will always be one of the ones who startles you and challenges you and makes you think about why you are doing what you are doing. I don’t take excuses well.

You did what you did and now take the consequences. I’m not going to make this easier on you. Sometimes consequences suck ass. I’ve received a lot of them. I know very well how much it can suck to be held accountable for your behavior. But that’s the way the world works.

Shalyndra–you are right that people in a social setting penalize women for displays of aggression more than men. We are silenced. We are told that it is unseemly for us to be so angry or difficult or nasty. The men are encouraged to be manly. (insert grunting noise)

But when it comes to things that sound like *threats* women are given a pass. People do not believe they are capable of “true” violence. Men are told that their random jokes are threatening and that they must now be punished.

It occurred to me while I was running yesterday–this situation is kind of like the BMI.

Individual women want to punish individual men for the reality that statistics say men commit more crime. Whether or not that man is a criminal.

Women are given a pass on being believed as violent–we are shushed and told just to calm down now, we know we couldn’t do anything violent anyway. Women aren’t that way.

The BMI is applied to individuals without regard to individual factors. Many people in the obese category are far more healthy than people in the thin category and yet… stigma.

Us/them. The enemy.

Noah told me he doesn’t know how things will ever change as long as us loud yelling women on the internet think of him as the enemy.

I went running with another angry woman. (I hope that description doesn’t bother you. You aren’t “always” angry. But you can do the angry woman stuff.) I told her what Noah said. She said, “He engages in behavior that reinforces the status quo. He doesn’t want to give up what he has so that someone else can have a more fair share. That means he is the enemy.”

Wars start over resources. At this point the United States is going through one of the harshest equality differences we’ve seen.

Is Noah is the enemy? Sometimes I think so. Sometimes I understand that he is just a symbol and *he* is not at all my enemy. But he’s done bad things.

He hasn’t done anything that is worse than things I’ve done. Not even close. So if he is the enemy… am I?

Monsters, monsters everywhere and not a one to beat.

Caved.

I sat down yesterday at my computer intending to buy three tickets to Texas for December. I said to Shanna, “You understand that I’m not going, right?”

Her eyes got as wide as saucers. “But you have to go. I can’t go meet new people without you. When I am talking to people I don’t know well and you are there I am brave because I know I am wonderful. When you aren’t there I am scared and I can’t do it. I need you.”

“If I went with you to Texas and I stayed in the hotel with you but you had to go to your grandmothers house with just your dad and sister would that be good enough?”

“Yes. That would be good enough.”

I’m going to Texas in three months, apparently.

I’m fucking serious about not setting foot inside that woman’s house again. Maybe I will go visit the great grandmother or great aunt instead. Or I will sit inside a fucking Starbuck’s.

I can be nice in letters–I think I am very fucking nice in the letters I send. I sent five to seven page letters about the kids a few times a year. I’m all neutral but upbeat and such.

I want my kids to know them. I want my kids to have a family. But I’m aware that they will never be my family. Such is life.

The whole rest of the year is travel heavy. So much for a save year. My end of the year reckoning on Mint is going to involve some head hanging with shame. It’s a good thing Noah is earning money at a faster rate than planned for. I’m not making every savings goal. But I do have a god damn fabulous back yard now. It’s a trade off.

We leave on Monday for Disneyland. It will be me and my girls. We will have fun together. Since Calli’s birthday Shanna has been drawing me picture after picture because she wants to decorate for my birthday. I think I will bring a stack of them and scotch tape and put them up on the windows in our hotel room. I am so fucking glad I get to be their mom.

I haven’t been sleeping well. Lots of mom stuff. The last three nights have been pretty bad. It’s lead up to my birthday so I’m not surprised. Six days and counting. I think that knowing that I will be alone with the kids is both helping and hurting. On one hand, I feel sad. But I don’t have the anticipation of waking up in my house with having it just be one more shitty day when I should do laundry and scrub the floor. (Not that my days are shitty–I like my life and I like my job. But man I’ve got this birthday thing.)

I don’t give very many birthday presents any more. I want to spend time with people on their birthdays (or near their birthdays) but gifts aren’t the thing. Only if I find something that seems talisman-like. That’s hard to just decide to find.

I have things scattered throughout my house. Talismans. I’m loved. I should keep writing. People want to know what I am thinking.

Connection. Multiplicity. Embrace plurality. So many things to think about. How to not be scary.

I feel like over the last year or so I have had to realize that all of those hours I spent during my childhood practicing my “scary” expressions worked. Becoming non-intimidating is taking a lot of conscious work.

I feel like I am walking this razor thin line. If I am intimidating then I run off the people I want to love. If I am not intimidating… well I know how that goes.

Better to be undefended and on the verge of death at any moment. That makes people like you more. Then you aren’t scary.

Maybe being scary is just one of those important parts of life. I’m pretty sure my kids aren’t actually afraid of me. When I ask them they emphatically say they aren’t scared. Shanna says, “Sometimes you startle me. But that’s not the same thing.” But I am scary to other people. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen the fear.

Speaking of fear, I bought a bicycle. One that can have a kid trailer thing on the back. First I need to take Shanna out on her bike. After she feels comfortable riding then we will get the trailer for Calli. The bike store fellas told me I can’t have a kid being pulled and a kid on my handle-bars. Just one or the other. Bah humbug. I bet it would have worked two years ago. They are a lot heavier now. I went on a five and a half mile bike ride. I haven’t done that since high school. I only felt like I was going to die for 75% of the time. Hopefully that goes down.

People in my family get hit by cars while on bicycles. It happened to both of my brothers and my dad. My mom and sister were smart enough to stay off of fucking bikes. Now I’m stupid. And risking my kids. Oh god.

September and October are probably as fully booked as I want them. November is probably already as booked as I want it. In December we will be out of state for nine days. I will probably not do very much other than travel in December. If I don’t decorate for Christmas in November I won’t do much beyond a tree. So realistically I have the next three and a half months scheduled. I won’t be bored. I have a lot to do.

It’s time to write Outrunning Suicide. I want it done before New Years. I have a rainbow castle to paint. (This sucker is huge.) I have to install a bunch of hardware for the swings in the back yard.

Not to mention educating my children. That is probably enough to do for the next three months.

Disneyland, two camping trips, over a week in Portland and a weekend in Texas. So much for 2013 being a light year.

I can’t go to Disneyland next year. (No time share points) I think the only traveling I want to do in 2014 is a half marathon in Portland with two of my very favorite ladies in the whole wide world. I hear I already have buy-in from the spouse of the one who will have to travel. This is a good sign.

I’m wussing towards encouraging the home schoolers who live within five miles of me to start thinking along the lines of a Free Democratic School. Driving is a real issue for everyone in the bay area. Having to drive 40-50 miles round trip in order to hang out for a few hours is prohibitive on a long-term basis. If you look at history a lot of who people know is based on who lives near them. It isn’t about “who is best“. Life is about making the best of who is there.

I think that part of the reason I am doing the stuff to my house that I am doing is because I think of future parties and events. I am not good at going out into the world. I am not good at feeling like the world wants me very much. If I make this a good place to be, people will come to me. That is just the nature of how things work. I feel like a spider spinning a web. Err…only I don’t want to eat anyone.

I want to know lots of kids and watch them grow up. I want to have them love visiting my house. So I build a playground. And I paint murals. And I provide endless quantities of fruit, vegetables, and cheese. I only rarely make guests eat ramen.

The part that makes me feel like a spider is how I know that I have to sit and wait. I’m not actually ready for the kinds of relationships I want to have with growing up kids. I don’t mean that my house isn’t ready–though it isn’t. If I went and grabbed people now and tried to fill my house with people… well… my kids would rapidly learn a lot of things I don’t want them to know. My kids are not yet ready to have their reality fucked with.

I’m fairly aware that I go through life with a big reality distortion bubble around me. (I think everyone does to a greater or lesser extent–you see the world from your point of view and not from an objective point of view.) Right now I am carefully crafting the reality my children will have as “baseline” for the rest of their lives. Based on everything I have read about child development and psychology this is important.

Most people don’t seem to think about this much. They just live their life and their kids share it and that is how reality is created thankyouverymuch. My childhood had no consistent reality. I moved more than fifty times. I got to see that every “reality”, every set of rules that people lived by were totally arbitrary.

That means that if I want to I can sit down and make up the rules for reality for my children in any fashion I want. There is no right way. I personally believe there are a lot of wrong ways but not any particular right way. What is right is so individual based on personality and inner strengths.

How I behave with my children is a carefully constructed little universe that isn’t a lot like how I am with the rest of the world. How I am with my children is how I am without defenses and without fear. I do not have the ability to extend that beyond my front door at this point in time.

I feel so lucky that I get to be alone with them so much. I feel so glad that we get to spend a lot of time in an environment where I set the rules. Pam says I am a permissive authoritarian. I think that will shift a lot with time. After a while it won’t be my place to set the rules with such fierceness.

Only I think in some ways I will get much more fierce. I told Shanna flat out one day when she was being very rough with me, “This is not an acceptable way to treat my body. If you continue to treat me this way as you get bigger I will eventually start hitting back. I am not your punching bag.” She stopped hitting me. She hasn’t tried to punch me over and over since.

I have no idea how this will go over the years.

I want my children to believe in the core of their body that they have the right to beat the living shit out of someone who crosses their physical boundaries. I want this to not be a question in their mind. It is just simple fact. We are animals and sometimes we have to defend ourselves. Yup. That’s part of how it works in the world.

But here in Wonderland we don’t hit. We don’t scream. This is a safe place. The violence needs to stay out there in the world. We do not hit our family members. Well, until they are clearly beating on you then go ahead and defend yourself. It needs to take a lot of provocation though. Don’t. Hurt. Your. Family. We are in this together.

I make a big deal out of this being a conscious creation because this is not like anything I have ever known. I was taught to expect people to hurt me. I was taught to hit people as a sign of affection. I was taught that the way to make yourself feel bigger is to hurt the people around you as much as possible.

It is hard for me to change. It takes so much conscious effort. But my children show me the fruits of my labor every day. It is worth it. They are worth it. This life is worth it.

I think about my mother a lot. I think about what she taught me and how she taught me. And sometimes when Calli moves her head just right I see my mother so clearly it is like she is in the room. I have no idea how this will all go.

In medias res. We are always in the middle of the story. There is no beginning and no end. My children have to go to Texas. That is part of their story. I get to choose how much disappointment mom delivers when. I will never be enough to meet all of their needs. That just isn’t how life works. But I have choices about how many needs I meet and when and which particular things I want to skip.

I have so. much. privilege.

All I’m doing right now with my life is hanging out and being available to meet their needs. This is surprisingly exhausting. And sometimes I pick up a side job or two. Mostly if I am not available to meet a need of theirs it is because I bloody well choose to not do it right now.

I sent Shanna to Texas once without me. Sending both seems different. And Shanna is a lot more sure she wants me to go. Some day she will want to do things I will not be up for doing. Then she will go without me. I can understand her wanting to stand near my reality distortion field. I am what she has always known and I have been really good to her. Other people are less predictable. She has figured that out already. I am always ready to smile at her. Other people… not always.

I will focus on this hurting me in my writing though. This is a choice. I’m not a victim here. But I’m making a choice that is questionably right for me. I don’t feel very good about having a relationship with Noah’s abusive mother after walking out on my abusive mother. I don’t know how to describe the kind of betrayal that represents.

My sister told me over and over and over “Abused children are the most loyal.” She said that consciously to tell me not to talk about what I saw in our house. I broke ranks. I broke fucking ranks. I can’t now go silently put up with someone else’s abuse. That’s just not ok. No. I’d rather punch the fucking bitch in the face. And it’s not really cool to fly from California to Texas in order to punch your mother in law in the face so I just won’t set foot in her house. I understand my triggering mechanism. I’m rather realistic all things considered.

“Just be nice” isn’t useful advice for me. Part of the reason that I don’t want to go is I know I have a rather lot of latent rage and she’s a nice safe not actually threatening target who likes to act like people are kicking her all the time. I’ve met me. If you stand in front of me and whine and cringe and cower as if I have been kicking you for hours… I will start kicking you. I understand this impulse only too well. I try to avoid kicked dogs for this reason. My experience of Noah’s mom is that she is a kicked dog.

I am a kicked dog. That is how I went through my childhood. I recognize it very well in others. Being a kicked dog is part and parcel with being a bully. You assume that people are mean to you so you push them towards being mean to you–you antagonize on purpose. Kicked dogs are the meanest little curs.

It’s a vicious cycle. I try to stay out of vicious cycles these days. I try very hard to stay in virtuous cycles.

A virtuous cycle, for the purpose of this essay, is one in which my positive behavior towards a person is rewarded by positive behavior and so on. I believe that kicked dogs need love too but they usually can’t get it from one another. They need to go find someone who isn’t a kicked dog, best if it is someone who is kind of bewildered by the experience, who will react in non-patterned ways.

Patterns are the problem. Patterns are how it keeps going. Vicious cycles. If you snap at someone and they snap back then it goes from there. If you snap at someone and they blink at you and say, “Are you ok?” well… that’s just not a similar sort of pattern. If you snap back it is obvious that you are a fucking asshole and that’s not good. Don’t do that.

Virtuous cycles involve people who are able to look at you and say, “You are having feelings. They are not about me. Would you like to talk about them?” Vicious cycles are more like, “You are clearly having feelings ALL ABOUT ME AND NOW I AM GOING TO YELL AT YOU ABOUT THEM.” Well, other people have other vicious cycles. But the ones I’m thinking about right this minute are like that. There are lots of other cycles. Don’t mistake me here as being the source of information about vicious cycles. Oh man.

I am home schooling my kids so that as they go through life they always have someone standing near them who will smile back. In my lofty experience there is always someone in the world who will smile back. Even if you happen to not be standing near that person right now. It is hard for me to keep faith in that belief sometimes. For most of my life it has been just a faith not unlike most peoples faith in G-d. Someone will smile back.

A while back I read some article about “computer face”. If you turn on peoples cameras secretly they all have the same slack jawed expression. I very consciously work on smiling the majority of the time. I try hard to have my muscles assume that position by default.

I have very deep grief lines. I turn thirty-two next week. If I am not careful I will be a very stern and unapproachable and lonely old woman. I know this to be true. If I want to have my future be the way I want it to be I will have to work hard on every aspect of my character. It feels so daunting.

I had children so I would have a permanent motivating force to change and get better. So I’m going to fucking Texas. I’m not going in the house. My reality distortion field is big enough to extend that far. Yes, Shanna. I will go so you know you are wonderful.

In the end, she won’t remember it much. I’m only kind of sort of doing this for her. I’m doing this so that I know I made all of the choices about creating space between us for reasons I feel ok about.

Recently I was talking to a mother who was not feeling happy about her day care experience in one relatively confined way. Mostly she was satisfied so she said, “I just had to decide that when you are paying someone you have to accept that they are doing their best and let it go.”

That, in a nut shell, is why I cannot put my kids in day care. I would do it if I had no choice and I had to work because I needed the money. But that is why I have made the choice to stay home. (That and ridiculous financial privilege, let’s be clear here.) I don’t want to just put up with the best that someone else feels like giving me.

I need to know that when they are eighteen and I send them off into the world (really I doubt it will be that long) I need to know that my kids have had all of the experiences they need to have in order to be competent at handling themselves. I can’t live with trusting someone else to “do their best”. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. I’m glad that other people have such loving trust. I think it is quite healthy.

I don’t know anyone I trust enough to have the charge of my kids like that.

I trust the Godmamas enough that I send my kids there unsupervised and I have legal documentation saying they are the next of kin. But I still don’t want them setting reality for my kids. I love them and I want their influence… but as an add on or in case of critical system failure. Err, I’ll be a dick and say I think that I will do better. But they will be getting traumatized kids and I can’t think of anyone in the world I would trust more to adequately and lovingly raise traumatized children who started out being raised by me. They will be the most gentle adjustment to not-Krissy reality of anyone in the world. So I don’t pick them to be like me. I pick them to love the results of being like me. It’s kind of a different metric.

But geezus on toast I don’t want someone else teaching my kid how to be a kid for eight hours a day. I don’t want my daughters going through life not sure if someone will smile back.

There are a lot of gifts I can’t give them. I don’t mean financially–I mean in terms of spirit and family and community and sense of place. I can give them Wonderland. Where they are wonderful to me. We do go out into the world lots. And they are doing more and more things away from me.

I’m going to Texas because I had to rock myself to sleep crying for my mother too many times. I need to be there. Just in case. She won’t always be little. I won’t fucking do this for a twenty-five year old I shit you not. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t do it for a fifteen year old. This trip will hurt me. This trip will hurt a lot. This trip has the high potential to be miserable. I have to go through airport security. I probably should not fly with pot. Alcohol makes my stomach hurt and that makes my temper shorter. I do have trusty-dusty Lorazepam! I will have to cut the pills up substantially more to take them during the day. I take 1mg at night and that knocks me straight out. (Not every night. Thirty pills lasts me for four to five months.)

Texas really hasn’t been good to me. I don’t like going there. I must like these kids a whole lot. It won’t be very long. I will be there for moral support. I will read a book. Maybe five. Maybe I will spend a lot of quality time in coffee shops writing Outrunning. That would be kind of funny. Not ha ha funny. Just funny.

Time for breakfast. I have missed you, internet. I shouldn’t make a habit of this for a while. The book is going to eat my hands.

Off-schedule freak out.

It is very rare for me to wake up at midnight freaked out. I usually make it to 4am before I wake up and start feeling anxiety. I went to bed with abdominal discomfort. I woke up with more. It’s obviously not just carbonated beverages.

For some reason when I woke up this time I started thinking about Thanksgiving. I kind of spend most of my life planning for the future. I think I will make it up to Portland this year for Thanksgiving because I want the kids to see Dad’s house this year. I want my kids to get to know him.

Then I leap-frogged to thinking about the Amanda Fucking Palmer concert on the 7th of December. I will probably drive south on the 6th of December. I am hopefully going to not do that drive alone.

December 6th is my mother’s birthday. She will be 63 this year.

I feel so bad for missing my mother. All of this separation is my fault. But I do miss her. I miss her so much that sometimes I feel like I cannot breathe. Thank goodness my kids don’t ask about her much.

I’ve been thinking about my mom and crying on and off for a few days. Do I want to be a stay at home mom so much because she was? I want to prove that one can do what she did *and* keep children safe at the same time.

I feel so needy and pathetic.

I am considering NaNoWriMo. Apparently if you want to participate in the mid-month Night of Writing Dangerously (more or less a mid-month party to help you catch up on word count) you aren’t supposed to just buy a ticket. You are supposed to ask for sponsorships. I’m not sure if I have the courage for that. This may actually keep me out of NaNoWriMo this year. Because the party sounds fun and if I’m not allowed to just decide to go I won’t go. If I have to ask other people if I can get to do it… I just won’t. There are too many people and things in this world much more important than this. I’m not going to ask anyone to fund my hobbies.

I don’t know how to live with this lack of feeling deserving.

Mostly what I am doing is changing my house and yard. I don’t get to control much in this life. I get to control what my environment is like. I know I don’t deserve much but I have the ability to do this anyway.

Hide. Refocus energy. I don’t have to deserve something in order to get it. I don’t necessarily avoid the things I don’t deserve. It all seems so random.

I think I work so hard because I wish that I could share it with my family. I wish my mother knew how hard I work. I wish my mother was proud of me. I wish my sister bragged about me. I do a lot of stuff. I’m pretty neat. Instead they hate me and deride me.

Just keep breathing.  Just keep walking.

I try as hard as I can to not get my hopes up that something, anything, will ever make me feel “better”. I don’t do things “to make me happy”. I don’t think I can make me happy. I don’t think that improving my backyard will “make me happy” but I certainly hide grief in activity.

It’s a lot more comfortable to think about hanging plants and rope lights. It’s a lot more fun to think of ground-cover plants that will make my feet more comfy. It’s a LOT more fun to think of swinging outside and watching my garden grow. I really like thinking about having parties and watching hordes of children run back and forth.

I like imagining that I won’t always be alone in my space. I like imagining that maybe me and my house will be so fun to visit that I won’t have to spend my life alone. It’s a dream.

Heck, I’m not alone now. I have the usual three people sleeping and a guest. I’m not alone now. I just feel alone. I feel unworthy of love.

Hopefully I will get back to sleep soon. Thursday involves a trip to the zoo and painting. Must paint. Eleven hours in. So far to go. The month is more than half over. I need this task off my list. There is too much anxiety associated with this project.

When my friend’s husband finishes his list of AWESOME things to do I will need to take a break and not spend more money on the house this year. That’s not great because the bathroom is in dire straights. I will probably try to schedule that remodel next year. I know it is becoming urgent but I want to expand the front of the house anyway. I don’t think it will matter that much that the wall has to be ripped out. That will be done no matter what. Yet I can’t wait until the damage causes my time frame to be tomorrow. Then it will be more expensive.

Distraction is awesome and terrible.

Is it distraction or is it just not allowing my general sense of self-worth define what I am allowed to hope for? I’m not sure.

Not sleeping well.

I don’t sleep much while it is hot. My err internals are unhappy. I worked on a book for a while this morning. *pat self on back* Now if I can just keep this up I might be more than a one hit wonder. Not that my book was a hit. You know what I mean.

I’m kind of tired and mellow feeling. It is actually nice. Noah is going to take Shanna to camp today (she said please and all) so I will be at the nursery at 8:30 when it opens. A friend asked to come over and garden with me today. I can barely contain my squee. We will be weeding and mulching and such. (Yes, Pam I saw your note about “just use cardboard.” All of the cardboard on my property is still in good shape and the kids play with the boxes.)

I absolutely HAVE to work on the fence today. No excuses! I was productive all of yesterday… just not on the fence. This is going to be difficult to force myself to do. I can tell. I’m terrified of fucking up and having people make fun of me or hate me. Oh well. Keep working.

This morning I was foolish and I read some of that nasty anti-home schooling stuff. Oh boy are some people pissed off about even the *idea* of home schooling. Has someone tried to force you into something? Is there a reason you are SO ANGRY with people who make this choice? No? Ok then.

I get the logic that putting my kids in school would be better for the other kids in the school because then I would be forced to be involved with the school and I would make it better for not just my kids. I absolutely agree with every step in that process.

I just can’t get onboard with the part where I am supposed to throw my kids under a bus because it would be better for someone else. My experiences of public school have been bad. Not just for me as a student, but as a teacher and as a person in the credential program.

I won’t force my kids to be part of that system. I don’t believe it is healthy for our species to be forced to sit in chairs for 6+ hours/day while quietly listening to someone else. Nope. Not what we are meant to do this lifetime.

I understand that this is a privileged position. I believe that I am stinking with privilege. I have choices that many people can’t even dream of. I think that is positive and I am not going to give up my choices just because they aren’t available to everyone.

I don’t see 5 star restaurants going to a McDonald’s level of pricing (and food quality) just so that it is faaaaaaiiiiiiiiirrrrrrrr to everyone involved.

Life isn’t fair. At all. Ever. There is no fair.

That said, I am pretty happy that Noah’s obscene raise came with a much lower than expected amount of money. Ahhh skipping tax brackets. That’s ok. We don’t actually need all of the money. It’s ok that it is being used for services for people who need them. I feel pretty good about that.

I can give some things in some ways. I can’t necessarily give what someone wants or needs. I don’t want to be responsible. I am too selfish. I will donate money and food. I will assist with my labor when I have extra spoons and not when I don’t. I am not going to be forced to sign up for working all the god damn time for someone else’s benefit. I don’t care enough about other people.

I can say that out loud. I don’t care enough about other people to give them the time and energy I want to use on my own selfish pursuits.

Could I donate more time so that I am making other peoples lives at least slightly less awful if not better? Probably. Almost certainly. There is no shortage of suffering in the world.

Some people feel motivated to help a lot a lot of the time. That’s awesome. I’m glad you have so much to give. I don’t have it. If I try to do that I end up spending a lot of time cutting my body to remind me that I don’t matter so I don’t forget who I am supposed to be focusing on.

Cutting really is a useful tool. I think about it a lot. I think about what it does and why it is useful in the ways it is useful. Self-control is both under rated and under valued by most people. Very few people have the self-control to abruptly shift large chunks of their behavior. It is the same thing as not that many people are truly good actors. Same mechanism.

Cutting influences a lot of brain chemicals. Cutting is a dramatic shift to the body chemistry makeup. It induces calmness and a feeling of focus–tunnel vision, really. When your body is in shock it tends to shut down a lot of your nerve endings. You stop getting a lot of distracting messages from your body.

Cutting allows me to borrow spoons of self-control. I don’t really have that kind of calmness in my body without something to trigger a much-larger-than-usual grab of chemicals. Yay drugs! Due to experimentation I have learned a lot more about what my base level is vs. what is my elevated mood vs. what is my depressed mood. It’s a process.

Sometimes it is very powerful to stop and really concentrate on how powerful my brain is (your brain too; just sayin’). The brain scans they are doing these days feel like magic to me. You can see what is happening. The most magical part is you can see how people have the sheer willpower to change things.

I believe that my brain was altered by trauma. What I mean by that is I believe my brain adapted to living in an environment with a freakishly high level of stress. That is the level of stress my brain believes is necessary/appropriate to common life.

If my brain adapted to stress, how can I consciously choose to change the adaptation again? Studies show that mostly people don’t change much. It is hard. It takes will and effort and work and misery.

Being inside my brain sucks bowling balls through a hose. It isn’t fun. The difficulty of changing things is really hard to notice when stacked up to how shitty it is to live here.

I believe in magic. I believe that people make things happen when everyone else believes that it can’t. It happens all the time.

I have had the good/bad privilege of spending a lot of time with people who have experienced severe traumatic brain injuries. I have seen people survive the most horrifying accidents with terrible injuries. Their lives are forever altered. They can’t get back to being who they were.

I have no before picture I am struggling towards. That isn’t part of my story. I don’t have a base line to return to. All I have is the absolute all encompassing belief that I can change the story. I can learn how to be a good parent and I can be present through a healthy and happy childhood. This is not about a return to anything. This is about consciously choosing something different from my life.

Last night we read the part in the Little House in the Big Woods where Pa teases Laura about the kids getting only a switch in their Christmas stocking if they are bad. Shanna’s eyes went wide.

“Those parents hit those kids?”

“Yup. A long time ago people believed that if a kid did something bad the parents were required to hit the kid to teach the kid a lesson. It never worked very well.”

“Gosh I’m glad that no one has to be hit in this house.”

Me too. She cuddled up really close after that and told me that she would never hit me because I have been hit enough. I didn’t really know how to respond. I kept reading.

I’m reading my friend’s book. It is a rather fun read so far. I’m about 20% into it. He combines irreverence and history in his fabulous manner. (He intersperses national/international news events on the time lines to let people get a scope on what is happening. He said which year (I’ve already forgotten–1800’s, I think the last number is a 4 or a 6 but the decade escapes me and that is pretty important.) that Beethoven began de-composing. Similar gems are liberally sprinkled. I’ve always liked his writing. That’s why I know him in the first place. Yay for internet friends.

Why is it that I feel like I am standing still and free falling at the same time? I feel like I am not doing enough and I am terribly bored and I feel like I am doing too much and I am so overwhelmed I cannot possibly keep functioning at this rate.

I’m not balancing the marathon vs. sprint timing thing very well. I’m not actually talking about running–it’s one of those metaphor things.

Gardening has a rhythm and I am struggling to learn it. Some months of the year I need to spend 40 hours/week in the garden. Some months I spend more like 1-2 hours/week. I don’t yet feel this rhythm in my bones but it is coming. Spring is like a drug for me these days. Must move. Must plant. It is weird and primitive.

Summer is feeling different. I am a delicate and trembling flower and I wilt in the heat. More accurately I have attacks of horrifying bowel pain. I HATE SUMMER. I spend hours a day not sure if I am on the verge of spontaneously vomiting or shitting my pants because I won’t make it to the bathroom in time. It is hard to keep a schedule when I feel like this. (For the record I have only had one bathroom accident since childhood. The first day Noah went back to work after Shanna was born I had not yet learned that post-children the urgent signals are uhhh less timely and more actually urgent. Eww. Eww. Eww.)

But I have managed to go to the water park at least one day a week since it opened for week days. *pat self on back* That is a summer routine that I want to start. We only stay for an hour to an hour and a half. We might stay longer if the kids could do more swimming on their own and I had to do less work. As is I don’t have the physical ability to manage entertaining them in water for four hours. I take this as a sign that I am out of shape.

I feel like what I should do is make up a variety of different schedules–the way I did when I was teaching. Year planning was my favorite step. <3 It is like a puzzle! What do you want to do and when? How does it all fit together to make a cohesive picture of education? How do I fit in all of the standards and methods of teaching I want to hit?

I used to list: poetry, grammar, writing, reading boring analytical non-fiction, reading novels, reading short stories all as separate units. How many weeks to spend on each? How many hours in those weeks? How do I pre-test to figure out what people already know so I don’t bore the shit out of people? How do I evaluate people accurately to find out what they really learned?

If I had a dick this process would give me a hard on. It is a control thing. I like feeling like I am dotting all of my i’s and crossing all of my t’s. (I understand that in that case the apostrophe isn’t strictly appropriate but it looks bad any other way of writing it. See, this is what many years of obsessively worrying about grammar gives you. You know the rules and don’t follow them any way because the rules suck. Go English?)

I probably should get out some paper. It is easier without typing.

What are my categories now? Gardening, schooling, social activities, making food, cleaning house, money (there are a lot of once a year payments, for example, so budgeting is kind of weird), kid-separate-from-adult-time (my kids are *not* actually attached to me at the hip very consciously), reading, writing, running, hygiene (this takes time! Every Damn Day!), and I could come up with more if I tried.

They are all on slightly different schedules. Some things are scheduled and balanced on a month to month basis, some things are scheduled and balanced weekly or even daily. How do you balance all of the daily obligations against the weekly and monthly and annual?

Near as I can tell most people do more or less what their parents did because that is what they know of life. Thus I do a lot of robbing Peter to pay Paul because that is what I learned. I do it while squirreling away a lot of money which is, strangely, also what I learned.

I don’t usually mention that my father was rather well off throughout my childhood. I lived in poverty. I ate nothing but ramen and free lunch. I moved every three months because we were couch surfing and my mom couldn’t pay rent. He would tell my mom he was too poor to pay for things but he had a lot of savings. My mom just flat never had enough money to live.

Shanna sees me play with Mint a lot. She asks what it is. I talk to her about the balance of wants and needs and future savings. I tell her, “If you save money and you have a buffer then you don’t have to feel afraid when unexpected things happen. You can just shrug and move on with your life. Not having savings is one of the scariest things in life. It means you can not go out and solve the problems that come up and that is really hard.”

When I lived on $1200/month I had $3,000 in the bank at (almost) all times in a savings account I otherwise didn’t touch. My theory was that I might have to leave suddenly at some point in time and I needed a buffer. I burned through the buffer when I left my Owner. I got down to the point of my bank account only having four digits.

My friend offered me $100. He said that was his friends-need-help emergency fund. I wouldn’t let him give me money. I told him that I would make it come out ok in the end. I was right.

It is harder to deny yourself things you can afford to buy than it is to not buy things when you have no money. That has been my experience. It is harder and harder for me to save money. (In my defense the largest chunk of my spending is going to paying the mortgage off faster. I shouldn’t feel so upset with myself for not “saving” when I am spending the money on debt pay off instead of consumer spending but there you go.)

A while back I read a book, Raising the Perfect Child Through Guilt and Manipulation and whereas I am not up for adopting most of her methods or practices (I’m not taking up Catholicism nor sports) I really latched on to a few important points in the book. If you are really nice to your kids and you are interested in them and you share things with them then they will want you to like them. If they want you to like them then they will make choices that are in line with your values.

Oh man.

What are my values then? I want my kids to be interested in life and in people. Most people are good. Most people are pretty kind when given the opportunity. If someone is not kind to you, pull back first but be able to attack to defend yourself. You are worth defending. Read as much as you can–as many different kinds of things as you can. I believe that there are more things to learn than there is time in the day to learn it. I want my children to believe that their body is theirs to do with as they please–not as someone else pleases (unless it is fun and then I just don’t want details–m’kay?). I want my children to believe that work is necessary and fun. I want them to understand that different people are good at different kinds of work and that is no judgment one way or another on the people or the work. Do what you like.

I want my children to understand that they have privilege. That their ancestors have been privileged for quite some time. What does that mean about our place in the world and in history?

I check a lot of books out of the library that deal with African American issues. Seeing my little Aryan baby read, “A long time ago before you or I were born our people were enslaved” makes me wince. I told her that actually her ancestors were the slave owners. She asked if my ancestors owned slaves and I got to say no. (Yankees, more-recent-immigrants, and prostitutes for the win.) There goes white guilt in full form! But it’s true. Noah’s family owned slaves.

I find that as I get older and as I read more feminist writing I realize that if I were to fall into the most obvious trope presented to me I should hate Noah. I should hate everything he stands for and everything about him.

That is really hard to live with. I’m sure that is as hard to live with as the trope that women are just meant to be props for a man’s life.

I don’t hate Noah. I like Noah. Having the life of privilege he has had has made him one of the kindest and most considerate people I have ever had in my life. But maybe he just treats me that way because I put out. I’m only sort of kidding.

I am nice to Noah and he is nice to me and we have a whole virtuous cycle thing going on. Different people care about different kinds of “being nice”. Different people want different kinds of support.

In the past three days I have talked to four different women who have all been extremely upset with their (male) partners because of a lack of support. In most of these cases the woman can’t even put her finger on what more support would look like but they know they aren’t getting it. (Mothers of many children can come up with a list of what they want without having to pause for breath.)

When I think about how upset these women are I stop and think about how tired Noah is. Then I cycle through my male friends who are working as hard as they physically can to support their partners.

Yes, yes I know that the “love languages” crap plays in with it but it feels bigger than that. I think that evolution wants us to feel like what this person is giving us isn’t enough so that we will go shopping for someone who provides us with more. I think that it is just a good bet in terms of producing prosperous off-spring.

Only it doesn’t work. Because splitting up families is hella complicated. I think about the interweaving needs that exist in a family. I think about how children learn to care for themselves and for one another earlier when there are more of them around.

Then I come back to the fact that Noah started off in this world no bigger or stronger than me but he is now in some ways. He may or may not have a higher IQ. I definitely have a higher EQ. He has a higher earning potential at this stage. I can run farther. We are different. We are not equal.

How does one measure worth? I can hate him as a symbol of oppression or I can recognize that he personally isn’t oppressing anyone and he hasn’t spent a lot of time actively doing any oppressing. Living with me has dramatically changed how feminist he is at work. (I feel damn proud of that.)

He is moving in the direction of having power and influence. And I stand behind him filling his ear with my opinions. Does that make me a prop? Is he a prop? Is he just a paycheque to support my lavish lifestyle?

We are good at very different things. We like very different things. We complement one another. And because we are white that means that we have what is sometimes presented as the widest array of options in life.

My demographic is mocked up one side and down the other in the media. I am an upper middle class rich white liberal. I am a stay at home mom and I home school my kids. I am a punch line and a punching bag. Waa waa poor me.

Do I want to be a caricature? Do I want to treat Noah like he is a caricature? Noah is an upper middle class rich white liberal gamer geek. Doesn’t that make him kind of icki by definition? And don’t let that sicko watch My Little Ponies!! Ahem. Sorry.

What does being anything mean? I never identified as trailer trash despite living in trailers off and on and despite white trash being so much less “ok”. I am not defined by the box in which I sleep. Or in which I fuck random men I just picked up.

What am I?

I told Noah the other day that most of the people in my family would describe themselves as good people who sometimes do bad things. They are rapists and pedophiles. Ok, most of them aren’t rapists. But even the non-rapists adamantly defend the rapists.

I think of myself as a bad person who doesn’t really do bad things very often. I believe I am inherently unworthy of any relationship. It is inevitable that I will kick the cabinet off the wall. Duh. Being the kind of person who can, has, and may do so again means that I am just bad.

Do I rape people? Well, I’m pretty confident that I have not raped anyone since I was eighteen. I am pretty sure that I did commit rape before then. I am so sorry. I didn’t understand what I was doing. I didn’t understand power differentials. I didn’t understand that I was ever capable of having power.

Sometimes I look at Noah and I understand on a gut level that he doesn’t see himself as someone who has or has ever had power. He is still in that timeless place with the little boy who wasn’t treated all that well.

I mean, not that he’s immature or anything–that’s not what I’m trying to say. I’m saying that ones internal perspective doesn’t much resemble other peoples view of one. See how that non-gendering thing is awkward?

I do not believe I am a good person. It is, frankly, freeing. I get to make selfish and self-interested choices without caring that much about the effect. I generally do take the effect into consideration because I will have to live with it and all. That is one of the best parts of getting older. You have had a chance to learn from more mistakes.

Every time someone tells me not to dwell on the past I wonder what they mean by that. The people I know who tell me, “I don’t think about the past” are people who have the same little cycle of life over and over with people who are practically paper dolls. People who are roles.

I don’t hate Noah. I don’t feel I can. The longer I know him the older and more grizzled he becomes. (He’s got quite the beard these days.) But I see him as younger and softer as time goes by. I see more of his innocence and his desire for simple connection. I see more of him wanting to be liked and feeling sad because he knows most of the world doesn’t like him very much. (I mean, he’s charismatic and has friends and all–but he’s a symbol to be hated.)

What does any of it mean? Nothing? Everything? Who knows. I like him. I like the life I get to share with him more than I have ever liked anything in my whole life. I feel grateful for the peace and joy in my life. I have stability, safety, and privilege. I can write for six hours straight (in various places on differing projects) when I have insomnia (or intestinal pain–let’s be clear here) after getting almost six hours of sleep because my husband helps so much.

I can invite two kids over for the weekend and trust that my husband will just be around making food and cleaning up messes and playing with kids as much or more than I do.

Sex. That is the thing to schedule that didn’t make the list. I’m sorta interested in my cycles around that as well. Obviously I am more interested in sex around ovulation. We often have most of our ten times a month sex in a four day period. It’s awesome. But he would prefer other spacing. I struggle internally with treating sex like a chore to cross off the list like brushing my teeth.

And yet.

Why am I having sex ten times a month? (Ok, I’ve actually had at least two months in the past year where I didn’t put out ten times and I’ve had paroxysms of guilt. I try to compensate by some months getting up to more like fifteen. Noah agrees that it balances and all is copacetic.) Because sex is a lot of where Noah gets positive energy. He is drained and tired all of the time. If I put out more he would have more energy. This is a pretty trackable situation in our life.

But it is different for me. Sex is different than it has ever been. HA! I’ve been trying to think for days what base lines I have in my life. People revert to base line when they are under stress. I finally came up with one: picking up strangers for sex. That is probably the primary base line behavior I have had in life. I did it for 27 years.

Monogamy is weird. I’m not even going to call it boring because it isn’t that it is boring. It is consistent, but not boring. It feels different in a lot of ways I don’t feel up to putting into words right now. I hear breakfast finishing up and my arms hurt.

And then I’ll just abruptly stop. Because I can’t end for shit.

Thank you, hormones, that’s better.

I participate on a support forum for PTSD. I was just refreshing my memory of how PTSD effects body stress levels and coping. It is hard not to feel ashamed of being broken in the ways I am. It isn’t my fault though.

I haven’t thought about killing myself in over twelve hours. I track these things not to make other people nervous but rather because I have to believe there is enough of a pattern that I can make sense of it over time even if it never makes sense to anyone else.

My friend K has talked me through some blow ups with the kids over the past few days. She came and spent Wednesday with us because she was worried about me. I appreciate her a lot. She talked to me about how it is actually ok to have consequences with your kids and I’m not a meanie head. Life has consequences. Not punishments–that’s a horse of a different color–but there are sometimes unfortunate results to your actions. Bummer.

Having to be the heavy significantly depresses me. It is a fat load of stress and it feels terrible. I prefer it when my kids just kind of go along and do as they are told. Ha. Specifically at 9am the house was clean and I said, “Ok, remember that when you play with stuff you have to put it away when you are done. We are leaving in about three hours for an event and I do want the living room neat when we go.” I went to take a shower in the last half hour. Apparently Barbie needed a pixie cut. And some confetti. And and and and and and and. When I walked out and nearly had a heart attack my dear daughter smirked at me and said, “This is too much for me to clean up. I guess you are going to have to do it.”

We didn’t go to the event. Once she had the consequence and we talked about it and I had the few minutes of being mad while I did indeed clean up the mess we talked about responsibility and consequences we had a better day. It was like we needed to have a blow up. Then we got along. I don’t mean she did what I said for the rest of the day. (Cue hysterical laughter.) I mean that getting to say, “No. If you ignore your responsibilities there are consequences” made me more patient with the other boundary incursions all day. I got to put up one brick wall. This is a line. I WILL DEFEND IT. Then I felt better for the rest of the day. I could be more gentle.

We were sad to miss our friends. I think that was actually a lot of why the day went well after that. We did a lot of commiserating about how much we miss our friends and how sad it was that we didn’t get to visit with them yesterday. We were “on the same team” about being sad about not going. We had another chat about who is responsible for doing what in this house. “No actually it isn’t my job to follow you around all day picking up after you. It is your responsibility to clean up after your stuff. If you can’t clean up your stuff clearly you have too much and we should get rid of a bunch of it. What would you like to start with?” I do a lot. And often I am happy to help with stuff that isn’t “my job” just because I’m a nice lady–do not take advantage of me. I won’t be real friendly.

Alright, confession time. I left the room where the kids were and I put another dent in the drywall yesterday after I came out and saw the Barbie hair everywhere. (Really child. If you are going to give a haircut STAND STILL AND DON’T WALK AROUND THE WHOLE LIVING ROOM WHILE YOU DO IT.) I didn’t mean to. I was barefoot and I didn’t actually feel like I was kicking with force.

We went to Home Desperate and got drywall patch. I fixed the new one and the hole that has been in the wall for about five years now. While I fixed the holes I talked to Shanna about consequences. See, I have consequences for my bad behavior too. I have to fix the holes. It is a very bad idea to put holes in your wall. I am not being very responsible when I do it. I have to fix them now and that is annoying and inconvenient. But–better walls than people. Walls are easier to fix. You never never never kick a person when you are angry. Or hit a person. Walls don’t have feelings. It isn’t good to hit or kick them but better than a person. I waked into the wrong room.

I have been trying not to walk into the garage every time I get upset. The punching bag is in the garage. Unfortunately pot is also in the garage and the associate me going in the garage with smoking and I don’t want them to think that every single time I get upset I smoke. I don’t. It’s hard having this feel like an image problem.

I think that having kind of a scene was what broke the suicidal ideation this time. I don’t like that as a pattern. I don’t need to blow up at my kids in order to convince myself that I shouldn’t die. To be fair I don’t think it is a major pattern at this point. That hasn’t happened many times–specifically blowing up at the kids to deal with being suicidal, I mean.

But I do need some kind of stress-clear-the-air thing sometimes. How can I do that and preserve my relationship with the kids? So far they don’t hold a grudge against me for getting angry. It doesn’t happen all that often and it always blows over quickly and I don’t hold a grudge against them. I don’t stay angry with my kids. That’s a big thing for me.

Right before dinner I asked if the kids were upset with me for not going out. I was told that they missed their friends but they weren’t upset with me. Consequences happen. Both of them said it. I understand that they are at an age where sucking up to me is a survival trait. I hope I am not teaching them to squash their anger or upset because only I am allowed to have feelings. I comforted them when they were sad about not seeing their friends. We talked about when we will get to see them soon. We talked about how to ensure that we don’t have to miss out on seeing our friends again.

I also didn’t let them have the screen. We did have dessert and all other privileges. I don’t want to be too over-kill. But if you get in so much trouble you can’t go play with your friends I’m not going to give you the iPad to distract you with. Hell no. I talked about how I have to create my own entertainment and so does their dad. They have to learn how as well.

I don’t feel ashamed of how I handled it overall. That’s good. No, I’m not perfect. There is always room for improvement but I did ok. I have to understand that given how hysterical I was on Tuesday during the EMDR that my mood on Wednesday and Thursday was close to unavoidable. It will happen again. Welcome to deep trauma work. It has consequences.

How do I apply the principles of harm reduction to this new stress? Well, I’m only seeing my shrink twice a month because I can’t handle more. I feel like doing as much EMDR and as much group work as we have done is causing me to feel really emotionally guarded with my shrink. I feel besieged. I am very used to client directed talk therapy. Therapist directed EMDR heavy therapy is… different. I’m having a hard time adjusting to this whole, “Here. We’ll do this EMDR on you for basically all of our time together because that is a magic button that will fix you even though we don’t have a relationship.” It feels a lot like a fuck buddy, really. Here, let’s get together to do ____ together because even though _____ is fun on your own it is more fun with someone else! Now go away because I don’t actually want to talk to you afterwards. Err, maybe I don’t think about processing like other people do.

Just keep swimming, right? I’m busy. I’m keeping very busy. Only a few people have RSVPed for the Easter party even though I have had a lot more people get excited in person. I don’t know if people are coming or not. Maybe we will end up with ten pounds of sugar for five kids. That would be scary. Could be up to thirty kids. I guess I’ll find out the morning after a hellish drive. Ha. I’m pretty stupid. (Yes, 1/3 of a pound of sugar per kid is still a lot but I figure the parents will steal some as well.)

Today is my last full work day at home before I go to Portland and before the Easter party. That’s kind of intimidating. I am technically capable of doing work on days when I have other obligations but if I want to be nice to my kids I keep it to a bare minimum. It will all work out.

Drywall patching. Laundry. Clean the kitchen. Put out Easter decorations. Make lunch and dinner. Fill eggs with candy. Clean bathroom (really). And I’m sure my kids will want me to read to them and play with them and snuggle them. That sounds like a full day. I’m already tired. I haven’t slept well all week. I feel bad when my discombobulated cycles coincide with Noah having a rockin sort of week (he was interviewed by this internet business guru guy and he’s selling a lot of books) because then he feels guilty.

I don’t want Noah to feel bad about being successful because I am a loser. That’s not a healthy dynamic. I specifically and directly benefit from him maximizing his awesome. I don’t want that to be a fuzzy thing.

And all of a sudden I am having a full stream of words in my head for the wedding ceremony in May. I’m going to close this window and go work on that.

Important parenting realization.

I may get demonized for this, but oh well.  I realized this morning that I am not interested in living in a consensual living family.  Not with small children and maybe not ever.  Most likely not ever.  I believe that parents deserve to put boundaries up that seem completely over the top inappropriate to the kids.  I am  not being mean I am preserving my sanity so that I do not lose my shit and beat her some day many years hence because it is just the last @#%#@# time she is going to come in my room and destroy my belongings.

My room is off limits.  Period.