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.