Sunday, July 20, 2014

Ch-ch--ch-changes...

This summer have been more relaxed than the rest of the year.

The reason? I'm letting go. I'm changing it up.

I let the boys take July off of karate. It sounds minor, but it is costly for 3 boys. Also, that's a lot of time that is usually spent at the dojo now spend here, at the house, making dinner, tidying up, and just talking to the boys about their day.

I stopped making the boys practice piano. Nate won't be taking piano in the fall - he's going to do the violin. Nick will be taking violin AND flute. Andy will still be doing piano - I still haven't worked out the details. But I haven't made him practice for weeks.  There's no fighting about it, no struggling to find time to do it.

Sometimes, when I'm having a particularly difficult day, I put on a TV show for us to watch during dinner. We watch an episode of Dr. Who, or part of a movie... once, an episode of Arrested Development. It seems so horrible, right? I mean, this goes against everything I've been taught, everything I believe. It's the HUGEST no-no. We're supposed to sit and talk and have healthy foods. Not eat grilled cheese while laughing about banana stands.  But somehow we aren't having a bad time. It seems to work.

Also, I don't cook dinners anymore. I used to make a THING every day. Steak or chicken, a vegetable... These days I'll cook a "dinner" a week. And then the rest of the time I'll make eggs, hot dogs, french toast. Or sandwiches, mac 'n cheese, a quick pasta. I cook broccoli in the microwave or put out carrot sticks. It's quicker. It's cheaper. We're good.

Sometimes, even though we're in a rush and have things we need to do, like sleep, we just stretch out on my bed and surf the net for Weird Al videos, or research Portal, or play silly computer games or look at old photos.

All this makes it sound like we just lounge about. But that's not true either. I used to see dinner as a line drawn in the day - after dinner, the day was done. Everything else had to be done beforehand. But twice I've given the boys dinner and then packed them in the car for errands. No place very exciting - once to CVS and once to Target. The reality is, I don't want the sitter to have to stay an extra hour just so I can pick up eggs and deodorant. Also, more time with boys. And who says we can't do these things? What is it that makes them so horrible?

It's OK. It can work. If I just relax about it and don't worry about it, life is going to be fine.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Who Am I... Really?

I think Divorce almost naturally leads to Identity crisis.

Maybe not so much divorce in and of itself, but in my case, it's being by myself with no kids. Weekends are rough. Week long vacations almost intolerable.

Because I don't remember what I used to do before, when it was just me. Back then I had a roommate, I was in my 20's. And now that I no longer have a husband, (or boyfriend) I no longer know what to do when I am with only myself. The friends I used to have are now also grown up, grown apart, moved away, and have their own partners and children.

Who am I?

I'm leaning toward re-inventing myself. And while that can be a very exciting prospect, it unfortunately leads me to some odd choices. Especially since I'm still a bit emotional and, at times, just plain sad.

The other day I hung out with my friend Betsy. Betsy lives up here, not too far away, but for some reason we only see each other once a year. This time I went to her house and brought stuff to make margaritas (not fancy ones. Cuervo and mix and ice.) It turns out I make strong margaritas. After two, I decided to join Betsy in smoking a cigarette.

I don't smoke. In college, I tried smoking when my friends did, and was the only one who did not pick up the habit. In fact, smoking made me feel ill. Which was good, because I was a singer. I still do sing, in the church choir. But the point is, I don't smoke. Never have. I spent years watching my friends try to quit, watching Steve try to quit, going through gums and patches and things...

But I did smoke with Betsy. I smoked a cigarette, and then I did it again. After two strong margaritas, though, so wait, because that's not so surprising.

A couple of days later, in the car, I found myself thinking about smoking. I thought that I could actually purchase my own pack of cigarettes and smoke them myself. At home. Alone. With just me. I thought about how this would make me feel, about how I could just do this thing, how there was nothing stopping me, how it was all so very possible. And I thought about how it would make me feel, what it would mean for the kind of person I could turn into...

I know. Pure craziness, right? I never once thought about how addicting smoking really is, or how horrible it would be for my lungs. I didn't think about cigarette butts or ash or the smoke clinging to my clothing and hair. I didn't think about how I can hardly afford shampoo these days, let along packs of cigarettes. I didn't think about the example it would be for my children. I didn't think of how it would affect them.

So... needless to say, I have not taken up smoking.

I have, however, given serious though to getting a tattoo. And also to chopping off my hair. These things are possible.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

A Little Alone Time

18 months ago, I probably would have fallen at your feet if you had offered me a few hours without my kids.

I love my children. I love them more than my own self. I would walk to the ends of the earth for any of them. I just don't want to be around them every single moment of the day. Even when the boys were in school and I had no job (outside the home) it seemed that I kept myself busy with housework and volunteer work.

Life has changed significantly. Every other weekend (and one weeknight a week) the boys go off to Steve's house, and I am left alone in the house. I have no one to cook meals for, no one to put to bed, no one to dictate what goes on the television, and no one to try and describe a new Dr. Who Minecraft Mod while I'm busy braiding my hair and listening to music with adult lyrics.

Most of the time, when the boys are gone, I have the time scheduled. I have a meeting or a choir practice. The weekends I don't have the boys I clean the house and get to shop for groceries my myself. I teach myself how to use the rider-mower so that I can mow the meadow which used to be our lawn.

But sometimes, I find myself with nothing to do.

These are the moments I'm supposed to fill with leisure activities. Call up a friend! Read a book! Do the things I always said I wanted to but couldn't because kids were around. (For the record, most of these projects involve cleaning.)

A couple of weeks ago, Steve took the boys on vacation for an entire week.

No kids for an entire week.

This is a huge adjustment. Not just routine-wise, but because for the past ten years I have been defining who I was as a human being through my children. "Mother." I quit my job to stay home and be a "Mother." I stopped spending time with young single friends because I had a baby and I was a "Mother." The TV I watched, the music I listened to, even the clothing I wore changed - yes, because I was a bit older, but mostly because I was a parent. And let's not forget the fact that, after three boys, there are parts of my body that will simply never be the same.

So, who was I before that? Um... I dunno. I was a girl in my late 20s who liked to do the things that 20-somethings do. Now? Well... I don't know. I'm almost 40. I don't feel middle aged. I don't always make grown-up choices (I had three biscuits after dinner instead of one.) Who am I? Any given weekend I can't tell you what it is I even wish I were doing. What do I do for fun? Um...

I'm not going to lie. I can get rather down and depressed about it. I have my ways of dealing with it or distracting me from it, but they don't always come through.

So what did I do while the boys were on vacation?

The first night I was alone I took a bucket or warm water out to the deck and scrubbed away the green and yellow pollen buildup.  I got halfway through before I became so sad - this is what I was doing the night before a weekend? I cried. I cried so much I had to stop working and crawl upstairs into bed, where I remained for an entire day.

I have to be careful about the crying. It isn't always helpful - sometimes it is! But not always. Also, my eyes tend to puff up, and if I'm not careful I wake up with bags under my eyes. Most people might simply let this sort of thing pass, but I work with a very enthusiastic and well-meaning 25-year-old (born in '89) who is prone to being concerned about my well-being, and who is not beyond commenting on my appearance when I look less than my best.

I stayed in bed a whole day. Then the next day I got up and finished cleaning the porch. I did laundry. I cleared the clutter off the dining room table. I played piano a little bit. I wrote a little bit. I bugged people online a little bit. I managed to make it to the Library one day. I hung out with a friend and had some (Very) strong margaritas.

Still by the time they came home, I was more than ready to see them.

It will get better. Things will get easier, Eventually. I know this. In the meantime, though, these stretched with no boys hare hard.


Sunday, July 13, 2014

I Made A List

So, just because I'm not posting anything here on this blog, doesn't mean I'm not thinking about things I want to say here on this blog.

Side note - It was really hard for me to say "here on this blog" instead of "on this here blog."

I think of things all the time. In fact, I write the ideas down. I had a running list of items to write about, topics I could address.

But yesterday I threw it away. And then took the trash to the dump. An amazing sequence of events considering how rarely I do either of those things.

Here's the thing about lists - you can always make a new one. I should do that, so I will actually have something to say.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

File this under "Done"

Last week, Steve and I filed for divorce.

Wait, what? you're thinking. Didn't they decide to get a divorce over a year ago? What then heck have they been DOING?

Shut up, I say to you. You have no idea.

First of all, no two divorces are the same. If you and your spouse own nothing and have no children you can probably file for divorce and be done with it in an afternoon, or at least a month. But if you own things, if you have children, if one of you has spent the last 10 years not working in order to care for your children and your household, it might take a wee bit longer.

In some cases, it might be worth it to wait.

It might make sense to get a job. To figure out what your expenses are or will be. To think through certain things, like what do do with joint property.  And in the meantime certain people might be able to keep health insurance for a few more months. Things like that.

So... yeah. It took us a little over a year.

Not that we didn't try to get things done earlier.

We had a meeting with lawyers. It took hours. It cost me about $900. It probably cost Steve the same. We spent the entire time arguing over a temporary arrangement and listening to the lawyers argue over who was going to pay to have the house appraised for value. Do you know how much it costs to have the house appraised? Probably a fraction of what it cost us in lawyers fees to argue over who was going to pay for it.

I quickly realized that we could spend months, years in court, arguing over how much alimony, child support was owed, over who would get what visitation, who would get which bank account... but when it was all added up, the lawyers would probably end up with most of the cash.  Steve doesn't make enough money, I explained to my lawyer, to make it worth arguing over alimony. At the end of the day, any difference he could possibly afford will be eaten up in fees paid to her firm.

In January we went to a mediator. We came up with an agreement, and most of the arrangements were made. Then we each took a copy of the papers to our respective lawyers and each of them had something to say.

When we finally go copies of everything we went tot he courthouse, but we were missing a couple of the 93 documents we needed in order to file, so we had to go back.

And so we did. And then we filed. And that brings me to now.

I had over a year to get used to the idea. But still, once we did it, once the paperwork was in, I had a little bit of a shock. That was it. It was done. Mostly. All over except the parenting class and the actual document stamped and returned.

Weird.

It feels weird.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I'd Like To Thank My Health Insurance...

Way back in October, the school recommended that Nicholas see an outside therapist.

Take a step back - not time-wise, people. I mean back from the blog content for a second. I've been wondering how to phrase this issue. I've been wondering if I should even speak about this issue. Nick isn't a baby. He is a now 10-year-old boy with his own thoughts and his own life and above all his own right to privacy. I can't be a good parent and be explicit or detailed with his issues here. 

Dealing with these issues, however, is a different matter. And that is where the focus of this post is.

What the heck is she talking about, you wonder?

Well... way back in October, the school recommended that Nicholas see an outside therapist. There were issues, and the teacher, the guidance counselor, and the principal all seemed to think this was a good idea.

After some calling around, some filling out of forms, many voicemails.... do you know how difficult this was? It's the golden triangle of Therapists. 1 - Willing to work with children, 2 - Will take my insurance, 3 - Had appointment times NOT during school hours.

We found someone. Nick started to see her.

She recommended something called neuropsychological testing be done. This is a test to find out how the brain is working. Look it up if you have questions, because I can't explain it now. This began phone calls to the insurance company to see if they'd cover the testing, and to another center who does the actual testing.

Meanwhile, issues at school got a little worse. There were more meetings. More issues. We assured them we were trying.

An appointment was made, weeks in advance. Not for a test, but for an intake. A week before the date I got a phone call saying the therapist had to cancel because she wasn't taking new patients. I explained we didn't want to be a long time patient, just needed this one test done. At which point I was told the therapist just didn't take our insurance. Something I feel should have been noticed when I MADE THE APPOINTMENT.

So I scheduled again. For a month later.

I brought Nick with me to the intake, which apparently is never done. But the nice Therapist #2 seemed OK with it, and recommended that we schedule testing - we scheduled 6 hours of it, over 2 days. Both scheduled weeks ahead.

Only THEN Therapist #2 called us and told us our insurance company wouldn't cover the testing. To pay out of pocket would mean a rate of $200/hr, for a possible 13 total hours. THANK YOU, INSURANCE COMPANY! 

Instead, our insurance company wanted him to have something called a "Comprehensive Diagnostic Evaluation."

When I called to make the appointment for this, the nice lady scheduling the appointment called it the "Medication Evaluation." I know there are those of you out there who think pills solve a lot of problems, but I honestly feel the damn test should be called something else. I don't want him on meds IF HE HASN'T BEEN TESTED FOR EVERYTHING ELSE!

Anyway, Steve and I sat down for yet ANOTHER intake - the get-to-know-your-kid appointment which is an hour of history, which you have to do with each new person they make you see. Therapist #3 seems really nice, is prepared to to this evaluation, and based on her assessment we'll know if we can have / should have the neuropsychological testing.

My feelings? Well, this is the first therapist who asked for a form to be filled out by his teacher. Of course, this meeting took place the FIRST MONDAY OF SUMMER VACATION.

I mean, the TIME it takes. And this is time sensitive, because this crap started back in October. I know no one wants to be rushed, but this is ALL of the third grade, here, that we've been trying to get something actually done, but we've been jumping through hoops. 

A task made more difficult because, oh yeah, we're in the middle of getting divorced and I am working for the first time in a billion years.

Also, I'm a little apprehensive because Therapist #3 - a lovely lady - seems a bit over-ready to slap an ADHD label onto my son. And while I know it's not off the table, I've MET kids with ADHD  - Nick isn't like them. I've also met kids with Asperger's, and Nick isn't like that. While everyone is different, I feel like Nick deserves to be looked at before diagnosed, and I'm not sure that's actually happening with this new round of testing.

I hate it. I hate it. I feel like it's made this difficult because they actually want you to drop out of the race and leave them alone. Then, of anything goes wrong, they can blame you for being a bad parent and not following through. But if you DO try to follow through, they just recommend you see a different therapist, and you have to start all over again, add another month or two to your sentence, fill out another round of paperwork.

Nick starts school in two months. We'll se how much has changed before then.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Like Sand Through The Hourglass...

Time slipped away from me.

I experienced genuine shock this morning when I checked this blog and realized it had been over a week since I'd written. A WEEK! OVER!

The thing is, I have stuff to say. And I've been saying it... just usually to whoever happens to be closest to me at the time. The poor lady in the cube next to me at work has heard all of it. So have some random strangers at the grocery store. Sorry, random people! Sorry, co-worker!

I mean to try harder, but I don't mean to stress myself out. I want to say things, but I don't want to over-share, over-state, or over-do it. Sometimes that means a bit of Time-Gap.

So keep eyes wide open: Posts With Content are on the horizon.

And also, if I can find some, photographs!

We do love photographs.