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Archive for May, 2007

Had a pretty ordinary day today. Hung out, baked brownies, played outside. Oh, and went to therapy this morning – that was anything but ordinary now that I think about it.

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A close friend and I got into a conversation this morning regarding the question: what do father’s do? Coming from two women of absent fathers, this is an excellent question to explore. All I can do to answer this question is to look at what my husband does.

She and her boyfriend are currently working out these kinks in their relationship.  You know the kinks I’m talking about… who should be responsible for the house and the kids and when should they take on these responsibilities? The thing that is complicated with their relationship is that they are trying to function fairly in a blended family. She has one child from another man and her boyfriend has four kids – one of whom lives with them and three whom they have every other weekend. Talk about some complex stuff. Makes me feel fortunate to have found my life partner so easily.

Anyway, as I was rattling off all the things that Hal does both as a father and a husband I started to realize (again) that he is very involved in our family. This is in part due to my insistence that he not just play the role of the bread winner who comes home and plops down on the couch. And in part due to Hal’s strong sense of equality – which by the way, was not learned by observing his own parents.

I’m not a martyr on any level. I’m also not really a domestic goddess. If I feel burdened by the act of doing something, I complain. If it is something that needs to be done but not necessarily by me… I ask Hal to do it. For example, just the other day I called Hal at work to let him know that I felt burned-out from caring for the kids and dogs and that I hadn’t had a moment to care for myself. Therefore, I told him, I really need you to take care of me when you get home from work by cooking us dinner. His response, no problem. In fact, as of late, Hal does an equal if not larger amount of the cooking for our family. And he always, with rare exception, does the dishes.

Hal is the one to wash and dry the laundry while I fold and put it away – typically. However, this weekend we both worked on folding and putting it away. We don’t have set responsibilities when it comes to taking care of our kids. Sometimes I bathe them, sometimes he does. Usually, when he is off from work he changes Bella’s nappy, but sometimes I do it.

I do most of the dusting, vacuuming, and bathroom cleaning, but sometimes he does it.

Hal does all the grocery shopping because I have a hard time buying food within our alloted budget. Also, the idea of going to the store with our two kids is not very appealing to me right now.

Our lives are fluid and will change as we do, so I’m sure we won’t always be able to function this way. Five years from now, our idea of “fair” and “balanced” will be different.

Some of the stuff he does, I ask him to do it because of my physical limitations. Some of the time I ask him simply because I don’t want to do it. And often he does stuff without needing to be asked.

When I was telling my girlfriend all this she said, “You’ve got yourself a maid!” I felt slightly offended (even though I completely understand why she would say that) and retorted quickly, “No, I’ve got myself a partner.”

An old pic of Hal holding Max:

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Grrrr…

As I sat on the couch nursing Bella while Max pranced loudly about I felt irritated.  Irritated because Max can’t seem to do anything in silence, irritated because I feel trapped nursing on the couch, irritated because I can’t seem to relax while I mother my kids because my dog, bless his little doggy heart, is not doing so well.  I can’t relax.  Partly because Max won’t be quite long enough for me to unwind and partly because now I not only feel uber responsible for both my kids, but for my two dogs as well – I mine as well have birthed them, too.

My reoccurring thought today:  Max, will you just PLEASE SHUT UP.

I know that won’t happen and so I cope as I always do when feeling stressed-out.

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Men.

I don’t get male friendships. I don’t get my husband’s friendships. We seem to have such different needs in that area of our lives. For him, he’s content with just shooting the shit or discussing politics and pop culture. For me, it is important to get to a point in the relationship where I know what is going on in a person’s life. Otherwise, I don’t consider it a “friendship” so much as an “acquaintanceship.”

I do enjoy talking about personal politics and pop culture but that all seems pretty empty if I don’t know what a person does for fun or if they are even dating someone. Hal couldn’t really care less if a person opens up to him, though, ironically when they do open up he is very receptive and appropriately responsive. I shouldn’t say “he couldn’t care less” because he has expressed to me that he is open to having “real” friendships with men. Personally, the only man I’ve ever been able to have a deep friendship with, one that is balanced in the giving and receiving department, is Hal – and I married him.

I wish that Hal had friends who where parents, too. His only father friend lives about 1 ½ hours away. It would be nice if Hal had someone he could talk about parenting with, ya know? Someone other than me, that is.

The way that men are socialized to not talk about their feelings with other men is a disservice to the quality of their friendships – in my opinion, anyway.

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Hal and I have been talking (again) about selling our home. We’d like to move closer to Sarasota, which is where all of our friends live. This recent incident with Oscar has made it glaringly clear to me (us) that we need to be closer to those who are most supportive/loving/caring towards our little family. As it stands now, we live 30 minutes away from those people. Thirty minutes too far away.

Today has been a really pleasant day. I had to take Bella to the birthing home to have her hearing tested (a new test that is given to all newborns – she’s taking it about four months late but hey, better late than never). While Bella and I were in the birthing home Hal and Max waited in the car, Max fast asleep. During the test I talked with a first-time expectant father whose wife was in early labor. I love the whole act of talking about babies, birthing, breastfeeding, and just everything associated with becoming a parent. In the amount of time I spent waiting for Bella (about 10 minutes) my desires to become a doula were reinforced. It is a great feeling to still be connected to that dream and to know it is likely to happen some day.

We stopped by Whole Foods on our way home to have lunch and so I could pick up some diaper rash cream for Bella. I knew it was a long shot, but before we left the house I called and left a message on Liz’s answering machine inviting her to have lunch with us in an hour. It was a wonderful surprise to hear Hal say, “Hey, there’s Liz!” We did our shopping and had a nice lunch. Hal and Max had pizza, Liz had some tofu jerky, and I had bread and a loaded-with-goodness salad. We stayed for as long as Bossman was able to sit compliantly then said our good-byes until next time. Bella is amazingly “well behaved,” she contently sat in her car seat the entire time – something Max would have NEVER allowed. Their personalities are already so different. It’s only now that I realize that Max was a bit on the “high-need” side of the spectrum while Bella is the more laid back sort of personality. I always considered Max to be an “easy” baby because all I had to do was nurse him and he was content. Bella, on the other hand, is content just hanging out.

Oscar is improving a little every day. It looks like he got instant cataracts because of the seizure. His walking is a bit wobbly still and he paces around the house more than usual before finding a space to plop down, but he is improving. Oh, we also haven’t heard him bark, yet – not such a bad thing in our book.

I’m happy to have another chance to be a more loving pet owner. I feel like there was some definite improvement needed in that area of my life. As they say, done and done.

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With the exception of BellaGrace joining our family in February, this year has been pretty crappy. I’m just hoping that the second half of it goes better.

I’d like to itemize how crappy my life is right now:

  1. Monica dies
  2. I get turned down for permanent disability by the insurance company I had when I was working – my attorney is still working on my case in hopes of getting them to pay something – I have lost hope on that ever happening
  3. My court date for social security disability gets shoved back another five months
  4. Hal discovers he has to start paying on one of his student loans that mystically wasn’t consolidated with his other loans – he had no idea and just kept ignoring the bill thinking it was a scam
  5. My arthritis has gotten worse
  6. Hal’s back has started hurting again (3 herniated disks)
  7. Bella has horrible eczema and we can’t figure out what is causing it. However, we are now leaning towards a dog dander allergy which sucks because we can’t get rid of our dogs
  8. Oscar had a seizure that was traumatic for both Hal and I to witness
  9. Oscar’s hospital and vet bills
  10. Hal and I are constantly being reminded that our “family support” is shaky at best
  11. Our bathroom is about to fall through the floor – repairing the water damage is more than we can afford
  12. Our house smells like piss because Oscar is incontinent and it took us a day to get him some diapers
  13. We need to replace our carpet with tile but of-course, can’t afford it
  14. We are not able to relax because we are on “seizure watch” for the next two weeks

NO WONDER I’m in therapy right now!

What’s good right now?

  1. Both my kids are healthy
  2. Camus is still healthy
  3. Despite our pain issues (which are manageable), Hal and I are healthy
  4. We have working cars
  5. We have a roof over our heads
  6. We have clothes to wear
  7. We have food to eat
  8. We have clean water to drink
  9. We have each other
  10. I have wonderful friends
  11. I’m able to scrape enough money together for a therapist every week
  12. We have a lot of love in our home
  13. Max is pooping and peeing on the potty
  14. Despite her skin issue, Bella is a happy baby who sleeps/eats/poops/laughs/coos/baby babbles/and has obvious love for her family
  15. Max is growing into a very compassionate little boy and I’m starting to figure out his personality and how best to talk so he will listen (not an easy parenting job, let me tell you)

Okay, still one up on the good.

Oscar is recovering. It will be a slow recovery because he had a major seizure that caused a temperature of 107 degrees. He’s on medication and we have valium for him incase he starts to seize again (it will prevent it from happening – hopefully). He was really out of it when we got him home – think of what a tweaked out junky looks like who can not blink, relax, or sleep. We kept him isolated in our bathroom vanity area to keep Bossman away from him and to help him to feel safe. He seemed to recognize us when we first got him home, then acted scared of us, now he’s responding to his name and simple commands/words. He’s out of his isolated area and seems to be dealing well with Max running around/making noise. He probably has some brain damage but the vet told us that dogs don’t really need much of their brain to function “normally.”

We are having a hard time relaxing because every time Oscar breaths differently we’re checking to make sure he’s okay. Hal has slept out in the living room on the floor with the dogs twice so that the kids and I could get some sleep – have I mentioned how much I love that man? It will take about two weeks for the seizure medicine to really get into Oscar’s blood stream. At that point, we’ll meet the Oscar that will probably be the Oscar we’ll have from then on out – hopefully not too different from the pre-seizure Oscar. We are just happy that we have him at all.

I’m trying to keep Hal’s spirits up enough so that he doesn’t fall into depression – a lovejob that I have my therapist and friends to help me with right now. All I can really do is stay positive and keep reminding us both that we’re due for something wonderful to happen any day now.

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Oscar

My dog, Oscar, woke my husband up this morning around 3:30 am because he (Oscar) was having a seizure. Hal took Oscar outside, got on-line to find out what could be happening with him, then came into our room to wake me up. When I looked at Hal’s face as he tugged on my foot to rouse me out of sleep, it was obvious something was wrong. He waited until I got out of the bedroom before he said, “Oscar is dieing.” I can’t even express how painful this was for me to hear. After contacting the animal hospital and handing the phone over to Hal, I went outside to comfort Oscar as he struggled with the seizures. I want to talk about my feelings during this time but they’re clogged up in me. I feel like I still need to learn how to talk about my feelings when they are filled with this much pain. After Hal got directions to the nearest animal hospital, he rushed Oscar there. The vet stabilized him and brought his high temperature down. Oscar’s normal vet office opened at 7am, so Hal had to transfer him to that location. Our family vet will have to run a massive amount of tests and we’ll just have to play the waiting game to see if Oscar’s fever did any permanent damage to his brain. The vet at the hospital assured me that there was nothing we could have done to prevent this seizure. She said that if a dog is going to seize it will happen no matter what and it will be unpredictable. Her words were mildly comforting. I hope he is okay. I want another chance to be a good mama to Oscar. I want to pet him more and just show more affection towards him. I love that damn dog so much. I don’t want to loose him, too.

Please send vibes/prayers to my baby.

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