Having a son

Recently I have taken to reading articles about raising a son. I particularly like the Good Men Project, if you have sons I suggest following them on twitter or fb.

Perhaps because of B’s childhood/mental health issues these stories and articles really have my interest.  So many of them talk about how we raise boys to be tough and callous, avoid their emotions for fear of ridicule, encourage them to “manly” in all sorts of ways. I grew up with a father that is a good example of this – work hard for your family and provide financially, leave the parenting/loving to their mother.

I read a statistic about the number of times a male child is touched versus a female child and while I can’t remember the specifics, the idea is that male infants, toddlers, children etc… are held, hugged and kissed significantly less a female. So think about men in adulthood. How often to we see men hugging each other? Perhaps at a funeral, maybe occasionally as a greeting to one another but it is not common place.

I am a hugger and a snuggler. L, even at two, is a snuggler which I love. I know some children just aren’t that way but it would break my heart if in five or ten years he all of a sudden changed that. I’m sure teenage years will likely contain less affection but I don’t want it to be that way. I often find it easier to have a meaningful conversation with B when we are snuggled up together. I am not sure if it is because we are physically connected or because my face is typically tucked under his chin when snuggled but the conversation seems to flow easier if talking about emotional issues.

With all the things that I said, I also know that I don’t care if L is rough and tumble. Growing up a tomboy makes me think I would encourage the same behaviors if I had a daughter. I just want that rough and tumble boy to know it is okay to talk to his wife, mom, friends, etc…

I’m not sure my point but I do wonder about what I am doing right now to help my son be emotionally okay. I am sure I’ll mess up somewhere but I want to try hard not to.

2014

Yep, jumping on that bandwagon.

I’ll be honest, 2013 was horrible with a small little splash of good, like three rain drops in the ocean.  B’s mental health really took it’s toll this year on both of us.  I don’t wish to relive the months of June through pretty much the rest of the year. Watching your spouse crumble from a combination of his childhood demons and personal struggles is a nightmare. To offer perspective, I considered hospitalizing him at one point.  It was possibly one of the most horrific times of my adult life thus far.

So 2012 was hard, 2013 was possibly harder but damn it, 2014 is not going to kick my ass. I am not a New Year’s resolution type girl. I don’t stick to it. But here are my hopes for the year.

- Learn to take care of myself better. I am one who puts all others first, I know this is my best and worst trait. I realized with B’s mental health that I am a freaking strong woman and that I need to act like it more often. I don’t need to put up with anyone’s shit and it doesn’t matter who those people are. Some times those people you have to cut out are the people who are suppose to be the ones you lean on.

-Get B to a state of better mental health. I can’t fix him. No therapist can fix him. BUT I can help him believe in himself again by being a good wife and being a good wife doesn’t always mean treading lightly. It means standing up to him when he wants to let himself fall and telling him to get up off his battered and bruised ass. It means being brutally honest with him about his family and their treatment of himself and me.

-100% honest. I would like another child. Damn, L was hard and still is some times but I know that in my heart I would like another child. I need to learn how to be at peace waiting until B is in a better mental state. I am not sure what that means for my hopes of a second child but I know that I need to learn patience with this dream.

-Learn to love my job for what it is. I am in a position that is high stress, demanding and difficult at times. That being said, I know I can do it well when I really try and I know that my work is valuable. I don’t sell a random product or something inconsequential, I work for an organization that saves lives based upon the money that I fundraise. So work like each day I could be saving a life.

- Get back to my own hobbies and loves. I miss running. I miss reading. I miss blogging and cooking ( just started to get my groove back cooking adventurously.) Taking care of myself means a better quality of life. I started doing this last year when I joined a mothers group. It is a bible study, which is totally not me, but it allows me to connect to other mothers. It allows me two hours a week in the evening where I just get away for myself.

- Take care of my marriage. 15 years have gone by with B. 15 freaking years. We have struggled and soared. When you get married you don’t realize the work it will take. You don’t know that you will spend as many moments loving your spouse as you do wanting to kick them in the head. I’m not sure what taking care of my marriage means but I do know that if we can survive the last few years that we can work through a lot of things headed our way in the next 15. I want my child to look at his parents and know they love each other and see our relationship as something to aspire to in his own marriage.

I’m sure there is a million other things that I could do this year and want to do this year but as I was undecorating the Christmas tree prior to this post I discovered an enormous spider web in it and that shit isn’t cool.

So here’s to 2014. Bring it.

7 months

I know. I’ve been gone for a really long time, around seven months. Life is busy.

 

I miss blogging for just writing out my feelings and thoughts more than anything else. I still chat with most of the bloggers that I became friends with through twitter but not all of them.

What happened in seven months?  We went to Birmingham, sold our first house, bought a new house, went to Tennessee (yes to visit my MIL), moved across town, survived some family health issues, hosted our usual July 4th party, traveled to the Chesapeake Bay and made a different trip where we stopped in Baltimore on our way to the Outer Banks, probably did something in August.  September was CRAZY. B went out of town for a work conference, we hosted L’s 2nd birthday with my IL in town from Tennessee and then I had my largest work event of the year.

October has been no less busy.

 

Now, if I am being honest, it has been a rough few months. B has been struggling with mental health issues, school and his father’s passing. It has been hard on me.

 

I’m not sure what else to say besides all of that. Perhaps I will come back more often?  I know I should.

What’s been going on

Thank goodness.  In a few weeks we are heading out of town. It is just a trip to visit our family in Alabama but holy wow, we need to get away. The last time we went away was a long time ago, as in December of 2010. That would be two years and two months.

My sister in law had a baby in November of last year and we have yet to meet this new member of our family. I am excited to see this baby girl but at the same time I am nervous. NERVOUS. Reason #1 – Flying with 18 month old. Reason #2 – sleeping with a 18 month old at an odd location. Reason #3 – my in laws. HA!  Number three is my constant, isn’t it?  I just get nervous, like barfy nervous. Oh well, a good prepper for when we spend multiple days with my MIL in May. JOY! HAPPINESS! THRILLS!

In other news we are semi looking for another home. Our current house is 1800 sq ft with a partially finished basement. Our challenge stems from my working from home and because we both want more than the 1/3 acre yard that we have now. I am so ready to not see our neighbor when we sit on our deck and eat dinner but at the same time I don’t want to be 45 minutes from everything. It seems like the houses/property and our budget aren’t lining up. No fair.

Plus, we are looking for a four bedroom with basement that is either finished or it is possible to finish. Property, basement, updated.  Not asking for much, right?! Can someone explain why we are increasing the amount of mortgage by almost double but we can’t find a house that fits our needs?

Anyone else looking for a new house?  Want to buy ours?

Struggling

It’s been a long time since I really spent time blogging. I miss it. My 140 letter tweets have filled the space that blogging once took. But I think it is so easy to use twitter to hide.

I’ve been struggling.

I struggled in my career with the big university that shall remain nameless. I HATED my job. I hated being away all the time. I hated not having the time to be a part of my own community and actually meet people. When you travel for two to three weeks a month, the last thing you want to do is not be with your spouse the little time you do have at home. That was two years ago. Since then I have changed so very much. Life has changed.

A baby. A new job. First real job for my husband.

Now? I like my job. But I have a new struggle. I am the one that never said she wanted to be a stay at home mom, I didn’t think it would be a fit for me. Now I sit here biting back tears bc I wish I could spend my days with my son. My child. Instead he goes to a great daycare and someone else gets to love him each day. So I struggle with the thoughts of helping provide for my family and the internal desire to take care of my child. L prefers my husband, which I know is because my husband is the crazy goofy fun one. But it still tears at my heart when he screams while I try to take him from B’s arms. Is my working what does this? He cries when B drops him off at daycare. Doesn’t even flinch when I do. It breaks my heart.

And marriage? People tell you having kids is hard on your marriage. But they don’t say how or why it is so hard. It’s just like when you hear that you won’t sleep after kids but you never truly know the realities of how hard a baby is until you have your own. L didn’t sleep through the nite until around a year. There are still bad nites all the time. So for over two years I have slept like shit on a multiple nite a week basis. It is hard on the mental health. Which is hard on the marriage. We are both tired and snappy. I love my husband like mad, but there are things that we both do. We are much harder on each other than we ever were before. We snap quicker. We use harsher words. It all makes my heart sad. I still harbor feelings of lack of support in regards to my relationship with his mother.

I am still ten pounds over my pre baby weight. And I hate it. I feel disgusting on a daily if not hourly basis. Don’t sleep well? Makes you want to eat shit. Don’t eat well? Where would the motivation to work out come from? Don’t feel good about yourself? Well why would your husband find you attractive? It is all a vicious cycle!

I don’t even know what all else is going on in my head, but lord. I need to get it out.

And now- the rest of the story.

When we found out I was pregnant, we decided that we wanted to tell our immediate families in person. A little harder because B’s family lives in Tennessee and his sister in Alabama. My family and part of B’s lives about two hours away. We knew that we would have to come up with an excuse to go to TN so we made up a visit to B’s former employer for a presentation, which he actually ended up doing. I was 16 weeks along and worried that they would be able to tell instantly but I wore loose fitting clothes and no one guessed.
Our second day there we had dinner as a family and we told everyone. It happened to fall on April 1st, so everyone thought it was an April Fools joke. Everyone was so excited and immediately started talking about who would come up when. His mom and sister both mentioned cancelling their “girls of the family” trip to the beach with B’s aunts since the little one was due that week. It is always stuff like that I notice. The “family” was planning a girls’ trip and I had no idea.
After the trip, things were good. Everyone called lots and asked how I was feeling, how the nursery was coming, yada yada. I can honestly say that this has been the only time in my relationship with my MIL that I would consider it good. Then… the we’re coming the week he is born began. Lots of them. My first baby. My girly business being all ripped up (or so I thought). Not sleeping. Trying to learn to breastfeed. And visitors. Extended stay visitors.
I immediately told husband that I wasn’t comfortable with so many people in our house right after the baby was born. I don’t think he truly got it, but fortunately his sister and her husband did. They made plans to visit a month after for four or five days. Perfect. His mom was dead set on coming right when he was born but never officially said when she would come and go. I was super nervous about this. I had heard about the hormones that go raging through your body and even though MIL and I were okay, we had about 13 years of not okay. But she kept saying how I could just relax, sleep and take care of the baby and wouldn’t have to worry about anything else. It sounded good, in theory.
I found out that I would be having a scheduled c-section and MIL was ecstatic that she could be there when things happened. But as baby tend to do, he had his own schedule and came early via emergency c-section. MIL got in her car the next morning and was there by evening. My parents came to visit with my little brother. My sister, our neighbors, my best friend and grandmother also came. And then MIL came. All visitors after she arrived were practically intruders taking her time away from the baby. But I was on pain killers and delusional from the newfound lack of sleep so I didn’t notice. It was pointed out to me later by my husband’s best friend and his wife. Ugh.
I was in the hospital from Friday to Monday around noon. I was exhausted and just ready to go home to my own bed and learn how to be a mom. But every single moment, there she was. By Tuesday, I could tell that something was off. I was sitting the nursery, with my boob out for the 8 millionth time and my boss called. I heard the house phone ring, MIL answer it and her say “ She’s up in the nursery doing SOMETHING.” Oh, you know, just having a party up here as my nipple bleeds in the baby’s mouth and I talk to my boss. Happy days!
When I got off the phone and was finished nursing, I came downstairs to make some lunch and she about flipped because I was making a sandwich for myself. Honestly, I had spent the previous five days as a milk cow for forty-five minutes every two hours and just wanted to make a damn sandwich. Then she made judgmental comments about how I didn’t eat anything on my sandwich (mayo, mustard, cheese, etc) and I just laughed it off until she honestly looked at me like I was a freak. Sorry, I don’t eat a lot of condiments?
She went upstairs to her work laptop and I tried to talk to her about my boss/ job. She never took her eyes from her laptop, so I let it go. Then the baby woke up and it was probably time to milk again. Those were fun days. When I was upstairs nursing again, she strode past the room, said she was going out for a while and left. At that point, I knew there was shit about to hit the fan. I was already over it at that point. When she made dinner that nite and we all sat around the table, I just wanted to plant my face into the table and go to bed. I didn’t care about eating a salad, meal and dessert. I wanted bed and pain free nipples. Maybe a non ripped open gut too.
On Wednesday morning we had our first dr. appointment and B’s aunts were supposed to come up. Originally to spend the nite. Why, yes! At our house! With a less than week old baby and only one spare bedroom for three people! GREAT PLAN! Apparently MIL picked up on the fact that I was not a fan of this idea when I told my husband I was not a fan of the idea of two MORE people in my house with my bleeding boobies and screaming new baby. Come for a visit, sure! But stay the nite? Not the best idea in my mind!
Apparently she had went to find a hotel room the day before when she ran out but due to big college football town, rooms were either not available or upwards of $300 a nite. The aunts live 1.5 hours away, not like they couldn’t visit her one day and then MIL go visit them another day.
Tuesday at some point, I said to my husband that I knew things were headed in a bad place with his mom. I didn’t know what I had done, I didn’t care. Please see bleeding nipples, ripped open gut and 45 minute nursing every two hours. I was learning how to be a mother and I didn’t need to deal with the drama.
Wednesday it all went to hell. We went to our doctor appointment and on the way back I told my husband that I was over it. I had greater things to deal with than worrying about his mother. He told me that his mother thought that I was hiding from her and didn’t want her help. I’ll be honest. Sleeping and nursing were about the only things that I was doing at that point. I wasn’t worried about our meals, the house, anything. I am a fairly modest person and not comfortable with anyone seeing my boobs, let alone my MIL, so I nursed upstairs in his room. Then, it made sense if I was tired to walk right across the hall and sleep in our bedroom. But that was a problem. She didn’t understand how why I didn’t just use that cover thing and nurse in the same room as her. Sorry, I don’t often shove my nip in a baby’s mouth. It took practice without a cover, let alone trying it on day five of nursing with a cover. I thought napping in my bed made sense. Silly me.
So the aunts were there. We visited for a little bit and then they wanted to go for a walk. I didn’t know any better, so we loaded up the stroller and started walking. Three houses down the street and I thought something was going to fall out the front of my stomach. Something important like internal organs. I started to cry and told husband that I had to head back to the house. Honestly I barely made it ¼ of a mile and thought I was going to pass out. Once we got back into the house I laid down for a bit and they began dinner. Other than nursing the baby, I slept. At dinnertime, husband asked if I wanted to come down. I told him honestly that I just wanted to lay in bed but that I would be seen as a bitch if I didn’t come down and I didn’t want to deal with that. He told me not to worry about them and to just sleep. So I did.
When I woke up, they had left. I ate less than half of the dinner my MIL made and went back to bed. At 11:00, husband came up to bed and told me that his mother was leaving because I didn’t want her there. I knew he was upset about it and in my mind I felt relief. Relief that I could just learn this whole new mom thing without worrying about making any one mad. But I heard the despair in my husband’s voice that this was his only family that was seeing our new baby and how much that meant to him. That she had driven nine hours to “take care of us.” And I got it. I understood that it meant a lot to him to have the support of his mother. So I heaved my lard ass out of the bed and went downstairs. I didn’t mince words and told her matter of factly that I didn’t get it. I am trying to do all these things to take care of the baby and was not even thinking about what I needed to do in order to treat her the way she felt she needed to be treated. We went back and forth about her leaving and I told her repeatedly that I thought that was a really shitty thing to do to her son that obviously needed and wanted her there. I never once said that I needed her there which I think is what she wanted to hear. I couldn’t say it because I didn’t mean it. It was so stressful trying to do everything else that catering to her ego was beyond my capacity at that time.
Again, like every time we have had rounds, I apologized. What did I apologize for? Hell, I don’t know? Breathing? I apologized for nursing upstairs, sleeping upstairs, not letting her make me a sandwich (seriously, the sandwich?), for growing up in a family where I don’t need to share everything under the sun about my life. You name it, I apologized for it. At no point did she say, Stephanie I know what you are going through. This is really a hard time for a woman. Maybe I should just ease up on you and not take things so personally.
At the end of the conversation, where again, I felt defeated and like I was some sort of horrible person, she decided she would grace us with her presence for the rest of the week. So the rest of the week, I had to nap on the couch, try to nurse under a cover with bleeding nipples and sit at the table and eat. Really I wanted to tell her to go f herself but I held back. I think there is a trophy somewhere for this.
The rest of the week was okay. I was seething inside but decided that I could handle it for a few more days. That her lack of respect for me as a new parent was simply how she operated and that once she was gone, I would be okay. That it would fade away and I would move on. But lawd. I was pissed off.

The best part – they all then planned to come for Christmas!!! Ah, the rest of the story to come.

what I can’t say in public

If you have been around long enough, you know that my mother in law and I have lots of drama.  Husband and I have been together since November of 1998.  That would be over 13 years.  I believe the drama started in September of 1999.  Prior to that we both lived in PA and she was in TN.  In the fall of 99 husband moved to TN to go to school and I went to school about three hours north of there.  Since husband had not been around that part of his family (two sisters, mother, stepdad and half brother) for anything more than a week since he was eleven, he wanted to get to know them. A pretty noble thing for a 17 year old to do.  Um, live at “home” with your family instead of head off to college.  But since he hadn’t really had a normal family unit since he was eleven, it was a chance for him to have a normal family. 

Once he moved there, his mother started encouraging him to meet up with various people.  Various female people. 

Then came the drama of me coming to visit.  He had to get a job because there was no financial support from his family, so it was often me that came to visit him.  There was drama in regards to me spending the nite at their house.  I am just going to say once and for all – if teenagers want to have sex, spending the nite together is not when it has to happen.  Let’s also take note of the hypocrisy in regards to my MIL and step FIL’s wedding date of February 14th, 1995.   My brother in law was born on July 13th, 1995.  Pretty sure he was full term. 

There were issues with his one sister stealing my stuff and when I said something about it to husband and he told his mother, she told me if I wanted to accuse her of those type of things that I wasn’t welcome to stay there anymore.  Please note that this is the sister that was pregnant less than six months later at the age of 15.  And that they suspected her of drug use.  And that she frequently stole items from the other sister. 

Moving on.

Post college we moved into a two bedroom house across town.  A bunch of our stuff was stored in their house from June until September when we moved. They literally sat in the house while we loaded things into our vehicles and made multiple trips across town but did not offer to help for whatever reason. I believe that they came to visit us a few months after we moved in. Perhaps our living in sin?  Please see paragraph three for pot calling kettle. 

Then we got engaged.  New Zealand was our wedding location of choice – until MIL got wind of that and LOST HER SHIT. So we decided to get married in the US but not in TN (where we lived at that time) or PA (where we grew up).  When we announced our decision to get married in the Yellowstone/Grand Teton area, she asked us why we would do that since there was nothing for them to do there.  I know I am not the sharpest knife in the block, but I am pretty sure that is considered a tourist area.  This is also known as not what she would have done for her own wedding which was uber classy at four months pregnant, in Las Vegas and on Valentine’s Day. 

Wedding planning was horrific.  We had a wedding planner that did a lot of the work for us since we were over 2500 miles away from the actual location. We told her things like red flowers – not roses and she ran with it.  That was pretty much the extent of my crazy bridezilla.  Honestly, husband handled lots and lots of it because I was afraid of doing something wrong.  But again, I did something wrong because I didn’t share every detail with her.  When I attempted to include her, things were miserable for me.  I invited her and sister in law to come see my dress on the day that I ordered it.  It was a peace offering of sorts to make her feel involved.  You know what they spent the time doing?  Well, let’s have SIL who was single with no prospects at the time try on some dresses.  Happy special day to you Stephanie!  At the same time my own mother couldn’t be there simply because of the distance.  So that important moment felt really important. 

We ended up having a sit down discussion with stepFIL, MIL, husband and I.  I flat out said – I know you don’t like me and I don’t know why.  I honestly don’t remember much of the conversation but I know that I spent the morning before the “meeting” in the bathroom at work getting sick because I was so nervous/upset.  The jist of it came to this.  She is the kind of person that is use to her daughters sharing every single life detail with her.  I mean in the sense that I have seen both of his sisters and his mother naked and they tell each other about their sex lives.  I did not grow up in a family that shares that kind of thing, so it makes me uncomfortable. So basically I spent this meeting apologizing for not being who she wanted me to be. 

They missed our wedding rehearsal due to stopping for something to eat on their way to the cabin that we rented for both of our immediate families. But when we all got back to the cabin after the rehearsal, they were all sitting there chilling as they had been there for a few hours.  Hmmm.  Thanks for making that moment special too.  They left the day after our wedding and spent an entire three days, including travel time, in the Grand Teton area. 

I skipped the part about how she invited random people to my bridal shower hosted by a good friend. Random people as in someone I had never met.  She also sent an email to the entire family listing their faults after the wedding telling us each what was wrong with us and that she really thinks she was depressed after the wedding not being what she had hoped.  BTW, her husband is fat and my husband/her son only thinks about himself, her one daughter is a spoiled brat and the other is lazy and going to waste her life if she doesn’t get on track.  I’ll just gloss over the words that she had for me.  I don’t know how my husband ever became focused on taking care of himself when she left him at eleven and moved to Kentucky.  I think it could have been that his father was a full fledged alcoholic and he pretty much raised himself.

Six months later we moved back to PA and it was better. Really and truly nine hours apart better.  We even managed to stay in a house together for five days for my SIL’s wedding and then spend four days together one year at Christmas.  Then I got pregnant and it seemed like things were getting even better.  In part, my sister noted, because I wasn’t just the wife of her son any more but now I was the holder of her grandchild. 

Since I only have a little bit of time, I have to stop at that point for nwo.  But don’t worry, I am so upset that the rest of the story will come shortly.