Friday, April 23, 2010

Grateful (but not Dead) (almost, though.)

I went for a run tonight. (Insert shout-out to Sarah because her mantra of "You can do it. You can do it. You can do it." runs through my mind when I feel like No Way Can I DO THIS. And FYI, you guys, I wear my shirt alla time when I run. It's my running shirt.)

At first, I was hating it. Hating the run, hating the pain, hating the feel of my butt fat bouncing up and down. Then my inner voice was like, "Hey, dumbass. Be grateful you can run."

So I am.

I am grateful I can run.  I am grateful for the good shoes I run in and the road I run on.  I am grateful for the fresh air and the blue sky. I am grateful for the time and space to do something healthy for myself. I am grateful for the music on my MP3 player.

I was most grateful when I hit that halfway point and turned back for home.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


It's been a week of pretty heavy thoughts.  Kids, though, they don't stop being themselves just because adults are "going through stuff."

Some things that make me smile:

A Princess-ism:

soapy soppeen: grocery shopping

How I know my kids are bonding with each other:

When there is much yelling and carrying on at the table at snack time, and I call out, "OK, who wants to go to their room instead of having snack?" My Princess yells, "Hurricane!" and the Hurricane yells, "Princess!" See? Their willingness to throw each other under the bus tells me that they are totally normal siblings.

Princess Fashion:

Stripes and prints and prints and stripes and some more stripes. Check. Pink and dark green and lavender and black. Check. Socks over tights. Check. A stuffed cat named Puppy. Check. Yeup, everything a Princess needs to stay on the cutting edge of fashion.

I don't even know what to say about this. I am pretty sure that is a Bakugan sticker on his forehead. He got in the drawer, but could not get out.

It's a good thing babies are cute.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Marriage, Part IV

My original plan was to get a job and ask Hot Stuff to leave.  Things became so awful between us, with all the fighting and silence and absence, that I told him even before I had found a job that I wanted him to leave.  He refused.  He wasn't giving up the house, and neither was I. I felt like I should keep the house because I was keeping the children; he felt like he should get the house because he paid for it. (Someone should tell this guy that I pay half the mortgage every month with Sweat Equity.)  Neither one of us budged for weeks.  It's impossible to maintain that level of emotion over the long term, so eventually we talked and decided that we needed to figure this shit out.  I told him I was sick of his constant disappearing act and complete lack of respect towards me; he told me he was sick of me controlling him.  We both agreed to change.

It lasted less than a week before he was going out till all hours.  I tried a new tactic; let him do his own thing and I'd do mine.  Perhaps when he saw that I was no longer waiting around for him, he'd realize that I was serious about not living with a part-time husband.  The only condition was that if he was going to be out drinking or wasn't home by the time I locked the door when I went to bed, he could find somewhere else to sleep. 

This is sort of what we've been doing up until now.  I say sort-of because in the last two or so months he's been out of town for work quite a bit, and when he's home, the rule still applies: be home without the smell of liquor on you before I lock the door or you're SOL.  There's been less of that, though.  Hot Stuff has been going out less, and I do recognize that it has a lot to do with him feeling less stress and gaining some of his self respect back by bringing home more money.  Still, it feels like we are in a holding pattern; there is a lot of unresolved stuff between us.

Sometimes when Hot Stuff is out of town, I start thinking things like, "Would this be my life if we split up?" I mean, when he's gone for a week or two or four, I am single parenting.  There's never any easy relief.  Yes, I can get a sitter. My only evening sitter charges $5 per kid per hour. Dinner and a movie GNO costs $60 in sitter fees alone.  I don't consider that "easy." 

If we did split up

Would I still get that hopeful feeling that he might be home and I might see his truck in the drive when I crest the small rise before our driveway? Would my eyes be drawn to pick up trucks that look like his? Would I always be hoping to run into him?

How much is too much? Where is the line between

this is a really rough patch, keep at it


what the fuck am I still doing here?

Where is the line between

my marriage is worth this battle


this battle is a losing one?

Where is the line between

don't give up easily, fight for your family


the only thing worse than being in a bad marriage for two years is being in a bad marriage for three years?

Do I stay or do I go? Do I want to be single? No.  Do I want to be married to a part-time husband? No. Do I want to be married to the man I married 7 years ago? Yes. Do I want to be married to the man I am currently married to? Not really. Sometimes. Sometimes, when the man I am currently married to is the same man I married 7 years go. Do I think my marriage is worth saving? Yes, if I am not fighting the battle to save it by myself.

Sometimes, I am very lonely.  Very married and very lonely.  When my husband is home, sometimes I am lonely.

If I were to leave,

I know I would be alone.  Alone, I can do. Alone, I kind of enjoy. I like me. But I would still be lonely.  I would not miss having a companion, I would miss Hot Stuff.

I have suggested marriage counseling.  I got some resistance to it.  Funny, something Hot Stuff said made me really happy.  "I don't know if counseling is worth it, because I don't know if I want to be with you." Finally, finally I felt like I was hearing the truth, and not whatever he felt would pacify me.  He has agreed to see a counselor with me.  He is out of town right now, so I think I may book an appointment for late next week, when hopefully he'll be back home.

I do know that now I am strong enough to walk away.  I mean, I have always been able to do it, I just didn't think I could with two babies and a toddler. I don't want to walk away without trying everything.  I do think there is something worth saving here.  I love my husband, and I'm not ready to call it quits yet.

So here we are.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Marriage, Part III

I remember the first few years Hot Stuff and I were together.  We were pretty rock-steady.  We usually had one major whopper of a fight per year.  That's pretty good, I think.  We never took each other too seriously.  We never put our relationship or each other under a microscope to be examined or picked apart. We were easy with each other and there was always a good rhythm between us.  Basically, our relationship was low maintenance.  Over the last five years, our marriage has changed - starting pretty much with the birth of the Hurricane.  Nobody can predict what effect having a child will have on a marriage.  I think I changed drastically right away; the realization that I held someone's life above mine hit immediately. Hot Stuff changed somewhat, after a while.  (And by the way, what is up with the fucking myth that men are awesome with babies? That's a load of shit.  Any pregnant women reading this ought to know that lots of men are coolly disinterested in babies until they become fun, at about 6 months.  Just lettin' you know.) Having a baby settled him down, some.

Just like my body after popping out a kid, our relationship was not as firm and fresh as it was before.  It was a lot more work not to snap and go completely fucking insane on Hot Stuff after a night of crying baby, sore boobs, and no sleep.  Eventually, though, our relationship evened out. We got the happy, easy rhythm back.  We got the not-takin-you-seriously back.  Things were smooth again, even including our little Hurricane and his super big personality.

My pregnancy with the Princess was healthy and happy.  We were just a family of three waiting for our Even Number.  We got her, and she was (and still is) a living doll (nowadays, sometimes closer to Chucky than Pretty Baby Pee-Pee Pants).

Can I tell you about the last time I went grocery shopping and bought a pregnancy test? I don't know why I did it.  The Princess was just a tiny baby; I was on the pill, and I was breastfeeding.  That's practically like surrounding my uterus with a moat and then stocking the moat with piranhas and man- sperm-eating alligators.  I had been feeling "weird" for a couple of weeks. Honestly, I think I felt "pregnant" but was too scared to admit it to myself.  Hence, I figured I'd take a preg test, have it come up negative, and go on with life.  Only it was not to be.  I peed on the stick.  The stick had two bright pink lines even as the pee was crossing the second line.  I did not have to wait for some faint-ass is-it-positive-or-is-the-lighting-just-bad positive. It was positive. I took the stick downstairs and went out the front door, where Hot Stuff was having a smoke.  I had the stick in my hoodie pocket.  I started laughing.  I kept laughing. Hot Stuff kept asking me, "What the hell is wrong with you?" I laughed until I was shaking and tears were rolling down my face.  Then I was crying.  Then I was giving him the stick with the two pink lines.  Then he was staring at me. "Are you sure?" No, dumbass, I'm not sure.  I mean, I peed on the stick, yes it's my pee, but there has to be a problem with this lot of pregnancy tests.  I'm going to check it out on the internet, because I am sure as hell not pregnant as I already have a 2 and a half year old hellion and a 3 month old baby.  Not. For. Real.

For. Real. Once it sank in, I was happy.  My third child was a complete and utter surprise.  There is no negative connotation in that statement.  Simply, I did not go from pee on the stick to immediately overjoyed like I did with the first two. I made a few stops with this one, including scared and overwhelmed.

I discovered this pregnancy sometime in spring 2008.  After my terrible summer, Hot Stuff lost his very high paying job in October - a month before Little Dude was born and a couple of weeks before the Princess turned one. He got hired on at a different company doing a job that paid less and was a few giant steps back on the ladder.  I know it killed him.  It killed him to have to step back.  It killed him to have to take a job that he despised, because it came with a guaranteed salary.  A job that forced him to face what he thought was a lesser man in the mirror.  A job that forced him to show up every day and work for 8 hours doing something he hated.  A job that I specifically asked him to not take any out of town work; to only work in or around town, thus drastically cutting down on his ability to make a decent wage, instead of just his guaranteed salary. As a mother to three and feeling incredibly insecure, I needed him to be close to home. As a family, we needed him to have that job.  That job, as shitty as it was for him, saved our butts.  So, so many people went under in 2009 because the ass fell out of the oil and gas sector.  There was no work.  To have a job, even a crap one, that paid our bills was a godsend. None of that ever mattered to Hot Stuff.  His self worth and identity seemed to be so tied to his muckety-muck job and high dollar paycheck, that he could never see himself as anything but a failure for losing both.

And so it began.  Going out after work a few days a week turned into everyday, turned into staying out late, turned into sometimes on the weekends too, turned into big, big problems at home.  I felt very angry, abandoned, resentful, and I felt like I was drowning.  I would ask (beg/plead/cajole) him for help; for him to be home for dinner, help with the kids, help at bedtime, a hug and a conversation after the kids were in bed.  I got the answers I wanted to hear, but I never got the actions to back it up.  I felt enormous pressure to squeeze a dime out of every nickel; from my perspective, Hot Stuff didn't have to give up any of his fun money. I became very resentful that I literally had to figure out groceries down to the dollar to stay under budget, but he was still smoking as much as he wanted and going out whenever he wanted. As I said in a post a while ago, the more I expected from him, the more he pushed away from me.  The more he didn't live up to my expectations, the angrier I would become.  I put so much of my own energy into forcing him to be what he wasn't or couldn't be or didn't want to be. I just felt so overwhelmed.  I think I felt that if I could control him, then I at least had some measure of control over one thing in my life. It blew up in my face.

Towards the end of 2009, things got better financially but worse in our marriage.  Hot Stuff switched companies and started going out in the field to work and making more money.  Things between us had deteriorated so much that I was thinking about a separation.  I started looking for a job at Christmas time, and found one in fairly short order.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Marriage, Part II

I have said before that 2009 was the worst year of my life.  2008 was just as awful, but because 2009 was a continuation of the shittiness, I always call 2009 the worst year ever.

Something in my marriage changed, if I am entirely honest about things, the summer my mother died (2008).    Two weeks before my mom died, my aunt and my sister both told me that she was dying.  I had been keeping in touch with my dad, and he said  we were playing a waiting game to see if the last round of radiation had shrunk the cancer.  (Radiation can take up to two weeks to have an effect.)  My dad seemed calm and rational and hopeful; what I didn't know is that he was in deep denial.  He could not face that his wife was dying, so instead he dug his heels in and kept his hope alive by telling himself, and me, that we just had to hang in there.  What he didn't tell me is that she was in so much pain that she cried constantly when she was awake and mostly the doctors were snowing her. (This is also known as keeping her comfortable by doping her into unconsciousness.  Don't judge.  If you have never seen someone crying and writhing in pain, you don't know what it's like.)  I was so scared.  I did not want my mom to die before I could say goodbye. I had my own children and my niece and nephew staying with me for that whole week, as my brother and sister in law had gone on a trip.  I had to wait until they got back before I could fly home and see my mother.  Hot Stuff was so supportive; he offered to come with me, to drive me, to do whatever I wanted to do.  I asked him to stay with the kids and not take any work until I got back.

Going back home and being with my mom and watching my dad suffer was hard.  It was so incredibly hard to see my mother dying, fighting, refusing to let go, burning through the morphine and the hydromorphone and the other super-narcotics in different combinations and being in agony, and my father dying with her. The crying, the crying out for her own mother, the lucid moments of talking to her and telling her again how much I loved her, the long periods of restful and restless sleep and telling her to let go, just go. The apneic periods when I wondered if she was gone and feeling happy and relieved and sad; seeing her start to breathe again, and feeling happy and relieved and sad. The seizures which scared me at first then became routine.  Oh Mom, another seizure, I'll ring for the nurse. My beautiful, strong, amazing mother turning to dust right in front of me.  Fighting so hard to stay alive when the cancer was everywhere.  Losing the battle, but fighting it every inch. Every day, twice or three times a day, for two weeks, I would walk up to the hospital to sit with my mom for four hours to give my dad and my aunt some relief. At the end of the day, I would call Hot Stuff at home and he would ask me how I was doing, was I okay, was I taking care of myself (I was 7 months pregnant with Little Dude).  I would say, okay, yes, yes.  He would tell me about our two at home and assure me that the world had not come to a screeching halt without me.  Until the beginning of the third week.  I don't know what caused it, whether he had a bad day or what, but he started pressuring me to come home.  I was shocked when he said that I should come home right away because, "it's been two weeks already, you need to be home with your kids." He got angry when I replied that no, I needed to be with my dying mother, for as long as it took her to die.

As much as it may seem so, I am not trying to vilify Hot Stuff. This was just so hurtful that it was like the first chink in the marriage armor.  Each phone call after that first one was tense because he kept at it; telling me I needed to come home right away.  Me telling him he could suck it if he thought I was coming home one minute before I was ready.  My mom died halfway through the third week, and I came back home.  Once I got back, Hot Stuff was back to supportive and caring and tender. (My cynical side wants to throw a dig in here, "Yeah, because he got what he wanted.")  Two weeks later I drove back to BC with my brother and sister in law and all 4 of our kids, for my mom's memorial ash-spreading.  Hot Stuff offered to take time off of work and drive me and the kids, but I told him no.  I felt I needed to stand on my own.  (I wonder if this made him feel excluded. Not that he would have said anything.  He hates my hometown. Thinks it sucks.) Part of me now wishes I had said yes, and part of me still thinks I made the right decision.

The thing of it is, these little nicks and chinks in the marriage armor don't always buff out.  I have definitely forgiven Hot Stuff for getting angry and being very selfish when I needed him to be completely selfless.  I haven't forgotten, though.  I never will.  I feel like I reached out for a helping hand and got my hand slapped, instead.  It made me wary.  It made me feel unsure about Hot Stuff's willingness to give me emotional support.  That doesn't sit right with me.  Shouldn't I feel completely solid that Hot Stuff will catch me when I fall, no matter what?

Am I asking for too much? Are most men like this? Am I asking him to give me something that men don't have to give?

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Marriage, Part I

Bear with me as I work through some stuff.

March was, on the whole, a pretty good month for Hot Stuff and I.  We were getting along, he was home quite a bit, I got to go out without the kids and do fun no-kids grown up stuff.  I was starting to feel that our marriage was getting to more stable, comfortable ground.

Last Tuesday morning, I took the Hurricane to preschool and when I got back at 10, Hot Stuff said he was going out to get supplies for work, as he would be heading out of town the next day. (Hot Stuff's job frequently takes him out of town for extended periods of time.  This is how it is, and how it always has been.  I've never had an issue with it - with the exception of Little Dude's birth, when I asked him to stay close to home for quite a few months.  I did not feel like I could manage things completely on my own.)  I asked him if he would be home before lunch, and he said he would.

He did not come home until 7 am the next morning.  I called him a couple of times on Tuesday but figured out by supper that he was not going to be coming home. I wasn't frantic with worry, or anything.  I mean, I was a bit worried, but definitely more pissed off.  After he got home, I spent Wednesday morning stomping around and ignoring Hot Stuff until he left for work.

He called on Wednesday night and left a message, but I haven't called him back.  It's Sunday night. I'm being stubborn.  I don't want to talk to him. I am tired of always being the one to hold out the olive branch; to open the lines of communication; to suggest a hundred different compromises to solve an argument. I'm sick to death of always having to give up and give in because he absolutely refuses to budge, let alone meet in the middle.  It's gotten real old, having to explain time and time again that doing things that hurt my feelings hurts my fucking feelings and I deserve a damn apology.  An apology that may or may not be given.

I love my husband, but he can be a very hard man.  It literally feels like running into a brick wall, trying to explain why I'm upset and why things like staying out all fucking night without a phone call are hurtful.  And disrespectful.  And generally a shitty thing to do.

So that's why I haven't called him back.  Because I'm tired of explaining, compromising, giving in, not getting an apology or any kind of acknowledgment of "I fucked up"-ness, and sucking up the hurt.  I do not want to turn my back on 10 years together. So my internal conversation goes like this:

Me: I'm so fucking tired of this bullshit.

Me: What are you going to do, leave?

Me: No. I'm going to give him a taste of his own medicine. I'm going to dig in my heels and let him twist, for once.

Me: You know that's childish.

Me: Yup. And I don't care. Hrmph. I'm gonna do it anyways.

Me: What is it going to solve?

Me: Nothing. But it's making me feel better.

Me: Is this what is best for your marriage?

Me: I am thinking about what is best for me, in the most selfish way.

Me: Hot Stuff is not your Mortal Enemy in a Fight To The Death. Marriages are living, breathing things that need patience and care and constant maintenance to stay alive.  Communication is the roots.  Ignore the roots and the plant dies.

Me: I'm still not going to call him.

Me: You're being stupid.

Me: I know you are but what am I?

You see? I'm being childish and irrational but for the first time in a long time, I don't feel angry and resentful about caving in, once again.