Tuesday, November 24, 2015

I Give Up

I give up. I give up on trying to make us a family. It’s too hard and it’s only important to me and Sophie; it’s not important to Jeff or Ethan. And if it’s not important to Jeff, it won’t happen.

He told me last night that eating dinner together as a family – which we do MAYBE ONCE A WEEK (when we have Ethan) “stresses” him out. Last night we had Ethan and I went to the store and got taco stuff; I had suggested tacos and Jeff agreed. I came home with the stuff and Jeff kicked me out of the kitchen to brown the meat but I was arranging the taco shells on the baking sheet to get warm, cutting up the tomatoes and getting out the other ingredients – salsa, cheese, lettuce, etc.

He wasn’t even making sense. He complains about going out to eat all the time and wants to eat at home, so we ate at home, and he said “well I don’t understand why we couldn’t have just grabbed something along the way and then gone and done something together.” Well we can’t go DO something together when nobody ever agrees on what TO do together. I wanted to decorate the tree but that wasn’t important to Jeff so it didn’t happen. Instead, at 7pm, he and Ethan decide to go bowling. They invited us girls but we said no.

He said “We should do something outside before dinner instead of spending all this time preparing dinner and eating.” Well tacos are just about one of the quickest dinners you can pull together but WHATEVER. And we can’t go outside and DO something because he doesn’t get home with Ethan until after five and then it’s DARK. Not to mention it’s COLD.

Tonight we don’t have Ethan, only Sophie which means Jeff will work late, or go out and not tell me where he’s going, whether it’s a work thing or drinks with a colleague for networking or visiting his friend Dan – yes just last week I had to finally text him at 7 and say, “Are you still alive??” because he wasn’t home and I hadn’t heard from him. Anyway, tonight he is kid free which means he’s off parenting duty which means he will sit in the sunroom and smoke cigars and watch tv and drink all night. And on Friday night when we have Ethan but not Sophie, he’ll let Ethan have a bunch of friends over so he can sit in the sunroom and drink and smoke cigars and watch tv, and Ethan will treat me like a piece of furniture, barely a passing ‘hi’ and I don’t have any friends so I will have nowhere to go and will probably just lay in bed reading.

I give up. I normally make a calendar every year fro my parents with pics of us and the kids, highlighting milestones of the year – and I started it but I’m not in the mood to finish it. I have my xmas cards designed and ready to go – Sophie gave me some help with them – but if I show it to Jeff, he will complain about the photos I chose or the layout I chose or the background I chose but he would never ever create his OWN Xmas card and frankly l just don’t feel like sending them out at all. What is the point, exactly? Xmas cards are nearly obsolete anyway with facebook etc. – you already know what the kids have been up to and how they’ve grown and what they look like – I mean WHAT IS THE POINT.

Sorry but clearly I’m in a really bad mood right now.

Because apparently my husband cannot STAND to dine together as a family one lousy day out of 7. It’s just TOO STRESSFUL for him.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

School Stress

So…we have a big decision to make coming up. Sophie is currently in 5th grade and will start middle school next year. Jamie does not like the school she’s assigned to because he is a snob. He doesn’t think the students and parents there “fit” with Sophie’s “socio-economic status” or are the ‘type’ of people he wants Sophie being friends with/hanging out with. Total snob. In reality though, we are in a good school district, but the school she is assigned to does get the lowest reviews within that school district. We attempted to request a transfer to a different school within the district, which is about a block from my office. But the principal said that school is “busting at the seams” and is not accepting any transfer requests.

Jamie hates the school that Sophie is assigned to SO MUCH SO that he and TT are willing to pay for private school. (Not to mention he’s never been INSIDE the school or knows anybody who goes there but whatever).

For a while he was pushing the public school in his neighborhood, which is rated high but would be a 20 minute commute for me and just doesn’t make sense when my office is only 10 minutes away…besides, Sophie doesn’t live there, she lives with me. Sophie came home the other weekend pushing that school and I was afraid that Jamie was manipulating her into wanting that school that would eventually turn into “Well it just makes sense for her to live with me” which would break my heart into twenty thousand pieces.

Unfortunately, moving is not an option for me and Jeff. Yes Jamie and TT live in a desirable neighborhood but Jeff & I can’t afford to live where they live, nor can we afford to live where Marcy lives so that Ethan and Sophie could go to the same school, NOR can we afford to move at all since Jeff & Marcy bought the house we are in in 2006, at the height of the market, and it is just not worth nearly as much as what they paid for it, so we would LOSE money. Jeff says we are stuck in the house for a while.

When I think about it though, paying for private school is probably, in the end, actually cheaper than moving. I’m not sure, but I am guessing.

I don’t object to Sophie going to private school but since Jamie is the one pushing it, he can be the one to pay for it. I mean, it’s not like we’re in city schools. It’s not like we’re in a non-accredited district. The district on a whole is a very desirable district for people to live in because they want their kids in those schools. It’s just that Jamie doesn’t think the school she’s assigned to is “right” for Sophie.

I know this is confusing; esp. since I can’t mention school district or school names for you know, privacy and all that. Am I explaining this right?

Anyway, Jamie went to Catholic schools his ENTIRE life. He actually thinks that public school education is better, if you are in the right district (again this is just his opinion and he only knows St. Louis) but if our desired public school won’t accept Sophie as a transfer, and it looks that way, and I don’t want Sophie going to the school in Jamie’s neighborhood because it will be a logistical nightmare for me, and I don’t want Sophie living with Jamie because my heart would never repair itself (not because I don’t think Jamie and TT are capable of caring for her, but because I AM HER MOTHER), then I guess the only option IS private school. And it doesn’t necessarily have to be a CATHOLIC private school; neither Jamie nor I go to Catholic church anymore (he recently started taking the kids to a non-denominational Christian church, and Sophie and I go to a Lutheran church). So anyway, we both did a lot of research. I don’t know about your area, but private schools around here range greatly in tuition rates. There are some that are 5k-8k/year (for middle school) up to 18k per year. Obviously anything in the 18-20k range is OUT, OUT, OUT.

The reason we want to make this change now is because middle school is change in of itself, and you are kind of starting over in a way since the public schools in our district are quite large (by St. Louis standards), and many elementary schools feed into the middle school, so you are with different people anyway. For me, I really want Sophie to go to middle school with the kids she’ll go to high school with, so there is one private school we are looking at that is near my office that is not attached to the HS but all the kids from middle school ‘K’ go to high school ‘W.’ Does that make sense? But if she goes to a different middle school, then HS is another change and it’s between a co-ed private school (our preference) or an all-girls Catholic school. Jamie reminded me that here in St. Louis, if you send your kid to a private Catholic school, they are starting over anyway since there are many choices and kids/parents pick the best fit for them.

The reason why this stress is NOW even though Sophie won’t start middle school until August of 2016, is because the private schools’ application deadlines are in January. So now we have to schedule tours and look at costs and logistics and options…UGH! It’s severely stressing me out. And do Jamie and I check out the school FIRST, then if we think it’s a viable option, bring Sophie back? Because we wouldn’t want her to get too excited about something that we don’t actually think is a good fit.

I just have to pray for guidance I guess. But I am impatient and I want it all figured out NOW NOW NOW. Which is fine because apparently it all has to be figured out by January. AGGHHH!!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My Body is Perfectly Healthy, But My Brain is Not

So good news/bad news.
Good news: ALL of my blood work came back normal. Hormone levels, thyroid levels, NORMAL. No diabetes, no celiac disease. Vitamin D levels: Normal.
Bad news: This means my brain is not normal. And I can’t blame my behavior or thinking on hormones.
Remember when I said if I don’t “run,” I go insane? Well, last night was proof of that.
I hadn’t worked out in three days because I was being lazy. And I paid for it last night.
I basically threw a temper tantrum, which is oh so sophisticated of me at age 38.
We were trying to think of something to do on Friday night together as a family but the winter doldrums had set in. By the time we all got home and got dinner, it was going to be pitch black out and chilly so outside activities were out. Anything Ethan wanted to do, Sophie didn’t want to do, and vice versa. Jeff was doing his best to mediate, but it was frustrating, man. SO frustrating. Then Ethan said, “You know, maybe the reason why we can’t agree on anything is because we are a boy and a girl.” And I said, “Well, there are plenty of families with boys and girls and they manage to do stuff together. Sophie and Sutton do stuff together all the time.” Then Sophie says, “Yeah, but we’re 6 years apart.” So that’s when my tantrum started and I go, “FINE! We WILL NEVER EVER DO ANYTHING TOGETHER AS A FAMILY JUST FORGET ABOUT IT.” And then Sophie literally screamed, “Mom, WHY CAN’T YOU JUST LET THIS STUFF GO??!?” And that’s when I literally grabbed my purse and stormed out the door and got into my car.
I just had to GET AWAY and go for a drive and cool down.
I am SUCH a good role model.
God was I embarrassed. I’m still embarrassed writing this now.

I played therapist to myself during my drive. You can gag if you want or think I’m making up excuses for myself, that’s fine. But I think at the heart of it all is that I always wanted a family. And that chance was ripped away from me when Jamie walked away (or it was all my fault and I ruined it by making life so miserable he needed to walk away) and now I have a second chance and I am RUINING IT AGAIN. I realized that I am forcing it. Being a blended family is so much harder than I imagined. The kids used to get along! They used to play together! But now they are going in different directions, maturing differently, and have different interests. But I realized I am trying to force it. WE MUST BE A FAMILY. A FAMILY EATS TOGETHER. A FAMILY DOES STUFF TOGETHER ON THE WEEKENDS. WE ARE NOT A FAMILY.

We are not a family? Really? Since WHEN, exactly, I asked myself, did my definition of “family” become so stringent? Were Sophie and I not a family when it was just us? Is Summar not my family? Yes and yes.

Was I too idealistic? Yes and no, maybe.

I came back after 15 minutes or so and when I came in, the kids and Jeff were playing Black Jack with goldfish. They were all smiling and laughing and having a good time. I walked in and immediately said, “I apologize for my outburst and I am sorry.”
“We forgive you, Mommy.” Sophie said, reaching toward me to give me a hug. “It’s all over now, we got past it. Come, sit and play with us.”
“Farrell, I want to tell you about my idea,” Ethan says.
“Yeah, listen to this – he came up with this all by himself,” Jeff says proudly.
The idea was that we make Sunday Family Day. And I said but what about church and Hebrew school and your mom always asks for you back early, Ethan. “Well, if she does, I’ll just tell her, ‘Nope, sorry, it’s family day.’” It will be light out, we have all afternoon, we can play in the fort, we can play outside; we don’t have to go anywhere…we can just hang out and do whatever.
I appreciated the plan.
I was still embarrassed.
I was still a bit sad.
I cried in Jeffrey’s arms after the kids were in bed.
I worry that if things get bad enough – if I get bad enough, miserable enough, he too will walk out. Walk away.
When I’m REALLY mad at myself, I tell Jeffrey to call Jamie. I tell him, “Now you see why he left!”

But Jeff promises me, in the most delightful way, “Sorry babe, but we are stuck with each other.” :)

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Everything is Amplified

I start out feeling great - I love waking up early and having that first cup of coffee while the house is still silent. But as the day goes on, I get more and more “poopy.” My mood dwindles. Declines. By the time it gets dark (at like fucking 5 o’clock!), depression and crankiness sets in. 

Anyway, Jeff & I have very different parenting perspectives which creates some issues from time to time. Last night for example, we only had Ethan. I did the grocery shopping after work and picked up dinner for Jeff to grill. I come home and Ethan is sitting on the couch looking at his phone - very typical. Jeff & I unload the groceries and prepare dinner. Jeff sets the table. Jeff asks Ethan questions, each 5 times - i.e. Do you want a salad? Do you want broccoli? What do you want to drink? But Ethan was still staring at his phone so each question was asked five times. During dinner, I mentioned again that I would be willing to make brownies, and Ethan said “You BETTER make brownies!” I think he was trying to be funny. Then he asked for gooey butter cake cookies which we already had and I said well I’m not making brownies then - one or the other, it’s up to you. He chose the cookies; no big deal. Jeff goes, “Yeah, Farrell take a night off baking” which was hilarious because Betty Crocker I am not. 

Then Ethan was saying that his mouth hurt because he has a cut on his gum or something; he took a flashlight and looked in the mirror and then showed me. “Oh, it’s a cold sore,” I said. He was just getting over a sinus infection. “Is there anything we can do for that?” Jeff asked. “Yeah, we have carmex.” We had just the regular lip kind but in a pinch, it could work. I showed it to Ethan and told him how to put it on. “Do I eat it?” I laughed. No, you don’t eat it, buddy, you just dab it on your cold sore. “No thanks,” he said. Okay……So he called his Mommy. Understandable. Understandable but you know Farrell isn’t a mom and doesn’t know what the hell she is talking about? Marcy freaked and was like, “No that won’t work. Your dad needs to go to the store and get the real cold sore medicine or am I going to have to come down there to pick you up?” Sheesh. So I went to the store - my third trip of the day - and lookie what I found:
On the left: what we had at home; on the right: trip to store
Granted, there are different ingredients, but like I said, what we had at home would have worked in a pinch. 

After he went to bed, Jeff & I were chatting. “Boy, he was so sweet tonight.” I guess we have different perspectives. Don’t get me wrong - he’s a great kid. But the fucking goddamn phone. I can’t parent Ethan and I can’t tell Jeff how to parent (I’ve tried both, with disastrous results). Ethan doesn’t listen to anything Jeff says, and if that’s the case, he sure as hell won’t listen to me, which is blaringly obvious. 

I told Jeff that we need to sit the kids down and make up a chore chart. BOTH of our kids need to start taking more responsibility around the house. 

Anyway, I just feel like a dumb girl who knows nothing. That’s how those boys made me feel last night, even if they didn’t mean to.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

So This Bugs Me

The good news is my primary care doc did all the blood tests I asked her to do! She is testing my thyroid levels, vitamin D levels and hormone levels, and is also testing me for celiac disease and diabetes. So hopefully tomorrow I will have a bit more clarity on at least SOMETHING, I’m praying. But the rest of this post isn’t really about that.

It’s about the children.

So, Ethan & Sophie used to play together and they got along great. Then they started acting like siblings and would either be: playing together, ignoring each other, or bickering. NOW, however, or I should say lately, Ethan does not have any interest in playing with Sophie whatsoever, even though she tries to suggest things that she knows he likes, like Xbox or cards or basketball or soccer. Ethan is completely and totally over playing pretend, and Sophie is still very much into it. Maturity wise, Sophie is above Ethan’s level, but as far as acting like a teenager, Ethan is already there. His only interests are sports, friends, phone, and video games. Which isn’t unusual for an 11 year old boy I guess (I know NOTHING about 11 year old boys) but I know other 11 year old boys who DO still like to play pretend. I think there are a couple of reasons for this:
1 – I think Ethan’s mom over socializes him so much at her place, that the poor kid never has time to be alone, or to chill (I’ve said this before). Then he comes to our house and Sophie is like “Play with me! Play with me!”
2 – Sophie has a 4 year old brother on her dad’s side, so she is used to playing “little kid” games like dress up and pretend, and she enjoys it.

But what really pushed me over the edge the other day (a week or so ago, I forget), was when Jeff told me what Ethan had confided in him. This was as Jeff & I were going to bed; the kids already asleep. Ethan told his dad that his ears were bugging him and every single sound was super duper loud and he just couldn’t take Sophie’s high-pitched loud voice. Now I fully admit that Sophie can be LOUD (she is my daughter, after all). But Ethan can be equally loud. And it was interesting to note that this past weekend, like Friday night when Ethan had FOUR buddies over for a sleepover (and therefore I got to spend 0 time with him because I’m just invisible, a piece of furniture) THEY WERE SO, SO loud but funny enough, Ethan’s ears didn’t seem to bother him at all.


None of this is to say that one child is ‘better’ than the other. They are just different, and moving along the tween spectrum at different paces…but it would be nice if they could at least TRY to entertain each other once in a while.