Tuesday, April 5, 2016

"You Must Have Chaos Within You, To Give Birth To A Star"

There is a scene in the movie Watchmen that keeps coming up for me as I go through a pretty turbulent time in my life. 

Spoiler alert. 

Dr. Manhattan has left Earth and is establishing a life on Mars. He no longer cares what happens to humans because their recent behavior has shown him that their lives don’t matter to him anymore. The new Silk Spectre (Laurie Jupiter), Dr. Manhattan’s ex-girlfriend, is trying to convince him otherwise. He tells her she doesn’t understand and she asks him to show her. 

The original Silk Spectre, Laurie’s mom Sally, had an altercation years prior with another vigilante called The Comedian. After a photo shoot, The Comedian follows Sally into the room where she is changing and attempts to rape her. She fights him off and then others hear the scuffle and come in to help her. Years later, she ends up sleeping with The Comedian after all. Let’s just say that their relationship is... complicated. 

Through this discovery, Dr. Manhattan shows Laurie that her father is The Comedian. A man she has grown and been taught to hate. She falls to her knees and sobs. It is this, and only this, that gives Dr. Manhattan his epiphany. 

My life is a little chaotic right now. Johnny and I have decided to separate and I’ve asked him to move out. He is handling his struggles the way he always has - with alcohol - and it is making an already difficult situation even more stressful. Especially as I continue on with my sobriety. 

So many of my relationships have begun or been maintained through the fog of alcohol. I could look back and have so many regrets. I mean.. I DEFINITELY have some regrets... but when I look into the eyes of my sweet boy, I know that even though it hurts me to see another relationship end, the two of us needed to come together at this time in both our lives to create this perfect little person. And it's impossible to have regrets when I look at this. 

Of course I wish the perfect little family was there as well. But it’s not. So it’s my responsibility to make sure my baby never wishes things were different. I hope that Johnny will come around and be the dad I’ve seen before and know he can still be. But I can only control my actions so that’s what I’m focused on. And since I’m making these important decisions with sound body and mind and not after another week-long bender that ends in heartache and tears, I feel more confident that I’m finally making moves in the right direction. 

I’m pretty frustrated that life has to suck so much sometimes. But like attracts like and I’ve done my fair share of making irresponsible and chaotic decisions, leading to erratic and stressful situations. I’m hoping that my new choices will help bring positivity and happiness to me and my son. He deserves it. We deserve it. 

I deserve it.

Monday, March 28, 2016

I'll Get The Non-Alcoholic Drama Please

I celebrate 30 days of sobriety tomorrow. I’m feeling pretty grateful for my strength and determination. I literally take it day by day and I find it to be a lot easier to handle that way. Life has certainly challenged me, though. If I didn’t have this gorgeous child to focus my attention on, I may have lost my shit a few times and been a little more tempted to say “fuck it, dude. Let’s go drinking.” 

My meeting tonight was interesting. The topic was God. Or as many people in the program look at it, Your Higher Power. I quietly chuckled to myself... such a sense of humor your so-called Higher Power has... 

The sharing began. One by one, I heard stories of God. Some women shared about growing up in religious households. Others shared about having very little exposure to religion in their lives. A few talked about being God-fearing women. But everyone came together in giving their God credit for their sobriety. 

It’s a good sized group and with under an hour designated for sharing, not everyone has a chance to talk. As the time winded down, it looked like I was in the clear. I mean I could always pass but that's not really my style. But not getting picked to share to begin with? I was probably better off this week...  

As one woman finished, it was announced that there was only time for one more share. 

“You know who I’d like to hear from?” the last sharer announced, “Tina.” 

Guess I should’ve seen that coming. 

* * *

“Hi, I’m Tina. And I’m an alcoholic. I’m also an Atheist. 

“I’m laughing because it’s so appropriate that this subject would come up this week. You see, I made the cardinal sin of social media this week: I gave my opinion on something. Even worse, it was on religion. A work colleague, who has recently been exploring a newfound love of religion, called me out on my beliefs and after a conversation that started out as fairly adult turned snarky and passive aggressive, things ultimately ended in an unfriending. 

“Probably the worst part about being an Atheist is that when a situation presents itself where it’s appropriate to announce my beliefs, I typically get looks of sympathy. Like people feel so sorry for me that I don’t believe in God. 

“I grew up going to church off and on all the way into my early twenties. My parents weren’t overly religious. My alcoholic grandmother was very religious. She said I was going to hell because I wasn’t baptized. That was some of my earliest exposure to religion. And alcohol for that matter. 

“The older I got, the less church and its teachings made sense to me. I studied a few different religions but it all seemed to be one big made up story designed to make people feel better. And that wasn’t enough for me. So I turned away from religion and put my faith into things I could see, feel, touch and believe. Science made sense. Proof made sense.

“At the risk of sounding cold, there was really no love lost in this unfriending situation although I’ve had to run some interference at work as there is now a suspicious rumor going around that I ‘hate Christians’. Luckily, people I am truly close to have more respect and understanding of my beliefs and vice versa. However, it reminded me of the concern I had when I first considered attending these meetings. I avoided them because I figured everyone would ‘God’ me to death and I would feel alienated. Not only has that not happened, but this particular meeting has been one of my favorites and I’ve genuinely enjoyed listening to everyone’s shares. 

“I may not believe in God, but I think I can understand the concept of a Higher Power. For me, it’s my son. He just turned six months old. He is definitely the reason that I started coming to these rooms. However, what I’ve come to realize throughout these past 30 days is that the reason I keep coming... is because of me. Because I deserve it. 

“So thank you all for sharing and for being here. It makes me proud to have chosen the same path. 

“And no, I don’t hate Christians.” 

* * *

I drove home with a smile on my face. A real one. Which felt nice as there hasn’t been much to smile about lately. Home is rough. I’m sad about our situation and am not sure we can recover. I’m already working on a budget so that I can afford to stay in the house by myself. I have a shared-baby plan in my head. I’ve moved into the nursery and have been sleeping in there. Yeah, that kind of rough. 

But I’m still celebrating 30 days tomorrow. And there is still a lot to be happy and hopeful for. My son is still my everything and I know every decision I make is for him, even if it’s hard for me. 

I still don’t believe in God. But I do believe that my son was given to me for a reason. I was too stubborn, angry and depressed to do anything productive with my life before him. Now, I have every reason in the world to be great. It’s way more difficult, but that usually results in higher rewards. 

But I know I can't please everyone. And as far as those that don't like me or are uncomfortable with my beliefs, with 454 friends still left on Facebook and countless more in the real world, I don't believe I'll be missing that particular drama.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

I'm Tired of Being Tired

Last week at this time, I was getting ready to make dinner. We ate together before a friend of ours came over to watch Xander so we could get out for a few hours and play some Golden Tee and unwind. Date night for mom and dad. I’d been looking forward to it all week. 

Unfortunately, we showed up to the bar and immediately started drinking scotch. I mean, really? Why not just have a few beers? We’d been on a scotch kick for the past few weeks so I guess we figured, why stop now. 

I got wasted. I picked a fight with Johnny. He left me at the bar (because I refused to get in the car) and I walked home. It was only across the street. But still... I walked my drunk ass home. 

It wasn’t the worst I’d ever been drunk. Not at all. I didn’t black out like I did a few weeks ago when I got drunk at the bowling alley and Johnny had to carry both me AND Xander into the house. It's not the first time he's had to carry me. I didn’t get sick and then wake up next to the toilet, surrounded by vomit that didn’t quite make it in. That’s happened many times. And I didn’t start talking to someone else at the bar, end up going home with him and not remembering much after. That’s definitely happened before. It’s been years... but it’s happened. 

I like drinking. But I’m tired of being drunk. 

Any readers been here since the beginning? When I first started this blog almost six years ago, I was getting ready to go through a life change. I was turning 30, I was miserable and I wanted to try something different. If you go back and look at my first handful of posts, they talk about quitting. Quitting everything. Drinking, gambling, smoking and sex. I was going to quit everything for a full year and see how much more full my life could become. 

I lasted less than a month. 

The longest I’ve ever gone without drinking since I turned 21 was when I was pregnant with Xander. And when he got here, one would hope I would just continue not drinking. Get my shit together and be this awesome, sober mom. But, I didn’t. Part of it was a little of a “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” thing with Johnny as I resented him for continuing to drink so much, even though I kept asking him not to and everyone assured me he would change once Xander arrived. But really, I like to be drunk just as much as he does. So how could I really be that mad? 

But, I’m tired of the fights. I’m tired of the walks home. I’m tired of the hangovers and I’m so very tired of how much I hate myself the next day. 

I’d love to drink socially. But I’ve proven to myself time and time again that I can’t.

I’ve avoided 12 step programs for many reasons. I never wanted to admit the kind of problem I had. I also had a pretty negative association with these groups as I’ve always understood them to make you a victim. Admitting that you are powerless over alcohol. I mean, I’m in complete control, nothing is more powerful than me... she says as she takes another shot

But mostly, it’s the fact that I’m an atheist. Everything about 12-stepping is God, right? All that “God grant me” stuff and the Lord’s Prayer. Certainly I wouldn’t be accepted. Geez, if an alcoholic isn’t welcome in one of these groups, then I might as well just say fuck it. 

But I can’t. He needs me. Almost as much as I need him. 

In the past, I’ve talked myself out of quitting because I didn’t want to be boring. Drinking made me interesting. It made me funny. It made me confident. It made me feel sexy. 

All lies. It made me angry, sad and more depressed than ever. And I no longer feel the need to impress anyone. Except him. And boring is totally fine if it means I’m alive and present to be there for him.

So I went to my second meeting on Friday. I went by myself to a meeting close to my house. Actually, it was held at the hospital where I gave birth to my perfect little man. I was hoping it was a sign that I belonged there. My friend wanted me to go with her to another meeting but after an emotional week, I was feeling a little judged, a little like some assumptions were being made. I wanted to be somewhere no one knew me. Where I wasn’t afraid of being completely honest. 

I was so nervous and uncomfortable walking in. But as the people trickled in, one by one, and created this intimate group of ten or so (the normal, apparently, for this particular meeting), I started to feel like I had made a good call. I shared. I talked about my concerns as I’ve written them here. They were all so understanding. I got a 24 hour sober coin. It got passed around the room so everyone could touch it and give me their positive energy. They came up to me after the meeting and told me not to worry about my beliefs. I was reminded that the only requirement to be there was the desire to quit drinking. An anonymous member even bought me some literature for my journey. They hoped I would be back the next week. 

I cried in my car before leaving. I was so relieved and touched. 

I’m going to go to another meeting tomorrow. It’s at a church so I’m hoping I don’t burst into flames upon arrival... but it’s an all female meeting. I was told I was welcome to bring Xander as a few of the women have brought their babies before. One woman told me her kids were raised in the program as she joined at 20 years old and was now well into her 50s. Sober for 30 years. And still showing up. 

Things at home are still strange. Johnny is not tired the way I am. He is helping in that he is waiting until I’m asleep before he drinks or sneaking drinks when I’m in the other room. It’s okay.. I’ve decided to quit worrying about anyone’s battle except my own. I can’t change anyone but myself. And while I don’t like to look at myself as a victim, I’m not too proud to admit that I can’t do it on my own. 

So, I’ll keep going. I’ll probably work on the steps. Anything to help. Because while I may be tired of being drunk, picking up a drink is a very, very difficult habit to break. 

And I’ll keep sharing. I imagine my blogging will increase. I hope not to alienate or lose too many people... but again, my battle is bigger than those who wish to go on without me. 

We get the one life. That’s it. At least that’s what I believe. I don’t want to spend the rest of it tired, hating myself, wishing I had a way out. I want to be happy when I wake up, satisfied with the woman I am. Proud of the mother I’m becoming. I want to walk out into the world every day and say, “yeah... I got this shit.”

I want to be better. That's my journey. 

Monday, February 29, 2016

It's Been A Long Year

I came in off a dead end street. 
Walked in slow and took a back row seat; 
I knew I had nothing new to say. 
So many people looking so burned out 
I couldn't help feeling bad about just
Having to be there anyway. 

A friend of a friend from work came in. 
I never have known what to make of him, 
He'd always seemed to be so insincere to me. 
You know I've always been afraid of a 12 step crowd; 
They laugh too much and talk too loud 
Like they all know where everyone should be. 

It's been a long,
A long, long year. 
How did I get here? 

They were talking in a circle, I was by myself 
Everyone was telling everyone how they felt; 
It felt like so long since I'd been young. 
As the circle kept moving its way to the back 
I was wondering what I was going to say. 

In fact, I still didn't know
As it rolled off my tongue... 

It's been a long,
A long, long year. 
How did I get here? 

I didn't say a word all the way to my car 
But a little later on that night at the bar 
I was telling everyone how strange my day had been. 
They said "Brother, all you need is another shot" 
So I threw one down and said "thanks a lot" 
As I thought to myself "Well, here we go again". 

It's been a long,
A long, long year. 
How did I get here?

- Long Year, Todd Snider

* * *

It was basically how I expected it to be. The meeting, that is. I wasn’t required to share. Everyone was perfectly content allowing me to just be present. The friend I went with introduced me to a few people and filled me in on things as the meeting progressed. She offered me coffee and brought me a cookie. 

Someone I knew was there. Someone I knew from the past that I hadn’t see in a while. Someone that I saw when I was at a bar getting drunk. Out of all the meetings in all the places on all the different days, there he was. I didn’t know how to feel. I hadn’t planned on sharing anything but having him there made me feel embarrassed. But then I remembered he was there too. He didn’t share either. 

For an hour, I listened. I drank my coffee and listened. There wasn’t nearly as much God as I thought there would be, which was a relief. I mean, there was the Serenity Prayer to start, of course. And then the Lord’s Prayer to conclude. I didn’t say either one. I don’t care that everyone else did. 

Comfortable isn’t really the word I’d use. But it was okay. It was easy to be there. I related to a few things that were said and felt like I was supposed to be hearing them. I felt compelled to say something but didn’t. I wasn’t ready to share my story. 

At the end of the meeting, even if you didn’t share, they went around the room and everyone said their name. And as the words left my mouth, I knew that I had just made a decision that was going to change everything. 

“I’m Tina. And I’m an alcoholic.”

My reason

Friday, February 26, 2016

You Know What? I Don't Even Care... Just Fucking Vote For Someone

This motherfucker...

Okay, so my Facebook feed has been filled with a lot of anti-Trumpisms these days. It may seem like I am an un-supporter out of nowhere. That’s not the case. It’s just that I kept thinking of his candidacy as a joke. Totally and 100% laughable. Good times, lol. All that shit. And now, out of nowhere, Donald Trump is very likely going to be the next POTUS. 

Obviously, if I had my choice, I would not want this to occur. I mean, he’s racist, he’s sexist, he appears very ignorant to me, he feels superior to everyone and he takes no shame in being filthy, disgusting rich while so many struggle to have just enough. He truly is everything I want my son not to be. The idea of him running this nation is enough to make my stomach turn. And then throw up my last seventeen meals.

But what am I going to do? I’m not ACTUALLY going to move to Canada if he gets elected. I’m going to sit back and watch the ensuing shit show. 

Or am I? 

That may be what frightens me the most. Could there possibly be no shit show?

Eight years ago, I remember sitting in the Suncoast bowling alley, watching the polls as they reflected a winning Barack Obama. I remember sitting down on the steps and crying. I was overwhelmed with relief. Finally, we would have change. We would have something different. We would have a President that cared about the betterment of our nation. We would finally be rid of this hatemongering Bush administration. Things were looking up. 

I remember sitting there, feeling like change was truly upon us. And then my big brother walked up to me, scoffed at my tears and said, “do you really think this is going to make any difference at all?”

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m still an Obama supporter. I see the things he has done right and I don’t hate him for the things that he has done wrong. On a personal level, my life is better after having him in office. Maybe not life-changing, but I certainly don’t feel cheated as an American with him in office. But, has he given me the confidence to believe in politicians again? Has he made me feel like the world is a better place to raise my son? Would I want more presidents like him? Hmm... 

If you forced me into a corner and asked me which party I belong to, I guess I’d have to say I’m a Libertarian. Socially liberal while fiscally conservative. And Atheist. Good God that I don’t believe in, can we PLEASE elect a leader who won’t bring religion into the White House. Anyhow, I suppose that’s a completely different election. 

Here he is, making fun of a physically handicapped interviewer
Does it really not matter? In the big scheme of things? Will it not matter if Trump is our president? I mean, it could be interesting. Well, of course it’s going to be interesting. But could he truly do irreparable damages? Will Congress let him get away with that? Based on what I’ve seen the last eight years, there are enough opposing party members around to make sure Obama gets very little accomplished. Actually, that’s our M.O. lately - spending an entire presidency making sure the one we didn’t want elected gets very little done. Such efficient and productive politics. No wonder we are reverting to old school cases of racism and sexism. I almost feel guilt over my relief of giving birth to a white male. Yeah, pretty shitty, isn’t it?

Very appropriate, you ignorant monkey followers
I suppose the part that really bothers me is how embarrassing it’s going to be to have Donald Trump representing the United States. But in all actuality, we deserve it. We’ve become such a shit nation. A bunch of passive aggressive crybabies that feel entitled to things we have not yet earned. And now, as a result, we get some rich, arrogant and immature piece of shit looking like he’s the BETTER choice than all the other usual suspects running for president. The talking heads of Washington. We deserve this for being gluttonous and ignorant. Such a sad, sad state of affairs. 

I’m voting. I mean, duh. Anyone who takes the time to say how much they despise a certain candidate and then wakes up on Election Day and realizes it’s too much trouble to drive down the street, stand in line and drop a ballot deserve to be ruled by an ape. 

But I dunno... maybe I’m more ignorant than I realize. Maybe we have become the kind of country that needs a ruler like Trump to make any kind of difference. Maybe a year or two from now I’ll be eating my words, admitting I was wrong. Agreeing that you have to be a bigoted asshole in today’s bigoted world to really show change. Maybe the passive aggressive nature of previous presidents has driven us to this. Maybe, just maybe, this gigantic piece of negative, angry and self-righteous turd can lead us to something great. 

And if so? If he succeeds? 

Then, and only then... that's when I’ll move out of the country.

Ryan Reynolds said it's okay. And Deadpool is way more popular than any candidate running. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Anyone Can Be a Father, But it Takes a Lot to Be a Daddy

“As baby is crying in the middle of the night, my husband rolls over and tells me that his doctor insists that he needs a full eight hours of sleep a night. Are you freaking kidding me????” 

“Last night my three month old was still awake at 11:30pm and I wanted to go to bed. I gave him to my husband (who had been playing his Xbox for the past couple of hours) and I went to bed. Fifteen minutes later, my husband brings our baby to me and says, “He’s kind of fussy and spit up on me and all that fun stuff so yeah, sorry.” He lays our baby next to me and goes back to playing his game. Our son immediately starts crying so I get up and eventually rock him back to sleep. Do I have a right to be mad or should I just get over it?”

“All day my baby has been fighting his sleep worse than ever. When my husband texted me asking how my day was going, I said not good considering our three month old was literally screaming and crying because he was so tired. When my husband got home, I made dinner early and then told him I was so tired after today and last night (where my baby woke up every hour) and that I was going to go to sleep when the baby did which was going to be around 6:30pm. Well, I got baby to sleep but then my husband comes in the room all loud and careless and wakes the baby. Now I’m still up with a crying baby and my husband is snoring. How do you keep yourself from wanting to fully explode?”

“How do I deal with my very non-supportive husband? He is very against my choice of breastfeeding and so is his family. He is saying that he will not allow me to breastfeed my child past six months. I’m having a really hard time. “

And finally... 

“Dear Husband, 

As you snore soundly and happily in the other room, I can’t help but imagine myself coming to your bedside and slapping the shit out of you with your son’s freshly pooped butt. It’s 1:29am and I still have not had a break all day. Yet here you are, snoring off to dreamland while your teething three month old son keeps crying and your 21 month old daughter is laying on half my body. 

My breakfast was a cup of tea that had been warmed up in the microwave three times before actually drinking it at 11:00am. My lunch was your uneaten dinner from last night and I inhaled it today at 4:00pm. Dinner followed at 10:00pm, a bowl of leftover spaghetti with olive oil and salt (all I could muster with my remaining energy) which was consumed in seconds over the sink as soon as it popped out of the microwave. All the sustenance I could consume before your son decided to wake up. You, of course, had walked in the door about 30 minutes before my “dinner” from a bar where you got to unwind with some beer and pool after finishing your work day. Naturally, you’re on the couch and actually pick little man up only to hand him over to me five minutes later because he “must be hungry”. 

I seriously hate you right now. How do you not wake up to the sound of either crying child? When the fuck am I gonna get a break and just pass the fuck out without having to constantly wake up to cater to someone? I swear I should rub that mustardy goopy diaper on your face right now. 

Always yours,

Your Loving Wife. 

These are just a few of the many rants about significant others I find posted in one of my mommy forums on Facebook. I was pretty hard on Johnny during the later months of my pregnancy because I thought he was doing some pretty stupid things. And then the first two months of Xander’s life, I kind of hated everyone except my baby. However, four months into parenthood and we are both getting into the swing of things. And one of the biggest things that has gotten me through my struggles as a first time mom is Johnny. 

I can’t imagine him being as inactive a parent as some of these women claim their significant other to be. Whether it’s diaper changes, feedings, soothing, dressing, dropping off/picking up at Grandma’s while we go to work, or simply just interacting and entertaining our son, he is so much more than I could ever have asked for in a Daddy. He would never pass off a duty because he didn’t “feel like doing it” or felt it was my responsibility as a mother. Obviously, if I’m awake and baby is hungry, we both prefer for him to go on the breast. But if I’m not available or he knows I’m getting sleep that I need, he has no problem warming up a bottle and getting it done. 

In fact, he appears to ENJOY all of this responsibility. Crazy, right? 

Many people, myself included, say that they don’t (or didn’t, in my case) want children because they were too selfish. You have to give so much of yourself - like, ALL of yourself - to your child. That’s an extremely intimidating idea. But as it turns out, it’s not the most difficult thing about being a parent. 

I have to keep so many people happy now. The “like it or fuck off” attitude that I have at times doesn’t really work when there are so many people involved in your child’s rearing. 

I have to keep my work happy since now I’m one of “those servers” that may have to call out because my baby is sick or who doesn’t make it to work on time because baby decided to throw up all of his lunch on himself and me before walking out the door. Or maybe I can’t work that banquet you asked me to because I didn’t arrange a sitter for that night. Now I’m a label at work and I have to make even more of an effort to keep them happy so I don’t get put on the back burner when there are money making opportunities (for example, I’d like to go out for bartending once I finish breastfeeding). 

I have to keep my family happy. My mother is our full time babysitter. Both my brother and I pay her to watch our babies so that she doesn’t have to go out and get a job. This is a very good situation as she gets to be around the grandkids all the time and we both get peace of mind that our children are in the best hands possible when we can’t be with them. We are very lucky to have this. However, there are challenges when your parent also becomes, in a sense, your employee. And I learned the hard way this week how important it is to keep those relationships separate. In my continuing effort to keep them happy, unfortunately details have to be kept out. Not my style, readers, I know. 

I have to keep my friends happy. I need more favors now than I’ve ever needed before. I have to be less snarky with my Facebook comments so as not to hurt anyone’s feelings. I may need them to like me in the future. Not to mention, I need adult company more than ever and my friends - especially those I consider to be close ones - are so important in the keeping of my sanity. I also need to be sure I keep my mommy friends happy as their advice and opinions get me through so many struggles and questions. Not to mention a lot of them give me free shit.  

And of course I have to keep baby happy. The most important way is keeping him well fed. Recently I have been experiencing a drop in milk supply, probably a result from going back to work and not being able to pump as much as I want. And also from treating myself often to a cocktail after work, which can affect milk production (this child really gets in the way of my alcoholism). So this week, I’ve cut out the cocktail, increased the water consumption and basically have had a pump attached to my breast whenever I possibly can. Marathon-pumping, they call it. I haven’t experienced sore nipples like this since I first started nursing. I have to think about it all the time, I’m constantly watching the clock to see when my next pump/feed should be (I should totally be pumping now instead of writing but I am unable to pump hands free). I find myself so worried about making time to pump that I miss out on moments with Xander. Mom fail. 

All these people to keep happy. Then I read these comments and realize that the person I’ve been neglecting the most is Johnny. And he is, by far, doing more to make me happy than anyone else. He completely adores our son, he never complains that I barely cook dinner for us anymore or that I don’t keep the house as clean as I used to. He still tells me I’m beautiful and sexy, even with this awkward mom-body that lives in pj's and yoga pants because it doesn’t fit into anything the right way. He still looks at me with unconditional love, even though my hair is literally falling out in huge clumps and I’m having to learn how to Donald Trump my hairstyles for work to cover up the thin patches. He brings me anything I need/want without ever asking questions. He never brings up our lack of sex even though I know it must drive him mad for me to be so uninterested in it. And he lets me sleep. For the love of all things good in this world, the man lets me sleep. 

We are not perfect, but we make a great team. I may have my moments and need to rant myself, but it will never be about his parenting. And for that, I am eternally grateful. 

So, one more person on the list to keep happy. But definitely the most important. Because little boys need their mommies. But little boys and young men need their daddies. And Xander is lucky to have one like this. 

So is his mama.

Monday, December 28, 2015

The New Adventures of Old Tina

I was out with my friend Whitney last night. I chose a bar where I could drink the kind of beer I wanted and also visit the bartender, Kat, another friend of mine. I have chosen certain Sunday nights as my time of the week to get away for a while and do the things that “old me” used to do. And also just to give myself a little bit of a break. This new life holds way more responsibilities than I’ve ever had and often times, I feel the need to get away from it, even just for a few hours. 

We had planned on taking time to write since it is difficult for me to do so these days, even though I have more to say now than I have in a long time. However, in true “catch-up” fashion, we simply talked, enjoyed a few beers and generally enjoyed each other’s company. 

As I was leaving the bar, I realized I wasn’t quite ready to go home. I thought maybe I’d go to the casino and play a little mindless Keno, maybe make a sports bet. I called Johnny to see if he wanted to make a bet as well. He didn’t sound bothered by the fact that I wanted to stay out longer, but he did sound distracted, like someone who has taken care of a baby all night and is now trying to get a few of his own things accomplished. I am quite familiar with that voice as I possess it frequently as well. 

So I hung up the phone and realized going home was a better idea. My breasts were beginning to get engorged from not feeding or pumping for a few hours and my wallet would be better off keeping the money it had inside of it. At least until I could find a more worthy place in which to spend it. I didn’t make the decision easily, I really wanted to go out. The immature child in me threw a bit of a tantrum as I drove past the street that leads to the casino and turned instead down the one in my neighborhood. 

I wasn’t mad at Johnny. Not at all. I often resent him for the time he spends away from the house doing his own thing, but it’s not his fault that I made the choice to come home. However, when it comes to our relationship, we are really shitty communicators. So when I came in, obviously frustrated with my decision to come home, and he asked what was wrong, I responded with a heavy “Nothing”. 

I assumed my post on the living room sofa and proceeded to pump my now very engorged breasts. He asked me again what my problem was and I responded with the fact that I was a little irritated that I had to come home to handle responsibilities when I really wanted to stay out and enjoy myself a little longer. 

“So, you’re irritated that we have a child?” he says. 

Like I said, VERY shitty at communication. 

Suspicious baby wants to know why
someone would ever imply that about him

* * *
Breast pump bag and work apron, new BFFs
This is my view at least four times a week for about 20 minutes during my shift. I stare at the back of the bathroom door and listen to toilets flushing everywhere around me while I use my manual breast pump to relieve myself before getting too engorged with milk. It’s a little better than the view of the brick wall in the parking lot that I look at while I pump in my car before and after my shift as well. At least in the car, I can listen to the radio. 

I would like to say how great I am doing. How amazing it is to be a mother. How I was so devastated to go back to work to leave my precious baby boy at home. How I miss him everyday so much that my heart hurts. I mean, this is how I’m supposed to feel, right? I’m not supposed to feel relieved when I finally get to leave the house by myself. Or when I get to stay longer at work. Or that occasional Sunday night that Johnny is home with the baby and I get to stare at that Keno machine for a while. I’m not supposed to enjoy these things. 

I got asked by someone the other day who hadn’t seen me in a while, “How does it feel to be a mom?” I responded back, “I’m not sure. I’m not really ‘momming’ yet. I’m just trying to keep him alive.” 

Recently, he’s been getting over his big fits, but generally speaking, I have a fussy baby. Not only is he fussy, he’s not a big fan of sleeping. This would make many people start up with the drugs that reduce these two inconveniences. However, I can tell that most of his fussiness comes from either being overtired or having gas. Neither of which I’m prepared to treat with anything but cuddles and bicycle legs. I know this is probably not the popular train of thought. But then, I never considered having a baby to be a vacation. And yes, I am concerned with him being comfortable. I’m also concerned with a learned behavior that feeling uncomfortable should immediately result in taking a pill or some other source of medication. So, I deal with my fussy baby and hope others can too. 

But it’s not easy. I wake up early, hang with baby for a few hours, mostly just trying to get things done around the house and get myself ready for work (a task that used to take 45 minutes to an hour and now requires the better part of two hours if I can’t get him to nap). I go to work and then pick him up after, where he is usually asleep at Grandma’s, wakes up on the 30 second drive home, screams like I’m skinning him for a good half hour and then proceeds to cry off and on for at least 2 or 3 hours before I can finally get him to fall asleep. By that time, I’m so exhausted myself that short of straightening up a little, I’m pretty much useless. 

When he is finally snoozing, I attempt to do the things that remind me of “old Tina”, like blogging, for example. But, like everything else these days, things that were really important to me in the past just find themselves shelved for indefinite periods of time. I really am waiting for my bathroom to finally just clean itself. I’m told miracles happen. 

I’m really not trying to sound like things are bad because that’s not what they are. They are just... different. And as someone who has sought massive quantities of change their entire life, I’m quite surprised at how difficult this new kind of different is. There’s so much to think about when you are trying to keep a tiny human alive. It’s challenging enough to make sure they know how to eat without choking and sleep without suffocating. What about when I have to teach them other things? Like learning how to count and how to handle social interactions? How do I make sure my child doesn't grow up to be insensitive? 

I’m told I over think things and that my life would be easier if I didn’t do that quite so much. Yeah, I’ll get right on that. Just as soon as I learn to stop breathing. 

So, yes, sometimes I’m irritated. I’m irritated that I can’t always make my baby happy. I’m irritated that I have to worry twenty-four hours a day about my milk supply. I’m irritated that my hair is falling out. My already thin hair, coming out in big chunks that they say is a side affect of the breastfeeding. I’m irritated that my relationship isn’t as strong as it could be. I’m irritated that I bought already made gnocchi and marinara sauce in a jar to have for dinner one night this week. I’m irritated that I’m at my pre-pregnancy weight but my clothes don’t fit right because of the different way in which my weight is distributed. I’m irritated that some drunk bitch at the bar called me fat. 

But most of all, I’m irritated that I can’t express my emotions at home without it turning into a power struggle or an opportunity for him to not-so-passively-aggressively question me as a parent. You know who tries to out-parent each other? Couples who have broken up. 

What I’m not irritated with is this perfect face that greets me every morning, laughs when I’m changing his diaper and tells stories while we sit together in the morning sunlight, preparing for the day. I’m not irritated when I pick him up from Grandma’s house, take him home and get my first cuddles in seven or eight hours (after the crying fit, of course). Nothing has been more successful in teaching me to live in the moment like the times he and I share together. 

It’s hard. I knew it would be. I just didn’t know how hard and I do my best to deal with it every day. As someone who has battled depression my whole life, I can tell you easily that having a baby does not close off those dark places where the emotions are so intense, it can be difficult to find my way out. However, he definitely forces me to find the light a lot quicker than anything else and for that, I do feel saved. 

I know “old Tina” isn’t really worth hanging on to but it’s always difficult saying goodbye to a friend you’ve known for so long. And being lonely sucks. But, hopefully the new year brings new ideas on how to like the new me as well as the new “us”. Old Johnny and Tina didn’t need to communicate so much. We just needed to drink. 

But no matter what happens, don’t ever question my love for you, Xander. It’s something that can’t be explained in words. I only hope with the years I have left, I am able to express even a small amount of what I hold in my heart for you. I’ll never give up on you. I only wish you will do the same for me.