connecticut

Grandmother?

I’ve been sitting on this secret since July!
My oldest daughter, the one who has moved off to Connecticut with her Navy husband, is pregnant!
Pregnant!
This is so wild to me. The idea that my baby is having a baby. I can’t even wrap my head around that. And I should be able to as this is my kid who has wanted to be mom pretty much since she was born.
I think part of the reason that it’s strange for me is that I had her when I was very young and so now, while she will be 20 when her little baby is born, I will only be 36! But also, I think because there was always such a stigma attached to my pregnancies, I get hyper defensive about her being pregnant. I had all three of my biological children by the time I was 22 and I never really had my shit together during that time. Back to back teenage pregnancies and then a relationship change, and not a good one, and another kid that was born after I had already left him. My pregnancies weren’t exciting nor celebrated in the way a traditional married couple’s might be. And that’s fine, I’m not all butthurt about it now – but I did realize how much it affected me when my daughter was about to announce her pregnancy. Like I was waiting for people to give her a hard time, because that was my experience. Luckily, it hasn’t been the case. And why should it be? She did all the stuff in the traditional sense. She dated, got married, got pregnant and when she posted on facebook that she was pregnant, she got congratulated and everyone is genuinely excited for her. Myself included.
And now it’s been a few days and everyone pretty much knows and I realized I had been holding my breath, waiting for there to be some kind of reaction that never came. And I’m so glad. I’m so very glad that she will never have to experience what it feels like to admit, rather than announce, a pregnancy to those closest to you and have them look at you with pity or fear rather than joy and excitement.
And so now we move onto the planning of the baby shower and the buying of teeny tiny clothes and I get to tell my daughter all the wonderful things about bringing her little baby into this world. About becoming a mother. As I am having these conversations with her, I imagine skipping forward another twenty years and seeing her having the same ones with her daughter. Twenty years is such a very long time, you learn so much, you change in so many ways… and yet, it happens in the blink of an eye.

Home from Minnesota…

My daughter and I left Texas for Minnesota at 6am on Wednesday. After a brief layover at Midway (Chicago dogs for late breakfast for the win!), we arrived at the Minneapolis airport around 1pm. We lugged all the suitcases to the rental car kiosks and grabbed our rental car and hit the road. St. Peter is about an hour drive from the airport, but it was lovely… all fields and farms and silos. When we finally arrived in St. Peter, the picturesqueness seems to only continue. The town is beautiful. There are brick buildings from one end of Main Street to the other and all the little homes looked so cute. Seriously, the entire time we were there, I never saw a house in that town that was in any state of disrepair.
We got checked into our hotel and then headed out for a bite to eat. We ended up eating at the same restaurant three times while I was there because the food was so good. The restaurant was Patrick’s on 3rd. I think I ate my weight in fried cheese curds. Friday was Move In Day so we spend Wednesday and Thursday either toodling around St. Peter exploring the shops and restaurants or running pre-dorm errands. Having those days to just chill out with my daughter was super nice. We didn’t have any solid plans so we just got to spend time together and if we felt like driving somewhere, we jumped in the car and took off. If we wanted to walk around town and poke our heads into little stores, we did. But mostly, we wanted to explore the school campus which we did a lot of.
Friday morning, we got up and loaded all of the bags back into the car. We made the short drive from the hotel to the college campus and were greeted with a wall of enthusiastic college students. They were all dressed in yellow t-shirts and were waiting at each of the college entrances. They yelled things like “welcome home!” and “we’re so glad you’re here” and chanted a variety of the school’s cheers. Now, I don’t know if they do this at all colleges, but if they don’t – they should. It is so much fun to pull into your new school and experience this wave of positive energy. My throat tightened up as we drove past them all. A few minutes later we were parked in front of the dorm unloading suitcases into the grass for the football players to take upstairs. My daughter’s room was on the fifth floor so I was pretty pleased that we had help.
Once all of her stuff was in the dorm, we got busy unpacking and setting it all up. This is really the only part of the trip where I felt rushed. I knew the clock was ticking and I had a limited amount of time before I had to head back to the airport. I wanted to make sure we got everything done. We were unpacked in no time and took the opportunity to head out to Patrick’s for one last lunch. We stopped and grabbed a few things we hadn’t know she would need before running back to the campus. We headed over to the admissions office and got her ID and signed a few pieces of paperwork and then we were done. She laughed at me as I loaded an entire walmart bag with pinecones to bring home. Our goodbye was fast and thankfully tear free. She has never been a cryer and I am but I think this goes to show just how confident I am in the choice we made for her to go to school there. I am not afraid or even worried leaving her there. Similar to having left Connecticut a few months ago, I flew home knowing both of these girls are ok. I can worry that they won’t eat healthy or that they’ll be late or that they won’t change their socks or brush their teeth enough, but as far as just being all right? I know they will be all right. And as I drove out of St. Peter towards Minneapolis, I just felt so proud. This kid has worked so hard to get to exactly where she is and I know she is going to be so happy over the next four years as she lives there and starts her life and gets her degree.

anxiety

I’ve had anxiety issues all of my life. I believe they originated in childhood. Growing up with parents who had physical fights after loud and long screaming arguments and who would move you from one state to another at the drop of a hat probably created some of my insecurity issues. My childhood wasn’t built on anything solid. It was built on fear. My younger brother and I spent a fair amount of time wondering when the shit would hit the fan next time and trying to plan out what our strategy would be for handling that. Would we call the police and risk getting into trouble? Or would he handle trying to keep them from killing each other while I took our little sister somewhere so she wouldn’t hear? Or would we just all run away?
At one point or another, we tried them all.
Flash forward to Hawaii, where we moved when I was a chubby, frizzy haired, freckle faced, redheaded ten year old. Hawaii is beautiful and I know so many people there who are also beautiful, both inside and out – but going to school in Hawaii as a little white girl is scary. You’re a haole and it brings out the bullies. Going to school every day was about survival. It was about knowing when to go to the bathroom, where to hide during lunch and which girls not to make eye contact with. And no sooner than my mother decided to “home school” us, our house burned down and we lost literally everything we owned.
Are you catching the theme of instability?
By the time I was in my late teens, I trusted absolutely nothing. I didn’t trust employment or people and the idea that I was ever safe from anything was ridiculous. Going to the grocery store I would check my wallet a half a dozen times to make sure my card was in there. And then checking out, I’d break out in a sweat thinking that it would be denied even though I had checked the balance right before I got there. Anyone I dated was cheating on me, would hit me, and eventually would leave me. I was never relaxed, never believed anything would last. I was terrified that I would lose my job and the girls and I would be homeless. It kept me up at night, planning out what I would pack, what I would abandon, what I would tell the children. Even social outings would render me so full of anxiety that I would sit in my car staring at the door and trying to work up the nerve to just walk in. Sometimes I couldn’t.
One day, in my twenties, I decided I was done. I was done being afraid. I was done living every single day wondering when the bottom would fall out. I was done. This was my life. I was reclaiming it. I was not going to be in a prison of fear anymore. Starting right then and there, I would look that anxiety in the face and walk right past it. It was the bravest I’d ever been. It took absolutely everything I had in me. And slowly, oh my god so very fucking slowly, I was able to climb up and out of that hole. It was like I had to show my brain that each thing wasn’t scary by doing it a dozen times before it was removed from the terror list. It was awful and it took years. And even now, in my mid thirties I still run into times where anxiety will creep in and consume me, occasionally for seemingly no reason at all.
One of my guilty pleasures now is being able to laugh at myself. I forgot my credit card in the car? I’m sorry, how crazy. Please go ahead and suspend my grocery transaction and I’ll go get it. Falling down in front of everyone? Ha! SO WHAT? Forgetting my badge for work. So annoying but not the end of the world. Small things. Small drops in a bucket and they can only take the amount of attention that I give them. Some things deserve a little bit of concern and I have to give them that or become entirely numb, but not everything. So when I feel like I am being apprehensive about something, like the drive to Connecticut that begins in the morning, I have to forgive myself a little bit. Being nervous is ok. I am allowed to be worried. The Ginger Chick from ten years ago could not have done it. She wouldn’t have been able to sleep for all of the freaking out about every single possible scenario. She would have needed so much xanax. But this Ginger Chick? She can.

in 36 hours

In 36 hours I will be loading up the car with my oldest daughter and her two kitties and heading to Connecticut. I can’t believe how something that was so far away has crept up on me. And what do I even want to say about it? I can feel the little tendrils of anxiety when I think about all of it compiled: three days of driving, driving in places I am not familiar with, hotels and cats, caravaning the two vehicles for thirty hours, driving through New York… all of the travel stuff freaks me out but I am feeling a strange calm when I think about leaving my daughter there. My baby will be living so far away in a place she isn’t familiar with and while that’s so surreal, it’s also so very right. She is supposed to leave and have a life. And I am so lucky that she has found a great partner to start her life with, someone who I trust to take care of her and to learn with her.
So I am all packed and Wednesday morning we are headed from here to Memphis, Thursday we will leave Memphis and make our way to Winchester, Virginia and finally on Friday, we will drive from Virginia into Connecticut. And then I am never driving ever again. Ever. Again. This isn’t a road trip in the traditional sense… no stopping and seeing all of the weird roadside attractions.. just a lot, a lot, of driving.

a random list…

I have lost an entire load of laundry in the last week. Does this happen to other parents? It happens occasionally in my home. I think it is because the girls don’t care who’s laundry they have. They just take it and stick it somewhere to keep me from griping at them for not putting their clothes away. A few weeks later, I will stumble across some items I’m missing and upon further digging, discover the entire missing load. In this case, I am very much looking forward to that happening as I am missing two pairs of jeans and I’ve been wearing this pair for three days straight…

The movers came! The movers came! All four thousand, one hundred and fifty pounds of stuff that we moved into the storage room is now packed into wooden crates and on it’s way to Connecticut!

The second I walked out of my bedroom this morning, I started my little mental zen chant I’m ok with the house being messy. I’m ok with the dishes not being done. I’m ok with the table being covered in random stuff. I’m ok with the house being messy. The GingerBeard Man and I discussed this at our anniversary dinner last night. We are accepting the mess around us right now in this time of chaos because trying to tackle it with all the stuff going on is a nearly impossible task, and one that takes the time we want to spend with the two older girls away from us. So for now I am ok with the house being messy.

I found my everyday bra this morning. I thought it was part of the missing laundry. It wasn’t. But I am glad to have it back.

I googled “stress sweating” after being a sweaty mess the last week or so. I couldn’t figure it out. During the whole drive to IKEA this past weekend, I was just dumping sweat. At work, I’m sweaty… even at home. So I finally stopped and asked myself what had changed lately and the only thing I could think of was that I have been super stressed out. Sure enough, The Internet confirms: We have two types of sweat glands: apocrine and eccrine. When we get stressed, the larger apocrine glands – mainly in the armpits and groin – produce sweat. Stressful situations also cause our heart rate to increase, and encourage hormones and adrenaline to flood the body, causing additional sweat from our eccrine glands.

When I told Youngest Daughter yesterday that it was The GingerBeard Man and my anniversary, she asked what we were going to do to celebrate. As he had not told me yet, I said I didn’t know. She excitedly blurted “you should have a water balloon fight!”

I have like four lists right now on my desk. One for all of the things I need to finish at work before I leave in one week for Connecticut. One for all of the things I want to do before I leave regarding home stuff (ha!). One for all of the stuff my oldest daughter needs to do prior to moving. And one for all of the things I want to remember to pack.

Second Oldest Daughter left for Spain yesterday. She sent me a text at 6:30 this morning to tell me she was drinking moscato in Spain. I couldn’t possibly be more jealous.

Two weeks to Connecticut

Two weeks.
Like.. I can’t even.
My life is all my oldest daughter right now. Packing, moving, hanging out with… Because, in just 14 days, we are hitting the road. And three days later, we will arrive at her new home in Connecticut.
When you are getting started as a parent, you stare into a chubby little baby face and wonder what your children will look like someday… You watch them playing pretend and you wonder what they will decide to do with their lives. And during that especially terrifying teenager time, you hope that they won’t turn into delinquent hellions… and they mostly don’t.
My oldest daughter has passed all of those milestones and will turn twenty this year. Those small wonders about how she will look or what she will decide to do with her life are miles behind me as I look at a beautiful adult who wants to be a teacher. She is grown. And she is moving far away. And I’m gonna cry my eyeballs out.

Selling the house & buying a new one…

Night before last, The GingerBeard Man and I were having a chat and once again visited the idea of selling the house and moving. We’ve discussed this a few times now but haven’t actually done much more than check out zillow and consider whether we should move the two remaining girls from their school or let them stay there.
There are two towns we’ve been considering. One is the town where I work and where both girls attend school. It is about fifteen miles away from our current home, in the opposite direction of the way The GingerBeard Man’s job. The other town is about twenty miles away, but towards where he works. The town where my job and the girls’ schools are is pretty small, it boasts less than a thousand people. The other town is a little bigger with a population of twelve thousand. Initially we were considering the bigger town. The girls are entering their first year of middle and high school, so it’s a good time to move them. But as a kid, I was moved every few years from school to school and I have such a hard time putting them through that.
The GingerBeard Man said that he thinks we should move into the smaller town. That the girls would both be able to walk to school, to activities, around the town itself and so could we. If we wanted to go grab a drink, we could. If we needed something from the grocery store, it’s right down the road. I think he sometimes misses the convenience of living in the city. He made a huge lifestyle change moving from a large city into the very small, very spread out, very country town that we currently live in.
So now, we are considering our options. The first step will be to get the house on the market. No small feat and not one that we are really prepared for right now. Not only have neither of us ever sold a home before, but the house has been in what can only be considered a constant state of disarray for the last few weeks. My oldest daughter has moved back home with her three cats and while almost all of her stuff has went into storage, I now have someone living in the living room. My second oldest daughter has started working on clearing out her room and packing all of her stuff for the move to Minnesota in a few months so that entire side of the house looks like a tornado has come through it. Oh and she is on a ten day trip to DC right now, so it’s probably not going to be cleaned any time soon. Unless I do it. And I probably will, lol.
I’ve just decided to put almost everything on hold until after the trip to Connecticut. Once that trip is done, I will reassess and see what our next steps are. Otherwise it just feels like we are fighting a losing battle against the house. And for what? In three months, it will just be us and the two younger girls with plenty of time to do everything we need or want to do. So for now, patience and planning.

My last Mother’s Day

You know, sometimes you get super excited about a certain day… like your birthday or Mother’s Day and then when the days happens and it’s just another day, you get all bummed out? That used to happen to me a lot. It’s like the curse of being a single mom. Unless someone else steps in and helps your kids do some secret planning or shopping, then they really can’t do more than just be sweethearts. And that is enough of course, but sometimes they forget to be sweethearts altogether and you spend your Mother’s Day cleaning and doing laundry and trying not to kill them and at the end of it, you’re bummed because it was supposed to be a good day.
I’ve had those Mother’s days.. and I’ve had the ones where someone would step in and help the kids out and I would be surprised (or not, because – you know – kids aren’t all that sly, lol)… I’d come home to some cute little flower bouquet and some cards with handprints that were made in school or have the mornings where the kids brought me a practically inedible breakfast in bed. And of course it wasn’t the breakfast that you’d treasure, it was messy haired and beaming with pride little girls standing there while you ate it. Because those girls love you and they are glad you are their mother.
This year was different. I am so freaking hyper aware of all the time I am spending with my daughters right now. Having all four of my girls home on Sunday was more than enough to make everything right with my soul. Seeing their little sleeping faces and just being able to chat and hang out with them was so great. This is the last year that I know I will for sure have all of my daughters under one roof on Mother’s day. Gah. My heart.
I knew that the two older girls were up to something and when I woke up Sunday morning and crept out of my room for coffee, the sign in the photo was hanging in my kitchen. It is so perfect. I love it more than just about anything they’ve ever given me. For both the thought that went into it as well as what it symbolizes. These two are leaving me in the next few months and while I hope someday all of my girls will be close enough to me that we can spend weekends together like we did this weekend, I know it is unlikely. It is more likely that I will see them on Christmas and through facebook and we will catch up on phone calls and through photos. It brings my tears right to the surface.
I know I keep saying it. This is what is supposed to happen. I am so proud of these girls that they are courageously facing the new chapter in their lives. They are excited and happy and I’ve done my job. They are adults. They are leaving and that is exactly what is supposed to happen. They don’t need me and I am so grateful for that, but it is also kicking my ass a little. The closer we get to the end of June, when my oldest daughter and I make the trek to Connecticut, the more I feel my chest tighten at the thought. I’m going to miss her so much. I’m going to miss them both so much more than I even have words to express.

Minnesota bound…

Well she chose Minnesota.
I’m not surprised.
I paid the enrollment deposit this week and she is officially moving in August.
I’m so excited for her and for this adventure she is about to embark upon. Just as I am excited for my oldest daughter who is headed to Connecticut in June… but man, it’s so hard to think about them being gone.

I had my first daughter when I was sixteen, and my second daughter when I was eighteen. We all kind of grew up together. They made me into a mom, but also into an adult. They taught me pretty much everything that I know. For the last twenty years, my life has revolved around those two girls and the idea that they are now moving off to start lives without me is so perfectly wonderful and heartbreaking all at the same time.

My two younger girls will still be home for another four and seven years and that is wonderful but somehow doesn’t actually relieve any of the pressure on my heart. So for now, I am trying to enjoy the time before they leave. I’m trying to immerse myself in hanging out with them and spending as much time with them as I can.

This past weekend, I had planned to have the afternoon to myself. The GingerBeard Man had went off to hang out with a friend and all of the girls were busy with their own plans. I had spent the morning cleaning and doing laundry. Finished with my chores, I took a quick shower and started contemplating what I was going to do with myself for the rest of the afternoon. A chick flick? A nap? A walk?
But as I stepped out of the shower, I heard my dogs start barking. The bark turned from DANGER to EXCITEMENT and so I knew someone the dogs knew had arrived. A few minutes later, my oldest daughter walked in and asked me to make her pancakes.
She’d driven an hour from her apartment to my house, just for pancakes.
My initial reaction, and I think most moms would have this, was to be bummed that my free time had just disappeared. However, after a moment, I realized this could be the last time I get to make her pancakes. Or breakfast for that matter. And so, with a lump in my throat, I took down the pancake mix and turned on the stove.