daughters

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.

micromanaging the homework like whoa

I will come right out and admit that I have not had to do this in the past. My oldest two kids handled their shit. Period. Once they started the sixth grade, I didn’t have to check on their homework or remind them to do it. They took responsibility for it and they knew that their grades were important for college so they did their best. My third kid was a little less enthused in middle school, but still kept her grades in the A-Cs and now that she is starting high school, she is all A/B and really working hard. Flash forward to my youngest kid and man, I am not enjoying the micromanaging that The GingerBeard Man and I are having to do in order to keep her on track.
I check the grades online daily. I email teachers about missing assignments and bad grades to ask for stuff she can work on at home to improve her knowledge of the subject matter. I am printing up and even creating worksheets for her to practice at home. I have subscribed to all of the classes Remind App notifications that are available. It’s ridiculous. Are other parents doing this? Is this normal? Like I am having to memorize where all the damn states are in order for her to? And the capitals? I don’t want to memorize the capitals again. Stahp.
And forget bribing this kid. Forget. It. Here’s the thing about my youngest daughter: she doesn’t care about losing privileges… she doesn’t care SO MUCH that it makes me think it might be related to the years of being in foster care and not having anything. Which then makes me feel terrible. But you can tell this girl that she will lose her electronics, her free time, her time with friends, sleepovers, fun trips places… she doesn’t care. She will hand it all over and dig her heels in. The look in her eyes is like two birds in your face. It’s super frustrating.
She is also Queen of The Excuses. My teacher didn’t show me that. I actually don’t have to do that homework. It’s not due until next week. Nevermind that I am showing her the email from her teacher that says something to the effect of ‘we covered this in class today, here is the homework for it, it’s due tomorrow.’ Her newest excuse is that she shouldn’t even be in middle school because she didn’t pass one of her standardized tests last year. Forget that the one she didn’t pass was math, which she has a 96 in right now and we are talking about science.
Now don’t get me wrong here, I feel her pain. Homework is absolute balls. But is also has to be done and I am not going to sit by while she flunks the sixth grade because she just doesn’t feel like doing anything. I just wish so much that she cared. Like I can get past the needing endless help if she actually cared about learning. Or cared about making good grades. She doesn’t care at all. She is just trying to check the box next to completed so she can move on with her day. Making good grades is just not important to her. It’s so effing frustrating.
I seriously sometimes have a little fantasy daydream that she is standing tall and poised on a stage as a young adult, wearing her cap and gown thanking her father and I for pushing her to do well in school. And I sit back in my seat and dab my eyes and think “it was all worth it.”

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.

almost time…

This past weekend, my daughter and I packed all of the stuff she is taking to college and then we laid down on her bed together and created an amazon wish list for all of the random stuff she’d love to receive in the mail while she is there. Washi tape, post it notes, index cards, relatively healthy snacks, mint tea… As we were working on that, The GingerBeard Man brought us a tray of chips and queso he had made. We snacked and clicked “add to list” and chatted about our upcoming trip to Minnesota. A few hours later, we were done and I went off to do my normal Sunday chores. I packed lunchboxes and did laundry and mopped the floors. It was just a normal weekend.
Yesterday I woke up riddled with anxiety. I couldn’t take enough deep breaths. I just walked around work taking deep breath after deep breath, trying to calm my nerves. Trying to figure out why they were buzzing so much. I hadn’t slept well the night before and I was so distracted that morning making breakfast and packing lunches for the little girls that one of them asked me if I was ok. In response to a message from The GingerBeard Man asking how my day was going, I admitted that I felt really anxious and I wasn’t sure why. He responded with “your daughter is moving away in two days.”
Today I woke up with some different feelings. I am still super anxious, but I am also so very emotional. Thinking about anything makes tears sting my eyes. I’ve had a knot in my stomach and a lump in my throat since I opened my eyes this morning. Today, I can see more clearly how much moving my daughter away to college is affecting me. I can tell that any thought process about her in any way is making me teary eyed.
It doesn’t change the fact that I am so happy for her and even more proud of her. But my very logical thought processes about all of this are failing to convince my heart today. Today all I can seem to do is worry about her and think about how much I will miss her.

Just a few more days…

On August 31st, I will be taking my second oldest daughter to Minnesota. Our flight leaves bright and early Wednesday morning.
I think she has settled into a kind of quiet and contemplative mood about it. Weeks ago, it was all boisterous excitement and energy, but the last few days have been more of a nesting type attitude, lots of doing laundry and making lists of things to remember to pack or do.
I had a lengthy chat with a coworker the other day, she also has children who are grown and out on their own, and we talked about how it’s heart wrenching but also, how right it is. Do I love the idea of my kids moving thousands of miles away and starting their lives on their own? No. Ha! But also, yes. Yes, I want brave children who face the world of adulthood and newness and embrace the challenges and fears. I want children who jump out of the nest and fly. I want children who are not tethered to me because they are leading their own lives. I am so glad that I was able to raise these types of children. I’m so proud of these girls.
So on September the second, when I drop my rental car off and wheel the empty suitcases into the airport so I can fly home, my heart will break knowing I am leaving yet another child behind and alone, but it will also be so very full of joy that she is starting off her adult life with every ounce of bravery I had wished for her for the last eighteen years.

And we’re back to school….

Yesterday was the first day back to school. My youngest kiddo has been super nauseous lately, so much so that she has a doctor’s appointment tomorrow to find out what the heck is going on… that plus knowing that both of the girls were starting new schools where they don’t know their way around had me pretty nervous most of the day. Lots of fretting about stuff I can’t do anything about. I finally broke down and called the nurse at lunch to make sure my youngest wasn’t barfing in the hallways.
And of course, as it is when you trust life to just be life, everything was fine.
Despite having forgotten her schedule and being nauseated and not knowing where anything was, she made it through the day just fine. She has always been so brave and that really showed yesterday when she sucked up the fact that she felt terrible and marched into a school she’s never attended and made it through the whole day. When I asked her on the way to school if she was nervous, she said she was excited. That kid loves her some right of passage. 6th grade? CHECK. Now she can start checking off the days until her age ends in “teen” and she can claim that one.
My little freshman said she gave her first day of school a solid 6.5/10. Looking back at the kid she once was, the kid who has so much anxiety about going to school at all, I am so proud of her. She was super confident walking into the hallways of high school and so brave signing up for Academic Decathlon and Debate. She also was one of the few freshmen to qualify for Varsity Choir. She says her goal is to graduate in the top ten percent of her grade. I love that attitude.
It was so strange taking the first of school photo with only two kids in it and knowing that it won’t be long before it’s only one kid and then none. It’s good. It’s a job well done. But it’s surreal and a little sad too.

One more week until school starts…

As my kids have gotten older, I’ve begun to enjoy summer vacation more. Instead of driving them to daycare or having a sitter, the girls have been old enough now, for several years, to tend to themselves during the day while I am at work. And since I don’t have to get anyone ready for anything, I can leisurely get up in the mornings, make myself a cup of coffee and a breakfast taco and then hit the road. My drive to work is also nice because no one cares what I am listening to on the radio (these days it’s mostly podcasts).
Today begins the final week of that.
Next Monday, I will be getting up earlier and making sure two sleepy girls are up and getting ready for their First Day of 6th and 9th grade. Instead of making breakfast for four daughters, I will make it for two as I pack lunches for all of us and we pile into the car. The older of the two will undoubtedly declare that the front seat belongs to her, because you know – the oldest always get the front seat, and then we will head into town where I will deposit them at the middle and high school before driving away and squashing the little bit of anxiety that comes with knowing they are new fishies in a bigger pond.
And so it goes… another year will begin – filled with choir concerts and field trips, lost lunchboxes and PE excuse notes… There will be homework to check and permission slips to fill out and birthday party invitations… there will be carpools and late nights meeting the busses after competitions. There will be bakes sales and canned food drives and I’m willing to bet, there will even be a detention or a principal visit or two.
It’s all a bit like an old hat.
But it’s like an old comfortable hat… it’s a much better fit than that new hat from those first few years of school with all of the chaos, confusion, and learning how everything works. I remember trying to figure out how to handle all of those sick kid days, kicking myself for forgotten homework folders, wiping away the tears of frustration that come with a plate too full. I appreciate so much more the age I am in now, with older kids who have to shoulder some of the responsibility of themselves as they learn to start navigating the world of self sufficiency. So while I know I will be missing my podcasts so we can all listen to whatever is on pop top 40 these days, I am learning to sit back and enjoy, as much as one can, this bittersweet time in my life. Watching the last of my girls grow up and missing the grown up girls who have gone.

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.