I’ve been wanting to steal some time to update about Denver + Ansel fully embracing threenagerhood + Angus and his magic accomplishments but . . .you know, blah blah blah, busy. Also, I hate leaving a mopey blog post up because it feels like it just sort of sits and festers, even though I think I did an ok job redeeming it from too much wallowing.

Let’s start with this picture of my kids with the easter bunny where Ansel is smirking. Laurie says he looks just like me in this picture which I think means I must smirk more than I thought I did?

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So, Denver . . .was also, on balance, hard.

A few things really upped the ante:

  • We decided to stay with our friends instead of my parents (for many reasons – both emotional/relational and because of my mom’s health.) This was a great idea in theory because it meant getting to spend down time with people we really love. In practice, though, it meant two fat girls + a baby in a double bed and a toddler on a twin air mattress on the floor in a very small room. Because the toddler also likes to cuddle, especially in the mornings but also when he’s anxious in a new place, this meant I was spending half my night on my side being as small as possible so I didn’t crush our youngest and the other half of the night with my hip digging into the floor while sharing an inflatable bed with my own personal barnacle. Also, one of our friends is going through some intense/heavy stuff with their family and probably both wanted us/didn’t want us there, so there was just this weird juju in the air, for lack of a better term.
  • On our second day there, I went out to pick up some items for Ansel’s b-day party and, while there, got a call from my dad that my mom was having one of her ‘fits’ again. His reason for calling was to have me come pick up the cake, balloons and gifts they had for Ansel’s party but hearing his tired, sad, scared, and resigned voice, I asked if he wanted me to come help him. He said he did, because he really didn’t want to call the ambulance again but couldn’t get her into the car himself. I trekked out to my parents’ house and found my mom in rough shape: not making sense, doing weird things with her body (seemed maybe not quite intentional?), belligerent – just generally not herself. After some time, we got her into the car. While she waited there, I raided her medicine cabinet and found a bunch of meds she was supposed to be off of, and, though my dad swore up and down he was doling out her painkillers and other medicines and he really didn’t think she was taking anything else, I made him go through each of them and tell me what she was on. The bottles that contained stuff she wasn’t supposed to be taking I packed into a bag and, later on, hid in the kitchen. (Listen, my dad is a recovering alcoholic and addict and while he’s definitely the more trustworthy parent right now, there’s no reason to tempt fate.) We took her to the hospital where they did an intake, and eventually kept her for a couple of nights. Still no real diagnosis, though everyone seems to think it has something to do with taking/not taking/getting off of pain medications. Obviously this is the readers digest version of events but I just can’t handle the details right now and also I’m not sure I want it all out on the internet, you know?

Since my mom being in the hospital and my dad being with her (plus my brother and his family in Moab) meant basically no one from my family (save my aunt, who was hosting) would be able to attend Ansel’s party, we moved Ansel’s party from my aunt’s house in the suburbs to the friends’ house where we were staying. The party was 100% a highlight of the weekend.

Because Ansel loves Minnie. I do not entirely understand his wide eyed enchantment, seeing Minnie as somewhat vapid myself, but he’s enthusiasm and adoration is infectious. Our friend dressed up and visited and he was enthralled the whole time. Hugging her, kissing her, gazing adoringly at her, asking her to open his presents with him . . .it was magical. See for yourself:

 

 

The next day, we baptized Angus at my old church (which really doesn’t feel like my church anymore because the people who attend have changed so much) and it was lovely and wonderful in so many ways. And, I was deeply sad that my parents weren’t there. Angus wore my grandfather’s baptismal gown, which was deeply meaningful to me, but it was hard not to feel a bit heartbroken about all of it.

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The rest of the time we spent visiting with my parents and other family (my aunt and her family, my brother and his) and it felt kind of unsatisfying. The time felt short, it felt distracted . . .I don’t know, I just couldn’t let go of this dark cloud of my mom’s health and maybe drug addiction hanging over me. We ended up getting a hotel the last two nights because the emotional stress + shittier than normal (already shitty) sleep was just too much. We had a two queen bed suite that we really couldn’t afford but it felt like important self care in an otherwise overwhelming situation.

 

My mom has not gone back to the hospital since she was released while we were in Denver. Did my hiding the stash of drugs help? Maybe. Maybe she’ll go back again (it’s only been a week and a half) or maybe whatever it was has worked itself out or  . . .I don’t know. I’m trying to keep my connection to all of it light and loving, not let myself dive into the depths of ‘what’if.’ There’s so little I can do but spin, and I don’t want to do that. So, I wait. And I get a little nervous whenever I see I’ve missed a call from my parent’s house phone number because so often those calls have been from my dad telling me my mom is in the hospital again. But so far, the calls this week have been my mom reminding me to get some things for the boys from the Easter Bunny. So, I breathe deep and keep going.

 

But . . .

 

Ansel is THREE! And he has slid right into being the much talked about ‘threenager.” Laurie is feeling the brunt of it, I think. The attitude and whining that have ticked up, seemingly right in line with his passage into a new year. But also, his language and conversation continues to become more complex and nuanced. He has begun asking the ‘why’, seeking more information than just ‘what’s that?’ (though he still asks that plenty too!) And he tells us about his dreams, makes up more stories, plays more creatively. It just keeps getting deeper and smarter and more thoughtful. And I suppose those kinds of things always come with a bit of attitude, right?

After showing almost 0 interest in peeing or pooping on a potty since the disasterous Potty Training Failure of 2017, Laurie made an audacious promise in a weak moment while changing one of his horrific diapers. “If you start peeing and pooping the potty, we’ll get you a Minnie Car You Can Drive.” (The “Minnie Car I Can Drive” has been on Ansel’s dream toy list since Christmas, and we’ve simply ignored it whenever it came up because OMG those things are huge and expensive and um, MY car doesn’t even fit in the garage!) His eyes lit up and he sat on the potty, though nothing actually, you know, happened. But that kid does not forget a promise, especially about the Minnie Car so . . .now we are committed. On a recent trip to Toys R Us (RIP) to check out liquidation sales, we saw one and he sat in it and it was adorable and also, maybe, could work? So, I made him a sticker chart and laminated a picture of the car and starting Monday, we begin attempt #2 at getting this kid and his man poops out of diapers. My mom has graciously offered to purchase the car if it happens, so I just have to get over my resentment about the garage. But not having to deal with gigantic shits will definitely help on that account.

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Angus is sitting up! On his own! In the last week he’s gone from unsteadily lasting a few second to having full minutes at a time in a stable full on sit! He is also tolerating being on his stomach more (something he has actively hated since we put him there months ago. Once he could roll, it was basically a test of wills while we put him on his tummy, he rolled to his back, we rolled him to his tummy, etc.) So, I think the dreamy sitting-while-playing-somewhat-unattended phase may be in our near future!

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That’s certainly not all, of course, but I think it’s all for now.

 

Things are Hard

This post has taken like two weeks to write but I’m too fucking tired to start over so bear with the edits and updates.

I’ve had a series of difficult things happen, aside from operating at a half tank due to the shift parenting situation, which will last only one more week. (it’s over now, praise 7lb baby Jesus!) So, this is about hard things. That’s your content warning.

  1. That pseudo promotion thing I was working toward? It was denied. And I am feeling all kinds of feelings about it, though mostly resentment. The problem, from my perspective, has to do with the combination of unions + bad communication. There are really good things about unions – they provide protections for jobs, bolster equity (or, should anyway) and support living wages and good benefits through collective bargaining. I am very much in support of unions. But, there are sometimes problems in application, and that’s the problem here. I work for a fucking huge local government, with lots of departments and jobs. Those jobs are all organized by classification to ensure equitable pay across departments, which is a great thing (again, in theory.) But, for this reason, they are necessarily broad and somewhat vague. There are also pay charts that work within the context of job classifications, so that X job class falls within a certain band within the pay chart and then you progress stepwise as you accumulate years of service. When I was hired, I assumed the salary I was offered was based on this table and calculated by my years of experience and my education. But this isn’t the case, it turns out. It also turns out that there are people on my team who are the same job class as me who aren’t doing the same work as me. And it turns out there are people on my team with far less experience who are making the same salary as me. The only recourse available to me was this job reclassification request, which was fully supported by my boss. But the determination was that the work I am doing is actually in the class I’m in (which means that those other people are actually doing work from a class lower than they are, but I doubt they are going to be asking to be downgraded anytime soon . . .) I’m not really sure how I am going to move forward in my job knowing all of this and feeling so incredibly resentful of my prior boss (who hired me at the low rate when, it turns out, she didn’t have to) and of my colleagues (one in particular) who doesn’t do her fucking job but is making a LOT of money (a lot more than me, because she has seniority) and a little bit one of the new ones who is making the same rate I am, though she’s basically new to the field (but she’s great, so I’m not as upset about that one.) Luckily, my current boss is super supportive and has offered to help me with an appeal (if I want to do that) or to find out what I need to do to have the reclass actually happen (what additional work would need to be done.) And, as long as I’m paying dues, I figured I might as well reach out to my union rep as well. Though it’s been a week and I haven’t heard from her so . . .
    1. I talked to my union rep and she gave me a few options to pursue. I’m going to ask my boss about putting in for ‘lead pay’ which would both acknowledge my additional work and get me some $$. I’m also going to appeal the reclassification and work towards having the powers that be understand that the job description doesn’t accurately capture the work we do and THAT’S the issue. At least there’s a little hope on the horizon to temper my resentment for the time being.
  2. My mom. In the last month, my father has had to call 911 three FOUR times for my mom. The first time was following a week of a severe stomach flu and she couldn’t stand and was in immense pain from her back (an ongoing issue after a spinal fusion that didn’t really help.) They took her in, rehydrated her and gave her a bunch of pain medication (in addition to the immense amount she already takes) then sent her to a rehab facility for a day where she did some PT and was then released. The second time, my dad found my mom confused and staring into space – just out of it – about 4 days after she got home from the rehab place. They took her in and determined she had toxic levels of pain medication in her system because she was so dehydrated, which they attributed to the stomach virus. They gave her fluids and then released her. The most recent time he again found her groggy, confused and slurring her speech. At the hospital they found her, again, basically poisoned by her own medications in kidney failure. When I spoke to my dad yesterday, he said her kidney values were doing better but were still dangerously low. I feel like there is something more going on here – as these levels of dehydration after being hydrated with IV fluids so much recently (plus, according to my eagle scout honest dad, drinking a LOT of water in between. My mom was released a few days later after her kidney values returned to normal (on a Monday) and then, this past Friday night, she started hallucinating and having seizures, and ultimately had to be restrained and medically sedated to be brought to the hospital, where she was intubated and taken to neuro ICU. They ran a number of tests to see if it was a virus or bacterial infection, but all the cultures came up clear. They reduced her medications again, once more thinking it is a drug interaction. You’ll have to pardon me if I don’t trust that diagnosis just yet. She came home yesterday and I am praying there won’t be any more trips to the hospital for a very long time. Confronting your parents’ morality is horrifying. I really can’t even fully contemplate losing my mom, even as complicated as my relationship with her has been.
  3. About three weeks ago my left toe started getting tingly, kind of like it had fallen asleep, but no amount of moving around or shifting things seemed to help. Slowly, over a few days, the tingling/numbness starting spreading from my big toe to the next two toes into my foot, until the entire inside of my foot (but most notably the ball of my foot and my toes) were constantly pins and needles numb. Because this is the same foot where I had my ankle surgery, I assumed it was probably related. After a whole hullabaloo of getting records sent, I was finally able to see an orthopedic surgeon. (side note: I LOVED my ortho in Denver. He was so kind and wonderful and listened to me and was never an asshole.) This guy was a total dick. For one thing, after I wasn’t able to book an appointment to see him until ALL of my records came in, he clearly hadn’t read my chart at all. He took x-rays and immediately jumped in to telling me I needed an ankle fusion without even asking why I was there. After explaining that he wouldn’t do an ankle replacement (I didn’t ask him to) because people my age who get ankle replacements “end up with below the knee amputations in their 50s” and telling me ankle fusion was the only solution (to what? Not clear since he didn’t fucking let me get a word in edgewise, except when he corrected me while I was talking about the kind of surgery I got – sorry I’m not a surgeon, asshole.) He then launched into an intense lecture about weight loss. And I just about lost it except I was tender because (see above) so I just got really depressed instead of really angry. He ended up giving me a steroid shot which has not reduced my pain nor addressed the tingling at all. So, now I’m trying to get my records to another doctor for another consult because fuck that guy even if I have to get an ankle fusion I’m not gonna have him do it.
  4. We are going to Denver on Friday for a visit and are celebrating Ansel’s third birthday (OMG WHAT?!? Also for another post) and getting Angus baptized by my Celebrity Lutheran Pastor Friend. That’s awesome. Less awesome? My brother and sister-in-law (who haven’t met Angus and who, in particular my brother, haven’t really even acknowledged that he exists) decided to go to Moab this weekend and “might be able to squeeze us in” after they get back. It makes me fucking angry but also really sad because I wish I had a brother who even gave a shit when we were coming to town to visit.

 

So, all of that’s hard. But, there are other things too:

 

  • Angus is 7 months as of Friday and is finally on the charts, in the 2nd percentile, just shy of 15 lbs. He’s still not sitting up unassisted, but does seem to be pushing up into pre-crawl type of postures. He’s sleeping like shit but maybe it’ll be better once he’s in his own room (which will happen as soon as we sell the mattress currently occupying it.)28165098_10156146145324419_1530761973904090634_o
  • Ansel got a bunk bed and he mostly loves it and he’s the cutest with his collection of toys and “friends” which have been so profuse lately that he’s been crowded out of bed.28336417_10156157136494419_6679241181010561007_o
  • Just generally, my kids are adorable and magical.
  • I’ve been going to the ELCA Lutheran church down the street with Ansel and Angus and while it’s complicated (because the church I went to in Denver was SO unique, and I helped found it, and my friend/pastor is magical and so nothing will probably ever live up to that) it’s also been really great. The church is very much a neighborhood church which, since our community is historically and predominately African-American, means its about 100X more diverse (racially, ethnically, theologically) than any other church I’ve been too. I immediately felt welcome and while there have been a few somewhat awkward moments when I’ve come out (which I’ve had to do more explicitly, since Laurie hasn’t been coming with me, which means it only becomes clear when I say something directly) everyone has been incredibly kind and friendly and even if I might be the first queer person they’ve had in their congregation, they are just new to it, not averse to it. I need to be going to church and I think this is the place I need to be. I think it’s going to stretch me but also, I want my kids to grow up in a community that has all of these different kind of people. And there’s something that really resonates with me about being in a faith community in my physical neighborhood even if it’s not full of people who are 100% on the same theological or social page as me but who are willing to still be in conversation and community. Like, that feels way more important in a faith journey for me than being around a bunch of white progressives who never push me to think differently. I’m sure I’ll be back to talk about this more as I keep thinking about it.
  • I got to see L in her show (she was the highlight, and if you don’t believe me because I’m a biased source, please see these reviews (here and here) which aren’t necessarily glowing until they talk about my boo) and we went to dinner after, which is the first time in over a year that we have been on a date, alone, without a child or children. It was pretty great.28701139_10155430945581864_4304446656490783598_o

I’m glad I did that, there at the end – reminded myself that I still have a lot to be grateful for in the midst of this shit sandwich I’ve been eating. May we all eat shit-sandwiches with a side of gratitude fries.