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