A few bad eggs

I recently heard a story from a friend of mine regarding her son’s custody battle for his child. Although the mother was convicted of child neglect, she still was awarded primary custody of their child at this point. Let me tell you that their son is no saint either, but he wasn’t convicted of child neglect. The child’s grandparents are heartbroken. We all knew that the grandparents would step up as the main caregivers to provide this child with a stable home environment.

Why was the neglectful mother awarded custody of this young child? According to the judge, it was because the mother grew up poor with bad parenting. She was expected to turn out bad as a natural product of her environment. The father grew up in an ideal environment and turned out ‘bad’. In a strange way, it does make sense to me. The mother started out at the bottom and didn’t move far from there. The dad started out at the top…ideal…and dropped to the bottom. Who fell the farthest? Obviously the one that started out in the top environment.

But is it the best for the child? Probably not. I think that the grandparents should bypass the crappy parents altogether and fight for custody. They are so hurt and torn up over this decision. But it will probably be the child that suffers the most.

That leads me to ask…Are children that are raised in an ideal environment expected to turn out better? Should they naturally be better parents since they were shown how? On the flip side, should it be acceptable for someone to be a bad parent after growing up in a substandard environment?

Should I be expected to be a bad parent from growing up under less than ideal circumstances?

Since my husband grew up poor without a dad, does he get a parenting pass?

Does society expect us to fail miserably at being parents?

But does that give us an excuse not to try?

Why would we want the same life for our children that we had?

How can someone parent a child in ideal conditions and yet have a child that turns out ‘bad’? Likewise, how can someone raise a child in substandard conditions and still have a child that turns out ‘good’? It’s a great mystery to me..

Neither Paul nor I grew up under ideal conditions. Yet we try to provide an ideal home for our children. Have we ever seen that? No. Do we know what the hell we are doing? No. I really hope that we are judged by where we started.

Sometimes the way we grew up hinders us as parents. It becomes another demon to outrun. We want our kids to grow up in a home environment we never had. Yet by doing so the pendulum swings too far to the other side and we end up spoiling our kids. Sometimes I resent the fact that they don’t appreciate how hard we strive to give them this sacrifice…building something out of nothing. There is a huge gap between what they have and what we did. There is no bridge between the gaps, no connection. The scale is so full on one end that they can’t view our emptiness.

I also have some really serious issues with conflict due to how I grew up. I understand that confrontation is sometimes a necessary evil of parenting, especially with teenagers. What I wasn’t expecting was it to trigger extreme anxiety within me from growing up in an abusive home. I admit I am not the most relaxed peaceful person…but I avoid conflict at all costs. I even avoid conflict at the cost of disciplining my children when they need it.

I attempt to stop my husband when he tries to discipline the children in a healthy way because it sets off panic within me. Sometimes I hide things from him. I try to paint things better than they are just because I cannot stand the feelings conflict triggers. So my kids can walk all over me. I have taken away all of my husband’s power and my own. My unhealthy desire for a lack of conflict ends up creating more conflict.

It is hard to be a good parent when you grew up in a less than ideal home environment. Where do you turn for sound advice? Imagine being a father when you never had one. Maybe our kids won’t turn out the way we want them to. Maybe the gap is too wide to cross. Maybe we will always struggle. I don’t know, but I can tell you this…we tried our best. I hope they realize that when they look back someday.

Walking away

I bet you were waiting all weekend to hear if we have bedbugs. Good news! We don’t.

We spent money to find spiders apparently. But I have a piece of mind that everything is okay.

We have since moved on to our next crisis.

Our son’s car broke down right after the exterminator left. The car started steaming when he got to our road. When he pulled into the driveway, all of the antifreeze leaked out. Today we had to get the car towed to the garage to be fixed.

We have been having record high temps in WI. It has been hotter the first few days of fall than it has been all summer. All I wanted to do was go to the beach, but that never happened.

On Saturday we drove a couple hours to go to my friend Lisa’s 40th birthday party. She wanted to go to a small town’s Octoberfest.

While we were there, we heard from a friend that we might get sued.

Just a quick recap…last month my son, along with 20 other kids, went partying at another girl’s cabin without her. She got busted by her parents with alcohol but told her friends to go anyway. She gave them directions and told them how to get in. There was some minor property damage…a broken water pump, broken glass, blood on the carpet, and penises drawn on the wall.

We have been in constant communication with the parents and have offered to pay for a share of the damages. Now we are wondering if we need a lawyer. It doesn’t appear that my son will be facing criminal charges since he got permission to spend the weekend at the cabin via text from the daughter. However, we don’t want to get sued. We know some of the other parents will be unable or unwilling to pay. Will they go after us for more than our fair share?

I didn’t feel like celebrating after hearing we might be going to court. I didn’t even do one dance. I took a walk through the small unknown town by myself. I needed to be alone to think. I walked until I saw the courthouse and sat on the steps. It seemed bizarrely suiting for the occasion.

Sometimes I feel like walking out of my house with the clothes I have on and never coming back.

When I am really upset, I aimlessly drive for hours or go on a long walk. Last night I went for a long walk. I felt anger and despair. I wondered if God really was there.

Paul and I have been upset and/or fighting about this all weekend. We accused each other of not caring about the other, but neither one of us said that we didn’t care.

Now we just sit and wait wondering what will happen next. We just want this to be over with. We want to stop feeling angry every time we hear about it. Thankfully Paul and I are getting along better today..It is hard to be angry and to express that anger without feeling blamed or attacked.

I just want to walk away…or better yet, sit on the beach oblivious to the cares of my world..

 

That bites!

I feel overwhelmed by the busyness at work. I like being busy, but I don’t like feeling like I can’t keep up. Paul and I have been working hard together, alone. We have been arguing for days. It seems like the stress is bringing out the extremes in our personalities and right now we clash. I have been holding myself tight and my body aches from it more than it does from a 12 mile run.

There is no sanctuary.

At home, my pets still have fleas. They are licking and scratching themselves until they bleed. It disgusts me. I don’t want them around me. They sit in my chair and scratch. I can’t relax. I feel crawly when I sit down. I can’t stand to be in my house. It is unnerving.

The vet said there was nothing I could do, that I might still see a few fleas all winter even after treatment. I never would’ve guessed that something like this could happen. Was it the unseasonably warm fall temperatures??

I blame myself. My husband asked me why I blame myself for situations I have no control over. I really don’t know why.

If only I would have treated the pets a few weeks back when I suspected but didn’t find anything. I only put flea treatments on my pets if I have to. Maybe I was wrong.

I have been strongly indoctrinated as a child that the use of any chemicals was wrong. My autistic brother Matt was supposedly allergic. We weren’t allowed to wear bug spray. My brothers and dad had to take down wasps nests with the end of a rake and run or spray them with a hose. Chemicals were not allowed. Instead of weed killer, we put cement blocks on weeds to kill them.

I am not that extreme, but it is hard to change my mindset.

The one thing I am excited about is picking Angel up from college for winter break. We are heading out to pick her up this weekend and then having a family Christmas party at my brother Luke’s house.

We are also supposed to get a snow storm this weekend. We are expecting a foot of snow. After it is done snowing, we will have strong winds and dangerously cold temps. This is going to make the 6 hour drive downright treacherous for us.

Why can’t my life ever be boring!??!!!!!

Regardless, it is certain to give me something interesting to write about!

6. The hardest thing I ever experienced

6. What is the hardest thing you have ever experienced?

My childhood was the hardest thing I ever experienced..

Outwardly, people thought that I had it all. I was voted most likely to be a supermodel by my senior class. We lived in one of the biggest houses in town. People expected me to be happy and perfect all of the time.

But inside our house there was always a fresh stream of piss on the bathroom floor. Dirty dishes covered the kitchen counter. Rotten food festered in the fridge. There were many rooms dedicated to the clutter shrine. Stack after stack of newspapers, magazines, and papers adorned the floor. Broken items and unworn clothing littered the forever unfinished bathroom upstairs. Every surface area was cluttered. But it didn’t matter because no one bothered to visit anyway.

Maybe it would’ve been different if I didn’t have an autistic brother or if my parents didn’t have 4 children within 5 years.

Several friends of my parents told them to beat the autism out of him. Believe me, my dad tried. Not surprisingly, it didn’t work.

Maybe things wouldn’t have been as chaotic if Matt wasn’t autistic. Matt sometimes was violent. Pulled hair..bloody lips..black eyes..bruised arms and legs..a head bashed into a nose..poked eyes…Violence often infiltrated our house. I was told not to retaliate or feel anger because Matt didn’t mean it. Didn’t I know that I was the lucky one?

Sometimes we would get excited about going somewhere, just to get there, and have to turn back home again. Matt wasn’t welcome there anymore..

Then there were all of the rules that didn’t make any sense. For example, I wasn’t allowed to wear hair spray, nail polish, or perfume. I had to sneak a bottle of hair spray into my backpack and get ready at school. That was when we were still able to go to school. Matt’s behavior was so intolerable that he was no longer allowed in school so I didn’t go to school either for 3 years.

I lost a lot of friends after Matt hurt them…

My parents argued constantly. My dad lashed out verbally and sometimes physically as well. Half of the household at one time or another was severely depressed. Nooses hung from empty trees. I was fearful of what I might find when I entered a quiet house.

My mom cried out to God at night asking Him why He was punishing her…

My childhood was a time of chaos, disorder, dysfunction, and despair…

Sibling bond(age)

My husband grew up as an only child. (How nice!!!). He made a comment that he would give anything to have had siblings. In which I retorted that I would give anything not to have siblings. As the oldest, there was a year and a half that I was an only child. Problem is, I don’t have any recollection of that time. 

I wouldn’t wish my siblings away, but I always wondered what it would be like.

Paul and I both have ‘the grass is greener on the other side’ mentality regarding siblings. Paul recounted being lonely and not having anyone to play with. My idea of being an only child is one of ice cream, candy, and all of the Christmas gifts. Never having to share. Getting all of the attention. Paul’s idea of having a sibling is like being with a good friend all the time that you can play with and talk to. There are a few sibling relationships out there like that. I totally envy them.

What I hear more of is all of the problems. It starts early… Fighting over toys. Feeling like your parents have favorites. Fighting over their time and resources. Who got more birthday or Christmas gifts. Even fighting over possessions after your parents are gone. Or petty fights and jealousies. Who has more money. Who is better looking. Who is smarter. Who is better. The list goes on for most families I know.

Deny it all you want, but we can never stop being compared to our siblings by ourselves or others.

Let’s just say that having siblings makes life more complicated and perhaps more interesting.

Our discussion last night about siblings was a hot button issue with me. I am not even sure why. I think it is probably because my siblings lives have had such a strong impact on mine. 

There have been some really good times. However, most of my strong emotions are tied to the disappointments and hurts. 

Paul has no idea what sibling relationships are like. A lot of times he asks me if our kids sibling relationship is normal.

When we had children, I hoped that my kids would be best friends. Even knowing what I already knew, I still longed for that. It didn’t happen. 

It is amazing how many different personalities can co-exist under one roof. Even though my kids were raised the same way, they are totally different. They even have temperaments or personality traits similar to that of our parents and my siblings which creates very interesting dynamics. Especially if your relationship with the person they remind you of is less than perfect.

Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if I would have been an only child. 

I am willing to bet that most of you are like either Paul or I, wondering what life would be like on the other side. 

Or maybe, just maybe, you are lucky enough to have the perfect sibling (that you actually like). Or had the best of both worlds by being an only child long enough to enjoy having a way younger sibling.

  

Weak end

I sat alone by the lake close to the spot where my brother almost drowned. “Why didn’t you try to save me?” I heard him ask. Because I was only six. He told me that he still has nightmares about drowning. How can that be? He was only two. Sometimes when I am all alone the memories scratch my mind. 

I was hoping that my weekend up north would be peaceful and relaxing. For the first time all summer, I had a weekend without plans. I decided to go up north with my two daughters to prepare for Angel’s graduation party next weekend. I cleaned the cabin and hid the clutter. My parents still have boxes with my middle school books in them. 

Saturday morning I received a call from my son. He said that the car wouldn’t start. As I sit here typing, my car is broke down in the front lawn awaiting repair. There has already been fighting over the use of vehicles since Alex got his license almost 2 weeks ago. This is the start to the busiest week so far this summer. My youngest is in summer school and needs a ride. Angel got asked to babysit and provide transportation for 3 different families this week. Plus she took on Arabella’s pet sitting job while she is in summer school. We need a car! I had to find a ride to work and back. 

I ended up letting Alex drive my car this past weekend while I was gone. He was asked to pick up the mother of his girlfriend’s best friend who was too drunk to drive. Great! He was happy because she bought him food at the drive thru. I don’t even know this woman! It is not too uncommon for new driver’s to be the designated driver. That’s real life in the drinking state. I know people that have their kids pick them up from the bar almost every weekend. I suppose it is better than driving drunk. What kind of life is that for a teen? 

With all the driving around that my kids are doing, I should put an Uber sticker on the car. Maybe they can make enough money to pay for the gas.

The whole rest of the weekend my daughters fought something terrible. It even carried over into today. Arabella brought a friend up north. She made rules for her friend that she was not allowed to talk about how awesome her sister Angel is or spend time with her. The rules didn’t work out too well. Her friend didn’t like being bossed around. Arabella didn’t want to play the games that she wanted to play whereas her sister did. We tried playing badminton, Arabella would only be on the team with her friend. She didn’t want to play by the rules and got mad at her sister when our team was winning. Then she chased her sister around the yard with the racquet. 

They screamed at each other. Arabella accused Angel of stealing her friends. Her friend was crying because she liked both of them and just wanted them to get along. It was absolutely miserable. I just wanted to pull out my hair. I have never seen Arabella so jealous and angry at her sister before. She even told me that she was afraid that the dog she was pet sitting would like Angel more. It is hard because Angel is older and has better people skills. Last weekend her cousins told her that they liked Angel but not her. Then she tries to force them to like her and it doesn’t work. 

I spent the weekend worried about problems. I was irritated by the constant fighting when we could be having a fun time. Then I thought about memories that made me feel sad. 

I wish I could just do the whole weekend over. 

Weathering the storms

  

Today is the first official unofficial day of summer here in Wisconsin. But apparently WI did not get the memo. Paul and I tentatively made plans yesterday to go on our first sail of the season today. The weather looked iffy but we decided to take off of work a little early and head to the boat anyway. 

It has been a stressful last couple of weeks. We have been busy at home, busy at work, just busy. You might be thinking that since Paul and I work together that we probably spend a lot of time together. We do, in fact, but it is not quality time. It is more of the “I’m really busy right now and you are bothering me” kind of time. Or can you take care of this problem for me because I don’t have time for it now. Then to make things even busier, Paul decided to audition for the lead part at the community theater. He got the lead along with 450 lines to memorize within the next two months.

So, we decided to take the boat out for a date, a time to focus on each other and have fun in the sun. Except the sun wasn’t shining. The winds were rather strong. Then when the winds finally started to die down, it started to rain. A long band of rain and storms popped up on the radar. So no smooth sailing for us today.

Instead, we weathered the storm without making it out of the harbor. We huddled inside the boat, cold and damp. Then we started to argue. The sentences started with, “It really annoys me when……. Then we spewed out 20 plus years of criticisms, annoyances, and irritations. The things that were once cute but have long since become annoying. Yes, I was pissy. My expectations were once again too high. I pictured this nice intimate sail with warm light breezes and sunshine. What I ended up getting was whipping winds and cool rain showers splattered with a touch of domestic dissatisfaction.

So, yeah, you could say that I am feeling a bit pissy along with the weather.

This roller coaster ride

Sometimes raising teenagers is like riding a roller coaster. There are a lot of low points followed by high points. Sometimes you are excited to be on the ride and at other times you feel like you are going to throw up. Just when you have had enough, the ride is over.

That is what life is like here every day. The last 24 hours has been one hell of a roller coaster ride. It started yesterday when Angel received a text from her ex. Or at least someone that she thought was her ex. Her ex saw her perform in the musical she was in over the weekend. He complimented her on her part, made small talk, and left. Then the next day she started getting texts. They were innocent at first with questions like where she was going to college. Then things got strange. He told her that he wanted her back. He wanted to meet for coffee. He still had feelings for her, etc… She didn’t recognize the phone number and his sister said it wasn’t his. She didn’t hear back after she told him to call her to make sure it was really him.

We started to worry that she was getting messages again from Jeremy, the guy that was previously stalking her. He would sometimes pose as a friend through text. He even hacked into her boyfriend’s Facebook account and broke up with her while pretending to be her bf. He is going to the same college as her bf which resulted in a fist fight. He threatened to rape her. At that point, Paul called him and told him never to contact Angel again. And Angel told this person where she was going to college. Uugghh!@$#

Yesterday evening she called her ex and he said that he hasn’t been texting her. He thought it may be a girl that liked him. Angel did ask in the text about the conversation that she had with her ex at the show. The person knew  about it, but it was a very general conversation. The girl went with her ex to the show. When her ex confronted this girl, she got really upset. Everyone is denying sending the texts. At this time we think it may have been someone else and not the guy we threatened to get a restraining order against. But we really don’t know. It could be anyone. 

I thought that would be it for the day until we got a knock on the door last night at 10:15 PM. Apparently, Alex’s ex-friend went for a walk last night and didn’t come home. This isn’t the same friend that ran away at the beginning of the school year. This is the long time friend that he is no longer allowed to see because his friend got expelled from school for drugs.

This morning my son got a text from the mother of his ex-friend saying that her son was still missing. She asked Alex if he knew where her son was. Alex replied that he didn’t have any contact with him for the last month since they were not allowed to talk anymore. At this point, she called my son a selfish piece of shit, etc…for no apparent reason.. She was angry and worried. Then Jake’s mom got involved. So this started a round of texting for hours while I was at work trying to actually work. Work was crazy busy. I was dealing with phone calls at work, on my cell, and texts at the same time. Eventually the boy returned home. I hope this is the last we hear from them, but I don’t think so. 

Then my son called me from school saying that he didn’t turn In an assignment. We have been monitoring his grades and missing assignments online. That is a real mess since he missed 3 days from being sick. We don’t know what has been turned in because they are still showing up as missing even if they were turned in. My son said that some were turned in but not graded yet. I love having the ability to see grades online, but it is enough to drive a parent crazy. Unupdated notifications about missing assignments and poor grades blow up our emails. Then the status is not updated for weeks sometimes. 

Then I received another call from the school today. Damn, I cringe when I see that number. Angel was calling for me to pick her up from school. She donated blood for the first time today. Afterwards she felt nauseous and dizzy. She almost passed out in class. This may have been caused by being at the bottom of the weight requirement. She didn’t feel well and couldn’t drive home. I had to pick her up from school. 

Then I heard from the school one more time. This time it was good news. Arabella was chosen to be a foreign exchange student for one week in Japan. It has been a dream of hers since I don’t know when. Last year we hosted a foreign exchange student from Japan for a week and loved it. 

That has been my 24 hour teenage roller coaster ride. I don’t particularly like roller coasters. I like to watch other people ride.