Archive for the ‘sibs’ Category

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Happiness and Headaches

February 1, 2012

Happiness

  • I’ve accepted the offer from the new job.  Man, does it feel good to know that I have landed without a gap in employment.  Hooray!
  • The new job agreed to my starting AFTER February vacation week, so I don’t have to be in stress-mode while Mouse is home from school and her friends are all away. Lemon will be traveling with her crew team, and we are not traveling without her.  We thought about it last February, when it was freaking cold out we didn’t yet know that I’d have this transition forced upon me.  But since today – February 1 – it was 60 degrees outside – we aren’t feeling too bummed about the change in plans.
  • The old job owes me 3 weeks’ vacation pay.  I didn’t know that until yesterday.  That will be a nice chunk o’ change. I am seriously considering a late-June re-do of last year’s vacation.  The house itself is very affordable, we will drive rather than fly, and we will all be happy with cooking in the house.  It could be great. It could be perfect.  Just what we need.
  • I’m home a lot. I don’t have much work left, and most of what I do have can be done at home.
  • When I’m home, I get to hang out with my kids.  And I like them.  And I have fun with them.  I love how much they make me laugh, I love how much they find what room I’m in, and hang out with me.  I love that Lemon came home today and laughed from the door way, yelling (to me), “Honey, I’m hooo-ooooome!” And that she then met me at her sister’s basketball game, and we went out for a sushi “snack” afterwards, chatting all the while.  Where are the nasty teen years?? (Don’t answer that.)
  • Mouse had a doctor’s appointment (annual physical) yesterday.  I picked her up early, we went and grabbed some burritos, and then went to talk about how damned healthy, tall, athletic and smart she is.
  • My girls are really enjoying each other lately. I may enjoy that more than them enjoying me.
  • Tomorrow is mine and David’s 5th wedding anniversary.  When we went away for our birthdays this year, we realized that it was also our 10 year “dating” anniversary.  He got a haircut today, and he looks super-cute.  Also, he probably noticed today at the basketball game that I raided his sock drawer, but he didn’t complain.  He’s a great guy.

 

Headaches

  • I had a 3 day headache.  For real.  Like, my head hurt.  An Advil fixed it, but I had to complain, because it just fits here so well.
  • While I had posted previously that the Ex “was less resistant” to the idea of kicking things back to the level they should have been at all along, I was being overly optimistic. We are going back and forth with proposals.  He’s dragged the sharing of travel costs and tax deductions into our discussion, and he pisses me off.  Then he throws in his usual condescending asinine comments (i.e., “I am very sympathetic to the financial and professional difficulties you face at the moment . . . “), and I want to rip his face off.  For reals.  I still think we can reach an agreement, but dealing with his bullshit in the meantime drives me bonkers.
    • I wanted to retort that while I am facing a paycut, it was something I always knew was coming, AND!  Another thing!!  This is not a “professional difficulty,” at all!  This is a very logical and typical move at this stage of my career, and is resulting in increased experience!  You dummy!  Instead, I ignored his blah-blah, and responded only about the issues at hand.  So, ha!  You cannot rattle me!  [except that, really, he did.  because he’s a jerk.]
  • Also, the Ex just canceled the girls’ summer visit again.  So now David and I will both be working, and I think that the girls will be home.  Without much to do.  Last year, with me making gobs of money, we filled the time with crazy-costly camps (no, really — the girls were in camp with the grand-daughter of the owner of the Patriots, and with the daughter of the owner of Newbury Comics … we paid dearly).  This year, Lemon will likely be looking for someone to pay HER, and Mouse will be, uh . . . .
  • Just after I came to terms with my reduced salary, I called the H.R. person at the New Job to find out about health insurance details.  They were bad.  Very bad.  I almost cried.  I didn’t know what to do – I was totally unprepared for the costs.  I know I’ve been spoiled and spoiled and spoiled, but this was a blow.  I have since spoken with some people that tell me that while the number was double what I pay currently, on a salary that’s half of what I currently have, it’s “normal” and “fair.”  Fortunately, they told me that AFTER I decided to negotiate this point with New Firm.  So, this maybe should be up there in “happiness,” because it looks like there will be movement on the issue.

So, thanks for reading!

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Taking Stock of 2011

January 1, 2012

Yesterday’s realization that 2010 sucked, and then 2011 sucked, was kind of daunting. It’s also a little weird, because I’m far from being an unhappy person, or thinking that my life sucks.  How can my years suck, if my life doesn’t suck?

Looking back at last year’s end-of-year posts, I see that I was right about 2010 – it wasn’t a great year for me.  2011 wasn’t really a bad year, except for work.  And work didn’t leak into home in the same ways that it did in 2010.  When things weren’t going well this year, starting in April, it was because I had so little to do.  That resulted in less time at work over the summer.  I spent more time reading, I took a day to go to the beach with a friend, I came home from work earlier.  So the effect on home was a good one.  So that’s something, at least.

According to last year’s posts, I had the following resolutions:

1) Lose weight.  I didn’t, really.  I went up and down with the same 10 pounds, but didn’t really make much progress here.  I need to step it up.  I did run a good bit, starting in April or May.  So I have habits in place – but I need to kick it up a notch.  I need to run more, run harder, and do more than just running.  I need to do some strength training, and I need to be more careful about food.  I’m not letting go of my “fit by 40” goal.  I can do this. I have 11 months, and I can do it.

2) Draft my resume.  I did that.  But not until I was up against the wall and on my way out the door.  But it’s written, and it’s been reviewed by professionals, and it’s in good shape.

Then my littler areas of focus:

My extended family: My sister and I are definitely back in touch and things are good there.  I do try to be better with my parents, and I think I’ve been less irritable with them.  My brother is no different, but I’m not taking responsibility for that.  He and his wife are a bit too overwhelmed by having young children and a job (him, not her) and bills to pay, and I have a very hard time  commiserating with them.  Because – really?  Who DOESN’T have young children and a job and bills to pay?  At least at some point?  You’d think that they believe my teenage daughters sprung fully formed out of my forehead and that I somehow have a trust fund and pretend I’m a lawyer for show, for the way they’re convinced they’re the ONLY people with young children and a job and bills to pay.  If I hear either of them reference my brothers “10-12 hour days” one more time, I may barf.  Instead, I hold my tongue, and don’t try to “one up” them with stories of my years in their shoes – with a husband who was in grad school and making NO money (but still working 12-20 hour days . . . he was clever like that), or the years where I was a single parent with young kids, a job, bills to pay, and no second parent in the house.  I just say “yeah, it must be hard.” And don’t call again.

So, no.  No improvement there.

Family (home):  Like I said – this year’s job stuff  gave me more time with my family, not less.  Lemon was a bit of a snarky kid last year – and this year, she’s in a groove and easy to manage and thriving.  Mouse is starting with the snark, but it’s less constant than Lemon’s was, and so far, we can deal.  She’s still thriving, and that makes us happy. They’re very good kids.  David and I are good – of course some months we’re totally in sync, and others we are “off,” but overall, we’re very good.  I’m still grateful every day for being married to a partner.

Community:  Well, I just wrapped up producing the Best Play Ever, and I delved into it more than in years past, because I had more time (the good side of no job . . . or transitioning out of a job).  This spring, I plan to be involved in the planning and executing of Mouse’s 8th grade graduation (I know, I know, “graduating from 8th grade is STUPID!” But these kids have been in this K-8 school since, well, K.  It is a big milestone, and I would like the stupid-callers to do so elsewhere.  Thanks!)  I know I should do something else, now that I’m wrapping up my volunteer efforts at the kids’ school, but right now, less than a month after producing the play, I don’t want to.  I want to say I’ve put in my time, and I’m done.  And as far as the kids’ schools are concerned, that may be my final conclusion.  I think I’d like to shift my focus to the town-level.  Not sure what yet, but I still have time to explore and figure it out.

Finances.  David and I did, in fact, see a financial advisor this year.  It was illuminating.  Depressing, but illuminating.  We do NOT have a house fund.  We are perma-renters.  We did start aggressively socking money away into savings, and our 401k has been doing well.  If we hadn’t done that, this job-news would have been a lot more devastating.

Travel.  We did some.  Not enough. We did New York City in February, I went to Wisconsin with Mouse in April, we went to the Berkshires. We went to Vermont.  We went to Maryland/Virginia/D.C. (when my Outer Banks vacation was thwarted).   But I still haven’t brought these girls to Europe.  And we still haven’t gotten back to California.  I want to see my friends, and my sister.

Some positive outcomes from 2011 that I cannot overlook, and that I hadn’t included in my list:  Friendships.  I have enhanced existing friendships and found new ones.  This was especially obvious with the job-issues, as my support network was so very  strong.  While two of my three most supportive friendships at work have been in place since my summer associate days, another is one that has really taken shape this year.  I’m very grateful for this friendship, and glad that I got over my assumption that she and I would never really “relate” to one another, because she’s young and has no kids.  Not the case.  I’m very glad to have made this friend.

Another new friendship on the home-front, in my running partner.  We’re very like-minded (and our mini-me older daughters have found this in one another, as well), and clicked instantly.  I have a comfortable easiness with her that I haven’t had with someone in a very long time.  “Wanna come over?” without caring at ALL that there’s dirty laundry on my bathroom floor.  A really great find this year.

Still to come — looking ahead to 2012.

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Today is my “ahhh” day

September 21, 2011

This is THE day this week that I do not have school-related things on either side of my work day, and it’s bliss.

Last night, I had 20 people in my house.  TWENTY!  We all sat in my dining room.  This dining room:

My dining room, taken 2 years ago when we first moved in. Only slight variations since.

How?  I’m not sure.  We have 8 dining room chairs, 4 kitchen island chairs, my office chair, Mouse’s desk chair, 2 desk chairs in Lemon’s room, plus 6 deck chairs.  So we made a BIG circle around the table, and it worked.

The meeting was of fellow parents in Mouse’s grade.  I’m a huge proponent of what we’ve deemed our “Parenting Exchange.”  The entire grade is invited to each meeting, which we have every 6 weeks.  The meetings are relatively formal – we have topics chosen ahead of time, and we have a facilitator (just a parent – rotates around the group) who keeps things on track, both topic- and time-wise.  We really only use the meeting to check in on what other kids are doing, what other parents are wrestling with, how honest are kids are being when they pull out the inevitable “but all my friends are allowed to!”

We started when they were in 6th grade, and the town started having dances, the kids started asking if they could walk further and alone (our town is conducive to that), the homework started to get harder, etc.

There are some parents who never miss, but others come only occasionally, and others still have been only once.  It doesn’t matter – we still invite everyone every time.

I find it invaluable not only because of the actual conversation or things learned, and not only because of the connections that we truly do make with other parents that we might otherwise not — but because our kids watch us. They know they do this.  They know we talk.  I don’t only talk to my friends – I talk to my entire community.  So if they want to skip a class and wander around our village with their friends – they can’t think “pfft, mom’s at work, she’ll never find out.”  They have to worry about EVERY mom.  EVERY dad (we often have as many dads as moms, by the way).  That is my favorite part.

And my kids aren’t even sneaky.

But having 20 people over made for an insane day.  I left work early to come home and prep the house.  WD pitched in x10 (as usual), so I didn’t need as much time as I took.  We also had to find Mouse a place to go, because that is one of our “rules” – the kids should not be home when we meet (so they don’t learn things they have no business knowing).

After everyone left – by 9:15, I had to fight with one of my children.  Because life’s not complete without at least one argument per day when living with 2 teens.

I asked Mouse to find a place to go from 7:00 – 8:30.  We have friends who live steps away in 4 different directions.  Literally steps.  Literally across our small street in 2 directions, plus around a very short block corner.

But what does she do?  Knowing she has (a) homework, and (b) the messiest room in the universe that MUST be clean by Thursday a.m.?  She makes plans with a friend who lives the furthest away, starting right after school.  WD negotiated with her for some time after school – reminding her that if she hangs out all day long, using “Mom said I have to go somewhere” as the excuse, she’d have to come home straight after school tomorrow to clean her room and do homework, and she’d have to clean her room that evening, even though it means she cannot watch Glee.  She said, “Awww.  But okay.”

Guess what the fight was about?

Not so much that she could not watch Glee, but more that Lemon and I were daring to watch it anyway!!

What??!!  That’s not fair!  You never watched it with ME last year when SHE couldn’t!

But that was because she was doing her homework, not hanging out with friends.  You made your  choice.

It’s not because I was hanging out with friends!  It’s because YOU are making me CLEAN MY ROOM!! 

See how I made her letters red?  To convey her anger?

We also had a lot of bickering about the meaning of the word “grounded.”  Saying that she has to clean her room by Thursday (housecleaning day), and that she has to be in the house in order to clean her room, does not mean she is grounded.

Yes it does! because I can’t go anywhere!  That’s being GROUNDED!  

No, that’s telling you that you need to clean your room.  Which is in your house.  If you finish at 3:30, you can do something else.

What am I going to do at 3:30?  There’s nothing to DO at 3:30!!!

Whaaaa?

Fortunately, she finished off her hissy fit with lots of energy that she put toward cleaning her room!

If only she skipped the hissy fit.  It would have been nice.

Although I did feel bad for her, because (a) Glee featured a song from her play this year – the song she auditioned with (Anything Goes), and (b) her sister, out of habit, hit the “delete” button on the DVR when we finished watching.  Oops.  Thank god for Hulu.

 

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Best Sister Friends

September 7, 2011

Want to know my favorite part of vacation?

The beach was great; we had amazing weather (not too hot, not too cold, sunny, not a single drop of rain); the dolphins really awed us; we ate good food.

But the best part was by far the time spent together as a family.

The girls were amazing.  They barely fought with each other.  They barely fought with us.  They didn’t complain.  They loved their food and were appreciative of the nicer meals out.  They didn’t beg for 10,000,000 crappy souvenirs (a true feat for Mouse, in particular).

While the general good attitudes were a true delight, it wasn’t so very shocking.  They’re not bad kids, and we don’t usually spend a lot of time fighting.  (Although, there were some incidents on our last family vacation.)  But I was particularly struck with the way they got along with each other.

As I’ve mentioned here before, when I was their age, my sister and I were very close.  We spent a lot of time together and really enjoyed each other’s company.  So many of my great childhood memories include her.  When we were in high school, we started referring to our relationship as “sisterhoodship” – because it was a mix between sisters and friends.  Dorky, I know.

For many years – especially in their middle grade years (3rd – 6th grades), I thought my girls weren’t really reaping the benefits of one other.  They weren’t … connecting.  For a while we lived in a very small apartment and they shared a small bedroom and they fought incessantly.  They talked more about the hatred they had for one another than I ever wanted to hear.  I had a very hard time imagining, with the amount of animosity I was seeing, that they would end up being there for each other in their adulthood.

But this year – maybe even some last year – things have changed.  They hang out with each other in one or the other’s bedroom (and I do think the separate bedrooms have helped); they enjoy the company of each other’s friends; they seek each other out as soon as they get home from hanging out with their own friends.

This all peaked this summer.  The week that their father was in town, they the most affectionate I’d ever seen them – hugging, leaning on each other while watching t.v., doing each other’s hair and nails, etc.

And vacation was no different.

I remember when my sister and I were probably my girls’ ages, or a tad older, an aunt of ours came into town.  We were going somewhere with her and my mother, and my sister and I were sitting in the back seat.  At some point, we were holding hands.  My aunt was appalled.  My mother later giggled and told us “Auntie G. was so upset, she came to me later and said, “Did you SEE?  Suzie and Fishie were holding hands!!!”  My mother rolled her eyes and said, “yeah, they do that all the time.”

Well, on vacation, my girls were often holding hands while walking down the boardwalk, or had their arms around each other.  I did not see it as scandalous (why are the girls HOLDING HANDS???  What is WRONG with them????).  I saw it as sweet.

They also came up with their own name.  They aren’t talking about their “sisterhoodship” – but they are calling each other “Best Sister Friend.”

It makes me very, very happy.

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Starting off on the Right Foot (and in the Right Shoes)

May 25, 2011

Mouse turned 13 yesterday.

Starting at some point last week, she made it very clear that she was SUPER EXCITED about her birthday.

And so starting at some point last week, I started to stress out.

There would be no party ON her birthday – that’s not happening until June (thanks to crew and soccer schedules).  We had no clue what she wanted for gifts, she wouldn’t tell us what she wanted for her birthday dinner — we were adrift. But she was SO EXCITED, and bouncing around the house about it, that I knew I had to make a Good Day.

Pressure!

Fortunately, at some point last week, I remembered a request she had for some low top Converses.  Simple, but an “extra” (because I just bought her a pair of running shoes, flip flops, and sandals) that seemed perfect for the birthday.  Made even more perfect by the fact that she had sent me a link – months ago – with the exact ones she wanted.  They were $50, which seemed pricey for Converses, but whatever.  But even more perfect is the fact that between my office and the T stop I get on every day … a Converse store.  I thought it was iffy that they’d have what she wanted.  Their selection is always limited, and these shoes were a couple of months away from new.

But!  When I told the helper-boy what I wanted, his eyes lit up!  “We have those, and they are on sale!”  And they had her size.  Woo hoo!  So instead of $50, they were $30.

So I did the most logical thing.  Threw in a t-shirt — that was on sale! — to make up the difference.

I believe it was Friday that I bought the shoes, and then on Sunday night, at the dinner table, she raised the fact that she would really love “to have the privilege” of owning low-top converses for the summer.  I somehow managed to squelch my smile and act all indignant because I just bought her 3 pairs of shoes.  “I know, I know!  That’s why I chose those words, so I didn’t say I *need* them, I just would be very pleased to have the privilege.”

WD found her a very sweet summer weight hoodie (because no teen in this town can be seen in public without wearing a hoodie …), and I put on my Lemon hat and bought her a cute wallet and a pretty, bright umbrella.

And then she came up with her birthday dinner … Burritos!  At her favorite taqueria!

Which happens to be dirt-cheap, super fast, and easy as pie.

Does she want a cake?

No!  Let’s go to J.P. Licks!  And get ice cream cones!  Hooray!

Again with the ease.

Then, the weather gods decided, “This Mouse-Child is a sweet girl.  We like her.  She is pretty, and she smiles a lot.  Let’s give her sun!”

And so on Mouse’s birthday, the Boston area (all of New England?) climbed its way out of a 2 week gloom of chill and rain and drizzle and gray.  And it was 80.  And sunny.  Happy birthday, punkin.

Her friends brought her a cake to school, and “caked her in the face” during lunch (which was, oddly, a highlight of the day).  “I think everyone in the whole grade said happy birthday to me!” And some of them brought her cards.

It was also her first birthday on Facebook.  And we all know what that means.  “I had, like, 60 notifications!!!!”

So many smiles from this girl.

I spent the day  “working from home.”  Quotes used to signify the fact that I spent my day (as evidenced in the previous post) cataloging and scanning old photos of my little girl.  This one, in particular, choked me up:

That little 4 or 5 year old face.  how can that be the same girl of today?

I mean, right?

Our night out was great.  Everyone was happy, the girls got along.  It was bliss.  She was happy.  The burritos were yummy (and super cheap!) The ice cream place had my favorite ice cream, that I can never find anywhere (vanilla ice cream with peanut butter).

And she was thrilled with all her gifts, and very excited and surprised about the Converses.  She looks awesome in her hoodie.  She already put all 4 of her dollars in her wallet.

And as she went to sleep, I commented on the fact that she was a lot more excited about this birthday than last year’s.  “Is it because it your first as a teenager?”  “No, Mom, I think I figured it out.  I wasn’t so excited about my birthday last year, and don’t you remember I wasn’t so excited about Solstice* this year, either?”  “Not really, but okay ….” “It’s because I had boyfriends**.”

Perfect life lesson with which to enter the teen years.  “I am happier when I do not have a boyfriend.”  Yes, my dear.  Yes.

And as I was saying goodnight to Lemon, I had to say to her “today was the best you’ve ever behaved on your sister’s birthday.”  She got a typical-Lemon wise-ass grin on her face and said, “Well, I restrained myself several times.”  Which is progress.  Restraint is progress.

(They actually got along fantastically all evening.  I was almost – again – brought to tears by it.  And while Lemon may try to say she was just showing restraint in honor of her sister’s birthday, it’s not the entire truth.  They’ve been getting along better for the past couple of months.  And it makes me very, very happy.)

*  We enjoy celebrating the Solstice, and putting less emphasis on Christmas.  Historically, we exchange hand-made gifts on Solstice, and attempt to focus on the season and nature.  More recently, busy schedules have kept us from making anything by hand, and so …. we just exchange gifts.  So, um, yeah.  (As Lemon would say.)

** Boyfriend, in these situations, is defined as either (a) boy who you text occasionally and over the course of 3 months, meet at a park one time, and meet after school for a slice with 6 other friends one time, or (b) a boy who asked you out in school, and in a flurry of embarrassment and surprise, you agree to “go out,” but then the next day, inform him that now that you had a chance to think about it, you really think you’re better off friends.  Apparently, that overnight mind-changing happened on December 21st, this year.

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Why am I not moving at 75 mph?

April 25, 2011

My 3-day drive-a-thon went as well as could be expected.  Perhaps I could have had less rain, but it didn’t slow me down.  Perhaps I could have gone without the brunch with the in-laws, but it was virtually painless.  Perhaps I could have a 16 yo with a driver’s license, instead of an almost-13-year-old with the propensity for napping, but that will come with time.

I don’t regret the drive for a moment.  I will even go so far as to say I enjoyed it.  I’m glad I did it.

The drive to the Middle of the Country was uneventful.  I drove a lot, stopped a little, and gamed the numbers on my GPS as much as possible without getting a ticket or compromising my safety. Two small things of note:

  • Just as a rainstorm was about to hit me, some rubber weather-stripping came loose on my car roof.  It was whipping around frantically, amusingly causing the cars around me to get out of my way.  I’m sure the idea of having your car whipped is a frightening one.  It didn’t take much to re-attach the strip, and I only got hit by the very beginnings of rain drops in the process.
  • At one point, a red pick up truck passed me.  The truck wasn’t new, but not too old, either.  It was obviously used for the purposes for which it was created — the bed was full of useful items, perhaps used to build houses or barns or something.  There were bungee cords holding some sheet rock in place.  And driving the truck?  A 20-something gal with long curly tresses wearing a tiara.  She was smiling and singing.  It made me want to listen to Taylor Swift.  (But I didn’t, because it was “Suzie Solo Drive” playlist day.  The teen/tween playlist was in the queue for later … I didn’t need a preview of that hot mess.)
During my drive, I ended up with a few new favorite musicians:  Adele, especially her newer album, titled “21”; The National (almost every song); Anna Calvi (thanks to WD for that find) and Florence + the Machine.  Old favorites remained favorites, and I enjoyed spending time with them:  Elbow (love love love love); Coldplay; and The Decemberists.  The Decemberists, especially, I enjoyed having the quiet focused time with.  Their lyrics are so damned interesting, and I can’t focus on them in my usual life.  It made me miss my high school/college/early 20s days, when I would buy a [tape or] C.D. and just lie on the floor listening over and over while reading the included lyrics.   Maybe “rewinding” the tape to listen to a particularly compelling song more than once.
I arrived at the Ex’s house approximately 40 minutes later than I meant to.  I’d forgotten that I would be crossing into another time zone when doing my planning.  Upon coming to the realization in my hotel somewhere in the middle of Indiana, I was very excited.  It meant I could sleep!  Until 8 a.m.!  Which meant I could watch another episode of Jericho! And stay up until midnight!
What I forgot was that I’d have to re-factor the hour when I crossed back over the time zone line.  Duh.
Instead of sleeping for an extra hour, I should have texted the Ex and said, “I meant 11.  I’ll be there at 11, not noon.”
The only real reason for the rush was that Mouse wanted to swim.  I’d worked hard to find a hotel with a pool (and paid a little extra for the pleasure), and didn’t want my lack of math skills to keep her from her swim. Which means – it really wasn’t the end of the world to be running a little later.  In the end, the extra hour of sleep was probably very good for me.
Brunch went well.  My Ex-Mother-In-Law hasn’t  changed an iota from when she was my plain old Mother-In-Law.  It was relatively interesting to watch me, my ex, his new wife, his parents, our daughter, and his baby daughter, all interacting.  It was very natural, cordial, and even pleasant. Mouse loved it.  She sat at a table between her two parents for the first time in several, several years.*  His wife is very nice and easy to talk to.  She had a few blips in the past years where she approached Evil Stepmother status (probably while dealing with infertility and pregnancy), but by-and-large, for the past 10 years, she’s been a very positive presence in the girls’ lives, and I have little to complain about.
Mouse and I had a pretty easy drive.  I’d planned for a shorter drive on Saturday, and more hours on Sunday, and I’m glad I did.  We did end up at the hotel with a couple of hours to swim, and then went in search for food.  Upon looking at the plethora of fast-food-only options in the Middle of the Country, we decided we weren’t actually hungry. Instead, we went to Walmart.  It was her first time, since her mother is typically anti-Walmart.  We got some forgotten toiletries, and generally took in the sights, sounds and smells of an American phenomenon that she had not yet experienced.  The next day was liberally peppered (by her) with knocks on Walmart, and the inferior quality of the items purchased there (but seriously, the Cadbury Mini Eggs did taste a little funny ….)
She is not a good listener of music.  She cannot just settle into a playlist.  she wants every song to be “that song I really want to hear!” and so she did a lot of connecting and unconnecting the iPod from the stereo, and searching for certain artists (Avril Lavigne, Avril Lavigne, and Avril Lavigne, mostly).  She was dismayed at one point when I finally cried uncle and insisted that MY playlist get a turn, and A Fine Frenzy came on.  “Why do you have them?”  Because I like them.  Duh.  Apparently, when your mother discovers and even likes an artist that you thought you discovered and liked as an independent teen, you get upset.
Not very upset, though.  Moods stayed good the entire time.
As it turns out, our route home took us on the highway that passes within 2 miles of my parents’ house.
When I went to the middle of the country, I obeyed my GPS and took the northern-most U.S. highway.  The problem was, in order to go where I had to go, the highway made me turn north, stay straight west for some time, but then turn south along the great lakes before I could head back west.  Felt like wasted time.  Also, honestly, the freeway through upstate New York is not exciting.  So on the way home, we took the other highway.  The one that makes you go east, then turn south for a bit, then go east, and eventually turn north again.  Grrr.  Why can’t you just go east/west from Massachusetts?  What’s up with all the turns and twists and unnecessary mileage?
We decided if we had to go all zig-zag anyway, we may as well take the zig-zag option that lets us pop in and say hello to our parents/grandparents.  We had every intention of making it a surprise, but as my parents’ Easter dinner plans came clear (through their 10,000 calls to me to make sure I was okay), we realized a surprise could cause a problem.  So we told them at 2 that we’d be there at 4:30.
They were having dinner at my brothers’ house, and they all decided, “oh, let’s wait for them for dinner, instead of eating at 3.”  But they decided that after Mouse and I said, “oh, they’re eating at 3, so lets stop and get food so we aren’t hungry when we get there.”
And my mother was in rare form.  I am not entirely sure what was up with her.  But she was in rare form. I ended up getting a 5 minute lecture about my “attitude” when I was in college.  When Mouse and I got back in the car, I thought about giving her a 10 minute lecture about her toddler tantrums.  How dare she act so irrationally?  What was she possibly thinking?  But, actually, those tantrums were only 9 years ago.  Not twenty years ago.  For crying out loud.
Then, to top it all off, the last 2.5 hours between my parents’ house and my house was our first run-in with traffic.  It was riddled with traffic.  When we first got in the car, our GPS told us we’d be home at 8:15.  We got home at 9:54.
It was good to spend a lot of time quiet and with less input.  It was great to spend time with my sweet daughter.  And she was a sweetie.  At one point, she dozed in the car, and the blanket I’d brought for her got twisted in such a way that she was uncovered.  I reached over and covered her up, and she rolled over with a big smile & blew me a kiss and grabbed my hand from the gear shift, and fell back asleep holding my hand.  We enjoyed each other’s company and made each other laugh.
And it is good to be home.
* I had them for brunch once, a couple of years ago sans the parents and baby daughter.  Same thing – much civility, pleasantry, and get-along-ability.  Bodes well for weddings and graduations, I think.
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SisterHoodShip

April 17, 2011


Sometimes, I look back on my own childhood and marvel at the huge part my sister plays in my memories.  As I get older, our arguments are harder to remember.  But our nights spent playing spit while listening to Cyndi Lauper until 3 or 4 a.m. occupy huge pieces of my memory.  I remember her as my closest friend during childhood.  Especially in our teen years.  I remember coming out a fog of rebellion and bad relationship, and HER being the one who would ride around in the car with me, singing the songs of independence and personal strength (Sinead O’Connor sang those, by the way).  The memories of getting in trouble together, of sneaking around, of egging my parents on. (Especially when they were convinced that the fact that we knew every word to Sinead’s version of a classic Irish folksong meant that we were lesbians … having an incestuous relationship.  Fundamentalist Christians are weird.  And paranoid.)

My sister an I even coined a term (at least we thought we did) — we called it Sisterhoodship.  An amalgamation of sisterhood and friendship.

And then I watch my girls fight (a lot), and I feel sad.  Very sad.  That they don’t like each other more.

But this week, I’m seeing more.  I’m seeing more than the fights.  I’m seeing those memories – they’re recognizing them from their own past, and they’re creating new ones.

The angst that they have about the visits to the Middle of the Country has always been something that brings them together. But while things were unfolding this week, I saw sides of their relationship that I’m not always privy to.  When Lemon made the decision to come home early, and Mouse was upset – Lemon consoled her sister.  She gave her a hug, and she said, “Mouse, we can video chat every night.  I will email you, and we can talk, and we’ll stay in touch.”  And Lemon accepted the hug.  (for at least 30 seconds before they started elbowing each other and giggling and falling on the floor.)

Today, in the airport, they had inside jokes, and they were good.  They were laughing about Mouse’s fear of flying, and Lemon suggested that she was Mouse’s airplane talisman.  “You’ll always be safe, if you’re with me!” And Mouse agreed.  They came up with goofy scenarios  (“Hi, Lemon, I’m going on my honeymoon, can you meet me at the airport?”) and just generally … loving each other.

Yesterday, Mouse was explaining to me that when they’re in the Middle of the Country, they are mostly “like best friends,” but when they do get in a fight, “it’s like we can really kill each other.”

[Two Years Ago]

I remember that, too.  But those are the things that have faded.

I think they’re more good than I realize.  And I also think my mother had no idea what was going on those nights where Fishy (my sis’s nickname) and I stayed up until 3 a.m. playing cards and singing with Cyndi (Iko, Iko Unday …) She just was mad because we wouldn’t wake up at a reasonable hour the next day.

I’m feeling more optimistic than I have in the past.  Optimistic that when they’re adults, they will find support in each other, and they will have a friendship that goes beyond just being sisters.

[A Month Ago]