Tag Archive: parenting


Something struck me last night at a presentation I attended with the Austin/Travis County Reentry Roundtable. Something that I want to write about without a witty lyrical title or any images.

First, I want to emphatically acknowledge that if I wasn’t already aware of the incredible challenges those who are re-entering the community after being released from jail or prison face, I certainly would have been after last night’s presentation. I have no lack of empathy for people who have had run-ins with the law to any degree, and particularly with those who have committed non-violent crimes and are struggling with the co-efficient of mental illness (including substance abuse) or those who have been dealt the short hand of being treated as a second-class citizen in our society for any number of reasons that have been proven to put one in a position to choose to commit (or at least be more prone to being prosecuted for committing) crimes or become dependent on substances…or both.

However, one thing that was mentioned last night and was celebrated as a victory kind of hit me in the gut and has stuck there like a stone ever since. One of the presenters stated that the laws have recently changed so those who are re-entering are able to delay their obligations to pay child support upon release. This is meant to help ease the burden of the formerly-incarcerated, but it made my head buzz. After listening to the panelists talk about the other debt collectors who required immediate attention upon release: bankers, student loan officers, and the prison system itself, which charges for monthly P.O. visits, among other things…it was stunning to me that the person/people who were expected to bear the brunt of easing the burden on the newly-released would be the children of the formerly-incarcerated. How on earth do we justify that? Is there no way to suspend college loan payments, mortgages, or credit card debt for a period after release? Do we really need to further burden the parent who has already been burdened by being the sole provider for a child while the other parent has been in jail? Is this what we call progress?

I guess it’s my experience as a single parent that informs my outrage over this. I mean, it’s bad enough that there are people out there who view child support as “indentured servitude” by the other parent. I hear so many stories of non-custodial parents who haven’t been incarcerated who actually have the fucking nerve to be irritated with the custodial parent for expecting them to, you know, earn a fucking living and pay their fair share of support, as if the custodial parent actually has a choice to do so. And now this from the state – this dismissal of the very real challenge of being the sole financial provider of children who have two TWO *TWO* parents. As a single parent with primary custody, I don’t have the option to opt-out, delay, or postpone taking care of my child’s everyday needs. I simply have to find a way.

And, while I know those who have been recently released from jail or prison have a significantly more difficult time finding a way, I feel if the state is compelled to make it an option for them to opt out, postpone, or delay these responsibilities, it ought to take responsibility on behalf of its recently released inmates and provide assistance to the co-parent of those it chooses to incarcerate. Anything less than that is flat out invalidating the challenges of those parents and children who are the collateral damage of our (in)justice system, and by association – it even manages to invalidate the need for all children to have the support of both of the people who chose to bring them into the world, whether they’ve been incarcerated or not.

snippets of springtime from random journal entries:

There is a tiny baby in polka dots here in the waiting room at the eye doctor. We are waiting for Buddha the Grouch’s pupils to dilate. The baby cris, is picked up by her mom. She (the baby) makes a motor boat sound with her tiny lips. I tell Buddga the Grouch “That baby is cute. I want to squish her.” Buddha the Grouch says “That baby wants me to be able to play M-rated video games.

***

End of day I’m off my feet

This cultivated silence, background noise & candle & a cuppa joe. Resounding non-sound a temporary respite from day’s dull roar & I sit in silence, let word overtake me silence bringing onrush of joy to temporary standstill silence & my crickets still sound like birds after all these years humidity brings it back to me that bedroom window the only place to press my face for cooler air to embrace. People drifting in and out of my picture view, bumbling like enormous mountains the size of ships. The traffic shifts my focus.

***

Dear You,

What have I learned this week? That you can’t force a banana into a peanut jar? That I don’t know why I keep ending up in the middle of crazy-ass relationships. It’s like the reverse instinct. Like when we were at the zoo & the people all ran TOWARDS the lion when he roared.

***

What I mean to say is this – I am forming sentences in a vacuum. A grave mistake. A simple misdirection and a hollow expression. This magic can interact transgressively. Regress into an open can. Trying to believe I can be liberated. B.B. King is free from the spell.

***

I ate popcorn for dinner tonight – and other tales of misguided adulthood.

The dog is outside, whining. Right now, I’m playing Sims. Enjoying peace and housematelessness and guestlessness. Soon there will be more guests and new guests and before that kids and back to work.

But at least the house is mostly clean, and the laundry is mostly done, and I have mostly exercised mostly every day. Mostly.

From here on out, I get to do what I want to do. Wander around in my pajamas all day.

Mostly.

***

 

IMG_7660

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When did I allow my heart to get so fettered, not feathered,

Weathered. This is not love

by any approximation & yet

it is approximately the closest

I feel like I can get

 

One who gives me everything but

one who gives me nothing but

I divide myself into portions

Portions of me

Free

For the taking.

 

I should be satisfied

with

the dove in my hand, and

the hawk in my bush.

Instead,

I may go cold turkey.

***

20140208_073710

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I wonder what I am half paying attention to now?

What am I?

I stopped caring

the minute I stopped

defining.

Steadfastly refuse to call myself

a poet

Though…pictures

paint words

in my mind.

**

IMG_7766

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking in heat

Falling in love w/the you in everyone

& longing, which is the better part of love

The distance so tangible, it feels

like a touch

that keeps me from alone long not long alone. The

you in everyone I have never had had

never known no never. Will never know

& that’s ok b/c longing

is the better part

of love

***

IMG_8214

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listening to wind chime & bird chatter and cars going by. It sure feels good to be alive.

In a minutes, I’m going to wrap this up & take the kids out for ice cream. Maybe come back out on the porch later & write some more.

Oh, and – I got the job.

***

IMG_8215

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chirping, I hope like a cricket – w/out wings. I can only fall. Hop. Skip. You say it is not the way you planned things. I say Fuck Your Plans.

***

The Tao of Bird argued about not wanting to take a shower for about 30 minutes this morning. Including yelling and name calling and tantrum throwing and many many many “I HATE YOU”‘s. Now he is in the shower. Has been for about 15 minutes. Singing away. Apparently never planning to come out.

Meanwhile, Buddha the grouch is still sleeping, I am listening to an Animal Collective song called Bees. The birds are singing. The sun is shining.

“Please Take Your Time…”

The song entreaties me. Entices me. Pleads with me.

 

I spent the 17th anniversary of being a mother doing nothing much in particular. Cleaning the house, noticing small things, listening to music. Also, stressing a little bit about money while feeling angry that I have to stress about money, because the things I’m stressing about shouldn’t be solely my responsibility to stress over.

There are things about parenting through an abusive relationship that are inordinately difficult. I am silenced by virtue of not wanting to hurt the other people in the equation. I can’t speak as openly as I’d like about the experience, because some of the things I would like to speak openly about would be devastating to my boys. There is a power in being an abuser with children. It’s not fair, and it’s not right. But it is. And the survivor of the abuse shoulders that silence, just as the survivor tends to shoulder all things that aren’t convenient for the abuser to deal with. It’s frustrating beyond measure, and sometimes it really gets to me.

Today, it’s really getting to me. I have fought for so long to give these children all that they need and a good bit of what they want in life. It hasn’t always been easy. There has always been a trade off. When things were easier financially, they were more difficult logistically. Now that things are easier in terms of me feeling like I’m not constantly stressed about work, I’m working really hard to not stress about money. I’ve been through this. I’ve been through worse. I’ll be ok. I find myself saying that out loud quite frequently lately. I’ll be ok. In conversations with others, as well as myself. I’ll be ok. I’ll be ok. I’ll be ok.

And I will be ok, but I’m not ok. I’m not ok with the silence. I’m not ok with pretending. I’m not ok with the fact that there will never be justice, in any form, for the things I’ve experienced. I’m not ok, because IT’S NOT OK. But it will have to be ok. I will have to find another outlet to share my stories. I will shoulder the lies, along with everything else, because the truth is not convenient.

And I have a right to feel angry about that for a bit…before I let it go, take a deep breath, and work to ensure everything IS ok.

I spent much of the morning today thinking about artichokes. Working on my forthcoming zine, Oyster Lexicon.

In case I haven’t already described it (my understanding of this project has evolved over time, so I might have written about it before in a less specific way) Oyster Lexicon will be an alphabet of me (aka Lainie the Oyster) and A is for Artichoke. I have an artichoke drawing, a recipe, and artichoke mix…originally I thought I would just do 6 letters of the alphabet per issue, but it’s starting to seem like I might be doing 1-3 letters per issue, what with all of the artichoke media I’m going to gather. The zine will also be fully or partially full-color. I’m still debating about the size format. It will be hand-lettered (no computers will be used in the creation of the pages, but I will be scanning the hand-drawn/hand-lettered pages to do the layout and MIGHT do some computer editing after that.)

I’m super excited about doing a zine again. I had started to do one years ago after a trip to Chicago, but never really sustained an interest in it (though I do still have some great pieces that I was going to include in that zine that I might use for my “C is for Chicago” pages of Oyster Lexicon.) My plan is to put out the zine, as well as postcards and maybe notecards with the illustrations I’m making for each letter. I’d love to encourage people to send out actual mail, so I feel like making things that other people can use to brighten up the mailboxes of friends and relationships will accomplish another goal.

It’s been a long time since I last put out a zine, so I’m not entirely sure how I will do distribution. Ideally, I will be able to get some advanced orders to help fund the printing and mailing of the initial print run, which will hopefully continue to (mostly) fund any additional print runs. It’s not like I work at Kinko’s and can get free copies anymore. Speaking of which – do I still know people who work at Kinko’s and can get me a deal on copies? 😉

Etsy? WePay? Amazon books? iBooks? How are people promoting/distributing zines these days? If anyone reading this can give me any advice/suggestions, I’d really appreciate it.

In other news –

My new rhythm of days is working really well for me. I feel like I’ve achieved a pretty decent balance of internal/external time, and I’m making time for art and education as well as day-to-day practical things. I’m a little less worried about completing everything on my list, and am working on finding chunks of my week where I can just forget about time completely and focus on a task until *I* feel done with it, rather than when a clock tells me it’s time to be done with it. I still need to work on eliminating distractions and focusing on the task at hand (as evidenced by the fact that I got caught up in several facebook discussions during the writing of this blog post.) but I do feel like I’m spending the time I have doing things that are important to me, or essential to my family and community.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about dating, and how people without children maybe don’t really grasp the challenges in the lives of single parents – particularly custodial parents. Primarily, it’s odd to me how even very kind and understanding people can misunderstand how much of a financial and logistical burden it is to be the custodial parent of children – even when those children are older and not in need of constant supervision. As a woman and a feminist, for instance, I’m not really keen on a guy always picking up the tab for me. As a single mother who is struggling financially, however, you are damn straight I can’t even afford dating unless the other person pays. I’m totally cool with non-extravagant dating. I’m especially cool with cooking in or creating our own DIY entertainment…but it’s really difficult for me to help people understand that my inability to pay for a date is not a “reverse sexist” thing, but a “financial necessity” thing…and if I was the person in the relationship in a better financial situation, I would definitely be the person who offered to pay, or I would adjust my expectations of what a date might entail to ensure affordability. It’s a tricky subject, and it makes me want to avoid dating rather than having to attempt to unpack it with someone. hahaha.

Also, my children are not baggage. It might be challenging to date a woman with children, but it is hopefully a net positive. Oddly enough, I feel like my children become more of a challenge to my dating relationships as they get older. When they were younger, they tended to be more agreeable and open-minded about accepting people into our lives. Now they are more set in their ways and can be resistant to inviting new people in, even temporarily. I’m sure it’s difficult for a man to come into my home and be shunned by my adolescent boys, but that is the way adolescents sometimes are. It might be more exaggerated in my household because I am not a strict authoritarian, and my boys have always been very free to express themselves (for better or for worse) – but it’s the way it is. It’s really up to the adults in the relationship to navigate these issues…and I seem to find men who want instant acceptance from people who just aren’t designed to be uncritical of new people in their lives. It takes time. It takes time. It takes time. And the last thing I need is to be this person who is trying to solely balance the needs of the children with the needs of a potential new partner. Guess whose needs are going to come first every time, guys? You got it – the non-adults! The ones who I am obligated to care for until they are able to care for themselves. Which, by the way,  might not be the very day they turn 18. It could possibly take longer than that. Because all kids mature differently.

I suppose dating as a single parent of adolescent boys is a good filter for me, though. It’s a lot more difficult to get involved in relationships and situations that are overly-complicated and require more of me than I should be expected to reasonably give. I’m just not capable of accommodating another person’s needs above mine or my children’s right now. It’s challenging for me, because my tendency is to accommodate. My tendency is to invite chaos. My tendency is to try new and different things, experiment, and see where they end up. And while I might be giving up on some things that might, after some work, end up being beneficial…I just can’t spare the time and energy to get there at this point in my life. I require a partner who is able to give more than take right now. I require a partner who accommodates me, more than requiring me to accommodate him. That FEELS selfish to me, but it’s reality. It’s where I am. And, really? I’m fucking worth it! hahahaha.

 

All Hail the Non-Custodial!

He who reads your journals,

and holds their fatalistic contents against you

For THIRTEEN.

FUCKING.

YEARS.

He who gives you

Just what you deserve

and more

He who stayed up countless nights,

witnessing crying jags

of an anxious infant

from across the room

on the couch

in his unemployed haze

while you begged to be relieved

so you could sleep enough

for work in the morning

Hail the non-custodial!

For never reading a single book

about parenting

or education

but who is just sure

You are doing it wrong

Who doesn’t want you

to bother him

with the details…

Unless he does.

Hail the custodial!

who complains about

discriminatory courts

Who enjoys custodial rights, but never

custodial responsibility

Who never questions

why birthday celebrations

slumber parties

and pretty much all relationships

exist at the home of the custodial.

Never considers the cost

of creating a welcoming home,

but enjoys the privilege

of not having to pay it.

Hail him! Bow before him!

Prostrate yourself for the crumbs

that barely pay the grocery budget

of a house with two

Growing

Teenage boys.

The same amount

that supported

toddler diets and

grade school needs

can now certainly be stretched

to cover

adolescent appetites

and extracurricular

activities.

Throw roses in his wake,

as he tells you

that’s all you’re getting.

Curse your inability to understand

non-custodial math

as you foolishly add up the costs of lodging,

entertainment,

education,

and logistical expenses.

Make sure he knows how special

and holy

he is.

And always. Always. ALWAYS.

Find a way to make do

without his assistance

Because those in custody

should not have to want

for his wanting.

p.s. The subject

of this poem

is FICTIONAL.

Because

Maude forbid anyone

EVER

besmirch the

good name

of the

non-custodial.

It’s all done! ❤

Tattoo accomplished! I feel complete, and at the same time…I suddenly have the desire to get a bunch more tattoos. I just saw a picture of a really cool crow tattoo and I was like “Oooooh…I could have a crow on my right arm.” It’s like that. I’ve heard many people say tattoos are like potato chips…you can’t stop at just one.

But for now I’ll enjoy my artichoke, and be glad that I finally got it done. And, as it turns out, I waited just long enough for it to be perfect timing. Everything that is happening in my life right now enhances that tattoo, gives it more meaning, provides a particular context, and makes it even more special than I thought it would be when I first had the idea to tattoo a flaming heartichoke on my arm many years ago.

That’s just how things go. We always think we know the best timing for certain things, and frequently discover that the universe (or whatever you want to call the infinite stage upon which our lives unfold) has other ideas – often better ideas – about how and when things will unfold. It’s why I’ve never put much stake in making plans and having goals. Instead, I try to pay attention to natural rhythms in my life and focus on a center based on how I feel about life. I mean, to be sure, I make plans and have goals, but I try. I try. I really try to remain open to all of those variables that tend to rearrange those plans and throw a monkeywrench into those goals.

“There is no way to suppress change […] there is only the choice between a way of living that allows constant, if gradual, alterations and a way of living that combines great control and cataclysmic upheavals. Those who panic and bind the trickster choose the latter path. It would be better to learn to play with him, better especially to develop styles (cultural, spiritual, artistic) that allow some commerce with accident, and some acceptance of the changes contingency will always engender. -Lewis Hyde (from Trickster Makes the World: How Disruptive Imagination Creates Culture.)

I have many things in my life that I am thankful for. One of which is an early exposure to Taoism, which has always allowed me to convince my frequently fraught mind that, really, none of this matters. And if I just sit still and wait patiently, a lot of times things just work themselves out. And when they don’t, I have more energy to devote to working them out because I did sit patiently the last time. And when they REALLY don’t, fuck it. In the end, it never mattered anyway.

Bird, age 12, mentioned today that he suddenly didn’t have any idea what life was all about. He said it as though he had known 5 minutes before and lost it. It was one of those moments where I thought maybe I was being called upon to Be Wise. I did my best. I looked to punk rock for the meaning of life, as I frequently do, and told him “Strive to survive, causing the least suffering possible.” I also reminded him that he’s 12, and it’s ok to just enjoy life and maybe not worry about what it means so much right now. But who am I fooling? This is the kid who, at age 2, would walk up to me and ask “Why am I alive inside this body, mom?”

My job as this child’s parent is to learn the lessons he is constantly teaching me, teach them back to him, and try to honor and welcome the trickster when our plans and goals are sidetracked or rerouted.

Mommy-Son time with The Tao of Bird today. We went out to breakfast at his FAVORITE RESTAURANT ON EARTH, Donut Taco Palace.

We ate donuts AND tacos, and enjoyed some tasty beverages.

Juice…or no juice?

I kept trying to get a picture of Bird, but he kept, as he called it, “Sean Penning” me.

I have embarrassingly few photos of my children. Both of them started to hate having their photo taken at a young age, and I gradually just trained myself to take pictures of food and trees and birds and stuff. I can’t say I blame them…I’m not terribly fond of being in photos, either. But I need good material to embarrass them in front of their dates wi…er, I mean, to send to relatives who have no clue what my children look like.

After breakfast, Bird and I went to the library to check out some books. Bird is really enjoying Lord of the Flies. He is just certain that’s the way it would really be if children were stranded on an island. I told him he needs to watch Lost…or Gilligan’s island…for slightly different points of view. He says he likes books that are grim and depressing and unsentimental. I tried to get him to read Native Son by Richard Wright, but he chose some sort of weird space cowboy mystery, instead. I think this is going to be an interesting reading year for him. He’s exploring new things. I chose some awesome books that I won’t be able to finish by the time they are due, and will probably end up buying, after paying my overdue fine at the library. Because that’s how I roll.

In the car on the way home, we listened to this episode of Radiolab.  What’s funny, is I remember listening to that episode of radiolab on a walk by myself one night. I was going to pick up Bird at a neighbor’s house while I was listening to it. I have no idea why I remember that, as the day was completely insignificant, unless you consider that radio show to be significant, which I suppose you can. It’s a pretty good episode.

Back home, I watched Heathers while Buddha the Grouch scoffed. As a 16-year old (actually, pretty much since he turned 5) he seems morally obligated to scoff at anything I like. In fact, he has actually told me that he’s not allowed to like anything I recommend to him. I keep telling him that’s going to bite him in the ass, especially when all of his friends start talking about how awesome, say, Raising Arizona is…and he’s either going to have to admit that it’s a great movie, or he’s going to forever be a closeted Coen Bros. fan. But I wonder if Heathers is really only funny in the context of all of the ’80s John Hughes-formula teen angst movies. I guess I’ll have to ask someone else’s kid. I hadn’t watched the movie since my 20’s, and I laughed out loud at some parts, but OH, THOSE SHOULDERPADS. hahaha. Of all of the eras of fashion, you have to admit…the 80’s were pretty fucking ridiculous.

The rest of the day was spent grocery shopping, driving to the other side of town and back, and avoiding being sucked into an endless “How It’s Made” marathon, because apparently that’s on Netflix now. I’m so toast if they ever start streaming House Hunters. As it is, Buddha the Grouch keeps trying to get me to watch “just this little bit” of How It’s Made, and I keep objecting vociferously.

So, you know, typical weekend of late. I’m glad I’ve taken the time to spend extra time with (or at least being available to) the kiddos lately. I’ve missed out on some important activities that I’d really like to be involved in, but I just don’t feel right not being here right now. Especially with the coming weeks and the work-hour craziness they will be bringing. Insane amounts of overtime – here I come! I’m telling people I’ll probably see them in October. Hopefully, I’ll still have time to write.

Today was…interesting.

The Tao of Bird started school yesterday. He’s been really anxious about it, but I have been doing my best to get him prepared. Slowly over the preceding weeks we’ve worked on desensitizing as much as we can, and I’ve tried to remain positive with him even though my fucking heart is breaking about this and I think it’s totally dumb. I’ve reassured him that he’ll be fine, that he’s prepared, that he’ll make friends…that there’s nothing to be afraid of, and that, regardless, just about everyone else there has the same fears.

My plan was to get to the school early Monday morning to get his schedule so I could at least make sure he knew how to get to all of his classes. Unfortunately, the registrar had other plans, and we spent all the time I had intended to spend further preparing him for a successful first day sitting in the office (yet again) because there was some question about our paperwork. Oh, the endless freaking paperwork you have to fill out to go to school these days – most of which seems to center on keeping certain students OUT of certain schools.

But we got it figured out, and we were directed down the (wrong) hallway to TOB’s first class, corrected ourselves, and I shooed him in the right direction before going home.

I spent the whole day expecting to get a call from the counselor…or someone. But, nothing. It seemed like this school thing might take. TOB came home in a somewhat upbeat mood, and managed to maintain that for several hours before breaking down in tears, telling me how stressful it was, telling me he couldn’t even eat lunch because the cafeteria stressed him out so bad. Telling me he wasn’t going to go to school anymore. And I gave him the pep talk. And I went over the routine for bedtime, breakfast time, school time, and after-school time.

And this morning when I tried to wake him up…he didn’t want to get up. Then he got up…but he didn’t want to get out of bed. Then he got out of bed, but he was ABSOLUTELY NOT GOING TO SCHOOL. And over the period of an hour, we inched closer and closer to the door…me alternating between attempting to encourage and trying not to scream at the top of my lungs. Closer to the door. Closer. Closer. Until I was able to get him out. Said goodbye. Locked up. Went to my office. Came out to check 5 minutes later, and he was gone. “Phew.” I thought.

On my break, I felt a twinge of sorrow when I exited my office and there was no TOB flinging himself at me from some corner of the house.

I went to the back door to let the cat in…

And there was TOB.

“What the…?” I opened the door. He said “Hi mom. I’m going to school tomorrow. I thought about it. I’m sorry. By the way, while I was out there the cats and I started a cult of Carl Sagan. Tiny Cat is a bad disciple, though.”

You know…sometimes you look at your children, and they seem so much BIGGER than they should be. Today I looked at TOB – who is pretty much as tall as me now. And I couldn’t get over how tiny he seems. I gotta say – I think he’s a tough kid. I think he’s a lot stronger than he should have to be at his age. Don’t get me wrong about that. But after all of the phone calls and conversations with counselors and emails to his father and tears and discussions and agreements…all I could think about was how very much I love that little guy. Like, with all my fucking heart. And I just don’t want anyone to fuck with him. I want him to be as HIM as he possibly can be. Silly, smart, brave, kind, strong, sensitive, sweet…HIM.

So, I’m trying to remain honest. I’m acknowledging that I’m not feeling great about all of this, but that it will be good for him to be settled into a routine. This whole year has been a huge disruption in the life of our family. In the lives of these children. They’ve been through the ringer. Being in school gives TOB a good neutral ground to stand on and cultivate his own identity independent of his overbearing mommy and his know-it-all big brother. He has a foundation of learning, and love of learning, that I know will persist. And he has some pretty significant obstacles he needs to overcome. I’m not averse to having a team of experts helping me support him in dealing with those obstacles.

I’m trying to focus on these things, but I will still visibly flinch when I read teacher handouts that contain misspelled words. And I will still audibly complain when I’m filling out YET ANOTHER FUCKING FORM, especially if said FUCKING FORM is on treated paper that’s impossible to actually write on.

Onward and upward. Tomorrow is another day. I’ve been assured it will be better. Cross your fingers for us, plz.

Underdog

 

8 months ago, it was decided that my youngest child would start school this fall, against my better judgment, after having been homeschooled his entire life.

5 months ago, I attempted to initiate a dialog with my ex in order to better facilitate this transition. My ex responded with suspicions of my “agenda” and refused to negotiate with me unless we were in front of a mediator and would end the session with a legal document that could be executed. A legal document that would take into consideration any of a thousand different decisions that need to be made on a regular basis, such as “who will buy pens when he runs out.” “Who will be able to pick the child up at the last minute on a rainy day.” and “who’s going to pay for the field trip next week.” Decisions which, by the way, default to being my responsibility in the absence of agreement, so there’s really no motive for negotiation on his part. Previously, any attempt on my part to request financial or logistical assistance for activities and events has been soundly rejected, with the explanation that since it was allegedly my sole decision to homeschool my children, it was my responsibility to bear the burden of that decision. He ended our back-and-forth email exchange by asserting, in a rare moment of admission of intent, “This will hurt you” (meaning me) “more than it will hurt them.” (meaning my children.) I chose to not continue the conversation.

In absence of this fabled legal agreement that would magically address the myriad of issues that crop up in the day-to-day life of a child, my ex refused to speak to me at all for several months. Any attempt on my part to negotiate was met with either silence or insistence that I communicate through my lawyer (unfortunately, I am not able to retain a lawyer, so there wasn’t a whole lot I could do to get through to him.)

Meanwhile, the date of registration drew closer, and in spite of my attempts to negotiate the tasks that needed taking care of, I received silence. Until, finally, last month, an attempt was made by him to initiate a legal order by which some of these questions would be answered. The very same questions I had attempted to negotiate about a month prior to that.

While we waited for lawyers to pass information back and forth, deadlines loomed. An attempt was made by me again to define roles and responsibilities. The response was unequivocal that absent a legal agreement, I was not to expect my ex to be responsible for the mundane tasks of school enrollment.

Rather than arguing, I took it upon myself to take care of those tasks, now near the deadline for completion. My ex’s response to my lack of response THIS TIME was to call the school to check up on whether or not I was doing what he had already made exceptionally clear that he was not going to be doing.

Let me be clear that I have never once failed to care for my children. In spite of many and varied obstacles, many of which have been caused by my ex, I have always managed to get done what needed to get done so my children have the things they need. It is an abusive tactic to continually act as though a person is unreliable when they have done nothing but prove themselves to be reliable. And it’s an abusive tactic to drag a third party into the thick of things and make it seem as though the target of abuse needs to be checked up on.

Unfortunately, when my ex called to “check up on me” – he was given different information than I was. So now EVERYONE is confused, and EVERYONE is dragged into this endless loop of manipulative and manipulated communication. And after months and months of refusing to communicate, suddenly we are down to the wire and I’m being treated as though *I* have procrastinated, *I* have delayed, and *I* am irresponsible.

Last night, my eldest son was looking at the scores from the standardized test he took a year ago. The one that was supposed to prove he wasn’t learning. The one that he scored VERY well on. He said to me “Mom. I don’t understand how dad can look at these test scores and insist that homeschooling doesn’t work. He’s not dumb. It’s obvious from these tests that homeschooling is working.”

I honestly didn’t know how to respond to that. I’m tired of being put in that position. I’m also really fucking tired of having to be silent about it.

So, fuck it. This is my life. I hope I won’t have to continue to post these frustrated rants much longer. I hope a rhythm will soon be established, these issues will be resolved, and I can move forward and not have to pay so much attention the the negative energy this person attempts to drown me in.

Cross your fingers. Remain calm. Listen to Sly. ❤

 

Things are gearing up in Chicago. It’s going to be difficult to keep my eyes off of my feed and on my work tomorrow.

Right now, I’m freshly showered and staring at tiny lights in between words/thoughts.

Being a mama is so freaking difficult, you guys. My goal, as a parent, is to allow my children to have as much freedom as I feel like they are capable of handling responsibly, and to allow them as many choices as I can.

Sometimes, that makes things a lot more difficult. Sometimes…I’m not entirely sure I’ve made the right choices as a parent, so how can I expect my children to make the right choices as children?

I found this poem fragment in an old journal:

Usually my relationships die like Elvis

on the toilet.

This one

Kurt Cobained – offing itself

before it had a chance to become what it swore it never would be.

(I’m glad I still have heroes. I’m glad I still have dreams)