i've been in hiding since november-ish and after recently peeking my head out a bit i'm starting to think long term hiding has some serious perks.
the election, of course, was...well...a shit show. i made the choice to step away from several of my core groups as a result. i'm not a political person. i am not nearly educated enough to know the nitty gritty of the actual policies and practices, and i'm not nearly hard line enough one side or the other to be completely unsettled by the results. as the election and the results have continued (and will for some time) to be the primary focus for the world at large, from both directions, i will be hiding in my corner trying to understand the best i can and rewatching old seasons of friends and roseanne and trying to sort out the inner workings of my personal bubble.
but one event alone was not enough to derail the trainwreck of the holiday season. good old fashioned family shit decided to add to the merriment, as is usual for the holidays.
it's been a hard few months. a really hard few months. there's been a hard learning curve, some pretty heavy introspection, and, as a result, some major life changes are happening.
a brief overview: 13 year olds are very impressionable and not equipped with the best communication tools, 18 year olds are angry and use every tool at their disposal to wreak as much havoc and pain as possible, and 60+ year olds are delusional, destructive, and need to just disappear already.
BUT, even in the worst of times, there's an opportunity to learn and grow. and i'm trying. i know it sounds cliche, but damn, weed makes you have some deep thoughts.
i've been attending meditation classes since...i think around september, working through a book learning how to have better compassion for myself and others. between some great strains of 420, some good meditation/teaching, and actually allowing myself (forcing myself) to look at things instead of just stuffing them down inside to stay in survivor mode there's been some really key things that have opened up for me:
teen parenting SUCKS. i did it. i survived. but DAAAAAMN. all the things they prepare you for: being broke, being a statistic, higher probability of minimum wage jobs, higher probability of being on government assistance, higher probability of...fill in the blank. they give you all the statistics. they tell you how hard it will be. they prepare you for dealing with a crying baby and a toddler.
what they DON'T tell you is how to learn how to make mistakes with someone ALWAYS watching. i didn't get my 20's to screw up financially and figure out how to bail myself out without it affecting anyone. if i screwed up financially (which i did, repeatedly) it affected 2 other people. if i miscalculated my checkbook ledger i had to worry about feeding 2 other people until it could get straightened out. if i wanted a night out, i had to budget how it would affect daycare and buying shoes. my kids have had to hear "we can't afford..." more times than any kid should. they've been with me in grocery stores and restaurants when my card didn't go through. they've learned to check your balance before you grocery shop. granted, not all BAD lessons, but not something that kids need to be worrying about.
i didn't get the crappy roommate time in college to learn how to live with someone. i didn't get the wandering from job to job time. i didn't get the crappy relationships, watching friends settle down, wedding season chaos, ANY of the crap you've seen a million times in a million different sitcoms. i had to consider the repercussions of everything. I had to watch for the ripple effect. i made PLENTY of 20-something mistakes. PLENTY of them. but, for me, they weren't just mistakes. they were memories for my kids. they were moments emblazoned into little minds and cemented as mistakes and flaws. my oldest son has a devastatingly low opinion of me, i think partly because he remembers it ALL. he remembers my marriage and divorce. he remembers moving all the time. he remembers all my mistakes and hates me for them. and i know part of that will assuage with time as he grows and makes his own mistakes, but for right now they're weapons. sharp, heavy, devastating weapons.
the hardest part for me is that i'm still making mistakes. i'm still learning. i'm still trying like fuck to figure out this parenting thing. but i don't have anyone to look to for how they did it. i don't have anyone to ask how they handled situations. i don't have parents or grandparents or friends with older kids. the friends i have with similar aged kids are in the same boat trying to figure things out too. and i know there aren't "ANSWERS" to parenting. but there's people that have been through it before. there's people that remember better what it was like for them (i've blocked out probably 75% of my childhood).
and in my learning, and in my mistakes, i'm doing what i can to correct what's happened and prevent what i can going forward.
one of the biggest things that came out of the disaster that was this holiday season was some GREAT (hard) conversations with my 13 year old. we've come up with several things that need worked on. we're learning better ways to talk to each other and be heard. we're working on sorting through actual memories vs things people have told him/are telling him.
one of the biggest things that came out of this is that he doesn't feel safe in our home. there was a litany of reasons, some reasonable, some irrational, but at the end of the day, he doesn't feel safe and that is a HUGE concern. part of it is basic neurosis (which he gets 100% from me): worrying about if there's a fire- there's only one way out: down the stairs. it's like he crawled inside my mind (or maybe i said something once that he heard and hung onto). one of the few things i DO remember from my childhood is laying in bed at night counting the time between the blinks on the smoke detectors. i used to count the flashes and plan over and over and over what i would do if there were a fire, what i would grab, how i would get out. this is, to this day, the reason i will never, ever, no matter what, sleep naked. i am 100% convinced that the ONE TIME i sleep naked the house will burn and i'll be in the streets naked AND homeless. i still lay awake at night and think of how much time i would have to wake up the teenager, how many things i could grab, what's important enough or not to risk grabbing, and how to get outside.
let's not even go into how much of a living nightmare it was to have my dad die in a house fire.
so, i get it. i worry about if someone breaks into the house how would we get away, how would i stop them and protect the kiddo. i worry about...fuck...you name it, i've worried about it.
so, I GET IT. and i thought it was just me. and i can deal with things when it's just me. but when it's my kid? game changer.
so, he finally tells me he feels unsafe in out house.
so. time to find a solution: we're selling the house and finding a better, safer feeling place to live.
we've picked out a VERY nice apartment in the valley- closer to work for me, better high school for the kid, all the amenities that you could want, and SAFER. one floor, better exits, better security, newer construction...the list goes on.
we list the house in a week, the last month has been a process of cleaning/purging/repairing/getting ready.
third time's the charm, right?
and, for those playing along at home, yes, i've attempted this before and failed MISERABLY. i've taken that into heavy consideration, and, with the great help of some good 420 and a few quiet evening, have figured out a few things: last time we weren't ready. we didn't have a reason. we didn't have a plan. i didn't get the idea that i don't need to be friends with the realtor, it's a professional relationship. i wanted an ally, someone that was on my side. sure, that would be GREAT, but this is their JOB. this isn't coffee time with a BFF, this is a business transaction. also, they don't need to like my house AS IT IS. sure, it's hard when people look around and criticize paint colors, when they tell me my taste is too eclectic (weird) to sell the house, when they nitpick all the flaws that trust, i'm WELL aware of. they're job is to make it as appealing to as many people as possible. whomever buys it isn't going to live with me. they're not going to keep the same decor. they're not going to get why i think a shower curtain works in a livingroom. and it doesn't matter.
i don't know if the realtor didn't explain it well to me before or if i just didn't listen, but I GET IT NOW. i'm not showing MY house to people, i'm showing A house to people. yeah, a few things up on the walls to make it feel like a HOME are nice, all my knick-knacks and clutter? not so much.
also? this is probably the first time i've really had the time to fully consider a move. we're not moving because we HAVE to. any deadlines are completely mine. i don't have a landlord going into default kicking me out. i don't have a lease expiring, i don't have any of the reasons that we've moved before.
this time WE CHOOSE. we were able to take time, decide what we want in a new place, research, and really, really be picky. i didn't have to take the first thing i found in our price range and make it work. i didn't have to find the only thing affordable in a college town on a single budget. i didn't have to settle in any way. and i'll tell you what, really getting to pick, with no limits on it? WHOLE DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE. also? apartments now are WAY nicer than the last time we looked. the new concept of "communities" is actually really amazing. common spaces, shared gardens, places you can have guests over, allowing painting and decorating and making it your own home...things have really changed. it's pretty amazing.
this is also the first time we haven't been just shoving things in boxes. i'm taking my time really thinning out, deciding what goes and what goes away. i know the floor plan of the new place, the measurements, so i'm able to decorate in my brain and know what will fit and what will make clutter. i'm able to go through cabinets, get rid of things we haven't touched since we moved into this house. i'm able to catalog (dude, there's some AMAZING smart phone apps for cataloging movies and books- do it, even if you're not moving!).
we have been in control of this move from the very first minute. that's a whole new experience for me. deciding IF we wanted to move, picking out where, picking out when...it's been really healthy and therapeutic in so many ways.
i realized the other night that i never really took buying the house and moving seriously before. to me, buying a house was exactly the same as renting an apartment. i looked around, found one that would work that we could afford, signed a few papers, and moved in. i didn't have to do the mortgage, the inspections, the closing issues. i just handed over a check and they handed me keys. that was literally it. and as i've said before, i didn't go into buying a house for the right reasons. i bought it because i was "supposed" to. this time i'm doing the process because we WANT to. that's a whole different ball of wax.
i feel prepared this time. i know this is for sure. this is happening. this is intentional, thought out, planned.
it's a big change. something good is coming out of a LOT of bad. i'm kind of getting to hit the reset button on losing my dad. and i am eternally grateful for the opportunity. i'm getting the chance to make better decisions with what his death entrusted to me. i have better tools for processing all the emotions and experiences. i have a little more distance from the initial ground zero, better perspective.
here we go.
third time's the charm.