100 Years…

This is where I give you some good excuses for being totally silent for the past two weeks. Besides a hurricane and it’s long and drawn out aftermath, I have none. I’m a West coast girl, and I was not prepared for the likes of Irene — even if she wasn’t a “real” hurricane, as I’m told by all the veterans out this way. Nonetheless, she was a bitch and I’m glad to be finally done with her. Kids are back in school, the yard is starting to look normal again, and I may even be back in the office soon if they get that sorted out. But this is not a hurricane post.

I don’t know if its the rainy weather today, or the fact that I’ve had more than a week at home with my kiddos with their school shut down for repairs, but I’m feeling a little sentimental. The one thing that I work on a lot — in the personal realm — is trying to enjoy the moment, especially with my kids. I spend a lot of time moving around, cleaning up, organizing, and it eats up many of the precious moments when they’re busy being little boys. It eats into the time when I could be just sitting and hanging out with my husband, too. That guy who lives here. Sometimes I spend so much time doing these “important” things, that I feel like I am missing everything really important. Afterall, on my deathbed, will I recall that on September 5th I did a really thorough job of cleaning the kitchen sink — that it smelled clean and shone like new? No. Definitely not. But I might remember the fact that this was the day that Lunchbox said his first “sentence” — “I eat.” (Appropriate, no?) And I almost missed it. I’m lucky he said it in the kitchen while I was scrubbing the sink. What else am I missing while I’m off doing busywork and my kids are growing up?

My grandmother has Alzheimer’s disease. My mother is her only child, and I’ve watched for the past five or six years while this has torn her apart. Grandma was doing okay for a while — she grew up in a world that dictated that women should always be polite and put on a good face in front of strangers, and her professional life dictated that she be always proper. That served her well in covering the fact that she didn’t remember meeting my husband before and wasn’t sure who my kids were. Sometimes she wasn’t sure who I was, but usually she knew me and just subtracted a few years from my age and had me back in college. But now she doesn’t know me. And she sometimes doesn’t know my mom, which I know is killing my mom. Mom says that she said goodbye to Grandma years ago, and that this woman is not her mother. Nonetheless, she feels obligated (is obligated, I guess) to visit her weekly, make sure she is safe and as happy as is possible. She takes her to lunch and doctor’s appointments, to get her hair done… and Grandma always went happily. Until recently. Lately she’s forgotten to be proper and polite, and she has been mean. So things have been tough for Mom.

And last week Grandma fell and broke her hip. She had surgery to relieve some of the pain, but odds seem good that a full recovery is not in the tea leaves. Mom believes that since she has basically stopped eating, won’t take her medicine and refuses physical therapy, that the end is in sight. And that will be a blessing and a great loss.

I look at what is happening to my grandmother and feel devastatingly guilty for not appreciating every single second that I’m living this life with these amazing little people to keep it interesting. I feel guilty for ever being in a bad mood or not being 100% present for my husband or my kids. What else is there? In the end, what are we but the sum of the relationships we’ve had and the memories we’ve created?

I heard that song by Five for Fighting on the radio this morning — 100 years. And I thought about the message — maybe I do have 100 years to live. My great-grandparents demonstrated some longevity. But I wonder how much of it I might be aware of, if Alzheimers really does run in families? I’m at 38. That’s less than half. I could turn it around and live in a way that I can be proud of every day for most of my life if I start right now. I’m going to try. I don’t think I’m quite old enough to join the Red Hat Society, but that’s what I’m angling for…

This Mommy needs a drink…

It turns out that unpacking thirty kazillion boxes while trying to manage the never-ending interests of a two and four year old is difficult. Maybe impossible. It turns out that apple juice and goldfish are going to trump unpacking just one tiny box during every spare second between getting home from work, making dinner and getting the TLAs into their beds. (TLA – tiny little assholes… no, they aren’t really assholes. But sometimes the Major and I need to feel like we’re getting a good curse out here and there without them knowing, so we call them TLAs. I know. God hates me, etc., move on.) ANYWAY, I suppose that during this time, I haven’t been quite the nicest mommy in the world. I have a lower than normal tolerance for having to ask ninety times for something to get done, for repetitive questioning, for pretty much everything that goes along with being a small person who ALSO just moved his entire life and is way more confused about the whole thing than I am. But a couple times since we’ve gotten all our boxes, Turbo has told me that he wants a “different mommy” because this mommy is mean. It’s funny… but it also hurts. Because I know I am not always a nice mommy. When I really question him about this new mommy, or give him my permission to go find a new one, he usually breaks down and says that he only wants THIS mommy. And THAT is always nice to hear. (But it ain’t helping get these boxes unpacked, either.)

We Are Here… but far from settled

We haven’t even gotten to this phase yet…

Howdy! Apologies for the long absence… this move has been a lengthy one.  Here’s how it’s gone down so far:

June 12 – movers arrived for our pack up.
June 13 – the boys and I got in the car (which I literally packed up like a huge suitcase) and drove 5 hours to my parents’ house.  We stayed with them until July 6th.  Yup, that’s almost a month with my parents.  Yes, I spent 18 years with them one time, but that was a long time ago.  This was both wonderful and difficult.  Any time you put adults together in tight quarters, there will be personality conflicts and differences.  Add in a dose of the usual family tension over all the same issues you’ve disagreed about since you were 10.  Now add two rambunctious toddlers.  Yeah.  It was a long month, but it was really great to get to spend so much time with my parents, especially since we are now on the opposite coast.
July 6-12 – Lunchbox, Turbo and I bid my parents farewell and drove another 4 hours to visit the Major’s mom.  We had a great visit there and since she has a slightly bigger house than my folks, I got my own room and en suite bathroom!  It felt like a hotel…
July 12 – In the car again, this time for 8 hours in the opposite direction to visit with the Major’s aunt and uncle, who are VERY kid friendly.  (They have a playhouse built into their backyard and more toys than I have at my house!)  The boys always have a great time there, and they are always wonderfully generous with us (as are the Major’s mom and my parents, too.)  Another great visit.
July 15 – We dropped our car off to be shipped and took up residence in a hotel near the airport.
July 16 – We flew across the country and met the Major on the other side.  A nice 13 hour day… fun stuff. We drove “home” to… the Navy Lodge, where we lived until this past Monday, when we moved into our new, empty house.

Now we are sleeping on the floor, cooking on camping pots and pans and generally squatting in our new house (which I LOVE — the house, I mean, not the camping part).  And maybe, one day soon, we might get our stuff.  And maybe our other car (though it is quite fun driving the Major to work and picking him up every day).  The boys start school next week and boy am I — I mean boy are THEY — ready.  I start work the week after that.  Maybe some of my work clothes will come first.

Regardless, I have a computer again and a place to call “home,” so I should be around a bit more often.  Thanks for waiting and hanging in there with me.  I can’t wait for life to feel “normal” once again!

Still here…

My mind remains partially intact, and both children are still alive. We’ve left my parents… I think they might even let us come visit again someday! We are now staying with The Major’s mom (where I get my own room AND bathroom – heaven!) and will then be off to the LAX area to fly out next weekend! the Major has found us a house, though we’ll have to stay a week in the Navy Lodge… Between a cross country flight on my own with 2 kids and a week in a hotel, I think we will be SO ready for a home! Wish me luck… Any tips on air travel with kids are welcome!!

Harder than it looks

I may have misjudged the difficulty involved with taking two kids on the road for a month… It isn’t like taking my “at home” kids along. When away from home, all their stuff, and in many cases on schedules that look nothing like their usual routines, these kids are almost unrecognizable. And making me crazy. Right now, Turbo is watching Barney, who has been outlaws in our house up to now. This is a demonstration of my desperation. also, maintaining a blog from an iPad has been something of a challenge… Apologies for the lack of posts. We will be done with this insane transition in mid-July… But I hope to keep things moving here at Call Sign Mommy in the meantime. Thanks for hanging in there with me!