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Finding the Ladder


Thursday

I only have a few minutes to write, so this will be another post done piece-meal.  But it’s for a good cause, I suppose.  I was asked to come in and work for the last 3 hours of school today.  I just have not been getting the sub calls that I was accustomed to receiving in past years, so I kind of jumped at this one – even though it means I need to change into something a little less comfortable and try to shake myself from my allergy-induced drug haze.

This morning was rough.  I found myself so angry with Ellie, which is a common state these days.  Her behavior is NOT improving.  Her therapist is taking the entire month of Oct. off for a sabbatical, which is not helpful, either.  This morning Ellie, instead of looking for her jacket, decided to use her sister’s toothbrush to scrub the sink.  Not her own toothbrush, of course.  She wouldn’t ever think of that!  Over the weekend she stapled Lizzie’s index finger (!).  It’s continual assault after assault.  A week ago I met with my pastor and his wife and his wife pointed out that Ellie is attacking the person she probably cares most about in the world.  In her broken mind and intense fear of loss, it probably makes sense to her, although it leaves me scratching my head and angry at her most of the time.  And then when I’m mad, it only serves to heighten the misbehavior. 

And tomorrow, Ellie is being honored in the first “Trojan Tromp” of the school year because her behavior at school is so exemplary – a “real leader” her teacher proudly told me.  I wanted to throw up.

I did feel encouraged last week after talking to my pastor and his wife, although they weren’t able to offer any real solid advice, either.  They suggested I read her verses about God’s love for her at night before bedtime.  So, I dutifully found and printed off some.  But some nights I am gritting my teeth as I read them.

Ugh.  I just hate this.  I’m trying not to allow myself self-pity, either.  But the truth is, parenting these girls would be a lot easier if I had a husband to support me and take a lot of the burden from me.  I am worn out from doing this alone.
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I found the girls’ birth father on Facebook the other day.  I’ve looked for him off and on for the past 6 years and finally hit pay dirt.  He’s a sperm donor – not a father.  He didn’t care about his children which is why he lost them.  I have less sympathy for him than I for the bio mother, really.  But, as I suspected, he is where Lizzie gets her looks.  I enlarged his face on my computer screen and it was like looking at my girl.  Ellie is the spitting image of her birth mom.  I think there may come a day when I show the pictures to the girls because I don’t want them going through social media looking and then fabricating all sorts of false narratives in their minds once they do find them.  I’d like to guide them on this.  When they’re older – not now, though.

Although, Lizzie is pretty level headed and I think she’d be more inclined to call a spade a spade and probably would not waste too much emotional energy on the man whose sole contribution was half her DNA.  She was telling me recently about a conversation she had a school with a classmate.  She said this girl is a “drama queen” (her words) and kind of mean.  The girls were were recently discussing how it is a person gets to Heaven.  Lizzie said she laid out the entire plan of salvation and then this girl sniffed and said, “No – I just think you have be really, really good and then you get to go!”  Lizzie said she thought – but didn’t say – “Well, good luck with that, then!” Bwaha-ha-ha….

Last week we met with the endocrinologist, our first visit since April and since having the Superillin implanted in June.  Since April Lizzie has gained 12 pounds and 1” in height.  She is now 4’11 and 121 pounds.  And she’s still 9!  I was under the impression that the drug was supposed to shut down growth all around, but I guess all it does is shut down the estrogen which prevents a period from happening.  We had her bone age tested again.  In January she tested at 11 ½ years and now, 8 months later, her bones are coming in at age 13.  In a way, this is good news, though.  When the bone age hits 15 the child is done growing.  Now we know that Lizzie will not be a 7 foot tall woman in her adulthood.  In fact, she may not even end up as tall as me (I’m 5’6”).

On our way to the dr’s appointment, Lizzie asked me if she was considered to be an “African American.”  So that sparked a good conversation, most of it on Lizzie’s side, who declared that she thought the terminology was dumb because she didn’t come from Africa.  I would agree with that.  She said, “I’m just an American, Mom – like every other person who was born here.”  Again – I completely agree.  So, we’re filling out some paperwork at the dr’s office and they want to know race and offer several options.  Lizzie about came unglued when I circled, “African American.”  There was another option that read, “Decline to Answer” and she tried to get me to circle that instead because, she hissed, “I don’t want them to think that I think I should be called an ‘African American’ ‘cuz I’m NOT!”  She cracks me up and I love the way her mind works sometimes.

Friday

I’m typing while listening with one ear (which is all I have, actually) to WHO, hoping to hear results of the confirmation vote for Judge Kavanaugh.  I found myself oddly fascinated by the whole hearing yesterday.  If he is not confirmed, it will be a travesty.  I completely believe that man and believe these charges to be nothing less than dirty politics by the Democrats.
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I had a sudden thought last night.  What if I were to try to do some sort of “date” with each of the Littles?  It wouldn’t have to be anything extensive or expensive.  It could be as simple as a walk and an ice-cream cone.  If I tried to take one of them out every 10-14 days then they would each get a turn about every 6 weeks.  I don’t know that I really  need to do this with Sam but I don’t want him to feel left out and it certainly won’t hurt our relationship.  My main concern, of course, is the girls – right now, mostly Ellie.  I feel discouraged to realize that, because of school, we don’t see eachother that much anyway (which, in all honesty, is a bit of a relief).  But when we are together, she is so rotten that she only sees the “mad” side of me.  Maybe if she got some one-on-one time with me, which never happens, it might be a relationship builder.  The thought came to me suddenly last night in a blinding flash of inspiration.  It wasn’t until later that it occurred to me that the girls’ therapist has been suggesting for a long time that I consider something like this, too.  So I think I’m going to shoot for  one night next week and I’ll start with Ellie.
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Last night I actually got to bed early, which was nice.  I turned out the lights right after the weather and was asleep in moments.  But before the news came on, I was in bed early enough (eating ice cream and painting my nails…I have such a hard life) and flipping through the channels.  I watched the last 20 min or so of SVU.  I’ve always kind of liked that show, although I’ve never watched it with any regularity.  Last night’s episode dealt with a teenage school shooter (named “Sam” – my heart) who had killed a couple of classmates.  He was headed to jail the rest of his life, of course.  But it turned out that his dad was one of these authoritative, gun-loving, “be a man” types.  He had ridiculed his son when he was  too soft-hearted to shoot a rabbit in the woods and called him a “girl.”  The boy was so devastated by this that he decided to show how manly he was by shooting up a classroom full of kids.  I think that story line has a real potential for danger, but that’s not why I’m writing about this.  What really got me later, was that two detectives were discussing gun rights and abortion rights (apparently, one was newly pg and was trying to figure out what to do).  Both were on their minds because of the case at hand and the personal situation with one of the detectives.  The one said something about the two being similar and the other laughs dryly and replies, “Yeah, except one results in death.” 

She wasn’t talking about abortion rights.

What a world.
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 Well, that group is not coming out to clean up my yard, after all.  They decided I live too far out.  I can understand that.  You would kind of hate to use up a chunk of your time in transportation.  Plus, now it sounds like Sunday may be rainy most of the day.  So, I guess I’m going to have to clean out my window well, scrub the front of the house, and cut down the greenery around my fence myself.  Oh well.  I do have a broken limb in my willow tree I had mentioned to them.  That’s something I can’t do myself, though.
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David did end up getting the job at PDI, even after he thought he blew the interview.  But Will mentioned he heard a bunch of employees recently quit over scheduling disagreements, plus they’ve recently expanded their plant.  So I think they are probably hiring anyone who doesn’t fail a drug test and can lift the minimum weight requirements.  David’s still a little uncertain about whether he even wants the job, but he’s going to try it.

He did buy himself some very nice work boots this week.  I wasn’t sure, with his sasquatch-sized feet, where we would find any.  But a new friend of mine mentioned that Des Moines has a Red Wing store.  I did not know that.  So we went Wed. and it’s in this little out-of-the-way strip mall on the very north side of Des Moines – very unassuming.  But it was a busy store, even on a weekday morning.  And then we found out that PDI employees get a discount with the store.  Plus, they will replace the laces and condition the leather for free every month.  And if they need to be re-soled, they can do that too.  As long as David’s feet are done growing then he ought to be able to wear these boots for many years.

David’s going to continue to try to work at Fareway, too.  We’ll see how that goes.  It would be nice to have the back up of a second job in case PDI doesn’t work out, as well as for the extra income.  But if it’s get too stressful with scheduling then David may just need to quit that one. 
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A couple of funnies: when Lizzie heard that I was going to meet with Pastor and Renee to get some advice on Ellie, she told me, “Now, make sure they understand that you are talking about the short one, not me!” Ha, ha!
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And then I’m not sure if this next one is funny or just sad or is giving me a glimpse of the rest of my life.  I don’t know.  I did my monthly shopping a week or so ago.  Maybe two.  I can’t remember now.  So, I went to Walmart and oh – this is a partial vindication of all the mean things I’ve said about that store, by the way.  I still hate Walmart.  But I hate it a little less now because they were super nice to me that day.  So, first I picked up my grocery order.  I noticed that the cleaner I had ordered was wet all down the bottle.  But it had been placed flat in the bag in the bins they bring your things out to you in.  So I picked it up to examine it, just to make sure that it had leaked from being laid down rather than there being a crack in the bottle.  Well, when I did that, it slipped out of my hands and smashed into the parking lot pavement – no more bottle.  The guy seemed to be more than happy to trot back inside and bring me a fresh bottle at no charge.

Then, after I got pick up order I went inside the store to purchase the things I couldn’t get through my on-line order.  Included in that were 3 jars of spaghetti sauce for which I had coupons (you can’t use coupons on-line).  As I placed jar on the conveyor belt it slipped out of my hands and shattered on the floor.  Ugh.  The clerk was very nice about it and called for clean-up.  Another worker in the area quickly volunteered to go get me another jar.  How embarrassing.  Meanwhile, we wait for the clean up lady and the clerk continues to ring up my order.  She must have had a bad back or something because she had asked me to load my own bag of cat litter.  I was also purchasing some small hand weights and she asked me to pick those off the belt and bag them  myself.  When I did, the end of one caught another jar of spaghetti sauce and sent it flying – onto the hard floor where it burst into a rainbow of sauce and glass.  Fortunately, this was just as the clean-up lady arrived to clean up the first mess.  I would have felt worse if she had already cleaned and left!  The same other worker trotted off to get me yet another jar of sauce.  This time I could feel little shards of glass in my sandals.  I tried to not make a big deal out of anything, but the employees were all very concerned about the glass and kept asking if I was ok.   My pride notwithstanding, I was, despite the sauce dribbling down my purse and leg.  Then, the clerk, who spoke with an accent straight out of a Hollywood B movie, told me that something was “off” in the alignment of the universe.  She said that there had been other breakages in her line that day and she had woken up with a stomachache – which apparently, must be an indication of the universe being off-kilter.  I don't know!  But I bet all those employees were glad when I finally exited their store and they no longer had to run all over the place finding replacement items for me and cleaning up my  messes!
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I was faced with an awkward conundrum a couple of weeks ago.  Apparently, the school has started some sort of “leadership” committee with the older, 4-6 grade kids in the last year.  It kind of sounds like a bit of popularity contest to me because the kids who want to be on the committee give a short speech to their classes about why they would like to do it and then the kids vote.  I’m not sure what all the committee actually does, other than they are supposed to be good examples to the younger grades. If the members gets more than 2 tallies for the entire year, they are off the committee.  They meet with the principal every so often and I guess put on skits and pep rally type deals for the kids.  And I think it’s more heavily weighted for grades – there are more 6th graders on the committee than there are 5th graders and more of them than there are 4th graders.  Well, I guess both Sam and Lizzie ran for this.  I had no clue that this thing existed or that they were campaigning.  Well, Sam was elected and Lizzie was not.  So, on the day the announcements were made, Sam was elated and Lizzie was barely holding it together for the ride home.  I wasn’t sure how to handle that one!  I didn’t want to take away from Sam’s happiness (who actually just kind of shrugged about the whole thing and said, “I only ran because I wanted to be in the skits”) but I didn’t want to make Lizzie feel any worse, either.   So I just played it kind of cool in the van and when we got home I hugged Lizzie and told her all about my own school  failures and assured her that her chances would be greater next year and I’d help her write a killer campaign speech, besides.  And then, privately, I gave Sam a high five and told him  I always knew he’d win (even though I didn’t actually know anything about this particular contest).  Motherhood is such a tightrope-like experience so much of the time…
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Oh, what a stench I have created…I am blogging in-between crossing things off my to-do list.  We have to go to the Varsity FB game tonight because they are recognizing the little Trojans, Sam’s team at half time (which ought to be fun experience – it’s been lightly raining all day – yuck).  So, because I’m a cheapskate, I always bring my own popcorn to these things.  I started a pan of it on the stove, sat down to blog the rest…and you can guess what happened next.  Trying to air my house out now.  I’ll be smelling charred popcorn the rest of the day…
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I am really enjoying my Bible study that I’m participating in.  We’re going through a dvd/workbook series entitled, “Single Parenting: Hard Work, Real Hope.”  These are the same people that put together the Divorce Care and Grief Share church-based programs.  It’s just a small group of us that meet – about 4 or 5.  It’s at a large church in Norwalk.  I have no idea what denomination this church is, but they seem to have a lot of ministries going on, including a Christian school.  However, our group is actually under the auspices of Single Parent Provision rather than the church.  This last week, there were only two of us, but it was a good opportunity to get to know one another.  I am appreciating the workbook and I’m anticipating developing some real relationships with these women.  One of them is even a widow, so it’s not just divorced women – and me - thrown in there because we don’t know where else to put her.
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The other night I watched the opening monologue of the Johnny Carson show on the retro channel.  This episode was probably about 30 years old.  He referenced Phil Donahue and I don’t think his show has been on since the late 80s, if even that recent.  I don’t even know if he is still alive, actually.  Anyway, I’m not a big fan of Johnny Carson but they air this at the same time Jimmy Fallon does his opening monologue.  And since he spends the bulk of that trashing the president, I don’t care to ever listen to it.  Really, I should just turn off the tv altogether.  But anyway, Johnny Carson mentioned that on that day’s episode of the Phil Donahue show two men had gotten “married” in a civil ceremony.  Johnny went on about this for some length, saying, “Did you ever think we’d see the day?” and “What is the world coming to?”  And mind you, Johnny Carson was no arbitrator of moral values of his day, either.  It really is mind-blowing to see how things have changed in only a single generation.  In this case, it’s really sad.  Quick generational changes are rarely for the good.
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But something that is going to be good, I know…I am seeing a counselor.  I’m kind of embarrassed, but that it is far outweighed by the good I know that is going to come from this.  It’s funny – I haven’t been broadcasting this news (well, up  until now, anyway, but since my readership is only up to about 3 people, I think I’m  pretty safe, still).  But the few times I have mentioned it, the reactions differ by the age of whoever I’m telling.  Older people get this funny look on this face and tend to mutter something about, “Well, I hope that works out for you…” while people my age and younger are much more enthusiastic in their support of my plan.  I think there is still such a perception of weakness associated with outside counseling.  I understand that.  I’ve known for awhile who I would like to see.  But it took me a year and half to look up her website.  And then it took me three months to make the call.  And when I did, my heart was pounding and my mouth was completely dry.  The voices in my head cry at me,

You’re weak!
You should be strong enough to do this alone…
All you need is God’s Word!
Only losers need therapy
Just get your mind off yourself and you’ll feel better…

 But I don’t feel better.  I’ve gotten sucked into this feeling of constant grayness and I’m not sure how to climb out.  I’ve read my Bible – I still read it.  I’ve prayed and it doesn’t go away.  I know that while God’s ultimate desire for us is not necessarily happiness, but rather holiness, I still can’t believe that this is how he intends for us to live life.  And so, literally trembling, I walked into this woman’s office last Tuesday.  I filled out paperwork and I waited.  And waited.  And she finally came in and I instantly felt at ease. When I had heard her voice on her voicemail earlier this summer, I almost didn’t call back because she sounded so stern and authoritative.  She was nothing like that in real life.   She asked me a few questions, including wanting to know about my salvation and believer’s baptism,  and then asked me to open the Bible on the side table to Matthew 11.  We dissected the last 3 verses together and by the end I was in tears, realizing – even though I’ve heard these verses all my life – that I am carrying burdens that Jesus promises and wants to carry for me.  She has me now creating a type of “notebook.”  This time I am journaling about God’s trustworthiness.  She also wants me to take apart the Psalms – all of them, eventually, I think, answering 3 questions about each.  And then she gave me this beautiful book called a “psalter” with each of the psalms and a long passage on each.  I’m reading that every morning.
I’m seeing her again in 3 weeks.  She wanted to do it next week, but between both our schedules, mid-Oct was the soonest we could make it work again.  I probably won’t need her forever, but it feels like she is showing me where the ladder is so I can climb out of this pit.

I just hope I don’t cry at every session because that is really embarrassing.  But I suppose if you don’t cry at your therapist’s office, then where will you do it?  And some tears are cleansing.

The rest just make your eyes puffy and your nose red.

So, that’s me – needier than I am comfortable being, but taking some healing steps.  I know this is right for me and someday – even now – I’m going to be thankful that I did this.



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