It is still feels like it was yesterday

when in fact it was six years ago. I remember going to my parents home that morning to sit with my mom. As soon as I walk into the house I knew something had changed. It was as if the energy had disappeared. I went about the day talking to my dad and brothers. I sat with her and talked to her, I rubbed lotion on her feet, I watched a movie with her and I even updated my friends on what was going on.  My mom's best friend from childhood and her daughter and daughter in law came to visit. I remember standing next to my mom commenting that I wasn't even thirty, this shouldn't be happening. I also remember making the comment to her that my Mom was no longer there, she had already moved on and it was just her body waiting to catch up. This made her mad and I remember her telling me that I shouldn't say that because my mom could hear me. I remember her standing next to my mom rubbing her hair trying to get her to open her eyes. Eyes that had been shut for over 24 hours at that point.  I also remember the baby inside me rolling around and kicking assuring me that I had to stay strong. I remember forcing myself to eat even though that was the last thing I wanted to do. I remember my brother coming with his family and me telling them she hadn't open her eyes and would never again. I remember the conversation I had with my other brother about how we knew it was her time and he was wondering why she was waiting. Just like that, I knew. I told him she was waiting for me to go home. My mom would not want me there when her body finally got the hint that it was time to stop fighting. My mom who was more than a mother, but my best friend still was looking out for me and protecting me as she had for so many years. My mom would not want me there when it happened and she would not have wanted me to drive the 20 minute drive home by myself after she passed. So after a bit, I kissed my mom, told her I loved her and whispered in her ear that it was ok to go. I assured her I would be ok and I asked her to look over my baby. I hugged my dad and brothers and drove home. Shortly after arriving home, I got into bed and started to fall asleep when she came to me. I remember telling her that I couldn't have the baby until I knew she was ok. She told me she loved me and I woke up to a phone call. Shortly after midnight on the 26th, my brother went to check on her and discovered she had passed. Being the type of mom she was she wanted to make sure no one was there to have to witness that. She waited until they had stepped out of the house for some air before she took her final breath. I told him I already knew because she had come to me. I remember being numb after that phone call and just sitting on the couch in the dark. I knew I had to let my babies know that their Grandma Ida was gone. That was the hardest thing I had ever had to do. I struggled with guilt for a long time because I wasn't there when it happened. Hell, every so often it still creeps up on me. However, I know my mom wouldn't have wanted us to be the last memory of her. She protected us until she drew her last breath.


FAQ about my Schooling

I decided it would be easier to post the answers to some of the questions I get. 

What are you going to school for? I am going to get my degree in Paraeducation, in layman's terms, a degree to be a Teacher's Aide. 

But, why not a teacher? Honestly because I don't want to. I see what my husband and numerous teacher friends go through and am not interested in that stress. By being a Para, I get to work with kids (which I love to do) but don't have all the stress that teachers deal with. 

Wouldn't it be a better job to be a teacher instead of just an Aide? Seriously? That is like asking someone who is a nurse why they didn't just become a doctor. A Para's job is very important. Lauren has had many and I am so thankful for them. They were there when the teacher couldn't. They wiped her tears and listened to her fears. They encouraged her and made her feel safe. 

So, you can quit school and just take a test to be a Para? Why don't you do that? It is possible to do that, but I also don't see that me getting higher education is hurting anyone. Yes it is stressful at times, but so is parenting. I was lucky enough to get a grant so I am not "wasting" my money as many may see it. I don't see that me taking classes such as classroom management a waste of time. If I needed a job right away, I would take the test but continue to go to school. 

Are you going to work right away? Honestly, I am not sure, it depends on a few things. I would like to be able to go on field trips and do class parties for Lauren. It isn't fair to her that she gets screwed out of Mommy doing those things just because she is last. I also still care for my awesome niece. 

How much money will you make being "just" a Para? No freaking clue. I am guessing not a ton. If I wanted a job that pays a lot, it sure as Hell wouldn't be in the education field. 

I don't mind people asking me questions about school. What I do mind is that I feel like I have to constantly defend why I am going to school. I am a 35 year old women who never got to go to college, I shouldn't feel guilty for choosing to go now. What I need is support not criticism.  The minute I ask you to pay my bills or care for my family, you are more than welcome to criticize my decision to go to school. 


Raising a Preteen girl is so emotional.

   Now that I have a 12 1/2 year old girl, I have a greater respect for what I put my mother through. My daughter is so much like me I cry because I can still feel those feelings I had back then. I suffered from extreme anxiety and eventually depression. I hated myself and thought no one liked me. I would go to school on Monday and hear about how all the people I thought were friends had hung out together without calling me, again. This cemented in my mind that I must really be the ugly loser I had thought I was. I started to stay in my room more and more. I lived vicariously through the world of books and movies. I wished I could be one of the popular, pretty girls in my school.  I never understood how they were so self confident in what is such an awkward stage in life. Eventually I learned that I had two types of friends, school friends and home friends. I had a good amount of friends that were at school, those were the girls I rarely had any contact without outside of school. My good friends were a small group, but I knew they were always there for me. Even though I knew they would have helped me or talked to me, I never did. I do know that old habits die hard. 

    I don't want my daughter to be like I was, I want her to love herself, no I just really want her to like herself. I want her to be able to brush off the fact that she is not getting invited to outings. I want her to be able to say screw it and set her own path. I am encouraging her as much as I can to call friends, but she never does. I keep telling her to fake until she makes it. It is my hope that if she keeps acting like she is beautiful and confident one day she will really see that she is. As her mother she will never believe when I tell her she is beautiful. 

      Dealing with these last turbulent months, I have desperately needed my mom. I need to know how she handled me when I cried because my friends had left me out again. I need to know what to say to my beautiful daughter who thinks she is the ugliest one of her friends. I need to know how to handle the fact that my daughter's friends are pushing her away for more outgoing girls. I need to tell her that I am so sorry for everything I put her through and thank her for her never-ending love and support. 


Wow, has it really been six months?

It is amazing how life catches you in its rip current and continues to pull you away from the shore. At least that is how it feels some days. So I have been busy these last six months, that is busier than any other mom. I am still taking care of my awesome niece and volunteering with my kids' school as often as I can. All four of my kids are in school full time and I am not ashamed to admit that I had a hard time that first day back. Thankfully my friends were nice enough to keep me busy. I swear just the other day I was taking my oldest to her first day of Kindergarten with both of us in tears and now she is in seventh grade. I remember in high school wishing time would speed up and now I would love for it to slow down just a little bit

 I lost my last Aunt this past month. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in March and we were told it would be weeks. However in true fashion to her, she went when she was damn well and ready and not a minute more. My Aunt Sis was a great, although stern at times woman. I had a few Aunts but she was the one I connected with the most. I got my gift of craftiness from her and the gift of baking. I also had her to thank for my boobs too. She was a great source of comfort after my mom and then father passed. I made sure to tell her every time I saw her that I loved her. If I learned anything from losing my parents it is to make sure to tell your loved ones you love them and do it often. The last time I saw her was a week before she passed. She had slept most of the time at that point, but woke up for a little but while I was there. She asked about the kids and we chatted a little bit. When I was leaving she told me she loved me and to drive safely.

I started school last month and sometimes think I am crazy. While I am enjoying it, I am always second guessing myself on things. I guess years and years of self doubt will do that to you. I am pursuing my certificate in Paraprofessional education. So in the end I will be a teacher's aid. i have always wanted to be a teacher but at my age I just think I am too old to go to school for that. I know I am not old, but for me I am. I just want to be able to work in the schools with kids without the added strew of lesson plans, parent teacher conferences, and the politics. My third is already freaking out about me going to work. I assured him it will be a few years before I get a job because I want to be able to go on field trips and help at class parties for my youngest like I did with the rest of my kids. I never thought of myself as old until I sat in a class with a bunch of nineteen year old giggling girls that my teacher has to constantly shush. The spent a good part of one of the classes talking all about the One Direction concert they went to. Really? My twelve year old doesn't even like them.


I can't eat Corned Beef & Cabbage anymore.

I haven't been able to eat this St. Patrick's Day staple in about five years. Ever since my mom died almost five years ago now, the thought of eating it makes me sick to my stomach. We ate it every year  on St. Patrick's Day which also happened to be my Mom's birthday. She would make corned beef, cabbage, and boiled red potatoes. She always thought it was funny that she was born on a traditionally Irish holiday and she was 100% Dutch. We would sit down as a big family to celebrate Mom's birthday and eat the great meal she put together. I loved it but as a kid, not so much the cabbage part. I loved making a sandwich on the fresh rye bread she would buy special for the meal. The joking around we did a the dinner table and the happy look my mom had on her face as she looked at her family.

I have tried a few times to eat it since she passed away, but just can't. I get a couple of bites in before I feel as if I am going to throw up. St. Patrick's Day for me was never about the Irish Saint or even the meal, but about my Mom. It was about celebrating her life and now she is gone I don't care to celebrate the day. I know people think I am a bit strange when I tell them I can no longer bring myself to eat corned beef, but the truth is that I can't bring myself to explain how much that meal is wrapped up in a tradition that is all about my Mom.


This time last year.

I've been thinking that a lot lately. This time last year my father was in the hospital again and we found out his cancer would take him from us soon. I was spending as much time with him as I could knowing that the clock was ticking against us. I was trying to get to know the man behind the "Dad". I was really listening to his stories this time as opposed to zoning out and thinking to myself that I had already heard this one before. I was sitting with him while in his confused state when he didn't know who I was or where he was. I answered him when he mistakenly called me Ida thinking I was my mom because I couldn't deny him the thought that he was with her again even if it was just for a short moment of time.

I dreamt of my dad last night and in my dream I did something for him I thought was nice, but all he did was complain because I didn't do it right. I got really mad at him for being an ass and not seeing that I was trying to do something for him but all I got was criticism. However that was my dad, always pushing me to do better even if it hurt more than helped. I was kind of disappointed when I woke up that it wasn't a nice dream with us enjoying each other, then I realized I wouldn't have believed it was really him in the dream if he wasn't annoying me somehow. haha

I pray that this year is better. I need a year off from seeing family members dying. I know I can handle pretty much what is tossed at me, but I just need a break.

I miss my dad.


Neighbors, are they in the past?

Growing up I knew almost everyone on our block. The people to the right was a couple with a young daughter I used to tutor. The first family to my left was a couple with two boys who I grew up with and thought for sure I would marry, when they moved another couple moved in with a girl my age and we've been friends since though we have had our ups and downs. Then there were the other families the one who was best friends with my mom, the one who cut my hair, the people whose kids weren't the best behaved, the older couple who my mom cared for in their final years. There was the family of all boys whose cousin moved in and became one of my best friends. The neighbors would shovel each others sidewalks and driveways, mow lawns, or just sit on the porches and chat. The older couples whose children were grown, would watch out for the children on the block while they walked to and waited for the bus. The one house with the boys I remember spending as much time there before they moved as I did my own home. The mom became a second mom to me and to this day I still look to her as that. She was so supportive during the hard times with my own parents. I knew if I called she would help anyway she could. Then there were the families who moved away, but the friendships still stuck.

After I took my kids sledding today, I decided to shovel our sidewalk. We share it with an elderly couple, so I made sure to clear their path as well. I then went to clear out the slush around my van to discover the neighbor's was just a messy. So I continued on until I  made sure my close neighbors had clear walkways.  I didn't do this for gratitude, just because it is something I would like to be done for me. As I did that I realize that I don't really know my neighbors. There is the elderly couple who I always say hi to, the single mom on the other side who we say hi or discuss the weather, and now a young couple with a little girl who we barely get a wave out of. Then there is a single lady across the way who I have chatted with more than once and who is very nice to my kids. In a way I was sadden that I really don't know these people, then I  realize that this is just the way it is in many neighborhoods. We erect privacy fences so there no longer is talking to your neighbor through the fence. We tell our children not to talk to strangers and almost make them fear meeting new people. We see others problems as their own and don't think of trying to help.

Where our condo is situated, we are super secluded so I don't know how the rest of our neighborhood works. I do know that a lot of the time my neighbors annoy me and I don't want to take the time to get to know them. It may be the way they park, or the fact that they love cooking sauerkraut and the smell comes into our place, or the fact that I can hear their tv through my bedroom walls. I often want to just live in our bubble being secluded. However there are those times I wish I could call a neighbor to borrow butter or to ask if they can keep an eye out for a package that may be delivered. I don't though, instead I drag everyone to the store for that ingredient or pray the arriving package is still there when I get home. So this year I am going to try and be a better neighbor. Instead of avoiding eye contact or a quick hello, I am going to take time to smile, say hi and maybe ask how their day was. If I see snow needs to be shoveled instead of viewing as not my problem, I am going to shovel it. I'll bring in their garbage cans on garbage day when I bring up my own. Even if no one ever does these things for us, I don't care. Maybe if we all start being better neighbors to each other the world will start to change. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but not if everyone is isolated in their own homes afraid of helping their fellow man.


When I grow up I want to be...

I remember as a child always wanting to do something with kids. I wanted to be a teacher, pediatric nurse, daycare owner, at one time I even envisioned having a place that helps teen moms. None of those happened, but I did become a mom which even though is a ton of work I love my job. I may go back to school to get a certificate for teacher assistant, but it is too late to become the teacher or nurse that I wanted to be. I also don't have the money to have my own daycare or create a loving supportive environment for teen moms.

 My oldest has been saying for a few years that she wants to be a teacher. She generally follows up with saying she will also be a hair stylist since she knows teachers don't make that much and she will need two jobs. Pretty sad that my 11 year old understands how little teachers are appreciated. Number two can't decide, but I have a feeling he has military or some sort of building/engineering in his future. Number 3 used to be a music conductor but is now thinking of being a scientist. My baby just wants to be a mom, she claims she will have 4 or 6 kids and she will live with me with her husband and kids. She decided that she would miss me too much to move away. Actually all my kids claim they will live with me forever.

So all of their dreams of the future are great and can change at any time. However why is it that when my little one claims proudly that all she wants to be is a mom I cringe? I immediately want to dismiss it and try to talk her into being a doctor, lawyer, president, teacher, gardener,  even a librarian. I don't though. I should be honored that she wants to be like me when she grows up, yet I want more for her. Which then makes me think about how I view my "job".

I love my kids and while I am not the greatest mom or wife, I try my hardest and I will fight for whatever they need. I don't get paid in money and some days I feel like I should just throw in the towel.  I worry that somehow I am fucking them up for life and not sure how to fix it. When I hear my friends talk about their jobs outside of caring for their kids, I worry that I am lacking as a woman. I don't have funny stories about my co workers to share. I spend my days talking to my littles and some days don't even know how to carry on a normal conversation with my husband. What I do during the day just does not seem important enough to share. Raising kids is one of the most important jobs anyone can have, yet why do I feel like I am setting a bad example to my children? I have already caught my kids making comments to me about how I don't have a job or even the question "what have you done all day?"when they were asked to do a chore. I am always sort of taken back when they make comments like that and attempt to answer without allowing my hurt feelings to get in the way. Thankfully my husband is my biggest supporter and will get on them for their ideas about what I do.

Even though I know what I am doing is super important, I feel inadequate to the rest of the world. When I am asked what my job is and I reply mom, I actually feel embarrassed as if I just admitted to staying in bed all day watching Gilmore girls. I am going to try my hardest not to get on myself about not being anyone besides just a "mom." In actuality, I am more than that, I am a caregiver, chauffeur, shoulder to cry on, Auntie, diaper changer, puke catcher, wife, laundress, cook, baker, and sometimes maid.

So when number 4 proudly announces that she wants to be me when she grows up, I will be proud and take it as a compliment that I must be doing something right.


Today is Unity Day 2013.

You might be wondering what Unity Day is. It is a day to prevent bullying. You can read about it here. 

Bullying is something that hits close to home for me. As a teenager I was bullied and in turn became very depressed and had a lot of anxiety. I missed more days than I can count of school because I was making myself physically ill. I dropped 25 pounds in a matter of weeks, I was a wreck. I was embarrassed about being bullied so I never told anyone what was happening. I may have mentioned it to a friend in passing, but never elaborated. Even after my mom got me to a counselor because she knew there was something bothering me, I didn't tell. I feared that if I told someone what was going on, it would make things worse. It was only two people who belittled me daily, but what if I told and their friends started in on me too? Bullying leaves scars that never fully go away. It destroys your self esteem and makes you doubt yourself. I still remember the names and faces of those kids. Hell, I even remember the teacher, class, and who I sat by. 

My son has been a victim of bullying himself. He had a friend who would be very mean to him and mutter mean things under his breath at him. He would later apologize, but it would start all over. I finally explained to him that this kid was not a friend. That a true friend does not treat you bad and make you feel bad about yourself. Thankfully he was able to distance himself from that kid and seems to have helped. I worry about him though because he is a perfect target for bullies. 

Last night my oldest who has been struggling with middle school informed us that she too is being bullied. I knew something was up because she was becoming a bit more withdrawn. I am so happy she had the courage to tell us instead of hiding like I did. However, she doesn't want the teachers to know for fear that they will call the kids out and it will get worse. What do you do in a situation like that? I want to fix it for her, but also want to honor her wishes. So I contacted the school's counselor to see if they could talk to her and give her some tips on dealing with it. I hope by the end of today she will have some sort of peace of mind. 

Watching my own kids go through bullying, sucks me right back to that classroom with those kids tormenting me. It is taking everything on me not to unleash my mama bear and got rip those kids apart. This might be one of the toughest things I have had to deal with as a parent yet. 


I am not one of "those" moms.

The one who get up at the ass crack of dawn to make their little angels a huge breakfast before they head of to school. The one who at drop off look as if they had just hit the beauty salon because their hair and make up is near perfect. The mom who packs their kids nothing but healthy food in their lunch bags. The mom who spends her days working out and cleaning her already immaculate house. The one who picks her kid up from school in her perfectly detailed car. The one who has every hour scheduled to do something,  the one whose kid does their chores without a complaint . The one who always seems to be put together and never complains.  The one who never yells at her child but just barely has to raise her voice to be heard.

The truth is that I am just me. I view it as an accomplishment if I get up five minutes before my kids in the morning. They get whatever frozen breakfast item or whatever cereal we have, yes even the sugar filled kind.  I am lucky if I run a hair brush through my hair before I drop them off at school. As for makeup, what is that? I might wear it to a wedding. My kids get a sandwich, chips, a cookie and some sort of fruit (sometimes) in their lunch. Yes, I give my kids chips for every lunch. *gasp* Unless of course the child decides to bring a bowl of cereal for lunch. I do try to send them a joke or fun fact in their lunch to read, however I am just happy if less than half of what I send comes home. My day is spent caring for a 4 year old and 2 year old tornadoes. Seriously, they way those two destroy my home is freaking amazing! After I drop the 4 year old off at school, it is nap time for the 2 year old. I guess I should use that time wisely. Sometimes I eat, usually for the first time that day and catch up on my shows I had to DVR from the night before because my kids were having World War III in my living room. I pick up some of the toys, but usually just leave them because I know as soon as my mini tornadoes are together again, shit will just get destroyed anyway. Working out to me is walking the kids the five blocks to their school. Hey, at least I burn some calories. My van looks as if we live in it and if the kids can get in and out without some piece of garbage falling out, I am stoked. Five kids, plus many hours shuttling them back and forth to places does not a clean van make. My windows are filthy and there is now rust around the door. The hours in my house are a free for all because mom is usually trying not to lose her shit. After school, we have a snack and do homework. Homework with #2 regularly involves crying and frustration, he is not fond of it either. Seriously, I had to YouTube how to figure out a freaking 4th grade math problem the other day! My kids bitch if I ask them to put their clothes in the hamper, heaven forbid chores get done without some sort of meltdown. I complain, a lot and I yell.

However, I am one of those moms whose loves her kids even if I don't always like them. I am the one who worries that her nine year old son will never know what it is like to have a true friend. I am the one who worries that her daughter will suffer from the same self esteem issues I still struggle with. I am the one who instead of worrying what my house looks like instead chooses to sit on the couch snuggling my kids and watching Lilo & Stitch for the umpteenth time because I know how fast it goes. I am the mom who looks forward to school starting. I am the mom who worries that I am a bad example for my kids because I never went to college and instead am "just" a mom. I am the mom who apologizes to her kids when I do lose my shit because after all I am human, I am the mom whose children know when I have a bad migraine to play quietly and actually get a long. I am the mom who likes to sing out loud and dance around the house with my kids because they think it is hilarious.  I am the one who instead of sitting out of the pool at a water park am actually in my bathing suit in front of strangers(yikes) hanging out with my kid.

Some of my friends are "those" moms or at least partially one. You know what, I envy them and secretly hate them all at the same time. (Kidding, you know you rock.)  I wish I had my shit together, but for me it just isn't going to happen. Maybe by the time I become a Grandma I will figure out it all.