Posted in Addiction, family, kids, Learning, Life, love, motherhood, parenting, People, relationships

The Best Thing I Ever Did

everything

I have been a mother now for almost half of my life. I have forgotten so many things- my daughter will say “Do you remember that time…” Or “Remember when we…” and I feel terrible about it, but nine times out of ten, I have no idea what she is talking about. Sometimes I secretly think she is just making stuff up to torture me. But for all the things I have forgotten, I will never, ever forget the day that I became a mother. I remember being in labor all night, by myself, timing my contractions, and sleeping between them, and writing them down on a little paper bag that had held a greeting card (I still have that bag, taped inside my daughters baby book). I remember the ride to the hospital, and the giant men’s flannel shirt that I had taken to wearing because it was pretty much all that would fit me at that point.

But more than anything, I remember the moment that my daughter arrived in this world. I remember the doctor holding her up, and the way that time stood still as my eyes beheld her for the first time, the way that something inside of me shifted, and the way my heart changed, in an instant, to something so much bigger than I had ever known it was possible to be. For the first time in my life, I loved someone else more than I loved myself. It pains me to admit how selfish I was until that moment, which is not to say that I immediately was redeemed as a human being, but from then on, I learned a lot about guilt, lets put it that way. But that moment, the moment I met her, was so pure. I remember thinking “Please don’t ever let me forget this.” And I never have.

It’s impossible for me to remember that day without thinking about all the ways it went wrong after that. I wanted so badly to do it right, to be the best mom, but I didn’t stand a chance. My addiction and my immaturity saw to that. I know there were happy times, but it’s so much easier for me to remember everything I didn’t do, and all the things I did wrong. It honestly breaks my heart. Knowing the kind of life my daughter deserved to have, and understanding what I took from her. Knowing that is one thing I can never, ever fix. You can’t give someone back the time you stole. And I know that for her, that’s just what she had, so she doesn’t look at it the way I do- she doesn’t know any different. But for me…how can I not see all that could have been, how can I ever possibly be at peace with these things? How can I ever truly forgive myself?

I still don’t have an answer for those questions. But I can tell you this: From the moment she came into my life, I never stopped wanting and trying to be better. I failed, over and over and over again, but goddammit, I wanted it so bad. And it wasn’t for me, which might have been my first mistake- no, at a certain point, I really began to despise myself for my weakness- it was always, forever, and only for her. And because I kept trying, I managed, somehow, to keep us together (although I’ve often wondered if she would have been better off with someone else), and I managed, somehow, to keep our heads above water, just barely. Sometimes things were really, really bad. I have memories that I would love to banish from my head, and yet I cling to them like a penance. How dare I try to forget?

But sometimes things were good and sweet- her tiny feet in footy pajamas. The way we would sleep curled together, two peas in a pod. Riding in the car together on a beautiful summer day, all the windows rolled down, singing along to “Cowboy Take Me Away”. The fierce love she inspired in me, the deep connection I had never felt before for another human being. She was, and is, my world. I just didn’t know how to do it right. I just couldn’t get there in time. She was all grown up by the time I finally figured out how to do this job. Talk about heartache…you have no idea.

Now she is almost 21, and she has a little sister who reaps all of the rewards of my experience. I do homework and read stories, and worry about shit like too much screen time, and processed food, and nitrates in hot dogs. I pack her lunches, and make sure her hair is brushed, and I would never send her to school with a backpack that reeks of cigarette smoke. I try hard not to say things I will regret later, and I try even harder to say things that let her know she is loved. But most of all, my youngest daughter has had the luxury of a safe life. Things are never up in the air, and we always have a home of our own, and everything is consistent and routine. She will never know what it is like to have the ground beneath her feet shifting constantly. I am so glad that this is true. But I wish I could have given this to both of my children, not just one of them.

The wonder of it all is that, despite everything, my daughter- the 20 year old- loves me more than you can even imagine. You know what she tells me? That I am the only one who was ALWAYS there for her, that she looks back at her life, and the only one that she sees in every memory is ME. She remembers the closeness. She remembers the good things. She is the one who reminds me that is wasn’t all bad, that there were plenty of happy times- Like sliding down the snowy Reno streets in our fake Ugg boots, and laughing so hard our sides ached. And sitting in our car, sharing terrible lemon chicken and chow mein on payday, even though we couldn’t afford it. To her, I am just her mom, and she just loves me.

So today, even though she will probably never even see this, I dedicate this post to my daughter, Aisley. The best thing I ever did, and the person who made me a mother. I love you so much, and I’m grateful every single day that God saw fit to give me you.

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Posted in Addiction, alcoholism, family, kids, Life, love, motherhood, parenting, recovery

The Best Things…

I Love You quotes for Daughter Mother daughter quotes at www.bmabh.com

It is Tuesday morning, and my house looks like a cyclone hit it. To my left, the couch is covered in jackets, napkins, pillows, a purse, and a discarded bra. Under my chair is an empty sparkling water can that I keep forgetting to pick up, and next to that is my seven year old’s backpack.

There are no dishes in the sink because we haven’t eaten a meal at home in DAYS. There is, however, a garbage can full of empty take out containers, and one half eaten box of carne asada fries on the microwave stand. The bathroom floor is covered in clothes abandoned pre-shower, and left there until someone (me) picks them up. The counters are littered with expensive make-up and hair products. The front porch? Oh lord, I was out there this morning, and there are puddles of spilled coffee all over the place, a dead giveaway that my older daughter is home. She loves coffee, but doesn’t metabolize caffeine very well in her tiny little body.

And in each of the beds in both of the bedrooms, my daughters lay sleeping. My mom always says she sleeps so much better when her kids are home, and I get it, I really do. The past three nights since my oldest has been home, I’ve slept with my bedroom door open, and slept more soundly than I have in weeks. Just knowing she is right there, in the next room, and my littlest one is sleeping beside me…it’s like heaven.

You have to understand, my daughters and I…we are the closest of the close. Aisley, my oldest, we have been through hell together- most of it my doing, of course, but she…I’ve always said, she’s the reason I am still on this earth. I don’t know what would’ve happened to me if she hadn’t come along. We are more than just mother and daughter, we are each other’s core family, the nucleus, the main event. We grew up together. Which means things can get weird, and roles can be confusing- sometimes I try to be the mom, and she doesn’t want it. Sometimes I’m more like a sister, and she needs a mom. We have struggled with boundaries, and with communication, and with our expectations of each other. We’ve healed a lot since I have gotten and stayed clean. I think she finally trusts that I am serious now, that I’m not going to fuck this up. She doesn’t look at me with that suspicion on her face anymore, and I never want her to worry about that again. I don’t really ever entertain the idea of getting high anymore, but the odd time that it idly crosses my mind, I imagine what it would do to my children, and I know it’s not worth it. Not even close, not ever.

It was always Aisley and I, the two of us, and no one else. By the time Camryn was a toddler, Aisley was off living her life, in high school, running around with her friends. So I basically have two only children. Now it is Camryn and I, and Aisley has moved away. But sometimes, for brief times like this, I get to have them both, together, sleeping under the same roof, and I can breathe again. The worry I didn’t realize I was holding, I can set it down for a few days.

I am so blessed. That my life turned out the way that it has, that my children still love me, that I get to be their mother, and that I am better at it than I ever dreamed I could be. Not perfect, I’ll never be perfect. I might not ever even be great. But I’m so much better than I ever thought I was capable of. And honestly, for now, that’s all I need.

Posted in anxiety, Blogging, family, kids, Life, motherhood, parenting, People, random

Conflicted

conflicted
Which would leave me with nothing, unfortunately.

 

 

This seems to be a theme in my life right now, this being conflicted. That weird line between what you want and what you should do. The person you could be, with a tiny bit more effort, and the lazy ass you are- not YOU, I’m sorry, don’t leave. I meant ME, the lazy ass I am.

It’s occurring in all areas of my life right now, and I don’t know what to think about it, what cosmic lesson I am supposed to be learning. I know it will come to me, but right now, it is very early, and I’m only on my first cup of coffee, so even if there was some clarity available I’m not sure I would be able to grasp it just yet.

Here’s a good example: I have court this morning to determine the amount of child support I will be receiving. The judge has recommended a sum of about 600 dollars, which I have thought all along was more than fair- I don’t know how many of you guys raise children, but it’s not cheap. And it’s not just about me buying her clothing, or toys, or outings. Take that stuff out of the picture, and it’s still so. much. stuff. The weird foods I would never buy, the lunches I pack daily, the rent for a bigger house, the laundry, the day to day expense of raising a kid is exorbitant. Jesus, the gas money alone I spend on driving her all the way across town every day to a school that has a better rating! I mean, 600 bucks is fair. To me.

This morning, I woke up and thought for the first time what that would be like for Camryn’s dad. Okay, he is terrible with his money, and he has made some really bad choices in his life in general, but more specifically, he has some tax stuff going on and back child support for his older son. On the other hand, he makes really good money, and I have no idea why he can’t pull it together. Seriously, like what the fuck is he doing? So where is my responsibility in this? Do I agree with a reduced amount because he can’t figure out, at the age of 50, how to run his life? Or do I hold out for what his kid and I deserve, because he is responsible for half of her life and that’s just how it goes? I’m not poor, I’m not struggling, but I have given up ten years of my life with this guy, helped him out, given him chance after chance to pull it together. I just don’t know. I’m very torn. And my hope is that I won’t have to decide, the judge will do it for me.

I wish there was a judge around to help me with these other things that are bothering me. Like, when i’m sitting here right before I’m off work, and I want to go to the gym, but I also want to binge watch The Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. It would be so great if a judge would bang her gavel and say, “I order you to 90 minutes at the Wellness Center, Ms. Duncan!” And I would have to slink off in shame to find clean gym clothes. Or when I am typing up a really heartfelt but probably damaging text message at five in the morning, before I’ve had a proper chance to wake up and think things through, the gavel bangs and a booming voice fills the room-“I order you to set that phone down and do not pick it up again until noon!” Okay, okay. My finger hovers over the send button a moment longer, then I think of the consequences-how terrible I’d look in an orange jumpsuit, or how people might laugh at me as I picked up trash along the freeway, and I walk away. Wouldn’t that be kind of great?

As it stands, all I have to guide me is my conscience and my brain, and we all know none of that shit functions properly. Too much, or not enough…that’s my lot in life. Welp, I probably ought to go start getting cleaned up for court. Maybe I’ll ask the judge if she’ll consider some side work. 🙂

 

Posted in Blogging, fun, funny, housekeeping, humor, Life, motherhood, People, random

Lazy

lazy

I have a confession to make, and trust me, it pains me to admit it, but…I’m REALLY lazy. This is not something people would generally guess about me, considering that I come off like a really energetic person- I mean, I talk a lot, I talk fast, and I seem really outgoing, joking and making wise ass remarks all the time. But that’s the thing- you can easily confuse my energetic talking and moving for busy-ness, although unfortunately it doesn’t work that way. I can move around a whole lot and still accomplish impressively little.

I try…oh, Lord, do I try. I wake up every day with my latest plan, all of the things I intend to do with the next 24 hours. Somewhere along the way, though, I always find myself laying down on the couch, remote in hand, griping that I’ve seen every show on TV. Just let that sink in for a moment- think about how many shows there are on TV. Now think about the fact that I’ve seen them all. Does that tell you anything? And of course, I haven’t seen EVERY show. But all the ones I like to watch- all the ghost shows, and Forensic Files, Snapped and the like. I swear to you, I’ve seen almost every episode that is in rotation. That translates to a lot of TV watching. Not to mention the fact that I read at least one book a week, work on the novel I am writing, keep up with my blog, and work full time.

Okay, wait…this is making me sound like I am not lazy. But I really am, I promise you. My point is, I make time (plenty of it) for things I want to do. But I hate doing the things I NEED to do. Like dishes. Right now, both sides of the sink are completely full of dirty dishes. When I got my coffee ready last night, I had to wedge the pot under the faucet right where the sink is divided because that was the only space available- and it took some maneuvering. I managed to take two naps yesterday, and bitch about my TV options, but I couldn’t find the strength to deal with the dishes? That is laziness.

And laundry? Don’t even get me started. A few months back, I actually accomplished something so amazing I never thought it could be achieved- I finished ALL my laundry. All of it. It was even folded and put away. I promised myself I would never again get behind on this task, and that, for the rest of my life, laundry would be handled. Fast forward to now…Not one person who must legally wear pants in public will be able to leave this house today unless I get my shit together. Which probably means we are staying home.

It’s just…housework is not something I am good at. I try, I really do. Every week, I do make some effort to right things around here. I even hired a housekeeper for a little bit, but…well, all I can say about that is, be careful about housekeepers from Craigslist. If they give you references, you should probably check them. After she flooded my laundry room and then tried to blame it on me, THEN told me she wasn’t willing to clean it up properly because she might hurt her back, I knew it was time to move on. Also, she kept making remarks about my house being dirty, which, duh, was why I hired her in the first place. It wasn’t a good experience, all in all.

Also, I am kind of a borderline hoarder. I keep everything. I am especially afraid of throwing out cords and wires that I don’t know why I have them or where they came from. They look so important, and I just know that if I throw them out, I am going to regret it at some point. When you are the one in charge of everything in your house, there’s no one around to ask “Hey,what does this go to?” and so…into the closet, into the pile they go. That is one of the biggest issues I stumble over when trying to organize my life- the “what if I need this later?” thing, or the “Oh, I will totally use this” thing. Spoiler: I probably won’t, to both.

And the icing on top of this inedible cake is that I have three animals who all shed as if their very lives depend on it. There is so much hair in this house, it’s kind of frightening. I don’t know what to do about that, aside from shaving both my dog and my two cats, which would be hilarious, but seems a bit overkill. I mean, all in all, my life is just gross. And it has layers. Remove the hair layer, and there is the junk layer. Remove the junk layer, and there is the dirty house layer.

It’s enough to make me want to go lay down on the couch and take a nap. But I guess I should probably go do the dishes.

Posted in Blogging, faith, family, inner peace, kids, Learning, Life, love, motherhood, Musings, parenting, People, relationships

My Girls

daughters

One thing in my life that it is never hard for me to be grateful for- even on the very worst days- are my daughters. Man, I hit the jackpot when it comes to kids! My girls couldn’t be more different…not only are they 13 years apart in age, they are just completely different personalities, and yet I relate to them both so much, in separate ways.

Yesterday, my eldest, Aisley, who is beautiful and complicated, came down off the mountain she now lives on for a short visit. She misses me so much now that we aren’t seeing each other every single day, and it’s been hard on her. So when she does get to come into town, she’s so excited to see me- she wants me to write down recipes for her, and she has so many things to show me and share with me. This daughter has always been my uber-affectionate little bear, and she still wants a million hugs and all my attention when she sees me. Yesterday, she planted a little vegetable garden out in front of my house for me. She put in little stakes with labels so that I would know what was what, and she made me promise to remember to water it. She has my dirty sense of humor, and we always make each other laugh, and I am so glad she belongs to me- that I get to be her mom. I’m so happy to call her mine.

And Cammy, my little one…oh, man. She is so smart and independent, with her giant vocabulary and the biggest heart. One of the great joys of my life is waking her up every morning. I always take a minute to watch her sleeping;  mouth open wide, hair in a big old knot on top of her head. She still lets me haul her into my lap for a quick cuddle most days, even though she hangs over both sides of me by quite a bit, and I can barely pick her up. I smiled this morning as I watched her lurch, half asleep, to her waiting bath, like a little drunk person. I know these particular days aren’t going to be around for too much longer…I am acutely aware of the passage of time, having been through this once already.

That’s all, really. I just wanted to take a minute to speak my gratitude for my children out loud to the Universe. I don’t know how I got so lucky- I definitely got so much more from this life than I probably deserved. But I am so in love with those girls, and feel so blessed to be their mom, still the most important woman in their lives. Every day I pray to be worthy of the task, to be the person they need me to be. Some days I fall short of the mark, but miraculously, they love me anyway. I don’t understand how that works, or why it’s true, but I’m sure glad it is.

Have a beautiful day. 🙂

Posted in anxiety, Blogging, Depression, family, funny, Goals, kids, Life, Mental Health, motherhood, parenting

Three Things- Welcome, March!

three daffodils

I woke up this morning with the three things I wanted to write about already in my head- unfortunately, as often happens, they have completely disappeared. For all I know, they were stupid things anyway that only seemed to make sense because I was half asleep. That’s kind of how my early morning thoughts generally are- they seem brilliant until I’ve had a cup of coffee, and then I’m like “What the fuck? That is utter nonsense!” Too bad I can’t remember what they were, they might have been good for a laugh. Anyway, I have at least two I can share…maybe the third will reveal itself as I go. Here goes:

  1. Depression. Can we talk about this for a minute? It often feels to me as if I am constantly on the cusp of slipping into depression, or just over the line into it, and struggling to either keep myself away or get myself all the way out. This week has been extra bad in that respect, and I hate it. I wake up every day with the intention of trying harder, doing better, getting more done, but the fact of it is…when you are truly feeling depressed, it’s very hard to accomplish much. Or anything, really. I think…I think I might be dealing with this the wrong way. I want so badly to just snap out of it through exercise or positive thinking, or even desperate prayer. I don’t have TIME to be depressed. I have shit to do. I don’t have any reason to be depressed, either. My life is good. Well guess what? That’s not how depression operates, and it doesn’t care how good your life is, what your schedule looks like, or if you have time. Much as I hate to admit it, it might be time to talk to someone about this. Sorry for being a bummer.
  2. March. It’s freaking MARCH already. I love spring, and would be pretty excited if I wasn’t feeling particularly shitty this morning. Also, it’s pouring down rain here right now, which we need so badly in California, but also, I feel like the weather is mocking me. I’ve decided that for the month of March, I will go mostly meatless. That’s my theme for the month- Mostly Meatless March. I say mostly because I’m scared. I’ve never tried to go without meat for an entire month, and I might forget, or freak out. I’m going to really try, though, to be a vegetarian for a month and see how it feels. Who knows? Maybe I’ll love it! Maybe I’ll lose twenty pounds! Maybe I’ll go vegan, and talk about only that for the rest of my life! (Note: this will never happen. I love butter and cheese WAY too much).
  3. Well, Camryn just gave me my third thing. She just stumbled out of bed, with her hair standing up straight, and her cheeks all flushed. “What are you doing up?” I asked her, looking at the clock which read 5:49, “It’s way too early!” “The cat woke me up.” She said, climbing into my lap.”She had her arms around my neck.” “Oh, she was giving you a hug.” I replied, giving her a hug of my own. “Yeah, or she was trying to secretly strangle me.” I laughed so hard, you guys- this is an ongoing thing in this house. Our girl cat, Rose, adores Camryn, but you know how cats show affection…sometimes they get a little mean about it. They get so wound up when you pet them that they scratch you, or knead you a little too hard. Camryn is convinced that the cat is trying to kill her. Sometimes she’ll scream for me from the other room to help her, and I run in to see what is wrong, expecting blood or broken bones, only to find a little girl with a cat lying peacefully in her lap. “She’s starting to scare me!” Camryn will whisper. Wouldn’t it be awful if the cat really was being a maniac, but every time I walked in the room she acted all sweet and innocent? Maybe I should install cameras. 🙂

Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I hope you have the best day possible under whatever circumstances you are dealing with. I certainly intend to. Talk to you soon!

 

Posted in Blogging, Life, motherhood, People, random, writing

Three Things, Late Again

three flowers

I can see a bad habit emerging here, but I do have an explanation- I just didn’t feel like writing yesterday. I mean, writing a blog. I worked on my novel some, after dealing with some technical issues (mine, not the computer) with Word in the early morning hours. Not only did I not feel like blogging, I didn’t even check my stats compulsively yesterday, or any of that. First time since December that I can recall just checking out of here like that. I needed a break, I guess. But enough of that- here are my final three things for February:

  1. Housework. I have been really, really trying to keep my house picked up lately, and, at the ripe old age of 42 it finally hit me- you have to do this shit every single day, don’t you? Like, if I don’t pick up the house every single day, it looks like hell again. I am both outraged and saddened by this fact- and I know it to be fact, because I didn’t really pick up the living room last night and, even though it was clean in here yesterday morning, it looks pretty messy right now. There is a giant pile of unmatched socks on the coffee table, next to several pieces of sketch paper abandoned by Camryn, a jacket and a pair of Uggs on the floor, and the “couch blanket” half on, half off the couch. There is also an empty laundry basket, a backpack, and a bathrobe on the couch. I was busy working on the kitchen last night, I didn’t quite make it to the living room. Maybe I should just work in the kitchen? But seriously, I went online, searching for a housekeeper yesterday, then realized I could be saving that money for fun stuff if I just managed to keep the house clean on my own. I mean, it’s never happened yet, but people change. Right?
  2. Worry. I don’t mean to brag, but I kind of consider myself a professional worrier. I am so good at it that when I run out of relevant things to stress out about, I am an expert at making up scenarios in my head in which things could theoretically go terribly wrong, and then I worry about those make-believe things. This morning, I found myself worrying that my tax refund would be intercepted by various government agencies that I owe money to, but don’t remember owing money to. Like, what if there are a bunch of things I have forgotten about, and they all take part of my money, and then I am expecting all this money, and I don’t get any of it?! What will I do then? Well, a) that isn’t going to happen, because it’s a made up scenario, and b) even if it did, I would just do what I always do- keep going. Still, it makes me anxious, just thinking about it. That’s how good I am at worrying.
  3. Gratitude. I think a good way to wrap this up is some perspective on all of the stuff I just wrote. How lucky am I to have this messy little house? How awesome is it that I have any house at all? There was once a time when I would have given anything to have even a crappy studio apartment of my own to lay down my head in at night, and now I have a whole house! With two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a laundry room, a big old yard…it might not be fancy, but it’s a lot more than I’ve had before. It’s a lot more than I should have wound up with, considering my former trajectory. And even if the imaginary government agencies take every penny of my tax return, I still have a great career and a paycheck I can depend on. So I need to be be grateful for all the blessings in my life, rather than feeling overwhelmed or worried. I am going to be okay. I am always okay.

And that is the best I can do for today. As always, have a speedy Friday, and may your weekend go by slow as molasses.