Thursday, August 30, 2007

Grown In The Heart

Posted by Anonymous.

I’m crying tonight. I’m sad tonight. I’m angry tonight.

It wouldn’t be so bad if those facts somehow distinguished tonight from the last and the one before that, but it doesn’t.

I want to rewind a bit, that for you the basement dwellers to know who I am.

I grew up in a small town, with 4 older brothers, two adoring parents who have been married 38 years now, two special grandmothers, and many friends. I did not dream anything that I wasn’t given the opportunity to accomplish. That said, life was never easy. I was adopted, and while my adopted parents were fantastic, I had a rough start in life, my fetal hood, and tiny baby hood (taken away by state at 2 months old) caused some nutritional issues that hold me still today. Depression has also followed me all the days of my life.

I got through school and chose to pursue a career in animal science, using it to breed horses, the kind I’ve ridden since I was almost 5, in horse shows. At the time I’d already been an assistant at my show barn and helped my coach in all the aspects of her job. I was hired there while attending school, I loved it. I thanked God everyday for giving me a job I’d always love.

Then it happened, one of my best friends up until that point and time had strayed a bit into drugs and alcohol and one day in 2002, when I was 20, she told me she was pregnant.

I was scared, she was still heavily using drugs, I was scared for her, for the baby. I took her in. I suddenly was keeping an apartment, buying everything, and caring for my friend. She promised to get help, and got on Methadone, but ended up using that on top of the other. The baby was taken 6 weeks early due to heart issues. Thankfully it ended up to be nothing. Then one day, when getting ready to leave for work, I noticed her baby, then only 3 weeks old was crying nonstop, I went to check on him and found a note.

She said she’d be back, a few days. My parents and I cared for him, we waited and waited, she came back, 10 months later. I was petrified the entire 9 months that I had him alone. Would the authorities find out? What if he got sick, I couldn’t take him to the doctor unless it was bad. Then the authorities would find out her abandonment. She came back she stayed a year, and then my health declined terribly. I was hospitalized in ICU for 14 days, and when I returned home she’d left with the boy, a boy that I had loved so much…losing him nearly killed me. I wouldn’t see them again for a year. Then I saw them off and on until October 2004, when she called to say she was pregnant again.

It was the same scenario different baby. Except this time she decided she didn’t want the children at all. Neither of them, she wanted to move on do college, start over, and naturally, me, who was up to my neck in a job that requires me to be able to work long hours, and travel, travel like I’ve always wanted too, was her choice to give the kids too. I’ve ridden horses in expeditions in places as far away as New Zealand and Australia (I’m from USA), it was a dream job.

I didn’t know what to do, but I will tell you, you don’t care for a baby for 9 months, you don’t sit up with him at night while he teethes, rock him when he’s cranky, stumble down the hall at 2am when he wants to play, and not love him. And holding that newborn in my arms I could not allow her to hurt them anymore. She signed over legal custody and continued her downhill spiral towards her eventual overdose and death, and I walked into life as a single mother of two, by default.

Sounds great right, and it partially is. Believe me, I don’t care what type of scars or stretch marks, no one out there has gone through more to get their babies than I have. I may not have labored physical pain but mentally I have walked the shattered wilderness more times than I needed. I am their mother, I can prove it…

I can change a diaper in the dark, even a dirty one, and I have walked the floor because it’s the only way he’d stop crying. I’ve been up all night with a newborn and up all day with a toddler. I have potty trained one, hopefully soon another. I have bought the clothes and dressed the kids, I have lost more socks than I could count, I’ve bottle fed and burped, showered in spit-up. I have cried while holding them for their shots. I’ve had to say no, to break up fights, to use timeout, to swat butts. I’ve been through lice, and chicken pox, and super poison ivy. I have done fevers of 105, and limp hot babies in my arm at er. I have done suppositories, and vomit. I’ve done 3 bed changes in one night. I’ve also chased behind the bicycle, explained why you have to wear helmets and sit in car-seats. I’ve done first day of preschool, most recently, I have done heartbreakingly: First Day Of Kindergarten.

I’ve done sleepless nights, more than one in a row. I’ve done ADHD, and fetal alcohol syndrome. I’ve done behavioral therapy, and speech therapy, and run them here, and him there, and him somewhere else. I’ve done soccer, and t-ball, and basketball. I’ve done skinned knees and broken hearts, a lot of the time my own.


I hate my friend. She’s dead and I seem to hate her even more.

In her selfishness she hurt two little boys. She laid them off on me knowing I’d give up everything I’ve worked so ridiculously hard for, to work a kid compatible job I hate, to run them back and forth from this and that and another, to deal with their various issues which she gave them. She knew me, and she knew I’d do it. Sometimes, when I’m not looking at their beautiful faces, I wish I wasn’t that person, the one who said sure, I’ll drop everything, change everything, over night, say the word, and I’m there.

When the baby was born and I decided to take them both she called me her hero. I got rid of my 2 door sports car and upgraded to a 4 door highlander. I slowly over time cut back my barn hours from 40-60 hour weeks depending on shows, training, lessons planned, to next to nothing. I haven’t shown now in over a year. My life consist of laundry, and more laundry, and saying no, don’t hit your brother until I’m blue in the face.

I love my boys. I miss me. I worry. I worry about them, my 5 year old kindergartener can’t talk well enough for you to understand him. He’s been in speech therapy for 2 years now. He’s had surgery twice on his ears, probably another soon. He has adhd, which I help him control with breathing exercises, most likely he’ll require medication before long. He has FAS, and is socially awkward. His brother faired much better, he’s behind over all in everything, but I think he’s going to be okay eventually.

I was engaged at the time of taking in both boys and that engagement was broken off because the gentleman who was nice, didn’t want to be responsible for the boys. Most of my friends were barn people, and while they have gone on in search of the next great horse I’m stuck up to my eyeballs in diapers and fear.

Do you hear me, do you realize that people, maybe even people just like you have made me who I am? People in my own family act like I’m less of a mother because I did not bear my children. You were lucky, for the most part, so you had to labor and pained through that. Big fuggin deal, you also probably had a few months notice. You also probably had the ability to eat right and not fill your body drugs and alcohol and gave your babies half a chance. You probably didn’t have to give up literally everything, the man you loved, a job you loved, a lifestyle you loved, for an entirely different way of life, the very next day.

What really makes someone a mother? I’m so tired of not fitting in. But I don’t. My old friends want the old me. I can’t even find her anymore. I still love to ride, but now its an escape. I’m not excited about the next better horse I can ride, I just want to love this one. For this one to take me away, for the wind to blow my hair, for the smells of horse sweat and leather to become me again. Other young mothers in my area, have either heard how I unauthentic ally got my children or eventually find out somehow (remember small town gossip) and somehow the fact that I have not given birth, means that my worry will be different than everyone else’s, my hurt, my experiences raising children…different. My advice, useless.

Someone, someone other than my mom and dad please open your eyes and see my mommy badge. My little boys gave it to me, and maybe not when I gave them life, but their birth was the easy part, even for their mother. I’ve taught them to love, to be nice to animals, to care about people, I’ve held their hand through so many of life’s up and downs. I’ve been mama, and mommy. I’ve dried tears, I’ve known that fear when they cut loose from you in the parking lot, or run ahead a few isles in the store. I’ve done the mundane everyday things for almost 3 years now, and even some time before that. I was there when they felt their first major loss, when our dog died, and they hurt. Oddly they were there oddly enough a month and 10 days later when my aunt died in a freak accident, something that only happens in the movies, they had their own devastations then, but I sure held on to them for hope.

Please, someone please, don’t make me explain myself, explain my love. When I have another child, it won't be a child of my own, these are children of my own…they just didn’t grow under my heart, but in it.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Scared About Surgery

Posted by Anonymous.

Today, and every day, as I have done now for months, I am facing down the demons of anxiety that plague my days and ruin my nights - - and I'm sick of it. There is a reason for this, and I come here to the Basement for some sense of peace or feedback, I feel pretty desperate for comfort.

My little boy was born with an undescended testicle. Fairly common, I understand. And his ped. has reminded me sternly at every well-visit that at one year, if it hasn't come down, it would need to be "brought down." Nice words for surgery. That thought has been sickening to me. I've changed diapers trying so hard to be goofy-mom, happy everything's-ok-mom, but with every diaper change, I have looked with worry at the lopsided little scrotum (wish there were a better word for it) and prayed, sometimes audibly, that the little bugger would just come on down. It hasn't. We met with a pediatric urologist last week, and as I feared, he needs to have the surgery done in the first week of September. It's a very common surgery, and it's done on an outpatient basis, but I am still Absolutely. Terrified. He'll be under general for about an hour and a half. The dread surrounding this whole thing has been just awful for me. I have a very vivid imagination, and have had to push horrible pictures away in my mind, fears about the anesthesia, fears about his recovery. It is hard for me to sleep, it is hard for me to look at him and his smiling little drooly face and think of what's to come. I try so hard to force the positive thoughts into my brain, I have guilt for not being able to do that very well. So mostly, I lie awake at night and cry. Perspective is shot. My mother strings are too tight to let go of this worry.

I know that this surgery needs to be done, and I know why. It would not be fair to him to not do it. And that brings me a little sense of purpose and comfort, but the demons of anxiety plague me still. Then it's compounded by this guilt that I should be manifesting positive energy and I'm allowing too much fear to dictate my life, and now my son's life... yeesh! I have googled the bejeesus out of anything related to the condition and the surgery, and I've found some helpful things, but most of all, what I really want and need, is some mom-feedback... some comfort, some love from the ones who understand the pain of waiting for this surgery to take place, someone who's been through those awful moments where you hand your Everything to a nurse and they disappear through the OR doors, and you sit with your spouse in the holding room, waiting, crying. This is a huge hurdle for me. Anybody been there?

Oh, and I also feel guilty (there's a trend here) because I know that it could be worse, there are little tiny newborns who have heart surgery every day, and here I am freaking out over this procedure, but it's my little punkin' man, it's my whole world. Oh boy. Thanks, everyone. I just want us all to be ok.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Her Bad Anger

Posted by HBM.

I am so fucking angry with my mother right now. SO. FUCKING. ANGRY. I love her desperately, but that only makes it worse when our shit comes between us. Our relationship has an Achilles heel, and when it flares, it explodes.

And I can't write about it. This isn't a private diary for me; my blog isn't a private diary for me; I have no space for the stuff that really, really burns.

So this, this stupid, black, toxic, tar-like anger, has to get swallowed. It sucks.

Just had to say so.


Still trying to figure out about the banner. Still undecided, all the more so after the near fifty-fifty split on the voting.

Anybody got any good basement-y images?

Monday, August 13, 2007

I Wasn't Lost But Now I'm Found

Posted by Amy.

One night I was sitting at my computer, entranced by the glow of the monitor, deciding what to post. It was an important decision because one of my favorite bloggers was linking to me the very next morning, and I wanted to give her venerable readers something really worth their time should they decide to "click over," which I hoped they would.

I chose a story that I'd published on a well-read website under a pseudonym, because it was somewhat adult content. I realized that it would be very different from what my friend wrote on her blog because some of the language was raw and the subject matter was sexual. It was also unlike anything I'd ever published on my own blog. But -- it was not off-handed or trite. It was – and is -- one of the most introspective things I've written, and by many strangers and a couple of friends, it has been read with interest and acclaim.

I had it all set up and ready to publish the next morning; and then I decided to click on my Site Meter. You know, my little blogging report card. After coming back to blogging full-throttle just a bit ago, I'm not hung up on comments, but I am curious as to how my traffic ebbs and flows. I'm not trying or vying to be a rock-star blogger. But, I am a published writer, as well as a blogger, and I want to be read.

But by my parents?

That's right, after 18 months of blogging under the radar, my family found my blog – as revealed by the details of my site meter and those tracking URLs. I felt like I was kicked in the chest. Like I was sixteen and my diary was read. Had I left it on the bed by accident? No. Was it under the mattress and easy to find? No. It was in my sock drawer, upside down, in the back, under the array of mismatched socks wrapped in an old tee-shirt.

Which brings up the question – can anything we bestow upon the World Wide Web really be private?

My answer initially was, well, I f-ing thought so.

And then I was just really, really glad I hadn't already published that post. It was not right choice for a general readership, and it certainly fell under the category of TMI for parents.

Before this happened, I had seven friends in real life who read my blog. The rest of my readers are internet friends, acquaintance and strangers. Half of the seven (yes, 3.5) live far away from me.

So it's ok to have some friends and any strangers reading about my life but not my family?


I do write some things publicly – things everyone reads – and I carefully compose those pieces with psyches and egos and temperaments and readerships in mind. And although as a writer I do some of that with my blog, as I don't believe its purpose (for me) is that of a diary.

I got a lot of different words of wisdom when I told my chosen few about being discovered. Everything from: "it's the world wide web, you can't put anything on it you don't want someone to find" to "look at your blog as a marketing opportunity for potential editors and publishers, and don't publish anything you wouldn't want them to read" to "abandon the blog and start a new one" to "tell them it's 'read at your own risk' and don't censor yourself."

It's all valid advice. I don't know what to do. Is there such a thing as privacy on the internet? Is it fair game if it's got a URL? Will my blogging change? Should I adopt a policy of 'read at your own risk'?

There are things on the blog that are not fodder for publication for one or a dozen reasons. The blog gives me an outlet to be creative and expressive and with myself as the only editor and publisher. My readers choose to read or not, comment or more likely to not.

I don't write about my parents, so what's the difference? I'm not sure. If it's now open to my family members, do I make it really public and start telling everyone about it? I don't think so. Because, even with the writing and the blogging and the swirling thoughts and opinions and my hours-long detailed conversations with friends about life details --- I'm a very private person (a statement which sent one of my closest friends into a hysterical fit of laughter and left her gasping for breath). There are only a couple of friends who really know everything about me. Everyone else, online and in real life, knows bits and pieces - what I want them to know, what they can understand, and at times, what they can handle.

As an adult, I get to pick and choose who knows what about me, my life, my kids, my thoughts, my feelings. I have a right to ultimate privacy and the parameters are determined by me and me alone. But obviously that's not the case on the internet.

So, in order preserve my privacy I may have to go back to a diary in the sock drawer. Oh, but snoop at your own risk. There are condoms in there too.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Decorating Our Space

So, I've been wanting to fluff the Basement for some time now. You know, get a few more throw cushions, put up some more Duran Duran posters, that kind of thing. So I asked Sam of Temporarily Me to come up with some banners, and wouldn't you know it? I can't decide.

What do you think?


Or this:

Or something else entirely?

It's your space, too - I want to know what you think.

(Also? We have a button, thanks to Katie! Looky:

Steal it. Or e-mail me and I'll wrap it all up for you.)

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Distant Secrets

Posted by HBM.

I have a secret. I can whisper this secret to you, my friends, because that's what we do down here. Tell secrets. Share stories.

I told a story over here, at my sweet friend Leah's house. I'm a little embarassed by it - a lot embarassed by it, tho' the embarassment is bracing, and good - which is why I'm only whispering about it, here, in the dim light and shaggy comfort of the Basement. It's a story from when I was young, very young; from when I didn't know any better, as they say. From when I was striving to know better - about love, about life - and was confused. It's almost painful to look at, but it's honest, and it is - it was - me.

Go, see, and tell me what you think.

But be gentle.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Gray: How Do You Love (The Same Person) Again?

Posted by Anonymous.

As it is with many other bloggers, I’m depressed. Not suicidal, but I’m in a funk. I blog as part of my therapy, which also consists of antidepressants and behavior modification. I don’t deal well with ambivalence and gray areas. Right now I’m in that murky zone, and would appreciate any well thought out insight/advice/ food for thought, especially from you readers who have had experience.

Oh and by the way, I searched all through the Basement and couldn’t find a query exactly like mine. That’s why I’m here.

OK, here’s the gist: I don’t love my husband. I haven’t for awhile. There is no one else in the picture for either of us, that is not the problem. I have a five month old, my first child. I am an older new mom, closer to 40. I work full time outside of the home. My child is teething and not sleeping, so I realize my current mood is affected by sleep deprivation. I know better than to make big decisions on no sleep. But this “problem,” my query, exists even when I’ve got a good night’s sleep.

Here’s why I don’t love my husband: He’s basically a lazy coward. The cowardice is partly due to his innate introversion and shyness. The laziness I chalk up to the fact that his mother did everything for him as a child and expected nothing. Simultaneously, he was just kind of ignored. His dad was in the throes of his career when he was a kid and he was the third, so his dad never really noticed him. It’s like he just sort of floated through childhood almost as an accessory, like part of a backdrop. He was incredibly bright and into books and reading, so he spent the most of his childhood, teen years and adult years living in the top two inches of his head (his brain). His mom, being painfully shy too, never forced him to learn social skills or get a hobby that used his body or forced him to get out of his own head. He did not have to have a part-time job in high school; his parents gave him a used car. You get the idea.

When I met my husband, I was in graduate school, completing my thesis and working part time. He was a college drop out, who had failed several classes and quit his junior year in an accounting track degree. His dad was an accountant. My husband doesn’t love numbers or accounting, he’s into literature and history, but he chose that major for lack of imagination. Or laziness. Also his parents paid for all of his college, so I don’t think he ever had to seriously consider his choice of degrees. Or quitting school.

When we first started dating, his lack of ambition was tolerable. He worked full time at blue collar jobs (a mail courier, clerk, etc.) and never complained about his work. I thought to myself, he’ll get it together. Plus, accounting is lame, I thought, and here is this brilliant guy who is a history and literature whiz, why would he need it? Meanwhile, I completed my degree (which I paid for completely), interviewed in several cities, and took a job in the country’s largest city about 700 miles away. He moved there with me. He worked blue collar jobs while I did the career track and worked my ass off.

At some point along the way, I started wanting children. I was already in my mid 30s by then and we had moved back to the southeast where we are from (I wanted to be near my Mom who I am very close to). We were still unmarried. So I pressured him to get married. He said OK and we got married. That was four years ago. I went off birth control and we didn’t get pregnant. I forced him to return to school and finish his undergraduate accounting degree. It was ugly. As I mentioned numbers aren’t his thing, and he barely passed and got his degree by the skin of his teeth. Since his parents never showed him how to write a resume, or interview, or doing anything remotely related to getting a job, I had to show him all of this. I created his resume, I wrote his cover letters, I checked out the How to Interview for Dummies books at the library.

Two years ago, he got his first office job in the real world as an entry-level accountant. It pays $12 per hour. He’s still there. Yep, sad but true. We are in the southeast where wages are notoriously low, and he didn’t really advocate for himself when he interviewed. It’s a national company that is in a tight industry and barely ever makes a profit margin of more than 10 percent, so raises are far and few between. And there’s no room for moving up, it’s very hierarchical. You get the idea.

He’s always been ambivalent about having children. This didn’t change as my desire to be a parent increased. I guess he didn’t want all the work and hassle involved. Last year I got successfully pregnant after a miscarriage. He had nine months to find something that paid more. I didn’t expect a huge leap in salary, especially in this economy, but still, anything more than what he makes. He never applied or looked during that time, but I would occasionally check his job search engine web sites and apply for him when I wasn’t puking my brains out. The baby was born this February. He had eight weeks of paternity leave. He didn’t interview for anything during that time. Because I am the primary breadwinner (we could live off of my salary alone, it would be tight but doable), I had to return to work when my son was three months old. And here I am now. I’d prefer to stay at home with him.

So every day I go on the job search engines and apply for jobs for him while I’m at my job. He can’t do that at his job, they don’t allow Internet access. He does go to the interviews. But he’s shy and doesn’t take them too seriously, I surmise. When I ask how they go, he says, “We had a good conversation. Or,” it’s an interesting building.” Never does he say, “I really sold myself,” or “they seem interested,” or “the job is interesting.” I honestly think the interviews are his time for adult interaction (as a side note, I have tried to force him to get adult male friends of his own, and he doesn’t).

He is such a nice guy; you’d never suspect that he’s what I’d now call a loser. When his coworkers (all female) threw him a baby shower at his job, they all said to me that he is such a sweetie, so easy to get along with. And I agree. Yes he is. He is very, very sweet and nice and affable and well-mannered and can be very funny. He’s not physically or verbally abusive. He is loving and affectionate with our son. He changes poopy diapers. He reads to him. He plays with him. He loves him and appreciates him more than he thought he ever would. He is no longer ambivalent about his child, he is very attached. But that being said, he hasn’t demonstrated this great love by going out there and being a good provider. He pays lip service to the fact that he doesn’t like it that our kid is in daycare either, but he hasn’t done anything to change the situation.

So. I’m angry. And as an outgoing, expressive person, I express it. I’ve been verbally abusive, which I know doesn’t help, but I’m losing my mind. I’m angry at him. I’m angry at myself for thinking he would change for me, and when he didn’t, then later for our child. I feel like a fool. I feel like I’m one of those asshole idiots who “settled.” I have no physical attraction to him whatsoever. My heart is getting colder to him with each passing day. I fantasize about leaving, and it just being me and my son. I think it would be so much easier to just be responsible for the two of us. I’ve told my husband everything, every detail. He says that no way would he ever grant a divorce (his parents fought terribly but stuck it out, so that’s his model). He also says he still cares about me. He says he’s trying and I should just be patient. But people, I’ve been the primary breadwinner for almost 10 years now.

And I’m torn, in this gray area. I don’t want our son to see a loveless marriage (even if it’s one sided). I don’t want that modeled for him. I want him to see two parents that are relatively happy (content and confident), whether they are married or dating or single or what ever. I realize I could support my son and me by myself. I could leave. But would it be the right thing to do? I want to add that I am not seeking a new relationship for myself, it’s not about cheating or desire at all. In fact, the idea of dating again exhausts me, makes me recoil.

I need insight people because I can’t see the forest for the trees.

Has anyone out there ever stayed AND learned to appreciate, like, and perhaps love the father of their children? If so, how did you achieve it? Part of me wants to like him again, part of me doesn’t have the energy or momentum to try anymore. I don’t think ambivalence is good for children. It’s certainly not good for me.