Life On The B Side

Taking all that life throws at us one moment at a time

Looking Through The Window October 12, 2017

It’s dark when I leave my home in the morning to go to work.

It’s dark when I get home from work in the evening.

It’s a long, tiring, 12 hour day.

 

When I leave my home for work in the morning, 1 child has already been dropped off at school and 1 child is still asleep in his bed.

I don’t get to spend “start of the day” time with either of them.

This is depressing.

 

When I get home from work in the evening, the children have already showered.

  • And the children have been fed.
  • And the children have finished their homework.

This is wonderful.

It makes my life easier in many ways.

This is sad.

I don’t even get to see the clothes they wear to school each day.

I don’t get to nourish their bodies.

I don’t get to help them exercise their brains.

These things are work – And they are a huge privilege.

 

I eat, I wash all the dishes/pots, I shower, I take out my clothes for the next day.

I ask how everyones day was.

I am home for less than 2 hours before it’s bed time for the children.

 

It feels sometimes like I am watching my children through a window.

There, but not THERE.

 

I like my job – and my coworkers.

This is a blessing.  I am not unaware of this fact.

My job causes me to miss doctors appointments and school functions and I don’t get to stay home with them when they have a day off for Columbus Day or a teacher work day.

My job prevents me from doing after school pick ups.

  • Even if there’s been an after school activity pushing the pick up time back.

This is guilt trip inducing.

Not just guilt trippy though.

It’s not that I feel like I should be there.  I want to be there for everything.

 

For everything I miss – Shaunie is present.

She gets all the days off that the kids get.

Her job allows for drop offs and pick ups and for chaperoning trips and for dinner prep and homework assistance and doctor appointments.

This is a heavy load to bear and it’s sometimes exhausting for her.

She does is all anyway.

My boys know they can depend on her.

That kind of consistency and stability and sense of peace is a gift to them.

The consistency and stability and sense of peace that they have is a gift to me.

For this I am beyond grateful.

 

I try on the weekends to make up for the lost time.

We actively seek out and attend family friendly events.

We play board games and we watch movies and we just hang out talking or doing side by side independent reading.

It never feels like enough.

Never!

Despite the best of efforts, quality family time is not always achieved or achievable – even on weekends.

  • The boys have plans of their own.
  • I am catching up on sleep/rest.
  • I am running necessary errands.
  • I am doing house chores.
  • I have other commitments.

 

Then it’s Monday again.

And I am leaving for work when it’s still dark and with one child already at school and one still sleeping.

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Fun But Tiring Weekend September 25, 2017

It started out on Friday evening with me asking which game they wanted to play.  We decided on a thimble, a car, a cat and dog.  Yup, Monopoly.  It was our first time playing non-junior monopoly as a family and it was pretty good.  We had a couple moments of disagreement about whether something was legal or not and we had someone (NOT ME – lol) who was very gassy, but we laughed a lot which is always my favourite thing.  Jay needed some help with his money math but that was ok.  In the end, even though Ace and I kinda partnered up to take Shaunie and Jay down, those darn railroads did me in.  My last 3 rolls landed me on railroads and cost me $200 a pop.  In the end the Ace/Deenie team lost by about $400.

 

On Saturday we spent the morning hanging out at home and doing some cleaning and tidying.  We also, finally – after FOUR delivery attempts – got our full couch.  We’ve been living with half a couch for about a month because they keep coming with 2 of the same side.

At around 4pm, we arrived at 6 flags in Maryland.  Ace and I had a good time going on rides and Jay had a good time forcing Shaunie to go on rides.  (She’s not a ride lover).  We drove go karts and the kids and I did a bungee drop thing.  It was the first day of fright fest, and I expected it to be a little scary but it wasn’t at all.  If you wanted to be scared you have to pay more to go into the haunted houses.  We opted out because they said it’s not recommended for kids under 13.  In a couple years, we’ll try again.

We spent Saturday night with everyone’s fave – Aunty Juddles.  The adults stayed up till the early hours of the morning talking and laughing and it was nice.

 

On Sunday we attended my jobs annual Family Picnic.  They really did a great job of making it fun for the kids.  Rock wall and zorb ball and mechanical shark (instead of bull), petting zoo, pony rides, bouncy castles, gladiator battle zone, carnival games with prizes, face painting, ice-cream truck, snow cones, cotton candy … you name it.  For the adults, there was an open bar.

 

We got home at around 5 pm and by 7:30 everyone was ready for bed.  Shaunie and I managed to stay up long enough to watch one episode of a show.  It was good and we’re looking forward to watching another tonight.

 

And now, here we are.

Even though they went to bed so early, I still had to wake Ace up this morning.  As we were brushing teeth this morning getting ready for work, I said to Shaunie:  “Another early night for everyone tonight?”  She eagerly agreed.  That one night of decent sleep was not enough to adequately recuperate from the weekend.  But it was fun and definitely worth it!

 

How was your weekend?

 

Open Letter To My Mothers Sister September 18, 2017

Filed under: Family,Marriage — The B Side @ 5:40 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

christian

 

Isn’t that sweet.

You, one of my mothers many sisters, posted that meme on Facebook and I assume you think it’s just lovely and makes you come across as having a good heart and not like a bigot.  You probably thinks it’s the perfect mix of compassion and religious integrity.  With all the talk of love and not judging and friendship and what not.  I mean really, how noble and Christ-like of you to not stand by while we get bullied.

 

I have questions though.

What does “not supporting homosexual marriagemean?  What does “standing up for your beliefs” look like?  Does it mean you would vote “NO” to make it legal?  Does it simply mean that you would not attend a homosexual wedding?  Does it mean that you would teach your children that someone else’s marriage is less valid or is inferior somehow?   Would you allow your children to spend extended time with their cousins who are children of a homosexual marriage?  Would my wife and I not be welcome in your home?  I just wanna know.  Because you see, with all your talk of still being a friend while you “stand up for your beliefs” you are probably being a hypocrite.  You, as a Catholic, happen to follow a sector of a religion that does allow pork eating (which I think is fine) – Never mind that there are parts of the bible that prohibit that – But that’s not my point here.  I’m not trying to influence which parts of the bible you decide are worth ignoring and which are not.  Choose any parts you want to.  Just as 7th Day Adventists can choose to focus on the parts that say pigs are unclean (which I also think is fine).  As individuals people should be able to choose what they want to eat without the government intervening and without other people putting themselves in a position of power over their rights based on personal religious beliefs.

 

If you don’t want to socialize with a gay couple I’m actually ok with that.  Well, I think it’s dumb, so I’m not necessarily ok with it but I accept that it’s your prerogative.  If you want to shelter your children from their lesbian Aunt and her children that’s totally up to you.  Would you disown your own son if he told you he was gay and wanted to get married?  You could.  That would be your choice to make.  It would be sad and unfortunate; but it would be your choice.

 

If you think homosexual marriage should be illegal though – that’s a problem.  Believe whatever you want, just don’t impose those beliefs on everyone else.  What gives you the right to put yourself in such a lofty position as to decide if it’s alright for another person to get married or not in the first place?  It’s no different from white people in 1787 deciding that black people should only be counted as 3/5 of a person when determining political representation.

 

It’s not ok to make laws for everyone based on religious beliefs of some.  Or is it?  Would it be right for 7th Day Adventists to make bacon illegal in an entire country and would it be ok for Jehovah’s Witnesses to make it illegal for women, anywhere, to hold any positions of power?

 

How about for you as a proud Catholic with the alter boy son, to make it illegal for men of all religions to get married because you don’t believe your own priests should marry? If there was a way to make pre-marital sex illegal and punishable by law, would that be acceptable?  Wait a second, should divorce be illegal?  I’m pretty sure that’s against your Church rules.  (Rocks and glass houses and all that).  Would it be the right of the government to force the children of non-married people to live with other married family members or in a group home because their biological parents have been sent to prison for breaking the law?  And what about birth control?  Should condoms and pills be illegal?  I’m just asking.

 

How do you feel about womens rights in strict Muslim countries?  I suppose it’s fine with you that Saudi women aren’t allowed to drive and that their girls cannot go to school and that the women are forced to wear bourkas.  I mean, after all, their religion tells them that’s how it should be.

 

If there was such a country where most of the law makers were Scientologists, should they and Tom Cruise cause all psychiatrists to lose their jobs and should all medication that treats mental illnesses be outlawed even for the Christians of said country?  Should it be forced upon all people, in a country led by Mormons, that they “go forth preaching the gospel, two by two” because that’s the law as laid out in the Book of Mormon  (D&C Section 42: 6)?  Or, instead of asking about missionary work, should I ask about the Mormon law which at one point argued for legalized slavery saying God ordained it or the one that forbade mixed-race couples saying blackness was a curse brought down on us as the seeds of Cain?  In The Book of Mormon, it literally says, God inflicts a curse of dark skin on the Lamanites when they disobey him and they become white and delightsome when they obey him.  How could the entire world not agree to and stick to this?  God himself commanded it.  God himself banned black people from voting or holding public office.  How did we allow Obama (who you support) to become President?

 

In the Jewish Torah it says that all males should be circumcised and that a widow whose husband died childless must not be married to anyone but her deceased husband’s brother.

 

Or are laws and restrictions based on religious views, only allowed if they align with YOUR religion?  With YOUR holy book?

 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to trick you or back you into a corner, or even convince you of anything.  I am not saying your religion, or any other religion, is bad.  I am not knocking anyones beliefs by drawing attention to them here.  I go to Church sometimes too.  I just want to know, specifically, what your beliefs are.  I want to know about things that don’t fit nicely into your cute little meme.  Maybe saying “I don’t support” is just your way of saying that when you pray, you pray for God to heal me and my sinning heart.  Or for God to have mercy on my soul when I die.  That actually wouldn’t offend me at all.  Pray away.

 

I hope you don’t mind all my questions.  You put the meme out there so I feel like it’s fair game for me to ask you about it.  So, don’t be vague.  Tell me where exactly you stand and IF you believe that because of the Church you attend, that qualifies you to infringe upon my rights?

What you say will tell me a lot about who you are and if I want to be a part of your life or not.

 

With Respect,

Your big sisters oldest daughter

 

Phone Calls September 6, 2017

Last week Thursday I got a phone call.

It was not a call that I wanted to receive.

My Aunt had been hospitalized.

I was sad and worried – But mostly concerned about her and her comfort.

I spent the weekend either calling or anxiously waiting to receive a call to get updates.

Good news! – She was treated and released.

I am still worrying because I know she will not follow the doctors orders to relax.  It’s not who she is.

It’s hard being an immigrant and living in a different country from your loved ones and not having easy access to help them.

 

Last week Friday I got a phone call.

It was not a call that I anticipated.

The boys step mom was in the hospital – Getting ready to have her babies.

That call altered/canceled any plans we had.

We had to go pick my boys up late at night and prepare a bed for them.

I got to see them sooner than I expected which made my heart happy.

Good news! – Everyone is doing well and my sons now have twin sisters which they are very excited about.

The new mom is an immigrant and all her family live in another country.  I’m sure that’s not easy for her.  I hope she gets the support she will need; one way or the other.

 

Last Sunday I made a call that I did not want to make.  911.

Shaunies Grandma needed to be taken to the hospital.

We were scared and worried.

We had to cancel plans to attend an engagement party/bbq for good friends and instead spent the weekend making sure that she was as comfortable as possible.

Good news! – She was treated and released.

We still worry because she’s home alone quite often and is not good about letting someone know when she’s not feeling well.

If necessary we are only a 4 1/2 hour drive away.

“Only” is relative when it’s your Grandma who you love more than anything and she needs you.

 

Last Sunday was Ace’s birthday.

We made the best of it – Even though much of it was spent at a hospital – And we had to cancel plans for him to see Nanas.

Shaunie brought home a cake just as the kids were going to bed but they were allowed to stay up and have some.

We made a plan to take him to an amusement park.  His choice of an activity.

He received calls and messages from family and friends near and far.

He received more cash gifts than ever before and more gifts yet are on their way.

I expected him to hear from all the people who should love him – and he did hear from most – but there was one phone call that never came.  That message was received loud and clear.

I am disappointed but he’s fine.  He knows who his family is and that it often has nothing to do with blood.

 

Being Mothered August 28, 2017

As soon as I saw the title of the following post by Mary Tyler Mom, I knew I would love it.

(You can click the link to read her post) –>  i-miss-being-mothered 

 

Oh how I understand that feeling.  I’ve thought this many times over the years, as I’m sure other people have as well.  I just don’t recall ever seeing someone write about it.  Missing your mom, or in my case, your Grandma as a person, is different from missing being mothered.  As Mary says, “I have no shame in admitting I miss being on the receiving end of things I can only hope I am providing my boys.”

My mother is alive but she never mothered me.  That was my Grandma’s job and she passed away when I was 22 years old.  Prior to that I had already been living in a different country than her for about 5 years.  I wasn’t mothered for nearly long enough.

I missed everything about my Grandma during the years that I was living here in the USA and she was in Jamaica.  But during the long months away, I would look forward to seeing her again and having her answer my innumerable questions about life.  It was a treat when she cooked something just for me because she knew I loved it.  I would bring home clothes that needed mending and she would fix them for me; even though I was fully capable of doing it myself.

In one of our last conversations, I remember making a point of telling her how well I was doing and how happy I was.  I wanted her to know that I was ok.  I wanted her to go in peace and not to be worrying about me.  But I wasn’t ok and I needed her.

I never got to try on wedding dresses with her or ask her how she managed with 2 young boys.  I didn’t have her to call when I was feeling sad or overwhelmed or just needed to know that someone was in my corner.

I miss her holding me in the crook of my elbow as we cross the street, even though I know how to look left, right and then left again.  I miss her reminding me of all the things I need to remember.  I miss having someone who I can go to for a few extra dollars and someone who I can ask to draw the clothes design ideas that come into my head.  I miss having her be my alarm clock.  I hate the aggressive beep beep beep of an alarm and as long as she was around she never forced that on me.  Instead, she would come into my room and gently say my name and rub my shoulder until I woke.  She wrapped my school books and dug prickles out of my foot.  Now I have to dig my own damn prickles out.  (Maybe I should stop waking around bare-footed).  I miss her washing all my clothes before I leave Jamaica to come back to the States so that I don’t have to deal with a ton of dirty laundry fresh off a vacation.  (Although my Aunty J does that for me now).  I miss her brushing my hair as we watch TV.  I even miss her forcing me to do things I don’t want to do, but should do.  From graduations to promotions to receiving awards to finally finishing a craft project, no-one will ever be as proud of you as the one who mothers you.

She was just always there with a smile and a hug and a willing ear.  She was a back rubber and a hand holder and a forehead kisser.  She was a willing guinea pig if I baked something and a willing audience if I wrote a song and a willing partner if I wanted to play a board game.

 

It’s very lonely growing up without that.  There are so many things that mothers and daughters are suppose to share.  I see the comments on Facebook.  Moms liking and cheering on everything their kids post.  It makes me feel good to see it.  I hear the stories from my friends.

“My parents came by this weekend and my mom cleaned out my linen closet.”  

“I went shopping with my mom and she bought me 2 dresses.”

“Thanks for the compliment but I didn’t do that.  My mom planted those flowers.”

“My mom took the kids to the movies so I could get a mani/pedi.”  

“My daughter asked to have a ‘sleepover’ with me in my bed so when I woke up in the middle of the night I went and got her so she could wake up next to me.”

 

I think it’s lovely.

 

I get lots of other things.  I get Auntied.  I get friended and I get wifed.  This post would never end if I mentioned all the ways that people carry me through life and how grateful I am for all of it.

 

I do still wish I had had more time getting mothered though.  That’s not something that anyone can replace.

 

Get You Somebody Who: August 24, 2017

Filed under: Family,Marriage — The B Side @ 12:02 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

As much as I get on her case sometimes, I do love the USA.  I love travelling around her and taking in all the natural beauty and seeing the diverse cultures and eating new foods.  There is so much to do and to see.

Our newest USA adventures took us to Alabama and Tennessee.  2 states I’d never been to before.  That brings my total number of states I’ve visited to 20.  (21 if you count Texas although I never left the airport there.)

Anyway, I was scrolling through our pictures from the Alabama/Tennessee trip and while it chronicles the great time we had and all the cool things we saw, it also illustrated nicely that I’m in a really great relationship.

As I looked at the pictures, my thought was that everyone should be so lucky as to have someone who:

 

–          Truly is your best friend.  Someone who tells you stories about their day and wants to hear all about yours.  Even if it’s just that you saw a baby basically stalking someone who was not their parent in the airport.  (Yes, there are pictures to support that example because without pictures it didn’t really happen.  We all know that.)

 

–          Is happy when you are happy even when they are not with you.  When Shaunie was stuck in class, I went to the Huntsville Botanical Garden and walked around their beautiful grounds and enjoyed their butterfly garden and lay in a hammock under a canopy of trees and read my book.  It was AWESOME!  She was happy for me that I got that relaxation time.

 

–          Indulges your nonsense.  We went out to dinner and I ordered a sangria.  Peach to be exact.  Shaunie gave me a look that I can’t describe.  Part eye rolling, part amusement, part annoyance, part resignation.  Then she said: “You always do that. Order a drink and then you only have half of it. I’m not paying for it.”  I promised that I would finish this one.  I didn’t.  The next night that we went out she asked me if I’d like to order a drink.  (p.s.  There’s really no “I pay” or “she pays”.  We are a “we” on the bank account.)

 

–          Will go on and take you on crazy adventures.  We spent an unscripted day in Nashville roaming wherever our hearts took us.  We caught a free outdoor concert in a park and toured a Parthenon replica and browsed stores selling cowboy boots and heard live bands playing in bars as we walked down the street and saw drunk girls dancing on top of a bar.  We waved at groups of women on party buses having bachelorette weekends and stood on line for an hour and a half just to have the supposedly world famous Hot Chicken from Hattie B’s.  We went to a museum and struck up conversations with strangers and took the advice of Uber drivers on where to go and what to see.   We even attended a rodeo – A first for both of us.  (Another p.s. Let me just say, the rodeo was great.  We had so much fun.  If you get the chance to go, I recommend it.)

 

–          Appreciates the “real” you.  We spent a few hours at the Air and Space Museum and as I was looking through our pictures I noticed photo after photo of me.  Pictures that I was unaware that she was taking.  Mostly of my back or from the side.  Pictures of me looking at exhibits or of me laughing.  I loved that.  There were so many interesting things to learn about and to see, but she was looking at ME.  Not the carefully crafted, posing, me that I show to the rest of the world on Facebook.  #Swoon

 

–          Sends you memes throughout the day just to make you laugh.

 

–          Encourages your intellectual growth and is eager to expand their own minds.  In addition to museums and such, we also hung out in a book store.  That’s something we actually do fairly often.  Due to her recommendation, I am currently reading “Behold The Dreamers”.  It’s a really easy read, but I am enjoying it.  I’m interested to see how it ends.  Next up to bat is a Wilbur Smith thriller.

 

–          Can be silly.  We did corny poses for pictures (flying through the air in front of a space shuttle, matching the stance of a dog statue, photo bombing other tourists, greedily eating a cupcake).  We “sang back up to Ray Charles” and played instruments and climbed into tight spaces that were hard to then get out of due to our aging bones.

 

–          Can’t wait to come back home when they are away.

 

 

For my part, I have delayed watching our favourite TV show so that we can watch them together at home.  I am now 2 episodes behind and even though I have seen some spoilers online, and I’m itching to watch, it would not be fair to my girl.  That’s how I show my love.

 

Sneak Peak July 18, 2017

We’ve had a teenager staying with us for a couple of weeks now and let me just say that it was a shake up.

 

First of all, she’s a “she” which is quite different from having 2 “he’s”.   Hers is a world of making matching tie-dye bandanas with her best friend and taking selfies showing off her various hair styles.  It’s a world of nail polish and emoji’s and the mall.

 

She’s 14 so she’s not a kid, but she’s also not an adult.  It’s a fine line to walk for both her and us.

Even though she’s on vacation, we are still who we are so she has chores and the tutor who comes (yes, even during the summer) to work with our boys has been helping her also.

 

We monitor social media posts to make sure they are age appropriate and try to find the sweet spot between outfits that are cute and trendy but not too “grown”.  We still have to tell her to clean up her room – all while talking about crushes and suicide and drugs and abortions and STD’s*.

One minute we are in the throws of peer pressure to smoke and the next thing you know we are painting toe nails and singing songs from High School Musical and drinking strawberry milk.

 

Being a teenager hasn’t changed.  When she writes, she decorates her pages with hearts and the dots over her i’s are big circles (to look cute).

Yet, teenagers nowadays are living a totally different existence than the one I lived.  It’s scary.  They have too much access to things they are not mentally equipped to handle.  There is so much pressure to be raunchy.  Thanks to the few who have turned bad publicity into lucrative careers, things that my friends and I would have thought were scandalous have become “goals”.

 

Her time with us is coming to an end.  I will miss her a lot and I’m sure the boys will too.  It’s been a joy seeing her have fun and experience new things.

We’ve laughed a lot.  In addition to Fun Land and the river, we’ve played board games and Uno and been to a water park.  Shaunie and I were even able to go on a mid-week date since we had a babysitter.  She’s been VERY tolerant of Ace and all his talking and she’s been completely unphased by Jay and his moods.  Her and the boys have developed a relationship where they trust her and love hanging out with her while they watch TV, but they fight over who has to sit in the middle seat in the car.

The 3 of them ganged up on Shaunie to tease her about being scared to go down the big slide and they really get a kick out of it any time her and I make fun of each other.

 

Having 3 kids means more.  More fun and more laughs and more hugs and more “I love you’s”, but also more money and more mess and more tiredness.  Kudos to you guys who have 3 or more kids.  It’s a JOB.

Taking it all into consideration though, she’d be welcome back at any time.

 

We are on the cusp of having full time teenagers and I can only imagine what things will be like when my boys get to be the age she is now.  Based on what we saw over the past 2 weeks with regards to the topics of conversation, I’d love to think that it is far away but the fact is that it is less than 3 years away.

Having her has been …. eye-opening, and interesting, and scary, and helpful, and heart stopping, and a breath of fresh air, and tiring, and a treat.

 

 

 

*We are Aunts so I think that makes it easier for her to open up to us about certain things than with her mom and yes, we tell the mom everything that we think is even remotely concerning.