Category: Parenthood


leuk[Friends Only] Difficult, personal, etc

For those that aren’t aware I am highly estranged from my immediate family. I have not spoken directly to my mother in decades. I interact only with my sister on occasions when she comments randomly on facebook that I should be in their lives. My mother saddled me with years of emotional and intellectual abuse as a child. She would have added physical abuse but I was too large by the time the abuse began.

My father had had a stroke at the age of 39 in 1979 and it devastated our family. I was 11, my sister 4. We lost everything; he lost more. My father had lost control of not merely have of his body but half of his brain. He had no common sense, self control, and even less ability to really do anything for himself. This is what pushed my mother over the edge. She became domineering, mentally abusive, and above all else utter paranoid that everyone was out to get her. Mentally, she was most abusive to my father. I would watch her humiliate him at home and publicly. At home he’d be often reduced to tears at her onslaughtght of his now being a ‘failure.’

College for me was an escape from the hell that home had become. I was in college I was unaware that my grandmother was supporting my education. It wouldn’t be until years later that I’d discovered that he was draining both my grandmothers financially dry. I learned this at my paternal grandmother’s funeral. One of the few times I saw my father’s side of the family. His brothers treated him like a pariah. On one level he deserved it. By this time he wasn’t working anymore. He’d lost his license under accusations of sexual harassment in the workplace. A concept that I personally thought I understood.

Alcoholism ran rampant on my father’s side of the family. I sometimes thought that maybe we’d been lucky and missed the gene. I discovered that substance abuse or reliance doesn’t always require a drug of some kind. Some times it can be the support of others. Around this time I’d learned that my mother had divorced my father for “Financial Reasons.” The belief was that she could better take care of him if her earnings weren’t at risk. In truth she was trying to make sure she wouldn’t go down with a sinking ship.

I made the difficult decision to tell him to find help from a social worker. I was living in California. I was between jobs having been laid off myself. I didn’t have the means to get out East let alone offer any help. I told him how much I loved him but how he couldn’t just live off his mother-in-law. Amazingly and painfully, he took my advice. At first he was in a shelter. But they cared for him. Then they moved him to a Jewish Sr. Centre and his V.A. benefits paid for him.

But he was no longer capable of caring for himself. And heavens knows his wife and daughter who were local didn’t. He got an infection in his leg and had to be taken to a hospital. It was determined that he’d have to lose his leg. I was called by my girlfriend’s mother that my mother needed me back in town because my father was in critical condition. My mother needed me back in town because as an ex-wife, the doctor’s wouldn’t listen to her and she realized that she could order me to do what she wanted.

That visit was one of the most horrible experiences of my life. It was obvious that her statement my entire life was going to be the one she’s stand on. “You are not my equal, you are my child and will do what I tell you.” She wanted more tests run, I disagreed and signed off on the amputation. In the waiting room she told me how horrible a person I was. How I never did anything for the family. How I was the one responsible for my father’s health and condition. How his death would be on my head.

I lost it. I’ve posted about this in the past. I used language on this horrible person that should have had me committed. Decades of resentment and abuse. I just wanted to let her know how much I hated everything about her. I used words that I don’t use even at my angriest. The line had been crossed. I didn’t have a mother. I had an angry and disgusting person who I had to symbolically and biologically acknowledge an attachment to.

Six months later I found out from a great Aunt that my sister had informed her that my father had died. I was cold. I was hurt. It didn’t hit home for a very long time. A week later I contacted one of my father’s brothers to deliver the news. He told me that he’d chatted with my father a few days earlier. My sister had lied about our father’s death. A few months later he actually passed. This time it didn’t effect me.

My sister made unnecessary arrangements for my father and explained that his VA benefits would pay for them. I should have recognized that as one of the stories my mother and father would tell me about how things would be paid for. A month later I had the funeral home calling me as kin that I was financially responsible. I explained that they had no contract with me or any signatures from me and that my sister was the one wholly responsible. I did explain that I would attempt to reach her though I was not in touch.

For the next 2 months though the power of the internet my sister tried to convince me that she was being held against her will in a hospital by her mother for an attempted suicide. This whole story was a lie to distract from the fact that she was avoiding telling me that the Funeral wasn’t going to be paid for. I won’t even start with the other lies I’ve had from her in the past. But with this one. I’d be fairly publicly humiliated by trying to show that I did care. I was done.

Within a few years I was married and then with my own child. I was going to try to get right at least some of what my parents got wrong. Heaven knows I spend more than one day, evening, night, convinced that I am as big if not a bigger failure. That I’m ruining his upbringing. Time and time again I see my own problems buried in him and try to figure out how to help him with them before they become to defining.

I moved back to Pittsburgh. For a while I was 3 miles to the tenth from the house where my sister and her mother live. I haven’t seen them since I have moved back to the city 7 years ago. There are times when it is hard. I remember my mother always keeping me away from my father’s side of the family. She never had a nice word for any of them. I’ve always wished I was closer. I’m not. I barely know them. Facebook helps a little. I find myself wondering if I am doing the same disservice to Aiden giving him only one grandmother.

My sister routinely comments on my public facebook posts. Usually it’s not relevant but more a demand or plea that I just forgive and move on. How I’m horrible for not responding to family. How much dad would have wanted us to move on. I don’t know if I’m waiting to see if she’s actually apologize for anything she’s done (there has never been one) or if I’m just so numb to it all living in the fear that getting close will only open wounds that will hurt me again.

So why now. Why am I reposting this for friends.

About 2 weeks ago she made yet another one of the unrelated comments. This one was a notification that her mother has been diagnosed with Leukemia.

Everyone who’s already thought, “Well, she’s still your mother” has obviously gotten to this point by the TL;DR method. Those that have read and still don’t know why this situation isn’t anything beyond a no brainer haven’t realized that the above is only a snapshot of 50 years.

I don’t know. I honestly don’t know. All I know is that I can still believe that I am a terrible person who is no better than his father. I don’t know if this is a true report or not. All I know is that every fiber in my system is fighting against having my strings pulled. And it feels wrong no matter what.

3D Character and Thinking , He is standing with question mark

3D Character and Thinking , He is standing with question mark

At the time of the writing my son is 9 1/2 years old. Like other children his age, he has certain infatuations. In his case things like Lego, Minecraft, and some TV shows and movies. It is the style of infatuation where we have to talk him down out of every toy and every piece of software and add-on that could be bought for his addiction. (We do not believe in “spoiling” the child)

Things are currently financially tight in the household; so gifts and the like are much further apart and cheaper than we’d like. So to remedy this, gifts are done with proper buildup to make the end gift more valuable. Mutating a gift for someone is great fun.

As a child my mother loved Bailey’s. In college I got her a birthday gift. There was no way I could afford a huge tin of Bailey’s for her. So I got a tin, bought a mini, and packed it in there. I presented it wrapped with the statement “I can’t really afford a great gift as a college student, but I saved up what I got for at least a little something I know you’d like.” She unwrapped the tin and was agog. “You said something little!” She opened the tin and saw the mini. I said “Yup.” My dad lost it. My mom… not so entertained.

Other gifts have been boxes that I have pretended that were heavy to give my wife and iPad. A box with holes cut out to give my girlfriend a stuffed grumpy cat. And a box wrapped like Matrushka dolls to give a nice gift card.

So, I found an inexpensive gift online that I knew my son would loooooove. (< $15 with shipping)

But I didn’t want to just give it to him (and it was going to take about a week to get there. So I decided I would do it as a quest. A series of steps along the way where he’d need to complete one to get to the next one. At the end he’d get the gift as a prize and a really awesome feeling (at least… that’s the plan)

To be honest, we are going to be moving soon; however, we seem to have had the holiday tree up and down in a very organised fashion this year. Well, organised discounting the decoration boxes around. We got the tree around the 15th or so and brought it and most of the lights down on the 2nd.

Outside the back of our house is Riverview Park. It’s also a fairly steep drop into the park. Since we remove all the decorations from a natural tree; we always cast the tree into the woods down the hill from our house. It’s a nice “Return to nature”/”Circle of Life” gesture.

So, we removed the decorations. I had my son put the dropped branches and needles into a bag. We carried the tree to the back of the house and I tossed it down the hill. Before I tossed it, we pointed out where last year’s tree was. We could see that parts of it were still there and parts had begun to wear down and return to the Earth.

Amusingly, when I threw this year’s tree it bounced and landed right on top of the previous year’s tree like a long forgotten lover. My son asked why we didn’t just throw it out. I told him that the tree came from the ground and by giving it back to the ground new trees would come. And tried to explain the “Circle of Life” concept.

He took the remaining branches out of the back and threw them down the hill into the woods. I told him he could yell, “Back to Earth” as he threw them. This made him very happy. I told him by giving to the Earth it would be our way of saying Winter will give way to Spring and the days will get longer and soon we will see all the trees green again.

He seemed to understand this and it made me very happy.

The concept of religion is a very complex (and personal) thing in our household; so it was nice to be able to give our son a grounding in a love and respect of nature while not miring him in too much dogma.

Happy holidays and happy new year to all. May this new year as always exceed the past and give way to even better tomorrows.

From the hearts

Today has been a non-stop ride. Both figuratively and literally. This post is going to try in vain to not be entirely stream of consciousness as it was the result of a series of realizations. The realization was the result of what was a split second of panic that lasted about 10 minutes.

Today I am flying from Pittsburgh to San Jose. Tomorrow I visit “[NICKNAME]”, “[NICKNAME]”, “[NICKNAME]”, “[OLD-NICKNAME]. I am traveling to [REDACTED]. Before you wonder if I’ve already said too much…[REDACTED]. However, that’s all I’m saying about that. The trip however, is one of those trips you only get when trying to get the cheapest flight on short notice. This is a THREE leg flight. I started in Pgh, Flew to DC. Had a 3 hour layover. Discovered my flight from DC to Phoenix would be late. And then knew I had a VERY SHORT change between Phoenix and San Jose. As it turned out; the way things were supposed to play out was that I would be landing at A2 in Phoenix. Would have 20 minutes to get to A28, which was one terminal corridor over. It wouldn’t be fun; but I’d make it.

The DC-Phoenix flight was the long leg. 4hrs. At first my single serving friend was a mid to late 20’s woman named Justine. She was interviewing in DC and had flown out yesterday from SF and was flying back today. And I thought my 3 day flight was bad. We commented that she had the window, I had the aisle and maybe we’d luck out. Justine and I chatted a little. i’m an extravert; she was very nice and I hate spending 4 hrs staring at an iDevice. The Chris arrived. Chris was a 25 yr old Korean grad student. T-Shirt, Jeans, Sandals. I commented to Justine that inevitably someone would have to come between us. You can fly 10-15 times. A Single-Serving-Friend like Chris is about 1 in 100. There was endless talking, accidental footsies only one or two awkward moments. (I was 18 when she was born, and my limit is 28) But she was great fun to kill 4 hrs with and I hope to chat again at sometime.

4 hours later… It was obvious my delayed flight was not making up time. I set a timer for 10 minutes before the flight time. That’s when US Airways closes the door unless there’s been an actual delay. We hit the tarmac with 12 minutes on my timer. I checked my flight tracker. We were pulling into gate A29 not A2. Hey that’s the next gate over! Yay. And my flight… has been.. moved… to … B28. Picture 4 equally spaced columns. Each of those is a terminal hallway. Picture a line connecting the base of those columns and each column is one column height apart. I now had to run down the length of column 1, across to column 4 and up its length. I had 7 minutes to do this. I pushed thru first class saying, “Sorry, 6 minute connection far end of the airport.” One guy in 1st class blocked my exit and said, “So, what?” I pushed by him saying, “Really?” and then “You know first class isn’t supposed to turn you into an asshole” and started my run.

I am out of shape. I will be honest about this. I think I could stand to lose 50#. In my graduate school years (circa age 25) I was 141 pounds. (Not healthy).. nearly 20 years later I am 240. That’s about 5 pounds a year of not fit. I often feel like the shame of my company. We work in fitness and I look like I don’t even use the product. (Mind you.. I do. Just not as well as I could)… in the airport…Yes.. there was moving walkways. I had several out of breath conversations with them. The gate staff where I got off my late flight tried to call ahead to the gate staff at my departing flight. I hit B16 (The last column) and heard that my flight had been moved… to B-24. Okay… 1/4 corridor closer. A 43 year old, nigh 250# man, with a backpack and a CPAP running up a hallway. At B18 I heard. Flight 285 for San Jose, Gate B24 – Final Boarding call” My timer clicked off and played the “Amen Break” I asked a worker if he could run and tell them I was coming and he just sort of looked at me and walked on. I hit B20 and stopped. In probably my strongest Radio voice (which was amazing considering the wheezing by this point) I boomed, “Attention: B24, Passenger currently running at B20, HOLD THE DOOR.” The looks from everyone at the B20 Gordon Biersch will be long remembered. 5 minutes after the doors should have been closed. I was on the jetway.

I felt like I was going to die. My legs were on fire. Every breath was pained. I was dizzy and stumbling in the jetway. I think my knees almost buckled once. The Flight attendant looked at me and said, “Are you okay?” I looked at him and honestly said, “No” He made me stay at the front of the plane while he got me water. He said, “We really don’t want you passing out.” I said, “Too much paperwork.” He said, “No, I really would hate to see someone pass out.” They helped me to my seat. I was so shaky that I spilled some of my water on the nice English woman in the seat in front of me and her iPad. She was very gracious. (We’re English. That’s what we do) The other flight attendant brought me a wet paper town and a dry one. I just sat there trying to get my breath.

The occasional uncomfortable cough, the tightness of the lungs. The legs wanting to be removed. I logged in long enough to tell the universe I made the flight and comment that I wanted to die. (Figurative) There was a message from the person I know in Phoenix who I’d put a “If I don’t make my flight can you help” message out to. She wasn’t going to be able to help. Fortunately, I didn’t need to call on her. My mind swam around that. I really thought about this person and our history. How our lives had been, the friendship/relationship we’d had. The way our lives drifted apart. I found myself really missing her as a friend in my life. I hope at some point I can sit down even by phone and just have a good long talk with her. I hope that time and some of the unfortunate things that have happened in our past have not ruined what was a great friendship.

I gasped some more thinking about the things I would change in my history. Not necessarily with this friend but in general. I got myself thinking about the idea of one phone call that could completely change my life. And that was easy. Calling my dad in 1973. He’d left the army, was a prominent doctor at a hospital, clinic, prison, and private practice. If I could call him and tell him everything he would lose within 5 years when he’d have a stroke before the age of 40. Everything he’d worked for would be lost. Entirely. I thought about telling him how I was his 5 yr old son, calling from the future. Telling him how he’d never be able to play the banjo again, or do card and coin magic. How his job and license would be lost. Because he didn’t prepare. He didn’t think ahead.

And the more I thought about change. The more a voice said to me… what would you change? And I saw my family. The people I see everyday now. I thought of my wife who I love more every day. I thought of my girlfriend who I care for more deeply than I’ve been able to show of late. Several long and short term lovers around the country. Being Poly (in my mind) means you don’t just kick feelings away. I realize that I still love the people I’ve loved; Even the unrequited ones who never loved me back. They are my feelings and they don’t lessen just because you don’t reciprocate. I just don’t act on them. It doesn’t make me love the people close to me any less. And there was one person who stood above the rest. The only person of my own gender that I’ve ever truly loved.

My five year old. Aiden. He drives me insane, He makes me laugh, He makes me want to put my head thru a wall. He makes me proud. He makes me feel like I’ve already failed as a father and I’ve screwed him up for life. And I would not change one bad moment in my history at all if it had any chance of undoing the cosmic miracle that my wife and I created by making him.

I was still on the imaginary time-traveling phone with my father when the voice changed. It wasn’t me saying Dad anymore. It was Aiden. “All these things you’re saying to him. It’s me. I’m saying them to you. Don’t make the same mistake. There’s still time.” I was still trying to catch my breath. I’m sitting here contemplating my history, my future, and I’m feeling like I’m looking at my life. “I am not dying.” I don’t want to die. I don’t want to get sick. I want to be healthy. I want to see my great-grandchildren the same way my wife’s grandmother has.

I’ve had this thought many times. I have to get healthy. I got a membership to a gym about 7 months ago. Which I have yet to actually go to. I try exercises in the morning for a day or two about once every year and a half. I need to make it right. I have no clue how. I haven’t had a lot of success trying. But I can’t keep living like this waiting to get to unhealthy that it is too late. I choose to believe that my future-Aiden’s voice in my head is right and it ‘s not too late.

I have been touched by so many lives. I hope to have touched many lives (hopefully it was a good touch)…

I made my flight. I want to make my life again.

The best words in a film from the past 5 years are from “Wall-E”

“I don’t want to survive. I want to live.”

Dedicated to (In order)
KMMAHJDBRHMLLEJCJASBTHBDCJNCCC
My wonderful “K” and my loving partner Heather and the most important thing in the world to me: Aiden.

9:30pm Eastern Time


Him: must be put the boy down time…

Me: Ayup… Or more accurately, boy is just down time

Him: Still not going to sleep at the snap of your fingers? 😉

Me: Nope. Surprisingly not

We’ve tried water, music, potty….

(I pause)

Chloroform gave surprisingly good results; but friends said it wasn’t sustainable without damaging the child

Him: yes, Benadryl is more socially acceptable

He is a colleague from a job that I became very good friends with. He now has a 2 yr old & 6 mo old. This is to give perspective to my nearly 4 year old. Actually the conversation continued:

Me: How old are the kids now?

Him: 2.0833 today and 6 months

Me: LOL. Geek

Him: 6.0137 for (The girl) :-)

Me: Hang on
(I find a calculator)
Aiden is 3.981

The picture for this post was sent to me after my boy was born by another colleague and friend who had two (young) teenage daughters. At the time (just after my child’s birth) I found ZERO humour in the picture. My boy is 4 now… Picture ain’t bugging me as much as it used to. :-O