Life can be serious business.

Absorbing The Past, In The Present.

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As I sit here, on my last day of vacation, I have so much to absorb and reflect on. This wasn’t a “normal” vacation. This was life changing. I’ve experienced being around people that I am connected to not only by blood, but by unfortunate circumstances as well. The death of my uncle, my cousin’s father, and the death of my own mother, has created a bond that is palpable. It’s not only the passing of our parents, but the amount of unknown that surrounds their lives as well.

I had the chance to visit my grandfather’s home, where his widowed wife (not my grandmother, unfortunately she is gone too) still lives. My siblings and cousins hold fond memories of this place; however, I have none. My sister was with me and was shocked at how much of the house remains as it did when she was a child. I walked in to the room that belonged to my mother, adorned with the same wallpaper she looked at as a child, and became incredibly overwhelmed – not only by her presence, but also by the questions that began burning in my brain. I prayed that the walls would begin talking.

Looking in the back yard, I wondered, did she and her brothers climb the trees? Did they ride their bikes in this neighborhood? What the fuck went wrong here? How did a family crumble within these walls and why? There is so much I don’t know. The air was thick and heavy with sadness. I’d like to say I felt content just being in the space where she was, but I didn’t. If anything, it caused the fire in me to know more, to burn even hotter.

Fortunately, while there, we were given many items that belonged to my grandfather, including a binder full of letters and many photo albums. I can’t wait to dig in to those letters. My cousins nor I have much, if anything, that belonged to our parents. While rummaging through one of the boxes, one of my cousins found a letter that her father wrote. Words were not necessary to explain her tears. The connection of just holding something that her father once held is understood. I’m praying that somewhere in that stack of letters, I find my Mother’s handwriting.

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My cousin Serina and I have shared many late night talks. It’s uncanny how much our thoughts and personalities reflect each other. It’s been therapeutic to be here. I’m not even sure that particular word describes how I am feeling right now. I’m hoping to process it all a little better on the very long drive home and in the days that follow.

For now, I’m grateful.

I have lots of comments and blogs to catch up on when I get home. Not to mention the overflow of my own stories to write about. I need to purge all that I am feeling and that is best done with a “pen”. Thank you to all that have dug in to my archives while I’ve stepped back from writing anything new. As always, you’re reads, shares and feedback is so very appreciated. And guess what, I’m about to reach a pretty damn awesome milestone… I’m only two followers away from 1,000 right now. I can’t even begin to tell you what that feels like.

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I’ve enjoyed myself immensely while here. Reuniting with family and watching my little ones get to know their cousins has been amazing. All good things must come to an end and this adventure will be over at 6am tomorrow morning, as we pack up the car and drive away. Although we live on separate ends of the country, our hearts will remain close.

Much love to my family. And thank you Serina, Justin and Patti (the greatest big sis a girl could ever ask for). This trip wouldn’t have been possible without you.

This is such an accurate picture of who we are! Had to share :)
This is such an accurate picture of who we are! Had to share 🙂

 

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Don't take life too serious.

We Were Set Up By Two Dead People.

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Definitely up to no good.

They conspired to set us up. My Mother and her brother, who are both deceased, intervened, worked some sort of “other side” magic, and changed our lives forever.

To understand the impact of this story, I need to tell you just a little slice of my family history, involving myself and my cousin, Serina.

Serina’s father was my Mother’s brother. They both left us way too early – my Mother to cancer when I was 15 and her father to suicide when she was 8. Heavy stuff.

We didn’t grow up with each other, with the exception of when I was about 2 yrs old. I was removed from my parents care and thankfully, my aunt and uncle took me in. I only lived there for a little over a year, before my oldest sister (she’s 14 yrs older than me) moved me in with her and her husband.

Serina and I only saw each other on two other occasions after I left her home. The first time, we were around the age of 10. I remember vividly, stuffing little pieces of paper in to the holes on top of the cassette tape, so that she and I could record ourselves talking and singing. I still chuckle, every time I hear, “Got a little change in my pocket goin’ jinga linga ling” on the radio because for some strange reason, that was one of our songs of choice.

Serina and I circa '98
Serina and I circa ’98

The only other time, was when my grandfather died. We were around 18. We clicked instantly again. People might have thought we were best friends or perhaps sisters because we look so freakishly alike. From there, we lost contact again. She lived in Florida and I in New York. There was just too much space and time in between us.

And then there was MySpace. It was 2006 and I was jumping on the virtual bandwagon. One day I came across my cousin, Serina. Awesome! We chatted it up and were stoked about being able to keep in closer contact. Then a few weeks later, she responded to one of my posts about getting married in Jamaica.

Turns out, she was getting married in Jamaica! TWO DAYS after I was. It gets better. We were at the same freakin’ resort! How does that happen?? Of all the tropical places to go and of all the resorts to choose from, we end up at the same place, at the same time — both for a runaway wedding/honeymoon. Unbelievable.

Reunited in Jamaica.
Reunited in Jamaica.

We couldn’t believe this to be a coincidence. We never will. Some may say I’m crazy but I truly believe our parents brought us together. They knew how much we needed each other in our lives, because of their absence.

Serina still lives in Florida and I in New York. We have talked on the phone at least once a month (usually once a week) since we met up in Jamaica, six years ago. I honestly don’t know what I would do with out her phone therapy, small talk and big laugh.

We get each other because we know where we come from. We both battle with depression and anxiety and a family history that is a huge part of all that. Even though our lives have played out far apart from each other, they are incredibly parallel.

And so…I’m going on another road trip people! It will look much, much different than my drive across- country with my girlfriends. This time, I will be driving from New York to Florida with my sister, her adult daughter and my two young kids. Shit’s about to get real.

I can’t wait. The drive has me nervous but it’s worth it for the chance to visit Serina and her family. This is not just any cousin. This girl — was put in my life by no accident. Us reuniting, strickly “by chance”, confirmed my belief that sometimes, “someone else” is tugging a little on our strings from above. Be it God, our deceased loved ones…I don’t know, but it happened people. And I am so grateful it did!

Have you ever been reconnected with someone or had something happen in your life, that made you question your ideas on fate? Do you have any suggestions on how to survive a two day (22 hr total!) road trip with a 5 yr old and almost 2 yrs old!!!!!

Momma has lost her mind.

“I Will Never Drive A Minivan”…Said Every Woman In Her 20’s.

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It seems like the ideas that I am most resistant to, or fight the hardest against, become the most significant moments and events in my life.  “I will never” … “That’s not me” … “I will always”, are a few of the absolutes that I am trying to say less, or at least pay more attention to, when I do say them.  I’ve seen something happening with these type statements.  It’s my absolutes that always come back around, have me eating my own words and re-thinking everything.

Once parenthood really set in for me, I became one of those Moms that openly admitted I could never be a SAHM.  I can remember commenting that I would gladly donate a third of my pay to daycare.  Don’t judge…I know it sounds awful, but it’s the truth and pertains to how absolute I was about the idea.

Then I had my son. Something very difficult very odd started happening.  As my three month maternity leave began to come to an end, I started to realize how much I did not want to go back to work.  I knew I struggled with this after having my daughter, so I tried to shake it off and focus on the upcoming transition.

The idea of staying home became like a constant theme in my head.  I started to see how the days of the last three months could become my every day.  More of my absolutes – “I will always have my own money”, “I will never depend on another person to take care of me” – started to matter less and less.  I started to feel somewhat at ease with the idea, but still there was this overwhelming doubt because “that’s not me”.

I handed in my resignation the day I returned to work. A month later, I entered a world I never imagined would become my world.

I had no real explanation for this change of heart or new direction I was headed in.  I was, and still am, as surprised as those around me.  However, I felt a pull strong enough not to ignore.  I think for one of the first times in my life I threw out my “map”, trusted my gut and just let life happen.  I had a difficult time recognizing and admitting that something needed to give in my life.  My focus needed to change.  My heart led me to focus on my children.  Little did I know, it would be my children, who put the focus on me.

How many women do you know that said, “I will never drive a minivan”, and are now cruising around in a total Mom-mobile? Have you ever had an “absolute” feeling about something, and then life throws it back in your face…for better or worse?

Momma has lost her mind.

Being broke: The sacrifice most stay at home Moms only complain about to their best friend.

Recently, I have been seriously considering going back in to the workforce. I don’t simply say, “go back to work” because believe me, as a stay at home Mom, I already work 24-7.  I just don’t receive a paycheck for it.  I gave up a pretty healthy pay check in order to stay at home with the kids.  I know it may sound selfish to focus on what I gave up but what a Mother and her children gain is talked about over and over again.  What we lose isn’t because we feel guilty.  So for this post, I have flipped guilt the middle finger.

I have a love/hate relationship with Thursdays.  Thursdays are pay day.  When the bills that absolutely have to be paid are paid, I stare at what’s left and get that “I fucking hate this” feeling in my stomach.   I wonder on a daily basis where has my mind gone and what the hell did we do with that second income!!!!???  We get by and have what we need (most of time) but oh my God what a struggle financially it has been.  I’ve always shopped sales, never been a total “brand name” kind of girl and my husband and I have always lived within our means but damn…this is tough.

I didn’t know it was even possible to feed a family of four with $60 for a week until now.  My closest friends (and now all of you) know that if you drive by my house and the truck isn’t parked on the hill that is our driveway and instead on the flat spot further away from the house, that the gas light came on and we are simply out of cash but have to make it JUST ONE MORE DAY.  My dogs had hot pockets mixed with cheerios for breakfast yesterday because we were out of dog food and it was a day shy of pay day.  True story.  I have more than once gone to the change jar to dig out lunch money for my daughter.  Hand me downs have become a necessity.  Left overs are something I plan for now.  Ordering a pizza is a luxury and only happens maybe once every few months.  I put another hole in my belt so I can keep my pants up because buying new ones that fit my now skinny ass (the ONE good thing about constantly chasing a rambunctious little boy) is not an option.  The stairs and wood stove are barricaded with chairs and whatever else we can figure out to use because baby gates are just too damn expensive.  After having your second child, and when you’re broke, you realize baby proofing is slightly over rated anyway. I turn lights and electronics off more often now not because I’m being environmentally conscious, but because all I see is dollar signs when they have been left on.  I need alone time when I look at the weekly grocery flyers and cut my coupons because the running tab and meal planning that is gong on in my head at the same time is serious business.

When we crunched numbers to figure out if me staying home was even an option , we had no idea how every penny we would and would not have would count.  We didn’t factor in new tires and other maintenance for the vehicles that you simply cannot ignore, doctor co-pays and medical bills, kids THAT NEVER STOP EATING, light bulbs that blow, birthday parties/gifts, surprise dental work, a dog that would almost die from a mysterious illness and the vet bills that came along with that, hair cuts, gas money  ….the list goes on and on and on.  You really cannot plan for what life costs and believe me, the saying “shit happens” has become a mantra in  this household.  My credit card has been used way more than I would like and I don’t mean for luxuries….I mean like when I’m at the grocery store checking out and realize my running tally on how much I was spending was off and I have spent more than I have.  And while I’m on the subject of the grocery store (a.k.a. enemy number one), let me tell you how much (some) generic brands really suck and how I feel like such a douche bag when I have to say, “no we will buy this kind because it’s cheaper and it taste the same” to both my four year old and my husband when I know damn well REAL fruit loops kick “fruit rounds” ass!.  I used to horde food and household items. If we were low on something, I bought more and probably two more if it was on sale.  Now I squeeze the toothpaste tube against the sink counter until it is physically impossible for more to come out and add a little water to the hand soap to stretch it one or two more days.  It’s comical the things I do to get my family through week to week.  My husband and I have literally cracked up laughing (while drinking cheap wine) at how ghetto fabulous our life is now.

Having said all that…I will tell you that the stress and frustration that comes along with being broke all the time is no laughing matter.  I fucking hate it.  So much so that it is definitely worthy of dropping the f bomb.  I can’t stand robbing Peter to pay Paul and quite frankly I’m sick of cooking every night.  Here comes the selfish part but I won’t apologize for it.  I hate that I can’t buy things that make my life easier or more convenient and comfortable anymore.  I mean stupid things like Clorox wipes or going to the chiropractor.  I hate that I carry around a purse that has visible tears all over it.  It annoys me that I felt guilty for buying myself new underwear last week.  Until then I seriously some how convinced myself that folding down my preggo granny panties and pre baby (I was almost 30lbs heavier) undies was “just fine”.   I just want to go to dinner with friends and not regret it when the credit card bill comes in.  I HATE THAT I BUY GENERIC CEREAL AND MAYONAISE!!!  I miss K CUPS…who likes to brew a whole freakin’ pot when all I want is one damn cup of coffee.  I’m pissed off that there is an unfinished project in EVERY room of my house.  SCREW YOU twenty somethings on house hunters with your $450,000 budgets…WHY do I keep watching that damn show! I HATE that my husband works so hard and makes more money than he ever has but we are worse off financially than ever before.  And even though I know he isn’t complaining, I hate that the only thing I can give him for his birthday is some homemade brownies.  I miss getting pedicures.  It annoys the shit out of me that I have all this time with my kids but no money to go anywhere or do anything.  I miss having highlights in my hair.  I can’t even afford the damn box kind WITH a coupon.  I hate that I have to factor in whether or not I have gas money.  I wish I could buy my daughter pretty things when we go to the store like I used to but I can’t now because that would mean I can’t buy something we need like milk or butter.  SHIT I miss money.  I was kind of spoiled I will admit it…but I could be.  I worked hard to be.  Now I work even harder and live pay check to pay check.  And quite honestly, I kind of want all that back.  Does that make me shallow.  Maybe.  But at least I’m honest.

Look, I do honestly enjoy going to the library or playground or playing in the backyard with my kids.  And most days I could care less that I can pull my pants down without unbuttoning them.  However, the constant stress of paying bills past the due date and having to put goals on hold like owning furniture that your not embarrassed to let your guests sit on or buying a house so your son and daughter don’t have to share a room really wears on you.

So I am back to my original thought … to go back to work or not??  Since having kids, I’ve been on both sides of the fence having worked and now not working but that somehow does not make this decision any easier.  And there are definitely other factors that will play in to figuring this all out but I’ll save that for another post because really, money is a huge part of it.  It’s easy to say “money is just money” …until you are seriously concerned the last sheet of toilet paper will get here before pay day.

Don't take life too serious.

Exposed.

Within the past five years, my life has changed quite drastically.  I’ve gotten married, gave birth to two beautiful babies, bought a house, started a career and put a career on hold to raise those babies.  On paper it sounds like all the “right” steps to happiness and fulfillment.  Well let me tell you…that is crap.  Not to say that I am not proud or happy to be where I am in my life right now because I am.  I know what it means to be grateful and I am.  But the truth is, somewhere along the way, I got lost.

I can tell you for sure what made me happy at 10, 18 and 25 but now I am really just not sure.  I could give the typical and truthful answers like my kids, new shoes, a good hair day but outside of objects and other people…I’m clueless.   I’m 32 years old and don’t fool myself in to thinking that I should have it all figured out yet but dammit making simple choices for myself shouldn’t be so hard! I drive myself crazy really.  My lack of confidence exhausts me.

I admit that I have no idea how I have made it this far.  I seem to have a lot of people fooled in regards to my own ability to function because I’ve heard myself described as “strong” and “independent” . I feel as though I CAN be those two things but as a whole I’m not.  I’m kind of  mess lately.  I crave to be alone but find it to be the most difficult place to be at the same time.  I think I surround myself with insightful music so I can steal the thought provoking lyrics of others and use them as my own. I constantly feel the need for validation of my own thoughts and actions and then get pissed off because I asked for it and didn’t get the answer or response I wanted.  So why ask, right?…I don’t know.

Don’t get me wrong, I am able to recognize that I’ve worked hard to get where I am in life.  The shit storm that was my childhood and the losses I’ve endured haven’t made it easy; however, I have no idea how I’ve made it this far.  I say that laughing because it truly baffles me.  I can and have professionally managed other’s lives so that they are more successful at literally living but can’t even make simple decisions when it comes to my own wants, needs and desires.

As an official 30 something, I have plenty of labels I can describe myself with i.e. Mother, wife, sister, friend….but no words that I feel comfortable using to introduce my true self.  I don’t think I am alone here; hence, the blog I am now sharing.  I think a lot of moms, wives, women can relate to feeling lost and frustrated.  I’ve been to therapy. I’ve taken anti-depressants.  I’ve read self help and discovery books.  I’ve had spa days.  I’ve tried fake it till you make it.  I’ve tried being the working mother.  I’ve tried being the stay at home mom.  I’ve tried so many things to put myself in a better place mentally and even though I’ve learned from each venture, none have calmed my nerves.

The one thing that I do know is that I always feel better when I’m putting thoughts on paper.  It’s like a validation of myself when I see it in print.  I don’t know why but I have a nagging in my head to constantly record my thoughts.  I’m a list girl.  They are everywhere in my house.  That also extends to journaling.  I’ve kept some form of a journal since I was about 7 years old.  So recently when I asked myself (for the gazillionth time) “what is it that I enjoy doing”…I finally realized I had been doing it all along.  I just never realized it.

It’s incredibly frustrating that what I have been doing since I was a very young girl has eluded me as a way to move forward with my own thoughts, past the bullshit baggage I seem to always carry with me and through the current anxiety about life I’m having.

So…here I am.  Maybe yelling from the world wide roof top will make me vulnerable enough to let go and enjoy the ride.  I have so much to say and quite honestly can’t wait to really get started.  Hopefully along the way I strike a nerve for a few others.  So my plan is this…be brutally honest.  About everything…past, present and future.  And hopefully, this purging of self reflections and thoughts about the goings on in my crazy head and crazy life will help soothe my soul and connect to others that are at a similar place in their own lives.