Early Friday morning
are huddled beneath the covers in my big bed. Kyle is in his crib;
Courtney, the baby that I take care of five days a week, is in the
playpen in the girls' room. All four of them are sound asleep - or they
were, the last time I checked. I get up very early these days; it isn't
quite 7 a.m. yet but I've already been up for an hour. From my armchair
here in the living room, I can look out across the courtyard of the
apartment complex, to the section of apartments parallel to mine - the
"D" building - and to the early morning sky, a sea of dark rolling
clouds. I feel quite peaceful at the moment. We've lived here for
almost a month and half, and this has been the prevailing emotion:
have experienced great peace of mind and spirit
since we've been here.
like I have a
night. He wanted to talk to the girls, and to let me know he won't be
coming to visit this weekend. ("I'm
too broke," he said.) I was
enormously relieved but tried not to let on to the girls, since they
were disappointed. I feel a
storm brewing here. What is going to happen when I finally scrape up
the nerve to divorce Ray? This is the biggest headache I've got right
now ... the flaw in my peaceful frame of mind. Ray
picking up on any of my none-too-subtle hints, and Jamie and Kacie
still seem to believe that we'll all be back together again
someday. What a mess. Wait till I drop the bomb on all of
Kyle kept me
awake for two hours this morning, from 2 a.m. till 4 a.m. He has two
major nighttime waking patterns: he either sleeps in two-hour stretches
all night long, waking for fifteen or twenty minutes and then dropping
back to sleep, or else he wakes up just once but then stays awake
forever. The latter is definitely the worst. NOTHING puts him back to
sleep ... he wants to stand on my lap and "play" until dawn. The little
He is moving
around pretty well these days, considering
the fact that he still hasn't started using his hands and knees in a
legitimate crawl. Well, he does
use his knees, but he
doesn't pick them up very far. Actually, it's difficult to describe
the way he moves around, because frankly I've never seen anything
like it. I guess you could say he drags himself around by the
arms, like a little baby salamander. He's very strong and
things about my
can sit now, unsupported, for thirty seconds or so. He sits
well in the walker, the wind-up swing (Kelly in A-16 gave that to us)
and the highchair. He eats virtually anything except baby cereal, which
he steadfastly refuses. He especially loves chunks of apple, arrowroot
cookies and - of course - bananas, every baby's favorite. He drinks
whole or 2% milk now and likes it fine as long as it's not lukewarm.
says this funny
that sounds amazingly like "HOT dog!" that I just love. (He says it a
lot when he's holding his bottle, which makes me wonder if perhaps he's
'naming' a familiar and beloved object ...?) When he wants my
attention, especially if I'm inadvertently ignoring him, he goes "Mmmmmmmm! Mmmmmmmm!"
attempts at communicating with me?
still calling him
all the time, which I'm afraid is probably destined to be a lifelong
nickname. He already responds to "Henry" more often than he does to
"Kyle." In really awful moments, I actually call him "Hen" ... !!
put a color crayon in
think his favorite
the entire world is standing up. He won't sit on my lap anymore: right
away he begins to squirm around and try to pull himself up, and if I
don't help him stand up, he shrieks in annoyance until I do. Once he's
standing, he likes to grab at my face, my hair and my jewelry, or else
he stands there and blows happy little raspberries at me.
child is very
Mama's boy. His love for me is unwavering and singleminded. I must
confess - this is hardly a secret, anyway - that the feeling is mutual.
Entirely. I am besotted with my adorable son. I love his little body,
his funny faces, his personality, his throaty laugh, his energy, his
strength, his sense of humor ... I love all his silly hair, sticking
out all over his head ... I love the expressions on his face,
especially when he catches my eye from across the room, or when he
wakes up in the morning and peers out at me from his crib ...
This was my first serious attempt at
November 17, 1986
is laying on the
my feet (wearing a diaper and a T-shirt that says "Somebody in Tucson
loves me"), earnestly playing with one of the toys left over from
Kacie's babyhood ... now he has rolled over onto his back and is gazing
up at me, upside down ... I smile at him and say "Hi Henry!," and he
grins, sticks out his tongue, pushes his fat tummy up into the air a
couple of times ...
80th birthday, so I took the kids over to her house for cake and ice
cream with an assortment of relatives (Uncle Paul, Aunt Elva, Mom, Dad
& Valerie, Irene & Kurt, old family friends Tony
Other than that, our weekend was markedly uneventful. It was a relief
not to have Ray here, and the only babysitting I had to do was three
hours' worth of Little Tony on Saturday afternoon. I cleaned the
apartment, read a Stephen King novel ("The Long Walk"), played with the
baby, watched TV, talked on the phone ... a nice, normal, peaceful
weekend. This morning I feel rested and fresh and filled with
possibilities. Life is truly becoming enjoyable once again.
Me with the Tots at Grandma's 80th birthday party
The girls 'helping' their great-grandma open her birthday gifts
and trying to steer clear of alcohol completely, and this has been
helping. I don't think I've lost any measurable amount of weight yet,
but my mind is clear, and I have that good feeling of being on the
right track for a change ...
almost scares me to
this good. I'm afraid that if I relax and start to enjoy it, something
disastrous will hit me out of the blue and spoil things again ... )
don't even miss having
a man in my life. This has been the biggest surprise of all, to me. All
my life I have revolved around one man or another, beginning
with Daddy and progressing through countless boyfriends right up to
Ray. Whenever I was not in a relationship, I was actively seeking one.
I did not feel 'whole' unless I was involved with someone. So it
surprises me now to realize that I couldn't care less about being
"attached." I suppose that may be because, technically, I AM still
attached to someone - I'm still married to Ray - but the truth is that
I feel less and less married to him, with each passing day. Rather, I
think that my lack of concern over my single condition is (I hope) a
sign of growth. I am very content with things just the way they are. I
don't even think about it, really. There isn't that constant obsessive
longing to be part of a couple ... no craving for male approval or
attention ... I am on hiatus, and it is neither as scary nor as lonely
as I always assumed it would be.
just being with
I suppose that if I didn't have the three of them, I really WOULD be
lonely. Maybe they are filling up some of the places in my heart that I
usually try to fill with a man: they get my full love and attention and
devotion, and in return I get from them companionship, love,
validation, approval, a sense of purpose, a rich sense of "family." I
don't see anything wrong with this ... for
try not to become one of those mothers whose entire world revolves
around her children. Eventually I'm sure I'll be back out in the world
again, and hopefully I'll begin to care about male companionship -
maybe I'll even get married again!!?! - and there will be that balance
again between adults and children in my life: it won't be all one or
all the other. But right now Jamie, Kacie and Kyle are the loves of my
life. I am focused on them, and on myself, and on our life together.
There is no time or desire for a man right now.
Pugick Power lady, and I'm here to shut off your 'lectricity for six
WISH I had
an orange right now. I WISH."
Kacie (3) and
(nearly 5) at Grandma Beeson's house
November 20, 1986
down rain. The
is warm and cozy: Jamie, Kacie and Little Tony are settled in front of
the TV watching cartoons ... Kyle is laying on the floor next to them,
playing with my calculator and kicking his legs. Courtney is asleep.
(All children present and accounted for.)
want to come stay with us this weekend? How do I prevent it? Do I wait
until after Christmas to spring the divorce on him, or should I get it
over with now? On the phone or in person ... ?
kind of Christmas
going to have this year? Will I be able to provide for the kids, all by
losing any weight
November 23, 1986
to work up some
the entire apartment is a mess, and I'd like to take advantage of this
"unencumbered" day (no Courtney, no Little Tony) to put everything to
rights. How strange - how lovely! - to be concerned with "normal"
things again, like housework and laundry, after all the drama of the
past couple of months ...
odds and ends of
share briefly before I tackle the apartment.
married to Ray's older sister Patty) has suffered a major heart attack
and is in critical condition in a Tucson hospital. Judy called last
night and broke the news. We're very worried. I like John a
and I had a very
phone conversation on Thursday night. He announced that he was coming
down for the weekend, and I said "No, please don't." At first I gave
him a lot of vague excuses about how I was tired from a long week of
babysitting, and how I just wanted one nice, quiet weekend all to
myself. He got huffy and said something about his "right" to
here. I tried one more time to be tactful and sensitive: I said, "Ray, you will
always be the kids'
I'll always be your
HUSBAND!" he sputtered indignantly.
where I threw
the window. "Ray, I consider us to be separated," I said.
shrieked, as though this was the first he was hearing about the
separation - which it wasn't, as we all know - and a few minutes later
he hung up on me, all hurt and angry. It annoyed me beyond belief. He
is making this so hard. Why can't he just open his eyes and see what's
really going on here? I LEFT the guy! I packed my things,
the kids and MOVED. What further proof does he need?? Our marriage may
technically still exist, but we ARE separated ...
heart and head, in the eyes of the world, in every way that
counts. I'm not calling him day and night, begging him to be
with me: just the opposite, actually. I've never once said
plan for us to be reunited at any time in the future. Wouldn't that
indicate that things have changed? Wouldn't the average person be able
to pick up on the not-so-subtle clues here ... ??
Well, anyway ... he
down for the weekend, which is a major relief.
Vert took the
I shopping in Burien yesterday. She bought the girls $70 worth of
underwear - and two darling knit hats - and an expensive pair of boots
for me that I love. She has also offered to pay for dental care for us
while I'm on welfare.
November 24, 1986
up with a splitting
headache, but otherwise I'm in fairly good spirits. This is odd,
because it seems lately that the entire world is conspiring to bring me
down ... Ray called again last night, full of beer and self-pity, and
spent 45 minutes bemoaning his fate, threatening suicide, apologizing,
threatening to take Kyle away from me, making promises, generally
behaving like a horse's ass ... Judy's life is falling apart now, and
she calls every day with the details ... there is no change in our
brother-in-law's condition ... why then do I continue to feel so
optimistic? Ordinarily all of this 'stuff' would have me in pieces on
the floor. Oh yes - another thing - a sudden avalanche of media
attention concerning the welfare system. Newspaper articles and TV news
reports and such, all talking about how welfare is a lousy way to live,
the very bottom of the barrel, and how welfare recipients are all a
bunch of lazy slobs with no ambition. I just finished reading another
such article a few minutes ago, in the editorial section of The Sunday
Times. While it left me feeling mildly offended, I didn't take it much
to heart. Things are just rolling off my back lately. Is it because the
kids and I are settled and taken care of? Is it because I've taken
charge of my own destiny? Or because I've stopped drinking? Or all of
these things combined ... ? I feel braced and hardy and capable of
withstanding practically anything. It is an interesting
A year ago, the slightest breeze of change would have simply blown me
over. Now I think I could withstand a hurricane.
the kids over to
for a while yesterday afternoon. She said - this was unsolicited - that
I'm looking "VERY good." ("Specifics!" I shouted. "Be specific!!") She
said that my face has lost that horrid puffiness and sallowness it was
starting to get. So my dieting and abstinence from alcohol are showing
results. I was ecstatic!!
managed to get through
sober weekend, by the way. There was one bad moment: the girls and I
were at the grocery store, and I found myself standing in fornt of the
cold beer and wine. I must admit that I was sorely tempted. Just then
Jamie, God bless her, snapped me back to reality. "No BEER, Mom!" she
shouted. Several people standing nearby overheard her, and I wanted to
sink right through the floor ... afterwards, though, I was amused and
grateful. I've explained to Jamie that beer "isn't on Mom's diet," so
she has appointed herself as the voice of my conscience.
(Literally.) It's true that staying off beer is helping the
immeasurably, but of course my reasons for wanting to avoid alcohol go
much deeper than that. I could write volumes about it, probably, but it
all comes down to three things, basically: I'm tired of hangovers; I'm
tired of using alcohol to deal with problems - it usually just makes
things worse; and I can't lose any weight when I drink. It hasn't been
easy. I miss my crutch. Drinking was like a favorite hobby, and there
are plenty of moments when I feel deprived. I still long for a little
alcoholic fortification before making a difficult phone call, or that
nice fuzzy "lift" on special occasions. This is gonna be one tough,
uphill battle. But then I wake up in the mornings with no hangover, no
upset stomach, no diarrhea ... I can remember everything I said on the
phone the night before ... and I feel so darned RELIEVED and glad, that
it makes it all worthwhile. Or I get an unexpected compliment like the
one I got from Mom yesterday, and I realize that I'm actually doing
something that I can be proud of ... for a change ...
From This Evening:
frozen diet dinner is
oven; my salad sits waiting
on the kitchen counter. While my dinner cooks, I'm in the living room
watching TV. Kacie and Jamie have been playing in the kitchen
half hour or so. "Girls!" I say, "Please come
out to the living room while my food is cooking." Jamie
wanders out and sits down next to me, but Kacie is still out of
sight. "Kacie! Come HERE!" I say, a bit more sternly. I don't want her
playing near the hot oven.
emerges from the
finally, and I see immediately that her face - her mouth and chin - are
covered with salad dressing. The
little urchin has been out there eating my salad! I fly out
the kitchen and discover more than half the salad is simply
gone. This is about
the last thing in the world I need right
now. I'm tired, hungry and cranky, and I verbally land into
DON'T LOVE ME!" she
in tears, and runs
down the hall to her bedroom. The door slams shut.
minutes later I
furious pounding noise coming from her bedroom. I knock on the door.
"May I come in?"
Kacie shouts ... pound-pound-pound.
She is sitting on the floor of
her closet, pounding
on her old workbench toy. "I mad at you, an' I doon dis!"
she says happily, giving me a look of such goony, satisfaction
that I burst into laughter. She has certainly found a way to
manage her anger.
OK," I tell her,
the top of her head. "You can be mad at Mama." And
she smiles at me sweetly.
November 28, 1986
Kyle's first! The kids and I rode with Mom (and Grandma St. John) down
to Uncle Jerry and Aunt Jody's farm near Aberdeen.
The traditional "first turkey drumstick" photo ...
time with Kyle.
L to R: me,
and Jamie, at Aunt Jody & Uncle Jerry's farm
December 4, 1986
p.m., and I'm so
can barely keep my eyes open. I love the new fullness of my life, but
when am I ever going to be able to write again?? Letters - entries in
this journal - entries in the kids' baby books - hell, I can't even get
a GROCERY list written ...
December 5, 1986
But I will
persist, even if it's only
three words here, three words there ...
interesting thing has
happened suddenly, this week, to Kacie: the Terrible Twos have come to
an abrupt halt. (It's about time, too, considering the fact that she's
three and a half!) It's as though someone flipped a switch somewhere:
overnight she has changed into this sweet, delicate, remarkably NICE
the other hand, Jamie
metamorphising (sp?) into this grumpy, bossy five year old - refusing
to help with anything, balking at suggestions, throwing tantrums,
ordering Kacie around - half the time I feel like throttling her. I
suppose I ought to be thankful that the girls are developing
alternatively - when one is an angel, the other is a pill - I'm not
sure if I could handle them both being at a "pill" stage
has finally started
up on his hands and knees on the floor, although he hasn't yet begun
crawling that way - he's still dragging his belly around on the floor.
He's picking up speed, though, even without picking himself up - he can
travel all around the apartment with ease.
weekend the girls
Sunday School at Riverton Heights Presbyterian. As I
they both adore it. They've been invited to sing in the church's
Christmas program on Dec. 21, a little song called "Gospel Bells" (sung
to the tune of "Jingle Bells"). It goes:
sings it "Gos-mel
... Kacie sings "Gossel bells.")
Mom is taking
see "The Song of the South" - Jay's first theater movie - and the day
after that, we're throwing Jamie a big birthday party in the apartment
clubhouse. A bunch of the neighbor kids have been invited, along with
her cousins and a couple of other people. I've spent the past couple of
days gluing cotton balls onto empty baby food jars, turning them into
little "Santa jars" to fill with candy and give away as party favors. I
have some apprehensions about throwing my first kiddie party - how do I
keep them all entertained for two hours?? - but I suppose everything
will go just fine.
(the 9th) is
birthday, and that's the night I'll give her her present from me - a
kitten. We'll have a small cake and ice cream celebration here at the
go - Kyle is
(Kacie just came over and put her arms around my neck, hugged me and
said "You a good Momma.")
Ray came down and spent part of last weekend with us. For much of his
visit we were strangely formal: for the first time, I think, we both
sense how much of an outsider he has become ... not with the kids, of
course, but certainly with me ...
meets the 1987
Christmas decorations. Age 19 months.
"Look at the
Kyle: "Whoa." (His response to anything new or pretty.)
"Thanks GOD we
Saturday, late afternoon
December 13, 1986
week later. A lot
stuff has happened.
girls are over at
Don's for the weekend, so it's Kylie and I ... at least until Ray shows
up ... I didn't want him here this weekend, but then he pulled his
"brokenhearted" routine on the phone and I relented. He's going to
watch Kyle tonight while Steph and I go Christmas-tree shopping.
living room, even
tree, is fabulously beautiful this evening - or it seems that way to
me, anyway. I finally have some furniture! Yesterday Ray brought out
the stereo, cabinet and speakers, and last night I bought a sofa and
loveseat from a lady in Apt. B-9. (I gave her $50, and still owe her
another $50.) With the "new" furniture and the stereo, plus the
Christmas decorations I've put around the place, the apartment is
really beginning to look like a home ... and I'm glad.
is laying on the
playing with the Infa-Feeder I got him today and watching our new
kitten. He's got another bad cold - Kyle I mean, not the kitten - mand
is grumpier today than usual.
were fairly successful. The day before her birthday I took her (and
Kacie, and Courtney) to Burien and had her ears pierced at Jorstad
Jewelers. She screamed bloody murder all through the procedure, but
afterwards said she was "glad" she'd had it done. Her birthday party on
Dec. 7th was disorganized, noisy and nerve-wracking ... she loved it.
And the night of her birthday, Mom, Gram St. John and Deb came over for
cake and presents with us. I sprained my ankle that afternoon, walking
to the laundry room, so Dad and Valerie did me a favor and went to pick
up Jamie's birthday kitten. Jamie overheard my phone conversation with
Dad so she knew ahead of time about the cat, but that didn't matter -
she was still thrilled with "Molly."
first 'real' birthday party (age 5)
December 16, 1986
a cold. The
all been sick since Sunday, but so far I've been able to resist it ...
today my throat tickles a little, though, and I'm trying to use the
power of suggestion to chase it off.
years olf, as of
yesterday. Mom came by in the evening with the only two birthday gifts
I received this year - a nice little purse organizer (datebook,
calendar, address book, etc.) and Kyle's pictures from the photo studio
(taken Oct. 15) - they are BEAUTIFUL. She admired the way the apartment
looks. (I got a tree this weekend, a nice six-footer for twenty
dollars, and it is lovely.)
December 19, 1986
is my Christmas
and I were
about this yesterday. Christmas is less than a week away, and I feel
... nothing. It's not that I'm unhappy, because I'm not - life is great
right now - I just don't feel as though Christmas is next week. Steph
feels the same way, and as a couple of lifelong Christmas addicts we
both agree that it's a very odd feeling.
January 1, 1987
BOOM - just like
all over. In the blink of an eye, Christmas 1986 is history and the new
year has begun. Where does the time go?
so much to write
know I'll never finish it all, so I might as well just stick to the
most important stuff only, and be brief. Something happened last night
that quite literally has changed my life - or my outlook on life,
anyway. So I'll start with that.
New Year's Eve,
in the afternoon Stephanie and
I went to the grocery store to buy some champagne and dinner
materials for our evening together. Ray was watching the kids. When I
got back from the store, shortly after 4 p.m., I noticed
that there was nobody on the playground. "Where are the
girls?" I asked Ray, and he said he'd sent them outside to
eat their Tootsie Rolls. "They were here just a minute ago,"
Not overly concerned, I walked around the playground looking for
them. I found Kacie right away, but Jamie was nowhere to be seen. I
walked around the complex calling her name, and then I checked
the blackberry bushes behind our building ... but no Jamie. Some boys
playing on the stairwell said they hadn't seen her. I was annoyed now,
but still not worried: I started knocking
on apartment doors to see if she was playing with one of her friends.
Amanda's mom hadn't seen her, and neither had Sandy's mom. I
felt the first tiny tickle of fear then. Where the hell
she be? I went home and called Stephanie. By any chance had
Jamie gone over to her apartment? No such luck. Ray put on his
jacket and came outside to help me look. We checked the parking
lot, the staircases, the laundry room, the clubhouse. A couple
of people joined us in the search. By this point I was beginning to get
worried. It would be dark soon, and it looked like it might rain.
came over to
look, and I could sense she was as concerned as I was. Some boys on
bikes stopped to ask what all
the commotion was about, and when we told them that Jamie was missing,
Israel said, "I saw her get into a car."
that moment the
out of my world.
screamed, terrified. Stephanie grabbed my arm to keep me from falling
down. From that
moment on, I was hysterical. While the manager and other residents
kept searching for her, I blindly found my way into the apartment
and called the police. Then I called my parents. I have never,
ever in my life been as frightened: it was the worst experience
had. For nearly an hour I was in a total, agonizing
panic. People tried to comfort and reassure me, but I was beyond
comfort. I was sure that someone had abducted Jamie, and I was
equally sure I would never see her again. What if she was being
hurt (or worse) at that very moment? Wherever she was, she must
at the very least be scared and cold. I stood outside in the
rain, alone, and begged God to bring her home. "Please please
please please," I moaned, "Let her be all right." I tried to send love
and comfort to her telepathically, trying
to reach her with my thoughts and let her know how much I love
her. I wanted to ease her terror with my love ...
the story has a
ending. Just when I thought I was going to lose my grip completely,
Smith stopped by. "Hey," she said, "I just saw
out by my
told her to get her butt home or
in big trouble." Sweet hope flooded my heart. She hadn't
gotten into a car with anyone! She was out there somewhere,
hiding from us to avoid punishment. And then a few minutes later,
as Stephanie and I stood talking to the manager's
husband, Mr. Perkins said "Hey - there she is!" I looked, and
there she was, standing
next to a policeman. It was the
greatest moment of my life. I ran and grabbed her, shouting her
name, and then I carried her into the apartment, hugging her. She was
crying, and I was crying, and I was thanking God over
and over again for returning her to us safe and sound.
turns out that she was
hiding from us: she was afraid
she'd get in trouble because she ate Kacie's Tootsie Roll. I
honestly didn't know whether to smother her with kisses or hang
her by her heels. Mostly I just sat and held her. She seemed
to comprehend the gravity of what she'd done, but I suspect she
was secretly quite pleased by the commotion she'd caused. Policemen
and everything! She said she'd sat behind a bush and watched
looking for her.
been grounded for
days - probably until Saturday - and we're trying to impress on her the
seriousness of what she did. But other than that, under the
circumstances, it's hard to punish her for being alive and well! I just
want to kiss her over and over again! This whole horrible experience
has actually blessed me with a new appreciation of my family, and of
life in general. I feel like one of those people who has been
resucitated on the operating table after being pronounced
... like I've been given a second chance. Our close call with
tragedy was a real eye opener, and for that, anyhow, I'm glad it
happened. I will NEVER take my children for granted again.
the commotion had
down, I went over to Stephanie's for an evening of champagne and girl
talk. It has been years since I've had a friend as dear to me as
Stephanie has become, and it feels wonderful. The way she shared my
concern and fear when Jamie was gone really showed me what a good
friend she is.
My resolutions for 1987 are:
To shower ALL THREE
beloved children with love, attention, patience, respect and care,
every day of the year.
2. To continue on my diet. My goal: 130 pounds. (Twenty lbs. to go!)
3. To put money into a savings account.
4. To resolve my marriage problems, one way or another.
5. To go back to school.
Christmas 1986 was OK. I never was able to rouse much holiday spirit
this year, though, and I think that was what kept this Christmas from
being anything particularly memorable. The kids had fun, though. Thanks
to a couple of local charities that Mom gave my name to, there was an
astounding abundance of toys, food and gifts. The girls spent the
afternoon having dinner at Ray's folks' house - a dinner to which I was
most pointedly NOT invited - Ray, Kyle and I spent Christmas Day
quietly, cooking a turkey on the Webber (a holdover tradition from last
Jamie (5), Kyle (7 mos.) and Kacie (3)
The Christmas letter:
little son, dressed in red p.j.'s, sits on Daddy's lap and giggles as he
clumsily claps his hands. Jamie, more precious to me than ever before,
following last night's near-tragedy, snuggles next to me on the sofa, licking
leftover Christmas seals and sticking them into a scrapbook. Kacie, worn out
from all the excitement last night, has fallen asleep in my
... the first of the new year ... dark and rainy and cold. My resolutions for
1987 are still muddled and unformed, but the most important of them
my diet and getting down to 130 lbs. by spring.
money into a savings account - and LEAVING it there.
Getting my driver's license again.
"Loving" Kacie more (spending more time w/her, being more patient, etc.)
"Helping" Jamie more.
"Loving" and "helping" Kyle more.
Moving forward in my plans to go back to work, so I can get off welfare and
support my children when Ray and I get divorced next year.
Christmas '86 wasn't the greatest Christmas in history, but it wasn't the
worst, either. I felt an odd lack of holiday spirit, and maybe that was the
problem. Can we get it back for Christmas '87 ...?
Where will we be living in December 1987?
Who will be important in my life then?
Will Ray and I still be married?
Will I be thinner - healthier - happier ...?
I love my children. I have good feelings about our lives in 1987.
AND TIME AS YOU READ THIS:
Thursday, January 1, 1987, 11:30
SUMMATION OF "THINGS" ... YOUR DAY, YOUR MOOD, YOUR HEALTH, YOUR STATE OF
Deeply tired, a bit hungover from last night's champagne, but
incredibly happy. Jamie ran away last night, and for one horrifying hour I faced
the possibility of never seeing my precious daughter again. The fact that she
was returned to us, safe and sound, was like a miracle - and a second chance. I
am filled with love, thanks, relief and a renewed appreciation of
STANDS OUT IN YOUR MIND AS MEMORABLE ABOUT CHRISTMAS 1985 (LAST YEAR)?
It was our last Christmas in the Kirkland house. I just didn't know it at
the time ... which is probably just as well, because it was a lovely Christmas
and I might not have been able to enjoy it, had I known that the clock was
YOUR FEELINGS ABOUT THIS HOLIDAY SEASON ('86) SO FAR?
different. Not bad - just different. The kids had fun, but frankly I'm a
little relieved that the fuss and worry are over.
In limbo. I expect to be divorced by this time next
Fine! Beautiful, healthy, precious. And -- in Jamie's
case -- HOME!!
YOU? WHAT IS IT LIKE, BEING THE MOTHER OF THREE?
I'm OK. I'm healthier
and happier than I was a year ago. Being the mother of three is a lot of work,
but it's worth it.
GOOD AND BAD ABOUT 1986?
Oh boy. 1986 was quite a year. The good:
Kyle's birth, getting a car, making friends with Stephanie, moving to this
apartment, losing weight. The bad: my in-laws selling our house, Ray losing his
job, ending my marriage.
Best loved gifts received:
Cabbage Patch Kid from Mama and Daddy; doll stroller; tape recorder
from Mom & Dad; baby doll with clothes and accessories.
Fisher-Price Zoo from Daddy; "My
Child" doll from Mama.
squeezable ball; fire truck with
beads & bell; plastic blocks.
framed pictures of Kyle, and of Mom
& Ken; pots and pans from Peg; gold earrings from the kids;
frame from Valerie; sweatshirt from charity group; CAMERA!! (from
Monday 11 a.m.
January 5, 1987
today. Ray is still here - it's been over two weeks now - I
the lack of privacy, but I have to admit that he's been a lot of help,
especially with Kyle. Waiting for my damn food stamps to arrive.
Thrilled with my continued weight loss. Sad that our apartment manager,
Mrs. Perkins, is moving today - I really liked her a lot.
hair cut about a
- shoulder-length. It looks pretty nice - certainly neater. I'm
beginning to feel good about my looks again, for the first time in
has a tooth! He cut
Christmas Day, although I didn't discover it until the next day. (I had
my finger in his mouth and he BIT me!) He is crawling very well now -
also pulling himself up to a standing position with ease. His first and
only word, so far: "Da-da." (He responds to and seems to recognize the
words ba-ba, Mama, kitty and cookie.) Other cute things he does: sticks
out his tongue when he sees us eating something ... tries to "share"
his bottle with me ... bites me on the chin ... gives EVERYONE the
raspberry, constantly!! ... knocks down the towers Ray makes with
first (and only,
dream about Tony last night ... I'm left this
a vague, lingering yearning. I wonder where he is now? No one seems to
know, not even Ray. I wonder whose sofa he's sleeping on these days ...
Monday 10:30 a.m.
January 26, 1987
weeks later. Very
this morning - with Ray, in large part - but mostly with myself. I feel
that I'm losing precious ground. All that nice lovely progress I was
making two months ago ... what's happening to it? It would be too easy
to lay all the blame on Ray. He is ALWAYS HERE, and when he's here I
slip back into all my old familiar patterns of behavior. I eat too
much, I binge drink, I procrastinate, I spend my money. A month or two
ago I was beginning to feel some spiritual need again: today I feel
nothing. I resent him SO MUCH for interfering in my progress - for
setting me back - I very nearly hate him right now. And yet I know that
I'm the only one to blame. I'm the one who allows him to stay, just to
avoid confrontation. I'm the one who lets it continue. If I'm losing
ground, it's due to my own weaknesses ... not Ray's.
too late to start
again?? Probably not. OK, then, time to regroup. What are my
GET RAY OUT OF HERE -
TODAY. I think he's planning to
go back to Bellevue today anyhow.
More importantly, though, I need to cut down on the frequency - and the
length - of his "visits." Half the time when he stays here he's flush
with Unemployment money and spends it abundantly on us
the other half of the time (like this past weekend) he's dead-broke and
I end up spending all of MY money, mostly on food. (I can't believe it:
my food stamps are all gone for the month, already.) I obviously
appreciate his occasional financial help, but I think I've got to face
the facts: his "help" is costing me too much. I'm going to have to
learn to do without it.
NO MORE DRINKING. I
only drink once a week or so, but then I drink entirely too much, too
fast, I make a fool of myself, and then I feel horrible for three days
CONTINUE DIETING. This,
at least, I've been fairly good about, except on the weekends when Ray
brings home irresistible things like pizza or Chinese food or big bags
of Double Stuff Oreos ... I'm still being pretty "good" 3/4
the time ... I'm hovering around 145 pounds at the moment, which means
another 15 lbs. to go before I reach my goal weight of 130.
MAKE SOME PLANS FOR THE
FUTURE. I'm toying with the idea
of either going back to college
(HCC) or else getting some vocational training. I'm resigned to the
idea of being on welfare for a couple of years, but when I finally go
off it, I want it to be because I've got a decent job and can provide
for my kids without help.
FIND SOME SPIRITUAL
DIRECTION. We need a good
church, in other words. Riverton
Presbyterian was OK, but I was disappointed with the Sunday School. We
need something that fills all our needs.
START A SAVINGS ACCOUNT.
GET MY DRIVERS LICENSE!!
GET THE KIDS'
MEDICAL/DENTAL NEEDS TAKEN CARE OF.
those are my most
immediate goals. Next what I'll do (not now - Kyle and Courtney are
fussing) is put them into some sort of time-frame.
January 28, 1987
Wednesday morning 7:15 a.m.
up for an hour.
rainy morning: Kacie and I are sitting here in the warm, brightly-lit
kitchen ... she is contentedly slurping her "Cocoa Pups," I am waiting
for my coffee to cool. Courtney, ever-present "binky" securely fastened
to her face, lays in a pool of toys in front of the TV. Jamie and Kyle
are asleep in my bed. (Ray isn't here ... thank goodness.)
really been a
the Challenger blew up? The TV is full of the "anniversary" this
January 29, 1987
mean I'm actually
two days in a row ... ??)
little "down" this
mostly because of money. I got my gas and phone bills a couple of days
ago - $52 and $75, respectively! - and the electricity bill is due to
arrive any day. I will have the money to cover them - and the rent -
that's not the problem. My welfare check will probably be here on
Monday (and HOPEFULLY my food stamps, too.) So the bills will get paid.
I suppose I ought to be grateful for that. It's just that there will be
... Stephanie just had her welfare cut
off, and she won't be able to pay me for babysitting for a while ...
there will be no spending money in February to speak of, and in
typically selfish Terri fashion, this has got me down in the dumps.
(Here Stephanie is worried about how she's going to pay her rent and
feed her baby, and I'm depressed because there will be no "spending
money" in February ... ?)
situation so gloomy is that now I will have to depend on Ray to come
through with a little money, which will once again make me feel
obligated to him. The divorce is seeming more and more unlikely ... I'm
letting the opportunity slip away ...
other day I
saying to Jamie, "Don't worry, we'll all be back together again, real
is back to being
impossible again. If I so much as tell her to get her muddy boots off
the couch, she dissolves into sobs, sticks out her bottom lip and wails
"You don't LOVE me!" I hear this a dozen times a day, and it drives me
crazy. Equally grating are her constant requests for food. She wants to
snack all day long. "I'm gettin' HUNGRY," she says, ten minutes after
lunch ... then again fifteen minutes later ... then again, and again,
on and on, all day long. Usually I cave in and let her have a soda
cracker or a raw carrot, but I'm worried about her preoccupation with
food. Is she that bored and understimulated? Or feeling the old "middle
child" syndrome? (Or genuinely hungry?!) Are the "You don't LOVE mes"
and the "I'm gettin' HUNGRYS" interconnected?
"My favorite number is FIVE."
"My favorite number is SALMON!"
that she doesn't want to go to kindergarten in the fall. Her reasons
vary from day to day - she's upset because moms aren't allowed to stay
at school with their kids ... she's afraid there
enough seats on the bus ... she's scared that
"a MAN teacher" ... she's afraid that she'll "get
the playground," or that she'll "fall down in the mud."
climbing onto the couch (but not the loveseat) ... clapping his hands
... waving bye-bye in Italian fashion! ... saying "Ma-ma" once or twice
(but only when he is in distress: when he's happy, he says "Da-da"!)
weigh 140 lbs.
Ray is here again
... I'm still worrying about money ... feeling "taken advantage of." I
binged on cookies last night - I have no idea why - but I've
sugar hangover this morning as a result.
this is COOPERATION. Now co-OP!"
February 6, 1987
mailed my phone and
bills. That, combined with the rent I paid on Monday, has all but wiped
out my checking account balance. Oh well. At least I AM paying my
bills, and on time, too. I'm proud of that.
now, as of this week - a 16 month old boy named Terry. His mother Tammi
(Apt. F-12) is undergoing treatment for breast cancer this week
(chemotherapy) and next week is planning to go back to her job as an
optician at J.C. Penney, so we'll have Terry fulltime. He is a sweet,
quiet litle guy with a headful of tousled curls. He spends his time
walking around the apartment with his bottle, wordlessly watching
everything we do. I'll be getting an extra $41 to $56 a week (Tammi's
work hours vary) for watching him.
here, of course,
won't spend any time this morning berating myself for that. I simply am
(and always have been) far too lenient where Ray is concerned.
he says "Mama" now more frequently (and not always when he's in
distress!) He also can say "no-no," and (sort of) says "cookie." He
climbs on the living room furniture and the beds, but he can't get back
down again. He has cut another tooth - this one is on the top, on his
left side - that makes three altogether. He still loves
show "Jeopardy" - the minute it comes on, he breaks into a HUGE smile,
claps his hands, bobs up and down in excitement and refuses to BUDGE
from in front of the TV until it's all done. He likes to grab my toes -
he looks up at me expectantly, with this mischevious little smile on
his face, waiting for me to say "OW!" - then when I do, he replies with
an "Ow!" of his own. He claps his hands, waves, puts a sock on his nose
when I ask him to, pats his diaper when I say "Where are your PANTS?"
and flies around at breakneck speed in his walker. He HATES his bath.
He also hates being dressed now (he used to enjoy it). He won't eat any
kind of cereal, especially the Gerber oatmeal, but he loves fruit,
crackers and cookies. He is beginning to respond to music ... this
morning I was playing a Talking Heads song ("Take Me To The River") and
he got very excited - he was bobbing in time to the music and clapping
"I'll take Stroller
Hockey for $200, Alex."
February 12, 1987
girls are chasing
Terry around the apartment, playing hide 'n seek ... his chubby
cheeks are flushed ... he looks at me in passing and ROARS with
excitement. Kyle, in his walker, struggles to keep up with the older
children, but he finds it hard to maneuver his wheels around the toys
on the floor: eventually he gives a little scream in protest ...
already (in a blue sweatshirt and new size 12 jeans), cross-legged on
the sofa ... drinking the second cup of coffee of the morning ... hazy
sunlight streams through the patio door and spills onto the apartment
floor like lemonade. Another day in the works.
"I'm so HUNGRY,
is just falling apart."
of the questions in
will I finally
off welfare - and how?
- What do I do
my marriage? (Is it worth doing
- Can I reach 130
if I apply myself? (I'm 140 now)
- Can I really
watching FIVE kids??
- Where is my life
- Do I know what
doing ... ? (Do I ever?)
February 22, 1987
days later. I've
woefully unhealthy lately - pinched a nerve in my shoulder,
the whole family (AND Stephanie) with bad lasagna last weekend, and now
I have a rotten chest cold. Why have we been sick so much since moving
new to report,
Life is moving along more or less on an even keel. Taking care of five
kids (including my three) every day isn't the challenge of the century
... well, actually,
maybe it IS ... but what I mean is that it isn't the most fulfilling
job in the world, and yet it's a relatively easy way to earn the extra
money we need. So I don't mind it too
much. I've been taking care of
Courtney for almost five months now,
and she's like a member of the
family. I have grown genuinely fond of her
no trouble at all.
And Terry fits in fairly well too. They've both gone home by
4:30 every day, so I have my evenings - and my weekends - free to spend
time exclusively with my own kids.
situation with Ray
changed much. I did manage to tell him that I thought he was spending
too much time here, and he agreed to cut back ... but I haven't really
seen any change. Sometimes I feel very warm and friendly towards him,
and other times I want to rip his droopy moustache right off his
Stephanie says she doesn't understand how in the world I ever could
have married him. I'm not sure I understand it myself. I've never loved
him - at least, not in the way a wife is supposed to love her husband -
not even on our wedding day. Why DID I marry him? What was I hoping
should make one thing
perfectly clear: I don't
the marriage, because it produced the
only three children in the universe I could ever possibly want to have.
just not sure I understand my motives for marrying him in the first
March 4, 1987
was I five years
Let's check the old journals and see:
has a new 'friend'
... I put my plastic makeup mirror into her playpen with her, and she
is fascinated with the 'other' baby! Motherhood certainly brings some
fine moments. I love thinking of new things to do with Jamie, new
things to show her ... "
Jay is in a chipper
mood this morning, full of smiles and giggles, chattering like a
magpie, dragging 'blanky' all around the house ... Baby is very active
this morning, too, thrashing hugely inside of me every few minutes ...
the past two nights have been sleepless ones ... I sleep in snatches,
punctuated by odd little dreams. Last night I dreamed that the baby was
a girl. I was spoon-feeding her applesauce while Ray fed Jamie
spaghetti and meatballs."
very, very good
today ... it definitely feels like spring today and my spirits are
high. This has just plain been a great weekend ... I felt very good and
very close to my husband."
Slept lousy last
night ... before bed I transferred the box of kittens from Kacie's
closet to a corner of the living room. CeCe spent a good part of the
night parading up and down the hallway outside our door, yowling ...
Jamie and I named the kittens this morning: Coffeepot, Cocoa and Cloudy
... I tried explaining to Jay that eventually we'll have to find homes
for the kitties. She was near tears. 'But dose baby kitties can live
here wif us!' she said sorrowfully. So I just dropped the issue for now
journal entry from
ago is too long and complicated to transcribe here, but basically it's
an anecdote about Jamie's reluctance to knock on the neighbor's door
and ask if her friends can play.)
well. That's enough
past. On to the present.
soggy morning -
or sixth day
in a row, with more rain still to come. The kids and I have opressive
cases of cabin fever, and are picking at each other accordingly.
("You're a MEAN MOMMY!" Kacie shouted at me a while ago.) Even Kyle
feels it. For the past two or three days he has been unbearably grumpy.
Add to this the lingering colds we've all got, the additional pressure
of having Terry and Courtney here all day, and all of the other
problems/concerns/questions/worries on my mind ... and I feel like a
time bomb, waiting to happen. (Interrupted just now by Stephanie's 9
call. "Trouble in paradise?" she inquired sweetly. In
hysterical giggles.) The apartment is a mess, my throat feels like
sandpaper, the noise level is deafening, Kacie asks me for food every
ten minutes ... Kyle just tipped over in his walker ... I feel
incredibly pressured and resentful at the moment. How will I survive
this day?! I love these kids, and I hate it when I feel this
but it's just so hard, being cooped up with all five of them and not
having more than a minute or two to myself, ever ... I'm scribbling
this in snatches, as it is ... they don't understand why I'm not
accomodating them every single minute ... they are so darned demanding.
Such grasping, irritable, self-centered little beasties!!! I mean, one
child ALONE is like that: imagine the annoyance factor QUINTUPLED. I
qualify for maternal sainthood here.
at the least - a
vacation time ...)
got my new Levi's -
were delivered by UPS - the first new pair of 501's I've bought for
myself since I was fourteen. (Now all I need is a pencil-yellow
turtleneck and a pair of brown waffle-stompers, and it's 1972 all over
again.) They are a size 11/12, and they FIT. For the past month and a
half I have weighed a more or less unwavering 140, despite frequent
cheating and deviation from the diet. Is this where my body wants to
be? I look OK - I look fabulous, compared to the way I looked a year
ago - but naturally it's difficult for me to be completely satisfied. I
keep thinking that if I could just get down to 127, even if it's just
for the summer, that then I'll feel like I've accomplished what I set
out to accomplish. If I discipline myself, I could do it. I know I
could. I probably will, in fact ... it's just hard, getting back on the
brief attack of
yesterday afternoon, which has returned this morning. ("I feel as
though no one in the world even knows I'm here," I said to Stephanie.
She nodded understandingly, even though I barely understand it myself.)
I drove over to Safeway to pick up a few "emergency" groceries while
Steph stayed at my apartment and kept an eye on the five kids. It had
been a long day with the "little beasties," and my nerves were frayed;
but instead of appreciating the brief opportunity to get away from it
all and get some fresh air, I just felt more oppressed and lonely than
ever ... I was very nearly in tears during the drive to the store, for
no reason at all. I had my new Levi's on, and my hair and makeup were
done the way I like - I looked fine, possibly even more than fine - it
had stopped raining for five blessed minutes, the grocery store wasn't
too crowded, there were no small children nipping at my heels - I
should have enjoyed myself. So what happened? Why do I feel like I'm
walking around in a fog? Why do I suddenly feel like no one in the
world knows - or cares - that I'm alive??
called last night
to know if he could come out today and spend "a few days." Good grief -
we just got rid of him the day before yesterday! I said no, wait until
Friday. (I'll be broke by then," he whined, but I held semi-firm.) I
DON'T WANT HIM HERE AT ALL. He's been here EVERY FUCKING WEEKEND since
before Christmas, and I can feel everything beginning to slip back into
the old, comfortable, DESTRUCTIVE patterns. I feed him, I let him
borrow my car, I give him money, I drink beer with him ... we are not
intimate sexually, although he continues to badger me ceaselessly about
it ... there's nothing overtly awful about having him here, but I just
feel as though ... well ... as though he is holding me back from
something. A chance at a healthier, more productive life, maybe. When
he's not here I find it much easier to stick to my diet, and to avoid
beer. Or maybe he's holding me back from venturing out into the world.
I can't exactly begin to date (not that I've had any offers) with him
here every weekend, and with our marital situation so unresolved.
Funnily enough, I think that's one of the things I was feeling 'blue'
about yesterday. I'm finally beginning to think about men again, just a
little bit. Maybe it's because I've lost some weight, or because it's
almost spring ... I'm feeling a little bit of 'spring fever,' I think
... I crave a little romance! I don't care about sex right now, but I
have to admit that it would be nice to have a little male attention
again. It would be nice to be pursued ... to be chased after, a little.
"Little" is the key word here: I don't want a major love affair right
now - nothing complicated, nothing sticky - just some sweet feelings, a
little attention, a little fun. Yesterday in the grocery store I saw a
couple of men staring at me, and I thought "Geez, it's been a long time
since anybody's done that." I've been so fat and unattractive for the
past five or six years. It feels kind of odd to be ogled again. I'm not
really sure what to do with it! Part of me is flattered; part of me
says "Wait a minute - there's got to be a mistake - I'm nothing but an
overweight unemployed welfare mom of three, almost thirty years old -
why is he looking at ME?!?" But when these men were looking at me, it
reminded me of romance, and of being admired and asked out,
and of the way I used to feel about these things, and I think that's
why I suddenly began to feel so depressed ...
know these things
aren't going to happen to me, not at anytime in the forseeable future,
anyway ... not as long as I've got Ray hanging around my
ball and chain. And certainly not as long as I remain holed-up in this
Kacie on her fourth birthday
March 26, 1987
here now ... Kacie had her fourth birthday last week, and Kyle has
begun taking his first tentative steps. I've regained six pounds,
mostly because of Taco Time, pizza and beer. Ray is still here,
although this weekend he's supposed to move in with Mike Ross out in
Federal Way. (Also Mike's girlfriend Erin and their one year old son.)
I'm thrilled that he has finally found permanent lodging somewhere
other than here - at least, I WANT to be thrilled about it - but
something always seems to go wrong with these arrangements at the last
minutes, and I'm waiting until he is safely and completely moved in
with Mike before I begin celebrating.
maintenance guy here
apartments, Rick, is showing some interest in me, but I feel myself
instinctively backing away. The idea of an actual, honest-to-goodness
date makes me downright queasy. I guess I need to take this one step at
a time. Let's get Ray out of here first, and get back on the diet. Then
we'll see about dating.
today than usual, if for no other reason than because it's a beautiful,
sunny spring morning, and I got a good night's sleep for a change ...
Kyle slept with Ray in the girls' bedroom, Kacie fell asleep on the
living room sofa, so it was just me and Jay in my big bed all night. I
feel recharged today. Kyle, in jammy top, diaper, bare feet and rumpled
hair (the kid is in dire need of a barber!) sits on the kitchen floor
at my feet, eating a banana and smiling at his Mama. Such a sturdy,
adorable little guy: my heart melts every time I look at him. The
girls, dressed already and itching to go outside, sit impatiently
watching "Sesame Street" (which is KACIE'S show now - Jamie condescends
to watch it only occasionally). Terry W., Courtney and Ray are all
asleep. The sunshine is so bright this morning that I can't open the
curtains yet - we would be blinded! - it reflects off the water in the
swimming pool, directly in front of our apartment, turning the water a
gorgeous, glistening aqua. (I look at the pool and contemplate summer
well. On to the
April 6, 1987
registration has expired - I never did change the title when I bought
it last fall - and I have no Drivers License. I'm due for an
eligibility review for my food stamps. All three of the kids are behind
in their innoculations.
I get all this
taken care of???
this morning, was
on the floor after his diaper change, kicking his feet in the air, and
he said "Da? Da!" I said - casually, not expecting any real response -
"Daddy go bye-bye." Kyle looked at me for a few seconds, then began
waving his hand and saying "Da! Da!" "YES!" I said excitedly, "Daddy
went BYE-BYE! Good boy, Kyle!" He was obviously very pleased with
April 9, 1987
management had my
professionally "exterminated" today - the kids and I (Courtney
Terry included) spent an endless, boring day in Stephanie's cramped
apartment, waiting till it was "safe" to come back to my place.
(this week) has
moved into the house in Federal Way. He wasn't here last night and he
won't be tonight, either (although he did stop by this afternoon to
pick up the last of his personal belongings). I sense reticence and
sadness on his part ... and only relief (and a little guilt) on mine.
guy" are going nowhere fast, which is probably just as well since he's
not a lot different from Ray: not too bright, no money, nowhere job.
Why do I fall for this type, anyway??
is walking across
and back now without stumbling. His vocabulary has expanded to include
a definite "cookie," "icky," "gone!" and "boom" (it comes out "gung")
... and a sort-of "god bless you" anytime anyone sneezes.
hovering around 144
April 13, 1987
has simply EXPLODED
walking. The faltering, tentative steps of two weeks go have given way
to confident, continuous toddling. He can stop, change directions,
stoop to pick up a toy and walk outside on the grassy area of the
playground. He loves combs, Jamie's toy broom, spoons, the theme song
from "One Life To Live," bouncy pop music, looking at his reflection in
the oven door, popsicles, cookies, Kleenex, and telephones (especially
morning (a week later)
April 20, 1987
this is the first really "human" day I've had since forever - I've had
hay fever and colds all spring, one right after the other, and then
last week it suddenly turned into something serious. Thursday night I
had to go to the hospital and get a shot of penicillin, and I'm now on
erythromycin in a determined effort to kick this, once and for all.
Tired of being sick.
Breakfast is served.
Wearing his Easter
'basket' on his head.
all got four baskets apiece and all the candy in the WORLD. There was
an early morning egg hunt for all the children in the apartment complex
(organized by my friend Rick). Afterwards, my father and Valerie
stopped by with goodies for the monkeys, and then Mom came at 1:00 and
picked up the girls for an afternoon at their Great-Grandma St. John's.
I didn't go because I'm still contagious. (Editor's
note: here Ray
has handwritten the word "DRUNK" in the margin.)
The girls seem to
have had a happy Easter, over all. Of course they ate far too much
candy, and by dinnertime all they could manage was a bowl of soup and a
hardboiled egg. But they were spirited and happy throughout the entire
By unspoken mutual
and a lack of sustained interest on either side - Rick The Maintenance
Guy and I have
stopped calling each other. There just wasn't anything there of worth.
I don't really care one way or the other. I feel like there's too much
else going on in my life right now - too many VALID things to worry
about - to spend any time stewing over something that wasn't even that
important to me in the first place.
weeks later. My life
something of a muddle at the moment: I've been too distracted and
frazzled to sort ANYTHING out, let alone sit down and write about it
all. Maybe later today, if I get a chance.
birthday. I can't believe that my baby is one year old already. Where
have the past twelve months gone??? In the blink of an eye, the tiny
infant with the stork bites and the wrinkled feet has been transformed
into this sturdy, noisy, busy, wonderful little boy ... a little boy
with opinions and humor and spirit ...
Kyle's first birthday
so amusing to watch
walking around this apartment. He's already so muscular. His back, his
legs and his arms are already strong and sturdy. It looks funny, with
his sweet little baby face and lumpy diaper - an incongruity - little
boy on the top, big boy on the bottom? His birthday was decidedly
low-key, but nice. We had a small cake that said "Happy Birthday Henry"
on it, and my mom and Grandma St. John were here to share it with him.
(We heard nothing at all from Ray's side of the family, incidrentally -
which INFURIATES me. Dad & Valerie forgot, too.) Mostly he got
shorts and tank tops and toys. We gave him a little football, a
fireman's hat, some big inflatable stacking rings (Editor's note: which
he bit holes in within two months), a toy telephone and a bath toy.
vocabulary at age
order of frequency):
- Da (Dad)
- ah! (hi)
- bah (ball)
- ah-duh (all
automatically put off by my three small children? They're terrific, and
so am I! I'm a SWF, 29, 5'5", 130 lbs. [ha! a minor innacuracy!], brown
hair, blue eyes, pretty, intelligent, talented, warm hearted and
optimistic. I have a passion for 60's music, offbeat humor, Chinese
food and flea markets. Would love to meet open-hearted, literate SWM,
with subtle wit and good looks, 30-40. My kids don't need a daddy,
they've got one already, but their mom would enjoy some adult
companionship. Write F-5558 Seattle, c/o Dateline, P.O. Box 555,
two weeks ago - on
whim - I placed the above ad in the local edition of The Little Nickel
newspaper. Don't ask me why. It was just one of those impulsive things
I do from time to time that sometimes winds up changing my life forever
... like that letter to Grandma Vert last summer, or moving to the
East Side in 1978 ... stuff that I do on the spur of the moment, with
zero forethought, usually with far-reaching results. Well. Anyway.
Actually, this is the SECOND ad I've placed in The Nickel - I tried it
once before, back in January, with neglible results. Most of the men
who contacted me the first time were interested ... UNTIL they found
out about the three kids. Then it was adios! So this time I decided to
confront the problem head-on by mentioning the kids right off the bat.
I mean, they're the focal point of my life right now - I love them, and
I'm certainly not ashamed of having them - I figure any man who shows
an interest in me darned well better show an interest in my kids as
response to my
ad, so far, has been mixed. At this point I'm kind of feeling fed-up
with the whole idea of men, and of dating, and I feel as though no
matter what I do I'm never going to find the "great love of my life"
I've always dreamed about. One man who answered my ad was promising.
His letters and phone calls were witty, sincere and fun, and I was
beginning to think I'd really hit it big. The only problem was that he
decided to fall head over heels in love with me before he'd even met me
face-to-face. By the third or fourth letter he was talking about what
sort of paintings we'd be hanging on the walls of "our" house someday.
He scared me
silly!! And then when we did finally meet in person (we took our kids
to McDonald's), I felt zero chemistry between us. It was as though the
Kerry in the letters and on the phone was entirely separate from the
short, balding, cranky Kerry sitting next to me. (Virtually the first
thing he said to me was "Why do you wear all that STUFF on your eyes?")
I was incredibly let down, and for the next few days I avoided his
phone calls. Finally this week he sent me a "goodbye" letter ... the
same day that I mailed him one. So that's that. Another guy who
answered the ad and sent a great picture of himself turned up here last
weekend in polyester cowboy clothes. Blecch. Now he's calling me
obsessively - he let the phone ring FORTY FIVE TIMES yesterday before I
finally broke down and answered it - and he has begun leaving things on
my doorstep. Frankly, I'm worried about it. I've got a really bad case
of hay fever again, and he left a get well card on my porch yesterday.
I felt CHILLS when I found it. (It says: "I really am sorry I woke
up this morning. When I meet someone I like I have a tendency towards
persistence" - no kidding - "which
can be annoying. I enjoy talking
with you because you are inteligent (sic) as well as good looking.
Which is a combination I have not found to (sic) often. Once again
please forgive me and call when you feel up to it. Vern.")
I'm actually thinking about changing my phone number, and for the past
couple of nights I've taken extra precaution in locking up the
apartment at night. This guy just plain gives me the creeps.
don't know, Journal.
one hand, I want desperately to find Mr. Right ... not Mr. OK, or Mr.
Not-Completely-Terrible, or Mr.
Will-Do-For-Now-Until-Something-Better-Comes-Along ... I want to find a
man who is smart and funny and
good looking and romantic, someone who likes the same things I do -
someone who will complete me ... but on the other hand I detest the
idea and the PROCESS of seeking him out. Putting an ad in the newspaper
seemed like an interesting and workable idea at the time, mainly
because I am so seldom able to get out into the world, where the men
are. The Internet was still a few years down the road for me. But now it feels more like a mistake. There were a
couple of other promising responses, including one guy I went to high
school with (and always thought was very cute), but I'm so burned-out
on the whole idea that I doubt I'll follow through on them.
May 22, 1987
Not about men, or about finding Mr. Right - I've temporarily abandoned
that idea - but about life in general. (Tell me something. Why is it
that I'm prone to "optimism" when I have money in my purse? And prone
to pessimism when I'm dead broke ... ?)
dismal day. (I
of course.) Jamie, Kacie and Terry W. are seated around the kitchen
table eating breakfast (cereal, toast with jam) ... Kyle is in his
highchair, eating the same ... Courtney is crawling around the kitchen
floor, looking for crumbs ... Ray is in the living room watching The
Jetsons. So many people in one apartment. Ordinarily I would be feeling
crowded, but this morning it is oddly comforting to be surrounded by
all these familiar faces. Go figure.
month later. (Oh my
whole MONTH?! I can't believe how much time I've let slip by without
scribbling so much as a word in my journal ... I'm surprised and
ashamed and furious with myself!!)
well. I guess there's
like the present. I got up this morning with the itch to write
something, so I'm following through on this rare burst of inspiration
and motivation. The thing is, though, that I want to spend some time
writing about "normal" things ... the kids, the apartment, the weather,
my diet, the bills ... the normal, non-earth-shaking, day-to-day stuff.
I'm tired of writing about how depressed I am, and how Ray is driving
me buggy, and how I have no real plans for the future, etc. etc. etc. -
that stuff gets "old" after a while. At the moment my life is in its
usual state of disarray, but I just don't feel like writing about it
right now. Just for a few minutes this morning, i want to put blinders
on, block out the problems and the worries, and write about the
ordinary, the commonplace, the regular things that make up our days and
lives. So the next few pages - barring flood, earthquake or nuclear war
- will be devoted entirely to ... NORMAL STUFF!!!!
begin with the
the apartment on this overcast Monday morning. Summer officially began
this past weekend, although you'd never know it by the weather ... it
has been cloudy and cool for several days. I've got my first summer
cold of the season - a thick, nasty, noisy affair that has depleted me
of most of my energy - and the apartment looks a bit neglected as a
result. Jamie & Kacie, in differing underwear combinations, are
sprawled in front of the TV watching morning cartoons and singing along
to toy and cereal commercials. One year old Courtney is sitting next to
Kacie, wearing pink stretchy p.j.'s and swiping occasionally at her
runny nose. (Kyle and Ray are still asleep in the girls' room. Ray and
I never sleep together anymore. Most nights he and Kyle share the
girls' bed, and Jamie & Kacie & I are in my room, with
in the bed with me and the other one sleeping in the crib.) I've been
up since quarter to six, my usual rising time these days, since that's
when Stephanie drops off Courtney. Some mornings I try to slip back
into bed after Courtney arrives (it all depends on whether she's
willing to go to sleep, or if she's ready to "play"). This was a "play"
morning, though, so I had to stay up. I managed to catch an early
shower, and now I'm sitting here at my kitchen table in jeans (too
tight) and a blue plaid blouse and bare feet, with my damp hair (too
long) hanging around my shoulders. My nose is raw and sore, and my face
feels tight from soap, and I've got an awful cough ... but in spite of
these minor discomforts I don't feel half-bad emotionally or
physically. I've got a lot of things on my mind - my car, mostly, which
may be officially and permanently dead - but I already said I wasn't
going to dwell on depressing subjects today, so I'll skip over it. I'm
always describing myself as being an "optimistic" person - probably my
favorite adjective when describing myself - but you know, I have to
wonder sometimes if my "optimism" is really just avoidance in disguise.
I worry about things just as much as anyone, but it's rare that I ever
about anything ... I always figure that it
will all come out in the wash, as Grandma used to say. Is this optimism
... or ignorance? Hmmmm. Whatever it is, it's the thing that's keeping
me from sitting here in a total blithering panic over my car this
I think about
I felt when I first saw these apartments, and I'm amused at what a
stuffed shirt I was. I complained about the tacky "ambience" of the
place, and wondered aloud how I could ever feel comfortable and at home
in such a place. Honestly! We've been here for nine months now, and
I've grown to love my apartment nearly as much as I loved the Kirkland
house. Well ... maybe not QUITE as much as the house. An apartment
can't match a house for privacy, intimacy, comfort ... there is always
this sense of other people living ABOVE me and NEXT to me and ACROSS
from me, a sort of shoebox atmosphere that I will never be 100%
comfortable with. I can always hear our upstairs neighbors walking
around or playing their stereo or whatever, and it's creepy. I'm glad
that we don't live in an upstairs apartment because I would hate to
think that someone was listening to me walk around all the time. It's
bad enough that everyone in the building can hear you flush your toilet
or run your garbage disposal. But I'm digressing. While it's true that
there are some aspects of apartment living that I've found less than
appealing (the 100 mile hike to the dumpster is another), it's just not
as bad as I thought it was going to be.
my living room.
getting the sofa and loveseat last December, I've also added several
other new touches: some huge bookshelves that look great, new framed
pictures of the kids, a mirror on the wall next to the front door,
mini-blinds on the living room window and a big coffee table I found
abandoned in the clubhouse. It all looks really nice and
pulled-together. The only sore spot with me, though, is the filthy
carpeting. It was fairly clean when we moved in, but time and kids and
mud and cats and Kool-Aid have all done their damage. I want to rent a
rug shampooer, or maybe even have a professional come in and clean it,
but then I know that once I went through all of the fuss and expense,
the kids would probably just mess it up again, so why bother. (My other
idea would be to cover up the really dirty spots with area rugs.) But
except for the rotten rug, this living room looks just as good as -
better, even - than anything I've ever lived in before. I wouldn't be
ashamed to have anyone see it. The kitchen is OK, I guess, but it's too
small. I was spoiled by the huge, multi-cupboarded kitchen in the
Kirkland house: this kitchen feels like I'm cooking in a closet. But at
least it LOOKS homey enough, with photos and the kids artwork and
calendars and stuff all over the walls, and I can usually manage to put
together a decent meal there, now that I've gotten the hang of the gas
stove. The bathrooms are OK when they're cleaned up, but most of the
time they're a soggy mess. And I've given up on the girls' room
altogether ... they refuse to pick up their clothes and toys, Ray
throws newspapers and dirty socks all over the place when he sleeps in
there, and there's the playpen that Courtney naps in sitting squarely
in the middle of the room, taking up space. I only go in there when
it's a matter of necessity: otherwise I ignore it. My bedroom is still
sort of my "sanctuary," although I never get to spend as much time in
it as I'd like, and I very RARELY get to sleep by myself anymore ...
is going through a
phase right now: all of a sudden she has become very
very sweet & agreeable, very cooperative. (I just
little piece of coffee cake. She looked at me, smiled brightly and said
"THANK you, Mommy!" Then, when she finished eating her cake, she
hopped onto my lap spontaneously for several minutes' worth of hugs,
kisses and jokes.) This is not to say that she's always sweetness and
light - she has her balky, horrid, mean-tempered moments, just as she's
always had - but mostly age five seems to be a period of equilibrium
for Jamie. She is a joy.
has become the
daredevil. Ever see a skinny four year old shinny up a ten foot pole?
Kacie can. My heart is in my throat every minute she's on the
playground. She's incredibly agile and coordinated, like a little
monkey - I've never seen anything to match it. She's also going through
a phase of being a compulsive chatterbox. She talkes faster, louder and
more continuously (even when she's asleep) than anyone I've ever known.
is going through
really aggressive phase - biting, pulling hair, hitting, pushing Kacie
down, etc. etc.
month later, and
I've thrown in the towel.
July 17, 1987
of changes, and
minute or two to record them.
given up on the
divorce. Ray and I are going to give the marriage another try. I
haven't suddenly fallen back in love with him or anything like that,
but he IS employed fulltime again finally (SeaPak) and I have regained
a little respect for him. Mostly I'm doing this for the kids -
particularly Kyle, who worships his Daddy - and for myself: I want
to get off welfare. Ray will be
bringing in approximately $960 a
month, and I figure that with my babysitting income we ought to be able
to squeak by, if we keep our expenses down. THERE WILL BE SOME CHANGES,
THOUGH!! I've made a list of them, and Ray has agreed to them. I don't
have time to write them all down here, but the principal change is that
I'm going to be handling all of the money and the bills from now on.
We've also got to either get my car repaired (my brother says it'll
cost about $300) or else replace it. I will never
go back to the way
things were in Kirkland - stuck home alone with no money of my own, no
car, no phone, Ray sitting around a tavern all the time, etc.
I've told him
that if things begin slipping back into the old patterns, we're
finished for good.
on this later.
girls and I are
afternoon for a camping trip with Tammy & Terry W. This is
and Kacie's first experience camping, and they're soooo excited!
Jamie took this
picture of me during the Greenwater camping trip
July 21, 1987
fun on our
We left early Friday evening for Greenwater (near Enumclaw) and spent
two nights, arriving home late Sunday afternoon. Tammy and Terry have a
nice big RV with plenty of room for everybody - the girls and I slept
in bunks - we camped in the woods, next to a river. Several of the W.'s
friends and relatives camped there with us; their friend Ricky was
especially nice to Jamie and Kacie, taking them for rides on the
four-wheelers and fishing in the river. We roasted marshmallows over
the campfire, hunted for pinecones in the woods, picked wildflowers,
went for walks beside the river, ate barbecued hamburgers, collected
pretty rocks ... it was a lovely, special time of togetherness for my
daughters and I, and we loved it. We came home mosqito-bitten, bruised
and dirty - but elated.
Above: Jamie and Kacie fishing
Below: The girls loved our weekend in Greenwater
of the elation has
off, though. I'm vey confused and a little depressed this afternoon.
It's a hot, muggy, overcast day ... even my new electric fan and a Sun
Country on ice aren't helping much. Ray has gone to work. In a way, I'm
reminded ot the time a few years ago, when he worked swingshift at
Western Kraft - when was that? 1984? - and I used to love my peaceful,
"Ray-free" evenings. I still do. I love it when he's out of my
apartment and out of my hair - but then I know that, come midnight,
he'll be BACK ... and that is something I simply cannot seem to get
excited about, no matter how I try ...
that I've gone and
mouth off to the girls and to my friends and to the world about how Ray
and I are going to "give things another try," I feel ... well ...
STUCK. And I guess that now I'm rethinking the wisdom of the whole
business. Another ten or twenty (or more) years of marriage to Ray?
God. I'm not sure I can do it, no matter how
much things have
"changed," or how many promises he makes that things will be
"different," because in the end it winds up meaning the same thing: me
and Ray. The same old shit.
don't know if I can
problems are the
always. Sex is one. I'm not sure if it's because I have very little
interest in it to begin with, or because I find Ray so unappealing
physically, or both, but the fact is that I can't stand sex anymore.
(The only times I relent are when I'm either dead drunk or else deathly
hungover.) And of course he has begun to nag me about it night and day,
ever since I told him I was thinking about quitting welfare and going
back to the marriage 100%. It's as though now he thinks he's
automatically entitled. So far I've managed to escape it - swingshift,
separate bedrooms and Kyle
(who insists on sleeping with his
Daddy) have been effective deterrents - but the continual stream of
lewd remarks, pinches on the ass and whiney complaints are starting to
drive me crazy. Another problem that is older than the hills is the
absolute lack of common interests between us. The kids, food, what's on
TV - that's about it. I can't talk to him about anything I care about:
writing, music, books, my creative projects, my plans for the future.
His eyes glaze over the minute I start to talk about any of
Another problem is money: already I can sense that he isn't taking my
new commitment to frugality seriously, and I'm gearing up for the
battle I know is coming next week when I attempt to repossess his
paycheck. It makes me tired and headachey just thinking about it ...
it's Friday morning,
I've been up for an hour. The kids and Ray are still sound asleep, and
the apartment is eerily quiet. Courtney is the only one making any
sound at all: her wet diaper rustles noisily as she pads up and down
the hallway, pacifier glued to her face as always. I didn't sleep very
well. I had Kyle in my bed with me for a change, and he spent most of
the night rolling around, flailing little arms and legs, bonking me in
the head with his bottle. (He has some new words, incidentally.
"Bleah-bleah" means "splash-splash," which in turn means "bath." He
throws a couple of Jamie's dolls into an empty laundry basket and says
"Ni-night." And he'll kiss me now when asked - IF he's "in the mood,"
was I? Oh yes. Ray
I guess what the past couple of pages boil down to is that Ray isn't
like other husbands, and that our marriage isn't like most marriages,
and that neither of these things is ever likely to change. Which leaves
the changing up to ME. This is one of the two reasons why I've decided
to stick with the marriage - because this is my chance to do some
serious, life-bettering changing. The process has already begun. This
past year, I feel like I've come a long way. Finding this apartment,
buying the car (which, by the way, is being fixed for free by my
brother), handling my own money and keeping the bills paid - even
losing weight - have all been inspired changes in my life. And now it's
time to move on to the next step. I want to go back to school. I don't
know how or when or where or what field to pursue - none of this has
been thought out yet - but I want to try. And then I want to get a job,
a decent-paying, interesting job that will get me back into the real
world and rekindle some of my flagging self confidence. While I'm on
welfare I can't manage school, but with Ray and I together, pooling
our resources, I think I can. So I'm going to give it a shot. I'll be
getting one more welfare check, which I want to bank immediately. Ray
will be making roughly $900 a month, and I'll have my little bit of
babysitting money. Together I think we can manage, as long as Ray
agrees to allow me to handle the finances. It's going to be REALLY
tight, but at least we've got a cheap place to live, the kids are still
little, we're both bringing in some money and both of our cars are paid
for. I'm starting out feeling fairly optimistic, at least where money
I sent away
information from Highline
College, about classes and schedules and such. I sort of think I'd like
to take some sort of secretarial training. I always enjoyed working in
an office, but it's been seven years since I quit my last office job
and my skills are horrendously rusty. (I wouldn't know a word processor
from a FOOD processor, frankly.) So anyway, that's (tentatively) the
plan. Stay with Ray, go to school, get a job and move on from there.
for staying with him. (And yes, I have to admit that in the back of my
mind is this microscopic, still-cherished secret hope that maybe, out
there in the "real world," going to school or whatever, I may still
bump into my Mr. Right ... )
here's my altruistic
reason for staying: the kids. Yep - that time-worn, classic (possibly
cliche) excuse for keeping a crummy marriage intact. We're doing it
"for the sake of the children." Jamie and Kacie fervently want Mommy
and Daddy to stay together. Kyle passionately adores us both. Being the
product of a broken home myself, I can empathize with these feelings. I
want my children to have what I missed out on: a whole family. This is
my gift to them. In spite of any misgivings or dissatisfaction I may
feel about the marriage, it still seems a simple enough thing to do for
them. I think I may even be able to keep my misgivings under wraps ...
at least, I HOPE I can. (What good would giving the kids a "whole
family" be if they can sense Mom's secret unhappiness ... ?)
you know, the weird
that I'm not wildly unhappy about any of this. I was on Tuesday, a
little, when I first started writing this. But I think that was more a
passing bad mood than anything else. Something has occurred to me
recently. Thirty years (just about) of trying - unsuccessfully - to
find my happiness through other people have gotten me nowhere. Maybe
now it's time to find that happiness in myself.
July 28, 1987
hour and a half
babysitting to go, and I'm wondering if I'll make it ... feeling really
tired and weighted down all of a sudden ... a combination of gung-ho
dieting (without much in the way of results, I might add), very little
sleep last night due to a flea infestation reminiscent of the summer I
was pregnant with Jamie, and a long, LONG day with five small children.
My energy level has suddenly dropped from minus five to minus
FIFTY-five. A little bit sorry for myself, too.
August 12, 1987
Ten Minutes in the Life of My Son
pot-bellied ... plops his juice ba-ba onto the kitchen table, glares at
his sisters who are standing nearby (and ignoring him), and announces
imperiously, "MINE." Snatches his bottle back, swaggers out into the
living room, glances at TV, comes back to the kitchen table where Kacie
is playing with the See 'n Say. Watches her for a moment; accidentally
loses his footing, slips, says "Don't!" to no one in particular.
Regains his balance. Courtney (age 14 mos.) comes into the kitchen
carrying a damp brown washcloth, which Kyle promptly yanks out of her
hands. Walks around the living room wiping his face with the washcloth
and screeching noisily. Looks at Mom from time to time with an "Ain't I
just the dickens?" expression.
gotten hold of his ba-ba and is drinking his juice! He walks over and
glares at her for a moment, then shakes the washcloth at her
menacingly, saying "Guh! Guh!" Still, he doesn't seem to care very much
about the ba-ba right now ... he runs over to his broken riding horse,
pats Horsey's head affectionately. Courtney follows him. "No no!" he
says to her, warningly, and she moves away. "Gung-gung-gung," Kyle
sings tenderly: it means "boom boom boom," and refers I think to his
Hears the opening
music of his second-favorite TV show, "Wheel of Fortune." With a
delighted roar he rushes to the TV, swinging the washcloth and
shouting. Stands in front of the TV, clapping his hands and bobbing in
time to the music. Then he abruptly waves, says "Bye bye!" to Pat and
Vanna and stalks off. Finds his football in the dining room and starts
throwing it around, laughing. Gets himself tangled in the dining room
draperies, then deliberately hides behind them and shouts something
that sounds like "My MY BALL!" Coming out from behind the curtains, he
has his football in his mouth and is hitting it with his hands. He puts
the ball into a toy wagon. An empty box catches his attention next: he
puts the football into that and lugs it around for a while, until the
football falls out. Kyle turns the box around in his hands and examines
it. Then he notices Courtney, who is playing quietly by the toybox. He
crawls over to her, and they promptly begin to tussle over an empty
plastic mug. They scream at each other. Kyle grabs the mug, and
Courtney bops him over the head with a baby doll. He screeches at her.
She reaches over and hits him with her hand. "No NO!" Kyle yells
frantically, looking at me to see if I'm paying attention. "No
Courtney!" I say sternly. Kyle, buoyed by his Mama's attention, swats
Courtney on the rear and says "No no BAD BOY."
comes back and
clobbering Kyle again, only this time he smacks her back. Soon they are
both screaming like banshees, but just as I am poised to interfere they
break it up on their own. Kyle goes back to playing with the washcloth,
and Courtney climbs onto the loveseat and picks up a storybook. Kyle
bats at the TV, swings the washcloth around some more (I'm getting
really tired of writing about the frigging washcloth). Kyle laughs,
says "Bad boy!" to nobody special, swings the washcloth around (sigh),
picks up an abandoned Barbie and carries her out of the room, murmuring
"Baby, baby, baby." A moment later he is standing next to my chair,
hitting me on the leg with the Barbie doll. He pulls at my typewriter
cord. "No way!" I tell him. He throws Barbie onto the floor (so there)
and picks up my yellow dustpan, a favorite plaything these days. He
walks over to where Courtney is sitting, and for a moment I'm afraid he
intends to bonk her on the head with the dustpan. Instead, the two of
them start tearing little pieces of paper out of the storybook. There
is a moment of companionable toddler silence, which, sadly, is too good
to last ... the next minute they are fighting over the book. Courtney
hits him squarely over the head with it; Kyle, exasperated, yanks the
book out of her hands; Courtney bursts into anguished tears. "Come
here, Honey," I say to her, and she toddles in a rush to my arms. I hug
and kiss her. Kyle is furious!
dare Mama show
runs over, grabs
the shoulder and shoves her to the floor, where she bursts into a fresh
round of tears. Distressed, Kyle looks at me, and then he begins to
sob. He didn't mean to get so carried away, I can tell. I decide it's
definitely time for a cookie break. Tearfully, Kyle and Courtney each
grab a vanilla wafer from my hand and scurry off in opposite directions
Kyle had a
with his little playmate, Courtney
August 14, 1987
fingers in the bathroom door yesterday - the hinge side of the door -
Ray had to rush him over to the Riverton emergency room and have it
x-rayed. Kyle lost the nail on the ring finger of his right hand, but
fortunately that was the extent of the injury. I was so frightened.
(And poor little Kacie was beside herself.) Kyle is so incredibly dear
to Ray and I ... seeing him hurt and scared like that was like a knife
in the heart. Thank goodness today he's completely back to normal,
except that his finger is very tender of course, and he keeps pulling
his Band-Aids off.
been raining all
gets a little crazy in this apartment with five tots running around.
morning, 6 a.m.
September 3, 1987
(This entry is typewritten and glued to the journal pages)
drops Courtney off at 5:45 each
morning. Usually I can manage to coax her right back to sleep, and then
I crawl into bed and get three more hours' sleep myself. This morning,
though, I didn't feel like going back to bed. I'm in the second day of
my period, and I'm feeling achey and restless. Jamie and Kacie are both
snuggled warmly under the covers in my bed, Courtney is in the crib.
Ray and Kyle are together in the girls' room. Everyone is sleeping
soundly but me. I'm sitting out here in the chilly kitchen, perched on
my barstool at the kitchen counter. I can hear the neighbors upstairs,
creeping around. ("Creep" being the operative word.) Except for their
obtrusive presence, I feel totally alone in the world. The apartment
complex, usually teeming with noise, is wonderfully, blissfully silent.
I just peeked outside, through the patio curtains: everything is gray
and still, and huge heavy clouds hang in the sky above the D building
to the east. Summer is ending. Yesterday, for the first time in weeks,
I actually had to put sweaters on the girls before they went to Sandy's
birthday party. Some of the relentless heat of August has dissipated,
much to my (annual) relief, and this morning I can almost feel the
first twinge of autumn in the air, if I try hard enough ...
Should I put on a pot of coffee,
turn on the early morning news, and commit to staying up? I could
probably type nine or ten pages before anyone else even stirred. It
WOULD be nice to have some time to myself. Isn't that what I'm always
griping about - never having enough "alone time"? I'm surrounded by
kids all day long, and sometimes it feels like they're just going to
pick me up and carry me away, like a bunch of ants carting off a picnic
watermelon. Most of the time I feel completely overrun by kids and
babies. So here I am, with this great opportunity to be by myself for a
while and start my day in a wonderfully unpressured way, and what am I
thinking about doing ... ? Slipping back into that warm bed, next to my
daughters, and just laying there ... not sleeping, maybe, but just
laying there ...
how I am? I can never make up my mind
have so much to say, and this seems to be
the only way to say things anymore - typing, I mean. I'm very pleased
to have a typewriter again, especially one this nice and quiet and
portable and modern ... but I still feel a certain loss. It used to be
so easy to just pick up a pen and scribble anything in my journal that
came to mind. It was second nature. Now I practically have to force
myself to sign a birthday card. It feels like the days of spontaneous,
easy writing are a thing of the past. This just seems little more ... artificial,
I suppose ...
well. If it ain't broke - don't fix it.
least I'm WRITING.
slogging my way through life. One of
drawbacks of being the family financial manager is that I'm now
thinking about money every waking hour. I can't seem to stop. I'll be
bathing Kyle and thinking "How much in the checking account?" Or I'll
be fixing peanut butter sandwiches, and my head will be ticking off
numbers and dates - "$11.83 to Puget Power, due on the 10th ... " It's
driving me nuts. In a way, I think I was happier - certainly less
consumed - when I let Ray "handle" things. They say ignorance is bliss.
Then I never knew for sure how much money we had, and I just assumed
that it would all be taken care of. Now I not only know how much money
we have, I've got it nailed right down to the last PENNY. What's worse,
now I have to be the disciplinarian where the money is concerned. At
first I thought this was going to be easy ... I figured that I could
become a real miser with no sweat ... no frivolous purchases, no
impulse buying ... every spare penny, straight into the bank. Tain't
so. Much to my amazement (and chagrin), the instant I became the family
banker I blew it, right off the bat. I would say that I probably
flushed $250 right down the john last month, thanks to stupid,
impulsive spending. I'm trying to do better this month. This is the
last month (more than likely) that I'll be receiving a welfare check,
so there's a little extra in our checking account. I'm going to try
like hell to make it STAY there. Our rent is already paid, at least.
And Ray is being pretty good about putting three-quarters of his
paycheck into the bank every two weeks. He gripes a little, but I think
that underneath it all he's relieved to have me take over. The only
thing that never seems to go as far as it should are our food dollars.
We never seem to have enough food in the place. No one's going hungry,
and the kids are eating very well, but it just seems like we're forever
running out of something, and that means another trip to the grocery
store, and there I am again, feverishly tallying up receipts and bank
balances in my head ...
suppose someone ought to say, "Welcome to
the adult world, Terri!"
I did it -- I went back to bed,
after seven. Kacie was laying in the middle of my bed, with her eyes
half open and her mouth ajar, sound asleep, looking for all the world
like Sylvester, the petrified guy at Ye Olde Curiousity Shoppe ...
slept for about an hour, until Courtney
woke up and started hitting the sides of the crib with her empty
bottle. I kept hissing at her to "lay down and be quiet!" so she
wouldn't wake the girls, but pretty soon she managed to turn on the
raccoon radio that Jamie had left in the crib, so we all got up. Kacie
and I pretended that it was Christmas morning, and we came running out
to the living room to open our "presents." "Hey, I got a See 'n Say!"
she shouted ...
had Fruit Islands Cereal for
Jamie had the last of the Cocoa Puffs. Just as I'd finished dishing up
the cereal, I heard noises coming from down the hallway - knocking from
the inside of the girls' bedroom door, followed by singing. Jamie and I
smiled at each other: Kyle was up! Lately Kyle has become quite the
Pavarotti of the diaper set! I don't think I've ever heard a baby sing
the way he does. He can actually carry a tune! His repertoire at the
moment includes "I'm Lookin' For A New Love" (he sings the "yah, yah,
YAH" part) and the lullaby I sing him every night, "Pretty Baby."
all the kids had eaten breakfast, I
turned on MTV. Right away they played the new Heart song/video that
Jamie and I like, "Who Will You Run To." When it was over, Jamie said
"Mom, wouldn't it be funny if Heart was going around and knocking on
peoples' doors and VISITING them?" I said yeah, that would be quite a
surprise alright. "What would you say to them if they knocked on your
door?" I asked her, and she said "I'd say, 'What the HECK??' "
babies (Kyle and Courtney) are in the
hallway now, fighting (as usual) over toys. Courtney has become quite
aggressive lately about taking things away from Henry, and despite the
fact that he's twice her size - at least in weight! - he still runs to
me every time and "complains." He'll give me this stricken look and
babble something in Kyle-ese and have me follow him to wherever
Courtney is, and then he'll look at me as if to say "Look what SHE
did!" She also has started taking his bottle away from him, but he's
times more possessive of his bottles than he is of his toys, and he
won't hesitate to knock her down and yank it out of her hands. (A
screaming match immediately ensues. You haven't heard ANYTHING until
you've heard two one-year-olds screeching at each other. You need a
hearing aid afterwards.)
bits and pieces of our morning ...
September 11, 1987
Cloudy, cool morning.
apartment smells of coffee and honey-date muffins; Madonna is singing
"Dress You Up" on MTV. Jamie is in the tub, washing her hair for
school; Kacie is sitting at the table, gnawing on a muffin and talking
to herself about the picture she's drawing. She addresses an occasional
comment to me. ("When all your
kids are in 'cool, then you say 'I'm
all alone,' and Daddy's at work, right Mom?") I
hammering noises coming from the girls' bedroom down the hall - I think
Henry is awake ...
I was right. He was
twisting the doorknob and laughing, so I opened the door and he came
scampering out, like a hamster out of his cage. Now he's seated in his
highchair, solemnly working on a bowl of Alpha Bits. (Eating is serious
business!) He whacks his spoon against the tray of his highchair ...
grabs a handful of Alpha Bits and puts them in his mouth, chewing in
slow-motion while gazing absently out the window ...
I can hear Jamie singing
the tub. Today will be her fourth day of kindergarten, and so far she's
washed her hair every morning. Last weekend my new girlfriend Cindy cut
Jamie's hair for me - just a bit above her shoulders, with short bangs.
After Jamie washes her hair, I dry it and set it with electric rollers.
It comes out looking quite cute, sort of a "Dutch bob." Jamie leaves
for school every day looking like she just stepped out of a children's
clothing catalog. She's been as fastidious about her clothing
selections as she's been about her hair. The first day she wore her new
school dress, a purple & blue plaid; the second day, new jeans
a clean blouse; yesterday, a turquoise and white pants outfit she
"borrowed" from Kacie. And just now she emerged from the bathroom
wearing a crisp white blouse, skirt and white knee socks ...
As I have predicted all
summer, Jamie fell in love with school the moment she first stepped
into the classroom. After months of fear and uncertainty, she has
discovered that kindergarten is everything Mom said it would be - and
she is filled with excitement at the discovery. It is ALL she talks
There are three other
little girls from our apartment complex in her class, including her
best friend Sandy, and that helps. And I went with her on her first
day, which eased some of her anxiety. Her teacher, Mr. Gallagher, is
young and enthusiastic and gifted with children, and the classroom is
huge and well-equipped and filled with toys and books. Jamie's eyes lit
up when she walked through the door. Mr. Gallagher shook her hand and
introduced himself and pinned a name tag on her blouse, and then she
and Sandy ran around exploring the classroom. I sat on one of those
teeny-tiny little chairs in the back of the classroom, trying to be
unobtrusive. (Parents were invited to stay for the first hour, but I
was one of only about four or five moms who showed up.) There are
probably thirty or thirty-five kids in her class altogether, but
naturally I only had eyes for Jamie. She was easily the cutest kid in
the class. It'll only be a matter of time before her teacher discovers
that she's the brightest, too ... !
(I'm not all biased
here, of course.)
Orange object at bottom of photo is her beloved Cabbage Patch doll,
she's also got her blanky ("Liddle Diddle") stashed in her backpack.
September 12, 1987
Another drizzly day.
all got sloppy head colds. Stephanie is working today (and tomorrow) so
I've got Courtney all weekend. My plans for this day include cleaning
the girls' room - it's unbelievably filthy - and possibly going to the
library this afternoon, after Courtney goes home.
(Just took a picture of
Kyle, sitting on his little yellow car, wearing his sunsuit and hat.)
September 18, 1987
My life has undergone
major changes in the past week, but I've been too depressed - really
depressed, I mean, not just one of my periodic "mood dips" - to write
anything. It has felt as though suddenly EVERYTHING has slipped beyond
my control. Hi Ray.
Over a month later.
for my coffee to brew, watching Jamie eat her oatmeal, waiting for the
deluge of children to begin ... Terry will be here in a few minutes,
and later I'm watching all of Wacky Wanda's kids while she goes to pay
her gas bill ... I hate this pen ...
I don't babysit for
Stephanie anymore. As a matter of fact, she and I aren't even friends
anymore - a sad but irrevocable fact. This is what I was so "depressed"
about in my last entry. Even now, a month later, I'm still finding it
difficult to write about: the pain is still there. So is the anger.
After she and I had our disagreement she fired me without any warning
... and without paying me for nearly a hundred dollars' worth of
babysitting she still owed me. An entire YEAR of my life, committed to
Courtney, and boom, she fires me, just like that. The
"disagreement" was over the fact that she
dropped by one night, unexpectedly, and caught me drunk and coked-up
with Ray. In retrospect I don't blamer her at all for firing
but at the time I was very hurt.
As much as I grieved for
the friendship, I was also thrown into a panic about what this would do
to our finances. How would we get along without her babysitting money?
We're just barely skimming along by the seat of our pants as it is ...
To make things worse, we
suffered two more crushing financial blows, one right after the other:
my welfare was cut off two weeks sooner than I'd anticipated - I was
counting on receiving one last check, and it hurt us when I didn't -
and then someone stole $300 from us, two weeks ago. I know exactly who
it was, my new "friend" Cindy and her creepy boyfriend Tony, but I
can't prove it ... and I can't get it back. All of this stuff
has left me ten times more obsessed with finances than I was to begin
A couple of weeks after
stopped babysitting for Stephanie, I managed to line up a new job
caring for two little boys. Jerome is 4 (Kacie's age) and Andre is a
month younger than Kyle. Their mother Erin pays me every other Friday.
So far the arrangement has worked out fairly well, and Erin has been
paying me more or less on time. She's sick this week, though, so I
haven't had the boys for three days.
Jamie, Kacie and Little
Terry are sitting in the living room now, watching "Sesame Street" and
bickering occasionally among themselves. Kyle should be waking shortly,
and Wacky Wanda is due to drop off her brood any minute. Since
I "broke up," it's been kind of slim pickings, friend-wise. There is no
one female that I feel particularly close to (except for my sister,
maybe, who I've been seeing a lot of lately.) I am purposely
maintaining a "mostly business" relationship with both Tammy and Erin,
the women for whom I babysit ... I think that a lot of the trouble
between Stephanie and I, and the thing that ultimately blew up in my
face, was mixing close personal friendship and a business relationship,
and I'm not going to make that mistake again. Some of the women around
the complex are OK, but there is no one I feel truly "friends" with. I
liked Cindy, until she and her evil boyfriend ripped me off. Wanda is
alright, but she's so dumb about everything that it gets on my nerves
after awhile. I'm no great brain myself, but she makes me look like
Albert Einstein ...
I miss having a good
to talk to.
Kyle is up now. He's
sitting in his highchair, contemplating a bowl of Ice Cream Cones
Cereal and kicking his feet. He woke up in a good mood.
("Dih-dih-dih-dih-DIH!" he croons happily, his mouth full of cereal,
milk dribbling down his chin.)
It's really foggy this
morning. Fall is here, and I've hardly noticed it this year. I miss
Kirkland. I especially miss Kirkland in October. I wonder if the big
tree in front of Mr. Pierce's house has changed color yet? I used to
get so much pleasure, this time of year, watching that tree cycle
through the seasons. It was huge, broad and leafy, and when the leaves
turned gold and red it was a glorious sight to behold. There are no
trees here in the apartment complex - no leafy trees, anyway, just a
few anemic evergreens here and there. You can't watch an evergreen
change color! Maybe that's why I've barely noticed autumn's arrival
this year - because the view from my apartment window is so uninspiring
- just evergreens, a swimming pool that's been covered for the winter,
and more apartments ... nary a leafy tree to be seen ...
October 22, 1987
The next day. Jamie and
just had our first major skirmish of the morning - she threw a tantrum
because I gave her Cocoa Puffs when she wanted OATMEAL. Geez. Life is
so hard when you're five years old, isn't it???
Another thickly foggy
morning, but the interior of the apartment feels warm and cozy. Jerome
and Andre are here today: the girls are sitting at the table, coloring:
Kyle is still in bed: Terry isn't here yet. I heave a quiet sigh of
relief as I sip my first cup of coffee: it's FRIDAY.
October 27, 1987
Tired. Sipping a
late-in-the-day, last ditch cup of coffee in an effort to revive
myself. Nearly 5 p.m., starting to get dark outside. Just threw some
potatoes into the oven for the kids' supper later - they'll have them
with sliced hotdogs in BBQ sauce (I'm calling them "Hallo-Weenies") and
leftover cake from last night. Terry W. just went home for the day ...
Jerome and Andre will be here for another hour, probably. The kids are
all sitting out in the living room watching Donald Duck cartoons on the
Disney channel; I'm "hiding out, here in my kitchen. Kyle hasn't had
much of a nap since before lunchtime, and he's crabby as hell. A few
minutes ago he deliberately started a fight with Jamie over a bag of
pumpkin seeds; when she managed to grab it away from him, he broke into
anguished wails. Then he promptly launched a new attack - this time on
Kacie, trying to get the nickel she was holding in her hand. When THAT
didn't work, he ran and grabbed the broom out of the kitchen, lugged it
out to the living room and started swinging it at the other kids ...
So much of consequence
my mind these days ... and not all of it is purely financial, either
... I'm concerned about a lot of things. I'm worried about living in
this apartment for another year - or two. Will we ever be in a house
again? I worry about the kids, all the time ... I worry that they'll
grow up too quickly, or too haphazardly, or that something will happen
to them and they won't grow up at all. I worry about my health (the
cyst on my left hand, the pace of my weekends recently) - that I might
not even live to see the kids grow up.
October 29, 1987
The usual mid-morning
bedlam prevails ...
I should probably
a word or two about things with Ray, just to let you know how the
reconcilliation is working out. I realized something the other day. It
occurred to me that most of the reason I couldn't stand having Ray
around this apartment, a year or so ago, was because he wasn't SUPPOSED
to be here. From a legal standpoint, I mean. Technically we were
separated, and I was constantly terrified that the welfare people or
the apartment manager or someone in my family would see him hanging
around here on the weekends and misinterpret, and then my ass would be
in a sling. Now a lot of those restrictions have been lifted - I'm
officially off welfare, and although Ray still isn't on the lease, the
manager knows he's living here. And so does most of my family. And I'm
a great deal more relaxed (and tolerant) about him being here, as a
result. I'm not looking over my shoulder all the time.
Our marriage still has
than its share of mediocre moments. But at least it's become a MARRIAGE
again, and we can work on the rest.
November 6, 1987
A week later. All three
my kids - Kyle included - are sitting at the breakfast table, sucking
on warm blueberry muffins and jabbering at each other.
(Journal ends here ... some odds & ends follow)
Check coupons for:
- Eggo waffles (99
products (99 cents)
pickles, 46 oz.
1 lb. (2.49)
Whiz, 16 oz. (2.59)
Singles, 8 oz.
Mayo (89 cents)
Wan frozen dinners
detergent (1.99, 42
two pieces of
chicken are already packed in her lunch box, so go ahead and have the
drumstick if you want it. Jerome and Andre left at 9:00. They'll be
here tomorrow around 10 a.m. (Terry will be here at 9:30). I've got to
get Jamie to school by 9:00
for her field trip.
taped The Fly. Just
rewind the tape all the way to the beginning.
for Jamie to get a pop or whatever.
During This Journal:
"Heart & Soul" -
"Respect Yourself" - Bruce Willis
"You Can't Make Love" - Don Henley
"You Are The Voice" - John Fordham
to throw a rock?