September 14, 1991
working today. I heard his alarm go off this morning at 5:30
a.m., but he was in such a deep sleep that HE didn't hear it. The girls and I were sleeping in the living
room, and the sound of the alarm woke both Jamie and I. She
ran into the bedroom and shut it off, then she poked her dad in the
back a couple of times and told him to "get up." He was gone
half an hour later. I crawled into my big, warm bed next to
my snoozing son and we all slept for another three hours.
Woke up again at 9 a.m. to sunny skies, a good mood and a long lazy
Saturday stretching out ahead of us. On days like this,
anything seems possible ...
Hello, new journal!
making a resolution, here and now: this journal is going to be a lot
less heavy-handed and a lot more fun and anecdotal than the last one
was. This past year -- from Sept. 1990
till now -- has been one of the toughest and most
emotionally-wrenching years of my life, and that last journal reflected
that. Today I feel as though some of the clouds are
lifting. Please God ... let good things
be ahead for this family, finally ...
standing at the kitchen sink washing dishes, watching my children
playing in the morning sunshine. Jamie and Kacie look so
impossibly tall and long-legged, like young colts: Kyle so little and
plump next to them, forever and always our 'baby.' They are
playing with the brightly colored plastic balls Ray bought them at Pay
'N Save last night ... trying to hit them back and
forth across the clothesline in a makeshift game of
volleyball. I am seized suddenly with an irresistible urge to
join them, so I leave my sink full of dirty dishes, and I dash outside
to the backyard, shouting "C'mon! Who's gonna serve
first?!" They are surprised, then
delighted, and for the next fifteen minutes we play an
uproariously inept game of "bolly-ball" (as Kacie calls
it). Pete, our elderly next-door neighbor, looks on in
amusement ... )
are some of my hopes for the coming year -- things
I would like to see happen during the time covered in this journal:
move into Grandma's house with a minimum of emotional and financial
- All three of the
kids have a good year in
school. Jamie finds that special "best friend" she's always
wanted; Kacie's reading and writing skills continue to improve; Kyle's
year in kindergarten lays a solid foundation for the rest of his
- The babysitting
business stays regular and
profitable; Cody becomes something less of a handful.
- We have a MUCH
better Christmas than last
year!! Doesn't have to be perfect, doesn't have to be
extravagant; just better.
that would improve our quality
of life: decent living room furniture, dual-cassette tape deck (for
Mommy), VCR, new winter boots for everybody.
September 16, 1991
babysitting schedule starts today: Mak, Danielle and Cody all get here
at the same time in the morning, leave at the same time in the
afternoon (7:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m.) This pleases
me ... no more odd hours and disruptions in the
routine, I hope.
and sunny: it's supposed to be up in the 80's all week. One
last blast of "summer" before autumn begins in
earnest. Kyle is already dressed for
school -- shorts and a T-shirt
-- and is kicking a ball around the back porch, singing
softly to himself. Today he will walk to school by himself
for the very first time. Since school began almost three
weeks ago, he's either ridden to the classroom with Janet &
Joey, or else Jamie has come home at lunchtime and walked him to the
bus stop. But today we're going to see how he does on his
own. I must admit that I'm a little nervous about it, but
it's only a couple of blocks and he'll probably be just fine.
-- just woke up from an INTENSE one-hour nap, and now I feel
totally disoriented! Kyle left for school at 12:15 and I
watched him walk up the road until he was out of sight: then I was
suddenly overcome with drowsiness and had to lay down on the couch for
a while. Mak, Danielle and Cody were all napping, so I have
in to the urge to join them. Must've been the busy weekend
and the cold pill I took this morning. Drinking leftover
coffee now in an effort to jolt myself back to normal, but I still feel
are eating dinner -- spaghetti, salad, bread
& butter -- I am sitting here in my
"office," eavesdropping on their conversation.
(Kacie: "How old was Terry Solo when I was about, um,
one?" Kyle: "Maybe she was FIFTY.") This
has been a long, hot, sweaty, lazy day, and the evening breeze coming
through the open back door is delicious ...
five loads of laundry today, anyway, and got most of the house picked
up. So the day wasn't a total write-off, in spite of the
September 17, 1991
is ready for school ... a "vision" in black
& white polka-dots, hair neatly brushed, lunch sack in
"You have a pb&j sandwich, half a cherry pie,
some cucumbers and a little bag of chips," I tell her. "Will
that be enough?" (
Apparently not, because she grabs an apple
out of the bowl on the kitchen table -- "Man, these
are SMALL!" she says -- and drops it into her bag.)
biggest problem Kacie and I have these days is the same problem we've
always had: my impatience with her. (Which makes it less
"her" problem and more "mine," I suppose.) We operate on
different wavelengths most of the time. She does things in a
more leisurely, thoughtful way, while I expect results RIGHT
NOW. I hear myself snapping at her in impatience, and I
cringe: why can't I just allow her to move at her own pace?
is a "Kacie" example:
time for the girls to leave for school, and Kacie's hair still hasn't
"Kacie!!" I shout. "Find a hairbrush
and come here so I can do your hair!" She disappears into the
bedroom while I sit and wait.
Five minutes later
... I'm still waiting.
"KAAAAAAAAAAAA-CIE!" I wail
in frustration. "Come ON!!!!"
out of the bedroom and sits down in the chair next to me, looking
confused. "Where is your BRUSH?" I say, exasperated, and she
leaps out of the chair.
"Oh yah," she says. "I
forgot." And she runs back into the bedroom while I sit,
thinks and "moves" more nearly at my frenetic speed, yet our
relationship is no less prickly. Lately I'm on her about
washed her hair last night, and
when I come out to my "office" this morning I find that she has thrown
her bath towel across my desk and left it there overnight.
"Oh, this is nice," I say sarcastically, and I hand her the towel to be
hung up in the bathroom.
"SORRY," she says, rolling her eyes,
and I walk away to fix breakfast. Two minutes later I walk
into the laundry room again and see that the towel
-- still perfectly clean, only slightly damp
-- has been tossed into a basket of dirty laundry.
"Jamie!" I shout. "This isn't exactly what I had in
mind!" And I throw the towel at her.
says again, in that infuriatingly snide tone of voice she has recently
affected -- the tone that says "For the love of
God, Mother, you are such a complete, hysterical nincompoop"
-- and I feel like turning her snotty behind over my
motherhood delightful?? Ain't we havin' SOME FUN
now ... ??
terrifies me is the knowledge that this is only the
beginning! Jamie is clearly approaching puberty --
all the signs are there -- and Kacie can't be too
far behind. They are still my beautiful, precious,
dearly-beloved "ladies" ... my best little friends,
comrades in beauty pageants & "All My Children," my sounding
boards, my helpers, my allies ... but God help us
all when they both hit adolescence ...
One thing that makes this all so hard for me personally is the feeling
I have that I'm flying by the seat of my pants. When it comes
to mothering pre-teen and teenage daughters, I not only have no
experience -- I also have no role model.
I had no "mom" during my own teen years. It pains me to say
anything bad about my mother because of the high regard I have for her
now, but the truth is that I felt her absence keenly while I was going
through puberty. Grandma was there for most of my early
childhood, but I was only fourteen when I moved out of her house and
moved in with my dad. I spent most of my teen years living
alone with my bachelor father ... Mom's presence in
my life was mostly incidental. There was no female role
model/authority figure telling me how to dress and wear makeup,
what to eat, riding me about my schoolwork, helping me with boys and
dating, providing an example of womanhood -- an
example that I could be drawing on now, as my own daughters approach
those bumpy adolescent years. There is no one to "blame"
here -- it's simply the way life turned out, and
there isn't much I can do about it now -- but I've
always wondered what I missed, not having a mother around, and I can't
help but imagine how much differently my life might have turned out if
she'd been there.
my point is that I'm mostly making up this mothering stuff as I go
along, and it's scary. I seem to have done OK so far, but the
roughest years are still ahead. At the most, I'd like to see
Jamie and Kacie grow into well-adjusted, happy young women
who enjoy a close and loving relationship with their mother.
At the least, I'd like them to get through adolescence in one piece and
hope they're still speaking to me afterwards ...
headachey, grumpy. Wishing, for the first time since he
changed work schedules, that Ray was back on swingshift
tonight. He keeps badgering me, trying to draw me into
conversation, and I just want to be left alone. Or else he's
outside shouting at the kids ("OUT! OUT OF MY CAR!!") and the
sound reverberates through my skull like a cannonball.
sausage and macaroni salad for dinner but don't feel like eating any of
it. A sore throat is beginning, and I just plain feel like
crud. Three more long days of babysitting ahead.
September 18, 1991
throat persists, although the pain seems lodged mainly in one tiny spot
below my jaw and nowhere else. I slept OK
-- on the sofa, where I always sleep. The sun is
shining again this morning; another long day stretches out
ahead. Too early to tell what kind of mood I'm in, although I
know right now that Cody is going to be a fussy handful.
Andrea dropped him off an hour and a half ago, and I can just tell by
the gleam in his eyes that he's going to squeeze the juice right out of
me today ...
love Cody around here. He will be three months old in a
couple of days. He's a funny, fat, pale baby with enormous
blue eyes and a shock of bright orange hair that I've jokingly
described as looking like a bad toupee.
he's pretty easygoing and happy most of the time, but he has problems
eating sometimes and it's a major undertaking getting him to burp after
a feeding; already this morning he's managed to 'urp' all over the
front of my tank top. My hope is that the next couple of
months will pass quickly, that he'll get to the stage where he can sit
up by himself and becomes a little easier to take care of. At
this point I literally have to watch him every minute while he's
awake. Nothing else ever gets done, as a
result. (Like me going to the bathroom, for
instance.) Still, it's not a totally awful way to make a
living. I'm making about forty bucks a day, and I get to stay
at home: those are the benefits. I'm here in the morning to
get my kids ready for school, and I'm here in the afternoons when they
come home. That means a lot to me. When Kyle leaves
for school at 12:30, all three of the "little ones" (Danielle, Mak and
Cody) usually nap for an hour or so, sometimes longer, so I do manage
to carve out a tiny bit of time for myself. As long as things
stay regular, the days and hours remain the same and the parents I sit
for don't drop any new bombshells on me (pregnancy, moving, being
fired), I'll continue to do this for a living without (much)
complaint. It beats slinging burgers at Jack in the Box,
Now I know why I've been so tired and cranky these past couple of
days ... my period is starting. This
comes as something of a relief: there was a slim chance I might've been
preg again (I'll skip the revolting details, if you don't mind), but we
got lucky, I guess. Whew.
got off the phone from talking to my friend, Velma Ogden. Now
is an interesting woman. You have
NO idea. Our friendship began accidentally,
about a year ago. Her daughter Angela and Kacie were in the
same ballet class, and Velma called me one night
-- we'd never met -- to complain that
Kacie and Angela were goofing off before and after class, running up
and down the hallways screaming and stuff. Velma was really
pleasant about it, but I thought Geez, this lady's got some
nerve! But I agreed that Kacie had no business running
around like a banshee, and Velma and I came up with this idea to send
schoolbooks with the girls next week. They could sit and read
while they were waiting for class instead of running around.
A few weeks later, Velma called to complain AGAIN about something
Kacie had done ... I don't recall what this time,
specifically, although I think it was something she'd said at school
that had hurt Angela's feelings. Again she was very nice
about it, but I was still thinking This lady is a total pain in the
ass. The funny thing is, though, that was enjoying
our phone conversations! I mean, I didn't enjoy her running
to me with every little thing Kacie did or said to set Angela off, but
the fact is that we talked about a lot of other things, too, and I
began to see some warmth and humor there. For one thing, she was
obviously very committed to her daughter. For another, she
listened to my side of things and was willing to give Kacie the benefit
of the doubt. We kept calling each other occasionally (still
hadn't met face-to-face), and we developed an odd sort of "phone
friendship" that went on for a few months. When we finally
met each other in person, it was instant friendship. We're
the same age, we have a lot of things in common --
her first husband was a guy who grew up across the street from
me -- and we generally seem to view the world and
childraising similarly. Over the past few months, she has
proven to be a valuable and generous friend -- she
remembers every occasion with a card or a gift, including Grandma's
recent death and our wedding anniversary in August
-- she is always willing to listen when I have a
problem -- she even came over here one time last
spring when we were having money problems (while I wasn't babysitting
for a few weeks) and brought us four enormous bags of
groceries. When Grandma's will arrived in the mail, Velma
was the one who came over and helped me decipher the
legalese. Little things like that.
are still things we don't agree about. Velma is from the
South, originally, and is unselfconsciously prejudiced; she is
particularly appalled by interracial marriage and mixed-race children
(Jerome & André, for example) and I find that
unattractive. She's also a little stricter with Angela than I
am with my girls. But she's still a good friend, warts and
all, and I feel lucky to have found her. I doubt
husband could say the same.
September 19, 1991
shit. I thought
my period was
starting ... even went out and bought Tampax last
night. But so far it seems to have been a false
alarm. I'm not going to panic yet, but I wish the stupid
thing would be over and done with already. The uncertainty
makes me nervous.
Kacie and I went to Andrea's baby shower last night. It was
fun, but I didn't know anybody there except Andrea and her mom, and I
felt a little awkward. Situations like that always make me
uneasy. We stayed long enough to play a couple of silly party
games (I won a prize for one game -- you had to
write funny captions beneath photos of babies -- I
won a ceramic "scent ring," which you put on top of a lightbulb to
scent the room), eat some cake and watch Andrea open presents for
Cody. I never had a chance to shop for the party, so we just
gave her a check for $15. It seemed like a good idea at the
time, but then I saw the big pile of beautifully-wrapped gifts that
everyone else had brought and I felt pretty stupid. Oh
Ray picked us up after the shower and we came home and
watched the season opener of "Quantum Leap." It was one of
the best episodes I've ever seen, with Sam finally regaining his memory
and coming home for a while, but it wasn't over until 11:00 and I'm
tired this morning as a result (so what else is new).
day has taken a turn for the worse. I wasn't supposed to have
Josh OR Mak today until much later in the afternoon, but things got
screwed up and now I not only have Mak, who is a weepy mess after an
unpleasant doctor's appointment, but Josh was just sent here too
because he was "acting up" in school. So he's sitting on the
sofa now in a sullen rage. Great.
is the most hostile, disruptive, infuriating little boy I've ever
known. He's what they call an "ADD child"
-- Attention Deficit Disorder -- what
they used to call "hyperactive." Medication keeps it under
control most of the time, but all the Ritalin in the world does nothing
to soothe that angry little heart, beating inside of him. He
clearly despises me, and he despises my kids, and whenever he's here
it's like a dark cloud is hanging over all of us. I don't
like writing things like this about the children in my care, because
basically I'm a good babysitter and I try to see the positive things
within every child I watch. But Josh is just an impossible
case. It's gotten to the point where we don't even speak to
each other half the time: he gets here in the afternoons after school,
lets me know he's here, and then sits outside in the backyard for two
hours until his dad comes to pick him up. I long ago quit
trying to talk to him or include him in things, because he won't let
me. He goes home and tells his parents that he 'hates' me,
and that he hates coming here, but Karen tells me he's that way about
everybody, basically, and that I shouldn't feel singled out.
Still, it makes babysitting an unpleasant chore, and that's too bad,
because (as I've said before) this isn't a bad way to make a living,
September 20, 1991
was a real jerk last night. I made a really nice dinner for
everybody -- fried chicken, mashed potatoes and
gravy, the works -- and we'd all settled into a
pleasantly laid-back evening of TV and conversation. Then the
toilet backed up. From Ray's overblown reaction, you'd have
thought the world had ended. He was yelling at everybody,
making this ridiculously theatrical show of mopping up the floor,
throwing towels around, etc. etc. I asked him why on earth he
was making such a big deal out of it.
to CARE!" he snapped.
said, "Well, YOU seem to be making
enough of a fuss for everyone else combined."
to bed without saying another word to anyone. The girls and I
stayed up and watched TV for another hour, and then we all slept in the
living room. When I got up this morning I halfway expected to
find a note of apology from him, but of course there wasn't
any. He is so exasperatingly infantile.
guess what bothered me the most about last night wasn't the
histrionics; it wasn't him slamming off to bed without
apologizing. It was the fact that he never said a word about
the dinner! Not even a "Gee this is good," or a simple
"Thanks," even ... just a lot of ranting and raving
about the mess, and about "the turds THIS BIG" he had to clean
up. (He should try babysitting a three month old.)
he chokes on a chicken bone at lunch today.
started on Thursday, by the way. It's finally beginning to
dawn on me that I'm really not going to
be having any more children, am I? I've been saying as much
for years now, since I was pregnant with Kyle even
-- that three children were "it" for Ray and me
-- but in the back of my mind there was always this little
question mark ... this little "window of
possibility," left cracked open. I'm not saying that the
window is completely closed, even now. But I can hear the
hinges creaking. Every year that passes, the window closes a
little more. Before too much longer, it will be nailed
(talking about Grandma Vert): "When I see her in Heaven,
maybe I'll be her Cookie Boy again." (This one made me cry. It
still does in 2008.)
"Hey, what are you doin' on my lap again?"
Kyle: "That's what little boys are SUPPOSED to do!"
September 23, 1991
even noon yet on a Monday morning, and already things are beginning to
fray around the edges. Jamie was just sent home sick from
school, and Kyle is sounding pretty congested as well
-- I doubt that he'll go to kindergarten today. I
thought I was going to get a lot of housework done today (if you open
the hall closet, you start an avalanche), but instead it looks like
I'll be doing the Florence Nightingale thing. Oh
It's no wonder Jamie isn't feeling well
... she had the busiest weekend on record. (So did
Kacie, for that matter, but so far she doesn't seem to be feeling
sick.) Friday night Jay went to a church-sponsored slumber
party; Saturday was Angela's birthday party; Saturday night both the
girls spent the night at Tracy's; and yesterday they spent the day at
the Puyallup Fair with Tracy and her Aunt Sandy. Talk about a
whirlwind of activity! No wonder she's feeling run-down and
susceptible to this flu bug that's going around. I've got her
laying on the sofa now, watching a movie with Kyle. (We
rented a VCR yesterday and Velma loaned us some tapes, so we've been
watching movies like crazy: last night we finally got to see "Edward
Scissorhands," and right now they're watching "The Secret of NIMH.")
feeling pretty crummy myself on Saturday -- sore
throat and a headache, mostly -- but it seems to
have subsided a bit. I'm still so TIRED all the time,
though. It's as though all of the sap has been drained right
out of me. If I don't take at least a one hour nap in the
afternoons, I'm totally incapacitated for the rest of the day; and even
with a nap, I still feel sluggish and out-of-sorts most of the
time. Is it anemia? Or crummy eating
habits? Or too much caffeine in the a.m.?
September 25, 1991
Autumn officially began two days ago, but you'd never know it by
looking ... it feels more like the middle of
summer. I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.
September 26, 1991
little better ... mid 70's. It's still
warm, but at least I can run some laundry without overheating the whole
damn house. The only thing that really helps make this
unexpected heatwave bearable is knowing that this has got to be
"it" ... the autumn weather I love so much has got
to be right around the corner now. This morning the kids and
I were talking about Hallowe'en. It seemed odd to be
discussing trick-or-treat costumes when we were all sitting around in
September 27, 1991
here we go ... this is more like it.
Foggy and COLD. Jamie actually wore a ski jacket to school
this morning, the red one that she hates! So it must be cold.
paid me $200 for babysitting yesterday, so I had Ray take the kids and
I to Pay 'N Save in Burien so I could pick up some badly-needed new
makeup. Here's what I got:
Finish Matte Liquid Makeup ("Soft Ivory") $4.15
- Corn Silk
Oil-Absorbent Pressed Powder ("Fair")
- Cover Girl
Classic Color Brush-On Blush ("Natural
- Cover Girl
Liquid Pencil Liner ("Onyx") $4.95
- Aziza Color
Series Eyeshadow ("Brown Series") $3.89
bought some cold medicine, nasal spray and cough drops; new
toothbrushes for both of the girls; earrings for Jamie; and the new
People magazine (with Regis & Kathie Lee on the
cover). It felt so good to just walk into the drugstore and
toss things into my shopping basket, without worrying about how much
anything cost. (As it turns out, I ended up
spending about $15 less than I expected to.) After Pay 'N
Save, Jamie and I ran into McDonald's and picked up dinner.
That cost twenty bucks, but it was worth it ... no
cooking and no clean-up afterwards.
we were at McDonald's, I ran into a girl I went to grade school and
high school with, Beth Hetherington. "God, you look exactly
the SAME!" she said, although we haven't seen each other in 15 years.
Is that good -- or bad?
October 1, 1991
really sad and low today (note
in the margin says "PMS")
in spite of the fact that it's the first day of
October ... ordinarily one of my favorite days of
the year. Jamie and I had a terrible fight last night, and my
heart has been heavy ever since. On top of that, Josh has
been sent here from school again for being disruptive in
class ... Andrea brought both of her kids here sick
this morning ... it's Picture Day at school, and
Kyle woke up with bubblegum plastered all over his face
... and I've got to go to Open House tonight. I
feel like it's all falling apart on me. The house is a mess,
I'm a mess, my whole fucking life is a mess.
little later, and a little better. At least Kyle got off to
school in one piece (Janet picked him up) and the little kids have
snoozed most of the afternoon: Josh is sitting outside at the picnic
table, in self-imposed exile. The fact is that it's the fight
with Jamie that has really had me down today ...
everything else is extraneous. I don't even know how to
describe what happened last night. One minute we were
enjoying a nice peaceful family evening, and the next minute it all
blew up in my face.
John, Lori & Tracy had showed up
earlier to visit. They were drinking beer and trying to get
me to join in, but I didn't feel like it. They finally left
around 9:00, and I sat down with my dinner and "Murphy Brown" on TV,
ready to relax.
I said, after I'd settled on the
couch with my dinner plate. "I forgot my
was engrossed in the TV, and Kacie was happily copying a drawing
out of a library book; they didn't hear me at all. Jamie
heard me, though, and obligingly hopped up and ran to the kitchen to
get the steak knife I'd left on the counter.
was just about
to thank her for her thoughtfulness when all of a sudden she yanked the
library book away from Kacie and started screaming that it was
"hers." I mean it -- she was SCREAMING,
stomping her feet, pitching a MAJOR fit because Kacie hadn't asked to
borrow the book. Naturally this had Kacie in tears.
I said. "Please let Kacie borrow your book!"
SHE DIDN'T ASK!!!" Jamie shouted at me defiantly.
grabbed the book out of her hands, swatted her across the rear end with
it, and handed it back to Kacie.
that, Jamie came
completely unglued ... screaming that she hated me,
that she hated our family, etc. etc. I've heard this stuff
countless times before, and usually I don't let it get to me.
(My usual comeback is to smile sweetly and say "I hate you too,
Pumpkin.") But Jamie was totally out of control by that
point. I have never seen her so far gone. Ray
ordered her to apologize to me, and he started to spank her, but he was
sloppy from too many beers with John and Lori, and she managed to slip
out of his grasp and run to her room, still yelling her head
off. By this point I was in tears, too, and I remained upset
for the rest of the evening. Jamie never came back out of her
room, and when I went in to check on her a couple of hours later she'd
fallen into a sweaty, exhausted sleep.
morning we said nothing at all to each other. I kept
expecting her to apologize, but she steadfastly refused. My
heart was aching as she left for school ... I
wanted to tell her that she looked nice, that I hoped she'd have a good
day, to remind her to "smile" for her picture ...
but we parted in silence.
Jamie got home from school yesterday, she was acting as though nothing
was wrong ... as though our big fight had never
happened. I was torn. Part of me wanted to go along
with the charade, to hug her and kiss her and ask about her day, to
just let the unpleasantness of the night before pass without
comment. It would have been so easy to just let the whole
thing slide. But an even bigger part of me wanted that
apology ... not just to soothe my own hurt
feelings, but because letting it go would only leave the door open for
future blow-ups. I don't want Jamie to get the idea that
apologies are unnecessary. There was a principle involved
here: if you hurt someone's feelings, you apologize. It's as
simple (and as complicated) as that. Well, anyway, she came
home from school, and in her mind at least everything was
4:00, Janet called and asked if Jamie could play with
I'm sorry," I said, making sure that Jamie could hear me.
did I DO??" Jamie wailed unhappily.
still have not apologized to me for last night," I told her.
flounced off to her room and slammed the door, and I sat down on the
couch, crying again.
This time, I thought to myself, she can
stay in that bedroom until she rots. I was mad
-- not just hurt, but MAD -- so I stormed
into her bedroom, where she was curled up on her
just don't get it, do you?" I said to her, with tears streaming down my
face. "You really, really hurt me last
night, Jamie." I told her that I hadn't deserved to
be yelled at, the way she'd yelled at me the night before
... that I deserved courtesy, respect, and
-- most of all -- an apology.
The whole time I was talking, her eyes were wide as saucers.
I honestly don't think she realized how hurt I'd been. It's
not always easy to surprise her, but this time I think I
managed to catch her totally off-guard! Until that moment, I
think she had considered herself the only person 'wronged' in this
situation. It hadn't even occurred to her that I might feel
the same way. And when she saw
upset I was, it got to her. Finally.
few minutes later she
wrote me a note, asking for my forgiveness and wanting to know whether
I still "cared" for her.
I care about you more than I
care about my own life," I said to her, and we hugged, and it was over.
we learned a lesson here? Probably not. I doubt
that one resolved conflict will be enough to ensure smooth sailing from
here on out. I'll continue to fumble through this business of
parenting, doors will continue to slam, feelings will continue to be
hurt. But I hope -- I PRAY
-- that underneath it all, my little knothead of a daughter
will always know that I love her. I can be hurt, I can be mad
as hell, but there's nothing Jamie could do in a million, billion years
that would make me stop loving her.
anyway, once all of the unpleasantness was over, the rest of the
evening was OK. The girls and I went to Bow Lake for the Open
House. Got to meet their teachers, briefly
-- Jamie's teacher, Ms. Kido (a little older than I thought)
and Kacie's teacher, Ms. Briggs (a little younger than I
Kyle's Open House will be next week. Stopped by the school
library after meeting the teachers, bought some books for the kids and
Ray as part of the annual "Book Fair" fundraiser. Walked home
October 4, 1991
lull ... all three of the little guys are napping,
Kyle and the girls are in school ... I don't feel
like doing housework any more today, so I'm just sitting here,
thinking. We're supposed to go over to John and Lori's
tonight for dinner. If truth be told, I'm not much in the
mood for a party -- I'm not much in the mood for
anything -- but we're committed.
October 9, 1991
it's nearly a week later, and I'm still "not much in the mood for
anything" ... I seem to have run into another one
of those black, listless depressions that appear out of nowhere every
few months or so, and nothing anyone can say or do seems to help
much. Most of the time I just want to to sit and do nothing
except watch TV for hours, read old Stephen King paperbacks, munch on
leftovers and drink too much coffee. I'm overwhelmed by too
many people demanding things of me and too little help. I
guess you could call this one of my "unappreciated moods."
I'm constantly feeding people, cleaning up after people, taking care of
people ... my own needs kind of get lost in the
shuffle. So I've just "shut down" for a while.
was supposed to be different. It's a beautiful autumn
morning, for one thing -- clear, cold and sunny,
just the way I love it. I haven't spotted any autumn leaves
yet, but I know they're right around the corner. I don't have
Danielle or Cody today -- Andrea's mom is home from
her trip to Europe, so she'll keep the two of them on Wednesdays
again -- just having the baby out of my hair for
one day is a major relief. The only babysitting I have today,
as a matter of fact, is Mak (who got here at 9:30) and then Josh after
school. This was the day that I was going to catch up on
everything ... do the laundry, pick up the house,
write in my journal. I was going to bake blueberry muffins,
read to Kyle, put up Hallowe'en decorations. When Ray and the
kids all got home this afternoon, the house was going to be tidy and
beautiful and filled with the scent of baking and furniture
polish. I was going to be calm, rested and pleasant.
all I can do is sit here in the laundry room at my desk, drinking cup
after cup of lukewarm coffee, staring at the overflowing laundry
baskets, wondering when all of this great autumn energy is going to
kick in ...
have a minor breakthrough to report in the "Mother/Daughter
Wars." Yesterday afternoon was a circus around this place: we
were due, at 6:00, to go to Kyle's kindergarten Open House, and yet I
found myself at 5:25 still looking at a houseful of babysitting
... Kyle was sitting in the bathtub, yelling for someone to
help him rinse the shampoo out of his hair ... Cody
was fussing in the living room ... there were three
bags of groceries sitting on the kitchen table waiting to be put
away ... I still hadn't gotten dressed or brushed
my hair ...
and there was Jamie, sitting on the couch chewing gum and looking at a
yelled at her to help
"I'm watching CODY!" she said, snapping her gum at
totally lost patience with her, and told her to march
her "snotty ass" into her room and stay there. "And spit out
that stupid gum!!" I screamed.
went into her
room, slamming the door (of course) and yelling again about how much
she hates me. I got Kyle out of the tub, slung a wailing Cody
over my shoulder and THREW the groceries into the cupboards and the
minutes later the tempest blew over, and I went to Jamie's room to
apologize. Just as I opened the door and started to say "I'm
sorry," she was opening it from her side, saying "I'm sorry" at the
same instant I was! It was actually very sweet and
funny ... more like the Jamie I know and love.
think what it all boils down to -- my latest depression, that
is -- is the lack of time for myself. I
know I whine about this same thing all the time ...
"When will I ever have a few hours ALONE?"
gets really fed up with it, but that's because he doesn't understand
the need. He doesn't crave solitude, the way I do.
For me it's a basic need, like air and water. I need at least
one day a week, even if only for a few hours, when no one is
asking me for ANYTHING. Lately I've had no time at all for
myself ... I am surrounded by people, literally,
every waking hour. And it's getting to me.
Something has to be done about this.
October 10, 1991
today. I actually did manage to accomplish most of the stuff
I'd planned for yesterday ... my energy level
picked up after lunch, and by the time the kids got home form school,
the house was clean and some of the Hallowe'en decorations were
up. There were even blueberry muffins sitting on the
counter. Today the baby is here, and he has miserable
diarrhea to boot, but I'm in a better mood than I've been the past
couple of days, and I guess I can deal with it. (Not that I
exactly have any choice ... )
the lack of privacy and solitude are contributing to my general
depression, but today I think there's more to it than that.
I'm also in terrible shape physically. I'm so overweight,
it's disgusting. The last time I tried to diet was in June,
before my trip to Idaho with Grandma, but as usual this turned out to
be a total bust: I did the SlimFast routine for about a week
and a half, but then I started worrying about money for the trip, and I
slipped back into my old eating habits. Now I'm fatter than
ever, and I feel sick, tired and out-of-sorts all the time.
Again, something has to be done about this.
October 14, 1991
weekend. Friday night, Josh and Mak were here until very
late. Right before Karen came to pick them up,
Josh hit Jamie across her temple with a baseball bat.
could have killed her! (And I could have killed
HIM.) Don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to
tolerate him. Anyway, once they left, things were OK: Ray
and Jamie went out and rented a VCR and two good movies we hadn't seen
yet, "Misery" and "Sleeping With The Enemy." (It was
particularly nice to have the VCR because TV was filled with the
Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill Senate hearings all
afternoon, John and Lori showed up unexpectedly and stayed for
a long, long time ... too long,
... Ray and I were both tired, hungry and burned-out, and we
kept hinting that it was "getting late," but they sat at the table
drinking screwdrivers and arguing with each other about Tracy until
almost 9:00. Finally I put my arms around them both and said
that I "loved them," but that Ray and I needed to eat dinner and go to
bed. They got the hint and left soon afterwards (20 minutes
later I was sound asleep) ... I just hope they
weren't offended. Kacie went home with them to spend the
night with Tracy; Tia spent the night here with
Sunday we took Jamie, Tia and Kyle shopping with us in
Burien. I bought myself a dozen used paperbacks at Value
Village, mostly thrillers (Peter Straub, John Saul, Dean Koontz, an old
Stephen King) and we bought Kacie's new ballet shoes at
Picway. Sunday night I made a big dinner for everybody,
chicken parmagiana and noodles; Ray went to sleep early, the kids and I
stayed up to watch a stupid John Stamos movie ("Captive").
dad's cousin Terry Vert, who is serving as executrix of Grandma's will,
called me this morning to say that Ted wants all of "his" dishes and
silver back. Apparently a lot of the stuff that Grandma gave
me before she died actually belong to Ted, including the silver tea
service she gave me for my birthday last year, and he's all pissed off
about it now. It breaks my heart to part with these
things -- not so much because I'm attached to them
as much as the fact that SHE gave them to me -- but
there isn't much I can do about it. In the case of the tea
service, for instance, I never really did figure out what to do with
it, and I finally ended up storing it in a cupboard; but Grandma gave
it to me, for my birthday
last birthday present she ever gave me -- and I
would have treasured it forever for that reason alone. But
the fact of the matter is that it wasn't Grandma's to give in the first
place, it belongs to Ted's family, and they deserve to have it
back. Same with the Noritake china she sent over here the
week before she died -- that's Ted's also,
apparently, and I don't mind giving it back because I never felt it was
"mine" in the first place. But I DO mind giving back all the
teacups and saucers and bowls and stuff that I KNOW belonged to
Grandma. Those were the things I was happy to receive, and
which I planned to
keep. The reason I have to give them back, Terry says, is
because Grandma willed them to my cousin L., and now L. is
making a lot of noise from Texas about wanting them.
Terry asked me to box everything
up -- Ted's Noritake and silver in one box, L.'s
teacups and stuff in another -- and take them over
to Ted's house this afternoon. Ray will run them over for me
when he gets home from work, I guess. (I have no interest in
seeing Ted myself, obviously.) While I was packing up the
teacups and saucers, I started writing L. a letter, to be included in
the box when it's sent down to her ... something
about how there are no hard feelings, about how I hope Grandma's dishes
bring her "happy memories," etc. ... but it just
seemed so false and insincere that I crumpled it up. I'm
going to be adult about this situation and return everything without
complaint, because that's what Grandma would have expected from
me. But I'll be damned if I'll pretend to feel anything for
Ted or L. besides indifference.
It goes deeper than simply having to "share" with L., or with Ted or
anyone else ... it's an odd sort of possessiveness
of Grandma's memory, I think, and of her love. I'm ashamed of
myself for feeling this way. I don't remember feeling this
way about her when she was alive -- so proprietary,
so jealous -- it's only now that she's gone that I
find myself trying to hang onto every single thing she ever gave me, as
if holding onto THINGS keeps her closer to me. I guess that
I'm still working through my grief. It feels like she's been
gone a long time, sometimes, but in fact it's only been two months.
October 16, 1991
After nearly fifty days of record high temperatures and no rainfall at
all, we woke this morning to the first wild and windy storm of the
season. I feel weirdly elated, crackling with
energy ... better than I've felt in ages.
Is it the weather? Or the fact that my period is due in a few
days, and this is always the high point of my cycle? I don't
know. Probably a combination of both, plus the fact that the
baby isn't here today, and when Kyle leaves for school (and I put Mak
down for a nap) I'll be as close to "alone" as I ever get ...
took Ted & L.'s dishes over to the house on Monday
evening -- John went with him for moral
support -- Ray says that Ted was actually quite
pleasant, almost happy
"When you're a grown-up, you get to read the newspaper, drink coffee,
and watch "Regis & Kaffy Lee.' "
October 17, 1991
quite as "up" as I was yesterday, but then I didn't sleep all that
great last night. I've been having this same basic dream a
lot lately, and it invariably leaves me feeling sad in the mornings:
I dream that I'm talking to someone I used to know, usually
an old boyfriend or an acquaintance from high school, and I'm feeling
really happy to see them at first ... but then Iook
down at myself and realize, in horror, how fat and totally unattractive
I've become. (Last night it was Mark Hawley, my friend from
school Stage Band class; a couple of nights ago it was my first
boyfriend, John Riley.) When I wake up, I feel sad, helpless
angry. How did I let myself go like this??
God. I am so gross-looking. It's not something I
think about all the time, during the daytime anyway
... I never weigh myself, and I avoid mirrors like the
plague, and I guess that makes it easier to delude myself into thinking
"It's not that bad"
the dreams really cut to the heart of the matter, and the heart of the
matter is this: I am desperately unhappy about my appearance, and about
my life in general, but I'm feeling helpless to do anything about it.
("I know you've
this before," I say to Ray as
I empty the bag of groceries he brought home today
-- Oreos, Doritos, pop, candy bars, hot dog buns
-- "but next week I'm going back on the Slim Fast."
He doesn't argue, just nods and says OK. He HAS heard
I was right about one thing: it was
my period being "right around the corner" that prompted last week's
brief and manic burst of energy ... I woke up
Sunday morning and boom,
there it was, three or four days
early. Usually I'm incredibly regular, so this came as
a surprise. This month I'm trying to track
my physical and emotional ups and down on a makeshift chart I
created, incidentally, to see if I can detect some sort of
pattern. It will be helpful if I can figure out ahead of time
which days are going to be bumpy emotionally, which days I'm
going to feel a lot of energy, which
days I'm going to be a blob, etc. etc. I have a
sneaking suspicion that PMS has been a factor recently in my wildly
erratic moods and weird physical discomforts. It's something
that I've never paid much attention to until now, mainly because it's
never been a big problem until the past couple of years. But
something in my body chemistry appears to have changed just since I hit
my 30's, and unless I want to go on snapping at my family and
accomplishing next-to-nothing in my life, half of every month,
I'd better figure out exactly what's going on. So making this
chart and keeping track of things for a few weeks is a start.
If nothing else, I can draw a big red "frowny face" on the calendar on
the days I know I'm going to be a total witch, and my family
can run and take cover ...
November 16, 1991
Three and a
later: I feel as though I've
been "away" for a very long time. About two weeks ago I came
down with my annual autumn cold, which blossomed into my annual autumn
bronchitis, and it's been a long road back ... just
within the past few days that I've begin feeling halfway
human again, and ready to put everything back
together (my house, my family, my life) ... amazing
how everything falls apart around here when I'm out of commission for a
few days. Is this what they mean by "job security"
morning ... feels
like a storm is brewing. Ray was supposed to drive out to
Bellevue and do some yardwork for his sister Sheryl today, but I can tell by the
way he's piddling around with the woodstove and the
newspaper that he's planning to wiggle out of it. I guess I
don't really care. The weather is awful, and we seem
to be getting along OK so far today, besides.
Weekends lately have been really awful around here, but in some
ways that's just as much my fault as anybody's. If I
just go along and do my own thing today (minor housecleaning, personal
projects) and don't let Ray and the kids get to me, it'll be
fine. I hope.
(Ray just put a bottle of beer in the
freezer ... )
November 22, 1991
... last weekend, I mean ... one of the
most enjoyable weekends I've had in ages, Jamie's grumpy "boredom" and
Ray's non-stop beer-drinking notwithstanding. John and Lori
came over for a fun evening of music and conversation, and
after they left (with Jamie in tow, thank god), Ray and I sat up and
partied till the wee hours ... something we don't
do very often anymore. The best part of the evening
was a wild winter storm that hit the area, knocking out our power for
over an hour! We drank beer and talked by
candlelight. I actually felt close to Ray that evening, and
it was nice. I don't know if it was the wine, or the
candlelight, or the sudden enforced intimacy ...
probably a combination of all three ... but we
connected for a few brief hours.
Of course, the
part about having a terrific
weekend is that it tends to make the following week seem long and
dreary by comparison ... especially a week like
this one has been. This is Parent/Teacher Conference week at
school, and that means that the kids have been home more than they've
been in school: in Kyle's case, that means there's been no school at
ALL. (The girls have been coming home at noon all
week, and kindergarten has been cancelled completely.)
Naturally, Kyle has been my faithful little shadow all week
long. For the most part it's been delightful -- I
love, love, LOVE my little son so much! -- but
there are moments, here and there, when I long for a little privacy and
quiet. Oh well. If the biggest
problem I ever had in life was the attention and
unconditional love of my little boy, I'd have it made.
God is cute."
Mom: "I'll bet that makes His day."
do they mean by
a 'Carson fire' ?"
(sarcastically): "Oh, that's so
November 23, 1991
has finally gone out to Bellevue to do that yardwork for
Sheryl .. a week late, but better late than never, I
suppose. Kyle is gone today, too: his church group is going
on a field trip to the Seattle Aquarium. He just left a few
minutes ago and won't be back until later this afternoon. The
girls (Jamie, Kacie and Jessica, who spent the night last
night) have sort of been driving me crazy all morning, looking for
"something to do" -- helping me with housework
being out of the question, apparently -- so I
finally broke down and gave them some money to walk over to Trailer
Town with. Every weekend now I go through this same crap with
Jamie ... she's bored, she's lonely, there's
nothing to eat, there's nothing "fun" to do ... it
drives me nuts. My stock answer is "Hey
-- I'm not the Entertainment Committee around this
house!" -- meaning, Make your own fun.
Entertain yourself. Find something, ANYTHING, to do.
November 27, 1991
The day before
Thanksgiving 1991. The
girls are preparing to leave for school ... Jamie
just emerged from her bedroom, looking extremely agitated and panting
heavily. "What's wrong?!?" I asked her in alarm. I
thought maybe she couldn't find her homework, or that her throat
hurts -- Tia has tonsilitis this week, and I am
ever vigilant (and paranoid) -- or
"My HAIR!" she
asked her (trying to keep a
straight face) why she didn't just come to me and ask for
help. "Cuz you're busy WRITING!" she said. At that
point I couldn't suppress a giggle because, in fact, her hair looks
absolutely beautiful, as always, and because she was distressed about
something so silly, and because I love her so much ...
busy today, but I need to
discipline myself about writing again, so I'm forcing myself to sit
down with a cup of coffee before Kyle gets out of bed (no Cody or
Danielle today) and put a few words in my journal, before I
start cleaning and baking. We're having
Thanksgiving here at home tomorrow: that's the good
news. Ray's folks are in Arizona this year, and we
did the trip to Aberdeen last year (to Jerry & Jody's farm) and
didn't feel like doing it again this year. I have been
privately elated about this for
weeks. Thanksgiving at HOME! No fuss, no bother, no
long stressful drives anywhere, no sitting around a stiff
formal table eating in front of a bunch of people. Just the
kids and Ray and I and a 22 lb. turkey, fresh off the
news is that Ray invited
his sister Barbara and his brother Don Jr. and their respective
"significant others" (neither of whom I've ever met: I hear that Don's
new girlfriend, who is from Russia, doesn't even speak English!) to
join us. I've gotten over my initial feelings of panic and
resentment over my nice, "no fuss no bother" Thanksgiving being turned
into a major family EVENT. But I'm still not exactly
looking forward to it. I like Ray's sister, and I get along
OK with his brother. I don't even really mind the
idea of cleaning house and cooking dinner for
company. I'm just not crazy about the idea of feeling like
I'm "on" all day tomorrow ... of having to make
pleasant conversation and playing perfect little hostess for
hours at a stretch. I'd much rather schlep around in sweats
all day, sipping cranberry juice and champagne, watching the parade on
TV ... then finally sitting down with an enormous
plate of food, with my feet up. That's more the kind
of Thansgiving I was looking forward to. Martha Stewart I'm
not! Still, I sort of feel like Jamie and Kacie are watching
me, waiting to see how I handle this situation. Barbara too,
for that matter. Is Terri Polen up to the
challenge? Can she manage to feed
and entertain nine people (including two total strangers) and
still maintain her composure?? Can she get her house to
sparkle, her children to dazzle with perfect manners, and her
pumpkin pie to melt in your mouth
getting the cat pee smell out of the bathroom, all
three of the kids in the tub before our guests show up, and
enough Cool Whip to cover the burned edges on the
frozen pumpkin pie ...
Things We Are
all this food that
we got today.
2. Thanks for a nice house.
3. For a Mom and Dad.
Um ... I want a
Game Boy -
interrupts -- "No! This is stuff
we're THANKFUL for!")
1. I'm thankful for my Mom and Dad.
2. I'm thankful for Thanksgivin'.
3. And I'm thankful for all the food we get.
1. I'm thankful
2. I'm thankful for my family.
3. I'm thankful for a nice church because the teachers are
thankful for my new typewriter.
2. I'm thankful for the trip to Idaho this year with Grandma,
and for the lifetime of memories she left me.
3. I'm thankful, above all else, to be the mother of the
three most wonderful children in the world.
3. Dual-cassette tape deck
4. Ankle boots (for me)
5. Tablecloth and matching chair pads
6. Winter boots for all three kids
7. Ski jackets for Jamie and Kacie
8. Film developed/photo albums caught up
9. New table lamp for living room
Thanksgiving 9:30 a.m.
morning. This will be only
moment of relative calm and quiet today, probably. Jamie got
up and made scrambled eggs and toast for everybody a little while ago:
they were delicious. She is becoming quite an accomplished
got a jumpstart on today's
feast yesterday -- I bakes two pumpkin pies (froze
one), mashed the potatoes, put two pans of stuffing together and laid
out the vegetable trays -- today all I had to do is
put everything in the oven to warm up and make the gravy.
went pretty well" ... ?? That's all I wrote about
The truth is that dinner was a Grade-A DISASTER, start to
I drank wine all afternoon, while I was cooking dinner, and
the time our guests arrived I was completely smashed. I spent
most of the evening trying to engage Don Jr.'s mail-order girlfriend in
conversation about rock music, in spite of the fact that she spoke no
English. At one point I think I fell down in front of
And of course I was too drunk to actually eat anything, once
dinner was served. It was truly a Thanksgiving to remember
... just not in the way I might have hoped.
December 6, 1991
A week later,
Christmas season is
officially here. I'm not sure I'm completely ready for it,
but it's here nonetheless ...
Last year was
Christmas of my life, and I
am determined that this year will be better. Just staying on
top of things is the first step. I'm almost done with my
Christmas cards, for one thing, and a lot of the decorating is
done. (No tree till next weekend, though.) I've got
a pretty clear idea of what I want to buy everybody for presents, and
so far the money looks OK. We've already got Kacie and Kyle's
"big" presents stashed up in the attic -- rollerblades for
Kacie, a Gameboy for Kyle -- and next week we'll
pick up Jamie's new bike. I've got my supply of candles and
holiday magazines aready ... Ray put up the outdoor
lights the day after Thanksgiving, and they look great
... I finally managed to finish the Christmas collage for the
front door ... and we even watched "Rudolph The
Red-Nosed Reindeer" on TV last week! (A silly superstition of
mine: it I miss watching "Rudolph," the holidays go awry.) So
a lot of the externals are taken care of. Internally, there
is still work to be done. This is Step Two: my annual
struggle to rise above the fatigue and worry and stress and feel some
genuine Christmas spirit ... because if I don't
feel it, no one else in this family will, either.
it's completely fair that
the responsibility for everyone's holiday happiness automatically falls
on the woman in the family. Why is MOM the official family
joymonger? All the work, all the preparation, all the
clean-up ... the stress, the anxiety, the sleepless
nights ... and on top of all that, I'm also
responsible for keeping the household mood light and festive, for
making sure that Daddy and the kids are having a good time, for keep it
all pulled-together emotionally. Who nominated MOM for
the job, anyhow??
... the truth of the
matter is that I nominated myself, didn't I? Nobody held a
gun to my head and said "Hey, lady - make with the
'ho-ho-ho' stuff or else!" Deep down inside, underneath all
the blustering and complaining and bitching about how "unfair" it all
is, Terri Polen secretly relishes the responsibility. It's
much work, it's too exhausting, it drains me phyically and
emotionally ... but I love it. Underneath
it all, I love it. I just need to remind myself of that fact
once in a while. That's the secret for keeping the joy-levels
up around here in the next few weeks: I need to remember that I CHOSE
to do this, that I'm doing it for love and for fun, and that it's not a
case of "Must Do" but, rather, "WANT To Do."
December 12, 1991
up in the
... plans, lists, ideas whirling around in my head
... feels good. Tomorrow is payday, and if all goes
well (read this: if Ray doesn't make trouble), I should get most
everything done soon and ahead of schedule.
December 18, 1991
busy. Today is my "no baby
day" -- no Cody, that is -- so
I'm trying like blazes to get caught up with everything
today. The house is in serious need of some attention; I'm
only one-third of the way done with the T-shirts I'md decorating as
gifts; and I still want to bake some cookies to go with the loaves of
cranberry-orange bread and the candied orange peels I made last
week. I figure that if I can get as much done as possible by
the weekend, I'll have a couple of days left before Christmas to just
relax ... (she said hopefully) ...
Ray and I went
shopping on Sunday (my 34th
birthday, incidentally), and I pretty much finished getting the kids'
shopping done. Then on Monday morning, Janet took me around
to the fabric & crafts stores and helped me pick out the
materials for the T-shirts. I'm making them for my
mother-in-law, my mom, Valerie, Deb, Kelli, and one for the dice game
we play on Christmas Eve. I think they're going to be really
pretty when I'm done. We're starting to run a little low on
money now, and there's still some shopping left to do, so I'm starting
to feel a little bit anxious about that. But this same thing
happens every year, and we always seem to get through it OK, so I'm
trying not to worry. In most of the ways that count, this
Christmas season is coming along ten times more smoothly than last year
did. I'm sick, of course -- a terrible
head cold and lingering cough -- no Christmas
season would be complete without it, I suppose, but I'm managed to work
around the crud and get things done anyway. The house is
decorated, most of the shopping is done, and my level of personal
Christmas spirit -- while not breaking any world
records -- is certainly higher than in recent years.
thing about this Christmas
season is that I'm missing my grandmothers. Grandma Vert,
especially, but also Grandma St. John: Christmas Eve just isn't the
same without her. I hope that wherever they are,
of them are crocheting afghans and listening to Christmas
carols together ... )
birthdays" ... Jamie's and mine. Her
tenth birthday was last week, and as celebrations go this one was
decidedly more low-key than in recent years. I explained to
her ahead of time that I didn't have the time, energy or money for a
big birthday party (like last year's "movie party," or her slumber
party the year before). She was very mature and understanding
about it, fortunately. And we did end up having a fairly nice
"family" celebration, anyway, with a cake (German chocolate) and her
choice of dinner (chicken stir-fry) and plenty of presents.
Ray and I gave her an expensive Caboodle makeup and jewelry
organizer, the kind she'd been asking for, and some earrings and makeup
to go with it. Velma gave her a "Babysitters Club" game, and
her Grandma P. gave her a sweater and some purple pants that she's been
wearing almost daily ever since. (A few days later Dad
& Valerie gave her a "Monopoly" game, which was the other thing
she'd requested repeatedly). So even though it wasn't a big
expensive noisy celebration, she was happy and enjoyed herself and it
was nice for all of us. It was a sentimental occasion for ME,
of course -- my firstborn turning ten
-- I shed a few tears when no one was looking. The
years are just spinning by too quickly.
As a joint
for Jamie and I, Mom took
us (along with Kacie) to see the Pacific Northwest Ballet's production
of "The Nutcracker" at the Seattle Opera House on Saturday
afternoon. That was a magical day! The ballet was
gorgeous, and we also had time to walk around the Center House and
visit the "Winterfest" celebration. A thoroughly pleasant
day. When we got home from the ballet, the kids and I
decorated the Christmas tree (which Ray and Kyle had bought earlier in
the day) while Ray made tacoes ... our family's
traditional tree-trimming dinner.
My birthday was
too. Before Ray and
I shopped, we stopped off at B-Z's and had a glass of wine (me) and a
beer (Ray). That loosened me up a little and got us both into
the spirit of things. Pun not intended. We left
Jamie in charge of the house and of her brother and sister, and while
we were gone they baked me a birthday cake and festooned the house with
decorations. I came home and the place was ablaze with lights
and candles and music ... and love! It
was neat. Ray and the kids sat in the living room and played
Monopoly all evening, while I puttered around the kitchen cooking
chicken-fried steak for my birthday dinner, listening to the Christmas
tapes, drinking wine.
It's two days
Christmas 1991. Last
night I began typing my annual Christmas letter to myself
-- a rundown of the highlights and lowlights of the
season -- when my "new" typewriter (Valerie's old
electric, which she gave me last month) suddenly broke down in
mid-sentence. I was upset but not surprised: I have no luck
with typewriters. But the point is that it's left me stranded
without a way to finish the letter, and so before the details of this
Christmas just past become fuzzy and imprecise in my memory, I guess
I'll jot them down in my journal.
I had one goal
season: to make Christmas 1991
a happier, healthier and more meaningful holiday than 1990 was, for my
family and for myself. And I think I was fairly
successful. It was still way too much work; I constantly
found myself battling stress and exhaustion, and more than once I took
it out on Ray and the kids. Making all those T-shirts at the
last minute, especially, turned me into a cranky witch. But
when Christmas finally rolled around and everything was DONE,
I was able to take a step back and look at thinks objectively,
congratulating myself on a job well done. Everything fell
into place at the last minute, as it almost always does, and this
family had a happy Christmas. It wasn't perfect
-- it had its share of trauma and misshap and
less-than-golden moments -- but it was happy.
And I guess that's what counts.
I think the
moment of Christmas 1991 was
when Jamie opened her "big" gift from Ray and I. Funnily
enough, I was the first one awake on Christmas morning. I'd
warned the kids (the night before) not to make any noise before 6:30
a.m., but when I woke up on Christmas morning and went out to the
kitchen to check the time, it was already past 7:00 and I was the only
one awake. I put a new roll of film in my camera, plugged in
the Christmas tree lights, turned on some soft holiday music on the
stereo. Then I went and stood by the doorway of the girls'
room (Kyle was snuggled in with Jamie) and said "Good
morning! Merry Christmas!" It took a moment or two
to register, but then the three of them came fully awake and stumbled
out of the bedroom, one by one, blinking and rubbing their
eyes. "Santa" had left some unwrapped presents under the tree
-- a racetrack and some little cars for Kyle, the game of
Life and some card games for Kacie, a pottery wheel and paint set for
Jamie -- and they poked around with those for a
bit, then emptied their stockings. We managed to get Ray out
of bed soon afterwards, so we could open the rest of our family
gifts. The Food Bank gave all three of the kids some clothes
and toys, which they opened first, while Ray and I opened the
gifts that the kids gave us. I was touched by the care and
thought they'd put into my gifts: Jamie bought me an expensive
potpourri set, Kacie a beautiful little trinket box for the collection,
and Kyle a tiny ceramic owl and a pair of earrings. Of course
I would have loved anything they'd chosen for me, but the fact that
they picked things they knew I would love made it even more
special. Such sweet, wonderful kids. Anyway,
finally it was time to open their "big" gifts from Mom and
Dad. Kyle unwrapped the Game Boy cartridge we'd gotten him,
looked at it blankly and said "But I don't have a Game Boy."
Which of course was rectified a moment later, when opened the Game Boy
itself. ("YES!! YES!!!" he shouted.) Then
Kacie opened her knee pads (to go with the rollerblades we'd bought
her). She didn't know what they were, at first
-- she thought they were bedroom slippers
-- but she was properly ecstatic when the rollerblades
appeared a moment later. It was the one thing she'd wanted
most this Christmas.
And then, at
was Jamie's turn.
She was so sure she was getting a bike, and I saw a glimmer
of disappointment in her eyes when she got out of bed and there was no
bike parked under the tree. But that was nothing compared to
the look on her face when she opened her "present" from Ray and
I ... a cardboard box filled with a broken stapler,
a jar of dried beans and an old telephone!! She looked at me
and said "Huh?" There was so much confusion and let-down on
her face: for a split second, I actually felt sorry for her!
But at least I'd succeeded in completely throwing her off.
"Well," I said, "that's it for another Christmas! Jamie, go
out to the garage and get us a box to use for garbage." She
looked at me like I'd totally lost my mind. Here I'd
completely annihilated her Christmas, and now I'm asking for a garbage
box?? She just sat there, staring at me with her mouth
"Out in the
said again. "Go
get a BOX."
It was like
thrown a switch inside her
brain: all of a sudden, she knew. She
jumped off the couch and dashed out the back door and into the garage,
where her beautiful new bike was waiting for her, and she let out a
SCREAM that could probably be heard ten blocks
away. It was a fine moment, and well worth those
two minutes of disappointment, as even she admitted
afterward. In fact, she told and re-told the story of the
stapler-and-bean-soup "present" for days afterward, to any and all who
would listen, and didn't seem at all embarrassed by how completely Mom
had managed to fool her.
The rest of
went pretty much as usual:
Christmas Eve was spent with my family, Christmas Day with
Ray's. The kids all got enough clothes, toys, books, games
and miscellaneous junk to last until next year, and I got a few nice
things that I like ... jewelry and a photo album
from Valerie, a diary from Mom, a little silver picture frame from Deb,
a nightshirt and a long blue cardigan from Peg & Don, a small
brass lamp in the Christmas Eve dice game. Ray and I didn't
exchange gifts again this year -- too
broke -- but at least it was a mutual
decision. As usual, I hated all of the driving around, and
secretly wished that we could just stay HOME on Christmas
Day. But I managed to keep such mutinous thoughts to
myself. When we finally got home from Peg & Don's on
Christmas evening, after the long drive from Bellevue, I let out an
enormous sigh of relief. Christmas was OVER! It was
fun, it was great for the kids, and I did enjoy myself. But
it was a helluva lot of work, and even though it makes me sound like
the original Grinch, I'm glad and relieved that it's all over with.
Blurb (only surviving pics)
1992 I kept a small daily diary (a Christmas present from my mom) along
with the regular journal. I'm
including the diary entries that don't directly duplicate the journal
1992. Wiped out from last night's celebrating, but
it was fun ... Lori and John are good friends.
sick today -- fever around 101 most of the
day -- Tylenol and juice were about all he could
Ray watched the Huskies trounce Michigan in the Rose
Bowl. My sister stopped by early in the afternoon to pick up
birthday gifts (earrings, a box of chocolates); we had a nice visit.
beef roast for dinner, mashed potatoes and gravy.
My Resolutions for 1992
- To worry less about
how our home looks, and more how the people in it are feeling.
- To do some stuff
just for "me" in '92. Lose weight? Quit smoking?
- To be better about
remembering friends' and family's birthdays and special occasions (not
just Ray and the kids).
- Remembering to
return phone calls from Lori and other friends, even when I don't feel
In 1992 I predict for the Polen
- Resolution of the
situation with Grandma's house; we either buy it and move in, or we
sell my half.
- A few major
new VCR and stereo, some decent living room furniture (I hope!!), new
bike for Kyle, new mattress for our bed.
- At least one
wedding (Barbara?) and maybe a baby ... ? (Don Jr.?)
1992. Cody is wailing
in the playpen, a few feet away from me in the living room: mostly he's
just exhausted and crabby from cutting teeth. Kacie is in the
living room, coloring with her new crayons and watching
"The Young & The Restless." Kyle, Josh, Mak and
Danielle are all in Kyle's room, playing Nintendo. Jamie
spent the night at Tracy's and hasn't come home yet.
I took down the
Christmas decorations two days ago,
and today the tree is coming down. The holidays are
officially over with, and now it's 1992, the start of a brand-new
We celebrated New Year's Eve with John & Lori:
it was an evening of music, wine, games ("Outburst Jr."
-- Lori trounced me), TV, fireworks, champagne and fun with
our very best friends: a fine welcome to the new year. Of
course, I paid the price the next day (yesterday) with a miserable
hangover ... not an auspicious beginning to
1992 ... but I'm back to normal today, and looking
forward to the new year. Hope it's happier than 1991 was.
Kyle's feeling a little better today. Ray went back to work,
went back to babysitting; the kids still have four days till they go
back to school ... sigh.
Kacie and I watched Pt. I of "Cleopatra" in the afternoon.
got home from John and Lori's around 4 p.m., then had her first Girl
Scout meeting of '92 at 7 p.m. Erin E. called and said she
the boys are coming over tomorrow. Roast beef sandwiches for
called this morning, cancelled our visit -- she's
having a new dishwasher installed -- Kyle was very
disappointed, but we've tentatively rescheduled for the 11th.
the tree down, vacuumed up the mess. Watched Pt. II of
"Cleopatra" with the girls. John and Lori over for a little
late in the afternoon.
dinner, Ray, Kacie and Kyle went over to John & Lori's to
watch "Terminator 2." Jamie and I stayed home, enjoyed a
evening together -- watched "The Dead Poets
-- made Jay a shirt.
Got up around 10:00. Jamie and I made breakfast for everybody
(Kacie spent the night at Tracy's, wasn't home until
Nice low-key day, spent puttering around
the house. Jessica B. was here most of the day to play with
Jamie, then she spent the night.
Phone call from cousin Terry Vert
-- she's bringing over Gram's dishes and jewelry, later this
Frozen pizza and salad for dinner.
Ray and the kids watched "White Fang" -- I took a
and went to bed early, got a great night's sleep for a change.
Feeling good. Ray and I took the kids (including Jessica) to
movies to see "Hook" -- Robin Williams, Dustin
Julia Roberts. Everyone seemed to enjoy it.
Came home afterwards, had fried chicken for dinner (which I'd cooked
earlier in the day) -- the kids and I stayed up and
a hilarious movie, "Three Fugitives" (Martin Short, Nick Nolte).
The kids went back to school today after two weeks of
... yahoo! Just the little guys (Danielle, Cody and
for most of the day. Talked to a woman from the "Friend to
Friend" organization; thinking about joining with the girls.
would be "adopting" a senior citizen, would visit them twice a
month. Might help ease some of my "Grandma -Loss."
Ray took the outdoor lights down. Letter from Georgina
Nielson (the daughter of a dear friend of Grandma Vert's).
Bitterly cold. Will it snow at all this winter?
Hope so, now that the holidays are over.
Busy: completely cleaned the girls' disgusting bedroom
three-hour job. Tons of laundry after that,
a pot of beef stew for dinner.
Stayed up late listening to music and drinking
wine in my "office."
January 8, 1992
Felt cruddy all day, but at least the kids were in school and I had no
Danielle & Cody ... took my sinus
snoozed most of the day. Better by afternoon, got up and
the kitchen, made burgers and fries for dinner. Girls had
class till 7 p.m., then all three kids to church ("Royal Rangers" for
January 9, 1992
Average day, not much to tell. Babysat the whole bunch, but
all went home by 3:30 today so it wasn't too bad. Finished
Mom's Rosamund Pilchers -- "Another View"
not as good as "Under Gemini," but still a good read. Making
plans to start a diet next week -- shopping lists,
etc. -- Ray's going on it too, doctor's orders.
Good "L.A. Law" tonight; starting to like the "new" characters.
Miserably cold and rainy. Babysitting, same old
Nice "phone-chat" midday with Lori ... asked her if
consider joining Weight Watchers with me.
another 14 tons of laundry all day ... where in the
does it all come from, anyway??
Ray came home in a lousy mood -- the gout in his
foot is turning him into a sick, grumpy old man.
Karen stopped by at 10 p.m. to pay me.
day. Woke up
feeling great, cleaned the whole house in preparation for Erin's
visit ... then she never showed up, never even
called! Oh well.
shopping, finally got my pictures (14 rolls!) back from the
printers. Also got the "Pretty Woman" soundtrack, listened to
all day. Mom and Janet both stopped by to visit.
fun with Ray. Jessica B. spent the night.
Jessie & Jamie cooked my favorite breakfast
twice-cooked potatoes, eggs and bacon all mixed together; we call it
"Breakfast Scramble" -- read the Sunday paper,
Monopoly with the girls, started another one of Mom's books, "The
Stormy Petrel." McDonald's for dinner.
refrigerator started sputtering and smoking. Had to drag a
Ray out of bed, and then we had to call Greg (our landlord) to come
over and look at it. He made some temporary repairs, just to
it overnight -- he'll be back tomorrow to finish.
twice today, just to "chat" ... guess
we're friends again? Diet officially started today but it'll
me a day or two to settle into a rhythm. Greg was over again
evening to fix the fridge: Ray barbecued steaks, which pretty much blew
the diet. Guess I'll start for real tomorrow. (No,
REALLY MEAN it ... !)
great on the diet -- SlimFast for breakfast and
frozen Lean Cuisine and salad for dinner, air-popped popcorn and nonfat
yogurt for snacks. Please, please, please let me stick with
this time ...
had a bad experience today: he tried to walk to school at noon, but
construction at the end of our street blocked his way. He
returned home in tears, unable to get to his bus on time (so he just
stayed home). Phone call from Valerie; afternoon "Monopoly"
the girls; finished "The Stormy Petrel."
January 15, 1992
So, what would
1992 "happier" than 1991
was, anyway? A few fantasy wishes:
feel hungry only once a
day -- right before dinner --
and then I am immediately satisfied after a nice, low-cal, low-fat
meal. My constant thoughts about food are replaced by
incredible bursts of creative energy, and scientists discover that
doing laundry burns calories more effectively than aerobics.
developes an allergy to
beer and learns to like "Murphy Brown."
kids' bedrooms become
outlawed, especially on the weekends.
Martin returns to "All
My Children," Jimmy Smits to "L.A. Law" and Jean Smart to "Designing
stops hitting people,
Kacie loses her baton, and Kyle 'freezes' at age five for an extra year
good diet day, no cheating at all. I feel an inner core of
determination this time.
came home at lunch and walked Kyle safely past the construction
site so he made it to kindergarten. Girls had their dances
classes in the late afternoon, then church for all three, as usual.
TV -- "Unsolved Mysteries," "Seinfeld," "Anything
January 16, 1992
night. I dreamed
that I was standing beside Grandma Vert's grave, trying to tell her
something wonderful that had happened to me --
something I felt would make her proud of me --
when I suddenly heard a voice saying "You are weighting her with your
tears." I tripped and fell on top of the
that moment, only except of hard
ground, it was soft loose dirt, and I fell so hard and so deep that I
could feel the outlines of her coffin ...
and I could hear her screaming inside. It was the WORST DREAM I have
ever had in my entire life, and not only because it
was frightening and grisly -- it was
-- but because of the feeling I had in the dream, that
Grandma didn't want to listen to me anymore. I felt that she
wanted me to go away, to leave her alone, to quit thinking about her or
trying to communicate with her. I felt that she hated
I woke from the dream in a cold sweat, thoroughly
frightened and upset. What in the world could have caused me
to have such a dream?? Grandma was the sweetest, kindest
person in the world, and she loved me dearly. Why would I
dream otherwise? I just don't understand it.
It's hard for
me to get
past the idea that I
disappointed Grandma ... that I never lived up to
her high expectations of me. I wish that I had managed to do
something great with my life before she died: that I'd finished
college, for instance, or found a career that utilized my talents, or
even just married more wisely. I feel as though I let her
down, and that's something I'm going to have to live with for the rest
of my life.
Strange to think that one year ago today, war broke out in the Persian
Third good day on the diet. Got a (pleasant) shock when I
broke down and weighed myself for the first time in 2 or 3
... I thought I'd be around 185, instead I'm
Still heavy, but not as horrible as I feared. So I "only"
lose thirty lbs. (instead of 50!)
Bad experience with Josh tonight -- he stole Kyle's
and took it home with him. His mom caught him and made him
it back and apologize.
January 17, 1992
A little better
today. The horror of that
dream has faded somewhat, at least. I look at Grandma's
picture, pinned to the bulletin board in front of me, and her sweet,
serene face smiles back at me. This is not a person who could
ever hate me! Yes, maybe she felt some disappointment that I
didn't become a teacher or a writer or a concert pianist.
Maybe she wished more for me. But as I sit here this morning,
drinking my coffee, looking at her lovely face --
so full of warmth and caring and humor -- I find it
impossible to believe that she ever felt anything but the purest, most
unconditional love for me -- warts and
all. I remember how proudly she showed me off at the family
reunion last summer. She didn't introduce me to her elderly
cousins and say "This is my granddaughter, the big fat zero."
She said "This is Terri Lynn, my granddaughter. She is a
wonderful mother." And she meant it. In her eyes,
at least, I was anything but a failure.
A moment later:
thing just happened, just as I
was sitting here writing about Grandma ... Aunt
Mabel Beatty called me, unexpectedly, from Oregon. She is the
wonderful 88 year old dynamo who organized the reunion last
year. "I've been meaning to write to you, dear," she said in
her sweet, quavery voice, "but I've been sick." Then she went
on to say that she's feeling better now, and has gone back to work on
her book of family history, and she wanted to know if I would mind
writing a page or two about Grandma. That alone was enough to
give me goosebumps -- the cooincidence of her
calling to ask me to write something at the precise moment that I WAS
writing about Grandma, in my journal! -- but
there's more. It gets even more incredible. Aunt
Mabel was talking about the last time she was in Seattle, three years
ago or so, for Uncle Vaughn and Aunt Leona's 50th wedding anniversary
party. (I remember that party.
Jamie and I went to it together, along with Aunt Mabel, Grandma, and
Grandma's neighbor Marian. A few days beforehand, Grandma
took me to Lamonts and bought me a new dress for the occasion
... the last dress she ever bought for me. I still
have it hanging in my closet.) Anyway. Aunt Mabel
was saying, "I
told your Grandma that day what a
lovely relationship you seemed to have with your daughter, and your
Grandma said 'Yes, Terri Lynn is a wonderful mother.' "
My throat began
tighten up as Aunt Mabel was
saying this. GOD! It was so strange
... it was as though Grandma were speaking to me through Aunt
"And then at
last summer," Aunt Mabel
went on, "she said the same thing -- 'Terri Lynn is
a wonderful mother.' She loved you very much, Terri Lynn."
At that point I
lost it. Can you
imagine the flood of emotions I felt as I hung up the phone?
I can barely write about it now. It's as if Grandma can see
me, right now, this morning, and she could read all the things I've
been writing, about feeling like I'd 'disappointed' her somehow, and
she reached out to comfort and reassure me in the only tangible,
earthly way she could. It was like a big psychic hug from
Grandma -- from wherever she is
-- and it has left me feeling elated and rattled and sad and
loved, all at the same time.
in the photo continue to
gaze at me with love ... )
January 18, 1992
yesterday's brush with the
"psychic." Journal, I am completely serious: I
believe, with my whole heart, that what happened yesterday was not a
cooincidence -- it wasn't just "one of those
things" -- it was Grandma, communicating with me in
as gentle and as loving a way as she could. And it has
The funny thing
been yearning for her to
reach out to me since the day she died, and yet I've also been
terrified by the prospect of that happening. For the first
couple of weeks after she passed away, it was hard for me to go to
sleep at night because I was afraid she might "appear" to me
... that I might look into a corner of the darkened living
room and see her standing there, or hear her voice behind me saying
"Terri Lynn" ... and the idea of that happening
scared me silly. I mean, as much as I would love to have a
chance to say "goodbye-for-now" to her -- to have
her tell me one more time that she loves me -- it
was nevertheless frightening to contemplate. A lifetime of
ghost movies and horror novels have had an effect on me, I
guess. During the daytime hours the idea of it came a little
easier, and I would look and hope for a "sign" from her, some small
psychic evidence that would help me feel she was near. And
once or twice it did feel as though she were hearing me, and that she
was trying to make her presence felt, but it was never anything
tangible. Never anything as real as yesterday. Two
minutes after writing in my journal that Grandma had called me a
"wonderful mother," I'm on the phone listening to Aunt Mabel repeat
those very words! It's just too Grandma-like
... too much in character. Even the fact that it
was Aunt Mabel who called and not someone else: no other voice would
have had as much impact, for several reasons. (The connection
between the three of us at the reunion last year; the fact that I hear
from Aunt Mabel so infrequently; even the similarities in their voices
and speech patterns. Once or twice during our conversation
yesterday, I could have sworn it was Grandma speaking
-- she and Aunt Mabel sound so much alike.) No one
else on earth could have delivered the message as effectively as Aunt
Mabel, and it is for that reason that I resolutely believe that grandma
used her to speak through. It was psychic communication in
its most non-threatening form. Any other way would have
scared the pants off me, and Grandma knows that.
I don't mean to
and on about this, but I feel
so different about life as a result of this. I feel
changed. Some of the joy has returned to my life
... some of the purpose. Three days ago I was
feeling as though it's too late now to do anything with my life, and
now I suddenly feel like anything is possible.
Ray had to work today -- somewhat rare for a
-- and Kyle went on a field trip to the Pacific Science
with his Royal Rangers group. So for most of the day it was
the girls and I. Nice.
Ray picked up four ribbons for my electronic typewriter; I spent most
of the evening sipping wine, typing captions for the new photo
album. Janet brought Jessica over to spend the
-- gave me half a Percodan for my toothache
watched "Fatal Attraction" on TV.
Slow, lazy day. Period started in the morning, mild cramps,
Made a big pot of chili for Ray and let it simmer all day.
Worked some more on the new photo album.
Terry Vert came by this morning and brought the rings and watches
Grandma left me in her will -- also several boxes
household stuff and the dishes and tea cups. Spent a pleasant
finding "homes" for everything.
Jamie is sick -- temp reached 103° at one
slept most of the day while Kyle and Kacie went over to Velma's to play.
Crazy day. Jamie stayed home from school, temp. still above
100°. Full babysitting -- Mak
here at 7 a.m.,
didn't go home until 6 p.m.!!
Velma came by twice, once to show me a
dress she made for Angela, once to take Kyle to school; Janet called a
couple of times, very depressed, stopped by in the afternoon to give
back some albums and tapes she'd borrowed; Mom and Deb
by; Lori and John came over around dinnertime, stayed for an hour.
January 22, 1992
little piece of
Grandma-related news, and then I'll let the subject rest for a
while. Remember the teacups? The ones Grandma sent
over here right before she died? I loved them because they
were so special, and I was upset when I had to give them back to my
cousin in Texas? Well ... they're back,
and they're MINE! Terry brought them back two days ago, and
they're here to stay. "These rightfully belong to you," she
told me. She decided not to send them to my cousin L.,
because she felt that Grandma really wanted me to have them, and
because she was afraid L. would probably just sell them. (I'm
not sure this would actually be the case, but maybe Terry knows
something I don't.) I've got them arranged now in a row on
top of my kitchen cabinets, above the stove, and they're SO
pretty. They're very special to me, and I'll never part with
the rings and watches Grandma
left me in her will. I already had the diamond
engagement ring Gram gave me last summer -- I wear
it above my own wedding band -- but now I also have
her other gold and diamond wedding band, two very old, plain gold
bands, and two gold watches. One of the watches is also very
old -- I'm not sure, but it might be the one she
got when she graduated from nursing school in the 1920's
-- and another, newer Pulsar that fits me perfectly and runs
like a dream. There's also a man's gold wedding band (I don't
know who it belonged to: Grandpa, maybe?), a pendant watch that Ted
gave Grandma (I may sell that, just for spite) and a ring with an
Ray only worked half a day today; came home at 10:30 a.m. and went to
the Food Bank for me, then worked at Ray Chamberlin's for a couple of
hours. Jamie came home from school again today, still
Housecleaning, laundry all day. The diet still going well
feel a bit tense around dinnertime. Ray very supportive of my
efforts this time -- makes a big
Barbara called to say she's "engaged."
Cold, rainy. Jamie stayed home in the morning, then suddenly
decided she felt OK after all and went to school at 11 a.m.
was a fussy handful all day, left my nerves jangled.
Big fight with Jamie in the afternoon, lots of door-slamming,
name-calling and tears on both sides ... we made up
hour later. (She wrote me a sweet note saying "Am I still your pussycat?")
Very energetic. Cleaned the house, decorated for Valentine's
Day, full babysitting.
Lori and Tracy came over after school (also Tia B., to play with
Jamie); later in the evening, John showed up and we all sat and partied
until late. Tracy and Tia both wound up spending the night.
Karen pd. me $100.
uneventful day spent napping, reading, watching TV. Ray
took Kyle out for awhile ... they played video
Lewis & Clark, stopped for a snack. Tia and Jamie had
their usual spats -- Tia went home in a
Tracy stayed until J&L picked her up late in the afternoon,
Kacie went to their apartment to spend the night.
Time for dinner, tasted awful.
day! Ray took Jamie, Kyle and I shopping this
-- spent $30 at Value Village (owls, picture frames, baskets)
another $30 at Pay 'n Save (misc. stuff).
we went over to John & Lori's to watch the Super
John BBQ'd some chicken for dinner, Lori made macaroni salad.
Drank a lot, listened to music, talked. J&L gave me a
(fake) plant for my house.
Day-after-the-Super-Bowl hangover ... and a full
babysitting day, to boot. How I made it through alive, I'll
know! Next year I think I'll spend Super Bowl Day at the
Velma stopped by: brought me flowers and 7-Up. (She thinks
got the flu: I didn't have the heart to tell her the truth.)
Watched The American Music Awards -- big winners
C&C Music Factory, Color Me Badd, Michael Bolton, Garth Brooks,
little better. Andrea called first thing this morning, said
and Cody are both sick, so I didn't have a baby to deal with.
Cleaned the house (everything except the kids' awful bedrooms), caught
up on laundry, started a good book ("Shining Through," Susan
went over to Shannon South tonight to talk to Curtis about a TV and
stereo he's selling. If everything goes right, we'll buy it
but amazingly warm -- 59° at one
point! Guess we can forget about a nice big snowstorm this
high-energy day. Maybe it's the dieting that has me
feeling so good. Now if only I can stay away from wine on the
class and church for the kids tonight. I cleaned Kyle's
room, made a big "breakfast for dinner" for Ray and the kids, diet
pizza for me. Kacie and I stayed up late, watched the
a great new show, "Nightmare Cafe."
babysitting. (Danielle & Cody from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.,
from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.) Cody has a horrible diaper rash
is cutting more new teeth, so he was a crabby little butt!
thinks he runs things around this place.)
work on my Valentines -- using a patchwork quilt
"theme" this year.
paid me $135; I gave Ray some money and him pick up a few odds
and ends of groceries. Made "homemade Chinese" for dinner;
to Girl Scouts, 7 p.m.; I stayed up late reading (my book is so
was so much worse today (diarrhea, diaper rash) that Andrea had to
come get him early and take him to the doctor --
Danielle, too -- and Mak left early as well, so I
babysitting by 2 p.m. Nice!
a letter to Deanne in Massachusetts, read some of my book.
brought home her friend Kaleana; they played for a few hours, had
dinner (frozen pizza), then Jamie went over to spend the
Kacie, Kyle and I sat out in my "office" this evening, making
Valentines and listening to music.
usual lazy Saturday. Kyle called Joey Bontempo and invited
him over to play and spend the night. (Kacie and I made up a
for the two of them: "Chucky-Monkeys.")
spaghetti for dinner. Jamie called, asking permission to
spend another night at Kaleana's ... I grudgingly
OK. Frankly, I think there have been too many sleep-overs
lately ... we need to cut down on them.
called -- wedding date set for February 29.
really wanted to enjoy this day and get a lot done, but a combination
of Ray being drunk and obnoxious (he flipped off a couple of Mormons
when they came to our door, called his parents and told them I've losty
THIRTY pounds, and announced that he's going to "bill the water
company" for Kyle's new rain boots) and me not feeling good made the day
"Shining Through" -- one of the best books I've
got home at 2 p.m., exhausted from her weekend at
Kaleana's. She napped all afternoon. Joey B. was
3 or so. I cooked a turkey hindquarter for dinner.
week got off to a 'thud' this morning ... Ray
"sick," took the day off from work. It's tough having a
of kids AND Ray here, too. Lately we are picking at each
all the time, he's drinking far too much, and I can barely stand to be
in the same room with him anymore. There's no talking to him
about any of this because he doesn't see any problem.
less-than-wonderful day. The IRS called, looking for Ray:
when he got home he said it was OK, it was no big deal, but it still
upset me. Also, Lori called and said that Curtis is leaving
earlier than expected, so we probably won't be able to buy the TV and
stereo from him. Very let-down about that.
a new Victoria Holt, "The Road to Paradise Island"
... pretty good.
played at Christina's after school.
February 5, 1992
morning ... the
house feels like a walk-in freezer. We've been having
unseasonably warm weather all week, though -- it
was 63 degrees a couple of days ago -- so the fog
will undoubtedly burn off later in the day. In the meantime,
all I can do is crank up the thermostat and make sure Kyle has plenty
of blankets covering him. (He's laying on the sofa, watching
cartoons and talking to himself.)
The girls just left for
school ... I watched them jogging up the street in
the fog, Jamie's picture-perfect ponytail bobbing up and down, Kacie's
unbuttoned coat flapping. Jamie is panicky this morning
because it's a P.E. day, and she's afraid Mrs. Peters is going to make
her run laps around the playground. I guess this is a yearly
thing, almost like an endurance test, and each year an extra lap is
added to the test. Kacie ran her laps yesterday, but
naturally it was a piece of cake for her: she has that incredible
stamina and metabolism (from Ray's side of the family). Poor
old Jamie, though, is more like her Mom ...
exercise is torture. She'd rather be curled up with a
book. I can sympathize completely. I hated P.E. at
her age, too. I was lousy at practically every sport (except
maybe volleyball), I could never keep up with the rest of the kids, and
P.E. day was the lowlight of my entire week. By the time I
got to high school, I'd had enough. I faked a letter from our
family doctor, hinting at a fictitious medical problem, and managed to
get myself out of P.E. for the entire three years of high
school. This morning Jamie begged me to help her get out of
running laps. Fine, I said. I'll write you a note
saying you've got a 10:00 dentist appointment ...
as long as you come home for those two hours and clean your
room. She went to school! Guess the idea of
cleaning her bedroom is more horrifying than anything
... even running laps.
baby here today, so I spent most of the afternoon working on the new
framed arrangement for the living room wall; it looks pretty nice.
and Lori called, just to say hi; John stopped by to drop off $10
he owed Ray. Kids got Valentines and money in the mail from
Thursday 10:45 a.m.
February 6, 1992
I did something
-- so un-Terri-like -- that it has even
me feeling shocked.
I took a day off!!
it's true! I called Andrea last night and told her I had a
"toothache" (which technically is the truth, since that broken molar
hurts pretty much all the time) and said I didn't think I'd be up to
watching her kids today. She was so sweet and understanding
about it -- she even came by with something to help
me sleep -- that I felt a little guilty about being
manipulative. But what else could I have told her?
"If Cody comes over here tomorrow and makes that 'ba-ba-ba-ba-ba'
noise for eight
hours straight, I am going to go
stark raving bonkers??" I love Cody, I really truly
do, but I just needed a middle-of-the-week break from his noise and his
diapers and the general chaos he creates. Can you understand
So I stayed up
watching TV with the girls, I
took Andrea's sleeping pill and slept like a baby myself until almost
10:00 this morning (the girls apparently got themselves up and off to
school, bless their dear little hearts, and Kyle quietly played
Nintendo in his room until he heard me getting up), and now that Kyle
is leaving for kindergarten, I've got a nice three-hour block of time
ahead of me, totally kid-free. A long hot shower
... soap operas on TV ... a little
housework, if I feel like it. Bliss.
Ray came home at 10:00 this morning, said the power had gone
at work and he was "off" for the rest of the weekend. Imagine
pleasure. He immediately cracked open a beer, then spent the
of the day "bowling" with friends ... came home
evening dead drunk, ready to fight. I fed him a chicken
and finally managed to get him to fall asleep at 9:30. The
and I stayed up and watched the Miss USA pageant.
day. Ray took the kids and I to Fred Meyer in Burien (he
the girls and I off for 90 minutes, then came back to pick us
... I spent a hundred bucks on Valentines, shirt-making
materials, three tapes for myself (Roxette, The Eurythmics, Michael
Jackson), a Mariah Carey tape for Jamie, etc.
Ray went out with John & Lori for a few hours, leaving me
blissfully husband-free for the evening. Painted a shirt for
Lori, drank wine, listened to my new tapes.
in the water. Stayed on the sofa all day. Only
the day: watching one of my favorite movies, "She's Having A Baby"
(Kevin Bacon, Elizabeth McGovern).
drunk and disorderly by 6 p.m. I tried hiding some of his
liquor, just to keep him from getting too bad, but he caught on right
away and said we were all "grounded." What a
blahs." Mom was supposed to come by this afternoon so I
up the place (it was a disaster area from this past weekend), finished
her Valentine stuff ... but then she didn't
several diet dinners for the coming week, froze them. Full
drunk and grumpy tonight, as usual.
February 11, 1982
I guess that's
new, especially in
February - always a "low" month for me, emotionally
- but this depression is so thick and invasive and tangible that it's
like walking around in a cloud of noxious gas. My days are
filled with poopy diapers, dirty dishes, piles of laundry, unpleasant
phone calls: my evenings are filled with Ray cracking open one beer
after another, the girls fighting, Kyle whining, no time to
myself. I'm as low and as blah and as devoid of joy as an old
dishrag. I hate my marriage, I hate the stagnant condition of
my life, and I hate myself.
And that's all
Very depressed. February is always a low month for
not much I can do except just try to get through it, I guess.
Finished making Valentines for my friends ... now
have to do is the kids', sometime this week when they're in school.
Peg called, asked me to measure the girls for bridesmaid dresses she's
making. Velma stopped by, loaned me a measuring
Brenda took Ray and Kyle out tonight to be fitted for tuxes.
A hair better
today. Not a lot, but a
little. The house is a mess: I'm hoping to scrape up the
energy to do something about it, because I know a clean house would
make me feel better, but so far all I've managed to do today is glue
some recipes into a cookbook, visit briefly with Velma (she dropped
off my Avon), take a shower and drink coffee.
"down." Threw all my energies into housecleaning
made the house sparkle. Velma stopped by again to drop off my
Avon (a heart bracelet, some Musk perfume). Mom came by late
the afternoon to pick up her quilt square and drop off Valentines.
church for the kids, but the girls had their dance lessons.
Made the kids' Valentines tonight.
crummy ... tired, upset stomach, crabby.
my diet: ate breakfast and lunch instead of drinking Slim-Fast, snacked
all afternoon. Full babysitting, although everyone was gone
nasty, unsigned letter in our mailbox from our neighbor across the
street, threatening to report our cats to Animal Control
... I am totally pissed.
a nice Valentines Day today in spite of our stupid neighbor!
Cleaned and decorated the house, then threw a "Valentine Party" for the
kids when they got home from school. A merry afternoon!
Lori and Tracy spent the evening. Ray brought me roses, wine
a sweet card; J&L brought me more wine and a card.
Monopoly (John beat everybody), listened to music. Fun.
for the Sweets:
friends: Lori & John, Janet, Velma, Andrea
big brown eyes
wine and a card from Ray!
ginger jar and gold necklace from Jamie! (Also a pretty card)
necklace and card from Kacie!
card from Kyle!
& a funny card from John & Lori!
came by first thing this morning to measure the girls for their
dresses: looks like they're going to be very pretty. Next
she's taking them for haircuts and new shoes.
came by again, too -- brought me a bottle of
perfume as a belated Valentines gift.
a letter (hand-delivered by Ray) to our neighbor, threatening her with
legal action if she doesn't stop putting notes in our mailbox.
pretty good, got a lot done while the kids were at church and Ray was
out shopping for a ceiling fan. Jamie's friend Kaleana here
spend the night.
BBQ'd chicken for dinner.
an accident tonight -- stepped on a broken glass,
sliced open my left toe very badly.
up in PAIN ... my toe is blown up like a balloon,
sore to the touch that I screamed if anyone even came near
Cleaned it as best I could, and Andrea brought me a big
... can't do much but sit on the couch.
holiday. Babysat Danielle and Cody from 10 to 3.
Ray went out and got McDonald's for dinner.
and Marc (our neighbor) installed the new ceiling fan in the dining
room. Looks nice.
and Jamie both stayed home from school w/colds.
was the day our neighbor was supposedly going to call Animal
Control. All three of our cats have been locked in the house
since Saturday, but so far we haven't heard a peep out of her since I
sent her my letter. Wish I knew what was going through that
"mind" of hers.
Award nominations announced this morning. (My picks for March
30th: Warren Beatty, Laura Dern, Diane Ladd, Jack Palance,
no trouble from our neighbor, although Brina managed to escape out the
kitchen window this afternoon and it drove the male cats in the
neighborhood crazy until well into the night ... I
stomping around the freezing, wet backyard (with my sore toe) until 2
a.m., throwing buckets of water at noisy cats. This whole
has me tied up in knots.
February 20, 1992
blahs. We're in the middle of a "war" with one of our
neighbors, over our cats, and this has only added to my
anxiety. This is the same whacko who drunkenly lurches across
the street, every Fourth of July, and threatens to call the police
about our (perfectly legal) fireworks. So I know this latest
tirade has less to do with the cats than with her personal dislike of
us. Still, she has caused me a full week of headaches, and
I'm sick of it.
LONG day of babysitting. Worked on the rice bags for
wedding, but ran out of pink ribbon: called Peg, she says she'll bring
some more on Saturday when she picks up the kids. (All three
are spending Saturday night at their grandparents'.)
February. It's been February
for about three years now, and apparently it's going to continue to be
February until sometime in 1996 ...
Which at the time seemed thousands of years in the future.
day. John & Lori came by first thing this
... John, Jamie and I took Sabrina to the Highline Veterinary
Hospital in Burien to have her spayed, will pick her up on Monday
house, babysat, laundry.
visit from Maryann (Christopher's mom) and her new baby,
I get the impression that she expects me to babysit for her when she
goes back to work in a few weeks ... not sure I
evening. Frozen pizza for dinner. Kristi Yamaguchi
won the Olympic Gold Medal in figure skating.
really good day. Peg was here at 8:30 to pick up the
-- they'll be back sometime tomorrow --
worked, so I had the house all to myself for most of the day!
Cleaned every room in the house (even the kids' rooms); the place looks
a walk to Trailer Town at noon, bought some pads (period started),
hairspray and a bottle of wine.
the evening over at John & Lori's, watched "Silence of the
Lambs" ... fun. Ray and I up late.
brought the kids home shortly after noon ... I was
see them. The girls both got their hair cut, but Kyle didn't
yet -- need to get him to the barber before the
cold. Took half-doses of cold medicine all day but it still left me
feeling wiped-out all day ... napped whenever Cody
phone calls from my father-in-law (why
is Kacie so 'unhappy'?) and from Jamie's teacher (attitude
and Jamie went and picked Sabrina up from the vet's.
tacos for dinner. Took a full dose of medicine and crapped
came by this morning and picked up my dress for the wedding: she's
hemming it for me, about 3" all the way around. Hope I can
new belt for it and maybe some shoes before Saturday.
and clear -- in the 60's --
spring. Just wish I felt better (physically and
"babysitting kids" were all gone by 4:30.
Awards on TV tonight, watched two and a half hours of it (out of four
hours). Big winners -- Michael Bolton
Bonnie Raitt again, Natalie Cole, Marc Cohn as Best New Artist.
called this morning; funny conversation about our rotten kids. :)
She's coming over to cut my hair for the wedding, tomorrow or
cold has now evolved into a chest cold, hacking cough.
dismissal from school -- all the kids here by 1:00.
brought my dress back and I was SHOCKED to discover she'd whacked EIGHT
INCHES off!!! Totally distraught, but it's too late now so I
won't say anything ... that would just hurt her
church for the kids tonight.
picked up her Girl Scout cookies tonight. Andrea paid me $200
in the mail from Douglas Moreland, Grandma's attorney, regarding
disposition of her personal property; says I will be signing the deed
to my half of the house "shortly." My half is appraised at
never showed up to cut my hair: totally pissed!! She called
afternoon with some lame excuse (Joe got a new job and they were
"celebrating.") I hate it when she lets me down.
and the kids left for Bellevue at 3:00 for the wedding rehearsal and
dinner afterwards at Sheryl's ... I stayed home and
a quiet, relaxing evening home alone. Karen stopped by,
off $25 for babysitting. Ray and the kids home at 10:00.
big day. Ray ran me down to Target this morning (belt for
pantyhose) and Volume Shoes in Burien (dark blue pumps).
came by at noon and took a quick two inches off my hair.
left for Bellevue at 2:30 -- spent some time at the
in-laws', visiting with Patty and John -- got to
wedding was lovely. Of course the highlight for me was
Jamie, Kacie & Kyle coming down the aisle. (Kyle was
in his little tux!!) Reception afterwards at The Holiday
Inn. Barbara and Ray seem very happy.
The kids at their aunt's wedding
February 29, 1992
laid-back day ... glad that the wedding and all the
frantic preparations are over with.
went over to my mom's to do some yardwork for her; I spent the day
doing laundry, fixing spaghetti sauce for dinner, napping in the
considerably more light-hearted and energetic than in recent
weeks. Velma and Lori both called, just to talk; Janet
unexpectedly to visit for an hour, cried on my shoulder about her
marriage. (I can totally relate.) Laundry, babysitting. Made
big potato salad, fried chicken and homemade biscuits. Ray
at my mom's again after work, got home around 6:30.
our favorite Monday night TV -- "Fresh Prince of
"Blossom," "Murphy Brown," "Designing Women" and "Northern Exposure,"
which is probably my favorite at the moment.
and rainy this morning ... Kyle woke up with a head
sent him to school anyway because he had no fever. Kids got
of school at 2:00, some kind of teachers' meeting. This was
"Girls Day" -- the third day of the third
-- Jamie, Kacie and I exchanged handmade gifts.
late and watched a great movie, "Grave Secrets."
Sinuses are all backed up again, just when I was beginning to feel a
little "better." Could it be an allergy? (Dust?
Cats? Pollen?) Kyle and I both miserable, but again he went
school because his temp. is normal. No baby here
Caught up on paperwork in my "office," picked at a little housework,
listened to talk radio on KING 1090, my new passion. Girls
to dance class, Kacie & Kyle to church --
home to work on cookie orders. Asleep early.
myself today (nervously) ... down to 155!
lost 10 lbs. since starting the diet seven weeks ago. Gives
the motivation to continue.
stood alone for about five seconds today: won't be long until he starts
walking. Laundry, talk radio, made Jell-O "Jigglers" for the
kids ... such a thrilling life I lead.
a new John Saul, "Comes The Blind Fury." Jamie to Girl Scouts
A few weeks
later, and I
finally seem to be finding
my way out of that cloud of "noxious gas" ...
over. That fact alone raises
my spirits. It's also Friday, and a payday for both Ray and
I, to boot. So I almost couldn't fail to feel more
light-hearted and optimistic today. February wasn't a
complete bomb of a month, I must admit: Valentine's Day, which I adore,
was a lot of fun this year. (I threw an after-school "party"
for my kids, Tracy and the "babysitting kids," and then John and Lori
came over and partied with us that night). And last week
Ray's sister Barbara got married in a beautiful formal wedding that
included all three of our munchkins in the bridal party.
Jamie and Kacie were junior bridesmaids, and Kyle was ring
bearer. So there were some definite highlights last
month. I also made some progress on my new diet (which
started Jan. 14) -- I've lost ten pounds so far, my
clothes are fitting a little better, and my face has lost some of that
ghastly puffiness. I think February just hits me funny every
year because it's winter, and money is tight, and it's easy to feel
like there isn't much to look forward to. I still feel that
way, off and on ... stuck in a rut, without
anything specific to look forward to (a vacation, a fun holiday,
etc.) ... but the worst of it seems to be over for
It's a cold,
morning, and I'm sitting here in
my "office" with my coffee, listening to KING-AM talk radio
... my latest passion. A few weeks ago there was an
article in the newspaper about talk radio shows, particularly local
ones, and it intrigued me. So I turned one on, and I've been
listening ever since. It helps me feel a little more "tuned
in" to the outside world, even when I don't completely understand the
topics being discussed (politics, especially).
Kyle's had a
this week. Even
now, sitting here in the laundry room, I can hear him sniffling and
wheezing out in the living room as he plays Nintendo. Last
night we were all watching The Cosby Show at 8:00 (Channel 13 wouldn't
come in, so we had to bypass The Simpsons) when he abruptly stood up,
kissed me goodnight and stumbled off to bed without prompting
... that's how tired and crummy he felt. I'm
continuing to dose him with Dimetapp at regular intervals, praying that
this doesn't blossom into one of those godawful ear infections (like he
got last year, right about this time). Nothing makes me feel
more ineffectual and helpless than when Kyle is sick and there's
nothing I can do to help him. A cold I can deal with: an ear
infection is beyond my capacity.
One thing about
that has surprised me this
year has been his ambivalence toward school. This is not to
say that he doesn't enjoy it, because he does ...
he can hardly wait to leave for kindergarten each day
... but he never, ever talks about it! You have to
practically drag the details out of him every day. ("How was
school today?" "Fine." "What did you do?"
"Nuthin'.") I guess I expected him to be more enthusiastic
about the whole thing, the way Jamie was ... I
thought he would burst through the door every afternoon, brimming over
with "Mr. Gallagher said this" and "Mr. Gallagher said that."
Instead, he just accepts it all as stoically and unquestioningly as he
accepts everything else in his life. Oh well. I'm
not complaining, exactly ... he's doing very well
in school, so far, and that's the important thing. I simply
expected him to be more pumped-up about it all, the way he is about
Nintendo or the kitties or playing with Joey ...
Kacie and I
have been at
odds lately, and I'm not
sure why, beyond the fact that she's nearly nine
... nine being such a powderkeg of an age, as I learned with
Jay. If I'm yelling at a kid around here these days, four
times out of five it's Kacie. The thing that deives me
craziest about her is her absent-mindedness. Well
... maybe that's not the right term for it. It's
not so much that she's absentminded as much as the fact that she's
thinking in ten directions at once, and getting her to focus on one
thing (putting her laundry away, doing her homework, remembering to
take her lunch to school) requires so many reminders. I have
to admit that I'm intrigued by the way her mind works. She is
so driven all
... so filled with energy and ideas. What
must that feel like?? The way she thinks and the way I think
are so different ... perhaps that's at the root of
our conflict. I just get so impatient with her, and I yell at
her without thinking, and then I feel guilty about it because I'm doing
nothing to build up her already fragile self-esteem. What
gives me comfort is the fact that she's finally learning to fight back,
a little. The new thing is stomping her feet when she's angry
with me. I'll say, "Dammit, Kacie, put on some sweatpants
under that T-shirt!" (at bedtime), and she'll STOMP STOMP STOMP off to
her bedroom, muttering at me under her breath. And the funny
thing is, I'm GLAD that she's stomping and muttering! I'm
glad that she's asserting herself. The fact is that
I would rather have her rebel a little, have her fight back, than
merely fold up and weep,
the way she used
to. I'm glad to see her developing some backbone. I
still wish I could curb my tendency to lash out at her without
thinking, and I wish she weren't so forgetful and careless at times,
but at least she's learning to express her feelings in a more
weekend that perfectly
illustrates what I'm talking about. It was Suday morning, the
day after Barbara's wedding. Peg made both of the girls
beautiful ivory silk dresses for the wedding. They're easily
the nicest dresses they've ever owned, and the fact that they were
handmade by their grandmother makes them even more precious.
They'll probably wear them as Easter dresses this spring, and
eventually I'll end up putting them into the camphor chest
-- the DRESSES, I mean, not the GIRLS! --
to keep forever. Anyway, Sunday morning Kacie asked if she
could wear her bridesmaid's dress to Sunday School, to show her
teachers. I thought about it and decided it would probably be
OK, as long as she was VERY CAREFUL. She promised that yes,
she would be extremely careful. And I have to admit that she
looked very sweet, walking down the street to church with her little
brother. (Kyle, incidentally, wanted to wear his rented
tuxedo to church, but I said no! Although I did allow him to
wear the shoes.) A couple of hours later, while I was
starting to do some laundry, I heard a terrible commotion out in the
living room. Jamie ran into the laundry room shouting,
"Mom! Mrs. Dewksbury's here!!" (Marie Dewksbury,
the mom of Jamie's school friend Christina: we're not exactly
'friends,' but we've spoken a few times.) I walked into the
living room, and there stood Mrs. Dewksbury and a neary-hysterical
Kacie. The story that emerged, through the hysterics, was
this: Kacie had decided, at the last minute, that she and Kyle wouldn't
go to their regular church (Angle Lake Neighborhood Church), but
instead they walked around the block to the other church (which I don't
even know the name of) to attend Sunday School classes there.
As if this weren't bad enough, Kacie decided to participate in a
painting project at this other church, and accidentally brushed up
against the table where Mrs. D was painting ...
winding up with RED PAINT all over the front of her bridesmaid
dress!!! Mrs. Dewksbury was apologizing all over
the place, offering to pay the dry cleaning bill, offering to replace
the dress, etc. etc. Kacie was sobbing so
uncontrollably that I could understand a word she was saying, at
first. ("I'm SORRY!" she sobbed. "I'm
SORRY! I'm SORRY! I'm SORRY!")
I managed to calmly thank Mrs. Dewksbury, and didn't actually get mad
until after she'd left. But then I totally blew. I
ordered Kacie into her bedroom, screaming at her about her carelessness
("Why in the HELL were you over at that other church?? Why
were you PAINTING in that DRESS?? What were you
THINKING?!?!") I stayed in a total rage for about half an
hour while Kacie sat in her room, sobbing. I couldn't control
myself at all: I just felt so frustrated
by her lack of good sense. She knew she had no business going
to that other church (with Kyle in tow) without asking permission
first. She knew she had no business painting in that
dress. What in the world was going on in that head of
hers?? I was utterly flabbergasted by her carelessness.
And then, of
immediately started feeling
bad about yelling at her. She was already devastated about her dress,
and yet there I was, heaping extra abuse on her. When I'd
calmed down a little, I went into her room, looked at her swollen red
little face, and talked to her as calmly as I could. I
explained that the main thing I was angry about wasn't the
dress ... it was her going to the other church
without checking with me. "I need to know where you ARE!" I
said, and she seemed to understand what I was saying. I
admitted that yes, I was also upset about the paint stains on the
dress, and that I couldn't understand why she would think it was OK to
paint while she was wearing it, but that I understood that it was an
accident. Then I had her sit at the kitchen table and write I
will try to be more careful and to think about things 25
times. ("You should have her write it 100 times," Jamie
offered helpfully.) By the time she was finished, we were
both more or less back to normal. Ray took the dress to a dry
cleaner's about an hour later. (Note written in
margin of notebook: "June 3, 1992, dress still isn't
back.") Ray and I both agreed that Mrs. Dewksbury
shouldn't be obligated to pick up the tab for the cleaning; instead,
Ray asked Kacie to smash a huge box of empty aluminum cans, enough to
pay for the $8 cleaning bill, which she did the next day. I
just wish that I hadn't yelled in the first place, I guess
... that I'd taken the calm approach all along. I
can yell at Jamie or Kyle and know that ten minutes later they will
have recovered. But the rules are different where Kacie is
concerned. The harsh word stays with her much
longer. But then again, I also wish that she hadn't been so
careless in the first place. How do we change the basic
structure of our natures?? We don't, I guess. Kacie
will continue to leap before she looks, and I'll continue to yell
before I think, and that's just the way it's going to be. I
just hope that she knows that underneath it all, my love for her is
strong and unwavering. I long ago abandoned the notion of
being a perfect mother, but nothing will ever change the pure and
unconditional love I feel for my Kacie.
mood ... a combination of "Friday" and "payday,"
favorite things! Spent some time writing in my journal,
rough draft of my "Memories of Grandmother" piece for Aunt
Framed some new pieces of kids' artwork, hung them around the kitchen
sink. Babysat Emily after school, along with all the usual
Lori and Tracy over tonight for a few hours --
came by, joined the "party" -- Karen
dropped by to
pay me. Tracy spent the night.
phone call from Aunt Leona (she
was married to Grandma Vert's younger half-brother)
-- she wants to buy Grandma's Alexandrite ring from
don't have any idea what it's worth, but I'll have it appraised next
week. Who knows ... might provide us a
and Lori came by to pick up Tracy this afternoon; Ray took Jamie and
Kyle to the bowling alley. Wendy's for dinner.
Jamie to Safeway for her on-site cookie sale, noon to 2 p.m. (Kacie
came w/us) -- sold quite a few boxes.
friend Bruce -- a professional gemologist
came over and appraised the ring for me. Although it's
Alexandrite, he still values the ring at $695. Mom advises
not take "any less than $500" from Aunt Leona. Now I just
and see what happens.
Danielle today -- she's sick --
Jeosh was sent here from school for misbehaving.
Ray out for groceries tonight. Bed early.
I might hear from Aunt Leona or her daughter Irene today (about the
ring) but so far, nothing. I'm feeling "torn" about this
situation: part of me just wants to let her have the ring for some
token amount, to be nice ... the other part of me
thinking about what I could do with $500 (a
fortune to us in 1992) ... what should
spring-like weather, but still bitterly cold at night.
Daffodils blooming in the backyard.
day, not much to tell. Housework, kids, laundry,
diet. (Scale says 150!)
my god. Hit this morning by the STEAMROLLER FLU
... violent nausea and diarrhea that wrenched me out of bed
a.m. and continued all day, along with a 102° fever, chills and
muscle aches. Velma brought me some medicine and ginger ale,
it was all I could do to babysit and get through the day
Went to bed at 3:30 p.m. (when Danielle and Cody went home) and stayed
there for the rest of the day and evening.
to miss Kyle's very first school program tonight, which broke my
heart. GOD DAMN FLU.
Naturally, Irene called this evening and wanted to bring Aunt Leona
over! I had to tell her I was "too sick"
call back in a day or two.
little better (nausea/diarrhea have let up) but still weak and
shaky. Kids had the day off from school, which was fortunate
because by this afternoon Kyle and Kacie were running tidy little
fevers. Kept them both confined to the house all
Danielle and Cody -- they're off to Disneyland for
days. Quiet day, basically.
home around 6:30, sent him out for pizza.
better, although Kacie and Kyle are both still sick
especially Kacie -- her fever was very high and she
most of the day.
and I took a walk this afternoon, visited two neighborhood garage
sales. Bought clothes for the kids, two big poster frames for
me. Mom and Velma both stopped by to pick up Girl Scout
to Irene ... she says Aunt Leona was "planning" to
give me $500 for the ring all along! Excited!!!!
it's Jamie's turn to be sick, and she's got it the worst of all three
kids ... vomiting and diarrhea, high
stayed in bed all day.
cooked corn beef and cabbage for an early St. Patrick's Day celebration.
rainy. Kept Jamie home from school, but by afternoon she felt
well enough to attend her first softball practice. Ray stayed
home too (I have no idea why: sigh) -- he went over
Chamberlin's and cut firewood most of the afternoon, so at least he was
out of my hair.
"Egg McMuffins" for dinner.
St. Patrick's Day! Fairly nice day ...
got a lot of
work done. Jamie went back to school. Baked a cake
scratch, tinted it green, for the kids' after-school snack.
a wonderful book, "Yesterday's Doll." Tried a new steak and
onions recipe for dinner -- it was great
champagne and "green beer" to celebrate St. Paddy's ...
stuff is from the St. Patricks' Day page in the diary:
weather: Cold, cloudy and rainy ...
that glisters' 'all that shines out
hope and cheer, even with a golden glow
yet not gold. Rather, our pot o' gold
the end of the rainbow is filled with
things listed here below.
- The kids
and I recovering from our awful bout w/flu
forward to getting the $500 from Aunt Leona
beef and cabbage on Sunday night ... delicious!
- My three
little leprechauns: Jamie, Kacie and Kyle.
Kinds of Green:
yard, lush from the rain.
- The last
box of mint Girl Scout cookies, sitting on the kitchen table.
green sweater and pants.
money I'm expecting from Aunt Leona!
for dinner tonight.
- A green
paper butterfly, pinned to my bulletin board.
- My polo
candles on the kitchen table.
on the after-school cake.
- The new
pen Ray brought me from work.
hanging from a green ribbon on the back door.
potholder in the kitchen.
eyes in the summer.
herbs hanging in the kitchen window.
color of spring ... a time of new
Danielle and Cody back today after their Disneyland trip.
tired and sluggish today after last night's "celebrating," didn't get
much done. My dad stopped by to get his cookies, paid
$5.00. Long "phone chat" with Velma.
Big news: Irene and her brother Kurt came by tonight to pick up the
ring ... Irene paid me $500 in CASH!!!
excited, but I've hidden it away, won't tell Ray till this weekend.
much for "not telling Ray till the weekend" ... I
calling him at SP and suggesting a "shopping spree" after
my babysitting people left for the day, Jamie babysat Kacie and Kyle
(pd. her $5) while Ray and I went out and spent the money! We
bought a VCR for the family, a dual-cassette tape deck for me, a new
living room lamp, stuff for the dining room, Kacie's birthday
up the VCR first thing this morning: it works like a dream.
Recorded "All My Children" -- good episode, someone
murdered Will! -- feels great to have a VCR again!
went swimming with Bernadette and her family this evening, Jamie went
to Emily's birthday/slumber party. I worked on "birthday
(made out of colored cardboard) to hang in the kitchen
Wendy's for dinner.
big day ... nine years old!
and Don here at 11:30, picked up all three kids for lunch at
McDonald's -- while they were gone I baked Kacie's b.day
cleaned and decorated the house. Barbara and Rick (the
stopped by; also my mom, Velma, John and Lori.
had four friends spend the night -- Tracy, Angela,
Brianna P. and Bernadette. Lots of noise, fun.
spent the night at Joey's.
ADD KACIE'S BDAY KITTY CAKE PIC
early ... Kacie and her friends woke everybody
Most of her guests were gone by noon or so; Tracy stayed till
spent the day watching movies (borrowed from Velma)
-- "Pacific Heights," "Ghost," "Dances With Wolves."
BBQ'd hamburgers for dinner, we all watched "Terminator 2."
warm and sunny: spring has sprung.
called ... letter from Kathy Bergeron in
... no Cody & Danielle. Cleaned house, made
chicken-fried steak for dinner, did a ton of
worried about the phone bill.
little premenstrual "blah," nothing serious. Jamie to
softball practice, 5:30 to 6:30: I owe her coach $25.
morning 9:30 a.m.
March 24, 1992
Two and a half
later. Coffee in my
"office," still haven't showered, slow easy morning (no Cody &
Danielle today). Cloudy and cool, although we're expected to
reach the mid-60's later this afternoon. I can hear a
lawnmower running somewhere nearby, even though it's only 9:30 in the
morning. Spring has sprung.
Kyle is sitting
living room, munching on
English muffins and watching "Beetlejuice" on the new VCR we bought
last week. I came into an unexpected windfall this month,
when Aunt Leona paid me $500 cash for the Alexandrite ring Grandma left
me in her will. We used the money to buy a VCR for the
family, and a few other things for the house -- a
pretty new table lamp for the living room, chair pads and a tablecloth
for the dining room table, other odds & ends
-- plus I finally got myself a new dual-cassette tape deck
($100 at Silo). It felt so wonderful to just walk into the
store and buy what we wanted. Of course we're broke again
now, and the phone company is making noise about our long-overdue bill,
and Ray is tense and grumpy about everything ...
but it was worth it. I can't help but feel that Grandma
would've wanted us to use the money the way we did, for things we
wanted rather than things we "needed." At least, I hope
that's what she would have wanted.
this past weekend was
nice. I told her, "No party this year" --
we couldn't afford it -- but she wound up having
four friends spend the night (Saturday) so it was like a party
anyway. Lots of noise, presents, junk food and attention!
started this afternoon. Mild cramps this time.
Danielle & Cody -- they'll be back
a lot of work done by this afternoon, then spent the rest of the day
playing with my new tape player, worked on the new "Momstuff"
Cold wine in the p.m., long silly phone call to Lori. Up too
came by this morning (with Jonathan) to visit for an hr. or
... brought over Angela's baby pictures, we sat and looked at
& Cody back today. Early Dismissal for the school
everyone here by 1:00. The house looks like one big unmade
but no one has the "oomph" to do anything about it, least of all me.
for dinner -- kids to dance and church
-- asleep by 9:30.
over again this morning, to show me some new patterns she bought and to
drop off some painkillers (for my toothache, which is pretty much
constant these days). Full babysitting
is WALKING now, by the way! ... I have my hands
Made a batch of chili for the freezer, hamburger soup for tonight's
supper. Andrea paid me -- probably the
only $ we'll
see till next week. So rich last week, so broke this
March 27, 1992
"My feet stink
skunk." Kyle Polen
day. I'm in my usual Friday
good mood. Today is "Pajama Day" at Bow Lake School; Kacie
wore a bathrobe over her shorts and T-shirt, and after some major
cajoling on my part, Jamie grudgingly pulled a sleep-tee over her
clothes and stuck a couple of pink rollers in her hair. (I
told her, "You can't be afraid to look silly once in a
while.") Looking forward to the weekend, even though we
continue to be very low on money ... I think we can
manage to have fun anyway. Tomorrow night Ray and John are
going to a basketball game, leaving Lori and I to fend for
ourselves ... a rare occurrence.
Day" at Bow Lake ... the girls wore their p.j.s
wore pink rollers in her hair) over their regular clothes.
didn't want to participate. Hot, sunny day. Andrea
me over an extra $25 tonight (Ray doesn't know) to cover Jamie's
across the street is making noise about our cats again
... took pictures of Spud & Domi in her yard.
spent the night; Kyle spent the night at Joey's.
Tonight with Lori was lots of
fun. John dropped her off in the middle of the afternoon and
she stayed until 10:30 or so. John hates it when Lori does
anything without him, especially (for some reason) when it's with me,
so like I said this was a rare occurrence ... we
felt like two giggly school girls getting away with skipping
class. I cooked us a nice dinner, oven-BBQ'd chicken and au
gratin potatoes ... we split an enormous
jug of cheap cold rose ... we watched rented movies
("The Accidental Tourist") ... we made a silly tape
of old 70's music ... we talked about our
sex lives ... we laughed a lot. It was
Boys home by 11.
"Silence of the Lambs" this morning with Jamie. I'd seen it
before (Feb. 22) at Lori's, but the truth is we were drinking and
gabbing so much that night that I didn't actually "see" the movie at
all ... for all intents and purposes, this was my
viewing ... and all I can say is WOW ...
a pot roast for dinner (but no "nice chianti" ...)
Cody, Danielle or Jess today ... nice start to my
week. Laundry, cleaned the kitchen. Getting the
do a thorough spring cleaning SOON. Jamie to softball
NIGHT ... the Academy Awards! Billy
hilarious, as usual. Best moment: Anthony Hopkins' win as
Actor for "Silence of the Lambs," which also won for Best Actress
(Jodie Foster), Director, Screenplay and Film.
relatively easy day, babysitting-wise ... Danielle
are at home with David (Danielle has an ear infection), so just Mak all
day, Josh for two hrs. after school. Got a ton of housework
dragged the summer clothes down from the attic. Minor
disagreement with Janet, but we settled it. ("We
easy," she says.)
ugly fight with Ray tonight, over money, as usual. Tired of
put through an emotional wringer every time I need to "ask" for a
fucking check ... the ultimate humiliation.
had their class pictures taken today (that's what I needed the checks
for). Danielle & Cody are back, kept me busy all day:
walking constantly now. Hot & sunny again
on some shorts for the first time this season. I look better
I did two months ago, starting to get some unsolicited compliments, but
still a long way to go.
to dance class and church.
hot today -- 76° -- but
suddenly in late afternoon it turned cold and WINDY. Weird!
some vague stirrings of discontent with my life ...
yearning to get back out into the world. Feeling confined,
overlooked and unappreciated. Kids aren't helping out much
the house: how do we remedy this?
to Girl Scouts tonight ... Ray was very late
but I'd forgotten he had a "dinner meeting" at work. Watched
with Kacie, enjoyed the windstorm.
day ... housework, babysitting, laundry.
Made a fuss
over Danielle; this is her third birthday, sent some small gifts home
with her. Emily here for awhile after school.
evening. Frozen pizza, went to bed early and read while Ray
Kyle watched a terrible Stephen King movie, "Graveyard
Jamie spent the night at Kaleana's -- she's all
because Paula Abdul is coming to Seattle on May 1st
try to get her a ticket tomorrow.
day. Kaleana's mom called early a.m., offered to pick up
to the Paula Abdul concert, I'll pay her back -- so
took me to Burien, bought typewriter ribbons and paper at my office
supply store. Spent most of the afternoon/evening working on
latest typing project.
Mom called me very early this morning (first day of Daylight Savings
Time, incidentally) -- she fell off a stool
while trying to install mini-blinds, and broke her foot!
totally incapacitated, needed Ray and I (and Kacie and Kyle) to come
over and help her with some things around the house.
first day of Spring Vacation ... a "vacation" for
but ME, of course. All my kids are home this week, plus the
babysitting kids too ... I'll be a gibbering idiot
called; she got her cast put on today. Ray went over to her
house after work, did some yardwork for her.
a little more on my typing project tonight.
stressful day. Someone opened up a ballpoint pen in Kyle's
this morning and smeared ink on EVERYTHING (walls, furniture, bedding,
the Nintendo). No one would "confess" so I yelled at
began her greeting card sales, Jamie played with Emily for awhile this
afternoon, Kyle hung out with Josh and Mak all day.
a great book -- "Red Dragon," Thomas Harris.
stressful day -- all seven kids here, plus Erin
unexpectedly this afternoon with her three boys --
it was a
to Terry Vert; she says that Gram's house is now officially 1/2
called to let us know that Peg has been hospitalized near Port Angeles
with kidney stones; Ray and I called her tonight
She sounds tired and sick.
quiet day. The kids built forts out in the backyard or played
Nintendo most of the day; I napped with Cody, off and
called to let us know Peg's been transported to Evergreen Hospital in
Kirkland -- then tonight she called again to say
looks like cancer. Ray is devastated, so are the
won't know much more until after her surgery on Saturday.
Hut for dinner.
called several times to update us: Peg's surgery is scheduled for noon
tomorrow, at which point we'll know whether the cancer has spread or
not. Ray is trying to remain optimistic, and so am
Full babysitting, four loads of laundry ... helped
keep my mind off things.
flew up from Tucson this afternoon -- she and
stopped by and picked up Ray, took him out to Kirkland to visit their
mom. He was home by 9:30. Quiet evening with my
watched "Silver Bullet."
much lately, have I?
And on days like this (it's another two weeks later) when there is a
lot to tell, I regret the lapse, because it means
back-tracking ... sigh ...
I have just
one of those lovely "Weeks
In Hell" (as I fondly refer to them) that always seem to occur around
this time of year ... otherwise known as "Spring
Break." A nice vacation for everyone but me. The
worst part, of course, was having horrible Josh here every day, all
day. I'm very worried about the influence he's having on
Kyle. (At this point I doubt that I'm going to babysit him
this summer. I haven't decided how or when to break the news
to his parents.) My own kids were fine most of the time, but
Josh was a constant source of stress, Cody was an
irrepressible handful, and my workload quadrupled (along with my blood
pressure). It's over now -- or at least
it will be, come Monday morning when the kids go back to
school -- but I'm still feeling the aftershocks.
happened this week that I need to
mention, and I'm afraid that it's practically all bad news.
My mom fell off a stepladder last weekend and broke her foot, leaving
her completely incapacitated. Ray and the kids and I went
over last Sunday to help her out, before she'd had the cast put
on. Ray did some work around her yard and hauled her garbage,
and I brought her some books and tapes and a container of homemade
chili. Just when we'd finished worrying about my mom, though,
disaster struck the family again ... Peg was
diagnosed with kidney cancer. She and Don Sr. were off on one
of their spontaneous R.V. trips, this time somewhere around Port
Angeles, I think, when she had to be hospitalized with (what they
believed at the time to be) kidney stones. A day or so later
they transported her by ambulance to Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland,
and it was soon after that that we learned the diagnosis was
cancer. I walked into the kitchen Thursday evening and found
Ray crying. He'd just gotten off the phone with his dad, and
he handed me a hastily-scribbled note that said "My mom has kidney
cancer." This has hit him -- and the
girls -- very hard. Peg has surgery
today -- in about an hour, as a matter of
fact -- but we won't know anything conclusive until
next week. In the meantime, all our thoughts, prayers and
love are with her.
much ... sat around and thought about Peg all day,
her surgery went OK. Got some housework and laundry done in
morning, then Ray bought me a bottle of wine and I spent the rest of
the evening typing, listening to music, relaxing.
went rock-climbing with her Girl Scout troop this morning, was gone
most of the day. Ray took Kacie & Kyle "out" for a
hours, so I had some brief blissful time to myself. Watched
Hollywood" -- not as good as I'd hoped, but OK.
went back to school. No Danielle and Cody, so I had a day
less to myself (Mak played quietly in Kyle's room). Velma
by to bring me a "cheer up" gift, a hair bow she made for me.
played her first softball game tonight, they won 13-5; she brought in
two runs, more than anyone else!
news about Peg, although the grapevine informs us that Sheryl is mad at
Ray and I for not going out there this weekend.
went on a field trip to the zoo today with her class.
a lot of energy today, for a change ... on a whim,
the girls' bedroom (they were very surprised) and the front
bathroom. Josh got here unexpectedly early, at 1:00
-- it was an early release day for him, but no one warned
me. VERY tired of babysitting for them.
news this afternoon ... Peg's kidney tumor is
non-cancerous!! Don Sr. called me at 3:00 with the
Ray and I both very happy.
class. Jay stayed home from church but Kacie & Kyle
day. Both Danielle and Mak had diarrhea all
... totally disgusting. I'm feeling really stressed
week and I'm not sure why, unless it's just a delayed reaction to last
week ...? Sat around and did practically nothing
read the book I borrowed from Mom, "Needful Things" by Stephen
girls went to Girl Scouts tonight -- sent an
and $4.00 registration fee with Kacie so she's "official" again.
little better. Ray had the day off from work
and Kyle went to the Food Bank for me, helped fill the cupboards a
bit. It's payday for both of us but there are so many bills
time that we'll be broke by tomorrow.
& Mak's dad was in a car accident this morning, so Mak left at
1:00 and Josh wasn't here at all.
colored Easter eggs tonight; I finished reading "Needful Things."
Saturday. Cleaned house, laundry in the a.m.
went over to my mom's and mowed her yard, the kids and I blew eggs and
painted them. Talked to my friends on the phone
patched things up with Janet, wound up loaning her $20 for Jessica's
joes, wine, movies on the VCR with the kids.
A very nice (if low-key) Easter Sunday 1992. The kids were up
8:30 to open their Easter baskets -- this year the
contained very little candy but made up for that with cartoon videos,
bunnies and coloring books. (Thanks, Easter Bunny
...) I made a fabulous breakfast for the
-- Eggs Benedict and hash browns.
Ray went over and picked up Mom, brought her to our house (in her
wheelchair) to spend the day and have Easter dinner with us.
BBQ'd ribs, I made asparagus and baked potatoes. (Lots of
today!) Mom brought photo albums of the Torgrimson side of
family, had fun looking at those.
Quiet evening, reading with the girls, no TV. Nice.
37th birthday. (No babysitting ...
delightful!!) Baked a German chocolate cake for the birthday
made him a card and tucked $20.00 into it. He came home early
(1:30), seemed to be in good spirits. At 5:00 we all piled
the car and drove to Shorewood Elementary in White Center, watched
Jamie's softball game. Although they lost, Jamie played VERY
afterwards at Denny's, came home and had cake.
day, not a lot to tell. Kacie and I seem to be clashing all
time anymore ... one argument after the
it's just the "third grade terrors" and nothing permanent.
to me I went through this same crap w/Jamie last year.
34th birthday: she stopped by to pick up a birthday card I'd made for
your remembrances down
because, the stars say, you'll want to remember this day."
(Portion of my horoscope for 4/22/92)
sailed through her
surgery with flying colors, and four days later we were unspeakably
relieved to learn that the diagnos was
cancer, after all. According to my father-in-law,
it was a rare form of kidney tumor. She was released from the
hospital two days ago and is recovering at home now. Needless
to say, Ray and the girls are overjoyed. So am I. I
have only just recently begun to realize how much Peg means to
me. It's an affection that has been hard-won but runs very
deed to Grandma's house
is now legally 50% in my name. That's all I know for
now. We're waiting to see if Ted and/or his lawyer approaches
me with an offer to buy out my half, and if they do, I've pretty much
decided to opt for the money rather than the house itself. (I
won't do ANYTHING without consulting as many knowledgeable, unbiased
relatives/friends/resources as possible: the idea of screwing up this
once-in-a-lifetime opportunity scares the shit out of me, and I plan to
proceed with caution.) For now, though, we sit tight, keep
our mouths shut and WAIT.
Busy day, lots of energy. Thoroughly cleaned Kyle's
-- even scrubbed his closet and his floor, looks
wish it would STAY that way for awhile. Velma came by for
this morning -- quick visit. Made potato
leftover Easter eggs) and oven-fried chicken for dinner.
had her softball team pictures taken at 6 p.m., had to miss dance
class -- all three kids to church at 7
again ... babysitting, housework, worked on a
couple of new
tapes ("Sixties" and "Momstuff: Mellow As Hell"). My stepmom
stopped by in the afternoon -- I gave her the G.S.
registration forms so Dad can send them in for me.
Lori & Tracy over tonight for a couple of hours
and John went out for a couple of belated birthday drinks, Lori and I
stayed at my house, listened to music, gabbed. Fun.
had another day off again ... Jamie brought Kaleana
after school, she spent the night. Nice little
all four hours of "It," frozen pizza for dinner.
beautiful day. Karen knocked on the door at 7:30 this morning
pick up Mak's nebulizer and pay me $30. Made Eggs Benedict
for breakfast: the girls all went rollerskating at 10:30 with Prims.
started -- very heavy this time, I feel sort of
wiped-out as a result.
uneventful day. Watched the rented movies today again, this
w/the kids ... "Dead Again" was great the second
only here for a few hours today -- went to a b.day
party at noon. No Danielle and Cody.
Jamie had a softball game at 5:30, I begged off --
home and enjoyed a couple of delicious hours alone, working on
cookbooks. Took my last codeine for toothache
April 28, 1992
what's the matter with me
lately. It takes forever to get me started in the mornings,
and then when I do get moving, everything seems so repetetive and
pointless, it drives me crazy. Laundry? There'll
just be another mountain of it waiting for me tomorrow. Same
thing with dishes, dusting, mopping floors, fixing meals
... it's all just a lot of ridiculous busy work that never
gets "done." And babysitting -- lately, I
hate it. I mean I really HATE it. Mak has pooped
all over Kyle's bedroom floor twice this month, Josh is impossibly
sullen and destructive, and even Danielle & Cody are getting on
my nerves. I don't even care about the money anymore, because
I never even SEE any of it: it goes directly to Ray for
bills. So, just like everything else in my life, babysitting
is a lot of drudgery with little or no reward.
Is that the
trouble ... no
"reward"? Part of me feels like it is. I don't even
mean financial reward, or big thank-you's from Ray and the kids for
laundry well-done, or even a good night's sleep after a productive
day. The sort of "reward" I crave, and miss like hell, and
cannot seem to elicit no matter how hard I try, is that old sense of
well-being and pleasure in what I do. Feeling good in the
mornings, when the coffee is brewing and the kids are eating breakfast
and there are things to do. Cooking a great meal from
scratch. Folding the family's laundry, warm and fresh from
the dryer, and loving the smells of detergent and fabric
softener. Enjoying the way the house looks on quiet spring
afternoons. Lately, none of these things seem to give me any
pleasure anymore. I'm still going through the
motions. Still cooking, still cleaning, still keeping the
place running on schedule. But that's pretty much all it
is -- going through the motions.
Automatic. Underneath it all I feel no pride, no
pleasure. No reward. Nothing but flat, gray,
Some days are
tolerable than others, of
course. The fog lifts once in a while, and I feel a glimmer
of the old Happy Homemaker Terri return. One morning in
twenty I wake up feeling energetic and motivated. I burst
through my day like a lit firecracker, cleaning kids' bedrooms and
hanging pictures on walls and trying out new cookie recipes
until I collapse into an exhausted but satisfied heap. On
days like that, it all seems to have a point to it. I have a
purpose for being. I don't need accolades, I don't need
applause. A nice unsolicited "thank you" once in a while is
great, but I don't even need that as much as I
need the one reward only I can give to myself ...
the reward of simply feeling joy in what I do. And when
that's missing, as it is most of the time these days, then anything and
everything I do -- from cleaning house, to
babysitting, to even being a mom some days -- is
just so much pointless drudgery.
What scares me
is how deep this
goes. This is not just about laundry and vacuuming.
It's not about cleaning up after other peoples' children when they
vomit on my furniture. It has invaded every other facet of my
life recently, everything from talking to my friends on the phone, to
writing in my journal, to simply listening to music, for Pete's
sake. Nothing gives me pleasure, or at least not the way it
should. I just feel like shutting myself off from everything
and everybody, because what is the point, really? My friends
only call when their lives stink and they crave my shoulder.
The journal is a waste of time and energy because I'm just writing the
same crap over and over again. Music says nothing to me
anymore: it only brings back memories of things I'll never feel
again. I want to pull the curtains closed and turn off the
phone and hide until all of this blows over, except that a big part of
me is terrified that it will NEVER blow over. Am I ever going
to feel connected to things again?
if it weren't for the kids,
my tenuous hold on being a normal person would completely
dissolve. They are my life's anchor ...
the only genuine source of joy and motivation in my life at the
moment. And yes, I realize that this isn't necessarily a good
thing. There is something inherently tragic in relying on
someone else for your happiness and self-worth. But what can
I tell you? Everybody needs to have someone, don't
they? For me, it's the kids. I've been a rotten
mother lately -- distracted, snappish,
self-involved, ready to blow at a moment's notice
-- and yet these three wonderful little people love me
ANYWAY. Go figure. Do they sense the turmoil their
mother has felt lately? I don't know how they could possibly
miss it, in spite of my best efforts to keep my unhappiness to
myself. They must know that something
is wrong with Mom, and they must be worried about me, and yet they
don't complain or pry or tiptoe around me. What they do is
simply love me -- unconditionally
-- and continue to be themselves ...
noisy, disruptive, silly, funny, energetic, demanding and
wonderful. The distraction value alone is
therapeutic. How can I sit around feeling depressed when
Kacie and Kyle are in a death grip, fighting over the last Cherry 7-Up
popsicle? Who has time to nurse agoraphobia when Jamie's
softball game starts in half an hour (and she's batting the first
inning)? At least with the kids I feel
committed -- and connected -- to
something that matters. Without that kind of tether, I really
would be floating aimlessly through life right now ...
... oh, I don't
know. I just wish that I could get some of the joy back in my
life. For myself, and for the kids. They deserve
better than what I've been able to give them lately: a mother who hides
behind closed curtains because life has disappointed her. *I*
deserve better, for that matter.
a long time writing in my journal today -- trying
uncover the reason for my recent (long-term) depression
think I just need a vacation from housework and kids ...
chicken parmagiana early in the day (for dinner for Ray &
-- the kids had spaghetti (Kyle calls it
invitations to school for Kyle's b.day next week.
Flowers are in bloom, and the
yard is so lush and green and vivid this morning, I can hardly bear to
look at it. It's almost too
beautiful: I know that if I
scrutinize it too closely, I may see the bikes left laying in the
middle of the lawn, or Kacie's soaking-wet tennis shoes in the
driveway, or the bugs crawling on the gorgeous purple flowers over by
the fence. Better to just close the curtains and not look at
it at all, I guess, than let ugly reality intrude on my vision.
The girls were
walking to school this
morning. All of a sudden they've decided to start wearing
their hair in braids ... not Dorothy from "The
Wizard of Oz" braids, but one big braid going down the back.
(They'd rather die than wear the other kind.) Anyway, Kacie
said to me after breakfast, "Mom, will you French-braid my
hair?" French-braiding -- like wrapping
presents -- is one of those skills that I would
like to be really good at -- one of those skills I
feel I SHOULD be really good at -- but I'm
not. I don't know if it's because my fingers are too short
and stubby, or if it's one of those left brain/right brain kinds of
things that make it impossible for me to master, but whatever it is, I
stink on ice. OK? Besides that, Kacie managed to
get toothpaste in her hair this morning, so it was all sticky and
matted. I tried to French-braid it, but it wouldn't
cooperate, so finally we just wound up putting one regular (American?)
braid down her back. Then Jamie wanted the same
thing. Lately, Jamie has discovered hot showers
-- she wants to take one every day, practically
-- if she gets up early enough in the morning, and if I don't
have the baby here (so I can shower later in the day), she grabs one
before breakfast. This was an up-early/no-Cody morning, so
when she sat down in front of me and handed me the brush, her hair was
soaking wet and smelled like Flex shampoo. The difference in
texture between her hair and Kacie's, incidentally, is
remarkable. With Jamie's hair, it felt like I was working
with yards and yards of very heavy, luxurious rope: with Kacie it's
more like delicate, light-as-a-feather spun silk. I
managed to pull all of Jamie's wet, heavy hair into one long braid
hanging down the back -- like Kacie's
-- and it was cute watching the two of them walking down the
street, side by side, identical braids falling down the backs of their
real point to this
anecdote, I guess, except that I feel kind of guilty and embarrassed
about yesterday's self-indulgent, crybaby journal entry, and I feel I
owe it to you to be determinedly more anecdotal today, to make up for
it. As is usually the case the day after I write something as
grim and self-pitying as I wrote yesterday, re-reading it is
painful. I have to physically restrain myself from ripping
those pages out, because I don't want anybody reading them and
realizing what a self-engrossed dope I can be. Yes, I'm
depressed. Yes, I'm having some trouble feeling good about my
life right now. But "flat gray empty-empty-empty"
... ?? Gag me.
I think the
that's REALLY wrong with me
at the moment is a very normal, very predictable case of job
burn-out. Who wouldn't get tired of washing dishes and
changing diapers after ten years? I've reached a point where
I want more for myself -- and for my life
-- and what is so mysterious about that? I can
either sit in this house day after day, snapping at the kids and
writing a lot of pointless drivel in my journal, feeling sorry for poor
little me ... or else I can wake up and do
something about it. It seems as though I go through this same
thing every couple of years or so: I'm going along just fine, enjoying
a temporarily quiet point in my life, and suddenly I wake up one
morning and crave change. Every three years or so, I need a
major shake-up. The last time, I supposed, was when I made
the big push to move into this house ... all the
anxiety over moving and money, the big changes it brought to our lives,
etc. etc. etc. I felt very "alive" then
-- scared and overwhelmed and anxious, but ALIVE
-- and when it was all over and we'd successfully managed to
get the house and get settled in, I felt a wonderful sense of
accomplishment and peace. But now it's two and a half years
later, and Terri craves another "change fix." The thing is,
of course, I won't go out and pursue any kind of change. I'll
sit here in this house, with the curtains drawn and the phone turned
off, and I'll wait for the change to come to ME. That's the
way it's always been ... that's the way it will
probably always be.
Terrible rioting and race-related violence in L.A. today, a result of
the Rodney King verdict (four police officers were acquitted)
-- lots of coverage on TV.
Wrote some more in
my journal: things seem a little less bleak than they did
on tapes, mostly the "Momstuff" things. Girls to dance class,
three kids to church. Cold wine, phone conversations
sleepy day. Danielle & Cody here until very late
(6:30). Napped, watched TV. Jamie brought Jessica
home after school -- they cleaned up the kitchen
me -- watched an old tape of "The Princess
G.S. tonight -- Kyle and I watched the final "Cosby
Show." Frozen pizza.
is a big
tonight she and Kaleana (and an adult friend of Kaleana's family) are
going to the Paula Abdul concert at the Tacoma Dome! Jamie
was so excited this morning, she could barely sit still long enough to
eat her breakfast. This concert is the culmination of three
years' unwavering devotion ... a dream come true
for Jay. It's costing me nearly fifty bucks to send her to
the show ($28.50 for the ticket, another $20 for spending money), but I
didn't hesitate for a moment. How many times do you get the
chance to see your idol in person? Especially when you're ten
called very early this morning (8 a.m.), said the concert was
"wonderful." She spent the day at Kaleana's, didn't get home
until late in the afternoon. Ray went over and worked at my
mom's; Kyle and Kacie played outside (hot and sunny) most of the
day. I mopped floors, cleaned up the laundry room.
tonight -- "The Super" (kind of dumb).
BBQ'd ham sandwiches. Ray bought Kyle's birthday bike.
and I got up fairly early, watched "Young Guns" so she could get a good
luck at Emilio Estevez (who married Paula Abdul on Thursday)
-- then she was off to softball practice.
stomach ache and headache all afternoon; Ray just let me
Felt better early in the evening. Ray BBQ'd some good little
steaks, I fixed baked potatoes, Indian Salad and corn on the cob to go
big day: Kyle's sixth birthday!
hot day: got up before 7 a.m. to bake Kyle's cake, clean the kitchen
and the house before it heated up. After school, five of
friends from school came over for cake and play -- Aaron
Egbert, Aaron Phillips, Chaz Tremblay, Christopher Kairuz and Joey
Bontempo. Lots of noise, presents, mess. Gave Kyle
bike -- it's a twenty-incher, VERY big for him but
and Lori stopped by with a gift, so did my mom. Jay softball
blurb (no bday pics, not the same boys probably)
Recovering from yesterday's "celebration" ... very
again today, not much energy ... house is a
but I'm too wiped out to care. The only constructive thing I
managed to do was prepare an enormous taco and Spanish rice dinner for
everyone, in honor of Cinco de Mayo.
Tried to stay up and watch "Coming To America," but couldn't make it
all the way through.
House in total chaos: Monday's birthday party mess, last night's taco
mess. Wanted to jump in and get an early start on everything,
unexpected company (Velma & Jonathan, then Valerie) prevented
from getting much done until Kyle left for school after noon.
Hot AGAIN. Cleaned house, two loads of laundry, made orange
chicken for dinner in the electric skillet so I wouldn't heat up the
Dance class, church.
Stayed up and read "The Library Policeman" (second time)from Stephen
King's "Four Past Midnight."
& Cody here for the first time all week. A little
it's been in several days. Dad & Valerie came by at
dropped off belated presents for Kacie (short overalls) and Kyle (bike
helmet, bike horn). Shocked by how much weight Dad has lost,
thin and old he looks.
a wonderful new/old Clapton album ("Behind The Sun") I've owned for
five years but never played all the way through before
it's filled with great songs -- I love when that
to G.S., Ray worked next door at Betty & Don's.
The Paula Abdul concert
well last week ...
even the newspaper review was good. I was kind of worried
about sending Jamie to Tacoma with people I don't know very well,
primarily because last week was the week the country went crazy over
the Rodney King verdict -- unprecedented racial
tension and violence in all of the big cities --
but nothing appears to have spoiled Jamie's special evening.
She came home the next day wearing her concert T-shirt, full of stories
about the show. Paula had gotten married the day before the
concert (to actor Emilio Estevez), and I teased Jamie, saying things
like "Is it Paula ESTEVEZ now?" and "I'll bet she had a smile on HER
face!" But Jamie took it all good-naturedly.
good day. Velma came by in the a.m., picked up some boxes for
moving. Ray brought me a package of blank tapes so I could
my Reilly & Maloney Greatest Hits as a makeshift Mother's Day
for Mom. (I've also made her a card with a bunch of different
memory anecdotes about our relationship in it.)
spent the night with Jamie.
visit this evening from Karen -- minor quibble over
-- she's looking for a new daycare for Josh.
"Batman" with Ray.
"Thelma & Louise" this morning ... terrific
movie, sad ending.
and Jamie had some sort of disagreement after lunch, Kaleana left in a
a "mini nervous breakdown" this afternoon when I walked into the girls'
room and discovered a three-foot pile of dirty clothes and
... very upset for about an hour. Ray doesn't
May 10, 1992
Mother's Day ... my eleventh! Kids gave
hand-drawn cards, lots of hugs and kisses. I'm a lucky lady.
came over at 12:30, then she and the kids and Ray and I drove out to
Bellevue to have dinner with the in-laws at Sue's house. Ham,
by 6 p.m. -- Ray went to the store and bought a
bottles of champagne for Mothers Day. Stayed up and watched a
Saturday Night Live Mother's Day special.
May 11, 1992
Gail Sheehy's "Passages." It seems to be helping me a great
deal. My restlessness and depression don't seem to be as
groundless ... it's actually very normal for my age
physically awful from last night's champagne. Tried going to
Jamie's softball game at 5:30, but my head and my stomach were pounding
and I had to come home.
& cheese w/ham for an easy supper.
May 12, 1992
happening to me, but now at
least I seem to understand what it is. Since my "flat gray
empty-empty-empty" journal entry of two weeks ago
-- and my day-after denial and rationalization, which I'm now
even more embarrassed about than I was the original sentiment
-- things have escalated internally.
afternoon (May 9th) I walked into the girls' bedroom, took one look at
the enormous pile of dirty clothes and damp towels laying on their
floor, and promptly burst into tears. Jamie was the only one
home at the time, and she watched in horror as I screamed, cried, threw
towels around, and finally stood at the kitchen sink, sobbing
uncontrollably. I felt like all internal controls had snapped
off at once. On the face of it, I tried rationalizing: I had
a hangover, I was tired, I was at the mid-point of my menstrual cycle
(lately, a tricky time for me), I don't get enough help around the
house. Etc. But all of that is just surface
stuff. The real "stuff" is deeply internal, and
-- I've just learned, within the past day or two
-- so completely normal, predictable and negotiable, if I
handle it right, that there may be some light at the end of the tunnel
after all ... if I don't fuck it up
is not to say that
crisis is any less painful, uncomfortable and debilitating.
Right now it is at the center of everything. But the point is that two
weeks ago I thought I was losing my mind, and today I know that I'm
merely going through a passage ...
I'm reading Gail
Sheehy. Finally. It's kind of funny how it
happened: Sunday night I was standing on a stool, rummaging through the
stacks of old paperbacks in the bedroom closet, looking for Ann Rule's
"The Stranger Beside Me." (A little light reading for
Mother's Day, ha.) But for some reason
I wound up dragging out my beat-up, coverless old copy of "Passages"
instead, which I'd basically never gotten around to reading.
Until now. For the past two days it has consumed me, or I've
consumed it, or something. It isn't the answer to everything, of
course ... it's only a first step. Mostly
all it's doing for me so far is convincing me that I'm not going
insane, and shedding some light on why I feel the way I do.
Here are some things that speak to me right now (paraphrased, somewhat):
asked 'Why are
you feeling low?,' most will displace the inner message onto a 'marker
event' ... probably less than 10% would say, 'There
is some unknown disturbance within me, and even though it's painful, I
feel I have to stay with it and ride it out.' "
see myself doing both
these things. Gail Sheehy talks about "marker events" as
being the concrete happenings of our lives (marriage, childbirth,
deaths of loved ones, graduations, etc.) The don't
necessarily indicate the beginning or ending of a "passage," but
sometimes they may precipitate one, at least in our own minds, or force
us to confront feelings that had been there for a while
anyway. Grandma's death last year was a marker event for me,
and it would be easy -- or it would have been easy,
two weeks ago -- for me to displace my recent
unhappiness and desire for change onto that particular marker
event. In fact, I came close, a few days ago, to sitting here
and writing in this jounral about her death being "at the root" of my
depression, because I honestly thought it was. And maybe it
does have something to do with it. But I also know now that I
am at precisely the age (34) and the point in my life where the next
passage is practically inevitable. In other words: THIS IS SUPPOSED TO
BE HAPPENING. It was happening before I started to read the
book. I'm not losing my mind!! (Maybe it sounds
like it right now, but actually I'm just excited about my "epiphany,"
and feeling for the first time in a very long time that I may be on the
right track.) The point is that I'm among those 10% who are
willing to say there is an "unknown disturbance" at work within me
right now, and I AM going to ride it out. I hope.
have reached some
sort of meridian in my life. I had better take a survey, re-examine
where I have been, and re-evaluate how I am going to spend my resources
from now on. Why am I doing all this? What do I
really believe in? I have only so much time to find my own
chose The Caregiver
my life -- for my identity --
although now I feel like I have to go back and discern the hows and
whys of my choice. This is a lot of murky water that I don't
feel like navigating right at this moment, and I'm still working my way
slowly and carefully through that chapter in the book ... but
what speaks to me right now -- what scares HELL out
of me, actually -- is realizing that I may have
goofed big time when I assumed that Mommyhood was forever.
The idea of "disassembling my identity and building a new one" is
profoundly scary. But what's even scarier is Gail Sheehy's
dire warning for those who don't:
one has refused
to budge through the midlife transition, the sense of staleness will
calcify into resignation. One by one, the safety and supports
will be withdrawn from the person who is standing still."
is what scares me
most, I think ... what has ALWAYS scared me the
most ... feeling "resigned." It scares me
even more than the idea of tearing myself apart and putting myself back
together. It scares me more than the kids growing up and not
needing me anymore. It scares me more than knowing that I am
not destined for greatness or for true love. Waking up ten
years from now and finding myself in the exact same fucking
situation -- cut off from the world, married to
someone I don't love, unsure of myself, feeling no joy in what I
do -- and, on top of it all, resigned
to it -- that's what scares me the most.
there's a lot
to be done here: a lot of thinking, a lot of anger to be resolved, a
lot of reading and learning and praying and crying and goofy journal
entries. I'm not going to get it all done in one day, any
more than I'm ever going to "finish" the laundry. And in the
meantime there's still all of the day-to-day shit to deal
with ... Jamie just got sent home from school sick,
Kyle is bouncing a rubber ball in the dining room and it just missed
the ceiling fan by an inch, the house is a mess, babysitting is a
constant pain in the butt, my marriage is a joke. It's tough
to try and sort out all the internal stuff and balance the externals,
too. There's still a part of me that thinks I'm being
self-indulgent. ("What are you doing sitting around writing
in your journal when there's LAUNDRY to be done?") And God
knows there have been plenty of other times in my life when I've felt
just inchews away from a major breakthrough of some sort or another,
only to have it peter out a day or two later. It's so easy to
sit here and yammer on and on about "disassembling myself" and
"re-examining" and "re-evaluating" ... to talk
about going back to school, taking better care of myself, moving back
out into the world ... it's quite another thing to
take any of this stuff off the written page and apply it, especially
when I start getting bogged down with the day-to-day. I am
going to have to put up the fight of my life to keep this from
happening. Please, God: give me the backbone. I'd
say, "Send me a mentor," but the truth is that the fight is mine
You can talk the talk, but can you walk the walk
Jamie came home from school this morning, complaining of a "stomach
ache" ... I think she's just exhausted from a
busy days. She spent most of the day snoozing on the sofa
cleaned house around her. Made spaghetti & meatballs,
laundry, basic housecleaning. Velma wanted me to go look at
new house she and her husband are moving into, but I was pooped and
begged off, using Jamie's "illness" as an excuse.
was Josh's last official day here with us: Karen has made new daycare
arrangements for him, so we're finally free of his sullen and
disruptive presence after a year of hell. Worried a little
how this may affect us financially, but otherwise relieved.
continue to watch Mak for another week or so, I think
bought me some wine (to "celebrate") and I had fun, working on the new
"Favorites" tapes. Mom called tonight, wants us to go see
& Away," the new Tom Cruise movie.
May 14, 1992
Nothing day ... napped, watched TV, played with
He is such a sweet baby: we all love him a lot, especially
Cody gets so excited in the afternoons when Ray gets home from
Babysitting over by 5:30. Cooked frozen pizza and salad for
dinner. Girls went to G.S.; Kyle and I watched The Simpsons,
a re-broadcast of the very first "Beverly Hills 90210."
warm. Got a lot done. Sure feels different around
without Josh in the afternoons ... my nerves aren't
went to Megan C.'s slumber/birthday party tonight; sent Ray out for
Taco Time (my treat) for Kyle, Kacie and I. Ray and Kyle
up to watch "Terminator 2" (AGAIN ... zzzzz), Kacie
read in bed together, fell asleep by 10:30.
Ray took the kids and I to Burien -- I wanted to
investigate a new used-records place in Burien, "Soundwaves."
It's not as good as the old place I used to go to, but better than
nothing: picked up $58 worth of stuff. Best finds: John
"Imagine," "Blue Jays" by Justin Hayward and John Lodge.
ran in the sprinkler all afternoon, maybe for the last time?
(Water restrictions start on Monday.) Joey B. spent the night
here with Kyle, Angela with Kacie; Jamie went to Tia's.
up feeling horrible, of course ... not just
also sore throat, headache AND toothache. Complete physical
stopped by to drop off a bottle of ibuprofen for the toothache; John
and Lori came by later, visited for about an hour.
was in a shitty mood tonight, on top of everything else: threw a
tantrum when I reminded him that he'd promised to BBQ steak for
dinner. Finally he stormed out the door (with MY money),
some crappy little tip steaks, then all but threw them at us.
He's a big, self-centered, drunken, deaf, stupid, insensitive lout and
I loathe him.
Crap, crap, CRAP. For the second time this year I am flat on
back in bed with a major bug ... this time it feels
strep throat. Fever up to 104, but my throat is so sore and
I can barely get an aspirin (or anything else) down.
was hellish, but worst of all was having to miss Jamie and Kacie's
dance recital tonight. Fortunately they repeat the recital on
Wednesday, so I can still go if I'm feeling better. Tonight
Kyle, Peg, Don and my mom went so the girls had plenty of "audience"
even without me. Still felt bad, tho.
finally -- reluctantly -- took
me to the
Riverton Hospital E.R. this evening after Mak went home (and after I'd
spent another full day on the couch). I was right: it's strep
throat. They put me on amoxycillin, gave me a little codeine
tonight. I should be better soon.
school field trip today, by the way -- Space Needle
and Pacific Science Center.)
Woke up feeling human for the first time in days. Still a
pain in my throat and a headache if I don't take aspirin every 4 hrs.
on schedule, but otherwise MUCH better. Got caught up on
kitchen, diary and phone calls.
drove the girls and I to the dance recital at 7:00
was lovely, I especially enjoyed sitting by myself
girls were wonderful.
by 9:30, had a hamburger and potato salad for a late supper, season
finale of "Quantum Leap."
still plugging away
this stuff, internally anyway. It's a little over a week
later and I'm just recovering from a bout of strep throat, so I haven't
gotten much of anything done for a few days. I got sick last
weekend, and by Tuesday I was in agony -- headache,
sore throat and fever -- so much so that Ray
finally, grudgingly took me to the Emergency Room (reeking of
beer -- him! not me! -- I was
very embarrassed) so a doctor could look at me. They took a
throat culture and ran a blood test and the whole business, prescribed
an antibiotic and a little codeine for the worst of the headache, and
today I feel 99% better. I actually caught myself humming
this morning, as I was making my coffee. I suppose that
there's nothing like a few days of feeling like crap to make you
appreciate good health. I can't help but wonder if stress and
depression contributed to my getting sick, though. Did I
inadvertently bring this on myself? And if so, how do I
prevent it from happening again?
Why am I
"all of this," I
Sheehy means my life, my work, my choices. On the face of it
I'm maintaining a home and a family because it's what I chose to
do. It's an obligation, not necessarily because society
dictates that it is, but because I feel that I got myself into this
(having kids, moving into a house), and I'm responsible for following
through. I can't just walk away from it. "Good" mothers don't
just throw in the towel when the going gets tough.
we could probably
some interesting stuff about why, if this is so, my own mother "walked
away" and left her kids when the "going got tough," and whether or not
that made her a "bad" mother, and whether this is at the root of my own
feverish attempts to be the best damn mother on the face of the
planet ... I like to think that I've worked all
this out already, that I've forgiven her and come to understand why she
did what she did. And maybe I have. But maybe I
haven't. But this isn't what I want to talk about, at least
not right now. It's too involved and it runs too deep and
it'll take me away from the real subject at hand, which is why I'm
doing what I'm doing.)
when I stop
about it, I don't REALLY want to be the best damn mother on the face of
the planet. Most of the time, "good enough" is good enough:
some days, "vertical and breathing" suits me just fine. This
is not an area where I generally feel a lot of pressure. My
kids seem to be growing up quite nicely, whether because of me or in
spite of me, I'm not sure (only half-kidding here)
... they're well-adjusted, they're healthy, they're
intelligent and polite and personable and have minds of their
own. I asked the girls the other day, "Are you having happy
childhoods?" My tone was playful, but the question was
serious. Both Jamie and Kacie replied that yes,
they're happy children ("I'm a woman,"
Kacie said: she always says this), and that satisfied me more or less
completely. Of course, I worry sometimes that I'm not like
most other moms I know. How do I describe the way things are
around here? My perception of our lifestyle is probably
skewed. I perceive myself as the sort of
free-wheeling, permissive -- no,
"relaxed" -- slightly Bohemian Mom I always
secretly craved when I was a kid growing up under Grandma's lovingly
rigid thumb. At least, that's how I like to see
myself. A product of my beloved 60's. No hard and
fast rules (beyond the obvious, at least: look both ways, clean up your
own mess, no cartwheels in the living room when Mom's playing an
album). I have trouble making anything stick, like
punishments or lists of rules or "chore charts" (although I do try,
once in a while). But the truth is that I generally prefer to
be arbitrary. It's not as chafing. Bare feet,
jeans, meals eaten in front of the TV, no real bedtimes, free speech
encouraged (to a point), discipline when warranted, lots of social
activities for the kids, freedom to dress and wear their hair as they
please (although, again, to a point), freedom to listen to the music
and watch the TV shows of their choice. Freedom to go to a
Paula Abdul concert at age ten! Sometimes I think I let my
kids do all of the things I was never allowed to do so I can sit back
and vicariously enjoy it.
course I hear
voice in a lot of this ... her voice from the 60's,
from my childhood, before she loosened up and became more relaxed about
things ... and it says that what I actually am is
lazy, permissive, and guilty of neglect. It says that what I
OUGHT to be doing is getting those kids to bed at an early hour every
night, making them work around the house more, cracking down on
homework, eating dinner at the table together every night. I
should be brushing Jamie and Kacie's hair into neat, severe little
ponytails every morning before school ... and as
for those CLOTHES they're wearing ... !
(For some reason the voice is much harder on me where the girls are
concerned.) It is at these times that I put up yet another
new "chore chart," or lash out at the kids about their dirty bedrooms,
or feel a sudden urge to oversee every inch of Kacie's
homework. It is at these times, also, that I feel most guilty
and inadequate as a mother. I'm not laying blame on Grandma
for anything, let me hasten to add: the voice may SOUND like hers, but
it's actually my own voice, what Sheehy calls my "Inner
Custodian." More about that another time. For right
now, I'll just say that where parenting is concerned, I usually do
things as differently from my own childhood as possible
-- and my Inner Custodian gives me a LOT of shit about
it. If I ignore it, it goes away after awhile, and the chore
chart goes unheeded and I just hand out jobs as needed, and we're all a
lot happier that way. If I don't ignore it, I feel wounded by
failure, I retreat into myself, I make life unpleasant for
everyone ... especially myself.
say I don't think I'm like other mothers, though, I'm not just talking
about lack of structure, or the freedoms I allow, or the way I
dress. It's not about "good" or "bad" mothering.
It's more about the way I relate to my children, I think
... about the way I talk to them, behave around
them. There is very little that my kids don't know about my
life: I don't hide much from them. Some of the more unsavory
things from my past, maybe, but that's about it. I'm frank
about the way I'm feeling. I speak my mind.
Sometimes they don't like hearing what I have to say, but they'll never
be able to accuse me of being secretive or false with them. I
feel free to be silly around them, too ... to sing
goofy songs, or to dance like an idiot, or to lay on the floor with
them and watch TV. We share similar tastes in music and TV;
we laugh about a lot of the same things. It's not so much
that I'm trying to be a "pal" to them ... I just am,
naturally, and I feel inordinately close to them and a part
of their lives as a result. I don't expect this to last
forever. Or at least I realize that there will be starts and
stops all along the way, especially with the girls. I'm not
going to go trailing after them to the Prom. Our "closeness"
will have a lot to do with how old they are, what's going on in their
lives, what's going on in my life, how much independence they require
at any given point. Baby birds leaving the nest and all
that. OK. I'm certain I'll be able to handle the
ebb and flow. As a matter of fact, Mother Nature
-- or this midlife crisis of mine -- or
SOMETHING seems to be doing some of the work for me recently.
Lately, just within the past couple months or so, I've noticed a change
in the way I feel about my kids ... a general
internal "loosening." It's not that I love them any less: I
love them more every day. But I don't seem to be as
obsessive/compulsive about them, now that they're getting
older ... there isn't that frantic need to know
where they are and what they're doing, every single minute of the
day. I can't really explain this except to say that my love
for them, which is constant and unconditional, nonetheless is not so
overpowering that everything else is eclipsed. The only
analogy I can think of here is the little red tricycle in the
rain. Do you remember? Jamie was very young, maybe
two or three, and she went to spend the night at Peg and
Don's. It was one of our earliest separations, and I took it
HARD: every time I looked out the window I saw her little red tricycle
sitting forlornly in the rain, and it was excruciatingly
painful. I've never been so lonely for someone in my life,
before or since. But now it's different
... I can miss her, or I can miss Kacie or Kyle when they've
gone somewhere, and it isn't that total heart-crunching sense of
desolation. There are even times now (don't let The Grandma
Voice hear this) when I enjoy
gone. All of this by way of saying that we can be close and
be apart at the same time. This is something relatively new,
and I like it.
feel certain that the groundwork has been laid, and that we'll always
eventually return to the easy closeness we've felt since they were
born. We'll have our ups and downs, our riffs and squabbles,
our separations (physical and emotional) ... but
always we'll come back to what we have right now. And if all
of this is because of the kind of mother I am, all the better: I can
take credit for a job well done, "Inner Custodian" notwithstanding.
seem to have strayed very far from the original question, which was why
I do what I do. it's an entire week later now (Thursday, May
28th) and all I've talked about is the parenting stuff. I
guess that's because being a mother has been THE most important facet
of my life for the past ten years: not an unimportant
consideration. I think that it all boils down to the fact
that I've made it so important -- have given it
such priority -- because it's something I'm good at
and have enjoyed. OK. Time to think about why I do
the rest of the things I do ...
housecleaning. That's about control, probably
-- needing to feel in control of something. If not
my life, then my kitchen floor. My main problem is that my
standards are impossibly high. When the place isn't perfect,
I feel disconnected, helpless and depressed.
babysitting. That's about money, pure and simple.
weekly wine-and-cigarette binges. An attempt to artifically
recreate the emotional highs and lows I used to feel naturally?
good. Being sick for a few days certainly causes you to
appreciate health! Flew around the house, caught up on as
possible without exhausting myself ... made a tape
mom, wrote a letter to Jennifer James, cooked and froze a
meatloaf. Karen called, asked if I could watch Mak for
three weeks -- no problem.
BBQd chicken for dinner, everyone in a good mood for a change.
feeling wonderful when I got out of bed this morning at 6
a.m. Tracy was sent here from school at 11 a.m.,
complaining she "didn't feel well" -- John and Lori
Yakima all day attending John's uncle's funeral, so she had to come
Made a new "Let's Dance" tape, started a "Car Tape" for
went over and spent the night at Kaleana's; Tracy spent the night
here. Frozen pizza, wine, old movie ("Dreamscape").
Ray took Kyle over to Shannon South to swim and visit with John
Lori. I opted to stay home, enjoyed some rare
Kacie went rock climbing with her Girl Scout troop at Camp Long, Jamie
spent most of the day at Kaleana's. I made a crockpot of
had a terrible accident at the apartments -- fell
off the swings and split his mouth open.
May 24, 1992
Long, HOT, lazy day ... or at least it started out
way. I'd just settled in with my typewriter and some wine
when Lori called, invited us over to watch the MTV Top 100 Video
Countdown. Kids got to swim in the pool. Stayed too
and drank too much.
Tracy came home with us and spent the night.
Day 1992. Kids and Ray home, of course --
Mak -- but Danielle & Cody were here for
(@ overtime rate of $5/hr!)
came by in the afternoon to pick up Tracy.
fajitas and Spanish rice for dinner. Wonderfully cool and
even a little rain: a relief after this past weekend.
to work up the courage to call Grandma's lawyer, Mr. Moreland, and ask
him to represent me in negotiations with Ted(about the house)
... I've decided I'd like to ask Ted to buy me out.
the $ to go back to school, buy a car, have breast reduction
surgery ... but I'd better not count my chickens,
meatloaf, baked potatoes, "Rescue 911," "Rosanne."
and cool again, warmer in the afternoon. Kids got out of
early (1:00) -- there was some kind of mix-up with
and Velma, Angela wound up walking home with my kids by
Sent the girls over to Shannon South on their bikes to pick up some
things I left over there on Sunday.
haven't scraped up the nerve to call the lawyer.
sandwiches, "Paper Moon" this evening.
May 28, 1992
to talk about something else at this point, something that's happening
in my life this week. It's about Grandma's house, and some
decisions I've reached regarding my half of it. These are
decisions that could very well affect the rest of my life
-- and the lives of my family -- so even
though this is likely to bog down in stretches, bear with me.
I'll try to be as clear and concise as I can.
morning I mailed what could be the most important letter I've ever
written. Then again, maybe nothing will come of it at
all. But either way, I've taken a crucial first step and I
feel as though there's no turning back now. It's a letter to
Grandma's attorney, Mr. Moreland, asking if he will represent me in
negotiations with Ted's estate. I explained to Mr. Moreland
that I have no money to pay him with right now, but if he will help me
sell my half of the house (preferably by letting Ted buy me out), I can
pay him out of the proceeds. I've made a decision: I don't
want the house. I want the money. I want the money
so badly, I can taste it ... But anyway, the
letter. I'd been trying to scrape up the nerve to call Mr.
Moreland for almost a week, but could never seem to bring myself to do
it. Maybe writing a letter instead if a more roundabout (read
that: cowardly) way of doing thigns, but at least it's done, it's
MAILED, and now I sit back and wait to see what chain of events I have
Grandma first offered to leave me her half of the house last summer, I
remember my initial feeling was that no matter what, I wanted that
house. There was simply no other thought in my
mind. I closed my eyes and I could picture myself sitting
beneath those enormous willow trees on a warm summer evening
... I could see my dishes displayed in the oak
cabinets ... could see my children in those rooms,
laughing and happy. It was what Grandma wanted,
too. But so much has happened since then: the proposed third
airport runway being built just two blocks away, the declining property
values, Ted's inexplicable hostility ... and this
internal crisis of mine, whatever the hell it is
... nothing is the same as it was last summer. And
now I've reached a point in my heart where I need to weigh my
options. This is a window of opportunity I may very likely
never have again. Would Grandma see it that way too, given
the circumstances? Would she understand why I want the money?
think it's remarkably fortuitous that my internal crisis is coming at a
time when I may actually be able to DO something about it. Or
at least it will be if things work out. Random good
luck? Or God-given opportunity?
not even going to talk about what I would do with the money, if I
should happen to get it, because that would come perilously close to
'counting my chickens' ... a jinx if I've ever
heard of one. For the moment, then, I'll just say this: I
would use it to change my life.
I did it ... sort of. Instead of calling
him, I wrote
him a letter -- and MAILED it. Now all I
can do is
wait, but at least I've taken that first step.
and rainy again, full babysitting. Started a good new book,
"Whispers" by Dean Koontz. Cleaned and rearranged my
looks really nice; planted my summer herbs.
to G.S. -- Jamie didn't want to go.
"Simpsons," "90210," spaghetti.
that's what I've been doing for these past eleven years: living in the
compound. Taking as few risks as possible, probably because
deep down inside I don't believe I'm smart enough, or capable enough,
or talented enough to make it out in the real world. I've
always felt that I'm less worthy a person than other people.
I still feel that way. And THAT, my friend, is "why I do what
I do" ...
shortage of self-esteem: a flat-out absence of
tired ... a fatigue of body and spirit.
the lawyer -- still no word from him
-- have I
made a fool of myself here?
of last-minute Science Fair preparations: tomorrow is the big day.
went to a pizza party with her church club; Jamie took Kyle to church
June 4, 1992
I just found a big green caterpillar nestled in my potted
marjoram ... looks like he's been nibbling on my
basil all night, too. My herbs are my 'babies,' and this
disgusting interloper was a rude shock. Think I need a mug of
coffee and a cigarette to calm down ...
There. A little better. The girls just left for
school (today is Science Fair Day) and Kyle, Danielle, Cody and Mak are
sitting in the living room watching the morning cartoons. I
guess I haven't mentioned that we are no longer watching Josh every
day, as of three weeks ago. (We've still got Mak, although
I'm not sure for how much longer: possibly until the end of
June.) It's been really nice, too. Kyle misses
Josh -- he looked up to him as a surrogate big
brother -- but the truth is that Kyle is so busy
right now during these last two weeks of school, with field trips and
special activities and church stuff, that he hasn't had a
chance to miss Josh as much as he might have otherwise. The
real test of course will be when school lets out for the summer next
week ... then he'll probably whine about not having
anyone to play with. But speaking purely for myself, Josh's
absence is more a relief than anything else.
Science Fair day! The girls left for school this morning in a
flurry of excitement.
Spent most of the day cleaning Kyle's room, doing laundry.
Kacie won a second place ribbon for her solar system project; was very
proud of herself; Jamie unfortunately got third place because Emily
"choked" during the judge's interview -- Jamie is
with her. Walked over to the fair at 7:30, took pictures of
girls' exhibits, they both looked great.
McDonald's for dinner, my treat.
started with a question about papier-mâché, almost
a month ago.
approached me one weekend and asked if I knew how to work with
papier-mâché. I was busy and said I would "check
later." Secretly, I assumed this was just another one of Kacie's
here-today, abandoned-tomorrow ideas. Now I am ashamed of myself for
brushing her off like that, but if I'd known where all of this was
going to lead, I might have handled it very differently. Then again,
had I gotten involved early on, the whole thing might not have turned
out as delightfully as it did.
I dance ahead of myself.
it began to filter into my brain that the school was having a Science
Fair, and that both of my daughters wanted to enter an exhibit.
(Separately -- of course.) In my own defense I must explain that these
final few weeks of school are a flurry of activity ... field trips,
Girls Scouts, dance recitals, softball, church, birthday parties, ad
nauseum. Our days are a constant juggling act. So it's understandable,
perhaps, that the first few times the Science Fair was mentioned, it
escaped my notice. Kacie did seem to suddenly be very interested in the
solar system: I noticed library books on the subject laying on her
bedroom floor, and she began reciting the names of the planets to me
while I cooked dinner.
you know how the planets got their names?" she asked me one evening,
and we had an interesting discussion about mythology and early
astronomy. Eventually I put two and two together and understood that
Kacie wanted to mount an exhibit about the solar system for the Science
Fair. Even then, I was vaguely patronizing: "That's nice, Sweetheart,"
was pretty much the extent of my response.
this point Jamie hadn't come up with a project of her own yet. Once or
twice I found her leafing through reference books or stacks of old
Highlights magazines, looking for ideas.
day that the big sheets of cardboard came home from school with the
girls was the day I realized how serious they were about entering the
Science Fair. Jamie had finally settled on a topic: "Plants And How
They Grow." She also had a partner, Emily. Kacie steadfastly clung to
her solar system idea, and was working by herself. The sheets of
cardboard - three feet high, four feet wide - were backdrops for their
exhibits, to be decorated in any manner they wished. On the next hot
and sunny Saturday, Kacie spread her backdrop out in the back yard and
painted it a vivid, eye-popping purple. Then she painted four big
hearts with arrows piercing each, and at the top she painted the words "Qustons"
(questions), "How were
the planets names?" and "How many wrings dose Satern
She worked diligently on her backdrop for most of the weekend; in the
evenings she was covered with purple paint from head to toe, but almost
the meantime, a row of neatly-labeled flower pots appeared in my
laundry room window, sporting labels that read "Talk nicly 15 min. every day" and
rock music 15 min. every day,"
etc. Jamie and Emily had decided to grow several identical marigold
plants under different conditions and then compare the results. It was
typically Jamie: organized, ambitious and creative. Emily came home
with Jamie after school and they worked on their backdrop together,
which - like the rest of their project - was neat and organized. Jamie
was definitely in charge, Emily the meek and subservient partner. The
seeds in the laundry room began to sprout, right on schedule. There
were occasional feverish telephone conversations about the project, and
in the afternoons I could hear Paula Abdul music wafting from Jamie's
room, played for the marigold whose fate it was to listen to "rock music 15 min. every day."
Jamie's Science Fair project was moving along
like clockwork, and she was smugly certain a blue ribbon was in her
purple backdrop, meanwhile, lay untouched and forgotten in the back
yard for several days while she worked on constructing "planets" for
her display. The papier-mâché
was a fiasco. I had, by this point, adopted a strict hands-off policy
about the whole thing. Reports were filtering in about parents who had
virtually take over their kids' Science Fair projects, and I
pontificated about the "injustice" of this. "How fair is that to the
kids who do all the work themselves?" I sputtered indignantly. Kacie,
unfazed by my reluctance to get involved, stoically plodded along,
trying out new methods of "planet construction." She was certain that
she, too, was destined for a blue ribbon.
then disaster struck. The unfortunate purple backdrop was left
unattended one night when it rained, and the next day - it was gone. It
was assumed that Dad had hauled it off to the garbage, impatient with
what he perceived to be an abandoned mess. That, I figured, was the end
of the solar system. Kacie didn't say much about it. I decided that she
must not have cared very much, one way or the other. There was no angry
outburst, no tears. I chalked the whole thing up to experience and
figured Kacie had, too.
I hadn't counted on was Kacie's tenacity ... the remarkable resiliency
of her spirit. This is one kid who takes a lickin' and keeps on
tickin'. Once an idea is planted in that sweet freckled head of hers,
nothing can stop her.
days remained until the Science Fair. Emily came over after school
again, and she and Jamie put the finishing touches on their backdrop.
The marigolds were all lush and healthy (which seemed, somehow, to
undermine the hypothesis of their experiment -- but I resisted pointing
this out), and the girls arranged them neatly in my redwood planter.
They rehearsed their answers for the judges' interview. Jamie was
getting a little tense by now, and she drilled Emily mercilessly. This
project was her "baby," and she was determined it go off without a
hitch. I made my token suggestion about the backdrop, gently correcting
one misspelled word: Jamie took the criticism graciously. She was still
sure she was going to win first place, but she was a little nervous
now. I reassured her as best I could, reminding her that the point of
the Science Fair was to have fun and to learn something. She agreed,
but I could tell that deep down inside winning still meant everything
went into the laundry room to take clothes out of the dryer, and
glancing out the window I caught sight of Kacie in the garage. She was
hunched over the garage floor, feverishly taping several pieces of
corrugated together with duct tape. "Oh my God!" I said, astonished.
"She's still working on the science project!" At the eleventh hour,
joined me at the window and nodded. "She's been working on it for a few
days," she said. I was flabbergasted.
then Ray came home from work. Kacie looked up at him and smiled. "Wanna
see my Science Fair project?" she asked him, hopefully.
Ray, exhausted and distracted, didn't hear her. "What are you doing
with my duct tape?" he snarled at her. All the joy and hope drained
from her eyes; her shoulders sagged, and my heart did a queasy little
flip-flop in my chest. Kacie feebly started to explain what she was
doing, but Ray clearly wasn't listening ... he was all over her about
the tape, the mess, the intrusion into "his" garage. Kacie burst into
one cares about my project!" she sobbed, and my heart shattered. Here
she was, making a brave last-minute attempt at a comeback, and all she
got was criticism and harsh words.
*I* want to see your project!" I shouted from the laundry room, and I
flew out to the garage. Instantly, she was herself again, all life and
energy. Chattering a mile a minute, she set up her backdrop and began
arranging her display for me. My heart sank. It was such a sad-looking
little thing ... the pieces of cardboard she'd taped together were torn
along the top, and the backdrop leaned to one side. She had crumpled up
balls of tissue paper to make the planets, and they hung in a bunchy
row from a string: "Satern" threatened to fall off at any moment.
Compared to Jamie's neat careful plant exhibit, Kacie's solar system
seemed a little ... shabby. I was suddenly terrified that she would be
the laughing stock of the Science Fair. And yet, Kacie stood there with
an expression of such dignity and quiet pride that I swallowed my
doubts. I hugged her and said, "You've done a fantastic job."
then a funny thing happened. At that moment I saw the display through
Kacie's eyes, and it suddenly didn't seem shabby at all ... it seemed
to symbolize determination, and resourcefulness. It had a charm all its
own. No one would be able to doubt for a minute that Kacie did all the
work herself! I prayed that whoever was doing the judging at the
Science Fair would recognize the value of that.
day of the Science Fair dawned clear and warm. Emily showed up after
breakfast to help Jamie carry the plants and the backdrop to school,
and they walked down the street, exuding brisk self-confidence. Kacie
struggled along behind them, lugging her backdrop: every few minutes
she had to stop, set it down, and regroup. One of the tissue paper
planets fell off and rolled into the middle of the street: she picked
it up and stuffed it into her pocket, then turned and waved at me with
a determinedly cheerful smile. I stood at the window, watching her
valiant struggle, and I shot a quick prayer to God: "Please be gentle
with her heart today."
the rest of the day my thoughts were never far from the Science Fair. I
knew the judging was scheduled for early in the day, so we'd know the
results when they got home from school. I wondered how I was going to
handle this. Would Jamie be a gracious winner? Would Kacie handle her
disappointment well? How would I congratulate one and console the
other? I made an extra-special after school snack, quesadillas and
strawberry Kool-Aid, and as the clock moved closer to 3:30 I sat
quietly in the living room, preparing for the turmoil ahead.
kids came in with their usual burst of noise and exuberance, but to my
astonishment it was Jamie who stalked through the living room with a
tear-stained face and went wordlessly to her room, slamming the door
joyously announced, "Guess what? I got SECOND PLACE!" I felt a little
like Alice, gone through the looking glass. Kacie was utterly radiant,
and I hugged her with genuine pride. But I was still confused.
Jamie out of earshot, I whispered to Kacie, "What happened to her?"
she got Third Place because Emily messed up," Kacie said. There wasn't
the slightest trace of smugness in her voice, no gloating over her
sister's misfortune. Jamie stewed alone in her bedroom for a while, and
then she came out and flounced onto the sofa. "It's not FAIR!" she
wailed, tears filling her eyes. Apparently everything had gone like
clockwork until the interview, at which point the hapless Emily choked.
In spite of repeated rehearsals of what they would say to the judges
(carefully scripted by Jamie), Emily panicked and deviated from the
prepared answers. They lost several crucial points as a
"I hope you
didn't make her feel bad," I said, but the look in Jamie's eyes made it
clear that Emily was toast.
let her pout about it for a while longer, but by evening she'd cheered
up a little. I reminded her, in my best wise-and-wonderful-Mom voice,
that anyone who looked at her exhibit couldn't fail to appreciate the
time and work she'd put into it. And I meant it. Once she managed to
get over some of her disappointment, I think she knew it, too.
evening we walked over to the school and attended the Science Fair. The
gymnasium was hot, noisy and crowded, and it reeked of sulfur - the
result of six separate "volcano" exhibits. Armed with my camera, Kyle
trailing along behind me, we walked up and down the rows of science
projects. Here was Jamie and Emily's, with its neat row of potted
marigolds and the white Third Place ribbon. I took a picture with Jamie
sitting in front of her exhibit, smiling bravely. Then we continued
going up and down the rows. A lot of the exhibits should just as well
have had signs on them saying "ENTERED BY SO-AND-SO'S DAD" ... they
were so sophisticated and professional looking, it was obvious that the
parents had done all the work. Finally, somewhere in the middle of the
third aisle, I spotted it: "KACIE'S OUT OF THIS WORLD EXHIBIT." It was
still leaning to one side, and "Satern" still wanted to fall off, but
now the exhibit bore a stunning red ribbon. Kacie fussed over it for a
moment, straightening the crooked backdrop, before I took a
it's beautiful just the way it is," I said. And I meant it. Kacie had
set out to do something, and she'd done it in spite of obstacles and
set-backs. She is one remarkable kid.
June 5, 1992
OK day. Agreed to watch Joss for a few hours this afternoon:
he was actually fairly well-behaved, no real problems.
Wrote a long (8 page) journal entry about the Science Fair, how funny
the way it turned out.
My sister called -- she and Tim are bringing over
living room furniture for us tomorrow, including a couch, love seat and
Kaleana here to spend the night. Frozen pizza and wine.
June 6, 1992
Hungover. Out of bed early, though --
moved out the
old couch and love seat, then waited all day for Deb and her boyfriend
to show up with the new stuff. It was almost 4:00 before they
finally showed up -- Ray and the kids had
swimming at Shannon South by then. The couch and love seat
bad but look OK.
By late afternoon things just sort of disintegrated around
Lori and I had our first real fight when she called and yelled at me
about something stupid ... then Ray was
complaining about the dinner I'd made (pepperoni grinders and pasta
June 7, 1992
Called Lori nearly first thing today, apologized for yesterday's fight:
she's the best friend I've ever had, and I love her dearly.
Ray took Kyle, Jamie and I to Burien for a quick shopping trip at a
thrift store. Bought Kyle three prs. of shorts, a shirt and a
book for Jay, three books for me. Spent the rest of the day
arranging the new living room furniture (it looks GREAT!!), sipping
screwdrivers. BBQ'd steak for dinner.
sleepy day. Full babysitting. This is the last week
of school ... next week will be a zoo.
went on a field trip to the fire station with his class; Jay went home
with Jessica, home by dinner. French dip sandwiches, potato
pancakes for Ray and the kids.
one of my new books, "Over The Edge" by Jonathan Kellerman.
June 9, 1992
quick word, scribble between lunch dishes and laundry ...
no word from the lawyer, and it's been nearly two weeks now.
I've stopped jumping every time the phone rings. What's going
on, do you suppose? Some sort of legal/psychological
tactic? (Or is that TOO paranoid?) I feel very fish
out of water here. I suppose that what I ought to do is
follow up my letter with a phone call to his office, but the truth is
that the idea of calling him scares me silly. What would I
say? How would I say it? Geez, I miss
Grandma. I miss being able to pick up the phone and asking
her for her opinion. Of course, if she were still alive I
wouldn't even BE in this situation. It's all such a mess, and
I don't have anybody to turn to for advice. Dad and I aren't
speaking (because Ray never went over last month to pick up the
freezer), and I've sort of worn out my welcome with Cousin Terry, I
think ... she is always warm and supportive on the
phone, but I don't want to annoy her with a lot of pesky phone calls
about every little thing. Mom is great, too, but
for once in my life I'd like her to see me as capable and decisive:
able to handle things on my own. And Ray is so out to lunch
about this whole house thing -- so fixated on
money, money, MONEY -- that none of the rest of it
matters to him. (My anxieties over doing "the right
thing" ... my desire to use the money to better our
lives ... etc.) I'm feeling very confused
and very alone. Grandma ... wherever you
are, couldn't you give me the tiniest bit of a 'sign,' the way you did
a few months ago??
stuff: this is the last week of school. I can't believe how
quickly this school year went by. I'm not really looking
forward to this summer, either ...
between the government water restrictions and the anticipated super-hot
weather, it's going to be long, hot and DRY. The kids will
probably drive me crazy. I want to send Jamie & Kacie
to camp this summer, and they were all excited about it for a while,
but I mailed in the applications too late and they couldn't get in: a
real disappointment for all of us. I don't know what we're
going to do for entertainment around here. Probably sit
around twiddling our thumbs and counting our flea bites ...
piece of fairly good news, and then I've got to get back to the
laundry. We finally got some decent living room furniture
this past weekend! Ken, my former stepdad, has given up his
apartment -- as a matter of fact he's moving back
in with Mom, but that's another story -- and his
misfortune became our good fortune because we inherited his sofa and
loveseat. They're not brand-new, of course (they definitely
need a good cleaning), but compared to what they're replacing, they're
SHOW PIECES. I was beginning to think I'd be stuck with those
orange & brown monstrosities forever. We also got
another nice bookcase, which I've set against the west wall in the
living room. It holds all the photo albums, video tapes, and
various knick knacks. The effect is quite lovely.
Finally, a living room I can feel proud of.
full babysitting. Fun phone chats with Lori and
Laundry -- tried out the 'new' dryer Ray installed
went to see "Encino Man" with her teacher after school; Kacie and I
went to Kyle's kindergarten graduation at Bow Lake. A very
night for my son! The ceremony was very sweet, marred briefly
a fists-and-obscenities fight between two drunken dads, otherwise a
June 10, 1992
a terrible dream this morning about Kyle. He and I were
exploring an attic in my grandma's house (the house I grew up in, on
134th). "Look, Kyle!" I said, "I've found a hidden
room!" There was a small room off to one side that I'd never
seen before; it contained a bed and a lot of neatly-stacked boxes, and
there was a tiny window set high on one wall. I was thrilled
with the discovery. "Now Jamie can have a room of her own!" I
exclaimed happily, and I turned around to look at Kyle. He
was opening a door I hadn't noticed earlier. To my horror, I
saw that the door opened onto nothing -- no
balcony, no railing -- and before I could stop him,
he'd tumbled out the door and was falling to the ground
below. At first I thought we were only a story or two above
the ground, but when I looked out the door I saw that we were MILES
above. I could see Kyle below me, screaming as he fell
through the air. "Oh God, Kylie!" I screamed. "I'll
be right down!" But I knew he would die as soon as he hit the
ground, and there was nothing I could do to save him. My only
thought was that I wanted to get down there and hold him in my arms as
he died, so he wouldn't be alone ...
It gives me shivers, just writing about it. It was the worst
dream I've had in months. Fortunately I woke up before he
finished "falling," and I was incredibly relieved to find out I'd been
dreaming, but I was so upset that I immediately went in and layed down
beside him, just to be near him.
think the dream was prompted by something that happened last
night. Bow Lake had its first-ever kindergarten graduation,
and Kacie and I went and watched proudly as Kyle accepted his 'diploma'
from Mr. Gallagher. It was very cute
... all those sweet little kindergarteners in their
hand-made mortar boards, marching up one by one to the stage
.... I had my usual camera in hand (and lump in
throat)! It would have been perfect, in fact, had
it not been for an unpleasant interruption midway through the
ceremony. Mr. Gallagher and Mrs. Wagner were about halfway
through the list of names when suddenly this big, angry black guy burst
through the open gymnasium door, walked up to another man sitting in
the audience, and began shouting obscenities at him. From the
stage, Mrs. Wagner told the man that this was a private function and
asked him to leave, but he ignored her and continued with his wild-eyed
ranting. Finally, several burly young father-types managed to
haul him out of the gym and lock the doors behind him. Mrs.
Wagner quietly slipped off the stage and went to the office to call the
police, and Mr. Gallagher (with amazing cool) managed to distract and
reassure the children, many of whom were visibly upset. But
some of the sweetness of the occasion had been spoiled. I was
scared, at first, and then I was angry. What a rotten thing
for someone to do! I'm still upset about it.
Anyway, once order had been restored and the rest of the diplomas
handed out (including Kylie's), cake and coffee were served.
I felt a little uneasy about hanging around for too long
-- what if this crazy asshole comes back with a
gun? -- so I hurried Kyle and Kacie through a piece
of cake, shook hands with Mr. Gallagher, and hustled my children home
didn't say much about it as we walked home, and I finally realized that
he'd missed most of the commotion. I was glad. This
was such an important occasion for him, and it would have been a shame
if that nutcase had spoiled it for him. Apparently the
incident bothered ME more than I thought, though, because my horrible
dream seems to reflect fear for his safety, doesn't it? Kyle
stepping off into the unknown, and me being unable to "save"
him. I've thought about it all day today. It's such
a big, scary world out there, and he is such a little boy.
Kindergarten is nearly over. What do the coming years hold in
store for my son? I simply can't bear the thought of anybody
hurting him, of anything bad happening to him, yet I am powerless to
prevent it. Last night symbolized this perfectly: even at his
kindergarten graduation, bad things can happen, and all Mom can do is
sit three rows away and watch, helplessly ...
the weight of parenthood is so heavy, I don't know if I can bear
had her softball awards banquet at Round Table Pizza in
Renton -- brought home a beautiful trophy.
"last day of freedom" (before the kids begin summer vacation)
... enjoyed it as much as possible with Mak, Danielle and
here ... while they napped in the p.m., I read,
bagels & cream cheese, caught up on the soaps.
Friday 10 a.m.
June 12, 1992
Well, here it
folks ... my
final hour and a half of freedom before summer vacation kicks
in! Kyle just left for a final one-hour session of
kindergarten, and then the madness begins. Am I ready for
never believe what just
happened. I was out in the living room trying to
hurriedly make a "last day of school" mix tape for the kids (lots of
songs about teachers and summer), when suddenly there was an
enormous explosion that rocked the whole house, and all of the
electricity on the entire block blinked out! A
second explosion followed about fifteen seconds later. Now I
can hear my neighbors standing around in the street, jabbering
excitedly at each other, and sirens wailing in the distance.
We've blown transformers before, but never this
close -- or this LOUD. It was
shocking! I wonder if the power went off at the school,
too? (It did.)
What a way to
end the school year ... !
wanted an hour of "peace and
quiet." Gotta be careful what you wish for, don't you?
(The power's back on,
too.) It was actually quite funny when they got
home ... I stood at the front window and pretended
that I was sobbing hysterically as they walked up the street, which got
them giggling. Then I ran and hid in a bedroom
closet. They came in yelling and screaming:
"MOM! I'm HUNGRY! MOM, KACIE HIT ME!
MOM! MOM!! MOM!!!" (They were pretending
to be brats. Not much of a stretch, hahaha.)
Finally they found where I was hiding and dragged me out, and we sat at
the kitchen table and looked at report cards. Now they're
settled in the living room, happily munching on hamburgers and potato
chips, watching "All My Children." And thus begins our
day of school! (Kyle only had one hour of kindergarten, 10:15
11:30.) The power went out while the kids were at
(transformer blew), but was back on by the time they got
Report cards were all good.
took me out for a while this evening, shopping at Fred Meyer
-- bought some vitamins at the Nutrition Store, a new pair of
Levi's ($38!!) and a shirt. Drinks at BZs.
and rainy. Kids walked over to Shannon South at noon for
birthday party; I joined them an hour later. Stayed most of
day, sipping wine and talking to people. John drove us home
around 6:00. (Ray worked all day, didn't get home until 7:30.)
came by tonight, cut my hair, made us strawberry margaritas.
spent the night. Taco Time for a late dinner.
worked again today, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. ... gave us a
delightfully peaceful, quiet Sunday. Joey stayed most of the
to play with Kyle; Janet picked him up in the afternoon.
call from Terry Vert -- she has an appointment with
Moreland on Tuesday, will ask him about my letter. Mom called
too, just to say hi.
my book -- it wasn't that great, too much
incomprehensible medical jargon.
much in the way of groceries, just fixed odds and ends for
supper. Ray home at 7:30. TV until 10 p.m., fell
Cody, Mak and Josh all here before 8 a.m. ...
"vacation" begins. Cody has a funny rash on his
-- his Grandma came and took him to the doctor at 10:30 and
back an hour later; luckily, it isn't chicken pox!
quite a lot done in spite of all the kids: laundry, fried some chicken
for dinner. New book -- "Lady" by Thomas
-- pretty good. Dumb movie on TV tonight, "Darkman."
still hasn't come home -- kids are worried.
June 16, 1992
A few days
later. This will probably be
the toughest week of the whole summer ... not only do I have
all three of my kids at home, plus Danielle and a nerve-wracking Cody
Bear (who will turn one on Saturday, incidentally), but this is my
final week with Mak ... and Josh.
Technically, we finished watching Josh over a month ago, but due to
circumstances beyond anybody's control he is back for one last
week. On Friday, Karen and I close our account for good, I
hope. I'm worried about how this may affect us financially,
but some things transcend money ... getting through
the summer with my nerves intact, for one ...
The kids are
worried because one of our
kitties seems to have run away. "Domino" (the black and white
kitty) took off last week, and we haven't seen him since.
True to form, Jamie is taking it the hardest. Last night we
were watching late TV (a truly dumb movie called "Darkman") when she
suddenly got this sad, far-away look on her face. I knew she
was thinking about Domi, and I tried to reassure her that he's a
strong, clever cat and that wherever he is, he's "probably
fine." But she wouldn't be comforted. This morning,
in fact, she's making "LOST CAT" signs to put up around the
Full babysitting, same routine. Jamie and Kacie put up "Lost
Kitty" signs all around the area, but I have a sad feeling Domi's gone
Cold wine in the p.m.
Disappointing news tonight -- talked to Terry,
looks like Ted isn't interested in buying me out any time soon.
day, nothing much to tell. One day "break" from Cody
Danielle, which was nice. Napped, read my book, spent time
Jamie: Kacie went over and played with Tracy. The girls are
planning a garage sale for next week ... also,
found a church camp near Lake Stevens that they'd like to go to, will
cost about $160. Hope we can find a way to swing it.
came by today for a visit.
dogs for dinner.
up at 5 a.m., couldn't get back to sleep so I got up, made myself a
little breakfast, enjoyed some peace and quiet. Of course
meant I was dragging by noon ...
& Mak's last day for us (for real this time!)
Danielle & Cody here, so lots of noise. Very
potato salad early in the morning, broiled some extra
weird phone call at 5 p.m. from "Lill," Ted's housekeeper.
They're offering me $30,000 for my half of the house. I told
that I'd have to "talk to my lawyer," but no way would I settle for
such a laughable amount.
and Lori came over, fun evening of BBQ, music, drinks,
conversation. Tracy and Jessica B. spent the night.
worked today, 7:30 to 3:30.
call this morning from Terry, who advises me not to accept Ted's stupid
offer ... she's going to talk to Mr. Moreland again
week for me.
hot. The kids went over to the apartments to swim, all three
home sunburned. Ray took me shopping at Fisher Drugs to buy
some birthday gifts, but then when we got home I felt too shitty to go
to his party -- the kids went without me.
Ray got us
Wendy's for dinner.
Fathers Day. The kids and I served Ray a nice breakfast, the
gave him the Fathers Day stuff they'd made for him.
VERY hot this afternoon -- spent most of the day in
(relatively) cooler garage, drank a couple of screwdrivers.
my dad to wish him a HFD. He was cold and aloof; I hung up in
... reached 92° by
mid-afternoon. All I
could manage to do was lay in front of the fan with a plant-mister,
trying to stay cool.
stopped by in the evening with a brand-new swimming pool for the kids.
steak, Indian salad, microwave noodles for dinner.
sickeningly hot day: 95° by mid-afternoon. My plants
are drooping and so am I.
kids and Danielle enjoyed the new swimming pool most of the day, while
Cody and I staked out spots in front of the fan. Later in the
evening I went out and sat in the pool with the kids
didn't care WHAT the neighbors might think!!
suffering ... 92° again today even though
predicted "cooler" temps today. Nauseous, demoralized, utterly lacking
in energy: tried putting on a little makeup, just to cheer myself up,
but discovered to my disgust that the heat has practically melted all
the cosmetics in my drawer. This has GOT TO STOP!!
worked late again, kids went to church so I was alone for awhile.
Thursday 9 a.m.
Over a week
later, and a
few things to
We are in the middle of a record-breaking heatwave,
first of all ... temps in the mid 90's every day
since last weekend. Today is supposed to be ten degrees
cooler than yesterday -- meaning "only" 85°
instead of 95 -- but I'm not going to complain, as long as it
cools down enough for me to catch up on a few things around
here. I've done nothing but sit in front of the fan, spraying
myself with a plant-mister and sipping ice water, for five days
running. It's left me feeling fat, sloppy, sweaty and
completely demoralized, and I'm sick of it. Just let me get
some laundry done and put on a little makeup, and I might feel
kids, Andrea stopped by
unexpectedly on Monday evening with a brand-new kiddie pool for
everyone to use this summer. Jamie set it up the next
morning, right next to the swingset, and they've practically lived in
it ever since. (I even went out and sat in it for a while on
Tuesday afternoon, when the temps were at their most
sizzling.) So they've had a fun way to cool off.
They've also built their annual summer fort (out of picnic table
benches and an old shower curtain), and that's where they've slept for
the past three nights. It looks like one of those makeshift
shacks you might see in Hobo Town, but the summer fort has become
something of a tradition around here and I don't really care what it
looks like, as long as it gives them SOMETHING TO DO ...
I've found an
alternative to Girl Scout camp for
Jamie & Kacie. It's a church camp near Lake Stevens,
from July 20-24, and it will only cost $161 to send them
both. "Only"? That's a laugh. The truth
of the matter is that $161 seems like an ENORMOUS amount of money to me
at the moment. It's only now beginning to dawn on me, I
think, how much I'm going to miss the income that babysitting Mak and
Josh generated. Ray is working a lot of overtime
but we're still lagging behind on our bills. I have to send
in the camp money before next Monday, but asking Ray about it is
proving to be tougher than I'd anticipated. I was planning to
ask him last night, as a matter of fact, but then he came home at 8:00
(after four hours of overtime) and right away the car broke down in our
driveway, and then he sat at the table shaking his head over the $200
phone bill, andit never seemed to be the right time to bring up the
camp money. I'll try again tonight. Frankly, it
makes me furious to be in this position ... having
to "ask" him for camp tuition, knowing that no matter how or when I
spring it on him, he'll be surly and argumentative about it
But I want the
have their camp.
I still feel so bad about Girl Scout camp falling through, and they're
already so excited (again) about the Lake Stevens camp
... I think I'd be willing to completely prostitute myself to
Ray in order to make it happen for them.
And then there
finally some news about the house
money. Last Friday, Ted had his "housekeeper" (for want of a
better word: she's the woman who moved in and took over after Grandma
died) call and make me an offer to buy my half of the house
for -- are you ready for this?
-- $30,000. Bearing in mind that my half-interest
is valued at $85,000. My first instinct, as always, was to
call Cousin Terry and get her opinion. I really do feel as
though I must be driving her up the wall with my constant phone calls
and questions, but she insists that she doesn't mind a bit, that she
"loves" hearing from me, and I guess she means it. Anyway,
her first response when I told her about Ted's offer was to burst out
laughing! (Is it any wonder I love this lady so?)
The next morning she called me back and said, "Terri Lynn, I told Jim
about your phone call last night, while we were going to dinner, and he
nearly drove the car off the road." The point being that I'm
not alone in thinking the offer ridiculous.
Typed a letter to Ted (one of my politely-menacing specialties), saying
that I'll take no less than $85,000 for my half of the house.
Read it over the phone to Terry and Dad, both approved. (Dad,
incidentally, was MUCH nicer on the phone than he was on Sunday.)
-- blessed relief from the heat. Woke to cloudy
skies!! Very tired, heavy period, bad cramps,
hungover. Jamie gone most of the day, Joey B. here to play
Kyle. Danielle and Cody here, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
the letter to Ted.
home around 6 p.m., in a better mood than usual ...
some bills, gave everybody an "allowance" (even me), got Wendy's for
June 27, 1992
of days later
... Saturday morning. Ray is working today, and the
kids and I are flying around, getting the place picked up.
Ray told the girls last night that if they clean up the backyard and
the garage, he "might" consider writing a check for their camp tuition
when he gets home tonight. So Jamie was tromping around the
backyard at 9:30 this morning, picking up candy wrappers and stray
socks and Ninja Turtles and dirty towels. Kacie is still out
in the garage working -- I can hear her sweeping
and listening to the radio. (Disaster struck a moment
ago: Kyle ran into the garage to ask Kacie a question, and he
accidentally knocked over a jelly glass that had been left on the
garage floor. All I heard was the sound of glass shattering,
followed by Kacie's sharp intake of breath. "Ohhhhh, KYLE!"
she hissed, and Kyle burst into tears. I asked what had
happened, and he flew into my arms, sobbing that it was an
accident. "Well, of course it was," I said calmly, hugging
him. The mess got cleaned up, and now Kyle is happily
bouncing his basketball in the driveway.)
Out of fairness
I must admit that he was
considerably more reasonable about the camp money than I'd expected him
to be. As a matter of fact, he was wonderful last
night ... I'm still reeling from it. I
think he was pleased with his paycheck (all that o.t.) and feeling
generous, because he gave everybody money -- even
me -- and then he sat at the kitchen table paying a
big stack of bills. Afterwards he went out and bought Wendy's
for our dinner, without even complaining about the expense.
The extraordinary thing is that I didn't bring up the subject of the
girls' camp, HE did. I've been tied up in knots about this
for days, anticipating the worst. So this comes as such a
relief, I can hardly stand it.
Anyway, back to
subject of the house
money. What I wound up doing this week was writing a letter
to Ted -- one of my politely menacing
specialties -- saying, essentially, that although I
appreciate his interest in buying me out, I've been "advised" that it
would not be in the best interests of myself or my family to accept
anything less than the appraised value of my half interest. I
suggested that he have his lawyer contact me, and that I hope the issue
can be resolved 'quickly and amicably.' Har.
energetic. Ray worked today, and so did I
house like a maniac, was still cleaning when he got home at 5:00.
really nice day, emotionally. Ray went out and bought a ton
groceries; nice to have food in the house again! Then this
afternoon he took the kids and I down to Target --
shoes for the girls, some makeup for me, a new badminton set for the
BBQ'd a roast, I made mashed potatoes and gravy. Drank a
of gin and tonics, watched "The Empire Strikes Back" with the kids. Ray
wrote a check for the girls to go to camp, will mail it tomorrow.
Horrible news, first thing this morning -- Andrea
job. I am in shock. What the hell will we do for
money?? (Mailed the girls' camp check this morning
myself busy all day, cleaning house and trying to decide how to break
the news to Ray ... then I chickened out and didn't
him at all!! We ate dinner, watched a rented movie ("Cape
Fear") -- Jay's new friend Nicole here to spend the
night -- inside I am terrified.
June 30, 1992
Life has dealt
another blow. (What a
surprise, huh?) I'd just spent a week worrying about the
girls' camp tuition -- which, incidentally, we
mailed this week -- and now, BOOM, something new to
flatten me emotionally: Andrea called yesterday morning to inform me
that she's quit her job. The way she describes it, it was one
of those "quit or be fired" situations. She'd missed too many
days, the boss called her onto the carpet and threatened her with 30
days' probation, and she quit, just like that. She was
obviously very upset, and I suppose I could have said someting
comforting, but the truth is that I was incredibly angry with
her. I still am. "You said we were committed
through the summer," I said to her coldly, and she said, "At the time,
I thought we were." But that's not good enough. It
just isn't. This is the second or third time, in two and a
half years, that she's done something like this. WHAT IN THE
HELL AM I GOING TO DO???
And here's the
part ... I
still haven't broken the news to Ray. Just like last week,
when I was trying to scrape up the nerve to ask him about the camp
money. I wanted to tell him yesterday, but I couldn't do
it. When he got home from work, John and Lori were here for a
quick visit, and he'd just put new tires on his car and he was all
happy about that, and I knew he'd come completely unglued if I told him
I'd lost my babysitting job. Now I'm going to have to call
him at work and tell him, and I know it's going to be bad, bad, bad.
Left a message
work, asking him to call
during his next break. ("I can page him," the receptionist
offered helpfully, but I said no, I'd prefer she not. Still
... it wasn't that
bad. It wasn't good, but it wasn't bad. I told him
that Andrea had quit her job, and he just said something like "Oh,
OK." Impossible to tell whether he was upset or
not. I was so surprised by his non-reaction that I said,
"Well, I'M upset about it," but he just said "OK" again, and said that
we'd talk about it when he gets home.
what to do at this point. I
thought things were going to be tough financially with Josh and Mak
gone, but that's nothing compared to this. I suppose the
worst part is not having any money of "my own."
Will I ever understand men? Probably not. Call Ray
this a.m., told him about Andrea, and all he said was "Oh
-- OK." When he got home this evening he was warm,
understanding and supportive. Is this the dawning of a new
Nicole here all day, also Joey B. to play with Kyle. Still
and mild; nice weather. Made spaghetti for dinner, a meatloaf
the freezer. Jamie went home with Nicole to spend the night.
Ray was so
understanding and supportive
when he got home last night that my mood has done a complete
turn-around today. He said, "We'll be OK (money-wise) for a
few weeks, and by then something will have turned up." I
could barely believe what I was hearing. Lately he has been
so great ... I wish it could always be like
this. I suppose that once I get my inheritance, the money
arguments will start up again ... but for right now
I'm determined to enjoy the prevailing peaceful atmosphere
... not to mention my involuntary 'vacation' from
lies my guilty secret: the
idea of some time off from watching other peoples' children is
thrilling! It's not a 'vacation' in the true sense
-- I've still got Jamie, Kacie and Kyle to contend with,
there is still laundry and cooking and all the other stuff that never
really goes away -- but I'm still feeling this
amazing sense of freedom this morning. No poopy
diapers! No hiding in the laundry toom to smoke a quick
sneaky cigarette! No preparing lunch for the
masses! It's exhilarating. Who knows?
Maybe it was just what I needed.
The mood around
today is festive and
light-hearted. Jamie isn't here -- she
spent the night at her new friend Nicole's house last night
-- but Kacie, Kyle and I are having fun. This is
Spud's first "birthday," for one thing. One year ago today,
Sabrina had her litter of kittens in the girls' bedroom
closet. (I still smile when I remember Jamie's frantic
reaction when she realized what was going on.) Accordingly,
the kids have decided to throw him a birthday party today.
energetic. Kacie and Kyle celebrated Spuddy's "first
with a goofy little party in the garage. Jamie gone all
-- spent the night AGAIN at Nicole's. John and Lori
by in the afternoon, paid me $10 she owed me.
drove over to his brother's and picked up the tent, pitched it in the
backyard for the kids to play in. Tracy spent the night.
with Ray tonight, something stupid.
stopped by this morning to pay me $100 for last week's babysitting; I
ran out to the car to say hello to Danielle & Cody, who I've
very much this week. Lori and her nieces, Mandy and Lacey,
over to pick up Tracy around noon; Kacie and Kyle walked back with them
to the apartments to swim. Alone for a few hours this
afternoon ... nice.
went to see "Batman Returns" with Nicole, finally came home around 6:00.
and I made up, no big deal.
Found out later that Tammy Ward died today. You
may recall that I'd regularly babysat her son ("Little Terry") a few
years earlier. Tammy and her husband were very good to us during
those early years in the apartments -- they're the ones who took
the girls on the camping trip to Greenwater -- and I'll
never forget her kindness. She was a nice lady and a good friend.
home from work today. Cody and Danielle here, 10 .m. to 5
p.m. -- it was so good to see them!!
Andrea paid me
$20 when she picked them up; that will be our fireworks money tomorrow.
took the kids over to the apartments to swim for a couple of hours; I
stayed home, drank a few wine coolers, worked on a tape. When
they got home around 7:30, we watched "E.T." and barbecued hamburgers
Fourth of July. Got up early (pouring-down rain all day),
a nice breakfast for everybody, cleaned the house. Jamie went
see "House Sitter" with the Bontempos.
Lori and Tracy came over at 3:30 and spent the evening with
... drinks, music, conversation, fireworks, fun.
sleepy day ... recovering from last night's
Ray set up the new badminton net in the front yard, so the kids will
have something new to play with this summer. Kacie and Kyle
to a BBQ this evening over at the church -- I made
stir-fry for Ray, Jamie and I. Asleep early.
Beginning to seriously worry now about the money situation.
week felt like a spontaneous "vacation" ... this
reality is setting in. I MUST find a way to bring in some
Still cool and cloudy, a little rain this afternoon. Watched
four hours of a PBS miniseries I'd taped, "Rebecca."
Housecleaning, laundry, phone calls, badminton with the kids and
Ray. BLTs for the kids and Ray, leftover stir-fry for me.
Preoccupied and quiet tonight.
July 7, 1992
worry about the money
situation. Last week felt like a spontaneous "vacation," but
this week reality is setting in. Right now we have food in
the house, and our bills are nearly caught up ...
but what will we do next week when Ray's paycheck runs out and there's
no money coming in from Andrea?
hoping this would be an
uncomplicated, pleasant summer, for a change. Last summer
Grandma Vert was dying, and the summer before that it was Grandma St.
John. I was counting on this summer being smooth and easy, no
crushing emotional blows, just a lot of time spent with my
family ... and now here I am, rationing groceries
and scrounging spare change from the bottom of my purse
again. I'm down to one cigarette for the rest of the day,
which I'm hoarding like the Hope Diamond. This isn't the way
I wanted this summer to be at all.
Ray is still
unfazed by all of
this. I just don't get it.
keeps saying things like, "Well, I guess I'll just let you enjoy your
vacation." Where is all the ranting and raving I've come to
expect? This kinder, gentler Ray is downright
spooky. I'd almost suspect he was up to something if I felt
he were capable of that sort of manipulation. But he isn't,
so I must simply assume that he's just being uncharacteristically
out of things to DO. The house has rarely been so clean
of course, for the kids' rooms!), the laundry is caught up, dinner is
ready every day by noon ... without any babysitting
horribly at loose ends. Badminton, soap operas, phone
... the same old stuff.
still in a good mood, at least.
mom came and picked up the kids at 1:00 for lunch at McDonald's and
swimsuit shopping (for the girls). I cleaned Kyle's room
the girls' room left!), weeded out some stuff for the garage sale we're
having next week. Made some big signs for the sale this
brought me a bottle of wine -- I drank a few
glasses, had a
long fun phone conversation with Lori. Manwich for
Girls slept out in the tent.
a break from manic housecleaning today ... Lori
came by in
the afternoon, brought me some tapes ("Bang a Gong,"
Seat"). Lovely letter from Aunt Mabel ...
chided me for not writing my chapter yet (for the family history book
she's writing). Must do that SOON.
got his hair all cut off into a crew cut, looks so funny!!
... taking a break from
cleaning the girls' bedroom. Barbara and her husband are
bringing over Barbara's old bedroom set this weekend (dresser, vanity
& nightstand), and I'm trying to clear things out in
preparation. I thought this would be a two hour job, at most,
but now it's looking like an all-day job.
girls' room today ... ugh. It took three
four boxes' worth of garbage, but I got it done. Ray's sister
Barbara is supposed to bring over her old bedroom set this weekend, by
the way, so I moved the bookcase out of the girls' room and into Kyle's
to clear space for the new stuff.
and Joey B. here to play for a few hours. Ray not home until
after 6:30 -- so cold and rainy today that he
built a FIRE! Wendy's for dinner; re-read Sue
quote Elton John: "The bitch is back." Our dumbshit neighbor
across the street called Animal Control about our cats, so A.C. paid us
a visit this morning. They said she's putting a "trap" in her
front yard. Personally, I think she's just getting back at us
the Fourth of July.
S. stopped by for a quick visit. John and Lori here for most
the afternoon -- funny game of badminton.
day, lots of good movies: "The Hand That Rocks The Cradle," (a rental,
was very good), "Play It Again, Sam," "The Buddy Holly
Kids and Ray went over to the apts. to swim for a couple of hours: I
stayed home and made an enormous chicken-fried steak dinner, then found
I couldn't eat any of it because my stomach was too upset.
went out and bought me some medicine for it, and by bedtime I felt
and I stayed up and watched a TV movie, "A Cry In The Wild: The Taking
of Peggy Ann" (Megan Follows, David Soul).
weekend. Ray called in sick this morning, which kind of
starts my week off with a thud. It's so hard to get anything
done with him underfoot, and my kitchen is a sea of dirty dishes from
last night's chicken fried steak. But I am bravely trying to
work my way around him and the kids. Next week the girls will
be at camp, and Kyle is spending a few days with Peg and Don out in
Bellevue, so I will be blissfully alone. Looking forward to
that. In the meantime, though, we have a garage sale coming
up in four days, and I still have to pack for the kids, so this week is
going to be crazed. Just trying to keep my head above water,
and next week's peace and quiet will be my reward.
hanging in there.
Ray was paid on Friday (not as great a check as last time, but OK), and
he did a big grocery shopping for me. With planning and
restraint, I should be able to stretch things out for a
while. With the kids all gone next week, it'll only be me and
Ray to feed, anyway. I have "Babysitting Available" signs up
all over town, and now all I can do is sit back and wait for a
nibble. The worst part of this whole situation
-- the thing that bothers me the most --
is not having any money of my own. It is so demeaning, having
to ask Ray for five dollars. I've had my own income for
nearly six years, and now, suddenly I don't, and I hate it, hate it,
Still no word
anyone about Grandma's
house. This is simply adding to my frustration, although I
suppose it's just as well that the money isn't coming right
now ... we'd probably just piddle it away on bills
and living expenses. I just wish there were some way to find
out what Ted thought of my letter.
stayed home from work today, no particular reason
tried to work my way around him. Took almost all day to clean
the kitchen and catch up on laundry. Our garage sale is in
days; the kids leave in a week. Lori called, just
from Mr. Moreland, but nothing pertaining to me or to the house.
steak for dinner (in sandwiches), watched a dumb movie ("Revenge of the
Nerds Pt. 3"), Star Trek:NG.
Kacie and Kyle
new thing they like to do
every morning ... they hop on their bikes and ride
them as fast as they can, around and around the house, until they're
completely exhausted. Sitting here at my desk, I can hear
them whizzing past the open laundry room door every couple of minutes,
laughing and shouting. (Jamie, of course, is draped across
the living room sofa watching her beloved "Price Is Right"; her idea of
exercise is going outside to get the mail.) Another cloudy,
muggy morning. Except for that one week of scorching temps
last month, this has been a mild summer so far, weather-wise.
We've had the tent put up in the backyard for two weeks now, and the
kids have only slept in it once, I think ... it
just gets too COLD at night. Most of our nights, in fact, are
spent the way we spent last night: Ray goes to bed around 9:30, and the
kids and I settle into the living room with all of the lights turned
off and watch TV until late. Then I fall asleep on the sofa
and the kids stretch out on the loveseat or on the floor in sleeping
bags. It's actually very nice. We wake up in the
mornings around 8 a.m., when the children at the private school behind
our house start making noise. I turn on the very early news,
open the doors and start the fans, make a pot of coffee (which the
girls and I share) ... the kids fix their own
breakfasts, usually cereal and toast (or a poached egg for Kacie, which
she loves) ... it's a sweet, friendly little
routine that we all enjoy.
My pet peeves
- Kids running in
and leaving doors open
- Constant requests for snacks and drinks
- Teenage neighbors with mega-loud car stereos (we call them "The Boogie
- Joey B.'s bizarre phone calls to Kyle
- Dirty towels
- No money of my own
- Stinky cat box in the laundry room
forward to the garage sale
later this week. Originally, the agreement was that the kids
would do most of the work, but so far it's fallen squarely on my
shoulders. I've gone through every cupboard, closet and
drawer in our house, weeded through (and cleaned) both awful kids'
bedrooms, dragged stuff down from the attic ...
labelled, organized, made signs, called people for donations
... Jamie has helped, peripherally at least, but I still feel
like I've done most of the grunt work. And when this stupid
garage sale finally rolls around on Friday, I suppose it'll be me who
winds up sweating in the hot driveway, counting out change and watching
total strangers pawing through our possessions ...
brilliant idea WAS this,
anyway? (Mine.) And if the kids actually wind up
making a profit, it will all be worth it. The girls need
money to take to Camp Cedar Springs next week, for the snack shack, and
if they don't make it this weekend at our garage sale, I'll be forced
to ask someone for a loan.
Velma called today -- first time I've heard from
ages -- she wants Kacie to come over and spend the
Friday. Did a lot of work for the upcoming garage sale, then
around reading old Rolling Stones magazines all afternoon.
BORED. Is this a calm before the storm? Should I be
enjoying this?? Wish I could ...
Ray yelled at me tonight about dinner (frozen Banquet chicken), had me
in tears. Asshole.
Late TV with the girls, good ST:NG.
Wednesday 11 a.m.
This journal is
down, I see
... but, like everything else in my life at the moment, I'm
trying to make it stretch as far as possible because I don't have the
money to replace it (and I despise the idea of asking Ray to buy one
for me, knowing how much he hates my journals) ...
make the groceries last, for
one thing, so last night I cooked some frozen fried chicken we got from
the Food Bank a week or so ago. The kids like it (or at least
they EAT it), so I figured Ray would, too. I warmed up some
leftover mashed potatoes and gravy to go with it, and there was fresh
coleslaw I'd prepared the day before. As meals go, it was
nothing to sing about, but I was secretly rather pleased with my
resourcefulness. So when Ray tossed it to one side and made
himself a sandwich ("I bought $140 worth of food, and I'm not gonna eat
no FOOD BANK CHICKEN," he snarled at me), I burst into tears.
The kids were shocked, and they immediately clustered around me on the
sofa, trying to comfort me. Later, Ray mellowed a little and
apologized, and I promised to make him a "decent" dinner tonight to
make up for it (like a good little wifey) ... but
the thing is, I wasn't as upset by his reaction to the dinner and I was
his attitude. It felt as though he were spitting on my
efforts to economize, to make things stretch. I'm not
bringing in any money right now, and trying to be resourceful and
thrifty is virtually the only contribution I can make. So
when he tossed my dinner aside, it was like a slap in the
face. He might just as well come out and said "Your petty
efforts are meaningless." And I resent that like hell.
Of course, a
lot of the
problem is my own
sensitivity to the current money situation. Ordinarily I
probably would have just said "Fine -- you don't
want the chicken -- what can I fix for you
instead?," and it wouldn't have turned into this major emotional
issue. But I took it personally because I feel so useless
right now. This will all change eventually, I'm
sure -- the rational part of me knows
that -- but in the meantime, any mention of my
joblessness, any reminders that I have no money of my own (running out
of pages in this journal, watering down my makeup to make it last
longer, having no money to send with the girls to camp next
week) ... any criticism of my
"economizing" ... well, it hits a nerve.
I find it
-- and annoying -- that two months ago I
was complaining about babysitting for a living. ("I hate it,"
I whined in this journal. "I mean I really HATE
it.") And now I'd give my eye teeth just to have one steady
customer. It's like, MAKE UP YOUR MIND, TERRI!! (I
actually degraded myself, about a week ago, by calling Karen and
hinting around about having Josh and Mak come back
... I cringe at the memory, but desperate times call for
desperate measures.) It's so ridiculous. I complain
about what I have, and then I complain even louder when it's gone.
else ... I am
almost agonizingly BORED. It's a feeling that has been
building for some time now, but yesterday it hit me like a ton of
bricks. I'd cleaned the house, I'd done the laundry, I'd done
as much about the garage sale as I could, I'd planned and cooked the
ill-fated frozen chicken dinner ... and then all of
a sudden there was just nothing left to DO. I wound up
sitting on the sofa, reading a stack of old Rolling Stones I'd found in
the attic, until Ray got home from work. The whole time I was
thinking "Geez, this is it ... this is as low as it
gets." After awhile I didn't even have the energy to read
anymore: I just layed on the bed and stared at the ceiling.
The weird thing about all of this is that it isn't boredom in the
classic sense. When it comes right down to it, I can always
find something to occupy my time. This is more a boredom of
spirit, I think ... an aimlessness, a feeling of
having no structure to my days. At least when I was
babysitting there was a routine to things. I had to get up at
a certain time in the mornings. Cody needed his nap at a
certain hour, Josh needed his medication at a certain time, the parents
came to pick up their kids at a certain time. Now the only
thing I really have to plan my days around are mealtimes
... or else what's on TV. Not exactly the stuff of
which rich, fulfilling lives are made.
In a way, it's
that I can't just sit back
and enjoy this involuntary vacation. It sounds so good in
theory: lots of time with my kids, no rigid schedules, no other
peoples' kids driving me nuts. If it weren't for the money
situation, and for the boredom, it would probably be
heavenly. It's to bad I can never be satisfied with the way
things are, isn't it?
Getting hot again. Made a big pot of hamburger soup, let it
simmer in the crockpot all day so it wouldn't heat up the
kitchen. Spent some time writing in my journal about the
situation and about how bored I am.
Ray brought home some wine, I spent the evening sipping on that,
talking to people on the phone, listening to music in my office.
news/bad news ... I am "employed" again!
The bad news
is that it's Josh and Mak! Karen called this afternoon and
if they can come back, starting tomorrow, and with our money situation
the way it is, I said OK.
Also -- our garage sale has been postponed until
because we're not allowed to post signs anywhere and we'll
time to advertise in the newspaper. So we'll have it when the
kids get home.
B. here to spend the night; Janet loaned us a movie, "The Butcher's
I guess it's
they say: you should be
careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.
I was wishing
one steady customer," and
so what happens? Karen calls me late in the afternoon and
asks if Josh and Mak can come back! I shit you not.
I was fixing dinner when she called, and I knew the instant I heard her
voice why she was calling. Apparently things didn't work out
at the new daycare -- Josh hit
another child over the head with a shovel, and Karen was asked not to
bring him back -- and so they've returned to our
house, beginning today. Also, I have Danielle and Cody here
today while Andrea is out running errands, so we have a VERY full house
indeed. Compared to the past few (relatively) quiet days, the
place feels like a zoo ... and believe it or not,
The garage sale
incidentally. Yesterday, Jamie and Jessica went out and
attempted to put up our "Yard Sale" signs around the neighborhood, but
they were stopped by a City of SeaTac police officer who told them it's
no longer legal to post signs. Since that was the only way
we'd planned to advertise, it put a real crimp in things. I
told the kids that if they'll wait and have the sale after they get
home from camp, I'll pay to run an ad in the newspaper. That
way we'll be sure to have a decent turn-out. They were
disappointed, especially after all the work they'd put into it this
week, but all things considered it's just as well we're not having it
today ... there are just too many kids here, for
one thing. And it's mind-fuckingly hot today, on top of
everything else. I am physically miserable.
God. After a couple weeks of relative peace and quiet, today
a ZOO!! Not only were Josh & Mak back today, but I
Danielle & Cody for six hrs. and Jessica B. was here most of
day. CHAOS ... NOISE ...
Horribly hot and stuffy, didn't get a lot done besides watching
kids. Andrea paid me $45 wonderful dollars ... so
have money of my own again, even though it all goes for the girls.
Ray rented "The Addams Family." Made tacos for dinner at his
request, but I couldn't eat much.
July 18, 1992
Well, here we
the last entry. I've "stretched" this thing out as much as I
can, but today seems a logical point at which to close things.
It's a hot
morning. Ray is
working today: the kids and I have been up since shortly before 7 a.m.,
trying to get as much done before it gets too hot as possible, although
at the moment we're taking a break. Kacie and Kyle are
re-watching last night's rental movie, "The Addams Family"; Jamie is
out in the backyard, filling up the swimming pool for later
today. (She has a new electric-green swimsuit this summer,
and it startles me every time I see her in it: there are new
curves this year that weren't there before, and she is gorgeously
tanned. Who IS this lovely, nymphlike creature
... ?) I've cleaned the kitchen, mopped the floor
and run a load of laundry, and now I've stopped for a cigarette and a
glass of ice water in my office, the little electric fan clipped to my
I feel pretty
relieved about the babysitting, for one thing. I would be
lying if I said I wasn't uneasy about having Josh and Mak come back,
considering the trouble we've had in the past; it's not my ideal
babysitting option. I would have been a LOT happier to have
Danielle and Cody come back. Still, there are some things I
simply have no control over, and my brief frightening brush with
unemployment this summer convinced me that I can't be picky.
At this point I just want to make enough money to buy school clothes
for the kids next month, and to keep us going until something better
comes along. So I'll just grit my teeth and bear it, I guess.
I never did
project I started a couple of months back, but to tell you the truth, a
lot of the intensity of need and emotion has subsided, for the time
being anyway. Whether or not I wanted my "involuntary
vacation," this past month or so, it seems to have done me some good: I
feel slightly calmer about things. I'm still certain that
there are changes ahead. I'm still certain that changes are necessary. There just isn't that frantic sense of needing to change everything
RIGHT NOW. Of course there's always the possibility that I'm
sinking back into complacency ... that I allowed
the impulse to come and go without acting on it, and now "the sense of
resignation" that Gail Sheehy warned me about is setting in
... I hope not, though. I'll try to work on it some
more in the next journal. It's just that, today, there is a
sweet feeling of everything being more or less OK in my heart, and I'm
too calm to rock any boats.
It's been an
ten months. No
major tragedies, no big shake-ups. Peg getting sick was as
close as we came to that. I've continued to mourn Grandma,
but after a while memories and peacefulness take the edge off the
heart. When I think of her now, there isn't that wrenching
'heart-squeeze' of loss ... just love, gratitude,
memories. I wish we had gotten the house business
settled. Frankly, I'm amazed that it's nearly a year later
and things are still as uncertain as they were when she died.
Maybe next journal. The kids are healthy, well-adjusted and
growing up beautifully: a continual source of joy. No broken
bones, anyhow! "Domino" never did come home, and that was
another big heartbreak for the three of them, but thank god nothing
worse happened to them the past ten months.
I guess I've
most of the loose ends, so now
I'll close with these wishes for the next journal:
consistent about writing in the next journal as I've been these past
couple of weeks!
we do finally
manage to get the house stuff settled, once and for all.
to throw a rock?