The One With the Birthday

My birthday was yesterday and wow- what a difference a year makes. Last year I de-activated my Facebook page because I couldn’t bear to receive happy messages from friends and relatives, wishing me a happy birthday and telling me to have an awesome day.

I woke up around 3:20 in the morning, went in to stock shelves at Target, came home to grab Rock Star and take her to school, and then I came home and I cried.

I couldn’t believe this was now my life. I was working two jobs and struggling to make ends meet. My life was blah and gray and this was during the period where I was begging for a quick death to put me out of my misery.

I had originally planned on going out to eat with my brother and his family after work that day but I was so depressed I canceled on them, telling them I didn’t feel like celebrating. They ended up coming over to the house before I got off work and were busy making dinner for me. “If you don’t want to go out to celebrate we’ll stay in and celebrate,” my brother told me. They even bought me a cake. It did cheer me up somewhat, and my niece gave me a very sweet card.

This year? This year was awesome! My fabulous mobster bought me a brand new gorgeous ring to replace the one he bought me at Christmas.

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No, I’m not engaged. It’s not a promise ring either, although he tells me it can be if I want it to be.

Even better? He bought it for me when we were together over the weekend before my birthday. That weekend also included a trip to a winery which had lots of sweet wine and WINE SLUSHIES! OMG! The deliciousness makes me weep. Plus, he bought me two bottles of wine from there.

He video chatted me the morning of my birthday because he just wanted to see my face on my birthday.

I went upstairs and opened the package my mom had sent. Inside was a beautiful top, a gorgeous necklace and earring set, and a super soft dress.

Picasso wanted to give me my gift before he left for school. He had it packaged in a beautiful silver bag with tissue paper and everything. It was a beautiful amethyst ring/necklace/earring set. I almost cried when I saw it. I even told him it was a good thing the mobster and I hadn’t gone with the amethyst the past weekend. The best part of his gift though was the hug that came along with it and when he told me, “I’m glad you like it. I just wanted you to have something nice.” How sweet is that? That boy melts my heart.

 

Rock Star wished me happy birthday before I left for work and gave me a hug.

This year I let people know it was my birthday so my co-workers wished me a happy birthday and later in the day a flower delivery guy came into the bank. Turns out the mobster wasn’t done surprising me. He sent me a beautiful bouquet of flowers. They smell so good, too! I called him after work and told him what an incredible man he was and he replied by telling me he wanted me to have flowers on my birthday.

 

I came home to change my clothes to go out for sushi with my brother and saw that Rock Star had left several gifts on the table for me. She bought me another pair of my favorite pj bottoms from Old Navy, along with a top to go with them. She got me an iTunes gift card and a bag of Flipz pretzels. And she got me a gorgeous bouquet of roses. They are so beautiful.

 

I checked on Picasso and he asked me if I had read his note. I hadn’t seen it; I was so taken with the roses and other gifts. I head back out and find a note propped up against my vase of Valentine’s Day flowers.

Dear Mom,

I cleaned up the kitchen a bit and felt bad that I didn’t get you a card. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate how much you do for us, but I wish you didn’t have to work so hard. I love you with all of my heart and to the moon and back. I wish I could see you a bit more but always know I will always love you.

Oh my heart! He felt bad because he didn’t get me a card?!?! He bought me a beautiful gift but he felt bad because there was no card. Everything he wrote was simply perfect. I cried reading it. The mobster cried, too.

The other day I was lamenting not being around enough but man, they really get it. It’s always a wonderful moment when you discover that your kids realize the sacrifices you make and how hard it can be sometimes.

My daughter wrote her own sweet message to me on Facebook:

Happy Birthday to the most amazing mom in the whole wide world! She is the sweetest, kindest, most loving mom I could ever ask for! I thank you for supporting me no matter what I do and for always letting me know how loved and cared for I am! I love you to the moon and back again and again! I hope today was as amazing as you are.

What great kids I have!

I did eventually make it out the door and out for sushi with my brother and sister-in-law. We had a drink afterwards and then I went home.

I got several texts from people, a message from a friend of my daughter, thanking me for everything I had done for her, and plenty of Facebook birthday wishes.

My niece, Queen B, wants to take me out for drinks which is an interesting change. Tomorrow my brother and his family and my kids and I are going out to dinner, and then on Friday sweet J is taking me out for my birthday.

It was a marvelous day, topped off with an end of the night video chat with my beloved. 2018 is off to a great start. I hope all my birthdays from here on out are as fantastic as this one was!

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One Direction Brings Me to My Knees

Figuratively speaking, of course. I was driving at the time so I was sitting.

Here’s what happened: I was driving and listening to my iPod. Yes, I still own one of those. Most people are incredulous. Maybe it’s because I have one of the classic iPods. I love it! Ironically, it was a gift from CF.

The song, “Steal My Girl” by One Direction came on. I had downloaded it only a few days ago. It suddenly struck me that Rock Star and I would sing this at the top of our lungs while driving when we lived in Virginia. I was undoubtedly chauffeuring her from one event to another but I can remember it like it was yesterday. Pulling into the subdivision, the radio blaring, us singing. It seems a million lifetimes ago.

My eyes filled with tears as I realized that we don’t have those days anymore. I don’t know if it’s simply due to me working now, or if it’s because she’s always busy.

She has always been busy. She spent hours and hours away from home and at the gym from second grade through eighth grade. But then we would have our weekends away, having fun, exploring new places.

Once she entered high school she was once again busy- gymnastics, cheer, friends. I just felt more connected because I was always around. If she was downstairs in her room I was upstairs. I was there. If she was gone all day and most of the evening I was still the one driving her around, picking her up, dropping her off. I was there; I was available.

Maybe it’s not just that. Maybe her driving now and no longer needing me to take her places has changed things as well.

All I know is I had tears in my eyes as I listened to that song and tried to sing along once again. As I cursed CF and all that he took from us I wondered how on earth other women do it. How do they juggle raising kids and working? Some of them seem to love it even. I have found this to be one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do.

I’m trying really hard not to look back. What’s done is done. It can’t be undone. This is our new life. In many ways it’s not a horrible life. It could be so much worse. Until I can get to that point though where I completely drop the rope and no longer think about what should have been it continues to anger me at times. That is one of the biggest things I’m hoping to work on this year.

In the meantime, I sent a text to my daughter (not while I was driving, thank you very much) and told her I missed her. I told her about the song, and then I told her to send me her schedule for this week because I wanted to get together and do something, just the two of us.

School Violence Touches Home

My kids stayed home today. My sister-in-law dropped my nephew off last night and had him spend the night because she worked all day today. He stayed home as well.

Their school has had two very specific threats this past week. I said when I heard about the first one on Monday I wasn’t going to send them. By mid-week I was wondering if I was worrying over nothing. Then another threat was found, along with a bag of bullets on the school lawn and a single bullet in the stairwell.

My kids stayed home. No question. My daughter was asking if it was going to be excused. I told her at the time I didn’t know, but she was going to take the absence regardless. I would rather be dealing with too many unexcused absences instead of having to identify my child’s body.

My mobster called the school this morning, asking what the thinking was behind keeping school in session. I guess the secretary had been fielding a lot of those calls and questions and her reply was that it wasn’t her decision.

When I called at lunch to excuse them from being at school I was debating if I should lie and say they were sick, tell them it was personal business, or just be honest and tell them I was keeping them home due to these threats. I didn’t need to worry; the person taking my call said they would be marked with an excused absence.

I debated briefly about informing CF. They are still his children despite his inaction. My thought process went one of two ways. First, if something did happen it would make national news. It’s doubtful he even knows where they attend school. I’m also not sure hearing there was a shooting at their school would even register as a thing with which to be concerned. On the off chance he does know where they attend, and he would indeed be concerned, I would feel bad that he was worrying when they were safely at home. I think that would normally fall under the category of, “Things I Should Share With My Kids’ Other Parent.”

My second train of thought was, “I have this handled. The kids are home; I made that decision on my own. They are safe no matter what happens at the school.” In that instance, there wouldn’t really be anything to inform him of. “Hey, there were multiple threats at the kids’ school this week. I’m keeping them home because of it.” Why bother to inform him if there is no danger? Why bother to inform him when it’s very likely that nothing would actually happen? I would basically be talking (or texting) to him just to talk to him. Why waste my breath?

Needless to say I didn’t inform him. Nothing happened. My kids stayed home and they are safe.

I am appalled that I even have to worry about my kids coming home safely from school. It sickens me. Sadly, I do not know the answer on how to fix this.

Mike Heck Strikes Again

I’ve written here before about the show, The Middle. Love it. I was catching up on some episodes when Mike Heck, the father in the show, struck again.

Sue is roommates with Lexi and they share an apartment. In this particular episode Lexi was off with her parents so Sue had the whole apartment to herself. The first thing she decides to do is watch some movies she’s put off watching, including a fun farm flick called “Silence of the Lambs”. As we all know that is not a fun farm flick filled with sweet frolicking animals. Too bad Sue did not.

She watches the movie and then can’t sleep. For almost 72 hours she can’t get to sleep no matter what she tries. Finally, her dad shows up.

She wonders why he is there and he tells her her mom had told him she couldn’t sleep. He tells her about how, even when she was a baby, she was so energetic she found it difficult to sleep and no one could get her to fall asleep except him. He goes on to explain that only he could figure out the right way to swaddle her, and once she was bundled up he would place her on his forearm and carry her around while telling her all about what happened during his day, putting her to sleep.

With that he puts the blanket around her and swaddles her up, then adjusts her on the couch so she’s laying against him (obviously he can’t carry her around on his forearm any longer). Once she is comfortable he begins talking about his day at the quarry, every last boring detail, and with that, Sue finally falls asleep.

I know it’s a fictitious family but it’s about as real a depiction as you’re going to get on TV. And you probably have to be familiar with the show to really appreciate the little nuances. Mike is a pretty no nonsense type of dad so seeing these sweet moments with Sue melts my heart. Truthfully I teared up a bit while watching this.

Once again I am reminded of the stark difference between Mike Heck and CF. My children should have a father like that. I know they exist. I watch on weekends as the mobster makes egg sandwiches for his daughter and her friends. I watch on weekdays as he makes hot chocolate and toast and brings it up to her. I hear him as he tells her goodnight and that he loves her every night when she goes to bed. So I know that even though Mike Heck is a fictitious character, men like him exist. Dads like him exist.

The saddest part of all of this is that I truly believe CF had the capability of being such a dad. I remember him crying the day she was born. “We have a daughter,” he said through his tears. I remember him taking naps with her. I think back to the story my friend told of him doting on Rock Star while I visited with her and my other friend during dinner; he rocked her and talked to her and held her. I remember how Picasso would crawl as fast as he could when CF got home from work, so eager to see his dad. There are pictures of him holding one or both of them, playing the role of beloved daddy.

Then, of course, we have what all has been reported in his new family. Showing up for show and tell with his “stepson”. Showing up for cheer competitions for his “stepdaughter”. Who knows what all he does, what all he has done? Maybe he’s finally living that happy family life he reportedly wanted so badly but couldn’t have with me for whatever reason.

All I know is my kids deserve a hell of a lot better.

Need a Laugh?

I came across these two on Facebook. Oh my goodness- they are hysterical and so cute together. This was her Valentine’s Day “gift” to her husband. I laughed until I cried. Seriously.

If you’re short on time you can skip to the 2:30 mark. That’s when it starts to get really good. Enjoy! I hope you love it as much as I did.

I Am a Very Bad Driver, Part 2

Another weekend. Another cheer competition. Another chance for me to totally screw things up! Hang on tight ‘cause this one’s a doozy!

Rock Star had a one day competition IN STATE, mind you, on Saturday.  I got there fine. Didn’t even cuss and lose my mind when I tried to find parking. The parking garage I did end up using was one of the weirdest garages I had ever seen but I got over that hump with no cussing and kept my shit together.

After the competition Rock Star wanted to go to Texas Roadhouse. There was one in town so we headed in that direction. I told her to call to put us on the call ahead seating list. This was our conversation:

Rock Star: I don’t think I have service in the garage.

Me: Well, unlike your cousin who thought she had service even though she had no bars, you have bars; therefore, you have service.

Rock Star: Then why does it keep beeping at me?

Me: What do you mean?

She proceeds to call again and then lets me listen to the “beeping”.

Me: Rock Star, that’s a busy signal.

Rock Star: Oh. Well I didn’t know that. What do I do?

Me: They’re on the line with another person so you’re going to have to wait until they’re done with that person.

Rock Star stands there with the phone against her ear.

Me: You need to hang up and call them again! They’re not going to finish up with the call they’re on and magically answer your call.

Seriously! It’s 2018 and the telephone is a total mystery to teens today. Wow!

Next we had to find the car. I told you it was a really weird garage. Then we had to figure out how to exit the garage. Again, really weird garage.

I digress. We made the 15 minute trip over to the restaurant without getting through. It was a madhouse; we left. I had already told her that if there was a long wait we weren’t going to wait. The drive home was almost 2 hours; it was almost 6:00 and I didn’t want to wait an hour, spend an hour eating, and then drive two hours home. Especially seeing as how it had just started snowing. Hooray!

Apparently, from now on every cheer competition must include driving through a freaking blizzard.

I get on the freeway to head to the toll road. I will point out that this is not the way we came. The GPS had me take state highways but since we had traveled in another direction to get to the restaurant I guess they were now going to take me back by way of the toll road.

Rock Star is pouting because she really wanted Texas Roadhouse. I’m trying to Google other locations. Texas Roadhouse’s website is telling me Indiana is an invalid state, which seems to be a blatant lie to me seeing as how I know there are, at a minimum, two of them (one in my city and one in the city we’ve just left) in the state. I finally get it to pull up and there is one right off the toll road about 15 minutes from  where we would normally be exiting to get home. Our Texas Roadhouse is on the opposite of town so this one will definitely be closer by almost an hour. Yes! I call ahead, put our name in (the wait at that point was 50-60 minutes and we were an hour away). I am a freaking hero!

It’s snowing really hard at this point. I have terrible night vision to begin with but add in snow coming straight at you and there were times I couldn’t see much in front of me. There were snow plows out and their blinking lights were also blinding me. Plus, they take up way too much space! They do not stay in their own lane.

I hit the toll booth and go through the EZ Pass lane only it won’t accept my tag. This is strange because…

  1. I have my account set to automatically reload whenever my funds get low (or so I thought). I had just changed it a few months ago.
  2. Since Rock Star told me my tag wasn’t accepted the other day when she went to cheer practice I went to the website before we left for the competition and sure enough, I had a negative balance. So… I put $35 in my account (or so I thought).

Long story short, it wouldn’t accept my tag so I had to grab a ticket. I couldn’t reach the ticket from my car (my brother says I have little dinosaur arms) so I had to unhook my seatbelt, open the car door, and push the button. It took forever for the ticket to come out and I was beginning to think there was something wrong and I was going to be stuck in the lane forever. My coat that I had taken off in the car while I was driving was stuffed behind me, pushing me forward in my seat while I tried to press the button to roll my window back up, fasten my seatbelt once again, and get on my way. This is a very important part of the story, btw. It goes to my state of mind.

About 10-15 minutes later I see a flashing sign saying, “Stop for toll ahead.” I’m thinking, “This is strange. I don’t usually need to stop to pay a toll on this road. I pay when I exit.”

I stop and pay. My tag is still not going through so I use the machine. Put my ticket in the wrong way. Have to try again. Have to swipe my card three times before it will take it. I’m getting pissed.

Then it happens. I see the sign saying, “Welcome to Ohio!” Oh. Fuck. No. I had gone the wrong damn way on the toll road. How I made that mistake when the signs are clearly labeled either Ohio or Chicago I do not know. Actually, yes I do. Seatbelt off, coat poking me in the back, can’t hit the right button to roll up the window with the blowing snow and freezing wind coming in, can’t get the ticket in, can’t pay, totally frustrated. Ohio just made sense at that point despite knowing the difference between east and west and knowing which direction I need to go.

This would have been merely a minor inconvenience if it hadn’t been for the blizzard I was driving in and the fact we were supposed to be at Texas Roadhouse in an hour and were now 30 minutes behind.

I’m white knuckling the steering wheel and tell Rock Star to call Texas Roadhouse and let them know to push us back. One obstacle down. I’m still hating the drive. My windshield wipers are smearing the snow flakes on my windshield; I can barely see. I’m doing about 60, which isn’t bad I suppose, even if the speed limit is 70. The roads are covered with snow. I’m coming up on a few snow plows. Again, they are taking up way too much space and blinding me with their flashing lights. I so badly want to call the mobster and have him calm me down but the signs keep telling me to “put the phone down. Arrive safely!” So I do. Only my phone slides off my leg and into my lap and I jump because I think it’s a snake.

Why a snake? I don’t know. It’s not like we were traveling with one and I thought it had gotten loose. I just always think it’s a snake. I about jumped out of my skin. Composed myself.

I kept counting down the miles until our exit. It seemed to take forever! I would have loved to have had a drink or two once I got to the restaurant but I was driving so I was going to have to settle for a diet Coke.

We finally made it. Rock Star put her foot up on my side of the booth. I thought it was a wild animal climbing up beside me. I was still on edge apparently.

Thankfully I settled down, had a nice meal, and once we headed on back to the house the snow had pretty much stopped. It was only about another 15-20 minutes home from there anyway. Tag still wouldn’t work as I got off the final time. And it took a while for the coins to drop in and for it to reflect in the machine. I followed my GPS and took the route it’s always trying to get me to take on my way back. That was a mistake. Snow covered back roads. Finally, we made it home safely.

That now concludes my story; however, for those of you wondering about my EZ pass problems I have answers.

Turns out nothing was like I thought. The auto replenishment was turned off somehow. The new credit card I had input a few months ago was not stored and had reset to my old bank card which I don’t even use anymore. The payment I had made that morning did not go through; I think I must not have clicked on the next button I was supposed to click. Everything is sorted out now thankfully.

Praise Jesus I only have two more of these competitions to endure. I am praying that I will make it to both of them no worse for wear, and can also successfully navigate my way back. I am also praying that I have no more blizzards to drive through. Good weather is always a plus when traveling. In the meantime, I will leave you with this:

Senior Night

Tonight I attended Senior Night for my daughter. It was just me tonight. My mom is in Florida (She’s giving up cussing for Lent, btw; we’re not even Catholic). My niece was working. I honestly didn’t even think to ask my brother. His wife was working.

When I got there I could tell something was wrong. She was already freaking out because a lot of the cheerleaders didn’t want to decorate for the basketball players so she and three other girls were left with that task. I also found out that the person who took her shift at work tomorrow night and Saturday backed out so now she has to work on Valentine’s Day. She concluded by letting me know she hates Senior Nights anyway because she has nothing to put in her bio that they read as they’re being escorted. She can’t list anything she did at her first school so she’s left with doing track one year, football cheer one year, and basketball cheer for two years. She doesn’t have a full four years of memories with these kids. It reminds her of everything she lost and how different her life is from what it could have been, should have been.

She was also bummed out by the fact that it seemed everyone else had a lot of people cheering them on and escorting them. She had only me. She was trying hard not to cry as she talked but the tears started rolling down her cheeks. I felt so bad for her and I was enraged at CF.

He did this to her! He put himself and his whore cousin and her kids in front of his own kids. It was so damn important that we move to Virginia before she started high school because he didn’t want her to have to switch schools once she started, but once he started fucking his whore cousin he didn’t give a crap what happened to her. Twenty years I listened to him whine about the fact that he got moved around constantly and was always changing schools. Guess who remained at the same high school for four years? Yep, Cousinfucker had that as a constant and got to be a super star at his small high school. His daughter? Fuck her. She doesn’t count.

I was so pissed off I almost texted him.

Hey Cousinfucker! It’s Senior Night and your daughter is sitting here crying. You have ruined her senior year. She doesn’t give a shit about anything. She hates it here. But hey- you get to fuck your cousin so it was all worth it, right? While the other kids get to list everything they’ve done the last four years and talk about the memories they’ve made your daughter has practically nothing to list because she got moved abruptly. While the other kids have their parents/grandparents/siblings to walk with them your daughter has only me. You are a vile, worthless piece of shit.

I almost took a picture of her crying and sent that off to him as well but I wasn’t going to exploit her like that.

Instead after escorting her out, both our heads held high, I wrote this to her:

Rock Star, I love you and I’m so proud of you. I know these Senior Nights can be tough. This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. But it is. I’m sorry. If I had the chance to change it for you I would. We both know, though, that that won’t happen. So I’m going to tell you this:

You are stronger than you realize. You are NOT going to let your father destroy you. You are NOT going to let him take away another thing. You get out there and soar. You show everybody what you are made of. You show them everything you can achieve- with or without a dad in your life. You are going to do amazing things and have a freaking fantastic life despite him and everything he has tried to take away from you. You show him every single day what a mistake he made in walking away. Make him regret it every single day.

In your sorrow don’t forget your blessings. You have me and I love you more than the air I breathe. I will never walk away. I will always have your back. I will always be your biggest cheerleader. I will never give up on you. You are my miracle. I am here for you and I always will be.

You have a brother who loves you and wants to be close to you. You have Nana. Crazy as she may make you some days, she loves you and is here for you. She was very disappointed she missed Senior Night this time. You have your Uncle C and your Aunt L. Your Aunt C and Uncle B both check up on you. Grandpa and M come up when they can. You’ve got great cousins. You have a wonderful boyfriend and you have many fantastic friends all over the country.

You are loved, my precious girl. You will get through this. You will emerge stronger than ever. Like steel, you were forged by fire; like one of my favorite flowers, the magnolia, you can bend and withstand the weather. Oh my sweet girl, you are amazing. Anyone who is not in your orbit is truly unfortunate. Anyone who would choose to miss out on being a part of your life is missing the greatest thing possible.

I love you, Rocky. I’ll love you forever. I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living my baby you’ll be.

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