Obviously, it's been over a month since my last post. After the first four months of 2009 being sucked dry by the US Air Force's recruiting process, a heavier-than-usual workload, quitting smoking, college graduations and the day-to-day drudgery of taking kids to school, sitters and then doing it all again at the end of the day.... I needed a break. I also needed to do the "vampire surgery" and to do my best to minimize those negative influences that my last post talks about. Before I go further, I think some clarification is needed...
Being off my Christmas card list doesn't mean that I am going to (initially) be mean or nasty to you if I am required to work with you, speak to you or you text me about what I thought of the new Star Trek movie. Superficial is what "off the Christmas card list" means. I don't hate the people who are not on the Christmas card list. For the most part, I just do not choose to share my thoughts with them or to be anything other than socially polite or to work with them toward common goals/tasks. I guess the best way I can describe it is that those people have become "non-entities" to me -- I don't wish them bad things, I don't wish them good things, I simply don't care. The way I have distinguished most such people on my facebook for example is to create a category called "acquaintances" and exempt those people from seeing the majority of my stuff (pictures, comments, status, etc.). They are, almost exclusively, people with whom I can have a drink at a cocktail party for a judicial campaign, make small talk with and move on with our respective lives. In most cases, there isn't even anger involved -- it's a disconnect, not a fight.
The people who have been taken off my Christmas card list are those who have repeatedly demonstrated that they are not true "friends" (or family) as I describe the word -- they either do not care about me and my family or pretend to do so or have done something that I find unacceptable to me personally -- their actions may not be unacceptable to others, but they are to me. I don't hate them, I just choose not to associate with them. It isn't a personal attack. The one exception where I decided that a person wasn't getting that I was uninterested in her comments about basement cleaning or about her life in general was easily handled -- facebook allows you to "de-friend" someone, emails/texts can be ignored and if there is a medical situation that I need to be aware of, that one person can call and I will, naturally, get back to her. Lack of interest in the mundane does not extend to lack of concern if there is a serious problem (for family anyway). However, that one person who was "de-friended" has still not ONE time gotten in touch with me or the older two kids to ask how her nephew is doing in basic training or how to write to him. She also failed to send a card to my oldest son for his honors college graduation. Yes, it WAS a test... she failed. Nope, no one in my family decided to bother with her birthday last week -- non-entities do not require extra effort and she has had far too many chances over 42 years to do the right thing.
The vast majority of people who are off the Christmas card list are simply people who have, in one way or another, demonstrated one too many times that my time is better spent elsewhere and with other people. Many years ago, before facebook, twitter, emails or the internet, people spoke to one another. People wrote letters to one another. People also understood that actions and words have consequences. I am too old and too set in my ways to change my beliefs that there are correct actions/words and incorrect actions/words. I am far from perfect myself -- I have made and will continue to make many mistakes. When I hurt someone's feelings (intentionally or unintentionally), I really do my best to say "I'm sorry" without any other qualifiers if I am truly sorry for my words or actions. My decision to eliminate the emotional vampires from my day-to-day life was and is based in a self-protection concept: I am not going to apologize for making myself healthier and removing these people (and a couple of the activities) because doing so HAS made me feel better in the past month. It is an ongoing process as I learned again yesterday with the action of a person who I thought to be a friend -- "acquaintance" is a better description. That's not a statement that I dislike the person since I actually like the person on a certain level; just not going to trust that person because the person obviously does not WANT that trust. No harm, no foul.
All that being clarified (lawyer talk for long-winded; too bad I don't bill by the hour for blogging)... Life is improving. We are VERY proud of Chip not only for his cum laude graduation, but for the way in which he jumped RIGHT into the teaching fray and has been subbing for the past few weeks. He really planned all of that out well -- got the documentation that he needed from his college, got all of the paperwork into our local school district, religiously checks the website for subs -- he's doing GREAT. God willing, he gets a full-time teaching job by doing the right thing as he has almost always done! It would restore some of my lost faith in humanity if Chip were to do the right thing, graduate in four years with honors and with no trouble (other than that witch he used to date), look for a job and find one. Good guys DO need to finish first once in awhile, right?
Ryan and Jenny are doing wonderfully. Ryan is finishing up 2nd grade and, other than HATING the physical act of writing, is doing great in school. I hope Jr. appreciates the effort it took to get Ryan to write two letters to his big brother! Ryan can't wait until Jr. gets internet access and he can send emails and talk on the webcam! Ryan does NOT like writing! Ryan is also excited because the pool is open on weekends and because swim team is starting back up. He's an average, exuberant 8 year old kid. Average is good when you are eight -- look at the little kids who became tv stars as children; drug addictions, suicides, trouble with the law. Kids need to be average until they are at LEAST ten or twelve -- I wish our society recognized that fact more. It's something that I am learning as a parent with "the babies" -- I can be and am proud of them -- disgustingly so -- but they need to be kids and have fun for a few years. I won't add to this LONG post by going into my opinions on education in America today; that will need to be a novel in and of itself. In every way possible, Ryan is where he needs to be (if he wasn't, we would take steps to get him help and not deny problems... that too is parenting). We are proud of him and we want him to have a fun summer playing at the pool and taking a LONG car trip to "ssippi" as Jenny calls Mississippi.
Jenny took a set of swimming lessons at the YMCA so we could feel at least marginally comfortable with her in the water at Beachcomber and also so she would be comfortable and not afraid of being in a pool without water wings. As an aside, I have NEVER understood what parent thinks that those things are ok. They are dangerous and pure parenting sloppiness in my opinion. If your kid can't swim, you need to be WITH them in the pool -- water wings are not going to save your child's life and kids think they are safe wearing them. Pure stupidity -- especially after numorous people have explained the dangers to you and you still allow your child to put those damn things on and give in TO your child when s/he refuses to go in the water without the dangerous water wings! Anyway... when Jenny is in the YMCA pool for lessons, she wears (as do all kids) a safety vest or bubbles unless one of us or her teacher is physically hands-on her. She usually wears the floats for part of a family swim and then swims with one of us holding her. She can also stand in the shallow end at Beachcomber and LOVES to play there and in the baby pool. She is starting full-time pre-school in September because the only other option was to put her into a 2 day a week full-day program. I hate being a working parent sometimes -- my schedule adjusts some because I am self-employed, but I don't have a grandparent to help out when my schedule gets tight and we want Jenny to go to THIS school for the next 2 years. So it was 2 days or 5 days and we chose five. Of course, I don't have a grandparent paying her pre-school tuition either -- so working full-time isn't an option.
And mercifully, Jenny is also potty-trained (and has been for several months... just never mentioned it). After five kids, I am THRILLED to be finished with diapers!!! She still wears a pull-up at night (in her Big Girl Princess Bed), but she's been waking up dry almost every morning so we'll probably eliminate that pull-up really soon. We had a BLAST for her birthday!!! Even I was overwhelmed by the amount of pink (and after the 22 years between the girls, that was QUITE a task). We called it the "Barbie Birthday" although there were components of princesses and My Little Pony too. She loves her dolls although I have to say that the one Barbie who sings the same 2 songs over and over may be losing her batteries soon! She also got the classic Barbie car with a Malibu Barbie inside (who usually drives Hillary Clinton Barbie around -- it's a HOWL!!!) and a ballerina dress-up and butterfly wings and a wand and a Barbie Princess movie. Kate... if you are reading this... you are a SERIOUS enabler and when you and that man you are marrying have kids, just remember that paybacks are a bitch!
As for Jr., if you are other than an "acquaintance" on my facebook, you can read what's going on with him. If you are NOT on my facebook (or have been removed from it because you don't get that your opinions are unwelcome when you haven't bothered to call or email since Jr's party) and are interested, feel free to email me. I refuse to put his status updates and his accomplishments up here because those who are off the Christmas card list just don't get to know those details. Those who are off the list are off, for the most part, for failure to show interest in what he (and our family) were going through during the earlier part of 2009 -- if you don't care enough about him to want to write to him or to ask one of us how he is doing, you don't get to vicariously follow his triumphs through this blog. That being said, many of the people on that "acquaintance" list would get information if they asked how he was doing (and several of them have). We'll just say there have been triumphs and I can't wait to see him!!!
And now, finally to the true nature of friendship... as is obvious from my recent posts, I have been exhausted, angry, nicotine-deprived (for almost 4 months; I don't feel at ALL deprived... I am so OVER smoking), overworked and generally feeling lousy for most of the 1st half of this year. I write tongue-in-cheek about the Christmas card list, but some of the people who were surgically-removed from my life were family and another was someone who was one of my closest friends for more than a decade. The removals were necessary for my mental health (and there is at least one person who needs to BE removed and I can't figure out how to do so without being cruel so they're still around). It is mentally unhealthy for me to be the one to host holiday dinners and Eagles parties only to have guests arrive and complain about how the food isn't gluten-free or to NOT complain but remind everyone in the room how the gluten-free lifestyle is best. Show me a letter from a doctor that says "Person X has been diagnosed as a celiac," (because there is a medical test for that condition) and then I'll care about your health kick du jour. Chiropractors and self-diagnoses don't count. It is mentally unhealthy for me to waste hours of my time standing at my local polls twice a year handing out green pieces of paper to people who have already decided how to vote -- if I take that same 30-40 hours and devote the time to a specific candidate for judge who I think will be AWESOME, that time is MUCH better spent and I feel better about what I am doing. It is mentally unhealthy for me to be around a group of people if ONE of the people in that group makes me want to punch her in the face (to quote Jr. before BMT). I miss the group, but I can't stand one of the people in it and do NOT want to be rude and tell her so. So sometimes, it's all about balance too.
And then there are the REAL friends... on May 15th, at about 9 a.m., my office doorbell rang. I wasn't expecting a client and it was WAY too early for mail or UPS. Standing there, loaded down with yarn gifts, was a friend who although she lives sort of locally, was primarily an online friend with shared interests. Friends from ALL over this country -- several of whom I had only spoken to online and a few on the phone when one of our group needed legal help -- had sent yarn to the local friend to give to me, along with knitting books, patterns that were adapted for my love of circular knitting and that I had wanted to make, but hadn't had time to convert, red, white and blue sock yarn to celebrate Jr's entry into the Air Force, handmade stitch markers and cards that had me sobbing. The love that was sent with those presents overwhelmed me completely. I guess when one's own mother doesn't call to ask how one is doing the day that one's child leaves for basic training (on the cell phone that was put on MY plan so she COULD call me and her three oldest grandchildren because her other daughter, whom she has financially supported for years, can't spare the minutes) -- I guess that makes me a little jaded these days. I won't even go into the grotesque display of inappropriate behavior I was subjected to this weekend because, as I explained above, such people are "non-entities" now and there is no sense in wasting energy on being disappointed.
BUT, having become so jaded and having to time and time and time again lessen my expectations of people, when people do something SO amazingly nice, they need to be recognized -- not as individuals (because this was a group effort and I love ALL of the women in the group for their support over these past horrible months), but as people brought together by a love of crafts and by a belief that a small group of people CAN change the world. Or at least my small portion of it. Their thoughtfulness at a time in my life when I was down, bruised and almost (but not quite) broken re-invigorated my outlook and reminded me that even though I can't count on people that any person SHOULD be able to count upon, I do have people out there that I CAN count on. At the time of the yarn gifting orgy, I thought it was me and my husband and our kids against the entire world. I was alone and I was scared and I was hurting -- it's why I had allowed the vampires to stay in my life long after I knew they needed to be gone.
So to my girls... ALL of you: THANK YOU AGAIN!!!!!!!! Every time I even touch those gifts, I feel better -- you all made a difference. And to my favorite "yarn mule"... lunch again SOON with or without the excuse of a yarn store close-out sale!!! At least after I get back from Texas and the Poconos; we're looking at July now!!!
Once again, the post is long. For those of you who stuck through to the end, look at it this way. I only post once a month or six weeks -- divide the length by 4 or 6 and it's reasonable.