Tuesday, June 17, 2008

More to the Story

I can't believe how well I have been feeling. I haven't updated as frequently as I'd first hoped to, but it's entirely the fault of the gorgeous weather, and the fact that June has had us busier than the hummingbirds, for Pete's sake.

The Nausea Bug and Major Pukey, have, I think, moved into the nest of bumblebees who currently reside in some old insulation underneath the bay window. This is great for me, just fine for the Bug and the Major, and probably doesn't matter a hill of beans to the bees, especially since they're being evicted very shortly.

My Darling has continued to work long hours both for his job and on the house. He has put the last of the windows into the sun room, which has led to us spending oodles of time out there. We moved the patio table into the huge room (since it's glass-topped, and since it's been raining and hailing on and off for two weeks, for Pete's sake, and we'd like to actually use the thing!), and have had our coffee and morning prayer time out there for the past week. It is already my Favorite Room in the House, and it's decorated only in Plywood Brown and Insulation Pink/Yellow. I bet those hot shots over on HGTV and TLC don't even know those colors are options for the latest in home decorating!

The past few days, though, have been sunny and mild, thanks be to God, and so my days--almost in their entirety--have been out in the sun room. Hence the eviction of the bees: the bay window will shortly be removed, allowing the living room and sun room to be completely open betwixt the two. The insulation beneath said window will of course have to be removed as well, and there's the rub, if you happen to be a bee. And since I am rather allergic to the bites and stings of fuzzy buzzing things, and since the windows are now all in place, and since My Darling seems to rather enjoy applying Spray Foam Insulation into nooks, crannies, cracks and crevices (who doesn't? Have you ever? Oh, but you should...), there is no longer the multiple choice gamut of entrance and exit points for the pesky pests. Therefore, eviction is imminent.

And so it goes. The children are bathing in Vitamin D even as we speak, making holes in dirt, digging far enough to find clay (and sculpt unrecognizable forms from it), shrieking with laughter, and praying for more rain so that they can sploosh in the gigantic puddles that pool up in the yard. The laundry comes in stiff and fresh from a day in the brisk breeze, with that scent that only means summer.

And I am feeling unbelievably good. It is reminiscent of being pregnant with Reepicheep. Oh, how I loved that pregnancy! The Nausea Bug and Major Pukey retreated at exactly 13 weeks with her, and never again reared their nasty little heads. They didn't even bother sending scouts to see if the coast was clear for an encore. Not that I minded. That's how it's been with this Bean--which induces My Darling to constantly tease me that there may be more than one. Honestly, I can't imagine that to be the case...I would think I'd be carrying much bigger than I am. But you never know, I guess. (Though I will never say that to him!)

We will go see Chris again when I'm feeling regular, obvious movement. I have small moments when I think I might, but until I'm sure, I'm just going to go along being pleasantly surprised from time to time. At 15 weeks, 2 days, it's just barely early to begin feeling that little secret. I absolutely love this point in pregnancy (especially when I'm feeling so well!), when the knowledge of the little one becomes more concrete--but only for me. I revel in the glory of being the only one to know this little person, whoever they are.


I left off yesterday with the point at which my relationship with my dad changed significantly. Before I continue, though, a few things need to be noted for perspective's sake. First, the age thing. My parents had a very large gap in their ages (17 years), and when I was born, my dad was 50. Fifty. This comes in to play later. Secondly, things got so bad at home during middle and high school that I stayed with my grandma for several months at a time. This is one of the gazillions of reasons I love her so and feel so close to her. She protected me and cared for me and made me feel safe in ways that should happen at home. But she did not spoil me! She was strict about house rules, homework, manners, and all the things a good parent or grandparent worries about. She didn't mince words (and still doesn't) if something was on her mind.

Thirdly, I moved out of my parents' house long-term shortly after graduation, first staying again with Grandma, and then with friends for whom I nannied. This was, for me, the beginning of what I call The Bad Choice Years.

Those were the years when I (like so many people) searched for the love I really needed in my life. Since I had never been taught by my parents what that was supposed to be, I had no idea what I was really looking for. I tried the usual on my scavenger hunt--alcohol, mild drugs, smoking, vulgarity and promiscuity. I never found it, of course, but dammit, I wasn't about to stop looking. I became deeply entrenched in the despair of depression, and at one point, even attempted to end my life.

I saw this video linked on Jenni's blog and could not believe what I was seeing...I felt like I was on This Is Your Life. I can't not link it here . (One of these days I'll figure out how to put a video right here in my entry.....today, though, I have bigger fish to fry.)

Back to the story.

After several failed relationships and near-misses, I fell pregnant with the Frog.

This is my little secret that isn't really a secret. Those really close to me know this. Those who are my friends find the kindness to use perspective, seeing this huge event in my life as the turning point that it truly was. This was the point where I actually began to grow up, when I learned what true love really is, and when I began to walk that amazing road back to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, praise God. Those who aren't my friends try (and try, and try...) to use it to hurt me. Sadly, even people in my own family use it this way at times.

But surprisingly, my dad never did.

At the time I became pregnant, I had mostly settled down. I was holding three jobs--cleaning motel rooms, working with the local marching band, and tending bar at a supper club. I was renting a room from a family I knew, and was in what I thought was a great relationship. It was the last remnant of the Bad Choices, and was The One I just Knew Would Work Out. Ah, the wrong assumptions of youth.....

I became so battle-weary from the Nausea Bug and Major Pukey that I was in the ER for IV rehydration multiple times. As soon as I learned the reason for my exhaustion and indigestion, The One decided he had better things to do, and promptly moved on. Because of the Battles, my doctor ordered me on absolute bed rest and high caloric intake so that I could gain weight, for Pete's sake, and so I had to make the decision to end all of my jobs. Which meant no income. Which meant no rent money.

Which meant moving back to my parents'.

My father did not speak to me for about two months.

Then one night, he just opened up. I guess it was probably just a little at first. And I think it might have been because right around that time, I met My Darling. And my dad really liked him.

Sidebar: My Darling and I met through his cousin J.L., whom I have known since the two of us were five and in the first grade together. J.L. and I reconnected through my mom (another story entirely), and I learned that this dear friend spent lots of time with two of her cousins--one of whom, of course, was My Darling. We all began to spend quite a lot of time together, and although I Knew From The First Moment That I Had Been Wrong About Everyone Else My Whole Life And This Was The Man God Made For Me And For Whom I Was Made, as I began to get to know him even better, eventually he would even come over to visit all on his own. I think this endeared My Darling to my dad--that My Darling didn't at all mind spending time getting to know me in the presence of my parents, especially my father. What man does that? I'll tell you: one with integrity, good intentions, and a good head squarely on his shoulders.

Again back to the story.

I don't remember the first conversation we had. I remember spending lots of time in the rocking chair in the study, with my dad drinking brandy and playing computer pinochle or spades or hearts.

He was never a drinker when I was growing up. His first wife was an alcoholic, and ironically, he detested people who could not control their impulses. Perhaps age softened him about this, and he allowed himself to enjoy the occasional snifter. Rarely to excess, or even a buzz. And only the good stuff--20-year aged Scotch. Expensive brandy. Really good wine.

When the brandy came out, so did his emotions, which was another new facet to my dad.

The conversation that meant so much to me, that really broke the barriers to my heart with him, was the one that made it OK for me to tell him, "I was afraid of you for years. I dreaded your presence, and wanted to be farther from you than I could ever get. And by the way, it hurt me deeply that all the discipline fell on me and C. and K., with none being meted out to J." And lots more, but that's the gist.

He told me lots of things about himself, some that I knew, and lots that I didn't. We both cried, and I although I knew that my dad could be a sentimental man, that part of him rarely seemed to manifest itself unless he was crying in the brandy.

I learned that he didn't really know how to discipline well, having grown up in the 20's and 30's in the South. Most times he was punished, it was with a switch of his selection. He was raised largely by his Aunt B. and a very kind woman he referred to as Mamie, but he didn't have a good male role model in the home until his Aunt B. married his Uncle A. Sadly, this was after a disastrously abusive marriage to a man who beat his Aunt B. when she was heavily pregnant, causing the loss of the baby's life, and ending the possibility for Aunt B. to ever have another baby. That baby was her first and only.

And though the politically correct TV psychobabble trend is to say, "That excuses all the bad choices he made when parenting his own children," I don't believe that. Because I was raised in a violent, loud, unloving home, where the thing that mattered most was what other people thought about our family--especially about our mother--and I flatly refuse to raise my children that way.
But it did help me to understand why he did some of the things he did.

And the reason for J. not being treated the same way? To his credit, my dad knew that he had messed things up terribly with me and C. and K., and he wanted to change...but at that late date, he simply didn't know how. Rather than beat J. and have him afraid of his dad, like the rest of us were, he just did....nothing. And by that time (J. was 15 by the time my dad and I came to this point), he also knew that he had been terribly wrong with J., and again, didn't know how to fix it. So he continued to do....nothing. I don't believe he ever forgave himself for that.

Oh, the dysfunction of it all.

There was so much more, so many conversations over lots of salty brandy, and it was then that I finally found the love of my father that I had scavenged for and craved for most of my life.

After years of anger and vile hatred of my dad, I was beginning to feel sorry for him, if not starting to have some idea of who he was as a man. And there I was, on the cusp of parenthood, terrified of what was to come...and needing my dad.

And finally, he was there.

1 comment:

Heather said...

I'm glad your dad saw the error of his ways and that you had some family and friends that you could turn to in the meantime. It is funny, in a way, how God causes our rebellion to be the very tool that turns us back to Him. You certainly aren't alone in your story regarding the Frog.