Diaper spelled backwards is REPAID. Go figure.

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So, whenever someone asks a parent about the happiest day in their life they’ll inevitably say it was the day their baby was born (actually, I think more dads say that than moms 🙄 but anyhoot…).  In fact, it’s almost sacrilege for a parent to not say that.  But since I swore to be honest with my peeps, I’m going to admit something to you:  going through 16 hours of back labor and pushing an 8 pound infant out of a hole the size of a walnut was, surprisingly, not the happiest day of my life.  Go figure.

I loved loved loved being pregnant (and no, WE were not both pregnant…I hate it when couples say that.  Unless you have a vajayjay, you are not preggie).  I couldn’t wait to start wearing maternity clothes to show the world my bump (we called it a belly back then…bump sounds so much more posh).  In fact, I started wearing them around my 3rd month and walked with my back arched at a dangerous angle, shirt tucked into my stretchy, paneled pants before having anything to show off at all.  Isn’t it funny how when we’re preggie, we can’t wait to show off our bellies…and right after the birth (and forever there after) we are constantly devising new ways to cover it up again?  🙄

My OB was ok, but didn’t have much warmth or empathy.  For example, at my first appointment he told me and Hubby that I should only gain about 25 pounds.  Okey dokey.  No problemo.  The 2nd appointment showed I had gained the 25 pounds (I was quite proud I had already reached a milestone) and I was told, quite sternly I might add, that the pounds were supposed to be gained over the entire pregnancy.  Thanks for making that clear upfront, doc…like I’m supposed to have a M.D. myself and ‘know’ what he meant.

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Did you know that those greasy danishes with the glob of fruit like goo and white icing are the most delicious things in the world when you are growing a baby?  The BEST.  And did you know the greatest side dish you can have with those is Oreos?  Nothing better.  One day, Hubby came home for lunch and found me sitting on our brown carpeted floor, wearing an XXL t-shirt with his underwear, bawling my eyes out.  I had a sleeve of cookies in front of me and was shoving them into my mouth without stopping to chew.  When he found his voice again, he asked me what the hell was wrong and I said, “I’m getting so fat.”  For some reason, I didn’t make the obvious connection.

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OMG.  I just notices that Lyle looks a LOT like my last boyfriend.

Y’all know that I’m extra emotional and sensitive anyway (thank you bipolar for that nice symptom), and being preggers amped that up a notch.  I got so impassioned over things and Court TV (best channel ever 🤨) didn’t help.  I watched the Menendez trial religiously (what else did I have to do) and swore to Hubby I was going to go to law school and be the attorney to work on their appeals.  These 2 brothers were on trial for shooting their parents to death over alleged (I sound like a lawyer already) abuse and I was sure they were completely innocent.  OK, well come to find out they weren’t…but I still think I’d make a great lawyer with my mood swings and tendency to cry.  I also think the way I personalize anything and believe everything I’m told would also work in my favor.  (I’m going to download an application today).

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I also spent my afternoons watching All My Children.  I prayed (yes prayed 😐)  that I would not go into labor during the time where Erica Kane might leave Travis for his brother Jack who she was madly in love with even though he refused to lie about their affair which caused her to lose custody of her daughter and led her into the arms of Dimitri who was also married and who eventually married Erica and became her 7th hubby and then divorced her which led her right back into the arms of Jack where she started.  I mean, c’mon…I watched this story line for 9 months and knew if I missed a climatic episode, my life would never be the same; there would be a large gaping whole that nothing would fulfill (except YouTube).  Of course I prayed for a healthy baby too and all…but this was Erica Kane!  You know, now that I think about it, am I a nicer version of Erica with just a couple less husbands?  Hmmmmm.

One evening, Hubby wanted to get a movie so I said I would go the video store.  He had his Corvette in the driveway so I told him it would just make sense that I drive it instead of my 1985 Impala (which was also in the driveway)…a car that was often mistaken for an army tank.  He reluctantly handed his keys over and when I got to the store, I forgot to set the parking brake.  I also forgot to put it in gear since I wasn’t used to driving a stick shift.  I was traipsing into the store and some guy started yelling at me.  Yes, I was getting a catcall even when preggie and it made me feel just a bit smug.  Until the yell turned into a blood curdling scream and I looked to see Hubby’s pride and joy (it obviously wasn’t me) start rolling down the slope in the parking lot.  I had my yellow, Dollar General flip-flops on (the only ‘shoes’ I could wear) and started running while holding my belly to save it…all while 8 months pregnant and as big as a house.  I was successful, never told Hubby about it even though he asked why I was so sweaty and winded from just driving to get a movie, and was never allowed to drive the damn car again (I think Hubby was either more insightful than I gave him credit for or someone in our small town snitched).  Side note:  this beeeeeuuuuutttttiiiiiful apple red Stingray is now my son’s and is housed in my garage.  However, for some reason, O does not leave his keys in a place where I can get to them easily.  Or at all.  Go figure. 🤔

From 5 months on, ma would call me everyday to see if I had packed my bag yet and was ready for the hospital.  To get her off the phone so I could see what Erica was wearing to yet another formal dinner, I lied and said yes (sorry ma, it’s the only lie I ever told you…I swear 😳).  Every night, Hubby would ask me if I had packed my bag yet and was ready for the hospital and I lied and said yes.  Actually, it just seemed like a hell of a lot of trouble to pack a bag for having a baby which is something that some women in world do in a field.  When Hubby asked to see it, I’d mumble something unintelligible and he knew better to question me since I would either start bawling or stomp off in a huff for him not believing I’d packed it…which of course, I hadn’t.

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My favorite place to eat from 6 months on was a place called “Sirloin Stockade”.  It was one of those places where they had a buffet with hot dishes on it as well as a salad bar.  It was actually my favorite place because it was the only place Hubby would take me since I was getting pretty expensive to feed.  Anyhoot, we were having a late dinner one night and we were the only ones left in the place.  The servers knew us by then and instead of them having to watch me get my big belly out of my chair so I could totter over to get yet another plateful of food, they said that since it was the night the food would be tossed away so they could start fresh the next day, I could save myself some steps (it’s good to know that I was basically eating leftovers meant for the garbage) .  Two of the busboys scooted a chair up to the buffet, helped me into it (Hubby was eating his 8oz steak and watching agog to see what was going to happen next) and let me eat directly from the buffet itself.  Good Lord in heaven, please let it be like that when I get up there.

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One night, Hubby was feeling generous and took me to a fancy Chinese restaurant.  I ordered the platter for 3 which was 3 full servings of General Tso’s chicken, sweet and sour chicken, and chicken and brocolli.  The Chinese server insisted that this was a dish meant for a group and not just 1 person.  His english was broken and I just couldn’t help him understand that when you’re pregnant, you’re eating for 3.  Anyhoot, I licked the platter clean, gave a nice juicy belch which is acceptable when you’re preggie, and asked Hubby if we were getting ice cream on the way home.  I’ve never seen a look of such stupefaction on anyone’s face before.

About 4 a.m. the next day, I awoke to a puddle in the bed (note:  if you want to go into labor, eat huge amounts of fried Chinese food) and while I was trying to get dressed, Hubby was asking me where my packed bag was since this was IT.  I yelled at him that I didn’t know…my water was breaking for fuck sakes.  He yelled louder and said “KRISTI, IS IT IN THE CLOSET?” as if I was hard of hearing and English was my 2nd language.  So I screamed back and said, “B…FOR FUCK SAKES, I’M IN FUCKING LABOR.  GET ME TO THE FUCKING HOSPITAL.  NOW.”  We left…without a bag.

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Fast forward 16 hours later (yes, 16 my sweet peeps…and no, my son has yet to thank me) and I was told to start pushing my baby out.  I said, “No.”  Doc said, “Kristi, you need to start pushing,”  And very sweetly, I said “No.”  Doc said, “Kristi, if you don’t start pushing you are not going to have your baby.”  I said, “OK.”  Finally, Hubby said, “For the love of Christ, push him out, I’m tired and need sleep.”  Gee…that was great motivation.  So eventually I started pushing and an hour later out popped my O.  It was just bliss…like you see in the movies.  I was puking over the side rail at the same time I was peeing and pooping and bleeding and expelling vast quantities of juices in the bed all while O screamed like a banshee and Hubby was trotting around like he had just created the universe. 🙄 Yes, B…you did all the work.

So, having O wasn’t the happiest day in my life.  It was a painful, sweaty, painful, difficult, painful, scary, painful, horrifying day that I wanted to go through hypnosis to forget.  But, just so you don’t think I’m a cold-hearted “Mommie Dearest” mom I will say this:  everyday after that I spend with my son is the happiest day of my life.

Kristi xoxo

 

 

 

“Happiness depends upon ourselves.” ~ Aristotle

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So, what does it mean to be happy?  Really think about it.  Everyone says that all they want from life is to be happy…but what is it?  Contentment?  Security?  Being loved?  Having a family?  Enjoying your career?  A minimization of stresses?  Is happiness the addition of good things/feelings, or a subtraction of the bad?  Is it a concept like ‘love’ that has a different meaning for everyone?

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I’ve been contemplating this a lot lately for a variety of reasons.  I used to think that my happiness stemmed around having a family.  The white picket fence, “Leave it to Beaver” type family I always wanted for myself, and I pretty much had that when O was a little guy and his dad and I were raising him for the 13 years we were together.  I can honestly say that was the ‘happiest’ time in my life since being a mama and wife meant so much to me.  It was also then that I was hired as an adjunct instructor, got a full-time position, and then was rising up the ranks to being a professor.  It was almost like the stars were aligned just right and everything that I had ever wanted came together.

Fast forward to my life now, single and living alone, and I ask myself if I’m happy like this.  I never thought I’d be because here’s a secret for you:  I was always VERY scared to be alone.  VERY.

Even when others were at home with me, but I was upstairs while they were downstairs, I’d still be scared!  Sometimes sissy would spend the night with someone and my parents would get me in bed before they went down to watch TV.  I would lay in bed shaking…literally.  My family used to laugh at how I’d sleep with all of my stuffed animals in my bed to where they surrounded me like a fence, but it was my safety net, so to speak.  If anything could scare off a monster or axe murder, it was my pink bunny with the ears pulled off.  I don’t think they know this or not, but I often snuck out of my room and would sit on the steps for a time just so I could hear them talk and the TV playing.  I felt much safer then.

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Ted Bundy…Seattle Times.

Then, it was around the time I was in the 6th grade or so that ma started working outside the home full-time (and yes, I used to roll my eyes at that expression but after raising a son, I’m here to tell you that professoring is a freaking breeze compared to the work load of mommying) and my sissy was in High School.  Ma would drop her off and I’d get myself off to school.  No biggie…right?  I had 2 blocks to walk and I was only home for a half hour or so before leaving.  But I was petrified every single morning (which is why I often called T in sick to school so her friends could come over for a skip day, courtesy of my excellent imitation of mom’s voice that the school secretary never questioned) and having T at home for that 1/2 hour before I tottered off to school made me so much more comfortable.  If anyone could stave off a Ted Bundy wannabe, it was T!

Even as an adult, I was scared.  When M (Hubby 1) and I were married, he often had to work 3rd shift and I was alone in our green trailer (if I never see a toilet the color of a rotten avocado, I’ll die content).  I’d pack up Scooter (my first ever dog), Sheldon (my parakeet) and myself and traipse over to ma’s to spend the night in my old room.  She was married to R at the time (get ready for it…the fucking bastard) but even spending the night in the same house as him was preferable to being by myself.  That, my sweet peeps, says a lot.

When O’s dad and I got married, we moved a couple of states away and sometimes he’d have to go on 2 day trips around Kansas (very exciting stuff) while I stayed at home with my baby.  I couldn’t go to moms unless I wanted to drive 14 hours, so I’d barricade me and O in my bedroom with my German Shepherd posted outside the door (God bless you, Tessie) and would count the hours until morning.  Hubby never understood why I was so freaking tired when he got home since O could sleep through the night by that time.

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The real Bloody Mary – First Queen of England

I don’t know what did it, but being alone started to change for me when I was married to Hubby 3.  He spent his summers riding with his motorcycle club (gang 😳) and I was alone for 3 day weekends all through the season, as well as during his  4-5 day trips.  I hated it at first, but then started savoring more and more of the aloneness (is that even a word?).  I liked having the time to do whatever it was I wanted to do, but yes, I was still really scared at night.  Do you remember the game “Bloody Mary”, where you look in a mirror, chant that phrase, and then you’ll actually see her ghost appear?  Because of that damn ‘game’, I couldn’t sleep in a room with a mirror for ages.  So, when Hubby was gone, I’d put a blanket over my dresser mirror that faced the bed, and hoped for the best.  Eventually, I took it down…believe it or not, that was a huge step for me!  (P.S.  She never appeared…go figure 🙄).

So here I am now…alone.  Everything I didn’t want to be but suddenly the situation I find myself in.  Surprisingly though, I don’t hate it and in fact, sometimes I really love it!  You see, I used to depend on others to make me feel secure.  Safe.  And to go even further with it validated…important…needed…and yes, happy too.  I sought these things from everyone I had been in a relationship with.  I wanted them to be the one stop shop where I could get all I needed just from them.  I wanted them to be responsible for the things that made me ‘happy’ and as you well know by now, those situations didn’t last.

You know, I used to hate it when people would say:  “You are responsible for your own happiness.”  OK…I’ll jot that down in my little book of advice.  But actually, it’s true.  I think I turned away from the gist of that phrase because I didn’t want the responsibility of my own happiness.  I didn’t want to learn to depend on me.  Feel safe with me.  Feel secure with me.  That sounded like a crap load of work, and it was so much easier to put that onus on someone else and then blame them when I wasn’t happy.  Right?  Why take on a job when you can pass it along to another?  (By the way sis, you still owe me a vacuuming from 1980 when I did it for you that one afternoon before ma got home…just sayin’).

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So, I’ve been put in a situation where I’m having to depend only on me.  If I want to feel secure, I am the one to make that happen.  If I want to feel safe, I have to understand I can take care of myself.  If I want to feel content…fulfilled…’happy’…then it’s up to me to create that environment to do so.  Period.  Me.  Just good old (cough cough) me.

And guess what?  I’m doing it!  Over these past months, I’ve learned so much about myself.  I’ve learned how much stronger I am.  How much more capable.  I’ve learned to take care of me…by myself.  I’ve come to understand I can weather storms with just me, Eddie, and Little Dot and it’s empowering every time.  I have finally come to see that depending on me is something I’ve needed for a long long time.  I’ve also learned something so so important:  that being with someone who creates unhappiness for you is so much worse than simply being alone.  I don’t NEED anyone to fulfill my needs now (although having one of those fulfilled…ahem…would be sorta nice), I’m doing just fine on my own.

So, back to my original question:  is this what happiness is…at least for me?  Yes.  I think it is.  I know when I wake up, I smile.  I know doing things around my house to make it exactly the way I want it makes me proud.  I know that watching Eddie and Dottie play out in the yard makes me laugh.  I know that watching stupid movies and eating dinner on the couch with Eddie’s head on my lap makes me feel a sense of contentment.  Maybe this wouldn’t be enough for someone else.  Maybe it’s too ‘little’…after all, I’m not traveling the world or jumping out of a plane, but it’s what I like.  And for me…that seems to be my happiness.

I still cry.  I still deal with issues relating to being bipolar.  I still get scared at times…lonely…sad.  I still miss having a partner at times.  I still want a picket fence family again.  Right now, I’m cycling through a bit of a manic stage but with some depression in the mix (it’s such a weird feeling to be on top of the world while crying at times), and the other day, I was really struggling.  I reached out to a friend and asked if they could come over for even just a few minutes to give me a hug and reassure me I was going to be OK.  They couldn’t so I weathered the storm on my own, and came out just fine.  By myself.  All by myself.  And…I was so proud.

For me, this is all happiness.  Knowing that no matter what happens to me in life, I’ll always have myself.  I’m happy with being ‘just’ me.  I’m happy with how I’m living right now and what I’m doing.  Maybe happiness is different for everyone, but sometimes I think people seek it too much in things…or in other people…or in constantly striving for that ‘something’ else that will miraculously fulfill them and make them believe they have finally reached the nirvana they sought.  I’m thinking it’s a little more than that…and a little less.  I’m thinking that it really does come from within…that it’s not money or cars or houses or others.  It’s you, and being content with who you are.  That, grasshoppers, is enough…at least for me.

Kristi xoxo