Rest in…. something.

I found out Saturday night that my birth father died. I have very little memories of him. I remember him bringing a garbage bag full of Christmas gifts and it wasn’t Christmas ( I later found out from my Mom that it was February). I remember him yelling at me about my Mom and the divorce. I remember ordering ice cream in a plastic dish and when I didn’t eat it fast enough he threw it out the window. I cried, not over the ice cream., but because I had just seen the commercial with the crying Native and knew we weren’t supposed to litter.

I remember the times he wasn’t there more. I remember attending my first protest, picketing downtown with my Mom, brother, and a lot of other women and children over child support. We weren’t getting any. I think I found another kid who had some He-Man figures, and played with them, resulting in a very upset me when my brother was on the news and I wasn’t. I very specifically remember my Mom not eating so that there was enough for me and my brother.

I remember being really, really poor while my Mom busted her ass solo to provide for us.

I remember being told that he wasn’t going to be our Dad any more, as he was waiving his rights so that he wouldn’t have to pay child support.

Years later I was in a car accident. When the settlement came, there was some legality that meant he had to be contacted and told that he wasn’t getting any money. He reached out to me and we exchanged a few letters. Then he sent me pictures from my High School choir concert to show he had been in the audience. I felt freaked out and ceased contact.

I played a show with my band and was told my Dad was backstage. Popped back expecting to see Greg, the only man who had been a father in my life, and instead there was a stranger who said he was my Dad. It was weird. I was upset that he just showed up without asking me, and made polite small talk until he left. My brother told me the memories he had of our Father and how he didn’t want any contact with him. I avoided any other letters or messages on my bands guestbook directed to me, from him.

I graduate. I go to college, I get married, I open my business. My employees state that my Dad had come in the shop looking for me seconds after I left the day before. What? No way! I called Greg and he said, no, he hadn’t been in. I asked them to describe the man and sure enough they described my bio Dad, not my Greg-Dad.

Now I felt creeped out. Coming into my business was absolutely crossing a line, but I had no way to contact him and tell him so. Then, a few days later, he sent me a facebook message. He said he had been in the shop and asked if it was okay for him to come in.
I politely told him that no, I wasn’t comfortable with him coming into my workplace. It was too weird. He told me he was Christian, and born again and that he had left alcohol behind and was a new man.

Ok, good for you.

Now that I knew that, couldn’t he come in the shop? Could we be facebook friends?

No, I’m sorry. It makes me uncomfortable and I know it would scare my Mom. But I’m glad you have a good life now.

You know what? He had sent SO many people from his church to my business. I should be grateful! He should have KNOWN I’d turn out like this. My mother had poisoned me and obviously not raised me right.

And there it was. My proof that he was the person I had always been told he was. No stripes had changed, scorpion and the frog, yada yada.

He messaged again and I blocked him without reading it.

A customer who apparently goes to his church pulled me aside that week and said he had to talk to me. He then proceeded to tell me that my Dad was a good guy and a Christian and I was being unfair. I politely informed him that we weren’t having that conversation. He tried to do it again the next week and I said absolutely not. We could talk about coffee and that was all.

That customer then would make attempts to pull my husband aside and plead my fathers case. Every month or so he would update my husband on things about my father, and my husband would just listen politely and (at my request) not pass the information onto me.

Until Saturday, when the customer pulled my husband aside to tell him that my “loving father” had passed away.

Dill told me, and to be honest, I felt weird about how little I felt about it. I wasn’t sad, or glad or remorseful in any way. My Mom put it best. She said it’s like not getting to finish a book. It just… ended. It’s over and there is no conclusion.

I wasn’t going to look up the obituary, then my Mom emailed it, seething because it listed my fathers “honorable service in Vietnam”. He went to boot camp and was discharged after a month.

My brother and I weren’t mentioned. Which shouldn’t have surprised me. While his children knew a loving father, we knew someone angry, who held a grudge. If we wouldn’t forgive him and let him into our lives, then we wouldn’t exist to him.

Oddly enough, last week my Dad Greg officially adopted my brother and I. We had no idea that while we were being adopted , our birth father was in the hospital and would pass.

We’re finding different ways to close our books on him. My Mom is going to donate to a domestic abuse charity. I may do the same. Or maybe take my husband out to dinner to celebrate what a good Dad actually is. Or frame my adoption paperwork.

No matter what we do it’s over. Sometimes there isn’t an ending to our stories. Sometimes it’s just the end.

Babies in Public Spaces

A few months back I heard our friends Neil Gaiman and Cat Mihos were going to be just a couple hours away from us in Ohio. Which meant that not only would we get to see Neil and Cat, but our friends the Scalzis could come as well!
I was told to bring baby Evelyn, and let me tell you, this caused some anxiety! Baby! In public! Evelyn is a great baby, but as a baby, I know she can be unpredictable. What if she melts down in public? What if she becomes the worst baby ever and we are two hours from home? How would I handle it?

Then I decided, I would handle it. That’s how! I don’t mind babies in public spaces. I mind babies and children with parents that don’t handle it. The ones that don’t at least TRY to engage with their children, and just trust that in the cafe or restaurant, their kid will be safe.

I had a friend out for dinner with her husband. A small child came tottering up and sat at their table. Oh haha! Cute kid. Then the parent, who was also on a date, came over and PUSHED THE CHAIR IN! As in, my child is now sitting at your table. Please engage her while my husband and I enjoy our date night.
No. Not cool.

Owning my business, of COURSE we see the wild children. A woman in the cafe is enjoying her coffee and muffin. A child, who is not hers, wanders over and grabs her muffin, taking a bite. The woman flags down the mother of said child who says, “Oh! She likes muffins!” and puts the muffin, sans bite, back on the womans plate. (I of course gave her a new muffin, but shouldn’t the parent have offered to replace it? I will eat after my child, but I would not expect other to do so!)

I know everyone has these stories. But can’t we also remember the good ones? The kid who is fascinated with the fish tanks, so his father plopped them down in front of them while he studied for his bar exam. On days his kid wasn’t having it, he would quickly get his drink to go.

I’ve been so tense about going to restaurants, movies, etc. If people are paying to enjoy themselves, I don’t want my baby crying to ruin their good time!

Then I watched as local brewery Sun King announced they were allowing children, and people melted down.

Then I got mad. I want to go to a brewery and hang out with my friends. Why shouldn’t I be able to go, just because I have a tiny human? I’M still a human! I want to do human things!

Sop we went to the event in Ohio, and Evelyn was a doll. She got her cuddles from Neil, and the Scalzis. We sat in the audience to hear Neil speak, and she fussed, so I took her to the side and rocked her until she fell asleep. Sat back down and listened to Neil talk for a while, then Evelyn let out the LOUDEST fart and dirtied her diaper. I left again, and decided not to go back in since I didn’t want to be a distraction for people who had paid to attend the event. Went backstage and hung out with Cat, listening to Neil over the PA.

Backstage cuddles

I’m not certain, but I think that she didn’t disturb anyone in the audience. No more than someone who might get a dry throat and cough, or sneeze, or an adult who might have to run out to the bathroom.

After the event we went to dinner, and I held my baby in my lap at the very fancy steakhouse and wondered if anyone was judging me for having an infant out to a fancy place, and so late at night.

The next day, as we’re all on twitter talking about how wonderful the event was, someone posted this:

Haha! So funny! So cute! Yay! So happy to see friends loving on my baby. I’m imagining the cool kid she’s going to grow up to be, and how fortunate we are to have amazing friends like this in our life.

Then I see this response. (I covered the username as I don’t want to see a witch hunt on this person)

There are my worst fears realized. People don’t want my baby in public, no matter how well behaved she is. At first I felt sad, then I started feeling frustrated.

I want my little human to grow up to be a good human. How will that happen if I keep her inside 24/7 and never expose her to real life, and how to behave in real life? Also, give me a chance before getting mad at the site of a baby! Am I ignoring her when she cries? Is she smelly and I’m refusing to change her diaper, causing the stench to waft over everyone in the vicinity? Or am I attending to her and ensuring that your experience is in no way hampered by her presence? Why not see which scenario is taking place before getting pissy at the idea of a baby in public with adults?

Thankfully, she has good friends that have her back. (Thank you John)

Look, I get it. My husband and I are not young. We were together for almost 2 decades before having a kid. I know what it’s like to not have kids, and not understand them. But don’t hate on the idea of every single baby you see in public! Give them a chance, the same way you give other adults in public a chance.

And as a mother, I can tell you that if I do see a parent trying to console a baby while attempting to eat hot food themselves (I’ve had exactly 4 hot meals since having my kid) or wrangle a wiggly one onto a changing table, I’m going to be the kind of human I want my kid to be. I’m going to offer a hand, not just roll my eyes and think “How DARE they have a baby if they can’t do everything perfectly!”. Maybe think about doing the same next time, instead of just snapping judgement on twitter?

Mommy failings

First off, forgive any typos in this blog post. I asked Dill to get me a new keyboard and he was very proud of himself for finding a great deal on one. It arrived and… it’s Swedish. So when I go to hit my left shift key I tend to hit \\ a lot. Also I can’t find the apostrophe when I look for it. I’m automatically hitting it, but when I try to FIND it, no dice.

I’ve had a few moments of feeling like I wasn’t doing the best at this Mom thing. When it took forever for my breast milk to come in, when I realized that my dreams of having a spotless home just weren’t happening with a baby that wants to be in my arms 24/7 and when my body hasn’t instantly bounced back. In fact, it’s worse than ever. If I restrict calories, my supply tanks. If I do a high impact workout, the lactic acid builds up and Evelyn is not fond of the taste.

But while those things might not make me the super mom I thought I would be, I haven’t really cared. Anything for my baby. If I’ve got to be a little extra fat for a year so she can get the best nutrition possible, who cares? I can do that! If I can’t go out because she doesn’t like the bottle… whatever. She’s only a baby once. I can stay home.

And it’s been working. We overall have a happy, wonderful baby. She smiles, she babbles and cuddles, and her cries are never a mystery. She’s either hungry or dirty. And nothing, NOTHING pierces my heart like when she frowns and cries and looks at me to let me know something is wrong. So I fix it, and I fix it FAST. I thought I would discreetly cover and breastfeed, but no. My baby is hungry, that boob is coming OUT. If you don’t want to see it, look away.

Then came yesterday. We’d had sort of a rough week and there’s been some stress. We’ve been car shopping (ugh), and trying to get some things under control at work. Overall though, everything has been okay. Dill invited a family member over who wanted to see Evelyn, and I decided I would let them handle baby time while I indulged in a bath.

Sink into the tub and I hear a cry start to build up from the other room. Got dried off, and dressed, and at this point cry is near hysterical. Ok, no problem. There’s been a feeding delay before and I know all the tricks to getting her calmed down and latched on. Should take 2 minutes, tops. Three minutes, five minutes, ten minutes pass… what the heck is going on with my baby?
I strip her down and turn on the bath water. She LOVES her baths. It usually instantly soothes her, but nope. Still hysterical.

My poor baby girl screamed her head off for over an hour. Family member had to leave as I attempted to rock and soothe my girl. She kept looking me in the face while screaming like she was begging me to fix what was wrong.

I’ve had failure in my life before, but never have I felt like a failure, until I couldn’t bring my baby some peace. About 5 minutes after the family member leaving, she was nursing and happy. Everything was fine, but I felt shaken. I had never, ever let my daughter down like that. I’d never tried so hard with her and failed.

I’m sure this is not the first time this will happen, but man, it was exhausting. All you parents with colicy babies, I owe you a hug. Crying babies are HARD. And now I’m nervous because we’re going to an event tomorrow with Evelyn. What if this happens again? How do you deal with a baby meltdown in public when none of the calming tricks work? WHY CAN’T YOU REASON WITH BABIES?

I’m staying home and cuddling her today, and I’ll attempt to get some work done. I have a Drunk Knitting episode to edit (Yay! It’s back)!Taxes to wrap up and a couple new designs to work on. Also if I can somehow lose 10lbs and get my muscles back by tomorrow that would be great.

Smiling Evelyn, to remind myself that happy is the norm.