Life in a small town

When I was little my family lived in a little teeny tiny town. I’m not even kidding when I tell you how small it was. The entire town is 4 blocks long and 6 blocks wide. We didn’t have all of the gadgets kids do today. Nobody had cable TV. We had 3 or 4 channels that we got with rabbit ears and they were all a little fuzzy. It didn’t matter much because the only time we really wanted to watch TV was early on Saturday mornings to catch our favorite cartoons. Well, I watched Captain Kangaroo in the mornings before school until they cancelled him and put The Great Space Coaster on in his place. I really hated that show. In the summer we were outside shortly after waking up and didn’t come home until it was time to eat. There is a little pond just outside of town that when I got a little older my parents would let me ride my bike to go swimming. What freedom that was! We would wave to the log truck drivers as they went through town and they would always honk at us making us laugh like crazy people. It never got old. When I was really little, my parents owned one of the 2 restaurants in town. Half of the building was a restaurant and the other half was a bar. I don’t remember much about when my parents owned it but I remember when my cousins bought it and my cousin Andy and I used to get quarters from them and swing dance on the stage. Not sure if there’s video anywhere (this was the 70’s after all) but I remember we were really good and did an awesome jitterbug! And for the record, I’m positive we danced JUST like that! Hahahahaha

It was a very sad day when the building burned down. They eventually re-built it (my daddy even helped!) but it just wasn’t the same. The new building has changed hands a few times, it’s still half restaurant and half bar. When we go visit we always stop and get a burger there. Even though it’s been owned by different people over the years they have kept one thing on the menu. The DJ burger! This was something my parents made up and named (each of their initials) when they owned the restaurant in the 70’s and the last time I was there, it was still on the menu 40 years later! It’s awesome. There’s just nothing like getting a burger at a small town joint. Trust me, if you ever get the chance to find one of those hole in the wall places, you totally won’t regret it.

Right before my 7th birthday (I’m a December baby) my friend Tina and I decided to go sledding on the hill by the school. They had put in a sidewalk and it was perfect for sledding. I had a plastic toboggan and she had a fancy sled with metal runners. I’d never used one of those before so when she offered to let me try it I was a little nervous but mostly excited. She made it look easy! Well, it totally wasn’t! I’m pretty sure I broke the speed of sound going down that hill and I had no idea how to turn or stop or anything. Yeah, I could have just rolled off or something but I didn’t think of that. All I could think was that I was going way fast and headed for the highway. I did the only thing I could think of to stop myself…ran into the telephone pole face first. 😦 I hit the pole, fell off the sled, and layed there. Lucky for me one of my brothers friends saw me and came and helped me up and to my house across the street. I was bloody and crying. I’m positive he was horrified! I’m friends with him on Facebook now, I wonder if he remembers?

We had an awesome sledding hill right in front of our house (NOT the sidewalk with the telephone pole at the bottom!). I remember one year we had a HUGE sledding party and I’m sure pretty much everyone in town under the age of 30 was there. Trudging back up the hill kinda sucked but man, it was so worth it coming down that hill! And the best part was that my house was at the bottom so I could totally go in and warm up and drink hot chocolate before heading back up the hill.

We ALWAYS got lots of snow. The most I remember was about 6 feet when we lived there. More recently (5 or 6 years ago) they had 10 feet that fell! O.O Yeah, where I live now, we get a few inches and the whole town freaks out and pretty much raids the stores. In Podunk? The power goes out (heavy snow takes out power lines) but it’s ok because pretty much everyone has a wood stove for heat and cooking and kerosene lanterns and candles for light. Snow and power outages never meant school cancellations for us. Heck, we usually WANTED to go to school since at least they had a generator so there was real light and all of our friends!

My girls would never survive. And for that matter, now that I’m older and have lived in a much bigger town for the last 30 years, I don’t think I would either. I love to visit and just relax but I’ve found that I really don’t like the snow anymore. I’m ok with it for a day or 2 but then it just needs to be gone. When I went to visit last month they still had snow on the ground. And it snowed when I was there! Yeah, I’m not ok with that. I also appreciate the convinces we have here. Like gas stations and grocery stores.  I like the fact that if I am in the middle of cooking and run out of something, it’s just a quick trip to the store to grab what I need. Not a 3 hour tour. And no, I’m really not kidding.

In retrospect, I’m glad that I grew up in my little Podunk town. There was a sense of community that you just don’t see these days. As kids, we didn’t really do stupid stuff because even if our own parents didn’t see it happen, likely someone else did and would call mom and dad before we could even get home. There was a real sense of innocence that has been lost in today’s youth. With the technology available to even the youngest of our children, it’s no wonder that some of these kids make the choices they do. I’m not saying that all technology is bad, I have a droid phone myself that is totally my lifeline. I just think that our youth today have been desensitized to violence, profanity, nudity and drug use. Now, even my little tiny town has cable and the internet and there really aren’t any kids left.

Loopie Moms!

Back in the dark ages, like before wi-fi, there weren’t a lot of options for internet. I had an awesome boss that actually helped get me online. I worked at a local hotel and we had one computer at the front desk that we could use to access the internet, with dial-up. Remember that? It was sad really. Anyway, one of my co-workers set me up under his AOL account and I was off and running. Those slow evenings at work consisted of sitting at the front desk and going into AOL chatrooms with my boss on her computer from home. Talk about a fun boss! I met some really fun people that way, some of whom I am still in contact with today. Chatrooms wasn’t the only thing I did tho. I was a young single mom with a preschooler. I found a couple of websites for moms and signed up for them. One day I received a random email from a random person asking if I wanted to be part of a mom’s email “loop”. I had no clue what that ment but figured, what the heck, I’ll give it a try. Honestly, that was the best “what the heck” moment I’ve ever had! That was 1998.

I started getting emails from young moms all over the place. It was awesome! At one time there were 25-30 of us spread all over the U.S. These ladies helped me through so much. They helped me through the final split with Beauty’s father. They encouraged me when I started a new relationship and let me vent when it ended badly. These moms whom I had never met in person actually helped me name MiniMe. When I had the ultrasound and found out I was having another girl I came home and emailed everyone that I needed ideas because I already had my girl and had nothin’. Not even joking when I say they named her. They totally did!!! Another of the mom’s got pregnant with twins the same year. Her girls recently turned 13! I remember calling her right after they were born and congratulating her. That was the first time I’d ever heard Kay’s voice.

A few years ago we got word that one of us had taken her own life. That hit all of us really hard. I know for me, I will always wonder if there was something more we could have done to support her. I was going through some old papers a few months ago and found a couple of poems she had written. It makes me sad to think that she’s not here anymore. I hope her girls are doing ok.

Over the years many moms have come and gone (we even had a dad at one point!). Each one of us has had more children and all except me have been married and some have since divorced. A few years ago I had an opportunity to finally meet 3 of my “Loopie Moms” in person. The original Loopie, Erica, was graduating from college and invited a couple of us to fly to Texas to attend her graduation. I got to hang out with Chelle and Erica the entire weekend and Kay met up with us a couple of times and we got to spend some time with her too. It was Mother’s Day weekend. It was AWESOME!

I honestly can’t imagine what my life would have been like if I had not responded to that first email. These ladies have helped me through so much and likely saved both of my children’s lives more than once. In the last few years we have been able to stay in contact through Facebook more so the whole email thing has mostly gone away. That kind of makes me sad because although I get to follow them a little closer it just isn’t the same as getting that more personal connection we used to have. Maybe some day I’ll get to meet Stacie and Andie but at least I know that we can still stay in touch through Facebook. Hopefully soon I will be making another trip to Texas to see my BFF Loopie Erica and help her plan her happily ever after.

Mostly, I’m really really glad I have my loopie mom friends and I can’t imagine what my life would be like without them.

Live you guys!!!

But you’re so strong!

Recently someone told me that they thought I am a very strong person. Not the “I can lift a car” kind of strong either. That made me think. Am I really strong? Honestly, I don’t think so. I just do what has to be done. I don’t have a lot of time to sit and cry about things and wait for someone to come rescue me. You see, I’ve been a single mother for 19 years. I know that might night make sense to you given that I have 2 children and the oldest one is the 19 yr old.

Lets see if I can help make some sense of that statement.

When Beauty was born, her father and I had been together for about 2 years. When she was about 3 months old, he left. His loss. He lost out on the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. When Beauty was 5 I met someone and ended up getting pregnant. We weren’t “together” when I was pregnant but after she was born I decided to give it a chance with him. It lasted less than 6 months. To be fair, that wasn’t all his fault. I just didn’t love him the way I thought I should love the person I was planning to spend the rest of my life with. So I broke off the relationship and took my own path. I knew it would be hard but I had to do what I believed was the right thing for myself and my children.

So that’s the cliff notes version. Hope it helps.

Was it my strength that made that decision? I don’t think so. I just knew that I couldn’t live the rest of my life feeling the way that I did. MiniMe’s father now has a baby with another woman and I’m happy for them. I wish them all the best and we love that baby because she is part of our family too.

My amazing brothers have tried to be positive male role models for my girls. For this, I can never thank them enough. When the girls were little they would make “Uncle’s Day” cards for my oldest brother because for all intents and purposes, he was the main father figure in their lives. I don’t know what I would do without my family. They may not agree with all of my choices but they still give me love and support no matter what.

When I was 12, my dad died. I’ve posted about that before. I survived because I didn’t have a choice. I just did what came next. I could have chosen to spend the rest of my life making a long string of dangerous choices and using that as an excuse. I chose not to. I may not be proud of all of the things I’ve done but I like to think that my dad would be proud of who I am today. Does that make me strong? Maybe. Or maybe I just did what came next.

Six years ago I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I had no idea what was going on with my body. I could hardly move most days and was in so much pain that I would just lay in my bed and cry. I started doing some research online and reading stories of other people who had RA and ended up in the worst depression of my life. Seriously, 90% of the stories I read were about how debilitating this disease was and long lists of things these people couldn’t do anymore! I ended up quitting my job and spent weeks crying over my sad life and the supposed death sentence I had just been handed. But I had one person in my corner rooting for me. Some of you will know who he is but Mister J probably saved my life. I know for certain he saved my sanity! Mister J is someone I’ve known more than half my life. We went to high school together. He’s a great friend, an amazing dad to his 2 girls and a great man. He pretty much told me that I needed to stop crying, get out of bed, go to the doctor, and do what comes next. And stop reading those people’s stories! He was right! I went back to the doctor and insisted on more bloodwork and a referral to a specialist. I got them. Six years later, I still have pain but through some amazing people who I will never meet in person, I am functioning and living my life! Since that time I have graduated from college and landed an amazing job! Does that make me strong? Again, I don’t think so. I had a great friend in my corner who helped me more than he will ever know. I just did what came next.

I could spend my days wallowing in self-pity for all the things I don’t have but where would that get me?

I chose to live each day as best I can and just do what comes next.

I’m a grown-up?

My last post was wondering where the pause button for life is at. Well, I still haven’t found it and life has gotten even more crazy. A quick re-cap of the last month or so:

  • Like I mentioned in my last post, my co-worker “retired suddenly” and I stepped up offered to help with whatever I could. Ok, let me explain something here. I have a college degree. (Yay me!) That college degree was focused more in the medical office field. The office I work in now? I work for a lawyer whose primary practice is estate planning.  Absolutely NOTHING to do with medical of any kind! I pretty much said to my boss, “Look, I have no clue what I’m doing but if you want to teach me, I’m willing to learn. Just please be patient with me.” My boss isn’t really known for her patience and the learning curve has been incredibly steep but I think I’m doing ok. If the last bonus I got is any indication then I’m doing pretty darn great actually! And I’m now full-time which is always a plus!
  • In the last couple of weeks I have apparently become the legal assistant rather than just the receptionist (not that there’s anything wrong with that job!). The other day my co-worker addressed me as my bosses assistant to a client and I kind of freaked out (not in front of the client of course!). It was the first time I’ve heard her refer to me as that and it just hit me that this is a seriously grown-up job…AND SHE WAS TALKING ABOUT ME! Ok, deep breaths… I can do this!
  • Because of the type of work I am now doing I am thinking about the future and putting some things in place so if anything was to happen to me, my kids will be taken care of. Another seriously grown-up thing!
  • Beauty is no longer living with me. She has made some difficult choices recently and while I don’t agree with most of them, she is 19 and is learning to be responsible for herself. I just pray that she makes it through this and will someday have good advice to give to her children.
  • MiniMe is adjusting to not having her big sister at home. Most days it’s hard but we’re finding our new normal.

All in all, the first few months of 40 have been incredibly busy but mostly satisfying and I think I’m okay with it.