A Thump on the Head is only so Funny

I have been a way for a while.

There is little time to write in my journal; and when I think of it, I forget later.

Some people say don’t write your feelings on the Internet.

Maybe it’s the reason I have written two posts so far. In other areas of writing, I’ve been published by my real (writing) name. I (try) to keep up two blogs under my writing name.

Maybe it’s not okay to vent on a strange planet such as the Internet.

Perhaps it is.

What I do know is that for once I like writing without my name attached.

On Tuesday, I began my graduate assistant position. I met sixty plus people. Names … so many names as I climb four stories in a gothic castle that was once a K-12 school in the late 1800s. You should see it. The castle, as people on campus call it, is beautiful. Staff in the building don’t like it.

The floors creak a little bit. The elevator for the forth floor is hidden. No idea when the building was renovated, but a part of it captures my memory – like a book in which the protagonist finds a newspaper article about the ghost haunting her or him.

In the castle, I am happy.

Not the way a princess is happy.

Corny laughter ensues.

The way a professional finds life in his or her work.

I work at two awesome jobs. When I work those jobs, that is the time I believe in my faith most. Each day, I keep my faith in God and Christ quiet within me. It is the way I believe. My grandmother taught me years ago that you do not go into the streets and yell of your faith. You live it.

When I leave my school – where I work – or my graduate position, I thank God. At home, I lose the control.

I suppose that is the difference. In the working world, I have a degree of control.

Tonight, I tried to thank one parent for his contributions when I was interrupted by the other. I did not finish my sentence for the first parent. Both parents care for my son. I thank them everyday, but I want to show them I mean it. Instead of thanking them both, I give them each an individual, “Thank you.”

Okay, I am a daddy’s girl. At 28, I still worship the ground he walks on. Pardon the cliché. Dad does everything. He has taken care of my mother on hand and foot. He fed my brother and me while working a full-time job. After he retired, he stayed home with us. He is always first in my thank yous.

At dinner, I joke with my parents about the fact. We laugh when there is a thud. It hurts. My husband laughs. He has hit me on the head with the end of a spoon. I stop talking for the rest of the night and wash the dishes.

He thought it was funny.

“It was not that hard,” he said.

I looked at him and walked away. When I’m mad or upset, I cannot talk to the person. I walk away.

Now he sits in another room while I work. Confidence returns when I review the research I’m doing. A sense of pride returns.

I remind myself I’m giving our son a better future.

Eventually …

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Fixing Men’s Boo-boos

My almost three-year-old is a runner.

He will try to run across a parking lot unaware of the danger an oncoming car will cause. When he falls, he scrapes his knee.

“Mommy, my knee,” has become his everyday slogan.

My father eats a lot of starch whether it is part of a meal, in a casserole or a chip bag. The doctor told him he has to cut back for the sake of his cholesterol.

And, my husband – whom I love deeply – has two boo-boos. One of those is his battle with the economy, and the other is with his four older children, primarily his sons, who have banished him from their lives. Two years ago, I watched him cry on Father’s Day; watched with dread as he sank into Depression from which I could not summon him.

How do you heal your men’s boo-boos? How do you try to take the pain away?

Son

If you have ever had a son, you know he will melt your heart. You know he will make you mad, and then he will reveal a certain look that makes it difficult for you, as a mother, to stand your ground.

A tropical storm twirls through our state. I take my son to an indoor pool. He wants to take a closer look at the mud in the middle of the parking lot. Since I keep him on a toddler leash, he anchors himself in the dirt while it pours rain. As he drops, he hits his knee.

In the Carolinas, where it warms up quickly, Son has adjusted to winter and an unusually cool spring. He still wants his jacket, and for many weeks, he wanted his jeans. Dressed in shorts, he scrapes his knee again and again. It does not matter what he is doing.

My husband and I have torn cartilage in our knees. When Son complains about his, we laugh. It runs in the family.

The other part of me wishes there was a way to show him how to slow down. You don’t have to be all-boy all the time.

But, how do you do that when every other question right now is, “Mommy, play baseball?”

Father

Living in a house of six, it is difficult to hide your private conversations, concerns or health reports. In April, Mom went to the hospital. She had to change every part of how she ate and acted. Stuck in a tough situation, Dad worried, chewed his fingernails and prayed while I talked to relatives.

One month later, we discover Father – despite his tall, slender build – suffers with high cholesterol. My brother and I have been strict with Mom in how she eats. Growing up a Daddy’s girl, it is tougher to be firm with him. I realize the irony in kids being strict on their parents; but with them growing older, I see their weaknesses and worries. I know if they are not taken care of, later will come sooner.

I grew up with a dad who cooked steaks, chicken and rice. We ate out almost every night. Mom did not cook.

Now I cook with Dad and my husband’s help.

Dad asks for bread every meal in the way a child asks you why the sky is blue. What do you tell him when he brings your avocados home? How do you heal the health pain he is willing to ignore, but you’re not?

Husband

Two summers ago, I walked with my husband and newly one-year-old at a fair in North Carolina. My husband’s brother and his wife made a circle around us. His second son turned the other direction. He turned his back a few weeks earlier on his infant half-brother at a 4 of July celebration. After sending the second son chocolate chip cookies and my husband’s older son a birthday present, they continued to ignore him. At that point it had been one year since he left his ex-wife for his third son and myself.

“I’m done,” I said.

Those boys could not forgive.

I could not forget.

My son, an infant, in a stroller. His half-brother turned so he would not look at him. I was done.

But, my husband was not.

For three years, he has tried everything. Texts, calls and driving. For his second son’s birthday, he packed a card with money and made brownies. On his way to deliver the brownies that son texted:

“Please leave the store [his uncle and grandfather own] before I return. I do not want to see you today.”

He never received the card, money or brownies my husband took the time to make.

Before the second son’s high school graduation, my husband felt hopeful they were on the path to making amends. He received a text:

It’s okay if you come. Don’t bring anyone else. Don’t speak to me after. The day is for me, mom, [his brother], aunt and granddaddy.

My husband had planned to go alone. I had told him he was going alone. I knew the boy did not want me there, and I cannot look at him without a small bit of hatred.

I cannot look at him or the older brother without hatred just as they could not look at me without it.

Why not?

Their father chose to be a father to their brother. That is not an easy pill to swallow.

And, after years, they chose to put backs to their brother.

But, my husband’s heart is not like mine. It is soft. It hurts and it breaks. When he hurts, I feel his pain. I don’t say what I think of his older sons. He would not have it because he loves them so. Whatever their many faults, he has forgiven them. But, it will be years – if ever – before they forgive him.

So, how do you heal a heart with missing pieces and parts? I don’t have the toolbox. I don’t have the words he wishes his sons would say.

I pray and hope one day my son will watch where he is going,

Dad will look at what he eats,

and, my husband’s older sons and his older daughters will return to say I love you again.

By Elisabeth Tressie

I write under a fictional name only.

Between You and I

Between you and I, there are many things I should not say.

First Confession:

For one, I live in a house with six people. My parents – both of whom have high blood pressure and cholesterol – share their home with my college brother, husband, our nearly three-year-old son and me. My brother and I deeply love our parents, but sometimes they think in the overly optimistic view of the world. Mom believes the world is a tea party and everyone can get along. Dad fixes a broken pair of sunglasses with tape and says, “Now you can wear them again.”

Brother and I are grateful our parents keep a roof over our heads, and our parents (don’t always) accept our help in improving their health. We worry like we’re the parents when Dad walks in the house with bakery goods on sale.

When you turn around, someone is always there. When you turn to grab a pot or a glass in the kitchen, someone is reaching into the freezer for ice cubes or opening the cabinet right as you move.

Second Confession:

My son is potty training. With a house of six people, he has a baseball team behind him. He has two male examples, who will let him observe. He has trained since December. Every day I hear conversations about how other people potty train their kids or how their toddler is fully trained before the age of three.

Our son is just taking his time. He has gone through three stages. During the first months, he sat on the toddler potty we bought him. He was sporadic in what he would do. Then he wanted to become a big boy and sit on the “big potty.” Now he wants to stand like the big men. The only problem is there is not a way I know of to teach him to aim.

Third confession:

Families aren’t always started the conventional way.

My husband and I met in a newspaper office. He asked me why men date crazy women. A 23-year-old married journalist, I did not know how respond.

“It’s for the sex,” he said.

He later told me he wanted to gauge my reaction. The office secretary later told me he was wild in younger years. He was also thirty-two-years older than me married with two sons.

Fourth Confession:

Since 2008, journalists have referred to our economy as the Great Recession. In so many ways, it has been a depression. While not on the same level as the Great Depression in the 1930’s, I witnessed what unemployed workers lost. How many kept trying and what they gave up. When my husband lost his job, our family of three lost our home.

So there are many things I should not say, but in a family of six, a lot of words are said. They aren’t always heard. What you can take away from a big family, potty training, an affair and the economy is things never go the way we plan.

Elisabeth Tressie

Elisabeth Tressie is a fictional name only.