Those of you who have been around for awhile know what that means. It is shorthand for “Only Child Syndrome”. I'm not sure it is anything that actually exists in any medical journal, but it certainly exists in me. My husband is the one who first pegged it and gave it the name and it has grown from a small joke to a large reality. It covers a wide range of “symptoms” including

  • The ability to totally entertain myself – I actually have more interests than I have time in the day, hours in the week, weeks in the month, etc.

  • I can stay at my home for an indefinite amount of time as long as I have food, water, electricity, heat, and either reading material or my computer with an operating internet connection.

  • I don't like to share. Not even with the people closest to me. This means sharing food, property, or feelings.

  • I am a deep thinker… but it mainly all stays in my head.

  • Yes, I talk to myself. Yes, I also answer myself. I know that is supposed to mean something. Deal with it.

My husband teases me that he is lucky I even let him hang around. He's more accurate than I think he even realizes. I've spoken before about being a bad friend. I've tried to analyze that about myself at some point I made at least one connection into a truth about myself. When I was young my parents and I moved a lot. I was a very shy child (am still a shy adult) and although I was bright, it was difficult to make friends in new schools and new neighborhoods. I had no older siblings to pave the way or younger ones to protect. I pulled the shell around myself and kept the walls up, just doing the work and moving through life alone.

The few times I had friendships as a child, they were rocky relationships at best. One of the closest relationships I had was when I was in third, fourth and fifth grades. We lived in a fairly small town and at that point my parents were still “normal”… they hadn't gone into their psychotic phase yet. I had two girls who lived on my block who were my age, one living right next door. Well, you know what happens when there are three. There is always one on the 'out'… and it always seemed that there is an alpha female who is always playing the second friend off against the third. We were no different. As close as we were, it was a painful situation at least a third of the time.

Now as an adult I've had some friendships that I consider good, but for one reason or another they've gone south. When I watch movies or shows where women have such good friendships, ala “Sex in the City”, I wonder why I don't have those types of friends. Then I remember that I don't put up with a lot of b.s., prefer to say what I'm thinking, have a hard time playing the “part”, hate mind games, don't like shopping without a goal, prefer my family's company to others. See? It even sounds bad when I put it like that, doesn't it? I don't dislike the friends I've had, I just don't cultivate it. I don't nuture it. I don't grow it. Friendship takes work. Any relationship takes work. My husband is my best friend, my kids come a close second. I haven't found anyone else I have been able to trust and love with all my heart enough to work at the relationship. I always feel like I'm wearing a mask when I'm with other people – that people aren't seeing the authentic “me”.

As lucky as my husband says he feels… I feel I am the lucky one. Lucky to have someone who has the love and patience to put up with me, quirks and all. Someone who has learned to live with my OCS and love me in spite of it. (Thanks, honey.)

Chasing the Darkness

Unless you are new here, you know my eldest daughter has been struggling for quite some time with agoraphobia, depression, and anxiety. About a year ago she had several ECT treatments and it seemed to take care of the issues – for awhile. Unfortunately, our sweet girl didn't get a lasting peace that she needed and for the past several months she's been struggling again with her demons. The doctor has been perscribing and adjusting medications in an effort to chase the darkness away… to no avail.

Later today or tomorrow she is going back into the hospital to have more ECT treatments. Right now the doctor is predicting 6-10.

Say a prayer, please.

Jon and Kate Plus…?

You'd have to be living under a rock right now not to have heard about the reality show “Jon and Kate Plus 8”. Even if you've never watched it, you have certainly caught news articles or magazine covers in the supermarket check-out line touting the end of their marriage and all the wailing going on about “oh-what-will-we-do-about-the-children”? I guess there is even a special episode on tonight that is supposed to answer the burning question… will they or won't they?

I would like to say I've not stooped so low as to follow this fiasco, but I would be lying. I started watching the show a few months ago and although I don't always agree with their decisions or their parenting skills, I have always maintained that children don't come with manuals and we all do the best we can… well, most of us do. I'm not talking about the crack-moms or the ones who leave their children in the car while they go into the bar. I think for the most part, main-stream moms who love their children do the best they can and they really do try to think about what is best for their children.

Do we all get it right? Hell no. I can speak from experience. I don't think most of us get it right very much of the time. I think a lot of it is luck… and angels watching out.

We've all gone crazy about Kate's bossiness and Jon's wussiness. We've all decided she's a bitch and he's a wiener. It is rumored he's playing around with young women and she's playing around with old bodyguards. Personally? Who cares. I mean, seriously. Who. Cares.

Yes, they put their children out there for the world to see. Yes, it has brought them a lot of money and fame and follows comes photographers and sleazy news articles. Are they true? Probably. Should we care? Not unless we are prepared to have to answer to our own perfection. Remember, glass houses, rocks, etc…?

I think there is probably going to be a big change in that tv show. I think there is going to be a huge change in that family dynamic. I think it should be done in private, not out where we have to live with seeing all the dirty laundry aired. Yes, it is probably there, but do we have to look at those children ten years down the road with a knowing smile and say, “yeah… I saw your parents implode on national tv”. Me? I'm going to just turn it off now and let them live their lives… hopefully, not in the public eye.

Father’s Day

Today is my first Father's Day… without a father. I've been trying to figure out how I feel about that.

My dad and I had a rocky relationship. In the beginning I remember my dad being the biggest thing in my life – literally. He was 6'5” tall and one of my first memories is riding on my father's shoulders walking down the hall in a hospital going to visit my mother in an iron lung. A recent newspaper article I read about her said she was one of the last people admitted to the hospital with polio from the big epidemic in the 1950's. I was born in 1956. I was three when she died… or almost three.

Before she ever died I was sent to live with my paternal grandparents. My grandparents were surrogate parents for a couple of years until my father remarried. I honestly don't know how much he loved my mother – my stepmother – but she tells me he was really concerned about wanting to marry someone who would take care of me.

I remember brief visits when he would come to my grandparents house on a weekend… remember him reading the sunday paper. Beyond that, I don't remember much until I was a bit older and he'd been remarried. For several years in my early childhood things seemed good. Then something … wasn't.

I can't put my finger on the moment when it all went wrong. Like many lives I think it was a slow process. Block on block brought down my parents into the dark layers of unhappiness. Looking back as an adult I can see money issues, major control issues (my dad), jealousy, and resentment (my mom). Money became a problem, but my dad would not let my mom go back to work (she'd been a working single woman when he married her). I think he was from that old school that said the man should bring home the bacon and the woman should fry it up and serve it. He always said someone should be home with me, too. Her unhappiness led to chemical addictions, his to alcohol. Eventually they would both become alcoholics – although what is generally referred to as “functioning” alcoholics.

The man that I once loved and admired and thought was my whole world became my jailor and my tormentor and my … enemy. A harsh word for a father, but it fits.

I have a husband who is a strict father. To a point. When the kids were small, I was more the disciplinarian than he was. His philosophy was, when the kids wanted to do things… “is it going to hurt them? If not, then why not?” I was raised totally opposite. “Why?” He also yelled and could have a temper with the best of them. But… as the kids will tell you now and joke about… they would just wait about fifteen minutes and here he'd be, tromping up the stairs to their bedrooms to apologize for losing his temper and talking to them in a quiet tone and trying to explain why he got angry and what he was trying to say. He is a man who has said “I'm sorry” more times than I can count. He is a man who says “I love you” to his kids and his family and who loves to give hugs and pats on the back. Doesn't mean he doesn't still yell… oh, yes, he can still yell… but we all know he is like the cowardly lion. He's making a lot of noise, but there is no malice behind it. None.

I wish I'd had a dad like that. I wish my dad would have made me feel safe and loved and told me once that he loved me and that he was sorry for all the evil things he'd done. I wish there were do-overs and history when re-written was really the way they wanted it to be… instead of the way it really was and the way I will always remember it. I refuse to re-write history. Even if it means I can't feel for my dad the way I'm supposed to feel today.

I'm sorry, dad. I love you… I loved you… but I didn't like you. I can't change that. I'm not going to be dishonest to my heart because I want the past to be okay.

On this father's day I am blessed to have a wonderful father for my children. That's good enough for me. 

The Fly on the Wall

Lately, that seems to be how I feel. I'm just observing all the chaos around me. There have been bits and pieces of things swirling through my mind, usually in the dead of night, that I say, "I really should blog about that"… and then? Obviously I've not. I have too many things to throw all into one post, so guess I'll make an attempt at some regularity for awhile and see if I can catch it all up. In my mind, if not in yours.

As most of you who come by here know, we live in a rural area just outside of a medium-sized town. We built our house on the edge of a timber with a creek and we are on the edge of about an 80-acre corn field. To the front of our house is the corn field, then another field, and no houses through to the next mile over, which is a fairly well-traveled paved road that we used to live on. To the back of our house is timber, a creek, more timber, a gravel road, and although we have a neighbor who lives directly across from our house, they, too, have a large yard and the house sits to the back. So it ends up they are probably a good half-mile from us. To the south, we have a large yard, then timber, creek, timber, and gun-shooting asshole (who will be moving soon. yay!). North is our driveway, which is long and follows the edge of the cornfield before exiting onto the road, then more fields and our nearest neighbor to the north is about a mile away – not counting the psycho old lady who lives right across from the end of our driveway.

At night we can see the lights of the town off in the distance (as the crow flies we're only about 3 miles out of town)… but it can be very, very quiet and dark and from our house you can't see much of any signs of life in any direction.

Cue creepy music.

A few nights ago I and my daughter both heard what appeared to be a bunny being killed in the woods. If you have never heard a bunny being killed, they scream and it isn't pleasant. It puts your goosebumps right up. What was strange, was we heard a short burst, like one being killed (kind of to the south) then a silence, then it started in again only this time longer and moving throug the woods to the north. Now I heard some other noise as well – probably whatever was killing the bunny, but daughter didn't. I can't describe the sound except it didn't sound like anything I'm familiar with. We think it may have been a hawk that picked up the bunny and was flying it through the timber, but it seemed to move slower than that and it seemed like that bunny lived… or rather died… a long time.  Unfortunately, I couldn't get Hubs awake to hear it as he's more of an outdoorsman than I am and may have been able to identify it.

Then, a couple of nights ago it got even weirder. I woke up to go to the bathroom (yea, TMI, but I'm letting you know I was awake – not dreaming) and got back in bed only to hear a huge crash in the woods that made me sit up straight. A new sound came through – one I've not heard, but have been told of. A bleeting…which I've been told is the sound a deer will make being killed. It stopped, and I froze as I heard a roar. Yes, a roar. It was no wolf, coyote and definately no kind of bird. That was a cat – and a big one. Now, the DNR (Department of Natural Resources) have tried for years to tell people that we don't have cougars (mountain lions) in this part of the country, but I beg to differ. I know people who have seen them, shot them, and had them mysteriously disappear when they've contacted the DNR about them. Some even believe they were brought back intentionally to control the deer population but that people would be outraged if they knew so it is all hush-hush. All I know is I heard something that sounded like a National Geographic special… and it was chilling. I remember when we built our house about five years ago and we spotted a large paw print that was bigger than any dog and had the characteristics of a cat print – the retractable claws. We figured then that there might be something living in the timber. It would make sense. We have tons of deer, bunnies, and other wildlife to sustain them, plus the creek for water and lots of cover.

I love living here, but in the middle of the night when you hear those sounds it can feel like you are in the middle of the wilderness, not three miles from town. Needless to say, I watch the puppies very carefully when they go out!