The title is a description of my old life...but these days I ramble on about widowhood, homeschooling, single parenting, adoption, special-needs parenting, & living a life I never planned for or expected - a life that God, thankfully, continues to strengthen & equip me for daily...
Sunday, August 10, 2014
DIARY OF AN UNWILING WIDOW
August 10, 2014
I am actually starting this on Sat. evening - well, late night.I've been wanting to get to blogging all day
long, but haven't had time.So, I'm
waiting for my melatonin to kick in and then I'll finish up tomorrow.
We were all in a parade this morning.Race cars are really big in Knoxville, which is 20 min. south of here in
our county.Apparently, every year they
have something called, "Nationals" which is when ticket prices are
really high (so I've been told, not that I've ever been to any race - dirt,
noise, and cars - why would I want to pay any money to experience that?),
people decorate their houses in accordance with a racing theme, and they have a
parade, which was today.Special
Olympics had a float and there was room for a bunch of us to ride.My kiddos had a ball throwing candy to the
crowd.I had to literally hold on to the
back of Ellie's shirt or she would have tumbled out, along with the candy she
There were a bunch of Marion Co. athletes I was not familiar with.They haven't ever competed with Ben that I'm
aware of.But several of them had the cutest
get-ups.They were wheelchair bound and
their parents or someone had designed frames that went over their chairs that
looked just like race cars.So, while
they were in the parade, they looked like drivers - absolutely adorable!
I've got a bunch of random stuff I've been jotting down all week.No more talking about remarriage for awhile,
I don't think!I've said all I have to
say on the subject for the time being.I
still miss him...so, so much.
Tuesday, I loaded the kids up on rentals and chicken nuggets and went to
Council Bluffs to meet Kathy.As usual,
it was a relaxing, recharging day.We
have been the best of friends since high school and our friendship is stronger
now than it was as teenagers.We can go
months without communicating but we just pick up where we left off.Everyone should have a friend like that.Although now, Kathy has texting so maybe we
won't go quite so long without communicating!
I was a little concerned about leaving David with the kids alone that long,
but he did fine.In an emergency, we
have neighbors and friends that would have helped.About 2 hours after I left, he texted me a
picture of a wall Ellie had just scribbled on...sigh...more on her later!
After Kathy and I said our good-byes I didn't hop on the interstate right
away.I was hungry for ataco so I gpsed the closest joint and it took
me to the western side of CB.It had
been several years since I had been on that end of town.It's really not a good section of the city.It wasn't when we lived there and has only
deteriorated.But as I drove around, I
was assaulted with a barrage of memories from the years Paul and I dated and
the nearly 12 years of our marriage we lived in the area.I just found myself missing him so
much as I drove!This was his hometown,
where he lived for 33 years.No matter
how much he enjoyed our new location, Council Bluffs was always going to be
home for him.
The last time Paul and I were on the west end they were working onthe viaduct, which is the connecting bridge
for the two sides of town.I remember we
were detoured around that the last time we were there.Well, it's
done now.It's probably been done for
some time, but I hadn't seen it yet. When I did, I
about laughed out loud.I'm not sure what
their intent was, but they put all these colored poles and knobby things on the
sides of the bridge.I guess from a
distance it may look kind of artsy, but it was actually kind of confusing to my
eyes as I drove through it.When I was
engaged, I remember my eye doctor telling me I was moving to the "armpit
of Iowa."More than likely, he
wasn't the only person to have that viewpoint of CB and that's the impetus
behind all the "beautification" projects that have sprung up in the
last decade.Anyway, my first thought
was, "Oh, my goodness - wait until I tell Paul what they did!"I could just hear his disbelieving
bark of laughter, followed by, "What the sick duck?..." as he viewed
the viaduct for the first time!And then
I had the quick, burning reminder in my stomach that I don't get to tell Paul
anything anymore, ever again.
Well, the melatonin has done its job and unless I intend to sleep through
Children's Church tomorrow (which I am teaching - first time in a year and a
half...I'm slowly getting back on the proverbial horse) I had better tuck
myself in.More tomorrow...
Late Sunday night...
I took a two hour nap today, so I may be up for awhile yet tonight.I did not plan to take a 2 hr nap, but
it happened, anyway.I absolutely cannot
nap during the week.I have tried, but
my mind refuses to shut down.But come
Sunday afternoon and these eyelids just will NOT stay open!Of course, whenever I crawl into bed on Sunday
afternoons, I feel a bit sad before I fall asleep.I remember a whole lot of Sun. afternoon naps
Paul and I took together and it just seems wrong to have to do it myself. That's because it IS wrong.I really believe God created our innermost
being to long for and cravewhat He
intended - perfection.When that
perfection is marred by the imperfection of death that our inner man was never
meant to bear, we rail against it
I'm going to try not to rant here, but it may be difficult.After Paul died I was forced to put the kids
on Medicaid.Well, "forced" is
too strong of a word.I could
have purchased private medical insurance for them, but doing so would have made
an already-tight budget even tighter.We
qualify for help so it seemed prudent to take that offered help.But that help comes with a price in the form
of FRUSTRATION.I don't think there is
any thing that the govt. offers that doesn't, really.Because of my experience with Medicaid and
other govt. entities I didn't even look at Obamacare when it came time last
winter to buy health insurance for myself.I am staying as far away from that level of frustration as I can, for
the time being!
I know I've talked about the kids' dental care on my blog before.We have had a wonderful dr. out in Clive
since we moved here 10 yrs ago.Before, I
always had to take Ben to the Creighton dental school for work because he has
all these sensory issues and I couldn't find a dentist willing to work with us.
Creighton was willing to papoose Ben, which always made me feel terrible as a
mom, but it was the only way to get near Ben's mouth. Dr.
Wade has been absolutely wonderful with Ben and the others. He never had to restrain Ben in any way and was able to
meet all his needs. Well, he quit taking Medicaid last fall.I understand.As much frustration as I have with them, I can only imagine what
doctors' offices must go through.It
took me awhile, but I finally asked my dr. in Pleasantville if he would be
willing to take on my kids and they were because they knew me.
I'm not really sure what's up with this dental office.The main dr. has been there for decades, but
he keeps bringing in these temporary dentists.I get comfortable with someone, and then the next time, they aren't
there anymore.For awhile they had one
that looked just like Josh Groban, so I particularly enjoyed watching him
while he worked on my teeth!But then,
he left, too, sadly.
Ok, so I took Ben in to the dentist to have a filling done.He needs three, total.The newest dentist came in, looked at Ben,
and told me, "Uh, I can't do this.Your son can't hold his mouth open (because of his weak mouth muscles,
I'm assuming) and you're going to have to go to Altoona." He decides that
after 5 minutes, tops. That's where
they sent me with Ellie last spring - there's a pediatric dentist there who
drives me batty with her syrupy sweet euphemisms for words like,
"cavity" and so forth, but she got the job done.I pointed out to this dentist that Ben will
be 18 in 3 months and technically, no longer eligible to see a pediatric
dentist.He said that shouldn't be a
problem.The front desk clerk assured me she'd get it
all set up.
Ten minutes later I was home and I received a phone call.Altoona said that Ben was "too old"
to go to their office (did I not suggest that to the dentist?!) and I should
take him to Iowa City.Iowa City - for cavities?Really?I am supposed to make a four hour round trip with my gas (yes, I could
claim this with TMS, the transportation reimbursement division of Medicaid, but
I have dealt with them before and I'm sorry - it's an office full of inept
idiots on govt. payroll.Not worth my
time) and spend the majority of my day doing this.
But, he's also MY son.So on Sept.
10 I am driving to Iowa City.For
That's one frustration.But here is
another.In May, I was asked to submit
proof of income so that it could be determined whether or not the kids still
qualify for Medicaid.I did and was
informed that we have too much money coming in and our case would be turned
over to Hawk-i, which is also subsidized health care.It's just for families who are too well off
for Medicaid and too poor to buy their own private coverage.Nothing happened.At all.David went to the dentist and I was informed he had no insurance.I made phone calls.And more phone calls.Nothing happened. David ran out of
prescription dandruff shampoo.I made
more phone calls.I got nowhere.David's head finally started itching
unbearably again so I bought his shampoo myself. I contemplated marching myself
down to DHS/Hawk-i headquarters and forcing someone to talk to me.
Sam and David have not had insurance all summer long.Ben, of course, gets his through his waiver
so he's fine. For some weird reason the
girls are also ok due to their prior foster children status.I'm quite sure that will catch up with us
sooner or later.I haven't been able to
get a straight answer out of Medicaid yet on why they are not considered the
same as David and Sam since they've been adopted for nearly a year now.
About 10 days ago I began to pray fervently.When I would think about this situation, I
just found myself so agitated and upset.There's no one place to even direct my frustration.In all the years I've been dealing with DHS,
since Ben's birth, I've run into a lot of ineptitude.But I've also met a whole lot of workers who
really want to help people but are so overwhelmed by their case loads that it's
hard to do anything with a real degree of effectiveness.I don't know which it has been in this
situation, but I knew it was not something I could handle anymore.I didn't know who else to call, who to
contact.All I knew was that if Sam or
David needed to see a doctor, we were going to be in some serious trouble.I asked God to take care of this, to smooth
the way, to go before me, and help me get the answers I need.
Thursday I left a voice mail with someone at Hawk-i, assuming I probably
would not hear back from them.Friday, I
did!All they needed from me were the
boys Social Security numbers.Never mind
that I'm quite sure those numbers are on file, given that both boys have had
Hawk-i in the past...I sweetly provided the information and was told that the
insurance would be promptly processed, retroactive to June 1.They will even reimburse me for David's
That particular burden rolled right off my back.What a relief!I won't rest completely easy until those new
insurance cards are in my hand, but I'm feeling much, much better. Thank you, Lord!
Ok, so...I have a three year old daughter now.She's my 6th three year old.I loved, loved having 3 yr old boys...so much
fun!Lizzie was 3 1/2 when I got
her.She was a pain.But I chalked that up to everything about her
circumstances.Ellie has not lived the
same life as her sister and does not bear the same scars.She was removed at birth and while she did
suffer from the chaos that happened when she was 9-11 months of age, it hasn't
had the same effect on her that it did on Lizzie.
But she's three years old now and just terrible!My sister-in-law breezily informed me it's
the age and gender.I hope so because
I've been so disappointed.My boys were
wonderful three year olds!Ellie just
seems to live for disobedience.If
something can be tipped over, spilled, colored on, ripped up, or eaten, she's
all over it.If Mom says, "don't
you dare," she accepts it as a personal challenge.No matter what option is presented to her,
she answers it with a defiant, "no!"She hurls herself to the ground with massive tantrums, but recovers from
them like magic if she doesn't have an audience, I've found.At the same time, she's wildly affectionate
and loves to give me open mouth kisses (yuck). She twirls around in her little dresses and
sweetly asks, "Me pitty, Mommy?"Overhead, I can always hear a clomp, clomp, clomp upstairs and I
know she's once again into the dress up high heel shoes.She's all girl.As I commented to some friends last week, one
minute Ellie can be telling me how much she loves me and the very next she's
attempting to push a sibling down the steps to his death.My boys were such steady little creatures at
three.But I feel like I'm getting
whiplash with this little girl's bi-polar personality!
Friday I did my once-a-month shopping.In the summer I have to take Ben because he is, of course, obsessed with
shopping.Year round, I take one of the
Littles, too, to give David a break.I
had told Ellie that when she turned 3, I would put her in the rotation.Well, it was her turn and she was SO excited!
I could not believe the child that went shopping with me Friday.She was completely Angel Ellie.Every single place we went, she was asking
people, "What your name?I
Ellie!"Then I would watch her
deliberately bat her eyelashes (literally - I don't think I've ever actually
seen a human do that before) and store clerks and people in the store aisles
were falling all over themselves introducing themselves and exclaiming about
how cute Ellie was.By about the tenth time
this happened, I was just rolling my eyeballs.When we were at Target, Ellie looked at one store employee and told her
earnestly, "You are so special!"I about hacked up the water I was drinking at the time.
Ellie accidentally knocked her can of pop to the ground as she was getting
out of the van to go into the Dollar store with me.She exclaimed, "I so sorry,
Mommy!"I replied, "It's
ok."Ellie was quiet just for a
moment and then said, "You 'sposed to say, 'I forgive you, Ellie.'"
In Aldi's, Ellie picked up a block of cheese and held it to her head like a
phone.She had a pretend conversation
with her sister.She hung up her cheese
and told me she had been talking to Ellie.I replied, "Oh?What is
Lizzie doing right now?"Shrugging
diffidently, Ellie answered, "She's pooping!"I did ask...
At home, we're potty training.I know
she knows when she needs to go but it's been a chore and a half to convince her
of that.But all day long while
shopping, "Oh, I need to potty now, Mommy!"I'd tell her to hold on.I'm in the check-out lane - can't do a potty
run at the moment."But, Mommy - I
don't want to go in my pants!"Really, kid?Because at home, you
sure don't seem to care if you go in your pants or not!
I honestly was smiling and laughing all day, but mine was more of a
sardonic type of laughter since I know the real Ellie and that
Ellie was nowhere to be found!Until we
got home.Then she morphed back into a
Ellie the Beast again. I asked her to
carry some groceries down to the basement, just like her siblings were doing
and that was enough to bring on the tears, pouty lip, and "I don't want
to!" as she rebelliously slid to the ground on her bottom. Sigh...
I did have to choke back laughter the other day.I washed the girls' hair and was detangling
it after their bath.Ellie was being her
normal little self and Lizzie walked by and casually said, "Here's a tip,
Ellie.Now would be a good time for you
to tell Mom you're sorry.Otherwise she
might not be so gentle on your head!"Do I really vent my frustrations with the girls when doing their hair? Apparently so, if Lizzie has figured out the key to getting me to slow down and take it more easy on their poor scalps!
I saw a Lozier truck this week.I
remember a year ago how the sight of those made me cry.I was ok this time.Progress...
I ended up having THE talk with Lizzie yesterday.Not the sex talk, but the other talk -
racism.It came up because of Michael
Jackson, of all people.Lizzie saw a
picture of him and asked if he was a black man.I told her yes, but he wanted to be white so he bleached his skin and
had lots of surgeries.She looked so
hurt when I said that.So we talked
quite a bit, as a result.She said,
"Well, you don't like the president and he's black."Ugh.It never once occurred to me that she took my dislike of Obama to have
anything to do with his skin color!So
we talked some more.
Well, then it turned out she was concerned about the Norman Rockwell
picture I have hanging in the hallway that depicts the first day of school for
brave little Ruby Bridges, who was the first black child to attend a white
school when integration was rightfully forced on the South.The picture shows a tomato smashed against
the wall behind Ruby and Lizzie thought that people were throwing fruit at her
because she was black.I think maybe I
should have explained the picture to her when I bought it last March.But I thought she was too young.And I didn't even think she could see it
because she's short and the picture is up high.But she did.
Norman Rockwell's, "The Problem We All Live With " - 1962
So we talked about Ruby Bridges and Jim Crowe laws and slavery and stubborn
people who were taught bad things by their parents who then taught them to
their kids.I thought this conversation
was years away yet.She is five years
old!In my creative, intuitive, spirit
that prefers to see life the way it should be rather than the way it is
sometimes, I want to think that race doesn't matter.Only love does.But, the longer I am the girls' mom, the more
I see that race does matter.I
don't want it to.I wish it didn't.I wish everyone would embrace others
regardless of the pigment of their skin.
We talked for a long, long time.I
think Lizzie needed that.She asked
about dating and marriage, too.She
tells me she thinks she wants to marry a brown man some day and I told her
that's fine.But if she marries a white
man, that would be great, too.The most
important thing is what his heart is like.She agreed.She asked if I had
ever dated a brown man.I was so thankful
that I could tell her that I had!He was
actually Asian, but that's browner than me, so I think it counts.It was a good talk, but I felt like I was
robbing some of her innocence at the same time.She's just a little girl.She
shouldn't have to know about racism at this tender age.She's had so much other junk in her life to
deal with that she doesn't need this, too.
It's times like this that I still feel so ill-equipped to be the girls' mom.How can I, a whiter-than-white midwesterner
teach my girls about the hurt of their people when I've never experienced a
shred of racism in my own life?But when
the doubts rush in, I have to remind myself that it is no accident I am Lizzie
and Ellie's mom.I have no doubt
whatsoever that God, knowing the choices their birth parents would make, chose
me before I was ever even born, to be
the one to step in and parent the girls.He knew my skin color and history was way different, but that doesn't
mean I'm the wrong person for the job. I think it just means I have a lot to
WhileLizzie and I were talking I
briefly considered venturing into the waters of reverse racism, affirmative
action, and the systematic eradication of black babies by the abortion industry
over the last 40 years.
Speaking of that, I read the dumbest comment on my transracial FB
board last week. Someone mentioned the
border crises, with all these children being sent illegally to the US by their
avaricious or desperate parents (depends who you talk to).They said, "Well, this (the debate about
sending them back) wouldn't even be an
issue if these kids were white!"Really, people?Stupidity lurks
But I decided we'd had enough serious conversation for one day.Over time, the kids and I (because the boys
need to be in on these talks, too) will discuss it all.But I think I'll be bathing these
conversations in some pretty heavy prayer.I want to educate the kids from a Godly perspective, not just my own. I want the girls to believe that they are
beautiful with their dark skin and curly hair (and I have I mentioned their
long, curling to-die-for eyelashes?).I
never, ever want them to think that black is inferior to white.I want them to have confidence in the women
God created them to be. I fully intend to teach the girls about blacks heroes
and heroines.We'll also talk about white
ones - no lopsided history classes at my house!But most of all, I want their focus to be on the heart.That's where I really spend a lot of time
right now with all the kids.Nothing on
the outside matters if the heart isn't right.And when the heart is right, the outside becomes secondary, anyway.
Tomorrow night my writer's group meets.For the first time, I am presenting, which means I am bringing a written
piece for critique.Yikes!I'm kind of nervous, but I'm hoping for some
good feedback.I'm entering a Good
Housekeeping contest, which I really don't think I'll win.I wanted to write this to get back in the
groove or at least prove to myself that I can still write, despite everything
else that's gone on in my life in recent years.I really struggled with this particular piece, though.I know none of my blog readers will believe
me, but I had the hardest time reaching the minimum word
requirement!I said all I wanted to say
in 1800 words, but they wanted 2500.It's not ready to be sent off yet.There's still whole sections I want to re-write.I've got until midnight on Sept. 1.
Sam has earnestly informed me twice in the last week that he's
"cold-blooded."I'm not quite
sure why he thinks this, but it's too cute for me to correct just yet!