Frick and Frack

When I was younger, a lot younger, we used to have two ducks. Their names were Frick and Frack. Although my memory is most likely skewed, seeing as how I couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4 years old, I do have a memory of these two ducks. My mother used to talk about them constantly, she still mentions them from time to time.

In my head I picture them as two feathery ducks following my mother about the yard, quacking joyfully. Frick and Frack, her two loyal ducks. Now, years later, I can’t help but think of the waddling pair when I look at my two children.

My two children, as they joyfully quacking at each other as they waddle their way to the bus stop each morning with their bulging backpacks. My two children, as they follow me through countless grocery and department stores. My two children, my little ducks.

It’s because of all their human waddling and quacking that I’ve started referring to them as Frick and Frack. Each time I do I magically jump into my head and envision my mother with her two joyful ducks following her around.

Granted, my ducks are not always joyful. In fact, when they are together they are often quite miserable. Squabbling, yelling, making each other cry…an all out verbal cage match during most waking hours. The only peace I get is when one is engrossed in the Xbox  and the other is envisioning themselves as a Teen Titans Go character. Even then my little ducks can’t let go of the previous argument and come to me looking for resolve and validation.

It is then that I magically jump back into my head and envision a lovely candle lit two duck dinner that I get to enjoy all by myself.

Snapped back into reality, mainly because I’m out of wine, my two little ducks are suddenly quacking joyfully again. Waddling around the house with their imaginations running wild like only Frick and Frack can.

This is parenting, folks. It’s all about the rollercoaster of emotions and duck dinners. The moral of the story: Children are like ducks. Unfortunately, you can only eat one of them when they piss you off.

 

I Don’t Need to Feel Beautiful to be a Mother

I don’t feel beautiful anymore. I don’t even feel pretty. The word “attractive” doesn’t cross my mind unless I’m thinking about Mike Rowe or Bruce Willis. That’s a lie, the word “hot” crosses my mind when I think about them. “Fucking Hot,” to be exact. So no, I don’t feel beautiful or pretty. I feel…average.

Average Brandi, the woman who is a little larger than most 37-year-olds in the area. Average Brandi, the outspoken single mom. Average Brandi, the woman who spends time in the mirror each morning wondering where all the fun went. Average Brandi, the mom who is constantly asking other parents to be her Rent-a-spouse. Average Brandi, the woman who is used to feeling alone while surrounded by people. Average Brandi, the woman whose body hasn’t been a Wonderland in years. Average Brandi, the woman who loves her kids more than life itself. Average Brandi, the woman who has somehow helped two children thrive in a one parent household. Average Brandi, who constantly feels like she’s holding the world on her shoulders. Average Brandi, the woman who isn’t average at all.

I may not feel beautiful anymore, and I may no longer turn heads. Men don’t think I’m irresistible, and I’ll probably never be sexy again. I’ll never have that certain something that turns anyone on, or produces the feeling of passion in a person again…and I’m ok with that.

I’m ok with that because to two people in my life, I’m not average. To them I am amazing. To them, I make a difference.

If I only get to be those things to just two people in my entire lifetime, I’m ok with that. Why? Because I’m a mother. Those two people call me “mom” and that’s all I need in my life. It is all I need to feel complete, whole and wanted. Nothing in life matters more than that.

I am a mother. I am strong. All beauty aside, I stand tall. I am a pillar of strength for my children. I am their advocate. I am their everything. Even when the day comes where they rebel against me, I know it will pass and I will once again be “mom”.

I don’t need beauty or sex appeal to be who I am because I am a mother.

Tomorrow my work, in conjunction with the pediatric unit at the local hospital, is hosting a garden memorial service for families who have lost children. I currently work at an organization that hosts families with children going through medical treatment. This covers children who are born prematurely, children who have been diagnosed with cancer and undergoing treatment, to children who are the victims of accidents. Every family is going through their own struggles. So many have happy endings, and it warms me. However, on the rare occasion, a happy ending isn’t in the cards for these families. Tomorrow is for these families. 

I love the fact that my work honors families who have gone through great loss. I love the fact that we are able to give them a little ray of sunshine in their moment of sorrow.

I have hugged these families. I have listened to their stories. I have cried my silent tears for them.

Through all of this, I find myself struggling. Struggling as I sit at home, holding my children. Holding my healthy children.

Today I found myself looking at my children trying to imagine what it would be like if they suddenly weren’t here anymore. Trying to imagine, comprehend, what all these families have gone through. I suddenly felt guilty because I am blessed to be able to hold my children and kiss them before bed each night.

What do I say to these parents who are missing a piece of their hearts? How do I hold them in my arms and tell them it will be ok, when I can’t even begin to comprehend what they are going through? 

I love my job, and I love being able to help sustain a place of comfort and refuge for families. So, tomorrow I will do what I am good at. Tomorrow I will open my arms and remind those families what my work is all about…them.

Blessings to all those who have lost a child. May you find peace. I will always be here with open arms to embrace you as you heal.

You’re Fucking Wrong

For those poor, suffering parents of unruly bedtime toddlers who think “Go The Fuck to Sleep” was written for you, guess what? You’re fucking wrong.

Look, we’ve all been through the toddler years, and everyone knows they are the worst years in the history of ever. They don’t want to get in the bath. They don’t want to get out of the bath. Fuck, they don’t even want to put on the fuzzy jammies you bought them after they practically threw down at Target because you weren’t going to get them. All you want to do is yell at them and say, “Look, you little shit. I’ve had enough. Go the fuck to bed!” And then there are times when you are 100% willing to just let them climb on the counters, eat ice cream, and shit themselves while you hide in the closet with a bottle of wine, because the fight just isn’t worth it. I get it, your life as a parent between the hours of 7 and 9 pm sucks some serious ass. Boo hoo, we will all be over here singing a sad song for you…right after your kid hits 9 years old. Why? Because a 9-year-old at bed time is 10 times worse than a toddler.

Did you know that a 9-year-old only has to shower once a week? Once every two weeks if they don’t smell “that” bad. At least that’s what they will have you believe. You, “Take a shower.” Them, “Why?” You, “Because you stink.” Them, “But I took one yesterday.” You, “I don’t care. You stink. Take a shower.” Them, “Why?” You, “Because you smell like my ass, your feet are black, your hair is grey from who the hell knows what, and because I fucking said so.” Guess who’s going to bed without a shower? It’s not going to be you. You might as well use all that hot water you just saved by them not taking a shower, and draw yourself a nice hot bubble bath…to drown yourself in.

Tell me honestly, have you even had a conversation with a 9-year-old? I’m talking a real, honest to God conversation? Unless you’ve had one, I’m going to go ahead and guess you haven’t. First of all, they’re fucking smart. They will talk you out of anything if you’re not actually paying attention. You know that half-ass listening thing you toddler parents do? Yeah, stop doing that. If you don’t learn to be an active listener now, you’ll find yourself at 9pm with a 9-year-old sitting next to you playing Minecraft on the couch because you thought it would be cute to lie and say didn’t know what 12 times 12 is, losing a bedtime bet. 12 x 12 is 144, in case you didn’t know. By the time you realize you’ve been had by someone who isn’t even 5 feet tall yet, it will be too late to renege on your bedtime bet.

Even if you do decide to renege on your bedtime bet, what are you going to do? Carry them upstairs like when they were 3? Yeah…no. Aside from being fucking smart, they’re fucking squirrely little bastards. A three year old in the middle of a tantrum has nothing on a wiry 9 year old who just ate their weight in macaroni and cheese, yet could slip through the smallest of holes. They’re like Gumby, come to life. They will bend and twist their way out of the strongest of choke holds. All the while taking full advantage of their low center of gravity, and taking you out at the knees as they duck and run. Unless you sit on them, as they are playing Minecraft, you will not be able to overpower them.

Let’s say you actually get them showered, up the stairs, to their room, and in bed. Remember how I said they were fucking smart? Now they’re going to remind you just how smart they are. “But mom…can’t I read just one more chapter in my book?” You know, the book that has been sitting on their desk for over a month with a half inch of dust on it? Yeah, that one. Regardless, you puff up your chest, stroke your ego for raising such a scholastic child, and them, “Of course you can!” Thirty minutes later, you go to check on them. That fucking little shit is playing Minecraft! You burn all the books, and send the tablet to some third world country for kids without internet to play with.

Once you’ve gotten used to them smell of the stank child you gave birth to 9 years ago, talked your way out of a bet, drop kicked said 9-year-old, and burned everything in their room, you finally get them tucked in and quiet. You try to hug them; they duck out of the way. You try to kiss them on the forehead; they magically slip under the bed. Holy shit! Get the fuck back into your bed, you unruly child before I make you breathe deeply with this pillow shoved in your face. And for fucks sake, give your mother a fucking hug and a kiss!

So, parents of toddlers, heed my words. Start paying attention to what is actually coming out of that little shit’s mouth, go to the gym to get swoll, and start carrying around a portable camping shower because your gonna fucking need it in 6 to 8 years. Enjoy your time, and your excuse to drink, now because once they hit 9…you won’t have enough brain left to figure out how to even pour that wine into a glass.

He Took One Thing, My Confidence

22 years ago next month, a man came into my house and changed my life forever. He wasn’t a friend. He wasn’t a family member. To me, he was a complete stranger. He was my best friend’s drug dealer. His name was Scott. He was 22. I was 14.

At 14 you’re pretty sure that you rule the world, and that nothing will ever hurt you. So, when my best friend suggested we drink the bottle of Jack Daniels in my parent’s liquor cabinet, I didn’t argue. It was horrible, and burned on the way down. I hated every minute of it, but my best friend assured me it was going to be fun. After a few sips the burning subsided, and the fun began. We started stumbling around the house, laughing hysterically, and calling everyone we knew. “I know,” she said “Let’s call my drug dealer, he thinks you’re really pretty.” At 14 the thought of a grown-up thinking you’re pretty is a pretty awesome thing. I puffed up my chest, shook my shoulders, and agreed to the phone call.

30 minutes later there was Scott, on my doorstep. He was tall and handsome. He touched my face and said hello. I was in heaven. After he and my best friend  made a little transaction off to the side, he came up to me and put his hand on my waist. “Is there some place we can go to talk in private?” Being naive, and young, I walked him down to the basement. He followed behind me, with the bottle of Jack in his hand. Once we were down there he started urging me to take sips from the bottle. After each sip he would kiss me. A peck on the cheek, then the other. A lingering kiss on the neck. His hands fondled the outside of my shirt, and then under it. He told me how beautiful I was, and what an amazing body I had. In my mind, I was a queen. This is what it meant to be a teenager, to be wanted by a man. A real man. He then asked me where my bedroom was.

I stumbled up the stairs ahead of him. Up two floors to my bedroom. The door shut. The lights went off. I suddenly felt like I had left my body. I kept getting glimpses of a naked me on the bed, with him on top. It hurt, but I let it happen because he had told me I was beautiful. That had to mean something. Right? At one point I saw the door fly open, followed by a flash of light. “Oh my god!!!! They’re actually doing it!!!” It was my best friend yelling into the phone in excitement.

The next morning I woke up, not with a handsome 22 year old next to me, but in a rumpled heap in a pool of my own vomit next to an empty Jack Daniels bottle. Everything hurt. My head. My body. I felt confused. I felt scared. I felt violated. My best friend was sitting in the living room when I got downstairs. “So?” she asked, “How was it?” I didn’t know what to say, instead I shrugged my shoulders and walked outside. She followed me outside cheerfully. She explained to me that Scott had left when I started to throw up, and that she had traded me for drugs. My best friend traded my dignity for drugs.

Since then I have had difficulties forming personal relationships, and trusting those close to me. I have no emotional attachment to sex, and I a difficult time saying “no” when a man pushes himself against me. Instead of enjoying foreplay, I fill with anxiety and go numb. I become an emotional void from the first grope to the last insertion. I have a history of choosing the wrong men because I don’t know how to say “no”. I end up taking them into my life because they told me I was beautiful. Even after they stop saying it, after they start treating me like an object, after they become complete strangers in our home, after I try to cut them out of my life; I can’t say no.

I have been raped one more time since then. That one sent me into a very dark period in my life where I hurt a lot of men. I used them the same way I though they wanted to use me. For the past 22 years I have made myself believe all I am good for is sex. I have struggled with eating disorders, alcohol addiction, and self doubt. Now, for the first time since that fateful night, I am finally ready to put my feet back under me. I am ready to take my life back, and I am sacred shitless. For those of you who know me in real life, please be gentle with me. Please help me through the rollercoaster ahead of me because I have a long way to go.

Today I Am Worth It

In the past two and a half years I have put on almost 20 pounds. I now find myself jiggling in places I haven’t felt jiggle since my daughter was born. When I walk, my ass looks like it’s bumpin’ at the club, and my sides wiggle  like they’re being tickled. Don’t even get me started on my boobs. The two things that are growing at such an obscene pace, I’ve maxed out my JC Penny’s credit card. I have wrinkles in places I didn’t even know could wrinkle, and hair growing in places no hair should ever go.

This past year, I let the weight gain, wrinkles, and hair get the better of me. To top it all off, I was letting the stresses of life get to me. I would look in the mirror, and not even recognize the person looking back at me. All I saw was a sad woman, carrying the weight on the world on her shoulders. She constantly looked exhausted. She never liked to smile. Her eyes were sad. Her skin was pale. I had let all these things define me. My struggles at work, a failing relationship, and overall struggle of raising two young kids had taken over what I thought I was. Boy, was I wrong! Letting all that define me made me into…well…a miserable bitch.

Life isn’t always fun, I know that. Life isn’t always awful either, I need to remember that. As I looked at myself in the mirror the other night, tears streaming down my face, flat out ugly crying I started to look at my life up to that point. Where had I been? What had I done? What had brought me to this point of self hate? I want to say this is the point where I had this amazing, snot induced epiphany…but it wasn’t. This is where I went downstairs, ignored the homework that was due in two hours, drank too much a beer. I was a failure. I was useless. I couldn’t believe I was allowed to raise children. My personal pity party carried on into the next day, at work and into the night.

I sent out a few “pay attention to me” text messages to friends, posted some adult emo content on social media, and cried…a lot. I was convinced I would never finish my degree, get a better paying job, buy a house, or find someone who thought I was worthy of a daily weekly foot rub. My kids deserved better, and I was the worst mother alive. I looked at myself in the mirror again, confirming all the horrible things. I then climbed into a hole, covered myself with dirt, and gave in. I let the all the negative in. I let it take over all my emotions. I could feel myself breaking apart, full of hopelessness. There was no way I was going to be able to climb out of this. Then I woke up.

The alarm was going off. The cat was starring at me. Same day, different date. But something was different. Something had changed. As I climbed out of bed, I caught a glimpse on my naked body in the mirror behind the door. Who was that? She had soft curves, smooth skin. She was younger and free. Then it hit me, I was looking at myself. My wrinkles were still there, but they were less harsh. My ass was still bumpin’ at the club yes, I checked, and my boobs were still monsters. Everything was still THERE, it was just different. Confused, I walked into the bathroom to look in a different mirror. There I saw strength and beauty. I saw a woman who had control of her life, and was going to do something about it.

I had let all the negative consume me completely. I let it fester and manifest. I let it have it’s way with me. Then it burned itself out, leaving me in a pile of ashes. This morning, from those ashes, I awoke and arose a phoenix. Today I can take on the world. Today I can give my children everything needed for a full, and happy life. Today I am beautiful. Today I am worth it. Today is the beginning of the rest of my life.

Yes, I’ll still have to shave my toes and work on losing weight, and that’s ok. I’ll still have days where life will push me down, but I’m ready. Today I have a confidence I have never had before. Today I love myswlf. Today and every day going forward.
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Head Explodes: Continuum Hypothesis

I am a 36 year old mother of two, attempting to finish her college degree online. My day starts at 5:30am with an IV drip of coffee. That’s bull shit, I straight funnel that shit like a beer bong! I’m a college student now, that’s how I roll! Between getting myself into a respectable I use that term very loosely state for work, hauling children out of bed by their toes, beating them with broom handles, chiming the bus departure countdown in NASA-esque fashion, flying to work in my Lesbian hockey player car Subaru, attempting to act like I know what I’m talking about in the world of non-profit fundraising, hob nobbing at the Coop while picking up Asian dipping sauces and organic fennel, flying to the afterschool program to magically whisk the kids out the door so we can go for a “family” walk the only viable time I can actively ignore them without being caught, getting super on the table by 6:30pm, tiny people showers by 7:30pm, and lights out no later than 8pm…I’ve completely forgotten where this absurdly long sentence was going…Oh, yes! That’s right, between all this bull shit responsibility nonsense and school work, it’s any wonder that I can get any sort of grade that resembles the definition of “decent.”

I am now in my second term of classes. This means I have successfully passed two, very serious, classes already. Both classes were research based, meant to educate my classmates, meant to educate myself, blah, blah, blah. With that being said, I’ve pretty much jumped onto the sarcasm bandwagon for this second term, at least with my math class. I’m so awesome at being awesome, that I decided to take an online math class…online. On-FUCKING-LINE!!!Who does that??? Aside from crazy people who actually “enjoy” math. No one. Not unless we are being held at gunpoint, our children’s lives are being threatened, or we need the credits to graduate. So, there I was…taking an online math class.

It’s any wonder my professor has not asked me to leave the class already. I come out and voice my distain of all different aspects of mathematics, and basically approach all my assignments with an air of satire. For those of you wondering what exactly I mean, may I present to you exhibit “A”. Also known as “The Continuum Hypothesis and Why Math Professor Will End Up Hating Me.” I should add, I have absolutely no idea what I am talking about mathematically.

(This is the actual “paper” I wrote for my infinity assignment) *drops dead from mathematical stress*

Truth be told, infinity and I don’t get along. Why? Many reasons. I don’t like numbers I can verbally count to represented by letters, but then again, I don’t like numbers I can’t count to. It bothers me to know there are unknown numbers swimming around in space and all around us. Numbers that are just lingering around until someone plucks it out of thin air because they turned n into 0.2345. The worst part for me is not having a definitive number of something, I don’t like that it can go on, and on, and on, and on, and on…much like my seven-year-old daughter when she’s explaining the very real concept of unicorns hidden in our every day. Couple all this together with the overall concept of the Continuum Hypothesis that is can neither be proven true or false, and my head pretty much exploded. Infinity is a unicorn.

I could end my explanation there, but I’m not sure that falls within the rubric guidelines. Therefore, I will close my eyes and jump head first into the world of unicorns…I mean the continuum hypothesis. In the late 1800’s, Georg Cantor proved that there is a one-to-one relationship between natural numbers and algebraic numbers.

For example: a1 = 2; a2 = 3; a3 = 4

In short, each number we are used to has a little algebraic buddy that is just like it. Twins separated at birth. It would have been nice if Cantor had stopped there, but he didn’t. Instead he dug a little deeper, and looked between the numbers. He not only wanted to see if there were one-to-one ratios within these fractions of numbers, but he also wanted to see how many there were. In other words, he wanted to see if there was an infinite number of one-to-one ratios. The answer? He has no idea. He could never prove if there were an infinite number of sets or not. This means that poor Cantor died in 1918 not knowing the answer.

Thankfully, David Hilbert (from the Hilbert Hotel problem) decided to support Cantor by basically saying the continuum hypothesis was “the most important unsolved problem in mathematics.” Of course, if I were running a hotel like his, I would also find this to be the most important problem in mathematics. It is because of the “unsolvable” issue that mathematicians have continued to work tirelessly on trying to prove something other than “unknown.” The closest any two have come are Curt Godel in the 1920’s when he determined the hypothesis could never be proven as false. About 50 years later, Paul J. Cohen determined that it can also not be proven true.

As I said in the beginning, my head pretty much exploded. I’m not a mathematician, I don’t play one on TV, and I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn last night; but I did try very hard to wrap my brain around this unsolved mystery. The best I could come up with is the problem where you start out 4 feet from a wall. Your first step, you cut the distance in half to 2 feet. Your next step, you cut that distance in half to one foot. Each time you take a step, you are cutting the distance in front of you by half. With each step, you get closer. However, because you keep cutting the distance in half, you will never actually reach the wall…at least not in a way you can prove it. Each step is broken down into a smaller part. This is much like a number line.

 

You______1’_______2’_______3’_______4’_Wall

Starting 4’ away

You_____1’_____2’ Wall

You just cut the distance in half. Let’s do it again.

You____1’ Wall

Now we start cutting the distance down into fractions. Take one more step.

You_____0.5’ Wall

Again…

You_____0.25’_Wall

Each step is half of the last. It can keep getting smaller, but it can never fully stop. That is until your Fitbit tells you have reached your step goal for the day, or you’re tired of looking at the wall.

 

 

References:

TEDEducation. “How Big Is Infinity? – Dennis Wildfogel.” YouTube. YouTube, 2012. Web. 25 Apr. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UPA3bwVVzGI&gt;.

 

Koellner, Peter. “The Continuum Hypothesis.” Stanford University. Stanford University, 2013. Web. 25 Apr. 2016. <http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/continuum-hypothesis/&gt;.