So, on that break-in shit I casually mentioned during the introduction of the last entry. That was a thing that happened. I can’t believe this has happened twice now in Marika’s ex boyfriends. Though, to be fair, the first one was hardly a break-in. Ex-douche Matt just sort of walked in and I was napping on the couch at the time. But the stupid thing is that Tom was there during that event. As in, AT THE HOUSE. He watched as I dragged Matt’s whimpering, crying ass out of the house and then chased him down the street with my tripod wearing nothing but a housecoat. He knew what kind of shit would go down, and yet, he decided to leave his balls with his brain at home in a jar. Or maybe amongst the towering mound of empty beer cans I can only assume he’s accumulated over the last 48 hours. Seriously, what the fuck is wrong with this dipshit.

We all know Tom is an idiot and has a drinking problem, and recent events prior to this one had made it difficult to allow him the regular visitations (to the baby) he was constantly requesting. Keep in mind though, these requests not about actually seeing Taliah: these were about being able to manipulate Marika. His actions and words had made things… uncomfortable. Yet in spite of that Marika makes an effort to keep things right. She doesn’t want to be the kind of ex that “doesn’t let” a father see his kid and she really does want to work hard to ensure he has access and visitation as much as is reasonably possible with a two month old… so she had a long discussion with the social workers about his behaviour and what could be arranged that would be safe. I was present too, both as a witness and as someone who could verbalize some of the shit she may not be able to at that time. Long story short they were seeing to getting a supervisor in a quick and effective manner, even one that would really obvious be in Tom’s favour over Marika’s so you think he’d be happy about that shit and it would seem like a personal victory for him. Even in light of the CLEAR BIAS in his direction, as soon as it was clear that him and Marika would no longer be spending many unsupervised hours together during a “visitation”, he was suddenly and inexplicably uninterested in arranging any daddy time and did not follow up with a worker. How fucking predictable.
Instead, he was out of contact for a while, then presumably went on another bender and contacted Marika repeatedly – roughly 200 times in a 12 hour period – to try and coax her into sneaking out to see him on her own. Eventually she turned off her phone. She had a friend over that night and we’d all been up late, really late, dying our hair and so we just happened to still be awake at 3:30am. I’d only just gone up to bed and had yet to fall asleep when I heard a loud rumble. It sort of sounded like a mini-earthquake. I listened for another minute and didn’t hear anything else, so I assumed I must have drifted off and dreamed it. No less than 90 seconds later there was a quiet knock on the door and Marika came upstairs.
“I think Tom is in the front yard,” she said.
“Seriously?” I asked. She made some sort of affirmative noise and then slinked down a step or two where I couldn’t see her anymore. This is really the kind of shit that could merit more than a quiet, polite knock. I would not have blamed her for screaming, even at that hour.

I poked Curtis and told him to watch the baby, then went downstairs after her. I found Marika about half-way down the stairs, shaking like a leaf. I asked her friend to stay with her and went outside with my cane. I was doing fine in terms of pain and didn’t need it to walk, I just wanted to beat his sorry ass with it if I caught him anywhere near the house.
I waited on the steps for a moment or two, but didn’t hear him anywhere, so I left toward the backyard. The gate was open and swinging, and upon venturing into the back I realized the shed door was also ajar. I spent about two minutes searching for him: hitting bushes and muttering curses before realizing he obviously wasn’t back there. I thought I heard voices coming from the house so I came back toward the front and glimpsed him in my living room through the window. As soon as he saw me he ran out, jumped off the steps and took off across the street.
“Hey!” I yelled. “HEY! You little shit!”
He turned around briefly so I got a good long look at his face under a street light, “You stay the fuck away from me!” he called back.
It’s times like this I really, really wish I had the physical capability to run. I wanted nothing more than to catch up with him and cane his pasty white shit self until he called for his mom, the cowardly little fucker. I have never wanted to commit violence against another human being as much as I have when it comes to men hurting my sister. I just wanted to beat him for even daring to frighten her, let alone breaking down the door and threatening her baby.

I came back into the house and found Marika and friend in the front room by the door.
“Did he get in?” I knew the answer, so I’m not sure why I asked this.
“Look at the door,” she answered, gesturing to the wall.
The first thing I noticed was all the plaster scattered around the floor. It appears he had broken in the front door with such force that he’d torn the moulding off the wall, lock included, and then ran off with it as it was mysteriously gone from the scene of the crime. Friend told me that they’d seen Tom running down the street with a long object, presumably the door frame, presumably trying to hide it somewhere so we would miraculously not notice the damage he’d done in his drunken stupor.
I grabbed my phone and called 911 for police and they were outside within seconds. It was kind of amazing, actually. An officer came in and asked us some questions while they sent a second car after him in the general direction he left in. They found him in less than ten minutes, hiding in a bush, refusing to come out. We were told later that he apparently stayed in his bush for some time, believing that if he did not move from it he would not get arrested. Eventually they sent the dogs after him and they literally dragged him out kicking and screaming.
He’s being charged with criminal harassment, break and enter and I think malicious mischief as well. His court date is sometime next week, but I expect there will be several delays before he finally goes in, as is generally the case.

I didn’t end up getting to sleep until somewhere around 5:30am, and since the incident Marika has been extremely jumpy about any noise in or around the house after dark. He’s a stupid drunk but I don’t think he’s stupid enough to do it twice.

We were sent a document in the mail about the court stuff and one of the stipulations was that he cannot ingest alcohol of any kind or set foot in a beer and wine store, liquor store, bar, club or anything else. Ha, like to seem them enforce that. I bet all he’s done since he got home is drink himself stupid and then rant about how this was somehow all Marika’s fault. Dingus.

My brother has started bringing Sophie over for weekend playdates. I have no idea what has prompted this, or why now, but I’m not complaining. He’s not ever the kind to even… visit. Or call, really. So this is sort of odd behaviour for him. Twice in a row now he’s called up on the weekend (or “texted up”, as the case may be) and then brought Sophie over for a few hours in the afternoon to spend time with the kids. They get along pretty well, other than Sophie and Zephyra who do little more than argue over toys that Sophie taunts Zephyra with. She’s about eight months older than Z so she’s at the prime age for, “Want it? Want it? WELL YOU CAN’T IT’S MINE” thing that two year olds tend to do. Z has no patience for that shit. She’s a child with several older siblings so she can be a little more patient and more importantly very, very sneaky: the second Sophie is distracted she’s into her stash like they’re the last toys on Earth. This generally prompts a, “She bit me!” out of Sophie, which appears to be her insult of the month.
You really want to fuck that shit up? Accuse someone of biting you. In Toddlerspeak, that’s practically first degree murder.

Toddler problems aside, she’s totally glommed onto Tempest. Sophie has an amazing vocabulary at a young age so she’s constantly chatting away, and about 3/4 of what she talks about while here is either directed at, or about, Tempest. Everything is, “My Tempest look at this”, or “My Tempest come and see” or, “My Tempest follow me” or, “My Tempest Zephyra is bothering me!”. She started calling her, “My Tempest” during the last visit and hasn’t stopped since. Brother and I started giggling every time we’d hear another, “HEEEEELLLLLPPPPP my Tempest!” out of her, because it just seemed to happen so often.
After about an hour of this Tempest had finally had enough, and so after the 47th, “HELP MY TEMPEST” out of Sophie, Tempest led her aside, took her by the shoulders and said, “Sophie, you really have to learn how to solve your own problems”.

In spite of this rejection, she continues to idolize Tempest and apparently talks about her every waking moment when she’s not here. Maybe that’s the reason for all the sudden visits.

Brother told me that the play food set I made her for her birthday was a huge hit, so I decided to make her a little Sophie Bear doll for Christmas. This is from the same [ “Owlishly” ] pattern I purchased from her [ Etsy store ] (though the full amount of patterns are on her [ Ravelry page store ] instead)some years ago and made Tempest and Xan bear dolls from. I love all of this woman’s patterns, and have purchased several (snowflake, bear, mermaid, butterfly…) but the baby bear is my absolute favourite.
I’m shit at embroidery so if you ignore my horrible, horrible attempt at hair it still turned out pretty good. Keep in mind that this style is supposed to have a kind of ridiculous looking face, though it turned out a little smaller than anticipated so the eyes are a bit too far apart. At least she’s two, you know, so it’s not that big a deal.

I even managed to do a little flower type thing on her head.

My next project is a pair of fleece-lined mittens and hat for Z, as her hands get fucking freezing every time we go for a walk anywhere and she gets really bent out of shape about that. I’m going for the baby bear pattern from [ Stitch n’ Bitch ], but I may transform it into a cat instead by changing the ears. I’ve been a bit of a crafting fool lately, and I love getting back into it, even if my wrists don’t.

The holidays are approaching ridiculously fast, and I feel completely unprepared for Yule. I mean, we have a number of gifts for the kids either already here or on their way but it feels sort of like someone sucked the air out of the season or something. I don’t know if that’s just me or what. I’m exhausted all the time lately, and really feeling a lot of pain this month; my body wears down really fast, much faster than it usually does, to the point where just walking to pick up Xan from school has me drenched in sweat from the pain and exertion in a way that just… doesn’t usually happen to me. Well, doesn’t ever happen to me.
I walk everywhere, all the time, and while I’m not exactly athletic I’m also not stagnant. For me one of the worst parts of chronic pain and disability is the feeling of total and complete uselessness during bad phases, and I hate it so much that I’ll put my body way past its limits just to prove to myself that I’m not a lump… something I do way more often than I should. As a result of that drive, I end up walking or cleaning or doing some other light physical activity all the goddamn time, so at the very least I’m accustomed to that. Or, at least I usually am. I’ve never been this burnt out from such minor exercise, and it really bothers me. I feel self-conscious and weak and sad and it sucks the spirit right out of me. I find it really difficult to fake my way through the season with crafts, or ornament-making and games when I can barely, you know, stand in place for 20 minutes without breaking a sweat. I feel gross.

I suppose I’m trying to make up for that in terms of dollar amount spent this year. Each of the big kids is receiving one “Big gift” and then a smattering of smaller ones. The big ones are over a hundred dollars a piece, which is huge compared to our normal amount spent on spotlight gifts. Tempest is getting a [ Maplelea girl ] doll, which is like the Canadian version of the American Girl dolls. She knows she’s getting it because she very carefully picked out her favourite this summer. She’s getting the [ “Jenna” ] doll, not only because it’s a redhead like her, but also because she apparently hails from Alberta – which was Tempest’s choice for her provincial report project. If I had time I’d knit her some doll clothes, but I’m struggling to keep up with my craft load now so that will have to wait until after the holidays.
Xan is getting a Mario Kart K’Nex set, which he is absolutely dying for. That was both easy, and difficult to get, because it’s the only thing he’s said he’s wanted and now that I’ve got that I have no idea what else I’m going to fucking get him that I can be sure he’ll actually like.

Tempest is easy: she loves anything that is even remotely girly. Jewelry, make-up, clothes, dolls, stuffed animals… she’s also into books, particularly history or records (Guinness Book of World Records is her latest obsession, and she’s practically memorized half of this year’s book already).
Zephyra’s still practically an infant and barely needs anything other than maybe some dress-up items and doll to muck about with. Babies are always easy: they don’t really need much.
But Xan? Xan is goddamn impossible. He’s decided he hates just about everything he previously enjoyed, and every time I probe him for answers he either talks about video games or says, “I don’t even know”. I’m not sure if he’s being difficult on purpose or if he’s genuinely hitting this transitional stage of his life where he’s outgrowing being young and hasn’t quite grown into his new self yet. The only thing he enjoys with any sort of regularity is watching YouTube playthroughs of video games so that he can know all the tips and tricks. If we’d let him, he’d probably spend 12 hours a day doing that. Oh, and Garfield. He really likes Garfield comic books. We limit his screen time during the day and the house rule is that they have to do chores to earn any time at all, and Xan acts like we’re pulling his heart out through his throat every time we go through the, “You’re only allowed an hour on the computer” conversation.
He’s a hilarious and intelligent kid, he’s just also a bit of drama queen.

In other news, I managed to wrangle Marika into re-watching LOST with me during the daytime when the kids are at school, which gives me the opportunity to craft, which in turn makes me not feel quite as useless as everything else does. It only took two episodes for her to get so hooked on it that she’s waking up early and going to bed late every day in hopes of cramming more episodes in. Excellent.
We sit on the couch during the afternoons with our babies hanging off us, hoping to get them down for naps that only end up happening about 20% of the time, all the while making bad jokes or silly commentary between the tense moments. It sounds boring, but I enjoy the experience for far more than just simply the entertainment value; there’s something really special about being able to sit with her that way. To sit as “one mom and another mom”: like equals, or regular sisters. To sit together in a way that means our relationship has grown from the way it’s been ever since she and I first really ‘came together’ as sisters just before she turned 14. We knew each other in the years before, when she was a kid, and we spent some time together but it wasn’t really a real, honest relationship. Not the way it should have been. Not while Krazy was monitoring her every breath and ensuring I never moved a toe out of line, lest she remove Marika from my life completely. And boy did she ever try. It almost worked out for her up until Marika ran away from home and ended up at our place.

Anyway, the time since she came to live with us (or at least was under our care) has also been the first time we were really able to get to know each other, though our relationship was not really the kind of sister/sister relationship you expect typical siblings to be like. I don’t mean to say these years have been bad – far from it – but the relationship we’ve had has very much resembled me as a surrogate mother to her, and her as the kid that really needs some extra mothering and a lot of help getting through. I’ve enjoyed every moment of that and I wouldn’t take back a single moment for the world, even the very challenging and stressful times, but it always held this really terrifying question underneath it all… and that is that I don’t know what will happen to our relationship when she doesn’t need me that way anymore. If the only time we’ve ever really known each other, has been with me as a surrogate parent, what happens when she no longer needs parenting?
Just before she moved out, I spent a lot of time stressing over this; it culminated into nights spent awake, crying, legitimately afraid that our relationship would fall into this permanent awkward silence where we have no idea how to even have a conversation anymore. Where we can’t figure out how to need each other in a way that doesn’t reflect this mother/daughter arrangement that – while she needed very much for a time – is no longer something she requires to get through her day. I mean, I get that to some extent there will always be a need for a maternal figure in her life, I still need my mom too, and as long as her mother continues to be sick and refuse to even admit she needs help I’m probably going to continue being the person who fills that role… but the need for me to be that person the majority of the time has passed, and I worry that I won’t know how to make it work as “regular” sisters.
Maybe this is a normal “huge age gap between siblings” thing, and other far-spaced siblings go through this too. Maybe my brother went through this with me, as we have a similar age gap as Marika and I. Maybe the only reason I’m worrying about this is because my brother and I never really made it work: not as kids, not as teens, and definitely not as adults. It’s always been awkward with my brother and I fear it always will be. I don’t want that to happen with Marika because I need her in my life, too.
That’s why it’s really cool for me just to do something as stupidly mundane as sitting around watching TV together, while our babies lay on our laps, nursing and making faces at each other from across the couch.

I don’t think it holds the same significance for her – in fact I’m sure it doesn’t – but it’s a huge relief to me that we can even do this.
I realize how ridiculous it sounds, and even as I write it out it sounds really silly that I worried so much about this, and even more silly for my mind to be put at ease by sitting around watching LOST of all things… but, I don’t know, it’s meaningful.

I’ve been wanting to write this down for a while, but haven’t been sure where to put it in. I feel like it’s an important conversation to have had with Tempest, but it hurts to have had it.

One afternoon I had been quietly talking with Marika in the living room about some of her mother’s more recent behaviour. The kids were doing chores; Xan in the bedroom and Tempest just out of earshot tidying up. After I finished talking with Marika and our conversation died down, Tempest approached me and asked, “What’s wrong with Marika’s mother?”
“What do you mean?”
She clarified: “Why is she so mean to her?” I didn’t realize she’d even heard us talking, but I suppose it’s naive to think she doesn’t listen when she can. I know that over these years she’s heard Marika and I crying, or talking about it, even in whispers in the next room. It’s also pretty hard to hide when Krazy is calling our phones non-stop, screaming and hurling insults.

This is a hard conversation, but I feel like she’s old enough now to know at least a portion of what’s going on. If she’s old enough to ask, she deserves some sort of real answer.
First I talked about what mental illness is, and how there are many different kinds of mental illnesses, like depression and anxiety, and how having a mental illness doesn’t make you a “bad” person. I told her that many people in our family had experienced mental illness; like my depression, or Curtis’ anxiety, or her OCD. That most people get through it the same way we did: with therapy or medication or other coping skills that we learned – and we’re not bad people or “crazy” people, we’re just like everyone else. I told her that while those are the most common types of mental illness, there are some other kinds that can be very serious and interfere with your ability to have a normal life. Those kinds of mental illnesses may make you think or see things that aren’t real, do dangerous things, or even say unkind things to other people.

She seemed to understand this distinction, and that the people with these problems aren’t bad, but was also really confused. She asked me why her mom doesn’t just take medicine or go to therapy. “Why doesn’t she just try really hard to get help so she doesn’t do and say hurtful things anymore, and just love Marika instead?”


I told her that sometimes part of the mental illness is not understanding that you’re sick, and that means not thinking you need to get help. I said that we hope her mom can get help one day and understand that the things she does are hurtful, and dangerous, and maybe one day she can be friends with us again and show us her love in safe and healthy ways. But until that day comes we don’t have a lot of contact with her because of the hurtful things she says and does; it’s important to protect our family and keep us safe from harm to our bodies and our hearts, and that includes Marika. If someone is hurting us and we can’t get them to listen to us when we say stop, sometimes that means we have to step away from that person to protect ourselves and the people we love. Even if we love them very much, too… sometimes you have to step away so you stay safe.”
She was quiet for a moment. “I think it would be hard if that was your mom,” she said.

🙁 🙁

“Yes it would. But you’d probably still love her, because she’s your mom… even if she hurt you. But it’s still hard when someone you love hurts you all the time. And that’s why sometimes kids don’t live with their moms and dads and have to live with someone else; if their moms or dads are very sick and can’t, or won’t, get help the kids have to live with someone who is safe. Maybe a grandma or an uncle or a sister… just like how Marika lived with us.”
Tempest seemed to understand. I mean, as much as a 9 year old can. Originally, Marika tried to explain with me, but had a difficult time putting it to words and ended up leaving part way through so I could finish the explanation in my own words. She stayed just around the corner, so she could still hear, but didn’t have to talk.

I hate talking about this with my kids. I try to shield them from Krazy as much as I possibly can, but I realize that’s almost impossible to do when she occupied so much of our life in spite of our best efforts to cut her out of it. I don’t want them to grow up believing that mental illness makes you a horrible, dangerous person as a result of Krazy’s influence… but I also want them to understand that Krazy is not someone they should try and engage with. There’s this line between fear and sympathy that I want to try and walk and that seems really, really hard to find when you’re trying to explain a complicated situation to kids who seem like they’re too young to even be aware of what’s going on. I wonder if there’s ever an age where I’d feel like they wouldn’t be too young and vulnerable for this shit.
I wish I knew the perfect words to say that would make it all make sense in a way that had no lasting negative effects, but I know thats not going to happen because that kind of easy answer doesn’t exist. Life’s real challenges can never be introduced and solved in a single episode of your favourite TV show; so why should I ever entertain the delusion that they can be explained in a single paragraph? Things like this should never have to come up.



1 Comment

  • Holly says:

    “You really want to fuck that shit up? Accuse someone of biting you. In Toddlerspeak, that’s practically first degree murder.”

    Word! This is hilariously true.

    “If someone is hurting us and we can’t get them to listen to us when we say stop, sometimes that means we have to step away from that person to protect ourselves and the people we love. Even if we love them very much, too… sometimes you have to step away so you stay safe.”

    I’ve never seen this kind of situation put into words so eloquently. This is the perfect way to explain this, as our family has gone through our fair share of Kraziness with one entire side of the family. I’m so sad to know that someday I’m going to have to explain to my children why we don’t have anything to do with my husband’s parents and most of his family. I’m going to remember how you explained it, because it couldn’t be more perfect. Also, Tempest is just such a sweet, smart, little lady.

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