Suburban Butch Dad Report, 5/24/2010

The weather is ridiculous lately, and completely typical for this part of the country.  There’s a saying around here that if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes and it’ll change.  Lately, that has been accurate.  The other day, after hours of weather switching from rain to hail to wind and rain to sunny to windy and back again, it was time for me to get on my bike and ride home.  As I was loading my bike, I looked to the southwest, where our weather typically comes from.  A huge, seriously black cloud was looming over the horizon and even though the sun was shining on me that moment, I knew it would be short lived.  Sure enough, the wind started picking up as I stuffing my rain pants and jacked into my pannier.  I felt the threat in the cooler moister air, the cloud mass taunted me “You can’t get home before I dump on you…”

I accepted the challenge with a goofy grin and the promise of a warm dry towel once I got home.

About halfway home, the lead edges of the cloud bank caught me, but only delivered the faintest trace of moisture.  I’m sure I had a somewhat insane expression on my face as I pushed myself up the hill, ignoring the burning sensation in my thighs and lungs.  The final four miles I could feel clouds hanging over me, but that just spurred me on.  I made it home dry except for the sweat pouring off my body.

That night I worked later than usual, if I’d ridden home at my regular time, I’d have been hailed on.

bonding over music with ElderSpawn

I surprised and thrilled my ElderSpawn this weekend when I brought home Micheal Jackson’s Off the Wall and The Essential Michael Jackson.  She’s been asking for Michael Jackson music for her Shuffle and one night we searched through our vinyl trying to find the copy of Off the Wall I bought while in high school (we haven’t found it yet, must be misfiled).  The other day she asked again if we had any MJ on cd so she could listen to it on the boombox in the family room.

I found it while shopping at Target.  Not only did I want to introduce her to that particular album, which I’ve always loved as my favorite MJ album, I wanted it on my iPod as well.  When I told her that I’d bought the CDs, she went into paroxysms of glee.  Once again, I am the Best Parent Ever.

what’s up with Little Bit?

Little Bit is up and around, movin’ and groovin’, shakin’ and bakin’.  I call her our ‘little homewrecker’ in jest, but there are times when she seems hell bent on tearing it up.  She rattles on the baby gates, clearly testing their ability to hold her back.  She pushes chairs around the dining room, hooting and calling out excitedly when they crash into the table or each other.  She pushes anything she can to see if it will move, or rattle, or make some kind of noise.  And if she can make noise, she does it with enthusiasm.  She’s quite entertaining at this stage, but if she’s testing limits this vigorously at 10 months, well.. we’ve got our work cut out for us.

I love the relationship ElderSpawn and Little Bit have.  ES is up before we are on weekends and will cheerfully retrieve her sister from our bed, going into the living room to play with her so we can sleep in.  That is priceless and we especially noticed it when ES was at my parent’s house for an overnight a few weekends ago.  We hosted ElderSpawn’s soccer team party last weekend and I’m telling you, the mutual fascination between the 4th grade girls and Little Bit was awesome to behold.  They gathered in a circle around her, and then she began making the rounds on their laps.  LB always watches her big sister very closely, clearly taking mental notes on how to be a big girl.  She was in big girl heaven on Saturday, watching them as they talked to each other, interacted and goofed off.

poly is hard

I know, you’re thinking, “Ok, Captain Obvious, we’ve heard this before” and you’re right, you’ve heard it before and you’re gonna hear it again.  Poly is hard and adding long distance on top of it makes it almost too hard sometimes.   Being so far away from Roxy, physically, means I can’t do the simple things to help her through hard days.  I can’t hold her while she cries, I can’t kiss her and let her feel my strength.  Yes, it’s hard to be apart from each other sexually, but I think it’s far more painful to be this far away when she’s hurting emotionally.  My instinct is always to fix it, to offer solutions, to try to downplay the bad in favor of the good.  These are not great responses when I can’t materially make anything better or pitch in to solve the problems, or even hold her and let her know it’s going to be OK.  Believe me, I’ve pushed the limits on sending hugs, kisses, love and support via text and voice, but sometimes it’s not enough.

One of the big changes I’m trying to make is to hold off on instinctual responses to her being in crises.  Instead of proposing solutions, I need to listen.  She needs to be validated, heard, supported.  I also sometimes get into a defensive posture, trying to explain something I did that hurt her feelings or was taken in a way I didn’t intend.  That’s not helpful in the moment either.  That kind of explanation can wait.  I have a sticky note on my desk that says “Don’t Panic, Just Listen” and I’m still working on internalizing that philosophy.  Panic leads to defensiveness, justification, dramatic rescue attempts, it doesn’t help me be a better more supportive partner.

In my relationship with Roxy and Mrs. Kyle, I’m still learning to not panic, to stop and listen. The need to rescue, to fix the problem, to make the bad stuff go away quickly and without being asked was trained into me starting in childhood.  My mom can get pretty dramatic and was very passive-aggressive and narcissistic.  If she sighed in a certain way, it was a signal that we kids needed to respond to instantly.  Mrs. Kyle has tried, over the years, to train that out of me, insisting that sometimes she just needs to blow off steam and that I’m not expected to act until she explicitly asks.  Unfortunately, now that we’re in BabyLand, the Land of Sleep Deprivation, I’ve had to switch back to anticipating needs and meeting them before she asks.  Sometimes she’s just too tired or hormonally scrambled to remember to ask.

Reading back through this, I’m not sure it all makes sense, but I’m sleep deprived too and there is a danger I’ll just blather on and on without a point sometimes.  One point is that poly is hard, long distance poly is really hard and anything you try to do while sleep deprived is the hardest of all.  Even if it’s just wrapping up a blog post.

Take care, y’all…


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