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haters gonna hate July 23, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 9:11 am

As I look back on my life, there’s no one that stands out as a person I hate. I’d like to think the same about myself–that no one I’ve ever met hates me–but I’m sure I’m wrong about that. I’m sure I’ve had students who have hated me, old boyfriends, and people I’ve met in passing.

But no one stands out in my life that i hate. I certainly have disliked many people, but that’s a far cry from hating.

I think this comes from my grandma. Ever since I can remember, she told all of us to never use the word hate, stating, “it’s too powerful of a word.” I think I could have said “fuck” and she would have been less disappointed in me than if I said “hate.” Which I still did. I did say “I hate…(so and so)” and she would catch me right away and say, “Never say that word.” Even if I would say “I hate the liver you just served me,” which I believe is an acceptable use of the word, she would reprimand me. 

The lesson stuck with me and now I repeat it to my kids and friends all the time (though I do allow for the use of it with inanimate objects–like liver. I still really hate liver.). 

This is all to say that I’ve come really close to hating my ex, Luke’s father. And I’m pretty positive he hates me.

Luke’s father is a good dad and I really try to stay out of his business, his life, and his parenting. But I don’t think there’s anyone in the world that can get under my skin faster than him. I used to spend so much energy on this until my wonderful therapist taught me how to let go of my anger and constant worrying. It wasn’t easy, but once I realized that I was giving Luke’s dad exactly what he wanted–my anger and constant attention–it was easier to just take some deep breaths and move on.

For the most part this has worked brilliantly.

Until last week. Luke’s dad and I have been arguing for a few months about summer. He and his wife both work and so they decided to put Luke in a summer day camp from 12:30-5 for the cost of about $800. First they wanted me to pay half, and I outright refused because I have summers off and since I’m home I can take care  of Luke, which I consistently offered to do, but they didn’t take me up on my offer. Then they tried to get me to switch our time frame to a week on/week off schedule for the summer only, which I also refused, believing it was too much time away from each parent. At the same time, I had signed Luke up for swimming lessons, which began at 10:45 and ended at 11:15, so I told Luke’s dad  (now referred to as LD) that on his days, he could take Luke to swim lessons and on my days I could.

That’s where the problem started. Because then LD had to admit to me that he had signed Luke up for camp that went from 8:30-5 p.m. I was upset about this schedule and so I said, I’d take Luke to swim and then drop him off at camp, meaning he would only be at camp from about 12-5, which seemed more reasonable to me than the longer day..

 So summer started and Luke went to swim and then camp. And it was a disaster. He hated the field trips. He knew I was not working for the summer and questioned why he couldn’t just stay with me. It all came to a crashing halt on the first week’s Friday when I dropped him off at camp–he was crying–and told the camp director that if he kept crying (since she had informed me that he cried everyday/all day since camp had started), I would pick him up. She went to the directory to make sure she had my number where we both discovered that not only was my phone number not listed, but I was no where on the form. Instead his step-mom was listed as “mother.” I gave the woman my phone number and left pretty pissed off, having to actually explain to someone that I was Luke’s mother. Within a half hour I received the phone call to get Luke: he was crying so hard he started hyperventilating.

So Maddie and I picked him up and took him home and he calmed down. That’s when i called LD to inform him that I had Luke and he could pick him up at any time from my house. The conversation started off fine (I was polite, I promise), but the escalated to a full, throw-down argument.

I don’t know what was said exactly, but I do remember refuting LD’s arguments at first by pointing out the lack of logic and numerous logical fallacies he was using. Not smart. I teach this and know when someone is using fallacies or wrong logic, but it doesn’t always play out in the real world. But while I know this,my first instinct is to say stuff like, “So then, LD, the premise of your argument is that Luke needs to be in summer camp for socialization reasons. Well then the warrant there is that all the millions of kids not in summer camp are not socialized.” or saying things like, “That’s  false analogy/non-sequitur/red herring/etc, so can you please explain your claim in a more logical fashion, without the use of logical fallacies.”

Anyways, the argument quickly got emotional with LD’s saying that I just want Luke all to myself so that he’ll hate his father and me saying things like “you’re a fucking liar.” 

It actually just got worse, if you can believe it. By the time we had hung up on each other, I was full on crying and LD was on his way to immediately get his son.

Which is how we ended up in mediation with the same wonderful woman who has worked with us since Luke was in my tummy.

Mediation started out fine. LD and his wife had already reconfigured Luke’s camp schedule so that he was in a new camp, 9-12, 3 days a week with no field trips. Which made both parties happy. We also decided to change our schedule once school starts to a 6-1 schedule–again this was mutual–and I felt this would be a short mediation.

Until the mediator said, “Anything else you’d like to discuss?” to which LD’s wife pulled out a list. A list I like to call, “Things that are wrong with Courtney.”

#1 on the list: Luke sleeping with me. We spent 45 minutes talking about this. I have co-slept with both my kids–Maddie slept with me until she was 9 and then moved into her own bed, no problems. I couldn’t get Maddie to sleep with me if I paid her these days. And Luke refuses to sleep in his own bed, which is fine with me. So I explained my rational and how this is how much of the world does it–not just underdeveloped worlds as LD pointed out–but most of Europe. Don’t believe me–look it up.  But according to LD and his wife, this is the biggest problem in Luke’s life and the cause of all his anxiety. LD took it the point (slippery slope though I didn’t say it) of saying, “So what then? Luke will sleep wit you until he leaves for college? Oh wait, he won’t go to college because he won’t be able to sleep without you.”

The poor mediator tried to get us to compromise, but I refused to budge. I don’t know what this says about me, but I honestly see no harm in Luke sleeping with me, nor do I believe this one thing is the root of all his problems (an oversimplification though again, I didn’t say this). 

#2 on the list: LD and his wife do not approve of my lifestyle of having roommates. This went on for awhile, but my basic answer to this was, “Until you can finance me being able to afford to rent a house that meets your standards then I’m stuck with roommates who help pay the bills, and until you can prove that I’ve put Luke (and Maddie for that matter) in an unhealthy and dangerous environment, I see no reasonable argument to change my living situation.” To boot, LD and his wife were even upset that I have a Spanish exchange student (16 year old girl) living in my house for two weeks–a program we did through Maddie’s school.

I think the root of their anger about this came down to when LD said that Luke gets upset when LD calls my roommates “roommates.” I guess Luke stomps his feet and says, “They’re not roommates; they’re family.”

To which I just said, “It takes a village.”

 There was more on the list that were smaller things–really not that important in the bigger picture of life.But this mediation session reminded me that haters are gonna hate no matter what. There’s not much I can change about that.

But I can add a graphic to all those who hate me because while I truly don’t hate them, I am tired of feeling the need to defend myself to those who have no idea how my life works, and to how beautiful of a life I’ve managed to achieve.

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tidbits July 21, 2014

Filed under: family fun — courtsbrogno @ 11:00 am

So it’s the middle of summer, and I figure it’s time to catch up on the things that happened from January-June. This is purely self-serving as I write these type of blog posts so I can remember what my life was like when I get old and forget my own name. I anticipate that one day I’ll turn this blog into a printed book for myself; thus I can gaze back on my entries and think I was much cooler than I actually am.

It’s going to be a boring post. You should probably stop reading now.

Tidbits:

My sister had a new baby, Ben. He is so freaking adorable that for a few days I seriously considered having another baby (with who? I have no idea. If only David Sedaris or Ira Glass would have me!). But then I woke the fuck up and realized that I’m on the precipice of having my life back. Maddie will be in college in 3 years, Luke is with me 50% of the time already, and I will be able to do all sorts of things…maybe I can travel or stay in bed all day or travel…yeah, what I really want to do is travel. And without a baby. But Ben is adorable, so I’ll take pleasure in just holding him from time to time.

 

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Easter came and we went to my parent’s house for dinner and an Easter egg hunt with my sister and her family. I think Easter is my least favorite holiday, but the kids seem to like it, even though I refuse to buy them candy or baskets. I’m such a mean mom. It’s a good thing my Aunt Judy send baskets for the kids or they’d really hate me.

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I went to the STRFKR show, which was amazing. One of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time.

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Saw Matt Pond play in Los Angeles:

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Decided on the type of house I’d like to eventually live in and the road that will get me there. I’m realizing these dreams of mine seem to include places where no one can bother me:

 

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Celebrated Mother’s Day with these two devious kids:

 

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Went to Luke’s school for family craft day:

 

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Drove Maddie and her friends down to Disneyland:

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And then sat in loads of traffic. When Maddie tries to pull some horrible-mom shit on me, I’ll remember to point out this trip:

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Started Luke in swim lessons. At first he hated it. Five minutes later, he loved it:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Took the kids on some hikes:

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Luke made it up Cerro San Luis all by himself for the first time, which is a huge deal!

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Let Maddie go with some friends to a concert at a local venue with her friends. As in: without me. I was a bit sad, but then she told me how she made her way to the front of the crowd, and I glowed with pride. I have taught her well:

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My dear friend Steve got married to the most lovely lady ever! Maddie came as my date and we are so happy for him.

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Saw my wonderful colleague and friend Lisa read her poetry while being accompanied by a polished banjo player:

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And finally discovered my true passion in life:

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this kid is amazing. July 14, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 11:16 am

Luke is amazing. He is so utterly unique and unaware of social norms that most people can’t help but love him. Except maybe his teachers who have a hard time with how curious, excitable, and energetic he is. And there are others as well. Luke can be loud and he has his head in the clouds most of the time, and I have so many friends and family who have asked me if he’s been tested for autism, or have encouraged me to be stricter with him–to punish him more often, or who have pointed out that I might have a blind spot when it comes to him because I’m his mother.

Those people may be right, especially about me being his mother, and as his mother, I know him better than anyone. And I know that Luke is fine just the way he is. I accept him. I encourage him. I will not put him in a box. 

That’s the thing about Luke: I have no idea what he’s going to be when he grows up (not even an inkling!), how he will be socially, what sports he’ll like (if any), what kind of friends he might have. He is a complete mystery to me and to most people who meet him. He defies any box.

Maddie was much more predictable. By 6 years old, I kind of had her personality figured out and she’s stayed pretty consistent to who she is now, at 15, to who she was then, at 6. When Luke was a bit younger, I spent a lot of time worrying about him and trying to figure him out, and it’s not that i don’t worry about him now, but I’ve stopped trying to figure him out.

Because Luke just is. He’s always in the present, has a touch of anxiety to him, and is so incredibly lovable that sometimes I forget he’s 6 and think of him still as a baby.

Luke spends half of his time at his dad’s and I’m not sure how things work over there, but I know in my house we celebrate Luke every damn day. He brings us light, and joy, and love.

That’s one thing he’s consistent about. 

     

Luke’s 6th birthday bowling party:

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Luke’s birthday dinner choice–make your own pizzas:

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Luke’s birthday gift–a trampoline:

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Luke’s birthday cake:

 

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Luke getting silly with Kirby:

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Luke sleeping like most men I know:

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Playing in 100 degree weather:

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Luke getting the chance to help drive the train with my dad:

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Luke’s ant farm that I think we all enjoyed more than him:

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Luke cut his own hair at school:

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Family craft day at school (with that terrible haircut!):  

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Luke lost his first tooth:

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Luke at the beach wearing Maddie’s old hat—his favorite.

 

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Luke’s new obsession with wearing Maddie’s clothes:

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It’s funny how many people have a problem with the way Luke acts and dresses sometimes. But he doesn’t care at all. And I don’t either.

 

I say, Jump Luke. Fly farther than you think you can go. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

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My daughter, my hero July 13, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — courtsbrogno @ 10:48 am

It’s time to take a step back and celebrate my beautiful daughter, Maddie and her 15th turn around the sun (which happened in March. I’m well aware of how late I’m getting with posts).

I’m not going to lie: raising a teenage daughter is hard. Really hard. Trying to navigate Maddie’s emotions (and my own) and wants as she grows into a woman is difficult. I have yelled at her, been frustrated to the point of tears, have taken her phone away as punishment. But through all of this, I know one thing to be true.

No matter what she does, I’ll always love her. Unconditionally (unless she becomes a republican).

I also know (so I guess I know 2 things for sure) that the majority of my fears come from my own mishaps as a teenager. I worry because I DON’T WANT HER TO MAKE THE SAME MISTAKES I DID. The good news is she’s not very much like me–she’s so much lovelier. She has so much confidence. She navigates social situations with an ease I couldn’t imagine at her age.

But there are still things to worry about. Some are the same as when I was growing up: drugs, alcohol, boys, accidents. And some are new: social media.

This is not easy. I want to read all her text messages and respond to the inappropriate ones on her behalf. I want to find the right boyfriend for her. I want to make sure she doesn’t have sex until she’s in a committed relationship with a boy I like and trust. I want to schedule her homework time. Hell, I want to do her homework. I want to pick the college she goes to. I want to find her the job that will teach her the most.

I want to do all these things. But I won’t. And that’s because Maddie–for the most part–has made being her mom easy. And so the real learning has to come from myself–I have to let her fall on her own, make her own mistakes, and foster a relationship that allows her to be comfortable to come to me when she needs help.

I don’t know if I’m doing a good job. Or if I’m even “good enough” (as my fiend Sally will say). But I do know that I’m trying to let go of the reins and let Maddie be her own person.

When it comes down to it,really, Maddie’s my best-friend (even if I’m not hers), and I rely on her more than anyone else in the world. Not just for help around the house either. But to learn from and grow from. She’s my hero. We’ve been in this life together from the onset, and she has taught me much more than I think I’ve taught her.

Another trip around the sun. Another year she grows older. Another year of learning for me. Happy birthday to my hero.

Here are some pictures of Maddie from before her birthday to her birthday:

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My girl wears Chucks to dances. I can’t tell you how proud I am of that.

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I am so jealous of her athletic abilities.

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She’s always there for her brother, even if that means they’re fighting. But this time, they had a dance party, which turned into a hug party.

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I’d bet that even Kirby would say that Maddie’s his hero.

Her birthday party at the same Japanese restaurant we’ve been going to her whole life.:

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Luke and Cate celebrating Maddie.

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the staff singing her birthday song! 

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Proof that she’s the favorite grandchild. This made her day,

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Isn’t she lovely?

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Breakfast before school on her actual birthday.

A small party with her friends at our house to celebrate some more:

 

 

 

 

 

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And just one more photo to show that the thing we might all love best about Maddie is how goofy and weird she can be!

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