Monthly Archives: November 2010


This is why my dad tackled me when I was pregnant

He didn’t know I was pregnant.  There it is.  My parents worry far too much.  Rob left for boot camp in November, 1983.  He belonged to the US Army.  I had left school and had no income. Rob came home for Christmas, we were 3 hours late for his mom’s New Year’s day party and hello Shannon who was born exactly 9 months after New Year’s day.

Back to my parents worry too much.  Rob had pretty much gone straight from college graduation to boot camp for ROTC, so no job.  I had recently quit school and wasn’t currently working.  Why tell my parents that I’m pregnant when neither of us had a job and we didn’t have a plan?

I don’t really remember when we gave up the apartment in Bemidji but Rob and I knew our best chances, for me a job, for him a career, was in the Twin Cities area so I moved into my parents house and got a job at a bank in March of that year.  Knew that most insurances don’t cover pre-existing conditions so hadn’t been to see an OBGYN before I landed the job and of course, didn’t happen to mention it during interviews…I know, imagine that.  I think it was an entire month after getting the job before I went to an OBGYN and then feigned surprise to my co-workers when I announced that apparently I was  pregnant.

Bob will normally guard a secret with his life.  Backing up to February of that year, we had driven down to Rochester because he had a job interview.  I had odd suspicions but didn’t think that I’d acted any differently.  We were at some pub when I finally decided that I had to tell someone that I thought I was pregnant.  My exact to words to Bob were “I’m going to tell you something and I don’t want you to tell anyone else”.  His exact words to me were ” you’re pregnant, it’s a girl, you should name her Shannon”.   Okay…1, that was weird and 2, no one knew I was pregnant except Rob and a girl I’d made a trip to Fort Leonard Wood  with and 3, that is exactly how Shannon got her name.

So Bob knew, Rob knew and the girl I’d gone to Fort Leonard Wood with and I hadn’t wanted to tell anyone else until I had gotten a job or, worst scenario,  Rob came back and had landed a job.  How long would that take?  Hard to hide things for very long. No need to worry parents about insurance and unemployment issues.  Sometime in March though, I did tell Bern and absolutely swore her to secrecy.  I could almost swear that it was the next night or so that we were all sitting down to dinner, my dad, my mom, Bernadette and Joe.  I don’t think Bob was there.  So anyway we must have been having burgers for dinner and my dad asked me  to get him some cheese.  Okay,  went to the fridge, grabbed a Kraft’s single, opened it and walked back to my dad who was sitting down facing the other way.  I was behind  my dad, looking down at the top of his head with the single piece of  cheese in my hand.  It  just occurred to me at that moment that this particular slice of cheese belonged on the bald spot on his head.  So of course that IS where the cheese went. I slapped it on his bald spot.   As much as it made sense to me, apparently it caught my dad off guard.  I know, what’s up with that?  He asked for cheese, he got it, what’s the issue?  I may have been able to plead my case  (that it was exactly where it belonged) if it hadn’t been for my mom, Joe and Bernadette who all first looked with amazement and then all laughed.  My dad loves to laugh but I’m not so sure that he appreciates being the one who is laughed at.  Yep, second thought, he does NOT like to be the one laughed at.

So there is it.  Familiar family dinner scene on any random night…well except youngest daughter has slapped a slice of cheese on her father’s bald spot.  That second part may not happen in a lot of suburban homes.  Well if it does nobody’s sharing this info.  Anyway, my dad who (I repeat myself) was 1st a tad surprised that I’ve presented him his slice of cheese on his bald spot and second noticed he was being laughed at decided he needed to do something to remedy both of these situations.

I think he asked me a question, probably asked why I had done that.  I assured him that that was where the cheese belonged.  He did take a moment to ponder my answer and then he took in the laughter of the others in the room.  Pretty sure my answer made no sense to him and that he didn’t appreciate the laughter.

Twice in my life I’ve angered my dad.  Both times I was a teen and both times I had dissed my mom.  Right, especially the time I informed him that she wasn’t my mom, she was just his wife.  Word to the wise, if your dad adores your mom…do not dis her to your dad.  So the oncoming events of that particular evening were not out of anger.  I don’t know anyone who loves fun more than me except my dad. Eh, and maybe Bob.

My dad oh-so-slowly, arose from his chair.  Really, it was VERY slow. Had I wanted, I could have been out the door and returned after he went to bed.  Nope, I stood there and watched this oh-so-slow rise from the chair.  He faced me and I again told him that that was where the cheese was supposed to go “there was just that spot and it need to be covered”.   Nah, he didn’t see it that way.  I believe he told me that I was going to eat that cheese.

I don’t like cheese, never have.  I’m the only one I know who doesn’t eat pizza.  I would never voluntarily eat cheese.  In a moment I was on the floor.  My arms were pinned to the floor and my dad was sitting on my stomach. Kind of like I used to do to Joe when I’d let my dog lick his face.  Actually my dad and I were having fun, I don’t believe we’d wrestled since I was six and I found out that professional wrestling was fake.  He and I both knew there was going to be no cheese eating there and then and of course there wasn’t.  Just threats and close encounters.   Gotta tell ya though, the most fun was looking behind my dad and seeing my sister, Bernadette, going into convulsions while my dad was sitting on my stomach.  She had sworn secrecy and there was my dad who may have been 225, 250 at the time sitting on my stomach and I was pregnant.

A month or so later I finally told my parents that I was pregnant, after I knew that insurance would cover everything and that I wouldn’t have to be an Army wife just to cover the cost.  My mom was thrilled and my dad’s eyebrows rose quite a bit once they found out how far along I was.  He does math.  After assuring him that that night had no impact on expected baby, he was thrilled as well.  Many stories of my dad calling me every day at work in the last two or three weeks of my pregnancy on the pretense of offering up baby names (like Prairie Chicken) but really to see if I was at work or not, not being that I’d be in hospital giving birth.  Again, another story.  I’d already told my parents that I wasn’t going to call when I went to the hospital, not till after the baby was born.  He was checkin’.

We listened to Bob and named our daughter Shannon instead of my dad’s idea of Prairie Chicken.  Shannon was born with no repercussions of my dad sitting on my stomach when I was 3 months pregnant with her and I get to hold dear the memory of Bernadette going into convulsions.   Life is good.


Random thoughts 1

Both of my sisters and I have each been married and divorced.  When we married we took our husband’s last names.  When we divorced we each legally changed our names back to our real names.  Claudette and I have  married again (although she didn’t marry her 1st husband again. Fine, make me the weirdo) and have both chosen to retain our birth names.  She once listed as her status “I wonder if I should list my name as Claudette Austin Austin so that anyone who only knew me by my maiden name would know who I am”.  Something like that, it made me laugh.  I still like it.

After we’d been married for a year and a day or so Rob went off to boot camp for ROTC.  After he left I dropped out of college for the trimester (right, haven’t earned credits since) and brother bear was out of a job.  Brother bear and I spent a lot of time hanging out during the time Rob was gone.   I had nothing going on and he was looking for a job.  I spent more time during that period at my parent’s house in AV than in my apartment in Bemidji.  Robert/Bob/brother bear would say “hey, I have an interview in Fargo, let’s go”.  Okay, I’m in.  At the time Bob had a joke that he’d tell, it was a 2 parter.  The punchline of each part was the answer to the the other part.  I thought it was great.  He would tell the 1st part of the joke with the punchline matching the 2nd part, which his audience of course hadn’t heard yet and me, I would laugh myself silly.  That was my job in the game.  The 1st part with the punchline for the 2nd part made absolutely no sense.  This is where people divide into groups.  I would laugh myself silly just to see who would follow my lead and pretend to get it.  Seventy percent at least.  Twenty-five percent would admit that they didn’t get it…that’s where I’d ask “are you kidding?”  then we’d go on to another subject.  The irritating people were the ones who would pursue the subject and want an explanation on why that was funny…whatever, have another beer. Where ever he had an interview, Des Moines, Fargo, Rochester, on and on we’d go to and he’d tell this joke.  I know, I know, I know…it’s not nice to set people up.  Back to WE ARE MY FATHER’S CHILDREN! So anyway, at each of these places Bob would wait around a half  hour or so and then he’d tell the second part which made everything fall into place and make sense.  Zing, busted~for those who had laughed with me the 1st time.  That was where I’d click on my halo light and smile innocently.  To tell you the truth it was more fun watching the light bulb turn on over the heads of those who had admitted not getting the 1st time than to see the embarrassment on the faces of those who laughed with me previously.

This came up today, I once dated a guy named Jeff Maki.  Okay, I told everyone this but especially this guy (box-of-rocks boy from previous stories) that I would never marry him.  Com’on, do the math.  Hello?  What would my name have been had I taken his last name?   I hate it if I have to explain.

When I was a teenager I went w/my gf, Kari, to see the movie Night Of The Living Dead.  It was outdated even then but still only played in theaters.  We had to go downtown to see it.  Growing up together Kari was the one who was scared of things and cried at movies.  I was fearless and never cried at movies.  So yeah, this whole menopause crap sucks.  We got to the theater, found seats, sat down and Kari went to the bathroom or for a soda or something and I turned around and talked to the guys behind me and totally set up my gf.  I asked them if they would, during a scary part of the movie reach forward and grab Kari.  I know, I am evil.  Kari came back, the movie started, I got sucked in and at a very intense part of the movie…the guys behind me reached forward and grabbed ME!  Oh heck yeah, ten feet in the air.  Thinking they must have been related to my dad as well.

Which reminds me of going to a matinee once in my 30’s while the kids were at school.  Went to see The First Wives Club w/a couple girlfriends. During the movie one of them got up to go to the bathroom.  The other one leaned over to me and whispered “let’s move”.  I have to ask myself this, why the hell did I never think of that when I was a teenager?   OMG, so much fun to be had!  It would have been more fun at a drive-in theater.  Missed opportunities, heavy sigh. At some point I had apparently mentioned to Rob, previous to seeing that flick that I was going to see it.  Rob was quiet for a moment…and then said “well….just don’t get any ideas”.  I know, a) he was never funny and b) he wasn’t being funny on purpose.

Back to the set up joke thing, I’ve been set up before.  Way back at the 1st restaurant that I worked in, one of the cooks told me that our new assistant manager’s sister was skating in the Olympics and that he was very proud of that fact and I should ask him about it.  Okay, didn’t know this guy from Adam but let’s get to know each other, there’s an icebreaker.  I asked.  His response was to look me directly in the eye and deadpan face, inform me that that was not funny…his sister has no legs.  There ya go.

One of the years that I was in Bemidji for winter but came home for Christmas I was shopping w/my baby brother, Joe.  If not a pre-teen he had to have a least been a mini-teen.  He is my only younger sib.  It can sometimes really, really suck to be the younger sibling. I have several stories of being the younger sib so this is 1st hand info. I never chased Joe around the house with a butcher knife, thanks for that one Bernadette, I never slammed him in a door, thanks for that one Claudette and I never slapped him across the face when he borrowed my bike and someone slashed the tires…and thank you for that one Bob.  Seriously, I used to lock myself in the upstairs bathroom and jump out the window to escape whoever was chasing me.  Joe never had to do that.  However,  I used to tickle him relentlessly when he was very small and when he got a bit bigger I’d pin him to the floor and let my dog lick his face FOREVER.  Buff liked it.  Joe didn’t.  He always told me that someday he’d be bigger than I was…that did happen but when it did I was pregnant w/Shan and my dad was the only one who wrestled me to the ground.  Another story.  So anyway, Joe and I went to Target and walked out and he found a dollar in the snow.  Fabulous find for a kid that age, especially because a dollar was worth so much more then.  Joe looked at me and said “wait here, I’ll be right back”.   He ran into the store and I waited and watched it snow.  I get it, I”m sure there was something he was dying to get.  Joe came back a few minutes later and in an out of breath manner he told me “here, I got this for you”.   He presented me with a pin in the shape of a telephone that had my birthstone in it.  What’s not to love there?

Yep, all very random.

Line from a movie…not exact but something in the manner of “sometimes I see things that remind me of something I’ve read in a book, when shouldn’t it be the other way around?”   I feel like I used to be the something that was seen and now I’m the someone seeing.  Time for a life I guess.


Holy crap, 28 years is a long time 4

but it went by so very quickly.  Sheesh!  Come Friday it’ll be 28 years since Rob and I got married the 1st time.  Wow, I’m aware of all that’s happened between then and now but still…who hit the fast-forward button on my life?  The best thing we’ve ever done was to get married that 1st time.  Look at what we got out of that marriage, Shannon, Alex and Samantha. Nothing more worthwhile in my life than those 3.  They are each, and in different ways entirely amazing to me.  They each have strengths that I don’t possess, I admire each one of them and would like to be like all of them when I grow up.   That and I do feel like I’ve given birth to the funniest people that have ever lived.  That one, I credit my dad for.  Although he can be more corny than funny at times.

The 2nd best thing Rob & I have ever done was to get divorced.  The children may or may not have preferred that we hadn’t done that, you’d have to ask them that.  Rob and I made a great co-parent team, well except when he dated bimbos.  That happened sometimes. I believe that we were the only divorced parents that the kids couldn’t play off each other.  We communicated.   Shannon actually complained about that once.  Other kids with divorced parents could get what they wanted.  Um, no.  Didn’t happen to our kids. We were a team when it came to parenting.  Tiffs now and then but ya gotta back the other parent.  Whatever animosities that may incur between parents, get the ef over it.  I never kept the kids from him, why would I?  Mom’s need time alone to breathe.  To his credit he was one of the few ex-husbands that understood that child support went to the children not the evil ex-wife.  Kudos to him for that.  Although he wasn’t always employed in the 90’s and that stung a bit.

When Rob was employed he would also cover the extras.  Shannon’s volleyball expenses , Alex’ Boy Scouts dues, etc.  You get it.  I have never met another single dad that has done that. That and he coached their teams.  I never did that.  Okay, rambling here..back to subject.  Yes, the 1st and 2nd best things Rob and I have ever done were to get married and then divorced.  Then ya add the whole getting married again thing and that’s pretty much where it enters a little bit of the bizarre.  I’m aware of that.  Trust me, I never saw it coming.  Hahaha, okay this makes me laugh.  When I started dating him the first time out I wouldn’t let him tell anyone…did the 2nd time too.  So okay, sometimes…just sometimes, history repeats itself.   Really though, you cannot date your children’s other parent!  I am a firm believer in that.  So right, if you do…don’t tell the  children.  Some secrets can’t be kept though…at some point ya gotta fess up or get found out.  Neither is a pretty picture. It’s a pretty embarrassing experience. Right, that and the whole having to tell your own parents thing.  Ew.

Thirteen years. Who gets remarried after 13 years?  God bless my gf, Annie, who told me that it simply was not the same as if getting remarried w/in 5 years of being divorced.  That, she told me, is a security thing.  That did make me feel better.  I love Rob but it is embarrassing marring one’s ex.  He’s better than I am at that kind of stuff.  So the 3rd best thing Rob and I have done was not getting married again, really, that wasn’t the 3rd best thing.  Fourth at best.

The 3rd best was growing up a tad during all those years we weren’t married.  I know, not like we’re grown ups now, we’re not.  Okay, I’m not.  I’ll let Rob answer for himself on that one.  We gained experience.  That’s huge.  I was 43 and Rob was 44 when we got married again.  Thirty to 43 as  a single parent who was for the 1st time in my life experiencing life on my own instead of with a dad or husband looking after me.  Scary as hell for this little suburbanite girl but was exactly what I needed to find out that I could stand on my own two feet as an individual and a mom.  I needed that as much as I need air.

So there we go.  Probably the next best thing after the experiencing life as an individual was maybe marrying Rob again.  I like that.  Still, 28 effing years?  Holy crap!  I look older, physically feel older but don’t think or act older.  That could be a good or bad thing, don’t know/don’t care.  Kinda wonder where the rewind button is though.