When Callie and I decided to become parents, we went back and forth about how many children each of us wanted. I was easily talked off the “19 Kids and Counting” ledge, and I tried my best to help Callie creep a little closer to the “Maybe Brady” mentality. We met somewhere in the middle of my ideal family of 7 kids and 2 moms and her “I hated being 2 kids so 3 is more my speed”, and settled on 5. Until we had 4!!! I swear to you, about 6 hours from our youngest being born, our thoughts became audible when a massive “FUUUUUUUUCCCCKKKK THAT” could be heard in our hospital room when someone had the audacity to ask us if we were thinking of having more. Or maybe we just imagined that! Who knows! We were delirious.
We’ve gone back and forth several times about the subject of baby #5. Some weeks (when we are totally head over heels again and find that cute little pocket of “how we used to be when we first met”), we are ALL OVER baby #5, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that our relationship has been, well…”going through it” right now. I haven’t really talked about this in depth, but Callie and I have been going to therapy bi-weekly because things have been less than stellar at home. My wife is a
hoarder collector of things (diagnosed or not!) and it is a HUGE source of contention in our house/relationship/family life. I grew up in a house that was immaculate. No, I’m serious! Like, NOT normal immaculate, so I’ll give Callie that one. But she also grew up in a house where I had no idea there was a dinner table because it was literally a mountain of CRAP (still is!) in the middle of the dining room. A space where you have to shimmy down the hall to get to the bathroom (which also, I refuse to use…you get where I’m going with this!). Totally not normal either! I just want to live somewhere in the middle, and that has become increasingly difficult because now she is not just hoarding accumulating things for herself, she is also hoarding amassing everything that belongs to the other 4 members of our household. Good thing is, things are getting better, communication has been WAY more effective, and we’ve been able to find more middle ground about all of the totally useless shit Callie’s “valuables”. Most of the past 6 months have been a lot of working on communicating, finding middle ground/compromise, and learning how to bend and give in sometimes. We’re not perfect (wellllllllllllllllllllllll…. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) but we’re working on being good spouses which I think got a little lost somewhere in the chaos of 3 under 3, and a moody, likely hormonal, premenstrual Pre-teen! (SEND HELP!)
So the prospect of my already so loved 5th child has been dwindling because of, well, life, and I have to admit, it stings a little. Sometimes it feels like 4 is just the perfect amount of kids, and sometimes I do headcounts in my head when we go out and I automatically say “…4 ANNNNDDDD 5!” without really thinking about it, and suddenly my heart gets so sad about Littlest Mendez possibly being a figment of my imagination. As I’ve been stewing over this (im)possible decision and life change, and also grappling with the craziness that is OUR LIVES ALREADY, I decided, “You know what?! Now isn’t really the time. Maybe it’s NEVER really gonna be the time. We are so busy with the 4 we have already. Activities are expensive! Time and efforts are already spread so thin. GROCERIES! Individually dedicated time is hard enough with FOUR let alone five! Now isn’t the time!”
And no sooner do I utter those words, do I get a phone call:
“Hello Mrs. Mendez! This is Ms. S from the Resource Unit at ::Government Agency:: We have a 7 month old little boy that has been sitting in the Pediatric Unit since 10 am (currently 4:45pm) and we haven’t been able to find placement for him. Would you and Mrs. Mendez be interested in caring for him?”
“I’ll let you speak to her, and then you can give me a call back and decide. He’s such a good baby. Severely neglected, head is very flat, has no muscle control, and can’t sit up or hold his bottle yet, but he is so oblivious and won’t stop smiling and laughing. He has blue eyes and dirty blonde curly hair. If she has any questions, have her call me and I can give her more info! Even if it’s just temporary for a few days until we find a permanent placement, he needs somewhere desperately!”
“Ummmm….ummmmm…ummmm…ummmm, sure! I’ll call her! Let me get back to you!”
I give Callie a call, but she already knew what was going on. She had already heard the voicemail because apparently the worker had called her first. Callie of course had her reservations becuase FIVE KIDS with 4 UNDER 4, but she called and had a few more questions answered about the biological family, the conditions he was found in, if they have any immediate concerns and things like that. (SB: Callie is MUCH MUCH better at the “nosy neighbor” thing than I am. She can formulate about 100 questions before I can think of just ONE!) After speaking to the worker, Callie called me back to let me know what she thought, and she thought a hell of a lot of stuff. We talked about our concerns, our hopes, our reservations, our interest in investing time and energy into an infant that likely has some developmental and emotional delays. But one thing sealed the deal.
His name. This past year, I have begun to restore my faith in Something bigger than me. And before Callie and I had spoken, I asked the Universe and God to send me a sign and let us know what to do. When Callie told me his name, I knew! My heart, OUR hearts knew! His name was the same name that Callie and I spent my entire pregnancy arguing about. She wanted to name Austin, well, Austin, and I wanted a different name. A 4 letter name to match Levi and Noah, but she wasn’t having it! When they told us that the baby had the name that I so desperately wanted for our youngest son, Callie and I looked each other in the eyes and knew. We just knew he had to be with our family, albeit temporary, but we have to see what this “5 kids” thing is about.
So, at 6:15pm Wednesday 8/23/17, just over a week ago, Little R joined the Mendez’s. He is a smiley boy, with big expressive blue eyes, adorable puffy little lips, and this tuft of wiry dirty blond hair. He was kept in a car seat most of the time, so even when you pick him up, his little legs stay in a sitting position, and his head really issssss super flat, so we’ve been avoiding putting him down if we can (get those back and neck muscles strong), offering super cuddle puddles with ALLLLLL the kids (because from what we understand there wasn’t a lot of interaction or human contact for him), singing to him, rocking him, and giving him LOADS of tummy time. Even the teachers say they see a pretty significant improvement from last week! Guys, I have to say, this baby is a dream! He is the least trouble of all of the kids, sleeps from 6:30pm to 6:30am without waking up, and even when he is tired or hungry, it’s two little cries and wait. That simultaneously makes me really happy (YAS!!! No crying infants!) but also really sad (did no one ever come to this crying infant that he doesn’t even bother!?!)
So, at least for now, we are a family of seven. Two ladies who lost their damn minds, a prepubescent almost 10 year old daughter (LORDT, help us!), 3 toddlers (enough said!), and an infant who couldn’t have been a better addition to our family!
A few weeks ago, I saw an open management position as an Administrative Assistant in the Diversity/EEO department with my current employer and I felt pulled to apply for it. I didn’t know much information about the position, so I confided in my current supervisor that I was interested in learning more about it. She is one of those supervisors that is ALL OVER helping her “good people” succeed and excel, and she sat with me for a little bit to talk to me about what the responsibilities are and what the position entailed. So, after hearing some good stuff, I decided it would be the best more for me.
I applied, and about 2 weeks later, I got a call to schedule an interview. Last week Thursday, I was scheduled for an interview at 9am. I let my boss know, and she was beyond excited for me. In fact, she coached me a little on some of the stuff that I didn’t know in regards to payroll and working our payroll system. I handle a lot of job responsibilities, but payroll is not one of them, and I have NEVER done payroll before. Like, EVER!
I got a good nights sleep, didn’t have any breakfast for fear of vomiting, got dressed pretty snazzy with my lucky bow tie (the one I wore when I interviewed to secure this position, and the very one I wore when Callie said YES!), and was off to work to wait for my interview. The hour wait was pretty nerve wracking, and I did my best to keep from sweating (so I wouldn’t look like I decided to take a dip FULLY CLOTHED on my way to work), and calm my voice (because my diaphragm was hanging out at a bouncy castle!), and review some of my possible answers to their possible questions (I’ve had a few internal interviews to move around within the company already, and the questions are usually the same with one or two position specific questions).
My answers were LEGIT people! I mean, I have honestly never had an interview where I just felt that all of my answers were on point. In fact, Callie has been the main hiring manager for over 15 years, and when I told her the questions and gave her my answers, she said, “Half way through that second answer I would have had you as my number 1 choice. Woulda been hard to beat that!” When I was done with my interview, I just new it!
Ladies and gents and everyone in between, meet the newest Administrative Assistant of Diversity and EEO (moi!), while I say hello to 6 weeks paid vacation, an increase in pay, and the sweetest deal of all time, FREE LIFETIME MEDICAL! Yup…Hello all of that goodness!
Day 3-Your first love
Ah, first love. I remember my first love so vividly. From the day we met to the day that we separated. It was young love at it’s finest. Spring was in the air. The days were just starting to get longer, and the nights warmer. I had been out to my family since I was 14, but I wasn’t out publicly (except to my closest, mostly closeted friends) until I was 16. I was ready to start dating some ladies. .
I had a boyfriend at the time named Aidan who was a year older than me and had his own car. Aidan’s uncle was my uncles best friend. We had know each other since we were little when he had just moved to the states from Ecuador, and had spent a good deal of time together growing up. Aidan and I had been dating for a few months, since the previous summer, when we rekindled our friendship over intimate conversation around a campfire on that years family camping trip, and to me he was the coolest guy I had ever met. We took walks around the campgrounds at 2am, and shared smooches in the lifeguard chair at the edge of a moonlit lake. We found an abandoned shack in the woods where we told each other some of our deepest secrets, and hugged so hard when it was time to leave that it felt like it would literally kill me if I never saw him again. Good thing he was moving to my hometown, even though he would be going to a different high school. He came to take me out to lunch everyday for the next few months. He really was the sweetest guy, always surprising me with flowers and gifts, and taking me to movies and teen clubs and never letting me put my hand in my pocket to pay for anything. He was a gentleman, and I was head over heels for him. Until, Leila…Leila changed everything…
Leila..I thought I had known love before her, but I had no idea. I didn’t now what it was like to want to lay your life on the line for someone. I didn’t know what it meant to be so completely engulfed by love that at times it felt you would suffocate if you didn’t see them right away. She changed the way I look at love now. She set the standard for what I wanted in someone and in a relationship. She was the bomb!
We met on a warm spring Saturday just like any other. It was 1999. My next door neighbor and best friend Manny had moved to the town next door, in a tiny district that had about 300 students and faculty combined. He met Leila and her “best friend” Kristen and two months later after getting to know them better, he decided that we should meet because they were bisexual but didn’t have any other LGBT friends. Since I was going to an LGBTQ youth group my mom had found for me, he thought it would be cool if we all met and I could introduce them to the program. So I agreed! He picked me up at 3pm on a Saturday, and then we went over to pick them up. First Kristen stepped out of the house, and I thought, “WOW! Look at her! Almost 6 feet tall, hourglass figure, long beautiful shiny black hair, and a face to die for. She’s hot!!!” and then Leila walked out, and it was like something you see in the movies. Time slowed down. Birds were suspended in air mid flight. My heart started to race and my mouth suddenly became very dry. She had on fitted jeans, a tight black shirt, and her hair in an African head wrap that made her beautiful bone structure all the more prominent. Her green eyes were piercing, and her caramel mocha skin was taunting me, because I knew that I would never be able to touch her. She already seemed out of my league and way out of my reach. After all, even though they would never admit it, I knew that her heart belonged to Kristen, and Kristen’s heart was hers. But in those 43 seconds that it took for them to walk from the house to the door of Manny’s Jeep, I was already in love…
I was jolted back to reality when my pager went off and Aidan’s code, 888, showed up. He’d have to wait! I was admiring the most gorgeous woman I had every seen. They get in the car, there were quick introductions and a trip to the mall. We have lunch together, buy a few things, hit up a photo booth and try and squeeze the 4 of us in (I still have those photos actually), and then head over to a local park. We stopped at CVS for candy and soda. At the park, we share stories about school, love, and life. We get along well. We share lots of laughs. She keeps looking at me when she thinks Kristen and I aren’t looking. She seems to caress my back when she pushes me on the tire swing. She looks me in the eyes when she talks to me and it’s intimidating and unnerving. I look at her perfectly sculpted lips and I want to kiss her. I refrain, mainly because I don’t want to get punched in the face, but also because I just met her and that would be beyond awkward. The day escapes us and night creeps in. We see a shooting star. We’re hungry and we go to McDonald’s. Kristen goes to the restroom. Leila asks for my number and offers to buy me ice cream. I freeze, but not from said ice cream. I give her my home number and pager number. She gives me both of hers and tells me I better call her tonight. What time? After 9. I can’t wait to go home.
That night, we drop them off at home, and Manny takes me to my house. On the car ride home, he tells me thinks something will happen between us. I tell him he’s crazy. We have sex (number 8 remember!) and I got upstairs, showered and waited for 9pm. I don’t wanna seem too eager so I call at 9:05.
“I said 9!”
“Hi to you too! I’m sorry! I had to shower”
“what!?! ::giggle giggle::”
“You’re so cute!”
“No you are”…and it went on like this for 5 hours. I didn’t realize she was hiding in the bathroom while Kristen slept in her bed.
We didn’t see each other again until a few months later, once school was out for summer, but we spoke every day, for hours. I made her mix tapes, because if that wasn’t a sign that you loved someone, I don’t know what was! I wrote her letters. I took some pre-selfie selfies for her. I wrote on the back of them, with lots of hearts and cursive. I couldn’t wait to give them to her. I was still with Aidan, and a night at the teen club when I had invited Leila and Kristen, turned into a hot freaking mess. Lots of things were said, people were angry and crying, and I ended up walking home because Aidan just left me there. It had ended, but something between Leila and I had officially begun. We spent every day together that summer. We would go to the lake, the amusement park, spend hours at the mall, but mostly my favorite part was hanging out in her basement, listening to music and the sounds of the oscillating fan, laying on the futon mattress on the floor, immersed in the orangey-pink glow that was radiating from the sun shining in through the drawn curtains. We would roll around for hours. When school started, my senioritis kicked in big time! I would take the bus to school, and use a friends cell phone (the old school nextels!) to call a cab and escape to Leila’s house just to cuddle and watch TV, before even setting foot on the property. We got after school jobs together. She went to my soccer games so often that the coach asked her if she wanted to be our team manager and was allowed to ride the bus with us even though she didn’t even go to my school. That summer, when I turned 18 and graduated high school on the same day, I went home, packed a bag, went to Leila’s and never came back. That is the second most memorable summer of my life (second to the one that I spent wooing Callie). Lot’s of it is a blur, but I remember driving around in a friends drop top and singing Jason Mraz and the Moulin Rouge soundtrack at the top of our lungs while we held hands driving towards the setting sun.
We broke up a year and a half later, on a dreary October day. We worked for a national service organization. We were broken up into teams of 10. Those teams of 10 were broken up into pairs of two. And we were not on the same team, so now we were broken, because her partner now became her partner, and even though I didn’t want to believe it, I saw Karma, and Karma’s name was Tammy. And Tammy from Michigan stole her heart, and I was left sobbing uncontrollably in the bathroom, because I knew. I knew we were over. I could tell from a couple of days after starting work, when she didn’t rest her head on my shoulder anymore on the ride home, but instead leaned into the window. I knew, when at 2am, I would roll over in bed and the chasm that was forming between us was ice cold, because she wasn’t there, so I would creep into the hallway, sit on the floor curled up into a ball, and press my ear to the door and listen to her tell someone else how much she loved them. I was aware that when she told me she had to stay the night at Tammy’s because there was a huge service project her team was leading and she wouldn’t get there on time if she came all the way home, that she was lying. When she stayed there that night, I packed my things and left. We had words a few times after that because we worked together, but really, we haven’t spoken since.
Leila was my first love and my first heartbreak. There are things that I am so blessed she taught me about love, but also things that I wish I never would have learned. She was the first woman to ever break my heart and take a piece of it with her. Loving her and losing her put me on the path to find my real love, my best girl and my soul mate. It led me to the city, that led me to my friends, who led me to my ex-wife (another day, another post), who broke my heart so badly that it literally almost killed me, that sent me back home to live with my parents, and led to the revival of old hometown friendships after a 10+ year hiatus, that led me right into the arms of the woman I love. Life’s funny like that..and for that I am forever grateful to my first love…