Friday, January 23, 2015


This song reduced me to tears tonight.

Something is wrong.

I spent the whole day just wanting to crawl back in bed, I felt like crying every time I tried to talk, and... something is just wrong. I was sitting in the living room listening to music on my headphones with the little dog on my lap and this song, about half way through, hit a nerve. I think it's because of the hard times Austin and I are going through, the deep and abiding sense of struggle that is required to even hold on to our relationship in the midst of so much hurt and confusion and stress. We are both so raw and angry and vulnerable... It only takes one true believer to believe we can still beat the odds. I have to believe that. Otherwise what else do I have?

Heart of the World 
Lady Antebellum

Tin cans on rattlin' pavement
Confetti scattered everywhere
She falls asleep in the seat beside me
Rice caught up in her hair
I don't mind it, I keep drivin',
Flying on these wheels of steel
A bit anxious, a bit nervous
The moment's all that we can feel

If oil is the soul of the engine
And wine is the drink of the Gods
Forgiveness the road to redemption
Faith can still beat the odds
We're meant to be baby hold on to me
You'll never not be my girl
'Cause love is the heart of the world

I leave him sleepin' as I rise early
Always up before the dawn
The house is dark, but I see clearly
Kettle sings a morning song
The bacon's frying, babies crying
I soak up the sights and sounds
Minutes turn to days and I wish that I could slow it down

If grease is the soul of the kitchen
And coffee the drink of the Gods
Routine too perfect to mention
Time is a thief I would rob
We're meant to be baby hold onto me
I'll never not be your girl
'Cause love is the heart of the world

Oh, and hope is the soul of the dreamer
And heaven is the home of my God
It only takes one true believer
To believe you can still beat the odds

We're meant to be baby hold onto me
You'll never not be my girl (I'll never not be your girl)
'Cause love is the heart, love is the heart,
Love is the heart of the world

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


I struggle daily with my competing desires. I desperately want to relinquish control of details and decisions to Austin while at the same time treating him with gentle kindness and respect. I also desperately want to control every aspect of my life with an iron grip.

The two, in case you hadn't guessed, don't mix well at all. I have very clearly defined ways "things should go" and when they don't go that way I get frustrated, annoyed, bossy, and rude. At the same time I really don't want to have to control everything, know everything, and decide everything. It's a sticky place to be, especially since I have trouble trusting that Austin (or if I'm being really honest, just about anyone on earth) knows enough about what is going on and about me to make a decision that is different from my own but still perfectly valid.

A very dear friend, whom I see only rarely, laid it out very starkly the last time we talked. He said that my assets - my strength, commitment, control-freakish nature, and stubbornness - are all perfectly suited to meeting my goals of surrendering, being respectful, and creating a more harmonious life with Austin. All I have to do is make up my mind once and for all that I actually want to do it. I cried a little when he said that, not wanting to admit that I do have the power and nothing is stopping me except me.

I'm in my third year of a highly competitive PhD program, for heaven's sake! If I have the strength and conviction to make it to this point in my life I can surely adjust my thinking enough to follow Austin's lead and just make it happen. The onus is on me. It is my responsibility to change my thinking and follow through on what I claim to want.

This thought plays through my head every day. Every damn day! Multiple times a day. But something (hint, hint: fear) is holding me back and I haven't screwed up the courage to turn my back on that fear and take a leap of faith. Small steps are sometimes possible and with each one I must remind myself to recognize that nobody died because I chose to loosen my grip, follow Austin's lead, and bow my head to making our lives a little less complicated.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


I changed the title of the blog on a whim, inspired by a sleepless night. I was thinking about all of the funny, cute, challenging, learning-moment, confusing, or overwhelming things that happen every day and my unending need to write in some form or fashion and decided to come here.

The "heartburn" part of the title comes from the sleepless night, one of many that have been occurring recently. The "hedgehog" part comes from the most recent addition to our family and my nickname for Austin.

An inventory is in order...

One adult male: Austin. My hedgehog and the inspiration for both the pet and the blog.
One adult female: Gray. Me. A mother, fiancee, student, and so much more.
Three adolescents: Tabby, Jackson, and Chloe, in descending order of age. The two girls are my daughters, the boy is Austin's son.
Two dogs: One designer dog and one mutt. The mutt was acquired a few months ago from the shelter. We've had the designer dog for a little over a year.
One cat: The perfect cat. She loves me and loves to talk to me even though she is Austin's cat.
One hedgehog: A living embodiment of my nickname for Austin. Just joined the household this past weekend.

Austin and I are ever so slightly kinky, when time and family obligations permit. We dabble with a form of Head of Household dynamic that more often than not falls flat on its face. We continue to move forward but are never quite sure where we are or where we're going.


This morning on the way to school Chloe started talking about the namesake for this blog: our new hedgehog. She said she still doesn't believe we really have a hedgehog and is sure that someday Austin is going to do something crazy.

"One day he's going to come home with a hippo and things are going to go really wrong," she said, very seriously.

"Hippos are illegal," I pointed out.

"Exactly!" She exclaimed. "Then wouldn't things be bad?!"

She then went off on the possibility of Austin showing up one  day with a giant dog and how I would react (complete with a funny, high-pitched voice I'm guessing was her early-morning interpretation of me). I listened to her musings, all the while wondering where in the world she gets her endless enthusiasm and silliness.

Friday, September 5, 2014


Wow. The week before school starts is always a little nerve-wracking for me and the kids but this year it was just insane. As I mentioned, Jackson is now living with us full-time, a decision that was made seven days (yes, days) before he started seventh grade. Now, were it up to me, I would say some rather unkind and harsh things to his mother both making this decision and choosing to make it so close to the start of school.

Austin and I also bought a minivan this last week. That involved about three days of test driving, negotiating, and researching cars. I hate car shopping with a passion but I'm also really good at it. Austin and I have completely opposite and complimentary styles of shopping - I'm all about numbers, practicality, and usefulness. He's much more interested in the "emotional" side of the transaction - how things feel, or look, or how we relate to the vehicles. It's an odd and maybe unusual combination but it tends to work well for us in making decisions.

So, with all of that going on, the HoH and D/s stuff kind of took a nosedive. I threw a fit Friday evening when things were all discombobulated and Austin just didn't know what to do with me. I refused to listen to him, or take a break, or be nice to him, or even try to breathe for a minute before getting on with the evening. The kids have a habit of all converging on our house asking questions, demanding food, and generally disrupting any sense of peace and tranquility I've managed to create during the time they were gone. It happens every other week so I really should be used to it but it still manages to rile me up just about every time.

Add in dealing with an ex-husband who has been uncharacteristically temperamental and demanding lately, my feelings about Austin's ex-wife and her choices that deeply affect our family, and my general level of anxiety and I become more than a handful.

Austin has backed off of trying to run things just because I can get so hard to handle and it's very difficult to maintain any kind of enforceable dynamic without the time and privacy to enforce it. It's not a choice he was actually eager to make but when the opportunity to carry through with a consequence for being rude to him did not become available over the course of five days, it just sort of lost its steam. He resigned himself to talking more and figuring out how to keep things from going to crisis to crisis, which has been mostly how we've been operating lately.

Monday, August 25, 2014


I feel like all I do here is complain about the hard times. Given that this blog is my place to work out what is troubling my mind or causing me to stumble, I guess that is to be expected. But what I have been complaining about so far seems almost insignificant in the face of the newest development in our family's life...

The middle child, the boy child, Jackson, is Austin's son. Jackson's mother, like my daughters' father, lives about 15 minutes away from our house (in the opposite direction, of course). All of which means we share custody of the children with our respective exes - one week at our house for all of them, then the next week they're all at their other parents' houses. It's a nice schedule that gives everyone a chance to be together while allowing Austin and me time to ourselves, much like we would have if we were a young couple just starting out.

Except things have gone seriously awry on the end where Jackson's mother is concerned. She has made some relationship choices over the last month (and more broadly over the last few years) that have led to her ultimately deciding she would rather focus on her relationship with her "boyfriend" than be actively involved in her son's life at a crucial time in his development.

(I have to stress that Jackson's upbringing until about a year ago was less than ideal and as a result he has rather significant anxiety, self-esteem, attention/focusing, and social/emotional problems, all of which impact his ability to participate and succeed in school despite (or in combination with) the fact that he is incredibly gifted academically. Cognitively he is well beyond where he ought to be. Socially and emotionally he is well behind where he ought to be and for most of his life has been incorrectly labeled as ADHD and subjected to numerous medications. It was not until earlier this year - already in middle school - that he stopped throwing violent screaming fits of rage and frustration.)

I know, having grown up with parents who split when I was about Jackson's age, how hard it is to understand why a parent might choose a new relationship instead of custody of a child, and how ultimately damaging it has been to my relationships with my parents. When I was thirteen my father moved several states away in order to marry a woman he re-met at a high school reunion. I barely saw him until I ended up living with him when, about a year later, my mother couldn't figure out how to help me overcome severe depression and instead decided to focus on her academic career. I felt abandoned and ignored by both of them for the majority of my adolescent years, something that haunts me to this day.

Knowing that my father or mother was several states away was a lot different than Jackson's situation will be. His mother is still living in the house in which he grew up, close enough that he can ride his bike there, with the man she is choosing over him. Jackson will still see her every other weekend and a day or two in between. But she is choosing, because her new boyfriend is isolating, controlling, manipulative, and has anger-management issues, to let go of her son in every important way and any way that matters to him.

It really worries me... what this will do to Jackson and what it will do to the rest of the family. I think I just need to focus on the long-term. It will, ultimately, benefit Jackson to be here almost full-time during the school year once he is over the shock and grief of being abandoned (for what I believe and I am positive he will correctly interpret as his mother being incredibly selfish, immature, irresponsible, gullible, and lacking in any kind of parenting morals, although I will NEVER say as much to him). He will continue to learn the skills he started to acquire last year regarding how to focus, learn, study, work, and succeed. He will continue to learn how to appreciate his strengths while acknowledging that areas of weakness are simply opportunities for practice and growth. He will learn how to recognize, understand, and act appropriately on his emotions. He will become a fine young man under the watchful and loving eyes of his father, me, and our amazingly hard-working family therapist.

But his mother? She has chosen a man Austin and I (from personal experience in an almost identical situation) believe is and has been emotionally and very potentially physically abusive to her and Jackson. All I can say is thank goodness Jackson will no longer be subjected to the manipulation, bullying, harassment, and violence his mother's boyfriend has brought to her house in the month he has lived there since returning from a year's absence overseas. She will continue to wander until she realizes the answers she needs are right there inside of her and until then, I wish her the best.

Saturday, August 23, 2014


"Come here."

"What?" Even though I'd heard him perfectly well.

"Come here!" 

"I'm doing my hair." Even though my legs are not at all involved in putting my hair up.

A pause. He picked up his tablet and started doing something else. I turned around.

"So every time you say 'Come here' and don't follow through, it's like the little boy who called wolf. Next time I'm going to wonder if I really have to pay attention and do what you say," I said.

He stood up, walked over to me, grabbed me by the hair, and guided me over to the bed, saying, "I said, 'Come here'." I grimaced when he got a good grasp of my hair.
When I was face down on the bed he said, "When I say 'Come here' are you going to listen?" 

I nodded and squeaked out a yes.

"Good. Give me a kiss." He let me kiss him then let me up. "Go do your hair."

I went back to my dresser and took my hair down to redo it. 

"That wasn't me that said that, by the way." I glanced back at him with my eyebrows raised.

"What? Who was it?" Austin looked like maybe he was afraid I'd been taken over by aliens.

"It was a helpful little Domestic Discipline elf, helping you out. It wasn't me." I smiled and turned back to my mirror. He laughed and went back to what he was doing.