Posted on | October 4, 2011 | 20 Comments
My Ex and I separated at the beginning of April of this year so for the last six months, I have been operating on fumes. It was most important that I got up and out of bed. It was most important that I took care of J and made sure he was happy. It was most important that I just survive.
Over the past six months, we HAVE survived. We have made a home back here in Macon. We’ve made friends. We’ve made a life. Of course, when you start to make a life for yourself, if you’re me, you start to wonder about who, if anyone, will ever be there to share it with you.
Getting divorced doesn’t rob you of your desire to spend your life with someone. It doesn’t suddenly turn you into someone who thinks growing old with a spouse is trite and stupid. You don’t wake up suddenly feeling like a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle and then go out and get a fish and a bicycle just to prove the point. At least not if you’re me.
For six months I operated in survival mode; picking up the pieces of my life and shaping them into something new, something brighter, something a bit more me. When I back out of my driveway in the mornings, I smile, because my car takes me past the flower bed that J and I planted, the front walk that we “meticulously” mulched, and my cheerful new red door and flowers that just seem to scream “Welcome home, y’all!” My house is my own. My life is my own.
Now that I’ve started smiling more, feeling more like myself, and in general wanting to actually wake up in the mornings, I’ve started thinking about something imminently more terrifying than divorce…. dating.
Let’s journey back to last week when I had a deposition opposite an attorney in Atlanta.
Oh, voyeurs, it was a disaster.
This guy was cute. Like really cute. And I couldn’t focus on what I was supposed to be doing because I was spending so much time wondering if I was smiling appropriately or if I looked a bit too much like one of those frightening ever-smiling clowns. That NEVER happened when I was “happily” married. I couldn’t decide if I was watching him too much, or just the right amount, because for the life of me I couldn’t remember what I NORMALLY do in depositions.
Let me walk you through how it went down. I came into the room and there he was, entirely too attractive. I did a quick smile and turned to shut the doors to the conference room. I couldn’t close the doors. Seriously. I couldn’t get them to close. Our receptionist had to come in and shut the doors.
I tried to play it off by flipping my hair and saying “Oh doors. That’s so beneath me. I HIRE people to close those for me.” And he politely laughed, but my cover was blown. So yeah… I basically started the two-hour deposition by announcing to the room that I’m a moron. I’m sure my client (and super cute opposing counsel) were less than impressed.
Meanwhile, he meandered through his questions with me alternating between “am I ignoring him,” “Am I staring too much,” and “Crap, was I supposed to object to that?” At the end of the questioning, we made quick and polite small talk about the case and then he was gone.
And I spent the rest of the day mentally slapping myself around for being such a moron.
Dating these days is really tough. Because I’m not a teenager any more and I don’t go to bars and clubs just hoping to run into Prince Almost-Charming while knee deep in a bottle of liquor. I spend my Friday nights watching Blues Clues and chasing a 3 foot tall terrorist around my house… not exactly a lot of opportunities to meet people. And then when you throw into the mix that half the married men out there don’t wear damn wedding rings? Well, that’s a whole different story.
Because what if I get up the nerve to be all “So, hi!” and then he’s all “Whoa, there, I’m married!” and then his wife comes out of the woodwork and beats my ass for hitting on her husband? Married men should wear rings unless they are in scrubs in the middle of surgery. This guy? Did not have on a ring. But sadly, in this day and age, I don’t know what that even means. So I’m left wondering if I’m an idiot who tried (unsuccessfully) to hit on a married man, or if I’m an idiot who tried (“unsuccessfully”) to hit on a guy who was totally not interested. Either way, the key to the exchange was unsuccessful. I’ve forgotten how to flirt. (Unless, of course, forgetting how to close a door is now THE way to get a man.)
The long and short of it is this… I’m sort of kind of ready to date. I’m terrified as to how people actually go about doing that. I don’t want to do online dating and though I used to go to church, a friend told me that people think single women only go to Sunday School to meet a man so I got paranoid and stopped going. I have no game. I am a single mother.
I am terrified.
“Date” is totally a four-letter word.
Posted on | September 28, 2011 | 11 Comments
Some people laughingly repeat that life is like a box of chocolates, but I disagree. See, with a box of chocolates, you can sample back and forth, putting back the things you don’t like and starting a new. And when it’s all said and done, if you get to the end of the box, there’s always another one just waiting for you to buy it and crack it open.
Besides all that, life isn’t nearly as sweet.
My life has always been more like a box of sporting goods equipment. Some of it I know what it’s for, and some of it I can’t figure out where to put, how to fasten, or what in the hell it’s supposed to protect. Every day a new item is thrown at me and sometimes I know just what to do with it but other times? Other times I’m staring down at some foreign piece of equipment that may well be a jock strap or possibly an ancient Egyptian sling shot. I don’t know where to put it. I don’t know whether to pour my coffee in it or leave it lying on the counter. This is one of those possible jock strap days.
My dog has arthritis and is now on a heftily priced medication to help ease his leg pain. Heftily priced. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at the financial mess I find myself in most days and I’m still fighting a semi-losing battle with some mystery infection that comes on without warning. My child is getting his two year molars, my ex-husband wants to date me, and the air conditioner is broken at my house.
So this is me, dressed in some kind of crazy athletic gear, battling life with a hockey stick and a pair of ice skates. With an ancient Egyptian jock strap on my head.
But the thing about life is this… beneath all of that craziness, beneath the too-big jersey and the skates I can’t wear, I’m still me. I’m breathing. My heart is beating, maybe a mile a minute, but it’s beating. And at my side, my pint sized shadow is grinning. He’s got his shin guards on with a football helmet and there’s a fencing shirt draped around his shoulders… but he’s grinning. Because all the drama and the unknown that stresses me out? Well, that’s the stuff that’s fun for him. This giant box of sports equipment that stresses me out is a giant box of awesome dress up gear for my son.
So when days like today threaten to get me down, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and delve back into the madness of this box of life. I laugh when I emerge with goggles on my eyes and flippers on my feet. I laugh when I see the bank account dip down, down, down. I laugh when it seems as though the only thing to do is cry. Because crying in goggles and flippers would look ridiculous. Because life can be fun. Because even when it’s too tight, too small, and too painful… it’s still life.
And being alive is pretty much all we have.
Posted on | September 27, 2011 | 9 Comments
I did my research.
I spent time on Saturday looking online and making a few phone calls. I took notes and even made a pros and cons list. I took my time, spending the afternoon out in the yard, mulching and planting and thinking it through. J and I went out to Target and I talked to him about it, walking him through what I was thinking and asking his thoughts.
I did my research.
And on Sunday afternoon, we piled into the car and drove a very short distance to a very small store.
I parked in the nearly empty parking lot and sat there for a moment, staring across the road at a guy standing on the corner, twirling an “eat here” sign around his head and waving at cars. I sat there and collected my thoughts, spinning them around and around, a full circle of memories. The sun was bright in the sky, beating down through the haze… it felt wrong. Maybe I should come back another day? The sunshine just felt wrong.
In the backseat, a little voice pipes up.
“I go too?”
And so I moved, sliding out of the seat and into the last days of Georgia summer. Around the back of the car to his door and then back again, slowly pounding the pavement between the parking lot and the glass front door. I had to wait for the saleslady to open the door, a moment of pausing that almost had me turning back. But we pressed on, lingering over the small table of toys until J was comfortable enough for me to move on.
Ten minutes… no more. Just ten short minutes.
And then we were back out in the clouded hum of September. Ten minutes and we were both safely buckled in the car. Just the two of us. Nothing more.
The circle that once symbolized everything I stood to gain was gone, replaced by two bright blue orbs and a boyish grin.
I no longer need a band of misused gold to remember what was good about my marriage.
There were no tears to cry when I deposited the check into my bank account, padding the balance for necessities. There was no second guessing my decision, no worrying that I had done something foolish. It was just a ring, cut to match the diamond he gave me as a symbol of his undying love. It was just a ring.
Still… I was glad when the rain came.
Posted on | September 26, 2011 | 14 Comments
Ever have one of those slow “NOOOOOO” moments?
You know, when you’re doing something totally normal that just somehow goes awry?
Because that just happened to me.
I was minding my business, working on fixing a terribly written brief that’s due today. (And I can say it’s terribly written without remorse because I wrote it… and it’s atrocious.) All of a sudden I realized “Hmm, I need to pee.” Once you’re a mother, those “urges” come on suddenly and they don’t play around. They mean get to a bathroom STAT or you’re going to be hunched over with your knees crossed hoping to God that nothing leaks while you sidestep down the hall.
So I went to the bathroom.
I made it there in perfect time, there was no spillage, nothing to worry about. I plopped the seat cover down on the toilet and plopped my ass on the seat cover to pee.
And then it happened.
For whatever reason, the toilets in our office are weird shaped. The front sort of slopes down, I guess to make sure that everything flows in an orderly fashion towards the back of the pot. I guess. But apparently, if you are not positioned properly…
Well, let’s just say it happened in slow motion. I shifted. Just a bit, just to be comfortable. And the stream of pee hit the slope of the toilet just wrong.
And it splashed out.
On my pants.
On the floor.
On my shoes.
I peed. All over myself.
In slow motion.
Because it’s Monday.
Posted on | September 23, 2011 | 11 Comments
This has been a sad week. And if there’s one thing I have taken out of this week it is that I was uninformed as a new mother.
See, I took J to the grocery store with me every time I went. I enjoyed the oohs and ahhs from fellow shoppers. I enjoyed having him with me, watching his face as we passed by all the aisles of food. One of the things I registered for when I was pregnant was a Graco Travel System. The car seat carrier separated from the base and it had a hook that conveniently snapped into the rungs of a shopping cart. I thought it was meant to go there. I certainly saw hundreds of other mothers doing the exact. same. thing.
Only guess what?
Carriers aren’t supposed to go in shopping carts.
And I got lucky.
If you think about it and I mean really REALLY think about it, it makes sense. Shopping carts are not stable. They are not evenly weighted pieces of equipment. When you place a baby carrier in the front basket, it weighs down the top, making it unsteady, top heavy and dangerous.
Did you know this as a new mother? Because I certainly didn’t. I didn’t know there was anything wrong with putting a baby carrier into a shopping cart… and still wonder how else I would have managed to do any shopping. The AAP has issued several different warnings regarding shopping carts and babies… but somehow, none of them became such big news that any warnings were placed on shopping carts. Somehow, that wasn’t included in information anyone gave me when I was a new mother. Somehow, that wasn’t considered important.
But it is important. Because according to the AAP, in 2005, more than 24,000 children were injured in shopping cart accidents. Twenty. Four. THOUSAND. And this year, one of those was little Bo, a sweet faced four month old baby.
Why is this not important information?
Why is this not plastered on the wall of the shopping center when you come in?
Why is this not standard information provided by pediatricians on your first office visit?
Why did I not know I was putting my sweet baby at risk, every time I took him to any store??
I am appalled that this information wasn’t available to me. I am appalled that I didn’t read every single warning included with my carrier because then I would have seen that small print that told me it was not intended for use in shopping carts. But would I have listened? Because every. body. does. it.
But if there’s one thing I learned this week?
It is that I will never do it again.
And I hope you won’t either. When you get ready to go to the grocery store, strap on your baby wearing bjorn or ergo carrier. Find someone to watch the baby. Send your spouse or partner instead. When you think to yourself “I’ll just run in and get two quick things,” stop and think of Baby Bo and his broken-hearted mother. Stop and think of what she would give to have known that by doing what everyone else did, she would lose her child. Stop and think of what she would do to rewind time and know what I’m telling you now.
Stop and think about Baby Bo.
And help me spread the word that shopping carts are not safe for baby carriers.
**And for more information, check out this link from the American Academy of Pediatrics **
Posted on | September 20, 2011 | 12 Comments
It is only half-light outside and sometimes still so dark that I blink once, then twice just to adjust to the stillness. No matter how late or early my eyes open, there is always the spring bounce of the bed beside me; my sister is always awake first, rustling with sheets or books or whatever she has to keep herself occupied until morning light tiptoes through the filter of the tap, tap, tapping pussy willow branches against our window.
Before sitting to join her, I breathe in the scratchy flannel of my sheets, pressing my face down into the Strawberry Shortcake pillow and twisting the soft yellow and white threads of my almost-gone blanket. As long as I lay still, slowly inhaling the morning, there is still the promise of magic hovering, flipping up and around inside my stomach like a million tiny butterflies, waiting to greet the day.
Before long, I sit, legs dangling, facing my sister in nervous anticipation. The mattresses creak and spring, bouncing out our excitement as we whisper and giggle, our voices high sopranos of sound against the tick of the wall clock and the soft pink hush of the walls. Finally, the creak of floorboards and the swish of slippers sound against the hallway. We hold our breath, watching the door, waiting for the familiar sounds and smells that mean it is time to tear out of our room and down the two levels of stairs to the family room.
Slowly, a waft of sage-laden sausage creeps up the stairwell, filling the room with the swirl of breakfast alongside the familiar dark roast coffee. We’re at the edge of our beds, daring each other “No, you call them!” “No you!” until one of us wins or loses and our warm feet plant firmly against the cold floor with a familiar slap, slap, slap to the door. And then with a flourish, the door swings open and the cloud of breakfast pours in, tinged with evergreen and a hint of cinnamon. We call down loudly to our parents, begging to get up again and again until we hear my mother push the time-worn click of the play button on the old cassette player and The Statler Brothers Christmas Card begins to sway around and around the downstairs rooms. My father appears, his face sleepy but blue eyes bright, and my sister begs again “Can we go now? Can we?” He grins, shaking his head.
“I don’t know why you’re so excited, girls, Santa didn’t come this year.”
And with a cry of excitement, we take off, knees over elbows, racing each other through the chilled air, down through the split-level house until we stand in the room we covet, feet wedged deep in the shag carpet and eyes brightly lit with the glow of Christmas.
Posted on | September 19, 2011 | 15 Comments
I have a bad case of the Mondays.
It happens to me every time J has visitation with his father or I have a lazy weekend where I’m sick as a dog and I don’t get to spend a lot of time with J. I miss my kid. I don’t like getting him up out of his cozy bed, smoothing down his crazy bed head curls, and dressing him for school. I don’t like bustling him into the car and driving him to daycare, only to leave him to have breakfast with his friends whil I drive off to work.
I don’t like leaving him.
With that in mind, I also know that I am a better mother to him because I work outside the home.
What, that surprises you?
It’s the truth. I miss him horribly. I miss his sweet curls and his soft gray eyes. I miss the way he says “Momma too?” and scruntches up his mouth and looks at me all crooked and curious. I sit at work and impatiently wait for the moment I can run out the door and tiptoe into his class saying “I wish I had a little boy to take home with me…” and wait for him to throw himself happily into my arms screaming “THAT’S MY MOMMY!”
If I were home with him all day, I know myself well enough that the moment of my day I would most look forward to would be, in alternate, nap time and bed time. I would lose my patience. I would roll my eyes. His games and questions and concerns would start to wear on me like the curves and strands of his blue blanket.
I am a better mom because I work.
But I still miss the hell out of my kid. Especially on Mondays.
Posted on | September 16, 2011 | 25 Comments
This week’s prompt was to write a fiction or non-fiction piece about heartbreak. I combined a bit of both to create this:
It was a slow process, the leaving that broke her. It began with just an empty spot in the bed.
She woke up at two in the morning and reached for him; he wasn’t there. Slipping off the side of the bed, she padded down the hallway and into the brightly lit living room. He was there, hunched over his keyboard, an empty bag of chips at his side and a set of headphones sweat-pasted against his ears. She called his name once, twice, but there was nothing. No blinking, no response, no indication that he remembered where or who he was supposed to be.
For a moment, she stood there, juxtaposed between the life she wanted and the life she had, staring at the man she thought she loved. Time paused and she hovered there, wondering what had changed. And then she moved, creeping ever closer, and lying her hand soft against his shoulder.
In a quick, frantic moment, he jerked away. He moved as though her touch burned. He moved as though she was not allowed, not welcome, not entrusted with the care of touching him. Ever again.
It was a slow process.
A week later he asked for separate bank accounts, berating her skills with money and reprimanding her for not knowing he needed to feel more like a man, more in charge of his own income.
Two weeks after that, he wanted space, a room to call his own, a place he could be left alone… although she’d thought he’d been alone. She had certainly been alone for longer than she cared to remember.
Then it became little, tiny, nit-picking. She had gained too much weight. She couldn’t make a pot of chili the way his mother could. She wasn’t very good in the bedroom. He picked and picked at her, leaving her scarred, bleeding, a gaping wound of a woman. But still she stayed. Still she waited. Still she loved.
Little by little, he carved away at everything that made her whole. He scooped out pound after pound of flesh and blood and bone, exposing the root of her love for him and then ripping it out with careless words.
Was this what love was supposed to be?
Was this what forever meant?
Was this what she signed up to be when she let him slide that ring onto her finger?
Still she loved, fully, earnestly, pleadingly. She begged him to love her. She split herself open again and again, exposing her heart to him, exposing her need to be the woman he wanted, to have him be the man she needed.
It was a slow process.
And then she came home, exhausted and bruised from a work day beating. She sat her purse on the counter and called out an “I’m home.” The dog came happily to meet her.
He did not.
He came home from work and never spoke a word. He ate the dinner she prepared and then he was there, standing in front of her, the eyes she’d once loved seeming foreign and strange in the fleshed out face before her.
“I don’t love you.” Somehow, inexplicably, he smiled as he said it. As though the words would be softer through curled up lips, as though they wouldn’t feel like bullets pounding against what was left of her heart. She reached for him, a slow procession of shoulder, arm, hand, reaching out to grasp at the words or to push them away. He pushed her away.
It was a gentle push. It was just a gentle push.
But she reeled backwards, foot after foot, year after year, playing through their life in reverse. The baby, the house, the honeymoon the wedding. The day he proposed, the day they fell in love, the day they met… a frantic slideshow of when and how this had happened. She reeled backwards until she hit the corner of the room, back to wall, and slid down the slow curve of forever gone. The tears came as more of a keening as he continued to tell her all the ways he no longer meant their wedding vows, no longer meant to stay, no longer meant to be the husband he never was to begin with.
She reeled backwards, feeling her heart flip side over side until it cracked just off-center and fell, broken, into the pit of her stomach. She reeled backwards as her stomach reeled, turning upside down again and again as she remembered the taste of their wedding cake, the laugh in her heart, the curve of his face as they danced around and around and around again.
And then with a parting shot, with one last echoed “no” he was gone, the door slam a staccato period on the life she wanted. He was gone, taking with him the dreams of her tomorrow, the hopes of her yesterday, and the heart of her today.
He was gone.
It was a slow process.
Posted on | September 14, 2011 | 53 Comments
My Ex husband wants to start dating.
No, that’s not entirely true.
My Ex-husband wants to start dating… me.
I’m at a loss. I don’t know what the right answer is to any of this. I spent the better part of the last six months wondering what I did to make him stop loving me, what I did to encourage him to leave. I spent that time thinking if only he would love me again, the world would make sense… if only he would come home, we could be a family.
Our divorce was final just over a month ago.
I sat in a courtroom with two other couples, and sobbed brokenly into a wad of tissues, helpfully handed to me by the bailiff. I made my attorney tear up with the weight of my sobs. My friend who accompanied me for moral support, sobbed in the front row. It was not a celebration, it was a funeral. I said goodbye to my marriage in a series of quick “Yesses” in answer to the curt questioning from my attorney. I said goodbye to my marriage.
And then my Ex picked up J to take him for the weekend. I had ordered pizza for my brother and I to have for dinner and it arrived while he was putting the carseat in his car. The delivery man mistakenly thought we were a family. “Good timing,” he joked, trying to hand my pizzas to my ex. The dog barked and started outside and my Ex told him no, shooing him back inside and making small talk with the delivery man. It was as though we had fallen back through time, fallen back into being “he and I” and “I and him.” We were momentarily a family. And then he leaned in close and whispered to me that I looked nice before he disappeared down the driveway with our son. He texted me all weekend, saying he missed me, saying he still loved me. He told me he wanted to try again, wanted to try to be a family, wanted things to be different.
And I am lost all over again, wondering how to find my way through this new maze he is creating. I am lost, wondering if I have the strength to tell him no and equally unsure if I have the strength to try again.
I am lost.
Posted on | September 13, 2011 | 34 Comments
I don’t talk politics normally.
I don’t go into my beliefs or ideas about life and love and government. Mostly I leave all of that to the rest of you because you say it better than I would and because I’m hesitant to offend anyone.
But my home state, the great state of North Carolina, is about to do something so … stupid… that I feel the need to talk about it. See, out of all the states in the Southeast United States, North Carolina is the only state that does not have a ban on gay marriage in their constitution. Read that sentence again… it doesn’t ban gay marriage in the constitution. Are you getting that clearly? It doesn’t say gay marriage is awesome and everyone has to do it, it simply says nothing about the issue. Sort of like it doesn’t say that everyone has to get married or that everyone has to go to the Baptist church on Sunday or that everyone has to own a home with a green front door.
There are just some things that the government shouldn’t have a say in. There are just some things that no one should have a say in … other than the people it directly affects.
Why does it bother anyone what other people do with their own love lives? The last time I checked, we are the land of the free. The last time I checked, we have the right to decide who we love and whether we marry that person. We get to decide if we have children and how many and we even get to decide how we choose to raise those children, within reason. We have the freedom to make our own choices.
And if I have the right to choose who I marry then why does that choice come with a limit? Does the government impose other limits on our personal lives? And I mean PERSONAL lives… things that do not affect or harm anyone else. Are we restricted in the number of times we can have sex? Are we told when and how to bathe? Are we given strict guidelines on what we can name our children?
Of course not. Of course not. And we would be appalled if anyone tried to pass that kind of law. Imagine if your state started debating a constitutional amendment that said from here on out, no one can have sex with anyone who does not have the same eye color and hair color as they have. Your loving state representative tells you that this is because infidelity rates are high and people will be less inclined to cheat if they run the risk of being discovered through the genetics of their children. Further, they tell you, it will perpetuate the melting pot look that our country is going for. We don’t want a homogenized society, after all, we’d like to look like a home for all cultures.
It sounds ridiculous, right? It sounds like something you would laugh at and would expect to have laughed out of the assembly room before it ever made it into an actual amendment.
But how is that different than the crazed reasoning behind these same-sex marriage bans? They sound a lot like one group of people trying to dictate what the entire country should and should not be able to do. Are there health reasons behind these bans? No. Are there safety issues behind the bans? Not at all. The only thing bolstering these bans into place is fear, hatred, and narrow-mindedness. And for those of you who would quote the Bible to me, I remind you to judge not lest ye be judged.
Sin is sin, folks, and God doesn’t differentiate between a spot of sin caused by murder and a spot of sin caused by hating your fellow man. Sin is sin. So don’t parade your self-righteous, judgmental, hate-filled selves into my home and tell me how to live my life. I believe in God. I believe that he created all. men. equal. All of us. And if we’re all equal and God doesn’t make mistakes, then God knew what he was doing when he created every single one of us. Even those of us who love differently. Even those of us who love women when the world tells us to love men, and who love men when the world tells us to love women. We are all equal. And if that love doesn’t injure an innocent person, if that love doesn’t do anything other than make you uncomfortable, then I say YOU are the one with the problem.
If we stand on the principle that we’re all equal, then we all deserve equal rights.
And that includes the right to stand up, before God, and pledge an eternity to the spouse of your choice. Regardless of what they use to pee with.
Not having a ban on same-sex marriage doesn’t mean that everyone has to marry someone of the same sex. Not having a ban on same-sex marriage simply means that the government has decided not to wind it’s fingers into the private lives and loves of it’s population.
And that is a very good thing.
So buck up, North Carolina. Embrace the differences in your population. Love your constituents for who they are, not for who they love or who you expect them to be. Not having a ban doesn’t mean you accept gay marriage… it just means you don’t condemn it.
And condemnation? Well, that’s a sin in and of itself, isn’t it.keep looking »