Posted on | June 17, 2013 | 5 Comments
Father’s Day can be tough when there’s no father around. J and I got up on Sunday morning and tried to pretend it was just any other day. About mid-way through a cartoon, he looked at me and said:
“Mason’s daddy lives in his house with him.”
“That’s a special treat for Mason,” he looked thoughtful for a moment. “I wish my daddy lived in my house.”
And so it begins, I thought, as I pulled him in for a hug.
“But then you wouldn’t live with me, buddy,” I smiled, tousling his hair.
“You could live with daddy. You could both live here.” He wasn’t letting it go this time, not as easily swayed as the times before.
“We tried that, bud, when you were little. It didn’t work out so well.”
“You could try again?” His face was hopeful, alight with ideas and thoughts and feelings I didn’t know how to respond to. I tried to explain to him that it wouldn’t work but he’s three and those words don’t mean much at three. So instead, I took advantage of his age and distracted him with a cheerful:
And we did. A day of fish and sharks and “sea creatures” that did flips and turns and let people ride on their backs was just what we needed. A day of fun and too much money siphoned out of my wallet, and smiles and so many giggles was exactly right. A day that ended with him throwing his arms around me and announcing that he had the best time with me was better than anything I could have imagined for Father’s Day, just two short years ago.
I can’t protect him from his reality. His dad will always live elsewhere, he will always have friends who have dads in their home.
But there’s something to be said for his reality, too. There’s something to be said for a mom and a dad who live apart, who know that they are best and better apart… best at loving their child, better at loving their child.
When I first got divorced, that reality didn’t seem possible. It didn’t seem possible that there would be a time when I would feel that all of this was for the best, that I was best and better without my husband, that J was best and better without his father in our home. When I first got divorced, going to the Georgia Aquarium with only my son on Father’s Day would have felt like slowly dying. It would have felt like drowning in the reality that I was alone, drowning in the thought of always being alone.
But yesterday, it felt like swimming … in all the right ways. It felt like flying solo but in the best and free-est sense of the word.
Yesterday I spent Father’s Day with my son at the Georgia Aquarium. Just the two of us.
And I am best and better for having done so.
Posted on | June 12, 2013 | 4 Comments
This week at J’s school, they are doing Vacation Bible School in the mornings. Apparently, last week there was a note somewhere on some piece of paper that detailed what that would mean for the week.
I missed that note.
Each day of this week calls for a different colored shirt, a different can of food, and increasing amounts of money. Monday was pennies and sadly I missed that day. I don’t actually know what the shirt color was supposed to be for Monday, because I missed that, too. We got most of yesterday right except that it was canned potatoes and seriously? Canned potatoes? That’s a thing? I sent peas.
The problem is, my kid is seriously in line with this whole “Wear the right color shirt” thing. He thinks it’s great. He also loves taking in the canned food and money. So this morning, when I looked at the sheet that I swiped on Monday, it said “Blue shirt, Canned tomatoes, and dimes.”
That sounds like a pretty reasonable day, right? I mean, who doesn’t have a blue shirt and canned tomatoes and dimes?
Yeah. This girl.
I tried to convince J that it didn’t matter and that we could do any color shirt in the world and any canned food but he wasn’t buying it. I found his Carolina shirt in the washing machine and tossed it in the dryer but it wasn’t dry when we needed to leave. There was an epic melt down about how he HAD TO WEAR A BLUE SHIRT AND HAD TO HAVE CANNED TOMATOES.
So I did what any semi-sane parent would do.
I pulled out his Superman pajamas and let him wear that shirt, with the long-sleeves chopped off haphazardly with scissors. And I found a can of V8 juice. Can we all just agree that matching shirts and specific canned foods is a TERRIBLE idea for working parents?!?
Tomorrow is canned meat and a purple shirt.
Apparently I have to go shopping.
Posted on | June 11, 2013 | 2 Comments
I had a pretty rough weekend, I’m not gonna lie. Yes, it was my kid free weekend, but I’d initially had big plans for a weekend getaway and they sort of disintegrated and left me bummed and, well… pissed off about it.
Yesterday I got up determined to bring the sunshine back in my life and set about being as bright and shiny as I could be while, you know, working. I whistled a lot because whistling makes me happy. I listened to The Avett Brothers and
Critter Old Crow Medicine Show, because they make me happy. I texted with friends because, yes, they make me happy, too. And then I went and picked up my child with a smile on my face and a spring in my step.
I’d survived Monday.
I was pretty darn proud of myself.
We got home and I got J’s dinner ready and started my own. Then I happened to look at the back wall of my kitchen.
You guys. It was flat out pregnant with water. Like, bulging out of the wall with a taut belly of nasty brown water that yes, I know it was nasty and brown because I made the smart choice to reach out in wonder and POP the damn bubble and then shriek with the, well, nasty brownness of it. So I’m shrieking about brown water and J is in the kitchen yelling “IS OUR HOUSE GOING TO FALL DOWN?” Which, no, of course not, but also maybe? It sure felt like it.
I called a few people and ended up asking the husband of a friend of mine to come over and help me figure out if there was an active leak that needed to be fixed. Also it was his birthday. Also he came anyway, because I’m so damn blessed to have good friends.
So now there’s sopping wet insulation in the attic, rotting wooden boards in the ceiling rafters, and water behind the lovely green paint of my kitchen, and I’ve filed a claim with my homeowner’s insurance policy, which inexplicably still has my ex-husband’s name on it. Because insult to injury.
So much for winning Mondays….
Posted on | June 10, 2013 | 8 Comments
When my son leaves for visitation weekend, a part of me dies for a few days. I go through the motions, I live and laugh and do all the things I normally do… but part of me is missing. If your child has ever gone away for a while, you know what I mean. You’re whole, but you’re not quite whole.
Yesterday afternoon, I drove about an hour north to meet my ex-in-laws at our designated “pick up point” and wrapped my arms around my son. He was bigger… he always is after a weekend away… and, as always after time away, he had a ton to say about, well… everything. We talked the whole way home and then more at dinner. We chatted through the same episode of Henry Hugglemonster three separate times. We chatted through bath time and most of bedtime and just when I thought he was asleep, I whispered across the room:
“I’m so glad you’re home, buddy.”
It was soft, the words floating lightly on the air and I didn’t expect he would hear them, I just needed to say them. In the half-second that followed, with the whirr of the ceiling fan attempting to blot out the words, he exhaled a soft, almost imperceptible reply:
“I love you, too, Mommy.”
The smile on my face could have lit the house. I knew he couldn’t hear my words, couldn’t run them through the portion of his mind that processed thoughts and words and sentences. He was so close to sleep that his breathing was slow and drowsy and his words poured out like syrup in the room. He couldn’t possibly have heard what I said, or he would have responded with something like “Me too” or his standard “I missed you when you were away.” He couldn’t hear my words…
But he knew what I was saying.
He heard the rise and fall of my voice and he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I must be telling him I loved him. Because I do. Because I do so very much. And though I had thought of slipping out and catching up on television or reading or maybe laundry, I padded back to the space beside of him and curled up for sleep. I’m doing something right. I’m doing something so very very right.
Because even when I’m not saying it, he’s hearing that I love him.
Posted on | June 5, 2013 | 7 Comments
In October, when my friend Jana asked me if I’d like to run a half-marathon with her, I was skeptical at best. I didn’t see myself as the sort of person who put on tennis shoes and ran. I was embarrassed to step foot in the local running store because I was overweight and out of shape and, well, just not the sort of person who goes in running stores. I was not a runner. I did not know runner things.
But I agreed to do it because I’m all about taking on more work to do, and I went through the motions of preparing myself to run that kind of distance. I went to the running store. I bought the clothes and the shoes and I got myself off my desk chair and over to the gym near my office where I set out to prove to myself that even “not the sort of person who runs” could be a runner.
Because it’s true, you know, anyone can be a runner.
I am now in my seventh month of “being a runner.” And yes, I’ve lost some weight, and yes I’ve lost some sizes off the pants label. But running isn’t about losing pounds and inches… not for me.
Running is about losing your inhibitions, losing your doubts, losing your “I just can’t do that.” Even if you only lose them temporarily. Even if you only lose them for the thirty or forty-five or yes, two hours, that your feet are tapping out “yes. you. can.” against the surface of your choice.
When I became a runner, I was a “can not do” kind of person. I couldn’t run a mile without stopping. I couldn’t even dream of wanting to run three miles without stopping. When I became a runner, I was overweight and out of shape not just physically, but mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. When I became a runner, I had nothing holding me together except the threads of can. not. do.
I couldn’t be a good lawyer.
I couldn’t be a good mother.
I obviously couldn’t be a good wife.
I most certainly could not be a runner.
Over the past seven months, running has shaped me into someone else… yes, physically, but more importantly in all the ways that really and truly matter. I am stronger now. Yes, a stronger runner runner, yes… but I am stronger now in every way than I was on October 9th, 2012, when I logged two miles on a treadmill for the first time in several years. Now, when I look in the mirror, I’m not broken or scarred. I’m not divorced or single. I’m just me. I just see me.
And running gave that back to me.
See, when I take those steps, when I am outside and I feel the rise and fall of myself against the pavement, I become someone else… someone better than me. I hear the puff of my exhale in the quiet morning and suddenly I’m not overweight. Suddenly I’m not flawed in any way because dammit I am running. I am light and life and I am dancing in every way because I just took that last step. I am the only one who made the movements steady and repetitive until my watch beeps out a minute, or five minutes, or an hour. I am the champion who crossed that line in my mind that used to say “no you can’t” and I crossed it with a loud and reverberating YES I CAN.
I am proud to be a runner.
I am proud to believe that I can be invincible.
I am proud to remember that I can be perfection.
Even if it’s just for thirty minutes.
Today is National Running Day. And in honor of that let me tell you that even if you think you can’t, you absolutely can.
Because I am now a runner… and I know runner things.
Posted on | June 4, 2013 | 1 Comment
This morning, I was on the telephone with my mom and we talked, among other things, about the the things she wished she’d been able to talk to her father about. She mentioned several of the things she just didn’t know the answers to, several things that she wished she’d had the time to ask questions about… the time to sit in his mind for a while, soak in his dreams and hopes and fears. I wish my grandparents had been writers; I’d love to read what they had to say about their lives before they had time to whitewash it all in their memories.
I have the time, stretching out ahead of me, to ask questions and hear the answers from my mother and my father… and I hope that my son does, too. But I realized, suddenly, that what I’m really doing here, what I’m actually putting out for the world to read and judge… are my own stories. I am writing the stories I hope my son will want to read… someday. I am writing the thoughts and feelings and emotions that maybe my grandchildren… maybe their children… will read and laugh at, will read and despise, will read and smile.
For my whole life, I’ve written stories and tucked them away because they weren’t good enough to share. For my whole life I’ve been trying to find the words to give birth to someone else’s story, someone else’s life and times and heartache. I’ve written and re-written, crossed out and highlighted, and I’ve never been satisfied with what was left over… not satisfied enough to put my name on it and send it out into the world. But here in this space, I have told and retold the stories of my heart. I have wept and smiled and laughed my way through the first months of J’s life and on and through my devastation at the loss of a marriage I never truly had.
Here in this space, I have told the stories of my life, the stories of my mind and soul, the hopes for my future and the heartaches of my past. Here, I have painted landscapes stretching out into the darkest corners of my loneliness, lighting myself afire with passion for the world I want to see, the world I hope to one day see expanding before me. Here I have written my stories… here I have shared my stories… with you, with myself, with the future selves who may wish and hope and dream alongside me.
Here I have written my stories. Here I will write my stories.
Because our stories are all we have of ourselves… all that we can share and leave behind… whether good or bad, drama or comedy. And I hope, fervently, that my life will always be a story worth writing… even if I’m only writing to myself.
Posted on | June 3, 2013 | 9 Comments
When you’ve been wounded, it takes awhile for the pain to subside. And even when the pain is gone, a scar remains… a thin reminder of the hell you survived, a jagged line of what once was and what will be. It never goes away, though it might fade a little with the passing of time, becoming a soft, raised mountain of memories that only you can see.
Divorce left me wounded in ways I didn’t realize.
The pain is long gone. The pain I once felt at just the word “divorce” is now the barest memory in the back of my mind. I can talk to my ex-husband almost as the friend he once was. We are Facebook friends now and we carry on civil conversations about everything from visitation to music we like. The pain of divorce is gone.
But in it’s place is a criss-crossed scar across the whole of me.
I find I am hesitant and tentative to trust my heart with anyone. I find that at the barest hint of something more, I am the first one out the door and half way to the other side of some proverbial mountain. I find that when a guy tells me he likes me, he’s interested in me, or even just that I’m pretty, my first instinct is to horror-movie-scream and Scooby Doo run (you know, where it makes the sound and smoke flies out but you don’t actually go anywhere? That.)
I am not willing to compromise. I am not willing to forget. I am not willing to rush head-long and carefree into anything with anyone. The raised, bumpy line across my heart reminds me that people change, that people wound and break and devastate. It whispers in my ear that the people you love, the people you think will never hurt you, do the most damage. The white, stretched, patchwork of my soul reminds me that I was once broken, I was once battered and abused and left for dead… and though I am whole and moving and oh-so-alive, I am still but a patchwork soul. I am not the girl I once was. I will never be that girl again. And now, I carry the burden of not just myself, but the sweet and tender soul of my little boy, who depends on me to make the right choices for him, the best decisions… for him. It is a heavy burden to tote around on first or second dates. And when I look around at the landscape of my life, at the things that spin and twirl and tick together to form the clockwork of everyday, I wonder if it’s a burden I will ever share with anyone again.
Because the pain of divorce is gone.
But oh how the scar remains.
Posted on | May 30, 2013 | 4 Comments
I have so much to say.
I have so little time to say it in.
When you think that your life is moving along at a perfect speed, something always changes. Something always takes you by surprise, changing your footsteps, changing your direction, changing your frame of mind.
My frame of mind has been changed.
Everything is spinning but in all the ways I forgot were important. Everything is sunshine and smiles and miles pounded out on the pavement. I am losing weight. I am happy. I am well-adjusted. When I wake in the morning, I am pleased and proud to wake up in the house I call my own with the little boy who calls me his.
I am whole and complete and sound of mind and body and spirit.
I have so little time to say these things which need to be said, the thoughts and words and ideas which ache and pound and beg to be spoken.
Bare with me. It will spin itself into webs of words one day soon. When there is time. When there is less clutter to sort through.
Just know that life? Life is beautiful. Even when it so very isn’t. Even when you think you’ve got miles and miles of free fall left to weather.
Life is beautiful.
I have so much to say.
Posted on | May 28, 2013 | 9 Comments
I have to admit that I was dreading the three day weekend
We had no plans, no where to go, no play dates scheduled or set up and nothing new to play with. We’re on a budget that was on its last leg so that ruled out trips to, well, anywhere that cost money, and our food supply consisted of PB&J and veggie hot dogs. Every time I thought about three days alone with my rambunctious child, I wanted to cry.
It isn’t that I don’t love him and love spending time with him… it’s just that… 36 hours is a long time to single-handedly entertain a three year old. He’s stopped napping, he doesn’t go to sleep at a reasonable hour unless I’m lying beside him, and I’ve put a limit on the minutes of television that can be watched in one day. So yeah… facing three whole days was not making me feel like a shiny happy person.
Regardless, Saturday morning came and J woke up and nuzzled close to me with a grin. His eyes were barely open but he still loudly announced that “THIS IS A STAY HOME DAY AND THEN TWO MORE” and I had to smile. See, for all that I dread coming up with activities to keep him engaged and entertained, he is equally excited just to have three days of my company. He was thrilled just to spend 36 (waking) hours next to me, being a part of my space and a part of my every day.
I can’t say we didn’t struggle through many, MANY moments this weekend.
I can’t say that I wish every weekend was a three day weekend for me, alone with J.
But once I stopped trying so hard to entertain him and just started enjoying him we had a lot more fun. I think sometimes I feel like he’s only going to have fun if he’s out and about. Like I have to find top dollar entertainment because who could possibly enjoy kicking a red Olivia ball back and forth in the yard for an hour? Who could possibly want to spend thirty minutes drawing with chalk and then thirty more minutes blowing on the drawings to make them disappear? Only, obviously, a three year old would. A three year old does. As long as I am there, too.
This weekend was a nice reminder that what matters to J is just that I’m there… even if we’re eating PB&J for the third time in three days. Even when we’re sitting on an old mattress pad for a blanket on the back patio and blowing homemade bubbles that just didn’t quite make, well, bubbles. Even when we’re doing absolutely, positively nothing of any consequence. What matters to him is what should matter to me… we’re together, just the two of us.
For three whole days.
Posted on | May 23, 2013 | 9 Comments
I know a lot of divorced moms.
It’s a bonus of writing about, well, BEING a divorced mom and mostly I’ve really enjoyed getting to know these amazing women and celebrating in their accomplishments post marriage. But one of the drawbacks has been that thing that all women deal with… competition. Only with most of the women I know, it’s not so much of a competition as it is me feeling on occasion that there was a “how to handle divorce” memo that never made its way to me. See, the majority of the women I know who got divorced around the same time as me, are in serious relationships.
Some have already remarried.
Some are getting engaged.
Some are just happily tied to another person without any need for rings of any kind.
Me? I am still just me.
Sure, I’ve been out on dates. Sure, I’ve spent a few weeks or months here or there alongside a guy or two (not at the same time), but no one has really set up shop in my life or my heart. No one has made it impossible for me to say “no thank you” and move along. And I’ll admit, I went through a hell storm process of thinking I needed that to establish that I was desirable post-divorce, that I was still attractive and still someone that men would even want to date. I went through the online dating thing (gag… sorry… just NOT for me) and the look at every man’s ring finger thing, and even the “why don’ t my friends set me up” thing … but those all passed. And now I find myself in an unfamiliar yet oh so happy place of being, just… well… comfortable. I am comfortable with being single.
I am comfortably single.
I have a routine that works for J and I. I have a job that works for J and I. I have a life that just flat out works for J and I.
And it’s so comfortable that I balk at disrupting it. It’s so comfortable that I wonder if there’s ever going to be anyone who makes me WANT to shake things up… someone who would make me agree to shell out the money for a babysitter and spend hours away from the life I’ve grown accustomed to.
Don’t get me wrong, it would be nice, I think, in some ways. I would love for someone to fit seamlessly into this life we’ve created, causing no ripples or waves or currents of destruction. But I’m just not so sure it’s possible. I worry that a third person would stand out like a sore thumb, the awkward angled addition that isn’t really all that necessary to the little family I love… the little family of me and J.
I am just so comfortable with being alone with my family.
I am comfortable with my life as it stands, as it ticks by, as it whirls and swirls around me in fits of little boy shoes and day after day of Popsicles and Lunchables on the front porch. I’m comfortable with who I am, with where I am, and even, on most days with what I look like. I am just… comfortable.
I think it’ll take someone pretty amazing to get me out of this comfort zone and honestly? I’m not sure he exists.
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