Saying Goodbye to the Baby

Posted on | September 12, 2011 | 7 Comments

This weekend, I disassembled J’s crib.

You know, the one I bought at the consignment sale when I was only four months pregnant?  I went out there with a co-worker and right inside the door, there was this white wood crib.  The only way to secure purchasing it was to stand there with my hand touching it at all times.  There were only five cribs being sold that day, so I stood there with four other mothers to be and grandmothers, each of us holding onto our crib for dear life.  Finally, the worker came by and marked the crib mine and I was free to browse through the rest of the sale.  In a room off the main room, I stumbled across a glider with the same white wooden slats and I bought that as well.  Both were mine for under $150.00.

It took three men the better part of an hour to disassemble it when we moved from our little Macon house to Savannah and then took my ex and I the better part of two hours to put it back together again in the Savannah apartment.  When J and I returned to Macon, it was put together by the movers who somehow did it wrong and the side stopped lowering the way it was supposed to.  But still J slept in it, from the time the mattress sat so high that I could lay him down without bending until he could stand up and grip the rails and bounce on the mattress while yelling to “Get up, Mommy!”

That $100 crib saw a baby grow into a little boy.  It watched curls wind their way around his head, growing long over the ears and onto the collars of his pajamas.  It watched him go from sleeping on his back to sleeping however he landed.  It stood there and let him gnaw on the bars, bounce on the springs, and shake the railing until one of the screws almost came loose and I spent several mornings just tightening things back into place.

On Saturday, I disassembled that crib for the last time.

I carefully unscrewed and unbolted.  I carefully lifted piece after piece and laid it against the wall in the hallway.  And then, when there was just one screw left to remain, it all fell apart.  Bending and breaking into an unsalvagable mess of what used to be my son’s bed. 

My brother and I carted it outside to lay against the garbage can, making room in the chocolate brown bedroom for a full-size mattress and box springs with car pattern sheets. 

It looks like a little boy’s room now.

It looks like there is no more baby living in my house.

Last night, J slept in his big bed for the first time.  He was so excited to pull the cars sheets up around his chin and lay his curls against the fluffy square of a pillow.  As he snuggled beneath the light blue blanket he paused and looked up at me.

“Momma, too?”

I happily curled into bed with him, letting toddler feet kick at my back and legs until he drifted to sleep.  Then, when he was fast asleep, I cradled him close, breathing in the soft smell of him and remembering another night, not so very long ago, when we both lay in that same room, in a different bed.  I remembered how I was scared to move, scared to breathe, scared that somehow he would disappear if I closed my eyes.  Oh how different things are, now.

He slept there, in his big boy bed, with his ever-growing longer legs, and his mop of curls.  He slept soundly, oblivious to the world around him, not needing me for nearly as much as he had… on that not so long ago night.  He would have slept there all night, tucked in to his new bed, and it would not have bothered him if I had slipped out and returned to my own room and my own bed.

But I, in my selfish moment of motherly need, slept there with him.  Tucked between my not-so-little baby and the bed rail meant to keep him safe.

Single Successes

Posted on | September 10, 2011 | 8 Comments

This week was so short that I totally forgot it was Friday until suddenly… it was Friday!   And now it’s Saturday and I still didn’t manage to post my Single Success post yesterday but you’ll all forgive me because it’s the weekend and that’s what weekends are for.  Or Something.

This week was tough because it lead up to Visitation Weekend, which is always hard on my heart.  I know that I need the time away from Jude to recharge my batteries, but seeing him pull out of the driveway is never easy.

So today is Saturday, which means take three of my yard sale attempt.  The first two times, as you may remember, I managed to list the damn thing in the wrong damn county.  This time I made sure to put it in the RIGHT county, so if no one shows up this time, I’m considering it a sign from God that I should not sell my baby stuff just yet. As I sat here, waiting on my co-worker who graciously agreed to come be Shirley to my Laverne, I started thinking about all the great stuff that happened this week… all the things that fell into place… and I decided that even though Saturdays are usually not blogging days, I’ld make an exception for a Success post.  So here goes:

1.  I did not kill anyone this week.  This may sound like a small thing, but honestly, I’m pretty proud of this fact.  There were some dicey moments at work where I thought my head would explode and yet I managed to smile and nod and not be noticeably ruffled in any way.  Success.

2. I got asked out on a date.  Yes. You read that right.  A date.  It’s tentatively scheduled for today at 2:30 but I told him I just wasn’t sure I’m ready to date yet.  He’s very nice and seems to understand my situation which certainly helps.  But the crucial point is… I got asked out on a date.  Which means that my life as a woman is not categorically over after marriage.  And learning that is a HUGE success.

3. Of course I have to mention the patio… again.  But come on, that was big.  And I did it all by myself! For the most part… with a nod to the guys at Lowe’s who helped load all the blocks and sand and a big high five to my two year old sand smoother.

4. I hung two more sets of vertical blinds, completing the front side of the house with the exception of the room my brother is currently sleeping in because he likes the pull down shade because maybe, just maybe, he’s a vampire who sleeps all day.  (Just kidding about the vampire part, he’s awesome.  And totally needs a law job. Anyone got one to spare?)

So that rounds out my week.  Overall, this was a pretty big week for me and I plan on this weekend being full of a successful (fingers crossed) yard sale, possibly a girls night in tonight, and maybe even purchasing a “big boy” bed for my steadily getting bigger little boy.

And lest you think I forgot, yes, tomorrow is 9/11.  I can’t talk about it.  It’s everywhere on the news and in people’s minds.  Me not talking about it doesn’t mean I don’t care or that I’m not thinking about what was lost that day…. me not talking about it simply means I have nothing to add to the discussion other than a silent prayer and the hope that we can remember our similarities, celebrate our differences, and come together once again as a nation worth believing in.

And also? Happy Birthday, tomorrow, Alex! Enjoy your fish… 😉

How to Raise a Child

Posted on | September 8, 2011 | 13 Comments

Everyone and their grandmother’s second cousin has an opinion on how to properly raise a child.  And those opinions start cropping up the minute you announce to the world that you’re expecting.

“Don’t eat too much dairy or your child will have a milk allergy!”

“If you want your child to be smart, play Mozart into your stomach!”

By the time the baby actually arrives, you are so full of mostly-useless information and ridiculously over-priced “necessities” that you never actually use that there’s almost no room left in your mind or home for what is actually important.  On Saturday morning, I am holding a yard sale and I am selling … everything.  The mechanized swing, the bouncy seat, the acres of clothes, and toys, and socks… oh my LORD the socks.  I have enough baby stuff in this house to run a small but profitable nursery out of the back room. I have so many 0-2T clothes that I wonder when J ever had enough time to wear them.

I was so concerned with having everything I needed… the right thermometers, the right bottles, the proper pacifiers… that I let myself get lost and carried away in the madness of baby.  But here’s the thing… they are only babies for such a very small amount of time.  And then they grow, and learn, and the expensive swing is collecting dust in the corner while the bouncy seat becomes a chair for a stuffed bear.  They outgrow the ridiculously overpriced Baby Gap clothes and Stride Rite shoes.  They bend and break and rip the books and dolls and stuffed animals.

All of the things I thought I needed to care for my child are stacked neatly in the corner of my front room, priced and sorted and ready to sell.  He is two years old.  He has his entire life ahead of him.  He will one day look back on his childhood and never remember any of these toys and trinkets and time occupiers.  And so I box and mark and ready them for sale, wondering what other nonsense items I’m currently coveting or purchasing or whining about.

I wonder what I will be selling in six months or a year, or even two.

I wonder what advice I am clinging to that will never amount to anything.

People often give me the stink eye about the way I raise my child.  My boss told me I wasn’t doing J any favors by not spanking him.  My co-workers think the fact that J sleeps in my bed is strange.  And don’t get me started on the looks I get at the grocery store due to the fact that I keep up a running commentary with him on what we’re doing, buying, seeing or smelling.

Am I doing it right? Absolutely.  For me and for my child.  Would my way be right for anyone else? Probably not.  Because the secret is to do what is best for you and your family.  There’s no secret “right” way.  There’s no trick to learn, no lesson to repeat.  There is no class you can take that will ever properly prepare you to be a parent.

Oh but when I was pregnant, all of that mattered.  I wanted to do this right: I wanted all the right tools to raise my son the right way.  I wasn’t going to let him sleep in my bed.  I certainly wasn’t going to let him dictate when and where I went to sleep; he would follow MY routine.  I was going to raise him “right.”

And then he came and on day one he announced to me and to my heart that there was 100% no right way to raise him other than whatever way I chose to do it.  I didn’t need the matching Fisher Price Rainforest set of chairs and bells and whistles.  I didn’t need the fancy pack ‘n play that played music and vibrated.  I didn’t need the high priced monitor or the “mommy sounds” doll or crib bumpers or head stabilizers or whatever crazy idea someone planted in my head.

To raise a child, you just have to love them.  Fully.  Totally.  Completely.  And be willing to let yourself go, to love with abandon the little people they become.  Yes, you have to be the parent.  Yes, you have to make the tough decisions and tough calls and yes, you will make that little face crumple on occasion by the weight of your disapproval or the tone of your “no.”  But if, above all else, you love them?  Well, then everything else falls into place… even if that place isn’t a high-priced, hand-carved, converts to a toddler bed shaped like the letters of their name, crib… with a matching rocking chair and dresser.

Holding Patterns

Posted on | September 8, 2011 | 3 Comments

You know how airplanes circle the airport before they’re allowed to land? You get to where you’re supposed to be and then for whatever reason… too many planes on the tarmac, too much bad weather, or just a lazy air traffic controller… you find yourself hovering just above where you ought to be for an extended period of time that you just did not plan for.

That’s where I find myself these days, hovering just on the brink of where I’m supposed to be… whererever that is.  I took the leap, I signed the papers he wanted signed and divvyed up the property he wanted to split.  I launched myself out into open air, with a toddler and an enormous  backpack full of debt and I let some sort of unknown flight plan take over.  Back to Macon, back where the house was, back where I knew the area, knew the people, knew myself.

And we did head back.  I found a new job, I got J back into his old daycare, we moved our things slowly but surely into their old places in our old familiar house.

I am here but I am not.  I am circling above, staring down at the life I should be living and wondering when it is that I will feel the jolt of touchdown.  As long as I hover here, watching life unfold beneath me, I am suspended in time.  I am neither divorced nor married.  I am neither alone nor apart.

I am just waiting.  Sitting above the void of acceptance, too scared to let my feet settle in the unfamiliar soil.  As long as I hover, I can pretend there is a return flight; I can believe that at some point all of this will change… he will come back, he will change, we will be a family again.  Until landing, there is always the belief that maybe, just maybe, you’ll have to turn the plane around and head back from whence you came.

And so I hover, inching closer to the truth but not quite accepting it. 

I cook and clean and work my job.  I paint the walls and landscape the yard.  I do it all with a flip of my hair and thrown back shoulders, watching, always watching from the corner of my eye to see if he has noticed.  I work until my hands bleed, until my head aches and my body collapses, hoping that if I try harder, if I can just show him that I’m fine without him, he will want to come home.

I tell myself I am fine.

I tell myself I have accepted this life I’m living.

I tell myself that I have landed… but the truth of the matter is, I am still circling.  Still waiting for clearance from myself to stop burning at both ends and simply settle. 

I am still waiting.

Invisible

Posted on | September 7, 2011 | 6 Comments

Lately, I’ve started to embrace my invisibility.

When I was younger and better put together, I didn’t like to blend in.  I wanted to stand out, be noticed, be friends with all the best people and go to all the best parties.  I wasn’t content with mediocrity; I wasn’t content with being a face in the crowd.

I wore bright clothes and bright make up.  I said witty things and danced whenever I heard music.  I invited people over, had parties, made friends, and well… tried to influence people.  And then I got married and my husband wasn’t much of an entertainer.  He used to tell me that having parties at our house stressed him out… he didn’t like all the prep work, the cooking and cleaning that I would do to get things ready.  So we stopped entertaining.

And slowly, I slid into the obscurity I never wanted.  The phone stopped ringing, the emails quit coming in.  No one stopped by to visit or showed up unannounced.  No one planned trips to come and stay the weekend.

My days that were once filled with lunch dates and clever email exchanges became just days… full of law and laundry and macaroni and cheese.  My nights that were once full of laughter and music became full of priority television shows and then slowly, even those faded away, leaving me in a quiet house with a sleeping child, and no one on the other end of anything.

I have become invisible.  I have faded into the wallpaper of my former friends’ lives, a dusty flower pattern of “maybe we should… no, nevermind.” I am the last to be called, the last to be remembered, the last to be thought of.  Once upon a time, I thought all of that mattered.  I thought that being important and thought of and well liked was what really and truly mattered.

And you know what? I was right.  It does.  It does matter.  What I didn’t get before is that it isn’t the concept of being important that isn’t important… it’s who you are important to.

I am important to my son.  When he gets excited and wants to scream, he yells “I LOVE MY MOMMY” at the top of his lungs.  When he falls down, he wants me there… when he does something good, he wants to share it with me.  I am important to my child.  And he is the most important person to me.

So maybe my phone doesn’t ring as often as it used to.  Maybe my emails are more likely to be spam than actual letters from friends.  But to the people who really matter to me, I am still important.

And for that reason, I’m becoming quite content with my slow fade into invisibility.  Because truthfully, I am only now invisible to the people who never really saw me in the first place.

Just a note, Nick Jr…. a “friendly” note…

Posted on | September 6, 2011 | 24 Comments

Dear Nick Jr.:

I normally love you but not today. 

See, in the mornings, at 6:30, we watch The Fresh Beat Band.  J looks forward to it and it gives me time to get dressed.  He wakes up and says “Get up? Watch Fresh Beat?” SO WHERE WAS THE FRESH BEAT BAND THIS MORNING, NICK JR? I can not give my stamp of approval to this new programming thing you’ve got going on because we thrive on routine at my house and you are cramping our style. 

Yes, I know, I should be Mary freaking Poppins and be able to get myself showered, dressed, coiffed, fed and looking sparkly like a damn Cullen without the use of television.  Yes, I get that.  But YOU try doing all that while entertaining a two year old without a second set of hands at 6:30 in the morning without coffee.  Seriously, go try it.  I’ll wait right here for the sound of you screaming.

I’ll admit that I hated the Fresh Beat Band when I first saw it and wanted to beat you in the face for bringing it into my house.  But it’s grown on me, primarily because J loves it so very much and can sit perfectly still for an entire episode, just watching and announcing “He is SILLY!” over and over.  So I’m sorry that I ever cursed you for those crazy outfits and strange episodes.  Please allow me to take it all back because it is very hard to get dressed in the mornings when there is no Fresh Beat Band followed by Oswald.  I can not look my best for work nor is there time for me to make my lunch.  Thus, my dear Nick Jr., you cost me a pretty face and lunch money today… and let’s not go into my hair.  You are lucky that Starbucks stepped in this morning with a Pumpkin Spice Latte accompanied by friendly 65 degree weather outside courtesy of Tropical Storm Lee.  Because honestly, Nick Jr? Before all that happened, I was NOT a happy camper.

I’m gonna need you to put everything back the way it was, STAT.  No more of this crazy nonsense about swapping programming.  My kid needs his Kiki, Marina, Twist and Shout and he needs it at 6:30 in the morning.  So please put things back before I have to shave my head and resort to wearing pajamas to work.

Thanks.

No, really, thanks. A lot.  

Jerks.

Patio!

Posted on | September 5, 2011 | 9 Comments

For those of you who missed the final product on facebook… I’m pretty proud of how it turned out!

 

 

Single Successes

Posted on | September 2, 2011 | 7 Comments

I’ve bailed on remembering what successes I had the last few weeks because I was having a hard time seeing the forest for the trees… the big, nasty, old and scary trees… but my horizon is clearing up a bit and I’d like to pick up where I left off.

This week hasn’t been perfect and I’ve certainly had some ups and downs.  But there were some big highlights to the week and since it’s Friday, I think we should focus on those!

1. I started creating a patio area in the back corner of my yard… all by myself.  I planted two shade plants and dug the hole for the pavers to go.  I laid the stepping stones but haven’t had the money to buy the actual pavers for the patio.  So it’s slow going, but it’s going!

2. I got a bonus at work.  Which isn’t exactly a success of my own accord, but it certainly makes paying the bills all that much easier!

3. I cooked on Sunday, polenta, quinoa, and a giant loaf of banana bread, and J and I have eaten off of those, chicken fingers and mac ‘n cheese every day!

So yeah… it’s not amazing stuff, but we’re making it work every day.  And that’s what matters… making it work.  Every day.

What was great about your week, other than just the fact that we all survived and are facing a LONG weekend? 🙂

Untitled

Posted on | August 31, 2011 | 12 Comments

There’s a moment in my day, every day, when I look for my husband.

The moment varies; sometimes it’s in the morning when I wake up, sometimes it’s in the evening when I get home from work.  Some days I think I hear his voice, singing from the shower and on some days I think I catch a glimpse of him in the mirror behind me.

Being divorced and living in the house we lived in together is so hard.  I have painted the walls and swapped the bedrooms.  I have changed bathrooms and rearranged the furniture.  I have done everything I know to do to make this my space… separate from him… but still he appears.

I shouldn’t be surprised, it’s only been four months since he was a part of our lives.  It’s been just over a year since we were both here together in this house. He is still everywhere… on the other end of the phone, on Skype, on text, on voice mail and email, and even in the smile of our son.  He is still so very much a part of our lives.  I wish I could say that it’s getting easier.  I wish I could say that I don’t still have moments where I want to call him and beg him to come home and to start everything over again.

I wish I could say that I’m getting closer to being okay.

But I am not quite past the moments that come full speed at my heart, screaming at me to call and beg him to come home.  I am just not over him.  Not yet.  Not today.

Divorce doesn’t come with any sort of life-back guarantee, does it? It doesn’t magically make anything any better or easier or different. My heart wasn’t magically restored by the sweeping signature of an unknown judge.  No… my heart was not restored. My heart is still broken.

I still miss my husband.  I still want him to miss me and J and the life we had together.

I still mourn the loss of what I thought we had.

And when I think I see his reflection in the mirror over my shoulder, my heart still skips a beat, my skin still catches alight, and my soul still yearns for the life I wanted with him.  When a shadow passes behind me, just a shadow in the corner of my heart, I freeze, my eyes close, and I hold my breath… waiting for the touch that never comes.

Parenting is a Tough Gig

Posted on | August 30, 2011 | 10 Comments

I want what is best for my son.

It seems like that should just go without saying when you’re a mother, but the more I read in the news and the more people I meet in my life, the more I think that perhaps I am living in a box.

I want what is best for my son.

Sure, selfishly I’d love nothing more than for my son to be the best looking, tallest, strongest, brightest, and kindest person in his class.  I’d love for him to be without reproach.  I’d love for everyone to look upon him with the same love and respect that I know he deserves.  I’d love for him to quarterback the football team, star on the basketball team, be indispensable in soccer, the lead of the school play, homecoming king, and class president.  I’d love for everyone to love him the way I love him.

Selfishly, I want him to be the most popular, the most well loved, and the most respected person on the planet. Selfishly, I think it would make his life easier.

But more than any of that, I want what is best for my son.

And it’s all about the emphasis, isn’t it?

I can want what is best for MY son, or I can want what is best for my SON.

Ultimately, what matters the most to me is that J is happy with the person he becomes… whoever that person is.  If he’s happy with who he is, I will be happy with who he is.

But J’s happiness comes with a price… it comes with the price of my own unhappiness.  It is easy to give in.  It is easy to be well-liked and the best friend.  It is easier to say “yes” than to say “no;” easier to go along with what he wants than to assert what he needs.  J’s happiness in the person he will become rests on my shoulders.  It depends on me being able to put away the things I want for me and to focus on what he needs for him.   His happiness rests on me taking responsibility, on me understanding that my childhood and teen years are over and my role is now that of mother, not friend.

I love my child with all my heart and dread the days ahead when he thinks I’m a stick in the mud and that I can’t understand anything he’s going through.  I dread the day I overhear him telling his friends that he can’t wait to go to college and be away from me.  I dread the first time he tells me he hates me.

But, more than that, I dread a day when I might look back and realize he never said those things, never felt that way about me, and never wished he could have some other mother.  Because if my son never thinks I’m being unfair, never thinks I’m “cramping his style,” and never wishes I would just. chill. out? Well. If that happens, then I’m not doing my job.

I want my son to be well-liked… but I want him to be well-liked because he is a likable guy.  I want him to be well-liked because he is kind and smart and just flat out amazing.  I don’t want him to be liked because he has a mother who will do the booze runs on Thursdays.  Selfishly, I want what is best for MY son.  I want him to be all the things I think he should be in order to be happy.  But as a parent, my job is to put aside “selfishly” and focus on reality.   And reality is that I have a job to do here, and that job is to raise my son to be a good man.

I will always choose parent over friend when my child is between the ages of 12 and 18.

I will be the embarrassment.

I will be okay with being whispered about behind open palms.

I will be hated and made fun of and whatever else if it means my son lives to a ripe. old. age.

I want what is best for MY son.  I want what is best for my SON.  And even when it won’t seem like it to him…

Sometimes they are the same thing.

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