Posted on | October 31, 2013 | 4 Comments
My Facebook this morning is cloaked in perfectly carved pumpkins, perfectly costumed babies, adorably smiling children in matching shirts or outfits, and the faint smell of “Dude, I rocked Halloween, see?”
On my page, you will see nothing.
That’s because we carved pumpkins like three weeks ago, put them on the porch because that’s where they belong, and then threw them away two days later because it’s Georgia and they basically super rotted in 24 hours. I have a “fall” wreath that I bought a few years ago but I couldn’t find it, so there’s nothing on my door to mark any season at all. This morning, J woke up in a pissed off mood, despite the fact that I oh-so-cleverly put a left over cupcake on a plate and called it breakfast. He whined straight through his shower, complained that his clothes hurt his body, and told me that school is stupid and he hates it.
Before we left, I noticed that J had peed all over the seat of the toilet… and I left it there. There are clothes in the dryer that need to be folded and clothes in the washer that need to be dried and my floors are screaming for a mop to touch them, just once. You know… just like every other day in my life. Nothing special here.
We were running so late that J was in the drop off line, meaning I couldn’t walk in with him like I normally do, and when his teacher threw open the door and exclaimed “Happy Halloween!” he merely grunted and looked at her like she was nuts.
I made it to work where no one is dressed up except a lone paralegal who has on glowing blue horns, though she may wear them daily… I don’t know. I just don’t pay that kind of attention these days. You know, because I’m overworked and have pee on my toilet seat I can’t be bothered to clean.
We are planning to go Trick or Treating tonight with two of J’s friends from his old school. Last year, I was super excited about J’s costume and had spent a lot of time deciding what he’d be. This year, he announced he wanted to be Spiderman, and we picked up an on sale costume at Target. I volunteered to bring dinner, which last year maybe would have been something creative and adorable, but this year will be pizza. From Little Caesars.
Life goes on, ya know? I just don’t have time for jack-o-lantern shaped pancakes, do-it-yourself fancy wreaths, or special treats for the classroom. So Happy Halloween, from the girl with nothing to show for it except a kid who will bathe in sugar tonight and wake up in an equally foul mood tomorrow. We do LIFE around here, not holidays.
Posted on | October 24, 2013 | No Comments
J started sleeping in his own bed after what seemed like centuries of tucking himself beneath the covers of my queen sized bed and taking up an inordinate amount of space for a small person. We bought a night light that spins stars up onto the ceiling and he would take glow sticks to bed like a mini-raver, twirling and throwing them up into the dark.
Every night at 7:30, we walk down the hall and crawl into his bed with a “finding book” or sometimes, when Mommy prevails, an actual book with a story, and snuggle together to read (or find). When reading is over, the lights go out, the stars come on, and in less time than it takes for me to read a chapter on my iPhone or count to 400, he is sleeping soundlessly beside of me, one arm curled above his head and one leg tucked uncomfortably below my knees. Sometimes, I creep out for television or house work or a few more chapters of whatever novel I’m knee deep in at the moment. Sometimes, I throw in a load of laundry or dust the furniture or play with the dogs.
And sometimes, I just lie there, staring up at the tapestry of lights and memorizing the way he is at that exact moment. Memorizing the dimples and curls and bruises, the scars and scuffs and dirty fingernails. Sometimes, I lie there and watch him embrace sleep with the ferocity of a four year old: fully and completely with reckless abandon. He sleeps hard, burrowing down against the mattress as though it will one day swallow him whole and he will have to pull himself out, piece by piece, to find the sheets again. I love the fifteen minutes it takes him to fall into dreams… the sweet toss and turn, the “I just need to tell you one important thing” that invariably means he wants to share what he had for snack at school, or tell me some random fact he might have made up about this or that animal. So many times, we are rushing… to or from school or church or the store. So much time is spent going and going and going and I look out into our future and realize that these small moments are going to be harder find. When he’s fifteen, and his legs wind longer and sturdier, he will no longer need to tuck them beneath my kneecaps to fall asleep. When he’s sweat drenched from soccer or football or basketball or band practice, he will not want me to sit beside him at the tub and hear about his day or play pirates with the bubbles.
So for now, I bask in the fifteen minutes. I bathe myself in his surrender to sleep, in his curl and clench of hands and fingers and mind. And when I hear the pound and patter of his feet in the hallway, marking the trail from his room to mine, sometimes I don’t care that it wakes me up at one or two or three o’clock in the morning. I pull back the sheet and wait for him to climb up into my bed, tucking his feet beneath my knees and breathe in the sweetness of his need for me. I wrap my arms around him and hold on to these moments… these sweet, peaceful, tender moments, when my baby is still my baby… when my boy is not yet a man.
Posted on | October 23, 2013 | 8 Comments
When I was married, I spent a lot of time wondering why things weren’t better. I did a lot of silent judging of my husband and a lot of not-so-silent judging. I was angry and lonely and bitter and probably not that fun to be around.
And I think, honestly, it’s because I just couldn’t get past what I didn’t have.
Yes, I had a home, and a car, and a job, and a child. Yes, I had a dog and a fridge stocked with food, and enough money to splurge on pizza once a week, and a garage full of furniture I didn’t have rooms for. I had so much… but what I didn’t have, was the ability to process what I had.
I focused on how little time he spent with me, how much he annoyed me. I focused on what he didn’t do for J and I, what I didn’t have in the husband I had. Now don’t get me wrong, we had plenty of issues outside of my thoughts, but I honestly 100% believe that any marriage… any two people under the sun… can make it work so long as both people are 100% invested in each other.
I was not invested in my husband. Not in the person he was. I so wanted him to be someone else… someone more like the person he was when we met… that I didn’t appreciate the person he was in any way. Would it have mattered? Maybe not. The truth is, he wasn’t invested in me, any more than I was in him. I think, though, that if we’d both just sat down every day at the end of the day and said to each other “You. I choose you. Just as you are, no improvements, no corrections, no ‘I wish you would just…’” then we would have been a little less willing to give up.
Now, post-divorce, I look at the life I have and I am truly grateful. I see the little bits and pieces of discomfort, the things that are out of place, the people who aren’t EXACTLY who I think they should be… and I shrug. Because life, every day, is about focusing on the good. It’s about looking around and not saying “This is wrong” but saying “THIS is right.”
And there is so much right with the life I have right now. I have a son who, though trying, is so exceptional that he wows me daily. I have a home that, though in need of improvements, keeps us warm at night and dry in the rain. I have a car that, the stereo doesn’t work, but it gets me from point A to point B every single day. And guys? I have a fantastic boyfriend. He’s not perfect and there are days when the negative thoughts creep in and I find myself wondering what I’m doing and if I’m making any right choices. But at the end of the day, I look at the big picture of who he is, and I choose him. Every day. And until I can’t do that, until I can’t say that everything he is makes me happier than the things he isn’t, I’m going to celebrate in the fact that we have each other.
Life is about choosing the good over the bad, the right over the wrong, happy over unhappy. Today, I choose happy.
And I hope you do, too.
Posted on | October 17, 2013 | 8 Comments
When I was newly single, I remember saying to my mother:
“Well, one good thing is that my toilet is invariably MUCH cleaner now without having a man in the house.”
She sort of snickered a little, in a “just you wait” kind of way, and voiced a half-hearted agreement.
And then J got potty trained.
At first, it wasn’t so bad. I mean, he would sit down on the toilet to pee during the first part of training because he wasn’t tall enough to reach the toilet any other way. So my toilet cleaning days were pretty easy… no pee on the seats, never any underneath the seat… just spray, wipe, and done. It was like heaven after four years of cleaning up after a man in the house.
But lately, the “man” card is being expressed in my child in strange ways. He doesn’t have accidents anymore. There are very few times when he will be playing and just forget to go to the restroom to pee. However.
Now, it’s like a race of epic proportions. I swear he waits until the last possible minute, races full speed to the bathroom, tugs down his pants and just…. pees. Everywhere. There is pee on the seat. There is pee on the back of the toilet lid. Sometimes, there is pee on the floor. ON THE FLOOR. I don’t know if he just goes in and spins around in a circle or if he actually tries to aim for these things, but lately going the bathroom has become a bit of an adventure. I can’t just go to the bathroom anymore. Now it’s like a hazmat suit is necessary just to sit on the toilet seat. I’ll think I’ve cleaned up everything and invariably once I sit, there will be a spot I missed and I shudder a little because I’m actively sitting in someone else’s pee. Nevermind that I created him.
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve said “Lift the toilet seat” or “take your time” or even “AIM, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, AIM!” Does it get better? Am in line for a future consisting of pee all over everything for the rest of his youth? I just don’t know. What I do know is that I think back to that snicker my mother made when I bragged about a clean toilet… and I imagine she was trying to tell me then that little boys are gross.
Really, really, gross.
Posted on | October 16, 2013 | No Comments
I have no idea what it’s like to be a stay at home mom. I have no idea and honestly, I don’t think I could handle the stress and constant, CONSTANT attention from a four year old. But what I do know is what it’s like to be a work outside the home mom.
And I’m not always such a big fan.
See, when your four year old is screaming at you all morning about things that happened three days ago, and your dress pants are snug because you drank a little too much beer the night before while trying to forget about the fact that your dress pants are starting to get snug, and then you drive to work and spill coffee on your shirt while your child tells you that he hates school and doesn’t ever want to go anywhere but home ever again, and then you drop him off and drive to work only to find your voice-mail light blinking with five messages that inexplicably came in after you left last night and your email lit up with the message that says your assistant is taking the third day off in a row…
It feels a lot, a whole freaking lot, like failing at two jobs. Simultaneously.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when I’m rocking out at one or the other… days when I win a hearing or motion, days when J wraps his arms around me and announces that he loves me bigger than the sky, days when my clothes are stain free (at least until lunch time). There are even a few days… a precious few… when I’m actually adequately performing at both jobs. I guess the thing about being a working not at home mom is that no matter where you are, there are a ton of people who are depending on you for a ton of things. And each day is a precarious balancing act of who gets the most of my attention, the most of my patience, and the most of my joy.
I’d like to say that every day it’s J… but it often isn’t.
I’d like to say that I can balance and juggle and smile and work and still have so much of me left after 5pm to give to my child and my significant other… but it’s not always the case. Many days I’m doing good to just get home. Many days I’m phoning in parenting with a movie and a “picnic dinner on the floor” consisting of whatever I can quickly find in the fridge or cabinet.
Many days I’m just… worn out.
But being a working outside the home mom also means that I get that surprise moment at the end of every day, when I round the corner of the building and see my son looking for bugs with a friend. It means I get that moment, just before he sees me… just a moment… to exhale the stresses of being a lawyer and to inhale the sweetness of being a mom. And then he turns, his face lights up, and he runs full speed at my legs, wrapping himself around me and grinning my name at the top of his lungs.
Being a lawyer means I get to solve a lot of problems, cause a few, drive myself and others crazy, and get stressed out on behalf of other people. Being a lawyer means headaches and phone calls and emails and high fives all around when a big decision comes in. It means early morning meetings and depositions and using my brain to solve problems and dream up solutions. Being a lawyer means a lot to me, but….
Being a mom means… Love.
And if I can be a lawyer and a mom? If I can find that precious moment every day to flip the switch between here and there, between suits and pajamas… between attorney and parent? Well, then… I guess I get the best of both worlds.
Posted on | October 7, 2013 | 7 Comments
Last Wednesday, I packed up my car, made the semi-short drive to where Banks works and he and I headed South East to St. Simons Island for the annual workers’ compensation seminar here in Georgia. To say that I was worried about the trip was a bit of an understatement. Last year, I went alone and it was amazing. I went to the conference in the mornings and spent my afternoons running on a treadmill, sipping wine, or reading books. It was one of the most relaxing trips I’d ever been on.
So when we made plans for Banks to come with me this year, I wondered if it might be the end of our fledgling relationship. My ex and I didn’t travel well together. We fought and picked and annoyed and every time we went anywhere I almost always ended up in tears. So it was with great trepidation that I handed over the keys to my car and settled into the passenger seat beside this man who has become such a big part of my life.
Trepidation unwarranted, guys.
Yes, I’m sure it annoyed him slightly that I belted out Roxanne’s “Must Have Been Love” at the top of my voice along with intense and somewhat strange dance moves. Yes, I’m sure that he wanted to throttle me when I kept switching songs midstream because I wanted to play something else. Sure, I was a little over how long the trip took (close to four hours) and maybe I did wish I could push pedal to the metal and speed just a bit faster to our destination. But overall? The drive was amazing. We reached our hotel with a smile on our faces, our fingers still finding their way to each other for bouts of silly hand-holding.
And if the drive was amazing, the trip itself was even better. He golfed in the mornings while I learned more about my field. We met for late lunches and laughed and drank beer. Dinners were late and delicious and we even made it down to the beach to swim across the small channel to the sandbar, digging up live sand dollars with our feet and acting like teenagers in the surf.
I came home rested, rejuvenated, and so wonderfully happy with myself and him and us and life.
Traveling with a man isn’t always bad, it seems. Sometimes? It’s exactly what you need to remember that love should be, above all else, a really good time.
Posted on | September 30, 2013 | No Comments
Today at lunchtime, I take my child to see his grandparents.
This isn’t earth shattering, as he goes to see them at least once a month. But what IS earth shattering is the fact that he goes at lunch time today, and I won’t see him again until Sunday afternoon… almost six full days later. For some of you, you’ll laugh and think it’s no big deal. But for me? For me, this is the longest he’s ever been away. This is the longest I will go without seeing him sleeping in one bed or another since August 22, 2009, when he first barreled his way into my life.
To say that I am scared seems to be a vast understatement. I am horrified, mortified, terrified and completely unprepared for six days without my favorite person in the whole world. I keep running through scenarios in my head where he is hurt or sad or needs me and I can’t get to him. I keep vacillating between “Never mind. I’m keeping him” and “Take him quick before I change my mind!” Because I know that I need the break, need the time to recharge myself and recharge my ability to parent him without the frustration that is creeping in more and more. Yet I still can’t believe he’s going to be gone so long.
It’s possible that I love him, maybe just a little too much.
Is that a thing? Can you love a child TOO much?
Just this morning, I leaned down and whispered in his ear “Did you know that I love you?” and he rolled his four year old eyes and said “I KNOW that Mom. You tell me EVERY DAY.”
And part of me is glad it’s old hat to him… part of me wants him to roll his eyes and shrug and ignore because I want my love for him to be such a foregone conclusion that it holds no surprise for him, ever. Part of me delights that I have somehow helped to create a child who is eager to go and see and be away from me, that he is secure in knowing that I will always be waiting for him to return. Part of me is happy he loves his grandparents and his friends and his father and that he is so eager to go and see them. But at the same time… he is leaving. For six days.
And my mother’s heart is somewhat broken by how excited he is to go.
Posted on | September 26, 2013 | 7 Comments
Last night, J and I made the not-so-long journey back to church, our first Wednesday night since they came to a close in late Spring. J loves to go because he gets to see two of his “old” friends from daycare, and I love to go because they cook dinner for my child and also I get a little much needed mid-week refresher on how to catch my breath.
Our new minister is fantastic. He says things in a way that just makes them clear to me… in a way that a lot of ministers miss because they’re so caught up in being Biblically poetic. This guy? He just gets it. So I happily parked myself in the back of the classroom (old habits die hard) for his lesson on “Redeeming my Time.” The lesson started out with a short video on motorcycle repair. Yes. Motorcycle repair. Because, as the people in the video clearly explained, people are just like motorcycles. You can be chock full of awesome. You can have the best job and the best spouse and the best kids and the fattest wallet, but if one thing is off, then all of you is off. As the motorcycle repair guy put it… “You can have the best motor on the planet, but if the wires are bad, you’re not going anywhere. ”
My wires have been bad lately. Nothing made that clearer to me than the first words out of my minister’s mouth which shot point blank into my face and splattered all over my heart:
“Is there anything more frightening, more devastating, more deceptive and dangerous than being unaware of yourself?”
For the past few weeks, I have been fully unaware of myself and my needs. I’ve been caught up in being the attentive attorney, the patient mother, the loving girlfriend. I’ve been knee deep in cleaning house and cleaning car and mending and sewing together the pieces of my life… and I’ve been neglectful of myself. I’ve been unaware of myself.
The truth is, I NEED to write. I crave words on paper or on screen the way a newborn craves milk. And I’ve been pushing it aside and putting it away all my life. I’ve been living unaware of myself and my needs.
I’m finished with neglecting what I need to be the best me, the right me… the me I’m supposed to be… the me I was created to be. I’m not perfect; I have mountains and mountains of flaws… but, I’m pretty much the only me I’ll ever have. And that’s worth taking care of, right?
What are YOU neglecting? What have you pushed aside for the sake of someone or something else? What would it take to get yourself back on track… back to being aware of your worth? Is it as simple as putting pen to paper?
It is for me.
At least for now.
Posted on | September 19, 2013 | 10 Comments
As a new mother, sleep-deprived and leaking from… let’s face it, almost EVERY orifice, I was convinced that if I could just make it through the first few months, I would find a pattern that worked for me and things would get easier. And for a while, they did. I became a pro at pumping in the office, in the car, and even perched on the edge of a filthy courthouse toilet. I could change a diaper with one hand while talking on the phone. I could unsnap, pull off, and change my child’s clothes with one arm tied behind my back… not that I tried, but still. It got easier.
Work was mostly flexible, in that I could bring my sweet baby to the office and tuck him into his pack n play, letting him coo and cuddle against the sides of the protected space while I met my billable hours. On the days he was well enough to attend daycare, I would pick him up with a spring in my step because just having him in my arms was enough to make everything else worth while.
And then he began to crawl.
And then walk.
And then talk.
And during all of that madness, I changed jobs… twice… changed houses… twice… and became a single mother.
And those days of sleep-deprived madness and poop on the backside of everything I owned seem like a distant nightmare, made cautiously pleasant with time. “But he was stationary,” I tell myself. “But he couldn’t talk back.”
The routine I crafted for me and my infant, then toddler… that routine just isn’t working anymore for this larger than life pre-schooler who has invaded my home and heart. What used to take twenty minutes now takes forty because there is attitude and tears and bribes and exasperation. What used to be the sweet moment of reconciliation at the end of a long day has become a tentative peek around the corner, bracing myself for the onslaught of almost pre-teen angst that will pour from my child’s every movement and sound the minute he is out of sight of his school friends.
My “I’m totally rocking this working mother thing” has turned into “Dear God someone please help me and can I up my meds or maybe drink for breakfast?!” The moments of success seem fewer and farther between and the ends of my days are spent in tears… his and often mine… as we struggle to find ourselves in this new landscape of new schools, new friends, new responsibilities and even new boyfriends. I used to feel that I was floating on a prickly raft; safely above the turmoil of some lives but still with the occasional prick of reality that I don’t have a spouse to step in and share the burden.
Lately, my raft has sprung a leak.
Now I find myself mired in the turmoil, pricked on all sides by my steadily sinking raft and I am constantly shouting “BECAUSE I SAID SO” like they’re the only words that make any sense any more.
And I think, perhaps, they are.
Posted on | September 4, 2013 | 5 Comments
I’m the mom that teachers probably groan about. Because when I take J to school or pick him up, I tend to dawdle. I linger in the classroom and answer questions, watch gymnastic moves, listen to songs or clap for dances. I hang out on the play mat and witness the miracle of these little people, these 3-6 year olds with their wide-eyed wonder at the world. I stay until I know I have to leave, sliding out the door with promises to come back that afternoon or the following morning.
I don’t do it because I worry about where J is in school or how he’s interacting with his friends. I don’t do it because I loathe leaving J and going to work, though I do, and I don’t do it to bother or burden his teachers in any way.
I linger because I flat out get a kick out of kids.
Not just my kid, all kids. I love the way they think and talk. I love that everything is big in their world… big ideas, big dreams, big excitement, and even big sadness. I love the look on their faces when an adult pays them the right kind of attention… total devotion to the moment they’re in, total amazement at what they can do and be and say. When I linger, I get to witness everyday fantastic by way of a five year old singing every single word to “Call Me Maybe” while her friend twirls and dances beside her. I get to applaud when they finish and say “Encore! Encore!” only to have them start the same song over again with different dance moves. When I linger, I get to hear a four year old tell me half the words to his favorite movie, with a crooked sideways grin on his face and I get to finish the lines because I’ve seen that movie, six times, with my own four year old. I get to watch miraculous balancing on one foot, jumping higher than high, spinning until they fall down… and all the while, their faces and eyes are glowing with the knowledge that they are being three or four or five or six… and someone is happily watching them be that.
It’s my favorite part of my days. It’s what I miss by being a working mom… the little moments during the day when everything is bright and shiny in a four year old’s world. It’s what I look forward to in the mornings and the afternoons: those moments of magic when one child or another says “Hey J’s mommy! Watch this!” and then they do something ordinary which is so not ordinary because they couldn’t do it yesterday or the day before or just a few short years ago.
I linger because….kids. They’re so freaking amazing. They’re just… full of so much joy at everything. They are full of drama and need and love and angst and I live to be knee deep in it because being around kids reminds me that all the little things are what matter. All the small moments, all the tiniest drops of special… they are what really matter.
Kids remind me to do the things I used to love to do… to stand on one leg, to attempt a cartwheel, to spin until my head feels swimmy with confusion. And so I linger… soaking in the amazing that is J and his world and his friends… in the hopes that some of their magic might just spin my way.« go back — keep looking »