Irony and Football Game

Today is the three year “anniversary” of the day my whole world was turned upside down.  On this day in 2009, LK, my ex husband, sat me down at the kitchen table and told me he was out.  He didn’t want to be married, he didn’t want the baby we had been trying to have, he didn’t want me.  It felt eery and significant this morning, waking up alone, and yet not alone.  Sure, I don’t have a husband to share my bed with anymore, but there is a wonderful child down the hall, and as I listened to him snore softly on the baby monitor, I steeled myself for the emotions that would come today.
But they never came.  Not really.  I am a little sad, but mostly for the life that I imagine having lost.  The intact family, growing together and sharing a life of fun and learning.  But we wouldn’t have had that.  So I was glad that my first real emotion upon getting out of bed was that of exasperation.   It is so funny to me that some people are so hell bent on being “right” or doing what makes them “happy” that they can’t let anyone else in the world tell them what might be enjoyable, or fun or rewarding.

 

That was how LK was.  Especially near the end.  And now, as I look back, he was so violently angry at me for wanting him to have a child, and now, he just picked him up for a weekend visit.  He is now so in love with this child that he so easily and immediately abandoned.  And in my head, all I can think is, “What a moron.”  He missed out on Jack’s open heart surgery and the late night feedings and all the crying, mine and his.  But then again, he missed out on the first words, steps and other milestones, too.

 

So, today, I mostly feel the amazing irony that is this life.  He wanted the freedom to be with his girlfriend and travel where ever he wanted, and this weekend, they are, all three, driving to his alma mater for a football game.  He wants to share Jack with his friends, and his past with Jack.  And that’s great.  I really am happy that they have a relationship.

 

Especially since I knew he would want this all along.  And ironically, the best life I’ve ever had is the one with Jack in it, and LK far, far away…

 

Maggie

 

 

Picking Uniforms for the Summer

Recently, I have been discussing the coming swimsuit season with my girlfriends and many of them are self-handicapping their search.  This happens every year, but for some reason, it really bothers me this summer.  Women hate shopping for bathing suits.  Well, not all women.  I am sure that there is a small percentage of women who have low body fat percentages (except in certain, strategic areas, mysteriously) and high self esteem (at least, evidentlly), who find the process beautiful and self affirming.  The rest of women hate those women.  Not really.  Just kidding….

But, as I said, this year feels different.  Maybe it’s the battle I’ve been through, or maybe it’s the beautiful child that I grew in my stomach, but this year, I am going to buy a suit that I like.  I am not going to worry if it “makes me look fat” or is “age appropriate” or whether it confirms my “mom” status.  It is just going to be for me.  I didn’t get stretch marks while I was pregnant, and sometimes I cry about that.  Unfortunately, Jack came 10 weeks early and I didn’t gain that much weight.  I would trade a stomach full of scars for a healthy child, but I can’t.  That experience does give me some perspective, though.  While I was pregnant, I began to see my purpose on Earth was to raise Jack, and it made the changes in my body beautiful and meaningful.  When I see the rare woman, covered in stretch marks, yet brave enough to don a bikini, I silently revel in her bravado, and envy her healthy children, whom she carried to term.

Now, I understand that some men may look at women in bathing suits and make judgements or even comments.  But I believe that the biggest problem is from women judging each other.  One friend said she stopped wearing bikinis at age 37, because it was time.  I will be 37 later this year, so I guess I get a little leeway this year.  She is now looking for the “one piece with the skirt” ensemble so popular with middle aged women.  And she is gorgeous!  So why are women worried about the suit?

Who knows?  Some of it is that they want to hide body imperfections, or appear responsible enough to have children, or even just to be comfortable.  But whatever the reason, buy the damn suit you want, ladies.  And let the 400 pound “adonis” who is looking at you worry about the stretch band on his own suit.

I told my friend last week, when we were discussing the little black bikini I was searching for “don’t hate the player, hate the game!”  It was a joke, but I am working hard on a body for health reasons, and it allows me some latitude, in terms of the suit I wear.  But I WILL NOT be self handicapping my bathing suit search in order to avoid attention or make others comfortable.

Just say NO! to the one piece with the skirt!!!!

Unless that’s what you really, really want to wear…..

Maggie

Where does the time go?

I had no idea it had been nearly four months since my last post.  Life goes by so quickly and while I know that I have done a lot since that last post, I am amazed at how much is left to be done.  And isn’t that a wonderful way to live?  To wake up every morning with a list of things to accomplish?  Oh the accomplishments in the past four months…..

By the end of January, my divorce from LK was final, and while we still have occasional issues, we have settled into a comfortable, Jack-focused, civility that I am at peace with.  I have forgiven him for so much, but still feel I need to protect Jack from him.  Which I don’t.  He is trying his best and I am glad for it.  Jack needs his father in his life and I am in love with Jack, so I will make it as easy as possible.

Jack turned two this month and that was such an amazing day!  I remember, vividly, being told that he had a serious heart defect, and that he may not even survive his birth.  The days when I only ate or got of bed because I had a son to live for and take care of are painful reminders of my past.   But to see him now, I am just amazed and blessed.  All the fighting and crying, all the nights I slept at the hospital, or not at all…  They were all worth it.  He is an amazing beacon of light and source of happiness and I love him more every single day.

I finished a lot of soul searching, looking for my passion and started a new business.  I am now a “Social Media Consultant.”  I had no idea that this was what I would be doing, but by following every opportunity that came my way in the past few months, it literally fell into my lap.  I have a wonderful mentor and a few great clients and, for now at least, I can support Jack without leaving him for 10 hours a day, and it feels wonderful.  It has been a very stressful time, becoming self employed, but the blessings continue to come my way, so I am thankful and continue to welcome them.

Another big change in my life has been that I have begun dating again.  I felt that it was important to wait until the divorce was final to start dating again, and in so doing, I was single (but not yet ready to mingle) for nearly three years.  I really didn’t want to enter a relationship until I was healed anyway.  What hope of success can a relationship have if I wasn’t able to trust anyone?  But now I think I can. Or, at least I think that I can choose better.  We’ll see how that goes.

I have been on a few dates so far and I can tell you this:  Dating at 36 (with a child) is a whole different ballgame than dating as a 20-something single woman.  The stakes are so much higher, and my patience for games is practically non-existent.  Does that mean that a relationship “just for fun” is out of the picture?  No.  I am not looking to get married and have kids by the end of the year, that is for sure. Sometimes, just having someone to go to dinner with is a welcome change from the dinner at home monotony of single life.  But I have very particular criteria for the kind of man that won’t fit into my life, and I won’t change myself to fit his mold of what kind of woman I should be.  And isn’t that better?

The trick now will be to find a man strong enough to handle me.  I have been told many times that I am the strongest woman a person has ever known.  But even the strongest woman wants to be taken care of sometimes.  It’s not reasonable to be the strong one all the time. It’s exhausting, and scary, and lonely.  So hopefully, somewhere there is a man being prepared to be my partner.  Lucky him. 😉

I may share a few of the more interesting stories of my dating experiences in the near future.  I am keeping a journal, as usual, so all the ridiculous, charming, wonderful and awful things that I see are safe and recorded.  But for right now, I am going to keep them to myself.  I have only been “out there” for about a month and I think I need to reflect a bit before sharing.  What I can say is that it is fun and frustrating and exciting and terrifying, all at the same time.

I kind of feel like a kid again.  One with a mortgage and a 401(k), but still…

Hopefully,
Maggie

A New Year Deserves a New Post

Well, Happy New Year!!!  I haven’t written in almost five months, and I’m sorry.  I hope that some of you are still out there!

I wanted, so many times, to write a blog post about what was happening in our lives, but kept worrying that I was exposing too much, or putting our future at risk.  For example, if I were to write about all of the things that were going on in the divorce negotiations, would I anger LK, resulting in a court battle and losing assets that Jack would need.  Many of the things that happened were so ridiculous, that I jotted them down in case I’m ever asked to write a movie about how stupidly people behave during divorces.  So I sat back and kept my story to myself for a while.  And now, the settlement has been made, the papers signed and filed, and we will be divorced by the end of the month.  There was a lot of give and take, and in the end, as much as can be said, Jack won.  He gets all the time and assets both of his parents can afford, and a great shot at a cooperative co-parenting experience.

Overall, we have had a good five months.  Jack did suffer a febrile seizure which was terrifying and required a 911 call and an ER visit, but everything resolved well and he has had no repeat episodes.  He has been an absolute star at school (my words, not the teachers) and loves to get ready for “skuul” every morning to go see his friends.  Jack did bite another child, and when I was told at pick up, I was horrified, but sure that he had been framed.  Unfortunately, the teacher told me he was still clamped down on the other childs arm as she tried to separate them.  So, I’m sure Jack was provoked somehow, but we have been working on the “catch and release” technique anyway.  Since that day, he has had no “aggressive acts” at school, thank goodness!  He brings home lots of beautiful art work that I hang all over the house in “mini art galleries” that Jack seems really proud of.  He’s very talented!

As far as I am concerned, things are going very well.  I have a cordial relationship with LK and his girlfriend, although they both piss me off.  LK for obvious reasons, and Her for being so stupid.  I say that in the grand scheme of “don’t get involved with a married man who has abandoned his child, that you have to talk into having a relationship with his son, and think that he is actually the one who was meant for you, because he is actually a selfish egomaniac who will not change his character and marry and impregnate you in 5 years.”  But she’ll have to be my age to realize that, I guess.  Or maybe he will change and she will “fix” him, which would be best for Jack.  Either way, I don’t care.  LK is her problem now and I am in a surprisingly wonderful place.  However, I think that if all women on Earth would unite and agree not to “be with” men who are married, or have abandoned their children, there would be far fewer men who cheat or leave their families.  If they didn’t have other outlets, one would presume, they would have to behave like adults and actually work on relationships.  But that is my pipe dream for a better world, full of better people.

I am essentially underemployed right now.  I have no idea what I want to do for a job, and no prospects.  And I’m not really all that worried about it.  This is such new territory for me that had I not been through the massive life changes I have in the past three years, I would be worried that I was losing my mind.  The only reason that I am considering a full-time, “former life” type job with lots of hours and lots of money, is that those kinds of jobs also come with lots of really good health insurance, for Jack.  But I LK is providing the insurance now, and if he loses that insurance, we can use COBRA to buy the same coverage for a while.  And I have money saved for that.  So I  can wait for the perfect opportunity for Jack and I to come along.  And so I am.

At least, I’m trying.  I frequently slip back into my old mindset of “money equals security” and now there is a new one, “single mothers who are able to support their children well, should.”  But to provide Jack with more financial advantage than emotional advantage might result in a man who would value money over family, or his own child.  So I relent and stop berating myself.  And I get on the floor with Jack and read one more book, or pretend to eat the delicious dinner he has “cooked” in the fireplace.  And it is so much more fun and rewarding than any job I’ve ever had, or could ever get.

So that’s a quick catch up on our lives. Except for my newest project:  I am training for a half marathon!  My resolution last January was to run a 5k, and I did it before the weather even warmed up.  While enduring the divorce negotiations I began to create a “Bucket List” of things I want to do before I die.  Running a marathon was on it.  But I am starting with a half marathon, and while I was worried, I have come to love running.  I sleep better at night, I have fewer negative or depressing thoughts and I’m even working on the body that will soon re-enter the dating pool.  Well, not too soon.  More about that in a later post.  For now, the running is awesome, and just for me.  I’m a happier Mama, and that’s my goal right now.  I’ll post about the running progress soon, but in the meantime, I’d recommend a 5k resolution to everyone reading this.  It’s an easy distance, that can be walked, by most people, in under an hour.  Let me know if you try one this year!

New Year, New Me!
Maggie

Hard Times and Sweet Babies

I have been in a funk since LK took Jack last Friday and I’ve been trying to figure out how to escape it without success.  I have tried exercising, which is usually a panacea for me.  I have tried going to bed early and resting, getting up early and being productive, working hard and hardly working.  So far, nothing has eased the pain and depression.  I am not a person who cries easily or frequently, except for when my child is in a cardiac or NICU hospital unit.  And yet, I know that it is a good and healthy thing to do.  So, tonight, I tried to cry.  I can work up a few tears, and cry for a few seconds pretty easily, but those types of cries don’t do alot to lighten a funk, so I had to bring in the big guns.

I watched a story on NBC news tonight that finally brought the cleansing cry that I have been searching for all week.  It was about a woman who had won a prize to throw out the first pitch at a minor league baseball game.  She threw the pitch to the catcher, and as they always do, the catcher began to trot to the mound to return the ball and pose for the picture.  But as he got close to her she gasped and drew her hands to her face.  It was her husband, who had been deployed overseas with the Army.  He had worked for two weeks to set up the surprise return, enlisting the help of their kids and the baseball team.  As the family posed for pictures I sobbed and finally realized why I was hurting so badly.

This was the type of man I had wanted to marry.  A man with the courage and bravery to fight for his country, and the tenderness and heart to love his wife so much that he would orchestrate beautiful and memorable interactions and experiences for her and their children.  As the media snapped photos, he held tightly to his wife and kids and kissed her repeatedly on the top of her head.  He looked as happy to be with them as they did to be with him.  He loved his family so deeply, so fully.  And what did I end up with?  A loser who abandoned me when I was pregnant, then denied his own son for over a year. 

How did I make such a mistake in selecting him?   It’s hard to say, but when we met I was much younger and overlooked quite a few things that I wouldn’t today.  Early in our marriage, I was bitten by a friends dog and required 22 stitches in my lip.  He still left for a business trip the next day.  I suffered broken bones, the flu, bronchitis and other ailments alone, while he continued with his work and travels.  And I never told him how hurt that made me.  I knew several years ago that I wasn’t happy and never did anything.  I don’t think I would have ever left just because I was unhappy.  I am the child of divorce and wanted so badly not to be divorced myself that I would have stayed for the rest of my life.

And so I cried, for the man I married, and the man I had wanted to marry.  I cried for the life I have and the life I had wanted and was now mourning.  And I cried for the me that I denied for so many years, sentencing myself to a marriage in which I was unloved and uncherished.  I cried with pain that this man who had ignored and hurt me so deeply was now going to be in my son’s life.  And I regretted marrying him.  And then the most amazing thing happend. 

Jack, who had been playing and drinking from his sippy cup walked over to me and put his hand on my shoulder.  I looked at him and his concerned, furrowed brow relaxed into a goofy smile and he patted my shoulder several times.  He was trying to comfort me.  And that made me cry harder.  So he put his sippy cup down and stradled my legs, crawling into my lap.  He put a hand on each shoulder and looked at me with a concern so deep that it broke my heart, and then a smile so big I laughed out loud.  I gathered him into me in a big hug and he let me. 

And then I was done.  The pain was gone and the joy was back.  I had a mini-breakthrough and Jack showed me something.  I had never been able to say that I was grateful for the bad marriage and all the pain, just because I had this wonderful child as a result.  So many people had said this to me and I had considered their words trite and naive.  I am an analytical person and reasoned that if I could have avoided the bad husband and marriage, then I wouldn’t know about the child that didn’t result, and may even be living in an intact marriage with a loving husband and our half dozen loving, beautiful and smart children.  But tonight, I got it.  Jack is my son, the one God designed for me.  And if I had never had him, I might not have lived the life that God meant for me. 

And I would have missed out mightily. 

Maggie

When meeting your husbands girlfriend…

it is important to remember that, like wild animals, they are probably more afraid of you than you are of them. 

Since yesterdays phone call, when the “big meet and greet” was scheduled, I have tried to figure out what the hell I was feeling.  Not mad or jealous.  I no longer love LK.  Not anger or rage.  I can’t see any way in which that helps me to heal or be a good mother or person.  So, what was it?  Confusion?  Sure.  Anxiety?  A little.  Fortunately, today I had a previously scheduled appointment with my therapist.

I asked her if it was that I “didn’t care” and whether I was putting Jack’s safety at risk in order to allow LK access to Jack, which I think is such an important part of Jack’s life.  She reminded me that if the deal was that Jack could be with his father, but they would be riding motorcycles around I-285, then I would certainly not allow it.  This is a meeting with someone who may be a good influence on Jack, another person to love him, someone to help keep him safe.  And my goal in life is to raise Jack to be healthy and happy, make sure that every person available to love him is allowed to do so.  She reminded me that it was okay to let others do that, even if I was the best at it.

I was okay most of the day, and for the most part, the reactions from friends and family were that I was handling it well, being impartial until I had all the facts, and taking the high road in working towards a Jack-centered solution.  Unfortunately, a few people have to add things like “well, I knew it, he must have been seeing her before he even left you” and “no way would I allow them around Jack!  You have to put a stop to this!”  I don’t see how any of these things are helpful, but because I am such a beacon of calm and “high road taking awesomeness” I didn’t let it affect me.  I am finding that many people enjoy drama, and reality television, and want to see me angry because it is entertaining, not because it will accomplish anything.  I was going into this meeting hopeful that she would be a good person and that I wouldn’t have to prevent a relationship with Jack.  Optimism and hope are all that got me through the first few months when Jack was so sick and fragile.  How could that not be the best option here?

She was beautiful.  Dammit!  Ten years younger than me.  Dammit!!  And mature, thoughtful and extremely considerate of the situation and what I have been through in the past two years.  I utilized my corporate recruiting and negotiating skills in the most important discussion of my life and I left feeling good that, for this trip at least, I was comfortable with Jack being in their care.  I asked open ended questions; What do you know of our situation?  What is your understanding of Jack’s condition?  What experience do you have with children?  Are you willing to take CPR and first aid classes?  Are you clear on the early warning signs of heart failure?  What are your plans with LK?  Do you understand LK’s obligations, financially and personally, to Jack?  Are you okay with those?

She wasn’t clear on the early warning signs of heart failure, but was very interested to learn them and said she wanted to be taught as much as I thought was necessary to care for Jack.  She did know many of the signs of distress and knew an alarmingly large amount of the truth regarding how LK had left and how he had abandoned Jack in the beginning.  I was pleased to find that he hadn’t sugar coated (lied) the story.

They stayed for nearly two hours, and the three of us talked, but I also sent LK out so that she and I could talk alone.  Without divulging them here, I learned many, many things that gave me the information that I needed to feel okay about the situation.  She even said that the trip was for LK and Jack and that if I wasn’t on board, she was planning to fly home tomorrow.  Very admirable.  I don’t think that anyone every truly feels “okay” about meeting their husbands girlfriend, but again, I am approaching this as meeting a new team member on the “Love and Care for Jack” team.

So, in the end, I got a good first impression and told them that I thought it would be okay for them to travel with Jack this weekend.  But I made it clear that this would be an ongoing conversation and that if at any time my feelings changed, I would let them know and unless I was again satisfied that Jack’s best interests were at the forefront, that this arrangement would be halted. 

I am feeling pretty good about myself.  I am forgiving, though it will take a very long time to forget, and I know that letting go of the anger is better for my heart, and certainly my soul.  What do you know, I found some of that “soul spackle” that I was looking for last week.

I will spend tomorrow planning my weekend of luxury and relaxation.  And I will be sure to schedule a few calls to Baby J.   Which she suggested and encouraged.  She even texted her number to me after they left just in case I have trouble reaching LK’s phone.  I think I like her more than LK.

Breathing deeply and keeping calm,

Maggie

Sappy, Life-Affirming Metaphors Ahead…

I did not get the closet build out finished last week and I am totally okay with that.  Because what I did get done is prepare the closet for it’s new role as my favorite closet in the house.  Below is the before photo of the closet with the single, builder grade wire shelf.  The closet is not living up to its potential at all…

Now, brace yourself for the aforementioned sappy, life-affirming metaphor.  I don’t know if it was the fatigue, or the paint fumes, but I began to really identify with this closet during the past week.  Like the closet, I haven’t been living up to my potential in quite a while.  But only as a woman, and person.  As a mother and protector of Jack, I am an unmatched and rousing success.  As Maggie, I have left a few things untended.

As I removed the wire shelf, the anchors and screws that had supported it clung to the wall like a dog to a bone, and like I have been to my past.  Once finally and violently removed, the holes left in the drywall were gaping and dramatic.  I couldn’t believe the size and design of the anchors.  How could this much engineering be required for a lone wire shelf?  But the ugly shelf was expected to hold perhaps a hundred pounds of clothes and the drywall foundation would never be strong enough. 

Anyway, I guess my marriage was like the anchors and screws.  Over engineered to hold up an ugly and dysfunctional relationship that, no matter how many beautiful clothes, or trips, jewelry or other “things” were hung on it, would never be pretty, and certainly never strong enough to support us.  It, we, looked great on paper.  Everyone said so.  I thought so.  But in practice, the design was flawed and the life we built fell apart.  So, moving forward, I patched and sanded the voids left in the wall and painted them a lovely shade of creamy off-white.

Isn’t it a beautiful clean slate?  I am still looking for the spackle and sand paper and paint that will transform my soul into a clean slate, but in the meantime, I find that hard work and sweat are a great help. 

Below, I have included a photo of the lower half of the tower that will be in the center of the closet, to give you some perspective.  It is about two feet wide and the closet is about seven or eight feet wide.  The bedroom is kind of small, so I am going to install drawers in the tower so that a dresser isn’t necessary in the room.

The next step involves a level, a drill and a saw, and although I am quite comfortable with a firearm, these tools scare me.  So I am waiting on help to arrive this weekend.  If all goes well, the closet will be finished by this time next week and I will have a wonderfully fresh, clean new place to look at and be inspired by moving forward.

We can all thank HGTV and the DIY network for the metaphors and disproportionate importance placed on home improvement this week.

Happy home improving!
Maggie

 

Harder than it looks…

It turns out that going a whole week without watching television is much harder than one very disciplined blogger might have imagined.  As you may remember, I was planning to turn the tv off last week and see how much more I got done.  And on Monday I was like a woman possessed, getting things done like my life depended on it.  Tuesday was much the same, but by Wednesday, the bloom was off the rose and I caught a few Sex and the City episodes while Jack napped.  Thursday wasn’t much better and Friday would have been a complete failure if I hadn’t scheduled a day of appointments and a trip to my hometown. 

So, where to go from here?  In the past, I might have just concluded that watching tv is what I want to do (refusing to admit my “failure”), so I’m going to do it.  But it’s not.  I did get a lot done last week and I felt better watching less of the “idiot box.”  I was able to get out and see people and do more.  So this week I am going to continue my efforts towards no tv, and just shoot for less tv.  I have pretty well cut morning tv out, giving me an extra hour to play with Jack, or eat breakfast, or start laundry.  But the evenings are still very difficult.  I am lonely after Jack goes to bed and so I turn to the comfort of the friends I’ve made on the sitcoms I love so much.  I am going to look for a book to read this week and substitute that for the tv family I’ve made.

This week will also be a big test of my self control.  Tomorrow Jack has an appointment with his pediatrician and his father is “scheduled to appear.”  I shouldn’t say it like that, I’m sure he’ll be there.  He’s actually been trying very hard with Jack lately and this weekend, he kept Jack at his apartment.  I dropped him off so that I could check things out and was, quite honestly, stunned at the home he had created within the walls of his bachelor pad.  He had a beautiful crib with sweet blue sailboat themed bedding.  He had tiny clothes for Jack to wear and toys and food that were all age and stage appropriate.  And he had photos of Jack on the refrigerator and on the wall.  In frames.   And while it took my breath away to see pictures of my son on the walls of a person who has essentially become a stranger to me, I had to admit that he was making an honest effort. 

At least I hope it’s an honest effort.  I remember the day I told him I was pregnant and the following six months, during which he wanted nothing to do with the baby.  And I remember the eight months after Jack was born when his father continued his devotion to his job, and yet failed to attend even a single doctors appointment.  I even asked him at one point to take a CPR class so that he could come keep Jack while I slept during the exhausting first months home when I was waking every three hours to pump milk, and feed and medicate Jack.  I remember that he said “no” and that he just didn’t think he could be involved. 

It’s hard to trust this man and I don’t yet believe that his commitment to Jack is real, or will continue.  Especially if Jack gets sick again, which he almost certainly will.  He will need another heart surgery before adulthood, it’s not a maybe.  And will his father show up and help me change the bandages and give the medication and monitor the heart rate?  I don’t know.  I hope so.  But I know, for sure, that I don’t want to be the reason that he isn’t.  I waste a lot of time worrying about tomorrow, but the thing I worry the most about is having to tell Jack, someday, that his father isn’t coming to see him as planned.  But if that is because told him that he couldn’t come and I wanted to protect him, then I will be the real cause of his pain, and I don’t want to be the reason for any further pain in Jack’s life.  He’s had enough for a lifetime. 

For now, I am making every effort to allow Jack and his father visitation each time it is requested.  And while we are apart I fret and worry about how Jack is doing and whether this will continue, and whether I should have that margarita because what it I’m called on to go retrieve Jack because his father changed his mind.  And then I stop.  And I have the margarita.  And I try to enjoy my alone time, because his father has had almost two years of “him time” and now it’s my turn. 

Being a good mother is harder than it looks.  So much harder…

Maggie

Back in the saddle again…

In my last post I mentioned that there were several things on my plate that were causing me stress, and that I had begun to cut myself some slack so that I could just live a little.  You’ll be happy to know that the good parts have continued!  I have been less focused on laundry, the divorce and responsibilites and more focused on happily living each day.  Yesterday I even went to the movie theatre.  All by myself!  And I loved it!  I saw Larry Crowne, with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts.  I loved the movie, and I had a big bag of buttered popcorn and a huge coke.  I won’t even let myself think of the hundreds (thousands?!?!) of calories that I consumed, because it doesn’t matter.  Everything in moderation, I always say.  Or at least I’m starting to say.

As I said in the last post, my houseguests have moved out.  They were here for only about six weeks, and while it was different, I really enjoyed having them here.  I had some help with Jack, and with chores, but also, I had someone to talk to in the evenings when I get so lonely.  I knew it was temporary, and when my friend told me she had found a full time job and an apartment I swallowed my dissappointment at losing them and celebrated her victory.  After all her struggles, going through a divorce, becoming a single mother, moving twice, and now beginning to win back her independence, I was thrilled to see her realize some meaningful success.

So they are gone and I have my office back.  Which is a great thing because I have found out that I do not keep up with my writing if the laptop is in my bedroom.  Tonight I am sitting at my desk in my newly reclaimed office, which I am redecorating.  I will post pictures soon.

For this weeks project, I have decided to attempt to limit my television time and use that time to do other things I would enjoy more.  We have all read that excessive television viewing is linked to obesity and bad health, but I have a theory that it is also related to my sadness and depression.  My theory is basically this:  I am tired at night, so I watch tv.  This means that I don’t get chores or projects done around the house.  Therefore when I wake up the next morning, I find undone laundry or dishes, or go another day without finishing that quilt I’ve been working on for 6 years.  This causes me to feel depressed and overwhelmed (and like a failure) so I am tired and sad.  That causes me to want to do nothing but sit on the couch and watch tv.  And thus, the cycle begins again.  This doesn’t even take into account the lost opportunities to socialize with other people, or play with Jack and teach him something new, instead of watching yet another hour of “must see tv”.

So, I am breaking the cycle.  At least for this week and then we’ll see how it goes.  But today has been great, so far.  I am allowing some tv time, but it’s only to allow myself to maintain a link to the outside world.  I had it on a news show this morning while I was preparing Jack’s breakfast, then this evening, I watched the news again.  It was a total of about 90 minutes of tv news, and honestly, if I can cut that down tomorrow, I will.  I got far more information listening to the talk radio station while I was at work.  So what did I get done today?  Well…….

* Changed the sheets on my bed.  This is a actually a big deal, because it’s a big-ass california king bed we bought for my 6’7” ex-husband who didn’t take the monstrosity when he left.  I count this ridiculously time consuming, and exhausting activity as cardio, so I was able to skip my workout today.  I am considering alternating which side of the bed I sleep on so that I can stretch this chore out another week.

* Worked four hours at my part time job.

* Cooked, divided and froze homemade baby food for Jack including sweet potatoes, butternut squash, crowder peas and a baby version of chicken chili.  I prepared enough to feed him for two weeks, and have no tupperware left in the cabinets.

* Washed dishes.   All of them.  There isn’t a dirty dish in the whole house.  Even the dog bowls got washed today.

* Transferred all my information to a new day planner.  I love doing this!  Is that weird?  Nah!  It’s awesome!  New planner day!!!

* Mounted the baby monitor.  My child is 15 months old and I have only today mounted the monitor above his bed.  Prior to today, it was rigged up via the wire to hang over the closet door next to his crib.  It worked fine, but I rarely went into his closet because I would have to disturb the wire hanging system.  Today I found a dozen outfits in the closets that I had forgotten he even had.

* Listened to the Salsa-music station and danced with Jack for an hour.  What a joyful noise it is to hear your child laugh and squeal when you dance him around the living room!  When I get tired and put him down for a few minutes he bounces around and dances on his own!  He and I are going to have a great time this week!

* Took a guitar lesson!  This was so exciting and could be a project all in itself.  I took lessons “the summer before everything changed” and really enjoyed it.  I became quite good at performing the collected works of Miss Phoebe Buffett, from Friends, especially “Smelly Cat.”  But in the turmoil of the past two years, I let this activity fall to the side.  Well, I am on the search for happiness, dammit!!  And I know that music makes me happy, so I am back at it.  Tonight, I played and sang “You Are My Sunshine” for Sweet Baby J, and he loved it.  See?  I’m happier already…

So, if you’re game, join me in this weeks challenge and turn your own television off.  For a few hours, for a day, for the rest of the week.  Whatever you want to try.  And then come back and post a comment and let me know what you got done.  And if you hated it and turned the tv right back on, that’s cool, let me know that, too!  Find happiness where you can.  For me, maybe it’s in a house where the television isn’t on all day.  I’ll let you know….

Have a good week!

Maggie

The Good Girl

So, I didn’t move to Hawai’i, even though I really want to.  Sorry I haven’t written in a while but the past several weeks have been quite trying.  The divorce negotiations continue in earnest and hopefully will come to an end soon.  While there are no “knock down drag outs” with my soon-to-be-ex, he’s just not the type to argue, I am finding that the process is draining and more depressing than I ever imagined.   Even though he left, he wanted the divorce, and he is the one with unfettered freedom and time, I am the one who is responsible for working with the lawyer to draw up the papers and divide the life that we built together.

In all honesty, that’s partly my decision.   When he left, he accused me of being controlling.  Mainly because I wanted to pay off debt, save for a rainy day and generally, act like an adult.  He wanted to buy flat screen tv’s and computers and, in my best estimation, act like a teenage boy.  Since I handled the finances and applied for every financial product we ever acquired, handling a divorce naturally falls into my wheelhouse.   But I’m raising “our” son pretty much on my own, and so the amount of time that I have to do grown up marriage-breaking is limited.  Fortunately I have found a wonderful firm in the same building where I manage to work part time.  Today, they commended my attention to detail and commitment to get it right now, so that we don’t have to revisit anything in a few years when there is a disagreement due to lack of specificity.  So, essentially, I was told that my “controlling” nature was a benefit in the arena of grown up contracts negotiation.  That helped a little, but still, I am home on a Friday night, alone, eating chocolate and watching reruns of Frasier.

So what have I been doing to continue my drive towards happiness?  Well just wait til you hear…

I am not controlling, but I am remarkably disciplined.  If someone told me that I needed to complete a list of 73 obscure tasks in order to accomplish or achieve something, I would do them, and I would do them perfectly, whether the accomplishment interested me or not.  I have several rules that I live by, and while some of them are extremely valuable (save for emergencies before buying new shoes, always wear a seatbelt), I have found that many are serving no real purpose, and are even making me unhappy.  For example, for years, I didn’t allow myself to watch movies during the week because to devote two hours to anything that didn’t accomplish something “valuable” was frivolous.  But recently I began to look more closely at the rules I have and how they help, or hurt me.  And I decided that the “no movies during the week” rule was a stupid one.  So I rented a movie.  Then another.  Then another. 

And the world didn’t come to an end, and I didn’t lose the house, and the laundry still got done, and I still made it to work the next day!  I have seen eleven movies in the past two weeks and even saw two on the same night on two occasions.  I also had guacamole for dinner one night and it wasn’t a “well balanced” or “healthy” meal!  And I LIVED!!  Is it a big, life changing thing?  Probably not.  But have I allowed myself a little latitude to enjoy life a bit more and not be so hard on myself?  Yes.  And that’s the point.  I have been very hard on myself for years, maybe decades, and it’s done nothing but make me feel badly about myself.  So I stopped.  Or at least began to apply the brakes.  And it feels great.  It’s a small gesture towards self acceptance but it has made quite a difference.

I am working on a few more projects that I want to tackle, and soon, I’ll post an update on the patio I set up in week one, and my houseguests, who are moving out (it’s a good thing for them!).  I just finished a candy bar that I bought for a fund raiser  (so I was able to let go of my “don’t buy sweets rule”) and I’m listening to a thunderstorm.  I’m not concerned, in the least, that I haven’t washed a load of laundry today, or that the work that I brought home remains undone, or that the dishes remain in the sink.  Because it just doesn’t matter.  I don’t always have to be “doing” something in order to be valuable, worthy, or a “good girl,” or successful.  I can just be me.  Jack’s mama, who is exhausted and sore and just laying in bed. 

And who is still a good person.

Enjoy your weekend….

Maggie