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

 

 

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

Well, of course he did…

I have been working on a post that I had planned to publish tomorrow about my plans for the weekend.  Yesterday, LK called and asked if he could possibly have Jack for two days this weekend so that he could take him out of the state to visit his family.  In asking, he told me about the nearest hospital to his family’s home, the name of the pediatric cardiologist and the plan for Jack should anything happen.  I was stunned by his preparation and said I’d think about it but didn’t see any reason that I couldn’t trust him to protect Jack for two days.

This afternoon, LK called to discuss the settlement agreement and stunned me with a 90 minute conversation in which he was gracious, respectful and appreciative of all I have done to raise Jack alone.  He explained why his heart has changed and he has been so involved lately, when in the beginning he couldn’t be.  I have been wondering about many of the things he told me for a long time and was unable to trust his motivations without the information he shared.  He convinced me that his feelings towards Jack were real.

I had begun to plan a weekend getaway for myself and was trying to decide between a “staycation” or a four star spa visit.  I was preparing myself to miss Jack terribly but enjoy my time alone to relax and recuperate after two years of full-time mommying.  I was preparing to have some me time.

But tonight, LK informed me, after I refused to remove the “moral’s clause” in the papers (which prohibits overnight guests of the opposite sex) that he’d like to talk to me about something.  He’s “met someone” and he’d like to take her with him and Jack to visit his family this weekend.  She has met Jack once before but never stayed overnight and has been completely respectful of the situation and supported and encouraged LK to increase his commitment to Jack. 

There is a lot of other information that I could include here, but suffice it to say, he was incredibly sensitive to my feelings and understood that his allowing them to meet in the past was a mistake without having told me.  He wants to have an honest relationship moving forward so that we can best co-parent.

She’s a “great person who would be safe and helpful around Jack” and LK would like us to meet before this weekend.  He understands that allowing her around Jack without my consent is a bad idea and disrespectful.

I was going to publish a post tomorrow about my weekend plans and my growth in moving towards alone time.  Instead, I’m meeting her.  So I guess I’ll be growing a whole lot more than I thought.  I’m not feeling sad.  Not mad.  Not sure what I’m feeling.  I don’t have any anger towards her and only hope that she is a good person and good to Jack.  And I’m not mad at LK.  I want him to be happy.  And I want Jack to be happy.  And I want to be happy. 

Hmmm.  So this week I have a project that I didn’t plan on, but I think it could help me move towards happiness.  Or I will be in prison tomorrow night.  Do they let prisoners blog?  We’ll see…

Confused and hopeful,

Maggie

Jack already thinks I’m perfect…

Last week found me taking a small slide backwards from my quest for happiness, but overall was good.  Jack’s sitter had gone on vacation and I while I was able to find a sitter for a few hours, I spent much of my week in the house with Jack.  As a childless career woman, I remember thinking that women who were stay at home mothers were crazy, and that there was no way I could ever handle that much domesticity.  Then I had Jack, and my mind spun a post-partum tale of home bound bliss that said I wanted to be with him every second of every day.  And then the pregnancy hormones wore off and I needed some “Maggie time” so badly it felt like I couldn’t breathe.  I love being with Jack, but realized last week that I have spent every single day for the past 22 months as a mother, with no real break.  When Jack was born and went to the Children’t Hospital, there was a period when he was in ICU care that I couldn’t spend the nights with him, but I was there all day.  Then they put him in a step-down room and I spent 24 hours a day in the room with him.  Since returning home, the only three nights I have been away from him have been the nights LK has kept him.  This has left me no time to go on a trip or take any real time for myself to relax of regroup.

So in the coming weeks, I am going to try very hard to find a way to take a few nights to go to the beach, or even a hotel with a pool and a spa.  A friend with complete freedom to travel at any time pointed out that I sounded “trapped” in my last post, and although I don’t want to admit that, because then I sound like a bad mother, I have felt trapped.  I want to go to a beach resort, or a European city and just take care of me for a few days.  I have a lead on a great sitter for Jack and so now it’s just getting the timing and logistics hammered out.  I hope to be writing about my mini-vacation soon…

As for last week, I didn’t have a sitter for as many hours as ususal, so I didn’t get to work that much, and I was exhausted every night.  I did read a few things, although I didn’t get a whole book read.  One interesting thing that I read was a short story from the book “Kitchen Table Wisdom” by Rachel Naomi Remen.  She is a psychiatrist/therapist and in this essay called “Beyond Perfection” she describes her youth, and her struggle to gain approval from her father.  He was never impressed with her 98 on a test, and instead asked what happened to the other two points, crushing her spirit and ensuring that she would study relentlessly for every future test she ever had.  She points out that the term “unconditional love” is superfluous because love is, by definition, unconditional.  What we are looking for is love, but what we actually seek is approval, and since we do that with accomplishments or efforts outside of giving love, we compromise our happiness by seeking perfection.  She eventually marries a man who, after she spends an inordinate amount of time studying for a driving test on which she earns a perfect score, asks her why on earth she’d want to do that.  He asked why she traded the lunch in the park and the visit to the museum for a few more points on a test that she could have just “passed” and had the same result:  a license.  She realizes that by studying so much the past week, she missed out on living and enjoying life, and the approval for the perfect score didn’t come, and it didn’t reallly matter.

I wish it were easier to just stop trying to be perfect.  I’m not perfect, and I know no one is, but each time I fail to do something, I feel badly and unworthy.  And yet, no one else seems to care.  I know that my friends and family don’t care if I show up in a slightly wrinkled shirt, or if Jack is wearing a bib with a stain on it, but I really wish that everything were “perfect.”  I don’t know what perfect is, but I know that I’m not there yet.  Last week, I accepted every single invitation for a meal or meeting, even though I was tired, and would have rather slept, or do laundry or otherwise get something accomplished.  And as it turns out, I had a great time out with friends.  I have far better memories of laughing with “Grant’s Mama” talking about raising sons, and with my friend “T” talking about finding time to exercise and take care of ourselves, and on the phone with so many others.  And not one person asked me why my eyebrows hadn’t been tweezed lately, and no one asked if I had cleaned my toilets that week or ironed my shirts for tomorrow.  They just enjoyed me, and I them.

So, for this week, I have one project that I want to accomplish, and several goals for relaxation and enjoyment.  First of all, I am going to finish building out the closet in the guest room.  I will post pictures soon, but I am pulling out the wire shelf that the builder put in and building out a wooden closet organizer.  I have wanted to do this since we bought the house, but here I am 11 years later, and just getting it done.  But I’m done feeling bad about it.  I’ll get it done when I get it done, and hopefully that will be this week.  If not, then next week, or the next.  Also, I am going to find a painter to paint the library and living room, both of which were painted when we moved in.  I have hated the color since it dried, but since LK refused to repaint a freshly painted room, I have lived with it.  Actually, I have scowled at it every morning for 11 years wishing that it didn’t remind me of the past 11 years that I’ve had to look at it.  I know it may cost several hundred dollars, but the price will be well worth the boost in morale, especially if it frees me from that morning scowl.  And as an added bonus, if I can work it out, I am going to get a massage.  And maybe go to a movie.  Ok, now I’m getting a little crazy.  Too much me time.  Right?  No?  Ok, I’ll do it!!

Peacefully yours,

Maggie

A Measure of Success…

I do not fail.  Failure is for the weak and the stupid, and I am neither.  If I fail at something, it is because I didn’t try hard enough, or I gave up too soon.  No, failure is not an option.  Of course, I’ve had set backs in my life, but I kept at it until my goal was achieved, even if I had long ago decided the goal was no longer appealing to me.  It’s the principle of the thing.  So, where exactly does the fact that I have been part of a failed marriage fit into my life plan?  If I get a divorce, it’s official.  I failed at marriage and didn’t plan well enough, didn’t try hard enough, wasn’t good enough…

This is where I have been for the past three weeks.  Trying to reconcile in my mind the fact that I had failed, and yet I had no opportunity to fix it.  I don’t want to be a failure.  I know that he left me and there was nothing I could have done to make him face the issues and stay.  What did I do wrong?  How could I have prevented it?  Why didn’t I make him talk to me about it?  Who knows.  But once someone abandons you in such a cruel way, it’s hard to see yourself as worthy, attractive or desirable.  I never questioned my intellect or value to Jack, but for some reason the physical and emotional shortcomings continue to plague me. 

So to “challenge this belief” and move forward, I wondered if I hadn’t retained a lawyer because I hoped he’d return to me.  No, that’s not it.  Moving forward, I won’t date any man who abandoned his child, I sure as hell won’t date the man who abandoned mine.  Did I still love him?  No, that’s not it.  Many disgusting things had ensured that love would never again be an option.  It was because if I visited a lawyer it would happen.  The divorce.  The legal, public, official and damning confirmation of my failure.  So as my Project 3, I did retain a lawyer.  An awesome, capable, bitch-on-wheels (in case we go to court) lawyer who assured me that of all the cases she’s heard, this one for sure indicated that I was not the failure in the marriage.  So I gave her a big check and we have been working on the details since then.

Project 4 was initiating the negotiations, which meant that I would actually have to talk to “him” and hammer out the checklist of items from the lawyer.  The negotiations with my soon-to-be-ex are going well.  One thing I do not fail at is managing money and caring for Jack.  Doing this out of court will ensure that Jack will receive the most money, and not the lawyers.  And certainly more importantly, he will receive the gift of two parents who are able to talk calmly to one another and behave civilly together where he is invovled.  As you might imagine, inside I am raging with anger and contempt for the asshole who is now interested in Jack, even though he couldn’t be bothered while his chest was open and his heart stopped beating.  But on the outside, I am a calm, cool customer.  I’m impressed with my restraint, quite frankly.  But that anger will fade, I’m sure, as those awful memories are replaced by newer, better memories of him actually showing up for Jack in the future.  At least, I really hope that happens.

In order to address some of my physical self-consciousness, Project 5 involved returning to a regular exercise regime.  In the past, I did Tae Kwon Do, and since the “goal” is black belt, I achieved that.  But now I’m doing a Zumba class, and Yoga, and they are both allowing me to explore a more feminine side of myself, while still working out my aggressions.  Is it as effective at getting the anger out as kicking the crap out of someone who is trying to do the same to me?  Hell, no.  But am I enjoying it and learning how to be graceful and shake my hips a little?  Surprisingly, yes.  One day last week, a man at the gym approached me and started in with the small talk.  I froze up and made what I’m sure were several barely coherent attempts at returning dialog.  I am WAAAY out of practice, but hey, I got approached, so that’s a good sign for the future!

So that’s where I’ve been.  Challenging beliefs about failure, and self-worth and taking charge of my future by finally moving forward on the divorce.  I become physically ill thinking about my coming status as a “divorcee” and all that that word conjures, but I do now realize that the “goal” had long ago become unappealing.  I deserve a marriage with two interested and participating partners, and I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life in one that is anything less.  So I am moving forward, and with any luck (oh how it pains me to seem blase about it, I’m really not) I’ll be single before Fall.  At which time, all the single, musical, artistic, handy, outdoorsy, sophisticated, physically active, financially stable, emotionally mature, family oriented, considerate, willing to take dance lessons, animal lover, Baby Jack fan, interesting, funny, independent but loving men better look out!  Maybe one of my coming projects should be “lowering my expectations”?  I’ll keep you posted…

Empowered and hopefully yours,

Maggie

Happy Mothers Day…

When a woman becomes a mother, she must immediately begin to make decisions that, though they may hurt her child, are for the best.  I had to do more than most in the way of injuring my child, for the greater good.  I had to approve heart catheterizations, open heart surgery, sticks, pokes, tests and exams.  The list is so long that I become depressed just thinking about it.  But for the most part, had I refused to do any of those things, my son would not have been doing so well, and may not even have survived.

Most mothers have the childs father, her husband, by her side to help with the decision making, or to at least hold her while she cries over it.  I didn’t.  In fact, when Jack’s father visited him following his open heart surgery he put down his laptop long enough to say “I don’t feel that love you’re supposed to feel for a child.”  I have harbored that pain for Jack since then, and while at the beginning, I felt that his father not being involved would be the most hurtful thing to him, I came to accept it and even look forward to a wonderful life despite it.  But as the saying goes, “be careful what you wish for,” because since the beginning of the year, his father has made his desire to be involved with Jack known and has requested overnight visitation.  We aren’t to that level yet, but he is practicing caring for Jack when he isn’t travelling, and his travel schedule brought him to the house yesterday.  Mother’s Day.  My day.

But as in the beginning, when I had to make decisions that hurt Jack in order to help him, this time I had to make a decision that hurt me, in order to help him.  I live in fear that his father will become involved in his life, and then at some point down the road, he will just decide that he’s had enough, and walk away, as he did two years ago.  And yet, I must let him be involved because it’s for the best.  At least that’s what people keep telling me.  But Jack’s not a typical child, so I am making sure that his father knows not only how to change a diaper and prepare his meals, but also how to recognize when quick breathing is tachypnia, and not just excitement.  When blue lips are cold, and when they are circulatory or oxygenation problems.  And of course, he is exasperated and frustrated at me for not just letting him take “his” son with him.  

Last weekend, I insisted that he attend a conference at Egleston including a panel discussion with CHD survivors, which included a 26-year-old with Jack’s diagnosis who had had two valve replacements already in his young life.   Jack’s father actually had no idea that Jack wasn’t done with surgeries and believed that he was healthy and normal.  How can that be?!?  Everyone I know understands that Jack will have surgeries for the rest of his life and needs special care to ensure that he isn’t put at risk for infections or sickeness.  But this guy didn’t know that, and because he donated sperm, the state of Georgia believes that he deserves unsupervised visitation with Jack unless or until he’s in imminent danger.  But that doesn’t really work with my personality, so we will do this my way.  He will do the hard work and learn how to care for Jack, or I will protect Jack from him, at any cost.

And maybe someday it will hurt Jack to know that I kept them apart a little in the beginning, or maybe he’ll be happy to be alive because I made sure that he would be well taken care of before I sent him out into the world with a man who has been a stranger up to now.  It is a daily struggle to do what is right by Jack, especially since I feel that since I was there to make the hard decisions and slept in the hospital those first two months, that I am the only one who deserves unfettered access to Jack.  Someone told me that no one can “own” someone else.  I corrected her and told her that I did own Jack, and he me.  We are a pair and I would do anything to protect and make him happy.  And she suggested that in the future, though it may break my heart now, knowing his father may make him happy.  And I am reluctantly coming to accept that.

So here I sit heartbroken and angry that my son was not with me on Mother’s Day, and I’m reminded of an ancient native american story:  A grandparent is telling her grandchild that there are two wolves living in her heart.  One is loving and kind, the other vicious and hateful.  The wolves are at war, and only one will survive.  The child asks which one will win the war and live, and the grandparent replies, The one which I feed. 

Although I want to protect Jack from the abandonment and rejection that I felt, and still feel so fresh, I have to remind myself that he doesn’t remember that he, too was abandoned and rejected at one time.  He still has a fresh heart and the loving wolf is being fed within his.  Because I’m a mother, I have to do things that hurt him so that he’ll be healthy.  But for that same reason, I also have to do things that hurt me.  And because I love him so much, so deeply, so completely, I will do this for him.  And if he is hurt in the future, I will teach him again to feed the loving wolf.  As hard as it is to do, Lord how it is hard, it’s the only way to ensure a healthy future, because if the vicious wolf wins, surely he will kill the whole body from within.

God Bless the Mothers,

Maggie

Project 2: Complete

I managed, with some help from family, friends and prayer, to get both bedrooms cleaned and ready for my guests.  The office now has a bed in it, and both are made and comfy for a welcoming stay.  My houseguests arrived this afternoon, following a multi-day road trip to get here, and M.A.’s sweet son said “I can’t believe we’re finally back in Fayetteville!”   Such a sweetheart.  We’re all happy he’s back, too!

What I realized this week was that the true project wasn’t simply getting the rooms ready for them, although it needed to be done, and was quite a lot of work.  No, the true project was getting myself ready to share my house with other people.  I knew that my persnikity-ness was a barrier to happiness in my life.  I like things quiet, and I like to do things a certain way, and I like my schedule.  But someone can have things in their home exactly as they want them, and still be completely isolated and lonely and unhappy in their life.  I wouldn’t say that I have been “completely unhappy” but I have certainly been isolated and lonely. 

This past week, I was really getting ready to open myself up to living with other people again and engage in relationships with people in very close quarters.  What I realized was that I had a lot of fear of rejection and abandonment.  I know where it comes from, but couldn’t explain to myself why I felt those fears in this situation.  Now I understand that I don’t want to be overbearing or rigid in my interactions with my houseguests just so that I can keep things the way I want them.  I want so badly not to offend them and force them to feel unwelcomed, or uncomfortable and feel like they can’t live here.  I don’t like things in my life the way they are, and that’s why I’m attempting this whole project.

So in short, the rooms were transformed this past week, and I made progress in my own transformation.  The rooms in my brain and heart are also being rearranged and the long held beliefs about how things “should be” are being swept out.  I feel very good about this new, on-going project and have high hopes for a great summer with our guests.

Best,

Maggie