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

Will you just tell me what my passion is, please?

Three years ago this month, I was planning to quit my field sales job and begin looking for my “passion” and my “dream job.”  I have always enjoyed sales, but something was missing in my life and I wasn’t “blissfully happy.”  Of course, what happened instead was quite life-changing, has been documented in this blog.  And in the midst of taking care of Jack, and divorcing LK, I have been too busy to actually work on finding my passion.

Our society is very concerned with finding your passion, or bliss and working at the job that was meant for you, and makes your life full.  So, what happens if you haven’t found it?  Well, you are miserable and stuck in a job you hate and wondering why, oh why, can’t you figure out what your passion is?  It’s a lonely and sad place to be.  Especially when you see all the beautiful people on television living their own personal dreams.

I have been trying to figure out my passion for so long that it’s become comical at this point.  And the sad thing is that I may have finally realized that my passion is to love and raise children, but since I married a man who didn’t want children, I have just the one, and now I don’t have the option to stay home with him.  In any case, the search continues.

While I was in therapy, I frequently asked my therapist what the hell my passion was.  I figured that she was listening to me for an hour a week, and had great insights, surely if she was paying attention, she knew what it was?  But either she didn’t know, or she wasn’t telling.  I would have to do that hard work on my own.

So then, I asked a friend, who is a business coach, and while she was able to tell me what she saw me get excited about, it wasn’t an actual declaration of what my passion was, and there was no path for my future to be had.  But she did give me a list of questions to work through that would cause me to consider what it was that made me happy or fulfilled or excited.  And as I have been working through them, I am realizing that I don’t know what makes me feel that way.  Except for caring for Jack.  And as good as I am at that role, there is no one offering to pay me for it.  Yet.

I did consider a nursing career while I was in the trenches of the hospital and caring for Jack while he was very sick.  I decided that I only really wanted to care for Jack, and although I would love to take care of other babies, the pain of losing any (which does happen, as I came to find out while at Children’s Healthcare) was more than my tender heart could bear.

So I am going to return to the quest to find my passion for a while.  I am going to really “sit with myself and feel my emotions” and reflect and question and consider what may help me find the path to my passion.  I do realize that my passion may actually be Jack, and not some job or career that will allow me to support him.  So, perhaps a paying job that does not fulfill all my dreams, and even makes me less than blissful, is still in the cards.  But maybe I will find some passion that I can convert into an income.  I am very hopeful.

As with all of my projects, I began my research with Google.  If you Google “how do I find my passion” you will get over 62 million results (in under .13 seconds) with a myriad of techniques and exercises to help you find said passion.  I am going to try three in the next few days:

1:  Self Reflective questions that ask what in my life has been exciting, when have I felt fulfilled, when I felt trapped or unhappy, etc.

2:  A Dream Board:  This is a collage that includes pictures and words that I respond to in some way, or represent the way I want my life to look, or feel, or be like at some point.   I am instructed to flip through magazines and cut out any picture or word that I am drawn to, even if I don’t understand it at the time.  I am getting less and less “engineer-y” and more and more “artsy fartsy” lately and the old me would have scoffed at this “go with your feelings” nonsense, but I am really looking forward to this one.

3:  A Core Values List:  This is something that I did when I went through a Franklin Covey course and really helped me focus my abilities and goals in my sales job.  I am hopeful that if I complete this exercise while considering my personal life, it will be similarly successful.

So, there you have it.  The quest for my passion has begun.  You’ll notice that “find a man” is not on the list as yet.  I am getting closer to being ready to try to date again, but I’m not there yet.  I don’t think I have the energy to find someone and make sure he’s feeling good about himself and feels loved until I’ve done the same for myself.  I am going to find my passion, and then if a man fits into the plan, I’ll look for him at that time.  For now, it’s about me and Jack and our future.

And I’m really hope my passion involves living at a beach house…

Passionately yours,

Maggie

Visitation and Mama’s Time Off

Last week, I wrote about the big change in our lives; LK’s girlfriend, and their plans to take Baby Jack to another state to visit his family.  On Friday, as I drove Jack to the meeting point, I listened to sad music, trying to elicit some sort of cathartic crying so that I would be able to handle the meeting without crying in front of anyone.  And as I took the exit and prepared to turn left towards the assigned parking lot, I instead turned right as the tears finally came.  I sobbed and drove around Buckhead, trying to keep my old Jeep in my lane and not hit any of the expensive foreign cars that surrounded me, and actually considered driving home and keeping my baby to myself.

But, I finally did go to the drop off point, and when LK got out of his truck, which she was driving, he was on a conference call with work.  As his wife, I was never able to get him to leave a conference call and listen to me.  As the mother of the child that he wanted to show off to his family, he took the earphones out quickly and listened intently.  I enjoyed this change quite a bit.  While there, I taught them how to monitor Jack’s heart and what to listen for and reminded them to keep him hydrated and away from certain foods.  As they drove away, I was thankful that I had scheduled a full weekend of distractions, and prayed that LK would be able to leave his work behind enough to keep Jack safe.

During their time together Jack had three diaper blow outs, one in the car and two at 2 o’clock in the morning (YES!).  He also woke screaming during the night and kept LK up for a couple of hours (YES!).  I say “YES!” to these things, because they didn’t cause Jack any real distress and LK got to see a snippet of the months of sleepless nights and poop festivals that I have had to handle on my own.  Plus, it’s hilarious.

Jack also turned blue this weekend.  I had warned LK that too much sodium or too little fluids could cause this, and that unless it was paired with other symptoms that indicated heart failure, he just needed some quiet time and water to improve hydration and blood flow.  I knew that LK thought I was exaggerating when I warned him about this, so I was glad that it happened.  It’s far more terrifying to be in the presence of a cyanotic child than you might imagine, and LK again got a taste of what my normal has been.

So, back to the “Me time” portion of the weekend!  First on my agenda was lunch with two friends that I used to work with, D and C.  We had a delicious lunch and laughed so much my stomach hurt and I realized that the dinner plans I had would find me alone and sad, so I invited Deb to join me and she agreed!  From there, I headed to the Ritz Carlton which is beautiful, and quite expensive.  Now, if you’re concerned that I am being reckless with my money as a single mother, recognize that if I paid myself a mere $4 per week that I gestated and cared for Jack alone, I saved enough to pay for this weekend.  And if you know me, you know that I had this cash in savings for just this type of occasion.  At the Ritz, I enjoyed several spa treatements, delicious food and drinks, and after dinner, D and I even got hit on by a couple of way too young, way too drunk men. 

On Saturday afternoon, I headed home and found myself in a dark, quiet house.  I immediately started scrambling, doing the math in my head of what needed to be done, prioritizing those things and estimating how many of them I could complete before Jack was returned to me.  Then I remembered that it was only Saturday and I wouldn’t be getting Jack back til Sunday evening.  So I took a nap on the couch.  During a thunder storm.   And it was glorious.  When I woke up, I went to dinner with a friend then came home and went to bed early.  Sunday found me at Church and then a day of chores with Daddy and Donna.

That Sunday afternoon, I began to feel that familiar cluster of unidentifiable, but uncomfortable emotions in the pit of my stomach.  I know that not having Jack around is hard, but will get easier.  I know that I have been the sole caregiver for two years, and I deserve a break.  And I know that I am still a good mother if I take time for myself.  But the sadness and anger and guilt still came, so I called my sister.  She is, to me, like an Oracle in Ancient Greece.  There is no problem that I have that she can’t distill into a few succinct words that remove all the pretense and mystery.  When I described my feelings, she said “well, you miss your baby, so you hate the people who have him.”  Of course.  I miss Jack and I’m jealous of them for having them, and angry that after all the hard work was done keeping him alive, LK swooped in to have fun with him “every other weekend.”  That girl is a genius.

Jack was returned to me so exhausted that he just wanted to go to bed.  He didn’t play with me, didn’t talk much and didn’t reach for me.  It broke my heart and I was certain that he had forgotten about me during his time away.  Our bond was broken and would never be remade.  So I went to bed devastated and hoped that I hadn’t made a mistake.  Of course, on Monday morning, Jack was rested and loved me like his own personal rock star again.  But I have been in a funk for days.   

I know that each time LK has Jack, it’ll get easier for me to be alone, and I may even begin to enjoy my time alone.  But for now, it is heart breaking and lonely and sad.  But just for me.  I have raised a son so happy and secure that he is relatively happy in all situations.  And I guess I should be proud of that.

Maybe I’ll relax more next time,

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