Wednesday, December 4, 2019

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year




I love the holiday season, I’m one of those silly, antler-headband wearing, Christmas carol humming, skipping along oohing and aaahing at Christmas lights people, running around with my Christmas cards and holiday packages.  And I haven’t even gotten to the baking part of the season!  LOL.

Anyway, the ex does not disappoint with his passive aggressive emailing and texting about the holiday schedule, or being a general pain in the butt whenever it’s possible.  I thought it couldn’t get worse than finding out he’s keeping the girls from his mom.  But!  He never fails to surprise.  Amidst the crazy conflict drama, an accidental text stream appeared in my phone.

Ex: Morning my love.  I hope you rest today (heart emoji)

(An hour later)

Ex:  Sorry wrong person

Me—embracing the spirit of the holidays:  Happy for you, (Ex’s first name)!  Happy Thanksgiving *smiley face*

Once I hit send, I immediately thought, oh no, was that crazy?  Then, oh well, too late anyway.  LOL.  It’s about choosing to be kind when you’re able to be, with no expectation about response. 

*****

As we come to a close of 2019 and gear up for 2020, I’m thinking of the things I’d like to let go and the things that I will embrace.

I’d like to let go of the knee-jerk anxiety that comes whenever I get a text or an email from the Ex.

I’d like to let go of the social anxiety I sometimes feel when I’m at work or dealing with family pressures.

I’d like to let go of the Ex and that he moves away with his long distance girlfriend (tee hee).

I’d like to embrace peace and kindness and forgiveness—for myself and others.

I’d like to embrace balance in my work and family responsibilities—that I can feel confidence in the things that I know, and comfort that if I don’t know something, I’ll figure out a solution or a way forward that is best for the girls and for me. 

I’d like to embrace the journey—that the moment to moment experiences aren’t something I have to push through, get through, to ‘get to the other side’—that somehow living those experiences are the point, and the ‘getting to the other side’ is just a comforting stop on the way.  That the “happy endings” are really connections on the journey so that one day, we can look back and see a beautiful pattern of love and learning and acceptance.

I have a lot of embracing to do!  Let’s do our best.

Tis the season!


Monday, November 25, 2019

Thanksgiving: A Story of Grandma Love (and the Ex who has a problem with it)


With my mom passing in 2018, I was thinking more and more about the girls’ grandmother (ex husband’s mother) over the last year—grandma J was always very nice to me and just loved the girls, but during the divorce she had to pick a side, which I always understood.  I also know she was troubled by my ex’s behavior, she shared with me a few times about it, but he was a bully, and when the legal stuff came down, she stood by him.  After all, he was living with her at the time and who knows what he was saying to her about me (my hunch, she’ll take the kids and you’ll never see the girls). 


Last year, I heard through the grapevine that grandma had asked my ex to leave her home, as the conflict between him and his older brother was too stressful for my former mother in law (apparently this happened soon after my mom had passed away).  Given my ex’s difficulty with anger, this was not a surprise to me, but also weirdly validating that finally, after all these years, grandma J was standing her ground and asking for a peaceful house.  That house had seen so much anger and violence through the years with my ex’s father’s alcoholism and anger outbursts before he passed in the late 90s.  In hindsight, it’s clear how he inherited them, and how his family dynamic was set in stone…

Over the years, I’ve thought of Grandma J and the girls’ Uncle (he went on record during the legal proceedings, stating that his brother had an anger problem and he feared for the girls’ safety—the one person who said anything), and missed them.  I understood they had to be divided from me.  In the beginning of post-divorce life, I tried to reach out for the girls’ sake, but the ex stepped in, demanding how “dare” I contact his mom.  So instead, I did do small things—i.e. every Christmas, I wondered if the treats that the girls made ever made it through to them when he lived there.  Last year, after I learned he moved out, the girls and I made our own short visit to drop off home made cookies and goodies at the holidays.

And when DD1 made her school tennis team last year, I called and had a nice chat with Grandma about the girls; and once, when DD2 was sick, I asked Grandma to watch her, when the Ex couldn’t (the rules say under certain conditions, I have to ask him first), and that was so nice!

So after talking some more with my therapist this year, I decided that when DD1 made her tennis team again (yay, DD1!), I would call again.  And the beauty of this year’s tennis season—there’s Saturday matches scheduled.  That meant if Grandma was open to it, I could invite her to come along with us and she could watch her granddaughter play.  I contacted both Grandma J and quietly asked DD1’s coaches if she would be playing and they said yes!  So once all was confirmed, the girls and I picked up grandma and off we went, to have a wonderful afternoon together.  I happened to be on team snack duty, so after we dropped DD1 early for pre-match practice,  DD2, Grandma, and I went to run errands and pick up snacks.

When we returned, we unfortunately learned that DD1 *wasn’t* going to play—at the other team’s request, they asked to keep our stronger players off the court, as they were mostly beginners, so in the spirit of sportsmanship our coaches agreed (which I think was good role modeling for the girls).  We spent the afternoon waiting for the rain to come and go, grandma at least got to watch DD1 play an exhibition with her teammate, then it was time to pass out snacks and then I took a picture of the girls with their grandma, and we headed back home. 

On the way home, teenager DD1 actually said, “thank you for coming with us today, grandma j” and DD2 chimed in, too.  And when we dropped her off, they gave her big hugs and as we drove away, DD2 was hollering out the window:  I LOVE YOU GRANDMA J!! 

Me:  Heart swoon.

We were mere minutes away when Grandma called me, she had forgotten to give me a card she said—so we circled back.  She handed me a card and meanwhile little sister repeated her hugs and hollering and off we went back to our day.  I was really happy.

And then I opened the envelope---

A letter from my ex’s older brother, who I had barely spoken to in 8 years—and my jaw dropped and the tears just started streaming.  There are three takeaways from the letter:

1  -  He thanked me so much and was so happy about my including his mom on today’s outing.

2  -  His “ass brother” won’t let his mom see the kids and it’s been like this for a long time; she’s bought gifts for them and they have sat there for weeks, until she’s accepted that he and the girls aren’t going to drop by and pick them up.  And this situation is so hard on her.

3  -  He hopes that I can include her in the future.


My heart about burst with sadness.  I knew my ex is vindictive, and I knew he could be this difficult.  But to be so mean to keep our daughters from having a relationship with their grandmother makes me cry so hard.  I’m getting teary just writing down these words.

But I sat with the letter for a little while, and then I couldn’t keep it in.  I didn’t know what to do with it.  I shared it with my hubby, just because I was so hurt about it.  Then I shared it with my attorney, the girls play therapist, and with my therapist.  Because I need a village to help me deal with all the feelings this brought up. 

-----

Attorney:  This is so SAD and MEAN, and she thinks I should include both grandma and uncle for the holidays and into the future! 

Play Therapist:  Well, the rule is that anything that involves the ex and the ex’s family should come from the girls.  They know there is a price to defying him and to ask the girls how important it is to have occasional contact with their grandma.  The thought of that defying cost needs to be factored into anything that I decide.  Also, if they want to have contact, to let the Ex know.

My therapist:  The way the girls reacted showed that they wanted Grandma with them and they are bonded with her, and that I did the right thing to include her.  The abusive Ex shouldn’t dictate or keep the girls from having a relationship with their grandma.

Me:  I think I did the right thing, but did I?  Crying at the sadness of this situation and also second guessing myself.  And then I think about how my mom loved spending time with the girls, how she was here very year until her Parkinsons’ got so bad she couldn’t travel (DD2’s first birthday party was her last visit).  And then the ensuing years when we would visit her, no matter how badly her Parkinsons affected her, she would plan these fun schemes with the girls in mind—visiting Mammoth Cave, or roadtripping to see family, or making sun prints with leaves and special paper outside of her assisted living porch.  She would give anything to have more time with the girls.  I think she’s watching them from heaven, too.


Regarding the price:  that evening, I overheard the girls’ phone conversation with their dad, who didn’t sound happy we included grandma j, prompting DD1 to declare it was ‘weird.’  And when I followed up with her afterwards, she said it *is* weird, I’m divorced from grandma’s son.  And I responded, I understood it seems weird… it’s just that grandma j is the nicest lady on the planet, and it’s okay that grandma j and mom are nice to each other, and we are her family.  She grumbled a bit, but then we were off to a dinner event with our friends, which turned out to be great fun (lots of laughter and silliness ensued).

I did quietly share with two of my closer friends on the side at this dinner—who’ve known about our situation for years and who’ve supported DD1 with our complicated divorce situation, they reinforced that the girls absolutely need to include grandma.  And one mom said, so what if it’s weird?  Just tell her, hey, what family *isn’t* weird these days?  LOL.

So on the way home, I reinforced with the girls that their grandma is their family, that i am their mom and also their family, and it’s ok that we are friends . That I didn’t realize they didn’t see her too much, and it’s ok to see her sometimes with mom, because she’s always been nice to me and I’ve been nice to her, that I didn’t know what was up between her and dad, but she’s still their grandma.  DD1 says it will probably feel weird and I said it’s ok to be weird. That doesn’t mean we aren’t family, and lots of families are weird.  And they seemed to be okay with this, humming and singing along to the music all the way home…

Conclusion-in-Progress:  I wish there was a how-to guide on how to navigate this particular road.  I guess I’m creating the map as I take in all this information.  I’m of the mind that someone needs to be the adult in the room and facilitate a relationship between the girls and their grandma, who is not getting any younger.  She is seriously the nicest lady on the planet, so kind and generous, and she seemed so thankful have this time.  And Uncle’s letter just validated that need to be included.

At the same time, I feel more cautious, considering what the play therapist said.  I vacillate between—outrage that he would be so cruel to his mom and also deny the girls time with his mom, and then worrying how this will impact the girls, grandma, and me.  Deep down my intuition tells me to keep finding small ways to include her, to keep the bridge open, the girls deserve to have grandma in their lives, even just a little bit.

So what is the price?  Is it too high for a grandma to love her granddaughters, and for her granddaughters to love her back?  I wish I knew better what to do.

Having just watched Frozen 2 (along with a million dollars worth of other people, lol), I think at this point, since I don’t know the way, I’ll keep choosing what I think is the next right thing to do.

Happy Thanksgiving.

p.s. I miss my mom.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Let Peace Begin with Me


First of all—Happy belated Halloween!!!  One of my favorite holidays--I love the festivities of dressing up, traipsing through our neighborhood with my girls and their BFFs, the laughter, the decorations (this year, we saw a house transformed into Hogwarts, with Aragog hanging off the garage and the flying car nestled on top of the tree in their yard)! Then, there is “the great candy exchange” that follows when we’ve come home:  the kids sprawling out on my living room floor sorting through their candy and swapping with one another.  (please give me the baby ruths!)

Secondly—with the passing of Halloween comes the new season of Winter.  (And the holidays!  Let the holiday madness begin.  I think I’ll work on our family holiday card next…muuu hahahahahaha.)

And then third(ly), this season brings along my birthday which arrived in a mixed bag of emotions.  Leading up to the big day, I was overcome with extreme emo sadness—sadness for the loss of my mom last year, sadness for another year passing when thinking of my birth mom, as I get older, the likelihood of connecting with her and any biological family becomes slimmer.  And then emo sadness for how my kids are growing up with such a shitty divorce behind the scenes.  How I wish I could make it a different situation for them, especially on the heels of last month’s stupid crap drama. 

Seriously, I was a big bag of sad.  Boo-hooing and having sad dreams and struggling just to get out of the bed some mornings.  Getting older is not for the faint of heart.

But when the actual day came, with lots of celebratory wishes, and kind gestures, and lots of love and hugs from people I didn’t even expect, beautiful weather, a special celebration with my kids and then with my hubby (at a fancy restaurant, where I ate so much my stomach hurt, lol).  And even today I was treated to a birthday lunch and there’s another birthday girlfriend and daughters date coming up next week end, and even a different group of girlfriends brunch date after that, and I just realized that despite all my sadness and despite all my anxiety and depression that I struggle through…this birthday thing is turning out okay.

One thing about being settled into middle age—and ironically, considering how I’ve embraced exercising on the regular over the last couple of years—there’s definitely more creaks and aches and physical pains.  Dang it.  Le sigh!

Also, regarding the sadness that caught up with me, I recognize it’s a combination of grief of loss as well as over lost times.  I call this “Nostalgia to the Infinite Power,” where I long for the experiences that have passed and stand so clearly in my memories, I miss the love and laughter from many moons ago, and long for my people who’ve been flung far and wide through time and space and age and life’s journeys, wishing they were near me again.  We didn’t know way back when, when we were close and adventuring into each morning and afternoon and evening together, that one day we would be separated as we are today.  I love them and miss them so much!

And that also makes me nostalgic for these moments shared today, with my people in my present, who I’m sharing this mom journey and this kids in girl scouts and/or sports and through school journey.  Breathing in and sitting still within these moments, even as I feel them passing through my hands, my fingers, my heart, I have nostalgia as we move from this moment to the next.

Driving home yesterday with my girls nestled in the back seat, we dropped of DD1’s bestie after spending a girls day with us from morning until dusk—and a random song came on the radio, I can’t even remember what it was.  But I heard DD1 humming along, and my heart just felt like it would burst straight out of my chest.  I just love them so much, my heart couldn’t contain it. And later, I told them both how happy I was about our day spent together, how mom’s heart was just bursting with love for them.

DD1, kind of rolled her eyes and said ‘that’s nice’ in her teenage voice.  LOL, as to be expected.

DD2, leaped into my arms for two gigantic hugs.  Awww.

And then off went to bed.  (Another night passing by.)

So while I haven’t solved my anxiety and grief and sadness about the life I’ve lived before, and while I’ve learned to cherish moments of love and happiness in today’s world even as I recognize and accept the pain from yesterday, I realized that I can be at peace.

Maybe it won’t last forever, but right now, I’m picking up my shards and glass and placing them side by side and hoping for the best that peace can be in my heart.  Along side the love.  That I can be the peace I wish to see in my world. 

Happy Fall into Winter and Happy Birthday to you.

Love,

Jane Thrive


Friday, October 25, 2019

Winning and Losing and In Between


I think I’m in number 7 of the Top Ten Tools on coping with coparenting stress.  Yesterday I had a fried chicken and chili plate, a most delicious combo!  I gave into emotional eating, lol, oh well. 

I had written the Top Ten post to help myself deal with some shenanigans from the Ex.  He had agreed to a time-sharing proposal (I asked for one day, was giving him a week), but instead of focusing on the extra time he would have, he nit-picked his way into feeling that somehow he was getting the short end of the stick.  Apparently, he was also going to be traveling, so then my offer turned into a 50/50 split with our youngest daughter, and then he would have had an additional overnight with our eldest.  (The girls are on different time-sharing when one is on a break from school and the other is not…does anyone else need a glass of wine to keep up with the nitty gritty details of our visitation schedule?  Ugh).  It was finally all worked out…we were on course to sail through October…

And then we weren’t.  The Ex decided it was all unfair and he reneged on his agreement.  So no exchange. In fact, he demanded additional overnights to make it ‘more fair.’  I still scratch my head on the fact that coming out even and/or ahead for him is not ‘fair.’  (My hunch is that it came down to the fact he didn’t want to give me the original one date that I had asked for…it would have extended a mom’s week end over the winter break). 

So this is where I put my firm pants on and decided that I was tired of being pushed around.  Our decree states that if either parent is traveling and cannot be with the children, the other parent has right of first refusal (ROFR) to watch them.  It doesn’t state anything about ‘make up’ time for time that is then lost.  Out of courtesy, over the last eight years, we have worked out exchanges for week ends here and there.  When I’ve had to travel for work, he has actually come out ahead, as I always just asked for the week end missed, and let the mom weekdays go (so again, he’s come out ‘ahead’ if we want to get to the nitty gritty).  He has only recently started traveling for work in the last year or so…

Anyway, this is the first time in eight years that he walked back on an exchange agreement.  I was angry at myself later, because I found out I could have held him to our original agreement, but he was so bullish and aggressive about it, I let the dates go. 

In the end:  I let him know that we will no longer deviate from the parenting schedule, that when he travels, I’ll watch the kids.  If I ever travel (which I likely won’t on dad days for some time), then he will watch the kids.  He’s mad that he didn’t get any ‘extra’ days, but oh well.  I’m done trying to negotiate with a bully.  (Mind you, I did travel for a couple of nights already, so it will all come out even at some point, so whatever).  He had some more words about how he’s entitled to more ‘make up’ nights, but the answer is:  it’s not in the decree, so no.

I’m sad—because I had something wonderful and magical planned for the girls over the holiday break, but then I transformed that into a win as well.  Hubby’s mom can come out and visit and we will just spend our time with her—she adores the girls so that will be nice.

Sometimes, you just have to stand tall to a bully.  Maybe you don’t get a ‘win’ all the time, but at least you get to hold onto your self-respect and can safely say that you are standing in your truth.

Love and hugs,
Jane Thrive

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Top Ten Coping Strategies for Co-Parenting Strife




I’m dealing with a lot of co-parenting strife at the moment.  While I’m “in” this particular scenario, which I’m certain I’ll be writing about and debriefing soon, I thought to share some tips on how NOT to let coparenting strife enter the rest of your world and ruin your days. 

First:  Take a deep breath.  The big yoga breath, where you suck in so much air, your belly extends, your chest extends, you become a giant puff ball of air.  Sip in a teeny bit more through your mouth, then hold, two, three.  Then slowly, exhale, like a water stream pushing out of a very small hose.  Repeat.  Visualize the air getting into every corner of your body, then exhaling all the stress feelings out.  I promise that getting that extra oxygen into your brain and heart is soothing.  (Repeat as needed). 

Second:  Get moving.  Literally.  Run around the block until you sweat.  Or don’t get sweaty, check out a yoga youtube routine and do your best.  Concentrating on what your body is doing is helpful to get out of your head.   This has two benefits—you are not ruminating about the unfairness or worried about what he or she will be doing next, because you’re too busy trying to survive the next step, or figuring out how to stick your leg up in the air without falling on your face. The second benefit is that you’re doing something wonderful and healthy for your body.  And…running is free!  And youtube yoga routines, absent the ads, are also free!

Third:  Feed your soul.  This could be a variety of things—a hobby you love.  Going to church.  Reading a book.  Building something with your hands—a friend of mine makes the most amazing glass bead necklaces.  I love the ocean, so taking my girls to the beach, digging my feet in the sand, surfing, swimming, listening to the waves.  I also like knitting.  So while I’m sitting in church, I’m that lady who is knitting, lol.  Maybe music is your thing, playing an instrument, or listening to something you love.  I’m also getting into audiobooks!  Which leads me to:

Fourth:  Laugh.  Laughter is the biggest antidote to coparenting stress.  If you’re too busy to meet up with friends and let loose, because work/parenting/basically in the trenches of #adulting, try and download an audio book or get one from the library—and listen to it when you’re on the go.  Right now, I’m listening to Jim Gaffigan’s Food: A Love Story.  I kid you not, you will be doubled over laughing, likely every other minute; I’m about halfway through.  Food is actually his second book; I’m on the waitlist for his first book, Dad is Fat.  (He narrates, which makes it even funnier, he has the perfect delivery; although if you’re a fan of seafood, which I am, don’t be alarmed when he refers to it as sea-bugs, lol!)  And of course, if you can schedule some downtime with friends, take advantage of gabbing and laughing the night away!  Laughing with friends also relates to Feeding your Soul. 

Five: Cry.  Yeah, sometimes crying is part of coping with the coparenting strife.  Because the Exie may be a total douche-canoe, and there’s not much you can do about it.  Let the feelings out, it’s helpful, actually.  Sometimes I get so angry with myself for letting him ‘get’ me down, or letting the situation take over part of my day, but it’s actually better to just accept the fact that sometimes, you feel like sh*+ and that’s just how it is.  Let it flow.  The sh*+ feelings won’t last forever, and if you don’t let them flow, they will actually get stronger because they’re not being acknowledged.  Damn feelings.  Fine.  You’re here.  I see you, I feel you.  Can we please hug it out?  (Going back to 1 & 2 helps with 5).

Six:  Hug your kids.  Their sweet faces make my heart melt.  In my case, I do have middle school DD1 who is like a cactus.  So hugging her comes with warning:  hug and be pricked, so perhaps hug from afar.  Little sister still likes hugs and will sometimes crawl into my lap for a cuddle here and there, thank goodness.  Breathe in the closeness (even from afar, because it’s developmentally appropriate, le sigh) and celebrate that they are growing up, happy and healthy, as best can be, despite the douche-canoe.

Seven:  Food.  I am not above eating my feelings when warranted.  And sometimes, it’s warranted.  I may not eat to the point of Jim Gaffigan—who is quite the hero around this concept—but comfort food is called comfort food for a reason! 

Eight:  Meditation.  I guess this could go into the Feed Your Soul category, but I’m putting this separate, because I’ve never employed this technique until now.  When the thoughts and stress get overwhelming, especially when waking up in the middle of the night in a worry ball, guided meditation has been an effective coping tool.  I found a free app called Insight Timer, and you can select guided meditations—for sleep, anxiety, etc., and you can set it for as short (1 min) or as long (60 min) as will work for you.  Like I said, I never tried guided meditation before, and research shows it can reduce stress--don’t take it from me, even the Mayo Clinic talks about it.

Nine:  Entertainment.  I’m not *just* talking about binge-watching a favorite show on Netflix, although right now we are currently catching up with How to Get Away with Murder, because I’m a huge fan of Viola Davis.  (Omg, the drama!  HTGAWM makes my life look quite simple!)  Or, salivating over all the yummy baked goods on The Great British Baking Show, which will immediately motivate you to coping tool number seven, but also movies, live theater, museum, roller coasters, lol.   Entertainment is a fun and joyful distraction and definitely gets you out of your head.

Ten: You’ve Got This.  I know it’s hard to believe in the moment, when the strife is running at red alert, but remember, you’ve been here before.  Every.single.time, you’ve figured it out—you’ve made the best of it, figured out how to navigate the thorns, you’ve survived and thrived.  So settle into this thought as best as you can:  you will get through this current challenge and come out onto the other side.  You’ve got this.

Love and hugs.

p.s. for more on coping tips (which include some of the things on this list)—please see "healing from abuse" tips, “7 coping tools I used when divorcing with small kids,” more “healing tips.”  

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Ode to Little Sister Growing Pains in a Divorced Family World



Dear Little Sister,

You are developing faster than your big sis, in part, because you have a big sis.  You want to be cool and wise and older like her, and at the same time you love hugs and jumping on me and being silly.

But I see you struggling to want to grow up.  I see you practicing with your words, trying out your voice to be like your sister’s, except she’s emulating the struggle of teenage adolescence and not always getting it quite the way she means.  Or sometimes she’s just mean.  Because teenagers are mean.

So then you become mean.  And I don’t even think you realize it.  And so I told you today to be very careful with your words.  Like the other day, after you overheard me talking to big sister about how to let me finish speaking without interrupting—and she continued interrupting, I asked her to stop it and let me finish.  Big sister and I finally worked out what was happening, and then she washed her dishes and went upstairs to do her homework.  I asked you how you felt when you overheard that, and you said I was ‘yelling.’  And I said, really?  That’s what you heard?  And you said yep.  And when I told you, sister, I was talking just like this.  Does it sound like yelling to you? And then you said, fine, you weren’t yelling.

This worries me—did you really think I was yelling, when I wasn’t?  Or, maybe, because you are similar to me and you can pick up every feeling in the room, you ‘felt’ like I was yelling, because big sister was using her mean voice and I was asking her to be more respectful.

Then this morning, on the way to school, everything was fine, you were talking about how you love the jacket aunty bought for you that you were wearing, and I said that’s so nice she got that for you, and you asked me if I remembered what she looked like, because you couldn’t.  And I said, she had a nice face, one that looked kind, and I hoped she was coming back soon to visit you girls and dad, and you agreed and we bounced along into the car.  I played your favorite radio station and you were singing along.  I reached back to hold your hand and you patted it and then said you didn’t want to be a baby anymore and you wanted to be older.

And I said that it’s okay to just be you.  Then you said you didn’t want to be just the same little kid and you wanted to grow up and you said, I don’t want to be a spoiled brat and I was like oh honey you’re not a spoiled brat. And you got all worked up saying, in your mean voice, yeah mom I’m not a spoiled brat, you make me a spoiled brat because spoiled brats are when rich parents buy their kids everything they want and you buy everything that I want.

And I paused, and I said, honey, please be very careful with your words.  You have to choose your words wisely, like the other day, when you said I was yelling and I wasn’t.  Words can hurt so that’s why you have to be very careful.  You were upset and I asked you if you were listening, and you said no, with your  mean voice.

So I said fine.  And then I said, I get you what you need, but I don’t buy you everything you want, I couldn’t possibly afford that.

You were angry with me, I saw your upset, scrunched face and then it was time to be dropped off.  And I’m sitting here wondering what happened, in one minute everything was fine and lovely, and the next, was it because I reached out my hand to you?  You got all triggered and upset and now I feel like the shittiest mom in the universe.

Because it’s later, now, and I’m out of that moment, and I’m seeing the bigger picture…you just came home from dad’s—after an extended time with him.  He is angry that the time swap negotiations didn’t go ‘his’ way (he has a warped vision that my giving him more days than he’s ‘losing’ is a lose, because one of the days that he’s giving me is a date that I actually asked for two months ago…)

And I’m wondering if he’s taking it out on you.

Because you have never heard me say you’re a spoiled brat.  I can only imagine where you got those words from.

And you have never heard me say that one parent is rich (though you have heard him say that to you, as you and your sister have shared that with me many times).  Even though he flies you first class with his new girlfriend’s support, you have never heard me comment that he is rich or he spoils you.

I’m sorry your intuitive nature soaks up his words and thoughts and low opinions of me.

I’m sorry I wasn’t more patient and understanding of this struggle that you’re going through.

The one thing that I didn’t screw up, even as you stomped out of the car and didn’t want me to help you with your backpack, is that I was sure to tell you to have a good day, that I love you.

And as you walked into school, I could see in your face that you didn’t want to leave me with things upset, so I rolled down my window and said, bye, I love you!  (Not too loud, lol, because like your big sister you are starting to get embarrassed by this kind of stuff, and luckily, no one else was being dropped off right at that moment)  I know you heard, because you nodded and walked inside.

*****

p.s. Dear spirit guides and guardian angels and all the powers of love and light in the universe—please let my youngest (and oldest) always know how much I love them, how I accept them, how I wish for them to be at peace and know they are loved.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

After Summer Comes the Fall




With the girls in separate schools, our school year began with a staggered start.  So while DD2 began another elementary year earlier this month, my middle schooler lounged and languished for a few more weeks, lucky her.  (She did work a bit, volunteering at her old preschool—on her last day they presented her with a book filled with drawings and messages from all the littles thanking her, and notes that they couldn’t wait to see her at school—from the kids who were entering kindergarten at DD1’s school, aww.  She also had some summer homework, but I *did* let her lounge a bit, too!  LOL).

What to do with our time for that last little vestige of summer before another middle school grade? 

A belated birthday slumber party for my newly minted teen with her girl scout pals—friends she’s had since kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades, aww…they’ve gotten so big!!  (with all that traveling and summer time sharing with her dad, we hadn’t had time to celebrate).  I love that she feels comfortable to have her friends over at our house.  We projected Captain Marvel on the wall and then I let them stay up all night playing minecraft and listening to kpop or whatever it is they listen to nowadays (OMG I’m so olddd).

Then, considering DD1’s sensitivities that everyone is comfortable, we had a second AYCE (all you can eat) Korean bbq lunch with her school friends (she had tried to mix friends at a celebration with her dad and was worried that some people felt left out and asked me sweetly if we could keep them separate.)  This was also good for DD2, as I told DD1 that in order to balance out the friend time, DD2 could bring her bestie along.  My heart did a double swoon to see my teenager smiling and laughing with her friends, and DD2 busily eating and then drawing and playing games with her BFF.  And after the eating, ice cream cake (yes!  I was so stoked she wanted ice cream cake, my favorite, too, lol!!), I mean what can be better than ice cream cake on your birthday?  All was well with the world.

Then, because it was the last week end before school was starting for DD1, I decided to take the girls and one BFF each to the beach.  We stayed for a few hours, playing in the water, playing in the sand, enjoying the beauty and nature that is our home.  Then off to home, dinner, bath, bed.  Good night world.

The following day we had a family potluck in the morning at church and then off to DD2’s new girl scout meeting.  We merged troops with another group of girls near where we lived and we had a blast!  The new leader took on the brownies, and I led the junior scouts, the room was full of laughter and smiles and even some hugs.  Then it was off for some post girl scout bubble tea, a car wash, and then I dropped the littles and picked up DD1’s bestie to go to their school so they could find their lockers and stuff all their books in, to save them the rush and dash and trouble the following morning.

Needless to say, I went to bed that night feeling parentally fulfilled.  LOL.  All children happy, in bed at a decent time, life is good.

So all clear on the co-parenting front?

Not exactly—I was surprised last week by DD1’s acute and astute observations and because they came out of the blue, I wasn’t super prepared on how to respond and winged it the best that I could.  So this is how it went. 

On the way home from DD1’s tennis, I heard DD1 tell me “dad was in anger management.”  So I responded, ‘oh that’s great!  Dad’s in anger management?  That can really help!”

And she was like, no mom, I said, does dad need anger management?   He gets soooo mad!

So taken a back, I just said, ‘oh gosh, yeah, I remember his temper, I feel you. I mean I remember he could go from 0 to 100 mph in seconds flat…”

And she was like, yeah!  Over the most petty things!!!

And I was like, well, yeah…

Then she asked me if he ever got so mad the police were involved, and if that was why “you left him”?

And so then I paused a few moments, thinking of what to say.  How could I be general and also tell the truth?  So I answered, ‘well, like I told you before, divorce is complicated, and there’s lots of issues, and yeah, I guess the anger was part of it.  I can’t tell you everything now, sweetheart, but maybe one day, when you’re a grown up…you know after college and you have a family of your own…”

And then she was like you said you’d tell me when I was 16!

And I was like, what??

And then it became an argument about me saying I’d tell her details when she turned 16.  Le sigh.  Car conversations with a young teenager.

We arrived home and went straight inside to deal with dinner, getting ready for bed, goodnight world…by the time bed time rolled around it had seemed the matter of “anger management” was forgotten.

So my takeaways---DD1 is definitely getting older, and definitely seeing things for herself.  My job is to help her sort her thoughts.

I was meditating the other day on how to help my girls—on another coparenting front there’s a time swap that is being worked out and of course he’s being difficult about it.  So I was meditating on how to shield my girls from the conflict, which leads to worrying how they’re doing, which leads to wondering how I can do what’s best for them, and I heard a voice inside my head that said:  Focus On The Love.

And I realized when I look back at my childhood, I don’t remember a whole lot of specifics.  I mean, I do have snippets of vivid memories here and there, but overall, the big picture of my childhood, it’s kind of like a colored rainbow of emotion.  I remember lots of conflict with my mom and her second husband, my stepdad, and my brother.  I remember going back and forth between my mom and my adopted dad  (not nearly as much as my girls do), but splitting time nonetheless.  And I remember the moments where I was arguing with my mom, being a surly teen myself, splitting my identity from her as I grew into my own.  And I do have sad and painful memories of my dad passing and conflict with my stepdad.  But even with the conflict that I had with my mom, I remember the love.  I remember that she was there for me.  I remember that even when she was angry or didn’t do one thing or another, or I didn’t do one thing or another, she always loved me.  That was never a question, even when I railed that she must hate me and I hated her (even though I never did).  So what did I walk away with?  That she did the best that she could.  That love was always there in her heart.

So I guess the best I can do for my girls is to focus on the love.  That is what I can give them.

So with Summer coming to a close and Fall at hand, that will be my mantra.  Focus on the Love.