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.



Wednesday, August 7, 2019

DC & NYC - In the Room Where it Happened!





Dear Universe,

This is a thank you letter for all the good and wonderful things my family and I were able to experience last month in DC and NYC!   I'm still smiling and still in a state of disbelief that I was able to pull this off--with the help of family and friends.  *heart*heart*heart*

DC:  my work meetings and networking were a success.  I moderated a panel presentation that received a ton of positive feedback.  I'm already thinking of ways to put together a more inspiring panel for the year after next (next year I'll be busy running and organizing the meetings so will not have time to present) in an effort to "give back" to my profession. 

While I was hard at work, my in-laws were amazingly responsible for taking my girls around the city--they visited the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and hung out with the dinosaurs and the butterflies, I also was able to go with them to visit Michelle and President Barak Obama at the Portrait Gallery within the Smithsonian Museum of American Art—this building was beautiful!

My work organized a tour of the Department of Justice library that boasts items from the 1600s that are still referenced today; and our conference reception was in the Library of Congress Jefferson building (yes the beautiful building full of jaw-dropping architecture and marble pillars and staircases).  How they pulled off having 1600 colleagues inside with mini bars and mini food stations sprinkled about is a mystery!  We were addressed by the librarian of congress and the law librarian of congress!  (For those who may not be familiar, Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress, was the Baltimore librarian who kept her doors open during the Freddy Gray riots back in 2015.  She wasn’t about to let her community down!)  While I was doing this, the family was off at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History and the DC waterfront.

When I was finally off work, I took the family back to the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, where we got to sit in the actual courtroom and DD2 could ask all the questions of the (free) tour guide.  We then had an insider’s tour of the Capitol via our Senator’s office intern—the cutest Harvard freshman intern who had graduated high school in our home state.  Did you know there’s a not-so-secret train that runs between the Senate building and our nation’s Capitol? Lucky us—we got to ride it! 

Our senator also hooked us up with a tour of the FBI headquarters-two story museum of solving crime and also where we walked by an outdoor gym with agents training, as well as an inside shooting range with an agent testing out her firearms.  (Both DDs have expressed interest in being FBI agents, so thought to give them an up close view of it).

One last hook up from our other senator’s office—a Department of Interior’s Park Ranger tour of DC’s national monuments.  Unfortunately, the Washington monument elevator was broken, however we were driven all around DC to visit:  the WWII memorial, the Vietnam and Korean War memorials,  the Lincoln memorial, the Jefferson memorial, and the Theodore Roosevelt memorial and the lastly the MLK, Jr. monument.  We loved them all!  After this tour, we stopped into the Smithsonian National Air and Space Musuem as there was a special exhibit of Neil Armstrong’s Apollo mission space suit, because it was the 50th anniversary of the Apollo mission!  First step onto the moon.

Something else that was being celebrated through Washington DC and NYC—the 100th anniversary of the Women’s Right to Vote.  Special displays appeared in the Library of Congress, the Smithsonians, and we saw exhibits in NYC at our different stops along the way as well!  I was so glad that the girls could get a taste of our nation’s history, before heading by train to New York City for the second half of our trip.

We took the train out of Union Station and arrived in Penn Station into the hottest day of summer for NYC, a heat wave, so strong that the Governor declared a state of emergency.  Luckily it was only crazy hot for the first two days we were there, so we made the most of the time.

First stop, when we got in—around the corner from where we were staying—Stone street for some easy pizza dinner.  Stone street is one of the oldest streets in Manhattan, its cobblestones from 1794 still intact (the street dates back to the 1600s but different paving prior to 1794). 

Day 1 in NYC:  We woke up to meet my childhood friend and her family and we were off to Battery Park to embark on the ferry to Liberty and Ellis Islands, both which were amazing.  There is a new free Statute of Liberty museum on Liberty Island, which was a nice air conditioned respite from the heat wave!  Honestly, getting our picture in front of the Statue of Liberty felt like a survival of the fittest type of adventure with the sun pouring down.  The museum on Ellis Island was an amazing experience for the kids too—I’m glad they got to see how folks came into the United States, and actually, the girls and I would have “failed” the immigration tests they had back then! 

After the inferno ferry rides, we took an a/c break in the condo, took the little kids swimming in the pool, then went out to forage for some food.  It turned out we were within walking distance of Trinity Church, where we said hello to Alexander Hamilton’s grave (and Angelica Schuyler Church was also buried here, but we couldn’t see her gravestone through the fence).  After dinner, we realized we were near the One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial.  I can’t tell you how beautiful and tragic seeing this place is…it gives you goosebumps walking through.  They designed it so well for the remembrance of lives lost.  We didn’t go into the museum (DD2 a little too young for the overwhelming stimuli inside it), but the fountains and the park itself takes your breath away.

Day 2:  We were originally going to do the 9/11 memorial this day, but due to the emergency heat wave, we instead decided to meet my other friend and her cutie pie twins in an air-conditioned environment.  Lo and behold, there was the Alexander Hamilton US Custom’s House that has been turned into the Smithsonian Museum of the Indian, just around the corner from where we were staying. (And we were staying in the building where the fearless girl is currently standing, tee hee, near the NYSE and Federal Hall!) The architecture was again all beautiful marble arches and pillars and statues, and the museum was free (thank you Smithsonian) and there was even a kids’ museum center focusing on how Indians from the Americas were the original innovators on how to explore the world—building bridges, developed math skills, survival skills, medicines, and more.

We then went around the corner to Fraunces Tavern for lunch—which served as an HQ for George Washington and where he said farewell to his officers.  After Alexander Hamilton and his friends stole some British cannons during the Revolutionary War, the British retaliated by blowing a cannon through the roof of this building!  The host also told us that Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton met there the week before their infamous duel.

Day 3:  Luckily, a respite from the heat—it moved off!  My childhood friend strikes again—she works for the Bronx Zoo and was able to get us family passes and free admission to all of the fun aspects of the park—the monorail tour, the butterflies, the reptile house, the kids even got to ride on a camel, aww…but what was really nice was the conservationist aspect of the zoo—due to its location apparently it’s home to injured animals or animals rehabilitating, and/or animals transferring from different locations.  The zoo has a whole veterinary team taking care of them all…and visiting this place...was such a great experience.  We even got to see a red panda, hello master shifu!  Then we enjoyed the New York style of eating—delivery to my friend’s cute apartment with all the yummy food.  LOL 

Day 4: A nice lazy morning, waiting for hubby’s sister to arrive, and when she did, we ventured up to Koreatown to eat all the yummy Korean food and to stop by Koryo Books (and music) to pick up some Kpop goodies for our pals back home.  We found the BEST Korean Mandoo (dumpling) restaurant and took home take out orders that I pan fried for dinner later!

Day 5:  This was our Hamilton adventure day where we got to be in the room where it happens at the Richard Rodgers Theater.  Our seats in Row S were amazing—stadium like seating and you can really see the stage from anywhere in this theater.  DD1 said it was AMAZING and so cool, and I had to help DD2 refrain from singing along, since I know people paid big $$ to watch the show—not to listen to my youngest sing!  LOL.  After the show, the cast came out to greet the audience—DD2 was able to get autographs from Maria Reynolds/Peggy Schuyler, and Aaron Burr, Sir!   Then we went to a delicious Italian restaurant off of Times Square.  After walking through the throngs and crowds, I was glad to go home to our ‘quieter’ neighborhood on the southern tip of Manhattan.

Day 6:  A trip to Grand Central station and the New York Public Library!  Shhh….I have a book that I’ve edited long ago, and I was soo pleased to find out that they had it in their collection!  Group picture time with the book, then took the subway to Chelsea and to the Starbucks Roastery which was fun for the other grown ups in our party, but for the kids (and me) it was not so great—no frappuccinos at the fancy Starcrack, really? 

The herd was getting hungry so we were back on the subway to Katz’s Delicatessen, established 1888, for the best pastrami sandwich ever!  It’s also the place Where Harry Met Sally and where everyone wanted to order what she was having!

And then believe it or not, a few hours later we were off for a yummy dinner at Lombardi’s in Little Italy—the oldest pizzeria, est 1905, to meet up with hubby’s brother and sister in law, yippee!

Day 7: All about the Natural History Museum.  My childhood friend sent her 12 year told to meet us with their family pass, so we got to spend the day with her and also got the fast track admission and went to allll the extra exhibits, so much fun!  We loved looking at the Unseen Oceans, the planetarium, the T-Rex exhibit, rawr!  We followed this with a stroll through Central Park, where we were entertained by park musicians, passing by the great lawn, and a sighting of Cleopatra’s Needle.  We exited the Park by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, but by that time, we’d spend six hours walking and the kids were tired, lol, so we made our way back to the subway and back home to dinner.  Where we hooked up with the rest of my friends family for dinner—we wandered near Fraunces Tavern and Stone Street again,and we found a tiny Indian restaurant tucked in off the street, Bombay’s.  Don’t be fooled by the laid back d├ęcor and style, the food was SOOOOO good.  We ate allll the naan and all the curry and all the saag paneer, lol!

And finally Day 8:  We slept in, made our way to Chinatown, ate a huge feast of dim sum at Jing Fong, haggled with some street vendors for bargains on souvenirs, small jewelry, bags…then met up with hubby’s brother and sister in law for a bingsu dessert at Sweet Moments.  Think snow cone, but the ice is shaved instead of crushed, and it’s creamy, not quite ice cream, not quite ice, with delicious toppings.  J

Day 8 was our last night in the city.  I couldn’t sleep because I kept hearing this Boom Booming outside—we finally figured out there were fireworks happening.  So I ended up staying up with my sister-in-law gabbing away and giggling the night away.

Some takeaways:  NYC just swallows you up—you walk out the door and there’s so many things to see and do…one of the key hints is :  look up!  The architecture of every building has its own unique personality. 

I loved taking the metro—I taught DD2 how to ‘subway surf,’ by standing with legs apart and knees a little bit bent, so you didn’t fall over when the subway started or came to a stop.  And only when there was room to do this of course.  I loved how you could get to every place in the city by train. 

Note:  subways are awful in the heatwave!  The heat is trapped underground for a while and it feels like you’re in a furnace.  Otherwise, they are great.

I also loved how you came out of a subway station and whatever neighborhood you were in—midtown, west side, harlem, downtown, the neighborhood had its own feel and vibe.

I loved that every night when the girls talked with their dad (both in DC and NYC) and our other family who were traveling with us, they would say “IT WAS SO COOL.”  My teenage DD1 is a hard nut to crack sometimes, so while we would be experiencing this museum or that art or this restaurant or Hamilton!, I wasn’t always sure what she was thinking.  To hear her tell other people how much she liked something made my heart swoon!

I know I’ll have other takeaways, but I am so remiss on posting this adventure I’m just going to put this right up. 
The key takeaway is that I’m so very grateful for this time together.  I know my mom was with us, she was a world traveler, and part of her legacy is supporting me in sharing the world and travel with my girls.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Leaving on a Jet Plane



I’m so excited to be taking my girls to DC and New York for our summer vacation! 

Part of this trip is work—I’ll be working in DC for four days, whereupon stepgrandpa and stepgrandma will be taking the girls around to see the sights.  I feel so fortunate and lucky to have such amazing inlaws who are devoting their time to us.  I’m kind of teary thinking about it!

Then, after I’m done with work I can join them on seeing the sights—I’ve hooked us up with some tours via our Senators’ offices—including the Capitol, the FBI Headquarters, and the Department of Interior Monuments tour (where they take you around on an air conditioned bus and fast track you to the sights!)  Of course we have to hit the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court, too, given DD1’s love of RBG, awwwww.

And then we will get on the train to the Big Apple!  Hubby is going to meet us in NYC and we’re all staying together in a swanky condo that he hooked up for us via a friend from work, along with his sister who is flying in.  I’m hooking up with my childhood friend and her family as well to see the New York sights, such as taking the ferry to Liberty Island and the Bronx Zoo, and we’re also planning on checking out Central Park, Broadway (Hamilton!!!!), the New York Public Library, the Natural Museum of History and more!  And lastly, Hubby’s brother and sister in law are taking an adult week end for the last portion of the trip so we are getting New York time and family time together!

So…that’s what’s on the agenda and also why I’ve been silencio on the blog—prepping for work (actually it will be non stop for a few days work-wise), the family trip, and more!

Dear Universe,
Please let me be the light I want to see in the world—please help me be supportive and a positive influence for my colleagues and also please help me do a good and effective job on the work portion of the trip.

And then, please watch over us as we travel to new cities for the first time (for my girls) and please help us just enjoy the time we have together and be the love we want to see in the world, too.

I’m so thankful and grateful for this time together.

Love and hugs!!

Jane

Friday, June 21, 2019

Summer Solstice: Onward with that Healing Journey




I’ve been struggling to write this month, partly due to my children away on their extended summer vacation with their father and his wealthy new girlfriend.  They are in Europe!  And wow!  Europe! 

Truth time:  a part of me struggles with this—an example of how the man who kicked my eldest in her stomach and knocked my youngest down with a jumbo fitness ball as teeny toddlers—gets away with being a jerk and is now living the life.

Second truth:  I’m so not proud of feeling this way.  Two steps forward and one step backward on the healing journey.  I’m angry and sad about the injustice.  And it doesn’t help that the said new girlfriend took my youngest’s Mother’s day gift that her teacher said my little one worked on all year at school--that’s another thing that I’m supposed to “accept” for the good of the all.  Ouch.  A month later, and I’m still sore from that scenario.

So, I’ve been taking stock of my “tips” for coping when your kids are on an extended visitation that I wrote back in 2014.  They still apply—leaning into the relaxed household pace in my temporary all-adult house, spending time with friends, relaxing with the hubs, reading a book or catching up on a show.  And dedicating myself to exercise—I did an 8 mile run last Saturday!

Taking stock--over the past two weeks:  I’ve celebrated a friend’s birthday, had a mom’s night out, went to see stand-up comedian Ali Wong with some girlfriends (and if you haven’t seen her new movie, Always Be My Maybe on Netflix, you are seriously missing out on some laughter in your day!), caught up on reading, caught up on t.v. shows with the hubby, like Jessica Jones, watched movies, jumped into the ocean and had fun being silly with coworkers and friends.  Took naps.  Oh sweet naps.

I also have an appointment with my therapist on Monday to keep working on letting go.  How can I just let go of these negative, downer emotions.  How can I rise above and stay above?  How can I remain in the peace zone?

For this Solstice, then, I’m working on letting the light in.  Past actions do not have to define me.  Maybe they cast shadows on the longest day of the year, even as I walk in the sunlight.  Maybe I just acknowledge the shadows in order to embrace the light in my life.  Hello, shadow.  Please step aside so I can embrace today’s sunrays. 

Practice kindness.  To myself, to my coworkers, to my friends, to my family.  The girls come home on Monday, too.  I can’t wait to hug them.  I can’t wait to hear their voices and laughter and help them get to tennis or their tennis team party and eat dinner with them like any other mundane Monday night.  To peek in to see if they’re settled into bed and at their sleeping faces, knowing they will be safe at home.

I may not feel like it all the time, but the other thing I need to embrace on this lovely Solstice day—is that somehow everything will be okay. I can do it.  May you have peace, may you have happiness, may you have healing.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Lives are Sacred and Precious


Status: Baffled.

I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be surprised when I'm baffled by Governor Ivey's remark that every life is sacred and precious with re: to her abortion ban. Because:
1) There are 15 million children living in poverty in the United States. http://www.nccp.org/topics/childpoverty.html

2) 1300/children die every year due to gun violence; additionally 5790 get treated from gunshot wounds, according to _Pediatrics_
https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/140/1/e20163486 (some other folks argue more; this is from a 2016 study)

4) There are 437,465 children in the foster care system, with 117,794 "waiting to be adopted," according to the Children's Bureau, see their report: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/cb/faq/foster-care4
(And please note that disrupting families causes effects that are felt by all parties--adoption for me may have been a 'happier' ending, but I've learned it is not so for many and comes with trauma and a healing journey).

So, the thing is, these children are sacred and precious. But not sacred and precious enough for folks to care about to protect, help, support, and solve problems for, because they'd rather concentrate on banning women's constitutional right to healthcare and revoke women's agency re: family planning. What in the literal f.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Happy Mother’s Day in a Screwed up Co-parenting World



Let’s start off with some positives—while this is the second mom’s day that I am alive without my mom, I survived.  Also, I did pretty well at my work conference, having presented at three different events, representing our state as best as I could, and I think my mom would have been proud about that.

Secondly, my girls are growing up strong and tall and smart and sassy and loving and caring and kind and silly and loyal.  I could go on and on.  So that’s good too.

Now for the screwed up co-parenting world part:

Last Friday, DD2’s teacher sent a class message to all the parents that the kids were coming home with a mother’s day gift that they had been working on all year together.  I was out of town presenting at the said conference, and when I returned, it was to an email from the ex saying that DD2 had forgotten the present, but it would come home next time.

So when I saw DD2, I told her I was excited to see the present, and DD2 started bawling, saying she gave it to Aunty (Exie’s new and generous girlfriend), because she was visiting and going back home, so they had packed it in her suitcase.  I was baffled, having received the email from Exie and the teacher and figured there must be some kind of confusion.  A suspicion did start to rise in the back of my brain, however, that perhaps Exie did encourage DD2 to give the present to his girlfriend, and I figured the best way to find out would be to apply a little kindness.

I wrote to Exie that it sounded like DD2 was a little confused, that she had told me that she’d given the present to Aunty by mistake, and also that I was glad the girls had a positive relationship with his girlfriend.  That similarly, A has always treated their relationship different than theirs, has encouraged them to give him father’s day gifts, and would never accept a present where we knew they had made it for Exie for father’s day.  Also, that I looked forward to meeting his girlfriend one day at a school event, etc, as the girls seem to like her and they really like her dog. 

All in all, I felt proud of myself for going high instead of low.

Unfortunately, the response was a long-winded, well…actually DD2 “CHOSE” to give the mother’s day gift to his girlfriend, despite him trying to talk her out of it and emphasizing that his girlfriend is not her mother and DD2 wanted to give it to her anyway.  (And another long winded response about how he would ‘think’ about me meeting his girlfriend, bringing up his past demands of how he wanted a special sit-down meeting with A to talk about parenting and I kept refusing—baffling, since they met at a school event, everything was fine.  Exie does hang on to perceived slights and then applies them out of context.)

The thing here is that DD2 is a young child.  Exie is the adult.  That’s the cue where he steps in, if it actually did go as described, about appropriateness.  The way he described is the best case scenario, however I have been a victim and now am a survivor of his emotional blackmail, so here we are.  And then I remembered that I can’t control what happens at his house.  He may not act like the adult, but I do. 

And so the crux of the story is 1) I’m sad that I don’t get to see the present that my daughter worked all year on for me,  2) I’m angry at the double-standard that if the tables were turned (which they never would be, A would never accept a gift under these circumstances), Exie’s head would explode, 3) I’m sad that DD2 feels pressured to please her dad and his girlfriend to give the present to his girlfriend, overtly or unconsciously, 4) I’m praying that DD2 doesn’t end up with a spouse that she’s always bending over backwards to please in an unhealthy way, and 5) at the end of the day, I know DD2 knows who her mom is.

Adulting is hard.  I’m going to cry that I don’t get to see this present and go to therapy to unpack what that means to me on Friday.

Then I’ll pull up my grown up pants and handle this like the grown up that I am.  All the time praying that my girls grow up with as minimal impact of his needy, manipulative ways as possible and do not replicate it in their future relationships.  Please god please let them be strong.  #cry