Wednesday, December 20, 2017

All in a Day's Work

Dear World,

Two exciting things happened within the last 24 hours.  First of all, a nationally syndicated television show filmed in my workplace, and I somehow talked them into letting me be an extra, lol!  It was so fun, they even styled my hair, had to get my “wardrobe” approved, lol.  I met all different types of crew members (set, lighting, sound, assistants) who were open and kind and welcoming, with many patiently teaching me all the ins and outs of production.  What I loved the most was how they took care of one another and gave special props to an actress who said essentially one line, and even though her role was “small,” they applauded her for it when she was finished, how cool!  I did get to peek and interact a little bit with some ‘bigger’ TV stars, but all in all, what I loved most about it was how cool I was treated by the crew and how they treated each other.

Secondly, I don’t want to forget what happened today regarding my work environment.  At a meeting, I re-dedicated a commitment with my two managers about creating a safe, trusting, and understanding workplace, especially with one another, so we could emulate that for our staff. 

What did I mean by that?  Well, over the last month or so, one of my managers was struggling with what she perceived were hurtful comments from another manager; that manager was blissfully unaware of the impact of his words.  However, I couched this issue as setting professional goals in 2018—that we had worked with each other for years that had established a wonderful and close relationship of camaraderie.  This relationship also bordered on “too familiar” terms at times, and that I needed their help in re-setting our professional boundaries—including being careful of the language we use when addressing one another.  My managers rose to the occasion, addressing past comments and sharing what they actually meant behind their words (nothing, of course!) and also embracing that words can have seriously unintended meanings and then authentically taking responsibility for the hurt they may have caused, being understanding of one another, and being more careful going forward.  I was so happy that they could have an honest conversation about this (in fact things came up that I hadn’t been informed of), and I guess I’m really proud that I was able to create the safe environment for them to be honest and open about their experiences. 

Heartfelt apologies and a commitment going forward to share with one another thoughts and insights followed …and the meeting ended with a true sense that we are creating a safe space for one another so that we can do so for all our staff.  Also, that this commitment is a journey--it isn’t like we’ll wake up tomorrow morning and be the perfect professional, but that we were here to help each other and share with each other to accomplish this going forward into 2018.  Wow!!  My heart was so happy I was about to burst!  (Having worked in toxic environments before, it means a lot for me to create a place of acceptance.)

And now I’m preparing for time away from the office, to snuggle up with my daughters and prepare for the holiday cheer.  Cookie baking for Santa will begin in earnest on Friday, with a girls’ slumber party to follow, and looking forward to hanging around during the girls’ school break and being lazy.  I love Christmas with all my heart, and even though I’ve been struggling with emotions and anxiety lately, I am grateful and thankful to have made it to another holiday season.  Let the lights shine!  Let love win!  Let our hearts be full of love! 

I’m so happy to be ending the year with an intention for adding love and kindness to the world, not only at home, but at work too.  Hurray!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Anxiety is a rollercoaster

Some days at Chez Survive, Live, Thrive, I’m at the “survive” end of the spectrum.  I’ve had some great moments of strength and confidence over the last month or so, but the last few days, the pendulum is swinging the other way.  Self-doubt, and fear, and good old PTSD rearing up it’s yuckity head.  I’m so thankful to have an outlet and the means to know that I’ll get through this if I just hang in a little longer…

And at the same time, it just hurts so much.  It hurts to see my babies emotionally manipulated.  It hurts to have to wonder—what is he up to next.  It hurts that my stomach knots up in convoluted knots knowing that I’ll be facing him at a hearing next month.  I refuse to let that ruin my holidays, but I’m struggling.

So I guess I’m just reaching out to the world to say that during this time of joy and celebration, of hope and longing for peace in the holiday season, that there are also complications underneath the surface.  People who are walking through life perhaps with some holiday cheer on the outside, are also struggling to just make it through the next step, to the next crosswalk, to the next street.   Maybe loss, maybe fear, maybe pain, maybe hardship that is not apparent, but whatever it is, I just want to say a prayer out to you to hold on a little longer.  And to me, too.  Hold on a little bit more.  It will be okay, I think, I hope, I pray.

Love and kindness to the world.

Monday, December 4, 2017

I LOVE THE HOLIDAYS (And of course a little Ex-drama)

Let’s start with the good—hubby’s family was here visiting for Thanksgiving, and we just laughed our hearts out for 10 days while they were here.  We went surfing, ziplining, eating, laughing, cooking.  Even the hubby got into surfing with us and had a blast, and my brother-in-law forced me out of my comfort zone and I ended up taking him to breaks where I usually don’t go.  Brother-in-law now wants to start a new tradition by bringing the whole family out every Thanksgiving and I couldn’t be happier.  I cooked a yummy Thanksgiving turkey dinner with gravy from scratch, my daughters crushing up pecans as is their yearly tradition in helping with the sweet potato casserole, home made stuffing, green bean casserole, and sister-in-law helped me with the mashed potatoes, everything turned out delicious and yummy.  My heart was so full with them here.  !!  I can still feel the laughter in my belly and the love everywhere, especially seeing my daughters being hugged and read to and just in general enjoying our extended family time together.

After we dropped them off at the airport, DD2 started to cry, so in an effort to cheer her up, we decided it was time to go get our Christmas tree.  Not only did we light it up and decorate it, but we lit up the carport with our holiday lights, baked grandma’s banana bread and gave some to the neighbors, and just generally sent some love out into the world, hurray!

So now the ex-drama:
He was extra ornery with me because he was demanding his make up time for his last minute business trip, which I posted a little about here. Demanding time right when we had visitors was not going to work with me, but we figured out a nice compromise and I thought, okay, finally, now that’s put to rest. 

At the same time, he went ahead and filed for CS modification which I touched briefly earlier at Chez Survive, Live Thrive.  The thing is, I decided not to contest it, even though the figures included half of what I actually pay for the girls childcare/healthcare, but like I said then, it wasn’t worth the numbers to fight it.

Well, while the family was here, I received notice that the Ex has now decided to ask for a hearing.  ????  Ugh.  And after hemming and hawing and even though I’m confident in my information and numbers, the PTSD that’s triggered right now in facing him at a hearing is not worth it to go this alone.  So I’ve retained an attorney to help me make sure the Ts are crossed and the “i”s are dotted.  I know it will cost more $$ than I need it to cost, so I’ve decided to take out a credit card (interest free for first 15 months) and at least get a free airline ticket out of this  (bonus that comes when you spend so much within the first month).  I know I can pay this off in less than a year, so it is what it is.  Now I don’t have to worry about any legal shenanigans on his side and breathe easier.  It still sucks.

And the latest passive-aggressive move?  This past Saturday was a dad week end.  DD1 had a sports tournament, and DD2 was invited to march in a Christmas parade with her girl scouts at the same time.  A couple of weeks prior, I offered to help either take DD2 to the parade or DD1 to  her tournament; when he didn't respond to me, I quietly asked the girl scout moms to reach out to him last week.  He ended up dropping DD2 off to one of the brownie moms instead of responding to me.  (I thanked the brownie moms--and so as not to rock the boat, I would just cheer on the sidelines, because the most important was that DD2 could participate and I really appreciated their help!).  I just feel so bad about the family drama.

Lastly, through his mother, it sounds like he either thinks he "has more time with the girls than mom does" or his mother has interpreted it that way.  (Either way, it’s untrue, le sigh).  His mom mentioned this recently to one of the girl scout moms in DD1’s troop in passing-- so it sounds like there may be some lingering sense of "unfairness" about the outcome of our divorce…which means no, he has not moved on from “losing.”  And which may be the reason why now he’s asking for hearing.  Ugh, I’m tired of the drama.
---------------- (p.s. I don't know why it won't let me change this font size to something more readable, I've tried editing five times.  maybe it's the universe saying, shrink down this drama!! LOL)

I guess this is the life, isn’t it.  Embracing the good things, family, holiday planning (I’ve already been asked by one of DD1’s besties about when we’re having our Christmas cookie baking sleepover, lol), creating care packages for our family far away, holiday shopping and baking for the girls’ teachers and friends.  Vacation planning—we’re not going anywhere, but I’m just taking time off work to hang with them and just in general breathing in a big breath and enjoying this time of year.

And also contending with the aforementioned drama.  Wishing it didn’t exist, sometimes getting frustrated to tears, PTSD-induced anxiety insomnia at times, but it is what it is, and right now I have the strength and means to deal with it.

So love and hugs to the world and to you and your loved ones.  Let’s add love and peace and kindness to the world, because it clearly needs it.  Here’s to hoping for a better world, and for helping ourselves create that world and being the love.  That’s what I’m wishing for.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Happy Holidays

Love, peace, and kindness to the world!  We definitely need more of it.  In case anyone has been stopping by Chez Survive,  Live, Thrive, I wanted to say we are alive and doing well--had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with the family and are heading into the Christmas season with lots of love in our hearts.

The Exie is pulling his usual shenanigans, more of which I will post later, but for now I am just trying to fill up our little corner with hope and peace for good things to come.

Love and hugs!

Monday, November 13, 2017

Happy Early Thanksgiving!

The emotional temperature at Chez Survive-Live-Thrive has swung back to positivity and light and love and laughter.

It’s a kind reminder to accept that emotions—negative, positive, neutral—are not static, that life moves like the ebb and flow of the tides.  It’s okay to embrace the sadness and pain as we have to live through it to get through it.  And it’s more than okay to embrace the love and laughter, because that’s really the icing on the cake of all this life adventure that we’re having.

Halloween came and went with fun-filled trick-or-treating—a last minute rendezvous with DD1’s besties and walking through the neighborhood!  The moms may or may not have carried small thermoses of bubbly along the way to celebrate our festivities and my birthday, lol, and I was so happy my children were surrounded with happiness and laughter.  I think the best part was the great candy swap—where the kids organized their bounty on my living room floor and traded what they wanted and what they didn’t want, lol.  Same time, next year, we said to one another, as we left to take the girls to their dad’s for his time with them.

And in just two short days, my hubby’s family will be here to celebrate Thanksgiving—the girls are beyond excited and I just love my hubby’s fam with all of my heart.  We are going to hang out and play tourists and swim and surf in the ocean and I can’t wait to make my giant Thanksgiving feast for them.  I love watching my hubby and his brother fight over the leftover turkey.

As for holiday dramas with the ex—he is upset because I wasn’t able to swap a week end with him for his business travel that happened the week before last.  And…I emailed him ages ago to start a conversation on how to go about it.  He didn’t reply…for a MONTH…and is now all antsy and demanding about time.  It just is what it is, and hopefully it will all work out soon.

So in the wake of the tragedies of gun violence, sexual violence, our president shooting off on twitter yet again, I’m doing my best to hold my daughters in the love and light that I have for them.  Every night at bedtime, we pray that we can add more love and peace and kindness to the world.  We clearly need it. I’m thankful for this time.  Love and hugs, to the world!

Monday, October 23, 2017

You say it’s your birthday!

So…a birthday is coming up—and not one of my children’s or the hub’s, but mine...  I embraced the big 4-0 a while back with gusto, because I was so grateful to be in a different place than where I was before (getting out of an abusive relationship, single mothering and wondering if I was going to lose my home— and by the big 4-0, all the crazy court stuff was OVER and had been for a while).  That birthday was amazing and I'm so grateful!!

Since then, the mom-birthday has been weirdly anticlimactic, or maybe a little complicated...and not because I don’t love a good birthday celebration, I do.  I really do!!  It's important to celebrate milestones along the way of this crazy journey.  I also think that some of my trepidation is that I’m afraid to believe—really believe, that my life is better.  That maybe I’m so used to being in survival mode, in fight or flight and escape the worst case scenario mode, it’s too scary or weirdly difficult to fully embrace the peace.

I read somewhere that we accept the love we think we deserve.  It was a from an aching coming-of-age novel, the Perks of Being a Wallflower that was made into film.  I resonated with the pain.  I’m still learning to trust the healing.

My normal was living in pain, so it’s difficult to trust with peace.  I get that’s the goal, which is why I started therapy in the first place and why I scratched and scrabbled my way out of an unhealthy marriage into a different world.  And I guess I’m learning that healing takes time, that it needs to come from the inside out and my insides still need a lot of working out.  I’ve made a new life, and yes there are annoyances in place, i.e. Exie’s nitpicking and accusatory bs and emotionally manipulating the girls and the PTSD that comes with dealing with him over every little dang thing.

However, in terms of my home life, the borders of my home, when my babies are within our home, the one we are making that is safe from harm, I have to figure out how to trust that the other shoe is not going to drop.  No one is going to choke the dog.  No one is going to scream and yell and break things and attack and gaslight and make the world a difficult place.  PTSD—I don’t like you.  I’m trying to live without you, I’m trying to heal.  Two steps forward, one step back, I guess.

The point of this entry is—happy birthday to you.  You might not have ever thought you’d make it this far, but you have, despite the bumps and bruises along the way.  Hug the part of you that’s hurting, and soothe the part of you that’s still scared.  Hang in there for another day, and know it’s okay not to be perfect.  There’s a lot of !@#$ going on in the world these days, so make the difference that you can in your own world and if you screw up in one moment due to PTSD, take the next to try and make it better.  My wish is that the peace you are looking for will sink in and eventually replace the familiar pain blanket that has wrapped you up since you were tiny.  One day love will win, it will, even if it doesn’t feel like it today.  One day, normal will not be anxiety and pain, but peace.  I hope.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Once Upon an Anxiety: One Woman's coping while mid-lifing and co-parenting

Mutu's Forbidden Fruit

An interesting discussion on women in their 40s in America, experiencing mid-life challenges and anxieties unlike the women who came before them, and likely afterwards, from Oprah.

There are times where I’m overcome with joy about this new life I’m building for my daughters and me, life with my hubby, my career that is going well (or not so well on some days).

There are times where I come to work and nestle safely in the retreat from the anxiety of my personal life,  where I feel confident in the choices I’m making because work choices are so much easier than personal life choices, because it’s not personal, it’s work.  (Or so I thought.)

And then there are days that as soon as I open my eyes, my stomach is filled with anxiety and I can barely get out of bed (like the women in the article), a holdover PTSD reaction to the stressors of an ex-husband who finds fault in everything I do, with my growing daughters (especially the tween), who I fear has fallen into a pattern of emotional care-taking with her father, with my elementary aged little sister who is still learning to manage her emotions that she wears so openly and lovingly and frustratingly on her sleeves.

That I’m not making life better, but worse.  That even though I know it’s a marathon, I’m losing the race.  That I’m screwing up, both at home and at work.  I’m barely hanging on with my fingernails.

And then something sweet will happen; like a cat will come knocking at our door, and for twenty sweet minutes, the girls and I drop out of the busy morning routine and show our furry friend some love and kindness and milk (lactose free, apparently is okay for visiting cats).  Who nestles us with meows and walks among our legs like she belongs there. Who settles down watching for our return (and who hasn’t come back, but we’re still hoping, lol).

Or big sister is home from school with a fever, but when the drugs kick in, she’s okay and decides to carefully meld a pair of earrings out of wire and fancy pliers and beads and crystals, which she gives to me, and I wear them the next day.

Times where I’m able to cradle my anxiety-ridden baby self who thinks mom, dad, sister, brother, anyone close will disappear, and recognize that is the root of my anxiety, and I’ll figure out how to take a big, giant breath, and soothe and comfort and relieve the fear deep inside.

Times where I’ll stand proudly in my shoes, knowing it’s okay to struggle, that women in my place and my peers have been afforded opportunities the likes of what hasn’t come before, my mother working as a single parent in a male-dominated corporate structure, paving the way for me, and now I’m paving the way for my daughters.  That these lumps of anxiety are part of the course (at least my course), that going to the moon was never going to be easy, and it’s okay to ask for an oxygen mask or three.  Or some shots of whisky.  That huddling up to anxiety part of the days is actually a normal reaction to the complications and challenges that I’ve faced and continue to face. 

I hope I can figure out how to help my daughters be strong and confident in their choices, opinions, thoughts, feelings.  I hope I can help them navigate our complicated world full of pain and beauty, equip them with decision making skills, with love, with boundaries to protect them from harm.  My wish for them is to not feel debilitated by anxiety, like I am. 

I wish there was a magic wand.  I wish I could make anxiety-laden troubles magically disappear.  I guess the only way through it, is through it.  I guess I have to accept the crazy and ride it to a better place.  I hope doing our best is good enough.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Phone visitation--for the birds?

Image here

Phone calls from the children when they are with their dad: has been an ongoing struggle for years. I can tell they aren't comfortable speaking with me on the phone when they're at his house--he's usually right by them, they’re in a hurry, I’m what stands between them and dinner.  And they always ask:  can this be a short call mom?

They sound stressed, like they know they can't really talk to me and are uncomfortable sounding anything close to happy when they do talk to me.

And what makes me sad is that it’s the polar opposite at my house, because I always make time for them to call their dad, never interrupt, etc., let them have as much time.  The handful of times they get the gumption to ask HIM if they can have a short call, 95% of the time he starts needling them as to why, and the short call that they ask for becomes long call.

I’ve tried reinforcing with the girls that the phone calls are for them, not for me or dad, and that it’s okay to want to talk or not want to talk.  It’s funny how they are only comfortable with asking me for a short call, 95% of the time.

The play therapist says to leave it alone, that the girls will grow up and learn that their dad expects one type of behavior from them, and that they will learn that I will listen when they ask for a short call.

I’m trying not to see it as they’re getting into a habit of not valuing talking to me; but we must value talking to him (because I make space for the calls). 

I know it’s a marathon not a race, but sometimes, when they do the ‘can this be a short call’ and if we speak for a minute, and they sound reluctant to talk, I can envision him in the background nodding his head, thinking, see—the kids don’t even want to talk to her.

And I KNOW I have to be the bigger person about this, it just sucks!!!!! 

I also know I need to not take this personally, but last night, my heart hurt.  Being a grown up sucks sometimes.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


Image credit

Ironically, the title of this post is not a theme of my coparenting life, although it definitely could be applied in more instances than one!

I’ve been experiencing vertigo since last Friday—and what with all the dizzy walking and whoozing around, I've wondered who has time to be dizzy when there’s work to do, kids to take care of, volunteer work, etc? 

The problem is that the medicine to make the dizzy go away knocks me off of my feet, and also makes me feel depressed, booooo.

I wonder if this is just a sign of getting older and my inner ears are striking.  Or, maybe I’m just a complete and utter anxiety mess and I have to embrace it already.  I have to figure out a way to no let anxiety build up so much.  Therapy and regular exercise is what I've been attempting for the last few years...clearly I have to rethink some strategies...any advice is most welcome!  And obviously, that is my unscientific theory that high levels of stress/anxiety is causing my anxiety, maybe it's not.  I do know that I was under an extreme amount of stress the night before I woke up with the vertigo however...

For anyone experiencing vertigo, however, I’ve tried this half-somersault which seems to help a little bit:

It’s put out there by Dr. Carol Foster, an MD who experienced vertigo herself and the University of Colorado-Denver medical campus posted it online.

This is better than what my primary care physician told me (once I finally dragged myself in to see her): as long as you’re not barfing, go to work! 


And THAT is finding some humor in life—as long as you’re not barfing, you can do anything!

Friday, September 15, 2017

All quiet on the coparenting front...but work has offered a conundrum

Image Credit

Well, not really, he's filing for a child support modification.  However, when I looked at the numbers, I came to the conclusion not to fight it.  It doesn't change that much, and after all of the years of conflict and continuing conflict, I'm deciding to pick my battles and this isn’t one worth fighting.

My workplace, however, has handed up a different dilemna and that is the space that is difficult to navigate lately.  There are too many cooks in the kitchen.  It is a difficult project and I think it's one where everyone at the table actually wants to “help,” it’s just there’s so many different ways to go about it and no one can trust each other, etc.

I have a funny feeling in my stomach.  I think I need to come to the conclusion in this conversation to also step back and not “do battle.”  I think my job is to make sure everyone’s voices can be heard.  Even the ones that I don’t agree with. 

There is a player at the top who is the one who for the last nine months took a back seat and let the “committee” do the work that they said they would do.  It involved going out into the community and speaking with clients, providers, the public, in an effort to understand their experience of “accessing justice” as a way to understand how and where the challenges may be, and look for common themes in those challenges and as those themes emerged, try and figure out how we could put together a plan to meet those challenges.

Can we solve everyone’s justice issue?  Not at the moment, but can we try and make it a safer, easier, more understandable process?  That was our hope, at least my hope at the beginning of this process.  The stories people shared were amazingly truthful to their experiences, authentic, heartfelt.  No, people are not accessing justice, people feel afraid, marginalized, and re-victimized by the court process, and that’s just if they get to court in the first place.  Lack of information abounds, people ‘give up.’  It’s quite a bleak picture. 

However, one of the silver linings to this conversation is that while it is so very bleak in terms of current experiences, there are so many people who want to help.  People who have nothing to do with the courthouses or legal services, people who are part of community health centers, or social services providers, or homeless service providers, and  more, like the YWCA.  If we could link together and create a network of information (and correct information) and also shepherd people through the process (rather than leading them to a web site and waving goodbye and wishing them luck), maybe we could make the process of “accessing” justice just a little bit easier.

So what’s the problem?  There are some blinders on in terms of those who do not want to hear that the justice system is lacking in its ability to provide help—that it is not people-centered and that people are afraid.  There is a difficulty in the self-awareness and reflection piece that perhaps some of the way we have been handling these issues is not working, and it’s time to think about re-designing (yes, change is scary). 

And the same people wearing the blinders are the ones who have started to make decisions independently, and who cannot hear criticism and who cannot understand that identifying a huge problem that appears not to be able to be fixed right away is okay, in fact was expected of us in launching into this project. 

I’m concerned that in an effort to go straight to solution in an effort to “just get the report written already,” voices will be lost—not only the voices of the users that we were so careful and respectfully committed in learning from, but also the provider voices who are the ones carrying out the brunt of the work and any initiatives to help.

For the last few weeks, I’ve been running interference, seeing if I can preserve the voices and the integrity of the project.  I’m thinking maybe it’s time to step back, take a deep breath, and just let it go and leave the process to what it is.  Does that mean the bully wins?  Maybe.

Aha, and that may be why I’m struggling so hard.  I see someone strong-arming and bullying their way through in the guise of using the “committee”—when actually it’s not a committee at all, it’s one person being a bit of a bully.  Who perhaps has good intentions, but the process of doing so breeds mistrust, marginalization, silencing of others.

I understand the need to “get it done,” but aren’t we supposed to ensure we have all voices at the table?  How can we have a successful, “finished” product, if we lose people along the way, especially the ones who are given the responsibility to carry this forward? 

And does coming to the end product at the expense of losing people along the way make for good politics?  I do not think so, and it does not make me proud to be part of this project anymore.

It reminds me of someone who used to bully and silence myself and endanger my daughters and perhaps that’s why I’m so upset of late. 

Take a deep breath, step back.  My job is not to fix the bully.  My job is to do my best to influence the process to preserve the voices of the people I care about.  I may  not win, and that’s okay, it’s not about winning, it’s about living with dignity and doing the right thing.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

Of secrets, tennis shoes, field trips and anything else

Image credit

The girls came home from a week end with dad, excited to share that they went fishing and eagerly explaining how they caught so many fish and had to scale them.

When we responded wow that sounds like fun, where did you go?  They responded swiftly with: it’s a secret!  We can’t tell you!

I took that in stride and glossed over it, marveling again on how much fish they caught, then proceeded to finish dinner and do our normal goodnight routine.  DD1 had huge amounts of homework to do.  So when DD2 brushed her teeth, and I was helping her get ready for bed, I asked her, how does it make you feel to keep a secret?  She hugged me close and said, not good mommy.  And, we went to the pier but don’t tell DD1, or A or daddy I told you.  So I hugged HER closely and said that I was glad she had a good time, that fishing sounds fun, and that it’s okay to do fun things with dad.  I also said, and you know some secrets are fun, like a fishing spot, and also I’m your mommy and it’s okay to tell me anything.  Especially if there is a secret that makes you feel even just the tiniest bit funny or weird.  It’s OKAY to tell your mommy.  DD2 seemed fine and since it was early, we picked two books and read them and off she went to sleep.

As for DD1, who is standing firmly in tweenhood, her response was quite different—although to be honest, I’ve had the “secret” conversation with her when she was DD2’s age as well.  Anyway, this go around her response was rolling her eyes and that “I LIKE having secrets from you mom,” and “it’s fun to have secrets, and besides you don’t understand everything anyway.”

To which I responded, you know when I was growing up, I didn’t want to tell Grandma G everything too.  But it’s also my job as your mom to tell you that it’s okay to tell me ANYTHING, even if you feel frustrated or think I won’t understand.

Her response, of COURSE you won’t understand and a big dramatic sigh and throwing a blanket over her head (since she was going to bed).

Okay, honey, I said, but it’s still my job to be your mom and be here for you for ANYTHING.  This elicited more monosyllabic sighing.  Although after I said goodnight, she came into the bathroom where I was getting ready for bed to talk about her iPad use the following day, and I took this to mean that she was just trying to be near me.  And the following morning when she was getting ready, she wanted me to sit in the bathroom with her while SHE was getting ready, so I’m just riding out this “push-pull” tween thing this week.

I did try and re-cap my approach to “secrets” and that it’s okay to tell mommy ANYTHING on the way to school, to which DD1 rolled her eyes and said, I KNOW YOU’VE TOLD US A THOUSAND TIMES ALREADY. 
(me: trying not to laugh).

So onward to the field trip and shoes.  The next night the girls had their weeknight overnight. After which I was accused of not returning DD2’s shoes and all the problems wearing flip-flops instead of his shoes to school presented—as I was endangering DD2 by letting her stub her toe and having some kid run over it with his rolling backpack.  Also for neglecting to send along the information about DD2’s field trip since she didn’t tell him until the morning and they needed to pack her lunch and she needed to wear her shoes (which he took another opportunity to tell me I hadn’t returned them). 

Hmm…the shoes that were in DD2’s backpack; clearly someone forgot to look before sending me a scathing email.  As for the field trip, reminders were sent home and put in DD2’s daily journal which someone clearly didn’t look at the night before, either. 

And so it goes.  Onward, forward.  Deep breaths.  It makes me feel like doing the monosyllabic sighing that my tweenster does when frustrated.  To be honest, I was super upset earlier this week, but now feel quite zen about it.

The good news is that the girls are home for the rest of the week so I’m looking forward to having some girl time with them.  Most of their extracurricular activities don’t start until next month, so it’s a mellow week end ahead.  Hurray!


Friday, August 4, 2017

Back to School Co-parenting Blues

image here

And so it begins.

First of all, let me just say I’m so happy my girls had their back-to-school night last night, met their teachers, settled in with their desks and all their school supplies, we are good!  This is the first year that DD2 is attending the same school as DD1 and she’s REALLY excited about that (transferred her from her little private school, think she’s ready for the big leagues, lol).

Since DD2 is a little older, the first of the graduated visitation has set in.  So this is the first time the girls have been on “his” time on back-to-school night.  I’ve always invited him on back-to-school nights prior however.  And he would stick like glue.  The difference between this back to school night?  He kept hurrying the kids and I along so they could say goodbye to me.  /eyeroll.  The girls felt like they couldn’t walk with me all the time (I encourage them to talk/walk with him when he comes to events on ‘my’ time, but whatever).  DD2 was sweet and loving and effusive; DD1 was more reserved and didn’t even look at me to say goodbye.  /cry

So a couple of things leading up to this:

Last week end, DD1 had another sleepover, and it was on dad’s week end. She wanted to bring her electronic device, but I wasn’t comfortable with sending it to day camp and having it sit in her backpack in a giant cafeteria all day, so I worked it out with her BFF’s mom that I’d drop it off, and then pick it up from their tennis practice the following Monday.  DD1 was ecstatic because there were five girls total who would be there and they’d all be doing Minecraft.  (I know, I know, a big deal! Lol)

All went well.  Until this past Wednesday, at bed time, when DD1 told me that dad said he wasn’t comfortable that I brought the iPad to her sleepover on “his” time, and that the next time we do that she has to run it by him.  And I was like, sweetie it’s not okay for you to have to be the messenger; we’re grown ups, and if dad has an issue he can talk to me directly.  And she got super defensive and was like, NO MOM, you’re missing the POINT.  I just have to tell him, so he knows if he’s supposed to take it home or not or what.  And I was like, sweetie, I talked with YOU and Aunty that we were going to leave it with her since we didn’t want it going to day camp on Monday.  And the thing is, we’re grown ups so if dad has issues he can talk to me directly.  She got super agitated some more about me missing the point.  (Now I just feel bad.  I should have said, how does that make you feel or something.  Ugh. Mom fail.)  Anyway she was just exasperated at me, but we still had a pleasant good night.

Okay, so back to back to school night.  The school has been emailing for weeks about how you can check the lists posted at the school during business hours to find out which classroom your child will be in.  Since I’ve been in touch with the school about DD2’s transfer, I called and asked, they let me know over the phone.  I email Exie a couple of times about how to handle back to school night, let’s meet up at DD2’s class first, since she’s new to the school, then go to DD1’s class after.

All is fine until the day of, when he insinuates by email about how I must be keeping school communications from him, as how did I know what classroom DD2 is in and he does not?  (How about, thank you for letting me know about what classroom she’s in?  Or call the school yourself?  Ugh.)

So cut to back to school night, it’s “his” night, and I think that’s why the girls were acting squirrelly.  I see now that he has made a huge deal about “his” time, and the girls know they are to behave accordingly.  DD2, in her effusiveness, forgets, and bounces around like a jumping bean and is all cuddly and cute and friendly, and then suddenly remembers and is back at clinging at his side.  DD1 is a tween now, so it could just be tweeniness, but her behavior is also a result of his making her feel responsible for his “comfort.”  And it makes me sad.

At the end of the day, I have to remember that the kids are all right.  They seem happy and are doing well in school, learning, love to spend time with their friends.  I have to find a way to not let his nitpicking get to me and some days I’m great at it.  Last night, I went home super upset.  So I decided to channel my frustrating into lifting weights.  It helped for a time, lol, but now i'm sore on top of feeling a little blue.  DD1 and DD2 I love you with all my heart, I hope you can feel it. 

Monday, July 24, 2017

Vacation memories

It’s hard to believe we returned from our family trip a week ago!  We successfully carted my mom around two states, spent quality time with my uncle and aunty, two cousins and their hubs, and one adorable second cousin who is two, and with whom my DD2 tried to carry everywhere they went. 

It was so awesome that my Uncle opened his doors to us, we were there Friday, Saturday, Sunday, hanging out, or should I say, partying down!—for both Friday/Saturday nights, we didn’t get back home to our hotel until midnight or 1am!  My mom knows how to party with those board games, card games, making s’more’s in the chimenea off the back porch.  And it was so wonderful seeing the lightning bugs come alive in the wee hours of twilight—to my girls’ delight. Truly, I loved seeing my girls making connections with our family and also reconnecting myself with my uncle and cousins.  We’ve been seeing each other off and on through the years for a meal or an hour or two, but this was the first time in many, many years, where we spent extended time together.

My mom did surprisingly well due to her health condition; we strolled along gorgeous Smale park which is nestled on the banks of the Ohio river, water fountains spouting and inviting the kids to play in them, gardens and garden mazes, life-sized chess games and man-made streams with Rube Goldberg contraptions built in, and a working “when pigs fly” moving statue.  

We also strolled across over a bridge not too far from the Roebling Suspension Bridge (seen above), the design/construction of which was the template for the creation of the Brooklyn Bridge 30 years later, taking in the lights and pictures, having walked from one state (Kentucky) to another (Ohio) and back again! 

My college classmate and her family drove down for two nights to meet us and we oohed and aahed through the neighboring aquarium while my mom rested from the nights of partying, stroking stingrays and watching penguins dive in and out of the water, along with sharks swimming overhead in their tube aquarium; and after our six day visit with the family, we loaded back up and headed back to my mom’s place.  Next stop, off to a visit my bro and family at their farm.

Some of our views at the farm (well, this one was close by, but couldn't resist the baby foal and mom picture):

After dinner, my mom settled into her hotel room with our caregiver that we’d hired; the girls and I went back to the farm where my bro kindly blew up more fireworks into the night.  So exciting!  It was great having bonus time with them.  My daughters were able to ride the horses twice in a row with my sis-in-law; and my older nephew took me on the golf course to teach me all things golf which was hilarious and fun (considering I had no idea golf has a completely different language—he later told my bro that I have a natural talent and that I should take lessons and if I applied myself, I could be quite good! LOL).  Honestly it was just so much fun spending time with him—he is actually quite good, second on his golf team as a freshman, regularly participates in regional golf tournaments; my bro and sister-in-law are banking on at least a college scholarship, here’s to hoping! 

And, I even dared to tackle the mountain biking with my youngest nephew again—while my sis-in-law had my youngest daughter on the horse, DD1 hung with the barn cats, and the next thing I knew I was popping wheelies over roots and trees and getting my butt whipped by wild rosebushes.  To his credit, my nephew didn’t take us entirely into the middle of the woods, just partly, and when we circled back along the old train tracks, he took the lead (and the multiple cobwebs) by storm.  LOL.

Lastly, I came up with the bright idea to take my youngest nephew back to town with us for an overnight, so grandma could have bonus time with her grandson, plus her two granddaughters, and while she rested, I took the three of them to the horse park where we hiked around, went through a Smithsonian affiliated international museum of the horse, as well as interacted with different breeds of horses.

The one featured here is the Marwari horse—DD1 was super impressed at the backstory for the Marwaris, that they never left their riders in battle, and would defend them at all costs.  Awww, my darling DD1 and her fierce and loyal heart.

And the next thing we knew, we were home…

This past week end, we had a belated birthday sleepover for DD1—plus a pal for DD2 to keep her occupied (this backfired, so will re-think this in the future, as the little ones were way too interested in what the big girls were up to, lol), however all in all, everyone had a blast.  We had pizza at night and watched movies, at bed time, the littles did fall asleep way before the big ones and I let them do their group device games; in the morning, I had craft activities involving pipe cleaners, beads—hand made flower rings for themselves, as well as creating glow-in-the-dark beaded jewelry or ornaments and exchanging from a name drawing (they loved guessing who made what). 

So…now we’re back into the swing of things, the time-sharing “schedule” resumes tomorrow.  And I’m trying to be brave and supportive, and outwardly I am, for the girls’ sakes.  Inside, I’m dreading the nitpicking emails and the complaints and the demands that are just around the corner.  It’s been a nice two week break, I wish it could stay this way for a while longer. 

I love my daughters with all my heart.  Please let them be okay.  Please let them always know there is room in their hearts for ALL of the people in their family.  Please let love always win.  

Monday, July 3, 2017

Leaving on a Jet Plane - Summer 2017

We leave to visit my mom on Wednesday—another girls trip with just me and my daughters, so excited!

This trip was actually all DD1’s doing.  Since the holidays, she kept asking if we were going to see Grandma, and I kept saying, I wasn’t sure, we’d just gone last year, it’s really expensive to buy the plane tickets, etc.

And then one day, DD1 came to me, looked me straight in the eye and said:  Mom, you know Grandma isn’t doing very well.  She’s sick.  We really should go visit her.

Me: …

So, within a month, I’d figured out the budget and how we were going to do it.  Did I dip into my savings a little bit?  Yes.  Is it worth it?  Definitely, yes.

My mom is full time in a wheelchair these days due to her condition, but she’s raring to get out and go, so I rented a modified minivan that has an electric ramp for her to drive her wheelchair right up into it, plus we hired the same nurse assistant who traveled with us last year to help me manage the medication and assist my mom at the hotel.  We’re going to take a mini road trip to see my cousins and a brand new baby (okay she’s 24 months, so not that brand new, lol, but brand new to us!) and my mom is super excited to spend some time all together.

Last week, my brother called, the place where my mom is living says that mom needs more nursing care than they can provide, so they are recommending that she moves to a sister facility—likely closer to my brother.  This will turn out better in the end, and is also reinforcement that now, this summer, is the time to visit and take my mom around with us.  Could this be her last hurrah?  It might be.  Only time will tell.

In the meantime, looking forward to a trip where love rules!

Monday, June 26, 2017

She's a Wonder, Wonder Woman!

I’ve been walking a tightrope of co-parenting and work stress lately, but I’m so excited to share that I took a big break from all of that by taking the girls to see Wonder Woman, in full costume, with our lady pals!

Okay truth time, the little sisters and the moms dressed up, the tween and her BFF reluctantly wore one Wonder Woman glove each, but then later discarded them, to little sister’s delight, since then she could wear the “real” Wonder Woman wrist armor, ha ha ha.

I’ve cropped out some pics, but I hope you can feel the Wonder Woman love.

Sometimes, it’s just nice to share some laughter and love for an afternoon.

Sometimes, it’s okay to be silly.

Sometimes, it’s okay to let go of the stressors.

Sometimes, I have to breathe in this moment and love that my daughters get to see a feature movie with a superhero woman saving the world, directed by the first woman to command a 100 million dollar budget, to hear that love wins, and to have this experience be one that is “normal” to them.  That’s pretty dang amazing in my book.


Now for the downside—after we left the theater, little sister was crying, because she didn’t want to say goodbye to her BFF.  She rallied after some theater goers were waving at us, saying bye Wonder Woman and baby Wonder Woman!  Which made her laugh and wave at them.  On the way home, on her daily phone call with her father, she mentioned going to the movies, then having a hard time leaving, and she said, I’m glad it wasn’t in front of you, because you’d say cut it out, or knock it off.  Straight out the mouth of babes.  (I hope she doesn’t get in trouble for saying that later.) L

And this morning, on the way to summer fun, we talked about how Exie’s birthday was coming up and I asked the girls if they wanted me to get a card for him; then the girls wanted to go shopping and I said, well, maybe you could talk to grandma (Exie’s mom) about it and she could take you this week end.  And both girls said, NO, mom, that won’t work, because Grandma and daddy fight all the time, and he’d never let her take us.  L

Ugh, what the heck is going on?  So I said unfortunately we didn’t have time to go shopping after school because of all of our after school stuff, but I could pick up a card for sure, and big sister said okay, please get a fancy chocolate bar, with no nuts!  LOL.  So I’m putting this out there in the universe—doing kind deeds for the purpose of helping my daughters.  I hope this doesn’t come back and bite me in the a$$, but if it does, oh well.

Because today, love wins.  !  And no one can take that away from us.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Extended Summer Visitation

 Image credit

The coping goes on.  I had a mini meltdown over the week end, it’s so hard to be apart from my daughters, but I know a lot of that is my issue, not theirs. 

And in some of my deepest corners of missing them, I feel myself stretching to understand how difficult it may be for my Exie to be apart from them as well.  For a moment, out of some kind of camaraderie as parents.  Then I pause and remember how we got here, which sobers me up somewhat and hardens my resolve to keep our girls as safe as possible.  It’s not my fault he broke toys, dishes, household items in anger.  It’s not my fault that he choked the family dog and threw him across the room on more than one occasion.  It’s not my fault that he kicked my daughter when she wouldn’t get up from the floor.  It’s not my fault that he kicked the fitness ball that my younger daughter was holding onto when she had just learned to walk, leading her to fall backward.  It’s not my fault that he would say he was sorry, but never followed through with actions on taking control and fixing his anger problem.  So F you, I may understand the sadness at being apart from my daughters during an extended visitation, it may help me empathize with your loneliness a little bit, but F you for making this an unbearable mess to begin with, and continuing to make life more difficult than it needs to be.

Erg.  So my last post was about not having information about where the girls were staying on their staycation with him—I had checked in with our play therapist in hopes he might have mentioned it, and she was like don’t sweat it, as long as you can communicate, that’s what matters, and now he’s setting a precedent that you also don’t have to tell him (which is kind of sad in that we as parents are so ridiculous that not sharing this information is going to be normal—when I have shared numerously in the past).  At any rate, guess what, when the girls called me, they let me now where they were—I didn’t even have to ask, they were just open and talkative and communicative and in good spirits, being at a happy place on earth.  And, I was happy they were where they were, I know that place has lots of water slides, it really is hotel heaven for kids.  I love those water slides, too, so I guess I’m just a big kid, lol.

So onward I went with my life of work responsibilities, spouse responsibilities, friend responsibilities, and then I got sick so was in bed for a couple of days and when I got better, went back to work.  And checked my email and realized that I had missed a real gem from days earlier:

Where he accused me of interrogating the girls, had forced them to “report” to me where they were staying, and that he was not comfortable with me knowing where they were because he knows my husband works in the hotel industry and did not want him to check up on them.

Me: …

Further, that I had never given him information on our travel locations and hotels and that communication via cell would be fine.  (by this time, they were home, had left the hotel days ago, it was just me neglecting to pick up my email).

After collecting my thoughts. I wrote a civil response.

Dear Jerkface (okay I didn’t say jerkface),

I have numerous requests from you about accommodations for when I travel with the girls, as well as my responses that include hotel information, contacts, phone numbers, and addresses of where we are staying.  I understand that in the future that as long as communication is via cell that is satisfactory to you.

The girls are open and communicative with me and I make every effort to ensure the girls feel comfortable and supported when they speak with you, I hope the same is happening when they speak with me.

Lastly, I feel sorry that you think my husband would check up on you; he has always been open, friendly, and communicative with you at the children’s school events.  I think that is an odd conclusion, so am merely responding that is not the case.


Ugh.  And notably, when the girls have called me since this email, the conversations have been fast and tense on their part, saying they have to go, and I worry mostly that they feel like they have to placate him by not speaking with me.  I actually make it a point to answer only on the every/other day situation, so as to lessen the stress on them.  L

So that mini-meltdown I mentioned in the beginning of this post?  It’s partly because I was overcome with worry that he was interrogating them, making them feel bad for talking to me.  Partly because I’m frustrated that I’m dealing with this craziness, and part of me worries that he will somehow “turn” them against me.  I realize now that is just crazy thinking.  Stay open, stay communicative.  Let them have a short call when they ask, as they are kids, in the moment, may not want to talk, or it may be their coping mechanism when being with their dad.  The good news is that he’s not kicking them or breaking stuff (at least I hope not).  The play therapist says the phone calls are something they’ll figure out with their dad at some point, but overall they’re doing fine.  I have to believe that I’m doing everything I can for them, by being open and supportive and loving.  Okay, I can do those things.  They’ll be home in less than a week. The final stretch.

p.s. I am doing adult time things, hanging with the hubs, catching up with old friends that I haven’t spent much time with over the last year, dinners with pals, brunch with pals, even a day drink or two, lol.  Coping with extended visitation is apparently a marathon and not a race.