Friday, January 25, 2019

Adulting in Grief and Coparenting in spite of it

Grief is an ocean wave that I sometimes get submerged in.  The tides come and go, pulling me forward and backward, especially in this first year since you’ve been gone.  I can swim towards it or against it, but in the end, all it means is that I love you and miss you, mom.

I was prepared for yesterday’s anniversary of my mom’s passing to hit me with a two-by-four plank of emotions.  It’s been a roller coaster all year.  I wore black.  I’ve been in and out of grief.  Even my my usually reticent and distant brother has called me numerous times lately and actually said I love you.  (This is kind of a happy miracle, and one that my mom would love to know is happening—she’d laugh about it as much as I have appreciated it and laughed, too.  My brother has always been the anti “I love you” sayer).

At any rate, I was not prepared to deal with the petulance and hissy-fit throwing of my ex-husband and father of my daughters.  The world centers around his needs and wants, so why would I be surprised?

Let us set the stage of the latest, petty, b.s. that we sometimes live in:

The children came home without DD2’s tennis racquet that DD1’s coach gave her, out of the goodness of his heart (expensive, quality racquet, since coach’s kids are really good players, so this was an awesome hand-me-down for DD2).   Coach had previously asked if DD2 could use it and later gave it to her over four months ago—on a night when DD2 was practicing with dad.  It has never occurred to dad that the racquet is for DD2 and not for him, so he has kept it with him and did not share with me that DD2 received said gift.  Coach tipped me off, because he saw us at practice and asked DD2 why she didn’t have it (he knows the two-houses situation, thankfully, and is quite understanding).  I thanked Coach, then politely overlooked dad’s actions, since DD2 was only taking lessons once a week at district park.  However, now she’s joined a bona fide beginner’s team, and it’s time to begin practice in earnest as they will be playing in bona fide beginner matches with teams all over our county.

Of course, I’ve politely emailed him over the last three weeks, anticipating DD2’s need for her racquet.  Of course he didn’t respond.  (Although miraculously, he did respond by text that he got my emails and he’d get back to me, but he never did.) And DD1 even offered to bring the said racquet home with her—which normally I wouldn’t let her chime in, but she is an avid tennis player and understands that the racquet is DD2’s, just like DD1’s racquet is hers and it goes back and forth between houses, too.  So great, we have a plan.  But did it come home?  No.

So now DD2 needs her racquet before she goes back to dad’s house.  So I email/text dad about it.  He says he can’t drop it off because he won’t be near our house over the next five days, and then tells me that I shouldn’t email him over the week end when he has the kids, because he won’t get it, that I need to text him a day before to remind him.  Because of course he needs a secretary to remind him to parent.  Then he turns it around that DD1 has items from his house that need to be returned—of course none of items have time constraints and DD1 is old enough and aware enough to take care of.

I offer to meet him for the (!@#$ing) racquet (which is happening later) and proceed to tell him that DD1 is working on returning items to his house.  He agreed, and let’s hope he shows up (on time).  Extra drama that I don’t need.  And honestly, I usually avoid this kind of stuff—I’ll just buy two of everything, because then no one has to worry about this kind of !@#$.  But the racquet is professional and high end, and it’s DD2’s, so sometimes, I have to do this !@#$.

So that’s the background scene to the next hissy-fit he threw:

We have a lovely  night of girl scouts planned, which we have every certain weeknights the kids are with me and not with him (because god forbid he actually has to take them somewhere on ‘his’ weeknight).  We call early, and the kids leave a voicemail, per usual, since we’ve done this for the last year, the last two years, the last five years, the last FREAKING EIGHT YEARS.  Then somewhere during girl scouts, he leaves a text and an email that the girls didn’t call and he had no notice and that I shouldn’t “impede” the girls communicating with him.  (Because you know, we haven’t done this ever before, so this must be what I’m doing.)

Anyway, I get the text post DD2 going to bed, luckily DD1 is up.  I’m tempted to ignore it completely, but I remember I have to see him to get DD2’s tennis racquet and quickly remember that taking the high road is what I should do instead of saying the !#@$ with this b.s.  (Sometimes, I really do want to say !@#$ it)  DD1 has a nice call and all seems fine.  After she goes to bed, I respond to his email that he may recall we call early on certain weeknights due to girl scouts as was the case this evening, and that while I was glad DD1 could call, DD2 was already asleep as the girls go to bed soon after their week night activities.  (You know, because we have to get up early and go to school/work—this I didn’t mention, but duh.)  And that I appreciated his taking early calls in the past.  Sincerely.

Sincerely !@#$ off.  But I remember that he is a sad, selfish, miserable person whose world must revolve around him.  That I am the cause for all that is wrong with his world, and even though he has “moved on,” his behavior towards me has remained the same.

Before I went to bed, I was thinking about all the fun the girl scouts had—making their poster board for World Thinking Day, learning how to write their names in a different language, learning how to fold origami.  Their laughter and voices discussing different words and enjoying a snack and holding hands and singing at the end of our meeting.

I got to thinking how my mom never let my ex-husband put her down or treat her badly, and how much she disliked the way he treated me and DD1 and DD2 with his impatience, anger, and outbursts.  She would, actually, be happy that I wasn’t letting him get away with treating us that way anymore.  So even though I was frustrated with having to deal with him on the anniversary of her passing, she would have thought I handled it okay.  She probably would have said !@#$ with the texts/emails (in a less profane way, she never swore).  And also to !@$# with the damn tennis racquet, too, lol, but she would be glad that I was safe in our house, sleeping next to my hubby who loves me and the girls.

She would be happy that despite the challenges, we are healthy and happy, doing the best that we can do with our lives.  She would be happy that the girls had a different way of living than when she was last visiting us when DD2 and DD1 were small.  And she would smile knowing that before they went to sleep, the girls said thank you for everyone in our family, including Grandma who is in heaven now.  Of that, I know for sure.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Two Moments in the Life of a Little Girl Growing up in the World Right Now

I don’t know wtf is going on with media messaging in the world where my third grade daughter is worried that she’s fat.

I’ve tried responses that concentrate on what our bodies can do (can I run? Can I swim? Can i climb the monkey bars? Can i play tennis with my friends? And karate too? Yay! I’m healthy!) and how our doctor says she is perfectly healthy every year at her physical. That honestly our DOCTOR is the person who can tell us if there’s an issue about weight, and no one else. She’ll agree for a few days but then it’s like she doesn’t hear it at all, she comes home saying my belly is fat or my belly is big. That this girl or that girl at school says her belly is fat (as in talking about herself, not my daughter’s; it’s the self loathing talk that’s bumming me out—and i know these girls they are little growing toothpicks).

I’ve tried to normalize that bellies are just bellies and bending over makes our bellies look different, to no avail. I’ve monitored the way I speak about my body around her to make sure I’m not passing along negative body imaging to her. I say I exercise so I can be healthy and live a long life (not that I’m trying to lose weight or trying to be skinny, and that’s fine if those are personal goals out there in the world, just not trying to put those world’s expectations on her). Urggggg.

So in the moment, I resorted to: I can’t stop you from saying negative things about yourself DD2, even though I know the words aren’t true. I need you to say some different words for yourself though. So from now on, any time you say something negative, like my belly is fat, I want you to say something positive, too. Like, I can read chapter books. I can swim all afternoon. She half heartedly repeated these words. And was like
awwww, do I have to?

And I was like: if I catch you saying negative things about yourself without saying something positive, no playing games on the IPAD.

Her (eyes as big at saucers): For how long?




I recalled going through this a little bit with DD1, but not to the constant repeat loop that seems to be with DD2.  And, she still bounces around and plays with her friends, like today she swam for two hours straight in the pool, just venting about the negative body talk that she’s taken on. Is it parroting? Does she really think this? Probably a bit of both.  And IPAD threatening was not my best moment, but I fail all the time so just add it to the tally of shit I do wrong.  Tomorrow is another damn day.


Day 2: So after a somewhat good night's sleep, I felt a little better about this being a marathon type of conversation/issue and not a here's a few steps to solve the challenge type of situation.  So okay, life, I'll take this challenge, dang it.  One of the silver linings out of the conversations of late is this:  she actually talks to me about it.  she feels safe enough with me to tell me her worries and fears, so I need to be less judgmental about her worries and fears and more supportive of how to be a positive force in her life.  I'll keep up with positive talk and will lesson the IPAD threats, and understand that if we still struggle with messaging as a 20, 30, 40  year olds (my goal is that by 50 i just wont gaf, i'm pretty close to IDGAF, but i've been conditioned by the same media messaging), then of course this is going to seep into an 8 year old's realm, whether i like it or not.  p.s. she brought it up again this morning when i was braiding her hair.  she was hesitant to say the word 'fat,' i think in part because she didn't want me to harsh on feminist theory at 6am?  LOL.  so i said, honey, i realize you have your thoughts and feelings about this, and the world is going to say one thing, and we have to say other things back.  so what would you like to say back?  i can swim?  she said yes.  i can read all the books?  she said yes.  and i said, anything else?  and she said: i can run. 

And…my heart melted.

Lastly, an extra:
Gillette embraced the Be the Best a Man can Be to mean more than brawny, uninformed masculinity, and I actually teared up.  Of course there’s backlash from the trolls and threats to boycott, which means it struck a nerve.  You can see it here.

I know, I know, I teared up at a SHAVING commercial.  But I teared up because this mainstream, commercial (usually money-grubbing and not giving a f!@$) world has embraced the idea of a BETTER way to be.  I imagined how different my experiences would have been if I had grown up in this one, and maybe that’s why I teared up.  A hope that the world can be better.

Because world, I **need** you to be a better place for my two little girls who are growing up fast.