Posts Tagged With: parenting

sisters

My heart is full of love.
I got a snapchat from Thing 2 late last night.
She’s at her sister’s!

The idea of my two Things together makes me so happy!
They have a uniquely precious friendship. It’s been through it’s share of troubles, but what sister relationship hasn’t?

They’ve lived through every moment of their lives (well, Thing 2’s life anyway) together. Every joy. Every sadness. Every fear. Every love. They’ve been each other’s best friend and worst enemy. Though they are quick to get at each other, each girl would kill or die to protect her sister from an outside threat. Even now, after time and events and miles have created a distance between them.

Am I jealous?
No, that’s not the right word.
Do I feel like I’m missing out?
Absolutely!
But not in a selfish way.

Being able to witness their complicated love of the last (nearly) twenty years. To see how their relationship has evolved as they become women. To listen as they speak their own personal language, when they finish each other’s sentences. To laugh at age-old jokes, or family stories they love to share.
I love the relationship my daughters have with each other. They are so blessed to have it. And they know it.
Sure, they take each other for granted. Sure they annoy each other if they’re together for too long. But when it comes down to it, they belong to each other in a way they belong to none of the rest of us.

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don’t f**k with Mr Zero

Years ago, I adopted a saying from the movie When Harry Met Sally.
“Don’t f**k with Mr Zero.”
I am Mr Zero.
Do not f**k with me.
And for your own good, do not f**k with my kids.

We were at the U.S. Capital building on Monday. A tour with YBW’s cousin, her husband, and their three year old daughter, who are visiting us from out of town. Joining us, YBW’s brother and Thing G.
All was well until YBW’s brother displayed a bit of “hangry” behavior. Y’all know what hangry is, right? Means you act like a great big dick with the excuse that you’re hungry. (note: that’s my definition, not Webster’s or OE’s)

Now I know something about hangry…only I never actually called it that. Thing 2 is hypoglycemic and can become grouchy when her blood sugar is low. A quick protein-rich carbohydrate snack to bring her blood sugar up quickly and keep it up, and boom! She’s right as rain.

Anyway.
YBW’s brother needs to eat. Like, yesterday.
So Thing G offers him a piece of gum to tide him over. Well, the gum is declined. Not rudely, but not exactly with politeness either. Thing G being the Thing G he is, is happy to accept the decline of his offer, but wants to explain why he offered the gum. His uncle doesn’t want any part of hearing it. He turns to the kid and just shouts, “NO!”
And that’s when my hackles go up.
Don’t talk to my kid like that, mother f**ker! (Only I don’t say that out loud.)
What I do say is, “Whoa, how about no thank you?”
I take Thing G by the hand, who is still trying to explain…
His uncle says, “I’m just hungry!”
I reply, “I understand that, but don’t take it out on us.”
So I hold Thing G back a moment as his uncle keeps walking.
Thing G says, “I just want to explain why I offered the gum.”
I got close to his face and said, “Let it go, bud. He doesn’t want to hear it. But you can tell me instead.”
By this time YBW has caught up to us, I signal to him that I’ve got it.
Thing G explains that sometimes when he’s hungry, chewing a piece of gum will tied him over until he can eat.
Makes a kind of sense.

I’m freaking livid.
Don’t you talk to my kid like that. I don’t give a damn if you’re hangry or not.
But I calm my heart and take Thing G’s hand and we go down the stairs together.

Meanwhile, YBW’s brother has eaten and has returned his normal likable self. So instead of letting this eat me up inside, I let it go. I protected the kid when he needed back up and he’s safe so I can retreat from momma-lioness mode. And we talk and joke and move on about our day.

A bit later, YBW comes to me and says, “Thanks for defending my kid.”
I look him in his eyes and say, “He’s my kid too. But, you’re welcome.”
Thing G sees this. He has a little smile on his lips as he takes his next bite.

Now, I ride that kid hard, and sometimes we don’t see eye to eye.
But I will cut you before I let you be unkind to that kid, or treat him with disrespect.
I love him.
He is part of my brood. Therefore under my protection. Now, I might kick his ass, but I’ll go down swinging before I let somebody else do it.

Of course, Thing G will eventually need to learn that he won’t always be able to express his own point of view. He’ll have to figure out how to accept that and function through it. He’s grown so much in the last four years. And I don’t just mean he’s now taller than me. I mean he’s beginning to advocate for himself. He’s beginning to show how capable he can be. He’s beginning to figure out his place in the world. This is trick for any seventeen year old, but especially so for one with his diagnosis.
But Thing G isn’t his diagnosis. It’s taken his family quite some time to really understand and accept that. It’s taken him a bit longer to understand and accept that. He’s a work in progress. (Like every single one of the rest of us.)

When it comes to the children in my brood (however grown), listen well. All of you.
I am the Mistress of All Evil and I. Will. Cut. You.

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pinball machine thoughts

I’ve been sick since we got home from NYC. Is it allergies? Is it a virus? I don’t know, but there is enough mucus for several people sloshing around in my head.
The coughing is even worse. Because after two babies my pelvic floor isn’t what it used to be and I’ve had more “accidents” in the last two weeks than when I was a toddler.
TMI?
My apologies.
I’m just keeping it real here in my nest.

I still haven’t gone through the photos I took in New York. I mean I moved them from the camera to the computer, but there they sit. No edits. Nothing in my ‘to be printed’ folder. I’m either really taking my time or I’m just not up to it. Either way, I’m about to have loads of time on my hands. Only eight more days of school (including this day).

We did have a lovely time. We walked everywhere! All the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge, half-way across, and back.
We ate delicious food. Drank good wine and spirits. People watched in Washington Square Park. And even got shouted at by a creepy homeless guy.

Vintage shops were a disappointment.
But the bookshops were not!
At Strand (18 miles of books, don’tcha know) I found some very cool used books, a brand new one I’m pretty excited about, and bought my very first Moleskine notebook à la Dash and Lily. Only mine is navy instead of red.
At Books of Wonder I drooled over the books in the rare collection. (22K for a first ed. of Where the Wild Things Are signed by Maurice Sendak with a Wild Thing doodle.)
I spent a goodly bit of time choosing a couple books I couldn’t leave without. If I still had a preschool classroom I would have bought more. There were (are) so many books to use as the jumping off point for lesson plans!

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the Thing 2 situation. We still haven’t spoken, though we have exchanged texts. I’m not sure how I can help her in her journey. I’m not sure it’s my place to help her at this point. I do know that “getting yourself together” shouldn’t be a reason not to be together.
I wonder if children have any idea how hurtful the things they do really are. I believe they know instinctively that nothing will make a mother stop loving her child…but I wonder if they understand that one can only bend so long before there is irreparable damage. I wonder this because I don’t know the answers. I wonder this because I know I hurt my mother in my growing up.
It’s hard for an adult child to believe her mom is still protective of her “baby”. That makes sense to me. Only, Thing 1 and I have come to a new place in our relationship. One of mutual love and respect as adults, with a bit of “I need my Mommy” and “I want to protect my baby” sprinkled on top.
A mother’s love has many forms. Looks many ways. Is unpredictable yet constant. That will never change. But it doesn’t mean a child’s words and actions aren’t hurtful. I think even adult children don’t understand that their parents are just human and get their feelings hurt. That realization didn’t really resonate in me until I became a mother.
I don’t know. I love that little girl (yeah, she’s my “little girl” even though she’s about to celebrate her twentieth birthday) but I feel like this must be one of those times of ebb in the great ebb and flow of our love in this life. I hope the tide changes. It hurts more than I ever expected it would.

In the category of ‘getting yourself together’ I’m working on that too. Starting back to school after a three month term break.

Nah, it’s cool. Two more terms and I can wash my hands of this foolishness. Not that a degree is foolish…just I’m so over it. It’s taken much longer than I’d expected and I don’t want to be in this degree program anymore. Only it’s too late to switch to anything else without more courses…
I feel a bit like Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls. “Stick with me baby I’m the fellow you came in with.” Only it’s not luck…it’s a degree plan.
Whatever. At this point it’s fulfilling a commitment to myself and a means to an end to move into a M.Ed or MSW program.

It seems my thoughts are bouncing around in my head like a pinball today.
You know what? That’s OK.
Let ’em bang around bouncing off each other for a little while.
It might be a great way to start the summer.

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twenty three years

Today is Thing 1’s birthday. She’s twenty three. Older than I was when she was born.
I find it hard to believe it’s been twenty three years since I first clapped eyes on her. The time has gone by in only a moment! Yet I feel like I’ve been her mom since the dawn of time. (in the best possible way)
We had some rough times. Times I never expected to recover from.
We had beautiful times that I wish I could somehow bottle, open up and swim around in once again.

She wrote to me earlier this week, “I miss us.” in response to the resurfacing of something her sister said years ago. A moment in time when the three of us were an unstoppable unit of girl power and giggles. A mom and her two girls just living and loving and laughing together.
I miss us too.
But even though I miss us, I know that I raised two very strong willed and independently minded young women. I know I did my job providing the best possible foundation for them to continue to build their lives. I know that power resides in them and they’re going to use it to the best of their abilities when they set themselves to it. I know the natural course of life is for them to create nests of their own. They don’t need to be in my nest anymore, they can create their own, and they can live and love and laugh as women.
I am proud of who they are.
I’m just a bit sad that we’re no longer “us”.
Both of these are OK.

Thing 1 was the human personification of every hope and dream I ever had. Yet she exceeds them. She challenged me every step of the way. But I realize now, she was meant to do. She is who she is to help me become who I am supposed to be.
She will call me to tell me to goofiest things. She will ask for advice. She was the one who most encouraged my decision to return to therapy. She reminds me that I wasn’t always “sick” and that I’ll get through this and will come out the other side better off.
There are times when I want to “kick her in the face”. There are times I want to hold her close and whisper sweet things to her. I think that’s only natural.

We’ve lived through twenty three years of some of the best and worst things I’ve ever experienced. But here’s the deal, they made us “us” and I choose to celebrate that.
She recently posted this photo on social media. I was moved to tears. All the hard work, and all the love, and all the laughter, and all the pain, and all the silliness created this Momma and this daughter. And it means something just as powerful to her.
daughter-crown
Woo Hoo! Birthday Birthday! Happiest day to you, Bear! I love you more than the whole wide world.

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expectations or “I’m a big tough girl, I tie my own sandals and everything”

I guess it’s that time of year, but I also believe it’s so much more than that too. I believe the universe is speaking to me and I need to take some serious heed.
I’m talking about expectations.

YBW and I had a conversation Sunday about expectations. I got an email this morning from a friend about expectations for his life in the coming year. My last visit to my therapist was a conversation about expectations.
This little red haired girl has been considering expectations for as long as I can remember. But at this time, I think it’s all about my own expectations.

My brain edema really put certain things into perspective for me. I was forced to make life changes I’d been toying with. I was forced to slow my pace. I was forced to slow my compulsion to control everything.
Those were actually quite positive!
Only it left me without any real direction. And for a girl with the desperate need to control what goes on around her, that was worst possible situation in which to be.
I floundered.

But later…
I started my lula business.
I started a new part time job with the county schools. I was offered a second part time position based on my skill set and how much I’m appreciated by the administration.
I began writing more.
I even got my ass in gear when it came to my degree program.

What are my expectations for how I’ll earn money?
I’m working at prioritizing these things. I’m considering how to move forward with some but not all of these things.
YBW is talking more and more about how great I am with children. How happy I seem when I’m talking with and working with children. He’s always impressed when children come up to me in Wegmans or Target and start talking to me, “You’re at my school!” “I see you at lunch!” “You’re in the classroom now.”
YBW remarks how much impact I have on these children simply by being in the same building with them each day.
He’s got a point. All I ever wanted to do was be a mommy and a teacher.

Which brings me to my expectations for how I can be a mom to far away children and children that aren’t really mine.
This is the thing that is killing me every single day. Sometimes softly and silently, sometimes with a Rebel Yell and the cries of the dying.
I’m not exactly sure how to write about this…but mostly I’m thinking this is for journaling and not for blogging.

Expectations for marriage are tricky.
I have nothing really to base them on. But I know what I want and what I don’t want. Mostly I want to be on the same page as YBW. I’ve struggled with the feeling that while we’re in the same book, we may not in the same chapter. I suspect that is my perception, more than anything. But it is a nagging feeling I can’t seem to shake. So through conversations, some simple, some fairly painful, we talk about where we are. Where we want to be. How we might get there.
We charged each other to get very clear about our expectations. We set a date to come together with these clear expectations and compare.

I’ve spent my life worrying about other people’s expectations of me. Some of these were so ridiculously out of reach I’ve felt a failure for most of my adult life. But I developed a few of my own, and guess what? I met them. Know why? Because they were realistic and I am capable.
My most accomplished expectations are for the way I was (and continue to be) a mom. I look at those girls, as flawed as they are (because, let’s be real, who isn’t?), and I know I met my expectations for being their mom. I taught them how to love, how to fail, how to be successful. I taught them sarcasm and that it’s perfectly acceptable to express yourself. I taught them to fight for what they believe in. I taught them that I’ll have their back. I taught them that even the most overbearing mothers can learn from their children. But for me, the most important expectation of all was that I got joy from being a mom. Those girls have given me so much joy and I embraced it and lived in it!
I am a better mom than my mom was. I’ve met most all of my expectation I had of myself when it came to being a mom.
And for the most part, they’ve met my expectations for them. They’re smart. They’re capable. They have compassion. They love fiercely. They have goals. They experience the good and bad and have the skills to come out the other side more aware.
Honestly, what more could I ask for?

Now I’m going to create new expectations for myself.
It frightens me to ask the question, “What do I want?” and to actually answer it.
But I’ve got this!
Like Megara, I’m a big tough girl. I tie my own sandals and everything.
meg-and-hercules

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“You were always a pretty badass mom.”

Sometimes when things are absolute shit, something lovely occurs to spark a little hope in your heart. This happened to me in the form of a text conversation with my own Thing 1.
We were talking about the little boy she nannys for after she sent me a snapchat of him dressed as Batman and generally being kind of adorable. He’ll be two in November.

Thing 1:
He has started holding actual conversations. It’s so cute.
Me:
Oh that’s the BEST!!
Thing 1:
It makes me want five kids.
(then we talked about education for a bit)
Thing 1: That’s cool. I’ll probably look into good schools before I make a final decision. I mean I have all the time in the world.
Me:
Either you’ll be a mom or you won’t. Either way as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters. And if you are a mom, you’ll be that much better at it than I was!!
Thing 1:
I doubt that. You were always a pretty badass mom.
(After everything we’ve been through, that made my heart take flight!)
Me:
Aww! Thanks, bear!! But I’m a better mom than Grandmommy was. You’ll be a better mom than I was. Your (maybe?) girl(s) will be better mom(s) than you…does that make sense kinda?
Thing 1:
Hahaha I don’t know how you think I could be better than you. That’s just crazy talk.
Me:
Thank you for saying I was a badass mom. I often times feel like I failed you. All I ever wanted to do was be your mom. I’m glad the bigger percentage was good for you.
Thing 1:
Hey, if anybody got failed parenting, it’s Thing 2, but I’ve kinda said that from the beginning. Ever since she almost died, I think you were afraid of her mortality and it made you really really soft on her. And of course, Dad was no help to either of us.
Me:
I’m sorry your dad isn’t a better parent. I do believe he loves you.
Thing 2 was an eyeopener for me. She deserves better, but I can’t fix what’s past and I can’t help her now. She’ll have to come out of it on her own with just our love to help her.
Thing 1:
I know he does in his own weird little way. I just have to make a serious effort to keep from getting irritated with him most of the time.
Yeah, pretty much. She’ll figure it out. Eventually.
Me:
I don’t know if you truly know how much it pleases my heart that you and I found our way back to each other. You, my very first girl. My own sweet love. You were always your daddy’s…but I got to love you too.
Thing 1:
I’m very glad we did too. It makes me so happy that I can talk to my mom without fighting with her.
Me:
Oh, me too Bea!! Me too!!
I know it was crap! In my defense, I was scared and miserable most of my adult life. I was raised by a woman who loved me but wasn’t real. I didn’t know how to do it…I just learned as I went. I wanted you to be strong and independent. And guess what!?! You ARE!! I’m proud of who you are.
screenshot_2016-09-28-11-56-12-2
Me:
Shit, some days I’m like, am I even a real grown up? Seriously! Even after all this time and practice.
Thing 1:
I know. I just have to find that perfect balance between adult and kid at heart.
Me:
You will…you’ve only been an adult for a hot second.
(We talked a few more moments and then ended our conversation.)

That girl is the human embodiment of every hope and dream I’d had since I was a little girl.
We lost our way. Turned our backs on each other in the most cruel and horrific ways. But time heals all wounds. Time and distance. And perspective.
I think she understands that all I ever wanted for her was to have the best foundation upon which to build her life. Sure, I went about it poorly on occasion…but I didn’t know how to be a mom. Do any of us know how to be parents? We know we must keep our children healthy and safe from harm…that’s instinctual. And it’s the easy part! The tricky part is navigating everything else! Parents are bound to bugger it up…we have no choice. We’re flying by the seat of our pants trying to hold onto this kid while we’re doing it. It doesn’t matter how many parenting books you read, you’re never truly prepared. So you cross your fingers and follow your instincts and if you’re very lucky, you parent with another human being that thinks the way you do.
My girls didn’t always have the best grades.
Thing 1 dropped out of college.
Thing 2 left high school to get her GED and hasn’t yet gone to college.
But you know what? My girls are strong and capable young women who stand a real chance in this world. They’re not waiting around for some man to come take care of them. They’re going to make it their own way. The best they can.
That’s more than some parents can say about their kids.
Both my girls have discussed going back to school. This pleases me simply because they’ll have a better chance of being properly employed with degrees. They’ll make more money with degrees. Money isn’t everything…but it keeps you from being hungry, and homeless. And having a bit of extra money keeps books on your shelves and shoes on your feet. My girls need that.

My life has been a mess of hotness lately. Between my own personal struggles and the struggles in my relationship with YBW, I’ve been feeling awful about my life. About my ability to ‘adult’. About my ability to parent. About my ability to be in a relationship. About my ability to be a “stepmother” to two partially grown young men.
Thing 1 gave me hope this morning.
I am a badass mom! And, perhaps that means I’m kind of a badass woman. And if I’m a badass mom and a badass woman, perhaps I’ll be able to sort my struggles and come out the other side with my badassness intact and been able to learn another important lesson.
I’m crossing my fingers as I fly by the seat of my pants.

Categories: love, me, on being a mom, peace and wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

back to school rant

I find myself wondering why certain people simply cannot be positive.
I mean, sure we all have those moments when we feel negative. When we’re at the end of our ability to give one more teeny tiny damn about whatever it is.
But I’m talking about people who are actively negative. Do they lack hope? Are they not skilled in observing the positive in any thing?
Imagine what their inner speech sounds like! Imagine what they heard as children…what they continue to tell themselves as adults. Why, it breaks my heart! What is it like to be inside that head with no idea of how to hope?
Honestly, it breaks my heart.
But it also makes me angry.
It makes angry because these negative people inflict the same things on their own children. The first thing that comes to mind is negative. Hope is a foreign concept.
I’m talking big broad concepts this morning, I know…but I’m angry.

I checked social media this morning to see all the “back to school” posts and photos. Kids I taught when they toddlers are in high school now. Kids I taught when they were toddlers are in kindergarten now. Kids I’ve known since they were toddlers starting college now!
I have so much joy seeing these photos! I have so much hope for these children!

And then I come across a post that made me want to kick someone in the face.
A post of our own Thing G starting his junior year posted by his mother. Who couldn’t put a positive spin on anything if a gun was held to her head. She has a knack for posting things to get positive feedback. When I read her posts,I’m often thankful that I know I’m enough. That I know my own worth even on days when I don’t feel it. I don’t need people to boost my self confidence.
This morning, I saw a photo of YBW’s baby captioned with the saddest bunch of drama you’ve ever seen. Words written with designs on having comments to boost the mother’s confidence and nothing about the child. The words she wrote focused on his diagnosis. Focused on the most negative aspects of his personality. Under the guise of her “being hopeful” his teachers would see his good traits as apposed to these negative ones.

I was so angry. How dare she use him like that to get attention?
I just want to shake her and say:
How about YOU see your child for his good traits!?!
How about YOU focus on what he is capable of doing!?!
How about YOU have a little faith and trust!?!
How about YOU stop putting YOUR stuff on a child that has enough on him already!?!

I’ve posted stuff about my children on social media for years. First day of school pics included. I’m sure that I’ve posted things that may be questionable. But I guarantee I’ve not done it with negativity. I guarantee I’ve not done it to get more attention.
Parents are proud. We live in an age where it’s no longer photos in your wallet that you bring out and pass around. We’re posting on social media, we’re sharing photos online. I mean come on! We’re even creating hashtags for events! Parents are proud to share their accomplishments, and the accomplishments of their children. I love sharing things about my girls.
I worry about motivation. I worry about how what you say and post online will be forever out there. I worry that one day a child will read what a parent writes and hear nothing but negativity. I worry the child will further internalize that.

I’m angry because it’s so not fair!
Children deserve better.
Parents deserve better.
And people who are exposed to you on social media deserve better.
It’s the first day of school, for the love of all things holy! How about a little hope!?! I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Rant over. Please continue with your regularly scheduled reading.

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*sips fruit salad*

Thing 1 posted this on my facebook this week.
I was amused.
fb_img_1471553142543.jpg
Then I got to thinking…did I drink too much when the girls were growing up?
Am I a bad mom?
Am I a bad example?
I’ve decided to answer all three of these questions with a nopity nope.
I am an excellent mom. Playful and sincere, with loads of important life lessons.
Of course, I’ve had phone calls or text messages from each of them at one time or another asking me for my Cosmopolitan recipe.
Hmm…perhaps I’m not the best mom after all…
Meh, I’ll just have another sip of my fruit salad and decide not to worry about it.

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my defining moment as a frog in cold water

Acute stress feels like it will crush you where you stand.
I promise you it won’t. Your fight or flight instinct will kick in and save you. Acute stress feels overwhelming and most of us would do anything to get away from it. But, acute stress won’t kill, no matter how much you believe it might.
Chronic stress is what will kill you.
Chronic stress is like putting a frog in a pot of cold water and then slowly turning up the heat. The frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until it’s already boiling! That’s when one of two things happens. Fight or flight kicks in to save you, or you just die.

I’m an expert in chronic stress. I’m that frog in the pot of water. I was lucky enough that my instinct for flight is so strong. It saved my life.
I spent seventeen years with a man who emotionally abused me.
His sabotage so subtle, his manipulation so nuanced, it was poetry of pure unadulterated evil. He brought passive aggression to new and frightening depths. For the most part I was unaware on a conscious level. I went about my daily life feeling anxious without actually realizing it.
Sometimes I would wonder…Why did I require so much sleep? Why did I turn so much of my focus to my children? Why did I feel nauseous when he would come home? But never for long because there would be some sudden kindness and I would smile and believe him when he told me everything was lovely.

But on some level, I did know what was going on. I did know that something was amiss. I focused on my children to be a buffer between him and them so he couldn’t treat them the way he treated me. I presented the picture of the perfect little family to the rest of the world so no one would realize that he was not what he seemed.
I was scared of him. And scared isn’t a big enough word, but I’m honestly too lazy to thesaurus right now. He frightened every fiber of my being. Somehow I knew he’d never lay hands on me. I wasn’t worried about that. I didn’t realize the internal wounds could occasionally be worse.

He used to tell me that I was crazy. That I was certifiable. That they would put me in a straight jacket in the padded cell and that was where I belonged. He told me no judge in his right mind would give the girls to me. I had nothing and I was crazy. He told me that he would take the girls and I would never see them again.
I would have done and would still do anything for my girls. So I stayed with this man.
He read my journals. He read my email.
He even tried to sabotage my friendships…he had to do that carefully because he didn’t want to show his true colors. I was lucky that most of my friendships were strong enough to withstand his tricks.

I was trapped in a hell I helped create.
Every single day of my life I was scared.
Every single day of my life I was anxious.
Every single day of my life I was angry.
I was miserable. My girls were miserable. I was failing at being a mother. I was failing at being a person.
I was the frog in the pot of water suddenly aware that I was boiling!

This was the defining moment.
Would I die in that pot of boiling water?
No! I would save my own life!

The chronic stress was literally killing me. I was dying. I had to do something to preserve my own life.
I told him that I was done. I told him that I was empty and dead inside. I told him that I had nothing left to give. I told him I was leaving because I knew he would never leave.
When I finally left, he acted as though he was surprised. As though I’d never expressed any of my concerns. I didn’t even argue. I just walked away.
That’s when he turned on my girls. He manipulated them. He used them as weapons to hurt me.
That’s the only thing I regret about leaving him…what he did to my babies. You want to hurt me? Come at me directly.
My poor babies had to suffer for me to live.
That doesn’t seem right. But it was how it was.
A dying person is a desperate person.
I had to save my own life.
They’ve moved through that part of their lives. Will they ever heal? I honestly don’t know.
I know the only one who came out unscathed was their father. He has no clue what he’s done…or he doesn’t care. How’s that for crazy?

I was told by friends and family that I was strong. That I was brave. I felt neither. I felt as frightened as I’d ever been. I did what I had to do to stay alive.
It was the hardest thing I ever did, saving my own life. I only wish I’d been strong enough to do it sooner. Of course, the frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until the water comes to a boil…

I’m writing about this because of a conversation I had with my friend Nora last night, and a conversation I had with my sister in law today. Nora and I talked of relationships and life and celebs and sports stars we’d like to have our way with. We talked of previous lives and choices we make. We discussed “winning” at divorce. (When your life is better than it was before AND better than your ex’s current life.) We talked about being mothers. We ate pasta and drank a goodly bit of wine. We were “just girls” together, but we talked of important topics.
She’s actually the one who verbalized the frog in water analogy.

This afternoon I had a distressing conversation with my sister in law about her relationship with her children’s father. Apparently their state of chronic stress has escalated to acute and he’s announced he’s leaving. Knowing him as long as I have, I think he’s having a bit of a temper tantrum and it will blow over and they’ll go back to their life of chronic stress.
It is killing my sister in law. Now, there is a fairly decent amount of her stress that has little or nothing to do with him. She has some of her own shit to sort.
I told I knew what she was capable of. I suggested she tap into that deeply rooted power and make a better life for herself.
She expressed her fear.
Fear can ride shotgun, get it out of the driver’s seat. Fear will never drive me again. But it sure as hell likes to go along for the ride. I was scared half to death to make that huge change. Especially considering what impact it had on my children.
She’s not ready to do that hard work. She will eventually have to decide to save her own life or she will die.

I can’t run other people’s lives.
Some days I can barely run my own life. Seems that way lately.
I have stress in my life. But it’s acute stress. It causes an immediate reaction. And though my flight instinct is the strongest, I’m learning to fight. Fight the good fight. Fight for what’s right.

I fought the good fight by flying all those years ago. The fight to save my life. Because I tell you, I was dying. Not metaphorically dying. Actually. Physically. Emotionally. I was actively dying.
I learned the most important lesson about myself by saving my own life.
I learned that I can do anything.

Categories: divorce, loss, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

riding the struggle bus

I had a bad day Monday.
It was the day of: Are you even alive?
I struggled the entire day. In all honestly, I should have gone back to bed and waited for Tuesday.
My friend Nora was quick to offer to come to my rescue, even though there was nothing she could really do to help. She’s good like that. I’m blessed to have her in my life. She’s a wonderful human being and she’s a good, strong, and loving friend.

I got a text message from her a little while ago. It said: Now it’s my turn to ride the struggle bus today.
She shared her struggle and we “breathed together” and she asked one question that I answered with truth and love. I think she’s feeling less anxious, and I know I don’t feel as concerned for her as I did when it started.

All that said, (and this is why she’s so great…she has the same wack-a-doodle sense of humor as me) I freaking LOVE that phrase “ride the struggle bus”. I’m fairly clever with words but have no qualms admitting I’d probably never come up with that phrase.
She was amused that I dig it.
She could see past her anxiety and appreciate the humor in the phrase.

Sometimes you can’t help but ride the struggle bus.
But if you’re really fortunate, you’ll have people in your world that will ride with you…or at least wait for you at the next stop.
That’s when you can stop and breathe together. And hopefully be amused.

Categories: peace and wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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