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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Separating the anger

A few months ago, I wrote a piece about how 15 miles was too far for my son's father to travel to spend time with him. At that point, it had been a year with no contact.

Today would have been 15 months and 5 days, except that I woke up to a text from him.

"I have made mistakes and I no I am wrong. I miss alex like crazy and it is killing me not seeing him. Can I please set up a time to see him. I will pick him up and bring him back and do what ever it takes so that I can see him again on a regular basis." 

I knew for a fact that I was dreaming so I rolled back over and went back to sleep for another 30 minutes or so. When I woke up again, I looked at my phone a second time. And then a third. I put it back down on the nightstand and stared at the ceiling for a while. Looked at it again. Got up and went to the bathroom to make sure that I was really awake and then looked at it again.

Then the anger started to build. It simmered for a while and I considered sending back an extremely nasty text including everything that I was really honestly feeling at that particular moment, but I held back. I knew I had to calm down. A lot. I texted The Dude and clued him in, and he was as angry as I was.

Finally, I responded a few hours later.

"I woke up to this and I've been trying to figure out how to respond ever since. I told you the last time you walked out of his life and then suddenly reappeared that it would never happen again - and that time was only 4 months. Now, it's been 15 months and 5 days.  There is no excuse. There is no way to make up for that. Being a parent is a 24/7 job to ALL of your kids, not just the ones who are convenient to you. Coming into town for softball games and to go to the pool and not contacting him is beyond despicable. Not calling him, or sending a text, or being at any of his school or sports events is unforgivable. Lying to your family and blaming all of this on me? Grow up. And you're not going to just waltz back in and pick up where you chose to leave off over a year ago."

(Yeah, I tend to get a little long-winded when I'm angry.)

Discussion (via text) ensued and lasted most of the day. I tried hard to contain my anger and sarcasm (except where I pointed out that even if one is working "out of town", there's a nifty invention called a 'phone' that can be used to maintain contact)  as much as I could, but it was hard.

Finally this evening, The Dude came over to take Daniel to baseball practice. The older 3 kids are still on vacation with Ex1, so Alex and I sat down to talk. I told him that I had gotten a text from his father this morning, and gave him the basic rundown of the discussion.

I did not say anything nasty about his father. I did not say anything hateful or mean or even snarky. I gave him the facts. We talked. We discussed. I listened.

And then I told him this:

"How I feel about your father is totally separate from how you feel about him. I'm upset with him for a lot of grown up stuff that has more to do with responsibility and obligations. But that's my problem with him, not yours. You can feel however you want to feel, and that's ok - if you want to see him, I will make it happen. And if you don't, you don't have to."

You know, I think this is the hardest part of this single parenting thing. And I don't think that I truly got it until today. And I think that there are a lot of parents out there who don't get it.

It doesn't matter how we feel about the other parent. It really doesn't. It's not about us.

It's about the kids.

Should Alex choose to see his father again (and he probably will), I have to completely put my anger and resentment aside and make it happen. His father is not a bad person in the grand scheme of things. Irresponsible, yes. Not good at setting priorities? You betcha'. Bad person? Not so much.

Alex is still at that age where no matter what, his father walks on water. He knows that his father hasn't been around, but he's still young enough that he just wants to see him. I know that as he gets older, he'll understand more about what's happened - but for now, he has his eye on the prize and as much as I hate it, I have to allow him to make the choice. My only consolation is that no matter what happens, I know for a fact that I'll never walk away from this kid. Ever.

After our talk, we got ice cream and went for a walk by the river.
Believe it or not, there's a dam under all of that water.
Stupid rain.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

One of those days....

Today has just not been fun. Seriously.

It took me a while to even get motivated, but once I did I finally started working on my shower some more. Luckily, the tile on this wall doesn't have to be cut to size at all, so it went fairly fast once I got started. But, getting all of the tile work done is going to take forever and at this point, I just want it to be done. I want my shower back. But of course, once I get the shower done, we have to redo the floor - it's a neverending battle at this point.

(And in case you're wondering about the crazy tile - the light blue tile is what was in there originally. I pulled that off, and I'm putting it back. However, some broke in the process and we couldn't find the same lovely shade of baby blue. So we bought a couple of boxes of white to mix in with the blue. Rather than try to make a perfect pattern, I just opted to go with a random one.)

Once I decided I was done working on the shower for the day (as in - once I ran out of the mortar I had mixed) it was time to run to the grocery store for a few things. Right about then my phone rang, and I had to run and pick up a "sick" kid from school. I say "sick" - I think I got snowed on that one. Live and learn. We went to the grocery store, got what we needed, ran through the carwash and came home.

Once the other kids got home, the chaos just escalated - and boy, did it escalate.

Crappy attitudes. Temper tantrums. Whining. Fighting. Arguing. Slamming doors. Neighbor kids coming over to play and doing stupid stuff so that I had to yell at them too. Constant yells of "Mom!! I need _____!!" or "Mom! He said _____!" or "Mom! She _______!" One kid flipping another kid the bird. One falling off of a bed (after jumping on it) and getting hurt. Vomit. Weird bug crawling across the dining room floor.

Nights like this get to me. I know that they happen, and I know that they're inevitable, but holy crap do they make me feel completely and totally inadequate. I count down the minutes until bedtime, and I feel guilty because I'm not all mushy-gushy and "oh I love my kids so much and every minute is precious and rainbows and unicorns and happy happy yay!!"

Instead, it's "holy hell it's only 30 minutes until bedtime and then it'll be quiet and then all I have to do is get through the morning and get them to school and then I can get stuff done".

A big part of it is stress. The next few days are absolutely jam-packed with stuff, from track meets to a field trip to choir concerts to baseball practice to The Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis to the half-marathon, and I have no adult backup at all because The Dude is going to be out of town. I'm worried about making it to everything and attempting to stay sane, and then worrying about whether or not the house is still going to be standing if I leave the kids on their own Sunday morning while I go to my race.

For now though, I'm just going to chill. It's been a crappy night, yes. But it's not the end of the world. It happens. Instead of freaking out, I'm going to enjoy a glass of wine and some "baby oranges" (in a very worn and nasty looking - but clean - bowl) and listen to some music and play around online, and then I'm going to go to bed knowing that tomorrow is another day. And with any luck, it'll go smoother than today did.

Awesomeness. Lots of it.

The past few days have been crazy insane, but in such a good way.

I went to Oklahoma City and ran a (slightly more than) 5K leg of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon on Sunday. It was an amazing experience. The marathon itself is a fundraiser for the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum that honors the victims of the bombing there 20 years ago. With over 25,000 runners, this was by far the biggest race that I've ever participated in, and it was incredible.

 I ran faster than I've ever run before, and amazed myself with what I accomplished that day. I ended my leg of the run with a smile on my face, and didn't stop smiling for the rest of the day.

But more on that later....

I got a ton of stuff done outside today. I mowed the grass (always a huge job), finished weeding the huge front flower bed, got some more flowers planted, watered stuff, got some more seedlings transferred out to the garden (hopefully these actually, you know, survive), planted some more flowers, watered stuff....you get the idea.

Baseball season officially started tonight for Daniel. We rode our bikes up to the practice field and on our way back, we got to see some wildlife that we don't get to see very often - at least not sitting still.

But probably the best part of the last few days....

Remember that memorial quilt that I was working on? It was for my friend's mother-in-law, whose husband passed away in January. I was given a bunch of his work shirts and pants to use to make a quilt. My friend gave me a basic pattern idea, we talked about various details, but for the most part I designed it as I went along. I was terrified that the mother-in-law wasn't going to like it.

After we got done running the race in OKC, my team and I went out to eat. We were sitting in the rocking chairs in front of a Cracker Barrel, waiting for our table, and I scrolled through my facebook newsfeed. There I saw it - my friend's post with pictures of her mother-in-law seeing the quilt for the first time. It was all I could do not to burst into tears right then and there.

Right there. It just doesn't get any better than that.


I know I've been nagging on my facebook page, but I'm going to do it here too just in case you missed it. This coming Saturday is the Great Strides Walk for Cystic Fibrosis. I am participating in that to raise money for research for a cure for this horrible disease that directly affects our family. If you would like to make a contribution, you can do that here.

But wait! There's more!

In order to encourage people to donate, I've agreed to do a couple of things.

For $1000, I will dye my hair purple (not the wash-out kind, either) AND I will get rid of my ugly rainbow-colored crocs that everyone loves to hate.

Seriously though - please help if you can. It would mean so much to me.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Could be worse....

Could be worse.

Those three words have been a sort of mantra for me for many years now. Funny thing is that it started as a joke on my first date with Ex1, because we thought we were going to see a country band and it turned out that we were wrong and it was some weird 50's band - but we decided that it "could be worse" and went with it.

Funny.....in so many ways. But I won't go there.

Today though. Today was a day.

It started out with my "low tire pressure" light coming on in the van. I didn't think much of it because I knew that I had a slow leak in one of my back tires. I went to the gas station, put some air in it, thought that it was odd that it wasn't really low enough for the indicator to come on, and continued on my merry way - about 30 miles.

I met up with a friend to go running, and when we were done, she looked at my van and said "um, you have a leak". I looked, and sure enough, my other back tire was almost flat. She followed me to a gas station where I aired it up, and then I stopped at another friend's house to pick up a sander, and then I went to the closest WalHell to get both back tires repaired.

As it turned out, neither tire could be repaired. The one that had the slow leak had a nail jammed in it too close to the sidewall, and the one that was almost flat this morning?

Ha. Yeah. Not sure what it is, but it's metal and it destroyed my tire.

I kept it as a souvenir, because I realized quickly that I was lucky to have driven as far as I did with that thing in my tire. I'm lucky that the tire didn't blow. I'm lucky that I didn't get a flat while out in the middle of nowhere with the kids.

Could be worse.

While I was waiting for them to replace both tires, the lady behind the counter and I chatted a bit. She made a comment about me being lucky, and I agreed as I was checking my credit card balances and doing mental math to figure out the best way to pay for the new ones. Then she said something that - I swear - it was like she was in my head.

"You're lucky that you can afford to replace both of them on the spur of the moment."

I looked at her and said "you know, a couple of years ago, you would have been scraping me off of the floor if you had told me that I had to replace two tires, because I couldn't have done it. I wasn't prepared to spend the money today, but I'm so grateful that I can even it it means things are going to be tight for a few weeks."

Seriously. I sat there, holding that piece of metal in my hand, flipping it over and over again, and instead of being angry or upset about it, I was grateful.

Could be worse.

Tonight..... we had Scouts. We left the house early (with our two shiny new tires) and got stuck by trains and/or malfunctioning railroad crossings 5 times. FIVE TIMES. It was insane. We ended up being about 10 minutes late for the meeting, but we got there. The boys all went outside to play while the adults took care of some business, and long story short - a window on the church got broken.

There were several boys - including mine - who were involved. There was chaos and panic and disorder and finger pointing and drama, but in the end, other than a slight bump on one head there were no injuries. It turned out to only be a storm window, and not one of the 100+ year old stained glass windows. There will be consequences and punishments for all of the boys involved, but in the end, they were all ok. Damage was minimal. A major learning experience was had.

Could be worse.

I seriously think that I'm going to take this piece of metal, drill a hole through it, and turn it into a key chain that I can keep with me all the time, just to remind me.

Could be worse.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Keyboard Warriors

So last night, that silly Tooth Fairy letter resurfaced in a really big way. A page on facebook with almost 4 million fans posted it, but of course - without the backstory. Without a link back to my page or my blog. Without my permission.

It happens all the time. All the time. I should be used to it by now, and for the most part I do ignore it. I'll read a few comments, throw the link to my blog up there, and let it go.

This time was different. This time, the comments were mean. Hateful. Judgmental. Way worse than usual. Sure, there were a few positive ones, but they were quickly buried under the ones touting my inept parenting skills.

Of course, since the letter wasn't credited to me, people didn't know who they were insulting. They sat there behind their keyboards, casting stones at someone who wrote a letter to an 11 year old girl as a joke. Even after they read the blog post, they continued.

Emotional violence. She should be ashamed. What a horrible mother. That woman doesn't even deserve to have her kids. She should take parenting classes.

The ones that hurt the most were the ones who insinuated that I was a horrible person for raising my kids in a broken home:

(This thread of comments on the post has since been deleted. I think.)

Broken home. No father figure.

The last thing that I ever wanted was for my family to not be "normal" with a mother and father and kids. I never planned to get divorced, and certainly didn't plan to do it twice. I fought like hell to keep it together, to keep it from being broken, and so I stayed.

But staying wasn't worth it. Staying wasn't safe, for me or for the kids. We had to get out. I had to "break" our home in order to keep them safe. I had to get them away from the violence.

Yes, we lived in an "icky" house for 3 1/2 years. But that icky house meant more to me than just about any other place we've lived. I learned more about myself in that house than ever before.

I know that the hate and the judgment and the Mommy Wars will never stop. As long as there is an internet, there will be keyboard warriors who get their panties in a wad and think that they are better than everyone else and believe that they are entitled to pass judgment on other people without knowing the background. It's never going to stop.

I tell my kids all the time - you can't stop other people from being jerks, but you can certainly control your own reaction to it.

Same thing applies to adults. Don't feed into the anger or the hate or the judgment - it's not worth it.

Sometimes I need to remind myself of the same thing.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

March Madness

So apparently there was some basketball game on today. And I guess that there were a couple of teams from Kansas playing against each other. People seem to think that it's a pretty big deal.

I missed it. But I'm not upset about it at all.

Because if I would have sat in front of a TV all afternoon to watch a game, I would have missed out on a lot of other stuff.

The smell of a load of laundry hung outside on the line to dry in the breeze.....

Watching the boys playing made up games out in the yard for hours upon hours....

Finding little hidden gems around the yard - they might  be weeds, but they're still beautiful.

The first bouquet of the season, picked just for you, Mom!!!

The gorgeous sky.

The excitement as the boys discovered yet another crystalline rock in the yard....

Seeing the first blooms on the flowers that I planted last year....

I wouldn't have gotten more of the garden area tilled....

I wouldn't have heard the birds chirping in the trees that are just starting to bud...

I would have missed the sunset....

I would have missed the sheer joy on the boys' faces as they sat around the firepit after they got baths.

I would have missed the first glimpse of the moon.

And I would have missed the opportunity to make a wish on the first star of the evening.

So, no. I'm not too terribly upset that I missed a basketball game. 

Thursday, March 19, 2015

On Sweatpants and Divorce

Sometimes, I really wish that those stupid "trending topics" on Facebook wouldn't catch my eye - but unfortunately they always do. Occasionally, there will actually be something interesting or informative or even amusing there, but most of the time I'm amazed at what people consider important enough to share so often that it starts to trend.

I'm not a reality show fan. I don't follow the lives of many celebrities. I'm not a very political person (much to The Dude's dismay). Gossip doesn't really impress me. You get the idea.

But today...... today, this one just won't go away.

The first time I saw it, I thought "what the......?" and ignored it. But it stayed there, taunting me.

So, I in my sweatpants-wearing glory, clicked on it and read the article. Honestly, I have no clue who Eva Mendes is, although I gathered from the article that she is the girlfriend of Ryan Gosling (and I do know who he is) and she has a baby who is apparently still rather young.

I read the article several times, and honestly, I can't tell if she was joking by what she said. “You can’t do sweatpants… ladies, number one cause of divorce in America, sweatpants, no!”

I hope she was joking. I really do. And I really hope that she clarifies that she was joking.

I've been through two divorces, and I can guarantee you that my love for sweatpants had nothing to do with either one. Out of my friends and family members who have gone through divorces, none of them mentioned sweatpants as a cause.

Domestic violence is a cause of divorce. Infidelity. Financial stress. Not prioritizing what needs to be prioritized. Lack of communication.Addiction. You know, important stuff.

But a woman choosing to wear sweatpants as the sole reason for a divorce? Seriously?

Maybe she wears them because they're *gasp* comfortable. Or maybe because it's laundry day and they're the only thing clean. Maybe her jeans are a little tight because she's put on a few pounds (as most humans do at some point in their lives) or hasn't quite lost all of the baby weight yet. Maybe she doesn't have a ton of spare time to do laundry and is saving her cute jeans for when she plans to leave the house to run errands tomorrow. Maybe she just wants to wear sweats because they're comfortable and she doesn't have to worry about whether or not they get dirty when she's working around the house.

And maybe she's doesn't give a rat's ass about what other people think about what she wears.