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Friday, March 25, 2016


Ever since I became a parent, I've had to juggle.

Schedules. Transportation. Money. Priorities. Childcare.

When I became a single parent, I had to add holidays to that list.

Ex1 and I split just before Thanksgiving, so we immediately had to decide who got the kids for the holiday and who got to spend the day alone. Then Christmas, then New Years....on and on it went until all of the paperwork was signed and dated and we got into a routine.

Even when we did have a routine, things always changed. He has local family and I don't - so I've always tried to be flexible so that the kids didn't miss holiday celebrations with their extended families. Then other kids came along, and ultimately other schedules - and for me, trying to keep all of my kids together for holidays became a huge juggling act no matter what day we actually celebrated whatever holiday it was.

I admit that I tried to be difficult about it at times. Sometimes I got my way, and sometimes I didn't. But somehow I always managed to squeeze some sort of holiday celebration into whatever time the 6 of us had together.

Yesterday, The Dude and I had to make another crazy road trip to Kansas City, and at some point during the drive it suddenly dawned on me that Easter is this weekend. EASTER IS THIS WEEKEND. How did that happen?

My brain went into overdrive while I tried to figure out how to make Easter happen within the walls of the house since it was obviously going to happen in the real world no matter what. I already know that I have no chance of having the older 3 kids at all during the weekend because Ex1 and his wife are returning from a weeklong missions trip out of the country and her parents are in town, so they're going to want the kids. Alex's father already made plans to take him for at least a day or two and I'm not going to stand in the way of that. So maybe we can do Easter the following weekend - but I'm running a half-marathon that Saturday, so I'm going to be useless for the rest of the weekend. So maybe we can do it during the week instead and who am I trying to kid because that would just be insane.

Then suddenly it dawned on me......wait a second. Friday. The kids don't have school. They'll all be here until about noonish when the older 3 have to head back to Ex1's.

The solution was as simple as breakfast. We'll have a huge breakfast Friday morning, like a big Good Friday/Easter breakfast, and they can get their Easter baskets and we can be pigs and eat junk all morning and then the older 3 can go where they need to go and we got our time together for the holiday (and then realistically, I don't have to cook a big dinner because we had a big breakfast so I'm actually getting off easy here) and it's all good.

So while I was in the kitchen prepping cinnamon rolls for tomorrow's breakfast feast, Emily teamed up with the Easter Bunny to fill the baskets (including the eggs that we dyed earlier tonight) and then I got the kitchen cleaned up and ready for morning - including loading up the coffee pot so that it's ready to go.

The constant juggling is hard. There have been times when I've felt as though I've had 87 different things up in the air all at once - some of them were on fire, some of them came at me like bricks while others floated around like feathers, some of them crumbled into dust as soon as I touched them, and some of them slammed to the ground and shattered because I didn't have enough hands to catch them all.

I think that the most important thing that I've learned over the past decade+ of single parenting is that no matter what, everything is going to work out in the end. We might not get exactly what we want but sometimes the best gift we can give our kids is to show them that we can be flexible and make the most out of any situation. We might not get our big Easter dinner as a family, but we're going to have a hell of a breakfast together before they go off in different directions.

And then I'm going to sit back with a giant cup of coffee and relax for a little bit. Just because.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Too Close to Home

This came up on my calendar today, and the timing of it couldn't have been better.

If you've been following the news (or my page) you know that there was a mass shooting very close to here just a few days ago.

So close that the cops tore past my house so fast that I couldn't even tell what color the cars were.

So close that I raced around town, picking my kids up from various places to make sure that they were home and safe.

So close that we locked our doors - something that we never do - until we knew for a fact that the shooter acted alone and was down.

So close that I couldn't tear myself away from the media coverage, my eyes searching the crowds on TV, trying to spot anyone that I knew to make sure that they were safe.

So close that one of my acquaintances was among the injured, and I recognized the name of one of those killed.

So close that I had no choice but to explain to my kids what had actually happened.

Too close.  Entirely too close.

The day after the shooting, it was revealed that the shooter had been served a PFA (Protection From Abuse order, AKA a restraining order) about 90 minutes before he went on his rampage. His former girlfriend filed it on him, alleging that he had physically abused her on at least one occasion.

As soon as that information was released, the discussion of domestic violence began. And of course it's impossible not to read the comments when articles like that are posted. And of course the discussions and the resulting comments and arguments and victim blaming brought back all sorts of not-so-fun stuff from my past - and it's been eating me alive for days now.

For the most part, I'm over it. Yes, I was a victim of domestic violence. Yes, it was horrible. But my life doesn't revolve around it. It is a part of my past, but it doesn't define me, because I won't allow it to do that. It's not something that I normally talk about on a daily basis - but every now and then, something brings it back to the surface and it eats at me. I think back to all of the reasons why I stayed for so long, and I relive certain moments and I feel the pain and the heartache all over again. And then I look at where I am now and realize that no matter how bleak things appeared to be at the time, I'm in such a good place now. But it's a constant battle in my head - between remembering the horrible times in the past and appreciating the good ones now.

And I know that as a community, we are strong. We are so incredibly strong. The outpouring of support from surrounding areas has been amazing and humbling. Our little rural area of Kansas has been thrust into the national spotlight, and we are shining through the darkness.

At the same time that all of this was happening, probably even within the same 24-hour period, I found out that not only is one of my friends dying from cancer - but so is another one. I knew about the first one. At least I knew that he was sick, but to receive the news that it had progressed so far so fast hit me like a freight train. The second one? I had no clue. I totally missed the posts about her condition until I went looking for her to ask her a question, and found out that she's dying. The freight train backed up and hit me a second time. Once again, I'm standing here questioning everything. Why do these things happen? Why is it always the good guys? Why can't we all just get along and why can't everyone live long and healthy and happy lives? Why does life have to be so damned hard?

It's been a rough few days, to say the least. I've been forcing myself to go out and run even when I didn't want to - because I know if I don't, I'll just sit here and eat everything and be lazy and be miserable and slide down into that hole that I try so hard to avoid. But luckily I have my Sole Sis/Slave Driver who keeps me going. She keeps forcing me to run, but that's what I need right now - because I know that if I don't get out and run, I'll feel like crap from sitting around like a lump. If I do run, I still feel like crap, but it's a good kind of crap (if that makes any sense at all). And the running is getting easier, and I do feel better - and that helps so much with the mental stuff right now.

One day at a time. One foot in front of the other. That's all that any of us can do. Keep going, don't stop, and eventually we'll get through all of the crap.

At least that's what I keep telling myself.