Thursday, December 8, 2011

It takes a village...

The phrase it takes a village to raise a child has always fascinated me.  Through my journey of adulthood and parenthood, I have realized how true this is.  It isn't because we can't raise our own children, but because there are so many factors outside of your home that will ultimately impact you and your children. 

Over the past few years as our children get older and are becoming more social and independent, it has interested me how the parents communicate (or don't) with each other.  When I was younger, I was not allowed to go to any one's house unless my parents had spoken with theirs.  Of course there were no cell phones so when  you called someones home, you knew they were there.  There was no texting, no email.  You had to speak with someone if you wanted information.

There are days now where I feel it is almost a losing battle to get to know the parents of who my children are hanging out with, socializing with, dating.  Becoming Facebook friends with them does not count.  I don't need to know them intimately but I would like to be able to recognize them in a room.  I would like to have a conversation without feeling as though I am intruding when I ask if they will be home or what time we should arrange a pick-up/drop off.  It is almost as though with our cell phones and text and oh-so important lives now, we are relying on our kids to arrange all the details parents used to.  With that, comes the non-socialization of parents and our kids controlling factors we should be with curfews, where they will be, etc..  I can't even count how many times our children have tried to negotiate arrangements on our behalf and details are either not true or were so much simpler when we directly speak with the other parent.

Additionally, when something does happen when our children are with another child and their parents suspect wrong doing, it is our responsibility to speak with each other.  If we choose to ignore the 'village' support we have and instead use that to spread gossip, untrue accounts, suspicions, etc... it can have disastrous effects.  It is a shame, especially coming from adults that this path is chosen. 

It does take a village, including the good and the bad of it. For those that choose to chatter vs. confirm, I can only hope my "village" will see it for what it is. And while I will embrace the benefits of technology, I am still going to trust and use old-fashioned parent to parent communication.

Friday, December 2, 2011

100 Days of Thanks

I am challenging myself.  After a rough few weeks, if not months of feeling insane, angry, resentment, sadness and just well all over the place, I decided I needed to really try to focus to get myself out of this.  So I took the week prior to Thanksgiving to start my week countdown of what I am thankful for.  First thing in the morning, I pick one item and write it down.  After putting together my 7 days of thanks, I have decided why not make it my way to start each day.  What a way to begin each day in a positive manner and remember that despite no matter what may be going on there is something to be thankful for.  So here it goes:

  1. for my amazing husband who stands by me no matter how crazy things (or I) get.
  2. for my friends, old and new. I have the best ones on earth. always there when I need them. thanks for lifting me up, holding me through, making me laugh, showing me my mistakes and just making me a better person
  3. For our amazing kids - each unique and so special. So proud and so crazy loved.
  4. for my family - all my crazy relatives, incredible parents, grandparents, aunts/uncles cousins. All so supportive and so fun. I am lucky to have so much love.
  5. today is an old friends birthday. One no longer with us and someone who helped change my life. Today I am especially thankful for knowing him and will be forever grateful for all he has done for our family.
  6. for my home, I am lucky to have the house we have but most of all that's it home. It may not be the cleanest, most modern and needs a lot of TLC - but no matter our zip code we always try to keep it full of warmth, love laughter and fun.
  7. for my freedoms and safe community. Easy to take for granted but very thankful for it and those who serve to protect them both.
  8. Today, I will dare to say I am thankful for the heartache, the past, the worst days that all built me stronger and that ultimately brought me to the place I am now.
Happy Thanksgiving.... and looking forward to making each day a day of thanks.

    Tuesday, November 15, 2011

    No one can drive us crazy unless we give them the keys...

    Control freak cont. (or just crazy)
    I continue to think about this 'control' assignment and am really still at a loss.  I have recognized some smaller day to day things and feel as though I have let 'go' of them as they come up.  I don't feel like I am trying to ‘control the world’.  But then again I never really felt I did – maybe I do?  Who knows.  I can admit that the one huge item weighing on me, I just cannot let go of. I cannot put it in God's hands, I cannot put it in a stranger's hands and in my opinion, there will not be reliable resources for a few years down the road. Every time I begin to think of the what-ifs I lose my emotions. 'Letting go' or not having control of this is not an option.

    I contemplate about what else there is and where I can free up some of the mind bogging items.  But I feel so saturated that I don't even know where to start or what to feel about anything. I know I am trying to have really good, positive days. But I just seem to go from ok, to crying to angry/frustrated.

    Then, it almost seems just to test me, my husband learned his ex has been discussing (his) kids with his mother (my mil). There are no boundaries it seems. The two of them discuss items, then before we know it, my husband's entire family knows our business without him knowing or until they ask him about it and he had no idea.  It is one thing to discuss little things, i.e. a grade in school but this is not the case.  My husband confronted her asking that this stop, it is his place and his business to share this sort of information with his family.  But then went on, and didn't care if they discussed him/us, just the kids should be kept private. Bingo, a prime example of do I speak up, or not. Is this something I can control? 

    I know that I cannot control what anyone else chooses to share even if I wanted. However, I don't want our business, her frustrations with myself or my husband shared with my mother in law by his ex-wife. We are trying to mend a relationship there and while I am not 100% that we are a topic of discussion, I don't need it being one. So, I relayed that to my husband. Should I have let this be?  Not spoken up?  I don't know, but either way, I can't control the actual outcome. 

    Once upon a time, I wouldn't have cared. If anyone felt the need to discuss me or my family or if anyone else felt the need to choose sides or share information that isn't theirs, then well that is between them and so be it. However my confidence is so shot and I feel so, so beaten, I don't want to even have to think about if someone else, especially an ex and a member of my family believe they have the okay to discuss issues of our children or venting of what we have/haven't done. I am not so vain to think my life or behavior is a topic of discussion, but it has happened in the past based on passing comments that at times we indeed are.  I just don’t need it.  Not now, not ever.

    This leaves me feeling a bit crazy again. I don't feel like I have any control over these situations and while I know I can control my reaction to them, I have no confidence to feel stronger about my reaction.  The only thing I feel sure of is how much I hate feeling this way.  And that begets the vicious cycle of then feeling so selfish for feeling this way; so silly and pathetic.  After all, I am lucky to have all I do. I just am having a hard time seeing it through the cloud in my head right now.  I don't remember giving them away, but I want the keys back.  Now.

    Saturday, November 12, 2011

    Don't make me say Goodnight to Goodnights...

    A while ago I was fighting the good night ritual.  It had become a not so pleasant one, and I spent so much time wishing it would pass.  Lots of anxieties, worries about surviving through the night.  Questions that I could not answer.  What was once such a sweet innocent time of snuggling and kisses and sometimes impatience had become a time of stress, sadness and loss for knowing what to do. 

    Then, it happened, the anxiety slowly was cured.  FANTASTIC you say!  Yes it was.  But then it became too cool to say good night.  Too cool for snuggles.  I am a man now and don't need to be tucked in.  What!?!?  How did I know that despite the stress and true worry those nights had, I would eventually miss not having it at all.

    Which brings me to last night, it was rough.  After a sleep-over and learning that sleep probably did not happen we suffered through the crankiness and tude-ness of it's aftereffects; eventually we were able to have a discussion and kissed and made up.  The rest of the night was one I wish I could hold onto forever.  Pleasant conversation.  Snuggles on the couch while watching TV and even a 'mom... can you come up and say good night.  that show freaked me out a bit'.  Me: (WHAT? YES!, wait play it cool mom!!)  umm I mean sure.  if that is what you want

    Thinking in my head of course, trying hard not to show I was really dancing a jig.  My 'man' who was too cool and too grown up was spooked.  And who did he want?  That's right, ME! Momma! MEEEE! I can't even tell you how that felt. 

    I climbed to the top of the stairs and walked in.  There he was blankets up to his eyebrows and he looked barely over them and welcomed me into bed.  He did not want to talk, he just wanted me there.  I sucked every second of it in.  Breathing in his hair that doesn't smell so baby fresh anymore but smelled just delightful in his own way.  Kissing his forehead and cheek, his skin still soft, not yet giving into adolescence and stubble (THANK GOODNESS!).  Saying as I used to say every night "I love you, remember you are AMAZING'.  I got the usual tired moan-groan knowing he was just about in that falling asleep mode, he did share a 'love you tooooo' whisper. 

    I laid there not wanting to leave but knowing the bed was not big enough for the two of us.  I wondered how many more nights like this I may get.  I wanted to bottle it up and then began to resent myself for not embracing the past nights more.   How stupid of me!!! But I quickly shoved that voice out of my head, knowing it is something that has to happen, and so often is felt by hurried parents.  I didn't need to beat myself over it.  I needed to be thankful for even being able to have those nights at all.  I had been a single parent, I had worked two jobs - I knew what it was like to not even have the time to savor a good night.  So I told that voice to bugger off. 

    I stayed a bit longer just smelling and listening to his breath and having my cheek pressed to his.  I said I love you one more time and whispered 'remember you're amazing' again.  Just because.  I walked out and looked back and realized how truly blessed I am.  Despite my rough patch now.  I know I am.  But I still don't want to say goodnight to 'goodnights'. 

    Friday, November 11, 2011

    Control Freak - part 1

    Recently I was given an assignment: to think about some things that i could 'let go' of.  Releasing the decision making or control to either my husband, another party or just letting them be completely.  As I work through the options in my head, I am stumped.  There are definitely items I control out of preference and those out of need; but I am really struggling as to what I could honestly walk away from a 'control' perspective. 

    Hearing the term control freak, I think of the typical, type A, micro-manager or parent who hovers over all.  I never considered myself that person.  When our son was born - I was that mom who didn't flinch when he fell instead using it as a moment of self-discovery for him.  A little dirt doesn't hurt.  I felt confident in the laid - back approach and overall it seemed to work well for us.  Generally, our weekends do not have to be planned.  I love being spontaneous.  I sing off-key.  I don't need to match.  I can be okay with going with the flow.  So did this change?  Or are there just key areas in my life that have become all consuming?  My quest is to find them.  Identify and surrender them elsewhere.  One, because I need to.  My head is just spinning.  But also because I do not want to be a control freak.  I also am tired of freaking out and worrying over situations that I can't control, but warrant concern. 

    Thus the question of Control Freak-dom.  What am I so desperate to control?  It doesn't need to be all perfect.  How do I figure this out?

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Having a moment

    I need to put myself in a timeout.  Yes.  Me.  Go sit on the stairs. And no talking.
    This weekend I was pushed to the brink.  I couldn't take the jabber jabber, the sarcasm, the teenage banter or the general noise of boys/men/anyone.  So, yes. I lost it.  Snapped in front of our children.  Their friend in-tow included.  I looked absolutely psycho. 

    It wasn't that bad - at least that is what I am telling myself; but I did raise my voice, I in fact did the 'oh I can turn this car around RIGHT NOW' bit and I meant it.  1000%.  It almost felt like I was being dared to fulfill it, which fortunately I didn't have to.  After my reaction, there was a silence in the car so intense all you could hear was the wind as we drove. 

    Not my finest moment, but I am allowed.  I will not beat myself up over this.  In fact, I am not even apologizing for it.  That may be hypocritical, but I did ask my husband to apologize to the kids and explain how psycho I have been.  It will be a good bonding moment for them.  Normally, I would feel much different about the behavior I displayed.  But for now, I am going to allow myself the slip.

    Friday, November 4, 2011

    blurred vision

    Vision is just one of our senses.  We rely on it to be safe, to perform our day to day duties, entertainment, etc.. It also can play tricks on us.  It has been a while since I have seen my ex in a normal day to day situation.  Typically it is in passing during the visitation drop off/pick up or randomly at an event.  During these times there is little interaction, he is dressed down and there is virtually no participation on his part.  In front of anyone, it is just a civil hello/goodbye.  Any other time, the conversation when there is one, has become hateful and argumentative or just one word answers.  I do not believe he is sober so I am always on guard for those little signals to give that away.

    Recently, we met at an event that was right after work.  He came clean-shaven, dressed in his preppy way and was conversational.  After only speaking to someone or getting such angry communication from someone for so long, knowing their history of alcoholism - it was almost as though my vision of him had become blurred.  Much like the show Grimm.  Looking at him he would often morph into the sad, drunken person I was trying so hard to escape and protect my child from.  Seeing him in this light was confusing.  It is no wonder it has taken some people so long to know of his addiction.  It also reminded me that he, the true 'he' does still exist.  Deep down, somewhere in there. 

    With that, it also terrifies me.  Is this a new beginning?  Is there really a new leaf or just a continued charade?  Does his new wife know of his past?  It is hard to believe that this is a possibility when there is so much continued blame and hate being thrown at you.  If one was truly recovered, there would be more acceptance and apology.  Humbleness.  I would welcome a fresh beginning if I saw that.  But there is none.  So here I am with blurred vision, not knowing what I see in front of me and wishing I had that magical prescription to see the truth. 

    Sunday, October 30, 2011

    Wonder Woman.... where are you?

    Often I have felt that it really takes a superhero to manage motherhood. How fitting that Halloween is tomorrow. It also makes me (dare I say) appreciate what my parents went through raising me. How is can we though be all to all and still be sane, hold a job, etc…

    If there was ever a need to have a ‘bat light’ to shine out there and have my super hero come down out of the sky, save the day and make me feel wonderful as they run off into the night it really would be now. I do have a super-hero in my husband, but it is not the same. As wonderful and amazing as he makes me feel, he is no match for the guilt and weight I put on my own shoulders. He tries, but it is like kryptonite that can’t just be picked up, flown off to the middle of the desert and buried. Instead it just sits and weighs heavier and heavier until I crash.

    Today however, I did something I rarely do. I gave myself a break. I was missing my (step)son’s game this morning due to a conflict in getting my son to and from seeing his father. At first I was so annoyed that this was impacting me seeing a game but then found out the game was cancelled. So I was very thankful I was not in the car with my super mad husband driving 3 hours for nothing. It then turned into a blessing in disguise. While he was (I am sure) cursing whomever it was responsible for not sharing fields were closed due to weather, I was home chipping away at a large pile of papers that needed dealing with.

    On the way to see my son’s father, my son revealed frustrations in always going to his brothers games and sitting in the cold, doing nothing. It broke my heart as we moved and he is having to find new friends yet most of our weekends are in a car going from one sport to the next. I made the decision to stay back from the second game of the day and have my son play with a neighborhood friend while I made the cookies I owe for tomorrow’s Halloween party, continued chipping away at that pile of papers, organize bills etc… It was …. nice.

    I hate to say that out loud because as I sit and think about it, I am rather bummed not to be watching our other boy play. However, if I push that guilt aside, today was actually really nice. I can’t tell you the last Sunday I have had to actually get stuff done, to cook real food – one where I actually need an apron and mixer, where I am sitting down and working on something instead of rushing around and watching the clock for when we have to run out the door.

    I do truly wish I could be there and do it all. when our kids grow up – I want them to know or remember wow she was there all the time; but with the current demands of our kids and having multiple children as well as work, it feels virtually impossible to be there ALL of the time. I wish I did not have to work. But I do. I am also hoping as we get to know more people who our youngest will be able to go his own way more or have a friend to bring with him instead of resenting going to his brothers games. It is hard on him as well. But for all 3 of our children, whatever it is I do hope that when they do look back they will at least acknowledge how much I tried to be there for everything. And for every time I wasn’t, there was a reason…Even if that reason was to help their brother make friends and attempt to help myself from going insane.

    Friday, October 28, 2011

    Girls Night Out

    There’s something about seeing your girlfriends that I think helps the soul. It could also be the bottles of wine we have been known to finish off while chatting.

    Lately, I have felt pretty lost. Almost as though I don’t even know myself anymore. It is a strange feeling and in the midst of keeping up with daily life’s chores,kids homework and their dramas, taking care of the home, the husband, the dog, work…. it is easy to not even realize you are lost. However, when there are those moments of quiet or calm and that feeling starts to come over you. It is almost like a gray fog that gradually becomes all-consuming.

    I am not sure I would define it as depression, but that seems to be the easiest category to fit it into. I am working to learn how to manage this. How to find myself amidst it all, and actually discovering if the person I thought I was is actually who I am or just who I wanted to be. That complicates things a bit but in diving down deep to my subconscious self I begin to realize that it may just be that I never was that girl. Having some old friends surround you, with true girl perspective is helping me find out. And you know what I learned….. even if I wasn’t that girl and even if I am lost now… what a great time to carve a new path and start by being the woman I want to be now….

    Monday, October 24, 2011

    In the best interest...

    I used to wonder why people stay together in an unhappy marriage ‘for the kids’, but now I sometimes understand it. After all, there is a lot (and I mean a LOT) of things that would be easier if you choose that route. I did not make that decision – I divorced for two significant reasons, 1) because I felt life is too short to be in an unhappy and unhealthy marriage and perhaps more importantly 2) felt it was in the best interest and health/safety for myself and my child.

    At no time did I feel a direct threat to my life – and I feel for those that are in that situation. But I did have to talk my ex ‘off the ledge’ many times. I have watched as he passed out continuously, not being able to wake him. Wondered where on earth he may be because he was not home, but passed out on a metro train or other place. I could go on and on. Why I wound up in that situation is another story itself. But where things truly crossed a line for me is when there began to be a direct impact on my child.

    One of the issues in dealing with addicts is that they often do not see the problem. Hence, nothing should be wrong and everyone else is the issue. That is where I am - and I am struggling with the ‘this is all your fault’, knowing it really isn’t, but hearing it enough to maybe/sort of start to believe it. When I am able to conquer that, where I then find myself is in the very vicious circle and the battle of the emotional vs. the logical of what is in the best interest of my child. I also question the best interest for myself because fighting these battles has a significant impact on all surrounding parties, but always above and beyond me, I do my part to put the impact on me aside and try to view what is it that is in the best interest of my child. Is it healthy or good that his heart is continually broken? Do I stand up for all the times I have had to explain things to his disappointing eyes? Am I a horrible mother because I am trying to protect my child and ensure they are mentally healthy and safe? When history has repeated itself so many times, how long do you keep hoping that maybe things have finally changed? And do I trust it has (knowing in my gut that it hasn’t) at the expense of my child?

    My child wants time with my ex – thus the struggle. If they did not, I would fight much harder and be much more strict about it’s the by the papers or nothing. On his part, there is no stepping up, there are no proactive steps, and no proving himself which is something he has said he would work to do. But alas… here I am fighting the internal and emotion battle of what is truly in the best interest…

    Friday, October 21, 2011

    Where does a woman begin?

    I used to keep a journal. I found that it really helped sort out the ramblings in my head. Allowing me to vent. Cry. Share what I dared not. All without sacrificing my secrets, privacy, and most of all pride. How ancient of me… Now it is facebook, blogs, everyone spewing every second of their day to 100′s or even 1000′s of ‘friends’. I am not sure if this is the right outlet for me, but being that I have found myself in a quandary of sorts in keeping my thoughts rational, I thought I would give it a go and see what this fuss was about.

    So with that, here is where I start… with the questions weighing on me. Balancing what is heard so often, those praises of the woman – how she is expected to be all, do all, bear all and still have dinner on the table, look ravishing and fit and oh by the way be charming and lovable. Seriously? Yes, I am woman and hear me roar. Yes, I can do all that. And Yes, I can do it in stilettos or flats should I choose them and look pretty damn good while I do it. But why is it that we are expected to? Is it a burden we place on ourselves, fighting for equality. Or one we say we fight, but really embrace to feel purpose? Why is it that a woman who cares about her child is referred to as a bear? Not a teddy bear but a mama bear with claws out ready to tear apart those who are in her way?

    Be it a mother, a sister, a friend, a lover … why is it when we choose to fight or stand up for what we feel is right we are either a b&*^h or a crusader. Why are we not simply a woman…one who may be right or may be wrong, who has the right to make mistakes, be misguided or be educated and completely justified. I hope to someday be just that. A woman who stood up for what she felt was right, did not settle, was an amazing friend, family member, wife and mother. I don’t need any of the other labels, dramatic, crude or what have you.  I just want to be able to feel that I was the best me I could be and gave the best to my friends and family.