The sting –

Franco: And now my friend, the first-a rule of Italian driving.

[Franco rips off his rear-view mirror and throws it out of the car]

Franco: What’s-a behind me is not important.

 

Except that sometimes it sort of is…

April 23. It’s always a hard day for me. It marks the day we all said goodbye to my mom.

I think we all have these days. Days that come with a sting instead of a song. No matter what good comes of the day, it’s always a bit bittersweet.

This year I actually spent it with good friends enjoying a bit of racing, I *almost* could have forgotten what day it was. I got a ride in a Ford GT (WHAT?!?) and laughed an awful lot whilst sunburning my so-pale-as-to-almost-be-translucent legs.

I was so glad to have been able to make *that* day into something a little sweeter.

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That red GT- yes – that one right there. 

But yesterday hit like a ton of bricks.

I went to hang with the kiddos for a while, as I always do, after not having seen them for the weekend while not-yet-ex went to the store. To discover that every picture that I was part of had been removed from the public rooms of the house and shuffled to corners of the children’s rooms. Some of my things (fairly – nothing of any real importance) had found their way to the trash. Things my stepmother had made for us found their way into the kid’s rooms as well.

Ouch.

Suddenly amicable things aren’t feeling so friendly.

We’d already agreed that I’d help shuffle some things out of Bug’s room – so cleaning was already on the docket.  I just shifted that effort. Sweet Pea held the door while I loaded the car – backseat – full, trunk area – full.

You’re going to fairly make the point here that I’ve moved out quite a while ago – none of this should matter. And you’re right – if we’re following the first rule of Italian Driving.

BUT –

Most of these things I’d put off dealing with for a reason (no – that doesn’t make it right either). They were mom’s or something she’d given, or made. A costume I wore in a play when I was 8. A dress I wore to a ballroom dancing competition when I was 23. The little glass divided tray she used to put pecans in every Christmas.

It’s hard to look at these things and remove them from the house that I wanted so badly to be our dream home. Where I’d used them to entertain friends for Thanksgiving (NO – not in the childhood costumes – though we might file that away for later and more humorous use.) It was hard and I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t emotionally prepared – and I was angry because I felt I’d been blind-sided.

But so be it. It had to be dealt with. And it was. It didn’t matter.

Not-yet-ex was shocked when he came back. He didn’t understand. He wasn’t trying to make a statement according to him (thought this neatly coincides with him starting to see someone new.) But it’s okay.

I have these things now. They’re precious to me.

NOW – we’ll pull out that first rule of Italian driving and go make some new memories. Ones we like better. 😉

 

 

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Fraught…

Oh friends – how these last several days have been fraught.

Fraught with anger, frustration, disappointment and so many other things.

Things with the kiddos have been lovely. Bug made great strides on riding his bike this past weekend and even received an award at school – this was one of those, “Are you sure that’s meant for my kid?” moments.

But times with the not-yet-ex, yeah. Slightly difficult. And am I being hard on myself about everything under the sun? Oh boy, you bet I am.

You expect that things are going to be fraught with difficulty when you’re in the process of dissolving a marriage.

I suppose I didn’t expect to be rehashing the basic facts of what started the dissolution a year in.

This is the fun of divorcing in a state that requires a year of separation. You’re meant to carefully consider why you’re leaving. Make sure you can’t possibly, even a tiny smidge, reconsider working things out.

And I’m swallowing the harsh reality that no matter what you tell someone about your motives for leaving, and how it happened, and how everything has gone down since, they’re going to believe what they want to.

And I’m learning that I have to be okay with that. It’s hard for me. I try to be a peacemaker. I ‘doormat’ myself too often, willing to back down for the sake of not having to fight.

Not caring what someone thinks is SUPER hard for me. But I’m learning. Or trying to.

I’m also learning that I have to continue to stand up for what I believe is best for the kiddos regardless. It’s so much easier to let things go when you’re married. Again, it’s all for the sake of peace. But when you’re apart – some things glare – and you have to go with your conscience and HARD.

I know this is growth, but for the record – growing hurts – a lot. And I’m sure I’ll see the beauty of weathering the storm and whatnot down the road, but right now a bit of shelter sure does sound nice.

 

 

The Reminder…

So a friend of mine and I have this thing we call “The Reminder”.

As I’ve said before, I’m very fortunate that the not-yet-ex and I have a surprisingly good working relationship. We have each other’s backs with the kids, and even manage to continue to be interested and support one another’s other endeavours. (It’s a bit unsettling to discuss his dating life – but it’s all or nothing, right?)

So it’s not unusual for things to go along swimmingly and to occasionally lose immediate focus of everything that caused the split. Then it comes….

The Reminder – it’s one of those moments that smacks you in the face and helps you recall why it is that you sit on a consignment couch in a relatively empty townhouse instead of on the much nicer sofa in the house you spent the past 12 years living in.

As I always say, I am completely certain that the not-yet-ex would relate similar.

We had one of those moments last night – he bowed out of hanging out with the kiddos while I closed the barn to support a family member in a tough situation.

I happened to get very bad news about a mutual friend – that I called to pass along.

….and had to stop talking about it to let him take a selfie while at a restaurant with said family member.

In the moment I was livid, absolutely boiling mad. I even made one of those passive aggressive FB posts I hate so much.

And he texted to find out what was wrong. Which I ignored.

And he called this morning to find out what was wrong.

I finally caved and told him – I’m angry. It was insensitive and it was wrong. This was important and about someone he knows and cares for. It was worth 3 minutes of his time.

And he got defensive. This is our MO – I tell him what upset me – and likely don’t phrase it in a productive way – and he gets defensive – and I get more angry – and we’re off.

But today an amazing thing happened. I stopped. I said, “You have every right to defend your actions. I have every right to be angry. The thing I don’t understand is why you care. I don’t understand why you care if I’m angry. This isn’t our thing anymore.”

And it felt so good. I have always played the peacemaker, which usually involves backing down for me. And I didn’t.

And the best part is that he backed off, not down. He said, “I didn’t call to fight. I called because I want us to continue to work well together and I don’t want anything like this between us. So I knew you were angry and wanted to clear the air.”

Well damn.

And it worked. We both let it go. We still disagree. But we got it out there, and moved on. I don’t want to hate him. He doesn’t want to hate me. So we don’t. We move on. We take care of the kids. We make jokes now and then.

I know I’ll get another reminder before long. And so will he. But we’re able to let them go and move past them – and it’s really not a bad place to be.

 

If we were having coffee… 4/2/16

It might be a beer instead because it’s now afternoon and it’s been that kind of a week. Thought I’m always glad to press some fresh joe if that’s your preference.

You’d definitely be listening to me prattle on about how proud I am of my fearless girl and her 1st time mountain biking this week. She hit the single-track like a master and my cheeks hurt from grinning.

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<Awww – that’s sweet! You go girl! You say.>

I’m certain I’d have some choice words about a dear friends’ not-yet-ex who left her because ‘God told him to’ after he got saved and realized that he’d rather be knocking boots with his ex-wife (which he’d never stopped doing in the first place.) It chaps my hide for people to blame their choices on God. Grow a pair. Read up on free-will. Own it. Personal responsibility is a thing. Give it a try.

<What a jerk! You say – I love how supportive you are when listening to my rants>

You’d get to hear all the gory details of my ass-bumping trip down the stairs a couple of days ago and how my adorable son tried to come to the rescue. Let’s not forget the resulting ass-shiner – as I am now dubbing the bruise that dons my derriere.

<Bahahahaahahah! You say – because it’s funny – and because you’re now noticing that I’ve been sitting on my other hip this whole time>

This would be about the time I’d realize that I’ve been gabbing at you for too long and am embarrassed. I also have to go call out the children who sound like a herd of wild buffalo upstairs. Excuse me for a second, then I need to hear all about your week – please?!

<Crash>

Crap! What is it now? KIDS!!!

 

 

 

Everything and nothing…

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So I’ve been hung up on what to write about these past few days.

It’s spring break here and the kids are alternately amazing me with their stellar behavior and flat-out giving me a run for my money on sanity.

I busted my ass down the stairs two days ago and have what I am dubbing the ‘ass shiner’ as the bruise is perfectly the color and shape of being punched in the eye – just on the other end of things. (Dear God, I hope that’s not a ‘thing’ – if it’s some sort of ‘thing’ that I’m not aware of, someone save me here. I will *not* be googling, just in case.)

There have been riding lessons and some family movie time, some work and some play. We did go mountain biking with my dad and step-mom. That was fantastical. Sweet Pea knocked my socks off. it was her first time riding on a trail and she owned it. I’m a proud mama.

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Wide single-track, but single-track nonetheless. I’m a proud mama!

So – other than the ass-shiner and trail riding – it’s been relatively mundane.

What’s one to write about when it’s like this?

  • Life is good.
  • Not-yet-ex is pleasant.
  • Kids are… kids.
  • House is slightly messy, but not terrible.
  • Mountain biking was fun.
  • Nutella muffins were hockey pucks.
  • Blueberry muffins were a hit.
  • Listening to the kids play and make up things is the joy of my life.
  • Tiny cans of Stella are the best thing since big cans of Stella.
  • Ass-busting sucks.
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These FTW – Nutella muffins FTL

That’s when you realize that these are the moments. This is it. This is living. We’re doing the thing, with little-to-no-drama or insanity. That’s really pretty damn exciting! So there it is – it’s everything and it’s nothing – but I’ll take it any day over dramaland!

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In which my daddy tries to help my boy with riding a bike. He just pushed me down a hill. Not sure why the technique has changed, but what the hey!

Revisiting my dreams…

 

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So not in the, “Wow! I had the most bizarre dream about crocodiles eating ice cream cones last night!” way. More in the “Who am I again? What do I like?” kind of way.

While it doesn’t take a marital split to find your self in these shoes for certain – I know MANY women, and men for that matter, who have had this same feeling while being happily wed – I just think it’s definitely very common among those who find ourselves on our own for the first time in a long time.

I’m not sure why we have the tendency to lose ourselves in relationships. I don’t know why we stop doing the things that we love or looking at our lives outside of the bounds of a relationship. But I do know it’s not uncommon.

As I find myself revisiting my dreams, it’s very surreal.

I wanted very much to be married when the not-yet-ex and I got together. I was so glad to have someone in my life who was stable and steady. We didn’t really enjoy the same activities – short of antiquing – we both love the heck out of looking at some old stuff – but we didn’t see that mattering. And I know that for someone people it doesn’t. But it did for us.

I love to hike and ride mountain bikes. I want to canoe and kayak and camp. I also love motorcycles and fast cars and old cars.

He loves to hunt -deer and turkey mostly – and ride 4-wheelers and cigars. Oh my he loves his cigars. And he didn’t even know he liked them when we started dating.

About 2 years ago, I had the opportunity to get my hands on my dad’s 1974 Triumph TR6. The car I learned to drive in. It needed work. It had been in my brother’s yard for years.All I wanted was to clean out our garage which hasn’t been used for a car in 10 years and have a space to work on this car. I was going to figure out how to buy it later but I wanted to be able to do this thing with my 78-year-old dad.

I was met with 100 objections. We don’t have money. There’s too much stuff in there. You can’t possibly do this on your own.

It was as though you’d just deflated a hot air balloon.

Realizing that someone isn’t behind your dreams anymore leaves you in a really sad place. Hopeless might be the right word. And if you asked the not-yet-ex, I am certain he could relate similar to you. Though I felt I always supported his hunting, I don’t think it translated for him.

So 9 months ago I had the chance again to get this car. I have my own place now. No garage, but a second parking place to put it in. I spent $50 for a flatbed tow, and now it sits in front of my house.

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This weekend I pulled the gas tank out. It felt good to get my hands dirty. I have carburetors to rebuild and wiring to redo. So much of the cosmetics need work as well. It’s going to take years.

But that’s all okay. Because a few weeks ago my daughter looked at the car and said, “Mom, this is a pretty cool car. And you’re going to fix it up?” “Yes, sweet pea, I am.” “So maybe I can learn to drive in this car too? And when I am older it can be my fun car like it’s going to be yours?” “Yep, babe, I would love all of that!”

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It’s had a bath since then, but still needs lots of love!

And so the dream lives on. Mine and now hers. And that’s exciting to see.

Time to go see what other old dreams I can dust off and inch my way toward making reality.

 

A letter to my daughter when she thinks she’s found “the one”

 

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When my kids were really small, I had journals in which I would write letters to them regularly. I recorded funny things they were saying and doing, and how I felt getting to be their mom. As they grew, and my free time lessened, I haven’t kept it up as I wish I had.

I’ve recently had a spate of friends who are ill and facing saying goodbye to young children too soon, as well as friends who’ve lost parents in an untimely fashion. It got me thinking about what I’d want my kiddos to know – and this was one of the first things I’d want to tell my kids down the road if I’m not here to say it in person.

 

Dear Sweet Pea & Future Beau-

So you guys have been dating a while – and you each think you’ve found ‘the one’ eh? He certainly seems to be considerate and kind (yes – I’m making assumptions here – if he doesn’t seem to be considerate and kind at least to my face I hope we’re not having this conversation.) And I’m fairly disposed to give you my blessing.

I’d just like to give you just a few things to chew on, while we squee and happy dance and get ready to break my bank account for as much of your dream wedding as I can give you. Check in on these things regularly – they matter – a lot.

  1. Make sure you’ve seen one another at your worst.
    Have you seen him lose his temper? Or be really depressed? Over the course of years, hopefully you have more good times than bad. But the hard times will come, rest assured, and you’d rather find out sooner than later how you each handle those situations.
  2. Be open – about everything. 
    You have to be able to talk about everything. Maybe you choose not to sometimes, but don’t marry someone that you feel you have ‘restricted’ topics with. That’s bad news. The more honest you can be with each other about all things, small and big, the better off you’ll be.
  3. Listen.
    Take the time to make sure the other person knows that you’re hearing them when they’re talking to you. Think about what they’re’s saying, and try to understand, whether it’s his golf game, her horrific haircut, work or family concerns, they’re communicating to you because it matters to them. Take it in.
  4. Don’t poor mouth one another.
    No matter how mad you are at him, try to only take it up with him. If it’s a safety concern – different ball of wax – call me and I’ll come kick him in the pants, hard. But if you’re arguing over money or intimacy or any of these other things, for heaven’s sake, don’t go run your mouth to all of your friends about him. If we’re really lucky in this life, we get one or two friends we can vent to who won’t judge on the back end, who support us no matter what. But if you’re not 1000% certain you’re speaking with that person, shut your piehole – bringing others into your marital problems is a recipe for disaster.
  5. Choose one another every day.
    This one is the hardest of all. It takes so much work. Choose one another every day. And I mean every day. Choose one another when you’d rather scream at than kiss them. Take their needs into consideration with every single choice. If you’ll each look out for one another first, you’ll never need to look after your own needs. The very best marriages I’ve seen start and continue in this manner. When you feel like you hate them, stop, breathe, DON’T open your mouth, and force yourself to remember 5 reasons why you love them. Then speak.

I love you, sweet pea, with all of my soul, and can’t wait to see what this amazing life has in store for you!

5 lessons from the barn.

So as part of being a well-rounded, doesn’t-know-how-to-have-free-time-anymore mom (as so many of us are) I work 5 nights a week at a barn, owned by one of my absolute dearest friends.

It helps cover the cost of the oldest getting to ride horses. I decided I wanted to ‘give’ her horses when she was about 4 – due to some horrible circumstances I’ll relate at a later date.

But funnily enough – it’s give me as many lessons as it’s given her I think.

We’ll do a few of these series, but here are the first 5.

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  1. Quiet time can be healing. There’s nothing like one of these deliciously silent moments – alone on 90 acres with the horses to slow you down. And it’s in those moments my true processing happens. I bet most barn/farm folks would tell you they work out more problems clearing fence, shoveling stalls or feeding than they ever could on a therapist’s couch.
  2. Everything (including and especially horses) has a mind of its own. We all have plans for our days, weeks, years, lives. And those plans frequently go awry – at the barn, if you’re not prepared for the unexpected, well – you’ll make it up as you go along – because there’s no putting off a sick horse, broken fence or busted well pump – you have contingency plans in place and you learn to roll with the other stuff and make do. Learning to be flexible at the barn and in life is huge and freeing.
  3. Loss is part of life. I understand that we all know this inherently. But I’ve said goodbye to more influential horses in the past 3 years than I have people in my life. You learn to love hard and in a timely fashion because sickness can hit hard and fast. Carry it over to your human interaction and you have a pretty good plan in place.
  4. Getting dirty is good. If you’ve mucked stalls or dumped buckets and you’re not a little dirty, well, you’re not doing it right. (And we’re probably going to gripe about the quality of your stall picking.) Get in – get dirty – dig deep – relish in it – wade through the mud – there’s satisfaction on the other side. This goes equally for paddocks and office jobs. Roll those sleeves up and get to it.
  5. The ability to laugh at yourself is mandatory. Laugh at yourself, frequently and hard. Belly laugh. Even though it hurts like the dickens, the best way to get over feeling stupid for whacking your head on a stall door in front of 5 other people is to laugh at it. Have fun as often as you can, because there is too often in this life that you just can’t.
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Ms. Rachel’s Kandyman. He’s a cutie – but watch that mouth… he’s a nibbler!  🙂

Don’t Air Your Dirty Laundry

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Thanks, Purex, for the wisdom!

“To air your dirty laundry means to talk about private issues amongst others that are not involved. It originates from the fact that your dirty laundry (an analogy for dirty secrets) should be kept out of sight when people are visiting, otherwise it could be embarrassing for you or them.” Idiom Reference

Separation and divorce are hard. This is no surprise. They’re hard on so many levels and in so many ways. But I think sometimes we make it harder by the airing of the dirty laundry for all to see.

Social Media. What a sticky wicket. It’s our limited-consequence forum. People feel as though they deserve to be able to put their dinner, kid’s potty training success, workout and full details of their life circumstances out there, real-time. And I think it’s removed some of the ‘stopping and thinking’ we’d do if we had to say things to people’s faces or print it in a newspaper for others to read.

Personally, I think not ‘airing your dirty laundry’ is a key rule for the whole process. And it has to stick regardless of what the other party is doing.

I’ve been subject to less intrigue and slander than many – but I’ve had my share of phone calls that were initiated because of something the ex posted. And it’s definitely not fun.

Spending an hour explaining to a friend, who doesn’t know you’re separated, why your husband has other women posting to his page is tricky and definitely calls for a glass of wine. Then sit back and wait for it to ring again. Another call. Another Friend. “Oh look! my phone has airplane mode.” Stop the calls for the evening and breathe.

As much as you can, I think it’s so important not to respond in a nasty fashion. For your kids. For your sanity. For your conscience.

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Keep Calm!

Explain what you have to. Keep it to facts – and to the facts that you know you *should* share. You’re separated. Things haven’t worked out and you’re trying hard to keep things good for the kids/yourself/the dog. Etc.

The people who need to know the dirty details already do. Anyone who is figuring it out via social media isn’t part of your inner circle. They only need relevant facts in as dispassionate a way as you can relate them.

But let’s be clear. I am *not* suggesting that anyone should ‘doormat’ themselves. There are plenty of ways to remove yourself from the
situation – to whatever degree necessary – without being an instigator.

Unfollow, Hide, Unfriend the ex if necessary. Explain why you’re doing it in a calm fashion. At this point, I’m assuming you’ve already had a number of unsavory conversations, this may have to be another one.

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Barn whiteboard wisdom

Don’t answer phone calls from people you know are just looking for the scoop or similar, until you can talk to them from an unemotional place. Or don’t answer them at all. No better time than the present to revisit the people who are key to your life and cull the ones who don’t improve it.

Before anyone slams down on ‘living honestly’ etc. This is NOT the antithesis of that. This is being judicious. You can be honest and judicious at the same time. I can honestly say that my attitude and outlook is better than it’s been in years. I don’t have to add that it’s because I am no longer sharing space with the ex and all that entails. Save that for those who you know love you and won’t misuse it.

Be as kind as you can, without falling prey to manipulation, work with them as best you can – and remember – the junk is in the rearview. Keep moving forward as positively as you can and at least then you’ll rest well at night knowing that you’ve kept your nose clean. (Can I find just one more idiom to stick in here? Please?)

Much Love!

S

 

Passage…

 

My uncle recently passed away. He was 71 and really lived a good life. I didn’t see him enough, and it makes me sad.

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Next month marks 10 years since my mom, his sister, passed. And I’m still sad about that. Pieces of me always will be. Every single day.
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It’s been less than a year since one of the loveliest ladies I’ve had the pleasure to know passed in the surgeries that followed a tragic car accident.

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I’m following a long-time friend’s nephew who is currently in hospice. He’s not even school age and has but days left. It’s absolutely tragic and heart-wrenching.

So why share all the doom and gloom?

To make the point. The point we always make in these circumstances.

It never stops being relevant.

I’ll never forget my last walk with my mom. She was too weak to do anything but walk down to the end of the driveway and back. But we did. It was spring, and we looked at flowers and trees and talked. We took our time and savored the blooms and the fading light. Later that night we watched “The Quiet Man” – she’d not seen it. The redhead in her didn’t find it as funny as my stepdad did.

I’d give most anything for one more evening like that with her. But I am SO glad that I got the one I did.

The only way you get those moments is to show up. To take the time.

I don’t have those moments with my uncle or my friend.

My friend and I had been putting off a hiking trip for some time – weather wasn’t right, timing was bad etc. Then it was too late. And I kick myself for that regularly.

My uncle had been sick for some time. Metastatic lung cancer will do that.

I didn’t even know he was ill. First I was angry – how did I not know? How did someone not fill me in? Then I got angry at the right person – why hadn’t I stayed in touch as I should have? Why haven’t I seen him in years?

I have to own that. I’ll not get to hear one of his stories ever again. He’ll never send another lighthouse photo. And I hate it. I hate that I let this time slip by and didn’t do anything about it.

Take the time. Make the time. It doesn’t exist. Count it as ‘me’ time – because one day you’ll be willing to trade all your pedicures and quiet baths for one last walk.

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