Don’t be ordinary…

In love. In life. In parenthood. In anything. It’s a good rule – why be ordinary?

The above quote says it all for me as we head towards the big V-day. And I may not be going where you think I’m am with this. It’s not a “To heck with jerks! You go tell him where to stick it girl!” kind of thing.

We are all so incredibly unique. Nope – we’re not all special little snowflakes to be coddled and protected from every bump in the road. But we are unique.

No two people have exactly the same life experience, outlook, talents or challenges.

Valentine’s Day is bittersweet for many, sweet for some and just plain bitter for others.

We’ve heard it all, right?  ‘Love yourself first’ and ‘you can’t love another person until you love yourself’. And these are true.

We get totally sick of hearing them when  we’d rather have an awkward date with Mr. Not-Quite-Right than sit at home alone with take-out and binge-watching GOT one more night. There’s nothing wrong with going on that date if you are just looking for a fun night out, and everyone involved has a realistic expectation of outcomes.

But please routinely put in the effort to make those statements above true.

Don’t waste too much time on Mr. (or Ms!) Not Quite Right – buy yourself a treat instead – a handbag you’ve wanted, a ticket to a sporting event, a dinner out at a lovely restaurant – and it doesn’t have to be expensive – do it on a shoestring – a walk in the park or hiking expedition of your own can be so incredibly gratifying. Take a lesson in something you’ve been dying to learn – rock climbing or painting or whatever tickles your fancy.

Self-care takes a lot of practice – you might not have that rosy “I love me!” feeling. It doesn’t matter – do the thing anyway. Take the moment – if it’s nothing but stopping working on all the other things to read for 30 minutes and have a bath. Your heart, mind and body all three will thank you. (The rosy feelings do sometimes come! I promise!)

Next, let’s consider ‘Don’t expend energy loving someone who doesn’t love you more than you love you.’

A mouthful – I know. I’m no Oscar Wilde. But I think the point is important.

Once we remember how to love ourselves, we shouldn’t work so hard to love someone who doesn’t cherish all the parts of us at least as much as we do.

When you truly love someone, you even find ways to cherish the parts of them that drive you crazy.

My SO and I have this piece down. For example – he’s reticent. Completely. HUGELY. And it drives me totally bonkers most of the time. He doesn’t communicate AT ALL when he’s upset. Then I get upset because he’s not communicating – and then he’s upset that I’m upset, and it can get really stupid.

BUT – I’ve learned from his reticence. Running off at the mouth has always been a problem of mine – but being around him has caused me to slow down and consider more carefully the things that come out of my mouth. It has taught me that not everything needs an immediate response and sometimes it doesn’t need a response at all.

Still drives me nuts when he does it sometimes (and funnily enough was the most infuriating part to me about my dad! Wished I’d learned from him instead of waiting this long.) But it’s part of who he is as a person – and it does have value.

I *think* I’m teaching him something about empathy – which drives him bonkers. We have to stop before leaving DQ to say hi to the older fellow sitting alone with his cone. He has to wait for me constantly because I have a need to know EVERYONE’S story. I want them all. He was not previously overly concerned about other’s stories – or with sharing his own.

I think he sees through my crazy eyes that wanting to know about others, because you’re truly interested in their story, can be beautiful thing, and can create some wonderful bonds (and get you some fantastic stories!) He tells me routinely that it’s part of who I am – so he loves it too.

So if you’re going to be with someone, choose a person who is willing to think that you’re a special snowflake and treat you with all the care that should afford – but who’s also willing to push you and inspire you to being bigger, better and more than you were.

No one less is worth it – have many lovely friends and people around you – but don’t sacrifice your time and effort for someone who doesn’t cherish your soul.

Don’t expend energy loving someone who doesn’t love you more than you love you. 🙂

Honest vs. Intentional

I’d like to talk for a minute about being honest vs. being intentional.

I don’t know about you, but through my life I’ve had several ‘mottos’.
“You ALWAYS have a choice – you may not like your choices, but you always have one.”
“Personal responsibility” I think that one speaks for itself.
“Don’t ask questions you don’t want the answers to” (this extends to questions you just aren’t *sure* you want the answers to.)

These have all been different themes since I was about 18. I felt strongly, even then, that once you’re an ‘adult’ you have to stop using “My mom did _______” or “The kids at school were ______” as a reason for not achieving what you wanted to.

Can the effects of traumatic circumstances be legitimate? Oh boy, you bet. But should you let them hold you back? I don’t personally think so. I think we should, as people, take responsibility (there’s that word again) for our future and do whatever work we need to in order to try tomove past these things. Easier said than done – yes I know.

My most recent motto is “Be honest, but be intentional.”

It’s hitting me in the face hard right now as we work our way through this divorce, which will finalize next week.

The ex (I’ve finally stopped calling him “not-yet-ex”) has a new ‘love’ – another one. He’s on his 3rd since we split up 1.5 years ago. This doesn’t really put a wrinkle in anything for me, but the kids are a whole other story.

This is where the rubber meets the road for me on being honest vs. being intentional.

If I’m HONEST with you guys – I have a ‘friend’. I have someone I’ve spent some time with. After a bit my kids have met his kid. We all have a great time together doing things we all enjoy – rock climbing or biking. And, if I’m HONEST, as much as I really do like and care for this person, when we’ve done things with the kiddos, there’s great INTENTION to the way that we do it.

We have a basic set of rules at this time. It’s something we both agree on.

Look – my kids have been through the ringer already this past year and a half. Their parents are getting divorced. Mom has moved out. It’s been emotional and messy.

The last thing they need is for me to add one more layer of stress.  So – when we’re together now, it’s all about the kids. HONESTLY, we hardly speak. We ll have fun – we all laugh and act silly. His kid and I hang out and have fun – my kids sometimes sit near him and snuggle up or hold his hand.

But they initiate it, and, for me, that’s the key.

Might this all be “more” down the road? Absolutely.

But we’re very intentional. I want all of these kids to feel like they were part of things and this all developed in a way that made it easy for them. This requires enormous amounts of patience, forethought and very calm, in spite of how emotionally-charged it can be, conversation.

My ex said “Well I’m being honest.”

And he’s not wrong. He is being honest.

I think I am too. “We’re good friends and I like him a lot. I think he’s fun. What do you guys think of him? of his son?” This is how this goes for me. All of these things are true.

I feel good about my response – just as the ex does about his.

I feel like my kids are getting to express their feelings and their opinions. It’s because we do these things, that they pow-wow’ed on my bed last night to chat about how they were sad about the divorce next week (because they know. I don’t believe in hiding that.) and how they didn’t really want a lot more change right now. They wish their dad wouldn’t get married right now. They already don’t feel like they get as much attention from him as they’d like, they say.

Because my relationship with him matters – and for their sake – I share this stuff with their dad. I try to let him know how they’re feeling. I can’t fix it for him – or dictate how he handles his new relationship- but I can at least pass along the info.

He’s completely comfortable with holding hands and kissing in front of the kids, leaving the them alone while they’re his home for the two of them to have alone time.

I’m not saying that these are things that should never happen – absolutely they should! I think the kids need to see a healthy relationship. Physically and emotionally as is appropriate.

But I also feel strongly that my particular kids deserve for me to be intentional and calm at the moment. Not caught up in another person. But present – for them and their needs and wants.

I think this whole situation has made me appreciate being intentional more. Patience IS a virtue. And good things DO come to those who wait. In the meantime, we’ll have a lot of fun, and some difficult times too, and enjoy the process – the natural progression – that this all takes.

 

 

 

Why my relationship with my kids’ dad matters

Possibly uncomfortable topic I guess – and probably a misleading title.

Of course, the relationship any of us have with our exs matters. Good, bad, indifferent – it affects our children and our lives.

I should have said “Why it matters to me that I have a good relationship with my kids’ dad.”

I put a lot of effort into keeping things smooth with the ex and why is not necessarily a simple answer. Most of my friends don’t really get it – some downright refuse to support it – but it’s a conscious decision that I make every day. Here’s why.

It matters because I need my kids to see that people can act in a mature fashion. 

We’re the adults here. We haven’t always been mature around our kids. There was a time when there was more yelling than civil conversation and more stuff broken than was fixed. But we’re not in the place now. I want my kids to learn to learn that we can move past times like this and treat one another respectfully. I can’t tell them how they should behave as a reasonable adult human if I’m not able to model it.

It matters because I don’t hate him

And truly… I don’t. I understand this bit doesn’t work for everyone. I was not physically abused nor were my children, and etc. Our marriage didn’t work. Neither of us were kind. Neither of us are without fault. We went through some trauma as a family that we didn’t survive. But that’s the thing…. in our way we are surviving. We’re still a family. We can eat a meal together. We still make one another laugh. We still ‘team tickle’ the kids. How he’s feeling or doing also matters to me because that affects our kids. If work is bad or he’s upset with a family situation, maybe his patience is running low – if I can be sensitive to that – maybe I take the kids off his hands for the evening – we all get a respite. Everyone wins. The tables are turned, and he returns the favor. It isn’t possible every time, but kindness counts. And again – I want to model that for our kids.

It matters because I want them to feel love from us – simultaneously.

I think they need to be able to feel love from us not just when they have us one-on-one, but all the time. That’s hard to do when you can’t get along. How do graduations and weddings look then? I want those times to just be celebrations for my kids. I never want them to have a second thought of, “What’s going to happen when I put mom and dad in the same room? What about step-parents?” When someone asks them about these things, I want them to say, “We’ll sit them all on the front row – they’re cool” Or whatever answer it is that works for them.

It matters because our problems are not their problems.

This is one of the biggest pieces to me. The kids didn’t ask for any of this. They wanted us to stay together. They love it when we’re all in the same place. Sometimes that’s hard for the adults here; we’re frustrated, angry or sad. I’ve had to physically remove myself from situations previously. Then I could step away from my emotion and bring the reaction that I wanted to the table. He has done this too. And lest you think we’re not showing them humanity or trying to paint some messed up Stepford situation here, there have been plenty of times where the kids have known there was a showdown going on  – guns they are a blazin’ – and they’ve also seen it de-escalate and be resolved. But I think we owe it to them to put all the effort we can into helping the piece of their life story that involves us be one that they can be proud of.

Finally, it matters because of my heart…

My heart has so long held enough hurt and anger to fill pages and pages. I don’t want to spend any more of my time than is necessary in that place. I want my heart to feel all the love and joy that is out there for the taking. And I can’t do that if it’s already full of negativity. So, maybe that’s a little selfish – but oddly it’s one thing the ex and I agree on easily. Let’s all move onward and upward together.

I get that this all takes two willing parties to do. But don’t be mislead. This is much easier somedays than others. He’s not always kind or thoughtful. He doesn’t always do what he says. He doesn’t always put the kids where I’d prefer them in his priority list. BUT – I’m sure he’d say the same about me in some circumstances or have other, no less important, gripes.

The thing is that we keep striving. We keep trying. We keep pushing past our comfort zones into somewhere that’s a happier place for all of us.

Like I told Sweet Pea when she asked me how my heart felt when she talks about dad’s new “friend” – “If you’re happy, and your brother is happy and your dad is happy – how can my heart be sad when everyone I care so much about is happy?” And from that perspective -it’s pretty easy. 🙂

S

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.

 

 

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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