Category Archives: Family

And just like that, “friend” becomes “acquaintance”

Last year, I had a great time with some of my girlfriends at a wine festival.

On the way home, the designated driver made some comments about her husband and called him an asshole. Hmm. Not such a good thing.

A few weeks later, she and I had a chance to talk one-on-one, and it turned out she was unhappy in her marriage and was in the midst of an emotional affair. Having been in a very similar situation, I did my best to talk her down and give her some “I’ve been there” advice, in the hopes that she’d use my mistakes as a lesson.

“Whatever you do, deal with the issue of your marriage separately from the relationship with the other guy.” 

“I wish I hadn’t gotten physical before actually leaving my marriage.”

“Don’t get pregnant!” 

She seemed to take the advice to heart, but a month later, she was a wreck, and it turns out she’d slept with the other guy and her husband had no idea and she didn’t know what to do.

We talked for a long time. She was sure she wanted to leave her marriage. This wasn’t the guy she wanted to spend the rest of her life with anymore. She’s not sure she ever felt that way, but inertia happens and we sometimes stand by choices we know aren’t right out of a false sense of obligation.

She was sure she wanted to leave but was afraid that if she moved out, she’d lose any claim to their house. Our state sometimes recognizes “in-home separation,” so I sent her some information about it.

Her husband became suspicious that night, not believing she was with me, so he snooped in her phone and found the e-mail I sent. He woke her up, devastated, saying he’d do anything to save their marriage, including counseling, which he had stubbornly refused to go to when she had previously suggested it. Sounds awfully familiar.

She felt obligated to give it one more chance. He had one condition: cut off contact with me.

Fast-forward to last summer. She and I managed to find some time to talk. Things were “ok,” she said. But then she asked, “Do you really think it’s possible for a marriage to work when the two people have nothing in common?”

I said that I do think it’s possible, if they enjoy time together and are confident enough in themselves and their marriages to do things independently, and those independent experiences enhance their relationship when they come together afterward. But I also told her that I had nothing in common with my ex-husband, and I have everything in common with my current partner, and the relationships are so very different. The current relationship is so much more fulfilling and happy.

Just this week, I heard from another friend that she and her husband are trying to get pregnant.

My heart sinks.

I sent her a request for a double date. I’d like to get to know her husband better. I want to support her and let her know that I will be there for her no matter what. I am hopeful that we can maintain our friendship.

But I get a chilling–and chilly–response. They don’t have time. And not even a hint of “let’s try another time.”

It’s time to write off this so-called friendship. I don’t know if I’m still persona non grata to her husband, and he has denied my request. I don’t know if she is happy, but seeing me reminds her of the terrible time she had last year. I don’t know if she is unhappy, and seeing me reminds her of what could be if she took control of her life.

I sincerely hope she is happy.

I am doubtful.

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“I love you world.”

“I love you world.”

My son said that to me tonight. It wouldn’t make sense to anyone else, but I know exactly what he meant.

Every night Smiley is with me, before he goes to sleep, I whisper, “I love you more than anyone in the world loves you, and I love you more than I love anyone else in the world.”

I know he has a father who loves him dearly, but I grew that child inside my body, and I simply cannot imagine that his egocentric father loves him as much as I do.

Today we were eating dinner, and I told Smiley that I love him, and he said, “I love you world.” I know he’s just two years old and cannot know what exactly I mean when I say that, but my heart melted. And then in the next instant it broke when he said, “I cry for you, Mommy.”

Bedtime the first night he’s with me is always hard. He doesn’t want me to leave him alone in his room. “Mommy sit wif me.” I will acquiesce for a little bit, but when I get up, the crying starts. I feel awful leaving him. I try to explain that I’ll just be down the hall and I’ll see him in the morning, but, well, he’s two, and that doesn’t really get through.

“I cry for you in bed.”

What he doesn’t know is that I cry, too. I cry because his cries hurt me. I would love nothing more than to hold him closely until he falls asleep. I cry because he is not with me. He’s only two, and we can spend 5 or 6 days apart. It’s not right. But maybe that’s my punishment.

I love him world.

Life Is a Whirlwind…Until It Stops

The past few weeks have been a blur. First there was Thanksgiving, then The Writer and I jetted off to paradise. We had an amazing time but missed the kiddos fiercely. Home for two weeks (well, I was–The Writer had another work trip) and loving on the boyo. Then TW and I had another trip to a warm location.

The back-to-back trips were exhausting, and we didn’t intend to plan them like that. The second trip was planned before the first one, after another trip had to be postponed. But both trips were fun, and it was great to have so much uninterrupted TW time, out of our usual element.

Life was hectic but fun. Exhausting but full of love.

And then the world stopped.

Cancer struck again.

A great friend of mine lost her father.

I’m back at the airport for the third time in as many weeks. (Side note: I have no idea how TW does it.)

Once again, the custody schedule works in my favor; I can be with my friend while Smiley is with his dad (though I’m sad to miss the daycare holiday party).

I have known Pickle since my freshman year of college. We were great friends but after graduation we lost touch, as you did in the days before FB and Twitter. We reconnected a few years ago but it wasn’t a deep friendship. I was embroiled in my shithole of a marriage and she was dealing with her parents and sister and their various health issues.

Then I needed someone to talk to. I was pregnant and thinking of leaving my husband. I was up late, and Pickle has always been a night owl. We spent four hours on the phone. It was that cliched “we haven’t spoken for 10 years but when we picked up the phone it was as if no time had passed” friendship.

I’m so thankful for all the support she gave me. It was especially helpful to talk to someone who knew me “before.” She remembered me as “me,” not somebody’s wife. She talked me through so much crap, and assured me I wasn’t crazy to want to be respected and loved for who I am, not what someone wants me to be. She even came to visit when Smiley was a few weeks old and gave me much-needed sanity and sleep breaks.

And as I figured my shit out, she came to need me. Her dad had been suffering from prostate cancer for a few years. The chemo seemed to help, but he kept sliding backward. Her sister was useless. I’d been through something so similar, it helped her to have someone to talk to.

I could sympathize with how hard it is to watch your parent get sick. I could sympathize with how shitty it is to have a sibling who doesn’t want to be involved unless it directly relates to him or her–and who has the gall to ask “is he dying?” when it’s suggested s/he come visit dad. I could sympathize with the guilt of needing to take time for yourself when someone is relying on you.

And now, unfortunately, I can sympathize with having to deal with funeral arrangements and telling people terrible news while your own world falls apart. Struggling to keep yourself going, supporting other people who need you more, who are more fragile.

And I’m on my way to be with Pickle, so someone can take care of her. So she doesn’t have to be strong for everyone else.

I love my friend, and I hate cancer so much.

Making My Own Family

I’ve been pretty absent here and on Twitter, except for Friday’s SingleParentsTalking chat, and I’m sorry for that. Things have been a little crazy for me.

I went out of town to visit my friend, Sue, which completely derailed my “lifestyle change.” We get together and we *eat.* I didn’t follow most of my rules, and I paid the price–I felt terrible for a few days. But instead of going back to my rules, I kept eating poorly. I’m still making better choices sometimes, but I need to get back on track.

And this weekend didn’t help. Smiley will be with his dad on Thanksgiving, so I had my own Thanksgiving celebration with 20 of my closest friends. My true family. There were a few people missing, like The BFF (sad–lives far away) and my brother (annoying–unreliable), but I had a wonderful time. I really felt loved and even though I drove myself crazy with all the preparation, it was a great time.

Side note: If you’ve never roasted any sort of whole bird, a 20 pound turkey for Thanksgiving is probably not the best place to start. However, it turned out perfectly. Best turkey I’ve ever tasted. (And thank you to Cari and MFA Mama for the push to brine.)

I didn’t spend nearly enough time with Smiley yesterday because of all the craziness, and he was a little overwhelmed by all the people, but he was great and social and adorable. And he got to spend time with The BFF’s parents, who are basically his grandparents on “my side.”

I’m not related by blood to very many people. But I think about my childhood, and I was always surrounded by “family.” The ex and I used to get into it because he only considered “family” to be anyone who wast related by blood or marriage. But he has five or six aunts and uncles. I had many “aunts” and “uncles.” They just happened to be my parents’ friends. Three of his grandparents were still alive well into the ex’s 30s. Three of mine were dead by the time I was 2, and the last one died when I was 10. My parents had friends who were much older than they were, and they were my “grandparents.”

The ex just didn’t understand how those people could be family. But he had the luxury of having a large blood-related family. My parents did what they could to surround us with love and loving friends, who I will always think of as my family.

And I am doing that for Smiley. Of the 20 people in my home yesterday, only three were related to me by blood–my son and my brother’s children. But everyone in that house was my family. The Writer. Friends who are former co-workers. Friends who are married to former co-workers. My BFF’s parents, whom I have known since I was 5 years old. Friends I met while training for a cause near to my heart. This is my family.

My family is made up of people I have chosen, and that’s the best family of all.

Dreaming of a Baby Girl

I was reading how Maureen at Tatterscoops used to dream of pink bows, and it struck a chord with me.

Before I became pregnant and then when I found out I was, I dreamed of a baby girl. I couldn’t wait to get frilly dresses and cute outfits. I was thrilled about having a little girl to dress in those cute clothes.

I’m not really a girly-girl, but I was so thrilled about naming a baby after my mother, and baby girl clothes are just so freaking cute. And I do love pink. My husband (at the time) was a man’s man, and decided he’d be “cursed” with girls because of the way he treats women. But he started to get used to the idea.

When I went in to my sonogram, things weren’t really going well for me. My husband was doing everything he could think of to keep the marriage from failing, but everything he did pushed me further away. (Dude, seriously, when someone asks for space, don’t smother them MORE.)

I was on the sonogram table, naked from the waist down, already making plans to walk away from my marriage and pretty disgusted by my husband, and he’s stroking my (unshaven) legs and telling me I’m sexy. Not. Helpful.

And then we saw the sonogram.

I was thrilled to see my baby. Her heart was beating strong. Her hands were perfect. Her spine. Her penis.

Wait.

Her what?

Oh. We’re having a boy.

My eyes welled up. It was just one more thing going wrong.

We waited and waited for the printouts. I got dressed and started walking to my car.

On the way to my car, my husband calls me to tell me that his parents had invited us over for dinner. (Because he had immediately called them, of course.) I said no, but he could go. But he wanted to spend the evening with me (see above re: smothering).

I got to my car and I began to sob.

I texted a few people. The BFF, The Writer, and my good friend Sue. I said I knew I’d be OK in about 8 hours, but I needed to mourn the baby girl I’d expected.

Sue and I had a funny exchange about my second husband giving me a girl, which made me laugh. The Writer sent me some comforting words.

I was miserable…but within about 6 hours, I was over it. I was OK with having a boy, if not super excited.

I never really connected with Smiley while he was in the womb. He was always “the baby,” although other people used the name we had picked out. I couldn’t ever really use it.

But the minute I heard his cry in the delivery room, I fell in love. I couldn’t imagine not loving him.

And now, I can’t imagine my life any different.

I love him so much that at times my heart seems like it will burst.

When I found out I was having a boy, I had no idea what I would do with him. Boys are so “different.” So physical. But I find that I love the horseplay. I love rolling around on the floor and wrestling with him. I love chasing him and playing hide-and-seek. I love how he climbs all over me, and it’s wonderful to sneak in hugs and kisses while he’s doing that.

I’m learning about the differences between combines and tractors. (Sort of.) I’m learning about airplanes and fire engines and cars. What he’s excited about, I’ll learn about, to encourage him to learn.

And now, when I think about having another baby (one day, I hope), sure, I’d love to have a little girl, but my boy is so much fun, I would be perfectly happy with another one.

Man, I love that kid.

Taking the First Step

The ex just posted on a social networking site that he will be taking Smiley to an indoor waterpark/resort around Thanksgiving, thanks to his mom. I expect it’s a big family trip with Smiley, the ex, the ex’s parents, and ex-brother-in-law and his family.*

That will be a great time. Smiley loves the water and loves to be social, and his father’s family loves him very much. He’ll have a blast.

But now I feel sorry for myself because I cannot do the same thing for my boy.

The important thing is that Smiley have fun with both of his parents, but I do worry about his dad being the “fun” one. I cannot give him the same sort of things his father’s family can.

Although, really, I guess the only thing stopping me is me. My insecurities and my anxiety cripple me. He is 16 months old, and I still worry about what we will do on the weekends. I am an overthinker and a planner. But beyond that, I find that it’s very complicated and hard to do things with Smiley on my own.

As I’ve mentioned, the schedule works out so the Writer is with his daughter when I am with Smiley, so outings with the three of us aren’t an option. (As for outings for the four of us, that’s not an option yet either, and I won’t get into it here. At least not now.) My parents have both passed away, so I can’t call on them to come to the pumpkin patch or the zoo with us. I have some wonderful “grandparent figures” for Smiley in my life, but they live an hour away, so it takes a bit of planning to spend time with them. I have amazing friends who have kids, but it’s not like having an extra set of hands with Smiley–they have their own to wrangle. (Plus they have older kids, and their schedules are crazy.) And I have amazing friends who don’t have kids, but they have busy lives and “adult” things to do. (I love to go wine tasting, but I’m not sure how fun that would be for the boy–or for me, if my friends get really into the wine.)

I know I need to just get out and do things–once I’ve done it, it’s not so daunting. But taking that first step is so scary. What if…? What if I need to go to the bathroom? What if Smiley gets upset? What if he has a tantrum? What if he screams the whole way in the car? What if…?

You know, none of those “what ifs” are all that terrible. It still is daunting to think of doing activities on my own with Smiley, but I just need to push myself into taking that first step.

How do you manage to get out and do things with your little ones on your own?

*At least, that’s who I hope will be there. I’m wondering if his new girlfriend and her three (!) kids will be there, too. But, say it with me, “That’s for another post.”

Today Was a Good Day

After the emotional vomit I spewed here yesterday, I’m happy to announce that today was a good day.

I didn’t sleep great and I was up too late, and Smiley is still fighting a cold and woke up a little earlier than usual, so I was pretty tired, but we had a great time together. I timed the day just right for meals and naps. I took him to the pet store to look at the fish (cheaper than the aquarium and much closer). We went to the toy store and played in the house together. There were tantrums and bumps and such, but we got past them.

He enjoyed looking at pictures on my iPod of the Writer and me (and himself). He’s making amazing progress. He knows so many words and sounds and body parts (that last part sounds weird, but parents know what I mean). And he’s starting to climb and be more confident in his abilities. He is communicating well (generally–I mean, he is only 16 months old!).

I am so proud of him. A friend of mine teases me that she’s never seen a mother so in love with her child. And it’s true: I am head over heels. He is my world. And I’m so thankful for days like today.

<3