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.

Advertisements

The Lifestyles, They Are A-Changin’

I have been following my new guidelines for a week now, and I’ve actually made progress. I haven’t had soda or alcohol in more than a week. The last fried food I ate was a week ago. I had salad for lunch each workday last week. I’ve added more veggies into my diet. I’m drinking much more water.

I haven’t done so well on the exercise part, but at work I took the stairs most of the week instead of the elevator.

One reason I’ve been able to stay on track is having people like you to support me. If I’m having a bad day, I’ll hop onto Twitter and get good feedback. Knowing you all are out there reading this and cheering me on is so helpful!

And so I’m happy to report to you that by just making a few changes to my “lifestyle,” I have…

<drumroll please>

lost 5.5 pounds!

That’s 10% of my goal!

When I realized how many pounds I needed to lose, I said to The BFF, “Maybe I should think of it as 10 5-pound chunks.” Well, one down, nine to go!

And to think, all that weight dropped just by making some dietary changes. Now, when I add in exercise, it’ll just keep happening. I took a walk with Smiley and chased him around the playground today, and I have a pilates class this week.

Obviously I don’t expect that kind of dramatic loss regularly–I’ll be happy if I can steadily drop one pound a week–but a big loss like that is a great way to jump start this venture.

Next weekend will be challenging. I’m visiting a great friend of mine, and when we get together, we tend to eat and shop and eat. I’ll do my best to stick to my no fried foods rule, but I can’t promise that a bite of fried Twinkie won’t find its way into my belly.

But I think I’ll appreciate it more, since it will be a treat rather than an expectation.

My partner in crime, Kate, is also seeing results! Yay!

30-Day Food Challenge

Kate over at Swoopy Loopy and I were talking about my new weight loss goals, and she had a good suggestion.

Wait…before I get into that, let me back up.

After I realized I had so much weight to lose, The Writer and I started talking about how to get to my goal. We began to talk about “rules” that I would live by that would help me. Then he realized that I have a really nasty habit of beating myself up over little things, so if I break a rule, I’ll probably start a backslide and get upset and the whole thing would go out the window. So here are the “objectives” we came up with the other night:

  • Salad for lunch 5 days/week
  • French fries once/month
  •  Diet soda once/week
  • 90 minutes of exercise/week
  • Breakfast every day
  • Alcohol only on the weekends

Not bad objectives to strive for. In general, I’ll also pay attention to portion control, eating more veggies, and sticking to low-calorie and healthy snacks when I snack.

So Kate and I were chatting online yesterday, and before I got a chance to tell her my objectives, she had a really cool suggestion: We should try to cut out one “bad” food per month. For some reason, I am really excited about this idea! (Excited about dieting??? That just doesn’t seem right!)

So here we go:

For the month of November, no fried food. This one will be especially tough on the weekends for me when I have Smiley, because the drive-through is so useful on those busy days, especially when he’s napping in the car and I’m hungry. [I might make a little exception when The Writer and I are in the Caribbean over Thanksgiving (YAY!), but I’ll still be aware of portion control and not overdo it. And I will be sure to get back on track when we get back home.]

We’ll each blog once a week about the challenge and link to each other’s posts.

We have already planned some other challenges for future months, but we are taking suggestions!

If you’d like to join us or have any suggestions, let me know in the comments or write your own post and link back, so we can add you to the blogroll.

That’s What I Look Like?

I have 50 pounds to lose. That sounds like a very large number. No…wait…it is a very large number.

I’ll try to think of it as 10 five-pound chunks. That’s not so bad, right?

Right?

I never thought I would identify myself as someone who struggled with her weight (I was extremely active in high school), but I have to face the facts: I am 50 pounds over the highest suggested weight for my height. I have gained and lost so many pounds that I have stopped counting.

I am 20 pounds over the weight I was when I joined Weight Watchers for the first time, over ten years ago. I was successful and lost 30 pounds and made it to goal and lifetime status, but, well, here I am.

I was overweight when I got pregnant, I gained about 40 pounds, and I’ve lost only 20 of those pounds–and my boy is almost 18 months old. Wait…no…I lost 30, then I gained 10 back.

I know what I need to do. I’ve often said I could write my own weight-loss book, but it would have only two sentences:

1. Eat less.
2. Move more.

I’ve thought about following a diet plan like South Beach or Atkins or [insert diet here], but I know I need to change my lifestyle and not just follow a program. It’s not about going to meetings every week or counting calories. It’s about making better choices. I may have to join something formal, but I’d like to try to do this on my own.

I made a better choice when I chose to leave my marriage, and I need to make better nutritional and physical choices.

There are a number of reasons. In no particular order:

  • I want to feel better about myself.
  • I want to be able to keep up with Smiley and chase after him and play with him, especially has he gets bigger (and faster).
  • I want to feel sexy.
  • I want to be able to walk with my coworkers to lunch and not struggle to keep up.
  • I want to climb the stairs without getting winded.
  • I want my clothes to fit better. (Hell, I want my clothes to fit, period.)
  • I want to dig in to the box of clothes in storage and fit into some of the cute stuff I haven’t been able to get rid of. (Maybe it’ll be back in style by then!)
  • I want to go shopping and not walk out dejected and feeling crappy about myself.

I don’t have the best family history–heart disease, cancer, diabetes–and the loss of both of my parents has been painful, and I don’t want Smiley to lose his mother. Also, more selfishly, I worry that if something were to happen to me, Smiley would never know me. His father’s family would do everything they could to absorb him, assimilate him into the collective, and he would get the runaround when he asked about me, since I was the bad lady who left the precious angel. I know The Writer, the BFF, and other people would do their best to see Smiley and tell him about me, but I expect they’d be rebuffed. And I want Smiley to have every chance to grow up and be well-rounded and empathetic and independent, and I don’t think he’d have the chance if that happens.

And, apologies to those who know us in real life, but there are times when I’m with The Writer (and I mean *with*) and I feel so amazing. I see how he looks at me, how he touches me, and I feel beautiful and sexy and wonderful. He loves me the way I am, no strings attached, no conditions. And I can feel it.

Then I get out of bed and cross in front of the mirror and…thud. Oh yeah. That’s what I look like.

I want the woman in the mirror to match how I picture myself in my head. I want to look in the mirror and see the woman The Writer sees.

I’ve laid out some guidelines for myself to help fix my eating habits.This is the first part of the battle. I am an emotional eater, and I am full of emotion. I need to plan better meals, even when I’m on my own, and stop snacking.

I’m giving myself an exercise goal, but I’m having a hard time seeing how to fit it in with the little one. I do take him for walks in the neighborhood (and use the monster stroller to give me some weight to push), but I feel like there could be more I can do. I have Wii Fit, but I haven’t been using it recently. After Smiley goes to bed, I just want to relax, not exercise! I did join a gym with babysitting, which will be great for the weekends with Smiley, but it doesn’t open for two more months.

How do you fit in exercise in your daily schedule, with or without kids? What are some tricks you used to get to your goals? What are some of your standbys for tasty, healthy meals?

Hardship is Not a Zero-Sum Game

I know I keep promising Roxanne the story of my ex-husband’s slutty girlfriend, but I keep having other things to say. And I’m not really in the mood to relive the story just yet.

In the meantime, I read a great post called “Being a Single Parent Isn’t Hipster,” and it brought up a lot of feelings about my struggle with calling myself a single mom. And it brought me back to my conflicted feelings on my situation.

I once heard that “talent is not a zero-sum game,” meaning that just because someone else has talent doesn’t mean that you aren’t also talented. I’ve applied that to so many things in my life, but lately I’ve been thinking about it in terms of tragedy and hardship.

It is difficult to parent on my own, to be the only one responsible for my son, and to be “on” all the time when Smiley is with me. Also, I only have my son 50 percent of the time, and that sucks, I miss him so much it physically hurts. But I try to look at the bright side: I get time off. I have time to myself, time to go on dates, time for uninterrupted sleep. And my son is being cared for by his other parent when he’s not with me. I have a decent co-parent, but he seems to be able to turn off and tune out when he doesn’t have Smiley, so when I’m on my own, I really am on my own.

But when I find myself complaining about my life, I sometimes think of some friends and how they have more difficult situations. I have friends who are single moms 100 percent of the time. But just because they have it tough, doesn’t mean my life is a breeze.

I have several friends whose exes have practically abandoned their children. But every one of those friends is in a different situation. Every situation is difficult.

One friend lives with her parents, who provide free daycare, which is a great savings, since the dad doesn’t pay child support. And her daughter gets to have a great relationship with her grandparents. But my friend doesn’t go out in the evenings or on weekends on her own because she doesn’t want to take advantage of her parents since they already watch her daughter so much of the time. Plus she is thirtysomething and lives with her parents.

One friend lives very close to her parents and has two sisters who are able to help with her son when she needs it. But she doesn’t get a dime of child support, and her ex-husband calls in the middle of the night to berate her, not to talk to his son. He lives out of town and has dropped off forms in the mailbox while his son is at school, never making arrangements to see him. And this friend is very strong and independent and doesn’t like to ask for help. (I know she’s reading, and I would like to say “Hi, I love you, and asking for help doesn’t make you weak. And please remind me of this when I am down on myself for needing help.”)

I try not to focus on the deficiencies in my life, but sometimes it’s difficult not to.

I miss my son–so very much–when he’s with his dad. Sure, both of those friends have their kids 100 percent of the time and they don’t have to run any decisions by their exes, but they don’t get any regular time off. Sure, both of those friends have parents and family members around who can help them and I don’t, but I get breaks every few days and my ex is finally paying child support. The numbers don’t add up. There’s no winner in this situation.

Hardship is not a zero-sum game. Just because it’s hard for you doesn’t mean it isn’t hard for me. It’s just hard in a different way.

This isn’t actually a response to Lil’ Devil Mama’s post. I completely understand where she’s coming from.  I had already been drafting a post about this topic and her post just inspired me to finish it. I know there are some ways I have it easier than others, but that doesn’t mean it is easy.

Also, please read Chopper Papa’s take on deadbeat dads. It is powerful.

The Outlaw, Part 2

(I’d cue “Western standoff music,” but I still have that blasted song in my head.)

As I said previously, my ex-husband’s friends and social circle closed ranks around him after I “abandoned” him.

It was devastating, but I built my own social network by reconnecting with old friends and fostering new friendships, and I got past it.

But a few months later, people started reaching out.

I remained friends on FB with many of the ex’s friends (I still do, even though I’m starting to weed them out), and when one of his college buddies posted about his mother’s illness, I sent him a note wishing her health and luck. He wrote back filling me in and added that he liked me and we shouldn’t split up the friends without checking with those friends. I was flabbergasted. And flattered.

I went to dinner with him and his girlfriend and although they are still close with the ex, we’ve maintained a nice friendship, albeit a bit distant–they are kid-free and partiers, and it’s hard to coordinate. They like the ex, but they also see him without the rose-colored glasses with which his family sees him.

But even some family members see through him.

The ex and I split one of the holidays last year, and there was a lot of drama beforehand over how the handoff would go. He didn’t want me coming into the house and saying hi, but I refused to hand off our son in the driveway like a delivery person. (I did offer to meet him at a coffee shop.) Eventually I was “allowed” to come inside. I was completely ignored by XBIL, XSIL, and XGIL, although I said hi to each of them in turn. But something strange happened: people were happy to see me and chat with me. I like his family. I miss a lot of the extended family and it was nice to see them.

(Funny aside: One cousin’s wife had no idea we’d split up, even though it had been almost a year, and apparently she kept asking where I was. Oops!)

I was getting ready to leave and realized that one of the uncles hadn’t come over to say hi. I wasn’t surprised. He has a reputation of someone you do not want to cross–and he holds grudges like…umm…a champion grudge-holder.

As I started to leave, he came up to me and pulled me aside. I went cold. He talks very softly (which makes him more intimidating), and he motioned for me to come close. He leaned his head next to mine and said, “If you need anything, you just let us know. We love you and you’re family, no matter what.”

I just about fainted on the spot. I am getting chills right now replaying it. This man whom my ex-husband revered was embracing me. I left the house with a great smile and a warm feeling in my heart (puke, I know).

That uncle’s daughter, DC, has stayed in touch with me. She has come over to visit with me, and we’ve gone out for drinks. In fact, we went out again this week. I worried a little about trusting her, since she is on “his” side, but she is smart and cynical and she knows the score. She saw how he treated me and has seen how he treats his parents for years. (But I’m not insane–she doesn’t know the full story of The Writer and me.)

DC may be cynical and a little bitchy (god, I love her), but she is thoughtful. She sends texts on meaningful days and she sends cards to her family. She pointed out that on Father’s Day, XFIL had two cards: one from her and one from his wife. Ouch. She’s the one who gave me the idea for celebrating Grandparents’ Day for the XILs.

She goes out of her way to help her grandmother (same one mentioned in the previous post), taking a week off work to stay with the grandmother when her husband died, and is rewarded by being accused of trying to kick the grandmother out of the house, but the ex and his brother are lauded as angels when they stop by for an hour. The boys have been the grandmother’s favorites for years while DC and her sister are ignored, so it looks like XMIL comes by her attitude from her own mother.

(In fact, during drinks this week, she said that XGIL “thinks the sun shines out of his ass, and it enrages me!”)

Learning more about the ex’s family history has helped me understand who he is and how he became the man he is. I know he’ll never spend the time to examine himself, but I’m better positioned knowing this.

And knowing that other people–who have known him for a lot longer than I have–see him for who he really is and don’t think he walks on water makes me hopeful. Not that his family will turn against him or anything like that, but that my social circle will expand further to include some of them, and Smiley’s life will be better for it.

I’m an Outlaw…

…on steel horse I ride…

Actually, I do ride a motorcycle, but that’s not the point. However, I now have that song in my head, and I thought it only fair to share.

Anyway.

I read a post a few weeks ago at the Post Divorce Chronicles about “in-laws vs. outlaws.” I have most definitely become an outlaw.

My ex-MIL has two boys. Her other DIL lives a few hours away and her family is large and close. XMIL always wanted a daughter and my mom is gone (stupid euphemism, but “she’s dead” sounds so harsh), so it was a good opportunity for both of us. The relationship was never truly comfortable–my ex-in-laws are very different than my parents–but it was nice to have a figure like that in my life. My ex-husband is very close to his family, so we’d go there for dinner often, and we traveled with them. She even asked to take me shopping for and bought me some maternity clothes. I was pretty lucky, as far as mothers-in-law go.

And then I walked out on their precious little boy. My ex-husband used the words “abandoned” and “deserted” in counseling with me, so no doubt he used those words with them. He was the one who translated the situation to his family, and it was apparent.

I wouldn’t ever have asked for his parents to hear my side of the story. I just wouldn’t expect that. And as I mentioned before, he had a very tight family and a close social circle. They closed ranks around him as soon as I left.

That I should have expected, but I was a bit taken aback. Only one person made any sort of effort to keep in touch.

My ex and I committed to coparenting our son, and we worked on a relationship that would allow that, but his family stayed silent to me.

His parents came to the hospital when Smiley was born and completely overwhelmed me when we finally got to our room. It was terrible. His mother did bring dinner to the house once and she took over care of Smiley one day when I was too sick to even take care of myself. But that was the only contact we had for months.

I have reached out, when I thought to. I sent flowers for Christmas. I sent them a Grandparents’ Day card this year. I even invited them to dinner, but they had other plans. (And I tried very hard to believe that, rather than take it personally.)

When Smiley was sick a few weeks ago, XMIL called to offer an extra set of hands, which was refreshing, even if I didn’t need to take her up on it.

The relationship is slowly building. I hope they realize that the better we get along, the better it is for Smiley, but I also understand they only hear one side of things.

My ex is their baby and seemingly can do no wrong. They did not have to be his partner, if I can even call it that. He doesn’t treat them with any sort of respect, but that doesn’t seem to bother them. His mother waits on him hand and foot, and that is what he expected from me, and they didn’t seem to understand why that would have been a problem for me.

And they are products of their backgrounds. Ex-grandmother-in-law (XMIL’s mom) told my BFF’s mom–at Smiley’s first birthday party–that “No one should ever go through what ‘ex’ went through.” Umm…yeah, because what I went through was easy peasy. <deep breath>

But there’s always another side to the story.

To be continued…