Tag Archives: Family

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.