The Bee is fifteen today. No, seriously.
Fifteen. Years. Old.
She’s practically an adult.
We went out to dinner for her birthday on Sunday night (her request–she didn’t want to be out late on a school night)–she wanted fondue, so we went to the Melting Pot. Who can argue with food that you dip into cheese or chocolate, after all?
This morning, she woke me up at 5:45 needing to use my computer to get her Algebra homework done…this afternoon, she goofily texted me about the packet of chocolate covered Acai I snuck into her lunch.
Tonight, the kids are staying at landisdad’s, as I’ve got to be on the road tomorrow–so I went over there for dinner, so we could all hang around and open presents and eat cake. Landisdad and I told the kids the story of the day she was born–with special highlights on the “labor makes mom throw up on dad” and “dad turns green after watching a nurse dig around in mom’s hand trying to hook up an IV” sections of the story. The Potato likes those parts the best (especially when he gets to say, “yeah–when you were born you made mom throw up!” because, eleven).
It’s hard to believe that she’ll only spend two more birthdays with us before she’s off to college…
After months and months of looking, I’ve finally found a house to buy, back in the town where landisdad & the kids still live. Fingers crossed, I’ll be closing and moving in mid-January.
As the kids get older, especially the Bee, their lives are just increasingly not about spending every weekend moment with me (or their dad). Living in a different town has made everything harder—weekend play practice, hanging out with friends, soccer games—you name it, we’ve gotten stuck in traffic on the way there.
For most of the summer, I looked at houses that seemed like they would require a ridiculous amount of work, but they were all I felt like I could afford.
For most of the fall, I didn’t look at all, because I was consumed by work.
Finally, my real estate agent made me look at a house that was a little outside my price range, and I did some new math, and decided to take the plunge.
I’m not really looking forward to moving, but I am looking forward to moving out of my apartment. Two years has been long enough to live here, for sure.
And I’m not really sure what it will mean, long-term, with the custody situation.
I’d like the kids to be with me more during the week, although I need to figure it out in a way that balances my work travel with their need for stability.
And the Bee still hasn’t told everyone she knows that landisdad and I separated (and in fact, are now divorced). So it’s kind of hard to imagine that she’s going to start staying with me during the week.
But it will be nice to never again have to sleep on the couch in my former house, when landisdad is out of town.
I know that won’t shock you to read.
And I know that I have, in some regard, no right to complain at all.
While you can call what I do single parenting, the reality is that I still parent my kids with a partner—and when it comes to issues around the kids & their needs & behaviors, landisdad and I are still very much in tune.
But having the kids all to myself for a week, especially while on vacation without another adult to talk to, is very hard. It’s hard not to feel ganged up on. It’s hard not to want to end every evening with alcohol.
Man, am I tired.
For all those mamas & papas out there who do this alone, every single day/week/month/year–my hat is off to you. I’m glad that I still get to share this with someone else, even if the method of sharing has changed.
The Bee woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. (Though lately, as landisdad pointed out to me recently via text message, every side of the bed is the wrong side for her. I’m hoping it’ll pass when she turns 13. Naive, I know.)
She came into my room where I was lying in bed reading, and started yelling at me about something that really didn’t have anything to do with me. I yelled back for a while, and then I took away a certain electronic device that she had been holding and threatening to hit me with.
I honestly don’t know if she will ever stop being angry. She’s been angry since birth, and since her father and I separated, the anger has been spilling out all over the place.
I have to remind myself sometimes that it’s not about me–it’s about her. I mean, there is some part of it that is about me–I’m not trying to delegitimize her anger. But at the end of the day, her anger management issues are a deeply ingrained part of her, and they get better and worse.
The only way I got her off it, this morning, was by being goofy. Apparently, the phrase “monkeys eat frozen peas” and variations of same (frozen monkeys eat peas) is just too weird, when repeated over and over again by your mother, to stay mad.
the practice of making major life decisions alone.
It was weird when I had to find an apartment, buy a bed, figure out the kitchen.
It was weird when I went on vacation alone. When I bought myself a car.
But the experience of shopping for a house alone is the weirdest yet.
Don’t get me wrong—I have friends & family to talk about it with. I have people I can bounce ideas off, can talk things through with.
It’s not the same as having a partner, though. It’s not like having someone else with skin in the game.
All my life, I’ve considered myself to be pretty independent. But the stakes in this—especially given the crash our housing markets have suffered—feel really, really high. There’s a part of me that wishes I had someone else to decide with.
How much can I afford to borrow? How much of my savings should I sink into a new place? What if I don’t keep my job—will I ever get another one that pays as well as this? How much of a fixer-upper am I willing to deal with? They all feel like unanswerable questions—or at least, questions with a narrow margin of error.
I’m getting more used to it, but it will always be strange, making all the decisions alone.
landisdad and I have gotten through the dissolution of our marital assets, and I’m starting to look for a house in the town that he and the kids live in.
A town where, for the most part, property values haven’t fallen that much. I’m starting to reconcile myself to the idea that if I do that, I will end up either a) spending a bunch of money to buy a house that needs a ton of work (probably through a short sale); or b) becoming a landlord.
I found a real estate agent last week, and we’ve started looking at places. So far, I’ve seen a place that has been an illegal rooming house for 40 years (evidence of which was provided by an elderly, blind tenant, who has lived there for 40 years), a house with a mold smell so bad that I nearly puked when we went into the basement, a house that had been gutted to Sheetrock and plywood, and a house with ivy growing through two of the window sills.
I’m seriously considering the ivy one, though a friend has warned me it may have major structural damage, if any water has gotten in.
The other possibility is that I could buy a duplex and live in one half. That would allow me to buy “more house,” because the rent income counts towards the mortgage. But the idea of becoming someone else’s landlord seems weird.
The idea of making these choices may seem crazy—but increasingly, the kids’ lives are with their friends, in their town. They’ve made it obvious that they don’t want to spend all weekend with me, and I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to spend the next ten years ferrying them back there, and then hanging out by myself while I wait for them.
There are no good choices. Only slightly less bad ones.
the things that you lose, that you never suspected were lost…
like knowing that a family friend is dying….
like having to find out that she has passed, from Twitter….
it’s always something new.
So if you’ve been missing the kid news, sorry. I’m hoping to get back on a regular blogging schedule soon…
Last week, landisdad and I completed the last transaction in our legal separation when he bought me out of the house. I am no longer a homeowner.
It’s an odd situation–while I’m still at the house nearly every day, it hasn’t really felt like mine for a while. On the other hand, I’ve now signed it over to landisdad (with the caveat in our separation agreement that I can spend parenting time there–time we both need me to be there, with the Potato no longer going to aftercare).
I feel a little less like an adult, to be honest. That’s especially true, since my apartment is once again not habitable, due to more water problems….
It’s an odd thing, to look back over the last year and realize how much has changed, and how much has remained the same.
Last year, the weekend before Thanksgiving was when landisdad and I decided that, despite all the struggle, our marriage just wasn’t working anymore. We decided to call it quits, but we didn’t want to ruin the holiday for everyone, so we kept it a secret. The whole of Thanksgiving weekend was spent with one of us dashing into the bathroom at his mom’s house to cry every ten or fifteen minutes or so. I’m sure it must have been hell for our family—it was certainly hell for the two of us.
This year, in some ways, a lot has changed. I live (mostly) alone, with the kids just sleeping here on weekends during the school year.We don’t travel together anymore. I went on my first vacation alone, well, ever.
But there are also a lot of things that are the same. We still eat dinner together, on the nights that my crazy work schedule (and the rest of the family’s life-schedule) don’t interfere. Landisdad and I are still a united front when it comes to all things parenting, although sometimes now we’re consulting via text and email, rather than face-to-face conversation.
And today, we’ll spend Thanksgiving together, along with extended family from both sides. I baked some pies, my brother’s making the turkey, landisdad is carmelizing root vegetables, and his mom bought the wine. It’s sort of Norman Rockwell meets the Brady Bunch.
And I’m grateful for that, grateful that we have this crazy family that accepts that we’re trying to do things in a non-traditional way, grateful that we can still be friends, even if we are no longer lovers. Grateful that our kids seem to be adjusting to the ‘new normal,’ and didn’t bat an eye when we told them we’d all be spending the holidays together.
I know it may not be this way forever, know that eventually we’ll develop some more traditional post-divorce holiday traditions. It’ll be hard, the first time one of us decides to spend a holiday with a new partner, instead of with the kids and ex.
I’m grateful we’re not there yet.
We did talk last night, but there wasn’t anything earth-shattering. I picked her up from field hockey practice, and she was bubbly and bright, and basically normal–complaining about another girl on the team for not trying very hard, telling me about her day, talking about their games this week. I asked her if she wanted to talk and she said yes, but that she wasn’t even sure what to talk about.
I think she’s just sad about the change to everything.
I can’t blame her, I’m sad too.
I was sitting at my computer in the dining room after dinner, and she came in and sat on my lap. She’s practically the same size as me now, so that was no easy feat. I think in some ways, we all want to go back to an easier time, and for her, it’s the time when she was a little kid.
We were looking at stuff on Facebook, and she was sort of teasing me about the lameness of my Facebook friends. She told me that I can’t friend her, when she gets a Facebook account of her own, and I said, “oh, don’t worry–I’ll just friend all your friends!” She giggled and said, “mommmm, you can’t do that!!!”
I know that for me, I do have this feeling of “when will this be over”—which mostly right now is manifesting itself in hoping that our mediator will finally send us the written mediation docs. At least the process of mediation itself would end, then.
I don’t think, though, that the feeling of wanting it to be over will end—for her or me.