“I can’t keep living a lie”

That’s what the Bee said to me, sobbing, at her birthday dinner.

It seems that she had only told 2 friends about the fact that landisdad and I have separated. And there were 3 girls coming to her birthday party—a sleepover—the next night who didn’t know about it.

She was worried that people would make fun of her. She said, “I’m supposed to be this perfect girl, and now they’ll know that I’m not perfect!”

Oh. Bee.

I told her, no one’s life is perfect. I told her that when I told people that landisdad and I were getting divorced, some were shocked, because it looked like we had the perfect life. I told her that she would see that her friends didn’t really care.

Mostly I held her while she sobbed.

12 is a hard age. I remember that.

As it turned out, I don’t think any of the girls noticed or cared when I left the party, around 9 pm. They did notice when I came back the next morning, because I was carrying a huge box of doughnuts—but I think it was the doughnuts that caught their eye, rather than me in street clothes, obviously showered.

After we ate breakfast and the  girls went home, one by one, the Bee asked if she could come back to my apartment with me. She did her homework while I did some stuff on the computer for work. She hung out with a stray kitten the kids insisted I take in, that I haven’t found a home for yet. She looked at some of her presents.

We drove back to landisdad’s for dinner, and after we ate, I came back here. Around 10, she texted me that she couldn’t sleep, and that she wanted to talk to me–I offered to call her, but she said she didn’t want to talk on the phone. I told her to think about things that made her happy at the party, and that we’d see each other today.

I don’t know what’s going on inside her head. But I’m hoping she lets me in.

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October 3, 2011. kid reaction. 5 comments.

it wasn’t until I saw one of those

“one year ago today” posts on Facebook that I remembered that today is the one year anniversary of the fight that ended my marriage.

I guess it’s progress, of a sort, that I had almost forgotten that I spent all of Labor Day weekend 2010 curled in the fetal position on the living room couch.

A lot has changed in that year.

The kids are staying with me this week, and we’re off. We’ve been doing a lot of banal stuff—shopping for school supplies and sports equipment, new shoes and outfits.

A couple of nights ago, I was lying on my bed, reading, and the Potato wandered in for a cuddle. I said to him, “you like to start and end your day with a snuggle, don’t you?” and he laughed and said, “yes.” Now, every night he comes in and lies down next to me for a few minutes—he’s already had the long-established practice of jumping into bed with me in the morning (which he does with an unseemly glee on the coldest winter mornings, with his cold feet).

The kids will be staying with me much less when the school year starts. We’ll be back to our old routine, where I spend the evening with them at their house, and come back to my apartment alone.

I wonder, if I had known a year ago what I know now, what I might have done differently.

September 2, 2011. separation. 3 comments.

Birthday Potato

I’m sorry this has been such a difficult year, Potato.

On the one hand, last year landisdad and I were fighting so much, we practically forgot your birthday. That didn’t happen this year.

This year, we planned your party in June. We had a cake ordered weeks before your party. We went out of our way to make it special, to make the new normal good.

It wasn’t perfect—nothing ever is—but you seemed happy with it.

When I woke up this morning, and we weren’t together, it was very, very hard. I texted your dad to give you a birthday hug & kiss from me, and I cried. He sent me a picture of you eating your breakfast, and I cried harder.

At the end of the day, I met you and dad and the Bee at the house, and we opened presents. You didn’t seem to mind getting extra Legos. 🙂

We went out to dinner, and the new normal seemed pretty much like the old normal. And now I’m home, crying again.

I wish that it didn’t have to be this way. I’m glad that you don’t seem to mind too much. I hope that your birthday will always be a day of happiness and celebration of you, that you will always be surrounded by people who think you’re special.

You are a wonderful boy, and I am prouder every day to be your mom. I can’t wait till you come over tomorrow night, so we can build things together.

August 11, 2011. family life, the new normal, thoughtful parenting. 4 comments.

rock of the day

The kids and I are on the first vacation of our new family formation. It’s unutterably strange, to be on vacation without landisdad. The last time we came to this spot on Cape Cod, we were all together, of course. He and I slept together in the bed that I now inhabit alone—though the Bee has climbed in with me, once or twice, for early-morning cuddles. He cooked the meals we ate that weren’t in a restaurant. His mom came to stay with a nearby friend, and babysat for us so we could go out to dinner alone. He even made the coffee in the French press every day—I had forgotten how, to my chagrin, and was forced to resort to teh google the first morning we were here.

I have a little ceramic dish on my desk at the office, of stones & shells like these from the Cape. I like to play with them while I’m on one after another interminable conference call during my work day. I have certain favorite rocks for certain kinds of calls—the flat ones for when I’m talking to just one person, and need to concentrate—the more triangulated rectangle with a stripe for when I’m on a national call & just listening (and maybe daydreaming a little).

I love the rocks of the Cape.

I left a similar dish behind in the bathroom that we refinished, the same year that we last came to the Cape—the bathroom that was inspired by our Cape vacation, with its sky-blue walls, and pictures of that year’s Cape rocks. For those of you who are my Facebook friends*, you may remember that for years my profile photo was a picture of a rock—a picture that still hangs on the wall, in the house I left behind.

Last time, I had to make a rule that the kids couldn’t bring home more than one rock for each day of our vacation, or they would’ve emptied the beach. Everyone is able to pick more than one Rock of the Day, of course—but at the end of the trip, some of them are staying behind. Today, the Potato convinced me to add one extra rock—the Random Rock.

I think we’re weaving a fine line between repeating some things that were familiar from the past, and making some new traditions. The rocks help. They are a constant, reminding us that while some things are changing, some other things will always be the same.

 

*and if you’re still reading this blog and we’re not FB friends? We should be! Unless you’re a Facebook resister, in which case, more power to you.

 

 

 

July 26, 2011. the new normal. 5 comments.

I was not angry since I came to France, until this instant

Today is one of the angriest days I’ve had in this whole separation.

I’ve had the kids all weekend, which means landisdad is coming here for dinner (per our new normal–the parent with whom the kids spend the weekend hosts Sunday dinner). And I am so fucking angry I will barely be able to look at him.

I spend a lot of time trying not to think about how mad I am about this whole situation. Not trying to think about the things he couldn’t or wouldn’t change about himself, about the things he couldn’t or wouldn’t learn to accept about me.

The marriage is over. I’m moving on. There’s not a lot of point about continuing to be angry all the time. Some things are never getting resolved, and in the interest of our children’s future happiness & strength, we need to avoid having the  kind of conflict that happens when one partner decides they have to be the victor, that there has to be some kind of resolution that involves a winner and a loser.

Today, I’m struggling hard against that feeling, though.

Struggling not to feel resentful about all the things that went wrong that were his fault.

Struggling not to feel resentful about the fact that our daughter felt like she had to make me pancakes for breakfast, because he wasn’t here to do it (or I wasn’t there, to be ‘like it normally is’).

Struggling not to feel angry about the fact that my son has to worry that I am lonely in my new apartment, and to wish that he had enough money to buy me a big house to live in so I don’t feel cramped.

And yes, though I am loathe to admit it, even to myself, struggling not to feel resentful about the fact that he didn’t help the kids figure out some kind of way of celebrating, as he has every other year. In a year that we are supposed to be trying to figure out how to create as much stability as possible, he utterly failed to behave like he has every other year.

My daughter wrote me a song for Mother’s Day, and played it on her guitar. And it was beautiful. And my son wrote a long card for me at school, which while somewhat heartbreaking, was also beautiful.  I’m trying to focus on those positive, wonderful things.

But it’s hard to get past the anger.

We have another appointment with the mediator tomorrow, and we’re supposed to be making our parenting plan. Instead, I’d like to spend that hour & a half yelling at him. But I suppose that would be a ginormous waste of $450.

May 8, 2011. separation. 6 comments.

on the day before the revolution, I baked brownies

Since we made the decision to pull the Potato out of aftercare, I have been really struggling with the work-life balance. Having to stop whatever I’m doing to make it to the elementary school pick-up is challenging, and I’ve been working on a big event that is consuming a huge amount of my mental time.

Add it to the fact that last week, the Bee had to be at school every night at 5:30, and I’m feeling that old, doing everything half-assed and nothing well kind of feeling.

Not today, though.

Because today I baked brownies for the teachers’ appreciation lunch at school. And let the boy have a playdate with his best friend. And killed about 700,000 emails, phone calls, texts and IMs.

Why did I bake brownies on the day before what will possibly be the biggest event of my year?

Because I am a dumbass who likes to think I can do everything.

Also, non-custodial mother guilt.

That is all.

P.S.–the brownies weren’t even that good.

May 2, 2011. politically motivated, separation. 1 comment.

my growing girl-woman

I brushed the Bee’s hair tonight for the first time in I-can’t-remember-how-long. A year? The Bee in fourth grade decided that she would be in charge of her own grooming–that she’d shower herself, brush her own hair, apply ridiculously smelly tween-girl body lotion. To be honest, I was relieved, as the Bee is tender-headed, and hair-brushing night was never all that fun for me.

But now, she’s in a play, and needs to wear her hair in a tight bun. My tight bun skills are somewhat lacking, but they’re better than hers, so I was drafted into service.

Her hair is long again–she cut it short in third grade, but it’s been slowly growing back, and it’s almost waist-length now. The texture of her hair has changed–it’s not that soft little kid hair any more, it’s become thicker and coarser, more adult. She’s also seemingly less tender-headed, which is nice–she didn’t complain once about the poking of various bobby pins.

My girl is growing up into a woman; at 11 and a half she’s almost as tall as I am. It’s nice to be reminded that she still needs me for some things, as she is almost scarily competent at everything. Some would say she follows her mother in that :).

The kids are on spring break this week, and I’ve been flexing my work hours to get the Bee to her dress rehearsals every night. Between that and the Potato’s lack of after-school care, I’ve spent more time with the kids in daylight than before I moved out, which is lovely.

It’s good to feel that our paths continue along the same track, no matter if my path diverged from landisdad’s.

April 27, 2011. the new normal. 1 comment.

this year’s Easter was better than last

last year’s Easter occupied a painful, unbloggable space.

This year’s Easter is the first holiday we have spent in our new family configuration. I got up at 6 am and drove to the old house, where landisdad had hidden all the eggs by himself. I bought the stuff for the Easter baskets, and he constructed them. The kids ran around and found the eggs, then sat inspecting the contents of their baskets. The Bee put on her new lip gloss. The Potato constructed some legos.

Landisdad made pancakes, and we all ate breakfast together, then lolled around in a sugar coma for awhile. Everyone else got dressed, and we went out to a playground, then to a local museum. We came home, napped or read, listened to baseball.

The Bee and landisdad made dinner (in our new tradition of Sunday night family dinners, the Bee is very much enjoying her role as sous chef–either at my place or at the old house). And soon we will eat it.

Later, the kids will watch some tv. I might fold some laundry. They’ll shower, and get ready for their week at camp during spring break.

It’s eerily normal, except at the end, I’ll go back to my apartment and sleep alone, while landisdad sleeps alone here.

How much can change in a year.

April 24, 2011. the new normal. 4 comments.

two months in

to our new lives, and there’s sort of starting to be a routine.

The kids have real beds at my apartment now, no more sleeping on air mattresses. The couch is slated to be delivered during Spring Break. And today, I broke down and bought a TV. With built-in DVD player, because no matter what, it makes no economic sense at all for me to pay for cable for the 4-6 days a month they will be staying here.

Landisdad and I have an appointment with a mediator. We’ve had some squabbles here and there, but I’m happy to report that we continue to be able to have an open line of communication and little disagreement when it comes to dealing with kid issues.

The Potato’s behavior has crystallized somewhat into: “every weekend that I’m at mom’s, I’ll have a meltdown.” The good thing about spending so much time with him during the week, since he’s no longer going to aftercare, is that I’ve been reassured that this really is about the changes in his schedule and surroundings, and isn’t proof that he hates me forever.

When I’m at their house, or he’s at my office, he’s fine. It’s only here that he hates me :).

Next weekend is Easter, the first major holiday since our separation. Originally, landisdad was planning on taking the kids to visit his mom for the weekend, but the Potato freaked out that we wouldn’t be having our normal Easter egg hunt at home, so we shelved that plan. Now, I’ll be heading over there at the crack of dark to be there when they wake up.

The kids wanted me to sleep over, and I have stayed there when landisdad’s been away. But it’s weird every time. It’s just not my place anymore, and I don’t feel comfortable. I wish it wasn’t like that, but it is.

April 17, 2011. separation. 3 comments.

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