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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.