Now is Good.

Just because life hands you lemons doesn't mean you have to suck.

Complimentary Music November 29, 2010

Filed under: Change,divorce,Friends,Music,New start — nowisgoodblog @ 11:31 pm
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Is there any greater compliment than someone telling you they think of you when they hear a particular piece of music?  Well, maybe there is.  But still, I LOVE that particular compliment.  I love and appreciate that there are people out there—some close by, some far away—that have me on their minds.

Should I not admit that?  Is it an embarrassment of ego?  Maybe.  But I just think it’s nice to get a glimpse of how others see us … especially if they see us the way we see ourselves on our rare good days.   It comforts me and it somehow makes me feel safe.  It makes me feel known (which is a feeling that disappeared with the implosion of my marriage, and one of the things I miss the most).

I love that they take the time to tell me.  They certainly don’t have to.  When they do, though, it often makes my day, and it’s made me start trying to pay it forward on occasion—to start sending the quick email or text just to say hey, just to say I’m thinking of you, just to say I’m in your corner, just to say keep on keeping on, just to say this song reminds me of you.

Here’s some new weird and wonderful music that makes me feel hopeful and makes me feel really happy that someone thought of me when they heard it.  Check out Cloud Cult’s “You’ll Be Bright”:

And thanks, Maggie.  :-)

 

Giving Thanks. November 25, 2010

Filed under: Thanks — nowisgoodblog @ 4:04 pm

Today is my birthday.  My 39th birthday (which means that next year is going to be a doozy, but we’re going to ostrich that for the moment).  Avery, Owen and Amelia are with The Ex for Thanksgiving.  I am on vacation, and although I miss my children terribly, I am relaxed and happy and surrounded by people who love and support me.  I know that sometimes this blog can be a little heavy.  I prefer the more uplifting and positive entries myself, but the truth is that this blog is where I work through a lot of my bad stuff.  And that means that oftentimes I sign off and leave everyone (me included) a little … angst-y.

Today, though?  Today I’m determined to be nothing but thankful.  My life is rich and ripe with blessings:  my health, my education, my children, my strength, my job.  My life is also full of SO, SO many wonderful people.  Today I want to give thanks for them.  To them.  In no particular order:

I am thankful for my parents, who continue to love me and support me and take care of me,and who have shown me that this parenting job is a lifetime gig.

I am thankful for my mom, whose example I try to emulate, and thankful that she is not batshit crazy (as so many of my friends’ moms are).

I am thankful for my dad, who has always tried to build me up rather than tear me down.

I am thankful for Caroline, who mothers my children, pulls me down from the rafters, and holds my hand through so many of life’s twists and turns.

I am thankful for Avery and Owen and Amelia, who each make me SO proud and humbled Every.Single.Day.

I am thankful for Jennifer, who inspired me to start writing again, who always makes me laugh, who analyzes the crap out of life and motherhood and womanhood with me, and who is always looking for the next adventure.

I am thankful for Taline, because she always sees the very best in everyone—even when there’s not much best to see.

I am thankful for Clare, whom I’ve never met but consider a friend and a kindred spirit, and who does a bang-up job of showing me that this path I’m on can continue straight and true and be rife with fulfillment along the way.

I am thankful for Elizabeth, whose fun-loving spirit makes me try harder to let things roll off my back.

I am thankful for Lauren, with whom my relationship today has been hard-earned, but well worth the effort.

I am thankful for Tony, who mows my yard and fixes my computer and keeps my dogs and praises my single-parent efforts (and he knows how tough it is).

I am thankful for Jason, who came out of the woodwork after 20+ years to be a kind and thoughtful source of support for me—you’re a good man.

I am thankful for Sheri, who is always willing to grab a bite or a glass at the last-minute, and whose relationship requires zero effort to maintain—everyone needs that easiest of friends.  I’m glad you’re still one of mine after 25 years.

I am thankful for Mindy, with whom I can share all of my worst parenting moments without fear of judgment, and who is truly my sister from another mister (making me a smidge Jewish, I’ve decided).

I am thankful for Wendi and Lisa and Stacey and Lindsey and DE and Amy and Ann and Jenny—whom I’ve met once or not at all, but whose writing either makes me laugh or makes me think or makes me cry or all of the above.  I read a lot of blogs, but (after Jennifer’s and Clare’s) yours are the ones I read first—your words make my days richer.

I am thankful for my children’s teachers, because they love and care and help me raise these kids of mine.

I am thankful that The Ex has remained a fully integrated part of our children’s lives.  I am thankful that he wants to spend time with them, that he attends games and practices and meetings and programs and doctors’ appointments and birthdays, and that he leaves The Girlfriend at home when he does so.

I am thankful for Facebook (ok, not technically a person).  And that’s cheesy, I know, but it has reconnected me or kept me connected with so very many people that I otherwise might not be in touch with right now, like Maggie and Kathryn and Craig and Laura and Brent and Debra and Keith and Amy and Amy and Cate and Theresa and Karin and Sarah and so very many others.

I am thankful for each and every person that reads this blog and then takes the time to comment or send me an email.  I am awed by your generosity and utterly glad to be the recipient of it.

I am thankful for Tommy and for Chris, who always make me laugh.

I am thankful for my high school friends—Jennifer and Robin and Robyn and Elaine and Andi and DeeDee and Patrice and Amy—for reminding me of the importance of girlfriends, for rallying around me when I needed you, for praising and supporting and loving me and each other, and for giving me a sense of stability and lifelong friendship that I never really had before.  And for Sam and Danielle and Briana and Melanie, whom I don’t see as often but enjoy just as much when I do.

I am thankful for Alan, who always manages to put a smile on my face, even when smiling seems most impossible.

I am thankful for Morgan, who loves and teaches my children.

I am thankful for Sheri (again) and Dorian and Brook and Casie and Jolene and Dina and Kelly and our wine nights—you’ve made me like this town of ours a whole lot more.

I am thankful for all the people I’m forgetting to thank, whose words and emails and texts of support seem to come at the most random (but perfect) of times, and I am thankful that they’ll forgive me for not mentioning them specifically by name because I’m getting old and forgetful and because my life has too many bounties of riches to be named one by one.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

 

Moments. November 22, 2010

Filed under: 3 kids,Balance,divorce,Realizations,Single parenting — nowisgoodblog @ 6:47 pm
Tags: , ,

Most of my life goes by in a blur, multi-tasking, doing three things at once and thinking about none of them because I’m already thinking about the three things I’ll be doing next. I return phone calls while packing lunches and loading the dishwasher.  I do laundry while billing hours and making doctor’s appointments.  I bathe kids while sweeping the floor and helping with homework.  I run errands and shop for groceries and make school art projects and think about decorating and buying for Christmas.  In between all of that, I meet with realtors about putting my house on the market, I fret about money and home repairs and Amelia’s cough that just won’t go away.  I hustle and bustle and stress and regret that I never seem to have enough quality time to just BE with my children.  Life blurs.

But occasionally, there are moments when everything stops.  Moments that demand focus and attention.  Moments that arrest the blur and hold everything in freeze-frame.

Some moments are bad: the toilet overflows, a full mug of coffee spills on the carpet, a glass breaks around barefoot children, the vet informs it is time for a long-loved pet to be put to sleep.  These moments shove their way to the front of the line and insist upon being addressed immediately, no matter what.  Each of these moments happened to me today, all before 10 a.m.  Crazy day.

Thankfully, though, some moments are good.  Some moments are so pure and whole they should be bottled.  They are sweet in their perfection and they, too, make everything else fall away.  They, too, demand my full attention.

A younger sister watches her older brother with awe as he does something random like bobbing for apples on the kitchen floor:

An older sister voluntarily reads to her brother in the car:

A son trash-talks his mom during a Mama/Son flag football game (and then makes good on the threats and kicks the Mamas’ butts):

My baby dances with unselfconscious abandon (sorry for the sound quality):

A passing hug, an unbidden squeeze or kiss, a requested book read, an unprompted “Thank you, Mama.”  Those are good moments, and there are plenty of them.

Still other moments are both pleasure and pain.  My kids telling me goodbye tonight, repeatedly, lovingly, intensely, before they left to go away for a week.  Amelia saying, “I want to spend all my every days with you.”  One more hug, one more kiss, one more tear, one more “I love you,” one more “Be careful.”  One more.  And then one more.  And then one more again.  It’s never too much.  It’s never enough.

Good, bad, or a mix of both, these moments are where the memories are made.  They keep my life from speeding by unnoticed and unappreciated.  They have weight and value—even when they cause pain, but especially when they create joy.  And I am grateful for them.

 

Setting A Good Example. November 17, 2010

Filed under: Childhood,Motherhood,Realizations,Thanks — nowisgoodblog @ 2:11 pm
Tags: , ,

A CERTAIN PERSON has expressed a desire for a happier post from me.  (As though I’m here for his entertainment and not for my own selfish therapeutic needs!)  But because this person has been terrifically supportive and because I know he is only asking so that he can: (A) stop worrying about my sad; and (B) stop having his daughter include me in her nightly prayers (yes, she really does that, so I’m told), here’s a bit of uplift for today:

I walked into Avery’s room at bedtime the other night and saw this:

Just hanging there on her bulletin board.  No discussion about it, no sharing, no explanation.  Just … there.

I asked her when she wrote these.  Last night.

I asked her what prompted the list.  I don’t know.  I just wanted to write them down so I could remember them.

I asked her if she came up them all on her own.  I did.

I asked her if it was hard coming up with so many great rules. No.  I have lots more but I ran out of room on the paper.

It’s a little humbling to be life-lesson-gobsmacked by an 8-year-old.  And also quite a large thing in the mama-pride-inducing department.  Today I’m taking a page out of Avery’s book and following her good example.

And then I’m gonna work on her spelling.

 

I A Little Crying. November 16, 2010

Last night we were sitting on the sofa watching TV.  A father and a son and were in some sort of danger and Amelia said, “I don’t want that daddy to leave that little boy.”  I told her he wouldn’t, that he would stay with his little boy and keep him safe.  And she kept watching and a single tear rolled down her cheek—the first empathetic tear I’ve ever seen her shed.  It surprised me, and it surprised her.  She wiped it away and said, “I don’t want that daddy to leave that little boy, and my eyes are wet because I a little crying.”

This whole time, I’ve felt certain that the divorce had been and would continue to be easier for Amelia than for Avery and Owen.  It’s always broken my heart that she’ll never remember our family being “normal” or have memories of seeing her parents love each other, but I assumed that not knowing what she was missing would always make the absence easier to bear.  Lately, I’m not so sure.

Amelia’s been clingy with me for the past month or so.  She doesn’t want me to leave her at school, she doesn’t want to stay with a babysitter (even if I’m working from home) and she holds on tight with an “I want to go with you, Mommy” whenever I leave her at her dad’s.  Normal separation anxiety, I presumed.  But for the past few days, while she’s been with me, she’s also started saying, “I don’t want Daddy to leave.”

Never mind that there is, to me, a telling semantic distinction between “I want to go with you, Mommy” and “I don’t want Daddy to leave.”   Never mind that I am the one losing sleep when she cries for him in the middle of the night, because she knows his presence is the one thing I can’t give to her.  Never mind that it makes me angry at him all over again for doing this to the kids and to me.  Never mind that Daddy already left.

What bothers me most is that even though she has no recollection of her life and her households and her parents being anything other than the way they are right now, she wants it a different way—she wants it the way it is supposed to be.  She wants to be with me and with her dad.  And of course she does.  Why wouldn’t she?

I do wonder where it’s coming from and why it’s coming now.  Is it ingrained, like some genetic or racial memory that lies under the surface of her subconscious, waiting to be triggered?  Does she have some latent mental image of us all living under one roof?  Has she seen mommies and daddies together at school or on TV and somehow known that that is a better set-up than what she has?  I don’t know, but I know for some reason she feels apprehensive about the way things are now, and I know that there is no way for me to reassure her about any of it.  I know that when a child hits that developmental stage where they realize their parents might not always be around (and not being up on my child psychology, I don’t know if she’s at an appropriate age for that or not), it has to exacerbate the fear of loss when you don’t see both parents on a daily basis—when you don’t get that nightly dose of the family being put back together again, being whole, being safe.

So, because I just don’t have enough to worry about these days (really, where IS that sarcasm font when you need it?), now I’m worried about the child I wasn’t worried about previously.  I’m wondering how our divorce will affect her in ways I can’t yet see or predict.  And I a little crying, too.

 

Home Sweet Home. November 13, 2010

Filed under: 3 kids,Change,Childhood,divorce,New start — nowisgoodblog @ 9:05 am
Tags: ,

It’s time to sell my house.

I moved around a lot as a kid.  I think the longest I ever lived in a house was four years.  I remember every house with specificity—my bedrooms, my hiding places, my backyards, my Christmases and Halloweens and birthdays and Easters.  I remember them warmly and I remember each house fondly, but I never had A House I Grew Up In.  And I always wanted one.

The house I live in now was supposed to be that house.  For my kids, but also for me.  It was supposed to be where we changed their diapers and watched them grow up.  It was supposed to be where they lost their teeth and slid down banisters and had sleepovers and waited up for Santa.  It was supposed to be where they invited their first boyfriends/girlfriends over (and where I nosily peeked around corners to see if I could catch their first kisses).  It was where we started this:

and where we were supposed to continue marking the tops of their heads until their heights long surpassed my own.

When we divorced last year, I kept the house.  I dipped into savings and bought out The Ex and I stayed.  Mostly because I wanted to keep things as stable as possible for the kids, but also partially because it was my home, and because damned if I was going to let The Ex take that away from me, too.  Was staying the best financial decision?  Probably not.  But undoubtedly it was the right emotional choice at the time and I’ll always be unspeakably grateful for my parents’ generous assistance in helping me stay here for as long as I have.

Over a year later, here we are—and the house has become too big and too expensive and too filled with ghosts for me to stay.  One of the biggest bitches of divorce is the way it keeps finding room to hammer yet another nail in the coffin.  Selling this house and leaving that growth chart on the pantry door will be just one more of my dreams stifled; one more piece of my planned life taken away.  Sometimes I wonder how far in the future I’ll have to go before the last such hopeful image is erased.

So.  I’m looking at houses online and trying to find the next house I can make into our home.  I’m trying to figure out budgets and down payments and moving costs and elementary school zones.  And on the days I remember to wear my Think Positive Pants, I actually get a little bit excited about it.  About finding something that is just for me and my kids.  About starting over where the beginning number is four instead of five-minus-one.  About making it OUR home.  About living in a space where the memories don’t hurt.  I’m hoping for the best (hope for me too, please?).

But before any of that potential good can happen, I have to get my house ready to sell.  I have to clean out closets and make repairs and update bathrooms and paint and paint and paint and paint … including over that sentimental growth chart.  I feel beaten just thinking about it, but I know I have to make it competitive in this buyer’s market and sucky economy.  And I have to come to terms with the fact that after I do that, after I spend countless hours and untold frustration and a decent chunk of money getting it sale-ready, I get to list it for … exactly what we paid for it four years ago.  You know what?  Losing money on this place does not at all ease the sting of having to sell.  (Note to the kiddies out there:  don’t buy in a seller’s market and sell in a buyer’s market, you backwards fraks.)

I know that a house doesn’t make a home and I know that in the grand scheme of things this isn’t a big deal and I know that losing money on a sale now is smarter than continuing to hemorrhage cash on a monthly basis until the market turns around at some point (probably far, far) into the future, and I know it will all be ok.  I really, truly do.  But it still sucks.

I’m already homesick for the house I haven’t left yet.

 

My Birthday Boy. November 3, 2010

Dear O–

Six years and 11 days ago (yeah, I’m late), this little bundle of joy arrived in the world:

Owen, 1 week old

That’s you.  Except even then you weren’t very little.  Nine pounds and six ounces, one week early, arriving via the route God intended you to (although with the help of a sweet, sweet epidural).  You made Avery a sister.  You made our threesome a foursome.  For a little while, you made us a picture-book family: one girl, one boy, two years apart in age.  You were the first boy to bless my extended family.  You were, and still are, THE Boy.

Owen, Age 1

I used to think men and women were basically the same.  You taught me otherwise.  You opened my eyes to the inherent biological differences between the genders, and those differences still amaze me daily.  I don’t just mean the physical, of course (although your unabashed fondness for your male parts has always been a love affair in the grandest tradition), but the more intangible things that I just never realized existed.  The things that prove to me that you are cut from a wholly different cloth than your sisters and I are.

You took longer to begin talking, but quickly caught up once you started.  Long before you spoke words, however, you made noises.  Motor noises and engine noises and noises of action.  Put a truck or car or plane in your hand and you immediately set it in motion, complete with sound effects.  You still do that, and now your repertoire has expanded to weaponry.  You play-fight at anything, with anything.  There are constant epic battles waged in your imagination.  I quickly realized the folly of any passing thought I had to disallow your ownership of toy guns or swords or knives. It didn’t matter if I gave you those types of toys—you would grab a paper towel roll, a stick, your sister’s fairy wands … all were instantly wielded with the same brute force and imaginary violence.

Owen, Age 2

You’ve always made friends easily.  When all else fails, you connect with your peers on a sports field.  You seem popular.  When you were two, your preschool teacher told me she thought you’d end up being the president of your college fraternity, because all the girls thought you were cute and all the boys copied everything you did.  That’s you on the far right in the class photo above, totally chillaxed.  You are confident.  You are funny.  You are still big and strong.  At your 6-year checkup this morning, you still (as you always have) measured above the 90th percentile for height and weight.  The doctor said you just absolutely couldn’t be any healthier than you are—and that is music to my ears.

Owen, Age 3

You don’t walk when you can run.  You don’t say when you can show.  You don’t travel around a piece of furniture if you can launch yourself over its top.  You demolish baseboards and walls and crown molding and furniture and carpets and Every.Single.Toy.  You don’t explain your feelings so much as you spew them forth in uncontrolled outbursts.  You get frustrated easily and often, and don’t handle it very well when you do.  You’re not overly concerned with punishment—you don’t like it when you get it, but the threat of it is rarely a sufficient motivator to prevent you from doing something you know you’re not supposed to do.

Your physical self is ALL boy.  All sweaty, muscle-y, forceful and fierce BOY.

Owen, Age 4

But oh, your heart.  Your heart is sweet.  You love intensely.  You compliment me frequently, hug me tightly, kiss me sweetly.  Until recently, you still held my hand in public, even in front of your friends.  Now you’ll usually only do it if the other boys are doing it, too, and that’s ok.  I understand.  But know that when you do still willingly slip your little hand in mine, I’m as happy about it as I was the first time a boy ever held my hand.  I would hold your hand forever, my little man.  You draw me pictures and write me love notes and build me things … all the time.  You come downstairs and get in bed with me almost every night.  You tell me I’m “the best mom in the world” … at least once a day.

Owen, Age 5

You worship your dad, and sometimes that scares me.  I want you to be stronger than he is.  I want you to be more upstanding and to make better decisions and to have more honor.  I worry that I won’t know how to teach you to be the kind of man you should be.  I know that I’m your example of women, and that for awhile longer, anyway, all other women in your life will be compared to and measured against me.  And the responsibility of that worries me, too, because I’m not sure I measure up.  But I worry about a lot of things, and hopefully they’ll all turn out just fine.

Mostly, though, I’m just so grateful that I’ve gotten to be your mom for the past six years.  You try my patience and shred my nerves, and quite often leave me at a total parenting loss with zero idea how best to communicate with you or teach you or shape you.  We are, after all, different creatures.  But you, my darling boy … you make my heart swell and you fascinate me and you fill me with such immense pride.  On balance, you make me see men in a different light.  A better light.  A more hopeful light.  Odd, the power that a little boy holds.

Owen, Age 6

Happy belated birthday, Bubba.  I love you more than you’ll ever know.

 

Taking Flight. November 1, 2010

Filed under: 3 kids,Balance,Free time,Realizations — nowisgoodblog @ 5:58 am
Tags: ,

We went to our first air show this weekend.  First for me, first for my kids.  We were belatedly celebrating Owen’s birthday with my parents and my sisters, and the Blue Angels performing at an air field near my house seemed like a good way to spend the afternoon.  It turned out to be a gorgeous day—sunny and warm but breezy.  The kids were well-behaved and LOVED the air show (or, “airplane show” as Amelia called it).

I got to spend some time with my parents and my sister Caroline, and I really, really like spending time with them.  My Dad was in the Navy, so watching Navy planes was especially cool for him, I think, and especially meaningful for us to get to share that with him.

I got to laugh at things like Owen trying to use binoculars (apparently for the first time) and saying, “These are messed up—they make everything look so close!”

I got to spend an entire afternoon actually enjoying my children—and we all know that those days don’t come around as often as we’d like.

Plus, the air show was just cool.  Owen liked the speed and the noise and the way he could feel the vibrations in his chest when the planes flew directly overhead.  Avery liked the stunts.  Amelia liked it when the planes “smoked.”  I liked it all.  Watching the Blue Angels fly was breathtaking.  Amazing.  Exciting.  Exhilarating.

These guys fly at top speeds of 700 mph (just under Mach 1).  They fly at the closest of ranges in the tightest of formations, often flying less than 24″ apart (I’ve read that by the end of the season, after they’ve continued to perfect the routine, they occasionally get as close as 12″).

That alone is almost impossible for me to comprehend.  But what’s even more stunning is that when they fly—when these guys are mere inches away from each other at close to the speed of sound—the pilots aren’t looking where they’re going.  Instead of looking at what’s in front of them, they fly with their heads turned to the side … watching the man on their wing.

When you’re flying in cleared air space, I guess you’re much less concerned about what may arise in front of you than you are about the aircraft that is close enough alongside to reach out and touch.  It’s logical.  But it’s also poetic, and the imagery of it has burrowed into my brain.  They’re flying blind (not really, but that’s the image).  They’re flying blind, and they’re achieving marvelous things.

They aren’t focusing on the unknown, on all the things that could pop up in front of them, on those things that may or may not ever arise.  Instead, they’re focusing on the here and now.  The present concerns.  The most pressing dangers and need for caution.

They’re controlling what they can control, and not focusing on what they can’t.

They’re watching their wingmen and directing their full attention toward those closest to them.  The ones on whom they depend.  The ones who depend on them.

It must be tough to train yourself to keep that side viewpoint.  It has to go against your better instinct not to watch where you’re going when what you’re going is 700 miles per hour.  But isn’t that a good analogy for getting through life successfully?  Isn’t that what we all should be doing?  It seems to me that focusing on the most real and present dangers, making the tiniest of adjustments here and there in order to stay safe and stay on course, looking out for those people closest to us and letting them look out for us, and not worrying about the road (or sky) up ahead—that’s a pretty smart way to fly.

 

 
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