Now is Good.

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

The Unlived Life. July 27, 2011

Filed under: Change,divorce,Divorce Perk,Marriage,Poetry,Realizations,Understanding — nowisgoodblog @ 8:15 am

Poem from I Will Not Die an Unlived Life: Reclaiming Purpose and Passion by Dawna Markova

This is so beautiful that it hurts.  I can’t read it without feeling my throat tighten.  I can’t get to its end without the words swimming a bit through my tears.  It seems written with such conviction, from a place of hard-won strength.  It seems vowed with faith and devout intent.  It is the mantra I try to keep repeating.

A good friend asked me recently if I would go back if I could.  If, knowing what I now know, growing as I am trying to grow, seeing the possibilities I now see, would I un-do what’s been done?  I think it surprised her when I couldn’t say, “no.”

Would I go back?  I might.

Not because I want The Ex back.  Not even because I want back the life we had.  But because it still hurts.  Because the loss still feels so great.  Because my children still struggle.  Because I still feel so discarded.  Because it’s still just such a damn sad thing.  Would I go back?  Maybe.  I was happy then, before.  Or at least, I thought I was happy. (And if you think you’re happy, you are, aren’t you?)

But in absolute truth, that happiness was still.  Still and silent.  It was peaceful and it was satisfying, but it was maybe just the tiniest bit dead inside.  The questions were answered.  The path was known.  The hunger was sated.  Life then (though filled with frustrations and struggles and minor irritations) was easy.  Life now … isn’t.   It isn’t always happy.  This life hurts sometimes.  The edges are sharper, the pain is more acute, the challenges are tougher.  And yet, the happiness, when it comes, isn’t still or silent.  It is loud and boisterous and visible from space.

I try to remember that this is the parting gift The Ex gave me.  He took so much.  SO much—my heart, my trust, my comfort, my stability, my faith, my belief in marriage as a worthwhile effort, my ability to be vulnerable, my plans for the future—but he left me with this.  This awakening.  This resolution to stop living my life in a dreamwalk state. This realization, sharp and painful and unexpected, that everything is fleeting.  This lesson that nothing, no matter how tightly you hold onto it, lasts forever. This appreciation for the highs and the lows and all fully-lived parts in between.

I will not die an unlived life.  And now I no longer have to.

 

Vacation. July 25, 2011

Filed under: divorce,quality time,Thanks,vacation — nowisgoodblog @ 2:25 pm
Tags: , ,

Just arrived home last night from a fabulous week-long vacation with my kiddos and my parents.  We cruised on the Allure of the Seas—the largest cruise ship afloat.  And this ship was insane:  a full-sized carousel; a high-diving aquatic and acrobatic show in a 17.5-foot-deep pool; a basketball court; a putt-putt course; two surfing simulators; an onboard zipline; a “Central Park” area with trees and plants and flowers; Dreamworks characters; a 3-D movie theater; 6,300 passengers (um, yeah) plus crew; a Kids’ Club that was out of this world, hands-down the BEST of those sorts of programs I’ve ever seen; video arcades; an ice skating rink; shopping (Coach, Guess, Britto, etc.); a spa; a casino; art around every corner that both intrigued and inspired me; a walking/jogging track that was larger than the standard outdoor track (2.4 laps = 1 mile); a production of Chicago that was as good as anything I’ve ever seen off Broadway; a bar that traveled vertically between three decks; 24-hour room service; numerous specialty restaurants, including a 7-course wine pairing meal at 150 Central Park that was one of the most enjoyable and delicious meals I’ve ever had; digital and technologically state-of-the-art everything; a Johnny Rockets and most mercifully, a Starbucks.  At Sea.

It’s still weird, sometimes, vacationing without a spouse.  Even surrounded by people I love and even when I am nowhere near alone, my left hand often feels conspicuously naked.  People assume I have a husband there, and they ask if I’m traveling with him, and I have to do the, “I’m divorced” thing.  It’s just two little words and it’s really nothing that a sizable portion of the adult population hasn’t said at one time or another, but sometimes it still feels awkward.  I’m not sure why that is, exactly, but I’ll be pretty glad when I reach the point that saying it aloud no longer feels like an embarrassment.  I’m getting better at it, though, and regardless—those isolated moments of strange don’t detract in the slightest from a fantastic week of vacation.

We built sandcastles and took ocean swims on a beach in Haiti.

We kissed dolphins and climbed Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica.

Avery got some island braids.

We slept until at least 10 a.m. … each day.  We ordered chocolate chip cookies at midnight.  We drank some pretty fabulous martinis.

We watched “Annie” on an outdoor movie screen.  We took some obligatory photos in front of the faux-ship backdrop.

We had a marvelous time.

Thanks, Mom and Dad, for another set of lifetime memories.

 

Happy Birthday, Avery. July 15, 2011

Filed under: Change,Childhood,Motherhood — nowisgoodblog @ 10:08 am
Tags:

You are nine years old today.  Nine.

I didn’t do a birthday post for you last year, sweet girl.  I’m pretty sure that is mostly because we were away on vacation on your actual birthday, having the most marvelous of Dude Ranch experiences.  But if I’m being totally and completely honest, it might also have been because I just forgot a little bit.

I do that sometimes with you … I forget.  I forget that you are still so young, because you act so responsibly.  I forget that you still need so much, because you are so self-reliant.  I forget that sometimes answering your child’s question opens a door to conversations we may not be ready to have, because your logical linear thinking gets you several steps ahead of the game before I realize we’ve gone down the rabbit hole.  I worry about forgetting these things, but I am wracked with guilt over the possibility that sometimes I may forget that you are your very own you, because you are so very much like me.

And you are like me, dear one.  Holy moly, so very much so.  First daughter of a first daughter.  Eldest sibling responsible for setting a good example for the younger ones.  A success in school, an information junkie, a child capable of having the most adult of conversations.  You are hard on yourself.  You are embarrassed by anything less than perfection.  You worry.  Your mannerisms echo mine, you parent your brother and sister as I parent, you readily adopt my thoughts and my opinions and my viewpoints.  You beam when your grandparents or your aunts say, “You are so much like your mother.”

And that scares me a little.  Because I have many, many flaws.  And although I hide the ones I can and try to explain and apologize to you for the ones I can’t, I know you see them anyway.  You see them.  I’m afraid you will copy them.  And I don’t want my flaws to become yours.

What I try to remember is that although you are like me, in body and mind and spirit in so many ways, you are also different, and so, so much better.  You, already, have bested the flaws I still fight.  You show patience far beyond what I am able to muster.  You are confident in a way I don’t recall ever being.  Like me, you are naturally shy, but you bow up to that shyness and forcibly shove it aside in a way I didn’t learn to do until I was well into my twenties.  You are fair and impartial.  You call ‘em the way you see ‘em and you don’t cut anybody any slack when they wrong you or the ones you love (I’m proud of you for that), but you forgive those you love for their transgressions (I’m proud of you for that, too).

You were a challenging baby, but you are such an easy kid.  You are respectful.  You mind.  You help.  You follow the rules.  You do your chores.  You get good grades.  You love being with your family and you love spending time with your friends and you seem to appreciate a decent amount of solo time, too.  You are a deep thinker.  You are clever and funny and kindly (but never cruelly) sarcastic.  You see and hear everything.  You want to be in the middle of it all—you insist upon being in the know.  You love to read and swim and sing and dance.  You are a fantastic big sister, and Owen and Amelia both absolutely adore you.

I love you, but I also really and truly just LIKE you so very much.  I like being around you.  I think you are an incredibly cool kid on the road to being an amazingly impressive woman.  But I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m terrified of you becoming a teenager.  I don’t want to lose you, and I know I will … at least for a little while.  The other day we were in the grocery store, just you and me, and we were laughing and teasing and giggling and talking.  I grabbed your hand and you let me (you usually don’t).  I said jokingly, but really oh-so-seriously, “Please don’t get all witchy in a few years—promise me you’ll stay as awesome as you are right now, because I just like you SO much!”  And you promised and you smiled and you held my hand, but you rolled your eyes a little.  You don’t know what’s coming, what lies ahead, what we must go through as you grow up.  I do.  I know.  And it’s coming all too quickly.

You made me a mother, which was something I always wanted to be, body and soul, so very much, for as far back as I can remember.  You were, and always will be, my first.  The first everything.  Because of that, you get my best and my worst, my wonder and my weakness.  Mothering the first child is, by necessity I suppose, trial and error—I fly by the seat of my pants with you.  I know I make mistakes, but I hope you know I revel in all you do.  You opened a door in my heart to a love I never imagined—one that still overwhelms me with its strength and steadfastness.

Happy Birthday to my perfect girl.  My first daughter.  My eldest child.  My me.  My you.  I am so awfully, all-consumingly proud of you.

 

Highlights. July 13, 2011

Filed under: 3 kids,Change,Help,New start — nowisgoodblog @ 12:45 pm
  • We.  

We moved.  It’s been all-consuming, even with extreme amounts of parental and sibling help.  (My parents and sister Caroline have been nothing short of amazing—I wish all of you could have family like this.)  As a result of Herculean effort, however, with the exception of a single room my entire house is unpacked and decorated.  Furniture has been repainted.  Pictures have been hung.  Closets have been organized.  It’s fabulous and we all love it.  (Soon I will write an entire post on this monumental putting down of new roots—I promise.)  As a bonus, my new next-door-neighbors seem lovely.  They have boys Owen’s age and they’ve been warm and welcoming and have already helped me with two separate house projects.  Really.

Despite the Guinness-Book-of-World-Records-pace of settling in, we did downsize quite a bit.  Meaning my garage looks like this:

Yeah.  I park outside for now.

  • Avery.

Avery got her ears pierced.  A year ago, on her 8th birthday, I relented to the ceaseless begging and said yes.  Then she got in the chair and chickened out.  Last week, she decided she was ready.  We went.

We pierced.

She is over the moon and I am speechless at how quickly my little girl is blossoming into someone entirely different, right before my eyes.  She turns 9 on Friday and is gearing up for the slumber party whose planning has been graciously commandeered by her Aunt Elizabeth … and I’m not sure that even the recent wedding of Will and Kate required more lists and telephone conferences and schedules and general fretting than this birthday celebration of my eldest daughter.

  • Owen.

Owen learned to ride a bike.  (Finally.)  Quite some time ago, The Ex took the kids’ bikes to his place with plans to teach them to ride.  He didn’t do it.  My bikes got broken somehow.  The Ex bought them new bikes, which have sat unused.  The week of my move, one of my oldest and dearest friends rolled into town to assist with the packing (THAT is a good friend, folks).  In about five minutes flat, she taught Owen to ride:

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Sorry about the weird embedded-text thing.  No time to fix.

And … now I have to go buy bikes.  He, too, is growing before my eyes.  He seems taller every day and his face is becoming harder, more angular, less soft and round and childlike.  Yesterday, he got up from the kitchen table and tossed a “BRB” over his shoulder as he walked away.  He doesn’t text yet, but he text-speaks, apparently.

  • Amelia.

Amelia learned to swim.  She took swimming lessons this spring, which mostly consisted of her crying and clinging so tightly to the teacher that she left nail marks.  Then, a few days ago, she just ditched the floaties and took off.  She is fearless (which is fearsome for me).  She’s swimming like a fish and can hold her breath a surprisingly long time.  She tries to keep up with the big kids and has even braved the diving board a few times.   Also, she has decided (and announces with annoying regularity) that I “am not the boss of” her.  And she can now sport a ponytail:

She’s never before had enough hair to do that.  It just seems … game-changing, somehow.

There have been a decent number of recent bad moments in the mix … lost pets, house closings falling through, weirdness with The Ex, general life frustrations.  But I’m insisting that those take a backseat to the events shared above.  These moments are the ones I want to hold my focus.  These are the ones I want to etch in my memory.  These are my highlights.

 

 
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