Now is Good.

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

2011 Blog In Review. January 3, 2012

Filed under: Accomplishments,network,Thanks,Writing — nowisgoodblog @ 1:56 pm
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Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of Now Is Good.  I missed it (as, in all honesty, I miss most anniversaries, birthdays, and milestones).  Truth be told, I didn’t even think about it until I received my annual statistics report for the blog.  Interesting stuff.

According to WordPress,

  • Now Is Good was viewed approximately 50,000 times in 2011.  That’s a few thousand more than in Now Is Good’s first year, but pretty consistent between 2010 and 2011.
  • There were 66 new posts in 2011.  That’s not nearly as many as I’d like.  I need to write more.
  • Now Is Good’s busiest traffic day was August 31st.  When people came on that day, they read “Venting.”  It continues to fascinate me that the most painful or frustrated posts are usually the most popular. 
  • The other three most frequently read posts this year were “I A Little Crying,” “Find A Little Courage,” and “Marriage Farce.”  When I go back and re-read these, I can tap right back into the pain and turmoil of those times.  That’s a good thing, because although I don’t want to feel those ways again, I don’t want to forget those pains.  The hard times  are the ones that shape me and the ones I want to remember clearly.
  • Of my five most frequent commenters?  Four are people I’ve only “met” virtually out here in the blogosphere.  And three are folks whose own blogs I read (and comment on) regularly.
  • When people found me by doing a search, they usually appeared to be searching specifically for me, with “now is good,” “now is good blog” and “nowisgood blog” being the most commonly input terms.  Wonderfully, though, the other search terms that most frequently led people here were the words “Yes” and “Courage.”  I really like that, because those are two words I’ve found within myself as a direct result of writing here.
  • Most of my readers hail from the U.S., but there are a good number in Canada and India, too.  Readers have also landed here from Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Columbia, Chile, Argentina, UK, France, Germany, Austria, Ireland, South Africa, Egypt, Nigeria, Ghana, Namibia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand and Guam.  This boggles my mind and drives home the fact that although the world is vast, we are all interconnected.

Thank you for reading.  Thank you for commenting.  Thank you for supporting me.  Although I may go AWOL occasionally, this blog has given me a voice and a creative outlet that was very much lacking in my prior life.  You’ve given me a community, and I’m not going anywhere anytime soon.

Happy New Year, everyone.  Here’s to a magnificent 2012!

 

Good Fortune. November 29, 2011

Filed under: Thanks — nowisgoodblog @ 5:59 pm
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I don’t know what the hell I was so worried about.  40 is a snap!

Really, though, I had the most wonderful of birthdays, beginning with breakfast in bed with my kiddos, ending with a most perfect weekend trip to NYC, and chock full of emails and texts and posts and presents and calls and love and well wishes all there in between.  I’m thinking it was my best birthday ever, and I am simply overflowing with gratitude for all the wonderful people who made it their mission to ensure it was just that way.

As I continue to bask in the afterglow (and before I hit some less-pleasant topics in the coming days), I wanted to share this.  My youngest two sisters are the kind of people for whom thoughtful creativity seems to be ingrained.  The gifts and kindnesses they think up top the charts.  I don’t seem to have that gene, but I’m repeatedly glad I am able to benefit from theirs.  On my birthday morning, they presented me with this:

That’s a bucketful of 40 handmade fortune cookies.  (I didn’t even know it was possible to homemake those.)  Inside each was a different fortune, written personally for me, wishing me exactly the things I hope to discover or maintain this year.  Some were funny, some were serious, many contained references this things I’ve written about here.  All were wonderful.  In no particular order, they were:

Happy Birthday!  May all of your birthday wishes come true, including the 39 we have for you.

May this year bring you better fortune than the last 39 combined.

May Amelia start going to bed when she’s supposed to.

May Owen still reach for your hand in public.

May Avery continue to be a mirror image of her mother.

May you find beauty in the everyday things.

May your patience and maturity be rewarded.

May you bill enough hours to make a living and not enough to take away time with your kids.

May you continue to be a MILF (Funny aside: Quickly improvising, I told the kids that this stood for “Mom I’d Like to be Friends With.”)

May you continue to build strong bonds with strong women.

May you remain optimistic and cheerful without losing your classic Meredith edge.

May you continue to express yourself beautifully through the written word.

 May your strength and actions continue to inspire and motivate others.

May you continue to Let Go.

May you be well, happy, peaceful.

May you get to sleep-in once a week.

May someone invent a calorie-free wine.

May (the other half of) your garage magically clean itself.

May you know you are surrounded by love, every second of every day.

May certain situations start to take two steps forward and NO steps back.

May your quality of life depend not upon external development or material progress, but upon the inner development of peace and happiness.

May now continue to be good.

May you face facts with dignity.

May the regrets you face this year be fewer than the last.

May you continue to raise gifted, generous and genuinely good children. All that shines in them comes from you.

May you have a light heart to carry you through the hard times.

May you gain a new perspective with a new year.  

May you not just spend time; invest it.

Every day, may you find time to rest, even if just for a few minutes. You deserve it.

May you have faith that in the end, all things will be known.

May you welcome change.

May you continue to always have the best skin of the sisters. And nails.  And teeth. And waistline. (THAT is love.)

May your intelligence continue to be one your greatest assets.

May you learn a new hobby in your 40th year.

May your happiest days be before you, not behind you.

May Nathan Fillion finally call you.

May you know you are free to invent your life.

May you realize you have the best sisters in the world. For real.

May you ask for help when you need a hand. There a plenty just waiting to be held.

May you live every day with gratitude.

And if I may add the 41st, just for good measure:  May I somehow, someday, discover a way to be deserving of the unbelievably good people and immense good fortune in my life.

 

Thankful Mama. November 24, 2011

Filed under: Childhood,Dads,divorce,Motherhood,Thanks,Writing — nowisgoodblog @ 7:23 am
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Every year, my kids’ elementary school hosts Grandparents’ Day on the day the students are released for Thanksgiving holidays.  This year, Grandparents’ Day consisted of a classroom visitation and presentation of a short student program at a different time for each grade.  Since for the one and only year EVER, my three kids are all at the same campus, this meant for me (and for my parents), we were up at school at 8:15 … and again at 9:15 … and again at 1:00. Every classroom was hot and crowded and just about as exciting (or not) as you would expect a 30-minute-grade-school-program (or three) to be.  My wonderful parents attended each and every presentation because they knew it was important to their grandchildren.  They’re great like that.

On the wall outside of Owen’s classroom, “Gigi” and “Pop” were treated to this:

I’m pretty sure my mom cried.  I know my dad laughed.

I was gifted with this:

So, yes, apparently Owen is most thankful for all the fast food that his grandparents and Mom buy him (and for his Mom taking care of him when he is sick … surely not from eating all of the fast food?).  I had no idea about the assignment until I arrived at school that day, but as far as I can determine, the teacher’s prompt was to write about the reasons you were grateful for your parents and grandparents.

Owen didn’t write anything at all about The Ex.  The immature, revengeful part of me was initially glad about that—glad that Owen bestowed his thanks upon the people who (in my opinion) always put him first.  I can’t lie—I felt just a twinge of “you reap what you sow” satisfaction about The Ex’s exclusion.  The rational part of me, however, knew that the omission signified nothing.  It didn’t mean anything at all—Owen just as easily could have written about his dad and ignored me, if only a different fleeting thought had entered his head when the teacher read the assignment prompt.  A little competition followed by a little logic—those parts didn’t surprise me.

What did surprise me was the emotion that quickly followed on the heels of those first two thoughts: I felt bad for The Ex.  He was there at the program, as he always tries to be.  Owen hugged him and loved him and showered him with attention, proudly showing off his classroom and his teacher and his work displayed on the bulletin boards.  He didn’t favor me or favor his dad.  He was glad we both were there.  But there was no “Why I’m Thankful for My Dad” writing, and as a result?  I felt sorry for The Ex.

And then I felt really pissed off that I felt sorry for him.  He hasn’t given a rat’s behind about my feelings in years, from what I can tell, and he sure doesn’t deserve any compassion from me.  In fact, I’d bet money that he assumes I had a hand in that writing project somehow—that I encouraged Owen not to write about his father.  (For what it’s worth, that’s not paranoia on my part—the kids regularly repeat to me The Ex’s accusatory interrogations of them: “Did your mom tell you to say that?” “Did your mom make you choose that?” “Are you complaining/refusing/rebelling/expressing that because your mom told you to?”)  He’d be wrong, though.  And it doesn’t matter anyway.

I still feel bad for The Ex, even if he doesn’t deserve it, but it’s no longer my job to comfort or console him, to reassure him that he is a good parent, to remind him how much our children love him.  He’s on his own with all of that now.  As am I.

Fortunately on this day, I didn’t need any reassurance.  My boy was thankful for me, and I for him.


I’ll spend today with my children, my parents, 2 of my 3 sisters, and some wonderful friends.  I am thankful and grateful for all them and for so many other wonderful people and things in my life.

Today, may you all have many blessings to count and many loved ones at your side.  Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

 

The Pieces. October 27, 2011

Filed under: Friends,Help,Thanks — nowisgoodblog @ 8:10 am
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First, thank you.  To everyone who commented, posted, emailed, texted, called … Thank You.  It is a crazy thing to be able to tap instantaneously into a support network that you didn’t even know existed.  I was carrying around all that … stuff … inside of me all weekend.  By Sunday night, I was just full.  And since I’ve learned that the best way (for me) to get past it is to just get it out, write it down, line it up where I can look at it externally, that’s what I did.  I wasn’t really looking for the response I received, and it overwhelmed me.  Within the first hour after posting, I was innundated with the kindest and fiercest displays of love and friendship and support.  It’s continued throughout the week.  Suffice it to say, you people are awesome.

Second, I am fine.  I am always fine.  Last weekend was the lowest I’ve felt in a long while, but even smack in the middle of the multi-hour crying marathon on Sunday, I knew it wouldn’t last.  (The highest highs and the lowest lows, after all.)  I just had to work through it, and I did (with a little help from my friends out there).

Third, I just linked to myself TWICE.  Which is embarrassing (and yet I’m not unlinking).  I’m not as overly impressed with myself as that may seem.  Mostly, I just repeat myself a lot.

Fourth, I am now officially in The Month Leading Up To My Big Birthday.  The countdown has begun.  There’s some house cleaning to do and some things to get in order.  My mind and my body and my spirit *will* be in the right place when that birthday arrives.  Dammit.

Fifth, I’m late with my birthday post for Owen.  I felt bad about that until I realized I was late with it last year, too, and shockingly, the world kept turning in the face of such epic failure.  So that post is coming up next-ish.

Finally, this (with apologies as always to my mother for the F-bomb):

“You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, or even months over-analyzing a situation;

trying to put the pieces together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened…

or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move the fuck on.”

— Tupac Shakur

 

The Days of Losing Touch. October 14, 2011

Filed under: Friends,network,Thanks — nowisgoodblog @ 9:52 am
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1986

My family moved during my sophomore year in high school.  I was 14.  That’s me up there in that photo, a few weeks before The Major Trauma.  To my right in the photo is the boy I had a huge crush on.  I wasn’t allowed to date, but he’d drive me home from school and go to youth group functions at my church with me.  He was then, and through the years would remain, one of the sweetest boys I ever met.  (Please ignore our utter and complete lack of fashion sense.  It was 1986 in East Texas—pretty sure that’s all there is to say about that.)  A few long letters and a few short phone calls after the move, that life chapter ended.

Except that I saw that boy again yesterday … for the first time in twenty-five years.

When someone finally convinced me to get on Facebook, I thought (and still think) that it was a felony theft of productive time, a massive potential invasion of privacy, and a pressured social interaction with people you’d never choose to see in real life.  And yes, I’m on Facebook most days.  The only explanation I can give is that it unexpectedly enriched my life in ways I never could have foreseen:  it created an instant social network for me as I emerged from a marriage that had pretty much limited my social network to two; it became a place of guaranteed support and encouragement; it made it easy for me to reach out (an inherently difficult thing for me to do).  When I got divorced, I didn’t post anything official.  People still figured it out … and then they reached out.  That boy up there in the photo was one of those who reached out, in ways that were just as kind and compassionate as I’d have expected from the sweet boy he was ages and ages ago.

Thanks to Facebook, my online complaint about having to drive 7 hours for an out-of-town hearing yesterday resulted in the discovery that my destination was located about 3 miles from the fire station where where the boy now works.  We arranged for a catch-up visit, but because my hearing ran late and he was out on a call and I needed to race home to make a dance program of Avery’s, our visit ended up being about 15 minutes of chatting in the fire station parking lot.

It was weird.  And kinda wonderful.  In my mind, he’s still a 16-year-old boy because that’s the only person I really know.  To him, I think I’m still the 14-year-old girl he used to drive home from school.  The purity of that makes my heart ache in the most wonderful way.  Of course, neither of us is that person anymore.  He’s a 41-year-old man, a husband, a father, a fire lieutenant (and still extremely sweet).  I am … well, I am a work in progress.  But standing there yesterday, I felt a little bit like the 14-year-old girl I haven’t seen in decades, and that was a quietly stunning thing to tap into.

Say what you want about social media and say it knowing that your complaints are fully justified.  It’s not altogether a fantastic thing by any stretch of the imagination.  But the positives—the sense of community provided, the support network established, the connections made—those exist, too.  Because of Facebook, I’ve found support in the unlikeliest of places.  Because of Facebook, my irritating travel day yesterday was a lot less irritating.  And because of Facebook, versions of each of our past selves still exist somewhere, out there in the ether, out there in the minds and hearts of those we’ve known before.  I am quieted by the sense of immortality that provides.

I recently read Jennifer Egan’s “A Visit from the Good Squad” (I recommend it … it’s weird and wonderful, too).  I was struck by this passage, a premonition from characters set in the time before Facebook and Google and the interconnectedness that the web provides us all today, and I remembered it during my parking lot visit yesterday:

You look over at Drew, squinting in the sun, and for a second the future tunnels out and away, some version of “you” at the end of it, looking back. And right then you feel it – what you’ve seen in people’s faces on the street – a swell of movement, like an undertow, rushing you toward something you can’t quite see.

“Oh, we’ll know each other forever,” Bix says. “The days of losing touch are almost gone.”

“What does that mean?” Drew asks.

“We’re going to meet again in a different place,” Bix says. “Everyone we’ve lost, we’ll find. Or they’ll find us.”

“Where? How?” Drew asks.

Bix hesitates, like he’s held this secret so long he’s afraid of what will happen when he releases it into the air. “I picture it like judgment day,” he says finally, his eyes on the water. “We’ll rise up out of our bodies and find each other again in spirit form. We’ll meet in that new place, all of us together, and first it’ll be strange, and pretty soon it’ll seem strange that you could ever lose someone, or get lost.”

— “A Visit from the Goon Squad” — Jennifer Egan

2011

To Jason—thanks for not letting the 14-year-old me get lost.

 

Vacation. July 25, 2011

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

 

Sunshine of Mine. April 6, 2011

Filed under: Childhood,divorce,Motherhood,Siblings,Thanks — nowisgoodblog @ 2:27 pm

HOW are you already having another birthday, Miss Amelia?!  It seems like just last week I wrote a post about your second birthday.  Somehow, impossibly, an entire year has passed since then.  You turned three this week, angel girl.  You walked around all day singing “Happy Birthday” to yourself.  Now that your special day is done, you’re singing it to everyone else.

You tell everyone you are “free years old.”  You try oh-so-hard to put up three fingers, but can’t always quite make it happen.  Two is no problem.  Four is easy.  Something about tucking that pinky underneath your thumb, though, gives you pause.  You say you are “a big girl” now and not a baby anymore … unless we are discussing potty training, in which case you stubbornly say you’re “just not big enough yet.”

You sing, all the time.  Your favorite is “You Are My Sunshine,” and my heart nearly explodes every time I hear you.  The range of your musical taste runs wide, however.  When we put on the tunes and have impromptu dance parties, you always request Taio Cruz or La Roux off of your big sister’s playlist, and then you sing every lyric and boogie your little bootie all around the room.

The other day you held up a foot and asked if it was your right one.  When I said yes, you asked me, “Then which one is my wrong one?”

You are flirty.  You are fun.  You have nearly perfected the art of working a crowd.  You can (and do) have anyone and everyone, male and female, young and old, known and unknown, eating out of your hand in seconds flat.  You are the child that draws people in and prompts strangers to approach.  They ask how old you are.  They express shock at how clear and complex your vocabulary is.  They watch you and can’t help smiling.  They call you “amazing” and “adorable” and “full of life.”  And you are.  Oh, my sweet third child, you ARE.

You still bring light to my darkest days.  Your hugs, your kisses, your laughs are the cure-alls for my every malady.  You love with abandon and live with glee.  You are one of the happiest children I’ve ever seen.

Even so, you regularly say, “When I’m at my Dad’s house I miss my Mom, and when I’m at my Mom’s house I miss my Dad.”  I know you do, and it breaks my heart.  You don’t really understand the situation—you ask me why I don’t have a girlfriend at my house like Daddy does.  This is all you know and you handle it so well.  You remember which toys and clothes belong at which home and you don’t like it when your things stray from their intended house.

You adore your big sister and follow her everywhere.  You have no idea how lucky you are to have her guiding you.  You think your big brother is the greatest comedian on earth.  Thanks to him, you have an appreciation for fart humor the likes of which are unrivaled in any other three-year-old girl.  Avery and Owen love you without measure, protect you without hesitation, readily forgive you any transgression.

You are still a tiny little thing, built so much smaller than your older and sturdier siblings were at this age.  You are healthy and strong, but light as a bird.  You vacillate between insisting … LOUDLY … that you do everything yourself, and then wanting me to hold you and carry you everywhere.  You still fit in my arms perfectly—your arms and legs wrapping easily around me, your curly head nestling tightly into the curve of my neck.

You love purses and cell phones and sparkly shoes and iPads.  You are never, ever without at least two tubes of flavored Chapstick or lip balm, which you call your “lipskits.”  Before you’ll kiss me, you ask what is on my lips.  If it’s just Carmex, I get the kiss.  If it’s “Mommy lipstick,” I’m out of luck.

You know we’re trying to “sell our house,” but you’ve become convinced that we are, instead, “celebrating our house.”  Your misinterpretation fits, though—somehow, knowing this is our last stretch of time in this home has caused us all to try and create some final memories before we leave.  It feels we are living here intently, consciously, devoutly, storing up but at the same time readying to move on.

The other day you told me, “Mommy—you make my heart smile.”  And I cried, because your words were so perfect.  Because you make my heart smile.  Because you were the joy that arrived at a joyless time.  Because you are my sunshine and the sunshine of everyone around you.  You, who arrived last, are somehow the glue that binds us all together and makes it all ok.  I am so utterly, unbelievably, unendingly grateful for you.

Happy Birthday, Milla James.  Keep on shining.

 

Grass Rhymes With Ass Rhymes With Class. March 31, 2011

Filed under: divorce,Help,Thanks — nowisgoodblog @ 1:13 pm

This is not the post I intended to write today, but life has other plans ….


My doorbell just rang. Unexpected flower delivery!  (Really, ladies, are there many things in life happier than that?)

Beautiful.

 

They are from my parents and sisters and brother-in-law.  The card says:

 

TREES ARE GREEN AND SO IS GRASS,

WE THINK IT’S KEEN YOU’RE RID OF THAT ASS.

WE LOVE YOU!


Honestly, folks—do I have the very greatest family or what?

 

Moving Right Along …. February 23, 2011

Yesterday marked the culmination of the (possibly ill-endeavored?) She Said/She Said Project.  In an email conversation weeks ago, Tara and I came clean about the ways in which we felt threatened by the other, the things we feared about these other crucial relationships in our loved ones’ lives and the motivations behind some of our actions in the parenting/SO arena.  It was an enlightening exchange and it sparked my interest in doing this project to begin with.  We later discussed using this final week to share those personal perspectives in our guest posts—to provide a more vulnerable explanation for why we felt the way we felt, and for why we had taken the positions we had.

Perhaps we should have done that entry first.  Or perhaps we shouldn’t have done any of this at all.

In any event, although a project summation still seems apt, as does a sharing of my feelings about ALL that has risen to the surface during these last few weeks, I decided not to post that final chapter over on the Relative Evolutions site (although Tara has written a lovely closing post on the series—check it out).  That’s no reflection on Tara at all—I imagine (and hope) that she and I will continue to email off-blog about these topics as they arise.  But I have no desire to further bare my soul in the lion’s den and no interest in continuing to interact with some of her readers.  I know this is a public site—they may come and read here, they may throw out their empty advice and unfounded criticisms, they may tell me all the ways in which I am a bad mother and a worse ex-spouse—but I truly hope they won’t.

I’m not sure what I hoped to learn by this project.  I think I believed people might have insightful ways to find areas of compromise with The Ex on the role of The Girlfriend in our kids’ lives.  That didn’t happen.  Here’s what did:

  • I realized that criticism hurts, even when it’s given by someone you don’t know and with whom you probably have nothing in common.  Criticism based upon completely incorrect assumptions, however, is both hurtful AND annoying.
  • I realized that there are some people out there who still seem to be very angry at their exes (even while they dismiss anger as a non-emotion or provide empty counsel to just “get over it”), and they may have directed some of that anger toward me.  I happen to think anger is a perfectly valid emotion and only becomes destructive when it isn’t accurately recognized and processed.  I make no secret over the fact that I am still angry at The Ex, but just because I *feel* angry doesn’t mean I *act* on that anger.  I haven’t tried to alienate my children from their father.  I haven’t tried to cut him out of their lives.  I haven’t used the “Bobby/Suzy, you may invite anyone you want, but I’m sure you don’t want to invite her” bullshit tactics.  (For what it’s worth, I respect my kids’ intelligence far too much to ever think that such an approach would do anything more than lessen their respect for me and completely undermine my authority with them.  They’re not stupid.)  I realized I am no one’s ex-wife but The Ex’s.  Our problems are specifically ours.
  • Along those lines, I realized that what works for other readers or commenters may not work for me.  I see the potential value in parallel parenting, as well as the potential need for it when conflict can’t be otherwise minimized.  But I haven’t given up the hope that we can truly co-parent and I don’t think The Ex has given up that hope, either.  I realized that the way we’ve already done things and the way we’re trying to do things in the future takes us out of the normal mold a bit and I realized there is no personalized roadmap for how to proceed.
  • I realized that I do still think we are a family—a mother and a father and three children.  I know that The Ex’s idea of his family now includes another person.  My idea does not … yet.  For now, we have incomplete overlapping family circles (hello, Venn Diagram).  Eventually, The Girlfriend may exist in my circle, but not yet.  I realized that healing to the point where I may be able to welcome The Girlfriend is just plain and simple going to take time.
  • I realized that whether or not our approach works for others, it’s working for us.  Mostly.  Usually.  And as a result of our efforts, our kids seem to be doing fine.  (Mostly.  Usually.)  They are excelling in school.  They have friends.  They easily go back and forth between our houses.  They love us both.  We live in a very family-oriented community where divorce is uncommon.  None of their friends’ parents are divorced; they have no peers in this arena, yet they are finding their way and we are doing our best to help them.
  • I realized that I may inadvertently put pressure on my children without knowing it.  Not having been in their position myself, I hadn’t thought about the fact that giving them a choice in certain matters may make them feel pressured to pick sides (and really, make them feel pressured to choose my side, because they know that I’m the one who is pained by this process and because they want to protect me).  That has never been my intention.  Hopefully, being aware of that potential pressure will help me refrain from placing it upon them.
  • I realized that although I haven’t done everything perfectly since our divorce, and I’m sure I’ll make more mistakes, I’m trying.  Really, really, really hard I’m trying.  I communicate with The Ex on a daily basis about what is going on in the kids’ lives.  I try (and succeed about 99% of the time) to be civil, even bordering on friendly.  I do not allow the kids to disrepect him—ever—either in public or in private.  The first time my child ever yells obscenities at The Ex in public will be the last time that child sees the outside of his or her bedroom for a long, LONG time.
  • I realized that other people’s pain needs to be respected.
  • I realized that there is a crucial, intrinsic difference between me and people who seem insistent upon full integration of an SO into their childrens’ lives.  I’m not saying it’s better or worse, but it is different and the difference seems to reflect a fundamental tenet of the way we parent our children.  For those who say, “The SO has a right to be there, whether or not the children want him/her to be,” for those who tell or show the children that their wants and needs always come second behind the parent’s, for those who are so concerned about the potential risks associated with the children calling the shots, the imperative seems to lie in showing the child who is boss and showing the child whose needs come first.  To the contrary, my imperative lies in making sure that my children always know that their fears and concerns and desires and feelings are being heard and understood by me.  My kids come first—always, always, always—before a husband, before a boyfriend, before a family member or friend.  My kids come first before me and I want them to know that.  That doesn’t mean they always get their way and it doesn’t mean they are allowed to manipulate the situation.  But it does mean that if and when they express a valid dislike or discomfort, I will  take it into account—even if it means an SO has to stay home.  Ultimately, my childrens’ feelings are simply more important than any SO’s.  Because my children are more important.  They come first.  Period.  For me, there’s no point in having children if you can’t give them that security during childhood.  Different parenting principles, perhaps, but violating that one is the thing that I’d most regret.
  • I realized I’m going to keep writing, just the way I’ve been writing.  Despite feeling exposed and vulnerable and stifled and scared to keep baring my heart and soul when I know there are people out there who have no desire or intention to be careful with me, I’m going to keep going.  I don’t write to advise others and I don’t write to preach the one true path to divorce and co-parenting and dealing with the myriad of issues that arise therefrom.  I write to process, to think, to feel, to share, to ask, to seek, to get through.  I need it and although I’m not exactly sure why, some of you seem to need it, too.  I love that it’s a group journey.
  • I realized that I’ve been pretty lucky to find a kind and judicious blog community out there, who support and applaud and question and critique with fairness and with open minds.  Seeing a bit of the alternative has made me even more appreciative of those I count as readers and friends.
  • I realized I have a support system the likes of which I never imagined.  Some are family, some are close friends, some are past acquaintances, some are folks I’ve met in person solely because of this blog, some are strangers I’ve only “met” through comments and email.  But the number and quality of people who are in my corner (and that doesn’t necessarily mean they agree with everything I do or decide) humbles me.  About 20 months ago, right after The Ex had filed for divorce, a girlfriend who had been through it herself and knew what was ahead for me asked me if I had a good support system.  I remember the question and I remember not knowing the answer at the time.  I know now, and I am so completely grateful for it.

Thank you to those who entered the fray on my behalf.  Thank you to those of you who didn’t want to enter the comment war but emailed your support anyway.  Thank you to those who opened my eyes to some dangers and concerns with the kids that I might not have foreseen.  Thank you.

And that’s that.  Moving right along ….

 

Mr. Tom and Mikey the Wonder Dog. January 20, 2011

Filed under: Childhood,Dogs,Friends,Thanks — nowisgoodblog @ 7:54 am
Tags: ,

Mr. Tom and his wife have been friends of my parents’ for a long time.  A few years ago, Mr. Tom and Owen became fast friends, too.   This was partly because Mr. Tom was dog-dad to Mikey the Wonder Dog, the most beloved and most fabulous black lab of all time.  And this was partly because Mr. Tom had the ability to be a big kid himself.

Whenever Owen would go visit my parents, Pop and Owen would go visit Mr. Tom and Mikey.  The four of them swam together in the summers and year-round they explored the woods behind Mr. Tom’s house.  Together they all went on grand adventures; they hiked trails, found treasures and got good and dirty—just as a dog and a little boy should.

In between their visits, “Mikey” would send emails to Owen, asking when he was coming back to play and promising that Mr. Tom would take Owen fishing the next time he did so.  Mikey sent snail-mail letters to Owen, too, forwarding photos of his dog-self and putting the biggest smile on a 4-year-old boy’s face that you could imagine.  Owen always responded, writing Mikey back and over time establishing a very sweet friendship with Mr. Tom that was treasured by them both.

Eventually, Avery was invited into the boys’ club, and Mikey and Mr. Tom became good friends of hers as well.  At Christmas a couple of years ago, Mikey (by way of Mr. Tom) gave Avery and Owen one of their most treasured gifts: a figurine bearing a remarkable likeness to Mikey, with a tag around his neck reading, “Owen & Avery Are My Best Friends.”  The gift still sits, much loved, on a shelf in our family room.

Last Friday, Mr. Tom lost his very brave battle with cancer.  He had beaten it once before, but this time around it came on hard and fast and no amount of fighting the good fight proved to be enough.  The kids were with The Ex when it happened, and I waited to tell them the news in person after they came back home.  I didn’t know what to say; I didn’t know how to make them feel better.  I told them as gently as I could.

Owen’s first reaction was, “But I loved Mr. Tom!” … as if that would have (and it should have) been enough.   Amelia asked if Mr. Tom died just like Molly and Buddy (the two dogs of ours she has lost in her little lifetime).  Sometimes out of the mouths of babes come the direction we need—I told them yes, and with that little unexpected shove I told them that Mr. Tom was in heaven playing with Molly and Buddy right now.  That as much as Mr. Tom loved dogs and as much as Mr. Tom loved Avery and Owen, I bet he went and found Molly and Buddy just as soon as he got there, and that they were all giving each other extra special love and attention, and that they were all looking down on us and smiling.

Avery and Owen asked if we could still visit Mikey.

Of course we can.

Owen wrote a note on a scrap of paper:  “Mr. Tom wus a grat man.”  He asked if we could take it to Mr. Tom at the cemetery. 

Of course we will.

Rest easy, Mr. Tom.  Know that your kindness to and friendship with my children made grateful hearts in all of us.

We’ll look for you on the other side; there are many more adventures to be had.

 

 
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