Now is Good.

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

The Talk. April 26, 2011

Filed under: Accomplishments,Change,Childhood,Motherhood — nowisgoodblog @ 6:51 am
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I start this post having NO idea what I want to say, really.  In fact, I started this post last week and just couldn’t get very far with it because I was still a little shell-shocked.  A week later I’m still digesting and questioning and wondering if I went too far or if I failed to go far enough.  I don’t know.  But I know I want to memorialize it all somehow, so I’m diving in.

Avery and I had the talk.  THE talk.  The SEX talk.  Not just the generic where-babies-come-from talk, not just the sperm-and-egg talk, not just the this-is-how-our-bodies-change-as-we-get-older talk.  No, we had the full-on, full-detail, no-holds-barred, mechanics-of-it talk.  And I’m not sure either of us will ever be the same again.

Because Avery has two younger siblings and because she’s been around and aware of me being pregnant twice in her lifetime, questions have come up before.  She knew the biology of how babies were made and born.  She knew how they made their entry into the world (and she is a staunch supporter of adoption as a result).  But she didn’t know how or why the whole ball got rolling, so to speak.  When I was pregnant with Amelia, she once asked the ultimate question and I totally, totally chickened out on answering her.  She was FIVE.  I couldn’t bring myself to have that conversation with a kindergartener, so I punted with a “We’ll discuss that when you’re older.”  (Which was exactly what my parents punted with when I asked the same question at Avery’s age.  I remember asking.  I remember the punt.  And I remember that the “when you’re older” never came.)  The next day I felt awful about being such a wuss.  I’ve always operated under a fairly strict “As Honest As They Can Handle” policy when communicating with my kids, and I had cratered.  So I did some research and found an age-appropriate book to buy and then sat down with my five-year-old a few days later and tried to re-open the conversation.  By which point, of course, she had totally lost interest.

Fast-forward three years.  At bedtime one night last week, Avery started asking questions.  Very specific questions.  Unsure if she was really wanting/ready to know or if she was just trying to delay bedtime, I reminded her that she had a book sitting on her shelf that she could read anytime she wanted and then we would talk about it.  And … good night and go to sleep.  The next morning, she pranced down to breakfast with the gleeful announcement, “Well, I was a little surprised to find out what sex was!”

Just like that, we entered a new era.  I shipped her off to school with the promise of an afterschool chat and the admonition that this was not information to be discussed with her peers.*  That afternoon, Starbucks in hand (iced nonfat latte for me, vanilla steamer for her), we sat in the car and talked.  The whys and the hows and the whens and the when nots.  It was awkward and sweet and embarrassing and bonding and just a tiny bit surreal.  The funniest moment of the entire conversation was when Avery, book in hand like the little researcher she is, said, “So just to make sure we are on the same page, when you were a kid and you found out how sex worked, did it just seem … not quite right to you?”  It did, indeed.

We eventually covered the bases that needed covering and the talk shifted to the more relevant topics of “How do you know when a boy likes you?” and “How do you tell a boy that you like him?” and “What exactly does someone say when they ask you on a date?”  I breathed a sigh of relief that we had moved into safer territory and incorrectly (and rather naively, given the understanding of how my daughter’s mind works), thought that was going to be worst of it.  That should have been the worst of it; in my opinion, that’s more than plenty of heft for a sex talk with an eight-year-old.

Except that it’s Avery and because she’s so freaking logical and linear and if/then, it turns out that wasn’t the worst of it by a long shot.  By bedtime, she had processed and progressed to such fun topics as: “Is there a way to keep from getting pregnant when you have sex?” and “If you get pregnant and you don’t want to be pregnant, is there a way to stop being pregnant?”  Which is how, on the fly, I ended up trying to craft a birth control and abortion discussion on a level that was philosophically/legally/morally appropriate for an 8-year-old.  And who the hell knows if I handled any of that right?

I don’t know.  I mean, I really, really, really don’t know.  These are such murky waters and there are pitfalls every way we turn.  There are a million different ways to handle this part of parenting and absolutely no way to know which is right.  You go with your gut.  I know she thanked me for the conversations and told me she was glad that she could talk to me about anything.  I know I took every opportunity (and there were several) to stress to her that I always want to be included in the big decisions in her life, no matter how awkward or embarrassing or terrifying those decisions may be.  I know she’s taken that first step away from childhood and pulled us both into a new phase of the mother/daughter relationship—one that will evolve and contort in terrifying and wonderful ways over the next decade or two.  I know I am proud of the way her mind works.

And I know this:  At bedtime that night, she texted from her room, as she always does, to say her goodnights and her I love yous.  I said goodnight and told her that I adored her.  She texted back: “I admire you.”

And that felt pretty perfect.

*And for anyone whose children might run across Avery in the real world, we later had an at-length discussion about how every parent decides the time and manner in which this information is communicated to their children and how those decisions must be respected and how there exist a multitude of reasons she doesn’t want to be “that kid” disseminating the sex talk on the playground.  So hopefully, mum’s the word for awhile longer, at least.

 

Pictures of 1,000 Words. April 24, 2011

Filed under: 3 kids,Childhood — nowisgoodblog @ 10:28 am
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It’s been an emotional week, both good and bad.  I have a bunch of posts I need to write—things I’d like to memorialize and things I need to work through.  Unfortunately, life feels unsettled at the moment.  My house isn’t selling, I’m stretched thin on all fronts, and the daily rhythm that I like to keep seems completely interrupted.  I feel I’m playing the discordant note.  It’s no biggie … I’ll settle back into the regular beat of life eventually, but for now, finding the time to sit down and focus and write seems to be a luxury just beyond my grasp.

So instead of sharing any written words today, I’m sharing these photos my talented sister Caroline took of the kids a few weeks ago.  I’m sitting here this morning in between our Easter Phases (Phase 1 with me early this morning, Phase 2 with The Ex right now, Phase 3 with my family this afternoon) and looking at these pictures and seeing SO much in them.  They just capture my children perfectly—their beauty and brains, their focus and their letting go, their joy and their love for each other, their occasional self-consciousness and the glorious moments of the absence thereof.

Just going to let the photos speak for me today.  They say everything that needs to be said.

LOVE.

 

Trust. April 15, 2011

Filed under: Dating,divorce,Realizations — nowisgoodblog @ 9:07 am
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It shouldn’t come as a shock that I sport some pretty serious trust issues these days, especially given that letting people in and being vulnerable was never my strong suit in the first place.  Giving someone the power to hurt you isn’t the same as giving them permission, I realize, but it sure puts you one step farther along that road.

The one person in my life I ever fully trusted—with everything—with all of me—was The Ex, and he betrayed that trust in fairly spectacular fashion. Ever since, I’ve been angry at myself for having been so naive.  I’ve been disappointed that I ignored the warning signs and believed the excuses.  I’ve regretted the faith I had that someone with whom I shared great love would never willingly, intentionally, carelessly hurt me.  I trusted completely and in the end, felt like a complete fool for doing so.

It’s not a mistake I have any desire to make again.  There’s ego wrapped up in that, for sure.  As well as pain and fear and disbelief and quite a healthy dose of self-preservation.

I’m not sure how to come back from the place where my trust was so desolated.  I don’t know what has to happen before it makes sense for me to hand over that power another time.  How do I learn to trust The Ex again (and I have to learn it, at least on issues relating to our children)?  Where do I find the confidence to trust my own judgment after being so very, very wrong before?  When does it become the safe and smart move to trust someone else with my heart?  Many days it just doesn’t seem worth the risk.

But then there’s this:

Better trust all, and be deceived,

And weep that trust, and that deceiving;

Than doubt one heart, that, if believed,

Had blessed one’s life with true believing.

–”FAITH” by Frances Anne Kemble

Easier said than done, obviously, but it makes me want to try.  That single little stanza somehow stills the swirling inside.  It does nothing to explain the when or the where or the how, but it fairly well nails the why.  When I read this I feel absolution for wrongly trusting before.  When I read this I feel a beginning justification for trusting again.  Wish me luck.

 

Thank You, American Idol (Not). April 13, 2011

Filed under: 3 kids,Childhood,divorce,Humor — nowisgoodblog @ 9:45 pm
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The Ex hated American Idol.  HATED. It.  (Which probably means he watches it religiously now, but … totally beside the point).  After the divorce, the kids and I started watching.  We DVR-it and fast forward through the judges and a lot of the bios and all of the commercials.  We watch the singing and decide who we like the best.  We privately vote in our family room.  It’s one of our “things.”

This season, life has just been too hectic to jump on that bandwagon until now. Tonight, for the first time, we sat down to watch the eight remaining American Idol contestants (and no … I don’t know any of the contestants’ names).  The theme was “songs from movies” or something equally inane. It didn’t go quite the way I’d planned.

Memorable, yet ass-kicking, moments therefrom:

1.  When the very first contestant announced he’d be singing Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock and Roll,” made (arguably) famous by Tom Cruise in “Risky Business,” I thought: “Classic.”

Avery asked: “Who’s Tom Cruise?”

Never mind Randy’s later Porter Wagoner suit comment ….

2.  When the random geeky dude whipped out a stand-up bass (be still my heart … is there anything sexier?) and won me over by doing a decent, if not overly-inspired, rendition of Nat King Cole’s “Nature Boy,”  I gave him mad and well-deserved props for originality and dorky coolness (the best kind, IMO).

Owen: “Why is he playing that giant guitar?”

Amelia: “What is that wet stuff in his hair?

3.  When the black dude with the bring-me-to-my-knees voice sang “Bridge Over Troubled Water,”  I wanted to cry.  Seriously, cry.  I adore (ADORE!) Simon and Garfunkel and think that’s one of the most beautiful songs ever written.  I told the kids to close their eyes and just LISTEN.  Listen and feel the freaking power in that man’s voice and imagine what it would be like to be born with that kind of blessing … with that kind of gift.

Owen: “I don’t like his suit.”

4.  When the final contestant of the night came out and decided to go 80s heavy-metal, I was impressed.  THAT was something new on Idol.  Give the guy credit for being original.  Trying to be fully into the moment, I stood and danced and mildly let my freak flag fly … tongue out and metal fingers pumping.

Avery: “Mom, do you do that at concerts?”

Me: “I haven’t been to a concert with this kind of music in awhile, but I used to, all the time.  Why?”

Avery: “I just wondered … if you do, do people know you’re our mom?”

Bite me, American Idol.

 

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.

 

The D Spot Teleconference. April 5, 2011

Filed under: divorce — nowisgoodblog @ 10:07 am

Belatedly …

Almost two weeks ago (hence the “belatedly”), Tara and I participated in a teleclass hosted by Laura Campbell, founder and host of The D Spot website and blog.  For about an hour, we talked about the She Said/She Said project, our differing opinions about but similar goals for attaining peaceful post-divorce equilibrium, what we learned from the guest blogging endeavor, and our general stories, inspirations and struggles.

I truly enjoyed participating.  Laura, Tara and I may have very different divorce experiences, different current parental/partner situations, and different perspectives on a lot of the issues that women face during and after a divorce, but the conversation was a total pleasure. It’s empowering to be reminded that women can be a real source of strength for each other in difficult times.

If you have a free hour and would like to listen to the teleconference, you can find it here.  Enjoy.

 

 
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