Now is Good.

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

Sick Days. April 17, 2012

Filed under: Help,Motherhood — nowisgoodblog @ 8:12 am

Yesterday.  Monday morning scramble.  Amelia comes downstairs whimpering, “My stomach hurts.”

She is pale and panicked.  I grab The Bucket, make her a pallet on the floor, and continue the mad dash to get everyone dressed and fed and backpacked and out the door to school.  I make breakfasts.  I pack lunches.  I fill water bottles.  I get a wet cloth for Amelia.

The pallet is moved to the bathroom floor as things become more imminent.  The whimpering continues.  I rub her tummy.  I yell to the older kids to come eat.  I ask if everyone has brushed their teeth.  “Yes.”  I ask again.  Owen goes back upstairs.

I realize there are few things in the world I want less than to put a nauseated 4-year-old in the car for the drive to school.  I call The Ex and ask if he can swing by and take Avery and Owen to school.  He says yes.  I say silent thanks for my efforts to play nice with him—in addition to the psychological and emotional benefits to our children, this is my personal pay-off:  help when it is most needed.

As a parent, I’m constantly amazed by what I can stomach while caring for my children.  I hate the throw-ups.  Mine, theirs, anyone’s.  I was the kid who freaked out, hands over ears, when any other kid got sick.   That part right before?  When you know it’s going to happen but everyone is playing that miserable waiting game for the inevitable?  The waiting is the worst.  That part makes my heart pound and my palms sweat and my gut knot.  That’s when I feel panic. Once it begins, I am calm.

The Ex and the older kids are barely out the front door when Amelia finally gives in.  I hold her hair.  I rub her back.  I tell her it will be over soon.  I wipe her tears and her mouth.  I say, “I know, I know” and “I’m sorry, baby.”

It’s over and I marvel at how well it went.  Nothing, even, to clean up.  I say another silent thanks that my kids are growing older—that they can tell me when they feel sick and gauge how bad it is.  With the exception of those unexpected middle-of-the-night arrivals of illness, they all now make it to the bathroom in time. Even “the baby.”  A milestone.  A miracle.

Amelia spends the rest of the day in my bed, watching movies while I try work next to her … except for those frequent moments when I am completely overcome by this job of Mothering and must stop, must cuddle and care, must soothe and snuggle.  She is needy in the sweetest possible way.  She wants me close.  She craves my touch.  I think, as I often do when my children are sick, that there is a blessing in these times.  I hate it when they are ill, for me and for them … but truth be told, there is a small place inside of me that appreciates those moments of focus and clarity.

I never feel more indispensable, more appreciated, more certain of my role, more like a mom, than I do when my children are home sick.  I am oddly grateful for those days like yesterday, and just as grateful that they don’t come around very often.

By afternoon, Amelia was 100%, eating twice as much as usual, bouncing around as though the morning had never happened.  But it did.  And I’m glad I was there with her, being her mama.

 

One More Chink in the Armor. April 9, 2012

Today was a tough one.

After feeling completely extraneous at Owen’s last birthday party, and upon hearing a few weeks ago that The Ex and The Girlfriend were making big plans to singularly host Amelia’s 4th birthday party, I made yet another decision that nearly choked me: I offered to co-host the party with my two least favorite people in the world.  In reality, there really wasn’t much of a choice there.  I figured:  (A) I could be completely omitted from my child’s party with her friends; or (B) I could make a stink about their unilateral planning and usurping of the party without any prior consultation; or (C) I could step in and offer to co-host and pay half of the party they were already planning.  I chose (C), figuring that at least I wouldn’t miss out completely and hoping that by co-hosting and sharing the expense I wouldn’t feel like a mere Plus One.

I paid the 50% deposit for the petting zoo party at their house; they paid the 2nd half due after the party.  They did invites and goodie bags; I did cake and juice boxes.  As Amelia opened presents, The Girlfriend and I each made gift lists and then we split the thank you note duties.  Amelia chose which gifts she wanted to keep at her dad’s house and which gifts she wanted to keep at mine.  The guest list was comprised of Amelia’s preschool classmates, the parents of whom The Ex and I know equally, and Amelia’s dance class classmates, the parents of whom I have never met (because The Ex and The Girlfriend chose the dance class, enrolled Amelia, and scheduled lessons on their custodial day).

There were moments I felt like an outsider, but less so than before.  I had to introduce myself to half the parents, but they were more gracious and less shocked by our joint presence than at the last birthday event.  The party was at their house, on their turf, where they were comfortable but I was … much less so.  The Girlfriend is 7 months pregnant, visibly round and obviously basking in the fullness of her 30-year-old life.  All I could think about, all day, was how that’s exactly how far along I was when The Ex started cheating on me … with her.  I kept remembering how, when Amelia arrived 4 years ago, she played thoughtful co-worker and sent homemade cookies to our family to celebrate the birth … and then continued to privately celebrate that birth with my husband in a very non-traditional and devastating manner.  And I kept marveling, as I always do, at the way in which she took my exact life and made it hers.

I thought these things, but privately.  Several friends and family members had offered to come with me for moral support, but I declined.  I wanted to do this by myself, because … I am by myself.  I didn’t want The Ex and The Girlfriend to have the satisfaction of knowing how difficult it was for me.  I didn’t want to look like I couldn’t do it alone.  Because I can.  I can do this thing.  I. Can.  Although I occasionally felt on the verge of tears, I smiled with shiny eyes and just tried to enjoy the day with my daughter.  I acted as though this complete and utter nonsensical bullshit of a situation foisted upon me and my children was fine … I acted as if it was normal.  It’s not—or it shouldn’t be—but it is.  It’s our normal and it’s going to continue to be our normal so … suck it up.

One more thing.  One more milestone.  One more chink in the armor.  One more doing what is best for the kids.  One more letting them get away with it.  For this:

Worth it.

 

Happy 4th Birthday, Amelia. April 6, 2012

Filed under: Childhood,divorce,Motherhood — nowisgoodblog @ 1:52 pm
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You are four.  FOUR.  You are officially a pre-schooler—no longer a toddler.  No more answering: “Three.  And-a-half” when asked your age.  FOUR.  Your birthday was actually Wednesday, but the day was so busy and you were having so much fun that I didn’t want to miss a single minute of it to write.  It was the first birthday you’ve had where you actually “got it.”  You knew you were older.  You woke up with a grin on your face.  You knew it was your day.  You worked it, too … all day long.  Birthday cake for breakfast?  Check.  More birthday cake for after-school snack?  Yep.  Chuck E. Cheese for dinner with dad?  Uh-huh.  Sleeping in bed with Mama (because “It’s my birthday“)?  You bet.  I joined you for lunch at school, you took cupcakes for your class at snack-time, you got a one-on-one dinner date with dad (and stepmom), you opened presents, and you probably matched your body weight in sugar consumption.

You seem older now.  Lately, there’s been a real jump in comprehension and communication.  You are a more integrated part of things with your siblings, rather than just an add-on.  You’re beginning to argue rationally with me, occasionally eschewing temper tantrums for logical efforts to change my mind when you don’t get your way.  You sleep through the night now, every night. (Knock wood.)  Even though you are the baby and I still “do” things for you at an age I was probably long-past doing them for your older siblings, you are remarkably self-sufficient in the dressing/feeding/bathing/bathroom arenas.

Your favorite color is yellow (“lellow”).  Your favorite restaurant is Chuck E. Cheese.  You can write your name.  You can skip.  You can swim. You know all of your shapes and colors and most of your letters.  You know all the words to “I’m Sexy and I Know It.”  (I’m not saying that’s a good thing … I’m just sayin’.  And also?  You didn’t learn it at my house.)   You love to color and play Play-Doh.  You use my iPad more than I do.  You always have 3-4 small “treasure” items that you carry around with you at all times.  They are random things—a bracelet, a plastic wand to a bottle of bubbles, a rock, etc.  Every few days, the collection changes, but whatever items are the treasures of the day must be accessible to you at all times, day or night … or else somebody (guess who?) is going to pay for it.  You sing all the time, making up words and tunes and belting them out like you’re playing to a packed room.  You dance … a lot … and we have spent entire evenings watching and filming your moves.

You are FULL of life.  You are, quite possibly, the most dramatic child I’ve ever known.  I swear that 99% of the time, you do not talk … you emote.  Your facial expressions, your hand gestures, your tone of voice, your body movement—all quite often appear as though you are on stage.  I think you are completely aware you are doing it—I’ve caught you in your bedroom practicing different reactions in the mirror.  You’re a performer.  You love the spotlight.  When someone points a camera at you, you don’t just smile … you pose.

Every.

Single.

Time.

Three was a rough year for you—you struggled with having two homes.  You missed your daddy … a lot.  There were many, many bedtimes when you tearfully questioned why Mommy and Daddy couldn’t live together.  You often preferred his house to mine.  You often preferred him to me.  I won’t lie—that hurt.  A lot.  Just recently, though, perhaps hand-in-hand with the “you’ve seemed older” mentioned above, you seem to be on better terms with the whole situation.  There haven’t been as many “Daddy” tears lately.  You’ve seemed to have a better grasp of how much time is involved when discussing the number of days until you go to dad’s, and how many more until you come back.  Transitions have seemed smoother.  Bedtimes have been easier.  I know it’s hard.  I wish it weren’t. I promise that I (and your dad, too, I think) do the best we can to make it easier for you.  I hope it gets easier still.

As we climbed into bed Wednesday night at the end of your big birthday day, you reached for me.

“Mommy, will you hold my hand?”  Of course I will.

“It’s dark but as long as you hold my hand I still know you’re there.”  I’m right here.  I promise.

“Don’t let go, ok?”  Not. A. Chance.

Happy Birthday, sweet Amelia.  You are still my sunshine, and I am still so utterly grateful you are mine.

 

Let It Go. April 3, 2012

Filed under: Change,Help,Realizations,Understanding — nowisgoodblog @ 9:12 am
Tags: ,

Kelly Rae Roberts

I saw this several months ago and snatched it up immediately.  It’s printed on metal with raised sides all around and it’s sort of rustic-looking.  It’s a tray.  Or it’s wall art.  Or it’s something else entirely.  Regardless of its function, it’s a good reminder—Let It Go.

We all deal with difficulties.  Marriage, family, kids, divorce, heartbreak, illness, jobs, finances, aging, parenting, weight, whatever.  Each of us, on any given day, feels shackled by something.  We are all burdened by the unexpected.  We all fear.  We all tire of the fight. We all have unseen stones around our ankles that keep us from soaring.

Last night, a conversation with Jen sent me downstairs to stare at this lovely reminder that now hangs on my bedroom wall.  In discussing her particular stone for that day, she said, “I can let it go.  I really can, now, at 40.  Just Let.It.Go.”  I’m not sure why letting go seems easier now, at 40, but she’s right—it does.  Maybe it’s wisdom. Maybe it’s a developing recognition of what is truly important vs. what is not.  Maybe it’s as Anne Lamott perfectly reminds us: “you just don’t have that kind of time.”

Focus on what’s real and what’s right.  Seek joy.  Fight for the things that are worth it, but walk away from the rest.  Cultivate fearlessness.  Identify whatever is holding you back or weighing you down … and then let it go:

Let It Go. 

Surrender your heart. 

Liberate your doubts. 

Unleash your intuition. 

Take a risk. 

Do the thing you didn’t think you could do. 

Manifest courage. 

Take the journey back to your self. 

Free yourself from negative thoughts. 

Embrace beginnings. 

Release your worry. 

Answer the question: “What is calling you?”

 

 
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