Now is Good.

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

They Are Who They Are. August 30, 2012

Filed under: 3 kids,Childhood,Humor,Motherhood — nowisgoodblog @ 8:51 am

If you know me in real life, there’s a good chance you also know my kids.  And if you know my kids, you know that although they may *look* a lot alike, their personalities couldn’t possibly be more different.

My kids raise the birth order theory to a new level.  Avery is my eldest, my linear-thinking problem solver, my mature and responsible child, my planner, my “I’m-determined-to-fit-into-the-grownup-world” kid.  Owen is my middle, my wild card, my emotional and imaginative son, my costume-wearing lover of fantasy and make-believe who marches to the beat of his own drum.  Amelia is my baby, my social butterfly who introduces herself without qualm and who manhandles friendship and devotion from complete strangers, my happy-go-lucky sunshine, my constant performer who tap dances her way through life with jazz hands blazing, determined to claim her fair share (or more) of the spotlight.  They are who they are.

Recently, we sat down for dinner at a local patio restaurant.  An orange Lamborghini was valet-parked across the street … quite a rare sight in our suburban bubble.  Giant SUVs and tricked-out minivans?  A dime a dozen.  Elite Italian sports cars with Back to the Future doors?  Not so much.  The kids couldn’t take their eyes off the car.  We watched as everyone within a two-block radius walked up and inspected the car, circling and ogling and making clear that this was a car deserving of attention.  After our meal, we took our turn with the ogling and snapped the obligatory photo.  Seeing the Lamborghini up close, my kids’ reactions were such perfect representations of their unique personalities that I experienced a jarring moment of clarity: They really and truly are who they are.  They are exactly that and nothing else, and my job as their mother is to nurture and foster and protect their unique selves (and in Amelia’s case, maybe protect her from her overly social self).  I had that lovely “Motherhood Moment” of clarity and then I laughed my ass off, because my children really do entertainment me.


How much does that car cost?

How much does an obstetrician make? 

How long will I have to work before I can buy that car?


Mom, I bet you a million dollars that the man who owns that car is wearing a solid gold suit. 




Can we wait here for that car’s person to come out? 

Because I bet if we’re really, really nice to him, he’ll take us home with him.

They are who they are.


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

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.




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.


Thankful Mama. November 24, 2011

Filed under: Childhood,Dads,divorce,Motherhood,Thanks,Writing — nowisgoodblog @ 7:23 am
Tags: , ,

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.


Back on Track. November 1, 2011

Life is back on track and as busy as ever.*  Once my kids came home last Monday, things turned around considerably.  We settled into the normal chaotic routine.  I shelved the remnants of The Really Bad Weekend and just focused on the enjoyment of having all my chicks back under my roof.

On Thursday I had drinks with some new girlfriends (because I’ve learned you can never have too many great ones!).  I like these women—they are the rare breed where false fronts are unnecessary.  One I clicked with immediately … so much so that we were almost instantaneously swapping kids and arranging carpools and settling into a well-worn groove.  If I believed in such things, I’d say we must have known each other before … somehow, somewhere.  How else to explain skipping over that new acquaintance stage and zipping right to forged friendship?  Good stuff, that.  The other woman just went through a divorce that was eerily (and unfortunately) similar to mine.  That right there stripped away all pretenses immediately—the pain and the strength and the gamut of everything else just laid bare on the table from minute one.  No hiding.   As I said, I like these women.

On Friday I saw some fabulous live music—three of my favorite Texas artists together on one stage.  It was good.

L to R: Warren Hood, Bruce Robison, Charlie Robison

The smile plastered on my face throughout the show just got bigger when I forced a photo with two of them afterward … and was gifted with some super fun (and super harmless) flirting as a result.  I’m not sure there is anything more instantly gratifying and confidence-affirming than the flirt—it is truly the high that never fails.

On Saturday my entire family came to watch Owen’s football game.  My solo attendance from the week before was rivaled by my 6 staunch family supporters this week (plus one sweet friend who came just to join the army).  We lost, and The Ex blamed me (really no need to get into the insane details of *that*), but it was a minor blip in an otherwise lovely day.  Saturday night I hosted a low-key Halloween party for some of my high school girlfriends and their families.  The kids (11 of them) played outside all night in the balmy Texas October.  Food grazing, wine drinking, belly laughing, battery recharging.  I continue to be grateful for these:

Sunday was lazy (some of us spent the entire day in our pajamas).  I cleaned and did laundry.  My kids entertained themselves and each other for hours, creating a fake restaurant with hand-drawn signs and menus and and paper cut-outs of foods that I ordered and enjoyed and paid for with real money (at $3 total for multiple hours’ worth of their entertainment, it was a steal).  The TV was never turned on, the iTouches and the DSes and the cell phones were ignored, there was no fighting.  Sometimes my children amaze me.

Also amazing?  How quickly everything wrong can flip to everything right.  It’s all back on track (for now, anyway).  And it’s all worth remembering.

*Sorry for the delay in updating.  I sometimes forget that once I put my crap out there, it’s out there.  Some of you are kind enough to worry about it … and about me … and follow up to make sure things have gotten better.  They have.  And I thank you for checking.

Also, Owen’s birthday post is still forthcoming … eventually.


Wonders. September 27, 2011

Filed under: Childhood,Motherhood,quality time,Realizations — nowisgoodblog @ 8:22 am

Amelia’s school ends an hour earlier than the big kids’.  Which is just enough time to be inconvenient—it’s not long enough to go back home and get anything accomplished and it’s not long enough to really knock out any errands, but it’s too long to just drive from one carpool lane to the other.  Since the beginning of the school year, it’s been an hour in my day that has felt wasted … and most days I really don’t have an extra hour to spare.

Yesterday, though, I realized what that hour really was … or what it could be:  an hour for insight into my baby’s head and heart in a way that doesn’t typically happen.  Amelia’s the youngest, which means the already too-busy lives of her older brother and sister monopolize the lion’s share of our afternoons and weekends.  She gets toted along for the ride, but it’s not really her trip.  Generally, Amelia has to yell the loudest to be heard, whine the most shrilly to get attention, and entertain with wild abandon in order to grab her share of the spotlight.

Except for that one hour each day.  In that hour, it’s all her.  It’s her time.  And it’s high time I started appreciating that for the gift that it is.

Yesterday we were driving down the road en route to a quick store run-through between the school pick-ups.  My mind was on the work waiting at home to be finished, the deadlines I’m not sure how I’ll meet, the unfolded laundry, the bills, the coordination of schedules and appointments and lessons and meetings and everything else.  From the backseat, Amelia asked,

“Mommy, do you have any wonders?”

–What do you mean, wonders?

“Like, when you look up at the sky and you just fink [think] about fings [things]?”

—Sure I do.  All sorts of things.  What are some of your wonders, Milla?

“My wonders are trees.  And leafs.  And mamas and daddies and stop signs.  And grass and mittens and houses and schools and stuffed animals and movies and peoples and The Brady Bunch and car seats.  Oh, and sustructions [instructions].  Those are all my wonders.”

Mostly, yesterday?  My wonder was Amelia.



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