Crossroads AKA Freaking Out

It’s happening again.

This isn’t my first attempt at blogging. It’s not even my second or third. And every time, I freak out and quit for the same reason: Holy shit, people are actually reading my words! People I don’t know have “found” me and are “following” me.

You’re thinking, “Of course, people are reading this. You’re writing on the INTERNET. YOU are the one putting stuff out there, duh.”

Or maybe you’re thinking,” Of course people are reading this. YOU personally told me about it and gave me the URL, duh.”

Whether you stumbled across this blog by happenstance or you’re one of the dozen or so IRL friends I’ve invited into this world, I want to say this: Hi. I’m glad you’re here, really. I hope something I’ve written in the last few years helped you or gave you insight into who I am. But, right now, ARG!!

These thoughts have swirled in my head for months now. Cancer gave me some stuff to write in the interim, but now that’s done, and I’m fine and refocusing on getting life under control (which will be much easier when my skin stops burning and itching and peeling from the radiation. Ahem…)

There’s a lot I want to write about, that I need to write about because this is how I process stuff and it’s hella more convenient to whip out my phone and write than to carry around a journal and (gasp) a writing utensil. But I just can’t, you guys. I’m stuck because SOMEONE MIGHT READ MY WORDS, THE WORDS I’M PUTTING OUT THERE ON THE INTERWEBS.

Examples of stuff rolling around in my head:

  • What’s going on with Ethan and how I feel completely overwhelmed and alone and unsure about things and how I’m tired of having the same conversations with his school and is what they’re asking/DEMANDING legal? (Issue: Hi, moms-with-kids-who-attend-school-with-my-kids! Will I be alienated or judged by the other moms? Do they hear things from their kids and think Ethan is THAT kid? Spoiler alert: SOMETIMES he is, SOMETIMES he isn’t. Would writing about the issues and my position on these issues only strengthen that perception?)
  • My relationship with B, what’s next, and my frustrations with getting to the “what’s next” (Issue: Hi, B! We’ve discussed many of these things – to no real resolution. At the end of the last two * ahem * wine-fueled conversations on this topic I said, “I’m leaving the ball in your court.” So would writing about it be taking the ball back? That’s not cool. Would writing about it seem like I was harping on certain things? That’s not the intent. Blarg.)
  • Deciding what’s next with my career and the timing to make a big, bold move (Issue: Hi, colleague-friends! Work stuff… Enough said.)

Part of me feels like it’s time to close it down, but this forum has been so GOOD for me over the last few years… Part of me wants to keep writing, to push through these thoughts, to keep going and growing, and if people get pissed or offended, then so be it…

Until next time…I think.

Musical flashback: Moonlight Feels Right

The song played every time Mike and I ate at Joe’s Crab Shack. I never heard it anywhere else – ever – until today. 

It reminded Mike of his childhood. He said its one of the few things he associated with “happy memories” of his early life and his parents. He remembered hearing it at his parents’ softball games when he was really young. But he didn’t know the song name or the group that sang the tune. 

For his birthday one year, I researched and found it – “Moonlight Feels Right” by Starbuck. (This was pre-Shazam.) I stealthily put the song on his iPod. SURPRISE! It’s a good memory. 

But it’s an awful song. Ridiculously stereotypical 70s sound. And it was playing on the Sirius 70s On 7 channel when I was on my way to pick up the kids. I hadn’t heard the song in a long time. I smiled at the happy memory, but I couldn’t wait for it to end. 

It’s still an awful song. 

Mother’s Day

I realized something yesterday.

Mother’s Day is a day, like any other day, for “only” moms. It was a nice enough day, in so far as it was like the Sunday before and probably the Sunday to follow.

As an only parent, there’s no sleeping in on Mother’s Day. My kids get up between 5:30 and 6:15 every.freaking.day. They each threw homemade Mother’s Day gifts at me before I was even out of bed. (Lauren made a card, and Ethan made a sun catcher and a Mom poem.)

Then they demanded breakfast right away. And conveniently forgot to take the dog out or get his food. So the dog jumped around under my feet as I screamed for someone to take care of him, at the same time that the kids screamed for berries. No, toast. No, cereal. No, eggs. OK, how about a little of everything?

And after they decided NOT to eat anything, it was up to me to clean up the mess. Then off to the shower, which should’ve been good for 10 minutes of peace and quiet, but instead became a parade of kids tattle-tailing on each other. Forget drying my hair or putting on makeup, I was lucky just to get dressed before I referred a wrestling match in my bedroom.

When I finally wrangled the kids into the car to go get flowers to plant (my Mother’s Day gift to myself AND “from” the kids since I let them pick out the flowers), it was complete chaos at the nursery. Apparently, everyone shopped for flowers. I lifted Lauren in the cart, to her dismay, because I just couldn’t chase both of them AND find flowers AND keep my sanity. Lauren continued to complain about being in the cart, and Ethan continued to aggravate her as I check out. They both argued with each other as I put them in the car and cranked the music to try to ignore the “he poked me” and “she’s looking at me” coming from the backseat.

I realized that was now lunchtime. (Where did the day go?) And I asked the kids what they want for lunch. They both shouted out fast food places (different ones, naturally) and suddenly burger and fries didn’t seem too bad. Quick drive thru order/pick up and casually tossed of the kids’ meal toys into the backseat and then the drive home.

The dog was barking from the backyard, where we left him basking in the sun. Flowers were taken out of the car to be planted later. And we sat down to lunch. The kid meal toys were apparently too much fun to get anyone to eat their food. And when they did finish, Ethan was still hungry so he asked Lauren for a few of her chicken nuggets (which we knew she won’t eat). She protested, he yelled, I picked up the nuggets from her plate and tossed them to Ethan across the table. Everyone was quiet for a few minutes before it was Lauren’s nap time.

Nap time is always a protest, but I convinced her to have some “quiet time” before we planted flowers. “No quiet time, no helping me plant,” I told her. She cooperated.

Ethan went outside to play. I sat on the couch to fold laundry. My eyes got heavy and I apparently fell asleep, only to wake up to Ethan watching a stupid movie. When did he come in the house?

Lauren started singing, “Is it time for me to go downstairs? I really want to go downstairs!” It’s her post-nap anthem.

She came downstairs and apparently changed into another outfit, but I didn’t even want to argue (or know) about what was wrong with what she was wearing when she went upstairs. We walked to the front door to go plant flowers, just as a huge crack of thunder exploded and the sky opened up.

Planting will have to wait. “Why?” Lauren asked.

I let the kids share iPad time as I folded laundry and picked up rogue Legos. I asked Ethan if he finished his homework. “Oh yeah,” he said. “I forgot.” And he scrambled to finish Spanish, math, and reading.

Then it was dinner time, and I decided to just take out leftovers from the week. I needed refrigerator room anyway, and the leftover Chinese, fettuccine alfredo, and steak and chicken fajitas should satisfy everyone. Of course, each kiddo wanted something different, but that’s okay. I just wanted the leftovers gone. Ethan said, “Maybe if we had a dad, he’d take you out to dinner for Mother’s Day.”

We polished off everything except the cashew chicken and some rice. Then I cleaned up the mess, started the dishwasher, and sat down for a few minutes before bathtime and storytime and bedtime.

It wasn’t a bad day, just a normal one. For me, apparently everyday is Mother’s Day.

(I should mention that B got me a Mother’s Day gift, a monthly subscription to BirchBox. I’ve looked into subscribing several times, but just never did. He NAILED his gift to me – I LOVE girly product samples! Now I feel pressured to find the perfect Father’s Day gift for him…)

Ex date

I was robbed of having an ex-husband. I never had a chance to figure out how to co-parent or balance an ex with a new relationship. Some friends have remarked that I’m lucky in that way. Ha!

I really felt, when Mike and I separated, that we’d eventually fall into a rhythm, a separate-lives-but-always-intertwined sort of understanding. I honestly thought we’d maintain a friendship revolving around the kids. We were together for almost 20 years. We knew each other in a way no one else could ever imagine – we matured from college to grad school to life to parenthood. It was a bond no one else could ever be part of. Even if we wouldn’t be together, we’d remain attached.

Perhaps it’s because of this mindset that I “get” B’s relationship with his ex-wife. I’ve met her on a couple of occasions, usually in passing as they’d exchange the kids with one another.

Of course, B told stories about her. And, of course, I’d done my own research. Based on her Pinterest boards and some stuff she’d posted publicly on FB, I thought we could be friends (if things were different).

That’s why when B proposed going to the circus with all four kids – and his ex-wife – I was totally game.

B was nervous to ask if I’d be okay with the ex coming along. She wanted to be there when her girls experienced their first circus. She and B make an effort to do things together with their kids every month or so. And she’s their mom – she SHOULD be part of these things. I was totally cool with it.

I was only concerned that Ethan would ask wildly inappropriate questions of her. B laughed at this thought and said he should totally mess with her. (I disagreed and bribed E with Pokemon cards if he was on his best behavior.)

So we all went to the circus. Me and Ethan and Lauren. B and his ex and their two girls.

The ex greeted me with a HUGE hug, complimented my hair, and acted like we’d known each other for years. She shook E’s hand and told Lauren she liked her dress. And we were off.

We arrived just as the circus was starting. Good timing, considering three of the four kids are UNDER the age of four (meaning no one has any patience to wait). Lauren and B’s daughter (who’s the same age as L) both sat on my lap. The baby sat on the ex’s lap with Ethan sitting at her side. (E adores the baby, and the baby LOVES E, so they wanted to sit close.) B sat next to me and the girls.

We watched. We laughed. We ooh’d and ahh’d. B and I held hands and made our own commentary about the ridiculous acts – like SkyMan, a completely generic superhero whose act was basically one bungee cord trick after another.

After two hours, the circus went into intermission and all three little girls broke down. So we left before someone was shot out of the cannon (bummer).

It was really a fun morning with B and his girls…and the ex. The ex and I parted ways with another big hug and a few laughs in the parking garage elevator. Later, the ex told B that it was obvious why he liked me, saying that we share the same sense of silly, nerdy humor. She also said E and L were awesome, and she liked spending time with us.

The ex is always going to be part of B’s life, and as we approach the one-year mark of our relationship, I hope to be part of B’s life for a long time, too. I think there’ll be more outings, just the seven of us…

RANDOM: Sparks/Fireworks and Handy Manly

I’ve written and rewritten this entry a million times, and it’s still not “right.” But I need to get these thoughts out of my head now, so I’m hitting “Publish”…

I had a great time with B on Saturday night. It was nice and comfortable and fun. I smile when I think about him or when he texts or I see his name in my email. (He’s started signing his emails with “Yours” and his name. It’s quite sweet.) Even friends to whom I’ve talked since the date have commented that they can “hear” my smile through the phone. And the ladies in the grief group commented on my smile and laughter last night as I recounted my weekend adventures – one of the ladies who also lost her husband and dad commented, “I like your life.”

(FYI: I’m smiling as I type this…)

Side note: Even if there’s no romantic relationship with B, I think we’d be good friends (but not Insurance Guy kind of friends!), and I’m so thankful that my first date was a positive experience. The experience proved that I CAN date, that I WANT to date, that the time is RIGHT.

But…

Two things keep swirling in my head:

  • Spark versus fireworks: I need to come to terms with the “getting to know” someone stage of dating. Having last dated in college (1995!), that step was nonexistent. I went to a small college – 1,000 students – so dating another student meant we knew everything about each other: hometowns, siblings, what (who) they did last weekend, past relationships, how smart they were. The basics. So when a boy in college took you to the Reflecting Pond and told you that he liked you, there were fireworks because damn, you liked him too – you KNEW him; you KNEW EVERYTHING about him. But things are different as an adult, especially someone pursuing a relationship through online dating. I don’t know anything about these guys, other than what they put in their profiles. (And I’m not sure much of that is accurate…) There’s a period of asking questions and telling stories and listening (and googling to make sure answers match up). Getting to know someone results in sparks and the butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling. Sparks are nice, but I want fireworks. I think fireworks might come after the “get to know” stage. God, I hope there will be fireworks someday with someone…
  • Handy Manly: B is very nice. Kind. Gentle. You can see it in his eyes and facial expressions, hear it in his voice. This guy is a NICE person. And that’s good – don’t get me wrong. But…I keep reflecting on something my mom asked on Sunday: “Is he a manly man?” Well, no, not really, I don’t think so. “Well,” said my mom, “You need to find someone handy – to fix stuff. Mike sucked at fixing stuff. You need someone who’s not soft.” Now, Mike wasn’t a manly man. In fact, he was far from it. He couldn’t build or fix things. He didn’t hunt or fish. I teased that he was “handy for a lawyer” but truth was Mike couldn’t saw, hammer, or wrench his way out of a paper bag. Sure, it would be nice to have someone “fix stuff” but that’s hardly my sole criteria for finding a partner. Hell, in the last year, I’ve learned to use a snow blower, hang shelves straight the first time, and fix a leaky toilet – I’m doing okay with handy stuff on my own. But her words keep ringing in my ears… I’ve been talking to B for almost a month now; we’ve been on exactly one date – “how handy are you?” hasn’t exactly come up in conversation but I don’t get the feeling that he’s super-duper handy. I think my mom’s whole criticism stems from my dad, who was extremely handy and very tough – he was manly, for sure. She compares all men against him, but quite frankly, men today are much different from those of her generation. If he’s nice and kind, why should it matter?

Add to the list criteria other people think I should/do have: does not run marathons and handy around the house. Oh boy!