Saturday, April 19, 2014

355 : Celebrate Life!

You may think the title of this post is somehow related to Easter.  Well, sadly no.  It's just a total coincidence that this post happens to fall on the same weekend the world celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.  What I am celebrating more is the fact that I actually have a life this weekend.  I have time to myself.  A weekend to myself!!  Woo Hoo!  This might seem a little silly.  When I got divorced, I was initially terrified of the weekends without my kids.  But soon enough I embraced them.  I looked forward to the freedom of sleeping in as late as I wanted, eating whatever I wanted, doing whatever I wanted!  It was the most amazing gift for a single working mom.  TIME.  So this weekend was the first time I had actually had a weekend to myself in 7 weeks.  It had been non stop for almost 2 months- plans that included both friends and family.  And don't get me wrong, I loved my friends and family but all that time with others only made me more excited for that time for myself.  It was worth celebrating!

Friday, April 18, 2014

354 : Wise Words

I was struggling a little bit earlier this week.  It wasn't one thing in particular, just overall stress that seemed to be building.  No matter where it started, it always seemed to expand into other areas of my life.  I was venting to a friend about a variety of topics, but most specifically an interaction at work that had left me feel bad.  And it was then that my very wise friend reminded me of something.

Only you can let that person make you feel bad.

Her words made me stop to think for a minute.  Yes, it was easier said than done.  But it was undeniably true.  I couldn't allow myself to accept this negative energy.  Not from anyone.  A boss.  A colleague.  Even my Ex.  Life was too short and I was working hard enough on myself, I didn't need to absorb anything extra.  I knew I would not always be able to manage these feelings, but being aware of it was half of the battle.  I promised myself I would stay grounded in this truth moving forward as much as I could.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

353 : Shut It Down

For the past several months, I had been burning the candle at both ends trying to excel at work while also being the best mama I could be.  I nailed it on certain occasions.  In both regards.  I mitigated situations successfully at work and then I came home and made my Grandma Lalley's banana bread with my son.  (God Damn was it good).  I enjoyed the challenge of mastering it all at certain points but I also felt stressed at my ability to keep up.  Yesterday had been a stressful day at work.  My friend, Heather, had given her notice (see post #346) and as her final days drew closer, I began to feel more and more overwhelmed about how I would keep up in her absence.  I also had certain moments were I felt slightly discouraged by this change.  It felt like no matter how hard I tried I would always have more to do at the end of that day.  Last night, though, I did something that I had not done in a very long time.  I left the office and I didn't look back.  I didn't check my emails that night, I didn't respond to any texts and I just shut it down.  I needed a break.  For my mental health.  I would be back first thing in the morning.  They could have me all to themselves again.  Could I do this every night?  No.  I liked to work in the evenings to prepare myself for the next day.  But I could shut it down every now and then.  And so I did.  I closed my computer, left the office and didn't look back.

Go Me!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

352 : What Kind of Mom am I?

As the custodial calendar fell this year, I would not have my boys for Easter.  I'm sure if I stopped and dwelled on this for a long time, I would feel sad about it.  I had consciously chosen not to do that, though, so I was feeling okay about it.  The past couple weeks (months even) had been very busy.  Fun, social busy but busy just the same.  So when I realized that this upcoming weekend was Easter and I would not be with my kiddos, well, I was just fine with that.  I was looking forward to having a little time to myself.  I wanted to be free to do whatever I wanted to do.  Get drunk.  Go to Yoga.  Try a new recipe.  Bake.  Sleep.  Whatever I felt like, I could do.  This freedom was what I had started cherishing more than anything when it came to my weekends "off' from the boys be it Easter or not.  It wasn't until just the other morning, though, that I began to think about how I would celebrate Easter with them even if we were not together for the actual day.  It seemed easier with other holidays.  Christmas or Birthdays required presents and therefore the ideas came more naturally.  Easter, however, was different.  I knew my kids would be with their inlaws and I was confident that my former mother in law would have enough sugar to make up for whatever I was missing.  As I thought about this more, a bigger question began to surface.  What kind of mom was I going to be?  It had been important to my ex and I (even when we were together) not to spoil our kids.  I use that term loosely, as everyone's situation is different.  For me, I did not want to create an environment where every holiday meant presents and time with each parent or family meant more presents.  I wasn't as concerned about celebrating the religious part of Easter with my kids (they were a little young for that still) but more so wanted to do something that captured the spirit and tradition for our family.  I had missed my opportunity the weekend before to decorate eggs.  I had the most adorable pottery barn kids easter baskets, but did I really want them to come home off their sugar high only to see another treat awaiting them?  No.  I talked this through with a couple friends in search for the perfect solution to what would be an ongoing dilemma.  How could I give them everything even when I didn't have them and how could I ensure that I wasn't giving them too much?  In the end, I settled on the idea of having my own easter egg hunt take place upon their return that sunday afternoon/evening.  The eggs didn't need to be filled with treats.  It was about the hunt itself that would be fun for them.  I felt good about this approach.  I wanted to give them the world, but I didn't want them to have twice as much as a result of our divorce.  In some ways this was unavoidable, but in other ways it was not.  I felt good about my decision and hoped I was headed in the right direction.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

351 : This too Shall Pass

Today's blog is dedicated to my newest subscriber: you know who you are.

My loyal readers know that there have been several themes present on my blog since day one: managing stress, accepting certain realities, facing your fears, hitting rock bottom, landing on your feet and most importantly learning to love yourself.  These are not specific titles of posts, but rather overall ideas that have been consistently woven into the content of my blog.  I've struggled with all of them at varying points and continue to struggle at times.  Such is life; the constant roller coaster of ups and downs.  And sometimes when you start to have more than a couple 'downs' in a row, it begins to wear on you.  This is perfectly normal.  This happens to the best of us.  It's important, though, to not lose sight that there will be an 'up' again.  This is how I talk myself through things.  When I am feeling that uncertainty, when I am feeling stress, when I am feeling anything other than good- I simply take a step back and remind myself what it is that I absolutely have to process at that moment.  Everything else can wait.  And if that doesn't work, then I usually go back and start reading earlier entries in my blog.  I instantly recognize the progress I've made through my writing.  For this reason alone, I encourage anyone who is reading to keep some sort of journal for themselves if you are willing.  It's amazing how much you can learn about yourself through your own words.  For me, when I go back and read my earlier posts, I see that there were days that I felt sad, there were days that I felt good, but above all, I persevered.  I'm still not even sure how on some days, but I did it.  I'm still here. I'm still standing.  And I even find that I am happy most days.  How did this happen?  I don't know.  But I do know that it is possible.  I know that life can be cruel at times and it's certainly not always fair.  But you can get through it.  You can come out on the other side.  You can be happy.  I did it.  You can too.

Monday, April 14, 2014

350 : Men and Divorce

In the past year, I had befriended three different divorced men on various levels.  Two of whom I got to know through work, and one was a guy I just met on my own.  Divorce was a tricky thing.  And divorce with kids was even trickier.  It was almost as though the minute you learned someone had gone through a similar situation, you felt instantly connected to them.  Or at least I did.  I had to be conscious that the divorce itself was not something to measure compatibility against, but initially it made me feel more comfortable in meeting people.  Recently, I was talking with the guy I had been seeing as of late and I asked him the bold question that had been on my mind.  Why did you get divorced?  He seemed comfortable with my question and was open about his answer.  There was no shock or big reveal- it was simply a relationship where the parties involved seemed to have lost each other.  I listened attentively, but could not help but thinking the way in which he was describing everything sounded exactly how my ex was probably spinning our story anyone who asked.  This made me sick.  From my perspective there had been nothing simple or cordial about our situation except for the grace and dignity in which I had consistently responded to everything.  And I told my friend right then and there how his story made me feel.  I could picture my ex peddling that exact same bullshit to another woman.  And it made me sick.  What did it matter how he chose to portray the situation?  I guess in some way, it was still the ultimate insult to me. He had abandoned me and our children.  He had done so in quite possibly the worst way possible.  And yet, I was concerned about what he was telling people about it?  What he was telling people about me? I guess what it came down to was this.  I could accept his choice to end things.  It was not what I wanted, and not what I would have chosen, but regardless I could accept it.  What I could not accept was any defamation of my character.  This bothered me.  Just admit that you screwed up!  Just admit that you walked out. Perhaps he was doing this and I didn't even know but I doubted it.  And in the end it didn't matter.  We both knew who each other really was and what had gone down between us.  Still, it felt that it was easier for men in some way than it was for women.  And I was proof of that because here I was spending time with a man who was telling me the same story and I believed everything he was telling me.  Was it really just that simple?  I acknowledged that it was something I needed to let go of and promised myself that I would.  Eventually.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

349 : My Life is Getting Easier

Yesterday was the first time in a long time that I felt like my life was getting easier.  The air was full of new life and hope.  I remember a similar weekend almost 13 years ago when I had come to visit my friends for the first warm weekend in the big city. I decided right then and there I wanted to move to Chicago.  And now so many years later I was blessed again with such a beautiful day.  Yet this time, it wasn't about moving- it was a reminder that my life was getting somewhat easier.  That morning, I had gone grocery shopping with my boys.  Then we got home, packed a quick lunch and headed over to my friend Kelley's.  My oldest rode his bike and my youngest relaxed in the stroller.  I was so impressed with my oldest.  He was peeling down the street and stopped at every corner awaiting instruction.  We made it to Kelley's safely, had our lunch and then made our way back home.  Once again, my oldest cruised the sidewalk with confidence on his bike.  It was so fun to watch.  We got home and my youngest went right down for his nap.  And then I spent the afternoon prepping for the dinner party with my girls: homemade egg rolls, brown rice and a kale salad with Annie's asian sesame dressing (YUM!)  All the while my oldest kept me company at the counter by enjoying this water paints.  I was able to do stuff and he was with me but was entertaining himself! After naps, we headed out to the park; my oldest on his bike again and my youngest driving his red car.  And all the fresh air helped them go right to sleep that night.  No fights.  No meltdowns.  No delays.  They both just got in bed and as soon as their heads hit the pillow they were out.  It was amazing.  It was getting easier.  Parenting.  All on my own.  I was doing it!  Was it that I was just getting more comfortable with it?  Was it that my boys were getting older and thus becoming more manageable?  Or was it just because it was the first warm, sunny, beautiful day that we had experienced in nearly 7 months?  Quite possibly it was a trifecta of all three.  But it was getting easier so I had to stop and note that one.