On anger

It’s 11:30 at night, the girls are asleep, the dishwasher is running, clothes are folded and put away, daycare bags for tomorrow are packed. I should be sleeping right now.

Yet all I can think about is this rage I feel swirling around in my head, and I don’t know what to do with it.

I’m not generally an angry person. I don’t like to hold grudges. That’s not how I want to live my life. I don’t want to be one of those angry, bitter people. (You know the people I’m talking about. Everyone knows at least a handful of them.)

Lately all of my anger is aimed at Dave. Other than the obvious reasons, I can’t exactly pinpoint why. Generally we’ve been ok with each other lately. We’re civil, anyway.

But then I have a day like Monday – and of course, even though I texted Dave to let him know we were at the ER, I still had a lot of that resentment, that “your kid is sick, you should be here right now; or at the very least, you should be taking care of your other kid while I take care of the sick one” feeling.

I’ve also felt that way a lot over the past couple of weeks, when I’ve been having problems getting Lucy to sleep. Because yes, as it turns out, I do kind of need another adult in the house who can take over at 4 a.m. when I’m at the end of my rope.

I’m guessing it’s natural to feel that way when the father of your children lives 3,000 miles away, and is no longer a regular physical presence in their lives.

But it really hit me hard this past Saturday. Why Saturday? Because I spent all day with the girls, just me and them. And yes, it was exhausting (my god, was it ever), but there were so many good moments.

And I just stop and think, god damn you, you’re missing everything.

He doesn’t know how Lucy asks for her bottle, what words she knows, her favorite foods, who her favorite person is (hint: my dad), or the little “jokes” she tells. (Slapping her forehead and saying, “D’oh!” is one guaranteed to make me smile every time.)

He doesn’t see the way Lucy’s face lights up every morning when she sees her big sister for the first time.

He doesn’t get to look in his rearview mirror and see the two of them in the backseat, and catch a glimpse of Catie reaching over to tickle Lucy to make her laugh.

He doesn’t know what Catie’s favorite bedtime book is this week. He doesn’t know the songs she sings along with on the radio.

He misses the bad stuff, sure – he never has to do the grunt work of changing diapers or reminding Catie again that she needs to pick up her toys. But he misses all of those amazing and precious moments too. It makes me so angry FOR THEM. They won’t get to have memories of their childhood that involve their dad. At best, those memories will be sporadic and fleeting.

We have a lot of mutual friends on Facebook (obviously, we de-friended each other a LONG time ago), so I hear things about how he talks about the kids. He makes it sound like he’s this super-involved and loving dad. I guess that’s what he wants his friends and family to think, because the reality of it is just so unbelievably shitty.

And he brought it all on himself. He chose to leave. There’s nothing I can do about it. I can’t force him to stay in North Carolina and be a present figure in his children’s lives.

I’ve dated/am dating guys who are divorced with kids. So far, all of them have joint custody and see their children on a 50-50 basis with their exes. I’m jealous of that. I mean, sure, I’m jealous that their ex-wives get a break, some “free” nights off here and there. But I’m mainly jealous that their kids will grow up with their fathers in their lives. I wish to God I could make that happen for my girls.

I can’t fix this. I can’t change what it is. I just have to figure out some way to work around this anger that I can’t seem to get out of my head right now.

catching up

So! My website was down for a few days because apparently spammers have nothing better to do than take over my measly little blog.

(Don’t ask me, I don’t get it either.)

Random stuff from this past week:

1. The yard sale last Saturday was good. We had a pretty impressive turn-out of people, made a few hundred bucks, and the rest went to Goodwill. All in all, a success.

During the yard sale, I set up a couple of beach towels on the front yard (picnic-style), and set Lucy down so she could stay happy watching all of the people come and go. (When she got bored & fussy, my dad walked her around.) A few people asked me how much I was asking for the baby. I told them to come back at 3 a.m. and I’d make them a really good deal.

Lucy models Mommy's headband.

Really. There are some days that I’d be totally willing to listen to anyone who’d make me an offer.

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2. I had lunch with The Guy last week. We generally take turns paying for meals, because you know, I’m a liberated woman and all of that. He picked up the check for this one, and paid with his credit card.

When the waiter brought the check back to the table, he said, “Thanks for coming in today, Mr. and Mrs. [his last name].” He and I both choked on our beverages.

Moral of the story: CHECK FOR A RING, Y’ALL. It takes two seconds and spares everyone involved in a whoooole lotta awkward.

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3. Is there anything else going on that I need to tell you? There’s a couple of things that are not bloggable (don’t ask), and other stuff which just sounds whiny and y’all don’t care, so let’s skip over that.

Really, who wants to listen to me moan about how much my kids wear me out?

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4. Alright, they’re cute sometimes.

My girls are apparently riveted by The Fresh Beat Band.

They even make watching the Fresh Beat Band tolerable.

single parenting suckage

Ok, here comes one of those confessional type blog posts that I don’t normally write.

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I’ve been on Lexapro since last year. If you were reading my blog when I was pregnant, I blamed most of my anxiety on the house break-in, but the vast majority of it was that my marriage was falling apart while I was pregnant.

I would go to my OB appointments and see all of these happy glowing pregnant ladies in the waiting room, and when they called me back to an exam room and asked how I was doing, I would cry. I felt awful because there was no sense of excitement or joy about my baby’s arrival. It felt like my due date was just going to kick off the countdown to the end of my marriage.

(And clearly I was right about that, since Dave and I split ten weeks after Lucy’s birth.)

So, yeah, I’ve been on an anti-depressant ever since then. I think for me, this whole depression/anxiety thing is situational and not physiological. There are occasional times when I feel like I probably don’t need it anymore, but since it’s not hurting anything, I’ve decided that I’m staying on it at least until my divorce is finalized.

Honestly, the idea of not taking it scares me, because I have no idea how I’d cope without it. Maybe I’d be fine, but god, what if I’m not?

And really, there’s only one unpleasant side effect of Lexapro: I can’t cry. Or, rarely, anyway. Sometimes it’s awful, because something will happen and I really want to cry, and I can’t. I get a lump in my throat and the stinging in my eyes, but it never breaks through. I’ll get a headache because I just can’t get that release to get it out of my system.

The closest thing I can think to compare it to (be warned, this is not G-rated) is the feeling like when you’re juuuuust about to have an orgasm and for some reason, you can’t get there. It’s frustrating, to say the least.

(Btw, I used this analogy to explain it to the guy I’m dating. His response was, “I understand that there are words coming out of your mouth, but they make no sense.” Typical dude, I’m thinking. He also said that if he had to choose between not being able to cry and not being able to have an orgasm, he’d be fine with never crying again. I’m guessing 99.9% of the males on earth would agree with him.)

So, it’s a bad side-effect, and an annoying one, but most of the time, I can live with it.

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And then I have days like yesterday.

My weekend started off ok. I had a baby-sitter planned for Saturday night, but my date got canceled (emergency came up with his ex-wife and he had to take his kids; it happens, not a big deal). Catie was so excited about the baby-sitter coming over that I decided not to cancel, and instead, I went to the movies by myself.

(I finally saw the Hunger Games. I haven’t read the books, but I was curious about it. And I liked the movie, although I thought a lot of it was extremely disturbing. But I guess that’s the point.)

Sunday morning, when we woke up, Catie asked if we could go get pancakes. It’s rare that she asks me for something that I can say “yes” to, but that sounded do-able. We got dressed and went to IHOP.

While we were sitting at IHOP, Catie just very matter-of-factly blurted out, “Mommy, you love Lucy more than me.”

*RECORD SCRATCH*

WHAT?

I said, “Sweetie, that’s not true. Why would you think that?”

She said, “Well, Lucy’s cuter than me.”

I told her that was absolutely not true, that they were both beautiful and that I loved them both.

It bothered me, and I repeated it to her again later. Just sort of, “Hey, remember when you said that? Y’all are both my girls, and you are both beautiful, and I love you both the same.” She seemed to accept it, but man, that whole thing rattled me.

Really, if I look at it from a 5 year-old’s perspective? I get why she thinks that. I am constantly fussing at Catie to be gentle with the baby, share her toys with the baby, stop being mean to the baby, yadda yadda. But I don’t ever yell at Lucy, because, you know… she’s a baby.

And Lucy gets a lot more of my attention, because, again: she’s a baby. Catie is five and doesn’t need me to constantly watch her every move to make sure she doesn’t shove a choking hazard in her mouth or go tumbling down the stairs.

I don’t know how to fix that. It just is what it is.

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Sunday afternoon, we hung out at my parents’ house for a while. Then I took the kids to the playground, and we came home to do the whole dinner/bath/bedtime thing.

Oh! Big milestone here! During all of that, Lucy took 4 steps on her own. Left, right, left, right, then she fell on her tush. She was so proud of herself, and afterward, she kept standing up on her own with this look on her face, like, “Hey, look at this new trick I learned!” So far, I think 4 steps is her record, but she took 1 or 2 steps a lot last night.

And of course, it’s been 4 1/2 years since the last time I dealt with this, so I forgot how every new developmental milestone totally screws up their sleep schedules.

So bedtime rolls around, and Lucy is nowhere near sleepy. I let her stay up a little later than usual, hoping that she’d burn herself out and eventually go to bed easily.

That didn’t happen. What happened is that I let her stay up just a little too long, and she freaking lost it. She was so past the point of exhaustion, she didn’t know what to do with herself. So she screamed. And screamed.

I tried everything to comfort her. For an hour. Finally I gave up and put her in her crib and figured she’d eventually settle herself down to sleep.

She didn’t.

[Aside: Somewhere during the screaming, I got a, “Hey, how’s your evening going?” text from The Guy.
I texted back: “Teenagers should be forced to come to my house right now as an on-site demo of why they need to use birth control.”
Him: “Oooh, that good, huh?”]

After listening to Lucy scream for another half-hour (so, 90 minutes of screaming total), I called my mom. Both of my parents came over.

Catie was still awake, because it’s impossible to put her to bed while Lucy is up (plus, how could I expect her to sleep with ALL OF THE SCREAMING in the house?). So my parents showed up, and my mom put Catie to bed, while my dad paced Lucy around the house until she fell asleep.

(And yes, I had tried that exact pacing trick myself, and it had not worked for me. But my dad is the only person that Lucy wants right now.)

I took a shower while my parents put my kids to bed, then I came downstairs, sat on the couch, and burst into tears.

So, apparently when things are bad enough, even the Lexapro can’t hold the tears back.

I just felt like the most epic failure of a single parent. My 5 year-old thinks that I don’t love her, and I can’t even comfort my own baby to sleep.

I don’t know if I have made it through an entire weekend, ever, without calling in backup to some extent, and it’s usually my parents. I feel like I dump my kids on them all the time, and even though I know that’s not really true, and hell, they moved up here for the express purpose of helping me with the kids, it still feels shitty.

So many people tell me that they admire how I’m handling being a single mom, or that I kick ass at this, or whatever, and I just don’t see it. My ex-husband moved 3,000 miles away. What choice did I have in the matter except to deal with it? It’s not admirable, it’s just basic survival. I feel like I’m half-assing it at best, and on days like yesterday, I’m white-knuckling it until bedtime.

I try not to use the f-word on my blog, but really? I fucking hate it. There are two of them and only one of me, I feel like I will never be able to be “enough” for both of them. I keep hoping it will get easier when they get older, but I also know that just presents a whole different set of issues, and I’m not prepared for any of it.

It sucks, basically, is what I’m saying.

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I tweeted about it last night, and I got a lot of awesome responses because I have a fantastic online support system, and I cannot even begin to express how grateful I am for that. Really, you guys rock.

The Guy offered to come over and rub my feet, which was very sweet, but he lives a half-hour away, and no way was I staying awake that long.

I thought, oh, you know, it’ll all be better tomorrow after I get some sleep.

Then Lucy woke up 3 times last night.

Sigh.

I wish I had some cute, funny way to tie this up, but I don’t. I’m exhausted and I feel like hell.

I know it’ll be ok eventually. I know this. But for now, I’m bracing myself for another half-assed day at this whole single parenting thing.

Lucy at One

Dear Lucy,

Yesterday, you turned one year old.

This is a happy birthday baby right here.

I suppose I should’ve written this post yesterday, but Mommy was a little bit distracted with her friends being in town.

You see, baby, you won’t understand this until you’re a lot older, but this past year? Has probably been one of the hardest and longest years of my life. And that’s not your fault at all, that’s just life. But this was the week that I needed my friends around me to help me celebrate the fact that I survived this past year.

Lucky for you (and your sister), this means that you get a whole bunch of bonus honorary aunties who absolutely adore you.

It's @amazinggreis and the birthday girl.

Sometimes they even bring you Abby Cadabby dolls for your birthday.

A few months ago, someone (I won’t say who, it doesn’t really matter) unthinkingly told me that I shouldn’t have had you, because your birth happened right around the same time that your dad and I separated. That blew my mind.

Obviously, if I’d had a crystal ball and knew how things would play out, then no, I probably wouldn’t have wanted to get pregnant with you, because being a single parent to one kid is hard enough, let alone two. But now that you’re here? I cannot imagine our lives without you in it.

Lucy splishing and splashing.

You are just pure light and joy and laughter and sunshine. You probably helped me through this past year more than anything else. You showed me that I can handle pretty much anything.

One year old seems pretty young, but in so many ways, you’re already becoming a big girl. For one thing, you can communicate like crazy. You point at whatever you want and say, “Dat?”

When I get you from your crib in the morning, you point at the door and say, “Ba?” I know that means you want to go downstairs and have a bottle.

You call your sister, “Tay-tee.” She loves that. She loves YOU, even though she’s already getting cranky about having to share her toys with you.

Day 1: morning. TGIF, y'all. #photoadayjune

You know your grandfather is Pop-Pop (although you say it more like Bop-Bop). You call your Mimi, “Meemuh.” You even know the cat’s name – every morning, you say, “Hi, Buh-muh” to Beaumont.

You sometimes call me Mama, but it’s rare. It’s ok, though, because I know when you want me.

Right now, Pop-Pop is your favorite person in the world. When I take you to their house, you lunge out of my arms toward him. He spoils you rotten, he carries you around all the time; he knows you’ll fuss if he sets you down, so he just doesn’t. He lets you nap on him and insists he can’t possibly put you down in the Pack & Play to sleep.

Wearing Mardi Gras beads & Pop-Pop's MS State hat. And no pants. As you do.

You cry when he carries you out to my car because you know that means it’s time to leave Mimi and Pop-Pop’s house.

You’re sooooo close to walking, but you can get where you need to go by crawling at top speed for now. I’m reasonably certain you’re going to figure it out sometime in the next month.

Lucy & Beaumont are workout buddies. (It was unplugged, I promise.)

You are just so delightful. I cannot believe in the past year, you’ve gone from being this wide-eyed tiny newborn…

Lucy late at night

…to this sweet baby girl with a million miles of personality.

HI EVERYBODY I'M ONE TODAY AND I FEEL LIKE YELLING ABOUT IT.

We love you so much, my sweet Lucy-girl, Lulubelle, Little Lulu. Happy first birthday.

Love,
Mama

pre-birthday

Warning: picture-heavy post ahead…

This past weekend was the only weekend in May that both my sister and brother could come to town, so we decided to have a little “pre-birthday” for Lucy.

She won’t actually be one year old until May 31st, but hey. What does she know about birthdays? She doesn’t care. And besides: CUPCAKES!!

We stripped her down to her diaper and put a sheet on the floor, thinking she’d make a giant mess.

Only, she didn’t. Make a mess, that is.

She was kind of just confused.

Lucy is all, "Um, what the heck is THAT?"

(Side note: The amount of baby chub in these pictures just about kills me dead. Y’all have no idea how often I kiss that belly. Pretty much constantly.)

She gave the frosting a little taste.

First taste of frosting

Then she decided, that eh, she’d had enough, and she wanted to go crawl off and see what other kind of trouble she could get into. Maybe smear some of those cupcake crumbs on her lips onto something valuable. Like her aunt Tracy’s “dry clean only” clothes.

Deciding she'd had enough of the cupcake, thanks anyway. I'll just crawl off & see what's over there.

(I’m starting to realize that she’s totally going to be a redhead, isn’t she? I’m going to have a redhead named Lucy. I DIE FROM THE CUTENESS!!)

Meanwhile, Catie decided she’d “help” Lucy out by opening all of her presents.

"What do you mean all these presents aren't for me??"

BUSTED.

Basically, the entire thing was good practice for ten days from now (10!! OMG!!) when she actually does turn one year old.

My brother and sister left on Sunday. But not before I got this picture, which I think might be my favorite picture of my brother and one of his nieces ever:

Lucy's like, "Uh, who is this guy and why did you hand me over to him?"

I want to write little cartoon thought bubbles next to their heads.
My brother: WTF do I do with this kid??
Lucy: Who is this guy and why did you hand me over to him??

Catie was sad about them leaving, because she adores my siblings. Which is sweet, but it makes it hard when the visits inevitably end.

So my dad and I decided to distract her. We loaded up the girls and took them to the Got To Be NC Festival, which is like a slightly smaller version of the state fair.

(This was my first year actually going to the festival myself. Last year, my cousin took Catie to it while I thought I was going into labor. Spoiler! I wasn’t going into labor. Lucy had to be forcibly evicted. Freaking stubborn children of mine.)

They had pony rides. Catie immediately stopped being sad about my brother and sister leaving.

Catie on a pony ride

(Also, when did she get SO TALL?!!)

Overall it was a really great weekend. Fun with my family, great weather, great food, and homemade cupcakes. Oh, and I’m not 9 months pregnant this year. Yay! Can’t really beat that.

Mother's Day 2012

This evening, I started thinking about how this Mother’s Day ranks in contrast to prior years.

I think last year might’ve been my worst Mother’s Day ever. I was nine months pregnant and my marriage was falling apart. Pretty hard to get worse than that, right?

By comparison, this year, my entire Mother’s Day weekend was really fun. And although I didn’t take nearly enough pictures of it, I’ve been thinking about all of the little moments from this weekend that I want to remember, and wishing I had snapshots of them.

These are my top ten snapshot moments that I want to remember (in chronological order, not order of importance… that’s just how my brain works).

1. Spontaneously deciding to take the girls to the playground with my dad on Saturday afternoon. The look on Lucy’s face in the swing. The look on Catie’s face the whole time.

2. Catie going for a sleepover at my parents’ house on Saturday night. She spent the afternoon and evening gardening with my mom. (Her report of it, later? “Mommy, we put POOP on the tomato plants!!” Ahh, thank you, fertilizer.)

3. Watching Lucy enjoy being the center of my attention for a few hours, and not having to share any toys whatsoever with her big sister.

That's her, "mama, you so crazy" look,
One of the only pictures I took. That face she’s giving me just cracks me up.

4. My “friend” (because I don’t know what else to call him) who came over on Saturday night and brought me flowers (“Because you’re a mom, and moms are supposed to have flowers on Mother’s Day”). He even knew to bring tulips, because they’re my favorite. He also brought me mango and dark chocolate, and he snuggled up on the couch with me and rubbed my shoulders while we watched a movie.

5. Deciding on Sunday morning to get Lucy and myself dressed, head to Fresh Market, buy some expensive-yet-OMG-delicious pastries, and take them to my parents’ house to surprise them.

6. Taking a nap with Lucy in my parents’ guest room while Catie and my mom planted more flowers in the yard.

7. Listening to Catie’s happy sing-song voice outside as I fell asleep.

8. Going to dinner with my parents, because my mom and I both decided that we weren’t cooking on Mother’s Day. The kids were both so, so good in the restaurant, which is freakishly rare. (Usually you’ll have one good one while the other melts down. It almost never happens that they’re both good at the same time.)

9. After bathtime, dancing around my bedroom to “Rumor Has It” by Adele with my girls. Catie and I both singing along to the song, while Lucy giggled and squealed with delight when I bounced her around to the beat.

(For the record, “Set Fire to the Rain” is Catie’s favorite Adele song. Which is kind of hilarious, to hear a 5 year-old sing a completely tortured love song. But she rocks out to it, and I love it.)

10. At bedtime, Catie hugging and kissing me and telling me that she missed me while she was at Mimi and Pop-Pop’s house, and that she was glad to be back home. And then immediately asking if she could spend the night at their house again soon.

Overall, yeah, this Mother’s Day pretty much kicked last year’s ass.

I hope all of my mama friends out there had equally fantastic Mother’s Days this year. Because God knows y’all all earned it.

six things for Friday afternoon

Ok, I have to get that picture of Alice Cooper off the top of my blog.

So! Moving on! Here’s a bunch of random kid stuff.

1. Words of wisdom from my 5 year-old: “In China, they eat their food with Chapsticks.”

There is a very important vowel distinction that needs to be made there.

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2. She also informed me, after watching perhaps one too many episodes of Dinosaur Train, that she is an omnivore.

“That means that I eat both meat AND vegetables.”

Why, yes. Yes it does. Slow down, kiddo. You’re getting too smart. Kindergarten doesn’t even start for another 2 months.

(Related: holy crap, she starts kindergarten in 2 months!!)

I can almost never get a picture of Catie smiling for the camera. Victory!
(No reason for this picture except I can never get one of her smiling at the camera.)

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3. Speaking of my kids growing up too fast, this just started happening.

So, this is happening. Holy Moses.

That right there is an 11 month-old baby, walking. And yeah, ok, she needs to use her little push car for support and balance, but still. WALKING. I am so completely not prepared for this.

And look how pleased she is with herself!

Did ya see me walking with the car, mama? Did ya?

KNOCK IT OFF, LUCY!!

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4. Maybe because of the almost-walking milestone, or teething, or maybe it’s just a standard-issue sleep regression, but Lucy’s sleeping habits lately have been horrific. A couple of nights ago, she was awake every hour from when she went to bed (at 8:30 p.m.) until 3 a.m. And you know, I don’t get to take a day off work just because I’m tired, so that was awful.

At some point, I decided that I just couldn’t take it anymore and I left her to cry it out in her crib. It was after midnight, and I hadn’t had a chance to take a shower because she’d been awake so much. I figured that in the 10 minutes it takes me to shower, surely she’d give up and fall asleep, right?

She was still screaming when I got out of the shower. I gave up and walked into her room. The smell hit me before I even turned on a light, and I knew (even in the dark) that she’d puked. And yep, I was right, she’d screamed so much that she made herself barf. Fabulous.

Because, you know, cleaning up a puke-soaked sobbing baby and changing crib sheets is TOTALLY what you want to do at 1 a.m.

(Plus side? Catie slept through all of it. Small favors and all that.)

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5. Last night, I had a really hard time getting Lucy to sleep (again) and she was up until almost 10 p.m. But, once she was out, she actually slept all night. So, I guess we could call that an improvement? Maybe we turned a corner? Fingers crossed.

I have to say I find both of my kids to be way cuter and more endearing after they let me get a full night’s sleep.

Even if this morning, Lucy did crawl over to me to give me a kiss, and she Alicia Silverstone’d me with a mouth full of chewed-up Cheez-Its.

Kids are disgusting creatures, man.

(And yes, I used Alicia Silverstone’s name as a verb. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google it. And prepare to be grossed out.)

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6. One baby milestone that I fully endorse?

This self-feeding thing is my favorite. She's all, "It's cool, mama. I got this."
“It’s cool, mama. I got this.”

Self-feeding FTW! This has got to be my most favorite thing ever.

Yeah, alright, I guess I’ll keep her around. For now.