There’s something pretty major happening right now that I want to blog about, but I also have to be careful of how I choose my words, because some people who read my blog seem to have a way of twisting things around.
The short version? It appears that Dave is moving back to North Carolina. Like, right now as I’m typing this, he’s driving from Seattle back to Raleigh.
There’s a lot of backstory here, and a lot of things that led him to make this decision, but those are his personal reasons and I don’t feel like it’s appropriate for me to get into all of it. It’s one thing for me to blog about all of my own personal issues, but it’s not really fair for me to talk about someone else’s.
Boundaries, you know. I’m working on them.
This obviously means a change to our custody arrangements, since right now it’s sort of a gray, nebulous “he can visit with the kids when he’s in town” phrasing, and if he’s going to be local, we need a more concrete visitation schedule in place. We’re still working on that.
He found an apartment here, in the complex that is quite literally across the street from me. It’s a big apartment complex, and the specific unit he’s renting won’t have a direct view of my house or anything, but it’s a walkable distance. I’m not sure how I feel about that – convenient, yes, but also maybe a little *too* close? I guess we’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.
I have a lot of mixed feelings about all of this. My fears are things like, how will the kids adjust to this new situation? And what if Dave is only here long enough for the kids to get used to having him around, and until Lucy really bonds with him, and then he moves away again? Then I’ll have to play grief counselor for two kids instead of just one.
And also, I’ve gotten really used to being the solo parent on the scene. Sure, Chris helps out, and so do my parents, but ultimately I’m the one in charge who calls all the shots and makes the rules. I don’t think it’ll be very easy for me to shift into more of a co-parenting setup. I have some… hmm, how to phrase it nicely?… “control issues.” Especially when it comes to my girls. That whole “mama bear” thing, you know. You don’t want to get between me and my cubs.
On the positive side, though, it means the girls get to have their dad in their lives. Which is absolutely, unquestionably a good thing for them. And selfishly, it means I’ll actually get some time off to relax and do my own non-Mommy stuff. Which is sort of mind-boggling. What will I do? Take up a hobby? Learn a craft? Or just watch Netflix and sleep? (Hint: probably Netflix and sleep.)
I think the good outweighs the bad here. Or at least I hope it will. Ultimately, I can’t control what Dave does or doesn’t do – I stopped having any say in that matter a long, long time ago. All I can do is try to help my girls adjust to this new change, and hope that it all works out for the best. And I really, truly hope that it will.
Dave and I had to go to mediation yesterday, which probably sounds very dramatic, but in reality, it wasn’t at all. We’ve been using a temporary order for custody and child support since we separated, but we needed to make some minor changes to it, and since Dave lives on the west coast, it’s a lot easier to hire a private mediator to sort this stuff out, rather than get a court date, which would likely occur when he isn’t in town for it.
So, we found a mediator. I sat in his office, and we had Dave on via video conference. And we hashed things out.
And it occurred to me that, for all of the stuff we’ve been through, we’re sort of… fine now. Sure, there’s a lot of bad stuff that happened in the past, and I doubt we’ll ever be what you’d qualify as “friends.” But we’re alright. That was kind of a startling realization to have, believe it or not. I think it’s because we both know enough people (through friends, family, and co-workers) who’ve had really terribly ugly divorces, and we’re both trying our best to not end up like that.
And really, even with these very minor changes that we made to our agreement, there were some very hard conversations that took place yesterday. Which I knew was going to happen, and I sort of went into the mediator’s office ready for a fight. But even though there were times when we vehemently disagreed, we stayed respectful. We never yelled. We never said anything nasty to/about each other. I’d say, “Well, no, I don’t think that’s right because… (whatever),” and he’d counter with his side, but it never got ugly or mean-spirited.
And even though his parenting style is totally different than mine, and we disagree on a lot (oh man, A LOT) of things as far as how the kids are raised? I do know that we’re both doing what we feel is best for the girls and we’re trying to work together for their best interests. And I have to think that even though we approach these issues from completely opposing viewpoints, the fact that he and I both love Catie and Lucy, and that we want what’s best for them? That’s going to be the thing that helps our girls most, in the long run.
So, hey, maybe we won’t ever be friends. But we’re ok. And that’s a hell of a lot better than I ever thought I’d be able to say.
It feels like there’s been a lot going on lately that I haven’t blogged about. Not even intentionally, I just haven’t gotten around to it.
Like, for example, Dave’s been here for the past 10 days. He’s making a real effort to be around more for the girls, and I appreciate it. These past couple of visits have been completely calm and drama-free, which is a huge relief.
This trip was also the first time that he kept both kids overnight (usually he only keeps Catie because I’ve been so worried about Lucy and her high-maintenance ways). One of the nights that he kept both kids, I slept for 11 hours. It was freaking magical, let me tell you.
Of course, he left this morning and I’m worried about the fallout, especially for Catie. Yesterday when I went to pick her up from daycare, she saw me and immediately burst into tears. I told her that Daddy was going to come over that night (last night) to say goodbye before he left, and she cried harder and said that she wouldn’t tell him goodbye so he couldn’t leave. She said that she wanted to move to Seattle with him.
This was also the first time that Lucy really seemed to notice Dave’s presence (or lack thereof). A couple of times, Dave took only Catie with him and left Lucy with me, and Lucy would grab her jacket and run to the door. She’d stand there and cry when they left without her, while I tried to console her.
Basically? These kids are breaking my heart. This isn’t something I can fix for them, even though I wish like hell that I could.
He’ll be back at Christmas, which isn’t that far from now, but how do you explain that to a little kid who can’t really grasp things like days versus weeks?
My sister is coming to town this weekend, so that should be a good distraction.
I want them to have a relationship with their dad. And I think my job is basically to facilitate that and make these transitions as smooth as possible.
I just really want those happy faces back. Hopefully it won’t take too long until we’re back in our normal groove. And hopefully, as time goes on, each subsequent visit will require less and less readjustment time afterward. I can dream, right?
My head is kind of a mess of different things right now, and I feel like I should blog since it’s been a week. (I know y’all probably don’t care, but when I look at my archives and see barely anything written, it tends to be because those are the times when my brain was too preoccupied to say anything.) So, a few random things happening here.
* Dave is in town for a visit. He hadn’t seen the girls since March, so I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was quite honestly a knot of anxiety about the whole thing. Six months is a long time, especially when you’re a little kid. So far, it’s going pretty smoothly. Catie is obviously thrilled to see him. And Lucy didn’t really remember him, but she warmed up to him quickly, probably (at least partially) thanks to sibling rivalry. (Catie is sitting on someone’s lap? Lucy wants to be on that person’s lap too, dammit.)
So, it’s fine, but it’s also a weird topic that I don’t really feel comfortable talking about here. I’m bracing myself for next weekend when he leaves, because that’s essentially when I have to go into grief counselor mode for Catie. It’s going to suck, but it is what it is and there isn’t much I can do about it, other than to try to keep her routines in place so she feels as safe and secure in her world as possible. Which is what I do anyway.
[Ok, fine, here’s where I’ll be snarky and admit that when he texted me to tell me that he took both kids to IHOP yesterday and the food took an hour and both kids had simultaneous meltdowns in the middle of the restaurant? Yes, I did derive a tiny bit of satisfaction out of that. If that makes me a petty, horrible person, so be it. Also, later on, Lucy puked on him, but it was at my house and I had to clean up the floor, so that was less funny. Still, it did feel a little bit like, “Oh hey, welcome to MY world, buddy!”]
* I took advantage of the kids’ time with Dave this weekend to try to reorganize the house and clean out my office. That was possibly the most gratifying thing I’ve done in a long, LONG time. I made about 6 trips to the recycle bin and hauled out a couple of giant lawn-size hefty bags of trash. It felt so good to unload all of that stuff. I keep looking around my office and feeling like a weight has been lifted off of me. I can now watch “Hoarders” without nervously looking around my own house. It’s very freeing.
* Lucy. My god. This child.
She is how I know without a doubt that I’m done having babies, because I am quite certain that I would never survive another toddler. The tantrums and the drama, plus the fact that she still doesn’t consistently sleep through the night, and she howls every time I try to put her in her car seat… it’s like somebody crossed a newborn with the terrible two’s and came up with this hellspawn hybrid demon baby-toddler.
But then, you know, she’s also a toddler, and therefore completely hilarious.
I took this picture because I wanted to capture THAT TUMMY. Which I kiss about a million times a day. And when I say, “Lucy, where’s your tummy?” She pulls up her shirt and rubs her little Buddha-belly like she’s all proud of it, and it makes me sad that we don’t keep those body image ideals as we get older. She’ll outgrow that tummy someday, and I’ll be heartbroken when she does.
Also, one of my friends pointed out that in that picture, she looks like a tiny David Lee Roth. And she totally does, except I think Lucy might have more hair on top than ol’ David Lee has these days.
* On a sad note, my great uncle Numa passed away last week. It wasn’t a surprise, and we’re all relieved that he isn’t in pain anymore. I don’t really have the words to sum up my uncle Numa here. There’s a really nice obituary that covers what an amazing career he had. (How many people can say that the guy who played Newman on Seinfeld played them in a movie? Random, right?) I knew him as the guy who was completely smitten with his wife, my great aunt Connie, even after 50 years of marriage. He was hilariously funny and told the greatest stories.
He had been ill for a very long time, and he hadn’t wanted visitors around when he was sick, so I hadn’t seen him in a long time. I remember in 2004, when Dave and I were still just dating, we were in New Orleans at Christmas, and I called Numa. I don’t remember why I called him, I think I was asking him for a restaurant recommendation. But that was the last time I spoke with him. At the end of our chat, I remember him saying, “Darlin’, if you get into trouble in the Quarter tonight, just tell the cops my name and they’ll take care of you.” Always good to have a name you can drop when you get arrested for drunk & disorderly on Bourbon Street, right?
He was a wonderful man who’ll be very missed by so many.
* It was 50 degrees outside when I woke up this morning. The high today is 72. Hey there, September, you’re looking lovely.
Well, this is probably going to be depressing, but it seems to be my annual tradition…
1. What did you do in 2011 that you’d never done before?
Got separated. Hired a divorce attorney. A lot of other things I’d rather not remember.
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I just checked last year’s meme, and this was my resolution:
Sometime in late spring/early summer, I plan to deliver a happy, healthy, preferably human baby. Let’s see how it goes!
So, yeah. I did that. Yay me! I didn’t make any other resolutions.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
ME! Plus about a hundred or so other friends and family members.
4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, my dad’s cousin (sort of like an uncle to me). He was a very sweet man, and he’ll be very missed.
5. What countries did you visit?
Huh. I’m not even sure if I left the state of North Carolina this year.
6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Stability. Calmness. Serenity. Less drama. Two kids who sleep through the night in their own damn beds. Little things.
7. What dates from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
May 31st – Lucy was born.
August 9th – Dave and I separated.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
I went from a temp employee at my job to a permanent employee in February. That was a pretty big deal at the time.
9. What was your biggest failure?
My marriage. Enough said.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Nothing major, no.
11. What was the best thing you bought?
Technically my health insurance paid for it, but I’m going to say it was the epidural when I had Lucy.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My mom. I hope that my kids grow up and know that 35 years from now, if they need me, they can call me and I’ll drop everything to be there for them. If that ends up being true, I’ll consider myself a successful parent.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I refuse to answer this for legal purposes. If you know the inside scoop on my life, you can probably guess.
14. Where did most of your money go?
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The arrival of Lucy. The sale of my house.
16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Most stuff by Bruno Mars. For this reason.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you: a) happier or sadder? Most definitely sadder. But optimistic because I know it’s temporary. b) thinner or fatter? Well, I’m not pregnant anymore, so I guess I’m thinner. c) richer or poorer? Poorer. So much poorer.
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Traveling. Reading books. Doing fun stuff with my girls.
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Moping. Yelling. Crying.
20. How did you spend Christmas?
At home with Catie, Lucy, my parents, and my siblings. It was really nice.
21. Did you fall in love in 2011?
No. Sort of the opposite, in fact.
Unless you count falling in love with your kids, because…
My god, yes. Them.
22. What was your favorite TV program?
Not sure I had one. Probably Hoarders.
23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
See question 13 – no comment.
24. What was the best book you read?
I don’t think I finished a single book that I started this year.
25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Piano Guys. Who knew I’d ever have an obsession with the cello?
26. What did you want and get by year’s end?
My parents moved here. We sold our house. I found a rental house for me and the girls.
27. What did you want and not get by year’s end?
A sense of closure.
28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I’m suddenly completely blank. Did I see any movies this year that weren’t animated? I mean, I took Catie to see “Gnomeo and Juliet” and “Rio,” but those aren’t on my list of fine quality films, so… yeah. I don’t know.
29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 35. I don’t think we did anything since I was pregnant and miserable.
30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
If my marriage hadn’t fallen apart, that would’ve been nice.
31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Total lack of fashion, all functional. I’m working on fixing that, though. I bought some cute boots as a Christmas gift to myself, and my goal is to try to take the time to make myself feel cute, because I feel a lot better about myself when I do.
32. What kept you sane?
It’s probably bad to answer this question with Lexapro, but… yes. Lexapro.
Also, my friends and family who let me vent whenever I needed to. Y’all know who you are. And you’re awesome.
33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I will admit that I have a huge crush on Matt Paxton, the extreme cleaning guy on Hoarders. Because I love the idea of a man who knows how to clean up after himself. That Corey dude isn’t too shabby either.
34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Probably the Amendment 26 vote in Mississippi. It’s my home state and I still get worked up about a lot of political issues there. This is one of the few times one of their elections turned out the way it should have.
35. Who did you miss?
I missed my Grandmother a lot this year. She’s Lucy’s namesake, and sometimes I look at my two girls and think about how much she would have adored them. She died 15 years ago, and I still miss her. My sister and I wore some of her jewelry to church on Christmas Eve this year.
36. Who was the best new person you met?
My new friend Tanya, another single mom at Catie’s daycare, who has been an invaluable resource to me over the past few months. It helps to have a friend who’s been through all of this stuff before, and survived to tell the tale.
37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011.
Sometimes the people you thought you knew the best, turn out to be complete strangers to you.
Also, I can survive a lot more than I ever thought I could. Who knew?
38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
“Soap and water
Take the day from my hand,
Scrub the salt from my stinging skin,
Slip me loose of this wedding band.”
— Suzanne Vega, “Soap and Water”
(Yeah. I told you this was going to be depressing. Sorry.)
So, happy new year everybody. Let’s hope 2012 is far, far better than 2011.
Overall, I think I’m doing ok. I get through my days. I’m doing a pretty good job at work, apparently. My manager is pleased with what I’m doing. And I’m lucky that I love my job enough that I can sort of immerse myself in various projects and forget about everything in my “real life” for hours at a time. That helps a lot.
But Lucy still isn’t sleeping, so I’m tired a lot. And I worry about Catie. I’m so glad my mom is here, because it keeps me from feeling lonely. We watch TV together, plan meals together, that kind of thing. It’s nice.
So, you know, I feel like I’m getting by ok.
And then, suddenly, I’ll be hit with this wave of sadness so hard that it feels like I’m drowning in it. The other night it hit me because I caught myself starting to fiddle with my wedding ring, only to realize it isn’t there anymore. (I do that a lot. I never realized how often I touched it every day until I stopped wearing it.) (I took it off the day after he moved out. I know some people take a long time before they can take off their wedding rings. I… needed to not look at it anymore, if that makes sense.)
I don’t want him back. Really, I don’t. The past several months have been so awful, there’s no way I would voluntarily go back to that. I don’t like roller coasters – literal or emotional – and now that he’s gone, things feel calmer. More steady. And that’s what I need right now, both for myself and for my girls.
And I’m realizing all kinds of things about myself now that I never realized. Like the fact that I bottled up so many things for years, because I hated the idea of conflict, and I never wanted to fight. Now it’s all sort of exploding out of me. I don’t think I could go back to bottling it up again if I tried. I’m feeling sort of like the Pandora’s box of emotions, to use a really bad analogy.
But even though I don’t want him back, sometimes I still miss him. We had these inside jokes, as you do when you live with someone for over six years. We made each other laugh a lot. I miss that. I miss the connection.
And yet… Sometimes I can envision what my life is going to be like in the future. And it’s not the future I had in mind at all, but I see myself with my girls, and I see us in our own little house, doing our own thing. Going on outings and vacations together, just the three of us. And I know we’re going to be ok. I really do know that.
Today, I’m meeting with a divorce attorney for the first time.
My heart is broken.
I don’t usually blog about the bad stuff when it happens. Mainly because so many people in my family read this site, but also because I worry about my girls growing up and reading this stuff someday. I worry about what they’ll think of it.
And oh God, y’all. My girls. My heart hurts more for them than it does for myself. I feel like I failed them. My parents have been married for over 40 years, it never even occurred to me when I got married that it might not last forever. That just wasn’t an option in my mind.
I don’t want to get into details or place blame. A lot of things went wrong. And they’ve been going wrong for a while. I don’t want this, but the decision isn’t entirely up to me.
This is, without a doubt, the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Please keep us in your thoughts, as I imagine that things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.